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

Monday, March 20, 2017

"Tracking down our root of our self-tracking obsession"

Feb. 27, 2017 "Tracking down the root of our self-tracking obsession": Today I found this article by Adriana Barton in the Globe and Mail.  I like the picture:

In the seven years since Fitbit launched its first shipment of ‘wearables,’ has collecting data on ourselves made us healthier, thinner and happier? The jury is still out, but we seem unable to resist technology’s promise to give us more knowledge and power – even if it leaves us trapped in an endless feedback loop.

Everyone has heard of the methodical types who lose weight and get fit after tracking their heart rate, calories and daily steps for a year.

Then there are the rest of us. We may pace our kitchens at night, trying to reach our quota of 10,000 steps. Or feel guilty when we hear phantom beeps from the Garmin wristband we left in a drawer after falling behind on our jogging because of the flu. Or, if we’re dedicated Fitbit users, we may get separation anxiety when we forget our gadget at home, because a walk that goes unmeasured just doesn’t count.

Love it or hate it, self-tracking has become a fixture in modern life. One in three people track their health and fitness using an app or device, according to a 2016 survey of 20,000 people in 16 countries, conducted by the international market research organization GfK. Digital-health industry leaders such as Daniel Kraft, a Harvard-trained physician and medical-device inventor, predict that in the future, “track-a-holism” will be the norm.

Digital taskmasters have already infiltrated every aspect of life. Now we have the Muse “meditation trainer” (a brainwave-monitoring headband) and the Lumo Lift posture-correction device (which zaps you when you slouch). Then there’s the Feel emotion-tracking wristband, which monitors things such as skin temperature and blood-volume pulse to gauge whether you’re happy, angry or sad.

The goal, the manufacturer says, is to “help you achieve your emotional well-being goals.” (No joke.) Self-tracking holds a certain navel-gazing appeal, combined with the tantalizing prospect of self-improvement. But in the seven years since Fitbit launched its first shipment of “wearables,” has collecting data on ourselves made us healthier, thinner, happier?

The jury is still out. One study, published last fall in JAMA, the Journal of the American Medical Association, found that overweight adults who used a fitness tracker for six months lost less weight than their equally active, overweight peers. (Some people may reward themselves with extra food when the fitness tracker shows they have exercised a lot, while others may get discouraged and stop watching what they eat when the tracker shows they have failed to meet their exercise goals, the researchers suggested.)

Others studies show improvements in health behaviours linked to self-tracking. In a 2015 report, marketing researchers Rikke Duus and Mike Cooray surveyed 200 women who wore Fitbits almost constantly. The majority said they had increased their weekly exercise and switched to healthier eating habits. But there was a dark side. Nearly 60 per cent of the women felt their daily routines were controlled by Fitbit, and 30 per cent described the device as a guilt-inducing “enemy.”

Even so, knowledge is power, right? The public scales for measuring one’s weight that once dotted the streets of European cities were built on the same premise. Some of these relics still stand in Paris, inscribed with a motto that translates as, “He who often weighs himself, knows himself well. He who knows himself well, lives well.”

My opinion: I'm going to put that in my inspirational quotes.

One could argue that the invention of the modern weighing scale has only made us more miserable. Nevertheless, if the latest tracking trend is any indication, we cannot resist technology’s promise to give us more knowledge – and with it, more power – even if it leaves us trapped in an endless feedback loop.

What’s at the root of our self-tracking obsession? The Globe and Mail asked specialists in fields ranging from medicine to anthropology to weigh in.

The anthropologist

The urge to monitor the minutiae of our lives dates to the ancient Greeks, who believed in taking daily inventory of activities such as eating, exercise and social interactions, says Natasha Dow Schull, a cultural anthropologist at New York University and author of a forthcoming book called Keeping Track: Personal Informatics, Self-Regulation, and the Data-Driven Life.

What’s changed, she says, is that self-tracking devices can now intervene in our behaviour in the moment.

Once in the realm of geekdom, apps that break down our activities into “really granular digital bits” have saturated Western societies for a reason, she says. “This hyper attention to the self goes along with the retreat of the welfare state, and an increasing emphasis on personal autonomy and self-management through consumer choice-making.”

Through these apps, she argues, people are not only seeking to fulfill this ideal of personal responsibility, but also seeking relief from it. “These devices take the guesswork out of everyday life, they count the steps for you.”

Early versions of wearables such as Fitbit served as compasses, providing data for users to chart, annotate and evaluate over time. But when manufacturers realized that most people didn’t want to interact with their data to that degree, the interfaces became more like “thermostats” that “buzz, tap or zap users into changing their habits,” she says.

Why do we subject ourselves to such treatment? Dow Schull describes self-tracking technologies as “little shields” that help us navigate through the “big toxic mall of choices” that we face every day.

Whether we are trying to manage our weight, hydration or hours of sleep, at another level, she says, “it’s about managing our anxiety.”

The medical doctor

Just like yoga pants and wheat-grass smoothies, wearable gizmos that monitor our vital signs are forms of health “bling,” writes Des Spence, a family physician in Glasgow, Scotland, and a former columnist for the BMJ medical journal.

Now that health and fitness have become status symbols, he says in an interview, “there’s a lot of money to be made from making people feel sick – and, if not sick, then less than perfect.”

For most of us, devices and apps that measure things such as pulse, blood pressure and fetal heart rate in pregnancy are “kind of useless and largely harmless,” he says.

But these pseudo-diagnostic devices may trigger anxiety in people who put too much stock in the data – which may be unreliable, he adds. Fitbit, for example, is currently enmeshed in a class-action lawsuit over the accuracy of its heart-rate tracking.

More broadly, self-tracking devices reinforce the idea that “there’s a right way and a wrong way to live life,” he says. “It’s become increasingly binary.”

At best, he says, they are a distraction from the simple things that people can do to improve their well-being. Spence suggests swimming with a friend, sharing a home-cooked meal with family or walking the dog (without charting the distance or speed). Instead of wasting our time monitoring life, he says, “we should get on with living it.”

The psychologist

The rise of fitness and calorie-tracking devices reflects a fundamental distrust in our own bodies, according to Alexis Conason, a psychologist in New York who treats patients struggling with compulsive eating and poor body image.

The human body evolved with a “very effective appetite regulation and weight-maintenance system,” she says. But these devices encourage us to value data from technology over our internal cues about hunger, satiety and physical activity. “When we undermine our own system for regulating our appetite, it becomes less and less clear over time to even hear what our own body is telling us.”

You might be craving a fresh salad, for example, but if your calorie-counting app says you have 600 calories left for the day, you could end up gorging on rich food “just because you have that extra calorie allotment.”

Data-driven weight loss may come at a price. If someone sheds pounds by self-tracking but develops disordered eating along the way, she asks, “is that a success story?”

The futurist

In the age of information overload, self-tracking apps have emerged as tools for self-reflection, according to John Havens, a contributing writer for and author of Hacking H(app)iness: Why Your Personal Data Counts and How Tracking it Can Change the World.

Even as our news feeds alert us to the F-bomb dropped in Parliament, or a friend’s taco lunch, many of us are using habit-monitoring systems and mood-tracking apps to cut through the chatter and pay closer attention to whether our daily activities serve our inner values, he says.

While these apps are often embedded in our phones, wearable devices act as physical reminders of our goals, says Havens, who wore a Fitbit three years ago to help himself lose 30 pounds.

For many, he adds, investing in self-tracking is a sign of self-esteem, a way of saying, “I am worth tracking.”

Havens acknowledges that some people get obsessed with self-tracking apps, but as he points out, we can obsess over anything. He recommends tracking an aspect of life for a predetermined period and then taking a break.

“It’s when you reflect on it that the data, and the possibility of change, can really sink in.”

The sociologist

The self-tracking trend stems from the digital-age assumption that everything – including emotions – can be rendered as data, and that “data about individuals are emblematic of their true selves,” Australian sociologist Deborah Lupton writes in a 2014 paper titled You are Your Data: Self-tracking Practices and Concepts of Data.

But in practice, self-tracking may have less to do with our “true selves” than the Oprah aspiration to be our “best self.” Despite the veneer of objectivity, numerical data are open to interpretation – by ourselves, our online workout buddies, and the commercial enterprises that collect our stats.

Quoting Australian sociologist Jenny Davis, Lupton notes that self-trackers don’t just collect data to learn about themselves, but also use data to “construct the stories that they tell themselves about themselves.”

Paradoxically, however, our quest for greater self-control through Fitbit or Apple Watch results in a lack of control over our personal data when we log onto the manufacturers’ online platforms. Unlike a paper-based food diary, cloud computing archives of information are open to software developers or hackers to use for their own purposes, Lupton writes in an e-mail.

Through digital technologies, “we can learn a lot about ourselves,” she says, “but so can other people.”

My opinion: This is a meaningful job article, because I mentioned before about creating a health app.

My week:

Mar. 10, 2017 "Police say sex assault by driver was predatory": Today I found this article by Bill Kaufman in the Edmonton Journal.  You should all call a registered cab instead of a ride-share:

City police are seeking a man posing as a ride-share driver who sexually assaulted a female passenger.

On early Sunday morning, a minivan pulled up to a group of people outside a restaurant in the 300 block of 11th Ave. S.W., the driver asking if anyone needed a lift.
The driver said he was with a ride-sharing company and a 25-year-old woman among the group said she’d earlier contacted one of them to take her home.

“The man falsely identified himself as a driver for a ride share company … We have no information to suggest this was a legitimate ride-sharing company,” said Insp. Mike Bossley.
After the man had driven the passenger to her home following a 25-minute ride, he insisted on walking the woman to her door.

As he did so, he uttered lewd comments and touched the woman inappropriately a number of times.
After touching her, the man left and the woman called police.
“This was a (predatory) act by an individual who thought he could take advantage of the situation,” said Bossley, adding it’s hard to say if the incident was a premeditated act.
Police have no reason to believe the driver was privy to pick-up information held by a genuine ride-share firm, said Bossley.

Police say a ride-sharing company had been called by a woman to the 11th Avenue S.W. address but the fare wasn’t there when they arrived.
It’s the first time such an incident has occurred in Calgary, said Bossley, who wouldn’t give the name of the ride-sharing company the suspect claimed to be representing.
The suspect is described as a lighter skinned, clean cut man, in his early 30s with a medium build and about 5-ft., 10-in. tall with dark eyes.

He was wearing a black baseball cap and had a distinct accent, and drove a navy blue 2008-2010 Dodge Caravan with cloth seats.
There are ways for customers to stay safe when using ride-sharing services, which provide apps with images and names of drivers, licence plates and vehicles, said the inspector.
“You can actually track a vehicle coming to you,” said Bossley. “There are safety factors built into these apps, so people should use them.”
Legitimate vehicles also carry an identifying sticker, he added.
There are six licensed ride share providers in Calgary employing 1,300 drivers, according to the city.

Mar. 14, 2017 Business trends:

Sports trends: Does anyone remember Tae bo?  I learned it in gr. 9 gym class.

"Tae Bo is a total body fitness system that incorporates martial arts techniques such as kicks and punches, which became quite popular in the 1990s. It was developed by American Taekwondo practitioner Billy Blanks[1] and was one of the first "cardio-boxing" programs to enjoy commercial success.[citation needed] Such programs use the motions of martial arts at a rapid pace designed to promote fitness.[2]

It was a trend, and it ended.  There are gyms out there that probably had tae bo and they replaced it with other fitness classes.

Yoga: It could have been a trend that came out in the early 2000s.  However, it is still here.  There are studios that only teach yoga.

Indoor games: There is laser tag.  Paintball can be played indoors and outdoors.

I was thinking about those breakout games.  Is that going to last?

Job search complaints: I'm going to write about some negative things so I forewarn you about it.  I need to write about it to deal with it:

Gig economy: I have mentioned this before, about how I didn't like it because of the lack of job security and hours.  I was reading in the Globe and Mail about how it is also about how it is harder to save money and budget if you don't know when your next job is coming.

I know there are some jobs out there where there is really no job security like being an actor and the entertainment industry.

Lucky magazine: I was reading in the Globe and Mail about this magazine closed down.  I never really read it, but I am interested in teen magazines and the publishing industry.  There isn't a lot of job security in magazines and publishing because of the internet.

Passion does not equal success: I'm sure you guys know this.  Some people have passion and can succeed, and some don't.  I wrote a little about J, this guy at the bus stop before.

Mechanic: He was a mechanic for 8 yrs.  As a kid since he was 8 yrs old, he helped fixed his dad's old beat up cars.  J went to Canadian Tire and he got a car manual for $6 and learned how to fix cars.

He told me in Jan. and Feb., it's not busy at the mechanic shop.  He works full-time.  He only gets paid when there is a car that needs to be fixed.  If there is no car, he doesn't get paid for the 1 hr sitting there.  He has to be there all day.

He followed his talent and interest, and worked at it for years.  He made money.

Personal trainer: He became a personal trainer by attending NAIT.  He became one because he was interested in health and fitness. 

This was in 2005.  He worked as one for like $7/hr which was min. wage.  He also worked at warehouse and at American Eagle at Kingsway.  American Eagle didn't pay commission.  He was a personal trainer for a year.

He followed his interest in health and fitness by being a personal trainer, and he worked for a year.  He made money.

My opinion: Some of you may see it as a little sad that he followed his dream and goal, and it didn't work out very well.  Or some of you may see it as: "At least he followed his dream and goal, and made some money out of it."

Also, these careers are conventional.  It's not like he went into the entertainment or arts industry and tried to become a actor.  After like 10 yrs of auditioning, and he only made some money with a few commercials.  The entertainment industry doesn't have job security.

Business news: I read the Edmonton Journal and Globe and Mail business section of the newspaper 6 days a week.  It's like I have to know about the business and careers because it does have an effect on my life.

I have to know, but I really want to know.  I like to know how to improve my resume and be more productive.

Job interview results:

Job interview #2: It's been a week and I know I didn't get hired there.  I saw they put up a job ad after I did the interview.  That's fine.

Job interview #3: He said he would call me on this date if I was to get hired.  He didn't call.   That's fine.

Music: I'm sure some of you guys are like: "Can you write about something fun?"

Robin Thicke: I am looking him up, and he has some new music.  However, he isn't releasing any new cds out.

Drake: I like his song "Fake Love."  I decided to watch his new video.  It was like 9 min. long.  It was kind of interesting, because I didn't know how it was going to go.

First it has Drake washing his hands in the washroom and realizing his phone is on the table.  His girlfriend is looking through his texts. 

That's some drama, conflict, and tension right there.  That is the writer in me saying that.

Drake gets to the table and Tyra Banks is there.  She confronts him on his cheating at the restaurant.  It was some good acting on her part.

If this were to happen at my restaurant, I would feel like I should go to them and tell them to be quiet.  Or maybe, they will yell and one of them will leave.

Cut to the next scene, it's at a locker room in a strip club.

Then we have Drake and then his song is then playing.

My opinion: I like the restaurant scene, and the song.  However, I feel like there should be more of the song than the scenes without the music.

Bruno Mars: I like his song "That's What I Like."  The video is of him dancing in a white background.  There is animation behind him.

Mar. 15, 2017 "Good Samaritan jumps in and buys plane ticket for desperate young family": I found this on Yahoo:

A woman at a U.S. airport demonstrated the true meaning of compassion when she forked over more than $1,000 to help out a stranger in need.

According to a March 8th post on the Facebook page Love What Matters, a man tried to check in for his flight, only to realize his young daughter needed a ticket, too. The problem, it seems, was that he had booked the flight back in January when the girl was under the age of one and allowed to fly for free.

When the man informed the airline clerk that his daughter had just turned two-years-old, he was told he would have to purchase a ticket at an inflated price of US $749 (CA $1,009). Though he explained it was a misunderstanding, the airline would not budge.
“He was hit with emotion,” reads the post. “He mentioned he couldn’t afford to rebook this flight or get her the ticket with such short notice. He stepped aside and tried to make a few calls. Hugging his daughter and grabbing his head, you could tell he was heartbroken.”

A woman who had been standing nearby asked the man what was wrong. The pair chatted very briefly before they approached the counter together, where the woman announced she wanted to purchase the little girl’s ticket. The clerk reminded her of the inflated price, but the woman was undeterred and pulled out a credit card. According to the post, even though the man offered to pay her back, the woman insisted, “Don’t worry about it.”

Though it appears the Good Samaritan wished to remain anonymous, the internet demands that good deeds be properly recognized. As such, the woman has since been outed as Debbie Bolton, co-founder and Global Chief Sales Officer of Norwex, which is an international cleaning supplies brand. According to The Sun, Bolton was catching a flight home from Omaha, Nebraska, when the incident occurred.

One of Bolton’s co-workers, Susan Holt, told MailOnline that “Debbie as an amazing woman” who “wouldn’t have intended for this to be public.”
Be that as it may, Bolton’s act of kindness is now undeniably public. As of Tuesday afternoon, the Facebook post has been liked more than 198,000 times by people around the world.

RICHARD 9 hours ago
Debbie you are a woman with a great heart! You will not be forgotten &; will in time be aptly rewarded. In spite of the world today you have renewed my faith in humanity...perhaps there is still hope.


      jadzia200 9 hours ago
I think yahoo needs to proofread their articles before posting. The article reads that the father bought the ticket in January when his daughter was just under one and now she just turned 2? Does that mean he bought the ticket over a year ago? Also, I'm amazed at the woman for her generosity and we all hope that there are more people like her, however, it was the airlines fault as they ask at the time of booking how old your child is now, not how old it will be at the time of the flight. The airline biotch should have been more forgiving and let them pass.     

My opinion: Debbie is a very nice woman.  The man should have asked to talk to the manager to lower the price.

Mar. 17, 2017: I went to work on Wed. and then I was tired.  I then checked my email and I was invited to an interview.  I called and they said to call back tomorrow ask for this woman.  I then called and scheduled an interview. 

I then got an email today that something happened at the place and there weren't any interviews yesterday.  I thought: "Good, so I saved time by not having an interview scheduled for that day."

Mar. 20, 2017: I want to say, I'm going to stop putting job search complaints in my weekly email and put it in 1 big email. 


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