Sunday, May 29, 2011

attention deficit

I'm surrounded by distractions. Twitter, RSS feeds, tumblr, the endless text messages, emails, phone calls and now, just to throw a little technological anachronism into the mix, now I have a fax machine on my desk. All this feels like a series of distractions competing for my attention, and I find myself trying (and more often than not failing) to multi-task so that I get through all the things I need to do in a day. I know I'm not alone in this, and it is obviously nothing new - all sorts of people have been writing about the dangers the saturation of modern technology pose to the minds of our precious children. Of course I never get past the first paragraph of any of these articles, so I have to imagine the dangers.

And imagine them I do, when I can concentrate long enough. I imagine that these articles are talking about the lack of time we have to think about things in any depth, and that we are increasingly forced to juggle, make snap decisions, absorb more and more information without ever taking the time to stop and analyse all this wonderful information that is suddenly at our beck and call.

I had a point here. I was going somewhere with this.

That's right. I keep feeling like these distractions distract me from the more important stuff I should be doing. But then I am so distracted that I can't work out what the important stuff is. I guess I'm just a man-child, still looking for that answer. What am I doing with my life?

Running as fast as I can from the idea that I might be wasting it.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Careers advice

Way back in the day, when I was a wee whippersnapper, knee high to a grasshopper, or as my sainted mother says "when I was a boy", I had a class in high school that was all about careers advice. All the usual stuff was covered - how to write a resume, why it was a good idea to turn up to an interview on time (or even 5 minutes early!) and all the standard job-market-preparation stuff. I don't remember much being said about putting some thought into which career might be appropriate. For all I know this was covered in great detail, but one look at my work history would indicate that I either missed that class, or more likely had completely tuned out and spent the hour carving Rollins Band lyrics into my folder. I was an angry young man for a couple of years there.

One thing I do actually remember was the teacher, whose name, if I recall correctly, was Mr. Virtue (is that even possible? How can that not be made up?). I remember that he had a penchant for creeping up on the Yr.12 kids smoking down near the bottom paddock in a bright red sweater vest that must have been visible from a low earth orbit. At any rate, Mr. Virtue told the class one day that in today's job market we, as the upcoming generation of employees, could not expect to land a job straight out of school and stay in essentially the same role for 40 years until we retired to a comfortable life on the pension. Rather, we should plan on having to retrain and change careers up to 3 times over the course of our working lives.

Once again, a quick glance over my work history might lead one to believe that this was one of the few gems of knowledge I actively took on board during my tenure (internment) at that particular school (penitentiary/rehabilitation centre). This is not to imply that I wasn't a good student. School work was one of the few areas I could retreat into, being neither particularly popular, athletic or funny, which was all that really mattered in that enlightened environment.

And yet here I am, rapidly approaching my 34th trip around the sun with nary a solid career path to either look back on with fondness, or look forward to with excitement. How is it that I have managed to effectively tread water for so long with out drowning? The mind boggles. It seems as though in my career choices I have channeled the mind of a 9 year old child in the candy aisle of a supermarket, clutching in a sweaty fist only enough money for a mars bar or a snickers, but not both.

So along these lines - very definitely so - I am applying for yet another degree. Clearly a Bachelors (admittedly only a BA, the ugly stepson of tertiary education) and a Masters of Science have helped me find financially and professionally rewarding work. Another Masters is exactly what I need. I guess (hope) that I may have learned something this time - I am applying for a degree with a vocational outlook. An MBA, so that I can become a captain of industry, wear pinstripe suits on a daily basis, and support myself and my family in the manner to which I have become accustomed (or at least aspire to).

Cue late night reading sessions about finance for managers, accounting practices and organisational behaviour. And the associated procrastination-driven blog posts.

Sunday, May 8, 2011


We've been living in the same house for a bit over 6 months now. I know that doesn't sound like much, but it feels like we've been coasting, just visiting for a long time now. It took us nearly three months to buy a bed, I think partially because we were still in this temporary phase and the act of purchasing large items of furniture would mean that we were staying.

We're also very picky. I've spent so much time surrounded by stuff that was just okay that I got sick of it. There is no reason not to have beautiful furniture. After we folded and bought a bed, we started to collect a few other bits and pieces - a coffee table that we had a local graffiti artist paint, a filing cabinet that got the same treatment (and made me ridiculously happy - my obsession with filing things away got the better of me there), a bookcase. We searched around for months for a set of bedside tables that we liked enough to commit to, to no avail.

Then a little while ago we made the decision (or more properly admitted that it was inevitable) that we would move back to Sweden. Europe suits us better, for a whole range of reasons. All of a sudden this furniture went from being just furniture (pretty furniture I'll admit, but essentially just stuff that fills up a room and gets covered with other stuff) to items that needed to be removed or sold, from things to things in the way. And then we bought a desk, a chair and two bedside tables (the latter of which I am increasingly fond of). And I realised that I had become that person, that we had become that couple. That couple who spend their free time browsing around the warehouses of second hand furniture dealers and auctioneers.

There is no hope.