Open Thinkering


Tag: walking

Weeknote 51/2023

You can’t stay in your corner of the Forest waiting for others to come to you. You have to go to them sometimes.

― A.A. Milne, Winnie-the-Pooh

I’m knackered. I’m composing this weeknote from the comfort of my bed, this Christmas Adam.

zobb: christmas eve what about christmas adam kowka: happy christmas adam to all men’s rights activists forfuturereferenceonly: Please stop pestering us with things like this. This has nothing to do with men fighting for their rights. Eve is short for ‘evening’. Please don’t turn activism into a joke. Thanks. reindeerplaydate: Someone isn’t having a good christmas adam theguilteaparty: Christmas Adam: December 23rd. Comes before Christmas Eve and is generally unsatisfying. shojo: Happy Christmas Adam everyone

Well, I thought it was funny 😅

I finished work last week, so this week has ostensibly been a holiday. Yet, I’ve been pretty busy. On Monday, I went for a windy walk with Aaron around (but not on top of The Cheviot) and then we finished off in the pub.

Aaron standing in front of a shipping container styled as a Tunnock's Caramel Wafer packet

Then, on Wednesday, I met Bryan off the train in Sheffield, drove to Derbyshire, and walked Dovedale.

I took the photo below before we scrambled up through a magnificent arch to Reynard’s Cave. To give you a sense of the scale, Bryan is a good nine inches taller than me! Again, we ended up in the pub afterwards.

Bryan standing underneath a huge limestone arch at Dovedale

On Friday, it was my birthday. We changed plans and ended up at the BALTIC where we saw some amazing things, including Templo del agua, rio Tyne by Colombian artist Leonel Vásquez, which is well-described on this page. I’ve never seen or experienced anything like it.

Templo del agua, rio Tyne

Not having a lunch reservation, and it being the last working day for most office-based people, we were lucky to stumble a relatively-new Greek restaurant called Salparo. The food and service were excellent. We’ll be back!

Although I did a bit of work on my MSc on Tuesday, I was a little bit concerned this morning (Saturday) that I’m a bit behind. So I went to the library at the leisure centre until it closed at 12:30 and then to the gym. Relatedly, this week I’ve published:

The other post I published was (Most of) my 2023 in sport which detailed how I’m almost at 800km of running this year, and have around 300 active days in total. It’s been a reasonably good year on that front, although I’m planning to reach 1,000km in 2024. More on plans for next year in due course.

Tomorrow is Christmas Eve, where we’ll be doing… nothing much. I’ve got a bit more present-wrapping to do. That’s followed by Christmas Day where we’re going to my parents’ house for Christmas Dinner. Boxing Day will probably involve a walk on the beach, weather permitting. Then we’re into those weird days between Christmas and New Year.

I’ve just realised that I don’t usually do weeknotes over Christmas, and usually finish with number 50. Ah well, looks like I’ll complete the full set this year!

Whisky and Wisdom

Illustration in a woodcut style depicting a serene, mountainous landscape with rolling hills and varying elevations. A visible trail winds through the hills, and a small group of stylized people are seen walking along it, engaging in conversation. A whisky bottle and glass rest on a rock in the foreground, subtly included as a reference point. The palette features soft, natural tones like greens, browns, and greys, creating a tranquil atmosphere ideal for contemplation. The sky has gentle cloud patterns, adding to the peaceful setting

This week, Derek Sivers published a post entitled Walk and Talk, while Rich Bartlett posted Running a local lodge for your internet friends. Both of them encompass a similar theme: bringing people together to live alongside one another temporarily, creating space for serendipitous conversation and learning.

Derek walked 100km over seven days in Thailand with Liz Danzico, Kevin Kelly, Jason Kottke, Craig Mod and a few others. They naturally broke into small groups to talk while walking the trail. In the evening, the conversation over each dinner was on a topic chosen by one of the walkers, for example Where do you call home? And why?

It sounds like an amazing experience, and one that I personally would slightly prefer to Rich’s experiment in communal living. That’s mainly because I need something to do with myself during all of my waking hours and find unstructured time difficult. I always have done. So walking, which is a long-form activity and topic of conversation, is perfect for me.

What I appreciate about Rich’s post is his giving a peek behind the scenes to show how the economics work. If I was going to organise something like this, it would be based around a walk; perhaps part of Hadrian’s Wall. In fact, these posts are perfectly timed, as I’m going walking with Aaron tomorrow and last time we met we discussed how awesome it would be to invite people for some ‘Whisky and Wisdom’ walks. The whisky would be provided by us, and the wisdom by the group.

I don’t think there’s any ‘perfect’ gathering, and the two approaches — Walk and Talk, and Local Lodge — (quite rightly) reflect the preferences of the organiser. The structure of events is what includes or excludes people, so I guess you need to ensure you’re intentionally including the right people and not unintentionally excluding them. A simple example of this is location. For example, Rich points out that if they had rented a place north of the Pyrenees, more guests would take the train instead of flying. I guess some people might in fact refuse to come if they have to take a flight.

Why do this kind of thing? It’s all about increasing your serendipity surface, and allowing unexpected things to happen. All of the walkers linked above who have written about their experience in Thailand have mentioned the dog that accompanied them for 70km and who they eventually took to the vet. They really formed a bond with the animal, yet this couldn’t have been something that they planned for ahead of time.

This post is mainly me thinking out loud. I’d usually put this kind of thing over at Thought Shrapnel, but I’ve shut up shop there until the new year! More (perhaps) after talking with Aaron tomorrow, and having a think over Christmas…

Image: DALL-E 3

Coda: after writing this, and just before hitting publish, I came across a post by Ethereum founder Vitalik Buterin about Zuzalu, an experiment that aiming to “create a pop-up mini-city that houses two hundred people, and lasts for two whole months”. It sounds like it was more successful than the crypto cruise ship, at least 😂

Weeknote 41/2023

Aaron looking into the distance in Northumberland National Park

I’m sitting typing this on my laptop while sitting in my car at an EV charging point. I’m knackered.

The above photo was taken a few hours ago in Northumberland National Park during a walk I did with Aaron Hirtenstein, who lives on the other side of it to me. We had a great conversation over the few hours together, including idly wondering whether taking people up to see these amazing sights we almost take for granted would be something people would be interested in doing. It’s the perfect place for the kind of conversations you can’t really have anywhere else.

I haven’t felt great this week, either mentally or physically. I wrote about the former in a post entitled All aboard the U-shaped curve, and I’ve done daily Covid tests for the latter, all of which have been negative. I may just have a lingering cold, but my Garmin smartwatch keeps telling me I’m stressed, so I suspect my body is fighting off something.

Laura’s back next week, which I’m pleased about as three weeks without the person with whom you work most closely is a long time. I’ve enjoyed working with Anne and John, of course, but I’m looking forward to Laura bringing some energy back from her time off.

I’ve been setting up new client work (more on that soon) and working on existing client stuff. I’ve had a few very pleasant virtual coffees with people. You can book a slot here.

The ‘body battery’ on my smartwatch currently stands at 11% which is well below the 66% my car is on. I’m going to publish this, have a little snooze, unplug the car, and head home for bed.