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Take your average big box company that exists on both sides of the border. If you exist in Canada, you adjust your prices for the US. Visa versa if you exist in the US and sell to Canada.

With the Canadian and US dollars close to par, consumers are finally screaming at the outrageous differences in retail prices between countries.

The internet makes this easier than ever, and even major publishers have had to start selling their books at the US listed price here in Canada.

What about the big Swedish store?

Turns out they’re not so nice to us Canadians (In my own personal opinion)

While reading a favorite site of mine, I found people buying and modifying a readily available product from Ikea. They were saying that for $50, it was an attractive product to play with.

So I head over today to check it out, figuring with the dollar on par, $50 Canadian isn’t so bad to invest.

Imagine my shock when the price tage is $80. More than 1.5x what the US pays.

So outraged I am, I wonder if I order from the US site and have the item shipped by ground mail if it would be cheaper than visiting my local retail outlet.

Unbooring? Try Unbelieveable. I put down the items I found along the way and left. I’ll keep my money and spend it at local retailers who respect consumers, and price fairly.

Then I came home and checked both online sites. Incredibly, they both show the prices as mentioned, as though they don’t care if the consumer knows. Makes me feel like they think its a privelage for me to purchase from them.

Guess I’ll be passing on that privelage.

Screenshots of the site taken from my eeePC:

ikeaus.png ikeacdn.png

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To sum up this morning’s drive into work, I would have to say just one word.

Wow.

Overnight we received about 10 centimeters of snow, and the temperature was -13 celcius. After a mild day yesterday this means roads are a little slippery, but not treacherous. The people behind the wheel of their cars, however, are a completely different story.

Generally we recognize here in Canada what a crappy morning will mean to routines. People must leave their houses a little earlier to get to work on time. People who arrive a little late to work are seldom penalized for it, since the weather obviously plays a role.

So why are people rushing so much?!?

3 road graders and a sanding truck in a convoy, all with huge signs that warn not to pass while their lights are flashing. This is for a variety of reasons, including the fact that if you are driving behind them then up ahead is not cleared and is bound to be more slippery than your current position.

And yet, I saw no less than 5 people whip past them, brazen perhaps by newly purchased tires, which did at least one person no good as the upcoming corner he skidded through, coming to stop inches before the crash rail. He is okay, so onward continues the flow.

Merging onto the main roadway was interesting. With the slow moving morning, roads often get a little backed up, however they usually are still moving so it may take a few extra minutes but you will get to your destination. So why does everyone treat merging like cutting into line? If I have to merge onto that road to get to my work, so do many others. The general rule of the road is to alternate the right of way. This allows everyone to get to where they are going with minimal issues.

Some “Nice” guy this morning decided the rule of the road was to protect his position at all costs, so even though there was plenty of space between him and the car ahead of him, as I was pulling into the lane he sped up and starting honking his horn.

Although he had tried to cut the space, Mr. Nice was not successful and I did ease into the lane. Apparently merging must be a troublesome concept, and he decided that the correct course of action was instead to get as close to my rear bumper for as long as possible.

A few minutes later down the road, Mr. Nice’s path was an exit to the right. As he gunned his car past mine, he was kind enough to show me his middle finger, which I took to mean he was sorry for his poor behavior. As he roared off the exit, steaming mad and red in the face, I guess that is when he must have realized it had been a full 2 seconds that he had not been paying attention to the road. He hit that curb pretty hard with such a look on his face, plus I think he hit his head on the roof of his car.

I used to let fools like this get me worked up, but I found it funny as hell this morning. Slow down people. You will get to work, you won’t be fired and you will have a much better start to your day.

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This long weekend is the last long weekend of the year that many families have together before school starts. This usually means those camping inclined families flock to the forest in search of one last summer memory before 10 months of school sets in again.

Normally we would shun such weekends, campgrounds full of screaming kids and partying teenagers.. we’re getting too old for that crap. We enjoy building a nice fire, having a beer and total silence so that we may enjoy tranquility rare found in the city.

Well, usually but we figured this year it would probably be our last outing before the annual company Christmas Party, so off we went. On Saturday, we headed out to a family member’s nearby farm and cut down 5 old dead trees and bucked it up for firewood. Since we out and about anyways we had decided to drop in on the in-laws that live 20 minutes away in Olds.

After the usual pleasantries were exchanged upon arrival, my mother-in-law had mentioned that her computer was not working. A quick check, and we discovered that her power supply was no more, and that it needed replacing. No big deal, right? Olds is a smaller town, but 7,000 people, 3 computer shops, and “The Source” outlet. Back in 10 minutes, we’ll run out and grab a power supply.

5 minutes into our trip, the 3 main computer shops were discovered to be closed. On A Saturday. I had such a mental murmur that I actually check and verified, but alas, it was indeed Saturday. Usually one of the biggest retail store days for business, and here we are.. closed. Now what really gets me angry is that I can see in the window of the first store they have the very item we need, on display, $59.95. $10-$20 higher than here in Calgary, but I’m sure had they been open I would have heard the usual “Freight Charges” and “Inventory carrying costs” crap they would use to justify the higher price. Not that it would have mattered, really. Had they been open, we would have paid and been on our way, happy to have the computer back up and running.

Slightly discouraged, we head down to the “Source” to see what they have available. Two salesperson’s are working, both busy with customers. We are waiting patiently, perusing through the skimpy display shelves to occupy the time.

One salesperson had left the people he was dealing with and came over. This is near as I can, almost verbatim the exchange we had”

“Hi there sir, what I can help you with today?”

“Hello, I need to purchase an ATX power supply for my Mother-In-Law’s Computer”

“You need a what?”

“A power supply, ATX. Nothing fancy, whatever you got.”

“A supply of what?!?”

“A power supply. The box that goes inside a computer.”

“You mean like a UPS?”

“No. Do you know what a computer looks like?”

“Yes.” (Obviously a little irritated now at me)

“You know the main tower to the computer?”

“Yes.” (A little sigh, now he’s just plain angry”

“Inside that tower is a box called a power supply, I need a replacement one.”

(Leaving me now, almost mumbling..) “Christ, I can’t deal with two things at once.. This isn’t working, stupi.. son of …..”

So now I’m at the front counter, confused and slightly irritated myself. Has this guy really never heard the term “Power Supply” and if this is indeed true, how the heck does he have a job at an electronics store, especially one that carries computer products? Its like hiring an Ethiopian migrant worker to operate the drive through window, even though he speaks no English.

By this time, the other salesperson was free, and the conversation was a thousand times more pleasant.

“Hi there folks, sorry for the wait, what can I help you with”

“I need an ATX computer supply”

“I’m sorry we don’t actually carry any computer parts here, you’ll have to visit one of the other shops here in town.”

“Okay, no problem, do you know if any are open here on a Saturday?”

“No, I’m sorry, they all close on the weekends.”

“Okay, thanks for your time, goodbye.”

So there you have it folks. Looking for an investment opportunity? Olds is about 40ish minutes away from Red Deer, and about the same from Calgary. There is a lot of money in the community from retirees and people employed by oil companies to maintain the surrounding oil patch. A good location for the farmers and townspeople that do not want to travel all the way into the big city.

A little bit of extra service, and a minimal advertising campaign and you sir, would have a business that would do well.

I would like to offer one piece of advice.. Open on Saturdays. Its just so foolish in modern times to be closed on a Saturday.

FRS Radios

May 22nd, 2006
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For Christmas, my wife gave me a set of two FRS radios. These are the walkie-talkie looking devices that work over many miles instead of the 100 feet like the ones we all played with as kids.

These radios do not require a license and are freely operable here in Canada, which has made them a popular choice for many people. About a year or so ago they started dropping in price which has truly made them mass purchased and used.

This weekend we were out in the middle of nowhere, Central Alberta at a function held in an older community hall that wasn’t actually situated in any community. One of those “Turn left at the yellow barn and go down about 3 miles” kind of locations.

We had brought along the radios so that if we wished to wonder off we could stay in contact.

Now back when we had our “100 Feet if your lucky” walkie talkies, you had to accept a few givens, such as:

  • 9V batteries, stock up: they won’t last. This is how the Radioshack battery card came to be, I’m sure.
  • Learn a new language because english goes into one radio and doesn’t quite make it out the other one.
  • Interference / Crosstalk

Now that last point is actually the biggest one.

If we were running around the school with our radios and some kids a half block over were playing with theirs, we could all hear each other. Kind of a 4 way communication at this point. And what did we do about it? Nothing. What could you do? We’d either stop using ours, they would stop using theirs, or we would talk amongst each other in a real “Kid sized CB radio” kind of fashion.

15 or so years later with these FRS radios, you run into similar issues. Since the signal can travel over 2 kilometers, it doesn’t take much to end up on the same channel as someone else. So now 15 years later, how do people handle this situation?

The smart ones will do one of two things. You can either use one of the coded channels to limit how many others will have the same channel / code settings, or you can switch to a different channel. Thats my personal advice right there.

Screaming over the radios, however, such charming phrases as “who the #$^@ is on the channel” or “get the #$%# off this channel you @#$^&” is probably going to be less effective, especially since nobody Owns that channel. Furthermore, have such etiquette and be on the same channel as someone like myself, and you better expect people to amuse themselves with your antics.

I found replying with such nice and polite phrases like, “Awww come on buddy, I just want to be your bestest friend” sends a nice message of peace and goodwill.

“Sounds like somebody needs a hug” was another pleasent message that really seemed to help the troubled individual focus on any major vocabulary difficulties they may have been experiencing.

I feel sorry for any retail people that end up having to deal with people such as this. This guy is probably the guy in the restaurant who orders steak, and puts ketchup on it, lets his kids run around the restaurant freely like it was a playground, complains when a single french fry is overcooked out of his pile, and tops it off by giving the waiter a $2 tip on his $40 supper.

Buddy, maybe its time to grow up and learn how to share. The rest of us seem to be a lot happier for it.

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