Sunday Sports Day

Ok, call me petty but I couldn’t be happier to see the Riders beat the Stamps today. I have had enough of overrated Bo Levi and Dave “The Dick” Dickenson. Dave was a whiny player and is a whiny coach. The stupid pretend kick to try to draw an offside was probably the cheapest coaching move I’ve seen in a long long time.

It is also awesome the Fajardo is going to the west final. I really like his play. Unfortunately I suspect Winnipeg will de assemble the Riders and ship them home in an old shoe box.

I feel sorry for the Fleury team. You should be going to the Olympics. Tough break. Curling can be an unforgiving game. Jen can be good but she has become so inconsistent. We’ll have to keep our fingers crossed.

On the curling note I’m even happier that Koe lost yesterday. Not only lost but quit after 6. WTF? Need a hanky Kevin? I still haven’t forgiven you for the 2018 Olympics. This is what you get for taking Morris in. John has ruined many a good team. The guy is team culture poison. He should have to wear a hazard label.

I had no favourite in the mens. Jacobs or Gushue can both represent.

Life Advice

I follow the crew and Adam Savage on their web site and on YouTube with reasonable regularity.  This week has been focused on the San Diego ComicCon which, while interesting in its own way, has shown me that I really have little desire to go to a ComicCon.  That said I was watching Adam and friends in their panel discussion today.  As expected most questions were around Adam’s Myth Busters experiences.  At the very end though, 44 minutes into the 52 minute segment, the panel all take a turn offering advice to a young woman looking to start a new vocation.  Adam Savage, Alton Brown, Chris Hadfield, Andy Weir, and Phil Plait offer their takes on what life is and how one lives it.  I couldn’t agree with them more.  Girls, pay attention…

Guess what, you’re going to die

I recently read an article called You are going to die on the website Evidence Based Fitness.  This article is a couple of years old already but I just became aware of it. It totally reflects my own philosophy.

My wife and I have been rolling our eyes at food studies for years already, ever since the saccharine studies.  For those unaware of these, the studies “proved” saccharine caused cancer. In reality, to consume as much saccharine as they pumped into the lab rats to cause cancer you would have to drink a diet soda every six minute for the rest of your life.  Now decades later saccharine is back. I have looked sideways at these studies ever since.

I am a proponent of eating naturally. Evolution got us here, so eat like your body was built to.  We are omnivores. Eggs would have been a valuable foodstuff to Caveman Mel. No, he wouldn’t have eaten 6 a day, every day.  He could never have gathered that many.  Simple.

Same with meat.  Meat has been a major component in Hunter Gatherer Mel’s diet.  Sorry to hurt anyone’s vegan, veggie, PETA feelings but that is the reality.  Humans eat meat.  Your body was built to process meat. It’s not a bad thing and removing meat from your diet is unnatural.  Yes, you can do it, but you are not eating the way you were constructed to.  Luckily for you humans are adaptable omnivores.  

I also relate to the comments the author makes about life length and life style.  Length of life is unimportant for me.  I can’t control it, it is a complete unknown, and the even someone with the “healthiest” lifestyle could be hit by a bus tomorrow.  What IS important is quality of life.  You like hiking in the outdoors? Then getting in shape is a natural part of your quality lifestyle. You’ll be happier when you can get to the top of that hill.  

The message I most appreciated is stop fretting.  If nothing else your physical health will be better as a result of your better mental health. 

You’re going to die, get over it already.

Economics of buying versus renting music

If you could go through my listening history for the past few days you would see this

Daytime working music:

  • Opera (Songza)
  • Marathon Dire Straits session (Deezer)
  • Vallenato and grupero (Deezer)
  • 50’s UK  (iTunes radio)
  • Kraftwerk and Jean Michel Jare (Rdio)

Evening vegging tunes:

  • Standup routines (Sirius Radio)
  • Guitar covers (YouTube)
  • Folk roots (Songza)
  • Radio plays (Sirius Radio)

Conspicuously absent is any music played from my actual owned collection.  All of my listening has been streaming service based.  Hmm.  So I have several hundred albums in a shelf on the wall or stored in media players and I listen to none of it.  

My brother and I are both using subscription based services.  He is an Rdio user and I am trying Deezer.  It’s a tough call between them.  Very similar user interfaces, almost identical libraries.  It may come down to pricing, in which case Rdio has an edge with their family plan.

I’ve always shied away from these services  in the past because I hated having nothing when you end your subscription. Let’s do some math.

Say I have 300 CDs and I paid an average of $20 for each. I have made a $6000 investment in music.  Average monthly subscription fee in Canada is $10. If I had spent my money on subscriptions I would be able to be a member for 600 months for the same money.  That’s 50 years!  That’s essentially a lifetime.  And my library is 25 million songs, not 1200 like it is on CD. 

Pretty compelling I think.  Especially when I look at what I actually do when I listen.  It’s not pulling out a disc, it’s not even firing up iTunes to play a song out of my library.  

Now I just need to decide which one. I have a grandfathered lifetime Sirius subscription but Sirius has its place, and it’s not for everything.  It needs to be something I can call up an artist on demand, not just curated playlists.  Same issue with Songza; useful and I use it too but again, it has its place.  Actually, Songza place seems to be my woodshop.  Not sure why that is…

Spotify is the favorite of many but I’ve tried it and sorry, can’t stand the interface.  Soundcloud is just the new MySpace.  Good to go there to look for new non commercial artists but it can’t be the main option.  At the moment it’s either Deezer and Rdio.

I see you…and hear you…and smell you…and…

Do a search for open office floor plans and you will get back a long list of articles and studies on how these concepts are doomed to failure.  Distractions both auditory and visual are the main problems identified, but personality and work styles are equally important reasons. They are acknowledged productivity killers.  Yet despite all the press around how it doesn’t work companies continue to adopt open offices.

Mine too I’m afraid.  I lose my office in two weeks.  I lose my walls.  I lose my view over the river valley.  I lose my discussion side table and guest chair.  I lose most of my office furniture.  I get instead six feet of work surface, a chair, and 42″ walls.  With a moderate lean I sit within handshaking distance of five other people.  It would be six, but one workspace is vacant.


There is no complaining about it. There is no changing the decision.  This train has left the station.  My colleagues and I are resigned to trying to make the best of it.

I can take some solice in the fact that over my 30 odd years on the job I have had some of the best office space in the company for at least half of the time.  I would argue at times I had the best office in the company, including the president’s.  A bit smaller maybe but when you considered the location, the views, the amenities, I definitely had some great offices.  Even the president never had a pool table just down the hall like I did for a few years.  A little yin for the yang maybe.

Invest an hour into your psyche

I just finished reading the graphic novel Daytripper after seeing it on one of those “top 25 you must” lists a friend sent me.  I will not repeat what everyone else has already said.  There are far better reviews in the interwebs than I could do.  I will say I agree with them.


I hope to discuss it in more detail with this friend, and I am curious to see if he took the same thing from it I did.  I need to read it again before we have that talk.  I have so many thoughts I can’t yet put into words.  My response to the book was more emotional than intellectual. I felt it rather than understood it. Not sure if that makes sense or if it just makes me sound like a loon.

I guess what I mean is I know what I took away from the book but I could not say if it is the same thing the authors intended or the same as most others.  The description that keeps coming to mind is second derivative –  I am reacting not to the obvious message but to the implications of the message.

Yeah, I know, this is making no sense.  Go read the book.  After you read it play this tune and reflect on what you read and what you take from it.  Trust me, it will be worth it.

Skype Translation Halfway There

I watched the Microsoft video on Skype’s new Translator feature.  According to Microsoft it is a big leap in voice translation, thanks to the move to deep neural networks for speech recognition.  The video shows a German and an English speaker having a Skype call and Skype translating and synthesizing the speech in their respective native language.  All very cool and as the video states all very Star Trek.

It made me think about the speech recognition technologies I presently use.  Anyone who has access to such services has probably at one point shared a laugh with a friend or coworker over the latest voice to text faux pas.  Who hasn’t heard “Hey, look at what <insert service provider / technology brand name here> thinks you said”  They can be as hilarious as auto-correct mistakes on your cell phone.

I sure hope that the new Translator feature performs more reliably.  Can you image watching the the screen and seeing the reaction of the person you are talking to when Skype translates your  “mountain biker and trails” to “mountain biker entrails”.  In English you can easily see the mistake, but in German it is not so obvious -> “mountainbiker und wanderwegen” becomes “mountainbiker eingeweide”.

What struck me the most in the video was the apparent lack of progress in speech synthesis.  It sounds like they are still using the same voice engine that shipped with Windows XP.  This alone makes me look slightly askance at the new feature.  A sexy new thing like real time voice translation really deserves a better speech engine than that.  Something that sounds a bit more lifelike.  It really is not that much better sounding than the phone based technology we had in the 1980’s. Anyone else remember trying to program a Heathkit HERO robot to talk? No, just me?  Well, never mind then.  Cool stuff in the 80’s, lame today.