Tuesday 23 December 2014

Not Working Today --Merry Christmas

Good day everyone,

I am now off for the holidays, and while I will be taking care of a few odds and ends I will not be in the office the balance of the week.

I have received received several emails from acquaintances of how despite objections from a politically correct world the author would continue to wish a Merry Christmas and not be bullied into expressing those most feared of words..

Happy Holidays, the Jim Belushi of Christmas season greetings.

I suppose the only worse fate for such victims of bullying is being sold a Holiday Tree by the guy in the mall parking lot when the kids were so looking forward to a Christmas Tree.  For those unaware of the difference, the a Holiday Tree has uneven branches, never looks quite right no matter how it is rotated and the lights continue to burnout or simply refuse to light at all.

But is any of this actually true?  Never have I ever been told not to wish people a Merry Christmas, although at times I have certainly chosen not to.  I figure wishing someone that is Hindu a Merry Christmas is like sending him a gift bottle of steak sauce.  They may appreciate the effort, but in the end just end up with an unused bottle of steak sauce.

The challenge is to know who celebrates Christmas and who may celebrate Ramadan, Hanukkah, Yule, or Kwanzaa.  Who may be Hare Krishna, Hindu, Buddhist, Javeh's Witness or even Scientologist?  Wishing Merry Christmas to an Agnostic should be okay, since he doesn't know if you are right or not and a great way to screw with his head; and wishing Merry Christmas to an Atheist equally okay since she has no holidays of her own she may as well celebrate Christmas and get the day off.

So here we are, 3 days before Christmas and this really is the best time for me to offer a heart filled Merry Christmas! to those that celebrate.  Hanukkah ends on the 24th, so still time for me to offer a Hanukkah Sameach to my friends that hail from Gefilte corners.   Kwanzaa starts on the 26th, Joyous Kwanzaa -What's happening! to my friends of African heritage.  Happy Shalbe Yalda -celebrating light and goodness! to our Iranian friends.  Happy Pancha Ganapati!  to my Hindu friends.

Have I missed anyone? Is Malkh already over?  I think Yule still is to start, Happy Yule? or is it better to yell out,Yule Ho!  I just don't know, and then there is Soyal but do I even know any Hopi or Zuni?  I call myself a Utilitarian but that is more a pragmatist philosophy than a theocratic position, but am I a obligated to celebrate Chalica?

How about this, Happy Holidays everyone.  I hope that you all have a chance to share time with your family and friends, and that you have left over turkey so that you can enjoy a good sandwich.   Except you vegetarians of course.

Oh yes, and unless you observe a non-Gregorian calendar.. Have a Happy New Year!

Monday 8 December 2014

Working in Montréal today --ad hominem refute

Good morning folks,

I am working in Montréal today, Ottawa on Wednesday and not working at all on Friday.  Please be sure to mark in your calendars, I may quiz you later.

Have you ever woke up and realized that you lost an argument that you didn't know that you were in?  You may have been the victim of the best of conversational terrorisms, the fallacious and unfair arguments.

Top of the food chain is the ad hominem attack, literally against the man.  This is where the opposing side does not address questions of fact or applicability but instead attacks the speaker.

Yeah, well you wouldn't understand this, it is way above your head even though you think you are an expert on everything.  Moreover, you are a big doo doo head.

There are many variants of this, but you get the idea.  The next are the slight of mind tricks.  These could be arguments against the structure of your data and method of presenting, the context or introducing a new argument from somewhere past the short stop in left field.

What precisely do you mean by ending your argument with 'of'?  You mentioned circumcision how long have you been antisemitic? 

There are the straw-man arguments as well, this is where the speaker presents an argument that you did not actually make and then attacks it.  If they are careful they can even lure you down a road that is close to hell.

You stated that you believe in free elections but in this country our right to vote originates in land ownership.  I don't see how any system that purposefully excludes citizens that cannot afford to buy a house and must rent from participating in our elections is at all fair and I question your logic on that issue and this and put it back to you how it was fair to exclude and marginalized such a large segment of the population.

You have no doubt been the recipient of the bombastic refute.  This usually involves an amplified response involving much hand waving and a litany of previously undisclosed facts or fictions that if they were true or relevant should have been part of the original argument.

It's like a cop arguing for a warrant with only vague circumstantial evidence but countering the denial with claims of dozens of witnesses.

The brain seizure is always fun as well..

Well what you have implied is different from your inference,  I suggest that you decide if we are going to discuss this in a procedural or structural framework or at the very minimum agree on the dialectic rules, does that sound fair?

Damn, there are so many more invalid argument types, but the plane is on final approach, out of time.   Please feel free to post your own in the comments section.

Have a great Monday and a great week!

Thursday 4 December 2014

Working in Ottawa today --Trapped like caged abibsnk

Good morning folks,

I will be working in Ottawa today.

This is the first day back traveling to and fro in a couple -three weeks.  I was away for a bit having some surgery to correct a design problem.

Design problem?  Yes, whether you are a follower of evolution or creation it is a design problem.  Men are 37% likely to experience an inguinal hernia during their lifetime and women I think are around 22% likely.   I have bettered the odds for one of you, as I had twins.  A bilateral inguinal hernia.

Yay.  The surgery itself is quite simple, starts with shooting the patient up with morphine.. a hazy high where time stands still and while you still feel pain, you just don't really care.  Now I suppose that some prefer and have a general anesthetic, I strongly prefer a local, and now having tried morphine, am eager to have more :) 

Yes.. Back to the surgery.  The Doc sliced me up, about 5 1/2" on each side (one side one day, the other two days later) and then 'rearranged' the four layers of muscle to eliminate the gap and stitched them together with some stainless steel wire to keep them oriented just so.  I could not actually see what they were doing, there was a sheet over a bar in front of my face so I could only look up at the anesthetist.  Hey, s'up?  Hey, I feel that cutting.. ah.. More morphine.

They told me that as soon as that was done, I was technically 'cured' of my hernias, but then there was the nasty openings, so glue and clamps were applied.  Really.  They glued me together and attached 17 little clamps to each side.

So Uncle Daniel, does this mean you will beep when going through airports?

Good question, but no.  Although I did ask the Doc what type of stainless steel he used, he simply said non-magnetic.  I figure it must be type 304.  About 18% chromium, 10% nickel and the balance of centre faced crystalline structure iron.  Yeah, way TMI.

So no.  No beep, and should not rust :) So while I was randomly selected for a pat down and extra screening at the airport this AM, I did not beep.

What is particularly amusing is the text messages that I sent in the first 4 hours of each procedure to family and friends.  Here are two gems.

"here to the room around nine waited for several hours before I can trenchedf"

"Had the surguy aroun 7. Went well.  Back at rolom since 9. Trapped like caged abibsnk"

There were others where Sharlene said that I had just sent single letters as whole words.

Hah!  Well, good to be back among the able-bodied,  have a great day!

Thursday 13 November 2014

Working in Montréal today --67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko

I will be working in Montréal today.

Earth, the moon, Mars, Venus, Titan moon of Saturn, two asteroids, comet Tempel-1 and now.... comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko, all places where human made crafts have landed.

Yesterday the Philae lander descended from its mothership, Rosetta, after the pair spend the last 10 years making the 6.4 billion km trip.  Like all missions there is always a glitch somewhere and for Philae, the 100 kg lander, it is just precariously sitting on the surface of the 3 x 5 km comet as its landing anchor harpoons failed to deploy.  This may make the core sample drilling especially challenging.

Yay for science and congratulations to the European Space Agency!

Have a good day!

Thursday 6 November 2014

Working in Ottawa today --The Meaning of Life

Good morning folks,

I will be working in Ottawa today.

This is a 10 minute Philosophy Pulp on the Meaning of Life.  I apologize now.

Nesnesitelná lehkost bytí is a Czech book that translates to English as either Your dog with the man's name, she weighs not so much? or perhaps more accepted and better known, The Incredible Lightness of Being.

The book disguises itself as a tale of intertwined lovers and art and cultural change with a backdrop of Communist Prague.  And there is a dog who's best friend is a pig.

But the book is also an examination of the nature of life and its 'lightness', passing through and experiencing life and its wonders one time.. Life 1.0 Light as appose to the Nietzscheism of time is merely a loop and everything has been done, and will continue to be done and it matters not what you do since you and I will just do it all again.  Life Redeux 2.0 Heavy.

I should start again.   Several minutes of flight time typing wasted. Damn.

A few evenings ago the subject matter turned to immortality.   Not on purpose mind you, it just ended up there with the premise of what was presented as an inevitability of computer development evolution, the virtual environment to serve as an eternal hamster wheel for your transferred consciousness.

Yes, copy your thoughts and memory into a suitable clockwork box and let it run forever.

And then yesterday on Facebook my brother John sent a link to 10 questions that identify your philosophy.  He claims to be a Skeptic.  I doubt that he is.  

Back to Life and its meaning.

In German there is a term, Einmal ist Keinmal, Once is never enough, and the Pythagoreans (defenders of their oh-so-fancy theorem of calculating angled tile cuts) had the concept of Eternal Recurrence and yes, Indian Philosophy also embraces Reincarnation.  No doubt to keep it all interesting their chefs came up with spicy food.  I can only assume that these are philosophies created in the image of our want.  Very few want to die, life is a blast, and so it is no doubt that through the ages many have conjured up ways where we get to stay. 

I prefer a evolved view of life, that we pursue the model of getting this right, but not a 'we' as in you and I stuck on a hamster wheel, but we humans. Flesh and blood, laughter, tears, pain, pleasure, logic, beauty, ugliness, art and filth. That my and your descendants or theirs or theirs may eventually get it right.  I guess you could say a version of Neoplatonism where the at the top of the abstract class food chain is a pure good, a pure morality where that morality is defined as that utilitarian concept of that which results in the greatest overall happiness. That the goal of life, the meaning of life is to pursue that reaching of oneness with the the pure form good,the pure morality.  Okay, maybe that was platonism (lower case p) merged with utilitarianism.

Conveniently I am also unlikely to be stoned or shunned for that philosophy since it is somewhat compatible with Judeo-Christian beliefs, merely substitute the individual goal of binding with God for the group pursuit of attaining pure utilitarian good.  

But if we just come up with a way of perpetuating our own consciousness and the have 'life' without the stuff that makes it so damned interesting, what becomes of that pursuit?  What then is the meaning of life?

Sounds like a hell to me, a permanent vegetative state.

No thanks.

Have a great day.

Thursday 23 October 2014

Working in Montréal today --Our front line

O Canada! Our home and native land!
True patriot love in all thy sons command,

Car ton bras sait porter l'épée,
Il sait porter la croix!

Ton histoire est une épopée
Des plus brillants exploits,

God keep our land glorious and free!
O Canada, we stand on guard for thee.
O Canada, we stand on guard for thee.

Warrant Officer Patrice Vincent
Corporal Nathan Cirillo

Thursday 16 October 2014

Working in Ottawa today --GoPro Minutiae

Good morning folks,

I will be working in Ottawa today.

Very little that occurs in our life is interesting to others.  Take this Pulp, I am awake somewhere around 1080 minutes per week, less if I get a Saturday afternoon snooze in.

During that time I spend about 20 minutes writing this Pulp.  And it is barely interesting, most of you read it out of sheer politeness.  The things that occupy the other 1060 minutes per week of my life may cripple you into a paralyzingly ennui.  The minutiae (for those that care, minutia is a single trivial item, minutiae is a collection of trivial items) of our daily lives is just not suitable for sharing..

Yet, sales of GoPro cam (video camera designed to record events from your first person perspective) sales are higher than ever!  Today in the airport a fellow cruised past the flight info screen near lower security with a GoPro strapped firmly to his face.  Now this did not appear to be the work of Joe survey dude, no, just some guy that must assume that his ordinary coming and goings will be interesting to his friends and family and his Youtube family of followers.

I can imagine him home at the end of the day with his wife and children forcing them to watch the footage.. his wife in a near catatonic state thinking that alcoholism may be a viable option and his children crying, no daddy I don't want to watch anymore, I'm sleepy -- You will watch it and enjoy it, look, here I am walking past the shoe shine guy, everyone wave.

What?  Uncle Daniel, that is all that you have today -- How about some further editing of the minutiae?

Yeah, sorry about that.  Was up a bit late writing some contract mods and used up all of the really good words.

But in apology, I bring you two of my favorite Hallowe'en jokes.

What do you get when you divide a pumpkin's circumference by its diameter?
ip nikpmup (backwards)

What is the favorite sport of the Smashing Pumpikins?
hsauqs (also backwards)

Have a great day.

Thursday 9 October 2014

Working in Montréal today --Flat White Crack

Good morning folks,

It will be working in Montréal today.

This is a fluff piece.  No stark political accusations, no indictment of our path to a totalitarian dystopian future where the appliances all speak to each other but the people do not and where big brother tracks our every purchase, every book we read and every vote we cast.

No.  Not this time Mr. Goldstein, you get a free pass.

Instead.  A tribute to the new crack, my new crack.  The Flat White.

This is the brief story of my descendence into New Zealand coffee hell and the happiness I have found by being there.

A number of weeks ago while returning from lunch at the food court across the street in Toronto with Mel and Matt, Matt noticed a sign in front of Second Cup advertising a new coffee addition to their line up.  The Flat White.

Matt was immediately enthused.  He explained quickly that he had had Flat White coffee in New Zealand (or Australia, to be honest, I wasn't really paying attention at the time) and he hadn't found one on this side of the planet.

Sidebar.. New Zealand's island chain The Antipodes were originally called the Penantipodes, literally, Next to the Antipodes.    This was simply because New Zealand and Australia too were originally called the Antipodes by those in the UK as they are near the antipodal point of Great Britain (which would actually be just to the south in the Pacific Ocean).  Eventually the islands' name was shortened to simply The Antipodes.  I explained the whole thing in a prior Pulp devoted to the study of Antipodal points.

And we are back.  Btw, this stuff just pops into my head and for some reason not easily explained I feel compelled to explain and share with you.  Go figure.

Now that particular day I did not try the Flat White but did have a Espresso Macchiato.  Somewhat satisfying but kind of.. meh.   Matt had a Flat White -enjoyed immensely, and Mel skipped out entirely.

But the next day..  I partook.  Oh my.  I am now thoroughly addicted to the Flat White.

The Flat White is quite simple in its deliciousness.  1/3 Espresso.  But the espresso needs to be of sufficient quality and grind that it yields forth a nice layer of creama across the surface..  Creama is a rich thick foamy mixture of proteins and oils from the bean.  To this 1/3 espresso , 2/3 micro foamed steamed milk is added.

Not aerated milk with foam to perch on top of the coffee like a poorly fitted wig.. No.  But rather a steamed milk with very little air, just enough to make very wee bubbles.  And something else...  When the milk is steamed and brought up to about 120 degrees F., a bit of magic occurs.

The lactose which doesn't really taste sweet in milk at all, gets split into two sugars, glucose and galactose.   When this microfoamed milk gets poured through the espresso that mild and delicate sweetness is spread throughout the cup.

It is important to note, do not let the milk get close to 140, bad, terribly bad things happen.  All of the proteins in the milk become cooked, denatured, the sugar bind with the proteins, cats and dogs start living together in sin and it can lead to increased hair growth on the back of your hands and frogs raining down from your ceiling.  Don't do it.

As a final step, top the coffee off with a little bit of slightly more aerated milk (the stuff hanging around the top of your heating cup) for a bit of 'latte art', a leaf, heart, or my personal signature.. the squished mosquito.  That's right folks, I confess that my barista skills are left wanting in the art department.

In my effort to ensure a steady stream, an infinite availability of this Flat White concoction, I have begun a steady campaign of educating all coffee shops in the making.

The Star Bucks coffee shop in Watsonville, California can make a passable one, but really it's just a short wet cappuccino, and the MMmmmuffins/Timothy's across from the Toronto office received their first training yesterday with yours truly standing behind the barista counter steaming the milk and rolling it gently under the rich creama and of course if you drop by my house, I will make you one personally.

Have a great day, enjoy your coffee break :)

Thursday 2 October 2014

Working in Ottawa today -- The new enemy

Good morning folks,

I am working in Ottawa today.

Question for the collective we..

Are we being shafted by the Coalition of the Vengeful?  Is that the name of the current war on Islamofacist terrorism?  Too many wars, so little attention.

The Harper gov't (the government formerly known as the Canadian gov't) is also plowing full speed into joining that war, I mean this war.  And folks, let me remind you, there is NO UN SANCTION for this war.  The last UN resolution on the matter condemned the violence, and called for member countries to control the flow of would be fighters from their countries into the conflict, but did not say, go do some bombing in foreign lands.

And just to add to the very confusing legal questions of inflicting a bit of air to ground vengeance on those that irritate us, a NEW ENEMY HAS EMERGED.

That right kids.. Introducing The Khorasan Group and their weapon of choice is the toothpaste bomb.  problem is, I don't think they exist.  At the very least they did not seem to exist prior to a week or so ago.  I cannot find ANYTHING ever written about them prior and the only reference anywhere is that there is a region of Eastern Iran and Northern Afghanistan that is known as Khorasan.  But bombing them has occurred without UN sanction and without any direction from the US or Canadian lawmakers, do we really want to play in a war where anyone that presents itself is a target?

It is an interesting strategy by the U.S., first engage in a war without Congressional approval (Congress is scratching their heads a bit trying to figure out if the Congressional vote in 2001 to invade Iraq extends to enemies of Iraq, many experts say.. Uh.. NO), then reveal the emergence of a new enemy (I think that makes 3 distinct groups, maybe 4).  Is it all meant to distract us and keep us uneven on our feet?

I think we may be being fed this by the shovel full.  The two supposed leaders of this organization were both reported as being already dead and according to the US, they are more dangerous than ISIL or ISIS or whatever the hell they are called.

Folks, you know what this means don't you?

Zombie terrorists are currently slowly shuffling their way to International airports across Western Asia to fly here with toothpaste tubes filled with volatile chemicals! Chemical weapons, weapons of mass destruction, dirty bombs, iBombs, SECRET BOMBS!

Welcome to the new disinformation warz.  This group, of which information is so very thin, has been referred to by the U.S. as having as little as a few dozen members, although the U.S. Command and Control reported that they had bombed 8 Khorasan Group targets last week, training camps and installations.  Were these 3 man camps?  Has the entire organization been eradicated?

This group also reportedly are enemies of Iran or Iran is the enemy of the Khorasan, but in any event, does this mean that the U.S. is now in cahoots with Iran and is once again an ally?  Iran and the U.S. were real chummy during the Pahlavi regime between WW2 and the '79 Iranian revolution. But then again Eastasia has always been at war with Oceana, right Winston?

To fuel the current public opinion to support the new air strike war, the western media airs reports of the ISIL perpetrated beheadings over and over.  Now don't get me wrong, I not a fan of ANY group that beheads people and places their want for power ahead of the rights of other peoples, but just to remind everyone, the Free Syrian Army a current ally of the U.S. and soon ours beheaded 6 captives last month and Saudi Arabia beheaded 8.  Is this the behaviour we wish our brave Canadian lads to be associated with?

We can't bomb the shit out of someone under the rational that they behead people by partnering with forces that behead people at faster rates.  It all smells like BS to me and Obama, Harper and their ilk should be bringing the truth, the complete truth to their respective houses and let the people decide.

Have a good day.

Oh, and let's all keep hope and good wishes for the student protestors in Hong Kong as well as the Chinese officials and police.  Calm heads need to prevail on all sides and so far they have.

Peace out.

Wednesday 24 September 2014

Working in Montréal today --Civilian arms race

Good morning folks,

I will be working in Montréal today and then will be off until Tuesday.

It really bugs me to see police officers in military combat gear.  Flak jackets, body armour, kevlar helmets, AR-15 converted M-16s, M4s, and the latest, driving up in MRAPs equipped with LRADs.

Did I start to loose you as the list went on?  Don't worry, you aren't suppose to know about this stuff, up until quite recently it wasn't civilian authority equipment.  It is military equipment designed for combat.  But over the last few years we are seeing more and more of it in civilian use.

What I fail to understand is why do the civilian authorities, on both sides of our border incidentally, do not realize that even the appearance of so equipped officers causes an escalation of hostilities.  When someone dressed for combat shows up and is equipped with enough firepower to kill you several times over an instinctive response may very well be attack first, after all, he doesn't even look like a chatty guy.

And you likely should worry, that officer probably has not had the full training on when and how to use his gear, and likely has not been briefed adequately on the rules on engagement.  We've seen plenty of Canadian and US examples where the semi-non-lethal Tazer has been used as punishment and not as that alternative to lethal force that we were promised.  And, since he is now prepared for combat, he is likely to not see you as a citizen but as an enemy.  It is the 'when you are a hammer, all you see are nails' theory.

Welcome to the new combat ready police force of small town USA.  With a pull back from the ground wars in Iraq and Afghanistan there are an abundance of military ordnance available for free to civilian police departments and school districts.  That's right kids, your local school can finally have that MRAP armored personnel carrier in those nasty situations where armed and IED equipped insurgents take over the math club.

Don't even think about having a student demonstration on the high cost of tuition, your crowd will quickly be dispersed through the tactical use of grenade launchers firing in tear gar canisters..

Whoops, quick side bar.   The grenade launchers used by the military typically launch fragmentation grenades, NEVER tear gas canisters.  Tear gas is a prohibited weapon by signatories of chemical weapons ban treaties.  However, civilian police are free to use tear gas on citizens.

And.. we are back. Yes, the tear gas will flow and then the LRADs will fire up.  An LRAD is a tactical ear piercing 149 db noise maker that a properly trained soldier would deploy in 2 or 3 second bursts causing much pain in those in the wake.  An untrained police officer might deploy continuously for several minutes causing permanent hearing loss of those in its wake like the untrained police did in Ferguson, MO in mid August.

One of the HUGE problems with the transfer of equipment program, is that if the receiving agency does not use the equipment within one year, it must be returned,


Really?  Yes.   That means that if Anytown, USA receives say.. 30 M-16s, they had better find a situation where they can use them.   Perhaps the next domestic call with reports of an intoxicated couple yelling at each other will result in their house being surrounded by 30 officers with assault rifles in combat gear.  Yeah.. drunk Billy Bob then becomes severely agitated, confused and frantic, grabs his possum gun and the rest is history.

Police dressing for combat is violent, it is threatening to the civilian population and will likely result in an arms race.  An increase in domestic insurgency.  A self fulfilling need for the combat equipment.

Dumb and dumber.

Have a good day.  De-escalate where possible.

Thursday 18 September 2014

Working in Ottawa today --Self determination

Good morning folks,

I will be working in Ottawa today.

After a few weeks away from traveling, I am back in the regular schedule.  I had a two week Staycation and the last week was otherwise engaged. So here we are, first day back on a plane and..

Scots are heading to the polls...

You've likely heard that today is Scotland's vote of Yes/No for an independent Scotland.

Perhaps you heard it from The Simpson's Groundskeeper Willy, Hey fellow Scots, on September 18th our people will take to the polls to decide once and for all if Scotland should declare its independence.  Now both sides of this argument have valid points, the freedom loving heirs of the Highland tradition, and those who enjoy crawling like worms beneath British boots!  Our most recent polls show that we are split 50/50 on the matter and I am hesitant to throw my support for either side, be it the right one or the obviously wrong one!

The current union between Scotland and England dates back to the 1707 Act of Union and I might add that a mere 40 years after the signing, new laws were enacted that were aimed at eradicating the Highland culture, the Gaelic language, Tartan, and a prohibiting of owning weapons.   Not unlike the Japanese attempt at eradicating the Korean language and culture in the late 16th century and again in the mid 20th century (previous pulp).  the Koreans are still kind of ticked over that, btw.

But let's let that previous transgression slide a bit.  So what is the current independence push all about?

Well..  Sure, each election the left leaning Scots get a right leaning gov't imposed on them because of the more right leaning and higher populated England.  An independent Scotland would in theory be free from the Conservatives for good and their austerity measures.  Since 2008 the UK gov't has been married to a series of cost cutting measures that have seen a budget cut of 6 billion £ and a loss of 50,000 jobs. 

But the strongest is the desire for self determination.  Scotland formed its own Parliament in 1999 and that just increased the appetite for more self governance and determination of destiny.  Many also believe that a self governed Scotland would prosper with locally managed oil reserves and a Scotland only tax regime.

What is the right answer?  Would an independent Scotland become a member of the EU?  Would Spain and Italy block its entry -- each have their own internal independence movements, The EU president José Manuel Barraso has already stated that Scotland entering the EU would be difficult if not impossible.

London is not agreeable to an independent Scotland to continue using the £ although it could just carry on using it without permission but that would mean without input to monetary policies of the £ which could be extremely risky to the new Scot economy.

But enough of plane cabin political analysis.

If my Scot friends and relatives decide now is the time to move out and go it alone, they are tough enough to succeed; it would not be easy, but life isn't ever.  If they decide to stay, then let's hope that London will keep its promises for reform and new powers for the Scottish Parliament.


Wednesday 13 August 2014

Working in Montréal today --Don't be that guy

Good morning folks,

I will be working in Montréal today.

Didn't I write a Pulp about queuing up? I think so.  You think we would know how to do it.  I mean it's very close to the first thing we learned in grade 1.  That and not to eat the glue and not to push the crayons up one's nose.  Or anyone else's nose.

But alas, this Pulp is dedicated to the guy in the boarding lounge of gate 31 of Pearson this A.M. wearing the yellow shirt.

Despite the fact that I was first in line to chat with the gate agent and patiently waiting (really, I was patient, just waiting for the agent to log-in and get his desk in order) when Yellow Shirt walks up, cuts the line and sort of 'hangs' at the corner of the counter.

Excuse me sir, I began, the line is behind me.

Yellow Shirt countered with, Yes, but I only have a question -- it's important.

I challenged his assertion with, I and the others appreciate that your particular concern is important, but do you think that the rest of us are here to order sandwiches?  We too only have questions, and I would rate mine at a minimum, as important as yours.

He remained.

When the gate agent was ready for passenger inquiries (an oh-so-fancy word for questions) he promptly ignored Yellow Shirt and asked how he could help me.

As agent and I discussed my particular need, Yellow Shirt strolled around behind me and to my right to stand a mere 3 inches from my right elbow. 

I turned slightly and said quietly to Yellow Shirt, 'go away'.

At this point the agent asked Yellow Shirt to please stand over there, vaguely pointing to a place that could only be interpreted as anywhere but at my side.

But did Yellow Shirt get it?   Nooooo..  Instead countered with a claim that there was something wrong with his ticket, with the seat number.

I wondered to myself, wrong with the seat number?  Was it comprised of Roman Numerals? Was it an Irrational number, a fraction?  Seat 23 1/2 B,  IV D? 10.999999999999999 F ?

And then it happened.. the agent asked to see his ticket!  Was this validation that Yellow Shirt's question was indeed more important than that of the rest of the passengers in queue?

But before I could ponder this peculiar turn of events, the agent simply said, you don't have a seat, you have a stand-by ticket.  Go away until we call you.

The sad thing is, this buffoon will barge into another queue at his next opportunity, having reached his goal of getting to ask his oh so f&cking important question.

Have a good day, don't be that guy.

Thursday 7 August 2014

Working in Ottawa today --Antipods

Good morning folks,

I will be working in Ottawa today, jumping back to the Thursday timeslot, and keeping you guessing when the move to Tuesday may occur.

Hey, first a quick public service announcement, Go change your banking password.  And your PayPal password, Apple if you have it, eBay, Gov't Services, Email, Corp login, what ever you have, change it.   The Russian underworld has reportedly stolen over a billion online identities affecting 420,000 websites.  Don't wait for them to make a dozen Interact transfers out of your accounts.  Go change your passwords now.   Well.. after you read today's Pulp.  Priorities, you know.

Fictional character Andrew 'Ender' Wiggin in Ender's Game (2013 film, 1985 book, 1977 short story, Marine Corp Professional Reading List -methodology, leadership, ethics) found humour in observing Colonel Hyrum Graff float through the weightlessness of space with his roll and pitch axes about 45 and 30 degrees off those same axes of the recruits still buckled into their seats.  Ender found humour in that since there are no up nor down directions in space, from the Colonel's perspective it was the recruits that were off axis.

Hmmm?  A clip?  oh.  I thought we had a clip.  Johnny, when we go live can you arrange to have a clip.. thanks, I'll leave that with you.  Oh, and wasn't Burt Bacharach working on a theme song for our proposed new timeslot?

This brings me to this planet.  Earth.  Where there is also no up nor down from the from the perspective of our north - south axis.  We just typically orient our maps with north, good and pure on top, and south, undeveloped and chaotic on the bottom.

Whoa!  Uncle Daniel, what's with the good and pure north rhetoric?

Well simply that maps have the potential of strongly influencing our political perceptions.  A simple slight of hand in the presenting of a map of planet Earth typically shows those land masses close to the equator as disproportionately small compared to the land masses of the north, resulting in Greenland appearing to be larger and more dominant, important than the continent of Africa, whereas in reality, Africa is 14 times the size of Greenland, let alone big enough to easily encompass the U.S.

If you live in Canada or the U.S. you likely heard the expression growing up that you could "dig straight down to China".  Of course that falls apart immediate when you consider that both Canada, the U.S. and China are all in the Northern Hemisphere so an antipodal (the direct opposite side of things like spheres) path from Toronto, through the centre of the Earth could not possibly take a turn and end up in China.

In fact there is no place in North America that is an Antipod of anywhere in China.  For that you would need to be in Chile or Argentina (yeah South America is quite BIG and just Chile and Argentine cover about the size of China).

So Uncle Daniel, this is a bit interesting, not sure what your point is yet, but since we're here.. what is the Antipod (cool word. Thanks for sharing it with us) of Canada?  What about the U.S.?

Yes, Antipod and Antipodal are both cool words.  Alright, ready?  Near all of Canada is diametrically apposed to the Indian Ocean west of Australia.  The most northern parts of Canada scrape along points of Antarctica, but of course if you thought about it, you kind of already must have known that.

And Hawaii, is set diametrically opposite the land locked country of Botswana which is in the southern part of that huge African continent.  Huge?  You bet.  Despite those maps that you used in grade school geography class, the African continent is large enough to engulf, encompass all of the U.S., China, India, the UK, Eastern Europe, Italy, Switzerland, France, Germany, Spain, Portugal, Belgium and have enough room left over for Japan, the Netherlands and Greece.  And still have some room left over.

The point of all of this is while having a beer the other day, someone made the comment that with the 800 cases of Ebola in West Africa, no should travel anywhere in Africa.

I thought this odd.  At the time, the current Ebola outbreak was in the West African countries of Liberia and Sierra Leone, to exclude the entire continent from travel.. meh.

Of course now the outbreak has spread to Nigeria (also West Africa) but also Saudi Arabia which is way over to the east.  S/A is to the east of East Arica on the South West part of Asia, the Middle East.

If it continues spreading then we may see cases in Pakistan and India.  If that occurs, I may consider traveling in a hazmat suit.

Have a good day, avoid people.

Tuesday 29 July 2014

Working in Montréal today --No sticky bits

Good morning folks,

I will be working in Montréal today.  In keeping with the last few weeks of changing it up to keep you guessing, it's right in line.

Question for you.. if you were witness to a person in cardiac distress, would you know what to do, and if you knew what to do, would you do it?

Now many of you may have leapt right in with a yes - yes.  But would it be true?  Would you remember where to put your hands, would you actually perform the chest compressions correctly and would you perform mouth to mouth?  Even if there was strange gooey - sticky bits on the victim's lips or ew.. The dreaded cold sore?

Good news!  There is a mouth free CPR method, actually it's called the hands only, but since it exists largely for the lip squeamish, I prefer mouth free.  it's also simple and You can learn it right away.

But before I continue a word from my lawyer.

Daniel is not a medical doctor nor practitioner, and although he has stayed at one, possibly two Holiday Inn Express hotels, his advice is provided only for amusement and entertainment purposes.  Yes, Janine, 37 years ago when he suggested that you pretend to be a nurse and he would be the doctor, it was all an act.  For you and all other readers, if you need actual medical advice, please see an actual medical practitioner.

Okay.. Finished?  On with the unsolicited advice.

The mouth free CPR method works like this.  And btw, this is a stripped down concise guide, and while the CPR guides have 8 or so steps, I believe that keeping it very simple will help you provide help.

Find a victim.  If one cannot be located, choking a passerby may help.  If they resist, explain that it's all for science and you are attempting to help them.

Attempt to wake the victim.  If they are not breathing of gasping for breath, call 911 or better, recruit a bystander to call 911 and stay by your side.  If you have no phones available, send someone to call 911 and report back to you.

Tilt the victim's head back and chin up, this will open the airway.  This step is absent from the 2010 hands only method published, but do it anyway.  Start chest compressions.  Forget about finding the bottom of the sternum and measuring up three fingers.  Just place the palm of your hand on the sternum directly between and inline with the nipples.  Place your other hand over your first with your fingers interleaved.

Now push down at least 2 inches. Release and let the chest rise.  Repeat.  The rate is about 100 per minute.  About 25 down/ups in 15 seconds.  Keep doing this until the victim wakes up or help arrives.  If you hear or feel a rib break or move, keep going.  Broken ribs are a good trade for being alive.

Simple.  And no lip locking and no sharing the sticky bits.

Have a good day. 

Thursday 24 July 2014

Working in Ottawa today --Stop the presses!

Follow up, today in The Toronto Star


Stop the presses!

I had punched out a Pulp this morning, effectively just phoning it in and settled back into my seat to read the rest of the newspaper.

When on page S6 of the Globe and Mail I saw a photo of Ben Etkin.   Ben passed away recently at the good long life age of 96 and was the father of my friend of 25 years or so, Dave.

The photo is accompanied by not only an account of Ben's accomplishments over the years, Order of Canada, Dean of Engineering at U of T, 11 or so patents, too many published papers to count, but also his team's involvement in helping bring back Apollo 13 back in April 1970.

NASA and the Apollo 13 manufacturer, Grumman, contacted Ben and his team to determine and calculate the method and forces required to jettison the lunar module from the command module just prior to re-entry.

A number of years ago Ben recounted that day and the tasks assigned to he and his team to me, and at the time he downplayed his team's role, as one team among many that were working out how to jettison the module as well as calculate the burn rate of the main engine.

What I read today is that it turns out that Ben's team was the only one.

Too bad that wasn't in the movie :)

Have a great day, check all of your numbers twice.

Thursday 17 July 2014

Working in Montréal today --Dopamine and why your dog ate your homework

Good morning folks,

As promised, I will be working in Montréal today.  Shout out to Kim, likely won't be in this morning bright and early, I know she was making DNS changes late last night for some converting hosting customers.  Although she may surprise me and be sitting at her desk when I do my 11th floor tour.

This morning I saw an article on procrastination from the University of Colorado at Boulder that looked interesting, but I figured there was time to read it later.


That's right kids, another episode of 'You and your Brain'.

Ever wonder why you put things off like going to bed, even though it's 3/4 past midnight and you have to get up at 6 AM for a flight to Montréal but these Financials look so damned interesting? 

um..  Uncle Daniel, aren't Financials so boring, they are the things that the snore sounds are made of?   Yes, they are, and please don't end sentences with prepositions.

Or how about in Psych class when that lab work on the Efficacy of Physical Torture on Mitigating Feelings of Resentment in Persons Suffering Delusions of Persecution was due, you still continued to play Donkey Kong?  (And No, surprisingly, it is not very effective).

The reason we put things off is due to the way that our Prefrontal Cortex processes information and the effects of dopamine on our brains.  When we do enjoyable things, we get a small doses of dopamine run through our brain, not only giving us a feel good feeling, but it actually changes the neuron connections making the behaviour more likely to be repeated.

When we allow our decision making process to run on auto-pilot, we allow it to make decisions that may not be in our best long term benefit.  When we consciously examine the information, time constraints, sleep requirements, consequences of our decisions, then we still may procrastinate, but have then really no one to blame but ourselves.  Although many have blamed their dog for eating their homework.

I did read enough of the article to see that the researchers suggested that persons that procrastinate may be predisposed to also be impulsive and distracted by things --Squirrel!

Hmmmm?  Oh yes, but I suggest that the problem may be often related to time perception that doesn't quite jive with reality, that is, often it may seem like there is an abundance time available for all tasks, bit there simply is not.

Either way, I read the Financials wrote a reply but did not send (I write many emails that I do not send, it's very cathartic), posted my submissions for a management meeting today, wrote an email to a customer, one to a supplier, one to a staff member, got some sleep, and here I am.

Although prior to finishing this last sentence was distracted by the checkered shirt worn by the guy in 1C, it reminded me of a tablecloth we had when I was a kid. That or the seat cover my neighbour had on his '73 Vega.

Ok, Pulp is done.

Have a great day.  Now go finish that report.

Wednesday 16 July 2014

Working in Ottawa today --I'll keep an ear out for you

Good morning folks,

I will be working in Ottawa today.  Montréal tomorrow and Toronto on Friday.

You may consider today's Pulp as a bonus edition, and I ask you to judge its thinness by that measure.

Today while on my way to the airport, the gal on the radio mentioned something about travel tips and should I be listening to the radio later in the hour I could hear them.

I won't be, so I can't.

Now what did occur to me is that I don't need to hear the broadcast as at a very basic level, all travel tips are exactly the same.  So I wondered, is there some travel or driving tip that has a high probability of never being uttered before?

I came up with one.  Often I have observed other drivers performing personal grooming tasks whilst in their driver's seat, you have surely observed as well.

The lipstick and eyeshadow gal in the next lane, the guy shaving with the cigarette adapter powered electric razor in the express lane of the 401.

Hey Varouj, it was that Andrew guy that used to perform Smart1 work for you in the 90's shaving.

All of these dangerous, yes.  From a pay attention to the road perspective.  From a personal injury.. meh.  Probably won't lose an eye from a lipstick smear if she clipped the bumper of the car ahead.

But it occurred to me that the most dangerous personal grooming activity my result in deafness or even a brain injury...

Never clean your ears with a Q-Tip while driving.

I am reasonable certain that if you examine the box of Q-Tips that you will not see a warning, "Do not use while driving or operating heavy machinery." and I ask, Why not?  Do the product liability folks at Q-Tip simply not care?  This dangerous practice must stop, and that stopping starts here.

Yes, grammatically that seemed awkward, but nonetheless, it remains.

Please pass this public service announcement forward.  The hearing you save could be a loved one's.

Have a great day.  

Wednesday 9 July 2014

Working in Edmonton --Sitting, the new smoking

Good morning folks,

I will be working in Edmonton for the next few days and then will bounce off Kelowna on the way back and build and then destroy some Lego towers with my Grandson Ethan.

Oh, shout out to Diego in porting, nice seeing you in Pearson

So after a few weeks without writing anything at all Uncle Daniel, what have you got for us

Well, I have something... Sitting, the new Smoking!

Eh?  Yes.  I first heard this from Jon, son of David, I think he said, "Sitting is the new smoking" -- you didn't expect him to have said something different than the tag line did you?

Off I went to prove or disprove the statement.  I found 2 studies (one Aussie and one U.S.) and numerous articles all linking a sedentary lifestyle with heart disease, disability, increased susceptibility to cancer and diabetes

According to Mayo Clinic endocrinologist Dr. James Levine, spending more than 6 hours a day sitting increases blood pressure and places you at a greater risk for heart disease, diabetes, obesity, depression, and some types of cancer (colon, lung and womb cancer).

The Aussie study tied the sedentary activity (or lack thereof) to socioeconomic factors which effectively placed those lower on the food chain more susceptible to the risks.  The U.S. study showed a 46% greater chance of disability in daily activity for each hour per day spent in sedentary activity.

So what are we to do?  For many of us we sit at our desks plugging away over a keyboard for hours on end, and then sit through endless meetings pouring over the minutia of business life.  The answer is stand up.   Really. Stand up.  Tilt your monitor up, stretch out the phone cord, stretch your legs.

Have a meeting?  Go to the next floor rather than phoning and how about walking meetings instead of over coffee?  The increased circulation and fresh air will make the thoughts clearer too.  And when you are at home at the end of the day?  Walk.  Ride your bike, do some gardening.

Have a great day.  Don't just sit there.

Wednesday 18 June 2014

Working in Montréal --Top 10 Canadians

Good morning folks,

It will be working in Montréal today and tomorrow.

The list is out!

The list of Canada's greatest Canadians has been compiled over the last 6 months or so from online entries by Canadians.   This is leading up to Canada's 150th birthday in 2017.  Incidentally that will be my 50th year in Canada, having moved here in Canada's Centennial year 1967.  Yes, Uncle Daniel is an immigrant.

Interesting enough, the list of top 10 Canadians by this online list popularity contains but one Conservative.  Sir John A Macdonald, Canada's first PM squeaking in at 8th place.  I would like to jump up on a soapbox and point out that if the list is any indication Canadian value the accomplishments of the more left side of the Canadian spectrum, but the list was also devoid of women.


That's right, no Roberta Bondar, taking STS-42 into orbit as Canada's first woman in space, also no Hockey legend Angela James and also no Daily Show correspondent Samantha Bee although I am sure that Avril placed well.

Without further ado, here is the top 10:

Pierre Trudeau
Terry Fox
Tommy Douglas
Lester B. Pearson
Chris Hadfield
David Suzuki
Jack Layton
Sir John A Macdonald
Wayne Gretzki
Romeo Dallaire

The online survey also compiled a list of notable Canadian accomplishments

Medicare was number one, then
1982 Charter of Rights and Freedoms
Contributions to the Second World War
The Canadarm (The space arm to those U.S. Readers)
Contributions to the First World War
Bilingualism (oui!)
Space Exploration
The Constitution Act of 1982

Sadly, no Red Rose Tea, SONAR, Insulin, Telephone or Standardized Time.

Have a great day, embrace your Canadianism.