Tracy's blog

I’m Tracy Au and I have graduated from the Professional Writing program from university. I am an aspiring screenwriter, so this blog is used to promote my writing and attract people who will hire me to write for your TV show or movie. I write a lot about writing, TV, movies, jokes, and my daily life and opinions. I have another blog promoting my TV project at

Sunday, February 5, 2017

"Meet the team that customizes toys for disabled children"/ health- related apps

Dec. 29, 2016 "Meet the team that customizes toys for disabled children": Today I found this article by Jason Dearen in the Globe and Mail.  Engineering and physical therapy students team up together to convert store-bought toys so that disabled children can play with them.  How deep and meaningful of a job:

Because of her cerebral palsy, four-year-old Scarlett Wilgis has trouble opening her hands and can’t get around without help. Her parents have scoured store shelves and websites for toys for her but have mostly been disappointed.

“Finding the toys at Wal-Mart or Target, they’re pretty much non-existent,” said mom Dezaraye Wilgis, sitting with Scarlett in front of their twinkling Christmas tree in St. Augustine, Fla. “Or if you get them through a medical supplier they’re extremely expensive.”

While major toy makers have changed with the times and sell dolls with wheelchairs and crutches, those designed to be used by children with severe disabilities are still difficult, if not impossible, to find. Because the toys have to be customized for each child, the cost can skyrocket.

This conundrum gave two University of North Florida professors an idea: mix engineering and physical therapy students in a lab with the goal of converting toys from store shelves into custom-made fun for disabled children. The Adaptive Toy Project is now in its third year and has drawn a five-year grant from the National Institutes of Health (NIH). It is helping families such as Scarlett’s while giving the students a dose of community service and real-world experience that will stick with them long after graduation.

Dr. Alison Cernich, a neuropsychologist and director at the NIH’s Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, said the agency funded the program because it forces students from different fields to collaborate and solve a problem in the community.

“This program is getting students in the early phases of their training thinking about ordinary objects, toys, and how to adapt those toys so that children with limitations can use and play with them like children without limitations,” she said.

On a recent day, the school’s small lab buzzed with the sound of tools and chatter as students customized cars for their new owners.

Chris Martin, an electrical engineering student, had removed the hood of Scarlett’s car, exposing its wires.

A large push button replaced the steering, and light sensors mounted underneath the car will allow it to follow a line of tape along the floor whenever Scarlett hits the button. Now, Scarlett’s parents can design routes for the car with tape or use a remote-control mode for family walks.

When Martin first met Scarlett’s mother, “she actually cried, and it just made me want to work harder,” Martin said. “I just want to make it as perfect as possible for her.”

The cars retail between $250 (U.S.) and $500; the customization makes them worth well over $1,000. The families, about 18 so far, get the cars free.

Mary Lundy, a UNF professor of physical therapy who started the Adaptive Toy Project with an engineering colleague, said the students meet with families, and go to therapy appointments and schools.

“Engineering students teach the physical therapy students how to modify basic electronics … and in the process engineers learn how to do people-centred designs, and how to look at their clients differently,” Lundy said.

For the kids, it’s also a way to continue important therapies through play.

Dr. Peter Rosenbaum, a professor of pediatrics at McMaster University in Hamilton, said his field is increasingly focusing on “augmented mobility,” to give kids a way to move around so they can be more independent.

“We can’t fix them,” Rosenbaum said. “What we can do instead is say, ‘What would a child at this age and stage of development be doing if they didn’t have their impairment? How can we give them those experiences?’ This changes the perspectives of everyone around her, and her perspective of herself.”

UNF’s program is one of 60 related toy-car programs for disabled children internationally that are part of the Go Baby Go network, but is the only one that has enlisted students to customize the vehicles for free.

After weeks of work, Scarlett finally tested the car Martin and his colleagues built. They strapped her in and showed her how to hit the push button in the toy she would hopefully use for at least three years. The car drove forward, and Scarlett rocked back and forth. Her mother fought back tears, and her father walked alongside her.

“For her, she’s going to be able to get out more and not be trapped by a wheelchair … and for us it’ll be nice to see her interact with other children. It’s amazing,” Dezaraye said.

"Useful health-related apps are out there": Today I found this article by Paul Taylor in the Globe and Mail.  This is a good article about health apps.  There are a lot of health apps and for things like how many steps you take and calories all that.  A helpful app, but there is a lot of competition.

As my New Year’s resolution, I plan to pay more attention to my health. I must admit I am a bit of a techno geek. Can you recommend any apps that can help me achieve my goal?


There are literally tens of thousands of health-related smartphone apps. But identifying the good ones can be a lot like finding the proverbial needle in a haystack. The vast majority of health apps are downloaded, used maybe once or twice, and then abandoned.

Even so, some apps can be extremely effective in helping people take charge of their own health, says Dr. Edward Brown, CEO of Ontario Telemedicine Network (OTN), a non-profit organization funded by the provincial and federal governments.

Dr. Brown is a big believer in the power of technology to solve many of the challenges facing our health-care system.

OTN, which he founded, created a video-conferencing network that enables Ontario patients who live in remote locations to have virtual doctor appointments in their own communities or homes.

Dr. Brown sees apps as cost-effective and readily available tools for aiding patients. They let people keep track of their medical condition on a daily basis. That kind of information can help them stay motivated between doctor appointments.

Yet only about 15 per cent of family physicians recommend apps to their patients, Brown says. Maybe they just don’t know what to suggest – given a large number of apps are of questionable value.

To take the guesswork out of the selection process, OTN has begun a new service to review and rate health-related apps so physicians can feel comfortable recommending them.

A team of nine family doctors and one pediatrician will take turns evaluating apps, based on their background and interests.

The review method was designed by Dr. Payal Agarwal, a family physician and Innovation Fellow at Women’s College Hospital Institute for Health System Solutions and Virtual Care (WIHV).

The reviewers will look at four or five of the most popular apps for a particular health area and provide ratings based on various features including clinical effectiveness, usability, reliability, as well as privacy and security.

Although the primary target audience is family doctors, patients can also see the ratings online at

“Our goal is to use everyday language so that this is accessible to anyone in the general public,” Agarwal says.

So far, they have rated apps for migraine headaches, high blood pressure, insomnia, alcohol consumption and quitting smoking. The team plans to issue a new review every two weeks.

The reviews tend to be focused on chronic illnesses. But the team wants to branch into apps for helping healthy people stay healthy.

So, what makes a good app? Ease of use is certainly important.

Agarwal points to the example of apps for managing high blood pressure. Some blood-pressure cuffs, she notes, can use Bluetooth technology to transmit readings directly to a smartphone or other electronic device, and the app then records the information. In the past, patients might have been asked to keep a paper diary of their blood-pressure readings. Now that can be done electronically. “It certainly makes the entire process a lot easier,” Agarwal says.

Good apps can also provide clues to the things that might improve a patient’s well-being. For instance, certain migraine apps can help identify the triggers that bring on the debilitating headaches. “If you can find patterns, you might be able to avoid them – and that can help you better manage your own condition,” Agarwal says. Furthermore, feedback is key to a successful app. In some cases, an app will warn when a vital health indicator, such as blood pressure, is starting to creep outside the normal range. “This might be the time to see your family doctor again,” Agarwal says.

Dr. Sharon Domb, division director of family practice at Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre, says OTN’s effort to evaluate apps is a “worthwhile endeavour.”

She routinely recommends apps to her patients. However, they are not suitable for everyone. “People operate differently,” Domb says. “Some patients like apps, others still prefer information on a piece of paper.”

But possibly the biggest obstacle to the full utilization of apps is the health-care system itself.

The electronic medical records used by many doctors’ offices are not able to collect and store information from apps in a useful format, Domb says.

Ideally, you would want to share the data with members of your health-care team, so you could benefit from their input and expertise. Many apps, of course, allow patients to create and print summaries of clinically useful information. As a general rule, though, “we don’t have the electronic integration at this point,” she says. Until that happens, you may not get the most out of an app.

Still, if you feel an app can motivate you, OTN’s ratings may help you find one that suits your needs.

Paul Taylor is a patient navigation adviser at Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre. He is a former Health Editor of The Globe and Mail. You can find him on Twitter @epaultaylor and online at Sunnybrook’s Your Health Matters

Feb. 3, 2017 Nutritionists and dieticians: This is a deep and meaningful job because it's about health.  However, there seems to be a lot of science in it.



The first step is to earn a Bachelor’s degree in food and nutrition from a university program that has been accredited by the Partnership for Dietetic Education and Practice (PDEP). These programs include a range of subjects such as:

  • basic science (chemistry, biochemistry, physiology, microbiology)
  • social sciences and communications
  • profession-related courses, such as food science lifecycle, disease specific, community nutrition and food service management

My week:

Jan. 30, 2017 Health: My health is still not good.  I'm resting.

Fish: I ate some fish from my first restaurant job.  It wasn't very good, so I put a lot of ketchup on it.  I can eat food I don't like by putting sauce on it.  I hardly ever throw out food.

New words: I was reading the newspaper and wrote down some words to look up:

A hagiography /ˌhæɡiˈɒɡrəfi/[1] is a biography of a saint or an ecclesiastical leader. The term hagiography may be used to refer to the biography of a saint or highly developed spiritual being in any of the world's spiritual traditions.

Horcrux: This is from Harry Potter.

the middle class, typically with reference to its perceived materialistic values or conventional attitudes. 
(in Marxist contexts) the capitalist class who own most of society's wealth and means of production.

Catskills: I was at work and someone said this and now I'm looking it up:

Say goodbye to the hustle and bustle and hello to the Catskills - where you’ll find boundless acres of landscapes ripe with opportunities for outdoor adventure, farm-to-table meals straight from the field and onto your plate, and festivals and events  that rivals any big-city lineup. The Catskills are perfect for a quick weekend getaway from the city or week-long vacation with family or friends. This is the ultimate destination to travel to when you need to let go of all of life’s worries and find that slice of ‘Zen.’ Whether that’s finding your casting rhythm on a stream or river, hiking to new heights in the Catskill Mountains, or discovering a new favorite brew... well, that’s entirely up to you.

Jan. 31, 2017 Clay and Cupcakes: I was looking for a job and I found this company where you can paint some pottery and eat cupcakes there.  I have seen those pottery places, but they never sell food.

Tom Brady's emotional answer: I found this on Yahoo news:

The New England Patriots quarterback and future Hall of Famer fielded all kinds of queries on Monday night, from the serious (President Trump) to the asinine (on his hot tub habits), but his perma-grin gave way to true emotion when a 7-year-old sat on top of Trent Dilfer’s shoulders and asked Brady to name his hero.

The boy’s name is Joseph Perez, and he lives in Paris, Calif. He collects trading cards and he won a Panini Super Bowl Kid Reporter contest that allowed him to ask one question of Tom Brady. Joseph got his moment and asked, “Many people think you’re their hero, but who’s your hero?”

Brady was quick to start and slow to finish.

“I think my dad is my hero because he’s someone I look up to every day,” he said. And Brady choked up, with tears filling his eyes.

The quarterback collected himself and fought to keep his smile for the little boy. He praised little Joseph’s question.

Then Dilfer turned around and walked Perez out of the throng of reporters.
“My question made him cry!” Joseph exclaimed.

The restaurant job search: In 2015, I was working at an office job in the home installation place.  I worked there for 3 months and it was a heavy workload for me and I worked at my restaurant job on the weekends. 

The home installation place didn't work out, and I decided to revisit my jobs at other restaurants I have worked at before.  After 2 and a half months, I was able to get a restaurant job.  It was another location I had worked at years before.

Now I'm looking for a restaurant job where I can get hr. wages and tips.  When my 1st restaurant job calls me, I always ask my 2nd restaurant job manager if I can work at the 1st restaurant job.

The 1st restaurant job, I get hr. wages and tips daily.  The 2nd restaurant job only pays tips twice a year.

I wrote the above a few hrs ago.  I'm on Kijiji looking in the restaurants section.  They're hiring and I'm applying.  However, there are a lot of restaurants that are really far away like 2 buses and a LRT to get there, so I don't apply there.

If you guys know of any restaurant jobs that pay with tips, please tell me about it.

Reelfacts: I found out about this program.  It's VLT staff training to recognize gambling problems:

Hyatt Place: There is one hotel that opened in downtown, but I learned there is one in the west end.

Tip Top Tailors: This clothing store is not going very well and may be closing.

Feb. 1, 2017 Rogers Place: S told me I should apply here, so I applied to a few positions.

NAIT food services: My mom told me to apply here.  I have applied their before and have done a few interviews.  However, I checked and they're not hiring for those positions.

Career fair: I went to a career fair last week, and it was mainly schools like healthcare aide and beauty schools.

Freedom 55 Financial: There was this company and I applied here.

Alberta Health Services: I went to the website to look for food service jobs, but they weren't hiring.

Feb. 2, 2017 "Culinary schools cook up new initiatives as enrolment numbers slip": Yesterday I found this article by Susan Allen in the Globe and Mail. It mentioned culinary schools closing.

I guess it stood out to me because it was cooking and I work in a restaurant.  I am not very interested in becoming a cook.

"Instant pot sparks fandom": Yesterday I found this article by Darren Campbell in the Globe and Mail.  It's very efficient and cooks a lot of things fast:

The appliance Mr. Wang and his friends landed on was the electric pressure cooker. They spent 18 months designing their first model, with an eye to making a multipurpose appliance, and named it Instant Pot.

The product hit the market in the summer of 2010, and the sales and popularity of it have been on an upward trajectory ever since. More than two million Instant Pots have been sold around the world, it has an impressive ranking of 4.7 out of five stars on, and there are Facebook groups galore dedicated to discussing all things Instant Pot.

Movie theatres: I am looking at everything like it's a job.  I see that there is good job security here.  A lot of people stream their movies, but people still go to the theatres.

However, I have done an interview when I was 18.  They are mainly hiring people to work on evenings and weekends.

Grocery stores don't give staff discounts: I know someone who worked at Loblaw City market and was told the staff don't get a discount on the food.

I called Safeway and Save-on-foods and they said the same thing.

TGP has a 5% rebate once a yr.

Feb. 3, 2017 Transcend Coffee closing in Mercer Warehouse: I read this in the Edmonton Journal.  Despite that it's by the Rogers Place arena with lots of foot traffic, not a lot of people wanted coffee.

I learned about job security.  Though this business is where it's in a busy place, you can't always make money.


At February 7, 2017 at 9:27 PM , Blogger aonebiz99 said...

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