Just Because It’s Your Hypothesis, Doesn’t Mean It’s The Correct One

I love these thoughts from Carl Sagan:

Try not to get overly attached to a hypothesis just because it’s yours. It’s only a way station in the pursuit of knowledge. Ask yourself why you like the idea. Compare it fairly with the alternatives. See if you can find reasons for rejecting it. If you don’t, others will.

It comes from a longer piece about challenging “facts” and “authorities” in the search for something closer to truth. You can read more here: Carl Sagan’s tools for critical thinking and detecting bullshit.

Facebook Guilt Trips

I’ve been fairly inactive on Facebook in recent months. One of the benefits of that is having an opportunity to see a variety of Facebook Guilt Trips in action. Here’s today’s:

I don’t remember which Page I unfollowed. I’m pretty sure I won’t feel to guilty about it.

When kids start treating the staff poorly

Reconcilable Differences #66, titled "Inherent Injustice", is both hilarious and cringeworthy for parents. The hosts, Merlin Mann and John Siracusa, were talking about raising young kids, setting examples for them, and issuing parental edicts.

Reconcilable Differences #66, titled “Inherent Injustice”, is both hilarious and cringeworthy for parents. The hosts, Merlin Mann and John Siracusa, were talking about raising young kids, setting examples for them, and issuing parental edicts.

I started giggling at around 31 minutes when they were discussing how kids seem to struggle with this idea that their parents are not servants who exist to cater for their every whim. I had to share this:

I had another laugh at about 1:01:30 when Mann and Siracusa started talking about resolving inconsistencies in rules that parents make for kids. I definitely have a preference for Siracusa’s approach. As with terrorists, there are times when you just don’t negotiate with kids about rules.

This was probably one of the funniest discussions I’ve heard for a while on this show. Even if you don’t listen to the show (and it can be an acquired taste), definitely spend a few minutes listening to these discussions.

The Great Israeli Umbrella Fraud

Each Winter, Israelis are taken in by the Great Israeli Umbrella Fraud, and someone has to speak out. Today, that someone is me.

Each Winter, Israelis are taken in by the Great Israeli Umbrella Fraud, and someone has to speak out. Today, that someone is me.

As you may (or may not) know, Winter is our rainy season (it’s literally the only time of the year when we have rain). It’s cold, wet, and I like it (mostly). Each year, Israelis are tempted by a wide variety of rain resistance devices, commonly known as “umbrellas”.

They seem like a good idea, when it’s not raining.

And each year, Israelis buy these devices in the hope that they will protect them from volumes of water falling from the sky (ie, “rain”). Unfortunately, this belief is sorely misplaced.

You see, after what feels like 9 months of summer, we Israelis forget that, when it rains, we also often have wind, the strength and determination of which rivals saftas at a gefilta fish sale, the day before Pesach. In other words, the wind can be really strong and it hits you from the side, as if out of nowhere!

Not such a good idea, in the clear light of a cloudless day … after the fact.

At that point, all your well-intentioned plans to not get wet are dashed, like leaves and small creatures swept away by the torrents of rain water down the road beside you. Inevitably, your Rain Saviour is exposed for the sham it really is, and you are forced to abandon it.

Here’s the painful truth: umbrellas are a con that we fall for every year. The only good defence against the dark, rain-bearing clouds is a decent water-resistant jacket of some description.

Photo by Rhendi Rukmana on Unsplash

Yes, you feel more exposed being out there with nothing to hold above your head. But let’s face it, that thin membrane supported by a fragile metal frame is a false sense of cover, at best.

At worst, it’s another fraud perpetrated by seasonal umbrella sales people, taking advantage of those of us with very short memories, and a little anxiety about this strange change in the weather from unbelievably hot and dry to cold, very wet, and jetstream windy!

There is hope. It’s not too late.

Even though Winter already seems to be thinking about heading south, we may still have some wet weather ahead.

Discard your deceptive rain protection device and embrace the rain jacket. Stand tall, stoop only to keep your face pointing away from the deluge, and duck to avoid low hanging, dripping branches.

Ride out the rain for as long as we have it. It will soon be the other season and we can forget these challenges, at least until next year when all the umbrellas go on sale again.

Featured image by Todd Diemer on Unsplash

Sanity check: “Surely you jest?”, you may ask? Yes, I do. Mostly. 😊

Be a better man

Today's random sampling of the crap men still do to women in 2017 is both a source of despair, and inspiration to be a better man.

Today’s random sampling of the crap men still do to women in 2017 is both a source of despair, and inspiration to be a better man.

I’m not just talking about starting in 2018, I’m talking about starting today, right now.

Why wait until the new year to start figuring out how to be a better human being?

It’s 2017, we can send people into space, and talk to our phones. Surely we men can come to terms with this idea that the women we live and work with are just as smart and capable as we are (often smarter and more capable) .

Good grief, men, this is what it means to man up!

Photo by Samantha Sophia on Unsplash

The rat race and our search for Happiness

Steve Cutts' video titled "Happiness" is disturbingly accurate portrayal of so many aspects of our daily lives. When I watch this video, I can't help but wonder why we buy into all these promises of happiness, and chase them so relentlessly?

Steve Cutts‘ video titled “Happiness” is disturbingly accurate portrayal of so many aspects of our daily lives. When I watch this video, I can’t help but wonder why we buy into all these promises of happiness, and chase them so relentlessly?

Cutts’ work seems to capture so much of the futility of so much of what we do to achieve happiness in our lives. There is a better way to live our lives. Realising that and shifting our perspective isn’t as easy as it seems, though.

42

Today is my birthday, I'm 42. This year has been an interesting one, to say the least. I’ve been thinking about what to write about it for a couple months and, as I sit here writing this, I’m not entirely sure what to make of it.

Today is my birthday. I’m 42.

I’ve never been a “well, a birthday is just another number” person. To me, each birthday is a special day, an event to celebrate.

I usually celebrate my birthdays with a “Me Day” if the day falls mid-week. Last year I took the day off, watched one of my favourite movies, and went for a photowalk around my city.

Living in interesting times

This year has been an interesting one, to say the least. I’ve been thinking about what to write about it for a couple months and, as I sit here writing this, I’m not entirely sure what to make of it.

I left my job at InboundJunction in March (it didn’t work out for a couple reasons and my contract was terminated), and I’ve been looking for a job since then. I started doing some freelance marketing work around the same time but my main focus has been on my search for a fulltime position.

As I write this, I’ve applied for 148 positions (I have 67 current applications). Many of the companies I’ve approached and interviewed at, are remarkable companies. One thing that has struck me during my job search is just how many amazing opportunities there are here in Israel.

Granted, not all of those companies are my dream employers but those companies are in the distinct minority. Whatever may be going on in the rest of the world, Israel is buzzing.

Code, the Universe and Everything

One of the benefits of the Israeli social net is about 7 months of unemployment benefits to help get you back on your feet. You can’t retire on the monthly payments but they give you some breathing room.

Rather than spending my time watching Netflix in between job applications, interviews, and occasional freelance work, I started learning to code in earnest. I started with HTML (I knew some HTML but my knowledge was patchy), moved on to CSS, and just kept going.

Although I’ve wanted to learn to code for decades (literally), I never really got around to it (aside from developing a proficiency in MultiMarkdown, and picking up a little Python 2.7.x last year). Being unemployed with time on my hands gave me the perfect opportunity.

A couple factors pushed me off my procrastination ledge. One was seeing our son learning basic JavaScript on Code.org earlier this year. Another was watching a friend of ours spend a few minutes showing us a few simple (yet awesome) command line “tricks”. Then, there is this terrific video from Code.org:

Learning to code has helped me realise that code creates possibilities. Like Karlie Kloss said, “understanding coding is … like a superpower”. It takes from a place where you wish “someone” made that thing you want, to be able to make it yourself.

My journey that started with <!doctype html> has taken me through a fantastic world where, using a text editor and an Internet connection, you can build amazing things. Here are a few of the languages I’ve learned (in varying degrees):

  • HTML;
  • CSS;
  • JavaScript (including Node.js, React and Ember);
  • WordPress-oriented PHP;
  • Shell scripting (I’ve learned to love the command line);
  • Build tools like gulp, npm scripting, and even a little Webpack and grunt; and
  • Git.

I feel like I’m just getting started. There is far more that I don’t know (and want to learn). And yet each time I write code that does something, it’s thrilling!

Along the way I’ve created projects that use what I’ve learned. They include little ones like this birthday site I created for our son when he turned 10, and bigger ones like Modiin Bus (currently being overhauled as I learn).

My coding journey has consumed me. There is always something to learn, code to improve, and projects to build. My personal writing and photography have taken a back seat (as you may have noticed). At the same time, I’ve gained so much in the process.

For one thing, learning to code opens the door to a whole new line of work for me. Rather than being limited to content marketing, I can explore web development roles too[1], and everything in between.

Mostly Househusband

One of the huge perks of my protracted job search is being home for most of the year. It’s almost given my wife and I an opportunity switch traditional roles.

She goes to work (as an awesome account manager at mySupermarket) and I take the kids to school, handle much of the housework[2], manage play-dates and after-school activities.

Being unemployed also made the annual school summer vacation (2 months!) so much easier to handle, logistically, because I was around to take and fetch from holiday camps, and be with the kids when they were just on vacation.

Although the challenges of my job search haven’t always been conducive to recognising the gifts of my current status, the experience of working from home all this time has highlighted what is most important to me.

Rather than never being around due to the demands of an intensive career that keeps me away from home, I’ve been around to watch our kids grow up over the last year.

It’s been a busy period, for sure. I am definitely not the type of person who’ll toss in a load of laundry and veg out till the kids come home. I’m constantly learning more code in between my freelance work, job search, and being here for our kids.

In the meantime, Gina’s career is blooming. She moved into a new account management role a few months ago and is awesome at it. I’m proud of her and of what she’s accomplished. If me being home has given her a little more space to do that, then this is yet another benefit.

So long, and thanks for all the .zsh

Of course, it didn’t escape me that there is something special about this birthday.

While I don’t have all the answers (not even remotely), perhaps being 42 brings a few answers to the questions that I haven’t been able to answer so far.

At the very least, I feel like I have a better grasp on what’s really important, and what isn’t. Regardless of where I may find myself working (hopefully soon), I am grateful for the opportunities I’ve had this year to learn, grow (a little), and be more present (mostly).

Ultimately, living in Israel (and in most of the world) generally means that both of us need to earn an income. So, my search continues. I love coding[3], I’ve had opportunities to interview at some of today’s most exciting companies, and there is still so much more to do.

I don’t know what lies ahead in 2018 but, as I keep reminding myself when I find myself slipping into Regretsville, we only really have the present moment. Sometimes, the moment we are in can be source of boundless opportunities.

It might even hold the answers we seek.


  1. Roughly half of my current job applications are for coding positions.  ↩
  2. Gina still does most of the cooking.  ↩
  3. Even when it frustrates me, when I suddenly can’t remember how to string a function together, or both.  ↩

Celebrating Women in Tech with the awesome #WITBragDay meme

My favourite meme at the moment is the awesome #WITBragDay meme on Twitter that celebrates women in tech. It seems to have been started by Alice Goldfuss with her tweet.

My favourite meme at the moment is the awesome #WITBragDay meme on Twitter that celebrates women in tech. It seems to have been started by Alice Goldfuss with her tweet:

The result is tweet after tweet of pure inspiration from women in the technology industry. I spent some time reading tweets this morning when I woke up and I found myself smiling because these stories are just awesome.

These women, and others like them, are the perfect response to the odious Damore memo. These stories are also the stories I want both our kids to know, especially our daughter. Heck, these stories inspire me as I learn to code. Here is a selection of some of my favourites:

I’ve created a Twitter Moment for the tweets I love the most. You can find that here too (it may be more complete and up to date):

Image credit: The #WOCinTech collection on Flickr, licensed CC BY 4.0

You can read more about the #WOCinTech project here too: “#WOCinTechChat – Promoting diversity in tech through stock photos