Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Brought to you by the letter D

Cheryl came across this game where you are assigned a letter and have to share 10 things that start with it and are important to you. Cool! So here goes: my letter is D.

1. di Giovanni. My surname - bane of filing systems everywhere. For reference: it has a space in, not a hyphen; it goes under 'd', not 'G'; and it goes before dia, not under dig. Certain people's inability to follow this has significantly changed my life! Notice also that it starts with a lower-case 'd': the "di" just means "of" and hence is not capitalised. This is important to me because I'm pedantic! I love my surname because it's unusual, just like me. It also reminds me that part of my roots lie in Italy, and specifically in the Abruzzo - a wild, mountainous area. I like to think that being a mountain person (at least partly) makes me stubborn :)

2. Dad. My dad. Interested in and knowledgeable about a huge range of subjects, has a huge library, works hard at whatever he does and is always in pursuit of excellence. My parents are divorced and I grew up with my mum, but particularly since I was about 15 I've really come to appreciate my dad and how lucky I am to have him.

3. Dup. The dup. Our nickname for Alex (our nearly-four-year-old boy). The reason for the name is very long and dull. He's so like me it's unbelievable, and that sums up the best and worst things about him - interested in lots of things, curious, talks a lot, obsessive, unbelievably stubborn, head full of facts and loves to share them. All of which are both good and bad depending on context! He's getting to the age now where we can have great fun doing things together, and I'm beginning to think that having children wasn't such a bad idea after all.

4. Derek. My brother. At home we'd alternate fighting and playing together nicely; but being together focused us on the differences between us. Since I left home we've come to realise just how similar we are - he's just like me only he has better social skills ;) It's also only since we left home that I've realised just what a phenomenally talented person he is. At school, he suffered from unfair comparison with me (partly by himself) - unfair, because I'm 3 years older. We did totally different things at school etc., but have ended up working for the same company and in broadly similar roles.

5. Difficult. This is harder than I thought! Still, I love a challenge. Easy is boring: difficult is fun. There's little better in life than achieving something you thought was impossible.

6. Divine. Jesus, that is: God become man. He's very important to me! I became a Christian when I was 16 and more than anything else that's shaped my life since. It's a learning process and a change process, something I do and believe not just something I belong to or a label I apply to myself.

7. Do. Doing stuff. Best way to learn, best way to experience life, best way to make a change. Make ripples. Interfere with play (soccer analogy for those who don't understand it). Try not to be, as Sokrates put it, "a dead weight on the face of the earth." I read that (Plato's "Apology of Sokrates") in Greek at school and it's stuck with me ever since.

8. Diplomacy. The board game - excellent game. I love playing board games, although to be honest I think Monopoly is my current favourite. Games of all sorts were a common part of family life when I was growing up, and are still a big part of family get-togethers on my mum's side (She was one of six, and although the others live across the Atlantic from us, we get on very well and are a very "close" family). The best thing about Monopoly is the negotiation aspect, something I enjoy in other contexts too - hence also "diplomacy". "Tact" on the other hand is not my strongest point, but I'm ok with that: there are times when a spade is a spade and it's better to call it for what it is.

9. Digression. A definite trait of mine, although not really a good one! But digression is just a sign of an active mind, too active to stick to one topic! Being full of ideas is definitely me - I'm a natural "plant" on the Belbin team roles and get on very well with similar types. "Discernment" on the other hand - filtering those myriad ideas until just the good ones are left - is something I prefer to trust to other people when I can. Benefits of teamwork!

10. Debugging. I'm a software developer, so this is a big part of my life (usually bugs made by other people, I should add). And I enjoy it - the thrill of the chase, the puzzle, the burst of satisfaction when you finally figure out how all the seemingly unrelated symptoms fit together and what's going on, or when you finally get the thing working. Geeky (and crude) footnote: most unix commands are verbs, so I find the choice of the name "debugger" amusing (and very appropriate).

Want to play? E-mail me or reply and I'll send you your own letter - or you can get one from Cheryl directly.

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

What makes you happy?

There's a piece on the BBC website about happiness, asking the question: what makes you happy? Well, here are some of mine.

  • Sitting on top of Glyder Fach (a Welsh mountain) facing into the wind.

  • Getting a broken model railway engine working again.

  • Making part of an engine out of plastic, showing it to my son (nearly 4), and he says, "that's brilliant!"

  • Finally being able to open the back door without it sticking, after I've followed my wife's instructions and filed off the bumpy bit at the bottom.

  • Fixing a particularly knotty bug at work.

  • Being there, and being able to offer encouragement, when my two boys were born.

  • Chelsea winning the league by beating Manchester United 3-0.

  • Eating pickled chillis.

  • Listening to "Here comes the sun" while driving in the dark to my mum's, with my boy asleep in the car seat next to me.

  • My wedding day - having all the people who were important to me in the same place at the same time.

  • Watching election night 1997 with my dad. (So much has changed since then!)

  • Sitting on a beach in the sun, watching the waves go in and out.

  • The scent of lilac blossom.

  • Playing my guitar.

  • Playing my guitar at church, looking at the congregation, and seeing that they're all totally lost in worship, and I've helped them to get there.

  • Being allowed to go to sleep in the afternoon.

  • The story of the Prodigal Son (Luke 15), especially: "But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and was filled with compassion for him; he ran to his son, threw his arms around him and kissed him". That's me, that is.

Go on, draw up your own list. Put it in a reply, or (better) post it on your own blog and link to it in a comment.