Gift for the Family

Personal on this one.  My wife and I are celebrating our 10 yr anniversary in March.  We’ve been talking about a bunch of different things to do, which are all complicated by the fact that a) it’s during March break and b) we can’t realistically leave our kids behind for a week without some serious planning / support.

We’ve been fortunate enough to take the kids on quite a few trips over the years, including two down south.  We also took a couple trips on a cruise (just the two of us) and I personally enjoyed that experience more than an all-inclusive.  Thinking was to see if we could find a cruise that was more family-friendly – and that generally means Royal Carribean.

Also motivating – we’re both on the edge of burnout through work.  The winter holidays were good to refresh, but we are clearly in need of the “no need to make big decisions” for a while.

We ended up booking a trip on Harmony of the Seas.  That’s around 5,500 passengers at double occupancy.  And has full time kid activities if the wife and I want to do something else for a bit.  Oh, and an ice rink.  Ridiculous.

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I was in the ship to the far right, and I thought that was immense.  HotS is the 2nd most right.

I am utterly fascinated by the logistics of running a floating city, with people talking different languages, and a very high standard of cleanliness and service.  Just the linen service takes an army.  If you ever have the chance to watch a documentary on how these things run, you should really take the time.

There is one port in particular – Labadee, Haiti – that is entirely self-served by the ship. Over the course of 2 hours, enough food/drinks are pulled off the ship to shore in order to support an 8 hour day at the beach.  Amazing coordination.

I won’t hide the fact that this is entirely a luxury, and one that we are lucky enough to afford.  Every time we bring our kids out on something, we make it a point to have them recognize this fact.  Entitlement is a concern for both my wife and I.  My kids experienced more by the age of 4 than I did until I was in my 20s.

It’s good to have things to look forward to.  Makes driving through feet of snow and ice a bit more bearable.  I’ll see what kind of photo collage I can put together when I get back.

Raising Girls

/rant

The whole Gilette ridiculousness is just more hot air on a topic of division.  I get it, people are tired of being told what to do.  The irony here is that there’d be no need to remind them if they’d just treat people as people.

Being a man today is harder than it was 20 years ago.  No question.  But it was STUPID EASY being a man 20 years ago.  Everything in the world was built for a you.  Nearly all sports, school, jobs, cars, vacations, commercials, movies were built with a man in mind.  It was like shooting fish in a barrel.  A super example is China’s 1-child law, where boys were prized above girls, and where the projection is 30 million more men than women by 2020.  I could write a book about the social impacts of such a disparity.

I have 2 girls, and I live in Canada.  Honestly, they won the damn jackpot.  They don’t need to get married at 8.  They don’t need to work in a rice field instead of going to school.  They can’t be discriminated against in terms of career choice – they are measured as equals in terms of skill/knowledge.  We have access to high caliber women’s sports.  They are, by law, treated as equal.

But you know what?  They still have a 1/3 chance of being sexually assaulted.  They will be judged more by what they wear, than what they say or do.  They will be told that STEM is for boys.  They will have to always have to travel in a group, else risk being attacked.

The problem with laws is that we need them.  There are assholes all over the place, and most of them don’t even think they are assholes.  If you’re being told to not grope women, and you somehow find that offensive, then then problem is you.

Here’s a quick test that can help prove the point.  Name 10 male role models, and time how long that takes. Doesn’t matter what they do, as long as you think they are role models. Good?  Now do it again, but for female role models.  Did you even get to 10?

But I get it.  Men have been in power for centuries.  We’ve been raised that we are better.  We are stronger, wiser, and a dozen other -ers.  Bullshit.  Men are cowards.  Cowards hide, and lie, and complain.  Strength comes from sharing and growing with others.

When people learn that women can be as vindictive, as evil, as troll-like, as corrupt as men, maybe then they will get the equal footing that is still lacking today.  Women can be more destructive than men, no question.  When we start using the same rules for both, then we can have progress.  It has nothing to do with women being better than men.  It has everything to do with them being equal, judged by the same rules.  Not special treatment – equal treatment.

Feminism isn’t coming after football (CTE is).  It isn’t coming after beer (liver disease and drunk driving are).  It isn’t coming after your job (merit-based appointments, and automation are).

This /rant brought to you by stupid people, who think that their mothers, wives, daughters, and friends deserve less respect than their male counterparts.

Holiday Break

2 weeks without work, and just some good family time.  It was a bit odd not to blog, as I use it as a mental sieve.  It was still one of the best breaks I’ve had in a very long time.

A few interesting bits to start the week, with some larger posts coming later.

  • Wife got us an NES Classic.  I picked up some wireless controllers right after, since the 3ft cables on a 50″ TV makes no sense.  Whole family has had a turn at it.  Old school controls make for some interesting frustrations.
  • Family took a trip to see the Habs play vs the Canucks.  First time the little ones got to see an NHL game, and I think the bar may be set a bit too high considering we live in Ottawa.  We’ll do it again in the future, it was a super experience.  There’s something about seeing things through a kid’s eyes that makes you appreciate things even more.  Think my wife is going to convert to a Habs fan!
  • My wife bought me some tickets to see the Habs vs Leafs in Feb with a friend.  That’s a hell of a nice gift!
  • Everyone was spoiled for the holidays.  I really have a better appreciation for the family after this holiday break.  Everyday seemed to be just great.  Putting all the work aside and just living in the moment helped.
  • I think we had 1 day off in 2 weeks, where there wasn’t a party, or hosting, or sleepovers, or just things.  That day was spent watching Harry Potter movies.  It felt good to not move.
  • Outdoor rink is being used nearly every day where it’s not raining.  Which seems to be every other day this year.  Massive temperature swings are not fun.
  • Picked up some things from the Steam sale: Celeste, Slay the Spire, FFX/X2, Frostpunk.  All will get a post.  Of them all, Celeste is the must buy.
  • Saw Aquaman with the wife.  Apparently Jason Momoa is good looking.  So I’ve been told daily.  Movie is better than expected.  It’s rare that I take issue with the soundtrack, but it made little sense here.  Felt like Indiana Jones meets Lord of the Rings.  I will say that super hero movies continue to have horrible villains.
  • Pulled my back on Jan 1st.  Got a chest cold 2 days later.  It’s been a rough few days.

 

So New Year starts and we’ll see where it goes.  Hope everyone had as good a time as I did.

Opposing Views

Technology is a tool, how we use it depends on who we are as a people.

I like blogging, I like reading other bloggers.  I tend to follow bloggers that have interesting stories, and points of view.  The ramblers are as fine as the short and sweet.  I find that I generally agree with most view opinions, though rarely in their entirety.  I do follow some folks just to see the other side of the fence, because it’s good to have differing opinions.

I think I fall in line with the majority of urban Canadians in my age group, when it comes to general views.  I know that my parent’s generation tends to be more fiscally conservative and less socially liberal.  We tend to be fiscally conservative, and socially liberal.  I do not agree with most “winged” party views, as a lack of balance on any one of those items causes a massive shift over time.  The world is just too complicated to boil it down to broad statements of X will do Y.  And while I live in a city in Canada, I also share the planet with 7 billion other individuals.  That sense of scope makes it a really hard to get past our own personal Monkeysphere.

I used to have a large list of “friends” on Facebook, back when it was used to provide personal updates.  That was replaced by Twitter.  Which is replaced by a dozen other tools.  I stopped using Facebook a few years ago when it became pretty clear that the feed was focused on link dropping.  Most of those links were sensationalist opinion articles, that progressively got more and more out there.  It became an echo chamber.  And frankly, Facebook is one of the worst ways to have a debate/conversations on a topic.  I kept Facebook for the contact information and group invitations, but ended up deleting it nearly 2 years ago when I realized there were better options out there.  I still keep Twitter, but I’m not quite sure why.  The early intent was sound, but short sound bites make for a dumb population when trying to be used as a news machine.

Finding differing view points, dissecting their arguments, and coming to your own conclusions is important.  Being able to defend a position with reasonable arguments is the foundation for decision making.  Arguments that include the words “any”, “all”, or “always” tend to be self-defeating, yet that’s what gets the clicks/eyes/ears.

Confirmation bias is a real thing.  It narrows our potential for growth, by making us take the same decisions again, and again.  A whole lot of the golden age of sci-fi was built upon this concept, of arbitrary separation between groups.  From the outside, it looks ridiculous – see Let That Be Your Last Battlefield.

It’s possible for two people to have different opinions on a matter and both be correct, or both be wrong.  The context and perspective of each individual matters when forming an opinion.  Financial management is much different for someone with a relatively poor background vs someone with no financial burdens.  I get it.

But we didn’t get to this point in history without talking to other people.  Without trusting other people.  If we didn’t have disagreements we’d never have seen a telescope, a lightbulb, calculus, or space exploration.  Civilizations that became self-absorbed in their own righteousness rot from within.  As soon as we start suspecting our neighbors, we’re already heading down that slippery slope.

And to think, we have tons of history to show us the end result of that mindset.  We have much more in common with each other than differences.

High Times

Pretty good odds you’re aware that Canada legalized marijuana (cannabis/weed) on Wednesday.  This was an election promise from 2 years ago, and more like 10 years in the making.  Holland was the first country, and there are certainly many states/provinces globally that have also taken this change to heart.  Still, there are about 40 million people here, so it would be fair to say that we’re the largest group globally with this new law.

I won’t argue the merits of taking drugs.  I won’t bother discussing the various strains with all level of THC.  Or the empirical data supporting medicinal use.  There are more than enough posts/blogs/studies/evaluations/theses on this to blind a man.

From a personal lens, this has nearly zero impact.  I don’t use it, and have no plans to use it.  There’s already plenty of it to go around.  Walking pretty much anywhere downtown, you’d get a whiff of it.  It was always going to be part of the “drugs are bad, mmkay” talk with the kids.  People still can’t smoke in cars, or in non-smoking areas (99% of buildings).  Can’t show up to work blazed.

Big scope it’s going to take a long time to figure out.  Sure, it probably will mean cleaner strains (no fentanyl) for those that go through official supply lines.  More variety.  The price point will need to be tweaked to offset organized crime supply lines – just like contraband cigarettes.  The changes to society are going to take quite a few years to sort out.  We’re a large (physically) country, with different cultures from coast to coast – hard to say how NL will cope with this as compared to BC, which was practically legal there anyhow.

There will be the negative voices on this as well.  There always are for any change.  Think about the children! they will scream.  Of course think of the children.  Who doesn’t?  It’s not like this is saying “give $20 weed-infused gummy bears on Hallowe’en”.   Who would even think of actually giving that away, or what parent would accept gummies in a ziplock for their kid?  And if they did, do you think now those kids are in danger?

There are plenty of cautions to this change, lessons to be applied from other areas, and tweaks that will be made along the way.  Nothing is ever perfect.  But damn if this isn’t something interesting to talk about that doesn’t feel like a Twilight Zone episode.

Learning Through Plateaus

Starts and stops along the way.

I’m a firm believer in the learn/apply/learn model.  You find this model primarily in sports, where there are study sessions, followed by practice, then by games, then repeat.  You rarely find this model in actual schools, which is somewhat ironic.  Schools instead focus on the learn/learn/learn model, with very few instances of practical application, except for one large one at the end of the term.  That final exam rarely has anything to do with much more than ensuring you memorized a textbook.

The flipside is the apply/apply/apply model, where you just brute force your way through a problem.  Sure, this can work if your problem is large hamburger, but there has got to be a cleaner way to finish a plate!  Not to mention the inherent danger of trying something without any concept as to how it works.  How many folks do you know that have electrocuted themselves trying to do some “small repair”?

Outside of fringe cases, you need time to learn, and time to put that study into practice, then learn from that practice.  Without taking the time for that last step is where people hit plateaus.  A plateau in the sense of lack of further progress, where you simply stall moving forward.  In nearly all cases it’s a lack of study of the problem and solutions that holds a person back.

When I initially picked up the guitar, my hands were simply incapable of forming an F bar.  I was twisting my wrist and stretching my fingers, and generally swearing to some old god that I could make this work.  It was a week plus trying to get that thing to work.  I did some reading/watching and found a similar cord that didn’t require a bar, and bob’s your uncle, it works.  It’s not to say that I stopped practicing a bar chord, just that I moved on from that particular plateau onto the next.  A bar B is next.

Nergigante

Of course a game!

The first time I met this guy on PS4, I spent the better part of a week taking him down solo.  I knew his patterns, but there was a particular set of moves that I simply could not avoid – the dive bomb, and front smash/throw (after being hit).  Near constant instant-KO.  With time, I figured out the i-frame dive, which makes you invulnerable to damage.  The catch here, is that you need to have your weapons sheathed.  With Dual Blades, this is a quick animation.

This is not a quick animation with the Charge Blade.  I’m sure I saw grass grow the number of times I tried this.  I failed this quest a half dozen times trying to make the old process work again here.  I tried tweaking my positioning, reading the shade of black on the spikes to predict it… it just wasn’t coming together.  Then I decided to take a small breather than think a bit more.  Brain fart enough, the Charge Blade comes with a shield.

Sure enough, blocking the damage for all his attacks deals minimal damage, and provided a single opening for a SAED.  So for the first 80% of the fight, it was more or less attacking until I was SAED-ready, then waiting to block an attack, then countering with a massive strike.  First attempt failed at the 90% mark, the dive bomb still one shot me and I guess it’s related to the angle of attack.  Second attempt I didn’t faint once.

The old set of tricks were not going to work here, no matter how hard-headed I was to make them fit.  I thought I knew enough, but was clearly proven wrong.  It’s interesting to look back on my mental process for this plateau.  Certainly could have saved some headaches by taking more time to think, than do.  At least I didn’t blow a week like last time, so some bit of progress.

Choose Your Own Adventure

Or non-linear growth.

I’d say schools are the best and worst examples of this.  The basic concept of moving up a grade is linear, and you’ll find enough teachers unwilling to stray from the A–>B–>C learning concepts.  But you will always find at least one in your life (hopefully more) that goes so far outside of bounds that you come out of that class with a deeper appreciation of everything.  (My personal feelings about teachers could fill a novel.)  Your abilities in one area are rarely held back by those in another.  They may have dependencies, or benefits mind you.

I’m a decent hockey player, it’s the sport I spent the most time playing.  But I also played nearly every other sport possible, and I’m above average in most.  I don’t really get by on the physical side, but on the mental one.  You would be surprised to learn how most sports operate on the same concepts – in particular group play.  Seeing the play happen before it does, and then anticipating the next step.  That mental cross link is the key.

We see it in nearly all games.  If you’ve played one tab-target MMO, you likely have all the basic skills required for another.  Sure, you’ll eventually learn the specifics of that other game, the nuances that make it, well, it.  Even some more basic elements, like not standing in fire, that translates to nearly every other game as well.  Now the mechanics of how that fire is created, spread, and your movement abilities are game specific, but the concept of GTFO is the same.

Then you have skills that have very little overlap.  I play a bit of guitar, and it has very little in common with other skills.  Physically, I need to contort my wrist/hands into odd positions.  Mentally I need to recall sets of notes, large structures, timing, and then the actual song.  It’s a performance skill, meaning 99% practice, 1% actual presentation.  And that 1% requires a level of confidence that can be hard to find.  But when you try a bit, and you fail, and you succeed, you start to see how it fits into other abilities.  Many songs are built on the same set of cords or transitions, so it’s less about memorizing the notes but the overall pattern.  The rhythm in music is fundamentally based on heart beats, which many athletes are conscious about while active.  The fine motor movement on the strings is similar to typing, or a heavy APM game like SC2.  Even the wrist movements are quite similar to just good knife technique in the kitchen.

MH:W is making me think of all this due to the 14 weapon types.  Conceptually they fit one of 3 molds – attack, defense, range.  Mechanically, they are all quite different.  If you use a long sword like you use dual blades, you’re gonna have a bad time, mmkay.  But they do share something in common, they are all rhythm based.  A charge blade is more akin to a waltz, where large sweeping and deliberate movements are key.  Sword and shield feels like you are waiting for the bass to drop (defend), then go all out.  The glaive is more like prancing in an instrumental ballet.  Each weapon has a best suited monster to fight, where their own rhythm impacts its pairing.  Rather than thinking the entire game needs to be learned from scratch, you can take previous experience in many fields and apply it here with great effect.

I am continually fascinated at how all my learning can be applied to other fields, and that there’s never really a feeling of time lost.  Something as simple as making a puzzle forces you to look at the big picture before making sense of the details.  Breadth of experience and understanding how to tap into that skill set… that’s the key to versatility and adaptability.  Depth of experience certainly has it’s uses (e.g. get a certified electrician) but in the wide majority of cases it’s better to expand one’s knowledge rather than perfect it.