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This Is The End? – Daily Blog #76

The more astute of you will have realised that it has almost been a full week since Daily Blog #75, which isn’t exactly daily now is it? I thought that a day or two away from the keyboard would have me coming back refreshed and excited, but 6 days later I’m still wishing I had more time off.

The idea behind daily posts was to improve my writing. Or at least improve my confidence in writing; at the time my messages felt lofty, drawn out, and not really delivering the key messages I was trying to get out there.

That annoyed me. And after six years of writing I felt like I still didn’t know what I was doing. Daily writing was a way to try to fix that.

And while initial results were very positive, over time it began to feel more like a chore, something I was doing just to get it done. Posts felt unfinished, under researched, and just not worth reading. And if I don’t think they are worth reading, then why the hell should you?

Does this mean I’m done? Absolutely not.

I will be taking a few more days away from the keyboard, but I will be coming back to test out some new writing schedules. I’ll still be posting more often than before, but posts will not be rushed to meet a 24 hour deadline and I’ll be giving them the time they need to get 80% of the way to perfection.

And while this feels like a failure now, continuing wouldn’t be because I think it’s the best thing to do, but only because it’s a habit. And that’s been my downfall before.  If I was really doing this to get better at writing, then a new approach is needed.

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Smile – Daily Blog #75

Right now I’m about halfway through my second reading of How To Win Friends And Influence People by Dale Carnegie. I picked it up for the first time a couple of years ago and loved it. Second time through and I’m possibly loving it even more.

This is the first time I’ve re-read a book, usually relying on my little black book to recall the main points. But knowing me the chances are high that I missed a few things the first time through. Life does go on after all, and with each new experience we will process and absorb information differently.

I figure that after two years I might just learn something new from this book that I didn’t pick up on fully the first time around.

Or maybe I won’t; but that’s not the end of the world, either.

Anyway. All I wanted to do today is to share a passage from the book. It’s one of my favourites, mainly because it’s so simple to understand and easy to implement. A little back story – Carnegie took this extract from a notice that was posted in some shopping mall during the Christmas period, although didn’t say where. A little googling tells me it’s the work of Frank Irving Fletcher in an advertisement for Oppenheim, Collins & Company.

The Value of a Smile at Christmas. It costs nothing, but creates much. It enriches those who receive, without impoverishing those who give.

It happens in a flash and the memory of it sometimes lasts forever.

None are so rich they can get along without it, and none so poor but are richer for its benefits.

It creates happiness in the home, fosters good will in a business, and is the countersign of friends.

It is rest to the weary, daylight to the discouraged, sunshine to the sad, and Nature’s best antidote for trouble.

Yet it cannot be bought, begged, borrowed, or stolen, for it is something that is no earthly good to anybody till it is given away.

And if in the last-minute rush of Christmas buying some of our salespeople should be too tired to give you a smile, may we ask you to leave one of yours?

For nobody needs a smile so much as those who have none left to give!

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Want To Learn How Something Works? Break It – Daily Blog #74

The flash was an intense blue and the bang was deep and solid. The smoke came next, only to be soon followed by an intense burning smell.

I’d been looking at that red switch on the back of the computer for a while at this stage, always wondering what it did. And now I knew – it got me into trouble. 

I’d actually thought at the time that it was a self destruct switch, given that the computer was now dead to the world, and I knew I was up shit creek without a paddle. But like any 8-year-old boy, I didn’t say a word to anyone, just turned around and walked away.

It was a lesson hard learned, and one I’ll never forget; we all know that fear you get as a kid knowing you’ve broken something and are just waiting for it to be discovered.

Breaking things and fixing them, though, is a great way to learn and is how I’ve picked up most of my modest levels of DIY skills.

I’ve had to reinstall windows countless times after messing with the settings so much that I end up bricking a computer. Our shed is filled with bits of old lawnmowers and belts, fossils from things that were broken beyond repair.

But while I was busy making all these mistakes and not quite getting things fully fixed, I’ve picked up skills that have led to far more things being fixed then being left broken, and knowing how to look after things the right way to stop them getting broken in the first place.

Get out, find something that’s broken, take it apart, and try to fix it. What’s the worst that can happen?

Oh, and that switch on the back of my computer? It was the voltage supply switch – I’d essentially doubled the voltage being supplied to the computer and, well, turns out that lets the smoke come out.

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If you can’t afford to lose it, you can’t afford to buy it – Daily Blog #73

Back in blog #52 I gave some pretty solid financial advice; follow that method and you’re safe knowing that anything you do buy, you actually want. It’s a simple system and if you’ve not already read that you should go check it out now.

Since then though I’ve also come across another little way of thinking that should help even more, coming yet again from Mr Money Mustache.

“If you can’t afford to lose it, you can’t afford to buy it”

Discretionary purchases should never put you in a financially stressful position. They should be well thought out, planned, and budgeted for. But that’s hard. Real hard. And even the best of us get caught up in wanting something so bad that we just cave and buy in the heat of the moment (Stupid kiteboarding gear).

But if you can follow both the wishlist method and this mindset of not buying something unless you can afford to lose it, not only will you only buy things you actually want, but you won’t end up spending money you don’t have, either.

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Are You Stressed For The Right Reasons? – Daily Blog #72

So, if you’re busy cleaning up other people’s mess and making your friends hate you, won’t that make life suck a little?

In a way, yes; there is a certain level of discomfort that comes with admitting you’re short of your goals and that you’ve no idea how to get there. It’s an uncomfortable feeling and one that makes me feel anxious quite a lot.

But I can say, clear of any doubt, that it is worth it. Because the only alternative you have is hoping that chance and luck will bring you exactly what you want in life. And unfortunately the second law of thermodynamics, entropy, has something to say about that.

So what’s it going to be? The stress that comes with figuring out what you’ve got to do, or the stress that comes with just hoping it’ll happen?

“Traveling to the Rocky Mountains by plane would be to see them in one kind of context, as pretty scenery. But to arrive after days of hard travel across the prairies would be to see them in another way, as a goal, a promised land” – R. Pirsig, Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance

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2001: A Space, Odyssey?!? – Daily Blog #71

I’ve just finished watching “2001: A Space Odyssey” for the first time, and, well, I don’t get it.

As a teen I didn’t really watch films; I struggled to stay focused and usually ended up in my own head thinking about god knows what.

Now that I’ve gotten older it’s gotten a lot better, probably due in part to my new appreciation for editing and video production. And over the last few years I’ve been (very) slowly working through some of the titles I always avoided back in the day.

“The Godfather”, “Scarface”, “Close Encounters of the Third Kind” – all examples of films that a decade ago couldn’t hold my attention but since then I’ve watched and really enjoyed.

2001 was different, though. While I’m impressed at the advanced cinematography this film uses, given that it’s nearly 50 years old, the story just didn’t really do anything for me. I felt no connection to the characters, found myself wanting to skip ahead, and right to the end was wondering when the film was actually going to start. 

Maybe I’m wrong, but is this film really all that amazing? Did I get it mixed up with something else? Or is just an incredible showcase for cinema back in the day?

As far as I’m concerned, “The Shining” is still Kubrick’s best film.

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