Big rocks (including Churchill: A life)

There is the old analogy for getting things done of filling a jar with rocks, stones and sand.  If you don’t start with the rocks then they won’t fit later.  Of course, if you do put in some big rocks, then all the stones and sand won’t fit.  So, recently I seem (a little foolishly) to have four ‘rock class’ activities on the go at once.  Space for things like blogs, random small projects, looking at things friends have done (not had enough time to really look at Save Every Step yet for example), wide reading and the like has firmly taken the back seat.  One of them is work – I am deep into a very large, very complex, and very high pace project, and whilst it is firmly on the rails, it takes us a fair bit of effort to keep it there.  But that is no excuse for activities outside work, so what else is going on?

First up has been that I decided that I would try and knock up a web site.  Many many moons ago I used to design software, and it irked me that the times that I could just knock up a programme to do something were long gone.  In addition, per post here, I have been looking for something more that a to-do list to manage home activities – something that helped us balance what needed to be done with what we enjoy doing and the balance in life, not just make us feel bad for things not done.  I have looked about at what exists a bit, but having not found much, so I thought I would put this together with a desire to get back into a bit of programming.

So far, I have the heavy lifting including storing desired activities and working out how they fit across the time that a group of people have across a year, as well as getting it live on the internet rather than just a home server …. but it’s still firmly not friendly enough for the big bad world, so no link from here yet.  Not that it’s really intended for the world, albeit it’s written in a way that would cope; we want it because we can’t find what we need anywhere and it is annoying me.  It’s certainly taken quite a bit of time so far, given I had to learn PHP, CSL, HTML, SQL and a few other acronym laden bits and pieces – I’ve not kept track, but I would imagine it’s over 75 hours across the last two months, and it might well be considerably more.  But, I have been thinking about it for ages, and I knew that if I didn’t prioritise it enough to get it to the point where we could use it, I would lose momentum … so I am very pleased to have that rather boulder-sized rock out of the way.

The next rock has been of a very different nature.  Derek lent me a book on Churchill (Churchill: A Life by Martin Gilbert).  At a 1000 pages, it’s quite a tome, even though the general view is that it is a pretty brief summary vs. the official biography (8 main volumes, with 15 volumes of correspondence so far!).  There have been a couple of other books along the way, but given the time on other stuff, it has taken me a couple of months to read.  It is definitely written from a pro-Churchill point of view, and leaves me wanting to read a less positive critique.  But, it is absolutely fascinating, and the energy, passion, and insight he showed throughout his life feels like a great example of how much you can get done if you really want to.  In short, though this is a bit of a brick, I’d absolutely recommend it.

The last big rock has been our back garden.  We have discussed what to do with it for about 5 years, and gone through many alternates in that time.  We decided that this year, enough was enough and we would get it done.  Moreover, we would pay someone to do a lot of the donkey work, build some steps, a pond and so on.  Hum … well that wasn’t a great success.  They did do a lot of work, with more than three skips of stuff gone.  But, they didn’t finish, and the work wasn’t good enough quality (so, not finishing in the end was a bonus!).  We’ll leave the steps for now, though I can see us taking them out and putting better ones back in less than a year.

But, the upside was that I got to play with a digger last weekend 🙂 .  It was a great example of the power of machine over man – the workmen had decided to do everything by hand, and it was clearly very hard work … I finished it off (and there was a fair bit to do) on my own in one weekend, including digging the pond.  And I have to say that digging a 16 square metre pond that is over a metre deep by hand would not be in my list of top activities!  We should be putting the pond liner in this weekend, but the weather looks a bit inclement, and we aren’t really sure we want to be wrestling with muddy rubber sheets in the rain.  But, there remains a fair bit to do there.

But all in all, I feel the call of a more ‘ambling along’ weekend.

<a href=”http://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/product/0712667253?ie=UTF8&tag=gregpye-21&linkCode=as2&camp=1634&creative=19450&creativeASIN=0712667253″>Churchill: A Life</a><img src=”http://www.assoc-amazon.co.uk/e/ir?t=gregpye-21&l=as2&o=2&a=0712667253&#8243; width=”1″ height=”1″ border=”0″ alt=”” style=”border:none !important; margin:0px !important;” />

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