The Musings Of An Opinionated Sod [Help Me Grow!]


The Incredible Story Of Sleep …
March 8, 2022, 8:15 am
Filed under: A Bit Of Inspiration, Attitude & Aptitude, Culture, Health, Sleep

A few weeks ago, I listened to a radio program about sleep.

While its importance has been well documented, this program covered the history of sleep and how it has been dramatically impacted by the way society now lives.

I know, I’m not doing a great job of selling it am I?

But if you listen to the program, you will hear how we used to sleep in 2 phases … how the Industrial Revolution played a significant role in damaging it, from introducing the attitude of ‘time is money’ to the rise of artificial illumination … how we now sleep 20% less than we did 70 years ago and how literally every ailment, illness, negative impact on life is directly attributable to sleep deprivation.

It’s 24 minutes of wonderfulness, which, ironically, will leave you wide awake.

Who knew this blog could actually be interesting and educational?

Though, I appreciate, it’s only because I’m presenting someone else’s brilliant work.

Story of my life.

So if you want to know why one of the most considerate things you can do as a partner, parent or boss is encourage the people around you to get more rest than society tends to let them experience, you can listen to the reasons and background here.



You Only Rest When We All Rest …

Over the Christmas period – our first in NZ – we had 3 weeks off.

When I say ‘we’, I mean the vast majority of the entire country had 3 weeks off.

Some even more.

This was a revelation to me.

As an adult – or at least my version of being an adult – I’d never had more than 10 days off at Christmas and that only happened because Christmas/New Years fell on convenient days so it was worth using some of my annual holidays for it.

And it was when I returned to work this time that I realised how much this 3 week break had positively affected me.

Now you could argue anyone would feel that way after that length of break, but I felt very emotionally scarred from a very traumatic December that included the loss of a dear friend, an unexpected operation for Otis and an unexpected hospital visit for me – so to come back feeling refreshed and relaxed was somewhat of a surprise.

And then I realised why this had happened.

Because it wasn’t just me who had enjoyed this break, but the whole country.

An entire nation who deeply value, respect and treasure this holiday.

And because of this, there were no emails … no last minute requests … no urgent presentations.

In fact, there were no interaction whatsoever.

And it was that ‘blanket break’ that made all the difference.

Because when no one is worried about receiving an emergency request or being left behind because everyone is at work while they’re on holiday, they can properly relax.

OK, so it helps its summer … but the universal freedom from worrying about work means everyone relaxes and replenishes.

Hell, we even made a joke about it by creating a holiday gift that was a personalised restraining order for our clients … a demand for them to not contact anyone from Colenso for a period of 21 days.

And while it was all done with tongue very firmly in-cheek, the benefit of following it was real.

Because truly rested clients and colleagues are better clients and colleagues … emotionally, physically and mentally.

In many ways, the most effective way to drive quality, efficiency and happiness is to enforce mass escape.

Not team bonding days.
Not project sprints.
No bullshit claims of unlimited holidays.
But a break.
A significant, mass, vacation that’s treated by all as sacrosanct.

Of course nations in Europe have been doing this sort of thing for decades …

And while many in the UK and US tend to look down on them as if they’re an act of weakness, they’re missing the point.

Because life isn’t simply about what you have, but how you live.



A Place To Work From …
September 27, 2021, 8:00 am
Filed under: A Bit Of Inspiration, Attitude & Aptitude, Environment, Health, Home, New Zealand

There are many good things about moving countries so much … one of them is the ability to continually keep your house clear of shit.

And given how much shit I have, that means it’s the difference between living in a house you can move around in, or being officially given a ‘harder’ label.

So every time we are moving, we sell/give/dispose of a whole heap of things … stuff that either doesn’t work for us anymore or won’t work with where we’re going. It’s quite cathartic once my wife and I have got past the arguments of what we individually are claiming is ‘not rubbish’.

Anyway, the reason I say this is as we are setting up home in NZ, we needed a table – but, as usual – we decided we wanted something quirky beautiful, so off we went traipsing around and then we discovered this.

Now, I accept being excited about a table is possibly the saddest thing I could ever admit to, but look at it …

A Czechoslovakian, Industrial Laboratory Table from 1976.

NINETEEN SEVENTY SIX!!!

The stories it could tell.
The experiments it’s been involved in.
The people who worked on it.

Though I’m choosing to ignore the dangerous chemicals it has probably had poured on it or churned out. Not to mention the ones still be hidden somewhere in its taps and pipes.

If it was a book, it would be a mystery story where the last pages of each chapter have been ripped out, leaving you to imagine where things go.

And while paying a fuckload of cash for a piece of 45 year old ‘office furniture’ may seem like the most stupid idea ever, when you remember how many robot dog, rabbits and – worse of all – balls I’ve blown perfectly good money on throughout my life, this could be one of the smartest investments I would ever make.



Deliberately Ignorant …

Once upon a time, a creative friend of mine rang me up.

He had been offered a job in China and wanted to hear my perspective on being there.

During the conversation, he asked if the pollution was bad.

When I asked why he was asking, he said he was pretty susceptible to asthma and while on his visit to the agency there, he had felt a bit ill, despite the weather being good.

He had asked some of his prospective workmates if they felt the weather was ever bad for breathing and they all said no and he wanted to know my take on it.

I laughed.

Not just because it’s pretty well documented the air there is not great, especially for an asthmatic – despite the government being the biggest investor in green technology in the World – but because it reminded me of something my Dad had told me while watching the Tom Cruise movie, A Few Good Men.

I know this is going off on a tangent, but hang in there.

You see, at the scene where Jack Nicholson spouts his immortal “You Can’t Handle The Truth” line, my Dad burst out laughing.

When I asked why, he said this:

“There are occasions where people will openly deny truth. Not because they hold a different opinion, but because to accept it means they would have to accept their complicity in a situation truth has revealed. Sometimes, the simple act of acknowledgement means people are forced to face and question the motives and values they conveniently chose to hide away”

His point was literally what my friend had experienced.

The prospective colleagues he asked about weather conditions knew full-well there is pollution in the air. However, their mind had almost forced them to forget it. Not because they were liars or bad people, but because if they admitted the truth, then they would be forced to ask themselves why they were there when they knew it was likely to be doing them harm.

We experience this every day.

Deliberate ignorance.

From people hired to purchases made.

Not because people are bad, but because we don’t want face the questionable decisions we’ve chosen to make to benefit our personal circumstances over health, values or friendship.

Which is why my mate decided not to go to China.

The moral of the story.

Remember people sometimes don’t tell you what they think, they tell you what protects them from you knowing what they think.



Would You Travel Through Time And Space To Go Back To Where You Came From/
August 18, 2021, 8:00 am
Filed under: Attitude & Aptitude, Comment, Context, Corona Virus, England, Health, New Zealand

Yesterday, my life consisted of the 2 movies above.

Why?

Because despite moving 12,000 miles to NZ to get away from covid, we found only ourselves back where we started.

In lockdown.

OK, it’s only for 7 days [for now] … but the feeling of it happening was so familiar.

The gathering of your work stuff.

The dark humour between colleagues tinged with truth.

The sense of things closing in and taking over beyond your control.

You’d think having had well over a year of lockdown, I’d be OK with it, but it still felt uncomfortable, even though I am fortunate to have already had one of my vaccinations.

But there was one big difference between yesterday and March, Friday 13th, 2020.

And that was the way the Government handled it.

Where in the UK we had chaos and confusion … here we had incredibly valuable detail, clarity and calmness.

In addition, the schools not only sent out an immediate message that detailed how online lessons would be handled, the note also said the following:

Given how badly the UK government handled providing parents the tools to teach from home – not to mention the additional pressure they placed on parents to keep up with the curriculums – it was amazing to see them acknowledge the importance of providing reassurance rather than just demand adherence.

It’s a weird time, even if it’s just for a week, but the way it has been handled is light years away from what we experienced not that long ago.

Not only that, the fact the patient and doctor identified and reported their case immediately – and this was followed up with not just track and trace info, but down to individual locations and destinations – is also another reason to be hopeful that if anyone can deal with this situation effectively, it’s NZ.

We’ll see. But regardless of the outcome, thank you to the patient, the doctor, the government and the people of NZ.

If it wasn’t certain before, I can categorically say Jacinda is miles better than Boris.