Bike Lanes In Guelph

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I’ve lived, for a time, in the beautiful City of Guelph and often have enjoyed cycling in and around the municipality. It’s a lovely city that is surrounded by rural area, and is also home to the University of Guelph, an agricultural institution of learning. Just north of the small city, located in Ontario Canada is a conservation area called “Guelph Lake Conservation Area” (imagine that!) and cycling to it from downtown is not a difficult trip.

However, there are times especially during rush hour, when cycling can be a bit nerve wracking in some parts of the city. Many of the residents are quite environmentally conscious – it was one of the first places in Canada where sorting through your trash to separate organics from non-organic trash and recyclables, became a law.

The city council there, as I recall, mostly seemed quite positive when it came to ideas about encouraging more physical activity and less driving, but as I wrote, cycling during some times of the day in some areas wasn’t always easy.

So that’s why today, when I was browsing the newspaper online of my former stomping grounds, I was quite heartened to read the headline: “Construction of cycling-walking path on Woodlawn Road to begin soon.

That is fantastic news from Guelph’s cyclists! While it is not exactly bike lanes dedicated only to cyclists, but a path that is designed to carry both pedestrian and bike traffic, it’s a great idea and obviously bike enthusiasts will be very happy with the announcement.

It would be great if more municipalities put the safety of cyclists and pedestrians onto their agendas and did this sort of thing. I realize it can be difficult in some places and I’m not so extreme that I think roads should be closed to motorized vehicular traffic, but where it can be done, making it easier for cyclists, joggers and walkers will make towns and cities a much more enjoyable place to live, work and play.

More on the announcement at the Guelph Mercury.

More Pushup Variations

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The other day, I wrote about some variations on the traditional pushup, including modifications that work the laterals and obliques. Today, I was looking for some other challenging pushups that I could try and came across a video at youtube. Watching what these guys can do is pretty amazing!

One thing I’ve found is that as I get a bit older, I can feel some strain on my wrists when I do pushups and did a bit of research. I’d hate to think that trying to do an exercise that should help improve strength might also cause some damage to some joints. I discovered that it’s a fairly common problem to have some wrist strain when doing this exercise. To help avoid it, it’s recommended that you actually warm up the wrist and finger joints with some stretching before attempting your pushups. I have been doing that and I find that it definitely does help!

So give that a try if you are experiencing some aggravation in your wrists and fingers.

Here is the video I found with other variations. I would love to get to the point where I could be doing the handstand ones – but I can’t even do a handstand, let alone pushups while doing that! I was always very envious of people that were able to do handstands; perhaps that is something I should try to work on.

Enjoy the video!

 

Pushup Challenge Update

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Last week, I wrote about starting the “100 Pushup Challenge” and about some of the challenges  I have faced in the past when trying to attempt it.

I haven’t done pushups every single day, but since I started on July 2nd, 2015, I’ve improved my strength by 5 pushups! Not too bad for an old geezer.

I’ve been doing more than just pushups, too. Got the dumbbells out and have been doing some light workouts with them, including dumbbell squats, bicep curls, reverse curls (love having a strong forearm), shoulder presses, and various other exercises for the lats and triceps.

One of the things I’ll be incorporating into my routine are some other pushup variations. I was hunting around for some ideas and came across a website which had some ideas about working the lats as well as the obliques when doing this exercise. Ha! I am pretty sure they won’t be very easy the first time I give them a go, but that’s ok. I am prepared for the challenge!

So how does one work lats and obliques while doing pushups? Well, lats are fairly straightforward: You use dumbbells to do your pushups on (and you can actually get a deeper workout keeping your hands above the floor and then lowering your torso further), and on each repetition, when you raise your torso, you then raise one arm while holding a dumbbell.

Obliques are a bit different, and perhaps it’s all better explained with photos. If you’re not sure what I mean, check this out here: http://www.muscleandfitness.com/workouts/back-exercises/killer-combo-push-row

Wave Accounting Apps Review

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I have been using Linux for my desktop operating system for years. Prior to that, I used a version of Windows and generally disliked the Microsoft operating systems. However, for accounting purposes, I used QuickBooks and that is the sole reason I had any computers that continued to run Windows as accounting packages for Linux were quite sparse.

In about 2004, I discovered Quasar Canada, a software development firm that had been working on an accounting package which would run on Linux using either a Postgresql or Firebird database. They had a version that was free and open source and once I had that installed and working, that was the last of my Windows operating system controlled computers.

Unfortunately, Quasar never really saw a lot of open source development and of course, the developers need to make money some how. So support for their old version has not been all that great. With newer versions of OpenSuSe (my preferred Linux distro), it became more and more difficult to get Quasar to run. Finally, earlier this year, I decided to look around to see what else I could find instead of having to spend the time trying to figure out dependencies and symlinking new libraries to old libraries, which can take forever.

I did some research at what was available for Linux, and unfortunately, things continue to be not so great as far as full featured accounting. While my own needs are not exactly that of requiring a LOT of features (it’s basically a service based business), I have clients in many Provinces of Canada as well as the United States and elsewhere. It was important that whatever I decided upon would be able to handle multiple tax rates and deal with them. Canada has about 3 or 4 different tax rates, and I’m obligated to know what they are and charge accordingly. Governments can be really stupid at times when it comes to taxes and commerce. They can make things so complicated and it wastes an awful lot of time in tracking and paperwork.

But I digress. After not finding anything that was really suitable, I decided to look at some of the online accounting/bookkeeping apps. Eventually, I settled on Wave Accounting. While it is not perfect, the fact that it is free (for now) is a bonus, where as some of the others have monthly fees. I hate monthly fees!  It was actually some bad experiences with QuickBooks and their support fees that motivated me to find a Linux based accounting software package in the first place: I was paying a pretty hefty fee, yet it did not seem to cover any of the problems I would sometimes run into. So on top of the support fee, they’d want to charge me additional fees to fix their software when something went wrong.

Wave offers a nice invoicing interface along with other tools for tracking payables and receivables. Of course, this requires you to actually enter the information; there is no getting away from that.

If you don’t have a merchant account, you can take advantage still of credit card payments using Wave’s own merchant account system, but of course, you’re going to take a 3% or so discount on payments if you do that. In my case, I don’t need that, as I have my own merchant account and can take both Visa and Mastercard. But that is certainly a benefit to those small businesses that don’t have merchant accounts in that they can still say that they take credit card payments.

The one thing I don’t like about Wave is that there are times when I need to issue two invoices to a client, and they will make one payment on both of them. Instead of simply applying they payment to their total amount owing, I have to open each invoice and mark them as paid, but it then appears as if the customer made two separate payments when in fact, they only made one. Perhaps there is some way around this and I haven’t figured it out yet.

Another nice feature is that you can connect your Wave account with your bank accounts as well, and it will download transactions so you can verify and apply them. That’s a nice feature.

Overall, I’m pretty happy with Wave. But I’m not entirely sure about the idea of having my business accounting and information “out in the cloud” so to speak.

Anyhow.. a brief summary:

Advantages:

  • Nice easy to use interface.
  • Deals with multiple taxes quite well.
  • Can connect to your business account
  • Tracks “at a glance” your payables
  • Tracks “at a glance” your receivables
  • The ability for businesses to take credit card payments even if they do not have a merchant account

Disadvantages:

  • Don’t like the idea of having my information located outside of my office
  • Relies on internet connectivity. If you lose it for a time, you can’t do any of your bookkeeping chores (which is actually something I would do when from time to time, my internet connection would go down).

Overall, it’s not a bad system and I’ll likely continue to use it.

Related Links:

Quasar

Wave Accounting

 

 

Tyranny Of The Offended

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swastika temple

Swastika On Korean Temple. “Swastika-seoel (xndr)”. Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons – https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Swastika-seoel_(xndr).jpg#/media/File:Swastika-seoel_(xndr).jpg

I keep watching what is happening in our land of America right now, and am amazed at how insane people can be. Insane thinking is ubiquitous, it seems. I think it is our horrible education system which often claims to teach children to think, but more often than not, instead of learning critical thinking skills, children have been taught to think about emoting.

While emotions are important, many people today seem to fail to realize that you own your own emotions. And even if lots of other people have a similar emotion or feel a certain way about a thing, idea, or symbol, you still own the emotion you feel.

This idea that a confederate flag can cause offense is about as real as unicorns pooping in the clouds. No “thing” or “symbol” can cause anything; whatever it is you feel, it belongs to you. Any symbol, on its own, does not represent anything. It can only appear to represent some idea or some thing, in your mind. It cannot do it, on it’s own. If you choose to have negative feelings about a symbol, those are your feelings and not the cause of the symbol or idea itself.

And now, we are seeing the tyranny of the offended in America (and other parts of the world as well) who believe that they have some right to not be exposed to some idea or symbol that their own minds have chosen to emote over. And so, they call for outright bans or even destruction of the thing that they’ve decided to let bother them.

I am reminded at times about how people feel about the swastika. And yet historically, a swastika, to some people represented something else entirely than what many today think/feel about it.  In Buddhist culture, it’s a symbol of  good fortune. In ancient Hindu culture, it represents the sun, or magic, depending on how it is shaped.

The symbol cannot cause you to feel anything at all. It is only your mind, and how you allow yourself to feel or emote about a symbol or thing, that can cause any kind of feeling or offense about it.

I think it would probably be a good idea to discuss the very basic philosophical and logical notion that a thing is not the same as an idea and none are the same as the symbol (or word). Unfortunately, this is not taught much and while people often recognize that this it is a true idea, they continue to confuse ideas with symbols, and end up being illogical and irrational.

We’ll discuss this more in another post when I have more time to do so.

 

Ad Hominem Fallacy

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In many online discussions and debates, I read frequent examples of ad hominem or also known as argumentum ad hominem.  This type of fallacy is meant to attack the character of a person instead of pointing out errors in their argument or premise.

Often, people will use this type of fallacy when it comes to linking to sources. Instead of dealing with the points made in an article, lazy people will often resort to trying to attack the publication or the author of an article.

While character of a person is important, it does not mean that an argument they have made must be wrong if they have made mistakes in the past, or have been wrong, previously. It may even be factual that a person may have a bad character (subjectively or objectively; for example, they may be a known thief but that does not necessarily mean an argument that they make about whether a law is just or not, must be incorrect due to their character.

Often it can be very frustrating to deal with people who resort to ad hominem fallacies in their discussions. It means they are too lazy to think about what is actually and precisely being communicated.

People who resort to these arguments ought to be called out on them, even if you happen to agree with their side of the debate.

100 Push Up Challenge

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Ok, I’m going to take the challenge. Have started before, but something always comes up. Like…. a sprained wrist caused by excessive… sex. Yes, that’s it.

When you hit the age of 42 like I have, you have to find ways to stay motivated to keep in shape. Around that age, things start to “fall apart” and combined with other responsibilities, it can be difficult to maintain a good level of fitness. Which means, it can be even more difficult to get back into shape if you have forgotten about the maintenance part of it.

I once got up to having the ability, strength and endurance to do just over 30 repetitions of pushups. I’m not sure what stopped me from continuing on; if I recall it was some forgetful days after some major partying that went on. But, I don’t really recall exactly. Because the partying made me forgetful. I think that was it.

So today, I was able to do a full 12 reps of pushups. Then I tried a second set and got to about 7 before my arms totally collapsed and I could not eke out one more. But that’s fine; at least I have a baseline and know what I need to do and how far I must go to get to 100 pushups. Perhaps I’ll start with a more manageable goal of about 50 for now. If I can get to 50, I’ll be happy and my pectorals will be starting to put on some muscle mass that I’ve lost in the past ten years.

I followed the training suggestions at the 100 Push Up Challenge website to get to the 30 pushup mark back when I was doing that. It does work, and it is hard at first. But that’s ok. Working hard will get my muscles hard again. That and with eating good sources of protein along with lots of vegetables and a diet very low in sugar. I know.. some people claim you need to eliminate sugar, but I’m not ready to do that just yet. I need my “double double” coffee in the mornings (double shots of cream, two heaping teaspoons of sugar).

Join me and check out the 100 Push Up Challenge Website: http://www.hundredpushups.com/

Tips for Extracting the Argument from any Discourse

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Most arguments you’ll deal with — outside of a logic textbook — will not be nicely formatted into clearly marked premises and conclusions. In normal writing and dialogue, premises are not always presented in the most logical order, some premises are implied and not stated at all, and some are lumped together in such a way that two or three premises are expounded in one sentence. There are, however, a number of contextual clues that can help you extract and reconstruct the argument in these cases.

There are certain keywords, or textual indicators, that will help you identify some of the premises and conclusions in an argument. Words and phrases such as: since, for, because, given that, subsequently, inasmuch as, etc. are textual indicators of a premise. Words like: therefore, hence, consequently, it follows, accordingly, etc. can be good indicators of a conclusion. While these words are not always used in this fashion, they are a good place to start when attempting to extract an argument from normal speech.

In long arguments containing multiple/nested sub-arguments, go through the piece carefully, and starting with the keyword method, highlight all the statements that appear to be premises and conclusions. Once that is done, map them out in either an outline or a diagram in order to analyse the argument.

Be generous: most arguments will have implied or missing premises. Add the necessary premises you know the author intended, even if she didn’t explicitly state them.