Just Me

Today’s quirky Quora question was “What’s something you like that nobody else likes?”. None of the answers were very interesting, but I knew what mine would have been. It’s easy. THE DENTIST!

I just love the dentist. I’d go every month if I could rationalize it. I don’t find the procedure particularly pleasant or unpleasant … but afterwards, I love that just-been-to-the-dentist feeling! And it lasts for days!

Of course I just mean for cleaning. Fillings etc. are not so fun, though I can count on one hand how many of those I’ve had since my kids have been alive.

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Daily

I read a mildly interesting thread on Quora titled ‘What is the one thing you do that most people don’t?‘. It turned into a sort of helpful tips for being happier thread, and was mostly boring (lots of “be grateful”, “exercise”) or silly or self-promoting, but I liked a few of them:

  1. Before starting something mentally taxing, do Rubiks’ Cube.
  2. Record and analyze all failures.
  3. Use DuckDuckGo instead of Google. (This is my favorite!)
  4. Walk barefoot on grass when possible (regardless of weather).
  5. Write letters to yourself.
  6. Walk around the neighbourhood at 4 AM.

My answer: I stop completely at every Stop sign. I’d like to say “I never speed” and while this is much more true than average, it’s not literally true.

I also found one that I didn’t think of until I saw someone else had written it: I unconsciously count steps, eg. while climbing stairs. We were at Great Wolf Lodge and they had a fun quiz including “how many stairs are there to the top of the highest waterslide” and I knew the answer. Still do!! 88.

Golden

I am ultra-ashamed to admit that I watched a little bit (I SWEAR NO MORE THAN 15 MINUTES) of the Golden Globes. I think future alien visitors will dig up evidence of rich people having sat around congratulating each other for their skill at pretending to be other people and use this is a key example of how far Western culture fell.

Further proof that the GG’s are lame beyond measure: The Crown was a candidate for the two awards that I happened to watch, and won neither! WTF x1000.

On the other hand, and the reason I watched at all, Seth Myers’ monologue was  hilarious. I think if he were South African, I’d like him even more than Trevor.

“Happy New Year, Hollywood! It’s 2018, marijuana is finally allowed and sexual harassment finally isn’t!”

Sunday

Spanish yesterday was interesting but a REAL challenge! These guys (3 natives and one high-level student) talk at the speed of light (8 other students speak normally). I can keep up with two of them but it requires every ounce of mental energy. Ironically, at the end of the meeting, Luis asked, “Do you guys want me to speak slower? I learned French and I can read it no problem, but I can’t understand a single thing when they talk, it goes by way too fast!”. I answered No because listening to him is a good exercise. But I feel exhausted after two hours!

It occurs to me that we have an incredibly awesome year of activities coming up, including some sort of Spain-Latin America-whatever trip in September/October (this is no more than an idea at this point, but is very likely to firm up in a couple of months), and it’s possible that it will include another run at the West Coast Trail. Not to mention at least a couple bike trips with Dave, maybe starting in March.

But the thing I am most excited about is this: we hope to drive Ben home from school in April via Port Hardy. That is, we will drive to PG (848km), west to Prince Rupert (I didn’t realize it’s almost as far from PG to PR as from YVR to PG; 726km), take the ferry down, then Port Hardy to Nanaimo (388km).

The ferry only runs once a week at this time of year, and it’s a 22 hour trip that costs around $900 (with four people; we’re hoping Sam will come, too). I reckon the chances of this coming together are only around 50%, because it will depend on their exam schedules, eg. if his last exam is on Monday, he won’t want to wait around until Friday for the ferry. We should know in 4 weeks or so.

All The Money in the World

… would not have made this a better movie. BORING. Though, not totally awful. NOT worth seeing, though.

It’s the story of the kidnapping of the grandson of J. Paul Getty, and his refusal to pay the ransom (originally $17 million, negotiated down to $2.2, which he paid, this figure being the maximum he was able to deduct for tax purposes), and his mother’s fight to change her father-in-law’s mind.

A major theme of the movie was what a dick JPG was. As far as I can tell from surfing, this is basically accurate.

If you do see it, the ending implies that the Mom takes over the Getty oil empire, which is BS, but she did take over the charitable trust that held most of his wealth. Also, the scene where the kidnappers realize they are going to get caught and go back to try and kill the kid is, apparently, BS; as one would expect, why would they do that?

IRL, the kid (whose ear really did get cut off) OD’d in 1981, and was basically incapacitated after that, but survived 30 more years in a horrific state of dependency and died in 2011 at 54.

Anyway: AVOID. Again.

Hechos

I had to come up with some interesting factoids about Spain for my meetup tomorrow. So, about Spain, in approximate descending order of how interesting I thought it was.

  1. Puerta de Sol, roughly speaking the Robson Square of Madrid/Spain, is in the exact geographical centre of the country.
  2. Madrid/Barcelona is the 2nd busiest airline city pair in Europe. #1 is Paris/Toulouse. Globally, of the top 12, all 12 are in Asia/Australia.
  3. Third biggest global tourist destination (after France and USA).
  4. 2nd highest number of bars per capita (#1 = Cyprus).
  5. Highest rate of organ donation of any country.
  6. Third highest plastic surgery interventions.
  7. It’s normal to throw garbage on the ground in a bar. (Not observed be me).
  8. Divorce rate 17% vs. around 41% in Canada / USA.
  9. No laws preventing public nudity, common on beaches. (Not observed by me).
  10. Madrid subway 6th largest in the world by track length. The top systems are all in Asia except in terms of number of stations, NYC is #1.
  11. One of only 4 countries whose national anthem lacks lyrics.

Trumped

I really enjoyed this answer on Quora. I lightly edited it to shorten it a bit to encourage you to read it.

ANSWER:

One of the first questions future history textbooks will have to answer is: was Trump’s election and subsequent style of presidential leadership truly unprecedented? The answer is multifaceted.

Trump vs. Trump: If you ignore Hillary Clinton, Obama, Ted Cruz, and all the other politicians and just compare Trump with himself, his 2016 campaign and presidency aren’t unprecedented. He’s been lying and manipulating the truth his entire life. For decades, he’s ripped off contractors; he’s flip-flopped on the issues; and he’s fabricated falsehoods about his business and brand.

Trump vs. the Presidency: When you compare Trump with his predecessors, however, his legacy (through 2017 at least) is in fact unprecedented. The leaks; the tweets; the denials; the lack of solo press conferences; the staff terminations; the refusal to release his tax returns … one can go on and on. From the start of his political career, Trump broke all the rules and he continues to break them. As The New York Times put it, “Mr. Trump is redefining what it means to be president,” turning “a test of how to lead a country” into “an hour-by-hour battle for self-preservation.”[1] Perhaps to a greater extent than any president since FDR, Trump will be remembered less for his legislative achievements than his redefinition of the institution.

Trump vs. the World: Compared with other heads of state, Trump looks less unprecedented. Trevor Noah had a point when he joked that Trump was running on the wrong continent, and political pundits encourage such parallels all the time when they say something along the lines of “what’s happening in Washington right now is something you’d normally only see in a third world country.” Winning an election under controversial/suspicious circumstances is not unprecedented: it happened in Russia, Uganda, Kenya, the Ivory Coast, Iran, among other countries. Neither is stretching the facts to accommodate one’s political agenda: politicians in China, Africa, and the Middle East are notorious for bending the truth to match their ideological narrative.

Since none of these three is necessarily better or worse than the others, future history books will need to decide which lens is most appropriate for its readers. Narrow in on Trump, and he’s not unprecedented. Widen the scope to include all US presidents, and he’s very unprecedented. Widen the scope even further to include the rest of the world, and his level of unprecedentedness falls.