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June 2021

I’m not one for paperless

People can tell the week I’ve had by how my office looks like at the end of it. Paperwork, notepads, and books explode outwards from my desk. Like some kind mind expansion blast wave.

If by the end of the week I’m jumping over piles of paper stacked on the floor it’s probably time to schedule a few days off. I prefer the tactile process of reading and writing on paper. That means I end up with a lot of paper. I had to stop buying notebooks a while back because I had too many blank pages yet to be filled. Stationary is fun, but it’s also clutter. 

My hand writing was atrocious before I spent the majority of my time in front of a computer and it’s worse now. That said, if I want to commit a concept to memory the fastest way I’ve found of doing that is scribbling my summary of it and expanding on it with my own thoughts. Each stroke of the pen is like filing something properly in my brain. 

Any notebook I retire gets a final cover to cover read through to pluck out any forgotten gems I may have written down. I record those in text files using Markdown. There are a lot of digital black holes out there and I try to ensure I’m not making another one. I used OneNote a lot years ago and am now loath to even open the app. Too much trash in there. My strategy now is to do all the sorting and cleaning before I commit something to digital. In a weird turn of events I see digital as being permanent and paper to be temporary.

In the end if you want to keep good notes organising those notes can take as much time as you spent writing them. 


Photo by Wesley Tingey on Unsplash 


I have no idea what to do with my spare time. Given the choice I’ll work, but as it has been pointed out to me numerous times, if you are not working for yourself you’re doing unpaid work for someone else.

I don’t have so much free time that it’s worth getting a second job and I have no drive to write a novel. Sometimes I get stuck being unproductive and the very act of staying seated drives me nuts. You don’t know how long it took me to get started on this blog post. Procrastination involves self deception, I wasn’t deceiving myself when the words weren’t flowing. There were no ideas in the well when I sent the bucket down.

I should probably file my taxes early (Due date: October) just to have a productive day. This is where I am now. Filling out tax forms. The suffering involved in writing a novel is becoming more attractive by the second. Sometimes being lazy is a gift.

8D589DAD-137C-43C4-B7FD-0DAF2B95D394Photo by Chase Yi on Unsplash

Marvel movies have nowhere to go from here

Marvel Studios spent years building up to a fight with Thanos. Like those movies or not, they delivered a two film punch up that drew a line under the shared Marvel universe. My question is, does anyone care what happens now? Who can be fought that’s worth fighting seven or eight years from now? Time travelling Kang the Conquer? We’ve seen the time travel thing.

Time travel solved the Thanos problem, it also solved the Dormammu problem. Doctor Strange bored Dormammu into a truce. He won’t be the next major threat. Ultron got one movie, it won’t be him either.

They’ll bring in mutants and the X-Men. But in a world with the Avengers why would mutants be a threat? Hydra had resources well beyond any collection of mutants and Hydra were taken to pieces. Magneto would be locked up in the Raft maximum security prison a few days after he popped his head up. 

They’ll bring in the Fantastic Four. If you can defeat Thanos you have a good shot at defeating Galactus. Galactus isn’t even a villain and can be talked into ignoring Earth and coming back millennia later. He’s got the time.

Is everyone going to be a Skrull? So what? Will there be Dark Avengers? So what? Norman Osborn using the resources of the state against everyone would be interesting for a movie. That story won’t carry a number of movies.

It is probable the days of the long story arc in Marvel movies are over. From here on out it could be smaller arcs linked together. That’s less interesting to me because that’s a TV series.


Photo by Judeus Samson on Unsplash

Don't be a digital hoarder

In the real world the act of hoarding brings with it a clutter blindness. Hoarders don’t see the mess no matter how large the mess is. In the mind of a hoarder their hoarding of objects is a means of preserving their memories. The object itself has some personal significance or is part of an uncompleted task.

Throwing things away? Well that’s like choosing to forget. Or giving up on a small job they keep meaning to do but have put off until tomorrow. Years of tomorrows pass, the job will never be completed.

I confronted my own digital clutter blindness a few weeks ago. Hard Drive capacity kept getting larger, each move of the information mess to a larger set of drives giving the mess more space to grow. The starting point was sorting the mess. I wrote some rules to classify the data by extension and last access time into different folders. I hashed them to find and eliminate duplicates, and then I went through the folders with an unmerciful use of the delete command.

I deleted hundreds of Gigabytes of digital cruft that had been hanging around for more than two decades. I organised my photo collection for offsite retention and dug out some old written work I was happy to find. I was even happier to finally finish it.

It’s a cliché in information management that the first step is classification, but it’s true. If you want to deal with your own clutter blindness get something to sort your data first. If you're not one for writing your own automation scripts there are apps that will sort it out for you and they only cost a few quid. Then you work the delete key hard. You have to be merciless, and if in doubt you delete it.

I assure you that you'll feel that you have achieved something afterwards. It felt like it was leaving the burdens of the past, and its unfinished jobs, behind me at last.


Photo by UX Indonesia on Unsplash

Keep your distance. Be happier.

I’m convinced that you are better off avoiding the creators of the things you enjoy, especially online. What’s the upside of following them on social media? Are you going to learn how they do what they do from reading a few tweets? Can they explain how they do what they do themselves? So, why are you following them?

If they hold opinions you are fine with, you’re going to watch a procession of grifting nitwits argue with them to endorse more extreme opinions. “You support X, but you need to step up and support XYZ and ABC because only the worst people believe otherwise. You’re not one of them are you? Prove it.”

If they hold opinions you find distasteful that can sour everything of theirs that you have enjoyed. Out of the creators who have “suffered consequences” online for not being on the correct side of an ever shifting line, how many of them were inhuman? Or were they fine up until the moment they stepped on an opinion landmine and online outrage inertia finished them off?

Keep your distance from the creators you like, you may enjoy their work more.


Photo by OSPAN ALI on Unsplash

Who has time for this?

I was a news junkie but I’ve given up following most news. It’s ephemeral and of little long term value. I open Twitter and look away for a few minutes, 300 odd Tweets have dropped into my timeline. RSS reader? When I get around to opening it up I declare anything older than yesterday to be bankrupt and have it deleted.

Email? A river of the stuff flows into the work account, enough to be bothersome flows into the personal account. The majority of it is from mass distribution lists or some other automated process. I don’t feel bad when I don’t open them. Slack? An ocean of drivel. Podcasts? More drivel.

Who has time for this? I’m not sure I do. The value is all coming from peer to peer conversations on messaging apps. Maybe we should turn this car around and head back to AOL Instant Messenger.

Ben-white-xqjMjaGGhmw-unsplash1Photo by Ben White on Unsplash