Weekly Recap

Scooter Fail 2013 is the story of the week for me.

My scooter began to show power issues in December. It started with reversing. I’d pull back the throttle and it would pause before starting. Or it would move slower. Or while reversing the speed would vary. It became more serious and began to impact forward as well.

Rob came and filled the tires. The symptoms went away and the scooter behaved almost like new. I still felt it lacked a bit of oomph at first, but after a mall trip, I was once again confident it was in good shape.

But last week, the symptoms came back while reversing. And they quickly became much worse. Instead of a slow worsening the issue became quickly bad. I found that going backwards barely happened. I’d pull the throttle and a second or two would pass before movement and that would happen at a crawl.

On Wednesday, it was bad. I was home after work and moving to park. I needed to move back four feet. My scooter didn’t move at all. I turned it on and off. I pulled the throttle with vigour and then gently. I spoke nicely to it and derided it with curses. I rocked back and forth and tried to use my feet to propel it. It took about five minutes, but I was able to coax it into place.

I have theories. One wheel doesn’t touch the ground anymore. That could be making it work harder. The issue seems worse after driving in snow. Maybe water is getting in somewhere. The issue is certainly worse when the battery is weaker. But is is much different than when my battery died last year. In that case the battery charge indicator went down. It still shows fully charged here. And the behaviour was consistent. It effected forwards and backwards equally and gradually worsened during the day. The current behaviour gets worse during the day but in a single trip can improve and get better several times.

Thursday I called for service. I went to the service depot voice mail. The VM message said, “please don’t leave multiple messages. We will get back to you.” They still haven’t. Not Thursday, not Friday, not today. I called a second time Thursday, but got the VM again.

The bad service company is Eco Medical. This is the second time I’ve had the same experience with them. The previous time was trying to get my walker fixed three months ago. They still haven’t returned that call either. I heartily recommend bringing your business elsewhere.

On Friday I called another company. They made an appointment and came this morning. But I still don’t have an ETA for its fix, a cost or even a diagnosis.

I took Thursday as a holiday and I worked from home on Friday and today. I hate working from home. I’m quite ready to be somewhere else now.

Friday night was gaming and so was Saturday night. Saturday was especially cool. I went out! Silvestris gave me garage to garage service and Dave did some extra heavy lifting. Thank you!

The games were good. I lost of course. The company was excellent.

That was the week.

Don’t watch Downton Abbey from yesterday. It was sad.

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Quick discussion

The other day I posted this cartoon to twitter. A buddy responded. I think it is interesting to see the wildly divergent paths we come at the cartoon.

Me: I have no clue http://xkcd.com/1163

I found the cartoon funny because of the juxtaposition of the brain and a computer system.

I found it interesting because in my experience the human brain really sucks at self-diagnosis. If you cut yourself there is pain. If you have the flu, there are sweats, nausea and aches. But if you have a mental illness one of the first things to go is your ability to know you are ill.

Not even a serious illness. Alcohol, sleep deprivation, and stress all have the same effect. Your body might tell you you are drunk, tired or stressed, but you’ll often still trust your judgement even though you should know it is flawed.

Those are trivial cases though. I’ve met and talked with families where a family member has severe anorexia. Even when presented with evidence that their habits are damaging their health – perhaps permanently – they can’t make the jump to their needing to change the behaviour. It is one of the biggest worries of the family. They can’t trust the anorexic. And the anorexic doesn’t see that their behaviour is abnormal.

The punch line of the joke is “I don’t know how to tell. “. I think it would have been awesome to know when my brain is malfunctioning.

Him: It’s called faith… you don’t have to understand everything to know something is there and working

It took me a while to figure out where he was coming from. It is such a different response to the same cartoon. And with only 144 characters there was no way to relate what I had seen there.

Obviously from my POV I disagree with the statement above. If my brain isn’t working, I might think it is fine. Faith or no faith I am misreporting to myself my own state.

On the other hand I also agree with the statement above. There are 180 degrees in a triangle whether I know it or not. The world will spin and rotate around the sun regardless of my knowledge of gravity. And directly to faith, God will love us whether I understand God or not.

Additionally even if I dedicate myself to math, physics, theology or psychology/psychiatry there will be a level beyond which I still don’t understand. At some point we will need faith.

Me: πŸ™‚ that is a very serious answer to a joke. Beyond the scope of twitter to respond to.

Twitter. I saw absolutely no way to respond to my friend’s statement without sounding argumentative. But I can’t just let things go.

Me: but try this – my faith asserts that it must be supported by reason. So trying to know is still important

My attempt here is to move to faith and reason. Then I would show how reason can be flawed. Then I could loop back to the brain not being a reliable self-assessor. All without actually disagreeing.

But still this point is critical to my own identity. I can accept that I need faith. But I always have to try to understand why. It is the way I’m built.

My Mom told a story this week. When I was young – three or four – we went to visit grandma. I found a screwdriver and used it. I disassembled drawers, clocks, and cupboards. Anything I could reach. I wanted to see the springs and hinges and figure out what the did. I guess Grandma was a bit annoyed as the house needed to be put back together behind me.

I’ve done a whole blog about faith and reason in the past. But suffice it to say that even considering my own biases, I think we are called by God to try to understand as much as we can.

Him: heard this somewhere this weekend πŸ™‚ “I can’t see sub-atomic particles, but I believe they are there”.

And here I gave up. πŸ™‚ this conversation wasn’t going to follow the path I wanted. We were still coming at it from a different angles.

Plus I also had the issue that I do disagree with this statement. It was made by our parish priest during his sermon that week. I disagreed with it when it was said and I still do.

Not the argument which is a still a call to the importance of faith, but the actual statement that sub atomic particles are there.

Protons, neutrons and electrons. I’m confident they exist. The circumstantial evidence is too strong. All chemistry and thermodynamics depend on them and if they aren’t there we have an issue.

But the next level down – the particles of the standard quantum model. Quarks, leptons, gauge bosons – everything is different here. And the standard model is not yet conclusively proven. Evidence and experimentation are getting closer but aren’t there yet. For instance we only proved the existence of the Higgs boson in the last year. And it still isn’t positive that it is only a ingle particle. (Although starting to look pretty sure). That there is something there? Yep. I’m down with that. What those something’s are? I figure it is still our responsibility to question that.

On the other hand, I’m not the one conducting the experiments. I’m not even analyzing the results. I just read some of the commentary on those results. So even here I’m taking a lot on faith.

Me: touchΓ©! πŸ™‚ there’s a whole blog here

And thus we see a blog!
.

Stuck home

My scooter is broken and there is no fix on the horizon. Big things are happening in the news. The Premier will likely be on tv before I finish writing this. I’ve had two nifty conversations with Dave lately I want to blog about. But I have to enthusiasm for any of that.

So you get a list of board games I wish to purchase.

*signifies no North American release yet.

  1. Eminent Domain – an older game in the Dominion vein. I’m not sure I really want this.
  2. *Robinson Crusoe – this looks really cool. A coop game that seems unlike the Pandemic mold.
  3. Myrmes – worker placement. A little heavier. Beautiful board. It is about ants.
  4. *Terra Mystica – I got lazy and didn’t sort this list. If I did this game would be at the top. Neat theme. Different role powers. It looks really cool.
  5. Eclipse expansion – I don’t really want this either. It just looks cool. My hesitance is that with only two plays there is a lot of original game space yet to explore.
  6. Innovation expansions – I just love the idea of this game. My gameplay though – I get whooped each time I play.
  7. *Tkzolk’in – cool. Just cool. I’m not sure how it will play, but the mechanics are just cool.
  8. Mice and Mystics – I like the theme. But I’m pretty iffy on the game.
  9. Castles of Burgundy – a new Feld design. I really like Year of the Dragon. Like Eclipse though, I think I can play it more without needing an upgrade…

Weekly Recap

Big week last week. Kinda. I did almost everything I like doing.

It started with a book I wanted to read. Monday and Tuesday were pretty much all about A Memory of Light. I derived enormous satisfaction from that book.

Wednesday was a big day at work. A few issues were solved. We reached a major milestone. I told my staff that I/we should take the rest of the week off because it couldn’t get better.

Sure enough two issues came up Thursday. Not show stoppers, but serious.

I got called to solve an issue Saturday noon. It’s been a long time since I did that. Nice satisfaction in fairly quickly getting it fixed. Less so in getting up early Sunday morning to check it.

I’ve the opportunity to sponsor my goddaughter at her confirmation. That is nifty. We also did a nice brunch on Sunday after mass.

Gaming on Friday was nifty. Daniel is better at both compels and exciting resolutions than I. Great fight with good pressure. And the character mods on my Bigfoot are working out.

Finally I bought a new board game yesterday. Not having a car and access to the board game store has really cramped my style. But a new game i wanted showed up in the feeble mall stores. Of course Rob R already owns it.

I think that is it.

Lots of folks sick last week. I hope all is well this week.

The Last Stand – a bashing

Arnold Schwarzenegger stars in The Last Stand. This movie is bad. A special kind of shut your brain off at the door bad.

The evil drug kingpin breaks out of FBI custody. He steals a really fast car. Obviously the only one who can stop him is a small town sheriff, his three deputies, and a couple of quirky locals.

This review will contain spoilers. I figure that is fine because the movie is review proof.

First you need to accept the car. It is a special concept Corvette ZR-1 with 1000 horsepower that can travel 191 MPH. It can dodge traffic at speed. It can perform a bootleg or Rockford at high speed. It has no ground clearance, but is fine off road. It can outrun a helicopter. It has night vision for dark running. If another vehicle hits it in the front it will cause that vehicle to drive up the hood and flip. The corvette is nigh invulnerable.

It runs from Nevada to Mexico. No cops can catch it. It is too fast. The also can’t setup roadblocks. Actually they try one. But it is a disaster. I guess the car goes too fast to call ahead for more road blocks.

Until the end. When the sheriff borrows the mayor’s Camaro, it turns out that it can always catch up to the Vette.

The big city FBI think the local police are hicks. Obviously they are stupid for making such stereotypical assumptions. But the locals are all hicks. Except the sheriff and he trained in the big city.

Don’t worry it isn’t all car chases. There are gun fights too. And the bad guys have a rocket launcher, but the good guys have a mini gun. There is a huge gun fight. A whole team of paramilitary bad guys buys it. Guess how many good guys?

Finally the sheriff. He is old. This means that when he falls through a door or off a roof, he pauses before getting up uninjured. He can take numerous serious cuts to the legs, but they don’t impede him in any way.

The movie is really, really dumb. But none of it matters. It has nifty car chases and stunts. It has Arnie being tough. It has lots of comedy. It rules.

Deadlines

Tuesday and Wednesday were key days at work.

Time sensitive tasks fell on those days. Their successful completion critical to our project’s success. Additionally, barriers preventing some other tasks finally fell and that work was able to move forward. There were also some problems that needed to be resolved.

There were consultants on site and off who needed attention. There were vendors with last minute requirements. There were staff moving through the province.

It was a lot for the old duder to keep straight in his head. A lotta ins, a lotta outs, a lotta what-have-yous.

For once, everything came together. As a result a major milestone was passed yesterday. Huzzah!

I’m focusing on the last two days because they were key, but it has been crazy. It feels like it’s been crazy for over a year, but the last month and especially the last two weeks have been more so.

My team has really come through. There has been stress. There have been some tough decisions. And folks have been on edge. Particularly me – which helps no one.

Some individuals, who I won’t name, have gone far above. A mountain of work done with little recognition.

The work isn’t done. There are still two critical tasks left for the team – two is such a small number. And then there are new deadlines in a month. And work has been deferred to focus on the key items. In many ways the next month will be just as crazy. In fact, we will have brand new challenges.

But the last two days are still awesome.
A pause to acknowledge them and the work come before is necessary and welcome.

If any team members read this… Thank you. Thank you very much. I wish I could afford to get you all you own bottles of scotch. I’ll need to figure something else out.

A Memory of Light – a review – no spoilers

I’ve read a lot about this book since finishing it yesterday. Most negative reviews are:

– the series has sucked since book 3 or (5 or 8 or whenever)
– Sanderson sucks. As in the previous books he’s ruined the pacing, plot, descriptions and characterizations. Especially Mat.

Really? This is the 14th book. The 3rd by Sanderson. And you bought on release…

I know lots of folks who hold those opinions who stopped reading at some point. That makes sense.

I liked the book. Not lived, but liked. It was solid and exciting and an excellent wrap up of the plot threads.

On Sanderson – he is a different writer than Jordan. He has different strengths and different flaws. Within that framework, I uphold he did a fine job on this book.

There is a recent essay by Doctorow that highlights and potentially explains the feelings of difference.

The two central tenets of the book:
1) wrap up plot lines, character arcs, and prophecies
2) show The Last Battle

The result is a book with some combat prep, some long awaited reunions, battle and a brief denouement.

The highlights of the book are the battle scenes. They are intense and suitably climatic. The book is 906 pages long and has a 202 page single chapter called The Last Battle. And that chapter is neither the beginning nor end of the conflict.

Everyone is given their moment. The three Emmond’s Field leads, their 5 wives/girlfriends, the remaining Forsaken and 6 other main characters. So do many others from minor to tiny roles. Remember the series had over 2000 characters. The focus is firmly on the three leads though and seems appropriate. That likely means your favorite character gets little or no time, but it remains amazing how many are worked in.

For me the flaws were small. The battle was just too long. A climax can’t be maintained over 400 pages. But it tried hard. With so much material to cover some endings were lacking in emotional heft – though some were quite well done. I disagree with the philosophy espoused at the end and thus the final resolution falls a bit flat for me. And finally, for a series that had books worth of digressions and 120 page prologues (60 in this book) the denouement was very short.

In short, if you are still reading this series, the finale delivers the goods. There are few legitimate reasons to dislike it.

Lots to like though. And it was very satisfying to read the last words and turn the final page on this epic.