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how to share - toddler style

How to share … plus table tennis, babies, food and talk

Babies and talk

When it’s not always raining … there’ll be days like this. Van Morrison

how to share - toddler style

how to share – are the big people watching?

Some days are wonderful, like yesterday. We met in a place called AKVA at Fountainbridge in Edinburgh. Continue reading

Arran Morning

Scottish Beauty: antidote to a harsh money-focused world

Scottish Beauty

The noblest prospect which a Scotchman ever sees, is the high road that leads him to England! Samuel Johnson

If you’ve ever known unhappiness, how will you know you’re happy?

How wonderful when dreich, cold-damp mornings metamorphose into bright, warm and sunny afternoons. We are thrice blessed when there’s no shabby weather at all.

Fellow traveller in a harsh money-focused world

Yesterday was a case in point. Heading for meeting in the Scottish Borders from my beloved East Neuk of Fife, I travelled by train.

fellow travellerNext to me, a young man sat somehow screwed-up against the window. Knotted  in his unnatural foetal position my fantasies about his situation were all bad.

I started to imagine what must have befallen him:

  • drug overdose
  • severe stomach bug
  • thrown out of home
  • escaped from a secure unit … from suicide watch
  • newly bereaved
  • aghast at the thought of having to make conversation with an old stager

Later, I learned his situation in an unexpected way.

Beautiful city

Edinburgh Waverley Station is a grand place to change trains, the more so on a glorious day. There was time to spare, so I scaled the Waverley Steps and took a video panorama of the Royal Mile and Edinburgh Castle.

 

Beautiful borderlands

Back on the train, I found a seat facing forwards and set-off on the recently rebuilt rail line to Tweedbank. If you ever get the chance, take it. Samuel Johnson was wrong, for there are equally noble prospects along high roads … without having to leave Scotland – here is proof:

My tragic young man … journey’s end

At Galashiels, I saw my young man get off the train. We’d travelled together farther than we knew. In his scruffy, ill-fitting clothes, he rushed into the arms of lovely young woman with a dog. Their happiness was as bright as the day, and I knew, whatever happened next, today is as good as it gets.

Many more todays for us all, please.

© Mac Logan

7 principles in the Brexit Isles

UK Olympic Success is Our Success – whatever next? Can our politicians be olympian?

“Politics is the art of looking for trouble, finding it everywhere, diagnosing it incorrectly and applying the wrong remedies.” ― Groucho Marx

Olympic success – honed capability, commitment and ultimate success

Imagine our leaders could master similar performance development techniques to our hugely successful Olympians.

Aren’t you proud? I am. We have utterly committed athletes all willing to do the hard yards for years, and finally: they achieve results that meet or exceeded all expectations.

Why did it happen?

The list could include, for example:

  • strong personal commitment
  • clear goals and high focus
  • professional expertise within the team
  • proper measurement, recording, and fact based decision making (no unfounded NHS policy)
  • the best of support (including money)
  • results everyone can see

Visible success

ego powerThe evidence of performance is there for us all to see in the gold medals, our gold medals. All came from the joint efforts of everyone involved.

If former Prime Minister, John Major gets the credit for starting this off, well and good.

Now, at last we have a formula for our leaders to follow, lucky souls, the principles of: clear goals, understanding everything involved in attaining performance (no lies), becoming better than anyone else and put your performance on the line for the world to see.

Coverup, half-truth, spin – these words don’t even make the cut.

Speaking of politics and our politicians

Can our political leadership be Olympian? Signs are destructive energy and egotism is still not entirely focused on making the best of the UK.

If only our country could prosper on ego power alone. Whatever we think of the state of play at Westminster, these people must produce the goods for the UK.

When Olympians fail …

They don’t get medals. Their coaches get fired. What pressure. How brave and ambitious our winners are. The courage to train year after year with a single focus for success.

When Olympians Suceed

They are lauded and many receive honours and awards … not to mention lucrative sponsorship … some can even trademark their name. Failure means little, no medal, no admittance to the pantheon of stars and celebrity … and continued thankless graft.

Olympian task: Brexit

Brexit success will define the UK for decades to come. Personally, I no longer care about the win/lose result of the referendum, that was one for the Spurious.The politics of SPLIF

 

I care about the outcome, the result. How do we pull an incredible outcome for the UK from the Westminster Olympians? And therein, in this time of Olympic celebration is it wrong to expect them to raise the bar (not the House of Commons alcohol outlets) and apply the Seven Principles of Public Life or SPLIF.

How can we help these people, our leaders who want only the best for us, to measure up?

Dare to dream

Imagine, our PM stands up in parliament and says, “honourable members we are now absolutely clear about what the EU does and doesn’t mean for Great Britain.

“The absolute facts about the EU situation are as follows …”

She proceeds to tell the truth about: immigration, the NHS, education, the single market … and goes on to share a clear, fact based strategy and timeframe …

… And next explains the true situation about: the living wage, the losses to the UK due to ‘Fraud and Error’ not only welfare and benefits, but also the huge amounts involving tax evasion, contractual cheating (remember the prisoner tagging?) and so on, to name but a few.

She finishes by notifying the House that 27 bankers have been arrested for complicity in the 2008 crash. And, to put a cherry on the top, she reports that the banking community will repay £300 billion towards the QE bill, implement Ethical Professionalism as promised and implement a not-watered-down banking charter.

In my dreams?

Maybe. I make no apologies for dreaming for my family, friends and fellow citizens.

© Mac Logan

 

Semi-Colonic Irritation

Semi-Colonic Irritation?

Don’t you dare shout friend or enema at me!

Semi-colonic IrritationYou read it right, semi-colonic irritation, or perhaps more accurately semi-colonic anguish.

This is a writers rant and not about adding fluid to the innards via devious means. Besides, I prefer drinking something tasty when it comes to adding liquid to my body. Thus far, my liver and kidneys have been up to the task of cleansing my inner self and long may it continue.

If you must have a fluid read?

Must you insist on knowing more about the biological issues? Okay, I’ll give you a wee section:

Monty Python did a piece on the history of colonic irrigation. It doesn’t offer much information, but at least it’s a start.

If you must have more detail, here’s an article about alternative methods for the intake of fluid, with many comments attached. This offers further insight. I hope you’ll forgive me if this post provides less than you hoped for.

May Google favour you with the information you seek, and I wish you the full flush of success in your investigations.

From the throes discovery

A while back I discovered the semicolon. What excitement. There I was with a new thingy and somewhere to use it. Boy, I was going to strut my grammatical stuff, and impress the writing world. Semicolons erupted in my fiction. Imagine, 200,000+ words of prose, punctuated with my newfound favourite.

Bitter pill

Picture the emperor’s face when he discovered his new clothes for what they were. Of course, it isn’t always something your best friends will tell you. Such was the case for me.

An excellent author read one of my books. He told me I write well and, as my ego began to howl with delight, added these words:

Lose the semi-colons. Every single one of them. Don’t believe me? Pick up books by guys like Lee Child, Harlan Coben, Michael Connelly, James Lee Burke, John Sandford, John Harvey, Martin Cruz Smith. Read a whole chapter. Count how many semi-colons you encounter.  Every single one can be removed and its sentence re-written with little effort, to make sentences that flow better and make a LOT more sense.

Watery eyed, I stared another revision in the face … a feeling akin, perhaps, to a novice mountaineer standing below the North Face of the Eiger.

Are semicolons like the Appendix?

My appendix causes me less trouble than semicolons. Of course, the appendix is useless. They talked of removing them from Astronauts, as a matter of routine, to avoid them causing problems.

What did I do?

I took the advice. My Lord, how it hurt, and how worthwhile the pain. My editor did inject a modicum of sanity, but my reduction was huge. Removing semicolons was, mostly, a good idea.

Many writers will be familiar with the joys(?) of revising a book. Of course, semicolons have a place and, doubtless, other writers and readers may have different views. However, I don’t regret the work and believe my fiction is the better for it.

And the astronauts?

If NASA care to follow the principles uncovered here, they better start whipping appendixes out as a matter of urgency.

Mac Logan
©

don't kill a spider

Come into my bathtub said the spider to the guy

It came into my bathtub

The only thing you have to fear is fear itself…and spiders. F*** spiders! Anon

When does your autopilot kick in? In the morning, before my shower, things just happen.

Recently, my autopilot quit … just like that? There I was, rumbling through my routine and kapow!

Ever heard a grown man scream?

Bathtub SpiderMy morning visitor arrived unannounced and huge … biggest spider I’ve seen in the UK.

Imagine, you reach round the curtain, turn on the water, put your foot in the bath, and …

… something scurries over your toes, avoiding the deluge.

Don’t know what you’d do, but I actually grunted with surprise, and my foot was gone, gone in a rush of air.

Whadda f*** wiz that

After getting my foot to safety, I studied the beast. How beautiful. Hairy? yes. Scary? didn’t really want to cuddle it … so yes. My first thought? Save it. It may sound daft, but that’s what I did.

I put the bath mat over the bath and gently nudged it with a tooth brush handle. Herded  to the mat it shot up to the bath edge — its speed of movement, stunning.

I picked up the mat and gently shook it off. It darted under the sink and vanished back into its twilight world where, I assume, it eats ten times its weight in annoying flies and such.

If anyone can tell me:

  • what sort of spider it is, and,
  • if they bite

Please share.

It’s big, you say?

spider nozzleYes. See this picture? The nozzle is approximately 6.5 – 7.0 cm across.

Okay, it’s no tarantula, but it’s big enough for me.

Now, on the other hand, if I was on a camping trip …

Camping trip?

Come into my bathtup… and this happened, I think I might run a faster 100M than Usain Bolt.

Would I scream? Undoubtedly. Would I feel silly? Not at the time.

So, please remember, a spider’s worth saving.

Who cares if they have millions of eyes, hairy legs and make your skin crawl.

Save yourself a spider

don't kill a spiderApart from being fantastic predators, they tend to go about minding their own business.

In fact, they want to escape from our presence quick as they can.

Thus, even though I hid through half of the screening of Arachnophobia.

The moral of this tale is clear: be kind to arachnids …

At least as long as they’re not hiding down a loo you’re using in Australia.

© Mac Logan

Gimme a B-R-E-X-I-T yaay! What does it mean? How reliable are Factoids?

What does it all (Brexit) mean?

gimme a B R E X I TWhen politicians say ‘settled will’ what do they mean? No sour grapes either way; just annoyance with the mendacity of our, then, leadership.

It’s hardly surprising many of the found-out evaporated from the scene and even more stunning how some of them have achieved high office on the back of their dissembling.

Decisions, Decisions

It seems unusual to decide something—of huge importance—without detailed information, facts and  proper consideration? Buy a house? Choose a school? Eat some foods? Many of us would say they want facts and might even give me an earful finishing “…  what do you think we are?”

Is a factoid a fact?

how reliable are factoids

No BoJo? No, he’s in charge of Foreign relations and MI6

If you use the word factoid, be sure the sentence makes it clear whether you are referring to a spurious claim, on the one hand, or an isolated, trivial, or mildly intriguing fact, on the other. The Free Dictionary

Are all Scots folk mean and drunk? Remember that £350M a week claim for the NHS? Are all our economic woes are at the door of immigrants? Are all muslims terrorists? Can factoids ever be true?

Facts, who needs ‘em?

The government and public sector do not generally rely on fact based reporting as our private sector is required to do. Nor does it extract and present the sorts of measurement which allow clear unambiguous facts to be presented. But The government is trying as any select committee aficionado will know.

Glass Full? Leaking? Empty?

The quote below offers a few thoughts from across the pond. The link is to the whole article. The bottom-line is strong feelings distort reality. There is no clear guidance in the factoids presented by either side.

The British pro-EU forces cited many risks in leaving — potential economic turbulence or the rupturing of ties with an entire continent — but the supporters of Leave had heard those threats and promises time and again. They felt pushed around, and they didn’t care. USA Today

The Government knows

The politicians who promised a new order of things got it right, of course they did. Just what it is we don’t know yet and at the earliest it’ll be the end of 2018.  One slight fly in the ointment: they didn’t know what the implications were and still, truth be told, don’t know what to do … yet.

Is it fair to say our government uses spin (lies), distorted facts (lies), and winds people up (incitement) and seldom is clear about anything. Angry people make angry decisions and, with next-to-no accurate information, are unlikely to provide strategic direction for our ever-so-humble politicos to follow.

Fan Dance

Who said: “Act in haste, repent at leisure”. We’re in the middle of a fan dance. The link points to a famous version of that. A lovely woman conceals her physical perfection behind the fans and so titillates her audience without revealing anything more than a glimpse of her beauty. Such dancing may fan the flames of ardour, but what did you see?

Take Your Partners and Moth Eaten Fans for the Factoid Fiasco

The fans were the Stayista factoids and the other the Brexit factoids. Was reliable truth anywhere to be found? Of course not; up until now our politicians don’t deal in that— they can’t, they don’t know. Thus the family silver or the family jewels are sold or for sale. And our new hopes rest with an unelected, policy-less and mandate free Prime Minister. Please God, where does that leave us?

What does this mean for our kids?

Our politicians have a moral, ethical and absolute duty to do their best for us. The Cabinet Office says all politicians and officials abide by the Seven Principles of Public Life. I can hear the yeah right comments form all over the country.

Right now, our children’s futures are at great risk. Not simply because our politicians lack the skill and savvy to run the country effectively. But because we, our entire nation, are busy squabbling about the referendum and dis-united. We’re rather like the Labour Party meltdown  on a huge scale.

According to Mac

When profit means everything, people mean nothing. Mac Logan

What does it mean to me? A few thoughts spring to mind (as the mind flows, no order of importance):

  • we *all* lost the referendum
  • let’s unite and recognise/resolve issues (whatever irks you about all this) with honesty, clarity and real, genuine and eye-watering—as required—transparency
  • Theresa May may turn out to be an excellent PM, it’s a hard task and she needs a chance
  • the PM is in a nest of wan …er…vipers. God be with her
  • we need a real plan, a five or ten year effort with truth at the fore
  • any politician who lies should be kicked out of parliament — that might lead to a quick general election
  • I’m British and Scottish. I’m for us and, if my fellow Scots kick the UK into touch, I’m with them irrespective of my voting position.
  • I admire wee Nicola – even if she is a micro-manager. Wee Ruth ain’t bad either.

This turned into a more thoughtful and ranty piece than I expected.

Work together. Stop the lies. Create a proper plan and manage it properly. Respect other peoples, countries and the EU. Do not allow politicians to act without clear facts and transparent decision making on major matters. Nail the vested interests, yup, they’ve been going on a long time and its not just HSBC. Sort the connivance and corruption and we have a great chance, inside or outside the EU … a great chance.

Burns gets the last word:

For a’ that, an’ a’ that,
Their dignities an’ a’ that;
The pith o’ sense, an’ pride o’ worth,
Are higher rank than a’ that.

© Mac Logan

Poker face

3 major interruptors of life’s peace and dealing with them

Who says nothing is impossible? I’ve been doing nothing for years. Anonymous

3 major interruptors

interruptor of life's peaceA real challenge, when I’m doing things, is avoiding sidetracking events. I can think of three instant disruptors:

  1. Automated flagging of new emails
  2. A vibration and noise when new messages or tweets come into my phone
  3. Unbidden thoughts that steal my focus

The first two are easy to solve: all I need do is switch off the offending equipment or functionality. I suppose it is the unbidden thoughts I need to deal with.

As I get older it seems that my thinking is affected by different types of distraction. Of these there are two main strands:

  • Memory related events
  • Sidetracking interests

The memory related episodes involve the sudden recall of a powerful event from the past or, perhaps, recent contact with others or situations which have enough impact or energy to be revisited without effort. I’d claim semi-awareness in such situations.

Sidetracking interests are simply to do with something catching my eye or a thought that tickles my fancy. I automatically divert towards these without thinking. The type of deflection is pretty hard to detect as I tend to drift into the mode without noticing.

Once engaged in something pleasurable and interesting, I don’t notice my loss of focus. It can be hard to get back on track.

Is it normal when older men still remember matters involving romance and the more physical aspects of human contact. Of course one could argue that the way out of this one is falling asleep — who said: as usual.

What to do?

For now I think I’ll put up with it. Most of my Sidetracking interests are fun. Many are creative and stimulating. Some hurt or rankle and it’s important to lay them to rest. Most of the memory related episodes confirm my brain is still working — even if some of the content is difficult or sad.

© Mac Logan