Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Made in Canada = Hard to Find

Ever noticed how difficult it can be to find products which are "Made in Canada"... which are ACTUALLY made in Canada?

They do exist. They are hard to find these days, but not impossible to find.

TIP #1. Look for local manufacturers. If they're manufactured within 40 km of your home they might even offer free shipping.

TIP #2. Check the labels. It might say Made in Canada, but that might only be 'packaged in Canada' and manufactured overseas. Make sure.

TIP #3. Make a List of Canadian companies that manufacture in Canada. Organize the list by category or topic. ie. cosmetics, toiletries and local fashion such as Cake and Fresh Collective.

TIP #4. Research! There are several websites devoted to “Made in Canada” products. ie. buycanadianfirst.ca has consumer goods made in Canada, covering all segments of the market from clothing to furniture to sports equipment (Woot! Hockey sticks!). The website's goal is to “educate consumers on the availability of products made in Canada.”

ie. reallymadeincanada.com is also helpful, but you need to use the directory if you are looking for a particular topic.

TIP #5. Use Google Maps! You can use this for finding services too. ie. "Website Design near Isabella Street and Sherbourne Street, Toronto, ON, Canada".

And lets not forget the benefits of buying Canadian!

BENEFIT #1. Local manufacturers have more pride in their work and it shows in the quality of their craftsmanship. No plastic stuff from overseas or cheap wood that you have to assemble yourself from IKEA!

BENEFIT #2. Even the delivery men treat the objects you buy with more respect when its a local company.

BENEFIT #3. You are boosting the local economy by buying Canadian.

For more fun try reading the Competition Bureau’s regulations for “Product of Canada”.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Chinese Rip Offs: Good or Bad???

I love China. Wo ai Zhongguo.

But one of the fun things about China is how they copy everything from Gucci bags to specific brands of cars. Where else can you get:

#1. A rip off of the famous "In-N-Out" burgers from California at a restaurant called "CaliBurger".

#2. Fake Apple products from a fake Apple store in southern Yunnan province.

#3. Dairy Fairy (Dairy Queen)

#4. Pizza Huh (Pizza Hut)

#5. Jambo Juice (Jamba Juice)

#6. Obama Fried Chicken (Kentucky Fried Chicken)

#7. Fake Dior sunglasses.

#8. Fake Armani jackets.

#9. Fake Gucci bags.

#10. Fake Apple iPads.

And so forth... basically any big brand name you can think of there is a fake or ripped off version of it in China.

Including cars! Check out the following videos with clips from Top Gear's trip to China.







So... coming back to the title of this blog post, is all this ripping off of products a good thing?

Well... if you're just looking to get a Gucci bag and can't afford one, absolutely. Ripped off fashion is no big deal.

If you're looking for a cheap car, yes, by 2020 you should be able to buy a pretty good Chinese rip off. Right now they suck, but in 8 years they should be pretty decent.

Even the fake electronics is getting to be pretty good.

As long as you aren't buying fake birth control pills or fake medicine, you should be fine.

Just remember you get what you pay for. Cheap junk is more likely to break, but for certain items it won't be that big of a deal. Real Levis Jeans still rip anyway, so don't be surprised if the fake Levis rip too.

The Simpsons: Blah, keep going downhill

ENTERTAINMENT - I have a strange feeling that the Simpsons is one of those TV shows that will never be canceled.

The Simpsons recently celebrated their 500th episode (130 less than the record-holder: Gunsmoke), but don't think for a second that its because the Simpsons is quality television or animation. It isn't.

On the scale of animation the Simpsons is as crude as it gets. And the plots keep rehashing the same ideas over and over again, each time with a different pop culture twist.

In the beginnings the Simpsons was meant as a show for adults only. There was an early episode where Homer and Marge run around naked for half the episode looking for places to have sex.

Also gone is the social commentary. Its rare these days that the Simpsons make any effort to talk about environmentalism, equal rights or the religious right-wing (the mockery of the Christian Flanders next door has been toned down dramatically).

In 22 seasons it really is no surprise that the Simpsons is now a watered down show filled with pop culture references. Just look at the list of celebrities that have been on the show...

Just to name a few: Tom Hanks, Dustin Hoffman, Meryl Streep, Liam Neeson, Reese Witherspoon, Michelle Pfeiffer, Glenn Close, Woody Harrelson, Susan Sarandon, Donald Sutherland, Kiefer Sutherland, Martin Sheen, Alec Baldwin, Richard Gere, Bette Midler, Elizabeth Taylor, Kirk Douglas, Paul Newman, Mickey Rooney, Ernest Borgnine, Jack Lemmon, Rod Steiger, Johnny Carson, David Letterman, Jerry Springer, Steve Allen, Dick Cavett, Dick Clark, Regis Philbin, Dan Rather, Charlie Rose, Bob Hope, Steve Martin, Jackie Mason, George Carlin, Cheech & Chong, the Smothers Brothers, Paul McCartney and Ringo Starr, Mick Jagger and Keith Richards, Michael Jackson, U2, Aerosmith, The Who, the Red Hot Chili Peppers, the White Stripes, 50 Cent, Sting, Katy Perry, Willie Nelson, Dolly Parton, Dixie Chicks, James Taylor, James Brown, Little Richard, Barry White, Robert Goulet, Britney Spears, David Byrne, Mel Brooks, Rob Reiner, Ron Howard, Penny Marshall, Garry Marshall, Albert Brooks, John Waters, Christopher Guest, Robert Evans, Jim Jarmusch, Stephen King, John Updike, Stephen Hawking, Stephen Sondheim, David Mamet, Gore Vidal...

In the beginning the Simpsons was raunchy and controversial. It upset the right-wing with its flagrant disregard and even mockery of social conventions. There was no celebrity guest voices either.

Today there is rarely a new episode that doesn't have a celebrity as a guest star or at least a pop culture reference to a celebrity. (Family Guy is also guilty of this.)

And since pop culture is POPULAR it pretty much guarantees that the Simpsons will be around forever simply as a staple of modern television... until something better comes along and people eventually get bored of the Simpsons.

Speaking for myself I only watch the Simpsons once per year. I download all the episodes of the new season, watch them all at once, and then delete them. I delete them because frankly they're not that good.

Its reached a point where I now procrastinate about downloading and watching them because I know I will just be disappointed.

Its all a very bad joke and the 500th episode is no less of a sad joke.

SPOILER ALERT!

During the 500th episode the Simpsons get kicked out of Springfield. Fed up with Homer's drunkenness and Bart's destructiveness the townsfolk kick the Simpsons into exile. By the end of the episode the entire population of Springfield misses them and runs off to join them. Throw in a cameo by Wikileaks founder Julian Assange and you've got the 500th episode.

END OF SPOILER ALERT!

If you are disappointed by the episode you are not alone. For a 500th episode its pretty blah. It was an extremely typical episode. The only real difference was the family couch montage at the end of the episode...

Which has been done before, many times.

They also had a Chuck Lorre style card at the end reading: “Thanks for 500 shows. All we ask is that you go out and get some fresh air before logging onto the Internet and saying how much this sucked.”

And it did suck. And I did get fresh air.

The Simpsons is a bit like a pop culture time capsule. You pick a year, watch a few episodes from that year, and you get an idea of what was popular at the time. (Or not popular, depending on what they're making fun of.)

They will just keep making Simpsons episodes until the end of time (or until the ratings eventually drop low enough that they stop making the show, in which case they might try to change the plots and writers instead in a last ditch attempt to make the show more interesting).

And to all you people who don't like this review, don't have a cow man! Just leave a comment and say Doh!

Garage Door Openers and Industrial Doors

TECHNOLOGY - I think garage door openers are one of the kewlest inventions to come out of the 1980s. I think they were first introduced in the 1980s, I cannot be certain, I just remember the ads for them on TV during the mid-1980s and I presume they were invented shortly before that time. (It is entirely possible they were invented before then.)

New technology was a big thing in the 1980s. It influenced the movies and TV shows. Shows like Airwolf (a supersonic helicopter that could do over Mach 1), MacGyver (a scientist / sleuth), Knight Rider (a car that can think and talk) and movies like TRON or the one Superman movie where the real danger ends up being an intelligent super computer. If you lived through the 1980s you can probably think of more.

Watching TV in the 1980s the wealthy people always had phones in their cars, garage doors that opened automatically and gadgets that the average person simply could not afford.

But now you can. Three decades later such things have become a lot cheaper (you can get a new cellphone for free, just sign your soul away on a contract) and gadgets like garage door openers are now easy to get.

In the industry of selling these things they're not even called garage door openers either. They're called Industrial Door Operators and the name to me sounds almost clinical and mechanical. I guess they called it an operator because it doesn't just open the door, it also closes it. Ah.

The only trick is that they really only work on one style of doors. Industrial Doors. So I really need to talk about that first. When looking to get a garage door make sure its compatible with the garage door opener you intend to use. (I think that is rather important, don't you?)

Companies like MICANON sell everything you need for your garage door. If you browse micanan.com you will see their broad range of services and products. The door itself and also:

Jackshaft Operators
Trolley Operators
Sliding Door Operators
Gate Operators (for those really rich people who have a walled estate and a gate blocking the driveway)

What I like about MICANON is that it is a Canadian company based in St-Regis Dorval, Quebec. Huzzah for Canadians!

They also have offices Phoenix, Arizona and also Atlanta, Georgia, which allows them to service basically anywhere in Canada or the USA.

Garage Door Openers I think is one of those conveniences we don't really think about much in the 2010s. Its old tech from decades ago. Its a gadget. Its really not that impressive in a world where we've become used to seeing Aston Martin convertibles with folding roofs that fold automatically in 10 to 15 seconds at the touch of button.

Or compared to robotic vacuum cleaners, webcams, tablet computers, smartphones with video cameras built in, eBook Readers. A simple trip to Future Shop or Best Buy will give you an idea of the mass market electronic marvels we now have... giant flat screen TVs with 3D glasses for your home entertainment system.

It really makes you realize how attached to our technology we now are... people addicted to Twitter and Facebook... and comparatively few people going outside and enjoying nature and life as it was meant to be.

So if you have a car here's an idea: Go take a drive in the country. Pick a lake on a map and go drive there to have a look. Take your camera with you if you must have a gadget.

Just remember to close the garage door on your way out.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Duncan Hines Devil's Food Cake

I loooooooove cake.

And I love cake mixes even more.

Add 3 eggs, some water and vegetable oil, mix in a bowl, pour in a pan or muffin tins... and voila cake and cupcakes!

However I want to point out that while Duncan Hines cake mixes are very good (my personal favourite is Devil's Food Cake) there is also the No Name brand cake mixes... which are really surprisingly good too.

The only advantage to Duncan Hines is that they have more variety of flavours to choose from. (No Name = just Chocolate and Vanilla.) Specifically I am using the "Moist Deluxe" mixes.

The flavours include:

Banana Supreme
Butter Golden
Fudge
Caramel
Classic White
Classic Yellow
Coconut Supreme
Confetti
Dark Chocolate Fudge
French Vanilla
Fudge Marble
German Chocolate
Lemon Supreme
Orange Supreme
Pineapple Supreme
Spice
Strawberry Supreme
Swiss Chocolate

I've had the Fudge, Fudge Marble, French Vanilla and earlier today I purchased the Devil's Food Cake and it is baking in the oven right now.

Goes well with icing or whip cream, either is good.

Mmmmmm mmmmm tasty!

NOTE: Given an option I would still prefer homemade pie over cake any day. Especially raspberry pie, apple pie or pecan pie.

Bannock Restaurant = Rude Staff, not sure why...

Ever gone to a cafe or restaurant and the staff behaved rudely and you can't figure out WHY they are rude?

Last week I went to Bannock for Valentines...

Bannock
401 Bay Street Toronto
M5H 2Y4

Phone: 416-861-6996

Bannock is a restaurant / cafe. You step inside and you see a restaurant on the left and a cafe to the right. My Valentine and I opted for the cafe.

We waited 5 minutes for the servers to get us a seat. When we did get a seat nobody came to take our order...

So we went up to the cafe bar and ordered teas, went back to our seats and waited for someone to take our order.

Time ticks by. We discuss our romantic prospects.

Finally a server comes by... but instead of asking to take our order she asks us to leave, saying that if we're only drinking tea then they would prefer to give the cafe table to different customers.

I am tempted to tell the server off for not bringing us a drink menu but quietly bite my tongue instead. I look around at the other customers in the cafe section. Some of them drinking tea, wine or beer.

I was wanting to order a Guinness but apparently the staff was so rude (or just plain stupid) that it had never occurred to them to ASK if we wanted a menu.

I mean we were in the cafe section. Everyone else was drinking some kind of fluid. I saw one person who had a plate of what looked to be pasta, but otherwise everything was either tea or alcohol.

The server didn't even give us the option of ordering alcohol. She just asked us to leave and didn't even bother to ask if we wanted to order anything or if we needed a menu.

I even vaguely wonder if the staff were being racist since my Valentine and I are an interracial couple. I am Scottish and my date was originally from Uganda. Possible racism aside it was a very rude opening to our Valentine's date.

So... my thoughts as we took our time and eventually left? A scathing review was in order.

So here it is: Bannock, rude staff, horrible service, good tea. Sorry, I didn't get a chance to review their alcoholic beverages, but since I love Guinness I am sure it would have been just as good at a different restaurant down the street.

I am also posting this review on the Google Maps / Business Locations directory. Bannock deserves a bad reputation.

PLUS I am even going to phone Bannock using the phone number listed above and complain to the manager and mention this review. (Sadly all I got was the manager's voicemail, but it will do.) I think that should get my point across that I am a very unhappy customer.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Dempster's Bagels

Today I went to the post office to pick up a package (yeah, more free stuff from WebRing.com!) and on the way back I passed by a Dempster's Bagels van (sort of like an ice cream van) giving away free bagels...

So I had a sesame seed bagel with peanut butter. Free.

Can't beat that.

However I want to point something out...

Whether you buy a fresh bagel from Great Canadian Bagel or even Tim Horton's... they all taste the same. I don't notice any difference in the quality of the bagels. (And I ate a lot of bagels back when I was in university.)

What I do notice is the difference between fresh bagels from shops... vs store bought bagels from the grocery store. Fresh bagels are awesome!

But store bought bagels... yuck. They're too hard and don't taste that great, and that is likely because they're not fresh.

Note:

Dempster's doesn't have any bagel shops. They're wholly store bought bagels... so while the bagel van with the free bagels today may have had fresh bagels and they did taste good... I wouldn't recommend buying bagels in a grocery store. Who knows how long they have been sitting there on the shelf???

And a package of 8 bagels? Unless you are having friends over are you really going to eat that many bagels in a hurry before they go bad?

Nutritional Note:

Bagels are VERY HIGH in carbs. Its the equivalent of eating four pieces of bread (and bread is already super fattening because of all the carbs).

Its no wonder I put on so much weight during university... I had 2 bagels for breakfast 3 - 5 times per week. Approx. 8 bagels per week is a lot of carbs.

Friday, February 17, 2012

Renewable Energy Products

I found this interesting website which sells renewable energy products (mostly solar and wind). I do however think they could have designed their website better, but that is unrelated to the products themselves.

They sell a variety of emergency safety products like radios, lanterns, etc ideal for camping or some sort of emergency (earthquake, zombie apocalypse, etc).

They also sell a variety of solar powered items for "personal charging" that can be attached to briefcases, backpacks, laptops, etc and battery packs which are compatible with solar energy sources.

I personally prefer to do my camping au naturel (no tech toys whatsoever), but I can definitely still see uses for these products.

So for any survivalists out there these are products you may want to have... although frankly, if the zombies do rise up, listening to the radio may be lower on your list of concerns...

And bullets will eventually run out, so I recommend a nice axe. Want to know where to find the nicest axes during the zombie uprising?

The Fire Station. Firemans' axes are the best. :)

Sunday, February 5, 2012

D'Angelo Brand Apple Juice Tastes Like P*ss

Seriously.

It looks like p*ss. And it tastes like cr*p. (Or more specifically it tastes like pesticides.)

D'Angelo Brand products are in the El Cheapo section of the aisle so I guess you get what you pay for. Junk filled with pesticides from what was apparently diseased or dying apple trees with very little nutritional content.

If you want good quality apple juice I recommend the following companies:

Alibaba

Apple and Eve

Dewlands

Eden Organic

No Name

President's Choice

Simply Apple

Snapple

TrueBlue

NOTE: I drink a lot of apple juice, especially when sick. Whenever I get sick one of the first things I do is buy 4 litres of apple juice.

2ND NOTE: Some cheap brands of apple juice have been caught with arsenic in their ingredients. Definitely recommend avoiding El Cheapo apple juice.

Edgar Rice Burroughs - John Carter of Mars

A couple of months ago I saw the movie trailer for the new John Carter movie coming out in March 2012 (Disney purchased the rights).

After seeing it I decided to read the John Carter series (11 books total) by Edgar Rice Burroughs and I am now on book 4. What I've discovered however is that while Carter's Mars setting is interesting, by the 4th book he becomes really repetitive. He basically keeps reusing the same plot (rescue the girl) again and again which is really disappointing.

I will admit the first 2 books by Edgar Rice Burroughs were quite good, but by book 3 I was getting bored. And by the 4th book John Carter's son basically starts rehashing the same basic plots his father did. Yawn.

I think what happened was Burroughs realized he had a real money maker on his hands to sell lots of books, but sadly the quality of his plots went down dramatically. Hopefully Disney changes the movie plots a bit to keep things interesting for the film franchise.



Disposable Razors Review

Yesterday I was standing in the Shoppers Drug Mart looking at the lineup of razor blades. I was looking for razor blades for a Gillette Mach3 but they didn't have any.

Instead they were all disposable razorblades. (Maybe I was in the wrong aisle.)

I had a choice between:

Gillette Mach3 Disposable Razorblades
BIC Flex4 Disposable Razorblades
Schick Xtreme3 Disposable Razorblades

I have already tried the Mach3 disposables before (and frankly wasn't happy because they're not as good as the regular razors. Thus I opted to buy both the 3-pack of BIC Flex4 (on sale for $5.99) and the 4-pack of Schick Xtreme3 (on sale for $6.99)


When I got home I tried the BIC Flex4 to see what it was like... and it was possibly one of the best, most comfortable shaves I've ever had. At $2 per razor I guess I shouldn't be surprised that it was that good.

I shall try the Schick Xtreme3 sometime soon and post an update to this blogpost after I know just how well it performs.

Friday, February 3, 2012

Kasamile Maltese Puppies in Toronto

Look at the photos to the right and tell me they aren't cute and adorable?

This is what you can expect if you purchase puppies from Kasamile Maltese of Toronto. A cute fluffy Maltese puppy who has been bred, raised, pampered, had all their vet shots and treated with love.

They're just plain adorable.

They are not cheap however. Kasamile imports their breeding parents from South Korea and goes the whole nine yards when it comes to pampering. Their Maltese puppies cost approx. $3,000 per puppy and are pampered in the extreme.

As a breeder Kasamile Maltese has set themselves apart from the competition. They are the BEST when it comes to raising Maltese puppies, pampering them, training them and so forth.

It is really no wonder their puppies are so adorable. They are loved. The breeder really cares about them and she doesn't just sell to just anyone. There is a whole screening process before you can get a Kasamile puppy.

But if you have the dog for 10 to 15 years the $3,000 you paid will seem really worth it. The better the breeder the less likely the dog will have congenital problems and there is zero risk of the dog having a bad temperament due to bad treatment. (Less quality breeders often have dogs that get frightened or violent easily because the dog has been mistreated in the past.)

And when it comes to man's best friend shouldn't you get a friend who is absolutely loyal and will love you unconditionally?

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