Category Archives: Misc blogs

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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When Door-To-Door Sales Were Banned

On March 1st, a province-wide ban went into effect in Ontario, effectively putting a stop to high pressure sales of heating, air conditioning and water services at our front doors. What a relief!

While I feel bad for the folks who were trying to make an honest living in the business of door-to-door sales, the sad reality is that in recent years, a few rotten apples spoiled it for everyone. Some sales people were becoming pushy, confrontational and some were downright creepy.

I remember one young lady who looked like Jan Brady from the Brady Bunch, who was selling a locked-in price plan for natural gas. After I politely declined the offer and started gently shutting the door, she wrapped up the conversation saying “you’ll beeee soooorryyyyy” with the same tone and inflection as a dire warning from a horror movie. That was a little creepy!

I also remember an argumentative type that got my blood boiling when I innocently thought this might be a good time to ask questions and to get more information. As I started asking very genuine questions about the service he was offering, he kept asking me why I needed to know that, as his tone got increasingly defensive with every passing question. When he started raising his voice and I started feeling rattled, I decided it was time to end the conversation. He kept talking after I closed the door.

It was the pushy people who wanted to get into the house and check out my water heater that pushed me over the edge, when challenging my own authority to say “no, thank you”. Holy invasion of privacy, Batman! Continue reading

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Filed under Health and Wellness, Humour, mental health, Misc blogs

When Things Are Oversealed for Your Protection

A couple of months ago, I was home from work with a bad case of bronchitis. Not only was my breathing affected, but the body aches and the rapid swings between feeling hot and cold had me running through wardrobe changes faster than Cher at her Farewell Tour.

At one point, I was feeling so crummy, I was taking the maximum daily dosage of pain reliever. In doing so, I quickly depleted my supply and needed to open a new bottle. Little did I know the ordeal that was lying ahead:

The box was “sealed for my protection”. I understood why. I believe many of us can remember the events of 1982 that led to the reason why medication packages are designed and secured in the way that they are.
Check out this link for a refresher: https://www.pbs.org/newshour/health/tylenol-murders-1982

But despite the multiple attempts, with the “brute force” I was putting into it – maybe it was my weakened state – I just couldn’t tear through the simple plastic seal on the cardboard box, no matter how hard I tried. The packaging was visibly mangled, but I just couldn’t break in. Continue reading

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Filed under 50+, Health and Wellness, Humour, Misc blogs

When a Cell Phone Ruins the Movie

I was at the movie theatre one night, on the edge of my seat, holding my breath, when Dame Judi Dench was in the middle of a long pause, about to utter with masterful precision the words that will earn her next Academy Award nomination… when I was suddenly blinded by a bright blue screen, from the idiot in front of me, checking her phone.

Needless to say, I was devastated to have been dragged out of the precious moment where I completely escaped my own life, to live vicariously through the characters of this cinematic masterpiece. I felt robbed.

I leaned over and whispered sternly, “That’s very distracting!” The idiot turned back and gave me a glare like she was the offended one.

Are you kidding me?

After she turned around, I offered her my look of scorn and severe disdain with one eyebrow raised and one lowered, accompanied by a middle-finger salute, a gesture I reserve for the rare few who crack through my calm exterior and get my blood instantly boiling. With that done, I was able to let it go and reconnect with the movie.

I don’t know why but lately, it seems that every visit to a theatre has at least one person checking their phone during the movie which is completely unfair to the rest of the movie patrons.

A movie theatre is a place where people go to escape from day-to-day reality. It’s a place to forget one’s troubles, to get inspired and to be taken away to a different world. Continue reading

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Filed under 50+, Humour, Misc blogs, Theatre

When a Colleague Has Food Allergies

A couple of months ago, I overheard a young lady and her colleague on the elevator, in a conversation that went something like this:

“Are you going to the pizza lunch?”

“Yes, I guess we have to. It’s mandatory.”

“Except for those people who asked for gluten-free.” She started shaking her head and continued, “Come on, it’s a free lunch.”

Ever since that conversation I still find myself shaking my head in disbelief that anyone could say something so unenlightened. Whether a person has an allergy, an intolerance, a medical condition, a dietary restriction or a preference, people’s food choices need to be respected. Period!

I suspect that the young lady in question probably does not have a family member with a food allergy or intolerance, for her to say that a lunch being free is a good reason to eat something that could pose an allergy risk.

In my case, wheat can turn my world completely upside down for about 24 hours. Imagine if you will, your absolute worst stomach flu, resulting in frequent, persistent, urgent and (please excuse the vulgarity) “explosive” trips to the washroom. Then add the sensation of something sharp painfully working its way through the digestive system. Continue reading

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Filed under food, Health and Wellness, Misc blogs

New Year’s Resolution 2018: Inner Peace (Again!)

When I look back on last year’s blog post “Resolution: Inner Peace”, I remember how tired I was with the status quo at that time. For someone who is usually seen as positive, upbeat and generally calm, cool and collected, something just wasn’t right. Even in life’s quietest moments, I found my core jumping into “fight or flight” mode and didn’t know why. Little stressors were sparking up stronger reactions within me and anxiety was starting to take over.

I also found myself having a hard time letting go of chapters that were seemingly concluded. This wasn’t me! As this prolonged over time, I found my energy was heading downhill.

Despite having a huge tool kit of stress management techniques that I had accumulated over the years, I just couldn’t keep these stressors in check and to get past them. Negative emotions were festering and growing. I couldn’t get the upper hand on the situation and I didn’t know why.

I felt like I was headed the wrong way down a one-way street and getting farther away from the more serene self that I aspire to be. My 2017 resolution for seeking out inner peace was probably the best declaration I ever made. I was prepared for change.

Three anxiety attacks into 2017, I had hit my limit. It was time to seek help. My referral to a psychotherapist was the catalyst that helped me begin to break the cycle of anxiety.

But it wasn’t easy. I would say this was one of the toughest projects I had ever undertaken, having to recall and relive many of the stressors throughout my lifetime to find out what they had in common. Continue reading

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Filed under 50+, How to, Inspiring, mental health, Misc blogs

Ten Things to Do With the Extra Hour

If I had to pick a favourite between the “Spring Forward” and “Fall Back” time change, the winner has to be “Fall Back”. Not only do we regain the hour that we lost in the spring, but in the days that follow, in feeling sleepier at bedtime and falling asleep faster, it seems to make for a more restful night’s sleep.

The downside is that we are thrown back into darkness earlier in the afternoon. Losing that hour of natural light late in the day seems to make those winter months feel like they drag on and on, thus invoking the urge to curl up on the couch with a pillow, a blanket and the remote… or is that just me?

But on the upside, that extra hour holds so many possibilities for things to do. Here are ten ideas:

10. Catch up on the things that weren’t completed when the hour was taken away last spring

In our time-starved, busy lives, it can be pretty amazing how much we can miss that hour in the spring. At a time when we are itching to shed our winter parkas and fling the windows wide open to welcome the new season with open arms, deducting an hour from the spring cleaning, gardening or outdoor sports training agenda seems counterintuitive when there is so much to do.

9. Adjusting the clocks

Thankfully, many of the clocks in the house take care of themselves now and reset automatically. But for the ones that are not connected to computers and that need a little manual intervention (and sometimes require a refresher from its user manual), it seems that a good 15 minutes can be gobbled up just on clock detail.

8. Debating the merits of the time change

Between the recent reports on regions looking to remain on Standard Time year-round, to the articles weighing the pros and cons or speculating on the actual savings of Daylight Savings Time, a reader could easily use up that extra hour just reading up on the extra hour. Continue reading

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