Cheap and Easy “Pipe Cleaner” USB, Headphone Cord & Electronics Cable Ties

I’m a big fan of Fly With Stella on YouTube and one of the tips she’s shared in travel organising is the Nite Ize Original Gear Tie.

Which look awesome and I want them!

The only problem – I’m located in the ass end of the world (Australia) and no-one here seems to stock anything like it. I can order on Amazon, but with normal delivery it’s going to take some time to arrive.

But today I had an inspired idea – I could use Pipe Cleaners! (otherwise known as Chenille Stems).

I actually had a pack in an old craft box, so I cracked it open, got out the wire side cutters, and cut a few pipes into 4 parts (each pipe is about 1 foot/30cm in length).

This is what I ended up with.

There you have it. One pipe cleaner cable tie.

And for about AUD$2.50 for a pack of 40, I can get up to 160 cable ties and colour code until my heart is content.

Don’t tell my wife but before this inspired idea I went to Howards Storage World and bought a 6-pack of BlueLound CableLip cable thingies for $14.95. They’re good, but I already think my pipe cleaners are better.

Morning routines

My morning routine when at home:

About half a liter of water before I do anything. That’s a start to my daily intake of 2-3 liters.

Then 2 cups of coffee in the first 45 mins. Usually fresh ground beans through a single cup dripper or French press. If I don’t have beans then Robert Timms coffee bags. Caffeine doesn’t affect me but I love the taste of those 2 cups of coffee first thing in the morning. And that’s all the coffee I have for the day.

I sit on the couch or balcony and read my email subscriptions and NYT news headlines while drinking my coffee, and while my wife gets ready for her day.This is “me” time when my mind is fresh from sleep.

The final thing I do is make the bed. This is important, not so much for the mental affect or for having achieved at least one thing in the day, as Admiral William H. McRaven says (, but because I learnt as a kid that coming back to a ruffled doona/duvet or sheets makes for a crappy sleep the next night. It doesn’t matter much nowadays as my wife loves to scrunch the covers up, but it’s nice to have flat, even covers start.

And, yes, I have achieved one thing for the day, and some days that may be all I do achieve.


See also, Tim Ferriss:

Tips for non-English speaks in an English speaking professional workforce

One of the most important skills I’ve had to learn over the last 2 years as a remote manager, and now university educator, is reading poorly written communication from non-native English speakers.

I’ve adjusted because it has been necessary, but it frustrates me to no end with the amount of wasted mental energy and time it consumes in my day.

I’ve worked with plenty of people from many different countries over the last 2 decades and I’ve only experienced this problem in the last few years.

So here are 4 simple tips for non-native English speakers wanting to stand out in an English speaking workforce:

  1. Learn the fundamentals of English the language: use the correct words and phrases.
  2. Learn basic English grammar: when to use full-stops, commas, capitalisation and paragraphs.
  3. Proof read before you send.
  4. Ask yourself “have I provided all the information the recipient needs to understand what I’m saying”?

Poor written communication, especially if you have been doing it for a while without improvement, says one thing about a person: they’re lazy.

I’m not interested in working with lazy.

Safe advice for failure


Every single piece of advice I give is absolutely correct because I only give advice based on my actual experiences.

Yet any piece of advice I give may also not be right for you because your situation is different.

I don’t presume to think my experience fits your situation. People only truly learn from their own experience anyway.

I just hope my advice can be a guide and some small help to choose and navigate your way safely through your experiences.

Failure is good. Safe failure is what I want for you.

Interim (the correct spelling)

“Interim” is one of those words that I keep forgetting how to spell.

Here are the ways you don’t spell it (I’m including this list so I can Google search my name and incorrect spelling to find this post):


Once against, the correct spelling is



A Memory Mnemonic

Here’s a way I thought of to remember how to spell it:

Think “In term” but with an “i” in term.

How to successfully travel the world, make friends and not rub people the wrong way

There are only 2 words you need to learn in almost any language to endear people:

Thank you

If you can’t learn those words for the country you’re travelling to as a tourist, or you don’t at least try to them, then to be honest you should stay home.
And don’t complain about the hospitality of the host nation.

English may be the de facto universal language of the travelling world now, but 99% of the people in the world are good, kind people and appreciate a “hello” and “thank you” in their own language.

If nothing else, at least smile and try to show a friendly attitude.
Commanding attitude, arrogance, ignorance and self-importance just get you spit in your soup.
And a little small talk – even if you can only do it in English (or your native tongue) – goes a long way to create a bond that shows others you’re worth serving.


Bonus Words

Try also learning:

Yes [thank you]
No [thank you]

Again, simple and common words.


That’s 5 words in total to learn that show you have put some effort into understanding and respecting the people you have chosen to visit.


And in case you don’t realise, all of the above applies when communicating with people in your everyday life.


Eye Test

I went to an optometrist a few days ago for an eye test.

I was pretty confident. I’ve always had 20/20 vision.

They sat me down in front of an eye chart. You know the sort – it starts with a really big letter at the top and progressively gets smaller.

I quickly scanned down…

And realised I couldn’t get as far as I used to.

So I said in a huff: “What are you trying to do to me?! I’m dyslexic!”


Ask questions!

My advice to everyone in general:

Ask questions!

The only way you can discover new things and learn is by asking questions.

I don’t believe there is such a thing as a dumb question.
Yes, there as “simple” or “basic” questions, but I’ve learnt through the years that these can also be the most important questions. Why? Because people often “assume” the answer should be known so the question is not asked and the topic is not covered. But not knowing answers to the simple questions means we don’t understand the foundations of what we are doing.

Some people are not going to react well to being asked questions, whether the the question is simple or complex.

People like that are ignorant.

Don’t let other people’s ignorance stop you. Keep asking questions until you have answers and understanding.

Asking questions is the simplest and easiest key to success.

Those who do well, love to teach

There’s an old saying:

Those who can, do;
Those who can’t, teach.

Maybe for some people that is true.

But there is a second truth:

Those who do well, love to teach.

Those are my words (I think), but I recently heard a similar sentiment from someone else (I can’t remember who, unfortunately) and a conversation I had today made me think of this again.

People who are good at what they do, and love what they do, love to teach others as well.

It makes sense. It’s biology. Ancient. The passing of information from generation to generation. The desire to give those who follow the knowledge of lessons learnt.

Teaching is not something to laugh at. It’s difficult. It’s important. And it’s worthy.

Without teaching, where would our knowledge come from?

7 minutes and a $1 hacksaw blade vs $16 padlock

I cycled to one of my work places today and locked up my bike out front. 3 hours later I came pack to find… my bike was still there.

But I couldn’t open my lock, a simple 4-digital Master Lock combination padlock.

I suspect when I locked up I accidentally trigger the combination change and didn’t realise it.

So, need to get back on my bike I went to Big W and bought a 3-pack of replacement hacksaw blades.

7 minutes after getting back to my bike I’d sawed through the lock and was on my way (sorry, I forgot to take an after photo of the lock). And 7 minutes was slow – I could have done it in 5 if I did it properly.

Interestingly, only 2 people on a busy footpath were curious about what I was doing.

But this is a good lesson in how poor padlocks can be as a security mechanism.