Sunday, January 27, 2013

Double thick custom fitted hoodie

I have decided to try and find a double thick custom fitted hoodie that I can wear doing all sorts of  activities. If you know a seamstress please have them contact me.

Why do I want this? Multiple reasons:

1. Super warm. Great for Fall, Winter or Spring.

2. Custom fitted and fairly tight so it is ideal for ice skating, archery, jogging, downhill skiing and other activities when it is cold outside and you want to have a full range of motion without feeling bulky.

3. Double thick because a normal hoodie is too drafty and...

4. Custom fitted because the tightness prevents drafts going up the back, front and side so its warmer that way too.

If I can find a seamstress I even know what fabric I would like to use, I saw it in a fabric shop on Queen Street West past Spadina (Downtown Toronto).

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Travel Insurance

 I must admit that travel insurance is one of the few types of insurance I agree with.

Health insurance, very good.

Accident / liability / theft insurance for your car, very good.

Life insurance... kind of pointless after you are dead. Really only useful if you have family to worry about and haven't already arranged your funeral.

But travel insurance is basically health insurance for when traveling in other countries. Its also supposed to cover financial default of travel suppliers (eg. if they suddenly declared bankruptcy and no longer honoured prepaid tickets), and other losses incurred while traveling. But most of the "other losses" are pretty vague and not used very often so its really just health insurance for tourists.

Standard travel insurance is supposed to cover:

  • Medical emergency (accident or sickness)
  • Emergency evacuation (volcano, earthquake, tsunami, hurricane, war-zone, etc)
  • Repatriation of remains
  • Return of a minor
  • Trip cancellation
  • Trip interruption
  • Accidental death, injury or disablement benefit
  • Overseas funeral expenses
  • Lost, stolen or damaged baggage, personal effects or travel documents
  • Delayed baggage (and emergency replacement of essential items)
  • Flight connection was missed due to airline schedule
  • Travel delays due to weather

Thanks to the internet (Huzzah!) you can now buy travel insurance online very easily. You can even buy travel insurance on your iPhone in roughly the same time it takes you do download an app.

So lets pretend you go to Mexico... and you get sick from drinking the water... or shot by kidnappers... or robbed by bandits... injured during a hurricane... fall in a sink hole and break your leg... Seriously, every year there is some problem with Canadian tourists stuck in Mexico and there has been some kind of catastrophe, murder, kidnapping or whatever.

I know Mexico is really cheap (and fascinating if you love pyramids like I do), but its really got a bad reputation to stuff happening. Having travel insurance when traveling to Mexico should be pretty much mandatory.

So yeah, if you are traveling to a dangerous part of the world like Mexico is, you really should get travel insurance. Mexico is like a jaguar... beautiful, but dangerous.

I remember when I was in South Korea (a country that is still technically at war with North Korea... and the North has nuclear missiles) I got travel insurance. Mostly to cover my health costs in case I ever needed a hospital.

One time I got sick and did need to see a doctor and get antibiotics.

Another time I was mountain climbing (freehand) and nearly fell. Thankfully I did not fall. But if I had fallen I would have either been:

1. Dead, in which case who really cares if I have travel insurance.

2. Very injured, in which case that insurance probably would have been used quite a bit.

That is really the point of travel insurance I guess. When traveling you are more likely to be doing new things - including mountain climbing, horseback riding, deep sea diving, swimming with sharks, dolphins, jellyfish, piranhas, and eating new foods that you could be allergic to. Or drinking water that might not be safe.

Thus travel insurance, even if not traveling to a dangerous part of the world, is still a wise precaution.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Grocery Shopping Challenge


Because I just did. Just got home from the grocery store, still amazed from my feat.

Included veggies, fruit, meat, pasta and even desserts. Only $20.05 and frankly the 5 cents is barely worth mentioning.

THREE BAGS! Averaging $6.68 per bag.

Probably would have been more value per dollar if I had actually paid attention to what I was doing.

Go and see if your shopping smarts are good enough to beat that and still come out with a good balance of different foods.

Sunday, January 20, 2013

A Good Day to Die Hard (Die Hard 5 Trailer)


The're coming out with a new Die Hard film on Valentines Day? Really? How come I didn't find out until now?

Jackie Chan's Romantic Comedy

The following film (available for free on YouTube) is a romantic comedy starring Jackie Chan and Shu Qi. It is also, sort of, an action film, as part of the plot pertains to a boxing / martial arts fight between Jackie Chan and the hired champion of his rival/friend.

The Chinese title is "Glass Bottles", based on the plot device of Shu Qi finding a glass bottle in Taiwan which prompts her to go to Hong Kong looking for love. The English title is horrible and has nothing to do with the plot.

For the guy and gal who can't decide between an action film and a chick flick, this film makes a great compromise.

The English dubbing on the YouTube version is above par.

Friday, January 18, 2013

Richard Nixon Comedy "Dick" Surprisingly Funny

"Dick" is a 1999 political comedy about the Watergate Scandal, telling a fictionalized version of how Richard Nixon was removed from office by the source known as "Deepthroat".

While it is true that the real Deepthroat was Mark Felt and this was later revealed in 2005, this rather amusing comedy about how two teenage girls took down the president and all the president's men is surprisingly funny and smartly written.

What I also like about this film is the soundtrack. It has a lot of great songs from the 1970s on it.

The cast includes:

Kirsten Dunst as Betsy Jobs
Michelle Williams as Arlene Lorenzo
Dan Hedaya as President Richard M. Nixon
Bruce McCulloch as Carl Bernstein
Will Ferrell as Bob Woodward
Saul Rubinek as Henry Kissinger
Dave Foley as Bob Haldeman

And best of all you can watch it for free on YouTube.

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Rogers Internet Outage

On January 9th 2013 Rogers Internet went down all across Ontario for over 5 hours.

No warning. No explanation why it happened after the fact. No refunds either to compensate people who lost productivity for their work or leisure.

The fact that Rogers Internet doesn't have any backup systems in place suggests to me that they're really running a shoestring budget operation - and overcharging customers for shoddy service.

There are OTHER companies available. Including faster companies. If you know of any in Ontario please leave a comment below about which internet providers you think are more worthy.

Shakespeare Baby!

Call it a personal preference but when it comes to live theatre I watch very little other than good ol' Shakespeare.

I have watched other things... Ie. Death of a Salesman is boring! Lysistrata is amazingly funny... But basically a lot of non-Shakespearean plays are annoyingly bad or boring.

Frankly I've enjoyed ballet events more. If given the option of watching Death of a Salesman or watching ballet... I would choose ballet everytime.

Same goes with musical plays like Les Miserables. I prefer the 1998 non-musical version because it has more story and less fluff. I haven't seen the new film of Les Miserables... But I have heard from friends that it sucks. Some people probably won't care however because they just LOVE Les Mis.

But maybe I should point out that I am an hypocrite. I am writing a musical theatre script... Whether it will be very good and get performed someday is questionable.

Three Books for Zen Archers

If you recently got into archery and want to go a step further to learn zen archery then I highly recommend the three books in the photo below.

Simon's Cat Review

"Simons' Cat" is a series of short (and relatively quiet) cartoons featuring a cat and his owner. The cat basically rules the house - just like a normal cat!

The beauty of this cartoon is that cat basically does everything a normal cat would do in similar circumstances. And then usually one thing more above the top to make it extra funny.

Five Stars! :)

Leather Moisturizers

A good leather moisturizer can help restore the beauty to dry, stiff leather products. It basically works the same as a skin moisturizer, and indeed, you can even use skin moisturizers to treat your leather products if you don't have any leather moisturizers handy.

Most leather products, if they have not somehow been chemically sealed during the manufacturing process, tend to become dry and brittle as they age and a way to fix that dryness is to apply a moisturizer. A moisturizer applied to the leather will slow down and prevent the leather from cracking or splitting - you will need to do this on a regular basis to prevent dryness, especially if your leather products are stored in a warm, dry place.

When leather is cleaned you should also use a moisturizer to protect the leather after the cleaning is done to protect it from water damage. Cleaning leather with just water and then leaving it to dry is a sure way of robbing your leather of its moisture and causing it to dry out and harden. (I had a baseball glove that that happened to when I was a kid because I left it out in the rain.)

Now you might wonder why did I bring up this subject?

Well truth be told I am currently restoring an old pair of hockey skates. I didn't have any leather moisturizers handy, so instead I used Aveeno Creamy Moisturizing Oil.

And it worked wonderfully! I am very pleased with the results (and it gave the old skates a nice pleasant smell too, which was good because it was in a basement for 20+ years).

Types of Moisturizers

Lotions and creams are offered by many different manufacturers of leather goods specifically for the products they make - mostly because selling moisturizers is very profitable because the chemicals themselves are very cheap.

Neat's Foot Oil and Saddle Soap are two such products. The soap is for cleaning leather and then the oil is a traditional way to keep leather soft and supple. After cleaning with the soap, the oil is applied and rubbed into the leather with a soft cloth. Many soaps also contain lanolin, which also acts as a moisturizer - but its not the only kind of moisturizer out there, there are many oils that make a good leather moisturizer.

How Do Moisturizers Work

Moisturizers work in exactly the same way oils or lotions work on dry or chapped skin. They fill in the pores of the leather with needed fluids to bring the leather back to a soft, pliable state. When the leather is cleaned, the soap or solution used can strip the moisture from the leather. This can cause the leather to dry and form cracks or become stiff with time. Like skin, age can cause moisture loss in leather, giving the hide a brittle, dull look. In this case, the moisturizer serves to restore the leather to its previous beauty.

For best results apply the moisturizer every team you use the item so it eventually becomes "as good as new". There may still be permanent cracks in it, but the rest of the item should be fine.

Applying the Moisturizer

Either apply a small amount of the moisturizer directly on the product and rub it around with a soft, clean cloth or saturate the cloth with the moisturizer and then rub it into the leather. When the leather has absorbed the oil, lotion or cream, the excess is then wiped away with a second clean, dry cloth. If the leather is extremely dry, it is often recommended that the moisturizer be allowed to stay on the hide overnight in order to absorb deeply into the leather.

Moisturize Regularly

Leather goods should be moisturized any time they are cleaned or otherwise show signs of dryness, but a routine cleaning and fresh moisturizer works best. By catching the problem early, a moisturizer will prevent the leather from cracking or dulling in appearance. Leather moisturizers can be found at most shoe or leather goods stores and are applied by the consumer. Most dry cleaners also offer leather moisturizing services for their customers.

If you can't get a leather moisturizer then skin moisturizers work equally well. Skin moisturizer will be more expensive because of the types of oils and lotions inside them, but I would argue they actually work better.

Things to Consider

Not all leather needs to be moisturized. For example suede doesn't need to be moisturized.

The consumer should ask the sales clerk if the manufacturer of the product recommends the use of a moisturizer, and for recommendations on how the product should be cleaned - and of course they will probably say yes because they want you to buy more things.

In general leather products such as shoes, boots, coats and purses, the consumer should be considered water and stain repellent - and if they aren't then you should be applying things to them to protect them. Stain repellent will help prevent staining of the leather, making cleaning and moisturizing less frequent.

What does it take to become a personal trainer?

By Greg Lewis of ELITE Trainers

You actually don't need anything to become a personal trainer.

But being certified really helps when it comes to proving you know what you are doing. If you have ever thought about becoming a personal trainer then I should let you know that it is a highly competitive field and that while some personal trainers train people privately and charge a fair bit per hour, most personal trainers work in gyms can get paid less than $20 per hour.

So right away I must warn you that you probably won't get rich by becoming a personal trainer. It really is more about the lifestyle. Most personal trainers are great one on one, but don't expect them to have any skill with memorizing lines or acting ability to get in front of a camera and have their own exercise TV show. (Not saying you can't attempt to do that, just saying that most people lack the necessary skills.)

For many years now my job has been to teach personal trainer certification workshops. I have done this for as part of several organizations, including the Aerobics and Fitness Association of America and the American College of Sports Medicine. I must have certified hundreds of people as personal trainers over the years, teaching classes from New York to Las Vegas, and I must have taught dozens of personal training workships both in the USA and Canada. I even traveled overseas in 2007 to Japan and South Korea to teach sport conditioning classes*, and the highlight of my trip was a class I taught to the Japanese Olympic soccer team.

*Sport conditioning classes are very similar to a personal training class, except that it was tailored more specifically to highly trained athletes looking to get an extra edge on the competition.

So lets “shine some light” on what skills it takes to be a personal trainer for those of you who might be interested in this exciting but not universally well paid profession.

#1. A key attribute of any good personal trainer is to have a good knowledge of how the body works.

For example, human anatomy teaches us without a doubt that leg raises are not done by the abdominal muscles; all you have to do is look at the muscles and bones and it is clear that the abdominals do not attach to the legs, therefore it is impossible for the abs to lift your legs. Hip flexor muscles do this motion. Once you know basic anatomy you can plan an efficient exercise program. Do leg raises for hip flexor work, not for ab strengthening. A good personal trainer knows how to prescribe an effective exercise program for specific goals.

#2. Another key attribute for a good personal trainer is to be a good communicator.

Having a lot of knowledge won't be very useful if you can't explain it to clients in an easy to understand way. A good personal trainer should be able to share this info effectively with others easily and in a friendly manner.

#3. Demonstrate your Knowledge via Writing.

To get certified as a personal trainer with a reputable organization, you will need to pass a test which verifies that you have a certain knowledge level in one or more of these areas: exercise physiology, human anatomy, kinesiology (study of how the body moves), nutrition, exercise program development and prescription, stress control and fitness testing.

Being able to pass the test is a big deal. Some certification companies (and they are definitely for-profit companies) basically just take your money and hand you your diploma. Ideally what you want is to get certified with a respected personal trainer organization that does a really good job of testing you. There are some out there who aren’t worth your time and money because their testing process and reputation is rather weak.

That is why I started my own company when I decided to move to Canada: ELITE Trainers. I checked out the competition here in Canada and noticed that Canadian companies like CanFitPro were basically overcharging people, providing workshops, but not really testing them properly because almost no one going through their testing process fails the test.

Thus with ELITE Trainers my goal was to make a test so difficult that people would fail it regularly - thus confirming that my company is only certifying the best of the best. To do this I crafted 100 essay questions for each test and set the passing grade at 86%. If you score an 85% or lower, you failed the test.

Furthermore I wanted to make certain that people recognized that some personal trainers have more experience than others. Thus I created a ranking system, whereby every new personal trainer I certify is granted a Rank of 1. And they have to complete a higher ranking and more difficult test in the same field to get a Rank of 2, and so forth, all the way up to 10.

Thus we cream away the best people worthy of being certified and people who lack the necessary skills are rejected. Yes, I admit, its a great money making scheme for me if people come back and try to retake the test, but at least I am honest about it.

I should add that a person’s life experience in the fitness field can add greatly to being a good personal trainer. Yes, you can take workshops and get certified by a variety of companies, but quite frankly, I know some people who don’t have a any formal certification or a college degree in a field such as exercise science, but they know a great deal through self education, and I would still highly recommend them if someone asked me whom to refer. For example one of the people I have certified in the past now runs a personal training company here in Toronto and while I realize he mostly sticks to sports instruction, I know for a fact that is highly skilled at helping people lose weight. Having his certification is really just a way for him to prove he knows what he is doing.

In the past many people have pointed out that personal trainer certifications is basically just a big money-making scam. Even personal trainers and myself will admit to this. However it does serve a purpose.

Having the certification process in place protects the fitness industry from having too many trainers out there that don’t know their biceps from their buttocks!

Many companies out there operate three to five day workshop that you will need to attend. Study materials will be sent to you hopefully before the workshop or provided at the workshop. Most organizations will require both a written exam and a practical exam, with a passing rate of 60 percent or higher. Some places are lower and basically don't even grade you. A few reputable companies similar to ELITE expects a final grade of 80% or higher. The exact amount differs among certifying agencies, but the practical exam will consist of individuals actually demonstrating exercises, administering fitness tests, and answering questions orally. Sometimes this aspect of certification creates some stage fright, as you have to “think on your feet”.

Prices vary for these workshops, but you will pay around $400 to $600 for the three to five days of classes. But that is an investment that can easily be recouped in a short time once you are out there training your clients. (Assuming you get clients - Some people get their certification and then have trouble attracting their first clients.)

If you are thinking about becoming a personal trainer, there are many aspects to consider. Talk to people who are already working as personal trainers, study websites pertaining to personal training, and of course, consider getting your certification from ELITE if you think you have the skills to pass a really difficult test. Personal training is an exciting profession, can pay well if you manage to find a niche market, and can be very rewarding because you are helping others to lose weight, gain muscle and live healthier lives.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

McDonald's Oatmeal = WRONG

When McDonald's released their salads, with just as much fat as a Big Mac, you might have thought it couldn't get any worse.
Well it has.
Apparently McDonald's can't even make Oatmeal without somehow filling it with extra sugar and fat.
McDonald's is always looking to cash-in on a new breakfast dish, and cooked oatmeal, made with dried fruit sounds like a good idea right? Well it's not!

The 11 ingredients, (some of which you may not recognize because they're man-made chemicals) in this surprisingly expensive breakfast includes cream, brown sugar, sweetened dried fruit and has as much calories as a McDonald's hamburger.

The marketing gurus at McDonald's claim that their menus are customizable. There is apparently the option to ask for no brown sugar, or non-sweetened dried fruit. It's as though they want to be able to say they have healthy options, even though they really don't expect anyone will ever buy it with the hundreds of other food options available, never mind modify it to suit health concerns.

Begging the question, if you go into McDonald's and ask for the oatmeal - and then ask for the no brown sugar and non-sweetened dried fruit - will they even have it in stock???

Many people will see oatmeal on the menu and automatically assume that they are making the right choice because normally oatmeal is healthy. But instead it's like those instant oatmeal packets with flavours such as apple and brown sugar, or peaches and cream. What you are essentially ordering is preservative filled sugar packets.

And then there is the price of the McDonald's oatmeal, combined with the sugar and fat content, the convenience simply isn't worth it. Oatmeal can be prepared while you're unloading the dishwasher, and saved and reheated at work, so if it only takes 1 minute to make it at home why would you bother to pay McDonald's to make it for you?

The end result is that if you're eating at a fast food joint and McDonald's is trying to add the appearance of being healthy when in reality they're just tricking you into more sugar filled treats.

Saturday, January 12, 2013

Toronto Spas Suck

From a male perspective, spas suck in general.

How I came to this conclusion was I bored one day and thought hey, why don't I go to a spa?

Not for a manicure or a pedicure... or a body scrub or a facial. Just go there and relax, swim in the hot spa baths.

After all, that is where the word "spa" comes from. The baths. They're really more like small pools, but with nice hot water and a relaxing atmosphere.

But the baths isn't how spas make their money. Its their cosmetics services like facials/etc that they make lots of money off of. And they also have food, juice bars, massage, and if you want you can basically get any kind of food scrubbed on your body - including chocolate - supposedly for its therapeutic benefits.

Except most of that junk - with the exception of the massages - most manly men have zero interest in. We are not going to pay $60 for someone else to trim our toenails and scrub our feet.

The photos above and below are from one of the best spas you can find in Toronto, the Elmwood Spa, but their list of services don't really appeal to men very much. At most I could see myself going there to lounge around in the spa, soaking in the heat and then get a massage. I don't think I would even try the food because frankly the food they serve at these places are both overpriced and what Vernon Dursley would correctly describe as "bird food".

I've had better meals at the Hare Krishna temple and that is Vegan food. But at least its hearty food and made with love, as opposed to the overpriced garbage you'd get at a spa.

Plus here is another draw back. You can't just randomly decide to go to a spa one day... Because they're booked up days or even weeks in advance. That to me is a huge draw back.

Really what I need is something akin to a Japanese style bath house or Japanese hot springs. But in Toronto, of course. So in theory what would be nice is if someone built and opened up an artificial hot springs, made with stone and designed to look completely natural, decorate it with Japanese flora, the interior architecture is all authentic (but not overdone), all in the effort to capture the feeling of going to a real hot springs in Japan.

But since nobody has done that, I shall try for a bath house instead... So I google Japanese bath house Toronto... and there isn't any. Instead it shows results for spas in Yorkville - which are not Japanese and the same thing I am trying to get away from because they are so gawdawful.

Conclusions? Toronto Spas Suck Donkey Balls. Zero Stars out of Five.

They're basically catering to one segment of society - wealthy yuppie women who apparently too lazy to scrub their own feet and trim their own toenails. There is basically nothing out there for a man who wants to go to a spa / bath house and relax.

I will admit they do look pretty - and they should. But they're a huge waste of time and space since they only serve a tiny portion of society who apparently are just really lazy.

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

The 17 Day Diet - Book Review

The following is a book review for the book "The 17 Day Diet" by Dr Mike Moreno.

I am going to do this review in point form... hope you don't mind.

#1. This is a weight loss book, and yes, if you follow its complex 17-day instructions to the letter you will lose weight.

#2. Most people don't follow instructions. The more complex the instructions the less likely they are to actually follow the instructions.

#3. The book does have lots of helpful nutritional and exercise advice, but its the sort of thing you could find for free on a website like Cardio Trek, a free nutritional / exercise website run by a personal trainer in Toronto. So while the advice is good, its nothing special.

#4. The book also has BMI charts. Again, something you can find for free online.

#5. The recipes in the book are okay, although some of them contain weird ingredients that most people wouldn't purchase. Again, you can find that online for free.

#6. The 17 Day Diet isn't really "17 days". It is actually a 17 day cycle which is meant to repeated again and again... forever. So the title is really false advertising.

#7. At the back of the book there is more information on dining out, holiday eating and substitutions for "bad" foods. Again, very helpful and thorough information - but also available for free online.

#8. The 17-Day Diet works on a 17 day phasing cycle and the first cycle is the most restrictive for accelerated weight loss. Then each subsequent cycle introduces new food into the meal plan. If you have not reached your goal at the end of all the cycles, you start again.Yes it is not realistic to be on a diet for 17 days and expect serious results anyway, but I really don't like books that are wishy washy and promise instant results and then fall back on things that you can find for free online in the first place.

#9. The diet isn't exactly revolutionary. The Core Balance Diet and South Beach Diet have a very similar concept in that the first portion is low carb, high protein and vegetables with carbohydrates gradually re-introduced. Same concept, old news.

#10. The meals don't easily work for a Vegetarian or Vegan diet, even though the book claims otherwise. It was obviously written by an omnivore who is clueless about veggie diets. Many of the lunches and dinners are chicken and vegetables. Plain tofu (or high protein alternative) without seasoning and preparation instructions just wouldn't cut it for a Vegan. Using beans as a substitute also wouldn't work due to the high carb content. It would defeat the intention of the initial phases of the cycle.

#11. The diet claims that you will not be hungry. However most people couldn't follow this diet because either their activity levels are too high for the meal plan - or they would find the diet too restrictive. If you start this diet with very little energy output levels, you could remain satiated in between meals. But if you exercise regularly (like the book recommends) then you will definitely end up feeling hungry between meals.
#12. He is trying to push his own brand diet - to make a name for himself. He wrote this book so he could become famous, but while, yes, you would lose weight if you followed this diet, I guarantee if you are living an active lifestyle that you would be feeling starved and miserable by day 17.
#13. Many people need a diet which feels like they are achieving a nutrition goal. Just find a healthy and balanced regimen with small portions that works for you and you will be happy. Fad diets and crappy books like "The 17 Day Diet" will only result in wasted money and yo-yo dieting.


Thursday, January 3, 2013

Crank Flash Light from SunForce

Broke the very first time I used it. Complete piece of junk.

I got it as a gift for xmas.

I have been wanting to write an angry letter to SunForce complaining about the quality of their flash light but haven't got around to it yet.

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