Confessions of a tablet hater

I was going to title this “Confessions of an iPad hater” but I realized that it’s not the iPad I dislike but the entire tablet format.

A tablet is neither phone nor laptop. Almost impossible to type anything beyond a brief note or email; can’t read more than 2-3 pages of an iBook before getting a headache; and little stability on a desk or airplane tray. Pretty big for listening to music. Not bad for watching movies. Despite having an iPad, I find myself using the iPhone for most of the tasks the iPad is supposed to be good for.

I bought a MacBook Air with a 13 inch screen for presentations. I like it. Not much more weight than my iPad and it still fits in my small Tumi briefcase. I’ve ordered the iPhone Plus “phablet” and am hoping that will take over the video and reading roles of the iPad. Then the iPad goes to my wife or #1 Son as Charley Chan used to say.

Bye bye Google Chrome

I don’t know if it’s part of a larger competitive strategy to discourage those on competitive technology platforms, but I’ve noticed that both Microsoft and Google’s products are not quite as friendly on Macs as they are on PC’s and Androids. I’ve been on Google Chrome for Mac for about a year and it has become very glitchy through its various “upgrades” over that time.

Most recently, YouTube videos launch or don’t launch with no apparent and discoverable rationale. This last week, when I print a web page, only half the page prints, whereas if I do the same on Safari, the whole page prints. Weird stuff like that. So today I took the plunge and switched to Safari. If you’re going to drink the Apple Kool-Aid, you might as well finish the last crystals at the bottom of the glass.

For the record, I’m not a big Safari fan; I find the “minimalist” approach to toolbars somewhat stressful on my 61 year old eyes and fingers. I’ve ordered the iPhone 6 Plus and all my friends are critical about the large size. Hey, I’ve got big hands and ever worsening eyes, I’ll manage!

Air Canada thieves!

Last week I was scheduled for a flight to Halifax that wound up being cancelled because the client wanted to reschedule the meeting. I cancelled my Air Canada reservation which resulted in a $500 credit on my account. If you want to use the credit, you must contact Air Canada reservations via phone since the credit cannot be applied if you make a new booking on-line (why not?).

I waited a little over an hour for the Customer Service rep. While I waited, I was assaulted by a barrage of ads, most related to some award AC had won as Best Airline in North America from some industry shill paid to select a winner. You be the judge.

I went on line and found a new fare for $818 taxes in. Trouble is, the CSR couldn’t see the same fares on her screen even if she went to the same site that I was viewing. Best fare she could come up with was $999 taxes in, an almost $200 premium over what I could book directly. What a neat trick. Force people to redeem their credit notes through Customer Service and pick their pockets to the tune of $200 of THEIR OWN MONEY. Talk about double-dipping.

No recourse. The CSR said there was an email address I could complain to. Here’s what I did. Yup, you’re right, I took it up the tailpipe!

 

Dirty air

The Economist just published a list of the cities with the dirtiest air in the world’s largest economies. But that’s nothing, until you look at the source database from the World Health Organization, which I managed to find for download here. Find your city and compare it to others. I was staggered to find Montreal as Canada’s most polluted city, despite being global leaders in hydro power. The USA has pretty good air quality in just about every city including the giants of NY, and LA.

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Lies and deception transcend the internet

It’s bad enough trusting the information you see on the internet, but when the last bastions of integrity begin to fall, where do you turn? The answer apparently is: Nowhere! Scientific peer-reviewed journals are [were] one such place, but it seems that even these have become corrupted. From The Scientist, an article about the sudden shift in editorial policy at one prestigious cardiology journal:

The Canadian scientific journal Experimental & Clinical Cardiology used to publish well-founded studies in the field and was widely read within the cardiology community. But since being sold and moved offshore in 2013, the journal is now publishing anything submitted along with a fee of $1,200, packaging spurious studies as serious scientific papers.

I wrote this in response to the question, why do people do this stuff?

A friend of mine is a journalist. He worked for many years for some major newspapers. He also worked early in his career for one of rags that post outrageous “news”, e.g., alien babies, man trapped in abandoned department store revolving door for 7 years, etc. He told me that the smartest people he ever met were at this phoney news outlet. In his words: “They got a real kick out of seeing how far they could bend the truth and still have people believe it”. I think that’s a good chunk of it today, plus the crazies and the worst of all, the true believers, i.e., those who are so clear-headed in their self-evident truth that they feel the end justifies the means.

Probably most important is: Money and influence. I realized this reading a FaceBook post on the purported benefits of Himalayan sea salt. At first it seemed a joke, but the passion of the believers in this stuff made me curious so I did a search, only to uncover hundreds of web sites selling the stuff, backed up by loads of spurious claims and “science” to back them up. It turns out there’s big money in stupid!

Salvelinus Namaycush

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Also known as Lake Trout, Salvelinus namaycush, is a freshwater char native to many lakes in northern North America. It is characterized by a notched tail and its white spots on a darker skin.

My son is an avid fisherman and came back last week with a number of these, each weighing a little over 2 lbs, excellent eating for two people. He also landed a 5lb. landlocked salmon which is sitting in my large freezer for the mandatory week, prior to being filleted and turned into Gravlax. Freezing is essential if one is going to eat the fish raw or cured, to kill off any parasites that may inhabit the flesh, a common occurrence with all fish these days. It is the same reason sushi bars must freeze all their fish prior to use. 

I stuffed the cavity with thick lemon slices, much fresh basil, and a good dollop of Irish butter inside and out, then wrapped the fish in parchment and baked it for 30 minutes at 350. Absolutely delicious, served with my home-made French fries and a Greek green bean stew topped with feta cheese.

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Bullshit busting

They say that you are what you do, but lately I’ve heard the expression, “You do what you are”. I like it, and feel that it is a far better way of explaining the mysterious occupations many of us pursue. This also goes a lot farther in explaining how I got into Psychology and to what I’ve been doing for the last 20 years, namely developing a process and methodology whereby people can freely disclose their most frank and intimate beliefs about companies, organizations, vendors, you name it.  We called this “product”, Psychmentation, and it has been enormously successful for our firm, used by some of the largest and most successful global organizations to better understand how their customers and employees perceive them.

You might say, I’m in the bullshit or delusion busting business, and times are good…never before has there been so much deception, lies, misinformation, disinformation, and just outright bullshit as in the current age of the internet. In fact, I think if the great historians, Will and Ariel Durant were still working on their Magnus Opus, ours might well be titled, The Age of Bullshit. I really do.

Rest assured however, that I am just as much as you frustrated by how tough it is to get at any semblance of truthful information about ANY topic. It seems that every proposition is immediately and aggressively blasted by competing interests, usually with selective information meant to support their opposing view. Before you know it, protesters are lying on the street blockading the embassy of some offending nation or the offices of some corporation. I’m not saying these actions are unjustified, I’m simply saying that they are usually premature and based on motivated reasoning rather than balanced information, analysis, and judgement.

So where do you go for sound, balanced, responsible, accountable analysis and facts? We used to rely on newspapers and magazines, but many of these have either starved to death or fallen victim to corruption in the unfettered rush to financial salvation in the age of “free” information, selling their souls to the Devil. I’ve got news for you…it’s never really free.

I’ve been looking for somewhere to start, reviewing the ownership profiles, Mission statements, and editorial policies of the various remaining “serious” journalistic outlets. I have decided to begin with the doggedly centrist, The Economist. I’ve been reading many of their articles and like the balanced view. I like the anonymity of each piece, crafted not for the celebrity and glorification of a single person, but reviewed and contributed to by many participants.

Many hands write The Economist, but it speaks with a collective voice. Leaders are discussed, often disputed, each week in meetings that are open to all members of the editorial staff. Journalists often co-operate on articles. And some articles are heavily edited. The main reason for anonymity, however, is a belief that what is written is more important than who writes it.

The About section is a fascinating glimpse into the history and evolution of one of the last remaining serious “newspapers”.  I’m also looking for equivalent Left and Right of centre vehicles to complete my efforts to cut through the shit and get to the Shineola! I ordered a hard-copy weekly subscription which also provides access to all digital versions. I’ll keep you posted on thoughts over the next year.

 

Cremo Cream revisited

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I did a review of Cremo Cream a number of years ago. It fared pretty well, although I found it more suitable to a cartridge razor than a DE, speculating at the time that the thickness of the cream might be clogging up the blade. I remember that, at the time, I loved the packaging and the coconut smell, but found the shave quality just OK. A few weeks ago, the makers of Cremo Cream asked me to do a follow up review, as the product line has changed and expanded. I was pleased to oblige with the usual warning that I could not be bought with a few samples….that would require substantial money in at least the 4 digit range (hey, this is shaving we’re talking about, not smartphones). They didn’t oblige.

The product line has grown nicely with just the right assortment; the makers of Cremo Cream have wisely avoided flooding it with all the crazy shit that high-end brands go for, like eye cream, firming lotion, toner, and a host of other stuff derived from the junk they sell women. Cremo is a straightforward, useful line with shave cream,  face wash, and moisturizer. I could see a good clean shampoo and body wash in their future, as valuable line extensions that would fit nicely for men’s grooming.

The main differences between the Men’s and Women’s lines is the scent of the shave cream; Bergamot for men and the original Coconut for women.  I liked the original scent and used both in this test series. The Bergamot is very pleasant, as is the Coconut. A nice choice to make on different days (or you could use both, one on each side of your face for a real zing!). The packaging is very distinctive, especially the shave cream, which uses a hefty tube with a good feel to it. Gone is the original red cross, replaced by a crown. Not sure why. Perhaps, the Red Cross complained of brand infringement, or simply having something that signifies a medical emergency might not be creating the best image for a shave cream! I wonder how long the crown will last….perhaps Rolex will complain of brand infringement.

I tend to classify shave products into one of two categories: Modern and Traditional. Modern products tend to be very slick, slippery, and non-drying on the one hand, but they also tend to leave a slight film on the skin on the other. Traditional products tend to be less slick and require a bit more work to get a good lather, but rinse off very cleanly, consistent with their soap base. I use and like both types of products, preferring the Modern when I’m using a cartridge razor; they seem very well mated to each other. I still prefer a good traditional shave soap or cream when using a DE or straight razor. The Modern products are also less drying, a result, I suspect, of the film that is left on the skin. Unlike many who take up traditional shaving, I am not dogmatic. Like good cuisine, I like it all….just because I like Chinese, doesn’t mean I can’t like Greek food equally well. It’s not an either/or situation.

Cremo Cream tends to the Modern, as do the Cremo Wash and the Moisturizer.

The Cremo Wash is effective, although it does leave a hint of film on the skin. On the other hand, it is not at all drying. I would likely appreciate the Cremo Wash more in the colder months where a Canadian Winter will turn your skin into parchment in no time. In the Summer, I prefer a soap as my pre-shave wash because the skin is already pretty oily from the heat and sweat. What I’ve been doing lately, which may sound crazy, is loading up my shaving brush with a good shave soap, and washing my whole face with the brush, prior to reapplying the soap for a shave; a little homemade exfoliation! Works great!

The Shave Cream produces a very nice lather, whether you use a brush or just your fingertips. It loves water and gets very slick. It produces an outstanding shave with a good cartridge razor (my own preference is the Harry’s line; the best of its ilk and close to the DE “feel”). I also used it with a DE and it was fine, although, IMHO, a classic soap or cream still play better with cold steel. I didn’t have the guts to try it with a straight, mainly because I’m still learning and am petrified most of the time. Did I already mention that I really like the scent of Cremo Cream?

The Moisturizer is effective, odourless, goes on easily and dries quickly,  It feels in between a balm and a cream, with a slight milky transparency. It’s a very good product, especially if you insist, as I do, on a scentless moisturizer. Clinique’s M-Lotion, my all-time favourite is just slightly better, but I also like variety and would see Cremo Moisturizer as an excellent alternative. Chinese vs. Greek, remember?

Overall, I was very impressed by the evolution of the Cremo line and its performance. It’s a modern line for the traditional shaver. Hey, that’s not a bad tag line. If you eschew the high-end modern stuff as expensive fluff directed at Metros, but want something that offers a taste of the modern while staying close to traditional values, Cremo is a great offering. Enjoy…I’m off to a good Chinese lunch, all this talk of food has made me hungry!

 

 

 

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