Reflecting back on the last 30 years (I’m 30)

30 years ago today, aside from the first ever episode of the most popular British soap Eastenders airing, I was born.

I absolutely couldn’t care less that I’m 30. I haven’t been dreading this day, nor do I attribute any sort of aging to it, any more so than any other day. However, a “n0” birthday is a milestone that only comes along once a decade so it seems like a perfect time for some reflection.

The last 10 years

Since February 2010 (the last 5 years), quite a number of things have changed in my life. I became a professional engineer, I became a father, I have another child on the way, I started my own business which is now thriving and I moved house 3 times.

In the last 10 years, even more has changed. In February 2005, I was in my second year at university, was single, living with my Mum in the UK and I was working for the NHS. Over the next 5 years, I would meet and fall in love with Marti, graduate from university, become a Christian, move to the States to be with her, get married 60 days later, battle 8 months of being unable to work before getting my green card, a job, my driver’s license, a car and our first apartment in the space of about 4 weeks.

Reflection on who I am

Me in December 2005 - the first time I ever visited Marti
Me in a decidedly emo pose in December 2005 – the first time I ever visited Marti

As I think about the man I am today, where I’ve come from and the boy I used to be, I’ve noticed quite a few specific observations about how I’ve changed in particular and more general observations about how we as humans mature (or don’t).

The first thing is that nothing is given. Not only is nothing guaranteed but you’ll change in ways and do things that you would have never believed, conceived or thought possible. Continue reading Reflecting back on the last 30 years (I’m 30)

A Valentine’s Day gift from Ellie

This Valentine’s Day, I got a special present from Ellie. She gave me a little token to go on my keys. It reads:

You will always be the first man I ever loved. – Ellie.

I love it and I have to give props to Marti Ellie for being so thoughtful and getting this for me. It’ll live proudly on my keys. Continue reading A Valentine’s Day gift from Ellie

Thug Kitchen Cookbook

If you’re not familiar with Thug Kitchen, I first wrote about them about 18 months ago.

They’re a pro-vegan blog that doesn’t take any bullshit. They don’t mince their words and their vulgar and tough-guy approach to telling it how it is resonates with a huge swathe of people that think that eating vegan is for hippies.

We’ve been laughing along and cooking along with them ever since we heard about them and when they said they were writing a cookbook, we were quite excited. Continue reading Thug Kitchen Cookbook

Convenience vegan

I’m coining a new term to describe my attitude towards vegetarianism and veganism: convenience vegan.

I agree that eating a vegan diet, rich in whole foods is one of the best and most sensible things you can do for your health. I started my journey towards being a vegan when my wife became vegan 4 or 5 years ago. Since she was eating vegan, I was pretty much going to have to start eating vegan, at least for home-cooked meals.

Once we started cooking vegan, it became apparent that it wasn’t as boring or burdensome as one might expect, especially when there are such great transition products as Gardein.

Going completely vegan has always been hard for me though if for no other reason than that as a result of my job, I am often in some fairly remote places where it is not easy to come by a vegan meal, so in such situations I’ll “allow” myself to have a vegetarian meal because there’s no other sensible alternative. I’m not opposed to this because, whereas my wife and children are “ethical vegans”, I am more of a “dietary vegan” and so giving me the leeway to have a 99% vegan diet is still a huge win for me, for the animals and for the environment.

And this is what a “convenience vegan” means to me. Where it’s possible and not overly burdensome to do so, I will eat vegan. Where getting a vegan meal either means driving 20 miles to the nearest Taco Bell for a plain bean burrito or finding the nearest field and grazing, I will give myself a break and go for the much-more-available vegetarian option.

The mathematics of love

One of the more engaging and humourous TED talks to come across my podcast library lately was Hannah Fry’s “The mathematics of love”.

In this talk, she uses mathematical theories to dispel some common myths around finding love and maintaining a happy, healthy relationship and gives scientifically-proven methods for increasing your chances at finding a suitable mate.

If you have ever marginally considered yourself a geek or a nerd, then this talk will entertain you and perhaps even teach you a thing or two. Continue reading The mathematics of love

Ricardo Semler’s take on corporate democracy

Ricardo Semler, the former CEO of a large Brazilian company took a dramatic new approach to employment, education and living that rewards wisdom and improves work-life balance.

For example, at his company, employees do not report their vacation days and if they meet their quotas, they’re encouraged to go to the beach instead of working the rest of the week.

Dollar Shave Club epitomises the power of marketing

Ever since I first saw Dollar Shave Club’s first ad, I was in love. Their marketing is genius. I was so in love with their ad that they really got my attention and made me wonder what their service was about, building on the introduction that they gave in the video.

Had I just seen the name “Dollar Shave Club” online, I almost certainly would have ignored it and passed on it, but DSC’s branding genius used the power of humour and social media to deliver their message.

The video above has been viewed over 18 million times and their follow-up, about their “One Wipe Charlies” has been seen nearly 3 million times and is equally representative of how powerful their brand is. Continue reading Dollar Shave Club epitomises the power of marketing

Chaise longue

Alright ‘Murica. I’ve got a bone to pick with you.

Chaise longue.

Take a look at that phrase. Very closely.

First of all, the first word is French for chair. That should be a hint that the second word may also be French.

Take a look at where the U is. Most notably, it is not between the O and the N. That is where it would be if it said “lounge”. However, it is between the G and the E. That’s because it’s the feminine form of the French word for long.

As in “long chair”.

So please, stop calling it a “shays lounge”. It’s a “shez long”.

Focus in conversations

I think there’s been a great loss in the standard of conversation in recent years. As our attention span has been desecrated by the advent of “have it now” and “have it all”, I’ve noticed how people can’t concentrate during a conversation.

All too frequently now, conversation will jump around aimlessly. I was having a conversation the other day with a colleague who asked me a question, which I started to answer. Something in my response caused him to think of something else which he instantly blurted out. Either his attention is so poor that his brain couldn’t trust him to hold on to that thought until I was done with what I was saying, or he was never especially interested in the conversation to begin with that he didn’t want to hear what I had to say and just wanted to drive the conversation where he wanted or hear his own voice.

Either way, the ability to focus on one thing is greatly dwindling, much to my chagrin. I’m frequently having to refocus people who wander on tangents by repeating the last thing they said that was actually on topic so that they can proceed with what they were originally saying. This “shiny thing syndrome” is awfully frustrating and also quite rude.

The coolest and most unique t-shirts courtesy of Cotton Bureau

Are you bored of wearing the same old crappy t-shirts? You know, the ones that you got free at some fun run or the ones with hilarious jokes on them.

It’s time for your wardrobe to grow up without getting less comfy or more formal.

Cotton Bureau is a nice little website that has been around for about 18 months now. They invite designers to submit high-quality designs. Users pledge to buy the ones they want and if the t-shirt gets more than 12 sales within 2 weeks, it goes to print. If it doesn’t, no one pays a penny and you find your next favourite design instead.

This is great for a few reasons:

  • The designs are available for a limited period and usually only sell 12-30 items. As such, you know that you’re getting a really unique piece of clothing. Furthermore, once it’s sold, no one can get the same shirt as you. How’s that for unique?
  • You’re supporting designers: Cotton Bureau lets the designer set their own price and gives them a cut of each sale.
  • You support several small indie businesses in the rust belt. Cotton Bureau is based in Pittsburgh, PA and uses a local print shop to print the shirts.

Continue reading The coolest and most unique t-shirts courtesy of Cotton Bureau