September 2009


How many people send an email to a company using the Contact Us section of the web site? I’m sure most of us have once or several times over a year. My job requires me to source out suppliers or services, and I frequently use this as a quick means of making the first contact. I never hear a reply, sometimes you get an auto response that states we will contact you in 48 hrs, but that never comes.

Here is an example: I have a personal project that I’m looking at doing. I sent personalized letters via the Contact Us section of these company’s websites. I contacted 14 companies ranging from small to very large, and how many do you think replied…. 2! and they happened to be the smaller of the 14 companies. I got 3- your request is very important to us and we will get back to you in 24-48 hrs, and these aren’t the people who did contact me.

So a note to the  business people, marketing people, web designers, if you have no intention of using the contact us feature remove it. Sure you get a lot of tire kickers, but for a person like me that uses this to verify that the company can offer what I’m looking for before wasting time and money on a phone call, it is a great tool potentially. Plus it gives me a name and extension to call so I don’t have to fight my way through some automated attendant but that is another rant.

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My bride  is an avid reader and started to read Harry Potter books the books in December of 2008(and yes I teased her that they are for kids). After reading the first two books she wanted to watch the first move.  She checked the movie out from the local library and we sat down and watched it.  I was quite taken with the movie and the whole story idea, so I decided to check the books out. Lets just say that I have become a big fan, I have read all of them except the first, and loved them. I do need to clarify that I’m and extremely slow reader so I actually listen to them on CDs, which I get from my local library. The first book is missing so I couldn’t listen to that one. I have planned to start to read it over our holidays next week, so will finish I think by Christmas at my reading speed.

Anyways I’m almost finished the last book and feeling a little sad that it is over, but my bride sent me a link for a fan written book based on Harry Potter.  It is interesting and I will attemp to read it when I finish the first book. Here is a link to the website site which is pretty cool for a fan of the series.

You didn’t know that lego made hockey did you?

Lego Hockey

Lego Hockey

My son finished his soccer season and the next organized sport he is playing is hockey. (Okay learn to skate “Tim Bit’s Hockey) Anyways he was convinced that lego made a hockey set(they don’t) and my very clever bride said let’s make a hockey rink for your lego tommorow out of shoe box. Well in typical clever manner she went about making it for him. The casual observer will say “is that star wars hockey?” Well looks like it, but the thought my son had is that you must wear a helmet for hockey so you will notice all of them are sporting helmets and later some form of hockey stick. I think it is pretty cool idea on her part and my son loves it.

If you are a hockey fan, hum your favorite hockey anthem  now.

Tonight on the eve of the start of another school year for my boy I had one of those interesting parenting moments.

After supper my son had a girl over to play who lives on our street, she is 7.  A little while later two brothers from our street that are 5 and 8 came over also to play. This is great, I thought he loves having people over to play, and they seemed to be having fun. I was close by doing some outside jobs but keeping an eye on them. They finished jumping on the trampoline, playing on the swing, and moved to hockey and scootering in the driveway. I then see the girl and the youngest brother fighting over the scooter, and she asked my son to help take it back. When I saw this and told her and my son to give it back he wasn’t done. And then some words of “I hate you” were uttered, and “I’m going to hit you”, and then the youngest brother calls the girl… “asshole!”

In my mind they are all too young for these words, and my bride and I do not allow our son to talk that way. So I  fathered up and said that if you are going to talk like that and not get along then you all need to go home and not come back until you are going to talk properly and get along. I also sent my son inside so that we could explain why they were sent home and that we don’t allow that at our house. I’m not foolish enough to think the day will never come for these words,  but 5-year-old to me is still too young to express hate and voilence for fellow person.

Just one more pebble in the road of parenting

Tailgate

tailgate

This last long weekend we spent traveling to visit family and then a wedding and then back home so we spent about 9 hours in a car driving, not a ton of time, but enough to make me become a little bitter about my fellow drivers.

Before I say too much, you need some background first… I’m a fast driver I tend to do 20 to 30 over the posted km/hr (I’m Canadian Eh!) so not a super fast driver but not a law follower either. I’m not aggressive driver, don’t rapidly change lanes, and riding other people’s bumpers isn’t me.

So the start of the weekend Friday about 4:30 my fellow drivers are being safe, not passing in dangerous places or being aggressive. This leg of our trip is through cottage country so some reasonable volume, not horrible, couple of cops around a fairly normal trip. But when we where doing our return from Ottawa to Toronto on the Highway of Hero’s it was totally different. Are these people just done of the weekend and want to be home in 5 minutes? Or maybe they had such a good time, they don’t mind killing themselves (and others) after the weekend not sure? Or is it an example of the culture we live in of “Me first and F#*$ the rest of you? Whatever it is, I observed lots of actions that made me shake my head, here are a couple of the driving observations:

  • What is the safe following distance at 120 km (75 mph approx) ?Anyone? What was it 3 second rule in drivers ed? Well the idiots on the hwy felt about 6 ft or less was good. I couldn’t help but wonder if you had one of those cars with object sensing when you back-up was it going off from a the knob riding your ass.
  • Why do people feel so confident that if they signal and turn into the lane next to them that has 10ft space for a 15ft long car that the other drivers are going to make room for them. Do they just cut the wheel over and see what happens?
  • Why do drivers tailgate, aggressively change lanes, and speed up to the next car to do the same thing over again and again to only pull over at a gas station or restaurant 10 min later.
  • Why do I wish the cops would come along and pull them over, not me I’m only doing 20 km above, but the other guy (but with my luck it would be me that got pulled over ). And where the heck were all the cops on Monday on a major Canadian highway?

Anyways as I’m putting along at my slow speed of 20-30 km above the speed limit and watching these people, I just couldn’t help but wonder is this an example of the lack of care for your fellow humans or example of the me first attitude of today’s society. I think there is something to it…as I never recalled seeing this as bad in the early 90’s  as it was yesterday, and is it possible to draw from this a glimpse of the culture we are creating.

Hope everyone had a safe weekend on the road.

For that reason we need to venture back about three years. I was starting to realize that if I wanted to stay in generally good shape I would need to make an effort to work out. To me being in good shape means being able to do a sport and perform reasonably well when doing it  and not be sore the next day. I’m fortunate to be a person that has never had a weight issue to challenge me and for the most part I eat whatever I want and don’t concern myself with putting on weight. But due to an active life style of ski racing and manual labour when I was younger, I do have some aches and pains, and these pains seem much more manageable if I’m in reasonable physical condition. So I set about looking for a workout program or some guidance that would allow me to workout without spend a fortune in gym memberships or fitness equipment (if you haven’t figured out yet I’m cheap) and be resonable on my time. So after reading several web sites I came across a program from outside magazine that seemed to fit what I was looking for.  I set about working out using this program as a guide, while working out I realized couple of things about myself:

  • I need to have some varity in a workout, using a machine or repeative routine caused me to get bored of it quickly.
  • I need a goal to get me to workout.

So the idea of an adventure race came to me while brain storming for something to be my goal to work out to. What appeals to me about the adventure racing is the combination of activities I enjoy. Most adventure races have a core group of activities and sometimes others depending on the race. The core groups of activities are mountain biking, paddling, orienteering or trail running. All of these I enjoy except trail running which I’m not a fan of but will try to learn to love it.

Now I have had the desire but was concerned about what to expect, cost, equipment, and can I do it. I spent some time looking at different web sites, blogs, and race websites trying to get a feel for this sport and to help address my concerns. I was still on the fence about how to proceed, so I decided this year to attend a clinic offered locally to help get me off the fence and it did what I hoped.  I’m committed to competing next year and it is time to learn some more, so will post my progress and findings here, and maybe help someone else get off the fence. Posts for the future:

  • How to get started
  • Training
  • Gear and cost of adventure racing
  • Skill development
  • Team locating
  • Adventure racing goal

Thanks for reading.

Mark

This is the time of year that most people have more tomatoes than they know what to do with. This year’s crop is pretty good. The vine and cherry tomatoes turned out good, the regular tomatoes also seem to be not bad, and the heirloom tomatoes that I had so much hope for, let’s just say flopped. The positive is we avoided the tomato horn worm this year which was an added plus.

Have you every had an insect that is in your garden that you swore you can hear it chewing? For me that insect was the tomato horn worm. The first time we experienced the worm was when we went away for a week leaving our tomatoes in good shaping and coming home and finding them destroyed. This cycle continued for 4 years, but after the first year, I would watch for them and look after the problem. The only way to kill a horn worm is to hand pick it off and squish it…ewww. Not sure what got ride of them the one year, but they just stopped coming. Maybe it was from the year I didn’t have tomatoes or that I moved them around the garden. Whatever it was they seem to be gone but not forgotten.

Okay so back to the food. A long time ago my bride saw this recipe in a magazine, cooking show or a cookbook so it isn’t an original idea, but one that she changes up and is never the same taste twice, but is definitely very yummy every time.

The recipe is:

Roughly chop up 2 or 3 large tomatoes …or you can half grape or cherry tomatoes too. This is really good when the tomatoes are in season. Use more tomatoes if you have more people to feed. This applies to all the ingredients.
Mince 2 cloves (or more) or garlic
Lots of fresh herbs..I used the parsley, organo, and basil I have in my garden. But in a pinch you could use dried herbs too.
You can also add in about 1/4 of a red onion finely diced (I don’t always do this)
Generous salt and pepper
Tablespoon of sugar
3-4 Tablespoons of olive oil
A splash of balsamic vinegar (you could also use cider or wine vinegar or leave it out)

Now put everything into an air tight container and mix. Put the lid on tight. Put it outside in a sunny spot and leave it. ALL day. The flavours blend together and mellow and it is nice and warm.

Cook your favourite pasta. Penne, spirals, bowties, I like rigatoni because the chopped tomatoes get inside, and toss with the sauce.
Serve warm and topped with parmesan. OR you could serve with some feta and throw in some sliced black olives.
I think it would make a nice bruschetta topping too.

Any left overs are great the next day as a pasta salad.

And yes I was too busy enjoying this to remember to take a picture but try it you will like it.

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