Monday, August 14, 2017

Back to school sales

For us in Canada the Back to School sales seem to start so early but there are a lot of reasons for that.

One of the biggest reasons for our back to school sales starting so early is the various times that different places do go back to school. I know that in Canada most of the schools start again around the Labour Day weekend. Now for some kids in some states in the United States school starts in early to mid August. Of course, they also finish their school year in May and not the end of June like some of the schools here in Canada.

The reason that the sales seem to start early for us is that the sales are company bases and not location based. I understand that sometimes here it seems that the kids are just starting their summer holidays and all the school supplies start coming out. I have also heard that some parents even here like the idea of having the sales early because it means that they can spread out the expenses of going back to school and everything doesn’t hit at the end of August.

When we have been out shopping in the last month it is amazing how many people have been picking up the school supplies. Sure it may seem early in some ways but if you pick up the supplies when the stores first get them and put them on special you will get the items that you want in the colour that you also want. I know that not everyone cares about the colours of their binders or such but a lot of students want things a certain way and I know I was one of those students. A binder colour meant something and I wanted enough different colours so that I had a binder for each subject and all of them were different colours.

Back to School sales can seem to indicate the end of summer but it also indicates that for some school starts are different times and we have to accept that the sales may seem to be early for us. I know that even without kids I enjoy the back to school sales because it is a chance to stock up on the highlighters and pens that we use.

Summer is very short no matter how you look at it. It is a chance to have a vacation for some and for others it is the time to sit at work and deal with all the other vacations that are going on. Back to school is just one time and remember if you are complaining about the sales that are happening for school remember that the Halloween and Christmas stuff will be in the store soon as well.

Tuesday, August 8, 2017

Festivals in a city

During the summer there seems to be a festival or some sort of event every weekend so there are always things to do.

When you live in a big city like Toronto it doesn’t take you long to find some festival that is happening on any given weekend in the summer. Now the long weekends is where there are lots and lots of different events and you then have to decide what you are going to do and also if you aren’t going to the events how you are getting around the city. I was looking at some of the events that are happening this weekend and of course found some that result in road closures and others that don’t.

For us in Toronto the biggest event that happens on the August long weekend is the Caribana Parade that closes Lakeshore Boulevard for a stretch. It is a major festival with a huge parade that starts at 8:30 am on the Saturday and runs until around 6 pm in the afternoon. Now this is just one of the activities that happens during the Caribana Festival that happens in the city. This festival started on the 9th of July and has been going on in various parks around the city since then and will wrap up August 6th with a couple more big events. Yes it is a big event that the city has and something that brings lots and lots of visitors into the city so things specially in the downtown area are a little busier.

Of course, there are smaller festivals also happening this same weekend in other areas of the city. We have things like the Toronto Food Truck Festival happening as well as a bunch of other things like a Ribfest and other cultural events so the city is full of various activities so there is always something to do on the weekend.

Some people complain that there are too many events on weekends in the city but what they don’t think about is all the tourists that some of these events bring into the city. The tourists are what helps the city through all the shopping, hotels and meals that these people do. When you are in the downtown core during the summer it is always interesting to see how many people have shopping bags full of stuff compared to how many people have lots of shopping bags during the rest of the year. Yes, there may be road closures that we all deal with in the summer but then we have to think about all the businesses that survive because of the business they do in the summer months thanks to the tourists.

Festivals in the city are something that everyone should try and do during the summer. You may get to see some new things that you weren’t aware of before. You may also see how many different areas of the city there really is.

Monday, July 31, 2017

Vacations

So many people take vacations during the summer while other people will take their vacations either in the winter or once the kids have gone back to school.

For people with families the summer vacation is the easiest one to plan because that is when the kids are out of school. Sure, parents do take the kids out of school sometimes but that is normally because of a special vacation and not just the getting away vacation. The people that take their vacations in the winter are ones that like to travel south to the warmer weather and they have the time and flexibility to do that. The one that take their vacations after the kids have gone back to school are normally people that don’t have kids and don’t travel south.

We are ones that enjoy taking a vacation once the kids have gone back to school. There are some advantages of this besides the lack of kids in the hotels. Another advantage is that the hotels are a little cheaper and also you can get to see more things without having to line up as much. Sure there are still lots of people on vacation through September and into October but it isn’t like the number of people on vacation in July and August. The other thing about the July and August vacations is that it is when some plants have a shutdown so that they can do maintenance on the equipment.

For the last few years we have been taking our vacation over the august long weekend and it is a lot busier at the hotel and even on the highways. This year we are changing it up and are going to take some time once the kids are back at school. We haven’t decided when we are going away but we know that it will be nice to have some time away from home and maybe see a different area of the province. Of course for us it means figuring out what we haven’t seen and then plan our vacation around that.

Vacations are nice when you can get away from the normal routine and see places that you haven’t seen before or you haven’t seen in a while. Some people are even doing the staycation and that is where you stay home and do the day trips around to different areas or even become a tourist in your own city. These can be a nice change as well because it is nice to see the city you live in from a different perspective. We have done that type of holiday and it is fun when you can take the various tours that the city has and just see things that you sometimes just pass by and don’t really see.

Vacations are a time to spend together with your family or friends and also time to try and recharge some of those buckets that have been kind of emptied with all the work and other obligations. Vacations are times to get out of the normal routine and do something. It doesn’t when you take a vacation it just feels great to be taking one and it is also nice to get home after one.

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

A new project

All of us have a bunch of projects that we are working on at once. In some cases there are times when one project is the main focus and it gets all or as much attention as you can give it.

When a new project comes along there needs to be the juggling to see how this new project is going to fit in or is it the one that is going to get top priority for a little while as you figure out what you really want to achieve out of the project. If you are lucky someone is going to tell you the goal of the project and the go live date and you just have to work on making it come to life and achieve the goals.

Now what happens when a project is figured out and it is a project that you are in charge of and also you are the one that is setting the dates and the overall goal of the project. This is something that I am currently dealing with and there are of course the different questions that need to be answered and things that have to be moved forward.

The project is something that I had sort of thought about for a while but again didn’t think it was something that I was going to make a go of until this past weekend. I am now working on a project that needs a lot of questions answered and also a bunch of other steps along the way. For me it also meant that the brain decided that it was going to try and juggle everything and just start to overwhelm me with questions and ideas.

One of the first things that I started to do was try and keep everything in my head and not write anything down which was a major problem. Sure this project doesn’t have a drop dead date but there is a date that I have in mind that I want to have the project basically ready for. Now to see if that is going to happen. After feeling like I was going to throw my hands up, I figured out the major problem I was having and that was having all of the questions in my head and also a bunch of steps also in my head. Thankfully I have a partner that is willing to sit and list to me and we decided to write down all of the questions and steps and it didn’t matter in which order they came out. The things that were in my head just needed to be put onto paper and then things might seem a little easier to manage. The list quickly grew into a page of point form notes but I felt better about things.

Sure the project is still very new and I still have a lot of questions that need to be answered but at least now I have a foundation and some place to put more of the questions and all of the answers and decisions that I am making. A new project, of course, is going to have a lot of unknowns with it but at least finding a means of making the unknown known is helping.

Thursday, July 20, 2017

Benefits of loyalty cards or membershps

Recently I discovered one of the benefits of having a loyal card for a grocery store. I have also heard from others that they have experienced the same benefit and it does make me happy hearing that this is now happening.

What I am talking about it getting an email about a specific food or item that is being recalled that you have purchased. Sure in some ways it may feel like the store is being nosy and checking to see what you purchase but then there is the benefit of it being in their system.

I have loyalty cards from a number of the stores that we frequent because I figured if I can get some sort of bonus that makes shopping there a little nicer. Most times I will get my card scanned by the cashier to see if I have earned any points during that visit and also to see what the point total is for that specific store. What I didn’t realize is some of the benefits that scanning the card even when I am only purchasing one or two items. The benefit that I received recently was an email from a store letting me know about a food recall on a product that I had recently purchased. At first I wasn’t too sure about this but then I realized that yes it can be a real benefit to receive this type of email.

The message I received was:
Please be advised that a public safety notice has been issued on select units of xxxxx.
You are receiving this notice because your records indicate you purchased this product.
Click here for full details about this recall.”

I was very happy to receive this recall because it meant that I could double check the recall to ensure that the item I had purchased was either in the recall or it wasn’t in the recall. In my case the item wasn’t in the recall as it was just a specific date. For me I had heard about the recall the evening before I received this email because I also get all the food recalls from the Canadian Food Inspection Agency due to having the various food allergies that I have. Not everyone gets the food recalls from the agency so at least when the store lets you know you can check what you purchased.

I didn’t know that I would receive this type of email as a benefit from using my loyalty card but now that I have it lets me know how important it is for me to have that card scanned each time I do some shopping at the grocery stores.

Thursday, July 13, 2017

Window coverings

window coverings
Well recently I was sitting on our balcony and looked over to the apartment beside us and noticed the various types of window coverings that are used in the different apartment units.  I understand that no everything wants drapes or sheers or things like that on their windows but it is interesting to see what people have done.

In this picture that I took there are basically three different types of window coverings.  One of them that is the normal drapes or curtains and then the other two types of things that to me shouldn't be used on the windows.  My basic concern is how are you sticking the material onto the window in the first place and how easy or hard is it to remove late.

On the bottom left of the picture where is what looks like foil over all of the window.  Sure it might help keep the heat out but considering you can now purchase blackout curtains at a reasonable price that would probably work as well and you would even get some air into the room as well. I understand that it may help to keep the room cool but it sure doesn't look nice from the outside of the building.  I know that with the new windows that they have just put in our building that you aren't allowed to put foil on the windows.

The top right of the picture is another method that to me really doesn't seem to be very useful and it looks like they have stuck sales flyers up to cover all of the window.  Again making it extremely hard to get air into the room as it is on all of the windows. The newspaper would be a good idea if you were painting the room and didn't want to get paint on the window but this paper has been up for weeks so it isn't that the unit is just being painted.

Sure everyone has a different view of window coverings and that works for them and what doesn't.  I think what gets to me is when there are the newspaper coverings because those are the ones that I really can't figure out.  I don't think it would keep a lot of the light out but maybe I am wrong. I also understand that no everyone can afford to purchase new curtains or drapes for their home but maybe just going into a thrift store may help them out.  A lot of the thrift stores have tons and tons of curtains and even if they are too big for the window it would probably look a little nicer than the sales flyers.

Window coverings are yes the choice of the people living in the unit so that is why it can be very interesting to just look at the various window treatments you see when you pass by some apartment or condominium buildings.

Monday, July 10, 2017

Being polite does payoff

There are times when just asking a question politely can make a big difference in how things are handled.

Recently there was an issue with the school bells ringing even after the school year had ended. I was trying to figure out why there were ringing when there was no students in the school and won’t be until September. As this is a large school there are a number of recesses which means a number of bells ringing in the morning and afternoon.

What I decided to do was to look up the website for the school board and ask if they could let me know why the bells were ringing. I simply asked if they could explain why the bells would ring in the summer when there were no students in the school. I got a reply early the next morning with a reply of “we have turned off the bells for the summer and apologize for any inconvenience this may have caused.”

Yes, I got the results that I was really looking for and am happy with it. It now means that I can relax and have the windows open and not hear the bells ringing all day long. I think a lot of people will be surprised when they realize that the bells aren’t ringing everyday.

This proves that when you have an issue and would like to understand it simply asking the question politely can really make a difference. I could have written an email just complaining about the continuous bells and it probably wouldn’t have got me the results that I wanted. I just asked for an explanation about the bells because I wasn’t sure if there was a reason for them ringing all the time.
Just asking a simple question and politely can really help you and get you the results that you really wanted. Now I am going to enjoy working even sitting outside without the continual sound of school bells. In the fall the sound will return but at least then I will be inside more often and won’t notice it as much.