Tag Archives: planning

A Little Knowledge is a Puzzling Thing

First day back at work after Christmas today. Whatever kills me, it’s unlikely to be overwork or stress. I now have a week off, thanks to Covid. A whole week, and nothing immediately comes to mind – I have three haibun to refine for a competition by the end of the month and that’s it. The rest of the year looks comparatively easy.

I’m setting myself some targets to make sure I don’t drift off into idleness but that won’t take me all week.

One project is printing copies of my published submissions as I like to put them in a folder so I can leaf through them on the days when my confidence needs a boost. I have got a bit behind with this and need to catch up. The main problem is that the existing folder is lost. It will be somewhere lurking in plain sight, but I just can’t find it at the moment. For the moment I’m going to start a new folder and transfer them when I find the original.

Another is trying to memorise the capitals of American states, because they often come up on quiz shows. So far it’s not going well. Apart from the difficulties of an aging brain, how did Americans come to select so many unknown towns as capitals? Some of them are world famous and others are completely unknown. You’ think that being selected as the state capital would guarantee a place would become well known.

I then looked up the county towns of England, and found I don’t know as much about my own country as I thought I did, including the development of county names. THe county towns of Somerset and Wiltshire, for instance, were Somerton and Wilton. I’ve never heard of Somerton, and only know of Wilton because of the carpets.

As  a result of all this new knowledge I now find myself  thinking “Nebraska” every time I see the word “Lincoln”. I’ve lived in Lincolnshire, I can almost see it from here, but it just doesn’t seem to register. Lincoln, Nebraska is named after President Lincoln, not the English city. It used to be called “Lancaster” which is the county town of Lancashire.

I can’t help thinking that I might have been better not starting down this road as the more I learn, the more I realise that I don’t know.

If I carry on like this I might have to read more articles like this.

Christmas Stamps

Inspiration and the Rebirth of Optimism

Sorry, I have been struggling since Sunday. Inspiration seems to have deserted me, and IBS seems to have returned. I’ve been watching my diet, so I’m wondering if the IBS could be linked to stress. Yes, even I get stressed from time to time, though I’m only going to mention it in passing as I feel, as I said yesterday, there is far too much sharing in modern life.

It’s taken me well over an hour to get to these seventy seven words. I’ve written about a thousand, but none are hitting the right note.

I started the day by dropping Julia at work and composing a haibun in the car. I emailed it to myself from work. I find that although I need a pen and paper to compose when I’m sitting down to write, I can go directly to the screen if I’ve already composed it in my head.

It will probably never be shown to anybody, as it concerns everything that has bothered me since the depression descended on Sunday. The writing of therapeutic haibun is well known, as is the fact that they make tedious reading. I’m hoping that with the emptying of my head, inspiration will return.

Inspiration has to return because I’m just starting an important six weeks for submissions and these six weeks could set the tone of then next year. Well, if they are good, they could. If they are bad, I will simply start my year from February.

This reminds me – it is probably time for a bit of planning. Things go better with a bit of planning. This year has been OK, but I’ve tended to drift through it, and I need to get a grip. My literary legacy isn’t going to write itself.

My Christmas shopping isn’t going to do itself either, and as Mrs Botham has suspended her Christmas website due to the number of orders, Plan A has collapsed. As has Plan B, because Bettys has nearly sold out. It looks like the hamper plan is going to boil down to some supermarket scones wrapped up in an old shoe box. This lacks the grandeur of the original plan, and I may have to do some more thinking. I did think about getting some fancy Christmas boxes, but the useful sizes all seem to have sold out. It seems that we haven’t been sending empty containers back to China so they can’t send us all the cheap stuff we have come to rely on.

The picture is some Christmas stamps I used on a letter to the USA today.

 

How do you plan your time?

I’ve been home for four hours. In that time I’ve read and commented on 10 posts from four bloggers, spoken to my sister, washed up (yes, I know I’m a slob) and cooked. Tea is nearly ready, though I have exploded a baked potato in the oven.

It doesn’t seem a lot for four hours. I’m never going to become a world class poet at this rate. I’m not even going to become a mediocre poet at this rate as I haven’t written anything apart from a few notes today. Well, I did answer some work emails and load four items onto eBay, but there was a distinct lack of poetry associated with all that.

The most complicated word I used was iconic, which is almost obligatory these days if you are selling a Winston Churchill Medallion.

We had a chicken curry made with a spice kit last night – grilled marinaded chicken breasts with rice and yoghurt dressing. The chicken was good, though messy to prepare, but the rice was not impressive. I couldn’t actually detect any flavour in it, though that may have been my fault for using brown rise instead of white.

The yoghurt dressing was good to. Two out of three ain’t bad, as they say. Maybe I will make meatloaf later this week.

Tonight it was Cornish Pasty with beans and baked potato. It wasn’t sophisticated but I did enjoy it.

We had crumble for the last two nights, made with plums from the garden tree. I see Julia has brought some apples home today so I’m hoping for apple crumble later this week. Tomorrow we will probably have fried rice with courgettes. We have plenty of courgettes – green ones, yellow one and ones that think they are marrows.

The car is in for servicing and MOT tomorrow, which seems to get more expensive every year. If I’d had my MOT in July I would have been given a 6 month extension, but as it’s in August I have to have it as normal. Ah well, it’s the same the whole world over, ain’t that a blooming shame – it’s the rich wot gets the pleasure and the poor wot gets the blame. Or words to that effect.

A final thought – according to Waking up on the Wrong Side of 50 she has her blog posts planned out until 20th September. The woman must be a machine – I have a couple of ideas noted for future use, but when I started writing this I didn’t know what I was going to write about when I started and wasn’t sure how I was going to finish it.

How do you plan your blog?

 

selective focus photo of grey cat

Photo by Kirsten Bu00fchne on Pexels.com

I thought I’d use the cats again today as they are generally acceptable, and because I’m too lazy to find new shots.

Wednesday 8th July Part III

 

We just had tea and biscuits for a mid-day break. then I washed up from breakfast, including the poaching pan, which looked like an explosion of ectoplasm. Then I let the compost caddy slip from my wet fingers. The lid could be more robustly secured…

So after clearing compost from the kitchen floor (in the shape of tea bags, egg shells, avocado skins and slippery veg peel) I am once more sitting down to work.

SMART Plans were, as I recall, my next subject.

They are plans which have a snappy acronym, and are thus better than ordinary plans. SMART, for those of you who haven’t been exposed to fashionable jargon in the last twenty years are plans that are:

Specific

Measurable

Assignable

Realistic

Time Related

They can be other things too, but this has always done for me. All it means is that you have to say what you are going to do, how you will measure it, who will do it, how you will do it and when you will do it by.

I spent a whole week once filling in the plan for a Junior Rugby section – including recruiting, training or obtaining coaches, first aiders, team managers, match officials, safeguarding officers, equipment, and several things I’ve forgotten, though I remember there were twelve things.

Somebody looked it over and said: “You’re mad, you’ll never do it.”

By the end of the year ten of the twelve things had been done and one had nearly been done. If I’d have just gone ahead with a vague plan in mind I would have managed three or four of the easier things.

I’ve just cut out 150 words on the philosophy and meaning of failure. I can sometimes be very pompous and boring and have to guard against it.

I will just say that real failure consists of not trying.

One of my plans for today is to write a number of blog posts covering the entire day. That seems to be working. Cooking breakfast was also on the list, as was catching up with the washing up. I now need to write a SMART Plan for my writing over the next year, sort out some books for the charity shop, do the grocery order for TESCO online and start the outlines for some magazine articles.

Julia is currently on the phone in the front room and the TV is off, so there is no temptation to wander through. She has been busy sorting out one of her clients (which I cannot discuss even though it is interesting), sorting out some office inefficiency (which I probably discuss, but it would be tactless) and generally chatting to people who are bored and still aren’t sure why they aren’t allowed out yet.

This is why.

I’d better get back to work now.

Flowers are from  A Bunch of Irises.

 

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Wednesday 8th July Part I

Wednesday 8th July Part II

Wednesday 8th July Part III

Wednesday 8th July Part IV

Wednesday 8th July Part V

The Story So Far

I think all the positivity of my last few posts has exhausted me. It’s not easy being cheerful when the whole world seems set on misery. Earlier tonight I was listening to a negative, whining politician tonight as he made a selection of party-political points and offered nothing useful. This, of course, is merely reverting to type. They behaved like a basket of weasels through the whole Brexit debate, briefly grew up at the start of the Covid outbreak and are now reverting to type.

The country is led by a man who has made all his political decisions based on how it would help his career, so you can’t blame any of his verminous fellows who are trying to further their careers in the current climate. It may be a tragedy for the us, but it’s a career opportunity for them.

Today, after reading more of the 1700 book, I have mainly been watching TV, reading blog sites and searching newspaper archives. There are worse ways of spending a day.

Julia’s day started at 6.55 when someone rang her. It was a wrong number. It finished at 20.15 when some of the clients decided to conference call her. They get bored and ring at all times, having no concept of working hours. It’s very wearing.

Tomorrow will be similar, but may feature a trip to the pharmacy. I really must start measuring medallions too. It’s time to start making lists so that I do actually accomplish something. I can then bore people with stories of what I did in the Great Lockdown of 2020.

Good news from earlier in the week is that pollution levels are falling because we aren’t using cars as much.

Sunday Night Again

Yes, it’s Sunday night again and I’m looking at another week incarcerated in a windowless office with a thousand items of eBay stock and the scent of ancient sweat drifting off a pile of used foreign banknotes. Years ago I was present when a dealer opened a shoebox crammed with used notes from a distant land . The experience of lifting the lid and taking a breath was very much like being coshed with a sweaty football sock crammed with mature cheese. I have been dubious about used foreign notes ever since.

Sometimes they bring back pleasant memories of exotic foreign trips, but mostly they just remind me of that shoebox. That makes me sound like a man who made exotic foreign trips. Actually I only made a couple, and they were for business so they tended to be big on work and light on tourism.

And with thoughts of missed opportunities, I will now turn back to plans for the week.

Tomorrow I am rising at 6.30 to get to the hospital in time to get a parking space and, with luck, a short wait for a blood test. I haven’t been since before Christmas so I’m hoping I hit target as I like it when you get two or three months between tests.

For the rest of the week I have a visit from a tree surgeon, who is going to trim a tree, a visit to charity shops to drop off some books and other clutter, and a trip to the doctor to review medication. Not the most inspiring of weeks. I really ought to add the Power Point to that, because days have a terrible habit of melting away if you don’t plan properly.

I know that the most productive periods of my life have been the ones where I’ve planned them properly, but I’m lazy and tend to let things slide.

I will add “planning” to the list. It’s time to shake off the winter and get to work.

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Sculpture at Scarborough

The pictures are ones I recently found on a camera card I’d mislaid. It’s a sculpture from the seafront at Scarborough, and it’s surprisingly difficult to photograph, as there are always people in the way, looking at it or the information board.

Sculpture at Scarborough

Sculpture at Scarborough

The Dangers of Frivolity

Subtitle: Twenty minutes to keep my average up.

I’ve been thinking of how to structure my blogging week, having noticed that some people have certain days for certain types of post. I thought of the following.

Moaning Monday – which I will reserve for all my moans about other drivers, modern life and anything else that needs moaning about.

Tetchy Tuesday – which I will reserve for all my tetchiness about other drivers, modern life and anything else that needs me to be tetchy about it. Very much like Monday.

Whining Wednesday – which I will reserve for all my whines about other drivers, modern life and anything else that needs whining about. Very much like Monday and Tuesday, apart from the fact it’s my day off and is more likely to feature scones or fish and chips.

Postcode Thursday  – Alliteration deserted me, and that Postcode tour needs at least one day a week to itself.

Friday – is obviously Poets Day in which I discuss the lives and best known works of various poets. Or I simply Push Off Early – Tomorrow’s Saturday.

Short Saturday  – because the night is full of low-grade TV to watch and it’s too short to write a long post.

Sombre Sunday – which I will reserve for all my sombre thoughts about other drivers, modern life and anything else that needs someone to be sombre about it. Very much like Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday but more likely to include tales from the laundry.

I just hope that I don’t have  so much fun on Thursday, Friday and Saturday that I become frivolous and frolicksome.

A Detour…

We went to Jaywick (just down the coast from Clacton) on Tuesday looking for a Martello Tower. We didn’t find it and we came away feeling thoughtful after driving round what appeared to be a shanty town.

Jaywick was grew up as a holiday village in the 1920s and 30s when a property developer sold plots of farmland to Londoners to build holiday homes. The land he sold was not used for farming because it tended to flood – you would have thought this was a bad sign.

It became permanant by accident. After the war, with pressure on housing  in London, people moved out and started living in Jaywick on a full-time basis. Poor roads, lack of employment opportunities, lack of mains drainage and badly built houses all contributed to making it one of the most deprived areas of the UK.

{t’s a lesson in how things can go wrong from optimistic beginnings. You get the idea that it could all have been different, as other Plotlands schemes seem to have prospered, or been demoloished. Peacehaven is probably the best-known successful development, though it has been helped by being in a prosperous area and by being built on well=drained land.

Names can be interesting. I note that Peacehaven was originally named New Anzac-on-Sea in 1916.  Many Jaywick roads are named after car makers. You will, however, search in vain for many of our current car names – no Honda, no Seat, no BMW. Instead you have Crossley, Standard and Singer. The newest car name I saw was Lotus (founded 1952) but it looks like part of the 1970s rebuilding.

No photos for this, but an interesting bit of history (even if it wasn’t the history I was looking for). We never did find the Martello Tower…

Reading, Writing, Researching, Reviewing…

Easter Sunday, being one of the two days of the year when the shops close, is the perfect guilt-free day for catching up on things I want to do. There are no launderettes, no shops and no garden centres to reproach me for my lack of activity. I do experience a slight twinge of guilt at not going to church, and it does bother me that Julia has to work, but a sit down with a nice cup of tea usually helps me get over it.

Today was similar, as we both decided to block out the weather and watch poor quality TV. Or, to be more accurate, we decided to block out the weather and watch the only TV that was available.

It’s a bit like junk food, sometimes it’s just what you need.

I’ve been using it to do some reading, as I don’t seem to have done much reading recently. I’ve also looked some things up and taken photos of book jackets ready to do a bit of reviewing.

What I haven’t done over the last two days was much writing. I think the cause of this lies in potential – as I prepare, the whole world of blogging is out there, waiting for my masterpiece.

Once it’s written it’s just one more slightly disappointing post.

 

Progress of Sorts…

Make chicken stew. It’s in the oven. Several hours late.

Soup? Er…just about to do it. Veg are ready but I need to wash a pan as I’ve been storing compost scraps in it for the last few days. Yes, I need to empty a bokashi bucket.

Curry. It won’t take long.

Living room – I’ve moved stuff round, which is related to tidying, though not closely related. More a cousin than a sibling.

Hoover. Perhaps tomorrow.

Meanwhile I have washed up and done the recycling, which I’d forgotten about. I often forget the washing up, though not as much as Number Two son, who is a world class amnesiac. Also watched darts and discussed the finer parts of sports marketing and sponsorship with Number Two son. Had bacon cobs with mushrooms for lunch.

Cut up plastic bottles to make poppies. (and give me an excuse to re-use old photos of poppies).

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Poppies made from plastic bottles

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Poppies and corn wreath