Sunday, 29 April 2012

Of Great and Painful Times

I've just spent a great weekend in London. As always I packed it all in - everything from St Paul's and the ballet to opera and Kensington Palace not to mention a visit to Battersea Dogs' Home. The highlight for me however, was a little gem of a museum that seems hardly known to anyone. It's called The Old Operating Theatre at London Bridge. It was here until 1846 that surgeons operated without anaethestics to perform all sorts of operations often in front of a packed house of medical students.
Surgeons apparently washed their hands more often after surgery than before and began operations in overalls caked in blood from previous outings . Not only does the museum feature the operations theatre as it was way back then but also countless artefacts from those days of medi-horror. Included in the display cabinets is an array of saws and knifes as well as a surgeon's walking stick. This still bears the teeth marks of patients who were given nothing more than the stick to bite on to help get them through a legal amputation.

Wednesday, 25 April 2012

Of Farewell to Phyllis

Legal-Island said goodbye on Monday to a lovely lady and the best PA I've ever had. Phyllis had decided to call it a day and to retire finally after giving to the company four great years of service.
Phyllis was wonderfully discreet she kept me well on the road and was so patient in tidying up all the mess I invariably left behind me.
It is often said that behind every great man there's a great woman. I wouldn't dare say I was a great man but I'd be the first and the last to say she's a great woman.
Phyllis we'll miss you!

Sunday, 22 April 2012

Of a Canoe for Two

 I was canoeing most of yesterday. I went with a friend, also called Barry as part of our training for our 3 day canoe expedition from Lough Neagh to Castlerock on the north coast of Northern Ireland. It was cold, wet and windy but surprisingly good fun.
The other Barry has been canoeing before and so have I. The only thing is that last time I went my canoe sank. Fortuitously it went down right outside a pub and we were able to sit in the warmth in our wet suits sipping guinness as we awaited our lift home.
Today we're practicising our capsize drill. Somehow I don't think it will be a wasted day.

Tuesday, 17 April 2012

Of Brain Rules

I've just been reading a book about the brain. It's called "Brain Rules - Principles for surviving and thriving at work, home and school" by John Medina.
From it I've gleaned the following points :

1. Physical exercise boosts brain power. To be smarter incorporate some physical movements in your meetings and work schedule. Application: One-to-one meetings on two exercise bikes? We move half way through a meeting?
2. Human beings are the smartest species not the strongest. To prosper form good relationships with others. Application: good HR structures critical. Test for stress. Devise welfare at work programme
3. Vision is the most powerful sense by a long way. Incorporate more pictures into what you're/learning teaching.
Application: Powerpoint slides go for pictures in preference to bullet points or mix both
4. Emotions always get our attention - if you want to keep people's attention interject some elements that will engage the emotions. This may be story telling or something.
Application: Introductions to our seminars in the TC start off with story or anecdote?
5. The best way to get a point across is to provide context or key idea first then the detail. Application: Introducing new item into company. Start with context. Then follow with details.

Monday, 16 April 2012

Of Few but Wise Words

Andrew Marr got it so right yesterday when he said "let's hope that next time the sinking of the Titanic will be marked by a very very dry historian".

Friday, 13 April 2012

Of King Kiva

Occasionally you come by a site which really excites you. This happened to me last week. It's called Kiva.Kiva follows the principles of third world aid first popularised by Nobel Prize Winner Mohamed Yunus. Yunus claims that the way to help third world countries is by giving out small loans rather than handouts. Loans he claims encourage entrepreneurship and a business spirit which will lift people, communities and countries out of poverty. Handouts encourage dependency and achieve little except donor gratification.
Kiva is a great site.It allows you to lend as little as $25 to individuals dotted around the world all of whom want money for a business venture.Not only does this provide them with an opportunity to start or grow their business but it allows you to help out again once the money is repaid. And here's the rub. The repayment rate is an astonishing 98.90%. This is a rate the every high street bank in the West would be proud of I'm sure.
So rather than hand out a small amount of cash you'll never see again Kiva allows you to give it in the form of a loan and for the money to keep tumbling forward onto one project after another.Top stuff.

Wednesday, 11 April 2012

Of Titanic Disasters

The world seems to have gone Titanic mad at the moment. You could almost call it hysteria. You open a newspaper or magazine and it's about the Titanic. Put on the radio and it's all about the Titanic. Switch on the T.V and there's a news report about descendants of its passengers travelling out to the spot where the Titanic sank exactly one hundred years ago.

It's almost like regions of the UK and elsewhere are now competing to be most closely associated with the disaster. Belfast has a loud shout because it is here that the vessel was created (though as the joke goes there's a sign on the wall of the Harland and Wolf docks that reads "Titanic -well it was alright when it left here"). Queensland in Cork feels a strong connection with the ship for it was the first port of call for the vessel after leaving Belfast. Southampton has a strong connect to the disaster too because over 500 of the fatalities were from that part of England; many of them crew. Cherbourg in France no doubt is making the most of its role in the ship's first and only voyage being the last port of call before she headed out into the Atlantic and to tragedy.

A friend of mine in Moscow (which, I assume lays no claim to the Titanic story) says she can't understand the clamour to be connected with such a terrible incident and neither can I. So how do you explain it? Is it our morbid fascination with death? Partly. Is it our ability to profit from a clear business opportunity that no longer appears distasteful now that any survivors have since died. Partly. But maybe too we all like, or at least need, to be reminded that however clever we become as human beings we're still vulnerable to nature and quite insignificant alongside it even when in great numbers andprotected by something considered to be impregnable.

Friday, 6 April 2012

Of Web Tools

So here we go, five web site tools I have been investigating recently all of which look promising :

* - this allows you to keep all your travel details in one place. I'm still test driving it but early results are encouraging.
* - this is like a giant notice board in the sky which anyone with access details can use. Emm like it.
* Evernote - a great piece of software which allows you to store lots of information including websites in once at the click of a button
* - the more I use this site the more I like it. It's so easy to use for posting up a webpage or website quickly and without too much pain.
* Amazom Mechanical Turk - I'm still investigating this site but its crowd sourcing facility seems astonishing

Wednesday, 4 April 2012

Of Crowd Sourcing

I attended the third of Professor Tucci's innovation seminars yesterday. This one was on crowd sourcing and was dizzingly thought provoking.
I picked up the following key points I thought I'd share now :

* is useful helping you put all your travel details in one place. You can list friends and find out where they are travelling to, if of course, they have joined the site too.
* Google image labeller is interesting. Go to the site and when you login you are partnered with someone else also just logged in. You are both given an image to describe using your own key words. If you use many of the words used by your partner you are given a high ranking. It's billed as a load of fun but has a clever alternative purpose. Google uses the key words entered as tags for the images used on the Internet.
* Project Gutenberg is fascinating. This encourages people to type up old out of print books which they then publish online. When you go to some websites you are required to type in two words allegedly to prove you're a human. But one of these words is from the Gutenberg project. When you type in that word it is used in one of their books.

Nothing is what it seems anymore.