Thursday, March 31, 2016


So many people are now using headphones to listen to music on their commutes to and from work.

I have noticed that some people figure that even with the headphones on, everyone around them needs to hear what they are listening to. It is amazing how loud the music sounds even through the headphones so I wonder how loud it is for the person wearing them. On our transit there is a policy that you are to listen to music at a volume that only you can hear it. The problem with this is there is no way for a person to know their music is too loud unless someone tells them.

For me, my headphones are very important when I am at the gym, as I listen to music when I exercise. I also use my headphones when I am trying to focus on some writing. There are even times when I have my headphones on when I just want to escape all the other sounds that are going on around me. My headphones are wonderful because they help me escape from everything else that is happening and all the various sounds that you hear on a daily basis.

I have three different pairs of headphones but two of them have one thing in common and that is they are noise cancelling headphones. I don't use the noise cancelling headphones when I am at the gym but otherwise I use them to help me block out the other sounds around me. The noise cancelling headphones that I have make it that I can focus on just hearing what I want to listen to and not everything else. My headphones have also been used when I just want to block out the sounds around me and I will sit with them on without listening to anything. It is such a nice feeling when you can just sit and not have all the daily sounds around you.

My headphones are also a means of helping me deal with hearing too much. I have extremely good hearing so there are times when all the high pitched sounds start to get to me and my headphones help me deal with those sounds. The headphones also come in very handy when I start to feel like I am just hearing too many sounds. Being able to focus on hearing what you want to hear is such a good feeling especially in the world today when we deal with just too many sounds around us on a daily basis.

With my hearing, I have been teased that I really can't hear the high pitched sounds but I have proven more than once that I can hear the sounds that most other people can't. Imagine being in a store and being able to hear the alarm system that sends out a signal ever few seconds, that is what I deal with in some stores. Thank goodness the alarm systems have gotten better over the years and there aren't as many stores that I have to avoid now, I just have to limit my time in some stores.

Headphones can sure make a big difference in how I handle different things in my life. I have learned that making sure I always have a pair of my noise cancelling headphones close by, can make my life so much easy. Knowing that I can escape into my little world for even a few minutes can mean that I can face the rest of the world a lot easier.

So, next time you see someone quietly listening to something and you can't hear anything maybe they aren't really listening to anything other than quiet. Headphones are great, but if you are one of those that needs to play your music extra loud, please remember, that not everything wants to hear what you like listening to.

Tuesday, March 29, 2016


I am involved in doing some fund raising for a charity and I have learned quite a few things in the process. One of the biggest things is about collect funds is having good guidelines.

Schools in a lot of cases, or at least around us don't seem to have good guidelines when it comes to their fundraising. There always seems to be various reasons for fundraising and it can get overwhelming.

Recently a school in our neighborhood was doing some sort of fund raising by selling the chocolate covered almonds. I have no idea what the fund raising was about because when the teens were knocking at our door it was only to say they were collecting for a fund raiser. The teen didn't have any thing to show about where he was from or what the fund raiser was about. In our apartment building there is a sign that says no solicitation. So many people don't think that coming door to door asking me to buy even something as a fund raiser, is soliciting.

Solicitation signs -- it means they do not want people coming
into the building and asking for money.
It doesn't matter if it is for charity or not.

After the first teen was around it wasn't long before another teen was walking down the hall knocking on doors and asking again if we wanted to buy chocolates. Yes, it was the same fundraiser. When we said that they weren't allowed to sell in our building and he was the second teen his reply was "well there are 120 of us doing the fundraising". We were actually leaving the floor so we made the teen get on the elevator with us and got him to the first floor. At least it meant he was stopped for a few minutes but probably went back up and continued bothering people.

Another part of the school fundraising that gets me when they are selling the chocolates with almonds in them is the issue of the peanut and nut allergy issues in the schools. Why do schools sell something that in so many cases cannot be consumed within the school itself. By using these as a fund raising item the school is sending out a mixed message.

Fundraising should be done through friends and family and not door to door. There are so many fundraising things now that if you gave to every cause you saw or all that came to your door you would be broke.

The other group of teens that really bother me are the ones that stand outside stores and are selling the chocolates for something. So many of these teens are getting paid a little bit to sell the chocolates but the money isn't going to a charity or a nonprofit but into someone's pocket. We have even encountered these teens in coffee shops asking people to purchase the chocolates.

Fundraising is getting harder and harder to do now and I think part of it is because of all the various causes as well as the " go fund me" pages that are being set up asking for money. If you are going to be raising fund for something please remember that a cause may be important to you but I may have another cause that is more important to me. Don't get upset if I say no when you ask me for a donation because there is only so much money that can go to the various fund raising efforts.

Thursday, March 24, 2016


Me - taking polar bear pictures
I love taking pictures and of course that means that there are times when I will spend hours just enjoying something and that is what makes me happier. With me taking pictures it also means that I am fair game for having my picture taken as well. Sometimes I can get myself into some very odd positions to get just that perfect shot but I enjoy doing that. My husband enjoys trying to capture me in those positions.

I have been able to spend some time taking various types of pictures and looking back at them brings back some wonderful memories. Of course, there are other photos that can say so much just by looking at it. There are some things that I love taking pictures of, and those are polar bears and The Snowbirds. In both cases I can take hundreds of pictures to ensure that I can capture just that right one and that makes me happy.

Hudson as a baby - Toronto Zoo
One place where I have enjoyed taking pictures is at The Toronto Zoo especially where I can sit and watch the feeding of the polar bears. We were lucky at one point when one of the new baby polar bears was on display and I got a chance to sit and watch it for a while. Of course, that meant quite a few photos of the baby.

Inukshuk - Toronto Zoo
Besides The Toronto Zoo another place I enjoy taking pictures is at The Toronto International Air Show. The Snowbirds are normally the last planes in the show and I have enjoyed in the past sitting out near Pearson International Airport and taking pictures of the Snowbirds taking off and landing. This is such a nice experience because you get to see them a lot closer than when you are sitting down near Lake Ontario to watch the show.

Snowbirds - Toronto International Air Show
Taking pictures for me is so much fun as when I look at the pictures later it brings back to many nice memories. Pictures can tell so much of a story when you look at them. A picture can show some of your travels, people you have met or even things that you have seen in our own area. Pictures are a window to a world and they can help you see what sometimes others see that you don't see at a given time.

Photography for me is something that I do for pleasure most of the time. I do use my photography skills for some of the charity events that I am involved in with work and that also helps show some of the activities that the charity does to assist with their fundraising. Photography is so much easier with the digital cameras as you can take so many more photos and not have to worry about running out of film (glad to be free of that old limit of 24 or 36 shots). Now the biggest concern is making sure your memory card is big enough and the batteries for the camera are charged.

Monday, March 21, 2016

Figuring out how to organize ideas

It is always interesting to sit back and see if how I organize all of my ideas is actually working for me at a given time. Lately I have been trying to figure out a better means of keeping all of my ideas with me so that I can write whenever I want to write.

There is always a challenge for a person with lots of ideas and that is capturing all the thoughts and ideas as they are racing around in your head. There have been times when I have thought of a wonderful idea but by the time I try and capture it I can't remember what it was. Yes, that happens to everyone so just making sure you can capture a lot of the ideas is better than not capturing any of the ideas.

One of the methods that I use for tracking all my thoughts and ideas is just a simple word file that I can edit when I have the various thoughts. I also track some of the thoughts if I cannot get to the word file on a piece of paper or even on my mobile device. Yes, capturing the idea as quickly as you can is the best thing to ensure that you don't get frustrated because you keep losing all those ideas that you have. Of course, not all the ideas are going to be the best ideas that you have but at least writing all of them helps you figure out which ones you are going to use and which ones will stay on the list for ages.

The ability of capturing all the ideas is getting a lot easier now with the ability to have a tablet with you most of the time. No, my tablet doesn't end up in the bedroom but it normally close to me the rest of the time so that I can capture those thoughts. I do have a notebook beside the bed so that if I get ideas when in the bedroom I can capture them as well.

The other thing that you need to figure out when you are trying to capture your thoughts is how much detail are you going to capture. I try and capture as much detail as I can about the idea because then I will know where I was heading with the thought instead of just a quick note and I will have no idea what I meant. There is always the challenge that as soon as I start writing one idea down I get a bunch more so then the list looks really interesting as I bounce between the ideas and try and capture all of them.

Being able to organize the various thoughts and ideas that you have is very important. No, you don't need to complete an entire thought as soon as you have a spark of an idea. The spark sometimes will never get further than that spark but at least noting it will help. The original spark may never get further but it could result in a bunch of other ideas that do end up resulting in something or even a bunch of somethings. I know that I have noted an idea and it has ended up no where but just getting that idea out resulted in a lot of clearer ideas.

Now, organizing your ideas will change over time and it is something that you just have to deal with. I have bounced between a number of ways of capturing all of the ideas that I have and I am still trying to figure out what works best for me. Your ideas are yours and you need to figure out what works best for you. You are different than everyone else so listen to what they suggest and maybe try it and then see what works best for you.

Thursday, March 17, 2016

Editing work

There are times when we all need to work on editing work of someone else or even ourselves.

As someone that works with others for my documents, that is something that I do quite often. It can be a challenge sometimes to figure out what someone is saying or really meaning when they write something, even when it has past the spell checker. There are the times when the words are missing to complete a thought and you need to figure out what that thought really was.

Another challenge can be editing work that was done quite a few years ago and now it is being inserted into a new document. The way something was explained years ago can be different than how it would be explained now so you have to spend the time rewording the work that was done previously.

Recently I have been working on editing a memory book and it has been very enjoyable and sometimes a little challenging. This document is now around 110 pages and there have been quite a few people involved in the gathering of information to get this book completed. Once all the information was gathered it was trying to figure out a format that would work best and really communicate what we were trying to show. This is where the fun for me came in, because I was the one with the ultimate goal of getting the book into a format that would work both published as a pdf (on the internet) and also something that could be printed. The end result is a document that will be saved two different ways as the printed version will have a few blank pages while the online version won't have these pages.

The challenge with editing this book was making sure that all the margins and spacing were the same through the entire book. It is now going through it's final review and I think we have finally made sure that all the margins and spacing are the same.

Editing work can be an interesting job because it gives you a chance to try different things to see how it looks before the final decision is made. The editing of the memory book involved a few redo's as the layouts that I thought were going to work didn't work so I had to change my thought process and rethink how something would be done.

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Changing up a general routine

We all have routines that sometimes need to be changed up. It is very important to understand that routines are what is needed to get things done most of the time. There are also times when the routine needs to be changed just a bit to be more effective.

The changing of a routine can just be as simple as the order you do things in. The bigger changes can be how you do the specific routine. It is always important to understand why you do something a specific way. It could be the only way something works or it could be just the way you found it works best for you. If you are going to change a process you need to think about why it is done a specific way.

In so many cases just changing your routine a little bit can make a huge difference. There are times that changing the order you do something can make you feel so much better. There are times that just changing the order of how you do things will make you so much happier. Being flexible in your routine also makes it work a lot better. If you always do things one way try doing them in a different order and see how that feels.

There will be things that you can change and things you can't change but at least making little changes may help you. Of course in the morning you can't change some of the order how you do things but you can maybe add some variety. If you always go to a specific spot on the way to work to grab a coffee, try some place different for a change. Maybe instead of grabbing a coffee once you are close to work try taking one from home and see how that works. These are changes you can do every once in a while and they can make you feel a lot better.

Small changes in a routine can really help you when a routine is just getting too boring. Knowing that the little changes can make a difference will also mean that when you need to make a larger change in your routine it won't feel so big. Remember routines are personal and not everyone does the same things in the same order. Try some small changes and see how you feel, you may go back to your routine but at least you have tried to change it up a bit.

Thursday, March 10, 2016

Conference etiquette

There are a few things that every attendee should remember when they attend conferences or workshops:
  1. When you arrive at the event put your mobile device to vibrate only or silent. Not everyone at the event needs to hear your device when you receive emails, texts or phone calls. It should be common courtesy because it does actually show a lack of respect to the presenters.
  2. When moving away from vendor booths watch where you are walking. So many times I have been walked into by someone leaving a vendor booth because they weren't watching where they were going. In some cases the person only was at the booth to grab the free give away and not really talk to the vendor.
  3. Don't carry on conversations with others during presentations. If you want or need to talk to someone during a presentation you should take the conversation outside the area of where the presentation is happening.
  4. Be considerate of others when you take or place phone calls. It is very important to remember that no everyone needs or wants to hear your conversation when you are on your mobile device. The call may be important to you but it isn't important to everyone else at the event.
  5. Have your business cards available. Your business cards should be something that you have quickly available when you are at the event. For us, we have two different business cards depending on who we are talking to. We have our regular business cards with our email address and phone number on them and then we have what we refer to as vendor business cards. The vendor business cards have a different email address on it so that we can keep vendor related information separate from the daily work emails. Also the vendor business cards don't have a phone number on them. This means that if a vendor really wants to communicate with us they have two choices 1) email us or 2) visit our website and then you will find our contact information. The reason we decided to have no phone number on our vendor cards is to reduce the number of interrupting phone calls we receive from vendors. We want to ensure that we are spending the time serving our clients.
  6. Attendance at breakout sessions. Know when each of the sessions are to start and be on time. If you come into a session after it has started make sure you come I quietly. If you need to leave a session early also leaving quietly is important. Other people attending the session don't need to know you are leaving the session.

Being considerate of everyone that is attending a conference is important. At most conferences and workshops your name and in a lot of cases your company name are visible. If you do bother a lot of people with your behaviour you could be impact how your business is viewed or at the least how you are viewed.

Being professional at all conferences and workshops is something that you need to consider. The better impression you leave at the different events you attend the better chance you have of being viewed by people in a positive light. Conference etiquette needs to be remembered.

Monday, March 7, 2016

Live chat sessions

Live chat sessions that are provided by companies are handy if they are used correctly.

A live chat as soon as you connect should at least acknowledge that you have connected so that you know that the system does see your request to talk to someone. It should also show you the time that you started the chat so you have an indication of how long you have been waiting to talk to someone.

A number of chats that I have used at least let's you see that the system knows you are waiting. It is also interesting to know that some chats work well with a multiple of browsers and other chats look like you are connected really aren't working.

Recently I was trying to connect to a chat using Firefox and I waited and waited without any message or anything. I had previously tried Chrome to connect to this same chat without any luck. My husband then suggested trying another browser to see if it would make a difference and sure enough it did. I connected with Internet Explorer and I immediately got a connection and someone to help me answer the questions.

If your chat only works with specific browsers it is important that you let customers know this. If you don't tell them it won't work for a given browser you will end up with extremely frustrated customers and you could possibly lose the customer as well. A chat function on a website on a website is a wonderful feature if it is done correctly.

Remember if you have a chat session on your website ensure that you know what browsers it works on and make sure you communicate that to the people looking at your website. Good customer relations goes a long way to keeping and even getting customers.

Thursday, March 3, 2016

Grocery shopping with food allergies

I have heard so many people say how much they enjoy going grocery shopping. People have mentioned that they can run in and pick something up and it doesn't take long at all. Now, I wish I could run in and not take long in a grocery store but with food allergies that isn't the case. Some stores even offer that they will do your shopping for you and you just have to drive up and pick it up. Oh, would that be nice sometimes not having to step foot into the grocery store.

Food allergies are normally something that you deal with mostly at home because that is where you do a lot of your food preparation. It is the getting the items for the various meals that turns into a challenge each time you go into the grocery store. Next time you go shopping think about having to read every label of everything you buy every time you buy an item. Yes, that is what our life is like and that is the life of anyone with food allergies, as we need to insure that there are no ingredients in what we purchase that might cause major allergic reactions and possibly kill us.

Grocery shopping becomes a challenge and a major obstacle course for finding food that is safe. A trip into the grocery store normally for us even when we aren't buying too many things is around an hour and longer if we are needing to find new foods.

Watching people quickly look at the labels of what they are buying makes me jealous. There isn't a quick look for us as every time we purchase something we have to double check the ingredient list. Sure the package can look the same as it did the week before but the ingredients can be different so yes that means checking every time you are in the store. Ingredients are something that do change and sometimes change quite often so making sure we check the packaging is very important for my safety. We also do check the nutritional factors because we want to ensure we are picking items that are good for the two of us.

The other challenge in the grocery stores are the areas where there are the pick your own oysters, etc. This means a wider circle around the different sections of the grocery store as well. Now, the meat counter can also be a challenge for something with a shellfish or seafood allergy when both counters are side by side. Making sure you communicate your allergies to the person behind the counter is very important so that they can do the necessary handling changes required.

For those of you that don't have to deal with food allergies here is a challenge for you. Next time you go into the grocery store to do your shopping read all the ingredient lists for everything you purchase. Look at the time difference it makes to your shopping trip and think that for so many of us that is a normal shopping trip. Yes, there are parents that need to find the snacks without peanuts or nuts for school lunches. Now if you don't have to do any of that checking think of how lucky you are and remember it can change at any time. I am adult on-set anaphylaxis so the checking all the labels isn't something I grew up doing.

Grocery shopping with food allergies can be a real challenge. The checking of the labels is required to ensure things remain safe each time we buy something but at least we have found a way to handle it and having two sets on eyes on the labels during our shopping trips does help.

Tuesday, March 1, 2016

Juggling tasks

There are days when juggling multiple projects or tasks can seem a little overwhelming.

It is amazing how some days juggling multiple projects can seem so challenging. For most of us in the IT field we are normally handling more than one task or project at a time. The juggling of the tasks can be a standard thing for most of us but there are days that it can feel a little overwhelming. Things that can impact a schedule can be a result of some one else making a major mistake.

Recently, I received an email thanking me for registering for a webinar. The webinar was the next day and no I hadn't registered for it. After that email I then got the link about how to connect to the webinar the next day. Within half an hour after this I then received an email reminding me about the webinar. All of this was extremely frustrating because I hadn't heard anything about the webinar prior forgetting the original thanks for registering for the event. I decided that after all of this it was important to let the company know that they were doing something that was very wrong. One of the emails I received had a person's name so I emailed and let them know how frustrated I was with this entire event. Shortly after my email I received an apology email from someone else from the company taking ownership for the problem. What made this situation over was I also received a phone call from this same person again to apologize for the entire situation.

Yes, I ended up having to juggle an additional issue/task that wasn't on my plate at the beginning of the day. I could have just ignored the webinar emails but I wanted to ensure that the company understood there was an issue they needed to handle. The other thing about these emails is I have noticed this seems to be happening more and more. We are getting more of these emails thanking us for registering for webinars that we haven't even heard about. I know that when I register for a webinar I immediately put it on my calendar so I know about it.

We all juggle multiple tasks/projects each day and managing them is very important. The other thing that is important is making sure that we are also making sure that others realize when they have done something wrong. It may mean adding to the juggling for a little bit but it may solve a problem that could reoccur in the future if left un-managed.

So if you are responsible for managing webinars and such for your company remember, it is better to just email people about a webinar and let them register. If you send you the pre-registered messages you may lose more people than you realize. Yes, juggling projects are important but I am the one that needs to juggle my webinar attendance not someone else.