Moving to WordPress

This site has been on Moveable Type since 2008 or so, which in Internet terms is abazillion years. Unfortunately MT has a bloaty hard drive swallowing database that has clocked up over 800mb, so it’s getting the boot in favour of WordPress which gives me far more control over what I can do.

For the moment the template is going to be the default, until I get around to fixing up a custom dealio.

Still trying to figure out how to move over pages and some of the image settings. I’ve got broken galleries to fix as well, I may just leave old posts busted up. We’ll see…

Better late then never

In June of 2011 ( just shy of five months ago ) I saw a clip of Krista Erickson interviewing Margie Gillis – this is a clip of what aired on the newly launched Canadian Sun TV Network ( Fox News North as it’s sometimes called ). You can see the clip here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LrUfKrQpQbg

I don’t watch Sun TV – in fact I no longer watch anything on cable, I only watch shows I like via Netflix and the like. I abandoned cable TV because I hated commercials, I hated the amount of time in my life it sucked up, and more or less was bored to tears with the programming. I get my news online, so I don’t miss cable TV at all and I’m probably more informed now than I have ever been trying to get news and information off of the television. I abandoned cable because of stations like Sun TV.

So I did not watch the original on ‘TV’, I watched the digital version on YouTube – and after watching it I sent a complaint to the CBSC ( Canadian Broadcasting Standards Council ) about the whole thing.

Here is what I sent, way back at the start of June:

I just finished watching the Krista Erickson interview of Margie
Gillis as an online version of the original interview on June 01, 2010.
It was my understanding that Canadian Broadcasters were to act with a
minimum level of decorum and decency towards their guests.

This was disgusting. This was not an interview, this was a steady and
constant attack on a guest under the thin guise of being a tax spending
watchdog. It was sick. It was wrong. It should never happen again on
Canadian television.

Facts were twisted and distorted to the point where they were pushing
lies. They were not full-out-right-lies but they certainly bent the
spirit of honesty in journalism that is part of Canadian media
legislation.

Very sad. Very pathetic show.

Here is the response that the CBSC sent me today, which I think is fully reasonable. Hopefully they levy an appropriate punishment as they see fit, whether I find that punishment suitable or not remains to be seen, but it is interesting that they are so swamped with complaints about this issue that they have had to change policy on the complaints process. That makes me happy, that Canadians are standing up and saying there are limits to what we will tolerate – a rarity in a nation that passively tolerates just about everything.



Thank you very much for sending your email to the CBSC regarding the Krista Erickson interview with Margie Gillis on an episode of Canada Live.  The CBSC appreciates your use of its public process for dealing with concerns about that television broadcast.
 
It is the customary practice of the CBSC to send an individually oriented response to every single person who takes the trouble to send us such a complaint.  In this case, though, the volume of complaints has made such personalized responses impossible.  Hence this more impersonal response to all those who filed complaints re the Margie Gillis interview.
 
In any event, the CBSC will deal with the substance of the broadcast via the Councils normal process and a decision will be released publicly in due course.
_________________
 
Let us add a few clarifying and useful bits of information re the CBSC and its process.
 
1.  The CBSC’s complaint resolution process normally begins with a dialogue between the complainant and the broadcaster. The Council initially forwards all complaints it receives to its broadcaster member who then responds directly to the complainant, copying the CBSC on their response.  Over time, the results of this process have been extremely positive; moreover, they are quantifiable.  Consider that over 75% of complaints are customarily resolved through this dialogue which requires that broadcasters consider their programming choices in light of the standards which they, as CBSC members, have agreed to respect.
 
In the present case, because of the overwhelming number of complaints, not only is the CBSC not replying individually (as mentioned above), it is not asking the broadcaster to do so either.
 
2.  Once again, in general but not in the present case, it is only where differences cannot be resolved through this dialogue that the CBSC’s “dispute resolution mechanism”, i.e. a Panel adjudication, is triggered. At this point, the Panel decides whether or not the broadcast itself has breached one of the Codes administered by the CBSC.  In the case of the Margie Gillis interview, the CBSC will render a decision, even in the absence of the broadcaster-complainant dialogue.
 
3.  Regardless of how many different complaints we receive about an individual broadcast, a single decision is taken based on the actual content of that broadcast. Nor is that decision influenced by the number of complaints received.  In fact, the CBSC requires only a single complaint to trigger its complaint resolution process.
 
4.  We should also tell you that the CBSC cannot deal with online content.  The Codes that the CBSC administers apply only to content broadcast on traditional radio and television, so we cannot deal with complaints about clips found on YouTube, Facebook or similar media-sharing sites.
 
5.  It is also the case that the CBSC limits the complaints with which it deals to those that are made by persons who have actually seen the broadcast.  In this case, though, it appears that some complainants did not see the Krista Erickson interview with Margie Gillis on an episode of Canada Live themselves; they may have, understandably, based their complaints on the circulating social media reports concerning the interview in question.  While that would normally have affected those complaints, in this case the CBSC will be bringing this broadcast to a Panel adjudication in any case.
 
6.  Finally, some complainants have requested that the station that broadcast the Krista Erickson interview be removed from their basic cable package. Cable bundling does not come within the purview of the CBSC’s mandate, nor do we deal with cable or satellite TV companies. We deal exclusively with the content broadcast by our member stations.
 
Please note that all of the CBSC Panel Decisions are public and are posted on the CBSCs website for your information. You are welcome to visit our website at <www.cbsc.ca> at any time to view our most recent decisions.
 
Sincerely,
 
Mrs. Solange Courteau
Communications Coordinator
Canadian Broadcast Standards Council

The CBSC is a national voluntary self-regulatory organization created by Canada’s private broadcasters to deal with complaints made by viewers or listeners about programs which they have seen or heard broadcast on a member station.  The CBSC administers seven industry codes covering various issues relating to ethics, violence on television, equitable portrayal, journalistic ethics and cross-media ownership, which set out the guidelines for television and radio programming. For more information on the mandate of the CBSC and the codes it administers, visit our website at www.cbsc.ca.

It’s a disaster, it’s Skywalker we’re after…

Earlier in the month I removed an old aluminum shed and
foundation from the corner of my yard. The shed was up against the house
and the property line, and dug partly into a slope from my yard to my
neighbours yard. There will be a new shed going in, further out from the
property line and house, but that left a big gaping hole. So I filled
it with loam ( only 4 cubic yards, not much… ) and made a bit of a hill. This was done on advice from no less then five people, all whom pointed out that having the corner of our house foundation exposed was probably a bad thing.

A bit of a short, steep hill was put in place that wrapped around the exposed foundation bits, and a grade was pulled back from the foundation into the yard proper. Unfortunately the grade where the shed used to live was a bit steep out of necessity. It’s not steep enough for a retaining wall, and it’s just a bit too steep to leave alone for long.

Then the rain came, hard and heavy, and overflowed the eaves trough
and sent a deluge of water into the freshly compacted loam, promptly
washing some of it into the neighbours formal and tidy garden space. Our neighbour likes things in her life clean, so this was a disaster. I got all hyper stressed out about it and raged a bit, mostly because I hate being a bad neighbour. I’m already the weird guy on the block who doesn’t cut his lawn and is turning his back yard into a vegetable patch… last thing I want to add into the mix is being the guy routinely washing a couple kilograms of soil into the yards down hill from me.

So began the quest for ways to prevent erosion on really small but unfortunately steep slopes in the shade. In the end I went with a burlap/jute ground cover staked in with bamboo stakes instead of metal. Mainly I want everything to eventually biodegrade, since once plants establish some roots in there the hill isn’t steep enough or long enough to worry about anything going awry. I did double layers and added hand-made berms of soil/compost/peat moss to break any water that decides to flood down the area again. ( I tested with a hose, it works like a charm ).

I’m turning it into a shade garden, slightly terraced by the berms. I’ve tossed a bunch of random perennial seeds I collected last autumn, I think they are some form of phlox, but they may be something else. I also spread some annual seeds around the area, some sort of random wild-flower mix I had sitting around the house. For a more permanent and immediate solution to holding the soil I’ve planted 3 golden leaf creeping jenny, and 3 regular creeping jenny. I’m familiar with them, they are pretty tough plants and take the shade decently. They also form a nice dense mat of green once established, so next year it should fill in really well.

While I was at Golden Acres Garden Senter ( their spelling, not mine! ) the helpful staff pointed out some fiddle-head ferns that were on stupid sale ( because it’s way past time to plant them ). So, being daring and a sucker for a deal, and always questing for plants to add into the yard that I can eat, I bought six. I think I will go back and get another half dozen or so for under the lilacs along the side of the house. The lady in the perennials section of the greenhouse said that the ferns form hefty root systems and make a good erosion control. Plus, fiddle-head greens in the spring! So I’m going to put in a big patch of them, and hope that I can get some tasty stuff out of that part of the yard, which is largely useless for veggies anyhow.

Garden Slope Shots
Garden Slope Shots
Garden Slope Shots
Garden Slope Shots
Garden Slope Shots

Dental Floss Review – Johnson & Johnson Mint Waxed Floss

A really mild, almost missing, flavour built on top of a typical stringy waxed floss did little to impress me or my gums. There was a bit of shredding between some of my really tight teeth, but the floss did grab bits in the teeth fairly well. It was like most floss, easy to use, though I found that it didn’t wrap and un-wrap around my fingers as nice as some other floss. The wax tended to bind so I couldn’t get my super fly flossing technique to perfection. Bleed factor was typical, which is to say minimal.

Ratings:

Flavour: 3/10
Texture: 4/10
Shred Resistance: 5/10
Cleaning Effectiveness: 6/10
Ease of Use: 5/10
The Bleed Factor: 7/10

This concludes my pointless review of dental flosses.

Dental Floss Review – Oral B Satin Floss – Mint

This is one of those ribbon style flosses, and it’s insanely strong. I could probably hold together a small airplane with it. Flavour wise it was a mild mint, which was all right. Texture wise it felt really smooth between the teeth, and it certainly resisted shredding ( or cutting ) as it was coming out of the packaging and my tooth crevasses. Unfortunately it’s a bit slick, so it doesn’t do a very good job grabbing food particles between the teeth. I ended up having to do some finger gymnastics to get the floss angled to pull out bits in the molars. Since I had to double floss a number of areas it’s less easy to use, though it did wrap around the fingers and stay in place quite nicely. Bleed factor nominal, about average for flossing.

Ratings:

Flavour: 5/10
Texture: 5/10
Shred Resistance: 9/10
Cleaning Effectiveness: 3/10
Ease of Use: 3/10
The Bleed Factor: 7/10

Dental Floss Review – Johnson & Johnson Reach Total Care Easy Sliding Dental Floss

This floss takes the win for longest name and most branding shoved on a package in the bunch, the marketing team must have felt more words would make the floss better. It doesn’t. The package also commits a design sin, having 5 fonts on it.

Remember those old wax candies filled with sugar water? This floss tastes like a slightly minty version of the wax. Texture wise it is elasticized, and sort of waxed, so it feels like a waxy elastic band sliding between your teeth. I found it quite unpleasant, but it was very shred resistant. It was also really good at grabbing bits in the teeth, maybe because it’s elastic in nature? Ease of use was normal, and the bleed factor was low.

Just because of the texture and taste I won’t be using this floss again.

Ratings:

Flavour: 1/10
Texture: 3/10
Shred Resistance: 8/10
Cleaning Effectiveness: 6/10
Ease of Use: 5/10
The Bleed Factor: 8/10

Dental Floss Review – Colgate Total Dental Floss – Mint

This floss is weak sauce.

It barely has any flavour at all, which normally I don’t care about but if you are going to make a floss and flavour it mint it should at least taste minty. Perhaps the remnants of fajitas and chipotle sauce made the mint hard to taste… Texture wise it is like standard floss, but a little thicker and fairly smooth, perhaps half way between a waxed floss and un-waxed floss. Shed resistance was pathetic, just pulling it out of the tester pack started shredding the stuff. Cleaning wise it did a fairly normal job, nothing to get excited about. It was easy to use, though it did tend to stick in the more shred-prone areas of the teeth. Bleed factor was good, it didn’t lacerate my gums.

Over all I’d say meh, with a side of hand wobble.

Ratings:

Flavour: 2/10
Texture: 5/10
Shred Resistance: 2/10
Cleaning Effectiveness: 6/10
Ease of Use: 5/10
The Bleed Factor: 8/10

Dental Floss Review – Crest Glide Deep Clean

I’ve been having all sorts of issues with my dental floss lately. Normally I use what ever generic floss is on sale at the drug store, but recent fillings are causing shredding of my cheap-whatever-brand floss. At one point the floss bunched up and wedged between my teeth, a most unpleasant experience.

My dentist ( tell them Marcus Riedner sent you and I get a coupon! ) has kindly given me a pile of different floss samples ranging from unwaxed floss to ribbons floss to these serious looking dental picks. So I’ve decided to review them for; flavour, texture, shred resistance, effectiveness at tooth cleaning, ease of use, and ‘the bleed factor’. I’ll be using one a day during the week ( Monday to Friday ) at lunch to see how they stand up against each other.

First floss I’m trying is Crest Glide Deep Clean, it’s more of a ribbon floss with a really silky wax coating. This one has a strong minty flavour ( “cool mint” ) which is pleasant if you’re into that sort of thing. Texture wise it is very smooth, like waxy ribbon. I found that it slid between the teeth easily, even the really tight ones with new fillings that have been bothering me lately. The floss is highly shred resistant, I tried dragging it along the points of my incisors and it held up perfectly. Unfortunately it did not seem to be as grabby when it came to food particles, so I ended up having to jimmy it about a bit more, making it harder to use. In terms of ‘the bleed factor’ hardly a drip, though around my really sensitive teeth there was a bit.

Over all I like it much better then the generic floss I have been using.

Ratings:

Flavour: 7/10
Texture: 7/10
Shred Resistance: 9/10
Cleaning Effectiveness: 4/10
Ease of Use: 5/10
The Bleed Factor: 8/10

Water commodification

Good Morning to the Honourable Rob Renner and Honourable Alana Delong,
This is an open letter to the Environmental Minister of Alberta, the Honourable Rob Renner, and my current elected representative the Honourable Alana DeLong.
A while back I wrote to you about commodification of water, and my concerns about ongoing rumours about Alberta becoming one of the first provinces to move towards a water market or commodification system. Replies I have received from that message indicated that there was no intention to commodify Alberta’s water, and that our water was going to remain as part of the government protected commons. On the Alberta Government website it says the following about water:
“Water is not only a resource, it is a life source. We all share the responsibility to ensure a healthy, secure and sustainable water supply for our communities, environment and economy – our quality of life depends on it.” ( http://environment.alberta.ca/01157.html )
Bold words from our government, that have been reiterated to me by various political figures. So I am a little surprised to have an article in Reuters, half press release, from Geneva talking about the Government of Alberta and corporate figures in discussion about a water exchange in Alberta that would, more or less, commodify our water, thus removing it from the commons. Here’s a quote from the article:
“We are actively dealing with the government of Alberta to think about a water exchange…” – Peter Brabeck, Nestle Group ( http://af.reuters.com/article/idAFLDE74917X20110510?sp=true )
That seems like a pretty clear indication that there is at least some discussion about commodification of our water. Given that water is fundamental to the survival of any living being, plant, and system I am deeply concerned about talks in Alberta about changing our water  into a commodity. This has proved disastrous in countries like India where corporations have taken away traditional water sources leaving the poor without any drinking and agricultural water, and in countries like Bolivia where water commodification  ( even -RAIN- was commodified! ) allowed Bechtel to force people to choose between water and food ( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bechtel#Bolivia ). Under the UN Charter of Human RIghts water is a protected right of all human beings, I know it is not part of the Canadian Bill of Rights as of yet, but honestly, you’re dead in 3 days without it.
If commodification did not work to help the citizenry in Bolivia or India, why would it suddenly work here in Canada? My guess is it won’t, even though we can make a hefty profit exporting our water to the rest of the world much like we do with our oil. We sell our crude oil resources to the US and other nations, who then sell us back refined petroleum at an inflated price. I suppose it helps balance our ‘trade deficits’ but in the end it’s bad for the Canadian consumer, I pay for this at the pump where glib stickers tell me that a whopping $0.15 of the $1.20+ I pay is going to taxes, and that the oil industry and their record profit levels are operation on such a tight margin. Just imagine how this is going to work when I start paying 50-100% more for my water, I’m sure that glib sticker will be telling me that it’s taxes all the way down. That idea doesn’t fill me with excitement.
Just doing a quick search on ‘Water market alberta’ on Google has given me tens of thousands of articles in the news about Alberta slowly and steadily moving towards full water markets and commodification. ( http://tinyurl.com/3zue5kw )
Why? Why is this happening, and why have I been told in the past that our regulations are ‘stringent’ and ‘some of the best in the world’ and that water is a resource of great importance to Albertans? With all due respect, I don’t like being told half truths and in some cases outright lies by people who are accountable to the electorate. What I’d like to know is what is honestly going on up there in Edmonton, because it sure doesn’t seem to be in my best interests. I don’t want our water commodified. I don’t want a water market in Alberta. I don’t want our water being parcelled off and sold to corporations. Period.
Regards,
Marcus Riedner

Carrots, Onions, and Peas… oh my.

Dirt caked fingers, soil smudge into my palms

Stray bits of wood in finger loosened soil
Onions and carrots yesterday
Peas, radishes, spinach today
Tomorrow,
Rain.
Crocus peek out from the corners,
Stand tall in the lawn,
Marking the graves of dandelion tap roots.
Purple, cream, bright golden yellow,
Strays.
Oh bounty, come grace my garden,
That hides from snow and wind.
Oh God, help feed my family,
With gifts from your creation.
Not ownership,
Stewardship.