FASTER, FASTER…… by Tracy Hogg

So when did the world get so fast?joey-kyber-121699-FAST

When did we start needing everything instantaneously?

This week my daughter had to use the clothes dryer for the first time in her life.  Something I was doing on a regular basis in my youth, at least 2 years younger than she is now.

Despite being completely adept at electronics, she looked at our LG like it was an ancient torture device from the 17th century.  I told her what buttons to push and she immediately started screaming at me “how long will it take, how long will it take?”  Apparently even the most up to date appliances with “quick cycles” aren’t good enough or fast enough now.

We are a fairly modern family, lots of devices and appliances, my husband and I are both online people with multiple irons in the fire.  We blog, we do social media, we post and reach out electronically, perhaps even more so than our kids.  Yet, we don’t expect everything instantly and we have the ability to unplug, my kids do not.

If we go somewhere, my kids want devices – god forbid if they had to look out the window at the world.  My son actually missed that we had left Canada on one road trip, finally sticking his head up from the 3rd row seat of our van, many hours after crossing the border when we had reached southern Vermont, and said, “hey Dad, I don’t think we are in Canada anymore, I can’t pick up any free Wi-Fi“.  (rolling eyes…I am so proud..).


With my kids, if there is still 5 minutes left before dinner is ready when I call them, they want to go back to a video game.   And if we get to a movie before the trailers are playing, they talk about being bored.  Come to think of it, they talk about being bored a lot.  Personally, I can’t remember the last time I was bored.

I have been looking at all the media lately pushing FAST or INSTANT stuff.  From Instant Pots (which I confess still look cool), to faster Wi-Fi from your cable provider, to tools or equipment that work quicker or charge faster than the previous generation of tools.  Nobody waits for snail mail anymore, emails are faster, we can’t even fax documents anymore because scanning and emailing is quicker.  Even getting a coffee goes from super fast to lightening speed these days as promised by Tim Hortons see Timmy speed.

In this age, new APPS or games download in seconds to your phone or device, and if it takes longer than 10 seconds in our house somebody yells “is something wrong with the Wi-Fi“?   We want mortgages quoted over the internet in 3 minutes or less,  same for buying insurance online without even talking to someone. Why does it have to be 3 minutes or less…?

Sharing has also become a new and quick phenomenon, and nobody waits till they are home from their vacation to share photos, they show them the same minute from the beach.  People you would never have shared your “photo album” with years ago; now have access to your entire life, in seconds.  And we know what they think of those photos just as quickly.

And our kids are scheduled to the max.  I used to think my daughter in competitive dance 12-15 hours a week was crazy until I started talking to the parents of some of her peers; who keep their kids completely occupied from 8am to 6pm even on Saturday and Sundays.  Nobody ever slows down.

Sadly, I think it is our fault, we have kept the technological advances going at a furious pace, sales and pre-order levels demanding the next iPhone before the current one is even on the market.  We have kept our children busy at an even faster pace, because the busier they are, the safer they are, as my generation of parents believe.

I tried to think about what stuff we actually do WAIT for these days, it’s a pretty short list.  Perhaps a response to something from the Government, your income tax refund (unless you use an instant tax refund service), results from an important health test that was quick to do but takes days or an agonizing week or two for the results, an appointment with a specialist, and sometimes job interview responses.  Everything else seems to be fast or drive thru speed.

We even post “wait” times for service everywhere, from getting passports, or for crossing at a Border, how long you have been on a page online, or how long it will take you to complete an application on-line, or how long companies will take them to answer your call.  Do they think knowing will make it more tolerable for us; or is it to get you to give up and try later?

I think it is time to teach everyone to take a deep breath and maybe, slow down a little.  My kids aren’t comfortable in their own skin when you unplug them.  I fear my kids’ generation will be riddled with “waiting fatigue or waiting stress” in epidemic proportions if stuff doesn’t happen instantly for them.  None of them can just sit and many of them can’t be alone.  None of them understand the beauty of a fresh cup of tea on a sunny afternoon, where you can just stare at a willow tree swaying in the breeze; or the serenity of sitting on the edge of a dock, dangling your toes in a quiet lake on a summer morning, all by yourself.

Don’t get me wrong, I am guilty of “FASTER”.  My phone cable wasn’t charging my cell fast enough this week and I found myself ordering a FAST charger from Amazon, and then was totally annoyed when it didn’t show up in the usual delivery time of 24-48 hr., but instead 4 days later.  WTF?

Clearly, I need to unplug and go make a cup of tea now.  Breathe, just breathe…….


FREE photos courtesy of UNSPLASH, Joey Kyber, Rawpixel, and NeONBRAND.

blog # 4, TJ Hogg





It is 10 o’clock, do you know what your kids are doing?

by TRACY HOGG *COM0011tristan-colangelo-39719 10oclock
I was fortunate to attend a free seminar this week, the topic of discussion was “Teenage Mental Health 101“, presented by Dr. Stan Kutcher, psychiatrist, at a local school in Whitby.
Clearly I was not the only parent concerned about the what seems to be ever-increasing teenage suicide rates and the social pressure teens face today.
Many parents asked Dr. Kutcher about today’s suicide rate and I personally was surprised by the stats. He first asked the audience, what do you think it is? Feverish parents threw up their arms and offered 5, 15, 25, 30 or even 40% of the teenage population as answers.  The real answer will surprise you; according to Dr. Kutcher, teenage suicide has actually dropped 35% over the last 3 decades; and that only 5 out of 100,000 teenage deaths or .00005% are attributed to suicide. Although he did qualify it by saying that in the last few years the numbers of teenage girl suicides has started to trend upward, but it is still a very low number in the general population.
So why do we as a society think the rates are increasing? Easy, SOCIAL MEDIA. We get so many plays, tweets, and shares of these alarming cases that to our untrained eyes and ears the amount of them is going up. And what is the underlying catalyst to a lot of these suicides; social media, bullying, public humiliation, shaming, depression, social isolation….but ultimately, a teenager unable to cope one more day.
So how do parents raise teenagers with good mental health? Dr. Kutcher’s formula for raising a healthy teenager was pretty simple; they need a lot sleep (9-10 hour minimum a night during the school week, uninterrupted sleep I might add, 12 hours on weekends is okay; they’re catching up).  Kids don’t learn well, can’t make good decisions, or have a positive frame of mind; without good restorative sleep.

The other ingredients – healthy nutrition, a trusted parent or adult to rely on when the going gets tough, healthy peer relationships (activities with real humans, not reaching out to people on social media), and regular daily exercise.  It is just that simple!

Good mental health as it was explained to me, is about being able to cope, being adaptable, and learning to handle everyday life. It is not about being perpetually happy, life can be ugly and tough, mental health is about how you handle the bad times. Being strung out all night, lacking in sleep, perpetually on social media; much of it often negative, can’t give our kids the arsenal they need to protect themselves.

As older and admittedly stricter parents, we have tried hard to establish good sleep habits with our kids and limit the number of hours they spend online. Every night in our house, each shiny piece of technology sits in a ceramic bowl on my night stand. The kids regularly file by and empty their pockets on the way to bed. This includes phones, iPod, portable gaming systems, tablets/iPads, you name it. I do an inventory to make sure it’s all turned in, occasionally, I have to go to my son’s room and ask for a missing piece before he turns out the lights. He smiles but always antes up. He wouldn’t be a teenager if he didn’t test the boundaries once in a while.
But from the audience reaction, my husband and I are clearly odd duck parents. My best guestimate from a show of hands was 80-90% of parents in the seminar allowed kids to sleep with phones or tablets.  Even worse than no tech, as the “cruelest parents ever don’t you know“….(words spoken more than once at our house), we still make our 12 and 14-year-old go to bed at 9:45pm on a school night, without fail.
The vigorous discussion in the room caused me to flashback to my own childhood and the rules my parents set.  Replays of TV public service announcements when I was young and living at home like “It’s 10 o-clock, do you know where your kids are“? commercials, Youtube 10 oclock come to mind. Back then, many of us were still out roaming the streets in the early evening, and you went home when the streets light came on, which was pretty close to 10pm in the summertime. But you had to be home by 8 or 9 pm on a school night or you were grounded. And when we went to bed, we went to bed to sleep, no electronics or devices!
These days, it seems kids barely leave the house on their own, and as parents maybe we need a reboot of those old commercials, something more fitting for the times like…. “its 10 o’clock, do you know what your kids are doing“?

My husband and I regularly talk about some of the things we have done wrong as parents, and believe me, we have much work to do in other areas. But maybe, just maybe, we got the sleep with no tech thing right, at least for our kids.
I have the old 1979 NICK LOWE song “Cruel to be kind” on repeat in my head as I write this.  I regularly re-run it as my parenting mantra, whenever I hear a teenager groan about rules.  But tonight, like every night, the TECH bowl beside me is overflowing with devices, it is 10 o’clock, and yes, I know what my kids are doing, they’re asleep!


Free Photos courtesy of UNSPLASH – Tristan Colangelo & Luke Porter photographers

Based on group discussion and excerpts during Teenage MENTAL HEALTH 101, at Trafalgar Castle School, Tuesday February 13th, 7-9pm, by Dr. Stan Kutcher.

I want to be a dog!

 girlwithdog         COM0011    BLOG # 2 – By Tracy Hogg

Does your pet travel?

I was amazed recently at a major news and social media headlines that talked about an emotional support peacock being denied a seat on an airplane.   How silly I remember thinking, who would take a bird on a plane.

I want to clearly state that I am not an animal hater.  I grew up with dogs, big dogs; cats as well.  And I truly understand the need for companionship, protection, and family life with a pet.

During a trip to Phoenix last week however, my animal patience and senses were tested by people travelling with their pets.  The first irk was being barked at by 2 different dogs as I walked down the aisle of my southbound plane searching for my seat.

My second OMG moment came checking into my hotel.  A lady in front of me, with a full luggage trolley and an accompanying hotel bell-cap; was adjusting and re-adjusting items from her luggage to try to make her Chihuahua more comfortable in his rolling pet carrier.  The poor bell-cap was standing there, frozen in disbelief, along with me and everyone else waiting in the check-in line; for FLUFFY to be more comfortable so we could all check into the hotel.

After a week in the sunshine I once again returned to the airport and last call before boarding the return plane was a stop in the ladies’ room.  In front of me, a lady took 2 dogs into a bathroom stall.  All I could do was stare (with raised eyebrows I am sure).  The lady in the lineup next to me whispers in my ear, “so I guess you aren’t a dog lover?”  “Not in the bathroom”, I mumbled.

Lining up, boarding passes checked, passport looked at (please don’t mind the prison matron look on the passport photo, yes, that really is me), and we start our way down the gang-plank to the plane.  A long queue of people stops dead.  A mother at the bottom of the walkway is struggling with a stroller, 3 Air Canada attendants are helping her with what appears to be a ton of gear and stuff.  I assumed from the back of the line she had a couple of babies or toddlers with her.  After an 8-minute wait for at least 20-30 of us on the gang-way, time and attention of multiple attendants, and she lifts out a little tea-cup poodle from the collapsible stroller.

These events prompted me to do some research when I got home about travelling with pets and emotional support peacocks.  What are the rules?  And when exactly did we start allowing dogs in bathrooms etc.?

It was an eye-opening experience for me.  There is a plethora of websites dedicated to the safe and comfortable travelling of our pets all over the world, even a dog friendly hotel rating website.

My even greater surprise came surfing social media to find pets that have their own social media pages.  DEXTER the emotional support peacock, for example, has his own Instagram page (see my jpeg below) with, quite frankly, more followers than I do.

As someone who had one pet or another for the first 35 years of her life, but none in the last 18 years, I was astonished at what I read.  There are social media posts, websites, blogs and groups all over the internet to support pet owners.  Checkout Facebook groups like “A dog abroad: travelling with pets” which boasts almost 1400 members, or pages called “Travel Dogs Europe”.

Reading many of the hotel and airline rules about travelling with pets, it seems a simple set of rules, if Fido or Fifi fit their size parameters, you can bring them.   My guess is the emotional support Peacock didn’t fit the grid.

I am oblivious as to when we became such a pet friendly world.  And I am not sure who all these haute couture, world travelling animals are; but in my next life I want to be at the front of the line, wearing my dog bling, in my luxurious rolling pet carrier, with a ton of people fussing over me.



1st photo – (FREE Photo Courtesy of UNSPLASH – photographer Pete Bellis)

JPEG of DEXTERTHEPEACOCK from Instagram, TJH photographer.




So, you think you know how to advertise on Facebook?

COM0011    By Tracy Hoggsocialmedia

So, you are a new author, or a small business entrepreneur; and you think you will advertise on Facebook and Instagram to promote your book, product or website business.  Unless you have experience advertising, and are completely confident using social media, consider hiring a professional social media manager.

You will find dozens of articles written by recently newbie authors, who like you, are trying the “self-promotion” trail.  Most of them learned the hard way.  What you don’t know can hurt your bottom line.  FACEBOOK is an excellent tool for reaching customers, but unless you understand how FACEBOOK uses algorithms and can choose to weight your advertising dollar, you can spend money in the wrong places, with little success to show for it. 

One example, say you want to spend $50 a day advertising a new book or product, you think you are setting your FACEBOOK ad criteria with the audience relevant to your topic/product, an appropriate age group for your ideal customer, and then pick the countries for the best take-up or exposure.  But what you don’t count on is FACEBOOKs’ own interest algorithms which will predominantly weight the majority of your $50 for each day, in the cheapest of the 2 countries (say INDIA for this example) to advertise with only token exposure in the more expensive country (say USA).   You would have been better off, doing 2 separate ADS for the same total dollar in 2 separate countries, and achieved the type of exposure you would want for your product or business.  This is the type of scenario a professional social media manager is on top of and is only one example of the mistakes a newbie can make. 

And this is only week one, once you start advertising, to get the most bang for your buck, you must be ready to do the weekly analytics of successful click through rates, and determine take-up rates by gender, age, area, country, etc., to determine where to best spend your advertising dollars the next week.

Social media marketing is an ever-changing landscape.  FACEBOOK (who owns Instagram as well) has also just changed the rules for advertising yet again for 2018, making it even harder for small businesses to get advertising priority.    In this blogging opinion, using a professional social media marketing manager is a good investment in yourself and your business, so your hard-earned advertising dollars don’t end up in cyberspace!