I Am A Cheese

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I don’t really have much to blog this week, so I have decided to pull a ridiculous parody of Dr Spencer Johnsons ‘Who Moved My Cheese?’ from my personal archives.

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A Motivational and Inspirational Guide to Modern Business Ethics

 

Where Angels Fear to Treadmill

 

Imagine, for one second, that you are a tiny insignificant rodent in the feline world of the global economy.

The reality of the matter is, that’s exactly what you are. But, don’t be disheartened. With a pinch of positive thinking, a tablespoon of motivation and a soupcon of forward planning, you too could be licking your creamy paws while your colleagues are running the treadmill of obscurity on your behalf.

But, don’t be disheartened. With a pinch of positive thinking, a tablespoon of motivation and a soupcon of forward planning, you too could be licking your creamy paws while your colleagues are running the treadmill of obscurity on your behalf.

“How is this possible?” you ask.

So first, let me ask you:

Do you feel like a fish in wolves clothing; a sheep out of water, a snake in a china shop, an aardvark swimming amongst sharks, or any other animal/mammal that is ill-fitting in a situation?

If this is the case, you have already been beaten like a self-effacing egg pummeled into sorry submission by an enraged pastry chef.

So you want to know how to win?

Sure. I’ll tell you. The recipe for success is relatively simple. Think of it as a recipe for making a fine cheese.

 

To Brie or not to Brie?

 

You begin with the milk.

The milk signifies you, as an individual. You start this journey as a pure unspoiled fluid, untouched by human hand, unprocessed – effectively a dairy blank slate.

You start this journey as a pure unspoiled fluid, untouched by human hand, unprocessed – effectively a dairy blank slate.

Do not try to sell yourself to your superiors as yet.

In your current liquid state, you would simply run through any cracker of opportunity or dampen the bread of possibility.

In short, you are not yet prepared for the trials and tribulations ahead. You are a square peg attempting to fit into a round hole; a peg that is being banged repeatedly on the head by an amorphous hammer of indeterminate shape.

So now you can begin the next stage – Pasteurisation of your personality.

This can be achieved by bringing yourself to a metaphorical boil. This is not to be confused with a literal boil, as the human body is not designed to be heated at length in a giant pot. That might be fine for crustaceans, but this is all about cheese, so we’ll leave the shellfish out of it.

During this boiling process, you will begin to exude concepts, emit ideas and perspire inspiration. This will lead to damply developed plans; piquant proposals that you wish to implement once you reach the next stage: Fermentation.

 

The Grated Business Minds of our Time

 

By this point, you should have a clearer indication of the type of employee you are, and a working knowledge of your strengths and weaknesses.

Traditionally, within the cheese making cycle, you separate the curds from the whey. Just as in farming they separate the wheat from the chaff, and in business they separate free will from people.

So discard your weaker concepts of self, such as retaining individuality or identity, and embrace the remaining stronger amour propre. You are beginning to find your whey!

Beware.

You are still not in a position to march willy-nilly into the boardroom, waving your partially coagulated notions to the wind, and flaunting your semi-solid form.

You are too diffuse!

Although you can be spread, you are not yet a firm contender, and will not compliment the vintage claret of your immediate upper echelon.

 

Tasty – not hasty!

 

The final stage is fermentation.

You have reduced your previous regrettable form into half of its original mass, but at the same time you still need to mature.

You will be required to sit in a dark place for quite some time, and may even have to resort to covering yourself head to toe in wax. This will allow you to harden and for the formulation of your original thoughts to crystallize.

The perfect way to achieve this in the office environment is to offer to do some long overdue filing. Before you know it you will find yourself banished to a broom closet, furnished with a grubby filing cabinet, for an outrageously long period of time.

Your colleagues will thank you, but eye you suspiciously, as they know you are capable of so much more.

Little do they know that a chemical reaction is taking place within you. Your objectives are ripening; it is that ripening that will catapult you to the top and make you a cheese supreme!

 

3 Cheese – Chips, Dip, Hooray!

 

Once you have matured and hardened you are ready to present your essence for collective degustation.

Presentation, in this case, is everything. So be acutely aware of how you plate yourself up to the board.

I would suggest a modest rustic platter, with perhaps a sprig of parsley or thyme, a generous slice of your very being and a cheeky glass of mildly fruity Italian red to wash you down.

I guarantee that you will not fail to impress, your intended audience will find your innovative ways and fresh approach easy to digest, and will devour you with gusto.

Congratulations!

You have now entered the digestive tract of corporate life and are slowly moving towards the bowels of the business world.

 

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The Versatile Blogger Award!

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I greatly appreciate Mliae from lifeexperimentblog for nominating me for the versatile blogger award!

I have not been on the blogging scene for very long, but am grateful for the support, and to know that someone out there may actually be reading some of this.

I am new to the whole being recognised thing, and will do my best to avoid thanking a variety of low-level deities and high-level family members that may, or may not, have contributed to my current unenviable level of obscurity. I’d definitely like to thank the academy, I’m not sure which academy, but I’ll thank them anyway.

*Sniff sniff*. Tissue, please.

But seriously, I like the idea of passing a simple token of recognition on and using it as an icebreaker of sorts. Appreciation is greatly overlooked at times, as is civility. So, whoever made my list, you deserve it.

This is about as inspirational, aspirational or motivational as I get today, now please move along.

But before you do, here’s your mission if you choose in your infinite grace to accept it:

The rules are simple:

  1. Thank the person that nominated you and include a link to their blog.
  2. Nominate at least 15 bloggers of your choice. When considering a fellow blogger for the Versatile Blogger Award, keep in mind the quality of their writing, the uniqueness of their subject matter and the level of love displayed on the virtual page.
  3. Link your nominees and let them know about their nomination.
  4. Share seven facts about yourself.

7 Facts about me:

  1. I am getting married on an island this year.
  2. My favourite author is Kurt Vonnegut
  3. I recently took my very first flying lesson.
  4. I am currently reading and enjoying ‘Ready Player One’ by Ernest Cline
  5. I am utterly terrified of the potential consequences that would befall humanity if marzipan and celery decided to have offspring.
  6. I don’t always write from the heart, sometimes I write from my feet.
  7. I have shaken the hand of Sean Connery, but didn’t stir it.

My versatile nominees!:

  1. Saudade Vampire
  2. The Caffeinated Writer
  3. Some Kind of Blog
  4. World of Horror
  5. scribblesofstageandscreen
  6. LordOfTheReeves
  7. yourdaughtersbookshelf
  8. The Drabble
  9. Unbolt
  10. globalbookmania
  11. The Brown Road Chronicles
  12. Lovecraftian Science
  13. Flash! Friday
  14. Brilliant Flash Fiction
  15. amusing2write’s Blog

I wish all of my nominees a happy Friday, and a productive weekend ahead.

Thanks for taking the time to take the time.

Alex.

Foods for Thoughts

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Towards the end of last year, in some minor lapse of sanity, I joined the burgeoning ranks of the sugar-free hordes.

Essentially, I sacrificed sugar in favour of spice and all things nice to appease the God of new age fad diets. This was mostly as the result of watching the documentary style ‘That Sugar Film‘ which led me to the inevitable conclusion that I should really stop watching documentaries.

I’m sure that during the course of this year I will somehow be convinced or coerced into the squirrel diet; a diet that will primarily consist of eating nuts that I’ve buried or hidden up a tree.  Or the NASA approved astronaut diet, where I only eat foods that weightlessly float around our kitchen waiting to be caught.

The point that I’m making, with no degree of subtlety, is that there is no lite (and easy) at the end of the dieting fad tunnel. Whether it’s the puritanical raw diet, or the archaeological Paleolithic (caveman) diet, I think it’ll all come to a natural dietary devolution that consists of starvation in a dark, dank cave while weeping in the general direction of a delicious looking chocolate cake.

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Personally, I embarked on the sugar-free path to better my eating habits, not as a weight loss regime. I decided to be kinder to my body by making my brain miserable, and the way that I believed that to be possible was by avoiding processed foods, well, as much as was bearable. Of course, trying to avoid processed foods is like trying to avoid breathing air.

I won’t say that it’s not difficult at times, of course it is. Occasionally the simple act of choosing from a menu in a restaurant is akin to a self-administered psychological evaluation; an evaluation that you will fail if your eyes accidentally stray to the dessert menu. And lord forbid that you actually order from it. The guilt, shame and remorse will make you rise from the table, apologise to everyone in the restaurant and voluntarily admit yourself to the closest mental institution before the waiter arrives with your sticky date pudding.

My other drawback with attempting to stay healthy is my Scottish heritage. I am a typical Scot from the very bottom of my greasy heart to the tip of my hedonistic appetite and poor eating habits.

Regrettably, I come from a culinary background that advocates the deep frying of absolutely everything.

I’m sure that most Scots wouldn’t jump on the fad diet bandwagon, but would prefer to deep fry it instead, including the horse that pulls it. Case in point: I used to eat deep fried pizza from our local fish and chip shop. I kid you not. Only the inventive Scots could take a semi-unhealthy foodstuff and, in a Machiavellian masterstroke, double its potential to completely destroy your internal organs. I presume that there were too many vitamins and minerals still present in the pizza, and any potential health benefits could only be rendered utterly ineffective by immersion in hot oil.

Even reminiscing about it now my arteries start to spasm in disgust, collapsing in upon themselves in violent protest or a defiant final act of self-defence.

I was amused recently to see that Black Pudding has been added to the illustrious and morally superior list of Superfoods. I can only assume that this terminology originated from a follower of Nietzsche as a sub-philosophical way of dividing the excessively delicious wheat from the inferior unpalatable chaff.

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Another thing that I want to touch on is the price of some of these Superfoods and specialised diets.

I do love Paleo foods, but I’ve no idea how the cavemen could have afforded it. Not on Fred Flintstones salary anyway, maybe if you were his boss, Mr Slate. Poor Fred would have been restricted to his cheap McCain Bronto burgers and other pre-packaged and processed delights. My other Paleo question is how did the European stone age society get their hands on so much coconut milk?

I love the fact that there is so much choice, but all of these strange grains, berries and vegetables have started to appear on our supermarket shelves. Quinoa, chia, acai and goji berries, to name a few. Prior to approximately 2 years ago, I had no idea what any of these foods were.

To have a good diet and eat well is becoming a more expensive pursuit, and recipes are becoming more elaborate and outlandish. Increasingly dishes are being made from exotic ingredients, found solely behind a mysterious wall of mist in your local supermarket, the one that fills you with an uneasy sense of foreboding and terrifies you to your very socks. The whole paradox is that processed food is by far the cheaper alternative, and can be found in freezers or on shelves that exist in this dimensional plane. They are without a doubt the more accessible, acceptable and less spooky option.

You know that you are the victim of food snobbery or kitchen elitism when your free-range French vanilla chicken storms off of your plate in abject horror, as it won’t be associated with simple carrots or humble cabbage, and will only return if it’s accompanied by a superfood such as kale, quinoa and perhaps some mashed raspberries on the side.

It all goes to show, we are what we eat: A handful of chemical compounds held together by an indomitable will to exist.

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Drabbles and babbles.

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As the shabby chic door of the past slams shut on 2015, yes I know, that was so last week – the newly painted doors of fresh opportunity open on 2016.

I have used the image of a typewriter to illustrate that I have been engaged in the noble pursuit of writing.

A more accurate account of the writing process would be a bedraggled partially pyjama’d miscreant slumped over a laptop weeping and pouring coffee into their ear. But unfortunately, I couldn’t find any pictures to represent that.

I have quite clearly not been very active on the blogging front, mostly due to the festive season and the inevitable distractions (damn that insidious duck), I have however turned my semi-idle hands to flash fiction: in particular, the 100-word long drabble.

Yes, I was equally shocked and surprised to learn that drabble is the correct term, it sounds like the collective noun for unruly drunk Scotsmen.

I am not sure how many of you have given this a try, but from my perspective, there is a certain allure to working within the restrictive confines of a strict 100-word format. It certainly gets you to conform to the brutality of a succinct writing style and, as a consequence forces clarity in conveying your message. At least, that’s the fun of it.

So what have I found out during this?

As of now I have joined two sites dedicated to the 100 word short story.

1. 100 Word Story

The whole is a part and the part is a whole. The 100-word format forces the writer to question each word, to reckon with Flaubert’s mot juste in a way that even most flash fiction doesn’t. At the same time the brevity of the form allows the writer “to keep a story free from explanation,” as Walter Benjamin wrote.

This is the first site that I found whilst searching specifically for anywhere that would showcase 100-word fiction.

There is a very useful photo prompt section where, on a monthly basis, a random photo is displayed as inspiration for narrative. This is the section that I have been making the most of as, lord knows, we all need a little inspiration at times.

You can freely submit your piece in the comments section at the bottom of the page, and there appears to be no restriction on the amount of content that you can submit (you must adhere to the 100-word format, however).

I have also noted with interest that, in the short period of time I have been a member, there appears to be quite a number of submissions which implies that there is an active audience.

100 Word Story also post some interesting articles celebrating and promoting the flash fiction genre, such as this article from Lit Hub: A Crash Course in Flash Fiction.

As an extra incentive, every month the best story is chosen to be featured in the next issue.

If this is of any interest to you I would strongly urge you to submit something. Who knows, it may even get featured on the site.

2. Drablr

Drablr is a real-time self-publishing platform connecting readers and authors.

At the heart of Drablr are works of flash-fiction called Drabbles. Each Drabble is exactly 100 words long, but don’t let the small size fool you, authors are clever folk and can express great ideas in just a few words.

To be honest, I have only joined the Drablr family today, and as such can’t really give it the attention that it deserves.

From first impressions, Drablr appears to be very simple and intuitive to use. Much like 100 Words – it is free to join and submit your work.

My initial step was to create a profile under the ME section. I knew some stuff about ME, so this was relatively simple to populate.

Once you have created your profile you can submit your first Drabble.

Again, Drablr appears to have an active community, and as such your hard work will be seen – and rated. The rating comes via a voting system to keep track of just how (un)popular you are becoming.

It looks as though the Discover section is Drablr’s bread and butter. As with most sites of this nature, participation is the key. The more participants that you follow, vote for and comment upon, the more likely they will be to reciprocate.

I have not had much of a chance to test this theory, as previously mentioned, this is my first day as a contributor.

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In closing, I would love to hear from anyone who may have advice, or who has any information on similar sites.

I am also extremely keen to hear of your trials and tribulations if you have, as a direct result of reading this blog, taken some positive action to submit a cheeky 100-word vignette to either of the aforementioned sites.

And as for me? I may, in future, branch out with my flash fiction and write something with 101 words – I know it’s a massive stretch of the imagination, but I am sure that I am equal to the task.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

5 things beginning with the letter S that have very little to do with the new Star Wars movie, or any previous Star Wars movie.

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It is no secret that Star Wars : The Force Awakens is truly a force to be reckoned with in relation to box office records.

In it’s first day alone The Force Awakens has smashed, crunched and duly shattered the window of probability with the hammer of plausibility and broken the all time records for largest Friday, opening day and single day. Prior to the beast that is The Force Awakens being unleashed on the humble weekday, Fridays may as well have been rendered non existent or relegated to rainy Wednesday afternoons.

Rather than promote the obvious I want to point out 5 consecutively numbered things that are conspicuous by their absence in the Star Wars universe.

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1. Salt

Salt is amazing, and versatile substance. In it’s natural mineral form salt is crystalline; it’s chemical composition primarily being composed of sodium chloride. Salt can be used to preserve, cure and season food. It can also be used as a cleaning agent, to kill unwanted moths, as an effective yet tangy mouthwash and, if correctly applied, can even improve skin complexion.

However, with all of the amazing properties that salt possesses it does not feature too heavily in Star Wars : The Force Awakens.

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2. Shakespeare

Although the bard of Avon would almost certainly have loved the Star Wars franchise due to it’s dramatic plot development, political intrigue, nepotistic character relationships and eternal struggle between good and evil, it is highly unlikely that he would have understood the concept of moving pictures and would have denounced The Force Awakens as witchcraft most foul.

If Shakespeare had penned the Force Awakens chances are it would have been set in a miserably dank castle in Finland besieged by Scottish dwarves and inhabited by disgruntled ghosts. Alas, twas not to be.

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3. Stamps

There are quite a few times in the Star Wars universe when messages have to be relayed from one party to another. The main method of conveying this communication between correspondent and recipient appears to be crash landed droid, a droid who will only respond to one particular person. The Force Awakens suffers from this issue.

The invention of stamps and the inclusion of a post office on all major planets is a practical solution. The galactic sorting office would have to remain impartial with no allegiance to either the republic or the empire eliminating the possibility of mail tampering. I strongly believe that with the correct infrastructure in place that all inhabitants of the Star Wars universe would benefit immensely from an efficiently managed delivery system.

 

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4. Sandwiches

Sandwiches are an adaptable snack or meal which can be tailor made to suit your dietary preferences. There are a vast amount of fillings to choose from such as cheese and ham and a massive choice of breads to place these fillings between.

Sadly at no point during The Force Awakens does any character either stop to eat, or indeed make, a sandwich.

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5. Santa

Tis the season and Christmas day fast approaches with the inevitability of a tailspinning TIE fighter.

With the festive season bearing down on us like a tinsel festooned Sith lord you would think that Star Wars : The Force Awakens would have capitalised on the Christmas spirit.

Like it’s icy predecessor Hoth, Starkiller base is a veritable winter wonderland albeit with weapons off mass destruction rather than holly, eggnog and glittery baubles.  The overall sense of doom and despondency would have been lightened considerably if Father Christmas had made an appearance and distributed gifts to the First Order and rebels alike.

In hindsight most of the characters that inhabit  Starkiller base would definitely be on the naughty list.

You might think it far fetched that jolly St Nick would show face in The Force Awakens but Santa made a surprising cameo appearance in the Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe to alleviate the tension between the white witch and the woodland creatures of Narnia.

I am sorry for the spoiler, but there is absolutely no Christmas cheer in The Force Awakens. Santa Clause is definitely not coming to this town, city, region, principality, protectorate, peninsula, continent, planet, star system, galaxy or universe.

 

You can’t teach an old blog new tricks

Confessions of a freelancing amateur and blogging novice.

The decision to begin a blog has been both easy and difficult. Allow me to elaborate.

I can see how, after conducting research into the pros and cons of starting a blog, it is a wonderful way to get you into a disciplined frame of mind to write and consequently lend some structure to that writing.

By the end of this exercise I plan, with your assistance, to transform my writing into a vast shining futuristic monolith with mirrored windows and not the ramshackle partially thatched cottage awaiting demolition that it is at the moment.

Prior to researching I was attempting to write everything in alphabetti spaghetti which was unnecessarily messy, expensive and ultimately extremely difficult to deliver to the appropriate audience unless they were localised in my kitchen.

That is of course a mild fiction meant to entertain. I am aware that most successfully published authors, or popular bloggers for that matter, tend not to convey their message in pasta. At least not at the beginning of their careers.

The truth of the matter is that the written word is something that I love.

At the moment I am a struggling office worker struggling to become a struggling writer. If I play my cards right I may eventually make enough money to starve.

For now that sounds more like an insanely idealistic and somewhat impractically lengthy job description. With any luck it will improve over time to just being short and insane.

So why haven’t I done something productive before now?

I have, like many others, fallen foul of the polar opposite of being disciplined and have been deeply ensconced in the all too familiar routine of work, family, commuting and procrastination. It becomes far too easy to find excuses and then justify those excuses with vague reasoning before succumbing to distractions that only serve to compound your lack of motivation.

Oh look, a duck ! Where was I?

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A Duck

Cry havoc and let slip the blogs of war.

If you have made it this far and wish to read on, then congratulations, you probably deserve some sort of award. I will now stop digressing and get to the point, yes, there is a point.

My main aim is to chart and document my failures and successes, or indeed successes and failures in attempting to become a freelance writer of resounding ambiguity and enigmatic hairstyle.

I will use this blog as a living breathing resume of sorts; a method of showcasing my distinct lack of formal talent within this field, or for that matter, any field.

I would love for you all to share this journey of self discovery and random diatribe with me and to keep me focused on my goal.

Focus, after all, is a major achievement these days. Whether we are frantically checking emails hoping that a human being is on the other end and not trying to sell us something; or endlessly flicking through videos of kittens peeking over the top of wellington boots and clogging the drain of social media like cute and strangely compelling clumps of hair, we are all being sidetracked.

We are, on a daily basis, subject to completely losing concentration while getting immersed in click through advertising promising us chiselled ankles, delicious ways to both gain and lose weight in some sort of Sisyphean battle of culinary futility and any other in a plethora of brightly coloured and mildly attractive distractions, quizzes and listicles. It’s a wonder that any of us ever get out of bed.

Oh look ! There’s that duck again.

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A Duck – but again.

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So, I am making a pact with everyone that I will attempt to the best of my abilities to :

  • Write something, anything on a weekly basis at the very least.
  • Make my writing insightful, informative or failing any of these, vaguely entertaining.
  • Cease my procrastinating ways and be more productive.
  • Research running a blog, and promote any material that has assisted me to do so.
  • Value the advice, opinion, assistance and support of my peers.