New York, New York

Freeway NYC

Moleskine entry: September 18th, 2009

Six hours ago I was landing at London Gatwick, fresh from the Lucozade Challenge of Yacht Racing around the Caribbean. Now, as I write, I’m on a flight back out to New York (from London Heathrow mind, that was interesting) with my darling girlfriend and I am happy. Tired. Exhausted. Travel weary. But ultimately, for the first time in such a long time, truly happy.

You might scoff if I were to tell you “it’s been a long, hard summer” given the adventures I’ve been on, the places I’ve seen and the things that I’ve done but really, as much as all that that has been awesome, it’s the bits inbetween that have been hardest.

Being away from home every other week for just shy of ten weeks creates a strange instability around things. Plans are harder to make, promises harder to keep. A constant state flux one might say.

Not counting the stress and strains that places on any kind of loving relationship, there was the whole work mess to deal with too. Halfway through the challenges, all that additional…. worry was not helping the situation at all. The time I was actually at home, I was spending the whole time working. Leaving me tired. So so tired.

Rest soon. And sleep. Sleep, beckoning so sweetly.

Sleeeeeep.

When does Batman sleep? – Part 2

This has been a long time coming…

A few months ago I posted Part One to discuss this question and its relation to the ‘always on’ generation that we seem to live in today. If like many others who find themselves working in this field, you are expected to be on call at every hour of the day…

Well no, let’s stop right there. Is it actually expected?

Or is it the case that you simply feel obliged?
You assume that that the expectation in there, when in fact it isn’t.

See?

I have written at length about the importance of humanity being at the heart of everything you do. The onus being placed on the term ‘being human‘ throughout my work is on purpose people.
The question asked above is not about the duality of Batman’s psyche, moreover about his pig-headedness about asking for help and his lack of self-forgiveness when he gets it wrong.

He is after all only human.
As are we all.

When things got tough the Bat brought in Robin and then soon after that, the Justice League. His skills, unique and awesome on their own, work considerably better when placed into a team of similar, like minded people (sharing an equal goal).

The point is, that developer guy that I mentioned?
He who I quoted way back when:

Sometimes, I find myself stuck in front of the laptop at like 10pm on a Sunday night. The kids are in bed, the wife isn’t far behind and there I am answering customer care questions over Twitter with some guy in Geneva! This isn’t my day job. I’m a developer. My question to you is Sir; when does Batman sleep?

This man, he cared about his company’s brand and (online) reputation so much that he took it upon himself to make things better on his own.

Much like the Caped Crusader, he fixed it himself, working solo and acting independently from his own company’s PR team and, just as Batman did with the Gotham City Police Department (GPD), both sides became infuriated.

However, it is written than the Dark Knight works best when he works with his friend and ‘colleague’, Commissioner Gordon, coordinating strategies that incorporate traditional routes & methods (like the GPD) as well as the new found tools of our erstwhile hero.

More things get done.

When I first started in this job, within weeks I was at loggerheads with the Director of Communications. Our very own Jim Gordon if you will. He wanted to vet every single message and blog post that was to be written and sent out. A stand up argument ensued which ended with me simply saying:

Invent a box of words…
Put in everything I can use and take out everything I can’t.


Then leave the box with me.

It took some time, but we got there in the end.
There are laws and rules as well as traditional ways of enforcing or adhering to them.

However, these days there are ways to play, push up against and generally find new parameters to work within these rules.
Call it operating under the radar if you will.

Batman doesn’t kill.
Something which he is continually pushed on.
He doesn’t go looking for trouble (at least not in the traditional sense of the word), but instead works within rules.
First those he sets himself, then later within those set by others.

It is at this point where our super hero can pause, his allies know his work and can defend it in his absence.
Yes that’s right, his absence.

I started this post with the intention of highlighting the often over-looked ideal of humanity on both sides of the coin.

Corporations can be human but so can consumers.

Yes, it’s great to be on call 24hrs a day, seven days a week, but your customers are not robots. If you don’t get back to them on a Sunday night, they’ll understand.

It’s all well and good being human, but never forget everyone else is too.

When Saturday Comes

So yesterday, during my epic blog of catchup, I found myself making some kind of outlandish statement that went along the lines of:

The mission from here on in – for now at least, (until I clear my back load), is to try and blog once a day. I need to get this thing moving and the more time that passes the more information I have stored up that I simply have to share

(plus theres the small matter of my head *actually* exploding if I dont get it all out soon)

And that is my promise to you dear and loyal readers.
Watch this space.
One post a day.

Starting.

Now.

At the time, obviously this felt like a fantastic idea and, although this isn’t me backing out already…
I must say that what with today being a Saturday and stuff…
Well…

It’s the weekend, innit?

I don’t know about you but I like to rest at the weekend. So, if you don’t mind – I’ll still keep to my guns, ‘One post a day Whatley’ will continue – but all the cool stuff, I mean – the really cool stuff – will come during the working week as it were. Y’know, Monday – Friday. That alright with you?

Cool.

And with that please excuse while I head back to My Happy Place…

See you tomorrow…
Maybe 😉

The Science of Sleep

This post is inspired by conversations that end with Zzzs

A long time ago, I used to suffer from really, really bad insomnia.
Really bad.

Night after night I would lay awake, staring at the ceiling, waiting for the sandman to take me and yet night after night I’d be lucky if I scraped two maybe three hours at best.
Not good.

A few days of this is enough to drive anyone crazy, but this went on for months.

Jack‘ nailed it best when he said:

With insomnia, nothing’s real.
Everything is far away.
Everything is a copy, of a copy, of a copy.

My then partner, who no doubt was being kept awake by my incessant restlessness herself, was fantastically supportive and eventually, when it finally started to have a knock-on effect on my working life, she insisted that we sorted this out as – if my work was going wrong, then the next thing after that would no doubt be our relationship…

So.

First thing first – We took the TV out of the bedroom.

I know this seems like a no-brainer, but at that time I didn’t even think about it. I could quite happily sit on the bed, watching TV, (back in the days when I actually watched TV anyway), for ages… It had a built-in video player so on the nights when the insomnia was really bad I’d just stick some Blackadder on or something. Yeah, ‘cos that helped.

After that – Lavender

Lavender spray on my pillows. Lavender bubble bath before bedtime…
Just lots and lots of lavender.

Next – Kalms… or more specifically, Valerian

We found the latter while doing research into natural treatments for sleep troubles etc… I steadfastly refuse to take any form of sleeping tablets and herbal remedies are about as far as I’ll go. The only thing that we could find in the UK that had Valerian in it were these tablets called Kalms. Two of those before bed every night to ‘relieve worry, irritability and stress’ and you’re sorted. Well I say ‘sorted’, I’m not entirely sure if they helped that much, but everything was so gradual.

Finally, and this is one of the biggest things for me by far – Associations.

So what does that mean?

Well, I’ve already mentioned that I took the TV out of the bedroom to aid in my search for slumber. That helped a lot. Not only with not keeping me awake via mere distraction but what it also did was stop me from just sitting on the bed… i.e.: Sitting and not SLEEPING.

Let me explain, y’see – when you allow this to happen, your brain kinda gets used to your bed being just another chair, or a rather in this instance; a big flat sofa, (one for sitting on, not for sleeping).

Once I’d realised this I point-blankly refused to go to bed unless I was so so so so so so SO tired I was falling asleep on my feet. That way, by eliminating all other activities bar sleeping, (TV, Reading, Nintendo etc.), from the bed I managed to train myself associate that physical environment and situation with sleep. Brilliant.

Looking back, this was probably the best thing that I did to get over my insomnia. Obviously the other ideas and actions were also contributing factors… But really, learning to move my work and play away from my place of rest was without doubt the best thing I could’ve done.

You might’ve noticed that the name of this blog is ‘this is my happy place’…
That stems from a number of reasons – all of which resonate quite nicely with the kind of guy that I try to be – but one of those reasons actually relates quite nicely to the accompanying picture…

I like sleeping.

Having had it gone from my life for such a long time I now have the utmost respect for sleep as an activity… and dedicate proper time to it as often as needed.

This isn’t to say that I am lazy, not by any stretch. I just know when I need to rest.

Tying off with associations is a good way to bring this back to my inspiration for this post. I have this habit, when talking on the phone late at night, of falling to sleep mid-conversation.

I kid you not.

I must’ve lost count the amount of times I’ve woken up to find a phone in my hand wondering what the hell was going on. It makes me laugh every time it happens but the caller on the other end tends to get quite miffed. Heh.

Word to the wise – if we’re speaking late at night and I say:

‘Ok, cool. Just headed to bed, will call you back shortly…’

Just. Say. No.

The chances are I will fall asleep…

😀

Night night.

Catching up through the fog of jetlag

Greetings one and all! I’ve just got back from the States and I am shattered.

UK –> Dallas –> Las Vegas –> San Francisco –> UK

…and breathe…

Had to fly to Las Vegas for a work thing see
via Dallas.

Rather amusingly, it being the first ever flight from LHR (London Heathrow) to DFW (Dallas, Fort Worth) the Boeing we travelled in was given a welcome ‘hose down’ by the airport’s fire trucks…

I didn’t get a picture of that – but I found another example

Anywhoo – Vegas.
Woah…

Nice place to visit and wotnot but I’d never wanna live there. Jeez.

I stayed at The Palms Hotel/Resort/Casino… The one where we held Mobile Geeks of Las Vegas… aka Mobile Geeks of London ON TOUR. What a fantastic night THAT was. Huge props to Mr Jeb Brilliant of Brilliant Expos for making that happen… and for also swinging it so we could just walk straight into the club/bar in the next tower. Nice work.

So yeah – What else did I get up to?

  • Took part in the ‘Mobile Web Jam Session’ – That was cool. Good people in the room. Same old same old problems mind…
  • Hung out with some cool folk – Namely: Darla, Amir, Jeb, Carlo, Rafe and Ewan. Carlo is actually insane enough to live in Vegas. But you wouldn’t think of it to know him. 🙂
  • Joined a Blogger round table regarding the future of mobile; thought about a Facbook Phone – I’ve already written up my thoughts on that.
  • Broke my shoes. Twice. Fixed the first pair, replaced the second.
  • Saw ‘some’ parts of Vegas. Not loads. Well… I saw the outsides of some of the more elaborate hotels.
  • And that’s kind of it really…

This was me, on the last day of the show, having just sat down and relaxed for the first time in about five days…

Not soon after this pic was taken I flew to San Francisco…
There’s more to come soon, I just need to get some shuteye…

Night night.

Zzz…

Harassed & Stressed

*Yawn*

Morning all – I am shattered.
Didn’t get much sleep last night and this morning I managed to oversleep.
Brilliant.
Then I get to the tube station only to discover that the travelcard on my Oyster has run out.
Brilliant.
Not only that but I also don’t get paid until tomorrow.
Excellent.
So I queue up to try and get it topped-up, half an hour later, my debit card fails.
Why? See previous point.
Fantastic.

What am I to do?

Well – at this point I had a good mind to turn around, go home, back to bed and sod the rest of the day off.
But no – I persevered – I managed to get through the barriers (just). Sneaky I know but I called my friend Alex to have a good moan and she insisted that I had no choice but to get myself to work (cheers Bongo, if you’re reading this).
So fifteen more mins later (when the tube finally turned up) I climb aboard a sardine tin-esque tube carriage…

..and off to work I went.

[EDIT: Just noticed the gormless looking dude over my right shoulder, on the bottom-left of the pic – brilliant – hahaha]

Note – my tube is NEVER that busy in the mornings.
What an absolute pain in the arse. GRRR!

Anywhoo – I’m at work now.
Ranting coming to an end.
Dunno what I’m gonna do about getting home yet – should be interesting.
Maybe I’ll work really late and sleep under my desk – that’s not a bad idea….

Oh – and on top of that – I’m moving house this weekend apparently.
Must start packing soon!

Like butter spread over too much bread…

Evening all…

It’s around 6pm – I’m falling asleep at my desk.
Too many late nights and early mornings.

I work hard and I play very hard.

My skin feels crap and oily and mank.

Tonight I have duties to attend to but I’m deciding against them – falling back on the old phrase that you should stick to your responsibilities as long as they are:

“Without detriment to yourself or your connections”

Well – I am shattered.

I have a headache (which I never get),
I’m all spotty and horrible, (no good for the ladies – obviously),
Tonight I was supposed to be going out but instead I am going to go home to bed.

I. Need. Sleep.

Big catch up blog to come soon – I promise.

It’s just.. Ok – Here we go:

Monday night I saw my mate Liv.
Tuesday night I had rehearsals for Our Country’s Good.
Wednesday night I saw a lovely lass named Selina.
Thursday night (tonight) I’m supposed to be out but I can’t see it happening.
Friday night I’m going Karaoke with my family on Canvey then into Basildon with my Sister.
Saturday night I’m in Westcliff Casino celebrating my friend Bodger’s birthday.
Sunday I have to be back in Twickenham for 11am for more OCG rehearsals.

And that’s just this week.

Obviously I work Mon-Fri too. Hard.
I’ve never worked so bloody hard in my life.
Especially on something that I actually believe in and care about.
It’s MENTAL!
But hey – they pay me to play with Mobile Phones.
Winner.

Right – I’m going home to bed now.
Take it easy folks – I may post later if I can’t sleep.

N’night…

PS:

This is a new blogspot that Nemi and I have setup.
Check it out…

Why Don’t Grownups Get It?

It’s only young so there’s not much content – but it’ll grow.

Til next time.

This weekend I’m going down to Essex to see friends and family.