Hump Day: Yes, Virginia, there will be another sale

Hump Day 2 croppedHump Day
By Brian Cormier
Wednesday, Nov. 30, 2016
Moncton Times & Transcript

I think if I see one more holiday sales flyer or commercial, I’m going to flip my lid. I’m in big trouble then, because we have another six weeks of this, including the Boxing Week sales.

It’s not because I don’t like a good sale. Who doesn’t? Actually, it’s because all these sales are tempting me to buy things I don’t need and will never use. Do I really a need a table saw that’s on sale for half price? No, but it’s half price! Look at how much I’m saving! I have to stop my logic from going there sometimes.

First of all, I must say that a table saw doesn’t interest me in the least, unless I want my new nickname to be ‘One Hand,’ ‘Nine Fingers’ or ‘Stumpy.’ I haven’t used a table saw since I took shop classes in junior high school. That was back in the day when only boys took shop and only girls took home economics. Period. No discussion. Today, it’s all mixed up. I’m so impressed when I hear of boys having (or wanting) to take home economics.

Learning how to cook, sew and other household duties is practical and useful. You don’t want to end up being one of those people who call their mother on the first night in your new apartment to ask her how to boil water, do you? ‘Uhm, Mom? I know what water is – that stuff that comes in bottles, right? But what does boil mean? How do I turn on a burner on the stove?’ Oh, I’m sure it’s happened.

I get a number of emails per week from retailers announcing day-in and day-out that Christmas is coming and that everything is on sale. Don’t miss out! This item will never be on sale again. Ever! We really mean it! If you don’t buy this knickknack today, you will literally have to sell your house the next time you want it because you’ll go broke and be living under a bridge next Christmas while having to pretend that runoff from the road above is eggnog. Have fun singing Silent Night with the rats!

sale-2It’s not only sales of ‘stuff’ like electronics. It’s also groceries. Lowest price of the season! You will never see prices lower than this ever again! Baby Jesus has declared this price a miracle! Cheap chicken now, chump!

I need to tune out the hype. Sure, chicken will never be on sale again. Right? Never? Ever? I’ll literally be walking toward the light at the end of my life without seeing these prices again? I don’t believe it for a second.

Or, do I? Maybe the flyers and the commercials are right. Maybe chicken will never be on sale again. Maybe I should invest in huge freezers and those electronic food savers that seal meat and vegetables so tightly and efficiently in vacuum-packed bags that the cow will still be mooing and the hen will still be clucking when I take it out of the freezer five years from now to throw out. And all those tools at the hardware store? And all those artificial Christmas trees, too? What if they pass a law that they can never be half price again? Hey, it could happen.

Maybe I should build a warehouse and hire staff. I could buy some forklifts and put in expensive refrigeration units to keep everything nice and fresh! I’d buy in bulk when everything is half price! Go me! Look at how much money I’ve saved! And with all the money I’ve saved, I could build the warehouse, pay the property taxes and wages, and buy the equipment. Oh, and a sign. I need a sign. A big neon one. ‘Brian’s Savings Warehouse!’ Yeah, that’s it.

I’ve saved so much money by now that I’m rich. You see, I spent $1 million on half-price chicken and table saws, so I saved $1 million, too! So, that means that I’m a millionaire now, right? Well, by my calculations that’s what it means. Man, someone should put me in charge of the government’s budget. I’d have that pesky thing fixed up in no time! We’d all be getting cheques in the mail just for being nice people! Merry Christmas!

But seriously, that’s how I feel when I get all these sales notices. Overwhelmed – and half panicked that nothing will ever go on sale again – ever! Sales happen all year long, folks. In fact, several times!

They even have Black Friday and Boxing Day sales in July now. I’ll just hold off until then for that cut-rate chicken and table saw. Gotta build that warehouse first.

Sobeys’ new Moncton-filmed Star of Christmas ad released

sobeys-logoFor Atlantic Canadians, the long wait is over for a new version of Sobeys’ beloved Star of Christmas TV commercial. Sobeys decided to resurrect their old holiday campaign which originally ran from 1987 to 2004 with a new ad recorded at Sobeys on Elmwood Dr. in Moncton, N.B.

The original:

The new:

Great job, Sobeys!

Hump Day: Stress about controllable things, not those you can’t

Hump Day 2 croppedHump Day
By Brian Cormier
Wednesday, Nov. 23, 2016
Moncton Times & Transcript

I recently bought an audiobook on the subject of how habits are formed. The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do in Life and Business by Charles Duhigg is a fascinating look at the psychology of what makes us do the things we do – good and bad – on a consistent basis.

Lately, I’ve been finding myself needing to change some bad habits – one of which was obsessing about the United States election. I know I’m not the only one. I’d been seeing articles online for the past several weeks about people completely addicted to the ups and downs of the very divisive campaign. As for the results, let’s just not go there. To say the least, I was deeply disappointed.

The Power of Habit by Charles Duhigg
I’m only into the third chapter of the audiobook, but this is fascinating, so far! Really insightful.

In the end, though, I don’t live in the U.S. I live in Canada. They have the complete right to choose the government they want – and that’s what they did. On the day after the election, I woke up in my Canadian bed, in my Canadian house, in my Canadian city, in my Canadian province – in Canada. I needed to give my head a shake at some point and come to the realization that all my whining, moaning and groaning would not change a bloody thing.

More importantly, over the past few days, I figured out that the time I spent following the aftermath was a complete and utter waste of my time. Nothing I did would change anything. The negative compulsive habits I’d formed over the past few months since the conventions last summer had to change. I was taking time away from more important things – much, much more important, in fact.

Being distracted by events outside our control is common. We all do it from time to time. We invest too much time in an election, or useless activities, or perhaps television shows. Yes, I’ve binged on a few Netflix series in my time, including Orange Is the New Black, House of Cards, Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt and – more recently – The Crown, based on the life of Queen Elizabeth II. And I could watch reruns of MASH and The Sopranos every day if I could somehow figure out how to get paid for it. (No luck so far! Darn!)

It’s OK to relax, of course. It’s OK to wind down. And yeah, sometimes it’s perfectly OK just to do nothing and enjoy a good few hours of television or read a trashy novel.

But there are limits. And those limits have probably been reached when you start wondering whether or not you’re spending too much time doing something that’s no longer bringing you pleasure and resulting in nothing but annoyance and negative consequences. Ask me how productive I was in my business on the day after the U.S. election. Go on. Ask. OK, I’ll tell you. I wasn’t productive at all. I barely slept. I was worried, shocked, upset – and exhausted.

And while I wasn’t the only one, I certainly had to eventually (and figuratively) slap myself across the face and (figuratively) dunk my head in ice-cold water to snap myself out of it. I don’t live in the U.S. I live in Canada. Repeat 100 times: “They have the right to elect their own government.” Which, of course, they do.

After several months of obsessing and spending way too much time on world events, it’s time to create some new habits and find ones which got pushed aside. I started planning again. My terrible ‘buy a book and don’t read it’ habit has been partially cured by buying an e-reader (at least there are no physical books around). And I also decided this week to cancel my satellite radio subscription in my vehicle. Why? Because I always end up tuned in to CNN listening to – you guessed it – U.S. election coverage.

Enough! I’ll invest my money into personal development and audiobooks to listen to in the car. Actually, I love listening to audiobooks while driving. Nothing better!

Even if you’re not a person of faith, we can all learn from the Serenity Prayer used in Alcoholics Anonymous: God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change; Courage to change the things I can; And wisdom to know the difference.

There are a million things we can control in our lives. By working harder and smarter, we can control our income. By living better, we can help control our health. By loving others, we can create better relationships. And by focusing on what we actually have the power to influence, we can make our lives immeasurably better in the long run in every other aspect, too – every time!