turning 40

Ten years ago, I carved out a Saturday and invited whoever wanted to turn up to an all-day cafe crawl. For the transition from 39 to 40, life is a little differently structured. We had a couple of family events the weekend before my birthday, lunch with my coworkers on the day, an ice cream cake with Kel and the kids on the birthday evening, then a shorter (5 cafes – Haven, Devon, Artificer, Edition and Gumption, 8 coffees – filter, espresso, espresso, filter, espresso and filter, piccolo, iced pour-over) cafe crawl on the Saturday following my birthday.

espresso

Then we had a larger party at inflatable world for my friends with bouncing-castle-aged friends, in order of how long since I’d seen them. When I was first thinking about it, it seemed like a very odd thing to do for a 40th birthday party – aren’t we supposed to be grown-ups by now? Does everyone in my life feel comfortable coming to a place whose core business is school-aged birthday parties?

But talking to a friend, and thinking about what it would look like to celebrate with friends with younger kids, it sounded like a good idea. We filled the remaining spaces with a few people I see more regularly, but for the most part it was about seeing people with whom I have a long shared history. Looking back at a keepsake I had from my 21st, it was amazing to see how many people from my 21st are still in my life in some way.

inflatable world

Then last night we had a small dinner gathering in a cafe for a bunch of friends I’ve known for a very long time. Despite all that celebrating, there was still not enough space to invite everyone I wanted to catch up with, but for the most part people have been understanding of the constraints.

In this current season of life, where family is more time consuming and I am, again, adjusting to a relatively new job, even though I’m not currently studying, the luxury of spending hours talking to people with no specific agenda is not lost on me.

Looking at the various notes and cards from people, it’s great to have so many well-wishes. I’ve been challenged to spend more time engaging with people beyond the superficial, to try and make a lasting difference in their lives – it seems like this was happening more when I was in my early 20’s than more recently.

It’s only taken a little while to come to terms with forty as an age. I thought I’d made my peace with it not being “old” (whatever that means), but then a typo saw me have to contemplate turning 49, and suddenly I realise there’s more work to be done on that front.

Thanks to all my friends, whether you even knew any of this was happening or not: I appreciate your friendship and encouragement, and look forward to many more years together, if God grants me such years.

why you should buy this photocopier

Recently I watched this TED talk about charity, and how to measure effectiveness of what’s being done in the not-for-profit space.

There are some great ideas contained there. There’s a commonly held notion that the percentage of donation income that covers overhead the single number that you need to read, to know which charity is good or bad. The lower the number, the better the charity. 

But there’s more to a charity than just the overhead number. Only when the size of the charity reaches a certain point can a full-scale national advertising campaign become viable. If you just put fliers up at the local laundromat, you can raise a small amount of money, but if you want to grow beyond a small size, there’s a lot of extra money that needs to be invested in overhead.

Donors always want to put their money towards the most tangible efforts of a charity. No-one wants to spend the money on the salary of the person who looks after the head office, or the equipment they need to keep the charity ticking over.

photcopier

I found it a convincing argument. Enough to chip in to buy this photocopier. Convinced? You should chip in too.

Movie: Spotlight

Spotlight is a Tom McCarthy (director of The Station Agent) film with an ensemble cast of seasoned Hollywood actors. Though not passing the Bechdel test, the presence of Rachel McAdams in the reporting team helped balance out what would otherwise be a throughly male-dominated environment.

This movie seems like the logical, fictional successor to the 2006 documentary Deliver Us from Evil. Both look at systemic abuse of children in the Catholic church, but present a different approach and structure. In the case of Spotlight, the subject matter is explored through the actions of a team of investigative reporters from the Boston Globe newspaper.

There are a lot of scenes with members of the reporting team: a group of lapsed Catholics, talking about the challenges of faith when they look at a system of organised religion that let them down. While not showing actual abuse in the film, the ideas of abuse of children are discussed in significant detail – if this is something you find upsetting, you’ll want to skip this one.

Otherwise, it’s a well-made feature with a compelling story, and impressive performances from a range of actors.

running before you can walk

Running the wrong way

You don’t have to look too far to find half-a-dozen tips on how to make this or that social network sing for you. A series of tips to increase engagement, or to having a more disciplined content creation schedule.

Engagement is a good thing – having someone keen to read what you have to say is great. But this can be a case of losing sight of the forest when concentrating on the trees.

There is a time for refining the exact words of your social media post, for understanding the current trend with regard to images or videos, knowing the emerging trends: virtual reality, the Internet of Things, even working out what kind of metadata you can gather from your visitors’ interactions so you can be informed as you make changes over time.

But all of this is too specific and hands-on: it’s running before you have learned to walk.

Instead, ask yourself some more fundamental questions.

What change do you want to see: in yourself, from creating all this content? Do you want to meet new influencers who can help you understand your craft better? To improve your reputation as an expert? To have a structure for the reading you’re already doing?

What change do you want to see in the people who see your content? Are you seeking to create a community where nothing existed before? Do you want to augment an existing community (offline or online) with new conversations, content and opportunities? How will you manage the risks involved in making these changes – to help people change is generally more challenging than we think at first.

Before you try to decide on metrics, networks, and even platforms, you need a criteria for success in your endeavour. Before you improve your skills and understanding of tactics, you need to make sure your vision and strategy is well-aligned to what change you want to see in the world.

Photo Credit: Marcelo Nava via Compfight cc

Blackwood Pantry, Cronulla

The Grounds Coffee. Shop 5, 33 Surf Lane, Cronulla. I saw this one via Instagram activity, and it looked like a perfect storm of coffee and food enthusiasm. For a place that has only just opened, they’re doing spectacularly well – the front-of-house staff are courteous and efficient, the coffee-making staff are skilled and knowledgable and the kitchen staff are professional and churning out delicious, creative food.

Blackwood Pantry, Cronulla. Shop 5/33 Surf Lane.

We arrive in time for a late lunch and find the place is crowded, and there’s a wait. We’re immediately added to a waitlist, and seated well in advance of the expected waiting time – always good to under-promise and over-deliver on wait times.

An initial coffee order is taken while we look at the Summer menu; there’s a small set of kids options which are well explained (the fruit paddle pop is actually a frozen fruit puree, not a fruit kebab) and delivered ahead of the grown-up meals.

Blackwood Pantry, Cronulla. Where the Magic Happens

But it’s the coffee that’s a pleasant surprise. Among the coffee options are aeropress and V60. I order a V60 – the coffee on offer changes each week; this week’s is from Small Batch Roasters in Melbourne, the previous week was Reuben Hills. Staff choose the filter coffee in a cupping session, and fill in the tasting notes themselves.

Blackwood Pantry, Cronulla. V60 Ethiopian Chele'lektu

Their milk coffee game is strong too: it’s a well-presented standard Grounds offering.

Blackwood Pantry, Cronulla. Flat White

It looks like this place is going to find a solid customer base for Cronulla locals who want creative, well-made food paired with changing coffee.

Official website – http://www.blackwoodpantry.com.au/

movie: The Big Short

Movie: The Big Short

A star-studded take on the Global Financial Crisis that’s part drama, part TED talk, and regularly breaks the fourth wall to help explain advanced financial concepts to the audience. Some needless adult content that seems to be included to push up the rating rather than help serve the plot. Perhaps its biggest risk is making the viewer seem like they’ve accessed an unbiased account of events, rather than a particular, incomplete take, but an enjoyable journey for the most part.
 

Movie: The Hateful Eight

Movie: The Hateful Eight

Tarantino’s latest movie is part mystery, part character study of awful people, part scenes of violence that are in keeping with his usual tradition. The cinematography is strong – especially for a film that’s so often set in enclosed spaces.

There’s so much objectionable content, it’s hard to know where to start. But if you like his work, you’ll like it.