Year Zero, Day Zero

Actually, Year Zero is not a particularly nice expression.  I’m old enough, at 45 years and one day old, to remember the Khmer Rouge in Cambodia.

Nonetheless, why should the Devil have the best tunes?  Why should a bunch of murderous dictators have the best sound-bites?

My plan for Year Zero: essentially start afresh.  We are where we are.

I like travelling by train.  For one thing I like to sit and listen to my favourite earworms and plot out my things to do list in my head.

So, the plan for the next 24 hours is:

  1. Start on the next translation text for the ex-chaplain.  It’s the only way forward to get closure.  It also gives me some purposeful activity during the day and will help to stop the mental “tap on the shoulder” every time I think of this unfinished work.
  2. Contact the Hausmeister and get him to sort out my leaking toilet.  It’s a mundane, five minute job and will make me – and my Schatz – much happier.
  3. Restart on diet and fitness regime.
    1. Stand on the scales as soon as I emerge from my pit tomorrow morning.  Whatever the weight, we are where we are.  Success is about where you’re going to, not where you’re coming from.
    2. Head off to the shops and buy only healthy food.
    3. Stroll into the Altstadt for an hour or two’s brisk walking.  Like my Grandma used to say, “Get out into the bloody fresh air.  It’ll do you good.”
    4. Daily food diary to my ever-patient personal trainer.
  4. Plan out extra job hunting task.  I think this week may call for time to get suited and booted and call in to a couple of job  agencies on Königsallee.

OK, that’s enough plans for the next 24 hours.  Time to tidy up the living room coffee table, pour a big mug of tea and get the remaining three chaplain translations out and ready to start on in the morning.

In the meantime, enjoy this wonderful piece, sung by Joan Baez.

We Shall Overcome

Have a purposeful day, won’t you!


Hypnosis: Session 5

So, enough of depression, lest you all end up needing Prozac.

Session five of Paul McKenna’s hypnosis track, Change Your Life in Seven Days, my first session since four days ago.

Has the hypnosis worked so far?

Honest answer: the jury’s still out.  Certainly, it hasn’t done me any harm, but it hasn’t suddenly made me take up marathon running, hug trees, catch up on all my jobs lists, etc, etc.  On the other hand, I have started, slowly but surely, to get me a bit of PMA (positive mental attitude).  I’ll keep on giving myself more sessions, ideally in the morning to start me off, or perhaps more practically when I go to bed, something I used to do when I first tried hypnosis for weight loss, dropping from 120kg to 108kg in twelve weeks, all with no cravings or huge effort at all.

Back-Seat Drivers

So, for those of you who are not native speakers of English, a back-seat driver is defined in Urban Dictionary thus:

1. A passenger in the back seat of the car who criticizes the driver.2. Anyone who offers unwanted advice.

Eg: “Stop being such a backseat driver. You will only make things worse.”


So, what’s the context?  What is the “domain of discourse,” to use an expression from a database design module I attended some years ago.  Answer – nothing to do with:

  • Tractors
  • Ukrainian
  • History

So, the back-seat driver.  Who is this person, and what have they done to cause me to nip into the nearest internet cafe and switch on rant mode?  Let’s go back a step to create a context.

Since 2012 I have been helping to project-manage our church Advent market.  It’s arduous at times, but everyone pulls together and it is personally rewarding and financially rewarding to know I have helped earn the church  €3000 to enable God’s work to be done on Earth, and also to pay the gas bill, the electricity bill, water rates, etc (because we don’t get any money from church tax).  In 2012 and again in 2013 I got hectoring emails from one of the stallholders, whom I shall henceforth give a cover name (“Deckname“) of “BSD.”

BSD does a very good job of running one of the stalls that earns the church a goodly sum of money.  She comes in the day before, prices things up, displays items beautifully and hardly takes a break at the stall.  Yes, how lovely.  Every church needs a person like BSD.  A prime candidate for a Banner der Arbeit.

Now for the “But” that you’ve been waiting for.  Every single year, BSD has written me and the other “project manager,” abrupt,  downright rude emails, hectoring us about

  • Price labels
  • Which goods we need to order
  • Why do we randomly make up the prices?  (Actually, we don’t – I spend hours checking prices on Tesco’s website)
  • We must tell the donors of such goods to give us their receipts
  • What a pity that we did not consult BSD about x, y and z
  • etc, etc, etc, ad nauseum

BSD’s latest mail got to me (in both sense) just before I was heading for bed and Radio 4 last night.

Bear in mind, this is from someone who sets foot in church only twice a year, namely:

  1. To work on her stall at the Christmas market
  2. To sing in the carol service choir, where she constantly tries to run the show, asking the Director of Music, “Why are we singing this carol, and not that carol?  I think we should change the carols.”  (Yes, you can do that, BSD, when you become Director of Music.  Oh, and when you attend church during the rest of the year, then your suggestions may carry more weight theologically.)

This year I told my fellow project manager that I will refuse to communicate with BSD by email, and my fellow PM, bless her, has agreed that she will handle all communications with BSD.  Now, I am not a stereotypical fiery redhead.  Seeing my former room-mate from university days get jailed for murder made me think about anger management.  Nonetheless, BSD could wind up a broken clock, sad to say.

So, what  to do?  So far, I have resisted playing email ping-pong.  Never argue with an idiot.  They will always beat you on experience and energy.  I have contacted my co-PM, expressing exasperation and disquiet at BSD’s terrible attitude.  I will also inform a church warden of the problems that BSD has created for me since 2012.  He can then decide what next steps, if any, to take.  His people skills (“Sozialkompetenz“) in such circumstances are far superior to mine, and I leave it to him.

What a shame that someone who is not a huge net contributor can have such a negative effect on others.

Suffice it to say, BSD’s actions have dented the effectiveness of yesterday afternoon’s motivation hypnosis session, and gave me a stonking headache and poor-quality sleep last night.  Thankfully, a stroll round the Altstadt and cup of coffee and chat with a German Pfarrer and Vikarin about our annual Christmas carol service have done me the world of good.

So, folks.  Now is your chance to be agony aunt/uncle.  What should I do?

Have a positive day, won’t you!

Change Your Life in Seven Days: Approach the End of Day One

So, yesterday at 1600 I headed to my bed, not for a lazy lie-down but full of purpose.  Time to give myself a session of hypnosis, namely Paul McKenna’s track, Change Your Life in Seven Days.

Observations so far:

  • The track last 28 minutes
  • Yesterday I was out for the count from about 2 minutes into the track till 5 minutes before the end
  • I felt totally relaxed afterwards and could have done with another hour to lie down in bed and enjoy the “having a soak in the bath” feeling
  • I felt much less anxious about the future and jobs to do
  • I felt much more motivated about all the tasks to do
  • I have had another session this afternoon, my aim being to give myself a session of hypnosis every day for seven days

So, has the hypnosis made a difference?  Good question.  What about copper bracelets for rheumatism?  Clearly any changes could just be psychosomatic, or just coincidence.  But let’s see my achievements of today.

Today’s highlights:

  • Woke up this morning, looking forward to the day and the tasks ahead
  • Looked at my jobs list, thinking of the pleasure, reward and fulfilment of achieving each goal
  • Applied for a particularly suitable job, this time accepting SR’s tip from yesterday of adding a succinct covering email (five bullet points)
  • Two minutes after emailing my CV, a phone call from the agency, telling me my CV was a perfect match, and that the client needed someone “urgently – yesterday”
  • Emailed my old programme manager my CV, as I’d had a whisper yesterday that they would need to re-write the project requirements imminently.  Always handy to be on point in case they need me…
  • Chased another agency about a very interesting role I applied for last Wednesday
  • Cleaned and tidied the kitchen and cooked a nice brunch – no ‘mañana’ syndrome in the kitchen today
  • Did a pile of laundry – stashed a load in the appropriated drawers, another batch in the washing machine; the pairing of socks remains TBD (to be done) this evening
  • Headed to the English Library in the Altstadt
    • Donated my copy of The Bible for Dummies
    • Finished off the final two chapters of The History of the Tractor in Ukrainian (just a thought – does the father perhaps have Asperger syndrome?)
    • Donated my copy thereof to the English Library
  • Pondered where to write my diary
    • English Library?  Nah, needed a change of scene
    • Central Library?  A strong contender, as I’ve not been there for a couple of months, but then that would give me a sub-optimal public transport routing back home
    • Starbucks Königsallee – perfect venue!
  • Wrote today’s diary entry, my first positive, non-navel-gazing entry for weeks.  Starbucks has an excellent big table, ideally suited for sitting and writing, similar to carrells in a university.  Such a shame that the lady typing away on her laptop at that table seemed to think it was her own personal table.  Off you go, Genossin, tut away, and find a different spot.
  • Next session will be tomorrow morning.  Time management, an’ all that, I’m off to house group in the evening.
  • Next achievement planned is typing up and distributing yesterday evening’s church council minutes.  Then I can plan tomorrow’s jobs/tasks/achievements.

Have an hypnotic day, won’t you!