7:56 PM

Commercials I like

Ok total random thought tonight...maybe too much tv!

Normally I hate "feminine products" commercials but I have to say that the Kotex commercial where she asks men to go into the store to buy tampons for her is priceless. Especially the guy who offers to buy toilet paper instead.

I also love the way dude says "calms" on the Sensodyne commercial. I'm not sure he'd be my choice over Barry White for voiceovers (I have this idea that you should be able to choose the voice for telephone banking, elevators, your car etc) but it still catches my attention.

6:30 PM

Winnipeg vs Calgary; the good, the bad and the ugly

I just returned from a trip across the prairies back to my hometown of Winnipeg. It wasn't my first drive back and forth and it probably won't be the last. It was one of the tougher drives - note to self: the May long weekend can bring snow to Calgary but the rest of the prairies aren't out of the woods either!

I couldn't help but compare the two cities/provinces at times.

The good:

Calgary is green (for Calgary) but Winnipeg has it beat for just how green a city can be - loads of trees, flowers in flowerbeds and pots and green grass. (and check out that sky!)

The Wagon Wheel is open again in Winnipeg and their clubhouse and chocolate shake still beat anything I've found out here. They cook 5 turkeys every morning to make their clubs and if you order gravy with your fries it is real roast turkey gravy! The shakes are made from hard ice cream in the old school shake blenders with metal cups. Awesome. I also had charbroiled pork vermicelli from Pho No.1. It was a huge portion; nicely presented and the pork was amazing. And I think it was around $7 - a price you'd never see in Calgary for anything that size or that good.

Neighbors are often friends in Winnipeg. I know that happens here in some areas but even my dad's new, younger than him neighbors were willing to give him a hand and chat. The longtime neighbors stopped over when they saw my car in the drive and my sister was making s'mores with her neighbors around a firepit when I arrived at their house.

You can't beat the lake...the big lake. We went to Gimli and although the water was still really chilly it was a busy spot; not a surprise being about an hour from the city. And beautiful.

Kids' sports are like mini socials. The games are well attended and people chat while they watch. I had a super conversation with a mom of the opposite team's goalie at 3 on 3 hockey and had never met her before. I don't have kids in sports here but random, pleasant conversations with non-crazy strangers isn't something I've encountered in Calgary.

The bad:

The roads in and around Winnipeg still leave a lot to be desired. Particularly highway 8 to Gimli which is both narrow and rough in spots and the Transcanada which is an embarassment across most of the prairies since it is our national highway. The absolute worst spots were around Moose Jaw SK. Winnipeg also has an interesting habit of marking pavement and putting up barricades where there is clearly no construction actually happening.

Lots of rain in Winnipeg means lots of people get water in their basements. And the City says that it isn't their fault the system can't handle it. Basement flooding has been a problem in Winnipeg for as far back as I can remember my parents rushing around bailing out window wells and hooking up pumps. Torrential downpours happen often enough and the current storm sewer system can't handle them - time to acknowledge that and make some changes which should include backup systems/pumps.

Although Winnipeggers will be shocked to hear this; the increased house prices and high taxes mean that their cost of living is as high or higher than Calgary's - with lower wages. It appears that the real estate market there is still hot, hot, hot. Some things are less expensive but not nearly as many as there were 4 years ago.

The ugly:

The lower speed limits (100 on the highway when it's 110 even in SK), abundance of traffic cameras, high $ tickets and poor traffic flow (including unpredictable drivers which never seem to get pulled over) mean that driving in Winnipeg is not fun. Things may be closer and commutes shorter in distance than Calgary but driving is slow or full of lots of stops (and people stopping on yellow out of fear of those cameras) and is an exercise in frustration and surprise since you will have no idea who is about to cut in front of you, stop suddenly or change speeds randomly.

Downtown Winnipeg also feels grungy and unsafe. I parked on McDermott near Main at 11:30 a.m. and was happy to have another female leaving the parkade on foot at the same time as me. Even walking into the Lombard at Portage and Main didn't feel like the office-crowd spot that it used to and walking through the Exchange to grab a sandwich at prime lunchtime was dodgy at best. I had come to expect the drive along north Main street to be depressing but it seems to have spread right into the rest of downtown.

All in all, I had a great visit which went by way too quickly. And of course the main draw for Winnipeg that you can't beat is that Winnipeg is still home to my closest friends and family.