Rosie – German Shorthaired Pointer

We made a decision. More and better pictures to come.

Rosie

A liver German Shorthaired Pointer (GSP). And we are all very excited.

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Sunday Column (288)

What a busy week. Where to start?
Monday saw me continuing my 5 am starts with a 5K run. My osteopath on Saturday seemed to think things are improving, yet I wasn’t convinced on Monday; but usually it gets better during the week. At the end of the week I managed another 10K which second as a detox after a heavy trade show week.

It has been 30 days now that we have been back from holidays and I am back into my 5 am routine. They say it takes 60 days to form a new habit, so half way through I am wondering, am I getting there? Of course I do. Getting up got a lot easier, to the extend that I naturally wake up around 430 to 5. Exercising got a lot better with my first 10K run, my weight increase on the bench press gets me back to uni levels. Things are moving in the right direction.

Of course it doesn’t stop you from being tired. Some days I notice that my brain is still half asleep or still full of toxins (as in not relaxed, not hangover ;-) ). Usually this is fixed with a nap on the train on the way into work, if I work from home I usually carry on or have a cheeky 10-15 minutes nap over lunch. That is very refreshing. Also introducing more regular meditation helps settling the mind and clearing thoughts.

As you can see things are improving. So on to the next 30 days.

progress

In the meantime we are back to conference season. Opening conference was on Monday in London, Ad Trading Summit – five years running, not missed one year, it focuses on real time bidding and programmatic since it started. A big industry get together with lots of industry gossip. Lots of fun.

I cut the networking short as I flew into Cologne at 7 am the next morning. There I attended an internal strategy meeting before a high end VIP dinner, ending the night with whiskey and cigars. The next day we kicked off the world’s biggest online and digital marketing exposition, dmexco. It evolved from OMD which I was competing with a few years ago, and turned into dmexco a few years later with over 300 exhibitors and over 30,000 visitors. An amazing achievement for a trade show, whichever niche.

When I came back on Friday I was rather exhausted. As usual trade shows come with lots of alcohol, long parties and little sleep paired with long days and good chats, great networking and fun of course. Thanks to our fabulous marketing team, we had a good turn out at all our events and started making an even bigger dent into the universe of connecting TV to digital :-)

What else happened? R went back to school. C lost another tooth, whilst biting his brother’s (superman) cape. We looked at a GSP (German Shorthair Pointer), more about it in the forthcoming next weeks. However, it looks like it would be the best addition to our family. Exiting times ahead, yet timing is still to be decided.

I guess that sums up another great week. When you are away all week, you enjoy the weekend even more!

Volker

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Sunday Column (287)

I had a great weekend, remember I am writing this about last weekend. Monday started slowly into the new month. Not long until Christmas. Yet we made a decision, we are now actively looking for a dog, a Weimaraner. Lovely pets and hopefully helps the kids to get over their fear of dogs, animals in general and teach them how to take care of a living being. Amazing decision, life changing and it is a bit daunting. Yet, I always wanted a dog!

Weimaraner-puppy

Here we go…not yet confirmed, and no idea how much it will be, but we are eager to find out more and maybe moving forward with it quite quickly. As the week moves along I was stunned about the price and but hope the investment and additional burden will be well worth it at the end. We hopefully going to look at puppies in the next 4-6 weeks. Having said all that, we are now widening our search to potentially GSP – German Shorthair Pointers. They seem to be even better with kids….decisions decisions. We surely keep you posted.

Then, as every year, I took the coin collection to the bank. At my little Buddhist altar I donate gold coins (pound coins) on a regular basis and the kitchen hosts a “stein” in which I put everything less than 50 pence. So this year we got a whopping £200 which we decided to split into four for each one of us to decide which charity to donate too. It feels good to give, and being able to give too. And just by donating spare change we can make a difference: amazing. Hopefully by getting the family involved, Colin and Rohan get a feel for how good of a life we have: running water, warm water, heating and a roof over our head. Things we take for granted.

Colin went back to school this week. He is now in year one. Apple class of course ;-) and rightly so, he is very proud of it. Having a first day at school is not a biggie as it is in Germany, yet a big stepping stone for my wee man. One can tell how he grows up from the models he builds in Lego and which thinking goes into it to create what he imagines. Kids’ imagination is great: submarines, spaceships and monster trucks.

Rohan has yet another year before he starts reception. That will be an even bigger step as both kids will be at school. I will probably be writing about that next year thinking about this post. He develops a lot different to his older brother and the two couldn’t be much more different from each other. Yet they are both amazing. But I would say that, wouldn’t I?

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I am looking back over the years, as I like to do when autumn is on and leaves turn golden the view out of the train window is foggy…and I am thinking. Those days, like at the time of writing, I stare into the fog. I look into my past and the decisions I have made in life. Without regret or burden I think about what would have been if …. And my mind drifts off for a bit, and comes back. I feel complacent to a certain extend. Full of energy, plans and desire. Goals and drive. Things are moving in the right direction. So when I say complacent, it is more happy and content, rather than smug.

When finishing this post, I just got a new suit. I needed one for a fraternity event in November, and I don’t have one that fits me anymore. I gain weight but hope it is muscle; I did my first 10 km run this week in 53 minutes, my osteopath seemed to have cracked my “shin splints” and my weight bench is getting heavier weights. For me this is a sign that things move in the right direction. I got my bikes repaired, might have to get more done, and soon it will be winter again.

And whilst I philosophically wind down, work is ramping up. Shows ahead, travel and lots of work for one person. I am enjoying it a lot! That is how I like it really.

The next few weeks will be very busy.

Have a good week.
Volker

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Life is for giving – and helping each other

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Sunday Column (286)

Spending 10 days without the family was great. Or was it? There is something to it, like being able to leave things lying about like scissors, knives and lighters. There is something about getting up at 5 am and making lots of noise. Or to spend all Saturday in front of the computer trying to set up websites and new blogs about productivity. On the other hand, I did miss those cuddles, the love and being part of a team of people, however small. The constant reminder that life isn’t only about yourself, you and what you want to do. But that life is for sharing, for teaching and learning.

I ordered a huge pizza on Sunday, being very lazy. Did I enjoy just eating by myself? Of course I didn’t. Wouldn’t it have been more fun to share it with the kids and watch a movie in the living room sitting on the picnic blanket. Or, as we normally do, make pizza ourselves. The way I felt on Monday it would for sure been a better idea. Not coming home to an untidy house where toys are all over the place, discovering new ones and fixing old ones. Not having someone in the car with me when going shopping. All those small things where you really miss the company and the ever so curious comments about life.

Yes, I missed my family dearly.

My commute this week was horrible. Or it was close to being horrible, but luckily I could work from home a lot. Monday’s bank holiday helped too. London Bridge was closed so we were working off a weekend timetable. One train an hour into London Victoria. So I got the 6:20 train to Victoria, anticipating the worst for the 7:30 one, the only peak hour train. But I managed and hopefully from next week things return to normal. Actually I enjoyed empty trains in the morning and early arrival at work for 7:45….utter madness ;-)

I was hinting at it last week already, but autumn isn’t far. Theoretically another three weeks, yet the Indian Summer is here. Golden light, first golden leaves falling from trees, fresh air and of course the first days of “Schmuddelwetter”, rainy dark days. I love autumn, nothing like it. Whilst spring is nice with days getting warmer, I don’t think you can beat autumn for the feeling and light in the air. My favourite season.

Autumn Hedgehog 1

Setting up my blog over at tidwows has been a great learning curve. I haven’t changed much at this blog and I am now discovering all new features, plugins and so on. Both blogs fulfil different purposes. Whilst this one is my personal blog where I predominantly share my personal life, tidwows is about productivity and personal development. My original plan for this blog, going back to 2007, was to make it about personal development, but I find it is better to separate it under a different brand. Again, I tried that a few years ago too but now found my niche since writing my book about productivity last year. I often get asked if that is what I do but to be honest, for the foreseeable future, I stick to what I do best and work in digital marketing as my main job. So no big plans. That might change in 5 years time, it might not. We shall see. For the time being I enjoy working on productivity and personal development, being able to help others.

The latter part is important. This isn’t all about me, and hence the separation of the two sites. One is about me, and me alone :-) One is about others, and others only.

What bothered me most this week? Zara and Yodel. I had to mention this: Zara this week withdrew a shirt looking like a concentration camp outfit, stripy with a yellow star. You wonder and think this might be coincidence yet you then get pointed out that they withdrew a bag a few years back that showed swastikas all over. What is going on in those designer minds, and the guys signing it off for sales. Are they right in their head? It doesn’t bug me because I am German but just the sheer stupidness of coming up with it. Imagine a brown uniform next….

And Yodel? They said they delivered my item, left it in a safe place. I was in and couldn’t find it. So the customer service suggested they get an answer in 24 hours. An hour later the driver arrives and I said it was described online as being delivered already. His words didn’t make any sense. So essentially, my take is that he had to deliver it before 1 pm and couldn’t, so just pretended he did. Problem is that I was in and on his case already. Maybe those drivers get a lot of punishment for being late, yet Yodel just doesn’t have a good reputation, and whenever I used them, the f* things up.

Never mind, it all worked out in the end. Got my treadmill repaired and waiting for the hoover to be repaired.

For the week in general: it was great to have the family back. We then met friends over the weekend and enjoyed some quality time with them. Life is good. You don’t often realise how well you are and how nice it is to be able to share so many things with your friends. But it is, even if you only see them once a year. Life is busy too. Not only for us.

Have a great week. September. This time for sure.

Volker

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Sunday Column (285)

Steve Jobs loved Bob Dylan. I started listening to him after reading Steve’s biography and recently heard that the first album he ever listened to was Blood on the tracks. So I downloaded it in his memory and realised I really enjoy this album.

Going back in time. Looking at the counter culture in SF in the 70ies. Hippies. Campervans and independence. Life was good. Life is great. We just need to make it happen. Yet I am not living in the past, quite the opposite. I am living in the now with a strong future outlook. We can only change things in the now, laying the foundation of the future.

Another week passed with 5 am starts. It is getting better to get up. One morning I go running, 5K, and the next I do some circuits and work, or as on Tuesday end up watching postman Pat with the boys. I don’t do this to be super productive only but to gain back time. I come home from work around half 7 on a normal day. Before I know it I spend the evening not doing much, having my tea and go to bed at 10; staying up longer results in me watching rubbish on TV, my brain just ain’t working that late anymore.

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So I gain 90 minutes waking minutes. Enough time to exercise and shower or to write on a blog post or review a few articles. I even fixed a squeaking door at 5 am, whatever comes to mind, whiteboard sessions etc. There is plenty to do. This also means I can start working on the train or follow up on anything I didn’t do in the morning. If I keep up this routine, I won’t compromise on sleep (6-7 hours are plenty), I get enough exercise (3×30 min/week + bike at weekend), and I should be able to get more things done. However, the transition period is tough, it takes 60 days to form a new habit. Wish me luck.

For the next few months I am hoping to be more proactive over at tidWOWs which is my productivity site. You won’t see much, but might have noticed that I published a book on productivity which also was available for free this week. Plan is to move it into the public domain and make it available for study, research and public editing, very similar to a Wikipedia. I will of course keep you posted on progress.

My wife and kids were visiting grannie in Scotland over the last week and I had the house to myself. It is quiet without them, yet it is nice to be able and just do what you want to do. Cleaning some bits in the fish tank late at night, turning the lights off in the hallway or leaving bits and pieces lying around as reminders. All of those things that ain’t possible with small people being around. And of course a PJ day. A day filled of movies, pizza, snoozes, doing nothing and plenty of it. I got bored eventually but still enjoyed the freedom to do it.

That’s really it. Not the most exciting week, but hey it is still holiday season. We are moving into autumn. It is getting colder, the bike stand is out and the fire has been on a few times. My most favourite season.

Have a great week,
Volker

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Amazing MTB ride #5amwow

Nothing like watching the sunrise as you cycle up the Ditchling Beacon, then across the South Downs, and chase cows down a chalky path. Back home for 7.

Moving down here 2 years ago was a lifestyle choice. And what a life we are living!

Feeling blessed!

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Sunday Column (284)

A first week after a week off is never easy. This week saw one of the oddest days I have had for a long time. You are so tired you are imagining things, things not working not due to your fault and things that could go wrong do. And you are stuck without emails for a day due to a server blackout. I had better days and weeks, yet I started getting up at 5 am again – making it all worthwhile to get back on track to exercise and taking action towards some of my goals.

Family: for the first time since I moved to London, my brother and his family came to visit. This was great. Not only did it give us time to catch up, but the cousins managed to play all day, entertaining themselves. It might sound odd, but we almost get to the point of not knowing what to do with ourselves if the kids play all day upstairs. You still have to be there for them of course but they get really independent. Life is getting better. Day by day.

Also, it seems as if I slowly convince my wife to add a dog to the Ballueder household. Stay tuned ;-)

weimaraner

Some of you might have seen the pictures of our camping holiday. It was a great time we spent together. Going back to work this week made me think a lot about last week’s break. Nice to be able to just switch off for a week. Nothing to worry about.

Then you come back home and the builders haven’t finished what they promised. The rain keeps penetrating out walls and you get a bit worried. Surely it will sort itself out soon. Maybe some interior work needs to wait till September. We had enough building work for a while, time to focus on something else and not to worry about the house. Given the latest weather this is easier said than done.

I also stayed away from Facebook for a week. Over the past few months I added more people on Facebook, increasing my circle to non family and close friends. As a work colleague said, we crossed the a Rubicon, we can now share things on Facebook. It is fun to connect and one cannot worry about privacy issues. People will see my kids and will see what I am up to. However, I already noticed that I post a lot less. After the week’s break I realised that besides ‘googling’ something and emails there is not much to do on a phone. The news and Tetris, catch up TV, podcasts. But nothing urgent, and playing with the kids takes priority. Lego does anyway ;-)

It is interesting to see that sometimes you just need to remove things for a while to break a habit. In return, to form a habit, it takes 30 to 60 days. That is something I am doing at the moment. As mentioned I started getting up at 5 am again, instead of alternating between a 5 and 6 am start pending whether I exercise in the morning or not. I want to use my mornings. For exercising, meditation, writing, brainstorming. In return I am happy to go to bed early. Routines and habits form our backbone of life. And as mentioned above, with the kids being easier to look after, there is time to be spend on a variety of things again.

It has been a good week. Despite the slow summer I still manage to fill my diary and have many meetings. Agency wide presentations and individual C-level meetings. I had bad days but also made a lot of positive progress. Life is good. I ordered my Sonos subwoofer and look forward to a relaxing bank holiday weekend.

One sometimes just need to get on with things. Loving life and make it happen.

I have the feeling this is exactly what I do.

Have an amazing week.
Volker

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Sunday Column (283)

Nothing like a holiday. I have been working towards that for a few months. Stress with building work at the house. In a new job for just over six months. New challenges at work and with the family. A heat wave and sticky weather. A road bike and changes in training schedule….all that contributed to us, or to be more precise me, needing a break. Yet you also set yourself a deadline. A date of breaking up from work and routine.

I was actually looking forward to our trip in a campervan. Romantic, yet awkwardly small, a lot of adventure for someone like me. It all started when we picked up the van on Saturday morning. A brand new Volkswagen campervan, 2014 reg, with two gas hobs, a fridge, pop up roof, 6 gear stick shift (not really used to that anymore), and last but not least an amazing amount of storage.

We are not experienced campers, didn’t plan much ahead, so realised as we were travelling along that we needed things like bin bags, wet wipes, frying oil, etc. if it was our own I would add a pre-tent, mobile toilet and some kind of towel holder to it. Whilst spacious, it is all about organising the space, packing cleverly and given some of the camp sites, our own shower would have been nice.

How do you sleep in a van? Not bad actually. Once the kids are in bed you share a bottle of wine and go to bed. You don’t sleep great, the kids wake you up, you hear nature from early morning. Latter is the beauty of camping I suppose. Waking up with nature, feeling tired all day.

What do we do during the day? Actually the same you do with 3 or 5 year olds at the weekend. Swimming, play grounds, dairy farms and pizza out of a box.

With every night being different, I feel like a generation a few years ago…the hippies that invented the VW camper van culture. The free spirit of doing what you want to do, going where you want to go, stopping, starting, living out of the van. No plan, no destiny, living the moment. A smart and true hippy lifestyle. Nothing my or my wife’s parents lived. I never went camping in my life, my wife never saw a cow being milked until this holiday.

There is something romantic about camping. The sun sets, the sun rise, the freedom and independence, the no mobile phone reception, the “I ignore Facebook and the internet” and the non availability. And then it started to rain, the cloths are damp, the trail to the toilet becomes a nightmare, the muddy feet get mud into the van.

When you then sit back, Bob Dylan is playing Shelter from the storm, you feel like life is nothing else than pure happiness. One sits back and wonders what one should teach one’s children? Enjoy life and don’t bother about the future? Be a free spirit? Take drugs and enjoy yourself? Don’t be free, don’t enjoy yourself, have a career and start a family as this is what you have to do? How much of an influence should we take on their direction, or should we ask how much we have taken already?

Each generation is different. And that is what matters, each generation defines their own life and values. Their own way of living. And whilst I have the feeling that my wife and I redefining something new, I would expect that our parents and grandparents and great grandparents thought exactly the same!

We had a great bonding holiday. We laughed a lot, slept a lot, played a lot, were there for each other and bonded as team Ballueder. The boys played football for Germany, made friends, ate icecream, the best fish and chips in their life (and I in mine), and we didn’t watch TV, I didn’t check Facebook or work emails. We had a great time, you never know, we might do it again.

I look forward to the next adventure with the team.

Have a great week.
Volker

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Sunday Column (282)

Nothing like Monday morning. After a nice and sunny weekend, a late Sunday reading my papers and catching up with everyday life, I ended up sitting with C on Monday morning discussing thunderstorms, lightning whilst thunder filled the fresh, rainy air. C sat, wrapped up in a blanket, on our new window seat in the kitchen, just watching the outside. He likes thunderstorms and keeps asking me about whether I liked them as a boy and if he could watch TV, as mummy told him TVs would break thanks to lightning.

Anyway, my national rail app alerted me that trains are delayed due to lightning and I keep wondering if there is any excuse not good enough for train companies to delay or cancel trains? However, coming to the station, meeting a few friends, there were no trains for a while. I eventually got on one and my journey and day/week could begin.

There is some positives here. The garden needed the water, it was long overdue. Then the dust that has been collected everywhere around the house from the repointing got washed away. The car which I hosed down on Sundays got “hosed” down again.

And it isn’t a busy period at work, the summer slump. So whether I sit on the train working through some emails or in the office doesn’t matter too much at the moment. Holiday seasons is upon us. Having said that, the rest of the week got really busy.

Whilst sitting on trains, I noticed an interesting behaviour. Often, and that includes myself, one puts his bag next to oneself when travelling. If someone wants to sit next to you, and I normally sit on the aisle as I am a bit taller and like to stretch my legs, they ask and I happily get up and move my bag. Of course I do! You get the odd people not wanting to ask or if really busy I move my bag, signalling my willingness to make space.

Yet others don’t. They are holding on to their bags, almost paranoid not to take up space, eager to jump up if someone just looks at the empty seat besides them. I think people can ask. And then again others just plank their bag on the seat next to them, ignoring people standing and use the spare seat as a luggage rack. Those are the ones even I get tempted to sit next to, just to ask them to move their luggage.

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Train life, commuter life. You then get the people playing or typing on their phones and tablets with the sound on, talking loud on the phone or drink and shout on the train. The nervous ones afraid of missing their plane from Gatwick. The studious ones sitting reading their papers. The working ones doing emails, spreadsheets or PowerPoint presentations. A train is a micro ecosystem of what’s happening in our society. But more often than not I cannot even enjoy it, as I am busy myself ;-)

Hassocks station got a new train station. A 2 million investment leaving the tunnel connecting the two platforms flooded. These are the things I don’t understand. Or the people trying to dodge their fares. Without wanting to have a general moan, if one spends money to fix things you would expect them to be fixed. Our house wasn’t quite finished despite them saying it would be within one week. It now has been two already.

The joys of life. We just have to look forward, think positive and believe it all works out in the end. And it does. It just ends up costing more money, time and unnecessary hassle. But we are all getting there.

The strong belief, as I was discussing a lot last year, that wherever you are in life, you must believe that this is the right place to be. If you doubt it, change it, but go with your gut. Trust the universe and your gut feeling that life will take you to your (final) destination. Not saying this is easy. It requires a lot of patience and trust in the intangible universe. Are you ready for that?

Have a great week everyone, whilst I didn’t want to complain about the weather, a cooler breeze might be nice for a while.

Stay cool!
Volker

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