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    What I Hate about Smart Phones


    2012 - 07.16

    I have come to the conclusion that despite the usefulness of smart phones, that I hate them more than a little bit.  I’d like to think that this isn’t due to phone envy, but rather a very real problem that exists with them.  Admittedly the same problem exists with other devices (most notably tablets and laptops) but in my personal life it’s the smart phones that take the cake.

    The problem I believe is that with the small screen and the fact that people hold them close to themselves generally making it impossible for you to see what’s on the screen ultimately means that you have no clue as to what the person is actually doing on their phone.

    In our typical environment we interact with people who are engaged in activities all the time, however it’s generally obvious what those activities are, whether it’s reading a physical book or juggling knives, we have external sensory information that guides us as to whether or not the person we want to talk to is engaged in something time sensitive, important and/or dangerous.  Thus we can judge an appropriate time to start a conversation or a totally inappropriate one.  Given the lack of insight into what someone is actively doing on their phone, it’s nearly impossible for you to know if they are actively engaged in something important which you should not interrupt, and further they tend to stay nearly continuously engaged (from you perspective with their phone, even if from their perspective they switch from a game, to email, to texting, to the internet and so on) without the normal natural pauses that tend to exist when switching activities.

    To some degree we’re used to this from people playing video games, or using computers.  The key difference is that in general those things happen on big screens which are also visible to you.  So you’re able to judge to some degree what the other person is doing BEFORE you decide to interrupt them.  Allowing you to decide if what you want to ask or talk about is more important than what they are currently doing.  Thus keeping courtesy as part of the interaction.  Without the foreknowledge of their activity on their phone, it’s exceedingly difficult to be courteous with your interruptions (from their perspective at least).

    Obviously this is a first world problem, but it seems to me that it is one that will continue to get worse and worse.  Other related problems would include (but are not limited to):

    • Bluetooth and cell phone conversations in public where it’s not immediately obvious that someone is on the phone, such that you think they are talking to you

    Hopefully the designers of mobile devices, augmented reality glasses and peripherals will start to take into account the social (and courtesy) costs of the devices they are developing.

    A simple example of where this has been done to some degree is online chatting where you’re able to indicate your current status as something other than the simple toggle of online/offline, and now have options like busy or do not disturb, such that those who are wanting to interact to you through that medium have additional information which allows them to make an informed choice before initiating an interaction.

    Then again, maybe things will just get worse…

    Everything $1.00 and more


    2012 - 07.14

    Checked out the new dollar store at Brentwood today, and they have a reasonable selection and they actually do seem to keep everything at about $1-2.  It’s pretty big, and there’s a reasonable selection, and it includes some actual name brand stuff too.

    We talked about it while at the store, that despite the fact some of the stuff is probably made in the exact same factory as the brands we’re familiar with it still comes across as being somewhat suspect.  It’s amazing how much we’re influenced by branding and advertising.  I think that’s especially true of dollar stores.  You do see people buy non-name brand stuff, but I think that people are more comfortable doing that at stores which they consider a brand (e.g. major grocery stores, or places like London Drugs).  Because even if you don’t know the product brand, you trust the store “brand” enough that you’re comfortable without the name recognition.  Not really true in the dollar store experience, especially in this particular store which clearly says all sales final, no refunds, no exchanges.  Doesn’t bread confidence, but at the same time given the price of the items…

    That said, if you need some plastic bins, journals or envelopes it’s worth a look.

    Most amusing price comparison in store: 1 litre bottles of Coke $1.00 (on the shelf), 591ml bottles of Coke $1.00 (from the fridge).

    Most coveted item: 4 pack of Oh Henry! eggs $1.50 (they have individual ones for $0.39), this compares to Aero eggs which were 2 for $1.25 or $1.50 (if memory serves).

    Dad’s on Facebook?


    2012 - 06.21

    Just kidding, of course dad isn’t on Facebook, that would just be weird.  According to my totally unscientific survey — which really consisted of me consulting with my gut — father’s of my generation (e.g. my father, not the father’s who are members of my generation but rather the fathers of the members of my generation) are one of the most under-represented groups on Facebook (at least of frequent computer users).

    Does this jive with your experience?  Is your father on Facebook?

    Growing from Seed: Jiffy-7


    2012 - 06.09

    For Easter Karin got some seed starting kits, and she’s had pretty good success with them so far.  In fact so much success that she needed to give away a bunch of the seedlings because they all sprouted.  So that’s pretty cool, and maybe she’ll talk more about her experience herself.

    The point of this post though is to expound a little bit on the Jiffy-7 Pellets which are very interesting things.  They are an integral part of the seed starting greenhouse that Karin used, and you would think that because they are called Jiffy-7 that you could just go anywhere and buy additional pellets and refill your greenhouse.  You’d think that, right?

    Well it turns out that the pellets come in different sizes, which isn’t really that problematic, but you’d think that they might be Jiffy-1, Jiffy-2, Jiffy-5, Jiffy-7 pellets and such.  Turns out that logical system doesn’t apply to the Jiffy pellets, regardless of size, they are all called Jiffy-7 and they go from about 18mm to about 60mm.  What this really means is that it’s significantly more difficult to find the right size pellet, because they all have the same name, and the sizes are not always clearly marked or indicated either on the boxes of additional pellets, bulk pellets or on the Jiffy Greenhouses themselves.

    So the bottom line is that they are a great product, but that you need to be especially careful that you know what size you’re looking for so that you aren’t disappointed.

    Teabagged?


    2012 - 06.07

    This was one of those hazing rituals that I never went through myself, until now.  I don’t really see what the deal is.  If I understand it correctly, most people don’t even get teeth removed before hand.  Sure a teabag in your mouth isn’t perhaps the best flavour, but there are worse options.

    I think I’ve now gone through 8 tea bags after the wisdom tooth extraction, which they recommend you use instead of gauze to aid in the formation of blood clots and healing in general.  At except for the one that I apparently chewed on too much, or was otherwise defective it went well.  Unfortunately that one kind of exploded in my mouth, very unpleasant, much spitting ensued.  Unfortunately it happened while I was still forbidden from actually rinsing my mouth out.

    I suppose your milage may vary, but really I don’t see what the big deal is.

    The Problem with Crows…


    2012 - 06.04

    My sister has a problem with crows, and in truth it’s not that many, it’s not like it’s a murder.  But she’s had a bad experience where they were aggressive and attacked her.  You would think that after something like that it would be easy to get the powers that be to take action.  Sadly not so much.  The evil masked arch-nemesis known only as “Strata Council” has been totally ineffectual, and incommunicado.

    Some people are wrongly under the belief that you can’t mess with birds, and that’s simply not true.  It is true that birds fall under the responsibility of the Ministry of Environment (here in BC anyway), so your local city is unlikely (and in some cases unable) to do anything about them.

    Here’s the quick summary:

    BIRDS

    • All birds are considered wildlife and are afforded full protection under the BC Wildlife Act.  A person commits an offence if the person except as provided by regulation or by an issued permit, possesses, takes, injures, molests or destroys a bird or its eggs.
    • Under the Wildlife Act Designation and Exemption Regulation 253/2000 Schedule C, point 2, the following species of birds and their nests or eggs can be destroyed without a permit: crows (except common ravens), black-billed magpies, European starlings, house sparrows, rock doves and brown-headed cowbirds.
    • Some species of birds are classified as game birds.  Hunting seasons and bag limits for game birds are published in the annual Hunting Regulation Synopsis.  This synopsis is available via a link on the Ministry of Environment’s website.
    • For injured birds phone the nearest animal rehabilitation centre.

    If you want to read more you can read the actual Wildlife Act: Designation and Exemption Regulation or just Schedule C.

    It’s always important to know the rules…

    So what do these exempt species look like?

    Crows except for the common raven:

    Wikipedia: Common Raven

    Wikipedia: Common Raven

    So this one you can’t touch, but all other “crows” are ok.

    The Black-billed Magpie:

    Wikipedia: Black-billed Magpie

    Wikipedia: Black-billed Magpie

    The Common Starling/European Starling:

    Wikipedia: Common Starling/European Starling

    Wikipedia: Common Starling/European Starling

    The House Sparrow:

    Wikipedia: House Sparrow

    Wikipedia: House Sparrow by Fir0002/Flagstaffotos under the GFDL

    The Rock Dove (aka: pigeon):

    Wikipedia: Blue Rock Pigeon

    Wikipedia: Blue Rock Pigeon

    And finally the Brown-headed Cowbird (not to be confused with the brown-haired Cowbel [which would be me]):

    Wikipedia: Brown-headed Cowbird (Male)

    Wikipedia: Brown-headed Cowbird (Male)

    Best make sure you double check the regulations before doing anything about the birds, but as of this writing it was legal to destroy their nests or eggs without a permit in BC.

    Still all wisdom-y


    2012 - 05.28

    Turns out I was a little premature in announcing the removal of my 3 wisdoms, today was merely a consultation.  So I get to stay all wisdom-y until next Tuesday (June 5th).

    The consultation was interesting, perhaps not worth the $90 fee, but interesting still.  I get three options for the surgery:

    1. Go to sleep
    2. “Twilight”
    3. Stay awake

    Apparently it’s a personal choice, which is interesting, and I suppose it should be, but it’s hard to know what is the best decision for yourself.  I suspect most of us aren’t able to make this through some previous personal experience (at least I assume that it’s pretty rare that wisdom teeth respawn like Orcs in a dungeon), so really how equipped are we to make the call?

    Being awake seems to have the most advantages generally, no pre-eating restrictions, no driving restrictions, etc… with the downside that you need to actual be awake while it’s happening.

    Twilight is sort of a middle ground where you’re sedated but not put out.

    Being put to sleep requires that someone drive you to and from the appointment, and there’s various eating and drinking restrictions before hand.

    So anyone out there who would care to offer an opinion from their personal experience?  Anyone who stayed awake and didn’t regret it?

    Lucky Number Slevin


    2012 - 04.14

    Saw this movie was on Showcase a little while back and taped* it, I’d seen it before and quite liked it.  I’m even going to go so far as to classify it as a favourite, which is interesting since it’s one of the few favourites which I don’t own in any form.

    If you haven’t seen it, it’s worth watching.  Stylish thriller with strong comedic elements, nice twists and turns and good dialog.

    * “Taping” a show, I suppose perhaps I’m dating myself now, what do the kids call it these days, do they use the technically correct and technology neutral “recorded”, or do they actually say “PVR’d”?  It won’t be much longer before kids won’t know what a VCR was and that for most of 30 years people used magnetic tape for watching movies or recording television…

    Email Avalanche


    2012 - 04.13

    Anyone else out there finding that they’ve fallen behind on their email?  Anyone got great tips?

    I’m working to get my inbox down to 0 which might not be an achievable goal in the short term, but I’m going to try to work on it for 2 hours a day until it’s achieved sometime in 2016…  Ok, it’s not that bad.

    It’s funny how email has changed the world for better and worse, but in the near term it’s here to stay.

    To be honest I think what I really need to do is only check my email in one location, because the real problem is balancing the email which you’ve read somewhere else but were unable to deal with at the time, or for which you didn’t have access to the necessary bit of information because it was on a different computer.  I think that will solve the problem…

    That’s why we have Canada


    2012 - 03.25

    I don’t want to live in a country where no one ever says anything that offends anyone, that’s why we have Canada.” – Bill Maher

    Made me laugh.  Which he then followed up with a bit about Mitt Romney being the “least interesting man in the world” a counterpoint to Dos Equis advertising campaign featuring “the most interesting man in the world”.  The quote is at about the 2:12 mark of the video: