Thursday, July 11, 2019

Foot petting

In New York, restaurants have publicly posted health ratings

We don’t take speeding seriously in Canada

I’m currently a member of a traffic safety committee in my neighbourhood. I joined this committee because I want to help make our streets safer. Since I joined the group, the committee has received dozens of complaints suggesting that speeding is a big problem and that the neighbourhood’s streets are not safe for our children to play in, or to cross the street. Even at lighted, controlled crosswalks, crossing is a hazardous activity.

The city of Calgary is currently debating whether to reduce the residential speed limit from 50 km/h to 30 km/h, in particular for streets that are not considered thoroughfares. As a result of these discussions however, the City’s traffic engineering staff seem to be washing their hands of any changes to address speeding concerns until after council make their decision one way or the other. The attitude isn’t that great either. The argument I’m always faced with when speaking about traffic safety to those in charge of it, is if there haven’t been any incidents, there isn’t a problem. What I don’t think they realize, is that incidents have likely been avoided up until now partly as a result of good luck, and mostly as a result of families not being comfortable using streets the way the residents would prefer to use them. In my experience, there may not have been many incidents, but there certainly have been a lot of close calls.

I don’t particularly feel we’re going to accomplish anything by reducing speed limits in our city, because if speeding is already an issue, lowering the speed limit won’t solve the problem. There is only one thing that can reduce speeding on our roads and that’s enforcement. But as we all know, with the exception of strategically placed (and quite obvious) photo radar camera vehicles and intersections, enforcement is practically non-existent.

In the UK, they generally have two types of permanent speed enforcement using cameras. One type, commonly found in towns and cities in areas where speeding is an issue or safety is a concern (such as school zones), cameras are permanently installed and are triggered any time a speeding vehicle passes by. There are always signs warning that they are approaching a speed zone camera. The other type are found on the overpasses of motorways (highways). Most motorway cameras don’t record your speed, they record when you pass the camera. Cameras further down the road also record when you pass and a computer automatically calculates your average speed between those points. If your calculated average speed is above the speed limit, you get a ticket. Motorways can also have variable speed limits, so the calculation takes the temporarily reduced speed into account as well. There are 2,838 cameras in the UK. To be honest, the backlash against them is strong.

The UK also have something called Community Speed Watch. Volunteers in their own community spend some time each week monitoring speeds and noting license plates. Those identified as speeding are sent a warning letter and the police will take further action if the same vehicle is identified as speeding 3 times. Community Speed Watch is only permitted for speed limits of 40 mph (64 km/h) or below. Junior Speed Watch works in a similar way but involves school children.

In France, there are hundreds of unmarked police cars equipped with radar that can measure and record another vehicle’s speed while they roam around the roads and streets. So you never know when or where you might get caught.

France is implementing very sophisticated speed cameras that are capable of seeing across eight lanes of traffic, and can monitor several vehicles at once. The cameras have the ability to take note of drivers or passengers who are not wearing seat belts, and detect drivers who are using their mobile phone on the road. They can also detect and record illegal passing, and dangerous driving practices such as tailgating, running a red light, and driving in a prohibited lane or area.

In Germany, they have speed cameras as well, and you do get a fine for being caught speeding. But the fine for not leaving the proper distance to the vehicle in front of you is even higher. In other words, you can get a big fine for tailgating on highways.

In Canada, I know that people in general have an attitude toward photo radar cameras that they are just a money generating device for police services. But I really do believe that speed limits in playground and school zones need to be enforced full time, and the only way I can see this being accomplished is with permanent speed cameras. I would like to see the Community Speed Watch concept tried here as well. That way, residents who perceive that speeding is a problem in their neighbourhood can monitor speed, note plate numbers and report them to police. Let the police deal with these drivers when 3 or more complaints have been registered against them.

Tech review of the human body

+Liquid cooled
+Built-in face ID
+Highly entertaining
+Self-healing skin
+Gets better the more you use it

-Long recharge times
-You must put a case on it
-Leaks a lot
-Not intuitive
-No find my human feature

Small things 11 Jul

  • I'm guessing being told you kick like a girl is no longer a sexist insult........ (women's soccer)
  • If social media are biased against Trump and other Conservatives, how does Trump succeed in tweeting all those hateful insults and lies? How do foreign players succeed in getting political and socio-economic propaganda sold on Facebook as advertising or fake news?
  • Imagine if Spotify could only stream music from one label or music company. If you wanted music from another label, you had to buy a subscription from Tidal, or Apple, or Google Play, or Amazon. If you wanted all music, you had to subscribe to everything. Well, that's exactly where streaming TV and movies is going. It's not going to work. Dear Disney and HBO: Your stuff isn't so great that I'm going to spend another $10+ dollars per month to watch your stuff. Each. That's a cable bill. Also, kiss your Blu-Ray and movie ticket sales goodbye.
  • The only reason (probably) that Americans are interested in going back to the moon is that the American flags planted there are disintegrating.
  • There are really only 3 ways to fail: when you quit, don't improve, or never try.
  • Compare yourself only to who you were yesterday, not to anyone else.
  • We spend our lives online trying to convince another machine that we're not a machine ("I'm not a robot")(captcha).
  • Some folks decry when 'elites' are elected to government, but there is no longer a common definition of what an 'elite' actually is.

Aussie deal

Canadian mobile providers say the reason our prices are so high is because of how spread out we are in Canada.

OK, so how does Australia do it?

Things I learned lately 11 Jul

  • More than 3 million seniors in the US are still paying off their student loans.
  • Nearly 50% of millennials who have or had student-loan debt think college wasn't worthwhile.
  • Average temperatures for most of France, Germany, and northern Spain during the June 2019 heat wave were up to 18 degrees Fahrenheit (10 degrees Celsius) above normal, hotter than any other June in recorded weather history.
  • A family court judge in New Jersey showed leniency toward a teen aged male who raped a drunken female party-goer in the basement and filmed the assault. He then shared the video with friends, including a caption, "When your first time having sex was rape." The judge noted that the boy came from a good family, attended an excellent school, thrived academically, and served as an Eagle scout. He expressed concern over why the prosecutor hadn't explained to Mary, who is using a pseudonym to protect her identity, and her mother how pressing charges against the teen's attacker could ruin his life.
  • A man pulled over in Las Vegas for driving in the HOV lane used the excuse, "I have a body ion the back", referring to the dead body being driven to a funeral home.
  • Tesla sold 67,650 Model 3 electric cars in the US through in the first half of 2019.
  • Halle Berry, while still a struggling actress, often slept in a homeless shelter.
  • Bees make 'bee bread', which is an edible form of pollen made of a mixture of pollen and honey.
  • An area as big as the US would need new trees planted right now to hope to offset climate change.

Friday, July 05, 2019

It looks like the ocean but it's a plastic bag

Recycling blues

I thought that recycling was going to be one more step toward the idyllic goal of sustainability. But now we seem to be faltering on that step.

As far as I know, most of the paper, cardboard and beverage containers we throw in the recycle bin every week is being used to either make new paper, cardboard and beverage containers, or something else that is useful. The last I heard, there was an issue with coloured glass, something to do with its colour making it less valuable on the recycling market, but the clear stuff was also being re-purposed.

Plastic, on the other hand, doesn't seem to be faring well in the recycling process. I had been throwing out every type of plastic that had one of those recycle triangles on it. I have gotten notices from the City that I'm throwing out some plastics that aren't allowed. So I took a look at their guide.

Any plastic with the triangle symbol 1 to 7. But then you look at the fine print - only if it's a container. Coffee cup lids? Nope. Foam takeout containers? No. Coffee pods? Not according to their list. Plastic wrappings that rip? No. The only kind of bag allowed are stretchy grocery bags, which can't be thrown loose. They have to be bundled and tied up in another bag (it's about the sorting machine). No plastic cutlery. No yogurt or toothpaste tubes.

It really is a conundrum. On the one hand we're being asked to minimize what we're sending to the landfill, but at the same time there are a lot of things that can't be recycled. I have also read that our city is having a lot of trouble finding buyers for our recyclable waste. We don't seem to have any local entrepreneurial companies able to turn our leftover plastic into other items.

So what's the solution? I for one have been hoping that governments, in light of the fact that it's getting harder to dispose of many types of plastics, especially ones that have been in contact with food, would ban oil based plastics for food containers and switch us to biodegradable and/or compostable containers. At least then they could get put in the compost bin.

Unfortunately, although some vendors have already switched to food containers that biodegrade, out composting facilities didn't think it was important to be ready for the longer degrading time these containers need. Currently, the food containers they are getting are being diverted to the landfill even though they are biodegradable.

A company in Germany, Kaffeeform, is making reusable cups partly out of coffee grounds. They're biodegradable too.

Little Einsteins Dance

This father and son dance routine is adorable.

Small things 5 Jul

  • Crows have been documented holding 'funerals' for years, but researchers now suggest that they not be 'mourning', they may be examining the body and surrounding area for potential threats to the rest. So, it's more an autopsy and criminal investigation. You might even call it a 'murder' investigation......
  • Q. I'm two months pregnant. When can I expect my baby to move? A. With any luck, right after they finish college.
  • I'm thinking about trying out minimalism. It's the least I could do.....
  • Never stick a cotton swab too far into your ear. You might reset yourself to default factory settings.
  • Do a Google image search on "human face dog muzzle". I didn't even know they were a thing. Also, try and unsee those pictures afterwards................
  • Irish guacamole, or as we like to call it - mashed potatoes.
  • Plesz PSA: The left lane is for passing. It is not for cruising at the limit, slightly above the limit, or more than slightly above the limit. It is for passing. That is all.
  • Whatever you do, don't print out a bunch of Google photos of positive pregnancy tests and tuck them under random windshield wipers in a parking lot, with notes that say "We need to talk...". That's just cruel.
  • When you get up to go to the bathroom in the middle of the night, do you try not to wake up too much so you'll fall back asleep right away?
  • People who say "No tattoos thanks, my body is a temple." have obviously never been inside a temple.

What's in an impossible burger?

Here's the ingredient list:

Water, Soy Protein Concentrate, Coconut Oil, Sunflower Oil, Natural Flavors, 2% or less of: Potato Protein, Methylcellulose, Yeast Extract, Cultured Dextrose, Food Starch Modified, Soy Leghemoglobin, Salt, Soy Protein Isolate, Mixed Tocopherols (Vitamin E), Zinc Gluconate, Thiamine Hydrochloride (Vitamin B1), Sodium Ascorbate (Vitamin C), Niacin, Pyridoxine Hydrochloride (Vitamin B6), Riboflavin (Vitamin B2), Vitamin B12.

Hoverboard with seat attachment

Saw this in the mall the other day. I wasn't sure if the girl was handicapped in any way, but I don't think she was.

It's basically one of those hover-boards with an attachment that lets you sit in it rather than stand on it. You accelerate and steer with the handles.

Things I learned lately 5 Jul

  • The graham cracker was invented by the Presbyterian minister Sylvester Graham, who felt that a vegetarian diet would help suppress carnal urges. 
  • As of January 1, 2021, Canadians (and residents from 60 other countries) will no longer be able to visit Europe on a whim. They'll have to apply for the European Travel Information and Authorization System (ETIAS) first, a new system being enforced to upgrade international security. Visits to the UK will remain exempt.
  • A designer in Britain figured out how to recycle chewing gum into plastic products. Kinda puts a whole new slant on the word gumboots.
  • Bernie Sanders wants Wall St to pay off the entire student debt load of the US.
  • Abigail Disney, the heiress to the family fortune, said "[Income inequality] is the game changer that we're living in right now. We're creating a super-class so far above the vast majority of people that they don't share the same planet anymore. We've eroded all the paths to the American dream that my grandfather and great uncle took."
  • A giant pile of chicken manure in Spain did spontaneously combust in the latest Europe heat wave and set fire to nearby forests.
  • The recent European heat wave broke a temperature record for France. The temperature hit 45.1C (113.1F) in Villevieille on 27 June 2019.