Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Retreat or Advance?

For some months I've really enjoyed Carly Fiorina's autobiography, Tough Choices. It's a fascinating personal account of a remarkable woman in a male-dominated culture who eventually became the Chairman & CEO of Hewlett-Packard. It was Carly who oversaw the daunting but ultimately successful merger between HP and Compaq in the face of massive criticism. I was inspired by these words from her most passionate speech in defence of the merger:

'To simply say no (to the merger) without offering an alternative plan is to ask the people of HP to give up their vision, to put their ambitions aside, and to settle for less than this company is capable of achieving. The people of HP don't want to rest on the legacy of this company. They are determined to build on it... This is a choice between taking the hill and charging ahead or retreating and starting over. This is a choice between embracing the revolution that is changing our industry or attempting in vain to preserve the status quo. This is a choice between leading and following.
During another time and place, at the dawn of another era in computing, a woman named Grace Murray Hopper offered a piece of wisdom that applies to us today. Grace Murray Hooper was not only one of the first women software engineers in America, she was also a rear admiral in the U.S. Navy. One day she was asked why she liked to be in the middle of the action at sea rather than docked in safe waters at home. She replied, "A ship in port is safe. But that is not what ships are built for."
HP can sit idly in its port and watch the rest of the world go by. It can choose the still waters of inaction over the rough waves of competition. But that is not what Hewlett-Packard was built for.' [Carly Fiorina, Tough Choices, p.259]

Thursday, January 29, 2009


Just before Christmas I was flicking through books at W.H.Smith's in Milton Keynes when I cama across a book on drawing containing some fascinating quotes. The following quote, by the author Tchaikovsky, really challenged me. I had to write it down in my notebook whilst on the lookout for over-zealous shop assistants!

'We must always work, and a self-respecting artist must not fold his hands on the pretext that he is not in the mood. If we wait for the mood, without endeavouring to meet it half way, we easily become indolent and apathetic. We must be patient and believe that inspiration will come to those who can master their disinclination.'

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Music that inspires - 9

Carole's asked me to put a Christmas wish-list together. It's so hard to think of things - but I'm hoping that a member of the family might take the trouble to order the DVD Cinema Paradiso from E-Bay. I've been wanting to watch this film for a few years, now. Having read the reviews, I'm sure it will go to the top of my favourites list when I have! I've already fallen in love with the music. How does Ennio Morricone do it? See what you think:

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Music that inspires - 8

I haven't posted here for some 5 months so it's about time I did something. I've just noticed that my last video from Jane Eyre is not available anymore, so here's another with a romantic theme, a clever collation of scenes from the 1968 version of Romeo & Juliet with the amazing Olivia Hussey. The raw emotion portrayed in this famous tale of forbidden love is intense. I challenge you not to be moved by this sequence, especially with Barratt Waugh singing A Time For Us in the background. I can't listen to this song on my iPod without being profoundly moved!

Monday, June 23, 2008

Quotes for living - 7

Shoot for the moon.
Even if you miss it you will land among the stars.

[Lester Louis Brown]

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Saturday morning at home....

Carole and I have been spending some precious time together today. Mark's at work, Matt's doing his tennis coaching, and John's playing at a gig in Camden, London. We finally re-hung the photo of Carole on her wedding day on the bedroom wall, and then made a coffee and sat down together to watch the final episode of the BBC's production of Jane Eyre. I find the following scene so moving (I apologise for the Spanish sub-titles!). Jane's wedding day had been so traumatically interrupted. She ran away, but now - many months later - she returns to find the once majestic Thornfield Hall in ruins. She learns the whereabouts of Edward Rochester and makes her way to his new home....

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Nature red in tooth and claw... wrote Tennyson. And I had a vivid demonstration of it this afternoon. I took my friend, Ian, for a walk over Ampthill Park. Whilst walking along the footpath around 'The Rezzy' (a small lake), a wren started churring frantically and a young rabbit ran down the path straight towards us. My immediate reaction was, "stoat!" and, sure enough, a stoat appeared, bouncing down the path in pursuit of the the rabbit. The rabbit turned into a gap in the scrub right by where we were standing, now closely followed by the stoat. Moments later there was a pitiful scream and we saw the stoat with the rabbit in a death-grip. Seeing us, the stoat dropped the rabbit but returned moments later and dragged it through the large mesh fence and into the long grass.

15 minutes later, and a few hundred metres to the west of The Rezzy, we heard more frantic squeals and looked up to see another stoat chasing after a rabbit. It brought it down less than 5 metres from us. We moved closer and the stoat bounded several metres away, characteristically sitting up on its haunches to size us up. It then moved closer...and then further away continuing to regard us quizzically, giving us cracking views. After a few minutes we moved further back, allowing the stoat to bound up to the rabbit, grasp it, and carry it away with ease.

Incredible. I've never actually seen a stoat catch a rabbit before, and today I saw 2 kills within the space of a quarter of an hour almost at my feet. What is it that they say about buses....?!