Saturday, 22 December 2012

Humans v. Nature

For my next assignment we have to come up with our own essay title, further questions that come out of it, sources we will use to answer the questions, and evaluate those sources.

On the one hand it's a bit scary, but more than that I find it rather exciting!  We can choose from the many different crime subjects we have covered, from corporate crime to state terror; people trafficking to cybercrime.  I have decided to concentrate on eco-crime because it has grabbed me as a subject.

I've never seen myself as a tree-hugger, but reading about it both in my course book and other articles has a) got my blood boiling and b) made me see how things link up between 'the West's' demands and the damage caused to developing countries and the natural environment.

At the moment (it will probably all change!) my working title is "To what extent do transnational relations and global trade affect levels of eco-crime?"

Today the sight in the 2012 "Wildlife photographer of the Year" portfolio of a rhino with its horn having been sawn off with a chainsaw almost reduced me to tears.  The things that humans are capable of and responsible for in a quest for money can be heart-breaking.

I'm off to see if Amazon sell tree-hugger t-shirts.

Wednesday, 19 December 2012

Unwinding

I will (try to) no longer:

- get wound up by people outside this office ignoring my requests in matters of consistency and admin. Things that make life easier but don't affect the important stuff.  Things I have been asking for at least five years and it's not happening. It's time to stop minding.

- get wound up by other people's problems which they try to involve me in.

- get wound up by other people's stupidity, where it does not directly affect my own or loved-ones' well-being.

- get wound up by apostrophe's.

- get wound up by people who think that because they are rich they are more important.

- get wound up by people trying to wind me up.

Wish me luck!

Tuesday, 27 November 2012

Sports Personality of the Year

When one works in a sport, there are assumptions about who one will vote for in BBC's Sports Personality of the Year.

I doubt whether many of my sailing friends and acquaintances will vote for anyone other than Ben Ainslie; but not me.  The ones that would get my vote would be either Jessica Ennis, Katherine Grainger or Nicola Adams and yes I suppose I am unconsciously biased toward the women.  All of the shortlisted nominees are of course inspiring, but I think some are more inspiring than others.  

Those who breezed through a heptathlon, or who have persevered and finally made gold; or become a first British champion say more to me than those who have been winning golds for years.

If that doesn't fit with the 'But you have to vote for Ben!' brigade, then so be it. 

Monday, 12 November 2012

Spot's Spot

Not written by Spot because he has a bit of a hangover.. well actually no, he has apparently probably had a kind of stroke on Saturday during the night. It seems a more likely reason than the possibility of him drinking the bourbon.  We were both pretty upset seeing him not being able balance and falling over, and apart from the obvious reasons of seeing a loved pet not being 'normal' it is a stark reminder that he's not getting any younger, he'll be 13 in January.

He has remained pretty cheerful though, the tail still wagging and certainly no reduction in appetite!  Just an odd look behind the eyes, and a lot of "whoa boy, take it easy with the turning around" from us. On Sunday he spent the day watching us cutting wood and then retired to his bed for the afternoon, we left the door open so he could come and go. He has some odd, short episodes before but very short lived ie. 5-10 minutes, so we didn't panic but planned to take him to the vet this morning.

The vet sent him home with a variety of tablets and another appointment on Wednesday, and he seems to be a bit better this evening, more sturdy on his legs. The vet says he should either recover completely, or at least almost completely, we'll just have to wait and see.

He was certainly pretty happy that we gave him homemade stew gravy to eat his tablets with this evening, although he still managed to avoid one last bit of pink one which then had to be held in his mouth until he gave in and swallowed...!

A little monkey even when the brain's not working quite properly ;)

Thursday, 8 November 2012

Saturday, 27 October 2012

Chill out weekend

We seem to have either been away or had various appointments at weekends for the last couple of months, which has been good fun but quite tiring! This weekend was totally blank and I intended to keep it that way.. So when Mr H said he was going up to see his brother I secretly looked forward to some chill out time alone at home.  I also wanted to get some study reading done, which is much easier without other people here.

My Saturday wasn't particularly restful but that was fine, everything I did was my choice. I did a tough class at the gym, which is my escape place (there is never anything else I 'ought' to be doing, when I'm there).  Then as it was a beautiful day Django and I went up to the Forest for a bracing, breezy walk before coming back for lunch and a bit of studying. Me, not Django, that is!

After a quick visit to my parents in the afternoon, I cleared out one of the veg patches ready for manure. So as I say, not very restful, physically at least! But it was relaxing, and this evening Django and I are in front of the fire with study books and a bit of tv.

When Mr H was living in Scotland, some of our best weekends consisted of just that kind of thing, dog walking and gardening, and general chilling out.

This time, the best thing is that I know that Mr H will be home tomorrow :-)


Wednesday, 24 October 2012

Arianisms..

I went to the library the other day to do some studying, and of course also looked for any relevant books. I ended up taking out two books on political philosophy, which is something I'd never heard of before. One of them is titled "Justice. Doing the right thing" and some of the content is very relevant to my studies since much of what we ask ourselves in my course relates to 'what is crime and what is justice', a very complex subject!

So, I have read the chapter on Utilitarianism, and the familiar name of Jeremy Bentham who seems to pop up all over the place. As far as I can make out, utilitarianism says that any decision should be taken based on what would cause the most happiness for the most people at that time. Sounds reasonable until you start thinking about it more deeply, for instance does that make it ok to intentionally kill one person to save five? In its basic form it takes no account of moral virtue or ethics and reduces everything to a cost-benefit exercise, which doesn't work in real life (or at least, it upsets a lot of people).

I have just started the chapter on libertarianism - people should be able to do exactly what they want as long as it doesn't cause harm to anyone else. Sounds reasonable... But who decides what constitutes harm? And doesn't everyone have their own interpretation? Some people mat think short skirts cause harm by distracting car drivers, but the wearer would no doubt refute that.

More stuff to get my mind spinning!

Sunday, 14 October 2012

Culture shock?

I was away at a conference at the weekend.
On Friday against my better judgement I'd had 2 glasses of red wine before 4pm... This is someone who maybe has a glass with the evening meal, I'm not really supposed to drink with the meds but I've started liking the taste again. I did regret it on Friday because by 7pm I was feeling maudlin, the symptom I get worst. I decided no more drink that night so of course when out for dinner that night some of those who were drinking (everyone else) started... "what's up? Are you pregnant?" etc. guaranteed to wind me up!
In our culture it is weird to not want alcohol, and it's worse if they know that you're not actually teetotal (or pregnant). It wouldn't be the same with other things unless you are part of a drug culture or other peer pressure situation.
"hey Juniper, not going to step in front of a car? God you're so BORING!!!!!"
Anyway I stuck to my guns, and furthermore on Saturday which was the main dinner night with champagne reception, I had one glass of fizz and drank water for the rest of the evening. I had the best evening and the most-laughing-until-I-cried moments I've had for a long time.
My friend, herself several sheets to the wind, said "Juniper is so much more fun when she's not drinking!!"
I have to agree with her. The one time I stayed up at an annual dinner and danced til 2am, I was stone cold sober. Usually I'd be heading to bed at 11pm feeling ill.
Maybe next time someone asks whether I'm pregnant I'll just say yes. That is if I can stop laughing...

Monday, 8 October 2012

21st Century...

Well, here I am, finally caught up with the world.  I now have not only a Kindle but am writing this on an IPad. Admittedly a second hand G1 version but an iPad nevertheless.

All those years of saying "never!" and here I am, feeling a bit of a traitor.

I guess driving a 44 year old car kind of makes up for it?

Wednesday, 3 October 2012

My brain is back in use!

It feels good to be studying again, my brain is clicking back into gear after a summer off, I can feel the cogs grinding and gradually working up to speed.

My first assignment is based around opium and its uses both legal and illegal, and it's a fascinating trip through social history. I now know about the 'Opium Wars' and more recently the 'War on Drugs', both examples of how the actions of people in power have influenced the use (and abuse) of opium and other opioid drugs (eg. morphine, codeine, heroin).

My tutor this year is a woman and so far seems very nice; I get the impression she'll be giving good, constructive feedback which is so important.

So, watch out for Crime and Justice discussions coming up on a blog near you.... that is, here!

Tuesday, 2 October 2012

TP 215 : Shiny


The Bullring shopping centre, Birmingham

Management - punishment for a previous life?

I read an interview with a manager this week who said that she didn't allow office back-biting to go on and just got people into the same room to sort it out.  She said that normally all parties ended up laughing about it by the end. Really?  I bet once they got back to their desks the smiles are off their faces and they are sticking pins in to wax models of 'the other party'.

All work places have their share of back-biting, and I can see that getting the protagonists to discuss it is good, but surely it depends on the subject matter?   If it is complaining because somebody isn't pulling their weight, or has done something incorrectly, that is totally different to character-assassination on personal grounds.

I do get fed up sometimes with being expected to be the middle-man, and would like to say 'oh for heaven's sake just sort it out between you', but it just wouldn't work in many of the cases. Like the ones that consist of "Grrr, she just walked in the room and I was annoyed, it's the way she puts her bag down!"

I know that there are people who read this who are experienced in such matters in the work place, what do you think?

Saturday, 29 September 2012

September & The Goodwood Revival

Wow that was a month and a half, September...

It fitted in two hill climbs in the Imp, a trip to Goodwood Revival, and many hours under/in/around the car by Mr H. getting things fixed!

The Goodwood Revival was a wonderful day. We spent a comfortable night at our friends cottage near the venue, and had a superb meal at the local pub which was walking distance and restaurant quality at pub prices. Perfect.

The next morning we donned our period dress and set off for Goodwood...


We spent a happy time browzing the period market place and resisting buying things!   I was a bit disappointed at the low quality of some of the items in fact, but anyway it was fun looking. I managed to find a new (old) hat which went with my dress:


There was plenty of period racing on but our favourite event was the St Mary's Trophy which was 50s/60s saloons including Jaguars, A 35s, a Rover P4, Ford Anglias etc.  The great thing about the racing at Goodwood is that the drivers don't hold back, no matter how immaculate their pride and joy.  A BMW 700 was being thrown around the track and went off several times only to rejoin the pack - the owner/driver evidently have a fantastic time!   It is also impressive how when things go wrong they just get on and fix it before the next race. There were stories of new engines and gearboxes being put in overnight, even involving drives to Wales to get the parts. This is serious stuff.  At the end of the St Mary's Trophy it transpired that the driver of the winning Jaguar had had gearbox trouble so drove using only 2 gears, and one hand on the gearstick!

Mr H thoroughly enjoyed his birthday present (the ticket) and we will definitely be going next year!

On a car related subject, I have just been accepted for membership of the British Women Racing Drivers' Club which I am stupidly excited about!  I'll be going all out in 2013 now... 

And our Imp Adventures have their own blog... http://www.impish-adventures.blogspot.com  where you can keep up with the action ;)



Friday, 14 September 2012

Keeping busy!

At this time of year my brain is ducking and diving into different roles: writing pieces for the work websites (two different sites), discussing the best way to do the PR for new initiatives, listening to ideas from my colleagues and thinking about if and how to implement them. 

It's a love/hate situation - I love it because there is plenty to think about and get on with and it is challenging I hate it because it is lots of bits and pieces rather than one big project or the 'head-down' frantic issuing of certificates that is the first half of the year.

For those of you who don't know what I do as my day job, have a look here: What we do 

I hope you all have a good weekend.  I am going out for a meal tonight with Mr H and my best girlfriend; we very rarely go out so it's a treat!  And on Sunday we're off to Goodwood Revival, I can almost hear and smell it already ;)

Wednesday, 12 September 2012

Hummm

I tried a Zumba dance class tonight, which turned out to be an hour of trying to work out what she was doing and translate that into what my body should be doing, and mostly not getting it quite right. It was a bit like being thrown in the deep end, which I don't like.   I remember feeling like that when I started choreographed dance classes on the 3rd week and felt totally out of my depth; but of course once I got used to it, and started learning it, I loved it.  So I won't chuck this away on this one experience.

I used to do dancing quite regularly but not for 3 years or so, and I have totally lost that flexibility and wiggle.. ok not that I ever had much but I could shimmy ok!  Now I feel stiff and ungainly especially when comparing myself with the sylph-like teacher who was hip-swinging her way through the moves.  And my brain hurt. And my leg hurts. And I'm tired  Hummm I think it's time for a rest from the gym for the rest of this week.

I used to have a good workout routine going: Tuesday and Thursday evenings and something at the weekend, and it was just right.  Then a lot of the staff changed and the timetable changed and I haven't got back into to a new routine yet, so now I end up going more than I really want to, plus I've been trying out different things which is good but I haven't enjoyed them all. So I'm feeling a bit down right now about the whole thing; I must sit down and work out which classes I want to do and settle into a new routine.

I need routine now anyway, because my OU study books have just arrived, whoohoo!  It doesn't start until the beginning of October and the website doesn't open until 27 September but I can start reading. I must decide when and where I am going to do my studying... somehow I managed it with Mr H home from January to May this year but I can't remember how!

The final instructions have just come through for my next hill climb (and last for 2012), it's on the 21st Sept so I'm looking forward to that.  Mr H says he feels as though he should be working on the car! I suggested he went round and checked all the nuts and bolts in the suspension ;)  I'm sure Django will be happy to help him as always....


Before that, however, we have the Goodwood Revival to go to this Sunday. Rosie, bless her, has offered the use of their cottage up the road from Goodwood for Saturday night so we will make a weekend of it.  As this is Mr H's birthday present it will be a nice extra. We're going in the Imp so will be parked in the pre-1971 carpark, and have some suitably 'period' style clothes to wear.

Well it's time for a cup of tea, so goodnight for now,
Jx


Tuesday, 11 September 2012

Today

Today is one of those dates that none of us will forget: 9/11.  A date that will be forever etched in history as one that changed lives and the world as we knew it.

This post is not related to 9/11 as such, except that it is today's date.

For me today is a day for moving on.  The claim arising from the crash has been settled out of court, and that means that I can put all that behind me; no more repeating what happened, what I can and can't do or how I feel about things to solicitors and lawyers. That slate is clean and finished with and it feels quite strange in a way.

Perhaps this is related in my mind, but I have decided that I want to work on coming off the Dihydrocodeine again; this time I have Mr H here with me instead of 450 miles away. I hope I get further with it than before, I would love to be independent of it, and I'm sure my body and mind would like that too.

Also today my new OU course books arrived for 'Crime & Justice'. I had a quick flick through and they look really interesting; I can't wait to get started once the website page is up and running and get my brain working again after the summer break.

So, today is a different sort of memorable day for me.


Thursday, 6 September 2012

AWOL but still here in spirit!

Where have I been?  nowhere, just feeling uninspired to discuss any burning issues... I've also been distracted by going to the fitness studio regularly, and preparing the Imp for my first speed hill climb which is this Saturday (that's motorsport, not hill-walking).

Re the fitness studio, I have been working hard and have managed to shift quite a few centimetres; at the  moment I am going 3-4 times a week usually straight from work, for 30-60 minutes.  It's been great over the summer and I've had quite a few classes alone ie. personal training, while everyone else was taking summer holidays!   It's going to become more of a time-management challenge in a couple of weeks' time when my new package of Open University materials arrive for the new year and I have to fit that in as well....
Talking of which, I have not posted since I got my results for this year, a Grade 1 pass Distinction which I was (of course) over the moon with. I'm feeling all fired up for next year which is Crime and Justice and will be pulling out all the stops!  I'm halfway through my degree now and just starting level 3 so it's going to get a bit harder.

As for the hill climb, I think I'm ready, the Imp is as ready as it's going to be thanks to my untiring mechanic Mr H (yes I have helped him with some stuff as well).  The forecast is dry which is a relief for my first event, since rain makes it a completely different kettle of fish.

I'm hoping that once my studying starts again I will have fingers itching to share my opinions, thoughts and discussions with you... it will be making the time to post that will be the issue!

J.

Tuesday, 14 August 2012

Distraction

Several members of the Cameroon and Congo Olympic teams have gone missing in the UK.

I can't help thinking that the anticipation and knowledge that you have a planned 'disappearance' whilst here for the Games must impact your sporting performance quite considerably?

Thursday, 9 August 2012

Never too old for night terrors?

For the last few nights I've been having those nightmares where I wake up and either don't know where I am, or don't know who the scary person next to me is.  I am glad to say that I am always so relieved to find that it is Mr H and I am overwhelmed by a feeling of being safe and protected because he is with me.

Some nights I just work out what's going on and go back to sleep; other nights I end up sobbing with the release of fear and the emotional mash-up that has been going around my head.

Not being one for dream translation, I am more likely to try and remember what I ate or drank on the evenings before these episodes.  But maybe deep down I am scared of something... I just don't know what.

Monday, 6 August 2012

Mortality

I apologise for this seemingly morbid topic.

At 46 many people might start thinking about dying... I don't mean considering doing it, I mean thinking that they are getting older and that they are mortal, and that we won't be here forever.

Nobody said this to me, but in the newspaper report of our crash I red that my injuries were 'initially thought to be life threatening'.  I thought about this and wondered what it would have been like to die, given that I was so drugged up on morphine there are bits I can't really remember clearly.  I came to the conclusion that I wouldn't really have known about it and that it would have been my family and friends who would have had all the suffering.

I was thinking about it the other day, and realised that although I am scared of getting old and infirm and losing my mental abilities; and of suffering and pain for both myself and my loved ones, I'm not afraid of dying itself. 

It's not that I believe in an afterlife or heaven/hell, I just feel that it will be a long and very peaceful sleep (hopefully not involving strange dreams that involve having to hide the duvet).

Monday, 30 July 2012

What's around the corner?

We went to watch a hillclimb in Devon again on Sunday, at the venue where I will drive for the first time at the beginning of September.

Mr H and I got a ride up the course in the back of someone's car (not at competitve speeds!) and it was so interesting to see how different the road looks from a driver's eye view, as we'd only seen it from a spectator viewpoint.

I think that psychologically my barrier is going to be remembering that there will NOT be a car / person / animal around those blind bends.   In normal driving, one never goes on a road where there is no risk of something lurking out of sight - even a seemingly deserted lane holds that inherent risk. On a main road there could be a bicycle or pedestrian, or a vehicle stopped or broken down (with no red flag waving as a warning to stop).  After the crash of course my psyche is constantly on the lookout.

So I will need to over-ride my natural caution. Maybe having to concentrate on taking the right line and getting the gear changes smooth and in the appropriate place will help?

Here is a lovely picture of our Imp (the car I will be hillclimbing) outside a motor museum in Dorset - "Regular or Super, Sir?"



Tuesday, 17 July 2012

Wait a moment...

This morning I listened to a piece on Radio 4 about a new drug which reduces the liklihood of HIV being passed on (the detail isn't important for this blog post). 

The expert said that ideally the person in the relationship who was HIV+ would take it, and this would not only prevent them passing it on to their partner, but would increase their lifespan as well.   "However," he added, "the partner could take the drug. For instance in the situation where a husband is HIV+, but refuses to talk about it, won't wear a condom and won't take a drug, then the wife could take it to help prevent her contracting HIV."

Whoa, hold on a moment.   The husband cares so little for his wife that he won't even wear a condom to prevent her getting HIV??   

In that 'situation' I think I'd be questionning the whole relationship, not worrying about who takes the drug.

Monday, 16 July 2012

Vicious circle?

Today I was considering the irony (if that is the right word) that at the moment climate change is making the UK much wetter, so those of us that might normally cycle or walk to places are more inclined to use the car.

Which increases emissions.

Which accelerates climate change.

Hmmm.  

Friday, 13 July 2012

Buzzing

Last  year we bought a nucleus of bees, that is a small number of bees from which to build up a full colony.  Sadly after a stressful year and a really bad wasp problem, they died before Christmas. We don't know if it was starvation, or just that they were generally weak, but we were pretty upset about it; especially me as I'd been looking after them while Mr H was living in Scotland.

A nucleus of bees costs around £200 to buy, so we weren't just going to go out and buy another one only for the same thing to happen. We resigned ourselves to hoping we'd get a swarm in the hive we put in a strategic place in the garden,or possibly acquire some a bit cheaper from a local beekeeper. Meanwhile the hive containing a small cluster of dead bees sat in our friends' field over the winter while we kept saying 'we must go and bring that home'.

A few weeks ago we got a call from our friend saying that there was lots of activity around the hive: it appeared that we had a swarm in it from somewhere, brilliant!  They seem pretty strong, and we are feeding them because of the awful British weather at the moment.  Hopefully they will build up to a strong colony before winter hits (and wasp season for that matter).

Then yesterday one of my girl friends got a swarm flying around in her garden, which finally settled in her apple tree. I called Mr H - 'Can you get out of  work to go and get a swarm...?'. Sure thing he could, so we now have a new swarm in the hive in our garden, right next to the vegetable patch!


If everything goes to plan, and these two new colonies survive the winter, maybe we'll even get some honey next year.... or is that tempting fate?

Wednesday, 11 July 2012

Shower thoughts

Thinking in the shower, often a mistake for me.  This evening I was mulling over some of the things said on Monday.

On Monday, Mr H and I drove 3 hours to see my solicitor and a barrister about my case, well worth the trip as the barrister was very nice and explained everything extremely clearly.  It is 2 years since the crash and my physical improvement (ie. discomfort and pain) over the last few months has slowed to a crawl; psychological improvement is better, with the odd relapse. As I have mentioned on here before, I detest spurious personal injury claims, but this one seemed to happen of its own accord after our crash, and it's not spurious in most people's eyes. Therefore however much I shy away from talking about it, I will because this is what I was thinking about - not the fact of there being a claim but some of the details, and the insight into how the legal system works (not having done this before).

Two things came out on Monday that annoyed me in the shower:

1.  The other driver's insurance company hasn't admitted liability yet.  This surprised me, since they have already accepted our claims for uninsured losses and made an interim payment.  So it is just them playing games - but to hear that they haven't admitted liability automatically opens up the possibility that they will suggest it was somehow partly my fault, despite all the evidence showing that it wasn't.  In the weeks after the crash, the grandparents of one of the passengers in the other vehicle put in a claim against my insurance... Mr H and I were gobsmacked - they had to be f*ing joking right?  I guess no-one had told them what actually happened...

2.  The barrister half joked that the law might consider a dog to be a 'chattel' and therefore argue against us claiming for the excess we had to pay on insurance for Django's veterinary bill.  I didn't think about this in the meeting, but how could someone argue that they won't pay up for that, yet not argue in the slightest about the cost of the replacement dog cage or a T-shirt? (chattels in anyone's language). The whole point of uninsured losses is to cover costs that we wouldn't have incurred had we not been hit in a head-on collision. And as for looking at Django as a chattel... well that upsets me a bit.  

Just thinking about the nitty gritty of things, now that we are likely to get to the arguing stages about wear and tear on my lost sunglasses and how much the pain I experience really affects my life, makes me want the whole thing over as soon as possible.

Then hopefully I will feel that I can truly move onwards and upwards.


Tuesday, 3 July 2012

TP 202: Series

For this week's Thematic Photographic, Carmi has chosen a different tack with 'Series', and has started us of with some fantastic shots of his own!

I have chosen this series of photos of me walking across Sandwood Bay in the far north west of Scotland, last week. I love how the footprints become more important than the person who made them... a reflection of life perhaps?






Psychology of City Cats

As the furore over Barclays (and what other banks...?) and the Libor Scandal goes on, with discussions over resignations and the question of appropriate justice, I started thinking about the employees behind it.  To work in the finance arena, I'm presuming that you need to be a sharp, hard-hitting, manipulative type of person who is basically out to make as much money as possible (do correct me if I'm wrong - if you work in the City and are a fluffy type who knits at your desk and eats home-made lasagne every night).

I can imagine such a personality getting obsessed with performance, with working out how to make the bottom line look better (for the company and for themselves); at any cost, or without consideration of the cost...?   Did those who manipulated the figures stop and think for one moment about what would happen if they were caught?  Or do they think that they are above normal humans and untouchable, and 'getting caught' did not enter their minds? Did they even realise that they were doing anything wrong, or do they get so enmeshed in it that they are blind to that.

There is much talk at the moment of how it should be treated, of banks getting away with a large fine, and a few individuals resigning or being fired rather than being treated in the same way as others who commit serious fraud (or other more minor infractions) - ie. prison.


How do the untouchables feel when the axe falls?  Maybe they are losing some sleep now, now that this particular bubble that they were flying on has burst...

Thursday, 28 June 2012

Pushing the limits

I'm just back from the gym and for the first time in 5 weeks I was in tears in a class because I'd overdone it and my hip hurt and I hate that it is still controlling my limits after 2 years.  

It was my own fault.  So far in my gym classes I've been quite wary of anything that *might* hurt, ie. star jumps, running etc. Today for some reason I thought "well I've got to try it sometime" and for a bit it was ok, but then it all went wrong.

I've taken two steps forward over the last month, I guess this was my one step back.. time to back off a bit again.

But if we never push ourselves to our limits, how do we find out what our limits are....?

Wednesday, 27 June 2012

Dreams....

Mr H and I are just back from a fantastic week in the far north west of Scotland, camping at a wee village called Scourie.

Since we got back on Sunday, I've had a couple of bad dreams where I am lying out in the dark on the edge of a hillside, feeling as though I'm going to roll or fall over the edge and getting distressed.

Last night, even though Mr H comforted me and I curled up hugging him, I still felt as though we were out there in the scary dark.  It was only after in my half-sleep I felt something with my feet and eventually worked out it was the blanket box at the end of the bed that I realised I was in our bed.

I think I may need a chink in the curtains tonight....

Monday, 11 June 2012

TP 198: The Natural World

I thought I'd share this photo of a tiny crab on Kata Beach, Phuket, Thailand.  It was about the size of my little finger nail including it's legs, and would pick up a ball of sand from one side of its path, investigate it and then throw it out behind.  I can only assume that it was extracting some kind of food or nutrient from it.

At the sign of a shadow, it would shoot back into its hole, only to reappear when it thought it was safe again.



Job creation

The rich and middle classes don't want the poor or 'difficult' people living in their back yard, so all those poor or 'difficult' people either drift or are placed by the state into areas of social housing, or estates that have existing social problems.  

This tidily keeps them away from the rich and middle-classes, but means that emotions run higher in those 'problem places', often escalating into violence.   At that point the rich and middle-classes frown and say 'somebody should do something', the behaviours of the problem population get criminalised, there is a crack down on Anti Social Behaviour, and the middle classes exclaim that we should 'lock them all up and throw away the key'.

The government tries to shift from state delivered policies to community delivered policies, such as the incentive for local governments to help 'difficult' families escape from unemployment and truancy, as announced on the news this morning.  The community is held responsible for its own well-being and for sorting out its difficult residents, and is tasked with delivering social policies and engaging with their residents, but does anyone really want to get that involved beyond some public meetings and consultations?  Does anyone ask those poor or 'difficult' people or get them involved?  I doubt it, after all what would they know?  

My thought is: are the government and the rich / middle classes actually creating the problem places, which they then try to 'fix' ?  

Maybe it just a huge job-creation scheme for government and local authorities...

Thursday, 7 June 2012

Human nature

So, you are asked to sponsor something, as in a sponsored walk / run / climb / swim / whatever.

I'll bet NONE of you have ever written an amount without first checking what the people before you have put down?   then weighing up everything before deciding on how much you will sponsor.  Obviously if you are the first on the list, then you have to - but probably everyone after you is basing their level upon yours.

Put too little and you look stingy; put a large amount and people will say 'wow!' and make all kinds of assumptions about you from your lifestyle to the size of your car.

Checking what other people think something is worth seems to be human nature, as is feeling the pressure of being compared.

I will test it out tonight... but I know that I'll be looking at the previous amounts on the form before I sign it!

Thursday, 31 May 2012

I am literally going to explode

A friend just posted that she 'literally cannot wait until 1pm tomorrow'.   Hmmm. "Well", I said, "you're literally going to *have* to wait, unless you have a time machine!"

Or am I becoming literally anal?    OK, maybe that's not such a nice thought!




Annual event

We have a 4 day weekend here, Monday and Tuesday are bank holidays.  The publicity says that it's something to do with the Queen's Diamond Jubilee but I know that really it's because of my birthday.   Tomorrow I become nearer 50 than 40... but I feel about 33 (I don't care how much my nephews and nieces, and friends in their 20s, tell me how old I am!)

So, are Mr H and I going out to celebrate?  well yes, we thought we may take fish and chips to the beach if it's dry :-)    I'm really 'over' going out to eat at the moment, and so is he; we don't get as much pleasure out of it as other people seem to, plus we need the money for more important things.

My birthday present from him is fixing up the Imp, he's been working so hard on the engine and now the suspension, that it's worth much more to me than any 'got to get something' present.



Thursday, 24 May 2012

Tuesday, 22 May 2012

Fruit Break

I have invented the Fruit Break.

If others can go and stand outside the office for 5 minutes while they have a cigarette, I decided that I can go and stand outside for 5 minutes while I eat my {apple}  (insert appropriate fruit/snack here).

Plus, staring down the river rather than at my computer screen is good for my eyes....

So, twice a day sounds ok, right?

Tuesday, 15 May 2012

Overheard...

While at the gym this evening I overheard a woman talking to one of the instructors about her three children..

"They're all different, you know?  they each take after their fathers.  They are always arguing about their fathers, you know 'My dad's better than yours' haha!"




Saturday, 12 May 2012

What should I do?

How odd that even though I am a free agent (well, home alone anyway) until tomorrow evening, I feel that I should do things that I will be proud to tell Mr H that I did.   Whereas actually I can do what the hell I like as long as the house looks reasonably presentable by the time he gets home.

How difficult it is to get away from the "should's" of life.   I should revise. I should play my violin (sorely neglected already). I should ... whatever.   Somehow the more rare time alone becomes, the more pressure we have to make the most of it, and the more we spend to much time deciding what we should do to fill it best.

I should.... stop thinking about it and go with the flow!

Wednesday, 9 May 2012

Signed up

I have joined a gym.   But not any old gym, a new and exclusive one in my home town which offers personal service and advice, and plenty of variety in exercise.

I used to go to the local gym at the recreation centre, but lost interest in it, didn't like the TV they showed, and just didn't like the atmosphere there. Others have said the same thing about it, so it's not just me! Anyway when talking about doing more to get fitter and build up my leg strength etc. Mr H suggested going back to the gym. I screwed up my face and said No Way, I Hate It.  Walking, cycling and gardening are fine, but I'm only maintaining myself, not progressing; I need something else.

Then I found that a friend from when I went to dance classes works at a newly opened place in town, so I looked at their website. It sounded good and they mentioned rehabilitation and post-surgery recovery exercise, so I booked in with her for a free consultation and 'tour'.   Well, it's nothing like the big sweaty places most gyms are!  Four small rooms with varying machines, and they are currently building a room which will house dancing, yoga, boxercise etc. - but only for small numbers not the 20+ people who go to the rec.  Or you can just use the equipment on your own between classes.

So I thought "Why Not", it wasn't much more expensive per month and I will get loads of encouragement from people who know my first name (always a bonus).

So, my first visit is on Friday straight from work!

Oh, and they take your measurements as well.... if that isn't an incentive I don't know what is.

Sunday, 6 May 2012

PDAs

Public Displays of Affection - PDAs.  Hmmm!    I was on an airport bus with a male colleague and my boss last year, when a couple right next to us decided to start (if you'll excuse the expression) sucking the faces off each other.   I had to turn my back on them because it made me feel... well, uncomfortable. Is that a British thing?   I suspect it may be.   I just want to say "PLEASE can you not wait until you are alone? is it THAT urgent?"   When we got off the bus I said to my colleague "I give them 6 months".  "Oh", he said, "I was going for 3."   Such is our cynicism!

Over the last few years a new kind of PDA has developed online.  One of my friends keeps getting boyfriends and then mushing over them on Facebook. At one time, about a week after she'd announced her relationship (which then got loads of 'ooh congratulations!' comments from her friends), she'd be sobbing over her break-up.   For goodness sake girl, just keep it offline!   The poor guys probably run a mile when they see all her friends slapping her on the back, it must be like being in a relationship with 20 people.

There are online PDAs that I don't object to of course; even I am guilty of commenting that it is our 23rd anniversary, but I don't start mushing over how much Mr H means to me, that is for people who write to Steve Wright's Sunday Love Songs. I tell him that to his face (yes, shameless I know!).

And it's not just couples, what about all those "I'm so miserable" statuses, or "I'm so useless", or "I love all my friends so much, you are all SO amazing" that then provoke an outpouring of loveliness from everybody.    Now, I realise that there have been cases where seriously depressed people have probably had their lives saved by uplifting and encouraging comments from their friends in times of dire need, and I am not denigrating that.   But I know most of my facebook friends enough to know they are not about commit suicide (.....or do I?).  They have friends that instead of picking up the phone or going to round to see them or take them out to the pub, or for a walk, or even sending a private message, they write my pet hate comment: "Awwwww, are you alright hun? xxxxxxx"   CLEARLY NOT!!!!   "You are the strongest person I know xxxxxxxxxxxxx"  again, CLEARLY NOT!!

Maybe I am just someone who prefers to keep my emotional needs on a more private platform.   I exchange private messages with particular friends, or talk to them person to person.

And of course, all those comments that I hate?  I don't have to read them, do I?





Tuesday, 1 May 2012

TP 194: Strong Lines

Whenever I see the word 'lines', I immediately think of boats, since when we see a design we say "what beautiful lines" (or not as the case may be!). 

Boats consist of so many lines when you start looking at them, in the hull, the rig and the sails.


I also liked the photo below, how the man-made lines of the hotel mix with the natural verticals of the palm trees..

(Kata Beach Resort, Phuket)

Thursday, 26 April 2012

TP 193: Faith

What an appropriate theme from Carmi this week....

When I was hopping around for 6 months, missing even walking the dog, I always had faith that I would once again stand on a summit... maybe not the highest in the world but this was a good start - and the first of many more!

There is nothing like having something taken away from you to make you realise that the effort really IS worth it.


Juniper at 2630 feet.



Wednesday, 25 April 2012

Mind over matter

On Monday we hiked up The Old Man of Coniston at 801m (about 2670 feet), 7 1/2 miles - my first proper hike after the broken leg, it felt great to be looking *down* on those sun dappled fells again.

Walked another 8 miles today.

Ok yes it's aching a bit now BUT I don't care!

:-)




Wednesday, 18 April 2012

Changing places

I am moving.

No, not house. Just a relocation within the same office.

At the moment I sit in the main 'technical' office which I manage, with the other two girls.  I feel like one of the girls while actually I am supposed to be their boss, sometimes I want some peace and quiet and a bit of distance from the chatter; and from being too buddy-buddy with people who I sometimes need to pull rank on.

It so happens that the third technical team girl is about to return from maternity leave, and previously used a rather temporary feeling office next to my boss's.  It is temporary feeling because it also houses the photocopier/printer plus various office junk.   I decided that this would be a good place for me to be, because it is next to the boss so he can discuss things with me without disturbing everyone else, and I will be next to but not amongst my team. Plus the girl returning will be part of the group rather than stuck out on her own.  It is open plan-ish so I will still hear everything that is going on, but won't sit getting annoyed by people's personal habits that I have in my line of sight!

So, today I started dismantling my stuff.  Given that I've been there 27 years, and I've had the same desk (in various locations) all that time, this took a while. I can't take the desk with me, it will be rather sad to leave it, how silly to be attached to a piece of office furniture? Tomorrow we will move the photocopier to the other end of the office which will the space twice as big, and the paraphanalia.

I thought that the girl who sits next to me might be put out by my wanting to move and take it personally, but everyone seemed to agree that it was a good idea... plus she gets my desk next to the window with the best view (I now get to look out over the dinghy park!).

I'm hoping I won't regret it, but at least I will have my proper own space for the first time, ever?

Wednesday, 11 April 2012

TP 191: Single people


The Beekeeper lights his smoker ready for hive inspection in the evening light.


Progress...

Carina's comment on my post from a year ago made me think about just how much things have moved on since April 2011.

Mr H has been through various forestry interviews and possible new houses/flats to move to, and then ended up moving home so actually it was a good thing none of them were successful. Although it didn't feel it at the time when he turned down a really nice house just in case he got the job in a different district!  And his new job is brilliant... will it last? who knows, but as he said tonight "we'll make hay while the sun shines".   If it goes belly up in a year's time, none of this will have been wasted, just like the forestry time hasn't been wasted.  I know that our parallel life, if Mr H hadn't said about 5 years ago 'I want to go to college and learn forestry and give up upholstery', would not have been nearly as rewarding as our life is now.

***
In the last couple of weeks I have gone on a normality spree. Maybe it was the orthopaedic expert looking at me as if I was making up the pain in my leg, or maybe it was talking boats and sailing with a friend (that sounds odd, given that I talk boats all day, but this was related to pleasure not work!), but I seem to have switched gears.

Mr H and I having taken out the Heron dinghy three or so weeks ago, on Easter Sunday I took the Topaz 'Purpletrator' out:

It wasn't as comfortable, as there was very little wind so I spent most of the half hour scrunched up in the bottom of the boat, and hurting when I had to move!  But, I went out and survived and will go out again this weekend.   

I also spent an evening on Friday with a bunch of old sailing friends who were doing a regatta in Cowes, and felt rather envious of them because I wished that it was me going out on the water with them the next day. That is the first time really that I've missed sailing with them, it's the camaraderie and fun of being part of a crew as much as the sailing itself.  I think that I should aim to be out yachting in 2013!

Today I put myself back on the sailing club duty roster, although with some conditions.  So I'm back on the roster for driving a safety boat (but with a crew who is also qualified to drive so we can swap places), but staying off tractor driving duty for now (for launching the safety RIBs). Mainly because doing both involves a lot of running around by the time I have launched and recovered three boats. And I've said that I'll train as an assistant race officer as long as it's ashore, since doing it on the races that start out in the Solent involves clambering on and off an old lifeboat to/from a RIB, probably in a bit of sea - it's rare that the Solent is flat! 

There is a training day for race officers and assistants at the end of May, but I'll miss it as I have an OU tutorial that day; but the sailing secretary and I agreed that since I know all the basics he's just going to throw me in the deep end, so that will be fun.

Oh and last on my list (but certainly not least) for this month of getting back to normal is going to be a week in the Lake District, hill walking and cycling amongst other things. That will be really interesting to see how much the beautiful view distracts me from how much things hurt!   

And now I must get on with some studying, I have a review to write of 'Protecting Scotland's Communities - Fair, Fast and Flexible Justice', which my tutor said was very boring, but naturally I found it interesting because I'm strange like that...

Tuesday, 10 April 2012

Holding...

Well, Easter long weekend came and went.... Sunday was also the 23rd Wedding Anniversary for me and Mr H, so we almost forgot that it was Easter.

Now back to work and thinking about plans for the rest of April which include a wedding, a holiday and an essay.

Will be back with something more soon!

Monday, 2 April 2012

Decisions, Decisions!

My current choice of things to read:

New Scientist
Persepolis
Lonely Planet guide to the Lakes District
Understanding Children & Young People 5-18 years
Protecting Scotland's Communities (Fair, Fast & Flexible Justice)
Homes & Antiques
The Quran
DD208 Book 3 Chapter 6
BBC History magazine

(most of the above I have already started!)

Hmm not much Chick Lit amongst that lot!

Or I could start something new like 'Attention All Shipping: A journey around the shipping forecast' or the other books waiting for me upstairs.... but no I need to finish what I've started first or I won't be able to move for half read books / magazines!

I think I have an addiction to the written word..... is there a group for that?

Sunday, 1 April 2012

Thematic Photographic 189 'Branded'

Apologies to Carmi that it's quite a while since I participated in Thematic Photographic, for various reasons - mainly that of being out of serious blogger mode!

But here is a just-in-time offering for this week's TP189 'Branded'.

Mr H and I were talking about the fact that branding need not be a name, it could just be a shape like a Coke bottle.  In the absence of a Coke bottle to demonstrate, another image came to mind:

Thursday, 29 March 2012

Almost the weekend

Mr H and I are planning to go sailing in our new dinghy at the weekend.  Well when I say new, it's 1966 (the same age as us!) but we've not sailed it since we bought it in November.


Last night we did a dinghy swap, which involved bringing 'Nutshell' the Firefly home from the sailing club dinghy park, and taking 'Bluebird' the Heron down to put in it's place. That took us a couple of hours and afterwards we treated ourselves do a meal in the pub, something we never do on our own!

Going back to the dinghies, I also have a modern single-hander down there (the 'Purpletrator'), and the club have been good at allowing them to stay there for the last couple of years even though they've not been used. Normally to keep your space in the dinghy park you have to use the boat at least 5 times between April and September.

So, fingers crossed for weather and wind (enough but not too much please) on Saturday, and also that nothing untoward happens to put me off. Who knows, maybe this will be the year for getting back on the water...?

Monday, 26 March 2012

Responsibilities

I drove up to Cheshire on Friday evening to stay with some friends, a four and a half hour drive from here. It was the furthest I have driven since the crash, without a back-up driver sitting next to me. In my previous life that would have been a no-problem trip; both I and Mr H are used to driving long distances, to Scotland etc.

This time, although I got there fine I really noticed a) how much more tired I got and b) once it got dark how worried I was that I wasn't at peak concentration. The motorway felt like a scary place but for me it was myself that was the risk, not others.

I have become very aware of the responsibilities involved in being on the road - the car and me both being in condition above reproach.  That sounds like something that goes without saying, but for most people I'm sure it doesn't prey on their minds.  It must come from all the questions I was asked after the crash even though I had done nothing wrong. I had blood taken and the van was examined for defects, and I was questioned about all sorts of things; I got the feeling that if I'd been driving in high heels that might have come up at some point.

So now I really think about what I could be held responsible for IF anything were to happen.  So when I don't feel 100%, I'm really not comfortable about it...

But still, I had a great weekend!
 

Thursday, 22 March 2012

Strictly....

No I'm not talking about dancing (for those of you in the UK).

This evening I am doing a mock exam question, which is part of my Open University assessment.  It's only worth 5% of the overall mark but is good practice, plus it's made me start my revision in good time!

So, Mr H is going to take Django out for a walk so I have an hour's piece to answer the question 'under exam conditions'.

Hmm, I suppose that means I can't have a cup of tea on the go while I'm writing?

Monday, 19 March 2012

Spring has sprung

Instructions on potatoes:  "Plant when the risk of frost is past".  Yes well that could be the end of April!!

Planted them yesterday, frost last night.  Oh well what the heck they'll be fine.

I also cleared out the greenhouse, which is only 6 x 4 and had become a repository for all sorts of stuff over the last two years.  So I have the staging back in a useable state, and a wee tomato plant in there now.

Spring is here!

Friday, 16 March 2012

Letters

I wrote a letter to Mr H the other day.

We have both had rubbish weeks, and things were feeling wrong. I needed to talk to him but whenever I try I just get upset. So I wrote to him instead. I miss writing to him.

In the UK, it is proposed to increase the price of stamps by a huge amount, 50% or so. I heard a man from the Post Office say that "Letters are only written by people who can't use e-mail".  What rot! I shouted at the radio (or words to that effect). 

I didn't post the letter to Mr H though, I left it on the bed.

Thursday, 15 March 2012

Chickens and eggs

I read a research article the other day about pain in the proximal thigh following femur IM nailling (ie. what I've got).  It was quite interesting although it was related to 1991-1993 surgeries so possibly things are done differently now.

Anyway, in amongst the research paper it mentioned that a) where litigation is involved the patients experienced more pain and b) when the litigation is settled the pain diminshes.

Well, that sound reasonable I thought. Where litigation is involved and it depends to some extent on how much one is suffering, and you have a constant reminder of it with contact from the solicitor etc., it is bound to have an effect on how much you think about the pain.

Then I thought, but if the litigation continues as long as there is substantial pain, but reduces when it is settled, surely this is a chicken and egg situation?   It still hurts substantially so the litigation drags on...?

The other thing the article took into account was whether the patients had had the IM nail removed because of pain or 'irritation'.  I really don't want to go through another surgery, and if they suggest it then it's going to be a difficult decision to make. Oh well, I'll cross that bridge if and when I come to it.

In the meantime, every time I think "Oh *** it hurts today!"  I will psychoanalyse myself ;-)

Wednesday, 14 March 2012

Going doo-lally

I was just thinking how easy it would be to persuade someone that they are going mad / senile even if they weren't.  I'm sure it's the sort of thing that awful people in novels or films do to their parents in order to get their hands on the dosh. Such an easy way to mentally torture somebody by sewing seeds of doubt in their mind.

Mr H and I sometimes have disagreements about what we have told each other, or accuse each other of remembering something wrongly.  We are both convinced that we are remembering correctly, although it cannot possibly be the case (and it's not in writing so neither of us can prove it). 

Right now I am hesitating about passing on some casual news in case he says "I told you all about that the other week, don't you listen to a word I say?"  I'm wracking my brain in advance and I don't recall knowing anything about it... aaggghh I'll just have to risk it! ;-)

Friday, 9 March 2012

After effects

One of the things the psychologist definitely got right about me was my sense of vulnerability since the crash, both on behalf of myself and others. 

Life is threatening. Anything could happen, from anywhere, without warning. People's behaviour isn't to be trusted.  I'm not talking about meteorites hitting earth but physical vulnerability in every day situations.

When I am driving, or when I cycle or walk towork, I am so much more wary of what cars / cyclists / pedestrians may do. It may be something that would affect me, or the thought of seeing a crash happen to someone else. People driving fast (too fast in my mind), or overtaking in a bad place, set my heart a-thumping. The other day I saw someone playing with their dog by the road, it kept running out in the road and back again. I wanted to shout at her, and my nervous reaction shocked me.

Mr H can tell you that my reaction if I think he is driving too fast or close, or taking (what I think of as) risks is that of a nervous wreck. 

Yet when I'm driving, or in control of a situation, or feeling relaxed, I can forget about it.  Until that car in front decides to overtake on a blind bend, nooooooo!

Thursday, 8 March 2012

Can't - Can

Yesterday we got an invitation in the office to go sailing on Mariquita in May   I jumped at the chance and e-mailed the skipper to say yes please, my colleague and I would love to come.

Last night I got an attack of the nerves thinking 'I can't' and this morning I was thinking 'maybe I shouldn't', 'what if it's windy?'

But by the time I got to work I had decided that I can.

Tuesday, 6 March 2012

I didn't go swimming

I was going to go swimming tonight... ok step back a bit, I would normally have gone to aquaerobics last night, but last Monday I must have pulled something because the middle of my thigh where the lumpy bone is has been painful since then, more than usual I mean.  When I took my sock off the other night I'm sure it made a strange crunching noise inside there...!   The problem, or at least the thing (as it's not really a problem) with any class such as aquaerobics is that if I go then I put all my effort into it.  There is no option of 'going but taking it easy', I can't do that.

So I thought I'd go ordinary swimming tonight, but then I cycled to work (twice) and walked Django after work, so I'd had some exercise and decided that I'd do some sketching instead (while Mr H is outside welding the Mole).

So here is what I sketched:

blind contour drawing of my fiddle

normal sketch

more blind contour of the fiddle, and the end of a broken bow

blind contour of some large sewing scissors - man this was difficult.  I tried starting them in different places but it didn't help much!

(Sorry the photo quality isn't brilliant, will use a better camera next time)

I'm a winner!

I have just won an original of one of Carol's super drawings, to be precise I caught this one !

To be in her monthly draw to win one, just follow her art blog (of course, it's well worth following without that extra incentive!).  I highly recommend that you go and take a look.

She inspires me to have a go at stuff, and reminds me that it doesn't have to be big or complicated (although some of hers are complicated)... I just need to put some action behind that inspiration!

Monday, 5 March 2012

Perspective

Mr H's (and my) 17 year old niece, who lost her mother to cancer aged 48 a couple of years ago, recently dumped her boyfriend "because he is horrible to his mother. I can't be with someone who doesn't treat his mother well".

My mother often drives me to distraction. She imagines conversations, she dwells on things (real or imagined) for weeks, she says 'I can't' when she can.  I know it's not her fault that the neurons are aging, but sometimes I dread her phoning, having imagined I said or promised something, or to ask me about a thought that's been worrying her. Some days she's got her old spark back and is on the up, others she's lost and vulnerable, and I find it sad and difficult.

Our niece is amazing; she is strong, beautiful and funny (just like her mother), she and her brother are a real inspiration. 

When I'm struggling with my parents getting older, feeling impatient with Mum and worrying about what's going to happen in the future, I have to remind myself that others wish with all their hearts that they had both parents to worry about...


Sunday, 4 March 2012

Fiddle-de-dee

I just made some stuff up on my fiddle.

I can't really read music any more. Well I can... slowly.. and painfully.. so that what comes out sounds awful.

But I do have a good ear, so making up Celtic-type fiddle-y tunes suits me just fine.  

I guess I won't be playing The Arrival of the Queen of Sheba again any time soon...

Saturday, 3 March 2012

Past and Future

I made this rug for Mr H well before we were married so it's getting on for 25 years old. The two things that defined him for me were his music and his old car(s).  The rug went with him to Scotland, and it is now beside his bed back at home.


When I looked at it today, while he was outside working on the Mole, it occurred to me that we have gone full circle.   Not that I am making rugs for him again, but that we have re-discovered an enthusiasm for old cars (I know that this is in no small part helped by his new job surrounded by classic cars and enthusiasts!).  

Twenty years ago when we lived classic cars, things were different. The roads were a lot quieter, parts were easier to come by whereas now the local motorist shop doesn't know what you're talking about. Additives or new engine parts are needed to run on modern fuels.   

Also, we are older, wiser and more mortal. Driving a small, 44 year old car regularly is going to take a bit of getting used to, especially for me; it will take a while for me to beat the feeling of vulnerability. 

It made me smile today though, and I vacuumed the rug and it still looks good as new,




Friday, 2 March 2012

Blogging and The Mole

Mr H and I were discussing blogging last night, and how one has to be consistent to get a consistent readership and responses.

When I started it properly in 2010, when I had a lot of time on my hands, that was no problem. Lots to say, lots of time to say it.  Now that I'm back at work, studying and have Mr H home to distract me, I don't find it so easy.

I often think of things to blog about while I'm walking or cycling home, but have forgotten it by the time I get my computer out (yes, yes a sign of old age!).  Or nothing interesting enters my head... that's probably not true but it isn't things I can put into words.  I did decide to make more of an effort though, and if it's not intensely thought provoking or amusing then so be it ;-)

***

We just got the Hillman Imp Super (the Mole) back from hospital, with new head gasket, starter motor, thermostat and a few other bits and pieces.  The MOT runs out today so Mr H went to work in it before we have to settle down to sort out the bits that need fixing. I had to smile as I watched their diminutive form trundling off up the road!


Thursday, 1 March 2012

We're more important than you

Whenever there is news of an air crash, or something happening on a cruise ship, or any other terrible disaster, the News will report that "there were 5 Britons aboard" or "on which there were no Britons".  

Who cares?

People are people.

People died or suffered in some way.  Why should it matter whether they were British or not?  (and let's not get into the discussion about what constitutes 'British' or we'll be here all night).

It's as if the British press think that the world consists of Important British People and Everyone Else (of lesser importance).  Are we supposed to feel more sorry if Britons were killed?  or think "Oh, that's ok then" if none were?

Do other countries do the same or is it us?

Tuesday, 21 February 2012

Fiddlin'

It's official, my fiddle is definitely a fiddle and not a violin:  I showed it a sonata and it said 'nah'.  Then I introduced it to Alison Krauss and it said 'oh yes!'.

Tuesday, 14 February 2012

Control freak?

I look at my colleague's desk next to mine, and how she is pinned in by piles of old paper, mugs, files, various office staplers etc., nail polish remover (!), boxes of... not sure what, and generally just STUFF.  I can't understand how it doesn' drive her nuts working in that environment (I have another colleague who is even worse, but I don't have to see it for 8 hours a day so I will leave that one out of it, for now).



I want to pick up the largest pile of paper, most of which probably hasn't been relevant for about a year, and go through it and chuck most of it out.


Now Mr H will say that I am not the tidiest person in the world, but I do fairly regularly go through stuff on the table and either file it or chuck it, and my office desk is really tidy as we don't produce much paperwork in here these days.

So now my colleague has left work early, and my fingers are ITCHING to clear up her desk (actually to put the entire contents in the bin, if I'm honest). 

What does that say about me, psychologists!?  (or them, for that matter)

Saturday, 4 February 2012

Bad business acumen

I bought a violin last week.  It kind of came upon me all of a sudden like.

I used to play the violin when I was a teenager, I don't remember enjoying it much but was evidently good enough to pass Grade 6.  I never had the natural flair that my brother had with music though so didn't carry on; and my niece (who has inherited her father's natural flair) inherited my grandmother's violin from me.

I can't remember why now, but recently I suddenly decided that I wanted to play fiddle (rather than classical violin) so borrowed a friend's violin.  It hadn't been played for 25 years and was in dire need of new strings, and wasn't a particularly good instrument (she didn't risk her best one on me!).  But I found that the sound I made was not as awful as I thought, and ended up bidding for and winning an old violin on eBay.

When it arrived, it turned out to be 3/4 sized.  Oh....  First I thought I'd send it back but then it looked up at me and pleaded to be kept and loved.  Things tend to do that to me and Mr H, it's a nuisance but we can't help it.  So, having decided that I'd still be able to play it, and negotiated a partial refund on the price because it was advertised as full size, I decided to take it to a local violin lady to look at, because it looked to me as though the bridge and strings were set up wrong.

Mine is the one on the right

She is an esteemed expert in her field (according the website), but when we met her she was the most inconsiderate, uncaring person, and seemed to be only just holding herself back from being downright rude. She didn't listen to what I said about why I had a 3/4 size instrument instead of a full size one.  She then quoted me a ridiculous price for sorting it out but obviously didn't think it was worth it, she was the sort of person who would completely put me off trying to play. Mr H and I both took an instant dislike to her and we were there about 5 minutes before leaving with a polite "I'll think about it", knowing very well we wouldn't be back.

Mr H then suggested asking the chap who he sometimes goes to for guitars and associated bits and pieces.  "Oh yes," he said, "I can sort that out for you no problem."  No tut-tutting that it was too small for me or looking at me as if I couldn't possibly have ever played the violin.  We discussed what was needed and how much it would be, I left it with him and I should have it back next week (I'd better warn the neighbours....).

Sometimes being a long-time 'expert' doesn't get you the business, however superior you believe yourself to be.  If you piss off the customer, your credentials don't matter a bit!

Sunday, 29 January 2012

Different shoes

Having raided the social science section at the library, I am reading a book called "Dis/connected. Why our kids are turning their backs one everything we thought we knew" by Nick Barham .

The author travels around talking to teens and trying to find out 'what makes them tick', have a look at the reviews in the link above for more description.

One of the things that I noticed reading it was my reaction to some of the activities described in the book, such as groups of 150 souped up cars gathering in a public car park with music blaring, or large groups of teens hanging around with Death message t-shirts on, drinking Vodka RedBulls.  He talks about how some city centres have become no-go areas at night, and I'm thinking 'too bloody right, I don't want to be beaten up or vomited on thanks!'.

I realised how ingrained my middle-class-ness is by my automatic response, namely that many of the described situations would make me anxious or disapproving.  At some points I felt anger towards the author for generalisations and suggesting that kids behaviour should never be threatening, when clearly sometimes it is. Then again, is that me jumping to my own defense, because does he actually suggest that?   The book doesn't suggest everything these kids do is fine, and that we should all accept their behaviours as unproblematic, but it is trying to explain the reasoning behind it and does a good job of that.

Maybe it's not just that some of us have inbuilt prejudices caused by a) our upbringing and b) the media, though this is undoubtedly the case.  Maybe some of it is fear of people who enjoy themselves in a different way to us, who get a kick out of doing things that are illegal (or borderline legal), who make people like me seem 'boring'.

Recently I seem to keep reminding myself of that phrase about "walking a mile in another man's* shoes", I guess we should all try to do that when we start judging others on their behaviours or attitudes, it's a good start at least.  


*I refuse to change it to "person's" for the sake of political correctness!

Friday, 27 January 2012

Justice, or is it..?

I bought a Telegraph newspaper to read the other day, first time for ages as I normally hear the news on the radio.  I don't know whether it's the paper or me that has changed, but I found myself ranting at it over the headlines and the way the stories (are news items 'stories' or 'fact'!?) were written.

One such item was saying that the public (whoever they are) think that offenders who do community service get an easy ride. The paper did at least stop short of adding "....they should lock them up and throw away the key" - I guess that is more The Sun or Daily Mail style.  

I personally think that for minor offences, community service is a much better method than imprisonment.

1. the person puts something back into their community which they have damaged in whatever way.
2. they don't get locked up with hardened criminals and come out of prison worse than they went in.
3. it could be the step they need out their previous life, who knows.
4. they pay for the offence in work and the 'shame' of everyone knowing why they are there.

taken from the above linked article

Coincidently, I then went on to read an article for my OU course on Restorative Justice.  That is, when instead of going to court, the offender and the victim meet and agree between them (with a facilitator) what steps can be taken to repair the harm or damage the offender has done.  In some countries this method is used for crimes up to and including violent / sexual crimes, whilst in others it is limited to minor offences.

Yes I know that exclusion from society is a standard punishment, but with prisons full to bursting and the costs of keeping prisoners spiralling, I cannot see why 'the public' (many of whom are also 'the taxpayer' who pays for the prisons), can't see that in some cases an alternative method might be preferable.  Part of the idea of Restorative Justice is the shaming of the person's behaviour, within the community, and this is considered more likely to reduce re-offending than a prison sentence.

Maybe I just don't always think the same was as 'the public'...



 

Wednesday, 18 January 2012

What are the chances?

So, my husband starts the first job of his new forestry career two months after our car crash and moves to Scotland; 16 months later he has another career change and moves home.

And then finds that one of his new colleagues, who is a reserve fireman, was one of the ones that cut me out of the van after the crash 18 months ago.

What are the chances of that?

And yes, I felt rather odd when Mr H told me today.  It brought it all back as if it were yesterday.

On a more positive note, hey maybe I will get to meet one of my hunky fireman rescuers after all!

Tuesday, 10 January 2012

Water splashing

The term "Aquaerobics" has always prompted the vision of middle-aged, overweight women, floundering around in the pool while Mr H and I pounded in the gym upstairs.  Poor, sad women who couldn't do real exercise, losers huh?

Well not any more.

I don't like the gym any more - it doesn't help that the local one is a miserable little box which is always too crowded (I'm not going to start driving 5 miles to a larger gym when there is one within walking distance).  All it shows on TV is Beyonce strutting her booty, or some X-factor band I've never heard of.  I know a lot of women hate going to the gym because they are body-conscious compared with the seasoned pros that go, but that has never bothered me - I'm happy looking like a woman!  No, I just got bored with  it.

So, having decided that I need more exercise, last night I went to aquaerobics.  It was full of middle-aged, overweight women which probably now includes me, and one man.  So much for no exercise, it was hard work with an enthusiastic instructor urging us to go faster, while not taking into account the water working against us!   I really threw myself into it knowing that I wasn't going to damage my leg or get sweaty, not with water splashing over me from my own and my neighbours flailing arms...

I came out of the pool with that slightly weak feeling of post-exertion, but with a smile on my face.

If that makes me a loser, then so be it!

Wednesday, 4 January 2012

Strutting my stuff .. or not!

Hmmm, it's now 18 months since That Crash, and maybe some of you are interested in how The Leg is....

So the simple answer is that it is still aching quite a lot, sometimes twinges in my hip, still tender to impact on the outer side.  I don't limp unless it's a particularly bad day, but sometimes I often feel as though I'm walking laboriously - no sexy hip-swinging down the street!


I'm still planning to get out in the dinghy when Spring comes (I have bought a new, less twitchy one!), and probably get back on sailing club safety boat duty. It's time to tell it who's boss while not doing anything stupid.  

The solicitor's file must be getting pretty thick, and she says one of the problems with the assessment is my age....  The problem is that I'm too young!  No-one knows how long it's going to take until I'm doing long distance walking with 15kg packs again, or what the possible side-effects will be as I get older.

I read an article about how humans have a bias towards thinking positively, and life having a 'silver lining'.  Guilty as charged as far as the last 18 months are concerned, as you'll know from my various posts.

Onwards and upwards towards that sexy walk!