Saturday, November 16, 2013

Do I actually do something at work?

One Friday I was talking with a college about plans for the weekend. I told her that was going to do some home improvement stuff, to which she replied, "It'll be nice to do some thing real" as to opposite of our abstract work at the office.

Later this got me thinking about how a see my work. Do I really think of it as only something virtual?

In my spear time, I enjoy building stuff, log hewing. Now working with heavy timber by any definition is 'real work'. You use 'real tools' like axe's and chain saws. You get gritty hands and sweaty backs. It does not get any more concrete than this, does it?

What about my day job then?

I work as a demand planner at a Finnish textile company and most of what I do is numbers in spreadsheets or settings and parameters in our forecasting and replenishment tool or lines in process drawings. All of which is somewhat virtual, as I do not actually cut fabric or move boxes. By definition, this would be abstract, as it does not have a physical referent.

However, it does not feel abstract to me. Is it because I have a general understanding of the inner workings of a database, the place where our numbers reside? Is it because it have a grasp of entire process of our company? Does this lead me to see the effect of my work, even if the physical result of it is geographically distant or in the future? Similar to that when starting to shape a log, with just an idea in my head.

I wunder how other office dwellers view their work, do they share the general perception that office work is primarily abstract?

Friday, July 26, 2013

1€ a month to save Radio Helsinki

Since I just love listening to Radio Helsinki, I thought I'd offer my two cent to the pile of ideas on how to save the station.

The premises, one great radio station that play and says pretty much what ever they like, a growing international audience and annual budget deficit of around 350 000€.

Although Finnish is a beautiful language for radio, to address the increasing global audience, there is a need for more programming in English. My suggestion is that from 7 am to 7 pm the broadcasting would, like it is today, be in Finnish, but from 7 pm (which would be 9 am pacific in the US, or late afternoon in Japan and Australia) to 7 am the live broadcasting would be in English.

The question is, should this be done locally with talented DJ's like Nick Triani (host of the ever so popular show “8 ½”) or should the English broadcasting be done as a joint venture with some other North American “free/alternative”-station? Or bought programming like the great “Little Steven's Underground Garage”. Or would the “Radio Helsinki” feeling survive if the original Finnish shows where to be voice-over-ed?

How would this save Radio Helsinki? Wouldn't this just add coast? Well it would add coast, but couldn't this partial English broadcasting open up new audiences? And here comes suggestion number two, the webcast subscription model. The bulk of the money would still need to come from advertisers, but with a growing portion from web subscribers.

Listening to the webcast could be done “live” that would be just like listening to the radio, in Finnish or English, depending on the daily schedule. Or the user could choose a preferred language an listen to earlier broadcasts in that language, in a radio-on-demand kind of way.

The webcast would be free, for one hour of listening per day. If you'd like to listen for more than one hour a day, you'd need to buy subscribe for a very low fee of 1€ or $ per month, which would entitle you to unlimited listing time for as long as the subscription is valid.

Now suppose everybody (which is unlikely, but let's be optimistic) who likes the “SaveRadio Helsinki”-facebook page would subscribe for one year. That would generate 26 095 (as of July 26th, 11:28am) x 1€ x 12 months = 313 140€. Not quite the missing 350 000€ (plus the cost of the 'Englishsification'), but one would think that a global audience would be attractive enough to increase revenue from advertisers and by keeping up the high standard of broadcasting there could be a real substantial chance of growing the number of subscribers, so that in a year or two the station would be self-sufficient.

As a huge bonus for us locals in Helsinki, we could still listen to our beloved radio station the old-fashion way on 88,6 MHz!

Sunday, September 30, 2012

Cinderellas mountain bike shoe.

Yesterday when I carried my trail-muddy 29:er trough our apartment into the shower, I started to wonder how many wife's would consider this a normal thing to do and not nag about all the mud on the floor?

How did I know my wife would be one of the former? It all traces back to a pre-party gathering about 11 years. There where some colleges leaving Compaq and a farewell party was due on Friday and some of us decided to meet up at Sini's place before going to the pub. As I got to her place that Friday evening and was met by a red and white Schwinn Moab, I started to feel that she was more than just “the cute product marketing girl from the second floor”.

The next morning I was heading out for a ride and to my pleasant surprise, Sini came towards me on the bike path on her way to help out at the canoe club. Then I knew there was more to this girl.

As I pondered on this, I realized that, lets face it, a somewhat older dude and with almost 10 years of marital bliss in the pocket, I just might qualify to the “advice to young people givers club”.

So listen up all (young) MTB:ers still looking for the right one, who want to know how you know when you found her/him. You could go by the old wisdom of “trust me you'll know”, but in case of missing sure signs like MTB's in the hall way, you could try this little test.

Next time your significant-other-prospect comes over to your place, leave your bike unwashed with a trail of mud on the carpet.

If the reaction is more in the way of “man, that must have been a great ride” rather than “what's with all the mud”, you've got a keeper and you are together heading for many happy miles on the single track of life.
Still the one.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

The importance of context

It's 5:54 on a Saturday morning I should be sleeping. But the storm is howling out side and the thoughts generated by listening to the philospher Esa Saarinen's lecture yesterday is whirling around in my head.

During the lecture I notice Mr Saarinen explicitly mentioned quite a few dead people. In order of apperance:
  • Terry Fox
  • his friends husband
  • his own father
  • a decorated war veteran
  • his uncle Eino
This lead me to the following question:
Do I recognize his need to to process death by mentioning 5 dead persons or,
is it because I have a hidden need to process death that I notice theses mentions?

Hi later ends the lecture with a clip of Shirley Bassey signing
...and now the end is near...

Now this could all be coincidence, after all hi does mention ice-hockey and beer alot more than death. I don't know the guy enough to tell if he really likes hockey and beer this much or is he just good at targeting his lecture according to his crowd. After all, speaking to a general Finnish audience, for a majority ice hockey is a religion and beer is God. But i would be surprised if a speaker of this magnitude would say anything by chance.

During his lecture Saarinen used many film and TV clips, one of which has a clip from the movie Invictus staring Morgan Freeman as Nelson Mandela and Matt Damon as the South African rugby legend François Pienaar. From the scene where  François meets Mr. Mandela for the first time, Saarinen points out a line said by Mr. Mandela to Mrs Brits as she comes in with the afternoon tea, it went something like this:
Ah Mrs Brits, you are the sunshine of my days
Saarinen then goes on by how great it was of Mr. Mandela to great his assistant in such a warm way. [haa  haa, almost made a subconscious slip there by typing "worm" instead of "warm"] Once again I'm not sure, did Saarinen intentionally take this line out of context, a line that had been preceded only a few lines earlier by another line by Mr. Mandela, again freely quoted:
Please sit here François (pointing at the chair, then walking to the sofa with it's back against the windows and continuing) the light hurts my eyes

Taking that Saarinen's lecture evolves around this loosely translated statement of his:
Positivity is not the absence of negativity
but a treasure chest, that the size of which we determine
It is easy to see why he would chose to down play, or miss altogether, the sarcastic link between these two lines, the light hurting Mr. Mandelas eyes and him calling his assistant "sunshine" (or massive amounts of light). This is where Kelso, of That 70's show, would yell out "Burn!!".  The statement itself led me to construct this formula

P = positive willpower or intent or cause
N = negative willpower or intent or cause
R = the  real world out come or effect

this in turn would give
 the size of P (positive force) and N (negative force) is up to each of us to determine for our self and thous "dragging" R toward the larger of these to forces. In order to make the world a more positive place we need to take every action to make the positive as big as we can.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

A letter to Lance

On what would have been my father's birthday, I took a break from reading and wrote a letter to Lance.

Dear Lance and the livestrong team,

Hope it’s OK to call you Lance, as Mr. Armstrong doesn’t seem to fit
among fellow cyclists.

I’ve been meaning to write to you for many years, but never gotten
around to it, knowing that you must get like a million messages, but
here’s one more.

On the day that would have been my father’s birthday I want to thank
you, you’d been an inspiration for me and my family in more than one way.

The first and most obvious is the cycling part. About the same times as
your first come back in 1999 I started to take cycling more seriously
with club level racing. Trying to emulate your style of riding with a
high cadence and loving long climbs.

Some five year later comes the second and third reason to thank you for
your inspiration, as my wife and I had trouble getting a child. In the
midst of the on setting despair I said to my wife “If Lance made it
through this so can we”. Just a few months after we began our treatments
(IUF and IVF), my father (also an active cyclist) was diagnosed with
lung cancer.
Once again I said, this time to my dad, “If Lance made it through this
so can you” and he did, or much longer than the one year the doctors
said he would. Four years he lived strong and active, volunteering at schools and
raising funds as a Rotary regional governor, until he probably felt his
job was done. The day after he died was also the day I took of my yellow
band, not that I gave up on the fight against cancer, but to focus on
the memories of my father before the illness.

Two years later we adopted our daughter, she never got to meet her
granddad, but she shares the family passion for cycling. When she grows
up, she wants to be a triathlete and reach for the sky when she crosses
the finish line like the cycling boys on TV.

Riding around on your bike really can make a difference. Thank you!

-roger & family

Dad's Texan card

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Road signs

Next up is the question of symbols, extensively explained through the example of numerals and numbers. Numerals like 1,2,3.. or I, II, III are not the same as one of something, two of something a.s.o. I like to illustrate this with this Buddhist proverb:

Truth has nothing to do with words. Truth can be likened to the bright moon in the sky. Words, in this case, can be likened to a finger. The finger can point to the moon’s location. However, the finger is not the moon. To look at the moon, it is necessary to gaze beyond the finger, right?

The Sixth Patriarch Hui Neng of the Zen sect
This is quite clear to all, but this is also where I hit another problem I have whit many religions. Here I refer to the many holy scripts, that are taken as "the words of God".

Many readers of these scripts are so concentrated on the story that they miss the plot altogether. The plot is great "Be compassionate towards each other", for simple folks of ancient times this was probably to abstract. The stories needed to be more concrete examples and advice for every day life at the time, and that they still are. But this doesn't make the letters (the symbols for a pronounced sound) the words of God.    

This is like taking the finger for  the moon, or the road signs for the town it points to.

Likewise, the act of doing good, being compassionate, is not the good, it's the result of  doing good that is the good.  That makes evil the result of the absent of compassion and as I stated in my previous post,

Only where and when there are beings capable of compassion, can God exist
One further danger to take the letters for the words of God, is the fact that these stories has also been used as objects of power to direct and control the actions of the subject and thous the stories have most likely been adjusted or interpreted to suit the needs of the rulers along the decades since the actual events depicted happened.

As a final note about part II of the book, reading 17th century text is hard for the untrained reader.

Now on to part III, epistemology.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Where the fun begins

Continuing to read on in the "Core Questions In Philosophy (Elliott Sober)" and at the beginning of Part II;chapter 4 I found my self stuck on a disagreement with the text. Part II is also where the fun begins, part I is a description of the mechanics of classic western philosophy, which is not to say it isn't useful or interesting, which it is.

Back to the point where I got stuck. It's in the definition of God (God-A), used by Saint Thomas Aquinas "God is a person or being who is all-powerful (omnipotent), all-knowing (omniscient) and  entirely good (omnibenevolent) [all-PKG], that the author seems to take somewhat as a given, although the author does comment on that this is not the only definition. But even in the referred to chapter 11, it's not questioned that God be a being of gender, only that 'he' might not be all-PKG. I do understand the need to limit the scope in order to more easily be able to illustrate the process of philosophical testing of arguments.

But why not test the basics of the premises to see if they are true. If you set out to prove a being with big ears and a long trunk exists, you'll probably come up with an argument for the existence of an elephant. What if the object of proof doesn't have big ear or a trunk, if the object to be proven is the effect of the long trunk, the sound coming out of it.

In my definition of God (God-E) [see my previous post] I dismissed part of the all-PKG God-A definition and the fact that God-E is is a physical being, furthermore my view is the God-E is not the cause but the effect.

It's like the sound when you whistle, just because you have a mouth doesn't mean that there is the sound of you whistling, but if you had no mouth it would be impossible to hear you whistle. God is like the sound, not like the mouth.

Then there's the problem that humans have a need to be able to explain everything, and when faced with something that they  have not been able to explain, they've taken the short cut of assigning it to the doings of the Gods. These God-X's are something totally different to the God-E and can in part be dismissed by modern science.

Still the fact that our capability to understand is limited and renders us inherently unable to understand everything hold open the possibility for God-X's to exist.But God-X's doesn't have to be all-PKG.

From the point of view of a dog. A dog probably doesn't understand the inner workings of an internal combustion engine, but still the engine exist as some thing the dog doesn't understand. Even if the dog would consider the maker of the engine a God-X, this God-X or engineer, as we call them, doesn't have to be all-PKG, just PKG-enough to produce the engine.

So far the argument (that I feel I'll need to revise at some point) includes:
God-A, is a composite of a wrongfully interpreted God-E, as the cause not the effect, and the God-X's.
There are things we are unable to understand because of their complexity, that could be the workings of God-X, but could also be random events.
God-E, is the effect of love (in the form of compassion, caring, etc..) between beings

Only where and when there are beings capable of love between each other, can God-E exist

That would make for, God-A not be one necessary all-PKG entity, God-E a contingent effect and God-X would be the non-all-PKG maker of Paley's watch.

But Paley's watch need not have a maker, it could just be the product of a long string of random events, some of which we are incapable to understand. If the theory of mass-energy conservation is correct the string of events doesn't have to have a beginning or an end, it might as well be a circular chain of events.

Now what would be really interesting to know is, have I fallen for some rookie fallacy or is there some solidity to my argument?