Monday, December 22, 2008

Reading Quote Number 3 - Benjamin Franklin

"If you would not be forgotten as soon as you are dead and rotten, either write something worth reading or do things worth the writing". Benjamin Franklin (1706-1790) And of course he took hos own advice and did both... DK

Friday, December 19, 2008

Reading Quote 2

"I am eternally grateful..for my knack of finding in great books, some of them very funny books, reason enough to feel honored to be alive, no matter what else might be going on" Kurt Vonnegut (1922-2007) I also find reading to be a life affirming occupation. I like to spend some of my life out there doing things and the rest contemplating distilled life contained in the books I read. Keep well and may the force be with you. DK

Monday, December 15, 2008

A Quote on Reading and Books

"It is a great thing to start life with a small number of really good books which are your very own" Sir Arthur Conan-Doyle (1859-1930) Of course the corollary to this is it is a great thing to end life with a large number of really good books that you have read, enjoyed and shared with others!! Have a great week leading up to Xmas DK

Monday, December 1, 2008

Mao - the Unknown Story

I was listening to a Clive James Podcast last week where he interviewed Jun Chang the writer of the best selling book called Wild Swans. It was a great interview where she spoke of the book she has written called Mao: the Unknown story. I was so intrigued that I went out and purchased the book. It is due to snow this weekend, so the book can keep me warm!! Happy reading DK

Monday, November 24, 2008

Body Parts

I am currently engrossed in a book by Hermione Lee titled, "Body Parts - Essays on Life-Writing". This book composed of a number of essays gives a valuable insight into the life and work of a biographer. Biographies are one of my favourite genres so I am hooked and intrigued. Lee wrote the definitive biography on Virginia Woolf. I thoroughly enjoyed that book, so it is a real delight to read Body Parts. Lee covers some of the important relationships in literature such as: the relation of biography to fiction, the exploration of writer's lives in connection with their works and the new and changing ways in which biographies, diaries, autobiographies and memoirs are handled. This is a must read if you have any interest in life writing. DK

Sunday, November 16, 2008

I Love Libraries

Three Cheers for the Gosforth Library. I have finally got here and it is great. A new library which also gives you 2 hours a day of free Internet access - is that awesome, or what? So now I'm off to get my 10 books for the month, but something tells me I will be back quicker than that. Keep Well DK

Friday, November 7, 2008

Barchester Towers Rules

I have just finished this excellent book, and it was a very satisfying ending. All the loose ends were tied up well and I will have to go to the library tomorrow and pick up another one of his books. Its raining so reading will certainly be on the cards.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

The Rain Didn't Come!!

Well the promised rain didn't come, but guess what? I spent the weekend reading anyway. I am motoring through The Book Thief. This book is unusual but very readable. I have nearly finished Barchester Towers and it is a ripping yarn. I'm still waiting to see if Mr Slope gets his come-uppance. All will be revealed tonight. Keep Reading DK

Friday, October 31, 2008

Rain is Coming

The weather forecast is promising rain for the weekend. Excellent - it means I can dive into the Book Thief and Barchester Towers without sullying my conscience. Thats the good thing about being a reader - when it rains you can still curl up in front of the fire and enjoy a good book. DK

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Barchester Towers

I am reading this ripping clerical yarn by Anthony Trollope at the moment. Very funny and it has aged well. Set in the city of barchester in the 1850's the book covers the political intrigues of a group of Anglican clergyman. It is not offensive in any way to those with religious leanings, but is instead an insightful look at a human institution peopled with sterotypes we have all met. DK

Sunday, October 26, 2008

The Book Thief

I started this book, highly recommended by friends, and I am hooked after just one chapter. This has not happened since I found "The Kite Runner". The style is very different and I found it to be attractive, I will let you know how I go. DK

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Edinburgh- Home of Scott

I have just spent a weekend in Edinburgh. Right over from my hotel, The Old Waverley, was the memorial to Sir Walter Scott. The memorial was very ornate and unexpected. In a city of cold stone buildings I was pleased to see a literary person being feted.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Koontz is a Master

I have not read any books by Dean Koontz for years, but have recently picked up a book of his called "The Good Guy". It is fast paced, well written and a can't put down read. The Master has not lost his touch. I can recommend Koontz's books if you are looking for a good, light, thrilling read. DK

Friday, October 3, 2008

Books are Heavy!!

Well I have arrived here in the UK, but I am $700 poorer. My bags were overweight (I wonder why!) and I had to pay excess baggage. I was gutted, I could have spent that money on new books. Still one consolation is that I am now in the home of the second hand bookshop and tomorrow is Saturday - so I can comfort myself by buying more books. Until tomorrow Happy Reading

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Choosing my 50 To Go Books

I'm flying to the UK for 18 months in two hours. Yesterday I had the sad task of choosing the 50 books that will get sent over. I already have 7 books that I will take in my luggage along with about 70 eBooks on my Mobile phone. In the end it came down to taking the books (diaries and letters) of Virginia Woolf that are still unread, the second volume of John Fowle's diary, collections of poetry by New Zealand poets, books on New Zealand art and some Camus and Said. I feel very sad leaving my large library behind..sob, sob... The only consolation is that there are heaps of fantastic second hand bookshops in the UK, and my postage from Amazon will be a lot less. Books purchased in UK will be OK as I plan to get a container to bring a motorcycle back with me and the books can act as padding (joking). Well I'd better go now and finish packing. There will be no entries to the blog until I get to UK in a couple of days and have an Internet connection set up. DK

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Eternal Life for Book Readers

That heading caught your eyes didn't it. It is somewhat tongue in cheek, but I will need eternal life to read all the books in all the languages that I want to. Life is too short for the avid reader!! I'm sure I would be more use spending eternity reading, than singing with the choir eternal (apologies to Monty Python!!) DK

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Nurturing a Love of Reading

I have been considering which factors help to nurture a love of reading. There are three things that I can think of (at least!!): Being read to as a child - this is important. We learn the power of books to convey a story, literally from our parents' knees. The night time bedtime story is a great institution and one that turned me on to reading. We then carried this out with our three daughters. Having books in the home - being surrounded by books helps to foster a regard for them. This is strengthened if Mum, Dad and siblings are seen to enjoy reading. It always depresses me when I go into a home and see a paucity of books. Having Access to a Good Library - when I was a child I used to love the weekly trip to the library. I always left (and still do) with a clutch of books to carry me blissfully through the coming week. This being said there still seems to be an innate disposition to being a reader. Of my three daughters, all of whom went through the same "conditioning process", only one is what I would call an avid reader. Have a great day DK

Monday, September 22, 2008

What Makes a Book Good?

What are the criteria that makes a book good? Contrary to supporters of the so called Great Books, I believe that a book is good if it meets you where you are, speaks to you and helps you reflect on life's journey. Each of us brings a different self and set of life experiences to every book we read. I am fascinated from the Book Group I belong to, how each of us can read the same book, and have such different reactions and interpretations. Sure we have many points of connection, but what is surprizing are the points of divergence. We read an excellent book by Maurice Gee an eminent New Zealand author. The Book Called Ellie and the Shadowman (2000)was a great read, but one of our number completely missed the lesbian relationship between two of the book's minor characters. Because I had grown up and studied in two of the locations in the book, I had an added insight into some parts of the story that the others lacked. Still, we all agreed that it was a top book. Sometimes I wonder whether it is even possible to read the same book either as a group or individually. One of my friends was telling me that when he started his PhD at Glasgow that one of the students who was just about to finish his doctorate said, "Graham Greene should have an R30 sticker on his books. No one under 30 could ever understand him". My friend was offended, but now that he is past 30 himself, he now concedes the statement was correct. Happy Reading DK First published on Qassia

Saturday, September 20, 2008

How Many Books is Too Many?

There appears to be two types of readers. Those readers who read one book at a time, and those who read several, or many, concurrently. I fall into the second category. At the moment I have about 15 books that I am reading. Most are fiction with a couple of history non fiction books, and literary diaries thrown in for good measure. A lot of my friends say that I am crazy, but I get bored reading any book for more than 15 minutes. I have occasionally stuck to one book at a time, when the book has been absolutely gripping. The two books that come to mind are Noble House by James Clavell and the Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini. Both excellent, well written and fast paced books. What kind of reader are you? DK

Friday, September 19, 2008

Free eBooks- light and transportable

I have been a fan of eBooks ever since I purchased a Pocket PC. At that time there was an excellent site called Blackmask that had thousands of legitimate, out of copyright eBooks for free. Eventually under legal threat the site was put off line (shame on you who made the threats). Happily I have found the site where the entire Blackmask collection is available. eBooks don't weigh anything and are very transportable. I have about 30 books on my phone, and this is very convenient for when I am traveling. You can download thousands of free eBooks: Click Munseys Link Here Happy reading.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

New Book Covers

I have noticed that several books I have purchased recently have a new kind of plastic cover/book ends. They retain the flexibility of a paperback but combine it with the durability of a hardback, without the bulk or weight. The cover is easily cleaned. I love it, especially as one of the books is a compilation of 100 Favorite Poems selected by New Zealanders that I am likely to dip into for years to come. Isn't technology great.... Grant

Monday, September 15, 2008

Books in other Languages

Further to my last post, I remember being depressed when someone told me, that even if I could read all the books written in English, I would still have all the books in other languages to read (Thanks for cheering me up Kath). I have been learning German for some time as I wish to read Goethe in the original, especially Dr Faust. For all that, I think I will keep chipping away at the books I still have left to read in English. What a pleasant predicament. DK

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Too many Books, not enough Time

It's the old lament for the keen reader. There are just to many great books out there. I have several hundred unread books in my library and many hundreds more that I want to reread. And still I buy more... I'm always on Amazon, Fishpond and Munseys hunting for books. I guess it is a glorious obsession. Still I am happy to be in this space and have no worries about what I am going to read next! The dilemma is that just about any book you read opens other reading avenues. A book or author is mentioned, often in passing, or there is a juicy snippet from their works in a book and I'm off on another chase. I guess its a bit like being wealthy and not ever having to worry about money. I am now book rich!! Ciao DK

Saturday, September 13, 2008

20 Chickens for a Saddle

I have been reading this book by Robyn Scott recently. It is a book that describes life in Botswana in the 1980's just as the AIDs epidemic is beginning to impact on African life. The following description is given off the website for the book: "Welcome to the official website for Twenty Chickens for a Saddle, a story that begins when six year old Robyn Scott's parents abruptly exchange the tranquil pastures of New Zealand for a converted cowshed in the wilds of Botswana. There, falling in love with the country where Robyn’s eccentric grandfather had served as pilot to Seretse Khama, Botswana’s first president, Linda and Keith Scott set off in his pioneering and unconventional footsteps. Their three small children, mostly left to amuse themselves, grow up collecting snakes, canoeing with crocodiles and breaking in horses in the veld. This is the funny and moving account of the family’s fifteen years in Botswana, during which Linda haphazardly and single-handedly homeschools Robyn, Damien and Lulu, while Keith runs a flying doctor practice, attempting, with erratic success, to adapt to the unique demands of rural clinics and the growing burden of AIDS. The book remains throughout an uplifting, engaging and deeply affectionate portrayal of an extraordinary place and family." I am really enjoying this glimpse into an African childhood. Highly Recommended DK

Friday, September 12, 2008

What is the ideal degree?

What is the best degree to make you a fit citizen, a member of society who adds value - to yourself, family and society at large? Obviously if you want to be a doctor you take a medical degree, if a lawyer, a law degree. I came to the conclusion, that for me, the ideal education encapsulates both academic and hands on content. You should be able to apply what you are learning academically in the real world as you learn it. There is no substitute for applied education. Education should be about making us useful members of society, not academic navel-watchers. I am not decrying the academic fraternity here, but even they would have to admit, that some of their writings are overly obscure and contain language to deliberately hide meaning from society. Many undergraduate programs, especially in colleges, are beginning to reach out to their communities, to give students the opportunity to get out, learn and apply their new found knowledge. This is to be applauded. DK First published on Qassia

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

The Traveling Library

I have many thousands of books in my library and I have to go overseas soon for 18 months. This poses a problem. Which books do I take with me? I can only take 25kg all up, so the question is a vexed one. My Choices at the moment are: Volume 2 of John Fowles Diaries Vol 3 and 4 of Virginia Woolf's Diaries and Letters The Charles Brasch memoir Clive Jame's book on culture Edward Saids book on Culture and Imperialism I think that will be all I can take. When my wife comes over later she will be able to bring more. One plus however is that I have 30 eBooks on my mobile phone and they weigh nothing, in fact I will load another 100 or so until I can find the local library. DK

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

A Call for Eclectic Reading

To broaden your mind, broaden your reading. If you always think and read in the same way, the chances are that you will not increase your knowledge or challenge your beliefs. I think it is Bill Gates who subscribes to a wide range of different publications, including many outside of his spheres of influence, so that he can expand his mind and challenge the way he looks at things. During my formal education I got introduced to three main ways of reading and thinking. Firstly the scientific method, secondly the business school approach, and finally the humanities way of thinking and writing. This surely increased the breadth of my learning. When I was in graduate school I decided to do a Greek History paper at undergraduate level for interest. I was amazed when I got my first assignment back and only got a B for it. I have never forgotten the lecturers comments - "You have told me what Smith thinks, you have told me what Brown thinks, you have even told me what Ventcatchalan and Jones et al think, but what do you think? Thios was a turning point for me. As an undergraduate in science and business we were expected to feed back what we had been taught. Your thoughts and opinions were for grad school. But here in a 101 Humanities paper, the professor is interested in my thoughts, Wow! This realigned my whole focus on education. Keep well DK First published on Qassia

Reading - a veritable Magic Carpet

Before I had even got out of bed this morning I had travelled to Africa (20 Chickens for a Saddle), Croatia (Finding O'Dwyer) and colonial New England (The Americans: The Colonial Experience). I don't even think the Space Shuttle could cover that distance so quickly. Reading is a truly wonderful journey into the imagination, the past, present and future. In a book you can be married/single, black/white, male/female, Muslim/Christian, Rich/poor without even going out of the house. Ever since I cut my teeth on Janet and John in the early 1960's, I have been an avid reader. There is nothing like it. Have a good day. DK First published on Qassia

Monday, September 8, 2008

Fishing for Books

Books, books, books! Those of you who have read this blog know that I am addicted to books. My day is made when I get the big Amazon smile or the Fishpond fish parcels delivered to my home. The Fishpond fish I hear you saying. Fishpond is a NZ based online seller of books, CDs and Videos. The advantage though is that the books are priced in NZ dollars not US dollars. That makes the books at least 30% cheaper before you make any savings from the site. Click the link below to explore Explore Fishpond Now Their $5 bargain pre-owned books cover a wide range... have a good day and keep reading DK

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Once Upon a Time before Google?

"Grandad what did you do before you had Google?" This question got me thinking, "Well let me see, son, it goes like this": When I was a lad, Google had not been invented. We had a computer, it took up a room the size of a basketball court and the head of IBM thought there was a market for about 5 of them in the US. When I did my undergraduate work we were still using slide-rules. All our assignments were hand written and it took hours of shuffling through thousands of library index cards to find information. Even then you had to wait weeks and sometimes months to get the information delivered to you. I'm sure it was all good training but I much prefer using the Internet to find information. Sure there is junk on the net, but there is junk in the library and bookshops as well. I would do at least 10 searches a day on Google to find things out. I don't need my dictionary or encyclopedia any more as it is so easy to access information. So stand aside young un, Grandad has to look something up on Google. DK First Published on Qassia

Saturday, September 6, 2008

Fathers Day - another Book

Isn't Fathers Day great. I got a book called, Our Favourite Poems, New Zealanders choose their best-loved poems. The book contains 100 of New Zealand's favourite poems, chosen from all over the world and voted for in a nationwide poll. As the blurb says,

These are poems that New Zealanders genuinely treasure, both high-brow and popular, traditional and contemporary, and while this anthology is firmly rooted in NZ, it retains a strong international flavour.
I will share one stanza from my favourite NZ Poem by James.K. Baxter:


Some few yards from the hut the standing beeches
Let fall their dead limbs,overgrown
With feathered moss and filigree of bracken.
The rotted wood splits clean and hard
Close-grained to the driven axe, with sound of water
Sibilant falling and high nested birds.

All you fathers out there have a great day.



Friday, September 5, 2008

A Trip to the Book Shop

This morning I woke up early and headed off to the bookshop. I was keen to purchase a copy of the biography of Professor J Beaglehole, the late eminent New Zealand historian, written by his son, Tim Beaglehole, another eminent historian. Luckily for me the bookshop (Wadsworths in New Plymouth - thank you Julie) had it as I was having trouble tracking it down!! And I got it $7 cheaper than it was selling for online at Fishpond. I am not meant to be visiting bookshops at the moment but I just can't help it. I have told my wife and she didn't explode at me, as happens sometimes. Happy reading one and all. DK

Adsense Works on Blogger

I was pleasantly surprised when I logged into my Adsense account that I have been making money by putting/activating Adsense on my site here. Well done Google. I'm working hard this weekend to build up my web exposure by a variety of means. I will of course still be getting in some book buying and reading!! Have a great weekend DK

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Where does the Time Go

I can't believe that I have not posted to this blog since April. I really have been slack. Now I remember - I had an accident and was off work for 6 weeks, then I went to Greece for a months holiday, then I went to the UK for work and then I came home... That might account for it. At the moment I am encouraging people to read books. the book itself, not a book or article about the book. There is no substitute for reading primary sources, unmediated by other peoples opinions, learned or not!! I like to get the pure visceral response from reading a book without any learned intervention. This just seems to be purer. Keep well and hopefully I will post more often DR Kelp

Sunday, April 6, 2008

Social Networking for Beginners

Social networking is one of the new wave, so called Web 2.0 technologies. Basically the idea of social networking is to make friends who share the same interests as you do. I belong to a number of such sites but my favorite site is Yuwie. Why? because you get paid for using it unlike the other sites such as Bebo (which is also an awesome site). On Yuwie you make money by visiting friends profiles, by posting comments, photos and videos plus a host of other activities. I have friends all over the world who share similar interests and while we interact we are getting paid. It's not a lot of money unless you are very committed to building downlines, but if you are going to spend hours on the Net networking why not get some benefit. I also reuse my Qassia intels there on my blog attributed of course with first published on Qassia then my Qassia link. If you have a lot of friends this may be the place for you. External Links Join Dr Kelp at Yuwie Now |

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

The Primary Source in History

The use of primary sources is critical to an understanding of history.

So what is a primary source? A primary source can be defined as: a document, speech, or other sort of evidence written, created or otherwise produced during the time under study. Primary sources offer an inside view of a particular event. (Definition accessed at

So the definition of a primary source is wider than just a document or textual evidence. It can include music, folksongs, novels, paintings, sculptures, clothing and a host of other things. Today in our electronic age we have blogs, videos, social networking sites and YouTube clips that will be used by future generations of historians as primary sources to see how we lived. No doubt in hundreds of years time, people will watch clips of the 9/11 tragedy and gain an insight into our age and particular concerns. To really get to grips with history it is important to engage with a range of primary sources. It is too easy to look at books about primary sources (called secondary sources because they are at one remove from primary sources) or read what the experts see and miss the crucial evidence of handling the primary source materials ourselves. Read the Declaration of Independence instead of reading what Prof X says about it.

However, primary sources differ in relevance and there are some questions we need to ask ourselves when evaluating primary sources. What questions should we ask about Primary Sources? Lets take as an example the Civil War in the US.

1. How close to the time is the source? Generally the closer to the time of the action, the more valuable the source (documents/letters etc from the time period covered by the Civil War would be the most useful. Those written 10, 30 or 50 years later would have a decreasing relevance.

2. Who created the source? What was their position in society, Lord, General, maid, slave? Different people bring different perspectives on events.

3. Did the person have a view on the action? Are they biased in their view. Were they a Confederate or Union supporter, slave owner or abolitionist, neutral or partisan? You have to weigh up how honest and unbiased a source is before putting heavy reliance on it. In truth though, no human source can be completely unbiased, but some are more unbiased than others.

4. What does the source reveal between the lines? Sometimes in history we have to scan a document for examples of what is not there. You would expect a victorious General in a battle to say how wonderful everything was, but the losing General may well leave out pertinent material that would attribute blame to his actions. History is all around us and increasing in volume with every second. Handle the primary sources. Try to get a selection of sources from different stratas of society, gender and rank positions, from people with different levels of education and from different sides of a conflict or action. Weigh their respective validities and make your own conclusions. Learn to love learning, evaluating history is something we do every day without thinking about it. Keep the points above in mind and history will come alive.

First published on Qassia

Saturday, March 29, 2008

Are you a Book Addict?

I am a bona fide book addict. You may well recognize the following signs of book addiction in yourself if you like to read as often as possible.. You are a book addict if: 1. You can't walk past a library or bookshop without getting books 2. You have books secreted all over the house, in, under, over all surfaces 3. You have many books that you have not yet read, but persist in buying more. 4. You would need more than your remaining lifespan to read all the books you own but have not yet read 5. You get book vouchers for every special occasion 6. You spend time and money browsing Fishpond or Amazon 7. You can read at any time, anywhere and finally 8. You go weak at the knees when trapped in a place with no books, magazines etc But don't worry I am writing a series of books on how you can escape this pernicious addiction. First published on Qassia

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Hints for Language Learning

In a global economy it is a distinct advantage to know more than one language. Learning another language helps you to consider your own mother tongue. When learning a new language there are some hints that will make your task a little easier. Hints for Language Learning Be consistent in your application. You need to be exposed to your new language on a daily basis. It might only be 5-10 minutes a day but do it consistently. Learn from a variety of sources - podcasts, textbooks, talking to native speakers, reading newspapers, listening to TV and radio in the language you are learning. You will be surprised over several months how much you can pick up of a new language. Invest in a good dictionary that has your first language and the language you are learning. Try and learn as much about the culture of the area where your language is spoken, visit the area if possible. Culture and language are intertwined. Get used to hearing native speakers of the language so you pick up the correct speed, intonations and linguistic nuances. Speak the new language whenever you can. The Internet is fantastic for this, if you have a webcam or microphone. The use of Skype will allow you to talk to a native speaker for free. Buy some children's books in the new language. This will give you confidence at picking up simple vocabulary and syntax. Relax and enjoy the experience. As the old saying goes: He who has another language has another soul. First published on Qassia

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

How to Be Happy

Why is unhappiness prevalent everywhere? Why are people swallowing anti-depressants and pick me ups? These questions are asked by many thinking people. What does it take to make me happy? Why am I so miserable? The answer is simple. Look away from yourself, reach out to somebody else in need. Over the last 50 years the sense of community has been broken down by selfishness, by the Me generation. "Whats in it for me?" has become the new catchphrase. To find happiness we do not need to look inward, we need to look outward. What have you done to make someone smile today? What selfless deed have you done for a stranger? From my own experience I have found that caring for others helps me to feel happier, to have more self esteem, and to have inner peace. So tomorrow try something new. try to make a difference to just one person. If we all reached out to others with a kind and warm heart the world would be a far happier place. First Published on Qassia

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

How to Succeed in Your Career

Here you are fresh out of college and ready to make a start on your career pathway. Great. Go for it, but before you go I have some words of advice for you: 1. Don't assume that you know it all The temptation when you are newly graduated is to think that you know it all, that your knowledge is current and you have a lot to offer. That may well be true but be circumspect when you start a new job, the proof is in the pudding so to speak. Let others see your abilities shine through, noone likes a blowhard. 2. Do be attentive and ready to learn Employers love new, bright-eyed and bushy-tailed young graduates. They love them to be attentive and to show their ability to learn new things. Be eager to learn, don't shirk the lowly jobs and make a positive impression by being humble (at least for the first month!). 3. Take the Opportunities Offered Whenever you are offered an opportunity to learn something new, don't prevaricate, jump right in enthusiastically and say "I can do it". Employers hate whingers (moaners) and those who always come up with reasons as to why they can't do things. Every opportunity taken opens more opportunities. 4. Build up "You Ltd" The idea of a job for life is now extinct. Think of every job as an opportunity to learn new skills for "You Limited". Each new skill learned goes into your own toolbox that goes with you from job to job. You are investing in yourself, in your own growth and future. Be loyal to the company while you are there and when you leave, leave on a positive note. and finally 5. If you hate the job, leave, don't go out like a gun-slinger with both barrels blazing!! Sometimes you will not like the job you get, there may be a number of reasons for this. If you have tried and seem to be getting nowhere, get up and leave. Explain to your boss why you are leaving, but don't bad mouth everyone in the company. You will learn very quickly how efficiently the business grapevine works if you ignore this advice. Go forth and good luck. First published on Qassia

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Best Milkshakes in Rarotonga

I have just come back from Rarotonga and while there I found the best milkshakes in the world. Down at Avana on the west side of the island there is an Internet cafe called Doug's Internet Cafe. As well as providing Net services, Doug also makes the best milkshakes in Rarotonga, and in my humble opinion in the world. At $10 New Zealand Dollars (about $7.40 USD) you get a tropical milkshake to die for (don't take me literally on the dying thing). Full of tropical fruits such as banana, mango and coconut they are delicious and I should know. In the 11 days I was there my family had around 30 of these milkshakes. So if you are in Rarotonga (in the Cook Islands), go and see Doug, you wont be disappointed. Rarotonga is the most laid back place I have ever been to, and sitting in the sun sipping a cool, tropical milkshake is heavenly. Doug also has accommodation at $27USD a night, outstanding value. (

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

The Value of a General Degree

Many today decry the value of a general undergraduate degree but I, for one, beg to differ. The idea of receiving a liberal education is to equip one for civic duty, life and the future. Students who focus their degree to early and look for vocational opportunities in their studies miss out on a great American tradition, the 4 year liberal undergraduate education.

It has been estimated that the average, young, American will change their career 7 times over the course of their working life. The chances are high that the 5th to 7th career changes will be in areas that we don't even know about now. If you were trained as a blacksmith in 1890 you would not have envisaged that the art of the blacksmith would almost regress to extinction while computer engineering, molecular biology, aeronautic engineering would arise out of the ashes of the foundry.

Even in my working life of 30+ years I have had careers in medical science, health management, software development, sales/marketing and consulting.

The general undergraduate degree does two very valuable things:

1. It exposes you to a number of fields and the relationships between them such as literature, politics, history, classical studies and languages. (My undergraduate BA covered 8 humanities subjects and then two courses studying the subjects across the Enlightenment and Renaissance periods of history).

2. It teaches you to think, ask questions, learn to live with ambiguity and realize that the same question can have more than one valid answer. The skill required to write a humanities essay involves thinking, research, collation, evaluation and the development and defense of a thesis. These are very transportable skills.

There is plenty of time in graduate school to tackle more focused vocational content (if you go to a professional school). The subject matter from my own Masters degree in business, completed in 1998 has been superseded in many aspects, whereas the knowledge from my BA is still relevant and the skills learned will help me to my dying day.

I understand the pressure that students come under from their parents to do something useful in college, but the downside is that narrowly focused vocational based education loses currency much quicker than the general skills gained from a good, sound. liberal undergraduate education.

Do a general degree such as a BA or BS and you won't regret it।

First published on Qassia