Car in snow Snowed in ::::

It all began with a snowfall… A very heavy snowfall, to be exact. After weeks of experiencing pain from Piriformis Syndrome (a fancy way of…

Sunshine and roses? ::::

Lately I’ve been feeling that I am on a path to greater self-awareness and happiness. As such, I’ve been doing a lot of reading, mostly…

Driving games ::::

I’m not sure about the rest of you, but when I’m driving my car on the highway or I’m stopped at a traffic light, I…

Perhaps North Grenville veterans getting kicked out of their homes could live in the vacant homes expensed by senators? ::::

I have a little problem with how our municipal, provincial, and federal governments spend and distribute taxpayers’ money when it comes to housing. I’ve watched…

Lone little shreddie A Shreddie, a mouse, and a washing machine ::::

So, last week I was a little creeped out when I arrived home to discover a Shreddie in the middle of my kitchen floor. Now,…

Hypercolor Time to get hyper? ::::

For those of you of my generation (yes, I’m revealing how old I am by this statement), you will remember the hypercolor t-shirts of our…

Random remembrances ::::

Remember the ice storm of 1998? I sure do! I remember that I was still living at home with my parents in the country. We…

My ol’ “Bessie” ::::

To my dear 13-year-old Honda, I am so proud of you for making it this far. Before Christmas you threatened to give up on me,…

Blam it! ::::

So, in the spirit of social media (and with the help of my brother), I decided to play around and create this website. I haven’t…

Cuba 2013 ::::

Snowed in

Car in snow
Jan. 06.
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By Laurie | Posted in Ramblings |

Sunshine and roses?

Nov. 24.
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By Laurie | Posted in Ramblings |

Driving games

Sep. 30.
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By Laurie | Posted in Ramblings |

Perhaps North Grenville veterans getting kicked out of their homes could live in the vacant homes expensed by senators?

Sep. 02.
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By Laurie | Posted in Ramblings |

Tagged: ,

A Shreddie, a mouse, and a washing machine

Lone little shreddie
Aug. 19.
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By Laurie | Posted in Ramblings |

Time to get hyper?

Hypercolor
Aug. 07.
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By Laurie | Posted in Ramblings |

Random remembrances

Jul. 26.
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By Laurie | Posted in Ramblings |

My ol’ “Bessie”

Jul. 15.
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By Laurie | Posted in Ramblings |

Blam it!

May. 13.
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By Laurie | Posted in Ramblings |

Cuba 2013

Apr. 23.
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By Laurie | Posted in Ramblings |

Apr. 23.

Helpful tips to remember when you travel to Cuba and visit a two-star resort

  1. Be wary of the food you leave on your plate after you’re done eating. Sometimes the servers will remove leftover food from your plate, transfer it to a cloth napkin, fold it up and place it in a drawer. There is much speculation regarding whether or not the food is placed back into the buffet, or if the server is saving it for later for the serving staff and/or family members. As such, whenever you eat a meal, you should also drink some rum with it.
  2. If it rains, the windows will leak. A lot. All over the floor. And towels are hard to come by. If this happens, you should jump and splash around in the puddles while drinking rum.
  3. You will encounter very interesting and entertaining clientele that frequent the resort. If you’re interested in getting to know this clientele better, remember to bring some loose change along with you to purchase their services. You’ll need to drink some – correction – a LOT of rum afterward.
  4. In the restaurants, you should serve your own beverages. If a server offers to bring you a beverage, decline. If there is no other choice, then watch the server carefully to ensure they don’t do a ‘sip and slip’, otherwise known as tasting the beverage to make sure the beverage machine is working, and then serving the same glass to you. Just in case you get served a glass someone else has had a drink out of, it’s best to make sure that the glass contains rum.
  5. If you eat meat, be aware that the meat you’re eating may not be what you think it is. Don’t think about it too hard. And don’t ask anyone what the meat is. It’s best not to know. The thing that helps the most here is to drink some more rum.
  6. With all the coconuts available nearby it’s hard to believe, but for some reason it is impossible to find a pina colada at a two-star resort in Cuba. It is also rare to find fruit juice. You can sometimes find watered-down iced tea masquerading as fruit juice, and of course there’s lots of Tang. You must remember that no matter what you put with it, the most important part of the drink is the rum.
  7. Ham and cheese – mmmmm, ham and cheese. If you don’t like ham and cheese, don’t go to Cuba. You can always skip the food while you’re there, though, and just drink rum.
  8. In Cuba, it will feel like you’ve travelled back in time. The cars are from the fifties and some of the people you encounter are still in the eighties. If you see a man on the beach, rocking out with a ‘boombox’ on his shoulders, or if you see a man with a dreadlocked-mullet-rattail, you know you’re in the right place. Ask them to join you for a glass of rum while leaning on the hood of a ’57 Chevy.
From this list, I’m sure you can tell what the most important thing to remember is when visiting Cuba.
The beach! Enjoy the beach.

Mirror
Apr. 21.

Driving lesson 101

My rant for the day – here’s a list I’ve compiled of types of drivers I encounter on a regular basis. Perhaps you’ve noticed these driving patterns as well?
The Off-Roader – the adventurous driver, usually of a jeep or sport utility vehicle, who thinks the best way to get around traffic is to drive over the curb and median at an intense rate of speed with no hope of making it through the left turn signal in time. This action results in them screeching to a halt at the traffic light, much to the annoyance of those around them whose cars were almost sideswiped.
The Cautious one – the one who slams on the brakes every few feet to avoid hitting what can only be imaginary squirrels.
The Impatient one – the one who passes on the shoulder just because it’s available and they feel that they shouldn’t have to wait. Also known as taxi drivers and business people holding Bluetooth conference calls while driving.
The Dozer – the one who periodically nods off while driving on the highway. Once you pass them at a more acceptable rate of speed, it reminds them to go faster so they speed up and keep pace with you or tailgate you, then pass you, until they doze off again and the whole cycle starts anew.  Also known as the driver who likes to play “Tag.”
The Bumper-Cuddler – the one who approaches from behind you quickly, but instead of passing when there’s a passing lane, decides instead to cuddle your rear bumper with their front bumper.
The Slow-on-the-Draw one – the one who sits through a green light, only to realize while it’s turning yellow that it was green, then accelerates swiftly so that they make it through at the last second, but you get stuck sitting through the next red light. Also known as The Texter.
The Oblivious one – the one who doesn’t check their mirrors and pulls out in front of you in the passing lane while you slam on the brakes to avoid hitting them; they don’t notice how narrowly they’ve escaped an accident, and continue along at a slow rate of speed completely oblivious to the fact that they are keeping pace with the car next to them in the slow lane, while a lineup of cars builds up behind them.
The Intimidator – the one who flies up behind you in the fast lane at a tremendous pace, honks the horn, and makes wild arm gestures to try to get you to move faster, even though there are other cars in front of you and you can’t. I have a theory that Intimidators secretly wish to breed other Intimidators, and would like the system to work in a chain reaction format – for example, the last car in the chain intimidates the one in front of it, which intimidates the one in front of it, and so on and so forth until the first car speeds up or moves out of the way. (Note: This first car is likely The Oblivious one.)
The Indecisive one – the one who is trying to determine whether they should cross or turn onto the road in front of you; you see them, they see you, you’ve achieved eye contact so they know you’re coming and they know the rate of speed at which you’re approaching … and they still choose to pull out in front of you at the last second.
Ahhh, the joys of driving in our city.

Apr. 21.

Time to giggle…

Funniest moments of my day (so far, at least):
(1) Pull up behind car at red traffic light
(2) Notice that the mom and son in the car ahead of me are seriously rocking out and car-dancing
(3) Browse radio stations to find out if the song they’re listening to is on the radio
(4) Find song they are listening to
(5) Start trying to out-car-dance them
(6) Fail miserably because I don’t have my sister-in-law and niece with me
(7) Admire their technique even more
(8) Laugh my butt off
*sigh* It’s the little things…

Apr. 21.

You’re not enough! Don’t worry, there’s a product for that.

So, here’s my rant for the day … What I’ve realized about marketing is that companies that want to sell you something always create an image of how you should be, what you should look like, what makes you valuable as a person (and the companies are the ones defining ‘valuable’). I’m always fascinated by the cycle of promotions every year. Prior to the Christmas holiday season, we are bombarded with internet ads, and television and radio commercials advertising toys, clothing, jewellery, decorations, food; and the list goes on and on. The subliminal (and sometimes not-so-subliminal) messages are: if you’re a good host or hostess, you’ll serve this food and decorate your home in this manner; if you’re a good spouse, you’ll buy your partner this jewellery; if you’re a good friend, you’ll give only this brand of card; if you’re a good parent, you’ll buy your kids this toy or electronic gadget; you have to look fabulous when you go out with friends and family, so you have to wear this brand of clothing; to show you truly value your family, you will only take them to this specific restaurant; if you really love her, you’ll buy her this brand of chocolates. Indulge, indulge, indulge!
Then the holidays pass, and the message changes. You ate too much over the holidays, and wow, now you’re overweight! You really need to purchase a gym membership! You need to try this diet shake because you overindulged so much at all the parties. You should feel really guilty for everything you consumed and did over the holidays! How dare you? Guilt, guilt, guilt! Now is your time to feel better about the choices you made then, and the only way to do that is by buying even more products – this electronic gadget will help you lose weight; this cream will get rid of that nasty cellulite; this undergarment will hide all those bumps and lumps because we wouldn’t want your natural body to show through your clothing. See this girl? Yes, we know we airbrushed the photo, but we want to remind you that you don’t look like this girl. Yes, we realize that she doesn’t look like that either, but you’re not supposed to think about that. You should only think about looking like this girl, and the only way you can achieve that is if you buy this brand of makeup, or if you stop eating real food, and eat only this diet breakfast bar instead. See this airbrushed photo of an athletic man? Yes, you too can look like him if you drink this protein shake or take this fat-burning pill.
Just as we start to feel better about our feelings of guilt, the next marketing phase will kick in reminding us that it’s time to indulge again. If you’re a good partner, you really need to buy jewellery and chocolates and romantic getaways for Valentine’s Day. Then after we indulge in treats over Valentine’s Day, we are bombarded again with the guilt and the ‘you’re not worthy’ messages. We are reminded again that swimsuit season is coming and we really should go out and get our fake tans, our manicures and pedicures, and start dieting again to look good in that swimsuit. And remember, the only way to attract somebody and gain companionship is to drive this particular convertible.
I realize that this is the world we live in, that companies need to find some way to sell their products, that we all ‘need’ some products to a certain extent, and we all enjoy having treats every now and then, but I just get tired of the indulge/guilt cycle that marketers use to manipulate people. It has a huge impact, especially on children’s self-esteem and feelings of self-worth; and I get annoyed that I fall prey to it myself sometimes too. We’re all aware that it’s marketing, but the volume of ads affects us, whether we like it or not. It’s nice to show your family members and friends that you care, but it doesn’t always come from a store. Hell, the most romantic thing for me is when someone cleans the snow and ice off my car after a bad storm. Yes, you can be fit and healthy and look great, but it doesn’t depend on a product. It’s you and your state of mind that make the difference! Okay, my long, rambling rant is over; thanks for reading! ☺

Apr. 21.

Why Tim Ferriss is my hero

Okay, so maybe he’s not my hero, but I do admire him a great deal. How many people can use social media so effectively, successfully market themselves and their products, and still come across as an approachable guy-next-door who isn’t out to rip you off?

Tim Ferriss is the author of The 4-Hour Workweek, The 4-Hour Body, and The 4-Hour Chef (http://www.fourhourworkweek.com/blog/). I am fascinated with his success, both as an author and as a person. He is the perfect example of personal branding through the use of social media. He’s created a blog and a huge following of loyal viewers and readers because he’s willing to be a guinea pig and test things out before he recommends them to others, plus he’s able to look at new ways of ‘playing within the rules’.

I first heard about Tim Ferriss from my brother, who told me over and over again that I had “to read this book!” and he gave me his copy and forced me to read The 4-Hour Workweek. I read the book when I was particularly relaxed, lying on a local beach while on vacation two summers ago, and I thought I could definitely get used to working four hours a week and incorporating more beach time into my life. Why wait for retirement? Make your work as efficient as possible, learn as much as you can, and enjoy your life now! While I haven’t transitioned to working only four hours in a week, I have incorporated some of Tim’s philosophies into my life. (Proof of this is the photo of my recent trip to Cuba. I could definitely get accustomed to travelling to sunny countries when we have three feet of snow at home! Although next time I think I will stay at a resort with a rating higher than 2-stars…watching the server take a drink from a glass and then serve it to a customer isn’t really my idea of quality service!)

In one of the videos on his blog entitled “How to Build a High-Traffic Blog Without Killing Yourself” (http://www.fourhourworkweek.com/blog/2009/06/29/how-to-build-a-high…) – sorry, it’s a long video but quite interesting! – Tim says he looks at his blog as a ‘laboratory’ that he uses for learning and sharing, and meeting new people. He also explains important tips for setting up a blog, including the importance of using proper wording, testing, tracking, and creating your own unique voice.

What I’ve learned from him is that it’s not about selling your product, in the old-fashioned slimy salesperson method of bombarding your audience with “Buy my product!” messages. Tim instead promotes his highly attractive concept of lifestyle design by posting blogs regularly on his site offering free, interesting, fun, and sometimes bizarre information to his viewers that they can implement anywhere. His products are part of the site, but the main attraction is the free information he provides in the thought-provoking blogs that he writes. He promotes writing what you’re passionate about, not what your readers want you to write about.

While I don’t agree with everything Tim does (check out this link to how he became the Chinese Kickboxing National Championships gold medalist: http://www.martialdevelopment.com/blog/how-to-win-kickboxing-wrong/), I do enjoy reading his blog to be given a different perspective.

So, it begs the question, what is an ‘ideal’ lifestyle? If you were designing your ideal life, what would it look like? Are you living it now? If not, what’s stopping you? If so, how did you get there?

Now … I’m off to try and get all of my work for this week done in the next four hours! 😉

Apr. 21.

Feeling disconnected in a technologically ‘connected’ world

You’re out at lunch and you check your cell phone to see what time it is. There’s an unread email message waiting for you, so you read it quickly. You might as well because your lunch companion is answering an urgent work message herself. You both place your phones on the table and start a face-to-face conversation. The message light on one telephone starts to blink. The other phone starts to vibrate when a text comes in and interrupts the conversation.

In an age when we are so connected technologically, how is it possible to be so disconnected personally? I’m sure you’ve seen the cartoons where there are four people sitting together at a table and all four are staring at their cell phones and not interacting with each other. I prefer the ‘phone-stacking’ idea, where all dinner guests stack their phones on the table and the first person to check his or her phone pays the bill: http://techcrunch.com/2012/02/04/the-phone-stacking-game-lets-make-…

This form of ‘connected disconnectedness’, is my pet peeve. I love Social Media – I like seeing pictures of my friends in their happy moments, photos of their most recent vacations, hear their funny stories or angry rants, or stay up-to-date on how their families are growing and changing, or what new projects their companies are working on. It’s amazing to be able to connect with people around the world who you would never normally be able to correspond with.

The part about Social Media that I do not like is when I’m with someone and they post on Facebook “Out at lunch with Laurie.” That‘s great! If you’re out having lunch with me, then have lunch with me and put the phone away. I prefer to enjoy the moment, live the experience, and if it’s really noteworthy, I’ll comment on it after the fact. Alternatively, if I’m really anticipating an event, I’ll make it known ahead of time, but when it’s time for the actual experience of the event, I want to be ‘in it’ – and not feel like a weird detached voyeur. It’s almost like videotaping a wedding – you know you were there, you know you saw it, but you saw it through a lens instead of living the moment directly through your own eyes with nothing interfering in between.

How is it possible that we can feel so disconnected? People choose what their tweets, blog posts, status updates, etc., are going to say; some may be spur of the moment, but most go through a filtering process of some kind, so we are only seeing the side of people that they want us to see. This can be true for ‘in-person’ meetings, too; however, in person there is a closeness and connectedness that social media will never be able to provide. Body language like facial expressions, hand gestures, and eye contact all establish a personal connection.

I find it fascinating that through various apps, technological devices, and networks, a person can be ‘connected’ and yet still be completely alone. Consider the app for the iPhone called Siri (http://www.apple.com/ca/ios/siri/). You can ask Siri where the nearest coffee shop is and she’ll tell you. She’ll search your email for you. She will have a conversation with you. She’s basically your very own personal assistant – she’ll do what you ask (within the limits of technology, of course) instantaneously and without questioning. I recognize the importance of Siri from a Social Media perspective; the app makes it easier to post tweets and status updates (http://socialfresh.com/how-to-use-siri-for-social-media-management/), but why correspond with a real person when you can get things done quickly and easily through a device?

It’s scary that a person sitting alone in their living room in front of their computer can have hundreds of ‘friends’ on a social network, without ever having to see them or talk to them in person. It begs the question: if you’re connected technologically, are you really ‘connected’? How do we stay connected technologically, but still be connected on a personal level?