This is a few days late, but still, my list of things I want to achieve this year. Experience has been teaching me that by keeping the list short and as specific as I can it’ll be easier for me to actually achieve the things on it. Long, vague lists are a lot harder to turn into something meaningful because it ends up being too much work to do in a year anyway and the feeling of being swamped halts what progress there would otherwise have been.

Anyway, here is the list for the next year in no particular order.

  1. Get through my masters degree with honours
  2. Participate in at least 3 judo competition. Ideally I’d like to win but I’ll settle for never fighting below my ability
  3. Write one short story every month this year. I need to get more serious with my writing. Giving myself deadlines should help me stay on track.

There are a few other small things but otherwise, yup, that’s it. Those aren’t mentioned because I’ll dump them in a heartbeat to keep these three on course. Wish me luck. What are yours by the way?

Another step on the path

Looks like I am about to be on the move again. I’ve been back in Ghana for a little over a year now spending time with the family, working at an interesting and intellectually fulfilling job and getting back to scratching my martial arts itch with Judo (In the process of which I also began to eat properly again and shed about 15-20 lbs of accumulated fat from being sedentary earlier)

In that time I’ve

  • Seen my grandmother dance at her 90th birthday
  • Seen my father turn 60
  • Connected with parts of the family I didn’t know as well as I wanted to
  • Started to find the physical and mental discipline I used to have
  • Started writing again (more on that soon)
  • Become a much better coder

Now its time to move on. Starting in a little over a month I return to graduate academia, this time in the heart of London(back to Physics too btw). I’m really looking forward to this. I’m a lot more prepared for this than I have ever been and it’ll be nice to put my brain back on the high speed treadmill and see what happens. With luck I’ll still get to hit people on the side. Maybe get someone to teach me the basics of parkour too.

Wish me luck people

Another personality test

Courtesy of Afrorise

Your Birthdate: December 23

You’re not good at any one thing, and that’s the problem.

You’re good at so much – you never know what to do.

Change is in your blood, and you don’t stick to much for long.

You are destined for a life of travel and fun.Your strength: Your likeability

Your weakness: You never feel satisfied

Your power color: Bright yellow

Your power symbol: Asterisk

Your power month: May

What Does Your Birth Date Mean?

I Talk Tomorrow

As part of this week’s events at the job, I shall be participating in a panel on Open Source for Sustainable African Development. My talk shall be focused primarily on education.

Now, since giving this talk in front of what promises to be a fairly large audience wasn’t likely to stress me out enough, My co-presenters are Nhlanhla Mbaso, who works for the Meraka institute in South Africa(speaking on e-governance), and Dapo Ladimeji, a Nigerian living in the UK who is heavily involved in FOSSFA and has been for a while now(speaking on the African ICT industry)

Hence, I am the youngest and least experienced member of the panel. Great.

Now, I was going to give a fairly generic talk with a flash of the kind of ultra long term thinking I prefer to do in private at the end, but then I actually spoke to my co-panelists. It was one of those good rambling talks that ends up covering a ton of ground in a bunch of different areas and makes you aware of how similar some African problems are. Some of the ideas from there might end up on this blog in due time, if I work up the nerve to ever start putting up my thoughts on the long term future of the continent and what I see as its problems.

Anyway, now I have to skip some of the more generic parts of my talk for some of the bigger questions and some of the answers I think I have to them. Talking about this stuff in a formal setting is definitely unusual and a bit unnerving, but we’ll see how it goes. I have come to the conclusion that while I may not be the most qualified person to speak on this, I do have relevant background experience, plus the crowd is free to treat me like an idiot and ignore everything I say. That helps

Now back to preparing beamer slides. Wish me luck people.

Counting my online blessings

anansi boys cover

For those of you who also check out Pam’s blog, you already know that she outdid herself, and won me as her eternally grateful servant, by getting me a SIGNED COPY OF NEIL GAIMAN’S ANANSI BOYS!

Yes, its in all caps, something which I generally have a firm rule against doing anywhere. That’s how excited I am and how much this means to me. I literally don’t have the words to properly say thank you. So I’ll settle for putting it up someplace everyone is bound to see it. I will pass the favour on, and the first chance I get to return it I’ll do that too.

While dancing about the house (literally) in joy, it occured to me that I have been very fortunate in my online interactions with people. The least of my fortunes have been the things people have sent me. Including, but not limited to, the complete run of Gary Phillips’ ‘Shot Callers’ for my growing black comic creators collection and the hugely informative Guide to getting it on! (probably the most you’ll ever hear me say about my sex life, at least for now)

At a certain point in my life I was very much in danger of becoming a hermit and a misanthrope, and yet I have been fortunate enough to constantly run into people who remind me how much kindness and genuine humanity there is out there, both online and in real life. For that I thank you all.

Another book I’ve been reading

The inner game of tennis

No, its not the tale of the warrior women. Expect that in about two weeks or so. Instead, today we shall be talking about a much older book that was given to me by my aunt (for which I’m extremely grateful)

Timothy Gallowey’s ‘The Inner Game of Tennis‘. I’m pretty sure some of you have read this before since it has been around for a while. For those of you who haven’t, If you have any interest at all in any discipline that involves human movement, or in just gaining a better understanding of how your mind works, I’d advise at least checking this out of your local library.

The philosophy behind it seems to be derived from Buddhist thought. Its purpose is basically to get us to let the ego step aside so that the part of us that actually learns and acts take control. One of the interesting things about this method seems to be how much it affects the learning curve behind physical activities. As I read the book it was easy to look back at my past and realize how certain breakthrough moments in martial arts classes had been because of my ability, for a brief while, to live in the moment the actual movement was taking place without any form of fear or doubt.

What he tries to do in the book is provide suggestions on how to take that moment of absolute concentration and expand it so that it becomes a part of how we live rather than an occasional accident. While his examples all had to do with tennis, the basic principles and concepts he used are widely applicable. I’m working some of them into my daily practice to see what they can do for me.

Bottom line, read it. Worst case it’ll be an interesting read with no new information. Best case, it’ll make you change how you think about the process of learning/living.

Strengths I forget I have

I used to be scared of the dark.

As a child there was nothing scarier to me than the absence of light. I always had a very active imagination, especially back then. Couple that with the standard stories every Ghanaian kid hears about witches, ghosts, evil spirits etc. and its not too hard to imagine what type of nighttime horrors I was coming up with to keep myself awake.

Somewhere along the line my father found out about this. I can’t remember if I told him or if he just figured out that I was scared of going to sleep. Either way, I remember us talking about it, and him telling me that the fear was just in my head and telling me that I could either stand up to it or be afraid of the dark for the rest of my life.

Then I remember night after night when I’d go into the bathroom (the only place in the house where I could get any privacy) turn off the lights and just sitting there getting to know my demons.

It worked. Today I actually like the dark. I function as well at night as I do in the daytime. And I discovered I have really good night vision.

Somedays I need to remind myself that I’m still that same kid. A little older and with a new set of demons, but just as capable of facing them now as I was then