Sunday, 31 January 2010

No.232 Of the Week Ahead

We have a big week planned this week at Legal-Island.

Our new training centre for Northern Ireland plays hosts to the very first of our Antrim Breakfast Seminars with Melanie Donnelly of Myfullcircle coaching delivering the first session this Tuesday entitled "Coaching Skills for Management & HR". She's a great speaker Melanie so I'm looking froward to the seminar myself.

On Tuesday I'm meeting Keith Pryde from Diskshred and Willa Mawhinney the next day. We have a meeting booked for the train back from Dublin being the only time we could grab between us. I'm also meeting Charles Garavan from the Memory Academy that day which should be interesting. On Thursday I'm meeting a rep from the Centre for Competitiveness about EFQM and Parity on Friday.

Friday, 29 January 2010

No.231 Of being angry and confused

So J.D. Salinger has finally popped his clogs. He's the guy who write "Catcher in the Rye" a book I read years ago when I was an angry confused teenager. The novel apparently is about an angry confused teenager but I missed that bit....

Well here's wondering how Tony Blair will get on today. Whether he does well or bombs (if you'll pardon the use of terminology) at least we can say that we have a political system in which our leaders are accountable. I couldn't see Putin being brought before an independent committee to scrutinise his decision to send the army into the Caucuses.

Meanwhile, Gordon Brown recovers from his visit to Northern Ireland and his failure to get seasoned politicians to agree on what to many seems a relatively small issue. I wonder how he feels. Angry and confused?

Thursday, 28 January 2010

No.230 Of Apps and Addie

I'm getting a digital makeover tomorrow or perhaps I should say that I'm just being "digitised". I'm getting an Iphone so I whenever I see shelves I can check they're up correctly with its spirit level App - oh and phone people too. I'm getting my jawbone bluetooth device working so I can call people in my car without fear of arrest or the person I'm speaking to asking me if I'm calling from the bottom of a well. I'm getting my MP3 player in operation so I can download a bit of Saturday night's Whispering Bob Harris show and play it loud in the Legal-Island gym at the crack of dawn in the week. I'm getting my multi purpose stop watch/ heart rate monitor in operation tomorrow too.

Saturday morning I shall wake up looking like Robocop but my, will I work!

Wednesday, 27 January 2010

No.229 Of Holocaust Day

It's Holocaust memorial day today. When I was 18 I visited Auschwitz in Poland. I remember it well. It was a beautiful summer's day amid a holiday that was probably the best I had ever had. I stood next to the ovens where the Nazi's had disposed of the millions of bodies they had murdered.

I left that day feeling wholly inadequate. For my mind was just incapable of even getting close to understanding or feeling the utter misery and horror that camp had visited upon millions of people.

I'd like to go back one day. Perhaps one day in the winter when it's dark and cold to give my mind another go.

Tuesday, 26 January 2010

No.228 Of Tolerating the Intolerable

I was listening to Radio 4 this morning whilst peddling away on the bike in the Legal-Island gym and reading my book (it's on Abraham Lincoln and becoming compulsive reading like every good book should be). Apparently, we are to be congratulated for the British are far more tolerant than we were 20 years ago. This mood of jubilation was tempered somewhat when one commentator came on and reminded us that the comparative survey also indicates that 38% of us still think homosexuality is wrong. Emmm.

Meanwhile our politicians are locked away in Hillsborough attempting to get a definition and system of policing in NI that both sides can tolerate.

Monday, 25 January 2010

No.227 Of Reviews & News

It was not a great start to the week. The padlock gate had frozen solid. Only a trip home and a boiled kettle finally got my into the Neverland Ranch at 7a.m..

This elongated journey to my desk this morning was made harder by listening to U105 and their latest breaking news item that Angelina Joli and Brad Pitt had split. It was announced three times in 10 minutes. Those wanting to know how many had been killed in the plane crash that plunged into the Med, whether or not NI is likely to have the same government in a month's time or the latest on the policeman blown up earlier this month by a bomb would have to wait half an hour for the news at the top of the hour.

Big week ahead for us this week. A proper week of work methinks now that the Performance reviews have finished finally.

Sunday, 24 January 2010

No.226 Of Sunday Morning Board Games

I was listening to an interivew this morning with Ronald Dworkin Harvard Professor of Law and billed as the greatest living legal philospher. Having just Googled him I learn that he's 79 but his mind sounded sharp and his exposition was wonderfully clear.

I remember studying Dworkin at University. He was just about the only philosopher on the jurisprudence course that I ever understood. If I remember correctly he developed a theory based around what he called "The Original Position" which to me sound like a board game and quite a bit of fun. The idea was that you judged a law as good or bad by asking whether a group of legislators would have passed it had they known they were about to arrive on this planet but not know where and as whom. See, I told you it was fun.

Friday, 22 January 2010

No.225 Of When "That'll Do Wont Do"

Wow what a way to start the morning! I woke up to the lovely Karen Patterson (on the radio sadly and, of course). Thereafter it was porridge and a bannana with berries, 30lengths of the Antrim pool, a walk to work through the park with loads of healthy gulps of fresh air, followed by a cup of herbal tea, a tweet and a blog. Is there any better way for a guy to start the day? I suppose the answer is Yes...

Yesterday I went to pick up a parcel from the local royal mail sorting office. As I signed for it on one of their rinky dinky new electronic message pads the receptionist said something that really rankled with me "that'll do".

Before coming to Northern Ireland I'd never heard this phrase before - at least as a communication close. I couldn't get used to it when I first heard it and I still can't now. I hear it as a sign off on the phones. Friends say it me. Senior networking contacts seem to think that it lifts my spirits as they head off from a meeting with me before throwing a "that'll do" at me.

I don't know why I have such a problem with this seemingly innocoous trio of words. It may be because it reminds me of my school days. The school motto was "that'll do wont do". (yes he was a smart arse the Headmaster). It may be that it feels like the oral equivalent of the limp handshake goodbye. Eitherway it sounds to me as though the person using it had just had a communication experience with me that was only just satisfactory or acceptable. May be I just need to get over it.

This blog is becoming long. Time to finish. That's enough for now, or if you prefer "That'll do".

Wednesday, 20 January 2010

No.224 Of Phising for Comments

Wow! Excitement! I logged into my blogging apparatus this morning to see someone had commented on my last posting. I clicked excitedly to see just who had thought some of my material was worthy of comment to find the following :

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I think I've been spammed or is the technical term phished?

Currently, I'm trying to find just the right CD with which to start off my day -preferably one with a feel good factor that really pumps me into life at 7a.m. each morning. For some reason I keep reverting to Kate Bush's Wuthering Heights. Hardly a feel good song I know about broken and impossible love but a great song nonetheless. In fact I'm not convinced there's been a better one since. Ohhh that may prompt a (preferably intelligible) comment....

No.223 Of Earlybirds Everywhere

"Earlybirds" everywhere and I've finally realised what's going on. Antrim Leisure centre is offering half price discount to earlybird swimmers this month. No wonder the pool's packed. Whatever next? Book online and save 10%! Scandalous!

Monday, 18 January 2010

No 221 A Short History of Packed Lunches

I'm all over the place this morning. I was looking forward to catching up on a load of work by taking the train to Dublin. Great I thought. Two hours of paperwork down there and two hours back. But no, events have dictated otherwise and I'm now having to drive. Instead I'm facing two hours of mind numbing driving there and the same back. Perhaps I shall take a different route this time to keep the mind fresh.

I fear I'm turning into the very type of person at school I used to seriously dislike. Those who during dinner time used to produce the perfectly packed packed lunch. It all fitted like it had been hand knitted (hey there's a rhyme) down to the boiled egg in the corner and the Taxi bar squeezed down into one side. Boy they used to annoy me.

This morning I prepped much the same for my train journey (now car drive) to Dublin thinking that this brunch would be much better for me than NI railway sandwiches and any other comfort junk I might indulge in to make the journey more tolerable. At least in the privacy of my own car I can eat away free from the glare of others yet to reconcile themselves with the glory that is a packed lunch...

No.220 It's a Question of Taste & Who to Believe

A medical expert on the TV this morning wants to ban butter on account of the damage it does to the heart. He says eat low fat spreads instead. They taste almost as good he claims. Our company nutritionist advises us to eat butter over low fat spreads for our blood cells don't understand the language of such artificially created products. I'm

I was first in the pool today. It was just as well. By the time I was getting out it was packed -no doubt with the early birders but also the remnants of those who took a New Year's Resolution to keep fit and are still sticking to it. My guess is that by the end of the month the early birders will have the pool pack to ourselves.

On the way out I stopped to read the new menu at the leisure centre cafe. Chips with everything. Butter I guess is, optional.

Saturday, 16 January 2010

No.219 Of Neutral weeks a& weekends

I have just clocked a "neutral week". A neutral week is one in which either I've exercised badly and eaten well or exercised well and eaten badly. This week it was the latter thanks mainly to a family sized bag of liquorice allsorts I put away whilst watching Messr Potts sing at the Waterfront (well he did make me fell a little less rotund too). Next week the plan is to have a positive week when I both exercise and eat sensibly.

The positive plan for the weekend is to finish reading Unlimited Power, do a bit of work, go for a jog and who knows a bit of hiking tomorrow.

Friday, 15 January 2010

No.218 Of Paul Potts and Other Beautiful Timely Things

I have a theatre/culture partner. Her name is Genevieve. Everywhere Genevieve goes she's late. You may not know that everywhere I go I'm early. I was brought up in a family in which if we arrived 5 minutes early for an appointment we were really 10 minutes late. It's an odd thing but whenever Genevieve and I go anywhere we always arrive bang on time. To the minute. Last night it was to the second. As Paul Potts walked onto the stage at the Waterfront 8p.m. yesterday Genevieve & I were being shown to our seats.

It's beautiful to see someone who's been given a huge chance in life. It's beautiful to see someone with a dream who is realising that dream. It's beautiful to see someone master his craft. Paul Potts you are short and you are dumpy. You would win no beauty contests but Paul you are beautiful.

Thursday, 14 January 2010

No.217 Of Celebrity Big Brother & Things That Really Should Matter

"What's she done to be a celebrity?" Asked Ivanna Trump of one of the other housemates last night on Celebrity Big Brother. "She dated a Rolling Stone" came the reply. "Is that all?" Trump said in horror. Isn't Trump known only for having married and successfully divorced for a small fortune a billionaire?

I was in the new Legal-Island gym this morning training to Radio Ulster. Wow Haiti has it bad. A typhoon caused havoc three years ago, now an earthquake has killed probably hundreds of thousands. They live amid total corruption and abject poverty. It's difficult to moan about anything here when you here about countries like that though we often manage it.

Off to see Paul Potts tonight. I don't really know what to expect having seen just a small clip of him once on the Internet from his Xfactor audition. May be we'll see a celebrity who's earned the label.

Wednesday, 13 January 2010

No.216 Of Don't Do Evil

I was speaking to a friend last night who used to be Head Chef at a top London Hotel. She did this for 10 years before deciding one night she'd had enough and she threw in the towel and oven gloves too I guess. She explained that the pressure in a top kitchen is like nothing else she's every experienced since. She said it's the only job she knows in which you have to get everything right straight off and there's no room to hide. You can't decide not to do something you don't like doing or choose to do it a little bit later or simply another time. It's all in real time and getting the perfect result first time. I think she's right. Mines a beans on toast please.

According to the news today Google is retreating on its policy of allowing China to censor it searches. Google's liberal motto of "Don't do evil" appeared under great strain when it first agreed to this with the Chinese government. So what happens now I wonder? If you're in Beijing and you Google "Today's Summary Executions" what do you get a page saying "information unobtainable"?

Monday, 11 January 2010

No.215 Of Boilers Burners, Boards and Blogging

I think our heating system must be jinxed. None of us have felt warm here for a good while. Early in the New Year we ran out of oil and now the boiler has broken and the repair man has been out to fix it. It was freezing inside the building last night so what he must have been feeling outsider in the boiler room as he waved his girlfriend's hair dryer over the burner in an attempt to convince to come back to life I don't know.

We have a couple of guys coming today who sell electronic whiteboards. I saw the boards demonstrated a couple of weeks ago and they looked mighty. I wonder if they're a bit like many modern toys nowadays where you end up playing on them rather than do useful productive things like blog all day long....

No.214 Avatar & Other Things Quite Unreal

I saw Avatar over the weekend. It was nearly a great film but lacked plot/storyline. The special effects however truly are exceptional. Its use of 3D actually added to the film rather than being at all gimmicky when you spend half the time dodging all the spears and arrows coming out at you from the screen.

I had to fight today to get in the pool at 7.15a.m. for the body was not willing and the spirit was still in bed. I did 20 lengths blunder bus speed and crawled out pretending it hadn't happened.

On the subject of not buses but trains I was on the train the other day and overheard the following conversation between two people working as waitresses :

First Person : "Anyway this table said to me what would you recommend and I felt like saying well how should I know I'm the waitress not the chef"

Second Person : "Yeh you should have done. Did yeh?"

Customer service and passion for what you do - still a bit to go me thinks?

Saturday, 9 January 2010

No.213 Of Public Enemies

Salt hey? It used to be public enemy No.1. Now we just can't get enough of it or so it seems. According to the radio this morning flat soled shoes are not as safe as those with heels. Personally I thought it was tread/grip that counts.

Radio today is not what it used to be. In the good old days (when times hadn't changed lad - hear the Yorkshire accent if you will) a radio DJ would talk to you the listener. Now the listener eavesdrops in on a conversation between the DJ and another DJ, the Newsreader who doesn't appear to want to let go her spot at the top of the hour, a weather forecaster who thinks her moment has come or Sally bloomin Traffic. I was listening to Stuart Maconie and Mark Radcliffe the other night on the way home. I like both of these broadcasters but why put them together when they're truly awful and spend far too much time talking and bigging up each other's none intresting banter? People used to complain about Tony Blackburn (and rightly so) but he wouldn't let anyone near his show. He threw in a whole lot of unpc humour but played an awful lot of really good music. May be there was just more good music around in his day.

So much to ponder....

Friday, 8 January 2010

No.212 Of Masochism in all its forms

Oh there's pain to be had in our new gym at the moment. That Ab Kind Pro machine really gets to your stomach muscles. Add to this that the temperature in the gym at 7.30a.m., was about - 4 and you really come out feeling you hate yourself.

Loads of meetings today including one with a guy who claims he can teach creativity! Now this promises to be interesting. I'm still reading "Unlimited Power" by Anthony Robbins. I can't make it out. It's either utter brilliance or complete tripe. I'm meeting a performance coach today and will ask her whether she likes tripe.

I'm wondering if it is tripe actually that first led me to consider being a vegetarian at the age of about 8. My Mum used to eat it when we visited my Gran's in Chester. They used buy it fresh from the market and spoon it in raw with lashing of vinegar! Ehhhhh!

Bring on the weekend...

Monday, 4 January 2010

No.211 Of Mr Argos & Mr Roger Black

I woke at 6.30a.m. today contemplating one of my New Year Resolutions to get fit again, the cold swimming pool that awaited just 30 minutes or so ahead and any plausible excuse not to do it. It came at 7a.m. with a phone call. "Mr. Where's Legal-Island? Is it an industrial estate?" It was the delivery man from Argos. And he like so many others looking for us was lost. I gave him directions promised there'd be somebody there to let him in in half an hour and shot to work. The pool will still be there tomorrow after all.

Mr Argos Man was delivering a Roger Black exercise bike for the gym. Wasn't Roger Black a runner not a cyclist? May be he trained on a bike. Anyway the contraption has arrived making up number two of four torture units we have planned for the gym. We await the cross trainer and a punch bag - the latter of which is likely to have all sorts of therapeutic uses me thinks particularly in a month in which we have company appraisals.

The team is back today. Some have had a two week break. Others 3 or 4. One has had 6 months. Bring it on say I. It should be good.

Saturday, 2 January 2010

No. 210 Of Rubbishing Classics

Ehhh. Why don't I listen to my friends? Why did I go see the latest Sherlock Holmes movie when everyone I had talked to had assured me it was rubbish?

Sherlock Holmes a bare knuckle champion fighter for heavens sakes? Sherlock Holmes a dirty unhygienic slob? I don't think so. Who is Hollywood going to misrepresent next week I wonder?

Currently I'm reading "The Mind Gym". It's interesting but seems to fly in the face of what a lot of experts (certainly those in Neurology) say about how the brain functions and how you can keep it in shape. All very confusing....

Friday, 1 January 2010

No.209 Of New Year Resolutions

The New Year hey? The time when we make new resolutions and break them before the week is out.

So here are mine :

* Read more and watch less T.V. I'd be inclined to jettison the T.V. bit altogether only I would miss the really good stuff which is to be found if you scan the programme listings closely enough. And how would I have survived last year without classic T.V moments like Sue Boyle rocking the XFactor?

* Surround myself by positive people. Cut out the negative ones. Best advice anyone can give themselves..

* Stay fit. Yes another 12 months of fitting off the flab is called for. This must involve a combination of running to work, swimming and using Legal-Island's new gym as soon as it opens. Come on Legal-Island my festive flab is grinning at you.

* Visit London more. Once a month. That's 12 times this year. That sounds good. Really good.

On another subject completely, I was listening to the BBC World Service today. It was interesting. They were interviewing young people in Shrewsbury who were unemployed. The journalist made the point that they appeared completely despondent and very negative. He said that he's interviewed teenagers in other countries where the unemployment rate is 60% and higher but not discovered such negativity. I guess his point was that you more or less choose the mood you want to be in and your best chance of getting out of a situation is to believe you can do it. May be like me he's just been reading Tony Robbin's book "The Power Within". Big stuff that .