bookmark_borderBye bye Weekend Reading

“The time has come,” the Walrus said, “To talk of many things: Of shoes–and ships–and sealing-wax– Of cabbages–and kings– And why the sea is boiling hot– And whether pigs have wings.”

The Walrus and The Carpenter by Lewis Carroll

The first Weekend Reading was posted on 16th May 2015; the idea spun out of a series I used to compile for my ‘other’ blog (which has since been closed and rolled into this one), where I would post a list of the most interesting technical communications and design articles I’d read that week. When I closed that blog down, and changed careers, I started finding other sources and articles and it seemed obvious to pick up where I’d left off, just with a more general interest world view (well, my general interests, and my world view, but hey this is my blog!).

I’ve always been a big reader and in the early days of the internet email newsletters were a great way to hear about new sites that had started up and, even though we were all excited about this new fangled thing called weblogging, it turns out the step from IRC groups to common interest newsletters wasn’t much of a leap.

Fast forward many years and my last change of jobs meant a commute as a passenger and, with an extra hour each day, I started to seek out other sources to widen my reading ‘filter’ and stumbled across a few sources that I still read to this day (links below) and which have provided the majority of the links I’ve shared.

Where previously I’d hand-crafted each post for the old blog, starting up Weekend Reading on this site gave me a chance to get my geek on!. I created a little automated workflow that took the articles I added to Pocket, fed them through IFTTT to a text file on Dropbox, with that file picked up by a ‘Workflow’ (now Shortcuts app) routine that would search and replace various HTML tags, before creating a draft post ready for me to add my comments too.

And so it was for the last couple of years; Through the week any articles I wanted to share with you were add to my Pocket account and on a Friday I ran the ‘shortcut’ to populate the list of links, with a placeholder “comment” ready for me to edit. Simple.

3 years and 161 posts later and I think it’s time to admit that this is now more of a chore than I’d like. Sure it’s all automated, but over the past few months I’ve started searching out and filtering what I read knowing that it will appear in these posts, and that’s not why I’m doing it. It isn’t supposed to be a chore, it’s just supposed to be an extension of what I already read, and it no longer is.

As always, this may not be a permanent goodbye, but equally I’m aware that a hiatus can quickly become the norm so, for now, presume there won’t be any more Weekend Reading posts.

To everyone who read them, who commented and replied, I hope you enjoyed them as much as I did. And don’t worry, I’m not leaving you high and dry for, without doubt, Weekend Reading would not have existed, nor been as electic, if not for the following websites and newsletters, I heartily recommend you subscribe to them:

And, with that, I will wish you all a wonderful 2019 when it arrives. So long, and thanks for all the fish!

P.S. If you still wanna see what I’m reading, you can follow along via your favourite RSS reader – here’s the link to my Pocket feed. (caveat: I use this to capture all sorts of articles, recipes, gift ideas and more).

bookmark_borderWeekend Reading

  • What Was Inside the Glowing Briefcase in Pulp Fiction?
    Before I started making my own web pages, I spent a not-insignificant amount of my time on the Internet trawling the newsgroup for bits of knowledge about Quentin Tarantino, Pulp Fiction, and Reservoir Dogs.
    Fascinating! (well not really, but still

  • iPad Pro (2018) Impressions
    (to the tune of Rudolph the Red-nosed Reindeer) You know ‘Ticci and Gruber, @panzer and Ritchie… Marco and Jason, Joe and Rosemary… But do you recall, the most famous YouTuber of all? MKB(in)HD, had a very shiny Pro… Um, so, yeah.
    My favourite kind of review is one written by ‘real people’. 
  • In Defence of Hate
    Hate can be valid and powerful, but far often it’s misused and misguided.

  • American Women of the Far Right
    In the run-up to the violence last year around the Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, a woman named Erika, who is active in the white supremacist group Identity Evropa, was busy posting on Discord, an app originally used by gamers but used at that time by some on the far right.
    Important to remember, that there are all genders involved in this. The men are the figureheads, but there are many other people supporting them.

  • Your City Has a Gender and It’s Male
    Why city designers are increasingly thinking about the female perspective. I have a secret to tell you about my city,” she says. “It has to do with what Eve Ensler calls the feminine cell.” It was the autumn of 2016.
    Rings true for Glasgow.

  • Thanks David Dimbleby. Now maybe Question Time can get with the times
    Imagine the joy of turning to David “Brexit will be a walk in the park” Davis, live on TV, and saying: “Some people might think you ARE the joke about Brexit.” Last night David Dimbleby showed why he has been able to choose his own abdication date.
    Not a show I watch because UGH.

  • Not Here to Dance
    This is the story of the greatest night of my entire life. This is about a moment from the Ballon d’Or ceremony that I will never forget, even if I lived 200 years. It has nothing to do with dancing.
    Yes to this. Sport is so very visible, and men are still such jackasses.
  • How I Quit Apple, Microsoft, Google, Facebook, and Amazon
    It was just before closing time at a Verizon store in Bushwick, New York last May when I burst through the door, sweaty and exasperated. I had just sprinted—okay I walked, but briskly—from another Verizon outlet a few blocks away in the hopes I’d make it before they closed shop for the night.
    tl:dr; it’s very very hard.

  • This is What Happens to Kids’ Brains When They Talk To Alexa
    While I bathe my 3-year-old daughter Marty each evening, we use Alexa to play music — usually a head-spinning rotation of her three favorite songs from Frozen.
    Pause for thought. We really don’t know the longer reaching implications for so much of the technology we use these days.
  • The technology that could end traffic jams
    We’ve all been there. Stuck at traffic lights that never seem to change to green. Sitting in queues of cars that stretch on for miles or delayed by a glut of slow traffic that suddenly disappears. Traffic jams are a blight on our modern, fast moving lives.
    A real bugbear, I know this technology exists, let’s use it!
  • Tibet Is Going Crazy for Hoops
    It was within such a village, Zorge Ritoma, that Dugya Bum, a sheep and yak herder from the Golden Stone Clan, took up the sport.
    Zen basketball, see also; Chicago Bulls of the late 80s.

  • The Endurance of A Christmas Carol
    On January 2, 1840, Dickens wrote to his printers, Bradbury and Evans, to thank them for their annual Christmas gift of a turkey. He chose his words with care:
    What’s this, what’s this! A christmas article!

  • Year in Pictures 2018
    It was a year of populist rebellions and political stare-downs. China’s ambitious expansions raised hackles and pollution levels. Trade patterns were upended, and long-standing bans were lifted. Women gained power, and refugees fled violence and starvation.
    A picture tells… etc etc

  • The Rise of Anxiety Baking
    Last winter, a recipe for salted chocolate-chunk shortbread cookies spread through my social circle like a carbohydrate epidemic. One of my friends kept seeing the cookies pop up on Instagram and, relenting to digital peer pressure, eventually made them.
    Makes sense. I do enjoy baking, although mostly the eating part at the end.

  • Real Christmas trees are the greener choice
    A fake Christmas tree has some obvious advantages over the real thing. There’s no sticky sap. No needles shedding everywhere.
    We always had a fake tree. Time to review that choice.

  • Prime and punishment
    Last August, Zac Plansky woke to find that the rifle scopes he was selling on Amazon had received 16 five-star reviews overnight. Usually, that would be a good thing, but the reviews were strange.
    Is Amazon too big to legislate?

  • 12 Reasons To Ditch The Diet Mentality
    It’s the end of the year, which means resolution season is right around the corner.
    Yes to this! Although I may have gone a little too far into the ‘not giving a shit what I eat’ zone…

  • The Story of Dyngo, a War Dog Brought Home From Combat
    It was late—an indistinguishable, bleary-eyed hour. The lamps in the living room glowed against the black spring night. In front of me was a large dog, snapping his jaws so hard that his teeth gave a loud clack with each bark. His eyes were locked on me, desperate for the toy I was holding.
    What is it with stories about dogs… *sniff*

bookmark_borderNo plans for 2019

I’m not a fan of New Year resolutions. I’m more of a mind to do things as and when I want to do them, knowing that if I try and force a new habit, or a change to my life, based on an arbitrary date it’s more than likely to fail. This is based on previous experiments over many years, hey, I’m a slow learner.

It’s circumstance rather than calendar that has me looking forward to the next few months into 2019 and the changes that I know it will bring, so yes, I have plans and I know they will happen but these are not resolutions. Far from it.

So, in 2019…

  • I plan to get outside more, including tackling my first Munro.
  • I plan to get on my bike more, including doing Pedal for Scotland again.
  • I plan to get to move more (gym, walking, cycling) and take better care of my body (currently fighting ITB issues again).
  • I plan to find a new job as my current contract finishes in April.
  • I plan to go to New York in June.
  • I plan to move as my current flat is too small.

There is also the small matter of my sisters wedding next year, which I’m partly using as a ‘target’ for some of the more health oriented plans.

In the past, I’d already have started planning these things in great detail, falling into my usual habit of doing ALL the research; What walking boots should I buy? Which Munro is best for a first time? What time of year? Do I sign up for a different gym, or different classes? Whereabouts would it best to move? What hidden attractions can I find in New York?

But I’m not and it’s probably the biggest change I’ve noticed within myself this past year, a sign that I’m more relaxed, happier, and content to go with the flow. There are many reasons for this, it’s not all down to me, but I’ve worked hard to get to this point.

I know that all of these things will happen next year at some point and while some of them are date specific (Pedal for Scotland, the end of my current contract, the trip to NY) the rest are all down to circumstance and will happen when they happen and hey, if they don’t happen then c’est la vie.

I’m excited for the new year arriving, and no matter what happens I already have a feeling that it will be a good one. Bring it on, 2019!

bookmark_borderWeekend Reading

  • 12 Insider Secrets from Restaurant Kitchens (That You Can Use at Home)
    When it comes to top-notch restaurants, head chefs often rack up the attention and acclaim. But ask anyone who has worked behind the scenes in restaurants and they’ll tell you: The cooks are the ones who make the kitchen run.
    A couple I knew, a couple are new. Always learning!
  • The problem with ‘good men,’ according to comedian Hannah Gadsby
    Several celebrities were still milling around when Hannah Gadsby arrived at the microphone, so the Australian comedian — no stranger to letting her audiences wrestle with discomfort — waited a few awkward minutes for everyone to take their seats at the “Hollywood Reporter Women in Entertainmen
    Always learning. Hannah has a wonderful way to frame these things. So obvious, so true. (so guilty of this still).
  • Exercise Wins: Fit Seniors Can Have Hearts That Look 30 Years Younger
    We know we need to exercise for our health, but a lifelong exercise habit may also help us feel younger and stay stronger well into our senior years.
    No YOU are making resolutions for 2019…
  • How to Poach an Egg and Leave a Marriage
    If I can poach an egg, maybe I won’t have to leave my marriage. The thought didn’t come to me fully formed. Whether it was an accident or not, the sudden and unbidden urge to poach an egg coincided with the realization I was thinking about divorce.
    Wonderful article. Great advice. Seriously, give it a read.
  • The Race to Understand Antarctica’s Most Terrifying Glacier
    Few places in Antarctica are more difficult to reach than Thwaites Glacier, a Florida-sized hunk of frozen water that meets the Amundsen Sea about 800 miles west of McMurdo.
    Always fascinated by exploration and science. Although this is getting scary. What if…
  • Bao, a Heartwarming Short Film from Pixar
    Bao, a short film by Domee Shi, was shown in front of The Incredibles 2 at theaters this past summer. In “Bao,” an aging Chinese mom suffering from empty nest syndrome gets another chance at motherhood when one of her dumplings springs to life as a lively, giggly dumpling boy.
    Ohhh Pixar. How you make me greet!
  • Marmite sprouts? Why retailers are pushing the boundaries with festive food
    Many readers will find the thought of Christmas tree-flavoured crisps revolting, but Iceland is betting its customers will feel the opposite this festive season.
    I, for one, welcome our Sprout flavoured crisps, but it is starting to get a bit silly, no? I like festive food that is traditional, don’t change it!
  • Showering Has a Dark, Violent History
    The 19th century was a time of great innovation in plumbing. Cities got the first modern sewers, with tunnels that snaked for miles underground. Houses got bathrooms, with ceramic toilets, tubs, and sinks that you would easily recognize today.
    I had a shower this morning. It was NOT like this.
  • Holland Tunnel’s holiday decorations are ‘OCD nightmare’
    ‘Tis the season for obsessing! A frustrated Manhattan driver is on a mission to rearrange the cluttered holiday sign above the Holland Tunnel — which is causing commuters’ OCD to flare up like crazy, he told The Post Tuesday.
    Ha! Oh dear.
  • “Baby, It’s Cold Outside”
    Educate yourself on the origins on this song, why it might be a feminist anthem, and why we all maybe need to give history a free pass sometimes. Maybe?
  • Demon Underneath John DeLorean and the Invention of the Future
    Long before Elon Musk, a visionary automaker showed how ugly the American Dream could be. In Zachary DeLorean’s little house on Detroit’s Near East side they speak Rumanian. Zachary is from Bucharest. Zachary has a way with machines but his poor English holds him back.
    I look forward to the day these articles are written about women. (and yes that is a carefully considered comment).
  • Four Days Trapped at Sea With Crypto’s Nouveau Riche
    Draw me your map of utopia and I’ll tell you your tragic flaw.
    Wonderful writing as always. This entire bitcoin ‘thing’ is just a … well I don’t even know what the word is. clusteregofuck?
  • 14 Months, 120 Cities, $2 Billion: There’s Never Been a Company Like Bird. Is the World Ready?
    The first 10 Birds descended on Santa Monica, California, in early September 2017. Within days, this small migration became more like an invasion.
    Not spotted them in Glasgow, yet… this is disruption at a grand scale. Horrific? Inevitable?
  • Meet the Safecracker of Last Resort
    Charlie Santore sees Los Angeles from the inside, by breaking into safes whose owners can no longer unlock them. The house was gone, consumed by the November 2018 Woolsey Fire that left swaths of Los Angeles covered in ash and reduced whole neighborhoods to charcoaled ruins.
    Safe crackers and pick pockets. Both exist in that same odd space for me, wrong, but excitingly magic.
  • Virgin Galactic makes it to space
    Virgin Galactic, the space-tourism company backed by Richard Branson, sent two astronauts into space, the first people to make the trip from American soil since the last Space Shuttle flight in 2011.
    I’ll let you make your own Virgin in space jokes…

bookmark_borderDance your cares away

I’m not always in the mood for dancing (sorry Nolan Sisters) but when I am, I do enjoy throwing some shapes, even if they are slightly awkward and inflexible looking ones. The rush of endorphins when a favourite song comes on and you lose yourself to the beats and rhythms never fails to make me happy. It’s the type of thing I don’t do enough of, but whenever I do I promise myself I won’t leave it so long again.

And so last Saturday found me excited to spend the night bopping and shimmying my heart out, along with a couple of hundred other be-headphone people, at the wonder that is the Silent Disco. What a great night it was too, bringing back fond memories of my first encounter with this wonderful type of event, a few years ago at Glastonbury.

~wibbly wobbly timey wimey ~

Glastonbury is a big place, and we had been on our feet most of the day. Exploring on the Thursday is a good way to get the lay of the land, figure out what is where (they move some things around almost every year) and just get into the festival spirit. The mass crowds don’t arrive until early the next morning, so it’s a calmer, less busy time and we’d been enjoying wandering around in the sunshine. By Thursday evening we’d had enough of exploring and decided to meander back to the tent (all the better to prepare ourselves for the long weekend of music and frivolity ahead).

We headed back through the Silver Hayes area and ahead of us, in one of the open sided dance tents, we could see some people dancing away inside. We were a distance away so couldn’t hear any music so it wasn’t until we got closer that we realised there was no music coming from that tent at all. How weird! Peering through the dusk we could see that everyone inside had lights glowing from their heads like some weird alien takeover. Some were green, some were blue, others were red.

Then it struck us, Silent Disco!!

We hustled over, paid our deposits, donned the headphones and wandered into the tent, a little bewildered but already itching to dance.

And ohhhh It was utterly joyous. The false privacy afforded by headphones means you truly are able to dance like no-one is watching (just close your eyes) and any interactions with other people were mostly through gestures. It’s such a simple idea, push a button on the headphones to pick between three channels of DJ and dance your heart out! And so we did, for over 4 hours before we gave up around 2am, exhausted but so happy.

So I was genuinely excited to be going to a silent disco again, and see how well it translated from the sunshine evenings of Glastonbury, to a cold dark winter night in Glasgow. Answer; very well indeed!!

Of course a silent disco is anything but – slipping your headphones off you can hear the cacophony of people singing along – yet it brings a wonderful camaraderie; a shared moment of delight when you and the people dancing next to you have just switched channels and your favourite song has just come on, the bewildering joy of trying to figure out what song THAT person is dancing to, and which song THAT person is singing along to with their head thrown back and arms reaching up to the sky.

Dance like no one is watching, love like you’ve never been hurt; sing like no one is listening, and live like it’s heaven on earth.

And, dear reader, I did and as we roll towards 2019 I’m more determined than ever to continue to do so.

bookmark_borderWeekend Reading

  • Meet Alexa: inside the mind of a digital native
    Alexa was choosing a dress for a party. It was taking a while. This always happens, she gets carried away with every little thing.
    Not THAT Alexa…
  • Social Media, Online Accountability, and the Meaning of an Apology
    Still so much to learn about how to ‘be’ online.
  • Bad sex award 2018: the contenders in quotes
    “Empty my tanks,” I’d begged breathlessly, as once more she began drawing me deep inside her pleasure cave. Her vaginal ratchet moved in concertina-like waves, slowly chugging my organ as a boa constrictor swallows its prey.
    So so SO very bad.
  • How to stop your brain’s addiction to bad news
    Turn on the news these days and you’d be forgiven for thinking the world is about to end. From politics to climate change to the economy, negative and bad news surrounds us everywhere we go. The problem isn’t just that there are terrible things happening around the world.
    Worth a thunk. I do some of this already without even realising, self-protection!
  • Patagonia Donates $10 Million Trump Tax Savings to Green Groups
    Outdoor clothing company Patagonia Inc. has committed the $10 million it saved from federal tax cuts championed by President Donald Trump to nonprofit groups who work on conservation and climate issues, according to a LinkedIn post by Chief Executive Officer Rose Marcario.
    Wonderful. The more I think about the things I buy, the more I care about the people who make them.
  • 14 Expert Ways To Tell If Clothes Are Well-Made Or Super Cheap
    As per above, care about your clothes.
  • Royal Mail delivers: Postman, can you take this to heaven?
    A 7-year-old Scottish boy who sent a birthday card to his father in heaven has received a heart-warming reply. The Royal Mail’s Sean Milligan wrote back, saying, “This was a difficult challenge avoiding stars and other galactic objects on route to heaven.
    Awwwww bless.
  • Michelle Obama On Lean In: ‘That Shit Doesn’t Work All the Time’ 
    In a December 1 appearance at Brooklyn’s Barclays Center to promote her new book, Becoming, Michelle Obama said what we’ve all been thinking about the concept of having it all: it’s a great big lie.
    This woman will not be denied. Can you imagine her as President?

  • Neuroscience Says Listening to This Song Reduces Anxiety by Up to 65 Percent
    New neuroscience research helps us maintain a work-life balance, handle job stress, increase success and wellbeing, and experience more happiness.
    Hmmm bit of a fake headline (the song was MADE to be this way, and you won’t have heard of it!)
  • The 100 greatest innovations of 2018
    Artificial intelligence mastered a lot of tasks in 2018. There are algorithms that win human debates, book dinners, eliminate checkout lines, tend gardens, spot plumbing leaks, and call for help when we trip and fall. But the machines aren’t completely taking over just yet.
    What the… I did not know a lot of these.
  • Ada Hegerberg: first women’s Ballon d’Or marred as winner is asked to twerk
    Luka Modric ended a decade of dominance by Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo in the Ballon d’Or but the Croatian’s win was overshadowed when the inaugural winner of the women’s award, Ada Hegerberg, was asked to twerk live on stage by the host DJ, Martin Solveig.
    MEN! FFS, just stop. And why did she have to dance at all?
  • ‘It’s a man’s problem’: Patrick Stewart and the men fighting to end domestic violence
    Patrick Stewart was five years old when his father returned from the second world war to wage his own war on his wife.
    Could not agree more. Domestice violence of any form needs to stop.
  • The Last Curious Man
    Chris Bourdain is searching for a word that he cannot quite find. We’re sitting together in a small café in Grand Central Terminal, drinking table wine and talking about his late older brother, Anthony.
    Now the hubbub about him has quietened a little, some more thoughtful articles are appearing.
  • Do People Who Get Knighted by the Queen Get Anything for It?
    Michael S. asks: Do people get anything when they’re knighted by the Queen?
    Unfortunately yes. But hey, feel free to spend my tax money on this bullshit why don’t ya!
  • Beneath the Surface of Bruce Springsteen
    The first time I meet Bruce Springsteen is backstage at the Walter Kerr Theatre in New York, where he is in the homestretch of performing his one-man show, Springsteen on Broadway.
    Actual legend. Not a massive fan of his music but seems like a genuinely wonderful human.
  • Finally, the Self-Driving Car
    Across Arizona Avenue from Waymo’s self-driving-car showroom sits the Crowne Plaza San Marcos hotel, which is allegedly haunted. According to employees and guests, the ghost can move plates, knock phones off cradles, even—helpfully!—fold clothes.
    And so it begins.
  • 52 things I learned in 2018
    This year I edited another book, worked on fascinating projects at Fluxx, and learned learnings.
    Again with the learning of things I did not know. I love lists like this.
  • The story behind an incredible sky scene in New Hampshire
    Mother Nature must have liked it, because she put five rings on it! This was the surreal scene Saturday morning at Franconia Notch in New Hampshire.
  • Who decides what words mean
    Decades before the rise of social media, polarisation plagued discussions about language. By and large, it still does. Everyone who cares about the topic is officially required to take one of two stances.
    A hot topic if ever I heard one.
  • Big tech has your kid’s data — and you probably gave it to them
    Many parents today enjoy posting about their family on social media. But along with those adorable photos, they are sharing crucial data about their children that big tech companies are harvesting.
    One for the new and soon-to-be parents. Shouldn’t we be letting the kids make that decision when they are old enough?
  • Lunch with M.
    One afternoon last month, a woman in her early thirties, with shoulder-length blond hair and large brown eyes, arrived at Jean Georges, on the ground floor of the Trump International Hotel, in midtown Manhattan.
    I don’t think I’ve ever been to a Michelin starred restaurant. Sounds fun though.