Killing Two Birds With One Stone

Office Hours with Dr Chuck at Bletchley Park
Prof Charles Severance (Dr Chuck) with students at Bletchley Park, Bucks., UK. Picture: © DrChuck/YouTube

Let’s get something clear from the start. I am not in favor of stoning birds.

In fact if there were two birds coming right at me with murderous intent and my only weapon was a single stone then I think the killer birds would be the winner of that rather bloody and one sided battle.

But this blog post is not really about birds or stones at all as we are speaking metaphorically here. The stones and birds are metaphors for getting things done, or metaphors for Plus 1 if you like.

Earlier this year, or late last year, I can’t remember now, I told myself that I was going to visit Bletchley Park in Buckinghamshire, where some of the finest mathematical minds of their generation broke the German Enigma codes which were used to pass highly secret German intelligence communications during World War Two.

The Enigma cypher was a tough code to crack with around 159 million million million possible settings to choose from. To make things that little bit more difficult for the code breakers, it was changed every 24 hours.

I said I would visit this historic location after studying the history of the internet a year or so ago. (A Plus 1 for me is constantly learning new things)

While I fully intended to make this visit, I had never gone as far as to setting a date. This was a major flaw. If we don’t make active steps to make our intentions real then they will never become real.

Another thing I said I would like to do was to meet the lecturer who gave the class I took in computing history. Given that he is based in Ann Arbor, Michigan, that one was more of a challenge.

On Thursday I was delivered the virtual stone which would allow me to kill the virtual birds whose days were now numbered.

The lecturer in question sent me an email saying he would be in Bletchley Park on Saturday at 3pm and would love to meet any students who cared to show up.

So I abandoned my plans to go to the local football match, caught six trains in 24 hours and got to cross two things off my list.

The Plus 1 here? Taking advantage of an unexpected opportunity to achieve something you might not have otherwise achieved.

4 thoughts to “Killing Two Birds With One Stone”

  1. Loved the story Patrick, (good lesson there…tell a good story), and the way you related that to Plus One made a great point. Saying and doing are two different things but in this case sometimes the universe is waiting to align possibilities.


  2. And there you are in the background to prove it. Excellent post Patrick. This past summer I was going to meet my oldest daughter in my hometown to hear one of my favorite authors lecture at a symposium. The bonus was that my parents (her grandparents) would be celebrating their 60th wedding anniversary that same day. As it turned out, my daughter could not make it so I decided it was a fantasy trip anyway – taking off work two days to catch a mid-week lecture.

    About four days before the event I decided to double up on my work – and go. I did and it was one of the best two days of not only this year, but a long time. My dad went to the lecture with me, and we both enjoyed it. To boot, there was a second lecture later in the day and Chris Wiman signed my copy of My Bright Abyss and I got to chat with him for a minute. I had a wonderful celebration alone with my parents – and they loved it. The 12 hour car ride (6 both ways) which I thought would be so grueling actually ended up being just part of the journey. Win-win.

  3. Hi Patrick this is an awesome post and I know you wouldn’t kill any birds lol. But yes we need to put some effort into what we want to achieve. We just can’t think about it happening, we actually have to physically take steps to make it happen. I hope you enjoyed seeing your teacher again. And that is amazing we was in the UK! 🙂

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