Weekend Ramblings

Warning – RANDOM.

Went to a pool party for a few friends that were hitting 40 this weekend.  I think it’s the 6th such party I’ve had this year, each one with a completely different vibe.  Mine was axe throwing & a pub.  This particular group’s history with pool parties dealt a lot with actually being in the pool.  That was not the case here, and it was extremely mellow.  There were tacos from a local truck.  Mellow people tend to have odd conversations.  Refreshing since it’s not at all small talk, but still out of left field.  The really neat bit was that there were people taking differing views on all the topics – far from an echo chamber.

Weather

I live in the national capital (Ottawa) and we get some wild weather swings in a year.  We’ve had:

  • Coldest = -33C (including wind) (-27F)
  • Warmest = 43C (including humidity) (109F)
  • Most snow = 25cm (101.8cm in Jan)
  • Most rain = 35mm (300mm over Apr/May/June)

It was a 76C swing between hot and cold, and there are few places on the planet that have those swings.  It was also the year with some recordbreaking snowfall, and a repeat 50-year flood from 2 years ago.  Oh, and a couple tornadoes to boot.  We shouldn’t be breaking records every other week.  This isn’t the Olympics.

US Electoral System

What pool party doesn’t talk about this???  I’ll withhold comment on the current administration, there’s more than enough people to pipe in on that.  What I will talk about is the insane electoral system.  No rational person can think that this is a reasonable system, right?

  • 1980 election – Reagan wins with 50.7% of the vote but 91% of the colleges.
  • 1984 – Mondale wins 40% of the popular vote and gets 2.4% of the colleges.
  • 1992 – Perrot wins 20% of the popular vote, 0% of the colleges
  • 1996 – This was a really close race, and the person with more votes lost. 537 votes in Florida (0.009%)
  • 2012 – This was also a close race, though not as close as ’96.  Nearly 3m total votes more (2%), yet lost the colleges by 77 (14%).

It’s utterly fascinating to see that machine at work, and the absolute insane amount of gerrymandering at play.  This was a problem in Canada a long time ago, but there’s an independent group that draws elections lines based on population totals – politicians have no say in it, except at municipal levels.

It’s one of those odd things were there’s a special list of countries that endorse gerrymandering.  I wouldn’t think any of those countries are on a top 10 destination list, if you catch.

Elon Musk is Lex Luthor

So deep thoughts on this one.  Elon is clearly at the genius level intellect.  You don’t manage to do what he’s done if that’s not the case.  Plus, you don’t build a working flamethrower and sell it.

He really does have all the comic book signs of a super villain.  Rough upbringing.  Makes wave as a teenager.  Successfully builds and runs multiple multi-million/billion dollar industries, in different genres (IT, auto, power, engineering, heavy machine, rocket propulsion, AI).  And it’s not like he’s Warren Buffet-owns-tons-of-stock leadership here.  He’s the face of all those companies.

His stated goals match the Foundation series, where all his actions are meant to improve/prolong humanity’s chance at survival, and reduce the change/duration of a dark age.  That he has the actual power to accomplish these goals…

So if you look at the current Lex Luthor, there’s a lot of maniacal drive move forward.  A lot of ends justify the means, where only he can do it and no one else.  There is an ultra fine line, and the absolute best comic book villains thread it (Victor Von Doom).

And More!

There were plenty more conversations that had nothing to do with each other, but none were really debated/discussed as much as the above.  There’s a part of me that’s both confused and impressed at the types of conversations that exist when you’re not throwing an axe at a piece of wood.  I really should go to more pool parties.

Weekend on the Shield

Canada is a massive country, with amazing sights all around.  Each part of the country has something different to showcase, with it’s own unique lens.  There are few places however that are as uniquely Canadian as the shield.  A giant ring of rock, with practically nothing but coniferous trees.  The Group of Seven had an odd focus on it.

I am not dismissing the maritime’s colorful & stark views, the mountains of the west, the central plains, or the tundra of the North – but if you took pictures of each, most could be found elsewhere (‘cept Newfoundland…).

While my own cottage is on the outer limits of the shield, my father’s side is smack dab in it.  There’s a serenity that comes with the solitude.  Water, rocks, and pine trees.  Most of Canada was built on the fur trades through these waters.

voyageur-channel-french-river

Beautiful French River.

I spent the weekend up there, breathing the air, swimming the river.  Indoor and outdoor games.  Nothing but sun.  Kids laughing, family smiling.  It’s a hell of  way to recharge the batteries.

This may seem like a crappy tourism spot, but it’s really just an appreciation post for what we have in our (relative) backyard.  Get outside and enjoy.

Can’t Complain

This is water week in my part of the woods.  Second time in 3 years that we get a 100 year flood… and most places haven’t recovered from the last one.  National Emergency (means the army is around) and the city declared a “climate emergency”, for what that’s worth.

The sort of good news out of this is that there are few if any poor people living in coastal areas here.  They all own their homes.  One person died due to a road washout, but otherwise no serious injuries.  The worst part is that people are going to lose all their stuff.  It’s a lot of stuff, and it’s worth money, but they are alive.  It will take time to rebuild, but at least that opportunity is present and there are systems in place to provide some assistance.  (I am grossly summarizing the complexities of this aid.)

So when my gutters, porch, driveway all gave way to rain… I knew I was in for a big bill.  It wasn’t related to flooding, just incessant rain and less than ideal drainage.  Then my furnace decided to stop working.  And for some reason this year, I owed a very large amount in taxes.  Within the span of 5 days, all of a sudden I have this massive bill.

I am appreciative that even though this is a large and unplanned expense, I still have the means to take care of it.  More so, appreciative that many people in my area have it much worse.

Won’t lie, it does make my brain itch and sleep this week has been rather difficult.  But I really can’t complain…I’m not in distress and sometimes life just gives you a set of bad rolls.  I know I’ve had my fair share of both 1s and 20s.  The cruise during March break was a 20.  This is a 1.

As long as the family is happy and healthy, it all works out in the end.

Where’s the Sun

I’m on a weird kick of late.  Case in point, I wanted to go bowling.

I come from a low income background, and bowling was a relatively cheap activity that could be done all year round.  I make no allusions – my perception of bowling relates to those days and the neighborhood I was in.  It feels regressive.  But it’s also a fun activity.

Interestingly, a good friend of mine also likes bowling.  Our families were able to get a lane for 10 pins, with 3 adults and 4 small kids (5,5,7,7).  We also went to a local pizza joint that’s pretty famous in our town.  (Side note, pizza does not agree with my stomach.  It does agree with my mouth.)

There’s something to be said of 4 squirts rolling a giant ball at slower-than-walking pace down a lane – and ending up with a spare.  The entire place was super dingy, but that really is part of the charm I guess.  Just like the pizza place, there’s something to be said about nostalgia and taking a small step back.  It hit the right notes, but I am also aware that trying the same activity again in a week or a month won’t have the same effect.  I guess I’ll wait a year or two before trying again.

Summer is Over

Seriously.  The whole North East seems to be getting a late snow kicking.  We missed the snowfall and instead received a quarter inch of freezing rain.  Fun enough to roll down the windows and punch out the ice… but oh so painful to be scraping it off the windshield.  If I recall, Toronto had >1200 accidents on the weekend alone.

Climate isn’t weather though.  We had an extremely mild February, and an ice cold March.  I am a bit curious as to how the late spring / early summer will work out given this overall lack of trends.

Then again, I’m glad I don’t live in Wisconsin.  That is some messed up weather.

Ancient Egypt

Perhaps that’s the draw for AC:O.  Egypt on a projection screen gives a certain illusion of warmth.  Sure looks more comfortable than here!

I think I figured the dip in progress.  The early game (say level 6 to 15) is a mess due to lack of options to level.  Once you find Aya, a large portion of  the game opens up and experience is found everywhere.  That and the patrolling uber-guards that can take you out in a few swings, with little effort.

The next post will talk about the game’s itemization and combat mechanics.  Still trying to get a good handle on it.

Getting Ready for Summer

In igloo-ville, summer lasts about 48 hours.  Might be less by the looks of this year.  Still expecting snow this weekend.  This winter feels a lot longer, and cabin fever is certainly setting in.

School won’t be ending until the end of June, so there’s still a lot of Spring activities underway.  Need to get new bikes for the kids.  Swimming lessons.  Pick up hockey for my eldest.  Yard work (backyard rink still has a pile of snow).  Birthday parties (everyone seems to be born in the Spring around here).  Swapping of winter clothes for less-winter clothes.

Heading into year 3 of owning a cottage, I have developed a massive itch for getting out of the house.  We had a system last year for prep/readiness and it worked fairly well.  We also found out what does work and does not work, as well as what we need to replace.  Like a home, a cottage is a pile of work and money.  It does feel worth it, when you have a fire going at sunset, on the waterfront, beverage in hand.

We need some patio swings & chairs for the fire pit.  A different setup to store the canoe.  I’ve been looking for a fishing kayak for a while.  There’s a garden we’ll be prepping.  Then a weeping tile trench to dig.  The dock needs some sturdier footings.  A new outdoor sink (and associated plumbing lines).  Some fishing equipment replacement.  A new cord of wood.  And none of that has anything to do with actually opening the cottage in the first place.

It’s nothing but lists!

And the kids are happy to just play in the puddles.  I just happen to like really big puddles I guess.

Random Thought – Multi-lingualism

A thing I’ve realized lately is that I am constantly in a state of translation and interpretation.  My job deals mostly with integrating business and tech solutions so I need to speak both languages.  Then I need to brief VPs on the matter, yet another language altogether.  So while I am fluent in English and French, I think I actually know a dozen languages.  For example.

But Captain, the warp coils in the dilithium chamber need to be realigned with the phase inducers manually with a tricorder inside a Jeffrey’s tube.”  That makes no sense outside of the context of Star Trek (and probably even less in that context).

Ahhh, Jeez. He banged the blower.”  You need to be a gearhead to decode it.

But the API doesn’t allow routing to the kernel, we need another low level hook.”  Real technobabble.

Alignment of key strategies to the governance framework is required for sustainability”.  Executive speak.  I am, oddly and sadly, very proficient at this.

Ok, so the DPS need to throw a pile DOTs and debuffs, while the tank keeps aggro and the healer just HOT.”  It’s like herding cats that one.

Oh, did you see that dipsy-dangle toe-drag, what a beaut!” Got to love hockey.

 

I think this is one of those life skills that people develop over time and through experience.  I look back just 10 years and I’ve certainly more than doubled my vocabulary and context set.  As an introvert, I always had issues finding the right words for the right time for the right people.  Tons, and I means thousands of hours here, of listening to people talk, reading notes and watching videos (TED talks are awesome) have seriously expanded my abilities.  Today, I actually feel comfortable talking to nearly anyone about any given topic.  Young, old, a specialist or a generalist.

The downside to this however is that I use visual cues to help guide a talk.  Face to face, no problem.  I can read a person or a crowd and adjust as necessary.  Over the phone is tough.  I really need to pay attention and I can get flustered.  Written messages are the worst and I’ve resigned myself to a simple rule.  Don’t include the words “My, myself or I” in anything I write for work.  Personal stuff, no problem – but at work, I use “Us, We and It” instead.  It forces me to remove all emotion from the message and makes the issue a group issue rather than just me saying something.  Try writing something like that, it’s far from intuitive.

I know this is more of a random thought than anything else but as I grow older (and hopefully wiser) and look back some, I’m honestly impressed by the progress and motivated to achieve more.  Not obsessed mind you, just fascinated that when I was younger I thought I knew a lot.  When in reality, I have a better appreciate today for what I don’t know.  It’s actually quite liberating.