Four things I have learned by hitting a bus

Thursday, June 13th, 2013

My accident was less than six weeks ago. but I thought I should share what I have learned so far.8724770131_c9e8f75a2c

1) Get comfortable.  When I shattered my shoulder in the cycling accident, I had to wait 4 days for surgery.  During that time it was important to be as comfortable as possible. I found being propped up the most tolerable. However it made it  difficult to sleep.  If you are injured be prepared for some long nights.  Have everything you need in reach and have something like a book or video to occupy yourself just in case you find yourself up in the wee hours of the morning.

Recovery is the same.  It will take some time to adjust to new sleeping positions, new sitting positions.  Your body will immobilize certain muscles to protect itself and so you will find you need to make changes to accommodate.  For example, I couldn’t get in or out of my own bed.  It hurt too much so I ended up having to order a hospital bed which could get me to an upright position.  In fact for the first two weeks after surgery I slept with the bed half propped up and had to tape a piece of cardboard to a window to keep a street light from shining in my face. It seemed silly but it was what was needed.

2) Learn to love drugs.  Some of the drugs you will be given are painkillers, take them, they are your friends. Don’t try to be heroic, no one wants to watch you suffer.  Pain affects your mood and your mood will affect your recovery.  Not only that but it will make you difficult to be around.  Zuimei pointed out several times that when I would wake up I was not a very nice person, he understood the pain was enough to put me in a foul mood, but that didn’t make me easier to be around.

Not only that but the pain can actually do you harm and lengthen your recovery. By taking the painkillers you can allow your body to relax and work on the healing process. Yes, it is possible to get addicted to painkillers but unlikely if you take them for a few weeks and only take them when needed.  For example,  I take them to help me sleep but that’s about it.  During the day I use an icepack to help numb the pain after exercises. The drugs are not essential but they make healing easier. Think of them as a tool and use them accordingly.

3) Accept help. This one is tough,  especially for anyone who likes their independence and one I think most men have difficulty with. There will be things you cannot do yourself, things you used to do easily. It is okay to allow others to help, but it’s fucking hard to do. Swallow your pride and get over it.

I had to have help bathing for two weeks.  There no more vulnerable position to be in,  then to be standing naked in a bathtub having someone wash you like a child. In fact I had a breakdown the first time and started sobbing. I am sure it was uncomfortable for Zuimei but it was devastating for me.  Clearly I had fucked up badly to be in the position where my husband needed to wash my ass.  I failed at being able to take care of myself.

Then my sister pointed out the best part about gifts is the giving, not the receiving. When you allow others to help you, they get to give you the gift of their assistance. They may not do things the way you would, but accept the help with grace.

4) Slow down. You cannot rush recovery.  I started trying to do things on my own because I wanted that independence back.  But you cannot rush recovery.  By all means, do the exercises your physiotherapist gives you, but don’t try to do too much more than that. You will only end up hurting yourself and that will set your recovery back.

I was trying to do my laundry and lost my balance slamming my shoulder against the wall.  It hurt like a mofo, to which I took some painkillers and had to ice it again.  I didn’t do any permanent damage but it did put me out of commission for the rest of the day. Take your recovery seriously, push through the pain when you must and avoid it when you can.

I am sure there are other things but these four are top of mind.



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The gay marriage debate in a nutshell

Tuesday, March 26th, 2013



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6 things I learned at Adobe Summit

Monday, March 11th, 2013

1. Your data is only as good as your implementation.  When we implemented SiteCatalyst for the CBC we did a good job.  I can’t knock it, but implementation has gotten so much better with the use of Tag Manager, Processing Rules and contextual data tags I strongly feel like we need to re-implement the code.  It has been 4 years after all and since then we’ve changed CMS and video platforms, we’re expanding into mobile and other emerging mediums, departments have undergone restructuring and quite frankly some of the data we though was important, really isn’t.  I don’t know exactly how I am going to do this yet, but that’s why I make the big bucks.

2013-03-06 22.01.592. Marketing people know how to party.  Maybe it’s the nature of their business; connections and networking are everything, but I couldn’t help but feel a little like a wallflower.  Drinks were supplied and every evening there was a party at one venue or another; some hosted by Adobe, some hosted by vendors.  At the Summit Bash they had acrobats, chefs making hors d’oeuvres, lots of booze, and the grammy award winners Black Keys.  I lucked out and happened to make it to the front row just before the band started hence the amazing photo.

3. Big data means big troubles. You want everyone to use the data, but you don’t scale and more and more data is being produced everyday.  And while often hear “big data” being thrown around, but what you don’t hear is “big analytic team” or “big analytic budgets”.   I heard many people at the conference complain that they spend so much time collecting information they don’t have time to analyse anything. Adobe is working on helping analysts collaborate with other people in the corporation through the use of the Marketing Cloud. Essentially this allows analysts to share data quickly by adding it to a feed which sends the information out to every one on a project. I suppose it is the old line about breaking down silos but the new Marketing Suite seems to do exactly that.

4. Processing rules are crazy powerful.  As an implementer I am always interested in tools that can make my job easier.  Processing rules do just that.  They are similar to VISTA rules but are created by administrators, not just Client Care.  For example, you could create a processing rule that identifies branded and non-branded keywords for search traffic.  You could create a processing rule which identifies based on IP address and allows you to tag traffic as internal.  Processing rules can be used in a variety of ways, but one has to be very careful because you can screw up your implementation (See point #1).

5. Contextual data variables are going to make life easier.  One of the challenges when we faced our implementation was mapping out all the s.props and eVars.   I maintain a giant spreadsheet which I occasionally print out of all the variables across all of our report suites.  With 150 variables across 12 report suites it becomes a fair amount of effort.  Contextual variables allow you to call things what they are and then map them to the appropriate variables.  For example:

  • s.contextData['author']=”JK Rowlings”
  • s.contextData['section']=”books”
  • s.contextData['genre']=”fantasy”

The processing rules can take this information and slot them into whatever s.props and eVars you want and in whatever fashion you want to processing rules could concatenate or separate values.

6. We are a varied group of people.  There was something like 5,000 people at the conference, from 27 countries with over 1,800 different job titles.  One person even had the word “tzar” in their title; “content tzar” or something like that. I mingled and talked to some very interesting people: a guy from Costco who helped run their billion dollar website with a team of two, a woman who worked for SouthWest airline and utilized test and target, a couple of Brits who worked for who were involved in some of the beta tests for new Adobe products.  Everyone I met was intelligent, friendly and optimistic for the future.  Adobe threw a great party, but more importantly to me, passed on some great information.


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Parental obligation

Wednesday, November 28th, 2012

What obligations does a parent have towards their child. I think we can all agree that a parent is obligated to provide their child with food, shelter, and clothing. What about medical care? Funny that what first springs to mind if religious refrain. Parents who refuse blood transfusions or medical help believing their faith will heal their child.

Recently in Australia a judge ruled, over the child’s mother’s wishes, that the child was to get vaccinated. Part of the issue lies in the fact the child’s parents are divorced. The mother, was resorting to homoeopathic methods to protect her daughter from illness when the father allowed his daughter to be taken to a medical centre where she was vaccinated against diphtheria, tetanus, pertussis, hepatitis B, polio, HIB, measles, mumps, rubella and meningococcal C.

The judge, Justice Victoria Bennett, admonished the father for his attempt to secretly immunise his daughter, saying it reflected poorly on his attitude to parenthood. She went on to say the mother had openly followed a homoeopathic program and acted in the child’s best interest.

Clearly this judge is mistaken. How does homoeopathy work? It doesn’t.

Homeopaths believe that like should be treated with like. So, for example, to treat a cold they use a remedy based on onions, because onions produce the streaming eyes and nose typical of a cold.
But the controversial part of the theory is the principle that the more you dilute a remedy with water, the more effective it becomes.

On the other hand we know immunization works. It’s not debatable, it’s not open to interpretation, it is fact. Take smallpox; a scourge which would kill king and pauper alike, and leave survivors horribly scarred, is estimated to have killed 400,000 Europeans annually and caused a third of all blindnesses. A terrible disease which could wipe out entire villages.

We invented a vaccine and began a program of eliminating it. The last naturally occurring case of smallpox had been detected in October 1975 in a two-year-old Bangladeshi girl, Rahima Banu. We wiped it out because of vaccines. Not homoeopathy, not witchcraft, not power crystals.

The other major disease we’ve managed to almost eliminate is polio. I know personally people who had contracted polio in their childhood, so it’s not like these things are far far away.

This girls father clearly has better parenting skills than the mother. The mother might as well have swung a dead cat over the girl while chanting in tongues for all the good homoeopathy does. The father prevented his daughter from suffering the following diseases:

People will point out that there are reactions to vaccines and sometimes kids get sick. There is supposed to be! That is how vaccines work. You get a little sick so your body can develop the anti-bodies to the disease so that when the healthy full-blown virus shows up you already have defences. If you look up vaccines and death the top two sites are WHO and (for me) deaths and vaccines. Which one are you going to trust?

The mistake is thinking that because there is a ring of immunization that most people are surrounded by they are protected. I am immunized and (I assume) my friends, family and co-workers are immunized. So for a disease to be able to get to me it must pass through all those people. But if you live in a diverse major urban area (as most of us do) that ring of safety is compromised. How do you know that man, who just got on the subway and came from the Horn of Africa doesn’t have rubella? Oh crap, he just sneezed and touched that pole. You don’t know and so the only way to protect yourself is through immunization.

One of the most important duties of a parent is to protect their child and the judge made an error in judgement in admonishing the father for immunizing his daughter. Perhaps his secrecy in regards to his ex-wife was less than worthy but who knows what she is like. If the mother had issues with immunization and the father objected to homoeopathy then where would that leave the girl? In the same position she was in before, unprotected.


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Rob Ford should not go down on libel issue

Thursday, November 15th, 2012

There are a lot of good reasons Rob Ford should be kicked out of office. Incompetence being the most obvious. His lack of care for urban Torontonians, their needs, or their opinions seems to border on pathological. His sound bite against the “gravy train” is in stark contrast to his actions; most recently the diverting of buses for his football team, his use of office to petition the government for money for his football team, or his use of city owned vehicles for his football team. (Apparently the man likes his football) What Rob Ford shouldn’t be in trouble for is saying the Tuggs Inc. deal stinks. It does, and it stinks to high heaven.

Sandra Bussin, former City Councillor of Ward 32, infamous for her poor handling of 204 Beech Ave, helped negotiate a sweet-heart deal for Fouldis.

The city council extended that arrangement until 2028 – without competitive bids and with sweetened terms, including the right to hawk merchandise on the boardwalk, sell booze in Ashbridge’s Bay Park and pay $50,000 less in annual rent than city council asked for more than five years ago. The deal would see Foulidis paying $1 million less in rent – some $4.75 million compared to the $5.75 million proposed by him in April 2007 – and only $340,000 in sponsorship revenue compared to the $750,000 he’d offered in his original proposal. This would occur over the 20-year term of the lease, which is to end in 2028.

What is truly mind boggling about this is how most government purchases have to jump through procurement hoops to get a $40,000 deal signed (including 3 RFP submissions) but this deal was allowed to be single sourced and is worth millions. The plot thickens when you add in that Bussin received $8,250 in donations from Foulidis’ company.

Rob Ford is now being sued for 6 million for stating it “smacks of civic corruption,” although he denies making that statement to the Toronto Sun. Now there is an audio recording which has surfaced and Foulidis crying on the stand claiming he was made to feel bad.

Imagine, Rob Ford goes down not because of a poor job, but because he said something everyone who lives in the Beach was already thinking.


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If you ask me, it’s an improvement

Thursday, August 23rd, 2012

So this elderly lady decided to take it upon herself to “retouch” the painting “Ecce Homo” by Elias Garcia in the Santuario de Misericordia located in Borja Spain. The photo on the right is the result. Most of the media is reporting this as “octogenarian destroys masterpiece!”  They note how she took it upon herself to retouch the painting without permission and how she apparently had no skill.

I for one prefer the new version.  There are so many frescos of a wistful Christ gazing puppy-dog eyed up into the light already that you can’t throw a rock in a museum these days without hitting one. Plus they get upset when you throw rocks in museums for some reason.  If Christ existed and if he was actually been crucified, he would probably have looked more like this:

Which, let’s face it, makes Christianity somewhat less appealing and hard to relate to.  The poor ol’ gal who did the restoration is apparently suffering from anxiety attacks from the outcry over her attempts to help.

Have you ever even heard of Elias Garcia Martinez?  I tried to Google him and all that came up was this same series of photos of the restoration.  Meaning it is quite likely this guy is a nobody, this is a nothing painting, and it is only here because of media hype.  In fact, it was the old woman who created a masterpiece! ”Ecce Homo” by the way is simply the noun for a painting of Christ wearing the crown of thorns, it literally translated to “behold the man”, so it’s not like this is is the only painting depicting this.

The new fresco to me depicts religion in general. The face, like a mask, covers the true visage beneath.  Only the black, soulless eyes, like a shark, staring intently into the distance come through reminicent of “No-Face” in Myazaki’s film Spirited away; the smiling mask presenting gold and treasure while later it proceeds to devour everything.

In the restored painting the soul of the Christ is being sucked from the emotionless  mouth in a blur. The head tilted as though he no longer has the strength to resist or hold his head up.  The hair, once flowing in auburn cascades around the neck and shoulders has become as mass of umbers and siennas, heavy and weighted.

The crown of thorns, the focus of the original painting, so poignant with it’s green tint and drops of crimson highlights has all but vanished in the restored painting, blending into the figure as if to say, “once a part of you, you never get it off”. Not unlike being raised a Catholic.  

All in all I think it is a fantastic piece of post-modern art. Art shouldn’t be meant to be forever, nor should it be stagnant.  Maybe one day we can say the same about religion.


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My gay agenda

Saturday, June 23rd, 2012

I was having this conversation with  a co-worker regarding gay Pride today and I remarked that I am closer to Stephen Harper than I am to most of the parade participants.  She looked at me funny and I had to explain. Gay Pride to me is about equality and visibility.  It’s political, it’s not about partying.  I don’t wear glitter, little butterfly wings, make-up, chaps, leather, rubber, latex or anything similar. My gay agenda means having the same rights and protections as anyone else. I want the right to have children, own a home, be free from harassment (police or otherwise) just like anyone else.  I want to live a good life and have my sexuality be a non-issue.

There are two things that need to be said about “gay rights”. First, stop calling it “gay rights”, because that’s just a way to circumvent what it really is. It’s human rights.

The second and one that needs to be confronted in both the gay and straight communities that those who support the fight for gay equality claim it to be genetic, or that they may have different brain mapping than straight people. I see this as a moot point because it doesn’t matter.

Even if being gay was a choice, no one, no where under any theological beliefs has the right to deny anyone the chance to bind themselves emotionally, financially, and even spiritually to the other human being they love.

I take offence to the queers who come out for Pride, dress in ridiculous outfits and parade around. If you don’t dress like a drag queen the rest of the year, why do it for Pride? As long as they continue, that is what gay culture gets reduced to. A bunch of half-naked, glittery, party boys with more make-up than Tammy Faye Baker. The millions of people who come to Pride in Toronto don’t come because they care about gay rights, they come out to see the weirdos.

I will be going with my family to Pride this year with my family.  My sister is excited to see the party, and I am pleased about that. But  I hope my father doesn’t get too uncomfortable,  Pride is a celebration, yes,  I just wish we could celebrate without the freak show for a change.

One of the best scenes I have ever seen in a movie.


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Moving towards a better tomorrow?

Monday, February 6th, 2012

You know what I hate?  A lot of things, but one thing I really hate is when someone thinks I’m stupid and they can pull a fast one on me.  Like I will blindly accept whatever they say and just agree. Take this bull shit ad from the TTC.

In case you can’t read it,

Better transit runs on better funding.

  • Fares don’t cover the cost of every trip, so as ridership grows the TTC’s costs grow.
  • The TTC gets less financial help than any other major North American transit system – only $0.84 per customer from Toronto property taxpayers.
  • Montreal gets $1.28 per customer from city and provincial governments
  • Chicago gets $2.64 per customer from local state and federal governments
  • More help from provincial and federal governments will allow the TTC to meet Toronto’s growing transit needs.

First off as the ridership grows the costs may grow but not at the same rate.  A streetcar travelling along Queen street costs the same to operate whether there is one person on it or a hundred.  You still have to pay the driver, pay for gas, pay for rails. The only difference is that an increase in stopping and starting might be less fuel efficient.  But on a busy route like Queen, chances are the streetcar will stop at every stop anyway.

Secondly, the ad is comparing one level of funding (Toronto) against two (Ottawa) and three (Chicago) levels of funding which is misleading.  While the Harris government left Ontario reeling, and it’s still recovering, the TTC has been wholly supported by the people of Toronto.  Both in terms of fares and in terms of municipal taxes, that is the real issue here.

Lastly who gives a flying-fuck about Chicago.  We’re not American, and it’s not like their governments are shining beacons of good decisions, let’s focus on Canada.

Now, the TTC is considered one of the most costly transit systems in Canada. For the 2011 operating year, the TTC had a projected operating budget of $1,447 million dollars. Revenue from fares covered approximately 70% of the budget, whereas the remaining 30% originated from the city. (from Wikipedia)  If they wanted to get Torontonians riled up then what they need to do is quit pussy-footing around the issue and drive the point home:

Better transit runs on better funding.

  • Fares don’t cover the cost of every trip, Toronto property taxes account for 30% of the funding.  40% of TTC riders are not Toronto taxpayers.
  • Montreal transit gets 10% of it’s operating budget from the provincial government.
  • Ottawa receives 9% of it’s funding from the Ontario government.
  • Brampton, Durham, Oakville, St. Catherines, Thunder Bay, Wasaga Beach, Waterloo all receive millions of dollars for their transit, why not Toronto?
  • Contact Bob Chiarelli, the Minister of Transportation

With an ad like that you would get people’s attention, and provide them with a source of action. Someone to contact to complain.  At the very least Toronto should have a fare system which includes zones so all riders pay their fair share regardless of whether or not it is through fares or taxes.


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TTC sells off naming rights cheaply

Thursday, July 7th, 2011

The CBC reported that the TTC has sold the advertising rights, including the naming rights for the subway stations to Pattison advertising for 324 million dollars for the next 12 years.

This reflects very poor judgement on the part of the TTC who have grossly undervalued the advertising properties of our transit system.  The TTC itself reports it’s ridership to be approaching 500 million per year.

With the $324 million being divided over the next 12 years that averages to only $27 million per year. This means Pattison advertising is only paying about $0.06 per rider/per year to bombard a captive audience with ads. Google can’t even beat that rate!

To put this into a little perspective; the operating budget for the TTC is 1.4 billion a year. Twenty seven million dollars is a drop in the bucket and means the advertising sales will contribute less than 2% of the over-all operating budget not including the expenses they incur.

The naming of stations by corporations not withstanding, this would suggest either very poor judgement or some form of corruption.


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Love Songs

Monday, July 4th, 2011

Choosing a song to dance to at your wedding is hard. Here is what I got so far.

Bright Eyes – “First Day of My Life”

Jack Johnson – “Better Together”

Joe Cocker - “You are so beautiful”

Ray LaMontagne - “You Are The Best Thing”


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