Friday, September 18, 2015

When To Go Pro

I've been knitting non-stop for just over 20 years now, but I first learned a long time before then (like, 15 years...).  It wasn't until three years ago that I went "pro".  Facebook made it easy.

Why did I turn pro?  I knew I could use my many years of experience to provide top notch, high quality products.  I could create my own patterns, adapt other peoples patterns, and had a vast knowledge base, and library and stash, to work with.  I wasn't afraid to try something new, since I had a lot to back it up with.

Much of my early pro work was with photographers.  Photography has always been an interest of mine, and I loved using my Konica SLR, until the digital age took over and I couldn't keep up (financially, or learning-wise since I was hardly keeping up back then with just my kids!).  In the photography world now, there is a lot of talk about people thinking that just by getting a DSLR, they can become a photographer.  Just having a passion for taking photos should be enough, right?  You can check out a few websites and learn some things, create a free website and FB page, and Wham!  You're a pro.

This has created a huge divide between photography pros with years of education, business experience, equipment, talent, and intuition, and those that just picked up a camera and are presenting themselves as a pro.  Often, they will say they are "portfolio building" so their prices are really cheap compared to other pros.

When you hire an electrician, do you want a first year apprentice, or a fully licensed, union-backed electrician?  What if the beginner had a passion, and was just working for experience and the love of it, not for the money?  Would your dentist work just for the love of it and charge 1/10th what others do?

I saw a link on Facebook to another new photographer's website.  The girl says "Well my younger sister just started her own business for it and I'm just trying to help her get her name out there. I'll be attacking a link to her website. I've personally seen her photos and they turn out amazing. She's also very patient with kids as well if you want nice photos of your kids as well."

I took a look at the website.  I'm sorry, the photos are NOT amazing.  A picture of a dog, with the legs of a stool in the background, right behind him.  Baby pictures with drool.  A boy squinting into the sun.  And, just like the errors in the FB post, all through her website she uses "photo's" instead of photos.  

If you want to appear to be a pro, you need to make sure you present yourself that way, and present your best work.  And you have to know when the time is right to launch yourself as "pro".  Research others in your field, whatever it might be.  I look at other's knitting pages on FB, and I see lousy photos--out of focus, dark, busy, etc (some of my early photos were not the greatest, stylewise, but they were always in focus and showed the product).  I see spelling errors, grammar errors.  These things matter.  It might seem superficial, saying you have to have good spelling when you're "just a knitter" but it's all part of the package.  You have to be really good at self-examination and know whether or not you're ready to play in the big leagues.  Compare yourself to the pros.  Ask others for honest constructive criticism.  

And, most important, be willing and able to listen and acknowledge and learn from that constructive criticism.

Thursday, September 17, 2015

Why This Doesn't Scare Me

This article by CityTV News is making the Facebook rounds this week.  Last year, it was this article from my local paper.  It allows you to enter the first three characters of your postal code (Canada) and find out how many registered sex offenders live in your "area".  

Before you do that (it's at the bottom), read the whole article.

There are 1798 registered sex offenders in the Toronto area, with a compliance rate of 97%.  The  provincial total is 12 018 and there are also 112 sex offenders, in the whole province, who are not on the list due to no fixed address or postal code missing.  

So often child protection programs focus on "stranger danger" and people always pipe up that strangers are not the real risk.  That's very true.  But shouldn't we know who these monsters are so we can choose to live in a "safe" neighbourhood, and protect our children?  True again.  But the Registered Sex Offenders list can not protect your children, nor really help you in any valuable way to protect them.  

For example, entering the FIRST THREE characters of my postal  code into the search box of that article reveals there are 40 registered sex offenders in my postal code zone.  How big is that zone?  Well, where I used to live in downtown Whitby, the postal code was L1N.  Where I live now, it's also L1N, and we're about 2.8km apart (the black star and approximately the red dot).  Where else in Whitby is L1N...I did a bit of Googling...all the way down to Victoria St in the south end (south of the 401), to Rossland Rd, just north of me.  The west-east boundaries appear to be Cochrane St (just to the west of me) to the Oshawa-Whitby border.  It takes me at least 10 minutes to get to that easterly border by car, along Rossland.

Take a look at this on the map:

 Look how huge this area is.  It encompasses the downtown, where there is a huge mix of socio-economic classes, and most of "old" Whitby.  Oh...and it includes the Ontario Shores Centre for Mental Health Services.  AKA, "The Whitby Psych".  Where there are people convicted of crimes but held here because they were deemed mentally/psychologically unable to be in a jail.  I'm sure some of these inmates must be on that list.

And only 40 registered offenders for that entire area (including the OSCMHS).

It's important to look at what will get you on that list.  The second article I linked to explains it a bit more, and also that offenders are not on the list "for life".  This is both good and bad.
Some other things not mentioned in the many 16 year old girls are dating guys 18+......good news....that would no longer be a sexual offence as in 2006 the gov't created a close-in-age exemption for sex between 14-15 year olds and partners up to 5 years older....okay, so 18 year olds are no longer going on the registry for a sexual relationship with a 16 year old....but if one of the partners claims it's not consensual, and the partner is convicted...they're on the list.

The other things listed by the article...old man brushing a woman's legs on the bus.  Is that sexual assault?  If the victim views it as it is, then it is.  Do we care how the old man viewed it?  I'd be interested to know what he was thinking before shaming him to this list.  

Yes, there are some violent, vicious, unsavoury people on this list.  But is the list going to help you protect your children?  It can't tell you where the offenders live.  It can't tell you their name or show a picture.  It can't tell you their crime.Sexual assault by someone in a position of trust (coach, pastor, etc) vs sexual assault by stranger, or by drunken miscommunication after a party?

How many of that 40 do we need to fear?  Where are they?  And if we knew who they were and where, what do we do with that info?  Do we take our children to those addresses and say "watch out for this man"? For sure, if there was an address on that list that was directly in my neighbourhood, it would raise red flags and I'd be a little more vigilant, cautious, with my kids...but the old man rubbing a lady's legs is likely not interested in an 8 year old walking to Mac's.

I'm seeing so many people jumping to conclusions thanks to CityTV's article.  "OMG, there's 40 in my neighbourhood".  I really don't consider the L1N postal code my neighbourhood, and it's definitely NOT my children's neighbourhood.

Keep an eye on your local paper, see who gets arrested for crimes, and where they live, or follow your local police on FB or Twitter.  Last spring I found out an 18 year old from our actual neighbourhood (on the main street that runs through our development) was arrested for a very violent, perhaps pre-meditated assault.  He took concealed weapons to a large, public, holiday gathering.  I think he might be the older brother of boys in my daughters classes.  THESE are the types of things we need to know about and worry.

Monday, September 7, 2015

Chip Truck #11: Rachel's Chips and Cones

This truck has been on my list to hit for awhile.  Everyone says it awesome (did come across one woman who said she's wasn't all that impressed).  It's just not in an area we get to often.

When heading south on Simcoe St (Oshawa), continue south of Wentworth and look for the sign by the curb, across from the fire hall.  The truck is tucked back a bit, but you can see the nose of it as you approach.

It wasn't busy, but there were other people before and after us.
Click on this picture for a larger view.  I had been told there were onion rings there, but none on the menu :(  Check out the blue raspberry dipped cones!  I've never seen that before!!

 Since I had just one taste tester with me, we opted for the poutine, a small.  It was quite good.  The fries were excellent, with a great crispiness.  The gravy was good...not heavy on the spices, but full of meaty flavour and richness.

There were two picnic tables, one had an umbrella, so that was nice because it is super hot right now.

 This isn't my picture, but it's a great shot.  The first two pictures weren't mine either.  Thanks to my Frugal Facebook Friends!

Rachel's has a FB page with other great pictures.  Go hungry and get the X-treme or the Rachel's Mess!


I dragged the family over again recently to give another test! Sure, it's a bit of a drive for us, but sometimes you've just got to.  Megan was away for the day, so it was nice just to have the older two and Rob.
This is the supreme fries. I loved them, except for the sour cheese. I'm just not a fan of sour cream as  a topping, and not a fan of cold toppings on hot fries. 

The fries were excellent again. I could go for them a bit more crispy, but that's just me. I think they should give you a spoon for all that gravy. Now, if only this truck had onion rings, it would be 5 stars. Home made onion rings, not packaged ones! Please? I know they're more work but so yummy.

Friday, September 4, 2015

Eastern Ontario Poutine Review

When we visited Calypso Water Park last time, (2013), even though we heard lots of French, I didn't realize just how FRENCH that area is.  I though everyone was a tourist, LOL.  This time we stayed in Casselman, and wow, French was everywhere.  I knew I HAD to try some "almost Quebec" poutine.

I read about a cheese co-op, St. Albert Cheese,  that was nearby.  They have a snack bar.  Perfect!  We got there a little earlier than I expected, and got told (in French) that the snack bar was still closed.  We were willing to wait the 15 minutes!  We were disappointed that the Mac & Cheese was still on the menu, but no longer available.  So we chose the classic poutine (there were many options) and nachos with chicken.

The poutine is served up pretty quick.  The nachos took a while.  But worth the wait!

The poutine was awesome....though the first French fry I took was SO hard and burnt, I was worried.  Tons of gravy.  Our only complaint was that the cheese curds were too big and didn't melt well, especially since we were outside and it was sort of cool out.  

The nachos were SO good!  Oh man.  I make nachos once in a while, but I put the salsa on the chips, then the toppings, and bake.  These, the chips were hot, the cheese was melted, and then the toppings were added (the toppings were cold, but the chicken was hot).  The salsa was separate.  It was a totally different way of doing nachos, and we all liked it--though it was harder to share (there were naked tortillas at the bottom!).  We made such a mess of the picnic table, LOL!

After lunch, we went back in for gelato/sherbet.  They were going to get ice cream, but it was Kawartha Dairy ice cream, which we get all the time. So we wanted to try something new.  The gelato cups were tiny, but SO worth it, and they really didn't need to be bigger, since you could get two flavours.  I tried dark chocolate and raspberry.  OMG.  Divine.  Others got Cookies and Cream, Coconut, Lemon, and milk chocolate, I think.  The only disappointment was the Cookies and Cream, which tasted a bit old.  All the flavours they offered looked awesome.

I think we ended up spending just under $40 for the 5 of us, and we were stuffed.  A great place for a little visit.  The store is well stocked, the self-guided tour is interesting, and the food is worth it (as we could tell by the steady stream of locals!).  If you're going up that way, stop by and visit!