All posts by Arjen Lentz

Tea; Earl Grey; Hot

I drank Earl Grey tea long before Picard ordered it from his replicator on Star Trek. That’s not quite what this story is about, but it is about tea, and how it caused me some major trouble.

Only a few years ago I worked out that I don’t deal well with caffeine. It’s fine at the time, but it causes a serious dip in how I feel the next morning. It’s nasty and not resolved by just ingesting more caffeine. You get the idea. I didn’t drink regular coffee anyway but I cut out mocha (milk based coffee/chocolate blend) and the occasional coca cola (travel, parties, conferences). Tea didn’t appear to cause any hassles, although I am aware that technically a cup of tea can have more caffeine than coffee. Problem solved, until a few weeks ago.

With the cold weather (ok so it’s winter in Australia right now) I’ve been having lots of nice warm tea while I work. For a while it was home-mixed chai which used naturally caffeine-low Daintree tee. It ran out, and because creating a new mix means quite a bit of work (including finely chopping and drying ginger) I temporarily shifted to Earl Grey tea, figuring it’d be ok anyway. Well, I was wrong. I was in a bad way for a number of weeks, until I thought of this angle only a few days ago and of course took immediate action. Much better already!

As we grow (older 😉 we all work out “manuals” for ourselves, but every once in a while a new pattern comes up that doesn’t quite fit what you’ve learnt to recognise and deal with automatically. We live and learn…

MASH & Hawkeye

Yea, as in the classic TV show with Alan Alda. Of course there’s reruns (again) and I’ve let my MythTV box record some. My favourite characters have always been Hawkeye and Col.Potter. Smart, funny, cynical, way with words.

Col.Potter was in WWI and WWII before Korea where MASH is situated, he’s seen it all before… but Hawkeye, he’s really just like that as a coping mechanism, isn’t he. I used to think he was cool, but with a bit more maturity I see that his attitude has to be seen in the context of the situation and definitely not as a general example of how to be.

Obvious, perhaps, but at the time a lesson for me anyhow. I too have used cynicism (and sarcasm) as a copying mechanism, particularly when I’m tired, stressed, sick, or (even worse!) any combination thereof. I try to catch myself now and consciously work to not behave like an ass in those situations. Hawkeye gets away with it, but I live in the real world…

Book: The Optimistic Child

I’m currently working through a book (it’s more than just reading!) called The Optimistic Child by Martin Seligman. The subtitle is “Proven Program to Safeguard Children from Depression & Build Lifelong Resilience”.

It’s not hype stuff, this is serious and so far I think it’s a very good, insightful and practical book. When I’m finished I’ll write up a review of it, and perhaps add some pages to the site about it. Or just have a peek on Amazon and get it for yourself now!

From the same author there’s another title Learned Optimism, aimed at adults. Again, this is not quick self help blah, but serious stuff and definitely work a look.

Exercising with a Purpose

I usually just do my early morning walks with ipod/podcast, eating an apple (listen to an apple, eat an apple 😉

It’s state election time around here, and I’m helping a local candidate… that brings up the usual letterbox drops for local events and such (yes, I’m avoiding any letterbox with a “no junk mail” or similar sticker). Anyway, this makes for a nice variation on the exercising, as I’ve now walked up and down extra hilly side-streets that I normally wouldn’t visit.

If you want BlueHackers stickers…

We’re seeing a lot requests for the stickers, which is great – we’re happy to post some, but we do need to optimise things a bit otherwise the logistics (and cost) won’t be practical. So here’s the deal for the currently remaining roll of approx 500 stickers.

If you are active for a local user group, conference or company, and want a sticker for yourself as well as some to hand out at your next meeting or just among your colleagues, send us an email at l i f e (at) b l u e h a c k e r s (dot) o r g with a brief note on what group/company/conference it is, your address of course, and how many stickers you need.

I think numbers of up to a couple of dozen are practical at this stage. Remember, we’ll be printing more stickers anyway so this is just to get things going and spread the word further. We’ll gather the emails and do a mailout about once a week, and of course we’ll reply to let you know when they’ve been posted, and how many you get. Okidoki?

By the way, if you’re on Facebook you can also join the BlueHackers cause, again to help make the issue more visible.

Stickers at Linux.conf.au Tasmania

bluehackers-sticker-roll-lca2009Last week was linux.conf.au in Hobart, Tasmania. This seemed like an ideal opportunity to try the stickers idea. However, this being so soon after the summer holidays (yes xmas is in the summer when you live in the Southern hemisphere!) we weren’t particularly organised. Eek!

Luckily I got hold of a bright and helpful printers in Hobart who couldn’t do exactly what we needed but just arranged everything for us locally. We were pondering a few designs and sizes, but we decided on doing small stickers (of the “powered-by” shape and size) to mainly see put on laptops. Since they’re small, the chances of someone putting them on are increased. Yet the logo is so distinct that it will be spotted. Win! It’s just our logo with the url below, one colour print with gradient, and just paper (no vinyl nasties).

So what’s the objective? For as many people as possible to have these little stickers on their laptop; laptops travel around to conferences, user group meetings and work places. And thus other people get to see this quiet sign of understanding! So it’s not just a sticker to be used by people who have dealt with depression or related issues themselves, it’s for everybody wanting to show this form of support.

As we all know, the feeling of being alone with your problems is a very important aspect. The bluehackers stickers addresses this in a friendly non-intrusive way. Over 500 stickers were handed out during the last days of the conference, so they’re already travelling around the planet to be spotted elsewhere; various people also have strips of stickers with them to hand out to local user groups, colleagues, and others.

I did a lightning talk on the last day which got a fab response and triggered numerous interesting discussions afterwards. It’s clearly struck a chord, and so I guess another objective of BlueHackers is to make the topic more open or at least not taboo. Joe “Zonker” Brockmeier wrote up a  very nice blog entry about us also (“Even Hackers get the Blues“). I have another roll of 500 stickers here, which I’ll send out in chunks to various people around the planet. And more things to come.

So who’s funding all this? Well, some of the best gestures cost little or nothing. Getting the stickers made cost me a few hundred dollars, and while the stickers were handed out for free donations came in and recouped the cost plus the same again (and we still have half the stickers left as well). It’s a matter of running low-cost, and sheer numbers. We’re pondering whether to do a paypal account, but that brings up the question of whether to become a registered non-profit as we don’t want any individual to get stuck with financial or other liabilities. We’ll work it out. Naturally all donations given so far go directly towards BlueHackers activities anyway.

Through the various discussions we’ve gained additional insight in what activities might be useful, and how to go about them. More to come! And remember, the best gestures are free or cheap. Small things can make a huge difference to a person, or perhaps even many.

Happy New Year & Media Mentions

Happy New Year everybody! We hope you got some well-deserved time off over the xmas/holiday period, with (gasp) perhaps even some time away from your computer?

We now have a mutual link with Working Well, after a kind message from someone there. Very useful.
And we hadn’t spotted it before, but ITwire wrote a nice article on us: Geeks seek to hack depression (16 Dec 08)