The Need for an Exception Process Under Last Week’s Executive Order

Brad Smith, Microsoft’s President and Chief Legal Officer:

In last Friday’s executive order, the President expressly gave to the Secretaries of State and Homeland Security the authority to grant exceptions on a case-by-case basis, consistent with the national interest, to issue visas and other immigration benefits. Today Microsoft is filing a formal request asking these cabinet officers to create a process to grant exceptions that will permit “Responsible Known Travelers with Pressing Needs” to re-enter the country while protecting the nation’s security. The important details for this proposal are included in our formal requestand are outlined below.

At the outset, we recognize that this proposal will not and should not end the broader debate and deliberations regarding last week’s executive order. Our company is one among many that has expressed its views, and we will continue to participate energetically and constructively in the public discussions that help define our democratic processes.

I’m proud to work for Microsoft for many reasons, but Brad Smith and Satya Nadella’s reasoned and actionable responses to legal issues is a big one.


The Fallen of World War II

72 years ago the bloodiest war of human history came to an end. Since then a lot has changed, including communication. Today we can communicate faster and more widely than ever before, leading to bad news spreading significantly farther and faster. This easily creates the perception that the world is more violent and dangerous than in the past - we hear about violence not just in our town, but around the word.

The Fallen of World War II is a sobering reminder of how far the world has come in such a short period of time. The violence happening today should not and cannot be ignored if we are to continue to improve, but neither should the progress humanity has made.

Never forget.

I’m Not Saying It’s a Good Excuse

Paul Kafasis, at One Foot Tsunami:

If you’re a little heavier than you were before the start of the holiday season, you can blame it on the fact that there’s apparently an entirely new organ in your body. Scientists have just discovered the mesentery.

Sex with a Snake

Reviews and answers on Amazon are often helpful, sometimes funny and periodically bizarre. This one falls under the last category. I don’t want to know what Jason uses other things around his house for.

Things I've Learned About Strangers

I have learned some things about the strangers I encounter in my day to day life:

  1. Few have malicious intentions.
  2. Most have good intentions.
  3. Many are distracted.

When a stranger does something wrong, even if it’s something small, it’s easy to assume malicious intent. This assumption generally leads to anger or frustration.

If I catch myself doing this, I stop and instead assume they were distracted by something else happening in their life, or see if I can find the good intention in their action. Not only are scenarios two and three much more likely, but it makes my day a little brighter and the interactions with those around me easier regardless of their actual motive.

The next time a stranger makes a mistake around you, try to find the good in it. It might surprise you how good it feels.

Get Your Cyanide Kernels

As noted by this Tumblr post, self-labelled Super Foods retailer *Sun Foods *is selling apricot cyanide kernels (apparently they can also be found at Whole Foods) claiming wonderful health benefits; however, the warning listed on both the website and the bag itself is cause for concern:

WARNING: Sweet apricot kernels contain amygdalin (Vitamin B17) which can cause symptoms of cyanide poisoning when eaten in excess. DO NOT EAT MORE THAN 8 SEEDS PER DAY. See a doctor immediately if you experience symptoms like nausea, fever, headache, or low blood pressure. Do not eat if you are pregnant or nursing. Not intended for children.

Yes, folks, the warning does indeed say “symptoms of cyanide poisoning”. I recommend reading the hilarious Tumblr post breaking down why recommending and selling apricot kernels is so absurd. Just a taste:

Amygdalin is not, in fact, particularly rare; as the wiki page states, it’s found in “many plants” “particularly the Prunus genus, Poaceae (grasses), Fabaceae (legumes), and in other food plants, including linseed and manioc.” The only people who refer to amygdalin as a vitamin are those trying to make money from it. It is absolutely NOT a vitamin in any way, shape, or form. The definition of the word “vitamin” is “a compound which is required by the body in small amounts, which it cannot make on its own and thus must be obtained from the diet.” Your body does not *require* amygdalin in the least. In fact, if you consume too much of it, you will LITERALLY DIE OF CYANIDE POISONING. It is NOT an “important nutrient.” It has not “disappeared from Western diets” because it was never a part of any culture’s diet. Any group of people who ate too much of it probably died.

I verified that the Wikipedia quotes by the poster were accurate and performed an independent search of Google Scholar for amygdalin to validate the Wikipedia content. Multiple papers come up within the first page of search results showing that amygdalin (vitamin B17) does, in fact, break down to cyanide in the human digestive system.

The lesson here: if it causes symptoms of cyanide poisoning, it probably is cyanide poisoning and you should stop eating whatever it is you’re eating. Also, don’t forget to read warning labels.

How The Navy SEALs Prepare For Extreme Cold Weather Survival

Indefinitely Wild has a fascinating look into the “Rewarming Drill”, performed by Navy SEALs to prepare for extreme cold weather survival:

The troops would drop their packs on the shore and march ahead fully clothed until they were neck deep in frigid water. For 12 minutes they shivered until John gave the order. With their clothes sopping, violently shaking, they emerged from the cold lake into colder air.

It’s absolutely incredible how they recover from their swim, and a true testament to the value of having the best equipment in the worst conditions:

“With a great clothing system there’s no need to carry extra layers,” John says. “It should be able to perform as a symbiotic system in the most uncompromising situations.


I have a problem with the world: it’s too dang interesting.

Since starting my career, with more time and money, I’ve had the opportunity to explore more hobbies than ever before. Here’s the hobbies I have invested at least some time into, in no particular order:

  1. Woodworking
  2. Mountaineering (hiking, bouldering, rock climbing, etc.)
  3. XC Biking
  4. Alpine skiing
  5. XC skiing
  6. Reading (science fiction, fantasy, historic, business, etc.)
  7. Video gaming
  8. Tabletop gaming
  9. Rotaract/Rotary
  10. App development
  11. Web development
  12. Guitar/singing
  13. Camping/over-landing
  14. Socializing
  15. Auto repair
  16. Self development (meditation, journaling, etc.)
  17. Photography
  18. Financials (investing, etc.)
  19. Dancing
  20. Writing
  21. Martial arts
  22. Horology

Whew. That’s a lot of hobbies. And I want to pursue them all!

Of course, the watch on my wrist says I can’t; we have a limited amount of time each day and in life. So which hobbies should I be investing in?

Traditional wisdom would say to pick the select few that interest me most and pursue them to completion. The problem is my interest moves between hobbies frequently, and in the past I felt guilty that I was leaving something incomplete. This resulted in me doing nothing for a while — my guilt prevented me from moving on; my change in interest prevented me from completing what I had started.

My solution: move between hobbies fluidly. My constant is my career, everything else is open to change. Thus far, I’ve found I return to some hobbies in time and will eventually pursue them to completion. My posting frequency on this site is a great example of that.

Emilie Wapnick detailed a personality like this in her TED Talk, Why some of us don’t have one true calling.

The world is an interesting place, and I’m going to experience as much of it as I can through a variety of hobbies before my time runs out.

Star Wars - Danger Zone

Kenny Loggins, meet Star Wars. Star Wars, meet Kenny Loggins.

Like they were made for each other.

The Last Days of Target

Canadian Business has a fascinating, inside look into what happened with the Target Canada failure:

In the fall of 2013, hundreds of Target Canada head office staff piled into the auditorium at the Mississauga Living Arts Centre for a state-of-the-union address from their leaders. The employees were weary and frustrated by this point. The bulk of the 124 stores had opened, and it was clear the launch had gone seriously awry. Consumers were frustrated when confronted with empty shelves, and the media and financial analysts were hammering the company for it. On stage, Fisher stated his conviction that Target Canada was making progress and that 2014 would be a greatly improved year. A Q&A session followed; one employee bravely asked Fisher what he would do differently if he could do the launch over again. A man in the front row stood up and offered to field the question. Taking the microphone, Steinhafel, Target’s CEO, didn’t hesitate with his answer: He would renegotiate the real estate deal that facilitated the company coming to Canada in the first place.