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When mod-cons die

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One of my recurring random thoughts is ‘what if all the electricity in the world were to disappear’. Imagine that?  you wouldn’t recognize life. There would be very limited light after sunset. No TV, yes, no TV. It would be back to candles and wood fires for us.

Cars, TVs, Sky boxes, washing machines, dishwashers, tumble dryers and computers are just some of the things we have come to rely on that run on electricity and/or fossil fuels. It seems that they ARE our lives.

As a ‘free thinking’ person, I’m anti-relying on modern conveniences. I don’t advocate going back to the Stone Ages but if something fails, we ought to know how to get things done. A couple of years ago, in my local area the electricity was cut for a few days which had a huge impact on homes and businesses. It was as if ‘life had stopped’ for them.

Personally, I leave my car at home and walk to the local shops for essential groceries. I love to walk and I don’t want to rely on transport for every journey I make, especially when my legs will do. Also, I do not type everything I write but make handwritten notes instead.

With the advent of recent technologies, we are headed in the direction of all things being online, going digital and interfaced by touch screens. In my humble opinion, we should also instill in future generations that Old is Gold.

Of course, I had to write a poem about this too….

When mod-cons die

It’s all going wrong today…..

Switch on the mobile *gasp* it is dead!

Need to talk to the neighbour, will visit her instead.

My printer is broken, the paper’s hacked to shards

What a nuisance! Now have to do hand written cards.

My car won’t budge, it’s a bloody flat tyre

Have to walk to the shops, it’s gonna be dire

BOOM!, the TV’s passed away

Oh no, what do do? Read a book today?

A bit of a disaster day but….

At my neighbours, had a fab natter and toast

My friends loved my card in their post

Walking to the shops, I enjoyed the sun

Loved reading my book, it was a lot of FUN!

(The photo of the mountain chair lift is of significance, take from it what you will)

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Feeling Lost

“Feeling Lost”: A poem about the cycle of  ‘clarity – to feeling lost – to clarity – to feeling lost again’. Otherwise known as life’s ups and downs, highs and lows, and peaks and troughs. In the end it all boils to the same thing.

Feeling lost

Yesterday I had clarity but today it has vanished,
Right now, my peace of mind is banished.

I’m thinking how to make things right,
My brain is aching, but no solution in sight!

Walking, feeling astray, looking to the ground,
Going round in circles and my hands feel bound.

Settle on the park bench, pondering by the tree
Silent prayers to God hoping he will help me

Walking, feeling astray, looking to the sky,
I don’t know the answer and my life is passing by.

Staring at the moon, thinking “what can be done?”
I want to bury my head in the sand, or go on the run!

It catches me unawares! I know what to do!
I’ll get things sorted. “O God, thank you!”

A month of peace and quiet, getting on with life
Now I am happy, forgetting there was strife.

There’s a bounce in my step and I’m filled with ease
Feeling purposeful and free, like the honey bees

This morning I had clarity but tonight it has gone!
Oh well, I’ll find a solution because life must go on….

 

Healthy Eating: the resistance

 

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I’m forever jumping on the healthy eating bandwagon, leading to many abandoned resolutions.  Like the umpteen times I’ve tried to give up tea but failed miserably. Cutting out ‘unhealthy food stuffs’ is a sign of our times.

Food, diet and calories have become such an issue. “I didn’t eat that chocolate cake, I’ve been good today” like that’s akin to bravery and deserves a medal!? The UK female sizes of 12 or 14 are sometimes considered too big. I mean, really!?!?

I believe in and have a healthy diet, but I don’t think food is the sole purpose of existence. I say, eating 3 freshly cooked meals including lots of veggies and sometimes dessert, is fair and healthy.

My poem is poking fun and should be taken tongue-in-cheek.

 

Healthy Eating: the resistance

“8 glasses of water, they say”
What nonsense, I’ll be on the loo all day!

“Fill your day with superfoods”
If I don’t have chocolate it’ll affect my moods! 

“5 a day veggies and fruit”
What about biscuits?, give it the boot!

“A moment on the lips, a life time on the hips”
Who cares! It doesn’t matter if it’s tasty chips!

“Cut down on coffee and tea”
I can’t do that, what would my life be!?!?

Healthy eating is such a bore,
Need some proper food, am off to the store!

Scrunching the Credit Crunch

As at November 2011, the news is dominated by the words credit crunch, austerity, cut backs, job cuts, fuel prices, banks, and topically, the bailout of Greece.

With high unemployment and the fierce competition for jobs, the current climate has had a thumping impact on my own life. Being an unemployed professional person, I have struggled to find decent work. I look at the wealth of experience on my CV, and puzzle, what’s missing? My brain hurts and my ego is deflated. After a day of job searching and tedious job applications, receiving rejection after rejection, I feel wretched. Many moons ago, when I left law school, I was hideously in debt (all now paid off, thank God) but it makes me wonder if it was worth it. With tuition fees rising to £9,000 PER ANNUM! I am seriously concerned for our future generations. The proposals are that graduates will pay only once they earn a certain amount. All this sugar coating doesn’t matter. A debt is still a debt. (My debts seem like a walk in the park compared to what future generations will owe, scary indeed, but that is another discussion).

I am a ‘glass is half full’ kind of person. Despite this miserable state of affairs, I have actually remained really positive for myself and for others. In our country, I can see that we are not starving, most people I know are clothed well, have plenty of water, and roofs over their heads. Anything more is a bonus. My local town put on a big fireworks display for bonfire night. This is surely luxury!

In recent years, I have learnt more about economics and business. Also, being in a situation of little or no income, has made me rethink how I spend my money, and ultimately, how I view wealth. The eureka light has switched on, money is simply a means to end!! If my needs are being met then having a small income is not so bad after all. In spending my time and money, I have thought ‘out of the box’ (my very empty money box). I would like to share my two pence with the world, and here is the list:

1) Foremostly, it’s really important to make sure the basics covered: food, clothes and shelter. Achieving a sense of security should never be underestimated. Without these things, we cannot move forward to achieve other things. There is no point in paying an iPhone tariff, if you don’t have enough for your food bill. (People of the Apple cult might think that iPods/iPones/iPads are more important than food!)

2) I have found that offers of buy one get one free, 3 for 2, buy one get one half price can be a bit of a trap. The irony is we end up spending more money! Before we are lured in we should ask our selves if we really need what’s on offer. I have tended to spend less money if I focus on the items I really need rather than being swayed by offers. What was meant to be a £3 shop for milk and bread, some how turns into a £20 shop with offers galore to tempt us. Next time you see a BOGOF (Buy One Get One Free offer), tell it to BOG-OF!

3) Throw a swap party! What is a swap party? You probably have a lot of good clothes and stuff lying around which you don’t use anymore, and your friends have the same. A great way to get rid of it is to invite your friends around and get them to bring their ‘stuff’ and put it all on display, you can then ‘swap’ items with friends. Alternatively, if you have nothing to swap, your friend will probably give it to you as they don’t want it anway! It’s a win-win-win situation. You just need to be diplomatic if too many divas have their eyes on the pristine-black-perfect for the office-Gucci bag!

4) Buy your essentials in the post-Christmas or summer sale! Learnt this from my mum (or rather she forced it upon me, bless her) I always buy items such as shoes and jumpers in the sale to use in the coming year. Over time, I have saved hundreds of pounds by not paying the full price on essentials. I’m sure the stores still make a profit with sale mark-ups.

5) One of the most fun things in our garden is our fig tree. We love to pick the fruit off and eat it. It’s a great feeling to eat from your own garden. We’ve also had tomatoes and coriander. If you have a patch of soil or space for plant pots, it’s so much fun to grow your own fruit and vegetables. If you are lazy, just stick with the easy plants. I’m no expert gardener so you’ll have to visit your local garden centre or library for tips. It’s well worth the research. We’ve saved £s by having our own figs.

6) Visit boot fairs and charity shops. I must say, I prefer to buy new clothes but there are so many other bargains! You might even find new clothes but at the fraction of the price! Boot fairs are a great way to get rid of unwanted items, make money, and go snooping for bargains. They are advertised in the local paper. The major-bonus point of buying from charity shops is that you’ll be supporting some good causes.

7) Create a culture of borrowing and lending with your friends. We recently had teenage cousins stay with us. My neighbour kindly lent us some DVDs, games and magazines. Not only good for neighbourly relations, it also saved me money from renting films or buying games. But make sure you take care of other people’s goodies and return them promptly!

8) If you have a local grocery, up to 20 minutes walk, why not walk to it for essentials instead of driving. Over time it saves a small fortune in petrol money. Also a great way to get some fresh air and light, and a nice feeling to meet people out on the streets (well I think it’s nice! The extrovert I am)

There you go: my little offering to help us ‘scrunch the credit crunch’. I hope you liked them. If you have your own, do share. But for now, back to job searching for me whilst munching on a free fig…..

The origin and design of life

One of my favourite things is the wonder of Natural Science. I love to find out how things work, grow, react and so on. From the inconceivably small electron to the immense Planet Jupiter, all of these things are exciting for me, and a constant source of reflection.

Most often I find that when man creates a thing that ‘works’, it usually has a naturally designed counter part. Are aeroplanes not fashioned like great birds? And when we think about it, do trains not look like giant caterpillars slithering on the tracks? There is even a branch of science called biomimicry in which scientists analyse nature to see how things work to incorporate them into manmade technology.

Personally, I think that man cannot improve on nature, and to date has not been able to do so. If you lose an eye or an arm, there is simply no better replacement for your loss.

When I look at the design of natural things, especially life, it is always intricate and sophisticated. It is astonishing to think of the anatomy and physiology of the eye. When light hits the retina, information is transmitted by the optic nerve to our brain and we see the world, quite miraculously. I cannot believe this highly intelligent design has come about by chance or ‘natural selection’, as it is widely accepted.

I have recently completed a short course on microbiology. Reading a chapter on the origins of life has promoted me to write this short blog. The course book points out that the oldest known life on earth are microbes. Ancient fossils of microbial activity have been found in Australia which are 2400 million years old! The common ancestor of all life is accepted as the Last Universal Common Ancestor (LUCA). It is speculated that the living conditions of the LUCA were harsh due to volcanic activity and bombardment of asteroids.

So how did the LUCA come to live on the earth?, I will quote the following part, which grabbed my attention:

“Even though it was the first organism, the LUCA was complex. It consisted of everything needed for a cell to survive and reproduce in a very harsh environment, such as enzymes, proteins, lipids, carbohydrates, etc. The probability that all these formed together and assembled themselves into a living cell by chance is so small as to be inconceivable. It seems much more likely that the origins of the LUCA were a step-wise development from simple chemicals. The reality is that scientists just don’t know how this could have occurred. Scientists have successfully managed to make amino acids and nuclieic acids from simple carbon building blocks in the laboratory, but nobody has yet worked out how these molecules would assemble into a self-replicating organism”
(Empire of Microbes, 2009, The Open University)

The course book was written by a team of scientists. It is interesting to note their conclusions after years of study and empirical research. These observations are difficult to ignore. For me, they make a convincing argument that life was designed by an intelligent being, and did not come about by chance. I would call such a being ‘God’. As a follower of the religion of Islam, it’s teachings reinforce this view. Some ayahs of the Quran, Islam’s holy book, come to mind:

Surah 31 Luqman

10. He created the heavens without any pillars that ye can see; He set on the earth mountains standing firm, lest it should shake with you; and He scattered through it beasts of all kinds. We send down rain from the sky, and produce on the earth every kind of noble creature, in pairs.

16. “O my son!” (said Luqman), “If there be (but) the weight of a mustard-seed and it were (hidden) in a rock, or (anywhere) in the heavens or on earth, Allah will bring it forth: for Allah understands the finest mysteries, (and) is well-acquainted (with them).

This post is not meant to be preaching in anyway. My intention is to be thought provoking, and to highlight there can be a marriage of science and religious faith.

You may be unconvinced and take the view that life happened by chance and continued by natural selection. Nevertheless, whatever we think, this is such a tremendous topic, and there is still so much to discover. I am sure the discourse will never end.

No man is an island, or is he now?

As the years have rolled on I’ve noticed that more and more, we are growing distant from each other. Today the world has the telephone, text messaging, internet and email so we are more connected than ever but it is an artificial connection. Nothing beats quality time with friends and family, with their physical presence. I bet you’ve forgotten nearly every telephone conversation you’ve had but can remember being with a loved one, perhaps sitting on the beach? or perhaps enjoying a dinner party? So isn’t it true that the physical world is Very Important!? It should take priority over the virtual existence we’ve created.

On a regular basis I come across loneliness or depression in one shape or form: either reading about it, on TV or meeting people who are suffering. I can’t help but think that one reason is that these people have not forged real and lasting bonds with others, either  because of circumstances or their own doing. Who’s ever heard of a child, who was loved and cared for by their parents, but was lonely and depressed? I never have! (I know I’m making generalisations). Regularly meeting with loved ones adds so much value to our lives.

Back to the virtual world, truly it has great advantages. For the more the sociable, it simply enhances our lives by making it easier to connect and meet our loved ones. However, do you not get a sense that for some, it is replacing the real world? And coupled with long working hours and various demands of our time, it is leading to community disintegration. We may not have time to go for lunch with each other but in a free moment we can whip out our phone and type a quick “status update”.

There are so many facets to this topic and I’ve left a lot of things out to keep this blog short. If you have anything to add, please feel free.

I started this poem a couple of years ago but I completed it yesterday. I hope you like it!

No man is an Island, or is he now?

6.30am, the alarm wakes me from my slumber

Bloody hell, it’s Sunday!, drat no!, it’s Monday, oh what a blunder

Brush my teeth, take a shower, get dressed,

Have breakfast, sitting alone, stick on the news, the world is messed!

Alone in my beamer, switch on the radio, listen a bit

Beep beep, receive a text, scramble to read it

Coffee a my desk, 10 minutes early, let’s catch up on facebook

Like this, like that, poke him, poke her, my status update, had enough look

4 hours typing away,

Time for lunch, HURRAY!

Ask my friend, want to go for a sandwich?

She says, sorry am working through, don’t want a hitch!

Munching through lunch, out with the phone,

Texting, tweeting, updating my status, having a good moan.

At my desk, 3 hours typing away,

Time for home, HURRAY!

Dinner at the coffee table, no one to talk to, watching TV

It’s a lot of twaddle which is boring me

My friend calls asking, want to meet this Friday?

I say, sorry getting my hair cut, let’s meet another day

Surfing the net, a lot of nonsense to be read

Oh look at the clock, it’s time for bed!

Lying in bed thinking,  am quiet as a stone

I have everything I want but am feeling alone….why?

Fake Lives

I wrote the following poem a couple of years ago when I felt hard done by a person being fake with me. It made me think about how much “fakeness” there is in the world: from fake people to fake things. I can put up with a lot of things but I can’t stand fake behaviour. It felt good to put my observations into a little poem.

Being real may be tough at times but there is something superior about real things and real people.

Fake Lives

Fake talk, fake walk

Fake dude, Fake food

Fake books, Fake looks

Fake smile, Fake file

Fake thank you!, Fake how are you?

Fake hair, Fake swear

Fake flowers, Fake powers.

Real good, Real tough

Real pain, Real rough

Real World, Live in it Real!