Tuesday, August 07, 2012

JDS Insights: June 2012

No screens!
Following on from the wonders of exams, June is full of report-writing for teachers. Most of mine had been done a little earlier because the pupils I teach tend to go on exam leave before the rest of the school.

It *should* have felt more like the summer was approaching, winding down time of year. But it didn't. I think it was purely because of the weather. Instead of me feeling too warm in my suit and tie, I was still wearing a jacket to and from school. Sometimes even a jumper!

Outside school, three interesting things happened this month.

First, we had our downstairs decorated through this month. It was difficult at first because the place was a mess. Me being the control freak that I am, I find this state of affairs always difficult to deal with. That and dust on my clothes left me more than a little perturbed.

Second, my reading material moved on from brain-based stuff to...more brain-based stuff! Same guy as last month, but this time with his attention turned to the babies.

Fascinating stuff of course - and goes some way to explaining the behaviour of some of the boys I teach. As I mentioned in May's Post, the evolutionary, biological viewpoint makes his explanations compelling. He also advocates some interesting stuff given the 21st century - such as avoiding *any* screen contact for babies until the age of two...

The third thing for this month was a foray into men's style. Now, I enjoy dressing up, choosing clothes and - dare I say it - shopping. I actually spent more on clothes than Wife last year. And Sister is persistently taking the credit for my sense of style. (To be fair to Her, She probably got it started with me - and I value Her opinion. She finds it harder to explain Her thought process though because She's so instinctively stylish...)

My journey started with losing weight a few years ago - a great excuse to spend money on clothes. In fact it became a necessity. Again - interest has increased because of my more recent weight-loss - but there was a more compelling reason this time.

Back in March I met up with the other two wise monkeys and had a brilliant time. We met again this month - but with a specific purpose: To Pimp The Monkey. Angry White Teenager Monkey was going to get styled by Circus-Bacon Monkey and Mixed-Up Desperate Monkey. It all started (as these things often do) with a silly conversation making fun of what Angry White was wearing. We took pity on him and set a date to meet early on a Saturday morning in Oxford Street. We were going to be his Personal Shoppers.

In preparation, I sent out an email to get the others thinking. The feedback I got really surprised me. In fact the whole day surprised me. I spent most of it spouting opinion and thought and bouncing ideas of Circus-Bacon (all in service of Angry White). At the end of the day, from the feedback, I realised that I had:
1) provided real value - a whole world of style had opened up,
2) created a strong foundation for the day with an insightful, well-structured email, and
3) knowledge and expertise that could be useful for other well-intentioned men out there.

We also realised that we'd never actually been shopping for clothes with other blokes. Not only did we discuss style, clothes, shopping and all that jazz - but also our experience of masculinity as it related to style. We were growing together aware of our own emotional-backwardness.

Apart from all this, it was absolutely hilarious.

Needless to say, I'm investigating taking this idea further.

Enjoy the insights.*

Jun 01: Craving admiration kills fulfilment.
Jun 02: Awareness is always growing.
Jun 03: All parents do the best they can with the tools they have.
Jun 04: Parents want the best for their children. They don't always know how to express it.
Jun 05: It's possible to upgrade the tools we inherited for living.
Jun 06: Doing more than one thing at a time dilutes my experience.
Jun 07: Evolve or stagnate - personal choice.
Jun 08: Nothing will always be filled with something. Nothing pulls for creating.
Jun 09: Style is not fashion.
Jun 10: I can be fashionable but have no style.
Jun 11: Style is as much about understanding who I am as it is what I choose to wear.
Jun 12: Nothing is ever a done deal.
Jun 13: We are all uniquely similar and similarly unique.
Jun 14: Just because I think it's a good idea doesn't mean it is.
Jun 15: Just because I think it's a bad idea doesn't mean it is.
Jun 16: We find it hard to recognise the truth - even when it's right in front of us.
Jun 17: We tolerate more nonsense in our lives than we are willing to admit.
Jun 18: Embracing change is amongst the most difficult things for a human.
Jun 19: Keeping things messy is a great structure for staying upset.
Jun 20: I can always go further than I initially realise.
Jun 21: Everything in our lives has its proper place.
Jun 22: The more things are in their proper place, the more space for interesting things to happen.
Jun 23: Every choice I make is an expression of something. To choose consciously is true creation.
Jun 24: Fear is not wholly unhealthy.
Jun 25: It's a challenge to realise that there is more to life than survival.
Jun 26: Spending more time on my intellect than my appearance makes less difference than being present.
Jun 27: We make more of a contribution to others than we are aware of.
Jun 28: We could live like everything someone says to us is a contribution to us.
Jun 29: Contribution to others does not happen in isolation.
Jun 30: If I can't see results of my actions it's difficult to keep continuing. Success is creating a compelling reason to continue.

*All Mine

Thursday, August 02, 2012


Each uniquely similar and similarly unique.
I enjoy films a lot. I love the escapism, the reality, the hyper-reality. I love the story made (almost) real. I feel personal relationships with some characters in films. They are part of me.

For my generation, films provide an easy talking topic. A joint point of reference. Popular culture is part of our lives; combined with the pace of (technological) change and our defining moments are blurred.

We are post-modern.

I think I was in the post-university, pre-married phase. It was that time when I'd shaken of the shackles of school and started developing my own personality. I was having a film-based discussion with one of my friends. This was a guy who studied English literature and read *LOTS*. He also loved films. During our geeky discussion he said something like, "I've always wanted to watch the first film from one trilogy, the second from another and the third from yet another - just to see if anything interesting happens."

Of course we then began debating which films to watch...

I forgot all about this discussion for a while and then, during a particularly geeky film debate (argument) I was winning with CircusBoy I mentioned the idea of watching three semi-unrelated films. I can't quite remember who gave birth to the phrase but the word 'untrilogy' was born.*

Over the years we talked about it. We had twitter discussions about it (#untrilogies #untrilogy of course!) and continued arguing about minutiae.

Also over the years, it's become a fascinating discussion and guaranteed easy ice-breaking non-controversial discussion between casual acquaintances or good friends. It even makes friends from acquaintances.

The wonderful part of this discussion is that anyone can suggest pretty much any set of films and get creative about how they link. It's an excuse to talk about our favourite films, formative years, and particular influences. It reveals our personalities to people in an interesting way.

Our generation always has opinions about films. Our joint point of reference. Popular culture is part of our lives; combined with the pace of (technological) change and our defining moments are blurred.

We are post-modern.

Taking this all a step further, I began to record untrilogies. I then met AlcockMichael at TheFella's recent birthday meal. He suggested creating a tumblr around the idea. So I have.

Submit, quote, tweet, link and add all your untrilogies there.

* A few friends and I even watched the first Untrilogy: Three Kings, Dr. Strangelove and Apocalypse Now.** We made the mistake of watching the Redux edition. I think that put us all off watching an untrilogy because we never did it again.

**The link was 'war'.