Thursday, November 8, 2012

Crazy Concoction

Daniel's science project for this week is Crazy Concoction.  The concoction part was easy.  He was going to make slime.  But the point of the project is not jut to make a concoction, but to sell this concoction to a made-up entity called "Collaborative Calamity Science".  Which essentially is to come up with a marketing plan, complete with collateral, to present to the CCS and convince them this is the concoction will change the world.  Pretty ambitious for Grade 2!

So, why would anyone want to buy slime?  What is it good for?  It's slimey.

So the trick is to re-purpose this slime.  Slime is cool and sticks to you.  Daniel thinks that you can stick it con your forehead to cool you down.  Say, you have a fever.  Instead of sticking a wet cold cloth on your forehead, which rolls off as you move, you stick slime on your forehead.  That's a start!

The next step is to establish your target market.  Children who don't like to take yucky medicine when they have a fever are Daniel's target customers (or rather, their parents).

Now, we need a cool name.  A name that does not contain the word "slime" in it.  After trying on a few names, Daniel decided "Fever Fighter" has the right ring to his concoction.  He will brand it by making it blue.

Daniel wrote down the ingredient list and now had to choose a presentation format.  He decided to make a brochure.  The front is eye catching and clearly communicates its value proposition:  Does your child have a fever and does not want to take yucky medicine?  Then you have to try Fever Fighter!  You open the brochure, you read the instructions on the left panel (how to use), complete with caution (do not eat fever fighter) , and you have graphic demonstration of "before" and "after". Before: a nasty parent forcing a child to eat medicine.  After: sticking fever fighter on a child's forehead and everybody's smiling.  Again, the value proposition cannot be any clearer.  You open the right flap and the middle panel shows a picture of the blue fever fighter and the big words saying: Buy it from Collaborative Calamity Science.  That's a big sell job!  The right panel shows a happy child with fever fighter stuck on head with glowing testimonial.  The back panel shows another picture of fever fighter.

I don't remember doing any hands-on science projects in grade 2, let alone coming up with such imaginative presentation material.  I certainly did not make any presentation until well into grade 7.  Some of my clients are having difficulty pitching their product / business and clearly convince me to give them interest-free loan.  So I guess we start them young in the current education system. Doesn't matter what you come up with - be it blue slime or mobile app that ranks sliminess of individuals, you need to be able to clearly articulate your value proposition, appeal to your target market, and present with clarity and confidence.

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Canada 3.0 Conference - Digital Media

I went to Canada 3.0 Conference for Digitial Media and met many companies and post-sencondary institutions developing interesting technologies that would make our lives easier.

OCAD University showcased their research collaboration project with Entact Robotics on haptic holography.  The result was an advancement in digital holography technology that captures holographic data and reconstructs it onto a 3D surface. Combining the two forms of technology, and the sensing technollogy of XBox 360 Kinect, could break ground in synthetic reality, as well as the ability to interact with holographic space.  Consider the application of this technology in the medical field.  A physician can use the 3D-holographic model to practice performing medical procedures (such as a spinal tab) and receives tactile feedback.

Capturing the cultural challengs of social media usage, ANTVibes have developed an Audio Name Tag  (ANT) which users can embed into their contact info.  The ANT takes the guessing game out of the pronounciation of a name.  It is a simple idea and it is simple to implement.  It is especially helpful for large multi-national entreprises to implement their policies on respect and inclusion.  Here is my Audible Name Tag (ANT).

I also met a young company that has developed an intelligent parking system.  They landed their first customer recently - the City of San Jose in Costa Rica.  Imagine you are stuck in a meeting that is going on forever.  All you need to do is to access your parking account via your smartphone and load up more time on the meter.  The next time you drive downtown you can find out in real-time, which parking lot is full before you make your way there.  Another technology making our lives easier.

True Voice Technologies is an innovator of speech enabled solutions for live interactive web solutions.  Their solution, Talk-2-Me, is an affordable web technology that converts interest to action.  Say, you are browsing for a used car and came across one to your liking.  You can click on the embedded Talk-2-Me button on the webpage, and connect to the seller of the vehicle (a dealership) via an anonymously VoIP call.  The inquirer does not need to provide any personal information while making this inquiry; while it provides an opportunity for a live person at the dealership to convert this interest into a lead (test drive, negotiation, and sale).  For individuals, consider your family member is travelling abroad where international calling can be very costly, while internet connection may be economical.  Free VoIP calls can be placed via Talk-2-Me on their family website.  Great savings!

Ever participated in online discussion forums where you feel like nothing was accomplished?  Powernoodles has developed an online group decision making tool where participants use avatars to participate in a moderated online brainstorming session.  This is intelligent virtual collaboration at work.

I am greatly encouraged by the progress and new ideas people are developing and implementing.  Hope to see more success next year!

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

The House of Chickenpox

After two rounds of common cold / influenza virus at our house, and the scare of H1N1 influenza virus, we were graced by the arrival of the varicella-zoster virus.

Daniel was four, and his symptoms were relatively mild.  He had about fifty blisters over his body, mild fever for a day or two, and tired easily.  We did our best to seperate him from his younger sister once his rashes developed.

On the one hand, relatives kept telling us that it would be better if Audrey got chickenpox as well, so as to get it over with.  They reasoned that it would be a mild case for young kids.  I was not so sure.  Afterall, Audrey was barely fifteen months old, and her immune system was not as developed as Daniel.

I was just about to breathe a sigh of relieve after two weeks of taking care of Daniel, when Audrey started to develop a rash.  Sure enough, blisters started breaking out all over her body over the next two to three days.  There were over a hundred blisters covering her scalp, face, ears, neck, torso, underarms, back, limps, and worst of all, her genital area.  She had a very high fever for one to two days, and her head was so itchy that she couldn't sleep at night.  I was giving her oatmeal baths twice a day and constantly covering her blisters in calamine lotion.

Just as fast and furious as the rashes arrived, they were also drying up quite fast.  Except for the rashes in her genital area, most rashes were drying up after five or six days.

The other issue that came up was the contagious nature of chickenpox and going out in public.  Before I realized either of my kids had chickenpox, they have been out in public in the company of their friends.  That happened to be a contagious stage for the virus.  So without knowing it, we may have been spreading the chickenpox virus around in the general public.  I am sure that's how Daniel got the virus to begin with.  So the cycle goes.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Finally! Got the H1N1 Flu Vaccine

After our whole family has recovered from being sick (we passed around cold/flu and took turns to be sick after Halloween), we are finally ready for the H1N1 flu shot.

After hearing about the soreness on the arm and possible flu-like symptons that ensure, I decided not to innoculate both kids at the same time.  It would have been too much to handle two cranky, sick kids at the same time.  Again.

So I picked up Daniel after school one day, and drove him to the Oakville H1N1 flu shot clinic at the Halton Regional Centre.  He was very intrigued.

“Where are we going?”  Daniel asked every 5 minutes.

After we parked our car, we started walking towards the building.  Daniel pointed to the orange traffic cones that line the entrance and asked, “are we going through this maze?”  We were directed inside the building and the “maze”`continued.  As we snaked through the line Daniel kept asking questions.
“Is the virus chasing us?”

“Is everybody here getting the shot?”

I explained to him about the vaccine and reminded him that he has had vaccines when he was a baby. We called it “needle.”

“I don’t like the needle.”

I was beginning to panic. Especially I could hear children wailing inside the auditorium.

Once inside, Daniel chose a sticker. He was happy.

We answered all the questions and completed our registration. I was relieved to hear that they have now officially amended the policy to only administer one half doze of H1N1 flu vaccine to kids.

We rejoined the line to get the “needle.” Daniel continued with his questions, “why are they crying?” pointing to the children at the stations. I explained that they are not brave like Daniel. Daniel has always been a brave boy with needles and barely cries. He was getting convinced.

We finally reached a nursing station and I sat Daniel down and started talking to the nurse. Daniel still had his Lightning Macqueen tattoo on his left arm, which he was showing off to the nurse. Then I distracted him by giving him “a rock of his own,” a pebble we picked up at the pebble beach the weekend before. Daniel was looking at the rock when the nurse gave him the needle. He flinched and said “ouch.” That was it. No tears or screaming. I was so relieved. The nurse put a Chicken Little band-aid on his arm, and it was my turn. Surprisingly, it did not hurt at all.

We went to the observation room to stay for 15 minutes. Kung Fu Panda was playing on a TV. Daniel joined the children at the TV, with his treats and juice. The 15 minutes of Kung Fu Panda was the most memorable moments of this trip as he kept asking me questions about the story the following days.

I am happy to report that my arm was only sore for the first 12 hours. And only when I lifted my arm which engaged the muscle where the shot was administered. Daniel says his arm hurts where he had the needle. But I`m not convinced. I think it was ``suggested`` to him and is not really what he feels.

We`ll have to go through the whole thing again with Audrey, which will not be pleasant like with Daniel. 

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

H1N1 Influenza Vaccine

The flu season is upon us. This season we are blessed with the new strain of H1N1 flu, which has been making its appearance around the world. When the first cases of swine flu first appeared in Mexico in April this year, I was following the development with interest. Reports of non-elderly people falling ill and in some cases dying from the H1N1 flu worried me. Now, with my older child in kindergarten and my younger child still so young, the worry genes as a mother kick in.

The H1N1 influenza vaccine is now available to high priority group, such as young children. I am questioning whether to get my children immunized. The side effects of this vaccine is reported to be much like a regular flu shot, namely, soreness/redness around the site of the shot, nausea, fever, headache/muscle ache. The media has also been reporting the risk of Guillain-Barré Syndrome brought on after receiving the vaccine. Guillain-Barré Syndrome (GBS) is an auto-immune system disorder in which part of the peripheral nervous system is attacked by its own system. A serious case may lead to paralysis. The risk of GBS has been most prominently highlighted.

After doing some research, it seems that most vaccines may trigger GBS. It seems that there are more cases of GBS associated with H1N1 flu vaccine than with regular flu vaccine. But is that such a cause for concern?

I am still undecided as get my children vaccinated or not. I'd welcome all your comments on this matter.

Related Articles:
H1N1 Outbreak at Mount Sinai Hospital (Toronto)
H1N1 Outbreak at Another Toronto Hospital
Patients with Egg Allergy be Aware; Additional Info

It is interesting to note that the US and Canada opted for different approaches to distributing the H1N1 flu vaccine.

In the US, the H1N1 flu has been described as a national emergency and everyone has been urged to get vaccinated. The vaccine ordered by US health authorities is one without adjuvant, an immune-boosting agent to the receiver of the vaccine. The adjuvant also allow vaccine makers to use less antigen, the active ingredient in vaccines, meaning that they can produce significantly more vaccine – four to five times more – than would be possible without adjuvants. In the US, there is already a shortfall of the vaccine.

By contrast, in Canada, public health officials have been promoting to the public the importance of good personal hygene, in combination of getting vaccinated. The bulk of the vaccine ordered by Canada is an adjuvanted one. The vaccine (Arepanrix) is manufactured by GSK, in Dresden, Germany, as well as Quebec. Much debate has beem prompted relating to the adjuvanted vaccine in Canada. The adjuvant being added to the vaccine is called AS03. It's a natural combination of several substances, including vitamin E and squalene derived from shark liver. Although this particular adjuvant hasn't been used in a Canadian influenza vaccine before, it has been tested on about 45,000 individuals using a vaccine designed to fight the H5N1 avian influenza. Adjuvants have also been widely used in Europe, and have been included in some other Canadian vaccines. The delivery of the H1N1 vaccine to the Canadian public has only just started this week, and only people on the high priority list are getting the vaccine first.

I have thoroughly researched and debated the merits of getting the H1N1 flu vaccine and the risk of having the adjuvant trigger Guillain-Barré Syndrome. It is a terrifying to learn that two healthy children (age 10 and 13) who fell ill and died from H1N1 flu in the last two weeks. And now, with the proper research into the risk, I have made up my mind to get my two children vaccinated, next week. Having to wait in line for six and half hours to get the needle is more terrifying to me.

Detailed Analysis of the 3 H1N1 Flu Vaccines (both Adjuvanted and Not) Produced by GSK, Baxter, and Novartis

Thursday, October 22, 2009

The Concept of Marriage

My son raised the concept of marriage last night, and we had a hard time containing our laughs while trying our best to explain the concept to him.

D: "When I am older, I will be married with Audrey."

Me: "You don't get married to your sister. You marry your wife."

D: "Mommy, can you be my wife?"

Me: "No. I am your mommy and will always be your mommy."

D: "Then who will be my wife?"

Me: "You will need to find a wife for yourself."

Does that seem like a daunting task? It must be, as a lot of men are still puzzled as to how to find a wife (or the right wife) for themselves.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Raise Your Kids Without Raising Your Voice

I went to listen to Sarah Chana Radcliffe, author of "Raise Your Kids Without Raising Your Voice" speak last night. The talk was held at a local high school auditorium and the place was packed.

I have read the book before and have picked up a few techniques to use on parenting Daniel. I must admit I have mixed success. Lately I find myself yelling at him more often or more severely than I would like to. So I thought going to talk would help me review the techniques and maybe pick up some new strategies. (My own book is currently making the rounds on loan to other parents.)

Mrs. Radcliffe has six children and is now a grandmother of four. She's also a registered psychologist. Her talk was engaging, relevant, and her delivery humorous. A lot of parents in the audience asked questions throughout the talk to clarify the techniques and the use of techniques. The talk gave me the renewed confidence and motivation to improve my own parenting skills.

The five strategies Mrs. Radcliffe covered were 80/20 Rule, Emotional Coaching, the CLeaR Method, the 2x Rule, and the Relationship Rule.

80/20 Rule
The idea is that we, as parents must strike a balance between good feelings and not-so-good feeling communications with our children. The happier our children feel when they're around us, the more they will want to please us. Mrs. Radcliffe gave examples of how to communicate when we need to make a correction in our children's behaviour. She also talked about the importance of using positive words in our communications. Instead of catching our children doing something wrong and having to reprimand them, we catch them doing the right things and praise them. That way, children will focus on doing the good things that earn praises.

Emotional Coaching
As Mrs. Radcliffe puts it, kids are generally predisposed in a certain way. My son Daniel is a fearful child. Monsters, giants, ghosts aside, he is most fearful of being rejected by us. This fear can erupt into intense emotional outbursts, which we sometimes mistake for him throwing a tantrum or being very naughty. This is one area where I need to work on more, to coach Daniel into identifying and expressing his emotions. Tonight I had to awake Daniel from his afternoon nap at dinner time. He was exhausted and it took me more than half an hour to calm him from crying and refusal to eat. But just as sudden as his sleepiness wore off, he snapped from his whines and came downstairs. At the dinner table he again refused to eat. But as soon as he sat down, he started eating without fuss.

CLeaR Method
CLeaR stands for Comment, Label, Reward. This is an example of catching the child doing something good or behaving the way we like. Comment on the desired action. Label the good behaviour. And Reward the child. This is designed to reinforce the good behaviour. A good example Mrs. Radcliffe gave was this: A child was very sloppy with his homework. Instead of picking on all the bad handwriting, the parent picked on one good letter. "Wow! This 'a' is right on the line! You are such a neat writer. You get a sticker for this really neat 'a'." The CLeaR Method here is used to correct a problem, and motivates the child to care about doing something well. The key is to focus on one thing at a time. It takes time to change some one's behavior.

2x Rule
The 2x Rule is a disciplinary tool. A parent sees an unacceptable behavior that warrants disciplinary actions. There are 2 types of disciplinary actions. One is a "Right Priced Ticket," akin to a $100 speeding ticket when we are catch speeding by the traffic police. The other is a "Jail-level" punishment, a consequence when we refuse or forget to pay our ticket fine. For example, a parent asks a child to stop hitting his sibling once. She asks again the second time, and lays out the consequence. In this case, five minutes at the punish corner. If the child refuses to go to the punish corner or leaves the punish corner before the time is up, the Jail-level will be imposed. It could be a removal of a privilege that means a lot to this child.

Relationship Rule
A simple rule to abide by: the parent expects the child to treat them with respect, the same way they treat the child with respect. It is a life long process to nurture the relationship with our children.

All of these techniques and concepts are excellent and need a lot of practice. I will need constant reminder to steer myself in the right parenting direction.

For more information on Sarah Chana Radcliffe and her books, check out