Thumper’s Law

It has been a bit quite around here of late. Part of that is work but mostly it’s because of something I learned watching Bambi. Thumper’s Law states:

If you can’t say something nice, don’t say nothing at all.

happy-sad-faces

So, for the moment, I leave you to your own devices and look forward to reentering the fray momentarily.

Procrastination vs Productivity

No, this is not really a productivity post. More of a procrastination post. Let’s face it, most of them are. Sorry…. A little while ago I wrote a post on how I work and an important part of that was based around Evernote. While I’ve been stuck in my tiny human world, I’ve been oblivious to the perceived imminent downfall of said company/service. That changed yesterday when I was notified that they were changing the service. Again. I have been an Evernote user for over 4 years, but as soon as I finish backing everything up, I’m gone as well.

Harry Tuttle, Modern Cave Dweller, Evernote, OneNote, Productivity

First up, I use the free service, so it could be argued that I have nothing to complain about. Secondly, I’m going to complain. The complaint is obviously focused at Evernote, but it is applicable to an increasing number of companies in the digital age.

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To unplug, or not to unplug? That is the question.

Whether ’tis nobler in the mind to suffer the slings and arrows of outrageous fortunes, or to take arms against a sea of troubles, and, by opposing, end them?

We live in amazing times. To a fairly large extent we can thank science and technology for that. What do I mean by amazing? I mean that it is surprising where society is today, how we got here and the potential we have for the future. The key word in that last sentence was potential. Despite the progress made in quality of life, health, the ability to travel and communicate, to explore and ask big questions, something has gone, or is at least going, wrong. We could be doing so much better.

Harry Tuttle, Modern Cave Dweller, fight the good fight, swords, dark ages

Seriously, people, WTF? It is like we have collectively decided that what we really need is another “dark ages”. We are still sending the faithful to foreign lands to kill to save lives. We are constantly terrified, or should that be terrorfied? The faceless terrorists and terrorism conveniently taking the place of the wonderfully effective cold war threats of communism.

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Rumours of My Demise are Somewhat Premature

OK, so this is a bit of a cheat blog. I usually manage a blog post every month, so in the interests of maintaining my record – which only I actually care about – here we go. I don’t have a lot to say or enlighten you with, at least as I start to write this. I also don’t have an apology. I’ve been writing. A lot. And not as much as I’d like. It’s also been oriented too much towards science fact and not nearly enough science fiction. I’ve also not been “spending” quite so much time on social media, which is a bit of shame because there are actually a lot of interesting people and things happening there. So, why?

Harry Tuttle, Modern Cave Dweller, flying cars, drones, public transport

Why? More specifically, why am I spending more time writing and less time telling people about it? Sometimes you have those revelations as a writer, actually in any endeavour, when you realise that you’re not that good. I was editing a lot at the beginning of the year while I tried to put some short stories into presentable, publishable, shape. My conclusion? Conceptually, I liked, actually I still like, my stories. I have a few in the closet and they cover quite a diverse range of ideas and styles. Perhaps more importantly, my writing was lazy. I am not sure whether my science education helps in being able to take a step back and judge my own work without prejudice. Well, at least not too much.

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Where are we going? A conversation with myself.

Too pretentious as a title? One of me doesn’t care, at least not for the moment. So, today I’m taking on the role of all of modern society and asking myself the big questions, like, How long do we have left on the planet? Will we ever populate Mars? Will I ever get my flying car before personal transport becomes extinct? And, if time allows, why is most of the planet a slave population and why don’t they care?

Harry Tuttle, Modern Cave Dweller, flying cars, drones, public transport

Firstly though, is there any point asking the big questions? I’m currently being “entertained” by the presidential election process in the US, so questions like, how long do we have left on the planet? become irrelevant when the candidates seem to be bent on a programme of global destruction; environmentally, politically and economically. Given the fast-track nature of their plans, populating Mars in the short time that remains seems a little optimistic to worry about discussing as well. So that’s another one off the list…

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Work Less – Work More

So this year has seen me swamped by work. Again. Still…. I’d estimate that I’ve been working around 70+ hours a week since the start of the year. This is not the first time that things have been so out of control. It is not a badge of honour, I am not proud of this, nor do I encourage it. In response to this, and the long list of things I “need” to do this weekend, I’ve been reading about how and why we should reduce the normal work week to 3-4 days, 20-30 hours etc. There appears to be a realisation that this is primarily an option for the affluent, but there is also a growing awareness that significantly increasing the minimum wage and even moving to a unconditional basic income- everyone gets to survive – is an absolute must if this is going to be tenable for everyone.

Harry Tuttle, Modern Cave Dweller, Life Balance,unconditional basic income

The problem, which is not directly mine or yours, is where does the money come from? It would appear now that we, as a society, need to pay two people to do one job. The reality is actually that we have all been taking on more and more – for whatever reason, but usually need – and doing two jobs for one salary. People’s time has been devalued, especially those at the “bottom”. I’ve been at the bottom and I’ve worked plenty of crap jobs to survive, so I do not say that with any disrespect – we all do what we have to, and what we can, to survive. So all this requires is a shift towards paying people what they’re worth, rather than what the market can afford.

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Character Defining in a Flash

What makes a story? Obviously, the plot has to be there, but if the characters that have to convey this aren’t compelling, then it is all for naught. What makes a good character? Am I the right person to be telling you? Well, if you don’t know what makes a “good” character, go away and read and think and read and think, because I’m not going to tell you that here. In fact, I’m not going to tell you how to do anything. I’m going to share an approach, which I find both obvious and useful. In that sense it is not particularly novel, so think of it more as a reminder, or an endorsement.
Harry Tuttle, Modern Cave Dweller, Character, Writing tips

The problem with many ideas, not just for writing stories, is that they are in flux, they’re fluid, until they’re written down. There is something about writing down your thoughts that makes them solid and coherent. It is not enough to write bullet point lists, you need to construct proper sentences before the idea can be forced into being something coherent. If you are like me, still learning to write (who isn’t, really), then this approach also helps in that respect – because to be a better writer, you need to write. So we’re told.

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Reflections In

I’ve never been one for making New Year resolutions, but the end of the year, and a few days holiday, do give one the time to reflect. So reflecting I am. This year I complained a lot about time, specifically, the lack of it. Sorry. In the interests of full disclosure, I have been reliably informed that 2016 will not be coming with more time. Nor will time expander packs be available. More’s the pity.Harry Tuttle, Modern Cave Dweller, Life Balance,

It would appear that the only solution is to do fewer things. Which is exactly NOT what I am going to do. Seriously, I don’t respond well to “slow down”, “take it easy” or “don’t do so much” and similar expletives.

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I’m Harry Tuttle, Modern Cave Dweller, and This is How I Work

So, in the interests of getting to know me and given that LifeHacker are probably not going to ask me how I work, directly, I’ll just borrow the questions they typically ask – How I Work.

Location: Geneva, Switzerland
Current Gig: Scientist and Writer – mostly more science fact than science fiction recently but I’m trying to fix the balance.
One word that best describes how you work: Chaotically
Current mobile device: iPhone 6
Current computer: Macbook pro – getting a little old now but it’s running light and without distractions – for writing. The science gets a newer macbook air and there’s an ipad in there as well to replace paper.

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