I have a message for big corporations with crappy customer service. There are a lot of us "Boomers" out here. Not seniors (though many of us are) but people with experience and time. I don't know how people with jobs manage to bank, get insurance, buy a house, or buy a vehicle. It's like companies want to make the experience as awful as they can.
A month or so ago, I had this exchange with an insurance (agent? representative, dogsbody?) Big Motors (obviously a pseudonym) needed a statement of my entire insurance coverage as well as a pink card. I emailed my insurance company and phoned as well. I was assured by email and over the phone that my request had already been looked after. The email didn't go through. Another phone call. "Yes, everything was done, for sure."
Imagine my "joy" when Steve from Big Motors couldn't accept it because there was an error in the lien adders in the coverage. A new email needed to be sent with the corrected information. Steve had talked to the insurance provider but of course, nothing could be changed without my say-so. Another phone call- I got a little rough (okay, rude) with Hilary at the insurance company. She said, "Email isn't a good way to get things done." What!!!??? Part of the delightful phone message as you wait on hold, suggests emailing or the chatline.
I said, "I did phone." And in my velvety, dulcet teacher voice, honed over 33 years, I explained how I had emailed and phoned and still hadn't had satisfaction. Then the email with corrected lien adders finally got to Steve.
He emailed back and I could hear the admiration, "You sure get things done quickly."
The moral:(if there is one.) Don't mess with seniors. We aren't all senile AND we have the time to wait the elevator music out and get to an agent. When we do get through, it won't be pretty.
Measles, just an annoying childhood disease? Nothing to worry about? Let natural immunity look after them? No need to risk the "dangers" of vaccination? Tell that to the 17 people in Romania who had a little infection. O, wait, you can't. They're dead. 3,400 other people contracted measles in 2015 and this spike in cases is directly linked to the decrease in vaccination rates. In 2007, 97% of people were vaccinated, by 2015 the percentage had fallen to 86, well below the magic 95%. Herd immunity kicks in at 95% vaccination rate. With that many people immunized, the chances of a virus finding a host are low and lower yet is the opportunity to infect another unprotected person. It's not just happening in Romania. The European Centre for Disease Prevention reports endemic transmission of measles in Belgium, France, Italy and Poland. Still, that's Europe, this is Alberta.
Sorry, we are susceptible to the idiocy of anti-vaxxers and the trend to leave children unprotected. As of 2017, Alberta Health Services reports 51 cases of mumps, an unpleasant viral infection causing swelling of head and neck glands, fever, aches, etc. O, yeah. In some people, the affected organs are the testicles, the ovaries or the pancreas. Unpleasant, indeed. Meningitis is a possible development. Babies and children too young to immunize could be put at risk because people decided that vaccines are "too dangerous." It is likely these are the same people giving "natural, herbal" preparations to their kids. Preparations that aren't subjected to testing, government standards and general safety regulations. Vaccinations save lives. Not just the lives of recipients but of everyone. Check out herd immunity. It cannot be emphasized enough.
Look at the picture. Notice any vegetables? Any fruit? Do you know what is under the deep-fry coating on the "chicken?" It seems that we are raising a generation of 'picky' eaters who favour high fat, high salt and high sugar diets. On any kids' menu, you'll find chicken fingers.
Chicken fingers (at least in supermarket prepared or fast food form) are the "tender" that is the small part left from a chicken breast when the breast is cut for cooking. No one knew what to do with these small parts and so, waste not, want not, the chicken finger was born. (Cheap, too.) Dipped in thick batter and deep fried, paired with fries for service, what's not to like? Except if they become a dietary staple instead of a treat or something occasionally given when there's no time to cook, kids develop a taste for oil and salt. What they don't develop is a palate willing to try other foods- spicier, chewier or fresh.
I have heard an adult who was trying yet another diet, give up on her salad because it was just "too much chewing." What? That's why we have teeth. And for most of us, looked after, teeth last as long as we do. Fresh fruit, fresh vegetables, and salads do take more chewing. Deadened taste buds (or at least those used to the high salt and high fat flavours) need time to adjust and detect more subtle but better tastes.
Kids who eat mostly from the kids' menu (fast food or warmed from the frozen section of the supermarket) reject more healthy choices. Fries, gravy, hamburgers, chicken wings. grilled cheese and other deep-fried or processed foods become the norm. Everything has sugar. Check labels. Yogurt? High sugar. Most anything processed will have hidden sugar- addictive and unhealthy.
Kids need a chance to re-establish tastes. They need to experience more than fries and chicken fingers. Fruit (although it may need peeling) is the original fast food, only it's good for you. Carrot sticks and celery sticks are tasty. They even (gasp) don't always have to be served with a dip. I have seen a young fellow at a community dinner sit down with his plate and say, "I have the carrot sticks but I couldn't find the dip."
News flash- we don't need dips, dressings, sauces on everything. Fruit and vegetables (especially raw) are a good source of dietary fibre. Keeps you regular.
The rant ends here. Others have said it better but every so often, I am distressed to see that despite changing Canada's Food Rules and all of the news stories about unhealthy eating and its effects, nothing changes.
I live in a small town but we do have professional women employed as lawyers, teachers, real estate agents and business owners. The year when I took a peak at the calendar says 2017.
Last week my friend went to her local grocery store where she has shopped for 40+ years. She and her husband have worked in and around the community for those same forty years. They support local businesses when they can. My friend, I'll call her Eloise, was tired of the poor quality of meat on offer so she special-ordered a package of t-bone steaks. I don't know how many were included but the clerk did warn her. "That will be quite a price. The t-bones are expensive."
"I know," said Eloise. "That's fine. I want to have some nice steaks on hand and the bbq season is coming up."
You would think that would be the end of it. Steaks ordered and when they came in, a phone call would have Eloise down to pay for and pick up her steaks. But it wasn't. Eloise's husband got a phone call from the grocery store before they placed the order. Was it okay that his wife had placed such an expensive order?
Wrong on so many levels. Eloise has worked and made an equivalent contribution to the family income her entire life. As such, she can order all the steaks she can afford. She is an individual, can vote and her opinions and money are her own. Her husband doesn't own her; nor is he the boss. Their marriage is a partnership.
I shouldn't have been surprised. A couple of years ago, I was at a fund-raising event where there was an auction. I bid on an item all by my little self, wrote a cheque for it all by myself, and carried it out to the car all on my own. My husband was there, but again- I have worked and contributed equally to the family income. My husband doesn't own me, yet when the receipt for my purchase came with a tasteful Thank You card, it was addressed to Gary. He knew I might come unglued so in a pre-emptory strike, he had crossed Mr. and Gary out and written in my name. I did notice and I'm not buying another thing to contribute to that particular cause (which is a good one.)
Think, people, think. 2017.
Open any newspaper or magazine and it's not hard to find yet another article bemoaning the tragic effects of bullying. We must do something about it. Wear a pink shirt. Pay lip service.
Bullying is a serious problem BUT it is hard to change attitudes when the practise is accepted at all levels in society. Amarjeet Sohi, MP for Mill Woods and Minister of Infrastructure and Communities in the Federal Cabinet, rose in the house to offer his condolences to the family of a Winnipeg bus driver who had been stabbed to death that day. In his remarks, he referred to his time as a bus driver for Edmonton Transit Services. Mention of his former occupation drew loud laughter from the opposition benches.
If that isn't bullying, I don't know what is. How is driving a transit bus a job to be ridiculed? It's an important job, it's an honest job and it has its dangers and challenges. Bus drivers have been spat on, yelled at, and physically assaulted for doing their jobs. There is a schedule to be met, safety regulations to follow and the unappreciative public to deal with. Not simple work and even if it was, how is it something to deride? People depend on transit to get them to jobs, appointments, and entertainments. In this day of increasing environmental awareness and the pressure to be more green, buses are an important option.
I am disgusted with adult Members of Parliament who think that it's acceptable to laugh loudly when a colleague (albeit a minister not of their opposition party) mentions his former employment. It is disrespectful to the family of the murdered driver from Winnipeg and to the bus driver himself.
I wish I could (as do a lot of other fair-minded people) wave a magic wand and "poof" bullying begone. I wish I had some answers and I appreciate the efforts of individuals and organizations who are working toward a solution. I fear that they have made bullying so well-known that it suffers from "fatigue"- fatigue that we have all heard too much about it without things changing.
What I do believe is that if individuals in positions of influence and power acted in respectful ways, it would have an impact. When you don't get your own way, when you disagree with someone, there are ways to deal with the situation. Cruel laughter is not one of them.
So I lost respect for the Conservative MPs who think that driving a bus is somehow demeaning and worthy of ridicule. The next time someone comes from a more humble background, I wish them more maturity. Bullying will continue to be a problem when it is condoned at the highest levels.
The search for ways to make school easier is on-going. A note-taking app, the name doesn't matter, to put the "fun in physics", is one I heard of lately. Here's a news flash- for a lot of us (Stephen Hawking, the exception) fun and physics do not belong in the same sentence and note-taking to be effective, isn't too entertaining, either.
Everything in the world isn't fun. The sooner the education system gets over the idea, the sooner we introduce those delicate minds in it to the concept that some things are "gasp" work and some worthwhile accomplishments take a lot of effort, the better. Instead, we sell kids the idea that they are in control and if something isn't fun, it's not useful.
Kids are too fragile to fail at anything. Yet real life is full of failure. There are the triumphs but what makes them special is the fact that a lot of the time, stuff just doesn't turn out. Life isn't one grand party after all. If you learn to handle a little failure, when a bigger one happens (and it will), it isn't devastating. You can dust yourself off and give it another burn.
That isn't to say that there shouldn't be moments and yes, even days of fun. Serious, nose-to-the grindstone with never a break will lead to a real break, breakdown. The secret is balance and finding it isn't easy. It may even be what creating a happy life is about.
So...instead of that fun app that will make physics the centre of your next party (and maybe with a few drinks, it would be) how about introducing kids to the idea that school is serious, that to succeed you have to work and hard, and that nothing is gained without breaking a sweat? Maybe there's an app for that. Maybe I could sell the idea and have too much money. But would it be fun?
I like to try and keep informed about local, provincial, national, and international news. It's getting harder and harder. Some breaking news and news items that pop up on a Twitter or Facebook feed are obvious fabrications but others are very well done. There are so many on-line news sources that keeping up with those that feature actual news and valid opinions is difficult. I would like to depend on a newspaper or two but they are struggling to compete on this new and tilted playing field. Separating the wheat from the chaff gets more challenging each day.
Television and radio news doesn't seem much better. So many lead stories on National News would be more fitting on Entertainment Tonight and occasionally after the news, the same celebrity stories appear on both kinds of programs.
On-line sites generated in places like Macedonia, Russia, Romania and the United States may even use website spoofing, where the site looks like a legitimate ABC or MSNBC news source. The stories and headlines will be written well enough that I can be fooled.
In December of 2016, one such fake news story led Edgar Maddison Welch of Salisbury, NC to drive to Washington DC to save children from Hillary Clinton's child-sex ring that she was running out of Comet Ping Pong Pizza. He went in with his A15 and shot it up a bit. No one will argue that IQ was likely to be Welch's strong point; he certainly overreacted but he did think children were in danger and now he faces criminal charges. He actually has his own kids.
I long for the simpler days where I could read The Weekly World News and laugh. It didn't mean to be anything but outrageous and entertaining with its stories of aliens and Bat Boys. It was no problem determining that the news wasn't true.
This brings me to Alternative Facts. There have always been points of view and news stories have always had a spin. If they didn't, sometimes the dry, hard facts would just be too boring or too brutal. I would like to think (Hitler and his Propaganda machine excluded), that modern politicians and journalists try to use some facts when talking about news or policies. It seems that's not necessary any more. If you don't like the facts or disagree with the evidence, you can change the truth by offering alternative facts. This is Kellyanne Conway's newspeak and she is Donald Trump's counselor. That she was speaking about attendance at the 2017 and 2009 inaugurations doesn't seem that important. That she thinks she can make something true by offering her alternative facts is pretty disturbing.
To end this rant, I am including a link to Facebook's top 50 fake news reports and a link to a New York Times study about how a fake news story can go viral. Disturbing, too.
This image is of a gun silencer. Originally silencers were invented by Hiram Percy Maxim, an MIT graduate. He noticed that water in a bathtub swirled around the drain soundlessly as it was let out. He thought if the air from the barrel of a firearm swirled, it should muffle the sound. Guns could be shot more quietly.
Why am I, a Canadian, non-firearm owner ranting about this? Donald Trump, Jr. was involved in the introduction of legislation to make silencers easier to buy in the 42 states that permit them. The kicker? It wasn't introduced in the Second Amendment (the right to bear arms) but in Health and Safety. I know that firing a rifle or handgun can cause hearing damage. I live with a gun owner who can trace at least some of his hearing problems to shooting (there is a selective aspect to them.) The legislation was designed to making silencers easier to purchase- eliminating the $200 tax and the 9 month wait for approval.
So what am I ranting about? Although the legislation died in committee, it was the third most viewed in 2016. It's sneaky and self-serving. Donald J. Trump is an avid hunter of big game (African endangered species are some of his trophies.) I am sure that these "kills" are a result of his skill and have nothing to do with being "B'wana" and having Bobo and the rest of the gun bearers, etc. make the hunt comfortable. If the bill had been introduced with other hearing safety concerns, I wouldn't be so torn up. Old Rockers have lost their hearing; club servers, jack hammer operators, airport workers, farm workers can all be affected. When you choose one group to "protect", it's undemocratic. It's a special interest group.
Sales of silencers have tripled in 2016. That's a sudden surge in hearing health concern. I know gun owners and they wear the ear protective "muffs" which work well. If you are a hunter, I'm told adding the silencer to your rifle would make it a lot more inconvenient to carry in the bush. My suspicion is that silencers are one more way to undermine any kind of gun control and one big money grab.
Obviously, politics is not a career choice for anyone too sensitive, too easily hurt, or too likely to take the negative opinions of others to heart. On the other hand, a woman choosing a public service life should not be subject to criticism or attack merely because of her gender.
Sandra Jensen entered politics in 2012 when she was elected MLA for Calgary North West in the Redford government. She was named Minister of Family and Community Safety. The rest of her Conservative career is readily available on Wikipedia. Before politics, Ms. Jensen worked as a broadcaster.
I mention these accomplishments to show that she has been in a couple of rough and tumble professions and if she couldn't handle the heat, she'd have already left the kitchen. It wasn't until she decided to run for leader of the Progressive Conservative Party of Alberta that she ran into the kind of hate-filled misogyny and crude comments that she gave up on something. After a recent Conservative party convention, she withdrew from the leadership race citing sexism and personal attacks as her reasons. Her nomination forms were opportunities for gender-specific insults and personal attack graffiti. She felt threatened and demeaned. I can't ignore the fact that a large portion of her problem comes from the fact that she is a woman. That leaves her open to extremely demeaning, degrading language and she isn't the first.
Rachel Notley and her female ministers, in particular, have been targets of similar comments and even threats. Their social media is flooded with this kind of insulting material whenever they make decisions, unpopular with some people. In a democracy, this shouldn't be the kind of treatment awaiting our public servants.
Farther south, Hillary Clinton, faced similar discriminatory kinds of attacks. Attacking her policies, or her record as Secretary of State or even the issue of her non-existent emails (in the latest investigation, just before the election) is fair enough. A male would have to stand or fall by his record. What isn't acceptable it that her gender opened her to other kinds of attack.
People, it's 2016. That's frightening.
I have to say, it's a weird choice. Wonder Woman, a DC comics fictional character, has been selected as the United Nations honourary ambassador for the empowerment of women and girls.
WHAT??? Take a look at the picture of Linda Carter as Wonder Woman from the 1975-79 tv series. Her costume is kind of revealing and a friend's brothers referred to her as old "Super Tin Tits." That was in a more innocent time. Now when we should be able to think of a real woman with real accomplishments, who does the UN choose? Some UN staffers protested the "appointment" and in their petition described Wonder Woman as 'a large breasted, white woman of impossible proportions, scantily clad in a shimmery, thigh-baring body suit with an American flag motif and knee high boots'. Yup, just what I think of when I think of women and their accomplishments. This is an image that's sure to inspire respect and recognition among men. Young women will look to it and think, I want to have a golden bra just like Wonder Woman's and run around in high heeled boots with my lasso of truth. What a bogus idea! If the UN is a serious organization and is taking the rights of women and girls seriously (it is one of the UN's 17 sustainable development goals), it must have had some better suggestions for an ambassador than Wonder Woman.
It is the End Times.
Yes, I'm of a certain age but I'm pretty spry and like to think still smart enough.