thinglets: Couche Tard and Sloche Junkies

Perhaps one of the greatest names ever for a convenience store has evolved in translation.

Mac's (which started as Mac's Milk) has been a long-stnading brand in Ontario, Canada. While originally epitomized by a cat with a tartan cap, for the past generation the chain, having been purchased by a Quebec conglomorate and had their store name shortened to just Mac's, now boasts a winking owl as the corporate mascot.

Perhaps the best part of the acquisition was the rebranding of the store name in Quebec from Mac's to Couche Tard. Couche Tard literally translates to "up late", but in the context of the owl logo (appropriated from a previous acquisition called Winky's) makes the more common interpretation of Couche Tard as Night Owl.

Above and beyond the history, Couche Tard is just a really great name to yell at people when you want to sound insulting, but really be innocuous. Pronounced "Koosh Tar", we English-speaking folk often harden up that final "D" in translation, but such is the fault of our weak command of a different language.

The latest great thing about my recent walk through a Couche Tard in La Belle Province, was finding a product called Sloche. Beyond the fact that this is a great name in itself, the logo is a scary strung-out junkie cat looking for a fix.

I can't help but think that the old Mac's cat was kicked out into the streets after the Couche Tard acquisition and is now wandering the back alleys, twitching and drooling, looking for a sugar fix of Sloche.

thinglets: I'm the guy who buys the shampoo that's on sale...

pictured above: Philip B. Russian Amber Imperial Shampoo at $107 ON SALE for the 12oz. bottle. Their website has a gift section for men. Ladies, I would guess that most men, upon receiving a $100 bottle of shampoo, may require you to use the bottle as smelling salts after they pass out on the bathroom floor.

Remind me to shoot the next person who comes up with ideas for shampoo sales. Here's a pitch if you want to win me over. SHAMPOO - GETS HAIR CLEAN. DOESN'T SMELL LIKE SHIT! That's really all I want. Apparently, others disagree, because Amazon is actually selling the following:

[I could only make it through the first 15 pages out of 9000 shampoos before wanting to slit my wrists and pour Jojoba Coconut Keylime Pie Ice Cream Shampoo over them.]


  • Kiss My Face Whenever Shampoo for Frequent Use
  • Alterna Caviar Seasilk Moisture Shampoo
  • Bed Head Self Absorbed Shampoo
  • Paul Mitchell Lavender Mint Moisturizing Shampoo & Conditioner
  • Aubrey Organics - Honeysuckle Rose Shampoo
  • American Crew Refreshing Shampoo, Citrus Mint
  • Bumble and Bumble Sunday Shampoo
  • Dove Shampoo, Cool Moisture, Cucumber & Green Tea Scent
  • Bumble and Bumble Creme de Coco Shampoo
  • Kerastase Nutritive Bain Oleo-Relax Smoothing Shampoo for Dry and Rebellious Hair
  • Bumble and Bumble Shampoo, Seaweed
  • Head & Shoulders Hair Endurance for Men Pyrithione Zinc Dandruff Shampoo plus Conditioner
  • Canus Li'l Goat's Milk Body Wash/ Tearless Shampoo
  • DHS Tar Shampoo
  • Tigi Bed Head Superstar Sulfate-free Shampoo
  • Brazilian Blowout Acai Anti-Frizz Shampoo
  • JASON Natural Cosmetics Dandruff Relief Shampoo, Rosemary, Neem & Tea Tree
  • Fairy Tales Rosemary Repel Shampoo
  • Avalon Organics Moisturizing Shampoo, Awapuhi Mango
  • Aveda Rosemary Mint Shampoo
  • Herbal Escapes Kiwi Lime Squeeze Clarifying Shampoo
  • Nature's Gate Organics Shampoo, Chamomile & Lemon Verbena
  • WEN Sweet Almond Mint Cleansing Conditioner
  • Suave Naturals Shampoo, Fresh Mountain Strawberry
  • Lily of the Desert Aloe 80 Organics Shampoo, Daily, Aloe, Lemon & Rosemary
  • Burt's Bees Super Shiny Grapefruit & Sugar Beet Shampoo
  • Burt's Bees Pomegranate & Soy Shampoo
  • Klorane Gentle Dry Shampoo with Oat Milk Non-Aerosol Spray
  • Tigi Rockaholic Dirty Secret Dry Shampoo
  • Rusk Sensories Purify Cucurbita & Tea Tree Oil Deep Cleansing Shampoo
  • Klorane Extra Gentle Dry Shampoo with Oat Extract
  • Nutrine Garlic Shampoo
  • PHYTO Phytoprogenium Intelligent Shampoo
  • Psssssst Instant Spray Shampoo
  • Tigi Bed Head Brunette Goddess Shampoo

I would have commented on some of the above, but I believe the list speaks for itself. Now I have to go tame my rebellious hair.

thinglets: How The Word "Official" Became Dead to Me

The word "Official" became dead to me today.

In an envelope that came marked "Official Consumer Product Survey of Ontario", in a recycled beige envelope reminiscent of actual government mailings, with an image of the province of Ontario, marked inauspiciously with an official-looking bar code stripe that looks like it wraps from the front to the back, but actually stops as far to the back as on the front. With an official-looking red stamp warning "DO NOT BEND" on the front, and an upper corner greeting from Diane Simon of the Consumer Research Centre, I felt it was almost my civic duty for me to complete anything that might be inside. Surely it was easily as important as the census or an election.

I hastily opened the envelope and was presented with a document that looked like federal tax forms, or voter registration. I started feeling patriotic and considered how special I must be to be one of the #138 people to receive such a request in my local constabulary. Surely I must be a trend setter, an influencer of markets, or, as the Spanish as a Second Language people say: El Grando Consumerino Importanto!

And then, to bastardize a Yeats pearl, "things fell apart."

I took a quick look back at the envelope and discovered it was sent to Main Grocery Shopper. Well, I am the main grocery shopper, so perhaps a proper name wasn't required. I then scanned the bottom of the envelope and found out I could win prizes... prizes... I don't remember my government ever offering me prizes for filling out my taxes. I remember them offering to send me to jail if I didn't do my taxes. Maybe my government was getting nicer? Maybe this was a public works project to help me during this depression. I was somewhat relieved that the envelope and all subsequent survey information was lovingly inscribed by Diane... but perhaps this was just to lull me into a sense of false security.

Upon closer perusal of the "survey" itself, I was prepared to see complicated legislative questions and room for anecdotal commentary on tax reform. Instead, the first bold category that popped up in front of was the inauspicious "LAUNDRY DETERGENT". Scattered over the first few pages of survey were similarly inspiring categories like Adult Nutritional Beverages, Yogurt, Seasonings and Marinades, Shredded Cheeses, Feminine Hygiene. And then I discovered some categories that seemed buried amidst the innocuous like personal medical information: Pain Relievers, Denture Care, Vision Care, Severe Allergies, Snoring, Bedwetting, a long list of check boxes asking about Family Health. In fact almost two full pages of personal medical information requests that further included Diabetes, Athlete's Foot, Multiple Sclerosis, Psoriasis and Rheumatoid Arthritis.

The last page included Vehicle Ownership, Insurance, Banking, Mortgages and General Information. 

General Information!?!

You already know what makes up my stool whenever I go to the bathroom and when I'm going to have the bank foreclose on my house. You already can surmise why fills my nightmares and when I'll probably die from congestive heart failure. Your character sketch of me has more detail than the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel and you want General Information?

Oh sure, I could elect not to share all of the medical information with your member companies, but then my odds would probably go down to win the $2,500 dollar "Lucky Early Bird" prize or $5,000 Grand Prize which I plan on using to buy all of the awesome product on the survey. I have to. The interior note tells me to "Fill it out NOW - while it's in your hands." The opposite side of this note includes an inspirational quote by Diane Simon: "Please don't throw this survey away! It's really more important than you may realize!"

I soon realized my hands were shaking. Could my brain's protestation win over the patriotism of my heart and soul calling me to do my civic and perhaps legal duty to complete these important document?

Upon scanning the last document in the envelope which included stirring endorsements from C.P of Kensington, PEI, S.F. of Toronto, ON, D.S. of Medicine Hat, AB, and P.J. of Sechelt, BC, I start to wonder who the hell endorses a survey? And I suppose what really made up my mind was when kindly Diane pointed me (via Post Script) to the company's privacy policy. Via the website I read:

Legal Requests: In addition to the disclosure of your personal information noted above, we may use and disclose any information about you to law enforcement, other government officials or other third parties as we in our sole discretion believe necessary or appropriate, in connection with an investigation of fraud, intellectual property infringement, or other activity that is illegal or may expose us to legal liability.

We may also disclose such information to third parties as we believe necessary or appropriate, in connection with any merger or consolidation with, or sale of substantially all of our assets or the assets of a line of our business to, a third party, provided that such a third party agrees to comply with the privacy policy that applies to your personal information and that appropriate notices are provided to you.

And so I had the proof I finally needed. If my so-called friend, Diane, was going to send my information to the government - THEY COULDN'T BE THE GOVERNMENT! It was all a ruse. I felt betrayed by Diane and her deceptive attempts at getting my to fork over my innocuous spending habits and serious medical conditions. I don't think I can ever trust the word "official" again - foul temptress.

lovehate: 3 Found Websites, 300 Subscribers

It's not often I just start picking up new websites/services. It's not that I intentionally avoid such things, it's simply that I spend more time writing and recording than exploring. This past week, however, I've jumped in on betas of a few sites that range from the popular to relatively unknown:,,
Brizzly has certainly been the darling of the social media set for the past couple of weeks as every strained to get their invites after being pissed off that they didn't find invites for Google Wave. Combining your Facebook and all of your Twitter accounts into a web interface is fairly cool, although it's been done by sites like Hootsuite and Friendbinder plus others.
I haven't really explored Brizzly enough to find how different it really is from the sites already out there. Maybe that's because I really enjoy the functionality of a stand-alone app for Twitter. I've been using Tweetdeck for the better part of a year now, and I have no real plans to turn back to the browser. I can appreciate the pull toward a browser-based solution by people in Enterprise environments where installing Adobe Air and a Social Networking app is a pipe dream at best. Perhaps in such an environment I would be looking for the best browser solution as well.
I like that Brizzly is doing what it's doing; I just don't know if I want to be doing it.
In looking for an online solution to creating flowcharts, I suppose I should've guessed that would've been a best guess - but I'm not prone to thinking things are that easy and it actually took me a bit of searching to find it. I'm becoming increasingly impressed at the interfaces that are being developed for web applications that create/edit graphics, sounds and video. While this is also a case where a freeware stand-alone app would probably be my first choice. I appreciate that I can do this online. does offer a pretty simple interface that I found it really easy to get used to. Admittedly, I have very rare occasion to ever create flowcharts, but I was thinking of making one for a blog post the other night. I realized that, where 10 years ago I used to have a bunch of apps installed on my PC that I could use for such a task, my lack of need to make flowcharts had diminished my software options. At least if I need to make a flowchart in the future, the URL will not be easy to forget.
Wrapping up my triumvirat of web exploration came perhaps the most appropriate site for the upcoming gift-giving season: For those of you that fondly remember Woot-Offs when a series of deals would revolve around at, the makers have basically added Digg functionality to deals. Users can submit their own deals and rate and rank them. What you essentially end up with is a dynamically-changing deals network. As you start to shuffle through some of the deals, you'll be able to sort by keywords, online stores or users and vote up the deals that you like. They've even aggregated a leaderboard that allows you to check out all of the deals stats that you could want.

Living in Canada, there are many of these deals that I can't take complete advantage of, but that's what snowbird parents and VISA are for. Not a brilliant trio of websites for sure - but certainly functional for the right reasons at the right times. I don't regularly "review" websites anyway... I know, a pretty weak lovehate right?

Actually, all this is a prelude to saying thanks to my 302 subscribers on Posterous. I had to wait a week to break 300, but I've been busy and beat and bereft of ideas when I get home most nights. (I hope at least some of you are enjoying the eclectic video embeds.)

I know that when radio stations get one caller for a contest, they have the market research that establishes the ratio of callers to listeners. I have to say that the community here at Posterous has been a joy to share ideas with and to gain so much knowledge from. Thanks Garry and Sachin for kicking things into gear a year and a half ago. Thanks to the new team members for the great additions. And thanks to everyone who has read even one full post from lovehatethings.

I've got to keep writing for sanity alone. If someone enjoys the reading, that's an added bonus. There are plenty of other communities out there. I'm glad I found this one when I did.

thinglets: Casino Gift Cards


While everyone has seemed to catch on to rip-off of microscamming that are gift cards, it seems that the fad has not faded and, indeed, may be taken in another direction. Casinos in Alberta are instituting a Casino Card system which is under the auspices of "capping" problem gamblers at a specific level. The next logical step, however, is Casino Gift Cards.

Let's face it, the gift card has become the easiest out during the holiday season. It's too gauche to give cash, so give plastic. Now though, instead of passing a Walmart or Target card to a family member, give them 20 pulls on a slot machine.

Some of the complaints that are filing in from around Alberta include the concept of advertising on the cards themselves. I wonder if the cards will have to contain a back and white warning, at least half the size of the card, that warns against the health hazards of gambling.

Maybe they could show the diseased lung of a gambler. Maybe they could give interesting stats about how secondhand gambling will kill children in cars. Maybe they could gather opinions from 3 out of 4 dentists who recommend sugar-free gambling for patients who choose gambling. I just hope someone starts up a "Green Gambling" group that complains about the use of plastic in making the cards.

Anyone who's read lovehatethings or listened to the podcast knows I'm a regular visitor to Vegas and any other casino that gets in my way. And while I empathize with "problem" gambling, just like any other addiction, no piece of plastic or self-imposed limitation is going to impact wide swaths of gamblers. While I would loathe to consider my province banning casinos, I do think that the solution is evident. If enough people are concerned, have a referendum and ban it... can I get odds on the over/under of that vote?