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Another blog, this time with feeling

Monday, July 30th, 2012 Leave a comment

For my poetry, which I create at random, I’ve created a new blog.  Drop by if you like.

Categories: Musings

A study in duality

Saturday, April 30th, 2011 Leave a comment

Jill Bolte Taylor’s stroke of insight.  For those who don’t embrace spirituality, Jill’s right-brain experience provides an alternate explanation.

Vulnerability – the follow up video

Thursday, April 21st, 2011 3 comments

Further to Brené Brown‘s exploration of vulnerability, as with many theories I was left wondering how her theory could be applied in everyday life.  I wanted the 18 minute how-to video.  But I know that this next video is one we each shoot for ourselves.

So what’s mine look like?

As a first step, I distilled her theory down to its essence (as I saw it through my lens).   (It’s best to ensure you’ve watched the video to flesh out this summary).

Our influences

  • Desire for connection: that’s why we are here
  • We’re taught if we can’t measure something, it doesn’t exist, invalidating intangibles
  • The shame we experience is based in fear of disconnection: that we’re never good enough; “Who do you think you are?”

Our strategies

To try and avoid shame:

  • We blame others, bad luck, fate, etc.: this a way to discharge pain and discomfort
  • We numb out vulnerability: (but we cannot be selective about emotions, so we numb joy, gratitude, happiness)
  • We try to make everything that is uncertain, certain
  • We strive for perfection, and we try to make our children perfect
  • We pretend that what we do doesn’t have an impact

Of course these strategies actually result in disconnection.  To connect, we have to allow ourselves to be seen, to be vulnerable.   Those people willing to do so Brown calls, “wholehearted,” asserting that these people feel worthwhile solely because they believe they are worthwhile.

So these wholehearted people who believe they are worthy, and as a result they feel worthy:

  • Have courage; they tell the story of who they are with their whole heart: they have the courage to be imperfect
  • Let themselves be seen, love with their whole hearts even though there is no guarantee of return, practice gratitude and joy, believe that they’re enough
  • Recognize that connection is a result of authenticity; they let go of who they think they should be, to be who they are
  • Have compassion: they are kind to themselves first, only then can they be kind to others
  • Are willing to take emotional risks, are vulnerable, they let go of controlling
  • Teach their children that they are worthy

As a next step, I created affirmations for the key points:

  • I am worthy
  • I tell the story of who I am with my whole heart
  • I have the courage to be seen as imperfect
  • I let myself be seen
  • I love with my whole heart
  • I am grateful
  • I practice joy
  • I am enough
  • I let go of who I think I should be, to be who I am
  • I am compassionate to myself
  • I am compassionate to others
  • I am willing to be vulnerable
  • I let go of controlling
  • I teach my children that they are worthy

To these I add some other affirmations that are meaningful to me.

Finally, as I go through my day, when I catch myself blaming, resenting, ruminating, shaming, etc., I stop myself, and see which of these affirmations come up for me.

Film at 11.

Vulnerability and Worthiness

Saturday, April 16th, 2011 4 comments

Brené Brown‘s thesis is an eloquent, concise summary of a core issue (worthiness) for many people.

Oprah in her last network show also pointed out worthiness as the single common issue among all of her guests: “The show has taught me there is a common thread that runs through all of our pain and all of our suffering, and that is unworthiness … I’ve talked to nearly 30,000 people on this show, and all 30,000 had one thing in common: They all wanted validation … Try it with your children, your husband, your wife, your boss, your friends. Validate them. ‘I see you. I hear you. And what you say matters to me.’”

Read more on Oprah’s site.

What (not) to do in an Earthquake

Saturday, April 2nd, 2011 Leave a comment

In this post I outlined sources of information to use for guidance in preparing for, and responding to, an earthquake.   It appears that some misguided information is also finding its way around the internet once again: the Triangle of Life promoted by Doug Copp.   It may apply in some third world countries, but guidance in North America still says to drop, cover and hold on.  Follow these links to learn more:

The problem here is not Doug Copp, it’s folks who do not take the time to verify the validity of information.  Google makes this easy now, and a simple search will quickly give you guidance as to whether the information is credible.  So the rule is: don’t pass on any advice on any life/safety issue unless you’ve verified it with a couple of credible websites, or it comes directly from someone who you know personally is an expert.

As an aside, I was surprised to see people standing around or running out of buildings in videos of the recent Japanese earthquake.  That’s the wrong thing to do, and in any case don’t think you’ll have that much mobility.   The earthquake was well offshore and the ground shaking in Tokyo (where much of the video was from) was much LESS than we might experience.  You may not be able to walk or even stand.  Most injuries occur (according to the American Red Cross statement above) when people try to run out of a building: stepping on broken glass, being thrown about or falling down stairs.

This article shows that Tokyo was subject to ground accelerations peaking at 0.16 g (VII on the USGS scale).    To put this in perspective severe ground shaking (X+) was recorded of up to 2.7g in Miyagi prefecture, more than 15 times higher.  A human would be thrown about like a ragdoll at such accelerations.  Unless they had dropped, covered and held on.  Tight.

Could it happen here?

Saturday, March 26th, 2011 Leave a comment

Coastal British Columbia is in an active earthquake zone, and recent events have raised awareness of the risks.  Although in Victoria and Vancouver we are largely protected from Pacific Ocean tsunamis, a damaging tsunami from a near-shore earthquake may occur, and it’s worth restating that your best protection is to be prepared and know how to respond.  In BC, the organization ultimately responsible for your safety is your Local Authority (municipality, district or First Nation) so contact them with any questions, and lots of useful information can be found at the Provincial Emergency Program site, with particular attention to their Earthquake Preparedness and Tsunami Preparedness documents.

The Silly Season

Saturday, November 14th, 2009 1 comment

Between poorly managed 2010 Olympic protests and H1N1/vaccine hysteria there’s a lot going on these days. Add to that even more buzz recently (maybe because of the movie?) on the impending doom of 2012.

Here’s a differing view on the calamity.

Compassion

Saturday, November 14th, 2009 Leave a comment

Jane Goodall on the Daily Show commenting on extremism, “That’s really what’s wrong with the world right now…whether it’s on the left or the right, it’s the fundamentalists.” Well said.

Full clip links below.

Watch in Canada

Watch Elsewhere

Categories: Learning, Musings, Politics

Two years of blogging

Friday, January 18th, 2008 Leave a comment

I started blogging January 8, 2006.  At that time blogging had been around for years, and I felt quite late on the bandwagon.  WordPress had over 250,000 blogs alone.  I was unclear when I started what I wanted to get out of it, but I enjoy writing and sharing and it seemed a good way to do that.  In time this blog became mostly about Microsoft Flight Simulator development, but other topics sneak in from time to time.

Now WordPress has over 2.1 million blogs, and I range between 10,000-20,000 views a month.  Modest by the standards of the big blogs, but encouraging to think that many of those visitors are finding something useful.

So, if you’re thinking about blogging, any time is a good time to start.  I do recommend against worrying about posting just to keep people reading.  I post when I feel moved to, which may leave gaps at times, but I think that’s harmless.  It should feel like fun, not an obligation.

Categories: Musings

How not to catch a thief

Saturday, December 22nd, 2007 2 comments

In Canada, if you buy a blank CD, it is presumed that you are going to steal music.  A levy of 21 cents is added to every blank CD purchased and 24 cents for every blank cassette more than 40 minutes in length.  These funds are distributed to the music industry.

Proposed legislation will compound this: the Canadian Private Copying Collective, a non-profit agency created by the music industry wants to collect up to $75 for each MP3 player sold, and 29 cents for every blank CD and Mini disc.  Futher all memory sticks would be tariffed, up to $10 per card.  Details here.  Looking at the financial report, the motivation may be the drop in revenue from CD tariffs since 2004, probably the result of the use of alternative media.   It’d be interesting to see how these revenue numbers might jump with the proposed tariffs.

Canadian music industry proponents would argue the funds will go towards fostering Canadian artists and music.  Futher artists don’t have the protection against file sharing that they do in the US: we have no equivalent to the Digital Millenium Act. 

Personally I purchase all music (and software) I download or copy.  So the presumption that I am stealing music and must be penalized is at best disappointing, at worst, theft.  I want my support of Canadian artists to be by choice, not legislation.  It makes a lot more sense to me to modify our copyright laws to protect against people who steal music, than to penalize all music lovers.  How this legislation will deter thieves is not clear.  You can contact your Member of Parliament if you agree.

Categories: Music, Musings, Technical

Getting angry about false positives

Tuesday, September 4th, 2007 Leave a comment

Sometimes I’m baffled that seemingly minor annoyances trigger a lot of anger and frustration.   Example: I’ve had four instances recently where over-zealous anti-spam systems have blocked legitimate communication.  My frustration has two sources: 1. That somebody thought it acceptable to have false positives in a spam-screening system, and 2. That, in most cases, attempts to feedback my concerns were met with a wall of irresponsibility.

In one example www.USA.NET customer support said that the fact they bounce messages from www.shaw.ca (with 2 million subscribers) was out of their control as it was the responsibility of www.mail-abuse.com.  No, USA.NET, you have chosen to use a service that is not reliable.  And you’ve stated your irresponsibility by blaming others for your own actions.  Customer support at shaw.ca was disinterested, and did not want the data they’d need to request their offending IP address be removed.  The fingers point in circles.

Another example is just as silly.  A company was doing it’s own screening using a variety of sources, and http://www.au.sorbs.net/ was blocking www.shaw.ca.  Fortunately a friend was an Executive with that company, and at my request they simply dropped using that site.  The explanation by SORBS of their service claims “a false positive rate so small that it usually does not register.”  Hmm, well this one registered.

The third example I’ll keep confidential but was caused by overenthusiastic list management.

The fourth example is a good news story.  My ISP (www.server101.com) blocked a legit IP address.  I complained, they responded quickly, and were good enough to turn off all their filtering for my email addresses.  This is not a service they publicly advertised, but did this on request.  As a result I get many spam messages daily on a dozen email aliases.  And hitting “Delete” is indeed trivial.

With the reality of creative and fast-moving spammers, I understand it must be very frustrating to have users clamour for no spam.  Undoubtedly folks at anti-spam sites like mail-abuse and SORBS work very hard to clean up email for users.  And here’s my message to ISPs: it’s trivial for users to hit delete, it’s a PITA to have legit messages rejected.  The acceptable false-positive level is zero.  That’s 0.0.  Ask yourself:  are you addicted to a game of oneupmanship with the spammers, or attempting to serve users?  My message to you: DO NOT BLOCK LEGIT IPs!

The root cause is that foolish 5% of Internet users that buy products from spam messages.  Those users keep the spammers sending their junk.  But in this case the cure is worse than the disease.   So it makes sense that I’m angry that  my communication is impeded by overzealous individuals.  I’m no longer baffled. ;)

Categories: Musings, Technical

TV thoughts

Monday, July 16th, 2007 1 comment
  • Like watching FIFA U-20 games on TV, especially as a bunch were only 1km away at Royal Athletic Park, and I could hear the cheers and chants.
  • Dislike players in FIFA U-20 faking injuries, makes the game look shoddy: if organizers are serious about soccer/football ever being a major sport in North America, that mamby-pamby’s gotta go.  Why is this tolerated anywhere?
  • Like the supportive, professional atmosphere of “So You Think You Can Dance”.
  • Dislike the focus on shaming/humilation/ridicule that is a cornerstone of “American Idol”.  The Canadian version is much more positive for some reason, but still has some of the silly elements.
Categories: Musings

Sustainability

Thursday, March 8th, 2007 Leave a comment

At a meeting of Organizational Development professionals the other day, Michael Keller kindly led us through a process called Freelisting, using the term “Sustainability” as the seed term.   Learning about the process was fascinating, and the session brought up varied issues for people.   I was reminded how strongly I feel that (a) sustainability is an important concept to many people, (b) the anger many people feel towards the damage we are inflicting on our planet is misdirected and (c) how the divergent forces have the potential to lead to a better life for everyone.  

Periodically a large meteor strikes the Earth, the last being the Chicxulub Impact of 65 million years ago.  This impact is estimated to have released two hundred thousand times as much energy as all the nuclear weapons on the earth simultaneously exploding, and air pollution on a scale thousands of times greater than what we are producing.  The majority of the Earth’s species were wiped out.  

And these events pale in comparison to the creation of Earth and its ultimate destruction as the Sun ages and expands.   

So if you believe there is a higher power, or Creator or God, I suspect he/she does not believe we are destroying the Earth; rather it is our playground, our school, our home.  We can no more destroy the earth than we can destroy a thought.  The Earth does not need us as stewards; it will continue with or without us, regardless of what we do.  The most we could do is alter it in ways that are trivial compared to the transformations it has seen in the past and will see in the future.   

The Earth provides a microcosm in which we can learn to manage our resources and maximize our quality of life.  We have the option of making life quite miserable for ourselves, or improving it dramatically.  But it’s not the earth we’re saving against some demonic external force.   It’s not short-sighted politicians, or greedy capitalists or intolerant environmentalists that are these demons.  

If anger comes up when you think about the environment, are you aware of who you are really angry with?  Who are you really saving?   

What are you personally doing to improve the quality of life on this planet that does not blame others, but focuses on personal responsibility and action?    

References 

Carnegie Endownment for International Peace
http://www.ceip.org/files/nonprolif/numbers/default.asp
Total world stockpile of nuclear weapons: 5,000 Megatons  

University of Wisconsin – Stout, Department of Physics.
http://physics.uwstout.edu/geo/asteroid_local.htm
Energy released by meteor that killed the dinosaurs:  5×1024 J (or about the energy equivalent in 80 billion Hiroshima size (12.5 kiloton) bombs   

American Geophysical Union
http://www.agu.org/sci_soc/sharpton.html
More on the Chicxulub Impact  

John C. Lahr Consulting
http://jclahr.com/alaska/aeic/magnitude/energy.txt
Comparison of earthquake energy to nuclear explosion energy.J.C. Lahr, Revised 8/28/00   

Ending the blogging year

Sunday, December 31st, 2006 Leave a comment

I started this blog in January of this year with the intention of sharing some thoughts and keeping folks up to date on flight simulation software development (mine and others) for Microsoft Flight Simulator, and as a soapbox for the occasional technical or philosophical musing.  I’m content the blog has served its purpose, with over 38,000 views in the last three months.  For fleeting moments, this blog has crept as high as 12th in the WordPress list of most popular blogs (out of several hundred thousand), and I appreciate that you’ve taken the time to drop by.

In the flightsim world, we’ve seen the release of FSX, and with my collaborators we’ve released new versions of Vancouver+ and Victoria+.  I’ve been delighted to work with such dedicated folks as Francois Dumas, Holger Sandmann, Bill Womack, and a host of others.  These folks have supplied photos, provided data, beta tested, co-developed, taken to the time to point out areas for improvement, and provided appreciation.  And of course thanks to the ACES at Microsoft who have created the sandbox in which we play.

I wish you a New Year in which your expectations are exceeded; may your life be rich and full.

Silly fun

Sunday, June 11th, 2006 Leave a comment

I joined a bunch of folks from the Gettin' Higher Choir today for a goofy game of softball. Initially there weren't enough people for two teams, so we rotated positions, with batters going to first base and back. A few people even had gloves. More people came, but the rotation game persisted, although how we rotated was constantly changing. Some passersby joined the chaos and we played for 2-1/2 hours or so. Great to see people I haven't seen in a while. Many thanks to Bill Hanson for organizing.

Great fun, a reminder that I met my wife at the same choir event in 2000. That was a fun day, too.

Categories: Musings

Integrity

Wednesday, March 8th, 2006 Leave a comment

The government of British Columbia recently sold some old surplus computer tapes, unfortunately without erasing them first.  So a lot of private data on citizens was still on the tapes.  Read here one of the reports on this.  This is quite the screw-up, but I also was amazed that the press apparently chose to examine the tapes in detail, and publish confidential information, although they didn’t reveal names.  I responded to the media chain with the following letter:

It is disturbing that the Provincial Government does not have in place safeguards to ensure that personal information is kept confidential.  I hope this breach will be fixed immediately so it cannot occur again, and the individuals responsible are held accountable.

And there appears to be a further violation: a lack of respect and integrity shown by CanWest, and possibly the tape buyer.  Someone has gone through this private information in detail.  Worse, reporters are choosing to write about (and editors choosing to print) confidential information protected under the Personal Information and Privacy Act.  CanWest publications have said, “Due to the sensitive nature of the information, [this paper] will not identify any people named in the files on the tapes,” as if this is a statement of integrity.  I think not.

Some questions arise: Have copies been made of this information?  How many people are looking at it?  Did the buyer get paid by CanWest for data he didn’t own?  (He bought the media from the government, not the data.)

I understand that the buyer wanted to ensure the government was held accountable; hopefully that was the motivation for sending the information to a third party.  However this could have been done by contacting the police, a lawyer or the privacy commissioner, without examining the information in detail.

I believe the hidden story here is the potentially illegal use of private information shown by the press, and I hope Mr. Loukidelis’s office will be thoroughly investigating this as well.

Mitak’Oyas’In

Monday, February 20th, 2006 Leave a comment

I was saddened to see a comedian on the Aboriginal People’s Television Network ridicule white people wanting to take part in First Nation ceremonies, labelling them as “wannabees” who wished they had a native heritage.

I was saddened for two reasons.

1. Racial slurs are seen as ok by some, when directed at white people.  To me this reflects an unfortunate discrimination.

2. I was saddened that it bothered me.  Perhaps it was the sincerity of the sarcasm that I sensed from the speaker, but I’d prefer that I could take it as humour and take or leave it on that merit.

I was blessed to be taught once upon a time by a First Nations elder that he believed the Creator intended that white and red and black and yellow and all cultures take the best from each other.  I believe that pride in ancestory, when it assumes or implies a superiority over others, is divisive and unconstructive.  DNA testing has shown we are all something like 99.95% identical, and perhaps all our ancestors are in common as little as 20-40,000 years ago. 

We are all related.

Does intrusive marketing work?

Saturday, February 18th, 2006 1 comment

Here’s a shocker:  McAfee installing spam pop-ups on a machine: http://ricksegal.typepad.com/pmv/2006/02/mcafee_how_to_d.html

I got a call from a CIBC Visa telemarketer at 8 AM this Saturday with an inquiry about some promotion that was irrelevant to me.  They asked if I had received a Christmas promotional CD as this was only sent to a few customers.  Evidentally they don’t keep records of their junk mailings and want the customers to do their job for them.  CIBC is the same company that inserted a nag screen (promotional junk) on my online account that I had to acknowledge prior to allowing me access to my account.  I yelled at them about that and it vanished.

And my alma mater, without my permission, gave my supposedly confidential contact information to a credit card company so they could fire aggressive telemarketers at me. 

But does this kind of intrusive marketing really work?  Certainly it completely turns me off an organization (as it apparently did Rick Segal), and if it repeats after a complaint I terminate the service.  But am I just intolerant?  Do organizations actually earn extra business by abusing (IMO) their customer relationship in this way?

Categories: Business, Musings

Honesty and perspective

Tuesday, February 14th, 2006 2 comments

Unfortunately here in British Columbia we have made a decision that vehicle driving skills are less important than the risk of injury and damage in an accident: the driver’s test is trivial and there is no mandatory retesting until a very advanced age, and then I believe only every five years.  Enforcement is sporadic.  Here in Victoria, as well as the run of the mill “bad” drivers, as a retirement haven we also have a large elderly population driving, many of whom should no longer be on the road.

And a couple of such old folks backed into my car, wrecking one car door, while I was off for a walk.  It’s the fifth time in two years a local driver has banged into my car when parked and then left the scene, although the others were mostly quite minor.  The good news: two witnesses took the time to provide details on what they saw (vehicle description, license, etc.) and provided that info.  It’s a criminal offence to leave the scene of an accident, with up to two years in jail.  So those folks are in quite a bit of trouble.

I’m grateful to those good folks who took the time to get involved.  I think most people have such good intentions.  And most people I’ll bet consider themselves “good” drivers while very few are driving defensively, with attention and focus, anticipating and reacting to keep them and others safe.  It seems skewed that so many parents are concerned with issues like their children being kidnapped by a stranger (which I understand is a very rare occurance in Canada), yet are nonchalant about the far higher risk they expose their children to every time they put them in the car and chat on a cel phone.

On the other hand, if driving tests were truly designed to ensure driver competence, I suspect that many, many people would not be able to get a license.  That would have a significant social and economic impact which, as a society, we’ve decided is more important than the damage, injury and deaths that occur.

So I suspect that the status quo will remain: folks will blame “dangerous” roads (I’ve yet to hear of a road actively attacking anyone), the “other guy”, cars that “came out of no-where” and the weather.

Categories: Musings

Media-free

Sunday, February 12th, 2006 1 comment

There are times in my life when I’ve gone for years at a time without picking up a newspaper or watching TV news.  I’ve found it refreshing, and kind of fun to catch up a bit when I connect again.  The last few years I’ve been watching the news, reading the paper, etc., and can only conclude that it’s morbid fascination that brings me back.  This latest phase of news-watching started after 9/11 and I feel no wiser for most of what I’ve read or heard.  I do often feel angry at what I hear, which reflects my frustration at feeling challenged in my belief that as a society we are improving and progressing.  And subscribing to specific newsfeeds, be they technical or focused on other areas of interest, can bring me the info I really want.  Watching historical documentaries, given the passage of enough time, is cool.  That time seems to allow for perspective and something possibly closer to reality.

IMHO, what we see and read is heavily filtered, not by some great conspiracy, but by the natural biases and limited perspective that any reporter will have in real-time reporting.  When I’ve personally experienced politics or business or native community or whatever, the conclusions I reached were vastly different than those of the media, and what I’d read or seen on TV was of little relevance.  So I think media watching is of more value as entertainment, or as fodder for conversation than of true understanding.

It seems like I’m telling myself it’s time to turn it off again.  Time to chill.

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