More humiliation than I bargained for

A snapshot of this week's Pharmacy 2 flyer, featuring the attractive (and expired) items in question

When holiday shopping on a tight budget, flyers are a student’s best friend.

That is, unless you live in Rexdale and a local retailer has no problem making you look like a damned fool on Christmas day.

Yesterday, I wandered into Pharmacy 2, a commercial underdog just 2 km North of the big Shoppers Drug Mart on Rexdale. I’d been to its forerunner (the creatively named Pharmacy 1) but hadn’t been back since its renovation and “re-branding.”

When I arrived at Pharmacy 2, I went straight for the Starbucks sets. They were classy, portable and—-at two for $10—-they seemed a real bargain!  Round stickers on the boxes signaled that the sets even contained promotional coupons. I took two home with me and barely made note of the “no return” policy on the items.

Later that night, I sat poised to wrap my great finds. But then, a surge of skepticism hit me. I decided to carefully open the boxes to check the expiry dates on the promotional offer.

To my dismay, the coupons stopped being of any use in June of 2009.

Then I checked the coffee.

The tag said the roasts were best enjoyed before 5/1/2009… which would be great if we weren’t about to celebrate the arrival of 2010.

Awkward scenarios flooded my mind.

If my gift recipients didn’t notice the expiry date on the coffee bag, or the lack of flavour and aroma from the actual coffee, they would surely feel the burn when the barista at Starbucks handed back the expired coupon, coupled with a disdainful “Sorry, but this coupon is no good.”

How embarrassing for everyone. Especially because they probably wouldn’t say anything to me and just assume that I re-gifted in the worst way possible.

So, Pharmacy 2, I think you should plan for what to you’re going to say when your customers–or worse, their picky in-laws and fickle bosses–notice that you’re selling expired coffee and useless coupons. Also, it’s no secret that Rexdale is largely a low-income community. I wonder if you’d pull the ol’ bait and switch in neighbourhoods like Yorkville or Rosedale.

The receipt you gave me is stamped “FINAL SALE” and, insofar as I’m never shopping at your store again, that is the only honest statement on the bill.


I don’t know about cavewomen, but this is what I gather

A day before my interview with the Toronto Star and I’m writing a critical post about one of their articles.

I don’t think this is a bad thing. Actually, I think it’s important for journalists to be honest with one another and to offer constructive criticism. Truth to power, right? Even when directed at specific works by writers with more seniority. (Don’t hate me, Cathal Kelly. I’m just some rookie that calls it like I see it.)

Here goes.

My critique is aimed at this recent article in the Toronto Star: Nature’s laws of shopping: Men hunt, women gather. I hope you read it for context before deciding whether or not you agree with my reservations.


As soon as you set foot in the mall, the friction begins.

She wants to amble around to the Gap, Old Navy, Banana Republic and Roots, but can’t quite remember where any of those stores are. (This will be contradicted later. Wait for it…)

He knows exactly where he’s going and wants to practically run there, get the thing you’re looking for and flee as if the food court were on fire.

Now we know why. (This is way too definitive a statement to blanket the evidence that follows.)

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UBC students disengaged from rezoning row

The Ubyssey has given front page coverage to the rezoning issue

Allie Slemon, a fifth year English student at the University of British Columbia, was surprised to find a strongly worded email from President Stephen Toope in her inbox.

Toope warned of Metro Vancouver’s proposal to regulate academic lands on the Vancouver campus. He said this would be “devastating” to academic freedom and could put a “choke hold” on the university’s future.

Currently, Greater Vancouver’s governing body, known as Metro Vancouver, has the power to regulate family housing property on campus while UBC maintains control over its academic lands.

In November, the city proposed to extend its power to include academic and non-residential buildings through a contentious new zoning bylaw.

The university administration sees this as an invasive threat, while the city maintains it is an overdue update.

Rezoning would change decision-making at the university’s highest levels. But students interviewed said they feel disconnected from the debate surrounding Metro Vancouver’s technical and lengthy proposal, especially if they aren’t already engaged in campus politics.

Toope’s passionate email was not the ideal primer for Slemon.

“In universities we’re taught to read and think critically and to receive this email from the president was kind of an affront to that,” she said. She would have preferred to receive unbiased information that would let her form her own opinion.

Changing face of UBC

Metro Vancouver argues that UBC cannot continue as the sole and unelected supervisor of the use of its academic lands.

“Let me put it in clear terms: we’re not prepared to continue with the status quo,” said Derek Corrigan, the mayor of Burnaby, on behalf of Metro Vancouver.

He argued that the way UBC is run leaves the city in a situation where they are “responsible for things [they’re] not actually in control of.”

“When you chose to have 6000 people living in the neighbourhood, UBC changed, and you have to accept the reality of that,” said Corrigan, addressing UBC administrators at a recent meeting.

The city’s rezoning proposals closely follow the October release of the final draft of the UBC Vancouver Campus plan, which will effectively guide development and decision-making on UBC’s academic lands for the next decade and beyond.

The Ubyssey, the official student paper, has been covering the re-zoning issue since Metro Vancouver first announced its intentions.

It published four big articles in the paper, including a full-colour front page story complete with an eye-catching robot.

Still, news editor Samantha Jung admits the paper has had next to no response, especially from students who do not have official ties to organized groups.

The timing of the rezoning row is awkward. As well as cramming for exams, most students are preoccupied with the plight of a different president at UBC.

Continue reading here…