Sunday, October 30, 2011

Complaints about baby clothes

A friend of mine is having a baby any minute now, so I was looking at baby clothes. So many of the things I saw were ridiculous! These include:

- Jeggings. For infants. The whole point of jeggings is to get a nice smooth line under your long sweater, which isn't going to work on a baby because they're chubby and bow-legged and wearing diapers.

- Those velour "juicy" tracksuits. For infants.

- Sleepers with gaudy designer logos. It doesn't seem right to make someone who doesn't understand the logo advertise the designer. They weren't even classy-looking, like some logoed handbags are. They were utterly generic and I wouldn't have looked twice at them even without the logo.

- An adorable little sleeper with a rocket ships on it, and the words "Space Boy". (And no, it wasn't from the computer game. Just generic rocket ships.) Which annoyed me, because I was totally about to buy it because rocket ships are awesome, but the baby I was shopping for is a girl. Why would the designers of this garment exclude half their potential market?

- Clothes that were so beautifully soft and fuzzy on the outside that I kept wanting to pet them, but coarser and rougher and not nice at all on the inside. Why on earth would you put the nice soft fuzzy part where the baby can't feel it, and then put something coarse and rough against the baby's skin?

I also noticed in a toy store they had smurfs in their stuffed toy section. I considered getting one (because someone gave me a smurf when I was a baby and it brought me much happiness), but they weren't nice at all. They didn't even have fur, they were just this poor quality polyester stuff.

I don't know anything about babies and I don't know anything about how to tell quality in clothes. It shouldn't be that hard to make baby clothes that I don't consider unacceptable!

Monday, October 24, 2011

Things Politicians Should Invent: keep track of constituents' track record

I write to my elected representatives on a fairly regular basis, often expressing concern about possible outcomes of certain policy proposals. There have been times when I've been clearly right or clearly wrong. In other words, my emails says "I'm concerned that if you pass this piece of legislation, this Unquestionably Bad Thing will happen." And sometimes it either does or does not happen. In many cases it's too soon to tell, and in many other cases I'm expressing a personal preference rather than making a prediction, but sometimes my emails contain predictive statements whose accuracy can, at some point in the future, be objectively verified.

It occurs to me that I'm most likely not the only constituent making predictive statements whose accuracy can be verified. And if this is the case, politicians' offices could keep track. Perhaps patterns will emerge as to which constituents have the best foresight, and then politicians could weight the opinions of those with the best foresight more heavily, to the benefit of us all.

Saturday, October 22, 2011


Sometimes you hear of a business or employer cutting back on its employees' pensions (and sometimes governments cutting back citizens' pensions), saying it can no longer afford the pension.

Let's think about how you make a pension. You have the employees and the employer all pay in some money, usually a proportion of the salary. The amount of money they need to pay in is determined by professional pension managers. They calculate how much money is needed using actuarial tables and other complicated tools that I don't understand, then they take the money and invest it to create a fund that will pay out the promised amounts on the promised schedule.

If the pension is no longer sustainable, that means a) the pension managers fucked up, and b) more money is needed in the pension fund.

But do the people in charge of managing the pension ever face any consequences for fucking up? And do the employees ever even get offered the chance to pay what it costs to make the pension sustainable?

And then, as a result of the fact that professional pension managers who manage pensions full-time can't seem to manage pensions properly, the industry is moving towards defined contribution pensions, where those of us who aren't professional pension managers have to figure out how to manage our own pensions on top of our own full-time work.

Analogy: You hire a contractor to make your home wheelchair accessible, because a member of the household is going to need a wheelchair. You don't know much about making houses accessible, so you say "Work out what needs to be done, tell me how much it will cost, and I'll pay you in monthly installments." So the contractor works this out, you agree upon a price, and they start working and you start paying monthly installments. Then, after some time has passed, the contractor says "I can't do this. It will be do expensive." And walks away, leaving you with a half-finished, still-inaccessible house, and out a bunch of money. They never even tell you how much it will cost to finish, and when you try to hire someone to finish the job they all keep telling you to do it yourself.


Come to think of it, this is the core message of Occupy that the media claim to find so elusive. We want those with all the money and power to do their jobs properly and not hurt anyone. It's not much to ask, most people do it every day. If you're a pension manager, manage pensions properly. If you're an investment banker, make good investments. If you're an elected representative, represent the people who elected you. If they were doing their jobs properly and weren't hurting us, it wouldn't even occur to anywhere near as many people to calculate what percentage of the wealth they control.

Friday, October 21, 2011

Random thoughts from an old bullying incident

With the recent Ontario election, I was reminded of one of my bullies. His claim to fame within the panthenon of my bullies was calling me a ho because, at the age of 12, I wasn't interested in dating yet. (It was doubly bizarre because I'd never heard the word "ho" and thought he was saying "hoe", which didn't make any sense in any universe.)

He sat in front of me in our homeroom classroom, where we had English, Math, and History classes, and he'd always turn around and harass me and mess with my stuff, stealing things and breaking things and writing on and spitting on my papers. So one day, I decided his actions should have consequences. I looked around for a weapon, and decided on my purple glue stick. Next time he started touching my stuff, I said "If you don't leave my stuff alone, I'll put glue on your shirt." He persisted in messing with my stuff, so I put glue on his shirt. He rather freaked out, and said that he'd tell his mother on me, and, since she was a teacher, I'd get in trouble.

As it happened, I knew his mother. She took over my Grade 2 class for a semester when our regular teacher went on maternity leave. I would have had no problem whatsoever explaining to her that her son repeatedly turned around and harassed me and messed with my stuff, and that I had clearly stated the consequences of continuing to do so. If he didn't want glue on his shirt, all he had to do was leave me alone. I figured that since she was a teacher, she'd get particularly mad at him for turning around and disturbing me in class when we were supposed to be working. I thought I might get in trouble with my own parents (which didn't bother me because I felt my actions were just), but I had no fear whatsoever of the prospect of explaining to a teacher the measures I'd taken to be left alone so I could do my class work.

(At this point, some of you are no doubt expecting me to say that this bully never bothered me again after I retaliated. Would be a nice plot resolution, but it didn't work out that way. He bullied me for the rest of the school year, after which we were never in the same class again.)

I have a number of thoughts arising from this incident, none of them conclusive:

1. How is it possible that a student could, on a regular basis, get away with turning completely around in his seat and bothering the person behind him during times when they were supposed to be working or listening? Turning around is visually conspicuous.

2. My bullies would always bully me any time they saw or thought that I had been speaking to my parents. When my parents tried to give me anti-bullying strategies, my bullies would say "Did your mommy tell you to say/do that?" I even got bullied for being seen with my parents out in public. In an environment like this, how does it even occur to a person immersed in bullying culture to invoke telling his mother?

3. The reason I thought it was a possibility I might get in trouble with my own parents was that grownups in those days seemed to have the attitude that just bugging someone didn't count as misbehaviour. I don't know if it was my own family or a broader social attitude of that time and place, but if, for example, my sister kept opening the door to my room and trying to come in even though I didn't want her to so eventually I shoved her out, I'd get in trouble for shoving her, but she wouldn't get in trouble for barging into my room. In retrospect, that's bizarre. In the real world, someone who keeps forcing their presence on someone else despite their protests at the very least gets a "WTF is wrong with you?"

4. The reason why I felt it was just to put glue on his shirt is a) it was proportionate to what he was doing to my things, and b) I gave him fair warning. It might not have been kind or ethical or virtuous or the kind of behaviour to which we should aspire, but I felt it was just. Sometimes I wish the rules of the real world worked this way - you give someone fair warning, and then you can take proportionate action or impose natural consequences. For example, if someone who's being harassed by paparazzi says "I do not consent to being photographed. If you take any pictures of me, I will disable your camera so you can't take any more pictures," and then they act accordingly, they'll be made out to be angry and unstable. But, really, that's natural consequences and a fair warning. Obviously I don't mean "Give me all your money or I'll shoot you," I mean more as self-defence, to get people to leave you alone. Which goes back to my previous point about lack of respect for simply wanting to be left alone.

5. One thing that made this particular kind of harassment especially annoying is I was trapped. If I faced forward and did my work like I was supposed to, he was in my face. The only way to escape him was to turn around (thus bothering someone else) and not do my work. This is why, of all the bullying I faced, the one that came from my sister was the worst - I couldn't escape her because we lived in the same house, and our parents kept making it so that we had to spend our free time trapped in the car together. In comparison, once when I was in high school, on a band concert day, this one guy kept following me around telling me how hot I looked, with enough skeeviness that he wasn't going to get anywhere. I was kind of worried because his brother was my ride home, and I didn't look forward to being trapped in a crowded car with him. But on the car ride home, he behaved himself. He didn't take up any more than his fair share of space and talked normally with everyone about subjects unrelated to how hot I looked. I gained enormous respect for him for that. He was skeevy when I could walk away, but put it away when I was trapped. No one ever taught, or even explicitly stated, that nuance - that it's no longer "just in good fun" (if you can make the argument that it ever was) when you can't walk away. I wonder if it would have helped?

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Always Infinity

This post is a review of a feminine hygiene product. As such, it contains descriptions of menstruation. If you don't want to read that sort of thing, skip this post.

I recently received a sample of Always Infinity, with instructions to use it on a heavy flow day. Today was my first heavy flow day since I got the sample, so I gave it a try.

The first thing I noticed is how much less noticeable it is when I'm wearing it. It's more flexible and conforms more naturally to the curve of my underwear. I'd never consider my usual Always Ultra Thin as particularly noticeable when I wear it or as not conforming to the curve of my underwear, but Infinity does it better enough that a couple of times I found myself checking to make sure I did in fact put a pad in.

I also noticed that the blood in the pad looks browner and dryer than the same blood would in an Always Ultra Thin. I can't tell why this is happening, but it might be an issue for people who need to monitor the quality of their menstruation for health reasons.

I don't have enough data to comment on absorbency. Based on the one pad I've been wearing today, it appears to be about the same, maybe slightly greater. But I don't have an especially heavy flow when I'm on the pill - a heavy flow day for me is preferably 2 pads but I can get away with one. I'd have to try it over several cycles to get a better sense of its absorbency, and really it would be more informative to get that information from someone with a 12 pad a day flow.

The verdict: more comfortable, no drawbacks unless you need to monitor the quality of your menstruation. The difference between Ultra Thin and Infinity isn't enough to make me put aside my remaining jumbo pack of Ultra Thin and switch right over to Infinity, but it's enough to make me consider going straight for the Infinity next time I need to buy a new pack.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

We are part of the 99%

The following picture was tweeted into my timeline. I don't know its origin, but I felt compelled to respond.

If you can't read it, there's a transcript below. As usual, any typoes are my own.

I am a college senior, about to graduate completely debt free.
I pay for all of my living expenses by working 30+ hours a week making barely above minimum wage. I chose a moderately priced, in-state public university & started saving $ for school at age 17.
I got decent grades in high school & received 2 scholarships which cover 90% of my tuition.
I currently have a 3.8 GPA
I live comfortably in a cheap apt., knowing I can't have everything I want. I don't eat out every day, or even once a month. I have no credit card, new car, iPad or smart phone - and I'm perfectly okay with that.
If I did have debt, I would not blame Wall St. or the government for my own bad decisions.
I live below my means to continue saving for the future.
I expect nothing to be handed to me, and will continue to work my @$$ off for everything I have.
That's how it's supposed to work.
I am NOT the 99%, and whether or not you are is YOUR decision.

Greetings, anonymous picture person, I'm very pleased to meet you! It sounds like we have a lot in common! I also graduated from university debt-free. I also paid my way with low-wage jobs (although, after about five years in the workforce, I was able to pull my way up to 150% of minimum wage). I also saved money for university, although I started at the age of 8. I also earned scholarships with my mid-90s average. I'm glad you get to live comfortably in an apartment! I couldn't justify the luxury of an actual apartment, so I lived in a cheap single room in student housing where things would crawl out of walls and give me panic attacks. (This also meant I had to eat out if I wanted to share a meal with friends, because I didn't have a kitchen or the physical space for more than one person to eat.) I did have a credit card in university because I'm up to the simple task of paying it off in full every month, but if you can't handle that then I applaud your decision not to have one. Even a used car was an unnecessary luxury at the time (still is, in fact), and the other things on your list didn't exist then (although I still don't have them because I can't justify the expense of a data plan.) After I graduated, I was hired by the place where I did my internships on the basis of the excellent work I did for them, and have been happily employed there ever since, with my duties now including overseeing internships for people like you. I've been able to afford an actual apartment and, a few years later, a nice apartment, still living within my means.

Isn't it satisfying when you do what you're supposed to do and things work out like they're supposed to work out?

That's what Occupy is fighting for. A world where you do what you're supposed to do and things work out like they're supposed to work out. Where you can get over 30 hours a week of work. Where universities are moderately priced. Where you can go to university even if you didn't start saving until you were 17. Where good grades will get you scholarships that will pay the majority of your tuition. Where a student can afford a cheap apartment and a used car. Where five years of hard work and brains enough to win scholarships will get you more than barely over minimum wage. Where saving for the future is even an option.

The 1%, the rich and the powerful, fucked up the world's economy, wrote themselves bonus cheques that are orders of magnitude bigger than the likes of us who have to pay our way through school on scholarships and low wages will see in a lifetime, and are trying to make the rest of us, the 99% (which does include you, BTW - even with today's unemployment rates, scholarships and 30 hours a week don't put you in the richest 1%), pay for it by creating a world where it will be harder and harder to have things work out just by doing what you're supposed to do. They're trying to make there be fewer jobs, have them less well-compensated and less secure, and at the same time to reduce available public services. This means that it will be harder for you to get and keep your 30 hours and you'll get paid less for it, and at the same time your tuition will go up and your scholarships will go down.

Occupy is not about blaming Wall St. or the government for your bad decisions, it's about the things that you and I value - hard work and planning for the future - working out the way they're supposed to work.

You are part of the 99%. Being part of it is not your decision, unless you're powerful enough to unilaterally become part of the riches 1% AND ensure that everyone else stays poorer than you. But what you do with it is your decision.

Friday, October 14, 2011

Do employers not have respect for basic work ethic?

A common job interview question is "Why do you want this job?" And the true answer, "Because it's a job," is not acceptable.

Based on what my parents and grandparents tell me about their employment history, it seems you used to be able to get a job on the basis that you need a job and the job in question is a job and you're capable of doing the job in question. Employers would hire their employees' kids in the summer solely on the basis that the kids needed summer jobs. They didn't need to convince the employer of why they wanted to shovel coke or pack meat, it was obvious that they needed to make money. Apparently they even used to have designated places where people who needed work and employers who needed day labourers would all go and match themselves up with each other. The employers would hire people simply because they were there and willing to work!

And yet, every job I've interviewed for, including fast food, has had a "Why do you want this job?" question.

When did this start happening? Why do they do it? It makes me wonder if today's employers don't have respect for basic work ethic, that they went and created a world where willingness to work to earn a living is not considered sufficient motivation.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Some post-election information

1. The report from Three Ontario Votes (which I've mentioned before) is now out. I'm disappointed they didn't do a full seat count for the AV model, but otherwise it's informative.

2. My traditional post-election test of the Hill & Knowlton Election Predictor: Using the actual popular vote as reported by CBC, Hill & Knowlton predicts Liberal 56, Conservative 31, NDP 20. Actual seat count: Liberal 53, Conservative 37, NDP 17.

Sunday, October 09, 2011

The scariest thing I've read lately

The following is a quote from John Lanchester's I.O.U.: Why Everyone Owes Everyone and No One Can Pay. As usual, any typos are my own:

By June 2008, the International Swaps and Derivatives Association, or ISDA - the association of companies dealing in this stuff - was estimating the total size of the [derivatives] market as $54 trillion, close to the total GDP of the planet and many times more valuable than the total number of all the stocks and shares traded in the world.

That terrifies me, because derivatives are entirely artificial. They just made them up because they wanted new financial products. Meanwhile, the GDP of the planet is real. It's the money we make for doing our jobs, the money our employers make from selling the products and services we produce, the money we spend on our rent and groceries and cough syrup and haircuts. And yet, this entirely artificial thing that fucked up the global economy was close to being bigger than anything real!

And, since the derivatives market was many times more valuable than all the stocks and shares in the world, this meant that the portion of financial work that comes close to touching on reality was utterly marginalized in favour of this wholly artificial creation.

And, with it, they managed to fuck up the global economy.

How can those of us who have to live in reality, and make and buy and do real things, possibly feel safe?

What if some people are better at materialism than others?

Some people think that money, or accruing material objects, doesn't lead to happiness. My personal experience is that it my money and my material possessions do make me happy. There are a lot of opinions about this in the world, but most of them (including what I've blogged previously on the subject) are rather absolutist, in that they assume it applies to everyone the same way.

But what if it doesn't?

The first possibility that comes to mind is that different people gain different degrees of happiness from materialism. But sometimes I hear people saying materialism doesn't lead to happiness in the first person, i.e. describing how they would purchase material goods thinking it would make them happy, but it didn't.

I've never had that happen to me. How does that even happen? How do you not know that something isn't going to make you happy, and how does this happen repeatedly?

Which leads to the second possibility: what if some people are better at materialism than others? What if some of us are good at judging in advance what material possessions will make us happy, whereas others are just purchasing stuff willy-nilly or are easily deluded regarding what will make them happy?

Saturday, October 08, 2011

How does the aging population affect voter turnout numbers?

With the low voter turnout in last week's provincial election in the news, I find myself thinking of my grandmother.

My grandmother has been losing her faculties for some time, but between the last election and this one, she's being diagnosed with Alzheimer's and put in a nursing home. I don't know if she voted, and I don't know if there's any mechanism other than logistics to stop her from voting if she wants to. However, I do know that she's probably not competent to vote - she has enough memory problems that she simply cannot develop an informed political opinion - and I do know that she's most likely still on the voter's list at her old address, where she lived and received a voter card for every election for 60 years.

In calculating voter turnout, she counted as a no-show. But if she didn't vote, that isn't actually a problem.

As the population ages, we're going to have more and more people in my grandmother's situation. I wonder if this will be enough to affect overall voter turnout numbers?

What I have to thank Steve Jobs for

The time: early 80s. The place: the spare room in my parents' house. My father spent hours at the machine, staring lines and lines of green, hard-to-read words. I toddled up to see what was so interesting, and discovered that, even though the screen was boring, it had BUTTONS! So, of course, I tried to push the buttons.

In one of his better parenting decisions, rather than telling me not to push the buttons, my father decided to teach me which buttons to push. We started with a simple kiddie game called Bouncing Numbers. A number bounced around the screen, and I had to press the same number on the keyboard. To get to the game, I had to put a certain diskette into the disk drive, then type "RUN BOUNCING NUMBERS". So many letters, and it took a long time to find them all because the buttons with the letters on them weren't in any sensible order! But I figured it out and quickly became fluent in it. I learned how to run some other games, got into one of the programming books and started writing simple programs, and by the time I reached kindergarten I was confidently computer-literate.

Many people have written tributes to Steve Jobs in the past few days, most often singing the praises of Apple's 21st-century creations. But Apple's first inventions were some of the very first home computers ever. Bringing the computer into the home enabled me, and thousands of others like me, to become fluent computer users before we could tie our shoes. We'd then invite our friends over to play computer games, and, within a generation, computers evolved in popular consciousness from big scary geeky technology to something anyone can just sit down and figure out.

Thursday, October 06, 2011

Voter's Resources

Since we just had a federal election in May, I'm not rewriting everything from scratch. The pertinent links are below. For how to use them, click on "How to Vote", "Where to Vote", and "How to Vote Strategically" below. As usual, this post will be updated until election day. If I've missed anything, please let me know in the comments.

Getting Started

Election day is October 6.

Voter information from Elections Ontario

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




CBC Vote Compass
Election Prediction Project
Hill and Knowlton Predictor
Riding-by-riding polls for the GTA


Another election on a beautiful day, and another provincial election nursing a virus (which has mutated from a sore throat to a runny nose today). I encountered many many doggies today and got a lot of petting in, including my next-door neighbour's dog for the whole elevator wait and ride. Hopefully that's enough good luck.

I didn't get a voter's card this year and had to wait in a bit of a line to register (a process that was a bit slower than I recall) but it got done in under half an hour with no particular difficulties. I voted in a seniors' residence instead of a school this time. Some of the residents were milling around outside watching all the comings and goings, and I believe some of them were working at the polling station. Nice friendly community-like chat waiting in line, dogs and children got squeed at, and the whole process took under half an hour.

Now I'm at home to nurse my cold and a glass of wine, and watch results.

Wednesday, October 05, 2011

Complaints about vitaminwater

Given the sudden dearth of Fruitopia in my environs, I decided to try the flavour of vitaminwater that looked like it was indicated for fighting a cold ("defense" it's called, complete with USian spelling.)

1. The flavour said raspberry-apple. It didn't taste like raspberry, or apple, or fake raspberry, or fake apple. It tasted like fake cranberry. If I wanted that, I'd get cranberry juice.

2. The nutrients featured prominently on the label were vitamin C and zinc. However, on reading the fine print, I noticed these were the last two of the medicinal ingredients, behind a bunch of B vitamins (which, while important nutrients, are not what I'm after when I'm fighting a virus).

3. It contains 90 mg of vitamin C and 3.75 mg of zinc. In contrast, my vitamin C supplements contain 500 mg, and my zinc lozenges contain 35 mg (plus 50 mg of vitamin C).

I suppose I should have read the label in detail before I bought it, but I'm used to things sold medicinally (and this is labelled medicinally, with medicinal and non-medicinal ingredients rather than a nutrition box) containing significant amounts of the nutrients they're meant to supplement. In any case, I resent actual foodstuff (i.e. fruit juice) being taken off the shelves in favour something that's less food-like, less nutritious, less effective, and less yummy. I don't mind fake food in and of itself, but I don't want it displacing real food!

Tuesday, October 04, 2011

Where has all the fruit punch gone?

Normally, I drink water during the day and with meals. However, I'm currently nursing a sore throat (likely viral), so I find myself wanting juice.

Citrus juices are on my no list for GERD, so I decided I'd drink fruit punch. At home I just mixed up a jug of Minute Maid fruit punch from concentrate (which has been my default juice since childhood), and at work I figured I'd just buy a couple of single-serving bottles of the same stuff or its Fruitopia equivalent.

But they don't sell it anywhere. Cafeteria, food court, drugstores, convenience stores, the juice aisle in the grocery store - no one has single-serving bottles of fruit punch, or in fact any non-citrus non-cranberry fruit juice.

They sell orange juice, lemonade, cranberry juice (which I'm not terribly fond of and, at least in the forms being sold in single-serving bottles, does not have significant amounts of vitamin C), and a bunch of sports drinks and vitamin water concoctions.

But I don't want fortified flavoured water when I'm sick, I want actual fruit juice! The sweetness is what soothes my throat and makes it go down easier than water.

Last time I was sick in a way that made me want juice, you could get a few different kinds of Fruitopia everywhere. Now you can't. It seems to have all been replaced with vitamin water. I already have vitamins and water in my arsenal, what I need is juice. But, somehow, it's been discontinued.

Monday, October 03, 2011

Things They Should Invent: central repository of research ideas

As I've blogged about before, one thing I really enjoy about the workplace as opposed to academia is that I don't have to come up with my own ideas for what to work on. All my major projects, even in undergrad, were "think of a topic and do a project on it," and I could never think of a good topic or tell what kind of topic would produce a good project. In the workplace, I simply translate what I'm assigned. This is one of the reasons why I haven't done a graduate degree - the idea of having to think up a thesis topic (and probably project topics for the coursework) puts me off now that I've become accustomed to a world where I simply do what I'm told.

However, I often come up with ideas for research in other fields.

Surely I'm not the only person in the world who has trouble thinking of something suitable to research. And surely I'm not the only person in the world who occasionally thinks "Hey, someone should do a study on that!"

So why not put the two together?

We need one single central website where people can post any research ideas they come up with, and would-be researchers can look for good ideas. The ideas could be random things that occur to you, or they could be information you want for which no research has been conducted (for example, if you'd like clinical testing conducted on a natural remedy you're considering). Prospective researchers could use ideas or use them as a jumping-off point for their own ideas. Researchers who do use ideas could mark them as such, thus drawing attention to their research. Users could also vote for other ideas, so the ideas that more people like get a more prominent place on the page. Perhaps this demand for the research could even be a factor in helping secure research grants?

Sunday, October 02, 2011

Things They Should Invent: drop-in daycare in medical buildings

This post was inspired by the following question from a Carolyn Hax chat:

Hello, I am feeling very overwhelmed and hope that I can get a kick in the pants. I have 2 children under 2. My husband and I moved to a city we hate - despite months of attempts, the moms groups have been very cold to me, for example. He is getting deployed, and is away for weeks at a time. It takes everything in my power to get up each morning and do things with my kids. I know I am battling with depression and/or PPD, but I can't go to a therapist because I don't have child care. I know the steps to take to help improve my mood and stress level (exercise, etc.) but I can't drag myself out of it all to start, and I just wind up eating junk on the couch after the kids go to bed. Any words of advice? Thanks, I've been reading this chat since the beginning.

Reading this, I remembered how one of the community pools where we'd have swimming lessons had a "daycare", which was really just a room where kids could go and play with toys under adult supervision while their parents participated in adult swim classes or took a younger sibling to an infant class.

So why not put something similar in medical buildings?

It would be easier than a regular daycare from the perspective of all parties. The daycare operators wouldn't need to plan a curriculum or provide snacks since the kids would only be there for an hour or two. And the parents wouldn't need to worry about whether the daycare provides an optimal curriculum and a classroom environment that's conducive to social development, all they need for a couple of hours is for it to be safe.

It wouldn't even be terribly extortionate for the daycare to be run on a for-profit basis and charge the parents market rates for their kids to attend, because any parents who are in the market for drop-in daycare while they attend a medical appointment would otherwise have to pay for child care during their medical appointment anyway.

I'm surprised there aren't more things like this.

Saturday, October 01, 2011

Teach me how union finances work

There is clear choice in this election, said Hudak from Dundas on Saturday. Taxpayers can’t afford to pay big union boss salaries anymore or pay for their ad campaigns, he has said.

Does Tim Hudak not understand how union finances work, or do I not understand how union finances work?

My understanding, extrapolated from conversations with union members and observations from having worked in a unionized environment, is that union members pay union dues out of their salaries, and the expenses of operating the union (including advertising and any pay the union leaders receive for doing their union leader duties) are all funded from the union dues. My understanding is that the employer does not pay into the union (wouldn't that be a heinous conflict of interest?) So the amount of money a union spends on various things is between the union and its members.

Extrapolated to the provincial government, this means that the money union leaders get for their work as union leaders and the money unions spend on ad campaigns come out of the pockets of provincial public servants, in their role as the employees. The taxpayers, in their role as employer, aren't paying for any of it. And what the unions spend money on is between them and the public servants - the taxpayers and the government, in their capacity as employer, have no say in it or authority to change it.

Am I understanding this correctly? If not, please correct me in the comments.