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.