The Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin

Benjamin FranklinBenjamin Franklin has recently had several mentions on some of the creativity and productivity blogs that I frequent. So I thought it was time to see what all the fuss was about and read his biography (which is freely available on Kindle).

I’d heard of him before but I hadn’t quite realised just how focused a man he was on self improvement through journalling. The fact that he managed to contribute to scientific research, run a publishing house, invent lightning rods, bifocal lens, a new type of stove, be an active civic figure and a statesman/diplomat is awe inspiring. It is no wonder that Franklin is often termed ‘the first American’ and clearly he fully deserves the honour of being know as one of the founding fathers of America.

While I found his scheme for self improvement a bit too intensive for my own applications it was interesting and inspiring to see just what he managed to achieve. I wonder what a modern Benjamin Franklin would be like and what they’d achieve with the technologies available today?

I also found this book interesting due to its coverage of early American history which I wasn’t taught at school.

Blog Inc.

Blog IncThe last year or so I’ve found myself in a bit of a blogging draught, needing to revitalise my writing and this site. To attempt to achieve this I decided to do some reading on blogging and seeing as my good friend Corwin had just read ‘Blog Inc’ I thought I’d have a read of it too.

The book is focused on how to develop unique content, attract readers to a form a community, how to develop your writing ‘voice’ and your personal brand. There are also chapters on monatization, making a career from blogging and going from blogger to author for those so inclined.

As someone who essentially blogs for a combination of letting off steam, spreading knowledge and some personal branding I did find this to be a useful book to read. As a ‘self taught’ blogger I’ve mostly copied other bloggers I’ve admired and have read little on blogging etiquette or manners.

I’d recommend this book to any current or aspiring blogger.

Copenhagen

Copenhagen, the capital of Denmark has been a city that I’ve wanted to visit and experience since I moved to Stockholm. So when I found myself with the funds and spare time I decided to go explore for two nights. It was also another opportunity to use the excellent WiFi equipped high speed trains that run between Stockholm and Copenhagen.

Across Sant Jorgens So.

Across Sant Jorgens So.

The snow also gave me an interesting situation to photograph the changing of the queens guard at Amalienborg Palace. An unexpectedly minimal image also resulted from shooting across the frozen water of ‘Sant Jorgens So’ towards the other bank.

The Queens guard at Amalienborg Palace.

The Queens guard at Amalienborg Palace.

The thing I didn’t expect with Copenhagen being six hours to the south of Stockholm by high speed train was for it to be both colder and snowier in Copenhagen! This unexpected turn of events did however give me some new interesting photographic opportunities, especially in the famous Nyhavn canal area.

Frozen Nyhavn canal.

Frozen Nyhavn canal.

For this trip I opted to take my Fuji X-E2, 18-55 lens, filters, Gitzo Traveller tripod and Timbuk2 camera bag. This worked out as a relatively light setup that wasn’t a chore to walk around with all day compared to an equivalent DSLR setup.

Grundtvigs church.

Grundtvigs church.

I also took the time to travel out of the city centre to see the big ‘Blue Planet’ aquarium and the famous ‘Grundtvigs’ church. The aquarium turned out to be way busier than I expected which reduced my enjoyment of it. However the cathedral was as amazing as I’d hoped and I must have spent a good hour by myself photographing it and is well worth taking the time to visit.

Copenhagen Subway long exposure.

Copenhagen Subway long exposure.

The subway system in Copenhagen is robotic and the carriages are similar to those used in the Skytrain system in Vancouver. This allows you to sit right at the front of the train which allows for some fun long exposure photographs!

Cycling towards Vor Frelsers Kirke.

Cycling towards Vor Frelsers Kirke.

I was quite impressed by the sheer volume of cyclists braving the snow in Copenhagen, I know it is one of the most cycle friendly cities in the world but I hadn’t anticipated how many people would be willing to cycle in such slippy conditions!

New Year’s fireworks over Stockholm

This year was my second year in Stockholm for new year and I this time I was more prepared to photograph the proceedings. It was also a good chance to try out my newly acquired Fuji X-E2, which would also mean less equipment to haul with me to the pre-midnight meal.

Fireworks over Stockholm

The DICE office balcony is an ideal location to watch the new year fireworks over central Stockholm. The fireworks are mostly from individual personal displays as far as I know, so they tend to start a bit earlier than midnight and be fairly chaotic! I think there are a couple of hotels running their own little shows too as there seems to be a few spots of organisation.

Otherwise it seems to be a case of turn up on the water side or park and set off your own fireworks! This seems to be sufficiently exciting that some people don’t manage to setup their fireworks correctly and a few semi-horizontal rockets will usually be witnessed streaking along the streets or over the water.

Fireworks over Stockholm

Something I’ve not seen else where is the tradition of releasing what look like oriental styled candle powered paper balloons to drift over the city. I can only theorise at the amount of ‘entertainment’ these balloons give the fire brigade as they come back to earth in random locations around town..

Retiring See Stockholm & hello 500px!

I have decided to retire my photo blog SeeStockholm.com, the main reason for is that I have many photographs from outside Stockholm (and Sweden) that I’d like to share. So I’ve made the decision to move to 500px for picture sharing where you can find me at 500px.com/EndlesslyCurious. This change also frees me from maintaining two wordpress sites at once, which was becoming a bit of a burden.

I’m contemplating how I can also have my photographs on this site too but right now I am going stick with just a 500px sidebar widget.

Edit:  Ten months later and I’ve deleted my 500px account, its a great site I just didn’t find myself engaging with it as much as sharing here or on Instagram.  Perhaps sharing on 500px was a bit too intimidating..

Knowing what you can control..

I find it useful to categorise sources of stress in the following ways as soon as I realise I am stressed:

  1. Things I can control e.g. preparing for a examination.
  2. Things I cannot control but can mitigate e.g. the weather.
  3. Things I can neither control or mitigate e.g. war.

This  helps me to focus on available courses of action or begin to mindfully relax if there is nothing I can do.  In the pas coming to the realisation I am effectively a spectator has been surprisingly calming, although not always in extreme cases.

This has been in part inspired by the serenity prayer of Reinhold Niebuhr which was made famous by the AA:

God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change,
The courage to change the things I can,
And wisdom to know the difference.

Knowing what you can change and letting go of the rest is indeed a powerful tool.