Jobs thoughts

The obits for Steve Jobs seem scattered.  Was he an iconoclast – breaking paradigms and forging new paths?  Was he an autodidact and self-starter – starting in a garage and starting over again whenever needs demanded?  Was he prickly and hard to work with –  clashing with those who couldn’t accept his vision and guidance?  Was he a gifted engineer and a genius at marketing?

Of course it is hard to sum up a life in 1000 words.  Jobs may have been all those things.  And we are only talking about his public life since he kept his private life quite guarded.  Who knows what additional aspects he possessed.

What I see though is a man of passion who was able to communicate that to others.  Those two elements could have existed in a person in any field and moved them towards success.  To the extent that Jobs had them, the person would be destined to become a paragon in their field.

I didn’t really get Apple until I bought my first iPod.  I became an instant fanboy.  I remain a fanboy.  An iFanboy.  Because I could see Job’s passion in every line of the device.  It was just a shell of metal and plastic in a cardboard box.  I have no idea how many people had a hand in its design, implemenation, QA and manufacture.  How can a souless gadget convey passion?  That is the gift I received from Steve Jobs.

I reflect now on whether I am putting my passion into my own life.  Whether I am communicating that out.  Reflection and a lesson that I should have been able to learn before the man’s passing.

Lots to talk about!

I have been planning a post about snow clearing for a while, but there seems to be a lot going on in the last week.

First thank you to Craig and Suellen for the patio clearing.  Thank you!  Thank you to the guys for a bunch of smaller chores on Sunday too – fixing the runner, planning a foot slip stop, moving my car and the stuff Rob hasn’t quite finished yet.  I’ve had a lot of little help in the past week.  I certainly appreciate it.

Tony R. was over yesterday and brought dinner.  Thanks!  I was bragging to him about how the battery on my scooter rarely needs charging.  Today I moved offices to a new part of the building and it means that I need to put a lot more miles on the scooter.  As I drove to the new location the battery meter started to slip inexorably downward.  To preserve power by the end of the day I had reduced my speed to almost nothing.  🙂  It stays full for nearly a month at a time, but then empties all at once.  That or it drains as soon as I brag it up.

Happy Robby Burns day!  If you read this today make sure to take a dram of scotch.  I’m going to break open my bottle of Glen Garrioch with dinner.  Num, num.

The big news today is the report that Steady Eddy is done as Alberta Premier.  I am pretty sure that I respect him for his honesty, but we certainly don’t see eye to eye on politics and I don’t think he was a good figurehead for the party either.    I don’t think being Premier it is enough to simply be a good guy.

It seems to me that Mr. Ted Morton is the likely successor – maybe not until a leadership convention in the fall though.  Morton and I are even farther apart on the fiscal spectrum.  However, I think the party will receive better overall leadership.  My political beliefs contain in part the dictum that there is more than one way to do things.  Regardless of my personal opinion of which way is better, I think the province will benefit from strong leadership.

The employees in the public sector might see an even tighter belt tightening though.  That is scary – especially for a person that just took a job back in the public sector again!

The other question that comes up is whether the other parties will be able to capitalize on this.  The PCs will not have a strong desire to support Mr. Stelmach from now until his replacement.  Any PC party bickering that was located only in back rooms may come forward now (and they had a problem with that anyway!)  We’ve got the strong push from the Wildrose, the Alberta Party barely exists, but seems to have a little momentum too.  The Liberals are foundering – perhaps they can be reactive to an opportunity here too.

If we are going to discuss politics, please be on your best behavior.  No calling folks a moron please.  But I’m interested in hearing what others think…

Now I need to go buy something with my new credit card to make sure it works.  Take care and I’ll talk snow later.

Health Care and Current Events

So two things to talk about here…

To recap, our head of AHS was fired yesterday as a result of many factors, but the most recent and immediate cause being his infamous cookie comment.

So many factors here to upset me.  (Or at least cause questions.)  Should the head of AHS be a political position?  Should it be a position that gets something done?  With the Alberta super-board it seem to me to be impossible that the position won’t be a little of both.  So we hired a fellow with almost no political acumen at all.  For years everything Duckett has done has resulted in the Gov’t coming along to smooth the waves after.  Since Zwozdesky was given the Health portfolio it has been apparent that they plan was to keep Duckett away from the cameras – create that separation.

But that doesn’t work.  The province either needed someone with the political skills in the position or they needed to change the position.  Here’s what I see as the problem.  If you hire a politician into the role they will not be able to provide effective leadership to the board.  I think it is unlikely to find someone competent at organizing a Health super-board and being a politician.  But the head of the super-board is too big a job not to be political.  I’m not sure there is a correct person for this job.

Next thing – what the heck is the separation between the ministry of Health and the AHS?  The longer the super-board has been in existence the fuzzier this is getting.  The ‘direction’ given by the minister to the board last night shows quite clearly the lack of true division between the two.  That isn’t the first example of that kind of meddling though.

Next thing – the job as AHS board head is impossible.  The direction provided whiplashes according to political winds.  Tighten the belt.  Don’t impact services.  Improve services.  Fix wait times that are in crisis.  Don’t do anything to make the Gov’t look bad.

So I come to these conclusion.  Mr. Duckett was a jackass, but getting fired for being rude to the media is silly and shows that the priorities of the job are messed up.  Secondly, they’ll hire a friendlier face to replace him, but don’t count on that working to fix any of the deeper problems.  I do not think the supper-board can work at all without significant restructuring and a much clearer division of roles and responsibilities.

(Personally, I think the whole super-board idea is a mistake, but I don’t really have an argument to support that point of view.)

The second issue to talk about is wait times.  The whole Duckett affair has provided a week of distraction from the actual problems.

Now, personally I haven’t had any problems with our health system.  I’ve dealt with it recently in three ways.  Normal checkups with my doctor.  I have no complaints other than my doctor’s booking system (but that is her system not the gov’ts or boards).  Second interacting with Gov’t programs and AHS programs to assistance with mobility.  This is slow, but seems to work.  Third, visits to the ER and followups for stones.  My wait times have been agreeable.  The care I received was fine.  I then had access to specialists quickly and have had several minor surgeries and many CT scans, X-rays and ultrasounds.

But that is only a single anecdotal data point.  The stats show that wait times are way too long.  I think 8 hours is too long to wait to get a paper cut looked at.  Certainly the number of deaths while waiting should be a number approaching zero.  Really, really close to approaching zero.

The question here is what is an effective strategy for dealing with them?  I don’t know.  Anyone have any ideas?

On cereal and emergency slides

I was in Safeway the other day when a young boy discovered that life is unfair and might not cater to his every whim.

He wanted some cereal and his mother was not allowing him to go get it.  He used every tactic he possessed to convince his Mom.  He used argument – “I need it.”, “It will only take a moment.”, “I’m not coming with you unless you let me get it.”  He stamped his feet.  He clenched his fists.  He cried and screamed.  When his Mom came and took his hand, he snatched it back and stood stoic with his arms crossed – if stoicism is possible when your face is red and streaky with tears.

None of this had any impact on his mother.  None.  She wasn’t having any of it.  Perhaps more interestingly none of the other shoppers came to his defense either.  No one took his side and he was alone against the injustice of not getting his favorite cereal.

So I ask why when a flight attendant throws a similar tantrum after being faced with an unjust passenger that attendant is acclaimed as a hero of the working class.  Taking to the intercom and berating the passenger and ultimately deploying the emergency slide and flamboyantly disembarking – these are not the actions of a hero.  They are the ones of a 4 year old boy who doesn’t get his way.

People can have a bad day at work.  Working in the service or retail sectors can be very difficult.  The greatest joys and the greatest frustrations are going to be the customers.  Depending on your luck and specialization it might seem that for every pleasant individual you meet 10 arrogant, misinformed, antagonistic jerks.  It is quite possible to return home after work with the nagging feeling that people are just stupid and rude.

I think there is a reason why we need the maxim “The customer is always right.”  It certainly isn’t because that it is a literal truth.  It is instead a guiding mantra for when a person is confronted by a customer who is obviously and painfully wrong.

What is heroic action when faced with a customer who is beyond rude, but is actually abusive – maybe physically abusive as in the flight attendant’s situation?  I do not think it is snapping, becoming abusive yourself and throwing a temper tantrum.  If this is not behavior that we accept from pre-schoolers, we shouldn’t praise it in adults.

Most folks in a service or retail job are taught some conflict resolution techniques.   Ideas to defuse a situation.  If no formal training exists, hopefully we’ve learned these from your parents, friends and teachers.  Using them probably won’t get you hailed as a hero or even acknowledged.  It is a pretty thankless task.  In extreme situations there is almost always the option to involve the authorities.  Once complete you likely won’t feel the satisfaction of having “flipped out” and you might need to go home and get a long hug from your spouse and maybe a warm bath with bubbles.

If you want to change things then change them.  That is heroic.  Maybe the service industry is not a good fit.  Maybe it is only this job.  Maybe you need to change the behaviors of your customers.  Proactively figure out how to do training.  Write a book.  Hang posters in the business.  Take training yourself on social interactions and conflict resolution.  Get a good nights sleep before going in to work and eat a good breakfast.

These ideas are not sexy.  They won’t get you made the lead news story.  They might not even work.  They are the actions that I expect out of a civilized adult.

At the very least, you can satisfy your self with the knowledge that you can buy whichever darn cereal you want for that good breakfast.

Guys Getaway Weekend Planning

So despite the fact that our group includes several individuals who coordinate multi-million dollar projects and/or hundreds of people as their daily job, our planning for our yearly gaming weekends is always a fiasco.  I think an amusing fiasco, but surely one we can do better.

I think some goals to achieve for next week include:

-expand Dan’s menu (below or in e-mail thread)
– finalize estimates on alcohol (in progress)
– Review board game list for additional suggestions or to second some votes (Tim, Troy haven’t voted)

Planning Items Done:
– Decide on whether a pre-shopping trip to costco will occur and who will do it (Troy the night before)

– finalize which vehicles are coming (Rob, Troy and Dave)

– determine 1 or two additional video games (Stef suggest the CoD:Modern Warfare 2 – so we’ll do that)
– find 10 controllers (in progress)
(Stef will provide the last two)


Here is where we are so far:

Scheduling – [Pauly responsible]

  • Leave morning Friday, July 23rd.  Return late afternoon/evening July, 25th
  • Staging meeting at Troy’s for Edmonton folk
  • Meet at Humptys in the Fort for breakfast – 9 am
  • Final shopping at no-frills to follow
  • Question – day of or pre-day shopping trip to Costco required? (Yes Troy will do it)
  • 10 people are going this year – myself, Tim, Robin, Dave, Troy, Shaun, Dano, Stef, Pauly and Rob
  • Rob’s cabin is the meeting place [I’ll circulate the address in a less public forum when I have it, but we’ve all been there before (except maybe Sean)]
  • Any other scheduling details needed?

Transportation – [Pauly Responsible]

  • Three vehicles will be used – Goal to minimize vehicles while getting setting for 10 and storage for a ton of stuff (Troy, Dave and Rob will drive.)
  • Any other details needed for transportation?

Drink – [Dano Responsible]

  • All drink to be purchased during shopping trip except specialty items.  All that is needed is an idea of what is needed
  • There is water at the cabin.  No additional should be needed?
  • Coffee [there is a coffee maker at the cabin? Yes, yes there is]
  • More Bailey’s is needed (is 2 60s excessive?)
  • Tim to provide grog.  More grog.  [someone needs to volunteer a grog container – I think there were some] – The grog last year was in a 4 liter container.  We do not need 40 liter coolers for grog. 🙂  10-12 is likely lots.
  • More wine – [> 2 bottles?]
  • More girly coolers – [> x we bought last year] – Smirnoff Ice is a hit (4×12)
  • [Note both the Smirnoff and the grog are high alcohol content drinks that consume like juice.  Dangerously good.]
  • Less beer.  [< 15/ person] (4×12)
  • Currently at ~10/person
  • Outstanding – better estimates for coolers, wine and beer.
  • Any other drinks needed?

Food – [Dano responsible]

  • Turkey diner, all details for Stef to arrange, [deep fryer, propane, misc requirements]
  • To dethaw a turkey takes 25/5 lbs in the fridge or 30 minutes/lbs in cold water!
  • Other gourmet’ish meal – the vote seems to be for home-made McGriddle for a breakfast, but the bread has not been statistically eliminated because it would make Robin sad. 😦
  • We may do the rest of the menu planning during the shopping trip[s]
  • Menu (rough):
  1. Friday Morn: Breakfast at Humpty’s
  2. Friday Lunch:
  3. Friday Supper: (Pizza ??)
  4. Saturday Breakfast: Griddles by Dano
  5. Saturday Lunch:
  6. Saturday Supper: Deep Fried Turkey a la Stef.  Or deep fried Stef if this doesn’t work out. (salad in a bag for side?)
  7. Sun Morn:  Sausage and eggs w/ hashbrowns and fresh tomatoes. (plus Deer Sausage at cabin)
  8. Sunday Lunch:
  9. Plus: non-stop snacks.
  • Grocery list:
  1. Hot Dogs and Smokies
  2. Hamburgers
  3. Buns for the two above
  4. (Fr. Pizzas??)
  5. Eggs (a flat?  More?)
  6. Cheese slices (for griddles)
  7. Salad 2 bags cesar
  8. Hasbrowns
  9. Tomatoes
  10. Coffee (help, I’ve never bought coffee – someone will have to figure out what we need)

Video Games – [Todd Responsible]

  • 3 projectors will be available – [Stef, Stef, Pauly]
  • 3 Xbox 360s will be available – [not decided yet maybe Tim, Dave and Robin]
  • 10 controllers needed – [need to do controller inventory] 4 robin. 2 Tim, 2 Dave , 2 Stef
  • networking gear from Dave – [still packed, should be checked before departure]
  • Games : [we should finalize in the next week to allow time to gather them]
  • Halo:ODST [Stef, Robin, Stef?], CoD:Modern Warfare [Need to find games]

Board Games – [Todd Responsible]

  • Todd’s full inventory here plus many other misc. games from others (no summary, but there are many good ones
  • My games are split up around everyone.  So an accounting may be needed to find all the suggestions.
  • The suggestions so far (all games with multiple votes are sure to come, where I specify a negative vote there is also always at least 1 positive vote):
  • Le Havre or Agricola – 2 votes
  • Civilization: Through the Ages
  • Long Live the King –  2 votes
  • Arkham Horror
  • El Grande – 2 votes
  • Android [Tim] – 2 votes
  • Small World – 2 votes
  • Nuns on the Run – 3 votes
  • Modern Art
  • War of the Ring – 1 vote against this, but Dano meant Lord of the Rings actually
  • Time’s Up – 2 votes
  • Battlestar Galactica [Tim] – 2 votes for, 1 vote against
  • Catan [Dano] – 3 votes
  • Dominion.  [Dano or Todd – need Alchelmy for sure from Dano and Intrigue from Todd]
  • Carcasonne and/or Alhambra – 2 votes
  • Cash and Guns – 2 votes
  • Caylus
  • Dominion
  • Bohnanza
  • Fury of Dracula – 2 votes
  • Pillars of the Earth
  • Dungeon Lords – 2 votes
  • Formula D – 2 votes
  • Galaxy Trucker
  • Die Macher – 1 vote against
  • Railroad Tycoon (or the other railroad game… whichever was better)
  • Shadows over Camelot
  • Space Alert – 2 votes, 1 of which was a plea
  • Runebound (maybe Prophecy?)
  • Ultimate Werewolf
  • Wits and Wagers
  • Apples to Apples
  • Citadels
  • Race for the Galaxy
  • Roll through the ages: Bronze Age
  • Tribune
  • Pandemic
  • Descent

Misc. – [Rob responsible for cabin misc]

  • Everyone needs to bring bedding
  • Beds for 7 with no sharing (2 of these are bunk beds though) plus a couch
  • Coolers – Rob and Stef to each bring one, more needed? (Dave and Troy each have one)
  • Rob to check on cleaning supplies
  • Our only chores are to mow the lawn and to leave the cabin cleaner than we found it (if possible)
  • Todd to plan ahead for tabulating bill properly (and maybe keep receipts for future planning) – Spreadsheet created.  Will collapse if we get asymmetric purchases (e.g. purchases where the share is not evenly divided)
  • Anything else?

Old Discussion Items

  • Rob’s pickup for sure – 2 people comfortably, a lot of storage
  • Troy’s Excursion for sure – 4 comfortably, lots of storage (plus Troy had a roof carrier at one point too?)
  • One other either my Tribute (4 comfortably, little storage) or Dave’s Ridgeline (4 comfortably?, lots of storage including the secured trunk) – [TBD]
  • Additional Vehicles now Offered by Shaun (van) and Dano (F-150 Crewcab with covered box).

Secret Law – Neat!

Ontario passes secret Law.

The headlines are pretty sensational and most of the reaction is overreaction, but this is still pretty nifty.  Read and come back.

  • OK – is the law necessary?  Should civil liberties be reduced to allow for additional security during the G8/G20?  I think the law itself is OK.  It is specific to certain areas and has a specific duration.  The news reports do not say what is done with the information provided.  That would be my main concern.  But my opinion is certainly debatable.
  • Should the public have been informed of the law existence?  Yes!  First, security by obscurity is always silly.  Second it was sure to come to light if used.
  • Should it have had public debate in the Ontario legislature?  Once again I think yes.  Note – I am pro debate. 🙂
  • Should the government have the ability to pass such a measure without debate?  I think this is a very interesting question.  I am not sure.  But I lean towards no.

Any opinions?