Glad to have you here but remember, you could be spending your time more wisely. Family, friends, maybe even your job if you are really pushed for something to do. David also writes the Building Our Home Blog as well as the wildly popular Dave’s Mindscape

Thursday, December 10, 2015

On-line Shopping is the Future

I am not a shopper

I don’t like shopping.

If I am window shopping it is because I need a new window.

I once needed, (Yes! Needed!), a new TV so I made a list of all the electronic retailers in the area as well as a list of all the features I wanted in a TV.
I walked into the first store on the list and said, “I will take that one and give me a VCR too”. It was a while ago.

Really not a shopper

This year my youngest daughter sent me a gift list linked to an on-line retailer called Amazon.ca

I thought, “this will be easy”. No trudging through the malls. No putting up with sales people offering free samples from kiosks. (My skin is already soft and pimple free)

I clicked on the link she sent and nothing happened. Really nothing. My mouse froze, arrow keys did nothing and even Ctrl-Alt-Del did not work.

Taking this as a sign not to shop on-line today, I powered off the machine and re-started. Windows 10 did some updates. 
I went to the mall for a coffee at Timmies.

The next day I decided to load a few bucks into my PayPal account to purchase stuff on-line.
I also thought I had better address some Christmas cards to mail that afternoon.

I had just sat down with my cards and a pen and address list when my youngest son texted me to say he was in hospital after falling off his bike.

I took this as a sign to not shop on-line today.

I drove into town and had a small black coffee and a cheese croissant at Timmies while filling out some of the cards and waiting for my son to get his arm put into a cast. (He blames the complete lack of snow for his accident as he would not be riding in the snow. One more strike against global warming).

While at the Post Office outlet mailing the cards, I picked up yet another parcel my daughter had Amazon ship to me. Seems to be working Ok for her.

The next day I tried to log in to Amazon.ca and they had to reset my password because who remembers that stuff from 3 years ago?

Clicking on the links in my daughter's list opened different windows, only one of which I was logged in to.
Being a savvy (but reluctant) shopper I wanted the items in the same shopping cart so as to get the free shipping.

Thinking I could just search for the item in the window I was logged in to was wrong. 
The search brought me to the same item (for a much cheaper price) on the Amazon.com site saying “Ships from the US”. Having experienced Customs Canada’s heavy handed charges I realized it would still be cheaper to pay more in Canada and have it shipped from Canada.

I finally got the items, from the Canadian site, in the same shopping cart, with a small shipping charge (which was much cheaper than Customs charges), over to the check-out area and found that Amazon does not accept PayPal
And the credit card information Amazon had on me had expired after 3 years. 

I took this as another sign.

I may or may not have completed the order but I am sure there will be something under the tree this year.

It just might be Tim’s cards.

I’m off to the mall but if you want to try out this on-line shopping foolishness...

Sunday, December 6, 2015

Commercial TV

Who knew Commercial TV was good for your health?

I now regret all those years cursing the incessant interruption of our spellbinding programs by stupid commercials when in fact those same interruptions may have been more beneficial to our health than all the medical remedies and exercise devices they may have advertised.

Research has shown that you should not sit for a prolonged period of time. The researchers suggest that even if you stand for two minutes out of every 40 or 50 minutes, good stuff will happen to your body as opposed to the bad stuff (I would link to the story about the study but forget where it is so I substituted my own medical jargon) that happens when you don’t avail yourself of the commercial break to go for a pee which is the result of the last commercial break when you got a drink.

Little did we know commercials were actually improving the quality of our lives

It didn’t even matter which commercial was on. Watch them once and the next 10 times they played during Hockey Night in Canada, don’t watch them. Or, miss them the first time but don’t worry, they will play again. And again and again.

Even the incredible volume accompanying commercials, was beneficial. Sure, if you actually sat through an ad, the abrasive sound you didn’t think your TV capable of, would assault your ears like salt in a paper cut, making you vow to never purchase from that advertiser again.

That sound was of value

As long as it blared, you could be in the bathroom. 
You could make drinks in the kitchen. 
Open a bag of chips and pour out bowls for yourself and your guests. No hurry. You weren’t missing a thing.
And it was healthy, except for the chips part. Chips make you fat und pimply.
And you had until the ominous cessation of commercial cacophony to get back to broadcast bliss.

Streaming services

You may be tempted to “cut the cord”. Loose yourself, or at least your wallet, from the thrall of your cable or satellite provider. 
Streaming services such as Netflix, Crave and Shomi, promise hours of commercial free programming for a reasonable price. Per month. Forever.

But who doesn’t remember sitting through a movie on their VCR, ready to burst, not hitting pause because they didn’t want to interrupt the flow of the program and not wanting to bother the others viewing the show. 
Imagine hours on end of streaming TV where the only break is when Netflix says “The next episode starts in 14 seconds”. Or when the season ends.
It takes more than 14 seconds to choose the flavour of chips you want.

Don’t cut the cord

Yes it is expensive, and yes a more advanced civilization would probably use much of our television content to punish those who commit crimes, but, for the good of your health, keep the commercial in commercial TV.

and now for a word from our sponsor...

General Delivery

General Delivery - from the 1830 - 40's Americanism, although there is the international term Poste restante.

In the old days you could send a letter or parcel to a post office near where someone would be traveling and they could pick it up. No need for a home address.

Before greed and bean counters took over, regular postal service would deliver letters and the occasional small parcel right to your door.

This had its pros and cons

Pros: You didn't have to leave your house to get junk mail, or as I call it, kindling for the wood stove.
You local mailman might know you, so even if the address on the letter was not quite right, the letter would still be delivered to you.
Also if they peeked in your windows and saw you lying unconscious on the floor they could go for help.
Cons: Your local mailman knew all your magazines came in plain brown wrappers.
He would trespass on your property, peek in your windows and shove junk mail through the mail slot.

Well, Canada Post being forward thinking and ever mindful of the bottom line thought that it was costing a heck of a lot of money to have people bring the mail to every home so in addition to having P.O. boxes that you could pay for, they would just start leaving your mail in community mailboxes, or super mailboxes as they were commonly called, at the end of your road. Or in some other neighbourhood entirely.
Not that handy for the elderly or handicapped or anyone actually but more cost effective.

But now people can be in touch with whomever, wherever in seconds thanks to the Internet.
No need to buy a pricey card and apply extra postage.
But you can buy cards and postage if you really want.
No more trundling down to a postal outlet with cards, letters or packages. A quick e card, photo or even a video and it is there almost as soon as you hit send.
And drop shipping to the recipient's home, P.O. Box or community mailbox from an on-line retailer is just a credit card and a mouse click away. Just order on-line and you never have to see the inside of a postal outlet ever again.
Unless someone sends you a parcel.

Do not worry that the post office is going to go the way of the Pony Express (they'd deliver your stuff on a horse, how cool was that?).
In an effort to firmly establish them self as a major player in the 21st Century, Canada Post is running an advertising campaign on TV about a service, 
FlexDelivery™, whereby you can have your post delivered to any one of their post offices for you to pick up.

Sounds a lot like general delivery to me.

And if a western poster reminiscent of the Pony Express is more your thing -

Western Riders, U.S.A. Poster
Western Riders, U.S.A. Poster by dequilla
See additional Posters & Art online at Zazzle

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Retailing Marijuana

With the recent change in our federal government, it seems as though we are moving closer to legal retail marijuana.

No longer will you have to know a guy who knows a guy. 
No more hanging around a disreputable pool hall. 
You won’t have to go to that seedy bar, but you will ‘cause who doesn’t like a seedy bar.

Soon may come a day when you can get your weed from a government regulated outlet.

I originally thought this to be a positive move, you know, give the people what they want and instead of arresting them, which costs we tax payers a poop load of money, tax them. 
Make money for the government. Stop wasting police and court resources. This whole thing could be worth millions or even billions in revenue and savings.

Would it Benefit the Consumer

Right here in Canada there is a company that is growing 50 or more strains of marijuana for medical use.
It is legal and there is no reason that their knowledge and technology could not be applied to the recreational market.
Just as with alcohol, the strains have different tastes and feels, and different strengths.
There are oils and pills and maybe even tea for those who really don’t want to or can’t smoke anything.
(Should I have a cup of Monday Morning Calm or a mug of I Can’t Believe It’s Another 2 Hour PowerPoint Presentation)

The Liquor Control Board of Ontario has put forth the view that grass be sold in their outlets as they have the infrastructure and experience.
In retailing recreational substances, I guess.

I do see some potential for strife between the traditional LCBO customer and the new clientele. Especially before a long weekend.

I wonder if they would have displays of the product and a representative asking if you would like to try today's featured brand. You would have to take a taxi home after stopping by the no name whiskey* table for a taste and maybe stop for a toke of Pineapple Express.
*I was going to link to a Canadian whiskey that just won some world whiskey contest but it seems that you have to enter your age and country probably due to governments regulations so here is a link to a story about it.

Others I have spoken to suggest that the government and their agencies are not fit to regulate. Anything.

Tobacco started out as a leaf. A natural product that ended up as a chemical plague the government was unable or unwilling to protect its people from.

The government would just tax grass beyond reason anyway.
Marijuana can be turned into a fuel so there would be a fuel tax.
It burns so there would be a carbon tax.
It can be made into paper, clothing, plastics and building material. Tax.
It is great for the environment and is nutritious. Has to be a tax in there somewhere.

Maybe the government should leave the distribution to entrepreneur run boutiques which probably wouldn’t be closed by strikes or even holidays. 
They could have sommeliers to help you choose something that pairs with half pepperoni / half Hawaiian.

Maybe, just maybe we should take a page from an earlier day when the sound of hooves and clinking of bottles signaled the early morning arrival of the milk man bringing fresh dairy products.
And if you are not an early riser, just leave a sign in the window.
Weed Today Please.

Thursday, November 19, 2015

Public Relations

Them: What are you doing?
Me: Writing a blog post.

Them: Oh, you have a blog.
Me: Yes.

Them: Is it something I’d like?
Me: It’s mostly complete nonsense.

Them: Can I read the post you're writing now?
Me: No.
Me: It’s incomplete nonsense.

Them: What is the address of your blog?
Me: I don’t know.
Me: It’s a bookmark on my browser.

Them: Do you have a business card?
Me: No.

Them: Goodbye.
Me: Bye.

Note to self: Sign up for Public Relations and Marketing courses at the local college. Or online maybe.


A Brush with Fortune

While it is hard to track Allen’s travels, or indeed get a straight answer about anything from him, he ended up hiding seeking higher education at an American university.

While there, he spoke to someone about an Internet program that allowed people to stalk each other.

The idea, he was told, was that a person could put up a picture of them self and write about their feelings or any little thing that came to mind. 
You could tell people about your lunch and through the magic of something called GPS pinpoint exactly where you had it. Allen thought someone should tell the military about that GPS thing.

He also thought, “This is just like having a book with your face on it in a library that anyone could read”.

Allen was no longer a fan of libraries and the last time he was booked and had his picture taken he ended up with 30 days community service.

Reflecting on how his friends business acquaintances would react to having their images, location and rap sheet resume available to anyone with a computer, Allen decided not to offer to invest in the project.
Instead he offered this advice to the young student, “People will start putting pictures of their cats on there. Maybe even video someday. You don’t want to be any part of that”.


Revenge – Sort Of

I have stopped telling people that Allen is my evil twin brother. Mostly because he pointed out that it sounds evil to call someone evil and that people might think I was the evil one.
That, and the fact that few people in this town have ever seen the two of us together. 
I get some odd looks when I talk about him.

He did complain that the series of posts that I had written about his entrepreneurial life did not show him in a good light. He was not moved when I pointed out that I did not write about some of his ventures that were best conducted in the shadows and proceeded to exact his revenge.

Sometime later he informed me that he had photo shopped his face over my face in all of my online pictures.

If I didn’t know that he was too lazy to do it and too cheap to hire someone I would have been irked.
Even if he is my identical twin.

Coloring Books or Colouring Books

Allen discovers the Internet. Well, he discovered that there is an Internet and realized the incredible potential for making money. And for humanitarian stuff too.

He is a little fuzzy on the year but a home computer at the time cost about $2,000. Not the low cost re- entry to the business world he was looking for and unfortunately the citizens of the port city his freighter docked at had the unfriendly habit of locking their doors. “Where is the trust?” he asked the fellow seated at the bar next to him. 

Fortunately the fellow was conversant with literature and pointed Allen in the direction of the public library saying, “Them buggers got computers”.

Apparently libraries are closed at night (and they also lock their doors), so Allen returned bright and early at 11 a.m.

The encounter with the librarian started off well as she welcomed Allen and showed him to a computer instructing him to double-click on the dial-up icon and to type his search into the Netscape search box.
Had he but known the binging and bonging of the dial-up connection was a harbinger of his future in the Indian Subcontinent.

He thought it best to catch up on what people were selling on the Internet and had no trouble finding ads online. In fact he said to himself “This is worse than commercials on TV”.
Armed with this new information and the knowledge that the pub opened in one hour, Allen started to think “What can I resell that people really want and will pay too much for”?

Spurred on by opening time Allen was feeling stressed.

Fate intervenes

Not being used to mouse-ing and clicking, he accidently opened a link to an article on Carl Jung’s  thoughts on adults coloring, or colouring since he was in Brittan, as a de-stressing therapy.
Allen thought Carl was probably a pretty smart guy as he had once ducked into a lecture on Jung and reason suggested that you only get lectured about if you are really smart. Or really bad.

Allen had an epiphany. He thought that creative people like himself don’t like to be constrained (or stressed) by someone else’s design, also people like himself have a lot of trouble staying within the lines.

He would offer, for the quite reasonable price of $29.95, a book of blank paper and a #2 pencil (Sharpener sold separately. Just pay separate shipping and handling). He would point out that this combination could be used in at least two different ways.

1: Draw the design that YOU WANT and then fill in the spaces with crayons or colored pencils or pastels (sold separately)
2: Colour the shapes you want and then outline them in pencil giving the impression that you can stay within the lines.

Fate has a field day

In spite of the stress of knowing the pub was minutes from opening, Allen had the idea that he should offer pre-printed images to be colored by those without the imagination to come up with their own designs thus adding to the breadth of his offerings. 
Allen hopped back on Netscape and typed in a search for “Adult stuff” and within seconds found himself being frogmarched by the now not so friendly librarian out the door.

Allen was OK with this as the pub was calling.

Fate laughs again

It being early days of the Internet, people were, wisely, not used to handing over their credit card information on line and as Allen moved around so often he routinely missed orders that came through the post. 
He would have to await the mobile payment revolution

Allen had two final comments on this venture.
“Coloring books are stressful” and “Being ahead of the curve sucks”.

Tree of light stamp
Tree of light stamp by shiomi
Check out Christmas Stamps online at zazzle

Allen 2.0 Too

When we last left our intrepid entrepreneur he had arrived in India from Nepal by way of China.

The Big City

Because he had no idea what the sign at the city limits said (ed. No Solicitors) he was not sure which city he was in but there were thousands and thousands of people and few snakes.

It didn’t take many sales calls for Allen to realize that while India did indeed have electricity and curry and Pepto Bismol, it didn’t have a lot of phone lines.

This was a setback for the sales of home facsimile machines.

Time and Technology marches on

Allen had seen a cell phone before his sojourn in the Himalayas, but as they were expensive and heavy enough to defend yourself against grizzly bear attack, he never thought they’d catch on.

Everyone had one

At least everyone in this city and certainly everyone in this bar.
They were all technology mad. 
They would discard their old cellphone for the latest model, or that was what he would tell the IPS (Indian Police Service) officer when questioned about his recent acquisition.

Exploring the device he found you could talk, text or txt, play pointless games and it seemed to have that damned Internet on it.

He also found that online payments had caught on big time. Specifically, mobile payments.

This development called for extensive research and an hour later Allen knew he was on to something big.

It seemed that many companies in India were considering a move away from the current mix of desktop online and mobile payments to mobile payments only.

Possibly a brilliant move

No longer do you have to stand in line for the cashier, to make an impulse purchase, you can be mediating an international dispute, going to couples therapy or contemplating in the throne room.

If you have a free thumb, you can purchase the object of your heart’s desire. O.A.C.

Sure those who are used to desktops and even (shudder) catalogs where you get a decent picture and legible text might be reticent, and so what if the largest group with the most disposable income (or at least savings) with potentially fading sight…

Allen had read enough. He would target service the mobile market.
He reasoned that younger people did not have the experience of their elders.

The lack of a product was not the problem. 
The problem was how to get the product in front of the largest number of marks customers at the cheapest cost.

This was also the question on the minds of a group that Fate was toying with.

The start-up woman’s clothing designers became convinced that Allen’s entrepreneurial prowess and Mobile Application Development skills could translate their Plus size clothing line to a plus size bank balance.

Later they were to agree that they should not hold their board meetings in a bar. At least not one that was home to Allen.

Not one to say no to an opportunity, or temptation for that matter, Allen had one job in front of him; Find out what Mobile Application Development was.
That and how to make a compelling presentation. Compelling enough to get a cheque.

They agreed to reconvene in the same location during a popular local time. Happy hour.

He then applied himself to understanding Mobile Application Development, or MAD for short, and 30 minutes later he was talking a local artist into drawing his ideas out on Bristol board for future consideration in his newly formed company.

Presentation day dawned and quite a bit later than dawn, the designers, Allen and his artist were situated around the boardroom table. The waitress took their orders and commerce was commenced.

With the artist holding up the presentation and Allen pointing out the main selling points with an umbrella from one of the drinks, things were going well until one of the up-starts from the start-up asked why he was not using PowerPoint.

Viewing questions as an opportunity, he took the opportunity to excuse himself and get another round. On the tab.

After several rounds of negotiations, Allen felt more sure of a sale ‘tho less sure of his ability to read the room, and he decided to offer the ladies some sage business advice.

He suggested that the group abandon their hopes for a mobile application in favour of a website aimed at desktop users ‘cause “Those little mobiles can’t accommodate your product even in landscape mode”.

From there, talks headed south and so did Allen, leaving the group with the bar tab and the artist.

Watch for further adventures of our budding billionaire as records are released.

All products trademark of their respective companies.

Allen 2.0

Some of you may be wondering what direction Allen’s life took after the inaugural Tales of a Dissatisfied Squid Salesman 
and the popular (well it was popular in Asia) Humourous Lessons in Business, Tales of a Dissatisfied Squid Salesman II

The direction was east. It could have been west, the world being a sphere and all, but the first plane out of town was going east.

David’s now estranged twin brother Allen had financed his trip through the sale of David’s car and was looking forward to a bright new future (as well as backward at not a few creditors). 
Unaware that Allen still had a set of his car keys; David wandered the parking lot before realizing that he really missed Allen and wanted to see him again. Preferably in a dark alley.

After a series of plane and train rides on borrowed tickets and documents, Allen arrived in Kathmandu, Nepal.

His first thoughts were, “They’ll never find me here”.
His second thoughts were, “Where the heck is here”?
His third thoughts were, “Seems like a good place for some meditation. Some reflection, introspection and any other ‘ection’”.

Having heard the villagers speak of a remote monastery, Allen determined that he should take up meditation in a local bar. Allen recalls, “A lot of time passed, much of which was, quite frankly, a blur, before I was awakened to the desire to get back into the world of commerce”.

The thing that awoke him was the squawking of the bar’s fax machine.
After buying a few more drinks and listening to the bartender explain how the fax worked, Allen decided to re-launch his career by selling facsimile machines to the masses. After all, who wouldn’t want badly pixilated pictures and text sent right to their own home?

Unfortunately the masses did not live in Nepal. 
Fortunately China with its masses was right next door.

After a month or so, riding in carts pulled by various animals, he arrived at The Bamboo Curtain.

Unfortunately it was closed.

Undaunted, but quite miffed, Allen returned to Kathmandu where he lingered a few weeks or maybe months until he left his bar stool and set his sights on India, a land teeming with masses and hardly any bamboo.

After a month or so, riding in carts pulled by various animals, he arrived in India.
Allen had seen a map of the world but up until recently had no idea what the scale on a map represented.

After another month or so, riding in carts pulled by various animals, he arrived in an area large enough to be considered to be teeming.

The trip had been long and fraught with perils and snakes but the people of the area were a friendly lot and he was soon having a drink with someone who was willing to share his whiskey. Someone’s whiskey.

That someone had left a truck full of the stuff with the keys in the ignition and his new friend had decided to move the truck to a safer, not overlooked location. 

They were well into the bottle, all the time looking over their shoulders for any sign of the owner of the truck so they could flag him down.
They should have been looking in the vicinity of their ankles as suddenly karma (a concept Allen had never heard of) reared its ugly head in the form of a venom spitting cobra
Cobras are actually quite beautiful if you ignore their tendency to spit venom in your eyes with great accuracy even from a great distance.

His drinking partner froze with fear but Allen, startled out of his wits, sprayed his mouth full of whiskey right into the cobra’s face. (Don’t try this at home kids)

You have never seen a more affronted looking cobra in your life.

As the cobra slithered off to wherever snakes go, Allen became aware of the owner of the truck coming Right down the alley. Exit stage Left.

To be continued…


Monday, November 16, 2015

Wine and Kale

I told my sister that I was on a health kick and that I had been checking out the Internet for health related ideas. (see my Coconut Oil Experiment)
She told me she had also been surfing the net and had an idea for a smoothie that contained kale, blueberries and acai berries. 

I was surprised as she has traditionally been a potato chip and chocolate aficionado.

I said it sounded horrible but she proceeded to throw the ingredients into a blender. She blended it for about one minute and I said, “that looks like a hideous heterogeneous sludge of green and blue crap”
She said I should try it.
So I did.
She said, “What do you think”?
I said, “I think it tastes like it looks”.
I asked if she was sure it's all kale, blueberry and acai and she said, "No, the secret ingredient is red wine for the reversitol""it's good for your heart".
I said "what's kale good for"

She said, “I don't know, I just read it on the internet”.

I said OK, what are the blueberries good for? She said they have antioxidants.

I said, “I have tried antipasto and it was OK, so what's wrong with this stuff”
She seemed to think that it was doing me some good.
It was doing something.

Unbeknownst to her I'd already started on a regime based on three glasses of champagne per day to ward off dementia, and being as how I am I'm a real go-getter, I had started my morning with the three glasses.
Not being much of a drinker, my bar accouterments ran to a shot glass and a number of beer mugs.

Three mugs of champagne added to the copious amount of red wine she put into this hideous tasting smoothie and I was starting to feel a bit woozy. 
My stomach was feeling even woozier than my head.

Taking the Internet's advice to never leave a drink unfinished (kind of like Mom saying, "Eat every carrot and pea on your plate" (this oft misunderstood admonition made for some awkward dinners with guests)), I downed the last of the blender’s contents and decided then and there that despite all the health advice you can get from the Internet, sisters can't be trusted.

Friday, November 13, 2015

Closer to Home

In my previous post, Pluto vs. Science,  I ranted a little about groups redefining things for us whether we knew we needed them redefined or not.

I kept it short because Pluto has had some more recent Press and new selfies, I mean photos.

I did keep reading stuff about the definition of planets. 
Phil Metzger, a planetary physicist retired from NASA, said the problem was today's definition of "planet" doesn't work when comparing this solar system to ones light-years away. 
Why? Has he been getting input from the locals?
They are light-years away. Light-years. Google it.
To give you some perspective, if you headed there on a road trip, beginning at the dawn of humanity, we wouldn’t be anywhere close to being finished saying “Are we there yet?”

I am all for broadening my horizons but the news that winds on a planet three light-years away are 20x stronger than the strongest winds here, will probably never be germane to me.
Not even on trivia night.

I guess I would like to see more focus on solving problems a bit closer to home. Maybe tackle world hunger or cure diseases or battle global warming.

Why global warming? Coconut crabs.

Coconut crabs are the world’s largest land-living arthropod weighing up to 9 pounds and stretching to over 3 feet. 
They are hideous looking so I will not include a picture or video but I’ve put in some links.

Following the migration pattern of the coconut palm, the beast is found through-out the lands around the Indian and Pacific Oceans. Nice warm places. Far away places.

So what’s the problem?

Well if the video did not alarm you, how about the fact that there is irrefutable evidence of global warming, coconut palms are growing in places they never grew before and these buggers climb coconut trees and drop coconuts.

And we all know coconuts kill more people each year than sharks.

Imagine a swarm of 3 foot wide 9 pound exoskeleton monsters making their way across your lawn. Sure you could set your riding mower to mulch and wade in, but I prefer to be a little more proactive.

You can find me out in my yard with a book on how to spot coconut trees, and a chainsaw.

Bluejay Spiral Note Book
Bluejay Spiral Note Book by ladybuglane
See more Bluejay Notebooks at zazzle.com