Weeknote, Sunday 17th April

A sunny bank holiday feels like such a pleasure after the winter. Our ancestors knew a thing or two about how to break from the bleakness of the cold. Although I’ve always preferred the cold to the warm (my northern roots showing) there’s definitely something about the spring which lightens the mood.

Every time there is a four day week it reminds me how uncivilised five day working weeks are. I never feel like I’ve had time to actually catch up on the rest which I don’t get around to having during the week when there’s only two days. And if I actually do anything on the two day weekend I’m exhausted. So thank the lord – literally in this case – for Bank Holidays.

Next week is even better: just the three days before we head to Oxford for a weekend.

I spent a little bit of time this week writing some notes for an article about the cult of productivity, inspired by am “AITA” post from a parent who talked about their child being “unproductive” for a long period of time. There’s a lot of productivity gurus out there, and the core advice they have is often decent, but all too often people either beat themselves up for “failing” to be productive, or forget to allow themselves time for things which just bring them joy and aren’t time-blocked, scheduled, turned into a project or worse.

Reading

Low-life: Irreverent reflections from the bottom of a glass by Jeffrey Bernard. Bernard falls into that category of “men who are a bit of a shit but life intriguing lives”. What’s interesting about him is the way that his writing manages to sidle away from the pub bore, despite very little ever happening to him down the Coach and Horses. Other than drinking himself to death of course.

Release the Bats: Writing your way out of it by DBC Pierre. Another fascinating character – I hope that reading both Bernard and Pierre at the same time doesn’t indicate some kind of impending mid-life crisis. Decamping to Mexico, buying a boat or spending the rest of my life drunk don’t feel like quite the right path.

Writing

The only things that I’ve written this week have been notes on articles which I might write – it has been dreadfully unproductive and I really do need to get back into the habit soon, before my brain atrophies.

Watching

Marvel’s Moonknight is alternately baffling and hilarious. I have only the vaguest idea what is going on. What’s interesting is how Marvel is using the TV series format to explore characters which are a little bit deeper and have more to them than the standard movie heroes. With the movies, you don’t have the benefit of time to explore the character: it needs to be straight into the action. TV offers more depth, which is ironic when you consider how often TV is seen as the lesser medium.

Meanwhile, on the Internet

You might have heard that some guy called Musk threatened to buy Twitter. When a man with a lot of money gets this jollies from shitposting, the world is a worse place no matter how many spaceships they build. And of course Marc Andreessen – a man who coded a browser 30 years ago and has been coasting on achievement ever since – is just as bad.

One of Pebble’s founders wrote a really nice insightful piece on why it failed. The important point for students of leadership: while he had a vision of where he wanted to go, he could never articulate it properly and never used it as a point of reference for what they were doing at the moment.

I’ve also been doing some reading of accounts of Steve Jobs’ return to Apple, and came across this excellent piece by Tim Bajarin. I remember the return for many reasons but one stands out: the announcement went out at about 4pm on 20th December 1996, which also happened to be my 30th birthday. Cue one evening where I didn’t get home in time to celebrate much. I also remember the following year’s Macworld Boston keynote which Tim refers to, where the giant face of Bill Gates appeared on screen and some in the audience booed. Jobs scolded the audience, saying that we needed to let go of this idea that in order for Apple to win, Microsoft had to lose.

I am very much looking to optimise my computer set up at the moment, so this post about an M1 Mac mini and iPad Pro caught the eye. My setup at the moment just feels wrong: I’m trying to do too much on too many devices and it’s confusing and causing me vague angst. I need to sell a load of equipment, bite the bullet and just buy a new Mac. Argh. The one thing that’s really stopping me is there are no Macs to buy: delivery dates for every single one of Apple’s machines apart from the 13in M1 MacBook Pro are backed up to the end of May, with some a lot longer than that.

Related: a great quote from James Clear: “”Look around your environment. Rather than seeing items as objects, see them as magnets for your attention. Each object gently pulls a certain amount of your attention toward it.”

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