Saturday, July 28, 2012

Shaving doesn't have to cost a fortune - The 2 buck solution

Guys, if you shave then you've been there.  You head to the drug store or supermarket because you're out of blades for that incredibly fancy razor, you know the looks like a piece of equipment that came off the space shuttle.  A cartridge of four or five blades runs somewhere around $20 if not more, all just to scrape the hair off your face.

Maybe you decide the blades are too expensive, so you buy an even newer and even fancier razor, one that runs on batteries. What the hell, the newer model is on sale because they're promoting it and you can get the razor and 2 blades for maybe $10, thus saving yourself a whopping ten bucks.

Well it doesn't have to be this way.  How does one or two bucks sound?

Here it is, courtesy of discount retailer Dollarama:

Now, I'm all for supporting the local economy and all that, but sometimes enough is enough.  All those advertising campaigns about how much innovation and research went into the newest razor, how it will give you the closest shave ever.  Yeah...even closer than last year's model that was supposed to be the ultimate in razor technology.  I bet they spend more money developing and marketing new razors than the some countries spend on food.  

Razor technology?!?!  Its a piece of plastic that has metal blades in it to scrape unwanted hair off your face, that's it.  Guys, its shaving not cancer treatment, shaving doesn't have to cost and arm and a leg.

And thanks to these razors which I've been using for almost a year now, it doesn't.  Now, the blades don't last as long as the name brands, about a week.   But I'm getting five blades for less than two bucks so I don't care.  

I will concede that the incredibly fancy razors with fifteen blades and razor handles that look like a precision surgical device...they do a little better job.  Sometimes I need to go over an area a second time, big deal.  I'll take the extra minute and keep the $$$ in my wallet.

By the way, if anyone is looking for an old razor handle, I've got them all...the single blade, the double, the triple, and yes even the new 5 blade handle.  I'll trade anyone my old razors for a pack of cheap and effective Dollarama bargains.  

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Looking for a job in Québec - Use every tool available and stay positive

One of the great things about publishing a blog is that you get to share personal experience about some of life's stressing moments, and perhaps give some perspective to those who might be going through similar challenges.

Living in Quebec and being exposed to the media here I've noticed that there have been a lot of business and industry lay offs and outright shut downs, leaving many people out of work.  Post Media, owners of the Montreal Gazette have recently announced job cuts.  Then there's White Birch Paper Co, Rio Tinto Alcan, home appliance maker Mabe, Electrolux, Reebok...there are plenty of stories out there.

According to Montreal's Board of Trade, unemployment is running higher than the national average, with Canada's rate hovering just over 7% compared to rates of 9.2 and 8.1 for Montreal and Quebec respectively.

Of course you can flip those numbers around and say the employment rate is over 90% in Montreal and Quebec.  And in my experience, during times of unemployment, its important to maintain a positive outlook...very important.

It doesn't matter if you're looking for Montreal jobs or employment anywhere in Canada, there are things you can do to help create that positive outlook you'll need to attract employers.  And one of the first things you can do is to be active.

Let people know you're involved in a job search, register on the sites of employment agencies, take part-time or volunteer positions to add to your experience.  My father is one of the smartest people I know, and fortunately for him and my family when we were young, he didn't have much experience in looking for a job.  But there was a stretch of almost one full year when he was out of work.  When I had a period of unemployment he told me, "looking for a job is a job".  

And from my perspective, I'm going to borrow a line from my experience in stage acting and modify it to real life.  In the theatre it is said:  There are no small roles, only small actors.  Well, in this economy, there are no small jobs, only small people.  

Pride as they say 'cometh before a fall'.

I'll relate an anecdote from my own life experience.  Back in the nineties I took a job at a call centre, a job that was offered through an employment agency.  I worked my way up and was eventually managing programs both inbound and outbound.  One such program was a direct response advertising campaign where telemarketers answered calls generated from a television ad.

A gentleman I'll call Bob was one of the people who was hired for that program.  Bob was in his forties and had been working in finance as a bookkeeper.  Some might suggest Bob took a job that was beneath him, the thought crossed my mind.  He was working a part time job that involved working mostly evenings and weekends, not an ideal schedule for a married guy with kids.  But Bob was always positive and saw the glass half full.

After the direct ad program ended he was able to get hours here and there working on other programs until eventually an internal job posting went up for two positions in the accounting department.  Bob was hired and last I heard was doing very well, working in his chosen field.

If you're in Quebec and lack facility in the French language there are government programs available to improve your fluency, like Francisation.  Quebec is a wonderful place to live, Montreal is an incredible city.  Job loss doesn't mean you have to move to Toronto or Calgary necessarily, even though some are of the opinion that recent changes to federal employment programs might have that in mind.  

Get busy, get working, and above all...keep a positive mind set.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Summertime in Québec City - Encroyable!!!

Bonjour everybody.

I am having an absolutely magnificent summer residing in Québec's capital city.  No I haven't taken a position with the local tourist board here, however it will probably seem like it.  My kids stayed with me for ten days during my vacation, then after returning to work my father came and spent a week.  

It was a very busy, but worth every minute.  I just wish there was more time.  

I'd been to Québec many times before, but this is the first time I've actually lived here, and there's a lot more to do and see than many have probably realized.  I'm sure most visitors to Québec go and take in the old city, behind the walls.  

Here's a picture taken from the Citadel of the Chateau Frontenac, they're replacing the copper roof.

But that's just the beginning.  For those that are into a bit of thrill seeking and adventure there's going tree to tree north of city, or if you prefer 'arbre en arbre'.  Zip lining, rope bridges and Tarzan ropes take you over miles of forest up around the Laurentian mountains, with some spectacular views.  The journey ends with very sore arms and a zip line covering 1,000 feet.

If you're a baseball fan needing a fix, Québec's Capitales have you covered.  They play in the independent Can-Am league, which is mostly populated with has beens and never weres.  Its good baseball that's probably at about the AA professional level, maybe even AAA.  

And the atmosphere is electric.  If you've gone to a Jays' game at the Sky-Dome (yeah I know that isn't the name but I don't care) and thought you accidentally wandered into the library, then you're in for a shock.  The fans are loud and they're having fun, with lots of English.  Whenever the fans aren't happy with a call the stands resound with a cry of, "Come On Ref"!!!  I was thinking of correcting some leather lunged patrons near me, but I figured they didn't care...ump, ref, c'est toujours la meme chose.

The ball yard is classic, probably seating around 5,000 I would guess, with bullpens down the right and left field lines and a terrace or patio area in the left field corner.

I can go on and on and on and on.  I'll let the pictures do the talking now though.  Here's some shots of Mount Morency falls just east of the downtown, another smaller water fall on the Wendat Mohawk reserve, and then the water park at Valcartier Vacation Village.

There's still lots of summer left, so if you're trying to think of where to spend a week or just a few days, give Québec some thought.  

And don't worry if you don't speak French, there are lots of bilingual people here, especially in tourist places.  Better still, dust off your old high school French and give it a shot, it might not be perfect or even close, but Québecers really appreciate the effort.

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Higgs Boson - Looking at God, and in the mirror

I want to start this off by stating categorically that I am not a scientist, in fact I consider myself as having anything but a scientific mind.  As such what I am about to write is pure and unadulterated fiction...uhm, let's make that Fiction with the F capitalized.

I did not excel in the maths and sciences during my academic career, in fact I failed math twice in high school.  So why do I feel compelled to write about the discovery of the Higgs Boson or so called 'God Particle'?  Simple, I believe that this discovery will turn out to be at least as significant as the invention of the wheel, perhaps even more significant.

Higgs Boson, dark matter, quantum-physics, the law of attraction.  
A few years back a video and book called 'The Secret' made a big splash.  It talked about something called the law of attraction.  The creators of 'The Secret' contended that human thought has the ability to affect the physical world.  In other words people could change their lives by using concerted and concentrated thought.

I believe it, without doubt, without hesitation and without reservation.  And the discovery the Higgs Boson particle I believe plays a part.  

Don't ask me to explain matter, to describe atoms and molecules...I told you, mine is not a scientific mind.  All I know is that they're infinitely small and that water is expressed as H20, the H representing hydrogen and the letter O representing oxygen. Water is a mix of hydrogen and oxygen, with one of them having two atoms or molecules and I guess the other one, like I said I sucked at maths and sciences in school.  

The only reason I've retained the knowledge of water's atomic make-up is that people sometimes say, 'give me a glass of aitch two oh'.

But why do hydrogen and oxygen mix together is this fashion? Why do atoms and molecules bother joining together anyway? Why don't all these ultra teeny tiny little particles just flit about the universe willy nilly?  Scientists are telling us that its because of the Higgs Boson, this even smaller than ultra teeny tiny particle, so minuscule in size  that its smaller than an atom, its sub-atomic.  

Scientists are also talking how it may lead to the discovery and possibly even capture of so-called 'dark matter'.  Now this shit starts to get really interesting, and I'm not being facetious, not one Higgs Boson little bit.

Dark matter is stuff we can't see, and what's more scientists say it can be here one second and then totally disappear.  There is quite possibly, and personally I don't believe it to be a possibility but a reality,  a complete other universe right in front of us, parallel if you like, that's invisible but that affects our own.

And here's where God and the mirror come in.

I believe that things like the Higgs Boson and Dark Matter are the result of human thought, both conscious and subconscious.  In other words there is no exterior creator or God, we are the creators.  I also believe that there are individuals who know and have known this to at least some degree, people that have been able to use this power, in a limited but significant way to their general advantage.

I now believe that humankind as a whole is on the verge of tapping into and exploiting the most powerful force in the universe. My fear is that we're not ready.

The reason is simple.  If thought has the ability to affect the material world, then whose thoughts will prevail?  We live in a world that is both hyper connected and hyper competitive.  

Whose wants, needs and desires win out?  Humans divide themselves from their brothers and sisters so many ways its almost hard to categorize them all.  By nationality, race, culture, religion, socioeconomic class...even along family lines as well as by gender.

Whose agenda will win?  We're already in constant competition over so many things with the tangible tools at our disposal, often leading to armed conflict.  Its not hard to imagine competing visions of our world battling with one another, with the destruction off all being the result.

Then again, maybe I'm totally out to lunch on this thing.  After all, mine is not a scientific mind.