Sunday, September 30, 2012

The Shopping Cart

Every time I go to the supermarket I have to deal with the whole cart issue.  Some stores want you to deposit money for the cart, thereby ensuring that you'll bring it back.  It makes sense.  I used to live near a store where more than a few people took the carts home, or at least to the  bust stop.  It certainly cost the store money to go out and round up these carts (imagine the advertisement for this job in the paper--wanted:  shopping cart wrangler)  They tried using a deposit system for their carts but all they got were a bunch of busted locks, and then they had to hire someone with a pickup truck to go out and wrangle all those carts.

So, I can see the financial expediency of having a deposit system.  It might make me feel like a criminal, but the carts get returned.  It might make me opt for a small carry basket (in which case I buy less because the teeny weenie basket gets full and heavy quickly) but the carts get returned.

The biggest problem that I usually encounter is that I don't have the specific coin they are looking for when I enter the supermarket.  Sometimes they want a quarter, sometimes they want a loonie (that's a one dollar coin for those of you not familiar with Canadian currency).  I have yet to come across one that requires a twoonie, (if you understand loonie, you should be able to figure out twoonie), but I am sure that day is coming.  They say you can easily get change from cashier, but when the store is busy, or everyone is using credit or debit cards.... you just might need more patience than you have.

Sometimes I am forced to use my lucky quarter (I can't really explain why it's lucky, it just is) and then I can't simply pass the cart off to a person racing up to me with another (and probably unlucky) quarter in their outstretched hand.  They give me dirty looks, but there's nothing I can do about it.

One store I went to had an ingenious system.  They put up a notice that if the carts were removed from the store area they would cease to function.  Psychologically this worked great.  What's more, this wasn't just a cool ploy, it was the truth.  One of my friends felt pretty foolish when suddenly their cart stopped moving and would go no further.  This system is probably quite expensive, but I would certainly prefer it.  My hope is that in the future, shopping carts will navigate their own way back to the store and into the line of shopping carts.  That will be perfect...until they rise up against us.

Friday, September 28, 2012

The Friday Phenomenon

It's Friday.  The weekend is here.  Everything is good.  Just one question.  Why....why does the price of gas suddenly climb on a Friday morning?  To  be clear, the gas price suddenly rose Thursday shortly after midnight.  How shortly?  When it goes up it is probably milliseconds after midnight, but when it goes down, they probably spend a few minutes making sure that a price decrease is really called for.  Of course, this decrease is never on a Thursday night.

I guess I should relax, and not let this gouging rile me up.  I get a free couple of days off, and the oil companies get my money.  Some might see that as an equitable trade.  Some might say that happiness needs to be tempered by some cold hard realism.  If anyone out there really believes any of that..... you might be reading the wrong blog.

I think the price of gas went up by four cents a litre.  For my car, that works out to about $1.60.  I guess that explains the real lack of righteous indignation.  In addition, some of my students told me about the price of gas in their countries.  Amazingly, some people are paying $2.50 a litre and others are paying $0.16 a litre.  Getting this information the way I did, created in me a sense of relief and a wall of tears at the same time.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Changing Cable Packages

If you needed proof that I have given up....look no further.  Today, I changed my cable channels.  I opted to reduce my sports channels in favour of movies.  Even if they do play hockey this year, I won't be watching it on TV.  Actually, I could still watch Hockey Night in Canada (but that's an institution) but there is no guarantee that I would.

Last time there was a lockout we were treated to one year of poker, followed by several years of poker.  As it turns out, it was pretty good to watch.  It's popularity is still quite strong, and I am sure there will be more poker on TV during this lockout.

I generally like it, but I don't love it.  The problem is that they tend to over show some TV poker moments.  I think I have see the one with Daniel Negreanu vs. the loose cannon in pink shirt more than 15 times.  That is probably 13 more times than I needed to see it.

Maybe this time they will find a new sport to showcase.  I suggest Australian Rules Football, or Hurling, or at the very least, bring back the Red Bull Air Race.

As for me, I will do my best to catch up on the movies I have missed.  I'll let you know how it works out.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

The Fall TV Season

I think I missed something.  Usually, around this time, I am either getting worked up or rolling my eyes at the new fall TV show ads.  Up to this point, I think I've seen two.  What happened?

Usually I'm inundated with laugh track filled commercials telling me what shows are the funniest new show of the season, or the next Friends.  Usually, I'm waist deep in promos for the next crop of reality shows that depict a somewhat specialized view of the not so real world.  Usually the stars are on parade on every talk show on the planet hyping the fall line-up.

What happened?

Did Hollywood run out of ideas?  That happened years ago, and it hasn't stopped them.

Maybe I have just been spending too much time blogging to notice.

Monday, September 24, 2012

A Ban on Trampolines? Really?

I was eating my breakfast, wondering why it was so cold when the radio news announced that paediatricians were calling for a ban on all young children playing on trampolines.  I can't say as I took this news well.

Don't get me wrong,  I know trampolines are dangerous.  I have seen literally hundreds of scenes on America's Funniest Home Videos that showed people bouncing right off the trampolines into the ground, the side of their house, a doghouse, a tree and many other hard objects.  Granted most of these people were older, most likely drunk, show-offs who obviously got what was coming to them.  Granted, also, that I laughed most of the times I watched them, and only cringed once or twice.

Rosie MacLennan
So, okay, trampolines are dangerous.  I certainly don't want anyone to get hurt, or killed--though I suspect the aforementioned drunk show-offs will just find another way to get themselves on TV.  I guess I just see a few more consequences to banning these things than preservation of weaker strains in our gene pool.

What would Rosie MacLennan think.  She won Canada's only gold medal in the London Olympics.  It is likely that she has used a backyard trampoline a time or two in her life.  Add to that, to reach Olympic calibre you have to start young.  Maybe this is the international community's way of making sure Canada gets no gold medals at the next Olympics.

lethal fun toy of my youth
Do we need more regulations in our lives?   Is a ban necessary?  Wouldn't better parent supervision accomplish much of the same thing?  We lost lawn darts because they were deemed too dangerous.  Part of the fun of that game was its lethal nature.  I am sure there were plenty of lawn dart accidents, but I am sure either alcohol or lack of supervision was a contributing factor.

pathetic safe toy of today
When you get right down to it, a lot of stuff can cause harm.  You could take a horseshoe in the head.  You could get a serious burn from a hula hoop.  You could go careening off the wet banana into a bunch of hard, scratchy stuff (again, I have seen this on AFV).  Once my mother warned that we could take out an eye--and we were playing with a beach ball.   Let's face it, the world is a dangerous place, with or without trampolines.

Saturday, September 22, 2012

And Lest I Forget

Shortly after posting this blog (the next day, but the first time I had actually gone outside) I witnessed many more examples of this behaviour,  I also witnessed the other directional phenomenon.  I watched numerous cars that seemed incapable of making a right turn.  Since, in Canada, we are allowed to make right hand turns on a red light (after stopping and making sure the way is clear) I would have thought people could maintain their lanes in this simple activity.

Alas, I was wrong

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Making a Left Turn

Why can't the majority of people make a good left turn?

nearest lane, nearest lane!

Everyday, I see people turning left and not entering the nearest lane.  They go careening across two (sometimes three) lanes.  Granted it has been a long time since I took driver's education, but I am pretty sure that isn't what you're supposed to do. 

What could be behind this?  Is it a comfort issue?  Wide turns probably are more comfortable than tight turns.  Is they were driving a bus or a big rig, I probably wouldn't be raising a stink, but when you're driving a smart car....

Sometimes the place they want to get to is a right turn immediately after the intersection.  In that case, I really can't blame them, I have to save my abuse for city planners.  Any car wrecks. are on them.

look there's another one
I am not really sure why I find it so frustrating.  Maybe it's because I have almost been wiped out by cars missing their lanes.  After a turn you don't expect someone to try and pass you on the right, especially after you signalled.  (In this case checking your blind spot is really important).   Maybe it is because traffic would move so much faster if I could make my right turn onto the road instead of waiting while the person misses their lane so that I don't get cut off or sideswiped.

In the future I am sure that we will be able to call every car by typing in their license plate numbers.  We probably won't get to talk to the driver, but the car will probably be listening.


Tuesday, September 18, 2012

The Curious Case of the Elevator Button

the elevator has been summoned

I came upon a rather typical scene the other day.  I walked up to the elevator, pressed the elevator call button and took my place leaning against the wall, waiting for the incredibly slow elevator to make its way to my floor.

Another person, a short time after me, walked up and pressed the same elevator call button.  This was followed by a third and a fourth.  They all pressed the button, despite seeing the line up of people and the amber light glowing in the centre of the button.

This is not a new situation.  I have been involved in this situation many times, and I have taken many roles.  I have been the "I already pressed it" guy, utilizing a variety of character traits that ranged from sincere concern to incredibly sarcastic. My favourite was the nonchalant "pressed it".  The few times that I got  a response, the person usually just said, "I know."  Some smiled, some nodded, some feigned ignorance... heck one guy even high fived me--okay, I made that last one up.

I have also come upon the scene later and witnessed the exact same conversation (if you could call it that) with the same high quality responses.  I've witnessed the same ponderous, or incredulous faces.  I've watched countless eye rolls.  I even have to admit that I have been one of the guys who has pushed the already lit up button.

safe to press
So what is it about the elevator call button that makes us push it, even though we can clearly see it lit up.  Is it a psychological need for control.  I can't believe anyone thinks the elevator car is going to come that much faster if we press the button again.  Is it just that the little amber light doesn't register in our minds until after we have pressed it.  I have thought long and hard about this and am left to conclude that we should file that away with the secret of how Cadbury gets the caramel in the Caramilk bar.

The only real world connection to this seems to be the walk button when you want to cross the street.  I don't see people lining up one after another to press it, but I have seen (and taken part in) an almost ritualistic act of pushing the buttons multiple times, perhaps believing that, in fact, the light will change that much sooner.


Monday, September 17, 2012

Optimism? Really? Really!?

Another day on hockey?  I didn't really mean to do it.  I had planned on attacking some other group of hapless  do nothings, but I was forced into this position.  And besides, it isn't the NHL that I am going after today.  It's the media.

I opened up the paper and was greeted with the words that there was optimism amongst everyone involved that this lockout could be solved quickly.


Who are these people with optimism?  It couldn't be with the two sides that aren't talking to each other.  It couldn't be with the media people who were busy high fiving themselves due to their success (ahem) in predicting the lockout.  It couldn't be with the fans, because their emotions are more closely akin to disgust and rage.

I then wondered if this was a cheap ploy to sell more newspapers.  Ridiculous, in fact, because I was reading this in the free commuting newspaper.  I suppose it might help sell advertising, but my anger over the whole mess doesn't really put me in a shopping mood (and that will include any future purchases of hockey paraphernalia when the sport resumes--I have a long memory and I won't forget this time)

So who's optimistic?
at least someone is happy

Players who are Europe bound might be optimistic about a diet of Swiss chocolate, or fine German beer.... but optimism for this mess?  I think not.

I could forgive the media (but I won't) for putting us through this, but I am sure that when they finally get to report on the thing being done for real they will try too hard to make themselves look like geniuses.

Sunday, September 16, 2012

No Sympathy

The NHL locked out the players this week.  Big surprise.  We all saw it coming, we all knew it was inevitable.  Like the hockey fans we are (or maybe now were) we tried to pretend that it wouldn't happen.  We tried to pretend that much like our beloved teams, they could stage a late rally and win it all.


My thoughts on this are many.  I sympathize more with the players than the owners.  While the players make more money in one season than I will likely make in a lifetime of work doesn't bother me as much as I think it should.  There are lots of overpaid people (Gary Bettman for one) in all industries, not just pro sports.  If only we could lock out some political leaders or senators.

Hockey players want to play the game of hockey.  They've been doing it all their lives. and now that simple thing is denied them (along with their large salary)  Some will go play in Russia or parts of Europe.  Hopefully some of those games will be broadcast on TV for me to watch.

Watching the owners of well to do teams sign players to long term deals on the eve of the lockout seems to me to be dealing in bad faith.  You know that the players are eventually going to have to take some kind of rollback, so if that was calculated in the contract....that seems a little dishonest, or at least a little nudge nudge, wink wink, say no more kind of way.  I can't really stomach them claiming that they have no money when they sign these contracts.  The hypocrisy is mind-bending.  Maybe they need to learn a little thing called restraint.

It is like watching an obese person claiming they want to lose weight while overeating.  Yes, there might be psychological problems that cause this behaviour--the desire to win is a strong one, but in this analogy the players are the super extra large pizzas.  Neither the food, nor the players are to blame.  Bettman's idea is to lock the fridge, but that won't change the behaviour.  It didn't work last time, why would it work this time.  You're going to unlock the fridge eventually.

Some teams are too poor, or play in markets where they don't draw a crowd.  There are only three choices.  Fold, relocate, or get the richer clubs to share their revenue.  Bettman doesn't like the first two because he keeps hoping that hockey will get the same ESPN deal that the NFL got.  As far as pipe dreams go, that is a pretty good one.  As for sharing revenue.... the rich owners certainly don't want that.  However, it can be don.  If they paid a 100% luxury tax for exceeding the cap, the money that they overspent could be sent to teams that qualify for financial support.

I would love to hear what everyone thinks.  As you know, since there won't be any hockey on television, I have plenty of time to talk about it.

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Technology is pretty amazing.  These days we can carry around thousands of songs on a variety of devices.  Laptops, tablets, smart phones and mp3 players have changed the way we listen to music.  We have come a long way.

Too bad we have also slipped a long way as well.  What I mean is, we have great technology being utilized by selfish and stupid people.  Everyday on my bus I am subjected to other people's musical choices for several reasons that I cannot comprehend.  These might include:

  1. People buying headphones that are uncomfortable, but are considered cool by their friends.
  2. People forgot their headphones, so figure using their cell phone speaker a suitable substitute.
  3. People want to share their musical choices with everyone on the bus.
  4. Sometimes they play the music so loud that it can be heard by everyone, despite the fact that the person is actually using headphones.

All I can say is that none of these reasons are good,.

  1. If you bought headphones, use them.  They are supposed to allow you to hear your music when the outside world is too noisy.  Not the other way around,.
  2. Your cell phone speaker is too small and tinny to make your music sound good.  Even if your music is good, it won't sound good when it comes over those crappy tiny speakers. 
  3. If you truly want to share you music, play it through good speakers so it can truly be appreciated.
  4. I was young once.  I didn't care about my hearing once.  Now that I am over 40, I feel sad that I now need a hearing aid.  That's just the way it goes.

Do I blame these people?  Not really.  The basic facts are that they live in a world where selfishness is expected.  They live in a world where you should only really think about yourself.  They live in a world where thinking about other people seems like a waste of time.  Of course they live in a world where their parents didn't really scold them well enough.  I can't be like Russell Peters and advocate hitting your children.... but sometimes I wonder .