Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Fire Contractors and Renovations

Find Fire Contractors Who Can Restore Your Home

It is important for you to be able to find quality contractors after your home has been damaged by a fire. There are many fire restoration contractors to choose from. The right one will make sure that your home is quickly restored to its former condition before the fire.

Fire Causes
There are many different fire causes from cooking fires to electrical fires, but a good company will be able to restore your property from the inside out. Structural damage can be dangerous and make what's left of your property a threat. Quality contractors can come in and make sure that your property is restored and that there will be no falling beams or roofing materials that could hurt occupants. Before you go back into your home after a fire, you want to make sure that its structure has been looked at thoroughly.

Types of Damage
Although structural damage can be a serious concern, there are other types of damage that can occur to your property as well. Smoke and soot can cause your property to look dirty and be covered in a black dust that does not want to come off easily. The smell of a fire can linger in your home as well, so it is important for contractors to be able to clean, restore, deodorize, and sanitize your property. In many cases, water damage may occur from firefighters putting out the flames. A reliable company will be able to take care of all of your concerns so that your house looks as good as it did before the fire began.

You can feel good about hiring a company that has a good reputation and experience in this industry. There is no time to waste after a fire. You want to contact professionals right away so that your problems are taken care of and do not get worse. Water damage can spread and other problems like mold can start if the issues are not taken care of properly. The structure of your home must be looked at as fast as possible too. The right restoration contractor will be a good investments to make.


Friday, April 7, 2017

Free eBooks from BookBub

Since last August (Aug 4th 2016) I have been a member of BookBub, which sends me a daily email notification of ebooks that are either on sale or free. The ebooks in question are for sale on Kindle and Kobo, and are usually by authors I have never heard of.

Roughly 66% of the time the notification is about books that are on sale, but the other 33% of the time they are free.

So far I have "purchased" 35 fantasy ebooks this way. All free.

So for people who love reading ebooks you just sign up, choose a category (or categories) you want to be notified about, and then check the daily notifications to see if there is any books you like the looks of. I chose the fantasy category, but I wonder maybe if I should have chosen mystery or science fiction instead. Or all three.

So for now I have lots of books to read.

Which sounds great. It means that at some point in the future I will be able to read those books and test out whether I like those authors - and then post reviews of the books on here.

Eventually.

Whenever I get around to it.

When I am not reading books made out of actual paper that I spent $$ on.

Unfortunately I have not got around to reading any of those 35 ebooks. Mostly because I still have not finished reading "In The Shadow of the Gods" by Rachel Dunne, a paperback book I paid money for.

I purchased "In The Shadow of the Gods" on August 20th while I was on my honeymoon, freshly married and wanting something to read while en route to Montreal and on the way back to Montreal.

When traveling however you tend not to get as much reading done as you might hope. Thus I read half of the book so far and have on rare moments picked up the book and read a few pages or tried to finish a chapter.

Part of the problem might be the characters in the book.

Only one of the characters I actually like, the individual shown on the cover of the book.

The rest of the characters I find annoying. Whiny. Some of them are just plain villains and you are supposed to hate them.

However reading a book that is half about villains comes with an inherent problem. You end up hating half the book. I understand that writers these days like to sometimes tell the story from the perspective of the villains - I have done it myself sometimes - doing it so that half of the book focuses on villains gets rather annoying.

Think of it this way.
  • 25% of the book is focused on heroes.
  • 25% of the book is focused on characters I find annoying and whiny.
  • 50% of the book is focused on villains you are meant to hate.
So after it is all said and done, you end up disliking 75% of the book.

However I have to read all of it because what if I miss something that is important? So I don't have much choice, and ultimately I end up procrastinating about finishing the book. Here it is April and I am still trying to finish a book I started last August.

It isn't like George R. R. Martin's books either, in which he does the same thing. Each chapter in his "A Song of Ice and Fire" book series focuses on a single character in his grand narrative. If you are smart you can deliberately skip various chapters and end up enjoying the book a lot more - and not miss any important plot changes if you know which chapters to skip.

eg. If you skip many of the chapters about the Iron Islands and Dorne, they really don't matter compared to the larger plots. Those chapters are not particularly entertaining either. They are basically unimportant background story of what is happening in other parts of Westeros.

I also routinely skipped any paragraph during which Martin yaddled on about clothes or food or architecture.

eg. Sansa chapters have a tendency to have regular paragraphs devoted entirely to Martin yaddling on about food, clothes or architecture. Basically filler that makes you realize Martin is getting paid per word.

For "In The Shadow of the Gods" however I cannot skip whole chapters willy nilly however. I have to read the whole d*** thing. And I want to finish reading the book because of the one character who redeems the book.

And maybe the annoying characters will finally grow up, stop being whiny, and do something heroic. Or maybe die. I am okay with either of those options.

I am also annoyed that Rachel Dunne / her publisher decided to not include a map of the world in her book. It says in the corner it is a "Bound Gods Novel". Usually that means it is part of a series of books. Possibly a trilogy. Maybe more, a whole fantasy setting.

And fantasy settings usually have a map (sometimes several) at the front of the book.

Take for example the book "Blood Song" by Anthony Ryan. It is book #1 of the Raven's Shadow book series.

Tower Lord is book #2, and so forth. So right away you know this is a fantasy setting that Ryan plans to use a fair bit.

On the right is the map from "Blood  Song". It is not a terribly complicated fantasy map. It is admittedly a tad plain. But it is a map. So at least it has one.

"Blood Song", since we are on the topic, only focuses on the main character. None of this annoying the reader business with whiny characters or the back stories for villains.

After reading Blood Song, I went out and I purchased the second book Tower Lord. I then gave both books to my mother to read - and I don't give my mother books unless I am confident they are both good and she will like it.

I am not sure what I will do with "In The Shadow of the Gods" when I am finally done reading it. It is doubtful that I will be recommending it to anyone, let alone my mother. It is also unlikely that I will be purchasing any more books by Rachel Dunne.

...

Which brings me back to the topic of BookBub.

Maybe there is something to be said about getting free ebooks written by unknown authors. Both Rachel Dunne and Anthony Ryan were unknown authors when I first purchased their books. Paid money for them too. Mostly for the convenience of having a physical paper book to read.

But buying books by unknown authors is tricky. It is hit and miss whether the author is any good and whether I will like them.

Blood Song is a fantastic book. Very well written. It was addictive to read. Kudos to Anthony Ryan.

In the Shadow of the Gods has thus far has been disappointing and has only one redeeming character. Rachel Dunne should be admonished for bogging the story down with so many annoying characters that readers end up procrastinating about reading it.

In the future I will not be wasting money on unknown authors this way. I will take my chances with BookBub instead, read the ebook first and then once I know whether the author is any good I can go buy a physical paperbook copy.

This way I get the best of both worlds. Free ebooks to try out new authors. Physical paperback books of the authors I really like.

Makes sense, yes?

Yes, yes it does.

Montreal Combat Archery / Montreal Combats à l’Arc

Montreal has a variety of locations that provide "Archery Tag", combat archery, battle archery or whatever you want to call it. It is nothing new.

However after the success of Battle Sports in Toronto, should it be any surprise if the new Sports de Combat opening in Montreal destroys their competition within the first year or two? Battle Sports has been dominating the archery tag scene in Toronto for the last two years - quickly becoming the most popular of all the archery tag locations because of their better equipment, better value for dollar, and their willingness to also also teach archery lessons / use the space as an indoor archery range during non-peak time periods. (Many archery tag locations don't even bother to offer archery lessons or to use the space for anything other than archery tag.)

When a business expands to a new city it allows the company to do many new things that they didn't do the first time around.

#1. Lease a larger space.

Sports de Combat now has Montreal's Largest Indoor Archery Range. Bigger than any other indoor range in the city, including those spaces being used by the various archery clubs in Montreal.

#2. Take what they learned in Toronto, and make it better in Montreal right from the beginning.

They already knew from their experience in Toronto that better quality equipment was the best way to get an edge on the competition, so they did more of that - investing in archery equipment that even amateurs will realize is better than anything the competition is offering.

Better equipment, more stuff to do, more options. In addition to archery, Sports de Combat also offers Axe Throwing, Knife Throwing, Nerf Guns, a Riddle Room, and an European style "Rage Cage" for smashing things.

Battle Sports has adapted to the marketplace already, expanding, learning, improving upon what they learned. But that was a process during the last two years since they opened in 2015. They have made all those changes in Toronto already, so the second time around they can simply do those things right away.

#3. Analyze the existing market in Montreal and then improve upon whatever the competition is doing.

It isn't corporate spies or anything ridiculous like that, simply researching what the competition is doing and then providing a better service and a competitive price.

Having made themselves a huge financial success in Toronto, they can afford to offer a competitive rate knowing they have the money to expand.

#4. Price.

$24.99 for 90 minutes. Which includes 30 minutes of introductory archery instruction plus 60 minutes of archery combat.

Now to understand why that price matters you need to see what the other locations offering similar services are charging.

#1. Combat d'Archers offers $22 for combat archery, but it is 80 minutes total - with 20 minutes of introduction and 60 minutes of archery combat. So they are cheaper, but at the expense of 10 minutes of introductory archery lesson time. And they use shoddy and cheap equipment.

#2. DodgeBow offers $24.95 for combat archery, but it is for 60 minutes total - with 15 minutes of introduction and only 45 minutes of archery combat. So in terms of value, they are the most expensive with the least value.

Price alone tells you that Battle Sports / Sports de Combat did their research. They knew people would be willing to pay the extra 4 cents to get 15 more minutes of combat archery compared to rival DodgeBow.

And that an extra $2.99 is better to get that extra 10 minutes of archery instruction plus the added bonus of using better quality archery equipment than the junk Combat d'Archers is using.

Special Note about Franchise Contracts

To be fair Combat d'Archers doesn't have much choice. They signed an agreement with the franchise "Archery Tag®" and they have to use shoddy cheap official "Archery Tag®" equipment. They don't have a choice. Even if they later left "Archery Tag®" and got better equipment, they signed a non compete clause with Archery Tag which prevents them from offering the same or similar service.

And because of that franchise agreement it also means that Combat d'Archers cannot offer other things to do like knife throwing, axe throwing, etc. They are limited to offering archery tag and ping pong in the lobby waiting area. Ping pong. Seriously. Because it doesn't violate any clauses in the franchise contract.

This was the same problem Archery District in Toronto had. Shoddy equipment that breaks easily and they were locked into a franchise deal with "Archery Tag®". When people realized that Battle Sports was offering better value, better equipment, better prices and more things to do, they quickly switched to Battle Sports. It was a no brainer.

Which is why it is also a no brainer that Sports de Combat will attract large numbers in Montreal too. They are not locked into any franchise agreement, and they can simultaneously compete with axe throwing leagues, knife throwing and other fun things to do.

The Future?

What else could Battle Sports / Sports de Combat do in the future?

Paintball?
Axe Throwing Competitions?
Knife Throwing Competitions?
Nerf Swordfighting / Fencing?
Sumo Wrestling Bodysuits?
Hosting SCA (Society Creative Anachronism) Events?
Hosting Zombie Survivalist Events?
Toronto Vs Montreal Team Competitions? Maybe even televise the events on YouTube live?



Monday, April 3, 2017

Dashcam Discounts on Car Insurance

For awhile now I have been trying to convince my wife to get a Dashcam (aka Dashboard Camera) for her car that records her driving - and records what happens during an accident, likely proving that other drivers were at fault.

For car insurance purposes Dashcams provide the insurance company with a way to make the other person end up paying for the damages. (And consequently the other insurance company.)

For providing proof of who was at fault during a car accident, even if the owner of the dashcam is at fault, it justifies raising their insurance premiums - however statistically the people who buy dashcams tend to be rather safe and conscientious drivers. They know they are being watched by their own dashcam, and thus behave responsibly.

Thus it makes good sense to offer a discount to car drivers who use routinely use a dashcam. (At some point in the future, all cars might automatically come with a dashcam, just like they all come with seatbelts and other safety features.)

Also, Dashcams reduce the likelihood of people committing insurance fraud. So that is a bonus reason for insurance companies to provide a discount.

However not all companies provide a discount to owners of dashcams.
eg. TD Insurance does not provide insurance.

TD Insurance does provide a discount if the car owner has an approved after-market anti-theft system or an approved anti-theft etching system.
But nothing for Dashcams.

Which is disappointing because TD Insurance is my wife's source of car insurance.

So either I need to convince TD Insurance to provide a discount for Dashcams... or I need to convince my wife to switch to a car insurance company that does provide a discount and equitable insurance coverage.

There is another problem too.

So far very few companies in Canada do actually provide discounts to drivers who have a dashcam. A few do, but it isn't anywhere near an industry standard.

Which means consumers need to be doing a better job of ASKING for a discount.

And then saying "Oh, you don't provide a discount to people with dashcams? Oh. I guess I will find a different insurance company."

As it currently stands I am thinking of contacting TD Insurance to ask the following:

"Hello! I am trying to convince my wife to buy a dashcam. She is already a TD customer. Does TD Insurance provide a discount to drivers who have a dashcam?"

I already know the answer is no. But when they say no, I will say: "Oh. Okay. I will tell her to switch companies then. Goodbye!"

It is then implied that TD Insurance just lost a customer.

If enough people do what I am talking about, insurance companies will suddenly realize they should be providing a discount. It makes sense since it is in their own best interest to save costs. Even a small discount makes sense.

There are many Dashboard Cameras available on the market. I have not reviewed any yet, as I obviously still need to convince the wife that we should buy one in the first place.


Easter Gift Baskets

What Should I Look For In An Easter Gift Retailer?


As many people know, Easter is right around the corner. As such, many consumers are looking for ways to find the perfect Easter gifts for their loved ones. If this is the case for you, it's important to note that locating the ideal retailer is immensely important. To ensure that you can, be sure to look for all of the following traits in an Easter gift retailer before you make any purchases:

1. Industry Experience.

One attribute you should look for in an Easter gift retailer is industry experience. This trait is important because companies that have been successfully operating for several years are typically able to assist you quickly and correctly. There are several ways that you can determine how much industry experience a retailer has. One is by checking their website. You can also call the company and ask to speak to a customer service representative. These individuals should be able to answer this question and any others you may have regarding the Easter retailer's background and products. Ideally, you want to purchase your Easter gifts from a retailer that has been on the block for at least five years.

2. A Good Reputation.

In addition to seeking out an Easter retailer with extensive industry experience, make sure you look for a company that has an excellent reputation. Reputation is important because it functions as an indication of whether the company has provided clients with the ethical, exemplary services they need and deserve. There are several ways you can determine what type of reputation an Easter retailer has. One is by checking the online reviews that have been left about the company. If the majority of reviews left about the company are positive, this is a good indication that you'll attain excellent services and products from them. On the other hand, you should steer clear of any Easter retailer that regularly receives negative or neutral reviews.

In addition to reading the Easter retailer's online reviews, consider visiting the Better Business Bureau's website at www.bbb.org. The BBB is known for listing accurate, up to date information regarding how effective a company is in providing customers with high quality services. If the Easter company in question maintains a rating of A or higher, this is a good indication that they will offer you the excellent services and products you deserve!

3. Stellar Customer Service.

Another attribute you should seek out in an Easter retailer is stellar customer service. While product quality is important, it's equally important that you attain assistance from people who are friendly or knowledgeable. Note that excellent customer service can dramatically improve the quality of your day. You can typically determine whether an Easter retailer offers great customer service by reading their testimonials and speaking directly with at least two representatives from the company. If you find that the representatives are overly aggressive, brusque, or rude, seek your Easter products elsewhere.

4. A Satisfaction Guarantee.

Be sure to seek out an Easter retailer that offers customers a satisfaction guarantee. This approach is helpful because it ensures that you can attain a refund or exchange on Easter products you find lackluster, defective, etc.

5. Online Shopping Options.

Another attribute you should seek out in an Easter gift retailer is online shopping options. This trait is important because it will enable you to do all of your shopping from the comfort and privacy of your home. Companies such as Sweetbasket.com enable you to take this course of action, and they also provide you with the ability to send Easter gift baskets any where in Canada and US.

Don't Delay: Find The Right Retailer Today!

If you're getting ready for Easter and want to make sure that you purchase the perfect products for friends or family members, now is the time to find the right retailer. One way to be sure that you're making your purchases from a reputable company is by looking for the key attributes outlined above. When you find a retailer that conforms to all of the criteria discussed here, you've found a winner!

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