Modern Working Life

Hostelworld

Hard at work in Hostelworld

Jobs I did

Lounge boy in McGowans Broadstone Inn

when it was a cabaret.

Lounge boy in Finglas Castle,

not Finglas and never a castle.

Steward on the B&I Line ferries

to Pembroke and Liverpool Docks.

Storeboy in Dunnes Stores

on Georges St. with a blue shop coat.

Attendant in James Connolly Memorial Hospital

cycling to Blanch through Finglas and Dunsink.

 

Clerical Officer in the Dept. of Posts & Telegraphs

a civil servant for 4 months,

then becoming an uncivil servant, Executive, Administrator,

in Telecom Eireann, which became Eircom, and then Eir.

If anyone else buys it I expect it will become E.

 

Senior Scientific Officer in Enterprise Ireland

or Forfás, or Forbairt, or whatever it was called.

Bórd Gais market development manager,

market research manager, heat sales manager.

Leo Burnett Strategic Planner,

I don’t advertise that one.

I donned a robe and a mortar board,

and cultivated the minds of tomorrow,

and more than a few of yesteryear.

 

And then the real work started,

the self employed work,

the contract work,

never a dull moment, never a routine.

Finance today, beer tomorrow,  pass the fags,

sporting clothes, babywear, cooking pots,

pan handling, networking, adding value,

finding syngeries and changing games.

 

I changed the sheets in Hostelworld,

not bedsheets, spreadsheets.

I worked in Waterford for the Canadians,

life in the sun, with Sun Life, was testing,

data testing.

 

Sometimes Project Manager or Senior Business Analyst,

a DQA for the USA an MBA Association Panellist.

You see him here you see him there,

the contract guy is everywhere,

three workplaces in one year,

three job titles in one chair,

dedicated follower of management fashion,

no wonder I have grey hair.

 

Tiles

Real work!

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Marriage is Creation

Louise Hourihan Hi-Res (14 of 104)

Lifestyle for sale!

We grow up hearing the Hollywood Fairy Tale which brings a relationship to the point were the hero and heroine unite at last, true love triumphs, barriers to happiness are removed, a marriage ensues and …… they all live happily ever after.

But that is not reality.  In real life the wedding ceremony is only a beginning.  People who see their “perfect day” as some kind of ending to be enshrined and treasured forever are fated to be disappointed.

Love is a temporary madness, it erupts like volcanoes and then subsides. And when it subsides, you have to make a decision. You have to work out whether your roots have so entwined together that it is inconceivable that you should ever part. Because this is what love is. Love is not breathlessness, it is not excitement, it is not the promulgation of promises of eternal passion, it is not the desire to mate every second minute of the day, it is not lying awake at night imagining that he is kissing every cranny of your body. No, don’t blush, I am telling you some truths. That is just being “in love”, which any fool can do. Love itself is what is left over when being in love has burned away, and this is both an art and a fortunate accident.”                  from Captain Corelli’s Mandolin by Louis de Berniéres

This entwining of roots is an interesting metaphor.  From the day of the wedding we begin a long journey of co-creation.  We create the partnership and to a great extent we create the person that our partner becomes, and they have a heavy hand in creating the person we become.

Every day in every act and interaction we give each other tiny permissions, approvals, disapprovals, censures etc.  We validate certain behaviour patterns with our permissions and we invalidate others with our refusals.  As the years go by we settle into these patterns like the couple on the beach in Beckett’s play “Happy Days” who settle deeper and deeper into the sand of their routine.

So think about this;  If you get 40 years into a marriage and you find you can’t stand your partner just think about the fact that this is a person you created.  You are rejecting the very thing you have had a strong influence in building.  What does this say about your feelings for the person you are?

If on the other hand you are lucky enough to have a marriage that deepens in love and mutual respect then well done and give yourself a pat on the back.

The house above is our current home and we have it up for sale.  It is a home where my wife has deep roots, her Grandmother was born here.  The DNA of her extended family is woven into the very fabric of the building.  While I have had a role in creating the person Louise is today there is no doubting that this house, this land, these fields and streams had a role in creating her too.  Never have I felt more like Thomas Kinsella than in this house.

P.S. If you want to buy my lifestyle it’s for sale here:  Ballykelly

 

Another September: by Thomas Kinsella

Dreams fled away, this country bedroom, raw
with the touch of the dawn, wrapped in a minor peace,
hears through an open window the garden draw
long pitch black breaths, lay bare its apple trees,
ripe pear trees, brambles, windfall-sweetened soil,
exhale rough sweetness against the starry slates.
Nearer the river sleeps St. John’s, all toil
locked fast inside a dream with iron gates.

Domestic Autumn, like an animal
long used to handling by those countrymen,
rubs her kind hide against the bedroom wall
sensing a fragrant child come back again
– not this half-tolerated consciousness
that plants its grammar in her yielding weather
but that unspeaking daughter, growing less
familiar where we fell asleep together.

Wakeful moth wings blunder near a chair,
toss their light shell at the glass, and go
to inhabit the living starlight. Stranded hair
stirs on still linen. It is as though
the black breathing that billows her sleep, her name,
drugged under judgement, waned and – bearing daggers
and balances – down the lampless darkness they came,
moving like women : Justice, Truth, such figures.

Letter frequency

Enigma

Code Breakers understand that letter frequency is core to breaking down a code.  I really simple terms, using a code written in English, a single digit word may be a number, but could be the letter A.  The most frequently used digit in a long block of text is most likely to be the letter E.

In the 1930’s an unemployed architect called Alfred Butts (b. April 13th, 1899) did a letter frequency count using the New York Times front page as his template.  Using those frequencies he applied difficulty scores to a word game he invented called Lexico.

After some tweaks the game was purchased by James Brunot, and built by him under the name Scrabble.  Brunot launched the game in 1948 and in the first year sold 2,400 “sets”.  In the process he lost $450.

150 million sets + have now been sold worldwide.  It has spawned multiple online versions as it is a board game that converts perfectly for social media.

The original inventor of the game is immortalised by children.  Put a game of scrabble in front of a group of 7 year olds and it won’t take them long to spell out the surname of the inventor.

 

Scrabble

 

Sail along silvery moon

Billy-Vaughn-25.jpg

 

100 years ago on this day Billy Vaughan was born.  One of the biggest selling band leaders of the 1950’s with hits such as La Paloma, Blue Hawaii and this piece of schmaltz.

Sail along Silvery Moon

Vaughan developed a very distinctive and recognisable front sound by pairing saxophones for the lead melody.

He was able to follow his hit successes in the 50’s with world tours in the ’60’s and ’70’s.  The music has not stood the test of time and sounds kitch, hokey and very basic today.  He holds the very dubious honour of being the “Most successful orchestra leader of the rock era”.  A man out of step and out of time.  King of the squares.

Fishtrap 2

AA

I was fishtrapped by the AA this week.  This is the Automobile Association, not the one with the alcohol… or should I say without the alcohol!

So how does the fishtrap work.

Welcome to the AA.  Here, have some cheap motor insurance.  And take out our breakdown membership too.

1 year later:  Here is your vastly inflated insurance quote.

Me:  No thanks.  I’ll go elsewhere. And cancel the breakdown cover too please.

AA:  Here is your membership renewal.

Me:  No thanks.

AA:  And here are your membership documents.

Me:  I said no thanks.

AA:  Welcome back to another years membership.

Me:  Cancel.  Cancel.  I want to cancel my membership.

AA Aaron here:  Sorry, we can’t take a cancellation at this email.  You need to call us.

Me:  No I don’t.  My bank says I just need to cancel the direct debit.  Cancel the direct debit.

AA:  Sorry we can’t accept your instruction by email.

Me:  Cancel the goddam direct debit.

AA:  Success!  You have paid your membership for the year.

Me:  Dear Financial Ombudsman….. here is what happened.

AA:  Here’s your money back.

Marketing Lesson:  And this is not me.  This comes from Seth Godin.  Digital Marketing Guru.

When you have a relationship that is very trusted people will give you “intravenous permission” to take their money.  The above is not it.  If you abuse your access to a customers bank account you will alienate them.  The above dialogue is accurate and is what happened me.  Some gobshite in AA marketing thought this was a good plan.  It is not a good plan.  It is a great way to lose friends an alienate people.  It is a great way to get onto the Ombudsmans “most wanted” list.

This is NOT marketing.  This is customer rape.  This is theft.  This is corporate crime.  This is what gives marketing a bad name.  Please stop.

Happy Birthday Wordsworth

williamwordsworth1

Wordsworth facepalm predates Picard

For any who hold to the power of nominative determinism William Wordsworth is a fine example.  Who can give more weight to words than a poet?  Born with the name Wordsworth it is a natural segue into poetry.

What Wordsworth is best known for is his love and appreciation of nature and especially of his native Cumbria.  Much of the popularity of the Lake District as a tourist destination can be attributed to the poet.

In these dark #Brexit days as the UK retrenches into insularity it is interesting to note that Wordsworth’s first publication was in “The European Magazine”.  He went on a walking tour of Europe.   He was an admirer of revolutionary France until the Reign of Terror separated him from his lover and his child.   Clearly a man who would vote to Remain.  Wordsworth suffered the negative impact of a hard border.

But if William Wordsworth remains relevant today it may be as a canary in the coalmine for the impact of mankind on nature.  Long before the landscape of England was ravaged by industrialisation Wordsworth was a Cassandra predicting how mankind would harm our world.  The advent of the anthropocene has made him even more relevant.

The world is too much with us; late and soon,
getting and spending, we lay waste our powers:
Little we see in Nature that is ours;
We have given our hearts away, a sordid boon!
This Sea that bares her bosom to the moon;
The winds that will be howling at all hours,
and are up-gathered now like sleeping flowers;
for this, for everything, we are out of tune,
it moves us not.– Great God! I’d rather be
a Pagan suckled in a creed outworn;
so might I, standing on this pleasant lea,
have glimpses that would make me less forlorn;
have sight of Proteus rising from the sea;
or hear old Triton blow his wreathed horn.

 

Most Powerful Persian

Prince

A Mughal Prince in a Pavillion Surrounded by Ladies

Cyrus the Great, Cambyses, Bardiya, Darius the Great and Xerxes were the first five Achemenid Emperors of Persia.

Who could be greater than the King of Kings the ruler of the four corners of the earth?

Atossa.  Cyrus the Great and his wife Cassandane gave birth to four children; Cambyses, Bardiya (Smerdis), Atossa and Roxana.

Atossa was the eldest daughter of Cyrus.  Sister to emperor Cambyses and to the short reigning emperor Smerdis.  There is a very believable theory that Darius, a senior official of Cambyses, rose to power by assasinating both Cambyses and his brother Smerdis.  The official account is that Cambyses murdered Bardiya and hid the crime.  Then Cambyses cut himself with a sword and died of gangrene.  An imposter pretended to be Bardiya, and because only a handful of people knew about the murder, he might have gotten away with it.

So Darius and a crack squad of hit men stormed the palace and slayed the imposter Smerdis.

This story helps Darius portray himself as a good guy, and someone worth inheriting the mantle of King of Kings.

But he had no validity and no connection to the royal line.  So in a well trodden political move he justified his rule by wedding Atossa, the blood of the royal line.  She gave him a son, Xerxes, not his first son, but a son of the blood.  Xerxes was a grandson of Cyrus, nephew of Cambyses, and further cemented the rule of Darius the Great.

Atossa, daughter of an Emperor, sister of two Emperors, wife of an Emperor, mother of an Emperor.  How powerful is that lady?  And yet we know very little about this amazing woman.  It is said that Atossa had “a great authority” in the royal court.

In the west there has always been a great fascination with the goings on in the royal Harem.  This is dominated by male fantasies of exotic eastern ladies, profligate sexuality, nudity, decadence and a focus on the pleasures of the flesh.  In the West our knowledge of the Harem comes from The Arabian Nights stories and from  suggestive glimpses of the closeted lives of the seraglio which may be no more than the wild tales of sailors and travellers.

The truth of the harem was  far more down to earth.  If you read carefully you will learn that the ladies of the harem were not immune from economic necessities.  We have records of them engaging in trade and investments, using palace Eunuchs as intermediaries.  They represented a powerful 5th column in the politics of the empire.  In a world where access is power the ladies of the Harem had some of the best access possible.

Think of the Harem in ancient times like a modern professional political lobby organisation in Washington.  You pay them to buy access to votes.  In ancient Persia there was undoubtedly a long line at the desk of the head Eunuch of the Harem.  His effectiveness and his wealth were determined by his relationships with the right ladies of the court.

In this world it is clear that the almost unknown Atossa was the most powerful person in the history of the Achemenid Empire.  Daughter of Kings, Sister of Kings, Maker of Kings, Mother of Kings.

The Offended Moon (La Lune offensée); by Charles Baudelaire (Trans William Aggeler, 1954)

O Moon whom our ancestors discreetly adored,
radiant seraglio! from the blue countries’ height
to which the stars follow you in dashing attire,
my ancient Cynthia, lamp of our haunts,

do you see the lovers on their prosperous pallets,
showing as they sleep, the cool enamel of their mouths?
The poet beating his forehead over his work?
Or the vipers coupling under the withered grass?

Under your yellow domino, with quiet step,
do you go as in days of old from morn till night
to kiss the faded charms of Endymion?

— “I see your mother, child of this impoverished age,
Bending toward her mirror a heavy weight of years,
Skillfully disguising the breast that nourished you!”