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Archive for March, 2014

Age Perception

One of my co-workers celebrated his 30th birthday today. Some of our colleagues decided to highlight the achievement on his whiteboard with the diagram below. It was nice they included me in their calculations – I am on the yellow sticky below the board.

Celebrating my co-worker's birthday ... I am referenced on the yellow sticky below - click to enlarge.

Celebrating my co-worker’s birthday … I am referenced on the yellow sticky below – click to enlarge.

Actually, I thought it was quite funny. Well played.

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The law of averages doesn’t look good for me. The last time I was in a vehicle crash was over 30 years ago. But I came close a couple of days ago.

I was stopped at a light at a downtown intersection. It was a three lane road and I was sitting in the far right lane. There was a semi on my left so I really couldn’t see in that direction. The light turned green for us and I started out. I just caught it in the corner of my eye but from the left a van was running the red. I hit the brakes as hard as I could and stopped. On recollection, the next instant was very calm. There was no fear, no panic – I just remember thinking, “I am going to get hit”. At that point, the van swerved around me and kept going. Even though it probably about 2 seconds, I could tell you that it was a later model, grey Chevy mini-van with a blue handicapped sticker hanging from the mirror. It was a very surreal experience – one that I don’t particularly want to repeat. I guess I just have to keep defying the odds.

As George Carlin used to point out; “Here’s a phrase that apparently the airlines simply made up: near miss. They say that if 2 planes almost collide, it’s a near miss. Bullshit, my friend. It’s a near hit! A collision is a near miss. [WHAM! CRUNCH!] “Look, they nearly missed!” “Yes, but not quite.”

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We live in a cold part of the world. And this winter has been a bit colder than normal. We had a warm spell in January – it went above 0C for a few days and that seemed to lull people into a false sense of spring. On Groundhog Day, if there was a groundhog out and about, they did see their shadow. When a friend from eastern Canada asked what the state of the weather was on Groundhog Day, I said it had been cold and sunny. Oh, the groundhog saw his shadow … six more weeks of winter. We wish – six weeks would take us into mid-March – that would be early for us. We’ll take it – thank you very much.

February has been colder than normal. At the winter solstice, we get about seven hours of daylight. I know this is a lot by Arctic standards, but going to work and coming home in the dark is not particularly fun. So with the days getting longer but the weather staying cold, it just doesn’t seem fair. This past weekend was a great example. Woke up Sunday morning to clear, crisp skies with an air temperature around -30 C and for one hour at least, a wind chill of -39 C. For me, this was weather to hunker down indoors.

Which, in a roundabout manner, brings me to the subject of this post. I have an original Kindle (I have just ordered a paperwhite version) and I love it. Yes, I know the arguments about the tactile feel of a real book and I agree that the Kindle isn’t perfect. But it is portable and to be able to get a book anywhere (I have the 3G version) is amazing. So, I spent a lot of the weekend curled up with my latest book on the Kindle with my favourite tunes playing in the background. It is a relaxing way to spend time.

However, a couple of weeks ago I ran across articles in both the New York Times and the Atlantic about studies that show we, as a society, don’t read as much as we used to. While I know we have vast new ways of receiving information, it saddens me to think of not experiencing the pleasure of becoming immersed in a good read. A number of years ago a friend went to India for an extended stay and wrote a journal of his experiences. He called it, ‘Sipping from the Fire Hose’ and I was honoured when he asked me to edit and layout the final copy. It is an apt title and one of the reasons he chose it was that the experiences in India were so foreign and overwhelming that he could not fully comprehend what was happening in real time. It took laying out his thoughts and reflecting on the experiences for him to understand what he had seen. And that is what we seem to be doing on a daily basis with all the information being hurled at us from so many directions. For me, there are times I need to turn down the volume and reflect. It would seem that we are moving away from that paradigm. I am not sure that is a good thing. I see many times in my work where judgments are made without knowing the full context and taking time to consider consequences. Yes, you can have ‘paralysis by analysis’ but jumping to conclusions can be just as bad, if not worse. I don’t know if there is an answer to this, but immersing one’s self in a good read is a way to slow the world down and hopefully reduce some of the stress we place ourselves in. So maybe there was an upside to -30 last weekend.

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