I’ve promised to get some exercise using a new colloquialism I learned this week, “Asshat”, a somewhat more polite version of its better known sister term.

Last year, I had sent out some information about one of our services to senior pharma executives. One guy, a VP with one of the Big 5 pharma companies, responded with a request to meet. I brought along one of our Associates, an MD. We had a good meeting. I subsequently followed up with the potential client, but to no avail. No responses to my emails or phone messages. This appears to be the new standard of discourtesy; just don’t respond until they get the message you’re not interested. It frankly pisses me off. If you don’t want what we’re offering, just say so. We’re big boys (and girls) and can take it. But don’t make me waste my time following up with you because I think you may not have received my email!

Anyway, I just learned that after an illustrious 20 year career with the company, this gentleman has been downsized, and as is typical, has opened his own one-man consulting business (“Consulting” is often a euphemism for, “I lost my job and am ashamed to tell anyone”).  His first steps will likely include trying to leverage his network for work. This will likely include other consulting firms. I hope he calls. I will steer him to the dictionary for the term Asshat.

Very classy handling of parking ticket

It was raining cats and dogs when we pulled up to my VPN pizza heaven, Viva Napoli, in Toronto last week. There were a few available parking spaces out front and the signage (as far as I could tell since there were several signs each with different messages) seemed to indicate that it was OK to park there. We had a marvellous meal, but on exiting the restaurant I found a yellow plasticized parking ticket for $60 on my windshield. Downer!

I always pay my tickets promptly and attach the receipt, keeping them all in my glove compartment in the event that some cop stops me and claims I have unpaid tickets. I went to the City of Toronto payment web site indicated on the ticket and tried to make my payment. Every time I entered the infraction number, I received the response: “Your ticket has already been paid”. Computer glitch I figured. This morning, I called their customer service number and spoke to a representative, who informed me that the ticket had been cancelled because we were from Quebec and they don’t like to penalize visitors, or to quote the young lady on the phone, “It’s bad for tourism”.

I told my son. His reply was au point: “That’s so Canadian….we give you a ticket so that you’ll learn from the experience, but we don’t want it to hurt”.  I laughed. You’d never see that in Montreal. Hell, here they would also slap a boot on your car if you’re from out of town, to make sure you paid the ticket instead of skipping out!

What constitutes proof to a denialist?

Denialists will be the death of me. It doesn’t matter how much proof you show them, it’s either never enough, or the source is so suspect (to them) that it negates the value of the proof. Motivated Reasoning taken to the point of madness. And since Denialism runs hand-in-hand with conspiracy paranoia, one is better off spending one’s oxygen trying to convert a Jehovah’s Witness to Voodoo than convincing a denialist that Obama was born in the USA!

So what constitutes proof? I think, our former Prime Minister Jean Chretien said it best:

A proof is a proof. What kind of a proof? It’s a proof. A proof is a proof. And when you have a good proof, it’s because it’s proven.


Canada’s new anti-spam legislation

Canada’s new anti-spam legislation comes into effect shortly, and I’ve been receiving quite a few requests from various sites that I interact with, for permission to continue to send me emails. Apparently, the new law carries massive fines for Canadian companies who send unsolicited emails. Suddenly, my own company can no longer send press releases to our massive contact list built over many years. We would have to send each person a formal continuation request, and many will simply ignore it, as I did for many sites that I wasn’t excited about.

All in all, this new legislation will eliminate probably 20 unsolicited emails per month from my inbox. 20. I get about a thousand a day from “other” sources, based in India, Africa, and other places not bound by our laws. What a joke! In reality, I didn’t even mind the emails I was getting from these “marginal” vendors; occasionally they had something that did interest me. But they’re not the ones clogging up the internet morons! God knows how many millions have been spent passing this law and setting up its enforcement. And it eliminates maybe 0.1% of my spam. Yup, my tax dollars at work.

I can rest assured that my daily inundation of emails for testosterone pills, Viagra, Russian Brides, and hair loss supplements will continue unabated. Hmmm….is there a pattern there?

Bulletproof cofee

My grandmother used to put a tablespoon of butter in her morning coffee. We all thought it was really weird, but since she didn’t eat much, we saw it as a small peccadillo on her part. She was never overweight. Rarely ate breakfast, had a light lunch and dinner. Never smoked. Never admitted to hospital. Had a couple of small procedures over her lifespan: Removal of a tiny fishbone from her throat in the ER, and a breast lumpectomy under local anaesthesia in the doctor’s office at age 85. Died at age 96 (or more; old Greek ladies tended to lie about their age).


Now comes “Bulletproof coffee”. A couple tablespoons of grass-fed butter and two more of MCT oil (whatever the Hell that is) in two cups of coffee, blended up and drunk down for breakfast. Proponents claim it is a powerful weight-loss tool as well as tasting great. Good summary in this Men’s Journal article. Photo from the article. Seems to be the “next new thing” in dieting and health.

Did bulletproofing her coffee add to my grandmother’s health and longevity? Sure it did. It was magic! Couldn’t have been the fact that she ate very small quantities of food, never smoked, worked physically all day, and rushed to the doctor at the slightest symptom (Mediterranean Syndrome)! Nah….it was the butter and coffee.

Like kidney stones…this too will pass.

The great pouffy hotel caper

Just back from a week out West, 4 nights in Vancouver and one in Regina (Saskatchewan for our American readers). In Vancouver I stayed at the Sheraton Wall Centre, across from St. Paul’s Hospital, where most of my meetings were. The week before I was in Toronto, staying variably at Sheraton, Holiday Inn, and Hilton hotels. Regardless of venue, I noticed one thing: All upper-range hotels have gone the “pouffy” route. They have, for all intents and purposes, been feminized with designs intended to please that gender. The needs of the male traveller seem irrelevant, mirroring the apparent redundancy of men in the general society.

What do I mean by “pouffy”? Here’s a list:

1. Ultra soft beds with layer upon layer of crisp sheets, thick duvets and massive pillows. One feels more swallowed up than supported.
2. Lots of hair conditioner, skin lotions, hairnets, manicure files….but rarely seen shaving cream and body wash.
3. Small toilet bowls incapable of fully supporting the well endowed male arse and family jewels at the same time. Often covered by lids that refuse to stay up (by design).
4. Bathrobes in “one size fits all”, unless you happen to be taller than 5’9” and heavier than 200 lbs. Get the hint?
5. Lovely pastel coloured furnishings and decorations
6. A misty shower incapable of washing off the soap from a large hairy body unless you’re prepared to spend 40 minutes in the so-called shower!
7. Deep jacuzzi style tubs with shelves all around for candles and some roses.

On the last night, I stayed at the Holiday Inn in downtown Regina. A quite town, catering to farm equipment salesmen and oil drillers. The bed was wonderfully firm. No duvet. The shower had a massive head and enough pressure to wash a circus elephant. The morning breakfast buffet had real food. The furnishings were mainly dark woods. The flat-screen TV was massive and the remote worked well. A man’s hotel.



No need for The Jazz

We are drowning in a sea of photos. Smartphones photograph everything from dinner to rummies being assaulted by cops. The pros are so addicted to Photoshop that you can barely trust that any image you see hasn’t been assembled from various pictures and then “jazzed” up with special effects. How many well-known photojournalists have been fired over the years for adding elements to their pictures that weren’t there – think explosions in Beirut during the Israeli invasion…..except for the fact that they weren’t actually there!

And then one day, along comes a young master, to remind us of the true essence of photography; it’s great strength in catching irreplaceable moments. I give you Carolina Navas G – winner of this year’s, The Macallan/Leica Masters of Photography Master Class Competition. The photo is so stunning in its simplicity that it is very likely a scene most of us have witnessed hundreds of times on beaches and resort vacations. But we didn’t notice. Carolina Navas G did. And her sense of timing in capturing this image is such an impeccable coordination of eye, mind, spirit, and hand as to make it a masterpiece.



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