Being a parent: what it is about (part 2)

Looking for part 1? Here’s what being a parent is not.

Being a parent is about taking responsibility for one’s words and actions. Often even thoughts.

Being a parent is about patience and kindness. It is about contentedness and modesty. It is about meekness and respect.

Being a parent is about tolerance and acceptance. It is about resilience, geniality and triumf.

Being a parent is about justice, joy and truth. It is about accedence and faith. It is about endurance and hope.

Being a parent is a lot like love.

Slowly, She Lives: She Stands on The Edge (part 5)

(She Stands on The Edge is the fifth and last part of the short story Slowly, She Lives that I wrote during a spring semester in Hjo folkhögskola seven years ago. You find links to the other parts below. Originally, it was written in Swedish, but I translated it, too. It has been sitting on the hard drive of my laptop since 2006, untouched. Enjoy!)

Previously: When All is Said and Done (part 4)

4:59 – April 12

She breathes eagerly and determined, as if she were on her way to victory. She knows that she already is on the winner’s side. The others observe her with a deep and sincere wonder. Voices full of gladness shout high above sorrow and need.

Today is the time to go. Today is the time to arrive. Where the ship takes her she is not really sure. She has only heard stories about the ship and tales of the destination. She stands on the edge and waits for the one who knows her best. The star is coming back to fetch the angel. Her eyes are closed and lips concentrated.

I am waiting for you, come soon, my morning star! Come, darling! Come and take your angel home! Come!

Twitter client for your desktop: Tweetbot for Mac

Among the many Twitter clients I’ve tried, I like Tweetbot for Mac andTweetDeck for Android the best. Let me start with the desktop client and save the rant about Twitter clients for mobile for next week.

Tweetbot was first released by Tapbots, LLC as a client for iPhone. Much and duly praised, it is one of the most popular mobile apps. Tapbots continued to make awesome and released Tweetbot even for iPad and Mac.

Tweetbot for Mac — Tapbots

I bought the desktop version of Tweetbot without a swipe on the surface of its mobile ancestor. For two reasons: hype and friend recommendation. I do not regret spending the money.

The client comes packed with great integrations with the services I love. Connect your Tweetbot with Droplr to upload and share photos and videos as well as shorten links. Add Pocket to save links in tweets for later reading. Which is also available at a stroke of a shortcut.

There are shortcuts for most actions you would perform on a tweet. Which really is the power of Tweetbot. Which would really be enough of a reason to buy it in the first place.

I imagine Glass

For a couple of days, I have been imagining what my life would be like, if I had a little piece of glass in front of my right eye. No, a little higher, so as not to obstruct my sight. When I was outside taking a promenade yesterday and when I was looking at the screen of my laptop working earlier this week—I kept thinking about how I would interact with the inanimate wise assistant.

When I pull out my phone to take a photo of my lunch, I imagine holding a fork and knife in my hands and uttering “OK glass, take a picture”. When my food is no longer warm and I am busy tapping around on the broad screen of the smartphone to share the photo with friends, I imagine choosing to share it with people on Google+ instead.

When I smear my hands with paint and have fun painting tigers and flowers with my three-year-old, I imagine saying “OK glass, record a video” without taking my eyes off of her smile. When I have an hour to kill in a city foreign to me, I imagine asking “OK glass, google nearby café”.

Imagine technology were not in the way of our interaction with each other. Imagine communication were something that was no longer bound to hardware. Imagine relevant information were accessible to you anywhere any time.

Imagine also not using a product, but being used as one. Imagine someone making a claim at your data and drawing profit from selling it. Imagine something making use of everyone’s data to manipulate and rule.

Falling down from the sky and sharing the moment instantaneously sounds alluring, but does not necessarily mean it is to my benefit. I imagine.

Ed Rondthaler vs. English spelling

This is one of my favourite videos on English spelling. Ed Rondthaler was 102 years old, when he recorded it.

[Ed Rondthaler] has been engaged in the spelling reform movement since 1961 and is a strong advocate of the Ripman-Dewey principles of simplification. His writings on spelling reform have been published widely. For his contribution to the reform movement and related areas of typography and letter design he has been awarded an honorary doctorate. (Source)

Ed Rondthaler on English spelling from Bob Smartner on Vimeo.

Customer-centricity and contact information

Örebro was the first among Swedish municipalities to publish their employees’ detailed contact information on their website. The information includes the name of the employee, as well as their occupation, where in the organisational hierarchy they hold their position, telephone number, e-mail, office address, mailing address and a fax number.

The public consider it a good service to be able to find a telephone number to the person their question concerns. It is especially useful when they have an established business relation to the person, but do not for one reason or another have their contact information at hand.

The municipality are in a transition period where their customer and citizen service centre is being developed into a one stop centre. The new service plattform (or a “service surface”) combining telephone, digital and physical meetings is to launch during the period of autumn 2013 and the turn of the year. The removal of the possibility to find your contact’s information online is being considered.

There are several obvious advantages to the public having access to the telephone number or an e-mail address in order to get their question answered or a case taken care of. But one of the problems that the Communications department at the municipality of Örebro found lies in that the employees whom the public ring to are in many reported cases unavailable for telephone calls. As of last year, around 50 per cent of telephone calls went unanswered, which isn’t very uncommon among the Swedish municipalities. If the public choose to e-mail a person by their e-mail address, there is also no way for them to find out whether the person is available or say on paternal/maternal or sick leave.

While the openness and transparency contributes to a better customer experience (“Hey, I didn’t need to ring the local authority, I found whom I shall contact online all by myself!’), it is rather illogical to let the public waste their time waiting for the reply when the person they have contacted is unavailable. They end up contacting a customer service centre with the same question several days later. A question that might as well have been answered by a customer service representative in less than five minutes.

One of the arguments for keeping the contact information on the website is that it is the possibility for the municipality to be customer-centric. The curious thing is that it is exactly the argument for removal of the contact information from the site.

Customer-centricity (or client-centredness—whatever you choose to call it) is not, I believe, about feeding your clients with different kinds of information and smearing it by making it searchable. Customer-centricity is about focusing on the needs of your customers and looking for ways to make their contact with your business quick and efficient.

For further reading on the progress with the development of service plattform in the municipality of Örebro, I would like to invite you to read Örebro’s blog Enklare Vardag (in Swedish), which can be translated as “A Simpler Everyday”.

Success is a verb

Full agenda, overambitious plans, pointless meetings devouring your precious minutes. The day almost over, you find yourself having wasted most of it. Sounds familiar? There’s a cure. But first the disease.

The disease. You haven’t had a goal for today, have you? The reason you think you’ve wasted your day is that there’s no clear reference point. If you don’t have a purpose, whatever you’re doing is going to be a waste of time.

You think you’ve wasted your day, because you’ve made up your mind to waste it. And adjusted your circumstances accordingly. You’ve spilled costly fertiliser drops on grains of sand.

The cure. In the short run, fight fire with fire. If you haven’t had an achievement to pursue today and feel that you haven’t accomplished anything of worth today, do just that. Accomplish something—anything. It can only get better.

In the long run, establish a set of goals for a day, or a week, or a month. Then make sure you get to do something that brings you closer to your goal. Something that builds you up. When you are ready to score, shoot!

Success is not a thing you eventually reach. It is about your performance and accomplishments on a daily basis. Success is a verb. Act it out.

Being a parent: what it’s not about (part 1)

Being a parent isn’t a bed of roses, constant cuddling or endless chocolate kisses. It isn’t about stillness and harmony. Neither is it about staying up and waking up late.

Being a parent isn’t an indulgence or lack of self-control. It isn’t about ignorance, lightheartedness or disrespect. Neither is it about a warm fluffy gladness or sparkling energy.

Being a parent isn’t a war or even a battlefield. It isn’t about denial, hesitation or weakness. Neither is it about keeping or letting go.

Being a parent isn’t painless.

Slowly, She Lives: When All is Said and Done (part 4)

(When All is Said and Done is the fourth of five parts of the short story Slowly, She Lives that I wrote during a spring semester in Hjo folkhögskola seven years ago. You find links to the other parts below. Originally, it was written in Swedish, but I translated it, too. It has been sitting on the hard drive of my laptop since 2006, untouched. Enjoy!)

Previously: The Pure White and The Filthy Black (part 3)

1:43 – January 15, 2005

I want to tell you about something now, something that happened with me several hours ago. I know that you are willing to listen to me now. You have done it so many times. That is why I turn to you yet again. And I owe you so many sleepless nights. It is hard to find the right words to describe it. Try not to focus on how I write it, but understand the situation. But before I do that, let me say one thing, which you already know.

Despite the fact that Sarita and I fight constantly, we reconcile quickly after yelling, hitting and throwing plates. The thing is that we love each other, but in itself, our love is expressed in some violent way. I hope that you understand me now, my dear friend. I do not know why it is as it is. I can only guess. I am not trying to excuse myself in any way now. Neither do I want to do it, not this time in any case. I just want you to know that she means a lot to me, though quarrels are more common in our home than maybe they are in someone else’s.

After a Friday-night fight with Sarita, I went out. As you already understand I was very nervous. It was cold outside, minus ten degrees probably, but I did not care about the temperature then. Neither did I care about the direction. I wanted just to go away from the flat, away from the town, away from the world. I had never felt so worthless before. In fact, I did not see a point in living. I did not understand why such a person as I should walk upon the earth and plague others with my infected personality. I know that what I am saying seems unbelievably extreme. And it is actually, now that I think about it. But then, just several hours ago, it did not at all seem irrational. There and then it seemed as logical as it could get. That is to take my life, my worthless and meaningless life. I was not thinking straight, obviously. But, my dear friend, I did not want to see my near and dear suffer, you know? It felt that for my entire life I had only made others suffer. And I am not less sick and tired of it all now than I was several hours ago.

I walked along the bank of the river, which, as you know, I would always do, when I feel bad. Stupidity of all kinds captured my thoughts. My brain felt like jumping out of my head. My eyeballs were hot and bloody. When I came staggering to the bridge over the deep water, I did not recognise myself and cast myself in.

(I cannot write this without tears on my eyes.)

When the water was all around me it felt like someone had given me anaesthesia. I felt enclosed in a little frozen room without sound, without light, without life. I did not feel my limbs. My whole body became a shapeless lump. I could not move and I could not breathe. For the first time in my life I felt really happy. My stone-cold thoughts clanged in my head, “Finally you have freed the world from your terrible hypocrisy. Finally the world can breathe out. Finally… finally…”

I do not know how long I was underwater before I felt an almost imperceptible splash. I did not hear it, but I felt it in my body. Then I felt a hard and fine grip on my shoulders and I awoke as if from deep dream. When my unexpected saviour laid me down on my back in the snow, I was filled with the worst wrath in the world. I managed to get up to my feet and started shouting at the man and throwing evil blows of my clenched fists on him. He was a burglar who stole my only effort to do something right, I thought. “You had no right to save me,” I yelled without words on my lips while I was trying to reach his head with my strokes. “It is my life,” I cried. “And no one will control it, except for me!”

After a couple of successful strikes, when I got exhausted of hitting his shoulders, he quietly lifted his jacket from the ground, put it around me and then he said, “Come!” Then he reached out his hand to me and it was then that I noticed that his eyebrow was bleeding. I looked at his clothes. They were not drier than mine. “Come,” he repeated like a mother, when her child is in danger, tries to softly persuade the little one to come down from the windowpane, for she understands that she must not scare the child with her threats or shouts—otherwise the child can find himself in more dangerous circumstances.

I did not know where we would go and what he wanted to do with me, when he asked me to come. Come? What? Where are we going? I remembered what happened to me last fall, when I went for a walk in the wood. Do you remember? I remembered the low-hanging branches and the high treetops, the chilly gaze and the strong grip. How fricking near danger I had then and how near another danger I could have been now! “A cup of warm tea will be enough,” I heard his voice. It was difficult for me to understand what he said. It must have shown, for he added, “So you don’t freeze completely,” and he smiled at me. “When all is said and done, a cup of warm tea is the best thing in the world after taking a bath in ice-cold water, isn’t it?” And so I smiled at him and said, “Why did you do that? Why did you risk your own life?” He sighed lightly looking at his ice-stiff jacket and said, “Your life is more worthy than my clothes. But my own life, I lay it down voluntarily. I have the right and authority to lay it down and to take it up again.”

My dear friend! You will most probably never hear from me again. But I promise you that you will never be forgotten. You are the person whom I will always long to be with. To you I am most thankful. You see, he offered me something I needed. And I accepted it. He offered me life—something I could not refuse.

Next week: She Stands on The Edge (part 5)

SwiftKey—a smart keyboard for Android

SwiftKey is probably the best alternative keyboard for Android. It comes with a bunch of features, most notable of which is text prediction—SwiftKey predicts what your next word is based on what you wrote before. It can learn from your tweets, Facebook updates, text messages, Gmail conversations and/or your blog.

One of the things I love about the app is that it isn’t limited to English. Since I use my phone daily to communicate in three languages, I find it neat to be able to easily switch between them and have it learn the way I type in my current language.

As of version 4, SwiftKey have introduced gesture typing, which is surprisingly accurate. You glide your finger across the keyboard and the app types the desired word. You can also glide your finger to the spacebar, which eliminates the need of ever lifting your finger from the screen of your phone.

Other features I like include themes and smart spaces. The latter inserts a space between two words should you forget to.

SwiftKey is available for both phones and tablets. If you are’t convinced that the app is worth 26 SEK (4 USD or 3 EUR), you can download a free 30-day trial.

Say hello to SwiftKey 4 is a video by SwiftKeyApp on YouTube.