Sunday, January 27, 2013

TECHNOLOGY ADVANCES?

A co-worker of mine just went to Las Vegas to attend the Consumer Electronics Trade Show where so many tech companies were showing off their new gadgets with all of the latest in technological wizardry. If you are into that sort of thing, it’s THE place to be, I guess. From new fangled Smartphones, to the latest in computer technology, to smart watches, to even bigger screen televisions, there’s something for everyone’s inner geek.


I am pretty sure that since the beginning of time someone has tried to predict what the future holds as far as technological advances go. It's amazing to go back to the old Popular Science magazines and see what was predicted for the future forty, fifty or sixty years ago. Flying cars in everyone’s driveway, jet packs, robot maids, Earth colonies on Mars, underwater Sea Cities, time travel, full meals in a pill and domed cities were all past predictions of what the future had in store. Some of these things are making there way closer to fruition while others are still a long way off yet.

Like a lot of other people I am both fascinated and intimidated by all of the new technological advances. Sure, I have my share of gadgets like my Smartphone and a tablet and I’ve even managed to become more computer literate than I ever thought I'd need to be, but, on the other hand, these gadgets are time consumers and are advancing far quicker than I can keep up.

For me, it’s a patience, or impatience, as it were, kind of thing. Being a slow learner and a member of the “I’ll read the instructions later” group I just don’t want to spend the amount of time that is required to educate myself on the equipment’s functions. I want to be able to do it right now! But it never seems to work that way, does it?

Take this Jawbone thing that’s the latest health and fitness gadget. According to my sources, “the UP by Jawbone is composed of a wristband that syncs with an app on your iPhone or iPad to inspire you to live healthier. The hi-tech wristband uses motion sensors that detect movement and algorithms to chart your sleep patterns and wake you up at the best moment during your natural sleep cycle. ('like that's a good thing?') You can use the UP app to track your food habits by keeping a food journal of all of your meals. To ensure you stay productive, you can program the wristband to give you a gentle reminder to move every now and then by setting it to vibrate if you haven't moved in a while."

This is all very neat and everything but should one really need a piece of jewelry to remind them of something that they should remember anyway? Despite its high techiness and its ability to track your algorithms I'm thinking that this UP unit is still going to require a fair bit of administration to chart your menus and eating habits and if you aren't a really efficient data entry clerk your exercise time might be eaten up by the programming time. Just saying.

Yes, I'm as interested as anyone with life being made easier by technological advances but one always has to be careful with relying on technology as a replacement for human thought and action.

"The march of science and technology does not imply growing intellectual complexity in the lives of most people. It often means the opposite"-Thomas Sowell (1930-).

IT'S OUR TIME HERE IN GOOD OLD SASKATCHEWAN!

It sounds like it’s going to be another banner year here in good ol’ Sask-atch-ee-wan in 2013. We’re hosting the 101st Grey Cup in Regina this November, the economy is soaring and people have been moving here in droves. We’ve even reversed the former trend of our population’s mass exodus to Alberta as more Albertans have moved to Saskatchewan than Saskatchewanians, (try to say that one ten times really fast), have moved to Alberta. That’s the first time that that has happened in a long, long time.


There are still many people chasing their “Canadian Dream” across provincial borders but more and more people are choosing to stay in or to move to Saskatchewan. And many are moving “back”, as it were.

In the late 1920’s and early 1930’s Saskatchewan had the third highest population total of all of the Canadian provinces behind only Ontario and Quebec and the fastest rate of population growth in the young country. The “Dirty Thirties” and a World War slowed down that growth and it would take three decades to return the province to its 1931 population levels. And now, as of July 2012, the population of Saskatchewan was estimated at 1,079,958 and counting.

There are a number of reasons why so many people are choosing to move, or return to Saskatchewan; some of which are the booming economy, a lower cost of living and the lowest unemployment rate in the country. Many of the newcomers are finding out why so many of us stubborn Saskatchewanians, who didn’t move out of the province, would have stuck it out here through thick or thin.

Perhaps one of the greatest attributes of the people of Saskatchewan is the ability to laugh at ourselves and fully accept who we are. Case in point:* “You Might Be From Saskatchewan If”—Someone in a store offers you assistance, and they don’t work there…Your Dad’s suntan stops at a line curving around the middle of his forehead…You have ever apologized to a telemarketer…You have used both the air conditioner and the heater in your car on the same day…You can actually understand, and perhaps describe in detail, the necessity for geographical correction lines…You find minus 20C “a little chilly”…You know all four seasons as Almost Winter, Winter, Still Winter and Construction…You’ve required a total of 40 stitches, over the years, for various lacerations suffered while doing the butterfly at wedding dances…..Your pronunciation of Saskatchewan is down to one syllable: Skatchw’n.

No one better exemplifies a true Saskatchewanian than perhaps one of the provinces most famous residents…George Reed. He wasn’t born in Saskatchewan and his legendary football prowess is what brought him here from Seattle, Washington. After football, his other career, as an executive with Molson’s brewery, which he had while he was still playing professional football, too, took him out of our province to Alberta, where he lived for the next 25 years but, then, he returned to Saskatchewan in February of 2009 as Director of Guest and Community Relations with Casino Regina and Casino Moose Jaw.

I recently read George’s 2011 autobiography, which, by the way, should be required reading for any Saskatchewan resident, and discovered that through all his celebrity, his on-field football exploits, his 1000 yard rushing seasons, his football records-it is George Reed the man whose main attributes are best shared and identified as being the qualities that most Saskatchewanians are proudest to have. Hard-working, proud, dedicated, loyal, trust-worthy and humble.

George Reed has been honoured in Regina and Saskatchewan for his on and off field accomplishments many, many times and at 73 years young doesn’t appear to want to slow down much at all and he still, after all these years, has a hard time seeing himself as a legend. When he was asked why he thinks Saskatchewan people still relate to him and so generoulsy support his charitable causes he had this to say: “What prompts people to do that? My reputation, my identity, my presence? No, not really. That’s such a small aspect of a much bigger picture. Saskatchewan people are isolated in some ways, by their geography, their remoteness from large urban centres, their brutal winters, their small population, but they are a determined and proud bunch, committed to making their homes as good as any Canadian region that has more favourable location, climate or resources. They believe in helping each other, in contributing to the greater good, in making a comfortable and welcoming home for everybody.

What I seem to have become is someone to rally around-not a hero or a legend, but a man who shares some of the best qualities of Saskatchewan with its people. If that’s my role, my purpose, and my legacy, that’s just fine.”

‘Nuff said.


*-I would like to take credit for the information on "You might be from Saskatchewan if:"- but I got this from the Club Sask Website: http://www.clubsask.com/ a must-go-to site. Thank you Club Sask.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

2012-A YEAR IN REVIEW

Here it is almost halfway through the first month of the New Year already! As usual it was another momentous year on good old planet Earth. What stood out for you in 2012?


I think the one news story that stood out and hung over us Earthlings all year was the prediction that the world was going to end on December 21st of 2012 so we had the whole year to talk about it. And we did that a lot. Talk about it, that is. I can safely say that I didn’t really believe it right from the start, but that’s easy to say now, isn’t it? To me that would be the “story of the year” if I had to choose only one.

But, then again, there were so many global news-worthy events throughout the year from the Costa Concordia Cruise Ship catastrophe off of the Italian coast in January to the Newport Connecticut elementary school shooting in December and so much more in between it’s really, really hard to just pick one story.

There were stories of tragedy, inspiration, exasperation and hilarity and I will now give you just a few of the more notable stories from 2012:

• The Diamond Jubilee of Queen Elizabeth II marks the 60th anniversary of her accession to the thrones of the United Kingdom, Canada, Australia and New Zealand.

• The 2012 World Expo takes place in Yesou, South Korea.

• CERN announces the discovery of a new particle, (the “God” particle), with properties consistent with the Higgs boson after experiments at the Large Hadron Collider.

• Nik Wallenda tightrope walks across Niagara Falls.

• The 2012 Summer Olympics were held in London, England.

• Curiosity, the Mars Science Laboratory mission’s rover, successfully lands on Mars.

• The NHL lock out begins and lasts into the New Year.

• Austrian skydiver Felix Baumgartner becomes the first person to break the sound barrier without any machine assistance during a record space dive out of a helium-filled balloon from 24 miles (39 kilometers) above Roswell, New Mexico.

• Hurricane Sandy kills at least 209 people in the Caribbean, Bahamas, United States and Canada.

• Barack Obama is elected to a second term as U.S. President.

• Toronto Mayor Rob Ford is removed from office.

There were also some notable deaths in 2012 including Canadian Snowboarder Sarah Burke, Montreal Canadien great Emile “Butch” Bouchard, former Montreal Expo All-Star Gary Carter, Canadian Figure Skating legend Barbara Ann Scott, Astronaut Neil Armstrong, American entertainers Ernest Borgnine, Andy Griffith, Whitney Houston, Phyllis Diller and Larry Hagman, to name just a few.

Mother Earth will continue to spin and 2013 will have its own unique stories. Have a great year, Faithful Reader, and, God willing, we will do this all over again in twelve short months.

“Do not dwell in the past, do not dream of the future, concentrate the mind on the present moment.”-Buddha.

Monday, January 7, 2013

IT'S OVVVERRR!


I guess it’s time to get back to normal, eh? Is it me or do these holidays go by faster and faster every year? I don’t think I’m the only one that seems to be affected by this phenomenon because I constantly hear, “I can’t believe it’s over already!”, everywhere I turn after Boxing Day.

 Actually, I was reading an article the other day that was explaining “time dilation” which explains why time actually slows down and speeds up due to differences in gravity and velocity and according to my sources, “In the theory of relativity, time dilation is an actual difference of elapsed time between two events as measured by observers either moving relative to each other or differently situated from gravitational masses.” Blah, blah, blah... and it goes on to explain how the astronauts in the International Space Station age slower than the ground staff, and everything, but all of this science stuff is just too much for me to digest after I have spent the last three weeks doing nothing but digesting stuff. Different digesting, I know, but digesting none the less. Regardless of the “spacetime continuum”, or whatever, the Christmas season is gone...fast, slow or otherwise...it’s just gone.

“Spacetime continuum” notwithstanding, I guess if you’re one of those Bah- Hum-Buggers, the Christmas season would have dragged on endlessly and maybe one more Christmas carol would have flung you completely over the edge but if you’re a Holly Holiday Christmas Lover then you probably think it went by faster than a speeding bullet. I guess I must be a Christmas Lover because, to me, it went by way too fast.

I think they’ve been debating the “commercialization” and the “true meaning” of Christmas for decades and decades and it will continue as long as the “Christmas Season”, or Happy Holidays, if you prefer, remain as they have for the last few hundred years. I think that it’s up to each individual to decide how “commercial” you want to make it and it’s also an individual’s right to determine his or her own interpretation of “the meaning of Christmas”, all the while keeping in mind that the whole concept is based on the birth of Jesus Christ.

So in an effort to not be too “commercial” at Christmastime I bought an inexpensive gift for our three-and-a-half year old grandson. It’s a gift that will keep on giving, too, and it might even tie into the “meaning of Christmas” and all. I gave him a Whoopie Cushion. Wait a minute, wait a minute, hear me out now. It’s very inexpensive so I am not “feeding the commercial machine” and it always puts a smile on someone’s face whenever it gets used so if the “meaning of Christmas” is to “spread good cheer” and “give unto others” then what could be better than to put a smile on someone’s face or give them something to laugh about. What? You’re not buying it? Alright then, maybe it is a stretch but I’ll tell you that it was one of the best presents he received this Christmas and it was probably the least expensive and we laughed and laughed at it throughout the holidays and I don’t care who you are you would probably smile when that thing goes off.

I hope you had lots of laughter, good cheer and felt the warmness of the season, too. If you allow it, it can truly be the most wonderful time of the year.

“Christmas is the day that holds all time together,”-Alexander Smith (1829-1867).

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