Friday, 28 January 2011


Yet another lovely story from the beautiful people who hold our collective cojones in a metaphoric vice grip-our cell phone providers at Bell cellular.

Younger Son has had horrible karma with his phones. To his credit, he has never once dropped one of his phones from the roof of a 40 storey building, gone deep sea diving with the phone in his pocket, nor has he played road hockey using it as a puck. Neither has he had to retrieve it from the toilet, left it on the subway, dropped it, tampered with it, or picked it to pieces. He is unbelievably responsible with his phones, but he has been plagued with lemon after cell-lemon. Last year, he decided that enough was enough and went for the reliable (or so he thought) Blackberry curve on contract with Bell Cellular. Because of his history with hardware problems, he even consented to purchase the extended warranty plan at a cost of an extra $4.00/month. The initial cost of the phone on sale at Bell was a very reasonable $50.00. Younger Son did the happy dance all the way home, content in the knowledge that he and his Young Lady would now be wirelessly joined at the hip with unlimited text plans and Blackberry Messaging service. The earth continued revolving around the sun and all was right again with the universe. Until three days ago.

As seems to be the norm with Younger Son's phones, it began to go kerfluey. The "a" key stopped functioning all together which resulted in a makeshift solution from him causing many of his texts to resemble the following:

"Hi Mom. How's D@d?"

When the phone began to update all on its on and at inconvenient times, the boy knew that he had to approach the seventh circle of hell in search of answers-the Bell store at the Eaton's Centre. 

Now we all know that customer service is not high on any Canadian cell providers list of priorities, but Bell seems to take f*@#ing people over to new levels. After ascertaining that the phone could not be repaired, he was told to call customer service. God forbid that they should deal with it at a Bell store. No-he had to call an outsourced phone bank located in some country where snow is part of their mythology. Being the dutiful young man that he is, he calls-only to be told that he needs to call technical support. He explains that the phone has already been deemed unfixable by Bell employees, but it is to no avail. He must call technical support, they will in turn ascribe him a number and return him back to customer service. Are you all following this? He calls technical support only to be told that he cannot call from his phone. It is the only phone he has!!! No, they want him to call from a landline so that they can ask him questions regarding his broken Blackberry. After a series of screaming matches and a few calls to The Husband, Younger Son and Bell finally get on the same page and determine that his phone is busted. (That is the technical term!) Bell agrees to send him a new phone and tell him that it is a good thing that he purchased the extended warranty because his phone is just over a year old now and wouldn't be covered otherwise. So, instead they will only charge him $150.00 for the replacement phone. $150.00!!!!! The phone originally cost him $50 and he paid another $48 over the year for this warranty to have the privilege of merely paying another $150. He was devastated. He doesn't have $150.00. He called The Husband and the words that escaped from my man's mouth were unutterable even for me. He told Younger Son to arrange for the phone and he would get involved. Big talker. 

After spending a good chunk of his afternoon with extremely rude Bell customer service oxymorons and uttering a few more expletives I am certain, we are back to square one. This fee was obviously in the contract that Younger Son signed, and I refuse to get into something that is obviously legal, but oh the immorality of it all. It seems that the $150 is to cover the replacement cost of a phone that they value at $500 but sold at $50. And what a scam the extended warranty turned out to be. Younger Son swears that nobody at Bell ever once mentioned the $150 when they sold him the warranty. Expensive lesson learned? Absolutely, but isn't there just a bit of underhandedness here on the part of Bell? And how can they say with a straight face that the phone is worth $500, but sell it for $50?

Canadian cell phone companies are notorious for this kind of behaviour, but short of leaving Bell for probably another round of equally contemptible garbage with Ted's company, we are not certain what our next move is. We have become slaves to our cell phones and these assholes know it. Got a story about your cell phone provider? Share it in the comments below.

Trying to relax and remember that Shabbat is soon here.

***Shabbas Update***

The Husband is a gem of a man that impresses me more every day. After work, he was determined to settle this shit with Bell once and for all, so he spent yet another hour on the phone with yet another  "stupidvisor". After calmly and collectedly explaining the idiocy of this situation again, and expressing in no uncertain terms that he believed that a fraud had been perpetrated on Younger Son when the salesperson neglected to inform him of the $150 replacement fee and instead told him that any replacement would be fully covered, my guy was able to recover a rebate on Younger Son's monthly plan totally $180.00. In other words, he made $30.00 on the exchange. Not really, though. When you factor in the $48.00 spent on the extended warranty, he is still out 18 bucks, but it is better than before. We are still seriously considering reporting this mess to any number of press or consumer sites. More updates to follow, I am sure.

Thursday, 20 January 2011


Most of you who are regular visitors to this space are well versed in my absolute disdain for winter weather. I realize that I am more fortunate than most in that I have a built in escape hatch-my retreats to the Southern home. I wish I could tell you all that these regular winter sojourns lessen the impact of sub-zero temperatures, snow, slush and greyness, but the truth of the matter is quite the opposite. I am a long time sufferer of Seasonal Affectedness Disorder, and any amount of time spent in the misery that we call winter is too long. That said, I have decided that since this year I must be in town for the month of Janu-weary, I thought that I would attempt to make the best of it. This is not to say that I am not hibernating-I am-nor is it to say that I have found a way to batter the winter chill-I have not, short of sitting on top of a hot water bottle. Honest! Nope. Winter still sucks, but here are a few things that are truly getting me through a very long four week stretch.

  1. Tomato soup. Is there anything better than a hot cup of tomato soup and a grilled cheese (lactose free, of course) sandwich on a frigid day? Comfort food at its finest.
  2. Aero Chocolate bubbles. I am usually a dark chocolate girl through and through, but these little bites of Canadian ingenuity are just the right size for a winter chocolate fix without feeling as though I am packing on the winter weight. They kind of melt on the tongue-oh my-a little taste of heaven.
  3. My Restoration Hardware foot duvets. The best $35 I have ever spent. They are plush, soft and incredibly warm. I don't even require socks which I loathe with a passion even in the dead of winter. Pampered feet are happy feet.
  4. My Kindle. The greatest invention since the iPod. I love reading on my e-reader. The Husband purchased an iPad recently so I have had the opportunity to try reading on it and compare the two, but I have to admit that I am still partial to my Kindle. It is easier to read, no glare, and it is much lighter and less awkward. I have heard all of the concerns about missing the tactile experience of a book and, yes it took a bit to adjust, but I am hooked. Look, the way I figure it, we moved from stone tablets and scrolls. The e-reader is just the next logical step. 
  5. A long, hot, steaming shower. If one is ever in need of chasing the blues away, I highly recommend a shower. It allows for the opportunity to get warm, and the solitude is a great place for problem solving. 
  6. The butt/seat warmers in my car. How did we ever function without this life-affirming gadget? I don't think that I could buy another car without one.
  7. The Big Bang Theory, Modern Family, and my new favourite TV comedy-The Middle. It is impossible to feel depressed when laughing. Each one of these shows is smart, brilliantly written and acted, and incredibly funny. 
  8. Great music. Yesterday a friend sent me the video below of James Taylor and Yo Yo Ma performing Here Comes the Sun. Classic. Anything that good is guaranteed to lift me out of my doldrums.

These are just a few of my coping mechanisms. Please send me yours. I would love to hear about them and I would love to try them. Whatever works to get me through until the Daylight Savings.

Wednesday, 19 January 2011

Mental Health Break

Thanks go to my friend Phil for sharing this with me. The perfect antidote for all that ails on a cold, miserable January day.

Sunday, 9 January 2011

She Changed The Way We Pray

I am a songleader. I have been been labeled a cantorial soloist, a teacher of music, a singer of Jewish liturgy-but ultimately I am songleader. I stand in front of my congregation, my community--guitar strapped onto my shoulder, and I facilitate prayer and spiritual awakening through music. I have always wanted to be a songleader ever since I heard my first Debbie Friedman song.

I was a young girl sitting in a religious school class in the early '70s when our music teacher taught us Debbie's Im Tirtzu as a way to facilitate some lesson about the birth of the state of Israel. I was hooked. Finally, here was music to which I could relate. Here was music that spoke to my generation and allowed us to find meaning in prayer. I wanted more.

I purchased vinyl of all of Debbie's early recordings. I found meaning and spiritual awakening in her liturgical settings. I couldn't wait to share a new melody with everybody around me. I knew that in order to properly sing these songs I would need to learn to play guitar, and so I sat for hours trying to get the exact strum patterns and odd chord changes for Sing Unto God. Debbie Friedman's music was reaching out to me and my thirst for a connection to Judaism.

Every summer I would return from Goldman Union Camp, armed with my songbook and pages of chord charts for a whole slew of new Debbie Friedman songs, hoping against hope that I might introduce them into the mainstream services of my congregation. My songleading friends and I would sit for hours trying to re-create the sheer revelry of her Dodi Li or the magical beauty of her Mi Sheberach. It took a lot longer than I would have liked for Debbie's music to find its way out of the camps and into the synagogue, but I knew then as I do now, that we in the movement were witnessing a true renaissance of Jewish music. Debbie Friedman had helped to create and define a new North American nusach, and we knew it was just the beginning.

It is impossible to overstate Debbie's importance to our prayer, to our sense of spirituality, to our music, and to our Jewish lives. She was the first to overlay English meaning with Hebrew liturgy. When she sang "L'chi Lach", she gave you a true sense of its meaning.."to a land that I will show you." She reintroduced healing prayers and songs back into our liturgy. She changed the way that congregations sing. She invited all to participate and understood that there was meaning in the silences as well as the noisy ruach. She sang for adults, for children, with choirs and solo. Music was the way in which she communicated her Judaism to us, and I for one was her willing student. She was truly on the cutting edge, a true visionary.

I am a songleader in great part because of Debbie Friedman. I was drawn to her music, her energy and her voice like no other in my profession. I will miss her creativity, her spirituality, and her teachings. Her music will inspire many for generations to come.

Zichrona Livracha-May her memory always be a blessing.

Debbie Friedman performs Mourning Into Dancing

A visionary artist who has transformed the way we Jews pray and sing.