• Week of 09.01.2017
How CNN and BuzzFeed Failed | The Women’s Clothing Store Man’s Oasis | Ronald Reagan Revisited | An Interview with Me | Toronto’s Indigenous Business District
The Roundtable Podcast 75
• Week of 09.01.2017
The Roundtable Podcast 75
I RECEIVED SAD news this week that a neighbourhood business, SupperSolved, will be closing after eight years of operation.
I only found out about this service months ago, and have only been using it since March. And, yet, it’s become an integral part of my daily life.
SupperSolved is one of the most well-thought-out businesses I’ve come across. You can tell attention has been paid to every detail, and to the overall experience of the customer.
The idea is simple, but brilliant. For a reasonable cost (a month’s worth of entrées costs me $360) you get access to a beautiful, clean work space and all the ingredients you need to make meals. Everything is pre-cut and arranged when you arrive. It’s like having your own sous chef. All you do is follow the recipes and assemble the meals, placing them into the provided foil trays. Then you take the trays home and freeze them. It takes an hour-and-a-half for my son and I to assemble a full month’s worth of meals.
He enjoys preparing the dishes, as do I. I think that learning to cook is such an important life skill that I take him out of school to do this. And I enjoy having with me. The staff also tell me they love seeing father and son working side-by-side, cooking their family meals. Everyone is sad that, at the end of this month, this will all come to an end.
It’s such a great business model that I would buy it if I had the time and energy to run another business. I’m told the owners are looking for another space. The issue is condos. All around the area of Toronto where I live, land owners are selling their properties to developers. Businesses are being driven out. And I get it: we need places to live at least as much as we need shops. I’m not among Toronto’s many high-rise haters. I think population density is the only way we can go. We have to build up, and there;s limited real estate on which to do it.
Still, I’m sad to see this business go. I’m also inspired by it. As someone who helps clients build powerhouse businesses, I’m forever on the lookout for good models and success stories. SupperSolved was one. The staff were friendly and helpful. The cost was reasonable. The space was big, bright, clean, organized and pleasant. The level of organization and attention to detail was extraordinary. SupperSolved took all the stress out of meal planning. Having found them, I was liberated from the awful daily chore of taking time from my busy working day to think about dinner—and then to shop, clean, prep, and serve. And clean again.
I dread going back to the stressful, inefficient, costly and irksome daily routine I had before. The fact is I’ve experienced liberation. And because of that, I don’t think I can go back. When you come into contact with a brilliant idea—and, more important, a brilliant system—”going back” isn’t an option.
The experience has given me insight into what I want in my own work. I want to have just this effect on my clients. I want my business to be a comprehensive, well-thought-out system that changes the lives of people who use it for the better. I want to make a practical difference, the way that SupperSolved has made a practical, pleasant, liberating difference in my life. And I want them not to go away, but that’s another matter.
I SAW THIS SIGN on the subway:
The caption, which I wasn’t able to photograph in full, reads,
As an uncredentialled but 100% reliable brainologist, I point out that this sign does not say French will be the most-spoken language. But your brain processes it that way. And the creators of this sign, who are probably credentialed French brainologists, know this, and take advantage. I’m not saying this sign is lying. My point is much less bold and much less controversial than that …
TODAY I MET my book about residential schools — called … um … Residential Schools — for the first time. For that reason alone it was a good day, and I wasn’t even sure if I’d be up for it, since I spent a good part of yesterday in bed with a fever, dreaming about the apocalypse. Or at least I think it was the apocalypse. It could have just been about the publishing industry. Haha! Ever funny that one.
YES, IT’S TRUE that Rob Ford was elected to the Toronto municipal council in his Etobicoke ward—and, yes, it was a landslide: but the Ford era of this city is now in remission. When the counting of votes was complete, Doug had received 34% of the popular vote to John Tory’s 40%. When Olivia Chow’s take of 23% is added, it appears that two-thirds of the voters were finished with the circus, or the gutter, or whatever the personal metaphor happened to be.
• Week of 28.09.2014
THE LATE COMEDIAN Mitch Hedberg had a line that he “used to do drugs.” A moment for the applause, and then this: “I still do drugs, but I used to, too.”
THERE’S A DISTINCT ethical calculus that applies to addiction. Here’s an example: mayor Ford’s indiscretions over the years – the bad choices of personal friends and associates, the bursts of erratic behaviour, the denials that there’s a problem – are “the drugs talking.” He’s not completely in control of himself. The drugs and alcohol are, and his actions should therefore be seen as at least in part the symptoms of an illness, or a compulsion, that keeps him in its grip. He’s an addict, and he needs help, and it’s a good thing he’s now seeking it.
A LARGE CITY, Toronto has many restaurants. There’s no shortage of the ordinary, the mediocre and the downright bad. Today we are considering the two principal types of dining establishments held forth by their champions as good.
• Week of 23.03.2014
I‘M AWARE THAT my readers come from all over the world (thank-you for that) and that you’re not a parochial bunch. And so I beg excuse for the opportunity I’m going to take today to praise the city in which I live: Toronto.
MY WRITING FALLS into several categories. There’s the paid, professional writing I do for others, on a range of topics. There are historical pieces, obituaries and profiles of famous people and places. There are meditative or reflective articles, what are sometimes called “human interest stories,” concerning parenting or ageing or travel, and so on. Then there are my political and polemical works, digging into a position and attacking an idea or a public official. Today, we’re going to consider this final category, and the charge it invariably engenders, from a small minority of readers, that I’m impolite, judgemental, arrogant and mean.
This essay is an apology for rudeness in the old sense of the term apology – an account, explanation and defence.
HERE’S A USEFUL piece of reporting for your consideration. It was written by Renata D’Aliesio and published in the March 13, 2014 edition of the Globe and Mail, under the headline “Ford knew of football coach’s criminal past, court documents show”:
Rob Ford penned a character reference for his assistant football coach’s sentencing for dangerous driving and assaulting a police officer, court documents reveal, marking at least the third time he has written a letter of support for a convict while in public office. The letter, composed on behalf of Payman Aboodowleh in 2009, confirms Mr. Ford knew of the volunteer coach’s violent history when he invited him to work with high-school athletes. As with his other letters, Mr. Ford’s acclamation of Mr. Aboodowleh was written on official City of Toronto stationery, sparking concern from a veteran Ontario Court judge who questioned whether the then-councillor may have misused his position of authority.
THE FORD BROTHERS seem confident of an autumn electoral victory, and they’ve good reasons. Rob Ford has admitted to lying to the public, and his lack of self control and dignity have become matters of non-controversy: yet he remains in office and enjoys a healthy approval rating, as well as a credible prospect of a second term. His powers and office budget have been reduced, yet the Fords are as bombastic and arrogant as ever. Both Doug and Rob are uninterested in – indeed, hostile towards – public policy and the workings of government. Their contempt of politicians and the political process constitutes a good portion of the duo’s appeal. After all that has transpired, it is difficult to imagine the scandal that might end their political careers. Could it be that there is no such scandal? The Ford brothers behave exactly as people who believe that it could.
• Week of 14.12.2013