Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Living wage ends the practice of tipping.

My wife works in the restaurant business.  She makes minimum wage plus tips.  Even though she brings home more than 15 an hour with tips the government would put her wage at our current minimum wage in Alberta which is currently below the 15 an hour so called living wage.   If what we hear in the media is to be believed those in the restaurant industry are going to have trouble affording the increase in wages.  Logically you would surmise the easy answer would be just to increase prices however this could cause your restaurant to out price it's target demographic leading to a loss of sales.  The counter argument is everyone else will have to raise there prices and thus the target demographic will return as the grass is not always greener elsewhere.

The less obvious choice is to include the tips everyone gets from kitchen staff to the wait staff as part of their hourly wage.  You are suppose to include your tips in your yearly taxes yet employers do not get the benefit of being able to say with tips our workers are making more than 15 an hour.  Thus the only solution for those restaurant owners who do not want to raise their prices is to hard wire tips into the bill and include them in worker's paychecks.  Meaning someone like my wife who was making 12 an hour plus 8 an hour in tips would be seen as making 20.00 an hour.  The restaurant does not have to raise it's prices as the change to tips being hardwired into the bill more accurately reflects what people are paid.

To those who argue that tips are a variable that changes I say hogwash.  We are Canadian and non-confrontational by nature.  Even when food and service sucks we leave a tip to avoid having to deal with the consequence of not tipping or complaining about food/service.  In many ways we are taught to leave a bad review, or shame on social media instead of directly talking to someone.  On the flip side those who want tips to motivate them to work hard get a good life lesson.  Most jobs in life have the expectation you will work hard for a fair wage.  Not getting a handout at the end is part of life and not an excuse to give less excellence in service.  There are other ways to keep people motivated than 5.00 at the end of a meal which ends up being 2.00 after you tip out kitchen staff.  With the new living wage reality coming to Alberta, restaurant owners don't really have a choice as people won't always pay more.

On a personal level this brings me to shaved ice and how much am I going to pay people to bring the cool to the people of Alberta.   You might think I would pay a student whatever the current minimum wage to work.  I really want to have all the wages I pay at 15 an hours ahead of it having to be 15 an hour as I believe by giving employees a better wage you get better workers as they can afford to eat.  By eating you get the energy you need to work hard.  There is also an element of pride that comes from getting paid a living wage.  Instead of seeing all your money go to rent, you have enough to enjoy a movie with friends, thus living a more enjoyable life.  Shaved ice requires happy people to make it as it is one of those bright, colorful and fun winter treats on a hot summer's day.  If you haven't contributed to my shaved ice crowdsourcing campaign or even heard of it you better hurry.  Don't miss your chance to be a part of the erniebcools story.  Click here to go to ATB BoostR and help keep Alberta COOL!!!

Master Iceman

Tuesday, December 27, 2016

Nobody in Edmonton knows what Hawaiian Shaved Ice is.

bring the cool to Alberta
Shaved ice, Hawaiian shaved ice, blank stairs is what you get from most folk I have talked to in Alberta, mostly Edmonton.  How do you describe without experiencing the power of ice giving our favorite flavors and textures an added kick of coolness.  CBC writes about sausage, salami, some sort of luncheon meat but not shaved ice cause they don't know what shaved ice is.  It is snow you can make into a snowball which unlike snow cones holds the flavor of the syrups you poor on top.  A snow cone the fun is in the bottom.  Shaved ice the bottom can be ice cream, fruit, candy and even sweet beans.. don't ask. My wife is Filipino and I will never understand her pallet.  People come from different places in the world and like different flavors.  Shaved ice is universal except in Canada where their use to be more snow than sun.

I know one of the former owners of Polar Ice before Arctic bought the company.  He can't work in the ice industry but is a good guy.  Big, strong, hard worker and genuinely wants his clients to succeed.  I wanted to see if he would be interested to contributing to my shaved ice campaign as Hawaiian shaved ice does not compete with Arctic.  Nope, the has not heard of shaved ice as in the ice cream wrapped in a blanket of snowball snow drizzled in sweetness.  I want to say fish markets use shaved ice and thus he likely would of gotten calls about it when he was in the industry.  Sadly the dessert, the winter treat on a hot summers day which works with liquor is named poorly.  The good name was stolen from snow cones which uses crushed ice.


Just go to my shaved ice crowdsourcing campaign.  If Dave Mowat the CEO of ATB wants to help make Alberta cooler so should you.  If the beer as in the beer festivals wants the shaved ice then isn't it a good idea for you to follow suit.  Go to ATB BoostR's and contribute to erniebcools now.. The beer has spoken!!!

The Master Iceman

Thursday, December 22, 2016

Beer has spoken and it wants shaved ice

Crowdsourcing is about the story of a group of people coming together to build or create something new.  In our case at Columbia Ice, the new is a shaved ice concession cart, aka ice cream wrapped in a blanket of snow drizzled in sweetness.  Originally I had hoped to get the festivals that make our city great to contribute to erniebcools.  I wanted to use their contribution as an introduction to how much these events and festivals do for our city.  We live in a time when festival costs are going up and the not-for-profits behind them need more support from our city council.  Pleading with the city has not worked, at least based on news stories I have read so I figured a nice, positive story about festivals coming together to build a small alberta business might apply pressure through a positive story.

Sadly xmas is not a good time to try to communicate with a lot of festivals.   Really not a good time to run a crowdsourcing campaign as Santa is far more exciting than shaved ice.  Even those you get a hold of are so stressed over money it is hard to get them to be open to an outside the box idea like crowdsourcing a shaved ice cart even though they get more than the cost of the reward in shaved ice.  Just like love is about timing and circumstance, so too is crowdsourcing so my grand idea of having festivals build erniebcools in the winter is bad timing.  I had to do my crowdsourcing campaign in the winter so I have time to build the shaved ice concession cart.  

In life there are always exceptions to every rule... and the example is the good folk behind the Alberta Beer Festivals(ABF) in Edmonton, Calgary and Banff.   ABF also puts on two fantastic Octoberfests which make a pretty boring month a little more fun.  When I sent an email to Trevor at ABF he went onto ATB BoostR and pre-bought 120.00 worth of ice for a 100.00.  Just for supporting our crowdsourcing campaign Alberta Beer Festivals come out ahead and get to be a part of job creation in Edmonton.  That is pretty awesome if you ask me which would make sense if you have ever met the ABF agents who are pretty awesome people.  Next time you get a chance to enjoy a beer festival or octoberfest in Alberta know the money you spend is going to people who show their affection to the great province of Alberta through the action of helping others succeed like Columbia Ice and erniebcools.  

The Master Iceman

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

How war in the middle east affects Edmonton Festivals.

Laughable at first thought to think western imperialism in the middle east would have consequences at home here in Edmonton at festivals we love.  Every large grouping of people, from festivals to sporting events has had to increase the amount they spend on security as all the wrong person needs is a smartphone to attract the right type of disenchanted individual.  Born from media carefully put together using the extreme images, words and ideologies to give hope to one who has none.  In God's name kill and you shall be rewarded with whatever.. My response would be no, I am going to hell, more ice sales, however when I was younger and looked to religion, I can understand how desperation makes bad men out of moral.  It is hard to find meaning in a world that is so confusing.  For those who do not fit, don't have that one connection the voices of the shadows can be strong in making seemingly intelligent people stupid.  

Those who run Heritage days, Taste of Edmonton, Fringe and others all have to worry about every person with a bag, bottle of water, truck I guess now.  This means taking all reasonable precautions which starts with more police onsite.  Ask our Police Chief and he will tell you it is expensive putting cops on the street.  Someone has to pay for it and from what I can tell reading the news is there is not enough money for cops as is.  If festivals need security then they will have to pay for it themselves even though the reason festivals need more security is no fault of their own.  It is a different world when a truck and a gas pedal become death's tool.  What is a festival to do?  What happens when it is no longer financially viable to run a Heritage days or Taste of Edmonton?  Where is the money going to come from to make up the difference between what is brought in and what goes out?

Price of most stuff at festivals is already pretty high.  Vendors don't get rich and the not for profit behind the scenes can only ask for so much.   Logically the city would have a budget for events, festivals and the like.  Some of this money is used to help support local, born in Edmonton, come to expect year after year, part of the fabric of the city festivals we become quite attached to and then the oddball events like Red Bull Crashed Ice, Triathlon festival... which actually sounds fun.  You drink for the half a day a triathlon takes.  The real competition really is how many allycat golds can you drink from the gun to the first finisher.  The issue that the people behind the born in Edmonton events have is essentially how much of the pie is going to the out of town, one time events like that extreme biking event last summer.  It just does not make sense in any meaningful way to take a habitat away from ducks and geese, making it into a pool and then back to a habitat.  Some want a beach showing once again how wrong the way we see the world has become to nature.  Instead of learning to peacefully co-exist we take over more of there territory.  I loved watching geese at hawrelak park.  I loved walking across the bridge with my dogs to a really awesome dog park.

The notion you could use volunteers to manage the traffic at heritage days is asinine.  You want to see the best of edmonton, then see how fast, how efficient the EPS and ETS work together to get everyone out of the park fast and safe.  I want a cop with a gun at the entrance to Hawrelak park not a volunteer.  Nobody in Germany thought in my country, like nobody in France, or anywhere else in the west where stupid happened.  Terrorism shatters this reality we are safe and secure.  Smart folk, the lucky or crazy few who take on dealing with the crazy musicians, small business owners, people of every nationality and even a crazy iceman or two to put on Blues, Rock Fest, Interstellar along with the big fish Heritage Days and Taste of Edmonton would be devastated if anything happened at their festivals.  This is Alberta where we think ahead, plan for the unexpected and that includes more real cops in plain clothes and uniform. Someone has to pay for this.  It is only reasonable that some would come from all parties involved.

The city of Edmonton needs to be more of an active partner in covering the increase security costs.  If this means investing less money in bringing to Edmonton the one time are nice but can't even remember the name events, so be it.  I know the crazy few we elect to run our city want to make a name for themselves.  Photo ops, being able to say I brought yada, yada, yada to Edmonton being important for reelection.  Make a name for yourself by having not for profits praise you instead of ask suppliers to cut prices pushing out the small business owner, leaving the same, boring, big brand crap that is already shoved down our throats.

Master Iceman
Checkout my crowdsourcing campaign

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

I am running a crowdsourcing campaign to bring shaved ice to Alberta.

I get bored and so upon occasion I google.  When I google I find something like shaved ice which if we had here at Edmonton Festivals would increase ice sales.  I could wait for someone else to do it but to often people who want the local community to support them do not support the local community back by supporting local business.  I have seen that happen enough to know that if I really wanted to increase ice sales I would have to bring shaved ice, ice cream wrapped in a blanket of flavored snow to Edmonton myself.  The only problem is I do not have the funds to build a shaved ice concession cart so I went on ATB BoostR and now I am crowdsourcing the shave ice cart.

So far in a week and 3 days I have raised over a 1000.00.  Kind of scary actually thinking about being successful... With friends, family and colleagues contributing to shaved ice I have a responsibility to deliver... I am also a little excited because shaved ice allows for creativity in that you can create whatever variations you can imagine.

If you happen to be a stranger, do not know me and want to be part of the erniebcools story  Any help would be most appreciated.

Stay COOL!

The Iceman

Thursday, December 1, 2016

Tzeporah Berman gives oil sands advisory board legitimacy.

Unlike Brian Jean of the Wildrose and Jason Kenny of the Progressive Conservatives, I appreciate different perspectives on the oil advisory board in Alberta.  There are a great deal of Canadians who care a whole lot about the environment and do believe unfettered capitalism is reckless without taking into account the effect that capitalism will have on the environment.  We only have one world and if we don't practice better stewardship than we won't even have that.  Pipelines sound great but for many of us there is a moment of pause needed to consider the long-term environmental consequences of pipelines.  Too often mankind has a habit of doing first and then realizing later there were adverse consequences.

Jason Kenny and Brian Jean in their single-minded focus on job creation are acting as if climate change is a myth that we do not need to deal with and thus they do not speak to people like me who are leaning to supporting pipelines if and only if environmental issues are taken into account.  For an oil advisory board to seem legitimate and garner my support, a person like Tzeporah Berman is needed.  If the PC's were in power, based on Alberta's history, I would expect an oil advisory board to be full of oil execs.  People who champion oil, enviromental issues be dammed.  Having a contrarian opinion gives me comfort as I know the large group of Canadians who are fighting for greener Canada will have a voice.  This contrary voice will counter the oil, oil, oil enviroment be dammed voice that those who share ideological leanings of a Brian Jean or Jason Kenny seem to have.  Call Tzeporah a check and balance giving our enviroment a voice.  I don't have to agree with her but I know she will at least stand up for mother nature even in the face criticism from those who need everyone to think and act alike.  I like the fact that some of the NDP would logically not be a 100% behind pipelines because not all Albertans or Canadians are a 100% behind pipelines.  Different perspectives provide a check and balance.

I don't want to live in a Canada where everyone thinks, acts, talk and looks alike.  I love our diversity of religion, races, cultures and perspectives.  It is only through the converging of diffferent opinions we find common ground in the middle as we seem to have in regards to pipelines.  Yes, we have a carbon tax to push industry to be greener but the reward is economic investment in the creation of pipelines giving us better access to markets who give us a better price on oil.  The only reason Justin Trudeau and Rachel Notely were able to achieve the possibility of pipelines was because they represented the diverse perspectives of all Canadians.  When it comes to pipelines you need the people on the fence to show support.  Those who are for pipelines are already on board and represented in Alberta.  Those who have felt their voice muzzled, opinions dimissed, on the side of the enviroment, have never felt like they were represented in govt committees around oil, need the contrarian.  For this group of Canadians, growing larger and larger in numbers daily as the effects of Global Warming become more obvious an enviroment champion is needed to get pipelines built without screwing mother nature in the process.  Take Tzeporah off the oil advisory board and that group who cares about the enviroment, will see the board as just another tool for the oil industry to push their agenda through.

So please, before you regurgitate what talking bobbleheads in suits say ask yourself if you are the target demographic  Notely and Trudeau have to get off the fence about pipelines onto the side of  those who support pipelines if they are to get built. A big reason Harper and previous PC gov'ts failed to garner support for their pipelines is they muzzled or simply did not give a voice to those who believed differently.  Thus in Alberta and Canada if you want pipelines then you want Tzeporah Berman on the oil advisory board of Alberta.  If you are against pipelines like Jason Kenny or Brian Jean keep asking for Tzeporah to resign because if she does resign then the oil advisory board becomes nothing more than a machivellian govt run board giving the illusion they care about the enviroment allianating those on the fence about pipelines.

The Iceman