Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Brief confessions of a reformed global warming skeptic

I have
commented briefly about my views on global warming in the past. I was perhaps rather hasty in my comments on such a complex and important topic. I apologize. I was also likely guilty of flipping trendy Gore movie moments around a little too quickly (although I did intro some controversial element).

Since the movie, I've been
guiltily open to opposing views and content and I've been carrying around an article from The National Post dated Oct 13th. It was titled Nine Convenient Untruths. It was next to an article about the UK judge that ruled Gore's film "exaggerated" (here's the link to the same story carried by the Washington Post). I finally got around to reading it this week and the first impression I got was - this article really doesn't provide a lot of real data against what Gore (and of course the many other advocates) say.

Today I received an email from my sister-in-law about signing a
petition to speak up and get our prime minister to uphold Canada's values, stop blocking UN climate talks and immediately start working with other countries towards a new international climate agreement.

I typically make pretty quick decisions on matters of petitions, donations, good causes etc. But this one is of course a big one. I first researched
Avaaz.org and I was a little annoyed to find out that this was not a Canadian organization. How can they speak for me as a Canadian, I thought ? Anyhow, I got over that and tried to satisfy my need-to-know questions and try and become an informed and caring global citizen. If any of you have spent a lot of time with the subject of global warming, then perhaps you can appreciate how truly complex the topic is. It was very easy to get the general fact that the earth is in deed warming. But the hardest part is to ascertain whether (man made) CO2 is the main culprit. So I've spent the last hour or so reading a lot of (very well organized) info on this topic. There is a great many scientists investing a lot of their time in trying to explain this to us peons. A great source I found today was RealClimate.

So my decision on this is that there is just way too much scientific evidence that says man is the largest cause of global warming, and global warming is a big problem. There's no shortage of neigh-sayers, but I don't think there is enough weight in their anti-proofs. When I would easily be swayed into believing that global warming is a trendy, alarmist and politically motivated mission, it appears the opposite is true. There is just too much being said by very smart people about man's effect on global warming. The other side appears to be the one stirring the pot, throwing skeptic grenades in to the discussion and be more politically motivated.
I have signed the petition and hereby apologize for doubting the experts.

I think it's easy to take the side of the skeptic. It's less work. With a subject as complex and important as global warming, it's probably a very good use of all our time to use our brain power for a few hours and get to know the topic a little better. That way we can be an informed advocate for doing the right thing and saving the planet for future generations.

Monday, December 10, 2007

Does mess equal stress ?

After writing Messy is cool last night, I kept thinking about it as I was heading to bed. Although I said that chaos appears natural and may be a thing of art in my life, there can be too much of a good thing ! Too much or constant chaos in my life definitely brings on stress and shows me glimpses of a life of dysfunction and waste.

So, I was thinking that perhaps the easiest and maybe the only way to really reduce the amount of chaos in my life is to limit or reduce the things that could fall victim to this natural energy. For instance, in business, maybe reducing the amount of products I try and learn and sell would help; at home, perhaps the dream of adding a bedroom or family room extension would only create two more junk rooms. Of course, having one email address, one credit card and one car would make my life so much easier. Then you start thinking about other categories, food, clothes, um - maybe. Then there are some things in my life that I definitely want lots of choice in, lots of variety, and they tend to be entertainment pleasures, more music, movies and books !

Sure, I'll relax and accept the natural chaos in my life, I may even try and enjoy it. But why not try a few things to simplify my life.

The picture is
a plot of the Lorenz attractor for values r = 28, σ = 10, b = 8/3, whatever that means.

Sunday, December 09, 2007

Messy is cool

I saw this American Express print ad this weekend and thought what a great photo ! For some reason this shot appealed to me as a photographer, a techie, and someone struggling with organization. And also because of Tina Fey, it somehow says Hey, it's cool to be messy, what's the big huff ? And I like that.

What I'm trying to tackle these days is organizing my life, the things in it, how much time I spend with its things, and perhaps indirectly hoping to
see the forest. But images like this and realities in my life suggest that the natural state of affairs naturally returns to a state of chaos. The tidy and paperless office; the empty inbox; fully indexed and categorized music, movies and photos; a budget; and knowing what things you have to do this week, are all either mirages of an organized life or examples of unstable equilibriums. And there is art and beauty in chaos, you just have to look a little harder and change your point of view.

If you're not familiar with Tina Fey, she came from Saturday Night Live and produces, writes and stars in
30 Rock.

The pic came from geeksugar.

Thursday, December 06, 2007

A Rant

So today I had a meeting in Welland, Ontario. Nothing special, except that it's just past the distance limits of what my company feels they want to reimburse me for using my own car. Therefore as a good corporate citizen I rent a car today. The day started well, great service from the manager at the local Enterprise Rent-a-Car, and a nice drive to Welland enjoying XM satellite radio (especially the uncensored comedy on XM Comedy) - a sunny, 90 minute drive.

The first of my (petty) annoyances began when I was trying to find a reasonable stop for lunch. I had at least a 30 minute window before my meeting and drove past a Tim Horton's by the meeting location to find a better option. After circling around the depressing downtown area I decided back on Timmy's because the state of the local greasy spoons wasn't really appetizing.

The meeting went well and quite long. I knew I was facing rush hour traffic heading back home. But first I had to fill up. I circled the small downtown core of Welland without finding a decent gas station (i.e. one I could use my express transceivers, thus limiting my exposure to sub zero temps and making a speedy getaway). No luck, so I thought, hey I'll hop back on the main road and check out the next major exit, ok a few more clicks, past one-second choice gas station to a preferred Esso. Some of the pumps were cordoned off, and the opened ones had plastic no-gas covers on the pumps. I head in - are you serious ? Yes, we ran out of gas ! Pause - the traffic lights in Welland must be on some old-timer timing schedule - man they're long - or is it just me? So I settle on Canadian Tire gas, but the place is jammed, cars in all directions, some maintenance guy working on one of the pumps and a line up out of the pay cube hut !

So, I'm fueled up, warm and heading home with a fine selection of XM satellite music and comedy.

A quick check on the traffic report provides some guidance on avoiding an incident on the 401 East (I take the the 427 route). Traffic warning at Burloak. Not a biggy. I'm back in Toronto in predictable time and traffic. Ok, I can deal with this. But there do seem to be a few more nutters than usual on the road today. I head off the 401, thinking the worst is over, for the last stretch down the Allen - ouch ! Huge back up across 3 lanes all heading off at Lawrence. I play the 2 lane game trying to discourage the lane 3 drivers, it seems to take forever with cars separated by inches.

Off at Lawrence, almost home. Then the little things start bugging me. A poor last-minute manoeuvre has a car's ass end in my lane at the Bathurst light - sure go ahead idiot - 2 cars go through on red.

Turn on Avenue, almost home. Typical wait for left turn at Castlefield, but cars going out of order, and taking handfuls of my patience (I'm trying not to curse too much at this point) with polite little F* waves.

I actually drive past home to park the rental car at the lot at the end of my street. A few close passes avoiding protruding cars in snow banks (yes, we have quite a lot of snow and ice at the moment). The street is narrowing and becomes more and more clogged as I get closer to the last left turn of the day. I'm almost there, ok about a dozen Volvos and Lexi picking up little "preciouses".

I'm looking for a gap to turn into the lot, but no. So I'm stationary, signaling left and a car passes me on the left to get ahead to the next light - sure go ahead madam. Another car passes on the left - I go left block the road with I'm-almost-home-optimism. Then one guy can't reach the ticket dispenser, sure ticket lady give 'em a hand...

I'm in. I pack up my stuff and about to lock up, when the nice manager spots me - he's locked up but offered to take the keys - sure I say, here you go, great service mate ! Hold on, briefcase still in the car, got it, Good night.

I get home. My Blackberry is still in the car, for the night.

The story was going to end there, but I just got home and remembered where I'd put my Blackberry - ending the day on a good note.