Losing the battle to win the war

There is a lot of talk of politics right now. I think it’s inevitable, and it’s a good thing that people are talking (and thinking) about ways to make the world a better place.

It’s not that easy though, is it? Scrolling through my social media feeds over the last few weeks it’s becoming clear that there are a number of different opinions, some of which I agree with and some of which I don’t. That’s not a problem either though, because it’s good that I know people that have opinions sufficiently different to my own to make me think about what I believe in, and consider alternatives before making decisions. That’s the world I want to live in, and long may it prevail.

What I’m less keen on is when opinions are presented as facts, and anyone who doesn’t share those opinions is denounced as being wrong (or stupid, or any other negative word). That’s what I don’t want any part in, and why I don’t engage in politics to a greater degree. For every strong opinion there is (by the very nature of opinions) and equally strong counter-opinion, which is believed (at least as) passionately by another group of people. It doesn’t make them wrong, or make them bad people, it just means there is more than one viewpoint to consider (which to me is what makes them opinions, rather than facts).

Personally I’m all for trying to judge people on the intent of their words and actions rather than the unwitting impact they may have had on others (which is hard sometimes). And what comes out loud and clear about pretty much everyone I know is that they care about this world and want to make it a better place. How that manifests itself might be different, but the core motivation seems the same. And what’s more, I don’t think that core motivation is too different from most politicians and other public figures who speak out about these things.

Strong opinions and strong words are required to enact change, but not at the cost of our relationships with those closest to us. That’s where I draw the line, and if I walk away from something it’s generally because I’m prepared to lose the argument to save the relationship, or lose the battle to win the war.

2017 plans

It’s 2017. It’s been 2017 for a while, but as I was ill for most of the Christmas holidays, today is the first time I’ve really thought about the fact that it’s a new year, and that I’m back at work tomorrow.

I don’t really make resolutions, but I think I may be kicking off some new projects in 2017.

Towards the end of December we bought year-long Cineworld unlimited cards, which means we need to see two films per month (at least), or something like 22 or 23 over the year. We have seen three so far (in three days). Seeing films as they come out gives me something new to blog about, so I’ll likely be writing about some of them, especially if I feel I’ve got something to add that I’ve not read elsewhere.

I started using my iPad more (and my computer less) a couple of months ago, and I’m finding that to be sufficiently liberating that I might want to blog about it. I feel slightly less enthusiastic about the Surface Pro 4 I use for work now, but I may also find that there are Windows 10/Surface Pro specific things I want to blog about as well.

I plan on buying a lot less music this year, and using Spotify for pretty much everything to do with discovering and playing new music. I have my existing collection available on all my devices anyway, but this year I want Spotify to be the default way I consume music (unless it’s vinyl of course). I don’t plan on buying much more than what I get with my Rough Trade subscription (11 records, plus whatever freebies I get), although I will be putting things I really like on my wish list around birthday and Christmas time (so June and December). My hope is that I’ll spend a lot less on music, and will also get to spend more time with things I do buy. As a. result of this I won’t be posting monthly lists of things I’ve listened to, but might start writing about specific things in more depth. Today I bought a new perspex box that will fit around 20 records in it, and that should be all my music-related storage needs sorted for this year (which is just as well as I’m running out of space).

I didn’t do a great deal of socialising for most of 2016, for a variety of reasons. I don’t really have a plan to fix this, although starting a new job a month ago has already shaken things up a little in that respect and it’s quite possible that it will sort itself out organically. If nothing else, I’m going to be going to the cinema a lot more this year, which is a step in the right direction.

I might of course do none of these things and do something else instead, but I thought it was worth a statement of intent at the start of the year.

New job, new biographies

I start a new job on Thursday. I’ll still be working for the University, but for a different department and on a different project. I’m currently at home using up the holiday I carried over from last year, and I’ve set aside today to update all publicly available biographies and blurbs to reflect this change, and also to try and ensure that Linkedin and Facebook represent my updated professional and personal networks.

As part of this I’ve updated the about me section of this blog, plus the pages I maintain on what I’m currently working on and what hardware and software I’m using. I suspect all of these will see further revision once I’ve started, but they are at least more accurate than they were.

What I did on my holidays

I’m quite pleased with what I’ve achieved over the last two weeks. This holiday was supposed to be a chance to recharge prior to a very busy period at work, but I think I’ve actually been about as productive as I normally am (just in different ways).

I’ve done a lot of technical things while I’ve been off, including dismantling (and throwing away) 5 old computers, building a server/workstation using a lot of spare parts and a new case/motherboard, and setting up WordPress Multisite on the new server (and then building a site to host my Continuous Professional Development Portfolio which I have to do as part of ILM5). I’ve also decluttered my study, set up a new Raspberry Pi Zero, written a lot of notes about fixing specific technical issues I’ve encountered whilst doing all these things, and ripped about 100 CDs to MP3.

The decluttering has felt very liberating, and I plan on doing more of it (and throwing out more computers) in the summer. Of course, all this means is that I have an even larger pile of old hard drives and memory (even after using 3 of each in the new server) that I need to dispose of at some point.

As well as technical things I’ve also visited the Sea Life Centre, been out for two meals, and booked tickets for various shows. I’ve certainly spent a lot less money than a two week holiday abroad would have cost, and I’m feeling like my technology setup is moving in the right direction again.

Fragments of thought

It’s November, and like a lot of other people I’m attempting to write 50,000 words. At least 40,000 of those are going to be fiction (hopefully more), but I thought it was also worth trying to write down the other things in my head – the things that don’t really belong in a piece of fiction. I have no intention of posting them all here, but I thought a few fragments based on the sort of things I usually write in this blog wouldn’t hurt.


Things I have done this week have involved writing, a small bit of housework, and a few hours in front of the TV (watching Hemlock Grove, a bit of Once Upon a Time and all of Mr. Robot). The latter has some themes that are quite close to what I’m writing, which made me consider stopping what I was working on (I didn’t). I also answered some questions (via email) for a website related to the http://nownownow.com/ movement. I should probably update my /now page to say that answering questions about things like this is generally something I’m willing to do (I love being interviewed).

I’m listening a lot to old Cardiacs records this week. I’ve also found some complete concerts on YouTube which I’m enjoying very much.

My Rough Trade album of the month is Elaenia by Floating Points. I love it, and it sounds a lot better than the description. I like discovering new artists in this way, although I’m a little miffed that the vinyl version won’t arrive until after I’m back at work, and will therefore involve a trip to the post office.


I’m now watching this recording of the Masada String Trio from 1999 – time to catch up on the hundreds of hours of concert footage I’ve downloaded from YouTube over the last few months. The software I use is called youtube-dl (you can get it for Linux or OS X).

One day I’ll get round to writing a blog post about my musical heroes; people I’ll buy/listen to everything they have ever done. Joy Division/New Order, The Cure, British Sea Power, Cardiacs, Red House Painters/SunKil Moon, Jim O’Rourke and John Zorn. Maybe a few others as well, but these will probably have to be the main ones. I suspect this would be a very long piece of writing (10 pages +). I might want to talk about my teenage Felt fixation, and probably throw in a bit of House of Love/Wedding Present related writing as well. I also suspect people will realise exactly how much music I own if I write this post, and also how much some of it is worth (I have New Order and Cardiacs CDs/cassettes that I could sell for above £50 each right now).

Also a post about my vinyl buying experiments, and what you get for your £20 (which varies greatly depending on the artist/record company). Also some of them are a lot less than £20 now which pleases me (I’m waiting for my 1st sub-£10 record purchase in many years to arrive – a re-pressing of Joy Division’s Closer).

I think John Grant wins the “what you get for your £20” competition right now. Double album, CD version included, plus a bonus CD and an insert containing a load of really nice artwork.


Closer arrived, and it’s gorgeous. An exact replica of the 1980 vinyl, with sound from the 2007 remaster. Best of both worlds. Ian Curtis hung himself just after making this record, but listening to it always fills me with hope.


I’m listening to Felt’s The Splendour of Fear. One of the first records I ever bought, and something I love, but would probably never recommend to another human being. Six tracks, four of them instrumentals, clocking in a little over 30 minutes.


I am not sure I’m going to write anything today apart from this. The story I’m writing has hit a brick wall in that I’ve written a whole load of fragments, edited them together into three sections, and now I can see the narrative and chronology starting to form. I’m not sure what else to do though – it’s not clear enough for other people to understand, and so many sections need fleshing out more and rewriting in a more descriptive style. I’ve also got whole chapters that are just dialogue – probably more dialogue than other people write. I think I’ve probably written something that needs to exist in a variety of formats – novel, poem, play, movie, interactive adventure. But I also think it’s not original enough, and that I’ve managed to drag a few things into the chronology that I wasn’t expecting (like the way it’s turned out to be a Grail quest, like everything I write does, it seems).

My process for creating art (of any kind) is largely the same. Improvise fragments, juxtapose the fragments until their context to other fragments gives them meaning, and then take that as a starting point to flesh it out into a finished piece. It’s what I do with music, and writing, and pretty much everything I create. The finished product is just a synthesis of distinct parts that work due to their proximity to other parts. Also known as “there is no perfect chord” (sorry Leonard).


I’m listening to the new Grimes album on Spotify. I’ve read a few reviews of this record, and thought I’d have to actually listen to it as the reviews are really not that helpful (in that no-one can agree whether it’s a good record, whether they like it, what sort of music it’s meant to be). I’ve only listened to it once, but my first impression is that I like it, I’ll listen to it again, and that it’s intelligent pop music that utilises a really varied sonic palate. It’a also on 4AD, who have a habit of never releasing bad records (I may be a little biased as many of my favourite musicians have some sort of link with 4AD). I think the Quietus review does the best job (as it often does), although some of the comments are horrible.


My nownownow.com profile page went live last night. I should get round to writing something about this movement soon, because I think it’s really important.

A short account of a three-day break

I’ve been off work for three days this week. I had some leave from last year that I needed to use, and this was the first opportunity to take it. I didn’t have much of a plan apart from to listen to some music, read a book or two, and catch up on the episodes of Doctor Who that I’ve been ripping from DVD to my NAS over the last few weeks.

So far I’ve made fairly decent leaps towards achieving those goals (although I’ve only watched a few hours of Doctor Who due to American Horror Story hitting Netflix on the first day of my break), but I’ve also been dabbling with various bits of technology that are probably worth a mention.

Mac OS X 10.11.1 hit on Wednesday, along with iOS 9.1. AS I have a few Macs and iOS devices, I spent an evening making sure everything was up to date, and also checking the integrity of my backups. iOS 9.1 saw the introduction of Apple News, which I browsed for an hour or so, closed down, and have not looked at again. This is probably something I’ll come back to, but at the moment I’m happy with the news I get through my RSS reader and probably don’t need any more.

Wednesday was also the day that I had a serious look at Pancake which combines Markdown and Dropbox (two things I love) and allows the hosting of decent looking websites with little more than a Dropbox account and a text editor. I made something with this that I’m fairly happy with, but that probably deserves a separate post.

Yesterday was Ubuntu release day. A few years ago I’d always take this day off work to install the new version (if I wasn’t running it already) and sit on irc and on various forums to deal with support questions. I did some of that yesterday, and also seeded torrents of the installation media for a few hours seeing as I wasn’t doing much else with my bandwidth.

Today I’ve done nothing technical at all, but did head in to town for an hour or so to pick up the new records from Joanna Newsom and The Twilight Sad. I figured that seeing as I’m off work I might as well go and collect them rather than having to listen out for the doorbell.

Downtime

I’m particularly busy right now. It’s traditionally my busiest time of the year anyway, but it also seems like every project I’m working on is at a stage where it could easily become a full time job. I’m very conscious of this though, and I try and make sure that when I do get a whole day off then I do as little as possible to ensure I recharge my batteries.

As people who know me well will attest, I’m terrible at doing nothing. And so when I have one of these days where my calendar is empty then the best I can hope for is to spend my time doing things I wouldn’t normally have time for.

So far today I’ve watched a football match on TV (Everton’s demolition of Chelsea), read two books (Paul Auster’s Invisible and Neil Gaiman’s script for Day of the Dead), started a third book (Neil Gaiman’s Adventures in the Dream Trade), and eaten some very tasty Indian food. I’ve also listened a a few records, as well as Beirut’s new album on Spotify. I’ve also done a little editing on a very long blog post that will be going out soon, and am now sitting in my study writing this before I settle down in front of the TV with a large G&T and a small dog.

This is probably the least I’ve done in a single day for a few weeks, and it’s certainly the least I’ll do for a few weeks following this weekend. But I know that September is generally a month where I have to pretend to be an extrovert more often than usual, and so when I do get some downtime then I need to make sure I’m sensible about spending my time doing things that actually make me feel better.

Adventures in Egypt

16th May

I remember the first time I was in Egypt. I was thirteen years old, and was taken to see the pyramids at Giza. Then (as now) it was really hot there, and I’d probably not taken too much notice about staying hydrated. So when I was handed a bottle of Coca-Cola (one of the glass bottles) I downed it in one. Now, I’ve never been much a fan of fizzy drinks and I’ve always found them quite hard to drink. They don’t go down easily and they leave a really odd feeling in my stomach that makes me not want to eat for a while. This time was no exception, and as soon as the last drop hit my stomach I threw the whole lot back up in front of dozens of people on the Giza Plateau.

That was my first trip to Egypt, and I’ve not been back since. Tomorrow, that is all going to change. I’m going on a one week holiday to Sharm el-Sheik, and I don’t plan on drinking fizzy drinks, seeing pyramids or being sick.

I have no other real expectations for this trip. The plan is to have a nice relaxing holiday somewhere hot, and that fact that it happens to be Egypt is secondary. But I can’t forget that this is the country where my Grandparents met and married, and the country which I read so many books about during my ancient history phase.

I think it will be easy to forget though. I expect this trip to be high on relaxation and low on history and mythology, but at the same time I am looking forward to returning to a country that has changed so much politically and economically since the last time I was there.

17th May

The journey starts today, after a very strange day rattling around the house with no dog and no cats. I’m not sure what feels worse – sending the animals to their temporary home for a week or powering down my computer and network. I miss them both, but in very different ways.

I am also glad that Birmingham International Airport now has decent free wifi. Although I’m less glad that all the news stories seem to be about Egyptian unrest and people hacking the controls of aeroplanes.

18th May

The journey to Egypt was fairly uneventful. Sharm airport was basic, but perfectly functional, and there wasn’t too much evidence of the heightened security that is a feature of most of Egypt right now. It took a while for our bags to arrive, but once they did we were herded into a small bus, and within half an hour or so we were checking in to our hotel.

The hotel is lovely. It’s probably the nicest all-inclusive hotel I’ve ever stayed in, and very much feels like Egypt (specifically the Asian part of Egypt). The room is spacious and air conditioned, and there is plenty of storage space (including a safe and a fridge). I’ve taken a lot of photographs of the hotel and the room, both high-quality colour pictures, and a series of black and white art shots taken on my old iPhone (which I use as a watch, camera and music player when I’m travelling). I suspect a selection of these pictures will make it to somewhere on the internet at some point in the next couple of weeks.

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I’m also really impressed that we were able to get dinner and drinks despite turning up at the exact minute the restaurant was meant to close. I have no idea what I actually ate (some sort of fish, some sort of bird and white rice I think), but it was delicious, and after 5 hours on a plane with nothing more than snack food it was very welcome.

One thing that did strike me about this room is that it’s not really geared for people travelling with multiple electrical devices (so people like us). We’re not just here for sand and sun – we’re here to take photographs, write, study, and do all the things we usually do but in a different physical location. The room didn’t have any spare plug sockets at all, but after realising that we can turn plug sockets on and off with the light switch, we managed to throw together a charging station that could deal with 4 USB powered devices and a laptop. Of course, we then switched the whole thing off again with the lights, but we won’t be making that mistake again.

After a few hours of sleep, the resort looked very different in the light, and is easily the largest such complex we have ever visited (with our hotel being one of three in the general vicinity). Exploring it is going to take a couple of days, and will result in many photographs. This is the day I took lot of black and white photographs as well, and it took me back to the days I would shoot everything in black and white because it looked more artistic. I’m now not sure it does look more artistic, but it is quite interesting to have a second set of pictures that capture the trip from a slightly different (and more blurry) angle.

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We also got to experience more of the hotel food. I wasn’t as convinced by breakfast as the dinner last night, but I did really enjoy the coffee and cakes I had afterwards. It’s very hot here, and bottled water has also featured quite highly in my diet so far. I suspect this will be the case throughout the trip, although it amuses me that they serve the red wine at a much lower temperature than the bottled water. The wine isn’t actually bad, and is served in modest enough portions that a glass or two with lunch might just be an option.

When planning this trip I wasn’t sure if I had ever encountered a place this hot before. Now we’re here it doesn’t feel much hotter than Italy in the summer, but we have not encountered the heat at the middle of the day yet. Thankfully there is always an air conditioned room to retreat to, and I think that I will be spending the middle hours of the day reading, writing, and staying in the shade. I suspect that makes me a bad tourist, but I don’t really get too much satisfaction from lying in the sun and turning my skin an unattractive shade of red. Maybe I’ll feel differently by the end of the week, but for now I plan on using the good parts of this resort to the full and barely paying lip service to the rest.

One thing we did do today was to make reservations at three local restaurants that we get to eat at once each as part of our booking. So at some point this week there will be seafood, Lebanese and Japanese. We have spaced these out throughout the trip so that we get a night of hotel food and then a night of something nicer. This may be our only concession to things organised by the hotel or the tour guide, as generally we like to be left to our own devices.

19th May

Last night we spent a couple of hours in an outdoor bar, enjoying the slight drop in temperature after the sun had set. Don’t get me wrong, I love the sun, but it’s also pushing 40 degrees here and I’m really not used to that sort of heat for sustained periods of time. We also took many more photographs, including quite a few artistic ones. I suspect we may visit this bar again, as it was very pleasant.

Today has largely involved lounging around, reading, and drinking endless bottles of mineral water (and the occasional cup of coffee, although far less than in the UK). The area around the pool isn’t too crowded, and people seem to be fairly sensible about the sun, although they might also be avoiding the locals trying to sell various services that we’ve been warned not to accept. Everyone is pleasant enough, but it’s very obvious that they are here to sell things that we just don’t want to buy. None of this is a surprise though, as Egypt is notorious for this sort of thing.

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I downloaded a lot of books before I left. I’m getting through them at about 2 a day, but even at that rate I won’t run out. I may very well make a decent dent in my list of things to read though. I may also start to make a dent in the cocktail menu, although some of them sound quite odd. I will try and remember to take a picture of the menu before I head home.

We are not doing any day trips this year (they are all quite expensive, and none of them appeal), but I don’t feel I’m missing anything, and I’m very glad of the chance to stay in and around this beautiful resort for a week and catch up on reading, writing, and everything I do that isn’t part of my day job and doesn’t require the internet.

Which reminds me, last night we did check out the free wifi room at the resort. The connection was really slow, but I was online long enough to catch up on the news and read my personal email. I have no burning desire to spend lots of time on the internet, but it is good to know that the facility exists in case of emergencies. I think that’s one of the big things about those of us who spend every waking minute online – when we’re disconnected from the internet we feel disconnected from everything, as if the world is going to crash and burn without us to monitor and record every event that occurs.

One further thing that strikes me about this resort is the total lack of cats. I don’t think I’ve ever been anywhere before where I’ve not seen at least one cat, and I really do think our cats would love it here, as there is plenty of sun, a wide array of interesting looking birds (who are very tame, and therefore very trusting) and an endless supply of other food that doesn’t need killing before consumption. I wonder if it’s the climate that drives them away, or if the resort owners have just scared them off. I know other parts of Egypt have cats, and I’m mildly curious as to why I’ve not seen any so far.

We’re going to a seafood restaurant tonight. That’s something else the cats would love.

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20th May

And as if by magic we saw a cat last night.

I also have a wonderful new cat figurine (only my 4th in over 20 years, but I do love them). Cats in Egypt are meant to bring luck, but the one we saw just bought us the first bit of bad customer service of the whole trip, and a distinct lack of understanding of what did and didn’t count as nuts (for the record, almonds are nuts, always). Thankfully it was also followed by some very good customer service, a large plate of fruit and a booking in a posh French restaurant for a complementary meal.

Last night’s movie was Gone Girl. I really enjoyed it, although I suspect it bled into a rather restless night.

21st May

Yesterday we spent a large part of the day on the beach. As a result I’m a little more brown (and red) than I was, but we do have many wonderful photographs of fish, snakes, crabs and assorted other sea life. When the tide is low it’s possible to wander in the shallow water and see a wide variety of wildlife, and when the tide is high there are even more things to see with the aid of a snorkel.

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We also discovered that the large “rock” we can see from the beach was actually a grounded ship. You can’t see it with the naked eye, but with the zoom on the camera it’s possible to see it quite well. I have a few good pictures of it, plus a few of other ships and helicopters (some of which may have been military) that passed us as we sat there.

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In the evening we went out for drinks and dinner. By the time we ate I wasn’t too hungry, but what I did eat was lovely (as was the wine, which was far better than the local bars), and they let us take a big plate of fruit back to our room.

Today saw another trip to the beach for more photography, followed by coffee, lunch and a brief siesta. Dinner tonight will involve a short trip to a Lebanese restaurant which is part of the next hotel across from ours, and tonight’s movie will be either Black Swan or The Brothers Grimm.

Tomorrow is Friday, and therefore a day of rest in Egypt. I suspect there will be no resting here though, as the guests at the hotel are a mix of German, Russian, Ukrainian and British people – most of whom probably don’t observe the Muslim day of rest.

22nd May

Last night we had our first truly great meal of the holiday. I’ve not tried Lebanese food before, but found it to be delicious, and to contain a lot of meat and a lot of salads and dips that remind me of both Greek and Turkish food. The service was great too, and we ended up leaving them a tip (in US dollars, like all our tips have been). What struck me about this place is that the staff obviously had a great deal of pride in their establishment and the food they served there. That came across in both the quality of the food and the service, and it’s certainly something that the fish restaurant from earlier in the week could have learned.

Today we saw our first camel of the trip, as well as a lot more fish. The camel was on the beach, having a snooze, and it was very odd seeing a creature I associate wih dry desert conditions so close to the sea. I suspect seeing a camel ticks a box somewhere, although we still don’t intend on seeing any pyramids.

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We also received two bits of mail – an invitation to cocktails tonight (which turned out to be a photo opportunity for the holiday company) and details of our departure, which is the day after tomorrow. In some ways I’m looking forward to being home again, but at the same time I’m going to miss this place and could very much get used to both the weather and the very relaxed lifestyle.

One more full day to go, after which comes my least favourite part of any trip – packing, checking out and the return flight. I generally see the journey to a place as part of the adventure, but the return journey always feels like going over old ground, and it can never end soon enough for me.

23rd May

I spent most of yesterday feeling a bit rough, and last night I didn’t really want to do much more than lie in bed and drink water. This is something that happens to a lot of people in Egypt, and I’m glad it’s come near the end of the trip when I’ve already seen and done most things I wanted to. I suspect today is going to be a quiet day on the beach (or by the pool), but I am hopefully I’ll have regained some of my appetite in time for dinner tonight (which should be Japanese, a cuisine I’ve always loved).

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One thing that strikes me today is that the shift to digital film has made it much easier to document holidays. 20 years ago I would have to buy reels of film, and could not see my pictures until a week or so after I got home. Now I have a camera, laptop and memory stick with copies of the same 734 photographs, and can look through them this morning to check if there is anything we have not recorded. I dread to think what it would cost to take and develop 734 photos now, but I suspect it is more than the price of my camera.

24th May

Time to go home. I will miss being here, but I am looking forward to seeing my dog and my cats.

 

Why I’m bad at being on holiday

I am on holiday this week. This is largely because I still had 100% of my annual leave left (it resets in September), but also because I’m going to be in Egypt for a week starting on Sunday, and I wanted to make sure I was rested and relaxed enough to enjoy the trip rather than needing to spend half the week recovering from a fairly long stretch without a proper holiday. It strikes me that I’m quite bad at being on holiday though, because I don’t really know what to do with myself without some sort of structure and routine to keep me focused on the here and now, so I decided this time that I would actually write down what I planned to achieve, and tick things off when I’d done them. So in other words, exactly how I approach the day job and anything else that requires me to exert effort towards achieving predefined goals.

The first thing on my list was to prepare for my week away. I listed clothes I wanted to take, worked out if I needed to buy anything, and then assembled everything in my suitcase ready for sanity checking before I pack properly on Saturday. I’ve also been trying to reduce the amount of cables, adaptors and chargers I take with me, as well as removing anything from my everyday carry that looks dubious or won’t play nicely with airport security.

The second list of tasks revolved around technology. I’ve just bought a new hard drive for my NAS, which needed fitting. I wasn’t sure how long it would take, but actually due to the wonder of Synology it only took a few minutes, after which the NAS was back on line while the two drives started talking to each other and ensuring they were in sync. Again, I’m very impressed with this product, and would highly recommend it. I’ve also updated my 5 year plan for technology buying, and purchased a few other bits and pieces that I was holding off on buying until I was going to be at home for a decent stretch of time. I may write more about this later.

The final list of tasks was not a list of tasks as such, but an attempt to find a way of doing things to reduce the anxiety that comes from having a lot more time, and therefore a lot more choice about how I spend that time. This was dealt with by maintaining my usual routine of sleep, planning my meals and clothes in advance, and pretty much doing everything I normally do except work. I find that routine relaxes me, and that anything that can be automated should be, so that I don’t end up with decision fatigue. I also made sure I kept up my exercise regime, although I’m not quite hitting my usual targets because I’ve spent more time at home and less time walking between places. That said 6km a day is still fairly respectable.

That’s me done for now, although I’m hoping to schedule a few posts while I’m away, and also plan on keeping a travel journal (both text and photographs) so I have a proper record of this trip.

Social media notifications

I thought it might be useful to mention that I turned off all email notifications on social media sites a few months ago. I do still get banner notifications on my phone, but I found myself ignoring the emails on the whole, and thought I’d remove a bit of noise from my inbox. I still regard myself as active on (in this order) Twitter, G+, Facebook and LinkedIn, but I also still very much regard email as my primary method of contact for anything urgent/important, be it personal or professional.

I suppose it’s also useful to mention that I’ve started scheduling a few posts, both to my blog and to my social networks. I very much try and keep content relevant to my (perceived) audience, but if you do see me posting things when you know I’m at work or in a meeting with you, then scheduling is probably the answer (I use Buffer for scheduling, and may write more about this soon).