Sunday, June 24, 2018

The logistics of being rich

When you go through customs, they ask you if you packed your baggage yourself.

But very rich people probably don't - they probably have their personal assistant or whatever pack their bags.

So how does that conversation go?  "No, of course I didn't back my own bags - I had my assistant do it."  Then what happens?  Do they need to question the assistant?  What if the assistant isn't there?

Rich people also probably don't wait on hold - they have their assistant call the cable company. But often when I make these kinds of phone calls, they verify my identity.  So how does that work?  Does the assistant pretend to be their employer?  Does the employer have the assistant added to their account? Do they have to change a whole bunch of accounts every time they get a new assistant?

When I make an appointment, I have all kinds of preferences.  Ideally after 4:30, although I might be able to do earlier if necessary. Afternoons are better than mornings. Thursdays are worse than other days, although not completely out of the question.  Certain medical appointments need to take place at certain points in my menstrual cycle. Certain beauty appointments need to be timed vis-à-vis other beauty appointments and a certain amount of time before the event in question.

Rich people don't make their own appointments, they have their assistant do it.  So does the rich person have this big complex conversation about their preferences with the assistant, and then the assistant has to write all this down and convey it in making the appointment?  Or does the assistant just stick the appointment in wherever the rich person has an opening on their calendar, and their preferences don't get taken into account?

Saturday, June 23, 2018

Things They Should Invent: replace emergency room waiting rooms with beds

I previously came up with the idea that emergency room waiting rooms should be sleepable.

After having been to the emergency room myself recently, I have a better idea: there should be no waiting room whatsoever, and patients should do all their waiting in beds.

You show up at the emergency room, get triaged, and then are put directly in a bed.  Not necessarily admitted to the hospital (in the sense of expected to stay overnight), but, unless medically contraindicated, every patient goes straight into a bed.

Ideally each bed should be in a private room, but that would require extensive renovations, so in the interim wards are fine. At a minimum, each bed should have privacy curtains around it, a chair for a support person, and somewhere for patients to put their shoes, coat and purse once they get into bed. It should be dark behind the curtains by default, but there should be a light the patient can turn on.

Patients wait for medical treatment in this bed.  Whenever possible, the medical professionals come to the patient and do stuff like physical exams and taking blood at the patient's bed, although the patient may be taken elsewhere if particular non-portable equipment is needed.

This way, patients can sleep if they are capable of doing so, and rest comfortably in any number of seated or recumbent positions or anything in between. Patients also have privacy from other patients, and probably less exposure to other patients' germs.

Being in a hospital bed would also make the patients more, well, patient (sorry!) with the situation, because they'd feel more like they're getting care. If you're admitted to a hospital, you're put in a bed and lie there resting, with medical professionals occasionally coming in to check on you.  Waiting in a bed would feel exactly like that, whereas waiting in a chair just feels like waiting.

If I had been put in a bed when I went to the hospital with my head injury, I would have spent those six hours lying in the dark with my eyes closed - as is recommended for concussion patients! Children with fevers or flu symptoms could sleep if they are able while their worried parents wait for them to get checked out. And all manner of patients whose symptoms come on at night wouldn't have to choose between seeking medical care and getting a full night's sleep.

Q: What about patients for whom sleeping or lying down is medically contraindicated?
A: They could continue to do whatever it is they do now. But that's no reason not to make things better for the many patients for whom sleeping or lying down is neutral or beneficial.

Q: Wouldn't this cost money?
A: Probably. And it would make things better. That's what money is for.

Wednesday, June 20, 2018

Things They Should Invent: paper shredders with multiple plastic bags

Some recycling providers want you to put shredded paper in plastic bags.

Special plastic bags are in fact manufactured for this purpose, designed to fit neatly into the bin of a paper shredder.

But this is a security problem.  If you shred a document into a plastic bag, all the pieces of that document are conveniently grouped together in the same bag, whereas if you dump loose shredded paper into the recycle bin the pieces all intermingle with the other recycling (including other shredded paper).  If someone wanted to reassemble the shredded document, surely it would be far easier if all the pieces were in the same bag!

But what if there were multiple bags in the same shredder? For the sake of argument, let's say there's three bags.  The left side of the document goes into one bag, the middle of the document goes into the second bag, and the right side of the document goes into the third bag.

At first glance, this sounds even worse for security - now you have an approximate idea of where on the page the various pieces belong!

But I think it would improve security in a building with multiple shredder.

For example, let's suppose we have an office building with 10 offices, each of which has one shredder, each of which produces one shredder bin of shredded paper per recycling pick-up period.

With one bag in each shredder, you have 10 bags of shredded paper in the building's recycling bin.  If you can locate the bag containing the document you're looking for, all the parts of that document are there. If you're looking for all shredded paper from a specific office, you find one bag and you've got it all.

But what if each of those shredders had 3 bags in it?

Now there are 30 (smaller) bags of shredded paper in the building's recycling bin.  If you can locate a bag containing part of the document you're looking for, you have to find the correct two of the remaining 29 bags to reassemble the document. If you're looking for all the shredded paper from a specific office, you have to find three of the 30 bags.

Even if you steal all the bags and start going through them, it's more time consuming to find the correct three of 30 bags than to find the one correct bag and disregard the rest.

I still think throwing loose shredded paper into the general recycling bin is best for security, specifically because it makes a mess and gets everywhere.  But if it is necessary to contain shredded paper in plastic bags, a system of multiple bags per shredder would increase security in all instances except where the bad guy is standing right there watching the shredded paper be thrown away.

Tuesday, June 19, 2018

Post-election roundup


I was pleased that my candidates weren't bickering on Twitter this time around. In previous years I've felt like a kid stuck in the back of the car with soon-to-be-divorcing parents what with the way they kept sniping at each other.  This year, they mostly went positive, and any negativity was about the other parties, not the other individuals. And after the election, I even saw my veteran Liberal MP and my newly-elected NDP MPP being gracious to each other about local riding business. I hope that keeps up.


I saw a significant number of signs this year compared with previous elections - so many that I didn't keep count effectively.  In my riding and each of the two other neighbourhood ridings (they still haven't fixed the riding boundaries to serve the needs of my neighbourhood!) I saw signs in a ratio of about 4:3:2 for Conservative:Liberal:NDP.  One of the ridings went Conservative, one went Liberal, and one went NDP. All three were tight races.


I saw one television ad for the NDP multiple times. It was less negative than election ads usually are, but not completely devoid of negativity.  I also got a letter from my Liberal candidate.

I got one canvassing phone call each from the Conservative, Liberal, and NDP candidates. The Conservative canvasser sounded really snide, the Liberal canvasser was polite, and the NDP caller had the decency to put "Andrea Horwath" on call display so I didn't answer. (I only answered the other two because I was expecting a medical call-back and didn't know which number it would come from - they both used local phone numbers with no name showing on call display.  Normally I don't answer phone calls from numbers I don't recognize.)


The phone call from the Conservative campaign kind of creeped me out, because, when I answered the phone, they said "Hi, is this [first name]?"

I have no idea where they could have gotten my first name from! My phone number is registered under first initial and last name - I deliberately didn't include use my full given name so it wouldn't be apparent that I'm a woman living alone. My provincial riding has been Liberal for the entire time I've had this phone number, so I have never contacted any member of the provincial Conservative party in my capacity as a citizen.  (And I'm almost certain I've never given my phone number to any politician I've contacted ever - I vastly prefer email.)

I can't imagine any legitimate way they could have gotten my first name associated with my phone number!

The letter from my Liberal candidate creeped me out similarly, because it was addressed to [first name] [middle initial] [last name].

And I have no idea where they could have gotten my middle initial from!  They might have my first name from my correspondence with previous Liberal MPPs, but I don't use my middle initial! It's on my credit card for some reason, but they wouldn't have my credit card information. (I don't make political donations.)

Why I'm worried:

And the outcomes of correspondence with MPPs are exactly why I'm particularly worried about the results of this election.

When Rob Ford was mayor of Toronto, I wrote to him several times in his capacity as mayor and my capacity as citizen. And, every single time, not only did he not address the issues I raised, he did the exact opposite. Intellectually, I know I'm not important enough to influence Rob Ford, but the fact of the matter is the correlation is 100%: I bring an issue to Rob Ford's attention, his subsequent actions on that issue are as harmful as possible to me and/or to those I'm trying to support.

The Fords always presented themselves as a package deal, so I'm concerned the same thing will happen with Doug Ford.

Which is highly relevant, because I'm on the cusp of a Great Big Cause: vision therapy.

Vision therapy is like physiotherapy for your eyes. It is my best hope for returning to normalcy since my head injury.  It's expensive, it isn't covered by OHIP, and, unlike the other Great Big Causes of my life, people haven't even heard of it - which means that even just raising awareness could be a huge step in getting it covered by OHIP and thereby made available to everyone.

I thought I'd be a far more credible advocate if I went through the process for long enough to start seeing results, so I've been mentally writing talking points and pondering social media strategy and refining my elevator speech while I contort my eyes and my brain to the point of nausea.

And then, Doug Ford.

And now I'm left to wonder if my plans to raise awareness could actually be harmful under this government.  I mean, it already isn't covered by OHIP, but I can't quite shake the fear that if I tell Doug Ford about vision therapy, he'll ban it or something.

Thursday, June 07, 2018


Beautiful, fresh, breezy weather.

Black, white and purple outfit, with my late grandmother's jewellery (she always emphasized how important voting is, so I bring her with me), and enormous sunglasses to hide the fact that my still-recovering eyes are puffy from overdoing it on work over the last couple of days and I didn't have time (or, frankly, inclination) to do a serious camouflaging eye makeup job.

Encountered a mindblowingly adorable Shiba Inu puppy on my way out of my building and got a good petting in, but that was the only dog I saw before I voted. (Got some sniffs and smiles from various good dogs on my way back home - not sure if those count.)

No line at the polling station. Three people in front of me at the table for my specific poll (howdy, neighbours!). Eccentric surprisingly-young old woman (looked younger than my parents but acted senile) loudly trying to engage an Elections Ontario worker in a political debate over whom she should vote for, while the election worker remained scrupulously nonpartisan.

Put an X in a box with a sharpie, and then it was scanned by a machine. Not a fan of that system. I like hand-counted paper ballots, and putting my folded ballot in the box with a jaunty tap.

Walked out of the polling station 10 minutes after I walked out of my apartment door. Smooth and effortless.

Let's hope for a government that lets everything equally be smooth and effortless for the next four years.

Voters' Resources (Ontario 2018 edition)

This is a postdated post and will be at the top of my blog until Election Day. If Election Day has not yet passed, there might be new posts underneath.

Getting Started

Election Day is June 7!

First, go to the Elections Ontario Voter Information Service to find your voting locations and candidates. Elections Ontario e-Registration can apparently check if you're on the voters' list. (It says I'm on the list but I haven't gotten a Voter Information Card yet, so I can't yet vouch for its efficacity.

Here is the ID you need to vote.

On Election Day, your employer is legally required to ensure that you have three consecutive hours during polling hours during which you are not schedule to work. (Election Act, subsection 6.(3)). This means that if your voting hours are 9 am - 9 pm and you work 11 am - 7 pm, you employer is required to allow to you either come in at noon or leave at 6 pm.  However, if you work 9 am - 6 pm, there are still three free polling hours after the end of your workday.


The platforms:


There's also the CBC Vote Compass, which asks you about your positions on various issues and shows you which parties' positions are closest to yours. I wouldn't trust it blindly, since it said one party's platform was closer to my positions but put me physically closer to another party on the chart, but it's useful as a starting point, for identifying which parties' positions on which issues might not be what you expected and therefore merit a closer look.

Strategy and Predictions

My "How to Vote"
My "Where to Vote
My "How to Vote Strategically"

Riding-by-riding predictions:

- The Election Prediction Project is crowdsourced riding-by-riding predictions
- LISPOP has poll-based riding-by-riding winner predictions, but doesn't give a breakdown by party
- Too Close to Call regularly updates their blog with their latest riding-by-riding projections (including the breakdown by party) and has a simulator into which you can input your own (real or hypothetical) poll data.
- Calculated Politics also has riding-by-riding projections with a breakdown by party.


This post was last updated on June 3, and will be updated as needed throughout the election campaign, right up until voting day.  If there's anything you think belongs in here but hasn't be posted yet, let me know in the comments.

Why this election surprises me

1. I'm surprised how strong the "there are no good choices" narrative seems to be this election. The available choices seem to be within the same range as previous elections, but the "there are no good choices" narrative seems to be way louder.

2. I'm also surprised by the strength of the "obviously the Liberals need to be voted out" narrative.  When you think about the public reaction compared with the outgoing party's record in other elections where a party has been in power for over a decade and the voters have decided it was time for a change, it seems quite disproportionate this time around.

Basically, given the political context going in, this seemed like it should be a routine election, but we're suddenly getting this narrative that it's an Unprecedentedly Big Thing.

This kind of remind me of when Stéphane Dion was leader of the federal Liberal party.  Suddenly, out of nowhere, the media started reporting that people (regular people, not party insiders) found
Stéphane Dion unlikeable. This seemed completely out of the blue to me, so I started asking around - regular people, not politics people - and the worst thing anyone had to say about him was that he was a member of the Liberal party. (Which, call me old-fashioned, but I think that's an occupational hazard of being leader of the Liberal party.)  But somehow the generally accepted narrative became that no one likes him, and ultimately leadership of the federal Liberal party went to Michael Ignatieff.

I feel like the same thing has happened here.  A Big Dramatic Narrative has suddenly been imposed out of nowhere.  And if you had asked around before the Big Dramatic Narrative took over, responses to the same situation would have been far more measured.  "Yeah, Policy A is helpful but could have gone further, Policy Z is pretty bad, I could really go either way depending on what the other parties are doing."

In any case, good luck, Ontario! I hope we win!

Friday, June 01, 2018

How to ethically dispose of vintage pornography

From the Ethicist:
A female friend says she is planning to sell her late husband’s vintage collection of Playboy magazines, which she says are in excellent shape and worth a lot of money. Normally, this woman is a progressive feminist. Selling this “literature” would seem to run counter to ethical values in our “#MeToo” world. Am I off-base here?
A person who wanted to dispose of some vintage pornography while addressing these ethical concerns could do so by being very choosy about the buyer.  For example, they could sell them to people who plan to use them for academic research, or for an art project, or as set dressing for a movie with a historical setting. Perhaps they could even find some relevant organizations that take donations, so they aren't in the bizarre situation of posting a Craigslist ad "Playboy magazines for sale, non-lecherous inquiries only".

Of course, I understand completely if the seller doesn't want to do this. It would take time, energy and work to find a suitable recipient, and screening people to make sure they don't have lecherous intentions towards Playboy magazines could be an unpleasant interpersonal interaction.

But, nevertheless, that is how you would dispose of vintage pornography while addressing the ethical concerns raised in this letter.

Thursday, May 31, 2018

Books read in May 2018


1. Dark in Death by J.D. Robb
2. A Framework for Understanding Poverty by Ruby K. Payne

Wednesday, May 30, 2018

How to make Google News RSS feeds once again work in The Old Reader

A couple of days ago, I noticed that my Google News RSS feeds in The Old Reader weren't working properly. The feed was getting served up to me, but when I clicked through to the article, it took me to the main Google News page.

It turns out this was happening because Google News automatically modifies the URL (similar to how Google search changes the URL from the actual URL of the page to a redirect starting with "" with a bunch of tracking information in it.) Something about the redirect makes it now point to the main Google News page, rather than to the article in question.

After some experimentation, I discovered that a Firefox extension called "Don't track me Google" effectively eliminates this redirect, so I can once again click on the article in The Old Reader and be sent to the actual article.

I previously had another extension for this purpose called "Google search link fix", but for some reason it wasn't effective with the latest changes to Google News.

I have no idea if this works in browsers other than Firefox, or feed readers other than The Old Reader.

Monday, May 28, 2018

Does good vision care insurance even exist?

I want to get vision therapy for my post-head-injury vision issues. It isn't covered by OHIP and apparently it's expensive, so I started looking at whether there's insurance that covers it.

(I know I probably can't swoop in, buy insurance, and instantly be covered for a pre-existing condition, but nevertheless I was interested in what's out there.)

And I could not find a single insurance plan that covers vision therapy.

I also could not find a single insurance plan that provides enough coverage for people's actual real-life glasses needs. 

All I could find is an inadequate amount for an eye exam every two years (even though optometrists recommend an annual eye exam), plus an inadequate amount for glasses, which maybe maybe maybe would cover a simple pair from the cheap rack at a chain store during a good sale, but would be nowhere near sufficient for people who need complex lenses or multiple pairs of glasses.

Is there even such thing as good vision care insurance that will cover the actual expenses that actual people incur, and maybe even extraordinary expenses for extraordinary situations like vision therapy?

I always figured that high-quality products were available somewhere out there for a price, but it seems that is not the case for vision care insurance. Is high-quality vision care insurance out there somewhere that's just outside of the awareness and google-fu of proles like me, or is there really no such thing?

Saturday, May 26, 2018

Why I'm not happy with the Weather Network latest website redesign

Weather Network 7-day forecast

The default page for each city is the 7-day forecast, shown to the right. (Click to embiggen. The long and narrow shape is the result of Firefox's awesome screenshot function, which allows you to take a screenshot of the full page, rather than just what appears on screen.)

At the top of the page are the current conditions.  That part's good - that's exactly the information I'm looking for.

However, the next thing I'm looking for is the short-range forecast, which isn't there.  There are two small boxes below the current conditions giving a brief summary of the next two 12-hour periods (labelled "Tonight" and "Tuesday" in this screenshot), but that isn't sufficient information. At a minimum, I'm also looking for humidex/windchill (labelled as "Feels like" in these screenshots) and probability of precipitation (labelled "POP" in these screenshots), but they don't have that information on the default page for the short-range forecast. They just have those stingy, inadequate summary boxes with way too wordy a description and way too little quantitative information.

I do want to see the long-range forecast on the main page as well, and it's right there in a format that makes me happy, just below the row of news videos.  But without a proper short-range forecast, there's a gap in the information provided.

Weather Network 36-hour forecast
The short-range forecast can be found on the 36-hour page, shown to the left.  (Click to embiggen).  And all the information I'm looking for is right there, in a format that makes me happy, in the table just below the row of news videos.

However, the current conditions at the top are incomplete. They  have the sky condition with the temperature and humidex, but that's it. No wind speed, humidity, air quality, UV, etc.

This is a problem, because now I have to have two tabs open to get all the information I want, especially when I have weather-sensitive outdoor plans, or in shoulder seasons where I have to make multiple decisions throughout the day about heating/air conditioning, windows open/closed, blinds open/closed to keep my home comfortable.

For example, I'm currently trying to find a good time to wash my windows.  To do this, I need to know the current temperature, humidex, wind, humidity and sunset time, all of which are in the current conditions on the main 7-day page, but not all of which are on the 36-hour page.  I also need the temperature, POP, and wind for the next couple of days, all of which are on the 36-hour page but not the main 7-day page.  So what was a simple at-a-glance task with the Weather Network's old design now requires two tabs.

The best thing the Weather Network could do to fix this is remove the two small boxes ("Tonight" and "Tuesday" in the 7-day screenshot) from the 7-day page, and remove the row of news videos. Then they should put the 36-hour chart from the 36-hour page in their place.  This would give us the same at-a-glance skimmability we had on the old website.

If it really is important to separate 7-day and 36-day, the second most useful thing the Weather Network could do is put full current conditions on the 36-day page. This would provide a single-page at-a-glance of the information that updates most frequently throughout the day, and whose updates are most immediately relevant.  (In other words, if the overnight forecast changes, that becomes relevant to me far earlier than if the forecast four days from now changes.)

If they really, really, really can't do either of those things, one very simple thing they definitely can do is put humidex/windchill information in those two inadequate short-term boxes on the 7-day page ("Tonight" and "Tuesday" in the screenshot.)  They have the information, it appears in every other place in the forecast that mentions temperature, and there's room in the boxes.  I have no clue why they chose to omit it in that one very specific location, but that would be easily remedied.

And if they want a bold, innovative option, they could let users customize their own homepage, with the forecasts and data of their choice.  This would have the additional benefit (from the Weather Network's point of view) of incentivizing users to create accounts and stay logged in.  They've been trying for ages to convince me to create an account and I haven't seen the need to, but I'd do it in an instant if that were the price of admission for all the at-a-glance information I want on one page.  The technology exists - iGoogle did it in 2005!

Saturday, May 19, 2018

How to Vote Strategically

This post is part 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 can be found in in my Voters' Resources post, under "Riding-by-riding predictions"

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 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 available in my Voters' Resources post, under "Riding-by-riding predictions".

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 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 available in my Voters' Resources post, under "Riding-by-riding predictions".

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?