Sleep is Underrated

Lots of work, crazy deadlines, busy family, and then a chest cold.  Makes for a great weekend of flop sweats and 12+ hours of sleep a day, still feeling exhausted to start the week.  Good news is that there’s light at the end of the tunnel.  It feels entirely achievable.  Plus, the VP here sees the work being done and the need for additional resources/structure.  That bodes well long-term.

My eldest had 2 hockey games this weekend.  On her team, 11 other girls are first-time players, so the understanding of the game just isn’t there yet.  They lost Saturday 10-0 on  team that had that understanding, and won 3-1 on Sunday when you could see it start clicking.  I spent some time watching a men’s league game on the other ice pad, folks mostly in their 40s-50s.  They were smart hockey players.

I played about 12 years when I was a kid, but I’ve been back on the ice for another 12 since.  All of that pretty much competitive play.  The skill is less important than the thinking now.  We have a few skaters on one team where even though they are young, they just don’t have that mind-set.  Great skill and effort, but that 6th sense just isn’t there.  Work smarter – not harder.

Full circle a bit then.  Work is in the same bucket.  I’ve had enough crazy deadlines and projects to have a decent sense of what is actually important and what is noise.  I know some members of my team are concerned at my lack of attention on some things, and deadly focus on others.  It’s a practical thing.  Tough calls are needed, and there’s only so much good will to go around.  It’s difficult, but sometimes you need to let those spinning plates fall to the ground.


I read Isey’s comment on my last post and want to extract the gibberish.

When I found that I had Liths via the codex (bur no clue what to do with them) eventually I noticed the prompt on the NAV screen, found the mission, jumped in with others, and got my 10 reactants to unlock.

This reminds me of 90% of Wilhelm’s EVE posts.  I couldn’t make heads or tails of it.  Then I played a bit more and unlocked Venus (the 2nd planet in the unlock chain).

Ok, that sentence makes more sense now.  Liths are lockboxes that can only be completed by doing a certain mission (Void Fissures). In those missions, enemies sometimes drop “reactant”, and after 10 pickups and a successful mission, you get to open the Lith.  These missions are not terribly common (at least at the start) and the one I did was quite difficult.  Next topic.

I don’t understand what the levels mean on missions.  I have a level 11 Warframe (the class, Excalibur, good with swords).  I have a level 12 Braton (automatic rifle).  There are some mods on each to augment certain things.  The Warframe has + health and + shields.  the rifle has a flat + 40% damage.  Taking on a level 5-8 mission is a challenge.  Not so much that I am very worried about kicking the bucket, but more so that enemies are bullet sponges and I need to pay a lot of attention to ammo levels.  No ammo – little damage.

There are missions on my map.  I complete them to unlock more nodes on the map for more missions.  I am not seeing any power curve (or rather it appears logarithmic) and future goals are not all that clear.  Some missions are 5 minutes, others are 20.  Wave defense is fun.  Spy missions are not.  Overall, the feedback loop is good so far.  But I’m thinking I need some viable measure of progress in the next 4-5 hours to keep me going.  Using the same class, same skills, same gun for 10 hours…there’s a limit.

Gaming is Learning

My eldest (and youngest to some extent) is bitten with Pokemon.  For kids that age (7), cards are relatively cheap, and there are plenty of books with neat pictures and stories.  There’s the obvious Pokemon Go, but there’s also the TCG mobile game.  And of course, what seems like 20 years of animated shows with Ash & co.  What is fairly interesting is that due to Nintendo’s all-gamers approach, the entry level for these games belies a more complex system.

TCG games as whole are predicated on the concept of deck building.  Either you play a preset deck, or you actually build one by hand.  For now, the kids are happy with just a random deck that I throw together.  I mean, no sense in having Fire Pokemon in a Psychic deck… Once drawn, the card plays are fairly straightforward.  Add energy, run an attack, draw a card.  It is hard to make a mistake, even with semi-random choices.

But then you start paying a bit more attention to the cards.  Some have resistances, or skills that work better on other types.  You start adding and removing some from the deck, piece by piece.  Eventually you realize that some cards are just not fun for you, or that they interrupt your play.  You realize that more cards means more chances, but it also means giving up other items.  Now you’re talking probabilities.

I’ve experienced this myself, when I had my first set way back when.  I thought Magic was way too complicated/expensive for my tastes (still think so) but wanted some sort of TCG experience.  It was fun learning the inner workings of the game.

Now I get to see that again in a kid’s eyes.  It’s small at first, tiny little lights going on.  Then it starts snowballing.  They become comfortable with the concepts.  Then they start sharing them with others.  Then they start looking for similar tactics in other games.  It’s really quite amazing to watch curiosity at play.

Movie Musings

Went and saw Guardians of the Galaxy 2 last night.  It’s a solid enough retread of the first movie.

I remember watching GotG back in 2015, where superhero movies were a lot more serious.  It really stood out, with both visuals and sounds from the 80s – like a giant throwback.  Since then we’ve had Ant-Man, Dr Strange (more trippy than funny), Strange Things, and a pile of TV series.  They figure out that laughing is good entertainment.

GotG2 takes that to the next level, where there are no serious people.  Drax fights for about 3 minutes at the start of the movie, then another 3 minutes in the first act, then never again.  He’s relegated to throwing out punchlines (which admittedly are pretty good).  Where GotG went more or less full speed (minus the Collector-related scenes), GotG2 spends a lot more time examining why these people are who they are.  It does work, just not as well as expected given the rest of the tone of the movie.  Still a very enjoyable movie.

Related, this movie is why I am so hesitant on Zack Snyder’s Wonder Woman film.  He seems completely unable to project relateable heroes.  That works in the Watchmen, since it’s part of the underlying theme, but since then… ugh.  Still, the trailers look good and my wife is super-mega-hyped.

The Dark Tower


I’ve read the books and have been looking forward to this for a long time.  Given the cyclical nature of the story, this is a sequel to the books.  It’s a weird series to explain to people.  Anyhow, I think the setting works, Idris and Matthew are well-cast.  My concern is around the idea that the Gunslinger is somehow

  • not telling everyone he’s a gunslinger
  • not willing to sacrifice anything and anyone to get to the Tower

If you’ve read the books, those are the two things that make him stand out – aside from you know, being good with guns.  He has no fear, and will do anything to reach his goal.  Perhaps it’s just related to the cut.  Fingers crossed.

Blade Runner 2049

Blade Runner is one of my favorite movies.  I still watch it every other month.  You can clearly see the impact it had on cinema moving forward, as pretty much every sci-fi movie pays homage to the ideas, visuals, or sounds.

This one is set 30 years after the first one.  Deckard is still alive, so that would mean he’s not a replicant (they have short lifespans).  There’s a very large focus on how technology has impacted society, which is very appropriate I think.  Surreal that after nearly 40 years (BR was in ’82) that it retains so much of the original’s essence.  Having Denis Villeneuve behind the camera is nothing but good news to me as well.


Personal tint here.

On Tuesday morning, a good friend of mine lost his 18 year old son.  Just didn’t wake up.  Highly active, no pre-conditions, just gone.  There’s something about a child going before a parent that really hit me like a ton of bricks.  It’s always sad to hear, and to have it happen with a friend’s circle…

I had learned at about 8am and went through a busy day at work, though always at the back of my mind.  I got home and gave a big hug to my wife and kids, fully appreciative of the gift they provide by simply being there.  Supper came and went, and my brain decided it was time to start addressing the issue.  Hockey came to take that spot, mind, and by the time I got home it was time for bed.

It was one of those nights where you can clearly recall your dreams in the morning, or for days ahead.  It was not a good rest, nor should it have been.

Morning came and another set of hugs to get the day going.  Still not really able to focus much.

The blog post is part of my process to deal with the issue.  I’ll need to talk it through a bit with family and friends.  And be sure to support my friend in whatever way I can.

It sucks, even from the outside.  Give your loved ones a hug.  Everyone can use one.

Complexity and Fear

I am not a rocket scientist, or a brain surgeon.  I work in systems architecture, which is  fancy way of saying that I work in puzzles without pictures, and pieces of different sizes.  My job entails taking an idea, breaking it down into smaller chunks, finding or making things to accommodate those chunks, then bringing it all together.  I make things that are hard from the inside, look easy from the outside.

People, in general, are irrational.  They make knee jerk decisions, and the majority of the time it is based on fear.  Fear is a good emotion, it’s what’s kept us from being eaten by spiders and snakes and alligators.  But we don’t (generally speaking) have that problem anymore.  What we have now are taxes, people who are different than us, massively complex bureaucracies, and dozens of new inventions that connect us to each other without us understanding how.

It is a rather simple matter to explain to someone why a snake would bite you.  It’s also acting in fear and self-defense.  Trying to explain to someone where taxes go and what they do… that’s a challenge.  I had a gentleman ask me why his phone automatically recognized a caller that wasn’t in his contact list.  I had to explain to him that he had shared his LinkedIn and Facebook account, the other had done the same, and the system just linked them.  He immediately went back and set it all to private, then started diving into other applications he had used.  I’ve talked to my wife numerous times about online presence and the mindset of her students that simply cannot disconnect.  Without her experiencing that firsthand, and the insomnia and externalized self-worth that accompanies it, there’s no real empathy.

I read a lot of news, from various sources.  There are some articles that are good, most however are quite poor.  To reduce an argument to a single line, or a single idea… that’s unfair.  Even in this connected age, there is not enough material to fill in 24 hours of fear-mongering news.  Most of it has to be made up, spun up, and screamed about.  Apparently everyone is out to kill me, everyone who doesn’t agree with me should be locked in jail, I should be immune to all arguments, and I should never change my mind.

I do get the flipside.  Issues are complicated.  Like a giant house of cards, you can’t just take one piece on it’s own and remove it.  It’s being supported by, and supporting other pieces.  Ignorance is bliss and people don’t ever want to have a hand in the game.  That’s the worst part about fear.  The thing is, without that knowledge, it’s a slow death.  Everyone has a hand in the game, whether they realize it or not.  By sticking your head in the sand and pretending nothing is going on… there’s only one part of your body left to take advantage of.

I want my kids to grow up understanding that fear is a good thing, it’s a daily challenge. By facing that fear, by diving into it and understanding why it exists, we can make greater changes.  It will be hard going.  There will be failures.  Other people will try to pull them down.  But it won’t matter.  They will ask questions.  They will have sympathy to the plight of others.  They will have empathy to better understand why people act the way they do.  And they will grow smarter and stronger for it.

For that to happen, I have to be better.  We have to be better.




Cold Season

I have a head cold.  It’s one of those annoying ones where my nose runs like a tap and I’m feeling like I’ve had 2 hours of sleep, but it’s not enough to keep me in bed.  I’d prefer the flu, where you sleep it off and 24 hours later you’re back at it.  This feels like it’s going to stick around a while… I guess I need some more gin.


I picked up the 45lbs weight plates the other day.  I will say that those two plates are more intimidating than an assortment of smaller ones to make up the same weight.  There’s something comical about a string of plates, compared to the solemness of just massive honkers of steel.  I remember thinking on the first set “am I really doing this?”, which got better later on.

As I mentioned to Isey, playing hockey and working out is not going to plan.  I am not a stay at home player, and I like to rush and move.  After having lifted nearly 3 tons of weight, the body needs some rest and hockey is not that.  I personally like progress and I’m at the point where I can no longer make progress in one without sacrificing in the other.  I need to make some choices.  I have about 3 more months of hockey mind you, so perhaps I can just delay for a bit.

I’ve also gone back to counting calories again.  Not for the minute aspect but for the trends and meal planning.  It also provides some evidence for the way the scale works and the way the training plays out.  I’ve tried a few apps for this but right now, MyFitnessPal taking the prize.  The app is straightforward and links to other things.  All good stuff.

All that to say that I should be hitting my fitness goals by the May timeframe.  Just in time for summer cottage/beer season.


Simply put, I seem to be burned out on games in general right now.  I lack the free time to do much on the organized front, and I’ve played all the single player games I want to right now.  The emulator is fun.  Spending some time flirting with a few games here and there.  StarTropics is done, but Kirby is up.  Illusion of Gaia as well.  I’d play the FF series but I’ve gone through them all numerous times.

Let’s go over the big names this past year.

  • Overwatch – Not a PvP fan.
  • XCOM2 – waiting for the LongMod, otherwise superb game
  • Dark Soul 3 – played a few hours, ehh
  • Doom – heard great things.  Waiting for a sale
  • Civ 6 – still trying to wrap my head around it.  Load times and short play sessions don’t help
  • The Witness – played, stomped my brain, loved it
  • Dishonored 2 – still full of PC bugs, waiting on this one…
  • Firewatch – on my wish list
  • Stardew Valley – not a fan of simulators…maybe later
  • Deus Ex 2 – Better than the first one.  The missions are way better than the hubs.
  • Witcher 3 – A great game hobbled by the worst combat controls I’ve played in a long time.
  • The Division – I should go back now that the big patch is in…but end game is nearly all PvP.
  • Grim Dawn – super ARPG, put in a lot of hours here.
  • WoW Legion – I don’t have time to raid and my time expired with 4 max characters.  LFG not including all dungeons still ticks me off.  Never saw an artifact.
  • Tyranny – played it, cleared it, may go back later.

Not much that I haven’t had a hand in, that I at least have an interest in. I’ll be honest, I’m not missing it terribly.


Irony Had a Baby

Ok, less gaming related today.

Two interesting stories to mention.  First, that Republicans are feeling targeted on college campuses (NYTimes) and second, that the CIA is complaining that a foreign government had a direct hand in a democratic election (all over but this one from WSJ).

Reading both, it feels like the Onion no longer has any relevant material to write about and that I need to pay double attention to see if an article is real or a joke.


My friends and family can certainly attest that I am far from a bleeding heart when it comes to society.  I am a firm believer that people have way more control over their lives than they think they do, and that the wide majority of actions and reactions are based on their direct input.  I would say that I swing left as compared to my elder generation, center when it comes to mine, and right when it comes to the younger one.

That’s not to say that the system isn’t rigged against them.  You need the chips to play poker, and the collateral to call a bluff.  Very few people on this planet have that.  I am more than aware that I live in the upper echelons of my country and as compared to the world wealth, I’m in the 0.10%.  Minimum wage in Canada would put that person at 3% globally, which is just about our country’s poverty line.

Money is not a cycle, it doesn’t trickle down.  Its distribution curve goes only one way.  It’s entirely reasonable that someone who tries hard, puts in the hours and effort and loses their job because of factors outside their control would be resentful when they lose their job and their boss gets a raise.  (Reminds me a bit of the Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, where all middle managers are sent away on a space ship to colonize Earth).

I get that when someone gets a bum deal, they start thinking about Maslow’s pyramid.  If you have no personal safety, or for those you care for, then it is not possible to be empathetic to others.  People feel isolated and alone.  They make rash decisions that are shortsighted and emotional.  I can assure you that I’ve been in that boat, longer than I care to admit.  Managing change takes energy, and energy is scarce when you’re just scraping by.

Society then breaks into smaller groups, where sameness is key and threats are diminished.  Individuality is washed away, replaced with group-think.  Uniqueness, the underlying quality of each of us, is squashed. 2 people become 3, become 5, become 100.  Mob mentality, where a sense of accountability is lost, but belonging is strengthened.  You end up with Occupy Wall Street, just a rash cry for attention without any goals.

People are not rational by default.  We are emotional creatures that need stability, caring and purpose.  It is remarkable how easy it is to lose all 3, for the fall is quick  is from up high, and we forget the people that surround us when it happens.


It’s just unfortunate that empathy is so difficult to achieve unless someone experiences the same events as another.  Walking a mile in someone else’s shoes has never been more apt.