Monday, December 26, 2011

Cognitive Biases Mnemosyne Deck & Wallpapers

In an attempt to improve my ability to recognize cognitive biases in myself and others around me I've created a Mnemosyne deck based on the Visual Study Guide to Congnitive Biases that is derived from the Wikipedia page on the subject. I use the iSRS iPhone app to do a quick review of the cards when on the go.  I've also created 11 wallpapers from the visual study guide and use them as part of the image pool in my desktop background slide show.

Download Cognitive Biases Mnemosyne Deck (104 cards).
Download Cognitive Biases Wallpapers (11 images).

Sunday, December 25, 2011


I've been slowly going through the Michael Sandel Justice lectures at Harvard and enjoying them tremendously.  I was knocked off my ass laughing when I noticed that Spiderman was in the audience during lecture #6 on Immanuel Kant .
Spiderman attending justice lecture at Harvard

Friday, December 2, 2011

Bear Bells aren't as awesome as they sound

I first came across the idea of a bear bell when I was researching what gear I should be taking with me on a hike in the Mont-Tremblant national park.  The idea that I could have something with me that could generate enough lethal noise as to ward off a bear conjured up images of something along the lines of a sound canon similar to what was recently used during certain Occupy Wall Street protests in the states.

Imaginary Bear Bell
So without actually looking up what a bear bell looks like I ventured off the the hardware store to pick one up. Needless to say I was sadly disappointed...

Actual Bear Bell
This thing looks more like a diner bell than anything else.  If I was a bad ass bear in the woods stompin' around and I heard this I'd probably think it was snack time.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Review: You Are Not So Smart: Why You Have Too Many Friends on Facebook, Why Your Memory Is Mostly Fiction, and 65 Other Ways You're Deluding Yourself

You Are Not So Smart: Why You Have Too Many Friends on Facebook, Why Your Memory Is Mostly Fiction, and 65 Other Ways You're Deluding Yourself
You Are Not So Smart: Why You Have Too Many Friends on Facebook, Why Your Memory Is Mostly Fiction, and 65 Other Ways You're Deluding Yourself by David McRaney

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This was a really enjoyable read. I particularly liked the way McRaney prefaced each bias/effect/illusion/fallacy with a simple The Misconception vs. The Truth explanation. The chapters are brief and to the point easily making this an enjoyable reference book to casually return to when needed.

View all my reviews

Monday, October 3, 2011

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

First Strip

Here is my first go at making a strip. The humour is a little dark but that seems to be how my head works. I created the strip using the tools at if anyone is interested in trying their hand at it.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Planning the Mont-Tremblant Hike

Nancie and I will be heading out to Mont-Tremblant soon and I'm in the beginning stages of planning some of the hikes I'll be doing there.  So far I've identified "Le Carcan" as the most likely trail.  It sports 14,4 km of trail with an estimated time of completion of 5h-6h.  Most notably it leads you on a climb of the second highest peak available in the park (883m) while visiting several waterfalls along the way.  I just hope I'm in good enough shape.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Trapeze Fun

Finally made use of my trapeze lesson at Le Voltigeur coupon with Shawn over the week-end.  Re-posting the videos here to facilitate sharing with family and friends.  This is the most intense and demanding activity I done to date.  Dangerous too as a couple of people got dinged pretty good.  The sequence we perform in the videos below is the most advanced one we managed to execute properly.  We each had two attempts at being thrown back to our starting trapeze but neither of us got a proper hold of it.

And here is the one of Shawn doing the same sequence.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Omen in Yukon

Re-posting a video of the Youth Leadership Training 2011Omen participated in.  It's nice to see so many people taking the time to do good deeds.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Zip lining

Went zip lining with a bunch of friends for Martine's birthday.  Great way to spend a few hours!

Sunday, July 10, 2011

End of an Era...

I've recently started to discover the awesomeness of space geekdom by viewing old episodes of Carl Sagan's Cosmos television series.  To the point where I am developing an obsessive fascination for it.  Too bad it comes at the end of the manned space mission era.

I just finished watching Reid Gower's latest installment of The Sagan Series. So awesome to be hearing Sagan's voice narrating and commenting on this milestone of human development...

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Hardcore History: Death Throes of the Republic

I just finished listening to the last podcast in Dan Carlin's series titled the Death Throes of the Republic on his Hardcore History show.  Really well executed and fascinating to listen to.  Dan's got a way of making over 12 hours of ancient Rome history fly by.  I even managed to consume the last podcast (nearly 5:30 long) in a two to three day period.  I highly recommend the series to anyone who is even remotely curious about ancient Roman history.

Thursday, June 30, 2011


Can Google really pull off something decent in the social media space?  After the fiasco with Wave I'm not sure what to expect.  However, I'm so boooored with Facebook these days I think anything different may be good and from what I can see of the features Google+ will be putting forward I think its worth a close look.

It even seems like some of the features have crept up on my blogs already.  I just noticed that the Google+ is now part of the share widget on my blogspot hosted sites. I like the fact that this is already in place.  Now I just to wait for the sign ups to start after the field trials are over.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Sky Venture - Round II

Some footage of my second visit to SkyVenture in Laval.  Had a great time with everyone.  Look for Joey's spin in the first clip and Shawn's bomb in the second clip.

Friday, June 10, 2011

Seeing through a claim

So Nancie and I were horrified when a certain company's product that we applied to our pets actually ruined our less than four month old couches.  What is worst is that the documentation that came with the product made no mention of this possible side effect.  Nancie had the good sense of calling them to let them know what had happened, ask why there isn't mention of this potential problem in their documentation, and to see if they could do anything to help us out.  The representative at the company told Nancie that we could file a claim.  What follows is the email exchange I had with the representative afterwards.  I am only posting my side of the correspondence and have made some slight modifications to the text respect confidentiality clauses.

Initial email to confirm my understanding of the procedure we were asked to follow.   This is after having the specialist from the repair shop over to do his initial assessment.

Sent: 05/30/2011 07:17 PM
Dear Ms. Smith,

I am contacting you with an update regarding our upcoming claim for damages to our new leather sofa and love seat caused by coming into contact with our two dogs after having been treated with your company's product. I beleive that you have had phone conversation with my partner, copied here, on May 17 regarding how we should be proceeding with our claim submission.

As instructed we have contacted a repair service to request an estimate and have had a preliminary visit by one of their specialists to asses the damages. The specialist has assured us that he will be able to provide us with a final estimate at some point in the coming week after having verified the availability and cost of parts. Please note that we have already disbursed $142.41 in fees for this visit. These fees will be applicable towards the cost of the repair should we proceed with it.

We hope that you will find the steps we have taken to date to be satisfactory and in line with your expectations of how we should be handling the claim. Please let us know if we are missing anything needed for a quick resolution to this unfortunate incident.

kind regards,
Paul Fournier

Damon Horowitz calls for a "moral operating system"

I really like the way Horowitz is calling for a focus on basic philosophy as a means of guiding our decisions on how we should use our new technologies.   This talk ties in nicely with a piece in the New Yorker I heard about through the latest Common Sense podcast from Dan Carlin. The article quotes a crypto-mathematician, Bill Binney, who developed software called ThinThread used by the US security services as deeply regretting his involvement. I wonder if a better understanding of basic philosophy would of helped him make better decisions...

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Modern day Pagliacci - Anthony Griffith

Pagliacci has always been one of my favorite operas.  There is just something inherently heart wrenching and touching about a clown that has to put on a happy face to mask an inner turmoil of epic proportion.

I listened to this podcast of The Moth where Anthony Griffith recounts a heartbreaking time in his life during his rise to success as a stand up comic and couldn't help but to be deeply moved by it.

WARNING! Not for the faint of heart!

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Sky Venture Adventure

Had lots of fun at Sky Venture with Shawn today.  The two minutes of flight time went by way too fast but it is still a ton of fun.  We're looking to go again in the next few months.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Why I'm glad to see the Harper government go

I'm the first one to admit that I'm not the most well informed of voter out there.  In fact, I'm pretty sure that I've completely missed a few elections in the past.  Yes, I'm predisposed to be that oblivious.  Some people actually suggest that people like me do more harm than good in the democratic process and should just not get involved.  I am trying to do better, I am trying to be a responsible and informed voter because I think it is important and it does matter.

Now you may wonder why am I so happy to see Harper go?  Beside the obvious lack of transparency related to the cost of his programs I have the following two reasons.

  1. The unnecessary changes to the mandatory Canadian census (long and short forms), irreversibly jeopardizing years of consistent data collecting from which we can make informed decisions.
  2. Prison privatization.  Even if it is unconfirmed and bordering on conspiracy theory paranoia I shiver at the thought of converting our prison system to a business model that needs a steady supply of criminals.
All in all I'm concerned enough  to get off my rear and get informed and involved.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Mont-Tremblant Hike

Just completed my first official snowshoe hike in the Mont-Tremblant National Park today.  I opted to tackle the most difficult of the trails, Mont-des-Cascades (R3 & R1 below), to give myself a challenge. The skies were clear and sunny but the -22 degrees Celsius temperature was a little daunting.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Sprained Thumb

First casualty of the slopes. The left hand thumb is about 1.5 bigger than the right. I'll take this over a broken rib any day of the week.