Higher and higher

Our kitchen is being renovated. When we bought this old house, we knew it had to be done. The kitchen was functional but in dire need of updating, especially since the counters were below standard height.

At first, we thought, with help from YouTube, we could do this ourselves. IKEA has some nice kitchens with decent warranties, and a couple of acquaintances had good results in their house.

Then we realized the logistics of purchasing the cabinets, taking down the old ones, putting the new cabinets together, hiring a plumber and electrician, and installing them would not work. We have no time. So we looked for someone to do it for us, but we couldn’t find anyone.

Our next step was to go to local cabinet makers, and we watched as the price went up and up and up. Part of their conditions were that the area in which the cabinets were installed had to be damn near perfect before they would come in and install.

So we got “lucky” and found a contractor to handle all the moving parts, and we watched as the price went up, and up, and up.

This forced us to abandon our initial plans to replace the flooring.

Meanwhile, we discovered that quality sinks and facets are incredibly expensive (They better last until I am carried from the house). Oh, and small profile range-hood microwaves? Unbelievable – it just heats food! Oh, and the cabinet maker recommended a cabinet-depth fridge; coincidentally, our fridge is nearing the end of its life.

As I sit here, six tradespeople are in the house at hourly rates likely greater than my own. We have gone from let’s make the wall smooth so that they can attach the cabinets, to ripping out the wall, replacing plumbing and putting in new lights and electrical. Oh, and we are back to the flooring again.

This is scope creep extraordinaire.

Running Waypoint

I stopped going to CrossFit over the summer to focus my energy on following a marathon training program without the intention of actually running a race. My goal was to slowly add mileage to see if I could handle the kind of regime I had before I returned to Canada without the added complications that CF has brought in the past. For the most part, it has gone well, especially considering that the summer and fall weather has been mostly wet. No injuries, and the only real challenge is mental. My other goal was to spend time in the backroads and trails from Cardigan onward. I had no idea this part of Prince Edward Island was so beautiful.

That training cycle is over, and now I am trying to regain some discipline to go out in this damp, cold weather to start again. So far, I haven’t been successful. I prefer the comfort of my heated office at 6 a.m., but I’m sure I will find the discipline again.

The picture above is of my favourite 5K waypoint, where I would stop and enjoy the view while drinking some cold brew coffee that I bring along in my running bag.

The Rube

I made a costly mistake this past week.

Since deciding to pursue Sleep Tight full-time, one of our biggest challenges has been “monetizing” our audio to pay ourselves, pay for help, and fund future products. Unfortunately, this has proven to be very challenging for us, and while our goal is to move away from advertising, it still presents the largest share of our revenue.

We’ve long since passed the threshold (if we were in a different topic category), where we should have enough revenue to support a couple of full-time salaries.

Unable to solve the lack of advertising alone, we first signed a non-exclusive agreement with Redcircle. This gave us access to their marketplace, a minimum guarantee, and other benefits. Unfortunately, in the year we were with them, they didn’t sell one ad, and they reneged on the contract.

Next, we signed an agreement with a company in Denmark to license our audio in other languages. While our lawyer might bristle at the terms, I didn’t feel that holding on to these language rights had much value, as we would likely never have the bandwidth or interest to do it ourselves. After ten months, our agreement has yet to result in any activity.

This year, we signed an exclusive agreement with Airwave for advertising and growth. And this as well has failed, with minuscule impressions sold and no growth.

So when a couple of other agreements came our way, I decided to have someone look over the agreement that we thought most interesting to avoid terms that would bind us and our IP to another unfruitful term. I have no contacts with experience negotiating these kinds of contracts, so I turned to a local law firm. The fact that Sheryl and I produce Sleep Tight Media without outside input is part a problem of our location and our personalities. I know of no one whom I might consult.

Here is the mistake: I knew lawyers were expensive but didn’t realize how expensive. My expectation of costs was so far off the mark that I almost laughed when told how much the services would cost. I expected someone to spend an hour reviewing and an hour writing notes of concern. I got a meeting, no notes, and whatever information gleaned was from my terribly written notes. Getting their “red lines” would cost extra. None of this was communicated until the meeting was concluded.

I like the people whom I dealt with; they are smart and personable.

I should have asked upfront the straightforward question: how much is this going to cost, and what do I get in return? I did that with my mortgage, though they could have been more forthright, too.

So I feel like a rube.

Before going to this meeting, I asked the same questions I had for them to ChatGPT and got exhaustive answers, many of which were as good as they gave. Some answers were better. They laughed when I mentioned ChatGPT, but I look forward to the not-so-distant future when I don’t have to spend a month’s salary for a 60-minute conversation.

Canada to regulate podcasts

I haven’t had time to parse through these new rules, but my inclination is that like most legislation it will have a net negative effect. I get the feeling that podcasting as an industry in Canada, which is already far behind other markets in terms of corporate and government support, will continue to suffer from a competitive disadvantage. One positive is that someone in government actually knows that podcasts exist, which when we went looking for support to develop non-commercial children’s audio a couple years ago, wasn’t the case.

Opinion: The Canadian radio market is the most regulated in the Western world. It’s no coincidence that it is also one of the worst-performing radio markets, with dwindling audiences and poor finances that are worse than any other country. But all of the large owners of Canadian radio also own lucrative mobile, cable and television licenses; so they never speak out against the CRTC’s rules, lest the regulator threaten those parts of their companies. Canada deserves better; but it’s unlikely that it’ll get it.