Monthly Archives: September 2021

No time to mediate or do other relaxing things? Why not try making risotto?


Yes, making risotto is a highly relaxing thing. It’s a dish I love to make just for the way it calms me down (not to mention it is delicious). You have to be mindful when making risotto. You don’t have to be constantly stirring it, but you do need to be attentive to it. Steam rises off it as you cook it, and that is relaxing. Once you get the hang of it, being mindful of the transformation of the dish is also relaxing.

Need more persuasion? Here’s the chef and owner of the River Cafe who thinks the way I do: A Chef’s Advice for Relaxation: Stir Some Risotto – The New York Times.

If the idea appeals to you, here are 20 Easy Risotto Recipes To Make All Season Long from Chatelaine.

Start off with a classic parmesan risotto and go from there! It’s really not that hard. Plus, as I argue here, it’s a great way to use up veg. Enjoy!

(Image by Roberto Caruso: linked to in the Chatelaine recipe.)

 

 

On the recent moot election, September 2021. A brief note…

Well that was an odd election. If anyone came out ahead, I can’t see who it was. The Liberals did not get their majority, yet none of the other parties made any significant gains at their expense. Canadians voted to maintain the status quo and maintain it they did.

The one significant thing I noticed was line ups on Election Day. I’ve been voting for decades and I’ve never seen anything like it. As for me, I voted in the advanced poll and while I saw lots of good measures in place to limit the spread of COVID-19 the whole process was still pretty quick. I imagine those good measures slowed things down on Election Day.

It will be interesting to see if there is more voting via mail and via advanced voting in the next election. I expect we will have another one in a few years from now, though I would be surprised if the Liberals will be the ones to bring it on.

The next thing to pay attention to is what happens to the leaders of the various parties. I expect the Greens are going to have to make some difficult decisions. As for the other parties, I have no idea. I thought the leaders all performed well, but members of their parties might think differently. Let’s see.

After that, I’ll be very curious to see what Trudeau and his team do next. I hope they focus on the pandemic and what is needed to get to end of job in that with an eye on the economy and other promises they made.

I tend not to touch on politics on social media: it’s tends to be all downside with little upside. But this election was so odd I had to comment.

It’s Monday. You should update your resume (especially to deal with bad AI) and your LinkedIn too


It’s Monday. End of Summer. There are many things you could be doing in the last quarter of the year. One of them should be updating your resume, regardless of whether or not you are looking for a job.

A challenge with updating your resume these days is running into AI that filters you out for jobs you are applying for. To see what I mean, check this out. How to find a job and make your search for work less terrible – Vox. Some of that I disagree with but I found these two suggestions helpful:

Don’t leave off skills, even if they seem basic. Are you proficient at Excel? List it. “Your odds of getting an interview and a job if you have a facility with Microsoft Office goes up hugely,” Fuller said.

Don’t leave unexplained gaps. If you took a year off to write the Great American Novel, say so. Otherwise, it will look like you were doing nothing, and you might be screened out.

After you update your resume, make sure your LinkedIn is up to date and consistent with your resume. If you say you have five years experience doing XYZ and XYZ does not show up on your LinkedIn, employers will wonder why. So be consistent.

One article to improve your sleep, dozens of books to improve your life

If you feel the pandemic has messed up your sleep, you are not alone. Read this and with any luck you might find you can improve your sleep: How To Get a Better Night’s Sleep – The New York Times

The website FiveBooks.com will pick a topic and highlight five really good books on it. They have done it again with self help books. However, they seem to have decided that there are many types of self help books, so this piece has dozens of the best Self Help Books by various experts. You will no doubt find something there to help.

Get some sleep. Read some books. Make a good life better.

What this potentially leaked image of the iPhone 14 tells us about the flaws of iPhone design

I’ve complained before about the design of the iPhone with it’s bulges, not to mention the notch. Apple and it’s fans have continually made excuses for them, but that’s doesn’t excuse these flaws imho. This potentially new design of the iPhone 14 (below) shows that they may be finally dealing with problems by eliminating the notch and smoothing out the back of the phone.

Now who knows? Maybe this leak is fake and that’s not something Apple is going to do at all. Read this piece over at Yanko Design and decide for yourself.

Friday night cocktails: G&T++

Sure, I have written about gin and tonic before. It’s a simple cocktail, you say…what else can you write about it? Well, bear with me and check out this article: 4 Ways To Make A Perfect Gin And Tonic in Chatelaine

You may have a great way to make gin and tonics and that’s great. But if you want to shake things up a bit (pun intended), check out that article. You’ll be glad you did.

Cincin!

(Image: a link to picture in the article above)

What I find interesting regarding privacy and security, fall 2021


Yesterday I wrote about the new glasses from Facebook from a design AND privacy point of view. Here are seven more links to articles on privacy I thought you might find worthwhile reading:

(Photo by Lianhao Qu on Unsplash )

On Facebook’s new glasses

So Facebook has teamed up with RayBans to make the glasses seen above. One of the features of these glasses is you can tap them and record pictures and videos. Mike Isaac has a good write up on them, here. I’d like to highlight one quote from that piece:

“Facebook is not naïve to the fact that other smart glasses have failed in the past,” said Jeremy Greenberg, policy counsel for the Future of Privacy Forum, a privacy nonprofit that is partly financed by Facebook. But, he added, “the public’s expectations of privacy have changed since the days of previous smart glasses releases.”

Yep. Pure Facebook. An org funded by Facebook indicated that people are cool with potential invasions of privacy.

From a design point of view, this partnership has made a better looking pair of glasses than Google did with their Glass product. From a privacy point of view, however, these things things are at least as bad if not worse than Google’s product.

I can’t predict how well these will do. I can predict, however, that we will see abuses of privacy as a result of them. For more on them, see: Smart Glasses Made Google Look Dumb. Now Facebook Is Giving Them a Try. by Mike Isaac in The New York Times.

One last thing on AOC and the Met Gala

The best thing written on AOC and the Met Gala was written here: Activism Is Now In Fashion – The Atlantic.

I had planned to write something, but that piece is so good I can’t possibly express my meh feelings to the empty activism and her presence there better than that piece does. For example, this is just one sliver of goodness from the Atlantic piece:

 Ocasio-Cortez has fired up her base, raised her profile, and reminded everyone that she is the standard-bearer for today’s activist left.

At the same time, the Met Gala is essentially a costume ball, which removes the potential for actual subversion…the Met Gala red carpet is now an arena where people go to make statements, which inevitably robs those statements of their power. No one here is rebelling against the Man. The Man loves the extra publicity; it helps sell more $35,000 tickets to socialites who love a frisson of revolution as long as it’s safely divorced from the threat of actual tumbrels. … The Met Ball is … a safe space for political statements that all attendees will applaud, regardless of whether they truly believe them. … no one gets booed, or thrown out, or shunned by their peers for wearing an ensemble supporting any progressive cause to the Met Gala. … So what is the risk of wearing a sloganeering outfit to the Met Gala…? For Ocasio-Cortez, that’s just a day ending in a Y. (Emphasis is mine)

I like AOC for her intelligence and her seriousness and I like the Met Ball for it’s vapid ridiculousness. The two don’t mix. I am glad she got to enjoy the party and wear a great dress and support a good designer, but either go and acknowledge you are part of the ridiculousness, or stay serious and avoid it.

Image from the New York Times. Their piece on it is worthwhile too.

Gardening: not just a summer activity. Read this to see what I mean

Sure, summer is a great time to garden: that goes without saying. If you are still wanting to do more gardening after summer winds down, here are two links you may want to read:

Gardening is great for many reasons, not just producing things to eat and display. If you find that to be true, don’t limit yourself to one season: try to do it year round.

(Photo by Annie Spratt on Unsplash )

 

A great introduction to Bayes’ Theorem and how it relates to COVID-19

You may have heard references to Bayes’ Theorem in light of the pandemic and wondered how it is relevant. Well I am here to help. First off, here’s a great guide to Bayes’ Theorem from the website MathIsFun.com. Even if you are math phobic, I think you will be able to read that piece and understand it. Secondly, check out the site Varsity and how it explains how Bayes’ Theorem and COVID-19 testing are related. Both are well worth a read.

Learn Bayes’ Theorem. It’s good to help you understand many things in life, including what is happening during the pandemic.

P.S. This related piece at FT.com  explains why you should expect to see vaccinated people in the hospital with covid despite high vaccination rates.

On being acknowledged at work for what you are good at

I have found over my many years at work there are:

1) Things you are good at / like to do
2) Things you get acknowledged for doing

And the intersection of the things you are good at and the things you get acknowledged for is a very small sweet spot.

I try to focus on doing things I am good at. Others I know focus on doing things that gets them recognition.  If you are like me, you will find times when you wish you were in the circle on the right. All I can say is that many in the right circle wish they were in the left circle. The good feeling of acknowledgement is great but it doesn’t last long. While the good feelings from doing things you are good at and like to do last a long time.

If you can find work that you like to do, are good at, and comes with much recognition, then you have a good job and you should stick with it as long as you can. Meanwhile celebrate all those acknowledged and congratulate them. Then go back to what you do best.

Read this when your motivation is still on summer vacation


Sometimes you come back from vacation, all rested, and you can dive back into work and be more productive than before you went away. Other times that productivity can be hard to find. If the latter is  you, I recommend you read this piece: Is Your Motivation Still on Vacation?

Get the most out of your vacations, including refilling the tank that your motivation comes from.

(Photo by Kelli McClintock on Unsplash)

The wonderful infographics of W.E.B. Du Bois

While W.E.B. Du Bois is acclaimed for many achievements, one that I had never heard of until I came across this was how great he was at making infographics: W. E. B. Du Bois’ Hand-Drawn Infographics of African-American Life (1900) – The Public Domain Review.

That piece has several of his works on display, including the one above. Not only are they well designed, but seeing them gives you a valuable American history lesson. For example, this one below uses text and imagery to show how the population of African Americans changed over time in proportion to the rest of the population:

Well worth checking out that article to see more of his work.

 

More wacky furniture for cats!

Here on my blog I love to highlight furniture designed around cats. So when I saw the piece above, I had to share it. I mean ostensibly it is for humans, but the way it is designed, it’s really for cats, although humans can share it. If that’s not the best definition of what it can be like to live with a cat, I don’t know what could be better.

Found here at Adafruit.

The fantastic recreation of the ruins of Palmyra by Abbas Akhavan

 

Many were devastated by the destruction of the ancient ruins of Palmyra by Isis. There have been attempts both small and not so small to recreate them. Above you can see how the artist Abbas Akhavan has done it using straw and clay. It’s a wonderful work, and you can learn more about it, here: Abbas Akhavan review – a poetic monument to folly | Art and design | The Guardian.

 

On the new Basquiat painting in the Tiffany ad

Lots of chatter recently about this painting “Equals Pi”. If you want to see what I mean, read this, Tiffany’s Wants You to Think It Inspired a Blue Basquiat Painting, or this, Tiffany solicits help of Beyoncé and Jay-Z to draw younger buyers – will it backfire? | Fashion | The Guardian.

As for me, I am not sure what effect it will have. I do know the owners of Tiffany have a ton of money to acquire this picture and I am glad it is getting some display.  I always love seeing the work of Basquiat and I especially like this one.

For more on who previously owned it, see this: Austin Kleon — Jean-Michel Basquiat, Equals Pi, 1982 2021: Some…

 

Why you may not want to send smart home devices like Google Nest to university with your kids

I decided to send my son off to university with a Google Home device (a Lenovo Smart Clock). He could use it as a clock, to get the weather, to play music and to provide rain sounds. You may be thinking something similar.

The problem is that at least for some of these devices, they assume that the wifi works like a home network. Home wifi networks often only need a password to join them. However for my son’s university the wifi network needed a userid and password. There is no place in Google Home to provide the userid, so I was unable to set it up for him.

Something to keep in mind.

On connecting a Chromebook to a wifi network using LEAP like the one at Dalhousie

Here’s the problem: you are trying to connect your Chromebook to a wifi network like the one at Dalhousie University that uses the LEAP protocol. That protocol is likely well and good if you use an up to date Windows or MacOS computer. But as I found, it’s no good for the Chromebook I had because it did not have LEAP as an option. What to do?

Well if you get into the network settings and you go with the EAP-TTLS with the settings above, you can get your device to connect. (The above does not show the user I’d and password fields, but you will need those).

Good luck!

On the new Vermeer painting

Recently I came across this story about the new Vermeer painting and like him it is blowing my mind a bit. It takes restoration to a whole new level. It seems restoration work is getting bolder these days. I remember some of the controversy regarding the Sistine Chapel restoration and how some thought the people restoring it had crossed the line by making the colours so bold. This Vermeer restoration takes things to a whole other level by changing the image and its composition. I’ll be curious to see if we see more boldness like this in the future.

For more on this, see this piece: A Restored Vermeer Painting Reveals a Hidden Cupid Artwork Hanging in the Background.

This makes me want to write a cover letter again. Read it and you will too.


In this era of LinkedIn and software processing your resume, cover letters seems like a relic. But hop over to here and read this one: Benedict Cumberbatch Reads “the Best Cover Letter Ever Written” | Open Culture.

It’s a treat to hear Cumberbatch read it, but even if you don’t, go and relish that one. You might want to write you own afterwards and send it unsolicited to organizations. They might enjoy it and want to have a chat with you!

(Photo by Álvaro Serrano on Unsplash )

It’s Monday. Aim to do more this week by doing less


I know that sounds contradictory, but if you think about it and read this you will see it makes sense: Want to Be More Productive? Try Doing Less.

If you are like me and a lot of people, you take on many (too many) assignments and tasks. You feel like you are getting a lot done but it may not seem satisfying or even worthwhile. If so, take the approach outlined in the article and focus on a few things and cut out the clutter.

More and more I find the secret of being successful is saying no to most things. You need to Marie Kondo your todo list and work on the tasks that bring you joy. It’s not always possible, but more possible than you think.

Good luck!

(Photo by Fernando Hernandez on Unsplash )

What I find interesting in math, summer 2021

I read many ofpieces on mathematics: here are some pieces I have found worthwhile. Most of them are readable by folks who are not mathematicians.

Here’s a number of good pieces

Finally, This 3 700-Year-Old Tablet is the Oldest Example of Applied Geometry. Cool.

(Photo by Saad Ahmad on Unsplash )

The High Line, or why it is important to push for improvements in your city


There are lots of reasons to push for improvements in your city but one of them is it can have a cascading effect elsewhere. Case in point is New York’s High Line.

As this article Manhattan makeover for London with floating green walkway plan | London | The Guardian), shows:

New York was revitalised by the High Line, a ribbon of parkland floating above Manhattan on a disused elevated railway that has become one of the city’s biggest tourist attractions. Now the High Line’s designer hopes to give London its own green thread, after being chosen to create the Camden Highline.

James Corner was picked last week as the lead landscape architect for the structure, a linear park on three-quarters of a mile of railway viaducts running from Camden to Kings Cross, which he believes will give London a similar boost after the trials of Covid and Brexit.

For more on the Camden highline, go here. More on the New York version here.

Health and wellness apps can be expensive. Here’s some alternatives

I am sometimes surprised how expensive health and wellness apps can be. If you leave them running on your phone for a year, that can really add up.

And that’s too bad. People can really benefit from such apps, and being short of cash should not be a limit on getting well.

If this applies to you, then you want to check out these 7 Meditation Apps That Are Cheaper (and Better) Than Headspace and Calm .

Headspace and Calm are fine apps. But check out some alternatives.

How to Make Dinner When You Can’t Even

If I were to ask you “are you sick of cooking from home during the pandemic?”and you threw something in my general direction while screaming “YES!”, then I highly recommend this: Easy Dinner Recipes (Without Having to Cook Anything) – The New York Times. 

Ali Slagle does a great job of helping you put together a meal using a simple formula.  So if the thought of getting out a recipe is painful and the thought of ordering take out is equally so, check out that piece from her.

(Photo: Linda Xiao for The New York Times. Food Stylist: Monica Pierini.)

Where to buy neon signs from Blade Runner

This is pretty amazing. This Etsy account YesteryearPropStore seems to be selling many of the neon signs found in Blade Runner.

If I ran an establishment, I would love to have this one out front: