A blank piece of paper

November 12, 2009

Last night we were discussing God’s plans for us and whether we have a free will or not. It was felt that our lives are like a blank piece of paper and it is up to us what we do with it. Some of us may produce fantastic works of art on that piece of paper, some may just make a mess whilst others simply screw it up and throw it away.

However, we did feel that God had a plan for us, and there was a purpose in our lives, however it was up to us what path we took. If we strayed from the God’s plan, then He would do all He could to get us back on it. He would provide us with signs pointing us in the right direction. But sometimes we just couldn’t see them because we either chose to ignore them or they’re weren’t where we were expecting to see them.

Let’s take an example of the man whose house is beginning to flood. First the army come along and offer to rescue him. He says “no thanks, God will save me”. But the water continues to rise and he goes to the top floor and prays for help. Then the navy arrive and again he turns them away saying “No thanks, God will save me from this flood”. The water rises even higher and so he climbs on the roof and prays again. Now the air force arrive in a helicopter. He waves them away saying”No I’ll be okay, God will save me”. But the water continues to rise and he drowns. When he gets to heaven he asks God why he hadn’t helped him. God replies “I sent the army, the navy and the air force! What more could I do!” The man had simply not been looking for God’s help in the right place.

All through life we are faced with difficult choices and we often ask God for help in making those choices. But do we always look for or listen for the answer? Sometimes the answer is staring us in the face, but we just cannot see it.

Is there a way to tell when God has given us an answer or shown us the route to take? Once when I had been agonising over something, I asked God to give me a sign as to what I should do. I’m pleased to say that I did in fact get a sign, and very quickly after I had asked for it. The trouble was it wasn’t very clear as to how I should interpret it. At first glance it seemed to say do one thing, but after careful consideration, it could easily have said do the exact opposite. From this I can only conclude that although He has a plan for us and shows us what He wants us to do with our piece of paper, the final choice really is left to us.

[There seems to be a theme developing on my blog at the moment about making decisions. This is not intentional. It is just happening. I think I’m being told something – but what?]

I DO NOT KNOW YOUR NAME

November 11, 2009

I do not know your name, but I know you died
I do not know from where you came, but I know you died

Your uniform, branch of service, it matters not to me
Whether Volunteer or Conscript, or how it came to be
That politicians failures, or some power-mad ambition
Brought you too soon to your death, in the name of any nation

You saw, you felt, you knew full well, as friend and foe were taken
By bloody death, that your life too, was forfeit and forsaken
Yet on you went and fought and died, in your close and private hell
For Mate or Pal or Regiment and memories never to tell

It was for each other, through shot and shell, the madness you endured
Side by side, through wound and pain, and comradeship assured
No family ties, or bloodline link, could match that bond of friend
Who shared the horror and kept on going, at last until the end

We cannot know, we were not there, it’s beyond our comprehension
To know the toll that battle brings, of resolute intention
To carry on, day by day, for all you loved and hoped for
To live in peace a happy life, away from bloody war

For far too many, no long life ahead, free of struggle and pain and the gun
And we must remember the price that was paid, by each and every one
Regardless of views, opinions aside, no matter how each of us sees it
They were there and I cannot forget, even though I did not live it

I do not know your name, but I know you died
I do not know from where you came, but I know you died.

Kenny Martin
© 2003

Deck chairs

November 10, 2009

So everything is back to normal at Royal Mail. Today we had our first staff meeting since the strikes began. And it was back to the normal rubbish that we get told every week.

Well almost. This time we were told that we’re actually getting two new members of staff – yippee!! We’ve only got three vacancies! But at least two of them are being filled, if you count replacing two 40hr full time staff with two 30hrs part time staff replacing them.

So the situation is this: we currently have three duties with no member of staff allocated due to the vacancies. We’re getting two members of staff, which in my reckoning means we still have one unfilled duty. So how come the manager said she’s going to create a new duty for one of the new people? Either that’s an extra duty on top of what we already have (which we really do need!) or she’s just going to re-arrange the current vacancies.

We’ve been told we’re not going to get any extra staff in the foreseeable future so the rules out the extra duty. So it’s re-arranging the current duties. Which means we’re still not going to get all the work down without resorting to overtime. Situation normal then.

The trouble with Royal Mail’s management technique is that it only looks at problems in isolation, never the whole picture. If a duty is too long then a bit will be taken of and given to another duty with thinking about if the other duty can be done. It’s a case of “we’ll deal with this problem first and worry about the consequences later”

It’s like being a deckhand on the Titanic, we keep moving the deckchairs around even though the ship is sinking.

Regrets, wrong decisions and hindsight

November 9, 2009

Three separate things have led me to today’s post: Firstly, a discussion a couple of weeks ago with friends about things in our past that we regretted. Not the little “Oh I wished hadn’t eaten that extra slice of cake” type regrets, but the big ones such as “I wished I’d never had that relationship”. Secondly, the post I did the other week about heading off down a wrong turn in life. And thirdly a Church service where the preacher spoke about looking back with hindsight at the decisions we had made in life.

Now I’ll start be telling the story which Rev Trevor Gerhardt told us at the beginning of his sermon. There was a man walking through the desert and he was beginning to suffer from dehydration and really need water. Eventually he found a tent with a Bedouin standing outside. He asked the man for some water. “Sorry,” came the reply, “I don’t have any water. But I can sell you a tie”. “I don’t need a tie, I need water!”. “Sorry I can’t help then, but there is another tent about three hours away in that direction” replied the tie-seller. So reluctantly the man continued on his way through the desert. Eventually he came to the second tent, and again there was a Bedouin standing outside. “Water, water, I need water” said the weary traveller. “Oh I have plenty of water, but you can’t come in” he was told. “Why?” “Because you’re not wearing a tie!”

So all through life we are presented with choices, but it is only with hindsight that we can see if we have taken the correct path or not. However, whichever path we take, it affects us for the rest of lives. It’s not possible to go back in time and alter our decision. Once made, the path is set, and even if we decide that we are going down the wrong route, it’s not possible to go back and start again. We just take a different route from where we are now.

So when my friends were saying that they regretted taking certain jobs, or having relationships which didn’t work out, I can honestly say that I don’t. I may not like the way some of my decisions have played out, but if I could alter them, I probably wouldn’t because I wouldn’t end up where I am now. If I had never met/married my ex-wife, I probably wouldn’t have the daughter I have. If I had taken that other job (the one I would have enjoyed more than filling shelves, paid better and had better prospects), I probably wouldn’t have some of the best friends I now have. And if I had not gone to Church on that particular Sunday (and just carried as any other Sunday), I wouldn’t have my other best friends. Yes I admit I have made some really bad/stupid decisions in my life but on the whole, I am happy with where I am now. I have a good set of friends and a daughter that I wouldn’t change for anything.

So I challenge you, next time you’re thinking that you’ve made a really bad choice, and are regretting it, just think about what’s good in you life and imagine if it wasn’t there. If you had taken a different route, you life would be entirely different, and not necessarily for the better.

They Shall Not Grow Old

November 8, 2009

They shall not grow old, as we that are left grow old:
Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn.
At the going down of the sun and in the morning
We will remember them.

Last year I posted the full poem, please go and read.

Profamateur

November 7, 2009

I’m in the middle of a show put on by an amateur theatre group. And it’s got me wondering whether the word amateur is the right one to use.

My dictionary list various meanings for the amateur, including:

1 a person who engages in an activity, esp a sport, as a past time rather than professionally or for gain

3 a person unskilled in or having only a superficial knowledge of a subject or activity

And for professional it says:

2. engaging in an activity for gain or as a means of livelihood

3 extremely competent in a job

Now I can see a conflict here. Just because someone does an activity as a past time doesn’t mean they are extremely competent at it. Likewise, just because someone is paid to do something doesn’t make them competent at it.

We’ve just done our opening night of this run and mistakes were made by almost (if not all) of the teams involved: cast, band, stage, sound and lights. But we all carried on as if nothing had happened. The audience probably didn’t notice the mistakes because they were corrected quickly without a fuss. In fact at one point the lights were faded out just before a song had finished but I managed to recover the situation in time and none of the cast that I spoke to even noticed!To me, that means being competent at what we are doing, ie professional. But as we’re not paid, by definition,  we can’t be professional!

So should there be a different word for groups of people who partake in an activity for fun but are still competent at at? Profamateur perhaps?

My Love Is Like A Red Red Rose

November 6, 2009

Today is poet’s day: Pop Of Early Tomorrow’s Saturday!

So here’s one of my favourite Robert Burns poems:

My love is like a red red rose

That’s newly sprung in June:

My love is like a melodie

That’s sweetly play’d in tune.

 

So fair art thou, my bonnie lass,

So deep in love am I:

And I will love thee still, my dear,

Till a’ the seas gang dry.

 

Till a’ the seas gang dry, my dear,

And the rocks melt wi’ the sun:

And I will love the still, my dear,

While the sands o’ life shall run

 

And fare thee weel, my only love.

And fare thee weel awhile!

And I will come again, my love,

Tho’ it were ten thousand mile

The strikes are off!!!

November 6, 2009

The good news of today is that the strikes which have hit Royal Mail over the past few weeks have been suspended! Yay!

The reasons behind the strikes are multifarious but in essence come down to the management trying to force through changes to the organisation which the Union and the staff in general disagree with.

The news sources kept reporting it that pay was involved. It wasn’t. Well no exactly, it’s only mention was that in future pay and benefits should in principle be linked to any efficiency savings made. So we wanted management to just consider us getting something out of all the changes, just consider it, but they’re weren’t willing to even do that.

We accept changes are needed. We accept that job numbers will be cut. What don’t accept is the way the changes were being brought in. After the previous strikes there was an agreement that all changes would be agreed at a local level. However at best all that has happened is “discussions” have  taken place, but the result of these discussions had been decided before they took place. And at worst, changes have been brought in by executive action: this is what is going to happen, like or lump it.

From the public’s point of view, Royal Mail is a public service. From the management’s, the government’s point of views it’s a business trying to make a profit. From the regulator’s point of view is an obstacle in the way of the competitors. These three views cannot be easily aligned. Something has to give, and it’s usually the public service element.

Today I worked 2.5hrs overtime just to clear all my workload. I could have said that I couldn’t do the overtime. But then the work wouldn’t have been delivered and it would still be there tomorrow. If we cannot do the work now,m how can we be expected to do it with less staff? And for the record, we are one of the offices that have access to the new all-singing-all-dancing sorting machines. Which don’t save us anywhere near as much time as we were told they would.

But at least for the moment, the strikes have been called to allow more detailed and meaningful talks to take place. It was interesting to hear on the news that Union would this time to negotiate with the management, whilst the management said they would push ahead with their plan of change. So they can’t even agree on what’s going to happen now. Doesn’t look to good does it? Let’s all cross our fingers and hope shall we?

 

[This post was delayed due to the fact that after getting home from work and eating, I fell asleep before having a chance to publish it!]

Everything Is Permitted

November 5, 2009

Ok so this may be a bit lame, but it’s late and I’m tired and I’ve got no inspiration for today’s post. So I’ve borrowed a meme that’s on a friends facebook page. Have fun reading it.

Ok, you gotta set your IPod to shuffle and write whatever song comes up underneath the heading…even if it sounds stupid!!

IF SOMEONE SAYS “IS THIS OKAY” YOU SAY
The British Grenadiers
WHAT WOULD BEST DESCRIBES YOUR PERSONALITY?
4th of July, Ashbury Park (Sandy)
WHAT DO YOU LIKE IN A GUY/GIRL?
Grand March Aida
WHAT IS YOUR LIFE’S PURPOSE?
Learning To Fly
WHAT IS YOUR MOTTO?
Going Down Town Tonight
WHAT DO YOUR FRIENDS THINK OF YOU?
The Girls? The Leather? The Machismo?
WHAT DO YOU THINK ABOUT VERY OFTEN?
Good Girls Go To Heaven (Bad Girls Go Everywhere)
WHAT IS 2+2?
Exit
WHAT DO YOU THINK OF YOUR BEST FRIEND?
All non-starters really
WHAT DO YOU THINK OF THE PERSON YOU LIKE?
Original Sin
WHAT IS YOUR LIFE STORY?
One Tree Hill
WHAT DO YOU WANT TO BE WHEN YOU GROW UP?
Wolf At Your Door
WHAT DO YOU THINK WHEN YOU SEE THE PERSON YOU LIKE?
Night Is Falling
WHAT DO YOUR PARENTS THINK OF YOU?
Crown Imperial
WHAT WILL YOU DANCE TO AT YOUR WEDDING?
It’s A Long Way To Tipperary
WHAT WILL THEY PLAY AT YOUR FUNERAL?
Amnesty Is Granted
WHAT IS YOUR HOBBY/INTEREST?
On The Run
WHAT IS YOUR BIGGEST SECRET?
You And Your Friend
WHAT DO YOU THINK OF YOUR FRIENDS?
Night is Falling
WHAT’S THE WORST THING THAT COULD HAPPEN?
Sunday Morning Coming Down
HOW WILL YOU DIE?
Ever Glorious
WHAT IS THE ONE THING YOU REGRET?
I’m Your Man
WHAT MAKES YOU LAUGH?
Freeway Flyer
WHAT MAKES YOU CRY?
Standard of St George
WILL YOU EVER GET MARRIED?
Please Forgive Me
WHAT SCARES YOU THE MOST?
45 Seconds of Ecstasy
DOES ANYONE LIKE YOU?
Calling Elvis
IF YOU COULD GO BACK IN TIME, WHAT WOULD YOU CHANGE?
The First Time I Ever Saw Your Face
WHAT HURTS RIGHT NOW?
The Rocks And The Water
WHAT WILL YOU POST THIS AS?
Everything Is Permitted

What does that say about my taste in music then? The strange thing is, some of this could be true!

Oh, and thanks Heather!

Books

November 4, 2009

About a year ago I wrote a post about reading books where I listed all the books which I had started but not finished. Well I just want to update you happy reader on how I’m doing.

I’ve actually finished two of them: “The Transit of Venus” and “The Colour of Money”. I’m ashamed to say that I haven’t even picked any of the others up since last year.

However I have read several books in the past few months:

      • Failure is not an Option by Gene Kranz.
      • 1984 by George Orwell
      • Predictably Irrational by Dan Ariely
      • Lima 3 by Harry Ferguson
      • A Beginner’s Guide to Stage Lighting by Peter Coleman

And I’m now making the effort to read and finish one book at a time. Eventually I’ll work my way through the list of part-read books, but not straight away.

My current book, which I have just started is The Castle by Franz Kafka. I think this is the third time I’ve started it, and this time I’m determined to finish it!

[I know this post is going to be dated for November 4 and not November 4, but as I’m still up, I reckon it counts!]