guessing better than planning

Why Career Planning Is Time Wasted

bq. One group has to choose which sandwiches they want for an entire week in advance. The other group gets to choose which they want each day. A fascinating thing happens. People who choose their favourite sandwich each day at lunchtime also often choose the same sandwich. This group turns out to be reasonably happy with its choice.

bq. Amazingly, though, people choosing in advance assume that what they’ll want for lunch next week is a variety. And so they choose a turkey sandwich Monday, tuna on Tuesday, egg on Wednesday and so on. It turn out that when next week rolls around they generally don’t like the variety they thought they would. In fact they are significantly less happy with their choices than the group who chose their sandwiches on the day.

posted at 4:58 pm on Tuesday, January 30, 2007 in Links | Comments Off on guessing better than planning

young children understand irony

From BPS RESEARCH DIGEST: Do young children understand irony?

bq. Some children as young as six already understand the idea that people make sarcastic remarks, saying one thing but meaning another, according to psychologists Penny Pexman and Melanie Glenwright.

bq. The children found ironic criticisms – such as “that was great play” – easier to understand than ironic compliments. A grasp of the speaker’s true belief emerged first, then an understanding of the speaker’s attitude and intention to tease tended to emerge together, usually in the older children.

My kids are already experimenting with dishing out sarcasm…

posted at 11:55 am on Monday, January 29, 2007 in Personal, Science and Technology | Comments (1)
  1. Conrad says:

    Yeah, A.’s already got the hang of sarcasm. Comes by it very naturally. S.’s got a way to go, but she’s already got the teenage exasperated/demanding routine down pat.


To “wordpress 2.1”:

posted at 2:52 pm on Friday, January 26, 2007 in Site News | Comments (2)
  1. Nita says:

    I just realised I’m on your blogroll. I think I’m honoured.

  2. Reid says:

    What, if anything, have you noticed about version 2.1? I haven’t seen anything that prompts me to upgrade any more blogs than just mine so far..

nuke your sponges

you have nothing to lose but your germs!

‘Waving’ Goodbye to a Kitchen Hazard

bq. A team of University of Florida Engineering researchers have come to the conclusion that microwaving plastic scrubbers and kitchen sponges on full power can destroy practically 100% of the bacteria and viruses, parasites or spores collected on them.

(via “diane duane”:

posted at 10:57 am on Wednesday, January 24, 2007 in Links, Science and Technology | Comments (1)
  1. Nita says:

    I remember that from when I was working full time in food industry as something well known. I also remember seeing something on one of the Food Network shows about 2 years ago about how to properly disinfect kitchen sponges/scrubbers, that basically said “Nuke the heck out of them.”

    I wonder when the original study did come out.

pinery trip

We’ve booked our Pinery site for this year, as have several others.

We ‘stole’ Michelle’s site from last year (which she’s grumpy about, because it’s closest to the washrooms :). I liked our site from last year, but the layout of the trees at the driveway would make it hard to back a trailer in, and I don’t want that to be my *first* experience with the trailer on a campsite! (I plan to spend some time in a parking lot with pylons before going anywhere, but that’s not really the same…).

posted at 12:52 pm on Monday, January 22, 2007 in Personal | Comments Off on pinery trip

trailer research

We’re planning several driving trips in the next five years, and are looking into buying a pop-up trailer instead of renting trailers or RVs. In theory, owning is cheaper than renting over the long run, and it gives us more flexibility.

We’ve looked into the possibility of renting a trailer or RV, but it’s not cheap. It’s not the insanely expensive that RV rentals are (I can go to Disney for a week or rent an RV for three weeks…). Reasonably sized popup trailers seem to rent for about $500/wk. For our first summer vacation, we’ll be gone longer than three weeks, so that’s $2000 right there. I can buy a reasonable used (and sometimes new) trailer for only 3-4 times that, and as we plan to take more than one long trailer vacation, we think we’re better off purchasing. Owning also gives us the option of taking 3-4 day trips across the various weekends that the kids are out of school and have no Holiday Program coverage, instead of sitting at home.

From what I’ve seen of the used market, we shouldn’t have too much trouble breaking even (compared to rentals) even if we change our mind in two years and decide to sell the trailer.

Mick’s uncle has 10 acres in East Gwillimbury and has offered to let us store a trailer there.

Gerry and I are planning to visit a Toronto RV show next weekend, to get an idea on what’s available, what the various sizes actually look like, what features we want vs. can live without, and so on and so on. Gerry already says that an awning is a must. The built-in kitchens are a nice idea, as long as the stove can be moved to the outside of the trailer on hot days.

Towing will be an issue. Even an 8′ trailer seems to be in the 1000-2000 lb range. Our existing car has a 1000lb tow rating (I’m told this is because of the unibody frame, not the engine or suspension); most cars are similar. We have yet to find anyone that rents SUVs or minivans that allows towing a trailer; usually they say it voids the insurance. (We need to find out if our personal auto insurance would allow coverage instead). Renting vans and/or SUVs for 3-4 weeks is also expensive. So we’ve been looking into buying a tow vehicle also, but I’ll write about that separately.

posted at 8:00 pm on Friday, January 19, 2007 in Personal | Comments Off on trailer research

top 10 reasons to procrastinate


posted at 12:38 pm on Tuesday, January 16, 2007 in Humour | Comments Off on top 10 reasons to procrastinate

back again

I’ve got “another spasm”: in my back. Higher up this time, and not as bad as the first one; I can still put my own socks on today :-).

How’d I do it this time, you ask? I got in the car to take the boy to his hockey game. I looked over my shoulder to check for pedestrians before backing out of the driveway. Ouch!

posted at 2:57 pm on Sunday, January 14, 2007 in Personal | Comments (1)
  1. Nita says:

    I know I have mentioned this to you before, and I cannot remember the answer. Have you considered going to a chiropractor for these, babe?

things to do

Things to do this quarter:

* get the leaky summer tires fixed during the winter, when business is slow at the tire place.
* purchase an air conditioner (or two; we might need a separate one for our bedroom because of the ducting).
* find a roofer and book the new roof for the spring.
* -purchase a pop-up / tent trailer. First RV show is this upcoming weekend.-
* -purchase a tow vehicle for said trailer.-
* more crawl space insulation research.
* plan our August vacation.
* plan out the backyard renovation.
* design bookshelves and window seat for bedroom/library.
* design front hall shelving.

posted at 7:34 pm on Saturday, January 13, 2007 in Personal | Comments (1)
  1. Helge Koch says:

    Don’t purchase a pop-up or a tow vehicle. Rent them. A Mazda Tribute will tow a pop-up quite nicely and rents for $700 per week. Several places will rent you the latest in pop-ups. Once tried, you can decide which features you like best. Toilet, heater, AC are the top three on my list. Once you buy one, give it back to the dealer to rent out for you. They maintain it and keep it nice and clean for your use.


Michaela left for Kansas City on Monday morning, so I’ve been single parent this week. So far we’ve had:

– hockey practice, in which the boy injured his knee. Just a nasty bruise, fortunately.
– a lost tooth, with a lot of blood in the process
– one incident of vomit (probably caused by too much swallowed blood :).
– two nights of nose bleeds
– only one night of “I miss mummy!”, which is a good thing
– not nearly enough healthy food. Ah well, a week won’t kill them.

We’re going to the airport tonight to meet her… :)

posted at 10:00 am on Friday, January 12, 2007 in Personal | Comments (2)
  1. Nita says:

    Give her a kiss for me, babe.

  2. David Brake says:

    So is that an average week (except for the “I miss mommy” part)? How often has Micki spent that long away? So much for your being able to shrug and say “oh they were no trouble” when she gets back! (I suppose she reads the blog?!)

car seats again – Infant car seats 2/07: Safety alert, European models, Ratings

bq. You’d think that in a car crash, infants in their cozy car seats would be the most protected passengers of all. But you’d be wrong, our tests reveal.

bq. Cars and car seats can’t be sold unless they can withstand a 30-mph frontal crash. But most cars are also tested in a 35-mph frontal crash and in a 38-mph side crash. Car seats aren’t.

bq. When we crash-tested infant car seats at the higher speeds vehicles routinely withstand, most failed disastrously. The car seats twisted violently or flew off their bases, in one case hurling a test dummy 30 feet across the lab.

I’ve been trying to write a rant on the topic, but can’t seem to get it organized. The fundamental issue for me is that:

– government officials don’t want to scare consumers, so publicly refuse to admit there are any problems.
– manufacturers slip through the cracks, doing the minimum possible to develop and sell products.
– both parties seem more interested in the appearance of safety than in actual risk analysis.

I do not believe that consumers are served by this process, but I’m at a loss to suggest alternatives…

Update 2007/01/21: The whole point is apparently moot:


bq. We withdrew the report immediately upon discovering a substantive issue that may have affected the original test results. The issue came to light based on new information received Tuesday night and Wednesday morning from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) concerning the speed at which our side-impact tests were conducted.

posted at 9:54 am on Friday, January 12, 2007 in Current Events, Links | Comments (1)
  1. Nita says:

    At least part of the problem is that the vast majority of consumers don’t want to have those facts. They want to believe that they’re safe. Hence, the vast overuse of antibiotics and antibiotic soaps, as opposed to working on developing healthy immune systems. *shrug* Government officials give what they’re demanded of in the populous. If people want the illusion of safety, why wouldn’t they give them that? Until there’s enough groundswell to do something different, there’s no incentive *to the government* to change the way they behave.

market share isn’t a very good goal

The New Yorker : talk : content

bq. a study of the performance of twenty major American companies over four decades found that the ones putting more emphasis on market share than on profit ended up with lower returns on investment; of the six companies that defined their goal exclusively as market share, four eventually went out of business.

I’ve believed this for decades. It is perfectly reasonable to be a successful “niche” player in a larger market, eg. Apple Computer.

I work for the sixth largest software company in the world. We used to be the seventh largest, after Electronic Arts. I’m not entirely sure why we think this measure is so important; I’d rather we measured our success, not our size…

posted at 11:14 pm on Wednesday, January 03, 2007 in Links | Comments Off on market share isn’t a very good goal

Top Tens of 2006

From Paul Kedorosky:

bq. “Paul Kedrosky’s Infectious Greed: Top Tens of 2006: Advertising, Movies, Television, Stories, etc.”: You might start by considering that the best-selling album of 2006 was actually the worst-selling best-selling album since Metallica back in 1991. You might also consider that the best-selling album’s sales has fallen steadily over the last five years.

I was surprised to see the title of the top selling album of 2006, although in hindsight I shouldn’t have been…

posted at 6:52 pm on Wednesday, January 03, 2007 in Personal | Comments Off on Top Tens of 2006