Category Archives: Humour

The Halloween Candy Calculations

With Halloween just around the corner, two questions that seems to be increasingly on our minds are “How many Halloween treats will we need?” and “Is it too early to buy?”

When I was growing up, I don’t recall there being much debate. The number seemed generally stable from year to year. When the neighbourhood’s teens felt they were getting too old to be trick or treating, younger kids were replacing them. And if I remember correctly, 60 to 70 kids seemed to be the norm for many years. When it came to Halloween, it was suburban stability.

Also, back then, Halloween candy didn’t grace our store shelves until after the “Back-to-school” season was over… when kids were back at school. I don’t recall any retail shenanigans of having Halloween candy on the shelves a couple of weeks into the summer break.

In the couple of weeks leading up to Halloween, Mom would buy 60-70 treats. On Halloween night, most (if not all) of the treats would be distributed. The end.

But that hasn’t been the case recently.

When I moved into my own home, as a first-time owner, I took great joy in the preparation and in the decorating. I even dressed up a few times too to greet the kiddies at the door. It’s been a lot of fun.

I enjoyed seeing the thought and creativity that went into the costumes, especially for the toddlers who were out on their first trick or treating journeys.

But in my new home, the fluctuations in the number of kids, year over year, has been like a wild ride on the New York Stock Exchange.

The slightest drizzle seemed to keep them away. On a clear night, the doorbell never stopped ringing, and with kids I have never seen before. Trying to figure out that magic number as a happy medium for both eventualities became an increasingly difficult challenge.

Plus, the early arrival of Halloween candy on store shelves made it even more challenging.

I tried to figure out a fool-proof algorithm to determine how many treats I needed to buy from one year to the next but there are so many variables, it has been hard to get the average number right:
– How many kids came to the door last year? What was the weather like?
– How many kids came to the door the year before? What was the weather like?
– How many kids may have aged out of the trick or treating cohort?
– How many older kids may be returning to the trick or treating cohort?
– How many little ones may be joining the trick or treating cohort for the first time?
– On what night of the week will Halloween night fall (i.e., Fridays and Saturdays are generally busier)
– Are the Halloween treats at such a sweet price that I should buy early?
– How many weeks ahead of Halloween do I plan on buying the treats?
– Will there be another opportunity to get these treats at this price?
– How much discipline do I have this year to just put them away and not dip into the reserve of Halloween candy before the big night?
– Am I watching my waistline?
– Am I watching carbs?
– Am I watching my sugar intake?
– Am I watching my caloric intake?
– Have I been working out enough lately, so that it won’t matter if one “accidentally” fell out of the bag?
– If I do dip into the reserve of Halloween treats, will I have the opportunity to replenish before the big night?
– What is the probability of scooping some up at the last minute at 50% off?
– And closer to the big night… what is the weather forecast for that night?

One year, I contemplated buying treats that contained gluten, because there would be NO WAY I would be eating them, and any leftovers would have to be brought to the office. But then I started feeling guilty and sympathetic toward the poor kids who may have been gluten intolerant as well. That wouldn’t have been fun for them.

Then in the years that I was disciplined enough to not sneak a treat or two before the big night, the weather would turn ugly and then I’d be stuck with all these treats.

I forget how many years ago it was, on one night in particular, I think I had less than 20 trick or treaters, despite really great weather conditions. My algorithm failed me! Sheldon Cooper would have lost it.

After the time I spent that year on the treats calculation, the careful shopping for treats at a good price, the creativity and the decoration, as much as I loved the overall experience, it was a letdown. My inner Martha Stewart felt rejected.

The next year, my hot glue gun was still feeling depressed from the year before and suggested we take a break. I went shopping instead, thinking that maybe this would be a good night to get started on Christmas shopping, especially since Christmas stock had been out before the Back-to-school sales were underway.

What a revelation! The mall was 100% fully functional and absolutely empty. It’s like the mall was entirely mine. It was a perfect opportunity to browse for the perfect gifts.

There were no crowds, no one was pulling tantrums, there was no one walking slowly and staring at their phone while bumping into people, I wasn’t too hot carrying my coat and parcels, and service was impeccable! And the best part, I had no Halloween treats left over to tempt me.

Since then, if I ever was feeling less than spirited about Halloween, Christmas shopping has remained an option. The reality is that without kids of my own, Halloween is what I choose to make it.

Even though I have tried to figure out a ball park estimate of how many treats I needed, I gave up trying to nail the exact number like a gymnast dismounting after a routine and sticking his/her landing perfectly.

There are too many variables to get the perfect number, and the early availability of the treats is a test for anyone’s will power.

As a new homeowner with the best of intentions in having enough treats for everyone, I stressed about it a lot. But that’s not the case anymore. If I run a little short on treats, I shut off the lights and call it a night. If I end the evening with leftovers, I exercise a little discipline and get through them a little at a time.

It may not be efficient from a mathematical perspective, but it’s all about the spirit of Halloween fun.

Did you enjoy this post? If you did, please know that there are plenty more where that came from! If you haven’t already, you can check out the rest of my blog at andrebegin.blog. From there, you can click on the “Follow” button to receive future posts directly in your inbox.
Also, don’t be shy, feel free to tell a friend or to share the link.
Sincere thanks for reading!
Have a great day,
André

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Filed under Humour, Misc blogs

50 Reasons Why I Love Having a Cat in My Life

1. For a cat, life is pretty simple.
2. She doesn’t linger about the past.
3. She doesn’t worry about the future.
4. She lives in the moment.
5. She is a constant reminder about keeping things in perspective.
6. She reminds me not to sweat the small stuff.
7. She doesn’t judge me… or at least, I don’t think she does.
8. Transporting those 33 lb bags of kitty litter keeps me fit.
9. The loud meowing greeting I get when I get home from work is always a treat! It could be that maybe she’s just hungry and wants her food now, but I hear “I missed you” in every meow.
10. When I come home from work and I need to make the immediate transition to cat dad, it helps me to leave the office at the office. Continue reading

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Filed under Cats, Humour, Inspiring

When Did Taking Turns Go Out of Style?

“Could I help the next person in line?” the cashier yelled as she opened her checkout line.

I was the next person in line.

But before I had time to take my three small items off the conveyor belt, the two people behind me had scurried over to the new checkout line like rats running with a slice of pizza in a New York subway.

I had no opportunity to take my rightful place in the line of the new checkout.

Still, I stood there horrified. Compounded by the aggressiveness and determination with which the two people behind me jumped over, I wasn’t sure if I was witnessing a scene at a grocery store or a National Geographic special featuring lions closing in on their prey.

Back when I was a kid, that offence would have been worthy of a time-out and one or two weeks’ allowance. As well, it would have been compounded with a guilt trip started by a long glare with disappointed eyes and a suspiciously calm, “Didn’t I raise you better than that?”

I’ll never forget those times… wonderful childhood memories!

But also, important life lessons.

Yet, on a daily basis, the underlying “Me first, and screw everybody else” self-entitled attitude bewilders me. I see it on the roads, I see it in malls, I see it on vacation… I see it pretty much everywhere. Continue reading

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Filed under 50+, Humour, Inspiring

50 Reasons to Love a Good Book

1. A good book can pick you up when you’re feeling down.
2. A good book can help you relax when you’re feeling wound up.
3. A good book can help you get to sleep, on a sleepless night.
4. A good book can be the perfect diversion when you experience racing thoughts.
5. A good book can help you feel centred and in the moment.
6. A good book can make you laugh, make you cry, everything in between, and all of the above.
7. A good book can be the perfect companion on a rainy or snowy day when you don’t want to go out.
8. A good book can draw out strong emotions.
9. A good book can teach you something you didn’t know.
10. A good book can keep you on the edge of your seat.
11. A good book can make you laugh.
12. A good book can be a guilty pleasure.
13. A good book can be hard to put down.
14. A good book can be so compelling, you can’t wait to pick it up again.
15. A good book can be so compelling, you’re sad when it ends. Continue reading

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Filed under Humour, Inspiring, Lists, Uncategorized, Writing

The Hunt for the Perfect Lawn Chair

There is nothing more relaxing than enjoying a warm summer day in the great outdoors, in the company of friends or family, feasting on barbecued food and sipping a frosty beverage… until your back locks up and you can’t get out of the freaking lawn chair.

Or conversely, to not be able to get out of bed the next day from lower back pain.

This happened to me a while ago which had my normally brisk walking pace down to a slow shuffle much like the character Tim Conway used to play on the Carol Burnett Show. I was back at my trusty chiropractor’s office for a few sessions to get things back to normal.

Since that time, it has become an annual ritual: testing lawn chairs in the hope of finding… THE ONE!

If you have been around for a few decades as I have, you’ll probably remember that the worst thing that used to happen with lawn chairs was to get up and having a funny checked pattern imprinted on the back of your thighs from the plastic webbing. I miss those days of plaid thighs. But it wasn’t the challenge that it is today.

I’ve accepted the reality of blood circulation randomly deciding to cut out, grunting when I pick up things from the floor and discs degenerating by the hour. These “joys” are tempered by the bright side that waking up with a new ache or pain is actually a sign of still being alive to write about it. Continue reading

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Filed under 50+, Health and Wellness, Humour

When Vacation Time Becomes Home Maintenance Time

Maybe it’s a product of having a busy life and many interests, but I long for the day when I can take a vacation and for it to be entirely made up of time to put my feet up, read a good book and just relax in well-earned peace and tranquility.

Don’t get me wrong, I love being a home owner. I also love taking care of my investment. The problem is that through a normal work week, when you factor in time for social activities, writing, cooking, cleaning and laundry, there isn’t much time or energy left to bring out the power tools and the paint cans to knock things off my home maintenance to-do list.

And even when I do set aside time for do-it-yourself (DIY) projects, I want it done right the first time. I don’t want to rush the project and risk making a mess. For that reason, it needs a generous time allotment.

It would be one thing if I had no natural inclination for DIY projects or if I hated them, but I don’t. I actually think they are a joy and a privilege.

The worst part is that I am responsible for the to-do list and I tend to expect a lot of myself, so the list does get a little ambitious.

That being the case, the list of projects often get deferred to the only time where time and patience are in good supply: vacations… or should I say, stay-cations. Continue reading

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Filed under 50+, Humour

My Love/Hate Relationship with Software Updates

As a blogger and as a writer, a well-functioning computer is absolutely essential to ensure the smooth flow of ideas from the brain to the device.
But to get to that point, do the software updates have to be so long, painful and intrusive?

Whether at home or at the office, it seems that computers have a mind of their own when it comes to updates. Even though I have Windows Update on a strict schedule to seek, download and process updates in the middle of the night (an option for which I am so-o-o-o grateful), it’s the other software applications that need to take a lesson if they don’t want to be deleted from my life.

How many times do I have a glimmer of creative brilliance, only for my keyboard to stop responding in the middle of it, as a dialogue box pops up telling me to save all my work for an urgent update that will download in 5 minutes? Of course, as Murphy’s Law has it, updates like this happen most in the middle of corporate emergencies with tight deadlines. Stupid machine!

On another occasion, I showed up for work knowing I had a meeting 5 minutes after my arrival. I just needed to see where the meeting was being held and I would be on my merry way. But no! My computer wouldn’t allow me to check my calendar as it needed to make an update as soon as I got in. Why couldn’t it do it just before I arrived, when it was on but idle? Stupid machine! Since then, before leaving the office, I review my calendar for the next day in case of early meetings… just in case! Continue reading

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Filed under Humour, Writing