Friday, July 31, 2009

Someone Stole My Idea!

It seems someone has stolen my Coffee Cup Art" idea!

Actually, check it out. This guy is pretty good. We share a medium, but our style is completely different.

Monday, July 20, 2009

I Need To Cool Off

You know what grinds my gears? Apartments in this city (Ottawa) advertise "All inclusive". Then they say "$x/month for Air Conditioning". Well, then it's not "all inclusive" is it?

Charging extra for Air Conditioning is such a sham. What's next? Charging for using the stove?

I understand that air conditioners use a lot of power, but they're assuming that you're going to be using it a lot. How do they know how much you're going to use? They charge a flat rate.

This summer has been unseasonably cold. If the first half of this month continues, it will be the coldest July on record. Last week I heard, the average temperature was between 17 and 18 degrees. So the people who have air conditioning units probably aren't using them very much at all this summer. Yet, they're paying for them the same as though it was going up to 35 degrees everyday.

Consider this scenario: I live in an apartment with "all-inclusive" rent and being charged extra for my air conditioner. My next door neighbour moved in at the same time as me, so he pays the same rent. He also has an air conditioner, and he pays the same flat rate for it.

I don't have a television set. I have a laptop computer. I'm a vegetarian so I don't do a lot of cooking. I spend most of my day at work, and leave all my lights off at home. I spend the weekends out with friends. I enjoy the heat of summer, and set my air conditioner to keep the apartment at 25 degrees.

My neighbour has a plasma TV, which uses a lot of power. He has several computers he uses for gaming - a high power consuming activity, relatively speaking. He works from home, so he runs his lights, computer, etc. all the time. He loves foods of all kinds and cooks almost everyday. He enjoys his cool air, and he sets his air conditioner at 18 degrees. His social life exists in cyberspace, so he doesn't go out much. He's at home a lot.

Who uses more power? My neighbour. By a long shot. But we both pay the same amount.

Let's consider a second scenario. This scenario is almost exactly like the first, except my neighbour enjoys the heat and I don't. He doesn't even have an air conditioner. I do. I keep mine at 25 degrees. I run mine only at night.

Who uses more power overall? I'm not 100% certain, but I still think my neighbour does. Who's paying more? Me. How is that fair?! How is that right?!

Most places seem to charge a monthly fee of $10 for the air conditioner. Let's assume, for the sake of argument, that that's what it costs to run one on average: $10 per month.

When I lived in an all-inclusive apartment in Sault Ste. Marie, I got a notice saying that the management would only be paying $40 per month for electricity. Any electricity beyond that would have to be covered by the tenant.

I asked my landlord how close I was to the $40. He said "pffft! You're nowhere near that! You're at, like, $12 per month."

So, assuming a $10 per month cost of running an air conditioner, if I had installed one, my power usage would have have been $22 per month. About half of my monthly allotment. If they had that air conditioner fee, then I would have been paying an extra $10, with an unused portion of my electricity bill of $28 per month. What a rip!

Of course, my whole rant depends on my assumption that apartment buildings are charging for air conditioning what it actually costs, and not just charging an extra fee that barely covers the cost of air conditioning.

Can anybody here tell me how much it actually costs to cool a one bedroom apartment in the Ottawa area?

Friday, July 17, 2009

I Hope This Class-Action Suit Really Takes Off

If you fly Air Canada much, you may be aware that a few years ago, Aeroplan announced that if you didn't use your points, or add to them in the span of a year, you'd lose them.

Ouch. That's worse than the time Bell Mobility announced that they would be charging for incoming text messages.

That's just bad business. I'm a believer in the free market economy. May the best businesses prosper, and may the worst business go under!

Instead of going out of business, bad businesses can also suffer at the hands of our legal system when they drive a knife into the backs of their clients. According to today's article, that's whats happening to Groupe Aeroplan Inc. Some people are launching a class action lawsuit against Groupe Aeroplan Inc..

Way to go, gang! Stick it to the man!

Friday, July 10, 2009

United Breaks Guitars

When I lived in Toronto, I worked for two airlines: Air Canada and Air Transat. I did the same job for both airlines. Most of the work consisted of getting luggage onto and off of aeroplanes. As a pilot wannabe, working there was awesome.

There was a huge difference working for the two airlines. At Air Transat, Fragile stickers meant nothing. Soon after I started working there, someone asked me why I wasn't throwing a guitar case like I did for the rest of the baggage.

Me: It's a guitar. It's easily damaged.

Him: Is that your guitar?

Me: No.

Him: Then why do you care?

I heard that line many times about many fragile items. One day, someone was bringing crates of olive oil back from overseas. Each crate had a Fragile sticker on it. The guys were just put them on the belt-loader like other baggage: with no care as to the fragile state of it's contents. The crates started falling over, breaking open and spilling olive oil all over the place.

Passengers in the terminal saw this and started taking pictures and making gestures to us. A few of the guys made some other more obscene gestures to the passengers.

I've seen the people riffle through passengers bags, helping themselves to whatever they wanted. I saw blatant damaging of office equipment.

Always lock your luggage.

Air Transat was like a company run by Jr. Highers on their way to Juvie.

Actually, I should clarify. I didn't actually work for Air Transat. I worked for a company called Haycott Services that was partially owned by Air Transat. Haycott was contracted to work on the ramp, and do cabin service for Air Transat. I always say I worked for Air Transat because nobody knows what Haycott Services is.

Haycott Services was like a company run by Jr. Highers on their way to Juvie.

When I started at Air Canada, I would hear things like "Woah! Be careful with that! It's Fragile!" Air Canada was a dream. It was one of the best jobs I've ever had. Air Canada was a company run by grown-ups.

One of my favourite bands, Sons of Maxwell, had an incident with United Airlines. One of the singers/songwriters, Dave Carroll, saw the ramp guys throwing guitar cases around as they were offloading the aeroplanes. When he got his guitar back, it was broken. United Airlines wouldn't acknowledge any wrong-doing or responsibility, and wouldn't pay for any damages.

So, Dave Carroll wrote three songs, and made a video out of one and put it on YouTube, seen here:

Way to go, Dave! It's really sad. It also doesn't help the rest of us when we get screwed over by a large organization. Most of us can't write and perform great songs with videos to stick it to the man. In a way, Dave, you're doing this for all of us. Everyone who's ever been jerked around by an airlines is behind you.

There should be two more videos coming. The idea is to get people to vote for their favourite. He wants to get one million hits in one year. This video came out 4 days ago. As of writing this, it's already up to 1 351 943 views.

Apparently, Dave is in talks with United to right the wrongs. I'd imagine part of that settlement will include Dave discontinuing his United-bashing. That would be somewhat unfortunate because he's a great songwriter. I love how this song doesn't cloud the message with metaphor. "United Breaks Guitars". Pretty simple, basic, and obvious. No hidden messages there. An English teacher's nightmare.

Of course, he'll probably only be offered the $3500 from United. But these videos will put him and Sons of Maxwell on the map, so to speak. He's going to get a real jump in fame due to these videos.

When I went to see Sons of Maxwell in concert, it was pretty small and intimate. At the end of the concert Dave announced he'd be at the CD table. So I went over and talked with him for about five minutes. How cool is that! When was the last time you went to a concert and got to talk to the musicians afterwords?

If Sons of Maxwell significantly increase their fame from this incident, then the next time I see them in concert, they might be too big to be able to talk to them. :( There'll be too many people.

Just kidding. I'd rather see them get the fame they deserve. I wish them (Dave Carroll and Sons of Maxwell) all the best.

Monday, July 06, 2009

Busy Month at Chez McQueens - Wrap-Up

At the beginning of the month, I blogged about how busy the month of June would be at the McQueen's house. I listed the following things packed into the month:
  1. BBQ with our Care Group;
  2. Re-shingling the roof;
  3. Pastor Jack's brother, sister, and her three young boys visiting for about a week;
  4. Jane's friend (and her cat) coming to stay the night;
  5. My parent's coming for a weekend;
  6. My dying of Swine Flu;
  7. I forgot to mention Robin's graduation, but it happened in June.

I'll recap each of these things in turn.
  1. BBQ with our Care Group
    We had a whole bunch of people over. They all brought food, and left behind what wasn't eaten. We used disposable dishes, so we didn't have any dishes to do. We were able to have the left-overs for dinner the next day, which is my day for cooking. So I was happy.

  2. Re-shingling the roof
    This is where the real craziness begins. Bruce and I were up on the roof with Jack. We went downstairs to get some breakfast/lunch. Aurthur stopped by to help out. He and Jack were up on the roof while we were taking a break. Then we heard a crash and Jack yelling. We ran outside to find Jack lying on the ground with his foot intermingled with the ladder. We called 911. As we were running around getting things ready for Jack to go to the hospital, Wendy stepped on a rusty nail. So, when we got to the hospital, Jack was checked in, and Wendy checked in for her punctured foot.

    In the end, Wendy's foot was easily taken care of. Jack needed surgery. He has crutches now, and a wheel chair. He's going to be off his feet for a while now. This turn of events is most unfortunate. The day that happened was the same day that...

  3. Pastor Jack's brother, sister, and her three young boys visiting for about a week
    As Wendy, Jack, and I were at the hospital, Jack's brother, sister, and her three boys arrived at the house. The boys had done some growing since I saw them last. The oldest was able to really help out. Besides finishing off the roof, they were able to help with a number of other projects around the house. We had a great time when they were here, but I got to bed late every night during that time. It was tiring, nevertheless.

  4. Jane's friend (and her cat) coming to stay the night
    We had to pick Jane's friend up, bring her, and her cat, over to our house, then return her the following morning so she could be there for some people coming to help her move in. She was to sleep in Jane's room, and leave the cat in the basement - Bruce's room.

    Once I reminded the pertinent people that Bruce was allergic to cats, we worked out another solution. Because Jack wasn't fully mobile, he was sleeping on a bed in the living room. Wendy was sleeping on a couch in the living room. Bruce, Robin, and I were in our own rooms. Jane slept in her parent's bedroom. Jane's friend, and her cat, stayed in Jane's room.

    The only real problem was the miscommunication. Jane's friend thought that we lived near her apartment in Ottawa's west end. We live far away from there. We live east of Ottawa. So, to pick her up was an hour away. By the time they got back to the house that night, I was asleep. I didn't wake up the next morning until they left.

  5. My parent's coming for a weekend
    This gave me the chance to take a break from the craziness of the McQueen house. I spent an afternoon getting sloshed with a building filled with single women. In fact, they were all sisters. My Aunt was celebrating her 50th anniversary as a nun. There was wine. I'm a cheap drunk. Okay. I didn't get drunk. In fact, they put me at the kid's table! They didn't have any wine there! They didn't even come around with the coffee or tea!

  6. Me dying of Swine Flu
    It hasn't happened yet. But it's coming.

  7. Robin's graduation
    I was happy it was a small class. Except for the awards at the end, it hardly took any time. First they handed out the diplomas and mentioned certain awards and scholarships. In my graduation they announced things like "And Joe will be receiving a $500 scholarship to Dalhousie University." At Robin's school they said things like "And Joe will be receiving a gift certificate to the Lucky 7." The Lucky 7 is a restaurant in Embrun.

    You know obesity is becoming a problem when your kid gets a scholarship to a restaurant.

    Afterwords, they handed out other awards and scholarships. This part lasted approximately 3 days to finish. The class size was less than one hundred. I stopped counting the awards after eighteen thousand. Anyway, Robin cleaned up. I think she got five of those awards. Go Robin!!

Now that that's over with, we can get back to our normal level of craziness. Of course, Jack is still not on his feet.

Jack's not scheduled to preach anywhere for the next few Sundays, so we'll check out more churches. Of course, to find new churches, we'll use our favourite search engines; Google, Yahoo! and AltaVista.

Friday, July 03, 2009

You Can't Help Yourself Because Your Self Sucks

According to today's article, Self-Help books that tell you to repeat mantras like "I am a lovable person" do not work for people with low self-esteem, (LSE) and only marginally work for those with high self-esteem (HSE).

I suspect they don't work for those with LSE because as they're chanting those they're thinking about how they're not true. It brings to the forefront of their minds how much of a lovable person they're not. Then they feel worse.

I suspect the reason a great many other self-help books don't work is that people who read them don't actually put them into practise. Reading a book won't fix your life. Doing what the book says might. Years ago I read The Wealthy Barber - a small, easy to understand, book about finances. I have yet to do anything suggested in that book.

Will Ferguson wrote a novel called "Happiness" about a self-help book that actually works. Everyone gets rich, looses weight, follows their dreams, and embraces the things they can't change. Hilarious.

BTW: Today's title is one of the best lines from the movie School for Scoundrels with Billy Bob Thornton and Jon Heder (a.k.a. Napoleon Dynamite).