Sunday, 4 October 2015

Corn, Colds and Controversy

The word of the week is lassitude.

September 28 – Chugging Along

How’s the rest of the world doing these days?

With a federal election coming up in the month, Canada‘s going to be doing a lot of inward-looking in the next few weeks, as people try to decide where the country’s headed.

But what about the rest of the world?

How does the rest of 2015 look, according to the experts?

Well, not that great, when you factor China into the picture. Which is a shame, because I’m just getting used to being able to order things directly from …

All kidding aside, it’s a weird, connected world that we live in: I was just talking about this with my lady and as she's in the field of statistical research, she knows a thing or two about what's going on out there, probably more than I do.

Without getting into details, we both agreed - for different reasons - that the world's become perhaps a little too interconnected for its own good. Countries are far more codependent on far too many trade aspects to be insulated from one another's problems when they crop up – just look at Greece this summer, and China to a lesser degree. Economic cycles that used to take decades now take only a few years to rise and fall. Which makes predicting them extraordinarily difficult, even for experts in the field.

When you live in the global village, everybody's problems are only a few doors away.

September 29 – Myo

I'm thinking of getting an armband.

Not just any armband though: a Myo, which is a device that reads our movements and translates them into electrical impulses I can be read by a computer.

More accurately, it translates the electrical impulses that it reads from your muscles into unique signals that can be mapped onto functions via computer software. So you can simply make a series of gestures to open a presentation on the laptop, moved to the next slide, rotate diagrams and so forth - all of those are just the most basic application of Myo:

Where it really gets interesting is when you combine a pair of Myo armbands with properly configured software and accompanying drivers. This allows users to play their various games without a controller, albeit at this stage still with slightly less-than-perfect accuracy due to the fact that Myo was only been released to the world less than year ago.

It’s interesting to note that I found reviewers split in their opinions of how well the device works. Bitshift Interactive makes software called ‘Mapper For Myo’ that apparently makes all the difference in using the device, which I found out by reading some of the reviews on the device’s sales page - weird, but useful nonetheless.

I'm still keeping an eye on this device, hoping that it will be more mature in the next year, with support from major software houses for various games and devices. I'd love to be able to forgo having to use a mouse or game controller altogether, so that I can play for more than 15 or 30 min. of the time before my arms decide they've had enough.

September 30 – Prime!

I took the day off today. Not by choice: I was too sick to work.

Monday night I started getting the sniffles and by noon yesterday, the goal that everybody else had made itself known in my own sinus cavities – yay. I sucked it up( literally ) until I got home and from there things just went downhill, until this morning when I started killing Kleenexes at a rate of one every 5 min. or so: there was no way I be able to work in that condition, so I called work to sell the bad news, then went back to bed for a bit.

On the bright side, despite the extremely runny nose that made me wear off at least two layers of skin by days end, I got to catch up a little bit on a few things, including a TV series that I've meant to watch more of this year but haven't found the time: Transformers Prime.

Originally airing in late 2010, the series has one various daytime awards, including several Emmy’s and has impressed me with the quality of both its animation and writing. Among all the other excellent voice actors, it's also a nice touch that the show has Peter Cullen, the original voice of Optimus Prime, reprising his role.

Through the convenience of Netflix, I made my way through to almost the end of the second season by the end of the day, interspersed with a few power naps and other projects. While I wasn't feeling better by the end of the day, I was feeling the worst.

It's been a while since I spent the day just watching TV like this and - I liked it. Looking at my substantial collection of series on DVD, I am again reminded how precious time is to me these days and how wisely I have to budget it… so getting to spend a day catching up was extremely satisfying.

October 1 – Doc Says I’m Weird.

It was a half-for me today, in several ways,.

I went to work for a half day this morning, which was probably a bad idea – my nose was still unhappy with me( I'll spare you the details )and I had little energy by lunchtime.

Fortunately by then, I left for a doctors appointment, to see a physiatrist.

I've been waiting to see a specialist of his type for a few years now, to see what can be done for my wrists. Ironically, it’s taken a year for my doctor to finally see that my right leg’s swollen tendon isn’t going to go away with massage therapy and so necessitated the appointment with a physiatrist today.

The results, after an hour’s exam? I’m ‘weird’ …

Or, in medical terminology, everything was moving correctly but as I still have specific recurring pains, the doctor’s going to send me to see a rheumatologist. It was unfortunate that the medical ultrasounds of my arms taken a month after my 2012 injury could be located, but somehow that seems par for the course of trying to get myself back to rights.

I'm tempted to facepalm a bit here, but at least it’s progress. I'm thankful that the doctor listen to me and performed numerous tests to see movements of my tendons and ligaments all over. He did mention that my hamstrings were extremely tight, another reason to suggest continuing massage therapy on a regular basis.

Guess it’s time for more patience.

October 2 – Guns

I was going to talk about the subject of guns here, but I got tired.

That, I think, is one of the problems in the States right now.

Too many guns, and everyone's tired of talking about how to fix a problem that nobody really wants to talk about in a country where people would rather shoot someone to talk to them about a problem.

How mixed up is that?

You can cite statistics until the cows come home to support the view of either side – this is a standard tactic of any political entity - but rarely does action take place quickly. The notable exception of this is Australia, who after a terrible mass shooting in 1996 instituted sweeping changes in gun control that saw the vast majority of weapons in that country removed from the hands of the average citizen - you can read about the results of that here.

I've mentioned before about how crazy it is, in my mind, to believe that in order to stay safe from harm you have to be armed not only at home but while going about your day, and in the minds of many Americans, armed at work too – just in case.

A too-plentiful supply of death means everyone gets a share, whether they want it or not.

October 3 – Farm time!

What a grand day!

As well as dawning sunny and mild, I was able to spend the day with my lady.

After breakfasting at the sublime Adrienne’s, we made our way back to town… but were sidetracked by a corn maze on the way.

That’s right: a corn maze.

But first we rode a train around the property, passing by their Old West town which was still the process of being readied for their Halloween nighttime shows starting in a week or so. It was pretty cool checking around the 40 acres or so of farm on the track, seeing the crops while the train driver told us all about the functioning of the farm and pointed out the fun attractions as we went along.

Things were less scary in the daytime, I must say, but more fun for sure.

The corn maze is an annual staple of the farm, lazy winding paths that sometimes loop and sometimes simply dead-end. The corn is thick enough that can't see where you're going, but there's little fear of being hopelessly lost as the entire maze is only a few hundred feet on aside in total. It was pleasant to simply meander in the bright sunshine with my lady.

Before leaving the maze, we took a detour to wander through the Old West town that had been set up as part of the Halloween events to come later this month. Only about half the electrical setups were working, but the small-scale town was fun to look at, giving you a hint of what it was like to be back in the frontier days again.

A fun time was most definitely had by all today!

October 4 – Media and a Movie

Ripping the heck out of my media collection is going well.

So well, in fact, that I'm running out of room: even with 6 terabytes of space on my Acer Aspire H340 server, it’s getting crowded. I'll have to repurpose a few more drives from older computers in order to move things around, but I'm determined to digitize as much of my TV series collection as possible in the next week and then move on to the movies until the trial period for the software I'm using runs out. I’m only using the single function to rip the DVD’s, but it's been useful enough that when I do get around to adding more storage, I may just purchase the whole program, though I don't know if I really want to use their software to categorize my collection, as are ready have things like Plex that make it even simpler to access my media.

In the evening, my girlfriend and I watched Disney’s Atlantis, a film I haven't seen for probably close on 10 years or more. My lady likes the film and we both enjoyed watching it, even with the logical errors introduced when you have things like people who have lived 10,000 years but somehow forgotten how to write or read…. Guess that slipped by the script editors. Which is surprise, as Joss Whedon wrote the first draft of this movie, but later edits obviously change things around substantially – the Wikipedia entry for the film is a gold mine of information about how this happened and it saddens me in a way that I’ll never get to see the potential masterpiece that this film could have been in the first place.

Sorry about the odd colours for the last few blog entries: I’ve been writing the blog earlier in the evening and adjusted the colours in Word to white text / darker background – oops. And with my sister away for a few weeks, I have the place to myself to Get Things Done - w00t!