Saturday, November 22, 2008

Beggars for Money come knocking...

This past couple of weeks saw the three CEO's of GM, Chrysler and Ford coming before the United States' Congress begging for money in order to keep their respective automotive companies operational. However, the CEO's left Washington for Detroit with empty coffee cups still outstretched hoping someone somewhere would drop at least a penny in there. The meetings with Congress didn't go well at all. But really it was the CEO's own fault that things really didn't go well.

The main issue, brought forward by at least two congressional committee members, was the bad optics the automotive company CEO's were displaying towards government, their own workers and the beleaguered American taxpayer in even travelling from Detroit to Washington for the Congressional meetings. California Congressman Brad Sherman (Democrat) showed it best with his simple line of questioning and the responses he received as reported by the Toronto Star:

Brad Sherman of California, asked the three for a show of hands to indicate who flew here on a commercial airlines.

"Let the record show, no hands went up," Sherman said.

Then he asked for a show of hands to count how many would sell their jets immediately and fly back commercial.

"Let the record show, no hands went up,'' Sherman repeated.

The company CEO's had the audacity to charter 3 private planes (1 for each of them) at approximately twenty grand apiece and fly from Detroit to Washington D.C. and back all the while saying some of their companies may run out of money before the presidential inauguration in January 2009. Meanwhile, on US Airways one economy class seat retails at $225 US before taxes.

Even more galling then their private jet setting, the CEOs didn't come with future plans. In fact, Congress sent them back to Detroit to come up with a plan on how they would save each one of their companies. The main question that should be asked on behalf of all American, and soon Canadian, taxpayers is why didn't any of the these three overpriced CEOs have the gonads to present to Congress a contingency plan on how they were going to get their company out of economic trouble and back into the drivers seat and competing again? Of course it doesn't take making two million dollars a year to figure that out. But apparently not one of them thought of this as the Congressional committee asked the CEOs to return with said plans.

Memo to overpriced executives everywhere....if you're going to ask for taxpayers money to bail out your company, please at the very least have a plan on how you plan to move your company forward using the taxpayers money before you head to the Nation's, State's or Provincial capital.

At least the Big 3 CEO's have started planning for their second round trip to Washington and back. The first on the list was to agree to carpool down to Washington instead of using three separate private jet planes. This move should save them probably close fifty eight thousand dollars round trip. Second, as per Congress' instructions, each of the CEOs is coming up with a plan on how to move their company forward if they were to receive an American taxpayer funded bailout.

The CEOs of the big three car companies wasted a trip to Congress. They failed had the audacity of travelling separately at twenty grand a piece from Detroit to Washington as well as not presenting anything that would convince the Congressional committee that the car companies had sound financial planning beyond the possible bailout. Basically this last trip was a complete waste of time and money. The sad part is the trio will return to Washington again asking for more. But who knows what kind of plans this triumvirate will present.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Lunchin in Boston over Pizza

Boston Pizza on UrbanspoonThis afternoon Yvonne and I headed northward on rainy day for lunch out at Boston Pizza at the East Gwillimbury location. We had been to this location before on a Saturday evening last summer for an attempt at dinner, but with a forty five minute wait, we decided to vacate and try our luck for dinner out at another location.

This time I figured why not try for lunch. We were seated right away, probably because the place was less than half full. Apparently lunch out and a matinee movie at the nearby movie theatre is not to appetizing for whatever reason.

Our server, Heather R, brought our drinks and food quickly after ordering. We didn't have to wait over ten minutes to begin eating.

I ordered a Meateor pizza with your average Pepsi to wash it down. Yvonne ordered the Pollo Pomodoro Linguini and washed it down with her trademark "Glass of Water."

The pizza was perfectly cooked with lots of meat (e.g. smoked ham, pepporoni, lean ground beef, etc.) and Yvonne said her dish was "OK". (If you know Yvonne, OK means it was satisfactory).

All in all, Boston Pizza is decent Saturday afternoon for lunch out. But watch out for Saturday's as usually this location is lined up out the door.

Saturday, November 08, 2008

Ottawa kills portrait gallery

TheStar.com Canada Ottawa kills portrait gallery

The Toronto Star reports today that the Conservative government has ended the project for a National Portrait gallery that had been launched by the then Liberal government in 2001. Since 2001 the National Portrait gallery has been suffering from bureaucratic ineptitude and cost overuns (as pointed out in an earlier post of mine on "The Art of Rant" here).

The death of the National Portrait gallery is not surprising since all that has come about after last year's federal request for private developers to tender ideas for the gallery was silence. Basically the idea was for private developers propose how a city like Toronto, Calgary, Vancouver, and others would host the National Portrait gallery with the federal government choosing the best idea and funding it from there. This was despite the former United States embassy, sitting directly across Wellington Street from Parliament Hill, sitting empty and originally slated to host the gallery.

Before the Conservative govenment floated that idea, the Portrait gallery had been slaighted for the old US embassy which the Americans vacated in 2001 to their new digs on Sussex Drive in the Byward Market of Ottawa. The gallery, as announced by the Liberal government at that time was supposed to be open in 2005 in the embassy, but nothing ever came of it except the old American flag being lowered and a Canadian flag going up and some overpriced paintwork on the walls.

In the end, it seems all the idea of a National Portrait gallery turned out to be was a waste of a couple million of taxpayers dollars and valiant dreams that went nowhere.

Sunday, November 02, 2008

Retail Frustration at it's best

On Saturday Yvonne and I headed to Real Canadian Superstore in East Gwillimbury. I needed to pick up a few things and she wanted to check out the Joe Fresh department. Another bonus was I had a coupon for 5,000 free PC Points if we spent over $50. This coupon would assist in putting my PC Point balance over the coveted 20,000 points which means $20 in free groceries. CHACHING!

But sadly it wasn't to be. The Superstore visit turned out to be the first stop in retail hell. I went into the Superstore to look for two products:

1. Scrubbing Bubbles refill container for the Scrubbing Bubbles Automatic Shower cleaner.


2. Replacement brush heads for my Philips Sonicare Toothbrush.



The Real Canadian Superstore was sold out of the Scrubbing Bubbles Shower refill containers. However, they had lots of starter kits. In fact they had so many starter kits, there were cases of them on top of the shelving units ready to be pulled down in order to stock the shelves at least 2 times over. But the main question is, wouldn't you need to refill these shower kits eventually?

As for the Philips Sonicare brush heads? Nope...Real Canadian Superstore doesn't even carry the toothbrush.

Yvonne didn't find anything at Joe Fresh she liked. So we left the store.

We walked south on Yonge Street to Wal-Mart. They were also out of Scrubbing Bubbles and out of my replacement toothbrush heads. The store, of course being a Saturday, was crawling with idiots who were love to wedge themselves into an aisle with their little Wal-Mart shopping carts and excommunicating themselves to their own little world of shopping. This just gets me aggravated as to how people have become so unpolite towards other shoppers who are just trying to get in, grab a few things and get out. So getting out of Wal-Mart with idiots blocking the aisles slowed us down a bit.

We continued our trek south, skipping Canadian Tire, and headed to Zellers without much hope of finding what we had set out for. The Zellers store at Upper Canada Mall. Over the past year this store had been under extensive renovations in order to expand the store and modernize the look. The store's improvements have paid off! I quickly found the toothbrush heads and, skipping over a couple of aisles, I had two choices of scents to choose from in the automatic shower cleaner refills.

To say the least I was really dissapointed with the Real Canadian Superstore and Wal-Mart stock people. They can't seem to keep proper amounts of product on the shelves. This is an absolute Pet Peeve of mine. Companies that sell products that require refills, like the automatic shower cleaner, and then fail to work with the retailers to ensure enough product is on the shelves for their customers. The automatic shower cleaner refill bottles I couldn't find at the Aurora No Frills, East Gwillumbury Real Canadian Superstore and the Newmarket Wal-Mart. If your going to market the product as refillable or have replacement parts, then sell the refills or parts! Otherwise sell the product as "DISPOSABLE!" because if you can't refill it/replace the part what good is it?

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