Thursday Thirteen: 13 Facts About Starbucks’ Canada and Naming Starbucks’ New Blonde Roast Contest

Map of the countries with Starbucks Coffee Shops
Map of the countries with Starbucks Coffee Shops (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Starbucks is the world’s top coffee retailer with over 19,500 stores in 58 countries.  Canada ranks second to the US in the number of stores (over 12,800 in the United States compared to over 1,245 locations in Canada).  Japan, Great Britain, China and South Korea round out the top 6, all under 1000 locations.  But you cannot really trust these numbers because Starbucks are opening nearly 5 new stores everyday.  Starbucks recently held a contest for Canadians to help name their new Starbucks Blonde Roast coffees, which are best described as their lighter roast with a subtle, mellow, lighter-bodied, full of flavor, and delicious.  I liken it to a roast which gently awakens the senses – the more you enjoy your cup, the more flavour you detect.When they first launched the Starbucks Blonde Roast, I immediately picked up the VIA instant packets and was shocked by the lack of flavour from the first sip.  Used to strong coffee I had added way too much cream and sugar and it drowned out the mellow flavour of this mild roast and once I learned to be gentle with this Blonde, I began to notice the subtle flavours and it has become my go to roast.

So of course I wanted to enter the contest to create the name for the Blonde Roast and in doing so, I found some interesting facts about Starbucks I felt compelled to share.

So, here are the 13 Most Interesting Facts About Starbucks, then the details about the contest …

13.  Starbucks currently employs over 137,000 employees, which may not seem like a lot, however this is twice the population of Greenland.

11.  There are currently over 87,000 drink possibilities – a free drink to anyone who can name all 87,000.

10.  There is a size called the “Trenta” which is 30oz / 916 ml or slightly bigger than the capacity of your stomach which on average has a capacity of 900 ml.

9.   A Starbucks grande coffee has 320 mg of caffeine which surprisingly contains over four times more caffeine than found in a Red Bull energy drink.

8.   The Starbucks cinnamon chip scone has more calories than a McDonald’s quarter pounder with 480 calories.

7.   Starbucks uses 2.3 billion paper cups per year.

6.   They currently serve 40 million customers a week.

5.   The owners almost went with the name Pequod, the name of the boat in Moby Dick, instead of the character Starbucks’ name

4.   After tasting the Clover at a small café in New York and claiming it the best cup of brewed coffee he has ever tasted, Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz decided to buy the company that made Clover in 2008 and began introducing the dream machine at select stores around the country

3.   Most Starbucks stores have been equipped Swiss-made Mastrena, which was created to make “the highest-quality, consistent shot of espresso”. The machine also allows baristas to interact with customers due to it’s size and shape.

2.   My first choices for the new name were “Mellow Yellow”, “Platinum Blonde” named after the great Canadian band, “Ambition”, “Natural Blonde” and the “Have More Fun” Roast.  These have all been entered in the contest.

1.   The first Starbucks location to open in Canada was at the Seabus Skytrain Station in Vancouver on March 1, 1987. This humble store was Starbucks Coffee’s first international location.  My last suggestion was to honour that location with the “Seabus Light Roast Blend.”

On February 20th, Starbucks Canada will announce the 3 finalists and open up the voting.  What was your name for the Blonde Roast?


Reading the Signs: What to do when your Boss is Upset with you.

full-time nanny

I came across a great article by the folks at entitled; “What Should a Nanny Do if her Boss is Upset with Her”, and I immediately saw the cross-over potential that this article brings for those new to the workforce or as a refresher to those already in the workforce for a few years.

Sometimes you know when your boss is upset with you and sometimes there will be no clue, and depending upon the severity of the situation and the potential repercussions, you may want to consider the possibility that your job could be in danger.  So once you figure it out, it’s best to get in the habit of coming clean with mistakes as soon as they happen, getting used to giving your boss the heads’ up where you think there may be a problem down the road, and documenting situations rather than waiting with bated breath for them to be found out.

This article highlights the following important things to remember when deciding to come clean;

  • Realize That These Things Are Rarely Permanent – Unless you have done something on purpose with the intent on causing someone harm, or damaging the reputation of your employer of the business you work in, the chances of your employer resorting to drastic disciplinary measures are fairly slim. Provided that you’ve been an otherwise good employee, most employers would rather resolve an existing problem than take on the task of sorting through dozens of resumes and conducting numerous interviews in effort to get someone who may be better than you, or may be worse than you.  Better the devil you know, is the saying.  That being said, it’s not wise to be too secure in your position; if you’re overly cocky and consistently go against what your employer decides for you, they will let you go.
  • Confront the Issue Head-On – If you know that your employer is angry but haven’t been approached with a reprimand or a request for an explanation, it’s best to take the bull by the horns and approach him or her with your concerns. It’s especially smart to make an effort to mend fences if you know why your employer is upset and agree that you are in the wrong. Letting the situation go unacknowledged for too long can cause resentment to build up and exacerbate the problem, so don’t dodge your employer in hopes that things will blow over.
  • Be Honest – Should your employer confront you with questions about an incident in which you know you were in the wrong, don’t give into the temptation to cover your tracks. Admitting that you were wrong and are willing to accept any penalties as a result of your poor choices shows strong character and moral fiber; in addition to being the right thing to do, it may also impress your employer enough that they second-guess their outrage.
  • Keep Your Own Temper in Check – Being accused of misconduct, whether you’re guilty or innocent, is enough to put almost anyone on the defensive. Taking this tack with your employer as a reaction to questioning or accusations will only escalate the situation, and perhaps lead to the loss of your position, which you would otherwise have been able to retain. Remember the old adage about flies and honey and realize that anger, even of the righteous variety, will get you nowhere in these situations.
  • Accept Responsibility For Your Actions – Attempting to pass the buck, or blame someone else for your failure to perform properly or your momentary lapse in judgment, isn’t likely to endear you to your already-upset employer.  Instead face the consequences of a poor choice as gracefully as possible. Whining or shifting blame isn’t just ineffective, it’s often downright counterproductive.  In addition if you blame someone else and your employer decides to keep you, then you run the risk of them finding out and that relationship is damaged for good.
  • Make a Concerted Effort to Make Up – It’s easy to hold your breath and hope that a tumultuous period in your relationship with your employer will pass without any attempts to mend fences on your part, but that’s almost never the case. Extending the olive branch isn’t always the easiest thing to do, especially if you feel that you have nothing to apologize for; still, preserving that relationship, and perhaps your post itself, may depend upon your ability to do just that.
  • Keep the Conversation Behind Closed Doors – Never, ever, ever discuss a bad situation with friends, colleagues or staff.  They do not need to hear you air your grievances or discuss an ongoing problem you have with your employer. Even in the largest, most densely populated cities, most social circles are relatively small and people will talk. Letting news of your woes get back to your employers is a surefire way to make them give up on you altogether, so make sure that you keep any and all conversations about the state of your relationship with your employers and the details surrounding it away from the public eye.

If, after all this you notice that things are not getting better for you, then start looking for a new job – it’s so much easier when you are already employed – and approach your employer with a request for a reference letter or recommendation because not only will they give it to you if they want you out but don’t want to fire you, but also it gives them time to start the search process themselves.

How the Mighty Have Fallen: Atari files for Bankruptcy.

I just read that the US subsidiary of Atari filed for bankruptcy.

If you’re too young to remember Atari,all the way back in the early 1980’s, then you probably did not know that Atari was the absolute bomb in its day!

Lumped into the gaming mix with Coleco and Commodore 64’s, Atari had gaming consoles (like Coleco) and personal computers (like Commodore). Atari was so hip in the day, that in 1975, two nerds both named Steve went to work for Atari to develop a game called Breakout and they eventually went on to start a company you might have heard of called “Apple”.

Man, those were the days… My parents would never buy me the Atari 2600 (known as the Video Computer system) game console that I wanted and the day I decided to be a thief and take the $75.00 from my father’s wallet to buy hockey cards and gum for my class was the day he intended on using that cash to buy the system. No cash, no system. I was busted and learned a huge consequence in life. Stealing is stupid and sucks. It also taught me that I needed to get a job and earn my own money!

So instead after the failed attempts to hone my gaming skills with our Timex Sinclair (look it up folks!), and the IBM “home” computer with it’s tiny green screen and it’s only game being that boring worm game, I dug out our Radio Shack device, hauled up the black and white TV from the basement and played pong until I blew the picture tube on the TV.  Damn.

So then one day my dad came home with the Atari 800XL game machine AND personal computer and it was over.  We played a couple of cartridges to death until he joined us up to the Toronto Atari Federation where we got to try tons of video games on floppy disks.  Within a couple of months we had over 300 games on floppy disk and 15 cartridges, plus I was learning to program in DOS;

10 “Hello Urban Daddy”

20 Got to 10


Or something like that.

I also got us hooked up to local BBS’ and as it turned out, one was run by a neighbour of my wife’s and she was a regular chatter so we probably chatted 20 years before we met… Tell me, that is cool, right?

But for all its coolness, power and influence, Atari’s run would be tragically short.  The Atari 2600 first hit stores in 1977, sold a ton, but by 1983 they were in the middle of the North American video game crash during which time a glut of consoles from competitors and mediocre games from everyone contributed to a rapid decline in sales.

Atari itself was later sold, gutted, and passed around from owner to owner in years hence. Atari’s founder, Nolan Bushnell, went on to create the Chuck E. Cheese chain of pizza/video-game restaurants that use a rat as a mascot.

A testament to Atari’s impact can be seen in the movie Blade Runner which was shot in 1982 and set in the future, 2019. This sci-fi classic has plenty of scenes in which Atari’s logo features prominently. Back then, if you were thinking about the future, it was impossible to imagine it without Atari.

2012 Canadian Weblog Awards: I’ve been nominated!

My blog, The Urban Daddy has been nominated for the 2012 Ninjamatics Canadian Weblog Awards. What a great way to end up 2012.

I have always felt that as Canadians we need to speak up more and promote our own blogging talents.  We live in the best country in the world and we’re a little on the shy side, a lot on the polite side – not as in your face as some other countries (ahem: America).  🙂  So it’s really great that the kind folks at Ninjamatics are doing all of us bloggers a favour by creating and hosting these awards.

It’s always an honour to be nominated, which I have before, but as these awards grow in popularity it seems even less likely that I will ever win because the talent in each category is out of this world.  I’ve been going through the nominations in each category and with each blog I check out I am more and more impressed.  We’ve got some great bloggers up here in Canada, eh?

The Urban Daddy has been nominated in three categories;

2010 Canadian Weblog Awards

Family & Parenting,

General Interest,

and Lifetime Achievement.

The Ninjamatics’ 2012 Canadian Weblog Awards are a juried competition which means — no voting – so I don’t have to ask (or beg) people to vote for me.  Yay.

The nominees shortlist will be announced on January 15, 2013, and the winners will be announced on January 31, 2013.

A running blogroll of the nominees is kept on the Ninjamatics website throughout the year so that they can continue to highlight Canada’s blogging talent. 

2012 Canadian Weblog Awards nominee

US Presidential Election: What you need to before you vote, Canadian style.

Mitt Romney, former governor of Massachusetts,...

Official photographic portrait of US President...
Official photographic portrait of US President Barack Obama

As a follower of Canadian politics it’s easy to look at what is going on south of the border and be amazed at the pomp and circumstance that surrounds the election of the US President. 

To be honest, it never seems to stop.  Once the election is over there is intense review and scrutiny of the new president and the former challenger and that occurs daily, right through milestones like “First 100 Days in Office”  to “First year as President” and continues through the halfway term as President and then it all starts all over again as the leaders gear up for a 2-year run to see who is going to run the country for another 4 years.

During this time you will see and hear opinions and endorsements from news stations, other politicians, celebrities and talk show hots, to name a few.  If you’re a democrat, you detest republicans and if you’re a republican, you loathe democrats.  It’s so clear, and so in your face that it’s almost like a scripted affair. 

So if you find yourself today, the day of the election, still undecided then you should understand that it’s okay.  You clearly do not fit into the mold of being either a typical Republican or a Democrat and while it’s wonderful to be open-minded and see things from both sides, it really sucks that you need to make that choice on who to vote for.

Would it not have made your choice so much easier if a politician came out and said something like’ Don’t vote for this guy because his policies don’t make sense because of this (insert actual proof here) or, don’t vote for this guy because he hates kittens.  Right now, in Canada and in the US, the leaders are so polished and they say nothing.  As a result, especially in the US, news media have to track down and interview other party representatives and hope that they say something controversial, not along party lines, or how they actually see something, in order to have something substantial to report on.  The leaders of course, distance themselves from those who made the comments – usually asking them to resign – which starts in motion the typical and expected damage control where the other party concludes that the whole party feels that way and are hiding it, while the party in damage control explain away the comment as if it were uttered by a crazy person.  

We also used to vote based on the way the leaders acted – and looked – during debates.  We cannot do that nowadays because both parties play the debates so well, it’s become a wasted exercise.

So you’re undecided and have to vote.  Here is what you need to know;

President Obama is black.  Awesome.  But that was so 4-years ago.  He’s still black and last time I checked that had absolutely nothing to do with his ability to run a country.  He’s an educated human being, the first black president in the history of the United States and a Democrat.   He’s also been the president during a horrible global recession, so you cannot judge his record on the economy, because it’s not like here in Canada where after all the meltdowns, Canada was seen as the leading country heading out of the recession.  To many, what happened in Canada was expected given that the Prime Minister is a Conservative, and Conservative’s are better with money than Democrats are.  Sorry.  It’s true.

Now, I like Obama for what he did – getting elected, fighting racism, much like I like Ontario Premier Dalton McGuinty who also seems like a really cool guy.  They’re both a little teflon in their own right.  When they talk, people listen.  They are kind, compassionate and appear understanding.  When you accuse them of something underhanded, while they explain, you feel sorry for them and it’s easy to look poorly at their opposition. 

In Ontario, that’s not hard considering Conservative leader Tim Hudak doesn’t exactly give you that warm fuzzy feeling when you look at or listen to him.  He’s not all that compassionate and he doesn’t strike you as a financial wizard.  He’s blah, but he may be an absolute genius and we just don’t know it yet.  Ontarians are waiting for the real Timmy Hudak to break out of his shell, otherwise, the Ontario PC’s are going to need a new figurehead to push their message, and fast.  NDP Leader Andrea Horwath has that charisma, but she’s playing for the wrong team, and while Quebeckers may have been fooled into voting for Jack Layton’s NDP, Ontarians will never fall into that same mistake of voting in a NDP government into this have-not province.  We have recent experiences to fall back on.  It’s not so clear in the US, however.

Back to the US.

The opposition for Obama comes in the form of a gentleman named, Mitt Romney who is a Republican.  Voting for him does not mean you hate black people, nor does it mean that you believe in Pro Life or no-taxes for the super-wealthy or any other tags that the left-wing media like to throw at those on the right.  What it means is that you are taking an open-minded look at a candidate who amassed considerable personal wealth while a citizen of the country you are voting in.  Romney is a businessman.  A very successful businessman who knows how to work with people, with suppliers, and more importantly, he knows how to spend money wisely and where he should and can cut costs.  That experience is invaluable when faced with near crippling debt, I would think.

Toronto Mayor Rob Ford is also a very successful businessman and having all that knowledge and ability in your back pocket helps, especially in times of recession, when you need to look at the country (or city) as a giant organization, which is what it is.  You cannot discount that experience and success.  Sure, Ford is quite rough around the edges, but common sense tells me, and told many voters in the last election, that when times are tough and there is less money floating in the economy that spending more of it just does not make sense.

American’s have lots of needs heading into the next four years and the next leader has to deliver.  They need jobs, they need infrastructure and they need to figure out if bankrupting their country to flex their international muscles is worth it right now.  Americans need to be better educated and Obama knows that.  He wants to hire more math teachers and bring up the collective math knowledge of Americans.  Awesome.  I also agree with a universal health care system – whatever form it takes on doesn’t matter – so long as finally those Americans who have been left behind, and those areas in the US which have been left behind are brought along with it. 

I also feel, however, that there are parts of the US which seem so far behind from the rest of the world, and that is either in their views on equality of all people or straight out accepted racism towards “minorities” and that has got to be eradicated in this President’s term, but doesn’t get enough press.  Geographically, areas, destroyed by the economy – and Detroit comes to mind – has to be propped up by the government so those citizens have a chance to succeed.  In Canada the government tends to prop up delicate economies or regions by placing government offices there and hiring locals to perform government jobs.  The US needs more of that.

All in all, it’s up to you and your political views.  If you believe government’s role is to help those who are unable to help themselves, then you are going to vote for the Democrats and Obama gets a second term. If, however, you feel the government is mismanaging your tax dollars and you want them to do a better job of that, then you are going to turn towards Romney and give him your vote.  But at the end of the day, it’s not the leader you are voting for, nor the colour of their skin, or who they are married to, or which state them come from. 

If, on the other hand, you are casting your vote based on colour, state, looks, or anything superficial – and that’s okay too – because you are getting out there and voting… It’s your democratic right.

If you don’t vote, you cannot bitch about the outcome.