Child free: Whats wrong with you?

Its great to see the Guardian covering the decision of people who want to go children free. Really interesting to see how society pressures people into having children, I mean why would you not its natural right?

…When you get married, when you settle down, when you have kids…

I’m personally not bothered about having children, society needs to get a lot more accepting of people who choose not to have kids. I’m lucky to be male and not have so much pressure on me but the stories of women is just awful to read.

The story behind the 1968 Olympics Black Power salute

John Carlos and Tommie Smith made headlines across the world when they raised the black power salute on the podium after winning in the 1968 Olympics. That protest brought them death threats, and they were expelled from the games.

Vox is on fire recently. The story behind the 1968 Olympics black power salute is something worth watching.

There is something about Upload which feels like the good place?

 Upload (2020)

Not sure what it is about Amazon’s Upload but it feels like the Good Place? (maybe the early days of the good place?)

Just like the good place, it full of comedy and silliness but there is something deeper underneath the jokes and smiles. Yes the subject matter is similar, the afterlife? But there is also something emotional interesting about the show and its good to hear there will be a another season.

I did think there is plenty which can be taken from Black mirror’s San junipero and it seems Amazon got right in there with this. Originally I thought it would be awful but  I expect to run for another few seasons.

Living in the age of Covid-19?

My partner asked me how I was doing on the phone. She remarked how I was managing with the changes well and I mentioned a quote I heard recently.

I won’t/can’t take credit but it speaks volume about right now… The quote came from the head of R&D which he was reminded of via the chief scientist.

“Frodo: I wish the Ring had never come to me. I wish none of this had happened.

Gandalf: So do all who live to see such times, but that is not for them to decide. All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given to us.”

― J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings

Be safe and stay connected…

Government says stay in doors, how I make it work

Working from home
Me on my Dell XPS with that hinge camera

As the UK tonight goes into police lockdown, I reflect on staying in my flat.

I have been working at home since last week Tuesday, a few days after most of my colleagues at BBC R&D. Like most of the country/world who could work from home, we work from home in the middle of Covid-19 pandemic.

For a lot of people working from home is very challenging, for a number of reasons including having kids, job which requires access to specialist equipment, trying to separate work and personal life for a long time. Theres also the mental, social and physical health sides of this all.

So I thought I’d share how I’m managing with staying at home most of the time. Of course take from it what you think is useful.

Work wise

I now switched to my natural working time of 1030-11am till 7pm. I do get up and do all the things I usually do when going to work including getting dressed, having breakfast, playing podcasts, etc. Where usually I am in a rush for the door, I now relax playing a few podcasts in a row and across my flat.

Physically working I switch between using my standing desk in my bedroom and the sofa in the living room. I also have my dinner table but haven’t used that yet.

I take breaks when ever I want rather than a lunch break as such. It makes sense to me but I’m sure others will disagree

I’m using my Dell XPS 13 to the maximum memory wise (if I could add another 16gig to it I would, but it tops out at 16gig). Because of that I have to keep opening and closing the virtual windows 10 machine to check email. This is actually quite good because I’m answering emails then closing it while I do other things like writing gdocs, a lot of zoom calls.

Media beyond the news

Talking about media, I am currently playing podcasts as theres lots of podcasters recording from their homes, just like the mainstream media. At some point I will start listening to some of the audiobooks I have saved.

Been watching a lot of films and may start watching more TV shows but generally its audio in the morning and videos in the evening.

I have also ignoring most of the news media because I hate that news cycle and there is so much good stuff out there. For example Mydata just upload their videos, the Singularity University did a summit about Covid19, There was a activitypub conference with videos on peertube. This is just in the last few weeks.

I had also planned to do some training by watching and listening from Linkedin learning and other sources.

I’m very happy I opted for the 1gig bit hyperoptic fibre link, its paid for its self massively over the years and being able to share my media with friends is fantastic. I’m also considering using my icecast server to maybe put up a live web broadcast every weekend as its been a while since I did a mix.

The Manchester futurists which I’m a part of are considering podcasting while events are not allowed. So look out for those. I did float the idea of techgrumps again but no dice yet.

I’m also considering getting more into gaming as I’m not much of a gamer, but do have a Xbox 360 and Playstation one classic. I actually do have a steam account but never used it so theres something I might explore. I’m also looking for a good gaming site for casual gaming which can be played together with my partner or friends, but is respectful of my data? Any ideas do drop a comment…

Staying in shape

I’m lucky to have a communal garden so can sit outside with minimal risk to myself and others. Its also where I’m going to start doing the diabolo now its getting warmer (thankfully). I have been outside a few times, mainly to get food, post letters and go riding in the pennies on the scooter. I am planning to do some more serious walking for shopping and exercise.

Been wondering if now is a good time to order those Rollerblades to go with my skateboard?

Staying connected

I don’t live with my partner but we are talking everyday. Its good and we find new and good ways to do things together over the phone and videochat.

I have always been in regular contact with my parents but also connecting with my sister more. Been thinking about the massive family I have and I should reach out to them more too.

I’m also making a very conscious decision to everyday get in touch with people I haven’t spoken to in a long time. Think about it, everybody is at home and likely will be very happy to hear from an old friend. Its not like they are out or on holiday. So far its been great and I expect it brings delight to others too.

Keeping my mind in gear

I have a large task list of things to do, not only because of covid-19 but generally. So I can slowly work my way through that while at home. Some of it is computer based, some internet based, some hardware and some physical DIY type things. Been thinking I should physically take up the art of motorcycle maintenance with my scooter.

Taking a look at the list, there is always something I could be doing and I ordered that raspberry pi 4 before this became a pandemic.

I’m taking time out to practice self-care, relax and sleep longer than usual which is helping a lot with my mental health. I’m avoiding the news cycle as mentioned previously but also avoiding lots of the facebook nonsense as I don’t need to use it now volleyball is off for the foreseeable future.

Life status check-in?

I noticed Sarah, founder of the Girl Geekdinners added a post on her facebook. She asked for others to do it because it was an interesting to understand our friends.

So I did a quick copy and filled it in on my facebook.

I decided to add it here and add some comments.

💍 Marriages: 1
💔 Divorces: 1
🍼Children: 0 (Thankfully)
👩🏼‍⚕️ Surgeries: 3 (Arm burn, Nose and Brain)
Tattoos: 0 (No chance I count my burn as one massive one)
👂🏼Piercings:0 (No bloody way!)
✋🏼Quit a job: Yes
🚘What car you drive : None (But I do have my lovely Silverwing 600cc Scooter)
✈️Flown in a plane: Yes (geez luckily dooplr doesn’t exist anymore because I must have been on about 15+ just this year)
🍹Favourite Drink: Espresso Martini or Cosmopolitan (I’m torn between the two, depending on mood)
Fallen in love: Yes
🚑Rode in ambulance: Yes (a few times with friends and myself)
🎤Sang karaoke: Yes (and hated it, each time)
Ice skating: Yes (still not great but can do it)
🏄Been surfing: No (tempted in the past)
🚢Been on a Cruise: No (plus I get seasick easily so it sounds like a nightmare to me)
🏍Rode on a motorcycle: Yes (everyday, not a big deal for me)
🏍Owned a motorcycle: Yes (about 5 in total)
🐴Rode on a horse: Yes (Believe it or not, and not ever again please)
😲Almost died: Yes (#mybrushwithdeath)
🏥Stayed in a hospital: Yes
🍑Favorite fruit: Granny smiths apples
📲Last phone call: Restaurant in Manchester (I was checking the availability of a table)
📱Last text: To my partner
🍵️Coffee or Tea: Tea (I love coffee but I can’t drink it like I use to, Tea on the other hand I can drink all day no problem)
🥧Favourite pie: None! (Hate them, I’m all about the Cornish Pasties)
🍕Pizza: Pizza Express’s Padana, which is Goats Cheese, Caremlised red onions, Spinach and Olive oil
🐈 Cat or Dogs: Cats (although I’m allergic to them, they don’t like to bite & chase me like dogs do)
☃️ Favorite Season: Summer (Sometimes its too hot but I prefer it to the cold and wet rain of Spring and Autumn. Also love walking around with just a short sleeve shirt)
♥️: Favorite holiday: Tokyo Japan (although crazy and always under threat of eating something which is going to kill me, I did enjoy it a lot)
🏊‍♂️: Skinny dipped: Yes

Living life to the maximum

Ian Forrester #ib100

The last few days have been quite incredible, mainly due to being added to Inclusion boards top 100. Its been quite a whirl wind but my feet are still solidly on the floor.

I want to say thank you to everyone who posted, liked, retweeted, tooted, left a comment, emailed, texted or verbally said to me congrats. I means tons to me. Every-time I look at the list and all the other people on the list, I’m just ever-so humbled.

But being on the list is one thing, I’ve been pushing for a long while for diversity and to be honest this has massively helped even in the short few days since it was public. Imagine what else could/can be done?!

But I wanted to stop for a moment and tell you why this means a lot to me, part of it was in my previous post.

Without technology I would be a very different person and I want to help many others realise there true potential without prejudice and without fear. If I can be a part of this, I will hopefully inspire others to join us as we drive the much needed change…

I’m very conscious that just over 8 years ago I was almost dead. I always vowed never to let things stop me, if its truly important to me. And this is super important to me! I can’t even start to express how important. Not being entered as such, but rather the fact I’m doing something right. Its easy to get inside your own head and lose track of whats really needed in this world.

I always wanted to live life to the maximum and also have eyes on a future I wanted to see exist beyond me.

Thank you all again!

Less blogging recently…

You might have noticed less blogging from me recently. Theres a number of reasons mainly to do with being on holiday in Portugal & Spain. But also I’m working on the living room of the future project. Something I highly recommend you should sign up to experience.

I did about 6 pacemaker mixes while away on holiday but I would say only 3 maybe 4  are worth publishing. So look out for them on Mixcloud.com.

Leaving Madrid, recorded on the plane back to Manchester

  1. First attempt – Tomcraft
  2. Energy Flash (Graffiti on mars remix) – Joey Beltram
  3. Flight 643 (oliver klein remix) – Ferry Corsten
  4. Fractal – Bednar
  5. I feel wonderful (cosmic gate’s from AM to PM mix) – Cosmic gate feat Jan Johnston
  6. She wants him (Blake Jarrells panty dropper mix) – Moussa Clark & Terrafunka
  7. Opium – Jerome Isma-Ae & Alastor
  8. Suru (martin roth electrance remix) – super8 & tab
  9. Anomaly (Eeemus’s Higgs Boson remix) – Gordey Tsukanov

The heights of Lisbon, recorded during on the evening nights in Lisbon.

  1. Open up – Leftfield
  2. Loneliness (club mix) – Tomcraft
  3. Whites of her eyes – Simon Patterson
  4. Delores – Indecient noise
  5. From Russia with love (matt darey mix) – Matt Darey pres DSP
  6. Jump the next train (Vadim Zhukov dub) – Young Parisians feat Ben Lost
  7. Labyrinth (Paul Keyan remix) – Lee Cassells
  8. Strange world (M.I.K.E’s rework 2006) – Push
  9. Souvenir De Chine – Fire & Ice
  10. Take me away (into the night) (purple haze remix) – 4 Strings
  11. Sweet little girl (Voolgarizm remix) – Mario Piu
  12. Tenshi – Gouryella
  13. Uncommon world – Bryan Kearney
  14. We are one (instrumental mix) – Dave 202
  15. Why does my heart feel so bad (Ferry Corsten remix) – Moby
  16. Anahara (extended mix) – Ferry Corsten pres Gouryella

Raving in Albufeira, recorded on a long bus ride from Albuferia to Faro

  1. Sunset (bird of prey) – Fatboy Slim
  2. Rheinkraft (extended mix) – Oliver KleinDj Cul
  3. ture (Joey Beltram mix) – Kevin SaundersR
  4. evolving doors (club mix) – Ronski Speed
  5. Wrist block (Joey Beltram remix) – Side Four
  6. Running up the hill (Jerome isma-ae bootleg mix) – Placebo
  7. Flat Beat – Mr Ozio
  8. Shnorkel – Miki Litvak & Ido Ophir
  9. Valhalla (tonerush remix) – OneBeat
  10. Higher state of consciousness (dirty south remix) – Josh Wink
  11. Aumento – Joey Beltram
  12. EDM Death Machine – Knife Party
  13. A9 – Ariel
  14. Brainwashed (Club mix) – Tomcraft
  15. Gouryella (extended mix) – Gouryella
  16. Anahera (extended mix) – Ferry Corsten pres Gouryella

I finally took up the Gratitude habit and started publishing them here. Standardnotes has quite nice system to publish notes but also keep parts secret if you choose to. Its like I imagined for mydreamscape ages ago.

She means business

While doing some research around Living a conscious life. I was pleasantly surprised to find Carrie Green had included part of a conversation following the Tedx talk above, with her in North Tea Power in her book.

When I discovered this, I decided well I might as well get a copy for my ever growing library. Today I got my copy…

From the chapter – The little voice in your head

A guy called Ian Forrester climbed up to the stage, I handed him £20, the audience applauded and he went and sat down. A few weeks later we met up over a cup of tea and he told me how a brush with death a few years earlier made him make the decision that he was never going to let anything stand in his way. He said, “People are paralyzed by their fear of what might happen, and so they won’t reach out and grab what’s in front them. And that’s pretty much what I did.”

Thank you again Carrie for the quote and everything, I will never forget the moment.

Living a conscious life?

https://www.flickr.com/photos/cubicgarden/33582103273/

I hadn’t really considered that I might be living my life in a conscious way. But the more I look into it, the more I see the difference between my life previous to my brush with death.

So what is a conscious life? A life which is deliberate and thought-out, by listening to yourself and making conscious choices.

There’s no absolute, but rather a number of common elements which point in a certain direction. After some research and thought here’s a small incomplete list.

  • Do what makes you happy
  • Feel comfortable with saying no
  • Accept yourself and stop comparing yourself to others
  • Ignore the messages of the mainstream
  • Live in the moment
  • Be choosy
  • Focus on what you have
  • Practice a life with gratitude
  • Don’t let your ego lead
  • Spend your time and resources wisely
  • Let go of negativity and judgement

Its easy to see how all of these can seem either obvious, patronising or some hippy spiritual nonsense? I get it, maybe 10 years ago I would be thinking a similar thing. Maybe its just one of those things which you are ready for or not?

So how does this manifest in my life?

Happy Programmers

Do what makes you happy

I pretty much do what makes me happy and ignore much else. Its not out of ignorance but rather feelings of overload. I guess this is why I can sleep well at night? Don’t get me wrong, there are feelings/tensions about this being selfish but I tend to balance it out in my head by helping people when possible.

Help takes many forms but trying to encourage more people to be a little more conscious is something I quite like. Although I guess in retrospect, it can seem like I’m pushing my ideology on to others? Of course its about balance and also if the person is receptive to the advice.

Going back to doing what makes me happy. My trip to Japan was a great example. I got much advice about where I should go and visit from a great number of people & places. Although I took them on-board, I spent most of my time in Tokyo wondering the streets of different prefectures of the city. I visited every single roller coaster park except the Disney ones. I did what made me happy and still ended up trying new things. So this isn’t about the filter bubble. Its not uncommon for me to end up in the middle of a new city and just go exploring, alone or with others. Usually on a quest for the best cocktail establishment in that city.

This also applies to what I see and experience. This does unfortunately means making some tough decisions about places, things, friendships, etc…  Doing what makes me happy also means I tend to go and do things which others wouldn’t do alone. Its not unknown for me to go to the cinema, city, dinner, holiday alone. I’m quite comfortable with my self and don’t need others to reaffirm my happiness.

Feel comfortable with saying no

Following on from the previous one, saying no and personal happiness are connected. Saying no means theres less guilt and less mental pain. Saying no does mean being honest and rejecting people, but in the long run, its a much better place to be. Its great being strong willed too, great for the character. This has also stopped me from ending up in places/doing things I honestly wasn’t happy about.

Accept yourself and stop comparing yourself to others

This is something I learned very early on, maybe back when I was in primary school to be honest. I was taken out of class to go up to a special room, where a teacher/specialist would give me tests for dyslexia. That combined with being one of about 3 black kids in the school, all this made me less focused on comparing myself. I also wasn’t the most photogenic person in school, but it didn’t matter so much to me. This followed through into later life and

I’d argue this also fits well with not letting your ego rule, because what others do with their lives doesn’t concern me much. Its only when it affects others or myself I start to wonder.

Every once in a while people near me, have said they are jealous of one thing or another. I always say,

“don’t be jealous, focus on how your going to get better”

I try and get people to rethink the situation by turning that early stage envy around. Be happy for the other person and use them as a pointer. This does require some re-framing but is important and directly fits with the notion of being conscious not just reactionary.

Live in the moment

I alluded to dyslexia and links to living in the moment, but honestly my personally has expanded quite a bit to seek out more opportunities, now I notice them more. Its one of the big noticeable differences after my brush with death. Lisa Upton talked about it too, so did Derren brown’s in the secret of luck and of course there was what happened at TedxManchester3 with  Carrie Green.

Funny enough I recently found where the coffee conversation with Carrie went; into her book She Means Business: Turn Your Ideas into Reality and Become a Wildly Successful Entrepreneur.

From the chapter – The little voice in your head

A guy called Ian Forrester climbed up to the stage, I handed him £20, the audience applauded and he went and sat down. A few weeks later we met up over a cup of tea and he told me how a brush with death a few years earlier made him make the decision that he was never going to let anything stand in his way. He said, “People are paralyzed by their fear of what might happen, and so they won’t reach out and grab what’s in front them. And that’s pretty much what I did.”

I also remember a while ago hearing about smutslam and decided to give it a try. During the course of the evening, I decided to give it a shot. I ended up winning 2nd place. Totally living in the moment, just going with the flow.

Practice a life with gratitude

Been thinking about this one quite a bit, especially since I attended Sarah Raad’s workshop at Thinking Digital Newcastle. The benefits are huge for such a simple practice.

There are many gratitude apps and platforms, I’m just trying to pick one which contains all the things I respect like being opensource, decentralised, multiplatform, etc.  Currently I’m drawn somewhere between using Mastodon and trying Micropub.

What ever I decide, I’ve started writing weekly in Standard Notes, which also has a nice little micro blogging system called listed.

Let go of negativity and judgement

This is a big one. It was a workshop talk from Bobby from the happiest which unfortunately closed not long afterwards. (still like to see a distributed take on happiest); which got me thinking about negativity and how much we hold on to it (or it holds on to us?). He said something like 65 million thoughts we have everyday, 85% are negative. Although maybe not right, it got me thinking quite a lot about the possibility of changing our thought process.  Could we learn to accept and let go? Why do we hold on to negative feelings so tightly?

For me the totally irrational fear of injections was overcome by conscious thoughts of the same mind which was hosting that fear.

Although still fearful, I do feel much lighter because I was able to let go.

A shared passion for the brain

How To Retrain Your Brain Funzing talk in Manchester

How to Retrain Your Brain was my 3rd Funzing talk I have been to. The 1st I wasn’t that impressed with, while the 2nd one (Neuroscience of Decision Making) was great. With my interest in power of the brain. I’m happy to say retrain your brain was

I had no heard of Lisa Upton but during the evening hosted at MadLab, we got to learn a lot more about her.

Just over a year ago, Lisa was faced with a decision that would change her life forever. She had to decide whether to have awake brain surgery to remove a tumour which lay deep inside her brain in the left temporal lobe, close to the area responsible for speech and language. This decision came with extremely high risks – having the operation meant that she could have a stroke, may have to learn to talk, read and write again, or worst-case scenario, not survive the surgery.

Not having the operation meant living a life with four/five epileptic seizures every day and the chance that the ticking time bomb inside her brain could go off at any moment and this could take her life.

Lisa made the brave decision to have surgery.

It was weird hearing Lisa talking about her experience and noticed some interesting parallels in my own experience and outlook on life.

In the months following her operation Lisa’s life changed beyond measure, she thought about life in a completely different way, she approached things with a different attitude and as a result of this, saw new and amazing opportunities presenting themselves every day.

Its incredible to see the opportunities just presenting themselves. I’ve lived by those opportunities ever since. I always remember Derren Browns show about the secret of luck, facing my fear of injections (Belonephobia), facing the fear of rejection, going on dating shows and much more…

Lisa wanted to understand why this was happening and couldn’t accept that it was just “all part of the recovery”. She spent months researching the brain and its many functions, spending time with neurologists, neurosurgeons, neuro-researchers, neuropsychologists and patients at The National Hospital for Neurology and Neurosurgery.

Now thats really cool, if I hadn’t spent so much time in hospital and had the issues I had; I likely would have gone back to Salford Royal to thank the staff again years later. But spending time would have been amazing (too be fair it still would be).

With a heart filled with gratitude, Lisa will share with you the amazing things that she learnt about the brain, and how we are all capable of reprogramming our brains so that we can achieve greatness and euphoria.

I reflect back on a blog I wrote years ago, while trying to explain to others how different life was since. My parents always thought I’d want to forget about the whole thing but I refuse to forget. I didn’t put my cards away for a whole year and still have them stored away even now. It gives me power and brings a new emphasise to life. Some people near me noticed how much I changed and some couldn’t quite comprehend the changes.

Lisa and others have called it living a conscious life. Its something I’ve noticed in myself, but weirdly very fitting with some of the dyslexic advantages, especially living in the moment. It might not come as a surprise the doctors also found an increase in the right brain activity (usually commonly associated with dyslexics, I know this is massively contested!) in Lisas brain. This  reminded me of the early months after my brush with death, it was suggested by the professionals that I might have forgotten/unlearned a lot of my coping mechanisms for dyslexia. Almost switched back to my natural state of some kind?

It also reminds me I need to do more about writing my gratitudes down following Sarah Raad’s workshop at Thinking Digital Newcastle last year.

I honestly really enjoyed the talk and it was a joy to hear from someone else as interested in the brain/mind due to similar reasons…

My new years resolutions for 2018

Ian at Sarajevo Unilimited
Talking Object Based Media from the Sarajevo Unlimited stage

Its been 10 years since I’ve  blogging my new years resolutions and I’m still convinced its a good thing to do.

Following my review of last year… here’s my New Years Resolutions for 2018; which follows on from 2017, 2016, 2015, 2014, 2013, 2012, 2011, 2010.2009, 2008 ones.

  1. Take Kate out of her comfort zone
    Part 1 completed in Ireland in 2017, now its time for Japan or Hong Kong with a bunch of twists.
  2. Head further a field with the new scooter
    New Scooter, new waterproof wear, its time for a ride into Europe before the UK leaves Europe (said with a very heavy heart)
  3. Ride a roller coaster in another country
    Closely related to the previous one, its got to happen in 2018. I love them and its time to go further a field to see what others are doing.
  4. Go to a new part of the world
    Regular resolution and its a great one to have.
  5. See more comedy
    I can’t really believe I didn’t go to any comedy last year, got to make changes to include some comedy in 2018.
  6. Explore more about the brain using neuroscience
    Massively interested in the power, quirks and processing of the brain; from the dreams it creates to the way it processes memes. The recent talk reminded me how much I love this area. Certainly like to see more talks like that.
  7. Only eat artisan chocolate unless its Kitkat, Twix or Maltesers
    I like chocolate but I decided a while ago that I should only really eat a certain percentage or higher. My tolerance for lower cocoa is dropping and like my cocktail choices; its time to avoid the rubbish stuff. Chocolate tasting confirmed this and the cocoarunners subscription should offer enough to keep me away from the rubbish stuff. I decided I should give myself some outs.
  8. Do more with my Estonian e-residency
    I want to do more with my e-residency and its about time, I started using this state backed digital identity to do more. Even if its just signing documents as me.
  9. Make better use of the online services I have paid or invested in
    I have paid for quite a few services like Plex, Standard Notes, Trakt, etc. They have all passed the point of me thinking this is good and I should support it for what ever reasons. Certainly need to connect them up with local services like ttrss, etc using ifttt.
  10. Be more daring in matters of the heart
    Last year was a quiet year for me, mainly because I was away so much and frankly I’m quite disillusioned with the current online dating platforms. Its time to find something else. There has to be better and I need to find it.
  11. Explore the future of online dating
    Following on from the previous one… I have thought about this, written about this, talked about it and its time to try something.
  12. Decentralise more and use POSSE more
    Time to move away from these centralised services and look for open source alternatives which value a distributed, federated, loosely connected models. I take what I said about my role in Mozfest quite seriously. Started using Mastoden more and been using things like Standardnotes, Wallabag, etc… then syncing or publishing elsewhere under my own steam

Anaphylactic shock from walnut-based sandblasting

When I first heard this news

I was shocked and horribly sadden by the nature of what happened.

An Edmonton man died of anaphylactic shock after being exposed to a walnut-based product being used for sandblasting in the same building where he was testing air quality. On Oct. 2, David and Mabel Mathews received a call that their son, Justin Mathews, 33, had been taken to the University of Alberta Hospital.

When they arrived he was unresponsive, on a breathing machine and in a coma. “The doctors said 80 per cent of the brain is not active at all,” Mabel Mathews said.

Then came the tough decision to take him off life-support, as doctors had suggested. He died after being taken off a breathing machine five days later. Walnut dust prompted an anaphylactic reaction, causing Mathews’s throat to swell up and leaving him short of breath.

I always worry about being in a small room with any nuts, but to imagine the room being sandblasted with nuts is frankly terrifying.

MCR Talks: Neuroscience of Decision Making with Gabija

Dr. Gabija Toleikyte

Last time I went to a Funzing event I wasn’t that impressed (talk was good but the setup was a bit crappy) but I thought I’d give it another try as the Neuroscience of decision making is too good a talk to miss. I find the Funzing weird as its promoted through Facebook and after clicking the link you are led to the funzing site which isn’t as smooth as Eventbrite. Especially since you finally get your ticket only a hour or so before the actual event via email or text (which leads you to a funzing microsite)

The talk was in Texture (the cool nightclub venue in the northern quarter). The place was full of chairs and most was already sat on. Interestingly I would say its about a 65% female audience. Grabbing a odd chair with a drink after not spotting anyone I recognise (this is a good thing, getting out of your comfort zone).

Just before Dr. Gabija Toleikyte suggested, a early warm up exercise encouraging us to talk to the people around us and ask what brought them to the event. The woman behind me, was generally interested but not so interested in chatting. I turn to the woman in front of me and we talked for a while about her thoughts on the illusion of reality. I threw in my thoughts on memetics and we chatted for a while.

We also briefly talked about my brush with death,  and how I have  found a stronger interest in how the brain works and how we use.

When Gabija started with a proper warm-up she asked us to greet people next to us with a gesture of 1, 2 or 3 fingers. 1 being a hand shake, 2 being a bow and 3 being a hug. On giving the gesture, you have to pick the lowest number between the two. Most of mine were hugs and bows.

When Gabija started she ran through a lot of things in a short amount of time but broke it down in a easily digestible way. It was a good talk and based on a number of things I had heard or read but not really connected in this way… Here are the books I read which she mentioned.

Something new for me was the Triune Brain model

  • Lizard brain – lowest level regulates breathing, heartbeat, digestion, etc.
  • Mammal brain – system 1 regulates emotions, memory, habits, etc
  • Human brain – system 2 regulates rational thinking, learning, problem solving, assessing pros and cons

There is different decision making systems in the brain: slow (rational, system 2) and fast (intuitive, emotional, system 1) its about deciding which system is best as rational decisions with system 2 require a lot more energy. While system 1 is prone to the unconscious biases as its using pattern and basic logic. Emotions are important so we don’t get stuck with indecision; and understanding our emotions can help us to make better decisions. However emotions are quite different from mood which can distort decision making.

Lots to think about and well worth the money and time, thank you to Gabija and hope to check out her next talk about productivity.

Airbnb is weird because people are weird?

Stay wild stylised

Reading the guardian’s recent piece about Airbnb, I was taken by this paragraph.

No matter how glossy and cool the Airbnb advertising is, with all the shiny shots of people staying in Airstreams in Texas backyards or converted air-conditioned food trucks in New Orleans, staying in an Airbnb is weird because people are weird, and their lives are complicated, their routines idiosyncratic and their bookshelves are windows into their souls. Conversations are curious, and awkward silences are things to be negotiated. You cannot be on automatic pilot at an Airbnb because strange things happen in other people’s homes, on their patch, across their kitchen tables.

As I have written about previously, I have had my ups and downs with Airbnb. Mainly ups but also some weird experiences too, including 2 experiences with cheese in my fridge.

Its certainly makes for a interesting life.