Header image alt text

simon collis

musings of an omnivorous biped

If at first you don’t succeed…

Posted by Simon Collis on 2013/06/24
Posted in Comment  | Tagged With: , | No Comments yet, please leave one

…get a bigger hammer.

I saw this a lot, and while it’s an amusing saying, really it’s about trying something new, trying something different, not accepting the status quo.

Persistence, practice and perseverance pays off – in the end. (Alliteration always allows artful aphorisms too, don’t you find?)

If you try and write a play and you’re not as good as Shakespeare at your first attempt, don’t give up – he had more practice. If your first symphony sucks, well, even Mozart had to learn (even if he always was rather good at it.)

Keep trying.

And if at first you don’t succeed… yeah, finish this one your own way.

Rash purchases…

Posted by Simon Collis on 2013/06/23
Posted in Comment  | Tagged With: , , , | No Comments yet, please leave one

We all have that one thing we bought “by mistake”. The jacket that was too nice not to buy that doesn’t quite fit, the pair of shoes that pinch but are soooo nice…

You know the question “where does all the money go”? That, among other things.

That’s why I’m trying to start thinking about “conscious spending”: spend on the things you love, cut back mercilessly on those you don’t.

Sounds like a good plan to me.

And what inspired these thoughts? A rash purchase that resulted in my second one-star review at Amazon..

New projects…

Posted by Simon Collis on 2013/06/21
Posted in Comment  | Tagged With: , , , , | No Comments yet, please leave one

It’s always interesting to have new projects to work on. Currently I’m looking at one big one: it feels like sitting at base camp, looking into the cloudy sky at the snowy summit of Everest.

It’s a challenge. But one I’m ready for. Oh am I ever ready for this one.

You can treat life the same way. It’s either a grind, one problem after another, or it’s a series of challenges.

Treat it like a game and learn to enjoy it.

Every challenge you conquer – you’ve levelled up. You’ve gained experience points. You’re on the way to the title of Grand Exalted Master and High Pooh-Bar of Everything.

And when you’ve conquered Everest?

Sure, there might not be another challenge on the horizon as exciting, as glamorous, as rock ‘n’ roll right round the corner… but there’s something interesting waiting for you. And that climb? Tell the right people and doors will open.

That’s how to live.

(PS: I’m not really climbing Everest. That’s a simile. Or a metaphor. Or a cliche. Take your pick.)


Posted by Simon Collis on 2013/06/20
Posted in Comment  | Tagged With: , , | No Comments yet, please leave one

What’s the secret to good comedy?


It’s probably also the secret to good blogging.

Anyway, I’m experimenting with scheduling posts. 2am didn’t seem to be working so well (I picked it as the time my Twitter feed seemed to get the most active, but apparently that’s not the best time), so I’m aiming for 10.30am now.

Naturally, I’m not writing and posting these while I’m at work, you understand. That’s what the scheduler is for: write it now, post it when most of your audience is awake.

It’s not SEO… but hey, this is why early evenings is what telly people call “prime time”. That’s when most people are home and watching the TV…

Knowing yourself…

Posted by Simon Collis on 2013/06/18
Posted in Comment  | Tagged With: , , , | No Comments yet, please leave one

Knowing how your mind works is key to motivating yourself.

For example, I need clear deadlines and new challenges, so I work as a temporary worker. It keeps me motivated – I don’t feel trapped going to the same job day after day, and because of this I feel the need to deliver, and enjoy working on the projects that I have to do.

Ironically these days I’m probably not working on things that are as complex as I used to a few years ago, but I’m enjoying them more because there are deadlines, and probably because there is more pressure rather than less.

Some people don’t need or want that – they want a quiet life, they want job security.

This, of course, is not only fine, it’s good. Find what makes your working life work for you, what gives you job satisfaction, and follow that. It’s the only way to get through your working life.

Music is magic

Posted by Simon Collis on 2013/06/16
Posted in Comment  | Tagged With: | No Comments yet, please leave one

Somehow I’m reminded of a quote from the film of the 1970 Isle Of Wight festival. One of the stage hands says @music is magic, and we’re here to worship our new plastic gods.”

In the end, we treat all gods as plastic – or elastic, rather. We interpret things to seem what we want them to mean, regardless of the evidence. That’s confirmation bias, and we filter out things that don’t match our preconceived beliefs, while hanging onto the things that do.

Confirmation bias is counter productive: it’s like wearing blinkers as you go along, not seeing the things you don’t want to see. I live in a nice neighbourhood, so I ignore the beggar; I don’t feel well and it’s hayfever and I’ll ignore the temperature I have…

It’s a dangerous process, but unfortunately one that is hardwired into our “human programming”. Be wary of it.

Lesson for the day…

Posted by Simon Collis on 2013/06/16
Posted in Comment  | Tagged With: , | No Comments yet, please leave one

Don’t leave WordPress running for 24 hours with a post half written. When you finish it, WordPress will complain and… the post is gone!

My own fault for breaking my self-imposed daily post regime.



Posted by Simon Collis on 2013/06/14
Posted in Comment  | No Comments yet, please leave one

Debt can be a tremendously useful thing – I don’t know many people could have bought their own houses or started their own businesses without it – but it can also be a dangerous weapon. The fate of the Greek economy can attest to that.

I have my own personal credit crisis, and I suspect we all do. Basically, despite years of hard work, I’m still living pay cheque to pay cheque. It’s debilitating to realise you’re basically no more than one missed week from economic disaster, but it’s for a good reason – paying down debt. My debt burden has shrunk over the year, but again, not by as much as I would like.

Like all tools, credit needs to be carefully monitored, and spending, like most habits, needs to be watched lest it get out of control, as it so easily can.

The best advice I’ve seen in ages was on the blog Get Rich Slowly, and it counsels that what’s important isn’t so much how you pay off your debt, or what strategy you adopt, but having a system and sticking to it. It’s fine to talk of “consistency” and “finding what works for you”, but the truth is simple – be consistent in what you do and the results pay off.

Good advice for all of life.


Posted by Simon Collis on 2013/06/11
Posted in Comment  | No Comments yet, please leave one

Life will change for me soon, whether I like that or not. I’m coming to the end of the contract that I’m on, and I’ve been there for over a year.

Life is itself change, and if change comes to meet you and you’re not prepared for it, then you tend to get caught by surprise. So that’s one thing I changed by becoming a temp again – I took control of that and made sure that I was more in control of the changes by taking a risk and letting go of the strings of “job security”.

Ironically, my last two contracts have lasted longer than my last three permanent jobs… but that’s another story.

I took control of my life by releasing some of the control. Ironic, isn’t it?

What’s the value of what you do?

Posted by Simon Collis on 2013/06/09
Posted in Comment  | No Comments yet, please leave one

I’ve been thinking about value tonight. Basically I’ve been doing something quite difficult and time-consuming, but it’s the sort of thing that, because almost anyone can do it, attracts quite low wages. Whereas what I do for a living actually attracts quite high pay because people who can do it in the way that I do – come into a job, hit the ground running, and sit there for eight hours a day writing computer code – are in short supply.

But that’s nothing the do with the value of what I do, that’s just the price.

What I’ve been doing I’ve been enjoying tremendously, and it’s more productive than some of the things I usually do – playing Age of Empires, or Plants vs Zombies. And there will be a result to it, an output that I can keep.

So the value to me of what I do is something extra than my usual downtime because it’s productive, even if my hands (which aren’t used to doing this sort of thing) are aching like crazy.

And I think that’s the one of the keys to being happy – get the value out of your downtime.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I have an inflatable snowman to stuff