Category Archives: news

Starbucks NEW Pumpkin Spice Latte Arriving September 2015. Updated.

My coffee sources tell me that Starbucks is set to roll out the new and improved Pumpkin Spice Latte in September 2015.

In an effort to rid their drinks of artificial ingredients and artificial flavors (as they do in Europe), Starbucks has reinvented the Pumpkin Spice Latte, with natural ingredients, without artificial caramel coloring but with real pumpkin.

Hard to believe that it has already been 12-years since Starbucks introduced the Pumpkin Spice Latte. My understanding was that he Pumpkin Spice Latte was not a slamdunk choice by Starbucks and that that they had tested an “orange cream” creation (yum) and when they settled on the “Pumpkin” drink for the fall, they were leaning towards using the name “Fall Harvest Latte” instead.

Word on the street is that when Starbucks tested the “Pumpkin Spice Latte” in stores they found out very quickly that their customers loved it and they knew it was going to be a regular fall / winter drink for the company.

Up until recently, you could not even purchase the Pumpkin Spice Latte syrup in store or online, but one quick peek of the starbucks online store at tells me it is available in wide circulation.

As for the new, revamped, Pumpkin Spice Latte… Real pumpkin.  Real spices.  It’s coming! Real soon.


So I went to Starbucks, tried the drink and I thought it was fantastic.  Its even better than the “original” one which I had always found to be a bit chemically.  The new Pumpkin Spice Latte is not overly sweet, and no where near too pumpkin-y.

It was satisfying and really does hit the spot as the weather turns cooler.

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Something I Missed While On Vacation: 31 Million Ashley Madison Users Have Explaining To Do…

I have not paid that much attention to the goings-on over the hack of Ashley Madison – I tried to explain the fuss to my kids and I said to them that it was a dating site for married people to meet other married people for… ummm… naked twister.  No, I didn’t say that.  I said it was a site for married people to meet other married people so they could become friends and go out sometimes.

While we were on vacation, there was a list released by the hacking group which put some or all of the information of the 31 million users out for public consumption.

I was a bit surprised that of that 31 million, 26 million were men, and 5 million women which means that either the data is skewed, that the 5 million women were very much in demand and quite busy or that 10’s of millions of men never found a twister partner.

My interest in Ashley Madison and parent company Avid Life Media (ALM) only lies in the fact that they are a Canadian company and that the site was created, born and raised here in Toronto.  I might one day look to see if I recognize any of the names, but to be honest, I don’t care.  I, like you, am busy with real things, like family, work, and other activities, and what other people do with their time and in their relationships is 100% their own business and no one else’s.

I think I have always taken this standpoint even from way back in the day when I was The Urban (Not Yet A) Daddy, and I want my kids to look at the world the same way if at all possible.  Marriage, relationships, friends, religion… None of this is my business unless you are forcing your views on me, and those views oppress, harm or place others in a lower standing than the rest of us.  Then I have a problem with it.

At the end of the day, strip away everything and you have a planet with land, and humans.  We are all the same.

I hope the Ashley Madison scandal blows over.

I feel bad for the people involved – I hope they choose to continue life as they know it, or that they get help and work out their issues.  I also don’t like to see personal data hacked, stolen, and made public, but I also admire the work of these hackers for taking a stand (if it turns out to be that and not a bitter former employee) and with all of the secrecy in the world it’s nice to know the truth every now and then.  It’s how we can hold people accountable.

What is your take on this?

How would you explain this to your children?


Here is the article that I read which helped bring me up to speed;

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SEA LIFE Michigan Aquarium in Auburn Hills, Michigan is open! Perfect for a Road Trip, eh?

Always looking for something new, fun and exciting to do with the kids on weekends and during the summer, I was tipped off about the recent opening of the SEA LIFE Michigan Aquarium in Auburn Hills, Mich., which happens to be a short drive from the Canadian border here in Ontario.

Having travelled to Rochester, New York to take the kids to their awesome Science Centre, Play Museum and Planetarium, the SEA LIFE Aquarium can be added to the list!

This new facility opened January 2015 and is beginning to ramp up for the spring and summer seasons, providing a great option for Canadian families to go for a road trip or weekend away.

Detroit Aquarium Ocean tank 1 Detroit Aquarium Touchpool2


Experience an array of exotic sea life at SEA LIFE Michigan Aquarium

Michigan’s brand new aquarium will transport you into an enchanting underwater world, bringing you nose to nose with sharks and igniting your passion for the sea.

AUBURN HILLS, Mich., April, 2015 – SEA LIFE Michigan Aquarium, the 35,000-square-foot aquatic attraction at Great Lakes Crossing Outlets in Auburn Hills, officially opened its doors to the public this past January, offering up close and personal experiences with sea creatures to visitors from across North America.

SEA LIFE Michigan Aquarium takes guests on an awe-inspiring, educational journey through an amazing underwater world featuring more than 5,000 incredible creatures such as sharks, stingrays, jellyfish, eels, sea horses, tropical fish, a Giant Pacific Octopus and fish native to the Great Lakes and surrounding waterways. Guests have the unique opportunity to get nose-to-nose with these creatures in interactive, engaging exhibits, including a dazzling 180-degree ocean tunnel, and a hands-on touch pool.

“Just a short drive from the Canadian border, our location at the Great Lakes Crossing Outlets makes for the perfect family day trip,” says Debbie Gibb, SEA LIFE Michigan’s Marketing Manager. “Our state-of-the-art aquarium can be enjoyed by everyone – from a family trip, to a fun date night idea – and with our emphasis on fun education, when you visit SEA LIFE not only will you learn something new, but you may also be inspired to support our worldwide conservation efforts.”

Enjoy the beauty of the ocean and its creatures by holding a crab or touching a sea star at the interactive touch pool, watching the fun talks and feeding shows throughout the day, and taking in the experience of watching more than 5,000 sea creatures throughout the attraction.

Located 45 minutes from the Canadian border, the brand new SEA LIFE Michigan Aquarium is also open for school and group tours seven days a week and birthday parties on weekends.

Annual passes and regular tickets are available online at   Children under the age of three-years-old are always free.

About SEA LIFE Michigan Aquarium

SEA LIFE Michigan Aquarium is a 35,000-square-foot aquarium in Auburn Hills, Mich. based Great Lakes Crossing Outlets. As the 7th SEA LIFE location in the United States, and the 42nd in the world, SEA LIFE Michigan features engaging, educational and one-of-a-kind experiences that bring guests nose-to-nose with more than 5,000 amazing creatures, including sharks, stingrays, jellyfish, sea horses and much, much more. SEALIFE provides a glimpse of the diversity of marine life while also playing an active role in animal and environmental conservation. Visitors will see strong evidence of SEA LIFE’s Breed, Rescue and Protect activities around the world, including new projects developed locally.

For more information, visit


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Finally! It Might Be Safe To Pick Up The Phone Again: CRTC Fines Duct Cleaning Companies.

Canadians… You know how it goes, right?





“Hi, do you need your ducts cleaned?”

Then you, a) curse at them.  b) Tell them you have no ducts.  C) Ask to speak to a manager or D) Hang up.

But they call back.  Over and over again.  Day-in.  Day-out.

Each and every time they call you, the person on the other end of the line is named John Smith, but you know it’s a company from overseas, usually India, and all you want is for them to stop calling you.

Well, on March 25th, 2015 the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) announced that 4 air duct cleaning companies paid a total of $55,000 as part of a settlement following violations for unsolicited phone calls to potential customers.

This happened because people like you and I took the time to complain to the CRTC about violations made under the “Do Not Call” list which bans unsolicited business offers via phone.  As a result of these complaints, the CRTC launched an investigation into 9 Toronto-area duct cleaning companies.

In addition to the $55,000 paid by 4 companies, the CRTC also announced that they have issued notices of violation accompanied by monetary penalties totalling $94,000 for 5 more companies.

“We are pleased to report that four of the nine companies cooperated with the investigations and have voluntarily ceased making unsolicited telemarketing calls to Canadians,” the CRTC’s chief compliance and enforcement officer Manon Bombardier said in a statement.

The list of companies that have paid, and how much, is as follows:

  • Bridge Home Services Inc. – $6,000
  • Cambridge Heating Services – $23,000
  • HR Home Services – $3,000
  • Top Line Air Duct Cleaning Inc. – $23,000

The following 5 companies were issued a notice of violation and an administrative monetary penalty, and now have 30 days to respond to the CRTC:

  • Aqua Duct Cleaning Services – $9,000
  • Goodlife Home Services Inc. – $16,000
  • Kareem Duct Cleaning – $15,000
  • N. Bro Transport Inc. – $14,000
  • Toronto Breeze Air Duct Cleaning Services Inc. – $40,000

All nine companies used  foreign call centres to make the unauthorized calls, and the CRTC says it sent warning letters to seven call centres located in Pakistan, India and the U.S.

“The CRTC reminds telemarketers that it is their responsibility to adhere to the rules, whether they make the calls themselves or through a third party in Canada or abroad,” the regulator said in a release.

Since being implemented in 2008, more than 12.8 million Canadians have signed up to be on the Do Not Call list. The CRTC says Canadians can register their numbers, verify whether a number is on the List or file a complaint about a telemarketer by calling 1-866-580-DNCL (3625) or visiting

So far, the CRTC has issued monetary penalties worth over $6 million and other penalties worth $741,000 for violations to the list.

Now I can answer my phone again!


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Canadians! With Tax Time Coming, Think About Getting Your Refunds Right Away With H&R Block

For those of you who are not familiar with The Urban Daddy, you should know that I started writing this blog back in 2004, the year my first child was born.  At that time, I was working for the Canadian Government, in the Tax Department, for Revenue Canada (later to be known as the Canada Customs and Revenue Agency, then the Canada Revenue Agency).

I worked for the CRA for almost 11 years before leaving for a role in the private sector, and it has now been 18-years that I have been working with taxes in some form or another.  Currently, I run a company called inTAXicating, and maintain a blog which helps people who have problems with the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) – usually collection-related matters.

I know taxes.

I do not, however, prepare taxes.  I let the professionals do that.

There has been a myth in the tax / accounting industry that any firm who promises to guarantee maximum refunds, quickly and easily and that offers it without cost (100% free), MUST be a scam or MUST be providing lower quality work and I can tell you that could not be further from the truth! 

I have found in my 18-year tax career that the majority of issues people have with their tax returns are on returns they have completed themselves, either because they do not know the Income Tax Act, or the Excise Tax Act, or because the thought of doing their own return is so daunting that they put it off and put it off until it causes them huge problems.

When the calendar turns January 1st, people start to stress about taxes!  The April 30th filing deadline for everyone except self-employed Canadians and their families comes very quickly, and those who are self-employed (and their spouse / common-law partner) find their June 15th filing deadline comes even faster.  Especially if their owed money to the CRA which should have been paid by April 30th.

Why add more stress?  Especially if you want to complete the return yourself…

H&R Block offers such a simple process it’s crazy that people would not file their returns on time, but for those do-it-yourself (DIY) folks, H&R Block has just the solution for you.  On March 3rd, 2015 Canada’s trusted leader in tax preparation announced FREE online tax filing software is now available for all of Canada’s 26 million tax filers.

H&R Block Online Tax Software is completely free (absolutely no hidden costs) and is an online Do-It-Yourself (DIY) tax filing solution.  H&R Block Online Tax Software’s intuitive process walks users through their tax return with a highly personalized step-by-step interview process which ensures absolutely nothing is missed, and any errors are detected automatically – offering piece-of-mind for the filer – and not leaving you at the mercy of your accountant and their knowledge or schedule.

How many of you get all of your paperwork together, make that appointment to see your accountant who you see only at tax time, and then you drop off your paperwork, and pay the bill once you have been advised that you have been filed.

Without a face-to-face opportunity to discuss your situation you might be missing deductions or tax credits.  No body knows your tax situation better than you do.  If you follow the easy to navigate online tax solution that H&R Block offers, you can see what you can claim, and how it impacts your refund or balance, putting you in the drivers seat.

H&R Block’s tax solution is optimized for any digital device so filers can switch seamlessly from their computer to their phone or their tablet and back, anytime and anywhere. Filers are assured the maximum possible refund with H&R Block’s Maximum Refund Guarantee and 100% Accuracy Guarantee. The Refund-O-Meter™ enables users to see their refunds calculated as they complete the process in real-time.

An added bonus is that free support is offered throughout the filing process with access to H&R Block tax experts via phone, chat or email, and to simplify the process, new filers will be able to import data directly from competitors’ tax software.

Of course, the offering is available in both National languages, and DIY tax filers can seamlessly switch between French and English, or from one family member to another.

The H&R Block Online Tax Software is available at

Just make sure to file on time!  Even one-day late results in penalties!


This post is a sponsored post, I am being compensated for writing this post, and I would not be writing about H&R Block if I did not believe in the product, the services and the quality of ,not only the work done by H&R Block, but also the quality of information H&R Block provides to Canadians at tax time and all year round.  There is a reason why they have been around for 50-years!

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