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Loving Old Books, Barack Obama Visits, and Customers Like You

Loving Old Books, Barack Obama Visits, and Customers Like You

Good Morning from Prince Edward Island, 

Put the kettle on, time for tea.

Earlier this week, we were one of 8 companies asked to exhibit our wares at a VIP reception prior to a ‘Conversation with Barack Obama’ being held in Halifax at the Scotiabank Centre.

Hence the photograph above, which I took from the new convention centre window while waiting. 

It was an honour to have been asked to be part of the reception. I had the pleasure of meeting other entrepreneurs in the trenches as well as professionals from many industries. There was lots of interest in our corporate offerings

After our exhibit time was up, we were given the opportunity to attend the “conversation.” Over 9,000 people came to hear what he had to share around a number of subjects brought forward by moderator Nova Scotia Co-operative Council CEO Dianne Kelderman.

He answered many questions, one that stood out for me was.  

“As President, what was your most difficult day in office?"

You could still sense his grievous emotion when he responded.

He said his worst day in office was the devastating loss of 20 children and six staff in the Sandy Hook school shooting of 2012 in Connecticut.

“Babies, basically,” said Obama, who spoke at a memorial two days later with the parents in attendance.

“It was heart-breaking and what made it more difficult was, if you ask about one of my biggest frustrations during my tenure as president, was the inability for me to get congress to respond in any meaningful way to that tragedy and the constant flow, this drumbeat of mass shootings that took place.

“The degree to which we now make easily accessible weapons of war, where you can buy semi-automatics that have nothing to do with hunting a bear, caribou or moose for a winter’s provisions is something that does not make sense. My inability to move the resistance of that small but highly organized faction within the United States was anguish to me because I saw myself in those parents and I only imagined what that might have been like for them.

“Bad day.”

Read more of what the 44th President of the United States had to say as reported by The Chronicle Herald here

I enjoyed the event greatly.  And must thank our local credit union (our bank of choice) for suggesting us to be the small business representatives from Prince Edward Island. 

Driving from Prince Edward Island to Halifax, Nova Scotia, I did what I always do when driving...I listen to podcasts. 

One that I have been enjoying as of late is a podcast by Neil Pasricha, called Three Books. Neil is one of the world's leading authorities on intentional living. Below is a TED talk he gave in 2010 where he shares a bit of why he does what he does. He has had an amazing journey so far.  His podcast is extremely refreshing and popular. No judgement on his part and only a spirit of “teach me”. There is so much to be learned and he embodies that attitude. 

“Like failure, chaos contains information that can lead to knowledge — even wisdom.” Toni Morrison

Neil's podcast has inspired me to

While in Halifax this week, I had the first-hand experience of The Last Word Bookstore a second-hand book store.  I always loved libraries and now I love second-hand bookstores. 

Upon entering the space of pre-read knowledge there was a comforting aroma of old books. My curiosity was piqued as to why old books had "that" smell. Later, I researched and found on the International League of Antiquarian Booksellers website the following. 

We all know that aroma. Perhaps it evokes trips to the library as a child, or the cozy ambience of a grandfather's study. It's the distinctive scent of old books. Scientists say that "old book smell" is more than just mustiness; it contains hints of grass and vanilla. That's because all the compounds used to make the book release distinctive odours as they break down. For example, lignin, which is present in all wood-based paper, is closely related to vanillin. As it breaks down, the lignin grants old books that faint vanilla scent.

Now you know. 

The shopkeep was busy entertaining himself playing solitaire and chatting to the only other person present.  A Johnny Cash album emoting gospel music filled the room adding even more character. I loved it. 

I hope to get back and purchase an old woodblock illustrated edition of Moby Dick. A book, I have heard must be read. He didn't take debit cards and I had no cash on me.

"If your actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more and become more, you are a leader."John Quincy Adams

On the drive home, I listened to via The Knowledge Project Podcast, a conversation between Shane Farrish and Daniel Kahneman, emeritus professor of psychology at Princeton, who received the Nobel Prize in Economics in 2002 for the work he did on decision-making with Amos Tversky. He’s probably best known for his book, Thinking Fast and Slow, and his work on drawing attention to our cognitive biases. Their conversation revolves around how to make better decisions, our intuitions, what if anything we can do to reduce our cognitive biases, and how rules make great defaults.

In light of listening to Barack Obama live the night before, I found his comments about leadership, particularly about President Obama’s interesting. 

Below is taken from the transcript notes:

DK: I think it’s pretty clear that people prefer leaders who are intuitive and who are overconfident. Leaders who deliberate too much are viewed with suspicion. I think Obama was at a certain disadvantage relative to George Bush— 

SF: Because he was seen as more deliberate and thoughtful? 

DK: Yeah, he was more deliberate and then when you’re very deliberate, you look as if you don’t know what you’re doing. But when you act with confidence... So people want leaders who are intuitive, I think, by and large. Provided they agree with it.

I will let him have the last word, but before I go, I need to take care of business: 

Be sure to check out the gift boxes that we have prepared for gift-giving this season. 

Well, that is it for today, got to run. 

Thank you for taking your time with me today and I hope you have a great weekend and week ahead. 

Be nice. 

I have been listening to this beautiful album by Ahmad Jamal this morning. He turns the keyboard into a magisterial canvas. Take a sample a listen here.

With love from Prince Edward Island. 




A paperboy said to a customer one day, "Mr. Smith, I wish I had twenty customers like you."

"Gosh, that's nice to hear," said Smith, "but I'm kind of surprised considering I never tip all that well and always pay late."

The paperboy said, "I know, but I'd still like twenty customers like you. The problem is I have one hundred and forty!"

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Paula Mueda - November 19, 2019

There were so many wonderful nuggets in your latest blogs, Bruce, that I can’t even begin to single out those topics and comments from you that I enjoyed most! Loved the photos from your European trip, and I also loved the photo of a bridge (local, I’m assuming?) that was posted on November 2. I am always blessed by what you write; please keep up the good work and continue sharing your wonderful thoughts with us!

Marjorie Foster - November 17, 2019

Thank you for your heart warming blog, realistic, but always uplifting.
Congratulations on being chosen to represent Prince Edward Island, an
honor, well deserved. I admire Barack Obama, and so appreciated hearing his comments on one of America’s darkest days.

Val LaBore - November 17, 2019

Your comment and shared description of the “smell of old books” really made me start thinking of why I love bookstores, the library, and the smell of books. I never thought to analyze the smell. It’s just comforting, and yes, brings back memories of my first “library” in elementary school, which was very small, but held a world of wonders. And weekly trips to the town library to bring home my limit of 6 books. Today, walking into a used bookstore, its almost like my body breathes a sigh of relief.
I bristle when I remember one time a home decorator, giving me options of changing my decor, suggested I get rid of all my books in my bookcase, since I’d already read them, and put in a small table with just a “display” of a couple of them. I was appalled and showed him the door. Granted, I use a Kindle now to hold a bunch of books to read, but you can only tear my solid books from my cold dead hands.
*Added note: I found one of my favorite murder mystery authors in Quebec while visiting a bookstore there; the Armand Gamache series by Louise Penny

Louise - November 17, 2019

Beautifully written Bruce. I so appreciate your work. Hi to Shirley.

Barbara Amsler - November 17, 2019

As always, I look forward to and enjoy reading your blog. Thank you for making me aware of Neil Pasricha. I will watch the above video again (and likely again :). Truly inspirational.

Susan E-J - November 17, 2019

Hi Bruce,
Late getting to your blog today/tonight but, because it never disappoints, it simply can’t be left until Sunday! SO envious of you being invited to join the 9,000 who got to hear Barack Obama in Halifax….Hooray for you! and I have to concur with Dorothy that he is missed so much. Every time I hear him speak these days, it’s like a breath of fresh air bringing hope that normalcy might (one day) return to U.S. politics. He is, truly, such an amazing Ambassador for optimism… I think I have to read his ‘Audacity of Hope’ again!
Looking forward to ordering Christmas goodies and treats for the holidays. Time to look at the gift boxes now :)
Thanks, as always, Bruce.

Devon Conover - November 17, 2019

I am so glad you were chosen to represent small business on PEI, that you were able to hear President Obama speak, and that you shared his thoughts with all of us. I am from Connecticut and knew immediately what his response would be to your question about his darkest day. It haunts us here. Luckily we have representatives in Congress working tirelessly toward gun control. We are not all the way the US is depicted in the media. We will be back next summer for more of that raspberry pie! Have a safe winter!

Donna B - November 16, 2019

Bruce, I totally agree with you about second-hand bookstores. Love them! And, one of my most favorite is “The Bookman” in Charlottetown. I’m a bit surprised you didn’t mention it because it has that lovely old bookstore smell, charming and inspiring music AND when we were there this summer, “Little Jerry with a J” the owner or storekeeper’s dog. It has been a favorite store of ours for over 20 years and we always drop in when we visit your wonderful island.

Ms. Gale Haskell - November 16, 2019

I would like to congratulate you on being selected as one of 8 companies asked to exhibit your wares at a VIP reception for President Obama, it was an excellent choice by the committee. I enjoyed visiting with you last year on a Foliage Cruise to Canada, and it was the highlight of my trip, that I will always cherish. I now enjoy your Blog and Newsletter very much.

MURDOCK Roy MORRISON - November 16, 2019

Hello Bruce and glad that you got to hear a " true and honest president" as I have read the reviews and they speak volumes about Obama and his wonderful story . He is truly an inspirational speaker and human being as we are so fortunate to have had his presence as the president of the US and his leadership during a difficult time in American politics . Now we are left with the worst president ever and it speaks volumes of the damage he has created with his actions at home and abroad. Great podcasts and will get them as well to listen to in the future. Murdock

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