Observations From a New Point of View

Since she’s got­ten back, Pam has said that she’s been see­ing the world (includ­ing our home) a lit­tle dif­fer­ent­ly late­ly:

  1. While the coastal moun­tains may look big to us (and they cer­tain­ly loom large enough that I use them to ori­ent myself when­ev­er walk­ing down­town), the Andes Moun­tains in the south of Chile and Argenti­na make them look small.
  2. The ice­bergs she saw were ‘rough­ly the same size as the con­tain­er ships’ we saw yes­ter­day in Eng­lish bay. Bear in mind that this is just the vis­i­ble tip of the object. 7/8 of it is under­wa­ter.
  3. While it’s been pret­ty much dis­missed as a myth, Pam did notice that the water going down the drain where she was always went down clock­wise. We did a lit­tle test here and although the bath­tub goes coun­ter­clock­wise, the guest bath­room sink went clock­wise as well. I stand by the opin­ion that the Cori­o­lis effect, while clear­ly hav­ing an effect on large-scale weath­er pat­terns (like hur­ri­canes), does not pro­duce enough force on small local­ized phe­nom­e­non in order to lead to a con­sis­tent direc­tion either way when things go down the drain. Instead, in these cas­es, it’s more a func­tion of the size, shape, and angle of the bowl or tub.
  4. When they left South Amer­i­ca, the cap­tain of the Pam’s ship said: “Say good-bye to trees for 10 days”. Indeed, there was­n’t a sin­gle tree on any of the pho­tos Pam took on any of the islands or the coast of Antarc­ti­ca. A land­scape with­out a tree is some­thing I’d have a hard time get­ting used to.
  5. Moss (which was found on these islands) always grew on the South side of rocks (as opposed to the North side here).
  6. Birds in Antarc­ti­ca (includ­ing the Pen­guins, Terns, Alba­tross and Petrels) were all much larg­er than the birds we see here. They call the Cor­morant (which we some­times do see here) a Blue-Eyed Shag.
  7. Even on a cloudy or rainy day, you need sun­glass­es in Antarc­ti­ca because the reflect­ing snow is so bright.

I’m sure she’ll think of oth­ers as they strike her.

A Long Walk, and iJerks(?)

With Pam home, and with me not work­ing this week­end (which won’t be the case next week­end), we man­aged to do some shop­ping and oth­er errands on Sat­ur­day. Today, bet­ter late than nev­er, we decid­ed to start train­ing for the Sun Run next month (or, for us, I think more of a ‘Sun Walk’). Yes, we are plan­ning on doing a com­bi­na­tion of walk­ing and run­ning in that event. I have no expec­ta­tions about beat­ing any time; just want to fin­ish it in one piece.

At any rate, I sug­gest­ed that we walk around the sea­wall of Stan­ley Park. We’d start around the Yacht Club near the Lost Lagoon, and walk around the park, end­ing up around Eng­lish Bay. After all, with the sea­wall now open again, and a sun­ny day expect­ed, it would be a great way to sight­see and get some much-need­ed exer­cise. We start­ed walk­ing around noon, and were doing pret­ty well until around the 2 1/2 hour mark, when we both real­ized the extent to which we both were out of shape. I’m not sure how far we actu­al­ly went in mileage (or kilo­me­ter­age — is there such a word? Hon­est­ly, since we’ve gone met­ric I still don’t know how to say some things…), but we were plen­ty tired, aching, and hun­gry by the time we got to Den­man Street for a late lunch. I hope I don’t regret this with too much of aching legs tomor­row, but obvi­ous­ly we need a lot of work to get in shape by the time the Sun Run takes place.

Wait Wait, Don’t Trash Me
While we were doing the afore­men­tioned walk around the park, I lis­tened to pod­casts on my iPhone. Yes, that’s right, I got the iPhone ful­ly func­tion­al, and like so many oth­er Cana­di­ans, I’m using it unlocked, and await­ing the day when I can offi­cial­ly ‘go legal’, and not have to waive off the attempts by iTunes to upgrade the phone (which would turn it into an iPa­per­weight as quick­ly as you can say ‘Rogers Wire­less’. )

So here I am, feel­ing pret­ty good about my cool new touch-screen iPod/Phone/Wireless brows­er and lis­ten­ing to NPR’s Wait Wait, Don’t Tell Me, the news quiz show, when the fol­low­ing bit comes up:

[audio:iJerks.mp3]

For those who can’t hear the audio, the gist of it is that a US mar­ket­ing com­pa­ny called Mind­Set Media claims that Mac­in­tosh users are 60% more like­ly to be “self-cen­tered” and “arro­gant” and regard users of oth­er oper­at­ing sys­tems with con­tempt and con­de­scen­sion. They are also more like­ly to see them­selves as “artis­tic” and “hip”, “excep­tion­al” and even “extra­or­di­nary.” Clear­ly, the report asserts, they have high stan­dards and are not very mod­est.

To which I say: “And your point is?”

But seri­ous­ly, this cracks me up, par­tic­u­lar­ly after I learned this from an arti­cle about the report on Ars Tech­ni­ca:

It’s dif­fi­cult to deter­mine if any of this is real…We tried to get details of the study from the com­pa­ny’s press con­tact (who is also its COO and cofounder), but were unable to learn much about the process. They could not pro­vide us with enough details to sci­en­tif­i­cal­ly exam­ine the study.

Approx­i­mate­ly 7,500 peo­ple were sur­veyed at Nielsen Online and grouped accord­ing to their choice of com­put­ing plat­forms. The sur­vey results were then fed into Mind­set’s per­son­al­i­ty pro­fil­ing process, which is undoc­u­ment­ed. The com­pa­ny claims that it can cor­re­late per­son­al­i­ty pro­files with with brand choic­es: “a Mind­set­Pro­file will iden­ti­fy the psy­cho­graph­ics that dri­ve your brand, your cat­e­go­ry, and even your com­peti­tors.”

Giv­en that there is no data on the sur­vey ques­tions or the eval­u­a­tion of the answers, it’s dif­fi­cult to ana­lyze the results. A com­pa­ny-sup­plied image, how­ev­er, pro­vides some indi­ca­tion of the per­son­al­i­ty cat­e­gories, which are arranged to evoke a peri­od­ic table, and hence hint at sci­en­tif­ic cred­i­bil­i­ty (Mind­set appar­ent­ly does under­stand mar­ket­ing). There are prob­a­bly few­er effec­tive cat­e­gories than are list­ed there, since a num­ber seem inter­re­lat­ed. After all, it’s hard to imag­ine that some­one with a strong sense of supe­ri­or­i­ty could pos­si­bly score low in the self-esteem, or be easy to iden­ti­fy if they were high­ly mod­est. Like­wise, it’s hard to imag­ine that timid­i­ty and brava­do are com­pat­i­ble traits.

Still, this infor­ma­tion isn’t suf­fi­cient to eval­u­ate the claims, leav­ing us to rely on the cred­i­bil­i­ty of the com­pa­ny itself. Judg­ing by the fact that the com­pa­ny’s COO is its press con­tact and its “In the Press” page still says “Com­ing Soon,” it’s like­ly to be a new ven­ture with a small staff. It’s entire­ly pos­si­ble that Mind­set is in a posi­tion to design Inter­net sur­veys, ana­lyze the result­ing data, and gen­er­ate accu­rate per­son­al­i­ty pro­files, but I’m some­what skep­ti­cal. My sense is that the press release was large­ly an attempt to tie its com­pa­ny name to the Mac on the week of the Mac­world Expo as a way of gain­ing a high­er pro­file and some free pub­lic­i­ty.

So their game is to pick a group who often reacts with great (and vocal) hos­til­i­ty when there is an attempt to sul­ly their name and come out with an unflat­ter­ing report on them. With this in mind, I’m expect­ing Mind­set Media to come out with their next report: Mar­ket­ing to the Over­grown Ado­les­cent, AKA Heavy Users of Digg… No, wait, bet­ter yet: The Typ­i­cal Per­son­al­i­ty of Those Sci­en­tol­o­gist Clowns.

Still, it tick­led me that I (and my imme­di­ate fam­i­ly back in the US) pret­ty much fall into every sin­gle pigeon­hole that the NPR pan­el could come up with : Mac­in­tosh-using, Oba­ma-sup­port­ing, Prius-dri­ving…

In the words of Woody Allen’s char­ac­ter played by Car­ol Kane in Annie Hall, Alli­son Portch­nik:

Alli­son Portch­nick: I’m in the midst of doing my the­sis.
Alvy Singer: On what?
Alli­son: Polit­i­cal com­mit­ment in twen­ti­eth cen­tu­ry lit­er­a­ture.
Alvy: You, you, you’re like New York, Jew­ish, left-wing, lib­er­al, intel­lec­tu­al, Cen­tral Park West, Bran­deis Uni­ver­si­ty, the social­ist sum­mer camps and the, the father with the Ben Shahn draw­ings, right, and the real­ly, y’know, strike-ori­ent­ed kind of, red dia­per, stop me before I make a com­plete imbe­cile of myself.
Alli­son: No, that was won­der­ful. I love being reduced to a cul­tur­al stereo­type.
Alvy: Right, I’m a big­ot, I know, but for the left.