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Subscription cleanup

Subscription cleanup

The Amaryllis is finally blooming

Saturday was Epiphany or 12th Night. The kids cleaned the house and put away all of our Yule-related decorations for another year. The house is clean and looks a little empty now but it’s a tabula rasa as we get ramped up for school to start. The snow has decided to join us for winter, which is great because The Youngest started their snowboarding season yesterday and The Eldest starts her new job as a ski instructor tonight. Today is also the first day back at school and as I anticipated we all dragged our feet after two weeks of partying, over-indulgence and sleeping way too late. The season of merriment has come to an end.

Speaking of cleaning, around this time I do a bit of subscription clean up. I don’t necessarily DO ALL THE THINGS right on the first of January but as the hubbub of the holiday season starts to die down & I ease into the quiet blanket of winter, it’s easier to have a good, hard look at all of the things vying for my attention. I hate how much time it takes me to delete things I am no longer interested in, so I try and take stock of these things in January.

Email sign-ups
I tend to sign up for more email lists in the fall of every year as I sign up for discounts on gifts or to get free shipping. I am pretty good at unsubscribing quickly but there are always one or two I forget. Truth be told, I also subscribe to my old union’s mailing list and I should just say goodbye. I don’t know why I haven’t in the past few years…but it’s time to let go.

I have a few newsletters I enjoy reading but some have either a> gone paid-only & I don’t find the content relevant enough to pay for it; or b> it’s information I don’t really need or haven’t been reading. For example, I’ve signed up for newsletters from a major newspaper that I also subscribe to. I realized that these were just articles I had already read in the physical paper. I unbsubbed.

Paid subscriptions (digital)
This is where things get a little tougher. I have a few content creators that I like to support and I wonder if I should actually review and then maybe even add some new ones. Money is super tight right now (fixed income! *jazz hands*) but should ease up shortly when the condo sells, so I am making a list of creators to consider.

We have basic subs for the house, namely Netflix and Spotify. We get these for the kids. Mr. Tucker’s work also paid for a year of Disney+ so we have that until next fall as well. I’m happy with these.

Paid subscriptions (analog)
OOF. This one hurts. It’s hardest to consider my magazines and newspapers because I love them so much. The reality is though that I need to cut back:
– I am way behind on reading The New Yorker, Canadian Notes & Queries and The Canadian Literary Review. These I am giving up for sure. I just don’t have the time.
– I picked up Celtic Life International this year and it’s been lovely, so I will keep that.
-The Walrus is only a few times a year but it’s quality content, Canadian and I do get a partial tax rebate as a subscriber.
-The New Escapologist. I love this magazine. I will keep it. I would subscribe to The Idler as well if the price point for non-digital was reasonable. (Brexit man, boy howdy!)
– The Globe and Mail. This one is super hard for me. On the one hand, I do want to support legacy media because I feel like once it’s gone, there will be no more (mostly) neutral coverage of events and I do enjoy reading a paper front-to-back and not being spoon fed my own opinions back to me like an algorithm does. I don’t want news to just be what I want to hear rather than things I should consider outside of my own echo-chamber. I mean yes, there are different political slants to all legacy media but generally you will find conflicting viewpoints. The problem is the price: $32 a month for 4 skimpy papers is about what I pay for an entire year’s worth of The Walrus. For now I will keep it, if only because Andrew Coyne is one of the most infuriating opinion columnists…and mostly never wrong. Also: tax rebate.

Social media
I cleaned up a bunch of accounts that I follow that a> are dead/haven’t posted in a while, b> I am not longer interested in, c> deleted me from their followers. As for the last one, it’s mostly self-styled “influencers” who add an account and then delete them as soon as they follow back to fudge their numbers (to make it look like they have more followers than they do, ergo get more free stuff). I do still follow accounts that don’t follow me back if the content is great. What an age we live in!

The 8 weeks of the winter sport season is always just chaos here at The Mullet. Mr. Tucker does the bulk of the running around and getting the kids to places. The Eldest has two jobs this winter plus early morning band and harp lessons across town one night a week. The Youngest also has activities on Saturday and of course snowboarding on Sunday. The next 8 weeks are just pure survival for us but it does break up what would otherwise be a gloomy, cold, dark period of time. As for me, I will organize things the best I can, making sure dinners and lunches are planned and other than that I think I will sit by the fire, drink tea…and try and get through the backlog of magazine subscriptions!

The lemon tree has giant lemons. In the background, winter

Do I can Instagram?

Do I can Instagram?

What I’m reading
• In completely non-shocking news, the rich are getting richer.
• Visual Capitalist on 20 most common investing mistakes.
Death by 1000 small fees: hidden charges are getting ridiculous for sure.
Early retirement in England, mostly the preserve of the wealthy. This is discussing ER in your 50s and 60s, which is more of the traditional ER definition.

On the tail of yesterday’s post, I am really trying to stay off social media and as we head into the end months of the year. It is one of the reasons I started writing here again regularly: it keeps me from doomscrolling social media (or what I have left of it namely, Instagram). I was saying to Mr. Tucker last night that I keep thinking about the quote by Tom Eastman:

I’m old enough to remember when the Internet wasn’t a group of five websites, each consisting of screenshots of text from the other four.

It really stuck with me because the algorithm keeps serving me up tweets, fb and tumblr posts that keep getting shared and shared. I have seen many of them myriad times as they get recycled and the algorithm picks old ones back up again and cycles them through people’s feeds. While I enjoy them – after all the algorithm does a great job of determining what I like & what I will share (thus continuing the cycle) – it’s not adding much value to my life and so it is time to cut another app out. I admire Mr. Tucker and his complete disdain for social media. He will just delete the app and move on with his life. I need to learn from him, to be quite honest.

Over our morning coffee, I said to Mr. Tucker that it’s weird that socially it is totally normal for people to pick up their phone during a conversation but not say, pick up a book and start reading. There is an urgency in checking one’s notifications that makes scrolling acceptable. Even when Mr. Tucker and I sit down in the mornings, I feel sheepish about picking up a magazine and reading that I don’t feel that if I pick up my phone and start to scroll Instagram. It’s such an odd phenomenon.

I loved the idea behind Mouse Books which sadly now looks defunct. Dutton has a more modern pocket series of books as well that you can still buy. I feel that this would be a good solution for the in-between times: in the doctor’s office, waiting for the bus, in line practically anywhere and in the bathroom (remember reading the back of a shampoo bottle? My children will never know the suffering of forgetting to bring a book to the washroom).

I’ve discovered that I scroll the most under two conditions: when I feel bored or when I feel anxious. Anxiety happens when I watch movies and there is tension in the story, for example. I pick up my phone as a way to alleviate it even though building tension is a crucial part of the movie watching process. I also pick up my phone when the boredom settles in to alleviate that feeling, which is probably just anxiety from the fact that my brain is stuck with its own thoughts. BUT then I complain that I don’t do enough creative work on the projects I want to accomplish (ie: writing here, painting, knitting and video work). But the most rewarding projects require you to sit with the boredom. If I did, I would eventually resolve to pick up a project that is a bigger hurdle to start. The phone is an easy win, settling down to do a creative project requires you to push through that boredom and anxiety.

I am glad that facebook has stopped allowing Canadians to post news articles because 80% of my usage was posting news articles and then discussing them with my friends. A friend recently told me that this blog reminds her of my old livejournal because I would constantly be posting news roundups in the morning. At the time I did a news link email for my organization as part of my job so it was a natural extension of that work. So thanks for being cheap, facebook! It’s kept my eyeballs off of your ads because I no longer enjoy your site! So it’s good to be back to more long form writing.

It’s about 1.5 months until the end of the year and this is when I typically review:
1 – My mailing lists: what am I still receiving that I don’t read or that doesn’t add value to my life? I need to stop spending so much time deleting junk email or mailing lists I don’t really want to be on.
2 – My online paid subs: do I still enjoy the content from X creator enough to keep paying?
3 – The media subs: digital and print. While I think I will never be able to get away with canceling Spotify or Netflix (thanks, children), I do need to probably stop the New Yorker. I love the magazine but it’s way too much and I never get around to reading them. I often don’t read every Saturday newspaper but I do want to support journalism and I also get a tax credit for supporting Canadian content (which is why I will also keep The Walrus). I canned Canadian Notes & Queries and The Canadian Literary journal as well.
…and finally…
4 – Do I give up Instagram? Do I make rules around its consumption? It is really my last hold out from random scrolling (praise Jeebus I never got into TikTok) of stories.

Finally, I got together with The Americans* last night and we chatted and played Trivial Pursuit. Because I was imbibing some Greyhounds (vodka/grapefruit/soda) I feel confident enough to tell you that I won the game**! Despite the fact we chat every day on Signal I do miss their faces quite a bit. It was nice to pick up a game and just hangout.

Have a great weekend!

*these ones are mine, get your own
**I most certainly did not

A jot a day: Friday, October 20th, 2023

A jot a day: Friday, October 20th, 2023


The Price of Advice. No one cares more about your money than you do. If you want to set-it-and-forget-it because you don’t trust your own abilities/don’t want to do research just toss all of your money in an index fund that covers AT LEAST the S&P 500/TSX 60 and keep adding to it regularly either in a TFSA (if you make under $65000 CAD) or an RRSP (if you make over $65000 CAD or if you have matching at work. If you have RRSP matching, always max it. Otherwise it’s like saying no to free money).


My MRI from the end of the last month came back. I feel like they don’t release it for the patient to view online until their doctor has seen it. I read through it and basically I think it says that aside to some things that could be the result of me moving during the procedure, everything is basically the same. AND the thing that could just be a technicality reduced the amount of change so that would be a good thing. I will still make an appointment with my neurologist so he can go through it with me but overall I am pretty pleased with that.

The Soapbox

Let’s talk subscriptions. I have many opinions on subscriptions.

1 – TV and Film companies have gotten out of control: so basically we are back to cable again with most people having an average of 12 subscriptions for just media and entertainment (millennials had a whopping 17!). Also 98% of us have a streaming service. My kids often complain that we ONLY have Netflix and Spotify when their friends often have many more such as Prime and Apple (we also recently got a Disney+ sub because Mr. Tucker’s company offered it as a free perk). It’s just so out of control to me and I guess a lot of it has to do with the fact that I am not really huge into watching tv and movies, which is why we have to discuss…

2 – Online creator subscriptions: I have often complained that I wish I could pay to read individual blog posts and news articles without having to sign up for a full blown account. It would be fantastic if you could have a browser app where you could approve micro-payments to read content. In some ways, Patreon and Substack has attempted to do this but Substack’s minimum is $5USD which is a lot of money when you read multiple authors and Patreon starts at $1 to support someone without rewards. In 2021 Patreon raised $155 million dollars and Substack $65 million. It’s quite the industry now!

Unfortunately, the quality of the creators tends to differ and that isn’t often reflected in the price. I follow two fantastic writers on Substack, one who posts amazing content twice a week and one who posts content once-a-week (sometimes once every two weeks). The quality is similar but by Substack rules I have to pay the same for both. So I pay nothing. It seems to me that it would be better to charge by article (again) rather than by sub. They could offer X posts for Y dollars and have a variety of options for people. Price points such as, 10 articles for $10 or 20 articles for $15 etc.

I have often bemoaned the state of the blogosphere with its unreadable layout due to all of the advertisements stacked in every nook and cranny. I have completely eradicated content that I can’t read on Feedly if the website is constantly resizing paragraphs when you are in the middle of reading it to change over to a new ad or pop-up video. It isn’t worth it to me to have to spend that much time trying to read a post when every paragraph break is a new ad. News websites are especially egregious at this kind of thing.

3 – Physical media: Having said that, I 100% believe in people getting paid for their work but it seems like all of the systems we have now don’t reflect the quality and price point people are willing to pay. I do subscribe to real, in-the-flesh magazines and newspapers. In fact, I feel like the world would be a much better place if people read/supported at least one newspaper. That way they wouldn’t have to rely on clickbaity titles to try and suck in audiences and the ads won’t be creepy things you clicked on by accident once – or worse things you already bought a month ago. I also have to admit: there is something soothing about physical media. I tend to remember the content more and since I don’t have a million other windows open and notifications on, I can concentrate fully on the task at hand.

But the real benefit to supporting actual newspapers or magazines is that it exposes you to a lot of different viewpoints, news you hadn’t even know was happening and explorations of what other interesting things are out there in the world that you haven’t been exposed to. Instead of an algorithm on google, youtube, or social media sites serving you up content that is similar to the content you have already engaged with, instead you get a plethora of new things. The Walrus and The New Yorker are two subscriptions I have that often have really interesting, measured takes on a variety of issues. I may not agree with every argument but at least I can consider them. These publications may not be interesting to you so feel free to subscribe to things that are more in your wheelhouse.

I worry that algorithms are making us more and more isolated against viewpoints that challenge us. To see a variety of opinions as a good thing. We should not only consume things we agree with but also read opposite points of view. Algorithms chain us to our past consumption and are used to reinforce what we already believe to get us going down a spiral so that they get our eyeballs on more ads.

Conversely, when I open my Globe and Mail on Saturday morning the ads are unmoving, mostly interesting (although not really my cup of tea) and don’t break up the text. The Opinion section is full of different views that I don’t necessarily agree with but that often make good points. I feel that makes me a more well-rounded person to read things I haven’t considered before. In a world that often lacks nuance, it makes sense for smart people to seek it out. Even the most right or left wing legacy publications often have columnists who take oppositional points of view (enragement has been engagement for a long, long time) and it does us all a lot of good to consider that.


To recap what this is: when the pandemic hit our kids were 10 and 12 and in their prime trick-or-treating years. It made me sad that they couldn’t do the more traditional neighbourhood jaunt so instead we created a new ritual: 13 days of Halloween movies. We chose 13 movies to watch in the days leading up to Halloween and we bought them each some typical Halloween candy to enjoy while we were watching them. I also posted their reviews to each movie online with a picture of the movie poster and friends and family told me that they really enjoyed the reviews and that they looked forward to them. So even though they’ve gone trick-or-treating since then, it’s a ritual we have continued – with less candy.

Well after the absolute trauma of last night’s movie, we decided to go retro-campy for tonight’s offering. So we queued up the original (aka 1988 version) of Child’s Play. Spoilers below: Hi, I’m Chucky! I’m your friend til the end!

(HAH: I went looking for a copy of the movie poster but when I Google it, they have emojis chasing each other on the top of the screen. Very cute.)

The Youngest: 6/10 Buddy, it’s a doll. I don’t care how possessed it is – it’s plastic! How did it take you that long to defeat it?

The Eldest: 7/10 It would have been good if they just left it when the mom killed it. The special effects and the slo-mos of Chucky flying were really funny.

Mr. Tucker: 4/10 Never saw it when it came out. Don’t know how I would have thought about it then. Now? HOO BOY it was no great. Giving it a 4 simply for the nostalgia. Even though I didn’t see it in ’88, I do remember how huge Chucky was.

I saw this in the theatres when it came out and I was terrified. Now of course, it’s not really all that scary. Of course, the man has to save the day – it’s never dead when the woman kills it – because that was all movies in my youth. BUT what differs for this movie is that there is no love story. I remember almost all of the movies from my childhood having to have a love interest and I find it great that this doesn’t.

I hope you have an amazing weekend, I won’t be writing here as I will be hanging with the family! I guess I should do a poll to see if I should keep up with #AJAD posts. Maybe I will do another week of writing and then see if people enjoy it.


CW: kind of gross, death

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