Posts Tagged ‘Slice of Life’


April 21, 2008

Yes…I admit.It is not my territory. But With time to go out on Sunday I bought myself a Teach Yourself Polish course. It promises “all round confidence”, a bit like a personal hygeine product. I’m quite excited.

A quick scan of the chapters gives me a taste of what to expect on my next trip to Poland, if I master the pronunciation…

It starts well: unit 2 “Pleased to meet you” and unit 5 “We buy some food”. But things take a bizarre turn in unit 6 “I prefer to swim”. By unit 9 “We make a date” things are looking better, but it gets more serious in unit 12 “Have you been to the doctor’s?” – probably due to swimming just after eating. Things are looking ominous by unit 16 “I’ve got a problem”, with no sign of a solution in unit 18 “How did it happen?”. Things turn out OK in the end, unit 20 “Did you like it in Poland?”

I like the narrative flow. It will spur me on to complete the course.

When I got home I compared the contents list with my Colloquial Icelandic course, in which I never got past the first couple of chapters “Welcome to Iceland!” and “Where are you from?” In fact I noticed that my book mark was still halfway through chapter 3 “Where are we going?”

Perhaps in keeping with the national character, the Icelandic course is a lot more down to earth than Polish. The chapters have pithy titles like “Clothing”, “The Family”, “Appointments” and “Accommodation”. But it loosens up towards the end with “Story, history and people” which flows unsteadily into chapter 15 “Heads, shoulders, knees and toes”, which I thought might be a Viking drinking song, but contains the unmissable section “Body parts: how to use them in Icelandic”.

Just as I put the book away one useful item of vocabulary caught my eye: “rjómabolla – a bun filled with whipped cream traditionally eaten on ‘bun day'”… In Iceland they have a ‘bun day’! I wonder if that is weekly, monthly or annually.



April 8, 2008

This season’s word seems to be “monetize“. Which means “finding a way to make money out of an idea or a piece of technology“. I think that what it really means is “exploit”, but for some reason in the articles I am reading the authors avoid using this. Perhaps these days it is not politically correct to say “exploit”, due to its association with, um, exploitation. So “monetize” is a more capitalistically correct term. After all, who could disagree with making money as a worthy aim…and saying “company x needs to monetize its offering to consumers” sounds less greedy than “company x should exploit its customers”!


Has the latest buzzword reached your workplace yet? Perhaps they would have started their transition to be at the linguistic cutting edge. If you come across “monetize” in an internal report or document, do remember OTG.


Now, dear readers, if only I could find an easy way to monetize my blogging…:-)

Lucky stars

March 11, 2008

From the banks of the Tay to the banks of the Seine last Sunday night, in a strange shaped hotel room with a pillar next to my elbow as I scratch my stubble.

This hotel room has got some glossy magazines for my reading pleasure; I pick up Marie Claire (the magazine in the room, not someone in the bar) and scan her features.

My horoscope (Capricorn) says “unless you are lucky enough to be on a career sabbatical, demands at work might end up causing friction and force you to make a choice”Hmm. I think about my days at work and decide that every day contains friction and I’m forced to make many choices….What actions to take in response to emails, who to talk to, who to annoy, whether to have decaf or hot chocolate etc. Friction is just energy being used. It can generate heat and light. I don’t mind.

I check Madam “N’s” horoscope (Gemini) in case it gives any correlating guidance; “you’ll be able to push ahead on the career front, but if you want to take the fast track, you’ll need to be open to suggestions. Even if you’re not sure just say ‘Of course I can!’ anyway” Hmm. It sounds like I might be able to take that career sabbatical.(Just in case everything works out)

I scan the other star signs. Librans should be careful about settling down and buying hats. Taureans should use stalling tactics with people who want to do business. Leos should clear of physical and emotional clutter, but won’t feel the benefits straight away. Sexed-up virgins (do I know any?) in happy coupledom might do better in the long-term lust stakes if they dare to reveal all.

Nonsense really.

But hang on, I had an email from L the other day with a press release from the RAC which shows a correlation between your star sign and the likelihood of your car breaking down.

Guess what ? Pisceans are the luckiest and their cars break down the least; (Not if they drive a Land Rover they’re not).

Libra, Capricorn and Aquarius break down most frequently…. Not surprised about the Capricorns….all that long term lust being played out.

Gemini, Cancer and Taurus join Pisces at the bottom of the table. So if you are choosing who should drive you home after going out tonight, bear this in mind.

Of course there is a possibility that the probability of your car breaking down has more to do with the age and condition of the vehicle (unless it’s a Land Rover) than when you were born. But I’m just a sceptical old fish.

A discriminating age

January 27, 2008

A feature of life in the post vacation period is that when I finally get home there is usually a pile of unopened post waiting for me. This is not often very exciting. I hardly ever get any interesting letters. The only people who send me letters are either trying to sell me something, or trying to make me pay for something; I usually only receive interesting correspondence, from real people, by email.

Last Sunday evening was no exception. I arrived home and eventually got round to skimming through week’s post; The usual stuff, a gas bill from an electricity company and an electricity bill from British Gas, who for some reason had used an envelope with bilingual English and Welsh wording; and half a dozen direct marketing envelopes destined for the bin.

But wait!…. What’s this? A direct marketing offer from….The Oldie magazine.

I get a lot of subscription offers from magazines. This is because I sometimes take up free offers and then cancel once the free issues have arrived. I am obviously held in their Customer Relationship Management and Campaign Management systems as a hot lead, but difficult to convert.

But…. The Oldie?!… The clue is in the name. Surely I’m not old enough to read that, despite the claim in the letter that “It’s about attitude not age”. The Oldie was a magazine founded by a grumpy older person who was fed up with “being inundated by a mass of celebrity- and ‘yoof’ obsessed features”….

I can’t be part of that demographic…. Their customer segmentation model must be wrong. I’ve just finished my 12 month free offer from Vanity Fair (didn’t renew with a paid subscription, I thought it was rubbish…. full of celebrities and handbag adverts with just a few good articles now and then).

That’s what happens when you let computers apply marketing rules. No empathy.It never used to be like that.

Alien visitors

January 15, 2008

I’m in the garden on a comparatively bright,clear Sunday afternoon. Totally sober. I see a UFO in the North Perthshire sky!

It is a long cigar-shaped silver object, high in the sky, barely moving (I don’t know what we will say instead of cigar-shaped when everybody stops smoking(courtesy Dr.Vijay and Dr.Anbumani) and no one remembers cigars… courgette-shaped perhaps?).

All the roomies see it too. We observe it through binoculars, the zoom lens on My borrowed camera (see picture below) and T’s astronomy-for-beginners-telescope. The telescope is a disappointment… the only thing I have ever seen through it was he moon, and that was upside down.

(Picture copyright belongs to no piracy please)

We speculate on the UFO. It is probably an alien expeditionary force on a mission to seek out  intelligent life…They will be disappointed. As they scan the Scottish countryside they will only see people shopping,mowing the lawn and tending the smoky plumes of a thousand barbecues.The aliens will conclude that this is a primitive hunter-gatherer society where we worship at sooty altars with charred meat offerings. They will quickly move on to more interesting planets where advanced multi-brained creatures are already beyond the reality TV stage and have invented cold fusion and ion drives.

I wave at the aliens in a forlorn attempt to initiate First Contact, thereby securing my place in history… They do not notice me.

After 30 minutes we all get bored with squinting into the bright sky as the alien
craft gets smaller and higher, turning in slow circles over heads. We go back to our primitive tasks and mankind’s opportunity to end our 4 billion year solitude slips away.

I explore alternative theories. Perhaps it was not aliens. Perhaps it was a sinister unmanned surveillance  dirigible being tested by secret establishment forces in the Ministry of Defence controlled airspace that stretches high above my garden.

In the evening I investigate options to insure myself against abduction by aliens. If I don’t turn up on my g-mail one day, you will know what has happened.

Easily forgotten

January 11, 2008

A slice of life from First ScotRail last night.

Several seats behind me there was a harassed mother on her own with a small, howling toddler. A very loud, small, howling toddler. The experienced parents in the carriage thought “that child is very tired, I bet she falls asleep in the next 15 minutes”. The smartly dressed business woman in the seat behind me muttered and fumed about the noise, between her mobile phone calls. Eventually she could stand it no longer,irritated and stood up.  

She said something to the fraught and embarrassed mother, who apologised and carried the screaming, struggling child beyond the partition door at the end of the carriage.The business woman continued her phone calls in peace… 20 minutes later the child was fast asleep, and her exhausted mother returned to her seat. 

90 minutes later the smart business woman was chatting to her travelling companion, clearly a work colleague. “So, have you got any children?” He asked in a small talk fashion. “No, I haven’t” she said sadly and sincerely, “but I wish I had.”