No Food for Thought

Food is something you should provide to your brain long before coming to this blog. You will find no food recipes here, only raw, serious, non-fake news for mature minds.

Winter sport helmets for commute bicycling (Marker Consort)

admin Wednesday February 14, 2018

The other weekend I went to a local sports shop and asked a nice merchant who daily commutes to work on bike even during winter about their helmets for winter sports. The guy had a Marker helmet and was satisfied with it. He offered me a ¼ price discount and convinced me to buy a Marker Consort 2.0 helmet for 105 CAD, to replace my usual bike helmet during winters.

While I'm happy I satisfied my curiosity and must say the helmet has interesting features, I returned it after trying it for a few days. The dealer highlighted these advantages:

  1. Quick clipping/unclipping thanks to magnets, with no risk of skin squeezing
  2. Better protection
  3. Temperature
  4. Visibility - attachment for goggles


The main disadvantage I saw was the lack of built-in position lights, particularly useful during winter, and the incompatibility with Mountain Equipment Coop's Turtle LED lights (which I already owned).

Unfortunately, after buying, I confirmed there is really no way to install Turtle lights on the Consort. Moreover, at least in my use case, which is often using my bike to reach a station where a bus brings me to the office, there are quite a few more small issues:

  1. While carrying the helmet in the bus, it is heavier and bigger. It is also a lot warmer, so it's not necessarily comfortable to keep it on your head in the bus.
  2. At destination, the risk of having the helmet stolen increases. It's more costly to replace, and it's more attractive for thieves.

Finally, the cyclist who sold me the helmet said the only disadvantage he saw was reduced hearing. While I can confirm that the helmet obviously makes it harder to hear traffic when ear isolation is maximal than in the summer, I did not use it enough to compare to the effect of the other headwear one would use with a regular helmet.

Not-so-great advantages

Additionally, even if I don't need to wear a tuque while I use the helmet, I still need to carry one for cases when I go out on foot at destination. And the attachment for goggles is imperfect; there is one attachment at the rear. That ensures the goggles stay attached to the helmet, but is insufficient to ensure the goggles stay on the helmet. While there are small dents intended to help hold the goggles, if you're used to putting your helmet upside down, the goggles won't stay on for long, unless - perhaps - you have compatible expensive Marker goggles. So unless you put them back often, the goggles will flap.

Another claimed advantage which is not that useful is the cold protection, which only helps with the top and back of the head, while the coldest part is the front.

As for advantage #1, clipping and unclipping were still not instant for me. I suppose you get quicker after a while, but clipping would still be complicated by a moving band for chin comfort which can easily get between the 2 parts.

This leaves better protection as the most interesting advantage. When I returned the helmet, my logic was that if a regular bike helmet is safe enough during summer, it should be good enough for winter too. After more thought though, this logic is significantly wrong because:

  1. The tuque or other headwear change the helmet's position, so sides are less protected. Unfortunately, I did not see any evidence supporting that (although I did not research).
  2. The risk of falling during winter is way higher.


Overall, Marker's Consort 2.0 is not a bad winter sport helmet. I wasn't convinced enough to use it instead of a regular helmet in my use case (which does not include any activity other than cycling), but it will surely be worth its price for others. If it had integrated lights, I would buy it.

Scenario for Advertising Proportional Representation

admin Sunday January 28, 2018

I was just reflecting on how I could promote proportional representation in governments using FPTP. My provincial reform movement unfortunately does not sell any gear. I was thinking a T-shirt picturing dis-proportionality could easily catch attention. It would be great to have a picture of my face with proportions changed so one size is 50% bigger than the other side on the front, and on the back, "Proportions matter - Visit democratienouvelle.ca".

I was then thinking it would be terrific to produce a short promotional video showing 2 voters inserting their ballot in a booth. A third voter arrives saying the path was icy, but the travel was worth it. The old lady is welcomed by the same 2 tellers, with the same authentic smiles, who invite her to "insert" her ballot in a trash bin. "Thank you madam, we value your opinion.", one teller says on an optimistic tone. "Be safe on your way back home.", says the other. The advertisement could conclude "If you are part of the numerous people who did not care to vote in the previous election, this time, consider voting for a change."

Meanwhile, the French-language "Rose nanane" video produced by Quebec's Mouvement pour une démocratie nouvelle will remain one of my favorite advertisements.

Marin Fairfax SC1 performance hybrid

admin Monday January 8, 2018

Last year I started working for an organization more than 10 km away from home. After asking my local dealer about the hybrid bike I had bought second-hand a decade earlier and being told it wasn't worth 100 CAD, I decided it was time for me to buy a new bike.

After much research, I settled on the first proposal from the dealer, a Marin Fairfax SC1. With a 489 USD MSRP, the model is inexpensive, but Wirecutter's review of performance hybrid bicycles convinced me it was a great choice.

The SC1 is a clear upgrade over my previous hybrid. For commuting, the worst problem was the quick release wheels and seatpost. I managed to get these replaced with attachments needing a hexagonal key for 15 CAD (not quite secure, but getting true protection was not affordable). I got Evo mudguards which cover plenty from the local dealer for 32 CAD and a new kickstand since this bike won't fit the usual model attached on the wheel's axis.

After a few months of usage, I was about to write I couldn't find any flaw in the SC1 when the rear brakes degraded. The same local dealer who had sold me the bike told me the brake pads needed replacing. I didn't get new pads yet, but the pads do look used, and I'm a little annoyed to be told I should replace these after less than 5 months of non-continuous usage, with well under a megameter traveled. In the end, the 1 weak point mentioned by the Wirecutter, brakes, which I thought wouldn't really matter, seems to constitute a significant con indeed.

But I remain very satisfied, and I must thank Wirecutter for its incredibly comprehensive and high quality guide.

Don't Quit Your Day Job... but Don't Trust DQYDJ

admin Sunday January 7, 2018

In 2016, Don't Quit Your Day Job... asked Start with us: how do you know you can trust DQYDJ?

In October 2017, I searched for historical data on ROI to convince my mother to be less conservative in her investment. The most interesting tool I found was DQYDJ's S&P 500 Historical Return Calculator.

When I presented the data to my mother, I realized the data did not make sense. I apologized, stopped, then looked at the data again with much focus. Eventually, I understood what the results mean. In fact, the statistics are even more useful than my initial understanding. But unfortunately, nothing in the tables nor in the accompanying text invalidates my initial interpretation.

I then showed the calculator to a brilliant friend who knows personal finance at least as well as I do, and asked him to explain his understanding of the results, without directing his answer. His interpretation was the same as the one I made initially. Undoubtedly, the calculator is misleading. And badly misleading. If the -6% 10-year minimum return is understood as the return of the worst year from 2008 to 2018, it is very far from the reality, which is -38% (2008). Making financial decisions based on this bad interpretation could easily lead to bankruptcy.

So I scrolled through the comments at the bottom of the page and found none reporting this issue. I was about to write one when I realized that the page did not allow new comments. In fact, it seems impossible to comment most DQYDJ pages.

So I went to the Contact Us page, which offered a form to send a message. I informed DQYDJ of their issue with comments through that form. Months later, the calculator remains misleading, and DQYDJ did not even reply to my message. And guess what - DQYDJ has been posting numerous new articles meanwhile.

I am sure that DQYDJ is actually trying to help its readers. This issue is clearly unintended. Unfortunately, finance is not a simple topic, and trying to help someone with finances can easily have the opposite effect in the end. DQYDJ's calculator is not wrong. If DQYDJ was targeted at economists, I would not be denouncing. But DQYDJ claims its audience includes beginners, and its calculator has the "Personal Finance" tag.

Investing its resources in creating new material while failing to give minimal care for existing material is an inexcusable management issue, and for that, my answer to DQYDJ's question is unfortunately that DQYDJ cannot be trusted.

Mountain Equipment Coop, les feux à DEL Turtle et la censure

admin Monday January 1, 2018

En tant que propriétaire de 2 feux à DEL Turtle, j'ai publié une évaluation du feu arrière à DEL rouge Turtle de MEC sur MEC.CA.

J'ai ensuite reçu le courriel qui suit :

Afin de pouvoir afficher votre évaluation sur notre site internet, nous devons vous demander de la modifier légèrement. Étant donné que celle-ci contient le nom d’un autre détaillant (Amazon), nous ne pouvons malheureusement pas la publier sur notre site. Nous vous invitons à soumettre à nouveau votre évaluation en retirant tout simplement le mot Amazon. J’ai copié votre commentaire ci-dessous avec le nom à supprimer surligné afin que vous n’ayez pas à le réécrire.

Peut avoir un comportement ironique si utilisé l'hiver. Appuyer sur le bouton peut ne faire aucun changement si la lampe est trop froide. Il faut parfois appuyer des dizaines de fois pour parvenir à éteindre.
C'est signe qu'il faut remplacer les piles, 2 piles CR2032. Environ 1$ chacune chez Amazon (ce ne sont pas des piles très courantes, ce sera plus cher en pharmacie).

N’hésitez pas à prendre contact avec moi si vous avez d’autres questions.

On se rejoint dehors,

Que pensez-vous de ma réponse à votre courriel? Faites-nous-en part en cliquant ici.

Alex G.
Mountain Equipment Co-op
Centre de services
1077, rue Great Norther Way
Vancouver, C.-B. Canada V5Y 1E1

Désolé, Alex, mais si vous ne pouvez publier mon commentaire, je ne peux pas vous dire ce que je pense de votre réponse. Et je ne pourrai pas non plus continuer à aider vos employeurs au risque d'être à nouveau censuré par des gens appliquant des règlements sans discernement.

Féminisme exagéré

admin Tuesday December 5, 2017

Le féminisme encourage généralement les femmes à se faire confiance, pour égaler les hommes. Si ce féminisme typique est bien vu, décourager les hommes serait sans doute exagéré.

C'est pourtant dans cette voie que nous amène la journaliste Noémi Merci en signant l'article « Vas-y, t'es capable! », publié dans le numéro de décembre 2017 du magazine L'Actualité, étude à l'appui.

Les inégalités entre sexes s'expliquent par de nombreux facteurs, mais si la disparité entre prétentions masculines et capacités en est un majeur, il faut maintenant se demander pourquoi l'allocation du pouvoir se laisse influencer par ces prétentions.

British Columbia's Provincial Liberals Announce Their Top Priority: British Columbia's Provincial Liberals

admin Sunday December 3, 2017

In the fall of 2018, British Columbia voters will be voting in a referendum on proportional representation. This is of course a threat for members of parties favored by FPTP. It is not a surprise that threatened parties oppose reform. What is surprising is to see them admit just how important disproportional representation is to them.

BC Liberal leadership candidate Dianne Watts wrote:
If we do not defeat this referendum, there will be no majority, there will be forever a minority of BC Liberals…. Defeating proportional representation is my #1 priority. I am hell-bent on defeating it.

Not health care.
Not economic growth and prosperity.
Not the People. Nor its will.

Fausse alerte, Google n'a pas fumé de joint

admin Saturday November 4, 2017

J'ai pris connaissance de l'étude High intelligence: A risk factor for psychological and physiological overexcitabilities. Malgré les limites méthodologiques de cette étude préliminaire, je l'ai signalée à un ami extrêmement intelligent mais souffrant d'une grave allergie qui vit à l'autre bout du Canada, en lui écrivant un courriel par l'interface web de Gmail. En déclenchant l'envoi, j'ai été surpris de voir apparaître :

Gmail wrote:

Avez-vous oublié votre pièce jointe?

Vous avez écrit "joint" dans votre message, mais sans joindre de fichier. Voulez-vous tout de même envoyer votre message?

Curieux, j'ai relu mon message et rapidement compris que l'inquiétude de Google provenait de ma conclusion :

Philippe Cloutier wrote:
Prends ça du bon côté; bin vite on va pouvoir se fumer un gros joint ensemble légalement, question de retrouver un QI plus viable pour un p'tit bout :-)

Dealing with costochondritis

admin Monday September 25, 2017

During fall 2015, I developed chest pain. In a matter of 2 or 3 days, pain went from null to highly disabling. I was then told I had developed costochondritis, which I had never heard about. Possibly as a result of strenuous exercise, or playing tennis.

At peak intensity, lying in the most comfortable position was painful if I didn't pay attention to my breathing. I then applied ice, took a couple sick days, NSAID, and about as fast as it had came, the pain went away.

Mostly. Unfortunately, ever since, I frequently experienced lesser pain on and around the affected rib, in particular when exercising, but also sometimes when doing everyday movements, unpredictably. This was worrying enough that I diminished/changed my exercises to avoid worsening the situation. Unfortunately, 3 months ago an acute costochondritis struck again (probably just a relapse).

This setback is quite frustrating, but on the positive side, I took it more seriously and it allowed me to study and understand what caused pain. Put simply, pain occurs when the breast is inflated. Which means that breathing is painful, but not if you breathe only with the belly. In the acute phase, breathing abdominally rather than apically will allow you to breathe without pain.

This is very simple to do once, but very hard to keep doing, since most of us don't breathe consciously. To force myself to stop breathing apically (with the top), I even strapped my chest with a lace, which can work.

Another source of pain is torsions. One thing which is very clear during the acute phase in the pain caused by rising and laying down, if you're used to doing so without using your hands (i.e., if you use your abdominals). An important lesson if you experience pain rising and lying down is that torsions are a lot less painful when your chest is deflated. But naturally, we tend to inflate the chest before rising or lying down. When you suffer from costochondritis, you should either switch positions without torsion, or go against that tendency and deflate your chest before rising or lying down.

If you exercise your abs, you should also expect pain, since most involve flexing the abdomen, and we tend to do that with the chest inflated. Exercising the abs while breathing abdominally is difficult or impossible. An alternative is to do the "plank" (static exercise on your forearms).

Good recovery

SMTP error 452 4.1.0 "requested action aborted: try again later #AUP504"

admin Thursday September 21, 2017

If your SMTP server on Bell is failing to send mail from a web application with an obscure/misleading error like the following, just avoiding a foreign sender address (like @gmail.com) may solve.

Mail delivery failed: returning message to sender wrote:

This message was created automatically by mail delivery software.

A message that you sent could not be delivered to one or more of its
recipients. This is a permanent error. The following address(es) failed:

host smtp.bellnet.ca []
SMTP error from remote mail server after MAIL FROM:<chealer@gmail.com> SIZE=2471:
452 4.1.0 requested action aborted:
try again later #AUP504: retry timeout exceeded

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