Bundles of Fun

Wednesday, September 15, 2010 | | 0 comments

I don't have a lot to complain about. But every now and again, some minor annoyance combines with another and I have an irritating situation on my hands.

Annoyance #1

When you have young kids, as I do, it is inevitable that they will figure out how to use the TV remote control. It must also be assumed that they will drop the remote control on the floor, throw it across the room, spill stuff on it and harm it in other, unforeseen ways.

My remote control has been taking abuse for a couple of years. At first, the plastic end-piece was knocked off and replaced a few dozen times. The piece was then broken and only partially replaced. I'm not sure what happened next, but the piece has not been seen in months and the internal workings of my remote control are now exposed. I have learned that exposed remote control pieces have a very short shelf-life when thrown, dropped and dunked.

For a while, I carried on, sadly pointing my remote at my television, looking as though I was stabbing the air with a broken beer bottle. Two days ago, the stabbing no longer changed anything and I admitted defeat.

This wouldn't be such a big problem, if it weren't for...

Annoyance #2

In the past couple of weeks, Rogers Cable launched a new sports station called Sportsnet ONE. It seems to exist for the sole purpose of televising Blue Jays games and carries what feels like every other game on the schedule. The station is being offered as a free preview at the moment, but someday soon I will be asked to pay if I want to receive it as part of my bundle.

I know that it will not be included in one of my existing bundles as this is never how it works with Rogers. They will figure out a way to combine this one station, which I must have, with dozens of channels I will never watch. Someday it will be discovered that Rogers only agreed to carry these additional channels in exchange for the exact location of the holy grail. I will buy the new bundle and I will hear call centre employees snickering at me as I do so.

Why this is such an annoying situation for me right now is that the new channel is #394. When I had a remote control (even the broken beer bottle version), this was no problem. But last night as I stood at my set, pressing channel up to go from channel three to 394, I was not a happy guy.

At least it was a good game...oh wait, no it wasn't. The Jays lost badly to a horrible Baltimore Orioles squad.

If I hadn't invested so much just to see the game in the first place, I'd have changed the channel and spared myself the misery.

Hey Mom I'm in the Paper!

Monday, September 13, 2010 | | 0 comments

"In the future, everyone will be world-famous for 15 minutes."
Andy Warhol

I was featured in yesterday's edition of the Toronto Sun, specifically in the Guide to Higher Learning section. How exactly did I become involved in the segment? How has my life changed since the paper hit the streets? These questions and more will be answered shortly.

About two months ago, I was contacted by a journalist who wanted to include me in an article about university grads who had gone back to school to get a graduate certificate. My name had been passed along by the Marketing & Communications Department at Sheridan College, who knew me because I had done some work for them in the spring.

I agreed and a half-hour phone interview was arranged. I was asked to send a picture of myself, but my first offering was rejected as it didn't meet the resolution requirement. I asked my wife if she would take some new pictures of me and the photo shoot produced: dorky-looking shots of me with too much sun in my face (back yard), dorky-looking shots of me which were too dark (in front of fireplace) and dorky- looking shots of me trying not to look like I was kneeling under a tree (front yard). The least dorky-looking shots were forwarded and accepted.

I was told the segment would be published yesterday, so I drove down to the nearest store and started flipping through The Sun to ensure it was there. It wasn't, so I flipped through another, knowing full well that I would soon be treated like someone who only wanted a free look at the Sunshine Girl by the store keeper.

The segment was nowhere to be found, so the reporter agreed to mail me a few copies. She also sent me a link to the article, which you can see here. Check out page 26 for a few words about me. No picture. Something tells me my phone won't be ringing off the hook tonight.

The Lemonade Stand

Thursday, September 2, 2010 | | 0 comments

My kids have been hounding me all summer to have a lemonade stand. Yesterday, we had no other plans, it was sunny and 32 degrees, I had some frozen pink lemonade in the freezer and a sleeve of Styrofoam cups. It was time.

The kids made two cardboard signs that advertised "lemonade 25 cents and free cookie." One sign was for the table and one would be waved at thirsty passers by. We were nearly ready.

The first sign of trouble came when we tried to organize our "float." My son was certain he would never see this money again and protested loudly. "That's my money for Disney!" he cried. After much discussion, we had his approval and his money. We were in the pink lemonade business.

We had been in business for a while and hadn't attracted a single customer. Had we underestimated the global economic recession? Had we priced ourselves out of the market? Was it true that a Facebook page was required?

And then it happened. A 15-passenger van spied our stand and turned around. In the pink lemonade business I had heard of 15-passenger vans (who hadn't?), but I thought it was a myth. Out jumped a mother and her seven children! All eight wanted a glass of our fine pink lemonade and their free cookie.

We were thrilled that we had sold our first eight glasses of lemonade, but quickly realized that our first sale had depleted half of our total supply for the day and we were in trouble. The beauty of the pink lemonade business is that you can easily close the business and have all staff jump in the car for a frantic trip to the grocery store to buy more lemonade and that's what we did. I hoped that we hadn't lost too many sales while we were gone, but knew we had done the only thing we could do in light of our poor initial planning.

Our lack of supply seemed to increase demand in the neighbourhood and upon our return we were selling lemonade faster than I could make it. It was a good time to be in the pink lemonade business.

We were now running out of cups and I had a tough decision to make. The last thing I wanted to do was close down again, but didn't see any other way. A hastily called staff meeting and a decision to make another run to the store and we were back in business for good.

We were soon out of cookies and there was no way I was going back to the store. We should have included "while supplies last" on our signs, but hadn't thought of that. So, we simply stroked out the free offer on the signs and hoped no one would call us on the bait and switch tactic so common in the pink lemonade business.

While I ran in and out, making more lemonade, my son disappeared to watch SpongeBob SquarePants on TV and I wasn't sure if he was ever to return. The pink lemonade business isn't for everyone.

My daughter was intoxicated with the action and the money coming in and rarely left the table. After my son left to live in a pineapple under the sea, my daughter handled all transactions and sign waving. Twice she saw a chance to go inside for a glass of water and threw the sign to me as I sat on my lawn chair. I realized that I had taken on the immediate appearance of a homeless person and hoped for her speedy return.

We had been in business for several hours and business was not slowing down. My son had returned to the table, my daughter was wheeling and dealing and I was in the kitchen, measuring my four cups of cold water, mess everywhere.

"Daddy, hurry, we have more customers!" came the cry from the door.

My heart pounding, my breath short, I was going as fast as I could. We were running out of cups and lemonade again. The excitement, the thrill.

This is why I got into the pink lemonade business.