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[This email is an update. If you haven't got one from me before you'll find I write them two-four times a year. Please email me to opt-out or opt-in - I'm not very methodical about updating the list of people I send this to!] When I last wrote, way back in May, I was in San Sebastian with my brothers and it was raining. But the rain on the plain stopped, and we had a fantastic final day on the beach before all going our separate global ways again. To be repeated next year, somewhere else in the world! And shortly after that it was a weekend in Amsterdam with Katie, staying with her friends Senay and Matt. Although I've been to Amsterdam before, staying with locals gave me a refreshingly different perspective. Less of the endless red light tack, more of the relaxing cafes and good wine, and I can see why people love to live there. Back in the office and after all my holidays I worked on a couple of cases in banking. I've just come off one with a big utility, and now I'm about to start a strategic review for a chain of hotels. The variety - function and industry - is fantastic, but it's been even better to also see that business is everywhere fundamentally the same. Like ice cream. Because people are people and business is business, just like ice cream is ice cream, even if it comes in a million different delicious flavours. And other than work? I've still had my weekends. Mostly I've just loved being with Katie, but sometimes doing other things too. Like a bushcraft course. This was a taster, and I would love to spend a week next year doing something much more comprehensive - because there's nothing better than building a shelter out of only trees and bracken in a pouring downpour, and finding out that it doesn't leak at all and is drier on Sunday morning than the basher tarp I mistakenly retreat to! Likewise, learning how to strip nettles and make cord without being stung, or how to make fire with flint and steel. How to butcher a rabbit or gut a wood pigeon. I learnt so much that weekend! The latter was an especially interesting one, but not for the squeamish. Because the best way to turn a dead bird into something you can eat starts with said dead bird in one piece, needs only your hands and no tools, and ends with some meat in the pan. I hope you won't mind if I omit some intermediate details... More than anything though, this weekend taught me to appreciate the supermarket, electricity and running water. Even the absolute basic in the bush takes all of your time, and those three save so much of it. The internet is an obvious example of how technology can make us smarter, but it turns out that all of modern civilisation is actually epistemic engineering at the most profound level, engineering that makes us so much smarter without us even thinking about it. Which is obvious, something I always "knew" - but now I see and feel it everywhere, at a much deeper level. To quote Richard Feynman: "You can know the name of a bird in all the languages of the world, but when you're finished, you'll know absolutely nothing whatever about the bird... So let's look at the bird and see what it's doing - that's what counts. I learned very early the difference between knowing the name of something and knowing something." Because the weekend after, taking advantage of that epistemic pyramid, I went to a speed reading course. I still can't read a million words a minute, but I am 20-30% faster (by my tests) and I've learnt a fantastic set of techniques for skim reading and getting the gist. Not nearly as interesting to talk about as the bushcraft, but I'm glad I did it. Back to work - and training. As Katie said, there's always a carrot and a stick, and at BCG the carrot can be pretty big. In this case, it was a 2-week mini-MBA in Boston which left me even less impressed with marketing as an academic discipline, but much more impressed with management, finance and the various types of accountancy. The professors were impressive and interesting too, and incidentally taught me another very important lesson: There are no boring subjects, only boring people. I'm not sure what that says about some of the business and commerce lecturers I had in NZ, but there you go... Anyway, just a couple of weeks ago, I also had four days in Milan for my second and final regional training. This was transformational for me, one of those *CLUNK* moments when so many pieces fall into place. It's hard to explain, but Feynman's phrasing comes to mind once more. If all previous training was just learning about something, then in this training I really learnt something. And finally, in amongst all of this, Katie and I also celebrated her birthday and then dashed off for a week's holiday in Scotland. So we began with Michelin-starred brie flavoured ice cream and cocktails looking over London from the 33rd floor of Centrepoint. And we ended with fantastic visits to friends and family, a swim in the North sea, day walks by map and compass through the Scottish Highlands and 3 nights in a woodsman's hut with no power, no hot showers, no running water and an incredible view. I would not change a moment of it! Some photos attached for flavour, but now you all know almost everying in my life that matters. Perhaps next time I'll write about Arcadia and all the other little side projects? FINIS