Friday, August 31, 2012

Ever noticed how University and College apparel is overpriced?

Seriously.

Ever noticed how University and College apparel is overpriced?

Let me give an example... I went to York University in Toronto, Canada... for 5 years.

And I don't have a single piece of university apparel. Or a school ring either. I admit, I loved the university too. Loved the teachers. Loved the classes. Loved the campus. Heck, I even grew to love the concrete architecture and bizarre sculptures.

York University even had its own shopping mall on the campus known as York Lanes... and within York Lanes was the official university apparel store... where the prices of t-shirts, hoodies, jackets, hats, scarves, etc were jacked up so high as to make it ridiculous. I am talking like $60 for a simple t-shirt.

Part of this problem I think was because York had somehow privatized its line of apparel and the private company running it, in order to make a profit, had jacked up the prices. Furthermore the private company had to pay to rent the space in the York Lanes mall, and since it wasn't exactly booming in terms of sales they had jacked up the prices more so.

What they should have done is have a tiny basement office in a corner of a rarely used building (like in the basement of the Behavioral Sciences building)... someplace where the rent was cheap and it would really just a storage room (similar to the Lost and Found office) monitored by 1 person.

Now I must admit York University isn't alone in this. A LOT of universities and colleges have jacked up prices for their apparel (and vigilantly guard against "copyright thieves" making knock-off versions).

SIDE NOTE: Since then I think the ownership has changed and York apparel is now sold via the York U bookstore (also in York Lanes)... so presumably prices have probably dropped. Finally. 9 years after I graduated.

But not all places of higher learning do this. Let say for example you attended the University of Alabama... and you wanted some University of Alabama shirts... Well then you just visit their website, browse the prices, and order whatever it is that you actually want.

Easy. And the prices are fair. Not cheap, but fair. Comparable to what you might pay in Old Navy, American Apparel or H&M.

That is the way it SHOULD be done.

Some of them will even have a broad selection of products, like the "Alabama Houndstooth Fedora Hat"... which is *cough* actually not a Fedora. Its a Hamburg hat. Fedoras are broad brimmed. Hamburgs are short brimmed. Sheesh, seriously people, stop calling Hamburgs by the wrong name.

Same goes with Swiss hats. If it looks like a Hamburg but has a feather in the side, it is called a Swiss.

I swear... It is just like idiots in Hollywood (and video game designers) who keep using Egyptian khopesh swords BACKWARDS and having people committing suicide by slicing their wrists sideways (the proper way is to cut lengthwise along the vein).

And this is what you get for attending university for three to five years... You become educated to the point that:

1. You can recognize historical inaccuracies in TV shows and movies.

2. You *should* be able to spot the difference between different pieces of clothing and their proper names. (Like the difference between "leggings" and "stretch pants".)

3. You can do math and you know when something is overpriced and ripping you off.

4. You can recognize when a company is giving you a fair deal (and when their stuff is made by sweatshops in South East Asia) because you know how to read the label.

5. You can use your brain enough to go to a custom T-shirt place with a logo and have a new shirt made for $30 instead of paying $60 for the official university shirt which is grossly overpriced. (Better yet, you can pick colours and designs nobody else has, thus ensuring you have a shirt that other alumni will be jealous of.)

Oh, and assuming you are also potty trained, you should also be able to dress yourself.

Now go join the workforce of brainless zombies who sit at computers and press buttons, doing what you are told by the uncaring bosses with their big salaries... and ignore the fact that you were told for years that people value creativity and individual thinking.

Pfffff!

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Private Cooking Lessons in Toronto

Meet Luca. (Note to self, find a photo of him.)

He is a professional Italian chef. He caters private functions and dinner parties.

But what I really want to talk about is his Italian cooking lessons in Toronto. Basically, if you want to learn how make really great tasting Italian food, you give him a call and book some lessons.

Which is funny because he charges less for his private cooking lessons than he does for his catering service. Just check out his prices.

Private cooking service catering is: Starting by $35/person + cost of food & wine.

Private Cooking Lesson: Starting at $25/person + cost of food & wine.

Full prices depends on menu, but basically he charges $10 less if he is teaching you instead of just serving and catering you.

So it is actually a pretty good deal if you want cooking lessons in Toronto and he teaches a variety of different recipes, not just Italian recipes.

Check out the recipes he has on his website.

Orata + Sea Bream

Lasagne + Eggplant and Tomatoes

And my favourite: Potato Pie


Friday, August 17, 2012

The Demon's Pawn

"The Demon's Pawn" is the newest story available from the good folks at Korovia.com...

To understand this book a bit you first need to understand what Korovia is.

It is a "free license fantasy world" where anyone, provided they follow the rules, can join in and publish their story within the setting of Korovia... Korovia itself is a pseudo-Slavic fantasy kingdom similar to Transylvania, but with dragons, elves, dwarves, minotaurs, gnomes, fairies, werewolves, good / evil wizards and demons... basically Tolkien-esque fantasy, but unlike the world of Middle-Earth (which is copy-written and trademarked) the world of Korovia is open to anyone.

That said... lets get back to "The Demon's Pawn".

Demons play a big role in the Korovia Timeline. In less than 8,000 years Korovia has had three demon wars (basically invasions from another dimension) and the demons won't give up because they have marked the kingdom of Korovia for conquest. The demons are always looking for some way to get into Korovia, conquer a city or two, and then start laying waste to the landscape.

Unfortunately the paladins / holy knights from the Holy City of Kost keep stopping the demons. They're not the only ones, but they play a major role.

Enter Katya Yerovik. An orphan girl raised by elves. A demon prince has taken a great interest in her development and somehow she is a chess piece in the demon's plan of conquering the Holy City of Kost...

Yada yada yada, I won't ruin the story for you.

But I will say WOW. This story has a huge web of overlapping bits and pieces and they all come together by the end of the book. It is an exceptionally well written story.

Unfortunately the story is currently only available on Amazon Kindle. But if you have a SmartPhone, iPhone, BlackBerry, etc then just download the free Kindle app and start reading. The story itself costs only $2.99. Less than the price of a coffee and it is superbly written.

10 Reasons why Goodlife Fitness SUCKS

The following review is based on Goodlife Fitness clubs in Toronto, Canada.

#1. They're basically no different than other fitness gyms like Extreme Fitness, etc.

#2. They don't list pricing on their website.

#3. When you call you end up getting a sales agent who is on commission.

#4. The sales agent will want to sell you a yearly contract and he only gets his commission if he gets your bank or credit card info.

#5. Once they have your banking or credit card info Goodlife Fitness with then auto-charge your bank account or credit card once, twice or even three times monthly.

#6. When you cancel your membership they will KEEP charging your bank account or credit card, even though you cancelled your membership in writing months ago.

#7. If you try to get your money back from Goodlife Fitness they will REFUSE to give it to you, claiming that you used the gym during those months they charged you for and claiming that your membership was still active.

#8. The only way to stop them from taking money from your bank or credit card is by closing your bank account or cancelling your credit card.

#9. Goodlife Fitness will then try phoning you, demanding more money or alternatively being really rude to you when you are trying to get your money back from them which they have essentially defrauded from you.

#10. Goodlife Fitness isn't alone in this fraudulent behaviour. Extreme Fitness and many other "big name" fitness gyms all use this tactic of ripping you off financially. (Many cellphone companies do the same thing.)

Sunday, August 12, 2012

How to make your own T-Shirt Company

Isn't technology awesome?

I mean seriously. It used to be if you wanted to make your own t-shirt company you basically just learned how to make screen prints, purchased lots of cheap blank shirts and then did all the work of screen printing onto the t-shirts yourself.

These days you can just get CafePress or a similar website to do it for you (and pay an arm and a leg for shipping), but that really cuts into your profit margin.

But what if you could just buy a machine that did all that for you? Now I admit Industrial Embroidery Equipment is pretty expensive. Out of the range of most people, but it can be done if you're willing to make the investment.

And a lot of the process can now be easily automated, so the onus on you is really to just set it up the way you like it, let the machine do the work and your job is really to get the sales.

Check out the amusing video below:


Now I admit that is an awesome video and the cartoon mouse sure makes it look easy.

But consider the prices. I browsed swfusa.com and the cheapest machine I could find was $7,500. (American dollars of course.)

The prices of the various machines weighed in between $7,500 to $55,000 USD. So yeah, if you have the money you could get a machine to do all the work for you.

So really you would just need to design the clothing, program the machine and then find buyers for your products, followed by shipping and accounting costs. (And buy the materials, of course. Thread, fabric, etc.)

I think the hardest part of all that would actually be "programming the machine" to do embroidery work on a t-shirt. That sounds super technical and I wonder just how easy the software allows you to do that.

Okay, so I admit that does sound like significant work, but it may all be worth it, especially if you're selling in bulk. But it beats having everything sewn in third world countries by sweatshop labour (*cough cough* slave labour *cough cough*).

Next lets pretend you are up to the challenge and have 10s of thousands of dollars to be spent on machinery. What will you actually design?

In theory you could do quite a few different designs. There are certainly lots of options out there. Worse comes to worst you could just browse Facebook for ideas for slogans, artwork, etc... just so long as nothing is copyrighted.

Speaking for myself I would have t-shirts made of all my artwork, use quotes from famous people (quotes are copyright free) and whenever the inspiration struck me make random limited runs of various things. And then sell it all on fashion blogs like Fashion Salon, etc.

However I am a very creative person. I create new things every day of my life. I would have to be in a coma to not be creating something physical (and even then I'd still be dreaming in a creative way).

Note to Self: If I ever end up in a coma I must remember to wake up and ask for a pint of stout. (Magnum PI fans will like that idea.)

So anywho, having your own t-shirt company (and the heavy machinery to do the actual work) isn't for everyone. You would have to be very creative in the first place. Preferably with some training in the fashion industry.

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