Insurance Assurance

How often have you seen a news report on an apartment fire and heard these words from the reporter: “..and most of the occupants did not have insurance.”

English: Old Fire Insurance plaque at Little D...

English: Old Fire Insurance plaque at Little Durnford Manor House These metal plaques can often be seen on old buildings, and date from the time before the formation of municipal fire brigades. They were placed on fire insured buildings by the insurance company, to indicate the building was covered by their insurance. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I used to wonder at how people could go without having their belonging insured against theft, fire, and other potential disasters.

I really am naïve about insurance and I would be the first to admit it. The only insurance that I have “purchased” was car insurance, though only collision and not comprehensive.

I am not sure when it dawned on me that “I” actually don’t have any renter’s insurance myself. If there were a fire in the buildings where I rented and lived; or if there were a plumbing mishap that led to losing my possessions; or if a burglar came in the night to rob me; I would have no way to replace my possessions, nor pay for emergency housing.

The People's Court

The People’s Court (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

That is a bit of a scary thought. I don’t know how many times I have heard “Judge Judy” grilling a plaintiff or defendant and asking if they had renter’s insurance accusingly as if they were negligent by not having protection against fire or theft. Judge Milian of “The People’s Court” is not as harsh in that situation.

House Fire

House Fire

I have a good reason why I haven’t had renter’s insurance over the past twenty-odd years. I have never been able to afford it unless I decided to cut out on necessary expenses like food, heat, power, phone… It is true that I have a computer, but that’s something that for myself, I count along the lines of having a phone. I use the computer in a lot of my volunteer work and much of the time I have been using hand-me-down computers or ones I have cobbled together from spare parts. (One reason why I really hate to throw out outdated computer hardware.)

Garnisons Kirke (Garrison Church), Copenhagen,...

Garnisons Kirke (Garrison Church), Copenhagen, Denmark. Headstone for I.P.E.Hartmann. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The cost of renter’s insurance would be a significant chunk of my budget. (My total budget isn’t huge.) That is as much as I would love to be insured. The same goes for most life insurance. I’d love to have enough life insurance to pay for my debts and funeral if nothing else. I don’t have any dependants. The closest thing do dependants I have being my Mother, Sister, Brother-in-law, and Friends. They are not really dependants, but would be more those who might inherit what I leave behind me.

English: ALH House Striking red brick building...

English: ALH House Striking red brick building at the corner of High Street and Queensway, Hemel Hempstead. Now housing insurance company offices. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I think when they mention on news reports that victims of an apartment or house fire have no insurance, it is not disparaging. I think it is to encourage the community to rally around the victims to replace what they have lost. At least the normal physical possessions. Things like treasured photos or other items of sentimental value can’t be replaced.

I wonder… what if there were a form of insurance backed by the government for low-income families? I know insurance companies might call “foul” out of fear of losing profit. But… I am talking of folks that wouldn’t be able to pay for insurance in any case. Or… does something like this actually exist?


Transit Siege

On a recent bus-ride I was frustrated by a common habit that public transit users have.

I live near a rapid transit hub where bus routes tend to start and end. It means that often buses leaving the hub are filled to capacity — meaning that there are many folks standing in the bus, even outside of “rush hour“. This also occurs for buses heading into the hub, having picked up many people with the common destination of the transit hub.



That is fair enough, it means that public transit on those routes are at capacity. With that much popularity, it is more likely that there will be increases in frequency on the bus route and perhaps added routes.

The bad habit I have found that standing passengers have is that they all want to stand in the doorway of the bus. That means standing in the area in front of the back doorways or standing up close to the driver. I have in the past ridden standing by the rear doorway of the bus. You can lean against a partition there on either side of the door. That makes for a more comfortable ride while standing. Standing near the front doors or the back, makes it so that you have to squeeze past fewer people when you reach your stop.



This causes a few problems.

One problem is that there is always a crowd standing by the exits that you have to squeeze through. Often at the rear doors I have seen commuters step out of the bus to allow someone off. That would be unnecessary if people weren’t nesting in the door well. This is after having squeezed past other standing commuters.

The other problem is that with all the people wanting to stand at the front of the bus, it makes it so that fewer passengers can ride. There is no room for people to squeeze into the front entrance of the bus. There might be plenty of room at the back of the bus, but no way for an entering commuter to reach it. It might even be hard for the driver to see that the back third of the bus is still available.

That means that people are left behind at the stop.



Drivers in the past would request that passengers move to the rear of the bus, but I haven’t heard that request of late. I think it has to do with potential aggressive behaviour by some unstable riders. Some at least still request that people vacate the front seats that are reserved for the disabled, seniors, and adults with baby strollers.

A solution… perhaps education… but, the heart is perhaps a growing lack of consideration on the part of transit users. Sometimes, perhaps education might work on people that are at heart considerate. The are the folks who didn’t realize that their actions were inconsiderate. But it seems that there many who don’t care so long as their needs are met.

English: The Toronto Transit Commission's CLRV...

English: The Toronto Transit Commission’s CLRVs #4049 and #4090 travel east on King Street East while serving the 504 King streetcar route during morning rush hour. The first car is routed to short turn at Parliament Street while the second will continue to the route’s eastern terminus at Broadview Station. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

A need for fewer standing commuters is probably another, albeit more expensive solution.

I know on some routes, in particular the “BLine” bus routes, passengers are allowed to both alight and depart via all doors unless they actually have to pay at that stop. Meaning if they already have a valid fare receipt or a bus pass they can enter at any door. If they have to pay cash or initiate a fair-saving ticket they still have to board up front.

Still I think standing commuters will tend to nest by the doors.

I hope the street-level light rapid transit comes soon on the busiest routes. (The modern versions of “streetcars” are returning in major cities.)

I hope you consider other passengers when you travel public transit!


One of Our Chairs is Missing!

English: Lightning over St-Laurent River by a ...

English: Lightning over St-Laurent River by a stormy night in Quebec. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

It is a dark and stormy night, you’re car’s stopped working and the storm is too severe to even consider walking. What do you do?

For most it is a simple call with their cellphone and help is on it’s way.

There is a certain arm of society that face something like that even on warm Spring days. Consider life in a wheelchair.

English: Controller of electric-powered wheelc...

English: Controller of electric-powered wheelchair Belize. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Wheelchairs are intended to be very dependable. Perhaps that explains why a manual wheelchair can cost more than a decent bicycle. However there is more to go wrong in an electric wheelchair. It can be merely an inconvenience for someone in a care facility of some sort, so long as there’s always someone attending.

However the people I know that are in electric “chairs” are not homebodies. They want to get out in the world and that can mean travelling blocks or even miles from home to go shopping, sightseeing, to medical appointments, to visit friends, etc.

English: Wheelchair brake (scissors)

English: Wheelchair brake (scissors) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

While some might be able to crawl to someone’s doorstep and ask for health, there are others that do not even have that option. It’s not like they have the option to get out and check the battery cables.

That’s where a cellphone would really come in handy. I’m sure a call or two would bring help if your chair were to fail you and stop operating.

Picture of a Cell Phone

Picture of a Cell Phone (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I know that in many areas, people that are “at risk” or unable to afford one can get a phone with very modest service for emergency calls. Something like that could help many folks who use chairs. But there are also many in chairs that would have problems operating a typical cellphone or smart phone.

I believe there are specialty cellphones with a limited keyboard. I recall one for children that didn’t have a regular numeric keypad, but instead had 6 buttons. Each button was preprogrammed with 6 phone numbers. Perhaps it might be very limiting to have a cellphone that could only dial a half-dozen number — but if you have only one hand you can use and it has only limited function — such a phone could be a godsend.

There are also cellphones with large buttons and basic functions intended for seniors. Not all seniors need them, by any means, but they can be helpful for many.

I believe that some sort of allowance should be made so that those folks requiring an electric wheelchair to function should have a cellphone they can operate for emergency purposes.

Magellan Blazer12 GPS Receiver.

Magellan Blazer12 GPS Receiver. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Built-in GPS might be useful, but folks that already have limited privacy might not want there to be a GPS device that could always track them down.

I think we have solutions and some don’t even require any/much special equipment.

While they are at it they can make sure that the chairs have some place to support and hold a cellphone/GPS device so a person could still use it if they had limited dexterity.



That’s Sweet

I don’t really have anything against aspartame. Mind you, if I had children, I probably wouldn’t allow them to drink diet soft-drinks with, or without aspartame unless they were diabetic, and even then in moderation. I’d also want my children to only drink soft-drinks in moderation in any case. (That goes for any artificially sweetened food, even foods sweetened with Stevia or agave syrup.)

English: Diet Coke Products

English: Diet Coke Products (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I think “moderation” goes a long way to promoting a healthy life.

However I am one of those small percentage that has a severe reaction to aspartame. It causes a magnitude of increase in my depression to start with, that lasts for days after I have even a half serving of diet pop. It also causes severe headaches that last a day or so as well. More disturbingly, it causes me to get chest pains and for a short while after I would drink a diet pop, causes me to act slightly intoxicated.

Space-filling model of the aspartame molecule,...

Space-filling model of the aspartame molecule, an artificial sweetener. This image shows the zwitterionic form. Colour code (click to show) : Black: Carbon, C : White: Hydrogen, H : Red: Oxygen, O : Blue: Nitrogen, N (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I stopped using the aspartame sweetened products for perhaps 10 years and then when I had chewed on some aspartame sweetened gum, discovered a slightly scarier effect, it caused me to start getting confused.

I would actually be confused as to where I was! That was with just a single piece of chewing gum.

Early on when I first stopped using products with aspartame in them, I discovered that if I were to have unknowingly have a product with aspartame in it, that I would get the effects whether I knew I had aspartame or not. (It was a fruit punch at a public gallery display where someone decided to use diet ginger-ale instead of regular. I couldn’t taste the aspartame sort of berry flavour with the other components of the punch.)

English: Pepsi Cola and Diet Pepsi soda delivery

English: Pepsi Cola and Diet Pepsi soda delivery (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Anyway, I don’t think most people get such an effect, or at least anywhere near the strength of the effect I get from it.

I was saddened by all the major soft-drinks switching to aspartame as I had found that a cola would really decrease the severity, duration, and frequency of my migraines. Neither coffee nor tea seem to give that positive effect to me. I am not sure why colas are a boon to me in that way.

Unfortunately it isn’t a matter of wanting to lose weight that had me stop drinking sodas. I also was diagnosed with diabetes. :-/ A double whammy so-to-speak. Even being diabetic, an actual regular cola, sweetened with sugar, was better for me than the aspartame sweetened one.

Caffeine-Free Pepsi

Caffeine-Free Pepsi (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

If I didn’t have the reaction, I wouldn’t shun products with aspartame in them. I’m not really against aspartame like some people I know. Though I still think it is a bad idea to use diet products unless you have a medical reason for it.

Now, I hear that some relief might be coming… eventually. Pepsi announced yesterday that they were removing aspartame from there diet Pepsi products! As far as I know that is: Diet Pepsi, Caffeine-Free Diet Pepsi and Wild Cherry Diet Pepsi. Pepsi is going to be starting to use sucralose and acesulfame potassium sweeteners as of August… in the USA, that is.

Pepsi Plans to Ditch Aspartame (NBCNews); Diet Pepsi to ditch the aspartame (USA Today); Diet Pepsi drops controversial sweetener aspartame after customer concerns about safety (Mail online).

A picture of a Pepsi-truck in Norway

A picture of a Pepsi-truck in Norway (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I wished that PepsiCo Canada would do the same thing. It might actually cause this Coke drinker to switch to Pepsi! I can only dream of the relief I would get from my migraines. I figure they’ll change eventually and that Coke might actually follow suit.

In the meantime, I can only have sweet dreams.

Is There a Doctor in the House? Part 3 of 3

The Doctor, by Sir Luke Fildes (1891)

The Doctor, by Sir Luke Fildes (1891) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I actually think that we have had a pretty good medical system in Canada. But I think that although the expertise is here, and we have universal access, there are ways where things could be improved.

Have a look at “Is There a Doctor in the House? Part 1 of 3” and Part 2 of 3 if you missed it!

Doctors have many skills and tools for treating those who are suffering from assorted ailments: There medications for all sorts of things, surgical procedures, physical therapy, and so on. There is coverage for these treatments and the diagnostics required… except one area of the human body…

Dental hygienist polishing a patient's teeth

Dental hygienist polishing a patient’s teeth (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Health care, it seems, ends at the gums,

For reasons I don’t understand teeth and gums are included as part of the human body when it comes to medical coverage. It is possible to purchase additional coverage that would include dentistry. (Optometry can also be covered if you buy the extended coverage. Many companies include this extended coverage as well as paying the basic premiums. However for a large part of the population, dental care charges come out-of-pocket.

Dental care isn’t a matter strictly of cosmetic worth. People need their teeth to chew food with. Infections of teeth can spread to the jaws and other parts of the body. Bad teeth can even be a source of clots that can cause strokes, heart attacks, and pulmonary embolism among other results of thrombosis, or blood clots.

US Navy 050326-N-8629M-012 Dental Technician 2...

US Navy 050326-N-8629M-012 Dental Technician 2nd Class Adrian Murphy, left, assists Lt. Joyce Yang, as she extracts teeth with severe tooth decay at the Kalabahi Hospital in Alor, Indonesia (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I think that dental care would be preventative medicine when it comes to dangers of infection and blood clots. Dental care can be a life saver!

At least here in BC if cancer is detected in the mouth, some procedures are considered dental and not covered.

I think it is sad when people lose teeth due to a lack of dental care, even if they practice good oral hygiene.

Why does medical coverage end at the gums?

US Navy 030502-N-4055P-001 Cmdr. Jerry Torres,...

US Navy 030502-N-4055P-001 Cmdr. Jerry Torres, a dentist attached to the 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit (31st MEU), injects a patient with anesthetic before repairing a tooth (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I don’t think there are very many people who “like” to go to the dentist, but the alternative is rather painful and can be severe health consequences.

We have good universal medical coverage here in Canada, but there are a few holes in it like overtaxed hospitals, a lack of universal pharmaceutical coverage, and a lack of universal dental coverage. There are other leaks in the medical dam as well.

Consider how difficult it is for smaller towns to attract medical professionals, or for many to find a family physician. (a general practitioner) Or, consider what devices like glasses and hearing aides (and their expensive batteries) cost out-of-pocket.

We have it so good in some ways, but there is much room for improvement.

Our system isn’t too bad, but it does have some holes in it. I’ll write about some more holes in the near future.

Look for Part 1 and Part 2



What’s in a Name?

English: Simulation of dyslexic vision

English: Simulation of dyslexic vision (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

There are many learning disorders, the one most talked about is Dyslexia… or as I would like to say, Lysdexia. (Gee, Google/Wikipedia recognize “lysdexia” and refer it to “dyslexia”!) But there are others and actually Dyslexia has a wider spectrum of symptoms than most might realize. Dyslexia is not just about scrambling letters or numbers so that “the” becomes “het” to the dyslexic’s observation. Or sometimes numbers or letters look backward. It doesn’t matter how careful the word is looked at, it comes out scrambled. It happens often enough to become an issue.

(ed. – Please note that this is not a clinical article about learning disorders so there are likely terms used improperly and similar other issues with it.)

Chalk Board

Chalk Board (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

For some the disability doesn’t show often, but for others it is crippling toward their education and learning. It slows reading and can make handwriting torture. For some, the issues that come up with handwriting do not bother them if they are working on a keyboard. For others it is just about universal.

There are other sorts of disorders however that people can have that can hamper learning… and other aspects of life.

Consider having a problem with recalling names. Not just what most people have with forgetting a name that they know, but having problems learning that name in the first place. Names and numbers seem to become hazy mirages in the mind.

(ed. – perhaps this is an aspect of Dyslexia?)

English: A university classroom. (Jones Hall a...

English: A university classroom. (Jones Hall at Princeton University.) © 2005 Joseph Barillari (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

History class can become a bit of a nightmare when you can’t remember the dates of events or the names of the people and places involved. It can be very frustrating trying to come up with the answers to history questions… “It was a battle that occurred in a place. But it was fundamental in the formation of a country…”

"they still have phone booths in ak"

“they still have phone booths in ak” (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Addresses and phone numbers can become a bit of a maze as well. Forgetting the first half of a phone number before hearing the last half can really get irritating. Back in the days of pay phones, if you needed a number and there was no phone book, directory assistance could help locate the number for you, but if you had no paper or pen, and had that sort of problem with remembering numbers, you were lost. The operator couldn’t (wouldn’t?) dial the number for you, and by the time they told you the last 4 digits of the phone number you’d forget the first three digits.

English: Greensleeves Vinyl:War by Wailing Sou...

English: Greensleeves Vinyl:War by Wailing Souls & Rankin Trevor (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Having a problem with names and titles can really hamper looking up a song you enjoy. How can you find a song if you couldn’t remember the name of the artist, band, or song title? (Now with modern Internet search engines, you can type in just the part of the lyrics you recall and it can find or suggest the title/artist.) How often might you hear a song and want to look it up so you could purchase it yourself, but be at a loss as to how to locate it… it can even be difficult to realize what recording artists you like simply because you can never recall who sang what with which band.

Having pen and paper handy at all times is a solution, but then you still have to organize your notes so you can find what you are looking for.

…but it is most embarrassing to need months or years to actually learn a new friend’s name.

Is There a Doctor in the House? Part 2 of 3

The Doctor, by Sir Luke Fildes (1891)

The Doctor, by Sir Luke Fildes (1891) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I actually think that we have had a pretty good medical system in Canada. But I think that although the expertise is here, and we have universal access, there are ways where things could be improved.

Have a look at “Is There a Doctor in the House? Part 1 of 3” if you missed it!

A large part of modern medicine is in the diagnosis of health problems. This might take place with a simple visit to your General Practitioner (GP) or in a walk-in-clinic. It might also involve lab work or probing procedures with or without a visit to a Specialist.


Ritalin (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

After the diagnosis, you’ll go for treatment. That might mean surgery, physiotherapy, or other procedures, but more likely than not you’ll walk out of the Doctor’s office with a prescription for medication to be filled out by a pharmacist. (a druggist or chemist)

The problem is that once you walk out of the Doctor’s office — for most — it is like you aren’t covered for health care at all. Any medication you require has to be paid for by you and some prescriptions, necessary prescriptions, and for that matter over-the-counter medication or on the shelf ones come out of your pocket.

A bottle of brand coated tablets.A bottle of brand coated tablets. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Some people are lucky and have Provincial medical coverage that covers most prescriptions, or you might have extended coverage through where you work. Others who are on a provincial or federal disability income, PWD (some places called “Benefit”), or on income assistance (most places also known as “welfare”) might have most of their prescription medication covered by the government’s medication plans. Some low-income folks like pensioners might have partial coverage — like paying up to a certain fixed figure and afterwards having the government pharmacy coverage kick in.

medication in gelcaps (gelatin capsules) Portu...

medication in gelcaps (gelatin capsules) Português: Diversos tipos de cápsulas (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

For most people, families with an income, they have to pay the full cost of the medication prescribed to them. For all, the cost of over-the-counter medication or products on the shelves comes out of whatever budget they might have, large or small.

What is the use of a diagnosis if you can’t afford the treatment?

For some, even the price of analgesics (pain killers) like Aspirin, Tylenol, or Advil (Acetic Acid, Acetaminophen, Ibuprofen) can add up if you have something like chronic pain. Antihistamines and most “cold medicines” can also add up. Chronic allergies lead to a fairly hefty annual bill. English: National Naval Medical Center, Bethes...

English: National Naval Medical Center, Bethesda, Md., (Aug. 19, 2003) — Pharmacist Randal Heller, right, verifies the dosage and medication of a prescription at the National Naval Medical Center in Bethesda, Maryland. Heller checks all prescriptions dispensed at the pharmacy before they are handed over the counter to the patient. Heller is retired as a Commander from the Navy Medical Service Corps. U.S. Navy photo by Chief Warrant Officer 4 Seth Rossman. (RELEASED) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Preventative treatment also doesn’t seem to count for coverage. Things like vitamins. First-Aide supplies and various supports and braces aren’t covered for most either, even if physiotherapy might be.

Treatments in hospital are covered, but if a person is being treated outside the hospital, then that same treatment might not be covered. There are some very expensive cancer treatment drugs that don’t have to be administered in a hospital, and even though “Chemo” given in the hospital is covered, the equivalent treatment taken as pills at home isn’t. Even in places where those treatments that can be done at home are covered, they don’t cover additional medications to deal with the side effects of the prescribed treatment. (Things like anti-nausea medication or supplements needed if the medicine depletes vitamin and mineral reserves.)

The SAVI applicator is a multiple catheter bre...

The SAVI applicator is a multiple catheter breast brachytherapy device. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Some people might needlessly be in hospital because they can’t afford treatment at home.

Some people will get prescriptions for a more potent  medication when a less potent one that is perfectly adequate for their condition is available off the shelf. I know one person who requested prescriptions for the prescription Tylenol 2 (acetaminophen with caffeine and codeine.) when they could get the relief they needed from Tylenol 1 (Same as Tylenol 1 but with less codeine.) or even Extra-Strength Tylenol. (No codeine added.) This was because the Tylenol 2 was covered, but the Tylenol 1 and Extra Strength Tylenol were not covered. This person had chronic pain due to bulging disks in their spine.

At least treatments like surgery are covered… except sometimes. Surgery for cancer in the mouth isn’t covered, and some elective surgery.

I believe that Canada is the only country with universal health care that doesn’t also cover medication. I think we need to catch up with other countries. Soon even the US will have better pharmaceutical coverage than we have.

Our system isn’t too bad, but it does have some holes in it. I’ll write about some more holes in the near future.

Look for Part 1 and Part 3 (Coming on Tuesday)



Is There a Doctor in the House? Part 1 of 3

The Doctor, by Sir Luke Fildes (1891)

The Doctor, by Sir Luke Fildes (1891) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I actually think that we have had a pretty good medical system in Canada. But I think that although the expertise is here, and we have universal access, there are ways where things are getting a bit threadbare.

Have a look at “Is There a Doctor in the House? Part 2 of 3” and Part 3 of 3 to come on Tuesday

I personally know of a lot of friends and family who have ended up in a bed or on a gurney in a corridor after being admitted to Emergency, (That is what we call the emergency ward up here in Canada.) I actually experienced this when I had a health emergency a few years back. I spent my first night in a dark service corridor behind “Emergency” on a bed along one wall with perhaps 6-10 others.

Emergency Ward

Emergency Ward (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I was already in slight delirium when I got there and the night was an anxious one for me. The odd sounds from the pipes and from delivery trucks down the corridor. (Through sets of doors but so audible.)

I did get moved out of that corridor the next morning…

…and onto a ward. Actually I was at the end of the ward, in the corridor. The end was curtained off so in some ways I had a private room, however, no washroom facility, no access to phone, and rather than an emergency call button, I had a hand-bell to ring for help. I spent 4 or 5 days in that corridor until I had to have surgery. After surgery I did get into a room. Actually it was a nice private room where I was the only occupant. I think that they had a regulation where people coming out of surgery had to be placed into a room.

Hospital Corridor 800I have had a few friends that also ended up in a corridor. In fact one dear friend has been in one for a few days now. I also recall visiting a relative in the cardiac ward and seeing two or three occupied beds in the corridors around the nurses’ station. I recall thinking that they had so little privacy.

Our system isn’t too bad, but it does have some holes in it. I’ll write about some more holes in the near future.

Look for Part 2 and Part 3 to come.


A Crippled Generation? — part 4 of 3

Everywhere I look I see a crippled generation. I don’t mean people with actual physical or mental disabilities, but those people who are crippling themselves. This issue might actually be crippling people.

Continued from “A Crippled Generation? — part 3 of 3
A Crippled Generation? — part 2 of 3
A Crippled Generation? — part 1 of 3

I wrote about how people are essentially handicapping themselves with fashions, technology, and the choices they make. But this “4th” article is about something that not only might affect a person while using it, but also might affect their future.

young-woman-with-cell-phone 2 800I mentioned in part 1 of 3 about smart phones and how the way many use them essentially ties up one hand all the time. There is another issue to do with them, and a once prominent device, the mp3 player, like the iPods.

Many people put in their ear-buds or put on their headphones intent on blocking out the outside world. Some even have noise cancelling headphones to create an excellent environment for listening to their music… or language course, or news channel.

This creates an issue for some where they are oblivious to the things going on around them.

350px-headphones_1Did you know that a young man was actually killed when he was struck by a helicopter that was making a crash landing? Apparently he couldn’t hear it because he was listening to “his tunes”.

That example is a bit extreme, but there have also been people struck by trains, cars, trucks…. I haven’t heard of anyone run down by a submarine though.

There can be two issues, one is having your ears covered or having the ear-buds in the ear and impeding outside sounds from getting in. The other is the volume at which the music is being played. I know from personal experience that if you play music at a modest volume, you can hear what is going on around you.

A stack of the iPods I now own... included are...

A stack of the iPods I now own… included are the 1Gb iPod shuffle (2nd Gen), iPod nano Product(RED) 4Gb (2nd Gen), iPod mini 4Gb, iPod 20Gb (4th Gen), and iPod video 80Gb (5.5 Gen). (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

When I am listening to my iPod, other people can’t hear the music, but very often even from a half-dozen feet away I can hear other folks’ music filtering out of their headphones or ear-buds — sometimes quite loudly. I figure it isn’t so much the ear-buds or headphones causing people to be oblivious to the outside world but the sheer volume… loudness of the music.

They have laws in some places that place some restrictions on the usage of headphones and ear-buds. Here, you can only have one of the two ear-buds in your ear while operating a motor vehicle. I imagine that headphones aren’t allowed.


Very similarly to the issue with personal music players (smart phone or mp3 player) are “boom cars“. These are the vehicles where the driver’s music is played at such a sound level you can hear it from many car-lengths away. Not only is this noise pollution annoying, but for the occupants of the car the results over time is deafening.

Behind the ear aid

Behind the ear aid (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I mean that playing music that loud in a vehicle or with a personal music player, you are damaging your hearing.

I figure it is quite sad that some of the people who get the greatest enjoyment from music are causing themselves to slowly go deaf.

Taken as a whole, Cell phone in hand, wide temple glasses, hoodie on, pants down to the knees, and high platform shoes, makes for a very crippling ensemble. You can add personal music player and boom cars to that list.  Some would refer to it with this one word:


Here is one more look at the topic. I hope you have had a chance to check out the cartoon: The New Handicap — Wheel Tales of Willow City

The New Handicap

The New Handicap by DWPenner


A Crippled Generation? — part 3 of 3

Everywhere I look I see a crippled generation. I don’t mean people with actual physical or mental disabilities, but those people who are crippling themselves.

Continued from “A Crippled Generation? — part 2 of 3
A Crippled Generation? — part 1 of 3

A postcard (circa 1911) depicting a man and a ...

A postcard (circa 1911) depicting a man and a women dressed in the fashion of the era. Woman wears a hobble skirt, man points to her with his thumb. Caption: The Hobble Skirt “What’s that? It’s the speed-limit skirt!”  (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

There used to be a garment called a “hobble skirt“. They were long skirts… to the calf at least …that were tight around the knees and produced an effect not unlike hobbles used to keep horses from moving far. They are also used on prisoners so they can’t run.

The days of the hobble skirt are long passed, but both men and women are hobbling themselves.

Men are wearing pants where the waist is worn at the hip or lower and the crotch of the pants is at the knees. I haven’t a clue where this style came from, though suspect Rap or some other genre.

I think they are called saggy pants?

A number of times watching “Cops” and similar shows where police are chasing suspects that are wearing such trousers, the suspect is at an extreme disadvantage. If the pants stay in place it hinders their running, and often the waist slips down. The pants now with the belt around their knees hobbles them. Sometimes even sliding to the ankles and they are running like someone with their pants around their ankles.

A man walking with saggy pants in Paris.

A man walking with saggy pants in Paris. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I am personally reminded of the pants for toddlers with extra room for the diaper and snaps between the legs for easier changes. I wonder if the wearers of these saggy rapper pants realize what they look like?

Regardless of whether it is a “style choice” and not a statement of some sort, they sure do a great job of hobbling a person.

Men aren’t the only ones hobbling themselves. I noticed a lot of women who had an odd gait. They just didn’t look like they were walking right. Then I noticed their shoes. Some had very high stiletto heels, others had chunky clog like soles. High Heels 800Regardless they looked almost camel-like as they walked. If they ever had to walk far or fast they’d have to get out of those shoes.

I know some things are fashion trends, but are we really a society that needs to be hobbled?

Actually, I am rather fond of fashion, even high fashion or couture, but on the street rather than at a night-club or fancy dress ball, it seems rather silly and crippling.

Taken as a whole, Cell phone in hand, wide temple glasses, hoodie on, pants down to the knees, and high platform shoes, makes for a very crippling ensemble. Or as some would put it:


This is the end of the three part article. Well… there is one more thing on the subject to come next Tuesday. In the mean-time have a look at a cartoon I did that is related: The New Handicap — Wheel Tales of Willow City

The New Handicap

The New Handicap by DWPenner