Been a while. Well I suppose it actually hasn't been all that long, but it has definitely been longer than I intended.

One of the things I've gotten really bad at in the last few years is regularly posting to this little corner of the web. I've decided that in 2020 I'm going to set myself a 'positive' New Year's resolution that I will no doubt break faster than a person who says they are going to diet in 2020 will break.

I'm going to post regular writing related articles.

There are a few reasons for this.

First of all is how fast the podcast I produce with the ladyfriend has gained traction. Now, I'm not going to even imply any of that is down to me. It is entirely down to herself. She has this amazing ability to promote things. I've seen it in her work over the years, but never for a hobby project like our little podcast (which can be gotten at this handy location, sure you'd be mad not to pop on over and have a listen).

Seriously, it regularly sits in the top ten on parenting podcast charts for Apple and Spotify, all down to how the ladyfriend knows how to promote these things and keep interest going. It is pretty impressive.

Leading me to think about this writing lark. Sure I write books and they seem to be well received, but they aren't exactly paying for the house or anything. That's mainly down to myself. I don't put enough time and effort into promoting the hell out of them. In 2020 that needs to change, otherwise why do I put so much stress and pressure on myself to make sure the books are the best they can be before sending them out into the big bad world?

I'm going to take some of the strategy that the ladyfriend uses for Parenting Pobal and apply it to my books. Otherwise I genuinely think I should just call it a day on the writing thing. I had some fun, wrote some stories, but if your hobby starts to feel like work then it stops being a hobby.

Secondly, I sort of got lost in the last novel. The sci-fi story I am writing. It was something different for me to attempt but it did take a lot more work to get over the line. Even now, as I type this, it isn't done yet. I have to do another draft through it all and then get a cover together for it. Then, despite me not wanting to go down this road, I am being told I need to send it off to agents and see if anyone bites before going down the indie route like I usually do.

Point the third, I'm back into Filthy Henry book mode. I've an idea in the head that has five chapters out already and some research done on the topic. So I want to use 2020 to do as some of my favourite authors do: post updates on their sites as they work through the book.

This morning I genuinely gave some thought to maybe dropping this site completely and moving over to a Wordpress or Medium. I still might. I'll keep The Bauble going because, at this stage, it is like a family pet that I can't get rid of. But then again I might just look at spreading the locations these articles get published to.

I'm rambling now, I know I am - good time to stop ;)


Mental Movember


I haven't posted anything in a while because I've not really had anything to say.

Actually, that isn't true. I'm notorious for having "something" to say: whether it should be said or not. But if I didn't self censor sure this part of the Internet would be full of the ramblings of madness that I should keep to myself.

But today I figured what the hell.

As most folk will be aware, it currently is Movember. That wonderful charity event that happens in November and makes folk walk around like 1960's pornstars with lip caterpillars that belong consigned to the bins of history.

Originally it was an event targeting testicular cancer, the whole purpose being that folk sporting a 'tache were meant to encourage people to talk about this topic. One thing the male folk are notoriously bad at is talking about health things with each other. It probably stems from the whole "man-up" culture that was prevalent for so long in the world, but luckily we've evolved past that and people are needing gentle nudges to talk about things these days. I learned recently, however, that the scope of the event has changed in the last few years. No longer is it about just testicular cancer, rather the purpose of Movember is to encourage men to talk about all manner of health concerns: mental and physical.

It's the first health topic that I figured I would post an entry about today, because it is just as important in this world as the physical health conversations. Maybe even more so.

Recently I was at a conference for work and there was a fantastic talk on this topic called 'The Unmonitored Failure Domain: Mental Health' by Jaime Woo who works at Incident Labs. The whole premise of the talk was that the world is now moving at such a fast pace that people can find it hard to look after their own mental health. More importantly the talk highlighted people need to pay attention to external signals to identify a problem, much like how a computer system needs to be monitored.

The example explained how system monitoring itself may never see that an issue is occurring, as it contiguously makes adjustments and corrections to remain at 100%. But external signals viewing the system can come back and point out that the constant adjustments are not keeping things in a healthy state but rather compounding the problem.

Just like a person who is fighting with their black dog. They can keep telling themselves that the mood swings, the dark thoughts, the lack of motivation or interest in things that bring them joy are all normal. Part of everyday life. But that is how the black dog works, whispering in your ear that joy is bad and misery is good. It is the system making those adjustments to prevent you truly questioning if you're doing okay or not.

Then somebody comes along and asks 'Is everything okay?' - the external signal that has seen something isn't as it should be.

With Movember now encompassing all manners of health it is important for people to pay attention to their external signals, just on the off-chance their black dog is tricking them. Never forget that people, generally, have good intentions when they ask these questions. You should never assume they are trying to trick you or are pointing out a flaw. Rather if a person has asked this question it is coming from a good place, because they want to be part of the solution and not add to your problems.

Plus, as I've said before on this topic, talking is really easy to do. You open your mouth and words come out. Maybe they don't start as the words about your problem, but like water falling over a cliff it is very hard to stop the flow once it starts (anybody who leaves comments about dams and the likes can just bog off :P). But the joy of Movember is that the world is going to be full of people for the next month literally wearing a sign that is basically saying 'I am doing this charity event so that people like you can have a stranger to talk to if you need it.'

All you have to do is ignore the fact they look like a 1960s pornstar and have that chat, you'll feel better for it.


Now she is four


It's that time of year again, Olivia has turned another year older and another year cuter.

This year we did something a little different, to paraphrase Monty Python, and had her birthday in a play centre. This had the knock on effect of Olivia being able to ask around some of his friends from playschool/montessori. I won't lie I was a little worried at this.

I'm old. I've seen the internet. Stories about kids asking their classmates to a birthday party and nobody showing up. It breaks the machine in my chest that pumps the black sludge around my veins. It definitely is something that I don't want happening to my own kids.

But I didn't need to fear. Turns out that the kids in Olivia's montessori class are a right knit little group. She rocked into the play centre and they were all delighted to see her. Hugs, kisses, cards, wishings of happy birthday. It was enough to warm the black sludge in my veins.

Off they went into the play frame and the rest was history. Screams of joy, kids playing together and enjoying time with each other. It was great.

What was even better, however, was seeing a glimpse at the person that Olivia is becoming. She made sure that all her friends were enjoying themselves and when one cried she checked why. When it came to eating she made sure her cousin and brother sat beside her at the top of the table because they didn't know the other kids like she did. Then as we sat and had dinner she just comes out and thanked myself and the lady friend for how great her birthday had been.

This is a four year old that is growing up to be a caring and kind person if ever there was an indication of it.

Happy birthday Nugget, glad your party was everything you deserved and then some.