Books and babies: remarkably similar

Babies and booksBooks and babies: remarkably similar? Some may take offence at this comparison, but as you can do with all my posts, if you don’t like it, please move on.
This morning, on my way to work I was feeling a little low and it didn’t take me long to put my finger on the problem, as I will explain at the end of this piece.
So why are books and babies similar? Let’s compare the cycle required to achieve both.

Conception

For most, this is a pleasurable experience, whether producing babies or books the conception is an exciting time, (we’ll not go into details here as there are plenty of books and videos on the subject elsewhere, especially about making babies!) From the writer’s point of view, the formulation of an idea to the point of it being viable gives a lift to the spirit. As for the other form of conception, well, you are all adults, so feel free to form your own conclusions. What is one partially sleepless night for the parents becomes the start of a whole period of sleeplessness for the author.

Gestation

Although the process is similar in that this is the period when both babies and books develop, there is a major difference. The gestation period for babies is pretty much fixed per species; not so for books. This can be anything from a matter of weeks to an entire lifetime. Other than that, the similarities are remarkable; developing from an embryonic state to a fully developed being.

Pre-natal

This is when all the planning takes place. For babies we think of names, decide what to buy in the way of clothes, toys, buggies, cots etc., how to decorate the nursery and choose where to have the birth. For books, we think of names, how to decorate the cover, decide where to advertise to spread the word, and choose where to have the launch.

Birth

Panic time! We are now in the period where all rational thought has gone outBabies and books are both born of the window. For a mother it is a time of excitement overshadowed by physical pain and anxiety; anxiety for the baby’s health and well-being – the father, well, at this point he is usually a gibbering wreck. An author experiences a similar excitement to the mother but is unlikely to be going through physical pain at this point. There will undoubtedly be anxiety and just as the mother will be feeling, the author will also have an overwhelming desire for it to end. The author will be a gibbering wreck, just like the father.

Post-natal

The baby has arrived, mother and baby are doing well and bonding already. The book is on the shelves, people are buying and the reviews coming in.
Then bam! For the mother, post-natal depression rears its ugly head and she has a difficult time. Not surprising as she has been on quite an emotional rollercoaster and now all the fuss has died down. And this is where the writer and mother differ. Our post-natal depression comes at the end of the pre-natal stage, once the book is as polished as you are ever going to make it and it is ready for its first public appearance. That’s when our spirits drop as the realisation hits, there is no more to do on this book.

That is where I am today. Watch this space!

Around the World in Eighty Dishes.

No babies here, just cookbooks

Time – Is time really money?

Hourglass - time
By User:S Sepp – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=2949887

Time – we all know what it is, or do we? Try to define time and you may find yourself struggling, yet it appears in our everyday conversations. Examine some of the sayings about time and you start to get an uneasy feeling that we don’t really have a grasp of it – not yet, anyway.

For instance, when we do things to save time, where are we actually putting that time we save? Is there some sort of time bank where we can keep it for a rainy day? Clearly, the phrase isn’t meant to convey that message, we are merely shortening a process to … well … spend less time doing it.

There we go again! Spending time, as though it is some sort of cosmic currency stored in the Universe equivalent of Fort Knox. On the other hand, humans are notorious for wasting time. When asked what he had done with all his money, George Best famously said, he’d spent it on drink and women – the rest he wasted. Is that what we do with time, squander it on trivialities?

Sean Carroll, a theoretical physicist at Caltech is trying to understand time. He points out, time has a direction, which is why we can remember the past, but not the future. But time doesn’t have a size. We might think it does because we divide our days up into little parcels. It makes it easier for us when we can point to a specific point in time and give it a name. However, time is not constant throughout the universe, or even on our own planet – something that is perhaps a little deep for a small blog post.

White Rabbit - never on time - Lewis CarrollComing back to humans, I think we all know people who never have enough time, for them there are just not enough of those convenient parcels in another arbitrary period. Then there are people, like Seumas Gallacher, who are able to manipulate time in such a way, they never run out of it and can achieve any amount of work in a given time period. I once worked out his timetable and came to the conclusion he has a thirty-six-hour day.

Or maybe he knows the whereabouts of the time bank and is making withdrawals. He was a banker after all, and you know what they say – time is money.

 

I was born under a wandering…fish?

Ill manIt has been several weeks since I posted anything on the blog. Whilst illness was the initial cause of my absence, I must confess sheer laziness and a lack of subject matter were the more recent causes.

At breakfast this morning, my wife was reading a newspaper, not something she does frequently, but on this occasion, it turned out to be somewhat fortuitous, as I now have a subject for a blog post.

As she turned the page, a headline caught my eye, ‘A Fish Called Wander.’ Whilst an obvious play on the name of the film, the content of the article proved to be interesting.

I’m not going to get into the evolution/creationism debate, but suffice to say I believe we climbed out of the primordial soup around 3.8 billion years ago, give or take a few millennia. Over millions of years we evolved into the magnificent specimens that you see before you, every time you look in the mirror; masters of all we survey and guardians of the planet…ok, I’ll come back to that one in a moment.

Sir David Attenborough, who has been on the planet a fair amount of time himself, long may it continue, presents one of the Broken Biscuit Corporations better offerings, Blue Planet II.  Not a flashback to the decorating programmes of the late nineties and early noughts,  the programme celebrates the amazing diversity of life on earth.

What caused me to read this article was the revelation that Sir David’s teamFish with legs had found a species of fish that had evolved to use its pectoral fins as feet and could walk along the bottom.

Although I am of a certain age, I am not old enough to remember when life first emerged from the oceans, but I am fairly sure it would be in a way similar to how this fish has evolved. Now, given the state of the planet under our guardianship… I told you I would come back to this… and the fact there are many who would rather put profit before planet, I couldn’t help wondering if we are witnessing the emergence of a new master race. One which perhaps understands that money isn’t real, you can’t eat it and the accumulation of wealth beyond a certain amount is pointless.

You have been warned, A Fish Called Wander is coming to a beach near you.

If you enjoyed this post, why not register to access subscriber pages, receive newsletters, be the first to see cover reveals, win prizes and much more? 

Subscribe!

DNA – Digging for New Ancestors

The internet is full of adverts for DNA testing. At first I thought this was as a result of yet more government cutbacks and we were now being told to solve even the most serious crimes ourselves. It seems this is not the case, but a new craze doing the rounds, to find your ‘roots.’

DNA double helix
By brian0918™ – Own work, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=404735

Clearly, I don’t mean the roots that are a different colour to the rest of your hair, but your ancestors, forefathers, call them what you will. They are the people without whom you would not be reading this, because you wouldn’t exist.

These DNA kits are guaranteed to give you results. Whether they are the right results is the subject of much debate. Now, clearly these kits are not to CSI standard. To start with, you don’t get to arrive in a Chevy Suburban, nor do you get a fancy jacket to wear while taking the sample. And from all accounts, their accuracy can be a bit hit and miss; even the providers will admit to their being some latitude in the results. So, if yours come back stating you are fifty-five percent orang-utan, twenty-percent blue whale, and twenty-five percent Wensleydale Cheese, don’t be surprised. Apparently, the secret is to shop around and not use the first one you come across.

Have I used one of these kits to determine my ancestry? No, you see, I don’t need to. My family name is traceable back to its origin, so it is said.

One Wyon de Maryons, follower of William de Warrene Earl of Surrey, who came to England with William the Conqueror and fought at the battle of Hastings in 1066, was given the village of Stansfield, in what is now West Yorkshire, as recognition for his support for the King. He took the title Lord Stansfield and it is from there the family name originates. My own birthplace is not too far from the village, but on the proper side of the border; I am a Lancastrian!

I am sure there will be some of you who doubt my story, despite the extensive documentation, so I therefore offer you this evidence of my heritage, taken shortly after the battle…

…it’s on Facebook, it must be true.

Viking Family

If you enjoyed this post, why not register to access subscriber pages, receive newsletters, be the first to see cover reveals, win prizes and much more? 

Subscribe!

Adult advisory – for the easily offended

*Adult content* – well…almost.

Sometimes, you will catch sight of something and it will stop you in your tracks. A couple of days ago, this happened to me. The something in question was a TV clip my wife was watching on the internet and I must say it left us both a little – well – confused.

The program from which the clip originated, is a daytime TV chat show from the UK, and often features subjects such as cooking, medical issues and any items of general interest to the viewer.

Now, we didn’t see the full interview, but I have read a transcript and it makes me a little uncomfortable. On the studio couch sat a man and a doll. We are not talking about a child’s toy here, but a full-size replica of a human female and Ithink you can already guess where we are going here. The doll is a sex toy.

Surprised emoticon

As was pointed out by one of the presenters, most toys of this type are capable of being hidden away in a drawer, or at the back of the wardrobe. And this is where it gets weird. Samantha, as she is known, is not just your average inflatable, highly surprised looking, adult toy, she is a fully functioning robot.  Can you imagine the shock of finding a female body hanging among the shirts?

She has a repertoire of jokes, can discuss animals with the children and is capable of discourse on philosophy or science (not to mention intercourse on the kitchen table – sorry, couldn’t resist.)  She is programmed to be part of the family. Yes, you did read that right, the designer believes she is part of the family.

Apparently, his children, aged five and three, already ask where she is and his wife is totally comfortable with her being around. They even had fun in the car on the way to the studio – okay, we are not going anywhere with that one.

Duracell Bunny
By Source (WP:NFCC#4), Fair use, https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?curid=48645665

Personally, I think it is like having your mistress out in

the open, but the designer believes times are a-changing and this type of thing will become more acceptable.

If he is correct and these robots become a part of our daily life, even a simple form will have to change with the addition of ‘with robot’ to marital status, and

programmable.’ to any gender questions.

Of course, it isn’t up to me to judge, so all I can say is, if in the future, a neighbour asks if you have seen her rabbit, it might be worthwhile clarifying things before answering.

If you enjoyed this post, why not register to access subscriber pages, receive newsletters, be the first to see cover reveals, win prizes and much more?

Subscribe!

 

Sixty – going on twenty-five

When I was twenty-one years old (some four or five years ago…if you believe that, would you like to buy a used car? One careful lady owner, never raced or rallied,) it seemed to be that anyone reaching sixty years of age could be considered to have had a good innings. Let’s face it, once you reach that age you’re past your prime, physically and mentally, ready to be put out to pasture Old Man in a Bath Chairand see out your last couple of years in a bath chair, covered with a blanket, living in a world of your own, right?

On the twenty-fourth of June, I had what they call a significant birthday. As far as I’m concerned, all birthdays are significant because it means I’m still alive, but this was one of the biggies, apparently. I have reached the age I once considered to be the turning point, and you know what? It is.

I am not ready for the bath chair just yet, although my joints ache enough for me to consider one; it’s too hot here to be covered with a tissue, let alone a blanket, and my wife would tell you I already live in a little world of my own, but mentally I don’t think I have ever gone past the age of twenty-five. Combine that with another thirty-five years’ experience of living on this planet and you have a pretty awesome combination; experience and youth.

No longer how I imagine sixty years of ageI will continue with my writing, which like me, can only improve with age, I will continue to have an opinion, tempered with experience meaning I won’t necessarily voice it (who am I kidding?) and I feel ready to take on the world.

Does that mean I’m not ready for retirement in a few years’ time? You bet, I’m ready, but retirement for me will mean having the time to do all those things I don’t have time to do now, because someone expects me to turn up every day to work for them (okay, I need the money too.) I have a list as long as your arm of things to be done and they are just the ones my wife has waiting for me, but I’m not ready to be put out to pasture, not by a long chalk.

Sixty is no longer the new forty, it’s the new twenty-five; I say so.

 

If you enjoyed this post, why not register to access subscriber pages, receive newsletters, be the first to see cover reveals, win prizes and much more?
Subscribe!
Shop Now!

What a Hullaba..loo

As both my readers know by now, I am constantly trawling the news sites for snippets which are worthy of inclusion in this esteemed literary masterpiece (okay, it’s a tatty old blog, but my first version sounds far better.)

Once again, the famous news site, run by the Broken Biscuit Company, has come to my aid in finding something on which to comment.

Man on a toiletNow, we Brits have always found both embarrassment and humour in the most basic of bodily functions, number ones and twos, tinkles and poos, call it what you will, but there is a love-hate relationship with the process that every human, and indeed living creature on this planet must go through, the excretion of waste.

We all know a least one person who delights in the passing of gas at the most inappropriate times, and another who never seems to visit a toilet, ever, but it would appear embarrassment far outweighs entertainment for many people, regarding all matters toilet.

Renowned for being something of a reserved nation, I thought the Brits would be at the top of the league in this department, but according to the article I read, the Swedes are up there too. What we sometimes refer to as schoolboy humour isn’t at all humorous to schoolboys after all.

One town has come up with an idea to drown out the nefarious sounds of the

Brass Band
This may be a common sight in toilets in the future..
By NawlinWiki at English Wikipedia, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=3960443

loo by installing music in the school toilets. It seems that both primary and senior high school students are loath to use the loo for fear of being overheard.

According to Centre Party Councillor Cecilia Cato, in the town of Tingsryd, some children are so concerned that they refuse to use the toilet all day. She suggested the musical solution to the local council.

“I don’t think it’s just about number two on the toilet, but many also don’t do number one,” Ms. Cato said.

I just wonder about the choice of music. Would that be left to the individual concerned, depending on their circumstances? On occasion, I have been in public toilets when the person concerned would probably require Tchaikovsky’s 1812 Overture, complete with cannons and for some, maybe Korsakov’s Flight of the Bumble Bee would find favour. Then of course there is Handel’s Water Music….perhaps I should leave it right there.

If you enjoyed this post, why not register to access subscriber pages, receive newsletters, be the first to see cover reveals, win prizes and much more? 

Subscribe!

 

Situation Vacant: Waste Management Specialist – (Extra-terrestrial)

Photo Credit: NASA

Ever since I was a child, I have had an interest in space exploration. Growing up at the same time as the Apollo missions was a magical experience. I was immensely disappointed when the programme was cut short and I couldn’t understand why the average person could not see the benefits that space exploration brings, not only to life on earth, but for the future of humanity which ultimately will have to move off this planet.

As I write this wee blether, several projects are on the go with the idea of sending people to Mars. NASA intends to set up a kind of base camp to support future missions, while Elon Musk and SpaceX have an eye on colonising Mars in the future, but in the meantime, intend to have crews spend time on the planet before being rotated back to earth. A Dutch project, on the other hand, promotes the idea this should be a one-way mission, with people signing up to live permanently on the red planet.

Now, this got me thinking (run for cover!) There are individuals on earth whose sole interest is making money. They don’t care how they do it, what harm it does to the environment, who it hurts in the process, or they have reached the point where making any more personal wealth is pointless. Making money is the focus of their lives.

Then there are a number of politicians who only have an interest in furthering their careers, not serving the people they were elected to serve (did your careers officer ever mention to you that ‘politician’ could be considered a job? I know mine didn’t.) There are very few politicians who could say, no fellow humans were harmed in the making of this career.

Suggested use of first deep space mission

And what about the death and destruction caused by armed conflicts, still happening over one-hundred years since the start of the war to end all wars? We didn’t learn our lesson then and we are still not learning it. I saw a meme on the internet the other day, Once, weapons were manufactured to fight wars. Now we manufacture wars to sell weapons.

The world is in a dire state, so I have an idea. Space exploration is vital to the future of the species, but could we not make the first few extra-terrestrial missions a sort of garbage disposal run and send the politicians, arms manufacturers, unethical business men and anyone else who cares not a jot about his fellow man, on a one-way trip to another world? It would make this one a much better place.

Nominations on a postcard please, to the usual address.

Tree Fellers Wanted….Only One Found

I was engaged in my third favourite occupation the other day, browsing that well known news site run by the Broken Biscuit Company (no, I am not telling you the first two!) when I came across a little piece about a van driver; not a white van for once, but a blue one…well, blue when you could see it.

Brings a whole new meaning

This enterprising (not quite sure if that is the word I should use about him, as you will see in a minute,) young chappie came up with what he thought was an ideal solution to his problem and gave a new meaning to a road sign many of us are familiar with.

Now, as is often the case in these situations, he didn’t quite think it through. Like many people, he set about the task entirely focussed on what he needed to achieve, without considering the wider implications of what he was doing. The task? To take a newly felled tree and transport it somewhere else. We are not talking mighty oak or Californian redwood here, but what looks to be a leylandii that may have got a little too big for its boots, or the owner’s garden.

Whether this chappie was the feller (sorry about the pun) who cut down this tree, or whether he saw an opportunity to grab himself a bit of timber, I don’t know, but I do know what you should do to avoid making the same mistakes.

First and foremost, don’t do the equivalent of the male thing with the shopping; you know what I mean. It doesn’t matter how many bags there are in the car, they are coming in the house in one go, even if the circulation of several of your digits will take days to recover, you are not making a second trip. If this is what you are going to do with a tree, you will either need to make more than one journey or use something substantially larger than the average Transit van; here is the vehicular equivalent of the loss of circulation in your

The Police were looking for tree fellers, but only one was found. Photo: BCH Road Policing

fingers.

Secondly, if you insist on overloading your vehicle, then avoid driving it through the town centre disguised as a small forest because it is

probably going to attract a bit of attention if you do, and indeed, the Sherriff of Nottingham (sorry, Hatfield), in the form of Her Majesty’s Constabulary, duly noted the arboreal expedition and decided to investigate.

And finally, should you still be contemplating ignoring the advice above and do it anyway, you should perhaps ensure you have the relevant driving documents in place to present to said Sherriff for inspection. This gentleman had a provisional licence and should have been accompanied, but perhaps his designated supervisor was at another branch.

I suspect the only trees this chap is going to be carrying in the near future are bonsais in a basket, on his bicycle.

To the loo

To The Loo

This year, my wife and I were lucky enough to stay in a hotel over Christmas, not something we are in a habit of doing as we feel that staff should not have to work Christmas day, but as we are in a country where it is a normal working day, we decided to splash out.

It was a refreshing change to have someone else worry about cooking the Christmas dinner, and I must say the quality of food on offer was superb. I could write for days about the food and the hotel but this is not what I want to bring to your attention today. No, today’s post is about the toilets. Yes, you read that right, the toilets. A place we prefer to keep hidden, don’t like to talk about and are often embarrassed by.

This hotel is one of the top brands in Bahrain, and indeed well up there with competition in the rest of the world, so if you expect marble floors and gleaming counter-tops, you would not be disappointed, but it was in the cubicles that things became a little surreal.

Now, I have to get a little personal here, it’s unavoidable given the subject matter. The first thing I noticed was the seat was warm. Not the sort of warm you get from the previous occupant’s derriere, but the warmth that comes from electricity passing along a cable. People tell me water and electricity don’t get on, but in my experience electricity absolutely adores water and will spread all over it at every opportunity, so it makes me slightly nervous when something so clearly electrical is in such close proximity to water and my backside.

The next thing of note was the panel located on the wall to my left – a control panel. I don’t know about you, but the only control I have encountered before in a toilet has been a means of flushing, not a selection of buttons, each marked with a different function. A closer inspection of said panel revealed a choice of Front Cleansing, Rear Cleansing and Dryer.

At this juncture, I should say things we regard as household appliances in the west, such as dishwasher, coffee maker and potato peeler, tend to be job titles in the Middle-East. So, it was with some trepidation I tried the button marked Rear Cleansing, half expecting a team to dash in with a bucket and squeegee. Fortunately, this did not occur but what did happen was almost as much of a shock. All I can say is, if the laser guided weapons of this world are half as accurate, then there should never be collateral damage. The jet of water, warm though it was, hit the target with such accuracy I almost left the cubicle. It took several seconds of shock for me to realise there was also a Stop button, which I duly pressed.

Of course, being an engineer I had to try the button marked Front Cleansing, in the interests of science that it is, and this is where the difference between men and women becomes apparent. The jet of water came from the same source, but this time applied with a slight change in angle. My wife assures me that with a little wriggling, it is possible to get the water on target, however, for a male this is not so easy, having, shall we say, certain appendages in the way, and no amount of wriggling is going to allow the water past them. Fortunately, I’m happy to report the drier was able to cope with the now drowned appendages.

My design for an improved version is now complete and on its way to the manufacturer, who I assume only employ female staff, or is an alien enterprise. I look forward to trying the modifications soon