June/July

 William Adam

As my Instagram followers and posts can attest to, I haven't had much time to go out photographing in the last month. In what was probably the best month of weather that Scotland has ever seen, with included spectacular sunsets, I have been busy moving to a new apartment.

As much as I enjoy building furniture from IKEA after hauling it up three flights of stairs and then having to spend over a week building it, my body decided that it was not much fun. Never before has a bowl of Swedish meatballs cost so much.

Now that I have been in the apartment for over a week I am starting to get myself into a routine where I can balance working with some web design and some photography. After the world cup has finished I'll start appreciating this summer weather before it disappears again.

June

I find it hard to believe that it is June already, it seems like only a few days ago that I was at Edinburgh Castle taking photographs of the New Year Fireworks. It occurred to me that it is almost three years since I moved back to Scotland and that my trips to the Netherlands have become less frequent, the gaps are increasing and it appears, or certainly feels like, I am settling into being in Scotland for the time being. 

Mid year is also a good time to take stock of what I have achieved so far and what I have planned for the rest of the year and whether I should re-plan. When I was a consultant for a large hydrocarbon based company each year would begin with a yearly plan for developement and of course there would be a mid-year review to see if you were meeting your targets. I was very good at using woolly terms that didn’t tie me into anything crazy “Will continue to develop my skills in x/y/z”. What does that even mean? Well basically nothing, you can’t really measure these types of targets. Of course the company didn’t really care that much as I was a consultant and they prefer to concentrate on the drones they were creating for the long term and not people they could dispose of with a months notice.

Wow, that sounded a little bitter. 

Of course my personal targets are usually much less woolly, so far this year, in no particular order:

  • Relocate back to The Netherlands
  • Travel outside europe (which soon may be achievable by getting out of bed, meh... Brexit)
  • Continue to develop Adam Design Studio (sounds woolly I know, basically get paid to design/implement/update websites)
  • Learn how to implement a PostGIS database and serve WFS/WMS maps from Geoserver
  • Learn how to load and serve Ordnance Survey data to users
  • Develop “Grateful” application for iOS
  • Attend conferences to network and gather new ideas

As alluded to at the start of this post I don’t see any King’s Day celebrations in my near future, I guess I’ll have to make do with more public holidays and no bridging days just now.  

I haven’t done as much travelling as I would have liked so far but I have visited the Philippines during March/April, which was fantastic and also showed me that being in 30 degrees heat isn’t the worst thing in the world. In actual fact I adapted to the heat better than I thought I would, which was just as well. It also taught me that I don’t tan well, I just kinda burn. 

I have built a few sites so far this year and have at least one in the pipeline and will start advertising for new clients this month. Each client I get teaches me something new about my skill level and skills that I need to learn to implement their ideas into their site. My real target for this is to always have a site to be working on, which up until now hasn’t been a problem, I think this will be more easily achieved once I start advertising.

In the last project I was involved in I should have developed an in depth understanding and skills to develop databases and serve them through Geoserver and how to load OS data. This unfortunately didn’t happen and basically led me to a new project wherein I read a lot about how to do it myself. My latest project is interesting as there is no one to ask, for the most part, so it leads to a certain amount of self-reliance and research. It pushes me to be better and develops my patience level to a point that I have never had before as described in a recent post “You do the math”.

I have had an idea for an iPhone application (Grateful) for a while now but haven’t got round to do more than the wireline sketches for it. I think that this will take a little longer to develop than I would like as it relies on me learning a lot more about programming but my feeling is that I need to block out a period of time every few days and sit down and work on it. 

Ah, conferences, how I love and hate them. I actually have two this month, GISUpdate at Edinburgh University and GeoDATA Scotland at the Glasgow Science Centre. Am looking forward to both conferences as I know that I will meet new interesting people as well as people that I have worked with before.  

So that’s it for 2018 so far, no further ahead, no further behind.

You do the math

I was reminded about the closing scenes of the film "The Martian" today. 

"You just begin. You do the math. You solve one problem and you solve the next one, and then the next. And If you solve enough problems, you get to come home."

Today I was faced with something that I had never done before and it involved solving many problems, even though I knew what I wanted to achieve it, it seemed like an unsurmountable task to figure it all out. I have noticed that I often become extremely frustrated when I can't figure a task out, so much so that I can't think in a balanced way. 

You solve one problem, and you solve the next one and then the next.

I have been told that I am stubborn and I got to find out how stubborn today, as I would not leave the task until I was totally satisfied that the solution worked, and that I understood why. I also found a tremendous amount of joy in solving the last problem that allowed me to go home. Because hell was freezing over before I left without finishing the task.

I won't bore you with the details of what I was doing but it involved, Ordnance Survey data, GeoServer and a whole lot of data management. I had to "science the shit out of it".

I have taken this kind of approach to situations for a while now, it has taken me to new places and got me out of situations that I haven't wanted to be in. I think the hardest part is sometimes identifying what the problem is.

March madness

So March has appeared and I feel like I posted photographs of New Year's Eve yesterday. Apparently time flies when you are having fun, I must be having the best year ever.

Meanwhile in Scotland, where a record amount of snow has fallen this month, even I am thinking when will this persistent cold miserableness be over? (#beastfromtheeast) I actually ventured out with my camera and took some shots in Stirling. They were, disappointing, and I am ok with that. There are good lessons when things don't go well.

Slight tangent, when I say things like that I am reminded of when I was young(er) and had a No Fear t-shirt that had "Second place is first loser" emblazoned on the back of it. Sadly, and embarrassingly, I actually believed it at that point in my life.

Anyway, back to being disappointed; I am finding that I am pushing myself to get out and take photographs when I am not in the right frame of mind.  So I go out in a negative mental attitude and end up taking mediocre photographs that I am not happy with. I have to get back to taking photographs for fun and with friends that inspire me and to stop stressing that I haven't posted anything on Instagram or my blog for a week or two.

I read an inspiring blog post from Annie Au, a yoga teacher that shared three basic rules of being happy. She writes her post from a view of being trapped (by work, partner, family, house etc.) and how this trap is your own creation. Her rules, I think, are applicable to any situation in which you are unhappy. I paraphrase her rules below but I strongly recommend reading her blog post about it too.

1. Replace negative thoughts with positive ones.
Before feeling anger or frustration with someone try thinking of three good things about the person. By thinking of their good qualities you replace your anger/frustration with that person and bring your self back to a place where you can communicate consciously.

2. Keep a gratitude journal.
Many of us focus on what we don't have or are striving to get and forget to be grateful for the things we have, Annie recommends writing 5 things down everyday that we feel grateful for. I have started writing 1 - 5 on a post-it note each morning and filling it in during the day.

3. Be Mindful.
It is very easy to have negative thoughts and feelings that can arise in our mind each day. Annie suggests that there is no need to lambaste ourselves over it (see above mediocre photographs). We can develop an awareness of our negative thoughts and train our mind to choose positive thoughts and over time it will become a habit.

As simple as these rules are, they are easily written but a little harder to practice. With time and patience I think they can help everyone and I am really grateful for finding this blog post. Incase you are wondering being grateful for finding this blog has did appeared on my post-it note.

I promised some of the photographs from yesterdays post so here are a couple from Stirling Bridge. Click for the larger version. 


As always, thanks for reading!

St Andrews

As you may have read in my biography in the about page, I completed my Bachelor of Science by reading Geography at The University of St Andrews, Scotland's first University. I have only made a handful of visits since I completed this course. A few occasions to use their laser seive to analyse sediment from Greenland while researching my PhD, but since then I have only made two trips. Once in late December in 2005 with some friends and then again last Sunday.

The thought of returning to a place I became so familiar with after such a long absence has always made me feel a little uneasy. When I was there in 2005 I was horrified that Costa Coffee has opened up, the whole idea of 'chain' shops seemed to go against the idea of St Andrews and its 'lost in time feeling'.

Of course, finding Starbucks, Pizza Express and a whole host of other multinational shops in the city this time certainly shocked me, although if I had thought about it for more than a few minutes before I arrived I would have figured out that this was an obvious progression. 

It's hard going back, it's hard not looking for the familiar signs, the people and the feeling that doesn't seem to be there anymore. I think it was the excitement of being there as a student, not knowing what was going to happen each day. I think I could see it in the eyes of the students that I did see though, I did feel a pinch of jealousy.

Of course, some things never change, the red gowns were adorned by the students coming out from St Salvators Chapel heading towards the Pier Walk, possibly heading to the Hebdomadar's office for sherry, or perhaps a new tradition of heading to Starbucks for a Frappuccino. Trust me, the sherry was always better.

I didn't take many photographs as I was mainly walking around in my own thoughts of years gone by. Click the thumbnail for the large version.