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Showing posts from 2013

On Sightseeing in Görlitz

A number of weeks ago I took a visit to Görlitz, the most easterly town in Germany. From where I live down south it was 7 and a half hours on the fast train, so in other words I probably could have made it to New York in the same amount of time. Even though the nature of my travel was business rather than pleasure, I did feel a tad smug at the fact that I am slowly beginning to lay claim to the fact that I have indeed seen a lot more of Germany than many of the Germans themselves.  I guess it's understandable that if you are going to spend a day travelling to get somewhere, that you might just choose a trip to Italy above that of one to a smallish town on the Polish border, but still... Germany is a fascinating country. Culturally speaking it is very much like two countries because of it's divided history, and what I love about the east is that mixture of progressive can do newness combined with the remnants of the past. And being an island woman, there was also the buzz of be…

How Important are Corporate Values?

Do We Really Need Corporate Values? Something caught my eye with regard to the Barclays scandal. It was the term: cultural corruption. I'm so used to skimming over details about complex derivative issues, that it made me curious to read more.
What was identified as cultural corruption was that Barclay's had pursued a 'revenue at all costs' strategy, fostered a culture of fear and intimidation, were actively hostile to compliance with banking rules, presided over a 'broken culture' where problems were ignored or buried, and ultimately allowed the business to 'spin out of control'.
That pursuing revenue at all costs has been highlighted as corrupt signifies the importance of corporate values. We all need to pursue revenue to some degree, but doing so 'at all costs' can ultimately end in disaster, as with Barclays.
When I explain to people that my work has a strong focus on delivering workshops on Vision, Mission & Values, I am often told how naive…

After Lent

I've just had a glass of wine. I didn't really want one but I had to, because Lent is over.
Giving up alcohol for lent is not easy. I don't mind abstaining from the drink, it's the explaining that's difficult. People can never understand why an atheist would do something for Lent. So I have to explain that as I eat a shit load of chocolate at Easter and masses of food at Christmas without being questioned about religion, that it is only prudent to adhere to the fasting traditions if one is also tagging along for the feasting ones.
Alcohol - if you are Irish you will probably have an unhealthy attitude towards alcohol. Most people drink too much or don't drink it at all, neither of which are healthy. The ones who drink too much are either raving alcoholics whose whole life has been destroyed because of drink, or alternatively, people who function at about 60% of what they could be, but because they 'enjoy a jar', and pay a massive price to do so.
Those w…

A Cure for Warts

A few years ago my daughter had a wart on her foot. But warts are like mice - they rarely come in ones. Soon it was a little cluster of warts so we paid a visit to our local GP who decided to use a selection of treatments.
First of all he scraped at her foot with a little instrument that looked like a shaving razor for dwarves. When doctors do things like that it makes me wonder what the big attraction is to studying medicine and becoming a medic. "What do you want to do when you grow up little child?" "I want to scrape dirty warts of peoples feet."
But it didn't end there. He also put some sort of ointment on it and gave her a few of those little homeopathic pebble-like sweets.
Then he gave us both some serious instructions. There were 7 warts on her foot. We were to get a paper bag and put 7 small pebbles in it - not the homeopathic ones, real pebbles. Then we were to leave the bag at a crossroads. Whenever the bag disappeared the warts would also go.

Of all …

A Revolution at my Kitchen Table

So this is it. I've just published my first ebook. It's an ebook for kindle and available on Amazon. I'm still fiddling around with how it all works, but I've gotten as far as putting the whole damn thing together and publishing it.
The cover is a photo of a deserted house. Now let's analyse - arsekick is diverse, it has many rooms, hence the house. The house is falling to pieces, so hence the relationship to my dishevelled life. The house started out in life with different aspirations. There is a story there. Stories. History.
And you could also say that the trees and shrubs growing up around the deserted house are lush and fertile and that nothing is ever linear.
In actual fact the only reason that the cover is such, is because it is a photo that I took myself and I was afraid of taking a photo from the web in case I get sued. I'd prefer a photo of a female warlord throwing a punch, or at least something sexy.

I also downloaded a book written by a guy who ha…

The Retreat

Winter is a long time when you come from an island that doesn't really do seasons. It was so cold that I even had to buy a coat and also discover that things like gloves, hats and scarves have an actual function. But it wasn't just the weather. I've been on a retreat.

I don't mean an organised retreat where you officially say you are going on a retreat, because that wouldn't really be a retreat, would it? It would be an action. A statement.
What I did was retreated. I didn't plan to. I just became reflective and reclusive and my favourite place was solitude. I did a lot of thinking, a lot of deciding and a bit of changing. I was surprised at that. I thought people didn't change very easily, or that it was huge work to change, but in this case it just happened. A bit like puberty happens to kids and as they hysterically scream at you to 'leave me alone' they also reassure you that this behaviour is nothing to do with their hormones whatsoever, no, it…

Newgrange

Around a year or so ago, I took a day off work in order to visit the Neolithic site at Newgrange.
But because Newgrange was there and wasn't going to go away I decided to go for a coffee instead. I'd like to emphasise here that I've never neglected the importance of having time to go for coffee. After all, the 'coffee morning' is a significant instrument of gossip, one of Ireland's most important forms of social control. But Newgrange, well I'd been there before, a number of years earlier and I just felt incredibly drawn by the place.
Newgrange is what they call a 'passage grave', and it being over 5,000 years old, one can only speculate that it might have had some sort of religious significance. Maybe that's one of the things that draws me to it - the fact that we can only wonder what the whole thing is about. How did people who only lived for about 30 years manage to gather stones from distant places and erect this massive building, aligning i…

The Thing About Ireland

There was a time, years ago, my first stint in Germany when I was things like 20 something, that I had this madly romantic notion of Ireland. And that was back in the day when there was no internet radio that you could have blasting the farming news in the kitchen, and no Irish Times online or nothing. Germany was Germany and Ireland was Ireland. There were Deutsche Marks and Irish Punts, and the Irish 5p, which was on a par to today's 5cent, worked as a Mark, similar to a Euro in phone boxes and cigarette machines. So you didn't need WhatsApp and you could get a really cheap deal on cancer.
Flights were luxury and you got a 'free' meal and 'free' drink in the air, or as my mother used to say (upon arriving sozzled to Germany) 'I paid £500 for that half bottle of wine.' It was just that the flight came for free.
So every year or so I'd come home and go to a trad session, eat a 'full Irish' breakfast and buy a new aran sweater. Everything bad…

Lucky for Some - 13!

So I guess the first Arsekick of the year should be just about that - another year.
13 just so happens to be my lucky number. My son and my brother were both born on the 13th, and 13 is also a baker's dozen, and that means that normally the 13th cake is mine...

Looking back though, 12 was a good and lucky year. It was madly turbulent with the big move from the wild west of Ireland to the nice calm city outskirts of Karlsruhe, in the sunny south of Germany.
But it was a good move and even if I miss Galway, and Dublin and people and landscape and culture and basic good manners from people in shops, I'm still better here. It just feels like that.

And probably the best piece of luck I had all year was losing my job. Of course it didn't seem like that at the time. At the time I believed that it was a great challenge living away from home Monday to Friday without any thanks. I decided  that this must be how some organisations operate and practised the buddhist art of acceptance.