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.


When advertising the books online my primary goal has been to advertise my writing website: 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.


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

Thursday, June 16, 2016

Warcraft, the Movie

I am going to see the movie "Warcraft" tomorrow afternoon.

I am worried it is going to be bad, but so far I have not heard any negative reviews. It might actually be better than Batman Vs Superman (which I liked overall, but was disappointed by the whole "Wait, your mom's name is Martha?!" thing).

The problem I have with movies based off of computer games / video games / board games is that they are often horribly made, have bad plots, often missed the point of the game or story, and/or had very little staying power - as in you watch it one time and then if you ever watch it again you become disappointed with it the second time and never watch it ever again.


Battleship - great board game, awesome movie. I have totally watched that movie multiple times.

Conan the Barbarian - The new one is based off the computer game, not the original Robert E. Howard books. I felt the movie is good the first time you see it, but really boring the second time you see it. In retrospect I now consider that movie to be horrible. For multiple reasons, each of which are due to meddling by the video game company Paradox Entertainment.

Dungeons and Dragons - Awesome roleplaying game, horrible movie during which the plot made very little sense, the villains were ridiculous, and it was amazingly cheesy.

Dragonlance: Dragons of Autumn Twilight - Awesome book / roleplaying game series, but the movie was horribly animated. Done properly, the Dragonlance series could be an amazing series of films - but you would need someone like Peter Jackson to do it justice, and it should be live action, not animated.

Wreck It Ralph - Technically there was never an arcade game with this name, but it was still a pretty good animated movie.

Pixels - No comment. I have not seen it yet.

Review of Warcraft - Four stars out of Five. Not a great movie (like Avatar), but not horribly bad.

The film has an underlying environmental theme, which I feel could have been elaborated more on.

Also the film left it open for sequels, which makes the fans happy. However I should point out that the "artsy fartsy movie critics" will not like this movie, as it doesn't offer much in the way of substance. Fans of warcraft will enjoy it, and myself, someone who is not a Warcraft fan but I am a fan of the fantasy genre, I enjoyed. But it wasn't a "great movie".

But it was good. It is worth watching. But it won't make the artsy fartsy critics happy, but to be fair those same critics thought "LOTR: Return of the King" was a bad movie. Depending on which "reviews" you read people are either saying that Warcraft financially tanked (which is false), or that Warcraft broke records. The latter is true. It is now one of the top 3 most grossing movies based on video games. The mixed responses tell me that some movie critics want the movie to fail and are apparently spreading false rumours about the film tanking. Anyone who can do math will realize the film was extremely popular.

I also feel the burgeoning love story of two main characters could have been explored more. Clearly that is meant to entice us towards sequels, which look likely as the film has already doubled its money - and the director is already talking about prepping for a sequel.

Millwood Wine Works, Making your own Wine in Leaside, Toronto

Millwood Wine Works
905 Millwood Road
Leaside Neighbourhood, East of Bayview Avenue on Millwood Road
Toronto ON

Review by Charles Moffat.

Last year the missus and I went on a wine tour in the Niagara region, of the esteemed Trius Winery. We really enjoyed the tour and for myself it was a reminder that my grandfather had made red wine decades ago and it was fascinating to see the process my grandfather had gone through making his wine - although to be fair, his process was likely much simpler and old fashioned that the modern witchery that goes into Trius wines.

Nevetheless the tour got me thinking. Not from where the missus and I live in Leaside, there are two small "make your own wine" locations.

The first being the aforementioned "Millwood Wine Works" and the second being the "Cellar Door Winery", which is literally across the street from the Millwood Wine Works. (Maybe someday I will review the Cellar Door Winery across the street, but for now this is just a review of the Millwood Wine Works.)

The missus and I discussed making wine last year in the Autumn, but kept putting it off. Thus we got the chance this year I figured enough is enough, lets do this!

So we went in together and picked out a nice gentle Riesling for $140. I wanted red wine, but I rarely win any arguments with the missus and so we got the Riesling instead - with the promise that the next time we make wine, she has to pay for it, and I get to pick the type of wine we are making.

We watched in awe as Kevin Whitaker (owner and "assistant winemaker") prepared everything for us, making everything was clean and shipshape. Then he handed me the yeast and I sprinkled it in "like a pro". Honestly, I was just sprinkling the yeast around like I would do with salt on a plateful of eggs, but whatever, it looked very good with the yeast swirling around in there.

Then everything was sealed up and we waited 4 weeks for our wine to be done.

Yesterday, 4 weeks and 1 day later we got up and went to collect our wine. Purchased 30 bottles for all the wine to be stored in, I disinfected and cleaned the bottles, while Kevin poured the wine into the bottles which were cleaned.

Then came the corking machine. This part I really enjoyed and I even took a selfie of myself for Facebook. The machine was apparently powered by air pressure, but for curiousity's sake I asked if there was an old fashioned was of corking bottles, and I was pointed to a device which was foot-powered. Woot, I love things that are foot-powered.

When it was all done we had 30 bottles of Riesling. Which if we do the math is:

$140 for the wine kit / service, $30 for the bottles = $170 for 30 bottles of wine. Approx. $5.67 per bottle. Each bottle contains approx 750 mL of Riesling, at about 7 to 8 %.

We plan to give away a few bottles for Xmas to family members. The true test came last night when we finally sat down to toast us becoming winemakers. Tasty!

We shall have to do this again sometime. Either at the Millwood Wine Works, which had great friendly service, or maybe we should try the Cellar Door Winery across the street.

Note - It is hard to switch to a different location once you have already found a place where you like the service. Quality service after all is hard to beat when compared to the "unknown factor" of trying a new place you've never tried before.

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
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
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
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
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
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
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

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
Happy Face

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

By C. Moffat

Today I browsed 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 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.


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.

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