Tag Archives: morning

Pre-Christmas Crowd Avoidance

It is a little silly the lengths to which I will go to avoid getting stuck in a pre-Christmas crowd.

The reality is that I don’t fear crowds. I just don’t happen to like what happens to certain people trapped in their hot parkas for too long, among dozens of other people trapped in their hot parkas for too long. It creates a bit of a pressure cooker effect that raises blood pressures and potentially spills over into an eruption of strong negative emotions.

When you add to the mix the ticking clock of Christmas approaching and stock flying off the shelf, it’s that wild card of not knowing when you might get caught in the crossfire of people whose attitude would get them a permanent placement (with glittering gold stars) on Santa’s naughty list, and a free gift card for anger management training.

Despite buying my first presents in August, making about a hundred lists and checking them twice, and stocking up on anything and everything that doesn’t go bad to reduce my number of store visits in December, there are still things that need to be bought at the last minute for the sake of freshness. I accept that.

But to minimize my exposure to people whose tempers need tempering requires strategy, problem-solving skills and a strong Internet connection. Not only does it demand shopping at off-peak times, but around here it also means dodging snowstorms, freezing rain and Ottawa Senators game night traffic.

To calculate the logistics of this early morning weekend run, it starts with a chart of the last minute items, the location of where I expect to find them, and Google searches to verify at what time each store opens.

I’ll then rearrange the order chronologically to try to be at each stop shortly after they open, to zip in and out before the crowds begin, and before the parking lots turn into inescapable mazes of vehicles parked in improvised spots. Continue reading

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The Morning Newspaper Hurdles

A few weeks ago, I wrote about how I have been enjoying the experience of reading a print version of the newspaper again, as a more relaxing way to enjoy the news.

But each time I start reading one, I cannot help but remember some of the less-than-relaxing mishaps I have encountered over the years while trying to get a copy of the daily paper.

I was a subscriber for many years and home delivery was so punctual you could set your VCR to it. There may have been the rare production issue, vehicle issue or weather issue when the newspaper might not show up exactly on time. Things like that sometimes happened and we understood.

Just the same, I wouldn’t have wanted to be the person at the telephone switchboard. I’m sure some people would get pretty huffy about a postponed periodical or a tardy tabloid especially in the pre-Internet age.

I mean today, we lose our… ahem… we lose our marbles when the news page takes longer than 6 seconds to fully download. I think patience was in greater supply back then.

In my first apartment, there were days when I’d open my front door to find that my newspaper wasn’t there. A gentle call to the newspaper confirmed that it wasn’t due to a production issue, a weather issue nor a delivery issue in my area. It was likely a neighbour, especially when the disappearing newspaper trick would happen in cycles. Continue reading

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My Lifelong Courtship… With Coffee

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURESWhen people ask me the secret to how I am so cheerful all the time, the possible answers are endless. I could chalk it up to any of the many things for which I am grateful including a great family, wonderful friends and colleagues, good health and living a good life. But the one factor that never fails in keeping my spirits high is a great caffeine buzz… one that has probably been going on for over 40 years.

My earliest memories of the sensual experience of good coffee go back to my childhood and the percolator. Whenever we had guests over, the wonderful aroma of percolated coffee would fill the house, which created an association in my head between drinking coffee and its social nature, an association that would last a lifetime.

Maybe once per year I would ask for some, but my underdeveloped taste buds did not fully appreciate coffee just yet, regardless of how much milk or sugar I dumped into my cup. Perhaps that was just as well, I could not imagine a heavily caffeinated version of me in childhood.

It was in my later high school years that the aroma of fresh coffee wafting through the cafeteria heralded that rite of passage and the long standing love affair that continues today with my daily brew. On certain cold mornings or after traveling 15 km on city buses in the middle of snow storms, that first cup of coffee with friends was to become the source of great memories as the heartwarming conversation that accompanied it easily melted away the morning’s chill.

It was in the university years that coffee truly became my best friend. I could always count on coffee to Continue reading

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