Our dirt bikes bring all the boys to the yard. Damn right, they're better than yours.

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Let's Learn About History!

Dan sent this to me today, and I have to agree with him that this is pretty much the greatest piece of art ever created in the history of humankind. It comes from this site, which also hosts some pretty bizarre comics. Thanks, Dan!

Monday, January 22, 2007

Adventures in Real Estate

Buying a condo earlier this year – actually owning the place you live! – was weird enough in an "am I grown up enough for this?" sort of way, but not as strange, it seems, as the world of real estate in general. The agent who scored us our condo -- Robert -- is half of a husband and wife team that take the whole customer service thing to the next level. (This is good, especially considering it was the easiest sale he probably ever made – first place we looked, right across the street from our old apartment, almost no haggling.) After getting the place, they sent us a big basket of home stuff as a house warming present, then, later, a letter with a Blockbuster gift certificate and some microwave popcorn, and, at Christmas, another big ass gift basket. Strange and unexpected, but pretty sweeeeet; and I’m now feeling a sense of entitlement. Any day now I expect a letter from IGA asking how the fish sticks I bought last month are working out for me, and thanking me with a free bag of Skittles or something.
Free stuff must be a particularly effective useful device in real estate, because this weekend we ended up driving to the other end of Toronto for a “party” thrown by Robert and his wife, where the big draw was a draw for a free cruise for two. Normally, I couldn’t be bothered to roll off the couch for a draw, but we decided to go because friends Geoff and Andrea were going to check it out (they referred us to Robert and thereby earned themselves an extra ballot), it seemed like a good excuse to hit our favourite east end Indian restaurant afterwards and, well, mostly it’d be good for a laugh.
This whole real estate freebie thing really took on some weight as, while driving, we passed the sign pictured above, which reads, “The Real Estate Viewing Centre” and in smaller print underneath: “Free Popsicles!” It’s all part of a whacky business plan, which you can read more about here. I guess they expect to sell a lot of condos to broke teenagers.
Anyhow, we continued onward to the very large and fancy Dominion grocery store where the party was taking place, in a rented room upstairs. We parked beside a car with two dogs in it and the stereo playing, presumably to keep them occupied or at least in the loop as to where John Mayer is charting these days. That kind of neighbourhood.
Inside it was punch, snacks, plastic lays for the ladies and impatient couples, perhaps because many of the men were overheating in their Cosby sweaters. Eventually Robert hauled out one of those little hand-cranked lottery ball baskets and the big contest was under way. To up the excitement, ten balls were drawn, representing the semi-finalists, from which the final winner would be picked. Geoff and Andrea made it into the semis, but alas, there dreams were torn asunder.
The best part of the whole affair was the photographer standing around wearing a “Press” badge. He looked appropriately sad for a man crushed under the lowest rung of his chosen profession, but snapped away like a champ anyhow, hopefully getting just the right shot for the front page of The East Toronto Real Estate Weekly Reader or whatever. Poor fucker.
So, is this the real cost of owning a place – driving across town to eat chicken nuggets and hopefully win a cruise? It was a nice gesture on the real estate agents’ part, and really more of an excuse to hit up Little India, but was ever I glad to leave that strange trip behind. On the way out we thanked Robert’s wife – whose name, I still didn’t catch – and joked about passing The Real Estate Viewing Center. She smiled and told us they were thinking of opening up an office in the area, but they’d be giving away ice cream. I’m fairly certain she was serious, too. The lesson here is: never underestimate your real estate agent – they’ve got all the angles covered. And the other lesson is don't leave music on in your car for your dogs -- it makes you look like an asshole.