Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Mysteries and Cookbooks, oh my!

The first book here is a mystery written by Vivian Meyer. I liked this book so much I bought a copy for my little sister because I knew she would enjoy it.

"Bottom Bracket, gives us an inside look at alternative lifestyles in Toronto's colourful Kensington Market neighbourhood. Feminist and urban-space activist Abby Faria bike-couriers packages around downtown Toronto to support her expensive bicycle habit. When a brutal murder takes place in the Market just a few houses down from her own apartment, Abby decides to enlist the help of her Market friends: together they protect a frightened young prostitute, fight gentrification in the Market and stand up for the rights of the dispossessed. Along the way, Abby indulges in great coffee, fine bicycles and one or two good men.

Never one to mind her own business, she runs into trouble when she comes up against the world of organized drug and female sex trafficking. Between dodging homicidal cars and attending Save the Neighbourhood meetings, it's all Abby can do to stay one step ahead of the bad guys. It all becomes personal when Abby discovers that the very people she is pursuing may have had a hand in a past misfortune of her own.

Meyer draws on her own savvy experience of Market life and youth culture to imbue her characters with authenticity and spice. Full of unexpected plot twists, memorable characters and down-and-dirty detail, Bottom Bracket is also a thought-provoking exploration of inner-city issues in contemporary times."

Ragged Chain continues the story line of Abby.

"Fledgling private investigator Abby Faria is taking a well-deserved break on Peregrine Island in BC's magnificent Desolation Sound. After the harrowing conclusion of her first case back in Toronto's colourful Kensington Market, she plans to relax and indulge her passion for cycling on the Island trails with her current boyfriend. But romantic plans with boyfriend Andy go off the rails when logging company magnate Jack Armstrong is found murdered on the edge of an island clearcut.

Abby's nosing around in the eco-politics of the island soon brings her into the midst of a whole cast of island characters, many of whom, Abby discovers, had both motive and opportunity to murder the unpopular Armstrong. Her penchant for mixing it up with questionable characters and ignoring legal niceties in the process soon gets her into more trouble than she bargained for."

And lastly for the vegans out there who love ebooks... here is a funky / well thought out vegan recipe book.

"Everyone is part of the solution, no matter where we come from or how we have been raised. This book has 174 full-colour pages filled with photographs and recipes of beautiful dishes that are remarkably simple to make (half of them raw, half of them cooked). It also includes photos and logs of our journey, to bring you closer to us. Our goal is to encourage widespread positive change as people become more and more aware of the link between our every day actions and the environmental/spiritual crisis we are in right now."

So there you go. Three books that I think rock!

Monday, April 16, 2012

Bell Mobility overcharges you, only refunds 3 months

I came across the following info mentioning in a newspaper article complaining about companies overcharging people to their credit card:

"Dhun Noria, for example, disconnected his Bell cellphone in 2006 and didn’t know he was billed for it until 2012, when he’d paid more than $3,000 in erroneous charges."

But when he complained he only got reimbursed for three months’ service ($160).

Same thing happened to me over a year ago. Bell Mobility overcharged me for 9 months. So I left Bell and switched to a different company.

And Bell Mobility is not alone. Many other companies do this. Rogers, AT&T, Fido, Telus... all the big companies. If you sign up for automatic billing with your credit car that is basically like waving a white flag and surrendering your credit card to whatever fraudulent methods that they can get away with.

And because they will only refund mistakes within the last 90 days most people don't even notice they're being defrauded until months and months later.

HOT TIP: Don't agree to auto-billing on your credit card. ALWAYS, ALWAYS pay via online banking instead when you FEEL it. It forces you to look at your bills. When you notice a bill that is unusual then you can investigate and complain.

Referenced article:

Old Toys... they don't make'em like they used to!

Check out this old Kidco car from 1980. Part of a set called "Burnin' Keys Cars" which was essentially a Hot Wheels style car with a spring in the back that went on a plastic key... and then zoomed off when the key is squeezed.

These things are such collectibles now that they're now worth about $15 to $30 each on eBay depending on how mint their condition is. If they're still in the original box they can be worth $40 to $50, but frankly that defeats the purpose of the toy. (I found a copy of the same one above in the video on eBay for $19, still in the box, a Nissan 280ZX.)

After all, to paraphrase Spock and Sheldon Cooper, the purpose of a toy is to be played with, and therefore it is only logical to take it out of the box.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Ambrosia Holistic Health Centre

The Ambrosia Holistic Health Centre is in the heart of Montreal and before you get caught up with all their harmony and serenity consider this...

When you first enter their website everything is in French.

Oh sure its in Canada, a bilingual country, and its in Montreal the most bilingual country in the world, but their Montreal massage / massage Montréal website is only in French.

Its only after a while of searching around do you notice a tiny link in the upper right that says English.

Its good that they have it there, but its very difficult to notice.

Beyond that Ambrosia offers everything you can expect from a health and beauty spa: massage therapy services, expensive skin care products, Feng Shui decor, osteopathy, yoga, meditation, life coaching, saunas, aroma therapy, kinesitherapy, body wraps, exfoliation, nutritional advice and stress management coaching.

But like all such health spas don't expect any of this to be cheap. Its $40 to get a facial, $125 for a Siamese Herbal Massage and $255 for the "Complete Royal Treatment" (a process which takes 3.5 hours to complete). And this is just a few of their services.

Having belonged to a gym and a yoga studio in the past I've become aware that such places charge an arm and a leg for any special services. A personal trainer at one such gym is $90 per hour.

So maybe I am just cheap. Maybe I think its overpriced to pay someone $90 / hour for exercise advice (I can get free exercise advice from YouTube or many other websites).

But you can't get a massage from the internet... or a sauna (unless you buy one for yourself). You could give yourself a facial if you know how, but I guess it all comes back to that idea of luxury.


Its the reason we go out to restaurants and pay other people to make food for us and serve it to us. A health spa is all about paying other people to perform a service you are too lazy to do yourself and to enjoy the luxury of it, assuming you can afford their ridiculously high prices.

Garbage and Junk Removal in Edmonton

Do you know what I really love?

Websites that give you a discount just for mentioning their website or where you saw their ad.

ie. Lets say you are Googling the terms Garbage Collection Edmonton or Junk Removal Edmonton and find the website vanishsiteremoval.ca. They offer free estimates and a $15 discount when mentioning their website.

True, they're not the only website that does this, but its a very good practice. The business learns more about which of their advertising methods is working and you save some cash.

More examples:

designSEO.ca offers a variety of discounts via Facebook if you mention how you find their website. (Mention this blog post and you can get 10% off website design work before December 31st 2012.)

hometex.ca offers a a 5% discount coupon off ALL purchases in exchange for you linking to their website. (No link here, since I am not buying anything from them.)

evenbetterhealth.com readers get a discount of $500.00 off the regular retail price of any Thermal Life® sauna from High Tech Health.

Another thing I like is when websites have VIDEOS. vanishsiteremoval.ca's video below is also a good example of this in action.

Promotional videos for websites don't have to be complicated. Some times making a simple video is just as good because it concisely gets the job done. No extra fuss hiring actors or wasting people's time with a phony script. You get the point across, explain your service, how to contact you and you're done.

So for a service like garbage removal its really a no brainer. Its not like the service requires a huge amount of skill or trained expertise. Any idiot with a truck can remove garbage. The bigger issue is how cheaply it can be done and what happens to the garbage after its removed (recycling, land fill, incinerator, etc), and does the garbage contain any bio-hazards/chemicals that will have to be dealt with properly (this latter part may require some expertise).

Another thing I like is when companies / websites make a genuine effort to make a nice looking logo. Shows a degree of professionalism some websites / companies lack. If the logo looks spiffy I find I trust the company more even if I've never dealt with them.

Its a bit like buying a car. Would you rather buy a GMC (with its classic GMC logo) or a car made overseas with a badge that looks poorly made? The answer is obvious. Everyone buys the more professional product or service if they can afford to do so.

The one thing I don't like is Vanish's contact page at http://vanishsiteremoval.ca/contact-us/. Why? Because they use a form mailer and don't even give the option to email them directly.

What if I wanted their email address to write down and use later? What if their form mail script is broken (this happens sometimes with websites and your carefully written letter goes into oblivion)?

Is it too much to ask that a website have a proper contact email you can send to directly without using idiotic form mail? (Makes me want to whack their website designer over the head.)

I also despise websites which use WordPress. Yuck. Badly done.

But I guess that is what you get sometimes when people spend all their money on a good logo and leave a few peanuts left over for website design. vanishsiteremoval.ca probably offers a good quality service, but they should fire their website designer.

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