Site Updates

Figured it was time for some house cleaning. I’ve updated the blogroll to clean out the deprecated blogs (except Isey, I hold out hope!!!) and some other bits and bobs that were no longer working. I should change my blog image header at some point, but it’s also bee the same for something like 12 years now. Like an old sweatshirt… it just feels comfortable.

I followed the Blaugust and read a pile of blogs there too. That’s the next logical step to update those. I’ve got a bunch in Feedly now, just need to take the time to curate it a bit more. The discord channel is super useful as a way to keep up to date as well.

RL has been ultra busy lately. I’m a head coach for one of my girls, helper for another, and it feels like I’m also a sort of guidance counsellor for new coaches/managers in the association. September has always (except last year) been a rock and roll month, and I am looking forward a bit to have a bit more wiggle room with my time. A week or so and things should be good.

Take care!

Break Time

A much deserved one if I do say so. Cottage time for a bit…and all the big reno work is done.

My little piece of paradise

Hope you all get some time away from it all as well. Been a hell of a ride. Cheers.

Age. It’s a Fact.

Age is an interesting thing. It’s inevitable, but manifests differently for us all.

My grand father was an active man until he passed this fall. Active in the sense of 2 hour daily walks, planting gardens, trimming trees… things that people half his age didn’t do. My father was an all-star athlete is his youth, but that didn’t stick around as he got older, and larger. It’s a weird topic to have with your dad. When my youngest was born, I do recall casually saying it would be nice for them to be able to grow up with him as I did with my grandfather. Since then, he’s pulled a near 180 in terms of overall health and activity.

My father-in-law was also an athlete and his career path was as a tinsmith, and to some degree, a handy man. He hunts, and loves to be outdoors. His self-worth is based on what he can do with his hands. Well, years of that has had a cost, and his back just can’t take it anymore. He’s had surgery. He still thinks he’s 40 years old, acts accordingly, and then his body more or less shuts down for a while. He doesn’t live alone, so that has an impact on the people around him. He’s just not able to accept that he can do less and still have a full life.

My birthday is coming up, and I’m certainly in what folks call middle age. I don’t feel old. There are some things I can’t do today that I was able to do when I was 20. Most of those things just don’t interest me anymore, so it sort of works out I guess. The things that I do enjoy, I can still do well. I don’t feel like I’ve lost a step in any particular field, if anything I feel that things are easier because of experience. Don’t get me wrong, I am finding it painful not being able to play hockey due to the pandemic… as much for the physical aspect as the social. I’m quite antsy for that to come back!

As I’m watching my elders get older, and my kids grow up, I’m coming to terms with the concept of age. As much as I’m my dad’s son, I’m my kids’ father. The expectations are different for each role, yet I’m fortunate enough that my dad has been really good with that evolution. Sure, there’s some deference to him in a few areas, but it’s still adult level conversations and respect. I’m not indebted to him raising me, which I always find a fascinating space for some of my friends.

I’m coming to terms that at some point, I will be less than I was in areas where I take pride. I’m less worried about it on the physical side… or perhaps because it’s physical and we can see it everywhere, it isn’t so much a surprise. Yes, quality of life, but that’s a different topic than just not being able to lift a couch. The stuff that really gets me is the hidden part. My wife’s side has a fair amount of dementia. Seeing a fully able person lose their mind is a terrifying prospect! I’m overly fortunate that this is not something on my side of the family, so less of a concern I guess. And yet… my mind is what makes me, me. So I can’t mow the lawn, big deal. If I can’t read, or remember what happened yesterday, there isn’t someone else that can do that for me. It’s the most isolating of all things.

This is a really off topic post, but my thoughts of late are really focusing on my centre self, my purpose, goals, and fears. Changing jobs often triggers this reaction in me, because it’s such a LARGE impact. This blog gives me the ability to put words to ideas, to digest concepts, and to move forward. It’s an interesting concept…publicly writing personal thoughts. A sort of side appreciation to it all I suppose. A cathartic act. A much needed one at that.

Holiday Break

I have many, many faults. Oh boy. Lots. One of the larger ones is when someone tells me I can’t do something. It’s like a dare and I have to prove them wrong. Enough introspection on this is really a self-confidence aspect where I need to prove to myself that there’s nothing I can’t do. There’s a 1 sentence summary of 20 years of self-reflection for ya!

So what does this mean in a practical sense? It means I just don’t give up, and will try and try until I wreck myself. I live on the edge of eternal burnout, always pushing myself to do more. It has serious impacts on every part of my life, and without counsel, it can be destructive in my relationships. I might invest myself into a project so fully that my mind just cannot disconnect from the topic, even if I’m with my family. I seem distant and detached. I can be irritable if there’s a big problem I’m on the edge of solving and something “simple” gets in the way. I can be downright hostile if someone gets in my way of implementing a change.

I’ve taken to multiple tools to help regulate this. Games are a massive one, where my problem solving/optimization mindset can target something else. Physical activity / workouts allow me to burn energy in a focused spot, though I do tend to push myself to limits here. Reading and talking about my mindset are also great outlets. Talking to myself in the mirror is how I start and end my days (it doesn’t answer me yet, so I’m good).

When I don’t do this, when I push myself too much, my body enters survival mode. I lose my appetite, I have trouble sleeping, and I’m effectively running on fumes. I can live in this mode for a very long time, but my body will continually degrade. I’ll catch horrible chest colds. I’ll get the stomach flu. And I’ll just plow through it towards my goal.

But everything has a cost, and the moment I let down my guard, the body just shuts down completely. Vacations and holiday breaks have been really bad for this, where the first 2-3 days I’m practically in a coma. What kind of deal is that for the people close to me?

The last time this happened was about 5 years ago. Since then, I’ve taken larger steps to self-regulate, to manage my stress levels. I take more time off to recharge, I divest and share the responsibility. It allows me to not work and trust that even though stuff wont move at my speed or even stall, at least it won’t regress. With the holiday break coming up, this year is a bit different. COVID has hit me something fierce, though a lot of comfort knowing my job is secure. I’m really looking forward to the break, and stepping away from work for a good bit. Sure, there are big files underway, things that have kept me awake late at night, but I’m confident I can disconnect for a period and enjoy what I have.

As the holidays approach for many of us, I do hope you can all enjoy and appreciate that time we do have. I’m conscious that this year is different for a bunch of reasons, and all the more reason to stop, think, and thank for what I do have. Wouldn’t be here without the people around me. Take care!

Building and Maintaining Lore

World-building is dependent on setting up consistent lore, and then respecting that lore with the stories in that world.  In single stories, that’s certainly of value, but over larger series it’s essential to keep people invested.

Why?  Value.  If the stuff you put out at the start is discarded, then it means it has little value and consumers can easily skip it.  It also instills a level of doubt that the current story will have no links to the world and reduce it’s impact.

Game of Thrones has some serious world building going on in the books.  Even the TV show did a very respectable job of maintaining that world.  The issues with the TV show don’t relate to lore with respect to the world, but in respect to the actions taken by the characters.  Like how you don’t set up a main villain for 6 years and then dispatch him in 1 episode.

Harry Potter had a consistent world up until book 7.  Then the play came out and decided time travel was a good way to impact the main storyline and alternate universes.  The JK decided that twitter was a great way to pad extra content to the original books and throw in some major curveballs.  Now, if you ignored everything that came after book 7, odds are you’re a happy camper.

In the comic book world, there are plenty of retcons.  In some sense this creates larger arcs across multiple volumes.  Superman has undergone multiple versions, depending on the needs of the writers and society as a whole.  Batman has had tons of versions.  The slight difference here is that when a retcon comes along, there’s usually some advanced notice and the break is clean.  Rarely do they every try to blend both stories and worlds together.

Playing through SWTOR brings more of this to mind.  While nearly all of it is considered “Legacy” now, it still bears mind that it’s consistent.  The stuff done in Chapter 1 is not negated by anything in Onslaught.  That there are so many intertwining storylines and that they rarely conflict is quite impressive.  Typically the storylines would branch/fork and then come back to a mainline resolution.  Onslaught is a bit different in that space, as the branches/forks are still present at this point.

This is in conflict with the recent Star Wars trilogy.  The Force Awakens was somewhat consistent, with a few interesting bits.  Finn’s battle with a lightsaber against a shock weapon was a bit odd.  The Last Jedi took a baby & bathwater approach, which kept the setting but ignored most of the lore from prior.  Apparently the Force can help you live in space, it can transmit you across the galaxy, lightspeed can be tracked and can be used as a weapon.  There are a few dozen more examples.  The problem with this isn’t so much that they break the existing lore, but that they negate all tension in the film.  The implications of each of those changes the entire galaxy.  Think of it this way – every Xwing is now a nuclear bomb, capable of taking out a capital ship.

I know there are a lot of people who are more interested in the individual story, and that’s ok.  I’m much more interested in the thought process of the world, and seeing how other stories could add to the base presented.  Wheel of Time had some amazing world building.  Sword of Truth was pretty solid.  Lord of the Rings was only written because a world was built beforehand.  When it works, it means the sum is greater than the parts.  When it doesn’t, you get something like the Terminator franchise, where you burn the audience so badly that even when you do get quality (Dark Fate) no one cares.

I’d like to say I’m hopeful that is not the case with Star Wars, but given Kathleen Kennedy’s comments that there is no source material to draw from… that raises some eyebrows.

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.