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Bruce's Blog || Just sayin'. . .

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

Posted on November 16, 2019 by Bruce MacNaughton

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!"

Hope is Rising, We are Ready for Change, Society's Soul

Posted on June 08, 2019 by Bruce MacNaughton

I love mornings!

The photo above was captured by Katherine MacLaine, our friend and graphic designer/photographer and it got me to thinkin’...

The sunrise reminds me to wipe off yesterday’s residue and start again. It’s a new day, a new chance to get it right. But what is right?

Happiness is great but joy is a whole other world.

David Brooks, a NY Times op-ed writer recently gave a talk. The lies our culture tells us about what matters - and a better way to live. In this video, he opens up to his personal failings and shares his education with us.

A bit of the transcript from the video gives you an idea of what he had to share.

The message of the meritocracy is you are what you accomplish. The myth of the meritocracy is you can earn dignity by attaching yourself to prestigious brands. The emotion of the meritocracy is conditional love, you can "earn" your way to love. The anthropology of the meritocracy is you're not a soul to be purified, you're a set of skills to be maximized. - David Brooks

His most recent book, The Second Mountain poses an age-old question.

What’s the secret to living a joyful, meaningful and fulfilling life? He provides a provocative answer. One that rubs against the grain of present-day society. Reject individualism and the almost unrestricted personal freedom it promises. Embrace a life of service to others.

 By undermining our social connections, individualism causes a range of societal and personal problems, which many people try to overcome by pursuing material success and happiness. But this pursuit ultimately leads nowhere. The real road to fulfillment leads to a life of service to other people, which can be practiced through our vocations, marriages, religions and/or the tasks of community-building. - Liner notes

This thread all started when I saw Katherine's photo of the farmer on his tractor. I am imagining that he is in his glory, preparing the land for a crop. And planning to harvest a few months from now. Farmers are special. Bless their hearts for working hard to feed us, our families, and the community.

Since World War Two our food systems became industrialized. Which brought on the steady decline of family farms. These facts are real.

Hope is rising.

There is a renaissance happening. More and more people plan or are growing food for themselves and others.

Cooking schools are booming. Community cooking classes are popular.  

We all play a part in restoring our society’s soul.

Get ourselves closer to the land and knowing those who grow our food is the first step.

You cannot ignore the benefits of cooking at home either.

To sit around the table and share a meal together is special. I wish I had spent more time honouring this. Going forward I will be more intentional.

A University of Montreal study found children who routinely eat their meals together with their family are more likely to experience long-term physical and mental health benefits.

Micheal Pollan has been writing books and articles for thirty years. His passion is about the places where nature and culture intersect. Our plates, in our farms and gardens, and in our minds.

Below is a short video speaking to some of the benefits of cooking at home.

Do you like to cook? What is your favourite dish to prepare?

Today and a lot this week I have been listening to:

Thank you for taking the time to be with me today.

I truly hope you have a wonderful weekend and a great week ahead.

With Love from Prince Edward Island!
An 8-year-old girl went to the office with her father on 'Take your child to work day'.
As they walked around the office she started crying and getting cranky.
Her father asked what was wrong.

As the staff gathered round she sobbed loudly, "Daddy, where are all the clowns you said you worked with?"

Fall Flavours, Tears and Mother-in-Law

Posted on September 09, 2018 by Bruce MacNaughton

I adore the weather we’re having on the Island right now. Warm, sunny days and lovely cool evenings. Even though it’s technically still summer, I have spotted some red and orange leaves already…

Certainly, a change of season is in the air.

Fall Flavours has begun and folks from all over the world come to enjoy all that Prince Edward Island has to offer in way of the bounty harvested from the land and sea.

The International Shellfish Festival starts up next weekend, and if you are thinking of going, you can purchase tickets here.

For more info on Fall Flavours read here and book tickets here

I loved reading this story about Isabella Baker, a 10-year-old who is off to a great start in life. Recognizing there much to be received from giving.

A big thank you goes out Islander Perry Williams of Virtual Studios for this awesome video. 

There has been a lot of hard work, sweat and tears getting The Preserve Company to where it is and Shirley and I are so grateful to past and present staff and our wonderful customers and suppliers who have joined with us on this journey.

The encouragement note this week comes from Quebec. Thank you, Joanne! 

Dear Bruce & Shirley, so much kindness and joy emanate from your lovely store, friendly service and staff and your beautiful Gardens of Hope. The preserves and tea that I purchased in August are scrumptious. What wonderful dedication to making good products and creating a place of meaning and compassion that can be shared by all. Thank you!

Thanks for reading and have a wonderful weekend and rest of summer. 

With love from Prince Edward Island



It Is All in How You Hear It

Posted on March 03, 2018 by Bruce MacNaughton

Sam heard all about the great service in the “Sleep Fine Hotel,” so after dropping his stuff in his room, he excitedly headed down to the hotel lounge.

He was only there for a few minutes when a very professional looking server came over to him.

“Would you like something to drink?” she asked.

Sam took in a deep breath, looked around at the beautiful lobby and asked “what are my choices?”

The woman’s gave Sam a strange look, and responded in an extra loud and slow voice, “yeees or noooo.”

Biscuits, Old Farmer, Amen

Posted on February 17, 2018 by Bruce MacNaughton

A NEW Pastor was attending a men’s breakfast in a rural area. 

She asked one of the impressive older farmers in attendance to say grace that morning.

After all, were seated, the older farmer began:

“Lord, I hate buttermilk."

The Pastor opened one eye and wondered to herself where this was going.

Then the farmer loudly proclaimed, “Lord, I hate lard.”

Now the Pastor was worried.

However without missing a beat, the farmer prayed on,

“And Lord, you know I don’t care much for raw white flour.”

Just as the Pastor was ready to stand and stop everything, the farmer continued,

“But Lord, when You mix ‘em all together and bake ‘em up, I do love fresh biscuits.

So Lord, when things come up we don’t like, when life gets hard, when we just don’t understand what You are sayin' to us, we just need to relax and wait ‘till you're done mixin’, and probably Lord, it will be somethin' even better than biscuits.


Salary plus Benefits

Posted on December 30, 2017 by Bruce MacNaughton

Reaching the end of a job interview, the Human Resources Officer asks a young engineer fresh out of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, "And what starting salary are you looking for?"

The engineer replies, "In the region of $125,000 a year, depending on the benefits package."

The interviewer inquires, "Well, what would you say to a package of five weeks vacation, 14 paid holidays, full medical and dental, company matching retirement fund to 50% of salary, and a company car leased every two years, say, a red Corvette?"

The engineer sits up straight and says, "Wow! Are you kidding?" The interviewer replies, "Yeah, but you started it."

Dog for Sale...Ten Dollars

Posted on December 13, 2017 by Bruce MacNaughton

A guy is driving around the back woods of Montana and he sees a sign in front of a broken down shanty-style house: 'Talking Dog For Sale 'He rings the bell and the owner appears and tells him the dog is in the backyard.

The guy goes into the backyard and sees a nice looking Labrador retriever sitting there.

'You talk?' he asks.

'Yep,' the Lab replies.

After the guy recovers from the shock of hearing a dog talk, he says 'So, what's your story?'

The Lab looks up and says, 'Well, I discovered that I could talk when I was pretty young. I wanted to help the government, so... I told the CIA.

In no time at all they had me jetting from country to country, sitting in rooms with spies and world leaders, because no one figured a dog would be eavesdropping.'

'I was one of their most valuable spies for eight years running...

But the jetting around really tired me out, and I knew I wasn't getting any younger so I decided to settle down. I signed up for a job at the airport to do some undercover security, wandering near suspicious characters and listening in.

I uncovered some incredible dealings and was awarded a batch of medals.'

'I got married, had a mess of puppies, and now I'm just retired.'

The guy is amazed. He goes back in and asks the owner what he wants for the dog.

'Ten dollars,' the guy says.

'Ten dollars? This dog is amazing! Why on earth are you selling him so cheap?'

'Because he's never telling the truth, and I am tired of it. He has never been out of the yard!'

The Bathtub Test

Posted on November 29, 2017 by Bruce MacNaughton

The Bathtub Test

On a visit to my doctor, I asked him, "How do you determine whether or not an older person should be put in an old age home?"

"Well," he said, "we fill up a bathtub, then we offer a teaspoon, a teacup or a bucket to the person to empty the bathtub."

"Oh, I understand," I said. "A normal person would use the bucket because it is bigger than the spoon or the teacup."

"No," he said. "A normal person would pull the plug. Do you want a bed near the window?"


Have a wonderful day, keep smiling. 



with love from Prince Edward Island