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Have you ever wondered what a toddler can teach you?

It is true that you can teach a toddler a thing or two, or at least you can try. But the lessons you get from a toddler are priceless.

 

Here are some lessons, beyond the usual ‘sleep is priceless’ crap. It is true, though, that after having a kid, one starts wondering ‘what the heck was I doing with all the time i had before I had the kid’. But it is too late to wonder now, eh? :)

Lesson 1:  tantrums experience

Yea, yea, tantrums. Tons of literature, of course, everyone has their opinion on how to deal with them. Not a pretty sight at all. Right?

Well, wait a second. Look around your world and start counting the tantrums the grown-ups have. ‘I don’t want to do that’, ‘I don’t like this food’, ‘I am too tired’… in reality, the truth is, that grown-ups have not learned how to deal with tantrums, but have learned how to ignore them.

Well. This does not fly with a toddler. In a toddler tantrum situation you can’t ignore it – can’t really walk away, cant say ‘deal with it!’ and you can’t just do nothing. The only thing to remember is that you as a grown up have 20 – 30 more years of experience of throwing tantrums than your toddler. Good luck with that. Throwing a tantrum over a tantrum does not work. Repeat: does not work.

Lesson 2:  master of distraction

‘Oh, dear. You are playing with my phone. Oh look – a birdie! (gimme that thing NOW!)’.

Ha, good one. Mastering the art of coming up with distractions is crucial. Hundreds of times a day distractions will come handy. And sometimes they would wear off. So the set of distractions has to be carefully maintained, filtered, renewed.

But wait, this is not something you learn from a toddler. Distractions are a very common event in our lives. Whether it is us distracting ourselves from something important or unimportant, whether it is a distraction called to avoid another person’s opinion.. it is all there. Toddlers are probably a year away from mastering the art of distractions themselves.

Lesson 3: ‘do not trick the baby’, they say

Cheap trickery with babies is not always cheap. Let’s take this example of a toddler not wanting to eat. There you sit, with a spoon full of food – who knows what tasteless mush it is, anyway – and a toddler nodding their head in all directions. There are a few options, but you choose to find a way and shove the spoon in the toddler’s mouth somehow. Guess what’s next:

aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaapppppchoeeeewwwwwwww!

And the food flies around and sticks to everything. You laugh like a madman. The baby wins the battle.

 

Lesson 4:  poo smells, farts are a bliss

It is what it is: the essence of human nature. Some even say it’s the meaning of life. In reality, toddlers are honest about it.  There is nothing wrong with going around farting. For all I know, i have seen toddlers propelled by farts and this way crawling or walking faster because of them.

Farts are fun, but every funny thing has to come to some grand finale. Poo smells. I wonder why does it have to. Wouldn’t it have been so much better if it could smell nice, or if it could be used as a fuel to take your car to work and back? But no, instead, it has to be a pile of useless crap. I protest! (And, for the record, i didn’t learn this from a toddler either. Mine smells way worse, but that is a whole different story.)

Lesson 5: if you didn’t know what that button does

It turns out that electronics have much more functionality than expected (probably more than even mentioned in the manual), and toddlers are there to show you. Every once in a while i find myself slapping myself on the forehead and saying ‘ha, i didn’t know this button turns on this feature of my tv! Nice!’. Or the phone. Or the washing machine.

Quite useful, really. Listen to the toddler. They may not be able to talk, but will certainly show you the way forward.

———————

Time to sleep now. Who has time for blogging…

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There are two main zones of influence in the world nowadays: government influence and charity influence.

The reality is bluntly obvious: we have government sponsored gun production  (if you can think of a country which does not produce guns and ammunitions, let me know), and on the other hand we have charity organizations which try to do good by collecting pennies off the streets and by pouring them into areas which need it.

Something here does not make sense. The governments (I am not only talking about US, it is pretty much any government) have almost unlimited access to tax payers money to invest into the war industry, and the return of investment is known to be quite big. It has been known for ages that war makes money and gives people something to do, so the money spins in a natural way. War gives an immediate profit; education takes time and gives a greater but delayed profit.

Charities, on the other hand, no matter how popular and powerful they are (and I am not talking only about Gates organization, it is pretty much any charity) have much smaller access to resources, compared to the governments.

So here is the clash of realities: one side pours huge funds into wars because they are profitable, the other side pours money into building infrastructure and educating people in war zones because they present it as to be the right thing to do.

One of the rules of contemporary economy is that in order for something to happen, all that is need are resources in the hands of someone who thinks it is extremely profitable to them.

And there you have it: as long as all the conflict points are profitable, they will remain conflict points; regardless of how much money the charities pour into the same conflict points to make them more livable.

Think of it this way: you have a broken sewage pipe and bacteria thrives on all the crap that leaks out (the bacteria has unlimited resources to thrive). You can pour a lot of money to install an air filtering system, a ground cleaning system, and this is all good but does not fix the sewage leak at all: it just gives the impression to release the pressure of the bacteria and the smell, but as long as the leaking pipe is not fixed, there will still be thriving bacteria. You get the idea.

This is why charities are fairly useless: charities work on the ability of people to show empathy and donate funds. (At least these charities are not mandatory.) People donate and the money gets poured in a black hole and at the end of the black hole there are the mandatory charities – the governments, to which we contribute whether we want it or not – and our mandatory contributions are partially used to fuel the war industry.

And the more empathy there is, the more money pours. The more money pours, the more there is to destroy.

Why are the war zones still a war zones? Because no one who has enough funds thinks it would be more profitable for them to be the opposite. (The wars at least feed entire states and countries… )

 

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I had never won a sports medal in my life. Until yesterday.

I was just curious how it would feel to win a medal. A wile back I found the perfect event: Kistaloppet. On their site they announced that it is the 5th year jubilee, and they were giving Fat Medals and a goodie bag.

More importantly, they announced that they wait indefinitely for people to finish the race. Good deal, it seemed.

I am about 100 kg, so taking my time is kinda my thing. Then again, doing things by myself didn’t seem to offer that much fun, so I asked a friend of mine to join as well. He is about 200 kg, and he likes to take his time as well. Luckily for us, a another friend joined. A trained runner, Miss Q.

So, the day of the event comes, and we meet at the food court of the local mall where the race would start. We sit at the local Chinese joint and they sip on noodle soup, and I take some Pad Thai.

The race starts and we decide to run at least across the start line.

And then people start applauding. I realize that we are into something special.

After the start race, the route goes about 1 km around the block, and then crosses the actual mall, and then goes through the city. Because of this, the mall is all marked by ribbons and the regular customers are having hard time jumping from shop to shop. Every one is waiting for the race participants to pass.

So, the moment we get to the mall, everyone starts applauding again, and the race security surrounds us to escort us. Of course, they were quickly taking off all the ribbons 1 meter after us, and this gave us the awesome feeling of something biblical and crucially important.

By this time Miss Q’s reason to refuse to register for the race was confirmed: she didn’t want to have a record of a very slow time, since she is a regular runner of such events.

For me personally wasn’t about the time, not about the winning. It was about the experience and about the Fat Medal.

And so far, in the first 20 minutes of the race, we had probably gotten more attention than the person heading the race. It felt nice and in a way great for the confidence.

We go out of the mall, and thus we freed the shoppers from the sticky tapes.

And then we continued. All kinds of people kept cheering us by saying ‘Keep going! Good job!’.

Miss Q was walking couple meters in front of us and keeping up the tempo. I guess we were good at keeping 5 km/h.

After 1 hour or so we had reached the 5km mark.

And then we continued. Next to some more trees, next to some farm. There was some wedding with a very loud PA system.

And then we got back to the urban area. At some point, a guy from the staff of the race saw us, picked up his phone and reported: “I saw them. They are OK. “.

This was a good sign – I guess we were expected at the finish line.

An hour later we arrived. The staff waited for us at the finish line! It was amazing. They had actually waited! There was a PA system waiting for us and our arrival was announced!

Of course, about 5 seconds after that, they started dismantling the PA system, since people have been patiently waiting to go home for a while, but nevertheless – it was an amazing gesture to wait for us.

The biggest winners.

Here is how we crossed the finish line, and the Fat Medals were waiting for us.

And this is how I won my first sports medal.

I am very thankful for all the support – I got much  more support than I thought I would get.

It means a lot to me.

 

image

I wonder if a pair of these can increase productivity…

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Today as we were sitting at a cafe I noticed that the cashier’s work time was 100% utilized.

Coffee shops are funny places – you never know when a customer will come, how many will come and sometimes it so happens that out of 10 people visiting only 1 will order a drink, and sometimes there will be one person ordering 20 drinks for the colleagues at the office.

Anyhow, the cashier today had a huge ink stamp and they were using it to print the coffee shop’s logo and information on the paper coffee cups.

So, I guess the business decision is clear: save money on the printed coffee cups – after all they cost some 20 to 30% of the cost of the final product, and I guess if they are blank, they cost less, maybe 10 to 15% less.

And I guess it makes sense on some level to order the cheaper blank paper cups and have the employees print the logos in their ‘spare time’.

This way the employees are busy 100%, the printing of the cups is not critical. I guess there is a risk that maybe too many customers will come at a time and the cafe will run out of printed mugs, but this is not that big of a problem.

This story amazed me because it actually is a great example of active cost-cutting and work force utilization.

Good job.

(What is the emoticon for sarcasm?)

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IMG_0457Pics2_I guess the birds also get tired of flying and sometimes they decide to just climb the stairs as people do.

I wonder what they would do if they get tired of climbing the stairs – take the elevator probably?!

 

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Here are some things I would like to do before I kick the bucket (you know).

  1. plant a tree
  2. install a birdfeeder
  3. arrange and record 10 Beatles songs as jazz songs (you know, so they don’t sound as sappy as they do when performed by the Beatles)
  4. sing in front of a small audience (not karaoke)
  5. write a book about data and databases
  6. take the MCM exam (the Microsoft Master program for SQL Server certification)
  7. write a fiction book
  8. travel on a spaceship around the moon
  9. take pictures of a summer and winter sports events
  10. learn another language
  11. buy a house and get an0ther cat
  12. what else?
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This is an open letter which is to be addressed to the Danish TV2 channel, the Danish Queen and the Danish population. Well, I am sure the rest of the world can learn something from it too:

Dear leaders and country folk,

I am sending you this letter because recently I was unpleasantly shocked and disappointed by the plain public exhibition of racism and the inability to deal with problems of this sort in Denmark.

Let me explain: recently I saw reportage on TV2 News channel warning about the growing tendency of Danish cities to turn into ghettoes.

To state the obvious, this is no news. Every country nowadays is dealing with the same problem more or less. After all, we live in a ‘globalized’ world where the economy and the well-being of a country are dependent on migration and constant increase of the population count (to sustain consumption and the welfare system), as well solving the consequences of it in a timely manner – but this is a whole different topic.

What was shocking, actually, was the elaboration on the definition of a ‘ghetto’. Here is a picture of the definition, according to the TV2 News channel:

So, what outlines a ghetto is (according to the author of this reportage):

An area with population over 1000 with at least 2 out of the following 3 criteria:

  • Mere end 50% beboere fra ikke vestlige lande – more than 50% of the population is from non-western countries
  • Mere end 40% 18-64-årige ikke i arbejde / uddanelse – more than 40% of the population between 18 and 64 is unemployed or uneducated
  • Mere end 270 dömte kriminelle pr. 10,000 beboere – more than 270 convicted criminals per 10,000 inhabitants

Can you tell already why this seems to be a racist and a socially clumsy statement?

In the eyes of the author of this definition of ‘ghetto’ there is a clear distinction of western and non-western countries.

What is disturbing, however, is that if you have a city populated by ‘non-westerners’, the city is already half-way on the path to being a ghetto – by default. To get there, all you need is some crime OR unemployment / lack of education.

On the other hand, a city which has only westerners as inhabitants has a much longer way to go to become a ghetto – has to have crime AND unemployment / lack of education.

So, the logic dictates in this case that westerners are superior and more advanced as opposed to non-westerners.

Just out of curiosity, where do you draw the line of distinction between westerners and non-westerners? Do you rely on the antique iron curtain definition? Or are you talking about the Orient vs. the rest of Europe? (And since we have established already that the Earth is round, this gives us the perspective that if we go West for long enough, we will eventually get to the East. Right?)

Don’t get me wrong, but I will strongly recommend refining your definitions of direction: after all, in the past decade Eastern / Southern Europe has been catching up in its development with Western Europe. The gap between Eastern and Western countries was much bigger a decade ago, compared to present times. And Denmark is not an exception, I am afraid: the difference between the Danish villages and the south-east European villages is becoming more and more insignificant by the hour.

Let’s have another look at the criteria, however: what exactly makes the first point (‘more than 50% of the population is from non-western countries’) to become part of the criteria? Is it the worry that the non-western citizens are (usually) unemployed, uneducated or crime-inclined? Apparently not, since these faults are covered in the other two points.

Is it the worry that the non-westerners come from a different cultural (and maybe even religious?) background? And specifically the worry that this background does not fit in any way with the idea of a pure cultural and racial entity?

Well, if the latter is the case, then I must admit that Denmark smells like the early 1940s. (And as we all know, that story did not particularly go very well).

And finally, let me make a point here: I would suggest that you look at the statistics of the recent years and find out how much in tax money is contributed by non-westerners per year. Then look carefully into what would happen if this money was not coming in, and what the price of a single pizza would be if there were no non-westerners around.

I am a non-westerner myself, living in Northern Europe, and I am confident that I work harder than the average western folk; not by habit, but just because I have no other choice and no one else to rely on. And I pay as much taxes as the average westerner. And, not coincidentally, it seems that I tend to appreciate the Nordic environment much better than the average western folk.

So, by my own criteria, I consider myself a westerner (regardless of my ‘non-western’ sounding name and ‘non-western’ culture).

As a final suggestion, let me say that it would be a smart strategy for the future to reconsider this criteria sooner rather than later, and to start seeing the non-westerners as what they actually are – a valuable part of the country’s economy, instead of a constant source of problems.

It is hard to imagine that publicly distributing racist criteria like the one mentioned above will bring any positive results in an already shaky society.

Think about it.

Yours sincerely,

Someone who cares

 

 

 

 

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After sending a long letter to Cal Newport, which I made public here, he replied quickly – and shortly – by sending the following:

These are interesting thoughts. I think you are absolutely right to note that underlying perceptions and cultural attitudes play a huge role in the way we approach work satisfaction (a much bigger role than many assume).

Yep. And that’s it. After I obviously sweated for hours to write to him; after all the struggles I went through to bring a bit more light into his daily thoughts, into his art, into his fame… and all I get is two sentences and one set of parenthesis?!

Hm, well, I hope he is not feeling too warm after reading my second letter, in reply to his 2 sentences and a set of parenthesis…

Here is the reply:

 

Dear Cal,

Your short-spoken answer makes me have a feeling that for one reason or another, the point I was trying to make flew over you head like a whooshing spoiled tomato.

What I was trying to say in my previous email in so many words is that I think you have gotten wrong the entire concept of attitude towards work.

In your book you have merely documented the current state of growth of our work culture, and as I tried to say, it is not guaranteed that this is the right approach.

Furthermore, since a book like yours, which is well marketed, tends to ring bells to many people, I am confident that an author should be responsible for the echoes of his work.

What I am suggesting here, in a completely reasonable tone, is that you write another book, which explains how work should not feel like work and how to cultivate ingenuity, creativity and how to enjoy success, and how to deal with failure.

Please take 15 minutes of your busy day, and think about this. You as an author are personally responsible for the trains of thoughts and the development of thousands of readers, and this is a heavy responsibility.

Read my previous email, and try hard to read between the lines. Get out of the ordinary, and consider writing a better book.

All the best.

F.

 

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This is in reply to the ‘Why ‘follow your passion’ is bad advice’.

Dear Cal,

I recently noticed your site and your ideas stuck to me like a water lily leaf after summer jump in the pond.

I am not completely familiar with your work, but from what I have read so far, I’m getting the impression that there is something very gracious and primitive at the same time.

Let me explain.

There is nothing wrong with gracious, nor with primitive: both are merely a representation of the current state of our mentality as individuals and as a group, and there is nothing better to do than to start looking for ways of improving.

‘Job’ is a funny word. It defines (for most people) the boundaries of survival or in some cases even the comfort of living. And as an addition to the word ‘job’, we are taught to think that there is always the opposite: play, relaxation, fun, whatever we want to call it.

You see how this is flawed, right?

I grew up in Eastern Europe, and as flawed as the environment there was/is, I must say that it taught me a great deal about perception angles and considerations. Later on this Eastern European context helped me to better appreciate the western world and its quirks.

The fact that we were taught since birth that ‘there is time for work and there is time for play’ did not really help to develop myself as a great professional as fast as I could. The distinction itself is flawed, and by basic instincts we consider one as fun/pleasant/desired and the other as not-so-much-fun/pleasant/desired. (the choice is left to us, so this is how we mostly end up with having either suicidal workaholics or with bummed-out lazy people; the only thing in common is their lack of imagination, of course, in either case )

My personal solution at the time (my school years) was to say ‘yep, there is time for questioning’. And I refused to go by the classification ‘either work or play’.

I was questioning teachers, parents, and everything that was to be questioned: even my toys were questioned by being disassembled and assembled again. :) (Some teachers preferred me to be exempt than for them to be questioned, which freed plenty of time for me anyway, which I filled with what I considered fun at the time – reading books, talking to strangers and of course, drinking coffee at the age of 14.)

Once again: the distinction of work vs. play is flawed, because it immediately alters our attitude towards one vs. the other.

And this is how we get into trivial problems like ‘why do I not like my job’, ‘where is my motivation’, ‘am I or am I not the best at my work’ and so on.

Nowadays I do not consider my work as a job. Yes, I am on a payroll at one of the biggest companies in the country, and yes, I do consider myself successful, but I do not see it as a job. I see it more like something that it would be a pity if I didn’t do.

I wake up in the morning and I realize that I have 18 hours to go, which I fill in with interesting things: ideas which I want to implement, self-improvement, broadening the horizons and so on. Again, I do not see it as a job, I see it as a play and endless set of opportunities to get satisfaction by improving at anything I do.

See, I did have a JOB when I was in college; I was working at a coffee shop and there was nothing exciting about it. From my point of view that was JUST a JOB, no prospects and just a necessity in order to survive. And despite the overabundance of free bagels, I knew that I can do better and that I can find a way to NOT FEEL LIKE I AM WORKING.

What I am suggesting is, that  instead of looking into ways to like our job, or even to get along with it, we should reconsider the entire work philosophy.

I am not saying it is easy, or even possible. In the current state of the development of the humanity (and the current state of the economical rules) there is a severe need of someone somewhere doing their menial work in order for us to get our coffee and a bagel in the morning.

I am just saying that it is about time to stop distinguishing actively between work and not-work.

Hence, the question of ‘following or not following passions and how exactly to do it’ will be deemed unnecessary as soon as we stop making the distinction between work and fun.

 

I am on the opinion that your writings (as far as I am familiar with them) are, at best, just a representation of the current primitive state of perceiving the surrounding world, and not really suggesting any long term solutions.

Correct me if I am wrong.

I just think that we should not aim at ‘loving what we do for a living’, but instead we should go a step further and ‘love the way we are living’, otherwise it just feels like a lot of hard work. Which, on it’s turn, leads to disappointments if it does not pay off eventually.

Think about it.

Once again, please do not take this as an attack towards your work, nor as a personal attack towards yourself. I am sure that someone somewhere is really glad about finding your work useful.

All I am suggesting is that, in my very humble opinion, we need to change an entire perception in order to be more successful as individuals and as a society.

Good luck with that.

If you have comments, send me a message from here.

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