Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Sailing on the friendship

I have spent a lot of time sat at my desk in front of my computer while I have been doing my MBA project. This of course is a totally different desk and computer to the one I spend the rest of my waking time at which is at work. On my study desk I have a little calendar which was given to my for Christmas by my friend CrazieQueen. It is one of those page a day calendars and apart from telling me what day it is, and which month it is (very important stuff) it also imparts a little thought about friendship in a pretty little floral way. Sometimes these quotes or sayings are philosophical, some are deep and meaningful while others are humorous, but all of them ring true in some way. I thought I would share a few of them with you:

A loyal friend laughs at your jokes when they're not so good, and sympathizes with your problems when they're not so bad
~Arnold H. Glasgow

Friendship is one of the sweetest joys of life. Many might have failed beneath the bitterness of their trial had they not found a friend.
~Charles H. Spurgeon

I don't need a friend who changes when I change and who nods when I nod; my shadow does that much better.
~ Plutarch

When friends ask, there is no tomorrow.
~ Proverb

A good friend is a connection to life - a tie to the past, a road to the future, the key to sanity in a totally insane world
~ Lois Wyse

Constant use will not wear ragged the fabric of friendship
~ Dorothy Parker

One loyal friend is worth ten thousand relatives
~ Euripides

I haven't got a huge circle of friends. I tend not to keep associates but would much rather have a few good friends. The sort that are there to enjoy the fun and frolics of the fair weather but also the rough sailing too. My life has been so out of kilter that I have not been able to indulge in my friends as much as I would like to, but I know they are there. And when I get this MBA project out of the way, and then the final essay I can start to return some sort of balance to my life and see my friends again.

I won't be around much for the next few days, due to work and study pressures, but as with my other friends, I will be back to socialise here too very soon.

Sunday, February 24, 2008

I've got soul but I'm not a soldier

You Are a Prophet Soul

You are a gentle soul, with good intentions toward everyone.

Selfless and kind, you have great faith in people.

Sometimes this faith can lead to disappointment in the long run.

No matter what, you deal with everything in a calm and balanced way.

You are a good interpreter, very sensitive, intuitive, caring, and gentle.

Concerned about the world, you are good at predicting people's feelings.

A seeker of wisdom, you are a life long learner looking for purpose and meaning.

You are a great thinker and communicator, but not necessarily a doer.

Souls you are most compatible with: Bright Star Soul and Dreaming Soul

I came across this quiz while having a break from my studies. Some of the things it says are quite true of me but not everything, but then it's only a bit of fun. It is true I think too much though. For example, the project I am currently writing for my MBA could be done much more quickly if I would just type rather than analysing it so much. But that is not the kind of person I am. I am definitely a think twice and type once kind of person.

However, I am not sure about the image of me as a gentle soul. I think I have a steely edge too but that just balances the soft part out and protects it. What I want to know is what is a 'Bright Star Soul' or a 'Dreaming Soul'? So, what kind of soul are you?

Friday, February 22, 2008

Words by music

I am up to my ears in study at the moment. I am coming to the end of my MBA and all that stands between me and getting my life back is 8500 words, 49 days and 2 written assignments. Unfortunately 6000 of these words have to be done within the next 10 days. On top of work. It stands in front of me as if I was stood in front of the Hoover Dam looking up. I am having a little trouble with this one for a number of reasons. It seems insurmountable and yet, word by word, paragraph by paragraph the assignment appears on the screen.

This will not be my best piece of work. Events at work and in my personal life have ensured that, but I will hand something in and I will pass. I have no choice having come this far. Like the sign I wrote to myself and hung on my wall where I can read it says: "I am NOT stupid. I CAN do this".

I often listen to music while I work. One of the CDs I am currently playing is by Sophie Zelmani. Very underrated outside her native country of Sweden, she is a superb singer songwriter who's songs have an unpolished feel which I like. I have linked to her official website (click on her name) but I thought I would share this video with you. It's a gorgeous song, somehow melancholy and joyful all at once and the video is good too. I just love the symbolism of the red runner as a journey. Or at least that is how I see it. I hope you enjoy it.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

A question of beauty

No man is an island. I remember hearing this phrase when I was young and not really understanding what was meant by it. Now of course, I am older and more experienced, if not necessarily wiser and I know all too well what it means. We can pretend that we don't care what others think of us, (and in some cases of course we shouldn't), but in the end we are creatures of society and the feedback we get from others help form our view of ourselves throughout our lives. The trick, of course, is learning who to listen to and who to ignore. Somehow, as Julia Roberts character in 'Pretty Woman' says, it's easier to believe the bad things.

Learning to take a compliment with grace and believing it to be true was one of the hardest things for me to learn, especially when it was out of sync with what I believed to be true, with what I had learnt to be true from the feedback I had received. Growing up, I was considered a 'homely' child, a plain Jane and was often called an ugly duckling. I wore ugly national health service glasses. My mother cut my mousy hair short and I was always an unconventional child. Meanwhile my sister, had long flowing golden hair which was admired by all and I was always unfavourably compared with her.

I carried this self image around for many years and it took a long time to change it. Stopping reading womens magazines was a big help as these were images of women who I could never hope to emulate. It may sound stupid but it took me a long time to cotton onto the fact that these women spent hours having professional make-up and hair done and then were favourably lit and photographed and then touched up as well! Well, duh! Have you ever seen a super model without this treatment. She looks human doesn't she? I haven't really read a womans magazine for years. I consider them to be a mezzanine in Dante's Inferno.

Everyone has things about themselves that they would like to change. Some resort to surgery, others learn to live with their flaws. It depends on the person, it depends on the flaw I guess. I have learned to also focus on the things I like about myself. I have nice eyes, I think. An interesting green colour with flecks of hazel and grey around the pupil. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder. I believe this. So go and take a look in the mirror :)

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Still far to go...

This morning I made my cup of tea and switched the TV on while I had breakfast. The grey pool of the screen came to life with colours and I was poised to turn over to the news channel when something stilled my finger mid press. It was not a program I would normally watch but I was riveted all the same. As I watched, my early Sunday morning fugue became infused with disbelief and then anger. What caused this heightened emotional state? Well, a program following the everyday goings on at an airport of course.

Now I usually avoid these programs like the plague as I usually end up getting annoyed by them. I get annoyed sometimes by the jobs-worth people following process rather than applying customer service but mostly I get annoyed at idiot passengers who are trying to take too much luggage on and then get shirty, or forget their passports or something and get shirty as the airline won't hold the flight, just for them. (My views on customer service and bad customers are a whole other topic!).

No, this time I was angry as there was a qualified pilot on the show and she was executing some training flights. Note please the use of the words "she" and "her". Now let me share with you two pieces of the program:

First the Captain who was to supervise her gave his opinion saying that there weren't many women commercial pilots but the ones he had come across "had to be at least as good as the men and in fact were often better". The Captain seems to be a fair minded chap eager for his protégé to do well, but let's examine that sentence: the women have to be at least as good as the men. The phrase is intrinsically sexist and I don't mean that the Captain is a sexist man, rather it is the reality of the situation. A commercial pilot is traditionally a 'male' job so the rhetoric applied is from this perspective. It still annoys me that women are singled out as special or different but this will be the case until the status quo is addressed.

Meanwhile, let's not detract from her achievement. I know what it is like to work in a male dominated profession. I worked as a theatrical technician for years and was the only woman backstage until the dressers joined for the shows. I did have to be better than the men around me, I did have to work harder and I was still not treated as an equal. I was not given the same training opportunities as the men unless I pushed hard for it and I was not given the choice jobs that attracted premium pay (theatre work is often casual or short term contract). Lets be clear, it was definitely not because the men were better than me. I know because time and again I was singled out as being good and given difficult cues by visiting crew and when I left this particular theatre the theatre production manager came and presented me with a bottle of champagne which was unheard of.

Back to the TV program. Having singled a woman pilot out as a novelty, the interviewer then proceeded to tell some of the passengers about her. Predictably, the majority of the men voiced concerns about 'women drivers' (because we all know what perfect drivers ALL men are and how well qualified they are to make their critique). In particular two men, said that had they known, they would not have got onto the plane. Now thankfully, these particular individuals are not ever going to be CEOs of FTSE 100 companies, but this attitude is prevalent and women have to put up with it every day in greater or lesser ways.

My last post was humorous. It is hard to think that within living memory, women were thought of as being not good enough to handle a job when they were clearly juggling running a home and raising a family as well as looking after a husband. The point of view that women are inferior in any way is a bigoted and narrow minded point of view. Let's be completely clear about this. I am not a feminist, I am not some sort of lesbian either for having these views (I have been accused of this!!!), I simply want an equal opportunity in life and want people to see beyond the bumps in my T-shirt to what I am able to do and what I can achieve.

Someone commented on my last post that part of the problem is a lack of female interest in traditional male professions. My answer is simply this: when you are a woman, society and school unconsciously push you towards traditionally female roles. If you think I am wrong just look at the toys that are made for girls and for boys. Notice the difference? If you dare to push the boundaries you are in for a difficult time. For a start you have to be at least as good as the men. I disagree, in my experience you have to be better than your male counterparts to be seen as being at least as good. We have come a long way as society since the article in my last post was published, but we still have far to go.

(Please note that I do not just believe men are responsible for this trend. Women are equally responsible, at least in that respect we are equal. Also, as ever these are my views which are of course coloured by my own experiences).

Friday, February 15, 2008

It could be worse...

It's been a helluva week. I have been trying to get things to a point where I can leave work for a week in order to concentrate on my MBA final project. Doing my own job and that of my boss has meant this has been some task. It's been somewhat hectic. The hours have been somewhat long. It has been somewhat stressful and now I am somewhat tired. Still, it could be worse. It could be 1943.

I got the following sent to me at work. A male colleague thought it was hilarious, as did I. How silly that men were so blind and stupid for so long that they ignored the value of half the world's population! Equality has come a long way. It still has far to go but let's not get into that right now.

The following is an excerpt from the July 1943 issue of Transportation Magazine. This was very serious at the time of publication and written for male supervisors of women in the work force during World War II, a mere 64 years ago!

There is no longer any question whether transit companies should hire women for jobs formerly held by men. The draft and manpower shortage has settled that point. The important things now are to select the most efficient women available and how to use them to the best advantage.

Here are eleven helpful tips on the subject:

1. Pick young married women. They usually have more of a sense of responsibility than their unmarried sisters. They are less likely to be flirtatious. They need the work, or they would not be doing it. They still have the pep and interest to work hard and to deal with the public efficiently.

2. When you have to use older women, try to get ones who have worked outside the home at some time in their lives. Older women who have never contacted the public have a hard time adapting themselves and are inclined to be cantankerous and fussy. It is always well to impress upon older women, the importance of friendliness and courtesy.

3. General experience indicates that "husky" girls - those who are just a little on the heavy side - are more even-tempered and efficient than their underweight sisters.

4. Retain a physician to give each woman you hire a special physical examination - one covering female conditions. This step not only protects the property against the possibilities of lawsuit, but also reveals whether the employee-to-be has any female weaknesses that would make her mentally or physically unfit for the job.

5. Stress, at the outset, the importance of time; the fact that a minute or two lost here and there makes serious inroads on schedules. Until this point is gotten across, service is likely to be slowed up.

6. Give the female employee a definite daylong schedule of duties so that they will keep busy without bothering the management for instructions every few minutes. Numerous properties say that women make excellent workers when they have their jobs cut out for them, but that they lack initiative in finding work themselves.

7. Whenever possible, let the inside employee change from one job to another at some time during the day. Women are inclined to be less nervous and happier with change.

8. Give every girl an adequate number of rest periods during the day. You have to make some allowances for feminine psychology. A girl has more confidence and is more efficient if she can keep her hair tidied, apply fresh lipstick and wash her hands several times a day.

9. Be tactful when issuing instructions or in making criticisms. Women are often sensitive; they cannot shrug off harsh words the way men do. Never ridicule a woman - it breaks her spirit and cuts off her efficiency.

10. Be reasonably considerate about using strong language around women. Even though a girl's husband or father may swear vociferously, she will grow to dislike a place of business where she hears too much of this.

11. Get enough size variety in operator's uniforms so that each girl can have a proper fit. This point cannot be stressed too much in keeping women happy.

Sunday, February 10, 2008

IT Haiku

I have little of interest to tell you. I could wax lyrical about work, about the meetings, about misguided senior managers who will. not. listen., about the permanent cat herding of trying to manage diverse stakeholders of differing views and levels of interest; about being piggy-in-the-middle when said stakeholders do not like something that aforementioned senior managers have decided.

Yes I know this is all part of management but I have left out the politics that are going on here. With my boss out of action there are several far more senior people here trying to drive their own agenda with me caught up in the middle trying to get the work done, and that of my boss. Motivation levels are low. See, I told you it wasn't interesting! Also of little interest is the fact thatI have three weeks to complete my MBA project, on which I have made scant progress due to work and the lack of support for it there. I have been forced to take a week off and to attempt to do the whole thing in that week. Running these things in parallel just isn't working and I am getting tired and cranky.

So, I love it when a friend sends me some light relief in the form of a 'funny' email. I got this one last week and it made me smile. I hope you enjoy it too!

In Japan, they have replaced the impersonal and unhelpful Microsoft error messages with Haiku poetry messages. Haiku Poetry has strict construction rules: each poem has only 17 syllables - 5 syllables in the first line, 7 in the second, 5 in the third. They are used to communicate a timeless message, often achieving a wistful, yearning, and powerful insight through extreme brevity. Below are little poetic gems to muse the next time you crash.

The web site you seek
Cannot be located, but
Countless more exist.

Chaos reigns within.
Reflect, repent, and reboot.
Order shall return.

Program aborting
Close all that you have worked on.
You ask far too much.

Windows has crashed.
I am the Blue Screen of Death.
No one hears your screams.

Yesterday it worked.
Today it is not working.
Windows is like that.

Your file was so big.
It might be very useful.
But now it is gone.

Stay the patient course.
Of little worth is your ire.
The network is down.

A crash reduces
Your expensive computer
To a simple stone.

Three things are certain
Death, taxes and lost data.
Guess which has occurred.

You step in the stream,
But the water has moved on.
This page is not here.

Out of memory.
We wish to hold the whole sky,

But we never will.

Having been erased,
The document you're seeking
Must now be retyped.

Serious error.
All shortcuts have disappeared.
Screen. Mind. Both are blank.

Thursday, February 07, 2008

Still here

Well, it's been a hell of a week and I am not at all certain I haven't been short changed in days, I am pretty sure I haven't had my full quota as I have got to the end of the week far too quickly. Still here I am; and here you are. I think the reason for the apparent speeding up of time is that I have been exceptionally busy but also that my mind has been very much focused on 'what the hell is going on with my leg?"

Well, I got the test results back from the Doctors and I haven't got DVT. Phew. Thank Goodness. I mean, they had me worried with dire warnings of pulmonary embolisms if the clot became dislodged through excessive wiggling of the foot and such like. So, now I know what it isn't, so what is wrong with my leg? I am giving it a day or so to see if it heals and then it's back to the doctors again as it feels like permanent cramp and it is not comfortable. I would not recommend it.

Thanks to all of you who popped by to offer me supportive comments. I appreciated it! And because the only other news I have involves work, work and more work, I haven't got much else to tell, however I will leave you with the following video. It is the trailer for the film 'Charlie Wilson's War' that I watched recemtly. I must say that this film was a very pleasant surprise. It was well written with humour and wit and well acted. It will probably not be remembered as one of the greatest films ever made but I thoroughly enjoyed it and fully intend to watch it again sometime. It's subject matter is interesting too, given the current world context. If it looks like your cup of tea, I would recommend it.

Monday, February 04, 2008

Holding out for a Negative

I have been experiencing some discomfort in my calf muscle for the past few days but over the weekend it got so bad that it became difficult to walk. Stairs and steps have become pretty tricky and I have developed a limp that would easily win all the trophies at a limping contest. Seeing as it didn't seem to be getting any better despite yelling at it and ordering it to stop hurting, I took it to the doctors. Now my legs don't usually see the light of day so showing them off to someone was a bit daunting. Who knew what effect actual daylight might have on them?

The doctor prodded and poked and made a 'hmmm' noise and then uttered three little letters. Just three of them, meaningless on their own but when put together they weren't something I wanted to hear: D.V.T. The doctor suspects DVT. It isn't confirmed yet but she took some blood for testing. If it comes back positive for (insert long Latin medical name here) then I need to go in for a scan.

Negative generally has, well, negative meaning in life while positive is seen as something good. This time I'm counting on something negative happening. Fingers crossed.

Update: The doctor said that I would be informed if the test result was positive within a day, but that if it was negative then no-one would ring so I should get in touch if I had heard nothing just to confirm this. But when I rang the doctors the officious secretary informed me that it took 7-10 working days for test results to come back. I was quite taken aback and informed her what it was for and so she melted a bit and said she would look. There is nothing on my records so I am left in the dark still. I would very much like to know what I am dealing with here. Is no news good news?

Friday, February 01, 2008

If only I didn't actually have to be there

I haven't been around much in blog land lately so I really must apologise for my tardiness in visiting and posting. Real life has been getting in the way of blogging, and well having fun in general, though I did go to the cinema with CrazieQueen to see Sweeney Todd which I thoroughly enjoyed. All work and no play makes Bobkat a dull girl, and I am seriously losing my shine.

Life is so short that it seems odd to wish your life away but I simply cannot wait until February is over. My boss is not going to retun to work until at least March so I will have to continue doing two jobs for now - I have two projects due to deliver this month, a big presentation to give to 120 delegates next week and a working group to co-ordinate and run on top of all the day to day stuff. It wouldn't be so bad if the big bosses still didn't expect everything to be delivered despite our team being down by 50% (my colleague is still working part time). Yes, I have met with them, yes, they have listened to my position, heard my options for working, nodded sagely and then proceeeded to pile on the pressure...[sigh]. There is very little in terms of extra resources and so I feel I am definitely one of 'The Willing' mentioned in the quote.

I also have my MBA final project to do by the end of the month and I am starting to panic. You see, it is meant to be work based but work have not been very supportive and so I am having to wing it. To tell you the truth I am feeling just an ickle tiny weeny bit stressed. I know this is all a challenge and if it doesn't kill me it will make me stronger etc., but, do I really have to be there?

Which is why receiving another 'Roar for Powerful Words' award was so nice to get. Susan over at 'West of Mars' passed it on to me and coming from such a talented writer as her, and a fellow rock chick it was a huge, and well needed compliment. Thanks! Follow the links (in bold) to visit Susan or the origin of the award at 'The Shameless Lions Writing Circle'. I have already passed this award on to other bloggers *here*.

During February please bear with me while I weather the storm. I suspect my visits and posts will be sporadic but I will pop by when I can.