I had a pretty healthy discussion with a friend from my high school earlier this week on New York Plans to Ban Sale of Big Sizes of Sugary Drinks which is quite a noble idea but seems to be missing the point. It was also amusing that the following day was National Donuts Day that the mayor of New York had no problem promoting. Apparently he said he was promoting moderation
The big problem I have is I don’t think banning larger drinks solves anything when it still allows people to acquire to drinks of smaller sizes without any consequences. I think levying a significant tax on sugar drinks will drive home the purpose a lot clearer than setting an arbitrary limit which can be easily circumvented. It makes it more expensive to buy larger quantity of sugary drinks and will cause people to think twice about getting larger quantities.
The proposed sugar bans are included below… so let me know what you think?
The Electronic Frontier Foundation took a look at several companies and rated them based on how they fared regarding user privacy against unreasonable requests from the government. I included their criteria and results below but on a quick summary, the one company that surprised me in doing really well? Dropbox. One that I was really disappointed in? Foursquare.
The companies were evaluated based on the following criteria:
1. A public commitment to inform users when their data is sought by the government. To earn a star in this category, Internet companies must promise to tell users when their data is being sought by the government unless prohibited by law. This gives users a chance to defend themselves against overreaching government demands for their data.
2. Transparency about when and how often companies hand data to the government. This category has two parts. Companies earn a half-star in this category if they publish statistics on how often they provide user data to governments worldwide. Companies also earn a half-star if they make public any policies they have about sharing data with the government, such as guides for law enforcement. (If a company doesn’t have law enforcement guidelines at all, though, we don’t hold that against them). Companies that publish both statistics and law enforcement guidelines receive a full star.
3. Fight for users’ privacy rights in the courts. To earn recognition in this category, companies must have a public record of resisting overbroad government demands for access to user content in court. Not all companies will be put in the position of having to defend their users before a judge, but those who do deserve special recognition.
4. Fight for users’ privacy in Congress. Internet companies earn a star in this category if they support efforts to modernize electronic privacy laws to defend users in the digital age by joining the Digital Due Process coalition.
Source: Electronic Frontier Foundation
When meeting someone after many years, there aren’t many times I would recommend discussing religion and politics but that was part of a rather pleasant conversation I found myself in recently. My friend’s mother who I possibly had not seen since my high school years was genuinely curious about how I felt about the aforementioned topics but that left me in a curious spot about whether I should say the politically correct answer or go with what I really felt. I decided that since my friend usually has no filter and is often pretty blunt with statements, it would probably make sense to go with the no non-sense, brutally honest approach in hopes of having a genuinely good dialogue… and I’m glad I did.
One of the first things I was asked was what my religion was and subsequently a follow-up on what my thoughts were about how I was treated in the immediate aftermath of 9/11 – much of which I already provided in greater details (September 11th Aftermath – My Story) on how I was treated but can be summarized that no matter how great everyone may be, there are always a few bad apples which you can’t always avoid. As we continued the discussion, we moved onto topics about why groups like al-Qaeda on what I thought about their affiliation with the religion immediately made me think of a reference back to West Wing that I used and which I have linked below:
The conversation did take a turn towards racial profiling and when it may be beneficial for authorities to do their jobs without sacrificing civil liberties or breaking laws. Having agreed on majority of the topics of discussion like the treatment of Muslims after 9/11 and how religious fundamentalists isn’t limited to just Islam, I would say the one thing I did disagree on was the effective use of racial profiling in catching criminals or potential-criminals. One thing that I took away immediately was having to explain the difference between the terms Islam and Muslims which is maybe something I took for granted.
Regardless, it was simply enjoyable to have a civil conversation with people I don’t regularly speak to on topics that have the potential to get very heated and one, that I hope I could have again in the future.
Now here is a trip that if you had asked me about two months ago, I would have said would never happen let alone me going on it with people I knew from high school, university and some that I had never met before including the one passenger in my car. Excuse me for any glaring typing mistakes as I wrote this in literally fifteen minutes while I am waiting for my car being serviced.
The last week or two leading up to my trip had been so hectic that I didn’t even get a chance to view videos on the basic fundamentals on what to do. I had been tied up at work and then went south of the border for a few days. Ultimately, that probably had little to do with my failures on the first day but that might be normal to expect since it was the very first time I had ever gotten on a snowboard.
It hadn’t snowed much the night before our first run and that probably made the falls that much more painful on my entire body. We went straight for the green trail which was a much longer trail then I was expecting for a first run but better than the bunny hills because that was just way too short for me to do anything on. Naturally, it ended up taking us nearly two hours to complete the first run. It was tiring and painful but the mountain was scenic and enjoyable to be on. There were definitely moments I was afraid of what was going on and let that allow me to fall instead of fighting through it and get into it more. My issue wasn’t about gaining speed or learning how to turn, both of which I was surprisingly decent at, but I couldn’t get myself to slow down or stop without my legs giving out and taking a fall. I think if I didn’t have a friend who was just as new to this as I was, I wouldn’t have willed myself to go out again the second day — the first day was just that bad. It was crucial to have a buddy though because we would alternate going in front of each other and continue to call each other names as a means of motivating one another (we did occasionally say nice things to each other too but that’s just not our nature).
Just as importantly, it was so helpful to have someone who was better than we were every step of the way. It almost served as a light at the end of the tunnel when I was struggling on the first day to look up and see them stopped ahead waiting for us to catch up and then urging us to continue forward on what seemed on the first day to be a never-ending trail.
As bad as the first day was, I would say the second was that much better, if not more. We got a little delayed start in the morning but by the time we got out there, I was much more relaxed and ready to let it all go. Lighter traffic even for a Saturday might have played a role in me becoming more comfortable too and along with the conditions getting softer with the snow overnight and the fact that I was falling less, made for a much drier morning the second time around. We planned on cutting our time down the mountain by half from the first day which seemed very ambitious but not only did we reach that goal, we shattered it comfortably on the very first run of the morning (not that it is anything to brag about but I would call that significant progress).
I was practicing more on slowing down and stopping and not just speeding, falling and struggling to gain any momentum on the straight stretches, which turned out to be a much more effective way to get up and about. All the practice in the world probably doesn’t matter when you’re coming up with a little speed behind someone and they turn right into your path and lead to a wipe out. I’m glad it was someone I knew and that it was described by another watching as a “moment of embrace” as we hit the ground gracefully, making a potentially dangerous moment into something we can laugh about. As disappointed as I am of no video footage from my first time out, I am just glad this moment was never recorded.
Leading up to the last run on the final day, I was probably feeling the best I had and that was a good thing because I would need every ounce of that good feeling to get through the last run. The conditions had gotten much more terrible with the snow and wind picking up, fatigue was starting to settle in and for me, I couldn’t see anything through my fogged up goggles. As awful as it may sound, I must admit, I enjoyed that last run more than any because I was going through it without much complaining even though my body was ready to give out from being tired which is more than what I can for my other newbie friend.
Admittedly, I wasn’t in the greatest of physical shapes which led to my legs being extremely sore, my arms being dead from picking myself up all weekend but I wish I had done this up sooner and I would enjoyed it even more than I already did. There are some picture below, no videos unfortunately, which did have its pros and cons.
I had always joked with my roommates from university every time someone mentioned a trip up to Canada that I would believe it when I saw it. I would have never expected the trip would ever materialize let alone getting 11 people ranging from New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania and Toronto and all meeting up in Mont Tremblant without losing anyone or anything.
Can’t wait to go again next year. Whistler, anyone?