Loving the Sacred through Word and Image. Parliament Hill Ottawa. A Wordpress Production


Thursday … Not Closing Well

tumblr_lwdrzs4X441qhzv6oo1_500 darkandchaosCourtesy: Dark and Chaos

We are sitting at a very chilly (-18c/-25c w.c.). We have begin grumbling about the cold again. February came in, the same way January did, bitterly cold. We are hoping that in a matter of weeks,we may begin lifting out of this cold and darkness. Lots of other places are battling snowfall amounts that are just too much. Snow has overwhelmed the Maritimes and points south.

I had stuff to do today and plans to go spend some serious money at the advertised “Target: Black Friday Liquidation Sale” that began today.

But First, I went to the salon and had my hair cut. Another sweet buzz. I think I am beginning to warm to the idea that the brush of grey hair that has appeared is distinguished looking, so says my stylist. But that did not stop me from hitting the pharmacy for some retail hair color. UGH !!!!

Should I color it or accept that I am just getting “older ?”

On the way to the salon, you look down over Target, on the ground floor. On the front window panels are these huge liquidation signs stating upwards of 30% off stock. So I went into the salon saying to myself that finally I was going to get a real deal on something that I really can’t live without !

After my cut I did, in fact go down to the store. Every single shopping cart that is usually stacked in the front of the store, because, there are never “that many” people in the store at any given time, even on the “Open” event. Every cart was in the store, meaning there were corresponding shoppers connected to those carts, and they told us that we’d get “Black Friday” pricing. So they said …

Imagine Black Friday shoppers, fighting, pushing, shoving and being all kinds of insane …

They have stacked TV’s, Microwaves and other Boxy type merchandise all over the store, wherever there is free space. Yes, In fact, there were tons of people milling about.

I started in bedding, hoping to score a deal on a new sheet set, (Which we seriously need). As it happened, all the mid-range products were sold out. (Queen and Full size) and we were left with only Twin and King.

I sure as shit know that not many downtown renters have king size beds. And you don’t see many kids, so twin is another wasted product. Unless of course you have a dorm room on campus.

Pricing ran from $39.99 to $79.99 retail for what was left on the shelf, but all that they could manage in discounts was 10% … Ten percent.

WTF ???

I did not get my sheets !

I then walked over to the men’s clothing section. All over the other clothing areas, there were clothes littering the floor from one end to another. It was no different in men’s. The t shirt kiosks that you find nicely folded shirts for sale, they were all rumpled and unfolded, like someone rifled through them and left them laying in a pile, like you would find on someones bed room floor !

I did not see anything earth shattering. We had made purchases from Christmas so we really did not need anything, and there wasn’t anything on offer, that I couldn’t live without.

I did not see one item at a greater discount than 10%.

So that was a bust !

I was two for two, and I decided that there wasn’t anything else I wanted or needed, so I left the store and went to Micky D’s for lunch.

All day the web was buzzing with comments like:  Black Friday sales a bust … Target cannot even close right … Canadians leave target more disappointed than they expected …

When they opened, the store did have promise. It was bright and shiny new. We hoped that it would knock our socks off with selection and pricing that would compete in the market. You can’t run a store with empty shelves, and only offer certain products in a number of areas, and not all of them. They really did not dig out of that problem. And the holidays were a bust for Target. They just could not move product with the pricing they had.

People are disillusioned with Target. They came in with a BANG, and are going out like a DUD.

The discounts did not match up to the hype they were feeding us.

I came home after lunch because I had bottles to return. So it was an up down thing…

You know when you go into a grocery store totally prepared to buy everything on your mental list, it is mental, because you didn’t go far enough and write things down, and once you get home, you realize that you keep forgetting the same things over and over ???

I put everything away, and changed out of traveling clothes. I sat down at the computer and settled in. Only to get up twenty minutes later and change back into traveling clothes, to go back out and hit the dollar store for some stuff I needed and then go back to the grocery store to buy what I forgot, only to walk through the store and add more stuff to your cart than you had planned. because you had a hankering for J-E-L-L-O !!!

You can eat jello at any time of the day and that’s exactly what I did when I got home.

I had time to burn and nothing to do so I took an afternoon nap before the meeting.

We arrived at the church and settled in, and within minutes the chair walked up to my friend I travel with and asked him to share, right on the spot. (you never say no, usually) and he said yes.

I don’t remember the last time I heard the whole story, in one full sweep. But I have been listening to him for years, so I knew the story in pieces. It is always good to hear different old timers talk about what they do, how they do it, and how they do their Work …

All the older men I know, do it differently. And some don’t even do that at all.

Among our young members at several meetings, including myself, we invested in the lives of our old timers. This is, on the main, simple. They aren’t alone. Someone spends time with them weekly. Some of our guys teach music lessons, we share meals with them, hit meetings together, and we include them in our holiday gatherings.

We had two cakes. 18 and 19 years. Lots of cake. Frivolity and Fellowship.

Tomorrow is the best Day / Night of the week.

More to come, stay tuned …

Thursday … Loosing an Anchor


Not So Much tonight …

At this hour, the weather is holding. They tell us that snow will fall overnight, then temps will drop into the (-20c’s ) tomorrow night. Brrrrrrrrrr.

Over the last year and a half, I have told you the ongoing story of the redevelopment of Alexis Nihon Plaza, the mall just up the street. The entire West end, this section of downtown, has been under construction for a long time. We have new sidewalks, new bus stops, a new park is going in, a brand new condo tower is in the prep stages, they are tearing down an old building to make way for a new build, and the mall is still a work in progress.

I would imagine that probably over a million dollars or two went into the mall redevelopment program. We were getting a brand new anchor store … That was Target. They spruced up the floors ( read: they re-tiled the entire mall in flashy white tile) they refurbished all the columns and carpeted them and put all brand new signage in the mall, they painted and moved stores from their original locations to where they are now,  and redesigned the foot print of the entire mall, all in prep for Target. They put in a glass elevator so people could get to all floors because there was no access for people who needed that ability in the past. That cost some bucks.

I forgot to mention the million dollar LED signage that went up outside the building itself, top of the line signage that flashes and dances according to the weather outside. That must have cost One Pretty Penny to put up. The mall needed all the flash and bang it could afford to welcome this new anchor store to the mall and do it properly.

They tore apart the mezzanine level where the pharmacy, IGA and other brand new stores are located. They took out a staircase that fronted Zeller’s when they closed. And in its place, they erected a huge monstrosity glass ceiling that extends from the ground floor to the mezzanine in quite the fashion. The ceiling looks down into Target and the Starbucks that is in the store itself, like they needed the extra draw of a Starbucks coffee shop to get people in the door to shop. It sits in that very important IMPULSE location you see in every grocery store on the express cash aisle.

The entire building lends itself to Christmas decorations that are hung from the very pinnacle of the building itself over Target, and one HUGE Christmas tree was put up in front of the store. It was quite the spectacle.

And the IGA was rebooted, rebuilt and more than doubled their footprint.

We were all excited to have a Target in our neighborhood. It came in with a bang. Canadians had high hopes that the U.S. retail chain would give us all those frills and cheap prices that they gave us, when we traveled to the U.S. to shop in the very same store.

Cross border shopping is still the “thing to do, because prices here are still too high.”

You can’t really run a store that has empty shelves. And you can’t run a chain of stores when your pricing is higher than normal, and not offer customers something for their time and purchase dollars. Yes, I shopped at Target, and I still shop there today. I have not been 100% thrilled with the goods, but it is what it is.

Today Target announced that it is closing all 133 Target stores in Canada. ALL OF THEM !!!

All that work they did to get ready for this Anchor Store to come in and change our lives was a waste of time, treasure and talent. In the end, they could not offer us, what they offer the U.S. by way of stock, pricing and customer satisfaction.

The entire ground floor was designed for the purpose of bringing people to the store, having them shop, then hang out in the mall. A new Starbuck’s, Tim Horton’s, Dagwoods, Frozen Yogurt, Joogo Juice, and a good amount of seating for people to congregate there in front of this anchor store, was built.

Yes, they built it, and the people came, they just weren’t shopping enough at Target.

There will be a very big empty space when Target closes. It looked pretty, was all shiny and it attracted lack luster numbers,

Target in Canada is a failed venture.

I was at the mall earlier today. There were liquidation signs all over the store. But I got a good deal on jeans, that I sorely needed. They had what I wanted. And I had never needed a fitting room before so I did not know where it was. I picked up a couple pair of jeans and walked through the store looking for a fitting room, it was stuck in an area that I never walked through before.

So, yeah, I bought some jeans. Size 34 waist – 30 length.

A few months ago, my doc changed up all my medications because I was getting fat. What I did not know at the time, (I was on those drugs for more than two years) that they caused considerable weight gain, so I was promised 10 to 20 % weight loss with these new drugs, Janumet and Invokana.

Today I put on jeans that were slimmer than the ones I had on. I’ve lost 2 inches on my waist and a good ten pounds off the top to boot !!! Woo Hoo !!!

We’ve been customers of Pharmaprix for years. Today when I went to pick up my medications, my check out girl told me that due to a million dollar budget cut, staff and services were going to be cut, and that our medications are going up in price. We already pay a pretty penny for pills on the Quebec insurance program. She had a petition for us to sign, everybody was signing it, so I signed.

It seems there is a theme going on city wide. Better yet, Canada wide …

The pension program cuts the province wants to make is causing strife amongst city workers, people are pissed off, store chains are closing, budget cuts are coming across the board, the STM raised its transit rates this month, which makes it more expensive to buy passes and tickets. Provincial companies are cutting staff and raising prices at the same time.

The Provincial Government introduced austerity measures that have not gone down well with the population, and the employees in the province, and the city, We are also on austerity measures and that is also problematic for citywide workers, trying to make a living, AND get a pension, that they rightly deserve for the work they do, however shitty they are paid, and are asked to go above and beyond their duties, and they get pissed off, they go to work, pissed off, then get into scrums with passengers on trains and buses, it really isn’t a pretty picture at all.

The Canadian government, under the Conservative Party is not doing ANYONE any favors.

It is a very long and complicated story. Provinces get help, transfer payments based on natural resources and their production value from the government, that is paltry. it’s just a really bad scene.

We need a new government that will work for the people instead of fucking them all over.

Out in the oil patch, the price of oil is still falling, and Canada is scrambling, trying to figure out what to do right now, thousands of workers are loosing their jobs, budgets are in free fall, the economy is dancing around the word “recession.” It just isn’t a very pretty economic picture here at home, or across the country tonight.

And far far away, people are dying at the hands of religious extremists.

We learned the other night that our very own Canadian Home Grown Isis fighter Abu Ibrahim Al-Canadi is dead ! He popped up on social media some time ago, in a slick new recruiting video, touting his Canadian upbringing and called other Canadians to join the fight against the west.This bright, educated, Canadian Young man was seduced by isis to go to Syria and fight in the war against the West. With his bright face of young years, wearing a flak bomb jacket, he went over to the dark side, and now he is a martyr for the cause of Islam. What a fucking shame…

What are becoming of our young people world wide. So much hatred. We have pissed off all the right people, after years and years of unjust war, torture allegations out of the U.S. and they way the world sees Islam, and paints everybody with ONE WIDE BRUSH STROKE.

We’ve made more enemies than friends since prior to 9 -11…

Abu Ibrahim Al-Canadi … He is dead … He was once one of us, and even if he turned over, somewhere deep down, I don’t think he forgot where he came from, since he spoke so warmly about it in his propaganda video, but what can you say about religious disillusionment ?

The problem with religious extremism is that it has nothing to do with Islam, however hard they want you to believe that all this terror and killing, all in the name of Allah, is called for in a Holy Book.

No, it is an aberration…

Europe is smack dab in the middle of a multicultural fight between East and West. Borders are porous, getting to and from the Middle East/Iraq/Syria/Yemen so forth and so on, back into Europe is easier than getting from North America, back and forth.

I also failed to mention the atrocities that are West Africa. Crimes against humanity, the killing of hundreds of thousands of Muslims, Christians and others. The kidnapping of school children to marry off to terrorists, the conscription of KIDS to kill human beings. That is a terrible atrocity.

We’ve seen in the Middle East that kids there have been conscripted for killing human beings as well. Such unimaginable horrors. And we are powerless to stop it. How do you deal with so many flahs points of terror and killing … ?

It looks like things are going from Bad to Worse over there. Shit is also going down in the U.S. unlike we have seen in a long time. Here in Canada, and Montreal, for that matter, we are safe. People are wary, when they are out and about, because like we have seen, Canada is not immune to what is going on a world away.

It is very sad that 2015 has started with such a terrible BANG…

But what can you do? We must stand our ground and fight for what is right and good.

I was in a local news shop today, and the discussion about Charlie Hebdo was going on when I walked in. It seems they will be carrying the newly printed edition, and sales start tomorrow across Canada. It is going to be a mad house for sure.

Pope Francis has said there is a limit to freedom of speech, when that speech crosses religious lines. Many folks are at odds with that statement. For myself, I don’t see the good in inciting anger across religious lines. I guess that comes from my religious education and my belief that you don’t make fast friends when you cross that invisible line of discretion, freedom and speech.

There will be more to come, stay tuned …

Friday … Spiritual Condition / TARGET REVIEW

tumblr_mgdlntw5kP1s309nko1_500 chinchinalqueraje

Courtesy: chinchinalqueraje

“We are not cured of alcoholism. What we really have is a daily reprieve contingent on the maintenance of our spiritual condition.” A.B.S.I. #27

Knowing I had to be up at the crack of dawn this morning, I did not go to bed until almost 4 in the morning. UGH !!! I took my night pills and went to bed, and was up before the buzzer went off.

Appointments at the clinic are always “wait and see.”

I practice a little acceptance and turn the day over first thing.

I got on the bus and arrived before my 10 am appointment call. There was shit going down in the hospital – I kept hearing them call codes across the hospital speaker system. I didn’t have to wait long to see a doctor, I had met him before. He looked at my back and decided to send me to radiology for x-rays.

Rumor had it that they were uber backed up and may not be able to take me right away, but we called anyways, it is just down the hall from I.D.T.C., I walked over and got right in. Quick and painless.

Doc thinks I have a few pinched nerves and said to keep taking the OTC pills I have, and rest up, he also said it may take six weeks to get better.

I took an afternoon nap before the meeting and I slept without medication, which was a good thing.



On the way home I detoured to the mall. I really like the clean lines look of the rebuild and the new decorations, and the Big Tree in the atrium outside of Target.

I had commented to a team member on Thursday night that the layout was similar to the way Zellers was set up, and the response was, it’s only a lot bigger.

The store footprint is larger. They knocked back the walls on the sides and back of the store. There is good and ample space to walk with carts from one area to another.

Where Zellers was quite drab and dreary, Target moved in with flash, splash and lots of color. From carpets, to tile to paint, and decor.

The store is awash in color. 

When you enter the store you have a direct sight line to electronics. And with a great splash there are wide screen tv’s on the wall that is quite eye popping.

The electronics section was amazing. I purchased some headphones for my phone on Thursday night, priced right and fine crafted electronics. From Tv’s to phones, to pads to dvd’s. They have it all.

For you Family Folks, there is an entire spectrum of BABY items, from diapers to carts. Nobody is left without something to buy.

The store lay out is near to the same way Zellers was laid out. But on a greater scale.

There is plenty to see and lots to buy.

I called to mind an exercise we had in Sociology last year where we observed a stores use of colors (Zellers)  in certain sections of the store.

Ladies, Men, Children’s, Toys, Housewares, etc …

You will notice that each area is bright and colorful. Blues, Pinks, the Target Red, and Yellows.  It is indicative of how color is used to display items for sale. Take for instance the toy department … Girls toys are in pink colored racks, blue for the boys, and yellow for younger children.

The older areas are darker colors and set up for maximum exposure. There is dedicated kitchen,bed and bath, and housewares. But the selection of bits and bobs are really nice. Once you pick a pattern and style, there are plenty of add on’s you can add to your cart. Candles, table toppers, etc …

LOTS of Holiday items from Christmas trees, to decorations and house ware holiday items.

There is a section for food, groceries and frozen items. With the IGA just upstairs, you can buy those much needed impulse items, candy and munchies galore. I did not see an in-house pharmacy, ala Zellers, I may have to go back and look see again. But Pharmaprix is just up stairs.

Prices are comparable. Shopping in the men’s section I found that the size stock was lacking. I wear X-large shirts and there were very few of them on display. But lots of Small, Med and Larges.

Sox, underwear and thermals were out and priced nominally. They were not overly expensive or more expensive than they had been. I noticed that pricing store wide was very reasonable.

I did not see Winter coats or items of that nature, I might have missed them up front. I was headed to areas for things I wanted to buy.

They have nice things to buy, and they aren’t cheaply made or cheap items, so you are paying a price for nice things. I’ve never had a problem paying a little more for something nice for my home.

The quality is much higher grade than Zellers.

You can decorate your entire home in this store. Bathroom, Dining, Bedrooms and Furniture. Good Quality furniture.

Check out was a breeze. There was a team member waiting for shoppers to direct them to cashes and the process was quick, the cashiers were polite and bright. I like it …

And if you are in the mood for coffee, Starbucks is right there next to the exit, with lots of holiday offerings. They are directly underneath a huge glass window that extends up to the Mezzanine level, outside of Pharmaprix on the main floor.

It is interesting that there is a Starbucks in the Target, when there is a big Tim Horton’s just across the square from the entrance of the Target.

Nothing like Good Coffee Competition !!!

People have their favorite coffee’s. Whether you are a Starbucks or a die hard Timmy’s person, you can get it all here.

On that main floor are Laura Secord Chocolates, a sweet shop, shoe cobblers, jewelry, fragrances, and pastries. There is a dry cleaners, A Dollar Store that is huge. And several kiosks for phone, printer cartridges, and Lotto.

Yellow shoe store is off to the side of Target, and it was the first new build to open on the ground floor when the rebuild began months ago.

There are several boarded storefronts. And they are still building around the escalator casing and the glass elevator.

This new face lift for Alexis Nihon was greatly needed. The new colors and decor is bright and splashy. Like I have said before, they did a great job on the rebuild.

Come visit and shop till you drop.

When I got home I tweeted Target Canada.

I went, I saw, I shopped and I liked. They favorited my tweet, and then later on today they responded directly with a message of thanks and that they had forwarded my comment to the store operations. That was nice.

Thanks Target Canada.

It was a great night. Lots of faces. There was lots to listen to tonight, I just listened tonight. The reading was short, and there were lots of pregnant pauses. But it was good.

It was a great day.

Shopping at Target is a seriously Good Thing …

More to come, stay tuned …