I’m not a developer. I just get to play one at work.

I’ve never had the time, and when I’ve had the time I’ve never had the money, to sit down and properly learn pretty much anything that would qualify as the criteria you’d use to call yourself a developer. Learning code has always been one of those “I’ll get to it when I have free time” type deals that, well, never ended up materializing because I never ended up having free time. Welp, I still don’t have much in the way of free time, but now I can at least mess with some of the tools the code junkies make regular use of.

We’re doing a pretty significant reorg of some of our internal processes, and that includes some of our internal training–well, most of it, really. And since I’m part of that project, I immediately glommed on to what you might call a bit of a tangle. It’s no secret I work for the WordPress people, so it should be no surprise that much of our documentation happens in a thing based on WordPress. Good idea, except for the parts that aren’t.

I’m a fan of letting the things that are good at doing stuff do that stuff. WordPress is an amazing communication tool. But projects and issues aren’t a thing it can do. GitHub, on the other hand, pretty much makes that its bread and butter. So where a primary use might be for, say, developing a WordPress plugin, we’re co-opting parts of it for our own undesirable uses. Project tracking and routine maintenance.

This means I get to play around with automation and try to see what I can break in the span of a week. And, since my coworkers have a bunch of premade automations I can probably punk to fill a hole, and since my very first college Linux prof’s rule number 2 (*) was “work smarter, not harder”, I figure that’ll get me started while I wrap my head around YML–has it really been 10 years since I touched YML? Jesus. I said I like a challenge, but I really need to do better with picking them.

Sure, what I’m going with is probably overkill for what problem I’m trying to solve. But, the problem will be solved, and if 3 more come up I’ll probably have the equipment left over. If absolutely nothing else, I get to pretend like I’m an actual developer for a while. And, I mean, that can almost never go wrong. Except when it does. But it’s not like I’m pretending to develop a Twitter client for blind people (**).

(*): My prof’s rule number 1 was “read all the words”. To this day I’m surprised how many people… didn’t–we lost marks for that. Yes, even on the final exam. Especially on the final exam.

(**): We technically just renamed a couple of variables and maybe added a few shortcuts that didn’t exist previously, but for the most part it was basically just a repackaged/repurposed version of an actual Twitter client for blind people. And we mostly did it because we thought we were hot shit. God I wish someone had slapped me. We were many things. Mostly immature. Definitely not developers.

Employment is not the answer to the ODSP problem. Neither is a basic income.

I have a lot to say on the Ford government, and have had all kinds of time to say it so no need to start now, but one thing they have in common with the government they replaced is a focus on finding employment for people who can’t, or shouldn’t, be employed. It was a bad idea in 2012, and is a terrible idea in the middle of a pandemic in 2022. But removing the pandemic from the equation, the government’s implementation absolutely bites.

We are concerned that the public is not sufficiently aware of what has been happening with regard to the Ontario government’s Poverty Reduction Strategy launched over a year ago. An American “consortium”, FedCap, has been hired to replace the services previously offered by Employment Ontario in 12 regions of Ontario. This change began as a pilot in Peel, Hamilton — Niagara and Muskoka-Kawarthas in October 2020 and was expanded to nine more regions in June 2021. Part of this organization’s mandate is to help people receiving benefits from the Ontario Disability Support Program and Ontario Works find employment. The problem is – this organization does not have a good track record, and advocates for people with disabilities are sounding the alarm.

The focus of the Poverty Reduction Strategy is to increase the number of people moving from social assistance to employment. On the surface this may seem like a positive goal – but we are talking about many people who have been medically declared unable to work because of a disability. FedCap may be able to find a short-term job for some people with disabilities, but when the measure of success is simply the number of people placed in jobs, the incentive for this organization is to ignore the reality that many of these job placements are for very short-term work that will leave the recipient returning to social assistance again and again. And it is likely that people will be pressured to accept employment for which they are very unsuited.

Not very encouraging. I mean, the Wynne Liberals and Horwath NDP were trying to screw over the disabled, sure, but they kept it in-house at least. Not Ford. On top of that, this government’s kind of gone back to its old habits again–assuming, perhaps naïvely, that they temporarily gave them up at some point.

It also appears that the government has determined that this model works before it has even been tested. The pilot, run in the three districts of Peel, Hamilton-Niagara and Muskoka Kawarthas was not completed or evaluated before the same model was rolled out in nine additional regions.

This model is similar to a failed program tried over two decades in Australia called Jobactive. A 2019 report to the Australian Senate entitled “Jobactive: Failing Those it is Intended to Serve”, made 41 recommendations including several that recipients of the services should be included and consulted in the planning process. Stakeholder consultation has not occurred in Ontario. Those who will rely on this program have not had an opportunity to comment or critique the changes to these services.Historically, we know that privatization in Ontario has not gone well. Think of the privatization of highway maintenance services, highway 407 itself and long-term care facilities. These things have not saved money in the long run and have resulted in inferior service delivery.

So in 2018, they didn’t wait for a basic income pilot to complete before they killed it. And in 2022, they’re not waiting for an employment services pilot to complete before they decide this is what we’re running with. In both cases, they decided they had all the data they needed–and in both cases, that’s code for they weren’t planning to do anything differently to begin with.

Now, here’s the thing. I’m not saying “basic income bad”. Not at all. In fact, financially, I get it. But 1: That’s not the solution to the problem being described here, and 2: the authors spend absolutely 0 seconds telling me why they think it is. In fact, the article’s headline talks about a basic income, but most of the article is about ODSP. And I agree with most of the article. But:

Social services should be provided by the government with the goal of providing services to those in need while maintaining dignity. The title “Poverty Reduction Strategy” sounds good. However, there is a much better doable, affordable solution to virtually eliminate poverty and to facilitate people being able to live in dignity in Ontario and Canada. It is a Basic Income Guarantee. Many studies have demonstrated that when people receive a Basic Income Guarantee they do not stop working or looking for work. In fact, in many cases, recipients use the benefit to upgrade their skills or education so that they can find better employment and improve their quality of life.

Okay, but why? We were talking about people who’s disabilities prevent them from working. A basic income is not going to suddenly make their disabilities stop preventing them from working. It’s going to give a lot more people a disincentive to work. I know if I still kept my old job–the job I had when I wrote the post I linked to above, depending on how much the basic income was I’d have happily given my notice in 2020. I mean, give me the same money I’m making while employed but don’t require I be employed? Easy. And if there’s not a pandemic at play, that’s vacation time for me. Win win–in that I win twice.

I agree with raising the ODSP rates. $1169 if your single may have been fine in 1999. It’s not 1999 anymore. But leave the increases for people on ODSP.

ODSP is for people who *can’t* work. Ontario Works is for people who *can*, but *aren’t*. They should be treated accordingly. This article makes the mistake way too many people, including people in government, make–lumping the Ontario disability Support Program (it’s for people with disabilities) in with the Ontario works program (basically welfare). Not helpful at all is people with disabilities are encouraged to apply for Ontario Works as a stepping stone to get on ODSP, thus further conflating the two. As a person with a disability, I’d rather have flipped burgers than spent any time on ODSP whatsoever. As a person with my particular disability, they won’t allow me to flip burgers for insurance reasons (theirs, not mine). So ODSP it was. If you have the option of flipping burgers and choose instead to stay home, that’s not a problem the government should solve. If you’d love to have the option of flipping burgers but your mental or physical disability prevents you, that’s a problem the government should solve.

I agree with the problem as stated. I agree the government’s failing when it comes to solving that problem. I don’t agree with the proposed solution to that problem–and the article’s authors haven’t done anything here to change my mind. Like I’ve said before, I’m not opposed to the idea in theory. The financial argument against it is dead, at this point. But just because we can afford it doesn’t mean it’s a good idea. So tell me why it is. This… doesn’t. That’s an advocacy problem, not a me problem.

Coleen Cooper and Carol Stalker really want me to agree with them. Without a damn good reason, they’re not going to get what they want. I’m listening, ladies.

Ontario’s disability failure: wheelchairs.

I have… let’s call it second-hand experience with how Ontario handles wheelchair purchase and repairs. Not for me, but for someone I was–at the time–fairly close to (we’ve gone separate ways since and are both probably better for it). The TL; DR version is they don’t, at least not very well.

Sure, a pandemic probably doesn’t help the situation, but this predates Covid by a long shot.

It was 4 a.m. on Boxing Day and Shawn Brush was stuck.

He was trying to watch Christmas movies when his electric wheelchair broke again. This time, it froze in a tilted position. The 52-year-old Burlington, Ont., man was trapped.

“I couldn’t get in or out,” he said. “My phone was on my bed. I managed to get into the bedroom. I drove in backward, and was able to get halfway out of the chair and call the fire department.”

Brush has been waiting two years for a new chair, and cites a time-consuming bureaucratic process that slows down people who need assistive devices. He says he’s speaking out for others in his position.

“There’s all kinds of people going through this,” he said, and “there’s not one person I can blame.”

He’s right, and while I’d love to get pissed at ODSP for their part in it, the truth is they only have one part in it–and I have gotten pissed about it. Purchasing takes forever. Repairing takes forever. Getting assessed takes forever. And getting people to coordinate takes forever.

Assistive Devices Program (ADP), which helps people pay for wheelchairs and other devices.

He said he generally has to replace it every five years. By 2020, Brush said, it had broken down multiple times.

He also said he has had months-long waits for repairs.

For example, in 2018, it took him from May to October to get the front wheels of the electrical wheelchair replaced, so he was without it for much of that time and had to use alternatives, like a manual wheelchair.

ADP is a beast to deal with even for people who don’t need anything overly spectacular. I’m not a wheelchair user, in fact my only mobility aid you can’t exactly get through ADP, but you could not possibly pay me enough to go through one of their processes. That people in wheelchairs don’t have that option has got to be the leading cause of mental breakdowns.

ODSP isn’t entirely innocent in this, however. Repairs, like those above? ODSP pays for that. Eventually. How long eventually is, though, is anyone’s guess. In this poor shmuck’s case, eventually turned out to be 5 months. That’s 5 months where his independence was reduced because ODSP’s asleep at the switch. And places very often won’t even look at you if they don’t have approval from ODSP (one company will make exceptions, depending on the person doing the looking–at least in Ottawa), because they know ODSP can be for freaking ever, but not very often and you never know when you make the call. So you call the wheelchair place, you tell them what’s broken, they take a look and see how bad it is/if it’s going to require a thing be replaced, then you sit and wait while the wheelchair people and ODSP go back and forth.

Ontario likes to think of itself as friendly to the disabled–whether or not the current government’s in fact an ableist pile. The reality, though, is Ontario is a hot mess if you’re disabled. It’s manageable if either 1: you only have one disability or 2: your disability(ies) don’t end up being too incredibly inconvenient. But the farther along the disability spectrum you are, the harder Ontario fails. And most of it could be avoided if they’d just, you know… listen to disabled people.

Tracy Odell, president of Citizens With Disabilities Ontario, said she and others have dealt with long waits too. To get approval for new seating for her electric wheelchair, she needed a physiotherapist to agree it was needed.

“Most people in my position, we know what we need. You don’t need someone to tell you you’ve outgrown your shoe,” Odell said.

She waited about six months before getting authorization, but still hasn’t heard if they have the part needed to make the fix.

Stop failing, Ontario. You’re driving me to drink and you’re not even failing me–well, anymore.

In which Canada generally, and Ontario specifically, still sucks if you’re disabled.

It’s been a minute since I wrote one of these, and I hate that it needs to be in a pandemic context. But, you know, when that’s been what the world’s revolved around for two years, it sneaks in even when all you want to do is bitch about the government. It helps that the government makes it super easy–yeah, even during a pandemic.

Let’s start with the super, super easy. The federal government has a tax credit for people who happen to be disabled. Awesome, right? Sure, until you realize that the government has a very particular definition of what being disabled actually means, and that definition almost by design means the people who qualify essentially get lucky, the people who don’t are SOL twice, and the people who aren’t sure are essentially guessing–and so are their doctors.

Canadians with disabilities have to pay a physician or other qualified health professional to certify that they require “life-sustaining therapy” administered at least three times a week, for a total of at least 14 hours a week. Alternatively, doctors and nurses must attest that patients are “markedly restricted in performing a basic activity of daily living all or substantially all of the time, or that the cumulative effect of restrictions across several activities is equal to being markedly restricted in one basic activity of daily living,” write authors Stephanie Dunn and Jennifer Zwicker.

And that’s just for physical disabilities. If your disability is mental, good luck. For example, and full disclosure this is me, apparently just being considered blind is–or was–enough to qualify you for the disability tax credit. It used to be explicitly called out as qualifying, but they’ve apparently changed the criteria–and actually made it even more confusing, if that’s at all possible. If I didn’t already have it, I’d have a hell of a time now figuring out if I qualified. And so would my doctor, if I had one (that’s a rant for another day, and not specifically a disability one).

That works out nicely for the government, as the fewer people who qualify for the tax credit means the fewer people qualify to get an emergency benefit check in the super early stages of a global pandemic. It benefits the government in another way too, but only marginally–that’s fewer disabled folks the government needs to worry about supporting through things like the registered disability savings plan (RDSP) when they turn 65 and the provincial disability systems pretty much all kick them to the curb (I think there’s a countdown clock in most Ontario Disability Support program (ODSP) offices for that reason). In short, the feds have it pretty good when it comes to folks with disabilities. Folks with disabilities, though? Not so much.

Now, let’s drop down a level to the provincial government. Specifically, the provincial government of Ontario. This won’t end up being an ODSP post (Oh, I can probably get away with a few, but not this one), though ODSP does feature. Let’s start first with the most obvious–testing and vaccinations. If you’re disabled, you probably shouldn’t be standing for hours on end in the cold waiting your turn to get swabbed or jabbed. If your disabled in Ontario, you definitely are.

As Omicron continues to sweep through the province, with a soaring number of hospitalizations, local health units and Ontario’s Ministry of Health have called for people to get booster shots as quickly as possible. In December, the province also launched a campaign to hand out free COVID-19 rapid tests in order to curb the growing wave of infections.

Centres saw long lines of people eagerly waiting outside in the middle of winter to get their hands on a rapid test or a booster shot, which people with certain disabilities can’t safely do, says advocate Catherine Gardner, who also uses a wheelchair.

“If you’re using a mobility device, a cane, walker, you just can’t stand in line that long,” Gardner said, adding there are usually no places for people to sit outside of these sites.

I’m ignoring the obvious when quoting from this article, because it’s the obvious–disabilities include not just visible issues, but issues with circulation, immune system issues, basically any issue that means cold, or long periods of standing, or… basically doing any of the things you need to do if you don’t have a scheduled vaccine appointment–which, until very recently, were at a freaking premium–is going to be just a wee little bit of a challenge. Disability also includes mobility issues that make spontaneous outings for vaccines because hey this place has space now just a little bit tricky. You may or may not have heard my thoughts on Ottawa’s Para Transpo system. corona cranks that up to 11.

In a statement, the Ministry for Seniors and Accessibility pointed to its Accessible Drives to Vaccines program that launched last summer and helps people with mobility issues get to their vaccine appointments. Ottawa Public Health has similar accommodations available for people in need of transportation.

However, many pop-up vaccine clinics or rapid test giveaways are hosted on short notice, sometimes on the same day they’re announced. Booking a ride through the provincial program and the city’s website requires at least 48 hours notice.

So not only can you not have a social life doing the things vaccinated people can do for all the usual para Pranspo reasons, but getting a vaccine in the first place is a trick and a half for all the usual Para Transpo reasons. If they ever release stats on how many people with disabilities actually ended up getting the vaccine, I might cry–and I rarely cry. I’d be surprised to learn a majority of disabled people have been vaccinated to date, and it’s largely because of the things their disabilities force them to have to deal with and the systems we as a society have built to further gum up the works.

Remember when I said we’d get to the Ontario Disability Support program (ODSP)? This is where they come in–and this is why it doesn’t get that category. They played such a small part in practice that they barely take up any room in text. ODSP’s answer to a global pandemic? Here’s $100 that we’re not going to tell you about. PS: it has an expiration date.

Single people on Ontario Works or the Ontario Disability Support Program can access an extra $100 a month until the end of July to help with pandemic-related expenses. Families can access up to $200.

But they have to ask for it — and Jason said he didn’t know he could.

“I had called my worker to inform them that I was moving from one city to another,” he said. “She … asked me at that point if I was receiving the COVID benefit. I said, ‘What benefit?'”

That was in 2020. Two years ago. We’re still in a pandemic, but it’s business as usual at ODSP–complete with semi-regular screw-ups by underqualified caseworkers, but that’s another more ODSP-specific dumpster fire for later. Inflation is stupid crazy, there’s still tons of extra Covid-19 expenses that didn’t exist 2 years ago (masks don’t replace themselves, y’know), and ODSP offers a single person… $1169. Maximum, unless you’ve got dietary requirements. It’s like 2018, but actually painful.

Canada never has been great for people with disabilities unless you were working, and the same with Ontario. Even without a disability, generally speaking if you don’t work, you don’t matter. But with the onset of Covid, if you’re a person with a disability, that’s become a lot less easy to ignore. Governments at all levels have pretty clearly outlined their priorities, and disabled folks don’t rank.

A lot of things are happening around here because it’s 2015, or 2020, or 2022. But one thing hasn’t changed since I was old enough to care about it. Whether it’s 2005, or 2015, or 2020, or 2022, Canada still generally sucks if you’re disabled. And if you’re in Ontario, you don’t need to look far for specific proof.

Everyone in Ontario makes at least $15/hour now. so I can stop tipping, right?

The logic behind why we tip, at least in Ontario if not elsewhere, seems to have shifted from what I was taught as a child. It used to be that you gave a tip for good service, otherwise you paid the regular price and they lived with it. The explanation was, essentially, you’re already being paid to bring my food to me–if all you did was bring my food to me, I’m not paying you extra for that. That logic made sense. That logic still makes sense, albeit that’s not the logic that gets tossed around today.

The new logic, which I heard more of after the minimum wage jumped up to $14 in 2018, was that we tip to bring waitstaff and other assorted serving people up to the level of everyone else, since they were still getting about $12/hour. Again, the logic made sense. I mean, I didn’t completely agree with it considering how many of those same serving people basically banked their tips as untaxed income, but it made sense, so I didn’t argue it. Besides it wasn’t worth the headache–I had enough of those from the people who used to pay me. But that was then, and this is now.

Now, at least as of the new year, Ontario’s minimum wage is $15/hour–for everyone. Well, nearly everyone, anyway. But the nearly everyone includes waitstaff and other assorted serving people. So okay, awesome. Playing field’s level, now. The logic wherein we tip to level the said playing field no longer applies. So I can stop tipping now, right? Or, at least, go back to only tipping because it was earned and not because it’s generally expected?

See, here’s the thing. I’m not, explicitly, against tipping. I’m against tipping for the reasons society thinks I should tip, but I’m not against tipping in general. But it stops being a tip when it starts being expected/assumed/in some cases almost required. If you want me to pay 18% more (*) automatically/by default, then sure. I will. Build the 18% you want me to pay automatically into the price (note: not as a line item on the bill that says “tip” or “gratuity” unless you never want me to do business with you again), and we’ll talk. But don’t make that your opening offer if we’re going to have the automatic/assumed tipping conversation. That just makes me want to nope right out of there real fast.

Serving people work their asses off. That’s no lie. The good ones work twice as hard and often barely get a thank you. But that’s the nature of the beast. You work in the restaurant industry, you’re going to, by default, work your ass off. You chose to do that. The people who chose to do that and do that well have earned their tips. The rest should learn from them, not get offended because I didn’t reward them for bringing my food to me nearly cold after it’s been ready for 20 minutes. The people at Starbucks work their asses off as well, but no one’s expecting I tip them on the rare occasion I show up when one of my two drinks from there are in season. Same with the Tim Hortons or McDonalds folks. Sure, some of them are absolutely awesome. The girl who worked the Tim Hortons at the college when I went was pretty much on a first name basis with me for the majority of the time I went to said college. I never tipped her, and she never expected one. So why am I automatically expected to tip the Denny’s waiter who now makes exactly the same as her for, essentially, doing the absolute minimum?

The other issue I have with what tipping looks like in 2022 is rather aptly summarized by Steve, so since he stole my idea for this rant I’ll steal his description of that issue.

And why are we tipping people simply for doing what they’re supposed to be doing and not because they’ve gone above and beyond for us? Cab drivers, for example. The minimum requirements of your work day are to get me safely from one place to another. If you do that, lovely. And thank you very much for being competent. But why am I tipping for that if I’m not supposed to tip, say, the person at the grocery store for bagging my things logically and without breaking any jars? If the driver goes the extra step of helping me find my way inside of a building I’m not familiar with or the grocery person helps me carry things some distance, that’s a tip. Otherwise it’s just you doing your job, and the entire reason I’m expected to tip is because your employer doesn’t want to pay you properly.

Cab drivers, Uber/Lyft drivers, delivery people… all of these automatically expect a tip, and are almost insulted when they don’t get one for doing the absolute minimum required for their job. If you drop me off somewhere I’ve never been and I need to find my own way in, or if you drop me off somewhere and I know exactly where I’m going, and therefore don’t need you, no tip for you. If you’ve pinged me to notify me you’re here with my food, but I have to go downstairs to pick it up from the lobby where you left it on the floor because you couldn’t be bothered to press the 4 buttons that would have told me to open the damn door, no tip for you. Also if I have to put a jacket, shoes and a mask on to meet you in the parking lot because it’s cold and you don’t want to leave your car, no tip for you–in fact, you should probably be tipping me. But why is it that it’s still pretty much automatically expected? Have we, as a society, become that spoiled?

You’re already getting paid to do the job. If you work in a restaurant, you’re now getting paid the exact same as the guy who bags my groceries–unless that guy’s a student, but I mean presumably you have higher standards than comparing yourself to a student. If you’re delivering my food to me, I’m already paying you a delivery fee for doing that–and all the apps basically say the entire delivery fee goes to you. Now, we can argue whether or not the delivery fee is high enough, but the point is, that’s the price of the service you’re offering. In both cases, that’s the price. If you do the minimum required to offer that service, then I will happily pay that price–but I’m not, on your life or mine, paying more than that price. If you want me to pay extra, I want you to do extra. That’s how this thing works. Or should, in a functioning society where just showing up isn’t celebrated as going above and beyond.

Waitstaff and other serving people have gotten the short end of the stick for years. I get it. But they’re not anymore. So let’s drop the act of making up for them getting the short end of the stick. Deal? If you want to earn more than minimum wage as a server, put forth more than minimum effort. Or go work at a restaurant that will pay you more than minimum wage–and will price their food accordingly. I hate saying it this way, but it’s the truth–minimum effort begets minimum pay. Solve the one, you’ll solve the other. Don’t solve the one, no tip for you. And the rest of you need to talk to your employers about not being paid enough. That’s not my responsibility.

(*): Who in the hell decided that 18% was a good idea as a suggested minimum for a tip, and why are they still employed? I mean, you may think your service is worth an extra 18%, and you may be right. But that’s not your choice–that’s mine, and trust me, I’ve rarely received service that was worth an extra 18% on the bill. Your employer may have decided that your service is worth an extra 18%, but that’s your employer’s choice–and your employer’s responsibility. If they want to give you an extra 18%, then they should pay you an extra 18%, not leave that up to me. By trying to pass the 18% on to me, they’re telling both you and me that they think you should be getting paid more but they’d rather not. If I were you, I’d find a new employer. Since I’m me, I’m not paying your employer’s 18% increase. Now, if I get *really* good service, I might do 15. But I also rarely get *really* good service. Hint: *that’s* probably a you problem.

What he should have said: “No honey, I’ve got this.”

Instead, Jon Reyes–a probably soon-to-be former cabinet minister in Manitoba took two thoughts that should never be said together and definitely should never be said together on social media and… put them on social media

Just in case he smartens up and the tweet goes poof:

Even after a 12 hour night shift at the hospital last night, my wife still has the energy to shovel the driveway. God bless her and all our frontliners. Time to make her some breakfast.

I mean I get it. I really do. He’s proud of his wife, and the work she’s doing. Apparently, that includes in the driveway, but whatever. It works for them, so I mean I’m not about to complain too loudly.

But, and here’s the thing–not now, not here, and not by him. For starters, it’s 2022. All tweeting about his wife shoveling snow does–besides make him look like an ass–is cheapen the whole “frontliners” thing. Which, I mean, he’s a politician so it’s pretty cheap to begin with.

Speaking of, he’s a politician–and a conservative one at that. You just… no. Why? Did no one talk him out of it? Doesn’t he know conservatives are supposed to be super duper sexist, and so that’s the way somebody somewhere will read that? Didn’t somebody, like, consider warning him? You just don’t say stuff like that if you’re a conservative politician. Come on, John, you know this.

Doing, or saying, absolutely nothing at all would have probably been a better option for Reyes, I’d think. Keeping his trap shut couldn’t have been more dumb, at any rate. Better still? Getting out there himself–or paying some poor shmuck to get out there on his behalf–and get it done before his wife gets home. You know, like most common folk. But if that’s not an option because politician, then yeah, silence works.

Cool. Your wife’s a frontline worker. Awesome. And you’re proud of her. Amazing. I’m happy for you. So get up off your butt and clear your own damn drive so she doesn’t have to. *Then* make that breakfast for her. But whatever you do and however dumb that thing is, keep it the hell off social media. Especially if you’re a conservative. That’s just dumb.

Life causes cancer, booze edition.

So today I learned a few things, mostly work related. But over the weekend I learned a little bit more of my life is a lot less cancer free than I thought it was.

It’s not a secret, but it may as well be. Few Canadians know the truth, and few may want to hear it: Alcohol, any amount of alcohol, can cause cancer. There is no safe amount, and the calls to inform Canadians are growing.

“Even drinking one drink a day increases your risk of some cancers — including, if you’re a woman, breast cancer — but also cancers of the digestive system, the mouth, stomach,” said Tim Stockwell, a senior scientist with the Canadian Institute for Substance Use Research at the University of Victoria.

So, what it comes down to is the following non-exhaustive list of things may or may not, but probably will, cause cancer.

On the bright side, I may have stumbled on the cure for cancer. Outlaw drinking, outlaw smoking, require your network be entirely wired, go back to using landlines, and don’t actually *do* anything. Since that’s not likely to happen, I think I’m going to go make me a drink. Or several.

If you’ve already said yes to the vaccine, don’t say no to the label.

I’m trying to minimize the Covid posts on here, but this needs to be said. I don’t get people. You’ve already said yes to the vaccine. You’ve probably–hopefully–already gotten two of them. If one of them was Astrazeneca, you’re already mixing and matching vaccines (we’ve been staying away from AZ as second doses up here for, oh… about 8 months or so now). So why does hearing the name Moderna suddenly make you run for the hills?

As Ontario rolls out COVID-19 booster shots, some pharmacies are reporting that people are walking out after being informed that they would be receiving the Moderna vaccine rather than Pfizer’s.

Justin Bates, who is the CEO of the Ontario Pharmacists Association, says he’s hearing from pharmacies that around half of people are refusing to take Moderna.

“I think there’s a lot of education that pharmacists have to do in other health care providers to demonstrate that (Moderna) is equal to Pfizer. It’s safe, it’s effective,” he told CTV News on Friday.

I’m the first to admit I’m not a medical expert–I fix the technology the medical experts use to store, access and probably accidentally delete your records. But because I’m not a medical expert, I’m going to be listening to what the hell the medical experts say. And the medical experts I see moving their lips are saying an MRNA vaccine is an MRNA vaccine is an MRNA vaccine. So rather than shop around for a label you like (really, you only have two options), take the one that’s offered and be happy the most you’ll come down with if you get on-nom-nomicroned is a cold.

Sure, if you’ve already got 2 Phizer, maybe it makes sense to prefer to get your third the same brand. And if Phizer’s offered to you, then you’re laughing. If your first dose was Astrazeneca, then you’re already mixing and matching whether your second was Phizer or Moderna, so you’re losing nothing. In either case, if the answer to “Phizer please” is “no”, the answer to “no” is not”then I’ll take my arm elsewhere”. Not if you actually want the third vaccine, at any rate.

Maybe someone can explain it to me in simple terms. Like, what is it people prefer–besides the label–about one over the other? Is it the very, very slightly different recipes, which you probably can’t explain without a medical degree? Is it the fact one brand is known for Viagra while the other… well, isn’t? Educate me.

Full disclosure: All 3 of mine are Moderna. That was not by design–that was just what was offered when I went, and I don’t care. If any one of my doses had been Phizer, I’d still have my 3. Because, again, an MRNA vaccine is an MRNA vaccine is an MRNA vaccine. that’s not my opinion. that’s the opinion of people who do this for a living. Would you question my opinion if I told you your 10-year-old computer wouldn’t run the latest Call of Duty game very well? Okay, bad question–you probably would. But you’d be wrong. The difference is your choices then would be fork over the cash for a respectable machine or don’t play the latest Call of Duty.

You’ve already said yes to the vaccine. You know your getting boosted. You booked your appointment, showed up, probably taken tomorrow off work in case it knocks you on your ass–I did, and I’ve never had any real major side-effects. You’ve decided you’re doing this. don’t change your mind because of what the label says. It’s essentially the same thing. Get the vaccine. And while you do that, I’ll find something not covid related to write about. Screw you, Covid.

Norton Crypto? How about Norton No-No?

Everyone knows who/what Norton antivirus is, or should by now. that’s the program you end up uninstalling within 20 minutes from setting up your computer, only to call me a month later because you’ve been infected with all the things. and I mean I get it. Norton sucks, so I’ll probably help you uninstall it–but in my case, I’m installing something else in its place and you don’t get to say no, because I don’t want that phone call.

what you may not know is Norton’s been getting kind of a little desperate in recent years. I mean, when your software’s known more for making a system unstable than detecting/preventing infections, that happens. So Norton does what most desperate companies do–jump on the nearest bandwagon what looks like it might be going somewhere. That nearest bandwagon? Crypto, apparently.

Most people have probably at least heard the word cryptocurrency, even if they haven’t the slightest idea what the hell it is–I mean, it’s been in the news on and off for a few years. For those of you who live under a rock, let me educate you.

A cryptocurrency is a digital or virtual currency that is secured by cryptography, which makes it nearly impossible to counterfeit or double-spend. Many cryptocurrencies are decentralized networks based on blockchain technology—a distributed ledger enforced by a disparate network of computers. A defining feature of cryptocurrencies is that they are generally not issued by any central authority, rendering them theoretically immune to government interference or manipulation.

Which, roughly translated, means crypto is that thing you buy when you’re mad at the government for no good reason and still want to play in the stock market.

And because Norton wants to stay relevant, Crypto is apparently its next best thing.

Norton Crypto is a feature made available in Norton 360 which you can utilize for mining cryptocurrency when your PC is idle. Currently, Norton Crypto is limited to users with devices that meet the required system requirements.

Yep, sounds trustworthy. But at least now you know Norton won’t just be consuming your system resources while you’re using it.

PS: I’m still uninstalling it from every computer I’m allowed anywhere near. You may think crypto’s the best thing since sliced bread (we will agree to disagree), but Norton is still objectively terrible. A Norton program that offers to mine crypto for you? I mean, what could possibly go wrong?

Do you still own a blackBerry? all 3 of you probably need a new phone, like, tomorrow.

So. today I learned. I thought BlackBerry was dead ages ago-usually, a sign something’s not long for this world is when my former employer, Nova, takes an interest in it. Nope, turns out it’s still kicking–until tomorrow, when pretty much anything not running Android goes splork.

I’ve never owned or used one, though I knew a couple people who did–10 years ago. And my former employer kept a couple around as testing devices for one particular customer who spent most of their time absolutely convinced blackBerry was still the gold standard (they were lawyers, so I mean come on). But aside from that, it didn’t occur to me they still had any significant market share. But, I mean, them flipping the switch that breaks the phones tomorrow I guess proves they do. Or did. Or thought they did. That the decision makes headlines is a slow news day, I guess? I mean, at least it’s not another goddamned Covid story.

BlackBerry was cute, for its time. Its time was about 15 minutes 10 years ago, though. And now, the 3 of you who still have one have no excuse. So what’ll it be? Apple or Google? Sorry, no one has a landline anymore either.

Any autotune is too much autotune. Change my mind.

Or, you know, agree with me. Whichever–I’m easy.

There are two universal truths that are still unchanged in 2022.

  • 1. We will always have autotune.
  • 2. Autotune was invented by the devil to trick people who can’t sing into believing they should even try.

When you’d rather buy the album than listen to it live, because you know the artist is absolutely useless live, that’s too much autotune. When your choices are understanding the lyrics or making your ears bleed, that’s too much autotune. And when you want an excuse to mock autotune while demonstrating the entire reason autotune is bad for anyone who isn’t a software engineer, the song you turn to is called “Too Much Autotune”. And because I love me a good parody, well, of course I’ll demonstrate.

TL; DR: Autotune is evil, unless you’re using it to mock autotune. Then, and only then, is autotune the best thing ever. But if I never hear another autotuned song again, it still won’t be long enough.

The month in readership, December 2021.

I may not have been as active with this thing as I wanted to be, and I may have started a little later in the month than I’d planned, but that doesn’t mean the site hasn’t been getting attention. It may have gotten a little more attention, but somewhere along the way we ran into an issue or 6–all fixed now! As I try to do better on that front, here’s a look at what happened while I sucked at it.

  • Paramount Properties, don’t ever change. I wrote about their fuckery in 2013, and here they are 8 years later apparently not changing. The two posts I wrote about them are still getting attention, though the last comment on either of them was posted in 2019.
  • Omicron snacked on the hockey season for a little while. I renamed it, then gave it an alternative meal. Someone apparently appreciates my choice in names for it. I wish I could take the credit, but I think they were looking for this meme (note: site’s currently throwing errors as of when I looked, but it’s cached). Either way, I’ll take the free promotion.
  • WebFaction sold its soul in 2019, but people are still coming across my instructions for migrating away from CPanel and to that service. The advice I give people now? Stick with CPanel, or switch to dreamHost. You’ll be better for it.
  • I still plan to post current event type things, but I’m trying to avoid posting anything to do with Covid–which basically means I’m out of current event type things to post for a while. I broke that rule a couple times and will probably break it again. But this being the time of Covid, I do have to wonder what exactly is going on in the world that this sexually frustrated current event is getting attention again.
  • Someone, or multiple someones, has apparently decided I’m a source for New Worlds Aderaan material. I haven’t played the game ever, and the one person I know who has… well… we’re at a distance for a good reason. Still, was this post what you were looking for?

I’m still rebuilding things after the technical issues I mentioned above, and I’ve made a few changes here that may allow me to take advantage of traffic sources that didn’t exist when last I took up a major project to revitalize this site (2011), so it’s very possible when I do this next month it will look very, very different. But that’s December in a nutshell. Not bad for the guy who forgot how to write, even if the guy who forgot how to write says so himself.

In 2022, I hereby resolve to…

I don’t normally make new years resolutions, because I don’t normally care. But given where I’m coming from, I figure I can get away with doing it this year by essentially keeping it to things that are very likely to happen, pending something beyond my control–like, for example, this current thing we’re dealing with sticking around for longer than people planned. Again. But if everything plays out, I fully intend to accomplish these things in 2022. Or fake it until 2023.

  • Haul myself the rest of the way out of debt
  • Save up enough that I can afford a halfway decent down payment on a house or condo that doesn’t look like the seller should have paid me to take it
  • Take the new job as far as it will let me, then turn it into something entirely new (this will require an explanation of the new job, which I also resolve to do)
  • Put myself on a bus, or plane, or even train, and just go somewhere besides either Ottawa or the valley, just to say I did–I hear nice things about Montreal these days
  • spend a lot more time doing what I want to, rather than what I have to, including spending a lot more time adding content to and maintaining this thing I’ve had for 15 years
  • Meet at least 3 people from my work, who are all working remotely by default, and have one hell of a time doing it–this may or may not involve booze, depending on the people
  • Blog about, both internally and maybe even on this site, my meeting of the above at least 3 people I work with
  • Put up with a whole lot less BS, and come down harder on the source(s) of said BS a lot quicker
  • Get incredibly drunk and, public health regulations at the time permitting, set every single solitary fucking mask I own on fire

And as a bonus, just in case I need a consolation prize, I’m taking at least one cruise and forgetting the world exists for a week. because hey, that’s been on my bucket list for ages and now’s as good a time as any. well, not *right* now (screw you, Covid).

2021, reviewed.

In comparison to the not hardly at all documented 2020, 2021 was a marked improvement. Still largely not at all documented, and still largely a ball of suck, but less of a ball of suck than the year previous–no, Covid was not the major thing that sucked for me.

I was ordered, as pretty much a lot of people were in Ontario, to work from home in March of 2020. I’ve always said I’d love to be able–optionally–to work from home, and the job I had was pretty much doable from anywhere besides my desk–most of the devices/platforms I needed to log into weren’t even in this country, so sitting in the office to use them really didn’t make a whole lot of difference. The government ordering me to work from home proved that, and after some less than pleasant personal events in the summer of 2020, I proved it further by basically working most of that year outside of Ottawa. In 2021, I made that shift to working from home into a permanent one by switching jobs. And just as soon as we make up our freaking minds what we’re doing re: covid, I can make my permanent working from home arrangement into an optional one–as I’d originally intended–with my employer’s blessing. Now I’ve got more money, more freedom, and more time to get shit done. In short, where was this 5 years ago?

In 2020, I became single after a relationship I essentially put everything I had into. Not going to lie, I was a mess for a bit. Surprisingly, the pandemic wasn’t related to the reason why we broke up–if anything, I think she enjoyed the fact the government was keeping me at home. I will say it was largely a difference of opinion. I’m smiling now, and it’s only tangentially related to that difference of opinion. In 2021 I formed a couple of new potential connections. I don’t know if either of them will actually evolve into a serious actual relationship for various reasons, but they’re important to me in their own way. Both of them have given me new perspectives I didn’t have a year ago. And, if ever I do end up in another serious relationship, both of them are helping–again, in their own way–to solidify what I don’t want in that relationship. Again, where was this 5 years ago?

Okay, enough of the suck versus less suck comparisons. Partly because I’ve run out of things to compare to, but mostly because screw it. We all know 2020 was a dumpster fire. In 2021, I finally, *finally*, purchased the new desktop computer/server/test bed/general geek machine. I haven’t had one since the hand-me-down I was using kicked the bucket a few years ago. My personal projects once again live in a permanent, stable, default location. Conveniently enough, so do my new professional projects–more on that later, if I don’t forget. In short, this allows me to play with more heavy-duty developer things. Which in turn means maybe next year I’ll get off my ass and learn to code (I know, stop laughing).

2021 also meant for me more hockey. Not just because the NHL hadn’t (until now, briefly) been nommed by Covid, but because the nature of my working now means I can be a lot more available to go to my nephews’ games. Which I’ve been doing pretty much every chance I get–again, until now, hopefully briefly. Being stuck in Ottawa taking care of someone, while I enjoyed doing so, came with drawbacks and that was one. While I have no trouble admitting I sometimes miss that, I have even less trouble admitting that if travel ever reopens for really real, or if I get fed up and decide to move permanently out of Ottawa, I don’t need to be tied to anywhere specific unless I want to be. So I can watch my nephews play hockey, still get paid, and life can be glorious.

In 2021, I also finished–after nearly a decade of trying–completely pulling myself out of financial hell. The Ontario disability Support Program (ODSP) was pretty much no help here, which is part of what took me the majority of that decade, but 2021 was the year it became official that I didn’t have a dime in collections. Oh, I still have debt. But now every cent of it is trackable, and if at all necessary, reusable. And it’s dropping like a freaking stone. 2022 promises to continue that trend, pending another 2008.

Speaking of the Ontario disability Support Program (ODSP), 2021 was the year I stopped qualifying for it entirely. That happened by virtue of the job change I wrote about above. I’m not throwing the “screw you, ODSP” party just yet (waiting to see if I’m still here in a year), but assuming I am, I am personally buying enough booze to give a Russian a hangover. Masks optional–if you’re fully vaccinated, for whatever definition of “fully vaccinated” at the time of the probably poorly planned and definitely poorly executed event.

And speaking of 2008, I fell behind by a long shot when my job went and emigrated to India as part of Dell’s attempt to save a dollar. I’m still behind, but I started for really real catching up in late 2021 when my job changed. I’m… still by no means where I want to be (see also: the earlier mentioned financial recovery), but I’m a lot farther ahead staring down the barrel of 2022 than I was staring down the barrel of 2009. Or 2021, actually. I mean, I have retirement savings (CPP doesn’t count), which I couldn’t say I did in 2020. It’s not much, but it’s more than I had when I had to set fire to everything so I could qualify for ODSP in 2010, and definitely more than I had when 2021 started (I don’t have exact numbers from 2010, but in 2020 and into 2021, it was $0). Now if everything cost today what it cost in 2010, I’d be laughing. But, can’t win ’em all, and I like my small victories.

I have no idea where 2022’s going. I still don’t entirely know where 2021 went. But I haven’t overall felt this good in a lot of years. Not being poor probably helps, but knowing the world isn’t speeding ahead of me as fast as it used to doesn’t hurt either. I’ll probably screw up, and things will probably go sideways, but I think as of this second I’m in a position to survive just about anything short of a catastrophic failure. And that’s something I haven’t been able to say in way too many years. Thanks, 2021. You weren’t as bad as you could have been and were probably better than you should have been.

In which I get boosted, and the world Juniors gets iced by om-nom-nomicron.

So. good–if only for me–news first. I am now considered fully vaccinated plus (*). They stuck me two days ago, and I waited until now just in case it resulted in spectacular forms of crap–dose number 2 pretty much ran me over, so I was preparing. Fortunately, dose number 3 seems to have been kinder to me–the only evidence I’d been stuck is the expected arm soreness where they stuck me. I will of course blame the vaccine should I develop cold symptoms tomorrow, as one does.

Now, the crap news–and again, screw you, Covid. the day after I rule myself relatively safe from immediately inconveniencing side-effects, the world Junior tournament of Hockey gets whacked by Covid. the move was a smart one, but dammit Canada was killing it! I actually managed to catch a couple of those games and was looking forward to clearing my schedule for a couple more. The olympics can go to hell, but I mean we might be seeing some of these guys playing pro in a couple years, if they’re not already, so I always look forward to seeing what they’ve got. Still, like I said, the move itself was logical, but screw you, Covid.

(*): Two doses is still considered fully vaccinated (at least today) in Ontario, but I imagine once a significant chunk of us are boosted that’ll change. though as the pharmacist who stuck me pointed out, we can’t keep doing vaccines every 6 months or so. There’s got to be something else, though neither he nor I had a freaking clue what that something else might be.

Now, off to install my first version 3.0 software update.

It’s Christmas in the valley.

It’s that time of year, and I’m where I pretty much always am when it’s that time of year. My family has a tradition–it doesn’t matter where we are or what we’re doing, we’re all home for Christmas. And home has pretty much always been the Ottawa valley–with only a few exceptions (me included), they all live here and very few of them have actually left here for any real length of time. So partly because it’s tradition, and mostly because it’s the one time I’m guaranteed to see them all in one place, I’m back in the valley for a few days.

ONe of our family traditions is the Christmas music in the background of just about everything we do. Even in situations, like when we’re having dinner, where we don’t usually have music of any kind onb–usually there’s something. The radio, a CD, somebody’s Spotify playlist, whichever. That’s pretty nearly a central component of the day if you’re us.

One of the songs I end up hearing at least once every year is “Christmas In The Valley”. IF not the original, then it’s because someone’s pulled out the guitar and we’ve decided to sing the thing. It’s almost become a staple in at least one Christmas playlist. So, because someone in this house will play it today, I’ll leave it here today. And, you know, if you’re ever in the Ottawa valley on or around Christmas…

Merry Christmas to those of you who celebrate, happy holidays to those of you who are either just thankful to probably hopefully have the day off or are waiting for December 31, and happy weekend to everyone else–the, like, 3 of you who actually read this long-neglected thing. In 2022, perhaps I’ll decide to do something productive. Or at least, if not that, then do whatever this is before halfway through December.

Om-nom-nomicron eats hockey. It should snack on the olympics next.

I have two weeks off work. When I scheduled this two weeks off work, I fully intended to spend it either in front of the TV watching professional hockey, or in a local arena watching nephew hockey. And this is why I don’t make plans–they change. This time, om-nom-nomicron changed them.

the local hockey season’s on hold or cancelled as of about a week ago, the NHL’s on hold in many places–including both toronto (damn) and Ottawa (Can we make that permanent?), and the NHL has officially bowed out of the olympics this year–which, essentially, means I’m bowing out of the olympics this year. Now if the trend didn’t stop there.

I don’t mind the olympics most years. I mean, not just because that’s the one time I’m not the only one sitting in front of the TV watching hockey. But I wouldn’t lose sleep at all if they pulled the covid lever and bailed out of the whole thing. They won’t, but it would be nice if they did.

I’m not going to mention the location they’re holding it this year, because neither the olympics nor the country deserve that much attention. Plus, if you don’t know by now you can know in about 5 seconds with Google’s help. But I will say the government of the country in question is of the opinion that rights, even for its own citizens, aren’t worth the paper they’re not actually written on in that country. And if you happen to 1: not be a citizen of that country and 2: useful as a bargaining chip in a diplomatic game of chess with another country, you have even fewer rights than their citizens. Personally I’d rather my country, or my country’s athletes, didn’t condone such behaviour. I’d rather the IOC didn’t either, but I gave up on them years ago.

I can live without the NHL for a few weeks, or the rest of the year, for health and safety reasons. I’m a little bummed I won’t be watching my nephews play. But I will throw a freaking party if Covid becomes the reason there is no olympics this year. Human rights are a wee bit more important. And screw the IOC if it disagrees.

Sure, I’ve had about enough of Covid, with or without om-nom-nomicron’s help contributing to the fed-up-ness. But if it grinds this year’s olympics to a hault, then to hell with it–I’m on Covid’s side. Perhaps if they can use Covid as cover, our politicians will actually do something respectable. Probably not, but I mean a guy can dream.

Om-nom-nomicron made a meal out of my hockey life. If it’s still hungry, the olympics would make an excellent snack. Eat up, then die off, pretty please and kindly thank you.

11 years late, but I now work from home. Or anywhere else I feel like.

I’ve always told anyone who’d listen that given the choice, I’ll always take–at a minimum–the option of working from home over shlepping to and from the office 5 days/week (or 4, per my last job). I’m not anti-office. Not even close. But I’m way, way more productive at home. And I never saw the point in your options being go to work because you feel like trash but can still work, or stay home despite the fact that your feeling like trash doesn’t automatically mean you shouldn’t be working.

No one’s enjoying the last two years or so, but for better or worse, I had the opportunity to test my theory. when the government decided those of us who could be were now remote employees, I could not have been more thrilled. You mean I’m not tied to one specific place because that’s where my money comes from? What pure bliss is this? I could work from my parents’ place, or my bed, or–when they were open—-the restaurant I decided I’d be having dinner at. If their schedules allowed it, I could go watch my nephews play hockey in the afternoon and still get back in time for work. I could have, you know, a life outside of my job.

That pretty much sealed the deal for me. If I went back to the office, it wasn’t going to be full time. Now, this put me at odds with my employer at the time, who was essentially looking to bring us back to the office at the earliest possibility. So, in a rather surprising–for me, anyway–turn of events, I changed that situation. And my employer. And now I am permanently working from home.

When I’m a little more sure I’ll still be there in a few months (you know, typical new job stuff), I’ll go into more detail on what working for this particular company remotely means. But they have no offices, so everyone’s remote from the newest employee up to the CEO–who is awesome, just for the record. Which means when I decide I’m ready to go back to the office (hint: not even close), it will be an office I’m paying to rent as part of a coworking arrangement and not, as I’m used to, owned by or rented to the people who pay me. And that, I think, will be the perfect compromise–from home when I want/need to, from the office otherwise.

It only took me 11 years, but I finally ended up largely where I think I wanted to be. Next on my list, a work from home apartment.

The government really did not think this through. … Or they did, and that’s the problem.

So we’re under a new Covid thing again. That thing, because otherwise Covid will bore the hell out of me, shall be known when I write about it as om-nom-nomicron. Naturally this means we’re also under a new Covid benefit again. I say “under” rather than “entitled to” because, well, there are no entitleds.

The federal government has established a new COVID-19 support benefit, but it can’t be accessed because no one in the country meets its eligibility criteria, prompting criticism of the support. The Canada Worker Lockdown Benefit (new window) (CWLB) officially came into existence last Friday. Like its predecessors, such as the Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB) and the Canada Recovery Benefit (CRB), it’s designed to provide temporary income support during the COVID-19 pandemic. Unlike those programs, it’s only available to workers who cannot work due to a local lockdown designation, but no region is officially under lockdown.

So. Basically.

  • 1: Create a benefit to help out during a pandemic (good).
  • 2: Slap some restrictions on that benefit so the guy making $100k who’s job hasn’t been affected by the pandemic doesn’t qualify (good).
  • 3: Allow the provinces to do, well, what the provinces will do, and shut down places that will contribute to Covid exploding–in Québec, this apparently means schools, gyms, bars, etc (good).
  • 4: Deny the newly unemployed access to the benefit you just created because their region’s not under lockdown yet (WTF, gov?).
  • 5: Profit, I guess.

I mean I’m not an expert here by any means, but did somebody miss a memo? Yeah, the first round of Covid benefits were way too freaking unrestricted. I could have applied for them and my job wasn’t impacted in any way by Covid other than, you know, that whole being ordered to work from home thing. But methinks somebody might be overcompensating just a little much. either that, or we’re headed for another Christmas lockdown in Canada (note: ford, that is not a suggestion). I’d like to know what Ottawa was thinking, but I’ll settle for knowing *if* Ottawa was thinking. Or perhaps that’s the problem.

Update: Looks like that memo arrived a little bit later than planned.

The federal government is expanding access to pandemic financial supports, as much of the country grapples with surging COVID-19 infections and new restrictions are implemented across the country. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced the measures in a news conference Wednesday, in which he appeared virtually. Trudeau said he was following local public health advice after six members of his staff and security detail tested positive for COVID-19. “For the Canada Worker Lockdown Benefit and the Local Lockdown Program, you’ll be able to apply if you’re subject to capacity limiting restrictions,” Trudeau said.

Think, then do, guys. The other way around never works. Let this be a lesson… that you’ll probably ignore.

No one reads the terms and conditions. Or the anything else. Yeah, that includes you.

So, I’ve been in tech for years. Whether it’s tech support, or IT, or just generally dicking around with whatever project. I’ve seen more terms of service pages than I have hairs on my head. And I’m fairly sure I’ve read a grand total of maybe 2 of them. Here’s the thing. So have you. Here’s the other thing. It’s not just the T&C’s.

People don’t like to read, even if reading turns out to actually be good for them. And in one case, had just one person actually–as a Linux professor of mine put it–read all the words, that person might have found themselves $50 richer.

Kenyon Wilson is the associate head of performing arts at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga and decided to put an Easter egg in the syllabus for his music seminar class this past semester. The hint read: “Thus (free to the first who claims; locker one hundred forty-seven; combination fifteen, twenty-five, thirty-five), students may be ineligible to make up classes and …” This would have led students to a locker that contained a $50 bill, free to the first student to claim it.

It would have, except–yep–no one read the T&C’s. So that $50 sat in a locker for the semester, and the only one who knew it was there was the guy who put it there. It wouldn’t surprise me to learn he’s also the only one he knows who actually reads all of the words.

So if you know a guy who tells you he reads the rules, you know a guy who’s lying. But be gentle. He’s just trying to be like everyone else.

PS: Professor Allen, thank you for not doing something similar just to make sure we were reading all of the words on your final exam. I’m not thanking you, however, for your final exam–that was kind of brutal.

Some job perks are priceless.

I’ve been rocking a new job lately (more on that somewhere else down the line), which actually comes with a surprising amount of awesome benefits–not to mention being significantly less soul sucking than the job I traded in for it. But not all the benefits I enjoy come from my employer. Some of them come from the people I help, and are made of awesome.

Full disclosure: The new job is WordPress related, which is only a partial motivation for reviving this site–and hoping, this time, I actually stick with it. The new job is also tech support (sort of) related, so there’s a window into the kind of help that would have netted me what it did.

I’m a huge space nerd. More appropriately I’m a huge science fiction nerd, but there’s a lot of space in my science fiction. So I’m drawn, even if I don’t have the kind of time to sit and watch it all the time, to what they’re up to with our modern day space program. I was super stoked a Canadian became the commander of the International space Station. I was… notably less stoked when another Canadian space name became our Governor general and turned out to be absolutely bonkers, but eh, you can’t win it all. But mostly I’m stoked there’s a space station floating around above us–my brain did not at all connect this to DS9. Nope. Not at all.

Here’s essentially what happened. I was doing what I do, and a user–we’ll call him Bob–had accidentally done a thing that resulted in pretty much all of the content disappearing from his site. The content was still there, it just wasn’t directly visible. This resulted in a mild bit of panic, naturally, and he was convinced he’d broken essentially all the things. He didn’t, and the actual fix took all of about 10 seconds, but that was the longest 10 seconds of his life (his words, not mine).

His thanks for fixing his issue was to share with me a documentary he’d been involved in working on. That documentary, which I’ll link below, is basically all of the space nerd things in the span of 2 hours or so. So, more or less, exactly how I wanted to spend an evening after a long week.

Sometimes, the customers make my day in a way the employer can only hope to. And sometimes, I look forward to sitting at home and watching TV.

If you’re wanting to see what I saw as my thank you present, here you are. It’s completely available on YouTube, is in two parts, and if you like nerdness, this is you. Here’s part 1, and part 2.

Ottawa’s LRT finally charges what it’s worth–for a month.

I’m a little late to this party–in that the month is almost over, but this seems like as good a reason to pick up the habit again as any. Ottawa’s LRT is finally worth riding.

No, the service hasn’t improved a ton. Or at all, really. And we’ve yet to see a major dumping of snow, so I mean the service hasn’t degraded beyond its usual either. But as an apology for the LRT’s crap service being, well, crap service, the city has decided for the month of December (like I said, I’m late to this party) that LRT ridership should now be completely free. Or put another way, you should now pay what the service is worth–squat.

The bright side is I’ve actually been tempted to take the thing by choice, despite the fact not going anywhere is quickly becoming the medically smart option again. Of course the catch is it’s an apology for the service sucking, rather than an admission that it’s not going to improve, so come January I’ll be willingly and by choice giving my money to Uber. But, I mean, you can’t have it all, right? At leas tnot if you live in Ottawa.

I no longer buy the financial arguments against a basic income.

I used to be somewhat skeptical we could afford, as either a province or a nation, to experiment with what a basic income would actually do. Mostly because I don’t like borrowing, and am fully aware that the more we borrow, the more we’ll be paying back through taxes–at least, if the government is borrowing responsibly. If the current global situation has done anything positive, if one wants to call it positive, it’s served to disabuse me of that idea. Mostly because we’ve spent more as a country in the last month or so than it was believed a federal basic income system would cost per year over 5 years. I’m an evidence guy. I’ve always said that. And as much as math and I are rarely on speaking terms, math is still evidence. And that evidence has me reevaluating how I understand social spending.

If the federal government wanted to implement a basic income system a la Ontario’s cancelled pilot (*), it would cost Canada as a whole about $80 billion a year, to keep it simple. Less if, as a part of that system the government cancelled other social safety net programs (not likely), or teamed up with the provinces (slightly less likely) to implement it. By contrast, it’s been a month and the federal government’s already earmarked $107 billion to keep people as close as possible to financially afloat while we try and flatten the curve. Again, math and I are rarely on speaking terms. But $107 billion in a month or so–with presumedly more coming besides–is a lot bigger than $80 billion over the course of a year. The government didn’t bat an eye at doing this, therefore in theory, it shouldn’t be batting an eye at looking at basic income when we get through the other side.

I’d like to say I’m all for it, but my skepticism involves a lot more than financial concerns–which is why the Ontario experiment the report above was based on should have been allowed to continue (thanks, Doug). Everyone knows someone on welfare or disability who easily couldn’t be, but would rather be there than actually do something. If you yourself are on welfare, you’re more likely to know someone who fits that description. In my case, I’m related to it by a former marriage (not mine). That doesn’t mean they’re the majority, or even a significant minority. But that does mean they exist. Say that number right now is 10%. Assuming a basic income system went live, it would apply to a lot of the same people. Would that number still be 10%? Would it drop? Would it increase? And in answering that question, we’d answer another–how many of these people are that way because they can’t afford not to be, versus this is an honest to goodness choice they’ve made? I’d have liked to see actual data to support one way or the other. There are studies that suggest it might have actually worked out that way if it was allowed to play out, and I’m liking what I see here. Which is why I’d also be perfectly okay with this experiment running federally–unless we’re running it right now, at which point screw it, we’re good.

Ontario’s experiment cost $150 million. If we skipped the experiment and just rolled it out federally, it would cost $80 billion. Clearly, we can afford it. And if we’d stop playing with the tax code to win elections, we might actually have less difficulty affording it than even the PBO report tries to point out. However we do it, if we do it, I don’t buy any longer the excuse that we can’t afford it. We’ve already spent this year’s basic income money and nearly half of next. If we don’t consider actually letting a basic income experiment play out so we have actual honest to goodness results to rely on, the reasons will be just about entirely political at this point. I know what an NDP voter will tell me re: a basic income. I know what a Liberal voter might tell me re: a basic income–depending on whether their second choice is Conservative or NDP. I know what a Conservative voter will tell me re: a basic income. When the dust settles, and we can all stop our heads from collectively spinning, it’s time to put up or shut up. If I know anything at all after all this, “we can’t afford it” no longer works. New arguments, please.

(*): If you voted for Ford based on his promise to not touch the basic income pilot, you no longer get to mock Trudeau voters for “this will be the last election under First Past the Post”. And if you voted for both of them, please stop. Just stop. You’re not helping.

Piss poor planning prevents proper performance. Or, this is not how you reduce a deficit, Ontario.

Cuts hurt. This is not news. It wasn’t news when Ontario was a Liberal province, and it’s even less so now that it’s trying to be a Conservative one–though not trying too hard, given we elected a guy who wouldn’t know what the word Conservative actually meant if you handed him a dictionary. And when you have to turn around and give 80% of the money you cut right back the next year, cuts hurt like hell. Enter our premier.

In last year’s budget, he knocked $25000000 off the health policy and research budget. Yesterday, he gave $20000000 of it back so the fine folks who know what they’re doing can hopefully find a vaccine for the mess we’re in. Because that’s apparently how we role in 2020.

Now, the argument could be made that they’re still $5000000 short of where they should be, but that’s not the argument I’m making. Because it’s not an argument. Let’s assume just for kicks that Ford used his head for more than a hat rack. Say he left that money untouched last year. OR reallocated it to some other health initiative–like, maybe, say, an initiative to make more masks and respirators available in hospitals so we’re not, you know, reusing. Basically, anything other than what we ended up doing. How much of a difference would that have made today?

If reducing the deficit was actually the goal here, ignoring the fact for a second that we’re still spending more under this government than we were the last one, we missed. Of all the cuts, that one has to sting the most. Too bad confidence is low they’re smart enough to feel it. So much for Ontario’s Conservative government. If you’re not going to help, at least give us something to show for it. This… is not that.

This was not what I meant when I said I wanted to try Corona.

If there’s one good thing that’s come out of this whole Covid-19 mess, besides me having time to actually do moderately useful things with this platform, it’s that I finally get to see how I’d do if I had a mostly working from home job. It helps that nothing about my job requires I physically be in the office to begin with, but it’s nice to be able to quantify what that means. That being said, I was kind of hoping my first Corona would be just slightly different–and, ideally, not result in the ruining of anyone’s life but my own.

I don’t know if the fact this mess came on so quick scares me more, or the fact most places still have no clue what to do with/about it and we’re a month into this thing. Surprisingly, neither our provincial nor our federal government have entirely gummed up the works yet, but there’s still plenty of time for one or both to trip over themselves–and both Doug Ford and Justin Trudeau are shockingly good at tripping over themselves at inopportune times. But right now, I don’t feel like slapping either of them. That’s a first.

I haven’t touched this thing in over 2 years, which I think is the longest I’ve gone without at least making sure it was still breathing. Note to self: this was a good habit to get into–stay there this time. Unfortunately, me not touching this thing for a couple years didn’t do this place any favours. Code that hadn’t seen an update since 2015 was still floating about like it had a place to be. So a quarantine project of mine has been to clean that up. Half the junk that was here I’d forgotten I put here, so that’s a thing. Now, at least, when I remember to use it, the platform should run slightly faster. Or it’s fired.

Life’s been pretty much turned up side down everywhere. Except probably a couple places in the US that are up for nomination at this year’s Darwin awards. If I had a routine of any sort, the province’s not quite a lockdown would have probably torn it to pieces. As it is, I’m noticing even the small things I would normally do just because they were handy have gotten complicated. Going for a walk to the convenience store next door just for an excuse to be somewhere else, for example. And coming back with a couple slices of really good, really cheap pizza because I might as well seeing as I was already there. Stuff I don’t notice I do semi-regularly until it becomes no longer an option.

I’m not sure if I’ll like where we’re going once we come out the other side of this thing. Mostly because I have no idea what the other side will look like. Will there be more working from home? Will talk of a basic income actually go places? Will I land somewhere that wants to do more than pay peanuts for a metric ton of work? I have no clue. A bunch of people who are presently working from home would like to think this is the new normal. The way the government’s spending money now on an emergency response to Covid-19 than any level has ever spent on a social safety net in as long as I’ve been breathing, and there’s a bunch of people who don’t currently qualify that are hoping this becomes the new floor. I got an email from an HR person saying they want to talk to me after the dust settles, so I’m semi-hoping there’s a job offer attached to that conversation. But I have absolutely no clue. The only thing I know for certain, this was not exactly what I meant when I said I wanted to try Corona. Yall can have this back, now.