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Apply for / renew your Canadian passport faster by filling out the online form

2010 update: Seems like there is no longer and expedited online process. All you can do is fill in a form to print, but it no longer gets you through faster.

Apparently, you can jump the queue at a Canadian passport office by having filled out Passport Canada’s online form first.

People showing up with confirmation of an online application are being served almost immediately when they go to the Passport office. No more waiting in those notoriously long line-ups — you know, the ones where you have to clear your entire morning or afternoon!

Note: What confused me at first was why I’d have to fill in a form as if I was applying for my first passport, even though I’d be technically renewing it. For those who don’t know, Canadian passports are “non-renewable”.

Stash Irish Breakfast Tea in Vancouver BC

August 17th, 2007 update: looks like Choices doesn’t stock it anymore… the search beings anew? :(

December 3rd, 2007 update: it really DOES exist! After a several-month search, I found Stash Irish Breakfast Tea at Choices Markets in New Westminster (Choices At The Crest): 8683 10th Avenue.

First, I e-mailed Stash through its website. In the reply, I was referred to I-D Foods in Coquitlam (135 Glacier Street), which I presume is the retail distributor (that’s probably not the right term, but whatever). So I called up I-D Foods and got some of the best service I’ve ever received in my life. The woman from I-D Foods looked through the order database but couldn’t immediately find the Irish Breakfast Tea variety. She took down my info and called me back the next morning… with a list of possible locations! Case closed!


I’m always on the lookout for cheap apple juice (thinking of switiching from Sun-Rype to Allen’s), cheap citrus flavour mouthwash (Life brand 1L sometimes on special for $1.60! Take that, Listerine!), wheat-free products (check Choices’ Rice Bakery), strawberry-flavoured soy milk (try any snobby, posh grocery store), and Stash Irish Breakfast Tea. The problem is… the last item on that list apparently cannot be found in British Columbia (based on my research)! Grocery stores where I’ve looked:

Shopper’s Drug Mart
Save-On Foods
Superstore / Extra Foods
London Drugs
Nester’s Market
Choices Markets
Urban Fare
Buy-Low Foods

Therefore, if you are looking for it, don’t waste your time at the above places. If you’ve found it somewhere, let me know where!

Pic of Stash Irish Breakfast Tea

There’s always this guy, who sells Stash Irish Breakfast Tea on eBay. And, there’s a more accessible (albeit more expensive) Irish Breakfast Tea by Twinings, if brand isn’t an issue for you.

How to stop killing the earth

I’m becoming more and more of an environmentalist every day. Today I discovered that Wendy’s salads come in recyclable containers, but Wendy’s doesn’t have a recycling receptacle for the containers. So I took the containers home to recycle so that they wouldn’t end up in the garbage. Next I’ll have to come up with a plan to get Wendy’s to do something about this. I don’t want to pick on just Wendy’s, but wow, they are awful with this stuff. Plastic spoons and forks in individually plastic wrappers, heaters blaring on a summer day…

(Update: a reader pointed out correctly that I unfairly singled out Wendy’s. The other fast food chains are no better.)

Let’s actually take action. Let’s stop being ignorant just because it’s easier to do.

Humans seem to have a natural inclination to destroy themselves, others, and the planet (co2 emissions? smoking? greed?). Is it because of willful ignorance? A mentality of “out of sight, out of mind”? Well, whether you need monetary, ethical, or purely social reasons for being more environmentally aware, the rewards are all there.

Here are some simple things you can do to have a “greener” house.

Plastics are a tricky issue. Apparently those recycling codes don’t necessarily mean that your municipality will recycle that type of plastic. Luckily, though, mine accepts all codes of plastic (1 through 7). Also, shrink wraps on CDs and other such media can be recycled (they fall under code 4)!

Try not to care so much about your lawn unless you’re trying to play a baseball game on it… or try not to wash your car so often (heck, wait for it to rain, then head out and scrub!) — in the summer, water usage can account for 40% of total water use (source)

I’m not sure where this post is going. Maybe it’ll slowly evolve.

Origin of the expression “don’t get your panties in a knot”

There are seemingly many variations of this phrase, such as “don’t get your knickers in a knot” and “don’t get your underwear in a bunch”. One might wonder, who in the world came up with this? After all, how would one get one’s underwear twisted in the first place — putting them on too fast? the washing machine did it? And is one walking around all uncomfortable with a wedgie, or is one simply having a difficult time putting on his or her underwear?

So I was hoping for a great story behind this expression (such as the theories behind the expression “white elephant gifts“) but apparently it was just some silliness conjured up by The Basil Brush Show, a British television program that started in the late 60s. From there, the Australians turned the original expression “don’t get your knickers in a twist” into “don’t get your knickers in a knot” (source). Then, of course, the Americans implemented the “panties” term.

Oh, and if the origin described above is wrong, please tell me the real story in the comments to this post!

How to find out what kind of RAM your computer (notebook / laptop or desktop) uses

Often, increasing the amount of memory (RAM) in your computer is the best way to increase its speed (well, along with blocking some programs from starting every time the operating system loads… those sneaky, awful programs!). However, I’ve found it quite confusing with all these new types of RAM as to which type is the one I need. PC2700, SODIMM, DDR2, 200 Pin… what in the world does that stuff mean? I’m not geek enough yet to even want to figure that out, but I know that it’s a bloody hassle to end up buying RAM that’s incompatible with your computer!

If you’ve bought a pre-packaged computer (i.e. if you didn’t build it yourself) here’s a very handy site that can tell you what type of memory your computer has. It has practically every model known to man! I’d been looking for something like this since… forever! Once you’ve found the type of memory you need, you can probably head over to eBay and find something cheap.

If you have a Windows computer, you could also try using the program System Information for Windows, as discussed in this post.