Chris Croft's Personal Blog

August 26, 2013

Possible life plans

Filed under: Careers, Happiness — Tags: , , , , — chriscroft @ 3:33 pm

Hi everyone

I’ve been thinking about whether I would advise my kids to have a career like I had, or to go self employed like I am now, or something else. And looking at what my various friends have done with their lives, there seem to be certain patterns or shapes to people’s lives, as follows: (can you see yourself there?)

Blue chip career ~ upwards towards management. Staying in one company or passing through many

Use your skill for life. e.g. Engineer. Expert in your niche. Gives you some security.

Self employed – lifestyle business where you don’t employ anyone else, you just earn decent money doing your thing.

Build own company for sale – and then retire, or do another one!

Drop out from system, focus on a hobby eg music. Maybe do some basic work, that you don’t care about, just to keep solvent.

Combining work and hobby eg professional musician

Continuous study ~ search for a (mythical?) meal ticket, or for status from qualifications, or to avoid a job and the pressure of a career, or just because you love learning

Focus on family and house – work is something boring that is not important

Crazy changes throughout your life as you search restlessly for the perfect thing – which may or may not be out there

Burn out in some high pressure job, but save enough money to retire early

Second life: ~ semi retire early and do the thing you’ve always wanted to do


So – what did I miss?


August 22, 2013

Charities – project or process?

Filed under: News and Politics — chriscroft @ 9:37 pm

Why are children still starving in Africa, after all the money we’ve sent?? Ideally charities would make a difference, rather than be self-perpetuating organisations.

So to find out whether your Charity is a project or a process, ask them these:

1 – When is the project that I am contributing to due to end?
2 – When it ends, how will you measure its level of success?
3 – How will you communicate this success (or not) to me?

No decent answers to these? – No money from me!

August 7, 2013

Keeping notes on your phone

Filed under: Computer tips, Gadgets — Tags: , , — chriscroft @ 4:23 pm

Where do you put notes of things like films you want to see, which curry is the best, the size and pressure of your tyres, who was who at a meeting, etc?

Ideally you would have notes visible on your phone, PC, iPad, whatever you are using, and any changes would sync via the cloud. And you could access your stuff on your phone even when you don’t have a signal.  Like an old PalmPilot, does anyone remember them?  (They had all of the above except the cloud – and they weren’t a phone, but they did have games and apps)

I have been happily using Catch for a few years, but OH NO, they are discontinuing it.  Aaargh!

I have about 1500 records on Catch, which can (in theory!) be exported from Catch and then imported into something else.  But what?

Evernote: with the free version you can’t view your notes off line, and my phone doesn’t always have a signal.  The paid for version is quite expensive, about £30/year, but it is very nice.  You can also have tables, whatever fonts you like, and add pictures and sound files to any of your notes.  You can use your phone when off line to view notes (if you pay), and also your laptop to view notes when offline (free) because Evernote has it’s own bit of software that stores and shows the notes.  I think the laptop software works offline even on the free version.

Google Keep – has no import function and you can’t add new notes offline.  You can view them though.  Feels unfinished.

Simplenote – you can use it offline but you can’t attach pictures or sound (voice memos).  The interface is pretty clunky too, you can search but not sort, and you can’t have subfolders.

It’s looking like I’ll have to fork out for Evernote, which is great but expensive and probably too complicated for what I need.

Does anyone know of anything else?

Oh yes, thanks guys for reminding me about Apple notes (comes on every phone and ipad, and can be viewed on a PC.  On the plus side it stores the notes in the cloud so you can see them on any device, but only if you have a connection (PC) – that’s quite a big minus.  They still work on your phone/iPad without internet, which is good.  Only one font, and no pictures/sound (surprising how useful it is to attach photo from your phone of things), and no import/export if you want to migrate in or out of it some day, and of course, apple only.  But the iCloud sync does work really well, and it’s beautiful to look at, as you’d expect.  So good old apple is pretty good and comes second only to Evernote.

I’ll miss Catch!


Things just aren’t black and white

Filed under: Happiness, Lists, News and Politics — chriscroft @ 4:15 pm

When you’re young you know everything, and life seems so simple. Then a few shades of grey creep in, and before you know it, even the obvious stuff has a flipside.
Some examples that have happened to me recently:

1 – What are your kids doing?
I used to think “How could those irresponsible parents have been letting their wayward children run riot and steal/vandalise/whatever. That parents are clearly to blame!”. Until my kids reached teenageness, when of course you have to trust them, and they go to see their friends or go out shopping with friends, and you actually have no idea where they really are. Not quite as clear cut as I thought!

2 – Should the church allow gay marriage?
I’m totally 100% in favour of a person’s right to be gay, whether they were made like that from birth, or whether it’s a choice. The church is bigoted, discriminatory, and old fashioned, at least that what I thought until last week, when it dawned on me that the church has a right to be those things, hasn’t it? If an old fashioned club doesn’t want someone to join, what gives a person the right to force that club to let them join? In fact why would that person WANT to join that club? Let’s ignore that club, move on, and leave them behind. Forcing an unpleasant club to change seems just as unpleasant. Hmm, tricky!

3 – I want my kids to get good grades at school
This seems obvious, but then, will good grades lead to a better paid job, and will the extra money make them happier? Will good grades lead to a more enjoyable job? They won’t do any HARM, but then, they will make you more likely to be tempted into the rat race. The links are really hard to prove, and I’m not convinced that anyone really knows the answers.

4 – Should Muslim women wear hijabs/burkas?
Surely having to cover themselves (whether it’s a scarf or a full body thing) is repression of women, right? The fact that they have no choice in the matter? But then I read something where a Muslim lady was saying that she likes to be covered – she can see out to the world from the safety of inside her burka. So now I’m thinking that it’s almost unfair that they get this option and we don’t – though I suppose I could wear one if I wanted. I still think that they should have the choice, but I can see that covering up is not all bad. Oh dear, is there no preconceived prejudice that I can fall back on??

Still, it’s fun to learn and change, and to think about things like this. By the way, I’m not asking for answers to any of the above, they are just examples, and they my own personal views and not views that I want to push onto you – I’m just saying that a lot of these issues aren’t black or white when you look into them.

August 5, 2013

Life in six words

Filed under: Books and Culture, Happiness, Lists — Tags: , , , — chriscroft @ 10:36 am

or “The meaning of life in 6 words”

I greatly enjoyed the item on Radio 4’s The Today Programme where they got people to send in their lives summed up in 6 words.  It was interesting to see that most people were a bit depressed about their lives – or maybe these just made the best quotes.  Here are the ones I thought were really good…

(and by the way, mine is not nearly as witty, it would just be “Burned The Candle At Both Ends”).

Foetus, son, brother, husband, father, vegetable.
Dick Hadfield

Conceived, implored, employed, adored, retired, ignored.
Joy MacKenzie

Beginning, gurgly. Middle, sombre. End, gurgly.
Roger Noble

Slow lane. Fast lane. Hard shoulder.
Alex Hansen Today.

Bantam, Anglia, Midget, Alfa, Volvo Estate.
Neil Feldman.

Womb, Play, Learn, Work, Decline, Tomb.
Jacquie Smith 

Start – programme – error – control – alt. – delete.

Outside lavatory, worked hard, now flush. Ashley Errington

Battered ball-bearing traversing pinball machine.
Nancy Connolly

Unravelled career reknitted as baby blankets.
Clare Hobba

Dot, two, six, three, one, wicket.
Tony Powell

Head in books, feet in flowers.
Heather Thomson

Trust me, I did my best.
Ray Kemp

An embroidered sampler, with some unpicking.
Sian Martin

Wrong era, Wrong Class, Wrong Gender.
Patsy Wheatcroft

Love Mountains both ups and downs.
Dennis Lee

Wasted my whole life getting comfortable.
Richard Merrington

Worry about tomorrow, rarely enjoy today!
Richard Rabone

Pass the bottle before clarity returns
Gail Edmans

I’m just happy to be here!
Graham Marsh

Not quite finished, tell you later.
Dave Nicholson

Hasn’t Been A Jane Austen Romance.
Alexandra Lackey

Bored, so bored, so very bored.
John Doyle

Run over twice, thankfully still alive.
Trudi Evans

Married childhood sweetheart. Two kids. Content.
Steve McMullen

Born London, lived elsewhere, died inside.

Some no-balls but several boundaries.
Di Attwood

Apple leads to eviction of two.
Una McMorran

Unfortunately I didn’t buy the t-shirt.
Caroline Ryan

My life? Six words? God knows.
Helen Underwood

Knight on white charger never showed.
Jane Kirk

No A Levels but a millionaire.
C North

Any chance I could start again?
Sunny Tailor

Lived, loved, laughed liberally a nd left.
Vince Horsman

Found it, Lost it, Found it.
Lucinda Lavelle

Worked all life still paying taxes.
John Ball

Born, bred. Work, wed. Dad, dead.
Colin Penfold 

Aspirations compromised by procrastination, then children.
Harry Beighton

Started slowly, then dash to line.
Richard Draper.

Happy days, sad days, empty days.
Richard Smallbone

Too many sausages, not enough sex.
Andrew Wilson

Laughed out loud, cried in silence.
Lisa from Weston

Age crept up and mugged me
Bill Cowan

If only I had turned left.
Robin Pickering 

Still searching around for the reins.
Jessica Kane

Blankets, books, bottles, books, blankets.
Margaret Melling

Ditched the map, found better route.
Gillian Smellie



If these weren’t enough (!) there is a book called “Not Quite What I Was Planning” which has loads more.  Would probably make a good toilet book!

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