Category Archives: Projects

Tpyos

I have a problem with spelling.

It’s a bit like anti-dyslexia. I’ve seen friends stare at a page of text, totally unable to see the glaring errors in front of them. I don’t have that. I get the opposite.

When I look at a page of text, errors jump out at me. They’re distracting. I’m not trying to proofread, not trying to find problems. It’s them. They find me.

Of course, I’m as vulnerable as anyone else when it comes to text I’ve written. It’s hard to proofread your own stuff.

But it’s bad enough that I find it a problem to read on the Kindle. As soon as I see an error, I’m pulled out of the book. The carefully constructed fantasy world is jerked out from under me. I want to feed back to the publisher, so I think about how I could do that. I can’t.

I’ve taken to just highlighting the word. Then I move on. For the rest of the chapter, I’m not reading, I’m just checking words for errors. The next chapter, I can start reading again. But I’m not back into the fantasy world for another three chapters or so.

So I bought this book recently, written by an ex-colleague. It’s good – it’s really good. I want to write back and say I love how he sets the scene, how he builds his characters through their actions rather than simply describing what they’re wearing. How he doesn’t fall for the new-author fate of rewriting the first three chapters straight from a thesaurus, just to appear intelligent; but at the same time, I love the simple choice of words. “Raucous chowder” is a wonderful way to describe Fisherman’s Wharf.

I’d say this, and more, but I wouldn’t be able to say it without adding the soul-destroying “but”. He doesn’t want to hear the “but”. Nobody cares about the “but”.

But there’s a rogue “if” instead of “it” in paragraph eight. And it’s killing me.

And nobody needs to know that.

So maybe I’ll just be quiet.

Favourites

Matt Knox asked me this over breakfast the other day,
“What’s your favourite thing about being a dad?”

My brain spun. I didn’t have an answer. I think I fluffed a reply with something like “it’s not something you have favourites for, it’s something you live for.”

Yeah, that’s a bit lame. But it’s a tough question. I could’ve easily worked out a top-ten list of the things I didn’t like doing. Like emptying a potty. Ever tried that? Not pleasant. Not fun at all.* But favourite? No, too hard.

Anyway, I thought about it later.

What’s best about being a dad is being married.

Yes, of course, there’s all sorts of heart-warming moments with the baby. The arrival. The first smile. In fact, every smile. Talking, walking, crawling, holding. Just being able to hold and cuddle. Seeing parts of you. It’s a reason to live.

All that is granted.

But I couldn’t do this alone. I couldn’t manage. I’m shattered just feeding at nights and doing two playgrounds in a weekend.

Knowing that I have a soulmate to entrust with the little one’s upbringing is everything.

And actually, getting married is excellent preparation for having a baby. The stress, the organisation, the planning; coordinating relatives; coordinating jobs. It you can get through that together, you’re well prepared for the shock of having a baby.

Mind you though, what I miss most is: being married.

I miss whiling away the weekends doing nothing. I miss snuggling up on the sofa watching TV late into the night. I miss the lazy Sunday mornings in bed.

For now, for us, those times are gone. We’re in bed by ten at the latest, too tired to talk much. We don’t watch TV for fear of waking the sleeping one. Besides, it’s too much noise for us.

I miss my wife. I love my wife. I depend on my wife. Every day.


* Top ten worst things:
– emptying the potty
– lack of sleep
– dealing with escaped poo
– waking baby
– lack of sleep
– fear of the future
– lack of sleep
– lack of social life
– lack of sleep
– lack of sleep

Icebreaker

This was my first ToastMasters speech at Twitter. I ran over time a bit – I took 20 seconds over my limit of 7 minutes, and would’ve liked to have gone on a bit longer. I ad-libbed a fair bit. It was good fun. Not sure what to talk about for the next one.

Hello.

This is my icebreaker, so I get the chance to introduce myself.

My name is Kenneth Kufluk. I am one hundred and five years old, and Dick Costolo hasn’t spoken to me in six months.

But let me start with the name…

My surname is Kufluk, something I’ve always had trouble with. It’s unusual, even in Poland, where it came from. At school I’d get endless taunts of “toughluck kufluk”, and all sorts of mispronounciations.
One person says “Kufluk”, the next says “Kuflux”, the next says “Kooflux”.
For five years of high school, I had half the school laughing at me for being called “Cuthbert”.
But it’s Kufluk. It’s always been Kufluk.

Or so I thought.
Last year I published by Grandparent’s memoirs, and right there, buried in his stories of soviet invasion, cattle trucks and labour camps, and all the horrors of those times, he says that it was originally pronounced “Kooflook”. So now we know. I still prefer Kufluk, but I’m more relaxed about it now.

There’s nothing relaxed about my first name. It’s Kenneth. Nobody calls me Ken. Or at least, not twice.

I’ve been Kenneth my whole life, from when I was born until my 105th birthday this year.

Now I know what you’re thinking. 105? Is that his real hair? What’s his secret?
Well, yes, the hair is real. But there’s a story.

About six years ago I was a different man. Young, full of energy.
I’d been round the world twice.
I’d played in unicycle hockey world championships in japan, china and switzerland.
I’d sprint any distance.
I’d be out every night at the bar, picking up … well, picking up pints of beer, if I’m honest.
I’d actually been described as “a coiled spring”.

And then one summer, I found myself waking up at night with pain in my legs. I’d just walk it off and go back to bed. I assumed it was too much running.
But then it got worse.
Before long, a three block walk to the shops felt like miles. I’d come home and lie face-down on the bed, not asleep, but just exhausted.
No more running.
I’d find myself stopping on the way home from work, unable to go any further, but unable to think of any other way to get home.
This was chronic fatigue, something my “pull yourself together” upbringing had never really believed in.

Life got really hard.
I cancelled my first marathon, gave up on buying a house, and postponed my part-time degree.
But I still went to work.

And that was difficult too – not for exhaustion, but the constant questions “what did you do last night”, “how was your weekend”. I was face-down in bed at home, thanks for asking.

Little by little, month by month, I got better.
I learned to push through it.
Sometimes it got worse again, but overall I improved.

By the following year, I could get around.
I found that running was somehow easier than walking, and much easier than standing around.
So I entered the marathon again.

It was 26 miles of hard work. But I used what I’d learned – that you can push through exhaustion.
And I finished.
And I bought that house, finished that degree, and even proposed to my girlfriend.
But somewhere I’d still lost about a third of my life.

Five years on, and I’m cured. I still don’t like standing up for long stretches, or walking a long way. It’s like someone has turned up the gravity.
Some days are better than others. But I’m ok.
I’d say it’s made me feel about five years older.

Which, ok, only makes me about 40.
The real reason I feel 105 is because I have a six month old baby, which means I haven’t slept properly for, oh, about a year.

And why hasn’t Dick spoken to me?
Well, maybe it’s because I named my baby [REACTED].

Or maybe it’s because we’ve never actually really met.
One of those. I’ll never be sure.

The whole shebang

My colleagues have been amicably bickering, online and offline, about the use of hashbangs.

Ben Cherry explains that HashBangs are necessary, though not pretty, temporary workarounds to the lack of pushState support, which is part of the HTML5 spec.
http://www.adequatelygood.com/2011/2/Thoughts-on-the-Hashbang

Dan Webb explains that this temporary workaround goes against the fundamental rule that “cool URIs don’t change”, and that they are bad for the web in general.
http://danwebb.net/2011/5/28/it-is-about-the-hashbangs

When we discuss this sort of thing, we’re talking about the web in general, not about any Twitter pages, URLs, sites or strategy. Our personal sites are for personal opinions. Continue reading The whole shebang

Nobody has wished me a Merry Christmas

In a land of excesses and enthusiasm, of Macy’s and Hollywood, we expected Christmas to be something of a big deal.

We can hardly expect to celebrate with our usual joie de vivre, pulling crackers over a wobbly napkin-strewn table waiting for plates filled with myriad festive stodge, hot and cold, while our family plays the tradition games of ‘who can have the loudest conversation’.

Alas, we are stuck away from home and cannot partake. I am disappointment incarnate. Continue reading Nobody has wished me a Merry Christmas