Five Points – 5/7

As I write this, the COVID lockdown is being relaxed in the UK and we are able to move around more freely. It’s important not to get too complacent and to continue to act sensibly.

1. Quote of the week

“Clogs to clogs in three generations.” — English proverb

“The third generation ruins the house.” — Japanese proverb

“Fathers found businesses, which are consolidated by their sons and then ruined by their grandsons.” — attributed to Porsche

Most languages in countries with established long-running businesses have a phrase for this situation. Often in a family business, the hard toil and sweat of setting it up are absorbed by the first generation, who pass it to the second generation who run with it well. But handing a business down to a family member can be a limiting factor, particularly if the next generation is not astute.

2. What I’ve been enjoying

I am enjoying seeing the results of my recently started diet. The numbers are going in the right direction and I need them to keep going that way. It is actually incredibly easy to follow a one meal a day diet because the rules are so simple – eat one meal a day.

I’m enjoying watching Cheers on the odd evening where I can take a break. The last time I watched the lot I was probably too young to understand everything that was going on.

3. What I’m reading

I am still progressing slowly through Viking Britain: A History, but I confess I’ve put it down for a bit. In parallel, a second-hand book arrived in the post on Friday that I bought a couple of weeks ago. In the 1990s, Sir John Harvey-Jones presented a television programme on the BBC called Troubleshooter. The book is the write-up of the first series. I just about remember the episode on Apricot Computers, a British company that sold PCs superior to IBM. I read this book last weekend – I had not read enough of it to mention it in last week’s post. It’s well written, interesting and easy to read. Many of the businesses did not want to follow any of the advice and refused to change. Some of them survived and others didn’t.

I am rereading Gil Amelio’s On the Firing Line, about his 500 days at Apple. I’ve bought two copies of this book. I gave one away and recently I wanted to refer to it again. I rarely read a book twice. I am finding the book as interesting as I did the first time around. Gil led Apple at a very difficult time and lasted around 500 days there. He was eventually ousted by Steve Jobs. This book has a lot of insight into a broken business full of politics with an inability to get anything useful delivered.

I’ve incorporated reading a section of Site Reliability Engineering into my morning get up routine and I’ve read a couple of chapters of that. I need to get back to the Viking book.

4. What I’m doing in my free time

Last weekend I decorated one of our spare rooms. I’m not very good at decorating. Specific areas that need improving are the finish and consistency of the roller/brushwork, and cutting in. That is, all of it. And of course, if you are like most of us, we only decorate once every year or so. Anyway, the room is finished. There are one or two deficiencies but we will live with them. Once the furniture is in and the pictures are put on the wall, it will be fine.

My next task is to paint some garden furniture and fences. I need to redecorate another small room in the house this summer. And hopefully, that will be it for a bit.

5. What I’m learning more about

I may have mentioned this fact before on the blog, but I am fascinated by it because it is one of those things that does not work as maybe you would expect. How do we actually lose weight? Where does it go? In this TEDx talk, Ruben Meerman discusses the mathematics of weight loss. Or more precisely, the mathematics, chemistry and biology of weight loss.

In a nutshell, fat is typically made up as carbon, hydrogen and oxygen C55H104O6. Add 78 oxygen molecules O2 and a load of biochemistry, and you get this chemical transformation:

Essentially you get rid of excess weight by breathing it out and excreting water. Ruben goes on to show that roughly 10kg of fat equates to 8.4kg carbon dioxide and 1.6kg water. The video is exceptionally interesting and straight to the point. It has practical demonstrations in it – one shows carbon dioxide being frozen to show its mass. Ruben has published the work in the British Medical Journal.

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