Thursday, March 30, 2017

Power outages

Everyone has to deal with power outages from time to time and it is something that we just deal with and understand that they don’t happen too often. I know when I was growing up we had power outages in Toronto that would last for hours and we just got into the happen of dealing with them. Now a days power outages don’t happen as frequently and normally they don’t last as long except when it is due to major failures or ice storms.

This is being written just after we had a power outage in our neighbourhood and I have to say that I am glad that we don’t get them very often. My parents who don’t live too far from us get them more often but again they are the ones that don’t last very long but just long enough that all the clocks and electronics need to be corrected. I understand that no everyone is going to be happy when there is a power outage but it is something that you just have to deal with.

Our most recent power outage happened on a Sunday morning and of course when you live in an apartment building there are going to be things that just don’t work as well without power and one of those is water. Yes, if you live up a few floors the water requires pressure to come up to the units so without power the water is going to stop flowing so one of the first things you need when you lose power is to ensure that you have some drinking water handy. For us as we weren’t sure how long the power was going to be out we quickly filled a couple of the water bottles that we take to the gym with us so we had some water handy. Another issue is that the elevators go down to one elevator and that is on the emergency generator so it is something you have to figure may not last the entire outage if the outage is extremely long. These are the common sense issues that you deal with when their is no power in an apartment building.

This last outage was about an hour and a half but shortly after it happened there was a knock on our unit door and I figured it must be the women from across the hall and sure enough it was. She was checking to see if we had power but I am not sure why because she had just been downstairs to check about the situation. As I was standing at the door of the unit she was complaining that we only had one elevator and it was wrong. Also she said that the assistance supers had said they might have to turn that one off as well. The elevator would be staying on as long as the emergency generator had power as it is required that one be working even in a power outage.

Something else that the women was complaining about was she couldn’t check the website to see if Toronto Hydro was saying anything about the issue in our neighbourhood because she didn’t have internet. Well, to have internet you need power so yes it would be difficult to check it from a computer even if it was a laptop or tablet. I had my mobile device in my hand and from right after I saw the power outage I was checking both twitter and the Toronto Hydro outage page for any updates so I let her know that there wasn’t anything on either of these two spots. She complained about how any power outages we had and some of them are hours long. I am not sure what she was talking about because we don’t have very many power outages compared to some of the other areas in Toronto.

After dealing with all of her comments we figured it might be time to escape as we hadn’t had a coffee yet and by this time it was 45 minutes into the power outage and we weren’t sure how long it was going to be. Yes, leaving the unit we decided it would be best to just walk down the stairs so that we didn’t have to deal with waiting for the one elevator and also it was good exercise. We stopped by the first floor to check if there were any updates and there weren’t but at least we found about it was a larger area than just our apartment or even our neighbourhood.

The end result was the power was out for about an hour and a half, so yes longer than lot of the power outages but still not bad. We got some running around done that we were wanting to do and we had some coffee so overall we accomplished things. Power outages are something that you deal with when they happen and you also have to appreciate that compared to years ago the power outages we deal with now are so much shorter and less frequent.

Monday, March 27, 2017

Conferences and other events

We were recently at a conference and I had the opportunity to listen to a group of guys talk about why they go to the various events that they go to. It was something to hear as the conversation shed some like as to why we see some of them at some events and not other events. We are very picky as to which events we go to because they do take you away from the office and also away from your clients. For us we are still available through our mobile devices but not so quick to respond to things that require the information that is on our computers or for connecting into the various sites.

Here are some of the reasons that I heard why do you go to a conference or event:
  • It’s free – that seems to be very important to some of the group of guys because they wouldn’t go to an event if they had to pay to attend.
  • Has vendor area – the vendor area for some of us is a great networking area and a place to see what is new in the market place. For the guys it is a spot where they can pick up the numerous freebies that are being handed out (t-shirts, pens, chargers, notebooks, etc). I am not sure how many of any of these items you can really use.
  • Food – now this is something that I found interesting. The guys were saying it is very important to know which events are going to be providing food especially lunch and breakfast or dinner at the event. Yes, the food seemed to be one of the things that was key to if they attended or not.
  • Reception – at some events there is a networking reception and that is where you can mix and mingle with other attendees and also the presenters and vendors. There are times where you will get drink tickets and then there are times that is is open bar (wine and beer) and sometimes there is even snacks available. This was another important factor if this group attended or not because without this why bother.

Again these are the observations that I got from listening to a group of guys talk about going to the various conferences and events. They were also sitting and comparing the different events that they were either invited to attend or knew about and then they would spend each other emails with the information. Yes, it seemed like they were trying to make sure that they had lots of various events to attend so that they didn’t have to worry about meals.

One point that did almost make me laugh was when one guy said that free events were ok but if he could do a focus group instead he would. Now focus groups are normally for someone that has an interest/opinion in a specific topic, store, or such. To this guy it was a means of making some money and he didn’t care if he was interested in the topic or not as long as he got paid to attend.

In summary what I found out after listening to this group of guys is that they only attend events where there are things for free. Meals, drinks and giveaways are the top items on their list and if it is just a meeting where you sit and listen to talks and maybe get a meal they are less interesting. See to them the actual giveaways either through the vendor areas or prizes are the end are what they are looking for. To me, I am not going to go to a conference based on the meals, drinks or giveaways but will go if the conference will assist me in some way with our business.

Monday, March 20, 2017

Wants, needs and everything in between

We have all heard a child say to their parent that they need something because they just couldn’t live without it. Of course, these items are normally something that will be quickly replaced or put aside when the next thing is spotted by the child. Sure we all have things that we want and even for adults there are times when you thought that item was something you really wanted only to purchase it and discover that it really wasn’t what you expected.

Now needs are something that we all deal with those are the things like food, clothing, shelter and such. I am trying to define the difference between a want and a need to illustrate something that I noticed lately about some people and their definition of a need.

Walking through a mall is a great way to listen to some interesting conversations to hear how people explain to someone else an item that they need. Yes, it’s a need because they just can’t live without this item and they are willing to pay whatever the cost is for this item because it’s new and they need to have it. Life depends on having this item because without it life just isn’t work living. So yes, I am talking about things like the designer purses and the latest and greatest mobile device. Would life not be worth living without these items, I can clearly state that yes you can live without all these things because before long something else will come along to replace that latest and greatest item.

Sure we all enjoy having those special things and I am just like everyone else that enjoying having some of those items but really it comes done to what is more important in life. We have a lot of nice things around us and I admit that but the latest and greatest isn’t something that I really want. I don’t have the designer purses because for one thing they don’t seem to last any longer than any other purse or at least they don’t last for me. I have bought the expensive purses only for the handles to break or the zipper breaks and that’s the end of that purse. Maybe other issue for me is that the designer purses aren’t particular for someone that carries either a tablet or convertible computer with her most of the time.

We have been spending some time lately looking for some new window coverings for my office where at home and we have discovered what we want and also what we need. My want is something particular that will do the job and not be something that is super expensive because in a couple of years I may not like the curtains that we purchased. Also there are times when buying something that is going to last for years is great and these are the bigger items like the chesterfield and television and other furniture items and yes they are worth spending more money on. Curtains and items like that for me are things that I am not going to spend lots of money on especially because they are things that can be replaced when you get tired of them. My want and need for the window coverings are similar for this item because I want something that will do the job and I need something to cover the window. I don’t need the designer fabric or the designer rod.

Wants and needs can change over time and it is something we all place a different value on. Sure that purse can be a need for someone but for me it isn’t even a want. When you are out shopping next time listen to some of the conversations and hear what some people say they need and why they need it. You may learn a lot about what people put a value on, and you may also see how you explain the items that you are looking at and the different between a want and a need.

Thursday, March 16, 2017

Why has life got so complicated?

There are times when I would really like to do things the simple way. Things like watching tv has become such a challenge for some people now. The basic turning on the television and selecting the station to watch isn't available anymore. The remote is no longer simple thanks to all the new features that are available we think some of the channels now. Sure for some of the younger generation the new remotes may make sense but to the older generation it can be a challenge. A remote is now something that has intelligence built in until the system changes and that intelligence is now out of date.

I am talking about the television remotes because we recently had to help my parents with an issue with their cable. What ends up being the issue was my dad decided to try and resolve the problem himself instead of just asking for help. The fit he tried was to use some documentation for the remote that came with the tv before cable was on a digital box. Now the fit that he did meant they couldn't get any channel and the picture was larger than the actual tv screen because this was zoomed by 25%. So no wonder the tv wasn't working because the remote function had changed and the written instructions were outdated. The written instructions were torn up and removed to ensure they couldn't be used again.

I think so many things that we do now are a lot more complicated than when I was younger. Cars now have lots of screens and difference devices to assist you in parking and checking your blind spots and even driving the car for you to ensure you are not in an accident. These features do sound wonderful inside ways until there is an issue with one of these features. Imagine going on a driving vacation using all of these great features only for one of them to malfunction. The car that could do everything from you without you having to think about anything now doesn't work and you no longer know how to get places and are stuck. Yes, the simple skill of basic driving may become something that people don't know how to do because the car will do it for them and the driver becomes a passenger in a vehicle.

The simple skills that some of us grew up knowing are going away. Student are no longer learning how to write because everything is now done on either a computer, tablet, or mobile device. Students are no longer required to write out sentences by hand now they just enter everything on a device. Students are even learning how to spell like we did because the computer now has spell check to help with spelling or at least it tries to help until "auto correct" decides to enter a word that isn't what was meant. Math is something else that isn't being taught but like it was because all the cash registers and computers will give you the answer when it comes to providing change for a purchase. Good luck getting change when the system is programmed wrong or it just doesn't work or the person enters what you gave them incorrectly.

Maybe people think these different methods are making our life simpler but really it is making it that people no longer have to think and rationalize things. I would really like to have some things back to being simple and then let me decide what I want assistance with.

Monday, March 13, 2017


In Canada we have a do not call list where people can add their phone numbers and it is suppose to mean that you don’t get the telemarketers calling anymore. I don’t think it is working considering how many calls we receive.

The telemarketers have figured out a way of getting around the system and that is what is extremely frustrating. We have had phone calls from numbers that have the same exchange as our phone number and when you look up that number it is a residence. I am pretty sure that these people aren’t calling to sell the stuff these telemarketers are calling about. I know this because we have received calls from people complaining that we called them and just hung up. No, we are not telemarketers either but our phone number has been used to call other people. Sure, I know it isn’t our actual phone that is being used but the telemarketers have figured out a way for it to show up as someone else’s phone number and not their own.

Another method that they have been using is using area codes from the US and that is something else that is frustrating. Our Do Not Call List applies to phone numbers that are within Canada so now the telemarketers have figured out another method of frustrating all of us that are on the do not call list.

I have had a number of discussions with the various telemarketers when I ask to be removed from their list. I have been told that they don’t have to remove me because they don’t have a do not call list themselves. I have also been told that yes they will remove me but I continue to get the calls from the same phone number. The other thing that the telemarketers do is only let the phone ring 3 – 4 times because most answering machines answer after 4 rings. This means that if you aren’t home and you have call display you will see a list of the numbers that called and didn’t leave a message. Yes, a very good indication that they were telemarketers or my favourite call “Microsoft” telling me that my computer is sending out bad things over the internet.

Yes telemarketers have figured out a way to get around the Do Not Call list which I am not happy about but I also realize that if I can keep some of them talking about really nothing for a little bit it helps someone else. The less phone calls these people can make the less chance they have of hooking someone to give them information that they want. So next time you get one of those phone calls and it is from Microsoft or the duct cleaning service, ask them a few questions and see what happens. No, don’t give them any real information but keep them busy for even a couple of minutes to help prevent someone from being taken advantage of.

Thursday, March 9, 2017

Dealing with carpal tunnel syndrome

Carpal tunnel -- a painful condition of the hand and fingers caused by compression of a major nerve where it passes over the carpal bones through a passage at the front of the wrist, alongside the flexor tendons of the hand. It may be caused by repetitive movements over a long period, or by fluid retention, and is characterized by sensations of tingling, numbness, or burning.

Yes, carpal tunnel is a painful condition for anyone that is dealing with it. There are days when you feel like you can do all the normal things with your hands and then there are the days that the pain lets you know that you are going to be extremely limited and can’t do the things that you normally do. Yes, carpal tunnel is associated with repetitive motions such as typing or even a lot of crafts and sports or playing a musical instrument.

For some people if they have small tunnels in their wrists they are going to have a higher risk in developing carpal tunnel and I am one of those individuals. My wrists are extremely small and while having De Quervain's surgery on my thumb the specialist informed me that he would be seeing me again due to carpal tunnel in either one or both of my wrists. Yes, carpal tunnel can have not a lot to do with repetitive motions but in some cases such as mine it has to do with small tunnels in my wrists.

Carpal tunnel is something that I have been dealing with for a number of years. There are times when I am in a great deal of pain and then there are the times that I can do the regular things like everyone else. When the symptoms reappear I just have to be extremely careful with what I do and I hope that the pain will ease quickly and I can get back to a normal routine. I do wear the braces to bed quite often to ensure that I done curl my wrists when I am sleeping because when I don’t have the bases on there are nights that I wake up with the tingling sensation in the hands so I know I have been sleeping with my wrists in a bad position.

For me, dealing with carpal tunnel is something that I just have to deal with. I know that there may come a point where I might have to have surgery but until then I am going to try and be extremely careful to ensure I can avoid it. Sure, people have told me that my carpal tunnel is because of the computer work and crafting that I do. The things that I do may have been a little bit of the issue but the biggest part for me is having small tunnels in my wrists.

I am happy that my specialist let me know that I do have small tunnels because it made me aware to be extremely careful. When I write I ensure that I take breaks from the typing and when I craft I change up the crafts that I do and I also ensure I take breaks. Yes, carpal tunnel can be painful and there are days that the pain means that typing or doing anything is difficult for me but I manage it. Having a partner that understands the issue and helps me when I am having the bad days does help. Sure, I may end up having the surgery at some point but until then I will just make sure that I can careful and know what I can and can’t do.

Carpal tunnel may try and limit my abilities sometimes of doing things but I am determined that I am not doing to let it take over my life.

Monday, March 6, 2017

What a weird winter this is

For anyone that lives in Ontario you will understand what I am talking about. Our winter of 2017 has been a very odd winter so far and we still have about another month of what could be winter. Here it is the beginning of March and the snow piles that we see are very small and they are found in the parking lots of malls due to the large piles that were built up when the plows were needed in January.

Of course, we have had the snow falls like everyone else which is normal for us here but what we have also experienced is very warm weather for us. In February we just finished recording the warmest February in Toronto ever and that is because of our crazy weather. We have had days of +16 and more which is very odd for us in February. Sure we sometimes have one day like that which we all enjoy but this was the month where we had an unusual number of days over zero Celsius. For a month with 28 days we had 21 days of above zero and that was nice. Sure we had the days of +2 Celsius and that but when you see temperatures of +14 and +19 Celsius you know that is very unusual for us and we had three days like that.

Having the temperatures like we had does mean that the maple syrup sap has been running about three weeks earlier than normal which is great for them but now what are we going to be dealing with in March. It looks like we are still in for the roller coaster of temperatures if the -6 Celsius to the +10 Celsius forecast for the first week of March so it could be a very interesting march for us.

I am not complaining about the weather we have been having because I am one of those that really doesn’t like dealing with all the snow. I am not one of those that like all the winter sports so not having the snow really doesn’t bother me too much. I do know that there could be issues with water levels if we don’t have rain and such but we have also had rain in February. What is interesting is when we have thunder storms in February because of the temperatures instead of snow storms.

I am not sure how much more snow we are going to have this year but I have been enjoying the warmer weather. I don’t like when we have the -5 Celsius temperatures and a wind chill that brings the temperature down to around -16 Celsius but we really haven’t had many of those either so it is something that we can handle. My only real complaint is the temperature swing that we have had. We have gone from +13 Celsius one day to -5 Celsius the next and that does make it hard to handle.

We still have another month of winter ahead of us and will see what it is like. I hope that we are finished with the major snowfalls for this year. I don’t mind if it rains but we need the ground to thaw out some so that the rain just doesn’t run off. I guess I am going to have to wait for the ground to thaw for a little bit but I am seeing that spring is just around the corner and that makes me happy.

Thursday, March 2, 2017


Everyone has there own way of running meetings but there are times when just keeping them simple would make things so much easier. One of the biggest things that I see that individuals that run meetings forget is that the attendees need some time to review the agenda and the previous minutes before the meeting.

One point that is very important to know that it is recommended that agenda and previous minutes to meeting be sent out at least two days prior to the meeting. For one group that I attend meeting with we are lucky to get the minutes and agenda the morning of the meeting when the meeting is in the evening. This makes it extremely difficult to review everything and figure out the items that should be on your action plate.

Minutes from previous meetings should be sent out shortly after the meeting so that the attendees can review the minutes and take the action that is necessary for them. It is sometimes difficult to remember everything from a meeting that has been put on your action list when you are trying to listen to everything that is going on and also make sure that you have taken your own notes. Quite often the official minutes can help you remember the discussion a lot easier than your own notes.

Now the agenda is something that is very important when it comes to meetings. An agenda is the order of how things are going to be discussed. During the meeting it is very important to stick to the agenda as it keeps everyone on track and it is a lot easier for nothing to get missed. One meeting that I attend the agenda is not followed and it makes it extremely difficult to follow the meeting and remember what was said during it.

Minutes of meetings are also important. Minutes from meetings should be the notes of what was discussed in the meeting and not just a brief outline of the meeting. If someone has stated why something cannot be done at a given time it needs to be noted in the minutes along with the reason. Just saying that something isn’t going to be done doesn’t give the readers who were not at the meeting the reason.

Meetings are important in a lot of ways but making sure that everyone is prepared for the meeting is just as important. Minutes from previous meetings and agendas should arrive more than a day ahead of the meeting so that everyone is prepared. Follow the agenda and if new items need to be discussed they can be noted and discussed at the end of the meeting in the section of the agenda called “other business”.