Home Hardware

While I was growing up, just north of Hamilton, Ontario, my local hardware store — the place my Dad would take us on Saturday mornings to buy WD-40 or window putty or large carriage bolts — was Weeks Home Hardware. Back in those days their store was housed in a rambling collection of hundred-year-old stone buildings on the banks of Grindstone Creek.

Sometimes, if you needed to buy something extra special, like window screens or copper pipe or glass, you had to go down into their basement workshop; this was at once facsinating and terrifying. From my wee eyes, it appeared that you could buy anything at Weeks. And I’m sure that was almost true.

When I was in grade 9, I won the “Weeks Shield” — for “proficiency,” whatever that meant — and the prize itself was an illustrated dictionary signed by one of the Weeks brothers. For me, this was like a sporty kid getting a prize autographed by Cal Ripken Jr. I still have the dictionary sitting on the shelf beside me.

A couple of years after I left home, Weeks opened a brand new store, the size of a Canadian Tire, up and around the corner from their original location. Their atmosphere plumetted when the did this — hard to recreate that “old time hardware store” feel in a big box — but all reports are that they still have the selection, and the expert staff, and are doing quite well.


Still from Moses Media-produced commerical.

Which brings me to mention Southport Home Hardware, just across the river from us in Stratford. Owned by the APM Group, a sort of Island-style conglomerate that certainly has its detractors, this hardware store — and it’s really more of an appliance, building supply, housewares, lumber and hardware store — comes about as close to Weeks as I’ve ever seen. They have great, helpful staff, excellent selection of just about anything you would ever want, and, as of last year, a bright new large location that somehow manages to feel small and neighbourhood like.

If you live in or around Charlottetown, and you need nails or motor oil or a new oven, I’d suggest you drop in for a visit.

First Kiss

The important thing to know about Irene is that she likes to kiss pretty well just about anything. Well, not anything. But lots of things. Or at least this is the story from her parents.

Irene is 14 months old. We met Irene and her parents, who are vacationing on Prince Edward Island from the Netherlands, while walking on the floating boardwalk at Greenwich yesterday. They had left home just 9 days after the world went all to hell. They’re brave travellers (both for daring to travel now, and for travelling with Irene, who has just learned to walk).

Anyway, yesterday, there on the boardwalk, wee Oliver, who turns one year old on Monday, received his first kiss from a girl his own age. Somehow this made the world seem a little less crazy-mixed-up.

Just in Time Living

I’ve decided to invent a new concept.

If you’re like me, you often find yourself doing what we used to call procrastinating. Let’s say, for example, that you’ve got a Big Report due on Friday morning and you know you’re going to have a busy Thursday: what’s the best thing to do on Wednesday night?

Watch Seinfeld until 12:35 a.m., of course! And then busily work to finish said report deep into Thursday night.

I’ve been a proponent of this approach to work for many years now.

When I was a student of classical history at Trent University in the early 1980s, I could usually be found, in the 5 or 6 hours leading up to an essay deadline, rushing to get thoughts to paper and paper to Professor’s door before the clock struck midnight.

I pay the mortgage the day before it’s due at the bank. I get my car inspected only once the sticker is just about to expire.

And some of my best programming work is done in the compressed few hours the night before all hell will break loose if one project or another remains uncompleted.

This habit comes with attendant guilt, of course. You walk up the stairs, bleary eyed after watching the same Seinfeld episode you’ve seen 33 times before, damning yourself for not having had to sense and discipline to Be Prepared in advance.

I’m happy to report, however, that my New Concept does away with this problem and, indeed, all of the other problems associated with we used to call procrastinating. Not only that, but this new concept turns what used to be a negative into a positive.

My new concept? Just-in-time Living.

This new concept is closely related to the Just-in-time Manufacturing system that’s become popular in recent years in the auto industry. Just look what a recent book says:

With its proven capacity to streamline the manufacturing process, lower inventory, and improve product quality and ROI, JIT may be the basis for a renaissance in American manufacturing.
Just imagine harnessing this sort of power — a renaissance in American manufacturing!! — and applying it to your own life!

One of the central principles of Just-in-time Manufacturing is Lead Time Reduction. What does this mean? Well, one consultant says:

Reducing lead times doesn’t involve speeding up equipment to cut the cycle times or getting plant personnel to work faster. What is does involve is the rapid fulfillment of customer orders and the rapid transformation of raw materials into quality products in the shortest amount of time possible.
I can’t think of a better description of the finely tuned and coordinated operation of staying up until 3:30 a.m. the night before to get a programming project out the door.

So the next time I’m sitting on the couch watching that same episode of Seinfeld (for the 35th time), I will take comfort in the fact that I am actually deep in the practise of Rapid-Response Manufacturing, just a small part of my Just-in-time Life.

I’m available for consultation if you’ve like to learn more about how to apply this New Concept to your own life.

Giuliani for Prime Minister

American Flag It seems clear that the de facto leader of the western world is now New York Mayor Rudolph Giuliani. Throughout the horrors of the past two weeks he has consistently been the only leader, in the U.S. or Canada, to have practically, responsibly, efficiently and with good humour stood before us to report on the aftermaths of September 11.

He comes off as so much better a human being than any other western leader that the rest of them look like dolts by comparison.

Giuliani, of course, has the benefit of being a municipal leader and thus being directly responsible for actual stuff. He doesn’t need to talk about “smokin’ them out of their caves” because he’s too busy calmly talking about death certificates and parking meters and whether the subways are running are not.

But he is at his most eloquent when talking about the psychological realities of the situation.

At his news conference this morning, for example, he talked about how important it is that children aren’t afraid. To quote from the New York Times:

Children should not be afraid, he said. “They should go out and enjoy themselves and play and play ball and study and do the things they normally do. And adults can help children to not be afraid by not being afraid themselves, “The best way of to get your children to stop being afraid is to stop being afraid yourself.”
This kind of talk is so much more comforting and plain-spoken than all the mindless, content-free rhetoric of other leaders. To say nothing of the endless episodes of Oprah on “the healing process.”

Giuliani, who is being rallied to seek a third term as Mayor, understands that part of recovery is the restoration of confidence, and that the restoration of confidence requires, in part, strong leadership. While we in Canada may have effective managers and defenders of our sovereignty, we are sorely lacking strong leaders, people who can inspire us to greatness, calm us in times of hardship and generally, well, lead.

If Rudolph Giuliani wants to run for Canadian Prime Minister I’m ready to work on the campaign.

War

An interesting special on ABC this evening: a session in an elementary classroom with kids talking about the events of September 11, terrorism, etc.

The kids were all very wise and compasionate and sensible. Far more wise and compasionate than their elders. And, almost to a head, they didn’t think we should go to war against, well, whoever.

I’m ashamed to live in a country, a world, where after thousands of years of “civilization” our gut recourse — and indeed our recourse after some time to think — is still to go and blow our aggressors off the face of the earth.

It might actually work, this “infinite justice” — although it could as easily fail, or drag on for years — but once all is said and done and thousands of “ours” and “theirs” are dead or maimed, what is better about the world?

It’s fine to grieve and get angry and fly the flag and sing the rah-rah songs and give money to a telethon — we all need things to distract us from the horrors of last week.

But if we give in to our base instincts, respond to evil with greater evil, then we are stupid, senseless people, guided by stupid, senseless leaders.

How to make Courtesy Support Team stop calling…

If you have any domain names registered with Network Solutions, and you’re based here in Canada, no doubt you’re very familiar with almost daily calls from the folks at the perversely named Courtesy Support Team, an “affiliate business partner of Network Solutions” (as they are always fond of sticking in two or three times in each spam call).

Each time they call, I simply say “never call here again.” And then, the next day, the calls start again.

Thanks to Mark Jeftovic, who had his people do some research, I’m happy to provide the following contact information for this evil bunch:

Courtesy Support Team
2300 Young St. Suite 2103
P.O. Box 2313
Toronto, ON M4P 1E4

Toll free 1.866.448.5598
Fax 1.888.898.2766

I’ve just called them, and sent them a letter of complaint, and asked them to be taken off their calling list. We’ll see if it works or not.

Wind Power: get yours today!

The word on the street is that Maritime Electric (warning: toxic splash page) is now signing people up for their “pay a premium and get power generated from the wind” program.

I’ll be signing up first thing Wednesday morning, and I encourage all Islanders to do so. This is one of those Truly Great Ideas that crys out for broad public support.

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