I found a house

I found a house to move into.

I filled out a rental application and I was accepted.

I’m moving.

It’s surreal to say that. I’ve wanted this for what feels like a lifetime. Now that it’s finally happening, part of me is waiting for the shoe to drop. Part of me thinks it’s too good to be true and something has to go wrong.

I’m trying not to jinx it. But, big news… I FOUND A HOUSE! It’s a beautiful house in a really nice neighbourhood. It has air conditioning! (If anyone who’s reading this is from a country where air conditioning is normal, it’s really more of a luxury and a rarity in homes in Canada) It also has a really beautiful kitchen that’ll allow me to reclaim my love of cooking. And, something I’ve never had before in my life, it has a walk in closet. A walk in closet! I’ll have felt like I’ve officially arrived when I have a closet so large that I can change in my closet each day.

Could it be true? Could things be really falling into place? Could I really luck out and get everything I’ve ever seen for my future? My office is in the city, in a skyscraper, on the 20th floor. Now I’ve got a perfect place just outside of downtown and it’s gorgeous and it’s close enough to the office that I won’t get stuck in traffic, but far enough from downtown that rent is fucking amazing.

How did I get this lucky?

For so long now I’ve been really down-and-out, so to speak. I’ve felt as though there’s nothing left for me, there’s nowhere to go and I’d be stuck in mediocrity and hell for the rest of my days. It’s weird to have hope again. This isn’t a familiar feeling to me. Finding a job during a global pandemic? Four leaf clovers… Finding a gorgeous new build home with rent the same as any apartment and older home in the city? Freaking pot of gold at the end of the rainbow, it feels like.

Now I just need to pack.

AND PLAN.

For a new life in a new city.

I’m trying to do things right this time… take things slow… savour the victories. Since you can’t get these moments back, I want to remember the feeling I felt when things finally started turning around for me.

I’m beyond excited to move into this home and start making it mine. I’m also looking forward to what comes through this road ahead. I’m hoping it breeds a lot of contentment. Perhaps, if I’m really lucky, a little adventure.

Time to pack my bags…

It’s almost Friday (a random assortment of thoughts)

As I write this I am watching three black bears across the road, down about three hundred feet from our yard, picking through the neighbours garbage.

You would think that living in a place this remote, people would know by this point that there are bears… that bears are awake during spring and summer and that their garbage should be kept behind their fence. Perhaps the neighbours just enjoy cleaning garbage that’s been torn up and tossed around their front yard. Yeah, that’s probably it.

Silly neighbours…

For lack of a smoother transition, British Columbia now has an official plan of action to reopen the economy, send kids back to school and define our new normal. The plan, slated to take place over the next eighteen months, is filled with holes, leaving people with more questions than answers, but at least it’s a plan at this point. The government isn’t haphazardly saying ‘open back up and pretend as though COVID never happened’. Because I know that’s definitely happening in a lot of places around the world.

What does that mean for travel?

I don’t know.

My brother invited me to Norway for Christmas. Does it make me a negative person if I don’t believe that international travel for leisure will be a thing by then? British Columbia isn’t planning for our tourism industry to reopen for a long time.

I have ALWAYS wanted to see Stavanger and the truly breathtaking surrounding region. But, I don’t think it’s worthwhile for my brother to sink his money into plane tickets for me when a trip like that is anything but certain in a COVID world.

I was talking about it with MarlaOnTheMove (she’s a fellow British Columbian) and honestly, the way I figure, we’re going to be in this province for the forseeable future. And, hearing how much she’s dealing with in trying to get refunds for her trips, I really don’t know if it’s worth it.

I’m so negative tonight. I know. I’m trying not to be. I just keep telling myself that I’m being realistic. And realistic, in a 2020 world is important right now.

On the subject of travel, did anyone else see the Axl Rose/Steve Mnuchin twitter spat? I know ya’ll are tired of hearing my opinions about politics, so I’ll just say that 2020 is whoah.

My anxiety has been pretty high this week. I’m doing what I can to cope but it’s been difficult. There’s just so much uncertainty that it’s hard to keep a calm frame of mind. I’m trying. But I’m also having troubles getting out of bed each day. I won’t lie about that.

Alright, that’s enough word vomit for tonight.

If you’ve read this, I hope you’re safe, healthy and sane. Sending best wishes from me and the bear sleuth.

Predatory marketing during a pandemic

Disclaimer: When I started this was meant to, in fact, be a post about predatory marketing during a pandemic. As I started thinking further, and rambling, it unfolded into a lot more than initially intended. All that being said, I was unsure of what to change the title of this post to… hence the original title only being applicable to a portion of what I am talking about.

What’s the appropriate way to do business during a pandemic?

This is a subject that I’ve been thinking a lot about the past few weeks. Whilst we’ve been aware of Corona Virus since New Year’s Day (here in Canada), things didn’t really start getting bad until the end of February. The end of February also marked a distinct turning point in this country, a turning point in which both people and corporations, companies, businesses and entrepreneurs began to show their true colours.

I’ve seen a lot of blatant disregard for the human condition the past few months. Racist dog-whistles putting Asian communities across the world at risk, fights about which resources should be put where, people hoarding groceries and cleaning supplies forcing a lot of vulnerable citizens to go without. It’s been a trying time for our world. And, amidst it all, though I’m sure there’s more happening on the inside they’re not telling us of, a lot of business is acting as though it’s business as usual.

But is it?

To quote one of my favourite books:

“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of light, it was the season of darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair

-Charles Dickens

I guess I should preface this with saying that I did a double major of Marketing and Economics while at University. I remember falling into the subject my first year as a mandatory requirement, and for the next three and a half years switching all of my electives to relate to Economics.

To its definition, economics is the social science that studies the production, distribution, and consumption of goods and services. More than it’s definition though, economics is the study of people. How we act and react to the world around us. What we deem important, what are needs, what are wants and what are frivolous things that we coax ourselves into purchasing.

Though it might not seem it from the outside, Economics and Psychology are two closely related subjects.

For the past year I’ve also been consulting for an economic development firm. The hours have been sporadic, at times non-existent, but it’s reignited my passion for people and the way they do things, and how someone (or some thing, in the case of what I’m talking about) can project behaviours based on the state of the world.

Basically, if you want effective marketing, you need to understand people – both from an economic and a psychological standpoint.

Wow, okay. Longest intro ever.

Does anyone else have an email inbox that has been inundated with ‘special offers’ from what seems like every company on earth the past month? Is anyone else getting special text message offers from other companies, of things they can do to take advantage of this sale that “they never do!”? No? Just me? Well, I speak from personal opinion anyway, so I’ll keep going.

When companies react to a crisis, they can take one of three routes:

Route 1) Understand that people are hurting, struggling or going through tough times and try to help. This can be done in a number of ways, using Corona Virus as the subject matter, examples include:

  • Breweries creating hand sanitizer to ship to medical facilities, senior care facilities, homeless shelters and so on and so forth
  • Clothing manufacturers halting production of clothing in their warehouses to have workers create protective masks to be sent to health care workers on the front lines
  • A basic example is just companies taking the burden. What I mean by this is, changing in-person jobs to online jobs. Purchasing the software and safety equipment necessary for the employees to be properly, and adequately looked-after because they value their employees

Companies that take option one are also the companies that understand, during a pandemic, that up to two thirds of the population are going to become very careful about how and where they spend their money. These companies aren’t about to slam products down your throat. They will, continue to market their products as done before, but they are acknowledging the fact that we’re living through unprecedented times and that there is no road map for life right now.

Route 1 is an option that I would personally consider to be a very productive means to support society… customers or not, during times of need. I have seen considerable examples of this during the past month. Vessi, a Canadian sneaker brand, gave away free shoes to any health care worker that could provide them proof of their employment/job. Tristan Style, a mid-high end Canadian fashion brand, is now paying all seamstresses in their warehouse to create protective masks and visors for health care workers.

Taking a closer look at communities across the country, there are companies who have taken this crisis head-on and are responding in productive, albeit not-profitable, ways to help. These companies are not only dedicating their efforts towards helping people in the front lines of this pandemic, they’re also helping each and every one of their employees by keeping them working. These are the companies that deserve support through ‘your’ business both now, and once the fog has cleared..

Route 2) Close or limit operations. Either for good, or for an indefinite amount of time, laying off or firing workers that relied on that employment as a means to feed their families and financially support them through said crisis.

Route 2 is a hard road to take and a hard pill to swallow. As much as we’d like to believe that everyone can stay open whilst not churning profit, it’s just not feasible. I understand that. But I also understand there are two types of businesses that have closed during this period. Those who were forced to close because they cannot financially support their employees to work through this time, and those who chose to close because the do not want to financially support their employees to work through this time.

It’s worth noting that in a grey area here also is Amazon. Amazon, a company that is.. half open(?) at this time, but is also not paying for health insurance or sick leave for any employees. I honestly don’t know enough about his personal financials to verify the validity of the statement, but I read online that Jeff Bezos (a man with more money then he could ever spend in his lifetime) could pay for basic health insurance for every single employee that works for Amazon and he would still have a personal fortune of more than 80 billion dollars. I’m not saying that Amazon is the devil here, I’m just providing all sorts of input. Nevertheless, I digress.

Through this pandemic there are businesses that have chosen to close. They were not forced to close. They opted to lay off, or fire, their employees and just close their doors because it’s easier. They’re cutting their losses, literally and figuratively, and will revisit at a later date. These are the businesses that I truly believe do not deserve time or money when all is said and done.

Route 3) PANDEMIC MARKETING. This is where the vultures come out. Pandemic marketing is a term of reference for any corporation, company, small business or entrepreneur who has tried to take advantage of this situation to better their business/financial standing. I refer to them as vultures because these companies, while aware that in times of trouble, crisis or panic are aware that people get more careful about what they spend money on, will market the fucking hell out of you just to see how much money they can get. Examples include:

  • The big players – Walmart, Costco, Home Depot, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube, etc…
  • The mid-size players – Sephora, clothing brands like American Eagle or JCrew, national chains like Petro Canada (that don’t seem to understand price gouging is illegal)
  • The predatory players – Any and all MLM companies.
  • The smaller players (these are the players who are trying to hide their pandemic marketing behind a message of ‘just looking out for you’) – these include smaller businesses, maybe the local carpet supplier who’s trying to convince you that right now, right this very instant, is the perfect time for you to redo all of the flooring in your home

Whether it through email, text message, direct facebook messages, sponsored instagram posts, youtube videos, however you’re seeing it, I guarantee you’re seeing it.

“BUY NOW FOR 40% OFF. WE NEVER DO SALES THIS EPIC!” – Carpet One

“If you purchase during these difficult times, not only will you have the ‘hospital staff care kit’ (I’m not lying, they actually named it that) but we’ll throw in the energy fizz bath bomb and hand sanitizer as well!” – Arbonne

“Walmart has just what you need to get you and your family through this together! Also, take 40% off clearance items!” – Walmart

“Get a luxury mini when you spend $35, free shipping if you spend $50 and a coupon for 25% off your next purchase if you spend $80.” Sephora

So, upon first glance, these don’t seem all that bad, do they? Well, minus the Arbonne kit. Any company that is selling overpriced hygiene items they’re referring to as the ‘Hospital Staff care kit’ during a pandemic is a new level of low. But, as far as advertisements, these seem somewhat innocent.

Except they’re coming every day. Sometimes multiple times a day. Sephora knows that people don’t need makeup to get them through a pandemic, because they’re not going out. That’s why they’re trying to bait people with these ‘special offers’ that aren’t so special. Act now and get a luxury mini? Oh boy. People can’t find toilet paper, but a sample of luxury skincare enough for 2-3 uses sounds like a steal of a deal right now.

These companies are trying to take advantage of the fact that people are, or should be, at home right now, and if they are at home, they’re bored. They’re trying to take advantage of consumers wallets before people realize the severity of the situation and buckle down on how their money is being spent.

In the case of the Arbonne, and various other MLM advertisements I’ve seen and been bombarded with the past month, the MLM memos have been to prey on people’s anxieties and insecurities as a means to sell product. In what world would anyone want the ‘hospital staff care kit’ when all of the items in said kit could be found a the grocery store for half the price? In a pandemic when those items have been stripped from the shelves! Time to take advantage.

In the case of Petro Canada, I’ve seen some pretty alarming social media messages the past few weeks about the company, from coast to coast, selling things like personal/purse sized containers of hand sanitizer for $24.99. A month ago those containers would have been two or three dollars. But, this is pandemic marketing we’re dealing with. They know that people are panicking and they’re going to take advantage.

Social media sites like Facebook. Twitter and Instagram are making bank right now. No question about it. Because every company that has been affected by this pandemic is using social media to reach out to their customers, or could be customers through paid-for advertisements. I’ve seen how predatory it’s been first-hand because I run social media accounts for the economic development firm I’m consulting with, and also for Knight’s work, and Facebook has been shoving advertisement sales down my throat the past few weeks. SALE! SALE! ACT NOW AND WE’LL GIVE YOU 10 DOLLARS OFF! Oh, you didn’t act? Well, we’re still feeling nice, act today and we’ll give you the 10 dollars off!

I guess, the point of this long and winding message that I’ve been trying to portray here is that it’s important to take a look at how companies and people are acting, and reacting, to this pandemic. Who is trying to take advantage and who is trying to help weather the storm?

It’s a widely known fact that the majority of society will tighten the grip on their wallets in times of a crisis. This is where economics, marketing and psychology meet. Certain goods will not able to be produced at the same rates they’ve been being produced at for years, whilst other goods need to ramp up production. How do companies balance profits and losses whilst knowing that the products they’re trying to sell are exactly what people don’t need in the middle of a panedmic?

In the words of the late Kenny Rodgers ‘you’ve got to know when to hold ’em, know when to fold ’em, know when to walk away and know when to run’. That’s actually a pretty accurate depiction of business, and life in 2020.

Those who worried about how their bills are going to get paid are now being bombarded with ‘ACT NOW AND OUR $200 BIKINI IS ONLY $145!’ Do people have enough will power to ignore these sales? That’s what these companies are trying to exploit, hoping they will cave and spend even more money in a time where the future is anything but certain.

I feel as though I started this with a clear purpose in mind and I lost track of the point I was trying to make along the way. I’m hoping this makes sense. But I guess, if it doesn’t, that’s completely on brand for me.

Quarantine Day 5,000

Dear Patrice,

I know that it feels like just yesterday that I was writing we were on day 3,000 and something. What can I say? When you’re in the middle of an International Health Pandemic, you really lose all sense of time.

My mom has this ‘schtick’ that she does where she pretends she doesn’t know how to use technology. Part of me thinks she does it because she thinks it’s charming to be the grandma who doesn’t know how to use technology, but mostly, I think she just does it as an excuse to not have to do things for herself.

Thinking I was being smart, I bought her a tablet of her own. Reasons for this were many, but most importantly because she could keep all of her accounts logged into, so all she had to do was open an App.

Today, I was informed that she broke her tablet.

Her response to not being able to check her bank balance? Not to use the computer, no. She’s just going to get in her car and go to the bank. Because… there’s no Pandemic ongoing. She’s not less than a year in remission. Who gives a fuck?

I told her that she needs to use the computer and not go out unless she has to. She told me that she has to because she doesn’t know how to use the computer. This started a twenty minute argument about how poorly I treat her and try to force technology on her that she just doesn’t understand and that she’s a grown woman and if she wants to go to the bank, she can go to the bank.

Yeah, you bat-shit crazy old woman, on any normal day feel free and go to the bank, I wouldn’t give a fuck. But today there’s a deadly disease sweeping the globe. I think you can handle logging in a computer rather than your tablet.

I got the computer out.

I opened up the website.

I said ‘Input your card number where it says card number, then input your password where it says password’.

All she had to do was input her information.

‘I don’t know how to do that!’ She yelled at me.

Feeling like she was just fucking with me to purposefully to make me angry at this point, I said: ‘You don’t know how to use a fucking keyboard?’

‘I don’t need your abuse’, she said, knowing that she was swinging low when she said that.

I took her card, I typed the card number into the computer. Then she proclaims she doesn’t have a password.

You literally cannot have online banking services without a password, but OHHHHHHHHHKAY.

This started another argument about how I always think I know more than her about things and that she genuinely doesn’t have a password. OOOOOOOHKAY. I left. I went downstairs to cool off.

10 minutes later she comes downstairs to:

  1. Tell me that she could have been to the bank and back already by now.
  2. Tell me that she now remembers her password so I need to log in for her.

Knowing she was trying to bait me to start another argument, I didn’t bite. I silently followed her up the stairs, sat down in front of the computer and waited for her to tell me the password.

She tells me that her password is her first and last name.

I told her that’s not possible, banks require at least one number to be used.

She told me that it’s her first and last name and that I need to type that in.

I typed it in.

It obviously didn’t work

Then she yelled at me because, and I quote, ‘Your attitude is appalling’.

You’re right. Stupid me, the stupid little Millennial trying to teach her mother how to sign into online banking on a computer so that she doesn’t go out, unnecessarily, in the middle of a health pandemic. You being less than a year in remission, you’re right, my attitude is awful.

She walks away, presumably to go stick pins in my voodoo doll. Upon returning she’s had an epiphany. She now knows what her password is and it’s not her first and last name.

She also now knows how to use the keyboard because she reaches overtop of me and types it into the computer herself.

MIRACULOUS!

She even knows how to hit the ‘Sign In’ button. When did that happen?

Being now signed in, after the longest twenty minutes of my life, she tells me to leave because she doesn’t want me to see her banking information.

No arguments from me. I left and came back downstairs.

Less than five minutes later she comes back downstairs to bring my my computer. Instead of saying thank you, or I am sorry, or even just saying ‘Here’s your computer!’ she opens the door and sticks the computer in the doorway and says ‘Come get it. And next time you want to force technology on me that I don’t understand, just mind your own business’.

This…

This is why we don’t get along.

This is why I don’t like being around her.

I love her. She’s my mother and that will always be the case, but we’re cut from a different cloth. The two of us in the same room is like mixing mixing vinegar into the jar of baking soda.

I’m the stupid spoiled millennial who abuses her and has a horrible attitude and she is the world’s smartest grandma who can do no wrong.

Quarantine day 5,000 has been a long one. And it’s only 2:30 pm.

BEWARE: Scammers are trying to take advantage of the unemployed during this pandemic.

As many of you know, I am an unemployed Canadian citizen who has been applying for jobs on Indeed and LinkedIn for throughout 2020. I was worried that, when shit really hit the proverbial fan with respect to the Corona Virus, there would be scams coming out to take advantage of all of the people who’ve found themselves without work due to this pandemic. And, recent days have taught me that this is a rampant problem at the moment.

I received the above email this morning.

I did, in fact, apply for a data entry position on Indeed 48 hours ago. Since receiving this email, I have reported this job posting to Indeed as being fraudulent/misleading and left them a comment that I believe it to be a scam.

If you are unemployed, or have found your job temporarily suspended during this pandemic, it’s important to pay close attention to any communication that you might be getting. Being unemployed can bring on a lot of stress and often times it can be quite easy to see a promising email and not look closely at the details, thinking you need to jump on an opportunity, any opportunity right away.

Please don’t get scammed.

Using my email as an example, here are some things to look for:

  • Who is the email from? In the case of this email, who it’s from is a pretty big giveaway that it’s a scam. The sender’s name is Maggie Susan whilst the email address is MarcThomas055@hotmail.com. The job that I applied for was with what presented itself to be a legitimate Technology Company.
  • Who is the email to? This might seem like a stupid thing to check for, but in the case of this email, it’s not ‘To’ me. I am not ‘iooiioioo@gmail.com’. For privacy reasons, I am not sharing my personal gmail address. But, seeing as this was not addressed to me, and I was clearly BCC’ed, it leads me to believe this was likely sent in a group email to anyone who applied for the position, in their hopes that people would glance over who it was addressed to.
  • Who is the greeting too? A legitimate job prospect, whether with a company that has 3,000 employees or one that has 30 employees, will ALWAYS address the email to your first name. If you applied for a position, they already have your name and information. Any legitimate job seeker will say ‘Hi [Insert First Name Here]’. If they do not, it’s probably because the software they’re using to group send this scam isn’t advanced enough include your first name.
  • Who is it from? Did the sender sign their name? Is the company included? Is their a company signature linking to their website or online portfolios? A legitimate job seeker would NEVER leave their name off the end of an email.
  • Is there a sketchy looking link in the email? Of course there is. Please don’t click it. This is a bait tool to give hackers remote access to your desktop. In the case of this email, what are they asking me to register for? They have my information. If they were actually wanting to hire me, employment contracts need to be signed, and those cannot be done through sketchy links.
  • Do they name their company in their email? If they don’t, why wold a legitimate job seeker leave the name of their company off an email to prospective candidates? Perhaps because it’s not legitimate.
  • Does it make your spidey senses tingle? Because if it seems too good to be true, it is.

If you’ve found yourself without employment during this time, please know that you’re not alone. Please, please, please be diligent in where you respond to your emails. Pay attention to the small details. It might sound stupid when you read it, but A LOT of people fall for scams just like this one. With everyone in a hard enough situation already, I do not want you to get taken advantage further.

Thanks for reading.