Google doesn’t understand me anymore


One of the benefits I’ve found of writing more frequently is that I get to keep my thoughts.  “What I write I get to keep” I thought.

By that I do of course mean that I get to record them. But I also meant that there’s a real value to keeping the words themselves – not just the writing process.  I’ve found this useful for a long time now in a work setting and personally and I wondered if other people felt the same as me.

I googled the phrase “what I write I get to keep”, and I believe the association of the two words “keep” and “write” led the semantic engine within google to deliver articles about keeping a journal – and the hidden benefits.  Such as this one.  All interesting stuff.

It’s not really what I meant though with my sentiment.  I’m really meaning my thoughts are valuable and precious and I wanted to read articles about other people who had things to share on the subject.

So I tried some other searches:

  • “thoughts are valuable”
  • “thoughts are assets”
  • “keeping your thoughts”

But none of these really seem to find what I’m wanting to read about.  Although I did along the way manage to find a lot of information about different – sometimes quite unrelated topics just by the phraseology of my google searches.  I’ve started to unearth, for example, a whole world of theory about why writing regularly is beneficial.

I listened to an article about Google and Microsoft translation services the other day on Radio 4.  It explained that these services now have statistical reasoning built into their logic so that phrases like “heading towards the blue” would be translated to something not quite what the author meant – because blue was usually not a destination and heuristics would use that “knowledge” to avoid literal translations.

In the old days, you had to kind of treat Google search like a tool – well kind of like a machine.  But these days I find it isn’t always giving me the things I want – and this article is an example of that.  It’s frustrating to a degree.

This little excerpt “Google has all grown up“, highlights that Google isn’t giving always the best response, but the most popular – or a kind of reversion to the mean.  Perhaps it’s time to try something new.  Bing I hear you say.    Well that’s a story for another day!

Thank you – Run the Rock

It was Babe Ruth who first said “Never let the fear of striking out stop you from playing the game” and it’s a quote that we use in our house quite a lot.

Today I ran the rock.  It’s official the results are in – I came last, but someone has to.  I learnt that Stokenchurch has the nickname Fraggle Rock with the locals.

Here are some pictures of me during the 10k race.

I must thank Brian the marshal on the course who was the tail runner – I turned up almost ten minutes late – and he said don’t worry I will stick with you all round the course so you don’t get lost.  And he did.  And I finished.  Brian this is for you.


Bring yourself to work day

You may not know this, but tomorrow is “bring yourself to work day”, at least it is for me.

When I woke up this morning I decided not to wear a jacket and not to take my umbrella to work.  Yesterday was so warm, and our office was so hot, that me in my shirt and vest and jacket was just not working.  So today, I thought looking through the window – it’s bright you don’t need a jacket, you don’t need an umbrella – why are you carrying all of this stuff around each day that you clearly don’t need?

Then at lunchtime, from my 12th floor office window with a great view of St. Paul’s, I witnessed a thunderstorm.  It poured down with rain.   I had no jacket and no umbrella and what’s more, I had planned to go out that evening for a meal.

At the meal, we had some good company, food and conversation – at dishoom’s in Shoreditch.  We talked about 360 degree feedback and how sometimes this can work and sometimes not.  People seem more comfortable to give feedback anonymously – and we talked about Ricky Gervais in the film the invention of lying.   We naturally put up barriers at work that hide who we are when we either pretend or use barriers as a defence mechanism.

And what about the rest of the day?  Well despite not having a jacket or umbrella – I was fine.  The storm passed, the sun came out and I made it home.

So tomorrow when I wake up, I’m not going to worry about what to take and what not to take to work.  What barriers to put up or who to pretend to be.  I’m just going to do my best to do my work and work to do my best because tomorrow, I’ve decided, is bring yourself to work day.

2,579 comments can’t all be wrong

Since starting my blog I’ve been really heartened by the praise I’ve received from all over the world. Comments like…

  • Just want to say your article is amazing. The clarity in your post is simply great..
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  • Oh my goodness! Impressive article dude!

and this fantastic comment from the BBC themselves.

  • I’m extremely impressed with your writing skills as well as with the layout on your weblog. Is this a paid theme or did you modify it yourself? Anyway keep up the excellent quality writing, it’s rare to see a great blog like this one these days.

You will appreciate that I don’t have the time – with so many great comments like these to thank you all individually.  But I can assure you – that each one is read and enjoyed.  I wanted to take the time today to publish an extract, just so that you know you – my fans – are not forgotten.

Unfortunately, there is a button I have to click to make these comments visible on the site and as you will no doubt have read in my previous post to this one – titled sweating the small stuff my life is full of tiny individual tasks that rarely get completed.  I am a detailed kind of person – and feeling the detail is important, as I do, I can’t unfortunately allow these comments to appear uncensored on my site – no matter how wonderful they are.  Sorry!

So to all those who take the time and effort to praise my work – even if the odd one or two might be automated through some kind of bot – thank you. Your praise is really making my life worthwhile.

Here’s something just for you.

Sweating the Small Stuff

“The fight is won or lost far away from witnesses – behind the lines, in the gym and out there on the road, long before I dance under those lights.”

I have become list obsessed.  In the morning I look at my list.  Through the day I measure myself by the number of tasks I’ve ticked off – and in the evening I wonder if I could have done more.  What kind of a life is that?

Last week, I found myself questioning the methods I have learnt and adopted over the last couple of years and wondered whether they were making me happy or helping me to get anywhere – and I came across this interesting site don’t sweat.  The author and his wife have taught America, through 25 million copies of a range of books, how to not worry so much about little details – so it seems.

The problem with my lists – is that they contain detail.  Lots of detail about small stuff.  I’ve found over time that there is no point having an item on the list that is a big picture item “Do the garden.”  As it needs to be specific to get things done, so I have detailed items “Cut the grass”, “Pick up litter” etc.  But the problem with detailed lists is that there’s a lot of small things – which in turn looks like a big problem – a long list.

And this weekend – I found myself thinking about the small details – as I’ve been reading Atul Gawande’s book – the Checklist Manifesto.  And realising that indeed, someone does need to paying attention to the small details of things – and if it’s not you – then who is it.

As the world mourns the death of Muhammad Ali I wondered yesterday how he got to have the reputation of being the greatest.  Was it a self-fulfilling prophesy?  Did he just have an enormous belief in himself.  I found myself reading quotes of Ali’s and the page that I liked most from my google search was the top 30 quotes of Ali on the Telegraph WebSite.

And the quote that spoke to me most was the one at the start and end of this page.  Maybe I am reading into the quote something that isn’t there and wasn’t ever intended to be there.  But to me Ali’s quote says – take care of the detail.  Do your homework, put the effort in, know your goal and how to achieve it.  The media portrays the public view of the man, but away from the spotlight he was putting in the effort day-in day-out to be the greatest.  He believed he was, and then he did the work to show that he was.  For now at least then, I will keep my lists, I will know the things I need to do and I will keep ticking them off.

So which of his many quotes speaks most to you?

“The fight is won or lost far away from witnesses – behind the lines, in the gym and out there on the road, long before I dance under those lights.”


Value Statements

I don’t know why value statements fascinate me so much.  But recently I compared the ones I have seen at Wexham Park Hospital with the ones I have seen at the place where I work.  They are remarkably similar.  In fact working together as one team was common to both.

For some time I rated Wexham Park as a poor hospital, the kind of hospital that I would rather not go to.  Recently the hospital has a different feel to it when I go there – I feel a lot more positive.

The hospital proudly shows its new CQC rating of ‘good’ alongside a quotation by one of the inspectors I presume saying that it’s experienced a major turnaround.  I wish in retrospect I had taken a picture of that as well as the values statement shown below.

But perhaps I just feel so positive about it because of the level of detail and care that individuals have shown looking after one of our family who has recently had a diagnosis of ITP.  We have had regular blood tests to establish platelet levels and monitor their trend over time.  The team at Wexham has checked raised indicators in the blood to follow relatively small “lines of enquiry” to understand the cause of ITP (something that I wasn’t expecting, by the nature of the condition the trigger or cause is usually left undiagnosed).  They have consulted a range of clinicians in both paediatricts and haemotology and generally had a joined up approach to care.

One doctor last week phoned both of us parents to confirm the time of an appointment and to keep us in the loop.

So thank you Wexham.  I don’t know what you’re doing differently and whether the value statement is helping.  But whatever it is – please keep it up.

Our Values Guide Everything We Do