Author Archive: Justin Dechaine

Our Manitoba trip

Janelle and I had the utmost pleasure in getting out to visit our fantastic family out in Manitoba this summer. I got to tell you that every time I end up around Winnipeg in August I totally want to move back…then I visit in February and I’m all good and couldn’t imagine another year there! 🙂

If we do end up going the Tiny House on wheels route we’ll for sure spend a summer out there 🙂

Without further adieu please see the below:




Why Amazon is better than the local bookstore.

I recently wanted to buy 10 copies of a book that was very important to me and distribute them out as gifts this holiday season.

As I am a huge ‘buy local” enthusiast my first thought was to head down to my (last) local bookstore and ask them for a price on 10 copies. They came back with an estimate of $160 and “they would call me in a few weeks when it was in”. I then went over to Amazon and realized I could have those same books…delivered to my door within 2 days for about $60 less.

That’s a pretty big difference and it really got me thinking about buying local vs amazon when it comes to books. So I wanted to create a list that summarized all of the major points that were important to me and see which one would win.


Winner: Amazon

This one isn’t too much of a surprise that Amazon wins based purely on the book cover price…we all know they are cheaper. But I’m also a big fan of looking at the “hidden costs” of an item and I have many many times paid a premium for a local service so why not this time? Well…the book isn’t printed here locally…the author probably isn’t local either…also…the dollars I “save” here by using Amazon will almost assuredly be spent locally. At best a couple of dollars might be put into the local community…into arguably a pretty inefficient business.


Customer service:

Winner: Tie

You probably thought that I would have given this to the local store….they are great and there is something about wandering around a store sipping a coffee and getting a personal recommendation. The problem with a personal recommendation by a single book dweeb is that it’s really more his opinion than understanding of your own tastes…Amazon has complex formula’s from hundreds (or thousands) of reviews and buying history.There is no way the local book dweeb can compete with that and in my own experience Amazon is way more accurate at suggesting something I would enjoy.

Now I do love the fact that my local bookstore has an area for authors to come in and talk to the public..I’ve used that space many a time in fact…this is something that Amazon simply can’t compete with. Naysayers will say if we don’t support the local bookstore this type of facility would disappear…I would argue that the cost even for this single purchase could rent me an appropriate space for an evening.


Winner: Amazon

We all “know” that a local bookstore is a pivotal part of a neighborhood and community and encourages people to read more books…or does it? Nope actually people that use Amazon/Kindle read more books. It’s just so easy…maybe it’s a sign of myself getting older but after a bottle of wine now instead of going out to the club I might hop onto my kindle and buy 2-3 books. Checking my kindle the next morning to find out what I bought is way better than the fear of what text messages I might have sent!

Amazon can of course draw on a huge amount of physical space that would dwarf any real bookstore.

Final Thoughts:

The Minimalist in me also loves the appeal of e-books…but the anti-mega corporation part of me is concerned that once Amazon has ran everyone out of business they will no longer have the same level of customer service/amenities and cost savings they once did. So those concerns cancel themselves out. For now I still plan to use both…books that I


I also want to give an Honorable mention to Albrahama books here in Edmonton, they are a fantastic local bookstore but have really carved out a niche that sets them apart in dealing with older hard to find books…most of the above does not apply to them. In fact I think bookstores are going to have to really work hard (but that it’s totally doable) to diversify their business. Get more authors in…get prices down…setup coffee shops instore…offer things amazon can’t.


In case anyone is wondering the book I was Great Idea’s “Where I lived and what I lived for” by Thoreau. I know it’s almost cliche but have to say that this book is one of the most important I have ever read. I actually carry a copy on me almost always.


How to organize clothes

I had planned to do a great post on folding clothes ala “The Art of Tidying” via KonMari but found a new favorite blogger so instead decided to post a link to her really nice article;

Besides 4 big hairy swears I love to swear using this method I got down to a single drawer….which I’m pretty impressed by..though I am still finding my dress shirts get pretty wrinkly so not sure what to do…go back to hanging or maybe I should just get used to ironing in the morning?

fold DSC01476 DSC01477

I’m making tomato sauce! :)

Janelle and I both have been on a big kick and looking at things that we buy regularly and seeing if we can do it better…cheaper…and healthier….pasta sauce is one of those things that can be a bit time consuming to whip up properly which is why it’s best to do huge batches of it. And since we recently acquired a new apartment sized freezer we now have enough space to store more great stuff like this.

(I have canned pasta before but it’s got a few more steps to it and really isn’t as space effective.)

I was considering posting a recipe here…but at the end of the day I think you all know what goes into pasta…experiment…taste it along the way…add things you think would work well together…if in doubt…throw some honey in.

Why I don’t have a cell phone.

My mother recently got a cell phone and sent some of me her first texts just a few months ago, I find it somewhat synchronize that I’ve decided at the same time to give up my cell phone and move back to a basic landline (well voip). I’ve been toying and experimenting with the idea for sometime and have decided to take the plunge.

I mentioned I was getting rid of my cell phone at work the other day and have rarely seen such looks of total disbelief and , dare I say, horror? So I thought I’d put together this post detailing why I have decided to eliminate a cell phone from my daily usage.


I’ve always been a big advocate of trying a fast of certain things, it might be TV, booze, sex, facebook, fastfood, but I think it’s important to test ourselves occasionally in order to find out if things are really improving our lives. I don’t think people realize just how addicted they are to their cell phone….people DIE or KILL others because they can’t wait a few minutes to get to their destination and would rather focus on typing out a text while driving a several thousand pounds of steel down the freeway….think about that…serious? Even when I had my cell I would at least toss it into the backseat while driving.

The other day I saw someone at work (who commutes 40 minutes one way) hop into her car in a panic to drive home and pick up her forgotten cell phone once she got to work…now keep in mind…this person did not have any pressing scenario where this was required…and she sat at a desk with a phone only a few inches from her hand….

On the weekend I attended a fantastic little backyard bbq put on by some great friends here but the entire time a couple sat by the firepit and stared down at their phones…the husband and wife never talking to anyone else except in a few grunts, maybe an occasionally chuckle as they’d show each other a pinterest or funny cat in a hat…totally ignoring all others around them..even their kid screaming and running around in circles…not forming new memories but merely trying to sort through an immense and endless library of strangers experiences.

I think people have an intense fear of being left out..even when they are out with people they will still think that there is something else..someone else….that would complete this experience so are never in the NOW but always in the “what if…”. I experienced this myself the other day when I was sitting by myself at a favourite haunt…I kept thinking “if I only had my cell…if I was only connected….then I could reach out or tell the world where I was……” and then all of my friends and strangers would join me….and interrupt the book I was enjoying reading….. I had one friend that would always invite me out for a beer…but then I’d get there and she’d be on her phone trying to get someone else down…then they would get here…then back on the phone…get another one…one more…another one… more…then do a quick selfie and photoshoot to put on your social media highlight reel then walk out…..all the time only being partial involved again in the NOW of the moment.

People got along without cell phones and an instant connection for generations and arguably where able to form better, longer lasting, more substantial relationships without them than we do today.


I realize that worldwide cell service is fairly competitive but here in just blows….Janelle and I both had cell phones since 2004 through Rogers…let’s say our average bill was $170 a month (very low estimate) for both of them…that means I’ve spent over $20,000 on cell phones in the last decade….do I feel that was a worthwhile investment? Maybe…but when I really started paying attention to my bill this last year I realized I only sent maybe 15 texts a month…and my talk time sometimes was only 30 minutes or less….data was used up…but frankly mostly on stupid stuff that I don’t really feel make me a better person (hello chive).

Switching to a landline will cost me about $4 a month…in total..and because I am using a VOIP service it’s actually still quite a bit more robust (despit some quirks) than a normal phone #

$4 vs $175 a month….savings of approx $2050 a year…I’m checking flight centre right now and that means if Janelle and I could do this…we could fly to Hawaii for a week ($1050 roundtrip for both of us) and still have a grand left to spend the a week exploring the island….HELL YAH…or just retire a year early…

Money is energy in a manner of speaking, choose carefully where you want to spend it.


First of, I should say I am a rationale, analytical skeptic and am very doubtful of claims that cell phones cause health issues…but on the other hand…..the medical community as a whole doesn’t have a great track record of getting things correct (4 out of 5 doctors recommend camels) so one less thing to be close to my nads or brain can’t be anything but good.


Tinfoil hat much? I dunno….I don’t have much to hide but I’ll admit I use cash for pretty much everything and all my data is pretty encrypted. While I am a Canadian so don’t live in quite the Orwellian society that the US is becoming I still place a high value on my privacy and don’t think any government should be able to track it’s citizen’s usage to the extent they are likely doing.  Less cell phone use = more privacy.

Environmental/Cultural Awareness:

Cell Phones are not good for the environment, they are a perfect example of planned obsolesce with model and after model being introduced with minor incremental changes but due to their marketing and social pressure one must never be caught with last seasons model. These things are full of lead, copper, cobalt and other nasty heavy metals. Metals that are often mined in significantly poorer countries with lax workplace regulation…then when these phones are “recycled” they are again sent back to these same countries.


Don’t text me, I won’t get it. You can use one of a half dozen other ways to get ahold of me and can still dial my number, leave a message and I’ll return it (if I want) pretty quick. Even come knock on my door once in awhile and come in and we can have a conversation over a cup of tea. I might end up going back to my cell phone someday…they can be pretty fun and a useful tool…but at this time in my life it just doesn’t make sense to me right now. Can I suggest you try going without your cell # for a couple of days? You might realize you have an issue or at that very least that owning a cell phone is an assumption that should be challenged.

and yes…I think I will survive when my car breaks down on the side of the road…I doubt I will starve to death…