Monday, November 24, 2014


The NL Federation of School Councils is concerned about the sale of flavoured e-cigarette products, displays in retail stores and the sale of battery-operated cigarettes to minors.

E-cigarettes don't contain tobacco and produce vapour instead of smoke, which some say helps smokers kick their habit but the unregulated sale of liquid nicotine refills,  possible health risks associated with exposure to second-hand vapour and the glorying of smoking being a gateway for young children to become smokers is very concerning.

I would like to see a ban on the use of electronic cigarettes in areas where smoking is already off-limits and a ban on sales to children under the legal smoking age. There is not doubt that there is an impact on youth smoking initiation (and imitation) and the potential to normalize smoking behaviour and undermine existing tobacco control legislation.

Health Canada has refused to approve the sale or import of devices or liquid refills containing nicotine but they are readily available under the counter in many places in Newfoundland and Labrador.  

The provincial and federal governments needs to start taking this issue more seriously and putting regulations in place to regulate their manufacture, sale, promotion and display. 

There has to be regulations put in place to regulate the maximum quantity/dosage of nicotine in e-cigarettes and require manufacturers to use child proof bottles for "nicotine juice".

As long as law enforcement and regulators continue to operate in a vacuum allowing importers and manufacturers to remain in a "grey area" we are undoing the anti-smoking and smoke free gains of the last decade.

There are also concern that these e-cigarettes   could pose health risks to users and those exposed to the vapour. E-cigarette parts, liquid and vapour may include variable levels of cancer-causing chemicals and harmful ingredients. 

It is time to move before this gateway to nicotine addiction and smoking initiation gets a hold on our youth.



I for one have never understood the need for people to leave their mark on desks, walls, trees or heritage sites.

You often see rock cuts along the highway with Johnny love Suzy 1986 spray painted on it, or wooden school desks with names scraped into them.

Why does anyone have an urge to leave a trace of their name for everyone to see and often in a place that will be seen for generations to come? The abhorrent use of ‘tagging’, just as writing your name in full, is a way to leave your mark.

Perhaps it is about leaving a mark and wanting others to recognize that you were there , that you exist and that you will continue to exist in some form as long as the mark is visible! It may be pretty harmless but when folks take it a step further and carve, etch or paint their initials on historic and heritage sites, it is vandalism of the worst kind.

 Why would anyone deface a magnificent historic monument?

Fortunately, every now and than an idiot gets caught in the act of vandalism. Recently a Russian tourist who carved a 10-inch tall letter "K" on a wall inside Rome's Colosseum was given a $25,000 fine.

Over six million people visit the site each year. Only four other vandals have been caught tin 2014 including a Canadian teenager. The 15 year-old was caught by Italian cops after stashing a 2000-year-old brick from Rome's Colosseum in  her backpack. An eagle-eyed tourist reported her.

One would think that folks who travel to see these sites of great historic value would hold them in the highest of regard.  Instead they  have ruined this glorious monuments hey have traveled a fair distance to see. Cleaning the graffiti requires special care and could result in even more damage,

I often wonder if Johnny and Suzy are still together? I hope they made the same statement on their own bodies in the form of an indelible  tattoo to constantly remind their current spouse of their silly infatuation in 1986!


Buyer beware, we get what we vote for, or do we? 

Newfoundland and Labrador's best political reporter, the CBC's David Cochrane has covered the House of Commons for a number of administrations. He is astute, well-informed and calls it as he sees it.

His Column on November 22, "Contradictions and hypocrisy at the House of Assembly", was the most brutally honest assessment of the contradictions that the Liberals and the Progressive Conservatives are peddling in the lead-up to next years general election. 

Is it any wonder that voter turn-out is so high when hypocrisy is so high.

Perhaps the election slogans should be take a chance on us - our delivery will most likely will not be anything like promises, but you know it is all a game!


Customer service is one of those things that I pay particular attention to.  I am always watching, listening and learning. 

Some companies pay lip service to the notion of trying to keep their customers happy. They either really do not care, once the sale is made.  

Others get it, they want to ensure your loyalty is rewarded with sincerity.  They want you to be happy - happy enough to pass positive feedback about their business, or product,  along to others. They know that repeat business is the lifeblood of any business.

I have often written about the many great customer service experiences which I have experienced with Apple - with and without Apple Care coverage. I have never once hung-up the phone in frustration. My experience with other computer manufacturers has been less than satisfactory. I will not name them - I have a case of libel chill - but rest assured, I will never be a repeat customer, nor will anyone I share my experiences with.

I feel bad for the salesperson who knows how to sell but is undercut by the manufacturers poor approach to customer service that determines whether or not I will ever be buy that product again. I will use one example, Ford Canada. My wife and I will probably purchase another 6 to 8  cars over of lifetimes. Our kids will purchase cars. We will never ever buy a Ford again. The reason is poor customer service. We bought a lemon, tried to be reasonable and just gave up. two and a half years  years in, we traded the zesty Ford Escape for a Dodge - at a loss.

Not listening to your customers, not dealing with complaints, not being helpful just makes me more exasperated.  Sure "You can't please all the people all the time" but treating everyone with product babble and a reflex shrug is not going to help your company keep my business.

Being helpful, even when there is no immediate profit it in, can create customer loyalty that reaps many rewards.  An act of kindness can lead to a new customer and word of mouth can lead to many more.

Be consistent, let your staff have enough confidence to make take the extra step to ensure good customer interactions. There is nothing I hate worse than being forced to escalate a customer service call to a manager because the CSR has not been given the power to make a small decision.

Which gets me to the point of this post.  Quite possibly my days with Aliant are over. My high-speed service has been inconstant for the past 12 years. On the whole, the response has been prompt and good. 

Over the last two months our speeds have been really poor - not on a consistent basis but often enough to be very irritating. I started recording the speeds a few times a day. Finally, with data in hand, I called customer/technical service, explained the issue and asked for a resolution. A few speed tests later the speed was back to normal. I requested that a technician come by and sort it out. The response was that if they cam by and everything was fine there would be a $70 fee. My response was, hang on, I have demonstrated an issue, explained the "hit or miss" nature of it and you want me to acknowledge a possible repair fee for your companies investigation of the the issue.

My loyalty was to the home team. Several acquisitions later that reason for staying with them is gone. Rogers is just a call away. Customer service is the new deciding factor.

Providing good customer service is a simple and profitable thing.

Friday, November 21, 2014


Seniors Danny and Eileen Browne raised four children and lived a pretty ordinary and modest life in their row house on Watson Crescent in the city's East End.

The couple who raised four children have had a pretty tough year, Mr. Browne has been in and out of hospital all year due to complications with his heart and diabetes.

On the afternoon of November 22nd, Ms. Browne passed out while cooking supper. The kitchen caught fire and the house was filled with heavy dark smoke. Fortunately, the brave and swift actions of a neighbor prevented a tragedy from being a fatality.

The neighbor entered the burning building, crawling on the floor looking for Ms. Browne. He found her and carried her to safety. She was rushed to hospital to deal with smoke inhalation but doctors soon identified a much more serious health issue, she had a large tumor on her brain - that had caused her to pass out.

Nearly a month to the day of the fire, Ms. Browne has been released from hospital. Her and her husband spent their first night together at her daughters since the successful surgery to remove the tumor. In the confusion of Mr. Browne's health issues and Ms. Browne's unknown condition, their house insurance had lapsed. The Browne's lost everything! A total loss.