Three birds at the front door

I like it when things happen on top of each other. A kind of synchronicity to things. Rain starting at the same time as an exam. Light turning green just as you down-gear. Ideas bubbling up when work is at the most hectic.

Normal stuff sort of. Stuff that happens randomly if you don’t connect the dots. With divine plan if you storify the whole thing in hindsight.

wooden birds

Random picture for today. The wooden birds that hang at our front door. They were there when we moved in and will probably stay there when we move out. We are renting. Renting a place we got through divine providence.

Or accident. Your choice.

If not here, where? If not now, when?

Another cryptic heading because I am not intending to tax myself with trying to create things with phrases that Google might like or some other arbitrary hamster driven reason. This is my blog where I want to post things that I write firstly for the reason of having somewhere to post it. If somebody might find it and read it, bonus.

Which is why I am firstly simplifying a lot of what is happening here. I’m taking away categories for instance. And I’ve removed the newsletter subscription form. I have no desire to start a newsletter so I’m not even entertaining the idea with trying to entice people to sign up. If you want to get notices via email to can sign up to updates direct from the site. Automated and easy and I don’t have to do squat.

So, what now?

I intend to revive my blog. Meaning that I want to use it to its full extent, as a blog. Possibly and aiming to post daily. Please not that I do not say write daily, I said post daily. Meaning that sometimes I will write and post as I go, like this post that is going to be posted just after I’ve written it, with a slight time delay.

Or, I am going to dig stuff I have written and have posted on other blogs and previous incarnations of this blog, dust of those posts and post them, on a scheduled basis.

Or, I am going to sit down for a day and write a bunch of posts and schedule them ahead.

Or, I am going to use some secret formula to pull posts out of thin air and then have them magically appear on my site. This requires ginger, battery acid and a skinny cat and at the moment our cat is too fat.

But what I am going to do to fill out the daily schedule is to take whatever I write and schedule it on a specific day of the week some time in the future for the next twenty weeks. Then I’m going to, when I get to this again, take another day of the week and schedule posts for that day, ten weeks into the future. Rinse and repeat until I have a post every day for ten weeks into the future and then let’s see what happens.

So, why am I telling you this?

I’m not. I’m telling it to myself because what my blog firstly is for is to put my thinking outside myself that I can have a look at it. And some of that thinking is wishful thinking in terms of what I am able to do. Or, in other words, planning and goal setting.

In summary then, this blog is my writing/thinking space. Your welcome to tag along but I’m not doing this specifically to build a readership, blog a book or sell anything. I am just thinking out loud.

First 5 Words of Toujours Voir

“Folks!” the bodyguard announced. “In…”

David Brin — Toujours Voir from The River of Time

I quote only five words from this short story because as a precision short story it is only 250 words long. Quoting 50 words would therefore be quoting a disproportionate amount of the story.

David Brin describes a precision story as “a fable written to very exacting standards.”

This 250 word version is one such fable, something that can also be called flash fiction and also constrained writing. I don’t much care for flash fiction, which sometimes seems pointless, but I do like constrained writing and I might try this version someday.

How I increased my email subscriber list a 100% with just one click

What, you don’t believe that that is possible? How can you increase your subscribers with just one click. This is a hoax. A foolish prank and just plain nonsense.

Well refuse to believe it if you want to because it is true and I will tell you exactly how to do it. First you create a completely new mailing list. And then you subscribe to your own list which means with one click you have increased your subscribers with 100%.

Okay, admit, it is a bit funny.

But seriously, what is this about? A couple of things to be sure.

Firstly, I have created a mailing list and I have put a new sign-up form here. It is at the bottom of the right column if you are on a normal screen. I would of course like you to click there and sign-up. I mean, why else would I put it up here?

Screenshot of mailing list sign-up form
This is what the mailing list sign-up looks like, but this is not it – this is just a picture of it.

Which brings us to secondly and that is that everybody and their cat says that you need an email list. Because that is the only way to make a real difference. No, don’t ask me for proof. I don’t have it. As far as I am concerned it is all hearsay but I am willing to give it a try. The try being having a mailing list and seeing what that does.

And that is the third, getting people to sign up for the mailing list. Well it is like Twitter followers or any other media. By the way I have re-activated my second Twitter account and will be building the group there as well so you can sign up as a Twitter follower as well.

Again, why?

Because talking in the echo chamber is beginning to make my ears hurt. And because I would like to figure out how to build a list. And when I do I might write something about it. Or not.

Who knows, I might even send you an email telling you about my amazing findings. But then you would have to be on the list. And that is just to the right of this on the bottom of the column.

Try it, I promise you will make a phenomenal difference to my subscriber list.

Stop Re-inventing the Wheel

We have become so enamoured with innovation and originality that it has become a punishment to do any task. In stead of stealing and borrowing ideas and parts from anywhere we would rather go and figure out the core purpose and re-invent the thing from the ground up.

Tricycle chained to pole
We’re not going anywhere today
This has to stop.


Because trying to be innovative and original on every single task is daft. It is like trying to re-invent walking every morning before you get out of bed. You are not going to get very far.

Case in point. I have to set a test. The work to be covered are well circumscribed by the curriculum. The weight of the marks and the level of questioning as well. I have been testing this section for a number of years, so has other teachers.

What would be easier? Trying to develop completely original questions or cutting and pasting more or less from a number of previous papers?

Had you asked me a year ago I would have said that you have to work out your own questions, from scratch. But even that is not possible. Because scratch do not exist. And if I did it would be a colossal waste of time.

No, I’m cutting and pasting (and editing for flow), and spending more of my energy and time teaching rather that trying to reinvent the track.

Nothing original going on here.

First 50 Words of The Fallen Curtain

The incident happened in the spring after his sixth birthday. His mother always referred to it as ‘that dreadful evening’, and always is no exageration. She talked about it a lot, especially when he did well at anything, which was often as he was good at school and at passing exams.

Ruth Rendell — The Fallen Curtain from Collected Short Stories

The Mouse-track Method of Cleaning Up House

If you do not have a set method of cleaning house, a system of some sort, you are probably exactly where we are most weeks. Some things are okay but underlying that there is a general mess and you have no idea how to tackle it.

boring white room with dining room furniture
Do you ever think that nobody really lives in those boring white places you see in magazines?

This is one method I use to overcome the overwhelming feeling that nothing except a major demolition is going to get the problem fixed. I call it the Mouse-track Method. We find it especially useful because stuff tend to accumulate in corners.

You do it like this:

First decide on a point of origin. This is your safe zone to which you will return once you are overwhelmed. For me it is my bed. But it could also be your front door, back door or any other significant marker in the house.

Secondly you set a timer. Ten minutes are good. You can do a lot in ten minutes. Much more than you think. And doing a lot more than you think is the goal that you can only reach if you manage to trick your mind to not focus on the overwhelming load of cleaning up to be done.

Thirdly you work from your starting point, along the wall and to the corner and back. The way that a mouse would run, along the skirting. You clean up whatever you find along the way. Put stuff away, tidy up and if you can wipe and dust.

Starting at my bed that means stacking the books I’m reading, taking away whatever accumulates in the night and tossing abandoned socks in the wash.

Fourthly, when the timer goes of decide if you have the energy to continue or are you done (or out of time). If you still have energy and time set a new timer and go again. From the first corner to the next.

Rinse and repeat until you run out of steam.

Some more notes

If you get to a wall that takes a couple of seconds to do, which you might once you reach a passage or something, then go on to the next wall.

If you continue for a number of sessions you might reach an outside door. Skip over the door and continue inside or slip out and tidy the front porch, weed a flowerbed or sweep the courtyard.

Our place is built with outside walls so I can continue along going out the front door and eventually coming back in the back door — doing half the house. To do the other side of the house I would have to start somewhere else such as at the fridge. That would take me the other way around.

It is unlikely to complete a circle in a day, so at some point you will have to stop. You can then continue next time where you left of or start again from your safe spot. Either way you will get a lot tidied up, especially corners you would normally ignore. Combine this with other strategies and the whole house should be less of a mess.