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Test Yourself - 31st Oct 2017

Test Yourself Rather than rushing out trick or treating tonight (a horrible American import), why not slouch down on your sofa, refuse to answer the door, and test your general knowledge?

The Book of General Ignorance
Stephen Fry & Alan Davies

Try these:
What were really Nelson's last words?
What do camels store in their humps?
What did Captain Cook give his men to prevent scurvy?
Which country has the world's highest suicide alert?
Where did Marco Polo come from?

You can get a copy of the above book before you go home and find out the answers to the above and many more.

Work-Life Balance - 27th Oct 2017

Work-Life Balance for Dummies
Work-Life Balance in the 21st Century by Diane Houston
In Search of Work-Life Balance by Russell Clay

I was going to write about these various self-help sort of books today but then I started thinking about the titles and about how infuriating I find that expression.

I mean, what on earth does a work-life balance mean? It implies that work is not part of life. As most of us spend eight hours a day at work, it most certainly is part of everyday life. Many people even love their jobs.

You could have a life-death balance, or a work/time off balance, or possibly a work/non-work balance but you cannot, in any meaningful way, have a work-life balance. Are you dead at work? It is an annoying expression. You can't even say it's inexact or imprecise. It is just plain wrong.

Food - 26th Oct 2017

Food Food: The Definitive Guide
The Perfect A-Z Companion for Food Lovers

This isn't just for food lovers; I'd include chefs, cooks, caterers, newly weds, students, first-time entertainers, and the generally curious. It's an indispensable kitchen companion.

Its alphabetic listing makes it easy to use. You just look up an ingredient (everyday or exotic, they are all there) and you get a photo, an explanatory note, indication of usage or cooking method, often (but not always) a recipe and frequently a reference to a related item.

For example, look up the dish pilaff and you get recipes for Tomato & Herb Pilaff and for Onion and Pea Pullao. There is a cross-reference to burghul and its many other names. There is a bit of history as well.  Or you can look up a single ingredient such as shallott and you'll get cooking methods, alternate names, a description, various uses and a delicious recipe for Caramelized Shallot Tart.

Problems - 25th Oct 2017

I wonder if you can guess what attracted me to today's books (and it's not because of the obvious reason that the two titles apply to me).

Alcohol Problems & Alcoholism by Royce
Solving Your Money Problems by David Crank

It is the refreshing use of the world 'problem' in the titles that attracted me when I saw the books. I often wonder if I am alone in being irritated by the fact that no-one has 'problems' any longer. The word 'issues' is now almost exclusively applied to what are clearly (and far more accurately) problems.

Almost everyone is guilty of this inaccurate woolly language from television presenters, radio announcers, newspaper journalists and politicians to doctors, economists, and teachers. We now have traffic issues, health issues, an issue with violence, money issues and learning issues.

I suspect it is a determination not to call a spade a spade but it is very annoying. Let's get back to problems (disorders, difficulties, or troubles) and leave the poor maligned word 'issue' for important topics needing discussion.

Colouring boooks - 24th Oct 2017

Apparently, there has been a bit of a craze for colouring-in books for adults. I heard of this first from listening to National Radio. They had an interview and a discussion about it. But the magnitude of the craze didn't really hit me until I looked round several airport bookshops recently and found that they were crammed with all sorts of 'adult' colouring books on just about every topic imaginable.

I suppose it is therapeutic - a bit like knitting for some people or doing jigsaws for others. However, I have just discovered that it can also be educational. You can get colouring books for physiology or microbiology or anatomy, for example.
The Anatomy Colouring Book
by Wynn Kapit and Lawrence Elson.

What a great way to memorise all that vocabulary and also make sure that you've got all the bits in the right place. A must for medical students I would have thought.


Continuing clocks - 23rd Oct 2017

Continuing clocks Clocks continued

By popular demand, here is a photo of the clock from the story featured last Thursday. It is back in its place in the living room, as you can see. It has been carefully repaired and the wood surrounds have been lovingly polished by Herman van Velthoven of Veltime Clocks in Broad Bay. I bet it hasn't looked this good for most of its long life. 

Before bringing the clock home, we took it to see my mother. She said that when my father and his friend made their mountings for the clocks, she was very taken with Hugo's efforts which were far more elegant and pleasing to the eye than my father's. However, she said he was determined to mount the clock on exactly the same angle as it would have sat on the cockpit instrument panel and so beauty took a back seat. She also commented wryly that Hugo's clock undoubtedly will not have survived anywhere near as long as ours due to his happy-go-lucky approach to possessions and an obstreperous child!

So enough of my clock. Why not come in and peruse some of the books in our horology section? What about PRINCIPLES AND EXPLANATIONS OF TIMEKEEPERS by Harrison, Arnold and Earnshaw or SOME OUTSTANDING CLOCKS OVER SEVEN HUNDRED YEARS 1250-1950 by Alan H Lloyd or OLD CLOCKS AND WATCHES AND THEIR MAKERS by FJ Britten.  

Lateral Thinking - 20th Oct 2017

A man was rushed to the emergency department of a hospital after an accident. The surgeon entered, took one look at the patient and then said, "I can't operate. That man's father is my father's son." How could that be?

If you struggled with that, then you probably need a weekend reading this:
A Whack on the Side of the Head: Unlock Your Mind with Lateral Thinking
by Roger von Oech

Develop your creative thinking with this book. It's a mix of wisdom, paradox, philosophy, fun and scientific fact presented through stories and mental exercises. You can learn to be much more innovative by getting rid of mental locks, breaking rules, being impractical, playing, searching for more than one answer, and accepting ambiguity as a positive.

Try this in the meanwhile until you can pick up a copy of the book. Two frogs fell into a vat of cream. There was no way to get any footing so they couldn't jump out. The first frog accepted that and drowned. The second frog decided not to give in. He managed to get out. How did he do it?

Clocks (sort of) - 19th Oct 2017

Clocks (sort of) This weekend I'm off to pick up a newly repaired clock. It's not the average run-of-the-mill clock. Just after the war (WW2 that is), my father and a friend each bought a 24-hour pilot's clock from the instrument panel of newly decommissioned RAF fighter planes. They each then constructed mountings for their clocks and proudly put their 'new' timepieces on their mantelpieces where they faithfully ticked for over 80 years. Recently, the one I inherited from my dad stopped working and we thought it might have come to its end. However, a man in Broad Bay has repaired it so it will return to pride of place this weekend.

Why am I telling you this story? Because today's book is called My Grandfathers' Clock written by Jack Bacon. It has nothing at all to do with the above story but the title reminded me of it. 

The grandfathers of the clock represent an unbroken family chain through whom about a thousand years of history from 1066 to the modern day is analysed (apparently). I haven't read it but do let me know what you think.

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