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Like a Rock

For various reasons involving the fine city of Edmonton, the alarm went off at 4:15 this morning. I decided to get up and start my day, to see what it’s like to be One of Those People who gets up famously early, like Michelle Obama or The Rock. 

Will it mean a day of enviable productivity, or hours sliding into a disconnected haze? 

We shall see. 

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Pretty sure I know which way this day is going. Photo by Joshua Earle on Unsplash

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“We do not have to become heroes overnight. Just a step at a time, meeting each thing that comes up, seeing it as not as dreadful as it appears, discovering that we have the strength to stare it down.”

― Eleanor Roosevelt

Next thing you know, you’ll be ready.

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Photo by ANIRUDH on Unsplash

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Oh, the Irony

Yesterday, I finally got in to see my doctor after many, many months.*

Everything looks good, he said.

Today I have the sniffles. 

* The delay was due in large part to our doctor’s medical leave. I still very much appreciate the Canadian health care system and its workers.

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Seriously, though, I’m fine. Photo by luizclas on Pexels.com

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We bought the cat a little toy chicken with a fluffy feathered tail. Here’s what it looked like this morning:

Squawk!

I guess he liked it.

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This article from 2016 highlights the terahertz spectrometer, which is a technology that can read books without opening them.  

This new machine can read book pages without cracking the cover | PBS NewsHour

The machine uses beams of radiation to creep in between pages and scan individual letters. This new tool wasn’t made to create disdain among classic readers or for those too lazy to lift a cover. Rather it may unlock the secrets of old books or ancient texts too fragile to be disturbed by human touch.

Scanning an object layer by layer and deriving meaning from the images? Cool, nifty, amazing, a breakthrough for archaeologists and antiquarians everywhere!

Also, remind me again why mammograms still require what is, in effect, a highly sophisticated panini press?*

And yes, it is exactly as uncomfortable as it sounds.

* I know, I know, living tissue is not the same thing as parchment or an Italian sandwich. Still, it’s hard not to think that the gap between the current and ideal mammogram experience represents an untapped opportunity for innovation. Ladies, can I get an amen?

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Photo by Dmitry Stepanov on Unsplash

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“It’s snowing still,” said Eeyore gloomily.
“So it is.”
“And freezing.”
“Is it?”
“Yes,” said Eeyore. “However,” he said, brightening up a little, “we haven’t had an earthquake lately.”

― A.A. Milne

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Photo by Aaron Burden on Unsplash

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There is one part of my day job that is repetitive and annoying. It’s the kind of task that would be much easier if automated, and for a while now every time I have had to do this thing I think, “There has to be a better way.” 

Well, this week I found it.

It was a small thing, fixed with a hacky bit of code (my speciality), but figuring it out feels pretty great. Now every time I do the thing that used to annoy me so much, I instead feel a minor but deep-seated sense of satisfaction.

Perhaps you know the feeling? Something was broken and now it is fixed. 

When I’m up against a problem like this I always think that there has to be a better way. While I’m not always right I like that approach much better than rolling over and giving up.

So whatever it is you’re working on, keep pushing. If there’s a way to make it better, eventually you’ll find it.

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Photo by Alex Lam on Unsplash

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One realization I had after studying a bit of history is how little say most people have in it. Traditionally, a limited number of people have been in charge of most things, usually to the detriment of the rest. (We remember the pyramids, for example, but what about those conscripted to build them?)

There’s a reason democracies attract people. 

“Democracy is the worst form of government, except for all the others.” 

― Winston S. Churchill (often quoted, still true)

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Today is voting day in the United States. Not sure where you need to go or what to bring with you? These sites can help.

Get to the Polls

How to Vote

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Yes, there are a lot of forces trying to pull us apart, and there are many aspects of our economic and social lives that could be improved. 

There are also many elements we agree on. Consider health, safety, education, holding doors for the elderly, giving up a seat for the pregnant, and of course, life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.

The devil’s in the details, of course, and as anyone with even a passing acquaintance with the news or social media can tell you, we are flooded with examples of what’s broken on a daily basis. But that’s not all that’s happening, or all that is possible.*

There are a lot of ways to live and I happen to think that democracy is one of the best. (Just ask those pyramid builders.) That doesn’t mean the system can’t improve.

How can we make our voices heard? Vote.

How do we build a world that works? Together.

* For a break from doom and gloom, I recommend a visit to David Byrne’s Reasons to be Cheerful.

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Photo by Element5 Digital on Unsplash

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I went for a walk yesterday with Mr Man. The weather is beautiful, and while unseasonable warmth is disturbing in an “oh crap, climate change” kind of way, it was really nice out. We headed west, basking in the warm sun, gazing up at the blue sky, enjoying the birds and the breeze and the… Ouch, what was that?

A giant hole in the pavement, that’s what. All that looking up at the sky made me trip over what was right in front of me, a foot-sized hole in the tarmac next to a storm drain. Cracks radiated out from the hole. Retreating and reassessing, I peered into the darkness and realized that the hole was more than a trip hazard, it was a portal to the underworld.

Runoff had eaten its way through the pavement, then undermined the street around the drain cover.

That looks dangerous, we said. Someone should do something about that, we said.

In my mind, one important measure of adulthood is the acceptance of responsibility, for self, family, community, country and planet. 

We took a photo of the hole and sent it to the city with a location and a repair request.

Because that “someone” was us.

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Photo by Jovis Aloor on Unsplash

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I woke to light dancing through the curtains. This is my attempt to replicate that feeling.

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Morning Sun: JrJ

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