Sold Gold Advice from Elon Musk

After watching this, I sure want to come up with some stretch goals and to become a T-shaped person.

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Agile for Families

I’m taking a Project Management course for my library degree. We’ve learned about the agile project management approach called “scrum,” which is featured in the video above. Scrum is a very quick and dirty way of fostering accountability and addressing change within a group.

On Saturday I was surprised to hear about this Ted Talk where Bruce Feiler describes how by using scrum through short family meetings, empowering children and sharing family stories (the latter isn’t scrum) can make families healthier.

Learning from Ben

After watching Thomas Frank’s wonderful video on doing your homework faster, I saw this video on Ben Franklin’s daily plans. I’m definitely going to start clearing my desk each night and choosing an intention for each day.

What do you think of using Ben Franklin’s ideas in your life? Are they helpful? How would you tweak this for the 21st Century?

Sepia Saturday

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Each week Sepia Saturday bloggers post images and text on a particular theme. This week the theme is Work & Play. Flickr Commons has numerous photos of people who worked hard in mines, mills, factories, farms and more. Here’s just a few.

You might ask, “Where’s the play?” Well, my searching didn’t yield much. Life was hard in the early 20th Century.

I bet some did find good Work and Play images.

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Irish Mill, Waterford, 1901

If you want to see more of this week’s posts, go to Sepia Saturday.

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U.S. South, Farmers, circa 1900

Mr. Selfridge, Season 1

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That sign is the spitting image of Marshall Field’s sign

I never saw Mr. Selfridge last year. I’d left the US and just didn’t get hooked. Friends thought it wasn’t up to Downton Abbey and no one I knew followed it. From the promos the show seemed more brash, than Downton so I wasn’t drawn to it.

However last year I loved The Paradise, a period drama covering the same exciting era of the development of department stores, which affected women’s rights and freedoms. Shopping was revolutionized (a mixed blessing) as now it wasn’t just a task, but a creative, imaginative endeavor. With a lull in programming for the Anglophile who likes history, I gave Mr. Selfridge a try.

At first I really didn’t like it. Though he was inventive and a caring employer, Harry Gordon Selfridge (Jeremy Piven)  is a womanizer, drinker and a bull in a china shop. Though he’s married to a beautiful, smart woman who is portrayed as having no problems in the bedroom, he prefers to frequent girly shows and pursue Eva Love, a burlesque singer. Granted this girly show is PG by our standards, it wasn’t then and it’s hard to get drawn into a show about a pig, after watching Downton Abbey where high standards predominate.

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I’m not sure why, but I did stick with the show and liked it more as time went on. The female characters in this era of suffragettes and working women drew me in. We’re supposed to identify with Agnes (Aisling Loftus), a shop assistant who gets sacked for letting Selfridge behind the counter in the first store she worked in. The stern floorwalker saw this and saw her exchange with friendly, American Selfridge and gave her the sack saying “We’re not that kind of store.” Out on the street, unable to find another job with a younger brother to support, Agnes summons the pluck to ask Mr. Selfridge for a job. Pluck’s Selfridge’s life’s blood and he hires her. In the first season Agnes’ growth has been as compelling as watching Selfridge succeed. She’s been promoted to lady’s fashion, fallen in love (though she doesn’t call it that), escaped a drunken, abusive father and shown her talent for design and retail. She’s not as interesting as The Paradise’s Denise, whom I think has more spark, but her rags to riches story entertains.

In the first episodes it was hard to watch Rose Buckingham Selfridge (Francis O’Connor) put up with her philandering husband. That hasn’t gotten easier, and I cringe when Rose gets too close to a starving artist, who later tries to come on to her teenage daughter, but Rose’s scene when she puts Harry’s lover, Eva in her place showed grace under pressure. Rose is complex and it can’t be easy to be married to Harry, not just because of his carousing but also due to his personality.

Like Downton Abbey, subplots and secondary characters like the sophisticated, conniving Lady Mae Loxley (Kathleen Kelly) who arranges Selfridge’s financial backing when his first partner pulls out, Mr. Grove the head of staff who’s wife is an invalid so he’s got a thing going with the strict head of accessories, Miss Mardle. I will criticize Mr. Selfridge for trying to spice up history for the sake of ratings. While infidelity is nothing new, it’s rampant in this drama and it comes across as a play for ratings. One philandering character is enough for an hour’s television. Give other characters other problems. (I doubt that request would be heeded.)

Henri Leclair (Grégory Fitoussi of Engrenage fame) lends savoir faire to the store as he’s a master of window design. He’s also a pillar for Selfridge, a loyal colleague and friend from their days in Chicago. He adds romance as towards the end of season 1, he turns to innocent Agnes to replace his French lover, a modern woman who always wears a tie and who works for J. Walter Thompson. I was sorry to see how Agnes got left and didn’t quite buy how stoically she let him off the hook.

The show’s a bit of a guilty pleasure. It could be better, but I guess I’m on board for another season. Some critics have pointed out that Piven’s not good with nuanced emotion. Close ups should stop. They fall flat. (Downton doesn’t use them.) I think that would help. That’s probably valid, still since Selfridge puts so much of his heart into his store, his work family.

 

Word of the Week: Nivel

This one just had an odd sound~

nivel, v.
[‘ intr. To look downcast; to grimace, or wrinkle one’s nose; to snivel.’]
Pronunciation: Brit. /ˈnɪvl/, U.S. /ˈnɪv(ə)l/
Forms: eME nifle, eME niuel, eME niwel, ME neuel, ME nyuel, ME nyuyl, 18– nivel Eng. regional (south-west.); Irish English 19– nivel.
Etymology:Origin uncertain; perhaps the reflex of an unattested Old English verbal derivative of hnifol brow, forehead (of unknown origin). Compare Old English snyflung snivelling n., and later snivel v.
Now rare and Brit. regional.
intr. To look downcast; to grimace, or wrinkle one’s nose; to snivel.
?c1225 (▸?a1200) Ancrene Riwle (Cleo. C.vi) (1972) 158 Ha schulen ham seolf grennen & niuelen [a1300 Caius niwelen] & makien sur semblant for þe muche anguise inþe pine of helle.
?c1225 (▸?a1200) Ancrene Riwle (Cleo. C.vi) (1972) 176 Ha drinkeð þet drunh ne beo hit nese bitter..Hwen hit is al ouere. spit & schakeð þet heaued. feð on forto niuelin & make grim chere.
?a1325 in W. Heuser Kildare-Gedichte (1904) 171 (MED), I nese, i nappe, i nifle, i nuche, And al þis wilneþ eld.
c1400 (▸c1378) Langland Piers Plowman (Laud 581) (1869) B. v. 135 Now awaketh wratthe with two whyte eyen And nyuelynge [v.rr. neuelynge, sneueling] with þe nose [c1400 C text a nyuylynge nose] and his nekke hangynge.

1890 J. D. Robertson Gloss. Words County of Gloucester 104 A boy asked the meaning of ‘disdain’, when Goliath disdained David, answered ‘He nivelled at un.’
1996 D. Ó Muirithe Words we Use 15 Nivel means to turn up the nose in disdain.

My First YouTube Video

Yesterday some of the teachers and a couple students had a concert for the Freshmen. The occasion was the upcoming National Day, China’s Fourth. The video above is an emotional ode to the Motherland.

We also had several songs including Edelweiss, which was done twice, and a skit about food safety and the hazards of buying candy outside of school. (I kid you not.)