Kayaks Suck

July 28, 2006

Today we picked up pork sandwiches and corn on the cob from Paseo then headed down to the water to eat. We discussed the merits of canoes versus kayaks, and I maintain that a canoe is superior.

On the way to and from lunch we armchair navigated through the twisty maze of streets just East of the North end of the University Bridge.

Oh, I also let an eleven month old pug chew on my hand while attempting to photograph him. You’d get one of these super-cute pictures, but I left my camera’s USB cable at home after uploading pictures from the injury-free rollover in my neighborhood last night.

On a bratwurst roll

July 27, 2006

Lunch today was paid by Bob
Whom Fortuna of late seems oft to rob.

Topics of war went ‘round our table
To make a clear point, none were able

(Except maybe Todd, by reading The Stranger—
Silence may be the best shelter from danger).

Moral relativism means wishy-washy.
At least that’s what I got from Joshy.

When asked whose argument seemed to lose
It seemed quite easy for them to choose.

I may not have a very convincing way
But at least I didn’t have to pay… today.

Tuesday is the new Monday

July 26, 2006

As lunch conversations go, Tuesday’s was rather a dud, as we never landed on a cohesive topic. We chatted a bit about 2-stroke versus 4-stroke engines. We chatted a bit about the Merlin Mann detente. We talked about wrapping up the latest 43 Places projects before we run off in all directions, trying to live our lives as if we’re on vacation. Then, during the stroll back to the office, Josh tried to convince us that modern-day grudge-holding can be supported by classical views on justice. We sipped our iced coffees and weighed the notion.

On Consciousness

July 25, 2006

Talk today turned to the rather astonishing fact that humans (or animated meat, as we were referring to them) seem to have consciousness. How is that possible, and if possible (and we all agreed it does seem possible), why couldn’t other meat (or, because we are all computer dorks, machines) be animated with consciousness.

The first clue that nobody really knows anything about this topic is that there isn’t even a settled spelling of the subject. We have the “conscious” mind and we have our “conscience” and both refer to the same thing, right? Or do they? In practice, the former is used to describe our self aware mental state, the latter, the virtual organ we credit with moral judgement. But these are the same right? Etymologically, we are looking at words with the same roots, and interestingly, they talk about common knowledge – con scientia – that is “knowing with”.

Explaining how consciousness could exist seems simple until you try. Is consciousness a fundamental aspect of reality – some basic element of life – or does the existence of consciousness depend on other non-conscious elements be they physical, biological, computational, or neural. If you go with the latter – where does the spark come from that turns the ingredients “on” and why couldn’t we reproduce that process to animate some other collection of parts. If you go with the former, prepare to get called a hippy by your co-workers.

Anyway, Todd helped Bob break his losing streak yesterday, and paid for our Thai food. Bob managed to break our blogging streak by going passive aggressive and refusing to pick anyone to write the last blog post – let’s hope we don’t have any more of that. Such emotional robots!


July 20, 2006

The temperature is rising in Seattle. Bob lost twice at credit card roulette this week. Tomorrow he could pull a “turkey” if he loses for a third time in a row. I skipped out on lunch today so I can’t summarize the conversation, but I can say that we’re all a bunch of fortune cookies shadowboxing with ourselves in a house of mirrors. Or so it feels to me this week. Instead of onward and upward, I’m feeling byways and sideways.

Tomorrow should be 93F/34C in Seattle. As my Boston relatives say, “It’s gonna be a COOKAH!”

So many spices on the tofu that you can no longer find the tofu

July 19, 2006

My morning goal adoption of understand my emotions lead to a discussion of the concept of “self”. Which is how the rambling entry title, “so many spices on the tofu that you can no longer find the tofu” came to be. That was blurted out when I agreed with Josh that the idea of a totally independent self is a mostly flawed western concept. Sure, there’s a self (we’re all born separate bits of tofu) but by the time the competing spices of family, geography, language, culture and countless other influences are layered on, it’s impossible to separate out the self. Tofu may taste like tofu in general, but it also takes on the flavors of it’s surroundings. I am Daniel tofu hot dog.

If the self is tofu then perhaps emotions are condiments. Relish them. And don’t repress your emotions or it’ll eventually ketchup with you. Just soy you know, I’m part German. When I’m grumpy people call me a saurkraut. You’re probably thinking, “Daniel mustard lost his mind”. Maybe. Mayo-be not!

The Purpose of Our Company and Our Lives

July 18, 2006

Today our lunch conversation involved everybody briefing each other. Josh briefed us on the history of Israeli wars. Erik briefed us on the ill health of Maggie’s cat. Ivan briefed us about the ongoing bullying between his chickens. Bob briefed us on the cleanliness of his condo for sale. I briefed Erik on how strange last night was at the Rendezvous, including the part about the band fights but omitting the part about the burlesque dancers. We all reviewed last night’s brief conversation with the nice waitress at Havana. She is named Rachel and she is from Upstate New York. Incidentally, while at Havana last night, we talked about how to maximize the philanthropic side effects of our company, should we succeed. And we attempted to define each of our purposes in life. Now that would have made an interesting blog post.


July 18, 2006

Today I write this blog post because Erik paid a three digit lunch bill (including tip). I’m often accused of cheating at Credit Card Roulette but I don’t know how I do it. I bet everybody else are sore losers.

Lunch topics today included the crappy cell phones and cell phone service we have here in the US. One of Erik’s friends had a cell phone with not one, but two cameras! One for photo taking and a second one for video conferencing. In Asia everybody has phones with these kinds of nifty features (and uses them), but here we have to pay extra to get the fancy phones then pay more to use them (if we even can).

Shortly after that we moved into the glorious rent prices of days of old, probably from back when I was in middle school and not even thinking about any of that “real world” stuff. (Not that I do know.)

Luck, Fortune, and Chance

July 14, 2006

I have to think of a theme for my Toastmasters meeting next week and one I’ve been considering is the theme of luck. .. a favorite topic of the Robot Co-op, inspired early on in part by the wonderful book Fooled by Randomness (read it). Today, at Bimbo’s Bitchin’ Burrito Kitchen, luck led Bob to pay for our gut bomb of a lunch, and because he claims I cheated (even though I was only looking out for his own self-interest), I get to write the blog post about it.

Josh, a learned student of the classics, brought up the dichotomy of chance and fortune in the context of luck. Chance, the random distribution of good and bad events; Fortune, that fickle lady who determines if you will land on the lucky or unlucky side of the distribution.

Todd, myself, and Bob believe that luck is basically a mislabeled package of personality traits like resourcefulness, boldness, and a positive affect. Feeling lucky often begets being luck… but only when the game is not entirely one of chance. Lucky people seem lucky because they can inspire themselves and others to bring about desirable events… no supernatural blessing required. But, because resourcefulness, boldness, and a positive affect do often lead indirectly to good fortune, the word luck has become an easy label to place on the larger phenomenon. Josh, on the other hand, didn’t appreciate the sloppy bending of the dictionary sense of the word. Which is understandable. I think it’s somehow MySpace’s fault.

In true games of chance, like Roulette, I think we all agreed that feeling lucky has no correlation with how well you’ll do in the game. Sure, you can try employing the Martingale betting strategy or wear a computer that detects flaws in the wheel and takes advantage of them, but as Einstein might have said, “You cannot beat a roulette table unless you steal money from it.” Or, I guess, by quitting when you’re ahead.

In the end, Josh and Bob agreed on some idea of fortune, but I think I was processing a burp at the time and can’t remember what it was exactly.

The Guilty Conscience of Self Improvement

July 13, 2006

Todd was nice enough to pay for lunch today but then quickly showed his meaner side by choosing me to write the blog entry, and I don’t think he even felt guilty about it. When asked the reason behind the decision, he explained that he was tired of paying for meals and thought the best chance of getting a free lunch would be to assign the writing to me since I would be the one most likely to forget and have to pick up the next lunch.

Well, sorry to disappoint, but I’ll rise to the challenge of writing an entry, and I don’t think I’ll feel guilty about doing it either. After all, I don’t believe in the conscience. Or maybe that’s just that I don’t believe in being conscious. I forget sometimes.

The walk to lunch continued on from where the conversation from yesterday’s walk back from lunch ended. Who had a guilty conscience about the results of yesterday’s game. Should Daniel have felt guilty about letting the first game run when he hadn’t put in his card? Should Todd have felt guilty for letting Josh pay even though he had lost the first game? Should we all have felt guilty that Josh both paid for lunch and wrote the blog post? Given the lack of follow up to Josh’s challenge in his post to get other guilty parties to write, it is apparent that none of us feel all that guilty.

With the guilt trip out of the way, the conversation then turned to self improvement. Josh had just watched a video podcast of Tony Robbins and thought there was something profound in there. I tried watching the video but quickly had to turn it off—he talks so fast that the words were gone before they had time to sink in.

This led to a discussion of the self-improvement industry, apparently a billions upon billions of dollars a year industry. Erik just got back from his meditation retreat. Todd has planned a month full of activities—so many that I wonder how he will be able to get through them all. Josh considered a few different conferences and retreats.

Are self improvement conferences and seminars helpful? What would you expect to get out of one? Will they provide techniques that will aid in your quest for self improvement, or can you do just as well-and save a lot of money-through more personal exercises in self discovery and experimentation?