First Post (27FEB2005)       Previous Week      Next Week      comments       Most Recent Post

senatorhung's pad
ramblings of an information troubleshooter

another sunny day at the park

Sunday, 12JUN2005:

got up early in the afternoon to bike out to the park pavilion to check out the pride picnic. there was a huge turnout, but i managed to get one of the last of the 200 burgers before hanging out with robert, alison, bella, john, david, emilie and joe.

since it was low-tide, i hiked across from the pavilion to where the rapids started. walking across the flats, i saw drift-ice scattered all around, some like crystalline porcupines stretching their icicle spines towards the sky. i made a game of boulder stepping, over both water and sandbar.

once i got to the rapids, i sat beside the make-shift inukshuk to read. i heard crashing noises that i at first thought were gunshots from over the next ridge, but when i looked around, i realized that they were caused by chunks of ice smashing themselves against the rocks in the river. there was one kayak-shaped floe that got hung up on a rock. i watched as it teetered each time the current smashed another chunk of ice into it, until finally it rumbled free, dumping into the drink another boulder of ice that had been hitching a ride.

got home to finish the rest of yesterday's curried chicken concoction and then napped for a bit before making a first pass at my annual sealift grocery order.

section divider

everything you need to know in life

Monday, 13JUN2005:

  • link of the day: 10 pearls gleaned from Charlie Munger's 1994 talk on Worldly Wisdom

    1. need multiple mental models from a wide range of academic disciplines: "You've got to hang experience on a latticework of models in your head."

    2. think in terms of permutations and combinations: "If you don't get this elementary, but mildly unnatural, mathematics of elementary probability into your repertoire, then you go through a long life like a one-legged man in an ass-kicking contest. You're giving a huge advantage to everybody else."

    3. accounting: "you have to know enough about it to understand its limitations - because although accounting is the starting place, it's only a crude approximation."

    4. get results from someone by telling them WHY: "Just as you think better if you array knowledge on a bunch of models that are basically answers to the question, why, why, why, if you always tell people why, they'll understand it better, they'll consider it more important, and they'll be more likely to comply. Even if they don't understand your reason, they'll be more likely to comply."

    5. psychology of misjudgement: "just as a man working with a tool has to know its limitations, a man working with his cognitive apparatus has to know its limitations."

    6. advantages of scale: "if you get a whole lot of volume through your joint, you get better at processing that volume. That's an enormous advantage."

    7. disadvantage of scale: "The great defect of scale, of course, which makes the game interesting - so that the big people don't always win - is that as you get big, you get the bureaucracy. And with the bureaucracy comes the territoriality - which is again grounded in human nature."

    8. technology: "discriminate between when technology is going to help you and when it's going to kill you. ... the huge productivity increases that would come from a better machine introduced into the production of a commodity product would all go to the benefit of the buyers of the textiles. Nothing was going to stick to our ribs as owners."

    9. getting an edge: "you have to figure out what your own aptitudes are. If you play games where other people have the aptitudes and you don't, you're going to lose. And that's as close to certain as any prediction that you can make. You have to figure out where you've got an edge. And you've got to play within your own circle of competence."

    10. investing: "There are huge advantages for an individual to get into a position where you make a few great investments and just sit back and wait: You're paying less to brokers. You're listening to less nonsense. And if it works, the governmental tax system gives you an extra 1, 2 or 3 percentage points per annum compounded."

for more great tips on value investing, visit the Stingy Investor

section divider

suspension of disbelief

Tuesday, 14JUN2005:

if you're reading this, then you have successfully found me at my static IP address: previously, you might have been able to type in '' into your browser to get here, but the good folks at CIRA have seen fit to suspend the domain name that i've held for the last 3 years.

it seems eerie that on the eve of the CIRA board's decision to move to a new privacy policy that provides much stronger identity protection for individual registrants on 'whois', as mandated by the federal e-privacy statute PIPEDA, that the CIRA bureaucrats would strive to strip domains from those of us who were proactive about our privacy. you see, under the old policy, all the personal info that you provided to CIRA - your name, phone number, postal address, email address, etc. - would be freely accessible world-wide in the 'whois' database for the convenience of identity thieves and snail-mail spammers to harvest and plunder at their convenience.

the obvious suggestion would be that CIRA send out a notice about the implementation of the new privacy policy, giving registrants a chance to update their CIRA records with accurate info before attempting to expropriate the domains to feed their re-selling program.

at this month's 'first draft' writer's group meeting, gabrielle gave us a preview of the book compiling stories written by students in her gr.8 class that she will launch tomorrow. one of her students gave a very animated reading of her contribution. we went around the table, giving everyone a chance to read a bit of their own recent work.

one comment i got about my blog was that while it had started off eclectic and good, more recent posts were more mundane and thus boring. i'd say that's a fair comment - i was spending hours editing some of my initial posts, while more recent ones are more diary than exploration. personally, i'm just happy to be writing most every day, and if the only thing i feel like writing about happens to be my day's events rather than some insightful comment on the world, then so be it. however, for future posts, i will try to provide less detail and more wit. the comment did give me the incentive to go back and flesh out a few daily posts: 06may, 02jun, 03jun and 08jun.

someone brought a book of poems by charles bukowski, one of my favourites. i read one of his poems to the group that explained how poetry magazines tend to become insular, boring collections of would-be clever word-smithing. it seems appropriate to close this post with another bukowski poem from " The Last Night of the Earth Poems."

show biz

I can't have it
and you can't have it
and we won't
get it

so don't bet on it
or even think about

just get out of bed
each morning

and go out into 

outside of that
all that's left is
suicide and

so you just
expect too much

you can't even

so what you do
work from a modest

like when you
walk outside
be glad your car
might possibly 
be there

and if it is-
that the tires

then you get
and if it

it's the damndest
you've ever
in it-

low budget
4 billion

and the longest
you ever hope


section divider

literacy and lawyers

Wednesday, 15JUN2005:

at work, i'm still catching up on the periodicals that arrived during my absence. karen mackay's legal business column in the lawyers weekly highlighted this quote by david maister:

"your billable time is your income,
your non-billable time is your future."

for non-lawyers, of course, "billable time" would become "work time".

karen also suggests using a spreadsheet to keep track of goals and progress made. while i use a spreadsheet to track my daily activities at work, i haven't done the same for my off-hours activities. however, i'm leery of becoming so focused on goals that i don't stop to appreciate each day.

after work, i swung around to the high school to attend the launch of "a-counts", a compilation of writing by the gr.8 english class supervised by gabrielle. after readings by some of the young authors, the book sold out its first printing and gabrielle happily took pre-orders for the next print run. copies from her are $10, but there's talk about having them for sale at ventures as well. half of the proceeds will go to the nunavut literacy council and the remainder will go towards buying new books for the high school library.

from there i hit up the storehouse to join the folks giving odile a send-off as she'll be down south for 3 weeks on a career-expanding internship. sara and i got to talking a bit about high school reunions - i didn't make my 10th as i was working in the states, but i did send in a written update and was suprisingly interested in reading the updates sent by others. sadly, on my last trip back, i didn't even recognize one of my fellow grads.

leaving the bar to finish my first pass at my monthly comic book order, i encountered another saskatchewanian. he shared stories about his work behind the scenes at saskplace. we also gossiped about the number of lawyers who have departed recently or will soon depart. i know that the akitsiraq graduation ceremony is next week (the GG will be in attendance), but that doesn't mean that those students will be able to jump into practice right away. so, if you're a lawyer with a flexible attitude and a yen for the north, you might think about coming up to iqaluit for a spell.

  • link of the day: an aquatic epiphany - the writer spent 165 days swimming in the columbia river:
    When folks asked me what they could do 
    for their own creeks and rivers, I said, 
    "Shop for a clean river. Buy organic."
    When they frowned at such a glib answer, 
    I told them about the pesticides and 
    about my swollen lymph node, and I 
    pointed out that, in the aggregate, 
    their total lifetime food purchases 
    would likely dwarf their charitable 
    contributions to environmental causes. 
    "Look," I would say. "If you pay another 
    dollar for organic butter, you get cross, 
    sure. So why do it? Because you are not 
    just buying butter, you are creating an 
    economic incentive for farmers to stop 
    using the cancer-causing chemicals. 
    That means cleaner creeks, cleaner air, 
    healthier citizens, better wages for 
    laborers, and viable family farms."
section divider

is this world going to the dogs ?

Thursday, 16JUN2005:

dogwalk tundra went out with michelle and sandy after work as they walked their dogs mika and aiga out on the tundra out past upper base. the dogs managed to find a caribou leg or skin and gnawed contentedly whenever they weren't racing around full-tilt.

went back to the office afterwards to finish up a few more things for tomorrow. after my recent hassles with, i decided to take the time to review the bios of each of the candidates nominated for election to the CIRA board. since i maintain the website at work, i still have a CIRA membership, so i cast my vote for the candidates that i thought would be most likely to to shake things up at CIRA and maybe convince them to be a bit more user-friendly. my picks were:

  • fontaine - francophone, independent of ISPs / registrars, open source developer
  • wojtyra - 28, fine art major, web designer, P2P is fair, anonymized whois
  • smith - emails should not be openly published on whois, personally supports P2P
  • pearce - whois info should be protected, saskatoon-based
feathery clouds over iqaluit when i left the office for the 2d time around 10 p.m., the sun was just starting to set. the clouds were like feathers flung up into the air ...

the rest of my evening was spent wrapping up my comic book order for the month. stuff i'm looking forward to:
  • top 10: beyond the farthest precinct, with sf/cyberpunk writer paul difilipo taking over the writing reins from alan moore
  • the 3d and final issue (for now) of death jr. with ted naifeh's art
  • bone sharps, cowboys & thunder lizards:

    "This is the story of Edwin Drinker Cope and Othniel Charles Marsh, two scientists who found and fought for dinosaur bones, and the artist Charles R. Knight who almost single-handedly brought dinosaurs back to life for an awestruck public."

  • the final issue of nyx - it's been a *long* time coming ...
  • the 1st issue of rex libris:

    "Rex Libris, Head Librarian at Middleton Public Library, travels to the farthest reaches of the galaxy in search of overdue books. He must confront powerful alien warlords who refuse to pay their late fees."
section divider

cleaning out the neighbourhood

Friday, 17JUN2005:

today was spring clean-up day in iqaluit. our office pitched in by cleaning up around our building. the worst was the endless array of cigarette butts - totally gross !! i'd like to think that if every spring, smokers were forced to pick up all the butts that they've thrown away over the winter into the snow, that quite a few of them would gladly quit.

after work, jordan beat me at chess again. we've been playing every noon hour this week and while the first couple of games were reasonably close, with me even taking him to a draw on tuesday, the rest have been pretty much blowouts in favour of jordan. hey, the guy's played against a grandmaster - i should be glad to even be in the same room !

after that, i went up to joamie school to play a few pickup games of soccer. i did ok, making a few nice saves (whenever i didn't blink) and even a couple of decent assists on goals. speeding back down the hill on the bike, i didn't stop until i got to the 4-corners where the rcmp and bylaw had parked themselves to stop every motor vehicle. i just steered by and waved :)

finished off the evening at sara's get together to help celebrate daniel's birthday. sara made a cake, mike brought candy sparkles for the drinks, and josee brought cauliflower and egg rolls to nibble on. the most riveting conversation topic turned out to be which animal would win in a face-off with another animal. picks for the champ included polar bear, hippo, giraffe, raven and elephant.

after a week of procrastination, i also finally got around to uploading my latest mix to aotm. i had demo'd the benny goodman track, 'sing, sing, sing' for many previous mixes, but this time i had resolved that it would make the final cut. the last time i used 'cannonball' was back in the dark ages on a cassette mix. i used the live version of 'tomorrow, wendy' on another recent mix, but it had gotten stuck in my head again after singing it with vinnie in a bout of karaoke fever.

as with many of my previous mixes, i attempted to establish a kind of narrative thread thru the playlist, the theme of which is obscured by the drastic changes in genre and tempo. it feels like re-working a poem to highlight certain elements while masking others to make it less literal and perhaps more universal. i'm pretty happy with the way it turned out, but we'll see what i think a couple months from now ...

section divider

the *man* is the mask

Saturday, 18JUN2005:

after a week of staying up until 3 a.m., it was good to sleep late into the afternoon. i probably would have slept even longer except that i had made plans to see the exhibit opening of the pangnirtung prints collection at the nunatta sunakkutaangit museum.

hit the astro theatre at 7 to catch the latest batman flick with greg and john. we saw the trailer for 'willy wonka and the chocolate factory', which reunites johnny depp with his peter-playing co-star from 'neverland'. greg thought this new pic looked a bit dodgy, and recommended the original film instead. for me, just the sight of that shiny golden ticket on the big screen brought back warm memories of reading the book.

since the bar was closed due to running out of beer, we travelled downhill to pat's quiet lounge at the legion to critique the film. with over 65 years of comics history built up since the character's first appearance in 1939 in detective comics #27, christopher nolan should be lauded for recognizing that batman is a modern mythology. by making the film as real as possible, focusing in on the elements that have made the character a classic, and casting accomplished hollywood actors to support the serious nature of the story, nolan has succeeded in crafting a definitive superhero film.

when bella and daniel joined us, we headed over to the pool tables. i played against joe, jimmy, norm, daniel and bella. joe was down to the black ball while i had 5 stripes to try to hook him with. after yanking him around for a bit, i suddenly got cooking and sunk all 6 balls in a row. jimmy challenged me and made his own run of 5 in a row to kick me off the table.

after jimmy had succeeded in fending off norm, i challenged him to a re-match. i sunk a solid off the break, but missed my next shot, giving jimmy a chance to sink another solid to go up 2 balls. however, that turned out to be his only chance at the table as i roared back to sink 8 balls in a row ! it was the first time that i've ever beaten jimmy and we both had a good laugh about the way i'd finally done it.

norm successfully challenged me, tho i managed to keep it respectable by having only a single ball on the table when he finished me off. he also won the re-match, but when i refused to play for a fin, he gave up the table to go to another one with more co-operative competitors. this gave me a chance to play against daniel. i won that match, but mostly because i was less engrossed in the conversations that we were holding with non-players.

when i found out that bella had never played before, i offered to show her the ropes. we covered the basics of geometry (angle of incidence), how to hold the cue, and a few first steps in game strategy (leaves). players from other tables joined in to give their own advice. with all that help, she actually ended up beating me!! (well, i scratched on the black, even after explaining how i was going to shoot to avoid doing exactly that). talk about beginner's luck ...

the song i can't get out of my head today:

  • franz ferdinand - "the dark of the matinée"
      "time every journey
      to bump into you, 

First Post (27FEB2005)       Previous Week      Next Week      comments       Most Recent Post