America: 30 seconds at a time

I’ve always been fascinated with people watching.  Seeing smiles on faces energizes me like sunlight energizes Superman. I especially like seeing different cultures and how the react tio the same things, and observing different towns and communities and noticing the subtle differences.

Sometimes it’s the little things, like the change of a font on the street signs, or how some cities handle their stop lights and advanced green signals that amuses me. Sometimes it’s more cultural.

I live in Ontario, where we’re known for bagging our milk, and thinking Toronto is the center of the universe. Apparently I also say “mouth” a funny way. A woman from Seattle once told me I was free to say mouth any time, as it brought her smiles.

One of the unique properties of a Southern Ontario upbringing in the 60’s and 70s was having a much wider TV selection than most places. In many US cities, they had ABC, CBS and NBC in the early days. Living where I did, with a metal antenna up the side of our home, we received those US staples, but also Canadian networks CBC and CTC from a few different cities. Later, we expanded to include Global and CITY TV. When I was 13 or 14, I actually had almost a full section of 13 channels. Most of North America had 5 or less.

In the days before Cable TV petitioned for the rights to replace US broadcasts with Canadian simulcasts, this meant I could watch the major US TV shows on Canadian channels or US channels and see the difference in culture through their commercials. It has always fascinated me. Local culture is always best displayed through commercials. I’ve been a fan of those differences.

Today, I don’t get as many opportunities to witness American commercials. Almost all the shows I can watch on cable are streamed with Canadian commercials, even on the American channels. It’s rare to get to see a show with the US feed, either from Buffalo, Chicago or some other US city.

Today, while watching a show called Rosewood, I happened to record a later version which airs after midnight on a Fox affiliate. Usually I record the 8pm version on a secondary CTV channel from Hamilton.  At first, I didn’t notice anything different, as I fast forwarded right to the start of the episode. During the running of the opening credits, I was surprised to see a “FOX PRESENTS” banner above the title. Interesting I thought, as we don’t see that version here, and it looked like it was a poorly added graphic overlay that was done later, but a different graphics team. Perhaps the Detroit Fox affiliate likes to self promote. I can’t knock them for that. Here in Canada, the competition between networks is getting fierce, and I’ve noticed we’re doing the same. Almost every show starts out with a banner from the parent company now. Sadly there are fewer, as almost all TV in Canada is presented by only three companies. Since many people also download, adding a branding to the credits makes sense.

Where I really noticed the change however, was at the very first commercial break. I paused to write this blog almost instantly. The very first commercial was amazing to me. It was for Lyrica. A medication so bold, it even has lie in it’s name.

Fibromyalgia. It’s one of those semi mysterious conditions that is often diagnosed to people who are sore or tired without obvious explanation. For this reason, it is somewhat controversial, and is often over diagnosed to people. I know almost nothing about it, so I am aware I may offend legitimate sufferers by saying it’s not always a real thing. I accept that judgement. I am a pain wimp, and I don’t want to belittle anyone’s else’s agony.

I did however, find the wording in the commercial almost comical. It’s obvious lawyers are terrified of the litigious American market, but still want to advertise. We have very different last in Canada, and have substantially less medication marketing allowed. I have no doubt if the laws were different, Canada would be flooded with similar ads, but for now, it remains a very America thing. Commercials in the USA are shockingly fear based.

After a few shots of very depressed looking worn down women discussing their loss of energy, they proclaim their doctor has prescribed this drug. These words follow above a “DRAMATIZATION” of a purple body figure with lots of interconnected lights flying slowly around a figure; “Fibromyalgia is thought to be the result of overactive nerves. Lyrica is believed to calm these nerves.  For some, Lyrica can significantly relieve Fibromyalgia pain.”

I found this statement to be very well crafted to indicate, for most, it will do nothing. They don’t actually say anything. The product is a theory, or at the least, something that only works sometimes because nobody is really certain what Fibromyalgia is. Following this, is the nearly 15 second list of side effects the drug may have. These include trouble breathing, rash, hives, blurry vision or suicidal thoughts or actions. The most common side effects however, seem to be the exact effects described 20 seconds previously as the symptoms of Fibromyalgia.

They end the long list with; Don’t drink alcohol. and the text; Lyrica is not a narcotic or antidepressant. I especially love the words; Those who have had a drug or alcohol problem may be more likely to misuse Lyrica, meaning any problems resolution in addition are your fault, not theirs.

Drugs ads are hilarious to me, as a Canadian. Sometimes the listed side effects are longer then the promotional or beneficial descriptions. Drug companies just need enough time to tell you you’re probably sick and should ask your doctor about this drug. Then blah blah blah blah blah for the rest of the ad. I understand all these side effects are listed on the package or a sheet inside the bottles, even in Canada, and I understand it’s a law, and probably even a good idea to have them clear in a commercial, booth for health and legal reasons… but it’s still funny.

The commercial ends with the tag; See our ad in HEALTH, which I assume is a magazine.  The commercial ends with photos of the worn out ladies now enjoying a camping trip with her family, and the next commercial begins.

It’s an add for a credit card, aimed at terrifying you about scam artist contractors, and how their product tells the truth. 1% Cashback. It neglects to inform you of the interest rates. I was almost surprised it didn’t have a long disclaimer with it, or at least teeny unreadable text… but I guess banks have a better lobby group against being honest in ads about the downsides. It was only a 15 second spot anyway, leaving hardly enough time for a fast talking announcer to say something like; “credit card companies may cause financial grief, loss of relationships and/or everything you own. Do not use while intoxicated or after 4am. Side effects may include suicidal thoughts or actions”.

The following ads were more national, and similar to Canadian ads, although the Glad garbage bag ad was still quite fear based. It solved the problem of your mother smelling a stink when she comes to visit. You need Glad Garbage bags to eliminate that odour. Not having glad bags may result in suicidal thoughts or actions.

It didn’t say that in the ad, but like many US commercials, that side effects of suicidal thoughts or actions if you don’t buy their product, or elect their candidate or ask your doctor about their medicine is implied. Maybe the solution to America’s suicide violence problem is just getting the right garbage bags.

End of Part 1.

 

​Mandatory Political Opinion Blog

It seems natural that everyone who blogs and perhaps, who breathes, should have some form of political opinion about the 2016 Election. People who have lived through more than one in their interest years has to agree this one is unlike anything we’ve experienced in the United States, and more than any other, It has drastically educated half the people. We’ve learned that the other half, are way more ignorant that we could have every known.
I have been heard speaking previously, that I had never actually met and respected, anyone who seriously utters the words; Jesus Christ in my Lord and Saviour. If I have, they have politely, and smartly, kept that a secret from me.

I’m not sure I’m ready to accept a friend that believes in magic, and by magic I refer to miracles and supernatural things in the Bible. If you believe the Bible is true in any way, or believe it is OK to hate because of the words in the Bible, then I don’t want to be your friend. I can’t respect that you would believe religion to be true.

I will respect you even less, if you attempt to engage with me any sort of justification. You either believe that your 2000 year old fairytale is somehow an accurate history of creation or you lie.

I can respect people who lie and belong to church. I understand it comes with a lot of benefits to belong to a church.

I believe the greatest invention of all time was Church.
The worst invention of all time was religion.

Society function better with a polite, respectful community for the whole family. When church is presented as a community gathering where people share stories and lessons it is great. It’s only when you teach to hate the church next door, and that your stories contain any more power than a comic book story or an episode of Star Trek.

Everything in our universe is just the story we’re told,
and the stories we tell. Reality is presented in story form.

If you tell an origin story of the universe, and want us to believe it is true, you have to prepared to convert, convince, bribe, or kill anyone with a different story. I’m fairly certain the Bible was a storybook. It would have been an epic movie, if they’d had the technology.

I heard a rumour somewhere that Bible actually translates to “Anthology”.

The political reality show of Trump vs Clinton in 2016 is a story. It’s a story everyone and everybody is talking about, and telling different versions. In some cases, hearing totally different versions of the same story. It is fascinating to watch, especially if you live in Canada and have slightly less fear of the very possible Trump win.

I have had a theory since the very start of all this. I believe that American politics is almost always a scripted story. The whole idea of a two part democracy is placebo. Democracy is a popularity content designed to keep a nation reasonably happy, and not revolt. It is designed specifically swap places every generation. Some times it flips in 4 years, and sometimes 8 and occasionally 12 or 16.

One side has a set of policies and believes and the other side takes opposition. By flipping sides every few decades, we manage to get everything done, and not upset anyone enough to revolt. The Democrats do stuff the Republicans hate, and the Republicans pass laws the Democrats wouldn’t. They can show opposition and claim they fought for it, but in the end, almost everything gets done.

Although it seems to have been worse for our first black President to get many of his initiatives passed, I believe at least in part, it’s because he was passing things Republicans actually agreed on, and preferred to take credit under their power on the next swap. Republicans were sore losers that the first black president was the one that finally brought in a workable healthcare system, after everyone else just promised it in their speeches, and failed.

I believe that Hillary really wants to be President. She wanted it before Obama. She wanted to be President so bad, and she lost out to a black man, in a country where a lot of people are still very prejudice. They elected a black man over a woman.

During that time, Hillary was a clear loser and began a reputation of negativity. From my perspective, it seemed not to be fairly deserved. There is an obvious double standard that woman are only respected if they seem “womanly” and those with confidence are deemed bitchy or unlikable. Hillary isn’t a TV celebrity beautiful person. She is a politician. A good one it seems.

I believe people in power told her she’s lost to Obama, and would probably not get a second chance. Not enough people liked her.

Imagine for a moment, a political strategist who knows she’s make a good president. Washington has pre determined that a Democrat can have a third term because The Republicans screwed up pretty bad previously. A plan it hatched.

“How can we assure a Hillary win? We need to put her up against a sure lose candidate.” is the question in the room.

“Ted Cruze. Perfect. He is the most unliked Candidate we have. HIllary will win against him.:

“I don’t know… he policies are in line with Conservatives, although a bit over the top, but people will vote the party line, even if they hate him”

“You’re right. We need to create a monster from outside the party that will be so bad, even our own party will vote for Hillary… or not at all. But who?”

“Mel Gibson?
No….

“Donald Trump?”

Oh… that’s Goooood. I bet he’d do it too. He likes Hillary. They’re friends. IF we let him advertise his steaks and hotels, I bet he’d do it.

“The comedians will have a field day….”

Everything he’s done, only makes sense if he’s trying to lose votes… but the American people are shocking. They’ve secretly waiting for their first representative President. For their entire lives, they’ve never paid attention to politics. They’ve never voted.

Nobody realized how many stupid people exist in the USA. It’s staggering. People who just pick and choose what they want to believe, and stick with it, against any resistance.

“Donald Trump is my Lord and Saviour”

I am reminded of the film; Life of Brian, where a man is falsely accused of being a profit, or the Messiah, and there isn’t a darn thing he can do to disweigh his followers. Donald Trump has literally said he could shoot a gun down Wall Street and not hit any of his followers. I believe he could actually hit any of them, and not change minds.

The absurdity of the street interviews of proud followers who are admittedly clkuessless on a single fact, except the fact that they love Trump, and he’s right and you’re working. Hilary is a liar.

One of the most fascinating discoveries in this social experiment gone wrong, is that perception Trump’s reality and fact. This is a secret power I’d hoped to be the first one to reveal in my book one day, but the cat is out of the bag on that one. Trump has shown one half of the nation that the other half would rather listen to a story yelled from a celebrity they trust, and facts, and even when presented with proof, they still choose the story.

EVerything in our universe is the story we’re told.
and the stories we tell.

The fact is, stories have always trumped facts. The story is whet gets spread, and it becomes the truth, replacing whatever reality might be.

Just be sure your story isn’t contradicted. You don’t want to have to kill anyone for correcting you.

The simple fact is, a good story wins. I’m fair play certain George Washington never chopped down a Cherry tree and didn’t have wooden teeth, but there are millions of people that will go to their grave believing that, and it really doesn’t matter. The best story wins.

Trump has realized, whether on purpose or by accident, that you can even say people perceive this to be true, so the truth isn’t important. He’s used it is his campaign when talking about crime. People believe what he says, and even to the absurdity of getting his followers to hate Hillary for being a liar with 3 examples. Trump lies repeatedly about absolutely everything, but tells the stories in a way you want to believe.

The best story wins. You can’t sway his followers. In much the same way they may never have p[aged attention tio an election before, they don’t want to hear the fact checkers. They tune to Fox for the after debate praise.

I’m a little sad to see the hate slinging. It’s nearing danger. The purpose of the two parties is to get things done, but as we create more and more hate and social mistrust of the opposition, the closer we come to that history lesson we repeat. We could see war in the United States again.

We could see violence if God-like dictator Trump doesn’t win.

We may not believe the system, much like when the Bush people had to make up stories when the Democrats almost took that win. Whoops. Somebody went off script. We may never know which side was supposed to win.

We may never know this time. I believe in my heart the votes don’t really matter except to appose the public. It doesn’t seem logical every single election in the USA is 48% 52% or similar. Even with the structure of how voting works, it just doesn’t make sense.

I’d hate to see a close election this time around, but it’s certainly possible.

Christianity survives. People are not only content to remain ignorantm, they have pride in it. They wear their Jesus necklaces, and their Trump MAKE AMERICA GREAT AGIN hats, and even wave their Confederate flags.

It’s not me, it’s you.

I often wonder if they wouldn’t;’t be better as two countries… but they need each other.

Special needs.

Whatever the outcome, America will survive.
It’s the greatest show on earth.
I hope they paid Aaron Sorkin well. I’m fairly certain he wrote all of 2016

In North Korea, that statement would be illegal.

Micro Disappointment 

​I learned the term Micro Expressions from TV a few years back when Tim Roth starred in Lie to Me. A crime drama where his team used facial expressions to figure out if people meant what they were saying. 

I believe that I have been using that concept, without knowing the name, for many years to detect emotions and reactions in the faces and body language of the people in front of me. 

Sometimes people’s reactions are sincere, and sometimes less so. If you tell a person that there is a surprise party behind that door, some will be able to fool the majority of people with a staged reaction, but micro expressions may give them away if you know what to look for. 

I seem to know what to look for, at least some of the time. 

Today is a Tuesday and the burger combo is on sale at the local Hooters restaurant.  This is a chain that uses pretty waits taffeta to appeal to people who like that sort of thing. 

When I enter the place, my eyes quickly scan the room to catch a view of these pretty women, and choose a favourite. At an establishment like this, there is usually a variety of looks and styles in the staff, although all are women and most have nice hooters. Still, it’s always easy to pick one as my favourite, even on a slower Tuesday afternoon. 

My eyes catch a beautiful woman by the bar, but her eyes do not see me. 

I take my seat and patiently wait and see who serves me, hoping it’s her. I don’t really chant over and over; please be her, please be her, please be her, but my desire is clear.

With such predetermined hope inside, it is understandable that my face may reveal disappointment when a less attractive waitress two tables away indicates to me; I’ll be right with you. 

It is important to note that nobody is really unattractive at Hooters, but certainly it’s ok to admit men like different things, and I had really had my hopes set on another. 

My waitress happed to be a dark black woman with a very shiny face and narrow features. Not really my personal preference. 

As she approaches me, I do best to maintain my happy smile. I do not find her attractive at all, and although my visit here today is based more on their burger and curly fries on sale, I won’t deny it’s always a mini thrill to be served by a beautiful fun and friendly face. 

I wonder if pretty girls have mastered the skill of micro expression detection, or if they care. Does my waitress know I secretly wished for anyone but her to serve me? 

Sigh.  Another useless worry I have created within my own mind. Tanika was as polite and friendly as any other would have been and our interaction together was pleasant as always.  I order my burger, and distract myself by writing this. 

Now our time together is over. I’ll be back again some Tuesday in the future and try my luck again. 

I’m obsessive about not being OCD

When I talk about being obsessive, people tend to jump to the conclusion I mean Obsessive-compulsive (OCD) and quickly correct them. Recently, I started to reevaluate whether I am OCD or not, because the more I obsess over it, the more the lines become blurred. 

The photograph above shows my obsessive collection of the center cardboard from every toilet paper roll I’ve used since I moved here almost 3 years ago. It is an OCD style ritual, but I don’t need them to be in any straight order. I think its possible my brain is rebelling against OCD in an ironic way.

Like all mental illness, every brain is different and the diagnosis comes from somebody who just counts enough symptoms to say yes. 

I am more obsessed over things in my brain than the TV style that needs me to touch the doorknob 4 times before I leave, but I do suffer the internal agitation when I am forced to skip one if my rituals in much the same way.

As a simple example, if the fabric chain Fabricland is seen or mentioned, I must sing its jingle. It’s a simple enough routine a lot if people share, but inside my brain, I’ll actually be bothered fir quite some time if I don’t. Even as I write this, I am almost obligated to sing it. 

FAAA BRICK LAND, Fabricland! 

There are many other little rituals I follow in my daily life that I did not even notice until a friend told me I was OCD. 

I’m not OCD I barked. I’m just obsessive! 

Then again, I remember when my very first therapist told me;  A.D.D isn’t your problem Jeff , you’re obsessive.

It sure surprised me, until I had some time to obsess over how obsessive I actually am. 

Pauseandblog CSI CYBER

I started watching last nights new CSI series with no expectations. I was curious at most, but didn’t spend any time pre thinking about it. I just turned it on and watched the first scene. A child abduction.

The first thing I noticed was the father of the child sleeps in his glasses. I even paused and rewound to establish he really was asleep.  Weird,  I thought. Do people actually do that?

Next we see the baby missing, first on the bedroom babycam,  which was emitting faint voices, and then in reality.  Typical mother scream of panic and then a zoom shot of the babycam making those same noises, which traditionally doesn’t happen so much anymore.  In the old days, baby monitors used to pick up cordless phone conversations regularly, but not for a decade or so.

On the next scene, we see the lead actress acting quite tough, steal the case from the experts on major crime and kidnapping, justifying this isn’t best served by the experience retrieval team, but instead, her CYBER division which seems to be so new, one guy starts his position in the next scene, and nobody in the police department has even heard of them.  I suppose a suspension of belief is required in all CSI series. The guy who traces the body and takes fingerprints really inst the same one interviewing suspects and talking to witnesses.

So the fact the the investigation is lead by the team that takes a webcam feed should not surprise me.  All of this, because the webcam was transmitting foreign voices.

This crime must be webcam related.

Despite this logic flaw,  I will continue to watch the rest of the show. I know in my heart,  it will get much worse.  They have not even played the opening credits yet, and I’m quite excited to see if it will be a song by the Who.

Unpause

Oh good. They did use The Who. Nice choice. This pleases me.

The team they put together is as demographically calculated as a boy band, trying to fit all the holes of fan types.  The fat guys,  cute girls,  black criminals and the had some guy.  There are three recognizable faces.  I’m not certain I’ll accept Patrica Arcettes non mother attitude,  but we’ll see if the rest of the show turns me off.

The story continues in CSI style, twisting the plot around from simple to complex, and the CYBER team perform fairly regular tech tasks like tracing phones, using GPS and finding SD memory cards with video of the crime, now detected as a babycam live auction for the missing baby. Essentially the team is doing the exact same stuff as any other mystery show, except the techs are the leads, rather than a hand off team usually off camera.

Unpause.

Every show on TV these days bends the future a little,  but I did find the scene where they listen to the auction audio after one of the techs flips a switch and says; all languages now translated and the sound is of the same loud, crowded yelling auction, only with the foreigners now shouting in accented English rather than German, Arabic, and Chinese. That’s more sophisticated than Star Trek translator.

I don’t know that Google will ever get to that point. Translation in their own voice, real time.  I think not,  but again,  I’m still watching.

Unpause

The next miracle they perform attempts to teach us game consoles keep track of every user,  but only so they can trap petofiles. How happy I am to hear this,  covering up any of the other emotions I may have when I accept every device is hackable.  This show could destroy the trust of America in the first episode. It’s more terrifying in some ways than a chainsaw horror film.

If we dismiss the technology in this show as future based science fiction, the premise is almost silly.  If we believe everything in this show is possible,  it’s scary.  I’m torn.

The show ends with a lot of traditional first episode morals and recaps, and even a parents basement joke. We see her deep life long obsession that will play out in serial storyline eventually as The Who plays them out.

A well produced CSI show that could go long, if accepted. I’m not sure I like the cast enough to keep in my weekly rotation,  but I’ll watch next week.

Pauseandblog: Survivor

Pauseandblog: Survivor
Pauseandblog. A word I made up for when I pause, and blog about the TV show I am watching, before I see how it turns out. I just paused on Survivor because on player in the minority said something smart and creative and whether or not he follows through, it’s still genius that deserves some attention.

Whether you follow the show or not, you can understand that voting aliances form, and when you don’t have the numbers, you often get to look forward to being picked off one by one. It may not be tonight, but it will probably be soon. Some players do well in this environment, and mingle and make plans, and flip the game to stay. Others get depressed and give up.

Yesterday, one player had a great idea. He has a hidden immunity idol, and unlike most players, he hasn’t told anyone. Not even his son. His strategy was to give up. Tell everyone he’s done, and ask them all to vote for him. Then he plays his idol, and wham… A shocker blindside out of nowhere with only one or two votes, if his son votes with him.

I don’t believe I’ve ever seen such a brilliant plan on Survivor. It ranks up with the first time I’ve seen a fake idol used.

I unpause, and wait and see if it works. A lot can change in 45 minutes.

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Paging Doctor Blog

Paging Doctor Blog
Since I don’t do too many back to back appointments these days, O don’t find myself waiting in cars with time to share as much as I used to. These days, one of the only blank time periods I experience is when I’m in a waiting room, awaiting a doctor.

So I blog. I gave not been keeping up with the new hobby daily as I promised myself, but I do sound some time each day observing the world and thinking about ideas I could blog about. I just don’t sit and write. All my life, writing was either a chore assigned by a teacher, or a task I procrastinated for work, or an evening activity I dud only in the right mood.

I always enjoyed the writing itself. It was just the starting I have a problem with, for writing or almost anything else.

Today, as I sit in an open concept waiting room, I feel inspired to start because the nearby rest room flush is so loud, it’s humerous. It is indeed; blog worthy.

My doctor resumes in a new space, recently built, with a very public style. The administration for each office is shared with 4 staff behind a glass wall like a bank vault teller. The holes are smallish and most people have to speak in an outdoor voice to be heard, which is exactly the opposite of how you normally want to speak when discussing your personal health issues.

My doctors assistant hates it and us constantly standing up by walking out to our open area to be more personal with her contact. She is sitting next to me now, talking to a nice old gentleman. I get to hear anything I choose to listen to.

The whole area houses offices like this for several doctors and everything else imaginable in one open area. Behind me are other areas where children are screaming. Next to that other areas for waiting on other specialists, for eye, blood, therapy and xray. We’re not all waiting together but it’s open like a mall. Few areas get to be enclosed.

The point is, it isn’t particularly quiet. It’s not as loud as a real mall I suppose because a lot of people are waiting alone, No not prone to open conversations. The people all around me for instance are all browsing old Chateline magazines from 2013. (not an old office as mentioned, or they would be from the 90s)

The funny part however, is that silence is broken every few minutes by an explosive whosh sound. The men’s washroom is to the right of me, and the women’s to the left. The sound of flushes can be heard anywhere in the mall, through walls and almost outside.

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