The Tiny House movement and travel

The Tiny House Movement and travel combine well together. In this video a Czech couple bought a fan and transformed it into a self contained home to live in for a year. They chose it because they wanted room for the surfboards, wet suits and more. It has space for cooking lamb shanks, socialising and sleeping. You can enter the van both from the front and the back.

I really like the idea of this van. It would be fun to travel for a few months from place to place, do what there is to do, see what there is to see and then move on. This would adapt well to hiking, climbing, via ferrata and other sports. It allows you to live comfortably without spending money on hotels, villas or other places.

The project cost them around 10,000 dollars to build so if you work and save up for a few months you could easily take a gap year and afford to do such a project. Working on such a project does require some skills in wood working. He said that it took hundreds, if not thousands of hours to prepare the van. If you’re travelling then a few steps a day for a few weeks would get to this final result.

At one moment they speak about the herb garden that they have in the glove box. As they had the space they planted some mint and other herbs for cooking. As a result of this herb garden they said that when driving on rough roads the Mint plant gets shaken about and in the process the van smells of mint. It’s a natural air freshener.

In a month they will move on and sell the van to continue travelling. If I was travelling to New Zealand I’d like to try living in a van like this and use it as a base to go hiking, climbing and enjoying other sports. This seems like a pleasant way of travelling.

 

A satirical look at music festivals as a form of psychological torture

When we’re 14-28 years old the idea of going to a music festival to see the artists we spend our free time listening to is fantastic. Imagine all that drinking, that mud, that food, those opportunities to seduce and best of all that ambiance. The prospect of going to a music festival is so appealing that we fantacize about going to work as bénévole to have the full experience. I have been through that experience several times as a result of which I chose to have a week off from socialising to recover. Now that I have provided you with context I want to take a satirical look at music festivals as a form of psychological torture for those of us who have grown too “old” to know which artists are playing.

Traffic

The most evident form of torture is traffic. This comes in the form of passengers in trains, buses and to some degree cars. In trains and buses you will have the pleasure of standing in work clothes next to youths in t-shirts, drinking beers and possibly listening to music and generously allowing other people to listen. Imagine how pleasant this experience is when you’ve just finished a ten hour work day and you want to listen to an audiobook. “If I wanted this experience I’d have stayed in London” is something you might hear the locals say.

Of course this is not limited to public transport. Private transport too is affected. In this case you’re on the motorway and you want to go home but you get stuck in a column of cars so long that it stretches from Gland to Rolle and beyond. This is amusing. As I joked about with a passenger yesterday as I drove back from a day of climbing and filming that traffic jam is usually around Villeneuve or between Lausanne and Morges. At least for once it had the decency to migrate. What a pleasure to be stuck looking at cars in a different place. From here we can see the Rolle vineyards and out towards the Léman and the Alps.

If you want to get off in Gland or Nyon you’d better be patient as there is an excellent chance that you will be stuck for half an hour getting off the motorway. It is for this very reason that when I offered to drive a person I said that I would drive to Coppet to pick her up rather than Nyon. I wrote “In the morning I can pick you up from Nyon but in the evening I will drop you off in Coppet. This turned out fantastically for three people at the end of the day.

Two people were heading back to Geneva and catching the train from Coppet meant that they were on the TPG network. The third person lived in Coppet so my avoiding a music festival provided her with a climbing wall to home village solution.

You see this. A music festival inconvenienced me and yet I still make an effort to simplify the lives of others. That is a demonstration that despite the intense dislike I have for a music festival I still know to be kind and courteous to those who do not inconvenience me.

Noise pollution

Traffic, in isolation is often a nuisance but worse than traffic is noise pollution. The countryside is quiet. The noise of the nearby river is so normal that you do not notice it until you listen to a recording of normal every day sounds. Add to this the summer sound of crickets and birds and you’ve described the noises. In the distance you can hear the train de St Cergue as it makes it way up and down the Jura.

During the music festival you get to hear sound checks from 11am onwards. You hear the sound of the kick drum, voice microphones and other instruments. This goes on until two or three more bands on the Grande Scène have finished their sound check. As a young adult this is nice, this is part of the euphoria of “having a music festival in your back yard” as Americans would say. This is not a nuisance. The torture comes after ten at night.

In Switzerland you are not allowed to shower, take a bath or make noise after 2200 hours under risk of a fine if you do not get along with your neighbours. This makes living in Switzerland civil. Working professionals know that after 2200 they can go to bed and nothing should wake them up.

During the music festival common decency goes out of the window. From Tuesday to Sunday morning if your bedroom is facing towards the music festival you will hear booming and howling until 3am every day. That is the noise that is transmitted through double glazing, thick walls and a layer of insulation. If you open the window you can sometimes make out who is singing. I remember hearing Faithless or other bands when they played years ago when I was still familiar with the artists.

If you’re not working or you have flexible hours then you can shift your sleep pattern to match the music festival. You can wake halfway through the morning and so the impact is neutralised.

Yesterday I did not have that luxury. I am passionate about rock climbing and the great outdoors. For who share this passion usually like to wake early and get to the mountains before the sun is too warm. The music festival kept me awake until 3am and and by 6am I had to wake up to pick people up and drive to the mountains. I had between two to three hours of sleep and waking up was not easy. We arrived at the meeting point early so I had a short siesta in the back of the car to refresh myself at least slightly. I did feel better as a result of this siesta and was able to climb and to film others climbing. I had a good time but I was sleep deprived. If I had not committed to driving another person in the morning then I would have aborted the climbing day and I would have slept. I would have lost a day of doing two things I love thanks to the selfishness of festival goers and the sound gremlins (my name for music festival sound engineers) who flood the countryside with noise.

When I got home and sat at the laptop I could no longer hold my head up. I struggled to prepare dinner and when I ate I was fighting to stay awake. Eventually I gave up and went to bed with the laptop and youtube videos providing background noise to cover the music festival’s inconsistent noise. After the fire works were fired I slept until this morning. I woke but was unable to stay awake several times this morning. Eventually at 9 I woke up and had a deep desire to write this blog post about music festivals as a form of torture.

I don’t want music festivals to stop and I don’t want people to be prevented from having fun. I want sound engineers to do their job. I want sound engineers to design music festival sound so that people at the festival can hear it but so that surrounding villages and working professionals can still sleep properly and work. Sleep deprivation is a torture method and music festivals, for all of their social ideals should respect that not everyone wants to go to a music festival. Music festivals should respect the locals.

I avoid using the name of the festival that inspired this post to avoid giving them free advertising. 😉

 

An emotional BREXIT

The More I think about BREXIT and the more I think that those of us, like me, who see themselves as British Europeans the more the BREXIT referendum is painful. BREXIT is painful for us because we are born in one country but we are nationals of at least two or three nations. We cannot call ourselves British because we went to uni but not school so we have not picked up that culture. We visited family on holidays but we are not locals. I believe that a high percentage of my generation went to uni in England probably worked at least temporarily before leaving again.

As Europe based brits we remember when we were thinking about which universities we would go to and we thought about whether we would have home fees / Europe fees or international fees. At the time the difference was from 1000 GBP to more than 7000 GBP, excluding all other costs. That does shape whether you go to university as well as when. As an EU citizen living in Switzerland I always have the frustration of counting as an EU rather than British citizen and if I am really unlucky because of the current mood of politicians then I end up on international fees. In theory that is no longer an issue.

Another aspect that I rarely see discussed in BREXIT discussions is that of emigrating from the UK to find jobs. In the post I shared a few days ago I had seen that several industries that were in Northern England migrated to France, Germany and other EU countries. In theory those who say they lost their jobs could migrate to continue doing the job that they enjoy. the European Union provides people with the opportunity to study, work and more with great freedom. The only challenge is to learn the local language. In Switzerland we see that Brits and other English speakers spend twenty years in the country without becoming fluent.

At this moment in time we can travel from any country in Europe to any other country in Europe without a second thought. I really appreciate this freedom. My friendships and activities revolve around spending time with emigrants. I could use the word expat but it does not feel like an accurate portrayal of our identity. I was brought up in the international community where everyone is a migrant so see ourselves as citizens of the world. In this sense at least the International Baccalaureate has achieved its goal.

BREXIT is a direct attack on the identity that friends, colleagues, family and fellow citizens of the world have. We can see endless opportunities as long as we are willing to travel, as long as we are willing to re-skill and as long as we are willing to adapt to new situations. The remain campaign and Pro-European movements are looking forwards rather than backwards. We are enthusiastic about the future rather than nostalgic about the past. BREXIT aims to destroy something that has been built over decades rather than weeks or months. The European Union is organised. Verhofstadt and others still believe passionately in the European Union and the benefit that it can bring to Europeans and those they deal with. We need to listen to such people. They have a vision for the future, they have an action plan. We should collaborate with them to turn it into a reality that we can all benefit from.

The European Union is about a continental rather than national identity. It is about a set of universal values of equality, education, open mindedness and more. We need to keep that ambition alive and make it thrive. In a healthy media environment it makes sense for the whole of society to want what is best for everyone.

Post-fact Britain

I was in the graduating class of 2000 with 99 other students representing more than one hundred countries. As an individual I already have three nationalities and four identities. I am British, Italian, Polish and a foreigner living near Geneva, Switzerland. As a result of this mixture I said, when I was in Tanzania in 1999 that I was European because that was the simplest way to describe my identity. When I first heard about the Brexit Referendum months ago I thought that this was so stupid that I thought it was not a serious project. It did become a serious thing, especially in a post-fact Britain.

Because these narratives typically involve a selective use of facts and lenient dealings with matters of truth, they have given rise to symptoms of a post-factual democracy. A democracy is in a post-factual state when truth and evidence are replaced by robust narratives, opportune political agendas, and impracticable political promises to maximize voter support. source

For months I saw that The Guardian and other newspapers were heavily critical of the European Union. You couldn’t read an article from their website without getting the feeling that Europe was a terrible place. This bias, this message encouraged me to switch to French language media to get a less biased, less anti-European narrative. The Guardian is relatively open compared to the British tabloid press. The British tabloid press lied and misled its readership. Twice The Sun lied about the Queen supporting Brexit. Twice it suffered no consequences.

It is well known that Murdoch is anti-European. Few men have done more to fuel anti-European frenzy than the Australian-American media tycoon Rupert Murdoch, owner of several newspapers and the UK’s most important private television news channel. In his book How Britain Will Leave Europe, former Minister for Europe Denis MacShane describes how former Prime Minister Tony Blair considered holding a referendum on adopting the euro, only to renounce the plan for fear that the “shadowy figure of Rupert Murdoch” would use his media empire to campaign against it. Source

When you control the media it is easy to push your agenda forward. Conspiracy theories are always about how our privacy is being invaded and about how our phone conversations, e-mails and other communications but few of them address the problems of indoctrination or brainwashing. They rarely look at the message that we are being given on a daily message. We have to ask “What is the root message that we are getting?” In the United Kingdom the root message was “Europe is bad”. Imagine if the BBC, The Guardian and other news sources had provided both sides.

The website notes that as an EU tier 1 area, “companies can benefit from the highest level of grant aid in the UK”. Earlier this year the sports car company TVR announced it would build a factory and create 150 jobs there. Will it still come? Will the Circuit of Wales, a multimillion-pound motor racing circuit a private company has been proposing to build on the town’s outskirts creating 6,000 jobs? Will the £1.8bn of EU cash promised to Wales for projects until 2020 still arrive? source

Imagine if the Fourth Estate in the United Kingdom had been used to provide people with clear examples of how the EU was investing in the UK. Imagine if instead of focusing on getting people to vote Leave the British media had provided a complete and unbiased view of the European Union. Wales voted against the EU and yet this article shows that they had a lot to gain by remaining within the EU. Between 2014–2020, Wales will benefit from around £1.8bn European Structural Funds investment. Source . 

In his first public comments since last week’s historic referendum vote, the owner of newspapers including the Times, Sun and Wall Street Journal said leaving the EU was like a “prison break … we’re out”… Source

There was a period when we could read about the imbalance in wealth and investment between Rural England and London. This imbalance was making people uncomfortable and one of the reasons for which the BBC decided to become decentralised was to address this concern. It is interesting that for a number of months the BREXIT campaign has focused all of that dissatisfaction at the EU rather than London. In a 2010 article by the BBC we find this sentence: But even fans of London admit it is too expensive, too dirty and too crowded. And its critics say that it sucks talent, money and opportunities out of the rest of the country. sourceBrexit has not resolved this issue. Could this explain why around 7 percent of the British population have emigrated from Great Britain?

According this this article 4.9 million brits emigrated from the United Kingdom to live as migrants in other countries. This figure is from the UN population division. In theory I am British migrant as I live outside the United Kingdom. Brexiters (I will not play their game and call them brexiteers) made such a big song and dance about migrants coming to the UK and yet  British people are the single most mobile population in Europe. In Switzerland you can’t go a day without meeting Brits. Can you imagine the backlash if Europe decided to behave like England did?

I believe that people spent so much time worrying about privacy that they forgot to think about the prominent message in the media. They were groomed to see Europe in a negative light and voted accordingly. By choosing to provide people with the message that they wanted to hear the Leave campaign won. In a Post-fact Britain the checks and balances to hold brexiters to account failed. A campaign was won on lies and instability has resulted. The silver lining for other nations is that pro-european sentiment has risen. They have seen what a farce anti-European movements are.

 

Great Britain and the Fourth Estate

When I think of Great Britain I think of the BBC and I think of the Natural History Units. I also think of radio programs like In Our Time, From Our Own Correspondent and Hard Talk. I also think of BBC World and the quality of their news coverage. I mention these current affairs programs because I believe that the British provide quality content. They also inform, educate and entertain us. That is their purpose.

In a healthy media environment the media should inform and educate their audiences. They should provide us with the facts and context for everything they write about. They should provide us with neutral and unbiased information. Radio and Television broadcasters were held to this standard until recently. With Video on demand services increasing in number and with the number of channels made available through satellite broadcasting and digital audio broadcasting opinion has found its way on air. This made it easier for satellite and television broadcasting to share opinions rather than facts.

“I think people in this country,” declared Vote Leave’s Michael Gove, “have had enough of experts.” His fellow Brexiteers were quick to back him up. “There is only one expert that matters,” said Labour MP Gisela Stuart, also of Vote Leave, “and that’s you, the voter.” Nigel Farage, the leader of Ukip, suggested that many independent experts were actually in the pay of the Government or the EU. All three reminded voters of occasions when “the so-called experts” had made mistakes.

source: Michael Gove’s guide to Britain’s greatest enemy… the experts

The role of journalists and the Fourth Estate is to understand the questions that people are asking and to understand what information people need. In the case of BREXIT for example if the campaign focuses on Migration then the fourth estate should provide facts and information about migration. It should look at the push and pull factors. It should also look at the goals that the European Union has set itself and how those goals can either help reduce or encourage migration.

Newspapers and politicians should never say “I think that people in this country have had enough of experts”. The raison d’être of the Fourth estate, of newspapers, current affairs broadcasts and expert opinions is to provide people with facts so that when they go to vote they have all the facts.

BREXIT on one side of the Atlantic, and the rise of Trump on the other, show that the fourth estate has failed. It has failed to keep people informed and grounded in reality and it has failed to keep emotion out of the debate. The politics of emotion are being exploited and this is having a negative impact on how countries are run. Alastair Campbell spoke of this when live on ABC news Australia.

To illustrate the challenge faced by modern politicians watch how Obama has to pause and think as he responds to the question.

Newspapers such as The Sun, The Daily Mail and other newspapers can publish anything they want and people will believe it. The Sun said twice that the Queen endorsed Brexit and twice they were shown to be lying. In a post-fact media landscape the lies are easy to spread but very difficult to negate.

London, Ireland and Scotland were not subjected to the same propaganda machine and their vote reflects this. They voted Remain because they understood the implications of BREXIT and the benefits of Remain. Their familiarity with the topic made Remain so easy to justify that certain people said of my generation that we “should not take what we have for granted”. I would encourage the opposite, that a dismantling of the EU should be unthinkable.

The Fourth estate has failed to do its job and the British people will now suffer the consequences for months and years to come. The rest of Europe and the United States should do everything they can to encourage people to keep up to current affairs so that facts guide their decisions rather than rumours and emotions.

Thoughts on British European Identity

For several weeks or even months I was afraid that the EU Referendum, BREXIT, would result in a bad outcome. On Thursday the British people went to vote. On Thursday night I was watching. When I saw Gibraltar vote to stay in the EU I relaxed enough to manage sleep. On Friday Morning British people around the world woke up to the news that our nation had voted to leave the European Union. Some people were shocked and never expected it to happen. I was terrified that it would.

For months before Brexit I commented via the social media that I was tired of seeing so many anti-European stories. When I read about refugees I said that the story should focus on the push factors rather than shame European nations. When we read about Calais and refugees I kept commenting that we should read about how it is the British that are blocking the refugees from coming, not the French oppressing these people. I was so tired of the Anglo-Saxon Anti-European stance, both from America and the United Kingdom that I moved towards reading French language news sources, just to change perspective. It worked.

From Friday to Sunday I spent hours reading article after article to keep up with current affairs. I looked at online conversations. In articles and in social media comments I kept seeing the word democratic used. Brexiters were using that word to tell “Remainers” to just accept the democratic decision by the British people. If the EU referendum had been democratic I would stay quiet. Two aspects make me think that this was an undemocratic process.

British Europeans were not allowed to vote unless they were registered to vote in a General election and as long as they had lived in England within the last fifteen years. As I lived in England for five years but between General Elections I did not register to vote. As a result of this I was not allowed to vote, as a European Brit, in the EU referendum. We are at least hundreds of thousands of disenfranchised EU brits. Wouldn’t it make sense for British Europeans to have a say in this, as they have seen the benefits and challenges of being British in Europe?

O is for Opinion: Expert opinion, to be exact, which was actively mocked and worse by Leave, and turned out to be largely worthless as a vote-shifter. 2016 has been a bad year for punditry on both sides of the Atlantic — commentators were wrong about Brexit, just as they were largely wrong about Trump. We can expect a barrage of economic experts deployed in any snap election too, with just as little tangible effect on the vote. The question with ‘post-fact’ politics, which Johnson will deploy again and again and again as he runs for Prime Minister , isn’t just how to fight it — it’s what happens if and when the experts turn out to be right about the devastating economic consequences of leaving the EU. (See S is for Stab In The Back).

source: 

During the weekend we saw mentions that we live in a “post-fact” world. The case for Great Britain to leave the EU was made through emotional arguments rather than based on facts. We saw that “people are tired of experts”. Every person in favour of Remain has been called names over the last three or four days. When we discussed Brexit and presented facts they were ignored or dismissed. How do you argue with people who have chosen to “believe” rather than “prove with evidence”? You can’t. To them we were scare mongers.

By Sunday at least two or three campaign promises by the BREXIT camp were abandoned as unfeasible.

 

What makes BREXIT so frightening is that 52 percent of the British people who voted in the EU referendum voted for a policy with no concrete action plan. When people campaign for something as drastic as BREXIT you would expect them to have a plan. You would expect them to be jubilant and to say “Here’s our action plan and here is our timetable”. What we got instead were rumours and more opinions.

We are the easyjet Generation. Many of us remember when every European country had its own currency, many of us also remember when borders were guarded and passports were required. Many of us remember traveling to a number of European countries. For many of us asking “Where are you from” meant “Which country are you from”. In this context I really struggle to see how people could be in favour of BREXIT. It goes against logic to have borders once again. What about university studies. What about scientific research, what about cross cultural productions, what about business. What about travel, friendship, and relationships?

I would expect a society living in the information age to look for facts rather than feel good rumours. I would expect a society in the Information age to be harder to trick and indoctrinate. The opposite seems to be true.  I feel sad and sorry for the 48 percent who voted Remain. I hope that the government does what it can to bring their lives back to normal as soon as possible.

Thoughts on the New York Times Article about Project Aristotle and its findings

When I read this article I can’t stop thinking of the Prototyping sessions at Lift 2016. Teams from big corporations worked together to collaborate on exploring new ideas and developing new projects. Some had to work on a video, others had to work on models. Others had to create 2d representations. One set of tables had people working on music, graphics and more.

We had to record a number of interviews and they often said that they enjoyed being out of the office, in a different setting with different people. They spoke about how valuable this experience was and that they wanted to do this frequently, rather than once every few years.

In this article they mention that ‘‘equality in distribution of conversational turn-taking.’’ is important for successful teams. I agree whole-heartedly with this statement. I am not a forceful person, I wait until I am asked a question before speaking. As a result it is easy for me to switch off and think of other things. By finding a team where people listen to everyone else we engage people.

This is a topic discussed in Insanely Simple. It’s a book about Steve Jobs and how Apple works. They speak of the eight-person meeting. If you’re not needed you’re not allowed to be in the room. The focus is on keeping groups small and dynamic rather than large and clunky.

‘‘As long as everyone got a chance to talk, the team did well,’’ Woolley said. ‘‘But if only one person or a small group spoke all the time, the collective intelligence declined.’’. That’s because listening is an act of kindness but no more. What responsibility or accountability do we have in a team where one person takes over the conversation?

‘‘average social sensitivity’’ That’s good for my personality type. When I take personality type tests seriously and for fun I get Intuition as one of the four words… “skilled at intuiting”. Compassion is an important part of good team dynamics. “People on the ineffective teams, in contrast, scored below average. ”

One of the books “Give and Take: A Revolutionary Approach to Success” explores this idea in depth. It devotes quite a bit of time exploring team dynamics within the Simpsons creative team. It speaks about authorship, co-writing and collaboration as keys to success. It speaks about letting people work a first draft of the script and getting teams of people to re-work and re-write it. I have heard about this taking place on a lot of television shows. This could be one of the reasons why American television shows are compelling to watch. As teams work on projects everyone feels compassion for the end project, rather than individuals.

What Project Aristotle has taught people within Google is that no one wants to put on a ‘‘work face’’ when they get to the office. No one wants to leave part of their personality and inner life at home. But to be fully present at work, to feel ‘‘psychologically safe,’’ we must know that we can be free enough, sometimes, to share the things that scare us without fear of recriminations.

I started writing this as a facebook comment but saw that I was inspired enough to write a blog post instead.

 

Pride and media consumption

I enjoyed reading the Unbearable Lightness of Being so much that I read every book by Milan Kundera. I also read every book by Albert Camus because I enjoyed reading La Peste so much. Laura M. Holson wrote an article about “Unplugging without FOMO” which I skimmed after someone on twitter commented on twitter that Screen Shot 2015-03-29 at 18.45.06

and I strongly disagree with this person’s view. It brings us to the conversation about high and low culture. I take the view that media consumption should be focused on high culture. For my dissertation I watched hundreds of documentaries. I watched every David Attenborough documentary, every Jacques Yves Cousteau documentary. I read many books and articles on the topic of the documentary genre and as a result I take pride in the knowledge that I have acquired in the process.

When I skimmed through the article I saw that the discussions were about low culture, about tabloid topics. They speak about things that I would never discuss as they are of no importance or interest. These are things that have no effect on my quality of life.

At the same time I do feel the usual regret. Mid to late adopters came to social media, made it tabloid and then complain about the stream which they and their friends generated. In my childhood I read encyclopedia articles during breakfast, as a teen I spent hours in computer rooms learning about webmastering and search engine optimisation before others were interested. I was experimenting with video compression tools in the late 1990s and gained a deep understanding of the tools that would lead from new media to social media. The conversations were about culture and people took a constructive attitude.

From 2009 onwards I saw the shift away from personal conversations between friends to the hunt for followers and the loss of the personal connection and I blogged about it. As I went back to read the article about unplugging so I see a reaction to what I have been saying for years now. Articles are being written for people with no staying power. Social networks are becoming broadcast rather than exchange and the superficiality of the web is driving people away.

I am happy that social media and microblogging are beyond their sell by date because it means that I can give time up to blogging once again. I can once again discuss topics that interest me in long form. It means that we will spend more time reading, more time learning once again. That is the beauty of the shift away from social media.

In reality I have nothing to gain from participating in the Meme media. Même media, the Same media. The media where people use hashtags to be certain that they are in the flock, the flock of hashtag users rather than conversationalists.

If I can’t converse I will have a monologue and people who are like minded will find me and we shall converse away from the madding crowd. Someday I will read that book. I love to read and I love to write. Today I am doing both as it’s raining outside.

Screen Shot 2015-03-29 at 19.14.02

 

Audible books and Kindle Unlimited

This year I have set myself the goal of reading 30 books. I am currently on track to reaching that goal. Most of my reading material comes from two sources. Audible.com and amazon.de. What I like about reading books via Audible.com is the freedom it gives me to do something at the same time as people are telling me stories.

This habit was born from listening to podcasts while I went for hour long walks. Over time podcasts went down in quality and my time was taken up by other activities. As a result of the scarcity of time I moved towards audible books. Audible books provide me with an opportunity to listen to stories and learn whilst I do other things. I can listen to them while I commute, while I go for hikes or while I mow the lawn. As a result of this ability to multitask I have finished many more books than I would finish if I was only reading.

I am an audible platinum member and I pay in advance. This gives me the option to buy 23 books a year. Audio books are not cheap when you buy them individually so buying a subscription makes sense. Below a certain price I buy the books and use credit when the value justifies it. For at least two years I have felt justified in keeping the subscription.

I am lucky because I like to read on electronic devices. I have used iphones, android phones, iPads, iPad Mini, Tablets and a kindle for reading. As a result of this I always have several books with me at all times. I have a tendency to buy many more books than I have the time to read. This is especially true of books when they cost less than an airport coke. Eventually I will get to read them.

Today I took a step which may make conventional book readers envious. I will test Kindle Unlimited for the next month. I can “borrow” up to ten books simultaneously per month. I can be as uncommitted as ever with books. I am working through the James Bond Collection and reading three history volumes at the same time.  I “read” the history volumes as audio books and this allows me to enjoy the nice weather we have had. When I am in a fixed location I can read James Bon books on the kindle.

At the end of the trial month we will see whether I keep using Kindle unlimited.

Rome’s Lost Empire

Documentaries have been a passion of mine for as long as I can remember. This year I started with the Documentary Rome’s Lost Empire narrated by Dan Snow. With Sarah, an associate professor they travel from Rome to Transylvania, to Petra and to Tunisia to uncover the Roman Frontier. Using a mixture of both satellite and Lidar imagery they are able to identify archeological sites before going to them in person. The documentary provided me with a greater understanding of how technology helps archeologists today to do their job and to provide me with information about aspects of Roman Civilisation that I had not spent too much time thinking about. For this reason I recommend that you watch the documentary.