Saturday, May 19, 2018

How to Vote Strategically

This post is part of my upcoming Voters' Resources post. It, and the rest of the series, will be updated as appropriate between now and election day.

Some people vote for the party whose platform they find most suitable (the Best Party). Other people try to prevent the party whose platform they find most harmful (the Worst Party) from being elected, by voting for the party that's most likely to defeat the Worst Party (the Compromise Party). This is called strategic voting.

The most important thing about strategic voting is that your strategy has to apply to the reality in your riding. The media feeds us provincial polls for breakfast every day, but they're not directly relevant. Regardless of what the rest of the country is doing, your vote will only be used to elect your own MP. If your riding is already disinclined to elect the Worst Party, there's no point in a strategic vote - you'd just end up making the Compromise Party look more popular than they really are.

So here's what to do if your priority is stopping the Worst Party from winning:

1. Figure out: "If I don't vote, who's going to win in this particular riding?"

If the answer is a party other than the Worst Party, vote for the Best Party. If the answer is "the Worst Party" or "it's too close to tell," go on to step 2.

2. Figure out: "If I don't vote, who's most likely to defeat the Worst Party in this particular riding?"

This is your Compromise Party. Read their platform. If it's acceptable, vote for the Compromise Party. If it's not acceptable, vote for the Best Party.

Remember: ignore the provincial polls; think only about the situation in your riding!

Tools to help you figure out likely outcomes in your riding are forthcoming.

Thursday, May 17, 2018

Things They Should Invent: customize the user-facing appearance of Word without changing documents' appearance

As I'm dealing with vision issues resulting from my head injury, I've been contemplating whether changes to the appearance of my computer interface would make things easier for me. Perhaps a light grey or beige background rather than stark white? Perhaps a different font might be easier to read?

The problem is that, as a translator, I'm expected to deliver my translations with the same formatting and appearance as the client-provided source text.  So if I were to change the background colour or the font, I'd have to change it back before delivering the text. Since some texts have specific and complex client-provided formatting, changing it back would be time-consuming and increase the likelihood of introducing errors that would make the client unhappy.

I would really like to be able to change the appearance on my screen without changing the underlying formatting - like imposing my own style sheet upon what I see.  Web browsers have accessibility options that let you override a webpage's formatting - I'd also like to be able to do this in a Word document.

Early versions of Word (circa 1993) had the option of making the interface look like WordPerfect 5.1, which many users at the time would have been accustomed to. However, the final document wasn't grey text in whatever font that is on a blue background - the final document was text in the colour selected by the user, in the font selected by the user, on the background selected by the user.

Word could do this in 1993. So why not also do it now, so people with visual issues can work on an eye-friendly interface while creating a document that meets the graphic and/or layout standards of their employer or their client?

Sunday, May 13, 2018

Where to Vote

This post is part of my upcoming Voters' Resources post. It, and the rest of the series, will be updated as appropriate between now and election day.

Some people (such as university students who still have their parents' house as their "permanent address" while renting housing in the community where they go to school or living at the location of a temporary summer job) are in a situation where they could legitimately vote in one of two possible ridings.  This post is intended to help them decide where to vote.

Where to Vote:

1. If one of the ridings is a really close race, vote in that riding. If both are close, vote in the riding with the closest race. If neither is really close, follow the instructions below.

2. Of the parties running candidates in your riding, decide which one has the best platform that comes closest to meeting your needs and your vision for the province (hereinafter the Best Party). Then decide which one has the worst platform that is furthest from meeting your needs and deviates the most from your vision for the province (hereinafter the Worst Party). You are judging the parties as a whole, not the individual candidates in your riding. Assess each party individually without regard to possible strategic voting - that comes later.

3. Based on your own needs and your own vision for the province, decide whether it is more important to you that the Best Party win, or that the Worst Party does not win.

4. If it's more important to you that the Best Party win, vote for the Best Party in the riding where the Best Party is least likely to win.

5. If it's more important to you that the Worst Party not win, and the Worst Party has a chance in either of your ridings, vote for the party most likely to defeat the Worst Party in the riding where the Worst Party is most likely to win.

6. If the Worst Party doesn't have a chance in either of your ridings, vote for the Best Party in the riding where the Best Party is least likely to win.

Links to tools to help you figure out which party is most likely to win in your ridings are forthcoming.

Saturday, May 12, 2018

Things They Should Invent: Transitions lenses with manual override

Transitions lenses are those eyeglass lenses that automatically darken when exposed to bright light and then turn clear again under normal light conditions, with the intended goal of automatically switching back and forth between being sunglasses and clear glasses.

The problem is they don't always work as well as intended. Often the dark doesn't go away quickly enough, leaving the wearer looking dorky and awkward indoors. And sometimes the dark goes away when you're outdoors on a bright sunny day but briefly in the shade or wearing a hat or something, failing to protect the your eyes.

Solution:  a small, discreet button on the frame that will force the lenses to change manually. You step inside, the glasses don't change quickly enough for your liking, you press the button and it changes immediately.

Yes, I know clip-on sunglasses are a thing, but they're even dorkier. Effortlessly functional Transitions lenses in an attractive frame would address the fashion aspect without the expense of buying two completely different pairs of glasses.  And a manual override would make Transitions lenses effortlessly functional.

Friday, May 11, 2018

How to Vote

This post is part of my upcoming Voters' Resources post. It, and the rest of the series, will be updated as appropriate between now and election day.

1. Of the parties running candidates in your riding, decide which one has the best platform that comes closest to meeting your needs and your vision of the province (hereinafter the Best Party). Then decide which one has the worst platform that is furthest from meeting your needs and deviates the most from your vision of the province (hereinafter the Worst Party). You are judging the parties as a whole, not the individual candidates in your riding. Assess each party individually without regard to possible strategic voting - that comes later.

2. Based on your own needs and your own vision for the province, decide whether it is more important to you that the Best Party win, or that the Worst Party does not win.

3. If it is more important to you that the Best Party wins, vote for the Best Party. If not, continue to the next step.

4. If it is more important to you that the Worst Party does not win, assess the Worst Party's chances of winning in your riding. Not in the province as a whole, just in your riding. If you feel that there's too great a risk of the Worst Party winning in your riding, vote for the party most likely to defeat the Worst Party in your riding. If you feel the risk of the Worst Party winning in your riding is acceptably low, vote for the Best Party.

Remember: do NOT use province-wide polls to inform your strategic voting. Your vote is only effective in your riding. No matter how earnestly you vote, you cannot cancel out votes in another riding. Vote strategically only if the situation in your very own riding justifies it, regardless of what the rest of the province is doing.

Links to platforms and tools for figuring out the different parties' chances in your riding are forthcoming.

Monday, April 30, 2018

Books read in April 2018


1. Rogues edited by George R. R. Martin and Gardner Dozois
2. An Honest Woman by Jónína Kirton 
3. From a Certain Point of View (Star Wars anthology)
4. The Water Walker by Joanne Robertson


1. Celebrity in Death
2. Delusion in Death

Monday, April 23, 2018

"What if I never get better?" is a valid question

Frustrated with the persistence of some of my post head-injury symptoms, I googled what if I never get better.

The first page of results was all pages about depression, reassuring depression patients that it will get better at some point and that if life feels hopeless, that's just the depression talking.

If the first page of Google results represents the zeitgeist, this is a problem.

The full scope of human experience includes situations where you never get better. Sometimes you might spend years or even decades not getting better.  It's not necessarily depression talking, sometimes not getting better is simply an objective reality, and people need to figure out how to live with that, not to be patted on the head and told they're depressed.

This would also make me reluctant to mention to a medical professional when I'm afraid I'll never get better. I'd be concerned they'd get distracted from the thing that's causing me despair and instead start treating me for depression - confusing things by introducing new medications and such, when what I actually need is a timeline and a flowchart and a series of possible outcomes and perhaps to be informed of the existence of assistive devices or palliative options.


This is all the more important because, since I started writing this post, I've seen an optometrist (given that my remaining symptoms are visual) and it looks like there's a decent possibility that my problems can be solved with different glasses, and/or vision therapy (which I didn't even know was a thing, but is kind-of-but-not-entirely like physiotherapy for the eyes).

I don't want to fall into the trap of getting overoptimistic, but this is the first time since I hit my head that there seems to be even a remote possibility of just maybe being happy or comfortable at some point in the nonspecific future!  I'm still waiting for the glasses to be made, so keep your fingers crossed!

And this is all significant because it comes from treating me like I'm never going to get better.

I didn't approach the optometrist with "what if I never get better?" - I approached him from the point of view of "this is what I'm experiencing, can we diagnose and/or rule stuff out?" But a productive "what if I never get better?" conversation would have had the same outcome:

Me: "What if I never get better? What if focusing on the computer screen is hard work every single moment of every single day for the rest of my life?"
Doctor: "We'll see exactly what your eyes are doing, and then look into making you glasses to adjust. If you never get better, you'll wear different glasses that do some of the work for you. In parallel, we can also give you some exercises for your eyes, so you can work proactively on making this specific symptom better."
Isn't that a better outcome?  And more hopeful than platitudes and/or psychological treatment that don't address the underlying issue?

Monday, April 16, 2018

Disappointed with Fresh's latest menu update

I've finally had a chance to try every new item on Fresh's menu, and I'm not impressed. All of the new items are less yummy than the items they removed. The only new item that makes me go "Yay!" is the essential greens, but that's an appetizer-sized dish at an entree-sized price. Meanwhile, several of my favourites are gone. (holiday wrap! mega life salad! jerusalem bowl!)

Also, there are now fewer wellness choices on Ritual (which is significant because that's the only nutritional indicators we have), and the only new item that's a wellness choice is the dragon broccoli, which is too spicy for my refluxy self.

Fresh has been a favourite since they moved to my neighbourhood, so it's disappointing that this latest update made it meet my needs less well than before.

Friday, April 13, 2018

Things They DID Invent: shut up and pregnancy test

Something I'm sure I've blogged about before but can't find the post: when I was younger, many of my peers and I had the experience of medical professionals interrogating us about whether we were pregnant.  They'd start with "Is there any possibility that you're pregnant?" and then, when you said no, they'd say "How do you know?" They'd ask about the details of your menstruation and the choreography of you personal life and basically it was a whole gauntlet - which is particularly upsetting when you're a teenager (especially a teenager who feels too young to have sex), if your parents are present, etc.

Because of this, I've long advocated for simply doing a blood or urine test for pregnancy without belabouring the point, rather than interrogating the patient at length if you aren't going to take her word for not being pregnant.

I'm pleased to announce that when I was in the hospital with my head injury, they did just that. They did a number of blood tests to rule out heart attack, do a blood count, test for nutritional deficiencies, etc., and one of the tests they did was a pregnancy test.  They didn't even mention this to me - I didn't even see it until I was handed my printed-out blood work results.

Obviously pregnancy needs to be ruled out when a female patient of child-bearing age faints, probably on a more solid basis than recent menstruation or lack of reported recent exposure to sperm. So instead of interrogating me, they simply did the test that they would have had to do anyway.

I'm very glad they did it this way, and I hope they do the same on minors and other more vulnerable patients.

Thursday, April 12, 2018

Things They Should Invent: use fruitless library catalogue searches to feed the library's acquisitions list

I heard about an upcoming book that sounds interesting, so I searched for it in the library catalogue. Unfortunately, it wasn't there yet.  But, instead of going to the trouble of putting in a request for them to acquire the book, I just figured I'd search again closer to the publication date, then wandered off to do something else.

I'm sure I'm not the only one who does this. Asking the library to acquire a specific book is A Whole Big Thing, and it may well already be ordered but not in the catalogue, or get ordered through whatever their normal channels are by the time the release date arrives.

But what if simply searching for a book and finding it isn't present in the catalogue could automatically inform the library that someone wants the book?

The library already knows what people are searching for.

The technology already exists to determine when a user arrives at a webpage and doesn't click on any of the outlinks (which, in this case, would be the books listed in the search results) and to generate a list of pages where this occurs - the free stat counter I use on my blog even has this functionality! This list could then be sorted in by frequency, to identify what multiple people are searching for but not finding.

Then the frequently-fruitless search terms would need to be compared with a list of current and forthcoming books. Does such a thing exist? I know Books In Print is a thing, I don't know if there's also a "Books Soon To Be In Print".  (Although even if there isn't, comparing frequently-fruitless searches with Books In Print could be useful in and of itself.)  I also don't know if it has some method to allow you to write your own program to search its database.  Google Books has an API, which might be a starting point (although I certainly can't rule out the possibility of there being better starting points that I haven't thought of.)

But comparing terms on List A with terms on List B is totally something a computer can do.  And once it's done, you've got a list of frequent fruitless searches that are also titles of books.  Which is most likely a list of book titles that people are searching the catalogue for but not finding.

Which seems like useful information to have when deciding which books to buy.

Saturday, April 07, 2018

How to treat your adult child like an adult

Imagine you wanted to prove that you are an excellent parent.  Think about all your child's characteristics or accomplishments that you'd cite as supporting evidence.

Assemble all these characteristics and accomplishments into a mental file, and whenever you talk to or behave in a way that affects your adult child, make sure your words and actions are fully informed by everything in that mental file.

For example, suppose you feel like a good parent because your child successfully launched and has a lucrative career that makes them happy.  Make sure that in your every dealing with your child, you treat them like someone who successfully launched and has a lucrative career that makes them happy.

Or suppose you feel like a good parent because you child is kind and caring.  Make sure that in every dealing with your child, you treat them like someone who is kind and caring.

This strategy can also be used on children who are not yet adults, to treat them with the amount of respect and consideration they deserve.

Wednesday, April 04, 2018

Half-formed idea for how to warn prospective tenants of bad neighbours

From The Ethicist:

I have a rental property, and the neighbors next door are extremely racist. We didn’t know this when we bought the house. We have had both white and Hispanic people as renters. The next-door neighbors harassed the Hispanics until they left. The white family had no issues getting along but did hear their racist rants. I cannot legally do anything about this behavior. Am I obligated to tell any prospective renters about this problem? I don’t want people to move in without knowing of it. If I do tell them, how do I phrase it so that I’m not perceived as discriminatory?

I know what to do to solve this problem, but I don't know how to get it done.

What you need is online reviews that turn up on the first page of Google results for the address, accurately describing the quality of the property and of your services as landlord, and accurately describing the neighbours' behaviour.  Then anyone who's interested can be warned about the neighbours and make decisions accordingly, but it won't come across as the landlord trying to dissuade tenants of certain ethnicities.

The problem, of course, is making online reviews happen. Working hard to convince former tenants to leave online reviews is bad form, and leaving them yourself as a landlord is outright inethical.

Nevertheless, the best medium for communicating this message is the voice of former tenants.

Monday, April 02, 2018

My emergency room experience

When I fainted and hit my head, I went to the emergency room at Sunnybrook.

Upon arriving at the emergency room, you swipe your health card in an automated kiosk, select a category into which your complaint falls, and describe it in a few words. The kiosk then issues you a number.

You sit down in the waiting room chairs, and the numbers come up on these big screens above small glassed-off offices. When your number comes up, you go talk to a triage nurse. It took less than 10 minutes (and perhaps even less than 5) for my number to come up.

The triage nurse listens to your problem, asks questions, takes your vitals, takes down all the information, takes your vital signs, and enters everything into the computer so you can be appropriately triaged.  Then I was sent back to the waiting room. Some other patients were sent into the other "zones", which have different waiting rooms, and I don't know what happens to them after that. (You can google Sunnybrook emergency room zones for more information - no point in me trying to explain it here when I don't have any information that hasn't already been put on the internet from more reliable sources.)

Soon after speaking to the triage nurse (maybe 5-10 minutes, definitely under half an hour), the receptionist calls your name, and you check in. They scan your health card, take your information, emergency contact, name of primary care physician, and issue you a wristband.  Then it's back to the waiting room.

What happens next depends on the particulars of the patient's condition. For me, another nurse called my name, and took me into a room (two examining tables/beds divided by a curtain) where he took my blood and took an EKG. This was about an hour after I arrived.  Then I was sent back to the waiting room for the longest wait of the day.  I later learned that this blood work was the primary diagnostic tool in my case, so even though I was sitting around for four hours, my blood work was at the lab.

After four more hours of waiting, they finally called my name and brought me into the "orange zone", where I was seated in another small waiting area. This made me nervous, because a lot of the patients in this area were in beds with machines and/or IVs hooked up to them. I could overhear that one patient had had a stroke, and another patient's family members were crying. It turned out this was a kind of mixed-use area - the people in beds were ER patients who were going to be staying in the hospital overnight, waiting for a bed to open up in the appropriate ward. They were also using this zone for patients who didn't need actual treatment, which is why I was there.

After sitting around in the orange zone waiting area for a bit, a nurse talked to me, asked me to tell my story again, re-took my vitals, and told me that my tests had come back normal so I just had to talk to the doctor and then I'd be discharged.  Then he sent me back to the orange zone waiting area.

After some more time waiting, the doctor called me and took me to a stretcher in the hallway that could be curtained off.  He asked for my story again, asked me questions, talked to me about my test results, did some non-invasive clothed physical exams (including stroke screening and palpating my abdomen). Then he gave me discharge instructions about how to take care of the bump on my head and what signs to seek further medical attention for, answered my questions, and sent me home.

My total time in the orange zone was 1-2 hours, my total time in the ER was about 6 hours. This was on the Saturday afternoon of a long weekend.


A bit about the physical environment:

The Sunnybrook ER is on the ground floor. The main entrance is on the first floor (which is one storey higher than the ground floor), so you have to go down a storey if you come in the main entrance. I don't know whether there was another easier way to access the ER.

The waiting room chairs are padded (with a vinyl-like upholstery that appears to be easy to clean) and have high backs. I can't tell you if they're comfortable to lean back on because I had an enormous bump on the back of my head. They were more comfortable than classroom chairs, church pews, or the chairs in my doctor's waiting room. I've previously blogged that ER waiting rooms should be sleepable, so I was surprised to notice that there was one (but only one) recliner-style chair that appeared to be sleepable. I'm not sure if it was there intentionally for sleepability or it was just an extra chair that they put there for more seating. In any case, I didn't try it out since other patients needed it more than me, and I couldn't lean my head back anyway.

The waiting room was very crowded (on the Saturday afternoon of a long weekend), and some patients' family members were sitting on the floor, or standing. I suspect some patients took those wheelchairs by the entrance so they'd have somewhere to sit, and after a while uncomfortable-looking folding chairs started materializing from somewhere.

There are washrooms right in the ER waiting room - two accessible family-style washrooms (i.e. with the toilet and sink behind the same door). They weren't always perfectly clean - sometimes there were puddles of water or bits of paper towel on the floor - but they were always well-stocked with toilet paper, soap, paper towels, sanitizer, etc. so our washroom experience could be as hygienic as possible. Despite the crowded waiting room, I never noticed a line for the washrooms. There is also sanitizer available in the waiting area.

There are vending machines selling water, juice and pop (just inside the doors of the ambulance entrance, by the security booth). I didn't notice anywhere where you could get food within the immediate vicinity of the ER waiting room, but I didn't ask either. There is a food court on the main floor between the main entrance and the elevators, and Google suggests that there are other sources of food elsewhere in the hospital, although I didn't investigate. Some patients' family members went and fetched food from the food court, and I suspect one person somehow had food delivered.

There are multiple password-protected wifi networks with "Sunnybrook" in the name, and no open networks. I didn't inquire about whether we were allowed to use any of them, or try to guess any of the passwords. I googled around the idea after the fact and the internet suggests that one is intended for patients and visitors, but I have no firsthand information.

There are a few wall outlets in the waiting room, but the waiting room was not designed with the assumption that everyone will have a device to charge.

I saw the triage nurses give a basin-like thing to one patient who thought he might vomit, and a blanket to another patient who was shivering, so it's possible other items for the patient's comfort might be available upon request.  No one gave me ice for my head bump, but I didn't ask either.


The best thing about this ER visit is that every single person I dealt with had outstanding bedside manner.

The triage nurse, young enough to see me as non-young, who squeezed my hand reassuringly when I confided that I had never been in a hospital before and was frightened, even though she's in a hospital every day and, I'm sure, sees hundreds of people with more cause to be frightened than I have.

The nurse who did my blood work and EKG, diligently requiring me to remove only the minimum clothing necessary and exposing only the minimum skin necessary (and covering exposed skin up as soon as the procedure permitted, even when the body part in question was just my calf), despite the fact that we were behind a curtain and my style of dress makes it apparent that I don't come from a more-modest-than-average cultural tradition.

The orange zone nurse, who patiently answered all my questions about what test result numbers mean even though they were normal and I didn't have to worry about them, and took the time to explain to me why I was in this section with stroke patients and people on tubes and machines.

The doctor, who sat down with me, looked me in the eye as though I had his full attention, and patiently answered every single question about what might have happened and what do I do next and how fainting works and how head lumps work and what they tested for and how they ruled out certain things, even though he was also in charge of all the stroke patients and people on tubes and machines - and even took the time to reassure me that I had done the right thing by coming to the hospital and when I should go to the hospital under similar circumstances, even though we could both see that I was the least important patient he was treating that day.

Even the security guards, who were kindly and patiently giving people directions and answering questions about where you can get food and drink and bathrooms and how the sign-in kiosks work, in between actual security guard emergencies.

Several years ago, I fell down an internet rabbit hole of reading ER nurse blogs, and I found that some of them were kind of . . . contemptuous, I suppose, of their patients. On their blogs, they dissed patients for being frightened when their condition wasn't serious, or for coming to the ER for something that isn't an emergency, or for bringing their mother even though they're a grown-ass adult. As someone who met these criteria (I didn't bring my mother, but I was considering calling her because sometimes I want my mommy when things are scary), I was kind of worried about how I might be treated in the ER. So I am quite pleased that every single person I dealt with at Sunnybrook was outstandingly kind and caring. This makes me feel far safer and more confident for next time I need hospital care.

And I sincerely hope there isn't ever a next time.

Saturday, March 31, 2018

Books read in March 2018


1. Medicine Walk by Richard Wagamese
2. Secrets in Death by J.D. Robb
3. 25 Days that Changed Toronto edited by Dylan Reid & Matthew Blackett 


1. Treachery in Death
2. New York to Dallas
3. Chaos in Death

Saturday, March 17, 2018

Schroedinger's concussion

My contemplations of whether I underassess my own pain aren't purely academic.

A few weeks ago, I fainted and hit my head.

At the hospital, they seemed much more interested in the cause of my fainting, but ruled out a concussion because I did not report any of the symptoms on the list.

And I did not report any of the symptoms on the list because I did not perceive myself to be experiencing any of the symptoms on the list.

Nor did I perceive myself to be experiencing any of the symptoms that I was told to seek medical attention for if I should experience them in the days that follow.

But I wasn't functioning at 100%. I was moody and my eyes got tired easily. Focusing visually was harder work than usual.

About a week after the incident, I found myself crying myself to sleep because I hadn't been diagnosed with a concussion - if they'd told me I had a concussion, I reasoned, I would have rested my brain and probably felt better by then!

Then I realized I didn't need a diagnosis to rest, so I spent my weekend doing strict brain rest like you're supposed to do after you have a concussion.

It helped enormously, but didn't completely fix my problems.

So I scaled back my work and other responsibilities and made myself a program of brain rest that could fit around my work and other responsibilities. (Working from home was a lifesaver here!)

And it helped, slowly but surely.

It's been a month. I'm doing significantly better, and I'm still not completely 100% yet. Most days are better than the day before, although sometimes there's weird slippage. (For example, today my eyes were extremely fatigued in the morning, and I haven't a clue why.)

I have no idea if I had a concussion or not, and I don't know if I can ever know.  I can't blame the doctors for not diagnosing me, because they asked me if I was experiencing symptoms, and I reported what I perceived. I wasn't trying to be brave or tough or heroic by minimizng what I was experiencing, I was accurately reporting what I perceived.

And I can't help but wonder if my own perception has been skewed by my experiences with menstrual pain. And if it hadn't been skewed, might I have reported symptoms and been diagnosed with a concussion? And gone home with doctor's orders to rest, taken a few days off work, and been completely better by now?

Friday, March 09, 2018

What if societal minimization of menstrual pain causes women to underassess their own pain?

Recently tweeted into my timeline: menstrual cramps can be as painful as heart attacks.

We've all heard of doctors taking women's pain less seriously. But this makes me wonder if the fact that menstrual cramps are considered just something you have to deal with make us underassess our own pain?

The first time I got menstrual cramps, at the age of 11, I was curled up on the floor unable to move.  But it's part of being a woman, and everyone deals with it. So I eventually learned how to work through it. The pain was the same, but, in those horrible years between menarche and birth control pills, I learned how to stand and walk and pay attention in class and pull in straight As while experiencing that same pain that left my 11-year-old self immobile on the floor.

And because it's so ingrained in me that it's just part of regular life, it would never have occurred to me before reading this article to see medical attention for something that's "only" as bad as those menstrual cramps that left me immobile on the floor. Even if it was debilitating, I'd try to work through it, maybe take an Advil if it was particularly bad.  It would never have crossed my mind that pain comparable to menstrual cramps could even be something serious!

Now I think back to all the times I've experienced something I didn't perceive as pain: "I wouldn't call it pain, I'm just weirdly...aware of it." "It feels like it needs to stretch, but when I stretch it, it doesn't feel better." "I can feel it pulsing. I wouldn't call it throbbing because that implies pain, but I can feel a pulse there." "My body is telling me not to move it that way, but it doesn't hurt when I do move it that way." "It's uncomfortable." I would never have sought medical attention, I would never have taken painkillers, because I didn't perceive them as pain.

But what if they were?

Just a couple of years ago, it occurred to me for the first time in my life to take Advil (which is an anti-inflammatory) for something (I forget what) that was inflamed. I perceived it as "uncomfortable", but would never have described it as pain.  The Advil got rid of the inflammation, and the discomfort never came back.  Prior to that, from the point of view of Advil = painkiller, I would have lived with the inflammation and discomfort for a couple of days, because I didn't perceive what I was experiencing as pain.

How much other needed, helpful medical treatment might I be missing out on because I wouldn't have characterized my experience as pain? And might I have characterized these experiences as pain if I hadn't internalized the idea that we're supposed to be able to cope with menstrual cramps?

Wednesday, February 28, 2018

Books read in February 2018


1. Life on the Ground Floor by James Maskalyk
2. The Mask That Sang by Susan Currie


1. Indulgence in Death
2. Possession in Death

Thursday, February 15, 2018


When watching both Star Trek: Discovery and The Orville, I've had moments when I find the technobabble unconvincing.  My visceral reaction is sometimes "No, that will never work!" or even "WTF? It doesn't work that way!"

Which is ridiculous, because it's technobabble - it doesn't reflect any aspect of reality, and if the writers say it works that way, it's works that way. (And every technobabble I've questioned did end up working on screen.)

Nevertheless, I find myself convinced that it doesn't work that way, even though I don't actually know how it works.

I wonder if this might be due to translator brain. Some of my work involves translating things that I don't fully understand - sometimes the author and the audience know exactly what they're talking about and I don't, other times I'm learning the technical terminology and how the processes work as I go. Even when I don't fully understand the text, I still need to understand its internal logic. Should this be a "however" or a "moreover"? (Sometimes the source language vocabulary is ambiguous and I need to look at the actual logical structure.) Does this sentence support the thesis of the text, or is it a counter-argument to be refuted?

It's been over a decade since I watched new-to-me Star Trek (and for the purpose of analyzing my response to technobabble, The Orville can be grouped in with Star Trek), so it's quite possible my translator brain has developed significantly since then. Of course, it's also possible that my understanding of science and technology have developed significantly, so I'm more sensitive to meaningless technobabble.

And it's also possible that Television Writers Today are simply not as good at technobabble as the Star Trek writers of my youth.

I've just started watching DS9 (which I wasn't able to watch when it first came out), so we'll see how I handle their technobabble.

Wednesday, January 31, 2018

Books read in January 2018


1. Goodnight from London by Jennifer Robson
2. Monkey Beach by Eden Robinson
3. Love and Friendship: In Which Jane Austen's Lady Susan is Entirely Vindicated by Whit Stilman


1. Fantasy in Death