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Like starting over again

After breaking the news to Mrs G I was deleting all my old posts, her first reaction was “why have you done that again?”

“Did you read what I wrote yesterday,”, I asked.

“No.” came the response. “I don’t look at your blog anymore as all you do is post old stuff.”

With this clean slate in front of me and the big question is what am I going to write about? The temptation is always there to descend back into my usual rants and perceived slights, but there is also a part of me which feels like I should write about things which interest me. I should begin writing about hobbies, about movies and games, and all the geeky things I intended to.

In the last three years since I was writing regularly I picked up plenty of new interests. I enjoy barbecuing, I’ve discovered I like whiskey. I’ve even started some craft-based hobbies like trying to sew.

My parenting has also come along now I have two sentient children.

All the panics and worries I had before evaporated. I have to educate and inform children who talk back to me, children who are sassy.

Children I’m also aware never asked to be all over social media

I’ve also learnt new things like how I like to work, how to be a better employee. I’ve even gone freelance and started my business.

I’ve even given up the entire Google ecosystem and become an Apple acolyte.

At night I’ve started to read books rather than websites.

Will the angry part of me disappear? I don’t think so. As I sat on the train listening the “tsh tsh” from someone‘s headphones the thought came to my mind was didn’t I write something in 2013 about this?

As I went to find the old post I stopped myself and realised, why don’t you just calm yourself by typing a new rant? Write a new piece that is different but also the same as what I did before.

The whole point of me removing all my old drafts was writing makes me feel better. It’s why I started blogging. It was to find an outlet for my stress and copying and pasting does not ease that.

So let’s get angry and geeky all over again. Maybe Mrs G will read this again?

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Thoughts

Constant Reboot

I could call it a crisis, or call it a rehash. The reality is that I have rebooted this site so many times that I am in the process of uploading the same 300 words for the fourth or fifth time in an attempt to recreate that which has been lost.

As a new post appears, and new being a loose definition, Mrs G will wearily say:

I’ve read this before haven’t I?

Yes you have. I never seem to write anything new and continue to bask in old glories by reposting all the archived content I have saved.

Yesterday I dragged whatever I could find out of my drafts just to hit my streak. I’ll be honest it is not some of my best work. I think it was originally written back in 2013 when I was still typing any old thing that came to mind. It was the result of a ‘Daily Post’ prompt on senses.

In all likelihood it was something tapped out on a phone during a morning commute. It reads like a piece of hurried prose.

My recent posts are also a rehash. I am having to change references to how old my children are, and in some cases adding more than a couple of years to make sure they are up to date. I should admit that if a post is more than four years old should I be reposting it.

I restarted writing because I need an outlet for my boredom. Instead of doing anything new I’m just copying and pasting. Tidying up formatting is hardly the most engaging of hobbies.

The process of checking my old posts has also made me realise that I’m not quite the same person as the man who originally wrote them. There is a hint of aggression in my reaction to dating and ‘princesses’ that I’m now a little embarrassed by. Some of the attempts at pop culture are a little outdated (see The Nuclear Option) and there are plenty of references to events that are long gone (hello 2012 Mayan Apocalypse).

Why not delete them all and start again?

You may call it the worry of losing hundreds of hours I spent making them in the first place, or maybe the fear of starting again with a blank canvas.

In amongst the dregs are some good pieces I wrote. There are some long pieces, as well as original poems and artwork. These may be saved.

The rest.

Deleted.

Almost forgotten. I have saved the memory of their titles ready to go again. Who knows what “Borrowed from the Past” was originally about? I may end up recreating the wheel and doing the same thing, or perhaps take it in a whole new direction.

Whatever I decide to do this is going to be one of my famous lines in the sand that I end up crossing in a few months time.

No more reposts.

Just reboots.

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Thoughts

Breath of fresh air, and bacon

I have a great sense of smell. On one hand this is fantastic, I am able to detect bacon cooking from over 500m away and can pinpoint the direction I need to go to get fed. On the other it means I get to detect some of the less pleasant smells around us which means on the morning commute I have to stuff my nostrils with tiny pieces of pancetta to be able to survive without gagging.

I’m not claiming I can be a perfumer or someone who sniffs wine. I have a good sense of smell but not the capacity to detect “daisies on the south facing hillside above the village of Charbonnat in early June picked by a young maiden who has the faintest hint of coffee on he right index finger” (aka the smell industry BS). There are however some smells I love to whiff.

Bacon cooking

Should be self explanatory that, if there is one smell guaranteed to make me salivate it would be a few slices of Danish sizzling away in the pan. Nothing is able to replicate it, let alone the “fake bacon” industrial complex. The bacon flavoured joke foods you get like bacon bublegum, bacon toothpaste or Quorn, are just not the same. They are too chemical and harsh.

Petrol

Which is why my affection for petrol (or Gasoline) is very odd. There is something about the complex aroma of fuel that gets me going. I know I am not the only person who likes the smell as I get 8.2m results in Google for “I like the smell of Petrol”. This article “why do we like the smell of Gasoline”suggests its the euphoria we get from inhaling benzene, similar to being drunk.

Important – don’t deliberately inhale petrol. It is very bad for you.

Seriously – don’t

Ammonia

Again, I have my own sense of double you tea eff, but I can’t help it. I think it’s to do with the way it seems to hit you at the back of the throat and acts like a nasal bleach. Yes, I also like TCP and other anti-bacterials and this makes me sound like a crazy person.

Garlic in butter

Something normal, the smell of garlic frying in butter is amazing. If only it could constitute a proper meal I would be happy. Perhaps I could recommend to Glade or Febreeze to make a range of cooking smell room fresheners. They could make millions (especially for the home-moving market if you had “Fresh Bread” or “Brewing Coffee”).

The Sea

The salty air, it calls to me.

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Thoughts

A simple Bucket List

At what point in my life do I have to consider that I have waited too long to do all the things I wanted to do and experience? I thought as I passed thirty I had lost the chance for a family life but I managed to tick that one off the list.

So even though I plan on living for at least as long as I already have I do still have a whole life in front of me. Considering I don’t even know what I am going to do tomorrow I thought I should write a list of ten things I should do before the end.

Pre Bucket List Bucket List

1. See a glacier, by the time I am old these may no longer exist. While they are still around it would be nice to see one, even if it may only be large enough to stick in a Gin & Tonic.

2. Play a team sport, I’m accepting that I am past my sporting prime and will no longer make it to the pinnacle of any team activity. Instead of becoming England captain I should just like to play on a team of like minded individuals of any sporting persuasion (although football and rugby may require months of fitness training).

3. Learn how to properly sharpen a knife, I’ve been bought a number of good kitchen implements and need to find out how to keep them in top condition with a whetstone.

4. Hang up the pictures I am meant to hang up, this should seem sensible and simple but I still have empty picture frames from 2010.

5. Learn a foreign language, it’s a terrible shame I haven’t already done so (being of the ‘who doesn’t speak English?’ culture) but I may have an opportunity while Children G are doing Mandarin or Russian at school.

6. Write and publish something, and not just by pressing the publish button on WordPress. My aborted attempt at NaNoWriMo produced one chapter, in thirty years I may be done.

7. Complete a degree, I have already started two so this should be easy enough to do.

8. Own a boat, I may not be allowed to sail anywhere but I’d really like to own my watercraft. Previous house searches have revealed properties with a canal at the bottom, this means I could own a barge.

9. Be asked to present at a fancy conference, it would be nice to be asked to speak as an expert on a topic (whatever topic) and have my name announced to a rapt audience.

10. Work out how to stop socks being eaten by the washing machine, and how to make sure that all pairs of socks maintain their partnerships. Once I do this it will make the other parts of the list easier as I could become a very rich man (and not just from saving money buying socks).

11. Ignore such ideas as a bucket list, and live my life with few regrets and to the fullest every day.

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Thoughts

Give short men a chance

The Guardian has a column on why women should break the next dating taboo and start dating short men.

Why Women should Date Short Men

Not that this is news to me, I could have told them with all my 5’2″ frame that being on the left of the height curve means I’m at the top of the bell for being awesome. The only problem with being an amazing short spouse is getting someone to say yes to the first date.

Height is the most lied about attribute on dating profiles. I can tell you in one word why the individuals who use matchmaking sites tell fibs, Vanity.

My experience of the nightmare of internet dating led me to believe that the only thing that matters in an online profile is a photo of you and how tall you are. All that nonsense about your personality and algorithms that match you with your dream partner, that all goes out the window the moment someone sees what you look like.

Love may be blind by those looking for someone are not.

I once tried an experiment, after no success being stupidly honest (admitting my height is only 5’2″) and getting zero response from those who were meant to be in to my GSOH I added another foot. It worked so much better, but I ignored anyone who now was interested in me and my sudden growth spurt.

Men were more split about if they would go for someone taller. Nothing about what a person is like seems to trump this, either be high or go home.

I’ve experienced this height aversion so many times, I am certain that given a few more inches I would have not been as single as long as I was. Rather than someone who makes them happy all the Princesses I encountered would rather have someone who can reach things in the cupboard.

Thankfully, I found someone who didn’t care and is taller than me. As a 5’2″ male you find you either don’t care about height or have a smaller dating pool to choose from. Apparently this makes me a better husband, not that I help around the house or could rather put my daughter to bed than earn £10k more working in London.

The article suggests that because I’m short, I found it hard in the first place to get married so I’m less likely to put myself in the position to enter the dating market again. Small men are desperate, so we stick around rather than the fickle marriage vows of the tall. Maybe there is something to that.

Perhaps it is because I found people so quick to judge me on physical altitude that I am better at looking for the good in someone I want to marry rather than just looks. As I’m short I understand that sometimes I need help reaching the higher shelves in the cupboards so maybe I need to help others. My hobbitry makes me a perfect ringbearer.

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Thoughts

A step towards delegating

Delegate.

A word I hear all the time.

Delegate. v. entrust (a task or responsibility) to another person, typically one who is less senior than oneself. – Google definition

The feeling of letting go fills me with fear, I want to do everything myself. That way I know it will get done and (possibly) get done to the standard I expect. Results show that nothing gets done and it would have been better to relinquish a little control. Both for productivity and my health, yet the martyr in me looks at delegate as a dirty word who’s meaning I don’t understand.

Delegate. v. relinquish control or become disappointed when not done – Geek Ergo Sum definition

I am a bit of a control freak. It’s why I would love to be a teacher but would not be a very good one, I cannot understand why someone just can’t do it like I say. I’m the player-manager of a sports team, the actor-director, I want to have an impact in every aspect. If I could I would be a one man show and not have to worry about anyone else.
Yet I am not enough of a control freak that let’s me take control of others, I don’t enjoy chasing up people to get work done. If I have asked then why haven’t they done it and done it at the time I didn’t specify. They should know my expectations without me having to instruct them.

Giving instructions takes time, and time where I may as well just get on with the task at hand. Yes, I could show you what to do, and this will give a good return on investment, but then I’ll be asked if it’s being done right and this takes more time. Maybe the task I have delegated will be relegated on their task list so I have to do it, anyway.

Entrusting someone else is hard to do, and if I expect the worst then I’m not to be disappointed. So I prepare to fail, by failing to prepare another person to help. If there is a job to do, then I’ll follow the advice of Nike Inc. I’m not a nagger so won’t keep pushing for an assistant to complete a task, I’ll take it off their hands and do it myself.

The only problem is that I am not a finisher, all the random work-psych tests I’ve done show me to be a starter, or dreamer. I cannot complete so when I don’t delegate I just create more problems for myself.

I should print out the proper definition and stick it to my screen, I should look at every task I do and think “can someone help me” or “would it be better for another person to do this”. Maybe my first step should entrust another to do this for me.

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Thoughts

Four simple rules

Life is a mess if you don’t impose a little order on it. It’s impossible to control every little moment but it handy to have a set of rules.

The rules I have are not very complex, in fact I copy most of them from major religions or motivational posters, but they are the code that I try to live by (but like most rules they are merely guidelines for acceptable behaviour).

This is not an attempt to say that how I lead life makes me a good person, or that if you follow these rules, it will make you a better person, I just think they may help.

So the rules, and none of them will reference Fight Club.

Rule 1 – ‘That’ rule.

No, not ‘that’ rule but ‘the’ rule. The do unto others one. I think there is a reason it is a universal and well-accepted rule, it is for most people an ideal way to live your life. I mean nobody really wants to be badly treated so why would you do the same to others?

Rule 2 – Don’t make others cry.

Sometimes it is hard to follow Rule 1, and sadly there are some people who just don’t care, so I think it is important to add in an error rule that tries to capture any failures. Try not to do anything that will hurt someone else, this doesn’t apply to ‘telling’ them try not to do anything which means you have a guilty secret.

Rule 3 – On balance try to do more good.

None of us are saints, we can’t and won’t lead lives that are examples of perfect human beings. We all like to think we follow moral or religious teachings but we all slip. We all judge we shouldn’t and we all have our prejudices. So Rule 3 is about balancing that by trying to be better than that. This isn’t a “you gave money to charity so you can hit a dog” kind of deal, follow Rules 1 & 2 so you don’t do that.

Rule 4 – Do your best.

Even if you fail at all others, just try

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Thoughts

Breaking your resolutions

It’s the first week of January which means it is the traditional time to break all the resolutions that we all set a few days ago. Already I’m doing less exercise and treating vegetables as the enemy.

I’m trying to recall making a proper resolution to keep, one of the big “I will change my life” resolutions such as finding love or learning Klingon. Or even something as absurd as taking up running and eating humus. However, I can’t recall making a single one of these promises.

I am always confused why people determine that they will change their lives based upon the arbitrary date chosen to start a new calendar. Is there a difference to your willpower from the 31st December to the 1st January, what is it about the changing of the year that makes people decide that this is now the point at which they are going to the gym or to sort out their lives?

I would think the science behind keeping a New Year’s Resolution would show that you are more likely to fail at a life changing pledge if you select a start date as opposed to just doing it when you first think of it. Surely you would be more successful at exercising if one Tuesday in June you just started going to the gym or running around the park.

In effect by marking the beginning of the year as a new start you are writing off any chance for improvement for the rest of the year. If on November 7th you decide that you will attempt to go on more dates won’t this just mean you will not try for the next seven weeks? In my experience putting something off once just means you will put it off time and time again.

Just like a puppy a New Year’s Resolution is not just for the festive period, real life change is not just a flash in the pan with a half-hearted attempt to learn to knit or start saving for a house. It’s hard work to break habits and by choosing to use a method notorious for broken promises and not being taken seriously it is surely a set-up for failure.

So rather than making resolutions (which as the United Nations shows are unenforceable and ineffective) set goals, aim to do something by June or October. It gives you more time to recover from any setbacks and won’t make you feel like a failure should you open that bar of chocolate later today.

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Leaving a legacy

To have a legacy, you need to have done something that is worth remembering. History is not fickle, the good and the great are as notable as the bad and the wicked.

Some will live in a collective consciousness. Names like Julius Caesar, Napoleon, or Einstein. Known by many, but perhaps by some without having a clue why. Yet what makes these figures more famous than other less well-known, yet arguably more important, people. What about Augustus, Qin Shi Huang or Brahe? (I am speaking mainly from an anglo centric point of view here, I know the Chinese or Danish may see things differently).

The ancient Egyptians used to destroy the cartouches of pharaohs they wanted to strike from history, yet we still know of Hatshepsut. For some cultures being forgotten was like a second form of death, as if some way your spirit would cease to exist if your legacy was erased. Maybe this is a consideration, how long do you want to be remembered for?

Once you are forgotten you have no legacy

We have lost the names of countless millions to the ages. The sailors on the Greek triremes, the wives of crusader knights, the faceless victims of colonialism. Those who live on only in records, disembodied names who only exist when somebody observes them. Heisenberg humans.

Most of us will be lucky to be remembered for anymore than a few generations, first as parents then as grandparents. Yet as your grandchildren pass who will be there who can remember your face, the way you smile or how they used to play football with you in the park? There are 7 billion people who will need to be forgotten in a hundred years.

Yet many if us are building our own legacy. More of us than ever are producing information about ourselves and the world. We are living in a legacy gold rush, furled by Facebook, twitter and blogs. Sites like YouTube and Wikipedia have given my generation a way to push their existence to millions, should the technology exist in a century there may be someone who stumbles upon an article or video you gave produced.

Myself? I am not going to be remembered as a great writer, scientist or leader and I do not wish to be known for my infamy.

All I ask for is to be remembered, at least for a little while.

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More of Me

I’m sure this is not a sentiment shared by many others, in fact other people may consider it to be akin to the apocalypse, but I really wish there was more of me to go around.

I’m not talking about the volume of my expanding waistline, I am not looking to increase my vertical (or horizontal) height, I just wish there was another version of me to do all the crap jobs. An assistant Geek Ergo Sum that could do all the boring bits of life, like the cleaning or going to work. That way I could spend more time doing the things I enjoy whilst leaving all the other jobs to someone I can trust to do it the way I would like; me. Forget Dolly the Sheep, what I really want is my clone.

Yes, there are several ethical and philosophical issues around having an exact clone made of myself, and especially for doing all the menial work I want to get rid of. If they had the same physicality, mind and memory as me then who is really the clone and who is me.

This isn’t an exercise in being uber clever about the reality of the self though. This is a look at if I had a clone how would we split up our responsibilities, how would I divide my life tasks to lead a better and healthier existence. The temptation is to send Geek Ergo Sum #2 to work for me, get them to do all the housework and just live a life sat in front of the TV and relax.

By doing that who is living my life, me or #2? As much as this pains me to say, we must share the workload. Beware work colleagues there are now two Mes on the team.

This would be handy, as actually there is the need for two of us on the team (and I assume that the budget will allow for another FTE). My task list seems to only ever be increasing with menial tasks and ad hoc reports to produce with little time to get my teeth into some real analysis that could make a huge difference to our business. It’s my fault as I’m good with creating reports so I am given a list of ones that to create with very little time to think about them and interpret them.

With my clone however this is perfect, #2 can concentrate on Excel, Access, VBA and trying to make the myriad of IT systems give accurate and meaningful data. This is what I do at the moment, but with my newly gained free time I can develop real insights into customer behaviour and work on recommendations from the data. I will be able to the Data and Analysis of my Data Analysis job title, rather than spending all day forwarding emails around and trying to fix spreadsheets.

This is the problem so many people have, not having enough time to do all the work they need to. With employers being too worried to take new staff on we are being asked to do more and more with what little time we have. When someone leaves a team we ask the remaining few to split that persons workload amongst them. With little enough time as it is we are being stretched thinner and thinner and feel as though we would like to see that ring we gave Frodo one last time.

The advantage of having a clone at work would be at least I know what they are doing, and how they did it. This is my weakness with delegation, I like to be sure that they have done it in the manner to which I am accustomed. Even when using the various MI systems in place, that have cost millions and took months to implement, I am still not 100% sure of the numbers because I didn’t do them myself. At least with my clone I wouldn’t have to explain VLOOKUP or how to use a pivot table, in fact the more I think about it the more this seems like a good idea.

Okay what we need is developments in science to advance to allow human cloning, sped up aging, and the transference of knowledge and experience to said clone. This all needs to happen as soon as possible, preferably within the next 3 months.

Or instead of a clone I would just settle for an assistant, that way I need not worry about them taking over my life and killing me to be #1. I’ve seen enough science fiction to know that duplicating yourself is not a good idea (or with Multiplicity… a good film).