Website traffic

So as much as I say that I’m writing for myself, it’s always interesting to see the traffic patterns. I can see why people become obsessed with Facebook’s algorithm and making it happy since it is what drives so much sporadic traffic. It’s kinda like the rats and birds that become superstitious, you just start to think that certain things will cause traffic.

All that to say, that no one seems to care about Seneca, but sadly for you, I don’t have anything more interesting at the moment (that’s probably a lie, but my thoughts on those topics are a bit scattered right now).

I think it’s also bit apropos that the topic of that post was on accepting and embracing helping one person and not many. Facebook and Twitter have conspired to make sure I really appreciate that point.

Think Globally, Act Locally

I’ve been thinking about this duality for a while, many years in fact. But for some reason, it showed up in multiple ways today.

I have a tendency to be a big picture person, I see it, and I want to get us there. The problem is that along that road there are a lot of small victories that need to be had. It’s often demoralizing if you know where you should be, and know how far ahead it still is.

Oddly enough, today’s letter of Seneca I read (#7) had these choice quotes:

“One man means as much to me as a multitude, and a multitude only as much as one man.”

Democritus

“I am content with few, content with one, content with none at all.”

“I write this not for the many, but for you; each of us is enough of an audience for the other.”

Epicurus

My take away for today is that while there are many big picture items I will strive towards, it’s only by taking small steps, by helping one person, improving one tool, that I’ll be able to achieve them.

Viveport sucks

So I cancelled my viveport account, I’m not sure, like 2-3 months ago. And then today noticed that they had just charged me again! So I contact support, and oh, they can’t refund me unless I somehow have a screenshot of the cancellation screen of my refund.

That’s total BS, I’m going to do a chargeback via my Visa, but I’d really recommend everyone be really careful with Viveport. Pretty shady and I won’t trust them in the future. See relevant post about refunds as brand loyalty.

Money gets to people’s head

There’s a good interview with Abigail Disney who, as you may of guessed by the last name, has a lot of money.

You can read it here: https://www.thecut.com/2019/03/abigail-disney-has-more-money-than-shell-ever-spend.html

I think there’s this idea that we should all aim to be rich. That money is a valid metric for success. I think it’s a bit like wanting to be CTO or CEO (something I’ve struggled with potentially wanting). It’s outsourcing your feelings of self worth to something you can point to. It’s not real, but you can tell yourself it’s important.

The public service is non partisan

As you may know I’ve recently started at CDS. CDS is part of the Treasury Board of Canada Secretariat, making me a civil servant. While I’ve had some fun blogging random, not really useful, thoughts about the current going-ons in politics I’m going to stop. While I don’t think they were partisan in nature ( since they were pretty much all over the place ), the default go to for civil servants is to stay quiet publicly about their personal thoughts on politics. I actually think this is a good, and a very important thing. I think Canadians needs to know that the folks in the civil service are working for the country ( technically the Queen ) and not working for a political party.

When joining the public service you take an oath. Part of it reads:

I solemnly affirm that I will faithfully and honestly fulfil the duties that devolve on me by reason of my employment in the public service of Canada

That oath is no matter what the government of the day is. And I intent to uphold that oath, no matter what the government of the day is. That’s why I won’t be posting any more musings on politics for the foreseeable future.

Starting a new job

Starting a new job is always a mix of nervousness and excitement. While you can’t ever extrapolate from one day, meeting the team at CDS and chatting with many of the folks there was very enlightening. My key take away is that there’s a lot of work to be done, a lot of processes to be improved, and technical systems to be updated. I think we have our work cut out for us and I’m really excited about being able to help make it happen.

Refunds as Brand Loyalty

When I started working at Automattic I did 3 weeks of support. One thing that struck me was our refund policy. Basically, whatever the reason, if the client wanted a refund and the credit card processor would let us do it, we would refund. No trying to convince them otherwise (we did try to fix any problems they may of had first, if any), no trying to sell them on another plan etc.

I’ve noticed that when a place offers easy refunds, I’m much more likely to buy things I’m not sure about. Two of those places that come to mind are Amazon and Home Depot. Home Depot is so great with refunds that my default is to buy more and return if I have too many. Now of course, sometimes I don’t return them and Home Depot made more money. Also they’ve become my default store for anything home renovations. Same goes with Amazon. It’s so easy and hassle free to return something that I’m much more willing to take a chance on an item I’m not sure of.

All that to say, if you treat customers right when something went wrong, it’ll probably pay off in the end.

Religion as Community

I was talking to someone who was previously what I’d call a militant atheist. They were very disdainful of religion (something I’ve at times been guilty of in the past). I was talking about how I recently viewed religion in a new lens, the “community” aspect. By that I mean that, for some, the critical aspect of religion is not the specific beliefs, but rather the sense of community you get. The benefit is that you have others who share the same general values as you.

And I say “share the same general values as you” but really, those values are often common to everyone. I’ve rarely met folks who didn’t want to treat others like you’d want to be treated, who didn’t care about others, or who didn’t want to make the world a better place. Maybe I’m being idealistic but I’d attribute those values to a large majority of people.

With a religious community, you’re primed to be kind to others in it. I don’t think this is limited to religious communities. Personally I feel it’s similar to meeting other Franco-Manitobains (and even now Franco-Ontarians), and I would suspect this also extents to other minority groups.

Maybe it’s the big city, maybe it’s the atheism, I’m not sure where, but I feel like we’ve lost that sense of community. Or at least, that it’s less prominent in my life personally.

It’s strange because, let’s say 50% of folks share my values, those of being compassionate, of trying to make the world a better place for everyone, etc. Then why am I not starting from a place where I assume that’s the ones they share and treat them as part of my community?

Why is it that we’re not “primed” for doing the neighborly thing in the city? That without some (somewhat arbitrary) common ground we don’t assume the best intentions, or we don’t lead with compassion. Why are we (or maybe it’s just me) not primed for that outside of our niche community?

I don’t want this post to sound like I’m not critical of many aspects of religion. I feel that many of the religious scriptures of all religions can teach us a lot, it’s just that sometimes it seems like the ground crew implements it in ways that are sub-optimal.

But one thing religion has done well, is bring folks together. Whenever someone was going thru tough times back home, everyone would take turns cooking suppers, babysitting, help with construction after an unexpected accident, etc.

That feeling of community is something I want to focus on in the next year. Of building and fostering a community of friends. If you’re interested in joining, let me know :).

Brand Disloyalty

I still remember vividly that day at Scotiabank. I had just started university and wanted a line of credit for my small business. I had my business plan, which allegedly was important and met the manager. I was looking for $5000 and my father was willing to co-sign. He was not interested and for all intents and purposes told me to stop wasting his time.

The funny thing is now a decade later. Scotiabank really wants me as a client. Mortgage, credit cards, even lines of credit. I suspect that I make banks money now. I have a good job, have a house and some investments. But I’ll never bank with Scotia.

If you have a really big business, I think you need to be careful in not pissing off future clients. Maybe It wasn’t worth that manager’s time then, but if you didn’t care about me then, I won’t care about you now.

Mindful eating

5 years ago I started what’s basically the slow carb diet. Not really a diet, but a lifestyle change since it’s not just a temporary restriction of certain foods, but rather removing most / all processed foods, cutting out sugar as much as possible and if eating carbs, focus on things like legumes or whole grains.

It’s worked great, I’ve lost ~45Lbs since starting it and have been able to stay there.

While that really helped me get to a healthy weight, I still have a few problematic eating habits. Mostly around eating for no reason. By that I mean, overly snacking on food when I’m not really hungry. I was able to shift my snacking from eating large amounts of nuts or fruit to eating large amounts of vegetables (peas, pickles, salsa, etc). Now that’s much healthier but didn’t really deal with the deeper issue.

That’s fine as I’m a big fan of incrementalism and think it’s unrealistic to try to break all your bad habits at once. Now that I’m at a better place I’ve joined Nerd Fitness and my current focus is on mindful eating.

The idea is that now instead of just going for the fridge when bored, I ask myself, “Am I actually hungry? Or is it just that I’m not so full I could stuff more things in my stomach?”. I then also don’t multi task when eating. No listening to a podcast, no watching a youtube video, no working or reading emails, all I do is focus on eating.

It’s interesting and I still have lots of progress to make. I just ate a bunch of pickles and I’m pretty sure I wasn’t hungry, just looking to procrastinate.

I think I’ve set some good systems in place to help me (and a reward if I stick to this for 3 months). Hopefully in a few months time I’ll be able to understand my hunger better and react better to it.

If you’re interesting in nutrition, particularly the psychology of it, I’d strongly recommend reading Xi Zhang’s blog on the matter: https://ithinkthereforeiovereat.blogspot.com/ she actually has qualifications to talk about this, as opposed to me who just rambles about things that have worked for me.