Monday, January 23, 2012

The No Name Brand

I really like the No Name brand.

No Name is a generic brand of grocery and household products sold by Loblaws, no frills, Real Canadian Superstore, Your Independent Grocer, Valu-Mart, Zehrs, Fortinos, Provigo, Extra Foods, Super-Valu, Maxi, SaveEasy, and Atlantic Superstore.

You will recognize them due to their yellow packaging and plain black lettering.

What I like about the company is the following:

#1. No jazzy packaging. They're not trying to sell you with fancy graphics.

#2. The description of the product inside is just that. "Cola", "Mayonnaise", "Pure Olive Oil", etc.

#3. The quality of the product is above par. It may say No Name on the outside, but the inside is better than some brand name companies I've tried. I think its because No Name is a brand name and put effort into making a quality product and completely ignore the need to advertise. They don't need to advertise because Loblaws owns the brand and its just there in the store, giving you the choice between brands such as Coca-Cola, Pepsi, President's Choice and No Name Cola. (All colas rot your teeth, make you fat on the sugar and use vanilla for the flavour so it doesn't really matter which one you choose.)

#4. Often the product is exactly the same, just different packaging. Lets take an example like Marshmallows. Now you could choose to buy Kraft Marshmallows or No Name Marshmallows. But its the same recipe. You look at the ingredients and the nutritional info and what you learn is that its the same stuff inside the marshmallows. One brand doesn't taste any better than the other. The same is true for many other No Name products. Rice is rice. Cheddar Cheese is Cheddar Cheese. Chocolate Cake Mix is Chocolate Cake Mix. Makes no difference.

#5. Price. You can't beat the No Name prices. They're guaranteed to be the lowest because they spend nothing on advertising or fancy packaging.

Conclusions? Why pay more for a product just for the packaging? To impress someone? Pfff. Fine, buy the brand name stuff when you have guests over. But don't tell the rice was No Name. They will never know the difference.

No name companies (not just the "No Name" brand") often produce very good products and when put to the test are sometimes even better than the brand name product. Check out the video review below for "Sunny Baby" cloth diapers vs a no name cloth diaper. They make look the same, but the mother finds many faults in the design of the Sunny Baby diapers.

Men's Underwear

By C. Moffat.

FASHION - Here is a fun fact... men in a relationship don't buy new underwear. Their wives or girlfriends do that for them most of the time.

It is difficult to estimate just often women buy men's underwear, but I would estimate it to be somewhere in the range of 90%.

Speaking for myself, I buy new underwear once a year... and I have big drawer fills with Dockers boxer briefs, boxer shorts of various types and so forth. I really probably should throw some out.

Eventually the elastics wear out and you have to throw some of them out anyway. It happens.

Some of them I can even tell you which ex-girlfriend bought them for me. Some of them Santa Claus and reindeer on them so that gives you an idea of what time of year they were given too.

The thing about underwear for men is that most men really couldn't care what underwear they wear. Its not high on our priority list.

When you consider quite a few men in North America are freeballing [walking around with no underwear at all] then you start to realize that men simply don't care that much about their underwear. But women care. Women care a lot evidently.

It all reminds of several clips from Seinfeld. For example the clip of Kramer below wearing Calvin Klein underwear. Does Kramer care what brand he is wearing? No. The guy is clueless. There is other clips of Kramer too walking around in just his underwear, and in one incident freeballing, but my point is made. Men just don't care.

Part of it I think is because the male body (on average) is NOT a work of art. True, male supermodels often market underwear, but its not the men they're marketing towards its the women who secretly wish their boyfriends or husbands looked like a male supermodel.

As a man who buys underwear once per year I will admit I go for quantity, preferably a brand that is also quality at the same time. Thus a brand which sells a 5-pack of underwear automatically gets ranked higher on my priority list.

Vegan-Friendly Hair and Body Products + Aveda Institute

FASHION - Okay now I am not a Vegan myself, but I can at least appreciate the concept of a company that goes out of their way to make products with zero animal biproducts in it.

Frankly the idea of putting dead animals in my hair is rather gross.

Thus hair and skincare products made purely from plants and flowers is rather kewl. Much better than petro-chemicals too.

So I say KUDOS to any company that goes all natural with their ingredients.

The silly thing is that soap is soap. If it gets you clean (as per the Kermit the Frog video below) it has done its job. Also for the prices being charged for shampoos and other soaps paying the tiny bit extra for one that doesn't contain animal biproducts sounds like a pretty good deal.

In other news...

The Aveda Institute of Canada is offering five full hair school scholarships to their hair schools in five different cities across Canada (Victoria, Vancouver, Calgary, Winnipeg and Toronto).

To win, a contestant must submit an amazing video explaining why they are "Born to Style". Winners will be selected by a panel of celebrity judges. The Aveda Institute is a top hair school that trains hair stylists for films and the fashion industry.

These pros do the best work that graces the covers and editorial pages of the world's biggest and best fashion magazines. See the Aveda Institute Flickr page to see more of what they do.

And even if you don't win the contest, just think. If you are looking for a hair school in Vancouver or a hair school in Winnipeg then why not go for the best?

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Fun Winter Activities in Toronto

Looking for something fun to do this Winter?

#1. Go outside and exercise. Try meeting other people via to go on skiing, ice fishing and snowboarding trips.

#2. Look for other activities to do this Winter, like joining the Toronto Poetry Association (it is basically a club for poets) or the Writers Work Group. An excellent way to meet new people.

#3. Explore one of your hobbies and meet other people interested in the same hobby. Depending on whether you prefer spending the winter indoors or outdoors you can choose hobbies that don't require being outside much.

#4. Find ways to mock Toronto Mayor Rob Ford.

#5. Join a travel group and go south for the Winter! :)

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Air Conditioners II - The Design Element

TECHNOLOGY - Please check out our older air conditioning post too.

Air conditioning isn't something that Canadians often think about (certainly not in the winter), but it is certainly something we want during the May to September period of the year, whether its for our homes, apartments, work or inside a sweaty car. It still gets really hot here.

And with global warming its even hotter. Today is January 3rd 2012... and there is no snow in Toronto. Its the middle of winter and there is no snow. THAT is global warming for you. When you consider that 15 of the hottest years in recorded history have all been in the last 20 years you realize something is dreadfully wrong.

And air conditioning at least will keep us cool while the rest of the planet melts.

When it comes to air conditioners however there is a strong tendency of the lowest bidder approach. People buy a cheap air conditioner because its what they can afford. Buying an air conditioner which is quality made, looks beautiful, is designed well, will last a long time... well, people don't usually do that.

If you go to an Italian air conditioning website for example you might notice that their air conditioners are designed to look good in addition to functioning well. But it comes with a hefty price tag. Expect to pay anywhere from $1000 to $3000 for a high end air conditioner.

The difference however is that it will come with a list of computerized options (which thanks Italian designers will be easy to understand and use) which lets you more accurately control the temperature, have built in timers, different settings for different times of day, automatic shut off, and so forth. A bit like programming the VCR back in the 1980s, but with the added benefit that your little sister won't mess up the settings just by changing the channel to watch cartoons.

Design features with respect to aesthetics is different... its a bit like buying a fancy car. Yes, when you buy a sports car you expect it to go fast, but you also want it to be comfortable and look REALLY good.

With an air conditioner you are looking for something that will match the decor of your home. A clunky white or grey air conditioner might look out of place in your floral pink decor and it will be tricky to find something which matches.

I am reminded of an essay written back in the 1900s about a man who bought a new evening gown... he bought the gown but soon realized it didn't match his sheets or his bed. So he bought a new bed and sheets. Then he redecorated his entire bedroom to match his new bed... then he realized the rest of his home didn't suit the bedroom, so he redecorated and bought all new things for his entire house. Eventually he ran out of money and didn't feel very happy anyway because his lavish house didn't feel a home any more. He couldn't have guests over for fear they might spill drinks on his new sofa. He felt like a stranger in his house.

So I guess my advice here is to know your limits. Yes, buy a good quality air conditioner. But don't let it control your life. In a world where you get what you pay for sometimes its necessary to spend a little more.

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