Switch by Chip Heath and Dan Heath

How to Change Things When Change is Hard

Chapter 1: Three Surprises about Change. Would people given large buckets of popcorn eat more? The results revealed that people with the largest buckets ate 53% more popcorn than people who had the medium one. With a bigger container, people eat more. The first surprise is that what looks like a people problem is often only a situational problem. The solution is to give people smaller portions. All change requires you to act differently. People volunteer for a massive change in lifestyle when they have a kid. The first step is to change the situation. After that, influencing the hearts and mind is crucial as well. Clocky is an alarm clock which can move when it sounds, therefore forcing the person to chase after it. Remove a temptation altogether. The Elephant is our emotional self and the rider is our rational mind. It is easy for our emotional self to over-ride the rational self. The Elephant likes instant gratification. Emotion is not bad all the time and might be useful at times. The rider and the elephant must move together. If you run out of self-control, you tend to give up more easily than normal. Resisting the cookies requires willpower. Willpower is in limited supply. It is smarter to run on automatic behaviour. ‘What looks like laziness is often exhaustion’. To win your colleagues over, invite their elephants to your meeting. Sometimes, showing figures won’t work. The moral of the story is that you need to speak to their elephant. Sometimes, what looks like resistance is actually a lack of clarity. Sometimes, changing purchasing behaviour is the key. Providing crystal clear direction is the key. Instead of ‘act healthier’, say ‘Next time, buy XXX brand of low-fat milk from the supermarket’. To change behaviour, you need to do all 3: 1) Direct the Rider; 2) Motivate the Elephant; 3) Shape the Path. You need to motivate their emotional side to feel the need for change. Learn to shape the path. In any change situations, if you address these 3 steps: you will succeed.

Part of us – our rational side – wants to get up at 5:45am, allowing ourselves plenty of time for a quick jog before we leave for office. The other part of us – the emotional side – wakes up in the darkness of the early morning, snoozing inside a warm cocoon of sheets and blankets, and wants nothing in the world so much as a few more minutes of sleep. – Chip and Dan Heath

Chapter 2: Find the Bright Spots. Malnutrition was being linked with poverty and a lack of drinking water. The researchers wanted to study how some kids in the village could be more healthy than others even if they were all poor. They realized that feeding kids 4 times a day instead of 2 using the same amount of food really worked. Kids also ate more when they had supplements to their rice. Knowledge won’t change behaviour, only practice will. The researchers thought the mothers how to cook. Have faith in bright spots. The rider usually focuses on problems. There is too much analysis paralysis going on. Show the rider where to go instead. Small adjustments can make a big difference. Have a solutions focused mindset. Ask yourself exception questions like ‘When was the last time you stayed sober for an hour or two?’ Once the exceptions have been identified, please focus on them. Once you have your bright spot, try to clone it. There is usually a reason why some things work and some don’t. If you allow your brain to think too much, every problem might seem too much for you. Most of the time, big problems are solved by small solutions. ‘What’s working right now?’ In general, people focus on negative news. Even most novelists focus on problems. In failure, there is also success. Sometimes, just a small spark is just what you need.

Chapter 3: Script the Critical Moves. More options lead us to decision paralysis. The more decisions you make, the more tired you become. In life, we have a lot of choices. The rider usually works on auto-pilot. Change brings about uncertainty. In light of a difficult situation, most people will just stick to status quo. Learn to script the critical moves. Scripting or providing crystal clear guidance is very important. You can’t script every move but the critical ones will work. Stay focused on the critical moves. Your rules should allow you to eliminate choices. The food pyramid is an example of something that is too vague and can’t spark change. You must remove any ambiguity. Be specific, like only drink 1% milk. Mirroring kid’s actions for parents can stop the parents from being violent after a while. For such parents, the key is for them to engage in activities where they can’t give orders to the kid. Internalize your behaviour. The first step to revive a town is to spend money locally in order to thrive the economy. The key is to build shared ideas among people. You need also hard facts to convince people. Once you start winning, things are much easier. Clarity dissolves resistance.

Chapter 4: Point to the Destination. You need to speak and identify with your audience. For instance, you must tailor make the goal properly. The teacher started calling her students ‘scholars’ and this had a positive effect on them. Set BHAG (Big Hairy Audacious Goals). Your goal should not be extremely long term. Have a destination postcard to direct people. For instance, your destination could be to co-ordinate all departments such that a lady having a lump in her breast could know quickly whether she had cancer or not. Everything would be housed in 1 facility. Put the patient at the centre. SMART goals are only good for steady state situations. Shape the path, rally the herd. Motivate the elephant and appeal to identity. Sometimes, to quit an addition, you need to get B&W (Black and White) goals. They are 100% restrictive goals, like no alcohol completely. When you set B&W goals, they force you to think harder. Marry your long term goal with short term critical moves. Look for a strong beginning and strong ending.

Chapter 5: Find the Feeling. Robyn Waters changed Target. How did he do it? Target was essentially a discount store. Later, the owners wanted to differentiate themselves based on design. The early results and successes were publicized. Waters brought in successful products that focussed on design, like the iMac etc. She performed a bunch of demonstrations which eventually worked. It is crucial to speak to people’s feelings. Speak to the Elephant. For simple situations, analyst first, then think, then change, will work. Analytical reasoning itself is insufficient and won’t work. Instead, see-feel-change works better. Let people SEE the possibilities through demonstrations. There was a team that created a video game and this had a positive influence on cancer patients who used to skip medication etc. It turns out that we are all lousy self-evaluators. People are generally overconfident of their abilities to perform. Appeal through demonstration. If you can someone to empathize with your cause, change will result. Many a time, people only change when there is a crisis. Sometimes, one can try to ‘create’ the crisis. Joy allows us to explore and build more skills and resources. Learn to open minds to encourage more creativity.

The positive emotion of interest broadens what we want to investigate. When we’re interested, we want to be involved, to learn new things, to tackle new experiences. We become more open to ideas. – Chip and Dan Heath

That sense of progress is critical, because the Elephant in us is easily demoralized. It’s easily spooked, easily derailed, and for that reason, it needs reassurance, even for the very first step of the journey. – Chip and Dan Heath

Chapter 6: Shrink the Change. People are motivated if you help them with the start of a journey rather than start from zilch. Make people feel that they are close to the finishing line. Never underestimate the power of placebo effects. Announcing some good news at the start might increase people’s motivation. The key is to shrink the change. Scale down the mission. Aim to make the house cleaner and not ‘clean’. The elephant likes to see immediate payoff. You can achieve this with just 5 minutes of work. Know the debt snowball strategy. You need quick wins to fire you up. You got to plan on how to achieve these small wins. Hope is elephant fuel and it will keep you going. Learn to create a miracle scale. Focus on the next step and not the final destination. Of course, a small win is not guaranteed but we can tailor our goals so that it will be easier to achieve it. If the task is too big, the elephant will resist it.

When you improve a little each day, eventually big things occur…don’t look for the quick, big improvement. Seek the small improvement one day at a time. That’s the only way it happens – and when it happens, it lasts. – Chip and Dan Heath

Chapter 7: Grow your People. Butler was tasked to save a parrot species. He relished the opportunity to do so. He suggested new laws like punishing for killing the parrots. He needed a way to rally the troops. His message would be to convince them that ‘they were the kind of people who protected their own’. He made merchandise from it and made it their national identity. It worked. Instead of shrinking the change, he grew the people. People make decisions using the consequence model and identity model. We develop identities through different phases of our lives. It is possible to make a change revolve a change of identity as compared to a change of consequence. Focus on bright spots, like what makes people good etc. In a corporation, you can also create a unique identity among your staff. For example, you can create a culture of innovation in your company. Being an inventor is a form of strength. Apply the ‘foot in the door’ strategy. People are generally receptive towards building new identities. Living up to an identity is generally more difficult. However, to forge a new identity often involves some form of failure. It is important to build in the expectation of failure. Fixed vs a growth mindset. To reach your full potential, you need a growth mindset. Cultivate a growth mindset in your team. Make people realize that failure is important and is inevitable. Adopt a learning frame. If you have to fail, fail early and move on.

Shape the Path – Chapter 8: Tweak the Environment. Most of the time, it is a situation problem and not a person problem. People tend to ignore situational factors and this is known as the fundamental attribution error. It is easier to tweak situation than to tweak someone’s behaviour. Smooth the problem by making it easier for others to achieve their goals. Tweaking means making the right behaviour seem a little easier and the wrong behaviour a little harder. Reduce the number of steps needed. It is simple, change the path and change the behaviour. If nurses were distracted, they tended to make more mistakes. The idea was that if nurses wore an orange vest when giving out medication, doctors and surgeons would not be allowed to distract them. The idea reaped huge rewards. People will change once their path is being shaped. Use smaller plates at home and you will realize that people will eat less. Self-manipulation does work. You can concentrate on your work but removing connection to the internet. Redesign machines such that it is impossible to make any huge safety blunders or mistakes. Consider both event and post-event interventions. Simple tweaks can make all the difference.

Chapter 9: Build Habits. Quite a number of the American soldiers during the Vietnam war became addicted to drugs. To cure an addiction, put them in a place where they are loved. Give them interesting work to do. Environmental factors can have a major impact. Habits allow us to use less willpower. Creating a new habit requires a mental framework. Action triggers are useful in motivating action. When I reach home, I will immediately go and run. Action triggers only work for things that people know they need to do. This is known as pre-loading the decision. However, the action trigger must be visible. Action triggers help motivate difficult decisions. Once you make everyone stand during their meetings, it will soon create a habit among others. Your action trigger cannot be too difficult as well, or people will be deterred by it. Use checklists as they are very effective. It will show you the ironclad way to do something. Checklists simply make screw ups more unlikely. Create a supportive environment that will make change easier for you. The next chapter would be to get others on your side.

Chapter 10: Rally the Herd. Learn to watch other people. Beware of the bystander effect. This is the power of peer pressure in a negative way. We unconsciously emulate the behaviour of others. To change others’ behaviour, tell them that others are doing the same. Use peer pressure in a positive way to force others to conform. Behavior is contagious at the societal level as well. To sell cross a difficult idea, it helps if some humour is being added as well. Radio campaigns and propaganda helps. Free space is an area where small groups of people can discuss without facing being observed by a dominant group. This is one of the keys to change as well. Get all the reformers in your company together and then form a free space for them. This is crucial.

A jerk with clear instructions was more charitable than a saint with generic instructions. – Chip and Dan Heath

Chapter 11: Keep the Switch Going. Reward yourself for every small step taken towards your goal. This is known as reinforcing positive behaviour and it can be really effective. Learn to scan the environment frequently. Focus on the positives and give praise when it’s due. Change is a long process. Be aware of the ‘mere exposure’ effect. Small change will snowball. The key thing to note is that change follows a pattern. What will you choose to switch? In summary, do the following 9 steps for successful change: 1) Follow the Bright Spots; 2) Script the Critical Moves; 3) Point to the Destination; 4) Find the Feeling; 5) Shrink the Change; 6) Grow your People; 7) Tweak the Environment; 8) Build Habits; 9) Rally the Herd

Cognitive dissonance works in your favour. People don’t like to act in one way and think in another. So once a small step has been taken, and people have begun to act in a new way, it will be increasingly difficult for them to dislike the way they’re acting. – Chip and Dan Heath


Frankenstein by Mary Shelley

Letter 1 (Letter addressed to Mrs Saville (sister) and written by her brother R. Walton). This letter is about an expedition to Russia

I feel my heart glow with an enthusiasm which elevates me to heaven, for nothing contributes so much to tranquillize the mind as a steady purpose – a point on which the soul may fix its intellectual eye. – R. Walton

My life might have been passed in ease and luxury, but I preferred glory to every enticement that wealth placed in my path. – R. Walton

Letter 2. Walton felt lonely during his trip. He admired the leadership qualities of the captain of the ship. Walton obviously missed his sister and would like to return home safely after his expedition

When I am glowing with enthusiasm of success, there will be none to participate my joy; if I am assailed by disappointment, no one will endeavor to sustain me in dejection. I shall commit my thought to paper, it is true; but that is a poor medium for the communication of feeling. – R. Walton

There is a love for marvelous, a belief in the marvelous, intertwined in all my projects, which hurries me out of the common pathways of men, even to the wild sea and unvisited regions I am about to explore. – R. Walton

Letter 3. Walton was on an advanced phase of his trip and things were going smoothly despite the grim weather.

Letter 4. There was a day when the vessel was surrounded with ice and it was foggy. Suddenly, Walton saw a huge man in a sledge guiding a few dogs. We were unable to track him though. Later we chanced upon another man. He appeared weak. We rescued him and he was the brink of freezing to death. The man was generally melancholy and despairing. He claimed that he was on a sledge and was chasing another man on a similar vehicle. I agreed to help him keep a lookout for the other sledge. To me, he was like my brother. Our relationship improved as time passed. He was always willing to listen to what I had to say. We chatted about our individual lives and past experiences. He admitted that he had lost everything and was in despair. I was soon about to hear his story.

I spoke of my desire of finding a friend, of my thirst for a more intimate sympathy with a fellow mind than had ever fallen to my lot, and expressed my conviction that a man could boast of little happiness who did not enjoy this blessing. –  R. Walton

My dad was a respectable man who married late. One of his friends was a rich merchant who eventually landed up in poverty. His name was Beaufort. Later, he retreated into Lucerne and lived in oblivion. My dad sought him out and tried to find him. After 10 months, my dad found him. However, Beaufort’s grief was deep and later on, he felt ill. His daughter worked to fund their way of life. Later, her dad died and she was an orphan and a beggar. 2 years later, Dad married Caroline, Beaufort’s daughter. Despite their huge age gap, my dad loved her very much. Later, they moved to Italy together. I was born in Naples. I was brought up well. My mum was fond of an orphan which we met in a Cottage near Lake Como. Eventually that girl, Elizabeth Lavenza, became an inmate of my parents’ house. We all loved her to bits. I treated like a true sister.

We were brought up together. She had a more calm personality than me and was deeply drawn to nature. As for me, I preferred exploring and figuring out the truth. My parents had a second child. We then we moved to Geneva. One of my close friends in school was Henry Clerval. I loved my childhood. The secrets of heaven and earth were attractive to me. It was the metaphysical that I was interested in. Clerval concerned himself with the moral relations of things like virtues etc. Later on, despair struck. I once browsed the works of Cornelius Agrippa. My dad dismissed his works as trash. I was Victor. The book was about the power of modern science and how it compared to ancient science. I was fascinated by the book and continued reading it. Later, I read Paracelsus and Albertus Magnus. I became their disciple. My dad was not good at science and in that aspect, I felt neglected. I wanted to discover cures to illnesses. I was about 15 years old now. One day, there was a violent thunderstorm. One tree was reduced to splinters by the violent lightning. Gradually, I became fascinated by electricity. I studied both science and mathematics. My spirit was strong, but ineffectual.

Under the guidance of my new preceptors I entered with the greatest diligence into the search of the philosopher’s stone and the elixir of life; but the latter soon obtained my undivided attention. – Victor Frankenstein

I will endeavor to resign myself cheerfully to death and will indulge a hope of meeting you in another world. – Mum

I was 17 now. I was supposed to head to the University of Ingolstadt. It was then that Elizabeth caught scarlet fever and her life was in grave danger. My mum took care of her but eventually fell sick as well. She died calmly. Grief and bitterness commenced. We needed to feel fortunate for being alive. Elizabeth recovered and helped to manage my emotions. Henry couldn’t go with me to the University. I was not ready to make new friends. Knowledge was what I sought. Once settled in, I visited some of the professors at school. M Krempe was the professor of natural philosophy. He explained that the people I studied before were useless. He gave me a list of books to purchase. I did not like Krempe for he had a repulsive countenance. I preferred the works of forgotten alchemists. There was another professor named M. Waldman. He commended the power and ability of philosophers. It was then that I decided I wanted to explore the deepest mysteries of creation. Later that day, I paid M. Waldman a visit. He respected the alchemists that I previously studied. He recommended a list of books to procure. This would dictate my destiny.

If your wish is to become really a man of science and not merely a petty experimentalist, I should advise you to apply to every branch of natural philosophy, including mathematics. – M. Waldman

Chemistry became my sole occupation. I read voraciously on this area and attended many lectures. Waldman was a true friend. My progress was rapid and that pleased Waldman. In 2 years, I made progress of chemical instruments. I was always fascinated by the human frame. I made a conscious effort to focus on areas of physiology. This involved study in the natural decay of the human body. Finally, after much study, I observed an astonishing secret. It was scary to learn the potential powers of my discovery. I contemplated how I should use this knowledge. I decided to make the creature 8 feet tall and began preparing the necessary materials. During this period, I was often deep in concentration. To me, passion could be allowed to interfere with domestic affairs to some extent. Despite the long hours, I persevered as I could see an end in sight.

In other studies you go as far as others have gone before you, and there is nothing more to know; but in a scientific pursuit there is continual food for discovery and wonder. – Victor Frankenstein

After days and nights of incredible labour and fatigue, I succeeded in discovering the cause of generation and life; nay, more, I became myself capable of bestowing animation upon lifeless matter. – Victor Frankenstein

I thought that if I could bestow animation upon lifeless matter, I might in process of time renew life where death had apparently devoted the body to corruption. – Victor Frankenstein

I started feeling a little anxious now. Finally the yellow eye of the creature opened. I was utterly disappointed as it was hideous. I worked hard for 2 years and this was the result. I felt utterly disgusted. Even in my sleep, I was disturbed by a bad dream. The creature visited me one day and he uttered some inarticulate sounds. I fled downstairs. I felt constantly weak and in fear. I met Henry Clerval on the streets one day. It was a big relief to have finally met him again. He remarked that I looked extremely pale. The creature was still in my apartment. I examined the apartment and was convinced that the creature was not inside before inviting Henry to explore. Henry took care of me for the next few months. In reality I was extremely ill. Finally, I gradually started to recover and felt grateful for Henry’s presence.

Elizabeth wrote me a letter. She mentioned about the state of affairs back home and wanted me to return. The family admitted a girl named Justine as a servant back home. She was a very grateful girl. All her other siblings had passed on. However, Justine was a clever and gentle girl. William was my cousin. Elizabeth urged me to write a letter back home. I introduced Henry to the professors. The mere sight of a chemical instrument would be a huge turn-off. My room was also transformed. Waldman could sense my detest for science now. Henry was keener on literary pursuits than on science. I was due to return to Geneva at the end of autumn. I was fully recovered by then. Spirits were high now as Henry and I took a tour of the University grounds.

Dad wrote me a letter now. William died and was murdered. Ernest was William’s brother and they were playing. Later my dad found him on the grass, with the print of the murder’s finger on his neck. We have no traces of the murderer. My Dad wanted me to head home and comfort Elizabeth. My dad was Alphonese Frankenstein. I was deeply upset after reading the letter. I made up my mind to return to Geneva. Later, when I was back in Geneva, I caught a glimpse of the creature I had created again. Could he have murdered William? I could not doubt that he was the murderer. It was pouring heavily. It had been 2 years since I first created him. Later on, I entered father’s house. Should I chase the creature I created? The murderer had been discovered. Ernest suspected Justine to be the murderer. Justine acted really strange and this aroused suspicion amongst others. I was convinced that she was innocent. Elizabeth felt there was some mistake in the way she was charged.

The trial was about to commence. Justine was calm and beautiful. There were some strange facts that night which were against her. That day, Justine had visited her aunt at Chene, a village near Geneva. According to her account, after that a man told her that a boy was missing and she went about hunting for him. Elizabeth strongly defended Justine in court. She had always been very helpful and loyal at home. I was agonized by proceedings. Justine was condemned and charged. I went really sick in the heart. Elizabeth and I visited Justine in prison. We were all curious as to why she confessed. Justine grew resigned to her fate. Later, she was sentenced to death. I felt deeply guilty inside. In a short span of time, William and Justine died.

Nothing is more painful to the human mind than, after the feelings have been worked up by a quick succession of events, the dead calmness of inaction and certainty which follows and deprives the soul both of hope and fear. – Victor Frankenstein

I was still alive. I felt like an evil spirit now. I was tormented by guilt and remorse. Solitude was my only consolation. I desperately tried to hide my feelings from my dad. Later, I discovered I liked sailing out in the sea so that I could reflect on life. I was fearful that the creature would cause other forms of harm. Now, I thought about killing him. Grief was taking a toll on dad and Elizabeth. I was the true murderer. She advised me to banish any dark thoughts. Being in the mountains gave me a feeling of safety. Finally I arrived at the village of Chamounix.

Do your duty towards me, and I will do mine towards you and the rest of mankind. If you will comply with my conditions, I will leave them and you at peace; but if you refuse, I will glut the maw of death, until it be satiated with the blood of your remaining friends. – The Creature

I continued exploring the valley. Looking at nature temporarily relived me of grief. I started my ascent up the mountain. Later, there was a man heading to me at superhuman speed. It seemed to be the creature I created. I felt an overwhelming rage inside of me. He could speak now. He was also furious and wanted me to follow his conditions. I leapt at him but he easily evaded it. The creature wanted me to treat him as an equal. He wanted me to make him happy so that he would be virtuous again. He admitted that he was good and compassionate. He complained that everyone hated him. The creature was irked that I wanted to destroy him. Later on, it wanted me to listen to him and then make a judgment. I complied with him and we moved to another location.

The creature began telling his tale. He recalled his past. He sought refuge at a forest. To satisfy his hunger, he ate berries. Later, he felt pained and wept. The creature was fascinated with the moon. Nature was attractive to the creature. Soon, he learnt the power of perceiving. Through observation, he learnt how to start a fire. However, most of the time, food was scarce. Later, I entered a hut and the old man fled when he saw me. I was fascinated by the hut as it shielded from the elements. The children all shrieked and women fainted. Many of them attacked me with stones etc. Later, I managed to arrange my own dwelling. It was like a paradise compared to the forest. He witnessed some events in a house. The young man carried some wood on his shoulders.

The family headed to rest. I could not sleep and longed to join them. I thought that I would simply observe them. I was impressed by the love they showed each other. However, there were times when the old man was unhappy. I realized that poverty was a cause for sadness. Their food was not very nutritious. One day, I brought wood out of them and they were impressed. Later, I observed that people communicated via sounds. Soon, I managed to pick up some of the language on my own. Agatha and Felix were amongst the people in the family. Later, I took to reading to understand the language better. I utterly detested how I looked. I wanted to understand why Felix and Agatha was so sad. I felt like it was my job to restore happiness.

I found that these people possessed a method of communicating their experience and feelings to one another by articulate sounds. I perceived that the words they spoke sometimes produced pleasure or pain, smiles or sadness, in the minds and countenances of the hearers. This was indeed a godlike science, and I ardently desired to become acquainted with it. – The Creature

He continued on with his story. There a lady on horseback and a countryman who knocked on their door. Felix was delighted when he saw the guest. Felix embraced her affectionately. The lady spoke in a language that the family didn’t understand. All of them could play lovely music. Safie was always gay and happy nowadays. Later, I overheard them reading a book on religion and politics and I learnt something new. Every conversation opened new doors for me. I began to understand what class was. I wondered whether I was a monster that everyone shunned? I began to question my identity. I had no friends and relations. The story of the cottagers fascinated me.

De Lacey was the old man. The father of Safie caused ruin to their family. Felix received a lot of lovely letters from this lovely girl. It was about a story where the Turk escaped. Later De Lacey and Agatha were convicted of a crime. Felix was hurt by the turn of events in the past.

My person was hideous and my stature gigantic. What did this mean? Who was I? What was I? Whence did I come? What was my destination? These questions continually recurred, but I was unable to solve them. – The Creature

I learnt from this story about the virtues and vices of mankind. To me, crime was clearly an evil. There was one evening when I saw several articles of dress and books on the ground. I brought them to my hovel. I was delighted to study them. I was fascinated by the lessons in these books. One of the books I read was Paradise Lost. I was different from Adam as I was wretched and helpless. Satan fitted my condition more. Later I retrieved your papers from your lab and started to read them. I hoped the villagers would like me for my personality. I waited for a few months before deciding to look for them. Safie was the source of happiness for the family. Autumn passed. The villagers were not affected by the seasons of the weather and remained happy. I decided to enter the house when only De Lacey was in so that I would not frighten everyone. Later the old man admitted he was blind and allowed me to enter. We started chatting. However, at that moment, Felix, Safie and Agatha entered the home. Agatha fainted. Safie ran out of the cottage. Felix tore me from his dad. Later, Felix struck me violently with a stick. Gradually, in much reluctance, I left the house.

From that moment I declared everlasting war against the species, and more than all, against him who had formed me and sent me forth to this insupportable misery. – The Creature

Why did I live? Now I was like a wild beast filled with rage. Now I wished to wreck havoc to everything I saw. Later on, I resolved to visit the old man again. That day, the house was empty as apparently they could not afford the rent. Felix was pissed by what he experienced and wanted to leave desperately. This was the last of De Lacey’s family. I turned violent on inanimate objects. I lighted a dry branch of a tree and burned the cottage. Later on, I sought to find my creator in Geneva. It was an arduous trip. During my trip, I saw a girl fall into a rapid stream. Thankfully, I managed to save her and dragged her to shore. Later on, there was a guy and tore the girl from my arms. He fired a shot at me and escaped. This was the reward for helping mankind! I left a miserable life in the woods. 2 months later, I was in Geneva. I was approached by a child along the way. He didn’t seem frightened by me. I wanted to seize him and educate him. Then, he started struggling the moment I grabbed him. I did not want him to return to his dad, Frankenstein. Accidentally, I grabbed his throat to keep him quiet and he died soon after. In his breast pocket, it was portrait of a lovely woman. I was attracted by her looks. Later I framed a girl by placing the portrait into one of her folds of her dress when she was asleep. I wanted my creator to create a companion of the same species and same defects as me.

*Back to Victor’s narrative* I was utterly surprised by what he said. I utterly refused to comply. The creature wanted to take revenge. The creature promised not to hurt mankind if I acceded to his request of creating a female creature. However, I felt that even if there were two of them, they would still wreck havoc. The creature lamented that I was not consistent with what I said. Deep down, I sympathized with him but his ugly appearance caused me to hate him. Eventually, I acceded to his request and started creating a female. It was then that he fled from the mountains. I returned home from the climb and looked haggard.

You must create a female for me with whom I can live in the interchange of those sympathies necessary for my being. This you alone can do, and I demand it of you as a right which you must not refuse to concede. – The Creature

I demand a creature of another sex, but as hideous as myself; the gratification is small, but it is all that I can receive, and it shall content me. It is true, we shall be monsters, cut off from all the world; but on that account we shall be more attached of another. – The Creature

I could collect the courage to commence my work. To do it, I needed to spend a few months studying again. My health deteriorated because I was increasingly upset nowadays. Dad thought I was upset because I couldn’t marry Elizabeth. My dad proposed that we get married immediately. I knew that I had to create the monster first. The thought of destroying the monster crossed my mind. I wanted to visit England to learn about how to create life from inanimate objects. It was set and I would travel to England. I bade the family goodbye. I met Henry along the way and he was always cheerful. I, on the other hand, was despondent and sorrowful. Finally we arrived in London.

Henry was with me for this trip. This journey to seek information was not the most pleasant one. In Henry, I saw the image of my former self. I began collecting the ingredients required to create a new creature. After we left Oxford, we headed to Matlock. Every moment, I was worried that the Creature would wreck havoc on my relatives. I was constantly pricked by my consciousness. In Scotland, I decided to part with Henry and travel alone. I used one of the hills as a place for my labours. I devoted my mornings for work. Part of me was what I was afraid I could create and that it would be extremely hideous again.

I thought about whether the female creature could get along with the first one. Now, I realized that the monsters might breed and future generations of humans might hate me. I glanced up and saw the creature gazing at me. Yes, he had followed me closely and didn’t lose trail. He looked sinister enough and I resolved not to work on my creature anymore. Later, there were footsteps at the door. It was the creature. I admitted that I did break my promise. The creature continued to threaten to inflict harm. He promised to be with me on my wedding night. Now, the creature fled. That night, I received a letter from Henry. I decided that I wanted to join me and had to leave the island in two days. I had created half a creature but ended up destroying it. I cleaned up the chemicals and apparatus. Now, my thoughts were clear and then I would not create another creature like him. I began sailing towards land. There was a man who was killed last night and I was the suspect now.

Remember that I have power, you believe yourself miserable, but I can make you so wretched that the light of day will be hateful to you. You are my creator, but I am your master; Obey! – The Creature

Have my murderous machinations deprived you also, my dearest Henry, of life? Two I have already destroyed; other victims await their destiny; but you, Clerval, my friend, my benefactor… Victor Frankenstein

I went to meet a magistrate now and he demanded answers from me. Some men were fishing and discovered a dead body along the beach. His body was not wet. He appeared to be a young man around 25 years of age and he was strangled. Before his death, there was a boat with a man in it. I was one of the suspects. I shuddered and agonized when I saw the body. It was Henry Clerval. I fell ill with a fever and thought that I was a murderer. I thought that it would be better if I had died in that instance. 2 months later, I found myself prison. I suffered a mental breakdown. There was a nurse placed there to aid with my recovery. Life was so surreal, just like a dream. Mr Kirwin was very kind to me. There were thoughts of confessing in front of the court. Mr Kirwin suspected some higher being was responsible for causing Henry’s death. He kept in contact with my dad these 2 months. Suddenly, my dad appeared and I was very relieved to see him. The image of Clerval constantly haunted me. Later on, I was freed and not charged because there was no evidence against me. Elizabeth and Ernest were still safe. I knew I had to return Geneva soon. My dad took me back to Geneva. Deep inside, I still felt incredibly miserable. I imagined being strangled by the fiend.

The voyage finally ended. Dad didn’t know about the monster yet. I kept experiencing feelings of guilt. My dad thought I was deranged when I mentioned about the creature I created. Later on, I received a letter from Elizabeth. She was looking forward to receive me in Geneva. She wanted to know if I loved her. She confessed in her letter than she loved me. I imagined the fiend on my wedding night trying to destroy me. I vowed not to allow the fiend to affect my mood and would proceed with the marriage. I finally returned to Geneva and hugged her. Thoughts of the fiend appeared again and haunted me. I was ready for my fate and set the wedding date to 10 days from now. Elizabeth and I started preparing for the wedding. We agreed to head to Villa Lavenza after the wedding to celebrate. Where ever I went, I carried a pistol and dagger. The ceremony was over and everything went smoothly. We observed the scenery of Mouth Blanc. I could sense that Elizabeth was uneasy and did not act herself.

Life is obstinate and clings closest where it is most hated. For a moment only did I lose recollection; I fell senseless on the ground. – Victor Frankenstein

We walked on the shore for a long period of time. Suddenly, there was a heavy storm. I desperately clutched on to the pistol in case anything happened. I discovered no trace of the monster. Later, I heard a scream from the room and immediately went to investigate. Elizabeth was lifeless and inanimate already. The monster was nowhere in sight. Elizabeth ceased to exist. The murderous mark was on her neck. As I glanced outside the window, I saw the hideous creature grinning. I fired a shot at him but he managed to evade and escaped. Many of us tried to chase him, but it was all in vain. I feared for the safety of my remaining loved ones. With such fear, I headed back to Geneva. ‘Nothing is so painful to the human mind as a great and sudden change.’ My friends were all snatched away from me one by one. I didn’t think the fiend could live with all that guilt. Thoughts of revenge crossed my mind. I vowed to seek out the murderer. The magistrate thought that I wouldn’t stand a chance as the fiend was a lot fitter than me. I suspected that the fiend might be hiding in the Alps. Revenge was the only passion of my soul.

To you first entering on life, to whom care is new and agony unknown, how can you understand what I have felt and still feel? – Victor Frankenstein

Are you mad, my friend? Or whither does your senseless curiosity lead you? Would you also create for yourself and the world a demoniacal enemy? Peace, peace! Learn my miseries and do not seek to increase your own. – Victor Frankenstein

The thoughts of revenge kept me going. I left Geneva and sought out my enemy. Dad passed on due to overwhelming grief. I visited the tomb of William, Elizabeth and dad. I prayed for the spirits to help me with my endeavor. Then the creature appeared but constantly appeared elusive. Later, the creature hid in a vessel bound for the black sea. In sleep, I dreamt of my loved ones and felt good again. The creature left traces that indicated that he sought the everlasting ices of the North. He continued to challenge me. It was bitterly cold now and it was snowing. It was increasing hard to find food as well. I finally came upon the ocean. I finally procured a sledge and dogs and could travel on snow at a rapid speed. With this tool, I managed to gain some distance on him. This was the third week into my journey. After a long time, I caught sight of another sledge. One of my dogs had passed on. A storm was still in sight and tracking him was increasingly difficult. The storm caused several of my dogs to fall in the icy water and die. Later, I saw your vessel and clung on to it with dear life. Your boat was heading northwards. I knew my search was over. I didn’t want to be selfish and lead the men to undertake my pilgrimage for me. Walton was now writing to his sister. Victor was too weak to continue his tale. I, Walton, believed that the monster existed. I was not in the right position to counsel someone so depressed. Victor enjoyed the remaining solitude. He used to have big ambitious dreams but everything was crushed when he created the monster. To him, nothing could replace Henry and Elizabeth. Victor had the power to lift the morale of the crew with his stories. Our vessel was still surrounded by ice and it was dangerous to travel. Victor was becoming increasing weak. The men wanted me to direct the vessel southwards. He chided the men for being cowardly and not appreciating what it was like to die for honour. He wanted us to return to home as heroes. I wanted to continue but was prepared to listen to my men as well. The crew decided to return to England.

Victor started to reflect upon his life and did not find he could blame his past conduct. He felt he was right not to create a female alternative to the creature. He urged me to avoid ambitions in science and seek tranquility instead. I was deeply upset by Victor’s death. Victor passed on. After a while, I returned to his resting place and saw this gigantic creature. After he saw me, he wanted desperately to leave. I persuaded him to stay. Although I was supposed to kill him, I approached him with curiosity. The creature pitied Victor and he started hating himself as well. The more he killed, the more the creature seemed to embrace evil. The fallen angel became a malignant devil. The creature destroyed Victor but did not satisfy his own desires. The Creature wanted to continue heading up north so that he could die. Death was the only place where he could find peace. The creature leapt out of the vessel, never to be seen again.

What do you mean? What do you demand of your captain? Are you, then, so easily turned from your design? Did you not call this a glorious expedition? – Victor Frankenstein

Oh! Be men, or be more than men. Be steady to your purposes and firm as a rock. This ice is not made of such staff as your hearts may be; it is mutable and cannot withstand you if you say that it shall not. – Victor Frankenstein

Do return to England, if you will; but I will not. You may give up your purpose, but mine is assigned to me by heaven, and I dare not. I am weak, but surely the spirits who assist my vengeance will endow me with sufficient strength. – Victor Frankenstein

I am content to suffer alone while my sufferings shall endure; when I die, I am well satisfied that abhorrence and opprobrium should load my memory. – The Creature

For while I destroyed Victor’s hopes, I did not satisfy my own desires. They were forever ardent and craving; still I desired love and fellowship, and I was still spurned. Was there no injustice in this? Am I to be thought the only criminal, when all humankind sinned against me? – The Creature


My random musings 1 to 25

1. After listening to a Singapore Qualifying Programme (SQP) talk, the following thoughts came to my mind: If non-accountancy university graduates can embark on this 6 module part-time programme and become a Chartered Accountant of Singapore with 3 years of relevant working experience, shouldn’t this programme be extended to other professions like law, engineering etc? To facilitate an open market economy, shouldn’t this be extended to other professions so that accountants have an option to explore other career options? Is an accountant’s skillset so easily replaceable? In addition, if the economic growth is not in tandem with the potential influx of professional accountants flooding the market, wouldn’t there be a case where existing accountancy university graduates will eventually face competition from those who passed the SQP for jobs? How is this problem going to be addressed? Would there be a lack of workers in other aspects of the economy if many suddenly choose to enter the accountancy/finance sector?

2. The size of our Earth compared to the scale of the Universe is like a grain of sand on a beach. Similarly, as an individual, you are just 1 out of 7 billion others. Insignificant. It’s hard to take. However, the little prince is optimistic and thinks the exact opposite. A true classic!

3. What I think the little prince is trying to tell me: Adults are boring, don’t know how to appreciate the arts, like to use stereotypes, culturally-insensitive, serious, calculative, judgmental, uncaring, cold, aloof, authoritative, domineering, depressed, vain, condescending, materialistic, unhealthy, lead the rat race, weird, theoretical, lonely, unfriendly, busy, aimless, clingy and stubborn. Kids on the other hand are, creative, imaginative, well-prepared, nature-loving, caring, curious, diligent, determined, passionate, affectionate, dreamy, optimistic, interesting and receptive! I think there is certainly some truth in that. A real classic!

4. Woot. A cab driver just recommended a thick and awesome coffee which says can be found at provision stores in sg. it’s called morning sun. LOL.

5. Wow, it’s 10+ pm and I struggle to enter the train and get pushed right to the door. I mean I know SMRT wants to maximise profits by reducing the train frequency. However, if you reach the position where the public is unhappy with public transportation, that’s not a nice position to be in. I believe there is a balance has to be struck, and a sweet spot can be found.

6. Conclusion: When a middle aged lady gives you her number and asks for your name before you can even ask for hers, you are one of the following: handsome, smooth talker, young, interesting, or just plain weird.

7. The client can choose the audit firm they want. Of course, some will want to choose the one with the lowest fees. Or the one with the best reputation. Or the one which can best serve their needs. Or the one which can offer extra services and value-add. Or the one which can provide the best opinion over their financial statements and internal controls. However, I do not see it as a conflict of interest when the client chooses an audit firm because of that. As auditors, we should exercise professional skepticism over what the client provides and not just believe whatever the client says simply because they are providing revenue for our livelihood.

8. Warm and humid weather is a form of an indirect tax on people. Some will turn on their airconditioning, incurring heavy electricity charges. Others will likely seek refuge in shopping centres, cafes etc, possibly incurring GST upon expenditure. The govt’s standpoint: let’s look forward to more humid weather!

9. The audit business operates on the premise that not everyone is honest. If everyone is honest, why is there a need to check on clients work? Of course there might be the incompetence factor as well. Sadly, the world is not like that and there will always be people with selfish motives. Hence, there will always be a need for audit. A great business model!

10. My assessment of Warren Buffett after reading ‘The Snowball’: He is intelligent, confident, charismatic, charming, decisive, patient, romantic, disciplined, motivated, determined, self-aware, humorous, loyal, positive, honest, clean, filial, helpful, insightful, unwavering, curious, humble, thrifty, charitable, prudent, independent, focused, grateful, appreciative, ambitious, passionate, ethical, politically-savvy, trustworthy, protective, meritocratic, cautious and has an extreme thirst of knowledge. A remarkable man indeed.

11. Just bumped into a few poly girls. I think they are great for the following reasons: 1) they are hot; 2) they read 50 shades of grey; 3) they have good value systems; 4) they don’t know what they want in life but are willing to try their best to figure it out; 5) they break out into expletives once in a while; 6) they like to tease each other.

12. Margin of safety is when you reach 10min early before an important meeting. Margin of safety is when you quickly leave the house after observing an overcast sky. Margin of safety is when you choose to be slightly reserved when meeting someone new. Margin of safety is when you set aside money for a rainy day. Margin of safety is knowing it is time to head home after taking your last drink. Hi Warren, thanks for teaching me the concept of margin of safety.

13. After seeing my relatives visibly age every year during CNY, I wonder… Dear Lord Almighty(ies)/Universe Creator, what’s the point of ageing? Why do living things have to age? The only reason why people look forward to ageing is when they become more mature, have stronger values etc. But that does not necessarily come with age right? Lol. Anyway, thanks for teaching me the circle of life.

14. Dear Lord Almighty(ies)/Universe creator, why was rain created? What is it for? Is it to test the patience of homo sapiens? Lol. Thanks anyway. Patience is a virtue.

15. Either I do something myself, or nothing will happen.

16. Radical solutions to solve the problem of sustaining GDP growth without increasing population: gradually increase the working hours of the general public; tap on labor from the elderly, housewives etc; outsource non-core functions to places with cheaper labor; allow moonlighting in certain jobs; increase automation to generate higher productivity.

17. The thing about reading books by famous people like Ha-Joon Chang is that it is incredibly inspiring. Makes you want to get out there, make a lasting change to society and benefit Mankind. However, inspiration without concrete plans means nothing. Hope you will discover your true passion in life and make the effort to work on it! Merry Xmas.

18. Note to self: Peak period is here. Limit of reading non-fiction books to only 1 hour on weekends. Limit does not apply to FRS, SAS, Audit Approach Manuals or client policy & procedures.

19. Disadvantages of drinking: sleepy, liver damage, turn red, expensive, time flies. Advantages of drinking: adrenaline, feel high, more sociable, more daring, more inspired.

20. Tried a social experiment yesterday by giving a $10 Capitaland shopping voucher to a random stranger. Haha. Seems like not everyone appreciates it.

21. This is a tough qn. if money didn’t matter, i would probably be doing one of the following 1) Economics – to further understand what nations can do to exit from poverty; 2) Psychology – study on what are the steps humans can take to overcome biases and heuristics; 3) Sociology – how to maximise social welfare as well as economic efficiency and political stability; 4) Finance – to find out what is the optimal level of regulation for nations, based on a nation’s individual characteristics; 5) Politics – to further understand the pros and cons of adopting foreign labor; 6) Accounting – to analyse the pros and cons of disclosure for companies and how the accounting standards should evolve towards that; 7) music – to bring and promote classical music to the masses.

22. Old friends met from circumstance or new friends who share common interests? Which is better? I cannot tell you. Who cares? Pokemon: gotta catch ’em all!

23. After tipping a cab driver, his expression was one of utter surprise. He went ‘You’re so kind. Never met a passenger like you before.’

24. Lol. Epiphany. Did Q&M dental in SG stem from the characters in James Bond?

25. Just had a quick chat with a cab driver just now. His highest qualification is sec 2. Does a technician job in the day (earns 2k plus), drives a taxi at night (earns 1k plus). He has to support 3 kids and his wife is not working. Hard truths. We peeps are actually very fortunate.


Boy by Roald Dahl

Tales of Childhood

Papa and Mama. My dad was Harald Dahl and was a Norwegian. My grandpa was a prosperous merchant. Dad suffered a fall when he was young and had his arm amputated at the elbow. For the rest of his life, he managed with one arm. However he was adept at using just 1 arm. His brother was Oscar. They wanted to head to England or France to set up shop there. Despite grandpa’s disapproval they left on a cargo ship. My dad stayed in Paris. Oscar was a rich man who entered the fishing business. My dad partnered with Aadnesen to form a partnership and became shipbrokers. My dad married a lady named Marie in Paris and headed off to Cardiff to start their business. The business performed well but Marie passed away after delivery of the second child. Later, Dad headed back to Norway and married Sofie Magdalene Hesselberg. With his second wife, she bore 4 children. I was one of them. We moved to a larger home. Dad and bro had a deep interest in beautiful things. They decorated the house with high quality furniture. Aside from this, dad appreciated nature and all its beauty.

Kindergarten, 1922 to 1923. My eldest daughter died from measles. My sister, Astri, died from appendicitis. Her death shocked my dad. My father gave up living after contracting pneumonia. It was my dad’s wish for us to be educated in English schools in England. We moved to a smaller home. I went to a kindergarten called Elmtree house. I loved riding to school in a tricycle. That’s all I could remembe

Llandaff Cathedral School, 1923 to 1925. I headed to a boy’s school. I was impressed by a guy on a bicycle one day and he wasn’t holding on the handlebars. Often, a group of friends and I would stop at a sweet shop. We often pulled funds together to buy sweets. We enjoyed Thwaites’ story about how the candy were made from rats. We liked Sherbet Suckers and liquorice candy. Gobstoppers could change colour and was lovely to eat too. Our spit made it change colour. There was also the tonsil tickler candy. We hated the shop owner, Mrs Pratchett. She was suspicious of us and thought we were thieves. Her apron was filthy and her hands were dirty all the time. However, we somehow didn’t mind as all we wanted were the sweets. We wanted to take revenge on her someday.

The Great Mouse Plot. We found a loose floor-board in classroom as a place to store our candy. I suggested placing the dead mouse in a jar so that Mrs Pratchett would get the shock of her life. We distracted her and then I finally placed the mouse inside the gobstopper jar. After that, I felt like a hero. We all ran out of the shop.

Mr Coombes. We wanted to see whether the mouse was still there the next day. Later, we realized the shop was closed. The Gobstopper jar was no longer there too. Later, we observed that the glass was on the floor and it was all smashed. She didn’t sweep the place. We felt guilty and puzzled. A while later, we suspected that she might have passed on due to a heart attack. All of a sudden, I was a murderer. Mr Coombes was the headmaster at school. That day, he ordered all the students to line up. I kind of expected policemen to come arrest me at any moment. Later, Mrs Pratchett appeared. Coombes allowed her to inspect all the boys. She identified Thwaites as one of the culprits. I was also identified. She managed to identify the five of us. She was really very sharp.

Mrs Pratchett’s Revenge. We would all be required to report to the headmaster. Mr Coombes held a cane in his hand. He was about to strike Thwaites’ bottom. He was whipped. We were all made to watch it. I waited for my turn. I was thrown violently forward when struck. The second stroke hurt even more badly than the first. I received 4 strokes and was told to get out. My mother noticed the cane marks and questioned me. She was pissed and went to approach the Headmaster in school. She vowed to take me away from the school the next year.

Harder! Stitch ‘im up! Make it sting! Tickle him up good and prper! Warm his backside for him! Go on, warm it up, Headmaster! – Mrs Pratchett

Going to Norway. It was the summer holidays and I headed back to Norway. It was going home and I was delighted. My mum was amazing and co-ordinated everything. It was an ardous trip which lasted more than 4 days. We headed to my grandparent’s house. Bestemama was my grandma. There would be a huge feast and we were all elated. Following which, we had ice cream. By 10, I was involved in drinking ceremonies and would always end up very tipsy.

The Magic Island. There would be another day on our trip. The boat ride was incredibly peaceful . Norwegian children were all very adept swimmers. The toilet was simply a hole. Breakfast was a luxury and there was a huge spread. Almost everyone in Norway had a boat. My mum was an expert at rowing. As kids, we all loved to play in the water. The island was our regular destination. There were plenty of cool places we could explore. My mum enjoyed the rough seas. She was skillful enough in controlling the small boat to make sure it wouldn’t capsize. Later, we enjoyed fishing and reeling the fish in. Those were the enjoyable days.

A Visit to the Doctor. I had to visit the doctor because I was suspected of having adenoids one day. The doctor seemed to performing a surgical procedure on me. I refused to open my mouth initially. Later, the blade in my mouth was twisted and flesh and blood came out. Huge red lumps came out. Those were the adenoids. They all came out and were placed in a basin. That was the procedure at that time without anesthetic.

St Peter’s 1925-1929. First Day. I was nine and headed to my first boarding school. It was situated near a seaside resort with a sandy beach. I placed my belongings in a wooden tuck-box. It was my secret-house. The box contained some of my treasured possessions as well. I was apprehensive for my first day of school. Similar to my previous school, this Headmaster was a giant. I began to cry when my mum left me.

Writing Home. I wrote a letter to home from St Peter’s. I often wrote to my mum and it was at least once a week. Later on, I would fly with the RAF. My mum compiled all my letters I sent and this was incredibly touching. We could not complain about school in the letters. The letters would be vetted by the school staff. If there were spelling mistakes, we would have to write the same thing 50 times.

The Matron. Matron told care of the doms and was incredibly strict. She was extremely mean and caned people on the spot. She was like a tyrant. She scolded me at times too. If we made noise at night, we would be caught too. Everyone was ordered to wake up and stand in a line. They banned us for eating during canteen breaks. She made life very miserable for me. To the Matron, snoring was a crime and one would be punished for doing it.

Homesickness. I was homesick during my first term at St Peter’s. I wanted to pretend to have appendicitis so that I could go home. Nanny said when you swallow a toothbrush bristle, it would appear in your appendix and cause appenditicitis. I complained to the Marton that my appendix hurt. I feigned illness. My mum would be coming to pick me up. He forgave me for feigning it and told me not to do it again.

Everybody is homesick at first. You have to stick it out. And don’t blame your mother for sending you away to boarding-school…Life is tough, and the sooner you learn how to cope with it the better for you. – Dr Dunbar

Unless you have been to boarding-school when you are very young, it is absolutely impossible to appreciate the delights of living at home. It is almost worth going away because it’s so lovely coming back. – Roald Dahl

A drive in the motor-car. I got though the first semester. Our family bought a motor car. At that time, no one took driving classes. My ancient sister would drive too. The car had a retractable hood. Traffic was very light. Unfortunately she was involved in an accident. No one was hurt except for me. My nose had been partially cut off my face. She placed the dangling nose back on my face. Later, my sis continued driving. My mum was insistent to get to the doc as soon as possible. Finally she drove us to Dr Dunbar. The doctor sewed my nose back again. I would be sedated for this operation. Later I vomited. Luckily, it went well and I was okay again.

Captain Hardcastle. He was a slim man. We were very afraid of him. He had an awful moustache. He had a strange twitch all the time. In school, he often picked on me. We were forbidden to look around or to talk. These masters were very tough. There was once when I broke my pen nib in class. I wanted to get an extra nib from a friend. However, it was seen by Captain Hardcastle. I was given a stripe. It meant a beating from the Headmaster. I could never win against the Headmaster. I would receive 6 strokes of the cane. Every boy feared the cane. I grabbed hold of my butt and clutched it in pain. A boy named Highton promised to report this incident to his father.

Little Ellis and the boil. Ellis had a boil on him and was being treated by the doctor. The doctor took out a long steel handle with a blade attached to the end of it. Ellis screamed in pain.

Pain was something we were expected to endure. Anesthetics and pain-killing injections were not much in those days. Dentists, in particular, never bothered with them. But I doubt very much if you would be entirely happy today if a doctor threw a towel in your face and jumped on you with a knife. – Roald Dahl

Goat’s Tobacco. My half sister got engaged. Her partner was a heavy pipe-smoker. One day, the family and the couple headed to some island because we saw goats on them. The goats weren’t friendly. Later, I inserted goat’s droppings into his tobacco pipe while he wasn’t looking. My family didn’t object to what I did. Later, he began choking and admitted his lungs were on fire. When he realized it was his pipe, we all ran away.

Repton and Shell, 1929 to 1936. Getting dressed for the big school. I chose Repton over Marlborough. I had to take the train. I was exactly 13 when I had to go to Repton. It was troublesome to wear the butterfly collar of the uniform. Later, I crept downstairs. The uniform was indeed very elaborate and difficult to don on.

Boazers. The prefects were called Boazers and they were scary. Williamson was the one who caned people.

The Headmaster. He could not speak coherently at all and it was very embarrassing. Later, he became the Bishop. Everyone was surprised by this. Eventually, he became the Archbishop of Canterbury. Despite this, he had horrible mannerisms and didn’t treat the kids well. Did they preach one thing and practice another? It was then that I had my doubts on religion and God.

Chocolates. Once in a while, we received chocolates from Cadbury. Cadbury were actually testing out their inventions. It was then that I realized that the chocolate companies had laboratories and factories. This formed the plot for Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.

Corkers. Corkers was an old man who was interested in boys. He kept teaching us other stuff than mathematics. However, he kept everyone thoroughly entertained. When someone farted, everyone would rush to open the windows.

Fagging. I was the servant of the studyholder while in Repton. Carleton was an arrogant dude. I had to clean the place well every Sunday. Carleton would inspect our cleanings. He would purposely try to seek out any dust. The school had extremely complex rules for disciplining people. I became Wilberforce’s bog-seat warmer.

Games and Photography. I was exceptionally good at fives and squash-racquets. I was soon made captain of the Game ‘Five’. This made me more conspicuous among my peers. Being captain, it also entailed other duties. However, I was not Boazer material. School was fun especially since I was good at the games. Playing games made the days seem to pass faster. The other thing which interest me was photography. I often developed my negatives and then enlarged them. In the past, technology was not good and the photography business was challenging. I won trophies before.

Goodbye School. I got accepted into Imperial Chemicals. However, I wanted to work for Shell Company. I surprised myself and cleared the Shell interview despite intense competition. This would be followed with 2 years of intensively training. I enjoyed working in Shell. Later, I got posted to Egypt but I didn’t want to go. Later, they changed my posting to South Africa instead. I was 20 then. It would be a 3 year stint overseas. It was a wonderful experience. During the WWII in 1939, I joined the RAF to fight the war. This would be a tale for another time.

I began to realize how simple life could be if one had a regular routine to follow with fixed hours and a fixed salary and very little original thinking to do. The life of a writer is absolute hell compared with the life of a businessman. The writer has to force himself to work. He has to make his own hours and if he doesn’t go to his desk at all there is nobody to scold him. If he is a writer of fiction he lives in a world of fear. – Roald Dahl

It happens to be a fact that nearly every writer of fiction in the world drinks more whisky than is good for him. He does it to give himself faith, hope and courage. A person is a fool to become a writer. His only compensation is absolute freedom. He has no master except his own soul, and, I am sure, is why he does it. – Roald Dahl


In Watermelon Sugar by Richard Brautigan

In watermelon sugar the deeds were done and done again as my life is done in watermelon sugar.

I live near iDEATH. My shack is made from watermelon sugar. I was getting attuned to nature. There are watermelon fields nearby. Bridges, rivers, greenery all cover the landscape.

Margaret. Someone was at my door. I didn’t respond as I didn’t care. Finally, they left the house and crossed the bridge, making a sound.

My Name. I do not have a regular name. I am a mystery to you. I wished Margaret would leave me alone.

Fred. Fred came to my door and we chatted. He came from Watermelon Works and wanted me there tomorrow. Fred was my good buddy. Pauline would be cooking tonight. Fred took out an object and I didn’t know what it was too. Fred thought of showing it to Charley, who was knowledgeable. Fred didn’t step on the board, unlike Margaret.

Charley’s Idea. I started writing again. We were at Charley’s. I wrote about a lot of things. Something bad used to happen to inBOIL and its gang. I wrote about my life in watermelon sugar. I liked Pauline. Apparently, the Forgotten Works was a scary place, so was it piles.

Sundown. It was time for dinner. The Gentle Cricket. I made a statue of my deceased mum and a cricket a long time ago.

Lighting the Bridges. I ventured into the woods now. Old Chuck was about to light lanterns on the real and abandoned bridge. Even though he was ill, he wanted to occupy his time. The lanterns were shaped of a child and of a trout. Pauline made Old Chuck promise not to tell me what the dinner was.

iDEATH. I returned to my shack and there was no one there. Almost everyone was in the kitchen, including Charley, Fred and Pauline. Pauline was cooking stew. Her dress was made from watermelon sugar. People suspected Margaret of conspiring with the gang and didn’t like her.

The Tigers. Old Chuck feel asleep and dreamt that tigers were back again. However, they could play musical instruments. Pauline didn’t believe him.

More Conversation at IDEATH. I held Pauline’s hand. She was curious about my book. Fred found something in the Forgotten Works but didn’t show it.

A lot of good nights. Charley would spend the night with Pauline. Vegetables. It is a small town. Many statues suddenly appeared of plants and fruits. Everyone didn’t know what the statutes meant.

Margaret Again. I didn’t care how she felt. Pauline and Margaret were good friends and it was a pity to see them like that. Now, I headed to her shack.

Pauline’s Shack. Her shack was made of watermelon sugar. We rarely sleep at iDEATH. We made out in her shack.

The Tigers Again. We started talking about the tigers. In the past, people killed all the tigers. I was a little upset and headed for a long walk.

Arithmetic. Watermelon is cooked into sugar in the Watermelon works. The tigers ate my parents in the past. The tigers said they didn’t hurt children and they could talk. They admitted they had to eat to keep themselves alive. They helped me with my maths. Charley liked them too.

We’re awfully sorry we had to kill your parents and eat them. Please try to understand. We tigers are not evil. This is just a thing we have to do. – Tiger

I was now sleeping with Pauline again. A Lamb at False Dawn. Pauline liked to talk in her sleep. She smelt nice.

The Watermelon Sun. The air outside was dusty and grey. Each day, the sun would change colour and affect the watermelon skin. Pauline wanted to cook me breakfast after she woke up. We held hands.

Margaret Again, Again. Margaret was my ex. Margaret and Pauline used to be very close.

Strawberries. A girl left strawberries behind. She told Pauline where to get the best watermelons.

The Schoolteacher. Fred and I visited Watermelon Works to see the plank press. We chatted with a schoolteacher. He was interested in my book. During our conversation, Fred managed to connect with the children.

Under the Plank Press. We saw the factory process. Edgar and Pete worked in the place. They were making golden planks. We both crawled under the press and saw a bat hanging upside down.

Until Lunch. I joined Fred for lunch. The Tombs. I went to the river to see people putting in a new tomb. The Tomb Crew were at work. It was to be placed at the bottom of the river to bury the dead. In the past, tigers attacked and killed people. The trout were staring at the burial process.

The Grand Old Trout. The Grand Old Trout could be identified from its iDEATH batch. He liked to watch the tombs being placed in. I observed the trout.

Nine Things. I threw away a note Margaret left me. I started planting potato seeds in the garden. The tigers liked my statues.

Margaret Again, Again, Again. The board where Margaret used to step on was gone. A Nap. I decided to take a nap. I dreamt of the gang at inBOIL.

Whiskey. The gang lived near Forgotten Works. inBOIL hated living in iDEATH. A lot of digging was going on in the Forgotten Works. People who worked with them would be paid in whiskey.

Whiskey Again. inBOIL was a 50 year old man. Later he began mad for no reason. The Big Fight. Charley and inBOIL had a big fight one night. inBOIL’s laughter was too loud and he was drunk all the time. One day, he criticized iDEATH and wanted to leave. inBOIL was actually Charley’s brother.

Time. The men there were perpetually drunk. Margaret came to visit one day. She wanted to visit the Forgotten Works and poke around. She said the men were harmless. At that time, we were still in good terms.

The Bell. I was making a bell. Pauline was going to make us dinner.

The Forgotten Works. It is a huge place with no end in sight. Margaret and I explored the Forgotten Works.

A Conversation with Trash. We met inBOIL and chatted with him. All the men were very messed up. It was a massive place. In There. We were afraid of being lost. There were no plants or animals there at all. Later I saw an ice frozen thumb with a hump on it.

The Master of the Forgotten Works. Margaret had not found anything she liked yet. We continued following inBOIL. We climbed among the piles. Margaret smiled at him. The forgotten things were the size of inBOIL.

The Way Back. Margaret had a lot in her basket now. Margaret could sense I was mad at her.

Something is Going to Happen. Margaret continued heading to the Forgotten Works. Nowadays, she headed to the place herself. Why did she like to go there?

Rumours. inBOIL criticized the way things were at iDEATH. There were rumours that we were sissies. I confronted inBOIL. He and his gang were drunk and nonsensical as usual. The Way Back Again. Margaret thought the items were cute.

Dinner that Night. Everyone didn’t eat well because they were fearful of inBOIL. They were afraid of being killed. Pauline was a little suspicious.

Pauline Again. I was very upset at Margaret. Pauline painted a setting of iDEATH that was years ago. I was impressed by it.

Faces. I started towards my shack. We killed the last tiger and burned its body at iDEATH.

Shack. My lantern was lit by lighting watermelon-trout oil. The Girl with the Lantern. I caught a glimpse of a lantern faraway. It was a girl. I couldn’t make out who it was. I didn’t bother seeking her out to find out who she was.

Bacon. Margaret was not present at that time. Later, inBOIL was at the door and demanded to see everyone. As usual he was drunk. He demanded to visit the hatchery. Charley agreed.

You people think you know about iDEATH. You don’t know anything about it. We’re going to show you what iDEATH is really about. – inBOIL

An Exchange. Pauline was furious at the way inBOIL was. The Trout Hatchery. The hatchery was built after the last tiger was killed.

The tigers were the true meaning of iDEATH. Without the tigers there could be no iDEATH and you killed the tigers and so iDEATH went away, and you’ve lived here like a bunch of clucks ever since. I’m going to bring back iDEATH. – inBOIL

inBOIL’s death. He pulled out a knife. He cut off his thumb and threw it in the river. All of his gang did that. Later, inBOIL decided to cut off his nose. They all cut off their noses now. Pauline was mad with anger. Later, it would be their ears. The hatchery was filled with blood. Everyone was bleeding to death. inBOIL proclaimed: This is iDEATH. Finally, just before he died, he proclaimed that he was iDEATH.

Wheelbarrow. We all cleaned up the place. A Parade. We didn’t want the bodies in iDEATH. Pauline suggested bringing them to the Forgotten Works and burning them. Later, we all worked towards the Forgotten Works, and carried the bodies in the wagons.

Bluebells. Everyone was relieved that the gang was dead. I pressed my body against Pauline.

Margaret Again, Again, Again, Again. She suddenly appeared. Margaret couldn’t believe the gang was dead. She didn’t know a thing. Now, she appeared in utter shock.

Shack Fever. Charley lit the bodies. Later, the ashes were scattered in the wind.

I met Fred at a café. Fred and Doc were doing fine. We all ordered meat loaves. Apple Pie. Fred thought I was still mad at Margaret. She seemed heartbroken and upset over Pauline and I. I still suspected she had links with inBOIL.

The Way. I didn’t have motivation to write and headed to the Statue of Mirrors instead.

The Statue of Mirrors. I could see how everyone was doing from this statue. Margaret was crying. Later, she committed suicide.

The Grand Old Trout Again. Margaret was dead. The Grand Old Trout was staring at me. Later after a swirl of water, I could spot him anymore.

Getting Fred. Margaret hung herself from an apple tree. We wanted to let her brother know. The Wind Again. Fred wondered why she killed herself.

Margaret’s Brother. Fred and I informed him about her death. ‘It’s for the best. Nobody’s to blame. She had a broken heart.’ Margaret’s Brother. We went to pick up her body.

Necklace. We wrapped her in a bedspread that had iDEATH printed on it.

Couch. Pauline was sobbing profusely. It was clear she liked Margaret. Pauline felt a little guilty and thought that it was because she liked me and that made Margaret upset.

Margaret’s Room. The funeral would be held tomorrow morning. She would be buried and the tomb crew would assist. Her room would be bricked up and closed forever.

Bricks. We realized that her room was filled with things from the Forgotten Works. Her brother didn’t want to take anything and wanted the whole place bricked up. The forgotten things would be sealed off forever.

My Room. Pauline was undressed in my room.

The Girl with the Lantern Again. I had difficulty sleeping. I went for a walk. Since we were together, Pauline seldom went for a long walks with the lantern.

Margaret Again, Again, Again, Again, Again. I went to the hatchery to see Margaret’s body. The trout had difficulty sleeping.

Good Ham. Pauline cooked for us breakfast. It was the day of the funeral.

Escutcheon. It was the funeral now. Over 30 or 40 people came. We carried her body to the steps of iDEATH. The silence was deafening.

The Tomb Crew. The Tomb Crew sealed up the glass door of the tomb. We paid our proper respects.

The Dance. Everyone engaged in waltz to commemorate the event. We all started waltzing.

Their Instruments Playing. People from all over town came to dance. The musicians had their instruments ready.


The Defining Decade (Your 20s) by Meg Jay

Why your twenties matter and how to make the most of them now

This book is for people in their twenties. The author is a clinical psychologist who worked with people of that age group. This is the generation where things aren’t very stable. The twenties can be the most productive phase of your life.

What happens in your twenties will affect what your life will be like in the future. You can’t change as much in your life in your 30s. You should make use of your twenties.

Do not waste till you are 30 before you act. You may regret doing that. ‘The unlived life is not worth examining’. Kate had a difficult past and was affected by it. She was disappointed because she knew she wasted her twenties thus far. Times are changing and people are getting married later. Now, some people felt that it would be the wandering years. The problem with this is that they don’t start planning for their future. Short-term work and internships have replaced permanent jobs. A lot of them didn’t expect their twenties to be so difficult. You will find things harder to get going when you’re in your 30s. Everyone deserves to make the best use of their 20s. The book introduces the concept of identity capital. Learn to navigate your twenties well.

Identity Capital. Some people suffer an identity crisis at this stage of their lives. Sometimes, you need time to discover your true identity. Identity capital is a collection of your assets. These consists of both hard and soft skills that can be placed on a resume or not. After college, I went camping and on adventurous expeditions. The work was both meaningful and fun. You need to earn door-opening identity like a camping trip. Some underemployment creates skills that you can include in your resume. However, do not take too many small jobs which are part-time etc. Unemployment in your 20s might result in heavy drinking habits in your later years. Your wage growth occurs mostly in your early wage growth. Research indicates that salaries peak in our 40s. Take jobs with the most capital. Working at a coffeeshop had low capital. Use the capital to generate more for yourself.

That’s why I wish I had done more during the first few years out of college. I wish I had pushed myself to take some work leaps or a wider range of jobs. I wish I had experimented – with work – in a way I feel I can’t right now at almost thirty. I felt a lot of internal pressure to figure it out, but all the thinking I did was really debilitating and unproductive. The one thing I have learned is that you can’t think your way through life. The only way to figure out what to do is to do something. – Helen

Weak Ties. Learn to meet someone new etc. This book came about because of weak ties. Your urban tribe is a bunch of very close friends. Unfortunately many people do not interact with others outside their circle. Most of the jobs you will encounter come from people with weak ties. Birds of a feather flock together. This explains why homogenous cliques form. Weak ties expose us to new material. Weak ties encourage us to communicate more formally and professionally. Networking is actually a good thing. Have courage to call your friend. Weak ties and communication within your community are the key. If weak ties do favors for us, they start to like us more. If you want someone on your side, ask for a favour. This is the foot in the door strategy. One more favour may lead to bigger ones in future. Altruism is linked to happiness and better health. Make yourself interesting and relevant if you want to earn favours from others. Ask for a clearly defined favour. ‘A wise man makes his own luck’. Have the courage to approach your weak ties.

The Unthought Known. Uncertainty is always present. Don’t wait for someone to pick you up and direct you in a certain direction. Making choices is the key. The longer you wait, the less options will be available to you. The more choices you have, the more decision fatigue you will experience. Narrow down your choices to six at most. Look past at your past and achievements. Unthought knowns are things we know about ourselves but forgot somehow. We are afraid of disclosing this to anyone at all.

Not making choices isn’t safe. The consequences are just further away in time, like in your thirties or forties. – Meg Jay

My Life Should Look Better on Facebook. For many people, Facebook meant stalking others and looking at your friends. Judging happened and it was not pleasant. It is a way of keeping up with the times. They feel jealous over the success of others on Facebook. Everyone doesn’t post their troubles on FB. You can be too caught up with a particular image your parents want you to be. Goals are from within, shoulds are from the outside. Learn to focus on the task at hand and don’t bother about anything else.

The Customized Life. Some youth don’t want a 9 to 5 job. They want to have a distinctive life. Difference is what gives our lives some meaning. However, it is easy to want to be different. Having a positive identity is much harder. Learn to be affirmative instead. Start to work on your resume when you are young. Ian owned a custom bike. That gave me a clue about what he wanted in life. However, even a customized bike has its own common parts with other bikes. You need a good story in your life. Spin a story on your interests and talents. How does your past story relate to what you want in future. Create a shaper narrative and sound convincing.

This is how it’s done. This is how it starts. Claiming a career or getting a good job isn’t the end; it’s the beginning. And, then, there is still a lot more to know and a lot more to do. – Meg Jay

Society is structured to distract people from the decisions that have a huge impact on happiness in order to focus attention on the decisions that have a marginal impact on happiness. The most important decision any of us make is who we marry. Yet there are no courses on how to choose a spouse. – David Brooks

Love: An Upmarket Conversation. Your 20s are when you will spend time alone. The marriage age is increasing for developed nations. A divorce is extremely painful and will haunt you in future. There are actually many people who want to settle down. Divorces can lead to massive unhappiness. According to research, getting married late ain’t the best option. Once at 30, singles start to panic. The moral of the story is to take all your relationships seriously. Start thinking about marriage in your 20s. Start planning early. Be choosy about the right things in your 20s.

Dating for me in my 20s was like this musical chairs thing. Everybody was running around and having fun. Then I hit 30 and it was like the music stopped and everybody started sitting down. I didn’t want to be the only one left without a chair. – Cathy

Picking Your Family. Things start and end with the family. Successful people brim with confidence. Some successful youth are good at hiding their troubles. Emma felt lonely and her parents were undergoing a difficult time. Friends can only do that much. Families are more important. Sometimes, you need a new family. She also had a difficult relationship with her boyfriend. She also didn’t like how unambitious her boyfriend’s parents were. Learn to partner someone else. Later, she ended the relationship. You must take love as seriously as work. Marriage is a commitment between 2 individuals. If you have a broken family, learn to create a better one in future.

The Cohabitation Effect. In psychotherapy, slowing down your thinking helps. Cohabitation is becoming more common. Many people thought moving in together before marriage would be a good idea. However, according to research, doing this is bad and leads to higher divorce rates. Why doesn’t it work? The problem was that most people didn’t consider it carefully before doing it. People have different agendas during cohabitation as well. Everything tends to appear fuzzy at this stage. However, if couples are engaged and then subsequently cohabit, there are no divorce rates. Do not enter seemingly low-cost and low-risk situations where you can’t get out subsequently. Switching costs are involved and can be very large. After you are 30, the switching costs are even higher. Divorce seems like a big thing for those in their 20s. It is better to get clear on a person’s commitment level before cohabiting.

It is the couples who live together before being clearly and mutually committed to each other who are more likely to experience poorer communication, lower levels of commitment to the relationship, and greater marital instability down the road. – Meg Jay

On Dating Down. Do not simply accept anyone when dating. You must suffer a lot of emotional trauma if you do that. Many people have some form of self-cure. For instance, one could listen to angry, hurtful songs. Psychologists find it difficult to cure this. Your coping strategies might cause you to be even more alone. Your iPod can’t be your best friend. Some people engage in such behaviour because they are lonely. The patient felt desperate and wanted to have sex. In our 20s, we have the most self-defining memories. Stories become part of our identity. Write a good story and edit it such that it will sound good. Think about what you want in a partner. Revise your own story.

If someone doesn’t want me, I feel awful. My confidence goes down. If there isn’t a guy in my life, it’s like a desert to me. Each person who wants me feels like an oasis. Like maybe this will be the last person to want me. I feel like I have to drink up. I have to take whatever I can get. If I don’t find someone, I view it as being rejected by everyone. – Cathy

What counts in making a happy marriage is not so much how compatible you are, but how you deal with incompatibility. – Leo Tolstoy

By this I mean 2 things: being alike in ways that matter and genuinely liking who the other person is. Often these go hand in hand. That is because the more similar two people are, the more they are able to understand each other. – Meg Jay

Being In Like. Compatibility is a good thing to have. Travelling to a third world country together with your spouse is indeed very thrilling. However, education and background are not the true similarities. These are deal breakers, not deal makers. They may bring couples together, but it won’t guarantee happiness. Instead, one should consider personality. There are Big 5 personality profiles. They are ‘Openness, Conscientiousness, Extraversion, Agreeableness, Neuroticism’. For every one of them, there are various levels (low, medium, high). There are no right or wrong personalities. Personality convergence is possible after hanging out with each other for a long time. However, this rarely happens. Neuroticism is an accurate predictor of relationship unhappiness. What people wants from marriage change over time.

The same way you make any decision. You weigh the evidence and listen to yourself. The trick is going to be to listen to what matters, not every single thing that makes you dissatisfied or anxious. – Meg Jay

The more you use your brain, the more brain you have to use. – George A. Dorsey

The Brain and the Body: Forward Thinking. Patients with frontal lobe damage have reduced ability to interact and make social connections. The frontal lobe is only mature in our 30s. Forward thinking comes with practice and experiment. Large social networks change our brains for the better. You must fully utilize your brain in your 20s. It is time to get busy now.

Calm Yourself. People in their 20s are too excited and do not possess the right protocol for work. They need to calm themselves down. People tend to remember better bizarre incidents and emotional events. Creating flashbulb memories are important in your 20s. The brain, at this stage, is also more prone to negative information. With age, comes the positive effect. Quitting your job isn’t always the best solution to a problem. Do anything not to get that blitz feeling. Constant worrying will lead to negative thoughts. You can control your reaction to a situation. Re-evaluate situations based on the facts. Learn to take control over your emotions.

Inaction breeds fear and doubt. Action breeds confidence and courage. If you want to conquer fear, do not sit home and think about it. Go out and get busy. – Dale Carnegie

Outside In. Believe in a growth instead of a fixed mindset. A fixed mindset will affect your success levels in future. Confidence comes from the outside. It comes from mastery. Confidence comes after demonstrating that you could do the job effectively many times. People build resilience after overcoming difficulties and setbacks. The book talks about the 10,000 hours concept. It takes time to be good at something. You need feedback to improve yourself. You can fall in love and have a good job. It does not have to be mutually exclusive.

Getting Along and Getting Ahead. Most people’s personalities are fixed by 30. 20s are the best time for change. Employed people are happier than those who are unemployed. You need to invest in yourself to feel better. Even having simpler goals makes one happier. Your goals help to shape your personality. Learn to manage your emotions. Being single in your 20s can have detrimental effects in your 30s as well.

Every Body. People are having children at a later age. Educated parents are beneficial for the bringing up of children. There are an increasing number of women in the workplace. Many people in their late 20s want to have a kid. The biological clock will tick inside you. Older sperms might be linked to neurocognitive problems in future. Learn to decide at an earlier stage of your life. Fertility is highest when one is in their 20s. Egg quality decreases over time. You have to have sex for longer periods of time to increase the chances of having a baby in future. Fertility clinics are very expensive and have low chances of success. IVF is risky as well. Many people grief because they wanted a kid too late in their lives. Postponing marriage and children might lead to more stressful lives.

To achieve great things, two things are needed: a plan, and not quite enough time – Leonard Bernstein

Do The Math. Time flies and sometimes you wonder where did it all disappear too. Retirement planning is never on the cards for those in their 20s. People tend to value the present over the future and they save too little. People in their 20s are prone to present bias. Learn to write the last sentence of your life and then work backwards to determine what you should do.

Epilogue: Will Things Work Out for Me? Prepare and know as much about adulthood as you can. People in their 20s want to feel important and that what they do matters.

The future isn’t written in the stars. There are no guarantees. So claim your adulthood. Be intentional. Get to work. Pick your family. Do the math. Make your own certainty. Don’t be defined by what you didn’t know or didn’t do. You are deciding your life right now. – Meg Jay


Success With Landscape Photography by Tom Till

I (Tom Till) was seeking a good spot for photography alongside Norway fjord. Soon, I realized that a vantage point on a cliff provided me with the best view. I have been in photography for over 30 years and it has took me to many exotic places. This book seeks to improve your landscape photography skills. Landscape photography requires luck and the longer the time you spend on the field, the better your chances will be. Earth can indeed a very beautiful place.

Equipment for the Landscape Photographer. Some cameras can keep both the foreground and background in extremely sharp focus. There will always be a market for film photography. However, digital photography has kept pace in terms of development. Most landscape photographer carry a bulky 4*5 camera. A good tripod and graduated neutral density filters are key too. Weigh the pros and cons between film and digital cameras (example DSLR). Digital 35mm is also a good option to consider. For large prints, the 4*5 camera is the way to go. Compacts are good for first timers who do not care about technology. DSLRs 35mm are great for capturing fleeting moments. You can’t change the lens on a compact as well. A high FPS is not necessary and an SLR (film or digital) will do the trick. Nikon AF lens can work with both digital and analogue cameras. Mega pixels matter in landscape photography. People should consider the medium-format cameras. For lightning, I use a 6*7 camera, with 400 ISO and leave the shuttle open for a few minutes, while trying as close to the lightning as possible. For panoramic shots, use a 6*17. Some people can stitch different photos together to create a panoramic shot. 4*5 cameras provide incredible clarity. It is the pinnacle of landscape photography. The aim is to make the photo as realistic as possible. The back tilt is one of the strategies. For hand held shooting, I recommend the wide-angles over longer lenses. For 35mm users, try to get ED, zoom lenses, lenses with stabilization control, lenses with broad focal-length range. Wide angle lenses are popular for landscape photography. It is important to find a good backdrop as the foreground. Normal lenses are 50mm for 35mm, 90mm for 6*7 and 210mm for 4*5. Telephoto lens tend to compress distance. For these, try to use a high megapixel 35mm camera. Zoom lenses are multiple focal-length lenses and is useful. You can even get telephoto, wide angle and normal views in one lens. If you are not going to use a tripod, use a stabilizing lens. Use aircompressors etc to clean off dust. Use neutral GNDs. Filters are a big part of landscape photography. The GND is supposed to block bright areas of the scene. Filters can be approximated in the lightroom. Use at least a three stop filter. Use a blue polarizer to accentuate blue. Use warm filters if you want colour filters. Try polarizing filters too as they will bring out sky colours and shiny, colourful subjects. Spend on a tripod. Wear state of the art clothing to protect you from the cold, if necessary. Look out for weather forecasts etc.

Techniques for Landscape. You must get up early to work. You need good lighting even though you have the right technique. It’s about marrying craft and technology. Constant practice and shooting is the key to success. Fleeting moments can be captured that way. It is important to learn how aperture works. A small aperture (big number) seeks to create sharp focus from near to far. A smaller aperture lets less light in and must be compensated by a longer shuttle speed to get the right exposure. SLRs have great light metering systems. Many professionals bracket their exposures. Histograms can determine whether your light exposure is accurate. A graph skewed to the left indicates underexposure while a one skewed to the right indicates overexposure. Try to use RAW images where possible. High f-stops are needed to get the best depth of field. Find the right point of focus to get the best depth of field. For shots requiring little depth of field, autofocus is fine. Aperture is lot more important than shuttle speed in landscape photography. A lower ISO is ideal in landscape photography

Light is the Main Ingredient. Light is extremely important for landscape photography. You must understand the qualities of natural light. The best lighting is side lighting. The best photos can be taken just after sunrise and just before sunset. Clouds can be used as subjects too. A cloudy day provides better opportunities. Learn to study cloud movements. Buttermilk clouds are perfect. If you want light but there is none, wait for it. In a forest, cloud cover is good as sunlight will enter in many areas and spoil the photo. Fog, trees and sunlight can create a pleasant, mysterious combination. Use rainbows to elevate a great scene. Use a polarizing filter to brighten the rainbow.

Composition for Landscape. Fill the frame with pattern all along. Use the rule of thirds. Sometimes, shadows will affect your work. Lead-in lines help provide better perspective on photos. An example of lead-in lines would be sand dunes. Find a great near/far combo for maximum field of depth photography. Shoot frames within frames. Use people to create a sense of scale in the photograph. White clouds are distracting because people’s attention will be drawn to them. Look for diagonal lines or S-curves as they are pleasing to the eye.

In the Field. You have to love nature to thrive at landscape photography. Check the weather forecast before leaving your home. Some places require local guides. Lookout for photo guidebooks as well. You may sometimes have to return to the same place much later to get a great shot. Use a GPD so you won’t get lost.

Earth’s Amazing Landscapes. The coast are a great area for landscape photography. The sun can be part of the composition too. Waterfalls make great subjects. So do mountains, rivers, autumn leaves etc. Lakes can provide a source of photography. Deserts are also a great place to work. Be careful of sand in your camera lens. Clean your equipment and make sure that it does not come into contact with sea water. Get a water resistant backpack for jungle photography and remember to slap on repellent. Mountains are amazing for photography as well. You can hire llamas to lug your camera equipment. You may need a 4-wheel drive for snow photography. It may be very slippery and dangerous. Fogged lens are a problem. Autumn photography is very popular among professionals. Floral landscapes are also very attractive. For historical sites and landscapes, you need to negotiate with the ranger there.

Landscape in the Digital Darkroom. Analogue to digital workflow: Image Created à Image Developed à Inage Edited à Image Cleaned à Image Editorialized à Film Mounted, Labelled, Filed à Metadata and Keywords Added à Image Added to DSL à Image added to Archival Library at Highest Resolution à Image Added to Backup discs. You can get colorimeters for your printers. Adobe Lightroom is a great tool to use. People have said that the purity of landscape photography is in jeopardy because of digital technology. Lightroom has the ability to process many images at once. Lightroom can save photos that are over and under-exposed. The fill light control can work wonders. There are also brightness and contrast sliders. You can also edit the white balance and vibrance and saturation. There are also sliders to reduce noise. Sharpening images is also possible. However, an out-of-focus image cannot be saved. Photoshop allows you to stitch photos and create panoramas. HDR can address problems when there are a huge range of light values in one image. Using the grayscale function can create black and white photos.

The Next Steps. There are many peripheral benefits of being a professional photographer. Examples include an improvement in mental and physical well-being. Work to please yourself and hope that your work will be accepted by others. Learn marketing and computing/business classes. Join a professional group. Find a mentor. Keep practicing. Have fun along the way. You can consider self-publishing as well. However this is risky if you can’t sell the book. Focus on a particular area for your book. If you are lucky, you may be asked to do assignments outdoor. Starting a gallery is one option but the rental is likely to be expensive. You can diversify your business by teaching workshops, guide other photographers, sell your computer skills etc. Some of the photography equipment might be deductible for tax purposes if you are a professional. You will also need to set up a blog or website to market yourself. Not many people are landscape photographers because of the fact that it is time consuming and has high initial costs. You need to learn to face rejection.

The Art of Landscape Photography. Look at the work of masters and study them. Understand the history of the industry. Your photos should be able to tell stories. Photography allows spontaneity and this is very important. Always try and shoot things from a different angle and not simply copy others. Do not keep going to the same places. You must also be willing to embrace hiccups in your journey. You must be aggressive and hungry to learn during photography workshops. Don’t simply go through the motion in courses.

The Life of a Landscape Photographer. Being physically fit is necessary for the job. You must also get up early. The bulk of the job involves hiking. You might even have to camp at one location to get the best shot. It is important to respect the rules of the place and not to litter etc. Keep abreast of the latest technology in the industry.

A thing of beauty is a joy forever, and a photograph of that beauty is an important reminder to others of what we hope to leave for our children. Best of luck for photography – and be there. – Tom Till

success with landscape photography