Saturday, 30 January 2010


Dylan had an accident last night. He woke Mary about 5:30 who thought nothing of it. He later came to me and I got up. When I came down I found he had had an accident all over his bed - and only his bed.

I put him in he garden and set about cleaning up which wasn't too arduous a task. I then let him in and it became apparent that he was terrified of me! Why should this be? It was his first accident in more than a week and we are still learning about each other. I hadn't spoken harshly to him in any way because I could see he knew he had erred and was remorseful. So why was he terrified of me? I took him his walk and he was as good as gold and we both seemed to enjoy it, but when we got back in his tail went down and the terror showed itself again.

The only logical conclusion is that the previous male in the household in which he lived was violent with him and he doesn't know to trust me yet. It has really made me so angry, I just cannot describe.

We had wondered why he had become a stray and I would have asked the previous owners 'Why?'. I think I know why now and if I ever met the previous owner I really feel like punching his lights out - and I abhor violence.

Friday, 29 January 2010

The woods are lovely, dark and deep

Walking in the woods by the light of a full moon brings a magical fantasy world to life.

It is some years since I have walked regularly in the dark evenings, but Dylan and I now walk the woods regularly. Tonight we enjoyed a clear sky and cold wind. The shadows thrown by the moon were long and clear and the light bathed the ground in a greyness of contrast. The path through the woods became less clear than the overcast nights we have been walking in and several times had me wondering the way I should go. Dylan guided me along the path with unerring and caring ability.

We heard voices. Youths. And they were on the path we were destined to follow. What would we find when we came to them? These teenage voices were laughing and joking as they celebrated the start of their weekend and as we neared them it became more apparent what my fear of them was. I braced myself and tightened Dylan's lead and hoped I was wrong and as we passed them, warily I found to my delight I was wrong and Dylan didn't jump and give them dirty footprints. He said hello to them and they to him, but he kept his dirty feet to himself.

Tomorrow there will be a pile of drinks cans and bottles in the wood where they met and on examination it will be found that 9 out of 10 are soft drinks cans. I wonder if they all know what they are all drinking or whether, under cover of dark, they drink what they want rather than what they think their mates expect them to?

Gatherings of young teenagers are all too frequently labelled as 'youths' when all they are are young people looking to socialise. Stick them in a youth club! That will curb their freedom and inhibit their socialising! We met and gathered outside such organisations and it didn't do us any harm and it annoys me that people brand these youngsters as criminals in the making. There will always be bad ones but most are just younger versions of ourselves and deserve the trust and respect we wanted.

It was a lovely evening and a lovely walk that left me thinking of wolves baying to the moon.

Sunday, 17 January 2010

Sssshh - It's a secret!!

My daughter was expressing her levels of appalledness by a recent exercise they were asked to do at school and it does, in my opinion, make you start to question the intelligence of some people.

One of the things they were asked to do in this exercise was to write their secrets into their workbook. Horror was expressed by many of them in class, although the vocal ones seem to have been mostly girls. They challenged the teacher and refused to do it.

In my opinion this raises other questions, but what did the teacher expect? Girls seem to have more secrets than boys and I would expect the boys to have taken the approach I would have done. I would have made something up along the lines that I would expect my peers to have written. The fact that we all would have done the same thing invalidates the exercise anyway.

Girls are 'more honest'?

If we take this exercise logically it is one that cannot be done.

If the secret is written down then it is not a secret any more hence it no longer fulfils the requirements of the exercise!

It does bring to mind a management training exercise I was involved in some years ago. There were about 12-15 of my colleagues around a table and we were given the exercise. A group of visitors were trapped in a pothole and we were running the rescue team from a remote location. There were men, women and children in the trapped group which included some elderly and unfit. We had to decide the order to bring them up to safety as they could not all be saved and some would die.

I was appalled at this and said that I wouldn't be involved in this and that we, as a team should leave it to the chaps on the rescue team to make those decisions as they would have the greatest information and that we should support them with whatever resources they needed.

The reaction of the rest of the group was that I was wrong, the exercise said that we had to do this. I still refused - I was adamant that I would not even PLAY at being god and controlling who should live or who should die. One of my colleagues turned to the trainer and asked him to tell me to get involved properly. I remember that the trainer said nothing but shrugged his shoulders and turned to face the window. I suspect I had played right into his hands! Was this what the exercise was about? When people saw that there was another way they started to join my side and by the end of the exercise there was only the person who challenged the trainer left on that side of the table.

I wonder if the class missed the purpose of the secrets exercise?

Sunday, 3 January 2010

Thoughts on Kindle

Before retiring I worked in the 'Security Printing Industry' and was heavily involved in the provision of software and other technologies for the distribution of 80% of the UK's gift vouchers. There have been and still are logistical problems of how these can be replaced by gift cards but they are being and will be replaced by gift cards. To ignore this fact is to try and stop the inevitable. It has happened through time immemorial that things get replaced by newer things. Sometimes we feel that it is being forced on us as consumers by the manufacturers and we kick hard against it.

Sheet music gave way to 78 rpm gramophone records. They in turn gave way to 33 1/3 and 45 rpm records and I am sure everyone was annoyed that they would have to replace their gramophones with record players, but eventually they did. In the early 80's the CD came along and I for one refused to get involved. The CD has stayed and reluctantly I do now use them but just as the order of the day becomes to download direct from the web.

As we know the publishers are now pushing Kindle. Why? Because they can cut out all that messy ink and paper, the wholesalers, the bookshops and become even more profitable.

But consider the download market today....  The Arctic Monkeys established a precedent. A successful popular hit and no record label involved! They cut out the recording company totally.

Software will become available and standards published that will enable anyone to publish their own book on the web without resort to a publisher. Arguably this can be done in PDF format today and could have been done over the last so many years, but Kindle offers bookmarking and pagination management techniques that make ebooks more manageable to the reader. Also small portable readers are becoming available.

Is this a good thing and what would be the impact?

Well first is the disappearance of the paper book but publishers are already pushing for that.

Second will be there will be no editorial control over accuracy of non fiction material which could be a serious issue.

Thirdly violence, sex, racism etc in fiction could go on uncontrolled, but in reality agencies could be set up to watch for this and shut it down within guidelines that could be as draconian as was deemed relevant.

But another important impact would be in spelling.  Yes, spelling. We all read typos in publications and wonder how they got through but that's after proof readers have found many, many more and had them corrected. Self published books would leave errors that would be read and believed to be the correct spelling. That thought is abhorrent. But think on this....  Books that are self published and have plots and story telling techniques that are hugely popular! How will the publishers look on Kindle then? But if the books are written entirely in text speak - what will that do to the printed/published word? Books in text speak WILL happen and that fact alone will aid their popularity.

I can make several cases FOR Kindle. Travellers can take all the books they want on holiday abroad. Positive? Yes.  Short sighted people, like my 90 year old father in law, could have readers that vary the contrast and brightness as well as variable sized fonts.

But the down sides are far more and they are being gathered together in 'Dusty Old Books' so I won't go into them here.

Ebooks, of which Kindle is one emergent standard, are bad I believe and we should resist them. I will, but I know the tide will come in and the spot in which I stand to make my defence will get covered by that tide. I also believe that the tide will move slower than Kindle and the publishers want because the 20 year old generation is not 100% behind it and they need to be before the 30, 40 etc generation will become convinced.

Let's hope that paper books remain with us for the next 50 years or more and let's try to perpetuate them.