Loss

•3 May 2011 • Leave a Comment

In a flash, I would bring you back to me.

But to think of the best for you, I would falter,

gaze up, smile at the sun

and remember you always.

The Christmas Spirit

•14 December 2010 • Leave a Comment

It’s getting near that time again. When the crazies get crazier. Christmas is coming. I’m often criticised for being a bit of a old grump when it comes to Christmas and that I don’t get in the spirit. Well, what’s that spirit all about. I think it’s wonderful that we set a time of year aside for celebration – but we forget what we’re celebrating.

There is altogether too much excess. We have to over-decorate, over-eat, way-over-drink. I just think it would be nice if everyone just stopped and thought about it. I could follow suit and decorate my desk at work, send out 200 Christmas Cards, buy a load of posh decoration and baubles for the lounge, spend a bundle of savings (or worse run up a credit card bill) on piles of expensive presents for people I know. But why? I struggle to see the purpose or the benefit. Think of the waste – it’s almost as if we’re all thumbing our noses to those less fortunate than us.

Delhpine De Vigan in her book “No and Me” sums it up so beautifully: “Christmas is a lie that unites families around a dead tree covered in lights, a lie woven of bland conversations, buried beneath tons of butter cream, a lie that nobody believes in.”

So, if anyone out there is reading this note, before you buy the extra packet of smoked salmon, the tin of Roses, the colour coordinated decorations that are this year’s must-have – just THINK. What does it mean? Is it necessary? Is there anything else I could do with that money that would give me longer-term gratification? Imagine how you’d feel if you donated that ‘excess’ to your chosen beneficiary. A homeless shelter? A tree planting operation? A hospital in Zaire? Or even, if it suits, pay a couple of hundred quid off your mortgage, a pair of tickets to the ballet to experience something you’ve never done before. Whatever you do with it..please don’t buy landfill.

Ordered Acts….Stop!

•29 November 2010 • Leave a Comment

Back to this subject of building tall buildings…stupid. Let’s look at some numbers.

The cost of building the Burj Khalifa, at a height of 828m was over $1.5Billion. A single square metre of accommodation costs more than $37,000! It required 330,000 cubic metres of concrete, 39,000 tonnes of steel, and 22 million man-hours from over 10,000 construction workers.

Let’s imagine what could have been done with all of those resources! 1.5 Billion $1 bills is a pile 60ft long, 60ft wide and 15ft high.

$1.5Billion would:

  • Buy 300 million mosquito nets, or
  • Be the lifetime income of 3,500 people living in poverty, or
  • Save 30,000 acres of Rainforest
  • Feed 14 Million refugees for a year

SURELY there has to be someone who can see something more useful to do with all those resources!

Incidentally it would also:

  • Almost buy a B-2 bomber, or
  • Pay for 3 days of war in Afghanistan and Iraq

But let’s not get into that now.

Ordered Acts of Stupidity

•27 November 2010 • Leave a Comment

With fascination, I’ve spent an indulgent amount of time reading about supertall-skyscrapers today. It’s an interesting subject especially when you start to think about patterns over time of skyscraper construction. The Empire State Building held the title of World’s Tallest Building for about 40 years since the 1930’s. So what were ‘we’ doing between the 1930’s and 1970’s that meant we didn’t bother to build tall buildings? Let’s think…

  • Japan invades China – War
  • Second World War
  • The USA makes nuclear weapons – War
  • North Korea invades South Korea – War
  • Soviet Union puts nuclear weapons on submarines – War
  • Soviet Union puts Sputnik into space – fascination with space begins
  • US Troops arrive in Vietnam – War
  • Man goes to the moon – fascination with space ends

So, other than a brief bit of hysteria about space, I would say that we stop building tall buildings when we get into war.

Now then – who’s building the tall buildings in 2000+? Well, that’ll be the folks who have all the money. Therefore here are my predictions for the next 20 years:

  • 2015 – There’s a war – putting a stop to the building again
  • 2020 – There’s another war
  • 2025 – There will be use of weapons of mass destruction – to end the wars
  • 2030 – Latest group of rich countries in the a newly-formed “Alliance” go to Mars

Obviously the timeframes become more compressed, since us humans are becoming much more efficient at doing stuff these days.

I’ll talk some more about the topic of building again soon.

Apple Macs…

•26 November 2010 • Leave a Comment

I love to use my MacBook. Really. I’m well chuffed with it…

…I know they’re expensive – I’m lucky to have it….a true luxury that not many can afford….

…..so how come EVERY bu88er on the TV has got one?

The Conference Call

•26 November 2010 • Leave a Comment

Now here’s a thing. The conference call is a phenomena that is sweeping the business world. A concept whereby you can invite far too many people to a meeting. You can forget who you’ve invited and end up talking in a derogatory fashion about people you have forgotten you have invited, thinking you’d forgotten to invite them. It turns out they were there all the time and you may as well forget to invite them in future.

In some areas it is known as the Party Line. Clearly the conference calls that I’m invited to are so far removed from a party that I appear to be in an alternate universe where balloons haven’t even been invented yet.

There’s the “willing contributor”. They know how to speak. Everyone on the call knows they know how to speak. Just they don’t know how to stop speaking. When you’re faced with a virtual room full of people who you are pretty convinced aren’t paying you any attention, should you ramble on in order to fill the silence or take the silence as wholehearted agreement and button it.

Next there’s the “unwilling contributor”. This guy doesn’t volunteer any information. He’ll provide only one word answers when forced into a corner.

Finally there’s the “non-contributor”. He attends, speaks his name, often as an early arrival to the call so no-one knows he’s even there. Having made no contribution except costing your business for his time, he leaves the meeting at the end [after all the actions have been shared out between the unwilling contributors by the willing ones]. “Joe has now left the conference”……..”Joe who?” Everyone asks.

This one is going to run and run, so I’ll leave it for now and keep coming back to it.

 

eBooks and eReaders…

•25 February 2010 • 5 Comments

I felt urged to write to Waterstone’s today having been constantly astonished at the price of eBooks. I purchased a Sony Reader from you back in November, then one for my wife and also one for my disabled father – this has enabled him to read again for the first time in a decade as he is unable to hold a book or turn the pages. So…all great!

But….

I am constantly challenged with finding eBooks at the right price. I’ve bought one from Waterstone’s, several from WHSmiths and some from a variety of other Internet sources. I am confused by the pricing. What is being done to actually encourage the move to digital paper? I didn’t buy the reader as a ‘new cool gadget’ but in fact as a part of a long term strategy on sustainability. Let me give you some solid examples:

1. Decoding Reality: The Universe as Quantum Information, by Vlatko Vedral

Format: Hardback 240 pages Published: 25/02/2010 – £10.19

NOT AVAILABLE IN eBOOK FORMAT… doh!

2. The Fabric of the Cosmos: Space, Time and the Texture of Reality, by Brian Greene

Format: Paperback 592 pages Published: 24/02/2005 – £6.59

Format: eBook Published: 24/02/2005 – £10.33

THE eBOOK FORMAT IS CONSIDERABLY MORE EXPENSIVE THAN THE PAPERBACK – HOW CAN THAT BE?

So, come on folks, what’s it all about. Should I give up on the dream of living sustainably and sell the eReader?  How do we encourage book publishers and book sellers to take this seriously?