Weekly Head Voices #19: The time-traveller’s BBQ.

This one is dedicated to the memory of DB.

In this slightly introspective 19th edition of the Weekly Head Voices, looking in all directions in time simultaneously, but slightly ever so slightly more in the direction of week 12 of 2010, I do the usual week time break-down, win a fight with my ISP, go all out on Dropbox and Chrome, and smash through my yearly internet shopping quota, before arriving at the more extensive than usual backyard philosophy section, which today will dwell on the very much related themes of time-travel, perspective, stress and BBQs.

My time machine. Fuel on the left.

My time machine. Fuel on the left.

During the past week, I checked off 22 GTD tasks, spread over 10 projects.  Besides these, I had the usual 2 hours of lecture preparation, 3 hours of lecturing and 17 hours of scheduled meetings, including an absolute power networking event where I definitely was the smallest fish in the bowl (lovely that!).

If you are not of the nerdy persuasion, you might just want to skip the next few paragraphs until the bit with the backyard philosophy warning.

On the nerd front, I had a bit of a fight with my internet provider as to the stability of my line. They were full of confidence that my line needed to be throttled to 4 Mbit/s to be stable, I had a suspicion that I could get it stable at a significantly higher rate. Guess who’s the daddy? ME OF COURSE. My line is stable at 5.54 Mbit/s (I’m about 3.2 km from the exchange). I now know far more about ADSL line black magic than I ever wanted to.  Bottom line in this case is that, in cases where your line only manages between 4 and 6 Mbit/s, ADSL1 can be much more stable than ADSL2.

Further on the nerd front, my month-long evaluation of Dropbox has culminated in me signing on for a further year with a pro 50G account.  It’s just that good… Even furtherer, lastpass.com has solved my last gripe with Google Chrome, namely that its stored password database is not encrypted. As part of the bargain, my passwords are now synchronized with the Cloud! Coupled with Chrome absolutely crushing most other browsers in speed tests, and the fact that up to now it has proven extremely hard to hack, this has pushed me over the edge, into the Wonderful Land of Full-time Dedicated Google Chrome Addicts.

Warning: Excessive Backyard Philosophy Beyond This Point

On Wednesday I arrived home, all stressed out about work. Yes dear readers, some academics, like me for instance, sometimes stress out about work. Somehow, I was born without the ability to separate work from personal life. Mostly, this is an advantage: I really love my job. It’s become more a way-of-life, a philosophy if you will, than just a job. However, sometimes this means that I have great difficulty switching off my work circuits when this is necessary, for example when work finds itself in High Stress Mode (HSM) and I need to be in Relaxed Family-Person Mode (RFPM). At the end of such a work day, my body is displaced from work to home, but the contents of my head remain exactly the same. In effect, I travel through space, but not time.

Back to Wednesday: Fortunately, fate conspired to arrange for me and my BBQ to meet, under a lovely early Spring sky. My BBQ is more than just a BBQ. I have recently come to the conclusion that it is a powerful magical artifact that is able to bend time (and space). Standing there admiring the glowing coals, everything came to a peaceful stand-still. Probably due to the severe time-warping slowing down the world, I could see the whole multi-dimensional life-landscape surrounding me in its true perspective.

It’s not all that.

Work is really important, and if that’s your passion, it should remain so.  It’s definitely mine. However, there’s more, and much of the more is even more important. I’ve made  this observation often enough before, but it’s one of those things that is apparent to my cognitive self, but somehow doesn’t have a permanent effect on my natural perception. Briefly on Wednesday evening, this realisation was clear. By Thursday the feeling was starting to disappear again.


Today I received the terribly sad news that a colleague, with whom I’d been working closely together for the past months, had unexpectedly passed away on Sunday, leaving behind a young family.

One has to learn how to keep things in perspective. Life is too short not to.