Thursday, November 3, 2011

Gun control in Canada - changes are coming

I remember when Marc Lepine rounded up a group of women at L'Ecole Polytechnique and killed them with an illegal weapon. I was working at University of Calgary. Everyone, gun owner or not, was stunned and horrified. How could this happen in Canada, we have gun control. Handguns and semi-automatic weapons were prohibited. The crazy guy shouldn't have been able to get a license and shouldn't have been able to legally purchase a weapon that could be converted. Surely our government would address this. Then word came down that, in addition to solidifying laws about acquisition, requiring locked gun storage and generally ensuring that gun owners were aware of hazards, people with rifles (long guns) would required to register each gun. Oh the uproar. Rural gun owners were being penalized for the actions of fearful Urbanites.

Many changes were made to gun ownership. The screening for Firearms Acquisition Certificate (FAC) became more rigorous and the certificate must be renewed every 5 years. Renewal is easy enough, fill in a form, submit a picture and your certificate will be reviewed and renewed. More importantly, you could no longer legally purchase ammunition without producing a certificate. Illicit weapons were expanded and made more specific.

Now the government is making changes again. The Bill in the house will remove the requirement to register each long gun. More uproar, how could this make us safer than what we have? Why is this such a big deal? Why is the current list of owners being deleted?

I don't know if will make us safer but the reason the registry should be destroyed is the same reason it was a failure to start with; voluntary registry of existing firearms. It's no big deal to implement a registry of guns as you purchase them, just another step in the process. But the people who were against the registry were never going to put their guns in the system because they were sure the black helicopters were coming. To get all guns registered you would have had to do house to house, as is done with census, to *reduce* non-compliance. Those long lived, non - registered guns float in the system, not getting registered as they change hands because people get them from friends/neighbours/family members and if they register them the original owner will get charged.

Now you have a very porous gun registry. Would it be better to continue funding at a Federal level or would it be better to use Federal funding to prevent restricted weapons from entering the country? Keep in mind Canada shares the largest non patrolled border in the world that happens to be next to a country with fundamentally different viewpoint to gun ownership. There is not unlimited funding so I pick the latter. Car registration and insurance is dealt with at the provincial level with Federal umbrella legislation. as is labour laws, designating the age of majority, and health care. Why not supplement Federal law with Provincial legislation?

What about transferring vs destroying the existing registry? If it was my responsibility, I would destroy it. It is too full of holes for me confidently transfer that information. It would use just as much resources to verify existing information as would to re-register everyone and verifying the registry would be at the bottom of the "to-do" list because the registry is already populated. Bad information would delay investigations as much as no information.

I know there are guns in our home, they are not mine and I have not fired them. I tried skeet shooting as an Air Cadet and in my 20s when a boyfriend inherited some black power rifles we shot them at a range. It was fun and I think it would be fun to try pistol shooting as long as the targets were just the round ones. Yet, I am for rigorous gun control. Virtually every handgun and automatic weapons crime is Canada is done with an illegal weapon and the public are not allowed to have concealed weapons. Users are investigated and  must pass a gun safety test before they can get a gun or ammunition in a store. If there is domestic violence, any FAC is re-examined. No onerous requirements. I would like all guns to be registered but I'm not sure it would be a more effective control than existing peer pressure and better border inspection/control.

Saturday, September 17, 2011

First week with the Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1

Why yes that is a Sony UX50 I'm using as an alarm clock
I had been looking around at all the new tablets that have come out this year and comparing them to my Galaxy Tab 7 that I got late last year; I liked the idea of a bigger screen but none of the new tabs really called to me. Not much thinner or lighter and I didn't see what all the fuss was about with Honeycomb. ( I really hate updating my stuff once I have it running the way I want it so an improvement has to be substantial.) Then my Tab got the long awaited Gingerbread update. Wow - fast, smooth ... no blue tooth. Wait, what? My BT speaker and BT keyboard no longer work. Apparently Bell figured only people who want to crack the device and use it as a phone would want blue tooth. Uh no but if you're going to be like that I can cancel my tab plan. So I did.

With no data plan I decided to look for a WiFi tablet. I've been putting away some money from participating in market research so I figured with selling the GTab7 I could afford any of the tablets out on the market. The only ones I hadn't really looked at was the iPad2 and the GTab 10.1 I have no other Apple stuff and that glaring white bezel and almost square form factor on the iPad2 didn't do anything for me. How about the GTab. Light, rectangle, black front with white back. No SD slot. Checked out my use on my GTab 7 and I don't actually use that much memory so that's not an issue. Went to FutureShop, brought it home. I had 7 days to return.

The first thing I did, after getting it out of the box is pair my BT keyboard and little Monster speaker. Yay they work! I downloaded stuff from Market and checked that it worked. The screen is amazing. The device itself is light weight and easy to hold.  I like to use devices in portrait mode and the bit narrower form factor of the GTab really works for me;  when I use thumb keyboard I don't have to super stretch my thumbs. Books work really well on it, as does Zinio, and I love how web pages load the same way they do on a computer (and work the same way). Streaming is very nice, Google Music works great and if I need to I can just throw a movie and a few albums in the memory.

Down side - none of the Sammy stuff is on there. No AllShare and iMediaShare doesn't work - honeycomb? Most of my stuff is optimized for small screen so I may have to re-rip my movies. My sling player software is also optimized for the smaller screen but I can live with that.  An annoyance - what's with the stupid 5 screens? I've spread stuff over 3 but really could have used just one. I'll probably buy AWD launcher if Samsung doesn't send out the update they pushed to the I/O Tab. I find the no bezel button thing disorienting. This tablet really is designed to be used in landscape mode. If you use it in portrait the volume rocker is either backwards or it's too easy to bump the power button and turn off of the screen.

When I first got the device I wasn't sure I was going to keep it but I think that's because I spent the first day trying to make it like my existing Tab. Day 2 I enjoyed it for what it is (stuck with 5 pages) and I bought a cover case in purple from ebay - or at least I hope I did, it may be light blue:P

Friday, August 19, 2011

O_o Google and Motorola

The big tech news Monday was, of course, the Google offer to purchase Motorola. Instantly, speculation as to the motivation being simply patent acquisition started up. That may be, Leo Laporte et al. were discussing what's included in the purchase during This Week in Tech and it seems Motorola has some key patents for innovation going forward. Hand set manufactures issued statements that were eerily similar fueling speculation that they are not happy. Welcome to the world of business communication.

I work for a publicly held multi-national that regularly takes over other companies. The new units are absorbed into existing units and either bolster existing manufacturing or ease the company costs as it transitions into new areas. Most likely it's similar in the tech industry. Regardless of the "don't be evil" mantra, Google is a publicly traded company and their shareholders are not going be on board with over paying to buy out a less profitable product.

So, if the purchase goes through what happens to our variety of slab faced devices with ever growing screen space?

IMHO as long as the o/s is provided at no charge and updated in a timely manner, I see no reason for Samsung, HTC etc. to bail on Android even if Google retains the Moto hardware division. All hardware manufacturers provide different user experiences. Geeks may prefer the vanilla version of android but it's been missing a lot of pieces. Samsung did the last Nexus iteration and still took a long time to get the GB update to their Galaxy S line. But much of the features integrated in 2.3 (pano photos, front camera support) was already cooked in to the Samsung user experience regardless of whether they used the TouchWiz launcher. 2.3 made my device run smoother but didn't add any overt features.

What would Google do with the hardware division aside from provide competition for the Nexus phone? Drive handset innovation by trying different types of batteries (solar?), memory, rugged configurations for isolated areas replacing the aging Symbian system devices. Research more uses for android (home robotics, more responsive smart home controls?). Licensing those uses to the other manufacturers. That's what the company I work for appears to do. They have a main product but research different uses for that product to expand their sales of core products.

Regardless of what happens, it will be an exciting time for consumers as handsets become our communication connection and personal computer.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Oh the Humanity

The humanities have always been a tough sell. I grew up in the '70s and even then the idea was that if you got a degree in the arts (English, philosophy, art, music) you were prepared for any job as you were thought how to think and had a record for completing things. I think that last part had something to do with sticking it out through uni. It is no surprise that liberal arts degrees are in less demand than ever. Seems that all education, from trades to graduate degree is directed at mostly getting a job. Interest groups are the ones focusing on humanities; animal rights, anti vaccination and environmental activists are a style of bioethics, sceptics work the critical thinking arena, philosophy is more directed by feminists and atheists. And all of it is put out on blogs.

Why would this be a bad thing? After all, the humanities have been taken out of the Ivory Tower to the People. This can only be a good thing as it encompasses more people. Am I right?

People are very good at being critical but not as good as provide broad range solutions. Interest groups don't have the power to enforce long term change. Case in point - abortion. Vocal anti-abortion groups are not satisfied with being able to choose not to have an abortion so they attempt to bomb clinics, kill doctors. Mandatory reversible birth control of both sexes where one applies for a reproductive license would be an equally extreme solution. A long term solution would be factual sex education (frequently repeated in the hopes it would stick), accessible birth control and fertilized ova transplant services.

We are also very poor at empathy leading to being good at being manipulated. Studies have shown that anecdotes are effective because the larger the group we consider, the less emotional impact  they have on us. Like it or not, we are part of a global community. How does what we do in one place impact the lives of others? It would be a good thing if somewhere along the education line people were giving critical thinking tools, and these tools are the humanities.

When I was in school we had language arts. Although I did well in it, I can only appreciate the tools we were being given in retrospect. While parents were bemoaning the loss of grammar from the curriculum, we were learning how to use our imagination through short story and poetry composition; effective communication, critical thinking and philosophy through essay analysis. These tools complement the ones I learned in science labs. After deciding what questions to ask I could actually find some answers through experimentation. Using scientific criteria I could determine how consistently the results answered the questions. Ideally this would lead to new questions based on the answers.

Like the Sciences, the Humanities have been "jobified". English has become Communications. Philosophy has become Human Resources. Both are not valued in general because they are not rote series actions and frequently non-intuitive. They are open to structured criticism by peers and not easy because of specialized language so they are difficult to teach well. Most importantly people don't feel the being imaginative and exploratory is integral to daily living. I can't imagine this is much different than any other time.

Friday, August 12, 2011

Tone trolling or politeness?

One thing that really struck me reading about Elevator-gate is how people insisted they had the "right" to speak to someone regardless of the circumstance. Points were given for not going to the next level of interaction which would have been physically insisting the person being spoken to went along with  the speaker. Questions were asked about rules for initiating conversation. All through it I thought, how hard is it to check the other person's response and grind your desire to interact to a halt rather than inflict yourself on someone?

I may have to re-evaluate. I was reading an article in the National Post (sorry no link) that was headlined something to the effect of work places getting ruder. Being a article, the comments were full of how other people were rude. For some it was the chatterer who kept talking while the other person itched to get on with their day. For some it was the coworker that didn't engage in conversation. Another mention goes to those wearing earphones to isolate themselves from the world. It was also brought up that it's up to the bosses to set the tone.

Part of the problem is what people consider rude. My M-I-L told us the story of a 3 generational family out for supper in a restaurant. Adults were talking, kids were playing on their handheld gaming unit. Her point was that it was rude for the children to be playing rather than interacting with the adults. We felt the parents were really considerate of other diners by ensuring the kids were entertained while confined in a public space. Keep the forced interaction to more private (or lonely) locations, like home. Wil Wheaton related a story of a family in an airport and felt as my M-I-L did. Sad that everyone in a family was doing solo things rather than interacting as a family. I empathize with the the family since when I travel it's long distances with changes. Stress of finding luggage, gates etc makes me relish the down time when I can just sit and do my own thing (this is why I prefer to travel alone).

I interact a lot of places in RL and on the internet. At work, I try to be aware of when I'm babbling and when others are trying to get tasks done. Most co-workers do the same or I excuse myself. It's not that hard. On line, I tend to hang out where people try to be agreeable or at least don't attack others for comments. An easy example was on Eileen Riviera's thread about the HTC Bliss. Another G+ er and I were talking about how products marketed for girls/women are not just pink but have inferior specs to items targeted to men. Some guy had to defend everyone's choice to be spoken down to. On some some boards that would be a signal for the mansplainer epitaph but for this forum, it was just ignored our of politeness. That's situational awareness that some people (not on the autistic spectrum) are struggling with.

Perhaps Stef McGraw was correct. All the preliminary chat about saying Watson saying she didn't want to be approached isn't necessarily a indication of sexism, it could just be rudeness. I did ask my SO though and he felt the guy was being sexist by my SO is quite polite as well. He was in a no loose situation. If she said yes, he'd know he's changed her mind about what she was intending to do; if she said no, he would have invaded her space. Not being self centered is hard I guess.

Sunday, July 31, 2011

More about elevatorgate

It's amazing how long this is going on and how divisive this episode has been for the sceptic community. The way people have been defending their position and demanding apologies made me re-examine my position think about different elements and what it would have taken for me to change my thoughts on McGraw at least. I've not been a fan of Skepchick nor had I visited the CFI site before this outbreak.

Watson - mean for calling out McGraw the way she did? I don't think so. It was an audience of 100 and to draw people in by showing how you can have an unconscious bias can be very effective. Had she spend a substantial amount of time on it I could see it being a problem. From a position of meh, I stayed at a position of meh. She's right, that's not the way to get more women into the sceptical community.

McGraw - victim? Only of sloppy thinking. I was not impressed with how she cherry picked Watson's story to make Watson look like a killjoy. I was even less impressed with her response to being called out. What could she have done that I would have respected? Instead of brushing aside the details of the encounter with EG in the follow up post, she could have pointed out that this is not sexism as much as a side effect of celebrity that all people encounter and built on that. Or discussed expectations of different styles of feminism. I'm sure there was a lot of traffic to the site with all the blogging that's been going on. Discuss the assumption of bias; show some critical thinking skills.

Dawkins with his muslina comment and follow up. That's simple. Compare Watson's experience in an elevator with a "fan" to his own experience in an elevator with a "fan" - surely he's had one. I wouldn't think it unusual to feel intimidated by a stranger in a small space, but that's a female perspective.

I've also thought about rape and dysfunctional relationships. I remember when, in Canada wording was changed to sexual assault. Thinking was that this downgrade the importance of rape by putting it on a spectrum that includes unwanted touching. Now I'm not so sure. Unlike assault, when there is an accusation of rape the accusation is heavily examined before taking any action against the accused. When people are assaulted physical evidence is enough; there is less assumption that the accuser is lying. I'm also unsure that being assaulted is any less traumatic than being sexually assaulted. In both cases a person's trust and integrity has been violated. Depending on the person's personality and the extent of the assault, she may or may not ever overcome the event.

And dysfunctional (heteronormative) relationships - I always wonder what could have been done differently to avoid the situation. In the case of women why is it the victim who has to move, change names and work so hard to get away while the guy goes on his merry way? In the case of men, how do we encourage men to report female bullies and get relief rather than being though of as unmanly?

So many questions. Still so little experience.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Multi-National Companies - a force for ethics?

This post has been percolating ever since our last round of ethics training started at work.  Our training cycles seems to have accelerated and widened in the past few years. It's gone from an annual lecture to mostly management on not to give/take bribed to biannual training that is attended by everyone. While we still  get told that bribery isn't acceptable there are more subtle examples of things we can't do. Happily training has gotten much better. In the last round we had to watch well produced videos in the style of "the Office". All employees got to see that there alternatives to cringe worthy management style and recourse.

I first realized  the effect of multinationals when we got a share holders vote card in the main about hiring policies. Should hiring be discriminatory, in Ireland, based on religion. Of course not we voted from our secularized home country. We did talk about inflicting our values on a  society bogged down in a religious fight but felt discrimination should not be institutionalized. Bad us, interested enough to vote yet not interested enough to follow up.

This becomes more important now because the loud voices out of the US seems to eschew any type of generosity between out groups. While there's a ton of noise about abortion in the US and not funding it, in Canada abortion is just another medical procedure and cannot be de-funded.  What if a Canadian, with corporate insurance, suffers a miscarriage while on holidays to the US? While the US struggles with sexual equality, Corporate benefits extend to same sex relationships in Canada, after all everyone has the right to get married here. If you move an employee from the US to Canada, what happens to benefits when they move back home. The Multi I work for puts Canada in the US domestic bucket. Does this mean that USians get the same coverage as Canadians? How does this jive with intolerant State law?

Last year I went to HR with a comment about Christmas boxes. Not because I'm against Christmas or gifting children but because enough people had mentioned to me that they felt there were alternative SECULAR organizations that wouldn't proselytize under the cover of being interfaith. I wasn't happy with local management response (that's not religious) so I sent it up the ladder. Shortly after, acceptable charitable organizations were clarified again to be mostly donation matching to the Red Cross.


Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Elevatorgate - why companies have training on harassment.

Elevatorgate has been sweeping the skeptisphere, it seems like forever. It started with a Rebecca Watson video complete with tip that an unknown guy asking a woman to their room for coffee at 4:30 is creepy.

Then the internet thing takes over...A response from a college student McGraw that Watson is just wrong to deny men and woman have sexual feelings. Then Watson uses the response to illustrate the faces of sexism as a prelude to a talk about the Republican war on women. Then McGraw and her supporters complain that Watson was harassing her by naming her because McGraw couldn't respond right away. People started conflating a brief encounter in an elevator that Watson used to illustrate how not to meet women with attempted rape. Men start protesting they can *NEVER* approach any women if they have to consider context. Richard Dawkins chimes just to be a douche. Ongoing posts from Watson sticks to the topic of feminism in the sceptic community.  Follow up post from McGraw sticks to talking about how unfair it was to use her as an example of sexism.

Frankly I'm not seeing her point. I went to see if McGraw would actually come up with an reason why she should not be considered to be sexist based on her comment. There was a lame, "transcribing is hard and I didn't think it was important" excuse. Religious people don't think they're cherry picking the bible either. Yes, especially if it takes away from your point that Watson is frigid and ruining it for the girls that go to conferences to get laid. Regardless of what McGraw thinks about a power iniquity, this episode sent many people to *her* website to see *her* response. This was her opportunity to present a good argument about why her comment was not sexist/anti woman and she didn't have one.

I've been slowly transitioning my sceptic/atheist sites from male voices to female voices. I tried Skepchick several years ago and found it too...lite. I'll try it again. I can't give up Pharyngula because PZ is such a good writer-whether you agree with him or not, he has actual points to think about and backs them up (sometimes unsuccessfully). BlagHag for sure. McGraw for sure not.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Phones, phones, phones

I've been watching as the new phones start coming out for Q3. With the new crop, devices will have more processor speed, a higher performance camera and a new OS version but do I want to upgrade? Luckily I've had some time to think about it while I talk to other people who are thinking of upgrading their phones.

I was golfing with a co-worker and he said that his carrier was trying to get him into a smartphone, what did I think. I asked what he used his phone for and he said calls and texting. I asked if he wanted to do more and he said no. No brainer, resist the smartphone pitches. Maybe look at a feature phone.

My SIL is thinking of upgrading although she's in a tough spot. She has SaskTel as the only available service provider and it, in spite of being a provincial utility, has decided that her ranch isn't really part of Saskatchewan, even though they pay Sask taxes, so they aren't going to have service there. She can use her phone most other places though. Smart phone or feature phone. She would like a large font so she can read texts without having to use her glasses. You can do that with a Blackberry, I can do that using Handcent, couldn't find the option in WP7 although I'm sure the feature is there sometime (or will be). Again, I think a feature phone would be the best for her, just one with adjustable text.

Friends come over with their kids who have iPods, she has Torch and iPad, he has iPhone. Kids start to get bored so, like many instances, we pull out our smart phones. The LG has nice hand feel, slide out keyboard and WP7. Big tiles that  are appealing to new users. The Galaxy S has beautiful screen and Android 2.2. but for this I actually pulled out my GTab as personal stuff is not on screen as widgets. Kids like to message and stuff so we played with LiveProfile.

This is where WP7 really falls down. No multi-tasking, not a big deal if the task swapping is well managed but out of the cross platform app loop is a deal breaker. I want more than a feature phone and to me WP7 is currently a feature phone with ties to Xbox and Zune. None of the stuff I do is supported by WP7. I haven't found a cross platform IM app, no reading/store apps - although overdrive (public libraries) has one, no Slingbox. Pretty games and expensive apps is all I see on a system that is no easier than any other if you want to do more than what's on the surface.

I got WP7 as a tester to see if I would want to upgrade to one. While it's great for a new user, it has failed on it's promise to upgrade frequently and OTA and still doesn't have platform support. In the end, even though I am one of the 2 people who liked the features of WM6.5 and was somewhat interested in WP7, it's not for me. Google tools are easy to use once you get over the initial learning bump. tiles are nice enough, widgets are awesome. Most of the stuff out there for Apple has a Android equivalent. From now on, when I'm asked about a smart phone suggestion, one of my questions will be whether anyone else they know has a WP7. It's way too easy to get left out of the loop with one.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Dogs and gods

Was reading Dispatches from the Culture Wars and he was blogging about a rabbi who things that caring for pets leads people away from the bible. Bahahah how nuts I thought at first, but then I thought further about how could sharing your house with a dog lead you away from needing a god in your life.

Disclaimer - I have 2 dogs. They are super cute even when they need a good brush. They sleep on the bed at night and don't have a job other than to be companions. Milo guards us from the wind while he dreams, under a tree at the far end of the fence, of long walks outside the yard while Duffy can barely stand to be away from his humans, flopping down close by whenever possible. When I talk about a companion animal I can only reference dogs (and fish) because that's mostly what we've had.

One thing having a pet shows you is that we are not the only species that has an emotional life. It may not be *our* kind of emotion but if animals "work" by instinctual response then we do too. Pets are generally responsive to each other and humans. Even if we are anthropomorphizing, that wouldn't be possible if we didn't recognize some basis for that, not many people get as attached to even their cars the same way. 

Another is unconditional love. Unlike the unconditional love that God is suppose to have for you if you accept him and his son and the contradictory rules set out in his book, dogs are there to greet you happily no matter when you get home or what you treat them like when you get there. If you are sad they can provide warm body to hug and ears to whisper your loss into. You don't have to do anything special and they won't blab.

All pets teach you about death and how to be humane. Most dogs have a shorter life span than humans so if you have one, you are likely to have to deal with  loss. Our first dog died while on a walk; my first brush with sudden death. Carrying him home was indescribably and I don't know that I would have been more affected by the sudden death of an acquaintance. He carried a lot of pain for me in his life and taught me to grieve publicly. Our second dog had a rough go. When he was 2 he developed autoimmune disease and liver failure. We got him back to health but then he got kidney disease. By the time we realized what was going on it was too late. We took him to the vet to be put to sleep because it was more merciful than having him lethargic and vomiting blood for the short time more he was likely to live. I wanted so badly for the vet to provide a miracle cure but it was not to be. He taught me to make hard decisions.

When you live with a house animal companion, you see that personalities aren't restricted to humans which leads away from the idea that we're super special and thus away from a need for a god. So I guess I agree with the rabbi; we just disagree about whether this is a good thing.

Saturday, June 4, 2011


A co-worker's daughter is marrying her high school fella and since I was invited, I thought I would attend. They've been together for a long time (around 7 years) so I've heard how first she thought he was ok then they moved together away from town, then moved back, then got engaged and she was so excited.

On Tuesday I will have been married to the same guy for 25 years. I will have spent exactly half my life as a married person with this last name. We met, were friends for a few months then dated, got engaged right away and married a year later. Good things about being married for a so long:

  • a shared history so you can laugh at and with each other
  • having another viewpoint at hand
  • seeing change in yourself and your partner
I think this couple has learned a lot of this already. I hope they continue to have a happy life together.

Friday, June 3, 2011


Summer is a tough time to watch your weight and our summer is short enough that I would rather just spend it having fun than fretting about food. I don't really do exercise classes, I just target one activity a day. Most of the time I walk to work or golf or try a class that I enjoy but don't do regularly.

I just looked at the NRG4Life summer schedule and, darn, Thursday night is pretty well perfect for a double class, something I never do in the summer. Dare I hope the double will stick through the next year? I love doing advanced step and to follow it up with Yoga -perfection. Almost as good would be Zumba followed by Yoga.

I guess we'll see. I really struggled with weight maintenance this spring. I was out of town a lot so I ate more and missed a lot of my classes. And the classes at the time I could go were fun but I felt I didn't work as hard as I could have. I did do more Yoga and I'm sticking with that for sure over summer.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Pro Choice - the secular, pro woman stance

I was reading around the intrawebs. I've started reading more more women skeptics and I'm glad I have or I wouldn't have come on this gem by Skepchick. While men get get behind fighting creationism in the classroom as a sceptical cause, only a woman could identify the root of all the anti abortions/anti choice  lawmaking going on in the US as an effect of the religiosity blooming in the Republican Party. Since it's packaged with abstinence style birth control, reducing access to contraception and the desire to return women to a cloistered role in society.

As a non-USian I can roll my eyes and vow never to go to a state that discriminates against women and same sex unions-I don't say gays because that implies to me a men's movement. As such, it will eventually be accepted and respected. Not so much with women's rights in the US.  Rebecca Watson identifies 49 states with 916 bills that have restricted reproductive rights in the works and those that have passed are horrifying. It is unlikely to work out ok for women; one just has to look at the ERA failure. In the States that have passed laws, women have to put with defunded Planned Parenthood, vaginal ultrasound  (I can't imagine how well that would go over with a casualty of rape) with description (now let's torture women terminating a wanted child with genetic defects) and now no insurance coverage from ANY provider, not just the State.

Pervasive in our society is the idea that women get pregnant, are simply inconvenienced by the getting bigger part then love the outcome in the end. Men taking the pro choice stance usually focus on rape as a reason for needing abortion services. This is a huge lack of imagination. One of the great things about the Jerry Springer effect is that women no longer have to experience pregnancy to enter that the "procreation girls club" that lets you know of all the things that can go wrong. That's important because women lack imagination as well. Women that I've know to have abortions have done so because the fetus has died after 5 or even 8 months, a miscarriage that didn't complete, defective fetal development and ectopic pregnancy. When anti-abortion laws are passed, I wonder about those women, the ones that Tiller and Kvorkian helped. I don't know how many women I know have simply chosen to terminate as a choice because it's none of my business. I do know when I worked in a hospital in the '80s, people were outraged that all procedures were listed as D&Cs rather than identifying those slutty women who used abortion as birth control.

Why do women buy into these laws? The risk of pregnancy is outweighed by the benefit of offspring for most women. I knew a woman who miscarried and at that point became anti-abortion because she was devastated and thought other women should be prevented from that grief. When I pointed out women who chose abortion would not necessarily feel that grief (not a shining hour for tact on my part) she implied that would be inhuman. Many women seem to buy into the idea that they cannot make a decent decision without the help of a man. News flash, many decisions men make are poor as well.

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Election 2011 winds down - yay

Canadians are going to the polls for the 4th time in 5 years. What we gained by not crashing hard during the last economic downturn is being wasted buy power plays. There is only one thing I wish we would adopt from US political structure and that is specific wait times between elections that cannot be overturned unless there is a vote of non-confidence. That would have removed just one of the elections but one is better than none.

I thought I would never understand the knee jerk opposition to Harper. To me he's pretty much like our family of 2 working adults. His Calgary home isn't in a super rich area, his wife ran a successful business. He said he would put the same sex marriage thing up for vote in parliament and he did while phrasing it in way that could not possible overturn the Supreme Court judgement. In spite of personal beliefs he has held the line on abortion being a medical procedure like any other. First time as PM he made 5 election promises and kept them. The social fears of (mainly) Metro-Torontonians seem really out to lunch especially since our civil rights are protected and Canadians rarely go on about "activist judges". I don't want the Conservatives to have a majority because I don't think that best serves a country as diverse as ours but I can accept him representing Canada.

Since I've developed a negative reaction to Ignatieff I'm a little more sympathetic to those anti-Harper folks. I was very surprised that the Liberals brought, what is in essence, an American to be their party leader. Here is someone who as spent most of his adult life in the US as it wandered further and further to the right.  Under his leadership there has been no interest in working with the CPC, just creating conflict.  He can't even be bothered to do his job by attending Parliament. And there's his amazing statement that even if Harper got the majority minority he'd persuade the Gov Gen.that *Ignatieff* should be the PM forming a minority coalition. Even as a throw away comment that is deeply disrespectful of the Canadian Electorate. A sore loser that appeals to authority to "win".

Which brings us to the NDP. I actually think a coalition of NDP and CPC could bring the balance Canada needs.  Do good things for Canadians at a reasonable cost. The CPC initiative of getting physicians to areas in need by forgiving student loans actually mesh well with the idea of the NDP desire to get rid of cell phone contract to make cell phones like any other utility; both widen the availability of services to everyone. Encourage small business, ensure a stable social net, hold big business accountable are all things the CPC and NDP could work on together.

And to my surprise those could be the big 2 after tomorrow. NDP is gaining support in Quebec and running neck-in-neck with the Liberal party. If Layton does become official opposition and does well, the next election  - hopefully in 4 to 5 years - could be really  interesting.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Art - what is it good for?

Art, a snapshot of a culture. Not only the art created but the art that survives tells a lot about the impression a culture wishes to leave to history. Art has to be especially scary in authoritarian times, it requires imagination to create and provokes emotion when viewed. Luckily it's very easy to denigrate.

The first art controversy I remember is when the Canadian government purchase a piece of art for the national museum that consisted of 3 stripes. Oh the outrage over the photograph of the painting. What a waste of money. I, jumped on that band wagon as well. Really, even I can create 3 stripes of colour and I'm no expert but I know what I like. Fast forward a couple decades; I went to an exhibition and spent most of my time standing in front of a white canvas. If photographed it would look like a polar bear beside an igloo in a blizzard. In reality there was an amazing display of texture and pattern impressed on that white canvas. I haven't seen the 3 stripes but I can appreciate that if I did, they would speak to me the same way.

The first time an exhibit really made an impact on me was when I went to see The Castration of St. Paul. A friend said we should go see it while it was on campus. I wasn't much interested in going to see photos of 30 male groins but I went anyway. I thought I would walk through unaffected, perhaps a little embarrassed, but the photographic style was very effective and the shear numbers emphasised the tradition of patriarchy entrenched in religious authority. And that any male midriffs could stand in for any saint worth noting, well you know who the important ones are.

Piss Christ, created a few years before the Castration of St. Paul exhibit, was irreparably damaged this month by a religious mob while on display in France. A Christian's ambiguous comment on the cheapening of religious icons has been destroyed at a time when religion is openly being used to get people to toe an authoritarian line of an earlier age. Had the artist not named the piece Piss Christ, one would simply marvel at the lighting that created an unearthly glow that reflects the holiness of Jesus. If only religious adherents had matured enough to see the irony of their protest.

I wish I could have seen this exhibit. A small image on a computer screen is compelling, I can only imagine the effect of the 60x40 inch work.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Holiday eating

There's nothing like a being out of routine to totally distort your eating habits. This has been a tough winter for me as I've travelled for work during what is usually my fitness focus time. Then we went on a 2 week holiday. It reminded me that weight loss about more than just counting calories and/or going to the gym.

While studies show exercise doesn't make you loose weight by "balancing" calories it does give many important benefits. I admire people who travel intermittently and fit in exercise. I always intend to do it first thing in the morning since I usually have more time but instead I take advantage of being able to sleep in. Rats. I find business trips very sedentary. Not only is there little time during the day for walking around, but frequently the evenings are scheduled with activities that aren't particularly active. I find it easy to just suspend my activities until I get back home. I'm sure if I actually travelled regularly I would find a way to incorporate exercise. Holidays are different of course as you set your own schedules. When we go for our tropical vacation we do stuff we don't do at home because of time or availability. Most days we kayak, snorkel and walk as much as possible since we aren't on a schedule.

Over time I have come to prefer grilled food over fried food, internalized schedule eating so I don't snack when I have nothing to do, and better estimate serving size. I know I have to be careful as, like so many, if I get really hungry feeling I over eat tremendously. I also find that the novelty of free fall gorging gets thin pretty quickly, although dessert never seems to get old :^)

So how did it work out this year? After holidays I noticed my exercise clothes fit differently. I'm in the middle of the BMI range but I have developed a tummy so it feels to me like I'm doing crunches with a firm pillow in the way. Just a reminder that sweets are not a food group.

I've read articles denigrating the attitude that to loose weight effectively one has to consider it a lifestyle change. I think it can't be emphasised enough that without that lifestyle change any weight loss effort is bound to fail over the long term. Weight gain is quite subtle and it's easy to get into a bouncing cycle or just resign yourself to buying larger clothes every year. It would be awesome if everyone learned healthy eating before having a weight problem but our culture seems to be more into being reactive than proactive.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Canada heads into an election

The charm of Canadian politics is that we can go to a Federal election any time a vote of non-confidence is held and failed. Not so charming is most Canadians confuse Canadian politics with US politics. It happens with laws too. In spite of strict gun control, people wanted even more in the aftermath of the  Ecole Polytechnique Massacre in the late 80s.

The main way our system is different than the US system is we vote for a party not the Prime Minister. Yet not all parties field candidates in all Ridings (Bloc anyone?) and it's frequently difficult to find a respected candidate in an area that leans heavily in one direction (Quebec, the prairies). Peeps moving into politics have to very dynamic, have a strong civic record that doesn't just rely on the success of the current government and be very community spirited. And they have to be strong enough to choose a party that isn't necessarily the winning one.

Case in point is Ralph Klein. Here is a politician that had very liberal policies yet chose to join the Conservative Party. Most people were amazed. He did do a lot of Conservative things, that as usual mostly affected women. Things like cutting welfare to the bone, rolling back public employees by 10% - teachers, admin, nurses (effectively by 20% since the union cut 10% through voluntary retirement etc. in an effort to assist) but I think it could have been much worse. As usual he did a lot of things that helped business which ends up not as bad since business hadn't figured out the jobless recovery thing.

Moving to the Federal stage, we have Harper (Conservative) and Ignatieff  (Liberal) squaring off with Layton (NDP) able to influence policy as the strongest 3rd party. I would love to meet my Liberal candidate but I probably won't since this is a very strong Conservative riding. Same with the NDP rep. It would make a difference to me. Although right now, the only PM candidate I would vote for now is Harper or Layton I am voting for a Member.

And why wouldn't I vote for Ignatieff even though the Liberals have done great things for Canada? He's spent way too much time in the US (over half his life) Even though it was at a liberal private Uni, the US version of liberalism is way right of Canadian Conservatism. I grew up in NDP BC yet, because I moved to a Conservative province I find myself influenced by conservative truisms unless I am careful. Am I going to support someone who had been embedded in an affluent US lifestyle? At least Harper lives in a normal home in a reasonably affordable neighbourhood.

I want the minority government to function in way that promotes the best of all the party ideals not stupid posturing and wasteful spending on voting. By all means promote open government and bring forward things that could change our culture (like more prisons when we have less crime) but you can do that best during sessions.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Samsung wants my $$

This is the first year I paid attention to all the new tech coming out and I must have been talking it up because my SO picked up my Galaxy S the other day and started playing with it. When I asked him what he was doing he said he was getting ready to take possession of his new phone since I'd be itching to buy soon. Surprisingly this isn't so.

Not that long ago I was very enthused about my Omnia II right up until MS decided to completely disconnect WP7 from WM 6.5. Huh? Get rid of all those applications and user base. Well if I have to purchase everything over again I may as well look around. I stuck with Samsung and ended up with my Galaxy S. I knew I'd made the right choice when I read teach writers going on about android fragmentation LOL. I've been really happy with it. It's been upgraded to Froyo and by the time there's a totally new iteration of android OS I'll be comfortable with the idea of doing the custom ROM. Sammy has said the SGS will be upgraded to 2.3 but I'm happy with what I have now. It's a solid device that does everything I want it to. So no phone unless android update and totally doesn't support existing apps.

What about the new tablets that have been announced or an iPad. I looked hard at getting an iPad and decided on the Galaxy Tab, smaller, lighter, front/back cameras, SD slot, flash - what's not to choose. The new Tabs look great but I won't be trading up for one of those either since I like what I have. It's super comfortable for reading books. All the apps I bought for my SGS download onto my tab at no extra cost and I like the hubs.The only disappoint I've had is Zinio.

I did get a new computer though. Samsung (again) had a very attractive looking laptop but I have a laptop. It's broken but I'm getting it fixed  - or so I hope. I ended up with an HP all-in-one and the only thing I don't like is the keyboard but it's wireless and I can get a new one for $100 if I can't adjust to this one. I love having the large screen and since I did early migration to Win7 at work, this wasn't a big stretch. Everything I wanted, slingbox, kies, installed and worked right away. Huh.

So no new fun tech for me. I think I'm at the age where I want stuff to just work and once it does for me, I'm happy for now but if anyone wants to send me a new device I will do an unbox and nice review like I did for the Momax 2700mAh battery I got.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Long marriage - how does that work?

Every year as we get ready to go away we think about our anniversary because we decided on our 20th anniversary to start going to the Cook Islands for a winter holiday. This year I've been especially aware because I will have had my married persona for as long as I had my non-married persona on our anniversary.
This year there have been some other things prompting the evaluation. A couple of wedding invitations, a post by PZ Myer's marriage being worth less than Newt Gingrich's in the eyes of US right wing mouth pieces, (Mr. G has a poor track record of sticking around-his previous wives should probably be happy euthanasia is illegal in the US) and comments on an review of Spousonomics by Canada AM. 
I really liked the idea of running your marriage like a small business because in the end, that's what a modern marriage is - a partnership that takes an effort to be successful. One of the key concepts identified is recognizing that there is a finite amount of time and everything takes time to do, too many tasks and something has to give. If that something is always the same person's personal time the partnership is unlikely to be as successful as it could be.
A long time ago I read an article about how to negotiate and I used it to redistribute household chores. Like most people I regard housekeeping as a necessary evil and, like most people find it profoundly unrewarding. Getting stuck with most of it wasn't working out. Because I'm a geek, I listed all the chores and assigned time and  frequency to each task with the view of equalizing the time. Then, and this is the important part, we sat down and listed which was  most important to us and which we really disliked doing.  Then chores were distributed evenly with no  one doing the stuff they really either dislike or don't care about. And I made a chart:)  By doing a lot of background, we got past the accusations of who does all the work (me).
Another mention from Spousenomics that resonated was the don't go to sleep angry idea. Keeping someone up to argue is about  winning. Who doesn't benefit from leaving a situation while conflicted. Think things over, identify the root point and talk when things have cooled down a bit.
So how do you have  long, content marriage? Treat the other member as a partner an recognize they have their own interests that may not be yours. 

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Tackling childhood obesity in Canada

Earlier this week Canada started an initiative to reduce childhood obesity and apparently there are a bunch of comments on news stories about how easy it is to lose weight and who's fault it is there are so many obese people around. I have to wonder how many of these commenters have maintained even a 5 kilo weight loss.  It seems many people  think they are exempt from BMI due to big bones, never step on a scale etc.

First the advantages of being non obese in case you think it's all about looks and meaness. Less pills as you age to prevent high blood pressure, control blood sugar levels, mitigate gout and control cholesterol levels. Decrease bone and soft tissue injury from extra weight bearing and body size (public structures constructed for smaller body sizes).

Research has confirmed that it is mostly about controlling calorie intake and getting sufficient exercise but this is not as simple as chucking kids outside and starving them at meal times. It does start with parental habits, then teachers and youth leaders and finally all adults. If you get used to the idea that everyone is large, being a little larger is also easy.

The first idea that has to be changed is the idea of going on a diet. Yes diet is what we eat everyday but for many the word diet is linked with deprivation. When we decided to lose weight we were changing our eating habits, finding foods we enjoyed that were more nutritious than our other choices and bringing those foods home from the grocery store. We don't eat a structured evening meal so we get quick to prepare foods that we like-not cans of stuff but fixings for quesedillias-and getting the smaller portion size. We plan our eating out because meals are guaranteed to have double the calories of what we would eat at home unless we choose a kids meal or seniors portion.

People need to build activity into the day whether it is walking to work or school or making teachers and students move around between classes.  After schools is where the activity games are helpful. Kinecs, Move and Wii do not burn a pile of calories but it does decrease sedentary behaviour. Make sure family homes have stairs and encourage their use (this one is easy) with room placement-pass on basement wet bars or only stock for special occasions.

These kind of  actions help change habits.

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Borrowing library e-books

You would think that book publishers would have the library thing figured out by now, after all, I've belonged to a library since I was 5 or 6. You get a card, borrow books, return them on time or pay a fine. Libraries purchase books (through special licence I assume) and lend them out until they are tattered then sell them to raise funds to buy more books. Online, I've used the Baen Free Library for years now, sometimes buying and sometimes just borrowing. Now, through chatting with a member of the cairn list I am on, I've found out about borrowing e-books through the library. This is fantastic and is done through Library2go. I used my library card to register then installed the Overdrive media app on my Galaxy Tab. Software is available for PCs, Android devices and, of course, the iPad. The person I got the info from has it direct to her Nook e-reader and Kobo e- reader is supported as well.

How slick is it? Well pretty slick. I can look at the catalogue on my computer or my GTab then select books for check out. I can get up to 5 at a time for either 7 or 14 days. There is a range of stuff available. Check out, down load and poof - new books to read. The reader software is good; has night and day settings, font size adjustments, automatic bookmarking and smooth, responsive page turning. On the splash page,there is a list of books you have out and the amount of time left to read. At the end of the borrowing time, the permission to read is removed from your device - I'm not sure how that works since I haven't gotten there yet. Really the best part is no more late fees - I had to pay $8 in overdue fees to get my library card updated (and I hadn't been to the library for a couple years!). If you're not going to pursue people minimize late fees.

The catalogue is pretty good. I read mainly SciFi and YA. As I get older I find I enjoy stuff I've read in the past (I think people call them classics) so recent publication isn't that essential. I've never read an entire library although I have gotten to the point where I'm waiting for new books a lot. I love the idea of reading different authors through the library. That's how I found Sharon Lee and Steve Miller One library read and I've bought e versions and paper versions of many of their books.

So why do I question if the publishers are "getting it"? Random House is apparently having a problem coming to an agreement with Overdrive. They want e-copies to expire after 26 lends. Why? It's not as if the download files degrade. You are getting libraries to purchase several licenses so they can lend the same book several people at a time when everyone could download from the same file almost at the same time. I get the part about editing etc but people do still buy books that they've borrowed from the library, just like they did with the hard copies.

I hope e-borrowing through your local library really takes off. It may help preserve library access for communities with reduced funding and brings relevance to those of us who don't *need* the library to access the internet or have a quite place to study. It's part of my muni-taxes but I could see this being a value added fee service if it would provide more in house services.

Now I must continue to read The City The City.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

On life and death

Today in the news there were two stories about how people treat their loves ones at the end of their lives. What ties them together is that the ones dying were unable to give consent. One because of due to advanced cancer and one  because of extreme youth.

The first was a man who administered a lethal injection to his wife who was in extreme pain and suffering from terminal cancer. She was not going to recover so he administered a lethal injection and later gave himself up to police. He is wracked with guilt because, even though he acted out of empathy, they hadn't talk about end of life scenarios. It would be hard to know if you did an action like this for the sufferer or yourself. I've taken a sick dog in for euthanasia. I had to know he wasn't going to get better and his quality of life would rapidly deteriorate - my job to ensure he has a  good life, including a reasonable end of life. I couldn't ask his opinion. I can only imagine how his man feels.

If euthanasia was legal the couple could have gotten some end of life options as part of the treatment discussion. Now he will never know, for certain, whether she would rather have died in peace or struggled painfully to the end.

The other story is also sad. A dying infant, in a near persistant vegetative state. Except there is no doubt at all about selflessness. The parents want to give the infant a tracheotomy so the he can die at home. After the procedure the he would in pain unless medicated and the procedure would do nothing to extend life. Courts have said no (legitimate since this would be on the universal healthcare dime). The lawyer of the parents hasn't read the court decision but can't understand why anyone would prevent a this since the infant is near vegetative. Perhaps because it would cause unnecessary pain and suffering to a life?

Another case FOR euthanasia law. By treating euthanasia as simply a medical treatment; human dignity is retained, lines are drawn. As people who love, we have a hard time seeking past our wants to the needs of others. Sometimes an input from someone not emotionally involved adds clarity.

Adult -
Infant -

Friday, February 11, 2011

Galaxy Tab = laptop replacement?

The thing about buying new tech for fun is that you never know when you will break your old tech and really finding out whether you need to replace said old tech. Yesterday I decided to clean between the keys on my laptop and snapped one of the clips for the space key. I can use the space key but what better time to see how functional my Tab is. There are all sorts of new android tablets coming on the market and of course the next generation of iPad. Can tablets replace the net book? Right off the bat I can say this is faster and more responsive than the netbook I tried. Also its easier to tap the screen for the cursor than it is on my Galaxy S.
I posted before about the on-screen keyboard. Since then I've changed from the Samsung keyboard to Better Keyboard. I seem to hit the keys better. I also ordered a case with built in Bluetooth keypad from Brando since I do miss the keyboard. I'm not a big fan of how smudgy the screen gets after some data entry and I have a protector and dry hands. Editing is actually easier in the Tab than on my laptop. Perhaps because it's more like natural reading for me.
I'm using Dolphin HD so I have the option of surfing in mobile or desktop mode. Since I have apps like Tapatalk and Plume I am using the web version. I purchased my keyboard from my tab using PayPal and had the same experience I would have had on my laptop with some pinching to zoom. Not bad at all.
The thing about the Tab is the portability. I'm no long tied to my desk longer tied to my balance ball. I can use my tab while lounging but that's not doing much for fitness and I think doing crunches would be out of the question, maybe some stretches though. The dogs are really liking it because we can all pile on the same chair.
We shall see how this goes. I can still use my laptop and probably will but I can also check stuff at work so I may not miss it such.

Eek I have a neck like a turtle!

Saturday, February 5, 2011

6 words to yourself at 14

If you could go back in time to talk to your 14 year old self, what would you say? What could you say that you would have listened to? Would you be you or an interested stranger? Would you try to change things?

A lot of this depends, of course, on what your childhood was like and how things have panned out. Looking back from the age I am now, I think I had a great childhood. We were never well off and my parents didn't always get along but I had a lot of freedom. I grew up in a tolerant time of increasing civil rights in a peaceful country. Same evil people in the world-there was a rapist free in our area so girls were told not to go to the bathrooms alone even at school-and one of the teachers at my Jr. High was later found to be a pedophile. When you're a kid you are blind to that stuff if its not happening to you.

And now things are good as well. I appreciate having a good life. I've ridden out bad financial times and emotional losses. I may not be as generous as I'd like to be but its somehimg to aspire to.

So in the end I have nothing to say to my 14 year old self. She made pretty good decisions.

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Really, rich just wanna stay rich?

I was just starting out in the work world when the Reaganomics economic theory was embraced in the US. What an attractive idea for the wealthy to push - make us RICHER and we'll take care of you. How had that worked out before? Well there was the French revolution but those were aristocrats not the USians who had pulled themselves up by the bootstraps. I didn't think the rich in the US are more generous about sharing their wealth; traditionally rich have built their fortunes on the backs of people less well-off whether they were slaves or minimally paid workers but …

I thought it was a poor idea just based on human nature and that it was a pity it would take a generation to see the effect of that economic policy. Then I went merrily on my way working through the ups and downs of the Canadian/Alberta economy. I bought a car when interest rates were over 20% because I needed one. We bought our first house when interest rates were over 12%. We both came from frugal families and while we were not as frugal, our financial plan has always been to be net positive if something catastrophic happened to us. Calgary was a strange place of wealth and layoffs so we've always been aware of our debt load which stood us in good stead in the early 90s. We didn't upgrade our lifestyles (much) as money became more available - we hoarded (aka saved).

How has Reaganomics worked out? This article at the Atlantic seems to indicate - not that well for the US middle class. And that would be okay - for the most part USians have brought this on themselves through prosperity churches, sub-prime loans and rampant consumerism - except that these are actually people not just number that are going up and down. Not only do USians not have much of a social net but they seem convinced, individually, that they aren't going to need it so they give tax breaks to the rich and protest about any kind of financial help for the poorer among them that doesn't include a way for the rich to profit. Universal health care? Only if we can make sure private insurance continues to reap profits. Financial regulation? No way. In spite of bank bust cycles (I can remember 3) people insist the rich have to remain on the leading edge of profit just in case they get rich. The economy has bounced back but employment hasn't. Now more than ever, the mid-income earners are going to have to be innovative in order to even stay in place and the poor will become more vilified and touted as a drain on the economy. 

Money has a strange effect on people. The more you have the more you want and the easier it is to justify keeping it to yourself. After all, it allows you to do everything you want without worrying about cost. What if you need that money for something else and you’ve given it away? What if you give that money to – let say health care – and it’s used to give a smoker a lung transplant or an alcoholic a liver transplant or a marginally viable infant a life? What if you disagree with those decisions and you don’t get to be the judge?  Better to just keep it. And it doesn't matter if someone else would judge *you* as unworthy of having that money, you think you’re worthy and that’s all that matters.

This is not a call to massively redistribute wealth but I am glad that Canada does have regulations that protect the people just trying to live their lives the best they can while rewarding the innovative.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Bathing Suits and body image

This is the 5th year we're going to the South Pacific at the end of winter. It's fun because plan past the horrid cold winters we have in Canada. It also provides us with an excuse to get new summer clothes that aren't for golfing. The big thing is bathing suit shopping. This year I am getting and existing suit altered rather than buying a new one because I wear one type of suit at home and one when on holidays and I don't spend much time in a swim suit at home anyway.

Guess which is the holiday suit
I'm kind of curious as to how I even got used to wearing a bikini.

Like most women, I stand in front of a mirror with a critical eye. Even with extra good posture my tummy isn't flat, I don't have 6 pack abs and most likely have cellulite. If you want to go in the water, your bathing suit bottom makes panty lines or the suit will ride up. In stores you stand very close to a non-flattering mirror (and they could be hung at a flattering angle) and who wants to go into the more open part of the change room. It's not even the "no one will know me" effect because we go back to the same place every year and the islands are small enough that we run into the same people all over the place.

It's all part of a mental trick of ignoring parts of your body that create a unproductive critical internal talk. First I got used to exercising in front of mirrors. Sure I had to start by focusing on my shoes but now I prefer access to a mirror while exercising. I can see my posture and make sure I'm working the right muscle groups. Then I started wearing matching underwear so I got used to seeing me in a mirror. It helps that I only wear my suit for water activities. For other activities I may have a bikini under a dress or board shorts.

Now when suit hunting I can focus on whether the colours look good and everything I want covered is covered when I move around and feels comfortable. I've gotten comfortable enough that one year our Xmas card had a picture of me in a bikini ... with the Merry Christmas sign startegically placed of course:)

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Testing - blogging from Galaxy Tab

Over time I'd like to use my new tab for more and more stuff so I'm trying some the Blogger-droid app and seeing how comfortable it would be to hold and type over a period of time. I could get a Bluetooth keyboard that will work with my Tab and Galaxy S Vibrant.

I'm amazed at the strangers who took the time to respond to my tweet by telling me how awful Samsung is for updates. Thank you for the warning but I may have been buying tech since before you were alive. I say that because anyone who's been around for a couple of decades remembers slow, expensive upgrade cycles. The joke around here is the $1200 alarm clock my Sony UX 50 has become because you can't rip tunes in that poor quality and it needs a new battery although everything else works fine. I like shiny things so I thought hard about what I would use a tablet for, what size I would like and even if I wanted it to have 3G. I did a lot of ooing and ahhing over CES announcements and will be watching the Barcelona reports with interest. I'm not interested in updating. I'll just purchase a new device if it comes to that-which I doubt it will.

What could make me regret what I have? A device at the 1/2 weight of this one with twice the battery life available within 3 months totally unlocked for the same price I paid. I didn't see anything like that at CES and devices from the Barcelona won't be in Canada that quickly.

I'm pleased with how the Tab is working out so far. It will easily replace taking my laptop places, is very comfortable as an e-reader, love the Readerhub, and the GPS is great. There are apps for reading feeds and tapatalk for responding on boards. It's not super heavy or large. My only desire is for Bell Mobility to come up with a data share plane between my phone and tab.
Published with Blogger-droid v1.6.5

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Lifestyle assessment - post Xmas edition

Studies have shown that , while you don't really gain 10 lbs over Xmas, the weigh gained tends to hang around. Combine that with New Year resolutions and it's often a recipe for failure as you cast around for activities - any activities - to help loose weight. I like the straight shot from Jan 1st to Easter break because I'm usually home which means I can control my eating with minimal will power and get to all the exercise classes I want to.

As our (mine and spouse) parents get older we can really focus on what our goals are. We watch as they become less mobile and needing more pills to normalize their metabolism. High blood pressure, cholesterol, blood thinners, gout - it's a lot of pills to manage. Our target is to reduce the time we have to take those pills by managing our lifestyle now. The hardest thing for me to wrap my head around is not trying to use exercise to compensate for poor eating habits. So why am I exercising again?

I'm working out to maintain bone density and flexibility. I also want to reduce the chance of back injury by ensuring I have abdominal strength. And I want to have fun - never forget that! So I've drastically cut back. Last year I was going 7 times a week and the majority of that was step aerobics. This year is a big change. I asked the main instructor at NRG4Life what she would do if she could only do one activity. She said yoga as the type we do incorporates strength and aerobic elements. So now the only full aerobic class I'm taking is Zumba -  because it's fun. All my step classes incorporate weights and abs and twice a week I head out to do 60 minute yoga session. To reduce sedentary behaviour at work, I'm making more of an effort to walk around a little each hour. Not that hard since we stand and walk a lot as part of the job.

Our eating habits are good but we were slowly sliding into skipping our home made lunches for eating out.  So getting more variety at lunch is essential as it will help us eat less.

It will be interesting to see how this affects us.

Sunday, January 2, 2011

The Bell Mobility/Samsung Vibrant debacle

It's been very interesting watching the Bell/Samsung debacle unfold thru the members at XDA and it's hard to escape the conclusion that there are a lot of young entitled males using the i9000m Vibrant. No doubt about it, Samsung made a HUGE mis-step with it's release of UGJK4 and Bell Mobility, with it's varying customer service isn't blameless either. But when one takes a cutting edge device, twists it until it breaks then goes looking for blood it's hard to have sympathy. As always, the innocent user with the spontaneous failure gets stuck in the pool with the tweakers.

Parts/devices seemed to be in short supply in September/October. Some users root, lagfix and install different ROM on their devices, always with the caveat by the chefs that they are not responsible for bricks. So when they brick they send it back to Bell with a "one day I woke up and this stopped working" story and Bell seems in no rush to fix them. It IS outrageous that Bell would hold devices for over a month without any suspension of service rebate, replacement item or even an explanation. Users seemed sure that the i9000m had special problems that caused it to break down more often.

Then came the update. OUCH. I understand that they probably wanted to meet the 2010 update deadline but the timing was truly horrible. The UGJK4 update changed something in the phone and, any time from immediately to never, the phone crashed needing repair. Bad Samsung/Bell. The only reason I can think that a company would release such a flawed update was that there was no other way to find the flaw. OK the other reason is short term memory - after all, most people have forgotten just how bad the XBox was when it came out.

Hand off to Bell and I have to say - really? What's the deal with your customer service. Some people are charged to send the phone in. Some people are charged for a loaner. Some people's phones apparently sit in a back room for a long time as a penalty for being a Bell customer. Get information to your Bell stores, be clear about what you are charging for and tell your customers the options. Have you taken NO MANAGEMENT COURSES? Happily the location I deal with DOES have good training. They fiddled with the phone then said to see if I could connect to my computer and if not then call call tech service. Great, maybe it doesn't have to go away. Oh yes it does. The one repairs clerk (yes ensure there is a clear chain of custody) said it could be 6 weeks but Samsung had been good so it would probably be more like 2 weeks. 2 days to get there, 2 days repair, 2 days back. Add a couple of days on each end for store stuff and that's about 2 weeks.

While my device was away users on XDA started a complaint or something. What was the complaint exactly? The phone was being repaired or replaced and the companies involved would always say it was as timely as possible. In the same time frame Bell and Samsung figured out their strategy - pull the update, exchange devices for a new one and get a $100 credit, release another update UGJL2 that is very solid. This doesn't do anything for the people in the system but with the end of the Christmas break, the trickle was about to turn into a flood. This gets rid of many who would sign the petition. Not to mention this is what big business does best, stifle complaint by throwing money at the end user.

I don't comment there much because I'm tempted to throw up my hands too often. Sometimes I think their phone is a slim black box - make that sometimes they make it very apparent that the phone is a slim black box to them. We have thin light micro-electrical components in a plastic case. Metal would not make it better. Not only do all the connections have to be precise but all components have to have programming to talk to each other then there is the ROM that coordinates it all to add functionality. One slip up in programming, one poor solder, any little glitch anywhere can have dire consequences for the device. Of course users are mad because the system's been closed a little with the new update even though it makes the i9000m very difficult to brick. Sigh - I can see why MS and Apple have been so closed with their hardware.