Half Full – The Holiday Shopping List

Hello,

So far we have filled 15 of the maximum 30 spots for the Holiday Shopping list and it’s a fantastic mix of stuff. That means we still have some room if you’re interested in joining us.


JenEric Designs and Creative Ottawa Nerds (CON) have teamed up to create a list of 30 Canadian artists and artisans that have something to offer for the holiday season.

Beyond the list, we will create a post each day in November that highlights one of the vendors.

For those of you that need holiday shopping ideas, keep an eye on this blog. The list will be up November 1st.

As more vendors join, we will add their logos to the banner.

For those of you that would like to participate please email us at JenEricDesigns (at) gmail.com Subject: Holiday Shopping List with the following information.

  • Business Name:
  • Business URL(s):
  • Description of your products/store:
  • Final Shipping Date for Holidays:
  • Sales or coupons:
  • Photos: 1 logo, 3-6 product pictures (each must be smaller than 2mb)

This will be first come first serve. We will accept a maximum of 30 vendors. No resellers.

There will be a $5 fee for being listed. All money collected will be used to boost a post on CON’s Facebook page promoting the list.

Thank you and I hope you have a happy and profitable holiday season!

JenEric Designs and CON

The Holiday Shopping List

Hello Fellow Small Business owners,

I’ve seen a lot of social media posts about how we should support small business. The problem with those posts is finding them again and getting more than just other business owners to look at them.

For that reason JenEric Designs and Creative Ottawa Nerds (CON) have teamed up to create a list of 30 Canadian artists and artisans that have something to offer for the holiday season.

Beyond the list, we will create a post each day in November that highlights one of the vendors.

For those of you that need holiday shopping ideas, keep an eye on this blog. The list will be up November 1st.

As more vendors join, we will add their logos to the banner.

For those of you that would like to participate please email us at JenEricDesigns (at) gmail.com Subject: Holiday Shopping List with the following information.

  • Business Name:
  • Business URL(s):
  • Description of your products/store:
  • Final Shipping Date for Holidays:
  • Sales or coupons:
  • Photos: 1 logo, 3-6 product pictures (each must be smaller than 2mb)

This will be first come first serve. We will accept a maximum of 30 vendors. No resellers.

There will be a $5 fee for being listed. All money collected will be used to boost a post on CON’s Facebook page promoting the list.

Thank you and I hope you have a happy and profitable holiday season!

JenEric Designs and CON

Top Five Phrases You Need to Stop Using

Hello My Imaginary Friends,

There are things that piss me off… Pet Peeves, Office Pet Peeves, Convention Pet Peeves, Freelancer Pet Peeves and Angering statements for a short list.

There are, however, quicker ways to piss me off. The following phrases need to be forgotten to history and absolutely guarantee making me mad.

5. I’m Just Playing Devil’s Advocate

Movie poster for The Devils Advocate 1997

If you’re not Al Pacino or Keanu Reeves, I don’t want to hear it.

This is the preferred phrase for people who know they’re going to piss you off for fun. It’s a tell that they are arguing for the sake of arguing and that they don’t care about your feelings.

Don’t. Just don’t.

4. Do Your Research

Sherlock Holmes from the Sherlock BBC show saying, “I’m not a psychopath, Anderson, I’m a high-functioning sociopath. Do your research.

Just like the image above. This phrase is used by people who fundamentally missed the point. Their idea of research is a good emotional Netflix or Youtube propaganda film or some conspiracy site. It’s not just an annoying phrase, but an indication that you’re probably dealing with someone with a huge ego that truly believes the bullshit coming from their mouths.

Don’t say it unless you want me to picture you with a foil hat. (and probably block, unfriend, etc.)

3. Survival of the Fittest

Sign that reads, “Please do not lick the walls” from a background image in Good Omens 2019.

Survival of the fittest is a bullshit name for an incomplete theory that people have taken to mean that it’s okay if people die.

There’a great article from New Scientist that explains the flaw in this. Evolution myths: ‘Survival of the fittest’ justifies ‘everyone for themselves’

Evolution and survival are not streamlined to only the strong. It’s messy and random.

This phrase has been co-opted by business and competitions. More recently by jackasses that are trying to push a Eugenic point of view with regard to Covid-19.

Seeing as most of my friends and family would be considered weak by these people… Just don’t use the phrase.

We Have to Consider Both Sides

Photo of Patton Oswalt with dog. Quote on the side reads:
You’ve gotta respect everyone’s beliefs.” No, you don’t. That’s what gets us in trouble. Look, you have to acknowledge everyone’s beliefs, and then you have to reserve the right to go: “That is fucking stupid. Are you kidding me?”
The Full quote not shown on the image continues:
I acknowledge that you believe that, that’s great, but I’m not going to respect it. I have an uncle that believes he saw Sasquatch. We do not believe him, nor do we respect him!”

There’s so much emphasis on balance and respect when it comes to arguments. Not people, but arguments. There are extremes ON BOTH SIDES, you have to understand BOTH SIDES, BOTH SIDES are entitled to their opinions.

Stop, just stop. Yes, there are arguments that have complex issues where you need to look at both sides. But the moment someone starts to devalue another person’s life, I refuse to listen to both sides.

Giving a Nazi, or an Anti-vaxx person the same podium to speak validates their opinion. By saying, “Their are good people on both sides” you tell the world that it’s okay to hate others and want them dead if you’re nice about it.

The value of human life should not be a political issue.

Calm Down / Don’t Get Emotional

Photo of Captain Picard, Chief Engineer Laforge, and other crew members looking at Data who is lying on a console. Text reads: “Install an emotion chip they said / You’ll act normal they said”

There’s a great theme that runs throughout Star Trek. That of the importance of balancing logic and emotion. We see it with Spock, Data, the Doctor, Odo, T’Pol, Burnham, and Spock again.

Wild unchecked emotion is destructive, unfettered logic is cold and heartless. But it seems that when talking to people about something you’re passionate about, the phrases ‘calm down’ or ‘don’t get emotional’ are the quickest way to dismiss your passion.

When talking about something you love or feel passionate about, you will be emotional and, in my opinion, you shouldn’t be calm.

It’s also a wonderful way to make anyone angry. It’s dismissive and condescending.


What common phrases do you think we should stop using?

Stay Safe,

Éric

Top 5 Silly Things all Parents Do

Every child is different and every parent is also just as different, but there are some things we share.

5. Attempt Escape

Everyone has days that they just want a few seconds of quiet where no one is asking to climb you. Kids are awesome, but they’re draining and sometimes you just need to hide. I’ve been known to take my phone into the washroom and maybe spend a little extra time.

4. Hear a Boom and Freeze

You’ve been there. The child just falls, hits something, knocks something over, or goodness knows what. You freeze and wait for the scream, cry, shout, or other loud reaction.

It’s a “do I need to intervene” or “should I wait for them” kind of moment.

3. Not Sleep

Yes, kids like to stay up and wake you at all times. Some are worse than others, but that’s not always why we’re tired as parents. Sometimes you wake up early to get some work done or go to bed late to watch something without having to name each jelly bean’s colour and flavour.

2. Cringe

This is doubly dangerous. Everyone knows kids love to repeat things. One “What the Heck” and they’ll be chanting it for weeks. We went to a party where one of the adults peppered their speech with the F word in the way that I like to spread peanut butter. Keladry walked around for three days chanting “Fok fok fok”.

What people rarely tell you is that it works both ways. They’ll use a turn of phrase or tone and you’ll suddenly be saying, “Oh, yes!” to the waiter. I’ve been told it only gets worse.

1. Secret Snack

There you are with a warm ball of energy on your lap and you’ll want a cookie. You can share your favourite cookie or you can sneak one the next time they leave the room. It’s not just that you don’t want to share, it’s probably not good for them, it’s messy, and gosh darn it they’ve had enough sweets.

My cookie!…


Did I miss anything?

Éric

Top 5 Differences between a baby during pregnancy and after being born.

Hello Baby loving folks,

The way we treat babies inside is slightly different than outside. Here’s a list of the top five differences according to my observations.

5. Input and Output

Oh the joy of not caring when or how a baby eats or poops. While pregnant no one really thinks about it much except for how cool/weird a process it is. But once the baby’s out EVERYONE tells you how to do it and how you’re doing it wrong.

4. Kicking

Sometime soon after birth kicking goes from a joyful, “OMG” moment to an annoyance and eventually a real pain. Tiny toes and fists hurt.

3. Control to Judgement

When the birthing parent is pregnant there are laws, rules, and pressures to make them do specific things. In most cases, it’s to protect the baby. Unfortunately, sometimes they prioritize the baby over the birthing parent instead of protecting both.

However, once the baby is out, the health and mental health of all parents is often ignored or considered secondary to the baby. Resources that would be available before disappear and the laws change completely.

2. Abstract to Concrete

The ultrasound, the kicking, the heartbeat, and even (for some) the growing of the baby is all sort of unreal and abstract. You’re afraid to believe and it all seems like a big prank.

Then the baby arrives and you have a baby… Like it’s there and it needs you to do stuff. Where are this kids parents? Wait, that’s us… And you now that you believe, you’re afraid. It eventually settles back to real from surreal, but it’s always a little bit of a shock.

1. Love

The thing that’s growing has your affection, a deep feeling of attachment, and terror. It’s completely impossibly there. But you don’t Love it yet.

Then it comes out and your heart melts at this tiny, wrinkled, screeching, proof that you don’t know what you’re doing. And sometime between holding them and going home you realize you’d die or kill for them. But you don’t Love them yet.

I’m not sure the exact moment it happens, but sometime after the birth and before the first year, they smile, or wiggle, or something else and you suddenly feel like squishing them or howling in joy, and just like that you love them.


Did I miss anything? What do you think?

Éric

Top 5 Unprofessional Habits When Dealing with a Freelancer or Small Business

Hello!

Being polite might seem like an inconvenience, but it goes a long way towards being seen as professional.

As an author, freelancer, or small business, you are your brand. How you treat others reflects on you, your service, or your product.

When you treat others rudely, you show a lack of respect and it can be quite hurtful. Some also hold grudges.

This image of a person with a trashcan for a head made me laugh. Artist Jono Doiron http://www.jonodoiron.com/

5. Talking Trash

This should be the most obvious. If you didn’t like the service or product you should let the person know first.

I’m obviously not against airing my disappointment with a brand online or in person, but there’s a difference between not being happy and being treated badly.

Not being happy with something you paid for is unfortunate but something that needs to be negotiated with the provider first.

4. Negative Negotiation

I have been told, “Your stuff is good for someone who doesn’t do it professionally” as a lead up to asking me to lower my prices. I let the client know that after twenty years of experience in being paid to do layout, I’d consider myself a professional. (Yes, my first paid projects were when I was 15-16.)

It’s a common technique to compare products or say things like, “My cousin could do this for free” or “I can do it myself” in order to try and get a discount.

Stop doing it. If you want a professional then they will cost.

That being said there are plenty of other ways to negotiate. For example, if I do more than one job for a product I’ll give a discount. (Eg. Ebook =150; Print = 150; but Print + Ebook is 250)

3. Being Antagonistic

Things happen during a project. Things could not be clear and something isn’t what you wanted. Talk to the person and work it through. Don’t be snarky, most likely they didn’t do it on purpose. A type or misalignment or wrong flavour, etc… Just talk to them and they’ll fix it.

2. Not saying Thank You

There’s no need to send a gift basket or anything grand. Just a small email saying thank you for your work. That’s classy and makes everyone happy.

1. Ghosting

In the past I’ve worked on a project for a client, then they asked me to clear time or give a quote for further related projects. I waited and never heard back from them. Then I saw on social media that they’d gone with someone else.

I don’t care that they went with someone else, but it would have been nice for them to let me know. I could have supplied the source files for the first project and I would have wished them luck. Since they switched after the first in a series of projects, without telling me, it shows a great lack of professional respect.

If you ask for a quote and decide to go in another direction, let the person know. Or let them know you’re asking others for quotes in the first email.

Any of these things can be rude, thoughtless, or just annoying. They are all unprofessional and in some cases will make a Freelancer or Small Business not work with you in the future.


Is there anything I missed? What do you think?

Éric

10 Lessons in parenting using Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy quotes

juki_towel_day_towel_2017

10. Listen to your parents

“You know,” said Arthur, “it’s at times like this, when I’m trapped in a Vogon airlock with a man from Betelgeuse, and about to die of asphyxiation in deep space that I really wish I’d listened to what my mother told me when I was young.”
“Why, what did she tell you?”
“I don’t know, I didn’t listen.”

Things change, every day new studies and new recommendations come out. That being said, your parents, or in-laws, have years of experience dealing with exactly what you’re going through.

They are an extremely useful source of information.

I dearly wish I had listened to my Mom when she told me about what I was like as a baby.

9. Nursing blankets and hand towels are essential

“A towel, [The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy] says, is about the most massively useful thing an interstellar hitchhiker can have. Partly it has great practical value. You can wrap it around you for warmth as you bound across the cold moons of Jaglan Beta; you can lie on it on the brilliant marble-sanded beaches of Santraginus V, inhaling the heady sea vapors; you can sleep under it beneath the stars which shine so redly on the desert world of Kakrafoon; use it to sail a miniraft down the slow heavy River Moth; wet it for use in hand-to-hand-combat; wrap it round your head to ward off noxious fumes or avoid the gaze of the Ravenous Bugblatter Beast of Traal (such a mind-boggingly stupid animal, it assumes that if you can’t see it, it can’t see you); you can wave your towel in emergencies as a distress signal, and of course dry yourself off with it if it still seems to be clean enough.”

This sounds silly but always carry your towel.

Babies will spit-up, puke, drool, snot, and all kinds of other things. Having something to wipe it off is extremely useful.

You can also use the nursing blanket as a fort, to swaddle, and many other things.

8. Everything takes longer with a baby

“Time is an illusion. Lunchtime doubly so.”

A forty five minute TV show can take an hour and a half to watch. Getting ready to leave is an exercise in planning and strategy that is far beyond what you expect.

Always give yourself a lot of extra time.

7. Babies have no survival instinct but they bounce

“There is an art, it says, or rather, a knack to flying. The knack lies in learning how to throw yourself at the ground and miss.”

The combination of no survival instinct, curiosity, and lack of motor control means children are always trying to fly. They wriggle a lot… A LOT!

Inevitably the baby will try and fly but still hit the ground. In those cases if you are worried, go to the hospital. However if you’re not too worried, watch for weirder behaviour and make sure their pupils are both the same size. If they cry, it’s a good thing. A lack of crying from a fall is not a good thing.

6. No matter how often you tell them something it will feel like they are ignoring you

“For a moment, nothing happened. Then, after a second or so, nothing continued to happen.”

Everyone will tell you that raising kids goes quickly and that you need to cherish it. They’re right, but as you’re experiencing it, it can seem tediously slow.

Certain activities seem impossibly slow. Teaching what the word No means, teaching survival, and teaching them to sleep are all activities can that take FOREVER.

5. That shell shocked parental look

“He was staring at the instruments with the air of one who is trying to convert Fahrenheit to Centigrade in his head while his house is burning down.”

Babies are weird weird creatures. They will do the strangest things and every parent will recognize the look of bafflement and confusion that comes with parenting.

My daughter will always try and hide behind someone and eventually pull their hair.

4. No one knows what they’re doing

“This must be Thursday,” said Arthur to himself, sinking low over his beer. “I never could get the hang of Thursdays.”

As mentioned, children are weird, they have no survival instinct, and they spew multiple different bodily fluids.

Even with help and lots of information, raising children is as baffling as it is entertaining. Don’t worry though, no one really knows what they’re doing.

3. The moment you learn the rules, they’ll change

“There is a theory which states that if ever anyone discovers exactly what the Universe is for and why it is here, it will instantly disappear and be replaced by something even more bizarre and inexplicable. There is another theory which states that this has already happened.”

You’ve found out how to get your child to stop biting the furniture. Congratulations! Get ready, for everything will change. It will.

Babies are growing and developing so fast that by the time that your ancient brain has caught up, the baby has already moved on.

2. Do your thing

“I’d far rather be happy than right any day.”

Spend ten minutes searching online or asking strangers about anything to do with babies and you’ll realize that there’s opposing opinions on absolutely everything.

Not only are there lots of opinions, but people will angrily defend their position and judge you.

Do what you think is best and what your child’s doctor recommends. Otherwise, you will spend all your time and energy panicking.

Once you accept that whatever you do is wrong, you’ll be much happier.

1. It’ll be okay. I promise!

“Mostly Harmless” / “Don’t Panic”

There are two things that you should always remember about parenting:

First, babies are not being mean on purpose. They have no idea what they are doing. Be patient, it’s your job to teach them.

Finally, try not to panic. Parenting is stressful, hard, wonderful, and highly entertaining, but try not to burn yourself out with worry.

 

Goodbye and thanks for all the fish (or comments),

Éric

Éric’s 5 Rules of Customer Service

I had a particularly bad experience this past week with a company that obviously didn’t care about their customers.

I’ve worked in customer service in one way or another since I was sixteen and nothing pisses me off more than bad customer service. My current jobs are all about customer service. A repeat customer is essential to building a small business or even, as an author, a readership.

Meet-the-Headhunter-Brandon-Young1

5. Don’t complain about customers to other customers

If you can’t be trusted to not badmouth your customers, than there’s no reason for your customers to trust you. It has nothing to do with the person your badmouthing and everything to do with the trust you will lose from the customer you’re complaining to.

4. It’s okay to make mistakes / Never blame the customer

If you made a mistake, people will understand that you’re not a machine. Just apologize and if warranted make amends. Make sure you don’t make the same mistake twice and above all else, NEVER blame the customer.

3. Treat everyone equally

This shouldn’t be an issue anymore but for some reason racism, sexism, ageism, and classism all seem to still influence our perspective on clients. Don’t judge someone based on what they look like, it’s stupid. Keep an open mind and treat all clients like they are important.

2. A customer wants to feel important

When I walk into a store or go online etc. I want to feel like someone cares if I buy something. That could be a small thing like someone asking if I need help. When you’re dealing with a customer make them feel like they’re important and they’ll want to buy something.

1. Fulfill your promise

When you work in customer service you are making a promise to do what you say you do. If you work retail, you should know what you’re selling. If you are offering a service, you complete that service.

This is more than just the product and the pitch, you have to do all the fiddly bits right too. If you make an appointment, be there on time. If you say you’ll do something, do it.

You could have the greatest product in the world, but if you act incompetently it will reflect poorly on you and your product.


If you liked this list, you should read Éric’s 5 Rules for Being Professional

Things Nobody Tells You About Babies – Sounds

Everyone talks about the screams and eventual giggles from babies. Sometimes they’ll mention cooing noises etc., but no one mentions all the weird and creepy noises that they make on a near constant basis.

These are, of course, only a few of the weird sounds Baby Dragon has made.

img_20161004_143940small

1. Puppy Pant

Like an over excited puppy, she suddenly starts to pant when she knows she’s going to be fed. It’s adorable and kind of makes us wonder if we got a puppy instead of a baby.

It’s sometimes paired with a whine or whimper that is a lot like a new puppy.

2. Growling

She doesn’t just do a small growl but a guttural near feral growl that can be a little intimidating.

She does this when she’s falling asleep or fighting sleep. Maybe she’s taking her nickname too seriously.

3. Happy Printer

While feeding, she makes a high pitched contented whirring noise that is reminiscent of an old printer. The kind that had holes on either side of the paper.

4. Demon Summoning

Late at night as we’re about to fall asleep, her growling turns into a weird chant like noise. I keep expecting to hear the word Chuthulu in there somewhere.

5. Impossible noises

When she feels like it she’ll make noises that should be physically impossible for a human voice. Some of these include:

  • A deflating balloon
  • A tropical bird
  • Kitten meowls
  • Creaking door

Everyday she seems to add a few new sounds… It’s fascinating and a little scary.

 

Later Days,

Éric