Showing posts with label PSAs. Show all posts
Showing posts with label PSAs. Show all posts

Friday, March 10, 2017

Warning: Charmin Essentials Soft toilet paper is NOT the same as Charmin Ultra Soft

I have brand loyalty to Charmin Ultra Soft toilet paper.  It is the most comfortable toilet paper I have ever experienced, so I use it all the time as a small daily luxury.

Last time I went shopping for new toilet paper, I saw this package with the great big word SOFT, so I figured it's my usual Charmin and they've changed the package as they do from time to time:

However, once I got it home, I quickly realized it isn't anywhere near the same toilet paper - it feels like sandpaper on my pampered anatomy!

It turns out Charmin Essential Soft is a rebranding of Charmin Basic - the less comfy discount brand!

Charmin Ultra Soft is still called Ultra Soft, and its packaging looks like this:

So if you're picky like me, don't be fooled by the word "soft"; the word "ultra" is important.

Mnemonic: yellow packaging = yellow flag

Saturday, June 18, 2016

Warning: LinkedIn could machine translate your profile without your permission!

I was shocked to receive an email from LinkedIn cheerfully announcing "We have translated parts of your public profile into German!"

This is a major problem for me for two reasons: because it's machine translation, and because it's German.

Machine translation is a problem because I'm a translator. The presence of anything that sounds like machine translation in my profile is harmful to my professional credibility, because it makes it look like I can't translate and/or can't judge what constitutes good translation.

German is a problem because I've never worked professionally in German. My professional experience is in the domestic official languages market, so if I were to have another language in my profile, it should be French.

(The French isn't already there because I'm not actively networking, so I maintain a very minimal LinkedIn profile - just enough information for people who already know me to distinguish me from my doppelnamers.)

My bare-bones English-only profile makes me look like an Anglophone who isn't actively using LinkedIn. Many multilingual people who don't make full use of LinkedIn have unilingual profiles, so it doesn't parse as significant. But an English and German profile makes me look like someone who is actively seeking work in English and German, but considers French not sufficiently relevant to bother with.  That would be off-putting to people looking for the kind of French-English translation that is my bread and butter! An English-German profile marks me as irrelevant to the official languages market before you even look at the content of the profile, while the content of the profile renders me irrelevant to any non-desperate client on the English-German market.

I'm fully aware of the argument for having a fully fleshed-out multilingual profile, and I made a deliberate choice not to do so at this time.  However, I did not make a deliberate choice to have a machine-translated profile or to have an English-German profile, and it's assholic of LinkedIn to impose that on me.  That would be like if they noticed that I don't have a photo in my profile, so they did a google image search for my name and inserted the first result, or if they noticed that I haven't put where I went to high school so they populated that field with data scraped from Only this is worse, because people may well evaluate a translator's translation skills based on the quality of the translation in her profile.

If LinkedIn does in fact have German-speaking users who want to access English-language profiles via machine translation, the option to machine translated should appear on their interface, like it does (to varying degrees of success) with Facebook and Twitter.  They should see my profile as I wrote it, with a little "Translate into German" link that they can click on, making it apparent that the German machine translation is the result of their having clicked on this link, not in any way something I wrote.

If LinkedIn has also machine translated your profile, or if you want to prevent it from doing so in the future, you can opt out on your public profile settings page. Specific instructions can be found here.

Saturday, March 19, 2016

If you haven't sponsored Eddie Izzard yet, now's the time!

Tomorrow is the last day of Eddie Izzard 27 marathons in 27 day challenge.

So far, he has completed 25 marathons in 26 days, after losing a day to a medical emergency.  So he decided he's going to make it up by running two marathons (84 km) tomorrow, even though he's never done a double marathon before.  And, because apparently that's not challenging enough, he then decided to up his last day's run to 90 km, in honour of South Africa's Comrades Marathon.

Eddie is scheduled to start his double marathon at 5 a.m. South African time (which is about 2 hours after I click Publish on this post), and to end 12 hour later. 

I ardently wish him all the good luck in the known universe, and sincerely hope that enough money is raised that everyone involved feels fully satisfied that this increasingly herculean undertaking was completely worthwhile.

You can follow Eddie's adventure live on BBC, Twitter, and Periscope, and donate via Sport Relief.

Friday, October 11, 2013

Beware of calls from 1-877-974-2547 allegedly from RBC

I recently received a phone call from 1-877-974-2547, with the call display saying "RBC".  I bank with RBC, so I answered.  On the other end was a young woman in a very noisy call centre asking me if I wanted to switch to paperless statements.  I've been on paperless statements for years, so this seemed suspicious to me.

So I asked RBC on Twitter, and they replied that it doesn't appear to be an official number:

So beware of any call you get from 1-877-974-2547.  Remember: if you get a questionable call, you can always call the customer service number listed on the bank's website and ask them if there are in fact any problems with your account that require attention.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Why not voting doesn't send a message

Sometimes you hear people say that they choose not to vote in order to "send a message". But there's a problem with that strategy:

Suppose you're the most responsive politician in human history. There's an election, and, yay, you win! Then you notice that, say, 30% of the eligible voters didn't vote. Being the most responsive politician in human history, you're insightful enough to think that maybe they were trying to send you a message.

But what specific message were they trying to send you? What can you do to address their concerns?

You have no way of knowing, do you? For that matter, you have no way of knowing how many of them are trying to "send a message" as opposed to having moved out of the riding or died since the last enumeration or gotten hit by a bus on the way to the polling place.

The way to send a message to politicians is, quite literally, to send them a message. Email them about your specific concerns when they're campaigning, and again after they're elected. On top of this, you can sign (or start) petitions or otherwise engage in activism about your specific concerns, and work towards electoral reform if it addresses your concerns.

But choosing not to vote will achieve nothing. The only message is sends is "Meh, whatever you guys want is fine."

Saturday, April 09, 2011

Why you shouldn't report graffiti on private property to 311

I recently saw at the bottom of a City of Toronto ad a friendly little note saying "If you see graffiti vandalism in your neighbourhood, call 311."

Doesn't that sound helpful? After all, we all know that 311 is extremely helpful. So doesn't it sound like the nice 311 people will send some nice helpful city workers (maybe these guys?) to clean it up.

But it turns out that if the graffiti's on private property, you'll just be getting the property owner in trouble.

According to the City of Toronto website:

When City staff enforce compliance with the graffiti bylaw they try to provide owners with as many ways as possible to comply.

An bylaw officer will educate the property owner or occupant about the issue and require graffiti removal. The officer may issue written notice. The owner is given fixed time period that they have to comply (remove the graffiti), e.g. 72 hours. If the owner provides justifiable reason for not complying within an appropriate period of time (cannot paint when it is raining, freezing, etc.), the bylaw officer will adjust the complying period.

Note: If the property owner does not comply within the specified compliance period, the City will remove the graffiti and the cost will be added to the tax roll.

Therefore, if you report graffiti on private property, by-law officers will come and force the property owner to remove it promptly, and if they don't they'll be forced to pay for it.

The property owner is already the victim. They already know they have to get rid of the graffiti, and they're probably already trying to figure out how to clean it off or scrape up the money to get someone else to do it. Sending by-law officers around to nag them is unproductive, and, frankly, a dick move.

The City cleans up graffiti on City property, so reporting that is productive. But I would strongly recommend not reporting graffiti on private property. I'd much rather live in a city with graffiti around than live in a city where victims of crimes get nagged by law enforcement to recover faster.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

What to do when your pre-teen daughter wants to remove her body hair

There was recently a letter in the Globe and Mail's Ask A Pediatrician column from a parent whose 8-year-old daughter wants to start shaving her legs. As a former hairy 8-year-old myself, I felt compelled to respond.

Short version for busy parents: Anyone who has body hair is old enough to remove said body hair. In my personal experience, a No!No! is the best hair removal method for beginners. For more information on how I arrived at this reasoning, keep reading.

My credentials

You're probably thinking "You don't have kids, what do you know?" What I know is what it's like to be a hairy little girl. I have more body hair than most women, and started puberty earlier than most people. I seem to remember more clearly than most people what I thought and felt as a child, and I can now articulate those feelings with adult vocabulary and nuance, and without feeling the need to hide or sugarcoat anything like a younger girl might out of awkwardness or shame. I also have 20 years' experience managing my body hair, and have tried literally every home hair removal method currently in existence.

When you should let your daughter start removing her body hair

Short answer: as soon as she has body hair that she'd like to remove.

Your first thought is probably "But she's too young!" But when it comes to taking care of our bodies, we have to work with what our bodies are actually doing, not what they theoretically should be doing. If your daughter started menstruating, you'd provide her with feminine hygiene products and make sure she knows where babies come from. If she began developing breasts, you'd provide her with the foundational garments she needs to maintain her comfort and modesty. If she started having strange vaginal discharge, you'd get her gynecological care.

In fact, her young age makes having prominent body hair even worse, because she and her peers aren't accustomed to this, and might not even know that it's normal. (One of the greatest humiliations of my life was being the only person, male or female, with hairy armpits at the Grade 5 pool party. Neither I nor any of my classmates knew at the time that hairy armpits were a normal part of puberty. It took until adulthood for my self-esteem to recover.) She's likely the hairiest person in her class, male or female. If her mother removes her body hair, and if her sisters are either young enough that they don't have prominent body hair or old enough that they remove their own body hair, then your daughter probably thinks she's the only person in the world who has this very visible, very humiliating problem. Her self-concept will be defined by it. And, because for her entire hairy life she has not been permitted to remove her body hair, she cannot help but to feel like she will have to spend the rest of her whole life experiencing this humiliation.

However, being able to remove your body hair gives you control over this. You aren't sentenced to be the ugliest person in the room any more. You are no longer defined by your hair. You once again have control and sovereignty over your body and can look as feminine as you feel. I am telling you from my firsthand experience as a hairy girl, it is outright empowering!

Because your daughter specifically asked you about shaving, we know that she is bothered by her body hair and that she knows you can provide her with a solution. If you do provide her with a solution, she will learn that if she goes to you with questions or concerns about her changing body, you will give her solutions that make her feel empowered. However, if you tell her that she's too young, she will feel even more ashamed of her body hair, as though she's being bad just by being hairy at too young an age. The shame compounds: she feels ashamed because she has ugly masculine hair, and she ashamed at having hair at an age you consider too young, and she feels ashamed at wanting to remove the hair when you think she's too young. Again, these bad feelings are even worse for especially young kids, because they still want to Be Good rather than rebelling against their parents. You can save her from this shame spiral and reward her for coming to you with her concerns about her changing body simply by providing her with the solution she came to you for, which what any good parent does when their kid comes to them with any problem.

While it is normal for a younger kid to go to their parents for permission to do something to or with their own body (and such permission is often also logistically necessary), we all know that it's really a question of sovereignty over one's own body. Denying her this sovereignty will introduce the idea that it's normal for authority figures to overrule her sovereignty over her own body. Do you want to take that risk? Then, as she gets older and starts thinking about it, she'll extrapolate that your rules are arbitrary and lack credibility, and will proceed to do whatever she wants without consulting you.

In summary, letting your kids remove their body hair as soon as they want to will increase their self esteem, empower them, assert their sovereignty over their own body, increase your credibility in their eyes, and teach them that coming to you with any concerns they might have about their changing bodies gets good results. Not allowing them to remove their body hair has the opposite effect.

At this point, you're still thinking "But what if she hurts herself with a razor or hot wax? And I don't want her to have to commit to a beauty routine for the rest of her life, not at such a young age!" That brings me to...

Why I recommend the No!No!

If you clicked on the link above, you're probably thinking that the No!No! looks expensive and infomercially. It is a bit pricier than parents normally spend on pre-teens (although you can often get deals on ebay) but it does do the job. Here's why I like it, and why I think it's especially suitable for particularly young users:

1. The No!No! is safe. It's impossible to injure yourself with it. The only harm can come from if you get loose skin caught in it, and the one time I did this (I ran it over my elbow with my arm straightened instead of bent, so the skin wasn't anywhere near taut) I got a red line on my skin that disappeared the next day. No blood, no pain, no scar, just a red line. It's contraindicated for genitals and breasts, but can be used on the rest of the body, including the face.

2. The No!No! is easy. It's just as fast as shaving, but without any of the mess. You don't even need to be in the bathroom to do it. (I do mine in my bedroom - no water required!) Even in cases where it doesn't get every single hair, you always finish with fewer hairs than you started with. It's never a frustrating waste of time.

3. The No!No! is painless. It doesn't pull the hairs out, it zaps them in place. You feel a slightly warm thing passing over your skin, and that's all.

4. The No!No! can be used on all types of hair. It works on stubble and on longer hairs. You don't have to wait for the hair to grow to a certain length like you do with many epilatory methods. You can do it every day or once a week. It doesn't work on full-length pubic hair (you need to trim it down first, and it is contraindicated for the genitals anyway, although it's okay for the outer bikini line), and I, personally, struggle to make it work for armpit stubble (have never tried it on virgin armpit hair), although I struggle with all epilatory methods on my armpits because the layout of my breasts makes it difficult to get the skin taut. People with smaller breasts who carry less towards the outside tend not to have this problem, although I don't have any testimonials specific to the No! No! It does work on my leg stubble, as well as on regrown waxed hair and virgin arm and face hair.

5. You can stop using the No!No! whenever you want without any unpleasant regrowth phase. This is the reason why I so strongly recommend it for younger users specifically. Hair removed with a No! No! doesn't grow back as stubble. It isn't prickly. It doesn't get all ingrowny. It simply grows back as a kinder, gentler version of your own hair. Not every single follicle regrows, some regrow more slowly, some regrow finer or paler. Virgin hair (i.e. hair that has never been removed before) regrows looking even more virgin. I have used it on my forearms and on my face (mustache, sideburns, chin whiskers), and I have gone up to a month in between treatments. Apart from the fact that each day I have marginally more hair there than the day before, it doesn't look at all like hair regrowth.

When I was a hairy preteen, I alternated between wanting to remove my ugly body hair, and resenting the fact that I had to keep removing my ugly body hair. But if I stopped, I'd get stubbly and itchy. The No! No! eliminates this dilemma. Your daughter can remove her hair every day in the summer and stop in the winter. She can remove her hair once and then decide it's not worth the trouble, and then revisit it a year later. She can remove her hair only for special occasions. She can experiment with removing hair from another area of her body without any drama.

In summary, the No!No! addresses every concern a parent might have about a pre-teen removing their body hair. It's possible you might have to supplement with a razor for armpits, tweezers for eyebrows, or clippers for longer (i.e. longer than an inch or two) hair, but I highly recommend the No!No! as the best starting point.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

A mission for Toronto language professional, language geeks, and second generation Canadians

One of the many things needed at the Wellesley community centre is interpreters. According to someone who was there on the ground, languages include Arabic, Punjabi, Urdu, Turkish, and Farsi.

I don't know in any official capacity and wasn't there on the ground (and if I'm misconstruing the situation, please do correct me in comments), but based on what I've heard of this situation I don't think an interpreter-quality skill set is necessary. An amateur translator, a second-generation Canadian who can talk to Gramma in the old country's language, or someone with the equivalent of two years' classroom instruction should be able to be of some help.

If this is in your skill set, please do consider popping in to see if you can be of any use. If this is in the skill set of someone you know, please pass on the tinformation.

Monday, November 02, 2009

Places where I don't think you should shop

This is a continually-updated list of places where I don't think you should shop:

- Shopper's Drug Mart
- Leon's
- Starbucks
- Carlton Cards
- Indigo
- Kitchen Stuff Plus
- Yonge Eglinton Centre
- Ikea
- Canadian Tire
- Sheppard Centre

Q: Why don't I think you should shop at these places?
A: Because they're doing xmas advertising and/or decorations too early.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Wherein I nag you for the last time to sponsor Eddie Izzard

September 15 (which is just starting right about now in the UK) is the last day of Eddie's run. He's going to end up in Trafalgar Square, where he left way back on July 27.

Donations are still being matched, Eddie's still injured, Eddie's still going for a personal best tomorrow, the kitten still has a home. In just a few hours this complete act of lunacy will be a fait accompli.

Eddie has over a million Twitter followers. If he doesn't manage to raise 100,000 pounds with this incredibly excessive act of human endurance, that will be a blemish on the honour of humanity. Now is the time to stop procrastinating and donate.

You can follow the adventure on Twitter, the blog, the Eddie Izzard forum, and this running forum.

Godspeed Eddie!

Donate here.

Update: HE DID IT! 43 marathons in 51 days, personal best on the last one, and totally upstaged the plinth lady on the way in (here at 31:15). Congrats Eddie!!! Hope you can sleep well soon.

In case you're thinking "Crap, I meant to donate but I missed it!", as of right this minute they still seem to be accepting and matching donations here.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

How NOT to explain the meaning of a phrase

If a person says "I don't understand what they mean by [phrase]" or "What does [phrase] even mean?", replying with the dictionary definition of every word in the phrase is not helpful. (Especially when you include every meaning in the dictionary definitions, not just the one that applies to the phrase in question!)

Apart from the fact that if it were a matter of dictionary definitions they would just google it, if they are missing the meaning of the word they would say "What does [word] mean?" If I said "The Governor General prorogued Parliament" and you didn't know what prorogue meant, you wouldn't say "What does prorogue Parliament mean?", you would say "What does prorogue mean?" If, in some bizarro universe, you knew what the word prorogue means in general terms and you knew what the word Parliament means but you don't know what proroguing Parliament is, THEN you would say "What does prorogue Parliament mean?" You'd want to know the specific implications for Parliament, not the general dictionary definition.

Or, to use a simpler example, if you didn't understand what was meant "Coalition if necessary but not necessarily coalition," looking up all those words wouldn't help. The information you're probably missing here is that it means the Opposition doesn't intend to automatically make the Government fall, but they are prepared to do so if the Government is inadequate - basically using the threat of a coalition to keep the Government in line. That information isn't found in the dictionary definitions; if you don't get it, it's really a political strategy question.

So yeah, posting a definition of every word in a phrase doesn't help people understand the phrase. And worst case, it can make you look like a dickhead. Don't do it.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Voter's Resources

This is a post-dated post. If the date and time indicated for this post have not yet passed, there may be new material below.

Getting Started

First, go to the Elections Canada website and type in your postal code to find out your riding, your candidates, and where to vote.

If you have not received your voter information card, you can still vote on election day, you just need to take ID.

Your employer has to give you enough time off to ensure that you have three consecutive hours off during polling hours.


The platforms:

Bloc Quebecois (Click the link that contains "anglais" for the English version
Conservative Party
Green Party
Liberal Party

To help you figure out which party is best for you:

The Toronto Star's quiz

Strategy and Predictions

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

To help you with strategic voting:

Election Prediction Project
Hill and Knowlton Election Predictor You can use the poll results provided (scroll down to the Polls box at the bottom left, or the Globe and Mail's aggregate poll, or any other polls you can find.
DemocraticSPACE Strategic Voting Guide and seat predictions (PDF).

If I've missed anything or left any dead links, let me know.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Why you want to avoid double translation

Sometimes your translator might call you up and ask you to send her documents that are referred to in the text she is translating. If you're really busy that day and have a lot of things to do and not have time to dig through your files, you might be inclined to tell the translator to just translate the text as written. At this point she'll warn you that doing so might make the overt and hidden quotes in the translation come out different from the original document they were citing. You might be inclined to say this is not big deal and instruct her to just carry on with what she has.

Here's why you don't want to do that.

I don't speak Chinese (I'm not even 100% certain that language is Chinese), but it seems perfectly feasible to me that this could be a perfectly competent translation (albeit lacking in-depth knowledge of North American commercial products).

Friday, August 08, 2008

A mission for everyone in Winnipeg tomorrow

If you are or can be in Winnipeg tomorrow (i.e. Sat. Aug. 9), drop everything and clear your schedule. Your mission is now: a) protect the mourners, and b) make life difficult for the nutters.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Make your own microloans

In case you haven't heard of it yet, Kiva is a site where you, yes you personally, can provide microloans directly to entrepreneurs.

The Toronto Star has an article about it.

Remember 0.7%? Run the numbers on that, then go to Kiva and take a look around.

Sunday, June 08, 2008

Try going to US websites

The past couple of days, I've been able to get at US websites that I can't normally get at. I've been asking around, and some people can and some people can't. I don't see any pattern to it (and I'm infuriatingly not posting details in the hope of keeping the issue nongoogleable).

At any rate, it's worth trying to get to US websites that you can't normally get to, just in case you can right now.

If you post a comment on this, please do NOT include any keywords like names of websites or ISPs. I think this will last longer if it stays ungoogleable.

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

Election Roundup

Before I forget, here's a repost of my election stuff. This is from the last federal campaign, but it applies to the current Ontario election. (This might be the provincial election where I can reuse these!)

How to vote
Where to vote
How to vote strategically.

Update, because some of the strategic voting links have moved:

Election Prediction Project is here
Hill Knowlton predictor is here
DemocraticSPACE's strategic voting guide is here (it isn't up yet, but they say it's going up today.

Sunday, February 11, 2007

Beware of AutoCorrect

The word I am attempting to type: succinct
The typo I accidentally make: succincg
Word's AutoCorrect of said typo: sucking
The result: a sentence implying that people should make sure their presentations suck.