It’s time to jump in the lake—the Leafs are in the playoffs

We live in great white north eh, where we sip syrup and play hockey. Before we learn to walk we learn to cross check properly.

Hey B.Rich, got a newsflash for you bud, it’s time to break out your swimming trunks. The Leafs are in the playoffs.

For the next eight weeks, it will be all hockey, all the time, and while we’re polite and live in a land where there’s ice six months of the year, eh, we’re not as nice on the ice.

This week’s #HappyAct is to cheer on our Canadian teams during round one. Let’s show the fellers down south a cross check or two. G’day eh.

For inspiration, make sure you watch B.Rich’s TSN Sports Centre video.

Special shout out to Mike Smith on his shutout in game 1 for Calgary. On Coaches’ Corner last night Don Cherry said he was from Kingston, but he’s actually a good ol’ Verona boy. I saw his Mom out for a rip the other night walking the dog. And B.Rich is a good ol’ Tamworth boy. Guess all the best things come from north of Kingston in the great white north.

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Carolina on my mind

Palm trees at sunset

When the snow finally melts, my thoughts turn to the warm breezes of the Carolinas and just like James Taylor, I’m gone to Carolina in my mind.

For the past several years, the Carolinas have been our “go to” vacation destination in April. We’ve explored Kure and Carolina Beach, Kill Devil Hills, the Outer Banks, Beaufort and Savannah.

The Carolinas have a way of luring you into their rhythm. At first, it’s the palm trees, warm air and soft, sandy beaches that entrance you. But as each day passes, you succumb further to the beauty and relaxed vibe of beach life until you have officially become a beach bum. You pass the days watching dolphins and pelicans dart in the waves, letting the ocean sand and waters tickle your feet and eating fresh seafood al fresco at places with names like Bonzer Shack with surfboards on the wall.

Can’t you see the sunshine. Can’t you just feel the moonshine? I think I may have heard the highway call. Yes, I’m gone to Carolina in my mind. Here are pictures from some of our last vacations.

Ed. Note. James Taylor, a native of North Carolina wrote Carolina on my mind more than 50 years ago in 1968 when he was overseas recording for the Beatles’ label Apple Records in London, England and was homesick. It has become the unofficial anthem of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and is played at athletic events and pep rallies and sung by the graduating class at every university commencement.

Father and daughter on patio

Storm over North Carolina beach

 

Family at Kitty Hawk Memorial
Kitty Hawk Memorial, Kill Devil Hills, North Carolina

Toronto the good in photos

Airplane over Toronto skyline in the 1960s

Yesterday as we were cleaning up the basement, I found an old Kodachrome box filled with 50-year old newspaper clippings. They were clippings of my Dad’s articles and photos from the time he was a reporter and photographer for The Globe in the 1950s and 60s.

My Dad never talked about his days with The Globe much. He was more likely to talk to you about the Blue Jays or the weather. But as I gingerly read each faded newspaper clipping, his life work washed over me and I marveled at all the famous people he met and photographed, from prime ministers and celebrities to royalty.

Here were just a few of the stories and photos I found yesterday

A Cosmopolitan View of a Cosmopolitan Centre (shown above). Dad had close ties with the Canadian International Air Show. For this picture, he must have been in the air and snapped this shot of an RCAF Air Transport Command Cosmopolitan airplane flying “past the new Toronto-Dominion Centre” highlighting a very different Toronto skyline from what it is today.

Quakers cross border with medical goods

The Vietnam War monopolized headlines in the late 1960s. This photo was of US quakers who defied US authorities to carry medical supplies across the border into Canada to send to Vietnam.

Go train pre-fabricated tunnels from the 1960s

Go tunnels part of Lakeshore commuter service

I grew up minutes from Port Credit Go station and passed through the tunnel to get to the other side of the tracks almost daily. This is a picture of the prefabricated tunnels they installed in the late 1960s.

In another story called, “Biggest town to get name, council on December 9th”, Dad covered the pending amalgamation of the villages that formed the City of Mississauga. The other name being considered was Sheridan, “a small pioneer community on the township’s western border. Mississauga is favored to win, although a police officer once moaned: ‘Oh, no. We’ll never get it all on the door of the cruisers.”

George Chuvalo newspaper photo

Family wants him to quit, but Chuvalo still has hope

This picture of five-time Canadian heavyweight and two-time world heavyweight boxer champion George Chuvalo with a patch over his right eye was taken after losing a heavyweight fight to Joe Frazier in New York City.

These next four photos showcase some of the fascinating people my father got to meet and photograph. From top to bottom:

Coretta Scott King at Toronto City Hall

Coretta Scott King, the wife of Martin Luther King Jr speaks to Toronto controller Herbert Orliffe at a reception at Toronto city hall.

Prince Philip in Toronto

Prince Philip chats with RCAF officers on his arrival at Trenton yesterday. The Prince piloted the British built jet (background) on flight from New York lasting an hour.

John Diefenbaker

On his way back to Ottawa after fishing trip to British Columbia, Conservative Leader John Diefenbaker confers with Davie Fulton at Toronto International Aiport.

Bobby Vinton

Crooner Bobby Vinton. In the caption, Vinton is quoted as saying “An entertainer’s job is not to get involved in world problems.” How times have changed.

There was one photo I wish I had to this day. I remember my Dad showing it to me. It was of the Beatles when they landed in Toronto in either 1964 or 1966 when they played at Maple Leaf Gardens. Dad photographed them for The Globe, but gave the photos to some teenage girls who lived up the street from us. Oh, but what I would give for those photos today.

Thanks for the trip down memory lane into Toronto the Good’s past, Dad. Miss you.

What’s it to ya?

Sign that says the right way to hang toilet paper is over the roll

A friend of mine shared a story at work the other day about a family gathering she was at. Her nephew was getting ready to go outside and had his left boot on his right foot and his right boot on his left foot. His grandfather pointed it out, suggesting the kid may want to change. The kid replied, “What’s it to ya?”.

The grandfather thought about it for a moment, realized he didn’t care, and said, “Nothing. Fill your boots.”

We all laughed, and started talking about things that drive you crazy if they’re not done “the proper way”.

For instance, we agreed the proper way to hang toilet paper is with the paper on the outside, not the inside, and yet some misguided people still hang it the wrong way!

Somebody else said they hate it when people cut toast because toast shouldn’t be cut. Who knew there was toast etiquette?

When you load the dishwasher, do you put the cutlery in facing up or down?

I remember when I was a teenager making grilled cheese with a friend. She told me I was doing it wrong (in my family, we always made cheesie melts in the oven instead of toasting them in a frying pan).

My best friend Leslie still tries to convince me to this day to make bacon in the broiler instead of on the stovetop because she says it’s easier to clean up and tastes better.

This week’s #HappyAct is to remember one phrase the next time someone tries to get you to change something that, in the end, doesn’t affect them one iota. What’s it to ya?

 

It ain’t a beauty contest no more

Lush cosmetics

After 26 and a half years of marriage (but who’s counting), as Dave likes to say, “It ain’t a beauty contest no more”.

And yet, after a wickedly long winter, there’s a little part of all of us that wants to rejuvenate and renew ourselves.

Thanks to a new brand of cosmetics, there’s now a relatively expensive way to pamper yourself.

Lush Fresh Handmade Cosmetics is a line of cosmetics and creams that uses all natural ingredients made fresh. They are opposed to testing products on animals and use no preservatives and have minimal packaging.

My girls discovered Lush a few years ago. I never really tried their products until recently, when Clare brought home a bagful of creams and masks from a friend’s birthday party.

Yesterday I used their Cup ‘o Coffee Face and Body Mask. Within minutes, five months of winter washed away in the shower, leaving my skin soft, glowing and supple.

I felt like a new woman afterwards. Maybe not new enough to win a beauty contest, but I never did do well in the talent and swimsuit competitions anyway.

This week’s #HappyAct is to pamper yourself a little this week. Ed. note: After store hours, Lush offers private beauty nights, great for birthday parties, bachelorette parties or just a girl’s night out.

How to make friends with the bots

talking to a bot

Let’s face it. Bots are going to take over the world. One day we’ll all wake up, and every online interaction will start with talking with a bot. Think of them as Walmart greeters for the internet (except that Walmart just announced they’re laying off all their greeters).

I’m fascinated with bots. In my work, I’ve been helping our bot team choose language that is friendly, clear and helpful. But herein lies the problem with bots. For communication to be effective, you need to understand how people are feeling, thinking, and what you want them to do. It’s called knowing your audience. And with bots, you’re not exactly sure what the frame of mind is of the person at the beginning of the interaction, and just as important, at the end of the interaction.

I’ll illustrate this by sharing my latest interaction with Koodo’s bot. Koodo’s tagline by the way is “Choose Happy”. It went something like this:

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“Hi Koodo bot. I need your help. My daughter has fried her phone a second time and I want to know my options for my contract.”

(Four options popped up for me to choose, none of them was what I needed help with.)

So I said, “I think it’s probably easier if I just called you. What’s your toll-free number?”

(The bot in its programming must have picked up on the keyword phrase “toll-free number” so it answered this)

“1-800 numbers are free of Long Distance charges, but the local minutes to connect you to the network are still billed at the local minute rate. The numbers you can call are (list of numbers). If you run out of minutes, you will be charged for additional airtime. You might get a prompt to a recording message if the toll-free number isn’t available in your area.”

Then it asked me if their answer was helpful. I gave it a thumbs down.

We went back and forth a few more times. At this point, I couldn’t believe how difficult it was to just get their stupid 1 800 number from the bot and the UX tester in me went into overdrive, so I wrote,

“OK, so what’s the number you stupid bot” just to see how it would respond.

The bot answered, “Now, now, let’s play nice!” and send me a GIF of Maggie Smith looking affronted.

giphy

OK, so I don’t know how you would react to Maggie Smith raising her eyebrow in a supercilious manner just because you wanted to talk to someone in customer service, but my emotional response went from a ha, ha, I don’t believe it said that, to incredulous, to how dare you, you stupid bot? I showed it to Clare who had been sitting beside me the whole time and asked her how she felt about it. She said the exact same thing.

Let’s just say, I didn’t “Choose Happy” from Koodo in that moment.

To end the story, I ditched the bot, found their 1 800 number somewhere else, called them and finally found a human that was very helpful and resolved my dilemma. I did have to wait on the line for about 10 minutes though to speak to said human.

So if bots are here to stay, how do we make friends with them? Here are some tips:

  1. First, go in knowing their limitations. Bots do serve a purpose—they can answer simple questions, freeing up customer service agents to address more difficult issues and concerns.
  2. Be aware if you are dealing with a bot or a human. Sometimes this can be hard to know. If you’re not sure, ask. You’ll know after the first few interactions when five lines of text appear instantaneously.
  3. If after the first few questions it’s clear the bot’s programming isn’t giving you what you need, ask to speak to a live person. Most bots that are programmed well with have a human offramp, where you just pick “speak to a person” and they’ll redirect your enquiry.

If all else fails, you can always derive some entertainment value by messing with it. Just be prepared for the Maggie Smith gifs.

Learn which bridges to cross and which bridges to burn

Oprah Winfrey quote

Every once in awhile, I come across an article that resonates so deeply about what happiness is all about, I feel compelled to share it. This week, it was an article from Inc. called, “Oprah Winfrey Says One Decision Separates People Who Achieve Success From Those Who Only Dream.”

The gist of the article is to be successful, you need to move forward and embrace new opportunities, and that means sometimes knowing which bridges to burn and what baggage to leave behind. This includes

  • Worrying about what other people think
  • Worrying about what you have, instead of what you do
  • Counting on finding that one big idea or moment
  • Worrying about perfection
  • Worrying about what other people do
  • Worrying about whether you’re happy

It’s a great article. Read it. But there are two things I challenge the inimitable Ms. O on. She states that success and happiness go hand in hand. While there is a correlation between success and happiness, there are stories daily in the media of seemingly successful people who commit suicide or overdose who suffered from depression, feelings of low self-esteem or unhappiness. Success does not guarantee happiness. It all comes down to how you find and define success.

I also think that while you definitely shouldn’t worry about whether you’re happy, you should practice self-awareness and self-reflection about whether you’re happy. Only through self-awareness can you make changes and be brave enough to cross that next bridge.

This week’s #HappyAct is to think about which bridges you should cross and which bridges you should burn this year. And read the article.