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.

 

 

Canadian Thanksgiving

I think the timing is more related to the 1 holiday per month theme in Canada.  Which is nice.

Thanksgiving, where we celebrate murdering an indigenous people and taking their land, by thanking our forefathers.  In reality, that holiday has instead morphed into a more general feeling of thanks for the people and life that we do have.  It’s reflective without the somberness of Nov 11th.

We’re heading out of town for some time away from the ever-too-busy city life.  I mentioned in a previous post that life recently have been quite effective at chipping away my energy.  A 6 week crisis at work, a death in the close family, the return to school, kids starting new activities, wife back to work… September is just general 1st world chaos.  I make no allusions that the (majority of) chaos is both a) self-inflicted and b) one of privilege.

Still, it’s a time where the weather permits long days outside.  A good coffee with a sweater in the morning, or a campfire at night.  It’s a bit like the bottom of the roller coaster drop, where you can catch your breath, look around, and see the next hill coming fore.  You appreciate what you just went through, generally with a smile.

I’m personally more than thankful for the life I have.  I’d be lying if I said I didn’t want to be an astronaut, but this is a close 2nd.  Great wife, great kids, super job.  Finances are never a concern.  Solid set of friends.  In good general health.  A healthy set of hobbies.  I recognize that a lot of people don’t have all of that… some have none of it.

So corny post and all, I needed to get this down on virtual ink.  I have a good life. Hope you do too.

 

Comfy Questions

While I’m sure I’ve done this a few times over the years, here’s another pass on oversharing.

comfy_questions

  • How do I drink my tea?

I am not a mixer.  I drink my tea black.

  • Favorite dessert?

Lemon meringue pie.  It’s such a pain to make that it’s all that more enjoyable.

  • Favorite season?

Summer.  I love to fish, and I can still play some hockey.  Plus the wife and kids are off during the summer, so I get to see more of them.

  • What cheers me up?

Laughing and seeing someone succeed at a difficult task.

  • Dogs or cats?

I’ve had both, and neither.  They are not made for urban living, being locked in a house for 8-10 hours a day.

  • Dream Holiday?

Perhaps this is a European term, since holidays in NA are already set in the calendar (e.g. new year’s).  I’ll assume this is vacation.  There’s a long list of trips I’d like to take, though the Louvre, and the highlands in Scotland are at the top.  Visiting the rockies, and maritimes in Canada is also on the list.  Most of the time though, just a trip to the cottage for a week… that is extremely pleasant.

  • How many kids do I want?

I have 2.  Having more is a logistical challenge.  Maybe adoption later on, or providing foster care.

  • Favorite weather?

Don’t really have any.  I like snow for outdoor hockey, rain for peaceful time, sun for fishing/swiming, and clear skies for a starlit campfire.  I dislike extremes but I enjoy all types of weather.

  • Last meal?

I like all types of food… this is like asking to pick your favorite child.  No idea.

  • Where would ideal 24 hours be spent?

At the cottage, with friends and family.  I’ve done it numerous times over the past few years.  Worth it every time.

  • Where would I haunt as a ghost?

Parliament.

  • What is my family ancestry?

I have a phone book’s worth of family history from my father’s side at home – mostly from France.  Mother’s side is Irish and German.  I can trace back my family’s landing to the 1600s in Canada.

  • What scares you?

People’s capacity for willful ignorance.

  • Most grateful for?

Most everything I have. I come from a somewhat poor upbringing with social assistance.  I’ve had to work extremely hard for what I have, and realize I wouldn’t have been able to get any of it without that original assistance.

  • Dream job?

Pastry chef, specifically pies.  2nd best, is the job I have currently.

  • Believe in aliens?

Anyone who thinks that humanity is the only life in the universe is delusional.  There are 10x more stars in our universe than all the grains of sand on Earth.  Do I believe that little green men abduct people?  No.  If someone could travel space/time, you really think that they’d be caught on a camera?

  • Favorite sport?

Hockey. I’ve played pretty much all sports in the america’s at some point.

  • How do you relax?

Games, reading, fishing.  Time alone is also quite useful.

  • Which historical person who you like to meet?

Isaac Newton and Alexander the Great share that top spot.

  • What would you teach?

I would not be a teacher in a school in Canada, and less so in the US.  Teachers are the most important asset a country has to build their future.  Both society and the teacher’s unions have lost that perspective.  I could talk for a year about this topic, as it’s probably the one I’m the most passionate about.

I’ll volunteer as a sports coach instead.

  • Perfect day?

Same as the previous version of this.  At the cottage with friends and family.

  • Who I am, in one sentence?

A pragmatic agent of change, who wants to ensure that my kids have a better inherited world than I did.

  • What makes me laugh?

Dark humor.  I much prefer British comedies than those in north america.  Black Adder / Red Dwarf stuff.

  • What superpower would you choose?

Super intelligence, no question.  One of the few super powers where you can actually help other people without physically being present.

  • Favorite animal?

Fish I guess.  I eat animals.

  • Biggest accomplishment?

Great wife and 2 super kids.  I work to live, not the other way around.  It just so happens that I really enjoy my work.

Unplugging

I spent the weekend in Northern Ontario, on the Canadian shield.  It’s essentially pure bedrock, so that leaves mostly pine/cedar trees to grow.  While the Rockies (out west) certainly shine, I still think that proto-typical Canada is the rivers & lakes surrounded by rolling hills of pine.  I’ve got a few Tom Thompson paintings to reinforce that bias.

It was a long weekend up here, and normally I try to take the Friday off as well, given the 6 hour drive to get here.  That didn’t work out this year, and I needed to bring my laptop up.  So from 8 til about 1 I was typing and chatting away while the rest of the family was puttering around the cottage.  I managed to get a video conference going too, which honestly is a bit odd to have in a Muskoka chair, sitting on a deck with a cup of coffee.  I left to hit some golf balls shortly thereafter, and finished one large procurement on my phone on the 2nd hole.

The feeling of putting it down, and just breathing was very nice.  Sure, it was there in case I needed it, but I was able to just unplug and enjoy time with family and the great outdoors.

I’m finding it hard sometimes, with what would be a nervous habit of pulling out a phone to check on something.  Usually work related.  So to be able to spent 8 hours in a boat with my father & father-in-law, not even see the time go by, not get a single ding, and have a smile for most of it… that was more than great.  And while nearly everyone has a some piece of tech with them, we all spent a ton of time just sitting and talking and laughing.  The habit of playing cards with some, while others scroll on a tiny screen was replaced by being outside til midnight with beer and a smile.

While the irony of using technology to share this story is not lost on me, I still find it important to share stories relating to relationships without technology.  There’s a lot of good to come from putting things down, and just looking someone in the eyes.