Having chosen to swallow the red pill...

Wednesday, August 31, 2005

United Nations?

Ladies & Gentlemen, I would like to interrupt today's normal brand of waffle to try and correct a big misunderstanding that seems to be about to occur in New York this week.

I was actually about to sit down and harp on about misappropriation of foreign donor aid in Malawi, but that will have to wait, I read about this misunderstanding today and it is more urgent.

To quickly sum up, so we all start from the same page... as many of you know, part of my morning routine is to sit with a cup of coffee and scan the BBC news. I know that some of you also do this and some of you view the news as definitive proof of Satan. Be that as it may, as I scanned the news today, there was an article about Kofi Annan returning a week early from his holiday in Ghana to sort out a crisis in the UN. To mark 60 years of the United Nations, Mr. Annan has been trying to bring about a sweeping set of reforms, aimed at 're-defining the organisation for the 21st Century' or basically to modernise the organisation so it is better equipped to tackle the key issues of our time. These reforms include management changes and increased action to meet millennium goals to reduce poverty and promote development.

You can just imagine all of the leg work needed to get all the member countries of the UN to agree on the reforms and pull them into a document, but finally this was achieved and the 38 page draft document was presented to the general assembly earlier this month, charting some pretty substantial reforms...

... I know, you are waiting for the 'BUT' and here it comes... 'BUT' right at the last minute, USA's new ambassador to the UN, John Bolton suddenly steps up to the mike and asks for hundreds of changes. Not a few, but hundreds and not whilst the issues were being debated, but right at the last minute when everyone had agreed. Hmmmm, I sense some heavy-handed 'diplomacy' here. It is like letting me cross the playground, decide what I want to eat and letting me just about get to the serving table before you steal my lunch money! (You somehow get the feeling that had the objections been raised by say, Botswana, they may not have resulted in the document having to be re-drafted, but that is just a feeling I get.)

And what were some of these changes or 'objections'? I am sure that these will come as no great surprise...

- Objections to references to an International Criminal Court (as they may possibly have something to say about Guantanamo Bay or the extradition of 'suspected terrorists' the 3rd party countries where torture is commonplace)
- Objections to increased action to combat global warming (it is probably getting increasingly expensive to buy the emission rights from pristine woodland in Siberia so that factories don't need to invest in environmentally clean & sustainable production methods, which may mean slightly reduced shareholder return for a few years)
- Objections to increased development aid. (This one actually surprised me as it the normal rule of thumb is that if I give you a dollar or two, that automatically gives me the right to meddle in your country's politics. Take the AIDS fight in Uganda for example)

And what other major changes need to be brought about, I hear you ask...
- Greater commitment to tackling terrorism
- Greater commitment to tackling nuclear proliferation.

Let's just put it this way. I know that literacy rates in the US aren't that high, but most 5 year olds over here in Sweden could tell you that USA is not the same as UN.

Maybe I am over-reacting, but I would be really interested to hear what y'all thing about this...

Monday, August 29, 2005

1 weekend, 5 pictures

Friday evening we went over to Ellie's parents for dinner. Their apartment has a wonderful view over the ocean between Malmö and Copenhagen. It is fun sitting on their balcony and looking with the binoculars over the water to Copenhagen. Malmö is currently hosting Acts 6 & 7 of the America's Cup sailing competition, so we have been able to sit on their balcony and watch the action. Malmö also hosts a week long festival at the end of August each year, with activities, bands and themed tents situated throughout the city. The end of the festival is always celebrated with an amazing fireworks display. This normally takes place in the middle of the town, but due the the sailing competition and the fact that 'celebrities' like Richard Branson had that boats parked just outside our window, they decided to hold the firework display on the coast. It worked perfectly for us as we could avoid the crowds, pour a whisky and just go out onto the balcony and watch.

On Saturday, we celebrated the wedding of our good friends Meral and Alf. They had a lovely wedding service where Meral's father acted as priest. His speech was absolutely fantastic (I hope one day I can hold a speech like that for my kids). The whole speech was in German and was based around the hymn that she had chosen for the service. The food was delicious and the evening was very chilled out with good company.

Here is Ellie and I just before we had to jump into the car. We had to bend the speed limit a bit to get to the wedding on time, which would account for Ellie's slightly worried look in the photo ;-)
(As you can see, I still haven't managed to get a haircut, so for those who asked, consider this my 'before' shot)

Here is the happy couple. Congratulations you two! You both look absolutely gorgeous.

Sunday started leisurely and then it was time for free-trainig at ju-jutsu. Bear claimed to still be recovering from the armbreaker I pulled out of my weapon cabinet for him last Thursday, so Joachim kindly stepped in as my partner and we had a good hour and a half on the mat, running through blocks, locks, throws, un-armed and weapons techniques.

After ju-jutsu (and after I had cleaned the house) it was Ellie's cousin's 16th birthday party. She obviously had one party where all us old folk weren't invited and then we get to come round a few days later, mainly just to drop the presents off ;-) Happy Birthday Micaela!

Friday, August 26, 2005

Paper and pen ready...

Ok, it's Friday Quiz Time. I would have liked to call it 'Friday's 5 at Five' but I just can't be arsed to remember to post it at 5 and besides, 5pm here is 4pm in UK and 11am with Annabella in Washington DC. I don't know, the problems of having a blog with an international readership! So, the bad news is that it will simply be known henceforth as Friday Quiz Time™, the good news is that is will be a regular feature and I have been working hard to pull together some 'interesting' questions. It is my hope that Friday Quiz Time™ will enable us to get to know one another a little bit better, will maybe enable us to get to know ourselves a little bit better and above all, will be a bit of fun to get us in the mood for the coming weekend.

So, without further ado...

Question 1: We are a little bit over half way through the year. Be honest now, how well are you doing with your New Year's resultions? (Bonus Question, if you are feeling really brave, maybe you want to share a few of them with us so we can support you on your way to a loving, rich and beautiful life)

Question 2: Tell us about something that you saw/read /heard/experienced recently that stuck in your mind and why it stuck there?

Question 3: If you wrote a book, what would the first and/or last line be?

Question 4: When is the last time you stood up for yourself?

Question 5: Friday Freebe...tell us anything you want about music!

Thursday, August 25, 2005

Man seeks haircut.

Ok, so I survived my swimming. The first class of a new term is always a little hectic and to make matters worse, the parents sit on the benches to watch, just in case little Johnny can't be without Mommy. I think what makes me a bit apprehensive is that I hold the classes in Swedish and sometimes lack the vocabulary to explain to a 5 year old what they should be doing with their arms and legs in order to swim breastroke. Creativity is far easier to come by in your mother-tongue.

Today will be a good day if I can book a haircut and get a time very, very soon. Today is also time for ju-jitsu. This evening I will enter the sanctity of the dojo, meet my fellow pugilists (including Bear who has promised to shed my blood) and I will get rid of some excess energy, a little bit like playing with a kid two hours before bedtime to ensure that they sleep deeply ;.-)

After training, I will work out tomorrow’s 5 questions for Quiz Time, so get paper and pen ready…

Wednesday, August 24, 2005

It's not what or even who you know, it's what your bottom looks like

A little bit like those scary movie parodies 'I know what you did last summer' and so on, we can now all say 'I know what you did this morning.'

Today I will continue my temp job working with database entry verification, basically going through endless spreadsheets and checking them against the data entered in a database and correcting the data as necessary. This is something that I do surprisingly fast and accurately, but it is not a talent that I boast about at parties!

In the afternoon, I drive to a little town about 20km south of here, called Vellinge, where I am a swimming instructor. I instruct in baby swim (3months to 2 years old), mini swim (2-5 years) and will today start as an instructor for swim school (5-7). I am actually a little apprehensive as not only will I have a pool of twenty 5 year olds, but also I have never instructed at swim school and I have never met the other person I will be instructing with. I haven't been given information about the purpose or aim of the different classes and groups, I don't know whether I am leading the classes or assisting. Basically I don't have much to go on and will have to wing it like a champion.

When I first started working there, one of my many tasks was to hold the warm-up for the children before swim class started. The mums told me that the kids really enjoyed the warm-up, especially the part where we would stretch as high as we could into the air to pluck an apple from a tree, and then crouch down to put it in a basket. One day, I discovered that maybe wasn't just the kids who were enjoying my warm-ups; as I hung up my swimming togs to dry, I noticed that they had become so worn at the back that they had become see-through! In a slight panic, I pulled them on, faced the mirror, turned around slowly, and sure enough, there was my rather fine bottom! (no pictures today unfortunately)

Luckily I didn't get fired for indecent exposure and when I asked the instructor who hired me why she didn't point out that my trunks were see through, she smiled and told me that that is why I got the job in the first place...

Tuesday, August 23, 2005

Morning routines

Each and every morning, once my alarm goes off, I go straight into the bathroom and splash my face with cold water. I then come downstairs and start my morning exercises. In-between swapping from press-ups to sit-ups, I fill the kettle and prepare my coffee press.

Once I have finished my exercises I bring my coffee press through into the lounge and go online. I am fortunate to have both broadband and a router, so I can surf wherever in the house. Depending on the weather I either sit inside or I sit outside on the verandah. As I am waiting for my coffee to brew, I normally go straight to the BBC's website and catch-up on news and current affairs. From there, I normally have a quick look at my blog and other blogs to see if there has been any evening activity.

Whilst I am doing this, I slowly press down the filter in my coffee press and fill my cup. At this point I stop everything, take a deep breath and then take a sip of my coffee. I just savour the taste and let it filter through to every fibre in my body. I normally just sit there for a while with my coffee, just taking the day in around me. Once I have drunk my first cup, the spell is broken and I start to get ready and get on with my day.

When we were commuting together to work in London, my Dad once said to me that I shouldn't hate the mornings, but rather I should develop a routine and then use it, rather like an old, comfortable bathrobe, to ease my way into the day.

What routines do you have each morning of the week?

Monday, August 22, 2005

My weekend in photos

I thought that I would do something different this Monday morning and simultaneously set a challenge for those of you who have blogs (and provide some nice pictures for those of you who don't).

The aim is to use 5 photos to provide your readers with a representation of your weekend. I have tried to use my photos like a pictorial haiku, a collage of a few images which communicate the essence of my weekend, hopefully not only, for example showing me on a beach, but also enabling you to feel the sand in between your toes. I am, of course, talking bollocks now... anyway, here are my 5 pictures...

Friday, August 19, 2005

Friday's 5 Questions

It is getting a little chilly around blogland for me at the moment. My best friend James has moved back from Dubai to the paradise city of Stoke and is pretending to work so hard there expanding his company's business in Eastern Europe that he barely graces my blog these days. In one foul swoop, I lost both my ability to claim that my blog was being read as far away as Dubai and my hit counter stopped increasing on a daily basis. My little brother, Mark is busy hosting an event for his company, see (http://www.pensthorpe.co.uk) and once he is back, he goes straight into another event. He barely has time for his dog and chickens, not to mention visiting his bother's site. And then there is Bear, always a safe bet for either a sarcastic comment or two, or a direct challenge to add to my bruise collection at Ju-jutsu. Even he seems to have gone on to better things... :-(

But, all is not lost. A warm welcome to my dear friend Annabella, choosing to swallow the red pill all the way from Washington. Glad to have you here babe! And then there is Åsa, a friend of ours, who is just about to graduate as a nurse. It was Åsa's birthday yesterday. And then of course there is Theresa, newly found in blog cyberspace. Theresa's blog (see 'It's all about ME' in my links) attracted me as she has the courage to look life's challenges in the face. And last, but by no means least, there is Jodie (see 'Blissful Days and Soulful Cascades'). Jodie's blog is a must to read each and every day. Not only does Jodie represent for me the 'modern lady' (yes, I will define this upon request), she is also tuned into the world in a way that most of us have forgotton. If you want to see the power of simple pleasures, if you want to see synchronicity and intuition at work, if you want to see someone living life with a fire raging in her belly, if you want to learn; then grab a coffee and read Jodie's site. For my female readers, she also has a regular 'hunk of the week' with rather fine specimens of manhood (although she hasn't featured me there...yet ;-)... and for the icing on the cake, I received my first comment spam today. Many thanks to Tony867 for providing me with an insighful guide to the investment opportunities and commodity prices of wood and aluminium!

It's Friday, so I decided to get to know all of my readers a little better by giving you a little quiz. I might, if I can remember, make it a regular thing, with a couple of questions each week, so I can get to know you better and you can get to know one another. You can post your answers in my comments box...

Question 1: Who is you hero(s) and why?
Question 2: If you could have three wishes, what would they be?
Question 3: If you could eat anything you want right now, what would you eat and who would cook it?
Question 4: When you read this (http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/uk_news
/england/london/4163314.stm) how does it make you feel?
Question 5: If you could change one thing about your life, what would it be?

Wednesday, August 17, 2005

I can see you...

We went for the last of our 'official' scans yesterday, where they check that hopefully the baby has turned and where they check important measurements like head and torso diameter and give an estimated birth weight.

Everything went well. The doctor was very satisfied with how things are looking and our little baby is already in head down position and is estimated at a healthy 3,5kg at birth. For those of you who want to know, it was unavoidable not to see that our little baby will in fact be a baby boy. This we knew earlier, but they wanted to check it once more to be sure as things can be confusing when they are developing. So confusing infact that someone whom one of Ellie's friends knew got the early indications that they were going to have a boy and decorated the whole baby room for a boy, only to find that he had miraculously changed to a she, by the time the last scan was made! Anyway, in our case there he was and there 'they' were. What can I say? He made me proud! - So, as he was being uncooperative and refused to show his face, we came back with a partial picture of his face, obscured by his arms and then, for some reason, the doctor also decided to give us a detailed picture of his balls! So there you go. A Boy.

We went to our first pre-natal course on Monday, where, with the help of a model baby, a plastic pelvis and a life-size placenta cushion and fabric umbilical chord, we went through what happens under a normal delivery, what complications can occur and what they do then. Despite the fact that Ellie is due on October 1st, the 'normal' range for birth spans over 4 weeks, 2 weeks ahead of due date through to two weeks after due date. So, with Ellie's due date being in around 6 weeks time, around about 4 weeks from now, we need to have the bag packed and waiting by the door, the car full of fuel and some spare change for the parking meters!

In the meantime, we can expect contractions to occur as the womb starts practising, plenty of massages to help Ellie relax, plenty of cushions to help her sit and sleep with some degree of comfort, pasta to build up a store of carbohydrates for the big day and loads of spinach, dried apricots and nuts to hike up her iron values. I have become a Master of Spinach, doing spinach salads, spinach pastas, spinach omlettes, spinach soup. I think that by the time we have the little one home, neither Ellie or I will want to see a spinach leaf again in quite a while.

As for me, I am getting ready in my own way. I feel that what will happen soon will change my life unalterably. I will be initiated if not from boy to man, then definately from man to MAN. I will become a father and instincts deep inside me will wake-up and come to the surface. I will be the same person, but not the same person. I am trying to 'educate' myself now on how I can best support Ellie during these last few weeks. I am reading everything I can on the delivery process, so I understand what is going on and can concentrate myself on helping Ellie and that I have some idea how I can help. I am reading about the first year and practical things like what temperature bath water should be, how to comfort him, how best to hold him. Before Ellie went into hospital, I was afraid of the little baby. The sheer vulnerability and the responsibility on us as we brought the little tyke home for the first time. Then, whilst Ellie was in hospital, in the maternity ward, we were surrounded by new-borns and I gradually started to feel less scared and more ready. It is like the father in me started off as a small scared little boy. Unconfident and insecure in his role and now, over time, has turned into something more solid. I am going to be a Father and I am ready.

Monday, August 15, 2005

Wearing my spirit

Bone carvings have always been highly meaningful within Maori culture as bone is the building block of the skeleton and the material itself thus becomes the building block of life. It is imbued with the spirit of its carrier and its carver and, over time, as the bone slowly turns from bleached white to honey-coloured with the body oils of its wearer, it becomes imbued with their spirit too.

The different shapes of the carvings carry different meanings and significances. For instance, the traditional hook design, or Hei-matua represents abundance, strength and protection, especially over water. The koru or spiral represents new beginnings, purity and spirituality. The belief is that a carving given and received with love and worn with respect, transfers its power to the wearer and in return the wearer shares his/her spirit with the carving. These carvings were then passed through generations, bearing with them the spirits of the ancestors and they became Taonga, powerful and precious treasures. To follow tradition a carving should be given and received with love as opposed to being purchased by the intended wearer.

As you may know from a previous post, my much treasured carving broke earlier this year and I was upset, as I believe in my carvings spiritual dimension, and, in a way that is hard to describe (especially to a bunch of sceptics ;-) feel that since wearing my carving, I have taken an extra element into myself and my life has been positively influenced.

...anyway, to cut a long story short, I sent my carving back and the artist, Lilach Paul, incorporated the centre-piece from my old carving into a new carving, enabling my to have the continuity that I wanted. Last week, I finally received my new carving and am both happy and relieved to be wearing it again. My carving is a one-off and is called 'The Union'. It represents union, protection, strength and love and, as the Hei-matu is enclosed in a larger structure, it also represents insight and connection to the bigger picture or to something greater than myself.

If any of you reading this feel that a carving would be a nice gift for someone special or indeed, feel that you need to persuade someone special to give a carving to you, I can thoroughly recommend looking at the following site: http://www.boneart.co.nz

They have standard carvings and then a gallery of one-off custom carvings from several talented artists. Don, the owner, is absolutely excellent and really helpful and you can mail him if you have any questions or if you have a design of your own that you would like carved.

Friday, August 12, 2005

A touch of magic in our everyday lives

* Warning, comments on Harry Potter & The Half-Blood Prince to follow *

I know I am behind the times, but there was a problem with my Amazon order of Harry Potter due to arrive on the very date of release, but not released to me as I had been sent a new credit card from UK the month before and, as it could only be activated in UK, had not yet activated it. The net result is that my old card defaulted when they tried to charge me and I never got my book! This is where my lovely Mum steps up to the rescue, buys the book, reads it and then sends it out with Mark.

So, on tuesday I read the book from cover to cover. Each page was a subtle mixture of pleasure and pain. Pleasure from the story and from the culmination of waiting and pain from the fact that each page brought me closer to the end of the book. Now it is over and I am gutted. I have to wait God knows how long until the final book comes out.

And what did I think? ... well, the book is in my humble opinion a masterful game of chess. Not a lot really happened in the 500 odd pages, but the story was still gripping enough to keep me from eating for most of the day. Now, at the end, all the pieces have been assembled for a thrilling final, without leaving the reader with any real clue about what will happen. Sure, there are certain inevitable conclusions to be drawn. Harry will meet Voldermort. Ron and Hermione will play a role and Snape & Malfoy will be there too, but what will happen and how... well, I almost feel pissed off about having to wait. Good work, Ms. Rowling.

I hate it when that happens though, when I get so wrapped-up in a series that I am actually sad when it finally finishes. I was the same with Robin Hobbs books about the Fool & the Liveship Traders. I was the same with the Matrix trilogy, Lord of the Rings and have been the same with Star Wars despite the fact that the last three films were a disappointment. I can't wait to read the final instalment of Harry Potter, but I know that each page I turn will be bittersweet as the story and the characters slowly come to an end. Then stop.

J.K.Rowlings success has been well documented, but what is interesting is 'what is it about Harry Potter that appeals to so many, both young and old?' In some ways, she plays on age-old themes, the same that sit behind Star Wars, or the Lord of the Rings, namely the ancient battle between good and evil. Then there is the elevation of a 'normal' person. The chance for someone who is to all appearances 'normal' to be special, to be a hero. Not only that, but the other people around him are also special too, in their own way. Hidden in there is the hope that we are also a chosen one, and that all of us, in our own ways, are special. After that comes, of course, the attraction of the world of magic, especially in today's world where science seeks to explain everything and modern materialism cheats us into thinking we have our own unique identity when we just want what everyone else wants and few will ever get. Through all that comes magic. Who amongst us wouldn't like to be able to do 'magic'. Conjure-up a doughnut when we are feeling hungry, enhance our bust or crotch line before a big night out ;-) or look out the window and sigh as the Porsche gleams in the driveway and our nemesis wakes-up with a bad case of the runs. Harry Potter provides a break from the ordinary, a fight between good and evil where the good finally wins out and a touch of magic to provide a welcome break from everyday reality. Just what we need going into the weekend...

Wednesday, August 10, 2005

A visit, a busy boy and a wedding anniversary

Good morning fellow bloggers and readers, it is about time that I reported in and offered-up something for your coffee breaks!

Well, where to start? We had a great long weekend with Mark & Anna. True to form when you have guests, the weather was remarkably bad, with some low temperatures and rain; just perfect for showing people around and showing a new country at its best. Despite that, we managed to have some lazy breakfasts, did some shopping and some walking and we did see one of the beaches we normally go to, but only I went swimming. Then, as is typical for these visits, after it seemed like we had only just picked them up, it was time to drive to the airport again. Sad, but everyone had a good time. It is funny to think that next time I see my brother, he will be an uncle.

Mark & Anna's departure also kind of signalled the end of my holidays too. Although technically I still have 2 1/2 weeks to go, things get pretty serious from here on in. The ju-jutsu terms started this week, my exercise routines started too and I am reading my university books in earnest. I was at a trainer's meeting for my swimming yesterday and the new term starts the week after next. This term I will be doing a mixture of baby swim, mini swim and swim school, so it will be a bit of a variety. Next week and the following week, I will be working and this friday, I complete my consultancy assignment together with a small ad agency here in town. Then that's it, the summer holidays are over and term starts.

It is funny really how you move in and out of routines. Sitting here, I start to wonder how I will fit it all in during the Autumn, what with studying full time, working, training ju-jutsu, exercising, time for Ellie and time for friends and not to mention in due course the effects of an additional bundle of joy, but somehow I know that I will. Somehow the weeks will become more structured; somehow I will get more out of 5 minutes than I do now. It feels like a ball that uses the angle of a curve to gather momentum and then slings itself down its trajectory with even greater speed. These next few weeks are the curve and I hit the straight line on Monday 29th August.

Today is also Ellie and my 3rd wedding anniversary. 3 years ago and 150km north of here, we got married. 8 years and 3 months ago and 1400km south of here, we first met. So, on this, our 3rd wedding anniversary, I would like to offer a little poem that I wrote:

I wish that I had given this to you on our wedding day

If every moment consists of
a thousand different choices,
and if each choice,
leads to a thousand possible futures,
then once
in that moment then,
I made a choice,
which stopped the wheel of all possible futures
on this one.
Which became now,
which became you.
And by choosing you,
I acknowledge my past,
my present
and choose again,
my future.

Thursday, August 04, 2005

This evening...

... my kid brother (pictured above) and his lurvley girlfriend, Anna, will finally get here and my long wait will come to an end. I feel like a kid that only has a few hours to go before it's 'ok' to wake-up Mum & Dad and rip open your stocking presents on the end of their bed, whilst they desperately scramble for coffee! We have got what I hope will be a fun long weekend planned and it should give us a good opportunity to catch-up, chill out and for Anna to see something of where we live (although I promise, Anna, that the weather is not normally this bad and I am once again, seriously considering emigrating to Hawaii!)

In the meantime, there are things to do and people to see. Based on the recommendation of the photographer I have been working with, as he was most impressed with my professional demeanour and natural talent, I have once again been called to offer my services as a glove model this morning. So whilst you are reading this at work or at home, I will be posing my heart out under bright lights being photographed with a Hasselblad no less!

Well, must dash, as for some un-godly reason, work over here starts at 08:00 instead of 09:00 and I need to be at the studio in time to compose myself for the morning's work ;-)

Have a great one guys and girls, I know I will!

Wednesday, August 03, 2005

Thinking about what is possible and what isn't

I received part of my brother's birthday present through the post yesterday and it made me happy. It was a book of poems by a young poet called Mattie Stepanek , called 'Heartsongs' .

Mattie's poems reflect his youth in that they are simple, yet their message points time and time again to those very aspects of life that we overlook in our headstrong pursuit of whatever. His poems are a reminder to stop and look around us, a reminder to count our blessings and a reminder of the pleasures that can be gained from the simple things in life. Mattie writes with an incredible feeling for the power and pleasure of life in this moment and of the necessity for each of us to discover or re-discover our 'Heartsongs' and share them with others.

Mattie was awarded the Melinda Lawrence International Book Award for his poetry and has five published volumes of poetry to his name. This poetry is in the House of Congress and he was an avid keynote speaker all over America and a goodwill ambassador for the Muscular Dystrophy Association, a black belt in the Korean martial art of Hapkido and a philosopher with a mission to remind the world that life is a gift.

Mattie died last year aged 13 as he suffered from dysautonomic mitochondrial myopathy, a form of muscular dystrophy that had already claimed the lives of his two older brothers and his older sister. The disease meant that most of the bodily functions that we take for granted such as digestions, walking, regulating our body temperature and breathing were difficult for him. He was wheelchair bound and was on a respirator 24 hours a day. I believe that Mattie is a case of an old soul being in a young body with the purpose of teaching us something. In Mattie's case, it is to inspire us all to count our blessings, treat every day as special and to re-evaluate what we believe is possible or impossible to achieve in our lives.

I would like to share on of Mattie's poems here with you today (and hope that Mattie, his Mom or his publishers don't mind)...

Summer Rememberies by Mattie Stepanek

After everyone has
A smoky cookout at Chip's house,
And the grown-ups make
Music on their guitars for singing and dancing,
And the children take
Off their shoes and run
Around the backyard catching
Lightning bugs in the dark -
Then, it is a very good time to be
And that 'then' is
A very good time and
A very good feeling to remember

Monday, August 01, 2005

A new month...

It is the beginning of a new month and what do I have to report to you my dear readers.

Today is the first day that my new mobile contract kicked in! This represents a failure on my behalf. Having left the corporate reality of picking a new phone from a list once a year and over to my second dose of student reality, where the phone I had was practically a wind-up and dial, I have launched vivaciously into the art of 'Mobdo' - Japanese for 'The Way of the Mobile', also known as the art of scrounging once-used mobiles from others. Yes, all my working friends knew that once they swapped mobiles, rather than consign their old one to the desk drawer; it would find a welcome and warm home at my place. - I had a total of 3 mobiles promised to me and only a maximum of 3 months to wait until I had really quite a decent mobile in my grasp, free of charge. But no, last week, my old mobile finally died and I gave up the chase and brought a new one. My attempts to resist rampant materialism have failed. My attempts to summon monk-like patience have also failed. I am a bad person.

Today I began to read my first textbook for next term. It is Gidden's classic tome on Sociology. My reasoning is thus... sometime between now and a 4 hour essay-based exam, a combination of the following will happen. I need to put 1000 pages of information into my head and need to be able to use it to write one or two salient essays. My life will change with the birth of my first child. So, using my immense intelligence, I decided that each and every page I can read between now and the start of the term will be to my advantage! So, today being the 1st August, I learnt about the definition of Sociology, the major protagonists and a brief outline of key terms such as 'functionalism' 'conflict-based society' and 'symbolic interactionism'.

Today I went to the doctors as during the weekend, my asthma got worse and woke me at night. This was then followed by a panic attack, where my blood pressure dropped, I was covered in a cold sweat, my extremities went cold as the blood flowed to my torso, I was light headed, shivering uncontrollably and vomiting. Not a pretty picture and one that I need to fight on a conscious level as right now, this Monday evening, I am afraid to go to bed. I guess that the cortisone-based steroids must have kicked-in by now and I have the entire 5th episode of The Simpsons' just in case I can't sleep.

This month, I will begin working again as a swimming instructor for babies from the age of 3 months upwards to 2 and kids from 2 to 8. I will also work for a week in an accounting department, inserting date into a database for ease-of-accounting and I will learn how to manage the busy reception at the same company that I worked as a photo-model for. They get an average of 700 calls a day, so that will be an interesting learning experience. I will also conclude my consultancy project where I have been helping a small advertising agency in Malmö re-work their business plan and re-position themselves. August 29th, the university term kicks-off again with Sociology and Social-Politics!

This month, ju-jutsu starts up again after the summer schedule in our fantastic new dojo (see the pictures at www.mjjk.com - then choose 'bilder' from the top menu and scroll down to the bottom of the page and choose 'lokalen 050728') Included in the Autumn schedule are two morning sessions, on Tuesday and Friday mornings from 06:30-07:30. Ellie recons that I will not go to any of them. How many do you think I will go to? I will be working together with my training partner and the clubs esteemed Chairman 'Bear' towards my Green belt this term. Just before we broke for summer, we graded up to orange in what is reputed to be one of the most brutal gradings that the club has hosted (pictures can be found at www.mjjk.com/bilder/gradering till gult och orange 050522) We will see what happens when we step-up to grade to green. It kind of reminds my of Bachman Turner Overdrive's anthem 'You Ain't Seen Nothing Yet'. We have an open day this weekend, so Mark and Anna can come along and see me in action. Lucky them!

Today it is 3 days until my beloved brother and his wonderful girlfriend, Anna come out here to visit us. Go on, just hazard a guess as to whether or not I am excited!