Posts

Causing Trouble

I love re-reading this poem by Naomi Shihab-Nye. This time, these lines made me pause:Once my teacher set me on a high stool
for laughing. She thought the eyes
of my classmates would whittle me to size.
But they said otherwise.
We'd laugh too if we knew how.
This idea of whittling a kid to size by shame and judgement of peers often ends up having the exact opposite result. The peers who are meant to proscribe end up being in awe, hero-worshipping the one who was stood up on a high stool. What might have started as small act of non-compliance can with such fuel blossom into large scale defiance often just to attract more fuel to burn without any real cause. I think of a about a dozen kids from my childhood who had been similarly named and shamed. In all cases nothing good came out of it. No one I recall every actually felt whittled down to size. They only re-doubled their efforts to stick out and get into "trouble" again, turning into habitual offenders. Over time, the intere…

Show Stopper

I had my friend L over for dinner a few days ago. Last time we saw each other in person was before the pandemic so there was a lot to catch up on. She is in her early 40s comfortable in her career and a single mom lucky to have an ex with whom it is easy to co-parent. L is one of those people who recognize their blessings and are grateful for them. It's not usual to hear her complain or feel sorry for herself. 
Conversation turned to her dating life or the lack thereof on account of the pandemic. It turns out that singles had gone into hibernation for months while we were all getting used to the lock-down way of life. But recently, things are started to thaw out and there is a date to be had sometimes. Finally after a long time she is starting to meet men who seem right in every way. Yet for three times in a row, three different men revealed something about themselves to her that ended up being a show-stopper. This was after a couple of dates.
The easy theory is that she is self-sab…

Free Coffee

I became an unwitting customer of Panera's coffee subscription when J forgot to cancel her freebie subscription over summer. Being out nine bucks for the month, decided to make the most of it and get myself a large coffee whenever I was able. For now, I have been able to get one every day but the streak may not last too long. J has since canceled her subscription and going out of my way to get a free coffee is not particularly gratifying. The number is compelling for a month of unlimited coffee but when you go through the drill a few days in a row, the allure fades. Like the reviewer, you start to see the problems in the process flow not the benefits. Notwithstanding, the campaign has been a huge success:..close to 75 percent of coffee redemption occurred off-premises—an element critical to a COVID landscape. And Panera witnessed about a 25 percent hike in new MyPanera members asking for the deal, with a vast majority of those fresh to the brand. It succeeded in driving light user…

Valuing Formal

Interesting essay on on how loss of formal traditions has cost us democracy. The author argues:The opportunity to be a crowing pedant about the rules of formality gives one something to do instead of in-grouping around more exclusionary traits, such as to which expensive school one went. More importantly, the rules of formality are ultimately accessible to all. Anyone can learn the etiquette and wear the tie, and so become part of the ever larger, ever more diverse in-group that practices the formality of the event.He sees colleges as having a vital role here by being the tie that binds students of diverse backgrounds, leveling the playing field and giving the cohort a common and unique framework for life. When the institution pares down the formality to allow a more casual culture, it ends up not fulfilling its mission:The college needs ritual, tradition, anachronism and whispers of the numinous to bind together this diversity. Not to smooth it out, but to unite it in true engagement…

Doing Over

The past weekend, we managed to crank up our old power washer that was covered with bird-poop and even cleaned up the deck. This job should have been done during the warmer summer months but we seemed to suffer from overall lack of motivation. The days were passing us by, the pandemic was not really getting over and the unending statis remained. A day of work seemed to bleed into a week of work so the weekends were place-holders for nothing. But after the deck was cleaned and the machine returned to the shed, it felt like a good day's work cooler weather notwithstanding. 
Later in the week, I summoned up the courage to go see my dentist for my regular cleaning appointment by now months overdue. My teeth like the deck needed attention and the a power-wash. There was something re-energizing about the deep cleaning. The renewal that spring and summer did not bring, fall did. Everywhere I go these days, I see signs that people want to move on and get on with living. Stores are offering…

Moral Machine

Results from the moral machine experiment go to show that standards can vary based on culture, economics and geographical location. Interesting how the findings will likely be used in the real world:The study has interesting implications for countries currently testing self-driving cars, since these preferences could play a role in shaping the design and regulation of such vehicles. Carmakers may find, for example, that Chinese consumers would more readily enter a car that protected themselves over pedestrians.Seems like a person who is inside a self-driving car should reasonably expect that they would be protected. In the least, the self-driving car would not put them at any greater risk of bodily harm than if they were driving the car themselves. Culture and geography would not impact such baseline expectation of the consumer. In a real life situation, a driver will instinctively try their best not to hit a pedestrian - they understand the trade-off clearly. The person hit by a car …

Home Care

Interesting article about the idea of bringing hospital to the home where it's needed. Sounds like a logical next step as technology advances in this area:.. as technology improved, two-way video calls, remote monitoring of patient vital signs, and easily portable medical equipment such as electrocardiogram machines made it possible to provide more care more reliably in peoples’ homes. Patients who’d otherwise be admitted to the hospital for pneumonia or low blood flow related to congestive heart conditions or an infected wound can now be treated directly in their homes.For the first time during the pandemic, I used video appointments for doctor's visit. The process was infinitely less painful and saved me a lot of time and aggravation. If people at home were equipment with certain basic tooling doctors could use to check vitals and such, the experience could be even more complete.It's great that there is some startup activity to make this possible. Maybe in a decade, bein…