Archives for category: General

The title of this post should really be ‘tomorrow’s buttocks’, but that would send the wrong message entirely. There is a serious message to it believe me.

I don’t know about you, but I get ideas any time, any place. Ideas for things I need to buy, ideas for blog posts, business ideas, and so on. You have to strike while the iron’s hot. To prevent them from becoming simply a fleeting thought that I can’t possibly recall, I jot the idea down, sometimes with a few words of explanation, in case the title of the idea is too pithy or esoteric for me to get to the kernel of it.

I was telling my wife the other day that I needed to create a blog post. She recalled that I was driving an iea and asked her to put a couple of words into her phone’s notepad for me to use as inspiration later. When she pulled up the not, it simply said ‘tomorrow’s buttocks’. I know, me neither. It could have been autocorrected, but from what I simply have no idea. It’s gone, the fleeting thought has fleeted, for good.

Is this what it’s like to be a detective, trying to piece together from the tiniest of clues what happened in an event, what people were thinking and what caused them to behave the way they did? Tough gig.

If it were important enough, ike an idea for a great melody, it would have come back to me. But how many millions have been lost, or how different might the world be, and the things we take for granted, from fleeting thoughts that people never executed?


I was at a 5th birthday the other day. I haven’t been to one in a long time, and I’d forgotten how frenetic they can be, but I was over in the UK and my nephew was going, so why not I thought.

One of the youngest kids there had a pair of running shoes on, which flashed when his foot landed on the floor. Except, these weren’t your normal flashing shoes. The whole foam base of the shoe was full of lights which changed colour every few seconds. White soles, then blue, then green, yellow, red, purple.

I want a pair.

Trouble is, you can’t get them for adults, I’m sure. They would be fantastic at music festivals and parties.

If you see a pair of adult light up shoes, let me know. I’m a European 42, UK size 8, US size 9…

Are you an early bird or a night owl?

Gone are the days where we work ludicrous hours, unless we have our own business, earn stupifyingly large amounts of money or have a misplaced and unrequited sense of loyalty to our employer. It’s all about work-life balance these days and so we tend to work a reasonable amount of hours.

Which brings me back to my original question. I worked recently with an SME which had two principal guys. One started very early and finished at a reasonable time. The other started reasonably late and finished late. Their dovetailing partnership worked well and they were able to provide longer corporate coverage as a result.

I find that if I’m doing intense stuff like writing then an early start brings out the best in me. If I’m doing other kinds of work, then a later start seems to pay off. When I was a student, I was a night owl – on the studying/working front. As I’ve got older I’ve found that the early bird suits my lifestyle balance better. Plus, I’m usually mentally wiped by the end of the day.

As a consequence of this I find it really helps me to plan out my working week, and even into the weekend. Plotting the early bird and the night owl requirements ahead of time means that I get the required rest and family time, as well as the work done.

It’s really hard for native English speakers to agree on the correct definition of this week vs next week. Even family members confuse each other. How much harder must it be for non-native speakers, unless they’ve been taught an easier, simpler way?

Then there’s this weekend vs next weekend. If it’s Wednesday today, does this weekend or next weekend start in 2 days’ time? Tricky one. Sometimes we have to qualify ourselves by saying something like ‘this week coming’. Awkward. It interests me that something so basic and important is subject to such variance.

For me it’s a simple distinction, like the distinction between this and that, which governs how we explain the difference to those speakers of language who have no separate word (‘dieser’ being both this and that in German). I argued in that post that this is close in time and place, and that is less close in time and place. With me so far?

This week is the week we’re in right now, and I count my week from Monday to Sunday.

This weekend is the first weekend after today. If it’s a Saturday or Sunday, this weekend is the one I’m in, right now.

Next week is the week commencing Monday. If it’s a Sunday, next week starts tomorrow. If it’s a Monday, next week starts a week today because I’ve started this week. If it’s any other day than Monday, next week starts on Monday.

Next weekend is not this weekend, it’s the one after.

However, if you count your weeks from Sunday to Saturday, then all bets are off, because if it’s a Sunday then for you next week starts next Sunday, not tomorrow :-). Ha, I’m actually laughing out loud as I write this.

Should I have used a diagram? Do you agree with my definition? Do you care?


‘Oh, nice one.’

I like receiving a ‘nice one’ from someone. It’s an elegant compliment I think. It’s almost an aside, almost an afterthought, quite understated, and for those three reasons it comes across as both appreciative and genuine. It doesn’t sound perfunctory.

Nice is often thought of as an underwhelming adjectival endorsement, a way of damning someone with faint praise.

‘What do you think of my dress?’

‘It’s nice.’

‘Gee, thanks for that glittering encouragement.’

Nice one, on the other hand, as well as its sister phrase ‘nicely done’, doesn’t carry that undertone of non-commitment. It’s not over the top either. It’s just about right, at least to my English ear which is tuned to appreciate signals of understatement, modesty and humility from others, even if I can’t always give them myself.

I wonder what hotel energy bills are like. They must be astronomically high. All those airy, high-ceilinged communal rooms…

I’ve been staying in hotels in Dublin recently. When I check in evening-time the room is always toasty warm. I don’t know if it’s been on all day, since the last person checked out, or maybe the cleaner put it on when they finished preparing the room.

When I leave in the morning, to return later that day, the room is warm. It’s probably warm all day, unless the cleaner turns it off when they come in to clean, since it would be too hot to do all that work, before turning it back on as they leave. Or, perhaps, as you often see as you check out, the cleaner has the hotel room door open of the room they’re cleaning, to allow then to easily go to and from their supplies trolley, with the heat from the room seeping out into the corridor.

Presumably more modern or larger hotels take a more automated approach to central heating. But I wonder if they could automate it further. Perhaps they could ask guests their estimated check-in time when they book, or their estimated return time, and this could be programmed into a system which automatically activated the heating in their room 30 minutes before they were due in?

Either way, there must be huge scope to reduce energy bills without giving the guest the feeling that you’re scrimping on the finer things you expect from a room, like warmth and cosiness.

I think there’s a kind of hotel room etiquette for regular travellers. I say for regular travellers because I refer to business travel rather than holiday travel, where I think different rules apply.

If you’re staying in a hotel room for a night or two, then I think a few unwritten rules apply. These are some of the ones I apply:

  • I get 4 pillows and 2 cushions on my bed. I need 1 pillow. I stack the other three pillows and the 2 cushions on a shelf, with a note on top saying ‘not used’
  • I get 2 body towels, 2 hand towels, 2 face towels and a bath mat in my bath room. In only use the body towel and the bath mat for everything. Seems reasonable. I make it obvious I haven’t touched the other towels
  • I sometimes take the freebie bottles of shower gel and the bar of soap, especially the ones I’ve partly used. I figure that’s OK. I can’t imagine they recycle the half-used contents to make whole bottles
  • I always tip the person that cleans my room when I leave, even if it’s only a couple of quid. My rationale is that everyone else in the hotel spends 2 to 3 minutes on me alone: the check-in/check-out person, the restaurant staff, the coffee shop person. The cleaning person probably spends at least 20 minutes getting my room ready. It’s the least I can do
  • I try and leave my room tidy. I don’t take the proverbial, nor do I subscribe to the argument that it gives them something to do if I leave it messy. If you had to clean 20 hotel rooms a day you’d appreciate some rooms taking a few minutes less, wouldn’t you?

Those are the main rules of hotel room etiquette for me.

When I was a kid, you sneezed into your handkerchief or a tissue. No-one seems to have a handkerchief any more. We tell our kids to ‘sneeze into your elbow’, the thinking being, I suppose, that if you sneeze into your hands it makes it easier for the germs to spread.

Who can actually sneeze into their elbow anyway? Your elbow, which I’m randomly realising as I write this is an anagram of below, is on the outside of your arm. You can’t actually sneeze into it.

So for now I’m all about ‘sneeze into your crook’. Not a crook, or any other hoodlum, mind you. The crook of your arm, the inside bit that’s created when you bend the arm at the elbow. It’s an odd word I know, but it makes more sense and is much more natural.

You heard it here first: sneeze into your crook.

Dublin is booming at the moment. Over the last 2o years or so that I’ve lived in Ireland, I’ve noticed a genuine boom-bust flow to the economy here, which makes it very difficult to plan for the long term, as any government will tell you.

In the mid-to-late 90’s the tech industry in Ireland exploded. By the end of 2001, and the introduction of the Euro at the beginning of 2o02, the dot com bubble had burst and the country was in recession. By the mid-noughties, it was flying again. Then came the tumultuous global meltdown of September 2008 and we were all sent to the brink, our pension funds destroyed. Construction, which had formed 25% of GDP, stopped overnight.

Dublin rebounded more quickly than the provinces, and now it’s booming again. I was waiting for a meeting to start on the 3rd floor of an office on the north quays recently, overlooking the river Liffey and the south side. Out of this narrow window I could see 9 cranes. 9 cranes within my view is a sure indication of a booming city economy.

I wish some of this productivity and boomingness was a bit more equally divided across the country, which is not doing anywhere near as well as the capital. Dublin is full. It’s roads are full, its hotels are full, it’s hard to get around. Not so in the provinces. The prosperity, tech hubs and inward investments are starting to flow to the regions, slowly but surely.

But, for now, Dublin is top dog. It’s booming, at least until the next bust…

I finally got back to exercising ways the other day. I’d been injured after a run and this seemed to set off a chain reaction of twinges and aches in related parts of my body, so it was slightly over 2 weeks since I had last exercised.

I go the gym first thing in the morning, before I start the normal family or working day. If it’s regular exercise like the gym, the only time I will go is the morning. After about lunch time I can’t be bothered, so the only exercise I’ll contemplate in the afternoon or evening is proper sport.

Anyway, I bounded back to the house an hour later, bright-eyed and bushy-tailed, all chirpy, full of the joys of spring and whatever other cliche you can conjure up. It got me thinking about the paradox that is the least-most principle of exercise. The less you feel like doing something, the more you need it and the more it will benefit you. The longer you don’t exercise, the more you don’t want to do it, the longer you put it off and the harder is to get back in the saddle.

I didn’t want to get up and dressed for exercise in the cold. It took some effort but finally I was up and ready to head out. Once I’d got to the gym, I was fine. When I finished I felt great and I was set up for the day.

For me the least-most principle of exercise always holds true. The least I feel inclined to do it, the most I need it, and the most I get out of it.