The View from The Niagara Guide

General observations and musings on how we can make Niagara a better place.

Where to start . . .

Mark Kawabe - Friday, April 25, 2014

Niagara Music Instruction - electric guitar picturedThe past several months have seen much change with the structure of The Niagara Guide's websites. We've been steadily working on converting our legacy websites over to the new database and consolidating information onto domain and website. It's been a lot of work, but fun and we're looking to be on track to have this work completed by the end of May 2014.

That being said, there's much left to do. Every day we're adding new businesses and categories (who knew there was a mobile funeral planning specialist in Niagara?) and meeting new people. Of course, there's the ongoing marketing of our clients which never, ever stops.

So, that's where things are at. Oh - and we've updated one of my favourite categories: Music Instruction - with one of my favourite instructors, John Kott of Three Beagles Music. Rock on John!

Winter's here - here are three tips to help you drive safely

Mark Kawabe - Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Snowy day in NiagaraIt's a beautiful day out there - especially if you like snow.

I KNOW you're Canadian and therefore have evolved in such a way that you have a natural talent for driving in snow. That being said, there are going to be cars in ditches more than the average number of collisions today.  As a former driving instructor, I thought I'd share a few pieces of advice.


Yes, I know I'm preaching to the converted, but really, this does need to be said. I don't care how good your tires and your brakes are. The laws of physics dictate that your vehicle will have less traction in snow. That means it will take longer distances to stop and you will not have as precise control when you steer. It only gets worse when you are driving too fast for the conditions you're in.

Check Your Tires

Two things here:

  1. If you're going to stick with your all-season tires, make sure the tread is good and that they're properly inflated. There is a sticker on the inside driver's side of the vehicle that tells you what the proper tire inflation levels are for your vehicle.

  2. I strongly recommend winter tires. Traction's much improved with them compared to all-season tires. If you like to be able to control your vehicle, you should be a fan of winter tires. I know it's expensive to buy them, but a collision is more expensive than a set of tires and rims.

Make Sure You Can See

Visibility's rather essential when driving. If your wipers aren't cleaning snow properly, get new ones. They're much less expensive than your insurance deductible. Also, clean your windows on the inside. Dirty windows fog up more.

Speaking of fogging up, we've all seen drivers on the road in cars with completely fogged up windows. To clear those windows faster, turn on your air conditioner. The AC will help remove the moisture in the air that is condensing on the inside of your windows. Some cars have settings that turn on the AC automatically to help clear the windshield. If yours doesn't, this should help. If you don't have AC, make sure you're pumping in lots of fresh air and try to get your windows warm as quickly as possible to prevent condensation.

There are plenty more things you can do to help make your driving safer, but I think these are the big three. It all comes down to your attitude about driving. It's more beneficial to focus on safety and getting where you are going without stress.

I hope you have a safe day out there!

Making Niagara Better

Mark Kawabe - Tuesday, October 29, 2013

It's easy to complain - about anything. It's harder to make things better in reality. But in reality, we don't recognize just how good we have things.

When the Rogers cellular network went down a while back, my son noted all the people commenting on Facebook about the situation. He called these "first world problems", and I think he's right. If you've lived somewhere else for any length of time, you probably recognize that while we have our challenges in our respective communities, our region and our nation, that overall things are pretty good.

Everyone wants things to be better than they are. I do as well. I also think our collective perceptions of how good or bad things are may not be accurate. There is much good happening in Niagara. Yes, there are challenges, but there is much good taking place. While we bemoan the challenges, we often fail to focus on the good.

There is much work to be done to make Niagara better. I think a good chunk of that work needs to be done in people's minds. Recognize how fortunate we are compared to others in other parts of the world, in other parts of our country, in other parts of our own community. More than that, recognize that we are here to evolve, to grow, to learn and experience. I think helping our neighbours is a good way to start helping our selves and if we all do that, Niagara will be a much richer place indeed.

Want to see a better Niagara? Look in the mirror and look at how you can improve. By changing yourself you can change the world.

It starts with you.

Gatorbait Gig Update

Mark Kawabe - Friday, October 25, 2013

My favourite local blues band Gatorbait has an updated schedule as follows:

October 24 @ Angel Inn 9pm-midnight
October 26 @ Puddy's 5pm-9pm  Cancelled!!
November 9 @ Sudzz  9:30pm-1am
November 16 @ Donnelly's 8-11:30pm
November 29 @ Angel Inn 9:30 pm-12:30am
December 7 @ The Jordan House  9pm-12:30am
December 21 @ Angel Inn 9:30pm-12:30am

These can all be found on the Niagara Events Calendar under Nightlife as well.

What does "Heart Safe" Mean to You?

Mark Kawabe - Tuesday, August 27, 2013

I recently read an article on the Welland Tribune website that says Wainfleet is now the first "heart safe" community in Niagara.

Here's the link to the article.

I have no doubt that all those who put together the program have great intentions. What I question is the notion that defibrillators truly make a community "heart safe".

It's kind of like saying cars are safe because of their roll cages and airbags while ignoring the fact that people crash their cars on a regular basis and have to make use of those devices. The fact is that all cars are safe - until they crash - so one might think that avoiding crashes is the safest option and one that should be pursued. Since dealing with the causes of crashes (which in my opinion are 95% the responsibilities of one or more drivers) is harder to deal with than their symptoms (the crash), the focus shifts to the "safety" devices like airbags.

Wainfleet was chosen as the first community in the program because "Wainfleet has much higher instances of cardiac disease than the rest of the region". I hope Wainfleet is being more aggressively targeted for education and awareness campaigns by the Niagara health department. Then again, perhaps that's just me - hoping that the causes of disease will be addressed rather than the symptoms.

What do you think? Is this a good idea on its own? I'm open to hear your perspectives.

Do you like free concerts?

Mark Kawabe - Tuesday, August 27, 2013

On September 24th, enjoy a free community concert at Brock University!

The Tuesday [email protected] lunchtime recital series is free and open to the public, featuring Brock's performance faculty, talented students and alumni, as well as special guests.

Enjoy the Guest and Faculty Recital, featuring Austin Hitchock, French horn and Karin Di Bella, piano Held at the Sean O’Sullivan Theatre.

This is a free community event!

Lying Niagara Jam Makers

Mark Kawabe - Thursday, August 01, 2013

If you've driven to Niagara-on-the-Lake, I'm sure you've seen the sign along the side of Niagara Stone Road with a little cart advertising 27 types of jams.

They're lying.

They make 36 types.

On average, they sell more than 10,000 jars of jam a year.

The guy who makes the jam made six batches of 54 bottles yesterday. By hand. Usually he stops at five batches but yesterday was a good day.

They use a ton of fruit and 1/3 the sugar compared to store-bought jam.

People from Toronto often buy a couple of jars the first time they drive by. Then they come back for a case.

I didn't know this until I stopped by to look at the 27 varieties only to find out how I've been deceived all these years.

Some years, they've made 40 varieties.

So why 27? "Because the owner likes the number 27" said his partner-in-deceipt.

Go figure. I haven't had any of this jam - yet - but I will soon.

What a great story : )

IdeaShare Meeting this Thursday

Mark Kawabe - Monday, January 07, 2013


Looking for good ideas? Have some ideas you'd like to bounce off others? IdeaShare Niagara could be exactly what you're looking for!

IdeaShare is: a place where members actively participate in sharing and feedback to assist each other in growing as a leader and overcoming challenges we face in our business.

Our purpose: As a group of business leaders in Niagara, we educate, challenge, mentor and uplift other leaders in the Niagara Region through the sharing of principles and knowledge we have found to be successful. We encourage and educate each other with business and leadership principles we actively use every day.

Are you a leader in your field? Then IdeaShare is a great place for you to share some of your knowledge with other leaders. Together, we grow and develop into better leaders and people.

The next IdeaShare meeting is this coming Thursday, January 10th at the J.J. Kapps Restaurant, 327 Ontario St., St. Catharines. The start time is 7:30 a.m. There is no cost to attend except for the cost of your meal.

Oh - and one thing IdeaShare is NOT: We are not a networking group. Come with an open mind in the spirit of sharing and not with a business agenda.

Please R.S.V.P. with Mark Kawabe ideashare (at)

Detoxification Specials from A.H.A. Wellness

Mark Kawabe - Sunday, January 06, 2013

Need to detoxify? After the holiday season? Of course you do : )

Check out the detoxification specials from A.H.A. Wellness Services.

Essential oil treatments combined with detoxification footbaths are awesome. You'll be amazed.

Check them out:

Do people want the truth?

Mark Kawabe - Sunday, January 06, 2013

The more I experience, the less I believe people really, deep down, honestly want to know the truth.

As long as information fits the worldview of the person receiving it, that information will be perceived as  truth. That is why there are multiple truths: everyone has a unique perspective based on their own experiences.

One person has a great experience at a restaurant and it's their favourite. Another person gets sick after eating at the same restaurant, attributes the illness to food poisoning and tells everyone they can to stay away.

We are bombarded by advertising that tries to convince us we're not good enough or that our lives are lacking something or that we're going to die if we don't pop the newest pill.

Some people believe this. Others do not. Their truths differ based on their perspective and experience.

Even if you tell the truth, only some will believe it. Others may come to believe it if they change their perspective. Still others will never believe. That's fine, because that's the way it is.

That's why the internet is so wonderful for businesses. It allows people to collect information based on their worldview and their own perceived needs. As a business owner, it's important to remember this so you can keep your focus on the people who are open to needing or wanting your product. There's not much point promoting a butcher shop to vegans or a spiritual retreat to an atheist.

And that's the truth ; )


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