Archives for category: General

I’ve debated for nearly the last five years as to whether to devote a blog post to this topic, whether it lowered the tone of this blog. I raised it with my good lady the other day and she said ‘it’s common knowledge, and it might help in a small way, so publish.’ So I have.

What I’ve observed over my decades of using public or shared toilet facilities is this, and it concerns male hygiene: a lot of men don’t wash their hands after using the facilities.  Horrifyingly, their propensity to not wash afterwards seems to increase when there’s food and drink involved, so in restaurants, bars and clubs.

I’ve never understood this. Your body expels waste products for a reason. Why would you not wash your hands and reduce the risk of infection? Why would you not reduce the risk of infection to others, to the people with whom you’re socialising?

Is it that men can’t be bothered, or is it that it’s more macho not to care about such things? Whether it’s laziness or lack of respect for our fellow man, it baffles me.

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I play table tennis regularly, perhaps once or twice a week. I gave it up for 15 years and took it back up 2 years ago, but apart from that hiatus I’ve always played it, so I’ve managed to get to a semi-decent standard. It’s a very fast game, needing quick reflexes, good hand eye coordination, anticipation and split-second decision-making.

As a result of hitting millions of balls and playing thousands of matches, I’m in tune with when I’m not quite on my game. I played the other day and it was one of those days when I was not quite at the races.

I was tired, and as a consequence was a little off the pace, had small losses of co-ordination, poor concentration and I made poor decisions. I couldn’t get my body to do what I wanted it to do. It’s very frustrating when it happens, because the subconscious starts misfiring and the auto-pilot feels wonky.

Here’s the interesting thing, though. Was I mentally tired or physically tired? For a long time I simply assumed I was mentally tired, and was therefore sending poor or late signals to the body. I’m not sure that’s right, though. If I’m physically tired maybe the brain is functioning well but the body is too starved of energy to execute the commands.

It’s probably, as seems to be most of the time in work, sport and life, a combination of factors that’s causing the underperformance.

I subscribe to lots of different publications and newsletters, some of which are focused on lifestyle. One of them is the succinct, informative and weekly email called 5-Bullet Friday from the very well known Tim Ferriss. You can find him and it via https://tim.blog/ or else on Twitter via @tferriss and #5BulletFriday.

I was reading one of these the other day – a Friday obviously, but I can’t remember which one – and in the ‘Quote I’m Pondering’ feature were the following words by a Thomas Merton, whom wikipedia describes as ‘an American Catholic writer, theologian and mystic. The words resonated with me and I repeat them here:

“There is a pervasive form of contemporary violence ….
(and that is) activism and overwork. The rush and pressure
of modern life are a form, perhaps the most common form,
of its innate violence.

To allow oneself to be carried away by a multitude of
conflicting concerns, to surrender to too many demands,
to commit oneself to too many projects, to want to help everyone
in everything, is to succumb to violence.

The frenzy of our activism neutralizes our work for peace.
It destroys our own inner capacity for peace. It destroys the
fruitfulness of our own work, because it kills the root of
inner wisdom which makes work fruitful.”

What I like about the quote is that as a commentary on modern life it could have been written yesterday, when in fact it dates to at least half a century ago, since Mr Merton died in 1968.

In our headlong rush to get stuff done – and I’m as guilty as the next person, not just because I prefer to have lots of small things on the go rather than one massive thing – we become one of these people who ‘try to do too much’ and we diminish the good we do, not increase it. Was true, still is true, probably will be too.

 

 

To wear the trousers: to be in charge, to be the one making the decisions…

Is this sexist, or at best chauvinist? Probably both. Apparently the phrase originates from the convention that men always used to wear trousers, whereas women always used to wear skirts or dresses, and the trouser-wearing man made the decisions. These days you’ll still hear variations on: ‘Yeah, Paul does talk a lot but it’s wife you need to talk to. She wears the trousers in that relationship.’

I assumed, wrongly as I’m sure you’re thinking, that the phrase originated in the fact that the male adult wore trousers and the male child wore shorts, so it was the senior person who wore the responsibility-laden garments. The parents are in charge, and supposedly one parent in a two-parent family is more in charge than the other.

How far are we from this scenario: ‘Yeah, it looks like his wife is in charge but it’s Paul who wears the skirt in that relationship.’

I know, there’s 3 ways to think about that conundrum: the sexism, the sartorial aspect and my ability to be in charge of anything…

 

 

In this second post of a 3-post series on ‘musings on holiday stuff I come into contact with’, I wanted to talk about water.

When we’re at home we try and get the kids into the habit of having a quick shower, no more than 4 or 5 minutes if possible. It’s not only good practice for when Ireland finally gets its act together in terms of water metering, but it’s good for us and future planetary inhabitants too.

We were on holiday recently, in the warm-all-year-round canaries. It’s always a pleasant surprise to come out of the shower into into a naturally warm environment. The first day or two I was tempted to have a long luxurious shower. After all, there’s loads of water around here. We’re surrounded by an ocean of the stuff, I was thinking.

Of course, this is stupid, selfish thinking. As the Rhyme of the Ancient Mariner goes, ‘water, water everywhere, and not a drop to drink.’ The island still has to treat all that sea water to turn into the water that comes out of our taps and shower heads and flows into our pools. They’re as keen on conserving water as any other country, probably more so.

So I kept my showers down to the minimum time, having had a word with myself. Water is a precious resource, so conserving it – even for a business like a hotel, with lawns, plants and flowers to keep looking good – makes sense whatever your circumstances.

In 1990’s Scotland there was a great series of TV adverts designed to reinforce our recall of the Tennent’s lager brand by judicious use of words ending in their big red capital T. Younger readers may also be familiar with the summer festival T in the Park, which does exactly the same thing.

Anyway, these ads featured the pouring of half of a glass of Tennent’s in front of someone, who either laughed with joy or cried with sadness, depending on whether they were an glass-half-full optimisT or a glass-half-empty pessimisT.

These days we’re under increasing pressure – perhaps it’s our gradual Americanisation – to be incorrigibly upbeat and optimistic about everything. Our positive outlook alone will affect the outcome. It’s the positive spin we put on life and especially in marketing. This is true in parts. I’ve always described myself as a realist, occupying the halfway house, a hope-for-the-best-plan-for-the-worst space in between the two characteristics.

The other day I was chatting to my son who can sometimes be sweepingly downbeat in that glum teenagerish way. I told him he was sounding like a pessimist. ‘I’m not a pessimist Dad,’ he countered, ‘I’m a non-delusional realist.’

Which opens up a whole new can of worms. Is that the same thing as a pessimist, or is it a qualification of a realist, or is it suggesting there are many shades on the pessimist-optimist spectrum, or many grades to the axis?

I know, thinking too much…

My Eddie Bauer bag

My Eddie Bauer bag

What a pity is was that Eddie Bauer went bust. When was it, maybe 2009 or so?

I was in the US on business about a decade ago and bought a really warm down coat. While I was there I saw a laptop-holding travel bag that I’d been looking for for ages. It had an extra section that turned it from an overnight bag into something you could use for 3 or 4 nights, perfect for those short-ish business trips. For some reason, this kind of bag with the extra section and the extra 15 litres or so of capacity is really hard to find.

I spend a lot of time in the software industry and this bag fits right in. There must be 30 pockets in there, of all shapes, sizes and uses. The laptop section is very snug for devices of all sizes.

This bag accompanies me on almost every journey I make when I need to bring a laptop, and most even when I don’t. It always fits in the airplane overhead bins, and I never get asked to check it in, even when it’s full to bursting.

A treasure of a piece of travel luggage. I don’t know what I’ll do when I have to replace it.

Wooden Labyrinth

Wooden Labyrinth

Anyone remember this game from yesteryear? We were obsessed with it when we were kids, a hundred years ago in the pre-pre-pre-internet era of proper games and slot fruit machines.

It’s a fine test of hand-eye co-ordination, with 2 levers and an ingenious bit of engineering that allow you to tilt the floor in myriad ways to manoeuvre the ball around the holes, staying close to the black line until the finish.

Somehow, quite recently, a 21st century version of it – well it might as well be a 20th century version –  appeared in the Dilger household, a strange happening since our kids are not really in the demographic for it.

I’m hooked on it again, and have to allow myself only two tries at at time, when I’m making a coffee or otherwise taking a break. The simplicity enthrals me and the excitement levels are worryingly high.

I’ve only finished it once in the few weeks since its renaissance. Must give it a quick go now…

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…