Monthly Archives: December 2010

2010 in review

2010! All in all, I think it was a good year. Personally, I mean. I have some issues with it geopolitically, but I don’t think we need to go into that. And, for a change, it went by without any significant job turmoil. That’s something!

  • Back in January, I got myself dragged into the long-running Northdale neighbourhood debate in the city of Waterloo. Not something I enjoyed greatly, but I felt I had to dip my oar in. I even presented to city council about it.
  • I was interviewed by the (now sadly podfaded) The 100 Podcast about transportation issues and the LRT. That’s kind of cool.
  • I made a failed attempt at live coding for Kwartzlab’s latest 5+5 event. Fun, though. And I’m glad I did it.
  • Kwartzlab continues to be a great thing in our community, that I’m happy to be a part of.
  • I ran an Ubuntu Global Jam, two release parties and helped host a LAN party with Eric. I started holding Ubuntu Hours in Kitchener-Waterloo and IRC meetings for Ubuntu Canada online. In the end, txwikinger and I became the new “contacts” for the Ubuntu Canada Local Community organization.
  • I joined the office dodgeball team, leading to a number of minor injuries.
  • I went to Bill and Tara’s wedding. Eric and Alex get married tonight.
  • I co-presented on unit testing with Alexei at the local agile software development group. More live coding!
  • Speaking of the Agile P2P, a number of us got together to start a technical book club, starting with Uncle Bob‘s Clean Code. A number of agile development luminaries, including Uncle Bob, have joined our conversations.
  • My blogging output flagged a bit, with everything else going on. I took out some of my local politics frustrations on the Waterloo-Wellington Bloggers Association, but that site is now defunct, merging with Wonderful Waterloo. That site has asked me to contribute as a blogger, but I haven’t pulled together a post yet.
  • The new season of Doctor Who was awesome! I thought so, anyway. Also, I now have a ridiculous amount of Doctor Who toys.
  • Ellen is still awesome.
  • I became an uncle. My sister Erin’s son Grady was born in October.

The Marshmallow Test

As I was leaving for work yesterday, there was an interview with a guy on The Current on CBC yesterday morning about the Marshmallow Test.

Basic premise is you sit a kid down in a room with a marshmallow and tell them that they can eat the marshmallow whenever they want. However, the experimenter tells them, if they can wait 15 minutes until the experimenter comes back, the kid gets another marshmallow. Deferred gratification.

The original Marshmallow experiment followed its subjects for twenty years. It found that the kids who were able to defer gratification were more likely to do significantly better in school, have more friends and were generally considered more competent. Whether or not you can hold off stuffing a marshmallow in your face for 15 minutes when you’re 4 years old is a strong predictor of success later in life.

Anna Maria Tremonti (the host of The Current) wanted to focus on what this means for kids today (Kids today!) with their twitters and facebooks and ended up glossing over the most significant thing in the interview.

The marshmallow test is predictive, but it’s not fatalistic. Impulse control can be learned. It can be taught.

More than that, we have this image of self-discipline being stiff-upper-lippedness. Stoic resistance to pleasure. But the kids in the marshmallow test who were successful were the ones who were able to “strategically allocate their attention.” They were able to use distractions–singing songs, running around the room, study the ceiling tiles–rather than agonize over not eating the marshmallow.

Falling down

So I left for work this morning, intending to walk to work as usual, braving uncleared sidewalks and bitter winds.

After my fall on the ice a few years ago, I started using Yaktrax, which I highly recommend. They’re a bit of a pain to get on, though.

So I left my house this morning debating whether I should put the Yaktrax on. I’d fallen during a dodgeball game last week and jammed my shoulder, so reaching down to pull these rubber things on my boots would probably hurt. I’d walked to work plenty of times without a problem, and it was just packed snow, really. It didn’t look like there was much ice.

But then I started thinking it would really suck if I re-injured my shoulder.

And that’s when I fell.

Damage seems to be minor. I landed on my knee first and went down slowly. But I’m going to see if I can book an appointment with my chiropractor today to make sure everything’s back where it should be.

Have I mentioned I hate winter?