Closed. Not Interested, Blindy.

I don’t use my CNIB card for much, but it has come in handy for Via Rail. Apparently, they use it as proof that your guide dog is a guide dog, which is slightly twisted logic but that’s been the established piece of ID they default to. If you don’t put a piece of ID for this purpose in your file, they won’t send you EBoarding passes and you run the risk that some goof will get all weird about ID when you get to the station. Nobody ever has, but they tell me this is a thing. I have also occasionally used it to get discounted concert tickets, and it’s good in some cities as a free bus pass.

The other day, it dawned on me that I think my CNIB card is getting close to expiring, or perhaps has expired and I should figure out how to get it renewed. Back when I got my last one, I was still getting some orientation and mobility lessons, so I just asked my instructor and she set things in motion. But right now, the instructor I used to have has retired and I haven’t needed lessons, so I don’t have that contact person to go bug. But I never anticipated that the lack of a contact would make the process so unbelievably frustrating!

My first stumbling block was when I called the Waterloo CNIB office. I already knew that when you call CNIB Waterloo, you don’t actually speak to someone in Waterloo. You could be speaking to someone from who knows where. But I thought I could ask to be transferred to Waterloo’s reception or something. No, who you get for reception is who you get. You then have to name a specific person in the office you are seeking in order to get to someone who actually walks and drives and does stuff in Kitchener Waterloo. I’ll talk more about this later.

So, since I didn’t know who the person is who does CNIB card stuff, I told the one who answered the phone what I was calling about. It felt like the person answering the phone knew nothing about what would be required to renew the CNIB card. How much did it cost? Do I have to come into the office or can I email a picture somewhere? Were there requirements for the picture? All they did was say “I’ll transfer you to Waterloo.” This feels a little less than ideal. You would think if these people are going to be put out on the front lines, they should at least have been given the tools to answer some pretty basic questions.

Then, I was transferred somewhere, who knows where. I got what felt like a random staff member’s voicemail. The voicemail didn’t even say what this person did, so I had no idea if I was talking to the right person. So, I left a message and hoped they would return my call soon, because I had this week off, and after that, if I had to go see someone in person, it would get a lot more difficult.

After I left my message, I went looking on the internet, and what I found didn’t fill me with confidence. After seeing basic information from the CNIB about uses of the ID card, I found this blog post detailing the total lack of information about the ID card.

It was through this post that I learned that the charge is $10, which feels like a giant jump in rates since I last had it done, and you have to go down to the CNIB and get the picture done because it has to be a precise size.

So, I went to figure out when the local CNIB office was open, since back a few years ago, it was only open once or twice a week. I found a link which I cannot find anymore that said they were open to the public every Tuesday. Since I wanted to make double sure that was when they were open, I called their number and got transferred to who knows who. I asked to confirm that the Waterloo office was open on Tuesdays and was told that no, they’re only open the first Tuesday of the month from 9:00 to 4:00. When I expressed my disappointment, the person responded with “That’s all the resources they have.” How impressive…impressively pathetic that is.

Let me quote their service description from the Community Links database:

Primary resource for information, public education, programs, services and advocacy for people who are blind or partially sighted.

Should an office that offers such broad services be only open to the public one day of the month? If someone has just lost a massive amount of vision and is coming in off the street seeking guidance, should they be expected to wait for the designated one day a month to just start the process of getting connected? Do they really think that clients have so little to do that they can all come in on the one designated day if they need something from the office? What if, shock of shocks, we work, and getting there on some Tuesday between 9:00 and 4:00 isn’t workable?

I figured out that my card expires on November 6. The next day when we should all march to the CNIB office and graciously accept their assistance is November 7. Although I don’t use the card for a lot of things, it feels stupid to let it expire just because the hours are so restricted. So, I called back to that lovely central reception office and explained the whole expiring CNIB card thing, and the guy actually suggested that I go to Woodstock. I just finished telling him that I can’t drive and am not exactly flush with available time, and he told me to drive nearly an hour to the next city!

Thankfully my story has a happy ending. I left another message on the seemingly random person’s voicemail explaining that my card would expire before the office was next open, so what could we do, and she did respond the next day with options. She was, in fact, the right person to talk to, so I wasn’t deluging the wrong person. I could in fact email her any picture of me, as long as I wasn’t wearing a hat, and then she could take my credit card over the phone and start the process.

I’m sure there are some people saying I could have avoided running so close to my card expiring if I had just planned better. The thing is most things that are going to expire send you letters in the mail warning you that the expiry is coming up, and telling you how to renew. This isn’t what the CNIB does. They don’t even send an email, for those of us who would prefer that over print. I guess they used to, but stopped getting volunteers to do it. It was just lucky that my internal sense that something was due started bugging me. So, if not for my freakishly weird memory, I, the blind one, is expected to look at the small print on the back of my card and check the expiry so that I can go through piles of hoops to get to the CNIB one day a month to get it renewed. Something seems wrong here.

I have a bit of a problem with them consolidating reception to a central location for something like the CNIB. If I am trying to locate a business, and am close by but can’t find it, the first thing I do is phone the place and ask for some guidance, since I can’t very well look for the sign. Sometimes the person on the phone gives me specifics I can use, or sometimes they just keep an eye out for me and help me make the final leg of the journey. If I did this while trying to locate the local CNIB office, the person on the other end of the phone could offer me nothing in the way of help. Considering the CNIB is serving people who can’t see well so might need a little help locating their destination, this feels kind of like a big problem.

I asked the person in charge of CNIB card renewals why the reception person didn’t know anything about the process, and she said they were just volunteers. Volunteers do some pretty intense stuff. I have volunteered on a crisis line, at a women’s shelter, and with people with some pretty serious needs. If volunteers can be expected to do all of that, they can be given some training on how clients can reach services, especially since they are the point of contact.

I was also bothered by the comment that the only reason they were open one day a month and didn’t send renewal reminders was because they didn’t have the resources. So let’s go back to that topic of the CNIB opening up their own guide dog school. How?

I think I’m done now. I guess, of all the services the CNIB offers, the card is not as important as helping someone who is newly blind learn how to live with their situation, but I worry that the troubles getting cards renewed is an indicator of a deeper problem. If the card is this hard to get, what happens when someone needs something more complex?

The first blog post that I referenced had some pretty solid suggestions of how they could improve the process that still apply. Maybe some day, things will improve. Hopefully, in five years when I have to do this again, I will have an easier time of it. At least this blog post will roughly tell me when I did it last if I don’t get a renewal reminder.

Extra! Extra! Read All About It…In The Papers We Don’t Pay People Fairly For Delivering

I know times are hard in the newspaper business, but have things really gotten so bad that a company the size of Metroland has to resort to ripping off a couple of 10-year-olds?

Looking to make some money over their summer holiday, the boys took on a paper route with the Beaches Mirror, delivering newspapers to 100 homes for Metroland Media Group. It only paid about $2.50 per hour, or $20 per week, which they’d split between them.

It was straightforward enough. A selection of flyers was delivered to their doorstep, which they would organize. Then the newspapers would arrive. Elias and Ezra put the flyers in the papers, wrapped them in a plastic bag and delivered them. Since the route isn’t in their neighbourhood, Golden would drive them to the area.

Then one Friday morning, after the boys had made their deliveries, the paper unexpectedly dropped off a big stack of flyers. There was a note: these particular flyers hadn’t arrived early enough to make it into the Thursday paper and they needed to go out. 
But there was a hitch. The boys would be paid for their work, but just two cents per flyer — $2 total, one for each of them. To make things worse, Golden said, the paper told them this same scenario would start happening more frequently, since fall is the busy season, so they’d better get used to it.

Since this is obvious bullshit, mom and the boys had a chat and decided that Metroland could take this job and shove it. Metroland, in turn, decided that because they didn’t give the 30 days notice required in their contract, that they wouldn’t be paid for the last three weeks of work they’d done. But since mom happens to be a workplace and human rights investigator by trade, she was not fucking having this and after taking the story to Facebook, Metroland thankfully decided that it might be in their best interests to stop being assholes for a few seconds and pay up.

That’s nice and all, but beyond this one garbage instance we should probably be asking a pretty big question here. Why is it ok that any company, especially one this size, is allowed to pay virtually nothing to the people who are basically the reason that anyone reads their work and sees the ads that tag along with it in the first place? I know when you’re ten it’s often just cool to have a few bucks in your pocket, but that’s not an excuse. We’re not dealing with Mr. Smith down the street getting little Joey to mow his lawn for $5. Hell, we’re not even dealing with a small town, hand to mouth, independent newspaper. Metroland, to hear them tell it, is kind of a big deal. There’s a lot of horn tooting going on here, so we’ll cut it down to the relevant bits about newspapers and flyers.

Metroland Media provides local news and advertising media/information in Canada’s heartland.  More than 100 community newspapers are published that span from London in southwest Ontario to Ottawa in the northeast, with concentration around Toronto and the Greater Toronto Area.  The combined distribution of the community newspapers published by Metroland Media is approximately 4 million copies a week.
Metroland Media also publishes two award-winning daily newspapers, The Hamilton Spectator and the Waterloo Region Record. Click here for newspaper publications.

Metroland Media is one the largest distributors of flyers, circulars and product samples in Canada.  With almost total coverage of households throughout central and eastern Ontario, combined with delivery verification systems, Metroland Media excels at delivering advertisers’ flyers to their customers.

And Metroland is itself owned by Torstar, which seems like it should have a few bucks on hand to pay some kids and down on their luck adults a fair wage.

I wish I could say I was going to boycott them, but when they own a not insignificant slice of the news coverage in your area (the Record, the Post, the Chronicle, the Cambridge Times and the digital husk of the Guelph Mercury/Tribune), that’s not a thing that’s realistically going to happen. But in my way I can call them out for their uncaring and terrible treatment of important workers, so consider that done.

United Breaks Violinists

Though the reasons why remain a mystery, we’ve known for quite some time that United Airlines and the industry in general clearly has something against musicians who play stringed instruments.

It’s happened again, this time to violinist Yennifer Correia who wound up in a literal fight over her 17th century instrument with a supervisor of all things after being told by an agent that she’d have to check it.

Correia, a classical violinist on her way to play in the summer season at the Missouri Symphony Orchestra, asked for an airport supervisor. But the supervisor said there were no other options. The violin had to be checked.
Her attorney, Phil MacNaughton, recounted what happened from there. Correia told the supervisor, “I can’t not take my violin on board. I’ll pay the money. I’ll take another flight. Just tell me what I can do.”
As the altercation intensified, Correia told the agents that she would appeal to their bosses and asked the supervisor for her name, MacNaughton said. The supervisor said she wanted Correia’s name and reached for the tag on her luggage.
“Without provocation, the supervisor for the Chicago-based carrier then lunged for Ms. Correia’s case and, incredibly, tried to wrestle it away from the musician,” said a statement written by MacNaughton.
“I start screaming, ‘Help, help, help, can somebody record what’s happening because this lady’s trying to take my personal suitcase from me,’” Correia told Houston NBC-affiliate KPRC.
The supervisor said she was going to call security, and Correia apparently responded, “Please do.” Then the supervisor dashed off. That was the last Correia saw of her.

None of this should have been a problem since there are laws on the books in the United States that allow musicians to carry their instruments onto planes with them, a fact of which you would think someone working for a damn airline would be well aware. Sometimes you get to wondering if United just can’t help itself, don’t you?

Thankfully, Correia’s violin was unharmed. Her hand, not so much. She says it was injured enough during the scuffle that she went to see a specialist juuuuuust in case, but not enough to prevent her from making her trip…on American airlines.

United offered up its usual statement, which at this point it really ought to consider plastering on the side of every plane to save time.

“We’re disappointed anytime a customer has an experience that does not live up to his or her expectation. We are reaching out to Ms. Correia to gain a better understanding of what occurred and to offer assistance.”

So far, no pathetic make good offer has been extended, but I imagine those discounted flight vouchers and free sandwich coupons should be in the mail any day now.

United Breaks My Brain A Bit, But At Least Its Trying A Little Harder To Say Sorry

CEO says airline will not use police to remove passengers in the wake of a video that showed a forcible removal of a Chicago passenger on Sunday

Probably a good idea, but here’s a better one. Count the number of seats in each plane, then sell the same number of tickets. It’s not rocket science, though maybe airplane science is more difficult somehow, I dunno.

United Airlines will no longer use law enforcement officers to remove overbooked passengers from aircraft in the wake of a video that showed a Chicago passenger dragged from one of its flights on Sunday.
“We’re not going to put a law enforcement official… to remove a booked, paid, seated passenger,” United Continental Holdings Inc Chief Executive Officer Oscar Munoz told ABC News on Wednesday morning. “We can’t do that.”
Munoz said the problem resulted from a “system failure” that prevented employees from using “common sense” in the situation and that Dr. David Dao, whom security officers dragged by his hands, on his back, from the cabin before takeoff, was not at fault.

It’s nice he’s finally apologizing, but one small thing.

“Munoz said the problem resulted from a “system failure” that prevented employees from using “common sense” in the situation…”

What does he mean by system failure? A computer system? I know that even the most sensible of people can get a little squirrelly when a computer gets involved, but with all these supposedly highly trained professionals on the case, how do we get from that to having the cops kick the shit out of a guy who knows not from your software package and just wants to go home?

Or maybe he meant system failure as in procedures put in place by the company he leads that don’t allow for enough flexibility to treat customers like dignified human beings, which is much, much worse. It’s also not a minor mistake. It’s the inevitable result of policies that are specifically designed to favour revenue and compliance over customer experience and morality.

Either way, it’s a shame that Oscar Munoz has no plans to resign. If he truly cares about the company, that’s his only choice. The company was awful long before he took the job in 2015, but this one’s on him. Truly good leadership starts from the top down, and there’s no possible way that anyone can ever have confidence in leadership again while he’s still on top.

United Breaks Faces, Any Pretense Of Giving A Shit

Listen. We’ve all had a lot of fun with the whole United Breaks thing and we all know that United can go fuck itself right along with basically every other airline, but there are almost no words for this.
https://www.facebook.com/audra.dickerson/videos/10104378182069960/

Quiz time. The distressed fellow in that video:
A: Got past security and made his way onto a plane he had no right to be on and then didn’t want to leave.
B: Got a little carried away at the airport lounge/beverage cart and had become unruly.
C: Was a paying customer with somewhere to be who wasn’t having any of United’s we overbooked the plane nonsense.

No, you don’t want to believe it but yes, you know the answer.

Passenger Audra Bridges, who uploaded a video of the incident to Facebook, told the newspaper that United initially offered customers $400 and a hotel room if they offered to take a flight the next day at 3pm. Nobody chose to give up the seat that they paid for, so United upped the ante to $800 after passengers boarded, announcing that the flight would not leave until four stand-by United employees had seats. After there were still no takers, a manager allegedly told passengers that a computer would select four passengers to be kicked off the flight.

The man in the video apparently claimed to be a doctor who had appointments with patients the next morning. After he refused to give up his seat, Bridges says a security official threw him “against the armrest before dragging him out of the plane.” According to Bridges, the seemingly disoriented man came back onto the plane with blood on his face and the crew asked passengers to go back to the gate so that United crew could “tidy up” the plane.

Yes, there’s video of him getting back on the plane. No, he definitely doesn’t seem right.

And you know what else isn’t right? Literally everything United did to cause this situation and everything it’s done since. I mean just look at this garbage statement from CEO Oscar Munoz.

“This is an upsetting event to all of us here at United,” CEO Oscar Munoz said in a statement. “I apologize for having to re-accommodate these customers. Our team is moving with a sense of urgency to work with authorities and conduct our own detailed review of what happened.”
“We are also reaching out to this passenger to talk directly to him and further address and resolve this situation,” he added in the statement.

Having to re-accommodate these customers? Fuck off, dude. Seriously. Fuck! Off! You had to do nothing of the sort. You could have found those employees another plane. You could have rented them a car. Bought them bus tickets. Paid for a cab. Put them on a train. Given them hitchhiking lessons. The only thing you absolutely had to do was anything it took to avoid beating up paying customers for expecting you to provide the service they paid you to provide, and of course you didn’t do it. Why? Because as we’ve gone over time and time again, you suck.

I don’t know if your victim is a doctor or not, but what I hope he is is a man with the will and the resources to sue you hideous rumpdongles so far back in time that the stone age looks up from whatever it’s doing and says “holy shit, did you see those dickheads that just whizzed bye?”

If Those Menu Prices Look A Little Higher Next Time You’re Out, Thank Bell And Rogers

Bell and Rogers, the two companies that we might as well call one company since they’re working together on sports team ownership, are now conveniently working together to hold up bar and restaurant owners for more money just as those sports teams are about to hit playoff season.

Bell and Rogers will soon ask sports bars to pay more for the right to broadcast big games, on top of what they pay for their existing television service.
As first reported by Postmedia, the two media conglomerates are asking business subscribers across Canada to pay an additional levy — which varies depending on the size of the bar — on top of their existing cable bill for the rights to air sports channels that broadcast live sporting events, such as TSN, RDS and Sportsnet.

“New sports packages for business TV clients with a liquor licence will be introduced as of May 1,” Bell said in a statement to CBC News. “Prices vary depending on the size of the business and other factors such as the specific sports package a business client wants.”
“We’ve heard that the average restaurant that’s licensed for about 150 patrons, their increase will be $350 to $400 a month,” said James Rilett, Restaurants Canada’s vice-president for Ontario — and those are costs that may well get passed on to bar patrons either directly or indirectly.
“Most restaurants run around about a three per cent profit margin, so that’s going to have a pretty big effect, if you have to make up that cost every month. It may affect menu prices or they might just have to take less profit, but there will definitely be an effect.”

Two guesses which companies also own TSN, RDS and Sportsnet.

This is, of course, a total cash grab by Bell and Rogers, one they’ll get away with because they quite literally hold all the cards. Bar owners can protest all they want and would be absolutely right to do so, but when your choice is either pay the companies that own the teams, the stadiums, the stations and the pipes that bring those stations to you whatever they ask or say no, lose access and a healthy chunk of business, pretty much all of them have no real choice but to cave.

When are we going to start calling the Bell Rogers situation in this country the monopoly that it is and start treating it as such? I’m looking at you CRTC and Competition Bureau, but I’m sure you won’t notice since you’re too busy looking the other way.

Damn Autocomplete

I have a friend who went on an autocomplete nonsense texting rampage earlier this year simply because it seemed like a fun idea. I hope he sees this and decides to take it to the next level. Just remember who to thank when you get all famous and stuff, dude.

A nonsensical academic paper on nuclear physics written only by iOS autocomplete has been accepted for a scientific conference.
Christoph Bartneck, an associate professor at the Human Interface Technology laboratory at the University of Canterbury in New Zealand, received an email inviting him to submit a paper to the International Conference on Atomic and Nuclear Physics in the US in November.

“Since I have practically no knowledge of nuclear physics I resorted to iOS autocomplete function to help me writing the paper,” he wrote in a blog post on Thursday. “I started a sentence with ‘atomic’ or ‘nuclear’ and then randomly hit the autocomplete suggestions.
“The text really does not make any sense.”

Just how much sense doesn’t it make? Well, if the title “Atomic Energy will have been made available to a single source” doesn’t make it clear, have a look at this sample from the abstract.

““The atoms of a better universe will have the right for the same as you are the way we shall have to be a great place for a great time to enjoy the day you are a wonderful person to your great time to take the fun and take a great time and enjoy the great day you will be a wonderful time for your parents and kids.”

And the conclusion.

“Power is not a great place for a good time.”

To make sure it looked super duper authoritative and professional, he took the time to paste in the first picture from Wikipedia’s nuclear physics entry.

Happily, all his hard work paid off. His paper was approved three hours after he submitted it and he was asked to register as a speaker…for the nominal fee of $1099.

This isn’t the first time something like this has happened. I don’t know who was the first to do it, but in the last few years a number of stories have come out about people writing gibberish generating programs or typing nonsense phrases over and over in order to expose conferences and journals that are out to get people to pay registration and publication fees rather than to improve the quality of the world’s knowledge. My favourite example of this phenomenon is actually mentioned in the article on this latest one. Journal accepts bogus paper requesting removal from mailing list, in which computer scientist Dr Peter Vamplew submitted a paper entitled Get Me Off Your Fucking Mailing List consisting of nothing but those words and a few diagrams.

To answer the question I know you’re all asking, no, they haven’t.

A Giant Shmans Update

Tans is pretty long overdue for an update, so off we go.

Back in June, we had our follow-up, and for the first time, it wasn’t with Chuck. Because his coverage area is so huge, he’s started sending people to do follow-ups, unless I guess the person has a huge problem or he’s in the area. Boy, did I give the two ladies who came to do follow-up one heck of a chore. I’ve been trying to find a way to conquer the crazy area where there is some important stuff near my house. But this complex where the stuff is isn’t super pedestrian friendly. It took them a long time of searching and searching, but I think we sort of figured out a new route. They were amazed at how quickly Tans picked up the new route. They called her a patterning ninja. This I know quite well.

Lots of people only see Tans working, and are amazed at how calm she is. I’d love to show them the display she put on back around Father’s Day when we saw Brad and Trixie. When I let her loose, she immediately started running around Trix, making lots of play noises at her. At first, I thought both dogs were participating in the noise, but I reached down and touched Trix, and she was just lying there. Poor Trix barks at Tans a lot when she sees her because Tans is so nuts.

Then, the same day, Tans walked up to Brad, made weird grunting noises at him, and kind of play nibbled on him. What the heck? My dog still thinks she’s a tiny puppy.

Tans doesn’t really care much about storms like Trix did, but there was one particularly big storm with hail and heavy rain where she got worried, and it looked like she was almost insisting that we get inside in a hurry. Steve was out on the balcony, and out of nowhere, Tans started running out to the balcony and then back in, out and back in. Only when we came in and shut the door did she settle down.

Back a few months ago, we decided to get something we could use for exercise at home. We thought about some kind of treadmill we could fold, but we settled on a rower. It has actual water in the tank, and it stands up super small when we’re not using it. It’s pretty cool, at least we think so. Tans, on the other hand, always kind of eyes it suspiciously. She’s pretty ok with it when it’s standing up now, but at first, she would stay away from it when she came in the house, or spend long times staring at it. Now, when we lay it down to use it, she does not like it at all. If she’s not staring at the tank or nuzzling the thing you pull on to row, she’s staring at it from a distance as if it might come after her. At first I thought seeing the water in the tank weirded her out, but I really don’t have a clue.

I always thought Tans was made of steel and was pretty unflappable, but I think I may have found something that scares her. She used to climb into the hatchback section of a car without a second thought. But that all changed after one ride she took in June. It was the night before Steve’s buddy Greg’s wedding, and there were a bunch of us in the car, so we put her in the hatchback section. This is just a section behind the seats. I can reach back and touch her if I wanted to, and she could, and would, lick my ear if she wanted to, so it’s not like I put her in the trunk.

There were a few things with her in the hatchback, but I didn’t think about that. Apparently, I should have, because during the ride, they tended to slide and bump her. By the time we arrived, when she got out of the hatchback, she shook off and snorted a lot, as if the ride stressed her out. Now, it’s a fight and a half to put her in one of those places, and she spends the whole ride shaking and trying to get out of the hatchback into the seats. She doesn’t care that there is no room for her to go, she’s going to try to come down anyway.

I’m not sure quite what to do, since I don’t really have access to a hatchback all the time, so it’s hard to desensitize her. I’m going to try and bring her favourite toy to play with, or one she likes, so maybe it won’t be so scary.

This summer, we were at a lake, and we tried to get Tans to swim. I thought she’d take to it like nothing, but I was wrong. She would come down so far, then stop. When she was carried in, she sort of liked it, but got back out again. I’ll laugh if, when she retires, she once again decides she likes water.

Although Tans has beds to sleep in, she has this way of finding wacky little corners to curl up in, or if she’s feeling especially lazy, large chunks of the middle of the floor to sprawl on. Lately, she has decided that the little space by one of our couches is just big enough for her. She’s so tucked away that I forget she’s there, and almost step on her.

I wouldn’t call Tans clingy, but if one of us is sick, she knows it, and will plant herself next to the couch or bed. I call her our little nurse.

They always say if you know the calories per cup on a food, then you can figure out how much to feed. If they’re gaining, cut it back and you’ll be good. But I have learned that it’s more complicated than that. Back in April, we had our issues with Tans’s food no longer agreeing with her. I switched food, and boom! She was all good. This food had more calories per cup than I thought her old food had, so I thought I’d just keep feeding her the same amount. If I saw her packing on the hound pounds, I’d cut back.

Well, I saw her shedding hound pounds. At first, it wasn’t much, and then more, to the point that the vet said she shouldn’t get any thinner. She also started trying to eat anything she saw that looked appealing as we passed it.

So, I decided to feed her more food. As soon as I did, it was like Tans had gone back in time. She had more energy than she’d had in a while, and she just felt like she had more bounce in her step. She wasn’t eating everything off the ground, but she kept asking for treats all the time as we worked. All she had to do was find something, and she’d start looking up at me as if to say “I do believe a treat is in order.” I’m still dealing with that little quirk, I think that has to do with boredom because we haven’t been able to go to new places, but I’m just so happy to see her energy is back. She’s also gained the weight she lost, so I don’t feel like I’m depriving the poor beast.

Back when she was new, I had a little trouble with her just laying on her bed when I would call her. I thought that had resolved, but now it’s back with a vengeance. Even back then, as soon as I put the leash on her, she would get up. Now, even that isn’t enough. Sometimes I hold out a treat to get her to come, but I really don’t want to do that every time I want her to move. Sometimes I have gotten all excited, but often that doesn’t help. Other times, I’ve had to give her leash a tug to get her up. I don’t know what is the right thing to do to get what I want.

I don’t know what Tans does, but back last Thanksgiving, she shook off her school tag. Now, this September, I noticed her Avid microchip tag had gone AWOL. I thought it would be a little bit complicated, but I had no idea what I was in for.

First, whatever they tell you about your AVID chip being recognized all over the world is complete garbage. Apparently, you have to register it in every country you live in. So if you’re like me, and go to GDB and get your dog there and then return to Canada, the AVID chip registration they do isn’t recognized in Canada. If you want to register it in Canada, you have to deal with a company called PETIDCO, or at least that’s the rumour.

Oh me oh my, where do I begin with PETIDCO? Let’s just say that if Tans and I ever got separated, I think I would have better luck running around KW yelling Tansy’s name than they would have reuniting her with me if she were ever found and scanned. I don’t know what their qualifications are, but the standards aren’t very hi.

  • they tried to tell me that the whole department that handles registration was on holidays. That whole department was one woman.
  • their whole site went up and down so many times when I tried to use it that I did it over the phone. Because I couldn’t use the site, they tried to make me send them all kinds of extra verification by mail. When I asked them why I wouldn’t have to do that if I did it on the site, all they could say was “Well, no, you wouldn’t have to because you’re confirming online that this information is correct.” Hmmm, can’t see anything wrong there, can you?
  • When I did, the person taking the registration kept asking me if Tansy had been neutered even though I told her she was female. They also couldn’t grasp the idea that I didn’t have her for her entire life, and that she had come from the states.
  • After they registered her and sent me a tag, without asking me, they passed my information on to Petsecure, a pet insurance company. I happened to miss their call, and when I returned it, none of them had any idea who I was, or why they had called.
  • Finally, when the tag arrived, it had a different number. Because this whole process had been a clown show, I took tag and dog into the vet to see if they could figure it out. After they scanned Tans, and went to a microchip-lookup site, they found that this was a valid microchip number, but it hasn’t been registered to anyone.
  • When I called PETIDCO back, they told me that she was registered, and basically insinuated that my vet was the incompetent one.

As it stands, I have no idea what to do to verify that she’s properly registered. PETIDCO insists she is, as does AVID in the states. The vet doesn’t understand why she’s marked as unregistered, and I’m left wondering if the microchip would prove useful if the unthinkable ever happened. It’s not a nice feeling, so if anyone knows anything, I would love some ideas.

When we got our bathtub replaced, we lost our telephone shower head that I use to bathe Tans. I thought I would have to buy some wacky adaptor. But lucky for us, when they replaced our shower heads later, they gave us a brand new telephone shower head. Woohoo! I hope we have that one for a while. The idea of finding a groomer or do it yourself bathing station wasn’t thrilling me.

That’s the bulk of the Tans updates. There are some other bits that I feel like need their own posts. I hope you’re not bored.

In Case You Need Reminding That Corporations And Lobby Groups Have Always Been Horrible Shitbags

Weird Universe dug up this letter from 1977 written by a Robert K. Phillips, who at the time served as Executive Secretary of the United States National Peach Council. The issue at hand was a possible ban on a chemical called DBCP, which had been found to cause sterility in male workers who came in contact with it. It was ultimately banned anyway by 1979, hopefully in part because of the balls on this guy (which would be kind of ironic.), but also because in exchange for not giving you kids, it would give you cancer.

To: Dr. Eula Bingham, Assistant Secretary for Occupational Safety and Health

Recently we received the interesting DOL news release concerning worker exposure to DBCP.

It appears to us that you and Secretary Marshall may have overreacted, or at least that is your public posture.

While involuntary sterility caused by a manufactured chemical may be bad, it is not necessarily so. After all, there are many people who are now paying to have themselves sterilized to assure they will no longer be able to become parents.

How many of the workers who have become sterile were of an age that they would have been likely to have children anyway? How many were past the age when they would want to have children? These, too, are important questions.

If possible sterility is the main problem, couldn’t workers who were old enough that they no longer wanted to have children accept such positions voluntarily? They could know the situation, and it wouldn’t matter. Or could workers be advised of the situation, and some might volunteer for such work posts as an alternative to planned surgery for a vasectomy or tubal ligation, or as a means of getting around religious bans on birth control when they want no more children.

We do believe in safety in the work place, Dr. Bingham, but there can be good as well as bad sides to a situation.

Above all, please don’t try to get a ban on the manufacture and sale of the chemical DBCP, because that would cause some losses of agricultural production which would be serious.

Sincerely,

Robert K. Phillips
Executive Secretary, National Peach Council

Freedom Scientific Thinks You’ll Pay Them $600 For Voiceover Training. Please Prove Them Wrong

Being either no longer content with or increasingly unable to continue conning people out of thousands of dollars in up front costs and upgrade fees for its own overpriced especially by modern day standards screenreading products, Freedom Scientific has pulled out its giant testicles, slammed them down on a hopefully reinforced table and presented the world with its plan to make money off of the Voiceover screenreader, which comes standard and free with the purchase of anything Apple spits out, it should be noted.

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Media Contact: Brad Davis
800-444-4443 or 727-803-8000
www.FreedomScientific.com
Sales: info@FreedomScientific.com
Freedom Scientific Announces Apple iOS Training Bundle
(St. Petersburg, Florida – March 03, 2016)
Freedom Scientific has released the Apple® iOS Training Bundle, a new training solution specifically designed to teach people with visual impairments how to use VoiceOver® and Apple iOS on devices such as the iPhone® and iPad®.
This solution, provided in DAISY audio format, contains over 10 hours of high-quality one-on-one training on a 2-GB SD card along with a PLEXTALK® portable DAISY book player. All training is performed by certified instructors from Freedom Scientific, the leading worldwide provider of assistive technology products, such as the JAWS® screen reader, for those who are blind or have low vision.
“After the success of the JAWS Training Bundle, we wanted to address another popular customer request, so we created this training bundle for VoiceOver on Apple iOS devices,” said Matt Ater, Vice President of Services. “We designed this training both as a starting place for new VoiceOver users and for those experienced users who want more advanced training.”
Training includes setting up an iPhone, using gestures and Siri®, and important apps including iTunes®, iCloud®, Safari®, Calendar, and the App Store.
“This training will allow people to gain complete control over their iOS devices,” said Jonathan Mosen, the instructor featured in the audio tutorials. “The portable delivery system means customers can learn to use the iPhone or iPad and VoiceOver even when they don’t have access to in-person training.”
The Apple iOS Training Bundle is available for purchase immediately. It costs $599 and ships on a 2-GB SD card along with a PLEXTALK portable DAISY book player. For more information, please visit www.FreedomScientific.com or call Freedom Scientific at 1-800-444-4443.

My immediate reaction upon hearing this news was “$600?!!!!!!!”, followed closely by “Are you people shitting me right now?”,with a sprinkle of “Get fucked!” hot on its heels. And then I started to get a little sad, because whether I like it or not, these sons of bitches are going to get away with this scam. Why? Simple. They can charge whatever they want for anything they choose, and some agency somewhere is going to pay them for it. A lot of agencies, actually. Things are slowly starting to change, but the prevailing thought even in 2016 when comparable technology exists for lower or no cost is that Freedom Scientific are the JAWS people and since that’s the talking thingie, we must need this so will fund it regardless.

Even by FS standards, this is a seriously egregious money grab. I’m hardly a Voiceover Ninja, but I’m not bad. And when I was learning things and deep in my I want to throw this cocksucking thing off the balcony and forget I ever heard its name phase, not once did I say to myself “boy, if only there were a training program basically as costly as this phone in my hand that could help me learn how to double tap this bitch like a fucking pro.” And you know why I never said that? Because no person of sound mind would ever say that.

Listen, everyone. You do not need to buy this. And you should not buy it, because buying it is only going to encourage them. I’m not entirely sure what the lay of the land is at this exact moment since I did the bulk of my Voiceover learning back in 2012, but I guarantee you that you, like me, can do your own learning for a hell of a lot less than $600. Go and Google the words Voiceover training manual right now and be amazed. The results are filled with links to helpful resources, some of them free, that will almost certainly give you everything you need. And before you find yourself sold on the prospect of the added PLEXTALK, I want you to Google cost of PLEXTALK when you’re done with the Voiceover manuals. You can find various models through various shops, and while it’s hard to get an exact price, I keep seeing numbers in the 3 and 400 dollar range. Or hell, if you really want some Voiceover practice, make it your mission to find your way to the App Store and search for a DAISY app. That’ll force you to flick, tap, type, probably edit a little because typing is really goddamn hard at first and target places on the screen to find the right information.

When it came to figuring out Voiceover, I always found that the best lessons were the ones that had me accomplishing a goal, and all they ever set me back were those tiny little app fees. And when I say tiny, I mean orders of magnitude tinier than $600. And when I got stuck, I’d ask a friend. You’ll be amazed how many people have iPhones and are willing to help if you ask. And unless they have shares in FS, all of those people are going to tell you exactly what I’m telling you right now. Learning Voiceover is going to take time, but there’s no way in hell that it needs to take $600 out of your pocket in the process.