Be your own best counsel with pattern disruption (notes to my kids)

I was working with a young film maker the other day who told me he ‘didn’t want to learn too much’, just in case he became troubled about the world through this potential new-found knowledge. Well, I guess I can understand that. I used to feel the same. When you open your eyes and look past the automatic thoughts that adults, society, government, TV, the internet offer you it’s difficult sometimes to see past the ‘noise’ of intellectual chatter – that goes double for bad boy posturing and girly gossip (or vice versa).

The thing I’ve found over the years is that you will inevitably get caught in cognitive traps – believing what other people tell you when you know through either experience, knowledge or insight that the belief in question is either just plain wrong or a little bit fuzzy round the middle. And you will stress about things whatever your level of intellect. So here’s my best advice to cope with the fear of overload:

Test yourself. Put yourself in a situation that scares you, regularly. That way you’ll raise the stakes on what you call stress and cope with overload more easily.
Say ‘fuck it’ regularly. Find something you think is really important and just shout out ‘Fuck it!’ Go on try it you’ll feel better for it. Now do that for the rest of the day. Sometimes you just need to cut yourself a break and let go. This western mantra is simply the Buddhist principle of ‘letting go’ if that makes you feel any better. It doesn’t? Well fuck it anyway!
Disrupt patterns. If you always catch the bus to school, walk it for a change. Then take a different route every day. If you only ever wear assassin black, try something pink. Go on be bold. It’s been shown that insight comes from allowing multiple pathways for understanding to be built in the brain. The most adaptive types of people (successful types if you’re into self-help) use multiple maps of the territory in order to be most effective. Try this: if you’re an atheist go to church for a month. If you’re religious go without god and be a moral being without a handy checklist for a month. If you always argue, let the other person win for a whole day. If you’re always serious learn a cheesy joke every day and then tell it to someone! Watch what happens.
It’s true because… If someone tells you something and it just doesn’t ring true, say a politician with a new stat, a new medical break through, some well-worn piece of economics dogma, a, conspiracy theory, whatever. Then go and find out for yourself what is true. I tried this first with a a secretive group of people called the Bilderbergers who, depending on who you read were either the secret rulers of the world or a piece of disinformation invented by the CIA. Neither were true, but they do exist and wield a lot of power. But this  little gem will work for you with any part of life. Sometimes you’ll find out that nobody knows the answer but by asking questions you may, and that then makes you the expert.

In summary: find things out for yourself, disrupt patterns, say ‘Fuck it’ and let go, test yourself and know your abilities.

Here endeth the babble kids.

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How to stop anxiety and suffering…a simple algorithm (notes to my kids)

Will gurn for pennies

If you find you’re suffering anxiety all the time, consider this simple pseudo-algorithm and how it applies to your thought processes. I wrote it for myself and put it on my desktop. I find it useful for those ‘stuck’ periods and working through the traps of self-manufactured pain, so:

suffering = pain x reaction (s = p x r)

eg (where 5 is highest):

s(max) = p(5) x r(5)
s(min) = p(0) x r(0)
s(healthy pain) = p(5) x r(0)
s(unnecessary pain – eg anxiety)= p(0) x r(5)

If you can improve on it let me know. Maybe I’ll see if one of my old AI pals can incorporate into one of their systems. By the way, for this rhythmic algae:

pain = source of pain (environment, exams, attacker, emotions).

I find it works better than my usual heuristic shortcut:

“Tell the inner moppet to shut the hell up.”

Although I do still love John McEnroe’s simple maxim: “Show heart!”

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Penis Leashes and Carrot Danglers (notes to my kids)

My little loves, I apologise, when you read this you will probably be a little bit older and “going what the hell is dad on about?” these notes to my kids are just the things I hope to remember to tell you as you grow up or when you’ve grown up. As parents these days are leaving it a little bit late to start having kids I can’t always guarantee I’ll be around. And, if I don’t get them down I will probably forget them being an old geezer and whatnot. So, first up:

Never let anyone lead you around by your penis.
As you get older you will experience the feelings of sexual attraction. Which is great. It’s normal, and absolutely nothing to be ashamed of, ever. However, you will meet the occasional person who is so attractive to you they make you go all weak at the knees, a bit silly about the head, and even make you lose your mind – so much so that all common sense will be forgotten (This goes for girls to. Just substitute the word penis for sexual desire).

So when a good-looking guy or gal in school or work has you under their spell and they ask, encourage, or cajole you into doing something that you wouldn’t normally do, ask yourself “is this what I really want to do, or am I being led around by my penis?”

Beware of carrot danglers.
This is related but not the same. Basically a carrot dangler is someone who tries to get you to do something now by suggesting that great things may happen in your future if you do this for them.

For example, “if you do this first piece of work for free there will be the opportunity for paid work down the line.” Or, “if you [sign this contract, marry me, do a little dance], only then,will everything be okay.” Or, “pass these exams, and you will get into the university of your choice.”

Sometimes you’ll just have to go with it, as in the exam example. At other times, as in the work example, you want to nail the agreement upfront. It’s not an opportunity for paid work unless they are obligated to give you paid work.

The fear of saying no.
People worry that if they say “No!” to someone that they will offend, upset or make that person not want to be their friend. But learning to say no to people is an essential skill to have and more often than not you won’t offend, upset or lose friends by saying no. Try it today, over something small, say when someone offers you a drink for example, if that person takes offence then you probably don’t want that sensitive soul as a pal anyway.

That’s the first lesson kids. I hope it helps. By the way you will inevitably be suckered by carrot danglers and have your sexual desires manipulated by someone at some point in your life. Don’t beat yourself up. Mistakes are how you learn.

I love you kids. Despite that there’ll be plenty more embarrassing notes to come.


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How not to chop wood, induce labor and why you should never make excuses for not posting to your blog.

Life has it’s ups and its downs folks (as if you didn’t know). You might have noticed it’s been a bit quiet on the blog in recent weeks, we’ve had all kinds of things happen, some good, some bad. I chopped the end of my thumb off with an axe for example.

chopped thumb with axe

A week and half after the event









I’ve been chopping thumbs, sorry, wood for years as I love a good log-burner or open fire. It’s part of my daily chores and I never think twice about it. However, her nibs was heavily pregnant, our two year old was under the weather, and I was holding the fort together for weeks. I was so tired I wouldn’t have walked to the shops, nor ridden a bike, too tired to make a cup of tea even. But for some reason I thought chopping wood was sensible (I do find it strangely relaxing though).

Needless to say I didn’t take my thumb out of the way when I was chopping. It looks a lot better in this pic than it did on the day, even a day after the accident the flesh was knitting itself back together. Now six weeks on it’s almost fully grown back and, apart from a kink in the nail and some extra sensitivity, it’s as good as new.

My partner was overdue at the time and, surprisingly, asking her to search for the missing bit of my thumb on the floor of the garage while I wrapped it up and sorted transport to hospital didn’t make our little girl arrive any earlier.

She did arrive a few days later though. The birth was great, the bloody aftermath less so, I won’t go into the gory details here only to say that blood transfusions worked wonders for my other half. Bless her. Here’s our number-one girl:

Eva Jean - two weeks old

Eva Jean - two weeks old










And then we had a couple of deaths in the family, one disablement…ahhh, and that’s not the half of it. We’ve had more drama in the last few weeks than I’ve room to write about. So the essence of this story is if you’re going to come up with any excuses for not posting to your blog, make ’em good folks. I love my blog and my readers and I’ll be writing a lot more of all the things you’re used to in the new year, deception, writing, driving skills, parenthood, kindle trouble shooting, adventure…and until then I’ll hope you’ll join me in having a very merry Christmas indeed.

So a very Merry Christmas to you! And, if in doubt, sing like Kim Wilde.



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First Response: How to control a small child or baby’s runaway temperature.

Recently our son had a long bout of soaring temperatures ranging from 39 – 41C (102-106 Fahrenheit). Normally the body runs at around 37C/98.6F, dangerously high is considered anything over 40C/104F – this is where febrile convulsions happen, organs fail, and worse.

So if your baby’s temperature is 39C/102F or above you should already be on the phone to the emergency services in your country. In the UK that’s 999 (or 112 from a mobile).

After four scary visits to A&E we found it was a urine infection with possible renal reflux (it was eventually diagnosed dual RR, I’ll write more on this) and a course of antibiotics was prescribed which we will now have to keep him on for 3-5 years.

We were taught how to manage his temperature for ourselves when it reaches these extremes. Here’s how:

  1. Take temperature, use a timpanic (in-ear) gauge for preference.

    In-Ear Thermometer

  2. Remove outer clothing, leave on vest and underwear. This allows air to circulate across the body and cool it down while keeping the core organs stable so that shivering doesn’t start and raise the body temperature further. NOTE: I found cradling my boy on my lap with my arms either side a good way of keeping the extremities warm if they cooled too much. Also very calming for the little man.
  3. Dose with baby paracetemol. 2.5ml under six months/5ml after that.
  4. Wait for these actions to start lowering the temperature. If no response after 45 minutes to 1 1/2 hours or the temperature continues to rise dose with ibuprofen (2.5ml up to 1 year, 5ml for 1-3 years).

From here on in your doctor needs to give you the correct dosing regimen. So if you’re reading this and have an overheating child you need to call emergency services, your doctor, or NHS Direct (0845 4647) NOW. This post may help you in a jam but it is no excuse for not calling. I’m not medically trained and the doctors will be able to tell you how to maintain appropriate treatment for your child and your child’s specific illness.

Still reading? Pick up the phone already.


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Teething troubles? A few quick fixes.

Suddenly your newborn has given up its one week of sleeping through the night. They are grouchy, won’t go down at lunchtimes, drool constantly, cry for no reason, but also have the rosiest of rosy red cheeks.

All these could be signs your newborn is teething.

The aches and pains can start months before the teeth start breaking through and finish just in time for them to leave home (by which point they’ll be medicating with alco-pops and recreational drugs anyway, so no worries).

If you’re stuck try these simple remedies:

Calpol: Paracetemol for babies. It’s safe to use up to two times a day before three months and four times a day after (you can use baby ibuprofen for up to 24 hours but GPs recommend paracetamol as it is less harmful to young kidneys). Reviews.

Ashton & Parsons powders: Give one powder an hour. A simple herbal camomile, non-toxic, can be used repeatedly, some swear by it. Reviews.

Calgel/Bonjela /Anbesol: Rub a little on a clean finger, a dummy/pacifier, teething ring and apply to troubled area. Avoid any that contain choline salicylate as this has been linked to Reyes Syndrome.

Cold Compress:

  • Put a teething ring or dummy in the fridge or freezer and let them chew on it. The cold helps numb the pain.
  • If you live in a wintry environment you could try taking them out in a carrier and letting them breathe in the cool air too.
  • Another home remedy some father’s swear by is to place a flannel in pre-boiled water that’s cooled in the fridge. The coolness helps the pain and the liquid replaces the fluid from drooling so much.

Movement and distraction: sometimes your baby just won’t settle and you may need to walk them in a carrier, push them in a pram or stroller, or take them for a drive. Hanging out with other people, singing songs, playing games can all help to distract them too.

I find all of the above work to a greater or lesser degree and the pain – as well as the crying – should subside within an hour to a few hours, if not try ear defenders.

If they can take the edge off a pneumatic drill they might just work on your bundle of joy too.

Let me know what works for you.

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