Writing today’s blog.

“Sink down a little deeper into the couch and close your eyes. Now tell me what is happening in your life.”

Am I so good at life that I don’t need a little help? Of course not.

“Open your eyes now. We start again next week.”

Feet pics

I was using Instagram to show friends and family overseas some pictures of my family and my life. This is mainly of kids being kids. Three beautiful girls to show off (soon to be four). And then I watched an episode of the Jeffrey Epstein documentary on Netflix.

Now I don’t want to post pictures of my girls online. The pictures spread without our control, even if I only post to my friends – they have downloaded the pictures and re-posted to their friends which is potentially endless and opens the pictures up to the world, pedophiles and all.

And so now I take pictures of my feet. Exclusively. I add a little blurb about what has been happening today. It’s only been two days, but already I can tell that this is going to make Instagram much less stressful, and ultimately more fun for me. I am still in touch with everyone, but I have to tell a story to accompany each shot of my shoes. I need to use humour and creativity. I know exactly what to take a picture of each day. Filters matter less!

Feet pics sound ridiculous, but I know that putting limits on something as wide open and never ending as social media is a good thing. It don’t think it even matters what the limits are. I once did this with glasses of wine. All I took were pictures of wine with anecdotes. Everyone laughed and enjoyed them. No pedophiles were tempted by them. All good.

And so it will be with my feet. Maybe some wine pics will sneak in there too.

Happy Wednesday chimps.

Educating the educated

In South Africa, the number of arts and social science graduates who are unemployed must be quite high. I sympathise with them because a while ago I was one of them.

I loved my degree, majoring in English and Philosophy it showed me ideas and art I never would have seen otherwise. But the university campus is a bubble. The most inclusive, diverse and liberal ideas are given credence and voice. Marxism blossoms and young minds become hell bent on their own importance and changing the world. This is often a beautiful thing to experience, but it is also not very helpful once you are let out into the real world where writers struggle and philosophers are not highly sought after.

I had the idea that upon graduation there would be a wealthy benefactor waiting to shower money upon me to write wonderful things for them. I was ill prepared to enter the industrial economy of South Africa which in reality is dominated by heavy industry and finance. Compliance is often valued over enrollment. Volume and economics over artistic expression. It’s a difficult world out there for aspiring artistes.

So there’s a missing link here. I’m all for studying the arts and social sciences. These are often the disciplines that give meaning and emotion to the world around us. But I also think that your average recently graduated arts major would benefit from some life skills training. Some discipline. Some information. But try telling that to an arts student.

Enrollment in any course targeted at unemployed artists would need to be well thought out. And it would probably have to be externally funded!

Worth a thought though.

Happy Tuesday chimps.

Lists

Something to put down on the list of key skills they DON’T teach you at school – alongside tax returns and how to grow your own food – is how to make lists.

For many many (too many) years I wandered in the wilderness of not making lists, making lists but then losing them on some scrap of paper, using one app to start a list and then another to finish it.

Now I use one app, assign dates to the list items, and like a row of dominos falling, all is good with the universe.

I have settled on Apple’s default ‘reminders’ app and find it really good.

No more wilderness. More stuff done on time. Lists!

Personal librarian

I like the idea of being your own personal librarian. Information flows around us. The silent and invisible nature of these rivers of information mean they are easily missed. Software ate the world and sent everything online, so I believe It’s a sign of maturity to handle your information online and that this covers everything from social media, to pay tv to paying your taxes.

This problem is new in its scope and digital nature, but there is an arc leading from the Gutenberg press. When a book used to cost as much as a small house, people started sharing them. Then public libraries were born to share the expensive books to the wider public and for years librarians have been the guides, sherpas, educators helping us navigate the reams of data available.

Nowadays the information is cheap. We each generate libraries worth of information in a single day, and it’s all connected. I think we need to gather some librarian skills to handle this revolution.

Rare

Today was a sunny winter day. We spent most of the day outdoors with our children. Hiking, playing tennis, playgrounds, trampolines.

Days like these are special because of all the obvious family bonding. However, in this moment, during lockdown and the digital revolution, today was especially rare because there was no logging on, no email. No zoom, no WhatsApp. At all.

It’s a small thing but it feels like it’s getting rarer every day.

Happy Saturday night chimps.

Revolutions and chain reactions: Managing information.

I have a growing family. It also happens to be growing in the middle of a revolution. As phone carrying members of the digital revolution, the information we generate each and every day is becoming a problem. Before the digital age, there was not much to worry about. Even the most prolific writer, businessman, operator could only create so much hard copy. The files containing our inner most secrets could only get so big before storage and weight became an issue. Now though, the information we gather on purpose, by mistake and through third parties multiplies each day. And it’s all kept on some drive or server somewhere. Privacy is dead, but there is a lot of value and power in consolidating and managing this sprawl to maintain sanity, manage risk, and coordinate your…well….life!

Perhaps step one is to define what is being generated, exactly. This is probably impossible to detail completely, but a good list might cover ~90% of the problem like a good wetsuit covers 90% of the body. Here is where I would start:

  • Look at the hardware in your life – This includes all PC’s, laptops, phones, watches, TV’s, gaming consoles, and other smart devices.
  • What property do you own which could generate information (cars and speeding fines, for example)
  • Look at the software in your life – This includes email accounts, social media accounts, app subscriptions, password management, browsers you use, tracking and privacy settings.
  • Look at your financial/work situation – credit cards, bank accounts, trading accounts, tax responsibilities, insurance premiums, salaries coming in, work projects, monthly expenses.
  • Look at your healthcare situation – memberships, premiums, chronic illnesses, children related health information, rewards programs.

If we manage to gather this list of ‘info generating stuff’ then we can work on each of the sections individually. Sound good? Good.

This is probably time consuming at first, but it is also probably very useful. Like tidying your bedroom, i think it will have obvious elements (listing your cellphones would be like the duvet on the floor which goes back on the bed) and then more detailed, less obvious stuff (delving into the direct debits from your bank account, or the points available on rewards schemes is a bit like pulling the bed from the wall and vacuuming up the dirt on the floor which is usually unseen).

Like a nuclear chain reaction (terrible Keanu Reaves movie btw!) each of these sections can probably lead down its own information rabbit hole. Just start thinking about your online passwords for example!

This concept is a work in progress – I think the trick is to make a start and treat it as a process.

Home screen

I’ve had to buy a new iPhone. The old one died in a fit of convulsions. Dead battery, slow performance and broken screen – after four years it all seems to happen at once.

In setting up the new Beast, I’ve become interested in the layout and settings on my phone. In particular I’m concerned about how the default settings on an iPhone drive certain behaviours. Notifications, constant sharing of information and confinement to the Apple ecosystem are all worth considering, I feel.

And so I found myself at this site: Link

“Exhaustive” is the word I’d use for the article, but I also found it fascinating. It has resulted in the below home screen for my phone which I am liking very much.

I’m sure of every app here except for zero. Curious about fasting though.

These phones are running our lives more and more. From work to social interactions. As Ben Evans says, The smartphone is the Sun in our digital solar system. Everything else revolves around the phone. This being the case, it’s worth thinking about how we set up the phone and interact with it.

I’m very easily hooked into social media Buti am trying to set up the phone to make it easier to drive more productive and healthier habits than scrolling Instagram, Twitter or WhatsApp all day.

A work in progress then. Happy Thursday chimps.

Light and sound

The bathroom light radiates out the doorway of the bathroom and into the dark sitting room. I used the bathroom to light up the sitting room because it’s so early that it’s still dark outside. My eyes are still waking up and I like the mood created by the borrowed light. It’s a light for thinking and creating. For relaxing alone.

Outside the rain started to fall on the tin roof and then the first birds fluttered and cheeped. A sweet Welcome to the new day.

A big yawn. A stiff early morning back and neck. Time for a cup of tea.