Category Archives: Uncategorized

Recent Reading – Psychology, Politics, Religion

The best non-fiction book I have read in the last ten years, easily, is “The Righteous Mind – Why Good People are Divided by Politics and Religion” by Jonathan Haidt. I won’t spoil it for you by trying to summarize… instead, you should click that link and buy it right away and read it as soon as it gets into your hands. I finished reading it a few weeks ago now, and I can’t stop thinking about it, applying it, seeing it play out in real life, and wishing more of my friends and family and colleagues would also read it.

I also have some in-progress reading.

I’m making my way through “Cynical Theories” – very interesting analysis of Post-Modernism (philosophy).

And I’m re-reading, and studying carefully, “The Prosperity of Humankind” a short document released in 1995 by the Baha’i International Community. Again, even though it is short, a summary is difficult. I am (re-)learning a great deal about the spiritual principles behind creating a prosperous global civilization. My favourite point in the document is the importance of justice (the spiritual principle) in the creation of prosperity.

Seeing Bias in News

I’ve just subscribed to an app called Ground.News which is a fabulous way of looking at news stories from the perspective of various news publishers. Not only that, but you can see it from multiple geographical regions and even see which publishers have picked up a story (and therefore which have not).

Since I signed up with the professional subscription, I have a referral code to give out. Go to and enter 022212.

Open Source: White-Spaces

A couple months ago I started contributing to an open source tool called “Spacedeck Open”. I was very excited about it, and had some early success with getting pull requests accepted. Lately, however, the maintainer has gone mostly silent and I’ve had a PR pending for over 6 weeks. So I decided to fork the tool and create my own version of it in collaboration with another person also frustrated with the slow pace of work. The new repository is called White-Spaces and it is a live virtual white board tool.

If you’re interested in this sort of thing, check out white-spaces on GitHub.

Types of Gifts

Late in December, and specifically over Christmas, I visited my brother, Alexei, in Vancouver. I brought my two youngest daughters, Verity and Ocean. My brother informed me that we would be doing a gift exchange about a month before we came… sometime in November. This stressed me out for a lot of reasons. But in thinking about it, and discussing it with my brother, I thought of a categorization scheme for types of gifts:

Useful Gifts

These are, simply, gifts that the receiver is likely to find useful. Pots and pans, containers, lawn mowers, etc. If you are buying someone a gift in this category, it helps to know if they actually need it… so these gifts are usually based on need.

Personal Gifts

This is a gift that you make “by hand” using your own creativity. These are the sorts of gifts that become keepsakes or get put on display for a time. As a giver, these are the gifts that show vulnerability and connection to the receiver. Creating a poem or hand-making a sweater are examples of these types of gifts.

Experiential Gifts

These are the gifts of time which allow both the giver and the receiver to experience something together. The receiver of this type of gift almost always is being exposed to a new experience. Anything as simple as going to a newly-released movie or as complex as a multi-week joint vacation to a new place fall into this category.

Fun Gifts

Fun gifts are meant to bring a smile or laugh to the receiver. Fun gifts are often the least personal and can be considered a “backup plan” if you are struggling to figure out what type of gift to get someone. Generally speaking, fun gifts are disposable or re-giftable.

So what did I get my brother and his family this past Christmas? Well, I tried to make it cover as many categories as possible… so I got him an AnyCubic Photo S 3D Printer, and I helped him print a custom wedding ring he had designed many years ago. Useful (at least potentially), experiential (because of working on getting it running and printing the ring together), and personal. Unfortunately, I don’t think he’s used it since I was there 10 weeks ago!

What I Read, Normally

I admit that I rarely read professionally any more… maybe one or two books a year.  Honestly, the books in the business genre mostly just started sounding repetitive and/or derivative and/or silly.

So instead, I’ll share some more personal reading choices:
For the last five years I’ve been relearning and expanding my learning about mathematics, mostly in number theory and algebra.  I admit that although starting all these books quite some time ago, I haven’t been able to finish any of them yet.  They are extremely challenging but I find myself grinning or laughing out loud sometimes at the beauty of mathematics.

  • “Abstract Algebra” by Dummit and Foote
  • “Elliptic Tales: Curves, Counting and Number Theory” by Ash and Gross
  • “Proofs from THE BOOK” by Aigner, Ziegler, et. al.

Since I was about 12 or 13 years old I’ve been an avid reader of science fiction and fantasy.  My three favorite authors of all time in these genres are Robin Hobb (“Assassin’s Apprentice” series), Stephen R. Donaldson (“Thomas Covenant, the Unbeliever” series) and Orson Scott Card (“Ender’s Game” series).  Recently, I’ve started browsing my local chain bookstores (Indigo/Chapters here in Canada), taking photos of interesting-looking books, and then buying them in Apple Books and reading them on my iPhone.  Here are my three recent reads that I consider good:

  • “The Rook” by Daniel O’Malley”The Hive” by Orson Scott Card
  • “The War Within” by Stephen R. Donaldson
  • “Night Without Stars” by Peter F. Hamilton
  • “The War Within” by Stephen R. Donaldson

A bit of philosophy and/or science also passes my eyes from time to time.  I particularly enjoyed these two:

  • “Mind and Cosmos” by Thomas Nagel – A critic of materialistic naturalism.
  • “The Fabric of the Cosmos” by Brian Greene – An introduction to (relatively) modern cosmology and physics.

I have done _some_ professional reading lately.  I tend to only read stuff that I hear recommended lots of times or stuff that’s likely to challenge my mindset.  I’m not normally looking for the latest and greatest, and I almost never read anything about “agile” methods anymore… it’s probably been at least 5 years since I read an “agile” industry book.

  • “Creativity, Inc.” by Ed Catmull – I’ve been a fan of Pixar since the early 1990’s when I started doing professional development for NeXTSTEP and discovered Renderman.
  • “Thinking, Fast and Slow” by Daniel Kahneman – I read this after reading a kind of biography of Kahneman and Tversky,…
  • “The Undoing Project” by Michael Lewis which brought me to sobbing tears at the end.

FWIW, I regularly re-read the Scrum Guide… not necessarily all at once, but skimming or focusing in on particular parts.  I’m often surprised at what I find.  It’s a good document in many ways, and as I teach and practice Scrum, I find an organic synthesis between the real life experience and the words written there.

Those are the four “big” categories of my reading over the last decade.  I read other types of books too, but not enough to consider them categories that I really appreciate and come back to.

Sabbatical Day 8 – Book Done!

My book is finally complete and published and ready to purchase!  It is called “I Am Not a Great Leader – A Short Primer on Leading to Real Agility”.  You can purchase the ePub version on (click the image to go to the purchase page).  It will be available on Amazon, Kobo, iBookstore, etc. soon.

Book Cover Image: I Am Not a Great Leader - A Short Primer on Leading to Real Agility

If you would like to review it _and_ provide me with feedback for the second version, I can send you a PDF copy at no charge.  Please contact me through LinkedIn to do so.  I hope to do a second version with even more content and incorporating feedback from this first version sometime in the late fall or early winter.  Depends on how my classes are going.

Yesterday (Friday), I enjoyed going to school with Justice.  He had an 8:30 class and I had a 10:30 class.  I explored a bit while he was in his class and then we met up again. He came to my class with me.  It was my Mathematics 2155 class which is about proofs and logic.  It’s going to be quite easy, I suspect.  Based on the textbook and where we are starting the class, I’m actually worried I will be bored.  I’m going to have to work hard to not work ahead!  So to help with that, I’m going to do _all_ the exercises in the book as we go.  That will keep me busy, at least.

I’m trying hard to shift my habits to being more helpful around the house.  I think the first few days of my sabbatical were lacking in that regard.  Yesterday and today were better, but I think I can do more. Dishes, groceries, errands, tidying, taking care of kids and pets,… I’m hoping to relieve Melanie of more and more of that over the next week or so.  It takes a bit of work for me to even see what Melanie does to keep the household running.  It’s amazing all the little things, and particularly, all the little interruptions.  Hmm… that gives me an idea.  Maybe Melanie could try using the office during the day to get work done – leave the house! I’ll see what she thinks of it tomorrow.

Other little tidbits in the last couple days:

  • Haifa got her hair cut quite short.  It looks good and I can tell she really likes it.
  • Justice and I are planning to go to another Magic the Gathering pre-release in a few weeks.
  • Verity has done incredibly well biking to school on her own every day.  Now I need to help her with the bus route.
  • Ocean is suffering from some sort of anxiety that is triggering frequent hand-washing.  This is a relatively new thing and I’m hoping I can help her resolve her anxiety.  I played with polymer clay with her today, and also did some drawing with her.
  • Melanie and I haven’t done anything together for a few weeks.  We thought of maybe going to see a movie, but there isn’t really anything worth going to in the theatres right now that we haven’t already seen.
  • Yesterday afternoon was the Waldorf school fall picnic.  I met a very nice couple from Brazil. I hope to have them come visit and invite my colleague David and his wife since they are also Brazilian.  (David, if you’re reading this, don’t worry – I’ll give you lots of notice!)
  • I’ve been napping almost every day.  I think it’s a combination of allergies and fighting off a bit of a cold.

As a result of publishing my book, and also having started my classes, my personal kanban board has some significant updates.  Here’s the current state:

20180908 Personal Kanban Board

Arts and Family

Melanie has signed us up for pottery classes starting in late September. We will go with Verity and Ocean. I haven’t done any pottery for decades. I think we will have fun doing it as a family. Haifa, Verity and Ocean have been doing pottery lessons for a while and they created some really beautiful stuff. We will be going to The London Potters Guild facilities.

The London Potters Guild

664 Dundas St, London, ON N5W 2Y8

(519) 434-1664

Archive Journal Entry: 20021225

I finally finished the "Liveship Traders" series… WOW! That is one cool series, and it is really neet how it ties in with Robin Hobb‘s previous series. I don’t think I have been so affected so many times by a work of fiction.

I bought a few DVD’s: "Lilo & Stitch", "Monsters, Inc.", "Ice Age", "Monster’s Ball" and "Amelie". I haven’t watched any of them yet on DVD, but I have seen both "Ice Age" and "Monsters, Inc.". My brother recommended "Lilo & Stitch" and I heard from a magazine article about Netflix that "Monster’s Ball" was very well regarded. "Amelie" just intrigues me… I watched "Lilo & Stitch" I loved it. It’s quite the tear-jerker, but then I’m a real sucker for loyalty movies.

Melanie, Justice, Haifa, Alexei and I are all visiting my dad’s family in Fort McMurray, Alberta. We got here on the 20th. We arrived at the Edmonton airport. My dad picked us up at the airport in his Suburban. That was at midnight Ontario time. We then drove for five more hours north of Edmonton to get to Fort McMurray. Suffice it to say, we didn’t get much sleep. Melanie and Haifa both got sicker. Haifa actually has had a pretty bad fever for the last three days (around 39 degrees Celsius). It was mostly better today, but this evening it came back. If it stays bad much longer, we’ll probably take her in to a doctor since she also isn’t drinking as much as she should be.

I’ve looked all over Fort McMurray for a hard drive enclosure. I want to get an enclosure that has both Firewire and USB2.0 so that I can transport a small hard drive between Toronto and Jersey City instead of a heavy laptop. I found one at Staples for CA$149 that is decent, but it is just USB2.0. Still, maybe I’ll get it.

I’m hoping that Melanie, Alexei and dad (Garry) will make an agreement so that Melanie will do work to promote Lex and dad’s careers. Alexei and dad don’t know too much about promotion, and they are particularly blind to the methods when they try to apply them to themselves. I’m hoping that Melanie can spend a couple hours each week for both of them to help do some basic stuff. I’ve got some ideas: apply for grants, look for speaking/exhibition opportunities, work on websites and other marketing materials, do cold-call promotion to corporations, etc. The problem seems to be that Melanie also has no sense of what to do for them. Personally, I don’t think it really matters: an extra few hours a week of almost anything will help 🙂 I hope that I can get involved a little as well. I also hope that she will be able to spend some time working on my business needs such as a web site, looking for side contracts, doing taxes and other paperwork and working on financial management (investing a float).