I was looking for blog post inspiration when I saw this:
I would love to use the word “omnishambles” in a sentence, but then I would have to write yet another post about work, and nobody would want that.
I was looking for blog post inspiration when I saw this:
I would love to use the word “omnishambles” in a sentence, but then I would have to write yet another post about work, and nobody would want that.
Here is a collection of 11 random things I’ve learned about, read, seen, experienced, or otherwise enjoyed in 2011. In no particular order:
As I’ve already said elsewhere on this blog, I’ve really enjoyed watching Rev. Each week, I watched it, slightly worried that the week’s episode might not be as good as the one before, but I was never disappointed. Each episode made me laugh and gave food for thought, and some even made me cry. What more could one ask of a TV series?
Not having seen the first series, I watched the second series of The Killing on the recommendation of a colleague, and I wasn’t disappointed. I do like a good crime drama. Sara Lund proved a worthy heroine, and the fact that she wears the best jumpers on TV is a bonus.
The Shadow Line
This BBC drama had even more twists and turns than The Killing, if that’s possible. It was a bit over-the-top at times, but I really enjoyed it (although I had to watch it on mute and/or look away from the screen quite a lot, as there were some scary or otherwise disturbing moments.
On to books now. I read Planet Narnia towards the beginning of the year. I found it to be an unexpectedly fascinating read, and it set me off on a course of reading quite a few books by and about C. S. Lewis. I’ve done my book list for 2011 now, so you can have a look at it if you’re interested.
I’ve read a few books I’ve really enjoyed this year (including The Final Solution, The Children’s Book (despite its sadness) and I Shall Wear Midnight) but I think Markus Zusak‘s I am the Messenger just pips Michael Chabon‘s The Final Solution to win the non-existent prize for my favourite fiction book of the year. It’s a most excellent book and everyone should read it. Everyone should read The Final Solution too, though.
If you like knitting, Ravelry.com is the place to go to. I’ve found it really useful for finding new patterns, discovering new techniques and keeping a record of the things I’ve made.
I bought a new DSLR camera in March, and since then I’ve been learning more about photography, and taking lots more photos, probably much to the irritation of the people around me! I’m still learning (I think that’s going to be a forever ongoing process), and still enjoying it very much. Having taken lots of pictures has been very useful for blogging purposes, apart from anything else, as I’ve been able to participate in the Photo Hunt, Wordless Wednesdays and the WordPress Daily Post Weekly Photo Challenge, which have given me something to post a couple of days a week, at least!
I started my job as a full-time cataloguer (well, apart from when I’m doing other things in the library) early in 2011. I’ve now catalogued many items, from textbooks to music scores, to hand puppets, and learned lots about cataloguing, as well as about the things I’ve had to catalogue. It’s a fascinating business.
I’ve tried to read more poems this year. I like poetry, but I’d never really made a concerted effort to read much of it before. However, this year, I decided to read Poem for the Day: Two – I bought a copy of it secondhand. I didn’t suceed in reading a poem every day, but I did read more poems this year than I have in other years, and found the exercise helpful, interesting and comforting, amongst other things. I’ve now also bought a copy of the original Poem for the Day, so I’ll try and keep up the poetry reading next year.
Unsurprisingly, singing has been a highlight for me (again) this year. I’ve enjoyed the concerts, but I’ve probably enjoyed the rehearsals a bit more – they’re not so nerve-wracking! I think my favourite pieces I’ve sung this year were Chilcot’s version of The Angel Gabriel and Fauré’s Requiem, the latter of which I think is one of my favourite pieces of music ever.
I like ‘Rev.‘ In case you don’t know, it’s a television comedy programme about a vicar at a less-than-thriving inner-city church.
Adam (the Rev. of the title) is somewhat hapless, and many extremely silly things happen to him, but the great thing about him is that he’s not a one dimensional character. He’s not just a silly vicar for us to laugh at. He does silly things, but he also displays great love and self-sacrifice. He has what I would say is a realistic relationship with God – uncertain, questioning, confused, but also with moments of great joy and sanctity that he holds on to when the going gets tough.
The storylines can be quite daft (but in an amusing, rather than an annoying way) and yet the series also manages to be quite moving and thought-provoking at times. A couple of lines of dialogue can touch on some of the deepest questions we face as humans, about life, the universe and everything, and then we’ll be back to Colin and Adam shooting drug-addled squirrels in the churchyard, or similar.
‘Rev.’ may take an affectionate jibe at the Church of England now and again, but, watching it as a Christian, I never feel like my faith or the community I belong to is being mocked, nor are Christians being stereotyped. Adam might be a bit hapless, his
curate lay reader [and I call myself an Anglican!] might be extremely annoying, the archdeacon might be the stuff of nightmares and the congregation is certainly motley to say the least, but they all display love and compassion for their fellow human beings in various ways (even the scary archdeacon on occasion), and no one is ever beyond redemption. And it is very funny.
Edited on 18/12/2011 to add: A few people have arrived at this post after searching to try to find out the details of the song played at the end of episode 6 of series 2 (first aired 15th December 2011). The song was “Our Love Will See Us Through”, performed by Nina Simone. Thanks to Steve, who commented on this post (see below) for the answer!
After watching all six out of seven episodes of The Shadow Line in a short space of time and then watching The Book of Eli, all of which were pretty grim viewing, I had to watch The Devil Wears Prada as an antidote. It’s one of my favourite films and is so lightweight it’s probably the absolute antithesis of The Book of Eli and The Shadow Line. I like it because it’s funny and quite sweet at times and because Anne Hathaway is in it (she has a good name and nice hair) and because Meryl Streep is in it being a deliciously mean ice-queen and clearly enjoying herself the whole way through. She is so cool. TDWP not a deep film in any way, it verges on the ridiculous almost all the way through, and it’s very predictable and cheesy, but as a piece of escapism I can’t really fault it.
I couldn’t knit to The Book of Eli or The Shadow Line, but I knitted to TDWP. I’ve almost completed one glove, including a thumb bit, which I’m quite pleased about.
Due to not being at work yesterday, I have been a bit confused about what day it is today! At various points in the day I have thought it was Monday, or Wednesday, but of course it is actually Tuesday. The confusion became clear when I was talking to one of my colleagues about Coronation Street, which is on on Mondays, and I thought I had seen it on Monday, but actually I hadn’t – I actually watched about five episodes in a row of it on Sunday evening – the 50 Years of Coronation Street special episodes and all. It was jolly good.
What I most liked about it was that, although quite a ridiculous amount of disastrous stuff was happening, all the characters (well, almost) were looking after one another, going in to rescue people from burning or collapsing buildings, sitting with their friends who were injured, making tea and soup and generally thinking of others instead of themselves. It’s not very often you see that on television. I think this is one of the good things about Coronation Street – by and large (with a few exceptions) the characters are likeable people who care for their friends, family and neighbours, even if they do stupid and sometimes not very nice things in order to drive the plotlines onward. It is also, on occasion (but obviously not last week) one of the funniest programmes on television.
For reasons that are too complicated and yet also too boring to explain, we no longer have television in our house. We have a television set, but we don’t have television. I can still watch things on the lovely interweb, but, somehow, it’s just not the same.
Or, I could just not watch it at all, which would probably be good for me. But I like television. I think this is mainly because I wasn’t allowed to watch much television when I was younger, so now it still (!) seems a bit like a treat, even though I can watch it whenever I want to. Also, I have found television to be a comfort in troubled times. For example, when I was in hospital, watching television was like a connection to the outside, ‘normal’ world. I know there is not really a lot that is normal about the stuff they show on television, but most of it is probably more normal than being stuck in a hospital ward and all the (mainly unpleasant) things that come with that.
For me, television is associated with comfort and connection with what’s going on out in the wide world. Although it has many negative aspects, I think they’re outweighed by the positive things that can be achieved by it and through it. Like any other form of technology, it just needs to be used wisely. And yes, I know this is easier said than done. Even though I like television, I still think it will be good for me to not have such ready access to it. I’m hoping this will mean that I achieve more things, but in reality I’ll probably just spend even more time on the Internet.
So, according to The Review Show last night, e-books are probably here to stay. It was a really interesting programme and worth a watch if you’re a librarian, writer, reader or publisher or just interested in books and reading – so that probably covers just about everyone!
I did some work experience at my (then) local public library in 2001, just before I started as a graduate trainee library assistant. Part of my work was to assist with the organisation of a project about e-books. Basically, we had a few e-books readers and we demonstrated them to the public. This was the first time I had heard of e-books and e-book readers. There was no iPhone or iPad and no Kindle. I can’t actually remember who made the e-book readers we held in our hands that day, but I do remember that my overall impression of them was…grey. The cases were grey and, alas, so were the screens! I know they’re quite grey now, but these were very ‘screeny’ – it’s hard to describe really, but I didn’t fancy trying to read a whole book on one!
I know e-books have been around in the background since before I first met them, but it seems that it’s only recently that people in general, rather than librarians or other people who work with books, have become aware of them. I suppose this is due to the new technology, like the Kindle, the iPhone, etc., that allows people to access and use e-books more easily and cheaply than before. Plus, people are now much more used to reading longer writings on a screen, whether when browsing the internet (e.g. reading blog posts!) or doing in-depth research using e-journals, which were, in a way, the precursor of e-books.
As with most things, e-books have their good and bad points. The fact that we can now carry 3,500 ‘books’ around with us is pretty cool. I can’ t really argue with that. There is an argument that the increasing popularity and availability e-books and their electronic readers will actually improve access to writings and literature, which can only be a good thing. I’m not sure whether or not to say access to books, because I’m not talking about actual, physical paper and card/cloth books, so I’m not really talking about actual books, as such. Which leads me on to my next point.
This point is one that Jeanette Winterson made (briefly) last night, so I’m really stealing it from her. Sorry Jeanette. Anyway, to expand on her point, it is all very well being able to access 3,500 e-books, but access is the operative word. What if you can’t access them?
The information gap is already massive. Whether or not you have access to certain information (or entertainment) now depends on whether or not you have the technology you need to access it. If you can’t afford a computer or a mobile phone or a Kindle, you’re obviously not going to have the same access to information that those people who can afford these things have. The fact that not everyone has access to the internet at home seems to be something our current government seems to be conveniently ignoring. The more products are only made available in digital format (as is happening with some publications already), the more exclusive access to these products becomes.
And what access to books via searching and browsing the physical shelves? Jeanette Winterson made the good point that “digitisation is taking books off shelves…[so] you are only going to find what you are looking for, which does not help those who do not know what they are looking for”. Too true. Even if you have access to e-books, etc., how do you find new things and explore different angles and have those serendipity moments where you just stumble across a book you like the look of? There are, of course, things like the suggested reads from Amazon, but these are not always relevant or accurate interpretations of people’s reading tastes, and, anyway, the danger with such things is that they only suggest similar things to those you’ve read before, thus potentially limiting the variety of your reading material.
Browsing the shelves is many people’s only way of finding books. They may never have access to or wish to use a computer or an online library catalogue. If they can’t access the physical books on the shelves, they’re probably not going to read them.
The answer to these problems could, of course, be your humble librarian. That is, after all, what we’re there for – to steer people through the maze of information and help them find what they want or need. However, the likelihood is that the more things are digitised the less the value of real-live librarians, as well as libraries as places, is going to be appreciated.
I, for one, look forward to the future with interest and anticipation. I just hope that whatever new technology comes our way will only improve access to information for everyone, and that the value of librarians won’t be lost in amongst all the excitement.
On Wednesday, three members of our team in the SNLeC, had a joint leaving party. A goodly number of people attended, and copious amounts of cake, tea, coffee and juice were provided and consumed. The Big Boss gave a nice speech about each departing member of staff and handed over some nice-looking gifts. As is often the case when I attend such gatherings, I thought this thought: why is it that we, but particularly our managers, only tell people how much we appreciate them when they’re about to leave?
There is a series on television in the UK called “Undercover Boss“, in which people who are actually the bosses of their organisations go undercover as minions within said organisations. This, and the subsequent reveal of the ‘minion’ as the boss is all documented for our entertainment. Such is the nature of Channel 4 television. I haven’t watched the series, but a part of the recent trailer for the series really touched me. In it, the boss, who, I think, had now revealed himself to be the boss, is shown telling an employee he has been doing a good job. The employee is crying with the relief of finally being appreciated for his hard work. It shouldn’t be this way!
One of the more interesting things I learned on the management course I attended in the spring was that it not only matters that people feel valued, but for the value to really make a difference to the way they feel about themselves they also need to know they are valued by the ‘right’ people.
For example, in the professional context, managers are the person people look up to. Even though employees may not always agree with the manager’s opinions, decisions or methods, he or she is still the boss. As such, what (employees think) the manager thinks of them and how he or she treats them has a significant effect on how they see myself as a professional people. If people don’t feel valued by their managers, that in turn negatively affects employees’ own valuation of their work and, consequently, their confidence and self-esteem.
This is not to say that appreciation from employees’ peers is not important as well, but in the a professional context the manager is often the one whose opinion has the most influence over the way an employee feels about him/herself. Also, in my experience at least, peers tend to be a lot better than their managers at helping people to feel valued!
As a former supervisor and a colleague, I’m pretty sure I’ve been guilty of not showing my appreciation for people, for which I am very sorry. Even though it should be easy, it is something that people seem to find surprisingly difficult to do. Even saying thank you seems to be beyond some people, and, unfortunately, it seems that they higher up the managerial ladder people climb, the less likely they are to show their appreciation and gratitude – until the leaving party.
So, my advice to any managers/supervisors reading this (of which there are probably none, but never mind!) – please try to show your appreciation for the work done by your colleagues. Even just saying thank you once in while could make the world of difference to the way someone feels about themselves. If you’re not a touchy-feely person, think about it from a business point of view – people are generally better employees if they feel valued.
In the end, whether in a work context or not, people just need to know that they matter.
Thank you for reading!
an invisibility cloak. I think they’ll probably really exist, one day. There have been some stories in the news about scientists developing materials that could be used to make such cloaks in the future. It would be nice to go about unseen sometimes. Just think of all the places you could get into, all the things you could see and overhear and all the people you could avoid! However, there are other times when I am actually, as far as I’m aware, quite visible and yet no one seems to see either me or the effect of me. Maybe fading into the background is a gift in some situations, but not when, for example, one is in a restaurant trying to get the waiter’s attention or when one is queuing at a bar. I’m not even short! I think I must have a sort of non-presence – like the opposite of charisma or stage presence. Weird, but possibly useful if I ever wanted to be a spy.
I’ve ended up with a curry that has too much water in at and no blog post to speak of. I’m a bit stuck for something to write about. On the homeward-bound train I attempted to write a poem, but came to the conclusion that I can’t write poetry. I was going to attempt the ‘guilty pleasures’ meme, but have realised (with some horror) that I don’t think I actually have six things that fit into all or perhaps any of the categories. I suppose I could do it with less things, but that might defeat the object or be cheating, or something.
I suppose I could just write about some things I like, which are pleasures, but not necessarily guilty ones. So, here are six things I like, with reasons if I can be eloquent enough to explain them:
1. Singing in harmony
I like singing in harmony and listening to other people singing in harmony. I don’t know why, but there is something about voices in harmony that is even more attractive than instruments playing in harmony. Maybe it’s the (more) human element. I sing in harmony all the time, even when I’m not supposed to. I probably really annoy the people sitting near to me in church (which is the only place where I sing these days). Sometimes it’s because I can’t reach the top notes of the tune, at other times it’s just because I like the sound and sometimes it just happens without me trying. I think singing in harmony is the only thing I would come out and say that I’m good at, which is probably another reason why I like it so much!
2. Food (and eating it)
I love food. I think the term may be ‘greedy’, but I prefer not to think about it like that. I was discussing my love of food with my mum the other day. I think the first thing I asked when I got home every day was,’What’s for tea?’ (dinner if you’re in the South). There are very few things that I don’t like to eat and I won’t mention them here because this is a post about what I like, not what I don’t.
My mother-in-law commented that I eat a lot (!) over the weekend. I suppose I do eat almost all the time, whenever the opportunity arises to do so, but whether the amounts I eat are large is debatable. I just enjoy the experience of eating, which is something only someone in the decadent and wasteful West could say. The only time I don’t enjoy eating is when I’m very unhappy or quite ill, so if you offer me food and I don’t accept it you should probably start worrying.
I think that if you read this blog on a regular basis you are probably well aware that I like gardening! I love being outdoors but within the comfort zone of my own garden, I enjoy the physical activity of digging, planting and chopping. I relish seeing a result, a change and most of all the new life that flourishes within the garden, often to my surprise.
I like trees for many reasons, not least because they help us with our oxygen levels. I think they’re beautiful and if I wasn’t a Christian I would say they were wise and probably worship them in the moonlight. I have been known to hug a tree on occasion.
I like them also because they remind me of the first person I was in love with (if unrequited love counts which I’m not sure it does) who climbs every tree he can. I remember when I was living in the mad chaplaincy (one for another post, I feel), sitting in my small but comfortable room, looking out of the window and feeling glad that there was a tree outside because it would remind me of him. Sad but true. We’re still friends so I think it’s OK that trees remind me of him and make me glad because of this - or does this count as some odd form of adultery?
I’ve had a soft spot for sheep ever since I lived in Wales. They are very cute, in my opinion, not to mention useful as lawnmowers and providers of wool. I would hesitate to say that they’re useful as food, as I am not a big fan of lamb, mainly because I can’t help thinking about the lovely sheep that had to be killed for me to eat it. I think I’m a closet vegetarian. I became an even bigger fan and defender of sheep when I learnt that they are, contrary to popular belief, intelligent animals who have been known to build bridges to help one another across rivers. Some people don’t believe me when I tell them this.
Well, that’s your lot for today. I do like more than six things in the whole world but it’s almost time for Heroes (which is another thing I like), so I have to go.