I have a friend. No, really. Look, I’m not going to continue until you stop laughing. That’s better. We will call my friend Jonathan (because that’s his name). Jonathan is about my age, around 6’ 6” tall, has a deep booming voice, a big beaming smile, and is an all-round good guy. Admittedly, he does have a penchant for blowing his shofar in his friends’ ears when they least expect it, but we all have our little foibles (some of mine are quite large, although I try not to boast). Jonathan has been going through some trying times since shortly after I met him a couple of years ago. His elderly mother, who he looks after, suffers from poor health and dementia. She’s taken to hiding things and then claiming that people are sneaking into the house and stealing them. An operation on Jonathan’s neck earlier this year went pear-shaped and will require a lot of rehabilitation in the coming months. And, just the other day, a homicidal deer flung itself in front of his car, writing off the machine and almost killing the man. Not surprisingly, all of this has brought Jonathan down low. Thus, for several months now, I’ve commenced each day by sending him a short text explaining why that day is the “Best Day Ever.”  

A slap in the face with a wet kipper

Of course, lady luck is not averse to slapping anyone in the face with a wet kipper, as it were. We all have to take our turn, and mine came a few days ago as I pen these words. Sad to relate, it was one of those occasions along the lines of, “Put your hands up if you work here… what’s your hand doing in the air Max?” Of course, it wasn’t quite like that – they were much nicer about it – but, as I learned at my mother’s knee, you don’t let tiresome facts get in the way of a good story. “Oh dear,” I thought to myself (or words to that effect), “color me surprised.” It’s quite a shock to discover that one’s services are no longer required. This is the first time it’s ever happened to me, and – perhaps foolishly – I really wasn’t expecting it. Since the axe fell, I’ve been telling myself why each day is the “Best Day Ever.” The following morning, for example, I got to sleep late, which was a rare treat, and then I spent the day running errands with my wife (Gina the Gorgeous). Best Day Ever! At the time of this writing, I’m preparing to fly out to Silicon Valley to speak at the Embedded Systems Conference (ESC) where I’ll be presenting two papers: Crossfade & Scroll-Back Effects, Switch Bounce, Metastability & More… and AI Apocalypse: Is it Time to be Scared Yet? My usual modus operando for this sort of thing would be to spend the day before I leave frantically writing and pre-loading columns into the content management system (CMS). Then, while out there, I’d be getting up at 5:00 a.m. each day to check emails and respond to comments and questions emanating from the corporate website before racing over to the conference. This time, however, I’m as free as a bird. I can spend tomorrow pottering around the house, charging my tablet computers and noise-cancelling headphones and suchlike, and packing my suitcase. While at the conference, I have nothing to do except present my papers, meet up with old friends, and network like a champion. It’s going to be the Best Week Ever!  

Another fine cheese…

Gilbert Keith Chesterton was an English writer, poet, philosopher, dramatist, journalist, orator, lay theologian, and biographer. In his spare time, he was a literary and art critic. As Gilbert once noted, “Poets have been mysteriously silent on the subject of cheese.” The reason I mention this is that, upon my return from ESC, one of the things I plan on doing for a while is returning to freelance technical writing and consulting. In addition to being outrageously handsome, a trendsetter, and a leader of fashion, I’m also one of the finest technical writers of my generation (according to my mother), and I continue to mature like a fine cheese (according to the blurb on the back cover of my most recent book). I’m looking for something that pays a humongous amount of money for not much work (I’ve tried doing things the other way around, and I’m reasonably confident my new plan is better). I’ll also be posting my cogitations, ruminations, and rambling musings on my new Cool Beans blog (the one you are currently reading). I’m taking this experience as being part of life’s rich tapestry and, to be honest, I’m quite excited to see what comes next. In the meantime, I’d love to hear from you about any similar experiences you may have had that you’d care to share.