For the next few weeks lets look at some of the pretty things on Etsy to get your home into the spirit of Christmas.
Advent calendars usually start on 1 December so we only have a few days left to get them. Most of the advent calendars I have come across are really more for children but I thought this was a great option for adult only households.
To me, advent calendars are also a great way to dip your toes into the craft pond. Could be great fun to make and lets be honest, anything with chocolate inside is ok by me.
I follow a lot of bloggers based in the USA and reading them share what they are grateful for inspired me to think of my own list.
Richard is my best friend and I am grateful for the opportunity to love such an incredible man.
I am eternally grateful that I come from a large family. We started as 6 but there are now 13 of us and it is wonderful to share in their lives.
The other family that I am grateful for is Richard’s. When you fall in love with your partner not everyone is lucky enough to have the same with their family, I got lucky.
3. Genuine friends
Everyone has “friends” who come in and out of your life. People who claim to be your friend but in reality are just using the word as a manipulative tool – if I am their friend then my reaction to their behaviour should be that of a friend, particularly hard if you are someone’s manager. I am grateful for the friends who keep me sane, make me laugh and heal me when I cry.
4. A happy home
Richard, Rory and I have a pretty good life in our skinny little apartment here in Sydney. I am a particular fan of the wireless cable internet that lets me read my favourite blogs from every room of the house.
I am addicted to books and I have finally started to discover the upside of an eBook reader. I have the Kindle iPad app which I recommend (has the range of Kindle but you can do more than just read books on it, I kick butt at Bejeweled). I even heard myself the other day saying to Richard that I will purchase a book on the Kindle over a real book (I was talking about the new Steve Jobs book, that thing is heavy).
6. Having a job
I may not always like my job but I am grateful for it for two reasons
it keeps a roof over my head and food in my belly
I am part of the team that supports charities doing great works through helping provide education and training
I have loved to sing and dance since I was little and wherever possible I love to have music around me. Right now we are sitting listening to The Goat Rodeo Sessions. Today at work I was listening to the soundtrack of the latest Twilight film and Laura Jansen on my phone! Music is a great joy in my life and I hope to be able to learn to play an instrument to be able to create rather than just consume.
8. Pizza night
Recently Richard and I started the tradition of making pizza’s on a Friday night together. Its a really lovely thing for us to do and is definitely a tradition we will share with our children. What makes it more special is that when I was a kid my family got pizza too, what a sweet tradition to keep alive.
Education is one of the most important gifts we can receive in life. That I was able to go to school and continue to study well into my adult life is a gift I am very grateful for. Possibly even more so given that women in education is such a new thing.
No matter what I am always grateful when Friday rolls around. I feel like for the next two days my life is my own again, dictated only by what I want to do (of course I do consider Richard when I make that decision). This weekend my sister is coming to stay. Can’t wait to see her and spend time quietly to myself. Oh and Sunday nights I call my parents, what a great way to spend two days.
It’s sometimes interesting to view the power of words. The philosopher Nietzsche (as opposed to the philosoraptor) often used etymology to show how words have a symbiotic relationship with reality and often the weaving of the two form the basis of the human experience.
The Philosoraptor at Work
Some of Nietzsche’s best writings are about how words have shaped human history such as On the Genealogy of Morality, and specifically the chapters on the origin of the terms good, bad and evil.
A much more modern turn of phrase has recently piqued my interest, which is the phrase Knowing my luck. Often used to describe a perceived inevitable and uncontrollable negative outcome to a situation, such as “The meeting took me hours to prepare, but knowing my luck it will be cancelled.”
What got me thinking about this phrase was a recent event, when Alys and I were talking about going for a walk, and she commented “knowing our luck it will probably rain while we’re out”.
What was interesting was the allocation of bad luck (to which the phrase almost exclusively refers to) not to a single entity, but to the two of us together. Would either one of us have more luck independently or is it simply that we both have individual bad luck and it is cumulative. Can luck indeed be formed by a combination of elements, a recipe for bad luck, so to speak?
One may speculate forever on the nature of luck, where it is formed, whether it can be quantified or indeed in whether or not it even exists. As a wise old man once said “In my experience there is no such thing as luck”. Unfortunately that man was also a cultist who cut people up with a laser sword, so perhaps he should not be an authority on the matter.
Relating back more directly to the phrase, we find some other interesting properties. One is its almost unanimous meaning of a negative outcome, though it does not ever specifically refer to one. I for one, have never heard it used to denote a positive outcome, such as “knowing my luck everything will all turn out totally fine”. Possibly because the unsaid part of that sentence continues with “because I’m awesome”, and history has weeded out anyone insufferable enough to say that by the occasional stoning or beheading.
However given its wide use and notoriety one could speculate that a pessimistic attitude is the natural state of being, or at least very very common. Perhaps though, when it is this widespread the correct term for it should be a “cautious” attitude, as evolution may well have favoured those believing they innately had bad luck, as they would be better prepared for different eventualities.
While a cautious attitude is all well and good, there lies a different danger within, which is explored by the character Othello in a play Shakespeare creatively titled “Othello”. When suspecting the infidelity of his wife, Othello embraced the idea before any evidence was provided as he felt expecting the worst and being proven right was less painful than expecting the best and being proven wrong. His suspicions became self fulfilling and resulted in the death of himself, his wife, the entire cast of the play and anyone in a three block radius of where the play was being performed.
So with everything moderation is key. Be prepared, but also heed the warnings of Othello, lest you may find yourself in the middle of a Shakespearian drama, and there’s nothing more dangerous to your mortality than that.
I went and saw the brand new Twilight Saga Breaking Dawn this morning. I’ve read the books a few times and have enjoyed the previous films though this was the first I saw one I got to see on the big screen^.
If you haven’t seen it/read the book be aware spoilers are coming!
Overall a good film, there are some charming moments and if all else fails Jacob does get his shirt off though significantly less than the last films (an obvious sign that we are dealing with serious, adult concepts now).
Part 1 of Breaking Dawn the book was by far my favourite of all of them and I would say the same of the film.
Bella’s wedding dress blew me away!Kristen Stewart has an amazing figure and the dress is my favourite kind of wedding gown – simple, elegant, classy and I am a sucker for lace.
What sold it for me was that this was the meatiest Edward story. Sorry Team Edward but I often felt before he was too perfect and therefore not a perfect match for Bella. He gets some balls when he finally refuses to give in to Bella on the whole turning her into a vampire thing. Then in this film we actually see him disagree and criticise her. It was so good to see him yell at her, before he always seemed to indulge her. Could make an argument that it takes getting married for him to stand up for himself but I disagree, I think this is just the first time Bella went too far. Who can blame him, I would be furious if Richard willingly put himself in harms way as Bella does.
I’d read that the birth scene was full on and perhaps if you were 12 it would be, but I thought it was pretty close to the book so what I had expected. What I did find troubling was how convincingly they showed Bella slowly but surely fade away, I mean the girl looks like she really is that sick.
I was impressed with how they handled imprinting and Bella turning. Not too much of a cliff hanger but enough to get a taste of what is to come.
Pro tip: just because the credits start doesn’t mean the film is over, stay patiently for a few more minutes for a sneak into the next film.
^Coming back to this, I believe there are some films that you have to see on the big screen to really appreciate them, this wasn’t one of them. Personally, having seen it it can wait until DVD!
Working Smarter, Not Harder Deconstructing Business Voodoo
I am delighted to introduce to you a new series written by my darling Richard. He and I over the years have had some amazing conversations and I am delighted he agreed to write for us.
With most people in the business world, as you work your way up the corporate ladder there is a phrase that will inevitably come to haunt your dreams – “work smarter, not harder”.
This turn of phrase, beloved by motivation experts and consultants alike originated as a term that identified a lack of procedural optimisation (often in a software platform) and was used as a catchphrase to sell updated technology to wary bosses on the hopes of boosted productivity. And it succeeded in doing so.
In the 80s – 90s the tech boom did indeed hugely increase the productivity of the singular worker. Yet, inevitably the demands and expectations of single worker increase along with the technological boost. With the tech-efficiency boom at an equilibrium, the phrase itself (as many do) has since evolved into a new meaning.
It is now used by much higher management towards lower workers as a euphemism for “it is your responsibility to achieve more without help or extra resources” (and to be fair “work smarter” has a much nicer ring to it).
Often this phrase is portrayed as used by ignorant and/or lazy bosses who are more talk than action. This actually has a hint of truth to it, but in reality the current use of the phrase and the idea behind it is a far more systemic issue that relates to human ignorance and belief.
In any business, it is a simple bit of maths that the greater number of (good) employees you have means higher productivity. However that’s not always an option. Especially in our economic climate, businesses may have to do without the luxury of full (or adequate) staffing.
So for the 1 million dollar question – how do you solve a problem requiring more money without money? The answer is simple.
Yet at the same time, most people would argue that there is a way, even if it is not apparent, and will either run full ball with new policies – implementing “no lights on before it’s dark” to save money, or “more lights on all the time” to garner more attention. Alternatively they may ask others who appear knowledgeable to solve the problem.
This is where the human belief and ignorance comes in, as the fate of any business is what I could consider a chaotic system with too many factors to be able to actually predict any outcome. There are many of these in existence, such as predicting the future, economy or society.
The problem with these systems is that they distort normal human perceptions of cause and effect. You can place an idea into the maelstrom and receive a result wholly independent of your initial input.
An example of this is with the “more lights” policy noted above: A store – ‘Jane’s Hats’ puts in many more lights and thus receives far more customers. Thus Jane is believed very wise and goes on to have a business telling other stores how to gain more customers.
However in truth the success is only because a distant bypass closed and now more customers are funnelling down the street Jane’s Hats is located on. Alternatively Jane may fail simply because the type of people who were diverted on the bypass dislike bright lights. Therefore Jane would wrongly preach that closing bypasses have no effect on business as the two cancel out.
In this context, I would argue the simple definition of “magic” is something that does not obey the rules of cause and effect, similar to these chaotic systems. Therefore people who can successfully manage a business are seen in the same light as those who can wield the essence of magic and mystics.
Of course, these types of people are not new. Fortune-tellers, soothsayers, astrologists, voodoo doctors and shamans all work in the same manner. Thus consultants, efficiency specialists, motivational speakers and social media marketers – jobs created in the last 100 years – are simply the latest iteration of people with the skill of appearing as though they can predict and/or control complex systems.
Yet because of our belief in the modern age of science we fail to see the profession’s mystical roots (because it is masked in statistics and charts), it makes the idea of the mysterious “working smarter” a tangible object that we feel can be conquered and obtained
So in short – the concept of “work harder not smarter” is rooted in modern day mysticism. Like all mysticism, it has occasional tendrils in truth, but is rarely anchored. A policy that may be a robust success today may fail you tomorrow
More likely than not, if you hear it said, it is simply a means to hijack the employee into “working longer, not better” by putting the onus of productivity back on to them. But in the end, that just results in disgruntled employees and minimal company loyalty – a stopgap at best.
So take heed! Although sometimes useful (as mystics have always been), If your consultant’s recommendation to your understaffing issue is anything other than “get more staff” then you may as well throw in an animal sacrifice at your next board meeting to get you that extra chance of success.
When your worries start to get on top of you imagine that life is the Grand Canyon. Look around and see the moments of life, the big and small. Think about where you have been and what is to come. See how massive life is! Now throw in whatever is worrying you. Now look at your worry, how tiny does it look?
I know that I worry. I get something in my head and I overanalyse it, fixate on it and let it keep me up at night. I am going to try this trick and see how I go.