From the New York Times Weekend Briefing:

Western food companies are aggressively expanding in developing nations, unleashing a marketing juggernaut that’s contributing to a new epidemic of chronic illnesses fed by soaring rates of obesity.
How Big Business Got Brazil Hooked on Junk Food

In an era of fake news and “Make America Great Again” propaganda this struck me as an unusually honest statement to come from an American news publication.


Been a long time

Interior courtyard at Tsing Hua University

It almost feel like I’ve come full circle. I started studying Chinese at Tsing Hua University years ago, I started slowly with only a few classes a week and later left for an intensive program at Zhong Yang. So if the class gets approved I’ll be returning for 1 class a week as a sort of refresher course. It’s not a difficult class but it will give me an incentive to study and an opportunity for correction. It will be a nice change of pace too.

I’m back in Hsinchu for awhile to focus on a new project and do some necessary learning. It’s great to be wife family again.


Barry’s impact on the assembled Goddard employees was immediate; from the moment she arrived, she insisted on abandoning all electronic devices. “They were really flipped out about it,” says Barry. “The phone gives us a lot but it takes away three key elements of discovery: loneliness, uncertainty and boredom. Those have always been where creative ideas come from.
Lynda Barry at NASA: Drawing to Infinity and Beyond. Via RUK.

Thinking, particular creative thought requires disengagement. My best work, or really any work that requires thought at all, is generally done without a mobile phone or any screen. Later, after pen has hit paper, these ideas are ready to be solidified with some kind of device with a screen.


Community is critical for creative folks because creating the work is so inwardly focused. … Participating in a community becomes a way to let some sympathetic people into your process so you don’t go crazy, while still protecting the work in its unfinished and fragile state. I see community as people working parallel to one another, sharing information and resources freely with each other. This is how useful information spreads around and how creative people find new opportunities.
Frank Chimero


So I am injured

I wouldn’t go as far as to say that running has been life changing for me, I run as much for my mind as my body, but at 50 it has helped me get fit and be in good general health, perhaps more so than and other time in the past. I’m bounding up stairs while people half my age are groaning in agony.

Running is a great way to establish a daily routine, enforce discipline, overcome a bit of hardship, clear my mind and if the distance is just right, usually around 10k, a great chance to practice the kind of thinking I need to do good work. For 45m – an hour you can focus on 1 – 2 problems and almost always have a solution of some sort.

But as easy an activity that it appears, I seem to struggle more than many.

I’ve only been running for a few years and during that time have participated in numerous 10 – 21k races and 4 marathons. My times are always slow, but there has been steady improvement. Unfortunately, with each year brings a new injury to overcome. Like music or any discipline worth pursuing, accomplishment requires more than just putting in the time, it requires smart practice, and I guess I haven’t been smart enough.

My first injury was when I first started running (I had tried the coach to 5K earlier but didn’t stick with it past it’s completion). I prepared before each session by stretching and warming up, and my mileage wasn’t comparatively that much. One day after a particularly beautiful run through the PEI countryside I suffered a sharp pain in my back. All I could do was lay on the floor, sitting or standing was excruciating. Unfortunately I had a flight to Taiwan the next day – the most painful flight of my life. This began my education of how the muscles are connected through-out your body and the balancing act between strengthening your muscles and over-use. I was out for a few months, not because of my back but due to my glutes.

Another injury was in preparation for a marathon. My feet were painfully sore around my ankles which resulted in a pause in my training. During the race my legs were naturally sore but my feet were in such pain that when I crossed the finish line I needed a few minutes to compose myself, lest I cry in front of my son. I adjusted my training and tried new shoes, Hoka Clifton 3’s.

No major problems developed while I was training in China for the Xiamen marathon. I didn’t work on speed but mostly spent my time working on endurance and some hill repeats. I also made the occasional trip to the company health center to do some strength training. A company sponsored 10K showed some improvement but my left foot complained and I rested for a period. I ran the Xiamen marathon, slowly, but a new problem reemerged. While running in a marathon in Miaoli I suffered from severe dehydration brought on by excessive sweating. I hadn’t trained or run before in such high temperatures. I was close then to having severe problems but managed to crawl across the finish line. At Xiamen, water intake was a constant problem with dehydration and frequent toilet breaks an issue. My feet were problematic too.

I trained over the winter in PEI for a marathon in Thailand in June. I frequented the gym and other than the freezing cold suffered no real issues – but did start to notice some stiffness in my left leg below the knee. I had to cancel the run but I thought perhaps my problems were behind me.

This summer I began my training for a marathon in October anew. My mileage was to be the same but with a more gradual build and a longer run before the taper. I also incorporated more rigorous tempo runs for the first time. Gone also were the cushy Hoka and Saucony’s that I had worn out, and in were the more responsive Salomon’s. Immediately I had problems. The heat was killing me. I was suffering excessive sweating to the extreme. My sneakers were literally filling up with sweat and I looked more like I was out swimming than running. Over than being embarrassing it was affecting my performance. Some days I would lose 3 kilo’s in water weight and I wasn’t yet running more than 21k. I eventually tuned my hydration strategy and ended up carrying 3L of water on my back for long runs. But that stiffness on my left side persisted and with a visit to a physiotherapist discovered a number of issues including that my right side was far weaker than my left. Before I could start the new exercise regime in earnest, and after a long mid-week run I developed pain in my right foot. It has been severe enough that I haven’t run in 4 days, an eternity for me, and my initial arm chair diagnosis reveals that it’s likely a mild form of plantar fasciitis.

These kind of setbacks are common for many runners, though usually they are far more serious runners than I. Running started out as an easy quick way to get out the door and get some exercise. Get up, put on your shoes, stretch, warm-up and go. Now it requires a far greater commitment to total body fitness than I ever imagined. Where we live is a bit of a dead zone for organized fitness classes, trainers and such (Hsinchu is devoid of any quick transportation options). So this is going to require a bit more discipline and commitment on my part.


A life that doesn’t include hard-won accomplishment and triumph over obstacles may not be a satisfying one. There is something deeply fulfilling — even thrilling — in doing almost anything difficult extremely well. There is a joy and pride that come from pushing yourself to another level or across a new frontier. A life devoted only to the present — to feeling good in the now — is unlikely to deliver real fulfillment. The present moment by itself it too small, too hollow. We all need a future. Something beyond and greater than our own present gratification, at which to aim or feel we’ve contributed. 
The Triple Package


What is school for

Our grandfathers and great-grandfathers built school to train people to have a lifetime of productive labor as part of the industrialized economy. We are raining kids to be factory robots.

From Seth Godin:

If you get ahead for years and years because you got dealt good cards, it’s not particularly likely that you will learn that in the real world, achievement is based as much on attitude and effort as it is on natural advantages. In the real world, Nobel prizes and Broadway roles and the senior VP job go to people who have figured out how to care, how to show up, how to be open to new experiences. Our culture is built around connection and charisma and learning and the ability to not quit in precisely the right moments.

What if we celebrated the students who regularly try the hardest, help each other the most and lead? What if we fast tracked those students, and made it clear to anyone else willing to adopt those attitudes that they could be celebrated too?

What if you got cast, tracked or made the cut because you were resilient, hard working and willing to set yourself up for a cycle of continuous improvement? Isn’t that more important than rewarding the kid who never passes but still scores a lot of goals?

Before you feature a trumpet prodigy at the jazz band concert, perhaps you could feature the kid who just won’t quit. No need to tell him he’s a great trumpet player–the fact is, none of these kids are Maynard Ferguson–just tell him the truth. Tell him that every single person who has made a career of playing the trumpet (every single one of them) did it with effort and passion, not with lips that naturally vibrate.
The wasteful fraud of sorting for youth meritocracy: Stop Stealing Dreams

Stop Stealing Dreams


Apple Watch and it’s frustrating UI for runners

Imagine you created a product which in one of the main marketed use cases the UI became inoperable. That’s the Apple Watch.

A year ago this past spring I got myself an Apple Watch as a bit of fun for finishing a long contract.

My needs were very simple. It was primarily going to be a device to support my burgeoning running hobby – notifications and music control were an added bonus. GPS would be nice, but at the time I almost always carried my phone so it wasn’t a necessity. Originally I thought of a Garmin, but as things often are here, the model I wanted wasn’t available and others only came with super bright color combinations (it also took Garmin 7 months to reply to my email about when the watch might be available, and the reply was a non-answer).

So I went with an Apple Watch (Series 0).

Generally, using the Apple Watch is a pretty satisfying experience. There have been periods of frequent crashes, especially with the buggy Nike+ app., and the 38mm version’s text and UI is just a little too difficult to read and operate.

But my next watch will likely be a Garmin.

There are a couple neat use cases which I like the watch for, dictating a note into Evernote (which I hardly use) and replying to iMessages with voice dictation. Unfortunately dictation is not entirely accurate and without punctuation becomes just a stream of harder to read text. I do find it a faster experience than typing on the iPhone, which might be the point. Outside of iMessage all notifications are off as I find it annoying.

Otherwise, my primary use case is running, and under optimal conditions it’s fine. You can awkwardly see your key running data and stop and start your run. The lifting your arm to see the display is entirely unnatural. Optimal conditions are rare. If your fingers or the screen are at all moist there is no guarantee your touch will be registered.

More concerning, however, is the functionality of the watch when it gets wet or sweaty. Good luck changing screens or getting the watch to respond. This was an issue my colleague Brian Dalek dealt with while testing the first version of this watch. It’s still an issue. On one hot day, I wiped my forehead to get my hands good and sweaty, and the Watch failed to respond to any touches on its face. This is one reason you still find buttons on running watches.
Apple Watch Series 2 Is a Solid Option

If it’s raining or you sweat a lot like me you can forget any accurate interaction with the UI. It can be impossible to stop a run or pause a running segment. Pretty disheartening if you just ran a great race or completed a great segment. So how do you stop the watch from recording your run? Well, today I had to leave it running until I could get home to wash my hands and polish the screen. Ridiculous.

Like many I’m sure Apple has a vigorous testing program – both for software and hardware. I’d love to understand how this decision was reached – produce a device with a focus on activity but let the lack of being able to control the device when sweating slide.

There are 2 hardware buttons on the side, Apple should open those up to allow 3rd party apps. to use as basic pause/start controls. Until then the Apple Watch is only usable if you don’t sweat.