I woke up to see snow on the ground this morning! Yea!!!!! More opportunities for snow-stomp art!
This one was far less complex than my previous work (Qubix) but somehow seemed appropriate:
Rum! Palms! A hammock! No wonder it also looks like a stylized happy face!
Links to most of my previous snow-stomp art:
My granddaughter and I are going to see Titus Andronicus tomorrow evening at The Arts Project in London. If I didn't know the producer/director, and if I didn't know and respect the actors playing the leading roles, and if I didn't enjoy supporting local theatre, I probably wouldn't go to see this play.
Murder, rape, dismemberment, mutilation, torture, fratricide, sacrificial death -- you name it. This play has all that gruesome stuff. I'm not keen on it. From Wikipaedia,
In his 1998 book, Shakespeare: The Invention of the Human, Harold Bloom attacked the play on numerous occasions, calling it "a howler", "a poetic atrocity", "an exploitative parody, with the inner purpose of destroying the ghost of Christopher Marlowe" and "a blowup, an explosion of rancid irony." Bloom summates his views by declaring "I can concede no intrinsic value to Titus Andronicus." Citing the 1955 Royal Shakespeare Company (RSC) production, directed by Peter Brook and starring Laurence Olivier, which is generally agreed to have provided the impetus for the 20th century revaluation of the play, Bloom said that the audience laughed several times in scenes which were supposed to be tragic, and he sees this as evidence for its failure as Tragedy. He particularly focuses his criticism on the line when Lavinia is told to carry Titus' severed hand in her mouth (3.1.281), arguing that no play which contains such a scene could possibly be serious. He thus concludes the best director to tackle the play would be Mel Brooks.
Say, now there's an idea! I'm going to laugh all the way through the play. Maybe I'll have a few glasses of wine before I go, too.
I was so excited by the snow we had last night, I had trouble sleeping! I wanted to get out on the lawn this morning to try my latest snow-stomp art idea.
If I'd walk straighter, it would look better, but I'm pretty happy with it anyway.
By mid-afternoon, there had been some melting and the sun was shining. The contrast made the patterns much more striking:
Previous examples of my snow stomp art:
I have no idea how reliable this source is, but I love the examples posted there, most likely as humour submissions.
My own three stupid stories from interviews. They're nowhere near as funny as the ones in the link though.
Unfortunately the great, brief questions and answers at the Buzzfeed site are screen captures from tweets, so you'll have to follow the link to see them. Believe me, it's worth it. They're funny.
Today was the traumatic spring day for me when we move from Daylight-Wasting-Time to Daylight-Savings-Time [DST]. Traumatic because we have to change the time on so many clocks and watches, and for some clocks it's a pain.
My friends in Saskatchewan tend to sit back smugly and point out that they don't have to change their clocks.
They're right. But they have what I consider a worse problem....... adjusting their television watching habits because everyone else goes onto DST. Let's see, now, Big Bang used to come on at 7pm but now does it come on at 8pm or 6pm? This process of adjustment was worse for me in the fall when I was there as everyone else went onto Daylight-Wasting-Time. It took me several days to figure out when various football games and pre-game shows would be on television.
I honestly don't mind DST. What I mind is switching away from it for a few months and then switching back. I'd be happy to stay on DST year 'round. Yes, I know it would mean going to work and school in the dark in the mornings for many people for a month or two. But staying on DST would also mean fewer health issues, too, that result from the time switches [see this].
I cannot imagine that having a light rail transit system run from downtown London to Masonville through UWO would pass any reasonable cost-benefit assessment. And yet it looks as if the plan has a good chance of happening.
Tell you what: I'll get on board the proposal if they run the rail line up The Parkway.
The Parkway is a residential area of snooty trouble-makers right near the university. I had some serious run-ins with these clowns nearly 25 years ago and would be happy to see them all worked up. See this. In addition, at some point in the past two decades, the residents of The Parkway have managed to block off a trail along the Thames River, an amazingly social-welfare-reducing move on their part.
In econ-speak, I quite clearly have an interdependent utility function such that anything that makes the folks living on The Parkway worse off makes me better off.
It feels good to be motivated to smile by happy, joyful events. But this article suggests there are benefits from smiling even if you don't feel like it. Actually, I suspect the article and the research it reports may have the causation backwards. Here are the salient points from the article:
Here are four science-backed reasons why smiling is good for you.
I wonder, though, if maybe the causation is different. Perhaps it is just that happier people smile more, are less stressed, live longer, etc. I'm not convinced that forcing oneself to smile more will make one happier, less stressed, live longer, etc.. If it works, though, great!
The trouble is, it's hard to force oneself to smile when one doesn't feel like smiling. It feels fake and hypocritical.
Happy Valentine's Day!!!
Previous examples of my snow stomp art:
For the past several years, Amazon.ca has ranked Canadian cities according to their "romantic-ness". According to their criteria, these are the top twenty Canadian cities, in descending order:
But notice that I said, "According to their criteria...". Just what are the Amazon.ca criteria for being romantic?
Maybe it's just that the people in the higher-ranked cities aren't getting enough romance in their lives, and they are sublimating by buying these products from Amazon. Maybe those products are not complements to having a romantic life but are substitutes that people buy because they are missing romance in their lives.
It's interesting that Trono, Montreal, and Quebec City don't make the list, nor do any towns or cities in the Maritimes. Myriad explanations, other than romance, seem plausible.
Bryan Caplan has a very interesting and very provocative post at Econlog challenging the standard, typical medical classifications relating to mental illnesses in general and to ADHD in particular. I have come to respect Caplan's work, and so I never dismiss anything he writes without giving it careful consideration. His material in this post seems generally right to me. Two telling paragraphs about ADHD:
Overall, the most natural way to formalize ADHD in economic terms is as a high disutility of work combined with a strong taste for variety. Undoubtedly, a person who dislikes working will be more likely to fail to 'finish school work, chores or duties in the workplace' and be 'reluctant to engage in tasks that require sustained mental effort'. [see chart below] Similarly, a person with a strong taste for variety will be 'easily distracted by extraneous stimuli' and fail to 'listen when spoken to directly', especially since the ignored voices demand attention out of proportion to their entertainment value. ...
As the DSM uses the term, a person who 'has difficulty' 'sustaining attention in tasks or play activities' could just as easily be described as 'disliking' sustaining attention. Similarly, while 'is often forgetful in daily activities' could be interpreted literally as impaired memory, in context it refers primarily to conveniently forgetting to do things you would rather avoid. No one accuses a boy diagnosed with ADHD of forgetting to play videogames.
Caplan re-presents a checklist to help professionals diagnose someone with ADHD. Here it is:
If this stuff had been around when I was young, I'd have been a drugged-out zombie. All nine of these applied to me.
When I was in Grade 2, the teacher wrote that I did good work when I did it, but that I rarely finished it. Also on behavioural items, I think I was given 13 minuses and only 3 pluses over one report-card period.
Also about that time, a woman who was visiting our home for dinner told my parents I should be put on drugs because I jiggled my legs so much.
So much of what is termed ADHD behaviour is better dealt with via behaviour training. Thank goodness my parents didn't put me on drugs. Instead, I had to learn to cope and adjust in some settings.
As one of my FB friends posted yesterday on a completely different (yet identical?) topic,
"You think too much because there's work that you don't want to do." - Andy Warhol's advice to Lou Reed.
According to this post at the Washington Post, people who smoked pot regularly for at least five years had some (slight?) short-term memory problems in middle age, compared with those who didn't. But the posting also notes some caveats concerning the study:
One important caveat is that a study like this can't determine causality. It could be the case that heavy pot use makes your short-term memory bad, or it could be that people who operate at a lower level of cognitive function are more inclined to use marijuana heavily.
It's also worth noting that the other cognitive abilities researchers tested -- focus and processing speed -- did not seem to be significantly impacted by heavy marijuana use.
The association between short-term memory declines -- potentially permanent ones -- and heavy pot use is very real, according to this study, and shouldn't be discounted. On the other hand, it's also quite surprising that you can smoke weed literally every single day for five years, and not have it impact your problem-solving abilities or your ability to focus at all. [emphasis added] These findings also need to be understood in relation to what we know about the severe cognitive effects of persistent, heavy alcohol use, which include irreversible brain damage.
I would add another caveat: The presumption in the article is that the heavy marijuana users smoked it. What if, instead, people ingested it? There would be less damage to the lungs and less direct effect from shortages of oxygen to the brain.
Now, if only recreational use of marijuana were completely legalized, ....
This morning my online statement from Rogers Bank (a Mastercard offering 1.75% cashback, which I can apply to pay my Rogers bill) says:
Due Date: 01/25/2016
Minimum Due: $10.00
Past Due Amount: $0.00
I wrote them to ask how I could have a balance due five days before today. Their canned response was that the "Due Date" is listed as the previous due date.
Huh?? I have no past due amount, but I have a minimum amount due 5 days ago?
Time to change the algorithm, Rogers.
We had more snow than expected overnight, so I hustled out to the condo lawn to do this snow stomp art this morning:
I like some of the patterns, and I may try to work on it some more this afternoon.
Previous examples of my snow stomp art:
45 Years ago today I visited London, Ontario, on a recruiting trip to The University of Western Ontario. I think I had probably been through here once as a child, but this trip was essentially my introduction to the city and to the university.
I flew into town the evening of January 24th, 1971, spent the day of the 25th meeting with future colleagues, and left town on the 26th.
Those were different days for the economics department at UWO. It was known as a revolving door, hiring ten people a year, and firing (actually, not renewing) 8 or 9 each year. The department was growing in size and stature and was serious in how it approached the hiring-firing decisions. Several of my future colleagues groused about the uncertainty and what seemed like inappropriate or unequally applied standards (to them), but they also all agreed UWO would be a good place to have been.
I had always hoped to go to a small liberal arts college to teach. I didn't want to write anything more than what was required for my dissertation. (What a change I went through. See this). But UWO looked like an exciting place to be, and my future colleagues convinced me it was worth coming here for a few years.
The day of interviews was gloriously warm, for late January. The sun was shining. We walked around campus in our sport coats and basked in the sun. People joked about how the snow-sculpture contest was going to have to be canceled.
Lunch at the faculty club, meetings with more future colleagues, dinner with a former gradskool classmate. An exciting day. But nothing like what was to come...
The Blizzard of January, 1971
The morning of the 26th, I got up early and went down to the lobby to catch a limo/bus to the airport. It had started snowing, and the snow looked as if it was pretty heavy, but the streets to the airport were okay, and I made it to the airport with plenty of time to spare.
Those were the days with no security checks at the airports. Those of us who were due to fly out stood by the window, looking at the runway, a bit worried about the intensifying snowfall, and speculating about whether we would make it out.
Soon, breaking through the clouds, we could barely make out the Air Canada plane that was due to arrive (and which would be our return flight to Toronto).
We saw the plane approach the runway, and then pull up.
But then we saw it come back for another attempt at landing.
It pulled up again. Another groan.
It made a third attempt but again pulled up. The pilot didn't feel safe landing because he couldn't see the runway!
In those days, with fares as high as they were (in real dollars), airlines took on many more obligations than they do nowadays. We all queued up at the ticket desk, and the Air Canada ticket agents rebooked our flights out of Toronto and then put us all in taxicabs to the Toronto airport. I was put on an American Airlines flight to Chicago and had plenty of time to make it.
The trip to Toronto was interesting. By coincidence, I was in a cab with Levis Kochin, an economist who went on to have a very successful career at The University of Washington.
We arrived in Toronto in plenty of time. I checked in at the American ticket counter, and we boarded the plane while the sun was still shining.
Then the snow hit with a vengeance. American canceled the flight and told us to disembark and reschedule.
I think I must have joined 5-6 different queues during the next 24 hours, changing flights, getting vouchers for a hotel and meals, catching a cab to some hotel, rebooking flights again and again. At least in those days the airlines put us up when bad weather interrupted our flights.
I managed to get out by noon the next day, but it sure was a challenging welcome for a recruiting trip.
I was reminded of this recruiting trip by the blizzard that hit the US middle-east this weekend.
The blizzard that hit London that year was pretty serious (though not as serious as the blizzards of 1977-78). According to one report,
1971 A 5 day long blizzard in London, Ontario dumps 62cm snow and kills 3. It was the worst blizzard in decades
And here is a column from newspaper in a nearby town describing that storm.
We may complain about weather forecasting, but it is one heckuva lot better now than it was 45 years ago!
I have railed relentlessly in the past about "Storm Porn" and about how forecasters and mediots so often focus on worst-case scenarios --- forecasters because they don't want to be held responsible if things turn out to be worse than forecast [someone called it CYA forecasting]; mediots because drama sells and pumps up ratings. [see this, this, and this]
For the storm this weekend that hit the U.S. middle east, forecasters got it wrong on the low side, though. From the NYTimes, this is the map of how much snow was being forecast on Friday afternoon.
And this is how much actually fell over Friday and Saturday:
That storm was MUCH worse than anticipated. And now these places have to figure out how to remove so much snow and then where to put it all!
It would seem unlikely with today's technology that sailors could convince a mapmaker to put an island on the map that didn't exist; it would seem even more unlikely that mapmakers would remove an island that actually existed from a map.
Both have happened, though. And in rare instances, these errors have continued to plague cartographers:
I wasn't allowed to swear as I grew up. Even "hell" and "damn" were forbidden. I heard my mother and father each use the word "damn" only once while I was growing up.
Of course I cut loose when I went away to college (as did my sister, on a much smaller scale, as I recall).
When our children were growing up, I not only swore in front of them, I didn't care if they swore so long as they weren't being hurtful to others.
At times our children would take delight in inviting friends over just to prove they could swear at home.
I gather, from something my older son (David Ricardo Palmer) related to me later, that I didn't emphasize strongly enough that there were some words that it was fine to use at home, in front of us, but that might offend others. The result is that he rarely swears now.
I was reminded of these things from reading this article on FB about "5 Reasons I Don't Give an Eff about Swearing in Front of My Kids." The five reasons, roughly summarize are:
Okay don't think much of this list. I try not to swear much in front of people who would rather I didn't. I don't swear at all in front of audiences during mystery dinner theatre shows, and I cut down on my swearing considerably in front of relatives whom I know do not appreciate it. And I try to avoid swearing in front of strangers until I think it might be acceptable.
But I do like to swear, and quite a bit. [see this about my swearing in the classroom] And so despite not agreeing with and not buying the reasons given in that article, I still sympathized with it. .... so long as parents have my extension of point #2 clear with their children.
I recently saw the guidelines to physicians for prescribing medicinal THC for pain relief. This is what my friend Jack SAYS they are (I think he may have changed something):
The goal for the optimal prescribed dose should be
to improve pain relief and function but with minimal
cognitive impairment and maximum euphoria..
Snubbing someone by being on your phone instead of paying attention to them is known as "Phubbing".
This article explains it, but I think it applies to more than just life partners.
[R]esearchers interviewed 145 people and found that 46% had been ‘phubbed’ by their partner – and that 37% felt depressed.
Study lead author Dr James A. Roberts said, ‘What we discovered was that when someone perceived that their partner phubbed them, this created conflict and led to lower levels of reported relationship satisfaction.
‘These lower levels of relationship satisfaction, in turn, led to lower levels of life satisfaction and, ultimately, higher levels of depression.’
Co-author Dr Meredith David said, ‘In everyday interactions with significant others, people often assume that momentary distractions by their cell phones are not a big deal.
‘However, our findings suggest that the more often a couple’s time spent together is interrupted by one individual attending to his/her cellphone, the less likely it is that the other individual is satisfied in the overall relationship.’
For an upcoming show, I thought it might be fun if the character I'm playing wore knickers.
So I went to Amazon.ca to look for some. I was expecting golf knickers, not what I saw.
As I said, Wow! Knickers at Amazon.ca. I had no idea.
Yesterday morning I took these four watches to a local establishment to have the batteries replaced. Guess the total bill (in Cdn $). They are all waterproof, and replacing the batteries without messing up the gaskets takes some experience and care. Also, three of the four were removed from the straps (and then replaced at the end) and all were reset to the correct date and time.
Yeah four very similar watches. Why so many? Note that all four have Indiglo, coupled with the greenish dials that show the numbers well in bright lights.
My previous posts about watches:
About a decade or so ago, I learned about gratitude. I had felt gratitude often in my life, but I had never felt almost bathed in it.
I think the transition came as I began to reflect on all the wonderful things that I had experienced in my life and as I began to stop dwelling on the things that had upset me.
Arthur Brooks has written about gratitude in a recent piece in the NYTimes (ht King): Choose to be Grateful. It Will Make You Happier.
For many people, gratitude is difficult, because life is difficult. Even beyond deprivation and depression, there are many ordinary circumstances in which gratitude doesn’t come easily. This point will elicit a knowing, mirthless chuckle from readers whose Thanksgiving dinners are usually ruined by a drunk uncle who always needs to share his political views. Thanks for nothing. ....If grinning for an uncomfortably long time like a scary lunatic isn’t your cup of tea, try expressing gratitude instead. According to research published in the journal Cerebral Cortex, gratitude stimulates the hypothalamus (a key part of the brain that regulates stress) and the ventral tegmental area (part of our “reward circuitry” that produces the sensation of pleasure).
It’s science, but also common sense: Choosing to focus on good things makes you feel better than focusing on bad things.....
There are concrete strategies that each of us can adopt.
First, start with “interior gratitude,” the practice of giving thanks privately. Having a job that involves giving frequent speeches — not always to friendly audiences — I have tried to adopt the mantra in my own work of being grateful to the people who come to see me.
Next, move to “exterior gratitude,” which focuses on public expression. The psychologist Martin Seligman, father of the field known as “positive psychology,” gives some practical suggestions on how to do this. In his best seller “Authentic Happiness,” he recommends that readers systematically express gratitude in letters to loved ones and colleagues. A disciplined way to put this into practice is to make it as routine as morning coffee. Write two short emails each morning to friends, family or colleagues, thanking them for what they do.
Finally, be grateful for useless things. It is relatively easy to be thankful for the most important and obvious parts of life — a happy marriage, healthy kids or living in America. But truly happy people find ways to give thanks for the little, insignificant trifles. Ponder the impractical joy in Gerard Manley Hopkins’s poem “Pied Beauty”...
I expect two other things may have helped me.
We had a lovely snowfall last night. The trees were beautiful, and I knew what I had to do
Snow Stomp Art
The inner artist in me awoke at the crack of dawn and dragged me out of bed to do this work, which I call "The House of the Rising Sun".
Thanks to Ms Eclectic for taking those photos of the work in progress.
Here's the final product:
Previous examples of my snow stomp art:
When I see kids rewarded for throwing tantrums as parents give in to them, it bugs me. The parents who give in are teaching the kids that "no" doesn't mean "no".
It turns out there's a multicultural problem with understanding "no", too.
Hoping to combat the disproportionate number of rapes committed by immigrants and their descendants, a number of political parties are pushing for sexual education to be included in the Danish language courses provided to foreigners, Metroxpress reported.Between 2013 and 2014, 34.5 percent of all individuals convicted of rape were immigrants or their descendants despite those groups only accounting for roughly 12 percent of Denmark’s total population. ...“It’s difficult if you come from a country where women never go out,” she said. “When you see a girl with a short skirt dancing at a party late in the evening, what kind of message will it give you?”“It’s important to tell them that this kind of behaviour or clothing doesn’t mean that it’s allowed for you to go the whole way. If a girl says ‘no’, it’s a ‘no’.”