Jack's Ruminations

Started reading The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness last night. I’m only through chapter 3 right now.

Today is July 4. A celebration of America. But around 10am this morning, I was shooting hoops alone in the gym of our sports club. I was weeping.

I’m not a weepy sort of guy. Nor am I the stressed sort. But when I do feel stressed, my biggest reliever is shootin’ hoops. Even just imagining myself splashing jumpers tends to soothe my psyche when troubled.

I was weeping because this morning, three chapters into Michelle Alexander‘s book, and 26 years since the summer of 1988 when I left Canada to move to America, it occurred to me, for the very first time since that summer long ago, that maybe, just maybe, the idea of us moving back to Canada wasn’t such a bad idea after all. And this thought made me weep.

Because the Canada that I remember was a nice place of mediocrity. Up until this morning, America, to me, was a place of warts to be sure, but also of hard won excellence. To me, all else being equal, excellence trumps niceness.

But what if “all else wasn’t equal”?

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I’m watching the NBA Finals this year as always. The start to this one seems most interesting. Not just because of what happened last year, but also due to how the first two games played out.

Seemed obvious to me last year that the Effort-System-Fatigue game was in play between the Miami Heat and the San Antonio Spurs. But explaining it last year might have been too hard for the lay-fan to grok.

But this year, it’s clear as mud for everyone.

You know how rock-paper-scissors work, right? Rock > Scissors > Paper > Rock.

Same way with this model: Effort > System > Fatigue > Effort

Miami Heat = Effort

San Antonio Spurs = System

(Don’t get me wrong here. Miami does have a system. But LeBron is 50% of it. Take LeBron off the Heat, and the Heat is junk. Take anybody off the Spurs — except maybe for Duncan — and the drop-off is sub 10%. And, obviously, Talent plays a big part here.)

Who will win the Finals? Fatigue will determine the result.

Not how well the Spurs move the ball; not how well LeBron shoots or whether Wade’s +/- stays in the red; not the 2-2-1-1-1 format. Not any of that.

When the Heat play with maximal effort (which requires LeBron on the court), that gums up all the pretty ball movement of the Spurs. When that happens, former scrubs like Belinelli, Mills, Diaw, Green, and even starters like Leonard and Splitter are rendered ineffective. Manu becomes “trick or treat” Tony Allen. Only Parker and Duncan can be effective in that environment, and maybe not even Parker if LeBron is guarding him.

So why doesn’t the Heat just play four games with maximal Effort and get this thing over with already? Read the rest of this entry »

IMG_20140526_122437These are my old man feet. Not a pretty sight to be sure. But definitely the center of some pretty amazing health stuff.

Let’s start with waking up this morning. Eight mornings ago, on Sunday May 18, I woke up so dizzy that I almost keeled over to my right upon rising from bed. That feeling soon went away, and I enjoyed an active Sunday.

The next morning, Monday the 19th, I woke up so dizzy, I couldn’t lift my head above the pillow without becoming nauseated. When my mother-in-law suggested I had an inner ear infection, I asked my wife to get me 5g of Vit C in a sports bottle.

After sipping 10g worth of Vit C from the side of my mouth, I was able to hold my head up, and my appetite resumed somewhat. But I was in poor shape to do anything productive.

The next six mornings, I would wake up dizzy. I would have to be careful getting out of bed. But for most of those days, after awhile, I would feel almost normal during waking hours.

The only exception would be when I would lie on my back. During these six days, I tried that in two different yoga classes, and once in a pool. Within seconds of my head going back, I would become extremely dizzy.

What I had was vertigo, probably from an infection in my right inner ear. Googling on these keywords suggested that this lousy feeling I was experiencing could be expected to last many weeks, if not months. The idea is that it takes this extended time for the brain to rewire its balancing system.

But this morning — only nine days since May 18 — I woke up with no dizziness. It seemed that the vertigo was gone. I confirmed this on a hike with my family. We stopped at a picnic table and I lay down on it on my back. All I experienced was the blissful sensation of looking up into an oak tree, the leaves of which were fluttering in the breeze. No dizziness.

Hallelujah! I just might be cured.

Well, bully for me, but what does this have to with barefootin’?

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My oldest sister, the “wise woman” I referenced in the previous post, forwarded me the above TED talk today. It was the second revolutionary health care TED talk she had sent me in the past month. Fascinating stuff. The one above is hilarious as well as being thought-provoking.

I hope that my business partner and I are able to expand our business into the “revolutionary health care” space. Both of us have a high interest in this area.

But the reason I’m blogging is to convey my personal interest in these topics. My angle is probably different from the vast majority of people my age and older.

I ain’t complainin’. The short of it is that, at 51, I have no health complaints, save for lingering hoops injuries dating back to 1980s. But in terms of my body’s internal systems, they’re in tip top shape. So my “complaints” about our broken medical system are not poignant.

But if I’m super healthy, how can I say that? Well, I can report my consistently elevated energy and mood. But these subjective reports might sound like special pleading.

So then I’d point you to the copious data on myself that I’ve collected over the better part of a decade. This includes weight, body fat, blood pressure, blood glucose, and extensive blood test data. All of these metrics say that, internally at least, I’m a much younger man.

Except, however, for one particular set of data over the past year …

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Had a remarkable conversation with my oldest sister this afternoon. Stumbled upon some clear revelations that merit blogging.

Here’s the Twitter version: Hope you don’t have to wait for the deaths of your own parents (or for a life-threatening illness) in order to “grow up” to become your “better self”.

Here’s the longer version:

I’m the youngest of three siblings. The three of us are separated in age by only 3 years. IMHO, we are among the luckiest siblings I know.

Why? It’s because both of our parents are dead, and they died during our 30s and 40s (50 for my oldest sister when my dad died).

Now I know what you may be thinking. You may be thinking that our parents were horrible people, and their deaths brought relief to us. That’s why I feel lucky.

Mom was Wonderful. If that’s what you’re thinking, I’ll tell you that you’re flat out wrong. In 1999, when our mother was in her final coma, it came out in conversations among us siblings that each of us had long suspected that we were our mom’s favorite. We had assumed this was fairly obvious to the other two, but we had never spoken of it before these final moments because, well, you know, it wouldn’t have been nice.

Dad was Wonderful. As for our dad, I blogged the hell out of his funeral, my theory-making going into overdrive. Just so you don’t have to read those old posts, I’ll summarize them for you: I believe our dad died an “enlightened” man, and my hope is that when I die, I do so with at least a few iotas of the grace he displayed during those final weeks.

Well if our parents were all that, why would be we so lucky that they died?

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The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2013 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

A San Francisco cable car holds 60 people. This blog was viewed about 1,600 times in 2013. If it were a cable car, it would take about 27 trips to carry that many people.

Click here to see the complete report.

cota-demo-ledsI am thrilled to be blogging about wireless power company Ossia and its founder Hatem Zeine. I explain why I am thrilled in my previous post.

When I first met Hatem three years ago, I asked him what I should read to get up to speed on his technology. He said: “Feinman’s QED.”

Now I had dabbled in physics decades before during my Math studies back in university. But my physics was rusty.

So I loved Hatem’s answer. This work promised to be a tough nut to crack and I was born to crack tough nuts (actually I was raised to do so, but that’s a story for another day).

Anyway, pondering over the Cota technology back in 2010, I came to realize that the root of this technology concerns starting with one Wikipedia page on quantum mechanics and unifying it with a second one.

“Unification” is a word evoking physics. We could also say “marriage” (social), “synthesis” (chemical), or “convergence” (business). But for this post, I’ll stick with “unification”.

The interesting thing about unions is that they tend to produce interesting results. The more divergent the union, the more interesting the result.  Contraria sunt complementa and all.

The two Wikipedia pages that Hatem unified describe things known to the world for at least 50 years and much longer.

But in all that time, no one apparently had thought of how to unify these two old concepts to perform useful work. I conclude this because neither page references the other as “see also”.

Now that Cota from Ossia has reached the light of day, I call for the Gods of Wikipedia to add this magical thread drawn for them by Hatem.

Which brings me to Hatem.

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secretsMy next blog will be about the wireless power company Ossia and its founder Hatem Zeine. I’ve been waiting three years to blog about this.

You see, three years ago, Hatem reached out to my business partner Michael Pierantozzi looking for some help on patents. Michael pinged me, and that’s when I first started working with Hatem.

Before launching into the next post, let me tell you what a pleasure it is to blog this.

You see, in our consulting business, Michael and I are sworn to secrecy. The work we do for our clients is described on our website. But a more pithy way to describe our work is that it deals with hard sh#$. Future sh%^. Hard future sh#$.

The thing about hard future sh@# is that, generally speaking, these are among the most closely guarded secrets of our clients.

Yet this work we do with and for our clients is so bloody interesting! Eminently blog-worthy.

But no blogging for me. Since I can’t blog about this work, I’m confined to blogging about hard future sh$% in topics like politics, health, sport, psychology, etc.

Confined, that is, until today.

Free, free at last. 🙂