Awareness: Is this “Social Conditioning”?

… or am I just a little paranoid.

To be honest, and even I’ve noticed it, I tend to be a little bit of a conspiracy theorist.  Fortunately, ever since I realized it, I have so much fun with it.  But a bit of a secret between me and you, the one or two readers with whom I get to share these insights (thanks, folks!) – I’m wondering if there is a bit of a REAL conspiracy going on right now – Literally – under our noses.

I like coffee from the street.  I can’t make a good one at home.  Actually, I only drink tea at home because the coffee shops can’t make a good one on the street.  I usually buy 3 to 4 cups a day (even when I am p-o-o-r).  A few times recently, I’ve had to buy different sizes and I nearly bought a small.  I usually have jumbo or large.

I bought a medium size coffee at Tims recently and I noticed it was small.  I mean tiny.  I had to ask if they made a mistake.  It was a medium.  So I figured I would stay away from mediums at Tims.

Then I went to … Coffee Time (CT) … and got a … medium coffee.  I thought it would be a good deal for caffeine because they aren’t the same as Tims, so you get more.  Also applies to pastries.

That’s when my Meaning Making Machine (my brain) took over and started creating stories about what I think is going on.  That’s when I started to wonder about the conspiracy thing.

Here’s how I see it:

  1. The economy sucks.  To make money for their shareholders, they either raise prices or give less product (and squeeze the hell out of the poor staff that endure the punishment from management).
  2. The sizes of donuts and other foods at Tims get smaller and smaller.  CT’s pastries are excellent in the morning on the way to college. (There’s one at the end of my street.)
  3. They had to make the products smaller because they raised the prices quite a bit a few years ago.  They said it was because of the bad years of crops.  The prices never did go back down when the crops were better and the market was getting bigger. (Tims wasn’t bought out by Wendy’s because Dave Thomas enjoyed a smoke with the counter lady in Fort Erie after a Saturday night hockey game.  The company has been repatriated from Wendy’s though).
  4. The competitors in the coffee-delivery business got together and created this plan so they can all survive – even Tims.
  5. Because of the economy, this time they have to make money by cutting costs.  They may not be serving a growing market because their sales are shrinking, but they are still making a profit.
  6. Taking the point of view as a conspiracy, I figure “how Tims goes, so goes the competition”.  I think Tims leads the market, and don’t they have some kind of association or something?
  7. Then they discussed it and decided to keep each other afloat by smaking things smaller and then – RAISE THE PRICES!!!!!!  Everyone!!!!

I’ve got to stop.  All this conspiracy thing is getting my blood flowing.  I do have one final thought that has me question my thinking (my “why”).

Remember a few years back when it was all abuzz about there’s got to be ‘something in the coffee’ at Tims because people wait for 15 to 20 minutes for a coffee from them.  And most of still do!

Well, even if it isn’t true, they’ve all got us hooked.  Part Nurture, part Nature.  First, the Nature: we love coffee because we live in a cold climate, and coffee is addictive.  The Nurture: we are easily led (by our Canadianism) to accept Tims place in our historical lore; and as a result, they could raise prices, make goods smaller, or slow/unorganized service with relative ease.

So is Nurture the key?  Is that the Social Conditioning?  Have they conditioned us to accept the coffee wars as they play out because we love coffee and they love us for loving it.

So now you know my dilemma, and it is right under my nose.


Values & Beliefs: The Lobster and The Crab

This is a joke about how perception can create false impressions.  I think we do this a lot when we don’t have all the information we need to create an opinion about something.


A crab and a lobster are secretly dating.

Pretty soon, the lobster tires of the lying and tells her father, who then forbids her to see the crab anymore.

“It’ll never work, honey.” he says to her. “Crabs walk sideways and we walk straight.”

“Please,” she begs her father. “Just meet him once. I know you’ll like him.”

Her father finally relents and agrees to a one-time meeting, and she runs off to share the good news with her crab sweetie.

The crab is so excited he decides to surprise his beloved’s family. He practices and practices until he can finally walk straight!

On the BIG day, he walks the entire way to the lobster’s house as straight as he can.

Standing on the porch, and seeing the crab walking towards him, the lobster dad yells to his daughter…..

“I knew it! Here comes that crab and he’s drunk!”

Thanks to
Dr. David J. Baxter, Ottawa, Canada

Self Expression: What about Personality Tests?

I don’t know how you feel, but for me, I sometimes feel skeptical about Personality Tests.

I would like to put a more disciplined faith in some of these; but I currently think they are more or less a benefit as a social scientific guide to personal development.

I tend to be a skeptic is because the negative outcomes that can arrive once I decide I am ‘this way’ or ‘that way’.  (I will need a caveat for this one: I do use a test for its accuracy and personal understanding of myself.)  I don’t endeavour to ‘become a better fit’ for the category – I just ‘am’.  I don’t want to box myself into a static profile, so I use several of these psycho-tests as a guide to be aware of my thoughts, decisions, and behaviours.

      One of the things I like to check out once in a while are the different personality tests that are available on the internet.  A lot of these tests are sometimes used by some companies and institutions to measure the ‘right fit’ when they are hiring people.  Another use would be in the court system.  There are many others.  For me, I like personality tests just to get a constant check-up from the neck up (thanks CAMH) – and for a teeny bit of entertainment (kinda like reading the newspaper horrorscope predictions).

There are a couple that I like and use; and I’ve gone back several times over the years to re-do the tests just to check the validity of the profiles and see what, if any, changes occurred in my personality that I intuitively felt shift.  I don’t like to use them to define myself.

None of them are perfect alone; so I don’t keep myself to just one or two, and I check out all kinds and have fun with them.  I’ve used a few of them together and found it to be quite interesting … and enlightening at times.  Bottom line though, is that the sum of the group is more valuable than of any one single ‘test’.

If you are interested, I’ve linked a web page from Geocities here that has a whole list of personality and psychological tests.  You can spend a whole rainy afternoon just playing and learning.

By the way, the test I respect the most is the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI). I first did the test with a professional ‘test-giver’ in the mid-80’s.  As mentioned above, I’ve revisited tests over the years, and this is one of them.  I find this test the most consistent.

According to results, I am considered an INTP (with a ‘sometime wobble’ to INTJ depending on my mood – my diagnosis).

Awareness: A toilet changed my mood …

I suppose some people could relate to having a toilet make them feel better.  After all, when we gotta go – we gotta go!  But for the most part, toilets don’t do us much pleasure.

I was running an errand this afternoon; when 1/2 way along my journey along a residential street, I had to go pee.  Now, I’m an older geezer who needs to go when the birds sing.  But here I was, stuck!  And to top it all off, I was coming upon road construction that was sure to make it more difficult to navigate my way to the nearest loo.

Surprisingly, I was thinking to myself about how chaos creates frustration in my lives because I am always trying to organize it.  I’m an organizer, or systemizer, or control freak, if you will.  I was having a difficult time running my errand because the streets were busy.  I found myself dodging groups, pets, and bicycles; and frankly, I was frustrated.  I decided to ditch Bloor Street and head down the side streets.  All was going fine and I was able to slow down a little and enjoy the trip.  Then I realized I needed to pee.”Dang!” I thought to myself.

To make matters worse, my trip was interrupted by this street construction I was coming upon.  Dodging and weaving again.  Around stuff, crossing streets, etc.  There was just no relieve.  Then I realized my bladder was getting angry and soon, it taking my mood with it.  As I said earlier, 1/2 way to nowhere – and I gotta go!

I was considering sounding off to the chaos gods about the distress they were putting me through when lo and behold!  What do I see?  It was Saturday afternoon and there was nobody around.  All I could see were earth graders, hoes, piping supplies, and … and … I don’t believe it!  I spotted the most beautiful thing I saw that afternoon – a worker’s toilet shed beside the road.

“I couldn’t be so lucky,” I thought to myself as I casually walked towards it.   I checked the door, because you know, it is the weekend and they do lock those things up, I suppose.  I looked close and reached for the handle – and YES! – it swung wide open.  There before me was the most gorgeous empty toilet waiting for me to release the contents of my bladder.

I had a moment of reckoning.  A breakthrough of sorts.  Since then, I’ve decided to take it a little easier on this thing called ‘chaos’.  I guess it has its good points.  I’m thinking that there is beauty in even the most horrid of circumstances.  We’re told that all the time.  But I need to experience it for me to believe.

I’ve also decided to appreciate those stinky toilets as well.  It smelled like a bed of fresh roses when relief reached my body.

What I didn’t do was learn a more valuable lesson.  As soon as I got to College Street, I looked for the nearest coffee shop.

I realized I was out of coffee.

Awareness: Jiddu Krishnamurti – 1

One of the most profound influences in my life is a man named Jiddu Krishnamurti.

I first discovered him in 1990, and he has been a part of my life ever since.

Check out this link and have a look at some videos I pulled from Youtube.

Into Paradise

Into paradise, my body is thrown

To see outside all, what needs to be known.

I don’t know how far or what lives near

So, into paradise …

I face my fear.

I Wonder

The bottom fell out of my life yesterday,
and I just don’t know …

how much I’m making it through this darkness.

What is is was!
What can is gone!
What used to be,
Has all gone wrong!

What may is not!
What could is should!
What seemed to be,
Am I misunderstood?