bookshelves arranged by colour (for conference calls)

Quite often I will be on a conference call and one of the participants will have bookshelves arranged neatly by colour behind them as they participate. This inevitably gets favourable comments: it’s a good way to impress your colleagues and acquaintances!

I thought about doing this, but I have a few issues:

  1. I don’t own enough physical books to fill a bookshelf: Marie Kondo says I shouldn’t own a single thing that doesn’t spark joy and there aren’t enough physical books in the world that will continually spark me joy to justify a dedicated bookshelf.
  2. Even if I did own enough physical books to fill a bookshelf I’d probably not have enough colour diversity in the spine of the books to be able to neatly separate them into colours – so I’d definitely be buying books I didn’t need, or even want.
  3. Even if I did have enough colour diversity in my books I would be hesitant to actually sort my books by their colour as that would mean prioritising form (colour) over function (subject matter): I find it much easier to find a book amongst a section of ‘business’ books than to find a book by remembering what colour spine it has.

I want the end goal of impressing my colleagues with my colour arranged bookshelf without the hard work and struggle of owning and organising a collection of books by colour.

So what I thought about doing is starting a Kickstarter campaign for a large photo-printed canvas blind with colour arranged bookshelves on it that you arrange behind your desk so each conference call people can see all your fancy colour books arranged so lovingly.

Or I could just stop caring what people think of me; that’s a much easier option.

(image via Fuck Your Noguchi Coffee Table)

the three a’s of apple support

the 3 A’s of Apple Customer Support:

A – Acknowledge that their concerns are valid.

A – Align with the customer, agreeing that you would feel the same were you in their shoes.

A – Assure the customer that you will be able to solve their problem to their satisfaction.

via John Saddington

notifications

“These digital alerts continuously disrupt our activities through instant calls for attention,” said researcher Dr Eiman Kanjo.

“While notifications enhance the convenience of our life, we need to better-understand the impact their obsessive use has on our well-being.

“It is clear that social notifications make people happy, but when they receive lots of work-related and or non-human notifications, the opposite effect occurs.”

So that’s why turning off all work notifications on my phone was such a good idea: a study has shown that one third of the notifications on our phone cause a downturn in our mood – particularly work and non-human ones.

land of the remembered

Growing up I went to church every Sunday with my family including ‘Sunday School’ which included learning about what happens when you die. I found our religion was good at defining what happens when someone dies—as children we learnt about how according to our religion that good people would go to heaven when they die and bad people would go to hell (you should be good!) But we had a traumatic event associated with the church so our family disassociated ourselves from the church and we haven’t been to church or consider ourselves religious since.

Fast forward to today we have three young kids we are raising in a non-religious household where we didn’t (until recently) discuss what happens when you die.

During the period where Kitty was hospitalised earlier this year we were encouraged by people providing support to our family to have a clear story/shared belief about what happens when someone dies and discuss this with our children.

But we didn’t really have a clear story or belief about what happens when someone dies! As a non-religious person I thought death was just a finish – a lights out – end of the show – when your life just becomes nothing. But that’s just depressing – especially to a kid. We realised you don’t need to be religious to believe in the afterlife.

So we borrowed an idea – it comes from a great film about Day of the Dead called The Book of Life.

When someone dies their spirit lives on in one of two worlds: the land of the remembered, or the land of the forgotten. By focussing on helping people and human connection you’ll be remembered past your death and your spirit will live on in the endless fiesta that is the land of the remembered.

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The Land of the Remembered in The Book of Life film

We like this idea as it’s not only easy to explain to our children but it aligns well with our family values and mission statement.

We have created a yearly ritual which is to watch the film as a family on Day of the Dead (2 November) and discuss our beliefs about the afterlife.

What do you believe happens when you die? What do you tell your kids?

Happy Halloween!

→ the importance of sleep

Why, exactly, are we so sleep-deprived? What has happened over the course of the last 75 years? In 1942, less than 8% of the population was trying to survive on six hours or less sleep a night; in 2017, almost one in two people is. The reasons are seemingly obvious. “First, we electrified the night,” Walker says. “Light is a profound degrader of our sleep. Second, there is the issue of work: not only the porous borders between when you start and finish, but longer commuter times, too. No one wants to give up time with their family or entertainment, so they give up sleep instead. And anxiety plays a part. We’re a lonelier, more depressed society. Alcohol and caffeine are more widely available. All these are the enemies of sleep.”

A great article on the importance of sleep: an adult sleeping only 6.75 hours a night would be predicted to live only to their early 60s without medical intervention.

📚 the boiling river

I recently finished The Boiling River: Adventure and Discovery in The Amazon—a TED book by Andrés Ruzo. I love the short format and interestingness of these books, this one was no exception.

“At a time when everything seems mapped, measured, and understood, this river challenges what we /think/ we know. It has forced me to question the line between known and unknown, ancient and modern, scientific and spiritual. It is a reminder that there are still great wonders to be discovered. We find them not just in the black void of the unknown but in the white noise of everyday life—in the things we barely notice, the things we almost forget, even in the detail of a story.”

“My headlamp concentrates my focus on the small area it illuminates and makes the darkness beyond seem impenetrable. I contemplate the marvels that must be out there, shrouded in darkness or hidden in the everyday. That is the lesson of the darkness: it is our perspective that draws the line between the known and the unknown, the sacred and the trivial, the things we take for granted and the things we have yet to discover.”

we tell stories to children for many reasons…

“We tell stories to children for many reasons, and if the goal is to teach them a moral lesson then one way to make the lesson more accessible to children is to use human characters. Yes, we should consider the diversity of story characters and the roles they are depicted in”

Patricia Ganea, from the University of Toronto on why having all the animals in most children’s books isn’t such a great idea after all.

buy experiences, not things

Over the past decade, an abundance of psychology research has shown that experiences bring people more happiness than do possessions.

Essentially, when you can’t live in a moment, they say, it’s best to live in anticipation of an experience. Experiential purchases like trips, concerts, movies, et cetera, tend to trump material purchases because the utility of buying anything really starts accruing before you buy it.

Waiting for an experience apparently elicits more happiness and excitement than waiting for a material good (and more “pleasantness” too—an eerie metric). By contrast, waiting for a possession is more likely fraught with impatience than anticipation.

source

A 8 year-old friend of junior pixels recently told him at school that our family doesn’t have many toys because we go on holidays all the time. I initially didn’t know what to think when I heard him recount this, but I am since proud of that fact.

the first day of spring

I recently finished The Subtle Art of Not Giving a Fuck by Mark Manson (spoiler: the book’s title is a misminor: it’s actually about how to selectively give a fuck), and I found this quote particularly poignant:

“Growth is an endlessly iterative process. When we learn something new, we don’t go from “wrong” to “right.” Rather, we go from wrong to slightly less wrong. And when we learn something additional, we go from slightly less wrong to slightly less wrong than that, and then to even less wrong than that, and so on. We are always in the process of approaching truth and perfection without actually ever reaching truth or perfection.
We shouldn’t seek to find the ultimate “right” answer for ourselves, but rather, we should seek to chip away at the ways that we’re wrong today so that we can be a little less wrong tomorrow.”

Today is my birthday. I always thought I was born on the first day of spring. The convention in Australia is spring begins on the first day of September. But I was was wrong. Spring technically doesn’t start until we reach the September equinox. An equinox is the moment in which the plane of Earth’s equator passes through the center of the Sun’s disk, which occurs twice each year, around 20 March and 23 September. On an equinox, day and night are of approximately equal duration all over the planet.

So in this year 2017, in Australia, spring begins around 8am on the 23rd of September, not today. I was born in winter after all 🙁

idleness is not just a vacation…

“Idleness is not just a vacation, an indulgence or a vice; it is as indispensable to the brain as vitamin D is to the body, and deprived of it we suffer a mental affliction as disfiguring as rickets. The space and quiet that idleness provides is a necessary condition for standing back from life and seeing it whole, for making unexpected connections and waiting for the wild summer lightning strikes of inspiration — it is, paradoxically, necessary to getting any work done.”

~ Tim Kreider: The ‘Busy’ Trap via What One Company Learned from Forcing Employees to Use Their Vacation Time

control your reaction

As Turia Pitt prepares to become a first-time mother in December, she recalls the life lessons her parents taught her.

“They made me realise even though I couldn’t always control what happened, or what other people said or thought, I could control my reaction,” Turia told Essential Baby.

“They also showed how I could reframe a painful or negative event, or use humour to diffuse a situation or disarm someone.”

Nothing could have prepared Turia for the Kimberley fire that left her with burns to 65 per cent of her body six years ago. But she said, it was the life lessons her parents, Célestine Vaite and Michael Pitt, imparted that helped build her fortitude.

Read more: http://www.essentialbaby.com.au/news/celebrity-parents/turia-pitt-three-things-i-will-teach-my-son-20170823-gy2ux9

i’m a human meat pie…

“You know what, I’m a meat pie. I’m a human meat pie, I’m not flash… there are no surprises. I like motorsport, I like my family, I’ve got two dogs, four kids, got chickens and some sheep. When someone says you’re the everyday man, the guy next door, or you’re the average joe, well that feels like a massive compliment. You know I’ve got a face like a dropped pie and I’m not exactly the right shape according to the magazines, but people let me on their TV screens. I’ve had some guys say, “you give me hope”.

I wouldn’t give my 16-year-old self any advice. I wouldn’t interfere with him at all, because for every broken heart and for every hard road travelled or every pothole that was hard on my emotional suspension, I’ve turned out to be who I am – and I am now with the woman of my dreams, I have four healthy beautiful children and I’m doing my dream job. Why would I risk changing any of it? I’m not going to send anything off kilter.”

~ Shane Jacobson – star of Kenny – the Australian film about a bloke that fixes busted toilets – via The Big Issue #543

the only exercise…

“Many people – and not a few companies – like to think that they can somehow stretch the cognitive limits of their minds, that doings lots of Sudoku or using programs like Brain Trainer will somehow enlarge their capacity. They’re out of luck. The only exercise that seems to nurture, or at least protect our brains is aerobic exercise. Yoga, toning and stretching may make you feel good but, in fMRI scans, only aerobic exercise seemed to have a visibly positive impact on the brain.”

~ Margaret Heffernan – Wilful Blindness