Thursday, April 30, 2009

High Fructose Corn Syrup is bad for you

I was listening to the latest Podcast of Stuff you Should Know, Josh and Chuck were discussing the origins and dangers of consuming food made with High Fructose Corn Syrup.  It's a  fascinating topic and I'm actually surprise how little knowledge I had of it. It spurred me to do some other further reading on this pervasive sugar substitute.

It turns out that it's in almost every store bought packaged food. Food manufacturers use it instead of cane sugar because it's insanely cheap. As I began looking more closely at the ingredients in everything from cookies  to vegetable juices I was blown away at how prevalent it really is.

The problem with HFCS is that our bodies can't metabolize, and our liver turns it in triglycerides which is essentially fat. Studies have also shown that it can increase the feeling of hunger and it's taste can be addictive. I guess that explains why I can sit and eat a row Oreos and still want more. Studies have also shown that since the introduction of corn syrup sweeteners the incidents of diabetes has skyrocketed.

Beware of anything that contains Fructose.

Monday, April 27, 2009

No such thing as coincidences

Last night I went to the local Shopper's drugstore to get a couple N-95 masks, just in case. I figure if the Mexican government has passed out 40 million of them, it makes sense for me to have at least a few given the past SARs crisis.

Wouldn't you know that those masks were all gone. I went to 5 other Shoppers as well as a number of other drug stores downtown and they were all gone. I managed to order online and pickup today 2 N-95 respirators from Lee Valley. I have another one one back order and all the replacement filters are out of stock as well. 

I guess I'm not alone in my thinking.

Friday, April 24, 2009

GM dealers are part of the problem

Much has been said about the failure of GM and Chrysler to fulfill the consumer's desire for more fuel efficient cars. However I've always felt that the domestic auto dealers are 40% of the problem. And 10% is attributed to the stereotypical image of domestic autoworker. Why is it every time we see domestic auto workers leaving a plant they're wearing plaid, running, carrying lunch pails. But import auto workers are always clad in white overalls, booties and masks as if they were brain surgeons. Who would you buy a car from? But I digress.

If you ever went to a dealer shopped for a  GM, Chrysler or Ford you get the feeling that somehow they are doing you a favor. When you actually do talk to someone about buying a car you get the same B.S. about the salesman "working for you" by negotiating the best price with the sales manager. This happens at import dealers as well but in my experience it's not as bad. This practice has got to change.

The other thing that turns consumer's off is the service experience. If things were fixed properly to begin with the $80-$110/hr labour wouldn't be so bad. Just recently a friend of mine took their Firebird in for an electrical issue. When the the car was returned the problem was fixed but one of the body panels was bent out of alignment due to an improperly placed jack. The dealer made no effort to apologize and in fact said not to worry about it because the car was 10 years old anyways. Not a good way to attract or keep customers.

Like it or not, dealers are the face of the brand and for years they've been the main reason why there has been a perception that American cars are inferior. Ultimately if dealers kept the consumer happy, it wouldn't have mattered if the cars were slightly less reliable or less fuel efficient than the competition. 

Too late.

Monday, April 20, 2009

What to do with TD GM Visa points?

For years I've been a loyal TD GM Visa card holder. I saved about $800 using GM points back in 1996 when I purchased my Camaro Z28. My dream was to one day buy a Corvette and save a few hundred dollars using points. Today I have about $1300.

Things have changed since then:

1. A Corvette no longer costs $35K, the top end Corvette is between $55-110K depending on the model. So if even had that much money to drop entirely on a car I don't think 1K is gonna really matter.

2. GM is teetering on bankruptcy so I doubt any of those points will survive chapter 11. I wonder if GM did go belly up would anyone really be interested in buying a GM car over an import.

3. Each month the "Program" expires $16. That kind of thing really pisses me off.

4. I can't think of any immediate family members that are looking for a GM car, so I can't endow any points to them.

Recently I signed up for a Scotiabank Momentum Visa. It gives back 2% cash on all grocery, gas and drug store purchases, 1% on all other purchases. Sure seems like a better bet.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Feeling taxed to death yet?

Today I bought an external hard drive from Costco and noticed on my receipt an eco-tax for .35 cents. I vaguely recall in 2007 something about this, but I find pretty odd how the TV and print media paid little attention to it's introduction this spring considering all the daily attention paid to how joe plumber is losing his job and home.

35 cents is no big deal, but consider a TV or computer where the fee is $15. Add on the ridiculous GST harmonization, city garbage fees, licence fees, property tax increases and it makes you wonder when it's going to end. Also take into consideration how much your investments have dwindled and you'd think that there was a conspiracy brewing.

Personally I don't buy the government's position that they need an eco-tax to support their recycling program. They already make a crap load of money selling our recycled garbage to the private sector. If they wanted out of the recycling business they could always leave it to private companies but they know it's way too lucrative. They even get peeved if an old chinese lady picks through my recycling bin for plastic bottles.

If the government is trying to stimulate the economy through consumer spending, thier revenue policies and economic polices are certainly at odds.

Sunday, April 05, 2009

Raccoon Wars

Last month I declared the War on Raccoons. With the milder weather, these varmint are coming out for food.

Somehow they managed to chew away all the hard rubber weather stripping below the garage door, got their hands under and pushed up a 30 lbs door. They made a huge mess everywhere, I'll spare you the details.

Despite this, my main concern has always been them taking shits on my garage roof.  Simply because shit is affected by gravity and falls into my yard. They love crapping on the valleys of my garage dormer which I spent so much pride framing.

So I found the Cat-stop 9000 Ultrasonic deterrent. The idea is to emit an ultra-high frequency sound (silent to humans) that makes it so unpleasant to animals that they'll think twice about returning. I tried on my cat and he took off upstairs. As I was screwing it a 2x4 for mounting it went off a few times in my face, and although I could not hear it like most everyday sounds you hear, I could faintly hear a high pitch that after a while gave me a headache. 

Catstop is weather proof and has a motion sensor that only triggers the speaker when tripped. So far no poo on the roof. Maybe this device does work.

Saturday, April 04, 2009

China Brilliance BS6 Crash Test

As a followup to my previous post about the Tata Nano sub-$2000 car I'm posting a disastrous crash test of the Chinese made 2006 Brilliance BS6 Sedan. It reinforces my point about how cheaply made cars in China and India would never make it in the European or North American market for the price they are going for in their home countries.