Tuesday, November 30, 2010

For your Holiday giving

Most of us need a bit of help to come up with something unusual for our special someone, something personal that they'll treasure for years. Well, here ya go.
Weedwacker golf club, just the thing when you find your ball in the deep fescue and need to improve your lie.

Exhaust powered car jack. Connect it to your car's tailpipe and watch it magically rise.

• Pillowcases featuring pictures of computer parts. No really! Your mom will be so pleased.

His and hers beer smugglers. Get your brewskis through security at concerts, sports events, wherever BYOB is forbidden.

Radio-controlled Tarantula. Absolutely the best thing if you're 11.

Squirrel feet earrings. Uh, yeah.
Ho ho ho.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Reality check

Just a little warning in case you're contemplating the gift of fitness equipment this Holiday season.

Friday, November 26, 2010

Things I learned this week

I learned that:
• In Canada, 12% of greenhouse gases are caused by passenger cars and light trucks. What are we doing about the other 86%?

• The world's supply of diamonds will likely be exhausted in 12-13 years. And you were worried about the energy crisis.

• Your money in the bank is losing more than 2% per year, after inflation. Consumer prices rose 2.4% in the 12 months leading up to October, while interest on a typical savings account is running at 0.25%. If you're paying taxes on that interest, the results are even worse.

• The average person spends 6 months of their life sitting at red lights.

• Gene-mapping indicates that an American Indian woman probably arrived in Iceland 1,000 years ago, five centuries before Columbus made the trip the other way. She has about 80 Icelandic descendants today.

• Famous primatologist and anthropologist Jane Goodall says she was inspired to go to Africa by reading Dr. Dolittle and Tarzan books.
How about that?

Thursday, November 25, 2010

This takes guts

My wife and I attended the World Equestrian Games in September, hosted by Lexngton KY.

Here's an amazing video of a horse and rider on the cross-country course. The camera is mounted on the rider's helmet. These horses have a special temperament.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Meet the mob

Organized Crime
Via: OnlineSchools.org

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

The Great Rollback --- Dispatch # 1

There's a "big bang" in your future.

Expect a major contraction of those goodies purchased with our money, or with borrowed funds, by politicians over the past 50 years.

Yep, it was fun while it lasted, and society was kinder and gentler as a result, but the party is over. The first signs of the great rollback are starting to appear, and just at a time when an aging population means more people are about to need the social safety net.

Deficits are exploding, adding to gigantic national debts (Canada's stands at about $550 billion), and the huge boomer generation is on the threshold of retirement. It is known that the 14% of the Canadian population who are seniors consume nearly 44% of the provincial health care spending. Our federal government projects that about 23% will be over 65 by 2030, and studies are showing that many boomers are financially unprepared for retirement. They're not likely to warm to the idea of user fees on, or a reduction of, public services.

In my own province of Ontario, healthcare is 46% of the provincial budget and, if present trends continue, it will represent 80% of the province's spending by 2030. And healthcare is just the most visible of the social services that are likely to be be stressed beyond their limits.

Governments everywhere have ducked this issue, which has been looming on the horizon for some time, so now they have electorates that have no understanding of the mess we're in, and no willingness to make sacrifices to help ease the pressure on services they perceive as entitlements.

When Quebec and British Columbia proposed user fees for healthcare, the reaction from the public and opposition parties was swift. In France, citizens rioted in the streets when a raising of the official retirement age by two years was suggested. Protestors gathered in front of 10 Downing St. after the British government announced cuts to welfare and housing benefits.

Do the math. More demand for services. Resistance to fees and taxes to pay for them. A shrinking ratio of working taxpayers to retirees. This collision is bearing down on us like a runaway freight train on a downhill grade.

It promises to be one helluva smash-up.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Blah, blah, blah

Friday, November 19, 2010

Things I learned this week

I learned that:
• Canada is 20th among nations in terms of numbers of people using the internet, and 11th in terms of the average connection speed. South Korea's average speed is 3.5 times faster!

• You get hot water immediately in your hotel shower because it circulates continuously in the pipe system, unlike your home where you you must wait for it to arrive from the water heater.

• The ear my be a better identifier than fingerprints or facial recognition. Technology has been devised that can identify an individual's ears with 99.6% accuracy.

The Pentagon, in Arlington, Virginia, has twice as many bathrooms as is necessary. When it was built in the 1940s, the state of Virginia still had segregation laws requiring separate toilet facilities for blacks and whites.

• A hot scrotum can reduce your chances of becoming a daddy. The heat generated from a laptop computer can reduce male fertility. The advice is to keep your legs apart.

• A walla-walla scene in a movie is one where extras pretend to be talking in the background. When they say "walla-walla" it looks like they are actually talking.
How about that?

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Put an oil refinery in your kitchen

Make your own oil, from plastic garbage, right in your own home. An amazing invention.

Monday, November 15, 2010

And, oh yeah, make that rare

Friday, November 12, 2010

Things I learned this week

I learned that:
• The Google Map directions for travelling from Japan to China include "43. Jet Ski across the Pacific Ocean." Go ahead and see for yourself.

• "Hands-free cell phones are just as distracting as handheld cell phones because the conversation itself , not just manipulation of a handheld phone, distracts drivers from road conditions," says a study by psychologists at the University of Utah.

• South Korea is the most innovative country in the world, when measured by the number of patents filed per dollar of research budget. Canada is eleventh, behind Switzerland and the Netherlands.

• There is evidence that the rise of agriculture during the Neolithic Period of the Stone Age was a result of people's thirst for beer, and not because they planned on using grains for food, says Brian Hayden, an archaeologist at Simon Fraser University in Canada.

• The USA once planned to shoot a missile with a nuclear warhead at the moon to "one-up" the Soviet Union. Boys and their toys.

Alien cow abduction is a serious problem.
How about that?

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Remembering our heroes

"I'll be alright, Mom. I'll be back soon, Dad."

It was unthinkable that one would not go down to the recruiting office to join his classmates and pals in the great and glorious cause.

Young bucks, signing up to take on those who would threaten our way of life.

Yesterday, boys. Now soldiers, sailors, airmen. "We'll show 'em," they said.

The town turned out to see them off on the train. The band played. The flags flew. The girls waved.

Then, off to a faraway place to do indescribable things. Things the rest of us cannot comprehend, or even imagine in our worst nightmares.

Killed in their youth, deprived of the life the rest of us take for granted.

Sacrificed for us.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Better living through technology

We've been cruising the intertubes in search of the latest technical advances, and here they are:
The Electric Shock Jacket
Turns you into a walking Taser. Anyone touching you while you are wearing this gets zapped with 80,000 volts. Perfect for the subway.

Sensitive Parking Meters
These adjust the price of parking spaces based on demand. The system uses electronic sensors to measure the call for parking slots in real time, and prices them accordingly. Midnight in the suburbs, free. Noon in downtown, ouch.

Combination Toilet and Washer
The water used to wash your clothes is reused to flush the toilet (not the other way around). Your guests will know you have a sustainable, eco-friendly household.

Miniature Projectors
Just 1 cubic centimetre in size, but capable of projecting documents and videos onto a wall, look for these in laptops and smartphones. Now we'll be getting baby pictures, boring Powerpoint presos and video elevator pitches everywhere.

Dog Poo-powered streetlights
Yep, stoop, scoop, and toss it into a a methane digester that powers a streetlight that illuminates the dog park. Already operating in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

Personal submarine
Your very own two-person submersible that can descend to a depth of 1,000 ft., and motor around reefs and wrecks at up to 3 knots.

Toilet Seat Scale
Just sit there and watch yourself lose weight. Fabulous personal fitness device.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Drop your pants and laugh

Thanks to Ingrid for sending the following quotes, purported to have been taken from actual medical records, as dictated by physicians:
• Patient has two teenage children, but no other abnormalities.

• She has no rigors or shaking chills, but her husband states she was very hot in bed last night.

• The pelvic exam will be done later on the floor.

• Skin: Somewhat pale but present.

• The patient was to have a bowel resection. However, he took a job as a stock broker instead.

• The lab test indicated abnormal lover function.

• Examination of genitalia reveals that he is circus sized.

• I saw your patient today, who is still under our car for physical therapy.

• She stated that she had been constipated for most of her life until she got a divorce.

• Rectal examination revealed a normal size thyroid.

• Occasional, constant, infrequent headaches.

• Patient had waffles for breakfast and anorexia for lunch.

• Patient was seen in consultation by Dr. Smith, who felt we should sit on the abdomen and I agree.

• Patient has chest pain if she lies on her left side for over a year.

• On the second day the knee was better and on the third day it had completely disappeared.

• The patient has been depressed ever since she began seeing me in 1983.

• The patient is tearful and crying constantly. She also appears to be depressed.

• Discharge status: Alive but without permission.

• Healthy-appearing decrepit 69-year-old male, mentally alert but forgetful.

• The patient refused an autopsy.

• The patient has no past history of suicides.

• The patient expired on the floor uneventfully.

• Patient has left his white blood cells at another hospital.

• The patient's past medical history has been remarkably insignificant, with only a 40-pound weight gain in the past three days.

• She slipped on the ice and apparently her legs went in separate directions in early December.

• Between you and me, we ought to be able to get this lady pregnant.

• She is numb from her toes down.

• The skin was moist and dry.

• Patient was alert and unresponsive.

• When she fainted, her eyes rolled around the room

Monday, November 8, 2010

Homeland security

Friday, November 5, 2010

Things I learned this week

I learned that:
• Newspapers will be extinct in Canada by 2020, according to futurist Ross Dawson, a few years later than in the U.S.

• The world’s richest half-billion people, about 7 % of the global population, are responsible for 50 % of the world’s carbon dioxide emissions. Meanwhile the poorest 50 % are responsible for just 7 % of emissions, says Stephen Pacala, director of the Princeton Environment Institute.

• No, it's not the smoking, drinking, and other high-risk activities that result in men having shorter lifespans than women. Professor Tom Kirkwood, a leading gerontologist at the University of Newcastle, sees evidence that the cells of men's bodies are not genetically programmed to last as long as those in females.

Airships are making a comeback. While they look like World War I dirigibles, these are being designed to "lift heavy payloads, remain aloft for weeks or even months at a time, and fly without pilots—all while expending far less energy than a conventional airplane."

• Putting an ice pack on a bruise or sprain may actually slow down healing, according to a study at the Cleveland Clinic in Ohio.

• In development and coming soon is a contraceptive gel that is rubbed on the skin, releasing hormones that prevent pregnancy.

• There is approximately one chicken for every human being in the world.
How about that?

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Music hath charms

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

An awakening

Boomers are discovering something about the Canadian healthcare system, and the attitudes of many medical practitioners toward the elderly, as they help their parents get the care they need.

Until you need it, healthcare is just a word. Sure, you read about the deficiencies of the healthcare system, the wait times, the concerns about sustainability, but it's not really part of your world until you see it up close.

When you do see it up close, it's often a shock. I can personally attest to observing hospital staff who are uncaring, insensitive, just going through the motions. I have seen physicians who clearly wanted to just get an older person out of the way so they could treat someone they considered more deserving of their attentions. I have heard first hand accounts, some from other physicians, of serial misdiagnosis of seniors' ailments and inappropriate prescriptions.

My uncle spent a week in a hospital corridor, only being admitted to a room after my cousin raised bloody hell. I watched a hospital staffer throw a meal tray down in front of my centenarian mother, without adjusting her bed so she could reach it.

I suspect that everyone with an elderly parent has witnessed this sort of thing, experienced the sense that older folks are just taking up expensive space and consuming scarce resources that would be better spent on young folks who aren't going to die in the next few years.

These healthcare workers don't seem to grasp that, with any luck, they'll be elderly soon enough, and are contributing to an ethic that will come back to haunt them when they, inevitably, need healthcare.

The boomers are paying attention, though. They know that their parents' problems will be theirs in 20 years. I expect that, as they have always done, they will make some noise.

Monday, November 1, 2010