June 06, 2007

Patron Saints

I have decided that I will take upon two Patron Saints. Saint Christopher, patron saint of travelers, and Saint Patrick patron saint of engineers.

According to legend Saint Christopher (lit. Christ bearer) was Offro, the son of a heathen king of Canaan, of the 3rd century. Once a man he resolved to only serve the strongest and the bravest and bounded himself to a mighty king and to Satan but left dissatisfied with their strength as the former feared even the name of the devil and the latter feared the sight of the cross. In search now of a worthy master he came across a hermit who advised him to offer his allegiance to Christ and upon that moment he was baptized in the Faith and henceforth named Christopher.

However Christopher was adamant that he would do no fasting or praying, but willingly accepted the task of carrying people, for God’s sake, across a raging stream. It happened to be one day that he carried a child he became progressively heavier as Christopher waded further in the rapids to such an extent that Christopher was feeling the weight of the World on his shoulders. Challenging this child for his identity the child replied that he was the Creator and Redeemer of the World. Upon crossing the stream the child commanded Christopher to plant his staff in the ground and the next day a miracle occurred turning the staff into a fruit bearing palm tree. Such a miracle spread throughout the land and converted many to the Christian faith much to the contempt of the prefect of that region, Dagnus of Samos in Lycia. Dagnus ordered Christopher’s arrest and after many torturous torments he was beheaded becoming a martyr.

I think Saint Christopher is an admirable and gutsy character for not only wanting to serve the strongest and thus withdrawing his service to a mighty king as well as Satan but also refusing to fast or pray for even Christ.

Saint Patrick’s story is lengthier as there is more known about him. His tale can be found here but I intend to condense it later.

May 20, 2007


In one of my modules, Design and Management of Lean Operations, when concerned with Jidoka one needs to look at the root causes of a problem. This arises to the 5 Whys in that when you have a problem you find out why that problem occurred and you do so again until you reach 5 levels deep, i.e. 5 steps closer to looking at the root causes.

In an article that I read today on the 20th May ‘07 concerned itself with a recent spat of high profile crimes in Japan as well as its cause being the morale deprivation of a more egotistical and target driven society. The article also mentioned tightening controls but surely this is liken to tightening a leaky tap in the Titanic. What law could you pass that would stop a 17 year old decapitating his slumbering mother, take the head to an internet cafe to watch music videos and then have the courtesy to turn himself in.

I, of course, have no idea of police departments or procedures in Japan or elsewhere but I believe that there exists the procedure to understand the motive of a crime, the first Why, but no more. Perhaps the creation of a 5Ys team to look into the root causes of high profile crimes would be worth investment. A team of very experienced of people with diverse academic backgrounds (I’m thinking it would be useless to have a team exclusively full of Freudians or any other particular school of thought) who specialise in the fields of psychology, psychiatry, philosophy, political scientists and perhaps many other branches of medicine and human studies.

If this team were to uncover the root causes of the problem, viz. what circumstances drove that teenager to decapitate his blood, and draw up solutions that needed the minimum amount of change of the current situation (as Plato attempted with The Republic) then perhaps society will be better for in the long run.

Of course, as anybody would testify, it is useless, demoralising and a waste of investment if their advice is not given systematic adequate and serious thought. Therefore perhaps this team needs something like a national symposium to collaborate with other 5Ys teams in other jurisdictions across the nation to highlight and debate trends in their findings. Then, from there, go to the government policy makers to petition change.

A problem in this plan is that invariably the governing party would loathe to inhibit the democratic rights of the populace. As of now I am undecided on whether any entity has a right to protect people from themselves (isn’t that what the main computer in I Robot wanted to do?) but perhaps there is an easy way out by alerting the police of people who follow any detrimental trends (again this encroached the rights of privacy!). Ah… I can’t see a way out of this.

March 07, 2006


I've been thinking of doing this piece for a while…

This is a kinda guide to help noobs (which we all were at some point) into selecting a house to move in. These come from my own personal experience and I've commited and learned from most of these mistakes.

  • Check the quality of water! I know some folks don't drink tap water (now I know why) but you will inevitably use the water by means of cooking those noodles, washing your hair, brushing your teeth, having a cuppa, etc. At least taste it so you have a feel of what you'll be drinking for the whole of next year.

  • Always nice to be close to a good waterhole. But, as I'm sure you've noticed, we all gravitate to a sort of place that appeals to ourselves and there many types of watering holes with their own character. For instance you have working men's/old man's/chavvy/student/lady's/modern/metro places and it's good to have one close by so that you can pop in for a sneaky drink.

  • Saying that it's good to be close to a waterholes it's not good to be too close, especially next to a bar or a rowdy pub, as the noise is likely to keep you up and take away valuable sleep so you won't be able to study quite as hard!

  • It's a real bonus if you have a kiosk within walking distance so that it's not a huge effort to go out for that half pint of milk for your morning Kellogs.

  • Always ask what furniture there will be in the place in question. You don't want to be moving into a room without a chair for your desk or some shelving space for your myriad of books and/or empty bottles!

  • Being close to a bus stop, though not essential, saves a lot of bother.

  • Choose your housemates shrewdly! It's invariably impossible to know how a person is going to be like when they are under their own roof but if you choose people who have a similar character to yourself then you're half way there. I've heard people complain that their housemates irritate them because they have emotional baggage and try and run off half way through, what was but now is not, a good night or that their housemates simply don't care about general hygiene and leave the place a tip or are just simply nagging. I know some folks aren't given the luxury of having a choice but if you do then my advice is to go on your gut instinct when choosing your housemates.

  • Where possible choose a house/flat that is already standing so you know what you will be getting and not just taking the landlord's/agent's word for it with the aid of pretty pictures. There might be promises of it being better but you've got nothing to back it up.

  • Be wary of the wow factor! Some people use it to kind of shock their potential tenants so that they are overlook the little but nagging problems.

  • It is highly recommended that you get general insurance on all of your belongings! You think you'll be saving on the few bob skipping out insurance but you'll be kicking your arse when you find out that you needed it! For instance I lost my £185 (would have been £200 with cover) bus pass and now I pay £2 pounds each day for a return trip which could have otherwise gone to essentials such as groceries! I know what I'll be doing next time round. So you may not be a forgetful and/or drunken clutz like myself? Ever heard of burglary? Better to be safe than sorry – your mum was right after all.

  • Double Glazing is essential in this god forsaken weather.

  • All of us will consider the monthly rent when chosing a place but also add on to that the estimated cost of electricity/gas bills, agent's 'administration' fee as well as the deposit. It can prove to be the deciding point.

That's it for now.

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