Tuesday, May 9, 2017

How to Get Your Kids Interested in Learning a Musical Instrument

How to Get Your Kids Interested in Learning a Musical Instrument

Kids are naturally drawn to music, mostly for the beat, but sometimes for the message. If you want to encourage your kiddos to take their music appreciation a step further, follow these guidelines to inspire your youngsters to learn a musical instrument.

Introduce Music Early

Scientific studies point out how great music is for babies in their mothers’ wombs. So, start early with a bit of premature music appreciation. Play tunes, sing your favorite songs, and interact with touches and melodies. Babies remember the sound of your voice, so make it a harmonious one.

Encourage Kids to Develop Their Own Love for Music

Love for music starts from a personal space of emotion and need. Music can get you through anything with meaningful lyrics and a rhythmic, heartfelt beat. So, encourage your kids to find music that they love. It might be Justin Bieber or one of the numerous boy bands that grace the magazine covers. Or, it might be Beethoven and Motley Crue. You never know. But music is music, and an appreciation for it has to start somewhere.

Learn to Play a Music Instrument Yourself

Monkey see, monkey do—as the saying goes. To get your kids interested in learning a musical instrument, perhaps pick one up and learn for yourself. It can be anything that strikes your fancy, from drums and guitars, to violins and tubas. Educate yourself with beginner music theory books, then move onto creating big-time melodies with your own two hands. Have fun with it. Once your kids see you taking an interest and having fun, they might be inclined to join you.

Have Fun Quizzes on Music Trivia, such as Name That Tune

Name That Tune is a music-loving family favorite. Download a few instrumental mp3s and keep score to see who knows the most about music from today and yesteryear. Or, have the kids quiz the adults with song midis.

Bring Home Different Instruments

Some kids simply need to have access to a musical instrument to take an interest in it. So, rent a few instruments from your local music shop. Bring them home and let your kids play around with tunes and quirky melodies. If there is passion for instrument and music, it will shine through when your kiddo picks up a violin, piano, drum, or whatever else you bring home.

Music can be full of so many emotions, from passion, to anger, to happiness, and more. Encourage your youngsters to learn a musical instrument so they can better express themselves through harmonies.

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Fire Contractors and Renovations

Find Fire Contractors Who Can Restore Your Home

It is important for you to be able to find quality contractors after your home has been damaged by a fire. There are many fire restoration contractors to choose from. The right one will make sure that your home is quickly restored to its former condition before the fire.

Fire Causes
There are many different fire causes from cooking fires to electrical fires, but a good company will be able to restore your property from the inside out. Structural damage can be dangerous and make what's left of your property a threat. Quality contractors can come in and make sure that your property is restored and that there will be no falling beams or roofing materials that could hurt occupants. Before you go back into your home after a fire, you want to make sure that its structure has been looked at thoroughly.

Types of Damage
Although structural damage can be a serious concern, there are other types of damage that can occur to your property as well. Smoke and soot can cause your property to look dirty and be covered in a black dust that does not want to come off easily. The smell of a fire can linger in your home as well, so it is important for contractors to be able to clean, restore, deodorize, and sanitize your property. In many cases, water damage may occur from firefighters putting out the flames. A reliable company will be able to take care of all of your concerns so that your house looks as good as it did before the fire began.

You can feel good about hiring a company that has a good reputation and experience in this industry. There is no time to waste after a fire. You want to contact professionals right away so that your problems are taken care of and do not get worse. Water damage can spread and other problems like mold can start if the issues are not taken care of properly. The structure of your home must be looked at as fast as possible too. The right restoration contractor will be a good investments to make.


Friday, April 7, 2017

Free eBooks from BookBub

Since last August (Aug 4th 2016) I have been a member of BookBub, which sends me a daily email notification of ebooks that are either on sale or free. The ebooks in question are for sale on Kindle and Kobo, and are usually by authors I have never heard of.

Roughly 66% of the time the notification is about books that are on sale, but the other 33% of the time they are free.

So far I have "purchased" 35 fantasy ebooks this way. All free.

So for people who love reading ebooks you just sign up, choose a category (or categories) you want to be notified about, and then check the daily notifications to see if there is any books you like the looks of. I chose the fantasy category, but I wonder maybe if I should have chosen mystery or science fiction instead. Or all three.

So for now I have lots of books to read.

Which sounds great. It means that at some point in the future I will be able to read those books and test out whether I like those authors - and then post reviews of the books on here.

Eventually.

Whenever I get around to it.

When I am not reading books made out of actual paper that I spent $$ on.

Unfortunately I have not got around to reading any of those 35 ebooks. Mostly because I still have not finished reading "In The Shadow of the Gods" by Rachel Dunne, a paperback book I paid money for.

I purchased "In The Shadow of the Gods" on August 20th while I was on my honeymoon, freshly married and wanting something to read while en route to Montreal and on the way back to Montreal.

When traveling however you tend not to get as much reading done as you might hope. Thus I read half of the book so far and have on rare moments picked up the book and read a few pages or tried to finish a chapter.

Part of the problem might be the characters in the book.

Only one of the characters I actually like, the individual shown on the cover of the book.

The rest of the characters I find annoying. Whiny. Some of them are just plain villains and you are supposed to hate them.

However reading a book that is half about villains comes with an inherent problem. You end up hating half the book. I understand that writers these days like to sometimes tell the story from the perspective of the villains - I have done it myself sometimes - doing it so that half of the book focuses on villains gets rather annoying.

Think of it this way.
  • 25% of the book is focused on heroes.
  • 25% of the book is focused on characters I find annoying and whiny.
  • 50% of the book is focused on villains you are meant to hate.
So after it is all said and done, you end up disliking 75% of the book.

However I have to read all of it because what if I miss something that is important? So I don't have much choice, and ultimately I end up procrastinating about finishing the book. Here it is April and I am still trying to finish a book I started last August.

It isn't like George R. R. Martin's books either, in which he does the same thing. Each chapter in his "A Song of Ice and Fire" book series focuses on a single character in his grand narrative. If you are smart you can deliberately skip various chapters and end up enjoying the book a lot more - and not miss any important plot changes if you know which chapters to skip.

eg. If you skip many of the chapters about the Iron Islands and Dorne, they really don't matter compared to the larger plots. Those chapters are not particularly entertaining either. They are basically unimportant background story of what is happening in other parts of Westeros.

I also routinely skipped any paragraph during which Martin yaddled on about clothes or food or architecture.

eg. Sansa chapters have a tendency to have regular paragraphs devoted entirely to Martin yaddling on about food, clothes or architecture. Basically filler that makes you realize Martin is getting paid per word.

For "In The Shadow of the Gods" however I cannot skip whole chapters willy nilly however. I have to read the whole d*** thing. And I want to finish reading the book because of the one character who redeems the book.

And maybe the annoying characters will finally grow up, stop being whiny, and do something heroic. Or maybe die. I am okay with either of those options.

I am also annoyed that Rachel Dunne / her publisher decided to not include a map of the world in her book. It says in the corner it is a "Bound Gods Novel". Usually that means it is part of a series of books. Possibly a trilogy. Maybe more, a whole fantasy setting.

And fantasy settings usually have a map (sometimes several) at the front of the book.

Take for example the book "Blood Song" by Anthony Ryan. It is book #1 of the Raven's Shadow book series.

Tower Lord is book #2, and so forth. So right away you know this is a fantasy setting that Ryan plans to use a fair bit.

On the right is the map from "Blood  Song". It is not a terribly complicated fantasy map. It is admittedly a tad plain. But it is a map. So at least it has one.

"Blood Song", since we are on the topic, only focuses on the main character. None of this annoying the reader business with whiny characters or the back stories for villains.

After reading Blood Song, I went out and I purchased the second book Tower Lord. I then gave both books to my mother to read - and I don't give my mother books unless I am confident they are both good and she will like it.

I am not sure what I will do with "In The Shadow of the Gods" when I am finally done reading it. It is doubtful that I will be recommending it to anyone, let alone my mother. It is also unlikely that I will be purchasing any more books by Rachel Dunne.

...

Which brings me back to the topic of BookBub.

Maybe there is something to be said about getting free ebooks written by unknown authors. Both Rachel Dunne and Anthony Ryan were unknown authors when I first purchased their books. Paid money for them too. Mostly for the convenience of having a physical paper book to read.

But buying books by unknown authors is tricky. It is hit and miss whether the author is any good and whether I will like them.

Blood Song is a fantastic book. Very well written. It was addictive to read. Kudos to Anthony Ryan.

In the Shadow of the Gods has thus far has been disappointing and has only one redeeming character. Rachel Dunne should be admonished for bogging the story down with so many annoying characters that readers end up procrastinating about reading it.

In the future I will not be wasting money on unknown authors this way. I will take my chances with BookBub instead, read the ebook first and then once I know whether the author is any good I can go buy a physical paperbook copy.

This way I get the best of both worlds. Free ebooks to try out new authors. Physical paperback books of the authors I really like.

Makes sense, yes?

Yes, yes it does.

Montreal Combat Archery / Montreal Combats à l’Arc

Montreal has a variety of locations that provide "Archery Tag", combat archery, battle archery or whatever you want to call it. It is nothing new.

However after the success of Battle Sports in Toronto, should it be any surprise if the new Sports de Combat opening in Montreal destroys their competition within the first year or two? Battle Sports has been dominating the archery tag scene in Toronto for the last two years - quickly becoming the most popular of all the archery tag locations because of their better equipment, better value for dollar, and their willingness to also also teach archery lessons / use the space as an indoor archery range during non-peak time periods. (Many archery tag locations don't even bother to offer archery lessons or to use the space for anything other than archery tag.)

When a business expands to a new city it allows the company to do many new things that they didn't do the first time around.

#1. Lease a larger space.

Sports de Combat now has Montreal's Largest Indoor Archery Range. Bigger than any other indoor range in the city, including those spaces being used by the various archery clubs in Montreal.

#2. Take what they learned in Toronto, and make it better in Montreal right from the beginning.

They already knew from their experience in Toronto that better quality equipment was the best way to get an edge on the competition, so they did more of that - investing in archery equipment that even amateurs will realize is better than anything the competition is offering.

Better equipment, more stuff to do, more options. In addition to archery, Sports de Combat also offers Axe Throwing, Knife Throwing, Nerf Guns, a Riddle Room, and an European style "Rage Cage" for smashing things.

Battle Sports has adapted to the marketplace already, expanding, learning, improving upon what they learned. But that was a process during the last two years since they opened in 2015. They have made all those changes in Toronto already, so the second time around they can simply do those things right away.

#3. Analyze the existing market in Montreal and then improve upon whatever the competition is doing.

It isn't corporate spies or anything ridiculous like that, simply researching what the competition is doing and then providing a better service and a competitive price.

Having made themselves a huge financial success in Toronto, they can afford to offer a competitive rate knowing they have the money to expand.

#4. Price.

$24.99 for 90 minutes. Which includes 30 minutes of introductory archery instruction plus 60 minutes of archery combat.

Now to understand why that price matters you need to see what the other locations offering similar services are charging.

#1. Combat d'Archers offers $22 for combat archery, but it is 80 minutes total - with 20 minutes of introduction and 60 minutes of archery combat. So they are cheaper, but at the expense of 10 minutes of introductory archery lesson time. And they use shoddy and cheap equipment.

#2. DodgeBow offers $24.95 for combat archery, but it is for 60 minutes total - with 15 minutes of introduction and only 45 minutes of archery combat. So in terms of value, they are the most expensive with the least value.

Price alone tells you that Battle Sports / Sports de Combat did their research. They knew people would be willing to pay the extra 4 cents to get 15 more minutes of combat archery compared to rival DodgeBow.

And that an extra $2.99 is better to get that extra 10 minutes of archery instruction plus the added bonus of using better quality archery equipment than the junk Combat d'Archers is using.

Special Note about Franchise Contracts

To be fair Combat d'Archers doesn't have much choice. They signed an agreement with the franchise "Archery Tag®" and they have to use shoddy cheap official "Archery Tag®" equipment. They don't have a choice. Even if they later left "Archery Tag®" and got better equipment, they signed a non compete clause with Archery Tag which prevents them from offering the same or similar service.

And because of that franchise agreement it also means that Combat d'Archers cannot offer other things to do like knife throwing, axe throwing, etc. They are limited to offering archery tag and ping pong in the lobby waiting area. Ping pong. Seriously. Because it doesn't violate any clauses in the franchise contract.

This was the same problem Archery District in Toronto had. Shoddy equipment that breaks easily and they were locked into a franchise deal with "Archery Tag®". When people realized that Battle Sports was offering better value, better equipment, better prices and more things to do, they quickly switched to Battle Sports. It was a no brainer.

Which is why it is also a no brainer that Sports de Combat will attract large numbers in Montreal too. They are not locked into any franchise agreement, and they can simultaneously compete with axe throwing leagues, knife throwing and other fun things to do.

The Future?

What else could Battle Sports / Sports de Combat do in the future?

Paintball?
Axe Throwing Competitions?
Knife Throwing Competitions?
Nerf Swordfighting / Fencing?
Sumo Wrestling Bodysuits?
Hosting SCA (Society Creative Anachronism) Events?
Hosting Zombie Survivalist Events?
Toronto Vs Montreal Team Competitions? Maybe even televise the events on YouTube live?



Monday, April 3, 2017

Dashcam Discounts on Car Insurance

For awhile now I have been trying to convince my wife to get a Dashcam (aka Dashboard Camera) for her car that records her driving - and records what happens during an accident, likely proving that other drivers were at fault.

For car insurance purposes Dashcams provide the insurance company with a way to make the other person end up paying for the damages. (And consequently the other insurance company.)

For providing proof of who was at fault during a car accident, even if the owner of the dashcam is at fault, it justifies raising their insurance premiums - however statistically the people who buy dashcams tend to be rather safe and conscientious drivers. They know they are being watched by their own dashcam, and thus behave responsibly.

Thus it makes good sense to offer a discount to car drivers who use routinely use a dashcam. (At some point in the future, all cars might automatically come with a dashcam, just like they all come with seatbelts and other safety features.)

Also, Dashcams reduce the likelihood of people committing insurance fraud. So that is a bonus reason for insurance companies to provide a discount.

However not all companies provide a discount to owners of dashcams.
eg. TD Insurance does not provide insurance.

TD Insurance does provide a discount if the car owner has an approved after-market anti-theft system or an approved anti-theft etching system.
But nothing for Dashcams.

Which is disappointing because TD Insurance is my wife's source of car insurance.

So either I need to convince TD Insurance to provide a discount for Dashcams... or I need to convince my wife to switch to a car insurance company that does provide a discount and equitable insurance coverage.

There is another problem too.

So far very few companies in Canada do actually provide discounts to drivers who have a dashcam. A few do, but it isn't anywhere near an industry standard.

Which means consumers need to be doing a better job of ASKING for a discount.

And then saying "Oh, you don't provide a discount to people with dashcams? Oh. I guess I will find a different insurance company."

As it currently stands I am thinking of contacting TD Insurance to ask the following:

"Hello! I am trying to convince my wife to buy a dashcam. She is already a TD customer. Does TD Insurance provide a discount to drivers who have a dashcam?"

I already know the answer is no. But when they say no, I will say: "Oh. Okay. I will tell her to switch companies then. Goodbye!"

It is then implied that TD Insurance just lost a customer.

If enough people do what I am talking about, insurance companies will suddenly realize they should be providing a discount. It makes sense since it is in their own best interest to save costs. Even a small discount makes sense.

There are many Dashboard Cameras available on the market. I have not reviewed any yet, as I obviously still need to convince the wife that we should buy one in the first place.


Easter Gift Baskets

What Should I Look For In An Easter Gift Retailer?


As many people know, Easter is right around the corner. As such, many consumers are looking for ways to find the perfect Easter gifts for their loved ones. If this is the case for you, it's important to note that locating the ideal retailer is immensely important. To ensure that you can, be sure to look for all of the following traits in an Easter gift retailer before you make any purchases:

1. Industry Experience.

One attribute you should look for in an Easter gift retailer is industry experience. This trait is important because companies that have been successfully operating for several years are typically able to assist you quickly and correctly. There are several ways that you can determine how much industry experience a retailer has. One is by checking their website. You can also call the company and ask to speak to a customer service representative. These individuals should be able to answer this question and any others you may have regarding the Easter retailer's background and products. Ideally, you want to purchase your Easter gifts from a retailer that has been on the block for at least five years.

2. A Good Reputation.

In addition to seeking out an Easter retailer with extensive industry experience, make sure you look for a company that has an excellent reputation. Reputation is important because it functions as an indication of whether the company has provided clients with the ethical, exemplary services they need and deserve. There are several ways you can determine what type of reputation an Easter retailer has. One is by checking the online reviews that have been left about the company. If the majority of reviews left about the company are positive, this is a good indication that you'll attain excellent services and products from them. On the other hand, you should steer clear of any Easter retailer that regularly receives negative or neutral reviews.

In addition to reading the Easter retailer's online reviews, consider visiting the Better Business Bureau's website at www.bbb.org. The BBB is known for listing accurate, up to date information regarding how effective a company is in providing customers with high quality services. If the Easter company in question maintains a rating of A or higher, this is a good indication that they will offer you the excellent services and products you deserve!

3. Stellar Customer Service.

Another attribute you should seek out in an Easter retailer is stellar customer service. While product quality is important, it's equally important that you attain assistance from people who are friendly or knowledgeable. Note that excellent customer service can dramatically improve the quality of your day. You can typically determine whether an Easter retailer offers great customer service by reading their testimonials and speaking directly with at least two representatives from the company. If you find that the representatives are overly aggressive, brusque, or rude, seek your Easter products elsewhere.

4. A Satisfaction Guarantee.

Be sure to seek out an Easter retailer that offers customers a satisfaction guarantee. This approach is helpful because it ensures that you can attain a refund or exchange on Easter products you find lackluster, defective, etc.

5. Online Shopping Options.

Another attribute you should seek out in an Easter gift retailer is online shopping options. This trait is important because it will enable you to do all of your shopping from the comfort and privacy of your home. Companies such as Sweetbasket.com enable you to take this course of action, and they also provide you with the ability to send Easter gift baskets any where in Canada and US.

Don't Delay: Find The Right Retailer Today!

If you're getting ready for Easter and want to make sure that you purchase the perfect products for friends or family members, now is the time to find the right retailer. One way to be sure that you're making your purchases from a reputable company is by looking for the key attributes outlined above. When you find a retailer that conforms to all of the criteria discussed here, you've found a winner!

Thursday, March 9, 2017

Football Baby Showers

The Four Elements of a Baby Shower with a Football Theme

If you have a pregnant friend who loves football, consider throwing her a baby shower with a football theme. Not only will she enjoy the theme, she will appreciate all of the time and planning that went into her party. Learn the four elements of a baby shower for a mom-to-be who is a football fan.

The Decorations

You can have a lot of fun choosing the decorations for your friend’s baby shower. One idea is to gather several colorful posters of her favorite football players and hang them around the room. Also, look for paper plates, cups and napkins featuring a football design. You may want to hang streamers and put up balloons that share the colors of her number one team. For party favors, you can give everyone a bag of chocolate covered football candies.

The Refreshments


The snacks you serve can echo your football theme. Make or buy a cake decorated to look like a football field. Serve your chips and dip in a bowl shaped like a football. Create a cheese plate featuring pieces of cheese shaped like footballs. Create a pretzel and peanut butter snack in the shape of small goal posts. Luckily, you can get as creative as you want with many types of foods.

The Invitations

When it comes to sending out invitations, there are plenty of options that relate to football. You could go with traditional paper invitations shaped like footballs. Or, you can send virtual invitations featuring a tune that will remind your guests of football season. The colors, graphics and text on your invitations can all work to solidify your entertaining theme.

The Gifts

You and your guests can give the mother-to-be gifts that relate to her love of football. For instance, one guest may give her a high chair with a tray shaped like a football. Other guests may give her NFL baby clothes such as pajamas, t-shirts or bibs featuring the name of her favorite team. Any of these thoughtful gifts is sure to be a hit with the mom-to-be!

Finally, to make your baby shower even more successful, try to keep the theme a secret so your friend will be pleasantly surprised when she walks into her party. Your guests will have to agree to keep the secret as well!

Monday, February 13, 2017

Utility Task Vehicles and Winches


The best site will provide comprehensive information about all winches available


UTVs, once rarely seen anywhere, have really taken off in popularity, and can now be seen just about anywhere where off-road activity takes place. Hunters and fishermen, among others, love the flexibility this vehicle provides them in getting to prime locations previously difficult if not impossible to access with standard vehicles. Others utilizing the UTV in other activities enjoy the ease and functionality the UTV brings them, with the wide variety of options available to customize their vehicle to make it look and feel just as they like it to.

Buying a standard UTV without special options is a nice buy in itself. But perhaps one aspect of UTV ownership that buyers really appreciate is the chance to customize their vehicles in a great number of ways. Among other items, owners can add or upgrade the following to their UTVs to make their UTV more comfortable, functional, and easier to operate. These include: lights, mirrors, seats, windshields, wheels and tires, doors, audio, storage, mounting brackets, harnesses, lift kits, snow plows, and perhaps one of the most utilized accessories, winches.

UTV winches are really essential pieces of equipment for those riders that take their UTV off-road, off beaten paths and into the brush. They can be used for a number of different applications, and based on the owner's needs and preferences, come in a wide variety of different sizes and equipment options.

UTV owners interested in getting a winch for their vehicle may have any number of questions about winches, and what would be best suited for their specific needs regarding the UTV they'll be putting it on. At this point, it would be best for them to go online and find a company that is reputable, proven, and specializes in selling superior, top-of-the-line winches and other UTV accessories. One premier company, Side By Side Stuff, offers all this and more.

There is no "one size fits all" winch for any of the great number of UTVs out on the market. Shoppers should investigate closely on a company's website the winches that are available in their own given UTV category. The best site will provide comprehensive information about all winches available, from leading winch manufacturers, which includes the features of the winch, as well as options available. Pictures and up-to-date pricing will also be listed, as well as shipping information and payment options.

Purchasing Factory Equipment Tips

Three Simple Tips for Purchasing Factory Equipment

As the manager of a factory, it's understandable that you'd want to find the best deals possible for your machinery. No one wants to invest an unnecessary amount of money into their business, especially if there are already issues with productivity. In order to help prospective managers separate themselves from their competition though, this guide will take a look at a few ways in which purchasing factory equipment can be less of a hassle. Of course, this guide can't speak to a specific manufacturer's needs, but it can tackle some of the general points nonetheless.

Finding Replacements

When you're shopping for new equipment, it can actually be worthwhile to see how expensive a minor replacement is instead. It may not be the shiniest or newest equipment, but replacements are typically just as effective, even if they're not as flashy. With that in mind, even minor components of larger machines can be replaced for substantially reduced costs. For instance, if your industrial-grade air compressor starts having problems, instead of purchasing an entirely new one, it might be worthwhile to instead get aftermarket air compressor parts from a dealer like Industrial Air Suppliers.

Embrace Innovation

In cases where you can't readily find replacements to existing machinery, considering ditching it altogether. In these circumstances, embracing innovation may be the way to go. Alternative technologies are constantly being developed, and these can have a profound impact on the long-term viability of your manufacturing processes. If you're someone who has struggled in the past with improving efficiency, then new technologies may hold the answer.

Plan Accordingly

Before committing to any new purchases, make sure you've fully outlined your company's needs ahead of time. By taking an honest look at your company's needs, you can more accurately determine what you need and what you want. The difference can be small, but it can also keep you from spending unnecessary amounts of money on purchases that ultimately do little to impact your business. By taking realistic stock of where your business stands, you can ensure that each step you make is deliberate and, perhaps more important, necessary.

While these tips can't protect you from a poor purchase, they should hopefully steer you in the right direction. As with most business decisions, it's a good idea to enlist the aid of qualified specialists before going forward with anything. While these tips can give you a solid foundation to build from, you'll still need to make decisions based on the nature of your specific business.

Adult Hockey Leagues in New England

People who enjoy attending hockey tournaments Marlboro MA do so for more reasons than watching others play the sport. The people responsible for planning begin well in advance of the event to ensure there are enough activities for everyone to enjoy. From posting information on the tournament website to making announcements in the right places, you should know everything you need to know by the time the event starts.

Of course, this is not anything new if you are one of the regulars who attend every year. Having a selection of events from which to choose can be a blast for you and your family.

Watching Two Teams of Equal Caliber Compete

Fun and games are good to keep everyone entertained. However, the competitions are the primary reason most people sign up to attend these tournaments. Both sides are participating and neither plans to leave the tournament empty handed. This heightens the excitement of the games. Few things are worse than traveling miles to watch a game that ends with one team being completely blown away.
Great Food Options for Adults and Kids

At some point during the tournament, someone in your family will get hungry. You want to have decent options that satisfies everyone's palette. Some tournaments provide lunches for the children, which is certainly appreciated by parents. In some situations, food is sold as a fundraiser. You can feed your family and support a good cause at the same time.

Balance between Fundraising and Money-Driven Activities

Associations will use tournaments as a way to raise money for teams. This is totally accepted and expected. If you are a devoted hockey fan, being generous is not a problem when expectations are within reason. Different activities within the tournament serve this purpose.

Tournaments Have a Friendly and Welcoming Atmosphere

If you are like most people, you prefer to enter a space where you feel welcomed. Nothing is worse than going somewhere expecting to have a good time and a person in charge never makes you feel welcome. A smile, a handshake or even sharing good information goes a long way to being able to enjoy an event.

When people organizing the event are having a good time, those feelings will transfer organically to attendees. You will see and feel the difference because this may be the most important aspect of attending a hockey tournament.

Attending a tournament with decent game times in an environment that was designed for fun and enjoyment is essential. Your love of the game should never be dampened by a bad experience associated with the tournament.

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Guide to Buying Electrical Equipment Online

How to Buy Electrical Equipment Online

It doesn't seem like is was that long ago that you could walk around town and see multiple shops selling electrical equipment and supplies. These shops stocked everything from plugs and cables to entire machines. The rise of the internet though led to a number of shops shutting down. Those stores could no longer compete with the low prices found on the web. Even if you do have a shop in your neighborhood, it may not stock everything that you need. While you can buy electrical equipment online, you need to shop carefully to make sure that you get what you want and need.

Read the Description


Before you add any item to your cart, always read the description carefully. Pay special attention to the measurements listed to ensure that the product you buy will fit your project or need. Reading the description can also show you whether the item is in brand new condition or used condition. Some online companies specialize in refurbished supplies. These products come from customers that used those items and later returned those items.

Check the Shipping Prices and Times

When you find a great deal on electrical equipment and supplies online, you might feel like jumping for joy. Before you jump too high, take a look at both the shipping prices and times. Many online retailers offer extremely low prices on products because they charge so much for shipping. Those shipping rates may double the cost of the item and make it much more expensive than you can find it on another site. You also want to look at how long shipping will take. Companies based in other countries can take six to eight weeks or even longer to ship that item to you. If you need that product faster, it's worthwhile to pay a little extra.

Look for Reviews

Whether you buy from a web store or an auction site, you can learn more about the seller before you buy. Read reviews posted on other sites, and check the feedback of sellers on auction sites. This lets you see what other shoppers felt about their experiences buying from that person or store, including how much they paid for shipping and any issues they had. If you're in the market for electrical supplies and equipment that you can use at home or at work, click here to find a wide range of products.

Friday, November 25, 2016

The Best Dentist in Toronto - Part Two

Two years we wrote a review for Archer Dental, titled "The Best Dentist in Toronto - Part One".

During that review we stated our intention to try and find other equally good dentists.

Unfortunately thus far we have not managed to find any other dentist to equal it.

Also NOW Magazine's 2016 Reader's Choice Awards has just voted Archer Dental to be the Best Dental Practice in Toronto. So apparently we are not alone in that assessment.

Archer Dental has two locations:

Archer Dental Rosedale

600 Sherbourne Street, Suite 810
Toronto, ON M4X 1W4
416.964.0010
info@archerdental.ca

Archer Dental Runnymede

625 Runnymede Road
Toronto, Ontario M6S 3A3
416.763.2000
 runnymededental@drarcher.ca

Friday, September 30, 2016

Where to buy Leather Conditioner in Toronto?

Leather Conditioner is used for all sorts of leather products, from old boots, purses, baseball gloves, clothing, leather furniture, and a wide assortment of leather goods. As leather gets old it starts to crack from loss of moisture and the conditioner helps to reinvigorate the leather, trap moisture inside, and helps keep your old leather products from falling apart, cracking, etc.


At present we are not going to pass judgement on which leather conditioner is "best", although we would certainly be willing to try samples if various manufacturers wanted to ask us for a review.

BUT WHERE DO YOU BUY IT?

Unfortunately not a lot of stores actually sell Leather Conditioner. Here is a list of places I found which sell it:

#1. Northbound Leather on Yonge Street / 7 St Nicholas Street.

A 500 mL bottle is $26.

#2. Bootmaster at 609 Yonge Street.

An approx. 500 mL bottle is $19.95

#3. Tandy Leather, two locations: 5562 Tomken Rd, Mississauga; or 158 Anderson Avenue Unit 12, Markham

A 16 ounce spray bottle (Dr. Jackson's Leather Conditioner Pump 16 oz.) is $14.99

Note that this is not a complete list of stores in Toronto which sell leather conditioner. If you know of other stores which sell leather conditioner please post in the comments below, along with the size of the bottle lists in mL or ounces and the price at that store.

So if you are looking for the best price and the most convenience, traveling to Tandy Leather might be an option if you happen to be in Markham or Mississauga. But if you want convenience and are in downtown Toronto, then Bootmaster has the better price. Northbound Leather is clearly gouging on price (although they did have the best service of all three stores).

If you do manage to stop at Tandy Leather, we always recommend browsing their store and checking out their broad range of leather and fur products. Also for people who are into homemade leatherworking, there is no better place to buy everything they need.


Wednesday, September 14, 2016

How to deal with Debt Collection Agencies

And Why You Should Never Respond to Letters or Phone Calls from Debt Collectors

Disclaimer - This is not legal advice. We are not lawyers. If you have serious concerns consult a Consumer Protection lawyer.

#1. Never answer someone calling from a 1-877 number. They are usually scammers or debt collectors (or both). If you do answer and they identify themselves as a debt collector, immediately accuse them of running a scam and hang up the phone. If you have the option, immediately block all calls from that phone number.

#2. Avoid confirming your identity. If they ask if you are "John Smith", deny it and say they have the wrong number. Then hang up immediately.

#3. Never give anyone your date of birth or your social insurance number over the phone. They will try to trick you out of that by asking you to confirm your identity. Refuse. Say you don't give out that information over the phone due to privacy reasons. Even if they pretend to be from the government, accuse them of running a scam and hang up the phone.

#4. Debt collectors will often even try to collect on fake debt - debt that isn't even real and they are just making up. It is a scam they do.

#5. Debt collectors will also try to collect on old zombie debt - debt that has already passed the statute of limitations and is not real debt any more.

#6. If they try serve you with (bogus) legal papers, you should avoid service. You are under no legal requirement to answer the door or receive it.

#7. Do not sign any registered mail from an unknown source. If they try to serve you via registered mail or courier, refuse to sign and the mail will be returned to the sender.

#8. Even if they do manage to serve you, do not respond to any of their requests for you to mail them back and acknowledge the debt. You are under no legal requirement to answer their mail.

#9. If you do end up in court with a lawsuit somehow, demand proof that the debt is real. Repeatedly accuse them of trying to sue you using FAKE DEBT. Demand proof that the debt is real, that the person suing you actually owns the debt, the amount of the debt, the date of the debt, and when the statute of limitations wears off. And demand that they prove that you are the person they are looking for. If they are suing John Smith, how do we know they are not suing the wrong John Smith?

It all comes down to the following issues...

When debt collectors buy a debt all they are really buying is a spreadsheet document with the names, addresses, phone numbers, and amounts owed by hundreds or even thousands of people. They know very little about the actual person. They probably don't even have your social insurance number unless you make the mistake of giving it to them. Or the date of the debt. Or your birthday. Chances are they likely they don't even know your middle name.

And even if they do have your social insurance number, that doesn't matter. Because it still doesn't prove that the debt is real. If you demand full documentation and proof that the debt is real, they cannot do it because they don't any such documents.

All they have is a spreadsheet with your name and number on it.

They don't have a signed contract from you. Only the credit card company has that. Your contract was with the bank or credit card company. The debt collector is simply some hoser who buys and sells debt. They probably are not even Canadian. They are probably American.

Debt collectors will also try to threaten you with a lawsuit, but that is all it is. Empty threats. They will even go to lengths to make up fake lawyers who don't exist, fake law firm websites, try to serve you with bogus legal documents that aren't even filled out correctly / are not real, etc.

And you are under no legal obligation to answer any of it.

And even if you do end up in court, demand proof that the debt is real and refer to it as fake debt.

Because frankly they cannot prove the debt is real. Especially if they just made it up.

Below is a lovely video on this topic worth watching.



Thursday, September 8, 2016

The iPhone 7 - A Review of Useless Techno Gadgetry

The new Apple iPhone 7 is out... on September 16th in Canada.

And really the question you should be asking is "Why would I even want this?"

Let me elaborate.

#1. The Idiotic Audio Jack

The new Apple iPhone 7 is ditching the normal (standard, universal) audio jack in favour of its own Apple audio jack. This doesn't offer any improvement in sound quality, it is really just an excuse to sell you more Apple products for a lot more money than they are actually worth.

They are also including an adapter (shown below), so that people with old audio jacks can still use normal headphones. Basically you either have to use the Apple headphones (which will be expensive) or you have to remember to carry around the idiotic adapter all the time, and if you lose it and need to replace it, it will also be expensive.

From this point onwards the charging port will double as the audiojack, and users will be encouraged to also use wireless headphones instead (which require separate batteries, huzzah).


Oh and one more thing!

Using the charging port as the audio jack also comes with another problem. You cannot charge your phone while listening to the headphones at the same time (unless you have the AidPods mentioned further below).

Anyone who likes charging their phone while they are driving in the car often wants to be able to listen to music too. The audio jack/charging port takes away a lot of that convenience that people are used to.

Instead you have to buy an extra $40 USD adapter (shown right) just so you can listen on your headphones while charging your phone.

Which is a fancy way for Apple to fleece you one more time for an extra $40.

Oh and the adapter only supports 48 kHz / 24-bit audio output, so that you basically have no choice but to use Apple headphones. Which implies that if you like attaching your iPhone to your car stereo so you can use the cars speakers you might run into some compatibility problems. (Next thing you know Apple will come out with the Apple iCar Stereo, which is only compatible with other Apple products. It could happen...)

The adapter is also one more thing for you to lose or break or for the cat to chew on.

#2. The Usual Incremental Improvements

As is the norm whenever a company comes out with a new phone, they offer some small incremental improvements compared to the old phone, things like
  • faster processor
  • better battery life
  • more storage
  • nicer camera
  • slightly more water resistant
  • slightly more dustproof
  • yada yada
All such changes are basically the norm and is all part of the one-up-man-ship rivalry between various manufacturers. However if you already have an amazing phone in your pocket, the tiny incremental changes will seem pretty minor.

#3. More Zoom for your Camera

To elaborate on one of the incremental improvements mentioned above, lets look at the cameras for the iPhone 7 Plus. The back of the 7 Plus now has the regular wide-angle camera, and a second zoom optical camera just for zooming in more, up to 10 times. Having two cameras on the back also technically makes it possible for a person to make 3D videos, but only of objects that are very close to you / tiny - using it for anything else will give you an headache because the distance between the two camera lenses is too small.

Note that the regular Iphone 7 doesn't get the two cameras on the back. Only the 7 Plus gets that.

#4. Hints of 3D / Virtual Reality

Apple keeps hinting that they want to make their phones to become more like virtual reality headsets (selling you more gadgets), and it is basically implied that they are trying to get closer to making it a reality...

But the problem is the technology just isn't there yet, and neither is the demand.

The goal essentially is for people to be able to communicate (and play virtual reality games) with other people who are really far away, using one person's camera as interface to send the other person images of what they are seeing. Essentially a livestream 3D image of a real reality, transferred via the internet to another person who can then see it as a virtual reality.

However there is several problems...

A. Bandwidth speed is too slow to do what Apple wants it to do. The video ends up being really choppy, horrible, and sloooooow.

B. You look like a complete dork with an Apple iPhone strapped to your head. I don't care how much you manscape that beard, you still look like a dork.

Apple Virtual Reality Dork
Thus buying an iPhone 7 for its failed attempts at a level of technology that just isn't ready yet - and frankly will never be helpful to the dorks who cannot find a girlfriend.

Maybe that is really what Apple needs to invent. The "iGirlfriend", for dorks who cannot meet real women. She could be a virtual reality version of Siri.

This past Wednesday Apple held a press event in San Francisco and there is a complete lack of 3D / Virtual Reality demos during the event, perhaps suggesting that Apple knows they are not ready to be plunging into the dorky-ness foray of VR... At least not publicly.

#5. Be prepared to charge your Wireless Headphones Batteries

As mentioned further above, the Apple iPhone 7 is also pushing wireless headphones. Which means the headphones need their own batteries and have to be recharged regularly. If you ever feel we are actually going BACKWARDS with user-friendliness / ease of use, now is one of those moments.


The iPhone 7s come with charging port connectable wired earbuds, but Apple will also be selling wireless "AirPods" at a price of $219 in Canada. Yep, you heard correctly. $219 CDN for a pair of headphones you will quickly lose/break and it will cost you another $219 to replace them.

The AirPods have a very tiny battery life, 5 hours, and can only be recharged about 200 times before their battery life will be significantly decreased. So expect to have to buy a new set every 7 months or so as the batteries start dying all the time.

The Airpods also look pretty silly - like tiny miniature hair dryers. The "handle of the hair dryer" is to accomodate the battery, because apparently anything smaller would have such a short battery life span that it would make them useless and super annoying. So instead you get an unfashionable gadget that costs you $219 CDN... which you will frankly eventually want to lose on purpose just so you can stop wearing the damn things and use something more convenient.

We are not the only ones saying they look silly and are impractical either.

"Say what you will about focus groups, but the earbuds Apple introduced would have been laughed off and shortcomings identified in [five minutes]," says Kaan Yigit, president of Toronto-based analysis firm Solutions Research Group, on Twitter.

Apple executives meanwhile claim that what they are doing takes "courage" to ignore what people want. Their goal apparently is to instead charge the sheep more money while the shepherds continue to fleece them for every cent.

Some people like to claim headphones and many devices are now trending towards wirelessness, but they seem to forgetting a key component of the idea of "wireless + convenient". If it isn't more convenient to go wireless, then why bother going wireless? The market trends usually head towards whatever is the most CONVENIENT, regardless of what new tech ideas people come up with.

CONCLUSIONS

So...

The new Audiojack is idiotic, annoying and overpriced.
The AirPods are overpriced, annoying and will be useless after approx. 200 charges. Plus dorky.
The camera and other hardware has been incrementally improved. Nothing new there.
Apple is trying to go towards more 3D and VR tech, but can't get it to work properly yet. And even if they do someday, you look like a dork.

And the company is blatantly trying to rip people off. Remember that moron who jacked up the prices of an HIV drug by over 5000%, and those other morons who did the same thing for EpiPens and other medications? Well, Apple is basically doing the same thing, but at least your life doesn't depend on owning a phone that is more known for being a fashion accessory for idiots.

Idiotic, Annoying, Overpriced, Technology Not Ready Yet.

Saturday, August 27, 2016

Nestle Boycott, holding local supplies hostage

See previous post: Nestle and the Water Wars

This is our 2nd post about boycotting Nestle because of their greedy actions over buying up water supplies for pennies (or fractions of pennies) and selling it back to people with a 500,000% mark up or more.

Eg. Buying 1 litre of water for $0.01 and selling it for $5.00.

Across Canada Nestle is invading small towns and buying up water rights for pennies on the dollar, bribing local politicians under the table, and then destroying the local water economy. The small towns then see higher rates for their consumption of water due to a water shortage, while Nestle continues to pump out millions of litres for fractions of pennies on the dollar.

Eg. 1 miĺlion litres for $5,000 seems like a good deal, until you find out that it is equal to $0.005 per litre. Half a penny per litre.

Meanwhile the shortage of water causes the townsfolk to have their water bills skyrocket because there is no cap on how much water Nestle can take. They can literally take ALL of the water if they wanted to and sell it back to the locals with a 500,000%  to 1,000,000% mark up in price.

One such town in Ontario is the scenic Elora (home to the Elora Gorge). The town of Elora has been in a battle with the Nestle corporation over control of wells. For Elora, the availability of water isn't just an issue of keeping drinking water in the pipes affordable, the town's economy also relies on tourism drawn to the beautiful Elora Gorge. If Nestle pumps so much water out of the local water table that it ruins the economy, and drives up the cost of water bills, they could end up destroying the local economy and holding the townsfolk's water supply hostage.

And that is just the story of one town. There are many towns where Nestle is doing this. Buying up wells, paying tiny fees for removing millions of litres of water, and holding the local water supply hostage. The company is downright villainous.

We saw the image below on Facebook and decided to share it here. Please join us in boycotting all Nestle products.



Tuesday, August 9, 2016

Suicide Squad Fun, but Disappointing

Suicide Squad Movie Review
3 stars out of 5

The much hyped Suicide Squad film, the latest film in the DC Comic Book movie universe, was actually disappointing.

Margot Robbie, Will Smith, Jaret Leto and Viola Davis all do their jobs very well, but the pacing and plot of the film just feels...

Meh.

It was a fun film. Worth watching.

But we are happy we didn't bother seeing it in 3D and only saw the standard version.

It was an enjoyable film, and one of the better offerings currently available at movie theatres, but it was still disappointingly unable to keep up with the hype.

Other action films available currently:

Jason Bourne - 4.5 stars.
Star Trek Beyond - 5 stars. (We like this one so much we went to see it twice.)
Ghostbusters - 5 stars. (Again, saw it twice. Worth seeing in 3D.)
Central Intelligence - 2 stars. (That film was basically just a paycheque for the actors.)

Have not seen "The Legend of Tarzan" yet, it is on our To Do List.

Also curious to see "Train to Busan", a South Korean film about a zombie outbreak that sweeps the nation and a family traveling to the city of Busan, the only city unaffected by the virus.

Wednesday, August 3, 2016

Pokemon Go: The Fastest Growing Sport in the World

sport, spôrt
noun: sport; plural noun: sports
an activity involving physical exertion and skill in which an individual or team competes against another or others for entertainment.

Yup, that describes the breakout sensation that is "Pokemon Go", a smartphone game app that encourages people to go outside and exercise, traveling from Pokestop to Pokestop to Pokegym in an effort to collect and train lots of Pokemon.

It is both an individual sport and a team sport. I am thus listing "Pokemon Go" as 'entertainment', 'games' and 'exercise equipment'.

Speaking for myself, I have already lost 8 lbs of fat in the last 3 weeks. I ended up getting a sore ankle the one day because I walked about 7 or 8 km while wearing sandals. (Word to the wise, wear comfortable shoes when walking long distances.)

The game uses augmented reality, by turning your camera on and allowing you to see what is behind it and then adding a Pokemon critter to the screen. You then toss digital Pokeballs at the critter in order to capture them.

Your goals essentially are to:

1. Capture lots of Pokemon.
2. Walk from location to location to get more Pokeballs and other useful items.
3. Visit Pokegyms to battle other Pokemon / train your Pokemon against members of your own team.

The more you walk (or rollerblade or bicycle) the more Pokemon you can catch, the more Pokeballs you get, the more Pokegyms you can visit and train at. Driving (cheating) in a car might earn you some Pokemon and Pokeballs along the way, but most of the time you will be driving too fast and miss them.

The game is basically perfect for people who are into jogging, which ultimately makes it a "walking / jogging / running / cycling / rollerblading sport". You could even do it while riding on horseback.

What methods people use while playing the sport doesn't really matter, but what is clear is that the game designers are deliberately making it difficult for people to cheat at the game.

If you try to cheat by driving around you will often find that Pokemon go "poof" and disappear because they got out of range before you could catch them.

They also recently updated the software to make it more difficult to locate Pokemon. Random Pokemon can be seen nearby, but there used to be a gamer-made app named "Pokevision" which allowed users of the app to better be able to see where Pokemon are and then be able to simply walk over to that spot in an attempt to capture those Pokemon. The game designers however felt that Pokevision was cheating (and it was using Pokemon Go's servers without their permission) and thus sent cease and desist letters before eventually pulling the plug and blocking Pokevision from working.

Also certain aspects of the game, like hatching eggs can only be done by walking 2 or 5 kilometers. Speaking for myself, I have made a goal of walking 3.5 kilometers per day each day that I am playing the game. If I play every day during a month I will have walked 105 kilometers. (A 200 lb person walking 105 kilometers will burn approx. 8000 calories, + extra calories due to the Afterburn Effect if your heart rate goes up during that time.)

It is possible to buy Pokeballs and other useful items for playing the game, but if you are doing that then you are missing the whole point of the game, which is to get more people outside and exercising. Buying a Pokeball costs between 4 to 5 cents each, which makes purchasing them really impractical as you go through them very quickly. Also if you can just walk down the street and get free Pokeballs by exercising, why would you ever pay for them?

Recommendations:

Wear comfortable shoes.
Check the weather forecast before leaving.
Dress for the weather. Bring an umbrella if there might be rain.
For added speed ride your bicycle, rollerblades, skateboard, etc.
Invite friends and family who also play the game.
Attend meetups and join Facebook groups to meet other players.
Take a drink with you. Water is best.
Take a healthy snack with you. Apples are good. Granola bars are good too.
Take a backup battery power for your smartphone. Having the game open regularly drains the battery faster.
Keep track of how much bandwidth data you are using on your smartphone. (Last month I had just received my new cell phone and I downloaded a lot of programs on the first day of having the phone, so I had to be careful how much bandwidth I was using afterwards.)

Also you do not need to wear the silly hats. That is for the dorks who get really into it.

Already there has been 10s of millions of people who have downloaded Pokemon Go and started playing it, making it the fastest growing sport in the world.

Also the game is free. All you need is a smartphone and a data plan. No purchase necessary.

See also:

Pokemon Go as a Workout Plan

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Looking for an Optometrist in Toronto

By Charles Moffat, July 2016.

I am currently in the market for a new Optometrist in Toronto, preferably downtown or close to Leaside.

If people can recommend any optometrists in downtown Toronto or near Leaside, please post a comment below and I shall check them out.

Please be advised, only those places which offer free eye exams will be considered. I am not paying for 5 or more different eye exams at different locations before I decide which one I will go with to be my "permanent optometrist*". Or maybe I will just go with the first company I find, if their service is really good.

* I was with my previous optometrist for 11 years until that came to an end. So whoever wins my business will have it for a good long time.

Optometrists seem to offer free eye exams regularly as a way to bring in new customers, so finding a place which has both free eye exams and excellent service should in theory not be too hard.

Once I find a place that becomes my "choice" I will update this post to become a review of the location.


Friday, July 22, 2016

Star Trek Beyond = Excellent


We saw Star Trek Beyond today. In AVX 3D.

Excellent. Arguably better than the previous two films.

We especially liked the back and forth dialogue between Spock and McCoy. Everything about it was good. The plot, action rhythm, character motivations, more attention to the entire crew of characters, excellent graphics. Honestly we cannot think of anything wrong with this film. Not yet at least. (Give the idiot fanboys a chance however and they will probably start whining about some reason why they hate the film.)



Wednesday, July 20, 2016

How to Make Money off Amazon Kindle and Kobo

By Charles Moffat - July 2016.

Back during the 1990s I wrote a number of books (a trilogy called The Crimson Companions) that I never got around to publishing (or editing for that matter). In 2011 I finally published them on Amazon Kindle and they have been selling quite well, despite the fact that they were never properly edited.

I wrote a disclaimer at the front of the books explaining that I wrote them years ago, that they are essentially "unedited drafts" and may contain grammatical and spelling mistakes.

I added the disclaimer, a bit "About the Author" at the end, added some photoshopped cover art that I made myself and put them online.

For many years, between 1996 and 2006-ish one of the books from the trilogy wasn't even finished. I never wrote the ending. I knew how it ended. But I had never got around to writing it until years later when a fan wrote a letter to me asking how the story ended. He had seen the books online years ago on one of my websites, read all three books of the trilogy except for the ending of the third book, apparently loved the books, and then contacted me.

Now to be fair, when it was online on a website the final website for the various chapters was basically a message inviting people to contact me if they had read up to that point. So that one guy had read it and decided to contact me, wanting to know how it ended.

And then it happened again. A second person read all the books and contacted me.

And then a third did the same.

At which point I realized I should really finish the story, and thus did so. Took me three days, but I finished it. Felt really good too to have finished a novel I started writing in 1996 and it wasn't finished until roughly a decade later.

In 2011 a friend of mine introduced me to a website that she had self-published her cookbook on and encouraged me to do the same. So I did so, adding the disclaimers / about the author / cover art like I mentioned above. Then I tried the same thing and tried selling them on Kindle, realizing that Kindle had a larger ebook market.

And they have been selling reasonably well on Kindle. I make a small bit of income every month off of those three books.

The Crimson Companions Trilogy

I also wrote other books too, publishing them also on Kindle. Short stories and anthologies.

Later I also joined Kobo, making that a second source of ebook income.

And continued writing more books, short stories, anthologies and publishing them as ebooks. So far I have also published two books of poetry. Huzzah, more income from my books.

Advertising

When advertising the books online my primary goal has been to advertise my writing website: fiction.charlesmoffat.com and then mention that the books are available on Kindle and/or Kobo. That way I control the flow of visitors and people can then choose whether they want to purchase via Kindle or Kobo. It doesn't matter which people choose, the prices are the same for both and I make the same amount of money regardless of which source people choose.

I don't spend any money on advertising either. I focus on advertising on websites I own myself, and encourage word-of-mouth. If other people talk about my books and then advertise my books for free, that is a bonus for me. Awesome.

Pricing

When choosing prices for The Crimson Companions Trilogy I chose the following prices:

$3.99 for "The Paladin Assassin" because I wanted a cheaper introductory price so people could read it and it slightly cheaper than the other two books of the series.

$4.99 for both "Ice War" and "King Culprit". This meant I could make a good chunk of income off of the people who bought the books individually, one at a time. $13.97 total if they bought all 3 books.

$9.99 to buy all three books together as a trilogy, all at once. They would save roughly $4 buying the books that way. That way they save money buying all three, and I still make a decent amount. Win for the reader and win for me.

Many authors on Kindle and Kobo sell their books for a variety of prices, usually between 99 cents per book or $9.99 per book. Every time they make a sale they get 70% of the sale value. If they try to sell for more than $10 then the percentage drops to 30% or so, which encourages authors to stick within the advised pricing range. An author who jacks the price of the book up to $40 only gets $12 as a result. It makes no sense to be charging so much when they could charge $9.99 instead and sell more volume of books.

Another thing the ebook companies often do is drop the percentage if you want to sell the book for really cheap, in an attempt to sell books in sheer volume. Thus if you drop the price to 50 cents for example, they only give you 30% of that so you only make 15 cents per book sale. Now in theory you still might be able to make a good amount on selling the sheer volume of books, but it scarcely seems worthwhile when you could charge $2.99 instead and get 70% = $2.09 for every book sold.

People Judge a Book by its Title

One of the things I have learned about selling ebooks is that people often judge a book by its title. And the cover art. Both are important.

It could have no description at all, just a really interesting title, a good photograph on the cover, nice printing on the cover that makes it really bold and stand out - and people will buy it.

The writing itself could even horrible, sad to say.

Reviews of the book could end up being marginal, average or sub par and it would probably still sell.

One of the things I did back in 2012 is I wrote a book and published it Anonymously. I partially wrote it as a gag, but I also filled it with what I felt was some pretty good writing. I basically wanted to see if lots of people would purchase the ebook.

And they did. For the little effort I put into it, a surprising number of people have purchased that ebook. It made me realize that almost anyone could write ebooks and make some extra cash off of it as long as they had a good title and good cover image.

The topic obviously also matters. Topics similar to "Fifty Shades of Grey" sell really well on Kindle/Kob, for obvious reasons.

eBooks about "15th century English literature" in comparison don't draw a lot of attention. But some people might still buy such books if it is the ONLY book on that topic.

I checked... There are 136 books on Kindle currently about "15th century English literature", and oddly enough most of them are steamy romances. The one series even made me laugh:

The Hot Highlanders Series, by Mary Wine
"To Conquer a Highlander"
"Highland Hellcat"
"Highland Heat"

Apparently they are selling like "highlander hotcakes". Teehee.

So kudos to Mary Wine. I have not read her books, but she brings a little "heat" to the topic of 15th century English literature. Hahaha!

Conclusions? Practically anyone could write and sell books on Kindle or Kobo. It really isn't that difficult to do. I do recommend learning some writing skills, how to punctuate properly, and good spelling (or at least spellcheck what you are writing while you are writing it). That way whatever you do write should at least be above par.

Regarding eReaders

Most people who buy eReaders (tablets designed specifically for reading eBooks) are the type of people who really care about being able to read an eBook easily without straining their eyes.

Reading eBooks on tablets or smart phones might be handy, convenient and cheap, but it is bad for the eyes.

Years ago I spent some of the profits I was making off of Kindle and purchased a Kindle eReader, partially so I could see what my readers were seeing and get a better idea of how to format my books so that readers could enjoy them more.

I later sold my Kindle eReader and bought a Samsung tablet instead, just because it could be used for so many more things than just an eReader.

I regularly read books and PDFs on my Samsung tablet, but how often I read varies from week to week and to me having an eReader isn't a necessity. To someone who is reading more often than I do, daily perhaps, well then it would make sense for them to have an eReader.

I have the Kindle and Kobo apps also on my smart phone, which allows me to also read books while I am on the go. Thus I don't always have to be home reading off my tablet, I can read off my cellphone instead and it is more convenient when I am outside doing things and want to read something while traveling to and fro.

Weight wise eReaders don't really weigh that much anyone. The weight isn't much compared to a normal book. eReaders are also typically lighter than a tablet of similar size. The newer eReaders these days can also be used as tablets to browse the internet, check Facebook and Twitter, etc and are available in full colour.

The battery life is also really good and they charge using the standard smart phone USB cable (not the stupid Apple one which doesn't work anything but Apple). Because of the way eReaders show words they use very little energy in the screen and thus don't burn through the battery quickly.

So it is really up to the reader/customer. Tablet, smart phone, or eReader. It really depends on how often you are reading and whether you want a screen that doesn't bother your eyes when reading. Just because I decided to sell my Kindle eReader doesn't mean it was not a good product. I simply wanted a tablet more.

Note - Don't feel obligated to go buy an eReader if you are publishing eBooks on Kindle or Kobo. Try the apps instead first and if you end up using them a lot, then maybe consider buying an eReader.

Monday, July 18, 2016

Ghostbusters in 3D, Amazing!


With executive producer Dan Aykroyd at the helm, many people were worried that this reboot (complete with cameos from original Ghostbusters) would be horrible.

Oh how wrong they were.

The new Ghostbusters film isn't just amazing, it is arguably better than the first film in the franchise. This film is the "Batman Begins" / "Iron Man" of Ghostbusters films. It shows how they became the Ghostbusters.

Dan Aykroyd co-created the Ghostbusters franchise with Harold Ramis (Egon Spengler in the first two films) and for many years Dan and Harold sat on the franchise rights, wanting to make a 3rd film but never getting around to it.

Harold Ramis died in February 2014, his goal of a 3rd Ghostbusters film left unfulfilled. He stated back in 2009 he was hoping to get the film out in 2011, but when a serious illness knocked him off his feet in 2010 and robbed him of his mobility. He had to relearn how to walk again, but the illness relapsed and he again lost his ability to walk. He later died of complications.

A third Ghostbusters film was basically Harold Ramis' dying wish.

And so Dan Aykroyd made it happen, but with the realization that the original cast was too old to be pulling off the action stunts. Instead they recast everything, added cameos of the original cast members, placed a statue bust of Harold Ramis inside the old firehall, and did an amazing job writing a new film which depicts The Rise of the Ghostbusters. In all their humour and glory.

Naysayers of this film have lots to say about it, but sadly that is all they are: Naysayers. They haven't even SEEN the film. They don't know how amazing it is. If they had seen it they would know this is an incredible movie, that they did everything right in it, and that it should be winning awards for Comedy of the Year.

Also when you go see this film, definitely see it in IMAX 3D. It is totally worth it.



Wednesday, June 22, 2016

101 Wedding Shower Gift Ideas

Okay, not literally 101 ideas for Wedding Showers / Bridal Showers / Groom Showers... but it is the thought that counts. We shall add more gift ideas to this list in the future.

The concept of shared husband and wife "wedding showers" is a more modern idea in which gifts for the couple are given, often in his and her varieties. This way the husband doesn't feel left out. The concept of a groom shower is a very new idea, as it is basically replacing the old bachelor party idea with a more manly gift giving event.

The lists below can also be used for buying gifts for couples, or buying generic his/hers gifts for people that maybe you don't know that well. (If you know the person better and know for example that she is into power tools / etc, maybe use the groom list instead.)

Category 1, Traditional Gifts for a Bridal Shower
  • Linen napkins and napkin rings
  • Dessert plates and bake-ware
  • Tea set with teapot, possibly personalized
  • Picture frame
  • Crystal vase
  • Champagne glasses
  • Cashmere blankets
  • Mixer
  • Coffee maker
  • Pie plate
  • Dish towels and China
  • Bedding
  • Barware
  • Platters 
  • Cookware set 
  • Knife set
  • Lingerie
Category 2, Modern Gifts for a Bridal Shower
  • Certificate for a spa day
  • Coffee-table book of her favorite vacation spot
  • Bathing suit for the honeymoon (get her size from the groom)
  • Monthly wine or flower club membership
  • Getting-ready robe embroidered with new last name (i.e., Mrs. Harris)
  • Tent for two
  • Breakfast-in-bed tray and pajamas
  • Relaxation materials: scented candles and magazine subscriptions
  • Travel gear
  • Theater tickets
  • Museum memberships
  • Luggage and honeymoon guidebooks
  • Beach towels and a beach bag
  • Cool clock
  • Gardening set in a cute bag
  • Travel shoe bag
Category 3, Modern Gifts for a Wedding Shower
  • Dual Activity Gifts (eg. if you know they both enjoy cycling, gifts that pertain to cycling would be a good gift, provided you know that they don't already own the items in question)
  • His and Hers carry on luggage
  • Wine Decanter or Wine Rack or Wine Trough
  • His and Hers Watches (possibly with built-in GPS so they can track where their spouse is).
  • Sexy Truth or Dare Game (or other games for couples).
  • Fancy Salt and Pepper Shakers
  • His and Hers Coffee Mugs
  • Personalized His and Hers Coffee Mugs (photos of the couple or their names together on the mugs)
  • Double Sized Travel Hammock, so they can both be lazy.
  • Picnic Backpack or Picnic Hamper
  • Gift Cards that are handy for the Honeymoon
  • Books titled "Two in the Kitchen, a cookbook for newlyweds" and similar titles
  • Cedar chest or "Hope Chest" - perfect for storing linens in. The cedar protects fabric from moths. 
  • 1200 Thread Count Comforter, King Size
  • Airline Gift Card - basically the equivalent of a "Trip for Two to Somewhere")
  • His and Hers Bath Towels, Large Towels are Best
  • Archery Lessons for Two
  • Large two seater porch swing (preferably with cupholders)
  • Book titled "The Seven Principles of Making Marriage Work" and similar titles.
  • His and Hers Pillow Cases, with their names embroidered on the pillow cases
  • Kama Sutra Guide Book (avoid giving this book in front of too many conservative prying eyes)
  • Personalized Cutting Board


Category 4, Modern Gifts for a Groom Shower
  • Fishing Equipment - to be fair, make sure he actually likes fishing first
  • Hunting Gear - for those who like both fishing and hunting, a fishing/hunting gift basket would work nicely.
  • Sporting Equipment - golf equipment, archery equipment, gift card for running shoes, etc
  • Power Tools
  • Hand Tools / Sets of Tools
  • Tool boxes, larger the better
  • How To Guides to "Plumbing" and other household duties
  • Books titled "How to keep the Wife Happy" and similar titles.
  • Electronic gadgets - Bluetooth speakers, mood lighting,
  • Waffle maker with all the trimmings. eg. a Bubble Waffle Maker
  • Baseball Bat Electric Wine Opener, bottle openers of various sports affiliations (make sure the groom likes the team or sport in question)
  • Personalized Pocket Knife or Swiss Army Knife
  • Personalized Tools
  • Personalized Bottle Opener
  • BBQ
  • BBQ set of tools
  • Craft Beer Glasses
  • Beer Crafting Kit
  • Wooden Beer Carrier

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