Ferry time

24 hours on a ferry (from Santander to Portsmouth) can be a rewarding experience. Plenty of time to think and read especially when the Internet access is virtually non existent.

Roger mention the idea of ships being havens of escapism (the 70s ship, a pirate vessel for example); a more practical Westworld of the high seas. It might be the oceans might be the only escape point from modern society. Along with seaside towns in Essex.

The Pont Aven does unfortunately have TV which enabled us to watch France beat Wales in the 98th minute of the rugby, but also does still have old school entertainment last seen at the end of each Phoenix Nights episodes.  There is a detachment from day to day living as time goes slow and an alternative universe aboard ship plays out. French ship somewhere between Spain and the UK does make for an interesting experience. The people travelling (in March) are also an interesting bunch which also adds to the mix. From lorry drivers to returning, Mercedes driving expats there is a heady mix. 

Down in steerage with a heavy sea overnight you are not just detached from people on land you are also detached from the everyone else on the ship. The bunk and your part of the cabin is your world and the sound of the ship and waves as well as the movement provide a unique experience. After getting down a big dinner manage to sleep well with some reading and though did wake up with a stiff shoulder. 

On this planet but well away from reality. 


Fine Line

There’s a fine line between love and hate and there is a fine line between good and bad. I don’t speak to a large audience on a regular basis but it’s easy to miss the mood and needs of the audience. 

For a technology conference internal or external you normally have a pretty dry subject so getting people to listen is difficult  (they are on their phones reading or communicating or writing blogs, like this one). 

Too many slides aren’t good. Slides themselves are fundamentally bad as you can’t change track during the session if it’s not going well. You can simply stop using the slides but the safety net isn’t there and you can argue you shouldn’t have used slides in the first place. 

Watching other presenters should be a good way of becoming a good presenter either learning what works and what doesn’t. However many people just repeat the same mistakes when they get on stage. Blinded by the lights maybe but more likely unable to break the normal low level of expectations 

When you have to sit through 4 days of this style of presentation you think that people would learn. If you are in a sales organisation you think that presenters would be good a selling. That they sometimes aren’t says as much about the sales process as the presenter 


Day 1 Done. 

The annual sales kickoff  (SKO) is something to be cherish. An assault course of the senses it can be brutal with the hedonism of many and a frustration of a few. From awards for doing your job which can be painful when you watch sales people lauding it up (though the small reward for the team for best staff retention was good and appreciated for change), through to brown-nosing as Olympic sport, there are plenty of ways to fry your brain. 

Spending money to get people to the event isn’t cheap so there is a tendency to make sure everyone is busy and in meetings all the time. As mentioned in the previous post, the best reward comes from the unexpected, the meeting of minds and the satisfaction of self discovery. More self discovery is good. 

However you need to be self aware. If you want to choose your own path then you also need to allow people to choose theirs in the same. 


From the open road to the closed room

Driving across Northern Spain from Santander to Lleida (so far) has been a revelation. Scenery excellent and with light traffic on excellent roads. Weather has been crisp but kind and got to 22 C at one point this afternoon (according to the device on the Transalp). 

“What goes through your mind whilst riding the bike ?” asked Roger at today’s lunch stop in Jaca. Good question as it’s not easy to drift off given the concentration needed to ride safely, which is more than is needed for driving a car. The sense you get is though is one of freedom and it’s easy to understand why for many men a midlife crisis usually involves a trip to the bike dealers. 

As for motivation, freeing my mind on the road is going to always be better for me than listening to speakers in conference rooms. Riding a bike is just you. In control and not discussing or explaining what you are doing or the decisions made to do stuff. You do it. A conference room is directive, with someone telling you what they want you to do (and occasionally why they are asking you to do it). 

If you stood up at a conference and in first the first part of the talk you asked people to spend the next 45 minutes doing something they would get the most value from, you would probably get a lot questions and requests for clarification.  

Some enlightened souls would get up and leave the room, probably on the premises of having a “valuable” conversation with a colleague. Some might see the best thing they could do is catch up on email but for sure the best thing they could do is sit down with themselves for a bit. Think what’s important and what motivates you. If it’s me talking at you for 45 minutes then there’s something very very wrong. 

So tomorrow sees the temporary transition from open road to closed room and from being with myself a lot (and one other person a little) to being with a lot more people a lot. Appealing it isn’t. 


7.38am Argomaniz

All quiet in the Paradore in Argomaniz after a short ride yesterday brought us from Santander. Withnail is now without after with brilliant assistance from Jorge we has both emergency repair kit delivered as we got off the ferry as well as a trip to a tyre workshop where it was patched professionally while we watched all for 5 euros. This involved lots of conversation and about 5 guys discussion the concerns of tyre balance and vulcanization. All very quickly. 

A trip of a nearby bar and a catch up with Jorge. If there .is anything that this highlights it is treating people right and always respecting them will always payback. You may need them one day. I am and have been guilty of abusing both friendships and people directly through my words and actions. This isn’t uncommon for many people and comes through competitiveness and a lack of empathy for the motivations and feelings of people. We see ourselves better than others and to preserve this view even if we aren’t better than friends and colleagues we have to maintain that impression.  

A later conversation  (and it was later as dinner in Spain is late) with Roger we got to talking about the pressure that people have at work. One of the ways we judge people and express opinion is on how good they are at there job. Recently via text one colleague had expressed concerns about Roger taking on a role I had asked him to do. Whilst in some aspects he was right that his leadership and ability to sell himself among the wider team might not be strong he had not thought about the wider issues around dealing with people, getting concensus on issues and having the motivation for doing a good job. No one is perfect for any role as such as whilst the role tends to be shaped by the person doing the job it is in the most part successful even if it is different to what you have seen in the role when it was specified in the job description.

Accepting that people essentially do the best they can in any job is of course fundamental. Accepting that this may not meet your own expectations on the job isn’t so easy. Accepting that their work and interpretation of the job might be better than your own is even harder. My own view is that it’s always good to accept that people are better than you except in cases of monumental fuckups or incompetence. The barrier to this is understanding their motivation and abilities.

People like Jorge, Roger and others who I have worked with have amazing skills and knowledge. They do things differently to me but it’s easy to accept that because of what they achieve. For others it is more challenging.  

There is another post here about the banal and bland, sometimes sycophantic conversations that take place at work where people don’t really challenge others about what they do or so. Not because they think they are great but because they dont want to be challenged themselves. Seeing the good in everyone however small is good but developing it with them a bit harder. 


Withnail and I

Roger has a nail in the rear tyre of his 955i Daytona Triumph. He is therefore Withnail. I am therefore I. 

We have known each other for 15 years give or take a few days, from when he started at the old Red Hat Guildford office. Over the years we’ve shared both work and social memories most involving lots of laughter. A recent day in the Farnborough office was just simply very funny for a number of reasons including someone posting instructions on how to draw an owl. (See below).  Like any good friendship it has high and low points and lots of changes since we met. Between us we’ve got married, divorced, had kids,  had kids leave home and generally had a lot of life.  Lost contact a bit during Rogers wilderness years in the porn industry but he came back to Red Hat in 2008. 

There are lots of stories from getting our bacon stolen by otters whilst camping on the island of Harris through to having to watch a Cisco engineer with a massive hairy crack for a day.  

You never appreciate what you have until you don’t have it and friendships are things you need you nuture and appreciate as you go not just reflecting.

Roger is known for his inventions, which are noteable as they’ve usually been invented by someone else before.  Google glasses for example:-) 
The nail in his tyre will involve some faff in Santander for sure but it’s always worth it in the long run and you will always get back more than you put it. 


Zurich 7am

I travel a lot, but still when you when you wake up sometimes you feel disconnected from reality. Usually after waking up at some point in the night (in this case 3am) and then falling back to sleep, you subsequently wake with the alarm. 

Though awake isn’t quite the right work. It’s a mixed state somewhere between awake and asleep where drowsiness covers the mind and soul. You are thinking slowly and thoughtfully. Usually if you have a non routine day (office and tram route not taken before, new customer) then you might plan these through. But you also are able to thing deeply and your minds eye is able to image things you want in a way that you might actually feel you are touching them. 

This isn’t a pre brekkie ereccie as such (though I always wondered what the cause of that it is) but it is something sensual which drags you in. It doesn’t happen often though first morning in Lier is a time when I can find it.

Sometimes when I do eventually drag myself out of bed I am disappointed than I’m not in Lier and that Sophie is not here either.
If you start the day with level of feeling and inner soul enabled you find yourself with it all day. Even during a meeting or when working on a document you are still yearning for that feeling of half concious and thinking about you inside. 

Selfish indulgence yes, but why not. It doesn’t cost anything. Inward reflection is good to establish who you are which is in itself and important factor in self belief and self determination. 


Whether you are travelling for business or pleasure. 

According to Eurostar you cannot do both. Travelling for work can be a pleasure usually based on the conversations and observations you make. This is much truer for train travel rather than air travel, where making it a pleasure is far more difficult. 

I’ve mentioned observation before so should focus on conversation. A couple of weeks ago it involved discussions on pharmokenetics and the quality of science which made the 2 hour journey go by pretty quickly. This week it’s a couple of words with The Man in Seat 31 but that’s also fine. Gives me time to write this. The website looks at the best seat on the Eurostar based on the fact you don’t need to talk to anyone rather actually interact. 

You need conversation and stimulation to talk about things and then time to think and write up. Maybe I am ready like George Orwell to up sticks to Jura to write based on the observations and conversations I have had on the world at large.  For last year’s Cambrian Way maybe I did too much walking rather than enough thinking  (and maybe that’s why I need to do it again). 

Thinking and writing is always a pleasure you can always have when travelling for business. Taking your mind there from time to time is a good thing. 

Existentialism Uncategorized

How much ?

Everything of course has a price, especially if its being bought and sold. Value is not necessarily that price. With the upcoming Classic Off-Road Show in Telford it’s time for buyers and sellers to meet and disagree (and maybe eventually agree) on a price for a bike, a set of brake pads or a even a set of rusty imperial spanners (I have some for sale). I don’t mind giving stuff away in some cases especially if it’s been in the van 4 or 5 times before and headed up the motorway to Telford only to be loaded back in. My value for the item has treaded all the way to zero. 

The most recent issue of Classic Dirt Bike did a feature of a award winning show bike, a Husqvarna 400 Cross from 1970 and they did a good job of not mentioning Steve McQueen throughout. However, on the following on from the article the owner has listed it on eBay, with a staggering £13,950 price tag. It’s high, but the main staggering thing will be that someone will possible / probably pay something like that for it. This is for a bike you cannot ride down your street without significant depreciation, let alone race around the field.

There is no doubt some interior designer for a hedge fund or start-up that is looking for the ultimate in decoration is that person who would pay this for a reception (I’ve sat on £6000 sofas in offices, that is the company I work for). 

It’s true its too good to get dirty but there is that KLF inside of you that would like to buy the bike, turn up at an event like the Nostalgia or Bonanza and just want to thrash it around the track. I’d get more satisfaction from this than burning £1m quid or drinking a £1000 bottle of wine (I know, I have done one of them). 
This isn’t going to be the deepest thinking or most meaningful post on but this perception of value, both emotional and aesthetic is interesting. You might spend nearly 14k on the bike because you can and in as much the same way you would buy an expensive, overpriced car it would confirm your place in sphere of life reserved for those people who live for instant pleasure and gratification. The emotional buyer might have no limit on top value as the heart will always overrule the head. Your first bike, the one you were racing the day you met your wife, or the one that gave you your first win, all good reasons to consider. Of course there are now people and selling bikes for profit and as much for financial purposes that they are for the love of the bikes (let along the love of riding them).

I did once consider setting up a pension fund based around classic bikes and whilst a purely financial vehicle (ahem, that is a bad pun) at least it was made up of tangible assets and also something I understood (rather than equities, guilts or commercial property). Of course, plenty of people have the same idea around collecting (or hoarding) machines that really should be being ridden and there is solid financial sense in it. Not sure of the point I’m trying to make here, but whilst I’m objecting to significant price (and its a lot of money) , I’m objecting to someone paying it, I should also understand why people will want to be part of this transaction as buyer or seller. If both parties are satisfied and feel they have something of value from it, then why am I objecting.

It might be because the bike is now slowly collecting dust, rather than rapidly collecting mud round a field somewhere.

As I move through life I value other less materialistic things; friendships, love and things of beauty. A walk up to Mynnyd Llangorse on an exceptionally sunny January is better than doing a deal on a bike and making a tidy profit. Though this is also nice it’s pleasures are diminishing.  

Could I have been like this in my 20s ? I doubt it. I was still learning from the world around me and the main influences even in the days before instant celebrity this was dominated by material gain (winning speedboats on Sale of The Century or Bullesye). Maybe it’s because to some extent I am relatively comfortable in terms of money and possession that I can talk about more ethical or spiritual issues with a level. If I was still battling my way up the career ladder or looking to put together a rental deposit I would be less interested in this matter.

So if I sound a bit pompous on materialistic possession and behaviour I will apologise but the added comment that everyone had time to think and write if they choose. Most importantly however irrespectively of wealth you also have a choice. 

I choose not to spend 14k on a Husqvarna that I can share passion on. However there are plenty of others which I can be passionate about but based on shared time in the workshop and on the track. 


A small cog

You might at times get an idea of self importance and you have some significant value or place in the world. However a night in a large city with lots of people is one way to getting some perspective.

However for me rather than observing and being in awe of the few, in some the world’s most expensive houses or apartments or people, it’s a chance to view the many and to be aware of what they have. And it might not be money.  

On the District Line last night there were couples with the fresh look of love and an older couple who shared a bag of crisps and sat there together with a mutual understanding of each other that didn’t need words. There are wide eyed tourists getting lost and ripped off in London for the first time. None of them are important to the wider masses but they are important to themselves and a few others. That is great. 

Getting a sense of perspective is important in an increasingly complex society that one hopes has now plunged the depths of instant fame, artificial values of worth and a level of detachment from each other.  

My own small cog is important to me and I hope to some other friends and that is what I will focus on. It’s not my money or some reflected status but should be the way I act in this bubble of society that surrounds me.