Tag Archives: Observation

Equality Means Equal

Clearly the arguments pertaining to the separation of church and state as it pertains to the United States Constitution are nuanced and complex, as most arguments involving legal documents tend to be. Legal experts all the way up to the Supreme Court can debate, and many have, from here to tomorrow and still be no further along than they were yesterday. So it should not come as a surprise that when it comes to the general populous this debate rages furiously (and in circles) time and time again.

One observation I have is that there seems to be an over-abundance of people who refuse to see the bigger picture and acknowledge that as it pertains to matters of federal law it is a multi-layered and remarkably complex web in which it is all to easy to get tangled. I am certainly guilty of this, or have been on occasion, but also firmly believe that regardless of how the interpretation of law unfolds that there should be one indisputable characteristic: that the law is applied equally to everyone.


Another observation I have is that there are always people who will selectively interpret highly complex documents in order to further an agenda or attempt to force specific belief on others. There’s a certain irony to this when the U.S. Constitution is involved, seeing as parts of that document and it’s amendments were specifically written to allow everyone the freedom to believe whatever the hell they want even if you disagree and especially if you disagree.

A final observation, it’s really just different instance of the observation I just made, would be that there are a rather large number of Americans who apply this notion of selective interpretation to the Bible in an effort to tell another large number of Americans how they can or cannot live their lives.

This completely boggles my mind.

My friend Gordon over at Skeptophilia posits that, based on a recent survey done in the U.S., as many as 34% of Americans would support a theocracy. Granted, the question asked wasn’t, “Would you support a theocracy?” but still, the fact that so many people supported the idea of adopting Christianity as a state (34%) and/or federal (32%) religion is absolutely insane.

What’s really interesting about this is there wasn’t a mention of which denomination it would be or how it would be chosen. This actually makes me laugh, and it should, because it’s just that ridiculous. I am quite certain that it would be a remarkably difficult task to pin it down to one but if anyone’s taking bets put me down for a stack of Benjamins on Baptist. I am also quite certain that when it comes to specific interpretation of any version of the Bible that achieving consensus on everything in it would be damn near impossible.

So, to bring all of this together, what it all boils down to is that there are people who for one reason or another will fight tooth and nail defending the right for people to be able to believe what they choose and in the same breath use those very beliefs to attempt to dictate what other people – the ones who disagree with them – can and cannot believe themselves.

But this is a post about equality, so of course I’m going to point to the 2013 decision by the Supreme Court of the United States to uphold the rights of all legally married couples – regardless of the gender makeup of the marriage. That’s right, if you are married, then the U.S. Federal Government will grant you all the benefits that this entails. It doesn’t matter if you’re gay, straight, gay pretending to be straight, or straight pretending to be gay (does that happen?); if you’re married, that’s good enough for the Feds.

Naturally, when the decision came down, a good number of people (see above observations) went completely batshit crazy. The more recent decision in the summer of 2015 even more people went batshit crazy (or maybe it was the same people and they were just louder, I’m not sure). Regardless, this made me angry. Really angry. I happen to be in the (barely) majority opinion that everyone should be treated equally. It’s not a new concept. In fact, almost a couple thousand years ago some guy named Mark told a nice story about some guy named Jesus who said, “Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.” [Mark 12-31] That’s a pretty cool concept if you think about it, and you can find it in all kinds of religions all over the place. They even gave it an awesome name: The Golden Rule.

Bernard d’Agesci (1757-1828), La justice, musée de Niort.

The funny thing is, as far as marriage is concerned, the U.S. Government has declared that it’s none of their business. Marriage is marriage as far as the laws are concerned. They’ll mark down your Social Security Numbers and the marriage certificate number and make the appropriate changes to their files. It’s actually quite a nice showing of equality, and if you’ll permit me one grandiose expletive, it’s about fucking time.

Equality means equal.
There is no version of equality.
There is no sort of equal.
There is no equal, but…

Equality is an absolute, and on that there is no room for interpretation.

~ Andrew

What’s Your Biggest Weakness?

With the big contest reveal coming tomorrow I thought a departure from the usual theme would be a good idea. A friend of mine recently interviewed for a job, and while it went really well, there was one interviewer who was hell bent on asking some really off-the-wall stuff. Well, if you’ve heard the expression “There are no stupid questions” before I’m here to politely inform you that there are, and if you’re a certain type of interviewer you’re probably asking them.

When conducting an interview, hiring managers always want to make sure they are getting the right person for the job. Candidates often come so well prepared and polished that it can be very difficult to get a good read on someone just from a couple hours of talking through the standard set of questions. Many companies will try to put candidates through a veritable gauntlet of interviews, with 4, 5, 6, or more people each getting 30-60 minutes to lob question after question, scenario after scenario at them; looking for hidden faults, but more often looking for a spark of genius.

No doubt you’ve all read stories about some of the fabulous questions that the likes of Microsoft and Google have asked their potential employees. Many of these are extremely well thought out, but are also remarkably unconventional and designed to help ferret out specific nuggets of information that would be otherwise hard to extract if they were to keep to the same sort of predictable script.

I was a co-op student at the University of Waterloo, so I’m no stranger to job interviews and some of the crazy questions that one can encounter. I was also a hiring manager for software development and testing for over a decade in a variety of industries. I’ve tried to come up with a list of generic questions relevant to each position with limited success, but one thing is certain: I outright refuse to ask certain questions, simply because they are stupid. That may come off as a bit flippant, and I don’t necessarily mean stupid in the strict dictionary definition of the word, but nevertheless there are just some questions that aught not to be asked in a job interview.

For starters, don’t ask people riddles. At least, don’t ask riddle-type questions for which you already have an answer in mind. A friend interviewed for a job as a statistician and was asked, “How many piano tuners are there in New York City?” Initially, this would seem like a really stupid question, but it wasn’t because the interviewer didn’t want a precise answer. Answering 1328 versus answering 472 was inconsequential when compared with how the question was answered.

I’ve been asked how I would build a clock for a blind person. After several minutes of me trying to understand the requirements (example: plug in vs. battery operated vs. wind up) I was told, “Just take the glass off a regular alarm clock.” The person’s tone was incredulous as well, as if I had deeply offended them by not knowing the answer. This was a stupid question, with an even stupider expected answer (every time you check the time you’ll change what time it is!).

Questions like this remind me of those Mensa questions or silly things you see on Facebook. “What’s the next symbol in the sequence?”, “Which number comes next?” These are little more than party tricks that, once you’ve seen a couple, you can figure out the answer without having to even think at all, let alone showcase practical life skills.

How about this? Interviewers of the world listen up! Instead of asking seemingly open ended questions that are just riddles in disguise, how about you take a minute and put on your thinking caps for a change and ask your candidates questions that allow them to use their knowledge and experience to provide a solution to a relevant problem.

Remember, that with so many highly skilled and talented people out there, the likelihood is that they are interviewing you just as much as you are interviewing them and we wouldn’t want you to look stupid, now would we?

~ Andrew


I Fəəl Dirty

I think writing can be the easiest thing in the world to do, once you’ve figured out a few words and how to get them on paper. Watch a child who has just learned to write and see how effortlessly they write:

I likə cats and rainbows. I wish my cat kud tock so shə kud tell mə if shə liks rainbows. I think shə duz.

 Yes, every “e” is backwards, there are several words spelled phonetically, and the colour choices make it difficult to read; but there it is in black and white (and a crayon box full of other colours). If a child at such an early stage can write, then anyone can do it. Right?

Wrong. Writing is also one of the most difficult things in the world to do. Not every story can be about cats, and not every idea just appears in your head like a rainbow in the sky. Good ideas are even harder to come by. Those are like the crystal clear double rainbow you see after a short summer rain where you can imagine giant pots of gold at each end and a bevy of leprechauns dancing a jig around them. Oh, and let’s not forget that all this has to be interesting enough for people to read. That’s like trying to describe your rainbow scene in such a way that someone would rather read about it from you than see the photograph of it taken by someone else.

I wanted to use http://ic2.pbase.com/g2/95/519495/2/55623816.1QMs4Uwa.jpg by Dan Bush at http://www.pbase.com/missouri_skies/image/55623816/large but haven't heard back from him yest. So, for now I'll be using one I took.

We needn’t fret though because we’ve given ourselves the best out there is: we get to make stuff up! That’s right, when it comes to fiction, we writers are blessed to live in a world where there are virtually no rules (and those who are editors can vouch for the fact that most of us take some pretty serious liberties with the rules that do exist), and this is where I start to feel a little dirty.

My background is heavily scientific. In high school I took chemistry, physics, calculus, algebra, and finite mathematics. English and French were thrown in just because I had to take something that wasn’t math and science. I started university in applied physics, and was working toward an astrophysics major before I realized that a career in academia was not how I wanted to spend my life. I graduated with a non-specialized science degree and became a computer programmer.

At this point you’re asking yourself, Why is this important, and why does it make you feel dirty? Well it’s really quite simple… as a scientist I am not comfortable making stuff up. It feels wrong. Actually, when a scientist makes stuff up it IS wrong, and when other people make stuff up and try to pawn it off as science (or worse, the truth) it is just as wrong, if not more so. My friend Gordon Bonnet (a science teacher and a writer) has an excellent blog about people making stuff up and how it really grates his cheese. His post from Feb. 9 even has a rainbow!

So, when it came time to introduce a little science to my novel I was hesitant. I was a physics guy, and a slightly below average one at that. The science I needed was in the area of biology and to a lesser degree advanced computer programming and Internet security. I could bungle my way through the math and computers well enough that the average person wouldn’t have a clue. Plus, I didn’t want those details to overpower the characters in the story (it’s not a book about computers, it’s a book about people!) Anyway, after a while I got more and more comfortable with the idea of blatantly making up the biology parts just because I thought it sounded good.

A close friend gave me the idea to use HeLa cells. These are fascinating little cancerous cells that are almost impossible to kill. I did a little reading on them and after a few weeks came up with quite a nice twist that I thought worked rather nicely. Then, I pitched the idea to a friend of mine who happens to hold a PhD in biochemistry and who also happens to be one of the smartest and wonderfully scientifically minded people I have the pleasure of knowing. He was convinced there was a scientifically accurate way to do this and offered his assistance in finding it.

That seemed like a lot of work.

I explained to him that I didn’t need it to actually be right, I just needed it to be remotely plausible to the average person off the street, and my only real challenge would be to sound convincing enough. I fully expect that anyone with experience in isolation and characterization of unsaturated fatty acids as natural ligands for the retinoid-X receptor, or even anyone with better-than-average knowledge of biology to call bullshit, and I was good with that.  He was not, and while he didn’t say it out loud I think he was a little disappointed in me. Hopefully linking to his thesis makes up for it.

Now, all that being said, for every sentence I write that obfuscates reality just a little bit too much I feel a slight pang of disappointment as well. There’s a fine line between artistic license and simply being too lazy to actually research something. So I’ve started interviewing people and doing some reading to help expose some truth – but not all of it – after all, if kids have taught me anything it’s that it’s okay to get a little dirty once and a while.

Oh, and if you know any good alchemists or mad scientists I can talk to, please let me know.


Risky Business

I Googled “risk quotes” and got back 159 million results in 0.29 seconds. Given my renewed focus on the written word (especially with respect to this blog) it seemed appropriate to get this post going with a quote about risk from a great writer.

“Only those who will risk going too far can possibly find out how far one can go.”
~ T.S. Eliot

One thing I have discovered about being a writer is that every time you hit “publish” on that blog post, or submit work to a journal, your editor, or your friend, or even share a paragraph with a writer’s group; you’re putting a part of yourself on display and opening it up to critique. Not many people are comfortable taking that kind of risk and for a long time I was certainly one of them. I thought my skills were deficient, my vocabulary limited, and my thoughts uninteresting. The rewards did not seem to outweigh the cost so I just didn’t write, but at some point something in me changed.

“The policy of being too cautious is the greatest risk of all.”
~ Jawaharlal Nehru

I can’t point to the exact moment, but I think a big part of it was when I decided to start singing. As some of you may know, I took singing lessons and surprised my wife with a performance for our anniversary. It was mindbogglingly terrifying, but I did it, and in the year that followed that initial performance I made more than half a dozen other appearances on stage at various open mic nights and other events in the city. I even sang at a charity event for the mayor where, for the first time, my kids were there to watch.

“Once we believe in ourselves we can risk curiosity, wonder, spontaneous delight or any experience that reveals the human spirit.”
~ E. E. Cummings

So what is it about humans that see us go to such great lengths just to avoid risk? Certainly there are moments in human history where taking risks meant a greater chance of getting eaten by some large animal with claws and big teeth. So how come our species can come so far yet still struggle with the act of taking even one non life-threatening risk?

I’m not saying that it should be all risk all the time, but I find it extremely disheartening when I don’t even see a modicum of effort put into doing something differently or for the first time. If we listen to Yoda (“Do… or do not. There is no try.”) then we are left with only two things: success and failure, and the thought of the latter is what kept me on the sidelines for quite a long time, and what continues to keep others in the role of passive observer. Personally, I think it’s a real shame.

“People who don’t take risks generally make about two big mistakes a year. People who do take risks generally make about two big mistakes a year.”
~ Peter F. Drucker

Maybe it’s because I’ve experienced failure and lived to write about it. Maybe it’s because I worked as a people manager for a decade and saw how amazing it was when someone did something outside their comfort zone. Maybe it’s because after years of sitting on the fence I finally submitted something for publication. Or maybe it’s because I have children and I want them to experience everything life has to offer. No matter how you look at it, the only way to get stuff done is to actually do it.

“Life is not tried it is merely survived / If you’re standing outside the fire.”
~ Garth Brooks

So go out and write that novel, paint that picture, write that song, perform that experiment, open that dusty textbook, apply for that job, or call that person you met at the gym. Do more than merely survive.  I promise you will not get eaten by a large animal with claws and big teeth.

~ Andrew

An Untitled Post About Bullying

With bullying front and center in the news after Amanda Todd’s tragic suicide I found myself reflecting on my personal experiences on the subject. I certainly wasn’t the victim of persistent bullying, but there are a few incidents that have stuck in my mind:

  • In grade 4 an older kid (a grade 5) kicked my lunch box down the street. My dad took me over to his house and had a chat with his father and he apologized. I’m now friends with him on Facebook and he’s since apologized for real.
  • In grade 8, I had a disagreement with a girl in my class and she got excessively angry with me and starting slapping me and punching me and what-have-you. Having been raised to never, under any circumstances, ever hit a girl, I just took it. Later that afternoon my teacher made a snide remark about me getting beat up by a girl in front of the whole class. To this day I don’t know if I said it or if it was something I thought I ought to have said, but the phrase “What would you have done if had I hit her back?” keeps popping into my head. The girl and I became friends days later and today we chat occasionally on Facebook.
  • In grade 9 the older brother of a girl in my grade (and who was on my paper route) shoved me in a locker. Well, he tried. I pulled the old cat trying to avoid a bath trick and never made it in. That didn’t stop word from spreading that I actually had been shoved in though. Who were people going to believe, a grade 9 geek or a grade 12 punk? Facebook status for her: not friends but would friend. As for her brother, we’re not Facebook friends now and not ever likely to be.
  • One of my friends in high school dated a bully for a couple years. He liked to assert his masculinity by pushing me around and threatening me. I suspect it was because he was insecure in his relationship, and as a person in general. I’m still friends with the girl (yes, on Facebook too). I don’t care to ever be Facebook friends with the guy.

And then there was the time I was walking into a hockey rink and was punched by someone for allegedly “smiling at him”. Turns out a local gang was hanging out there and were looking for trouble. Before I knew it a pack of them had shoved me into an empty change room and were laying the boots to me. Boots and fists… and elbows… and knees, though I remember only one knee – the one that, as my head was being pushed down, came up and caught me right in the face. After that, it was all a blur of Doc Martin’s and Air Jordan’s and the taste of blood. They say you can’t actually remember the feeling of pain, but I sure remember what I was feeling.

Despite the arena manager and first responding officer telling me that I shouldn’t pursue action for fear of retribution, I pursued action. They caught 3 of the guys and two plead out and got something like 6 months probation. The “ring leader” got 2 years probation and a whole lot of other conditions like curfew and restraining order limiting his distance from me and so forth. After what I went through, let’s just say I wasn’t the biggest fan of the Young Offenders Act.

Today, even as I typed that last paragraph, my teeth clenched and I felt panic in my chest – and this all happened over 20 years ago.

Twenty years is a long time to be carrying around that memory, but it’s impossible to forget. Trust me, I’ve tried, but then something happens and I hear about it in the news and there it is again. Sometimes, and this is one that I’m having a hard time explaining, sometimes the reminder comes in a much less subtle way and hits me like a knee to the face.

Yesterday I found myself in Toronto helping out an old high school acquaintance by doing a bit of work as an unpaid extra in a music video he’s producing. A couple other guys from the old neighborhood were there too:

  1. The step son of my grade 8 teacher.
  2. A guy who was there that night I was attacked.

The step son of my grade 8 teacher is a year older than me but we went to the same high school and know a lot of the same people. It was nice talking to him and he and I actually made quite an impression on the crew during the shoot. We’re friends on Facebook now.

The other guy, I had been talking to him for a couple hours as we waited for our scene to come up and when talk turned to other people from the neighborhood I mentioned the names of the “ring leader” and two other guys – only I got the name wrong. He looked at me and confessed that he was there that night and knew those involved.
I have picked through my thesaurus and still can’t come up with a single word that adequately describes what I was feeling.
Today he’s an everyday guy living a life anyone of us could have had. He went to shoot his scene and I never really saw him after that. The producer posted a pic on Facebook and he “liked” it. I’m currently undecided if I would accept his friend request should he ever send me one, though I’m leaning towards no.
The stylist overheard some of the conversation at one point as the other guy and I were talking with the producer and she asked me how I felt, what I was thinking… I’ll be honest with you, I am not at all proud about what I said and even less proud about what I thought. The rest of the day, the drive home, most of last night, many hours in bed, and a good part of today I have been trying to reconcile my feelings on all this. Thankfully, I think I have.
You see, I am a firm believer that the world would be a better place if more people were happy. I genuinely want the people around me, in my community, to be happy. On a very basic level, it would make the simple act of leaving the house that much more enjoyable. As such, I have put myself on a path that includes finding ways to be happy, and have those around me be happy as well. In collaboration with, and never at the expense of others.
For 20 years I have felt that my attackers took something from me, and that they should pay. For as long as I felt pain, they should feel misery, hurt, and despair 100 times over. This is just a taste of some of the thoughts that have gone through my head as recently as this morning, and I’m ashamed for having them. Just sticking to the path I have chosen should be enough.
It is enough.
If the people that kicked the crap out of me for no reason have put themselves on a similar path then I am pleased. If they haven’t, well then they’re going to reap what they sow eventually. The Universe has a way of balancing itself out, and karma has a way of kicking your ass worse than any human ever could.
Today I have two hopes and one wish.
My first hope is that a kid being bullied reads this and talks to someone about what they’re going through, and talks to as many people as they have to until someone listens. My second hope is that they won’t have to talk to more than one. I was 0 for 2 on help that night, but the next person listened, and so did the person after that, and the person after that.
You are not alone.
My wish is that at least one bully reads this and decides to choose a different path. The world can always use one more happy person and if they choose the right path the world will get at least two.

It’s a Good Thing I’m Cute

So lately I’ve been obsessed with my backyard. Specifically my one corner where I put the kids’ pool. Over the last several weekends I’ve been slogging away in the backyard trying to make it a little more functional, and a little more aesthetically pleasing to stare at whist I’m barbecuing.

Here, in all its glory, minus some grass seed (going down this weekend after the heat wave) is what I ended up with:

Ta da!
Click to enlarge.

So, a brief explanation before I get to the reason for sharing this post. The pool sits where a shed used to sit (I moved it to the corner by the house & out of the way to free up backyard, but leaving behind a dirt pile). So I cut out a bit more, dropped a retaining wall down and a tarp and some anti-slip mats. Tossed some rock in the back (not pretty, just rocks) with a couple urns with tall grass in them (hard to see, but they’re there). Put a small bush/tree thing and some wood chips beside the rocks (also hard to see the bush/tree) then some peas, some pumpkins, some peas, more wood chips and another one of those bush/tree things (I dig rectangles and symmetry). Add a box for toys, the pool, the pump, and voila! Oh yes, can’t forget the GIANT tennis ball. Water logged 6 year old optional.

The pool is an 8 foot round, self inflating thingamabob. It comes with this shitty pump and some chemicals to keep it from getting algae and some chlorine to keep it from infecting the kids with bacteria or something. It holds 2300L of high quality H20 and takes a bugger of a long time to fill up – at least in the kids’ minds it did.

That black contraption on the fence just by the skimmer? Oh yes, that’s my “heater”. We affectionately refer to it as “the contraption”. It’s a black garden hose with some plumbing parts chemically bonded to each end so they fit into the hose for the pool. I used “The fucking strongest adhesive we sell. Don’t get it on your hands”. This is precisely what the 15 year old at Rona said to me when I asked him for “Something like caulking that I can get wet that holds like a sonofabitch”.

The water is supposed to snake its way through the black hose cable tied to a lattice piece also painted black, get heated by the sun, and output to the pool. A couple problems with this setup were clear from the first minute:

  1. The pump was screaming like its ass was on fire
  2. The water was not moving very quickly through anything and the pool was getting stagnant
  3. The filter in the pump works better if the water is moving through it at its designed speed

After a couple weeks what I appeared to have was a not-so-awesome looking 2300L of brownish water that was a fraction of a degree warmer than without the contraption. Plus, I’m not exactly sure the contraption’s super caulking wasn’t slowly leaking chemicals into the pool.

So, tonight I lay the contraption to rest and decided to check the water quality with the strips they give you. A bit too much chlorine (overcompensation is the likely culprit) and a little alkaline. Easy fix. Add more anti-algae stuff (couldn’t hurt, right?), lay off the chlorine for a bit, and add more water. Wait a couple days and see what happens.

I put the hose in the pool and turn on the water. I had a few inches of wiggle room before I hit the “do not fill past this line” line. I left the hose to do its thing and went upstairs to read my daughter her book.

Lo and behold, I completely forgot about it.

When I did finally remember what I had done I ran outside and the pool was about to crest. Quite the meniscus on the damn thing even. It was awesome. I didn’t take a picture, but I should have. It was a freaking thing of beauty. Could’t help but think, “now what?”

Well, I’ll tell you what. I decided to drain some water. There had to be a reason to not go beyond the “do not fill past this line” line. I then had a flash of brilliance. I would use one of the hoses from the pump to drain some water. Not wanting water to pour out of the spot where the hose used to be connected I did what any backyard level genius would do: I lifted the pump up above the water level. I was totally using science! [mumble] years of university have never felt so worth it.

So far so good.

Only, I needed another set of hands and my wife would most certainly not come out and help me. She already was ticked I forgot about leaving the hose on. So I did what any backyard level moron would do. I put the pump down.

On the edge of the pool.

Not so gently.

Well wouldn’t you know it, the top of the pool caved quicker than it took me to yell out an expletive and a complete shit-ton of water poured out of the pool at breakneck speed (assuming the neck being broken was some sort of small rodent or large insect).

The mats were swept away. The “decorative” rocks that were holding the basketball net in place were washed halfway down my lawn, and was briefly standing in several inches of water, as the pool continued to pour out a steady stream beside me.

It took way longer than it should have to un-collapse the side of the pool, but when I did I took a look and the water was just slightly below the “do not fill past this line” line.


Think Before You Tweet

(How Twitter is Making Me a Better Person)

Anyone who has spent a few minutes scanning my Twitter feed knows I have a tendency to over share. Granted, there are many out there who share much more and are more vulgar with their language, but I tend to just blurt out the first thing on my mind anyway and if I happen to have my iPhone on me or be near the computer, it goes out to the world.

Make no mistake though, I am fully aware that every tweet sent is out there for the world to see, and as such there’s a certain amount of self-editing that occurs before I hit send. Most of the time it’s a self serving exercise, but regardless of the motivation behind the censorship, it still occurs, and that’s probably a good thing.

However, on Sunday night I got a glimpse into my inner self that indicated there was something more going on than just Internet self-preservation. I was watching the Oscars, sitting with my laptop, and waiting for just the right moment to toss out a zinger and hopefully snag a few re-tweets. My initial attempt at mocking the “Who are you wearing?” red carpet question was a bit of a dud (“I’m not wearing any pants. Underwear by Joe Boxer“) so I was getting worried that maybe I just didn’t have my A-game that night.

Then just as I finished typing something else I thought twice. I cleared the text and refreshed my screen, and immediately read a tweet just sent out by Neil Hedley (“Turning off the Twitter machine for now. The hypocrisy is becoming intolerable. #bullying #Oscars“). Apparently he was taking exception to some of the remarks being put out into the Twitterverse and was fed up. He went on to blog about it here.

Apparently my think twice moment came at the same time as the straw was breaking Neil’s back. Right before I hit send I thought to myself, how would I explain this to my 9 year old daughter?, and I couldn’t think of anything I could say to her that would justify what I was about to tweet. Experience and conscience tells me that in cases like that it’s probably not something that should be done. So I didn’t tweet it.

Granted, that is a far cry from not even thinking it in the first place, but it’s a really important first step. As my personal mission statement for 2012 goes…

Be better, not perfect.

Neil blogged about how he’s lost respect for some of his friends and colleagues who partook in the Twitter celebrity slam fest Sunday night, and though I only know him through a few Twitter interactions and one meeting a few nights ago at his book launch, I can say quite honestly that I hope I’m not one of the people he was talking about.

Twitter is more than just what someone had for lunch or what they did at 4:20 that afternoon. If you’re paying attention it can change the way you think. It certainly has for me, on more than one occasion.

I’m glad I didn’t send out that tweet, and I’m glad Twitter has people like Neil.

Nothing to Hide?

I’m finding it very hard to write this post and not come off as some sort of nut job who is all anti-government, anti-legislation, and anti-this-that-and-the-other-thing who is just sour because the election didn’t turn out the way I wanted.

I have perfectly valid reasons for my disenchantment with the state of the Canadian government right now and nothing sums it up better than the tabling of Bill C-30 (formerly Bill C-51). Leading up to the last election this was just the sort of thing I was afraid of, and now it’s happening, and if we don’t do something about it it’s only going to get worse.

Bill C-5130 is usually summed up with the words “lawful access”, which is exactly what it is. It’s a bill that will grant authorities lawful access to your internet history, your email, and countless amounts of personal information – without a warrant. The cherry on top of this is that in order to be in a position to collect and store this information in case the Feds demand it, Internet providers will need to spend dollars – lots of them – upgrading their systems. Now what are the chances those costs won’t get passed along to the the consumer? I’m guessing slim to none, and slim just left town.

In summary: Bill C-5130 will allow for unfettered access to your internet and email without a warrant and you will get to pay for it.

A while back this government tried to make our Internet more expensive and as a country we went absolutely bat shit crazy by the hundreds of thousands. How there aren’t millions of Canadians going bat shit crazy over Bill C- 5130 is beyond me.

Sign the petition. Demand your MP put a stop to this, and let the Canadian government know that this bill is not OK. Not one bit.

Here’s a CBC news report:

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qLlY4n-17uc]

Some very well done videos to put things into perspective (and a sample for your viewing pleasure here):

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QwqIYHwRcxY]

…and if you have 15 minutes, a mini-documentary:

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xyHnOCDewuQ]

Back to Business

If insanity can be defined as doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result then this should come as no surprise to anyone: the people running RIM are completely insane. All that the new 2-for-1 CEO swap has done is replace a couple guys who got the company lost with a guy whose compass can’t find North.

So I’ll go out on a limb and say this out loud (in fact at a poker game more than 4 months ago I did just that). RIM should get back to business. Screw the consumer market. I mean, don’t not have a camera and music player and integration with Facebook and Twitter, but don’t sell those bits, sell the stuff you’re good at. The stuff no one else can touch.

There used to be a time when RIM did something that no one else did. Wireless email. It was genius. Then along came text messages and mobile browsers and portable music and cameras and tons of gadgets were introduced to the market, Apple leading the way. Meanwhile, RIM kept doing what it did best, but by this time wireless email had turned into full featured mobile business communications, and they were still kicking everyone ass.

Then, someone over there at 175 Columbia Street thought to themselves, “Holy crap, if we don’t get the consumers on our side we’re done“, and they started to try to play with the kings of consumerism, and they got their ass kicked. Big time.

The thing with consumers is they’re fickle. They change their minds more frequently than a certain former RIM CEO tries to buy hockey teams. Corporations, however, take eons to make any sort of change, and guess what? Tons of them out there are using Blackberries. They’re reliable, they’re secure, and they allow business to happen.

If a hundred million dollar deal is in the works, do you want to send the draft to your CEO on a Blackberry, or with the same toy your kid uses to play Angry Birds?

You’re working on a presentation to the board of directors and you need some financials from Larry over in accounts payable. Do you ask him to send it to the same device currently playing the new Justin Bieber video for your kid or do you use a Blackberry?

Hell, the  President of the United States  uses a Blackberry. Now that’s saying something.

But what the hell do I know. I’m not a CEO, or a market analyst, I’ve never even so much as taken a single business class, and I use an iPhone.


Have you ever cut the kernels off an entire cob of corn?  Those of you who have elderly parents/grandparents or small children may have done this before.  Well I did this the other day for my son who was having an unusually hard time eating his corn on the cob and I noticed something.  The amount of corn that was cut off the cob far exceeded the amount of corn that one would normally put on their plate if they were to just cook some corn from a can (or frozen, or whatever).  Far exceeded.  And I normally eat at least one and half cobs with a typical dinner.  I’m either getting far more than my daily allotment of grains (side note: corn is not a vegetable(?)) or I have to seriously rethink my idea of a “portion”.