This is the blog of Ash. Being a designer, i will feature some cool design stuff, but i also hope to contribute some of my thoughts on other topics.
Goodness, time flies!
Been doing the Hustle Month thing, but haven’t been great at checking in every day to record my progress. I give it thought before I sleep, but haven’t had the energy to put pen to paper, to fingertip to touchscreen, as the case is.
But week 3 has been challenging - I’m not sure if the little corner of the economy I’m part of is a bit flat, but everyone seems to be very cautious - lots of things on the go, but also lots of people delaying payments.
So that has been taking up a lot of my effort - working the cashflow machine. I picture it (well, someone else did in a book I read, perhaps “Good to Great”?), anyway, I picture it like a huge stone wheel, a flywheel, and you have to trudge a lot to get it moving, but eventually momentum takes over and the effort decreases. I get the sense that the flywheel slowed slightly towards the end of June, so it requires a bit more effort.
Nonetheless, it’s been healthy - on two levels,
1. It’s made me re-evaluate what I’ve slowed down on - my own OPS website. It needs a refresh. So I started the sketch of its overhaul - that’s onepartscissors.com version 8, for those keeping track. We used to update annually, so that should be version 10, but version 7 has been very successful thus far, and hasn’t needed attention. However, I need it to be responsive, and it’s feeling a bit dated now - and the About Us section is actually horrible - its the flash file from v6 dropped in.
2. And more importantly, it’s reminded me of my place in the world - I sometimes need reminding that in 10 years of business, all I’ve done is be a below-average servant of a very Gracious and giving God. Everything I have is from His hand - and he has my back. So I need to remember who my benefactor is - where every cent in my bank account came from.
So the questions:
What did I do today?
Today I worked on a few quick projects, as well as completed a few nagging ones. It was a good productive day, and I got some sketches for my OPS site done. I also posted 3 new stories to my site.
How will it affect tomorrow?
These projects should result in fast income, and the long term effects of keeping my site updated is a good marketing activity.
Did I earn my sleep?
Today I did. This week as a whole hasn’t been productive as I hoped, but they were all factors outside my control, so I feel like I did what I could.
9 July 2012
So Week One of Hustle Month is done.
Although I haven’t blogged consistently every day to review my progress and answer my 3 daily questions, they have been in my mind, and it’s a nice way to end off the day.
Looking back on week one, I can pull the following lessons from my first week of HustleMonth.
1. Reviewing your productivity is a two-edged sword.
It is a very healthy exercise, but it does need to be a set timeframe. It is, after all, not Hustle Year. It’s a healthy thing to do for a defined season, and it helps you zero in on any slackness or laziness that has crept into your daily regime.
I’ve found that on most days, reviewing the day with the three questions was a good thing - it clarified my plan for tomorrow, and allowed me to define if the day was a success or not.
However, one or two of the days I felt it to be a burden, and I had to check myself to stop myself from obsessing about tomorrow or about something that didn’t go well today. You have to keep a healthy frame of mind through the exercise.
I’m realizing that a major component of what I define as success or productivity is Balance. If I achieved a lot economically, but I wasn’t gracious to the people I interacted with, that achievement counts for less. I enjoy the question, ‘what impact did today’s actions have on tomorrow?’. This question can be answered on a practical, as well as philosophical or spiritual level as well - “if I behave as I did today, will I become the person I want to be, or the person I don’t want to be?”
So I’ve found the exercise challenging and rewarding, and quite fun! Certainly a yearly deal for me, I know that now.
So a quick answer to the questions, for last week as a whole and for today:
What did I do today?
Today, I got a fair amount done on some of my more minor projects, which was a good thing - they tend to rack up and cause a bit of anxiety for me, even though they’re not worth much financially, they still need to get done.
I completed one or two projects that have been stalling.
Last week as a whole was a success - I made huge strides towards my larger month’s goals of responsive web design, less so on my iOS app, but still OK progress.
What impact does today’s actions have on tomorrow?
Today’s ‘clearing of the decks’ of smaller projects was good because it frees up my mind for tomorrow, so that’s good, but I should have done something on the iOS app, so that is a failing, which means tomorrow this becomes more pressing.
Did you earn your sleep?
I think I did. As well as achieving plenty on a Business level, we had a great dinner with some newish friends tonight, which was loads of fun, and good for the soul. People first, then things and money.
My wife turns 29 today! I’m so excited for you, my wife!
I’ve watched you grapple with the hardest stuff in the world - life has thrown you more than your fair share of curve balls. I’ve watched as you’ve taken the waves of life on board, and I’ve watched you see your dreams on the horizon, and set your face towards them like a flint.
It excites me so much to watch what you’ve achieved - what we’ve achieved together - but mainly what you’ve done! Your dream of competitive show jumping is within reach. Your goal of starting horseriding long ago achieved - something I know you never thought you’d be able to do. And the goal of owning your own horse - stuff in the realm of madness and fiction in your mind - has happened. You’ve done it my love!! Well done, you deserve it all!
I’ve also watched you grow as a person, blossoming and maturing and evolving like a miracle. I’ve watched with such excitement to see you in your journeys of self discovery, of dealing with your past, and moving into your future. It blows my mind - and we both know it comes from being close to God when the magic happens - so stick with him, trust him, and he’ll look after you.
Knowing that my own life is not likely to be the average full length - that everyone else can to a certain extent rely on - gives me clarity; it gives me focus, and it prioritizes life. It makes it very clear to me who I want to be around. And having you in my life is exhilarating! You add so much colour, excitement, and variety to my life it sometimes makes my head spin! :-) I can’t wait to hear the next crazy idea you’ve dreamed up.
So today, as you step into the final year of your 20’s, I wish you the happiest birthday that you’ve had so far. I love you, my wife, always and forever, a hundred gabillion.
Happy birthday, Mrs Audrey Glover!
Phew, hectic two days! Didn’t even get to review yesterday, so here’s a double-header. It’s the 4th of July, so in honor of North “Bigger-is-Better” America, here’s my review of the day, X 2!
What did I do?
Yesterday was a bit less productive than I hoped - I had a doctors appointment I couldn’t avoid, which cut a dent in the day, but other than that, it was surprisingly productive.
What effect have I had on tomorrow?
Today was a good high impact day, finished off a few small projects and am ready now to begin devoting some big energy towards the iOS app.
Did I earn my sleep?
On balance yes, but yesterday could’ve been heaps better.
And yes, I’m saying ‘heaps’ cos we’re on a Masterchef Australia binge, mate!
2 July 2012
What did I do today?
Today was a good Monday; I took some excellent strides towards a clearer understanding of Responsive Design and how I’d like to do it, by implementing it in a limited fashion in a client’s site (the job at hand is only a ‘slight refresh’, so my time on the project is limited).
But having said that, I made good strides towards completing that project, and implemented a lot of what I learned there in my Responsive Drupal 7 boilerplate.
On the down side, some of the graphic work that is sorely needing to be done didn’t get done today, and for my favorite client as well, so that needs to be done first thing tomorrow. If I complete that, I will judge tomorrow a success.
What impact does today’s actions have on tomorrow?
I’ve got a good head start on the Drupal 7 theme now, so I need to press on there tomorrow, and also complete the stuff I didn’t today.
Did you earn your sleep?
I did. I think i was focused, generous, and motivated.
A tumblr user I follow came up with this interesting idea, and I read his posts with interest last year - Dan’s idea was to devote a month to productivity, and journal that productivity by answering three simple questions:
I liked the idea, and told him so, and he told me that he was getting quite a bit of similar feedback, and that he was going to try make it bigger this year, which he has - check out hustlemonth.com if you’re interested.
So I’ll be participating in Hustle Month, starting now with a recap of yesterday:
1 July 2012
What did I do today?
Today was Sunday, and that means Aerial Yoga in the morning, after that, I chilled with Auds my wife, ahead of a week of full-day work for her, which means we’ll see little of each other and be knackered when we do, so it was good to get quality time in!
What impact does today’s actions have on tomorrow?
On the work-side, I bent a personal rule of not working on the weekends by capturing the payments in and out of my business account so that my accounting program is up to speed, so that i can send out statements, nag those who owe me money, and know who’s priority and who isn’t.
So this has impact on tomorrow (Monday) in that I won’t have to spend the first hour of the day doing that, i can jump right into the projects that need to happen this week, which are legion.
Did you earn your sleep?
Yes, I think I did!
On to day 2!
23 May 2012
So we went to the doc today to hear what is news with my kidneys. I have Polycystic Kidney Disease (it’s the most common hereditary disease you’ve never heard about - Wikipedia has a good page on it, and pkdcure.org is also a good info source) , which, in a nutshell, means that my kidneys grow a whole bunch of cysts - bubbles filled with blood and dodgy liquid and the like. These apply pressure to the useful meat of the kidneys, reducing their ability to clean the impurities out of your blood. Picture a sponge that is squashed tight in your hand - not as useful as one not under pressure.
So the kidneys begin to grow to try and increase their function. But as they grow, so do the cysts, and you end up with massive, but useless, kidneys that can be the size of melons, pushing all your other organs out the way.
So today we discovered that this genetic freak show is well underway in my body - more then we hoped. My left kidney is 3 times the size it should be, and full of large cysts, meaning that it’s function is probably around 25%.
The right one is my good one, it’s still normal size and functioning correctly, but it does also show several small cysts.
The doctor is amazing, he’s been great in putting together an action plan for me. We are protecting the right kidney in several ways:
1. Increasing water intake to help the kidneys flush my system
2. Limiting protein intake to 75g per day
3. Removing, oddly enough, spinach and rhubarb from my diet
4. Because our kidney’s other big function is to create Vitamin D and calcium, he has me on high doses of these, so that my kidneys can use the little function they have to focus on cleaning.
5. And lastly, the stuff that doesn’t impact me at all, because I already do these things by preference: no salt intake, no impact sports, and no alcohol or smoking
So the news isn’t great, but not as bad as it could be. The Doc says that we really only need the kidneys to work for me for the next 10 to 15 years - after that, treatments that are currently in clinical trials will be ready for use, and advancements in transplantation, cloning, stem-cell research, and gene science-y things will mean that a kidney transplant may not be needed at all. Put into perspective, my dad died in 2001, after having had a transplanted kidney for 5 years - and if it were today, and not 2001, he would not have died of the thing that killed him - a heart issue that would have been avoided by standard things we now have. Small, basic medical enhancements save lives in a very real way.
How do I feel?
Although we’ve known I have this disease since 2007, and even before that we were fairly certain, because my dad had it, and it’s hereditary - 50% chance you give it to your kids. So although we knew what the result would be, it still somehow hits you. We’ve been in a bit of a daze, processing all the emotions. My incredible wife Auds is being really brave and amazing as usual, but this was a major shock today for her, which was hard for me to see. But she is processing it well, and I am too.
It’s a funny thing, you know, to be 32, and healthy, and know (with a higher level of certainty than most people do) what will be written on your death certificate as ‘cause of death’. I know nothing is certain, and we can’t see the future, but it does give you pause to have this strangely unique moment to look into the eyes of the creature that seeks your destruction. I said in my Facebook this morning that today I will see with my own eyes the demon growing inside me. It’s a strange thing, to know there is something inside you that takes every mouthful of food you eat and turns it into a poison for you. Something as good as a fillet with salt on top becomes a drop of poison that begins its slow work.
But in all this, I don’t feel hopeless. I know that God holds me in his hands, and whether he heals me, or kills me, or plants the seed of genius inside someone head to provide a cure, that is his business, not mine. As the piece of clay on the potter’s table, I accept how the Potter has formed me. He is weaving a beautiful story in spite of - and sometimes especially making use of, dark threads, scary times, and evil days. The best stories are the ones with the scary parts, the best art has contrast - dark areas and wonderful light areas. God is not scared of black paint, and He is not scared of death, disease and pain. And I trust his use of these things. I welcome them.
We have lots of emotions to process, and this certainly colours every decision we make - we don’t have the luxury of the carefree devil may care approach that most people can enjoy when it comes to big choices like having kids or financial stuff, or whatever.
But it also forces us to make sure every goodbye is a special one, and every good morning is a good one, and every argument is processed as fast as possible. We simply don’t have time for ruined days or wasted opportunities.
So that’s my story. I can ask you, if you’re a person of faith, or offer up a quick word of prayer for Auds quick, and me. If you’re close to us somehow, I ask that you let Auds know you love her - this is harder on her than it is on me, believe me. Picture having to hear that the person you love has a dread disease that is, at this very moment, trying to kill them. It’s like finding out there is an assassin’s contract out on them. Very hard.
So keep us in your thoughts and Outboxes, it’s been more strengthening then I imagined to receive calls and SMS’s from my people - you know who you are. Thank you. You were the hand of God yesterday, tangibly felt.
Hey - now, don’t be strangers, you hear? I demand dinner invites!!!
This is my thousandth post to hashcool.tumblr.com. Now, most of it is reblogs and photos of things I like, but I have tried to use this as a place to catalogue my musings on topics that fascinate me - design and faith primarily, because these are two of the major pillars in my life - two gifts from God. The first I believe is what God built me for - to create with design. The second, faith, is not something I earned either, it’s simply another gift from the preposterously generous dad we have. He loves to give us amazing gifts, He really does.
When thinking about what I should blog about that’s worthy of my first quadruple-digit-numbered post, I guess it’s a good a reason as any to take stock, look back and look forward, and share.
When I look at my life right now, the overriding feeling I have is calm. This is wonderful - its been many years since that is a word I can describe my life with! Life has been a roller coaster these past few years!
Spiritually, I’ve been on an amazing journey the last 3 years. As I write this, I cannot believe I’ve been on this mad journey of getting to know God, falling in love (and out - and back in again) with Jesus - I’ve been on this road for 18 years this year. 1994 was the year God took me, shook me, and changed me into a different creature. He showered me with grace and forgiveness, filled right to the brim - so full, that as I walked away from that experience, still unsure why I felt taller and cleaner - I ran into another student (I was at school - detention), he said to me - “what’s with you?! What did you take???”. I didn’t know what he was on about, until I stopped in the bathroom and saw the goofy, grinning idiot staring back at me in the mirror. I was high. Amazing Grace, how sweet it was.
Wow, what a day!
And then my mind immediately goes to the darker days, the ones in 2010, where I was convinced that God not only didn’t like me - but that he was actively hating me. What a confusing terrible time - but I thank God for that awful time more than the wonderful afternoon in 1994. It was in the dark that I truly realized that I was God’s, and that He was mine. That crisis of the soul was as much my salvation as that first day.
It’s something I’ve begun to realize more - we think of “being saved”, or “becoming a Christian” as a single event, a single decision, a single moment in time. But I don’t think that way anymore. I think it’s more like the way a tree grows - every year we add another ring of growth, and our salvation is each and every ring. God saves us every day. He transforms us a little more all the time. Keeps forgiving us - cos we keep being human. Keeps turning us into new creatures.
My thoughts also go to everyone who hasn’t experienced this awesome journey with God. Many of them have been shown hate by God’s people - we are often so misguided! When non-Christians think of us, many of them think of us - as a group - as unintelligent, full of hate, and hypocritical. I’ve been all three before. Often still am. I can be dangerously stupid!
My journey, going forward, is to make sure in my own life, I get rid of these things. Focus on Grace - God gave it to me, so I need to spread it around a lot! Being informed. And lastly, to avoid being hypocritical - the way I’ve tried to fix that one is by being honest and transparent and authentic. It’s not OK to say everything is great when it’s not. We need to be honest!
These days, when people ask how I’m doing, if my bank account is empty and I’m stressed, that’s what I tell them. But I also remind them - and myself - of the 10 years of God giving me money when I needed it.
It’s not easy, being open about failure or about matters which culture deems sometimes as personal. Please understand - I know what’s appropriate and what isn’t - but often our culture of privacy means we all serve time in solitary confinement. Will someone truly open up at church about their shambles of a life when every person they meet says that they are just doing “AWESOME!!” because God is good (“all the time!!”), and that they’re just doing so well because they’re living in the favor of the Lord. Is the person racked with addiction or broken relationships going to feel like its safe to open up? There’s a reason addicts go to AA and not to church, and church has better coffee, so it’s not that. (just a disclaimer - please don’t think I’m being down on AA or mocking, or somehow suggesting church should compete with AA. I love those 12 step programs - they are God’s church on this earth, I truly believe that. Jesus sits in every AA and NA meeting around this world, I know it. Ask him when you see him. It’s true.)
So for the poor bastard who’s bank account is empty and there’s more bills than dollar bills - does that mean God’s favor is not on them? Is God not good all the time then? (I’ve been that poor bastard - so I know the answer - they feel alone and forsaken by God)
So I guess my journey going forward will be to continue to struggle and strive with God. Work out my salvation with Him. Wrestle with Him and ask Him questions. Live with Him. I’ll keep trying to live a life emulating Him.
As for people? I’m gonna love them, forgive them, shower them with Grace and point them to Jesus. He knows what he’s doing. His plan for them is so complex and ridiculous, if He told me what it was, I’d just say, “oh no, that’ll never work, you know what you should do? Lemme tell you…”
So I’m gonna try and show people how he loves us by loving my wife with all my strength. Showing his forgiveness and grace by doing that for others.
I’ll fail, of course, and I know that, and so does Jesus. Perfection isn’t what I’m after. It’s the journey.
Knowing that success isn’t my goal is quite liberating. (it’ll be nice, of course, but it’s not my goal). I want to finish this thing up and know that through it all, I can lay my head down knowing I did my best to get to know Jesus and live with Him. It won’t be perfect, it will be messy, but sheesh, it’ll make for a good story, and I’ll tell it to Simon Peter when I get to heaven… I think he seems the sort to have a hearty booming laugh, and I think he’ll enjoy a good story. :-)
And now, back to your regularly schedule programming of cool design, funny memes, sarcasm about politics, and the occasional glimpse into my life.
Onto post 1,001!!!!!
Sad to see this chap has died - being not American, it doesn’t affect me, but i think it’s sad that this guy had an amazing career for 40 year-odd, was beloved by everyone in the nation (They affectionately called him “Joe Pa”), and then right at the very end, he handled a situation a bit poorly, was fired in disgrace and died shortly thereafter.
What a short, sharp ending to a man’s life, huh?
If you died today, how would your story end?
The next thing I learned while in Rome, on my first visit outside of South Africa, is that we can afford to do things with the same amount of care and pride that Europeans do things. By comparison we South Africans are quite sloppy in our work. What I observed in Rome is that the Italians do everything with a level of pride and a certain aspiration towards excellence. Everything - from the way they put up neat, clean, barriers when they are renovating something (pictured below), to the way that the shop assistants in the stores handle the transactions with such care.
A good example of this - my wife Auds went to a makeup shop that would be similar to the Body Shop here - and the experience here at the Body Shop is quite good anyway, but the way the transaction was carried out really made me notice - the girl at the counter took great care in choosing the right size packet for the amount of shopping Auds had - rang it all up, was really friendly despite the awkwardness of a language barrier, when the card machine spat out the slip, she took the slip out, produced a pair of scissors, and neatly cut the slip into two - one for the merchant, and one for us. Ours was given back to us, and a small gift was popped into the bag with our shopping.
I realize this is really a small thing - using scissors instead of just kinda using the side of the table to tear the slip in two - ensuring to tear through perhaps the date or the total, making it tricky when you need to return the goods if needs be. It is small - and that’s my point. It’s a level of pride that was foreign to me. This is a level of pride that sweeps from making sure the Vatican Museums are neat and tidy in spite of constant renovation - right down to making sure the receipt in your wallet is cut nice and straight.
This level of excellence gave me a startling realisation about Africa and South Africa. We spend a lot of time telling ourselves that we are “A World Class African City”, that we are the “New York” of Africa - that South Africa is the shining example to the rest of Africa, and that we are creative, unique, and innovative, and that we are poised to - any day now, (any day now!!), hit the world stage by storm - that we will rise up and compete globally in various markets and industries.
This is comforting to hear, isn’t it? We’re living in the best country - heck, probably the best city - on our continent. We are the miracle baby of democracy. We are a shining light to the world! It’s comforting, but sadly, I don’t believe it’s true.
China knows it’s strengths - mass production and cheap labour to name but two - and they are harnessing that to allow them to compete on a global scale. They do not attempt to have the American “Go Get Em, Tiger” attitude that has inspired so much innovation and wealth generation - and they don’t have the spirit of excellence I witnessed in Europe. They really don’t - and they are OK with that - they have identified the way they can compete, and their place in the world stage. If they tried to create a luxury brand to compete with Louis Vitton or someone like that - they would fail. But they don’t do that, do they?
They are not self deluded.
We, as South Africans, I’m afraid - are. We do feel that because we are this miracle story (Madiba! Madiba!), we will get special rules applied to us. We will be treated differently, and we won’t have to be as excellent as the Europeans.
But the world’s standards won’t change to suit us. We will either need to up our game - to their level, or find out place in their world. We need to find our place in our world!
For the most part, people struggled to even know what South Africa was. I got some vague “Ah, lions!” and one “Ah, the World Cup 2010 was bad for us!”, but for the most part, we are from Nowhere.
I don’t have answers - i’m not sure what our place is. I’m not sure where we fit into this “Global Village” puzzle. I do know we have potential, but I now know that it isn’t unlimited potential, and it’s not even as large as I thought it was.
That may sound negative - it may sound like the words of one of our many fleeing soon-to-be expats. But I’m not - i love it here, and I love living here. But if we ignore our weaknesses, or delude ourselves by saying we have strengths we actually don’t have - we will never find our niche. We will always be one of those nameless faceless countries. You know the ones I mean - it’s the longer list of the 193 countries which you can’t think of right now.
So i guess what I learned is that we are a tiny place far from everywhere, and we need to learn what we can bring to the big people’s table if we plan to sit with them.
What do you think we can bring?