Who wouldn’t like cheap, cleanly generated, electric power? Imagine a technology that eats nuclear waste and atomic weapons for fuel. Imagine that it’s the safest method of power generation. What if every person on the planet can have it? That’s what the family of generation 4 power technologies can deliver.
It’s like the Tesla of power generation.
Welcome my friend to WTK, the “What to know” show. I’m your host Peter, Whelan
All my life I’ve heard how we must reduce our carbon emissions and stop using fossil fuels. I can’t believe we’re not doing it right now! As Stompin Tom said, if we don’t get at it, when we get to it, then we won’t get to it to get at it again.
Here in Canada we enjoy blue skies and many sources of clean power. But we can’t raise the supply of renewables fast enough to meet all our needs by 2030.
Hydro electric dams are protested and delayed every time we try to build one. Solar occupies a lot of space and it only works during the day. Some consider them ugly. I’m a kite surfer and I love wind power. But the wind doesn’t blow all the time. We need safer, more efficient designs for wind turbines. They can be deceptively large. The biggest ones are 3 times higher than the Statue of Liberty. Don’t worry, the men working in that one got out safely.
In Canada we have CANDU 3rd generation nuclear power plants. They have a 30 year track record of safe operation. CANDU doesn’t need ugly cooling towers or a massive amount of land. It’s the safest power ever produced.
I know what you’re thinking, nuclear? Isn’t it dangerous? What about that famous disaster? That was different technology, based on designs that were over 40 years old.
It’s like comparing a 70’s mainframe computer to today’s smartphone. They’re both computers, but they’re very different designs.
Generation 4 nuclear power is designed to safely shutdown if anything fails. Adding gen 4 reactors to existing nuclear facilities would make them safer.
Over 3 million people a year die due to fossil fuel pollution, so why isn’t the majority of our power cleanly generated?
People get triggered when they hear the word nuclear. They react like the pointy haired boss in this Dilbert comic
I invented a new type of nuclear power that has zero risk. It can be built in one day for less than a thousand dollars and it can power a small city GET THAT THING OUT OF HERE!! I expect it will be a hard sell.
And that’s the problem. We are deeply affected by vivid stories After seeing Jaws, some people won’t swim in the ocean. Movies and sensationalized news affect us to such a degree that we make judgments contrary to real world evidence. Don’t let mass media assign your opinion to you. Read the links in the show notes and educate yourself. Form your own opinion. Our future depends on it.
I spent a couple of weeks in China and never saw a blue sky. I bet China will mass produce thousands of 4th generation nuclear power plants. Then they’ll get to enjoy blue skies and cheap energy. Imagine that!
To be fair, there are people opposed to every single one of the clean technologies I’ve mentioned.
They use the power of ignorance and fear to oppose the use of these technologies.
They’re like Agent Smith in this clip from the Matrix. They see humanity as the problem. Don’t be that guy, he’s creepy.
Learn about gen 4 nuclear. You’ll feel optimistic about our future You matter. It’s important to add your voice to the cause.
Gen 4 is the only solution we have that is quickly scalable to billions of people, carbon-free, and always available.
Our climate change problems CAN be solved.
Along the way we’ll end up with cheap, clean, abundant energy. We can use that to desalinate ocean water, providing clean fresh water to everyone.
Gen 4 can be built next to existing nuclear plants, so nuclear waste can be recycled as fuel. That handles the transportation and storage problem. The power distribution lines are already there.
It’s not the final solution. Nuclear power is not renewable. We have enough uranium today to meet all our needs for at least a ten thousand years, experts say closer to a million years. So we need to develop green renewable technology too.
I know what you’re thinking, twice the work in half the time is a big claim. It is, but I have experience with this and I consider it an understatement. It can be even better than that.
Scrum is a way of organizing teams to efficiently get things done. It brings together decades of research on how people work best. If you’re a software developer, you’ve probably already used it, or at least pretended to.
This book makes agile methodologies accessible to non-programmers. My wife likes it. We planned our engagement photos and wedding reception using agile tools. That was fun for everyone.
When I first read the “manifesto for agile software development” I thought is was self evident. It was like they were declaring the sky is blue. My programming career to that point was within small companies. The Gantt charts for our projects looked like a waterfall, but that’s a limitation of the tool. We used iterative and incremental approaches and delivered our projects as agreed to, on time. I hadn’t encountered a bureaucratic work environment. I thought responding to change rather than blindly following a plan, working software over documentation and customer collaboration over contract negotiation were all sensible ways of doing business.
Who would argue with that?
Once I worked in a large company I appreciated how much an agile approach to getting things done mattered. Small companies are usually more agile than large, bloated bureaucracies.
Agile software development is often referred to simply as Agile, with an upper case A.
Like God. That’s misleading, agile is not a thing and not something to be worshipped. It’s a set of principles, an approach to getting things done. It’s useful, but not fool proof.
Scrum became popular due to the many successful projects that used it. In some cases, a team that had a failed project reorganized to use scrum and succeeded. The exact same team literally accomplished twice the work (that mattered) in half the time.
The individual capabilities and work ethic didn’t change. They didn’t work longer hours.
So how did they improve?
The organization of the team changed. They changed how they managed themselves.
It helps to know that scrum is a term borrowed from rugby. Here’s a video of 2 teams head to head in a scrum.
In a scrum everyone shows up on time and works together with a singular focus, to advance the ball for their team.
It’s that kind of teamwork, working closely together with each person cooperating and doing their part that I want you to envision on a scrum team.
Having successfully completed a scrum project doesn’t mean you can’t backslide. On page 82, there’s the story of a house renovation that was done in 6 weeks and on budget using scrum. A neighbour then hired the exact same crew to do essentially the same work on his house. Only, he didn’t make use of scrum. It took twice as long to complete.
You’ve heard countless stories of projects that either failed to launch or the cost mushroomed out of control. For example, Healthcare.gov grew from a $90 million project to over $2 billion.
This is due in part to contractors winning projects by underbidding them. They make all their profits by overpricing the change orders. That means the vendor and the customer are working against each other from day one.
There has to be a better way!
What if everyone’s interests are aligned toward the same goal, delivering real value as fast as possible.
Let’s look at a real life example on page 194
A software company agreed to a fixed price contract to deliver custom software in 2 years for $10 Million
All changes are free.
Sounds like a bad deal for the vendor and a great deal for the client.
The client pays $416,000 per month and can buy out of the contract at any time by paying 20% of the remaining amount. That’s a key point.
The client was satisfied with the software after just 3 months.
The client paid a total of $3.2 million to get what they were prepared to pay $10 million for, and they got it 17 months early. They saved both time and money.
What about the poor vendor? They had calculated a profit margin of 15%. By finishing early they made 60% profit, 4 times what they were prepared to accept. They then had the opportunity to work for another client for those 17 months.
That’s a win/win.
There have been thousands of successes like that. That’s why scrum is worth applying to your own life. That’s why this book is worth reading.
Some of the methods in scrum have been around a long time. They took the proven best practices and organized them into a cohesive approach. Last week, I was explaining scrum to my 100 year old aunt. She was a teacher in a one room schoolhouse in the 1930’s. Much of what I described reminded her of how she ran her school.
How does Scrum handle requirements analysis?
My first job was programming PC support tools for classic JAD. Much of a design sprint is similar to how joint application design workshops have been done since the 70’s. The terminology is different. The facilitator is a scrum master. The executive sponsor is the product owner. It makes it easier to work with different teams when everyone uses the same terminology.
Scrum mitigates risk by aiming to deliver a minimum viable product as early as possible.
It tests market risk, do people want what we’re building?
It tests technical risk, can we actually build it?
It tests marketing risk, can we sell what we built?
Let’s talk about work effort versus due dates
It’s important to make a distinction between estimating effort and estimating when something will be ready.
Here’s a common scenario that is aggravating for everyone involved.
The boss asks the programmer, how soon can I have feature x.
The programmer interprets that as, if I work on feature x, and only that, what is the earliest time that I will have something ready for testing?
The programmer says 1 week, but that’s an estimate of effort.
To get a date when it would be ready, we have to take into account all the other things that the programmer will be asked to do.
Scrum sprints help to eliminate those conversations. A sprint is a time box of consistent duration, between 1 and 4 weeks.
The plan is that at the end of the each sprint, the issues in the sprint backlog will be done. Nothing is be added to the sprint backlog once it starts.
Let’s talk about the OODA loop
The heart of an agile project of any kind is the OODA loop.
It’s an acronym for observe, orient, decide, and act
Jeff learned it as a combat pilot and he claims it helped him to stay alive. That’s impressive but I was never a combat pilot and I bet you weren’t either. So let’s use a mundane example. If you’ve ever played dodgeball or been in a snowball fight, you’ve executed an OODA loop.
You observe what is going on around you and where you fit in. A key point is that you are observing what is going on in the moment, not yesterday or a year ago. There’s tendency in some organizations to not see things as they are today.
You orient yourself based on what you know and what you are capable of seeing
You decide who your target will be
You act throwing the ball
Then you quickly loop back to observe.
Are there any balls heading your way.
You orient yourself again, do you duck or dodge.
You decide and you act.
Hesitation means you’ll be quickly knocked out.
You learn scrum by doing it, so dive into it on your next project. You won’t get it right the first time and you won’t improve until you start.
Another way of looking at it is the Deming cycle of Plan, Do, Check, Act that fits within a sprint.
Plan what you’re going to do during the sprint.
Do it. Check that it did what you want
You act on what you learn and change your approach as needed.
Let’s talk about teams
Scrum is based on teams of 3 to 9 people that have a sense of purpose, are self organizing and have all the skills needed to complete the project. Picture the ruby scrum I showed you earlier.
Team performance matters more than individual performance. One PERSON may be 10 times faster than another. A FAST team may be a hundred times faster than a slow team.
I’ve experienced that in one of my early programming jobs. A previous team of 3 had failed to deliver a product after a year of work. Starting from scratch I had it ready in 6 months.
Jeff asserts that our behaviour, our performance, is shaped by the system we are in.
By changing the system, the way things are done, everyone on the team is free to do their best work.
Scrum focuses on solutions, not assigning blame. Look for systems that reward poor performance and change them.
Let’s talk about time
Wasting your time is like a slow form of suicide. Wasted time, wasted life. Many meetings are a waste of time. People don’t show up on time, there’s no agenda and they run far longer than needed.
Scrum has a daily stand up meeting that’s no longer than 15 minutes and it’s held at the same time every day. The whole team must be present or the meeting can’t start. That alone is a level of professionalism and accountability that some companies have trouble executing on.
In the daily standup meeting, each team member reports what they’ve done in the last day, what they plan to do today and any problems that might prevent it from getting done.
Another waste of time is multitasking. If you don’t believe that, there’s an exercise for you on page 90 that I’d like you to try. It will prove to you beyond a doubt that when you are switching tasks you are wasting time. It pays to focus and get in the flow of things.
Let’s talk about people
Scrum is built on the idea that people matter. It matters to the team that you show up on time and do your part.
So your happiness matters. It’s common for us to put conditions on happiness.
If I lose weight, then I’ll be happy. If I achieve this, get that, then I’ll be happy.
Studies have revealed something that was surprising to me. Happiness predicts success. The happiness comes before the result.
Being a little bit happier can lead to much better results.
Be happy and succeed as opposed to succeed and then permit yourself to be happy.
Small compliments can have a great impact.
Sometimes it’s as simple as acknowledgement of job well done. Scrum builds trust within a team daily.
How happy are you?
Jeff claims he tripled productivity in his own company by asking the team what makes them happy at the end each sprint, during the retrospective.
Here are the questions that he asked. Try answering them for your self.
On a scale of 1 (bad) to 5 (great) how do you feel about your role in the company/your family?
On a scale of 1 (bad) to 5 (great) how do you feel about the company/family as a whole?
Why do you feel that way about your role and about the company/family?
What one thing would make you happier?
The team answers the questions openly. That implies a level of trust and safety that some relationships lack.
Would you feel comfortable giving honest answers to the happiness poll where you work? Would you honestly answer the happiness poll within your family? With your friends?
The appendix has a 5 page summary on how to implement scrum in 11 steps. Scrum is simple to understand and difficult to master.
Kind of like kiteboarding.
My thanks to Prakesh for suggesting today’s show. If you read this I’d love to hear your thoughts on it.
If you want to make the most of your life, then you want to grow.
A good book is a mirror that you can hold up to yourself. There are 10 laws of growth in this little book. The laws are like 10 mirrors that you can hold up to your own behaviour to see if it’s supporting your growth. It takes about an hour to read and you’ll be putting it to use for the rest of your life.
As I read this, I felt buried by an avalanche of ideas and revelations that I’m excited about.
Dan runs the Strategic Coach Program for entrepreneurs here in Toronto which means that he spends his days thinking and teaching personal growth. I call him Dan because that’s his name, but I don’t know him. It’s a small world though, my old roommate was a programmer for him and 3 of my clients were also Strategic Coach clients.
The first law is, you will grow if you always make your future WIDE bigger than your past SMALL
What does that mean?
Well, If you feel like your best years are behind you, it’s depressing. That happens to some Olympic gold medalists, astronauts, child actors. They reached the pinnacle in one area of life and feel that nothing can top it.
Imagine the best is yet to come.
Imagine you and I are having a chat three years from today. What would have had to have happened in that time for you to be happy with your progress?
Then aim for that.
Reading this next law gave me goose bumps. It’s an idea I had never considered.
You will grow if you always make your learning greater than your experience SMall.
Alright, What does that mean
The smartest people are those who can transform even the smallest events into breakthroughs in thinking and action.
I feel like I did that with when I wrote my award winning book, The Rake. Reading that law was encouraging, a great pat on the back.
I bet you’ve also taken some small event and transformed it into a breakthrough in thinking. If you can think of one with an emotional impact, it will make you feel good.
You don’t have to write a book about it, but maybe you should. Let me know if you do.
The next law is if you want to grow make your learning greater than your experience. You can have years of experience and be no smarter for all the things you’ve done, seen and heard.
That sounds unbelievable, until you see it for yourself.
I had a client who complained his accountant didn’t know how to use Excel. He wondered how can someone with 20 years of experience not know that? To which I replied, he doesn’t have 20 years experience, he has 1 years experience 20 times over.
You don’t want to be that guy.
Another law is that you will grow if you always make your gratitude bigger than your success
Well, what does that mean?
Dan asserts that gratitude makes constant growth a given. That’s a new idea to me. The world responds to gratitude by making more of everything we appreciate available to us.
For example, pick someone in your life that you care about.
Then write all the things that you are grateful about them. You’ll end up with 10 items or more. Tell them what you appreciate about them, if you want to.
Imagine what it would be like if you did that with all the people that are important to you.
Another law is that you will grow if you always make your cooperation greater than your status
That’s a concept that’s built into agile software development methodologies, scrum in particular.
The idea is that it’s what you do as a team that matters more so than individual accomplishment and recognition.
Getting things done through cooperation is a threat to people who are more concerned about their perceived status.
Did you know that your mind can’t ignore a question?
The last law is that you will grow if you always make your questions, you’re what? Your questions bigger than your answers.
A great question can keep you thinking and growing for a lifetime.
Why am I here?
Where am I going?
How far can I go?
What do I stand for?
What is the matrix?
My thanks to Chris for suggesting today’s show. If you read this, BOOK I’d love to hear your thoughts on it.
When I decided to learn about programming the blockchain, I found it hard to know where to start. It’s easier than ever for experts to stand up, but harder than ever for an expert to stand out from the crowd. The rapid rise of bitcoin attracted lots of scammers. So I researched the field and found this excellent book.
There’s a guy who got worldwide attention by claiming to be the creator of bitcoin, but he didn’t even sign a message with his digital signature to prove it.
Show your friends this Dilbert comic http://dilbert.com/strip/2018-04-20
If they don’t get it, then they wouldn’t be able to tell a bitcoin expert from the pointy haired boss character.
How scary is that?
You may be thinking that bitcoin sounds like a solution looking for a problem, a lot of hype and dismiss it, ignore it.
That was my first reaction and that was the reaction Andreas has as well.
A few months later, he read Satoshi Nakamoto’s white paper.
From reading the white paper you realize Bitcoin is not only about money. It’s a network for trust without a central authority. Well, that sounds like git. What’s new is that Bitcoin brings scarcity to the digital world.
To be fair, whenever I hear a use case for Bitcoin, I ask myself, could I do that with git? Or some other less costly, well established technology. Even if you’re going to be working on Ethereum or some other platform, all blockchains compare what they’re doing to Bitcoin, so it’s good to have an understanding of it.
Back to Andreas. He became obsessed with learning all he could about bitcoin. He focused on it so much that, in 4 months he ended up losing 20 pounds and that’s where our paths diverge.
His obsession led to this book.
These are leaf cutter ants on the cover. They have a queen, but she doesn’t rule them. They don’t have a central authority. Each ant follows a few simple rules and out of that emerges complex behaviour and structures. It’s the perfect creature for the cover of a book on programming the open blockchain.
Andreas Antonopoulus clearly explains blockchain programming. This is a dense subject and there’s a lot to it. It took a genius to come up with it, but you don’t have to be a genius to learn it. If you love learning like me, and you’re willing to do the work, you can master this, if you want to.
Andreas is one of the worlds foremost experts on bitcoin and the open blockchain. He has lots of great content on YouTube and you can follow him on Twitter.
If you don’t understand how git uses hashes to detect manipulation of code, I’d start by mastering git.
Using git distributed version control, open source projects have proven that we can create something complex and trustworthy in a decentralized way. git is like an append only, tamper evident ledger. As a programmer, that’s useful to know for whatever you’re working on. I’ll include a link to the free Udacity git course in the show notes.
Mastering Bitcoin is an excellent place to start learning blockchain. It’s published by O’Reilly, which is a good sign. O’Reilly has a long history of publishing great technology books. To be fair, pretty much everything I learned about unix and it’s utilities I learned from O’Reilly books. The internet was built by techies reading O’Reilly books. This is the book that blockchain will be built on.
Mastering Bitcoin is well laid out. I had a lot of questions and as they came to mind, I found that they were usually answered in the next page or two.
For example, I was curious how bitcoins are mined every 10 minutes or so when there’s so much changing. The answer is in the chapter on mining and consensus.
There’s a tremendous amount of information in here. Working through this and the code you’ll learn enough to setup your own full bitcoin node for regression testing and get the gist of it.
It includes an introduction to simplified payment verification and bloom filters. You’ll get a good sense of how privacy and security minded a blockchain programmer must be. It’s not paranoia when you are always under attack.
You’ll learn about encrypted private keys, pay to script hash and multi-signature addresses, elliptical curve cryptography, wallets and transactions that meet the ACID test. Andreas covers the bitcoin network, the blockchain, mining, security and consensus rules. Finally, he covers colored coins, state channels and routed payment channels, the Lightning network.
As I’ve studied this subject, I’ve found the key is to resist the temptation to categorize Bitcoin as a currency, a database, a network or a platform. It has elements of all of that, but try for a broad understanding of the entire environment.
It’s easy to look at parts of it and say “That won’t work” but keep an open mind. The details of implementation keep changing, but the gist of it remains the same. Don’t prejudge how it’s going to work out.
You don’t have to wait for anyone’s permission to take part in this revolution. It doesn’t matter how old or young you are, your religion, the color of your skin, your sexual identity or anything else that people might hold against you. You can dive in and learn this. You can even contribute your skills, working on the bitcoin core, if you want to.
My thanks to Naval for suggesting today’s show. If you read this I’d love to hear your thoughts on it.
Have you been looking for a plain English explanation of blockchain? There’s a lot of confusion about it. That’s understandable because blockchains are a complex, moving target. We could talk about it for a year and still not cover everything.
Let’s have a look at how it’s sometimes explained.
What could be simpler than that? Any questions?
That’s a funny clip because it’s a fine explanation if you’re for a computer programmer. It doesn’t mean much to the average person.
I’ll include a link to the whole clip in the show notes, it’s good for a laugh.
I work as an IT management consultant. I get paid for my perspective and I like solving tough problems.
Have you noticed that people sometimes mix up technology terms? For example, you’re using the internet and the world wide web to watch this Youtube video. Maybe someone emailed you a link to this video. Email and the web are applications that run on top of the internet. Email could disappear and we would still have the internet. The world wide web could disappear and we would still have the internet. If the internet disappeared, we would not have email or websites.
Blockchain and bitcoin are sometimes mixed up as well. Bitcoin is the currency everyone and his brother is talking about. If bitcoin were to become worthless, we would also lose the bitcoin blockchain. I predict that will never happen, but even if it did we’d still have the idea of blockchain.
I already created a show for you about bitcoin.
This one is about blockchain.
It took a genius to come up with it. The good news is that you don’t have to be a genius to use it.
By 2025, you’ll be using blockchain technologies and be no more aware of it than the internet technologies that you are using to watch this, TCP/IP, SSL and HTML.
I graduated from Sheridan College with a computer science diploma. I learned how to program linked lists, hashes, merkle trees and how to use asymmetric public key cryptography. Computer programmers care about those things, but that’s our job. Until this year, none of those topics ever came up in polite conversation.
In 2009, Satoshi Nakamoto built on those ideas, and others, to create the bitcoin implementation of blockchain. He was the first to solve the Byzantine generals problem. For people like me, it’s exciting. For the average person, it’s meaningless.
This What to know show is the introduction to blockchain that I wish I had when I got started. I’ve studied the literature, read the code, watched the Princeton University lectures. I’ve identified the leaders in the field and listened to them. I’ve done all that work so you don’t have to.
Here’s the thing to remember. It’s not just another database, it’s a network for money, a protocol for trust that will support billions of people increasing their wealth.
A protocol is a set of rules you can follow, you don’t need anyone’s permission.
To be fair, if you don’t know an indexed file from a SQL database, then we’re done. I’ve just taught you everything you need to know about blockchain. You’re welcome.
That would make for a short video.
There’s a lot more to it. If you’re curious like me, keep watching.
Have you noticed that the terminology around computers seems like it was designed to mislead you?
I created a video about passwords that I encourage you to watch. The one thing you should know about passwords is that you should never use a word as your password.
In blockchain, there’s a process called mining, but nothing is being dug out of the ground.
There’s something called a coin, but they are actually entries in a ledger. No physical coin exists.
There are cryptographic keys. Like a door key, they give you access, but, unlike a door key, a cryptographic key can’t be replaced if you lose it.
Think of cryptographic keys like $100 bills. If you lose the bill you’ve lost $100.
But, don’t let all that put you off. There’s something very valuable here.
Blockchain means that, WE, the people, have a new way of working together.
I create reliable computer systems to support my clients business and this is another tool I can use.
Here’s one way that it’s different.
Every document you’ve ever created has what I call CRUDability.
So, what’s that?
C is for create, you can add to your document.
R is for read, you can read your document
U is for update, you can make changes to sentences that are already there
D is for delete, you can delete words that you don’t want.
Blockchain does not have the ability to update or delete information. We can only add to the chain, create, and read it.
Thanks in part to that restriction, it’s the most secure and resilient database on the planet. It’s been 100% available since it’s creation.
The longer your data exists in the block chain, the more difficult it becomes to change it or delete it. Once a day has passed, it’s essentially permanently recorded.
Another fundamental difference is that it doesn’t rely on access control to keep itself secure.
Ok so what do I mean by that?
Blockchains flip our traditional security models. Every thief in the world can access it. The blockchain doesn’t care who you are or what information you put in it, as long as you do it in a valid way.
There’s a very old saying, garbage in, garbage out. GIGO
I’ve spent much of my career making sure garbage doesn’t get in. GDGI
That’s important because whatever you put in a blockchain stays there.
Here are the 2 main things to remember.
1. We now have a way of agreeing on the contents of a database without anyone being “in charge” of it
2. We now have a way of compensating people for helping make that database more valuable, without a central authority paying them.
Now, I know what you’re thinking.
Not to be impolite, but, “so what?”
That’s what I thought the first time I heard this. Banks, credit card companies and cash work for me.
Then I learned that blockchains don’t need banks. Again I thought “So what?”
They’re reinventing the wheel. We already have banks and the system works.
Except when it doesn’t. Banks can collapse, currencies can fail. The people of Venezuela are suffering through that right now.
We have it pretty good in North America. But there are countries where millions do not have a government issued identity, they can’t open a bank account, they can’t get loans or establish property rights.
It’s not obvious, but blockchain opens up all kinds of possibilities.
It offers technological alternatives to the institutions that our society is built on, banks, insurance, legal and social structures.
Eventually, you won’t need a bank account, you will have the services of a bank in your phone.
Right now, there are thousands of development projects, experiments really, to do something useful with this technology.
My wife sends money from Canada to her family in the Philippines. We have to withdraw cash from the bank then go to a remittance office like Western Union to send it. We can’t do a simple bank transfer from my account to their account. Then they have to go pick up the money. The transaction cost is around 5% to 9% plus everyone’s time involved.
From start to finish it takes about 4 days.
Blockchain makes it possible to transfer currency directly and instantly, for a tiny fee.
That’s a big deal because $10 is a days pay in the Philippines. The millions of dollars Filipinas spend every year in fees could instead go directly to their families.
Blockchain is the most secure database I’ve ever seen.
If hackers could find a flaw, they could steal billions.
Today, Blockchains are like Fort Knox, if it was surrounded by thieves.
To move money in and out of a blockchain, most people trust an exchange to do it. The central exchanges are not yet as reliable or regulated as banks. When it comes to your money, you want it to be secure. What’s the point of using a bank if you’re going to get mugged as you leave?
That’s one of thousands of problems that will take us years to solve.
Let’s talk about the impact on society.
Historically, there have been a few ways of organizing large groups of people. Monarchies and Aristocracies dominated early human history.
About 400 years ago we got our first public company. It was only about 200 years ago that democracies started to really take off.
More recently, during my career, programmers figured out a way of working together to create and maintain complex products, over the internet. It’s called open source projects and about 30 million programmers have worked with it.
The blockchain builds on those ideas to create a new way of working together that will eventually reach billions of people
Blockchain creates a market where we can contribute resources, achieve consensus and trust each other, on the internet, even though we don’t know each other and are unable to easily punish bad behaviour.
That is a significant accomplishment.
Imagine an internet with accountability, safer to use, no spam,
no privacy invasions, no anonymous threats.
It will take a lot of work to achieve it, but it will be worth it.
The people who will benefit most haven’t even been born yet.
This is going to be great. The best is yet to come.
My thanks to Susan from Paint and Cocktails for requesting this show.
Do you worry that the USA is just one crazy tweet away from nuclear war with Korea? Relax and read “Win Bigly”
Scott Adams is an Everest of the mind.
He’s proven himself to be a prodigiously prescient political pundit, using persuasion based perceptions to predict presidential political outcomes.
“Win Bigly” is a public service, perhaps it’s peace prize worthy.
G’day! Welcome my friend to WTK, the “What to Know” show about “Win Bigly” by Scott Adams.
I’m your host Peter Whelan
I’m grateful to Scott Adams for writing “Win Bigly”
What I’m about to share with you is unbelievable, but true, as far as I can tell.
Have you ever wished that you could predict the future?
Imagine that you could learn a more useful way to look at reality.
Imagine that it makes you happier and better able to predict the future.
Over 2 years ago, Scott Adams promised in his blog to do that.
He didn’t do it for the money, in fact, his speaking income went to zero. As a public service, he said what he believed to be useful and true.
He succeeded in changing my view of reality and of humanity.
If you’ve been reading his blog for the last few years, then there isn’t much here that you haven’t already read.
In “Win Bigly” it’s his job to show you how he was right, so that the next time he makes a claim, you listen to him.
When I was 7, I thought I understood reality, but I didn’t.
It surprised me to learn that even though it looks like the sun moves across the sky, it’s the earth doing the moving.
It still doesn’t feel like it, but it’s true.
The more important lesson that I learned is, that I can’t believe everything I think.
I can be completely wrong about something and not even know it.
Even now, there’s probably something that I believe which I’m wrong about.
There’s something about “Win Bigly” that, if you’re like me, you are going to object to.
With your permission, let’s see if I can help get you past that, before I tell you about the book.
I’ve been programming computers for over 30 years. I like to classify data in binary, true or false terms.
That works great when I’m programming, but it doesn’t work with people.
If I like someone, I tend to see the good in the bad things that they do.
If I dislike someone, I tend to see the bad in the good things that they do.
But, there’s something about myself that I don’t like.
I have a tendency to judge people by their most extreme actions. The best or the worst of what they do, whether they are naughty or nice.
To be fair, that’s an ugly thing to admit to, but I see so many other people doing it that I feel like I’m in the majority.
That doesn’t make it right. I’m wrong to judge people like that, it’s even against my religion.
Scott Adams is helping me correct that.
Why do I share my flaw with you?
You may prejudge the lessons in Win Bigly as they are mostly related to your favourite president, Donald Trump. Who says he’s your favourite president? Well, he does.
Trump brags about things that I’d be ashamed to admit to.
Scott, I call him Scott because that’s his name, but he doesn’t know me from Adam, predicted candidate Trump would win the presidency when the experts put his odds at 2%. At the time, most people’s reactions to Trump were something like this scene from Mr. Robot.
Scott’s opinion on what Trump was doing showed me that my understanding of humanity, of how we make decisions, was flawed. That’s what makes the ideas in “Win Bigly” so valuable. Even the people closest to Trump didn’t see what Scott was seeing. I had a chance to ask George Ross, Trump’s long time lawyer, why he thought Trump ran for president, knowing that whomever is president is criticized and ridiculed by at least half the country.
George thought that Trump wasn’t serious, that he didn’t know what he was getting himself into or how to get out of it. That’s a possibility. But that doesn’t provide any predictions. Scott’s persuasion filter does.
Any fool can come up with an explanation of what happened, after it happened, and many fools have.
“Win Bigly” is the story of how Scott predicted what would happen, every step of the way.
This is the first time that I’ve bought an audiobook. I did that to honour the fact that Scott Adams overcame spasmodic dysphonia. It’s a depressing condition that prevented him from speaking for three and half years. The fact that he can say his own name is a tremendous personal and medical accomplishment. He narrates “Win Bigly” himself and I like the sound of his new voice.
To be fair, he includes an entire chapter on Trumps mistakes.
Scott explains how childish name calling can be persuasive. Labelling his opponents as “Crooked Hillary, Crazy Bernie or low energy Jeb” are what Scott calls linguistic kill shots. For many people, reducing a person to a one dimensional label is more persuasive than providing all the facts.
For example, If I were to call you a nice person, it would be a compliment.
When Trump kept calling his opponent, Ben Carson a nice guy, it was a kill shot. Where do nice guys finish?
Scott explains how oversimplifications are more persuasive than giving a complete and accurate explanation.
With good persuasion, you can visualize the result. That’s why Trump kept talking about “a big, beautiful wall” instead of “We will use a variety of means to improve border security”. From the first day, Scott explained that it would not actually be a wall from coast to coast.
Scott posits that we don’t make decisions on complex topics based on the facts. How can we when it’s not clear what the facts are?
If we don’t have first hand knowledge, then we are coming to decisions based on what others have said and who we find most credible.
It doesn’t mean that we’re right.
Trump has his supporters, but the people that hate him, hate him a lot.
Surprisingly, extreme anger that is beyond what the situation calls for, is a sign that you’re being persuaded. People hate admitting they were wrong about something. If you are persuasive then you better get use to people being angry with you.
The hatred may be a sign of how persuasive you are. When Trump says something that persuades you to change your opinion, you can change your mind or you can decide that there’s something wrong with him and reject everything about him.
What do you think most people do?
To be fair, no one is all good or all bad, there’s more to you than that.
A child looks at one variable to decide if you are good or bad.
When they play cops and robbers there is no nuance, you are either good, the cop, or bad, the robber.
An adult recognizes there can be many important variables to consider.
We’ve all done great things to be proud of and shameful things that we’d rather keep to ourselves.
People in the public eye come under greater scrutiny and we may feel that we know them.
It’s easy to look at Trump and say “Well, I never did anything as bad as him.” and I’d believe you.
It doesn’t mean that you’re right.
If you are ready to challenge your view of the world, I encourage you read “Win Bigly” if you want to.
If you do, I’d like to hear your thoughts on it. Come back and post in the comments.
My thanks to Gord who suggested today’s show.
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Click on the thumbs up button to like this video.
Click on the picture in the upper right corner to subscribe to my channel because, that’s helpful.
Share it with a friend.
Every time you talk about it, the more you find yourself putting it to use in your own life.
Would you like to feel happy more often? Do you believe that it’s possible?
Do you feel grateful for your life?
Do you feel like something is lacking in your life? It might be this.
This is my invitation to you to read the “Happiness Equation” by Neil Pasricha
Let’s have some fun with this.
Watching this invitation doesn’t give you the full experience of reading the book.
As you continue to watch, you’ll decide for yourself if you want to.
First a little background about he author. He had a bad year where he got divorced and a close friend committed suicide.
To cheer himself up, he created a blog of awesome things in his life. He later turned that into the book of awesome. It was an international bestseller for over 2 years.
The book of awesome was full of things that Neil appreciates, like snow days, free refills and Canada. Three things that I am grateful for as well.
In this book, Neil has brought together the most effective methods from happiness research, that’s a thing, into one book.
He states his life’s purpose is to remind you of how lucky you are to be alive. With “the happiness equation” he’s done a good job of it.
The first page is “3 ways to get the most out of this book” and the first line is “agree to disagree”. Well, I don’t agree with that!!
It’s like he had an argument with me before I showed up.
Anyway, have you ever thought, if I do great work, succeed at it, then I’ll be happy?
For example, if I work hard, exercise and eat healthy to lose fat then I’ll be happy.
I think like that.
Neil reports that we never get to longterm happiness with that approach. I agree, it hasn’t worked for me. Even when I succeeded, I created a condition where I got to be happy for only a day or two.
So be happy first. Don’t make your happiness dependent on some condition. Well, that’s easy to say. Be happy for no reason, which is another book.
But how can you be happy if some external condition isn’t met? Studies have revealed that if I knew everything about your life, I could predict only 10% of your happiness. 90% of happiness comes from the way your brain processes your life.
More or less
It’s just a change in me
The Verve got it right in “lucky man”
Have you ever thought, if I win the lottery, then I’ll be happy?
Judging by lottery ticket sales, I bet you have too.
That’s looking for happiness due to a condition being met and it turns out it doesn’t work.
This is important.
Cultivating happiness could be a matter of life and death.
Have you heard of celebrities who had great wealth, good physical health and fame with millions of fans and they weren’t happy? Life was so painful that they killed themselves. There was even a billionaire who killed himself.
So how can you be truly happy now? Without being at your ideal weight or winning the lottery. “Don’t worry, be happy” was a great song by Bobby McFerrin, but there’s more to it than that.
Now, Neil doesn’t make this claim, but I imagine that widespread practice of the ideas in this book would reduce the suicide rate.
Happy people don’t kill themselves.
Neil has condensed Happiness research into 9 methods that are proven to work for lots of people. They’re worth testing on yourself.
Neil ties each method to a story. He and I must read the same books as I had read of these ideas before. But, when I catch myself thinking “I know that” I ask myself “Did I do it today?” It’s not what you know that makes the difference, it’s what you do. The odds are good that practicing these habits will result in you feeling happier.
There are other habits that I consider fundamental which aren’t mentioned in this book.
I talk about them in my invitation to read “How to fail at everything and still win big” by Scott Adams, be sure to watch that if you want to be happier.
First, be physically active every day, such as half an hour walk or any activity that you enjoy. That one works for me. I feel better when I do it. It doesn’t make much difference to my excess fat, but it improves my mood and my ability to think clearly.
Second, set aside 20 minutes to quietly write about a positive experience. Remembering it, describing it in detail. Try writing about someone you love and special memories you have with them. I had a tough time with that one. Maybe you’ll have better luck.
Third, perform an act of kindness. My favourite way to practice kindness is to be tolerant when I feel like being angry. I wrote a book about that. You can watch my video for it at www.TheRakeBook.com. It won an award in a juried competition from a selection of 5 authors. Creating The Rake book was an act of kindness for me. I felt happy doing it and with the reaction to it. I’m still happy about it. Plus, it’s fun to say I’m an award winning author.
A kindness could be paying for the coffee of the person behind you at Tim Horton’s. It’s inspiring when I hear of people that keep that going for hours. The important thing is that it’s something you freely want to do. If you feel obligated, then it probably won’t make you feel happy.
Fourth is my favourite method to be happy. Be in the flow, focused on what I’m doing. You can lose your self in the moment. Eminem knows what I’m talking about.
There’s a book called Flow that’s all about that. I get in flow studying a great book like this one, taking notes, recording this video for you. As an IT manager, I get in the zone when I do requirements analysis, design and code a program, solving a hard problem, especially when the stakes are high. Have you ever lost yourself in an activity that challenges your skills? That can trigger the flow state.
I feel like I’m in the flow when I get my knee down on the track.
There’s lots of ways to do it.
The fifth habit is to write down one thing a day that you’re grateful for. This was a good one for me. After a while, I couldn’t think of anything new each day. So I started looking for things to be grateful for, so that I’d have something to write that night. Doing that shifted my focus to pay attention to what I can be grateful for, which is plenty.
That reminds me of something Olympic Gold medalist, Mark McCoy told me. The bronze winner is often the happiest.
The athlete who wins gold may feel like it should have felt more amazing to win than it did. They’ve reached the pinnacle.
The athlete who wins silver is thinking with a bit of luck, a tiny difference, I’d be number one, instead of the first loser
The bronze winner is often the happiest, they can always say they are an Olympic medalist and they may improve and win Gold next time.
Pick one of those happiness tactics and test it out for yourself for a week or two. If you don’t like it, try another. Don’t try them all at once, because that’s overwhelming. You wouldn’t want to be too happy would you?
So, that’s the first secret of happiness, that you can be happy now. Happiness is a state of mind that has little to do with your circumstances.
On page 77 I was fascinated to find the phrase “keeping up with the Jones” originated in a 100 year old comic strip. I’ve heard that all my life, but never knew where it came from. People who are obsessed with having what others have, know the recipe for misery, that’s keeping up with the jones. If you want to learn English idioms and expressions, check out my Fun with English course.
The third secret is to appreciate what you have.
Neil showed me that just by being here now, it’s like I’ve won the lottery.
I have the ability and time to read this book and the money to buy it. I can record this video for you. I already have it better than most people in the history of humanity, so be grateful and happy about that. For under $20, I have more delicious choices for my next meal than any king or billionaire of 100 years ago. Within 20 minutes of my house I can get Indian bhel poori, onion kulcha, vindaloo, dosa,
Quebecois poutine, Mexican tacos, British fish and chips, Japanese sashimi, Korean bulgogi, Vietnamese fa, Italian lasagna, Thai crispy beef, Greek Gyros, Afghan bolanee, Swiss Chalet chicken and fries, Harvey’s burgers. Hundreds of restaurants are open, ready to take my order right now. It’s fantastic.
I can even order online and have it delivered to my door.
I grew up in the ghost town of Brudenell, Ontario which is over an hour away from the nearest drive thru. Having food delivered to my door is especially decadent to me.
Starting at page 116 Neil makes the point that we all have 168 hours in a week, and typically we use one third 56 hours for work,
another third 56 hours for sleep and that leaves 56 hours to do with what we choose.
Fill that third bucket with what you love to do. Do what you are passionate about. Would you stop doing what you love just because your turned 65? That’s the 4th secret, never stop. Always have something useful to do, something to look forward to.
Starting at page 139 Neil explains how to make more money than a Harvard MBA. He ought to know, he’s earned his Harvard MBA. I’m impressed by that accomplishment, that’s the power of a brand.
The fifth secret, know what your time is worth and value the time you have left.
On page 185 he suggests a straightforward approach to cut meeting times in half by allocating half the time. So cut meeting times in half by cutting them in half.
He quotes from Jack Welch, named the best manager in the world, whom I’ve had the pleasure of chatting with. Jack explains that organizations must be simple to be effective. To be simple, people must have self-confidence and intellectual self-assurance. Insecure people create complexity. They fear being simple. They worry that if they’re simple, people will think they are simpleminded. In reality, the opposite is true. Clear, tough minded people are the most simple.
I’m a simple guy
Happily, on page 195 Neil takes on the myth of multitasking, which is making a mess of two or more things at the same time.
Harvard researchers estimate 20% to 40% of a typical office workers time is wasted due to the overhead of switching tasks. That’s 1 or 2 days out of 5 wasted. From what I’ve seen, its true.
As a manager, I reduce switching tasks by having a system that delivers work one task at a time. When work is requested by text message, email, phone calls, voice mail and in person it adds to the overhead of managing to get things done. Switching tasks and then getting back to where you were before the interruption is a huge time waster. What do you do if you get a text message, an email, a phone call and have two people at your desk at the same time? Then you’re in what Neil calls a “response selection bottleneck”, in computer terms we call it trashing. Everyone’s frustration rises and nothing gets done. You end up TALKING about doing the work instead of actually doing it. To avoid that, when I set up an IT department, I insist on a single ticket system. That funnels all the work into manageable chunks that can be prioritized and scheduled.
The 6th secret to happiness is don’t be constantly busy. Take time to think and to relax, doing nothing for a time.
Starting at page 231 he explains that you can overcome fear of failure by taking a small step towards doing whatever you have in mind. The more you do it, the more you can do, the more you can do, the more you want to. It’s a virtuous cycle.
If you’ve learned any skill that was challenging for you, swimming, learning to drive, touch typing
then you’ve already been through the process. Apply that skill to something that you imagine will make you happy. Have you always wanted to learn to cook tasty and healthy meals? Then start, try a recipe, book a lesson. Don’t wait until you are confident that you can do it, start in small ways and build on it.
Just do it, that’s the 7th secret.
Starting at page 254 Neil encourages you to value the time you have left.
I figure I have more years behind me than ahead of me.
The at line from Fight Club is true.
This is your life and it’s ending one minute at a time
cut to Norton’s character
This IS your life and it IS ending one minute at a time
Imagine that you are going to be dead 6 weeks from now. You’ve got 6 weeks left, what are you going to do with it?
Would you sit down and cry “Why me! I’m so young” WHY!!
I’m going to play for you a graphic scene from fight club.
Imagine that you are Raymond K Hessel, the convenience store clerk.
As you watch, pretend that it IS you on your knees, with a madman holding a revolver pointed at the back of YOUR head.
If you knew you were going to be die soon, what regrets would you have?
Would you wish you had expressed your true feelings?
Would you apologize to someone?
Would you wish you watched more TV? Played more games?
Would you forgive someone?
Would you wish you had done more of what makes you happy?
Are there people that you wished you had stayed in touch with?
Would you spend more time with your family and friends?
What is it for you?
Whatever it is, you’re not dead yet and hopefully you’’ll be around for many years to come. So be your authentic self. It might be entertaining.
That’s the 8th secret. Don’t hide, don’t pretend to be what you imagine others would have you be.
You need to be yourself
You can’t be no one else
For example, I’m showing my enthusiasm for what I find useful. I’ve been criticized for that, but I’m no longer letting that stop me. I’m creating these what to know videos. Maybe you and I will connect on a deeper level because of it. Maybe you’ll read this book and create more happiness for yourself.
That would be awesome.
Finally, starting at page 268 Secret 9 is don’t take personal advice, when we ask for advice, we are usually looking for an accomplice. Someone who agrees with what we’ve already decided to do.
Don’t take advice
Take a chance
Roll the dice
Learn to dance
My thanks to Ken Hong for suggesting todays show.
Thank you Neil Pasricha for an excellent book that makes the latest research on happiness accessible.
thank YOU for watching.
Is there a show you want to see? Email WhatToKnow@PeterWhelan.com and maybe I’ll make one for you.
If you’re from Brudenell, or know someone from Brudenell, I think you’ll enjoy reading “Abusing Grace”. The author, John Coyne, was born there in the 30’’s
If you’re 40 or older and from the surrounding area Cormac, Wilno, Killaloe, Eganville or Barry’s Bay I imagine you’d also get a kick out of it. Anyone could enjoy “abusing grace” , but when you know the people it’s more interesting
I laughed as soon as I read the title.
I think it’s a playful take on the hymn “Amazing Grace” but if your name is Grace you could be put off by it.
It’s actually a collection of John Coyne’s memories that means he cares. Nothing in it struck me as truly abusive.
I enjoyed it so much that I read all 336 pages in one weekend. I took note of the page numbers of my favourite stories and I go back and read them.
As you continue to watch, you’ll decide for yourself if you want to read it.
There’s a book by Frank McCourt called Angela’s Ashes, about growing up in 1930’s Ireland. A lack of respect for his parents and anger permeated that book, it left me feeling sad.
There’s none of that here, it felt good to read “Abusing Grace”. Mr. Coyne confesses his own sins, not other peoples.
He tells of the mistakes he’s made, like single handedly shutting down General Motors in Oshawa for a day. You’ll want to read about that.
The back cover is a photo of the new graveyard.
When I was 15 I dug my Dad’s grave right there
My dad didn’t leave behind any writings.
I’m grateful to John for writing this. He doesn’t know me from Adam but he knew my dad.
John’s take on growing up in Brudenell is no doubt different than what my Dad’s would have been, but I imagine the gist of it is the same. It’s a wonderful gift for me to read his memories of my dad and uncle Billy, of my aunt Mary before she married my uncle Tommie.
The front cover shows a fountain pen which was commonly used. My dad told me that he would often use a feather quill as well. We’ve come a long way in one generation. I dictate my notes to an iPhone.
When Jack grew up, most of the water was pumped from a hand dug well or pulled up on a pail at the end of a rope.
In the winter, the temperature occasionally gets down to -40 but mostly around -10. If the fire went out, you’d have to break the ice to wash your face.
Brudenell was a ghost town when I was growing up. The Brudenell that John describes, in the 30s, was very different. There were hundreds more people and lots more things going on. Cars, running water in the house, electricity, radio and TV were all new additions in the 40’s and 50’s.
He describes his grandfather John, who would throw a rip roaring fit if the cows broke into the garden, as if the cows were trying to provoke him.
When he was walking in the bush, his granddad would take it personal and get angry if a switch flew back and hit him.
I know how he felt. when I was little my grandad let go of a switch that got me right in the eye.
It stung and my eye watered.
I think I was mad for the rest of the day, even though he kept apologizing and said he didn’t do it on purpose. 50 years later and I still think he might have, he was a bit of a joker
That’s the lesson of award winning book “the rake”. If you can’t forgive someone, maybe it’s because there is nothing to forgive.
“Abusing Grace” starts with one of John’s earliest memories, his grandmother dying and being waked at home.
I related to that because one of my earliest memories is of my grandmother Molly Whelan being waked in our living room. I didn’t understand what dead meant I asked my uncle why grandma wouldn’t wake up and play with me. He just looked sad.
In Brudenell most homes were made of wood and heated by a wood burning stove which was used for all the cooking and heating of water. Most everyone would also have a summer kitchen to avoid heating up the whole house.
You were considered wealthy if you had 2 stoves, but most people moved the cast iron stove from one building to the other.
My Uncle Billy used to say everyone was dirt poor and no one knew it.
There would be a root cellar for storing potatoes for the winter. It might be as simple as a hole in the ground dug out under the house.
Every kid would spend time removing the eyes from the potatoes, the sprouts. I did the same, so some things didn’t change much.
John writes of travelling by horse and buggy. It’s a 20 minute drive to Eganville today on a paved road, but it was a two day round trip back then. It took all day to come back because it was mostly uphill.
He recalls using flour bags for pillow cases and I had forgotten that we did the same thing. Five roses.
John writes of the wind up gramophone for playing records and the battery powered telephone with a hand crank. The local switchboard operator was my Grandma Molly.
That reminded me of our old party line where multiple families shared one phone line. You’d know if someone was calling for you by the pattern of the ring. There were 5 families on our party line, but it wasn’t a problem, we didn’t use the phone much.
John attended the one room school house filled with 30 students. One student was responsible for firing up the school stove and another would fetch water by the pail for everyone to drink. Most kids walked to school barefoot in warm weather..
If I was a year older, I would have went to that same one room school house. It was one of the last schools in Ontario where kids from 5 years old to 14 years would all be taught by one teacher in one room.
Butler’s catechism was one of the main texts and I recall my dad being upset that we weren’t using it in our school.
Page 91 There was a teacher who often beat the kids with a rubber strap. Eventually she was fired. Mary Kelly was hired as the new school teacher.
John tells of how Mary was locked into the school as a prank one day. Apparently, she climbed out the window and didn’t say a word about it, depriving the prankster of the satisfaction. I can imagine her doing that. My uncle Tommy would later marry her. I remember her as a kind and strong woman.
Here’s some images of Brudenell
I met John at the dedication of the church steeple, which had been destroyed by fire from a lightning strike. Two authors from Brudenell, we exchanged our books. Coincidentally, we both married Filipina women from half a world away.
The church bell was rung daily at 6 am and 6 pm and you could hear it a mile away. In the 1930’s and 40’s there were no headphones or TV’s to block out the world.
Our lady of angels church is what the parish of Brudenell formed around. John went to confession in the same booth that I did. I did my sacraments from baptism to marriage in that church. I’d like my funeral to be there too.
At home, they used sticky ribbons for catching flies and they’d fill up and turn black in a week. That hasn’t changed,
If you’d like to know what it was like growing up in Brudenell in the 60’s you could go there now. It hasn’t changed that much.
It’s still dark enough to easily see the Milky Way
The summer air is still thick with mosquitoes, I don’t miss them.
It’s still a great place to go swimming, but the only lesson I had was sink or swim
There have been some changes though.
When drIving I used to wave at everyone I’d meet and I’d probably know them. I’d wave even if I didn’t know them and they would wave back. Not so much anymore.. Now, most of the roads are paved and people drive much faster than when it was dirt roads.
If we saw a person walking on the side of road we’d offer them a lift. It was funny when people started jogging in the 70’s. My mom would say you look like you’re in a hurry, hop in.
My mom was superstitious and I thought I had heard them all, but John writes of one superstition I hadn’t heard of. His brother was bit by a dog and the belief was that if the dog got rabies AFTER you were bit, you would get rabies too. So there was talk of shooting the dog that bit him, just to be on the safe side. Luckily for the dog, they decided to leave him be.
I was shocked to read that their were up 20 altar boys serving mass. It was down to less than 5 when I was an altar boy and I’d often serve mass by myself.
I know what you might be thinking and no I wasn’t.
“Abusing Grace” is packed with stories. Here’s a few more that I enjoyed.
Page 70 Before the second vatican council, it was required to fast from midnight onwards before receiving holy communion. The priest would announce the people whom he would be visiting to deliver the sacrament during the week. He’d head out in the dead of winter, travelling for an hour or more in the cold just to do this.
He arrived at a distant farm where the son was sick and instead of being greeted with “Good morning Father” or “I’m sorry Father” the mom’s first words were “The son of a bitch broke his fast”
Can you imagine that? All that way for nothing.
There was a race track back then, but it was a swamp when I was growing up. My dad told me it used to be a race course but I thought he was kidding. I couldn’t imagine anything had been there.
This is important. It was a common tragedy back then that every family would have at least one child die.
But that didn’t make it any easier than it would be for you today.
John’s mom suffered the death of a child and then a miscarriage in the same year and she slipped into a depression.
He describes a folk remedy shock treatment of cold water to treat it. His mom would dump a bucket of cold water over herself every morning and her depression lifted. If you have that problem, it’s free to try and there is some hydrotherapy research to support the idea.
Page 160 was proud to read that my Grandfather Andrew was a skilled craftsman and talented shoe maker. He died before I was born and I knew nothing of him. He made my Uncle Billy a sleigh that was the envy of all he other riders.
I’m happy to be reminded of the many expressions I grew up with, like have a snort, by jumping, holy liftin, by the reefin ginger and shut your face.
I stopped using those expressions when I moved to the city, maybe I’ll start using them again.
Page 219 This blew my mind. People were flying from Killaloe to Ottawa in 1947. It’s like reading they had high speed internet before I was born. To this day my sister has never been on a plane.
Page 221 John’s first paying job was working for my dad, picking stones for $2 a day. I wonder what that was like for him.
Page 250 He later worked with my uncle billy who loved to read, which is something we had in common. They worked on building the hydro dams together. There were quite a few deaths on those projects and no safety investigations back then.
Page 259 I was shocked to read that no drinking of alcohol was allowed in Johns house. We had a two drink minimum.
He recounts going to confession with Father Drohan who was going deaf. So confessing to him was like broadcasting to the community.
I said ” I took the lords name in vain 3 times”
Can you imagine that?
Brudenell had lots of things that I never dreamt of, they were all gone by the time I came along.
I never saw a pool table until I went to college, but according to John there had been one in the parish hall and one in each of the barbershops in Killaloe.
Even Hollywood movies were shown in the parish hall.
It didn’t last long, as Father Drohan didn’t approve of some of the scenes in the movies.
He tells of my Aunt Margaret and Uncle Billy having him and his brother Murt over for dinner.
She asked “Do all Brudenellers think one bath a week is good enough?”
Murt replied “Take a bath? in the winter?”
I think it was my Aunt Margaret who told me the one about the old man from Brudenell who took a bath every Saturday, whether he needed it or not.
There are lots of other stories in “abusing grace”
If you want to get your own copy, check with the Eganville Leader or email me WHatToKnowo@PeterWhelan.com and I’ll let John know.
I hope this inspires you to tell your own stories. It’s sure to be a pleasure to someone and you may not have any idea who.
Thank you so much John for taking the time to write it and thanks to my sister Sandy for suggesting this show.
I’ll end this with Mr. Coyne’s lines from his grade 2 play, (page 59)