Thursday, 30 December 2010

end of '10

I didn't make a new year's resolution this year. Instead I said a new year's prayer at a Japanese shrine (somewhat cooler, I feel) Read about that here if you're interested :)

As I mentioned in my previous post, I intended to post my new year's resolution on this very blog as a means of public accountability, although now I think I'll do what I did last year again instead of making a new year's 'resolution', as it were. It's only a shame that this time I won't be able to say it at a Japanese shrine!

It's a bit long winded and involved to post here in its entirety, so I'll give a brief summary:

Don't take any bullshit, especially from yourself. Basically meaning:
  • No making excuses about not getting things done, just do them
  • Learn the difference between relaxing and being lazy
  • Work towards achieving that which I want to achieve

Although these goals aren't quantifiable or really measurable, I think they will serve me well (and of course, they're open to adaptation if necessary) My mum used the resolution "just do it" one year and managed to generally be more productive than usual, though because it wasn't quantifiable, she didn't feel pressured when having a lazy day / week. This is important I think; if your resolution is too strict, it's going to discourage you if you don't manage to stick to it! My mum has since used the resolutions "have more fun" and "drive through more puddles"; both of which have had the same benefits, and are, in my opinion, amazing.

Anyway, that's enough musing for now.

Happy new year to you all!

Monday, 27 December 2010

public accountability


We've all had the feeling before that we'd like to change something about ourself. Whether it's looking in the mirror and deciding you want to go to the gym, looking at your bedroom and deciding you want to lead a tidier life, or whatever else. I think we've all also had the feeling that sometimes, it's really hard to take the first step.

I know I have.

I mentioned this inspirational blog in my last post. One of the posts that stood out (not only because it was the first one I read), entitled "Don't Know What You're Doing With Your Life" gives some interesting advice on how to take the first step, and also gives some ideas for subsequent steps. I recommend reading the post.

He writes:

If you try to become excellent, normal people will judge you. Fuck them. Seriously, I said it and I meant it. Fuck ‘em. I gradually quit drugs, drinking, tobacco, refined my diet, quit sugar, etc, etc. – every time I heard discouragement and crap from people. Fuck them. When I dropped out of high school, I heard discouragement and crap from people. When I dropped out of university to start building a company, I heard discouragement and crap. When I started traveling, I heard warnings and discouragement and crap. If you try to be excellent, you’re going to constantly be hearing warnings and discouragement and crap. Listen a little if the person seems to know what they’re talking about, but don’t be discouraged. If you’re trying to be expansive and they’re telling you to be cautious, they’re probably wrong and you’re probably right. No one else says this, so I’m happy you emailed me – I’ll say it. Fuck them. They’re not bad people per se, but people do terrible things. I quit sugar or starting eating healthier and people want to drag you back down, “C’mon, have one slice of pizza… it’s just a bite of cake… c’mon, you can have one drink…” – I still can’t explain exactly why people do it, but I think it’s to protect their own identity. As you become excellent, you show them what they could be, and it hurts them. Viscerally. So don’t be too upset, your excellence hurts people to some extent. Expect constant discouragement from normal people. Eventually you’ll build a social circle of high-achieving, ambitious, expansive, cool, worldly, giving, encouraging, awesome people, and then you’ll be successful and normal people will envy and hate you, but you won’t care because you’ll have transcended it. So yeah, discouragement and warnings and crap? We all get it on the road to success. Don’t take it too seriously. Don’t hate people for doing it, but don’t give in either.

I find this to be interesting advice, mainly because I'm not quite sure how to take it. I can acknowledge that people will try to hold you back, often without realising it or knowing why. This is a response that could be / probably already is the basis for psychological study, but also one I do not currently know enough about to discuss. The thing I'm not sure about is the implication that if your friends do this (intentionally or otherwise) you should leave them behind in favour of the "high-achieving, ambitious, expansive, cool, wordly, giving, encouraging, awesome people" you'll meet later. I'm friends with all of my friends for a reason: that each of them already fit most of the criteria outlined above, and we all have strong friendships that have been built up over time. Friendships I wouldn't give up for anything, let alone a bit of discouragement.

So while I would definitely recommend the post as a whole, I hope people will think twice (thrice, even) before abandoning any of their friends who are unable to fight their evolutionary programming and find themselves slightly jealous / disheartened when they see you improving yourself. Perhaps if this is the case, they need some encouragement themselves?

Something else I found helfpul is the idea of public accountability (an idea I've encountered before but was reminded of when reading Seb Marshall's blog.) If you set yourself a goal and fail, no one's going to help you achieve it / punish you for not achieving it if they don't know about it. The suggestion of telling someone about your goals so you can be held accountable if you fail to achieve them therefore, seems like a good one. (Unless you're Nick Clegg and the goal is abolishing tuition fees - OH!)

This being the case, I will be posting my new year's resolution to my blog in the hope that my single-digit reader base may thrash me into action should I slip up throughout the year.

Wednesday, 22 December 2010


I'm currently in a test room of an academic Psychology building, having my blood sugar something measured as part of some study I don't know anything about. Every fifteen minutes my finger is punctured and the resulting blood collected for analysys, hence the post title.

I am confined to this room, unable to eat, drink, or exert myself, for three hours per session. This is so any changes in my blood sugar can be more accurately attributed to the study. Thankfully, those carrying out the study realised the inanity (word?) of three hours' solitary confinement, and provided a computer for participant use.

I have therefore spent a significant amount of time surfing the internet today. I set up a wittily-titled justgiving page for the 550 mile bike ride to Berlin I will doing in April. I read a rather inspirational blog. I engaged in banter with several friends on Facebook. Several emails have also been sent.

After this session, I'm going to work for three and a quarter hours, before getting a coach home for the Christmas period - something I'm looking forward to tremendously. Due to inconvenient arrangements all round, Christmas with my family will be divided into three: Christmas Eve with my parents and bro, Christmas Day with my uncle and his family, and Boxing Day with my grandparents and cousins. On the bright side, however, this arrangement permits me three Christmas dinners.

Om, nom, nom.

Sunday, 5 December 2010


I say, it's been a month since my last constructive post. How marvellously lazy of me. It's at times like this when I notice how cyclic some aspects of my life are, most specifically my blog cycle, which reads something like this: period of remarkable fecundity > attempt to schedule posts, thereby promoting regularity > drastic lapse in the frequency of my blogging > repeat. I recall this happening at least 3 times since (p)latitudes came to be, and each time I've apologised for my hiatus periods, promising to blog more consistently from now on.

Well this time, I won't make that promise. It doesn't seem to work, and quite honestly, the pressure of having to post consistent, meaningful, well structured updates is too much to handle. Can't a blogger just blog when they feel like it? When something particularly worthy of note needs to be recalled? When an item of interest is found that needs to be shared?

The short answer is "yes".

The long answer is "yes, of course. In fact, no one ever suggested otherwise, and the vicious cycle you're describing stems only from your deranged desire to impose order on something that does not necessarily need to be ordered. I.E. blogging. Now stop being so dull, and instead write something that provides a meaningful contribution to the blogosphere's rhetoric, you prick."

I prefer the short one, myself.

Here's a short piece of prose about the last 26 hours:

Last night, we planned to go to the pub. Instead Alex, Emily and I ended up sitting on the sofa, drinking whisky, port and whisky respectively, and talking about subjects close to our heart. It was rather nice. Bonding was had. Or perhaps done. The evening then developed into a nearly-house-wide drinking session, and involved, among other things, me nearly setting myself on fire.

Today, after discovering my laptop keyboard had been broken due to a port inundation, Alex and I headed to campus for what was planned to be a 10 hour work sesh. We started in an eatery, where I ate, before being moved on by techies who were setting up for something. Location 2 was the union pub, where we worked peacefully for an hour or so before being moved on by football fans who were staking their noisy claims for the upcoming match. Location 3 was library A, where we were unable to find a suitable work area. Location 4 was library B, where we were able to work without any severe harassment for an hour or so, before heading home with the intent of eating food.

Food was got, and subsequently eaten.

Then I worked some more, before deciding it was time to blog.