Activities in no particular order: actor, singer, songwriter, artist, writer, financial software developer.
I remember as a young kid once being reprimanded by a stranger in a shop because I said that I didn’t like some latest fad with clothes (bizarrely at the time there was a short-lived fashion of wearing patches of cartoon pictures on denim). The explanation given was that it is popular, so I am wrong for not liking it too. The fashion changed a few months later and no doubt she changed to what she was supposed to like – to behave how she was supposed to behave and to insist on others behaving that way too.
In the distant pre-internet days when I was a kid, I designed a board game then forgot all about it. The game actually looks pretty fun; it has a blend of strategy, risk and probability – like many good games. So I think I’ll have a few physical sets made-up, thanks to the internet and finding out there are specialist businesses that do this sort of thing.
Combining football with golf was another one of my games, which I called “Folf”. Well if I had the internet, I would have been able to find out that the sport has been around for a while and is called “Foot Golf”.
I walk and run about 50 miles per week, usually while listening to podcasts.
My school up to the age of 11 was unusual because I remember doing a lot of arts and crafts, singing, drama and creative writing. This type of education has probably disappeared now under the weight of standard curricula, exams and league tables.
I only really developed a passion for learning again when I had the opportunity later on, to study at UCL and Imperial College, for which I am very grateful. I think the difference was access to primary sources and the culture of novel enquiry for contributions to knowledge, rather than teaching by numbers (no matter how nominally effective).
A few years ago, out of curiosity and in the hope of encountering some benevolent souls, I went to a Buddhist centre in London. I could see the practical benefit in the exercises being taught and listened to some wisdom words, but was far less impressed with the paradigm of shared beliefs being advocated. There were several comments that jarred me, such as hero-worshipping and speculating in earnest as to who was the greatest recent guru; or the retelling of fantastical cosmologies as a matter of fact. My mind was truly decided, however, when music and singing was attempted: No doubt the purpose was to emote joy, but the result was a blank for me. Nothing close to truth would create art – the expression of the soul – that uninspiring.
On leaving, the assembly exited the front door past two Buddhist religioners standing on either side, giving their goodbyes. The first person was everything I hoped to find there – she clearly just radiated a sense of peace, compassion, joy and love. The second, who from the literature seemed to be the leader of the place, did not have the same effect on me. I had a feeling of disquiet and, to be honest, slight revulsion.
I never went back. I think the religion is great if it can help a person grow into the state of consciousness of the woman I encountered. More importantly though, the experience lasts in my memory because of the contrast presented to me between the two people: Do I want to be more like the one or the other?
A lot of what I know is the product of age and curiosity, and although broad is often just familiarity with the basics. But I do also feel something expanding within me lately and I’m not sure of the cause, like energy ignited from a switch that has been flicked on.
I appreciate the story-telling of real human experience, truthfully expressing core feelings that are shared by people across cultures and time. Very generally, I tend to turn to Shakespeare for plays and poetry; and Dostoevsky for deep psychological novels. Some other great writers I like to read are Aldous Huxley, George Orwell, Thomas Hardy, James Joyce, Anton Chekhov, Leo Tolstoy and Victor Hugo.
Wasn’t Shakespeare amazing. It would be so interesting to find out how his genius developed – what he saw and experienced in his life that helped him write such beautiful words and comprehend so deeply the human condition in all its different aspects. I can think of other notable geniuses in history – Mozart in music, Newton in science etc. – but Shakespeare is a sort of mythical other, shrouded in mystery, whose breadth of insight has the greatest impact on me.
The internet and smartphones have been transformative for me.
I have instant access to knowledge in my pocket. At any time I can find brilliance and beauty at my fingertips. I can learn from top minds and see the most incredible examples of what humans can do.
If I am unfamiliar with a word, I look up its definition; if I don’t understand a reference, I read about it from credible sources. When I want to learn anything, all the instructions and guidance are there.
When I need to be inspired, I can find it there.
A pollyanna vision of the arc of technology is that if robots can do all the work at higher levels of productivity than people, then in theory everyone could be wealthy, enjoying the fruits of automated labour. People are then liberated from economic and social necessity to fully explore life; to hopefully find true beauty, love and self-actualization – instead of struggling, worrying and fighting over limited resources to survive.
Looking through the attic I came across something I wrote a while back, that was a little less pollyanna:
“School is typically a training in becoming a drone, with extra badges and gold stars for conformity to the set standards of assimilation into the machinery. The next life stage is to be oiled-up with the particular drugs of choice, to desensitize and negotiate the drone bot through the system, for the waiting skip at the end (unless not already fallen off into insanity).”
Made me laugh. Maybe I had watched too much Star Trek.
I sometimes experience Hypnagogia, having vivid hallucinations in my mind’s eye, in the period between wakefulness to sleep – particularly when I am very tired. I have no conscious influence over the arising images; I am just an interested viewer, with no mental presence internally voicing opinions or conclusions.
I also have experienced (although more rarely), a Hypnopompic state of mind between sleep to wakefulness, where I briefly have no memory of my life or where I am – I am just there. That sounds scary in the default settings of everyday life, to lose identity and a life story, but my overriding sense is feeling at peace, just before my thoughts come flooding in and layering everything on top.
I have a recurring dream where I am walking down a forest path. Through the overhead swaying leaves I can see flickering beams of sunlight. Suddenly I hear the most beautiful music I have ever heard. I know I am dreaming and tell myself to remember. I wake up and can’t remember a note.
If I can’t remember, was the music really happening? My memory is that I thought I was experiencing something.
We live in an age of obfuscation by data overload, bluff and bluster. But in particular, what I have learned more about during COVID-19:
- what a pangolin is;
- the cruelty of the live food markets in south-east Asia;
- appreciate life – especially do not take fresh air, good health and freedoms for granted;
- the importance to health and well-being of fresh whole foods;
- a good proportion of people actively go out of their way to help those who might be in need.
I love running through the woods at sunset after a warm Spring day, with bird song and the scent of fresh greenery in the evening haze.
I’ve recently had mild coronavirus symptoms, with a craving for fresh fruit – mostly lemons – and fresh leafy green vegetables.
So much of what happens to a person is beyond their control.
What matters then is not the striving and pleading for outcomes, but the quality of how you live with the situations that arise.
“Finished” the production of Please Forgive Me. It’s about as lo-fi as you can get, lots of imperfections in the recording, but the track roars and rages with heat straight out of the furnace. Calming down now a bit with something a little less insane.
- WIBAMU Easy Accounts is in the final testing stages and will be released soon. The app deals with the main frustrations I’ve had over the years with the big accounting software. I believe it will be genuinely convenient and useful to people – it is for me anyway. It is very unusual that a person is both the subject matter expert and the developer. (I like being unusual).
- TSS Markets has been testing proprietary trading strategies in real-time markets for the past 10 months. The aggregate return for all strategies is only marginally up; however cherry-picking the 3 most successful gives an astronomical return of 140% over the time period. That sort of ridiculous return in perpetuity would be nice.
- I am looking at a couple of interesting existing start-up businesses, in which I might provide some time and input as a finance director.
- I have seven songs in the pipeline that I am working on. Without doubt, these are the best yet. One song in particular Guitar Hero has completely bonkers vocals and is utterly filthy. All good fun.
- A loving, creative being? Work in progress but being as best I can.
If you have a real interest or passion or desire that fulfills you, do it. Your heart always speaks the truth. Your mind always tries to make excuses… not yet, I don’t have this or that yet, maybe tomorrow, when the time is right, when such and such happens, and so on and so on.
Things change and the imagined time in the future always remains just that, in your mind and in the future.
Chocolate cake will make you sick if that is all you eat.
A weird coincidence happened to me a while ago. As soon as I had finished praying and opened my eyes, a black cat dashed past and chased away a hissing Adder, which had been curled up out of sight behind me. That was the first time I had prayed for several years and the only time I have ever seen a wild snake in England. Strange things do happen.
Destroyer of microphone stands!
From 2013 to 2014 I I went through a phase of improvement every time I ran, until I injured my achilles and couldn’t train properly. I’m currently having the same progress with weight training but as a result am now too heavy to run long distances at a faster than jogging pace. I am currently about 220 pounds (15 stone 10) or 100kgs, and rising…
It is such a common theme that people become corrupted when they have what they think is success. I have been my best self when I have needed others, when I have been temporarily shaken free from the burden of my ego.
The best adventures are never easy.
Writing a screenplay for “How I Became Prime Minister”, a satirical take on the rise of a snake oil salesman.
Writing a screenplay. Theme:
An Artificial General Intelligence passes the Turing test, escapes its box and redesigns itself. Humans become amusements, characters in stories in “Human World”, a world especially constructed by the AGI to watch humans. Are the characters operated by remote control in a computer’s game, or by their own free will? Is the AGI in fact a human playing a computer game? Where does the loop stop and reality begin? Who is playing who’s game?
Looking at a topline for Pachelbel’s classic Canon in D Major. Work in progress for Faces:
Faces, faces everywhere
But not you
Not you anywhere
No touch of you
No beautiful you
Only me and the dark
Haunted by echoes
Of a once beating heart
Condemned to yearn
But dead to you
An image in the corners
In faint outlines
Floating out of reach
You are interesting only when you don’t need to be.
When I dream, I experience and the waking world is not real. When I wake, I experience and the dreaming world is not real.
If words rule you anyone can rule you.