Archive for August, 2008

Feeling vincible

Have you ever had one of those days when you wake up feeling invincible? On top of the world? The sun is shining – and you feel strong and beautiful – as if everything is going your way…

Well, yesterday was not one of those days.

It all started unravelling on Friday, when I knew that I was coming down with the same bug that had felled the family earlier on in the week. A fire in the throat, enormous glands and a band of cockroaches in my head playing the steel drums.

Come yesterday morning, the cockroach band was playing havoc in my head and stomach, so there was only one thing for it. A frantic dash to be sick in the toilet.

It’s hard to feel invincible with your head stuck down a toilet bowl. In fact, it makes you feel very vincible (if that is now the opposite of invincible).

Today I have woken up feeling weak, hungry and very dehydrated. But I do not need to commune face to face with the toilet bowl. And that pesky band of cockroaches has disappeared.

So, adieu – porcelain tormentor!

Until next time!

By the way, I hope you guys are having a better weekend than I am!


Thought of the day

If you want to turn your thoughts into clouds, then go to: Wordle!


Tantrum your way through work!

A few weeks ago, a friend of mine wrote a post (in Swedish) about her child tantruming, and she wondered what would happen if she went round acting like a six-year-old in her daily life.

Mmm… I thought. Now that would be something worth trying out at work!

This was before I got going with my own blog. I intended to start a blog and then write about this badical new method that I dub “Doing business the six-year-old way”. I got going with the blog, but then got sidetracked by all sorts of subjects… like: rain, getting wet, the Olympics, school, sadistic tooth cleaning, annoying salesmen and some crazy onions.

Today, my friend took up the suggestion of trying out this new business method in her blog. That was it: if I procrastinated any more, then my method would be patented and successful before you could chant, “Losers weepers! Finders keepers!”

The golden rule of this radical new method is this… come nearer… and I’ll whisper it to you:

ACT LIKE A SIX-YEAR-OLD HAVING A TERRIBLE, EAR-SHATTERING TANTRUM!

First of all, if you don’t have any handy six-year-olds at home, then you can use a two- or three-year-old. Note how they take a deep breath, open their mouths, look at you for effect, and then start screaming at the top of their voices. The kind of scream that shatters glasses, windows and eardrums. Note how they go red in the face, and then scarlet, then purple and finally puce. And if they still don’t get their own way, note the graceful way they will throw themselves on the ground, stamping their feet and fists in fury. And – if all else fails – watch out for those angry teeth!

Try out a few tantrums at home first.

Then you’re ready to give it a go at work. Salary negotiations would be the perfect time to use this new method. Name an astronomical wage rise, and then start screaming when your boss says no. If the boss does not give in, throw yourself on the ground (remember to wear trousers or clean underwear that day), stamp your feet and scream, “But I WAAAAAAAANT that much money a month. I WAAAAAAAAAANNNNNNT it!”

If you are not ready for the full-blown tantrum, then try turning on the tears. Let’s say that you went out to a fancy restaurant with friends last weekend, had way too many bottles of champagne and expensive food and ended up footing the bill.

You then decide to claim the money back on your expenses, and call it a ‘working dinner’. The company accountant is usually wise to this sort of ploy so will probably say no at this stage.

Do not be down-hearted: get that mouth trembling, pout with the lower lip, scrunch up your face and get those tears flowing. (You might need to cover your hands in onion juice or stick yourself in the butt with a sharp knife to get the tears started.)

You’ll be surprised by how often crying works…

One final tip: if these methods fail and you get fired (remember that new ways of thinking are hard for others to accept…), then just act like any kid would. Mooch around the house for a couple of days, then wander into the office and go back to work as normal. When your boss comes out to talk to you, then just wave and smile and ask, “Do you want to come out and play?”


Humble onion thoughts

Warning! I’m having another ‘Princess Fiona’ (Shrek) moment!

Apparently, I transgressed in my last post by not using a picture of the onion flower. I apologize to all of you with green fingers and/or a sense of curiosity.

Anyway, the gentle inquiries of readers and friends triggered another ‘wise’ moment of contemplation about the humble onion. You see, the onion is the ugly duckling of the vegetable world, the Jekyll and Hyde, a Princess Fiona and ogre all rolled into one tear-making round ball of tastiness.

Meet the onion as we know it in every day life:

The humble yellow onion, or its more exuberant red cousin:

When it flowers, it really comes into its own! Like an ugly duckling transforming itself into a swan.

And my, my! Aren’t those flowers beautiful!

Truly lovely!

But the onion is not just about taste and looks: it is perky and has a great sense of humour. It is the clown of the vegetable world… Sometimes, it can transform from this:

Into this:

Don’t know about you, folks, but I’ll never look at an onion in the same way again…


Onion thoughts

Have you ever noticed how life is like an onion?

It comes in layers…

… and as you peel each layer away, a surprise is revealed.

Sometimes, you come across something beautiful.

And sometimes it makes you cry.


Making the impossible possible

I just love it when the impossible is not impossible; when the boundaries of impossibility become possible!

Take sprinting, for example…

First of all, people thought it was impossible for the 100 m record to be broken. But Bolt smashed it – and our pre-conceived notions.

Then came the 200 m sprint. Impossible to break that record said everyone in the know. After all, that record has only been broken every decade or so.

But the beatable wasn’t unbeatable … Bolt went on to set a new world record and, by doing so, pushed our boundaries of what we see as ‘impossible’.

What do you think is ‘impossible’? Take a good long think – and then think again. Is it really impossible? Or just hard to achieve?

When was the last time you made something you thought was impossible possible?

Well, don’t just sit there reading this. Go out and make those dreams come true!


Getting schooled

“Nothing in education is so astonishing as the amount of ignorance it accumulates in the form of facts.”

- Henry Brooks Adams

It’s back to school tomorrow for anklebiter #1. Last year, at age 6, she went to a sort of starter class – a class in school that prepares you for ‘real’ school. A cross between pre-school and big school. But this year, aged 7, it’s down to business. Getting serious about learning. Yup – school is compulsory from Year 1 and onwards.

And already last year (to my secret delight), she was complaining about how school had too many rules, and why was using your imagination not valued as highly as being able to write on the lines…

As the old story goes: a girl runs up to her mum and says excitedly, “I’ve taught the dog how to roll over and play dead!” The mother is pleased and asks the girl to show her the new trick with the dog. “Play dead!” she says. The dog looks up at the mother with his big, brown eyes and wags his tail.

“But he’s not doing it,” exclaims the mum.

“Well,” replies the girl, “I said that I had taught him how to play dead. NOT that he had learnt it!”

There’s a whole new world of learning out there: I just hope that she learns to discover it with a sense of wonder, curiosity and joy.


Sizzling hot revolution

“The greatest invention since the steam engine!” says my husband, while MIT is more modest and calls it a ‘major discovery’. What is this major breakthrough? Storing solar power on a large scale for when the sun is not shining.

You see, not being able to store solar power has always been a barrier to utilizing the sun as a natural source of energy. But now, researchers from MIT, headed by Daniel Nocera, Dreyfus Professor of Energy at MIT, have come up with a simple, not too costly and very efficient way of actually storing solar energy.

Apparently, Nocera and another guy called Matthew Kanan were inspired by the photosynthesis of plants. They have developed a radical new process that will allow the sun’s energy to be used to split water into hydrogen and oxygen gases. The oxygen and hydrogen can then be recombined later on inside a fuel cell. Result? Carbon-free electricity to power your house or your electric car, day or night!

This, my dear readers, is astounding news! Everyone should be shouting it from the rooftops! It’s a giant leap towards producing clean, carbon-free energy on a massive scale. It’s a vital step towards breaking our dependence on fossil fuels.

Just imagine – in ten years’ time – in OUR OWN lifetimes – we may very well witness the solution to the energy crisis (and a significant step towards reducing global warming).

Yes – we may very well see an era where fossil fuels become … well, fossils!


Inspiration in yellow and blue

I was looking through the values of a certain very successful Swedish business today, with stores all around the world. They sell Swedish furniture at affordable prices. OK – you know who I mean, right?

Well, I never thought I would be inspired by them, but I am. By the values that they try to follow. And I thought – yeah! why not try to use some of these values in daily life?

READY? Here are some of their values:

Work together with joy and enthusiasm. After all, it is difficult to go it alone all the time. And I like the joy part – we could all do with a bit more of that, right?

Be open to renewal and be willing to change. I agree – this can lead to surprising, innovative ideas.

Don’t waste time or resources. Good idea although time-wasting (like writing this blog or eating chocolate) is just too enjoyable to give up entirely…

The willingness to accept and delegate responsibility. Yes – dare to make your mistakes and learn from them.

Be humble. Be kind and generous and treat the ideas of others with respect.

Simplicity. Why make things more complicated than they need to be?

Leadership by example. As every parent will tell, if you don’t set a good example, then your kids won’t either.

Dare to be different. Ask why. Question. Go your own way. This is how you can create progress and change.

Keep your feet on the ground. Mmm.. I understand that you have to be realistic: it helps in daily life, I guess. But I still like to keep my head in the clouds.

On the way. Being on the way on your journey through life means embracing change, finding new ways of doing things.

My conclusion:

It’s your journey, how you travel through life that is more important than life’s destination.

So, what are the values that guide you through life?


Southpaws supreme

Today is Left-handers’ Day! Both the ankle-biters are left-handed (and left-footed), and we are already aware of the problems of using ‘normal’ scissors or trying to write in the same direction as everyone else.

Down the ages, lefties have been persecuted and ridiculed. The word ‘left’ comes from the Latin ‘sinister’, which today means ‘evil’. In many European languages, ‘right’ means ‘correct’ and is associated with justice, whereas the left side is associated with being awkward or just plain bad. And in many societies, the left hand is viewed as unclean.

Lots of lefties have stories to tell of their teachers trying to – literally – bash the left-handedness out of them. And even today I know people who do not want to let their kids eat left-handedly, but to hold their cutlery as right-handers do.

Left-handers are also known as southpaws (a boxing term) and in Australia, they are sometimes called Molly-Dookers. Why? No one knows!

My message to all you southpaws out there: be proud, be left. Don’t conform to the norm, but use those left digits and limbs of yours with skill and pride.

Left-handers are unusual; more flexible, more intelligent, better at multi-tasking and better at solving problems.

Darn it: I wish I were left-handed!


I died and went to…

Time for my annual check-up at the dentist today. She has moved premises to somewhere nearer home. My husband tries to cheer me up (because, folks, I suffer from severe dentophobia) by describing the new dental surgery like this: “Honestly, you’ll love it. It’s got stars in the floor. It’s like you’ve died and gone to heaven!”

In my case, there is no way that heaven and dentist can even exist in the same universe. Visiting the dentist’s is more like going down to a place that myth has us believe is much hotter than heaven!

Anyway, so there I am in the new surgery. The floor does indeed have sparkling silver stars in it so that it is like walking on a starry heaven. But guess what? It still feels like the waiting room to hell.

After an excruciating delay, I am shown into a room which is all windows, white floor and shiny new equipment. First off, the X-rays. Then the dental hygienist comes in and starts excavating for lost relics, digging deep down between the teeth with an enormous brush. “You’ve got tartar,” she explains. “And that’s my area of expertise!” she exclaims with glee as she continues her archaeological dig.

I try to watch the synchronized diving because each room has got its very own TV on the ceiling. It’s not easy because now she’s polishing my teeth with a lemon-scented liquid (rather like the scented wipes you get on a plane) and it is squirting up my nose and all over my face.

Then the dentist herself comes in, prods around a bit and looks at the X-rays. I wait for my doom: as long as I can remember I have always always had to have work done on my teeth. Always.

She delivers my sentence: “Your teeth look good! Come back in a year!”

That’s when I think I have died and gone to heaven.


The right to be disconnected…

I want to tell you about a phone conversation my husband had with a telecommunications sales executive. Let’s call him Bill (the salesman, not my husband). From what I can gather, the conversation went something like this:

Bill: Rhubarb! Rhubarb! (General sales patter)… Have you got mobile broadband? You haven’t? Then you might be interested in our summer offer. Get mobile broadband for a trial period – 250 kronor connection charge and free for the first year. Just to see if you like it.

Husband: Sure, I’d like to give it a try, but I don’t want to pay for something that I might not like.

Bill: But don’t you want to be connected all the time, wherever you are?

Husband: Well, I’ve got wireless broadband at home, broadband at the office and Internet on my phone. I don’t need to be connected all the time.

Bill: Puzzled silence.

Husband – trying to be helpful: Sometimes it’s nice just to sit on the bus and read a book.

Bill – even more puzzled, not to say a little worried: But are you sure you don’t want to be connected 24/7?!?

Husband: Look! I’ve been working in computers for the past thirty years. Sometimes, it’s nice NOT to be connected!

Bill: Silent. Very silent. Speechless.

Husband decides to finish the call: I think I’ve wasted enough of your time. Have a good evening!

Don’t know about you – but sometimes it is essential to do something else – something offline. Like talk with your kids, read a book, sing a song, talk with a friend, be at peace for a while to calm the noise of the day.

I agree that mobile broadband is great if you want to work outside the box – on a park bench, on a beach, or anywhere that inspires you – to do your best. At work.

However, just now and then, very occasionally, when you’re on the beach, it is great just to be on the beach. With a book. The waves. Family or friends.

And sometimes, you can even go to the beach, not to work or to surf the Internet – but to surf the waves.

Believe me – it is essential for your well-being.


Coincidence – or not?

My last story complained about a certain Swedish newspaper ignoring events going on around the world, including the troubles in Georgia.

The very next day that same newspaper published a headline on the front news: War breaks out during the Olympic opening ceremony.

Had they been reading my blog or was it all just a coincidence?


Water-proofing

It’s raining again – torrential, monsoon-like; big, fat, wet, snake-like drops.

As I kit up for another adventurous walk with the dog, my son comforts me with these words: “Lucky that skin is water-proof, mama!”

I head out of the door with a smile on my face.


Sports, sports, sports?

So, in case you are a hermit living in the wilderness, let me state the obvious: the Summer Olympics are starting today at 8.08 on 08-08-08.

You guessed it, the number eight is a lucky number in China, signifying luck and riches.

I like to think that the Olympics is more about skill than luck, but it is certainly about riches. The TV rights alone rake in a whopping 1.7 billion dollars. Someone somewhere is getting rich. Sports is certainly a multi-billion dollar industry.

Is that why the news coverage (here in Sweden, at least) has more or less focused on the Olympics all week? Nearly every day, the headlines in one of Sweden’s main broadsheets has been about the Olympics: Can’t find someone to bear the Swedish flag at the opening ceremony; Only 4 days to go; Only 3 days to go and so on.

You would think that nothing else of importance has happened out there in the world during the past week. Important news has been relegated to the sidelines during the countdown to the Olympics in Beijing. Here are some of the news stories that have been ignored:

  • Over 160 people dead in a stampede at a Hindu temple in India.
  • A military coup in one of Africa’s poorest countries, Mauritania.
  • Pakistan’s ruling coalition wants to impeach President Pervez Musharraf.
  • Georgian troops surrounding the rebel capital in South Ossetia.
  • Major breakthrough that could lead to clean energy within the next ten years! (Will be writing more about this later.)

Is it because the Olympics are being held in China that all else is overshadowed? China: one-party communist state, where dissidents ‘disappear’, with the highest execution rate in the world. China: with a long history of civilization and culture, the source of many major inventions and an up and coming major economic power.

I guess that many are like me: looking on with mixed emotions. Wanting sports to rise above politics, but not able to ignore the fact that there seems to be little change in the Chinese government’s attitude towards Tibet, Burma or Darfur.

Boycotting the Olympics is one path to go down. Protesting is another. A third way is to try and take back the original spirit of friendship of the Olympics.

As the Dalai Lama himself says, “This is a moment of great pride to the 1.3 billion Chinese people. These Games should contribute to promoting the Olympic spirit of friendship, openness and peace.”


A new perspective on: Getting drenched…

What if yesterday’s walk really felt like this?

Went out for a walk with the dog this morning. It was raining – gloriously tipping it down: not a drizzle or regular rain – but lovely skin-drenching, torrential rain.

It took me a few minutes to throw on some suitable clothes – a rain jacket, rain trousers, walking boots and a once-white woolly hat to top off the look!

Half an hour later, my gear has reached saturation point. The jacket begins to drizzle inside, and the rain trousers have begun to let the rain in so that now my jeans are wringing wet. I stop and savour the feeling of dripping wet cloth as my jeans cling to my legs. I shake my arms and laugh as I feel the cool drops rush down my arms. The forest paths have been turned into mini-streams of swirling water, and the dog is thoroughly enjoying himself as he splashes along them and down into ditches that now resemble streams.

It is all too tempting, so I throw my inhibitions to the wind and jump into the nearest ditch! The water comes in over my shoes and floods my feet. I wiggle my toes in order to enjoy the delicious sensation of rain between them. I laugh and run and can hear my feet squelching inside my shoes. No wonder children hop into puddles at every opportunity.

I rip off my hat and let the rain drench my hair into wet tendrils, shower my face and then gush down the inside of my jacket, starting on the back of my neck. I am exhilirated by the feeling of cold water rushing down my neck and back.

A small hole in the seat of my rain trousers joins in the fun and starts letting cold drops of rain in. They trickle onto the backside, making sure it is thoroughly, gloriously, splendidly wet. I giggle with glee and start skipping home.

I hope it rains again tomorrow.


Getting drenched…

Went out for a walk with the dog this morning. It was raining – and I mean raining! Not a drizzle or even regular rain – but downpouring, skin-drenching, torrential rain.

It took me 20 minutes to get geared up to meet the weather – on with the rain jacket, rain trousers, desperate search for the Gore-Tex walking boots and a once-white woolly hat to top off the look!

Half an hour later, my gear has reached saturation point. The jacket begins to drizzle inside, and the rain trousers have given up their rain-combating duties to let the rain in so that now my jeans are wringing wet. As the forest paths have been turned into mini-streams of swirling water, my left shoe has now gone from being Gore-Tex to Bore-Tex and I find myself squelching along with a shoeful of rain.

The dog is clearly enjoying himself as only a water-loving working Golden can. My thoughts start rambling: wouldn’t it be great if I had a pair of trousers made from all the hair the dog sheds! Then I could wear it on rainy days and just shake myself off in true canine fashion when getting home. Mind you, they would probably be the only trousers in the world from which I would have to remove ticks…

I am brought sharply back to reality by a persistent trickle of water that has found its way into a miniscule hole on the seat of my trousers. My backside is now totally wet.

Don’t know why I bothered showering this morning.


Sing for joy!

“Mama! I’m singing. Singing for joy!”

How I wish I could really live in this state of child-like wonder! I can’t remember the last time I sang with joy, or jumped high with happiness. What a gift to be able to express yourself with such intensity, such life!

What makes YOU jump for joy? Give yourself the gift of five minutes a day to experience a joy-hopping moment.


Life on Mars…

Splendid in space

Splendid in space

So, there you have it! Proof that there was once water on Mars – and on one of Saturn’s moons.

cassini

mars_water_000620.html

I remember being asked the question at school, by friends, by the media when I was a child: “Do you think that there is life on other planets?” I also remember being poo-pooed when saying yes.

You see, I always thought it would be such a lonely universe with just us humans in it! Wouldn’t it be wonderful to know the universe was full of mystical Mars creatures or delicate star people? What would the the flowers of Titan look like and how would Neptune taste?


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