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  • A Tale Told By An Idiot

    "Life's but a walking shadow... a tale told by an idiot... signifying nothing."

    I sometimes wonder about Shakespeare - not that often, I must admit- and the words he put into his characters' mouths.

    That was Macbeth, by the way, Polanski's movie version of the play is well worth watching.

    Shakespeare just seemed to 'get' the human condition, he held up a mirror for us to look into and see ourselves.

    Maybe he wasn't human himself, maybe he wasn't just one person, maybe he was an alien intelligence... maybe I''ll get to the point soon.

    That could be the point though, that there is no actual 'point', no pre-determined goal or destination to be aimed for in life...now there's a thought.

    That doesn't have to be a bad thing, does it? That could be a tremendously liberating realisation.

    "For there is nothing either good or bad, but thinking makes it so."  Hamlet.

    There he goes again!

    Imagine living a life where there are no expectations of you, where nobody expresses disappointment with your efforts, and you don't feel guilty for being yourself.

    OK, so Macbeth was feeling at bit down in the dumps at this stage in his career; his wife had just gone mad and died, a hostile army was approaching his castle, and he was just about to get his head cut off...enough to get anyone reaching for the paracetamol and whisky, really.

    Even so, it's worth stopping and taking stock from time to time.

    It's not the easiest thing to work out; how much of what we do and think is us, and how much is what someone else has sneaked in there, maybe to make their life a little easier.

    If you read some of the stuff that could loosely be called 'New Age' or 'Alternative', and I don't recommend it really, you come across the concept of an ' authentic' life(style). ???

    Nice to know somebody's worked it out... apparently!

    In the meantime until the little light bulb (energy-saving, of course) goes on in my cluttered head, I think I'll try to be authentic in a simple kind of way, although the simplest things can be the most difficult to do.

    It's the back end of December 2012, I've just finished the last of the turkey but I've still got a foothill of chocolate to climb. It will soon be January, named after Janus, the Roman god of beginnings and transitions.

    So there it is...

    Beginnings and transitions.

    Life as a work in progress...

    not such an idiotic idea after all?

  • In The Bleak Midwinter

    Well, we got to the midwinter solstice without any major catastrophes. The days are going to get longer and the nights shorter, hang on in there all you SAD sufferers!

    Winter can be a beautiful time in the Lakes, you just need to get out there when it isn't raining or foggy or windy...OK just trying to be optimistic about stuff, annoying ,eh?

    Took this photo from above Pooley Bridge down the Ullswater valley.

    Hope it brightens up your day.

    Enjoy your winter break

    and let's see what 2013 has to say for itself!

  • Just Passing Through

    I get it, I get it!

    Mr Italic, the staff development officer, (a.k.a. Didactosaurus), is spending some time with old Piet in the Pooley Bridge shop.

    The theme is layers.

    That Einstein chap was a clever beggar, but since he started messing about with those thought experiments and told us that nothing is absolute or fixed, and that it's all relative, well, everything got wobbly.

    Do you know that if you could travel at the speed of light your watch would stop. And if you could fly around the universe faster than the speed of light, you'd get back before you set off?

    But you can't, so let's not worry about that.

    Yes, you can choose your friends but you can't pick your relatives, as my Granny used to say.

    We're doing layers today, aren't we?  No walrus poems then?

    No, just a little joke to start with.

    An Englishman, a Scotsman and an Irishman walk into a pub and the barman says, "Is this some kind of a joke?"

    Get it?

    Of course I do. The joke starts in a traditional format; we are led to expect some amusing banter, probably linked into national stereotypes, but then the barman, in a surreal kind of way, steps out of the joke. As if an actor in a play were to jump off the stage and sit in the auditorium with the audience and become a spectator, not a player.

    Can't see the link with Einstein, though.

    That was more to do with the waterproof question and how external conditions turn that into a 'that depends' answer, ask the walrus, there are no absolutes any more.

    So you see that humour can work (or not) at different levels, there was a kind of joke within a joke there, like those Russian dolls : Matryoshka dolls, you see?

    You're going to try to slip from levels to layers now and hope nobody notices the clunk, aren't you?

    Clunk!? A Russian doll is a pretty good example of layers.

    If you are planning to get out into the hills, you need to think about the best combination of layers that will give you appropriate insulation from the conditions you are likely to encounter on that particular day and on that particular walk.

    OK, I think I can do this.

    In changeable conditions such as we get here in the Lakes, flexibility and adaptability are the guiding principles.

    In simple terms.. a base layer, one or more mid layers and an outer shell.

    Base layer worn next to the skin to absorb and then allow moisture (sweat) to pass through to the...

    mid layer(s) which we use to regulate temperature and also needs to allow moisture to pass through it...also referred  to as wicking...

    then a suitable outer shell, windproof, waterproof and breathable...(remember the walrus?)...which you can easily remove or put back on when the weather changes its mind.

    So there isn't one ideal combination, you have to think about what you are planning to do. It's a good idea to start your walk feeling slightly cool, even a little cold, especially if you are starting your day with a bit of a climb, you'll soon find yourself  generating warmth and you really don't want to get too clammy so early!

    Oh, and red jackets aren't warmer than blue ones.

    I think you got the basics there, Piet. We can get into a little more detail about synthetics versus natural fibres like merino wool, at a later stage of your staff development.

    So it's about keeping the moisture on the move until it gets to the fresh air and evaporates away.

    I've got a joke.

    Oh, really?

    Yes.  A skeleton walks into a pub

    asks for a pint of bitter

    and a mop.

    Get it?

    Wicked, Piet, wicked.  LOL

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