Saturday, May 31, 2008

Yorkshire Sculpture Park 

Something, at least, is right with the world, when places like this can exist.

From one angle, this clearly (to me) represents a woman...

...yet from this, equally clearly a snake;

a hooded cobra perhaps.

But from this angle? I've no idea. Any suggestions?

A local, too young to know that sheep don't climb trees:

Mind you, the livestock around here clearly have remarkable capabilities:

Footnote: Two days away from home and work, mostly spent in the appreciation of things artistic, does wonders for one's mental well-being. I just hope I get the time to explain before the effect wears off.

Sunday, May 25, 2008

This I can relate to 

"...meaning is a bit like happiness - the more you go out looking for it the less you find."

From this article.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

30 days: Lesson One 

Dammit, I’m not going to give up. I was poised to give myself a break, back off from this space until such time as I felt able to make better use of it. But hope isn’t dead yet. I ordered Paul Hawken’s ‘Blessed Unrest’ from Amazon the other day, and already, even having read only the first few pages, the I can see grounds for Hawken’s optimism. And today, this post from Gift Hub says something very similar. Together, they give just enough impetus to get back here and give it a go.

I still haven’t made good on my promise to share what I learned on Chris Corrigan’s 30 day learning journey. Remember my theme?
"In what ways could I change the way in which I think about my world, and how would that be helpful?"

Maybe now, sitting in the office at lunchtime isn’t the optimum time for this; I wrote more in my journal one quiet Sunday morning about a month ago, but I’ve learned that writing that merely copies out yesterday’s thoughts loses spontaneity, it’s better to write with the feelings of today, even though those feelings may not be as intense as those of yesterday.

I’ve said many times over (so many times in fact that I’m sure you’re sick of hearing it) that I wish there was some Great Work that I could do – something which made a worthwhile tangible difference to this world, something I could look back on with pride and say ‘Yes, it was worth my being here’. It didn’t have to be big, but it did have to give me a sense of personal worth.

Well, the penny finally dropped. I’ve been doing it – my Great Work – all along; in fact the biggest part of it is nearly finished. And yes, I do look back on it with pride; that, and humility and awe and incomprehension that it has turned out so well. And, it has to be said, a certain amount of sadness that it’s nearly over; moments have passed which can never be repeated.

What is it? Nothing more or less than bringing up our children. It’s been our focus ever since they were born; all the big decisions in our lives have been made with their wellbeing – present and future – in mind. Not that we’ve pandered to them; we were still in charge, and decisions made for their good may not always have been popular, but through it all we’ve managed the transition in relationship from parent-child to adult-adult and remained the best of friends.

I could probably say more, but as I say, those thoughts are captured in a notebook sitting at home, whilst I’m here at work. If I wait until later, something else will divert me; half a story now is better than none later. I know that as I wrote those thoughts in my journal a month ago there were tears in my eyes – tears of joy, and recognition and love.

And now it’s nearly over; this phase is, anyway. Our eldest son, the one who spent 6 months in Afghanistan, moves out into a flat of his own next month. His brother, just now completing his post graduate certificate in education, has taken a 2 year teaching contract in Lusaka, Zambia and leaves in August. Only our daughter will remain at home, for a while, once she finishes her music degree next month.

We sit on the verge of becoming empty nesters. One of life’s major phases almost over, another about to begin. I guess it’s no wonder I feel ill at ease.

Monday, May 19, 2008

The d-word 

I suppose this might be depression. Of a sort; perhaps with a small ‘d’ rather than a big ‘D’, as it were. I’m not sure exactly where it sits on scale from being merely fed up to being truly clinically depressed, except to say that it feels as though it’s maybe hovering somewhere around the midway point and moving closer to the latter than the former. The periods of occasional fed-up-ness have grown and merged; no longer just a part-time feature but a continuous state which colours everything, dawn to dusk and even it feels in sleep, and from which nothing seems able to extract me, even temporarily.

Even now though, something in me revolts at the idea. No; not me; I don’t do depression. I’m positive, right? Optimistic, always finding a silver lining to every cloud, glass half full, always looking on the bright side. Trouble is, bright sides are getting harder and harder to find.

This is all totally irrational of course. There’s no logical reason for feeling this way; on the scale of things, any clouds on my horizon are mere wisps of stuff that the sunshine ought to have no difficulty dispersing. So why do I allow them to hang over me like thunderclouds?

I have got to snap out of this.

Saturday, May 17, 2008

Beautiful Landscapes... 


Saturday, May 10, 2008

Paypal sucks 

My son is now £140 poorer thanks to this policy of Paypal:
Payments received in your PayPal account may be reversed at a later time (in some instances up to 180 Days following the time of receiving the payment) if such a payment is subject to a chargeback, reversal, claim or otherwise invalidated. This means that for some of our sellers, payments received into their account may be reversed after they have been paid and after the seller has delivered any goods sold.”

He sold an iPod on eBay, received confirmation of the buyer’s payment into Paypal, shipped the goods, then a few days later Paypal took the money back out of his account, because it turns out the buyer was using a stolen credit card.

So much for seller protection. We both mistakenly thought that Paypal acted as a security buffer between buyer and seller, but in practice it seems that if Paypal accepts a criminal as a client, they're able to pass on the effects of that client's criminal behaviour to their other law-abiding clients after the event at no loss to themselves. Moreover, since they're not a bank they can operate outside of banking legislation.

If you Google “Paypal sucks” you’ll find plenty of websites and blogs recounting problems with their ‘service’, and thousands of very angry and frustrated users. I've taken down the links that I had here, as it turns out many of these sites are actually linking back to (and sponsored by??) a competitor to Paypal. I make no comment about any competitor's service; Paypal still sucks.

Friday, May 09, 2008

What happened? 

Hard to say; internal communication shutdown of some kind. CPU core processes still ticking over, but the lights on the front panel stopped flashing and input/output capacity (never a flood, even at the best of times) reduced to a trickle, just enough data getting through to prevent essential systems shutting down entirely.

Like being on dial-up instead of broadband; dial-up with a dodgy ‘phone line.

Or a virus that hogs the CPU, keeping it stuck in a loop chasing its own tail.

I’ve never been this long without posting. Sometimes in the past, when I’d been feeling particularly doubtful about the future and contemplating abandoning this blog, one of the things that kept me posting was the thought that, whatever the most recent post was, it wasn’t one I’d be comfortable as being the final one. I’d rather go out on a high, or at least a positive note, rather than just fading into nothingness.

I almost thought that previous post might be the one that fitted the bill. Nothing remarkable from a literary point of view, but at least it was positive, something I could leave standing as my blogging epitaph.

So, with no pressing need to post anything, I lapsed into silence. Both here and in the real world.

But if nothing else, there are a couple of points from that learning journey that may be worth sharing, as and when I can do them justice. So, no, I haven’t abandoned this space. Not yet.