31 December, 2013

My Discoveries 2013

2013 was a year of discoveries. I wanted to write a list of some of the good stuff I discovered, without explanation or order of preference. Just thought you might not know of them and would like to give them a try.


The Last Samurai, Helen DeWitt

(sorry, I can't think of any)

TV Series



RSS reader

If you have some suggestions of your own, please feel free to put them in a comment.

I wish you and your families all the veryvery best in 2014! A friend of mine is just celebrating it in Shanghai and she says all will be well in the Prosperous Year of the Horse!

30 December, 2013

Something small, every day

I'm not sure when it is that I "found" Austin Kleon. It probably was years ago when I discovered a group of people talking about the necessity for each of us to develop our own "visual language".

Austin is a writer and artist. In his lastest post, he writes about his practice of writing a poem each day. I created the poem below in the way he so often creates his own. Try it. It's a lot of fun.
my poem today

He says the only New Year's resolution should be "something small, every day". Think I might give this a try.

True Stories

Working as a trainer and coach has its perks. One of them is the collection of stories I get to hear from my clients. No matter what topic we are discussing, from “multilingual development of immigrant children” to “user-centered usability processes” to “information and communication communities”… all we really do beyond establishing some basic guidelines is share stories.

It is my belief the moment someone starts telling a story is the moment they become completely engaged. It is that “Did I ever tell you about…” which presents endless possibilities for surprise, delight, connection, and just maybe a change in perspective. A good story can gives us insight into past events or into the storyteller’s soul.

Most of the stories I hear are told in confidence, but the one I wish to tell now I have been given permission to pass on.

A very settled and staid manager told it, while we discussed different aspects about how to hire young professionals. We started with the question, “If you were giving a job interview to your younger self, would you hire him?” To which he answered, “Absolutely not!”  This led to several twists and turns in our conversation and somewhere along the way, he told this wonderful story:

Did I ever tell you about the night I spent in a Glasgow prison? Well, my girlfriend and I decided to hitchhike around Scotland for a few weeks during our school vacation. We started on the east coast and made our way up north and then west to the Orkney Islands and finally down to Glasgow.

We didn’t have much money to start with and what little we had ran out at the city border. We wre completely broke. Our backup plan was to take an overnight train to London, where my girlfriend’s uncle lived and he said he would be willing to lend us enough money to ferry back to Germany.
When we got to the train station we discovered there was a train strike on. There we were without a cent to pay for room and board.

At that time, I don’t know if it is still so now, but if you were caught sleeping in the parks you would be arrested for public loitering. Since the only option we had was to sleep in the park, I decided to go to the police station and give ourselves up right up front. We walked into the station and I told the officer at the front desk about our predicament and asked him what we should do.

He talked on the telephone with his superior and then made another few calls with other colleagues. He then asked us whether we wouldn’t mind spending the night in jail. Their holding cells were full, but the local prison had two cells we could use for the night. Seemed good to me…

So, an officer transported us to the prison in a police car where we spent a pleasant night in jail and he kindly came back and picked us up the next day and brought us to the train station to catch our train to London.

After note: The storyteller tried the same thing a few years later during a trip to Norway. He and his (new) girlfriend were turned away from the police station. They said they didn’t mind the occasional person sleeping in the park.

29 December, 2013

Your next boss

Dear Obnoxious Teenager,

Hello. We have not be formally introduced, so let me do so now. I am the woman sitting next to you in the cinema yesterday. The middle aged woman looking forward to watching the movie in peace and quiet. You might remember... the person you kept on hitting your elbow with every few minutes while you noisily ate your nachos. Then you decided it would be fun to shine your cell phone screen in my face while you texted your friends.

You might have thought it an act of cowardness when I moved my seat to the row infront but, was it neccessary to act upon this by continually kicking the back of the seat so we in the row all felt your spitefulness?

As a pretty teenage girl, you might believe such obnoxious behaviour inspires awe amongst your peers. You also might feel as if there would not be any consequences for your actions. It is perhaps important for you to know I chose not to make a fuss over the matter since I didn't want to disturb the other people in the cinema. To you though, I can only say, "I am not your mother, but I might be your next boss. So, beware!"

Your sincerely,

Still Somewhat Miffed  

23 December, 2013

Sorry, couldn't resist

Even though I do not want to be so and try not to give in to this flaw, I am terribly sentimental. Well this is the season...

A girl with passion, wit and dreams...

My son sent me this jewel as a present. The author, performer, teacher, poet, Mark Grist's words hit directly into my heart. As someone who loves reading no matter under the covers on a winter night or in broad daylight in a café down the street, I am one of those millioins of girls with passion, wit, and dreams...  

15 December, 2013

Ironic Twists

If there is one thing you can say about the French, they understand ironic twists. Take a look at the different prices for a cup of coffee at the Petit Syrah café in Nice. The more curteous you are as a customer, the less you have to pay. 

14 December, 2013

Clap Along...

There was that moment in Peter Pan. You know it, "Clap if you believe in faries!" Pharrell Williams’ song “Happy” brings back all those memories.

At this time of year, when the days are short (and where I’m living I mean short!) and the darkness of the long nights and the grey blandness of the days close in, it is important to fill our hearts with light. Music does just that.