My Dogs Raise a Security Concern

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Dear Provider of Food and Thrower of Balls;

We, your loving canine companions, and security force are writing this note to alert you to a grave threat to the safety of the Den.

You are likely aware that we both enjoy looking out the window at the things that wizz past the den day and night.  We especially like the ones with the bright flashing lights and the funny howling.

However, there is one of these things that stops frequently,  and we are both extremely worried that you seem oblivious to the threat it brings to the Den!

We believe the human term for this thing is “BLOODY HELL, CALM DOWN! IT’S ONLY A  BUS!”,  as this is what you bark every time we alert you to its presence.

As you know,  when we hear the squeak the BLOODY HELL, CALM DOWN! IT’S ONLY A BUS! makes when it stops,  we will stop whatever we are doing and run to the windows to bark as loudly as we can in order to let the murders it brings to the neighbourhood that the pickings are easier at other dens.

You’re a pretty relaxed human,  but its reached the point where we wonder if you are taking the threat seriously!

We are worried that you won’t recognize the danger as the murders who climb off the BLOODY HELL, CALM DOWN! IT’S ONLY A BUS! all look different!  Some of them are small humans.  Maybe not a big threat when alone,  but they often travel in packs!

You do realize that these murderous bastards arrive very close the Den,  right?

We also want to point out that this has been going on for a very, very long time!

The implication should be obvious!

There are likely very few people in the area left to murder,  so it won’t be long before our loud and viscous barking won’t keep them away!

We’re worried that you keep answering The Door when someone knocks, despite our warnings and constantly getting in your way when you try to open it.

And seriously….do you think holding us back is a good idea?!  You could get murdered while holding on to our collars and we’d be helpless to defend you!

If you get murdered who would bring us food and throw our balls?   The cat???

In short, we hope you smarten up, and start taking the security of the Den seriously.

Love,

Kharma and Colorado.

dogs

An Impasse

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I haven’t worked since the end of November.

I became embroiled in a dispute with my employer after I filed a complaint naming two senior employees.

It took months, but that issue was resolved in my favour.  Leaving me unemployed but with adequate resources to start life anew.

In the past few months I have battled severe depression,  anxiety, and a fair amount of stress.

3 days after everything was over,  I suffered a heart attack.

Just as I was getting to the point where I could return to normal activities, I badly sprained an ankle.  So bad that I couldn’t sit for long periods of time without elevating it.

My ankle is almost fine (although its throbbing while I sit here typing this).

So now that I, in my own opinion, am ready to tackle life again, I find myself at an impasse.

I’m trying to decide whether to look for work,  or take a serious, honest shot at getting a software company off the ground.

For years I was offered jobs where potential employers would, in the words of one, “treat you like a rock star because you’ll make us tons of money!!”.

While not motivated by money,  at age 50 I’m thinking about my future and retiring with no mortgage and “tons of money” sounds very appealing.

But, I’ve lots of ideas for marketable products, and would really like to make a go of starting my own company.

I figure that I can go a far number of months with no income.   That will give me enough time to develop a product to the point where I could look for investors, if not out and out have it generating income.

But, there’s always the possibility of failure and ending up with nothing.

On the other hand,  if I went back to working for someone else,  that money could go towards needed things for the house, and wanted things…like my dream vacation to St. Petersburgh Russia and a multi-day tour of The Hermitage Museum.

I’m coming out of a week long heavy depression,  so this issue is taking more brain power than I have on hand.

Anyone have any thoughts they’d like to share?

 

 

 

So I had a Heart Attack

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Monday morning at around 3am I was  jarred from sleep by severe chest pain.
It was sharp and burning… Not the pressure one expects with a cardiac event.
For years I would get chest wall pain (costal chondritis)  when anxious,  and I thought that’s what this was.
Nothing worked to relieve the pain
I have a very high tolerance for pain,  so 3 hours later when I realized I was whimpering I dialled 911.
Very surreal doing that.
I was rushed to the local ER.
As they ran tests,  I over heard someone say,  “The cath lab in Kitchener can take him right now.”
I thought “Poor bastard.”
Then the doctor comes to me and tells me that I’m the poor bastard.  He put it differently.. Telling me that I was having a heart attack and was going to be taken to St.  Mary’s Hospital in Kitchener for an angiogram.  A procedure where they look for blood clots and remove them..
The pain was incredible and not alleviated by morphine.
They found the clot and got rid of it and put in a stent.  Ive been virtually pain free since.
I spent a day in the ICU there before being transferred back to Stratford where I’m currently incarcerated on the telemetry unit.
I say incarcerated because that’s what it feels like.
I cannot leave my bed space because I’m on isolation precautions on account for my pneumonia.
Oh,  I have pneumonia.
Those who know me will know that being in a situation where I have to rely on others is driving me nuts.
I miss my dogs terribly,  but I know they’re okay,  I have friends looking in on them.
The biggest thing moving forward is the massive adjustment in attitude and lifestyle that will be required.
I’m talking more than just being healthy and active,  but becoming comfortable with the idea of letting people know when I need help,  especially when I’m vulnerable.
Since this has happened the out pouring of love and support has been wonderful,  so much so that I was brought to tears several times.
So,  yet again I am reminded that I am not alone,  and that I am loved.
I’m typing on my phone,  so it’s hard to say all the things I want to.

In fact I’ll sign off for now.

Don’t worry about me,  I’ll be okay.

Life is Good…Finally

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It has been pointed out that I’ve been relatively silent for the past week or so.

Normally this is a bad sign.  When depression sets in that’s what I do.  I fall silent.  I avoid contact.  I try not to be a nuisance,  and above all else I avoid letting anyone know that I’m hurting.

That is not the case here.

Despite the fact that its mid-February which is typically the worst part of the year for me in terms of mental health.

I’m okay.

I’m better than okay.

I’ve been trying to wrap my head around it.

I discussed it with my psychiatrist who was pleased to see the insight I was showing into my own progress.

I first realized it when I blurted out, to an empty room, and for no reason at all, “Life is good!”

That surprised me.

These unprompted, sudden exclamations to no one in particular aren’t new to me.  But until now they were heavily negative.  Usually, “I hate my life!”.

Honestly, I did.

The past few years have been hard.

I won’t go into details.  Some of you know the meat of it.

It got much worse towards the end of 2015.  Terrible in fact.

It is with a bit of humour that, at this point, I let you know that my answer to anyone who asked me if I was suicidal was,  “No,  I have too much to do yet.”

And then I found that I had lost almost everything that was important to me…..I no longer “had too much to do.”

Then I found that I didn’t lose everything that was important to me….my eyes were opened to the fact that there were a great many people who cared about,  and not, as I suspected,  because of what I could do for them.

What I found was that I have friends.  Good friends that I could tell that things weren’t good.

What I did lose was what I thought was my purpose in life.

I suddenly found myself with no one to look after,  no one to protect,  no mission,  no purpose except to get through each day.

I can’t recall a time when I didn’t have some external thing that kept me going.

But there I was….

It was terrifying.   The lack of purpose consumed my every waking thought.

Emotionally,  psychologically,  spiritually I hit bottom.

It may have been the best thing that happened to me.

It was just last week that I realized that what I thought was a horrible emptiness,  was a blessing.

I had no one to rescue.  Nothing to fix……except me.

I didn’t even realize that I was doing it.  But I started working through the issues I pushed down,  or blotted out while helping others.

Eventually I noticed that my thinking was much clearer.  My thoughts are calmer, even when contemplating things that would normally cause me a great deal of distress.

At the same time,  I’ve allowed myself to get angry over things that I should, rightfully, get angry over.  That’s always been a difficult thing for me.

I think the most important thing I’ve come to accept is that I am important,  and, so long as I’m not a complete asshole about it,  it’s perfectly okay to put my needs ahead of others (except my dogs, and cat).

So yeah,  I feel better than I have in years.

Life is good…..finally.

 

 

Things Improv Taught Me About Myself

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For the second year in a row I’m taking an Improv class taught by the St. Marys Community Player’s Liane Gregory-Sterritt.

Last year I was somewhat startled to realize how much improv classes were teaching me about myself.   More on that in a bit.

Last year I was happy to find that improv made it possible for me to come back with responses much faster than before.

We’ve all had those moments where 3 days after a conversation with someone you think, “OMG, I should’ve said this..!”

With improv that happens less and less because you become accustomed to listening and accepting what people are saying.

You might think you’re already doing that.  But I think many would realize that they don’t after taking improv.

Here’s an example:

Before Improv:

Boss:   I think we should move to an open office concept to increase productivity!

You: [thinking]  WTF?!!  This guy is an idiot,  I HATE it when he reads management blogs written by unemployed managers!  What if I say this,  or that, or maybe if I say something like that, he’ll come back with this and I can counter with….
[saying]:  [nothing]

After Improv:

Boss:   I think we should move to an open office concept to increase productivity!

You: [saying]   That’s an interesting idea,  but we’re knowledge workers whose jobs require a great deal of focus and concentration.   The fewer distractions, the more productivity!

In this year’s intermediate class Liane has been hammering home an interesting point…

Thinking is BAD!  (In Improv…not in real life!)

When you roll this in with the concepts of Accepting and SUPER-Accepting it makes sense.

One of the things that makes Improv so much fun for both the improver and the audience is that its unscripted.

What that means is that no one knows where the scene will go.   As an Improv’er you cannot dictate where the scene goes….no matter how hard you try.   Like most Improv’ers I’ve learned this from experience.

Its also generally unacceptable to stop a scene and say to your fellow Improv’er, “WTF was that??”

Actually in Improv that’s a pretty terrible thing to do.

Thinking too much in Improv  is going to show.   You’ll be expecting your partners to see your statement or action the same way you do,  and when you don’t accept they don’t you’re going to tank the scene. I did that last night.

The problem was that I was thinking about the game and trying to plan instead of following what I think might be the most important rule of Improv…

In Improv,  accept what you are given and make it BIGGER!

Now,  to things I learned about myself.

One of the things Liane is trying her level best to teach us is not only Accepting,  but Super Accepting!

Here are some examples:

Accepting:

I1:  I’m a dog!

I2:  What a cute little doggie!

Super Accepting:

I1:  I’m a dog!

I2:   Yes, and you’re the star of a television show that made everyone forget about Lassie!

Sounds pretty simple right?

Well,  if you’re like me and your sense of humour is based in sarcasm,  its pretty hard to do!

If you’re not accepting something,  you are negating the offer!

Sarcasm is all about accepting!  (in case you can’t tell..I’m being sarcastic)

With my tendency to use sarcasm,  I end up negating what’s offered by my partners.

It might be funny,  and it might take the scene somewhere….but when the scene is about accepting,  its not acceptable.  (I didn’t see the pun until I proof-read this!)

Liane calls me on it every time. (and don’t tell her this,  but I love her for doing that)

Personal Lesson 1:   Sarcasm is not the only humour.

Another lesson I learned about myself is about control.

Some of you might be surprised to learn that I like to be in charge.  (by some of you, I mean anyone who hasn’t met me.)

I know that this might make me sound like a bit of a jerk,  but I accept that.  (See Liane, I am learning! lol)

With Liane’s help I’m seeing that during scenes I am still trying to exert control by “holding the ball too long”.

Its a proverbial ball…in that I’m saying too much…in an attempt to control the scene.

Of course,  thanks to my Improv training,  when Liane points these things out to me,  I am able to right off the cuff respond with,  “Yeah,   wow,  okay,  I see that now.”

Because before Improv something like that would take 3 days to percolate through all that thinking I do.

 

 

 

 

My Bucket List….

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Every now and again you’ll hear people talking about their bucket list.   Things they want to do before they die.

I’ve never really had a bucket list.   It might be a Bi-Polar/ADHD thing, but there are things that I’ve really wanted to do,  obsessed about really,  and then,  a few seconds/minutes/days later I’ve completely forgotten about it.

This included things like learning how to ski so that I could do this.  (I’ll stop typing for a bit so you can stop laughing)

The other day I wasn’t watching where I was going and ended up kicking the bucket…well the pail.    As I put it back in the closet I started thinking about bucket lists.

So,  in no particular order,  this is what I came up with:

Rule a small country

There are a lot of attractive things about being the supreme leader of a small country.

I was initially thinking the country should be in a warmer climate.  The thing I absolutely detest the most about winter is the time I have to take to clean snow off my car and scrape ice off the windows.  Then it occurred to me that if I was the supreme ruler,  that there’s a pretty good chance that I’d have someone to do that for me….or a garage.

Then,  as the supreme ruler,  I could go completely insane and no one would ask me if I was off my meds.    I could dance around naked and not worry about my neighbours leaving me notes asking me to please for the love of all that is holy to close my curtains.

Hell,  I could decree that everyone dance around naked,  with their curtains open.

Then there’s the bonus of being able to wear a fancy uniform with lots of brocade and other trimmings!

Of course,  if I ran a country and didn’t have to worry about elections or what other people thought,  I could ban things that piss me off like poverty and injustice.

No, seriously,  I would do that.  For real.   In all the insanity and hijinks I would absolutely decree that security of person, shelter and nutrition were absolute David Given rights.

Find out why Angelina Jolie prefers that Brad guy over me

Seriously,  this has been bothering me for a long time.

Learn Python and LUA

I don’t know why,  but my attempts to become proficient in these languages have always been stymied.

I’m extremely proficient in what, something like 8 other programming languages,  but I can’t seem to pick these up.

Perhaps its the structure and syntax, or maybe its…ohhhhhh shinnnnieeeee…..

Sorry, what was I talking about?

Finish reading the entire Game of Thrones saga

Yeah,  this is a tough one.

I’m 50,  so there’s a chance I might be able to tick this one off my list.

/fingers crossed!

Have something I produce go viral

Yeah,  I’m an attention whore…get over it.

 

 

 

 

 

Image: http://www.ptonline.com/

Why the Reid Interrogation Technique is Dangerous

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The popularity of the Netflix documentary series Making a Murderer has many people asking questions about police procedure and tactics.

No spoilers here,  but the series calls into question many things,  and one of them is the Reid Interrogation Technique.  (wiki)

The case documented in the show isn’t the first time I’ve heard people raise concerns about how the Reid technique can lead to false confessions.

One of Avery’s lawyers states something to the effect of “The Reid Technique is designed to illicit confessions,  not the facts.”

I decided to do some digging, and what I found is disturbing.   The post I’m going to reference is extremely well written, and breaks down the technique in a clear fashion.

You should keep in mind that this post is clearly pro-Reid,  and that I’m not using any other source to show the flaws that I would think would be blindly obvious.

If you want to read it beforehand,  here is a link.

Before I begin my breakdown of the actual technique,  I want to talk about the statement that The Reid Institute released in response to criticism of their vaunted (and presumably profitable) technique.

“it’s not the technique that causes false or coerced confessions, but police detectives who apply improper interrogation procedures.”

I’d like to point out that those police detectives improperly applying interrogation procedures are still sending innocent people to prison,  and as a result end up ruining innocent lives!

The problem with this is that while the police believe they are protecting the community,  in addition to the sending the wrong people to jail,  they are in fact leaving their communities at risk because the actual guilty person is still running around.

Police who operate in this manner….by determining guilt without evidence, or worse, evidence to the contrary,  and doing everything they can to secure that conviction are actually a bigger menace to society than the worst criminals.

I say that because I wonder how many people have been harmed, and by that I mean robbed, raped and/or murdered,  by someone who would’ve been caught if the police hadn’t been hell bent on convicting someone else for their earlier crimes?

To be crystal clear,  I’m not saying that all police do this,  or even most police.

What I’m saying is that every police officer is human,  and as a human being can make mistakes.

Its why we,  as citizens,  have protections under the law.   Its not to make the lives of police harder,  or to make the lives of criminal easier.

Its to protect those of us caught in the middle.

Now,  onto why the Reid Technique should be scrapped.

In the Reid Technique, interrogation is an accusatory process where the interrogator opens by telling the suspect that there’s no doubt about their guilt. The interrogator delivers a monologue rather than a question and answer format and the composure is understanding, patient, and non-demeaning. The goal is making the suspect progressively more and more comfortable with acknowledging the truth about what they’ve done. This is accomplished by the interrogator first imagining and then offering the subject various psychological constructs as justification for their behavior.

The author of the blog, in a single paragraph does a terrific job explaining why you should always exercise your right to not to talk to police,  and always, always, always call a lawyer.

If I was being pressed to confess by police who early on told me there was no doubt about my guilt I would ask why, in that case,  was a confession necessary.

And I would point out to myself that if they need a confession, then there is indeed doubt about my guilt.

Here’s a restatement of the second highlighted sentence.

The interrogator makes stuff up and then wears down the suspect who then in a fit of exhaustion and frustration agrees with any bullshit they have to in order to end the agony.

If you watch the documentary you’ll see examples of this.

The physical layout of an interrogation room is designed to maximize a suspect’s discomfort and sense of powerlessness from the moment they step inside. The classic interrogation manual Criminal Interrogation and Confessions, which was co-written by John Reid, recommends a small, soundproof room with only two or three chairs, a desk, and nothing on the walls. This creates a sense of exposure, unfamiliarity, and isolation. It heightens the suspect’s “get me out of here” sensation throughout the interrogation. 

So, step 1 is to make the suspect uncomfortable and increasing their stress level.

Its very important that you keep that in mind!

When the suspect is remembering something, their eyes often move to the right. This is an outward manifestation of their brain activating the memory center. When they’re thinking about something, the eyes will move upward or to the left, reflecting activation of the cognitive center.

and

For example, if the interrogator asks the suspect where they were the night of the crime and they answer truthfully, they’ll honestly be remembering so their eyes will move to the right. If they’re concocting an alibi, they’re thinking, so the eyes will go up or to the left. If the interrogator determines that the suspect’s reactions indicate deception and all other evidence points to guilt, then a structured interrogation of the suspect begins.

and finally

 If the suspect starts fidgeting, licking lips, and/or grooming themself (running his hand through their hair, for instance), the interrogator notes these as deception indicators confirming their on the right track.

While I’m sure that the manual goes into far more detail than this,   the fact is that different people have different tells.   The tells as described above don’t necessarily indicate that a person is lying,   only that the question causes some degree of stress.

Also,  deception isn’t necessarily a sign of guilt!   It makes me sad that I even have to point that out.

Let me give you an example:

Interrogator:   So you were out buying tube socks,  but it took you longer than expected because you couldn’t find the right colour?

Suspect:  Yes,  that’s right.  (eyes go up and to the left)

Interrogator seeing the eye movement:  Ah hah!  He’s lying,  just like the manual said!   This is definitely the guy who tore that tag off the mattress!

Mattress Tag under penalty of law

Suspect thinking:  If anyone finds out I was banging my wife’s sister’s brother I’m done for!

Let me connect the dots here for you:

Step 1:   Place the suspect in an uncomfortable situation and do your best to increase that level of stress

Step 2:  Completely ignore the fact that most people find being interrogated by police stressful,   and that stress can be exponentially increased by accusing them of a crime,  and by repeatedly insisting that they are lying.

Step 3:  Once step 2 has been accomplished,  proceed to use any sign of stress, agitation,  or discomfort as a sign that you have the guilty bastard in front of you and there is further need of bothering with any sort of investigation.

If you’re not convinced at this point that the Reid Technique, and any technique that games the suspect into a confession should be scrapped.

Using physical signs of stress, or agitation  as a sign of deception is going to cause problems.

The point to take away from this is that humans are fallible.   Even confessions should be taken with a grain of salt.

People on juries need to understand how these false confessions can happen.   But how many people convicted of a crime can afford to raise that kind of defense?

Our justice system has some very fundamental flaws in it.

I hope the popularity of Making a Murderer shines a light on that.

 

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