Archive for August, 2008

What if . . . . . . .

Sunday,31 August, 2008

Not all relics of the industrial age are quite as ‘photogenic’ as this old tub!

By now, we are pretty familiar with the principle: ‘the polluter pays’.

Our cars must be disposed of responsibly, we have to pay to get rid of materials containing asbestos, and so on.

But could we, and should we, apply this principle to other aspects of our life?

Here’s a few ideas for starters.

  • There’s a clear link between fatty and sugar laden foods and obesity – which is set to cost our Health Service a fortune in the years to come.  Should such foods attract a special tax, both as a disincentive for consumption, and to make sure those eating these foods meet the total cost resulting from consumption?
  • Late night pubs and clubs spill people onto streets at times when shopkeepers are not around.  It costs money to provide police at this time, taking resources away from previous normal daytime duties.  And if a drunken fracas develops and a shop window gets broken in, it rests with the shopkeepers to answer a call in the early hours, arrange emergency repairs, and then install security shutters.  Should the cost of all this be met by taxing those who run licensed premises which serve areas where these problems occur?
  • People end up in hospital for all sorts of reasons – sometimes as a result of accidents caused by dangerous driving, sometimes because of violent assaults.  Expensive therapy may even be needed to help victims cope with the aftermath of criminal activity.  Should the costs be met by the perpetrator, rather than by the tax payer?
  • Disposing of household rubbish is increasingly expensive – whether for landfill or by recycling.  Most householders battle with junk mail they don’t want, as well as with unnecessarily elaborate packaging.  Shouldn’t those generating these materials, be expected to meet the cost of disposal?
  • How much money is spent on cleaning up after chewing gum?  Shouldn’t clean up costs be met by the companies who make and sell it?

What do you think?

Would this help people understand the full consequences of their actions?

Can you think of any other examples?

Is anybody there?

Friday,15 August, 2008

As well as being wonderful, every now and again our dog looks a bit ‘vacant’.

Our dog looking a bit ‘vacant’.

Sometimes we’ve got into conversation about this and, rather than using ‘vacant’, a variety of expressions have arisen – such as the usual:

• “Not the sharpest knife in the drawer”;
• “One sandwich short of a picnic”.

But we’ve also had suggested to us:

• “The lights on, but nobody’s in”;
• “The wheel’s still turning, but the hamster’s long since gone”!

Have you got any other creative, fun suggestions?

Do share them with us . . . . . . . .

And in the meantime, how about this picture of an owner looking like his dog (or should it be a picture of a dog looking like his owner)?

A date with a surprise? 08.08.08

Friday,8 August, 2008

Sometimes we only see what we expect to see.

Intense study of incense

It’s reasonable to expect that, in a Japanese temple, we’ll see a group of people gathering around a dish of burning incense.

The pictures make a nice composition, with everyone’s attention on the flames and smoke, and the viewer is drawn to the rapt faces.

Richard Wiseman’s book “Did You Spot the Gorilla?” encourages us to expect the unexpected, so that we can learn to see hidden opportunities.

It’s a great read, and it can also change our way of doing things – and even our lives!

When I took this photograph I didn’t realise the gift within it. And it was only after several times of looking at the finished article that I spotted an extraordinary irony: the enthusiastic Japanese participant holding up the little girl to see burner, has a shoulder bag emblazoned in English with the words “Fire Fighters”.

If you spotted it, you may just have read the ‘Gorilla’ book, or be a genius . . . . . .

Is “can’t do” BAD? Is “can do” GOOD?

Friday,1 August, 2008

Thoughts on an upside-down world . . . . . . . . .

Are you, and others, seeing the ‘real you’, or just a mere reflection?

Surely it’s obvious that being bad at something will hold us back?

Yes, well – walking past a building whose roof was being repaired, a colleague turned to me to complain about the behaviour of the scaffold workers. “It’s obvious that if they do that it will be dangerous. Can’t they just see that . . . . . . . ?”

“But” I replied, “you’re assuming that they are endowed with sufficient imagination to predict what might happen in the future. Do you think that anyone with that amount of imagination, would want to work at that sort of height?”

My colleague had to admit that having a well developed imagination could be a problem for some jobs – in other words, being bad at something could be a benefit!

In the world of business management, some people lack either the analytical skills or the temperament to manage quantities of detail. This trait can result in them concentrating on the over-view, and then being seen to be ‘strategic’. And senior managers need to be strategic. Another example of when being bad at something could be a benefit!

And surely it’s obvious that being good at something will help our careers to advance?

Yes well – in years past, many people who were really good at their jobs were rarely given the chance to advance: they were called ‘secretaries’. They were so good at doing their job, (including ‘propping up’ their bosses), that they were rarely encouraged to break free and progress.

In the world of business management, those people who are skilled at handling detail can be similarly disadvantaged. Their skills can be seen as so valuable that they are not encouraged to develop. And because they are good at detail, it may also be assumed that they are incapable of strategic thinking – without ever being given the chance to prove otherwise.

If you want to break out of this, it’s worth working hard on the fact that ‘what got you to where you are now, might not be enough to get you to where you want to be’.

It can be important to think these things through – make sure that you, and others, can see the ‘real you’, rather than a mere reflection!