Monthly Archives: September 2018

Sabbatical Day 29 – Skin and Clay

Yesterday I went for my first ever tanning session at a tanning salon.  I’m trying to keep my summer tan until we go to Panama in late December.  The woman at the front, Dee, was extremely helpful.  She was friendly and didn’t assume I knew anything which was nice.  She sold me a little thing for protecting my eyes, and didn’t sell me tanning lotion.  She explained the options for purchasing time and didn’t pressure me on any particular option.  She did, however, recommend that I purchase time on the stand-up tanning system because of my height; the beds would probably be challenging for me.  She might have actually been referring to my girth too, but she did it in such a way that I wasn’t at all made uncomfortable.  She showed me the system which was in a very small private room, and explained that the fan to keep the heat down would be very noisy (which it was).  She recommended 8 to 10 minutes for a first session, and I chose 10.  So she left me to undress in the room and start the system.  It was kinda boring.  Standing looking at bright UV lamps through very dark eye pieces, and of course, with no where to go, no significant room to move, too much noice to listen to things in headphones, for ten minutes uninterrupted is boring.  The system shut down and I got out.  They provide a towel, but honestly it wasn’t hot enough for me to break out in a bad sweat – just some very minor moisture on my forehead.  Next time I go, I’ll take a photo and share it here.  When I got out, Dee asked me how it was, and that was it!  Simple, quick.  Now, a day and a half later, I can’t see any difference, but I don’t expect to after one short session.  Dee recommended 12 minutes as a normal session length, and two or three times a week.  I plan to go again on Monday.

Today, Melanie, Verity, Ocean and I went to our first family pottery class.  All three of them have been to pottery classes recently at the same place – I’m the newbie.  It was great fun!  It’s a 3.5 hour session every weekend with a fantastic instructor, Cathy, who also had met my family before.  We did “slab” pottery.  Basically, you take a hunk of clay and pull it through a roller a few times to get it to be a thin slab – approx 5 mm thick in the case of mine.  The ladies made mugs.  I decided to do something a bit different: I made book ends.  Here is a couple photos of what I made – the clay is still wet so the color will be much lighter when they are fired.

Left clay book-end

right clay book-end

It took me pretty much the whole class to do them.  My next project will be to do something that is in the art nouveau style which I love.

In other news, my new assignment for Math 3020, is again super-hard!!!  Ug.

Sabbatical Day 27 – Feeling Good

Today I got back my first marks for any assignment.  I turned in my assignment for Math 3020 on Tuesday and the professor returned them today.  I got 20/20.  The prof made a couple comments including that one of my proofs was too complicated, and that some of my notes for a different exercise were good observations.  This is the assignment that I worked crazy number of hours to complete.  The prof also gave us our second assignment.  It looks equally challenging.  This time around I have to be careful about how much extra work I create for myself; last time I did _all_ of the exercises in the textbook not just the ones assigned as homework.  Perhaps this time I will do the homework exercises first and then go back to do some additional exercises from the textbook as time permits.  Here is a photo of my grade for my first assignment:

Homework Assignment Math 3020 Score

Sabbatical Day 26 – Missed Class, Homework

Today was the first day I missed a class.  Honestly, it’s because I was unwise with my sleep schedule.  I bought a couple books yesterday and read one of them cover-to-cover and read about half the other.  Both are fiction.  And I stayed up until after 3am doing so.  I got up in the morning anyway, and when I discovered that Justice had already left for class by bus, and didn’t need a ride from me, I decided to go back to bed.  I didn’t really consciously think about it but I didn’t set another alarm so I slept in until 11am – and missed my class from 10:30 to 11:20.  Honestly, it’s not a hard class, but I really can’t miss them regularly because I need to keep up with the concepts and terminology.  I’m still a bit ahead of the class in reading the textbook so there’s that.

So given how late I woke up, I decided to ask Melanie to go to lunch with me.  We had a very nice date.  We talked a bit about work (almost inevitable), but mostly just enjoyed our food and company at a great little place called “Which is Wich” downtown London.  The “Wahn Mi” is an excellent choice if you find yourself there.  After lunch, I came home and spent a bit of time on the phone with a colleague.  There are some “adjustment pains” that are partly related to me being on sabbatical.  I’m not going to go into any detail here, but suffice it to say that I believe it is part of the maturation of BERTEIG that various large and small crises will be dealt with.  One of the things about BERTEIG is that there is no individual positional authority in the organization.  The “management” structure is that the three Partners, myself, Melanie and Travis, must make significant decisions as a group (usually unanimously) in order for them to be valid.  This includes hiring, firing, major changes to people’s roles or other structural aspects of the business, strategy, business goals, large spending decisions, etc.  It’s an experiment in governance that is based in part on the Baha’i principle of consultation.  The key concepts include that consultation is about searching for truth, that consultation results in united action,, ideas are not owned by individuals, and that conflicting ideas (not conflicting people) leads to truth.

After my colleague’s phone call, I basically just continued to read my new novel for much of the day until dinner time.  After dinner, Verity, Haifa and I went to the Baha’i community gathering in our neighbourhood.  Haifa brought along her dog Katara who is being trained to be a service dog.  She (Katara) did very well in her first social setting.  She was mostly calm, obedient, and quiet.  It wasn’t perfect – she’s a puppy and she had a small pee accident – but everyone at the gathering enjoyed her presence.

After the gathering, Verity started to feel quite anxious about her homework project.  She and I spent about two hours working on it together.  She made some good progress and I think she feels much better about it.  She and three others have to create a public service announcement for the London Arts Council.  Verity is tasked with writing the script for the PSA.  So we talked about slogans and other ideas that she could take back to her group tomorrow.  I love being home to help the kids out.

At 11pm I sent Verity to bed and I got on the elliptical.  I’m trying to get significant (30+ min) of exercise every day.  I miss a day here and there, but with biking to school, walking the dog, swimming or the elliptical, I’m doing a pretty good job of getting the activity in.  Yesterday, I took my racing bicycle in to get it tuned up.  I hope to use it a bit before the fall weather gets too cold.  It’s much easier to ride on than my mountain bike, and I can go waaaay faster!  The only problem is that the handlebars are really low so I’m bent over quite far… and my big stomach gets in the way!!!  It’s very uncomfortable and provides some motivation to lose some weight.  So that’s something that I’m officially working on.  The exercise is part of it.  The next part of it is to restrict the hours when I eat to a 8 hour range (e.g. noon to 8pm) to do a mild form of intermittent fasting.  After a week of that, I plan to start adding more vegetables and fruit to my diet.  Currently, I eat very little greens.  It’s probably not healthy.  I eat a bit more fruit, but still it’s only a few times a week, not every day.  Eventually, I’ll try putting limits on some of the more unhealthy things I eat (sugar mostly).  I don’t expect to make rapid changes, but I want to get from my current weight (about 233lbs) down to under 190lbs, and then keep it there.  I also have an intermediate goal.  I hope to be about 215 by mid-December when we go on our family vacation to Panama.

A Logician’s Proof of God

Reading one of my math books this evening (not one of my textbooks) called “The Philosophy of Set Theory” by Mary Tiles, I noticed in the bibliography a book “Foundations of Mathematics” by Hatcher, W. S. and I wondered if it was the William Hatcher who is a logician and a Baha’i.  As it turns out, it is the very same.  Investigating this led me to his wikipedia page and then to an online pdf that outlines his logic-based proof of the existence of a unique, singular, causal God (not any particular religion’s description of God).  It’s an interesting read.  Given that I’m studying logic, set theory and axiomatic systems right now, it was cool to see those applied to this particular question.  I can’t point any holes in the argument and the argument is short, and designed to empirically match scientific understanding about the universe.

Sabbatical Day 23 – Hard Work

I can’t believe it’s already a week since my last post.  This past week has gone by really quickly.  I’ve been working hard on school, mostly.  My first degree, back in the first half of the 90’s, was something I barely worked at.  I spent most of my time socializing with my friends and trying to teach other people about the Baha’i Faith.  In many ways, it was time well spent.  However, my studies suffered grievously; I failed several classes and barely scraped by with a 3-year degree after 5 years of school.  To say that my study habits were poor is an understatement.  I mostly didn’t go to class, I mostly didn’t read the textbooks, I mostly didn’t do assignments.  What I did was I would get classmate’s notes and read them quickly before the exams.  I’d scan the textbooks sometimes.  I begged for late assignments to be accepted (sometimes).

All of this led me to some anxiety about school this second time around.  So, I decided that in order to not repeat my past experience, I would go to every class (barring illness or other truly unavoidable situations), I would keep up with the reading for my classes, and, most importantly, I would do every single exercise in the textbooks along the way.  This has been working well for me… except that it turns out to be a lot of work!  Part of it is that I believe that I am mentally slower than I was 23 years ago.  I might speed up as I continue… in fact I can feel it happening already.  But part of it is that I still have ¼ time work, and I’m spending a lot of time with my family and helping around the house.  So the work for school is really substantial and it is pushing against my time in a way that I didn’t expect.

Anyway, I finished an assignment for my Math 3020 class today.  The assignment itself had one really hard question, and the rest were easy to moderate. The hard question, I spent over 3 hours on it.  And I’m not sure that I got it “right”.  I know that I got the final answer right, but I’m not sure that I will have met the expectations of the prof in terms of the work that I did to get to the answer.  We’ll see.  Anyway, after I finished, I realized that I have a very high expectation for myself: I expect to get high-90’s in both my classes.  I’m pushing myself as close to perfect as I can.

There have been lots of other developments in the past week.  My daughter Verity has started taking the bus to school alone.  I’m proud of her.  She also had a bit of a nervous breakdown mid-week.  I helped her through it a bit, but it’s related to the stress of changing schools.  Her grade 8 class was only six people including herself… her grade 9 class is about 500 people!  She had one teacher for the previous four years… now she has four teachers simultaneously!  We drove her to school every day… now she travels on her own.  Big changes, to be sure.  Anyway, I was glad to be home to talk with her and hold her as she struggled with the stress.

In general, I’ve been spending more time with all the kids.  Justice by driving him and sometimes seeing him briefly on campus.  Haifa by being home and helping her practice driving.  Verity by sometimes biking part of the way to school with her and helping her with her little projects.  And Ocean by being in the same room with her while she draws and I do homework.  I’ve also been walking our dog Toby almost every night and I’ve been cleaning up the kitchen almost every night before I go to sleep.  Melanie has now given me 7 projects, and I’ve completed 5 of them so I’m helping her out a lot too.  Here is my updated personal kanban board:

20180923 Personal Kanban Board

I’m pretty happy about how things have been going so far on my sabbatical.  I still think about work, but not much.  Earlier this evening was nice: my colleague Iryna had her birthday a couple days ago so a few of us went out with her to dinner at a place called “Mythic Grill Greek Cuisine” – the food was fantastic!  We had a nice relaxed visit and talked about all sorts of things including politics, parenting, lethal injections, Russian weddings, and a bit about work.

I have also had a little time for personal relaxation.  I’ve been making my way slowly through “The Flash” on Netflix.  It’s a bit cheesy, but it’s enjoyable enough.  The acting isn’t great, but it’s not terrible.  The writing is a bit formulaic, but there are some nice little surprises.  I also binge-watched the second season of “The Good Place” which I loved (available on Netflix).  Lots of laugh-out-loud moments for me.  I’ve been eating poorer than I hoped (in other words, less healthy, more quantity).  But, I’ve been doing more exercise than I expected and I feel like my fitness level is going up overall.  In particular, cycling to school has been a real joy even though I end up sweaty and exhausted in my classes.

This week I hope to finish publishing “The Scrum Master Guide to Choosing a Retrospective” by Jerry Doucett.  I have to re-do some diagrams to get it to work well with the ePub format.  Then, next weekend, I start pottery lessons with my family!  I’m excited to do some sculptural pottery, not just cups and bowls and stuff.

Sabbatical Day 16 – Busy Weekend

This weekend has been non-stop!  Sat morning was our normal rush of groceries and other errands, but on top of it, both Haifa and Verity are taking horse riding lessons.  Then in the afternoon, we drove to Toronto for my mother-in-law’s birthday dinner.  We ate at Congee Queen on Steeles near Hwy 404.  My sister-in-law, Kristine and her husband Matt and daughter Jade were there along with Melanie’s grandmother.  It was a nice dinner.  One perk is that my mother-in-law knows the manager there and so I was able to keep a nice pair of chopsticks (some practice from my Math 3020 class in the background).

Congee Queen Chopsticks

Congee Queen Chopsticks - Detail

Speaking of math, I’ve been doing the exercises in my math textbooks in addition to any homework assigned.  I figure this is a reasonable way of studying.  I don’t really know how to study since in my previous attempt at university-level “studies” I neither attended classes reliably, nor read the textbooks, nor took good notes.  So, I’m finding that as an adult I have a much much higher level of responsibility and capability to study.  It’s fun.  That said, I’m also a bit worried; the time it takes me to do many of the problems presented is quite long and so when exams come, I fear that I won’t be able to do math fast enough.  That was never a problem before.  In times past, I would complete math exams in ⅓ the time given and always get over 90% on them.  Now, I’m not so certain.  Slower brain may make my exams a challenge. The good side is that so far I’m finding the exercises and homework easy.  Maybe that will change too!

Anyway, continuing with my busy weekend, today was also full.  In the morning, first thing, we went to a powwow held at the Museum of Ontario Archaeology.  Verity and I shot some arrows, and Ocean got a little painted tattoo on her arm.  Then we went inside for the Hand Drumming Workshop which was actually a very beautiful experience led by Bill Hill.  We stayed for some of the dancing of the powwow and then went home.  At home, we had a number of young people visiting in the afternoon and early evening to watch the third movie in the Harry Potter series.  My daughter Haifa is a big fan and every year leading up to Halloween she watches the whole series.  There was also lots of housework and driving around today.  Even though it was brief, one nice bit was taking Justice to Staples to pick up some of the artwork he had printed.  He’s done a really nice job on several drawings and they turned out well printed.  He had to make a bunch of adjustments to his monitor to get it so that what he sees on the monitor matches what he prints (the first couple prints were way too dark).

I’ve made some good progress on my projects for the sabbatical.  This is an updated view of my personal Kanban board.  Compare it to last week’s.

Personal Kanban Board 20180916

Sabbatical Day 13 – Apple Watch Series 4

Well, yesterday Apple announced the new Series 4 watch.  Two big disappointments for me: no ceramic version, and Canada won’t get the EKG feature (at least not in any specified time).  Darn it!  I was really hoping to get a new one, but I really don’t see the point of doing so without those two things.  I have the Series 2 ceramic Apple Watch, and I love it.  So I’ll wait some more and maybe start looking for another vendor for my next fashion/fitness/tech accessory.

Today I cycled to school again.  I love the exercise – and while I’m in better shape than I used to be, I’m still not in “good” shape for cycling.  It’s an 8.5km ride each way and it takes me about 30 minutes.  Lots of hills.  There’s a segment on city streets.  This morning I left at the same time as Verity so that we could travel together for that segment.  Then there’s a bunch of walking/cycle paths along the Thames river valley.  It’s a lovely start to the morning.  The only thing is that I get _really_ sweaty!!  After I cycled home, I jumped in the pool – without looking at the temperature – and it was freezing!!!  I could only do 6 lengths before I had to get out because of the cold.  I’m not sure of the temperature, but I’m guessing it was somewhere between 15 C and 18 C.  Not dangerous, but super uncomfortable!

One of my in-progress projects is to help Haifa with her driving and preparing for her road test. Today we went out for about half an hour to practice parallel parking and three point turns.  She made great progress, but I started getting super tired.  I think I ate something that didn’t agree with me and so we ended a bit sooner than I expected.  Then I took a 4 hour nap!  I’m likely to be up late tonight.  Anyway, I suspect that my dad’s garlic allergy is affecting me.  I have to try avoiding garlic to see if that is the case.

Tonight I’m doing my first official homework assignment for school.  It’s a sheet of six questions adapted from the textbook for Math 2155.  Here are a couple example questions:

Rewrite the following English statements as logical statements. (a) John and Bill are both telling the truth or neither of them is.

Make truth tables for the following formulas: (a) ¬[P∧(Q∨¬P)]

Honestly, it feels a bit like busy-work for me.  My computer science degree covered all this stuff in depth, and even worse, I got into this stuff as a kid somewhere around grade 7 or 8 so I’ve been doing logic and truth tables like, forever!  Anyway, I’ll get it done quickly and hopefully I won’t make any stupid errors.  That’s my most common problem with math.  I’ll let all y’all know when I get my grades.  Here’s hoping for 100% on my first assignment…  Incidentally, Verity is struggling with the same problem with her math in grade 9 – it’s super easy, boring review.  I feel for her.


Sabbatical Day 12 – I’m Exhausted!

My third work day in a row including five hours of driving for my class in Toronto.  Ug.  Don’t get me wrong… the class was great – full of energy, and my colleague Jerry Doucett was amazing as usual – but my sleep has been erratic and my eating has been poor, and I’ve been getting way more exercise than normal (good), and I had my colleague Forbes Benning with me on the drive in to Toronto (good, but exhausting due to my introversion)… anyway, I don’t want to complain too much… oh… and I’ve had a significant amount of reading and homework from my classes.

Anyway, I’ll keep this short.  I am incredibly thankful to be able to help out my family and spend more time with them and these few days of work-focus with extended hours have made me even more grateful about this time on sabbatical.  (Full days of work will be rare.  I’m not teaching again until October 16th.)

So, without further ado, good night dear readers.

Sabbatical Day 11 – 2 Work Days

Yesterday, Monday the 10th, the Partners of BERTEIG met with our financial advisor Don.  We discussed a number of strategic topics including how to deal with a gig that is not even breaking even due to unexpected costs.  Overall it was a good meeting, but I had forgotten about it so it actually annoyed me quite a bit.  Today, I was at the first day of my CSM.  I decided to commute by rail to and from Toronto same day.  I enjoyed that.  Tomorrow is the second day and I will go in again, but this time I will drive.

Yesterday I also had the second of my MATH 2155 classes.  I’m _really_ worried that it is going to be extremely boring.  The textbook is easy, the classes are super easy, and the pace is slow.  Now, it’s only been two classes so I’m going to give it a bit more time, but I’m also going to talk with an academic counsellor tomorrow morning if I can to ask about other options.  The MATH 3020 class is much more interesting.  So that’s good.

I’ve also started doing a lot more biking and I’m finding it both challenging and enjoyable.  My fitness is okay, but my strength is still low so hills are challenging.  Today on my bike ride I felt serious burn in my quads because I really pushed myself to run up the hills.  I’ll see how they are tomorrow!

A friend of mine on Facebook doxed a public figure.  I found this to be offensive, so I reported it as not meeting the Facebook community standards, and they removed the post (Facebook did). It only took them a few minutes to respond.  I was actually quite impressed with how responsive they were.  The reporting system is anonymous and I haven’t told my friend that I did this (and I won’t identify that person here).  However, I felt that no one should go through a doxing, regardless of what they have done, and in this particular case, it was really a difference of opinions, not even a matter for semi-justifiable vigilante justice.  If that friend figures out I did this, I hope they will ask me for a discussion about it, but I suspect that person will just unfriend/block me.  I hope not, because I appreciate our discussions and seeing their posts.

I listen to the No Agenda podcast and I finished listening to episode 1067 while on the train today.  Excellent episode, but not their normal thing.  They did two interviews including an interesting interview with Scott Adams, the creator of Dilbert, in which he explains a bit about his perspective on Trump as a master influencer.  I found it fascinating.

Sabbatical Day 9 – Sleep and Expedite

I stayed up late last night finishing my book.  Afterwards, I was pretty exhausted.  So what did I do?  What any introverted insomniac does: I watched Netflix until about 5am.  As a result, I slept in until about 11.  Then did a couple hours of cleaning around the house.  Haifa had some friends over to start the annual Harry Potter movie marathon before halloween, so I watched “The Philosopher’s Stone” with them.  I started feeling sleepy before the end of the movie so I went to lie down and have a short nap… which turned into a 3 hour nap.  Now I have no idea how I’ll get to sleep tonight!  I’ve got to get up at about 6am so I’m in a bit of a pickle.

One of the chores I did today was a request from Melanie for my “expedite” lane on my personal kanban board: “Affix hook near back for for hanging leash”.  This turned into a much bigger project than expected because the spot she wanted it has no studs to anchor and because the hook doesn’t have holes big enough to accommodate screws.  So I designed a simple plate to mount onto the wall that would allow screws and drywall anchor plugs and then affix the hook to that plate with small nails.  That, of course, also involved painting the plate so that it would match the trim colour (white).  I enjoyed getting out my small tools to do a nice job of it, and I think it worked well.  Here’s a photo of the end result:

Hook mounted on wall.