Monday, February 20, 2012

At last, a good reason for a lottery

I'm not a big fan of lotteries.  The fact that governments encourage gambling (and known addiction) is appalling.  And the fact that lotteries (naturally) appeal mostly to the the less-wealthy of the population, makes the practice even more sinister.

But, people love to gamble and play the lottery.  But what if they could play and potentially win something without sacrificing their hard earned money ?

I was travelling last week and the hotel I stay at next to my HQ in Cupertino (Kimpton's Cypress) is kind enough to deliver a paper of choice to its members staying at their hotels (membership is free).  I chose the NY Times for its top-notch journalist and interesting non-news insights.  I often keep papers for reading when I'm back home and have some spare time on the weekend.

I just read a wonderful little op-ed by Rhichard H. Thaler, called Making Citizenship Good Fun (Feb13th, 2012).  It's not about citizenship, as-in immigration, but rather our responsibility to be good citizens, recycling, paying taxes etc.  The article cites some wonderfully creative ideas from around the world to encourage good citizenship rather than what most of us face, negative reinforcement.  A few of which reward good citizenship with the chance at a lottery, like dispensing lottery tickets for doggy waste in New Taipei City or attaching lottery tickets to restaurant receipts in mainland China (reducing cash transaction tax work-arounds).

Now that's the kind of lottery I could support.  Reward people for doing the right thing with a chance at winning a few doubles and having some fun in the process.

Monday, February 06, 2012

Scarborough lakeshore landscape

Via Flickr:
Scarborough Bluffs.

Yes, this is actually in the city of Toronto !

Scarborough lakeshore landscape

Via Flickr:
Scarborough Bluffs

Sunday, February 05, 2012

Morning neurons, incl. photography, music, sports and work

I'll glad Kooper woke me up early.  I took another Saturday as the weekend day for a hangover, leaving me clear headed this morning (not a fan of hangover Sundays).  Lots of neurons firing this morning, especially after our long walk.  Beautiful morning out there kids.

Photography - I've been tackling photo organization and editing methods and choices for some time.  I paid a visit to Thomas at 44wide on Friday and his simple advice for photographers (of my ilk) - just shoot in raw and use Lightroom.  So I'm seeing if Lightroom (version 4 beta now available at no cost), fits my needs.  But it gets complicated quick, as my wife is a little more stubborn than me and wants to stay with Photoshop Elements and doesn't want to bother with raw image processing, so I may have a setup that looks something like:

  • "art" photography (raw images) processed, organized and shared with Lightroom
  • occasionally dropping into Photoshop (Elements) for edit tools that I'm a fan of, but are missing from Lightroom, e.g. high pass filter.
  • Casual family shots, JPGs from non-DSLR cameras, iPhone shots etc processed, organized and shared with Photoshop Elements
  • exporting some art photos from Lightroom to Elements (need to do some research on how to do this properly - with the goal to avoid multiple copies of images, but ok for raws to be in Lightroom and JPGs to be in Elements)
  • Note that there's a nice Picasa (Google+) plug-in for Lightroom that could help with sharing those family shots or broadening my sharing to Google+.

Music - still trying to create a formula that defines the PJMixer music taste(s).  I've always said certain music fits best with certain times of the days or energy levels.  Simple examples are downbeat electronica late at night, mellow folk-rock in the mornings and dance music when you need to be energized (ultimate pre-game).  But a element that keeps playing with my musical neurons is the sound of horns - love 'em in electronica (Thievery Corporation) right through rock (Rolling Stones) and those big doses in soul and of course jazz.  Now adding an accented female vocal element starts to shape the PJMixer formula.  Then the variances for mood and time come into play, heavy bass and groove rhythms (man I can never spell that word) for urban music and later pm time slots; acoustic instrumentation for more organic sounds for daylight hours.  I need to spend more time in the lab, but the formula is coming along nicely.  Playlist for the dog walk this morning included Bon Iver and Noah and the Whale.

Work - I was a quite a week, resigning on Monday and trying to handle logistics of wrapping up 7 years with my old company and transitioning into the new company, starting with a quick trip to California for some training starting Valentine's Day (sorry darling).  I'll now be working from home, which is a first for me, but looking forward to a change.  I'm excited about the move, new challenges and some great opportunity.  More later on other channels (Linkedin).

Sports - great sports day planned.  Manchester United play Chelsea in just about 15 minutes.  If you haven't noticed, Fox have started showing EPL games live on Sundays - great bonus for footy fans who can't afford Sportsnet World / Setanta.  I'm cheering for Man U (a rare occasion) as Arsenal try to bump Chelsea out of the top 4 for a Champions League spot.  After that, I've got a 3pm ultimate game with a new masters team, which works out perfectly to get home for Super Bowl sunday festivities - chili, beer plus.

Thanks Kooper.