Friday 26 February 2016

#143 Hundreds of chalets

I was pleased. It was Thursday morning, I'd just gotten on a train and now I could spend the next hour and fourteen minutes just sitting there while the world flew by at 70mph.

The high points of the last twenty four hours at a work conference in Centre Parcs had been getting lost trying to find my villa and observing the small similarities of the resort to the ones that I went to when I was growing up.

Whenever I go somewhere new, I walk around and get a bit lost. I wanted to find my way to the villa, not the map's way. You can't find the map's way. It's already been found.

Centre Parcs was one of the places where I'd had some of my most fun times as a kid with my family. Now I was revisiting it in a smart casual dress code for training exercises and small talk. Still, it made a change from a regular day in the office.

I'd go back there. Not to Woburn. maybe Nottingham or Cambridge as they're larger forests. No keys, no cars, no wifi code. The villas are warm and tidy. There are trees everywhere. It seems like a nice place to spend a few days. I always liked the large L-shaped sofas too.

Saturday 20 February 2016

#142 Ultimate privacy: a fruitless pursuit? 

My sister and I were never allowed to have locks on our bedroom doors when we were growing up. That's not the least of the reasons why I lack the knowledge and experience to comment on the encryption row between Apple and the US government but it's one of them. Screw it though, I'm going to write a bit about privacy.

As it happens, I was quite a shy teenager and spent most of my time either watching TV or playing video games. I did occasionally have a girl over though. If I had been allowed to have a lock, I probably would have made use of it. When you're fifteen and trying to grab a girl's boob, that whole moment can be ruined when your dad walks in with a plate of cut-up apples and some peanut butter on crackers.

Our bathroom door, of course, had a lock on it. There are parts of the human anatomy that most people consider private. When it comes to terrorism though, even that kind of privacy flies out of the window. As the map scene from the movie Three Kings shows us, when the US military want something badly enough, they'll literally go into your ass to get it. Maybe Apple didn't see that coming. I'd be more inclined to say though, that the government didn't see Apple coming. They should have.

Companies will be companies. They'll do what they legally can to satisfy what they think the customers want. This type of hyper-security, where even Apple can't get into its customers phones might seem strange but people take time to trust technology. It's only quite recently that we digitised our shopping, our banking and our social dialogue. We're still getting used to it and while we do, there's bound to be some overreactions and under-reactions to cyber threats.

Compared to the old days though, your cash, your photos and your identity are all still relatively safe. The main reason for this isn't because they're well encrypted or in a safe, or guarded by a big dog. It's because the vast majority of people are decent and wouldn't dream of stealing from you. The exceptions are chocolate, most dairy products and the occasional item of clothing. What that suggests to me is that in the long-term, having a little black box that not even the government can find its way into, probably won't be necessary. It'll be an interesting story to follow though.

Sunday 14 February 2016

#141 Great minds think a little

I've always been a thinker. I get it from my mother. You might not notice that she's thinking something but she will be. At university, one of the other students wrote about me in our yearbook, "Dan often looks like he's sat there doing nothing but don't be fooled, he's constantly considering where the next free BBQ's going to come from".

At army cadets when I was sixteen, there were hourly fag breaks which were known as "naffies". I would observe these breaks and stand with the other teens, watching them smoke, joke and swear. I never opened my own mouth though, not for words or cigarettes. The other boys later confessed that they'd taken me for stupid, until written tests were sat and it became apparent that I wasn't.

When I was eleven, I attended a friend's birthday party where at one point, the other children were running around outside. It was a sunny day and I remember wanting just to sit quietly by myself on a grassy bank, which I did for a minute. My friends kept coming over though and asking if everything was ok. They couldn't understand why I was happy alone with my thoughts and I didn't feel like I could satisfactorily explain it so I got up and played with them.

A stream of consciousness is a curious thing. Raw. At times nonsensical. Relatively unedited. Sometimes I'll get asked what I'm thinking and I'll need a moment to try and work it out before answering. When writing or speaking, we do well to capture certain elements of our thoughts and to process them, as a manufacturer might take a mud-covered sugar cane and produce from it sweet, sparkly granules.

There are those who scarcely audit what they say or write. I'm not knocking that. Talk to such people if you want honest feedback, some of them seem not to be able to give any other kind.

Is thinking too much a bad thing? The question answers itself. A thinker's friends, family and colleagues will give signals if they suspect there's some over-thinking going on, which is useful... At least, I think it is... Probably... Is it always useful though?... How can we be sure?... What if it isn't?...

Sunday 7 February 2016

#140 Imogen

Blog blog blog.
Bloggety bloggety bloggety bloggety blog.
Blog blog bl-blog blog blog blog blog blog blog blog blog blog.

It's been sort of a quiet weekend. I say that every weekend of course. My life is fairly quiet. Usually. On Thursday I went to the dentist for the second time in a decade. This is not advisable, to go so long without going. My father tried it in the seventies and now his mouth is mostly metal towards the back. From what I can tell, toothpaste has improved so much since then that now it is fairly rare to need so many fillings.

I will be going more regularly in future. They might want to take one or two of my wisdom teeth. She said "let's talk about it when you come back" but I recognise a negotiation tactic when I see one. Probably charge me for it too. Can you imagine? If anything she should be paying me. A fairly common procedure from what I hear. I guess I don't need them anyway.

I watched a few Eckhart Tolle videos on Youtube this weekend. Never seen the guy before. I read his book but didn't know anything about him at the time. Bonkers by most people's standards. If everyone decided to go off and sit on park benches for years I hardly think it would improve global wellbeing. Seems like a nice chap though. I daresay he has some good points.

One thing I seem to experience differently from the spiritual brigade is that they tend to describe peacefulness as a state of awareness. When I'm feeling peaceful, I'd say I'm more tuned out. Switched off. Then again, I'm not a spiritual guru.

Or am I?