Thursday, December 29, 2011

Moonrise Kingdom

"Moonrise Kingdom" is an unusual story of two kids who runaway from home / scout camp and the various people who end up trying to find them. This really is NOT a children's story however. It is a story aimed at adults who will find the situations and dialogue quite amusing - whereas kids would just be confused.

Update: Having seen the film I give it 4.5 stars out of 5.

See trailer below.

Friday, December 23, 2011

Top Selling Gifts 1980 to 2011

There are various classic gifts that people keep giving again and again.

Which suggests that they are very good gifts that people find desirable.

#1. The Rubiks Cube

This handy toy that is good for adults and kids sold for $1.99 in 1980 and now sells for $9.99. Proof that a good toy has staying power.

#2. LEGO

Com'on, its Lego! You really cannot get bored of this stuff. Its the ultimate building blocks. Even adults get really into Lego and build some pretty amazing things.


#3. Bicycle

Good for the kids. Good for the wife or husband. Good for anyone who enjoys fun and exercise.


#4. Cabbage Patch Kids

Was $29.99 in 1983, they're now $63.99. Pricey, but some parents would buy them anyway for the nostalgia's sake of when they were a kid.

#5. Transformers Action Figures

Prices varied, but expect to pay double what they were in 1984.

#6. Care Bears

Seriously its just a teddy bear with a logo on it. Any excuse to jack up the price. Complete waste of money if you ask me.

#7. Lazer Tag

One of the few things that have actually gotten cheaper. Lazer Tag sold for $49.99 in 1986, but can now be purchased for $44.99 (or less if you shop around for a sale).

#8. A Koosh Ball

Not really sure what the point of these are. Fun for squeezing maybe??? The price in 1987 was $3.99 and it hasn't moved up or down since then.

#9. Ghostbuster Toys / Action Figures

These things sold like hot cakes back in the day... and continue to sell big despite the lack of new films or tv shows. Prices of ghostbuster toys have almost tripled since 1988.

#10. Nintendo Gameboy

The technology of the device has changed a bit, but the price tag has managed to stay roughly stable.

#11. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Toys / Action Figures

#12. Sega Game Gear

#13. WWF Action Figures

#14. Talkboy

#15. Power Rangers Toys

#16. Pogs

#17. Tickle Me Elmo

#18. Tamagotchi

#19. Furby

#20. Pokemon Nintendo Games (for GameBoy)

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Toronto glass condos not as great as you think

CANADA - Years ago an urban planner in Toronto, warned that all the glass condos Toronto was building would someday come back to haunt buyers.

At the time his colleagues thought he was daft, but he who laughs last laughs best.

According to industry experts many of the glass condominium towers filling up the Toronto skyline will fail 15 to 25 years after they’re built, perhaps earlier, and will need retrofits costing millions of dollars. Why?

The buildings in question (while made of pretty glass and steel) are grappling with nightmarish problems due to shoddy workmanship:

Insulation failures.
Skyrocketing energy and maintenance costs.
Water leaks.
Declining resale potential.

One Toronto developer calls glass-walled condos “throw-away buildings” because of their short lifespan relative to buildings with walls made of concrete or brick.

Toronto mortgage brokers are also shying away from such buildings, warning owners they would be better getting an older building which has passed the test of time. Glass condos are riskier investments.

No other city in North America is building as many condo towers as Toronto. Toronto has reshaped the skyline, blocked Lake Ontario from view. Even now there is 130 new towers are under construction.

Glass walls have been popular among developers and consumers alike because they’re cheaper than more traditional materials and make a good first impression. Builders worried about construction costs, production planning, inventory management, materials and delivering the finished condos on time aren't so worried about what happens down the road. They're primary goal is profits now. Such buildings aren’t energy-efficient and come with a hidden price tag that can soar down the road if built shoddily (and developers are more shoddy than not)

HOT TIP: Ask developers/builders about previous condos they've built, then go to those builders and ask the residents about the quality of the building and what they are paying for maintenance.

Floor-to-ceiling glass walls heat up and swell in the summer, freeze and contract in winter, and shift with the wind. The insulating argon gas between the glass panes escapes, the seals are breached and the windows are rendered useless against the city’s weather. Glass condos work well if you live in California and other locations where its basically summer all year around, but in a city with seasons like Toronto it is folly.

Eventually, the glass walls — the skin of these condo high rises — might have to be replaced entirely, with condo owners picking up their share of the multimillion-dollar costs.

Any of the glass condos built int he 1990s are encountering these problems now. Some of the buildings are even newer. The glass fogs up, the rubber gaskets and sealants starting to fail, and then complaints and lawsuits are launched. Lawyers start practicing their whipping with a reed switch.

Condo owners in a tower off Front Street are suing the developer, Concord, claiming the window-wall system in the nine-year-old building near the Rogers Centre has defects and water is seeping through. Other developers are facing similar lawsuits.

The high cost of retrofitting a highrise is also startling. At First Canadian Place, a retrofit will take three years and $130 million to complete. More money for the construction workers, but the building owners will be made to suffer.

Most condo owners have no idea about the expenses they’re in for and don’t ask the right questions. The buildings don't appreciate in value over time. They depreciate and become cheaper because of the maintenance costs.

The urban planner I mentioned earlier, calls such buildings "the future slums of Toronto". And he is absolutely right. Eventually the buildings will be used as rental units, and renters are harder on buildings because they don't care, causing them to wear down faster.

Buyers are looking at the glass walls with rosy tinted glasses. They are imagining romantic dinners, parties with friends in their ritzy condo... they have no clue that the glass walls undermine a condo’s durability and energy efficiency in a northern city like Toronto.

Glass-walled condos meet the requirements of the Toronto building code, although the code does not specify how long a building should last. Energy-efficiency is also a fuzzy area, since condos aren’t rated that way.

And what about the developers?

Well if the worst happens the developers can sell or split up their business. Declare bankruptcy or at least file for bankruptcy protection. They're not worried about energy efficiency or the long term wishes of the buyer.

"We don’t have energy-efficiency ratings on condominiums and that’s too bad, because we get them on dishwashers, refrigerators, and they only cost a few hundred dollars,” said Ted Kesik, a professor of building science at the John H. Daniels faculty of architecture, landscape and design at the University of Toronto.

Janice Pynn, president of the Canadian Condo Institute, isn’t sure energy efficiency is a big factor for condo buyers — even for buyers who care about not wasting energy. “People talk that they want it, but when it comes down to what it's going to cost them, it doesn't even come into the equation,” says Pynn, whose Simerra Property Management company manages 250 condos across the GTA.

“It really is ‘Can I afford to buy this?’ not 'What am I willing to pay to have a green building, or a building in the long term, that will be far more economical, and cost-saving and for the environment?' They're just not asking those questions.”

The end result? Glass condos in Canada are not worth the money you pay for them.

Check out other Canadian real estate oriented posts at My Search for a Home.

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Smarties!!!

I love Smarties...

They're like the Lego of junk food.

Bright colours, chocolate...

Now what if Smarties made Lego-shaped edible candies?

Bubblegum Review

I am a big fan of all dental products... Scope, Crest / Colgate / Aquafresh...

But what I love most is the following dental bubblegums:

Dentyne

Trident

...

However dental hygiene aside I also like Big Red (cinnamon, woohoo!) and a variety of Korean bubblegum companies whom I cannot remember their names. (They have a much greater variety of flavours in South Korea, including apricot and mango.)

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Mountain Equipment Co-op Sucks, Overpriced + Poor Selection

If you've ever been inside MEC (Mountain Equipment Co-op) you know they have no shortage of overpriced clothing and backpacks...

But when it comes to camping, cycling or mountain climbing equipment what you quickly realize is that they only sell the bare necessities... at overpriced rates. Crappy selection (especially for cycling equipment), worse prices.

I know (FOR A FACT) that I can buy the same or better equipment at other stores for less.

And on top of that you can't buy anything at MEC unless you pay for a membership. Even if you're just buying something small, they won't sell it to you unless you buy a membership. (Waste of freaking time in my opinion.)

Thus for all you non-membership people you make the trek to MEC only to discover you can't find what you are looking for or feel like you would be getting ripped off by buying a membership there is an alternative...

Across the street and further to the west there is a smaller store called Europe Bound which is crammed full of cycling gear, camping equipment, climbing equipment, etc. The guy behind the counter is helpful and you can even special order items.

ie. I was looking for a grappling hook, but apparently you need a license to get one because its considered a restricted item. (The lady in the MEC store didn't even have a clue and had no power to special order items.)

Europe Bound has two locations in downtown Toronto:

47 Front St E, Toronto - (416) 601-1990

383 King Street West, Toronto - (416) 205-9992

:)

Sunday, August 28, 2011

The hunt for the $99 TouchPad

By Stas Holodnak, Ukrainian writer in Brooklyn, New York.

It’s not that you have to wait in line it’s how you spend your time waiting.

At first I planned for a Netbook to do my writing on the go. Keyboard, long battery life and reasonable price were the enticing factors. I checked out a Netbook on display inside the Staples store on 6th Avenue and 42nd Street in Manhattan. It exuded heat like Arizona desert on the hot summer day while a nearby HP Touch Pad, a tablet similar to the iPad but with more functions, felt only slightly warmer than room temperature. The price tag for the Touch Pad screamed $99 but hastily handwritten text in small letters below whispered sold out.

After Hewlett Packard announced the fire sale of discontinued Touch Pads, $99 apiece, the TouchPad rush commenced on the web and its surroundings. I decided for once not to miss out on the bonanza. My next stop was Office Depot down the block. “Do you sell tablets?” I asked two Office Depot employees, the tall, muscular men leisurely conversing in the empty store. Unsure what I was inquiring about computers or medicine one of them said reluctantly - “Check downstairs” - a vague reply worthy of my vague question. Instead I went to Best Buy located on 5th Avenue and 44th street. “If you want $99 HP tablet, come tomorrow at 9 AM,” the Best Buy employee assured me, “Best Buy will have 250 of them.”

9:30 AM the next morning I was there, eager as a boy scout on a treasure hunt. The line spanned about 300 feet, from the Best Buy’s front door to the corner of the block. Most people in the line looked young (below 40) and relaxed. They were peering into their smart phones and simultaneously talking to people next to them. It looked like a friendly meeting of like minded people preferring for some reason to stand in line instead of a circle. Words like Android, WebOS and WiFi were passed along like salt and pepper at a dinner table. People here owned more than enough of computer equipment. Some of them hoped to make a quick dollar but most, it seemed to me, came to buy something that was slated to become an instant antic.

Waiting in line I could not take my mind away from the diminishing supply of the Touch Pads but soon the serenity of the crowd overtook me. With a friendly smile I was passing along words like Facebook, Ubuntu and Open Source. I befriended a young man, a Help Desk team leader at the MBC who arrived here at 7:30 AM. He was seventh in line when the store opened. He got his first TouchPad and now was back in the line hoping for one more catch.

Tourists glanced at us and some stopped to inquire what was happening. A tourist with an Israeli accent would not believe that anything with the plug would sell for less than 100 dollars. “99 dollars, 99 dollars,” he repeated in disbelieve. “Join us friend, Empire State building will not run away,” I felt like saying to him.

My biggest surprise was how efficiently the Best Buy people were managing the waiting line. Patrons could get into the store without waiting but the path to the coveted TouchPad led exclusively through our line. The Best Buy man at the door let people from the waiting line inside the store in groups of five. “Go to the man in the yellow shirt." He guided aspiring TouchPad owners in the commanding voice, “Don’t deviate.” Someone tried offering a bribe for the TouchPad to a Best Buy employee who flatly declined. Another employee stopped a teenager who tried to cut into my group of five. The group of five’s idea was a stroke of the Best Buy genius. You may swallow an offense if someone cuts in line in front of you, but the party of five together as a group will not tolerate a 6th intruder.

I ended up spending over $200. I bought more memory (you always end up spending more on memory), a wireless keyboard and the docking station for the Touchpad. Still it was a good deal considering it costs HP more than $300 to make one.
At work colleagues looked at my TouchPad with envy. Rapid mouse clickers they ordered TouchPads from different websites. As of now they are still waiting for vendors’ assurances to ship a discounted TouchPad.

It is the 21st century but at times there is no alternative to a good old legwork.

Editor's Note: Its unclear why HP discontinued the TouchPad. Some people believe its due to patent lawsuits from Samsung and/or Apple (Apple doesn't actually build many of its products, much of the important work is outsourced to Samsung). A superior product washed down the drain by greedy lawyers.

The $99 pricetag is evidently meant to spit in the eye of Apple.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

6 Reasons Why Han Solo Moulds Are Awesome

By Nick S.

Remember that scene in Empire where Han Solo is encased in carbonite? That iconic image is now a mould that you can use to create lots of cool products. From chocolate bars to soap, here are my 6 favourite items in the shape of Han Solo.

SPELLING NOTE - It is spelled mould, not mold. Mold is a fungus. Mould is something you pour chocolate or concrete into to make something a specific shape. Don't confuse the two.

With FanExpo approaching, I'm reminded of convention vendors and their ridiculously marked-up prices. I usually try to resist any impulse purchases, but there's one novelty item this year that has caught my eye: Han Solo carbonite moulds.

Fans will no doubt remember the scene of Han being encased in carbonite at the hands of Vader. Sure the amount of Star Wars merchandise is approaching infinity, but I think we can let the following products slide. Without further ado, here are 6 things made from Han Solo moulds that make me yell "shut up and take my money!"

1) Soap

If you've been out of the loop, Han Solo soap become an insanely popular item last year. Just look at the pic to see the amount of detail that goes into each bar. Actually, it's the most detailed item on the list.

The downside? Well, the manufacturer could hardly keep up with orders last year, and disappointed a lot of people. The cost is also a big issue. It's on sale right now for $2.99, although the regular price is a whopping $12.50. Even worse, the minimum cost to ship a single bar is $5.50.

With that said, the novelty factor is really high. And think about it: will giving someone a bar of soap ever be less offensive?

2) Chocolate bars


Women will love this one: It's Han and chocolate combined. This chocolate bar puts the carb in carbonite, so make sure to enjoy it in moderation.

As far as I know, these bars aren't being sold by a manufacturer. Don't let that stop you from making your own, though! Here's a handy guide for anyone who is interested in doing so.

3) Cakes



What's better than a Han chocolate bar? An entire cake! Once again, this product has no dedicated manufacturer. It's safe to say you'll be flying solo on this one. (Please don't hurt me.)

Making your own Han cake isn't too hard, though. Cakes are easier to detail than chocolate bars simply because they're larger. And if you're too lazy, you can get a cake decorator to do all the hard work.

The only thing that could possibly make your event less cool is having someone say "the cake is a lie." Please, can we agree to let that meme rest in peace?*

(*I realize the hypocrisy of writing that while referencing a 30 year old movie.)

4) Desks


Fire your employees in style with this unique product by Tom Spina Designs. The desk is hand-made, which unfortunately means only one was ever released.

But that doesn't rule out the possibility of having your own—just be prepared to drop some serious cash. For reference, the desk went for over $10 000 at a charity event. (We can only hope it was bought by a villainous boss somewhere.)

5) Ice cube trays



Say you get the hang of making Han products and it becomes some sort of freakish hobby. Well, then you'd want to buy some Han ice cube trays.

Aside from making ice, they can be used to make all of the edible products above. The best part is that they contain multiple slots, so you can churn out your creations much faster. If you're hosting a party, these are the moulds you're looking for.

Don't want to spring for a mould? Here's how to make your own, ya cheap bastard.

And now time for the honourable mention:

6) Your own freakin' face



For some people, having a candy bar simply isn't enough. Why not sully this iconic scene by replacing Han's face with your own? Bonus points if you look like a carbuncular Napoleon Dynamite.


Or perhaps George Lucas sullied the movies for you. In that case, pick up the following one on the right.

All of these creations have made their rounds on the Internet, but you can bet most of your friends don't know about them. So, the next time there's a Star Wars TV marathon (which, according to my calculations, should be in 1.3 minutes), make sure to have some Han Solo products ready!

By the way, anyone thinking of ordering their own custom-made mould should think twice. The first mould isn't part of a lean manufacturing chain, meaning it is very expensive to make.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Conan = FIVE STARS, Totally Bad A$$

Want to see a movie which has violence, breasts and is accurate to Robert E. Howard's original Conan stories?

Go see the new Conan the Barbarian movie.

I saw it yesterday and give it 5 stars. It was totally bad a$$! :)

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Chocolate Milk

I LOVE CHOCOLATE MILK!

But I want to point out an interesting fact about chocolate milk... and is roughly true for milk in general.

1 cup of chocolate milk has 9 grams of protein in it.

So much protein in fact that it makes the calcium in the milk moot. (If you drink protein and calcium together, your body can only absorb so much of the calcium because the protein acts a blocker.)

So you really aren't getting much calcium when you drink milk. There's too much protein in it.

Same goes when you any meal containing decent amounts of protein in it (ie. a bacon cheeseburger)... if you eat something with calcium in it you really aren't absorbing the calcium. Thus in the case of a bacon cheeseburger you end up absorbing the fat from the cheese, but almost none of the calcium.

Food for thought!

Virgin Mobile overcharging me for text messaging

As I sit here typing this I am on hold while a Virgin Mobile customer service rep sends in a report to the billing department, stating that Virgin Mobile has been overcharging me for text messaging because of an error that was made by Virgin Mobile staff.

You see when I got my new cellphone back in January 2011 I signed up for the following:

$35 bundle.
$10 call display / voicemail.
$10 unlimited text messaging.

But apparently someone working at a computer never signed me up for unlimited text messaging (and I text message A LOT!!!)... so when I looked at my July bill I noticed I was being charged an extra $55.80 for text messaging.

So I phoned and complained, and found out that all the way back to when I first got my phone they've been overcharging me for text messaging because apparently some idiot on a computer didn't check all the boxes they were supposed to.

So I am not insisting that they retroactively go back and give me credit for the amount which they were overcharging me. The billing department is supposed to call me back sometime between Monday and Wednesday. (If I don't hear back from them I will call them on Thursday to complain.)

Apple doesn't make the iPhone

Contrary to popular belief, Apple doesn't actually make the iPhone. The iPhone is actually mostly manufactured by Samsung.

Apple neither manufactures the components nor assembles them into a finished product. The components come from a variety of suppliers and the assembly is done by Foxconn, a Taiwanese firm, at its plant in China.

The “teardown” part of this graphic shows who makes what inside the iPhone, and how much the various bits cost.

Samsung turns out to be the most important supplier of parts. Samsungs builds all of the phone’s most important components: the flash memory that holds the phone’s apps, music and operating software; the working memory, or DRAM; and the applications processor that makes the whole thing work.

These account for 26% of the component cost of an iPhone.

Note: Most iPhone accessories aren't made by Apple either. Accessories are typically made by independent companies with little or no affiliation with Apple.

This puts Samsung in the unusual position of supplying a significant proportion of one of its main rival’s products, since Samsung also makes smartphones and tablet computers. This is actually part of Samsung’s business model: acting as a supplier of components for others gives it the scale to produce its own products more cheaply. For its part, Apple lets other firms handle component production and assembly, which leaves it free to concentrate on heavy advertising.

Stranger still, Apple sued Samsung in April over the design of its Galaxy S smartphone and its Galaxy Tab tablet computer, claiming that they copied hardware and design features from Apple. Samsung counter-sued. But the two firms’ mutually beneficial trading relationship continues. Seems fishy, doesn't it?

I'd say Samsung has Apple by the balls.

What it makes you realize is that as the “total cost” part of the graphic shows that, beyond manufacturing and component charges, the lion’s share of the iPhone’s $560 price tag goes to Apple, and most of that is just product markup.

So Apple does not actually make the iPhone, but Apple does make a lot of money from selling what is essentially a Samsung product.

The Apple iPhone: Samsung Inside.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Things to Buy at the Dollar Store

Watch batteries: At Sears, replacing a watch battery will cost you $10.50. When you consider that a package of five Sunbeam watch batteries costs only $1 at Dollarama $10.50 seems a high price to pay, even with the year-long warranty thrown in.

The Sunbeam batteries come in two different sizes, 357 and 377. I’ve been replacing my own watch batteries for years. It’s not hard. I use a mini flat screwdriver like the kind found in eye glass repair kits (also sold at dollar stores) and carefully pry the back of the watch off by sticking the screwdriver in the opening by the watch stem and working it around the edges of the backing. Then just replace the battery and snap the backing back into place. It’s easy and takes practically no time at all.

I’ve had the occasional dud in a package of these batteries but mostly they perform just as well as the ones you’d get from a jeweller.

Slide Seal freezer bags: I’ve always been very happy with the Slide Seal brand freezer bags. Besides protecting food in the freezer, I also use them to store craft supplies or other small items I want to keep from getting lost. I like the easy way they open and close using a zipper pull and there’s enough plastic in them to prevent them from tearing easily. They come in two sizes, small and medium and cost $1 for each box of 10 and eight bags, respectively. They form an air-tight seal and are microwave safe. If the bags are being reused over and over for non-food items, the plastic zipper pull may come off but you’ll still be able to seal the bag.

I priced Ziploc freezer bags at Walmart and found that they cost $3.27 for a box of 15 medium or 10 large bags, giving you two more large bags and five more small bags per box. However, the dollar store bags cost just 10 cents a bag for the small ones and about 13 cents a bag for the larger ones, as opposed to about 22 cents and 33 cents, respectively for the Ziploc freezer bags.

The name brand freezer bags boast expandable bottoms but the dollar store bags are a bit larger over all. For example, a medium Slide Seal bag is 20.5cm square, while a medium Ziploc bag is 20.3cm by 14.9cm.

Kitchen utensils: It’s hard to beat dollar store cooking and serving utensils for price. My soup ladle is made of black nylon and has a thick, rubberized handle with an attractive silver-coloured insert in it. It’s dishwasher safe and heat-resistant to 210 degrees Celsius. I paid $1 for it. At the Loblaw’s Super Store, I saw an Oxo brand soup ladle very much like mine that cost $6.99.

The selection of kitchen utensils at the dollar store will change from time to time but you can always find matching spatulas, large spoons and soup ladles.

Tools: Dollar store tools have improved immeasurably since the first flimsy pair of pliers was sold for a buck. I have a selection of dollar store tools that I’ve bought over the years for doing odd jobs around the house. They are solidly made of metal and other quality materials and look and feel every bit as good as some of the tools at Canadian Tire.

My 25 foot tape measure cost $2 at Dollarama and is similar to the Mastercraft easy grip tape measure with rubberized jacket, nylon-clad blade and lifetime warranty costing $9.99. The only thing my dollar store tape measure lacks is the warranty but for two bucks, I’m not worried and it works great.

A Jobmate 8oz claw hammer costs $3.99. I bought a small all metal claw hammer at Dollarama a few years ago for only $1 and have found nothing wrong with it. Mine has a similar faux leather grip on it.

A Jobmate eight inch adjustable wrench costs $7.99. I paid a buck for my seven and a half inch wrench with a rubber-wrapped handle.

The assortment of tools at a dollar store will vary from time to time and most of the ones at Dollarama are priced at two bucks but they’re still a darn good deal for something so well made.

Glassware: You can always find good quality glassware at the dollar store and I’ve bought my share of it. Most of the glasses are $1 each, including martini glasses and tumblers. At Walmart, a set of two martini glasses costs 8.97 however, you can get a set of six plain tumblers there for $6. That’s comparable to dollar store prices but at the dollar store you can have your pick of different styles and sizes.

As with most things at the dollar store, the stock available may be different from one month to the next and, occasionally, you’ll even find glasses from manufactures like Libby or Anchor Hocking on the shelves of a dollar store, a very good buy indeed.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Why is there pieces of metal in the soles of my Nike shoes?

I love Nike, but when I put on shoes this morning I noticed immediately that I was being stabbed in the toe by something inside my shoe.

I took off my shoe and shook it, hoping whatever sharp thing was in there would fall out.

I felt around with my hand and found 2 pieces of wire embedded in the inner sole of the shoe, right near the toes.

Using pliers I have managed to rip out 1 of the pieces of metal, but so far have been unsuccessful in extricating the other piece of metal.

I phoned Nike Canada at 1-800-663-6453 but the girl on the phone explained that because I bought the shoes more than 2 years ago the warranty had ran out.

I explained I wasn't looking for a replacement. I just wanted to speak with someone technical who could tell me WHY there is pieces of metal in the sole of my Nike shoes and how do I FIX them?

I even explained that I live in Toronto and could bring the shoes in personally to show them to someone at Nike Canada's offices in Toronto. She said they don't allow outsiders on the premises.

Uhuh. So... Nike Canada, completely useless when it comes to answering my questions.

In the meantime I am left to my own resources to try and figure out how to properly reach and pull out the piece of metal stabbing my toes.

Makes me think twice about buying new shoes from Nike, which I know I will eventually have to do. Maybe I will buy a different company instead.

Friday, July 29, 2011

Fantasy eBooks

I give the following eBooks 5 stars each. Note: You may find cheaper rates on the fantasy author's personal website.

Ebook (PDF): $15.99

A legendary warrior has come back to life and is on a murderous rampage on the streets of Waterdeep. Retired gladiator and Academy of Combat instructor Pierce O'Hiram is dragged back into service for the Harpers one last time in an effort to stop the killings.

Note: If you buy Rise of the Blade from the author's website it is only $12.


Ebook (PDF): $15.99

The Minotaur Emperor has been assassinated and the continent is on the brink of an epic war between minotaurs and humans. Wynic Doxon, the Arthian Royal Assassin, is asked to track down the assassin who killed the emperor and help prevent a war that would destroy the ancient city of Athex.


Ebook (PDF): $15.99

An evil army has set up camp in the northern reaches of the continent and plots are afoot. The heroes from "The Paladin Assassin" are ordered north to confront this new danger and to seek out the legendary Spear of Destiny. This book is part 2 of The Crimson Companions Trilogy.


Ebook (PDF): $7.59

A love story between a human barbarian and an elf female, set amidst the backdrop of the Korovian wilderness. Bandits, ogres, trolls and wild sex scenes. 

Thursday, July 21, 2011

No Such Thing As A Free Ride

I am going to recommend (if you have any interest in hitchhiking and the history of hitchhiking) the book "No Such Thing As A Free Ride"... written / collected by Simon Sykes and Tom Syke.

The book is an anthology of hitchhiking stories by former hitchhikers... including... dun da da duh! Me.

That's right, back in 1997 I took up hitchhiking and continued to hitchhike regularly until 2000. My longest adventure was hitchhiking in the USA, a story I retold in the book "No Such Thing As A Free Ride".

:)

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Cheetah Power Surge SUCKS

Cheetah Power Surge is an energy drink being promoted by the former head of Steelback Brewery Frank D'Angelo (he bankrupted the company by overspending on advertising).

Cheetah Power Surge is more of the same problem. Crappy product, with lots of advertising.

The problem with Cheetah Power Surge is that it doesn't just SUCK DONKEY BALLS, its really overpriced crap compared to other superior products on the market.


Energy drink Caffeine
(mg/L)
Caffeine
(mg/fl oz)
Caffeine per serving (quantity) Additional notes
180 365.5 10.98 130 mg (12 fl oz or 400 mL)
5-Hour Energy 1352.49 40 80 mg (2 fl oz or 59.15 mL) Does not list the actual amount of caffeine in the product but states "Contains about as much caffeine as a cup of coffee."
AMP Energy 298 8.93 71 mg (8 fl oz or 237 mL) American Rebel bib
Bacchus-F 303 9.1 30 mg (3.38 fl oz or 100 mL)
Battery 320 9.5 105 mg (11.16 fl oz or 330 mL)
Battery energy shot 1500 44.4 90 mg (2.03 fl oz or 60 mL)
Bawls 223 6.70 56 mg (8.45 fl oz or 250 mL)
Boo Bolt - best thing event 507 15.00 360 mg (24 fl oz or 710 mL)
Blue Charge 300 8.87 300 mg (35.195 fl oz or 1000 mL)
Blue Energy 337 9.97 80 mg No value for Caffeine in Nutrition Facts; Instead "Energy Blend" is listed which includes L-Carnitine, Glucose, Caffeine, Inositol, Glucuronolactone, and Maltodextrin.
Boo Koo 507 15.00 360 mg (24 fl oz or 710 mL)
Buckeye Juice 320 9.47 80 mg (8.45 fl oz or 250 mL)
Burn 320 9.6 80 mg (8.3 fl oz or 250ml)
Cintron Energy Enhancer 422.83 12.5 200 mg (16 fl oz or 473 mL)
Coca-Cola Blāk 194.43 5.75 46 mg (8 fl oz or 237 mL)
Cocaine (drink) 1120 33.14 280 mg (8.45 fl oz or 250 mL)[5]
Crunk Energy Drink 421.94 12.5 100 mg (8 fl oz or 237 mL)[6]
Emerge Stimulation Drink 300 8.87 75 mg per 250 ml can
Enviga 282 8.3 100 mg (12 fl oz or 355 mL)[7]
Euro Shopper Energy Drink 320 9.6 80 mg (8.45 fl oz or 250 mL)
Full Throttle 304 9 72 mg (8 fl oz or 237 mL)[8] Fuze Adrenaline
Go Fast 320 9.47 80 mg (8.45 fl oz or 250 mL)
Hustler 240 4.06 120 mg (16.9 fl oz or 500 mL)
Hype Energy 320 10.82 160 mg (16.9 fl oz or 500 mL)
Irn-Bru 32 320 9.47 32 mg (3.38 fl oz or 100 mL)[9] 80 mg (8.45 fl oz or 250 mL)
Jolt Cola 201 5.96 140 mg (23.5 fl oz or 695 mL)
King 888 330 10 80 mg (8 fl oz or 236 mL)
Kore 400 11.83 100 mg (8.45 fl oz or 250 mL)[10]
Kruidvat Power Booster 320 9.6 80 mg (8.45 fl oz or 250 mL)[11]
Lift Plus



Lucozade Alert 320 9.51 80mg (8.45fl oz or 250ml)
Lucozade Sport with Caffeine Boost 160 4.73 16 mg (3.38 fl oz or 100 mL)[12]
MAD DOG Energy Lemonade 320 9.64 80 mg (8.45 fl oz or 250 mL) High energy drink but lemonade taste
Ministry Of Energy 320 9.46 160mg (16.9 fl oz or 500mL) monavie energy drink
Monster 338 10 80 mg (8 fl oz or 240 ml) Sold in 8,12,16,24,32oz cans, 16 oz Can with two servings per can yields 160 mg caffeine. 32oz Called "B.F.C."
Mother 424 12 106 mg (8.45 fl oz or 250 mL) 108 mg (20 fl oz or 591 mL)
Mountain Dew 154 4.5 36 mg (8 oz.) sold in 8,12,16 oz cans & 12,16,20,24,34,68 oz bottles
Mountain Dew Energy 180 5.32 90 mg (500mL) Released in the U.K. in Mid 2010 and in Ireland Q1 2011. Sugar-Free contents TBA.
Mountain Dew MDX 198.6 5.88 47 mg (8 fl oz or 237 mL)[2] No Fear(drink)
NOS 542 16.25 130 mg (8 fl oz or 240 mL) Sold in 13.5, 16 and 22 oz containers that contain a total of 219, 260 and 357 mg of caffeine, respectively
Pepsi Max 194.43 5.75 46 mg (8 fl oz or 237 mL)[13][2]
69 mg (12 fl oz or 355 mL)
115 mg (20 fl oz or 591 mL)

Powerking 320 9.46 80 mg (8.45 fl oz or 250 mL)
Pure! 333 9.88 100 mg (300 mL) Listed ingredients, apple, cherry, strawberry, lemon and guarana
Red Bull 338 10 80 mg (8 fl oz or 240 mL)
Red Eye 321.21 9.50 106 mg (11.16 fl oz or 330 mL)
Red Rooster 300 8.88 30 mg (3.38 fl oz or 100 mL)
75 mg (8.45 fl oz or 250 mL)

Red Thunder 300 8.88 75 mg (250ml) Listed as 0.03% in the ingredients list on the can
Redline 937.5 31.25 125 mg (4 fl oz or 120 mL)
Relentless 321 9.64 160 mg (16.91 fl oz or 500 mL)
RELOAD 394 11.8 130 mg (11.16 fl oz or 330 mL)
Rip It 431.3 12.75 102 mg (8 fl oz or 240 mL)
Rockstar energy drink, original 337.55 10 80 mg (8 fl oz or 237 mL)[14] 160 mg (16 fl oz or 480 mL) 2000mg Taurine (16 fl oz or 480 mL)
Semtex 320 9.47 80 mg (8.5 fl oz or 250 mL)
Shark Stimulation 320 9.47 32 mg (3.38 fl oz or 100 mL)
SoBe Adrenaline Rush 312 9.23 78 mg (8.45 fl oz or 250 mL) Sold in 250 mL cans.
Sparks (contains 6% ABV) 185[15] 5.44 87 mg (16 fl oz or 480 mL)[15]
Spike Shooter 1200 35.71 300 mg (8.45 fl oz or 250 mL)[16]
Tab Energy 304 9.0 72 mg (8 fl oz or 237 mL)[8]
Urge Intense 150
75
V (Australia and New Zealand or Holland only) 287 8.61 31 mg (3.38 fl oz or 100 mL) 78 mg (8.45 fl oz or 250 mL)
Vault 196 5.88 47 mg (8 fl oz or 237 mL) 70.5 mg (12 fl oz 355 mL)
117.5 mg (20 fl oz or 591 mL)

Virgin Tequila 3381.23 100 200 mg (2 fl oz or 59.15 mL)
Glacéau VitaminEnergy 317 9.375 150 mg (16 fl oz or 437 mL)
Wired Energy Drink / Wired Sugar Free 198.73 5.875 94 mg (16 fl oz or 473 mL)
XS Energy Drink 334 9.88 83 mg (8.45 fl oz or 250 mL
Zipfizz (Test Tube) 188 5.56 100 mg (.398 fl oz/11.83 mL, suggested mix with 16-20 fl oz water) Caffeine content calculated based on mix in 18 fl oz or 532 ml.

Now as to why Cheetah Power Surge sucks donkey balls so badly... look at the list above and count the number of professional energy drinks with caffeine in them. ITS ALL ABOUT THE CAFFEINE. And to some extent the sugar.

Cheetah Power Surge has ZERO caffeine. Its just ginseng flavoured water. Now ginseng does give a wee boost if you eat some, but Cheetah Power Surge only has ginseng FLAVOURING. If there is any real ginseng in it there isn't enough to provide an actual energy boost. Complete and utter RIP OFF.

So there you go, if you are buying Cheetah Power Surge and expecting it to do anything like a normal energy drink, you are a complete and utter moron. You would get better results from Coca-Cola because at least that has caffeine and sugar in it.

Online Personals

LOVE - The first online personals website I am going to mention on here is Ashley Madison, which uses the slogan "Life is Short, Have an Affair"... In the effort to review as many personals websites as I could I created profiles on every personal website in this list and tried them all out.

However when it came time to delete my profiles I discovered something unusual. Ashley Madison won't let you delete your profile unless you pay them $19. So instead I've changed my profile on there so it makes fun of the Ashley Madison website.

Another site I want to mention is cheaterville.com, which allows people to track / mock people who cheat when they're caught in the act. Amusing. I shall have to go there and make a list of people I know cheated.

Goth Personals Canada - Goth Rencontres Canada - I admit I am biased towards this website. I own it.

♥ Plenty of Fish - FIVE STARS. This is the only Personals website I give a five star rating to.

♥ OK Cupid - Four Stars. I highly recommend this site.

♥ Match.com - Very expensive. You can't even RECEIVE messages unless you pay them. 1 star and it doesn't deserve it.

EVERYTHING BELOW HERE IS SUCKY.

♥ Love.org
♥ Datehookup.com
♥ eHarmony
♥ Love Compass Personals
♥ 4ppl
♥ Soulmatefind.com
♥ Date.com
♥ Justsayhi.com

Note: Craigslist Personals are a complete waste of time if you are looking for love. Much better if you just want an exercise partner or to make new friends.

Red Riding Hood - 3 stars

ENTERTAINMENT - I don't mind that the first half of the 2011 film "Red Riding Hood" rips off the plot from Jaws. Its actually pretty kewl.

Its the 2nd half of the film where it turns into a whodunnit that falls short. Still an enjoyable film, I give it 3 stars out of 5.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Harry Potter 3D

Saw Harry Potter twice this past weekend. Totally worth it. I give it 4.5 stars out of 5.

See more details at "Harry Potter beats Dark Knight".

Toronto Companies I Like and Don't Like

#1. Hotels

I really don't like the expensive ritzy hotels in Toronto.

Mostly because they're RUDE to people based on the way they dress. Why should I wear really nice clothes all the time just so I can be treated with respect? Absolutely nonsense. I would rather dress comfortably and go somewhere where I am at least treated like a person.

Thus I really dislike the following hotels in Toronto:

Four Seasons Hotel Toronto
Sheraton Centre
Delta Chelsea
Gladstone Hotel
Hilton Toronto
InterContinental
SoHo Metropolitan Hotel
One King West Hotel
Pantages Hotel
Courtyard Toronto
Marriott Toronto

Places I do like...

Any place that is a Toronto bed and breakfast, especially any that are downtown and offers something unique. The good thing about bed and breakfast places is that they appreciate your business and a lot more and you will get way better service.

I am tempted to say I also like The Drake Hotel, but that place is too noisy with the bar.

#2. Restaurants

I hate Greek restaurants. I've got nothing against the people, but it just feels like cheap overpriced garbage that they're selling you.

Lets list a few more places I hate.

Ethiopian House Restaurant
4 Irwin Avenue, Toronto
REVIEW: ABSOLUTELY DISGUSTING. The bread was all mushy and sponge-like. The food was spicy (normally a good thing), but tasted like crap. Spicy crap and mushy bread = WORST RESTAURANT IN TORONTO. It was overpriced too.

Forget About It
325 King Street West, Toronto
REVIEW: Food was cold and delivered late, the decor was lame and certainly not worth the money we were paying, and the manager was rude to us when we complained about the poor service. I can see pissed off customers throwing a brick through the window of this horrible place. I would love to forget about that horrible meal.

In comparison I'd rather go to Chinese, Korean, or Indian restaurants... most of the Asian restaurants are reasonably good, although some of them seem overpriced when you see how small the portions are. If you go to a restaurant and it seems like they only served part of your meal then you're getting ripped off.

I also love ALL the Sunset Grill locations. Breakfast places are usually good, but don't go to the Eggsmart places because they're CRAP and roach/rat infested.

#3. Clothing Shopping

The Eatons Centre - Plenty of variety, but nothing alternative. The shops for men's clothing rather suck.

Yorkdale - Really glamourous, but not much variety. Very blah. Men's clothing again is shortchanged here.

Queen Street West - Definitely a good place to shop if you're a man or a woman.

Yonge Street - Lots of variety, and increasingly more variety... my favourite shops along Yonge Street are: Central Surplus (army goods, good place to go for manly things), Hairy Tarantula (which doesn't sell clothes, but what the hell), American Apparel... I mention American Apparel because that is where I managed to find my green hoodie with no logo that I was looking for forever.

Yorkville - Overpriced and people often behave rudely. Yorkville really isn't really a good place to shop. Its more a place to get your nails done at a Yorkville salon, maybe go to a ritzy gym / yoga centre where you can be pampered, check out the local art galleries and then go home. Its really a place to be pampered. Shopping there is for the brain dead.

Whatever you do don't buy any clothes made by Peter Nygard or any other sweatshop owner.

#4. Entertainment

My favourites are:

Art Gallery of Ontario (free on Wednesday nights)

Any of the art galleries on Queen Street West (free booze on opening nights!)

The Ontario Science Centre

The Toronto Public Archery Range

Beaches (swimming, sand, sun, what's not to like?)

The movie theatre on Richmond Steet. Formerly the Paramount, but now owned by Scotiabank. I still call it the Paramount.

The SkyDome. I don't care if Rogers changed its name to the Rogers Centre. Its still the freaking SkyDome to me.

The Philosopher's Stage at U of T. Low budget productions by university actors, but well made and alternative. 2011's production is "Lysistrata - The Sex Strike" and is playing from July 20th to August 6th.

#5. Air Conditioning and Heating

See my post about air conditioners.

Zonelife is a company from the Kitchener-Waterloo area, but if you need a heating furnace they do sell them in Toronto. They also offer geothermal units, boilers and pool dehumidifiers.

#6. Shipping

I am boycotting Canada Post. The Canada Post strike annoyed me and lost me a customer for my business. If they don't want to work I am not giving them my business.

I therefore am recommending Purolator and UPS. I've used them both in the past when I was a shipping / receiving clerk for a pharmaceutical company and they both had excellent service and rates. I continue to use Purolator now because they have an office walking distance from my home.

For larger shipments across Canada I recommend sending air freight because you'll get a better deal straight from the middle man and cut out the sales clerk.

#7. Places to Exercise

Seriously people... parks, beaches, anywhere public. Fancy gym memberships are not necessary. See my blog post: My Fitness Costs = Practically Nothing.

And I strongly recommend against Extreme Fitness. Completely ripoff with a strong sales pitch. Its all talk and zero customer satisfaction.

Friday, July 15, 2011

My Fitness Costs = Practically Nothing!

I read a newspaper article today about "Easy ways to cut your fitness costs"...

And seriously, a lot of what the article said was a no brainer.

Speaking for myself my fitness costs in the last year have dropped from roughly $1000 annually to almost nothing now.

And the answer is to how I did it is because I just got smarter about how, why and where I exercise.

#1. WHERE: I only exercise in places that are FREE. ie. Public parks, community centers, the Toronto Public Archery Range, at home.

#2. HOW: I only buy equipment I know I will use, will never break and will never need to be replaced or fixed. Once I have said equipment I never have to buy it again.

#3. WHY: I now exercise for FUN. I pick athletic activities I actually enjoy, or take a boring activity and make it fun in some way. For example right now I am doing boxing in the park twice a week with a friend, archery once / week at the Toronto Public Archery Range and these are fun activities. I do all my weighlifting and yoga at home while listening to the kewlest music I can find.

I've also put in some extra effort into finding exercises that are not only more beneficial, but fun to do.

Now the newspaper article I mentioned above doesn't mention any of these things... their suggestion is based on deals and coupons. Things like Groupon coupons which offer discounted 20 yoga classes or 20 kickboxing classes for a mere $30. I admit those are pretty cheap, but if you factor in trasnportation costs it still doesn't beat FREE.

(I admit I do spend $5 per week to get to the Toronto Public Archery Range, but that is it.)

In addition there is also things like FREE SWIMMING at the beach or public pools. FREE running or jogging.

And you can advertise on Craigslist to find exercise partners. Again, free.

The newspaper article meanwhile was pushing iPhone workout videos which cost $2.

You can also get free eBooks online loaded with lots of free exercise advice and tips, more than any website would offer.

And there is free workout videos on YouTube. Come on people, the exercise industry doesn't need your money. You do, for all the new slick and slim clothing you can buy when you are thin and sexy!

You'll be beating the guys away with a purse filled with money you've saved by not wasting your money on fitness things / memberships you don't need.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Boycotting Scotiabank

This all started when I received spam from the Scotiabank of Canada offering to give small business advice.

I clicked the link, which led to a page with a phone number.

So I called it using my trusty Google phone...

And waited 18 minutes before someone finally answered.

And then the poor lady online was confused. She didn't know ANYTHING about the spammy email Scotiabank was sending me, nor the so-called business advice Scotiabank was claiming to be giving out.

So yeah, totally boycotting Scotiabank now.

Saturday, July 2, 2011

Conan in 3D: Must... See... This!

ENTERTAINMENT - This is the way Conan was meant to be seen!



See Also: Conan the Berserker

Lexx - 4 Stars

Lexx was a sci-fi TV show which ran for 4 seasons. It was mostly filmed in Canada and a bit in Germany.

On a scale of weirdness Lexx was a 10 all the way. The show seemed to be deliberately designed to freak out people with a level of weird raunchiness hitherto not seen sci fi films.

Every low budget sci-fi show that has come after is nothing more than a rip off from Lexx (with bits from Star Trek, Star Wars, etc).

Plot wise I won't ruin it for you, but I will give you some history.

The show aired from April 18th 1997 to April 26th 2002.

The main character was "Zev" of planet B3K, a renegade love slave who changes bodies several times during the story line. (If Captain Kirk and Spock can do it, sure why not.)

Other primary characters are Stanley, security guard 4th class. He's the average Joe character who surprising is made captain of the ship (Ironically he wears a red shirt); and Kai, an undead and emotionless (and therefore logical) assassin.

And I don't forget the ship, which is alive and basically a giant space insect.

I give the series 4 stars for sheer weirdness, ingenuity, plot and enjoyability. The minus 1 star is for weirding me out too much. So in theory some of you might give the show 5 stars because you like that sort of thing.

After Lexx came out there came a slew of similar TV shows like FireFly, Farscape and similar shows. Frankly I don't have time for such shows any more. There's just too many of them.



Monday, June 20, 2011

Old Spice 3 in 1

Shampoo, body wash and shaving cream... all in the same bottle?

What is not to love?

Seriously, its useful for camping trips, vacations, visiting the girlfriend's home and even day to day use.

And it smells nice.

Note: I am a shampoo fiend... part of is just experimenting with finding a shampoo I love, part of it is I can't resist the differently shaped bottles.

Historically my favourite shampoo is St Ives, but sadly that is no longer on the market.

iPad Vs PlayBook

TECHNOLOGY - And its a clear winner! The Blackberry PlayBook has more stuff, more webcams, is smaller, more lightweight and the number of apps available is EXPLODING outwards.

The Apple iPad is yesterday's news... so much so that Apple is scrambling to come out with the iPad 2 so that they can try and take some steam out of the lines of people going to buy the Blackberry Playbook.

But here's a prediction...

I think the iPad 2 will be a flop. People are still getting used to the first iPad and the people that would have bought an iPad 2 will be made up mostly of Apple fans (and already have the 1st iPad...)... so why would they buy the iPad 2 unless they have money to waste?

On the contrary the Blackberry PlayBook is for people who want something which is COMPATIBLE with their smartphones, their computers and so forth.

The Apple iPad isn't compatible with pretty much anything. Its a stand alone. A pain really.

Therefore, and this is purely my speculation based on past experience with computer and cellphone sales, that Apple will continue to be a minority because of their self-segregation and lack of compatibility with software and hardware platforms.

So it won't matter if Apple comes out with the iPad 2, the iPad 3, the iPad 4, etc... they're still going to be a minority for as long as they're only preaching to their own choir.

Speaking for myself I want a product that is compatible with the other things I use. Otherwise its just useless and annoying.

Einstein and Eddington

ENTERTAINMENT - Einstein and Eddington is a short British film (made for TV) about the role Arthur Eddington played in proving Einstein's theories and making the scientist famous.

It stars David Tennant (Dr Who) as Eddington and Andy Serkis (Gollum from Lord of the Rings) as Einstein.

And I totally recommend this film for anyone who loves physics and/or historical dramas.

It was written by British playwright Peter Moffat.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

iRobot + robotic garbage cans

So I am visiting my parents for father's day and apparently since I last visted my parents decided to buy two things:

#1. An iRobot Roomba vacuum cleaner. I've seen them before when I lived in South Korea, and I totally dig the robotic vacuums. They're awesome.

Or as my mother says "They clean the middle areas and miss the corners, so I guess they clean as well as a man cleans."

#2. A robotic motion sensitive garbage can which they bought at the Price Club (where they also got the iRobot). Technically they got 2 of these, they came as a package of two. The large one they put in the kitchen and the smaller is in the downstairs bathroom.

Of these two robotic devices, I definitely prefer the vacuum. It rocks! But the motion sensitive garbage cans are actually annoying. They don't open as quickly as you want them to, and sometimes you walk by and they open even when you don't want them open. Its like they have minds of their own...

In other news, when do the robots rise up and start sending terminators back in time to kill Sarah Connor?

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Coca-Cola... old and sugary

Did you know Coca-Cola is 125 years old?

Of course the original Coca-Cola was a tonic drink containing cocaine... but whatever.

Now it contains approx. 5-6 tablespoons of sugar.

Pepsi isn't any better either. They're both full of sugar, and if you're like the average American (overweight) then you probably shouldn't be drinking either Pepsi or Coca-Cola.

Thankfully they have made more options over time... I personally can't get enough of Vanilla Coke. And then there is Coke Zero which uses sweetener instead of sugar... which I'd argue that if they can replace the cocaine with sugar, maybe its time Coca-Cola switched entirely to sweetener.

Its a risky move however and would hurt Coca-Cola's sales.

Unless they did it slooooooowly... like add sweetener and sugar on a % basis and increase the % of sweetener over time.

Otherwise I will admit that I am pretty much boycotting Coca-Cola and only drinking it on special occassions. Blame my belief that I'd rather drink juice or milk or something healthy.

That and being an adult I can just drink beer now. Why the **** would I drink coke when I can have beer??? :)

Allergy medications

Reactin, Claritin, Allegra... they all seem to do the same thing for so many years, then they start to become less effective (you build up resistance to them) and eventually they seem to stop working.

Apparently nobody can make an allergy medication that consistently works permanently.

Another annoying thing is that they don't make an "extra strength" version for very bad allergy days.

Like today... when I encountered hayfever, dust and apparently I am also allergic to peonies.

Shoppers Drugmart... where's the medications?

Okay I am really pissed off at the direction Shoppers Drugmart has taken...

Seriously, go to a Shoppers Drugmart sometime and just browse the aisles... don't actually buy anything.

While there count the numbers of aisles which are for beauty products, food, drinks, birthday / greeting cards, magazines, children's toys, stationary, protein drinks / supplements, etc.

And then count the number of aisles (or half aisles) that actually have medication in them.

The point I am making is that Shoppers Drugmart has become so much more of a convenience store than an actual drugstore. Annoyingly so. The medications are hidden at the back or in between other things for sale.

The only advantage about Shoppers Drugmart is that there is so many of them... often beside a Price Chopper grocery store (which I affectionately call "The Chopper Shopper").

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Urban Edge Yoga: Yoga + Food, yummy for my tummy!

HEALTH - I give Urban Edge Yoga five stars.

#1. Small yoga classes, decent prices. Expect to pay $5 to $7 per class.

#2. Food is included! True, its vegan food and that might not cut it for everyone, but its still delicious (and I usually hate vegan food).

#3. Convenience: Its located at 324 Bloor Street West, near the Spadina subway in Toronto. Very easy to get to.

#4. Nice people. Both the staff and the other people who visit there are wonderful. Definitely a nice place to go.

#5. They also offer classes in a variety of other topics. Definitely worth checking out. The yoga centre is non-profit and run by the Hare Krishna Temple on Avenue Road, so you may have to get used to them praising Krishna constantly, but otherwise its all good.

#6. They're not uppity like other yoga centres. No need to bust out your lululemon clothing here. Come as you are.

Contact Info for UEY: 647-261-7499 or urbanedgeyoga@gmail.com

Yellow Pages: Completely overrated!

Lets say you're running a business... you want to balance costs with your ROI (return on investment)... why then would you list your company in the Yellow Pages?

True, there was a time when listing your company in the Yellow Pages was all it took to ensure your company had an inflow of customers. Especially if you were a pizza company, a plumber, Toronto accountants or something like that.

But in 2011 the Yellow Pages has become an antiquated piece of garbage. People throw them away when they get them in the mail. They're basically giant pieces of junk mail.

And there is a reason for that...

#1. Only companies who are either stupid or have tonnes of money advertise in the Yellow Pages. Simply because the ROI is so low. Chances are likely you won't get your money back from your investment at all.

#2. These days its all about websites and local SEO. The Yellow Pages is obsolete in comparison.

#3. Price: It costs $$$ to list in the Yellow Pages and they basically try to sell you as much as they can. They're sales staff and I wouldn't be surprised if they're paid on commission.

#4. There are many other services to find a phone number these days... ie. Google Maps, online business listings, apps on your smart phone.

If you go to YellowPages.ca they now offer free listings (because they've realized the hard way that people no longer want to pay to list businesses) and are trying to hit you up to hire them for advertising.

So here's what you do... take the free listing. Skip the other nonsense. Totally not worth your $$$. Yellow Pages is so completely overrated its barely worth your time making the free listing. (Note: You will need a HST # to sign up for a free listing.)

Here's a fun test to do... compare doing Google searchers for things like sunrooms in your local area... then try finding a company which makes sunrooms in the Yellow Pages. Chances are likely you won't find one in the Yellow Pages.

Try the same thing for other stuff like Ottawa windows or IT staffing Toronto... Google will bring in the results, especially if you want to search locally using Google Maps.

But the Yellow Pages? Pfff! Complete waste of time and effort, for bother the person looking and the person wanting to be found.

designSEO: Everything you need!

TECHNOLOGY - Lets say you live in Toronto... and you're starting your own business. Or maybe you already have a business.

And poof, you suddenly realize you need a website for your business (or that your current website sucks).

So you go online looking for a website designer, preferably one who knows how to make a website popular, because after all what is the point of having a website if nobody goes to it?

At which point you learn about something called "Search Engine Optimization" and you start doing Google searches for "Toronto SEO" because you need someone local you can meet in person, shake their hand and know you're not getting ripped off by some guy living who-knows-where in the world who treats you like a number and not a person.

Navigating the maze of websites on the topic (even locally) is a daunting task. Some of the websites are charging outrageous rates. Some of them when you call them refuse to even meet you in person.

That is when you ask around amongst friends / colleagues to see if they know anyone good... and maybe you come up with nothing.

Well here is my recommendation: designSEO.ca is the place to go...

It doesn't matter if you're Googling "Toronto website designer" or are just looking for "free SEO advice", then they're the place to go.

designSEO follows the philosophy that website design and SEO goes hand in hand, that the two are inseparable (to the point that designSEO uses a ying yang symbol for their logo) and must co-exist for a website to work properly and be popular.

And on the plus side, designSEO's rates are reasonable and competitive, they prefer to meet clients in person, they offer personal on-call service, and they can match your needs to your budget.

And best of all, you're a name and not a number.

PlentyofFish.com: Five Stars!

LOVE & SEX - Looking for love in all the wrong places?

Well maybe you haven't tried PlentyofFish.com. As online personals go (and I've tried quite a few over the years) Plenty of Fish has become "Numero Uno" in my book.

#1. For starters Plenty of Fish is free! Completely free! Its advertising supported and the brain child of a Canadian entrepreneur who realized that people needed a free personals website which offered advertising instead of outrageous monthly payments.

#2. When they say "plenty" its meant literally. Plenty of Fish is a global website with over 5 million unique visitors per month, and over 11 million registered users (that suggests 6 million people either found love or stopped looking).

#3. It is the #1 dating website in Canada, #1 in the UK and #2 in the USA.

And frankly why would anyone pay for a service which is inferior on another website when you get better quality service on "POF" for free?

And when I say quality, I really do mean it. I've tried out dozens of dating websites and the only one which comes close to the level of quality is okCupid.com (which is also free).

When using POF or okCupid I find its useful to treat it the same way you might use a Facebook profile, with the difference being that you are there to meet people.

Reputation.com Busted! Its totally bogus man!

TECHNOLOGY - You may have noticed ads online for reputation.com, a website which claims to be able to assess whether a person has a good reputation or not.

I tried searching for my own name and came up with low/mediocre results. Apparently my reputation is perfectly safe.

However to test out whether the website's function actually worked I tried testing the names of known villains... lets see my results:

Adolf Hitler (WWII Dictator)
Possible Negative Content: Average
People with Name: 2
Search Activity: 450,000

Paul Bernardo (Notorious Sex Criminal/Murderer)
Possible Negative Content: Low
People with Name: 91
Search Activity: 9,900

For fun I even tried names of other things...

Jack the Ripper (famed serial killer who was never caught)
Possible Negative Content: Average
People with Name: 0
Search Activity: 135,000

So yeah... if the worst reputations in history only come with "average" then reputation.com's schtick is totally busted. I'd argue such a website is a complete waste of time.

If someone really wanted to learn more about their reputation, just use Google News. If your name isn't in the news then its not worth worrying about.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Guinness Extra Stout

Maybe its because I've had a really long day... I mean I went bicycling TWICE today, did an hour of boxing, launched my new website (which I've been preparing for months)... whatever! After such a long day, the Guinness Extra Stout I am currently drinking tastes like pure ****ing heaven to me.

Cool.

Crisp.

Creamy.

Five stars.

My air conditioning also feels really good today.

Heck, anything cool and relaxing today would feel like five stars. :)

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

A Shot at Photo Books


By Fiona.

I haven't had any of my photos on print since the early 90's, before the popularization of digital cameras.

At the suggestion of a friend, I decided to try photo books from Kwikpix. And I'm glad I did! Their application was very easy to use and intuitive. The customization features made it possible to create a book well suited to the theme of my pictures and personal taste. The book was delivered seamlessly to my parents house in Toronto. And the photo book, looked like, well, a book!

It may be pricey, but its well worth it given how digital cameras are destined to be lost in folders and disappear in computer crashes. I'm glad to have rediscovered the long forgotten pleasure of photos on print!

Terminator Chronicles

Okay I know Terminator Chronicles (aka Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles) has been cancelled for 2 years now. Still for anyone who loves the Terminator movie series, the TV show is an excellent addition to the mythology of the story.

Despite being cancelled the show has been picked up by, as of February 22nd 2011, the SyFy channel announced it had gained the rights to all 31 episodes of the series. They started showing them as of April 7th 2011.

So ta da! Its back, sort of.

As TV shows go I give Terminator Chronicles a solid 5 out of 5 stars. Fantastic plot, good actors, lots of action, and lots of unexpected and interesting goings ons.

IN OTHER NEWS

On April 27th 2011 it was announced that a 5th Terminator movie is on its way, starring former Governor of California Arnold Schwarzenegger. Woot!

Arnold is also hoping to make one last Conan film apparently... something to do with King Conan and having to make difficult decisions as a leader. Of course this might just be a lead up to Arnold wanting to run for the White House. (Assuming he can overturn the law that says people born outside the USA cannot run for the presidency.)

Welcome New Reviewer, Vanessa

Today Product Reviews Canada gets a new reviewer... Vanessa from Montreal (aka Fiona Blue).

If other Canadians wish to join us and review products, please contact us.

All that we ask is that you follow a number of rules.

#1. All reviews must be entertaining and informative.

#2. Photos and videos help. They're not mandatory, but a good idea.

#3. The most important part of a good review is personal opinion.

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Damn Expiry Dates!

I got two Cineplex tickets for Christmas 2010, but apparently I didn't notice the expiry dates on the back... March 2011.

Basically the tickets were only good for 3 months after I received them, and the movies during the Winter were all sucky so I didn't bother to use the tickets right away. I was thinking of saving them for the next Harry Potter film...

NOTE TO SELF: Must remember to sneak into 2 Cineplex movies for free sometime. Jerks! Its their own fault for sticking expiry dates on their tickets.

Kudos to Walt Disney World... their tickets NEVER expiry. They're good FOREVER.

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Faxe Beer, not so good

Last night I went to a BBQ with friends, and thought it was BYOB. I misread the invitation however and it was only BYOM (Bring Your Own Meat).

But whatever.

En route (and under the impression it was BYOB) I popped by the LCBO at Yonge and Dundas and browsed their impressive selection of beers, trying to decide which beer to try and review.

I chose Faxe Brewery's "Extra Strong Beer", a 10% brute from Denmark which had an "okay" taste, but left me feeling queasy despite a normally cast iron stomach which was full of meat, bread and potato chips.

This leads me to believe Faxe's beer isn't so stellar (I would have been better off buying Stella Artois, from Belgium/UK)... so I give it a dismal 2 stars out of 5.

The queasiness later wore off and I slept like a baby, but my opinion of Danish beers has been significantly hurt.

I like the viking on the logo, but that just goes to prove vikings will drink any crappy beer.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

My Hunt for Summer Sandals & Sunglasses

I HATE SANDALS.

There, I said it...

That done and over with, my reasoning for wanting a pair of sandals may seem flawed.

Its going to be hot this summer. I don't want to be walking around in socks and shoes when I could be barefoot with nothing but sandals between my feet and the sidewalk.

Now as to the reasons why I hate sandals...

#1. I hate plastic shoes. Crocs, flip flops, anything like that is complete crap. The plastic gets too hot and they end up feeling sticky. Any sandal I buy will have to be made of wood and leather.

#2. I hate the straps that go inbetween the toes. They're damn uncomfortable. My goal therefore is to get something more like a Roman sandal, with two strap that goes over the top of the foot and one that goes around the ankle. Anything else will be "pootahed" as absolute garbage.

#3. Sandals get sand and dirt in them too easily. You keep having to remove them to get rid of any grit that has gotten under your foot. I am hoping that whatever sandal I buy its easy to take off when needed.

#4. Sunburned feet... nothing I can do about that except wear sunblock on my feet.

After the sandals the other thing on my agenda is to find sunglasses similar to the blue 'John Lennon' esque sunglasses I had back in 1997-1998. The blue lenses were shiny and tinted in a way that they changed colour slightly depending on the lighting and the angle you were looking at them.

I remember when I first got those sunglasses my friends tried them on and EVERYONE looked good in them. They were the most perfect sunglasses ever. Sadly they were later stolen by an ex-girlfriend (that bitch Kristin Greeniaus, who also stole my favourite bandanna from New Mexico) and I never saw them again.

So my goal is to find sunglasses exactly like them. A challenge I admit, but one worthy of attempting. I did at one point a couple years ago find purple sunglasses similar to the blue pair, but they just didn't look as good. MUST FIND THE HOLY GRAIL OF SUNGLASSES!

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