Monday is municipal election day in Ontario and I hope you get out there and vote!

I live in Tiny Township, and this year voting was done through Vote By Mail ballots.  I found that out on Friday.  I have never voted in a municipal election in Tiny, so I was not on the voter list and did not receive a Voter Information Package.  I called the Tiny Township office on Friday to ask where the polls were going to be held on Monday and I was simply told that it was Vote By Mail this year.  I said that it was obviously too late for me to vote by mail (because there is a reason they call it snail mail), so I asked what to do instead.  I was told that on election day (Monday), I can get a ballot at the Tiny Township office and put it in their ballot box.  So the Tiny Township office is the one and only polling station then?  That doesn't sound good.

Maybe it is because I am used to casting my vote in Toronto, but it seems like a really bad idea to only have one venue for voting.  Tiny Township has over 18,000 residents who are eligible to vote.  Is there enough space for everyone who will be coming to vote?  Does the township office have a room to vote in?  Is there enough staff to assist people?  I imagine they are assuming that most people mailed in their ballots and that people casting their vote at the office will just be those who aren't on the voters list.  Unfortunately, if the people I know are an example of Tiny voters, I think there are going to be plenty of confused people at the township office on Monday.

Two people I know who are on the voter list and got a Voting Information Package in the mail, didn't even open the envelope.  They both assumed they didn't have to care about it until election day.  That seems fair to me.  People are really apathetic about voting in general (voter turnout is less than 50%), so I don't think it is too much of a stretch to think that people wouldn't give a shit about their Voting Information Package until the day they thought they had to (election day!).  I didn't even care about asking where to vote until the Friday before the Monday election, and I think voting is really important!  Who knows how many people just left their ballots in a pile of mail on their kitchen table, only to open them sometime this weekend and not understand what to do?

Another person I know received their voting package and opened it, but thought the information about voting by mail was just that - information.  They assumed they could take their ballot to the polling station on election day.  I looked over the package.  It does have instructions on how to vote by mail, but it never tells you why you should.  Nowhere does it say: "Hey Look! There is NO POLLING STATION in your area! We want you to vote by mail this year! Please mail this back to vote!!"  A lot of people just expect to do what they did last time (go to a polling station) so unless it is specifically spelled out, I imagine some people just ignored the vote by mail option and assumed there was a polling station somewhere.  I know I thought there was.  Isn't there always a polling station somewhere?

Oh yeah, there is...  The Tiny Township office.  I wonder how full and crazy it is going to be when I get there on Monday?

Even if there are long lines, make sure you get out there and vote!  It is worth it to make sure your voice is heard.

UPDATE:  The township office wasn't all that busy when I went to vote.  There was a steady flow of people dropping off their ballots in person, as well as a few I overheard saying "I just opened it this morning..."  The woman I was behind in line said her parents opened theirs that morning, and if they had known, they would have mailed it last month.  I asked the election clerk how many ballots they got back through the mail and she said it was over 6000.  About 9000 people vote, so that left about a third of voters dropping off their ballots/having to vote at the office.

Posted by Jen B On Sunday, October 24, 2010 1 comment
I had suffient warning before I tried the KFC Double Down.  My brother didn't like it.  My friend James didn't like it.  I had a pretty good idea it was not going to be good or worthwhile.  However I am a craver of pretty disgusting foods from time to time and this had the potential to be a disgusting food that I would enjoy.

The Double Down experience was a let down from the start.  The staff didn't anticipate so many people ordering the sandwich and it took an incredibly long time to prepare.  Believe me, I want my food cooked, but it took over twenty minutes from the time we ordered it to when we were back in the car with our 'sandwich'.  Twenty minutes was too long of a wait for something that was probably going to be gross.  So this kind of doubled our disappointment.

Next was the price.  We got one Double Down sandwich to split, and it was $7.90.  No fries, no drink - just the sandwich for $7.90.  I think that is really expensive, and my frugal brain only let me buy it because it was a novelty and (most likely) a one time thing.  Plus John and I split it - so it was only a $4 extravagance.

So it cost too much and it took to long to make, and when we finally got home to eat it... it was mediocre.  It wasn't as awful as everyone said and it absolutely wasn't as good as it could have been.  It was just mediocre.  And it didn't do much to quash my hunger.  We split the sandwich, so each of us only got half of the 30g of fat and the 1700mg of salt, but even if I had eaten a whole one, it just didn't seem like a lot of food.  Maybe I am biased by the $8 I spent on it, but there are many other things we could have spent $8 on that would not have left me hungry.  And would not have been mediocre.  If I could do it over I would have gotten a rotisserie chicken from the Real Canadian Superstore deli - it's the same price and a hell of a lot more satisfying.

Our Double Let Down

Posted by Jen B On Saturday, October 23, 2010 4 comments
I don't want to alarm anyone, but it snowed here today.

Don't worry, it was nothing like this photo.  The snowflakes today were actually so light that I couldn't capture any on film.  Regardless, it is a bitter reminder that the winter pictured above is coming.  Hopefully not until January, but it is coming.

Anyone know where Summer went?

Posted by Jen B On Thursday, October 21, 2010 No comments
Hundreds of blackbirds were flying around in the backyard this morning.  Kinda made me think of that Alfred Hitchcock movie...

Posted by Jen B On Monday, October 18, 2010 No comments
When I awoke this morning I noticed the car was looking a little slumped to one side and further investigating revealed that the drivers side front tire was completely flat.

First: Thank goodness it was flat at home and didn't happen while I was driving.

Second: I realize I would have no idea how to change a flat tire if it happened to me on the road.

Since I now own a car, I am going to be driving a lot more often, and I need to be prepared for emergency/problem situations that may arise.  I have common sense and I took a driving course (12 years ago...), but I still have some serious learning to do.  Right now I feel like a grandparent who is first learning how to use the computer; I'm worried that everything I do or touch is going to break it somehow.  I need to get over that.

On Friday we thought the tire was low but we didn't bother to check the gauge or fill it up (it was late, I was tired).  I drove it on Saturday and I felt it was pulling to the left (a sign the tire was low), but I still didn't check it.  Then this morning, the tire was flat.  We used a motorized air pump and filled the tire. We waited a few hours to see if we had a fast leak on our hands, but it stayed inflated so we drove to the local gas station and used their heavy duty pump/gauge.  Each of the tires was filled to roughly 32psi (our optimal pressure).

Tonight we drove into town and bought ourselves a digital tire gauge.  I was really hyper about the tire the whole ride there and the whole ride home.  It has continued to stay inflated.  The digital gauge is awesome - this is a necessary technological advancement.
So hopefully our tire issue is just that we drove on a low tire and by neglecting to fill it up on the two days we noticed it, it rebelled by going flat.  Or there is a slow leak and it will have to be fixed.  We tested the gauge of all the tires tonight and we'll test them again tomorrow, so if the one tire does have a leak we should be able to tell.  I have learned my lesson about air in the tires though, and I will happily be checking the gauge regularly.  As for everything else there is to learn about car ownership/car maintenance/emergency car situations, I am reading my owners manual and taking it one day at a time.

UPDATE:  Ten days later and the tire hasn't gone flat again or lost more pressure than any of the other tires.  We've been driving around a lot since then, too.  I went through a phase where I was afraid to use my car because I thought the tire was going to blow up, but it hasn't given me any reason to continue to think that.  So far so good.

Posted by Jen B On Sunday, October 17, 2010 No comments
I am a rather sentimental person and I have been waiting to go for a substantial drive in the new car until I had the proper mix.  This is a major event in my life - it must be honoured with music.  I have also never had a CD Player in a vehicle before, so a killer mix is also required to mark the occasion of my technological advancement.

Songs were selected based on theme (cars, traveling), certain words (driving, miles, road, etc.,) or if I have a specific memory with the song relating to driving (i.e. the song was featured in a movie where someone was driving).  I think it is a stellar mix and am excited to go for a spin with this soundtrack!

First Car Mix

 1. Drive My Car - The Beatles
 2. Cars - Gary Numan
 3. Life is a Highway - Tom Cochrane
 4. Power of Love - Huey Lewis and the News
 5. Kings Highway - Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers
 6. Take it Easy - The Eagles
 7. End of the Line - Traveling Wilburys
 8. Helen Wheels - Paul McCartney and Wings
 9. King of Wishful Thinking - Go West
10. Get Out of My Dreams, Get into My Car - Billy Ocean
11. Highway to Hell - AC/DC
12. Driving Rain - Paul McCartney
13. A Thousand Miles - Vanessa Carlton
14. Groovin' - The Young Rascals
15. Cruisin' - Huey Lewis and Gywneth Paltrow
16. Drive - The Cars
17. One Headlight - The Wallflowers
18. Too Fast Driving - Lisa Loeb
19. Big Yellow Taxi - Counting Crows
20. Casey Jones - The Grateful Dead

Posted by Jen B On Saturday, October 16, 2010 2 comments
The following things were inside the car when I first sat in it as the new owner:

1. Travel pack of Kleenex and car manual in the glove box

2. A quarter in one of the cup holders

3. A matchbook and a dime in the ashtray

4. Snow tires in the trunk (only a year old!)

5. A third tank of gas

6. Freedom

Posted by Jen B On Friday, October 15, 2010 No comments
We bought our first car this week!  We have spent the past while borrowing cars and catching rides, and it is such a relief to have a car of my own!

We bought a 2003 Mazda from a super-nice private seller who was a friend of a friend of a friend (the middle friend was the car's mechanic, so the car had great references!).

Expect some car-centric posts this week - I am really excited about my new wheels! :)

Posted by Jen B On Friday, October 15, 2010 3 comments
My brother Tommy and his wife hosted Thanksgiving on the weekend and as a 'thank you for coming' I got 50 lbs of potatoes!  And not just any potatoes.  These were farmer fresh (picked earlier that day) and grown by Tom himself.  I am a lucky girl.

Now all I have to do is find a way to get through all 50 lbs!!  We already used some for the turkey dinner I made on Monday night, and we are having home made french fries tonight.  Good thing I like potatoes and there are so many ways to prepare them.

What is your favourite way to eat potatoes?

Posted by Jen B On Wednesday, October 13, 2010 2 comments
Enjoyed turkey and Thanksgiving fun with my family yesterday.  On the way to dinner, Mom and I stopped at Zerhs to pick up a pumpkin pie and dinner rolls.  And so did the rest of Barrie apparently.  There were no pumpkin pies on any display table, no dinner rolls on any shelf.  We saw someone asking the guys in the bakery, and they still had a few pumpkin pies in the back.  We scored the third last one.  A few minutes later a man successfully got the very last pumpkin pie in all of the store.  All smiles, he held up his winnings and said: "Twenty bucks! Who wants it?"  He wasn't really trying to sell, but he did make price gouging hilarious!

A little later we asked the bakery guys if they had any dinner rolls in the back.  Not only did they have them, they were fresh and still warm from the oven.  The major bonus of our pie and dinner roll hunt was how happy the guys working in the bakery department were.  They were in their late teens or early twenties, and they seemed to genuinely enjoy so many people asking them for help and then being able to provide what was sought after.  One of the guys even chased down a customer with a pie he found.  What a delight to interact with people who actually like their jobs!

Another bonus? Pumpkin pie tastes amazing.  Happy Thanksgiving everybody!

Posted by Jen B On Monday, October 11, 2010 No comments
Beautiful sunset out there tonight.

Posted by Jen B On Monday, October 04, 2010 No comments
Here's some highlights of the sights at the 2010 Oro World's Fair.  If you notice slight blurriness on the right side of some of the photos, that is compliments of my five year old nephew who put his adorable little fingers right on the lens.  Good thing he's cute.

The midway.
Caramel Popcorn was purchased here!
Local farmer's tractors on display.
Demonstrating how they used to saw logs back in the day.
My nephew Earl checks out a calf.
My sister-in-law won first prize for her 'Hungry Man Lunch' display.
The parade begins with a police escort and the fire department!
Oro-Medonte fire truck.
At this point the parade went to the dogs.

The crowd watches as the tractors join the parade. 
My brother driving my uncle's tractor.
The finale of the parade is the march of all the elementary school students.
W.R. Best was my school and I got to carry the banner in grade 7.  Represent!
The parade ends with the clumping of school children (a.k.a chaos)

Posted by Jen B On Monday, October 04, 2010 No comments
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