beware the thought-cookers

I’m cutting it close, arriving at work almost on the dot of 8am – or just past.  For some reason this happens to me a lot.  I tend to not be early or cutting it really really close.  It is not on purpose.  It just is.

You never know how interesting you are until you pay attention to yourself.   Is it weird to find yourself interesting?  Maybe.  Hey, at least someone does, right?!  And hey!,  at least it is someone who’s opinion you’ll care about, right?  Hmm… yeah sure, this isn’t weird at all.

So, what is my problem with being (not) on time?

What I realised the other morning while getting ready for work is that I get lost in thought.  At the strangest times.  Doing the most mundane type things.  I’ve had myself under surveillance for month now.  It’s bad.  I found several thought-cookers tempting me every single day.  It’s difficult to escape the ones that doesn’t form an integral part of my day and almost impossible to fight the allure of the ones that does.

Thought-cooker  also known as thought-stimulant, usually gets triggered by the act of performing mundane tasks like taking a bath, cooking a meal, doing dishes, driving and so forth.  It can also be a place.  A person experience no passage of time with the result that time seems to fly.

The Thinking Man sculpture at Musée Rodin in Paris

The Thinking Man sculpture at Musée Rodin in Paris (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Yep!  Oh yeah,  I know that!  What I find most interesting though is that each cooker stimulates different thoughts.  Cookers do not seem to be conducive to continued thought processes.

So now the other question is – does your thought-cooker(s) say something about you?  Oh my, I don’t know.  It will be SO weird if it did.  Right?  Riiigghht?

Well,  I’m now of the opinion that my cookers REALLY don’t like it that I have to go to work 🙂

Why else will a 10-minute bath turn into a 30-minute time warp?  Or a 5-minutes coffee into a 15-minutes one?  Or the 1 minute it should take to tie my boots become 5 minutes? Or the 10 seconds to lock the front door turn into 2 minutes?

It all adds up!

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dream, dream, dreeaaeam

I never really thought about it, but a person actually dreams in more ways than one.

The most familiar form of dreaming is when we are in a state of rest – what the experts call REM sleep.  Think about it.  Where do you go, what do you do, what do you experience when you are in dreamland?  There are so many connotations assigned to the perception of what and why we dream.  We might want to escape into a reality where we made better choices.  Or where our “bad” choices had better outcomes.  While in dream state we might actually be communicating in a higher, freer plain of existence.  Some of us may think of a dream as a message, a forewarning of what is to come.  A prediction of sorts.

The other form of dreaming is born from somewhere else.  The hankering to be more.  To make a difference.  It is the kind of dream I would refer to as a “life-dream”.  But how would one define a “life-dream”?  Or wait, a better question might be:  Should a “life-dream” be limited by a definition?.

“What do you want to be when you grow up?”.  It is probably safe to assume that this question falls under the “life-dream” category.  It is also the question most often asked of young minds.  As children we see a hero at least once.  It might be a doctor or a nurse who helped heal a loved one.  It might be a policeman who helped your family out of a jam.  A veterinarian who saved your dear pet.  A fireman who rushed into a burning building to safe a total stranger or someone you know.  A teacher.  The list goes on.

There should be more questions under the “life-dream” category I think.  How often do we think to ask them?  Maybe we don’t ask them because we assume that a young mind is just that – too young to understand the question.  That might well be true. So we focus on the one question that everyone asks and everyone answers.  Isn’t there danger that choices will be ruled by the answer to that lone question?

In my opinion questions train us to search for answers.  Our brains work harder to find solutions, the truth… our truth.  It even helps with emotional growth.

So, what questions would you file under the “life-dream” category?  Here are some I would add.

* Who do you want to be as a person?

* Where would you like to live when you are a grown-up?

* Do you want to focus on only one career?

Who can say when a life-dream will be born?  Or what a person’s life-dream(s) will be?  It is different for everyone.   Some of us dream big, some dream small.  Some think they have no dream at all.  It is all a matter of perception and opinion.

One can never be too young or too old to start dreaming.

how (e)secure are we?

The other day I was chatting with someone who works for (one of) our largest communications network(s) and he said something that made me think.  Are we too trusting of the promised security for our on-line dealings?

Netting

Over the years I’ve crossed paths with people (mostly older generation) who shy away from using the Internet and even computers.  When I asked them “why?” the answer is always the same.  They don’t trust computers.  Okay, I can understand that, if you consider the term “computer” to include the person behind the keyboard.  The thought of having your information on a large network is scary.  Especially if you watch movies like The Net. In that storyline even a woman with really advanced computer skills couldn’t prevent her life from being “erased”. Granted, the main character in the movie was an “easy target” since she practically lived digital and didn’t really interact with anyone face to face.  No-one ever saw her, so no-one could vouch for her and do a visual verification of her identity.  So, she didn’t exist.  Yep, that is a scary thought.

I still remember my apprehension when I first started working on computers.  I didn’t get formal training – I just kinda plunged in.  It was really stressful because I didn’t know what to expect and how to reverse an error.  It wasn’t like a piece of paper that you write on and if you make a mistake, just scrunch it up and throw it in the bin to start over on a clean sheet.  I’ll probably never forget that fear, although I did overcome it and rarely think of it now.

The first time I connected to the Internet.  Wow!  That was pretty incredible, although it also took some getting used to.  Then came business banking where you can connect to the bank’s system and do transaction “live”.  That was serious progress.  It also required some considerations of the risks involved which was limited since one basically did a point-A to point-B phone call.  Alas, that has also evolved to Internet-based systems. Somewhere along the line other businesses also realised the potential of having customers filling out forms and such on-line and emailing it in.  And that’s when your information starts floating around in Cyberspace.

Or is it?  I think there is a misconception that as long as you don’t enter your information electronically you are “safe”.  Very few organisations and businesses don’t use some form of software to keep track of information.  So even if you fill out a printed form, chances are that your information is somewhere in digital form.  Somebody else did that on your behalf.

Now don’t get me wrong.  I’m not trying to scare anyone.  Network administrators do their best to secure the networks we connect to when we do on-line banking or shop on-line.  It’s kinda like securing ones home.  We install security alarms, burglarproof bars (that’s another topic), security lights and much more.  The reality is though that there is always a possibility that someone will get around it.  It is our duty to stay vigilant and be cautious.

My advice to anyone who feels unsure or insecure about using digital convenience is to stay informed, stay cautious, stay vigilant.  I have a few tips that I follow:

1) Whenever you fill out personal information or shop on-line, ensure that you are using a secure site (https://).

2) Register you credit card information in a trusted portal like PayPal.  That way you don’t accidentally provide your credit card info on a non-secure site (http://).  Never supply this information in an email.

3) Use a good Anti-Virus program.

4) Don’t trust any old email that says it is coming from your banking institution requesting some information or that you update your details.  If your bank really does that – change banks! 😀  Before you click on a link in any such email you’ll be able to see where it is pointing to.  It is a good idea to be familiar with the naming convention your bank uses for its links and official site(s).

5) Set your browser to not save cookies.  You can also set it with exceptions for sites that you trust.

6) Set your browser to not allow pop-ups.  I also use a third party program to help with that in case something slips through – which happened quite a few times recently while I was browsing.

What are the main things you do to stay digital safe?

I came across a site called StaySafeOnline.org where they address a lot of security concerns and provide some helpful insight and tips – if you need to find some peace of mind 🙂

number 7 – is it bad when they know you by … face?

7.             Keep it personal

A repeat customer is someone you get to know. Nurture that by keeping your relationship as personal as possible. For instance, get to know customers by name. Connecting on a personal level with customers is one of the best competitive advantages. Everyone loves it when they go into a coffee shop and the server remembers their name and their favorite beverage.  … more

I remember reading (or hearing) something along these lines some time ago.  As I’m not in the marketing or advertising industry I don’t really pay attention to these things.  The company I work for does however service the public so sometimes the odd thing about customer care is bound to catch a ride in my memory banks.  And a couple of months ago this memory decided to say hello.

Every now and again (less now than again) I crave one of my favourite junk food meals at the local Wimpy.  A few weeks ago as I approached the take-away counter the lady who was on duty looked up, smiled a little and completed the sale she was busy with.  I was looking over the posted menu and special offerings when the lady focussed her attention on me and asked “The usual?”.  She continued with: “With chippies? It’s kind of hot out, so a milkshake today? Kiddies or normal?”.  Forget the menus!

It was while I was waiting for my order that the “number 7” memory popped up and I started mulling it over.  I started wondering how I really felt about the fact that the Wimpy-lady knew me so well that she could order for me, when my best friend and even my family would be hard-pressed to.  She doesn’t even know my name!  Do I look like my favourite Wimpy-meal?  Is a picture of that meal reflected in my eyes (picture animated dollar-sign-eyes) when I have the craving?  Do I visit the eatery more regularly than I thought?  Is the meal I order so unique that it is memorable?  Maybe this meal is actually a popular choice even though I’ve never seen anyone else order it?  Oh grief!, am I really that predictable?! Or is it simply that Wimpy-lady took “Number-7” to heart and has a knack for remembering what people eat?

How come I’m not offended by the fact that I barely have to say anything whenever I want this favourite meal?  Me, who usually dreads shopping.  Me, who marches into supermarkets and alike, eyes forward and with grim determination to get this done and be gone before anyone pays too much attention?  Me, who gets chills when I think of doing an errant at shops where there are chatty (very friendly) people waiting to do my bidding?

Well, either I’m denying the (obviously subconscious) truth about Number-7 or…  I just REALLY like my junk food more than I mind my own predictability.  Okay, let’s go with that.  I don’t mind (yeah right!) my own predictability as long as it speeds up the ordering process.