Monday, July 17, 2017


It has become a pattern with us that we vacation every other year in Norway. Two years ago we drove to Rjukan and stayed there for a few days before ending up in Notodden for the blues festival. This year we decided to drive to Ålesund and Molde, as I have always wanted to see these cities. I have heard a lot about Ålesund and how I had to visit it. Molde is known as the city of roses and jazz. It is internationally famous for its annual jazz festival; this year, Pat Metheny and Herbie Hancock were among the invited performers. We arrived in Molde a week prior to the festival’s start, a smart idea given that most hotels are fully-booked during the festival week and we would not have gotten a room anywhere.

We left Oslo early on a Monday morning (July 10th) with the aim of making it to Fjærland the first day. We drove via Kongsberg and Geilo; the drive on the Fjærland Road took us through some lovely areas. Fjærland itself is a small town, but an incredibly lovely one on the Fjærland Fjord. We stayed at the Fjærland Fjordstue Hotel, run by Bård and Linda Huseby. We really enjoyed our short stay here, and can recommend this hotel. It is truly picturesque, situated right on the fjord, with a lovely terrace overlooking the water where one can sit outdoors and drink coffee or have a beer. The dining room also overlooks the water. We spent one night at the hotel, enjoyed a walk around town before dinner, and then a very good dinner afterward. I took some lovely photos of the fjord and the surrounding mountains on the morning of our departure.

On the advice of the hotel owner, we decided to check out the Supphellebreen glacier arm, which is not far from the hotel. We drove out to the edge of the arm and walked to the body of water that lies beneath the glacier arm. It is amazing to see something like this in person; I have never seen a glacier up close before, and was surprised to observe that the ice in the glacier had a bluish tinge. I took some photos, and then we drove on. At my urging, we decided to check out the Haugabreen glacier as well, but that turned out to be a rather nightmarish drive up a gravel-covered dirt road with a 20% incline in order to reach it. My husband is a good driver and his Porsche managed the trip up and down again, but I would not want to repeat the experience any time soon. I don’t have the nerves for steep narrow roads with no protective railings. I kept wondering if we would end up going over the edge. As it turned out, we made it to the top, but found out that we would have to walk a bit in order to reach the glacier, so we decided against doing that since we had a long drive ahead of us to Ålesund. On our descent, we met a large dump truck carrying gravel coming up the hill. There was no way we could pass it, and we could not back up as it would have meant backing up the hill from which we had descended, so the truck had to back down, and it did. I was impressed by the truck driver who took it all in stride. I would have been a nervous wreck.

We made it to Ålesund by late Tuesday afternoon and checked into the Brosundet Hotel, also right on the water. This hotel was also quite nice; I liked the fact that both breakfast and dinner were included in the price, also that the kitchen staff provided cake and coffee during the late afternoon before dinner. The dinners were standard fare—turkey wings the first evening and lamb stew the second evening—but it beat having to find an open restaurant (many restaurants close in July in Norway—right during the height of tourist season, which makes no sense to me at all). Those that were open were quite expensive; main courses were in the forty to fifty dollar price range. Overpriced, in my opinion. Ålesund is a quaint city, with many old stone buildings (a big fire in 1904 destroyed most of its wooden buildings), but there were a fair number of buildings in need of repair and renovation. It did not strike me as a wealthy city, but I could be wrong. While we were there, the annual boat festival got underway, and we enjoyed a flyboarding exhibition that was just about the coolest thing I have ever seen (see video in the next post). Otherwise, we walked around the entire city and out to the Aquarium, which is also known as the Atlantic Sea-Park (Atlanterhavsparken). The aquarium is well-worth visiting; it is right on the ocean, and has large outdoor open pools for seals, otters, and penguins. The large indoor open pool holds a variety of fish, manta rays, lobsters, starfish, and anemones.

We left Ålesund for Molde on Thursday morning, and arrived in Molde around lunchtime. The weather was very nice, so after we checked into our hotel (Molde Fjordstuer Hotel) we took a long walk around the city, ate lunch and then hung out at the hotel until dinnertime. This hotel was modern and quite stylish and I enjoyed staying here. It would be nice to visit the city again at some future point during the jazz festival.

We left Molde for Bygdin on Friday morning, with planned drives up Trollstigen and through Geiranger. I’ll let Wikipedia’s description of Trollstigen suffice—a serpentine mountain road,  narrow with many sharp bends, and although several bends were widened during 2005 to 2012, vehicles over 41 feet long are prohibited from driving the road. I’m very glad my husband is a good (and confident) driver and that his Porsche could make it up Trollstigen and then down and up the road to Geiranger, which was equally serpentine and a bit nerve-wracking in my opinion. We stopped to have coffee at the Hotel Utsikten (literally the View Hotel), which had breathtaking views of the Geiranger Fjord. After that, we drove on to Bygdin through mountain country, and arrived at the Bygdin Fjellstue Hotel in late afternoon. The nice weather was conducive for walking, so we took a good walk before dinner. We stayed at this hotel for one night (we stayed here before in 2002, my first trip to the mountains in Norway), and managed a walk along Bygdin Lake on Saturday morning before we left for home.

We were quite lucky with the weather; most of the time it was sunny and fairly warm. There was only one evening/morning in Ålesund when it rained heavily. Although there was a lot of driving on this trip, it was endurable because we drove along many scenic routes (my husband’s plan) rather than standard (often mind-numbing) highways. It’s no wonder that Norway is considered to be a beautiful country; this trip merely confirmed that fact. 

(I'll post photos in my next post, as well as videos of the flyboarding performance in Ålesund).

Sunday, July 9, 2017

Summers and the ice-cream man

I suppose everyone has their own memories of the ice-cream man when they were growing up. For those of us who grew up in Tarrytown and who loved the long summer days playing outdoors, it meant a daily visit from Eddie the ice-cream man in his white truck; he worked for the Good Humor Company. He would drive into Tappan Landing Road, make a U-turn at Henrik Lane and park in front of the 26 Tappan Landing Road apartment building. There would be a line of children waiting to buy ice cream cones, popsicles and sandwiches from him. It was always exciting to watch him reach into the truck’s freezer to retrieve what you had asked for. In my case, it was a toasted almond dessert bar; they were heavenly ( More favorites were the strawberry shortcake dessert bar ( and the standard ice-cream sandwich ( (not a giant version but just the regular-sized one). I think Eddie enjoyed handing out his ice-cream products as much as we enjoyed receiving them. Of course nothing was for free; but I don’t remember that we paid more than about 50 cents for what we wanted. Nowadays we’d pay much more.

Here in Oslo, I am reminded of Eddie the ice-cream man each time I hear the ice-cream truck play its familiar song. The Oslo ice-cream truck tune is just the opening riff from the theme music to Norge Rundt ( but it is so characteristic. You can hear it a mile away and recognize it instantly, knowing that the ice-cream truck is in the vicinity. I purchased some ice cream from the ice-cream vendor recently--ice cream sandwiches and Lollipop popsicles ( --also called saftis med sjokoladetrekk), both of which are very good. Even though it is many years ago since we were children, it is nice to have those memories of summer, and nice to know that ice cream trucks are not a thing of the past. 


Sunday, July 2, 2017

Wish we could fly like this for real

Love the song, but love the video even more. I'm waiting for the day when science makes it possible for us to fly like incredible that would be!

Gobbledygook or Newspeak in Modern Workplaces

From time to time I write about the modern workplace; the well will never run dry when it comes to finding ideas to write about when it comes to such workplaces. I am especially interested in public sector workplaces, since they seem to embody (or aim to embody by design) the worst business philosophies and ideas that crawl out from under the slimy rocks where they’ve sprouted. Modern workplaces in Norway and elsewhere often adopt such philosophies and ideas uncritically and put them into operation without much discussion or rational consideration. I’ve written about them before, e.g. New Public Management, which is (fortunately for us) on its way out after its decade of tyranny. Ask most employees if they’ve been comfortable in their workplaces that uncritically adopted this philosophy, and their answers will be a chorus of No’s. 

The uncritical adoption of bad business philosophies into modern public sector workplaces goes hand in hand with the language of gobbledygook to support and defend them. If company leaders don’t want their employees to know what it is they are being subjected to, then gobbledygook is the language they use. Let’s call it Newspeak for modern workplaces (with apologies to George Orwell). It can be defined as a language that makes no sense whatsoever, either to its users or to its unfortunate listeners. Its aim is to create a smokescreen so that employees become confused or left in the dark about what is really going on. If you have ever been the recipient of emails that make no sense whatsoever, if you’ve asked a question and gotten a ‘non-answer’ that passes for an answer, then you have experienced gobbledygook. If you attempt to make sense of the enormous bureaucratic system around you, e.g. how to deal with the billing department, you will be met with a wall of people, all of whom are cc-ing each other in the myriad of emails sent back and forth to answer one tiny question—how do I bill so-and-so for the service performed for them. One tiny question is ‘non-answered’ by at least six or more people, none of whom can or will take responsibility for providing a substantive answer. This is cowardice by design, inbuilt into a system that is itself designed to dilute out responsibility so that no one can be taken for any wrongdoing that could arise down the road. How would anyone be able to track the countless email paths, conversations, etc. that are attached to one miniscule billing situation?

In this vein, it was interesting to read the remarks of a Norwegian leader (of a public sector workplace that deals out money to researchers) concerning his organization’s philosophy, translated here from Norwegian:

When the sectoral principle so strongly influences Norwegian research funding, it is all the more important that XXX has a real opportunity to create synergies of funds given with different logics, then we can create win-win situations where we can deliver both on goal A and Goal B for the same money.

For God’s sake, what does this mean? And it’s not the translation; it was just as difficult to understand the meaning in Norwegian. This is how we are ‘talked to’ on a daily basis, from leader’s commentaries to emails that makes no sense or that provide no answers whatsoever. This is what we face at every turn. Meaningless pronouncements with bloated language that create a world of nonsense. Nonsense—literally, non-sense. Lewis Carroll would be proud (the author of Alice in Wonderland for those of you who wonder, whose Alice fell down the rabbit hole into a world that made no sense). It would be alarming if it wasn’t comical. It is no longer comical in my opinion. This is how many public sector workplaces operate on a daily basis. I pity those employees who prize speaking clearly and getting the job done as their goals. It is nearly impossible to cut through the jungle of gobbledygook on the way toward those goals. 

Monday, June 26, 2017

White roses

Roses add beauty to any garden. We have a lovely pink rose bush in our allotment garden that was there already when we took over the garden, and last year I planted two climbing white rose bushes, one on each side of the garden arch at the entrance to the garden. Last year, they settled in and started climbing, but did not bloom. This year, they have climbed a lot and have bloomed incredibly. Lovely beautiful white flowers.....

Today's rainbow

We've been having a fair amount of rain lately, and every now and then the sun comes out after a rain shower. And then a rainbow appears, like today's.......

And a close-up view:

Monday, June 19, 2017

The garden is finally starting to take off

After a fairly rainy first two weeks of June, the weather has improved to the point where the garden is finally starting to take off. The sun has reappeared and that means warmth and longer periods of light. The strawberry patches are going to produce a lot of strawberries this year; I have never seen so many flowers in a strawberry patch as I have this year. And the black currant, red currant, blueberry, blackberry, raspberry and mulberry bushes are also starting to produce berries. My corn plants are developing thicker stalks and growing taller, the pumpkins are growing, the bean plants are doing very well, and the snap peas have attached and are growing up along the trellises I made for them (I learned how to make them from twigs from an online gardening site). And in the greenhouse, the tomato plants are big and healthy, and the sweet pepper and cucumber plants are also doing well. I've only grown tomatoes once before, and that was indoors in our apartment, with limited success. I am enjoying working in the greenhouse; on chilly or cloudy days, it's a nice place to be. And so far, the slugs have not found their way into it, probably because it gets so warm and dry in there that it's not optimal for them. I'm hoping it stays that way.

The flowers I grew from seeds are also growing, but slowly. I planted two hydrangeas this year, and they seem to be doing ok so far, although I read that they need a lot of water. I planted sunflowers for the first time, and they are also starting to grow taller. I also planted pansies, more lavender plants, and more grass (mostly to fill in the bare patches here and there).

Here are some recent photos:




tomato plants

our lovely rhododendron that we rescued last year from a garbage heap

corn plants top left, string bean plants top middle, pumpkin plants in the foreground

our lovely rosebush next to the rhododendron, and the bird bath in front of it

another view of the pumpkin patches

check out the strawberry patches near the garden arch and how many flowers there are

my sugar snap peas growing up the trellises 

more tomato plants

another view of the garden

the greenhouse--you can see the tomato plants inside

Fra ”Melkespannet” til ”Capricorn” – en 32,5’ racer fra Otto L. Scheen Jr.’s hånd

by Trond Stokke, styremedlem Furuholmen Motor Yacht Club

Historien om denne 32,5’ raceren med V-bunn og skarpe vinkler i overgangen fra underskroget til fribordet, skarpe slag, starter i midten av 50-årene. Otto Scheen tegner denne båten for Tom Wilhelmsen, som ble bygd i 1955-56 hos Hans Berg-Olsen (bygg# 423, senere kalt ”Capricorn”). En lignende blir bygd for Fred Olsen i 1957 (bygg# 427) som ble kalt ”Hudibras”, denne heter nå ”Orkan” og eies av Torbjørn Lensebakken. Begge disse ble nye utrustet med 200Hk Gray Marine motorer. På den tiden var turbinmotorer populære for ymse formål, og Boeing hadde en marinisert variant med giring passende for marine/propell-drift. Wilhelmsen fant etterhvert ut at denne motoren med høy ytelse/vekt forhold (ca. 1 Hk/kilo) kunne stå for fremdrift i runabouten eller plattgatteren, som hun også kan kalles. Som tenkt, så gjort (Bilde 1). I 1961-62 blir 2 båter til bygd over samme lest, også hos Berg-Olsen, en til Tom Wilhelmsen (bygg# 445) og en til Kongsberg Våpenfabrikk (bygg# 446). Begge disse skal ha blitt utrustet med turbinmotorer som nye, 300 og 400Hk respektivt. Basert på Berg-Olsens byggelister må det være feil når Gøthesen opplyser i ”Motorbåten” at Tom Wilhelmsen fikk bygd 2 båter med gassturbin, på henholdsvis 30’ og 34’, og at det ble bygd en 34’ for Kongsberg Våpenfabrikk.

Bilde 1. Testing av ”Melkespannet” utenfor Bygdøy.

Skrog og konstruksjon.
Når Otto Scheen konstruerte denne båten, her kalt ”Melkespannet” eller ”Capricorn”, siden det siste var det navnet hun hadde når jeg var på besiktelse i 1998, la han vekt på at skroget skulle tåle høy fart. Scheen hadde akkurat returnert fra et 2-årig opphold i USA hvor han studerte design hos Sparkman & Stevens i New York. I løpet av sin periode i statene signerte han bl.a. en 53’ commuter for tobakksfabrikanten R.G. Reynolds.  Byggingen av Capricorn ble påbegynt i 1955, og muligens fullført i 1956. Bilde 2 fra 1962 viser Tom Wilhelmsen (til høyre) og Hans Berg-Olsen poserende foran Wilhelmsens andre og lignende 32,5’ (bygg# 445) og båten som ble levert til Kongsberg Våpenfabrikk (bygg# 446).

Bilde 2. Hans Berg-Olsen (t.v.) og Tom Wilhelmsen foran Wilhelmsen's andre båt og Kongsberg Våpenfabrikk's.

Underskroget er av dobbeltplanket mahogny, 7+12 mm, og dermed stivt. Skroget er konkavt over vannlinja i front for å ta unna spray fra baugen, glidende over mot type tumblehome/barrel-back mot hekken. Det er ikke bare skarp vinkel i overgangen fra underskrog til fribord bak mot hekken, men til og med en utdragning av underskroget, som gir noe av samme effekt som en steglist (Bilde 3). Knekken i spantene vises tydlig i Bilde 2. Mot front fungerer lista mer som en spraylist. Det er ikke step i undervannsskroget. Bilde 4 viser plantegning av ”Capricorn”, antagligvis ble samme brukt ved bygging av ”Hudibras”/”Orkan”, Wilhelmsens andre båt og KV båten.

Bilde 3.

Bilde 4. Plantegning.

Bilde 5. Luker til motor helt akter.

Når jeg traff henne, hadde hun en big-block GM V8 med V-drev, så tyngdepunktet var behagelig langt bak uten at båten dyppa rumpa dypt i vannet ved stillstand (Bilde 5). Det kan virke fra bildene som GM 454 motoren og  Boeing turbinmotoren var plassert omtrent likt i båten. 

Jeg var og så på Capricorn i 1998 i Stockholm med alvorlige hensikter om å kjøpe båten. Mer om det senere. Det var en båt å bli forelsket i! Under prøveturen viste det seg at båten skled gjennom vannet så det var en nytelse. Planingsterskelen var lite utpreget, Capricorn kom sakte og rolig ut av vannet fra 10 knop og opp mot 20. Dette skyldes antagligvis den forholdsvis spisse vinkelen på V-bunnen. I 25 knop oppførte båten seg glimrende, det var ikke antydning til at baugen gravde og styrte, hvilket ofte kan være tilfelle for plattgattere med tyngdepunktet lenger foran. (For eksempel graver min nåværende båt ”Foxy Lady” med baugen i 20 knop.) Bilde 6 gir et inntrykk av hvordan Capricorn skjærer gjennom vannet.    

Bilde 6. En nytelse å kjøre Capricorn!

”Capricorn”, også kalt ”Melkespannet” på folkemunne, ble altså utrustet med en Gray Marine 200Hk orginalt. Gray motoren ble byttet ut med en Chrysler 275Hk i 1958. Jeg har ikke funnet ut av nøyaktig når Wilhelmsen fikk satt inn turbinmotoren, men det må ha vært helt på slutten av 50-tallet. Turbinmotoren var en Boeing 502 10c Turbo-Mariner turbinmotor (Bilde 7). Denne veide ikke mer enn 285kg (625 pund) med girkasse og det hele, hvilket gir en meget gunstig effekt/vekt ratio enten vi regner 260Hk (Popular Mechanics november 1961) eller 300Hk (Boeings spesifikasjoner). Overføring til propellakslingen gikk via et V-drev, for å få tyngdepunktet langt nok bak. Det karakteristiske tilnavnet ”Melkespannet” fikk selvfølgelig båten på grunn av avtrekket som stikker opp fra turbinmotoren (Bilde 1). Turbinmotoren skal ha fungert bra, men det sies at båten måtte taues ut Bestumkilen til utenfor Killingen før motoren kunne startes. For ikke å skremme vannet av folk og fe... Boeing oppgir et forbruk på 32 gallon/time ved full effekt, så drivstofforbruket var nok heftig. Fordelen var at man kunne fore motoren med bensin, diesel, eller omtrent hva som helst som kunne antennes i nødsfall.

Bilde 7. Boeing 502 motor.

Det er uklart når turbinmotoren ble byttet ut med en vanlig stempelmotor igjen, det kan ha skjedd i forbindelse med at ”Capricorn” skal ha blitt overdratt til Niels Werring Jr. i 1961. Berg-Olsen stod også for ombygging av overbygning og inredning  for Werring. Ombyggingen har ikke eget byggnummer hos verftet, men er nevnt på linja under byggnummer 446. (Niels Werring Jr. var partner i rederiet Wilh. Wilhelmsen.) Turbinmotoren kan også ha blitt byttet ut når båten eventuellt havnet i Sverige en eller annen gang på sent 60-tall (?). Sannsynligvis har det sittet flere forskjellige motorer i ”Capricorn” frem til 90-tallet. I 1998 var motoren en General Motors big block (454CID) med 370Hk fra tidlig 90-tall. Også denne hadde V-drev. Selger oppga en topphastighet på 35 knop, 5 knop mer enn med Boeing turbinmotoren. Selv om jeg ikke fikk testet båten i full fart, føltes det som motoren knapt hadde fått opp dampen når vi gjorde 25 knop.

Historikk og hvordan det gikk med båtkjøpet i Stockholm i 1998...

”Capricorn”, eller ”Melkespannet” som hun het på folkemunne rundt 1960, ble altså tegnet av Otto Scheen og påbegynt bygd for Tom Wilhelmsen hos Berg-Olsen i 1955. Den svenske selgeren Jan Abelin, visstnok eier nummer 6 i rekken, opplyste om at båten ble overtatt av Niels Werring Jr. fra Tom Wilhelmsen i 1961. Dette kommer også klart frem fra Berg-Olsens byggelister, siden hun som nevnt ble ombygd på den tiden. Jeg har ikke funnet ut hvem som kjøpte båten av Werring eller når det skjedde, men det skal ha vært 3 eiere mellom ham og Abelin. Sannsynligvis var flere av/alle disse svenske, da ”Capricorn” visstnok skal ha satt fartsrekord over Vänern, men også gått til bunns ved Smögen ved en annen anledning. Jeg angrer på at jeg ikke spurte Otto Scheen om tidlig historikk og andre detaljer mens han var i live.

Jeg skylder leseren en forklaring på hvorfor jeg ikke endte opp med båtkjøp i Stockholm i 1998. Prøvekjøringen gikk veldig greit en stund, som nevnt over gikk båten alldeles nydelig i vannet. GM motoren hadde ingen problemer med å dra ”Capricorn” opp i plan, og jeg hadde ikke halv gass en gang ved cirka 25 knop. Bare fryd og gammen m.a.o., inntil det tok fyr bak i motorrommet... Det viste seg at selger hadde skrudd sammen rustne risere og eksos i en fei før vi skulle teste båten, så det lakk eksos både her og der som sannsynligvis hadde antent olje eller bensin som fløt rundt. Vi fikk slokket brannen ganske raskt, men ikke raskere enn at politi, brannvesen og det meste hadde blitt alarmert. De kom med båt, biler på land og helikopter (!) Jeg skjønte raskt at dette ikke var noe alvorlig problem, det var nok bare at selger var lite hissig på å bruke penger på nye risere når båten skulle selges. Vel tilbake på brygga gikk jeg nøye gjennom alt treverket. Skroget virket meget solid og uten råte. Overbygningen derimot var tildels ganske råtten og moden for utskifting. Med en prislapp på 200kkr og utsikter til 100kkr til for ny overbygning, skygget jeg banen. (Til sammenligning betalte vi 165k for ”Foxy Lady” samme år.) Det er også begrenset med fasiliteter ombord i ”Capricorn”. Det er soveplass til 2 på et par benker i kabinen, men ikke stort mer. Det er (var) heller ikke toilett eller vask ombord. Sånn sett har jeg fått en mer andvendbar båt i ”Foxy Lady”. Men hvilken nytelse det hadde vært å grise plastikkbåtene i fjorden med en 50 år gammel Scheen-konstruert mahogni  båt!

Jeg vet ikke hvem som kjøpte ”Capricorn” i 1998, eller om hun faktisk ble solgt i det hele tatt på den tiden. For noen år siden sa ryktene at hun var tilbake i Norge igjen, nærmere bestemt i Østfold. Siste nytt er at hun skal ligge ved Ullern Båtforenings brygge. Jeg gleder meg til å se ”Capricorn” igjen, gammel kjærlighet ruster ikke.

Forfatteren ønsker å takke Anders Johnsen for hjelp med å få ut opplysninger fra Berg-Olsens byggelister. Videre en takk til Torbjørn Lensebakken for opplysninger om ”Hudibras”/”Orkan”.

Saturday, June 17, 2017

Rhododendron getting ready to bloom

One of my recent photos from the garden......Rhododendron getting ready to bloom

I joined a couple of years ago and am making a concerted effort to upload photos to their site. Here is the link to the rhododendron photo:

And here is the actual photo for those of you who would prefer to see it here:

Thursday, June 8, 2017

Zig Ziglar--quotes from a smart man

  • What you get by achieving your goals is not as important as what you become by achieving your goals.
  • The foundation stones for a balanced success are honesty, character, integrity, faith, love and loyalty.
  • With integrity, you have nothing to fear, since you have nothing to hide. With integrity, you will do the right thing, so you will have no guilt.
  • If people like you, they'll listen to you, but if they trust you, they'll do business with you.
  • Your attitude, not your aptitude, will determine your altitude.
  • When you catch a glimpse of your potential, that's when passion is born.
  • Positive thinking will let you use the ability which you have, and that is awesome.
  • When you encourage others, you in the process are encouraged because you're making a commitment and difference in that person's life. Encouragement really does make a difference.
  • He climbs highest who helps another up.
  • The person who dumps garbage into your mind will do you considerably more harm than the person who dumps garbage on your floor, because each load of mind garbage negatively impacts your possibilities and lowers your expectations.
  • Try to look at your weakness and convert it into your strength. That's success.
  • If you learn from defeat, you haven't really lost.
  • Sometimes adversity is what you need to face in order to become successful.
  • You were born to win, but to be a winner, you must plan to win, prepare to win, and expect to win.
  • If you want to reach a goal, you must 'see the reaching' in your own mind before you actually arrive at your goal.
  • Be grateful for what you have and stop complaining - it bores everybody else, does you no good, and doesn't solve any problems.
  • Gratitude is the healthiest of all human emotions. The more you express gratitude for what you have, the more likely you will have even more to express gratitude for.
  • People often say that motivation doesn't last. Well, neither does bathing - that's why we recommend it daily.
  • You can have everything in life you want, if you will just help other people get what they want.
  • Outstanding people have one thing in common: An absolute sense of mission.

Sunday, June 4, 2017

Being distracted by criticism and negativity

"Don't be distracted by criticism. Remember, the only taste of success some people have is when they take a bite out of you".'
~ Zig Ziglar

Saw this quote recently and it made an impression. You could replace the word criticism with negativity--it also works. Criticism is fine, as long as it's constructive (but it so seldom is). Negative criticism is destructive; its aim is to squash initiative and motivation. That's where negativity comes in. By negativity, I mean the words and behavior of those who wish to discourage others at all costs from dreaming and achieving those dreams. They behave that way because they don't want you to get ahead (of them). Maybe they had dreams and were defeated, by themselves or others or both. Instead of learning from their experiences, they want to inflict them on others.

You've got to really weigh the words of the naysayers. A few of them have your best interests at heart and don't want to see you get hurt; those are the people who love you and whom you trust and go to for advice. So listening to them is not in and of itself a bad thing--you can weigh what they say and decide for yourself whether or not to take a specific risk. They'll discuss it with you and won't try to stop you or squash your dreams. It's the naysayers you meet in everyday life, the ones who say, 'why would you want to do that?', or 'I would never do that', or 'I would never do it that way' ('You should do it my way'). Or the ones who, no matter what your plans, goals, or dreams, always put a damper on them by saying 'I thought about doing that, but there were too many problems involved, so if I were you, I would forget about it'.

I bring this up today because I realized today that too many women simply never pursue their dreams and ideas. They will tell you that they are bound by family obligations, work, and other things. But the truth is somewhere in between. I think what happens is that many women turn to other people in their lives for support and encouragement when they have a dream or an initiative they'd like to pursue. Or they discuss a potential dream with colleagues. And maybe the majority of the people they talk to are naysayers. And so they give up on a dream before it even gets a footing. We've simply got to really listen to each other, to respect the dreams and goals of others, and to encourage them to achieve them. This way of thinking cannot just apply to children or teenagers; adults must also be encouraged to achieve. It's part of my way of thinking--that motivating others to achieve is a lifelong goal. We are never 'finished products', we are always seeking and searching for ways to grow and become better. We are always looking for outlets for our talents. We should be able to encourage others to do that, and to allow ourselves to do that as well. It is what our lives are really about.

Wednesday, May 31, 2017

What I see in the faces of others

I’ve been thinking about kindness and compassion, and how it is possible to see them in the faces of other people. It strikes me when I look at photos or live footage of powerful political figures, celebrities and the like, that there is a hardness in some of the faces that is indicative of their true characters. There is also something about the eyes that gives their true natures away. Who was it said—‘the eyes are the window to the soul’. If they are, then I’ve seen some pretty hard and merciless souls in my life. I’ve also had the misfortune of having crossed paths with a few psychopaths, and their eyes are often black and soulless—empty and actually rather frightening. So their empty eyes are the windows to their lack of souls. Luckily, the bulk of my experience with other people has shown me that kindness and compassion are still in abundance. Why is it such that we often let one bad apple spoil the bunch? We must try to guard against that happening, because if we let that happen, the wrong people win. One bad apple out of ten means that ninety percent are still good. Those are good numbers.

There is likely no hard scientific evidence to back up my observations about what I see in the faces of others. Nonetheless, I cannot help but look at the faces of Trump and Putin and observe hardness there. They look rigid, angry, formidable, and mean. They don’t look happy nor do they look relaxed. They look like plagued souls, and perhaps that is the reason for their bullying natures toward others. The current Pope is a contrast to them both. His face looks relaxed, not rigid, and he has kind eyes. My reaction to a photo of the current pope is visceral; I instinctively know that I could trust him to be kind. I could not say that about Trump or Putin or men like them.

I gravitate toward kind and compassionate people and tend to remove myself from the presence of hard, rigid and mean people if I can, including psychopaths. Not all people are so lucky. I can remove myself by choice, whereas others are perhaps trapped by virtue of the fact that they live in a dictator-led country, or in an abusive relationship, or that they work at a job they need and cannot leave.

I do not like hard, rigid, formidable and mean people, whether they are men or women. I do not like power- and control-hungry people, nor do I like boorish, loud, or narcissistic individuals. I am not interested in getting to know others if their behavior involves humiliating others, making them feel worthless, or actively trying to destroy them. I instinctively shy away from these types of people because I know they are no good for me. That is how my mother would have phrased it. She would not have been overly-judgmental; she would merely have said ‘be careful’ or ‘don’t cast your pearls before swine’. In other words, don’t waste your time on them. It’s a good way to live if one can manage it.

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Understanding what employees want

I am going to plug a book in this post, a book about modern workplaces and what employees want. And why employers should make sure that employees get what they want. Because what employees want is respect. That is the basis of any good relationship, and it is essential for employee motivation and productivity.

The book is entitled What Employees Want And Why Employers Should Make Sure They Get It.  Check it out here:

Saturday, May 20, 2017

Raising strong women and my father's contribution to that

I sometimes wonder if my father knew what he was doing when he sat at the dinner table together with me after dinner, discussing the world news and debating with me about different topics of interest. I was a teenager at that time, in high school, and we did much of the same in our history and sociology classes. So it only felt natural to extend this behavior to the home arena. It was considered a sign of intelligence to be interested in society, in politics, in the life around you. It was considered a sign of intelligence to have a reasoned opinion about some of the important events that were happening around us, and important to impart that opinion in a reasonable manner. I credit my father with teaching me that it was important to use your brain, to use logic, to use reason, in order to argue and debate with others. He was no fan of the bully approach, and would probably have coined the phrase ‘the pen is mightier than the sword’ if it hadn’t already been coined before him. He was a great reader, as I’ve written about in this blog before. An intelligent man, an intellectual, a peace-loving man who was uncomfortable with raw conflict. He had served in WWII and lived to tell about it. I know he was proud to have served his country, but he was no war-monger. When the Watergate scandal broke, he and I watched the drama unfold on TV and watched the Watergate hearings (1973-74) together. We discussed it all, from all sides. His requirement for discussions and debates was that we used logic and reason, not just feelings, to present our opinions. He was not the kind of man that tolerated utterances such as ‘he’s an asshole’ or ‘what a jerk’ as interesting contributions to a discussion, even though we both might have felt that way about certain politicians at the time. And so I learned from him that discussion, debate and even arguments had their place in daily life. Conflict and differences of opinion were part of life; it was how you handled them that mattered. He was not perfect, and even he at times could opine about his feelings rather than his thoughts on certain matters. Then I reminded him of what he had taught us. He was not afraid to tell me when my arguments didn’t hold water, and that infuriated me, enough so that I could storm away from the dining room table, but I retreated and did my homework and came back stronger the next time. He wanted facts, logic, reason and a civil manner on top of it all. God love him for it. He helped to create strong, independent-thinking, and rational women (me and my sister) who are proud of their intelligence and talents. I think he did that because he knew what we would face in the world. I wish he was still alive, because I know he would have discussed the role of women with me now, in 2017, and how terrible it is that the current president and his cronies want to return women to a time when their opinions and wishes did not matter. He would have been appalled at the language that the president uses about women, and appalled that the world had come to this point where women were reduced to objects, to be abused and attacked, bullied and mocked. He would have deplored the state of the world in 2017.

I bring up my father because I believe the world needs more men like him. He was ahead of his time, in so many ways. He was one of the first men I knew who would absolutely have preferred to spend more time with his children and less time at the office. He had a good career as chief technical librarian for a number of companies, but he never brought his work home with him. He never spent evenings immersed in work projects that could wait until the next day. He never complained about how busy he was or how little time he had for everything. He was a family man and he made time for his family. His evenings were spent talking to us about the world, helping us with homework, and testing us in preparation for exams the next day. He and my mother bought me my first microscope set at one of the science fairs in our local grammar school. My father would patiently sit with me as we looked at slides of amoebas and diatoms together. He was as interested as I was in the natural world, but he could not keep up with me once I immersed myself in science as a career. But he was proud of me and proud of my endeavors. He called me at work once to tell me that he loved me, and I never forgot that. He would clip out articles from the newspaper and send them to me (my mother did the same)—science-related and literature-related. Because after science, it is world literature that interests me. That is in my genes from both my parents. My father was interested and involved in our lives and God bless him for it. If your father is the first man who teaches you about men, I’m glad that he was the man who taught me what a good man is. I used to tell him he was cute, and that made him happy—he would smile that little smile he had (my mother said he had a particular way of pursing his lips). I never left my parents’ house without telling them that I loved them. Because I knew that my father could disappear from my life at any moment due to his poor health. Unfortunately, I made my mistakes when it came to choosing men to share my life with, as have many others. A failed first marriage was the result. Even then, my father was supportive. I remember walking around our neighborhood, he with his cane to steady himself after a stroke he had had, and we talked about my unhappy marriage and what to do about it. He and I both knew that it would never improve. He understood what it would cost me to divorce my first husband, and he understood that my life would never be the same. Sadly, he didn’t live to witness my divorce nor did he get the chance to meet my current husband. But I know that he wished (and wishes) me well, in that universe of parallel lives where he lives now, perhaps as a healthy man. I hope so. I do know that he is still a loving one. 

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Very good article by New York Daily News writer Linda Stasi

Brainiac Miss USA Kara McCullough says some really idiotic things  by Linda Stasi

Very good article by Linda Stasi of The New York Daily News about nuclear scientist Kara McCullough who just became the winner of the Miss USA pageant. A pageant I care nothing about, just for the record; I agree with Ms. Stasi--an outdated pageant, part of the dinosaur era that should soon become extinct.

Sunday, May 14, 2017

My photo of the Vikersund ski jumping hill was used on a Polish sports website

I found out recently that my photo of the Vikersund ski jumping hill was used on a Polish sports website. They even credited the photographer, me, which is not always the case. So I thank them for that and for using the photo. After all, I make my photography public and available for use, and it's a matter of trust--that you trust and hope that the people who use your photos will credit you. I make a special point out of doing so when I refer to or use other's photos.

Every now and then it's nice to see that some of the things you pour your heart and soul into, like my writing and photography, get noticed. Good karma. Thanks, universe!

Some reflections on the status of women on Mother's Day

I have been preoccupied with balance between the sexes since I was a teenager, with an atmosphere of mutual respect and love as the foundation of a relationship. Over forty years later, I don’t see much of it in modern society and I find that immensely disappointing. I watched the women in my mother’s generation raise their children and live within the constraints of the times they lived in (1950s-1960s). Most of them did not work outside the home, and the few that did (in my neighborhood) were considered to be unusual. There always had to be an excuse for why they worked—they needed extra money to help with the mortgage, or they needed to supplement their husband’s income if he was sick or on disability, etc. In addition, many of them took care of parents and other family members who were old or sick, respectively (unpaid work). Rarely was it considered that a woman, a wife, a mother, would want to work because she enjoyed working, because she wanted to put her education to use, because she wanted to contribute to progress in society in this way, because she wanted to give something back in the form of her intelligence, diligence and hard work. It was not considered that she might want to be a part of the process, might want to make a difference, and might want to matter. Wanting to work, to pursue a career had and has nothing to do with wanting to abandon her role as a wife and mother. It had and has to do with honoring herself and her unique talents.

I write this today, on Mother’s Day (in the USA), because I find it astounding that women haven’t come further in the USA than they have when it comes to childcare and working outside the home. I find it astounding that Europe is light-years ahead of the USA when it comes to federally-funded childcare centers. I find it astounding that we are still arguing about the importance of providing childcare for women in 2017 in the USA. I find it astounding that women still find that they need to defend themselves when they have children and want to work, whether part-time or full-time. It is not that they cannot work, no, there are jobs for them. Of course there are jobs for them; this is 2017. But there is still a limited support system in place to make it easier for them to do those jobs. So most of the women I know who raised their children during the past thirty years worked part-time or relied on family members to help them juggle it all. The few wealthy ones found nannies that they relied on while they pursued their careers. I am not going to argue for or against working full-time or pursuing a career for women who have children. I believe that feminism gives us the possibility of choice, and each person must choose wisely and live with her choice. But if women choose to work, then they should not be subjected to the subtle critical judgment that still exists—that she is a bad mother for wanting to leave her children and be part of the workplace. You might say that I am wrong, that this is not the case. But it is. Just take a look at the current president surrounded by his cronies who want to return the USA to a time when women had little or no say in society and in their relationships. They are white men of privilege who view women and children as their possessions and their trophies. Many of them behave like hypocritical banal evil men, not unlike many of the men in Hitler’s regime, who were married with their family lives intact while they broke up Jewish families and destroyed their lives. These men spout the importance of family values while doing exactly the opposite—they do what they want, when they want, and how they want. They promote a culture of attacks against women, they bully women, they diminish women (think Trump’s behavior toward most women he dislikes)--in short, they do not respect women, no matter what they say. They are not nice men. Some of them have been accused of spousal abuse (e.g. Steve Bannon So these are not men you would want your daughters to marry. These are men who purport to know what is best for women and children. These are men interested only in power, control, money and prestige; they cannot really love their wives or their children, because real love is not about controlling others or using them as trophies. If you are interested in controlling others, you do not love them. These kinds of men I simply cannot abide. I want nothing to do with them. I do not believe in dialoguing with them, because you will simply be shouted down, squished under their thumbs, bullied, diminished, disrespected, told you are stupid, dismissed, ignored, frozen out (in the workplace), told you are ‘too emotional’, too difficult. The list of abusive terms and behaviors is endless. These men should teach a course—How to keep women down. Even in the church, women’s roles are limited; men rule the roost. It simply has become boring to consider that old men in funny hats in Rome are telling us how to live our lives. While I respect the current Pope for his kindness and compassion for others, I have little use for the hierarchy of the church. I am more preoccupied with having a personal relationship with Christ. I remember back in the 1980s when I was young and foolish and didn’t grasp the depth of men’s power in the world, that I argued with a priest about the phrasing “Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit to their husbands in everything. Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave Himself up for her…..” There was so much emphasis on the first part of this statement when I was growing up, that wives should obey their husbands. I argued with the priest that the latter part of the statement was just as important, and that I had no interest in obeying a husband unless he loved me as Christ loved the church. That put an end to that discussion, since most men simply cannot hold a candle to Christ. I guess I could have been considered a smart-ass at that time; I say now—good. More power to me. But after a lifetime of fighting injustice toward women in the workplace, and there is plenty of it, I am tired. I am leaving it over to the next generation. You’ll find me in my garden now.

It is astounding that in 2017 that women are still subject to abusive behavior publicly and privately. I applaud the women who stand up against these men, who fight them, who challenge them, who sue them, who take them to court (e.g. for spousal abuse), who call out their behaviors. I applaud the women who do all these things while raising their families, working full-time, and taking care of aging parents. I applaud the women I know today, on Mother’s Day, because without them, the world would simply not be a place worth living in. But I believe that the time has come to take another route toward changing the world. I believe that women should turn their backs on the type of world many of these men stand for. They should not marry them, they should not have children with them, and they should ignore them. I hope the younger generation of women will find it in their power to defeat these kinds of men. I will support them even if I cannot lead them. I cannot wait for these dinosaurs to die out. 

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Stormy by Classics IV

There were two songs running through my head today; one I've already posted--Ship of Fools by World Party (for obvious reasons, given the current political farce in the USA that cannot lead to anywhere good). The other is Stormy by Classics IV (from 1968), also for obvious reasons, given that the weather in the middle of May resembles more like what one would see in mid-November. It even snowed today, to complete the dismal picture. I know the song is not about the weather, but it just popped into my head and the weather was the reason, especially one line of the lyrics "Bring back that sunny day". Please, weather gods, bring back the warm sun. Snow and chilly temperatures in mid-May don't do anything for me (or for anyone, for that matter). Or for the plants in my garden.

A relevant song for our times--Ship of Fools by World Party

Who knew? That a song from 1986 would foreshadow so much of what is happening in our world today, over thirty years later. It's a great song with such relevant lyrics, that I'm including here.

Ship of Fools   by World Party   (written by Karl Wallinger)

We're setting sail to the place on the map
from which no one has ever returned
Drawn by the promise of the joker and the fool
by the light of the crosses that burned.
Drawn by the promise of the women and the lace
and the gold and the cotton and pearls
It's the place where they keep all the darkness you need.
You sail away from the light of the world on this trip, baby.
You will pay tomorrow
You're gonna pay tomorrow
You will pay tomorrow

Save me. Save me from tomorrow
I don't want to sail with this ship of fools. No, no
Oh, save me. Save me from tomorrow
I don't want to sail with this ship of fools
I want to run and hide right now

Avarice and greed are gonna drive you over the endless sea
They will leave you drifting in the shallows
or drowning in the oceans of history
Traveling the world, you're in search of no good
but I'm sure you'll build your Sodom like you knew you would
Using all the good people for your galley slaves
as you're little boat struggles through the warning waves, but you don't pay

You will pay tomorrow
You're gonna pay tomorrow
You're gonna pay tomorrow

Save me. Save me from tomorrow
I don't want to sail with this ship of fools
Save me. Save me from tomorrow
I don't want to sail with this ship of fools
Where's it comin' from?
Where's it goin' to now?
It's just a It's just a ship of fools

All aboard....

Friday, May 5, 2017

Peace is a garden

My idea of peace is a garden. My garden. It's not a secret garden, hidden behind a wall covered in ivy that conceals a hidden door. It is a community garden and we have each been allotted our own parcel of land. But it's what you do with that land that makes it 'your' garden. And if you like, you can make it as private or as open as you like. The community garden itself is contained within high fences with locks on the entrance gates; if we didn't have the fences and locked gates, you can bet there would be nightly visitors that would break in and steal what they could to make some small money (the gypsies have been accused of this). There were several break-ins during the past few months that are attributed to them. But there is no hard evidence of such. It's best not to store valuable items in the garden in order to discourage thieves.

You might think that having to worry about petty theft detracts from the overall experience of having the garden. You'd be wrong. I look forward to visiting my garden each day. It soothes my soul like nothing else. Abstinence is a good word to describe how it feels when I cannot go there on a daily basis--either too much to do at work or some other activity that takes priority. Up to now, it's fine that I haven't been there each day. But now that all the seeds are planted and the sown areas need water, I will be going there each afternoon or evening to water the planted areas. I cannot wait until I start to see growth. I planted tomatoes in large pots in the greenhouse, and small green seedlings are already starting to make their appearance. I feel responsible for them, that nothing happens to them. I also planted artichoke seeds in a container in the greenhouse, and am quite eager to see if they grow well. The greenhouse is nice and warm, but the daytime temperature can be quite high with the doors and windows closed. The temperature can be adjusted by opening the window to let in some cooler air. That will be quite useful and probably a frequent thing come summer.

I was in the garden during a late afternoon this past week. The sun was shining and it was probably close to about 5 pm. Still a lot of sunlight and warmth. I took some photos, and one in particular caught my eye. It's a lovely shot of the greenhouse, the garden, the lovely red tulips in the background, and the lovely yellow daffodils--a soothing combination of colors; in short, one of those lucky photos. Enjoy!