38 weeks later

How time flies. You’d think if you’re counting the weeks, and you’re counting up 38 of them, you’ve got so much time. That’s 38 x 7 days, which is… (mental maths) 266…ish days? That’s a decent number of days!

The secret you learn after finding out is that these dates are approximations. No-one can quite pinpoint the starting or ending date, so there’s a rule-of-thumb that is applied, and it only lands on the actual date about 5% of the time.

Now, if you’re clueless like I was 38 or so weeks ago, what I’m talking about here is pregnancy.

I’m about to be a father. Indeed, any day now, it would seem. As of this week, from a medical standpoint, the baby is good to go.

No one asks the parents-to-be if they’re good to go, because frankly speaking, I’m not sure we are. There’s no textbook, no accredited course, no licence, no piece of paper they’ll hand you to say it’s ok, you can probably handle what is coming. We’ve done our best, we’re doing the classes, we’re working through everything we think we need, we have all the advice we could hope for & then some, but how do you actually know you’re ready to be a first-time parent? I’d posit that you just don’t. It happens and then you figure it out.

Kinda like life, only even more so, because now you’re doing it for yourself as well as for another life that’s entirely dependent on you.

Continue reading “38 weeks later”

Ceteris Paribus

Change one thing at a time, and hold all others equal – ceteris paribus.

It’s a core of science – to do an experiment, you look at cause and effect by making a cause happen and observing for effect.

Except, just about anything that happens in the real world is not easily explained by a single cause, and so we work backwards from effect to try to puzzle out the causes, because that’s the way that gives you the most truth – the effect is observable and known, but the cause isn’t always clear, not until you repeat and retry and figure out how many strings you need to be tugging on at any one time to get the puppet to dance.

So why do we still believe in the idea of Ceteris Paribus? Why is it useful? Is it because our monkey brains are yet to evolve to the point where we can keep track of explanations that need more parameters, and we figure from there that it’s the best way to do it?

I think I’m asking why humans can’t do multiple regression in our head, except there’s times when we do, we just can’t explicitly explain the steps along the way. Maybe that’s why the people who do best at this stuff get paid the proverbial big bucks to be data scientists, when 10 years ago those people were doing the finance thing, and 10 years before that the internet thing, and 10 years before that the greed-is-good finance thing, and 10 years before that the moonshot thing.

Getting to the moon certainly wasn’t ceteris paribus, in the end. Maybe that’s the lesson to take from all of this – that as much as the idea is useful, reality is more complicated.

p.s. how is it that we’re some 1700 or so years down the line from the peak of the Roman Empire and their language is still the best most succinct way to explain something? Will we see 1700 years hence some quote of the milkshake duck meme will still be the best way to point to a person and go “this dude is problematic”? That’d be mind-blowing.

End of Week, End of Month, End of Quarter, End of Season

It’s the end of another week, and then I look at the calendar and realise it’s the end of the month. But then it’s not only that, it’s the end of March, marking the end of the first quarter of the year – yes, I think like a banker now – and in a way it’s what marks for me the end of the summer, where you know now that the seasonal change is truly underway and the hope for warmer days fade.

As if right on cue, it’s also the end of daylight savings, so the days become darker and shorter, and the mood shift sets in. It’s well and truly 2017, and the steady progression of the planet around the sun continues apace and the one thing you can never negotiate on feels like it passes faster and faster, time ticking away.

So many endings coming together brings a certain focus, a certain reflection on the time that has passed thus far, and an ever-regretful mood that recalls how things were left incomplete, a reminder of how much there is to do.

At the same time, there’s a degree of celebration in that reflection, understanding of how many things that were actually achieved in this time, and recalling that for all the things I can look at negatively, and all the things that preoccupy my mind disproportionately – events around the world that I have no influence on and conversely have no impact from – there are those things much closer to home that I can be happy with and draw satisfaction from.

Recently inspired by a passing conversation I happened to hear, I will be devoting some effort to reflecting weekly on the achievements and progression, noting the positives and ensuring a very practical focus – personal, local, stuff that actually matters in my personal world – is recorded in some way. I realise how much of my memory is driven by things I’ve written down and things I’ve taken photos of, and how many things and events that I just don’t recall because I didn’t do that. Everyone has their focuses and quirks – some recall conversations with ease, while others recall images; all have their own ways to work through these things, so I hope that through writing and reflecting I’m better able to keep my memory going on these small events and build up a better picture through time to know that life isn’t wasted.

So here goes.

Continue reading “End of Week, End of Month, End of Quarter, End of Season”

Navel gazing

Wow, wait, I’ve been writing on this blog for nearly 11 years now… 

The thought came to me while fiddling with the sidebar images. If you’ve not noticed, there’s a rotating roster of images that changes with each refresh. Some are more readable than others. Some are my own images, some are from Unsplash, which is a pretty neat resource for royalty-free imagery that also happens to contain some amazing photos to boot.

The rotating imagery was from an idea I’d had for a new design for this site back in 2007, shortly after I’d moved to London, back when the site still had a splash page and a forum. Back when I had more time for these things. It had been a couple of years after graduating – a couple of years since I’d been committed to changing the design/theme every 3 months. The irony of going from a hand-built blog where I changed design regularly to one on a dynamic platform with built in theme support where I ceased to change the design is not lost on me.

Looking back at that idea from November 2007 (9 years!), I still like the mockups and prototypes I’ve got. It still feels basically fresh – I should be congratulating myself on being so forward looking, but the truth is that while I was able to make the mockups, it never panned out because I didn’t know enough HTML/CSS/JS to make it work, and I didn’t have the time or effort to put into following through, as a hobby slowly fell by the wayside.

And now, years later, I’m pulling it off, mostly. I’ve still got this site – indeed I just renewed the domain for another little while, the site hosting costs for another little bit… and I’m really not sure why. But it’s important to me to have this space – this space that’s my own, as opposed to a Twitter or Facebook or Medium or other platform where I’m a subdomain at best. Pushing the Sky is mine, for better or for worse.

So – point of the story – while scrolling and realising how long it’s been, I also realised where the monthly post counts slowed to the woeful rate we have today… and while 2007 happened to be the last time I put significant effort into attempting to redesign this site, and 2008 apparently was the year where I went from writing something here every day and a half to every 3 days, and then 2009 became the year I slowed that even further – even though it’s been 6 or 7 years since I put any concerted effort into this, I still find myself appreciating the space, and appreciating that I have an outlet that’s my own.

And now I need to restore it; I need to revert from using those other platforms as my primary outlets to write something, or share a photograph, or a review of a movie, and return to the source. I need to post here more, and I’ll make a concerted effort to do so. Keep me honest, will you?

Three Oh

Thirty years.

That sounds like… a lot.

It sure doesn’t feel like a lot – I guess? I dunno. It feels like time has passed, but it also doesn’t, in the sense that I still recall events from 20 years ago vividly should I choose to.

But then I get a sense of perspective when talking to younger people, and I share experiences from my past, and realise – really – I’ve done a decent amount and achieved a decent bit… but then there’s so much I’ve still yet to do and still want to do, and it’s not as though I’m running out of time, but I wonder if I’m the only one that feels like the hundred things I’d to get done are just things you couldn’t ever hope to do, but things like movies and social media make it seem like you should be able to get everything done… but it’s just not reality.

Sorry, rambling.

How’s this for some perspective: My heart has beaten 1 billion times in my lifetime. That is a lot.

Here’s to the next.

Short form

Fish Dreams:

Her mother drops her at five and tells me what she likes to eat now. There are times I look at this woman and feel an echo of affection. But not today. She won’t eat peas any more, apparently. I am to encourage her to eat peas.

And she’s had nightmares, says her mother. Two.


Bad dreams. It’s common at this age.

Dreams about what?

Fish, she says. Don’t make a big deal out of it.

I say, How would I make a big deal out of it?

I need to start writing again.

Vale, Steve Jobs

I was at work, browsing idly on my iPhone when I stumbled upon the news, linked to a short news blast from the AP. This wasn’t fake: it was a statement by Apple, and the language was solemn.

Man oh man, the shock froze me for a minute. As though I was searching for a clue, somewhere in there, that this wasn’t real. But it was, and the Apple homepage spoke volumes in its simplicity, their tribute as minimal as could be, befitting the man.

The amount of coverage Jobs’ passing has received is off the chart. I thought that perhaps this matched the level of Michael Jackson’s passing, but the sordid circumstances surrounding that doesn’t hold a candle to what I’ve seen in the media today. It may well be the technology focused echo chamber I live in, but it certainly felt like everyone was talking about it.

At lunch, outside the Apple store in Sydney, three bouquets lay on the pavement. Five minutes later, another had joined them. Astonishing.

it would seem a day for reflecting on Jobs and his way of thinking, and the most intimate view you could have of his thoughts and philosophy seems to have come from his 2005 Stanford Commencement Address (available on Youtube):

No one wants to die. Even people who want to go to heaven don’t want to die to get there. And yet death is the destination we all share. No one has ever escaped it. And that is as it should be, because Death is very likely the single best invention of Life. It is Life’s change agent. It clears out the old to make way for the new. Right now the new is you, but someday not too long from now, you will gradually become the old and be cleared away. Sorry to be so dramatic, but it is quite true.

Perhaps the most eloquently put epitaph for Steve Jobs today comes from Barack Obama:

Steve was fond of saying that he lived every day like it was his last.  Because he did, he transformed our lives, redefined entire industries, and achieved one of the rarest feats in human history: he changed the way each of us sees the world. The world has lost a visionary. And there may be no greater tribute to Steve’s success than the fact that much of the world learned of his passing on a device he invented.

Vale, Steve Jobs, 1955 – 2011.


It’s November 2010.


No, time to ease up on the swearing, and admit that this year got out of hand. Hell, these last 18 months have just been a bit of a rollercoaster ride, ever since that fateful day when I was dunked in the cold shock of finding a job you love is not forever, even if you’re doing the best you can.

That as far as I can tell was the last time I was blogging with any regularity, and after that, I had to force myself to blog, to try to justify having this site. I remember looking at this site just earlier this year and noting the only reason my archive list hadn’t faltered in getting links for each month in 2010 was because I hit one post a month, sometimes only by the skin of the month’s last day. And yet here I was with 4 drafts in various states of polish or indeed finish.

And then we hit September, and things got a little more crazy in the real world, and I neglected this place altogether. Not even a traditional birthday post acknowledging a vaguely defined milestone of sorts in ages could swing me to post here.

Maybe I can’t blame all of it on the job. Hell, I probably can’t even blame more than 20% on it if I’m being honest with myself. Between Facebook sapping my time and attention in 2009, to my weaning off it and diversion to Twitter in 2010, particularly with the Australian election being so fast moving in news stories this year, I pretty much lost the habit of posting anything long form. Emails to friends turned from lengthy tracts to short bursts as an effort to condense and consolidate information became the overriding goal.

All this while I had what might generously be called a bit of spare time. My job over the last 18 months was quite possibly the most relaxed I’ll get this side of retirement, but if anything, that sapped the creative energy out of me and I wandered, undriven towards an indeterminate future.

Already I’m wondering the point of this post, other than to bemoan the lack of recent posting beyond thoughtless rants on a few simple topics that have grabbed my attention, and I wonder: if I’m having this thought, then what is my dear reader thinking? (I would be surprised if I still had regular readers given the paucity of content provided here).

But perhaps that’s what I was going for all along – a semi-private, semi-public space to have an open conversation with myself. Mostly because conversationswithmyself.com is a bloody pain to remember. I like the idea of having more space on the web to fill in with words than the 140 characters I’m limited to in Twitter, and I guess that’s what this here is for.

I also don’t really have a point here, despite inching closer to something which feels like a conclusion. In any case, here is hoping this time is different, yo.

The Thriller

If there was one bit of news I didn’t expect to wake up to yesterday, it was that Michael Jackson had died.

At first, I heard that “reports out of the US” were saying he died, or was in a coma. I didn’t want to believe it, but over the next half hour, the news was confirmed by more reliable sources, and so it was that a special artist’s life ended.

Michael Jackson was many things to many people, but it was his Black or White that was my very first pop song; it was the first one I can recall being a fan of, of racing to the radio to listen to. I had a tape of the album, Dangerous, that is probably one of the world’s most worn tapes around, particularly around the Black or White part. I watched the video clip a hundred times, as it stayed in the charts for weeks on end. Saturday mornings finished with Video Hits showing Black or White, and on Sundays it was up early to see it again on rage, which usually showed the whole clip, not just the music.

In short, I thought he was a genius, and given the outpouring of grief, emotion and the reactions of the last two days, I don’t think I was the only one. Jackson’s active career spanned 4 of his 5 decades, and at his height in the 80s the monkier “The King of Pop”, first said by his friend Elizabeth Taylor, stuck, and there are no heirs to the throne. From his start in the Jackson 5 to his best-selling solo album Thriller, and even to the mixed Invincible which never the less contained the hit You Rock My World, Jackson did what a performing artist should do best: entertain and thrill the public.

The name Jackson lives in the same echelon as Presley and Lennon, a genius in the musical world, as a singer, songwriter and perhaps foremost as a dancer. MJ’s sublime ability to control his body made perhaps his signature move, the moonwalk, somehow magical and special; no-one quite does it like he did.

I guess I was too young to know what was going on during the first accusations of child molestation levelled against him, but I certainly did when the issue reared its ugly head again in the early part of this decade. You got the feeling watching the documentary that raised the issue that Michael Jackson was really just a bit lost outside of the music world, never having grown up or being allowed to do so in a normal manner. It was the ultimate Peter Pan complex – he wanted to be a kid forever.

Whether the accusations were true or not, acquittal not withstanding, the damage to Jackson’s reputation and his continual strange behaviour led to his fall from grace, as seems inevitable for all child stars. For many though, as is abundantly clear today, this did not diminish his achievements as an artist, and so I would represent him – one of the most brilliant performers we had for years. It is a pity that his life should end so early.

I don’t know whether we’ll see the like of Jackson ever again – the celebrities with a genuine reason to be celebrated, the entertainers that achieve so much on a global scale; one would hope that perhaps someone will be inspired enough to produce music that appeals to so many. It would be a pity too if his music were to be overshadowed by his later days, and I would sincerely hope his music is held up as a shining example of popular entertainment.

Vale, Michael Joseph Jackson, 1958 – 2009.

Jon Stewart Explains to Congress

Jon Stewart is still in fine form: