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i++ admiring stars walking home from the ferry

i++ watching dope; the wow moment when we possible have become what we fear the most

i++ his coworker: the only thing to fear is the fear of lack of sleep 😉

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mountaintop skating, the windiest spot in toronto, and perhaps fireflies

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In 2016, I celebrated my birthday at Black Sheep Inn and experienced a swirling sensation as we hiked the Quilotoa Loop. Our destination seemed well within reach but the path was obscured by the multitude of valleys between here and there. Then the low clouds came in and the lay of the land became even more mystifying.

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In 2018, how shall I celebrate my birthday? Well, birthdays are about believing in magic and magic is especially important in February, which may feel like the darkest and coldest month.

Option A: mountaintop skating because everything is more magical on top of a mountain

Option B: finding the windiest spot in Toronto for kite flying because life is about having a long volatility strategy

Option C: watching the night sky and believing that the stars are perhaps fireflies hovering just out of reach

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img src=Milliman Forum Nov 16, 2005 (wow twelve years) (trying to remember what it was like being twenty-two)

pluto used to be a planet


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Before being demoted to a mere exoplanet by Mike “Pluto Killer” Brown, Pluto was riding high as Planet Nine. Before being demoted to a mere exoplanet by Mike “I Hate Pluto” Brown, Pluto was riding high as Planet Nine. But you know what, no one can tell Pluto what it is and is not, and no one can tell you that either. Pluto can still be a planet if it wants, and you can still be an artist if you want, so do your thing.

Yesterday, the cashier at Metro had to restart the machine twice. Standing there watching the windows logo crawl across the monitor, I thought of DFW again (e.g. within your power to experience a crowded, hot, slow, consumer-hell type situation as not only meaningful, but sacred, on fire with the same force that made the stars) and proceeded to compare and contrast the various ways the people ahead of me in line expressed their frustrations.

In this age of social media, people talk about personal branding all the time. PwC has an entire deck on how to impress others “with the unique and authentic you”. My problem is more fundamental. How to impress myself with the unique and authentic me?

Maybe what makes my life “not only meaningful, but sacred, on fire with the same force that made the stars” is my ability to find joy in the analysis of any situation. Fighting!

off to the rat race

When Trevor did my performance review a few years ago, he threw in this Oscar Wilde quote: We are all in the gutter, but some of us are looking at the stars.

David Foster Wallace provides a good description of my stars: If you’re automatically sure that you know what reality is, and you are operating on your default setting, then you, like me, probably won’t consider possibilities that aren’t annoying and miserable. But if you really learn how to pay attention, then you will know there are other options. It will actually be within your power to experience a crowded, hot, slow, consumer-hell type situation as not only meaningful, but sacred, on fire with the same force that made the stars

Basically, I have this belief that, if I keep trying, I will find that every person at work is on the same wavelength as me and every work situation is “not only meaningful, but sacred, on fire with the same force that made the stars”.

DFW: That is real freedom. That is being educated, and understanding how to think. The alternative is unconsciousness, the default setting, the rat race, the constant gnawing sense of having had, and lost, some infinite thing

I think part of growing up is realizing that there is no real freedom. To make peace with “the constant gnawing sense of having had, and lost, some infinite thing”, we need to accept that “we are all in the gutter” and running the rat race.

This is not an easy thing for me to accept because I’ve tried so hard to be somewhat different. Maybe it’s not about running a different race but running the race differently.

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  • Sorting my pictures from Jordan (here is one from petra night)
  • When we did my year end review last year, Trevor quoted Oscar Wilde: We are all in the gutter, but some of us are looking at the stars.
  • Listening to Counting Stars
Old, but I'm not that old
Young, but I'm not that bold
And I don't think the world is sold
I'm just doing what we're told
Everything that kills me makes me feel alive
Everything that downs me makes me wanna fly
Lately I been, I been losing sleep
Dreaming about the things that we could be
But baby, I been, I been prayin' hard
Said no more counting dollars
We'll be, we'll be counting stars

a space odyssey


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This time, the last part left the strongest impression.

Thus Spoke Zarathustra

“I tell you: one must have chaos in one, to give birth to a dancing star. I tell you: you still have chaos in you.

Alas! The time is coming when man will give birth to no more stars. Alas! The time of the most contemptible man is coming, the man who can no longer despise himself.

Behold! I shall show you the Ultimate Man.

‘What is love? What is creation? What is longing? What is a star?’ thus asks the Ultimate Man and blinks.

The earth has become small, the upon it hops the Ultimate Man, who makes everything small. His race is as inexterminable as the flea; the Ultimate Man lives longest.

‘We have discovered happiness,’ say the Ultimate Men and blink.”