Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Shopping for a New Cell Phone

So I recently (yesterday) decided to start browsing for a new cell phone. Partly because my old phone is getting pretty old, and I have to wonder if I can get something better - possibly even something that can do slow motion video, which is something I crave for making videos.

However as I begin browsing cell phones I also start looking at the specs and the reviews of various phones that are available.

For my purposes I am currently looking at Samsung phones, since my old phone is a Samsung and it has worked quite well for me during the past 3.75 years.

Purchased circa August 2012, the phone in question is a Samsung S II i9100 which comes with the following:

4.3 inch screen (480x800 pixels)
8 MP camera with 1080p at 30 fps
16 GB storage
1 GB RAM
1650 mAH battery life

Originally released in April 2011, it was an older model at the time I got it.

Now compare that to the Samsung Galaxy J1, which came out in January 2015.

4.3 inch screen (480x800 pixels)
5 MP camera with 720p at 30 fps
4 GB storage
512 MB RAM
1650 mAH battery life

Same screen size, a smaller camera, only one quarter of the storage space, half the ram, and the same batter life. It is actually a DOWNGRADE from my old phone. It is also slightly thicker and heavier.

So obviously that phone is clearly a dud. Also the reviews on the website I checked were dismal. It is the kind of phone you clearly don't want to buy.

Okay, fine.

Lets see what else Samsung has to offer.

Note - I won't be listing all the phones Samsung currently is offering, because some of them are remarkably similar to my old phone, or remarkably similar to the J1 above - which makes me wonder if we have reached the limits of how much technology we can pack into into a phone.

The Samsung S5 Neo

Released in August 2015
5.1 inch screen (1080x1920 pixels)
16 MP camera with 1080p at 30 fps
2 GB RAM
2800 mAH battery life

Now we're talking!!! Bigger screen, bigger camera, double the RAM of my old phone - and extra 1150 mAH worth of battery life over my old phone. This sounds like a dramatic improvement. Also as a bonus it is water resistant, which is something ALL phones should be.

The Samsung Galaxy S6

Released in April 2015
5.1 inch screen (1440x2560 pixels)
16 MP camera with 2160p@30fps, or 1080p@60fps, or 720p@120fps
3 GB RAM
2550 mAH battery life

Okay, so similar to the S5 Neo, but with a camera with a range of video options that makes me drool, lots of RAM, a slightly smaller batter than the S5 Neo, but still more battery power than my old phone. Definitely on the short list of possibilities. Thinner than my old phone, slightly heavier (likely due to the extra battery power).

The Samsung Galaxy S7

Released in March 2016
5.1 inch screen (1440x2560 pixels)
12 MP camera with 2160p@30fps, 1080p@60fps, 720p@240fps
4 GB RAM
3000 mAH battery life

I was wrong. They have found a way to fit more technology into a phone. With a slightly smaller camera - due to the fact they wanted to make the camera jut out less they decided to make it smaller, but still with the robust range of video options I crave, and a waaaaay bigger battery, and more RAM.

But there is some cost differences.

The S7 is $899 CDN at Virgin Mobile (my carrier of choice).
The S6 is $729 CDN.
The S5 Neo is $549 CDN.
And in case you are wondering the J1 is $129 - for a phone so bad, my old SII is actually better than it.

At present I am leaning towards the S6, mostly because its camera is slightly better than the S7, and because it is slightly cheaper. With a 2 year plan from Virgin I can also get it currently for a mere $149 CDN, which makes it much more reasonable.

Now you might wonder, wait, why aren't I even considering BlackBerry or Apple products.

Several reasons. Yes, BlackBerry is made in Canada, and I love it when products are made in Canada, but I have never liked the BlackBerry designs. They simply don't appeal to me.

As for Apple, Apple products break all the time. They are fragile. Count the number of times you've seen someone using an Apple iPhone with a broken screen because they are stuck in a contract and don't have a choice but to keep using their crappy broken iPhone.

Also I should note that with the exception of the screen and the case, the inner bits of iPhones are actually made by Samsung. Samsung makes all the electronic bits for iPhone, all Apple does is take the technology and repackage it inside a shiny case design and use their own software and their own batteries (see note further below). Thus why would I buy an Apple phone when it is really made by Samsung???

For purposes of comparison here is the Apple iPhone 6s specs:

Released in September 2015
4.7 inch screen (750x1334 pixels)
12 MP camera with 2160p@30fps, 1080p@60fps,1080p@120fps, 720p@240fps
2 GB RAM
1650 mAH battery life

Okay, so it has a smaller screen with less pixels. Camera is similar to the S7, but a little nicer. Only half the RAM of the S7, and only about half the battery life too. In fact, the Apple phone only has the battery life of my old SII phone.

What is also fascinating is that the pixel quality is so low that it is significantly WORSE than the camera. Compare to the Galaxy S6 or S7 and you can see they are making an effort to get the pixel quality higher.

Note - Wow. Apple really needs to invest in some better battery technology if they are still using the same batteries from 2011. This is 2016 already and they apparently are being left behind in the dust by Samsung with their 3000 mAH batteries.

We do similar to be stretching the limits of how much technology we can fit inside a cell phone. It might explain why Apple recently started to make their phones bigger, realizing perhaps that we now live in a world with tablets and where people play on their phones a lot - which means they want bigger screens for a better gaming experience. Apple is still clinging to old designs like the smaller 6s, but trying to play catch up by releasing bigger phones like the Apple iPhone 6s Plus.

Released in September 2015
5.5 inch screen (1080x1920 pixels)
12 MP camera with 2160p@30fps, 1080p@60fps, 1080p@120fps, 720p@240fps
2 GB RAM
2750 mAH battery life

In the spirit of one-up-manship it has a slightly bigger screen than the Samsung Galaxy S6 or S7 - but somehow has less pixels, which means the picture quality is still lower, the same camera as the regular iPhone 6s, the same RAM as the regular iPhone 6s, and a bigger battery. So basically all they did is make it a bigger screen with a bigger battery. Everything else is the same as the 6s. And still less pixels, and less battery power than the Samsung S7.

Fragile screens, shorter battery life, and the innards of a Samsung does not encourage me to buy an Apple product. It encourages me to buy a Samsung.

After all, why buy a phony rip off like Apple when you can get the real deal from Samsung.

For me, I am going to get the Samsung Galaxy S6. All the phone I need, the camera that I want, and a good price too. In theory I could wait awhile for the price to come down, but I will likely go get it sometime in the near future.



Happy Shopping!

Sunday, March 20, 2016

A Review of Capitalism

A Review of Capitalism...

Capitalism works better than socialism or communism. But it isn't perfect. Capitalism and the sole focus on money leads to greed causing harm to people's health and mental health. It is like a gambling addiction, wherein people are often forced to choose between a boring office job for 40 years and slowly kills their soul or a high paying job that causes you to be selling a product that slowly kills the consumer. Eg. Tobacco.

In North America the system pervades everything, even religion, and greed for the almighty dollar is the ruin of modern health via obesity, drug addiction and destroying the mental stability of consumers via a variety of means.

Clearly capitalism (and neo-capitalism) isn't working for our health (mental and physical) and to survive we need to adjust our methodology to create a system of Moral Capitalism. In such a system morality comes first and instead of poisoning people / destroying their mental health, we always question: "Is this moral?" before we try to sell a product or service or higher a person to do a task which we know is bad for people.

It isn't ideal because unfortunately there will always be people willing to do evil acts to make a quick buck, but people should be encouraged to operate personally on that level.

At present our current system inflicts harm on people all the time but people think they are powerless to stop a system that pervades society. But if we take personal responsibility for our own actions, suddenly we can change our actions and in turn set an example which does change the system, even if it is only a subtle change by adding the word Moral to the word Capitalism.

Friday, March 4, 2016

Sea Witch Fish and Chips

Note, To Do.

Sea Witch Fish and Chips located at 636 St Clair West, Toronto.

I keep going by it and I want to try their food sometime.

They have a mural down the street which is definitely effective advertising.

So kudos on their advertising at least.



Krazy Kitty Organic Catnip

So I decided to test out "The Original Krazy Kitty Organic Catnip" from krazykitty.com.

To test it out I filled an old "holy sock" with catnip - as in, all the catnip in a single package, 14 grams or half an ounce in this case - and then wrapped the sock up and bound it with three elastic bands to keep it firmly in place.

Then I gave the sock to Victoria to see how she would react to it.

I think the video below speaks volumes by itself. Definitely a positive review from Victoria. Later I took the sock away and she spent some time laying in her favourite box and then sitting on the window sill watching the world go by. Since that kind of behaviour is normal it is hard to judge, but she seemed rather sedated and tired after all that exercise.

I am hoping filling an old sock with catnip will prevent her from stealing my other socks in the future. She has a tendency to collect them and carry them like kittens to her favourite mat.



Friday, January 15, 2016

Duke of Richmond's Veggie Burger

Last year around mid January I became a vegetarian for 30 days as an experiment to see how it would go and tracked any weight loss, my food cravings, etc.

Needless to say I was craving bacon by Day 3.

However one of the best things I ate during that 30 day time period was the veggie burgers at the Duke of Richmond, at 20 Queen Street West, Toronto.

It was by far the best veggie burger I have ever had. (Most of them are really awful.)

A close 2nd was the Johnny Rockets near Dundas and Yonge (which closed last year because their lease ended).

The patty of the burger is made mostly from black beans, and for whatever reason, that ingredient made their veggie burgers really good. If I think about those veggie burgers for a bit my mouth starts to water at the memory of how good they taste.

I would even argue that it tastes BETTER than their beef burgers. The fact I am still oohing about the veggie burgers a year later shows just how amazing it was.

The Black Bean Veggie Burger sells for $12.99 at the Duke of Richmond, the same price as the Duke Burger.



Friday, December 18, 2015

The Battered Fish on Queen Street, Toronto

As fish and chips places go we are giving this place 4 stars out of 5.

The fish was good, the chips were awesome, the coleslaw was actually TOO cold, and the drinks reminded us of Subway (Coke products)...

Price wise it was comparable to going to South Street Burger - a gourmet fast food place that I also give 4.5 stars.

The Battered Fish has one major problem. Their menu is CONFUSING the first time you go there as it is all about mixing and matching things. A better solution would be to list 12 different popular combos, and options for customizing those combos. This complex mix and match process leaves customers struggling to say their order properly, as opposed to simply saying "I would like combo #3 please."

Also we felt there should be an option to "shark size" the combos, or "whale size" it. Or even "the Moby Dick". More for amusement's sake than anything else.

Which brings us to one last thought. Change the name to "Moby Dick's Fish N Chips". Much more awesome name. The Battered Fish is too meta.

Thursday, December 10, 2015

Gaudet Sweet Goods Inc. Apple Pie - where is the baking time???

Awhile back I purchased a "Gaudet Sweet Goods Inc. Apple Pie" and left it in the freezer.

Today I finally got it out and decided to bake it. Because I was hungry and said "Mmm apple pie... I love apple pie..."

Looking over the packaging I am trying to find the recommended appropriate baking time and temperature ...

And the packaging is blank on the subject of baking time.

It has all the nutritional info there. Just no recommended baking time and temperature. Nothing. Zilch.

Baking times can truly vary wildly from apple pie recipe to different apple pie recipe.

Judging by various recipes online it can vary between 20 minutes and 60 minutes.

  • For example one recipe calls for 425° F for 20 minutes.
  • Another recipe calls for something rather complex: 15 minutes at 425° F, then reduce the temperature to 350° F, and continue baking for 35 to 45 minutes.
  • Another calls for 375° F for 50 minutes.
  • A 4th recipe I found calls for: Bake at 450° F for 10 minutes.  Lower the heat to 350°F and continue to bake for an additional 40-45 minutes.

So apparently we are supposed to GUESS the appropriate baking temperature and time and then check the oven every 5 minutes to see if the pie is burning.

I think part of the problem is that Gaudet Sweet Goods Inc. is producing conveyor belt apple pie... the pies are made by machines, mass produced, and the company really doesn't care that they forgot to add recommended baking instructions on their pies.

Now I admit, I LOVE APPLE PIE. Hence why I purchased their product in the first place. I couldn't care less that a robot made the apple pie, I am sure it will taste great as long as it is baked properly.

Thus I am giving their company TWO THUMBS DOWN because of their lack of proper baking instructions. I don't care if it turns out to be the best apple pie I have ever eaten (which I doubt as it looks pretty generic), they should at least have the decency to list recommended baking instructions on the packaging.

Gaudet Sweet Goods Inc. is based in Acton Vale, Quebec. Shame on them!



Canadian Tire Xmas Shopping

Shopping at Canadian Tire is a bit of a holiday tradition for many Canadians.

However when doing so I often find the selection... disappointing.

So far this year I have done roughly 60 to 70% of my xmas shopping at Canadian Tire, but that total will likely change as xmas gets closer.

I also did a good chunk of my shopping this year at Pet Smart and Indigo, but that is dwarfed by the amount spent at Canadian Tire.

Certain hard to find xmas gifts are still on my list of things to get people, but I am admittedly delaying a bit before I go shopping for them - for various reasons.

Theoretically a person could buy all their gifts for every family member at Canadian Tire - but the selection would be a bit dull. For the really nice stuff you need to be going to specialty stores like:

Lee Valley or Home Depot for tools.
Pet Smart for pet supplies.
Sports Chek for sporting goods / clothing.
Marks Work Warehouse, H&M, etc for clothing.
Bed, Bath and Beyond for bathroom / bedroom items.
Home Depot or RONA for gardening tools.

Shopping at Canadian Tire is often more about convenience and price, as their variety is often short.



Scrubbing Bubbles Vs Scrub Free

Today I decided to do a test of two different products sitting in the closet next to the bathroom.

#1. Scrubbing Bubbles

#2. Scrub Free

Both claim to be able to scrub your bathtub with very little work involved. So I decided to do a double test, side by side. I sprayed half the bathtub with Scrubbing Bubbles and other half with Scrub Free.

I then walked away to play with our cat - see Victoria has Claws - and then came back.

When I returned the Scrubbing Bubbles side of the bathtub was noticeably cleaner. The Scrub Free half looked like nothing had even happened.

To finish the job I sprayed the Scrub Free half of the bathtub with Scrubbing Bubbles. Because apparently Scrub Free isn't living up to its name.

Which is weird because I remember using Scrub Free a lot when I was younger and seemed to always do the job, but now it doesn't seem to work that well. Could it be that Scrub Free has changed their formula to cheaper chemicals and now it does a shoddy job compared to what it used to do?


Spot Pet Laser Classic, Laser Pointer

Earlier today I went xmas shopping and got our cat (Victoria) a "Spot Pet Laser Classic" for $6.99 - basically it is laser pointer with 5 different shapes:

Classic Dot
Butterfly
Mouse
Happy Face
Star

I don't think the cat really cares which thing she is chasing, all I know she seems to really enjoy chasing it and trying to catch it. (I even made a video of her chasing it around in the dark, which I will likely post later on Victoria has Claws.)

I have determined I have a tendency to spoil our cat when it comes to cat toys. Whatever it takes to prevent her from clawing our faces off while we sleep.

Friday, November 27, 2015

Mockingjay Part 2

Review by Charles Moffat, November 2015.

As an archery instructor I am probably both the best and the worst person to be reviewing a film wherein archery is a theme.

Nevertheless, lets get the worst part over. I give Mockingjay Part 2 a meagre 3.5 out of 5 stars. Lets explain why...

#1. I am glad the film "trilogy" is over. Maybe next time someone makes a film or film trilogy with archery in it they will teach the actor or actress how to shoot properly. As an afficionado of all things warfare (from mangonels to trebuchets and from scimitars to khopeshes) I can tell you it really annoys me when a film or franchise doesn't even get the weaponry names or how they are properly used correct. In case you don't know, "Katniss" has been anchoring her fingers near her jawline, something only amateur archers would ever do when using a longbow or a traditional recurve. The proper place to anchor when using such a bow is on the mouth as it is a more consistent anchor point - there you go, you just learned something. Only archers using gadgetry use a jawline anchor.

#2. Having also read the books I must tell you that Mockingjay Part 2 has no surprises. No major changes from the third book. It is basically a somewhat dismal ending to a series, as if the author wasn't sure how to end it and decided on a somewhat lame plot twist.

#3. People die. Which is normal, people always die in the Hunger Games franchise. Still you do kind of wish they would have changed that bit, like watching Romeo and Juliet and wishing they would give it a happy ending for once - giving the audience what they want.

#4. There is really only ONE major archery scene in the film. I won't count a scene near the end because she really only shoots 1 arrow. (It could have been more interesting had she done a "double tap", but alas, no.)

#5. The acting was okay. To be expected. But the overall feel of the film is that it was a "Meh, that was okay." Not bad, not fantastic. So three stars makes sense.

The extra half star is there because the epilogue was good.

Scrubbing Bubbles Bathroom Cleaner

Noticed the bathtub tiles were dirty so tried out Scrubbing Bubbles all purpose cleaner - which is really meant for bathrooms, but I guess you could use it for other things.

When it comes to bathroom cleaners I just want the chemicals to do 99% of the WORK and the user should have to put in very little effort. Basically it should be so easy a lazy 5 year old could do it. Spray it on, let it sit for a few moments,  give it a light scrub if necessary and it is done. Ideally actually "scrubbing" the surface should be optional.

And in this case it was. When I scrubbed it I could not tell if the "Scrubbing Bubbles" had already done its job and it felt like I was scrubbing for the sake of scrubbing. So huzah. A product that fulfills what I wanted it to do.

Update - See my new post on this topic at Scrubbing Bubbles Vs Scrub Free.

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Fancy Feast Seafood



Gave our cat (Victoria) Fancy Feast Seafood today...

I am guessing you are supposed to mash it up with a fork or something first, however I gave it to her straight out of the can because she was so excited just at a whiff of the smell. She spent the first bit just licking it, apparently testing the flavour, but after awhile she dove in and started licking / muncing it up.

Colour wise the stuff looks a bit like chocolate ice cream, so it looks like she is licking chocolate ice cream. Weird but anywho.

Judging by the purring I am guessing she is giving it two paws up.

Thursday, October 22, 2015

Cat Toys on Amazon.ca

By C. Moffat

Today I browsed Amazon.ca for cat toys to see what things are available. And oddly enough discovered I could just make these toys myself.

First up is "Da Bird Go Cat Rod". It is quite literally a rod with string and some feathers attached to it. Not complicated at all. Indeed our cat Victoria has already been playing with something similar - except we used yarn instead of feathers. I did put a feather on the yarn at one point, but she ripped it off of there eventually. Since then I have replaced that with a heavier item because I felt the yarn was too light weight. You can see video of Victoria playing with the yawn version.

So my review for "Da Bird Go Cat Rod" is GO MAKE YOUR OWN! Don't waste $14.99 on some feathers on a string.

Note - If you stick the rod above a fan, the fan blows the yawn / feathers around like crazy and the cat goes nuts for it. It is basically an automated way of giving the cat some exercise. She runs back and forth doing "drive by clawing" at it.


Next up is cat springs, or as the official name on Amazon.ca goes "Ethical Pet Wide Durable Heavy Gauge Plastic Colorful Springs Cat Toy, 10-Pack"... Not sure how much she would play with that, but for only $4.90 it doesn't seem like a horrible price at least for a cat toy. I have some steel springs that just won't do the job. Curious to see what a cat would do with a brightly coloured plastic springs.

I have determined our cat is picky about what she chooses to play with. Yawn and feathers are awesome. Bits of crumpled plastic also good. Plastic springs? No idea.


Very similar to the plastic springs are "Mylar Balls", which is to say balls of scrunched up plastic. Again, this is something you can make yourself. You don't need to spend $5.99 on a pack of 4 mylar balls for the cat to have some fun. Leftover packaging will accomplish the same job.

I am not even going to bother showing a photo of the mylar balls. Complete waste of money.

Continuing down the list there is also various kinds of bouncy balls, bouncy mice on a dangling flexible rod (our cat would knock that over in the first 30 seconds), so-called "cat tunnels" for the cat to play in - as opposed to "a cardboard box" which apparently most cats love playing in,

And then we come to "OurPets 100-Percent North American Catnip Filled Banana Cat Toy A Peeling"... which is basically just plastic with catnip inside. I am pretty sure I could arrange that. When we got the cat one of the things we got came with a bonus bag of catnip. So we have the catnip, it is just a matter of how to use it.

When we got Victoria from the pet store they gave us a plush mouse chew toy which had apparently been in her cage with her. She has since lost all interest in that. Hasn't touched in more than twice since we first got her home. I am tempted to cut the mouse open, stuff it with catnip and resew it back up. She would probably go nuts for it then.

One thing I have that by accident she loves is plastic rats. I picked them up for Halloween a few years ago, and the cat loves those things. She bats them around, chews on them, etc. So if I wanted her to play with them even more I could just stick a hole in it, add catnip, seal the hole in a manner where can still smell it.

If you have suggestions for cat toys we should consider buying, or cat toys we can make ourselves please post your suggestions in the comment section below.

Monday, October 19, 2015

Xmas Shopping List for Men 2015

Not sure what to buy the men in your life for xmas? Here are some tips.

By C. Moffat.

Yesterday I sent my xmas list of suggestions to family members so they have some ideas of what to get me this year. I do this every year, usually sometime in September or October, because my family is super into xmas shopping and getting it done early.

Amongst the things I asked for this year were several things you could basically get for almost any man. Let me explain...

#1. Leather belts

Unless the man in question is a vegan who hates anything made of leather, chances are he probably needs more leather belts. Dress belts. Casual belts. Somewhat amusing belts. It doesn't matter. Belts are a good thing that every man wants and needs.

For the vegans out there, get a faux-leather belt that possibly looks and feels like the real thing. Or if you think they would be offended by something that looks like leather, see #2 below.

#2. Suspenders

Honestly, like belts, suspenders are one of those things men find very useful. Now not all men wear suspenders, but when they do they look awesome.

Lots of different styles of suspenders to choose from too. Myself I actually asked for two different kinds:

Black Suspenders. Because everything goes with black suspenders.

Moffat Family Tartan Suspenders - because certainly somebody out there has that, or something similar to that.

#3. T-Shirts

Regardless of what is on the t-shirt, men do like to wear t-shirts regularly as part of their casual wear. I wear them to work regularly too, so for me having lots of t-shirts is kind of a necessity.

I asked for two different kinds of t-shirts: thermal t-shirts that keep the body nice and warm; Avro Arrow t-shirts - which is pretty specific, but there are a lot of companies online which sell them.


#4. Tools and Toolboxes

Buying men tools for xmas is pretty much a tradition in my family. In my case this year I asked for specific tools: An old fashioned hand auger for drilling holes by hand; a small flat toolbox for storing chisels in. What can I say, I prefer hand tools over power tools these days.


#5. Magazine Subscriptions

Chances are likely the men in your life like reading about something - whether it is sports, fishing, hunting, motorcycles, cars, knitting... Thus getting him a subscription to a magazine he would enjoy is a pretty easy way to get them a gift - a gift that lasts 12 months of the year!

For me that topic in question is archery, and the magazine subscription I recommended is: "TradArchers' World", a magazine that caters specifically to traditional archery enthusiasts and bowyers.


#6. Sporting / Gaming Equipment

Many men are into sports. Not all but quite a few. Those who are not into sports are probably into gaming - video games like Call of Duty, Metal Gear Solid, Assassin's Creed, etc. So figure out whether the man in question is Sports or Games oriented and then figure out what they want with respect to that.

For me, I asked for fishing lures - because in addition to archery I also enjoy fishing.

One Last Tip... Pet Supplies

Many people, not just men, also have pets. Dogs, cats, fish, jackalopes... It doesn't matter. So getting them something for their cat, dog, fish or jackalope means that they will definitely use it. Find out what they have, if anything, and then consider pet supplies as an option.

For those people I know who have pets I make a special effort to get some kind of kitty treats or a dog chew toy for that person, as a small bonus on top of the gift. A magazine subscription and a bag of dog treats for Bowser shows that you actually put thought and effort into the gift giving.

A note about Gift Cards and Yankee Swap...

Do not get people gift cards unless it is for an office xmas party or something like that where you don't really know the person.

Also "Yankee Swap" is a horrible way of giving gifts amongst co-workers, so please don't do it for family members either. Horrible. What were you thinking?!

Canada's Four National Political Parties Reviewed as if they were Products

Hello Canada!

Today we are going to do something fun. We are going to review 4 of Canada's national political parties as if they were a product review. We are not going to talk about the leader's of those parties, because frankly those leaders are really just spokespeople for their party's political views. So let's get started in alphabetical order.

The Conservative Party

Canadians have been trying the Conservative Party on for size during the last 10 years and they don't quite fit. They come with a lot of baggage including 6 deficits, a $140 billion increase to the Canadian national debt, an unemployment rate that has left 236,200 more Canadians unemployed during the last 10 years, and as of Summer 2015 Canada is now in a recession. They also have a dismal environmental record, and apparently really don't like murdered/missing indigenous women, women having the right to choose, women's shelters, or Muslim women having the right to wear whatever clothing they want to wear. They also don't like Canadians having the right to privacy and apparently all in favour of spying on Canadians - with no oversight as to what they do with that information. On the plus side, if you are a rich Canadian you are probably even richer now because the Conservative Party spent 10 years lowering taxes on the rich.

The Conservative Party was created in 2003 when the Reform/Canadian Alliance Party and the Progressive Conservative Party merged to become a right-wing party with very little progressive values.

We give the Conservative Party 1 star out of 5. Clearly, they just don't fit Canada.

The Green Party

The Green Party of Canada was founded in 1983 and is Canada's smallest national party. They have a sum total of 1 member of parliament, and at their max they have only ever gained 2 seats. The Green Party is essentially the same as the Conservative Party, but with Greener (more environmentally friendly) values. Thus you would think that anyone who normally votes Conservative but also likes the environment would vote for the Green Party, right? Wrong. The party is so universally ignored - despite their resemblance to the old "Progressive Conservative Party" - that they are often left out of debates, completely sidelined / left in the penalty box, tossed aside like a moldy Tim Horton's donut, traded like an old hockey player that nobody wants, whatever Canadian metaphor you want to use. Basically, the Green Party is there to remind Canadians that we should do something about cleaning up the environment, and then we don't actually do it. Some people point to the fact that the party really only has 1 elected member, and that the one member lacks qualities that make for good leadership, but really it isn't about leadership. It is about the fact that most Canadians only pay lip service to the environment and simply don't care. Maybe 20 years from now when climate change has wrecked destruction across Canada, then Canadians will care and vote for the Green Party - but by then maybe the other parties will have changed their attitudes towards climate change and make it a bigger part of their focus.

No review for this particular party because they've never been given a chance to govern.

The Liberal Party

From 1993 to 2006 Canadians tried on the Liberal Party to see how we liked them. We kept them around for almost 14 years so that is a long time. During that 14 years Canada went through an economic boom, entered the war in Afghanistan but decided to stay out of the war in Iraq. In retrospect both of those decisions seemed to solid and wise decisions. 1993 to 2006 was a good time for Canada's middle class as their taxes were lower, the economy was solid, social programs were robust and helped people and the economy, and many more people had jobs back then. In 1995 things were so good that 49% of the people in Quebec tried to leave Canada and 51% said no, we don't want to leave. At that same time the Liberals spent millions of dollars of government money on advertising in an effort to keep Quebec as part of government. That advertising money later became a spot of confusion about what the money was used for exactly, and some people accused the Liberal Party of using some of the money for their own re-election efforts in Quebec. Whether you believe that the Liberal Party used the money correctly, or whether it was part of the so-called "Sponsorship Scandal", nobody really knows because too many unanswered questions were involved. What we do know is that Quebec is still part of Canada and that the Liberals were tossed out in 2006.

We give the Liberal Party 3 stars out of 5 because they did pretty well last time around, but they also did very little to address safe drinking water / murder rates in Native communities, and they need to be more clear about what they are spending things on. Clearly, they need to work harder.

The New Democratic Party

The NDP has never formed a government in Canada. They have only recently (2011 to 2015) been the official opposition. They have no experience running a government, but hey, neither did the Conservatives. The party was founded in 1961 and during the last 55 years have supported various minority governments for better healthcare, more social programs to help reduce poverty in Canada, and environmental protectionism. But we've never tried the NDP as a government, because we really don't know much about them. We do know they are in favour of raising taxes on the rich, more social spending to help the poor, and more laws to protect the environment.

These all sound great on paper (unless you are rich), but it is a bit like trying a strange food that you've never had before. You don't know what it is going to taste like so you are not sure what is going to happen when you finally try it. It might be very good, it might be very bad, or it might have both pros and cons. Clearly it would be good for anyone who is struggling in the economy, but anybody who makes lots of money would probably be very upset that they suddenly have to pay more taxes to help "welfare cases".

However as the NDP are quick to point out, welfare in Canada isn't all that great anyway. It is basically just there to prevent people (often single mothers) from becoming homeless and their kids being taken by the state - which would cost the Canadian government more money in the long run to take care of problem kids, not to mention legal costs, a high suicide rate of crown wards, etc. Ultimately it is cheaper to support welfare than to fill up the crown ward system.

So at this time we are going to withhold judgment on the NDP because they still haven't been given a chance. Maybe someday, but for now we clearly don't know enough to give a proper review.




NOTE

We have deliberately left the Bloc Québécois out of this review because they are not actually a Canadian political party in any real sense. As a Quebec separatist party their sole purpose is regional, and usually with an effort towards gaining Quebec extra favours - usually in the form of handouts from Ottawa. This makes the rest of the country upset, as Quebec's economy is actually quite strong and they should actually be giving extra money to poorer regions of the country instead of getting handouts. It would be like rich people standing on street corners asking for charity. They don't need it and they should be ashamed to ask for it.

If it was up to us, we would only give money to Quebec (and other provinces) with conditions attached. eg. Start by getting clean drinking water in Native communities. If you don't do that first, why should we give you extra money? It is like dealing with a spoiled teenager who doesn't want to clean their room. Cut off their allowance until they clean up their act.

"Oh you want more money from Ottawa? See those communities who don't even have clean drinking water. Fix those first and then you can have your allowance."

Saturday, October 17, 2015

The Wit and Wisdom of Downton Abbey - A Book Review

By C. Moffat.

Yesterday I checked the mail and my copy of "The Wit and Wisdom of Downton Abbey" arrived. The book is a collection of quotes compiled by Jessica Fellowes from the TV show Downton Abbey.

My girlfriend introduced me to Downtown Abbey two years ago and I have been a fan ever since. Since then I believe I have probably seen every episode at least 3 times. Because they are worth re-watching.

When you consider that I normally favour more action-based TV shows like Arrow, Flash, Top Gear, CSI (Vegas), Daredevil, Doctor Who, Game of Thrones, The Walking Dead, Archer, Hell on Wheels, etc then it comes as a bit of a surprise that I also like Downton Abbey.

I should also note that I also like Coronation Street, and am a fan of British television in general, so maybe it shouldn't be that unusual.

Anyway, the book is basically a quote book of lines from the TV show divided up into subjects like love, death, hope, family, parenting, and also more specific topics like:

"On the Upper Classes"

"Fight for your Rights"

"Lessons in Flirting"

"How to manage the Servants..."

"Huntin', Shootin', Fishin'"

The last one I wish there was something about archery, but hey I am obsessed. I would love it if there was a character on the show who practiced archery.

The book is an enjoyable read - especially any by Violet.

A lot of similar quotes that are found in the book can also be found online in memes, but they won't be so stylishly bound together in red hardcover and Times font. And such memes would be hopelessly lost in a horde of other memes and comments from people who have never heard of Downton Abbey saying things like "What is Downtown Abbey?"

The book retails in Canada for $18.50 CDN. Which to Downton Abbey fans is a price well worth paying. I predict people will enjoy reading this book in bed, on the subway, on the toilet - it doesn't matter. What is important is that book actually manages to dispense both sound advice to the reader, and a dose of good humour.

On a scale of 1 to Amazing, I give this book a score of "Waaaaaay better than reading the Bible". Take that!




Kitty Treats for Cats / Training Your Cat

In an effort to train our cat Victoria we have tried rewarding her with Whiskas Temptations (seafood flavour).

What we have determined is that the cat exhibits positive behavioural characteristics when kitty treats are involved. Even the rattle of the treats inside the bag is enough to change the cat's mood and suddenly she is very friendly, less aggressive, and easier to deal with.

In contrast when she is misbehaving she gets the water gun. We tried using a spray nozzle, but determined it doesn't quite work all the time and doesn't spray very effectively. Instead we adopted a Walter PPK plastic water gun as our method of negative reinforcement of behaviours.

At present, just the sight of the water gun or the spray nozzle causes the cat to scurry away - and her negative behavoural traits (aggressive biting) have been reduced significantly compared to when we first got her.

As a rescue cat from the Toronto Humane Society they warned us that she does like to bite - mostly as a way as expressing her dominance, but also as a way of expressing displeasure - and sometimes she just bites because she is feeling playful.

When we got her we were tempted to name her Luisa Suarez, after the soccer player Luis Suarez who is known for biting people.

However we felt that naming her after a vampire who plays soccer was a little too much, so instead we opted for a more regal sounding name - thus we chose Victoria, after Queen Victoria.

Although sometimes I think it should be Queen Bitoria.

Anyway, back to the Whiskas Temptations (seafood medley) - Victoria goes nuts for this stuff. Her behaviour completely changes and using it as a treat for behaviour modification (rewarding her for good behaviour) appears to be working. Thus we are giving it a thumbs up.

We may try other brands / flavours in the future, but for now seafood seems to be working just fine.

Friday, October 16, 2015

Why is the Pickle Barrel's burgers so small?

Went to the Pickle Barrel today. I have been there previously and they used to have large burgers.

Today however... Tiny burger. Tiny. As in McDonalds burgers are bigger. Years ago the burgers at Pickle Barrel used to be quite large, large bun, 1 large thick patty. Now they use a small bun and stick two small patties on there, making it smaller than a Big Mac from McDonalds. (And the Big Mac isn't that "big".)

Tasted like a McDonalds burger too. Very strange.

So it was basically an overpriced McDonalds burger served with a salad. The salad was good, the burger was not.

The burger was also delivered surprisingly fast - like McDonalds fast. And it was undercooked. Medium rare. Not impressed by that either.

Service was par. Nothing impressive there either.

Overall I give The Pickle Barrel 1 star out of 5. It was edible and the service was par. They should be embarrassed.

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Cat Product Reviews

Product Reviews Canada now has a cat - Victoria, after Queen Victoria. In the future we will be adding cat oriented product reviews for cat food, scratching posts, kitty litter, cat brushes (Victoria is a longhair mixed), cleaning supplies, odour removal, cat carriers, cat toys, cat treats and more.

Companies with such products who are looking for product reviews are advised to contact us.

We got Victoria from "Pet Smart" with a donation to the Toronto Humane Society. Victoria is a rescue cat as her previous owner abandoned her and she was picked up and cared for by the Toronto Humane Society. The donation was approx. $99.

Victoria is grey, has long hair with bits of orange in it and despite being only 2 the grey hair makes her look quite old. She has a habit of biting people if she gets annoyed which means she is not good with children. I will say you start to develop faster reflexes with your hands for her moods can switch rapidly.

Note to self - buy chew toys.





Update October 19th

The Toronto Humane Society has literally thousands of cats that need homes. If you have a home, and you like cats, why not get a cat that needs some love? We did. And we really like her. Victoria is now part of our family - and we are currently building her YouTube Channel at:

Victoria Has Claws

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Ivory Vikings, a Book Review

By C. Moffat.

As someone who has been into woodcarving since the age of 8, and even recently got into carving antler, I found this book to be fascinating. I also am into archaeology, Viking history, and Scottish history. So this book was good on all these topics.

I also as a kid played chess competitively, and can, in my opinion, hold my own. When I resumed playing chess in university I discovered I had only gotten better with age.

The book we are discussing here, "Ivory Vikings" by Nancy Marie Brown, is about a selection of Viking-era Chess pieces found on a beach in north-west Scotland. The majority of the pieces are carved from walrus ivory, and are believed to have been carved in Iceland roughly 600 - 700 years ago.

This is not a storybook. Rather I would classify it as a complete investigation into the mystery surrounding these marvelously carved chess pieces. The total number of chess pieces suggest they were once in a sack containing a total of 4 - 5 complete sets, but sadly many of the pieces are missing and if you mixed and matched the sets you would only get two complete sets.

Reading the book you will however learn lots about the carver(s) of the chess pieces. It is my personal suspicion that like all great artists, the artist who created the chess pieces had apprentices who would do the work on the lesser pieces. Reading the book you may come to a similar conclusion to mine. The author has her own theories so I won't spoil it and let the reader make up their own mind when they read the various theories on the topic.

Now you might be wondering - Wait, why is it a whole book about some mysterious ivory chess pieces? Well these particular chess pieces are the most famous and valuable pieces in the world, they are considered to be invaluable. The value of a single face piece is in the millions. The pawns less so.

While reading the book I even daydreamed of writing a movie script about stealing the chess pieces and a Sherlock Holmes-esque caper to get the pieces back. Perhaps the chess pieces could even be reunited with the full set in the film... With some villainous character having found the missing pieces and deciding they wanted the full set.

Anyway, I think I made my point. Ivory Vikings is an inspiring book to read. It tantalizes the imagination.

Replicas of the Ivory Vikings were used in one of the Harry Potter films.

Also while I am at it the TV series "Vikings" (an action drama produced by the History Channel) is fantastic. I definitely recommend watching it. Below is the trailer for Season One. Season Four will likely begin airing in February 2016.


How to Judge Restaurants based on their Restroom

This post came about by accident.

My girlfriend and I went out to eat at the Indian restaurant "Amaya" on Bayview Avenue in Leaside - and upscale area of Toronto. Which you would think would mean the food is good and the restrooms are clean.

Before ordering I went to use the restroom and discovered a little surprise. A cockroach, live, swimming in the toilet. The rest of the restroom was equally disgusting. As was the basement where the restroom was located. The stairs to the basement were also a tripping hazard, I tripped once on the way down and once on the way up. Wow.

Needless to say we left almost immediately.

We went down the street to "Kama Sutra" instead, another Indian restaurant in the same neighbourhood. The restroom was so nice it had music, smelled of air freshener, and was super clean.
What this tells you is that you get what you pay for. At Amaya the food might be cheaper, but it might also contain cockroaches or their droppings. At Kama Sutra it is pricier, but the food is excellent and cockroach free.

Also I should note the service at Kama Sutra was excellent, the butter chicken was awesome, there is a large selection of beverages to choose from - and they have live music on Thursday nights.

We shall have to go back again sometime.

Behold, the live cockroach in the toilet at Amaya, 1574 Bayview Ave.
Behold, the sparkling clean (and amazingly fresh smelling) toilet at "Kama Sutra", 1522 Bayview Ave.

Aerodynamic components and Industrial Inventory

Looking Online for Industrial Inventory

When you are in charge of keeping your company's industrial inventory replenished, you want to know what options are available that will let you satisfy your duties to your employer, but also give the workers in the factory the best materials with which to work. Rather than restrict your choices to local suppliers, you may enjoy a better selection when you shop online. By shopping on the Internet, you can find materials like aerospace metals and alloys that your employer can use to create its line of products. You also can determine in what format you would like to have this inventory shipped to your factory.

If your employer specializes in making aerodynamic components like wings or fronts of airplanes, you need a material that is lightweight and capable of surviving high altitudes. You could learn more about aluminum and why this material still remains one of the most popular to use in this industry. When you shop online for aluminum, you can learn about its weight and dimensions. If it meets your employer's needs, you can then order the appropriate amount.

Other metals available for you to consider include copper and stainless steel. Both of these metals are heavier than aluminum. Nonetheless, they have their place in the industrial arena. If your factory produces accessories or equipment used in the aeronautic field, these materials may provide the durability that your clients expect when ordering such items from you. You can read up on these materials and learn more about their weights, dimensions, and other specifications online as well.

If you are new to ordering or working with any of these materials, you may be well served by reading the blog found on the supplier's website. The blog can fill you in on key information such as why these materials are popular, how they are produced, and for what purpose they can be used. You can also learn in what format they are available for shipping. For example, if your factory has a narrow, but tall door, you may prefer that your metals be shipped in roll form instead of sheet form. The rolls can fit through the doorways better. Likewise, if your factory has a wide, expansive dock area you can ask that the metals be shipped in sheet form. Sheets of metal are unblemished and ready to cut right away to make products.

Thursday, October 1, 2015

iHome Wireless Go+ Splashproof Portable Speaker

A portable bluetooth water-resistant speaker - handy, reliable, difficult to break.

By C. Moffat.

I have been meaning to write this review for several months now. About time I finally got it done.

I purchased the iHome Wireless Go+ Splashproof Portable Speaker at a Best Buy months ago and very quickly discovered it is an awesome little speaker with great sound quality and LOUD for such a small speaker.

Its small size belies its incredible power, it is rechargeable using a standard cellphone USB, can communicate with any BlueTooth device - I use it mostly with my cellphone, but I have also used it with my tablet and laptop for added volume.

The device is also very durable. Its rubber / steel outer layers means this speaker simply bounces off of any surface it falls onto. You would basically have to deliberately attempt to break the speaker in order to prove it can be broken. I have dropped it countless times, not so much as a scratch.

Oddly enough Best Buy no longer seems to sell this particular product, however iHome makes a variety of other BlueTooth speakers in a range of sizes and shapes which are also available at Best Buy.

Other websites have given the iHome Wireless Go+ Splashproof Portable Speaker four stars out of five, but I give it five stars out of five because it does exactly what it is supposed to do, is incredibly good quality, and was a pretty fair price.

I have seen it advertised at other stores for $39.99. According to my receipt from June 20th I paid $54.99 + HST, so the price has also come down a bit since June.

Monday, September 21, 2015

Why does Amazon not accept PayPal?

By C. Moffat

Amazon is one of the world's largest online marketplaces for ordering pretty much anything you want.

PayPal is basically the world's largest online bank, the preferred way to pay for things online because it is safe, secure and fast. In 2014, PayPal moved $228 billion in 26 currencies across more than 190 nations.

So you would think it would make sense that Amazon would accept payments via PayPal...? Wouldn't you?

It would, except that PayPal used to be owned by eBay - an online rival marketplace, but one that focuses on auctioning off used items to the highest bidder.

Now you would think Amazon, which sells new items, and that eBay, which sells mostly used items, would not be rivals, but for whatever reason they are.

In order to better facilitate eBay's users they started the company PayPal to make it easier for people to pay for things online - and PayPal spread across the internet, becoming one of the best ways to safely and quickly transfer money to pay for things, send money to family/friends, etc.

Below is a Live Chat conversation I had with a "Help Representative" from Amazon. He deliberately avoided the real answer as to WHY Amazon doesn't accept PayPal.



The funny thing is that eBay doesn't even own PayPal any more. They are now separate companies, and have been completely separate since July 18th, 2015.

So admittedly the split was very recent. But still this would be an opportunity for Amazon to finally step up their game by accepting PayPal - and what is more they had roughly a year to prepare for the July 18th split, as eBay announced plans to split PayPal off from the parent company back in 2014.

So will greed finally win out and consumers will finally have another option instead of credit cards (which are notoriously problematic to use online)...?

Only time will tell.

What I will tell you is that I have 6 items in my eBay Shopping Cart waiting to be paid for - and I am not going to bother buying them until eBay gets their act together.

Thursday, September 17, 2015

Creed



On November 25th a new film is coming out featuring 'Rocky Balboa', except the film isn't about Rocky for once. It is about Apollo Creed's son.

If you are familiar with the Rocky film series you should know who Apollo Creed is - he was in 4 of the films after all and was killed during the 4th film by Soviet Union boxer Ivan Drago. What they don't talk about in that film and the films that follow is what happens to Apollo Creed's wife and son - and thus we come to the new film "Creed", due out in November.

Oddly enough the new Creed film sets the franchise up for more possible films in the future, with Rocky potentially coaching other boxers to success. One I would like to see: Rocky coaching a female Olympic boxer for the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo. Timing wise the boxer in question could actually be his granddaughter.

Trailer Below



For fun here is a YouTube clip of the fight between Ivan Drago and Apollo Creed.


Forbidden Empire


"Forbidden Empire" is a horror / action film produced in Russia / Ukraine and it was released in the USA in May 2015.

However it never got a theatrical release in Canada, for some unknown reason.

That doesn't mean that this movie isn't very good however. It just means it didn't get a lot of press or media coverage in Canada. In the USA the film received mixed reviews, with some people really liking and others less so. In Russia the film set a new box office record, which gives a good indication that the film is actually good - despite it being an English film made in Czech Republic that was then dubbed into Russian. (Yes, I agree, that is weird.)

Truth be told, it is difficult for movies made in Russia, Asia, Europe, Africa or South America to do well in the USA - mostly due to poor distribution, and having almost nothing to do with the quality of the plot, the actors, the computer graphics, etc. It has a lot to do with the fact many of the film companies in Hollywood are part of conglomerates which also own television stations, traditional print media such as newspapers and magazines, and have access to a vast network of resources to advertise, promote and get their films into the theatres.

Also name wise the name "Forbidden Empire" sounds too much like the Chinese film "Forbidden Kingdom", and the two films are really nothing alike. But it does seem to cause confusion when trying to Google the name.

Below is the trailer for the film. My goal here however is not to review the film. It is to tempt the curious to watch the trailer, go "Whoa! This looks really good!" and then make an effort to see the film. If you end up liking or disliking the film please post your reviews in the comment section further below.


Monday, September 14, 2015

Blood Song, a Book Review

Review by C. Moffat.
  • ISBN-10: 0425268284
  • ISBN-13: 978-0425268285
I purchased a copy of "Blood Song" over a month ago at an Indigo. At the time I knew nothing about the fantasy author, Anthony Ryan, what I did know is that it was part of a three book trilogy called "Raven's Shadow" and the 2nd book "Tower Lord" had a recurve bow on the cover. That was basically it. I bought the first book of the trilogy just because of the cover of the 2nd book.
So reading the book I didn't really have high expectations. I knew zero about the author, and I had basically bought the book on a whim.

What I got however was a five star book that within the first several chapters made me wish someone would make a film based on the book. Half way through the book however I determined that "Blood Song" was too complex a book to be made into a film. Let me elaborate and hopefully I won't give away too many spoilers. 

"Blood Song" is about a young warrior monk named Vaelin Al Sorna who as a boy is left at the door of the Sixth Order - an elite order of warrior monks. The first several chapters feel a bit like reading Harry Potter books as the boy grows and is trained as a warrior, learning skills like swordsmanship,  archery, hand to hand fighting, wilderness survival/tracking/hunting, stealth, etc. By the time he is done his training Vaelin is basically part ranger, part warrior-monk. However this only provides you with a better understanding of Vaelin's childhood and training - and introduces you to several key plot points that come back later in the book.

The world of the "Raven's Shadow" trilogy is low magic, but what little magic does exist is called "the Dark" and is innate abilities that only a few possess. Combined with this is "the Faith", which is the dominant religion of the United Realm. The Faith is the belief not in a god, but in the Departed (dead souls) that speak to mankind from the Beyond. The Faith operates six orders dedicated to different topics, the sixth of which is the elite warrior-monks mentioned above.

Within the United Realm all is not well however, as they were united against their will and many parts of the realm are restless, which in turn causes skirmishes and wars. Outside of the realm is also the Alpiran Empire to the south, a wealthy region of city-states separated by vast deserts - and another source of potential war thanks to scheming and greedy leaders.

I don't want to spoil the plot for anyone reading this, so instead I am trying to give more background on the setting rather than spoil anything for would be readers. What I will say is that I was very happy with the storytelling and the ending. I can't wait to read the next two books.


Tuesday, September 1, 2015

UPS Vs USPS / Canada Post

I went to UPS earlier this evening at approx. 7 PM to pick up a package (a notice was left on my mailbox when I got home). Behold, the UPS location near Bayview and Eglinton was closed. They closed at 6 PM.

These are their hours.

Monday - 9:00 AM - 6:00 PM
Tuesday - 9:00 AM - 6:00 PM
Wednesday - 9:00 AM - 6:00 PM
Thursday - 9:00 AM - 6:00 PM
Friday - 9:00 AM - 6:00 PM
Saturday - 10:00 AM - 4:00 PM
Sunday - Closed

I also went to Canada Post on Bayview around the same time to pick up a separate package. Behold they were open!

These are their hours:

Monday - 10:00 AM - 06:00 PM
Tuesday - 08:00 AM - Midnight
Wednesday - 08:00 AM - Midnight
Thursday - 08:00 AM - Midnight
Friday - 08:00 AM - Midnight
Saturday - 08:00 AM - Midnight
Sunday - 08:00 AM - Midnight

Now think about this a bit.

Most people work 9 to 5 jobs. That means that if UPS closes at 6 PM and they want to pick up a package they need to rush to the UPS location after work, DURING RUSH HOUR, and try to get the store location before 6 PM so they can pick up their package.

When you order something online from the United States and have it sent via USPS (United States Postal Service) it gets transferred to the care of Canada Post when it arrives in Canada. And vice for Americans ordering things online from Canada, having it sent via Canada Post and then ultimately delivered by USPS.

I have NEVER had any problems with the quality of service or speed of Canada Post / USPS. In fact I have learned to trust them more than conventional courier companies. eg. I HATE DHL Express Courier.

I also really dislike how couriers charge extra for shipping across the Canada/USA border, even though the distance they are shipping might be less than shipping from say Florida to Texas. See my old post Courier Shipping Prices: Canada Vs USA

But what REALLY annoys me, on the topic of UPS versus USPS/Canada Post is that UPS is slow, has annoying hours when their location is actually open, and has the gall to charge people extra for what they claim is faster service...

However as shown by my recent purchase of three items of identical size and shape from two locations in the USA and from one location in Canada, all paid for around the same time, and shipped around the same time, the first item to arrive was USPS Priority Courier from the USA.

In contrast the UPS item showed up a day later but I decided to try and pick them both up the same day - earlier today.

The third item, shipped from Quebec, was the last of the three to be paid for and shipped and will likely arrive tomorrow. Oddly enough I will probably receive it before the UPS package simply because Canada Post has much better service/hours than UPS.

UPS might have a nice slogan and those brown uniforms their employees wear, but their service is horrible in my opinion.

Note - For reference the three items I purchased were three vintage bows on eBay.

A 1975 Browning Wasp Recurve Bow from Pointe-Claire, Quebec. [Canada Post]

A circa 1972 Black Hawk Avenger Recurve Bow from Vintondale, Pennsylvania. [USPS]

A circa 1966-67 Ben Pearson Cougar Recurve Bow from Cameron, Wisconsin. [UPS]

Three packages identical in size, all paid for within a 24 hour period and shipped within 24 hours after being paid for. The Black Hawk from Pennsylvania arrived first via USPS/Canada Post, the Ben Pearson from Wisconsin is currently being held in storage somewhere by UPS with its horrible hours, and the Browning from Quebec will likely arrive tomorrow via Canada Post because it was the last to be paid for and shipped.

The Browning and the Black Hawk were both paid for at the exact same time and shipped less than 24 hours later. Yet it was the USPS/Canada Post package that arrived first.

Also on the note left on my mailbox by UPS earlier today it says they are expecting C.O.D. (Cash On Delivery) of $37.68. Which is odd because I already paid for the shipping ahead of time when I purchased the item. I know this because I have the online receipt for it when I paid for it.

Therefore I am left with an odd conclusion. Either the person shipping it didn't pay for the shipping and sent it C.O.D. (even though I paid for the shipping ahead of time and he knows I paid for it because I have the online receipt). Or UPS has made an error and is claiming it was sent C.O.D. when it was not, either because they are greedy jerks who like to overcharge people or because their company is so shoddily run that they don't keep track of such things.

So is it:

Greedy / incompetent sender from Wisconsin.
Greedy courier company.
Incompetent courier company.

I am curious to know which. I shall try to find out on Friday when I attempt to pick up my package during the middle of the day. To be continued...

UPDATE!

UPS did eventually deliver the package and they left it in the mailroom of my apartment building leaning against the wall. A notice was left with it asking for a COD, but after a chat with the seller on eBay they ended up contacting UPS and getting rid of the COD and vowing never to use UPS ever again. On this we are both agreed upon.

Regarding the bows in question, as a separate review I must remark that the Browning Wasp is the one I enjoy the shooting the most. The Black Hawk Avenger is a bit small for me, but still enjoyable. And the Ben Pearson Cougar is likewise an enjoyable bow to shoot. Overall I am very happy with all three.

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Man from U.N.C.L.E. Review


By C. Moffat.

I thoroughly enjoyed watching the new Man from U.N.C.L.E. movie - in contrast to my girlfriend who refused to even go see it, so I went alone. I give it 4 stars out of 5.

The film was excellent and without ruining the plot I would say it was one of the best / funniest spy thrillers / action films in recent memory. I would rank it up next to the last James Bond film, "Skyfall".


I had never watched the original TV series Man from U.N.C.L.E., but having seen the new film I now want to.

Film remakes of spy thriller TV shows are sometimes pretty hit and miss. Here are two examples:

The Saint (1997) = Awesome. 5 Stars.

The Avengers (1998) = Pretty dismal and ridiculous. I give it 1 star.

I should also note that sometimes even James Bond films are pretty dismal - and sometimes get worse over time. Let me give you an example:

Goldeneye (1995) was an awesome film when it first came out, and did well financially, but over time you start to realize all the plot holes and some parts of the film are downright boring after you've seen them X number of times.

Various other James Bond films also suffer from a touch of the boring, especially "Thunderball".

Which brings me back to Man from U.N.C.L.E. and why I gave it 4 stars. It was a great film. Thoroughly enjoyed it. However will it stand the test of time now that I have already seen it and know the plot twists??? Hmm. Not so sure.

The film did set itself up for sequels however and I would watch those too.

Maybe someday someone will redo the Matt Helm series (originally starring Dean Martin). The Austin Powers series is basically a rip off of Matt Helm, but I think a more sophisticated actor could do a better job.

Monday, August 10, 2015

Boat Maintenance Supplies

Why People Have a Lifelong Fascination with Water

For some people, their connection to boating and to the water starts when they are a child and their parents take them out on the boat to go fishing, to go wake boarding, or to take an inner tube out on the water. For other people, their love of boating started later in life once they were able to reach a level of financial success that allowed them to purchase their own boat. Regardless of whether a person’s love of boating and love of the water started at a young age or started when they were an adult, everyone agrees that there are certain aspects of boating that make it attractive.

One of the reasons why younger and older individuals love to be out on the water is because water is tranquil. Humans have a natural draw to the water. More than likely, this has something to do with the fact that human bodies are made up of more than 70 percent water. So when people are out on a lake or when they are out on the ocean, they feel at home. They feel a natural connection to the water.

Of course, having a boat and spending time on the water does require some expense and some effort on the part of the boat owner. Thankfully, a person can shop online now and purchase repair parts for their boat as well as snacks and other things to take out with them on the water from places like MMI Marine Manufacturers for example. This takes a lot of stress out of the maintenance and upkeep of the boat. In many cases, a person can simply go online, buy the part they need for their boat, and within a couple of weeks have the part delivered to their home. Then they will be able to repair their boat and get back out on the water to enjoy themselves.

Additionally, the constant movement of the water can have a semi-hypnotic effect on a person. Staring out over the vastness of the lake or the immensity of an ocean is mesmerizing. It can temporarily cause a person to forget the problems or frustrations they have in their life. Couple this with the gentle rocking motion of the water and it is clear to see why many people visit the lake or visit the ocean when they want to relax.

Friday, August 7, 2015

Cane Sugar Root Beer

Wow. This stuff is really good. I should try the other flavours sometime.

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Tide To Go Instant Stain Remover

Purchased "Tide To Go" Instant Stain Remover today.

Why? Spilled ice cream on my new shorts from the Hudson Bay. Brand new shorts. Seemed like such a huge waste to already have a stain on them.

So I figured I would try the stain remover product to see how quickly and easily it removes stains.

So far so good. The shorts are currently drying after being treated with Tide To Go. The stains appear to be gone, but we shall see and confirm after the liquid cleaning solution dries.

Friday, July 3, 2015

Terminator Genisys Review

By Charles Moffat.

I will be adding a review of Terminator Genisys later tonight or tomorrow. I will be seeing the film later today and then updating this post with my review. I have been waiting patiently for almost a year to see this film, so I hope it does not disappoint.

In the meantime here is the movie trailer.



UPDATE - Okay, I am giving Terminator Genisys 4 stars out of 5. I was even tempted to give it 4.5 stars, so let me explain why.

#1. It was a good solid plot, {SPOILER ALERT} capitalizing on the recent rise of social media and exploring alternate timelines / time travel. (It even gave a nod to the Terminator Chronicles TV series. Fans of the TV show will recognize that nod when they see it.)

#2. Excellent acting from all parties.

#3. The pacing of the film was excellent, just the right amount of action, excitement and plot development.

#4. Excellent graphics. Some people prefer the graphics from the 2nd film of the franchise, but it is all good in my opinion.

I am tempted to give an extra half star just because {SPOILER ALERT} they left it open for another possible film at the end.

Friday, May 8, 2015

Renovating and Waterproofing Bathrooms

Is Your Floor Stable Enough for that Large Tub?

When renovating the bathroom, some people don't consider how much weight the floor needs to sustain in order to remain intact. This is especially true when considering large tubs or hot tubs. Gallons and gallons of water used to fill these comfortable additions can weigh quite a bit, and an older floor may be too degraded to sustain the weight.

Water Damage from the Past

Hiring a bathroom renovation specialist can help you determine if the support beams for the floor are sound enough to sustain additional weight from a tub upgrade. Over time, water damage can rot support beams reducing the capabilities of each one. This damage could have come from overflowing toilets, water from the shower, bad sink drains and much more. Until you tear into the floor itself, you may never know just how degraded these beams can be.

Water Sealants

When installing new fixtures, it is important that the edges be sealed with a waterproof substance. This is usually done with a sealing calk that prevents water seepage under the floor. Over time, this sealant can be compromised leading to the water damage of floor boards and support frames. Even a few droplets of water each day from each shower taken in the home can eventually lead to rotten wood or mold growth.

Before you put that larger tub in the bathroom, seek the advice of a professional. Without proper support, the extra weight from the additional water could cause your bathroom to cave into the space below. While this might not be a overly damaging prospect in a single level home, multiple levels houses could have a great deal of damage done from an upstairs tub sinking into the floor.

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