I’ve got unresolved baggage with British Airways

I’ll preface this by saying that myself and Josh had the world’s best honeymoon. The kind of amazing where you lie in bed at night (floating in the Mediterranean), eat the Belgian chocolate that is waiting for you on your crisp, white pillow and wonder “Is this real life? I wouldn’t change a thing about this moment.” Okay if I’m honest, I would add a couple more Belgian chocolates to our pillows, but other than that, status quo for sure.

IMG_1593

Mykonos, Greece

I’m happy to report we had the trip of a lifetime. I was determined to not let a little ol’ thing like all my belongings being missing get me down. And I didn’t! Each day, I woke up, pulled on my crusty jean shorts and explored Italy with my wonderful husband.

Rome sans luggage but ok with it.

Rome sans luggage but ok with it.

But at the back of my mind… something was slightly bothering me.

Finally, as I got disconnected from British Airways baggage line without speaking to an actual human being for the third time in a row, it hit me.

British Airways was pranking me.

It was the only logical explanation. The customer service I was receiving was like something from an SNL skit. I was convinced that at any moment balloons would fall down from the  ceiling and I would be presented with a ticket to fly around the world. The whole situation had to be a Truman Show style experiment where they give the absolute worst customer service possible to see how the customer will cope. Surely, British Airways was about to walk out from behind a wall and say “OMG of course we don’t actually treat our customers like this! We are filming a comical marketing video with a storyboard that involves treating you the complete opposite way we should. We’ve hid cameras everywhere and people around the world have been watching you on a live-stream. Some people were even betting on when you would reach your breaking point.”

Well folks, it’s two weeks later, and I’ve officially reached my breaking point. Honestly, once I got my bags back, I didn’t give it much more thought. I had no plans to write a strongly-worded blog or even bother submitting a complaint about my experience. But this morning I received an email from British Airways informing me they would pay for my clothing expenses but would not be covering the new suitcase I purchased (after they destroyed mine) because I didn’t submit the claim within 7 days of receiving it!

UMM.

LOL.

WHAT.

I’m sorry I didn’t get a chance to submit a claim while I was cruising the Mediterranean sans internet access or telephone. Also I’m on vacation and I really need a breather from you British Airways, since you’ve already been third-wheeling on this vacation for six days.

Yup my luggage was missing FOR SIX DAYS – 32% of my vacation. I stepped on a flight on Friday evening, Sept 4 and didn’t see my luggage again until Thursday evening September 10.

This isn’t about the 70 euro I spent on a pretty kick-ass turquoise suitcase. That money is spent and forgotten about. The reason why this irks me so much is because the customer service throughout this entire ordeal has been virtually non-existent.

I consider myself to be a positive and fairly nice person. When I speak to a customer service representative, I understand that I am not speaking to the ‘corporation’. They are human beings just doing their job. So for 5 days I called the 1-800 lines and tried not to explode. Each day I was polite, understanding and apparently – a complete sucker.

Do nice guys finish last? I’ve gone through life with the belief that kindness and patience is the way to go. Being rude gets you nowhere. Apparently, the exception to that rule is British Airways.

Day 4 sans luggage and I had zero updates. Like zilch. Nothing. No one had called me (but I kept calling them) and no one had apologized or tried to explain what they were doing to look for my bag. After I asked what they were doing to find my bag, they told me they would contact each airport but I couldn’t grasp why calling 3 airports needed to take 4 days.  No one was helpful, understanding or even remotely apologetic. Finally, I sent out a frustrated cry of desperation on Twitter.

The twitter folks were quite nice. They told me they were going to look into it and investigate immediately. A guy named Neil was awesome and I credit him with finding my bag in the end.

But what if I was computer-illiterate? I shouldn’t have had to taken it to that level! It was a representative on twitter who told me they could ‘categorically confirm’ my luggage was on the flight to Rome. I had that information from Twitter while the 1-800 line was still telling me they knew nothing.

As someone who works in marketing, it is really disappointing to see an organization only respond when the complaint goes public.

So what have I learned from this experience? Well, from now on, I’ll be packing half my clothes in Josh’s suitcase to avoid being underwear-less in a foreign country. And being assertive doesn’t mean being rude. Sometimes you gotta keep pushing to get what you deserve.

For those who are interested, here are the highlights (or low-lights) of the customer service I received once I lost my bag:

  • I reported my bag missing at the airport (after waiting an hour in line) and they opened a file for me and wrote down a number I could try calling the next day. This number was occasionally answered but often was turned off or out of range. The person who answered this line worked at the baggage desk in Rome airport. I would ask if my bag was there –  she would ask for my file number,  go check, and then say “I don’t see it”
  • I called the British Airways general baggage line and they gave me a number dedicated solely to lost baggage in Italy. I called said number and listened to terrible waiting room music that repeated itself every ten seconds. An automated voice tells me my call is important and someone will be with me shortly. This happens over and over. Ten minutes pass. Automated voice comes on and says “All our representatives are currently busy. Please try later” CLICK. The line disconnects! This happened not once, not twice, but at least four times. I’m talking borderline torture. I cannot articulate the rage this made me feel inside. Also I’m really afraid to look at Josh’s cell phone bill
  • On day 5 I called the general line (because the Italy line never answers) and told them a British Airways rep on twitter has confirmed my bag went to Rome. Representative tells me “Yes, your bag is in Rome airport”. I say “But is it found or are you just telling me it is in the airport?” He ignores this question and says it is in Rome airport and to call the Italy British Airways line to arrange pick-up. I call the Italy line and by some miracle someone answers. I explain what I was just told and she replies “We have to wait for the airport to contact us” I ask her if she can call the airport. She says “we don’t have a number for the airport”. WHAT. Can you email them I ask? She says “We don’t have any contact information for the airport. We are just a call-centre and they need to contact us.”
  • The fact that the British Airways baggage line for Italy doesn’t have a phone number for Rome airport is actually ludicrous and hilarious and WHAT.
  • At this point, I’m convinced I’m never getting my bag. Why? Because I have a phone number for the Rome airport baggage department (See bullet #1) and they actually couldn’t care less. The last time I called, the lady on the phone said there was no update on my file. I described my bag and asked her to look around. She said (without looking) “I don’t see it. Are you in Rome?” I told her I was in Venice and I’d be back in Rome on Thursday. She suggested I come back to the airport then and look in lost and found myself.
  • WHAT IS LIFE
  • Finally, on the return flight home, when we went to check our luggage, they informed us one of our bags was overweight by a couple of pounds. I explained that British Airways lost my luggage for six days so I had to buy some additional items. The British Airways rep gave me an unapologetic shrug and said we could rearrange our luggage and come back the counter. So to top it all off, we sat in Rome airport with a open suitcase stuffing things into our carry-on. Perfect.

Despite the fact that it took them 6 days to locate a bag that was in the Rome airport the whole time, all my anger evaporated once I got my bag back. Until today.

Why did I write this blog? Honestly I’m just super annoyed and writing it down made me feel better. I don’t expect or even want anything from British Airways at this point. But I think they need to reevaluate their policies. And maybe talk to some of their customer service reps about showing a bit of empathy.

Ironically, I headed to the airport hoping we might get upgraded to first class because it was our honeymoon. How naive I was!

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365 Days (and hopefully more) of Creativity

I didn’t mean for there to be such a long hiatus on my blog! Hello!

I haven’t been writing as much as I should but I promise I haven’t been spending all my free time binge-watching Scandal either (only 2 episodes a night tops). I’ve been doodling. And painting. And drawing. And sketching. And mentally drawing Olivia Pope’s face as I watch her kick-ass on my television screen.

I’ve fallen in love with art all over again and I feel like I’m improving, growing and on a paint-filled journey to find my own artistic style. The truth is I never fell out of love with art. I just forgot how good it makes me feel. If you love something – find time for it. Even if it feels like work sometimes. It is worth it and you are worth it.

My dear friend Steph bought me a visual journal and I started it on the first of January. IMG_1685

Everyday I draw something. Sometimes I miss a day (or two or three) but I always catch up within a week. I’m over 100 days in and still going strong. I’ve made art part of my daily routine and now I can’t get enough of it. I look forward to weekend afternoons when I can spend hours with a paintbrush or pencil in hand. PicMonkey Collage

“Joy is the essence of success” I read that on the piece of paper attached to my string teabag (LOL) but turns out my teabag is obviously a wise philosopher. I will be first in line to buy that teabags memoir. I’ve found my joy. If you’re interested, you can follow along with my 365 days of creativity on Instagram at @everydayimdoodling. IMG_1684

Hiking and eating my way through Gros Morne National Park

Myself and Josh spent 5 days this month exploring Gros Morne National Park and I’m not sure I can find the right words to adequately describe the experience.

I’ve wanted to see the ‘other side’ of our beautiful province for quite a while now, and it didn’t disappoint. I can’t tell you how many times we turned to each other to say “JUST LOOK AT THAT VIEW!”

It is an almost 8 hour drive to get to Gros Morne, but it is well-worth it. Myself and Josh entertained ourselves with sing-a-longs (we are currently obsessed with Hideaway by Kiesza), 20 questions (Josh dominates this game and I kinda hate it) and our own invented games. My favorite driving game is saying household items in a high-pitched, squeaky voice really fast, and the other person has to guess what you’re saying. It may not sound overly exciting but hearing Josh say “refrigerator” in a tiny little mouse voice is seriously hilarious.

We managed to do and see a lot during our short trip, but I also feel like I could return every single year and still discover something new. There is a wonder and magic about Gros Morne that draws you in. We found ourselves walking along Woody Point one evening after supper discussing our plans to return. We were still there and we knew we needed to come back.

If you are looking for a relaxing vacation, heading to the west coast may not be for you. But if you want to fall asleep at night before you can even finish the beer in your hand, then Gros Morne will fit the bill.

For those of you looking for a place to stay, we stayed at Middlebrook Cottages and Chalets, and they were awesome! The cottages were clean, well-priced, and in a great location close to Woody Point. There was also a beautiful river right behind the cabins with falls and a swimming hole. Myself and Josh swam in front of the waterfall and received a free ‘natural massage’ The cabins are about a 40 minute drive to Rocky Harbour, but the drive is so scenic that it feels much shorter.

Also if you’re looking for helpful information on what to do, see, and expect in Gros Morne, check out Candice Walsh’s blog. She has written several posts on Gros Morne which I found myself going back to again and again. This one is my favorite.

I was going to recap our trip by day, but I think it makes more sense to divide it into the two things we spent the entire trip doing – hiking and eating.

THE HIKES

Parks Canada has a link on their website which provides details on all of the hikes in Gros Morne. We consulted this regularly as it provided a great summary of what to expect, the length, and the difficulty level of the different trails. Check it our here.

Over the 5 days we spent in Gros Morne, we managed to complete 7 hikes in total and hike over 50 km.

1. Berry Hill – 1.5 km (moderate-easy)

2. Baker’s Brook Falls 9.7 km (moderate)

3. Gros Morne Mountain -16 km (strenuous)

4. Western Brook Pond 6 km (moderate – easy)

5. Tablelands – 4 km (moderate)

6. Lookout – 5 km (moderate-strenuous)

7. Green Gardens Short Hike – 9 km (moderate-strenuous)

 

 1. Berry Hill and 2. Baker’s Brook Falls

We hiked both Berry Hill and Baker’s Falls in one afternoon/early evening after driving all the way from St. John’s. The weather forecast was predicting rain later on in the week, so Josh was determined not to waste a minute of sunshine. Although I was tired and admittedly cranky when we started out, the beautiful trails perked my mood up pretty quickly. Berry Hill is very short but the view from the top is lovely.

Josh at the top of Berry Hill

Josh at the top of Berry Hill

Baker’s Brook Falls starts from the same parking lot as the Berry Hill lookout trail and it is an easy hike. Parks Canada classifies it as moderate, but I would dispute this as the majority of the trail follows a flat wooden walkway. You hike just over 4.5 km in to reach the falls, and then you hike back out the same way.  I thought it was the perfect warm-up round for what was in store for us the next day.

Waterfall selfie

Baker’s Brook Falls and a Foolish Grin

3. Gros Morne Mountain

A 16km loop, Parks Canada aptly categorizes this hike as strenuous. The first 4km takes you in to the base of the mountain, so I was expecting this part would be a piece of cake. But alas, no. There was no cake and it was completely uphill. Before long, I was breathing heavily, sweating, and my heart felt like it was going to beat out of my chest. We finally reached the base of the mountain and sat down on a bench where we could look up at the mountain, and at the people staggering up the base. No these people were not drunk. They were staggering and stumbling because there is so much loose rock. Walking upright isn’t an option. I spent the majority of this section of the hike with my butt in the air and my hands feeling around for secure rocks. We took a lot of breaks because every single step was challenging. But any doubts about taking on the mountain immediately vanished just by turning around and checking out the already incredible view – rolling green mountains and the deep blue ocean. At one point we stopped and looked down to watch a mother moose and her calf meander through the woods. I really wanted to use the word meander in a blog post, ok?

I was warned that the mountain has several plateaus that make you think you are near the top but you’re actually not. I’m glad I knew this in advance or I probably would have been in tears. But eventually, a long, long time later. we reached the top. It was a pretty amazing feeling to know we had made it to the highest point. Look how proud we are – we did it! Also, the lighting in this picture is deceiving – I promise we didn’t wear matching outfits.

At the Summit!

At the Summit!

Unfortunately, Parks Canada doesn’t let you build a house and raise your family on the top of the mountain. We had to  hike back down. At least it was downhill, right? Easy! Except not so much. The constant hiking downhill meant my toes were sliding forward and scraping the front of my boot over and over. Before long, every single step was painful and I was convinced my toenails had fallen off. They hadn’t (Update: They are currently a disconcerting purplish colour). But we didn’t let our aches and pains stop us from appreciating the beauty that surrounded us.

Just look at that view! Unreal, isn’t it?

This is not a backdrop.

This is not a backdrop.

Although the mountain was probably the hardest thing I’ve done ever done physically, it was also the most rewarding.  When we got back to the car, we were both filled with this complete sense of accomplishment, and our Iceberg beers were extra tasty that night.

4. Western Brook Pond

This is the perfect hike to do following Gros Morne mountain. A leisurely 3km hike in, it leads to the Western Brook Pond Fjord boat tour. And the boat tour with Bon Tours is amazing!  It felt like we had been dropped down in the middle of the Jurassic Park movie. I loved it. If you’re in Gros Morne, I would consider this a must-do activity.

Hiking in for the boat tour

Hiking in for the boat tour

Getting up close and personal with the fjords.

Getting up close and personal with the fjords.

5. The Tablelands

When we drove through the Tablelands, we wondered if we had taken a wrong turn somewhere and ended up on mars. This area of the park looks like a whole different world. You will spend the short 4 km return hike walking on the earth’s mantle! I didn’t know a lot about the Geology of the Tablelands so myself and Josh picked up an Explora Navigation Device from the Parks Canada Discovery Centre. This device uses GPS to detect where you are on the trail, and then provides relevant commentary about the Tablelands. It was so cool! Parks Canada also offers guided hikes everyday (I think) at 10 am if you would prefer a tour guided by an actual human. We were partial to the computer.

Hanging out on the earth's mantle

Hanging out on the earth’s mantle

6. The Lookout

This 5 km hike was surprisingly challenging. I think we were expecting everything to feel like a breeze after conquering the mountain, but this hike showed us (well mainly me) who was boss. The 2.5 km hike up the hill is just that – completely uphill.  It was a hot day and I huffed and puffed my way to the top. Fortunately it is a short hike, and the view was the top is breathtaking. You can see everything up there from the tablelands to Gros Morne mountain. It was a great place to sit back and enjoy lunch.

View from the Top

View from the Top

7. Green Gardens (the short version)

We would have liked to do the full 16 km Green Gardens hike but that involved crossing a river which we didn’t think would be a great idea in the rain. But if you only have a couple of hours to spare, the short version was great. It starts off on the tablelands but then it leads you through lush green forest all the way down to the ocean. Also me and Josh felt that doing this trail in the rain legitimized us as real hikers. We patted ourselves on the back after this one.

Josh commits a fashion faux pas to keep dry.

Josh commits a fashion faux pas to keep dry.

Checking out the beach.

Checking out the beach.

THE FOOD

We chose to stay in a cabin without a kitchen or BBQ. This was a strategic decision which allowed up to experience lots of wonderful restaurants during our trip. I’ve heard there are some amazing places to eat in Norris Point but we didn’t get there for a meal so we will have to head there next time.

Java Jacks Café, Rocky Harbour

Java Jacks is a restaurant located in what I’m guessing is a renovated house in Rocky Harbour.  It has a counter downstairs where you can buy sandwiches, salads, and baked goods, and  supper is served upstairs. Although it is called a café, their supper menu is fairly extensive. I went with the fresh scallops, and Josh chose pan-fried cod. Spoiler alert: Josh always orders cod. Before our meals came, they brought us out fresh buns of bread and whipped molasses butter. Guys, I can’t even talk about how much I love molasses butter. I overheard someone else in the restaurant say they didn’t like it and ask for regular butter and I found myself feeling personally affronted. You’d swear I have shares in the molasses butter industry. I thought the meal was delightful, but Josh would have preferred larger portions.

scallops

Supper at Java Jack’s

The Old Loft Restaurant Woody Point

This is where we chose to go after hiking the mountain, and we couldn’t have picked a better place to unwind and let my toes breathe! We sat outside literally on top of the bay and enjoyed a beautiful breeze and cold beers. I ordered the fresh halibut and fries and it was delicious. Josh went for – you guessed it – cod, which he really enjoyed.

On the deck at The Old Loft Restaurant

On the deck at The Old Loft Restaurant

Seaside Restaurant, Trout River
I had an out-of-body experience here as I consumed the most delicious cod tongues I’ve ever had. Feast your eyes on the picture and go there in person so you can feast for real. Josh had the cod (seriously), and he loved it as usual.

I dream of these cod tongues.

I dream of these cod tongues.

  • We also went to the Merchant Warehouse in Woody Point for fish and chips. Their menu was very diner-esque and only featured pub food. The fish was fresh and crispy, but I found the fries bland. They have a nice deck right on the bay which we took advantage of.
  • Josh was craving pizza one evening so we drove 45 minutes from our cabin to Earl’s Restaurant in Rocky Harbour. It was worth the trip. The pizza and garlic fingers were fresh and steaming hot.  Also, apparently Earl’s is famous for their moose burger, but we had tunnel vision for the pizza.
  • We went to the Granite Coffee House in Woody Point for hot breakfast. Standard breakfast fare but it was good. Service was slow but we weren’t in a rush. We also bought two Hiker’s Packs to go. For $10 you get a freshly made sandwich, muffin, apple, and a juice box. Great deal!

After we had planned our vacation to Gros Morne, Hey Rosetta! announced they would be doing two shows in the Heritage Theatre in Woody Point. I couldn’t believe our luck. I’m a huge Hey Rosetta! fan. I’ve probably seen them live 8 or 9 times, but the show in Woody Point was extra special. We could literally feel the floor beneath us shaking as people sang and danced along to their tunes. It was magical.

Hey Rosetta! in Woody Point, NL

Hey Rosetta! in Woody Point, NL

I also fell in love with the cutest coffee shop and studio in Woody Point called Galliott Studios. I believe the owner said it was her grandfather’s fishing shed and she converted it into her studio! There was beautiful prints and jewelry for sale, and some amazing original artwork worth checking out. We sat out on the deck which was right on the bay and I enjoyed a herbal tea while Josh had the best cup of coffee.

Enjoying some tea on the deck at Galliott Studios

Enjoying some tea on the deck at Galliott Studios

By the time me and Josh hit the road to come back home, I felt like all of our senses had been given the first class treatment. It was overwhelming but in the best kind of way possible. Visiting Gros Morne made me fall in love with our province all over again. We’ve got something really special going on, and I keep finding more reasons why this province captures our hearts and souls so completely.

Guess who’s back with all ten fingers?!

I’m BAAACK!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Ok it has been forever, I know. Maybe some of you hoped I was gone for good. But no – I’m like the pimple that keeps reappearing on your top lip. I might go away for a while sometimes, but I always, always come back (usually before a hot date or a job interview).

I never meant to neglect my blog. I also never meant to put my finger in an immersion blender and turn it on. But stuff happens, right?

I blame my finger injury for my hiatus. I actually started writing a post back in April but typing out what happened made me feel nauseous so I avoided my blog the same way I avoided my blender. But time heals all wounds and I’m happy to report that I’m back to making smoothies, and according to the doctor, the top of my finger now bends 30%. Here’s to the other 70% coming back someday. But if not, I luckily have a bunch of other fingers who’ve been picking up the slack like champs.

finger

And now, some FAQ’s about my experience.

1. What happened?

It’s my neighbor’s fault. He is such a nice person and kept slow blowing our driveway for us so I wanted to do something nice for him in return. As an aside, he always wore one of those winter masks that covered his entire face so for a while he was just a masked and unidentified hero to us. Anyway, me and Josh went with a classic liquor store gift card to say thank-you, but I decided to make  some cookies to go with it for that personal touch. Unfortunately, we don’t own a mixer. Fortunately, my immersion blender has a mixer attachment. Unfortunately, I was too lazy to go look for the other attachment. So I tried to blend my butter and sugar together with this:

blend

The blades hit the butter and sugar with a big PHLERRLUMPHH sound and that whole little cavity part filled with my sugary butter goo. So I let go of the button (which turns it off) and started picking the stuff out. And that must be when I squeezed the button again by accident while my finger was literally caressing the blades. So my neighbor didn’t get any cookies after all.

2. Why didn’t you unplug it first?

I wrote down the names of anyone who asked me this question following the accident and they are now dead to me. Ok they aren’t dead to me because I really wanna stay in contact with my mom but it is not a nice question to ask, ok?  The answer is – I didn’t think about it. It was just 2 seconds of unthinkingly picking sugar butter out of a blade, and then BAM. An accident. Was it stupid? Absolutely. Do I need to be reminded of that fact? Absolutely not. The finger injury was lesson enough without the constant ‘always unplug your appliances’ advice.

3. How did you deal with the crisis?

Poorly.

4. Can you expand on your answer above?

I didn’t look at my finger when it happened. I didn’t feel anything but I knew it was bad. I dealt with it by sticking my arm out and as far away from my body as humanly possibly without physically detaching myself from it. Then I screamed Josh’s name. I yelled he had to do something. He said he would call his mom. I said DO SOMETHING NOW. So we poured water on it. It was at this moment that Josh realized it wasn’t just a little scrape. We learned later that I cut through the tendons but to Josh, it just looked like the top of my finger was hanging off. So he told me it was time to go to the hospital. I responded by tearfully yelling “THE HOSPITAL?!” I could go on, but the summary is this: Josh was cool, calm, and collected throughout the entire sequence of events, and I turned into the spawn of satan.

5. How long did you have to wear a splint?

I think it ended up being for about 8 weeks. I showered with a bag on my hand.

6. How is your finger now?

My finger is still on my hand, so it is awesome! I do physio exercises daily  to strengthen it and improve the flexibility of the joint so hopefully it will eventually get back to normal. People laughed when I said my finger required physiotherapy and dad asked if it involved me repetitively picking my nose.

5. What did you learn from this experience?

I learned to always unplug my appliances. And it reiterated the fact that Josh is the one for me. He cleaned up the whole kitchen (and described it later as a crime scene) while I sat on the couch eating a pint of Ben and Jerry’s.

On a serious note, my injury was minor. But I think the experience made me a little more cautious in general. Things can happen in an instant! So whether you’re driving your car, crossing the road, or blending up sugar butter, always be aware and alert! Also, it helps to remain calm. Me screaming at Josh “YOU”RE LYING TO ME. MY FINGER’S GONE, ISN’T IT?” probably didn’t help the situation.

 

The Marketing of Tessa and Scott

I’ve spent an unhealthy amount of time in the past few days devoted to Tessa and Scott. It all started when I sat down and watched an episode of the W Network documentary series on the ice dancers. And then I watched another episode. And another one. And so on and so on until I began to think that I had made two new, very talented friends.

Untitled

Source: wnetwork.com

Tessa and Scott are incredible ice dancers. When they perform, it seems like everything else stops. Their performances take you in. They tell a story with their movements, with their meaningful looks at one another. What kind of story? A story of love. Of course.

Tessa and Scott are Canada’s sweethearts. Except they are not actually sweethearts – at least not in a romantic sense.

After watching the entire W series, I watched their incredible olympic performance. And once again, I was struck by their chemistry, both on and off the ice. In interviews, Tessa looks up at Scott with batted eyelashes, with love.

Or does she?

I started thinking about the marketing of it. Tessa and Scott, and their team of coaches and advisors know exactly what the audience is looking for. We love that chemistry. We want them to be together. We want the love they exude on the ice to be real.

I’m not arguing that the chemistry we witness when they skate isn’t real. I’m not sure that can be feigned. But I do think that they know exactly what they are doing when they evade questions about their relationship. When they hug or playfully flirt in front of an audience.

The producers of the Tessa and Scott docu-series also seem to understand the value of Tessa and Scott’s love. I realized this when I picked up on some very clever editing in the show.

In one episode, Scott is really frustrated with training. Following this, during an on camera interviews, he says “I’m so lucky to have the perfect person to blow off steam with” It then cuts to a go-kart course. Scott is having some fun with his friend, and fellow olympic skater, Patrick Chan. Cute, right? It was.

An episode or two later, we see Scott and Tessa walking and laughing together after some stressful training. It cuts to the on-screen interview and Scott says “I’m so lucky to have the perfect person to blow off steam with”. And then we see video footage of him and Tessa.

Scott was talking about Patrick in that interview! Yet the producers cut it to make it seem like he was speaking of Tessa. This one was easy to catch because they used the same footage twice (which was very surprising to me). How many other things were cleverly cut that we never picked up on? How many of the meaningful looks they seemed to share on the show were not actually so meaningful?

We all know reality TV isn’t actually reality. But when I caught that minor, yet blatant, lie on the screen, I felt a little bit cheated. And I think this is mainly because I bought into it. I wanted to buy into it. I think we all do. And that’s why it is so easy for the W Network or even for Tessa and Scott themselves to fool us. We see what we want to see. They are marketing their love. And we only love them more for it.

tessa-virtue-scott-moir-dating

Source: wnetwork.com

At the end of the day, it doesn’t matter in the slightest. Whether or not Tessa and Scott are actually in love doesn’t change the fact that Tessa and Scott are outstanding figure skaters.  Their ice dancing performances charm audiences around the world. They are Olympic champions. Tessa and Scott are Canada’s sweethearts. So why don’t they just explicitly tell us they aren’t a couple? Because Tessa&Scott are a brand. I purposely didn’t put a space there to emphasize that they go together.  When Tessa and Scott refer to their relationship as ‘complex’ and ‘difficult to explain’, that just makes them even more fascinating to us, which in turn, increases the value of their brand.

In Da (Book) Club

So books are awesome, right? If your answer is no please feel free to exit the building because this post is not for you. Or, you can scroll ahead to the bottom of this blog post to read my terrible In Da Club parody.

I’ve actually been meaning to make a post about books for a while now. I had a draft post sitting there which outlined my favorite books of 2013 but I never got around to finishing it. But that’s ok because something even more exciting happened. I met Mark Ruffalo. No, ok, that isn’t true. But another dream of mine did come true –  I started a book club.

Since I was about 16, I wanted to be in a book club. I seen them on tv shows, I read about them in books, and I heard about them from my friend’s parents. It sounded so perfect to me. Combining three of my favorite things into one: books, hanging out with cool people, and eating snacks.

We met for the first time last Friday. It was perfect. There is something that is simply awesome about sitting around a table with 7 other people who just experienced the same book you did. You get to hear how each person interpreted particular passages and moments, and how they identified with the characters. I found that hearing all these perspectives even helped to enrich my own personal experience with the book. The only question I was left with at the end of the night was “Why didn’t I do this sooner?”

So in tying my new book club back to the blog, I thought it would be fun if I did a quick two or three-line review of each book we read on here as well.  I know I am always looking to get recommendations for good books from other people, so hopefully my reviews might help some of you decide which books to grab (or not grab) off the shelf next.

January Pick

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Title: A House in the Sky

Author(s): Amanda Lindhout & Sarah Corbett

Genre: Memoir

Rating: 9/10

Quick Review: A House in the Sky is Lindhout’s memoir about her fifteen months of captivity in Somalia. It is gut-wrenching. Immensely difficult to read at times, Amanda gives us an honest and open look into an unimaginably difficult period of time in her life. Her strong spirit and her commitment to survival throughout the entire ordeal is inspiring. Although the material of the book is very heavy, it is presented in a way that makes it somehow manageable to get through without too many emotional breaks. I would even go so far as to classify it as a page-turner (I think I read it over a period of two days on my lunch breaks and in the evenings).

Book Club Thoughts: It was unanimous – everyone liked it. We had some great discussion about the criticism Amanda faced when she returned to Canada. Some journalists and critics placed a great deal of blame on Amanda for her decision to travel in Somalia. Our book club concluded that although going to Somalia may have been a reckless decision, that shouldn’t be cause for people to diminish her book or the pain and suffering she endured. The strength she exhibited during her time in captivity is still amazing. We’ve all been in situations where we’ve made the wrong choice or taken the wrong path. Maybe Amanda shouldn’t have been in Somalia in the first place, but at this point, is it an argument even worth having? She was in captivity for 15 months. She was tortured. She was raped. She was malnourished. And she survived. And her survival story is worth sharing.

So that was our January pick. Our next meeting (for February) will be in the first week of March and we’ve decided to go with The Rosie Project by Graeme Simsion. I’ve read a couple of positive reviews on it, and I also think it is a very fitting pick for February – the month of love. Stay tuned to hear what we thought of it next month!

And now, for the parody I’m sure you’ve all been sitting on the edge of your seat for. I’m sorry to report that I couldn’t complete the last verse – I was all rapped out. At least I now know that I didn’t miss my calling to be a rapper.

IN DA (BOOK CLUB)

Go, go, go, go, go, go, go reading

You’re so awesome

Books make us smart and keep our brain bright

Books keep us up way too late on a school night

And you know we don’t mind at all

Cause readings’ a ball!

 [Chorus]

You can come to my book club,

Don’t forget the book

Discussion might get heated, so don’t be a big ol’ sook

I love to read it all – except that fantasy stuff

Some come and read with me, unless it sounds too tough

When I open up a book, I get lost inside

And when it’s real good, it takes me on a crazy ride

Characters are so real that I think they aren’t made-up

And plots get so twisted that I feel like throwin’ up

Dear my fellow reader, keep your books open

If the plot gets too intense, I’ll  help ya with the copin’

At book club we keep the discussion and the white wine freely flowing

We read books so tight that you’ll find your brain is growing

At Chapters they’ll all be saying “take a plum card”

Points racking up so fast, getting free books won’t be hard

But the free swag don’t mean nothing at the end of the day

Books change your life, so it doesn’t matter if you pay

Jane Eyre, Holden Caulfield, and Katniss Everdeen

These characters take you places you ain’t never been

Yo dogs, I can hardly believe that words hold so much power

Yet one sec I’m in my bed the next a castle tower

[Chorus: x2]

My mom, da bomb, read to l’il me

And helped instill my love of prose

My purse, my house, my work, my car

All hold my books so they are never far

It is New Years Eve so let’s reflect together! Or at least sing a line from Auld Lang Syne.

Happy Almost New Year, everyone! I can’t believe it is NYE, already.

I am having difficulty coming to terms with the fact that another year has passed. Ringing in 2013 (see photographic evidence below) really only feels like it was a couple of months ago. You know when you can almost still physically feel yourself in a particular time and place? I can still hear my friends laughing and yelling too loudly. I can feel the cold beer cooling my palm and contributing to my perpetually-clammy-hand-syndrome. I can see Steph standing right in front of me, her iphone flashing, capturing a picture of me and Josh just moments after the countdown. The memory of my last New Years Eve hasn’t gone fuzzy around the edges yet. Which means it can’t possibly have been 365 days ago, right? Right?

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Wrong, Katie. Wrong. Although I can’t believe it, the calendar does not tell a lie. Unless my life is some sort of Truman Show-esque experiment and you guys are all watching me on your TVs right now?! And you flipped my calendar super fast to see if I would react?! You guys are all actors and my life isn’t real? If this is true, I just want you to know I wasn’t picking my nose two minutes ago; I was just scratching.

One year. 365 days. 52 weeks. 12 months.

The end of the year. December 31st.

Kinda arbitrary isn’t it? Yes it is, but when you really think about it, everything is. Time is arbitrary. It freaks me out when I think about it, so I’m going to stop now. Arbitrary or not, it is nice to have a measure for all the ‘stuff’ life brings. I like that each year has a set ending point rather than it just being one giant block of time. The end of the year gives you a chance to look back. It gives you a chance to decide if you want to keep going to way you are, or if you want to start ‘fresh’. Although January 1st is technically exactly the same as every other day of the year, there is something incredibly hopeful about treating it like a clean slate.

2013 was a big year for me. The biggest. And one of the best. There were some great big moments squeezed in between January 1st and December 31st. But there were also lots of little moments, too. And sometimes the little moments are the best ones of all.

2013 was awesome. I loved it. But I’m not going to cling to it. Tonight, I’m ready to ring in a new year with my dearest friends. I’m hopeful and confident there will be lots more great years. 2014 will bring the wedding of my best friend, and that alone makes for a very, very promising year.

I don’t have any specific New Year’s resolutions like to stop eating potato chips or walk a mile a day. I guess my goal for 2014 is just to keep on loving life! And that power is in my hands. It is in your hands, too. Find what make you happy. Say yes more. Be appreciative for the little things (and the big things). Give back. Recycle. Walk or run or bike or swim or jump around on one foot. Eat the cookie if you want it. Eat more vegetables so you don’t feel bad about the cookie. Try something new. Try something old that you haven’t done in a while. Read a book. Sing loudly. Try not to stress about things that are out of your control.

Have I inspired you yet? Probably not. Because that list above isn’t yours (unless you stepped inside my brain and dictated it for me). It might be fun to read the abundance of New Year’s themed articles that sprout up this time of year, but at the end of the day, how your year is going to play out rests with you.  You need to decide what your goals and dreams and wishes are. Who am I to tell you how to live your 2014?  Who is Oprah to tell you, for that matter? You know you the best. I encourage you to write your own story. Every year is your year because it is your life.

So here’s to the new year! I hope everyone had a wonderful 2013 and I hope 2014 brings you health, happiness, and lots of love and laughter!

And to start your NYE off right, I highly recommend you listen to the best New Year’s Eve song ever, which also happens to be the best duet of all time.

Ok, ok I’m not gone yet! One more thing! I wanted to share my blog’s annual report for 2013. I know, I know, the term annual report is making you yawn. But this is a pretty cool read! I love seeing what search terms sent people my way, where my visitors came from, and what posts garnered the most attention. Shockingly it was not my post about evil pigeons. Also want to send a big shout out to Jenna for being my top commenter of 2013 (and for having great curls).

I genuinely enjoy writing this blog.  And I want to say thanks to the people out there who took the time to read, comment, and/or share my posts over the past year. It means a lot to me that you liked what I had to say.

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Here’s an excerpt:

The concert hall at the Sydney Opera House holds 2,700 people. This blog was viewed about 27,000 times in 2013. If it were a concert at Sydney Opera House, it would take about 10 sold-out performances for that many people to see it.

Click here to see the complete report.

(Deeply) Buried Treasures on Canadian Netflix

A typical Canadian Netflix experience:

Me: Let’s watch a movie!

Josh: Yes, let’s! Although you look so beautiful it may be hard to focus on the movie.

Me: Yes, that happens a lot. Let’s take a look through Netflix.

Josh: Good idea! I’m sure we will find one in no time with all these options.

35 minutes later

Me: Let’s just watch TV

Josh: Sounds good.

You would think with hundreds and hundreds of movies at your fingertips that your problem would be too much choice. But alas, the problem is that (Canadian) Netflix is filled with a lot of crap. You need to wade through countless terrible, terrible movies in the hopes of finding something decent, or even semi-decent to watch. It can be an exhausting and often unrewarding process.

Every now and then, however, Netflix delivers. These moments, although rare, are pretty awesome. You feel like an old friend who kept letting you down finally delivered on their promises for a change. Oh Netflix, I’m sorry I ever doubted you.  So with that in mind, I decided to share some of the recent treasures I’ve discovered on Canadian Netflix and possibly save you some searching time in the future. You’re very welcome. No, I wouldn’t consider myself a hero of the Canadian people but it is nice to be recognized for making a difference.

1. Your Sister’s Sister – Starring Mark Duplass, Emily Blunt, and Rosemarie DeWitt, Your Sister’s Sister is an extremely effective comedy-drama. Normally, I’m not really into comedy dramas because I find it hard for both genres to fit together seamlessly, but it really works here.  In the film, Iris (Blunt), invites Jack (Duplass) to spend some time alone at her family’s cabin as a year has passed since his brother’s death and he is still struggling to come to terms with the loss. However, when he arrives at the cabin, he discovers that Iris’s sister, Hannah (DeWitt), is already there. I don’t want to reveal too much, but this character-driven movie is engrossing, emotional, and an extremely honest look at the complexity of human relationships.

2. Searching for Sugar Man – Imagine if you were completely famous in another part of the world and didn’t even know. Imagine if this other part of the world also believed you were dead. Searching for Sugar Man is a fascinating documentary that will suck you in from the moment you press play. The documentary follows Stephen Segerman and Craig Strydom, two big Rodriguez fans from Cape Town, who are searching to discover what happened to their beloved musician. What they discover blew my mind, and will probably do the same for you.

3. An Education – On an unrelated side note, when I finally got up the nerve to chop my hair off, it was a photo of Carey Mulligan that I brought in for the hairdresser to use as reference. I really love this girls style. And she is an incredible actress. And this movie is also pretty incredible. An Education stars Carey Mulligan as Jenny, a young school girl in England who meets a charming, and much older man. What I really liked about this movie is that David (played by Peter Saarsgard), gives you a ‘bad feeling’ but you can’t quite put your finger on why. Is he good? Is he bad? I won’t tell you! But go forth and enjoy this movie, and Mulligan’s charm.

4. Wristcutters: A Love Story – This movie sounds like a bit of a downer, right? Yeah I can see that. But this movie is brilliant and funny and heartwarming and I just had a whole lot of fun watching it.  The premise of the movie? When you commit suicide, you end up in this parallel world that is a lot like our regular world except much bleaker. This alternate world consists of all the people who have committed suicide, and life goes on in this world in a similar way as ours – work, sleep, work, sleep, repeat. The love story part comes in when Zia (played by Almost Famous actor Patrick Fugit) discovers his ex-girlfriend (who he is still obsessed with) also committed suicide. What follows is a quest to find her, but of course it really turns into a journey of self-discovery and new friendships.

5. Hitchcock – Starring Anthony Hopkins as Hitchcock and Helen Mirren as his wife Alma, this film is loosely based on the true events surrounding the couple’s relationship while Hitchcock is filming Psycho. The story itself is fascinating, but what impressed me most was Hopkins complete transformation into the character. Seriously, he IS Hitchcock in this movie. It is unbelievable. His walk, his stance, his face, his mannerisms all scream Hitchcock. The attention to detail alone makes this movie worth a watch.

A few other treasures: The Sessions, Celeste and Jesse Forever, and Queen of Versailles. I actually already discussed these movies in my Best of 2012 list so I won’t repeat myself. If you want to re-read the commentary for any of those movies, just click here.  I was pretty excited to see such awesome additions to Netflix this year. It gives me hope that Canadian Netflix is actually working to better itself. I think as time goes on the service will continue to improve. I might be a bit hard on it from time to time, but it is pretty nice to have so much cheap entertainment directly at your fingertips.

So tell me, do you have any Canadian Netflix treasures you would like to share? Save me the searching time for my next movie night and in return I will make a shrine to you in my bedroom closet.

At the Art of the Matter

A Caution to Readers: So for some reason a full-on reflective/narrative essay started pouring out of me and I have no idea where it came from. With that in mind, you might notice that this post deviates a little from my ‘normal’ blog writing style. I hope you still enjoy and don’t fall asleep. If you do fall asleep, that is ok because writing this was pretty rewarding on a personal level. If you hate it and want me to shut up after four lines please move your curver to the red x in the upper right-hand corner of the screen and click once. Ok, now that I’ve cautioned you, I’ll begin…

Growing up, I always had a pencil in my hand. Wherever there was paper, I was close by, doodling in the margins of school assignments and covering my English notes with countless, giant eyeballs and hastily-drawn cartoon characters. In grade five, our teacher had a seemingly never-ending supply of bristol board that we could use at our leisure for drawing. This was an exciting time in my sheltered, young life. I spent recess and lunch creating. What did I create? Nothing you could classify as fine art or anything. At the time, my friends had a baffling obsession with Winnie the Pooh. The television show wasn’t airing and the books hadn’t experienced a sudden spike in popularity, but for some reason, Winnie the Pooh’s face was scattered everywhere: on binders, on t-shirts, on comforters, on pencils, on lunchboxes, on any item that could possibly appeal to the interests of an 11 year old. As a result, I spent a lot of time drawing that “silly old bear” for my friends and classmates. People were commissioning me! I was a real artist! I’d made it at last! The fact that my highest payments came from people sharing their potato chips or fruit snacks with me was irrelevant.

For a nerdy kid, I was ridiculously untidy and unorganized. In grade 8, my teacher affectionately (or at least I like to imagine it was affectionately) called me Pigpen because my books and homework overflowed from my desk and surrounded me, creating a cluttered paper moat. People couldn’t understand how someone who achieved good grades could take such terrible notes and be so disorganized. As each new school year began, I would vow to myself that I’d stay organized this year and write clearly, but inevitably the promise would be broken before September’s end. As you probably know, it all turned out okay since I successfully graduated high school and went on to finish post-secondary studies. Obviously there was a method to my madness, an organization to my disorganization that I didn’t (and still don’t) fully understand.

A major part of my disorganization came from the fact that every page of my notebooks were covered in doodles. I found I would often produce my ‘best work’ in the margins next to my biology or math notes. I think this was mainly because there was no pressure. As much as I love a crisp, clean sheet of drawing paper because of the promise it holds, I also find it intimidating. Dragging that first line of pencil across the page means you are also destroying the page’s perfection. How can my artistic efforts possibly top the simplistic beauty of the unsoiled, creamy paper?

When I began university, I started out in my usual doodling frenzy. I would listen to the professor lecture while I sketched a perfectly shaded apple in the corner of my page. My English professor in my first semester, a stern and formidable woman who used intimidation and humiliation as teaching tactics, called me out once in front of the whole class for being inattentive. I can still see the perfectly formed graphite apple on the page in front of me and her glaring eyes boring holes into mine when I finally clued in and looked up. I can still feel my face burning as I watched 25 classmates turn in their seats so they could better see who she was chastising this time. The worst part of all is that I was not even guilty, members of the jury! I was listening! I had drawn so many apples at this point that it had become a mindless habit. I left that class fuming – how dare she accuse me of not listening in a class I had paid money to attend.  Looking back, now that my rage and embarrassment has long since dissipated, I can accept that I was wrong. Obviously a professor in front of a class deserves to be respected and listened to. And even though I could draw apples with my eyes closed, this woman was most likely not aware of this charming fact about me. Despite my eventual acceptance that I was at fault, I never grew to respect her as a professor. Her teaching methods were archaic and quite frankly, ineffective and I couldn’t wait for the light at the end of the tunnel – semester’s end. This same professor would later ask me what high school I attended and when I replied, she would musingly say “but that’s a good school…” as if she was mystified by the 60% I achieved on the first in-class essay. If I hadn’t been an uneasy, inexperienced first year student, I would have explained to her calmly that her teaching methods needed to be updated to the 21st century. Instead, I vowed to myself that I would get an A in her class and I spent the rest of the semester regurgitating her lectures (because she only wanted to hear her own interpretations), and I got my A. On one hand I felt like I had really proved myself to her, but on the other hand, I felt like I had sold myself out in some way. The study of English literature wasn’t about one right answer- it was about having your own interpretation and solidly supporting it. Recently I spotted this same professor in the housewares section of Winners. Even though years had past, I still found myself filled with anxiety as I was immediately brought back to the fluorescently-lit classroom, my burning face, and my pencil apple staring up at me from the page.

That first English course made me completely reconsider my decision to pursue an English degree. I was convinced I needed to find something else to study. I had to. Clearly I wasn’t talented or capable of succeeding in this subject area if I could barely scrape an A in a beginner level course. But the next semester, my new instructor was outstanding and I rediscovered my love for the written word.

As I progressed from a first year student to a 2nd, 3rd, and 4th year, the number of mindless apples I was drawing began to decrease.

As much as I loved art, my course load was intense. Eventually I stopped attending the private art classes I had been taking to focus on my impending graduation. I was completing two degrees – Business Commerce and a BA in English, which meant I had none of the so-called ‘easy’ electives. As a result, I simply didn’t have enough time to draw apples and eyes anymore.

My margins were clear for the first time in my entire life.

I don’t mean that in a sad way. I don’t believe I took the wrong path in life. As much as I enjoy drawing and painting, I also have a genuine passion for the written word, for communications, and for marketing. I felt like studying marketing allowed me to stay in touch with my creative side while also developing  ‘marketable’ (pun intended) skills to put on a resume.

However, I think over the past couple of years I temporarily forgot how important art was to me throughout my entire life. Growing up, my pencil felt like an extension to my arm – a physical part of me. Art was simulatenously my stress reliever, boredom-eliminator, soothing campanion, and creative outlet. Now that I’ve officially finished higher education (I think), I want to rededicate myself to art. I recently rejoined the art class I took throughout high school, and I couldn’t be happier. Ginok is an amazing artist and a wonderful teacher. She is kind, insightful, and gives me the freedom to undertake whatever project I imagine. You can check out her work on her website, here. I honestly can’t rave about her enough. When I started with Ginok, I wasn’t much more advanced than Winnie the Pooh drawings, and her guidance and teaching significantly improved my skills and confidence.

I am not an artist by any means. I know I don’t possess the talent, instinct or discipline to pursue it professionally, but I’m okay with that because it is a hobby I truly love. A hobby I can lose myself in. When I’m painting or drawing or sketching, time falls away and I find hours and hours have passed and I don’t even notice.  It is an incredible feeling to experience -to be so wrapped up in something that you are no longer aware of time passing. I think I forgot what that felt like for a while, and now I don’t want to lose it ever again.

The Fruit of my Labours - my first new undertaking in Ginok's class.

The Fruit of my Labour – my first new undertaking in Ginok’s class.

Lessons from Mud Immortal: How Social Media can ‘Muddy’ up your Reputation

Since writing my last blog post, I’ve become a bit of a celebrity.  Although no one has requested an autograph yet, I expect this is due to people feeling intensely starstruck when they see me.

My blog post on Mud Immortal was clicked on over 19,000 times in less than a week. I’m really surprised my controversial post on why Kingston pigeons are out to get me didn’t receive the same response, but that is the mysterious nature of the internet for you.

If there are any new readers out there reading this… welcome! Thanks for sticking around! I should warn you, however, I am not normally ‘the voice of the people’. I occasionally touch on current events in my posts, but usually I just focus on my own area of expertise – me.  I don’t think my blog fits under any particular theme but I guess if I had to, I would categorize it as a ‘lifestyle’ blog because I write about things that happen in my life and things I’m passionate about, such as m&ms shaped like butts. Although I tend to focus on things relevant to my own life, I also try to look at the bigger picture whenever possible to try to keep things interesting. I understand that no one wants to read about what I had for breakfast yesterday (what I had for supper yesterday is a different story, though). Anyway, blog themes aside, I decided to write a concluding post on the whole Mud Immortal scandal, mainly because I thought the whole reaction to the event was fascinating, and I think there are some interesting lessons to be learned from the whole dirty, muddy, mess.

When I got home from Mud Immortal last Saturday, I had mixed emotions – I was really happy about the Big Mary meal I had just consumed but I was also really angry that Mud Immortal had been such a letdown. I wrote my last post so I could convey my frustrations. I was ‘letting it all out’ so to speak, and I found the exercise to be extremely cathartic.

The Lucky Muckers pre-race

The Lucky Muckers pre-race

Despite how satisfying it was to write down all my thoughts on the event,  I won’t be discussing Mud Immortal anymore on my blog (after today) unless something crazy happens like the founder, Jonathan Brett starts throwing twenty-dollar bills off the top of Cabot Tower while coated in mud from head to toe. I feel like I’ve said my piece on the topic and I have nothing further of value to add. I genuinely hope that Mud Immortal responds to people’s complaints and answers the many questions that were left unanswered, but I have my doubts. I think we are currently witnessing a classic PR stunt of Brett laying low until the angry villagers torches blow out.

This whole Mud Immortal fiasco is an interesting example of the power of the consumer, and the power of social media. If you aren’t satisfied with a product or service, you can let the ‘world’ know. It is an interesting time to be a business or marketer because of the new vehicles for communication a consumer can now choose from. Consumers can literally directly ‘talk’ to a company by sending a tweet or posting on a Facebook page.

Social media has completely transformed the way business and marketing is conducted, and businesses are now obligated to pay closer attention to the consumer. Why? Well for one thing, to avoid things like what just happened with Mud Immortal. I know people are still very upset about the whole thing, but honestly, I feel like the negative backlash, and as a result, the negative impact on the Mud Immortal name (and Brett’s name for that matter) is a pretty big punishment in itself. Mud Immortal had the potential to be an extremely successful business over the long-term, yet the disastrous handling of the first event, and the response from consumers has destroyed any and all credibility and value the name may have once held. Remember when that old 2006 Salon interview with the CEO of Abercrombie and Fitch went viral earlier this year? That was because of social media. The reason why it didn’t get much publicity a few years ago is simply because social media was still in the early stages of development, and as a result, the voice of the consumer was often lost. Now social media has gained an enormous amount of power, and as a result, so has the consumer. Retweeting and sharing posts takes literally zero effect, yet that simple click of a button has the power to inform and spread information like wildfire.  So what is a business to do? I know I’m not an expert, but I think the best action a business can take is to face social media head-on. Be a part of it. Be willing to take the good with the bad. Obviously threatening or rude messages should be ignored or reported, but being responsive to constructive criticism and complaints can help a business develop and improve over the long-term. Also, when a company responds to consumers directly, it signals to the consumer that the company actually cares and values what they think.

I think the ideal way Brett/Mud Immortal could have handled the failure of the event would have been to respond to consumer complaints immediately. At the event itself, Mud Immortal should have been making announcements apologizing for the bottlenecked registration area. They should have been communicating updates regarding the removal of certain obstacles.  Following the event, Mud Immortal really should have been on social media immediately to make a statement and try to respond to consumer concerns. This is especially the case in this situation since Mud Immortal was so active on social media in the months leading up to the event. The sudden silence once things went awry only left consumers upset, frustrated, and very angry.

Could a different response from Mud Immortal in the face of the failure of their first event have saved the future viability of the business? I honestly don’t know. But I think participants would have had a lot more respect for Brett/Mud Immortal if they had owned up to their mistakes right away and worked to address the big issues.

If there is anything that we as consumers can take away from this experience, I think it is that we hold immense power. We do have the ability to change what is being offered on the marketplace. If we are complacent, things won’t change. But if we speak up when we feel we’ve been wronged with respect to a particular product or service, companies are forced to listen. Alternatively, when we have a good experience, we can reward companies by speaking highly of them and purchasing again.

And on the business side of this situation, I just hope the organizers of Mud Immortal realize just how important customer relationship management really is. You can’t overpromise to 5000 consumers, undeliver, and then expect no consequences. What good is your business if your name is mud?

A picture really can be worth 1000 words! Matt's face says it all.

A picture really can be worth 1000 words! Matt’s face says it all.