Wednesday, November 29, 2006

MBA here I come!

One of these days I’m going to sign myself up for an online learning course of some sort. Never having been to university, it’s something that’s always interested me, and an online (or distance learning) approach appeals. I wonder whether I’d be able to cope with the course, whether I’d have the nous to do the work, whether I can think as well as I sometimes think I can (or better than my wife sometimes thinks I can!).

I was checking out an MBA online course run by Capella University recently and went through the course demo…almost signed up on the spot. Pity it’s in another country! It’s a very clearly laid out demo, moves efficiently without hitches, and gives you good examples of what it’s talking about. Gee, how much have I got in my cheque book and do I have the time….? (Runs off to check out his bank balance…)
I have too much time on my hands. While looking for some information on Google about possible new inventions that can provide electricity on a micro-level (like a little windmill out in the back garden) I came across a site listing US Patents. The following computer mouse seems a bit of an odd invention: what the heck size would the paper be? And what small thing could you print on it? Or is the inventor envisaging a large mouse....kinda like supermouse?
United States Patent 6650315

A mouse device for use as an input device of a computer is provided that includes a housing in which recording paper is loadable, and a printer unit provided within the housing for printing on the recording paper print information received from the computer. The printer unit includes a paper loading section in which the recording paper is loaded, a platen roller for feeding the recording paper loaded in the loading section, a print head for printing on the recording paper fed by the platen roller, and a discharge port through which the recording paper is discharged after printing by the platen roller out of the housing while taking a substantially vertical attitude.
I'm not sure I even understand what he's talking about.

Stokely Carmichael

Stokely Carmichael arguing the thesis that the world is now divided between exploiting white men and exploited coloured people: "What about Castro?" asked one member of his audience, "What about Che Guevera?"

"I don't," retorted Mr Carmichael, "consider them white."

Reported in The Daily Telegraph, 20th July, 1067

Benigno Aquino

It's been some time since I added quotes to the posts on this blog - something I intended to do originally. So here goes again!

There were times when my desperation was so deep that I believed no life is worth a lie, things are either right or wrong and life is worth living only if one acts with some consistency. To submit, to yield, and to surrender to the forces of depression is to give ourselves over to despair: but to act, to resist, no matter how puny the resistance, still preserves for us the hope that we will stand erect.

Benigno Aquino – in a letter quoted by Alistair Cooke. (Found in The New Zealand Listener, 1st Oct, 19383.)

How about men wearing engagement rings?

One of the things that always used to intrigue me when I’d go to the bank to deposit some money was the number of rings the older tellers would be wearing: engagement ring, wedding ring, and possibly a couple of others. What would they be for? An anniversary? A memory of some occasion? I used to wonder how some of them could bend their ring fingers, they were so laden with jewellery. Was there some kind of competition going on to see which teller could outdo the others?

Men, on the other hand, are ostentatious enough if they only wear a single wedding band. And while some of these have become a bit more stylish with the years, you never see a man’s wedding ring with a stone in it – at least not a stone that you’d notice.

One tradesman friend, who seldom wore his wedding ring (he did have one), said the reason was that it was easy to catch the ring on things while working. A friend of his had had his finger nearly torn off when the ring caught on something stronger than he was.

I don’t think I’ve ever seen a man wearing an engagement ring, though it’s an interesting idea, and I’m sure some enterprising company will eventually try and start a trend in this – if they haven’t already done so. Still, if a guy can catch his wedding ring on something like a hook at work, imagine how easily he’d catch a rather more ostentatious engagement ring!

This thought came to me when I was looking at some matching engagement and wedding rings on Danforth Diamond’s site. The engagement rings are obviously the more showy, but the wedding rings have their own special style

Stands in a suitcase

One of the things that used to be a pain when I worked in the bookshop was dealing with old style bookstands. Of course, money to pay for new stands was another issue too! And as for taking books out on the road to a book display: that meant carting all sorts of things with us, and hoping that the church or institution would have enough tables, would put us in a place where we’d actually be visible and so on.

In the light of this I see that the bookstands one company provides for trade show displays are marvellously original, ranging from collapsible stands in a concertina style that fold away in their own handy case to ones that fold up like a pack of cards. Others have a nice lean to the like someone standing back to admire a painting, or shoot up in a triangular shape like someone giving a shout at a football game.

This company, ExhibitDEAL, doesn’t only provide bookstands, of course – it has the whole range of materials for setting up at trade shows, from booths, to floors, to pop-up displays. Very eye catching!

Silver and Gold I have none!

I was with some friends the other night and one couple who’d been in Amsterdam a few years ago were telling me about a bank there. Apparently this bank has a good deal of gold bullion stored in its basement, and they have an excellent approach to preventing the gold being stolen. When the alarm goes off to tell them that someone is trying to filch the gold, floodgates from the canal near which the bank is built open up and….flood the basement. Any thief is promptly drowned (unless he’s a good swimmer) and the gold, which is known to float too well at the best of times, stays exactly where it was. A little hard on the thieves maybe, but then did I hear anyone say theft was something they approved of?

I was reminded about this story when I came across a firm, Monex Deposit Company, advertising silver as an investment. I hadn’t realised silver came in ingots as well as coins – but then silver hasn’t been something I’m known for giving much thought to. I didn’t realise that there is more demand for silver now than ever; in fact, the demand is outstripping the supply….which means, of course, that anyone investing in silver will do very well. Silver, like gold, doesn’t lose its value. Maybe I should store a few bars here at home. The only problem is, living on a hill, I don’t have a canal running alongside the house…

Being an Introvert is OKAY!

I get emails from Jurgen Wolff's Time to Write blog, and yesterday he sent a short piece about Introverts.

I wouldn't consider myself an Introvert, by any means, since I like people, and enjoy having my family around. I'm not a great party-goer, but I've been to plenty of social occasions I enjoy.

The point about Introverts is that unlike Extroverts, they need time to recoup their energy. There comes a point when we have to say to the family (which can be up to ten adults and six grandchildren), "Please go home." Basically, my wife (who's much the same as me in this regard) and I have had enough. We've run out of energy to be social any more, and need space to recoup. Give us a few hours and we'll be back into it again. I go to my computer and do some writing or other work; my wife has a rest - often, in fact, a sleep - or sits and blobs in front of the telly.

According to Jonathan Rauch, in the article that Jurgen Wolff quotes, there's nothing wrong with this - it's a normal kind of behaviour for Introverts.

Both my wife and I feel as though we're normal humans again!

Tuesday, November 28, 2006


I wish people who make up research questions would come up with some better ways of defining how you answer. I don't find the boxes they want to fit you into at all satisfactory, and I can't see how they give accuracy to the overall survey. No wonder they talk about error factors of up to 5% - I'd rank it considerably higher in fact!

I laughed out loud a couple of times at a survey I did on the phone tonight. Twaddle about whether a certain cereal made me feel good about my day. Only someone who worked in an advertising agency could possibly answer that with sincerity.

But it's the questions that have to be answered with a choice somewhere between strongly disagree and strongly agree that niggle me. Sometimes that kind of answer just doesn't fit the question. Yet surveyers time and again use it as an answering approach; plainly someone got hold of it once when it actually suited the questions it was applied to, and they've all been on the bandwagon ever since!

Car insurance online

Because, being out of work at present, I’ve been applying for a lot of jobs lately, I’ve had to make mention of the fact that I once worked for State Insurance – back in the days when computers in offices were unheard of. How things have changed. Now you can ring my old insurance company and get insured on the phone. My old bosses would be turning in their graves, I suspect.

Even better is the idea of being able to go online and compare insurance companies. We’ve been able to do it here with banks and mortgages for some time, but I’m not aware that it’s possible in NZ to compare insurance companies with any ease as yet. In the States, however, there’s a crowd called who do a car insurance comparison for you. That would be convenient. When I last insured my car I changed insurers, and while it wasn’t hard to do over the phone, I certainly wasn’t able to compare their prices easily either with my previous insurers, or with any others on the market. This idea from sounds great, because you can actually receive quotes from many insurance companies – and with the number of insurance companies there must be in the States, this can only be a good thing!

Along with this comparison business there’s an another idea a car insurance company has come up with. Because HD DVD discs have about six times the capacity of the current DVD format, Progressive Direct, a unit of a U.S. auto insurer, has teamed up with Universal Studios Home Entertainment to do something on the HD DVD version of The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift that sounds rather fun. You can choose to have a running tally of the vehicle destruction – in insurance cost terms. As the cars smack into one another in Tokyo, a display in a small window keeps track: "Roof repair: $209, taillights: $451, fender: $618.' The calculator is labelled Progressive Direct: Insurance Damage Estimates.

I’m not entirely sure what use you could make of it, except as one of those kind of I’m kind of curious about that sort of things. And whether most people who watch this kind movie would be interested in the cost of what’s happening as opposed to the mayhem, I’m not sure!

Apparently there are plans for incorporating all manner of extras of this kind into the new format DVDs. We wait with bated breath!

Saturday, November 25, 2006

Well, now it's blogs about blogs. Or rather, blogs about blogs have been on the increase for some time, and are a bit like people eating their own skin. To put it less vividly, they're the same as writers' magazines, where the topic is writing: by writers, for writers, a kind of catch 22 situation. Or am I just being over the top on this?

At least with other magazines, they're mostly about something else besides themselves: sports magazines are written by sports writers, mostly, rather than by sportsmen. Business magazines are written by business writers, rather than businessmen, or women. But writers' mags are written by writers for writers, like looking in the mirror and telling yourself how beautiful you are.

I must admit that when I first began to write seriously, by which I mean when I began to write with the aim of getting published, I devoured every writers' magazine and book I could find. "Devoured" may be more apt than you think, in view of what I've said above.

So would I write a blog about blogs? Only if they were interesting. What's happening however, is that people are writing blogs about how to write blogs. Surely part of the pleasure of a blog is that you don't have to be told how to write: you can write the way you always do - for better or worse. (If it's for worse, people will quickly switch off. There's nothing worse than a badly written blog; or one in which you wonder why the person is writing at all when their command of the language is almost nil.)

This is a bit of a ramble: it's late at night; I've been on the computer for quite some time composing music, and I need to go to bed...

Maybe I'll think more clearly tomorrow!