Random acts of enthusiasm

April 26, 2012 at 9:07 pm (odds) (, , , , , )

Was on the train to London today and doing my usual activity for such occasions (i.e. dozing). I’d caught the slow one by mistake, which stops at most of the stations on the way, so was doing a bit more dozing than usual (not that I travel that regularly), then someone got on and sat next to me at Berkhamstead (I might have opened half and eye) …

Well 5 miles or so out of Euston the train stopped for a while and I started to wake up, then the lady who had sat next to me suddenly pointed across me (I was next the window) saying excitedly “did you see that?  that bird?”.  It then transpires that she had spotted an interesting bird in the urban trees beside the railway and we went on to talk a bit about cities, how rare it is to see some of what used to be typical birds for England (she was particularly pleased to tell me she had seen a wren once, and how small it was) and areas of the country that are preserved to allow birds to flourish.

It was such an unexpected event that it totally took me by surprise.

So, Justine (I think that was the name that came up on your blackberry) from Berkhamstead going to Ofcom (I presume from our short conversation) today (April 2012) – should by some incredible chance you happen to stumble across this post at some point in the future – thank you for a serendipitous, random act of enthusiasm over a simple event in the midst of a train of silent commuters in the middle of the city that made a total stranger smile at several points when recalling the encounter during his day.

Oh, and that report on how the brain optimises behaviours by building habits that I mentioned when you commented on the impulse to check your blackberry is here – http://www.nytimes.com/2012/02/19/magazine/shopping-habits.html


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Hands up if you keep Chickens

April 6, 2012 at 10:38 am (computers, house, internet) (, , )

Apparently many of us do.  Google typing predictions are a good indicator of interest and if you start typing “how to keep” then chickens is at the top of the list (followed by “… a man interested”, “… healthy” and “… awake”!  Duduce from that what you will!)

What brought the subject up was seeing that Wilkinson’s stores now stock chicken pellets, corn, grit, mite powder and so on.  So enough poeple must be picking up chicken related supplies as they pop in and out of the shop to make it worth their while.  Haven’t seen it on the shelves of Tescos yet mind.

This reminds me of a subject that Richard Watson brings up in his book The Future Files.  He talks about the pace of society and how in the future (and for some, maybe right now) there will be polar opposites at work.  On the one hand, everything is so fast paced, so connected, so ‘never-leaving-work-behind’ and not having time for things, that everything will have to be convenient, grabbable, consumed “on the move” (and by that he means food, relationships, entertainment, information …).

But then contrary to this will be a desire to return to simpler things – like home baking, DIY, crafts, allotments, keeping chickens … like “the good life” but with people using it as “time out” or a holiday from the fast paced, connected society.

Some people already have “disconnected sundays” where no one is allowed to turn the phones or Internet on.  Some people ban phones at family meals.  The Television, once seen as bringing the breakup of family and social life, is often now a means to bring everyone sitting down together to watch a film, the latest “must see” reality-factor-talent exploitation.

Even in times of entertainment on demand, there are still significant timetabled TV shows that mean that everyone sits down together, goes to the loo at the same time, and still causes significant spikes in the power as they all put the kettle on afterwards … (one of the drivers for smart grids/meters … you put the kettle on at the start, and it decides when its most economical, environmentally friendly, and efficient to actually boil, anticipating when you’ll need it …)

So one generation’s family-killing technology, becomes another generations family-saving experience.

It has been said about books, TVs, Gaming, the Internet and no social networking and mobile phones. Is technology making is more isolated or more connected?  You choose 🙂

Of course, the answer is usually to apply more technology in an attempt to solve the issues brought about by technology.  And on that note, I’m off to experiment with that arduino chicken door controller


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