Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Book ~ "Dig Your Well Before You're Thirsty : The Only Networking Book You'll Ever Need" - Harvey MacKay (2005)

From Amazon.com ~ Bestselling author, Harvey Mackay, reveals his techniques for the most essential tool in business--networking, the indispensable art of building contacts. It's his last word on how to get what you want from the world through networking. For everyone from the sales rep facing a career-making deal to the entrepreneur in search of capital, Dig Your Well explains how meeting these needs should be no more than a few calls away. This practical book distills Mackay's wisdom gleaned from years of "swimming with sharks," including:
  • What kinds of networks exist
  • How to start a network and how to wring the most from it
  • The smart way to downsize your list--who to keep, who to dump
  • How to keep track of favors done and favors owed--Is it my lunch or yours?
  • What you can do if you are not good at small talk
Dig Your Well Before You're Thirsty is a must for anyone who wants to get ahead by reaching out.

Good book to read on networking.

Focus Group Experience

I got a call last Wednesday night asking me if I'd be interested in being part of an upcoming focus group. $75 cash for two hours. Sure! The focus group chick asked me a bunch of questions and told me to be there tonight at 5:15. I've only done one focus group before and it was on terrorism. This one sounded more fun because she asked about my reading habits of magazines.

I showed up tonight and the guy at the desk wasn't expecting me. He called and discovered my group was last night. Huh?? So I called the number while I was there that I had been given and sure enough it was last night and I was a "no show". I advised the guy on the phone that I was told to come tonight ... no, I must have mistaken the day, he said. When the focus group chick told me the night last week, my initial response was that I'd have to miss the class at the gym that night ... and there is no class on Tuesday nights ... so I know I wasn't wrong about the day.

Plus, he said, three calls had been made on Monday and yesterday to remind me. Huh?? I assured him there had been no voice messages left and I confirmed he had my correct phone number.

His tone and implication that it was my fault pissed me off. So I told him that I'd skipped lunch, rearranged my day, left the office early and skipped my usual plans to be there. Would I do that on purpose??

Round and round we went. Finally he ask me what he could do about it. I'd gone there in good faith, there was a screw-up on their side ... because he was being such a dick, I told him I wanted to be compensated what I'd been promised. No, he couldn't do that. Round and round we went again.

I asked to speak to his supervisor. He told me he was the supervisor. I rephrased the question and asked for his boss' info, which he gave me.

When I got home tonight, I asked Gord if he'd forgotten to give me any messages. No messages. I checked our call display and there were two calls from this research group ... the initial one and one from yesterday morning ... but no message. So much for the three reminder calls!

I was sooooo pissed! Needless to say, I'll be making a call to his boss tomorrow. And it's not about the $$ ... it's about the guy's attitude. What ever happened to customer service??

Sunday, May 28, 2006

Book ~ "Marley & Me" - John Grogan (2005)

From Amazon.com ~ "Oh my. I don't think I've ever seen anything so cute in my life." Thus author Grogan's wife sealed their fate when they "just went to look" at a litter of Labrador retriever puppies and ended up picking out Marley. Maybe their first clue should have been that the breeder had discounted the price on their puppy, or when they saw his father charging out of the woods covered in mud with a crazed but joyous look in his eye. Despite these portents, Marley entered their lives, and nothing was ever the same again. Between careening through screen doors and swallowing everything that would fit in his mouth, Marley also managed to comfort these two when they miscarried their first child. Although Marley got kicked out of obedience training after he dragged the instructor across the parking lot and terrorized his pet sitter, he also landed a minor role in a straight-to-video movie. Marley, incorrigible though he was, had inserted himself into the author's life in a way no normal dog could. A warm, friendly memoir.

Excellent book! As a dog owner, I thoroughly enjoyed this story and could relate to many of the experiences they had.

Toronto Blue Jays 5, Chicago White Sox 7

To thank Mark and Monica for taking care of our boys a couple months ago, we invited them to join us at the Blue Jays game today. We stopped along the way at the Wheatsheaf before the game.


It was a good game, though the Jays lost 7 to 5. It was a great day for a game ... the sun was shining, the roof was open and there were 35,000+ in attendance. Our seats were in the second section above first base.


After the game, we stopped at the Wellington Pub patio for a drink. It's new and we look forward to going back to check out their menu as the food looked good. But because wings were half price at the Wheat Sheaf, we headed back there for supper.

Saturday, May 27, 2006

Great Markham Rodeo

We went to a Single Horizons' event this afternoon ~ the Great Markham Rodeo in Markham, just north of Toronto.

There were lots of vendors and we stayed for one of the shows. Surprisingly there was no beer tent. There is another show at 7:00 and then a couple concerts.

I'm not a big fan of rodeos (this is only the second one I've been to) as I hate seeing animals getting hurt. So I'm always cheering for the horses and calves! The events where the cowboy has to jump off his horse and wrestle a calf to the ground bother me. But I'm glad to see the calves jump up afterwards and run to the corral.

Bareback riding


The cowboy got bucked off ... yay!!


Junior calf riding

Calf roping ... not a big fan of this.
One cowboy ropes the calf's horns and then the other ropes it's back legs :(

KC's fav season


The nice weather is here finally!

For KC, that means we spend a lot of time out on the terrace ... which means she gets to lay on the step and watch the world go by.

Here she was after we BBQed breakfast this morning.

What a happy girl!!

Friday, May 26, 2006

Book ~ "S is for Silence" - Sue Grafton (2005)

From Amazon.com ~ This 19th entry adopts a new convention: Millhone's customary intelligent first-person reportage is interrupted by vignettes from the days surrounding the Fourth of July, 34 years earlier, when a hot-blooded young woman named Violet Sullivan disappeared. Violet's daughter, Daisy, who was seven at the time, hires Millhone to discover her mother's true fate. Violet had toyed with every man in town at one time or another so there's no shortage of scandalous secrets and possible suspects. Constant revelations concerning several absorbing characters allow a terrific tension to build. However, the utterly illogical and oddly abrupt ending undermines what is otherwise one of the stronger offerings in this iconic series.

I've read all in the series and have enjoyed them, though I found the last couple bland. I really enjoyed this one but as per the reviews I've read, it ended very abruptly. After investing so much time into the story, I needed to have things spelled out like the why and how. Quite bizarre!

Spring Festival of Small Breweries


Tonight Gord and I attend C'est What's Second Annual Spring Festival of Small Breweries ~ it's the first time we'd checked it out, though we've been to C'est What a couple times.

Samples were $1 each for 3 oz. There were 36 beer to choose from and we were provided with a scoring sheet to rate looks, aroma, floar, finish and likeability.

I tried seven but discarded two (I found them too gross to drink ... even Gord disliked one and he's a big fan of beer). Gord tried 16. My top two were Niagara Best Blonde and True North Cream Ale ... I gave them both 42/50. Gord's favorite was Steam Whistle Pilsner, which he gave 47/50.

Update: The results

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Book ~ "Revved! : An Incredible Way to Rev Up Your Workplace and Achieve Amazing Results" - Harry Paul and Ross Reck (2006)

From Amazon.com ~ Authors Paul (FISH! Tales and FISH! Sticks) and Reck (The X-Factor) offer a guide to the business of caring and how to maximize its effect on the workplace environment. Their advice is packaged as a story about Katie Adams, a working mother of two whose husband suddenly leaves her. Her career suffers when she brings her sour mood to work, until she sees Dr. Allen, host of a self-improvement radio show and inventor of a three-step program for business success: "Winning Them Over," "Blowing Them Away," and "Keeping Them Revved." Paul and Reck's parable serves as a vehicle for their advice on improving interpersonal skills. Katie follows Dr. Allen's advice to make allies at work, show appreciation for those that go the extra mile and be consistent in business relationships, becoming "director of human potential" and turning her company into a sought-after workplace. This is a simple read with a useful idea-caring for workers motivates them to care for their work-told, ironically (perhaps purposely), through a character that readers will find hard to care about.

Cute and corny ... but an inspirational quick read.

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Book ~ "The Tipping Point: How Little Things Can Make a Big Difference" - Malcolm Gladwell (2002)

From Amazon.com ~ "The best way to understand the dramatic transformation of unknown books into bestsellers, or the rise of teenage smoking, or the phenomena of word of mouth or any number of the other mysterious changes that mark everyday life," writes Malcolm Gladwell, "is to think of them as epidemics. Ideas and products and messages and behaviors spread just like viruses do." Although anyone familiar with the theory of memetics will recognize this concept, Gladwell's The Tipping Point has quite a few interesting twists on the subject. For example, Paul Revere was able to galvanize the forces of resistance so effectively in part because he was what Gladwell calls a "Connector": he knew just about everybody, particularly the revolutionary leaders in each of the towns that he rode through. But Revere was also a "Maven" who gathered extensive information about the British. He knew what was going on and he knew exactly whom to tell. The phenomenon continues to this day--think of how often you've received information in an email message that had been forwarded at least half a dozen times before reaching you. Gladwell develops these and other concepts (such as the "stickiness" of ideas or the effect of population size on information dispersal) through simple, clear explanations and entertainingly illustrative anecdotes, such as comparing the pedagogical methods of Sesame Street and Blue's Clues, or explaining why it would be even easier to play Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon with the actor Rod Steiger.

Interesting analysis and an enjoyable read.

Monday, May 22, 2006

Montreal ~ Day Four

No rain! Finally! Yay!!

For a change from pub grub, we had an early lunch at a McDonald's in a food court. Though it was a holiday (Patriot's Day in Quebec and Victoria Day in the rest of Canada), Saint Catherine's Street was buzzing with the stores open.

We walked up Mont Royal, a "mountain" not far from downtown (about a km away). It's a steep incline up Peel Street, then a path in Mont Royal Park and finally lots of stairs. The climb up once inside the Park is 232 metres. But it's worth the climb! We took some pix from Kondiaronk Belvedere and then checked out the chalet.

We went back down the mountain and came across Ben's Deli. According to the info I read, it's where smoked meat sandwiches originated in Montreal. So I had to have one! The waiters were old cranky men but they fit in well since the deli had the original flooring, counters, etc. My smoked meat sandwich was really good but the prices are kinda high. $1.95 for a small glass of fountain pop??!! $5 for a milkshake??!!

We had left our bags at the hotel when we checked out. So we picked them up and Sister Sarah and I parted ways ... me heading to the train station five blocks away and her to the airport.

So ended another sisters' getaway. We had a great time, touring around Montreal (neither of us had been there before) and catching up.

Where will we meet up next year?? We've started a tradition of getting together over this long weekend. Last year we went to a resort outside of Halifax ... and it rained ALL weekend. Ha!!


Sunday, May 21, 2006

Montreal ~ Day Three

We walked to the Peel Pub for lunch for their 19¢ wings. Yummy!

More rain! So we took the subway to the Biodome. They have four sections including a one for rain forest, Laurentian and Antartica. There were lots of cool fish, animals, birds and plants. We spent a lot of time watching the 40 penguins at feeding time.

When we were finished touring around, we saw that it was sunny so decided to do the Tower next door at Olympic Park. When we bought our ticket for the Biodome, the cashier talked us out of buying a ticket for the Tower because of the rain. Because we stood in line for a half hour the first time (and it looked like it would be the same again), we tried to convince security to let us jump in line (we told her our tale of woe) but she said no.

So instead we headed back to Old Montreal to do a horse and carriage tour. Dennis and CC took good care of us, driving us around for a half hour and giving us some history. From the sounds of it, most of Old Montreal is now full of expensive condos.

We walked back downtown and had supper at the Claddagh Irish Pub. We had stopped in there on Friday night for a drink but the service sucked so we left. It wasn't any better today but we persevered. We both had fish 'n chips, which were good. Then we had a couple drinks at Dundees Bar & Grill before heading back to the hotel.


Saturday, May 20, 2006

Montreal ~ Day Two

When we woke up this morning, there was a light rain.

We headed off along Rue Saint Catherine (a great street for shopping downtown) and had lunch at Nickels, a chain created by Celine Dion. I had a pepperoni pizza and Sister Sarah had a club sandwich. Both were good.

As we were walking, we came upon a show featuring New Brunswick with tents with tourist info, soaps, etc., and a beer tent with a duo playing Celtic tunes. Then we walked through Chinatown to Old Montreal and did a tour of Notre Dame. It's gorgeous inside! We walked around Old Montreal for a bit and had an ice cream at Ben & Jerry's. Then we walked back to the hotel and chilled for bit.

Supper was at the Peel Pub. They are moving locations next week so the place isn't fancy. We both had pizza.

After that, we headed to the Old Dublin Pub. There was a good Celtic duo playing tunes.

Because we are so close to everything, it makes walking around to places easy.


Friday, May 19, 2006

Montreal ~ Day One

Sister Sarah and I arrived at the hotel around the same time (3:00ish). I took the train (five hours) and she flew from Halifax (1.5 hours). It was a nice ride ~ I knitted, watched a couple movies (on my portable DVD player) and read to pass the time.

The hotel room is really nice. We paid a bit extra for an upgrade but it is worth it. The hotel is in a great location ~ less than a block from the main shopping street in downtown and the restaurant area.

Hurleys Irish Pub ~ We were hungry after travelling and it was pouring rain so we went to a local pub the receptionist at the hotel recommended. It took us a few minutes to realize that people were smoking. Ewwww! We've become so spoiled because it's not allowed in public establishments in Ontario and Nova Scotia. I had fish 'n chips and Sister Sarah had a burger 'n fries. Both were really good.

Hard Rock Cafe ~ We stopped in the Hard Rock Cafe and had a Hurricane and a Purple Haze. On the inside, it looks like a Hard Rock Cafe all over the world.

Sir Winston Churchill Pub ~ We stopped in for a couple coolers and, though it was cold and raining, we sat on the covered patio. It was a bit of a pricy place but the band inside sounded good.

McKibbin's Irish Pub ~ We ended the evening here and ended up hanging out at the front with three people we met (Brenda, Jeff and their friend). Though it's an Irish pub, they had a rock band playing that was pretty good.


Happy Victoria Day Weekend!


In Canada, the celebration of Victoria Day occurs every year on Monday, prior to May 25th. It is the official celebration of the birthdays of Queen Victoria and Queen Elizabeth II. Victoria Day was established as a holiday in Canada West (now Ontario) in 1845 and became a national holiday in 1901. Before Victoria Day became a national holiday, we had celebrated Empire Day , beginning in the 1890s as Victoria approached her Diamond jubilee in 1897.

Victoria, queen of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland and empress of India, was born on 24 May 1819. She ascended the throne after the death of her uncle, George IV, in 1837 when she was only 18. She ruled until her death in 1901 when her son Edward the VII became king of England.

I'll be spending the Victoria Day weekend in Montreal with my sister, Sarah (who is meeting me there from Halifax)! I'm catching the 9:30am train there today and will return on Monday evening. Au revoir!!

Alas, it's one of the stat holidays that Gord has to work.

Sunday, May 14, 2006

"Cabaret", Stage West, Toronto, ON

Step inside the legendary Kit Kat Klub. In here, life is beautiful and all the danger and decadence of your wildest dreams to come true every night.

They did a good job with this play. The guy playing the emcee is was one of the Forever Plaids ~ quite the extreme in characters ~ and I thought he was the best of all.

And because it was Mother's Day, they had a draw for an Armani gift basket ... alas, I didn't win, though they gave the women a sample of their new cologne. Plus they gave all the women a gift of bubble bath shaped like roses.

Saturday, May 13, 2006

Book ~ "Fish! for Life: A Remarkable Way to Achieve Your Dreams" - Stephen C. Lundin, John Christensen, Philip Strand (2004)

From Amazon.com ~ There's a new FISH! in the pond! Here's a parable for everyone who wants to lead a fuller, happier life. Millions of business people have already used the bestselling FISH! books to improve the way they work. Now, the authors turn their attention to life's daily personal challenges, helping readers deal with them simply and effectively. By applying the FISH! principles of Play, Make Their Day, Choose Your Attitude, and Be Present, FISH! for Life shows readers how to confront life's issues and to reach their full potential. With advice on such life issues as weight loss, personal finance, and relationships, the book is a road map for achieving personal happiness and well-being in all areas of life. After all, life shouldn't be work.

I find these books very inspirational. And the principles are so easy!

Book ~ "Sick as a Parrot" - Liz Evans (2005)

From Amazon.com ~ Adopted at birth, Hanna Conti attempts to trace her family. She turns up a mother who, twenty years earlier, was convicted of murder. Convinced that her mother is innocent, Hannah hires PI Grace Smith to prove it. Grace uncovers the story of the very messy murder of Trudy Hepburn, a teacher at St. Martin’s Comprehensive — but there are a lot of people who’d rather she stopped digging. On Grace’s side, is an ex–cop with a shady past (and present) and Betterman177, a mysterious emailer who sends tantalizing clues about what was happening at St. Martin’s two decades ago. To add to these complications, Grace has been conned into birdsitting a psychotic parrot, and Terry Rosco, the most chauvinistic cop in Seatoun, is trying to move into Grace’s spare room. And, oh yes—someone keeps trying to kill her.

The best yet in the series!

Sunday, May 07, 2006

Book ~ "Don't Mess with Mrs In-Between" - Liz Evans (2002)

From Amazon.com ~ What kind of person decides to leave a considerable fortune to total strangers? PI Grace Smith is about to find out when Barbra Delaney retains her services to trace a group of people she photographed at the grocery store. One or more of them may become her beneficiaries. Barbra thinks her grown son may be trying to do her in. In no time, Grace encounters a dead body, a smuggling ring, a gorgeous man in drag and enough tangled family relationships to make celibacy seem viable. In addition, she must contend with an eccentric cast of locals whose agendas are, more often than not, at odds with her own. Once Grace is on the scene things certainly liven up. Whether suffering from food poisoning or the effects of twenty-mile bike rides when her car breaks down, she's always on the case, even if she doesn't have a clue where it will lead.

Usual funny writing style with an interesting ending.

Monday, May 01, 2006

Book ~ "Fish! Sticks: A Remarkable Way to Adapt to Changing Times and Keep Your Work Fresh" - John Christensen, Harry Paul, Stephen C. Lundin (2003)

From Amazon.com ~ This third book in the Fish series uses as its example the work at one ward of a large suburban hospital. Rhonda, the supervisor, had been promoted, and her mentor, whom she succeeded, had been an ardent follower of the Fish program. Rhonda believed her staff was paying attention to the patients and were providing a level of service far beyond that at other facilities. However, after some time, she began to notice staffers were sloughing off and seemed not to be providing the absolute best care to the patients. The problem? Keeping the Fish principles fresh and new was difficult. After a visit to a successful sushi restaurant, Rhonda regained her enthusiasm for the program and, with the help of the sushi chef, was able to inspire her staff. In fact, her work was so effective, her staff was able to take over for Rhonda after she suffered a family tragedy. There's something charming about the Fish program, which counsels, "Find it, live it and coach it" ("it" is each employee's vision). The notion that individual workers can have a vision for their workplace and their place within a large organization is indeed empowering. And Rhonda's story offers insights into both personal and professional worlds.

Quick motivational read.