A humble car may still be expensive June 2 2023

Getting a good deal on a car may not be as easy as you might first think. Take the Honda Civic (photo), Canada’s best-selling car for almost a quarter century. It may look humble, good on gas and therefore good for the wallet. But, according to the Équité Association, it’s also the most stolen car in Canada. That “can push up insurance prices on what might otherwise be an affordable car.” Fuel charges must also be considered. Purchasing a hybrid or EV can “drastically” bring costs down, says RatesDotCa, which surveys insurance rates. “It's important to do your research when buying a car," Daniel Ivans, the agency’s insurance expert, says. "Some of the risk factors that affect insurance premiums are based on the make and model of the vehicle in addition to a consumer's driving history. For example, how likely the vehicle is to be stolen, how easy the car parts are to replace, and the overall value of the vehicle." RatesDotCa ranks cars according to the most and least affordable to insure. For gas-powered, the most expensive was the 2022 Lamborghini Aventador LP 780 Ultimate 2DR AWD with annual fuel costing $3,118 and insurance $379.08/month. The least expensive was the 2021 Jeep Gladiator Sport 4DR 4WD, at $168.50/month and fuel at $1,550. The most expensive hybrid vehicle was the 2023 Hyundai Sonata Ultimate Hybrid 4DR - $251.92/month and $625 for fuel. The least expensive for insurance was the 2023 Ford Maverick XLT Hybrid SuperCrew 2WD - $161.50/month and fuel priced at $800. For EVs, the priciest was the 2023 Tesla Model X Plaid 4dr - $291.50/month and est. charging cost $345. The most economical was the 2018 Kia Soul EV 5dr - $171.25/month and charging only $290.

Local auto insurance rates up 17% May 17 2023

Motorists in Windsor and much of Essex County are paying 17 per cent more in auto insurance this year. RATESDOTCA reports that the average premium in the Rose City is now $1743. That’s an increase $252 over the last quarter of 2021, a year and a half ago. That’s five per cent more than the provincial average which happens to be one dollar more - $1744. The data is reported in RATESDOTCA's Auto Insuramap, an online tool that measures average premiums in postal codes across the province. County municipalities like Amherstburg, Comber, LaSalle, Pelee Island and Essex also saw an increase of 17%, with average premiums now $1,616, or $233 more than Q4 2021. The company says the rise is due to “pre-pandemic driving habits”, telltale inflation, and post-pandemic lingering supply chain problems. Those factors have forced auto insurers to apply for the substantial increases from the provincially-controlled Financial Services Regulatory Authority (FSRA). "Insurance companies are still catching up," says Daniel Ivans, RATESDOTCA’s insurance expert. "Just because they were allowed to increase doesn't mean it's enough to take care of their losses from the last few years. There's some fine-tuning to come." Brampton has the highest rates at $2707 (up 37 per cent) and York region in the GTA dominated with 11 municipalities. Toronto’s average is $2235. Hawkesbury Ontario east of Ottawa had a rate of $1307 and a residential street in Sarnia had $1481. Want to live some place with cheaper rates? RATESDOTCA says you’ll find them in towns with populations of 10,000 or less.

We still like real meat but ... May 3 2023

We still like eating meat. That’s the more than obvious conclusion from a survey asking Canadians if they prefer meat proteins to their plant counterparts. 49.2 per cent opted for animal proteins, only 12.3 chose plant proteins and 28.1 chose mixed. And for those who choose plant-based proteins the motivating factors are health (30.7 per cent) and environmental benefits (12.1); personal preference only counted for 12.6 per cent. Meanwhile, 33.8 per cent said plant-based foods taste good while 39.8 per cent said they offer nutritional value. But price and availability remain barriers. Only 22.3 per cent said plant proteins are affordable and 49 per cent said they can be hard to find at grocers. Provincially, when asked if they’d consumed a plant-based meat alterative in the past 12 months Ontarians were second highest at 34 per cent and Manitoba lowest at 22 per cent. Survey sponsor Dr. Sylvain Charlebois of Dalhousie University’s Agri-Food Analytics Lab, said the numbers actually show that those who prefer plant-based products are “much higher than expected.” But the market remains “a work in progress” with price the biggest hurdle. It appears more people are willing to buy meat alternatives if conditions are right. Almost 40 per cent would buy in the next six months. While only 29.0 percent of respondents would buy plant-based alternatives if made more sustainably, 48.2 percent of respondents believe the quality of plant-based alternatives is improving. “The fact that almost half of Canadians believe plant-based products are improving is interesting”, said Janet Music, Research Associate at the Agri-Food Analytics Lab at Dalhousie University. “Canadians are clearly engaged and will continue to seek alternatives.”

Bakery’s move to Erie St. was “a whole different world” for the better April 19 2023

Moving just a quarter mile from Wyandotte St. to Erie St. E. was the “best move” Faisal Nizam has ever made in his 15-year-old Windsor Middle Eastern pastry business. The company, which had two locations on Wyandotte East over the years, upped and moved into a vacant but newish building at 460 Erie St. at the corner of Highland Ave. last July. It’s been like day and night, Nizam says. On Wyandotte, it was increasingly difficult to do business because of the number of homeless people and robberies. “I was having a lot of break-ins, it was just chaos,” he says. “It’s getting worse and worse and the city is not doing anything about it.” But on Erie St., home of Via Italia and Windsor’s legendary Italian business district, it’s a “whole different world.” Nizam says the neighbourhood is kept much cleaner – “better than the whole city of Windsor.” Moving there “is probably the best move I ever made in my life,” he says. The spanking new store is spacious with counters full of colourful pastries. Open seven days a week 10 am – 8 pm the bakery also has seating for 24 and Nizam hopes to have an outdoor patio this summer. And with a new neighbourhhod comes more and newer clientele. “I’ve built an Italian clientele,” he says. “They love my store.” Nizam sells pastries from lots of cultures. Did you know different countries have different types of baklava? Nizam has them. He serves Lebanese and Canadian ice cream. “We make espressos and cappuccinos.” Nizam commutes daily from his home in Dearborn, where dad Ali opened the family business, same name, back in the early 1990s. Most pastries are made in Dearborn but some in Windsor. Nizam expects to purchase the store after he gets his Canadian permanent residency likely next winter. Meanwhile he personally undertook massive renos to the building’s interior – at a “pretty penny” – based on the fact he’ll eventually own the property.

Amazon Fresh coming to Mich? Maybe April 4 2023

There’s Amazon, Amazon Prime and coming presumably soon to Michigan, Amazon Fresh, Amazon’s entry into the grocery market. Amazon introduced the bricks and mortar store concept in August 2020 and there are now multiple stores in various US states. The closest are in Illinois and Pennsylvania. Besides offering a range of grocery items typically found in other supermarkets but with low prices and "regional favourites", Amazon has upped the game by eliminating check outs through its app. Customers put groceries in the cart, use a QR code, shop and exit through the Amazon Dash Cart (photo) lane that automatically completes payment. As well they can do shopping more efficiently through Alexa or the Dash Cart. A customer can just ask where the hot sauce is, for example, and be directed to the correct shelf. The Detroit News this week found that while Amazon has built or converted several buildings in southeast Michigan that will house Amazon Fresh they remain unopened nor even publically signed. “Despite all the plans, the hype and the active construction sites, it’s a secret when any of the Amazon Fresh stores slated for Metro Detroit actually will open,” the newspaper says. “And the retail giant isn’t saying.” Part of the reason is that Amazon may be retooling the concept because of initial lackluster response. “They were OK stores, but they were not compelling enough to urge the consumer to change their shopping patterns,” Lou Scudere, principal for Riverbend Retail Consulting, said. David Bishop with Brick Meets Click, said the company’s problems, “reflect an adage that it excels at bits but stumbles with atoms, highlighting the differences when selling digitally online compared to physically instore.” Confirmed or presumed Detroit area locations include Dearborn, Madison Heights, St. Clair Shores and Rochester Hills.

Photo: Amazon

Apparel for your inner Detroiter March 22 2023

Windsor-Essex County residents have long loved to wear Michigan branded clothing, especially the blue and maize of the University of Michigan. And our partiality to Detroit may mean we’re also interested in sartorial wear that touts the Motor City. Over the years there have been several product lines such as Pure Detroit and Made in Detroit. Now there’s Born in Detroit, which seems to have had the greatest merchandising success. And, perhaps speaking to Windsorites’ hearts, the brand’s co-owners say, “You do not need to be born in Detroit to be a proud "Detroiter", and you can wear Born in Detroit and showcase to the world how much this city means to you.” Born in Detroit merchandise, from T-shirts to cross body bags to ball caps, has announced that their apparel line is now available at an additional 22 Meijer locations throughout metro Detroit, making it even easier for a Canuck to pick up Detroit-themed clothing when across the river shopping, attending sports or visiting with friends or family. The brand started in 2202 by two sets of brothers, “with the mission of showcasing the pride of Detroiters near and far, and to establish a brand partner to champion the city and surrounding communities.” The brothers “have a fierce gritty work ethic that overflows with pride for all things Detroit.” Born in Detroit was created “to honor that pride that Detroit is more than a city, it is that feeling of pride, hard work and perseverance.”

Car insurance lowest after 35 years driving, and then it goes up again March 7 2023

Windsor didn’t make the list although we have traditionally been known for our high auto premiums. But Kitchener, the next closest city, did, and the yearly insurance premium there is $2478. Yet that pales in comparison to Alberta cities where drivers in Calgary pay $3,182 and Edmonton $3,150. And drivers in Halifax, perhaps surprisingly, pay the third highest in the country, $2,490. Hellosafe, a website that compares insurance rates, didn’t provide answers as to why the differences for data released last October. Ontario’s median price was $2,299. The provinces with the lowest medians were Manitoba ($1,373) and Saskatchewan ($1,249). (Quebec wasn’t included in the survey.) The lower rates were in provinces with public insurance systems (versus private). The lowest premium of any profiled driver was $383 – a female driver in The Pas Manitoba, 51 years old, employed and licensed for 35 years. The highest was $6,828 for a male driver in St. John’s, Nfld., 18 years old, student with stage 2 learning permit. That’s 4.8 times more “than 25 years licensed drivers.” The average for a stage 2 driver is $3,662 while one with 35 years is $768 for the same coverage. The survey analyzed drivers commuting 20 km or less per day and driving 30,000 km or less per year, have no accident record or recent major conviction or claim. As well, male drivers pay 4.1 per cent more in premiums than female drivers. One other thing: until 35 years the more drivers are licensed the less they pay. But after 35 years premiums start to grow again “because of drivers getting older.”

Pasta the ugly duckling of nutrition? Not so, says industry association February 21 2023

Take it with a spoonful of salt, or olive oil – you know, when you’re cooking the stuff. But an industry association says pasta is a lot better for you than current myths would suggest. “Despite the bad rap it's given, pasta is full of nutritional value,” Itala Pasta (the Canadian Pasta Manufacturing Assoc.) says. Citing nutritionists “In fact, it is one of the building blocks of a healthy diet.” And, during soaring inflation, it’s “wallet-friendly.” The association debunks some myths. Eating pasta will make me gain weight – Pasta is not fattening; one cup contains less than 200 calories with only about one gram of fat. “Pasta is a wholesome, low sodium food that can fit right in with your weight loss plan.” Pasta alone has no nutritional value – “Quite the opposite.” Pasta is a great source of carbohydrates, iron, several B vitamins and fibre. Gluten-free pasta is healthier – Some may eat gluten-free pasta due to an intolerance or disease. “But this doesn't mean you have to follow suit. If you don't need to, there is no real benefit from eating gluten-free pasta.” Pasta contains GMO wheat – GMOs come from genetic modification process. But pasta is made straight from wheat and “there is no genetically modified wheat in Canada.” Pasta will give you a sugar crash – Unlike other grains pasta has no added fat or sugar and therefore a low glycemic index, “meaning you won't get that post-meal crash.”

First downtown offices, now Windsor Star printing plant being closed January 31 2023

First The Windsor Star eliminated its once much heralded new downtown offices. But there was still the suburban printing plant, appropriately enough, at 3000 Starway Ave., off Temple Dr. between Walker Rd. and Central Ave. Now parent Postmedia is eliminating that. Star union Unifor says the closure will result in the loss of more than 75 jobs. The Star will be printed in the GTA with copies shipped to Windsor. A union news conference is set for this morning. The decision comes at the same time that Torstar Corp., which prints the Toronto Star, announced the shift to printing two dailies and almost 50 community newspapers to Transcontinental Inc. It will close its remaining printing plant. The Star itself is printed by Transcontinental. In Windsor the Starway plant was built in the 1990s after the Star stopped printing its editions at its legendary downtown building at 167 Ferry St., remade into a downtown campus for the University of Windsor. The Star with much fanfare announced its move to the former Palace theatres on Ouellette in a bid to show commitment to downtown Windsor’s revival. But the Star closed the offices during Covid and staff work from home. “Toronto-based Postmedia has chosen to move more than 75 jobs out of Windsor to save a few bucks, regardless of the hardship it will create for so many families, and the economic blow to the community. We urge them to reconsider and look at options to keep the jobs in Windsor,” CWA Canada President Martin O’Hanlon said. According to Unifor while printing will take place in Toronto, inserts will be processed in London. Julie Kotsis, Unifor Media Council Chair and a Star reporter, noted the Star’s community roots go back 135 years. “This is a huge loss for the affected workers and their families, to the community who will access far less local news and to democracy,” she said. Affected job titles include building maintenance, crew leader, electrician, engraver, load dock helper, millwright, press operator and press operator apprentice. But the union expects more job cuts to come – this time in editorial. According to The Globe and Mail Postmedia has told staff 11 per cent of its 650 editorial staffers would be let go.

Photo: Google Street View

Yes, they're open. Shanfields-Meyers a legendary survivor of DT core retail December 12 2022

One of downtown’s oldest retailers, Shanfields-Meyers, remains open for in-person sales but up to 90 per cent of its business has gone online. Owner Joan Shanfield attributes its survival to the fact the venerable jewellery, flatware and china store, with its legendary tens of thousands of items of inventory, owns the building. That’s as opposed to other downtown retailers that have come and gone because they have leased their spaces and couldn’t sustain sales to pay the rent. “It’s a big warehouse,” she says of the actual five interconnected buildings, noting that the space remains viable because staff are mainly “packing and shipping” in response to online or phone orders, within it. The business, open 85 years, altered its hours several years ago from Monday to Friday 9 am – 6 pm to Monday to Thursday 10 am – 5 pm. Signs on the door direct passersby how to order when the store is closed. “We’ve never closed,” Shanfield said. “We’ve been open the whole time, it’s just now we have limited hours because most of our business is packing and shipping. And whatever we need to pack and ship we can do that within four days.” Shanfield said the reduced hours reflect the fact the “whole world has changed - when we first opened everything was off the street.” When her grandparents ran the store it was open every day. “They had 100 employees that they had on call. They had probably 50 or 60 employees in the store at any one time, 10 employees for each building.” Shanfields has always had a unique niche known far beyond Windsor offering highly discounted prices on name merchandise from around the world because of its volume purchasing power.

Enbridge applying for rate hike on top of quarterly market adjustments Nov. 28 2022

Enbridge Gas Inc. is applying to the Ontario Energy Board (OEB) for a rate increase which would see household annual gas bills in the former "Union South" area - SW Ont up to the GTA - by $91 or eight per cent annually and $1320 for businesses. The increase would take effect January 2024. Enbridge spokeswoman Andrea Stass called this "rebasing" increase "fair and reasonable" to recover distribution, transmission and storage. However, the standard quarterly rate adjustments "to reflect changes in market price" would still take place. The application comes in wake of recent quarterly adjustments of five - 10 per cent on Oct. 1 and 18-23 per cent in July. Some homeowners will likely be paying $500 more this year. Stass says the application is aimed at "delivering value" to customers through affordability, reliability, reducing environmental impact and simplification and harmonization of rates and services. Stass says the integration of former Union Gas and Enbridge in 2019 delivered "significant benefits" to consumers. "Combined with productivity savings, customers will benefit from more than $120 million in sustained annual savings," she said. The application also "includes prudent long-term capital investment plans to ensure continued safe, reliable, cost-effective operations while also minimizing environmental impacts." Of those, it includes the first Energy Transition Plan to balance conventional gas with long term goals to include "low- and zero-carbon energy such as RNG (biogas - organic matter decomposition) and hydrogen.

Two Frankenmuth Mich. matriarchs die within three days of each other Nov. 14 2022

Two Frankenmuth matriarchs have died within days of each other. Irene Bronner, the businesswoman behind “the world’s largest Christmas store,” Bronner’s, died last month at the age of 95. She was married to Wally Bronner who founded Bronner’s Christmas Wonderland in 1945. The store’s footprint is 27 acres. It sells more than 6,000 styles of ornaments, half of the glass ornaments being Bronner's exclusive designs. The store is open 361 days a year. Bronner served on the company’s board of directors but prior to that was a public school teacher. Three days after her death Judy Zehnder Keller, who founded and was president of the nearby Bavarian Inn Lodge, died at age 77 in the Michigan town. She began working in the family restaurant, the Bavarian Inn, in 1960. She then founded the Bavarian Inn Lodge in 1986, which eventually became one of Michigan’s largest indoor water park hotels. Keller also owned the Frankenmuth Cheese Haus. She graduated from Frankenmuth High School in 1963 and obtained a degree in hotel and restaurant management from Michigan State University. Keller was described as a “long time entrepreneur, community leader, women’s advocate, working mother, wife and grandmother.” She often said she “fries chicken and makes beds for a living.” Frankenmuth has long been one of Canadians most popular Michigan destinations, not least during the Christmas season like now.

Winery route puts business on map October 14 2022

A gift shop and ice cream parlour has popped up along the county’s wine route, an example of how businesses other than wineries are benefitting from the increasingly busy tourist trail in the Harrow and Essex areas. It’s Priscilla’s Presents, at 1195 Iler Rd., between County Roads 50 and 20 and immediately south of Cooper’s Hawk winery. The business began in 2017 in the town of Harrow itself but then moved in 2020 to the present location, part of a family farm and a barn converted into the store and ice cream parlor. “It was a barn and then we added to the barn,” says owner Tracey Cipkar. “It’s been in my husband’s family for years.” The store seeks to be a “destination” for customers wanting an old-fashioned retail experience. “We’re into nostalgia and to promote family times and memories,” she says. “When I was growing up my family used to go to small towns. And when you bought something it was always family memories - not just what you bought, it was the whole experience.” The store sells general merchandise. “We have baby items, women’s fashions, we have items for men, a lot of gift items, jewelry, bath – a little bit of everything." All merchandise is new though the owner is thinking of creating a vintage section. For the moment she's making a point of selling items that usually can’t be found elsewhere. “If I find out a store has an item I tend to not buy it, I want to be different.” The Here’s the Scoop Ice Cream Parlour adds another dimension. It also goes back to nostalgia, when Cipkar’s dad took her out Sundays for ice cream. It operates April till October. What about the Priscilla name? That’s the name of Cipkar’s niece who died in 2014. “I always wanted to open a store with her – I'd worked with the school board for 25 years – and then she passed away and you know what, life’s too short, so I named the store," she said. "And ‘presents’ means you can buy gifts at the store but it also means her presence to me." Far from being more isolated than when the business was in downtown Harrow, Priscilla's Presents attracts more customers on the rural Iler Rd., with agricultural fields surrounding. “I’m busier than I was in town because that’s the winery route,” Cipkar said. “I get a lot of tourism which I never would have got if I were in town.” And being “a minute’s drive” of Cooper’s Hawk winery the two businesses do cross promotions.

Finally, a song for Thanksgiving Sept. 28 2022

You know what’s missing from Thanksgiving? A Thanksgiving song. Not anymore. Canadian jazz crooner Alex Bird has recorded one just in time for the crisp fall holiday. “The Sweetest Moments” – with an accompanying video – shows off the best of the fall season and holiday gatherings. “A really good holiday tune puts you right in the mood,” says Bird, wo earned his first Juno in 2022. “It’s been a long time coming, we’ve all been missing something,” says the lyrics. “It happens every fall, the sweetest moments of them all.” Bird teamed up with the Turkey Farmers of Canada to produce the song that celebrates Thanksgiving, this year on October 10. “When we set out to write a Thanksgiving song, we thought about the sounds, the sights, the smells, the faces, the turkey and really tried to encapsulate that in a tune,” Bird says. The song is also featured in a 30-second ad which began airing this week. “We’re thankful for the opportunity to support incredible Canadian talent and hope the song becomes a Thanksgiving classic,” Darren Ference, chair of the Turkey Farmers of Canada says. Bird is a crooner in the traditional sense with a soft swinging voice. A full-length video on the making of the song is also available on YouTube: ‘Think Turkey Presents The Sweetest Moments.’

Post office getting into loan business Sept. 14 2022

Canada Post is extending to Ontario its new MyMoney Loan service. The post office teamed with TD Bank first in Nova Scotia for a pilot project and is now extending the service to Ontario. But while the bank-type service might strike consumers as odd that a post office is offering it, Canada Post says it has long provided financial services such as MoneyGram, money orders and prepaid reloadable cards. The post office appears to be making the new service as user-friendly as possible. Customers can use an online calculator to determine their exact financial needs with loans starting at $1000. The post office says these “flexible” loans “can help with” items like debt consolidation, emergency home or car repairs “or other sudden life events.” And when a customer enters a post office building staff can help them apply either online or through a toll-free number. Meanwhile the TD bank "will support customers through the application, decisioning and funding process, and customers will have access to customer support including financial literacy resources and online banking.” Besides the TD bank the post office’s longtime employee union, the Canadian Union of Postal Workers (CUPW) is on board having its members aid customers. While relatively new to this country post offices around the world have long offered an array of financial services. And there has been a campaign to increase what’s known as “postal banking.” According to the Universal Postal Union, this makes post offices the “second largest contributor to financial inclusion worldwide,” immediately behind commercial banks. “Financial inclusion” means expanding banking services to people who have otherwise been excluded such as immigrants. In some countries, the ways the service works is either the post office rents space to third-party operators or retails under its own banking license.

More than $1 million to partially replace the city's hi tech devices August 30 2022

The City of Windsor must have one of the largest computer accounts in the region. It has 2071 computing devices, according to a report. The city replaces its laptops every 3.9 years. Desktops stay around longer at 4.25 years and monitors have a lifespan of 5.5 years. Last year the city replaced 122 desktops, 141 laptops and 123 monitors. The 263 desktops and laptops represent 13 per cent of the city’s inventory. On average, 19 per cent of the inventory is replaced yearly. But there was less replacement last year “due to the pandemic and the shortage of available equipment.” The city provides networking to more than 70 facilities. Meanwhile, the city’s servers and storage equipment provide applications and services to some 2,100 computer users within its offices and shops. This is in addition to web services provided residents such as the city’s website, tax enquiries, online payments, registrations, licensing, poll locators and property inquiries. “Server and storage virtualization have allowed the City to make more efficient use of hardware,” the report says. The city has 232 servers with 190 being virtual. In 2002 the city switched from leasing equipment to a pay-as-you-go plan as it did for other assets like vehicles and radios. How much did last year’s replacements cost? Just slightly over $1 million. If you think this is too quick a replacement rate think again. The report says these “low replacement rates” are a “good indication” the switch from leasing has paid off.

Portable BBQs on the way out overseas but not here in Canada July 28 2022

While retailers in Britain have begun scrapping the sale of portable barbecues these reportedly highly dangerous products are still widely for sale in Canada with seemingly little concern, as an internet search found. Not so overseas. Earlier this year the British Waitrose grocery chain said the grills pose an outdoor risk. “Disposable barbecues present a risk to our natural habitats and this is why we’ve committed to removing them from our shelves this year,” a spokeswoman said. Aldi supermarkets also pulled them. “As an alternative, we would encourage customers to opt for more environmentally friendly and sustainable options such as mini portable barbecues, ensuring they are used responsibly,” said a rep. A government official welcomed these moves saying it “helps people act more responsibly while enjoying the countryside and encourage everyone to follow the countryside code when spending time outdoors. This includes only using barbecues in places where signs specify, and are permitted, to better protect people, property and wildlife”. Writing in the Daily Mail Ross Clark points to wildfires and other surprising personal injuries. Fire crews discovered 11 disposable BBQs after a 470-acre wildfire in Dorset and “it is highly likely that at least one of them set off the conflagration.” The problem is that most users don’t understand how the BBQs retain heat. A homeowner in Essex left one on his wooden deck yet the residual heat “managed to spark a fire which destroyed the home.” Even after they’ve been disposed of the portables, made of tin foil and wire mesh containing charcoal, can cause severe harm. There have been occasions where people have stepped on sand where the Q’s had been used. “The heat retained by the sand would be enough to burn the feet of nine-year-old Will Tyler when he unknowingly stepped on to the patch where it had been,” Clark writes. And last month a similar event occurred. The devices are also dirty and inconvenient so many people just leave them where they used them. “This exposes unsuspecting people to the risk of stepping on their sharp edges — even after they have eventually cooled.”

Sobeys joins with Cineplex and will eventually axe use of Air Miles card July 14 2022

Sobeys will be phasing out its long-time partnership with Air Miles. Meanwhile it’s joining with Canada’s largest theatre chain, Cineplex, and introduction the Scene+ card. The card is being introduced in Atlantic Canada, Sobeys’ parent Empire Co. home, first. It will be rolled out next year across the rest of the country. Scotiabank is the third partner. The Scene+ card will also be honored at restaurants and retailers like Swiss Chalet, Harveys and Montana’s along with Best Buy and Apple. Sobeys says it wants the card to become “a preeminent loyalty program in Canada.”

Buy local. But why? That’s what one of Canada’s premier food research organizations wanted to find out. Dalhousie University’s Agri-Food Analytics Lab teamed up with Angus Reid to survey Canadians on why they prefer to purchase local food. Eighty-two per cent of Ontarians thought it important to support local. And Canadians generally said the main reason is to bolster farmers. Perhaps a surprise, few Canadians thought local foods are of higher quality, more nutritious, safe or affordable.

A study found that if grocers place health items near check-outs, customers will eat healthier. UK researchers had certain grocers rearrange merchandise so produce was near the entrance. So-called ”unhealthy” foods like candy were removed. “The findings of our study suggest that a healthier store layout could lead to nearly 10,000 extra portions of fruit and vegetables and approximately 1,500 fewer portions of confectionery being sold on a weekly basis in each store,” Southampton University's Christian Vogel says.

Loblaws plans to eliminate all single-use plastic bags at check-out beginning early next year. Canada’s biggest grocery store chain says that since the company started offering reusable bags for a fee, there was a 70 per cent decline in single-use plastic bags.

Events galore at city BIAs this year June 30 2022

From a new alley art gallery downtown to outdoor markets in Sandwich Towne the city’s business improvement districts have a slate of activities scheduled this year. The downtown BIA estimated the $100,000 Art Alley project – primarily funded through a federal grant - will see several new art instllations in the alleyway behind the Pelissier Street parking garage. Also, as in previous years the DWBIA will also host the summer Ouellette Car Cruise and Summer Fest - at a cost of $20,000 and $70,000 respectively – funded through sponsorships and other grants. The BIA will again be holding its ever popular night markets this year. The Sandwich Towne BIA (photo) will repeat its outdoor markets that were held last year. Two special events are being added, the Miracle of Sandwich and Open Streets. The Ottawa Street BIA has a number of smaller events on tap: Win Your Purchase, Win Your Purchase Restaurant Aid and a Sidewalk Sale and Open Street. The Pillette Village BIA has one special event on tap, a Giant Garage Sale. And the Ford City BIA is planning one special event called Dropped on Drouillard, described as Windsor’s "only all-day urban street and culture festival." The Old Riverside Town Centre BIA has a special event planned, Wheels on Wyandotte, in addition to its Christmas promotion. The Via Italia Erie St. BIA will hold two events, Carrousel of the Nations, just passed, and the Tour di Via Italia Bike Races. “A smaller winter event is also planned,” the BIA says in its budget submission to City Council. BIA funding generally comes from neighbourhood business levies and small grants.

Retail still waiting for plastic bag ban June 2 2022

The federal government has indicated it plans to phase out single use plastic bags. But there is still no word on when this will happen. Meanwhile retailers themselves are moving to replace plastic with paper and permanent bags. Michelle Wasylyshen, spokeswoman for the Retail Council of Canada, said the timelines are “a bit unclear.” But, she said, “companies are moving forward.” She said there is not an ”exhaustive list but so far, Sobeys and Walmart have moved away from using plastic shopping bags, and Costco - for as long as I can recall - has never used bags.” Last December the feds announced draft regulations prohibiting single use bags based on consultations launched in 2019. “It is the Government’s intent to finalize these Regulations and bring the ban into force as quickly as possible and as early as late 2022 after reviewing and considering comments received,” the announcement said. It also said it would provide “draft guidance to help businesses adapt” to the ban. The government acknowledged that some bags are recycled but says this amounts to only nine per cent. It added that "the market is already moving forward” with more retailers and restaurants “taking action to avoid single-use plastics.” Municipalities like Toronto have already acted to reduce single-use plastics. The feds say the ban would prevent more than 23,000 tonnes of plastic pollution from entering the environment over 10 years, the equivalent of “one million garbage bags of litter.”

Covid lockdowns gave unintended windfalls to city business districts May 6 2022

The Covid-19 pandemic has provided an unintentional windfall to the city’s nine Business Improvement Areas (BIA). With businesses closed and street traffic at a low ebb some of the projects and promotions the BIAs normally engage in were cancelled or postponed, saving large sums of cash. In budgets submitted to City Council as much as $1,012,278 has been saved by the BIAs over two years. The Downtown Windsor BIA had the largest surplus of $343,996, followed by Wyandotte Town Centre at $197,119 and Olde Sandwich Towne at $134,387. They were followed by Via Italia/Erie Street at $89,663, Walkerville District at $59,041, Ottawa Street at $57,209, Ford City at $50,061, Pillette Village at $47,761 and Olde Riverside Town Centre at $33,041. The surpluses accumulated over the 2019 and 2020 budget years. And likely more money will accumulate. “While the 2021 financial statements have not yet been finalized, due to restrictions imposed on public gatherings and events during 2021, it is anticipated that these reserves will continue to increase,” a city report says. While City Council has to approve the BIA budgets it can’t tell BIAs how to spend their funds, raised through levies on business district members – the neighbourhood businesses. “There are no legislative requirements for City Council to approve expenditures from accumulated reserves leaving discretion to the BIA Boards,” the report says. Janice Guthrie, city deputy treasurer, says the BIAs have “full autonomy” over with their annual levies and how funds are used. The city collects the levies on BIAs' behalf. And BIAs are “are subject to annual audits which serve to validate that expenditures are made in accordance with approved budgets and conform to generally accepted accounting principles.” Guthrie says BIAs are free to use the surplus funds towards future projects, often enhancements like street scaping, banners and promotions. “Many of the BIAs are in the process of determining the appropriate use of the reserves in order to provide added support to their membership as the city moves towards a full reopening,” she said. Asked if BIAs could reduce their levies in wake of the surpluses, Guthrie said that “would not be considered appropriate as it would be a one-time adjustment.”

Back to the office – downtown – also means discovering new businesses April 22 2022

With the pandemic winding down and restrictions being lifted – and plenty of offices in downtown Windsor which have been unoccupied for roughly two years – downtown promoters are touting the large number of new businesses that have opened in the intervening months. They hope that may entice more people to come back to the office, with the understanding working downtown also supports small business and helps build a dynamic city core. “The Downtown Windsor BIA is always ready to welcome workers and visitors to the city centre,” Debi Croucher, executive director of the Downtown Windsor BIA says. “We would love to see more people working back in the core and exploring what’s new since they left.” Croucher says the downtown has had some “great new additions” that people may have missed if they’ve been working from home. “And we look forward to introducing them to the workers.” Over the past year new businesses include 88 Fusion Café, Chatham Street Diner, Dahab Designs, Diva’s Delight, Emerson Supply Co., FA Fred’s Fashions, Grass Roots, Hakka Khazana, Huncho’s Barbershop, KFC, La Vern’s Market, Lowend Co – new, larger location, Royal Paan, Sitara Authentic Cuisine, Taco Bell, The Gifting Tree and a new larger location for the Whiskeyjack Boutique.

Most charging stations will take from 6 to 12 hours to recharge your EV February 28 2022

The new electric vehicle charging program announced for Essex County will likely see the vast majority or all chargers be so-called Level 2 charging stations. These are the stations already funded by the Zero-Emission Vehicle Infrastructure Program for 22 stations in the City of Windsor. These are also the overwhelming number of station types funded under the program. Statistics provided by the program show that in the program’s first round Natural Resources Canada (NRCan) awarded funding for 1,340 Level 2 chargers and 46 DC fast chargers. The program called Charge Up is a joint project with Essex Powerlines. “The way the program works is that businesses/organizations would submit applications with their own ideas as to where they'd like to install chargers on their properties,” Eric Freeze, the program’s coordinator says. Once installed NRCan would distribute funds to the participants. There are three types of chargers and each one provides charging at faster rates than the others. Level 1 is plugging your car into a typical household outlet. According to Business Insider magazine, “Plugged into a 120-volt outlet for an hour, an EV will gain around 3-5 miles of range. Completely topping up a car's battery, which is typically good for anywhere between 150 and 300 miles of range, can take days.” Level 2 utilizes a 240-volt connection like you’d use to charge an appliance or power tool. Level 2 can deliver about 20-30 miles of range per hour. It takes roughly 6-12 hours for a full charge. Then there are the Level 3 or DC fast chargers, where some EVs can replenish 80% battery in a half hour to 45 minutes. “Tesla claims the Model S Plaid can add 200 miles of range in just 15 minutes using one of the company's most powerful Superchargers,” the magazine says. How much will it costs to recharge? Freeze said it depends on how the chargers are used. “Some will be for workplaces and not have any cost charged for their service. Others will be open to public use and may have costs associated with charging however that is left up to the applicants.” Essex Powerlines Corp. is receiving $2 million to install up to 300 stations before September 2023.


Covid shots aside, Canada isn't all that great at vaccinating older people February 10 2022

Covid vaccines aside, older Canadians are under-vaccinated against diseases like influenza, shingles and pneumonia, according to a new “report card” by seniors’ advocacy group CanAge. “The writing is on the wall: improve the way we immunize older Canadians or they will continue to pay with their lives,” says CEO Laura Tamblyn Watts. The report shows that while Canada “is effective at vaccinating children, vaccine uptake in adults is extremely low, putting the vast majority of older adults at risk of severe health outcomes.” In its second annual report card, CanAge found that, among provinces, Ontario dropped to second place as best for administering vaccines. PEI came out on top. That’s due to Ontario’s “shortfalls in public education and limited vaccine accessibility.” One major reason is its refusal to let pharmacies administer vaccines. This at a time “when many older people can't get to their doctor,” Tamblyn Watts says. The report shows Ontario funds both high-dose and adjuvanted (enhanced) formulations of seniors-specific flu shots but hasn't been transparent about the difference to the general public. "We can't afford to shake seniors' confidence in vaccines right now," says Tamblyn Watts. "The Government of Ontario needs to be more clear about what shots people are getting to encourage uptake during the pandemic." Also, Ontario is one of three provinces to fund the shingles vaccine. But it only covers those 65-70 despite experts recommending it should be for all those over 50, who make up 38 per cent of the population.

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AI probably coming to a grocery near you

Artificial Intelligence could be coming to a grocery store near you soon. But Canadians seem ambivalent about the tool both for practical and ethical reasons. Just over 30 per cent “expressed a reluctance” to use AI services while almost an equal number (.5 % less) thought it could be useful. With general fears about AI being weaponized 27 per cent had concers about how it could harm the food supply. But almost 50 per cent had “no clear perspective” on the issue, demonstrating perhaps the fact AI is still in its infancy. Meanwhile, Dalhousie University’s Janet Music said AI could have at least some non-food benefits. "Pressure will be on policy makers and companies to use AI to create more equitable labour practices and better service for consumers." – 25/5/23

How much milk is dumped? Don’t ask

Perhaps you remember the video last winter of a frustrated dairy farmer, forced to dump loads of his farm's milk because the production went over quota. Canada’s supply management system protects the income of 9500 dairy farmers. But how much milk is dumped each year is a mystery, and regulatory boards increasingly aren’t saying. Sylvain Charlebois of Dalhousie University says as much as 300 million litres could go down the drain. But government regulator the Canadian Dairy Commission “could not say” but “ought to know.” And the Dairy Farmers of Ontario, the folks who bring you the annual milk calendar, recently was allowed to no longer disclose the amounts dumped, whereas it did prior to 2022. – 10//5/23

Replacing plastic bags may be worse for environment - activist

Ironically, the elimination of single-use plastic bags might be doing more harm to the environment. That’s because they’re being replaced with a lot of paper bags. “The potential impact to the world’s forests is quite devastating,” non-profit Canopy campaign director Tamara Stark says. “The growing consumption rates that we’re seeing will continue to apply pressure to the world’s intact forests … forests that we actually need to keep standing in order to protect both the diversity of species that depend on them, but also to mitigate against climate change.” Plastic bags began disappearing from groceries last December as well as plastic cutlery, stir sticks and some plastic containers. – 20/4/23

Fewer lottery winners are wearing Covid masks

Many provincial lottery winners, when they have their photos taken with their winning cheques, have still been shown wearing medical masks as if in the middle of the pandemic. Which begs the question. Does OLG still mandate masks for lottery winners when they pick up their cheques? This despite provincial policy which ended mask mandates last June. OLG spokesman Tony Bitonti says individuals can choose to wear a mask and “we have to respect their decision.” However, he said, “we are seeing a large majority of OLG winners not wearing masks in their pictures and that number has continued to grow in recent months. We love to see those smiling faces when they are presented their prize money.” -4/4/23

Enbridge not allowed to make profit on natural gas prices - OEB

Natural gas prices, which almost doubled over the past year, are not a reflection of gas companies like Enbridge making more profit, the Ontario Energy Board (OEB), which approves rates four times a year, says. Rather they're "based on market prices" which fluctuate up and down. "These distributors are not allowed to make a profit on the sale of natural gas to their customers," OEB spokeswoman Mary Ellen Beninger says. What companies can make profits on, also approved by the OEB, are changes in operating, maintenance and metering costs. "These rates are also set to allow the utilities an opportunity to earn a fair return on their investment," she says.

$10 discount for every item scanned wrongly

Make sure to check your grocery receipts. Most Ontario grocers are obliged to give you a $10 discount for every item scanned incorrectly at checkout. That’s according to the Canadian Federation of Independent Grocers. Scanners may be highly efficient but they are not infallible. They can read the wrong code or forget a sales promotion. As well, stores may update their pricing regularly – especially these days – leading to discrepancies between the advertised price and the actual price the scanner charges. A North Carolina government agency found 26 per cent price scanner errors. – 7/3/23

At least half the price of booze is for taxes

Another year, another alcohol tax increase. Taxes on booze are going up a whopping 6.3 per cent. That’s on top of taxes already being about half the price of what you pay for beer, 65 per cent for wine and three-quarters for spirits, says the Canadian Taxpayers Federation. Taxes have been increasing yearly since Ottawa brought in an automatic escalator in the 2017 budget. And guess when the tax takes effect? April 1st. But it’s no joke. – 21/2/23

Cashless payments, yes, but don't take away cash

Canadians may love paying with debit cards at groceries but consider it discriminatory if stores were to go cashless. “Results show that Canadians not only see the economic convenience of not having cash but also perceive the socioeconomic downsides of an economy which excludes cash,” says Dalhousie University’s Agri-Food Analytics Lab. This appears altruistic. “Individuals who are unbanked or underbanked, such as those experiencing homelessness or living in poverty, would be unable to purchase goods and services at these stores, as they may not have access to electronic forms of payment.” Those most likely to still use cash are people in Manitoba (13 per cent) followed by those in Atlantic Canada (11 per cent). Only six per cent of Ontarians use cash. – 3/2/23

We're Canadians - more store brands, less vol discounts, pls

The average Canadian will spend $3500 on food this year. A Dalhousie University report also found that they will spend almost a quarter of that - $821 - on private labels, or store-branded, merchandise, the highest ever. “This is probably due to higher food prices, as grocery shoppers seek refuge with lower-priced brands,” researchers say. Loblaw is freezing prices on 1500 private label products for three months until end of January. Meanwhile, volume discounts (three for the price of two), isn’t as popular in Canada. Only 39.2% believed it’s the best policy to save. “Other strategies are more appreciated.” – 12/13/22

Corporate political messaging now comes inside of a shoe

Now social messaging is coming surreptitiously inside products. Coffee producers have long displayed “Fair Trade” on their exterior labels and some companies note, in small print, their social or environmental creds. The banks this summer, apparently in unison, displayed rainbow flags as a recognition of Gay Pride Month. But now Addidas have seemingly taken this a step further and embedded their message inside a product, on the inside sole of one of its running shoes - “End Plastic Waste” with a globe logo. - 11/29/22

New locally made whisky is aged in bourbon casks

Windsor’s Hiram Walker & Sons is bringing a little bourbon flavour to a new product. Its J. P. Wiser’s 10-Year-Old Whisky is a blend of corn and rye, aged in new white oak barrels, once used for American bourbon and seasoned Canadian whisky casks, according to a company announcement. The “premium blend” has been selling in Europe and will now be available across North America. The whisky has a “smooth, full, and balanced body with a complex combination of caramel, honeycomb toffee, vanilla, dried fruits, and rye spices along with subtle undertones of green apple and pear drops.” – 11/15/22

Loblaw first to freeze prices - til Jan 2023

Loblaw, whose stores include Zehrs, Great Canadian Superstore and No Frills in the Windsor area, has become the first grocery chain in Canada to freeze prices. This follows the stand taken by a couple of European grocers, more than six months ago. The freeze will last until the end of January. Loblaw is Canada’s largest grocery chain. One of the country's leading food industry analysts called the move “long overdue.” Dr. Sylvain Charlebois of Dalhousie University said the industry has been under pressure for months for price gouging. “The industry desperately needed to do something for its own reputation.” - 10/17/22

Merchants can start adding swipe fees to customer bills next week

Starting next Thursday merchants can legally add a surcharge on to customers’ bills to pay for credit card transaction fees. As a result of a settlement between merchants and Visa and Mastercard over so-called "interchange fees," the companies will now allow retailers to pass on an extra fee at checkout for use of either of the cards. (The processing cost for using a debit card is much lower). According to the Toronto Star, merchants are wary of adding the extra fee and want Ottawa to live up to a 2019 election promise to lower interchange fees instead. - 9/30/22


Meat still cheaper than veg substitutes

Despite the rising cost of meat due to inflation it’s still much cheaper to eat actual meat rather than plant-based meat substitutes. Dalhousie University found that plant-based proteins average 38 per cent more than animal-based food. Chicken nuggets had the higher price difference - +104% or $2.74 for the plant-based version versus $1.34 for the meat version. Meals and entrees were second (+102% or $3.13 versus $1.55), then burger patties (+71% or $2.84 versus $1.66), ground beef (+60% or $2.42 versus $1.51) and fish (+54% or $2.77 versus $1.80). “We’ve been talking about the rising cost of meat for at least eight months now, so you would think it must be evening out, but that’s not the case,” researcher Janet Music said. – 9/15/22

Are alcohol bottle warnings in our future?

Some European countries have them. And they could be coming to Canada. The Canadian Centre on Substance Use and Addiction is recommending labelling on how many drinks are in a bottles and alcohol’s health impact and nutrition. The centre says consumers are owed the “right to clear and accessible information about the health and safety of the products they buy.” Risks could be colon, breast cancer and heart disease - even in small amounts. The centre recommends consumers limit drinks to two per week with three to six drinks increasing the risk of illness. A spokeswoman for Ontario wineries says the industry advocates moderation and that warnings could be an “administrative burden.”– 9/2/22

Packaging cues for healthy and junk

The bigger the product food image and the more red there is in packaging, the more customers buy the products and continue to eat in an unhealthy way. That’s the finding of a Toronto Metropolitan University (formerly Ryerson) and Shanghai Jiao Tong University study found. Junk foods often have larger exaggerated images, making “consumers psychologically salivate more, persuading them into buying,” the authors said. And watch for red and green packaging. Red “significantly increases a food's perceived taste, while green increases the food's perceived healthiness.” – 8/25/22

Photo: Shutterstock

This credit card is going back to the future

Soon when you swipe your Mastercard you may be asked, “buy now and pay later?” It’s the credit card company’s take on the age-old layaway or installment plan. The company debuted the instalments plan last year as part of its response “to a surge in consumer interest in splitting up the cost of purchases,” the Financial Post said. The move came after financial-tech firms were increasingly focusing on buy-now, pay later – companies like Afterpay and Klarna. The kicker: they’d already siphoned off US$10 billion in annual revenue from banks, which sponsor Mastercard. – 8/19/22

Plexiglass shields coming down - slowly

The masks are coming off and the plexiglass is coming down – slowly - at various retail outlets across the country. Shoppers Drug Mart announced a pilot project in Manitoba to remove the barriers, installed during the early days of the Covid pandemic. “We’ve heard from store teams and customers that the dividers often make interactions more difficult,” the company said. The Financial Post said Tim Horton’s now allows plexiglass to be optional and employees “may choose whether to wear a mask.” Canada Post also no longer requires employees at the counter to wear masks. Plastic barriers are still up, however, though optional for outlets in host businesses. While some plexiglass is coming down the Retail Council of Canada’s Michelle Waslyshen says some retailers are actually replacing barriers, noting plexiglass tends to become opaque from cleaning chemicals. – 8/10/22

"Sweet deal" for Tims - U of Windsor prof who led privacy breach fight

A University of Windsor law professor says the recent Tim Hortons privacy data settlement is simply an attempt to generate more business. Jasminka Kalajdzic, who led a class action on behalf of 1.9 million Tim’s customers, called the out of court agreement “really just a guarantee of more business.” The settlement means every affected customer will receive an offer of $8.58 - up to $6.19 for the most expensive beverage and $2.39 for the most expensive baked good. That works out to about $16 million. Says Kalajdzic in the Financial Post, “It doesn't seem to me that a cup of coffee and a muffin are fair compensation for a blatant disregard for our private information. Forgive the pun, but it's a very sweet deal for Tim Hortons.” The payout is due to an admitted privacy breach where Tim’s extensively tracked customers movements. – 8/5/22

Canada Post's instant customer feedback

Coming soon to a post office counter near you - Canada Post’s new point of sale customer service touchscreens. Happy with your service or not? Customers can instantly and anonymously tell Canada Post their customer experience. “The randomly asked customer satisfaction question may be about our products, services, the customer experience, or whether they would recommend Canada Post,” spokeswoman Valérie Chartrand told “Answering is completely voluntary. Customers can skip the question or wait for it to time out.” The tablets rolled out last year and the post office expects to have them all installed by September. – 7/21/22

Photo: Canada Post

Are nursing homes dragging feet on AC, or?

It depends how the news is written. An article last month made it seem like 98 Ontario nursing homes aren’t complying with new government air conditioning standards in the wake of Covid-19. A Canadian Press story said they had ”missed” the deadline. While technically true it wasn’t intentional. And an academic castigated them, saying there’s been “no real follow through…people die from this.” But a government spokesperson told that 265 additional homes – up from 266 in 2020 – now have AC. That leaves the 98. But all are “required to have at least one designated cooling area that is served by air conditioning for every 40 residents” and have complied. The delays are due to global supply matters, Covid-19 outbreaks and visitor restrictions preventing contractors from entering homes. – 7/8/22


Letter carriers don't have right to cross lawns

No, letter carriers do not have a right to cross residential lawns. That’s of course if they’re delivering mail to a traditional home mailbox, not super mailboxes that dot newer suburban developments. Canada Post’s Valérie Chartrand says carriers are not instructed to walk across properties to expedite delivery or their shifts. “We instruct our door-to-door delivery agents to follow prescribed paths to deliver the mail on their route, which does not include walking across lawns,” she told Not so apparently in the US. In 1981 a federal appellate court ruled carriers can take shortcuts across lawns without homeowners’ permission. The Ninth Circuit upheld a district court against a Pittsburg, Calif. ordinance making carriers liable to trespass charges for crossing lawns without permission. – 6/24/22

Photo: Canada Post

Employee fired after stopping shoplifter

A longtime Kroger’s employee was fired from her job in suburban Detroit because she tried to prevent a man leaving the store with a shopping cart full of hundreds of dollars of liquor. According to ClickOnDetroit, Beverly Bennett asked the man if he had a receipt and stood in front of the cart and “swung a basket at the grocery cart.” The man at the Lincoln Park store ran off. Fellow employees congratulated her. Bennett said staff had been told how to handle shoplifters. Shortly after the incident she was fired, she claims. Bennett is now suing the company, America’s largest supermarket chain by revenue. No comment from the chain. “Kroger does not provide a comment on pending litigation,” Kroger Michigan spokeswoman Rachel Hurst told - 6/3/22

Indigo's store hours still lag those of the mall

If you're wondering why Indigo (formerly Chapters) at Devonshire Mall was closing recently as early as 7 pm, understands it's all part of the ramp up in store hours post-Covid 19. The store this week finally extended hours to 8 pm. The store pre-Covid used to be open until 9 pm, at one time even until 10 pm. While Indigo is now open until 8 pm it still lags mall hours, with Devonshire open until 9 pm. An Indigo rep didn’t return requests for comment. The store had a recent revamp changing the longtime name of Chapters to Indigo with a darker outdoor façade and fresher brighter interior with substantially more front of store lifestyle products in addition to its traditional mainstay of books. - 4/29/22