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Archive for the ‘out and about’ Category

Reflecting on the year as it draws to a close: that’s a thing, isn’t it? Much has happened during the past year, much of which I have no intention of discussing right now. However, I’ve remembered that I set myself some goals for the year, and so now would be a good time for reviewing them.

The goals were: to meet Puffles the Dragon Fairy; to use the word “propinquity” more often; and to do some public speaking.
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Saturday afternoon of last weekend, I went to Anglia Ruskin on East Road for Cambridge Conversation Café, the inaugural event of Be The Change Cambridge. This is my write-up of the event. Or rather, it’s more a write-up of my experience of the event. If you want something more objective you might want to try Michelle Brook’s account.
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Another weekend, another London walk.

Last weekend Mr. H. and I walked from New Cross Gate to Thamesmead, and then walked a bit more. There had been the possibility of being joined by Dave the American, although in the event his presence took the form of a series of text messages.

I’m probably going to have quite a lot less to say here than in my previous trip report, since there are fewer associations for me south of the river than north.

A trip to Thamesmead had been on the cards for a while. At one point I had thought a good journey would be from Peckham to Thamesmead which, in TV terms, is from Only Fools and Horses to Misfits. That seemed like a bit of a stretch, though, which is why we started off in New Cross Gate instead.
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One Saturday last November, Mr H. and I went to London to go for a walk. G. came down too, to visit Kew Gardens with a friend, so it was convenient for our walk to start off in Kew.

Kew Station

Before I really get started, I possibly ought to mention that, whilst I’m generally interested in the concept of genre, I’m still rather finding my feet when it comes to the genre conventions of blogging. This is my attempt at a touristy “trip report” style of post, with lots of photos. G. thinks that about ten photos would be a sensible limit, but it was quite a long walk, so I’m going to exceed that. I’ll try to have a fair bit of prose mixed in there too.

Anyway, where was I? Oh, yes. Kew.
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I’ve recently had a number of headhunter types waving opportunities under my nose and asking if I’d consider relocating. Whilst it’s nice to feel wanted, it’s even nicer to remind myself of some of the reasons why I’m very happy to stay where I am. So: what is there to see in Cambridge?

Coffee and cake
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Some years ago, at an “all hands” meeting at a company where I worked, the head of the company enthused at length about Jack Welch’s famous ruthlessness. At the time I said to various people that if I wanted to work for General Electric then I knew where to find them. I wasn’t joking: GE have an office in easy walking distance of my house. However, I never set foot in there until last night, when I attended a talk by Richard Berry—part of their series of “agile talks”.

The talk was about management and leadership, and the differences in management style (command-and-control vs. facilitation) and the importance of different personality types in how teams work. Management theory, then. (And yes, there were flip-charts, and a 2×2 matrix, and book recommendations at the end.)

I’ve seen some disappointment expressed about the content of the talk. Surely this is all rather old hat: no-one now believes that command-and-control is a sensible way to organize a software development team. I’d have two responses to that, the first of which is that overt command-and-control may be rare but that the common alternative—insisting that people “take ownership” without giving them any meaningful control isn’t really the same thing as facilitation.

My other response would be that even if the broad outline of Richard’s talk didn’t hold any surprises, it’s possible to do this sort of thing badly or well, and Richard did it well. The last presentation I saw that covered this rough area was given by some ex-marketing guy who seemed to speak largely in clichés taken from trashy pop psychology books (“don’t sweat the small stuff”, “change is the only constant”, etc.). Regardless of the big picture being peddled, there were telling little details in Richard’s talk that, for me, showed that he knew what he was talking about. This wasn’t an occasion for buzzword bingo.
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Vatersay

A couple of things we saw on Vatersay: the desiccated remains of a gannet, on a beach; a memorial for a crashed plane, together with some of the wreckage.

Dead gannet

Wrecked Catalina

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