I’ve got a lot of stuff floating around my head and I started dumping it all into this post last week so that my head would not hurt so much. As such, I was fully prepared to finish and publish this post Saturday night but it got delayed when I realized the amount of work needed to edit it for poor grammar and spelling. Saturday became Sunday, which bumped into Monday, then Tuesday… OY. So I’m hoping you are reading this and today is Wednesday.
So what happened you ask?
I sat down Sunday to work on this post and when I logged onto the Internet, I found the Twittersphere was abuzz with the Grammy awards. I used to LOVE the Grammy’s because it regularly fell on my birthday, February 21st and it was the only award show that recognized talent, not just popularity. Quality over quantity. In addition, many of the singers actually sang during their performances, and that made the show much better than other award shows where the artists lip synched and were there to look cool, and not to be respected by the music community. Those shows, ahem, MTV music awards, always looked like a giant scripted video where artists dress in torn jeans, get loaded and swore on stage. The Grammy’s, on the other hand, have always had much more class… Until this year!
I still was not going to watch the show, but someone tweeted that Bruno Mars and Alicia Keys shared the same hairstyle, and that peaked my curiosity, so on went the TV and I was hooked. To be honest, the Grammy’s and Twitter make for a great pair. I watched, tweeted, re-tweeted and met some new cool people, and got to know some of my contacts better, It made for a very interactive event and I got to share my love of music with others also in the know.
So back to my comment about how classy the Grammy’s are and how they failed Sunday night… The Grammy’s not only had two performances from Chris Brown, but they also gave him awards, Two of them. Chris Brown.
For those of you not familiar with him, he is the former boyfriend of singer Rhianna and one night he lost his temper and beat her. She went public with the picture of her battered and bruised face and instead of coming clean, Brown put a sour look on his face and carried on with his life.
So he thinks it’s okay to hit women.
That’s so not cool.
If I’m a woman (which I’m not) and I’m a R&B fan (which I’m not) or a human being who loves music (which I am), I would NEVER EVER buy, or download another Chris Brown song again. But instead of ignoring him, the Grammy’s had him perform and man the Twittersphere was not amused. What were the Grammy’s thinking??? As a matter of fact, the best R&B award had him and R. Kelly – who videotaped sex with a 15-year-old, and Kanye West is a hot-tempered, spoiled brat and a sore loser and this is the cream of the R&B crop?!? I think this category can do better, don’t you?
But what saved this award show was Adele. She was appreciative and she has a magnificent voice. That and she’s not 98 pounds means she is a role model for the next generation of woman, now Lady Gaga who looked like she got caught in a fish net on the way into the award show.
LL Cool J called Sir Paul McCartney his “homie”. LOL.
Dave Grohl, of the Foo Fighters dissed pretty much every other band by saying they recorded their Best Rock Album in their garage with a tape recorder. I believe he also dissed the performers who were not really singing. Classic.
Other random stuff:
Why do guys have to non-verbally announce the impending of bodily functions in public washrooms. The grunts, groans, “Oh my g-d’s” before and “whews” after are so not cool. Entertaining but not cool. Especially when one of my kids asks out loud why was that person grunting before they poo’d, loud enough so they can hear too.
Everyday driving home across Eglinton Avenue in Toronto, I pass a strip mall (pun intended) which has the following businesses;
A XXX Adult video store – tinted covered windows so the perverts cannot see inside
A Ready Lube
Aromatic Sensation “Massage” parlour.
I think the Ready Lube has to go… It’s bringing down the neighbourhood. lol. But seriously, do you need the ready lube to visit either of the locations?
Speaking of “massages” has anyone heard the song Pornstar dancing by My Darkest Days?
Or what about I’m Alive by Anthrax? my new favourite song next to “Call my Mamma” the WWE Brodus Clay theme song.
I’m working on a new blog post based on a comment made by TTC Chair and Toronto City councillor Karen Stintz that “Council is supreme”. Yes it is… Karen… Yes it is.
Tuesday night the Leafs lost their 4th game in a row and the Raptors lost on a last second 3-pointer from Lin-sanity himself, David Lin – in his 6th professional ball game. All this losing makes me thankful the Toronto Rock play this Saturday at home, and makes me REALLY look forward to next week when pitchers and catchers can report for Major League Baseball (MLB) spring training.
On February 19th it is the voluntary report date for pitchers, catchers and injured players to report to spring training.
February 24th, full squads may report
February 29th, is the first exhibition game between the Philadelphia Philies and Florida State University.
YAY! The truest sign that spring is on the way!
Last random thought of the day: Have any of you seen the show Ink Master? If so, it’s crazy, right! If not, let me tell you a little about if from the 20 minutes I caught yesterday.
8 people are competing to find the next best tattoo artist. The “artists” have to tattoo their “canvas” aka human beings in the manner they want. For example, one guy wanted a head tattoo, the other a celtic braid around his flabby bicep with the New York skyline sitting on top of the braid.
The concept seems completely fucked up and then you realize how truly messed up it is when they show the work done by these “artists” such as crooked work, poor shading,and pain. One guy having a head tattoo done needed to be taken to the hospital by EMT. UGH.
The way I see it the “artists” are up and coming tattoo artists and as such are prone to make mistakes – such as crooked designs or poor shading and they have to complete their art within a limited time frame, like 4 hours. So one of the tattoo artists had to do a head tattoo in 6 hours but he didn’t finish it. Then in the next competition, he got another head tattoo to do and the poor guy that wanted it must have seen the look of displeasure on his face but still went through with it. Yeah, that’s what I want… Some guy doing a tattoo on my head when he a) did one that was brutal and b) doesn’t want to do another. Yeah, stick that needle in my head, buddy. NOT.
If the intention of this show is to dissuade kids from wanting tattoos then it worked. Personally I cannot think of anything I would want to get tattooed permanently on my body, let alone by some amateur during a contest for TV. Yikes.
- Chris Brown Remains Idiot, Takes To Twitter After Grammys (manolith.com)
Hey look at that. 2011 is done and 2012 is here. Time sure flies when you’re balancing a full-time career, three children, programs with the kids, blogging, Cityville, ball hockey, and most importantly but unfortunately equally as busy, a spouse. It really seems like every minute of every day is accounted for and that makes for a very tired me. Heck, I try to do all my blogging at night when everyone is asleep so that I don’t take up precious family time but I’ve been so exhausted being sick, having sick children and just plain tired that my blogging has suffered and I’m not just talking about lack of posts, I mean look at this terrible run on opening paragraph… My English teach with give me a hashtag fail on this one!
But I’m not complaining. I love being a dad and wouldn’t change it for anything in the world. What I would change is coming up in my very brief 2012 New Year’s resolutions for myself and wishes for the world.
Before that, here are some stats for 2011 for this urban daddy.
Number of 2011 blog posts: 176.
Approximate number of Tweets: 2700
Approximate number of new visitors to this blog: 18,000
Most read blog posts: Posts on the Canadian live-in caregiver program, the Ontario election and just about anything political which resulted in me being pro-conservative and my series on IVF.
Most commented: My post on changes to the live-in caregiver program. I have a new post coming out soon on this exact topic.
Where did you all come from? The majority of my views came from www.facebook.com, www.twitter.com and www.,atomicreach.com. Of course subscriptions and just coming to my URL were far and away the most common.
Geographically, you’ve come from everywhere in the world. That’s cool. Also cool is the fact that some of you take the time to “like” me on Facebook and when I periodically drop by to see if you’re a blogger too, I see things that humble me (and make me think you’ve made a mistake) when you’re list of likes include; Lady Gaga, Green Day, MTV, Politics, and me.
It’s all quite crazy, and a lot of fun.
So my 2012 New Years resolutions:
- More quality time with my wife – including more frequent date nights!
- Drink more water
- Exercise regularly and not just 2-3 times per week.
- Regular push-ups and sit-ups.
- Update my work wardrobe… Quickly. I have longer than normal arms and pretty big shoulders from working out periodically so as a result I have a hard time getting dress shirts that fit. As a result, I have them custom made through www.maxwell.com and in that area, I’m doing great but I’ve got nothing else… Socks, pants, jackets… Old and boring.
- More pictures on my blog, including a picture of me to replace Linus’ yucky kitty picture.
- Squeeze in some courses into my already packed schedule. Either complete me CMA or CSC… Not sure which or where or how, but soon.
- Find greater consistency.
- Get the job done – even the yucky tasks and fast.
- Change for the sake of change.
- Get a real URL
Now for some general wishes for my city and my sports teams:
- Toronto Maple Leafs @Leafsbb20 Either make a trade for a bona fide 1st line centre to boost scoring or trade your most expensive players and make a run for a top 5 pick and try again next year with Coach Wilson.
- Playoffs for the Leafs, Raptors, Jays and Argos. We know the Toronto Rock compete night in, night out, but these other franchises are stuck in a rut it would appear to me.
- Peace in the Middle East. No more settlements. No more rockets. It’s time for all sides to grow up.
- Syria and Russia… You;’re next. Corruptions must go.
- Rob Ford, you know I support you, but stop making it easy for the left to attack you. You need to get control of your public image and do it fast. That means lose some weight, stop drinking so much, and be clear and upfront with your intentions. If you failed or made a misstep, it’s okay. The right support you. We just find it hard to defend you on that other stuff you’re not managing well enough.
- Check out my stuff at www.pinkandbluebaby.com
- I hope my wife completes her holistic nutritionist courses and gets her business up and running. She’s a super smart cookie (you didn’t think the kids got that from me, right?) and has great ideas.
What are your resolutions and wishes for your family / community?
And for the new readers, I periodically like to (re)introduce myself to you all.
My name is Warren and I’ve been blogging here since 2004, or just over 775 blog posts. I post about my family, politics, coffee and things that annoy or piss me off. :) I’ve been married just over 10 years and my wife and I have 3 children; Linus is 7, Stewie is 5 and Berry is 2. I refer to my oldest as Linus because he reminds me of the character from Peanuts who carries his blanket around everywhere he goes for security. Stewie is named after the character from Family guy because we are convinced this child is going to kill us with that sweet yet intense personality. Berry, well, she’s like a strawberry. Cute and sweet.
My wife and I have masters degrees, so we expect a lot from our kids, especially them to behave and respect others. In a recent post I was having a conversation with Linus about respect and he told me it was the second most important thing in the world, next to not dying when you are born. See. Our kids get it too…
Linus is a whiz with numbers. Scary good with them. He also likes to trace out items with his fingers and touch items to get a feel for them. He’s a hands on kid who is as smart as he wants to be and as goofy as he possibly can be. He gets the goofiness from, ahem, me.
Stewie seems to be amazing at whatever he does. Besides being the same height his brother was at the beginning of this school year, Stewie is catching Linus at karate, swimming, piano, reading and pretty much whatever else he can get his hands on. This kid waits for no one and the more goofy Linus is, the more amazing Stewie becomes and that’s an understatement. Stewie, if you recall from previous posts, was ready to quit Senior kindergarten because it was “boring”.
Berry… Ahh, sweet Berry. She looks like Linus but has a little more of Stewie in her. At just 2-years-old her vocabulary and comprehension are through the roof. She can count to 10 in Tagalog, Spanish, English and pretty soon Hebrew and French. She forgets nothing and talks like she is 4.
I work in the taxation industry, so you may see some tax posts go by, although I try to keep them together on www.intaxicating.wordpress.com. That’s my tax resource blog.
To sum me up, I hate to lose more than I like to win. I believe in the good in everyone and I hate conflict. I will go out of my way to make others feel comfortable to compensate for the many years I was uncomfortable, shy and reserved. I’m not that anymore… Not at all. When I tell me staff I used to be painfully shy they laugh at me…
I have 2 sides to me. The public, professional side and the angry sports side. Polar opposites.
So welcome 2012. Welcome to all my readers, I hope you have a wonderful 2012 too, and if there is anything I can do for you, feel free to comment on a post, or drop me a note at firstname.lastname@example.org
You can subscribe to my posts, you van like me on Facebook and support me on Circle of Moms, or Top Blogs or anywhere else my blog pops up. It’s those clicks that tell others that you appreciate my writing and just reading my stuff and sending notes on Facebook or in person tell me you read my stuff and I truly appreciate that.
All the best in 2012.
The urban daddy!
I took the Country Style Challenge last week and boy was I surprised. My opinion of Country Style changed dramatically and I would like to explain why.
I’m going to begin by explaining what prompted me to take this challenge, then what the challenge entailed and finally my thoughts and observations.
I took this challenge because I like to rank the best coffee shops in my world and in doing so, I ranked Country Style 8 out of 11 based on three experiences at a location near my office. I had tried the coffee and a cold drink and left unimpressed. After posting my thoughts, the kind folks at Country Style found my ranking and immediately commented that they too were disappointed with my ranking. Since Country Style is a Canadian Company involved with the Make a Wish Fund and Toronto Rock, I wanted to give them the benefit of the doubt so I pledged to go into a variety of their locations for a week and try everything and anything and see how I felt after that week… Then post my comments on my blog
Here are my findings;
Day 1 – Coffee at 5pm from the Country Style location on Dufferin St just north of Eglinton Avenue. This location is quite large, however set back a little bit so when you are driving south on Dufferin, by the time you see it, you have passed it. It’s a drive through so I made a u-turn and went back for it.
I ordered a large, two-cream, two-sugar (I thought double double was a Tim’s expression only) and the coffee I got was a little bit too sweet for my liking but tasted very nice. As a matter of fact, while I was laying in bed at 2am, wide awake, I could appreciate how good a cup of coffee that was since coffee normally puts me to sleep.
Day 2 – Breakfast at the Country Style location on East Beaver Creek Road in Richmond Hill (very close to my office). I walked into this location again and I immediately remembered the confusion that I had last time I was here. The counter is right in front, about 4 feet from the doors, and with cash registers on the left and right, I didn’t know where to line up, and neither did the few other customers that came in. As a result, everyone kind of converged upon counter at random and the staff had a hard time figuring out who was next from the mass of people.
The owner was there and said hello to everyone. He has clearly built relationships with his customers and I know speaking for myself that loyalty keep people coming in over and over again.
The line-up confusion came into play right away when I ordered a breakfast sandwich and a coffee only to find out that I had to go all the way to the right to order the sandwich again, but this time to the sandwich creator. I ordered the Ancho Chipotle Beef and Egg and then stood there feeling out of place whle she made the sandwich. Once it was ready, it was taken back to the cash and me, now out of line, had to go back into the middle of the group and order my coffee again, then wait for it, and pay.
So once that was taken care of I took my food and drink back to the office for the taste-testing. My large double double was bitter and not sweet enough. I think it was a large regular. UGH. The sandwich on the other hand was INCREDIBLE! I could not get over how fresh it tasted. It looked good, smelled good and tasted wonderful. I really enjoyed it and at the crazy low price of around $3.00 I could not understand why the place was not packed or why I was not eating there every day.
Day 3 – Country Style on East Beaver Creek again, this time for lunch. I ordered a large double double and a tuna sandwich which I was told I could have as a wrap on whole wheat. Again, the coffee was terrible but the wrap was incredible! My colleague ate the Tuscan Turkey with Bacon (and I believe some cranberry dressing) and she could not stop raving about how good the sandwich was.
I have had tuna wraps and other sandwiches from various locations in the area but this one was by far the best. It was not too dry, yet not too much mayonaise on it. It was the perfect size and a very reasonable price.
I’m starting to see a pattern here… Unpredictable coffee and amazing food, but with a coffee cup on the logo, I think there is an identify crisis going on here…
Day 4 – My son and I hit up a different location in Woodbridge on our way back from Ikea. This time we had some donut holes and I had – wait for it – a large double double. I was chatting with the one employee in the store while she was serving someone else and I asked how long the coffee sits. She said generally it’s a new pot after 30-40 minutes, so no issues there, but it was at this location where I figured out why my same large double double tastes so different each time. This location has a sugar bowl with a spoon in it for the sugar and uses a container of cream to add the cream, so unless these guys know how to make the perfect cup of coffee it’s a crapshoot.
I immediately thought of the machines they use at Tim Horton’s which are meant to dispense the exact same amount each time and thought that might be a great addition here.
The donut holes were a little stale and a lot sweet but the boy and I managed to finish them. He gave thumbs up to the ones with the pretty colourful sprinkles but could only eat 3 of them because of the vast amount of sprinkles on them, and the chocolate ones he said tasted funny. He was disappointed there were no blueberry ones, but I think we were both surprised at how sparse the donut section was at this location and the one on Dufferin where he had been with me.
Day 5 – Breakfast again on East Beaver Creek Road. I had the Skinny breakfast sandwich which is basically egg, tomato and lettuce. The Skinny is advertised as having on 5g of fat, but instead it should be advertised as having a TON of flavour. I inhaled this sandwich and like the other one I ate, I could not for the life of me figure out why I had not heard of this by now. The flavour were wonderful and the sandwich was so fresh and so tasty. Yum. I want one now. My coffee, on the other hand, I could not finish. It was, sadly, terrible.
Day 6 – A variety of donuts and muffins for the office with a coffee for myself. When I asked my staff if they wanted a coffee, no one took me up on my offer, calling the coffee “terrible”. Sorry guys. I did enjoy my coffee this time, it was pretty much perfect but I had to add a little more sugar to balance it out. The donuts and muffins were inhaled by everyone. Again, the variety in the store was vast, but limited. There was one pumpkin muffin in a display, and one other variety and two of a different variety which I thought was challenging as they were locatied on the counter, on the food prepareation station and on the back wall. By the time the employee weaved in and around the other employees to get all my muffins I noticed a different flavour but didn’t want to make her go through that again for me. I also noticed the sizes of the muffins differed with the new specialty muffins being much smaller than the regular sized ones. I found that odd too.
Again, it got me thinking… Muffins and donuts. You can’t have all the varieties, and after tasting the food I would really expect the sweets to be on the unique side, but of a higher quality, ala Starbucks and less common, like Tim Horton’s.
Day 7 – Soup! Cream of Mushroom, Red Thai Curry Chicken with Rice, Broccoli and Cheese. Le Swiss breakfast sandwich and a house salad. The soups were very nice and the salad was fantastic, even the Le Swiss tasted like they used real swiss cheese. Ordering the food was chaotic and it took almost as long to order it all as it did to eat it, but it was worth it. I had to check the bill twice to see if they forgot to charge me for something since it was so reasonable.
So after one solid week of visiting Country Style I can safely say my ranking for the coffee is accurate. The coffee was given to me 2 out of 7 times where I enjoyed the cup. I was not sure if it was stale, or just not made properly, but I was greatly disappointed in this.
The food, however, was amazing. I cannot tell you how many people I have mentioned this to. The breakfast sandwiches were fabulous, the lunch selection is vast, the food yummy and the prices are more than reasonable.
The sweets were disappointing. As someone who would bring in treets for my staff, the selection of donuts and muffins did not shout out to me to buy them. It looked like the stores were stocking just enough for the anticipated crowd but what it told me was that the selection was not fresh and there was not enough of a selection to bring in 2 or 3 dozen of anything without clearing out the total supply.
So in concluding, since I hear ads for Country Style on the Virgin Radio morning show, I can only think that they are trying to get people to notice their new menu choices through Bistro and these ads – if I recall correctly – are not coffee commercials, but commercials for a destination to eat. That tells me that Country Style know they have an identity crisis and are trying to work thorugh it and I have just the solution. Aside for getting better coffee in there – something different, maybe flavours, or maybe organic or fair trade, they need to go full throttle on the food. Super low prices, a sandwich of the week, giving out samples, getting them in the media somehow like on CP24’s Breakfast television, something, somehow, they need people trying these fantastic sandwiches and they need to promote the healthy side of it because their competitors are either very expensive (Starbucks) or high in fat and salt (Tim Horton’s).
I know they need better coffee as most people I see in the mornings going into places for coffee usually grab something to eat too. I would for sure go in for the food, but not for the coffee.
Good luck Country Style.
See you soon.
In my 2011 Coffee rankings I ranked Country Style coffee at #8 out of 11, and my comments to justify my ranking were this;
“Country Style comes in at number 8 because it used to have good coffee, much better than Coffee Time, but no longer. Country Style sponsors the Toronto Rock Lacrosse team, however Tim Horton’s coffee is served at the Air Canada Centre. There is a Country Style near my office and the 3 times I have gone there to get something, I have been disappointed every time. The first time was for donuts – the selection was terrible – the second time was for a coffee – it was bitter and stale – and the third time was for a cold drink on a very hot day and that drink was barely adequate. So for a chain with new colours and large, spacious locations, they need to conduct some more product testing to see what people will actually buy. Very disappointing.”
As a result of this post – and I wanted to be fair, not bitchy to them, I received this following comment from the kind folks at Country Style;
“Hi Urban Daddy,
Country Style here, and we are sorry to hear that your last three experiences at our location have not reached your expectations. Of course, it is very important to us that our customers always have the most positive experience when visiting a Country Style. If possible, we would like to get some more information from you on the location that you visited. Would you mind emailing us at CoffeeLover@countrystyle.ca
Thanks very much,
So I don’t have to mention how impressed I am with this response do I? I love that organizations use social media and I love that it took these folks no time to publicly reach out and express their concern.
Writing that opinion of Country Style, and it is my opinion, bothered me at the time because I want nothing more than for all local businesses, especially Canadian ones to succeed at all costs. I love the new colours of Country Style, and I love that they sponsor the Toronto Rock – a team I have had seasons tickets for, for since their first year in Toronto.
So here is what I am going to do…
Next week, I am going to march back into that store, and try a lot of stuff, so when I give my feedback to the kind folks there, I know that it’s timely and well researched. Now to be fair, I was there in the past month, so my views on their hot and cold drinks are both recent and obviously memorable, but I don’t want – nor do I think I can – influence your decision when you are looking for a cup of coffee. For me personally, the local Country Style is the closest coffee shop to my office and since I regularly buy coffee for myself, my staff and for meetings, I’m going to give them another look and see what turns up.
For those of you who may be unaware, here are some facts about Country Style, courtesy Wikipedia, of course.
Country Style has been in business since 1963 when it opened its first location in Toronto. By 1974 there were 50 stores when it was the leading coffee and donut establishment in Canada above Tim Hortons (which passed it two years later). By 2001, Country Style had been forced to close a quarter of its stores due to decreasing market share in an increasingly competitive Canadian market. Since then, it has opened many new stores and currently ranks third behind Tim Horton’s and Starbucks in the Canadian coffee market.
In 2006, Country Style changed its image to a more upscale style: “Country Style Bistro Deli”. The new image includes a new logo, a new website, and an enhanced branded deli menu that phased into their stores. The change was made to compete more with Starbucks than Tim Horton’s however providing a wider range of soups, sandwiches, salads and wraps. If you didn’t know that, you were not the only one.
Country Style has been partnered with the Make a Wish foundation since 2003, and have raised over $1,000,000 for the organization which is a LOT of coffee sold.
So take the Country Style challenge with me, and let me know what you thought, and I’ll make sure all comments are posted. My Country Style is in Richmond Hill, Ontario and I’m going there Monday!