I know I’ll regret this -> Lifehacks | fail hacks

Lifehack – a strategy or technique adopted in order to manage one’s time and daily activities in a more efficient way. Oxford Dictionary

The web is awash with lifehack websites. So many, it’s now hard to make it through a day without one popping up in an ad or post. Some are pretty cool. Most are eye rollingly daft.  I’ve decided to check out some and see if they are real lifehacks or click bait nonsense. The first one I’ve tested turned out to take more time than it was worth.  The first hack involves eggs. Come back in a few days to find out what on earth this is about.

Have a lifehack you want me to investigate? Drop it into the comments section or wander over to Bitter Grounds Facebook page or Twitter account and leave a suggestion.


A rock hunting I will go this summer

A rock hunting I will go this summer

Photo of boulders dug out of a construction site in Toronto but too big for rock hunting souvenirs

I’m going to go rock hunting this summer. “What’s that?” I hear you asking, “rock hunting? That sounds random”.  My brain is sometimes like a flea on a mitt – hopping from one interest to another. So many fascinating things to explore and so little time on this world to do it. One can never have too many hobbies.

Lately I’ve been lurking around rock hound sites, admiring the diversity in … well, the rock world. ‘Rock world’ – not sure if that is a thing, but we’ll stick with it. I’ve been picking up random pebbles and stones for a long time, wondering what they are.  “Oh here’s a grey one. And here’s another grey one. This one has a pink seam. OHH this one is black. No, wait, it’s just muddy”.

I’ve been staggered by how varied rocks are and now I’m eager to learn a bit more about what’s here in Toronto. The ravine system is a short stroll from my place so that should be a good starting point. I can wander for miles poking around the mud and rocks, looking for anything interesting. As a bonus, I can take my camera along and get some decent photos of the ravine. I’ll have to get a pair of gloves though, because I really hate getting my hands dirty.

Another choice spot might be along Lake Ontario with it’s rocky shores. It might spit up a fossil or two, as well which would be cool. I remember days spent looking for trilobites while growing up.  We called then ‘stone bugs’ because we didn’t’ have a clue what they were. I’ve often wished I’d saved some of the better ones, but we chucked them back out into the water when we finished oohing over them.

If all else fails, I can go to the ROM – their rocks and minerals are all carefully labeled so ID-ing them will be easy.

I’ve been using Mining Matters rock identification guide to spot some of the more common rocks around here.  Fleming College in Lindsay, Ontario has a good YouTube video titled Rock and Mineral Identification that is fun to watch.

Wow I needed this – awesome Urban Geographer art

A friend sent a link to a couple amazing Toronto subway exit maps and after looking at them, I have the urge to stand on my balcony throwing the maps to everyone in the neighbourhood.  What are exit maps and why am I excited? Graphic artist Daniel Rotsztein, the Urban Geographer, has created 2 info maps (see link below) showing which TTC car is closest to exits for each stop.  Why does it matter? Anyone who’s spent time waiting on an insanely cold or hot Toronto subway platform will understand immediately.   As well, anyone desperate to beat the mad crush of people heading to the stairs at the same time will appreciate a bit of an edge in hitting the exit quickly.

Lines 1 & 2 are available, showing each stop and which car to hop on. Head on over to his website and snag them. I’m saving the pdf on my smart phone for future references.

You can find the maps on his website  here https://theurbangeographer.ca/subway-exit-map

and don’t forget to check out the rest of his art and his Instagram account https://www.instagram.com/theurbangeog/     You won’t be disappointed.

FYI: TTC stands for Toronto Transit Commission


Finding new ways to avoid work

I’m nothing if not inventive in finding ways to avoid settling down to write. Over the holidays I latched onto the idea that “if I rearranged the room, I might feel more like writing”. How’s that for some fine work avoidance thinking? I spent more time fussing over moving furniture than actually posting to the site. I’m impressed with my continuing devotion to the gods of procrastination. And yes, I did move everything around on New Year’s.  I also changed desks so now I have an awesome amount of space to fill up. The other desk was a too small which meant constantly moving shit around and trying to find a spot to prop my notebook or plop my coffee mug.  As a bonus, I  moved the clutter from the window so now there is awesome air flow cycling through.

I discovered a small problem with the refit. The floor isn’t level so my chair rolls back towards the window when I’m sitting. ARGG.  I either have to de-wheel this chair or purchase some chocks.

So, what’s coming in the new year? I now have more time to write. The person I was helping through cancer treatment is doing fine now (fingers crossed for the tests later this month) so I suddenly find myself with much more time on my hands. It’s an odd feeling.  I’m working on a series near and dear to my heart – conspiracy theories. No, no, I don’t buy into them, I enjoy destroying brain cells reading them. So I think I’ll post a few of my favourites under Whackadoodle Wed, where I share my favourite bits of nuttery.

I have articles for the philately section ready for proofing so that should be much more consistent. As well, I’m going to retool the patents section. It takes forever to write up some of the articles so I’ll be posting smaller,  not so detailed items to fill the gap.  I had to take a bit of a break from photography (time constraints) and am ready to plunge back in. Part two of the Trip around St Clair is ready for proofing as well. Should be up in a couple of weeks.

Still working on new ideas, but priority is fixing the damned wheels.

Laid low by a virus and a Christmas village on the go

Wow was that a bad ass virus! We were laid low by one of the great unknown viruses that lurk in the winter months. No idea what it was but after 12 hrs of chills, headaches, vomiting and er .. you know – I’m happy to be upright and feeling human. How bad was it? It was nearly a week before I could stand the smell of coffee let alone drink it.

I kept sitting the computer, promising “today I’ll get some work done” but ended up staring at the screen and achieving bugger all. Felt like I’d gone on a shopping binge at the Big Box of Lethargy Supermarket. It was  easier to watch old movies on YouTube than write. Here I am  … again, staring at a back log of articles that need to be written.  Some articles will have to wait while I build a little stone wall for our Christmas village display.  What’s that you ask? I’m a master of work avoidance, if nothing else so I’ve decided our little woodcutter’s hut needs an old stone wall around the property.  I might make a few paths for the singers standing around the village centre tree as well.

I’m using air dry modelling clay and  have started the curved section. I haven’t gotten around to figuring out how to paint it, but I have enough art supplies stuffed into the closet, that I’m sure I’ll find something to use. Right now I’m letting the first section dry to see how it looks. If I like it, I’ll pull out the sculpting tools and go at it tonight.  I’ll take a photo of our village and post it when I get the wall erected.  It’s going to take hours to build – it’s so teeny tiny.

Booted down a corporate rabbit hole of nonsense

I spent a few days trying to figure out how a simple question sent me swirling down a corporate rabbit hole of nonsense. Last week I sent off a quick question to Heinz, via their website, asking where their baked beans are manufactured.  Recently the little red maple leaf and “Made in Canada” banner disappeared and nowhere on the label is an indicator as to origins. I like to know where my food is coming from so I whipped of a quick query.  Here’s their first answer:

There is nothing more important to us than pleasing you, and every one of our consumers, with high-quality products.

This product is available nationally, and unfortunately, I currently do not have information as to what retail stores in your area might carry this item. I’m sorry to disappoint you, and we understand how important it is to our consumers to know where to locate our products; but please understand that the decision to carry certain products rests on the grocers who make their decisions based on their consumers’ preferences.

In the meantime, we can suggest that you try speaking with the grocery store manager. They may be able to let you know when you can expect to see the product on shelf.

Is it too much to ask that they actually read the question?  I fired off a response asking them to answer the original question, where do they make the beans? Here’s their response:

Please be advised that our foreign plants follow strict policies and procedures that we have put in place for Canadian manufacturing plants to produce high quality products.

Any production within or outside of Canada, follows careful analysis and is based on sound business reasons. We are consolidating production to make better use of our plants, and keep our business viable and competitive.I apologize, but their exact location is proprietary information in order to ensure our consumers’ safety and security

Thank you and I look forward to hearing from you again soon!

Director, Consumer Relations

So, they are keeping me safe from … what? How is my security and safety compromised by knowing what country cans their beans?  OMG BUYING BAKED BEANS IS A SECURITY ISSUE! WHO’LL THINK OF THE CHILDREN!  What a bullshit answer.

This was the simplest of questions. Where do you make your baked beans?  Instead of being honest, Heinz offered up corporate speak for “fuck you, you don’t have the right to know”.  They learned the wrong lesson from the ketchup PR debacle over the last year.  Instead of being up front, they’re hoping to avoid more controversy by playing hide the button with consumers – quietly move more manufacturing out of Canada and pretend  they’re protecting the safety and security of Canadian consumers by hiding country of origin.

Nicely played Heinz. I was less than enamoured with you prior to this little bit of nonsense. Now guess what company has been removed from my shopping list.