Friday, 31 October 2008

Two Books that have prompted me to changes

I suppose that it is rare that a book changes your life. It is more likely that you were ready for the change and the book just gave you a little push. In the last two weeks, I have had two pushes from books I have read. In a way the two books are similar. The first I discovered at Othona during our 5 day visit this week. I was in the library trying to avoid writing, when my attention was caught by Finding Sanctuary: monastic steps for everyday life by Abbot Christopher Jamison. A few years ago there was TV series in the UK which followed 5 men who entered Worth Abbey for 40 days and 40 nights of living the monastic life. I never watched it but I heard good things about it and I have always been interested to know more. Worth Abbey is Benedictine and about three years ago I followed a bible study book about the rule of St. Benedict. So, I imagine that I was predisposed to be interested in this book. I won't go into the details today of how it affected me but I will say that it has given me pause to reflect on the stresses of life and how to obtain real sanctuary from them.
The second book is called 'The Four Hour Work Week' by Timothy Ferriss. If you had the chance to look at the YouTube video of the interview with a banker (from the Southbank Show) in a previous post, you might also have followed the link to the blog where I found it. Timothy Ferriss is the author of this blog which I initially looked at because he had some interesting things to say about learning language. As it turns out, he has interesting things to say about a lot of other subjects as well.
What do these two books have in common for me? Ah well, more of that tomorrow!

Thursday, 23 October 2008

The Credit Crunch

I found a very interesting blog today while looking for information on deconstructing language to help students have a better understanding of how a language works. It's called and on it I discovered this video about the credit crunch. It's interesting that this skit from the Southbank Show should have been recorded over 6 months ago! Funny and worrying at the same time!

Sunday, 19 October 2008

To a baby shower and back

It's heartening to know that in our increasingly anti-child world of the United Kingdom, women continue to gather together to give each other support at one of the most wondrous but equally anxiety creating moments of our lives. I've just come home from Wales where I went to shower for Naomi (our oldest daughter who is about to have a baby). I don't think showers are all that common in this country (or in Wales either) but as with other things North American they are increasing in popularity.

A year ago I might have said that a 'shower' had out lived its origins in the wilderness, pioneer days of the United States and Canada. The west has become so materially wealthy that you might think twice about passing on used baby clothes, equipment or toys. In fact, a friend of mine and his partner had twins about two years ago. When she was given second hand toys, she sent them to Oxfam. In the present economic climate, that might not have happened. People are again seeing the value in sharing, re-using and making do. I don't know whether nor not people will see this as a positive thing or just as a blip in life. However, there will be those who realize the importance of reducing our impact on the world. We don't need to be greedy. Happiness only comes from possessions when our lives are otherwise empty. That doesn't mean that we should live totally without in order to find fulfillment but we can find a sustainable balance.

How off track I have gone from the shower! It was fun to be there with several new mothers, three who might one day become mothers and three who were now grandmothers (or about to I don't know if 'fun' is the right word but it will do for now. We shared food, played a few games (part of the bonding process, I suppose) and talked about having babies through the ages! Naomi now has some tips, which she will probably forget and have to be reminded of later, and some lovely presents. She is also probably beginning to realize that for the next little while, the baby will be the star attraction in her life.

Thursday, 16 October 2008

Some things are hard to give up!

I don't eat biscuits anymore. Actually, I didn't eat that many before but it was nice to have one of an evening with a cup of tea! Last night I came home from work and made myself a cup of tea. I was suddenly overcome by the overwhelming desire to have a biscuit. I thought, why not have one? It would just be one and I have been a very good girl! No, stop, I thought, as I started to open the package. You're not even hungry! And think what you'd be putting into your body! Do you really want to do this. Well, actually I did but I also realized that what I missed most about biscuits was their flavour! Perhaps, I thought, you could just smell one of the biscuits and then lick it. Disgusted with myself, I put the package back in the cupboard, took my tea in hand and left that evil place. Sigh!

Wednesday, 15 October 2008

42 Days: What can you do in 6 weeks!

In the UK, the government has been trying to bring in a new law that allows the police to hold people up to 42 days without charge. This law is meant to target 'terrorists' but one of the fears is that it could be used in other situations. Furthermore, how easy it would be to say that someone is a terrorist and abuse the legislation. Already Gordon Brown has shown that he is willing to do so, by using a law meant to target terrorists, to seize Icelandic property when one of their banks failed and affected many UK investors.

Philip Pullman, a well-known British writer, wrote a piece in the Guardian yesterday asking why 42 days. Why does it take the police so long to question someone and build a case?

If Mozart can write three symphonies in 42 days, why are the police so slow?

Why 42 days? What they mean is six weeks, of course. Six weeks! Six weeks in prison without being charged! Anything could happen in six weeks. Wars have lasted less than six weeks. In six weeks, Christopher Columbus crossed the Atlantic and discovered the New World. Six weeks was enough time for Mozart to write three of his greatest symphonies. William Faulkner took six whole weeks to write his novel As I Lay Dying; John le Carré wrote The Spy Who Came In From the Cold in five. In six weeks, on average, each of the 2,710 Liberty ships were built in the United States during the second world war to supplement the Allied merchant fleets. Robert Louis Stevenson took three days to write Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde, but six weeks to revise and polish it. In six weeks the Wright brothers' mechanic, Charlie Taylor, built from scratch the light and powerful engine that powered their first flight. In one month in 1819 the poet Keats wrote his Ode to a Nightingale, Ode on a Grecian Urn, Ode on Melancholy, and Ode on Indolence.
(by Philip Pullman, Guardian October 14, 2008)

If you would like to read the rest, just follow this link:

Are you as amazed as I am that so much has been accomplished by some people in just 42 days? It makes me wonder what I could do, if I set my mind to it. How much time we obviously waste! Could I finish my novel in the next 6 weeks? I think that I could. Do I want to do whatever it would take to do so? I'm not sure. How interesting though to set a period of time in which to get something done and strive to reach that goal. I'm sure that none of the above set out to take a particular period of time to do what they did. I'm going to have to consider this. I'll get back to you.

Saturday, 11 October 2008

An Update

I thought that perhaps I should let you know what has been happening with me since I last wrote. Last week, I really felt my life getting out of control and Friday the third, I gave myself a good talking to and now things are much better. I have sorted out my diet. Well, at least I think I have! And now that I don't have to take my blood sugar level every day, I'm calmer when things go wrong. Initially, I couldn't get enough blood out of my fingers to test and was pricking myself 4 or 5 times and getting quite panicky. Once the doctor decided that I only had to do it a few times before my next appointment, I found I was able to do the test with less difficulty.

Wednesday, 1 October 2008


I forgot to mention yesterday that I went to the dentist and it was suggested that if I didn't massage my gums more thoroughly with my tooth brush, my teeth would fall out.

I'm considering heading north, finding an ice flow and drifting off into the arctic night.

Well, probably not! It's my birthday this weekend and I'm hoping for great presents (so no pressure family members when you read this). I also have a few books that I want to read and I just bought Michel Thomas's Italian course so unless I take my I-pod with me, the ice flow is out for the time being.