Sunday, June 25, 2006

He that counts all costs will never put plough to earth.

Our agricultural forebears would have known the literal wisdom of this observation. Today it might apply to starting a business where looking at all the things that might go wrong would put you off. At some point it is necessary for most undertakings to assess the risk and be prepared to accept that though there is a reasonable chance of success a possibility of failure exists. No enterprise is a sure thing we must have a little courage and accept the costs and problems that come along.

Due to time pressures this blog will change from daily to weekly.

Saturday, June 24, 2006

None so well shod but they may slip.

You can take all the right precautions but the unexpected can take you by surprise. This sounds like an advert for insurance and it is an awareness of unlikely accidents that presumably motivates most people to consider a suitable policy. In the modern world where we rely on our computers this leads us to think of the importance of keeping good backup. Expecting the unexpected constantly could drive a person to a nervous breakdown so common sense is required. The worst rarely happens but some sensible precautions can give peace of mind.

Friday, June 23, 2006

A whet is no let

This is a saying our agricultural ancestors would have understood. Stopping to sharpen the scythe with a whetstone increases cutting efficiency and boosts production. How many times in our lives do we struggle on with the equivalent of a blunt scythe? An old computer with a clogged hard drive or out of date software reduces our production in the same way great granddad might have hashed away with his blunt scythe. Taking the time to review your working efficiency and improve it could mean an overall gain. So don't swear at your tools - find the equivalent of a whetstone and make them sharp again.

A whetstone?

Thursday, June 22, 2006

A beard well lathered is half shaved.

Literally this is perfectly true as anyone who has had to shave without soap will testify. Here we are being counselled to follow the Boy Scout motto of "Be Prepared" The importance of good preparation in all walks of life cannot be over stressed. If you acquire the correct information, clean and sharpen your tools, have all the materials you need to hand, and work to a methodical, well thought out plan, any job should go smoothly and efficiently. This applies in the practical world as well as the realms of intellectual endeavour.

Record keeping helps efficiency:

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

The dog gnaws the bone because he cannot swallow it.

A first sight this seems so obvious that it is hardly worth stating but as usual with proverbs there is more to it than meets the eye. When a job, task or problem is too great the thing to do is to break it down to its component parts and deal with them bit by bit. Another saying echoing this idea is "Don't bite off more than you can chew". If you have ever been confronted by a mountain of work and left it alone because it seemed so overwhelming you need to learn to "gnaw" at it. Each part is probably fairly easy and with a regular systematic approach the job will soon be done. As the Scots say: "Many a mickle maks a muckle."

Keep track of your bones?

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

He that is too secure is not .

This is a warning against complacency. If everything in your life is going along quite happily you forget that there are many dangers and difficulties lurking in the background. A spell of excellent weather leads to an assumption that the next day will be the same as the last. If your old reliable car has never given any trouble you get to assuming that it will always start. If there has never been a burglary in your neighbourhood you stop thinking of the possibility. It is therefore a good practice to give some thought to things going wrong and be prepared for the eventuality. It doesn't do to go over the top and worry about every little thing - sensible precautions looked over regularly will bring peace of mind and more real security.

Looking after your PC:

Monday, June 19, 2006

A friend's frown is better than a fool's smile.

When someone smiles we take it as a sign that they are well inclined towards us and this usually makes us happy. Frowns have the opposite effect. Smiles are encouraging, frowns discouraging. A fool's smile might therefore encourage us to do the wrong thing and a friend's frown might discourage us from the wrong thing. Recognising life's cues and signals and judging them correctly helps to sort the successful from the failures. Good advice, even if it isn't what you want to hear, is better than bad advice or encouragement which is going to lead you astray. So when your friends frown pay heed or the fools will end up laughing at you.

Designed to make you smile:

Sunday, June 18, 2006

The fool wanders far, the wise man travels.

To get where you want to be it is a good thing to know the route and to plan your journey. Aimless wandering might enable you to stumble across a suitable place but it is a highly inefficient method. Journeys are not just travel across the globe, we make many journeys in life: from birth to death, from ignorance to wisdom, from poverty to riches, from loneliness to love. This proverb tells us to be methodical, find a "map" and seek good counsel before embarking on any of life's journeys. Having noted all that, a life without a little aimless wandering would perhaps be a bit boring; after all some of the best discoveries in science and elsewhere have come by chance but the prepared mind can spot their value and take action.

For garden jouneys:

Saturday, June 17, 2006

He that stumbles and falls not, mends his pace.

This is all about learning from experience. Most young people who have passed their driving test will have a scary moment - perhaps cornering too quickly and losing control. This, at worst, can result in a fatality but hopefully it is just sufficient to give them a good fright from which they learn a very real lesson. Humans, as well as other animals, tend to learn from actual examples - does anyone ever understand that fire burns just by being told? Metaphorically people can "burn their fingers" in many ways: rash stock market investment, dangerous sports, failed business ventures, soured relationships - an endless list. The important thing is to learn from experience and grow wise before a real disaster gets you. If you stumble, mend your pace!

Improve the pace of your PC

Friday, June 16, 2006

Light your lamp before it becomes dark.

This Arabic proverb echoes the basic idea of many other sayings that urge us to be prepared for eventualities. Try fumbling around in the dark for your flint and tinder and you would soon understand the wisdom of this. Good planning and preparation are essential for a well ordered life. "Have not your cloak to make when it starts to rain" covers the same idea. Like all proverbs it has other depths of meaning. On a spiritual plane we are being cautioned to prepare ourselves for death whilst the light of life still burns. On a practical level this might lead you to make a will so that your wishes are followed rather than leaving a mess for expensive lawyers to sort out. "A little forethought saves much afterthought" so make a habit of lighting your lamp before it is dark.

"You are nearest to God in a garden"

Thursday, June 15, 2006

Fall not out with a friend for a trifle.

Have you ever fallen out with a friend over a silly argument and found yourself in a vicious spiral? When love turns to hate it can be particularly venomous. If you see that this is about to happen it might pay you to consider apologising if you were at fault and even if you were not it could be better to make a sacrifice and accept the blame in order to protect a friendship that is worth preserving - that is a heroic thing to do. The power of Christianity and other great religions often comes from an innocent taking the sins of others on their shoulders - that is true courage and will eventually win respect.

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

A disease known is half cured.

If you know what you are dealing with you can then spend energy on hunting the solution. This applies in medicine but also in other walks of life where problems must be solved. In an exam many students who know the answer cannot give it because they don't understand the question. Focus your attention on getting a clear grasp of any problem that confronts you and with that squarely in mind you will begin to see where to look for answers.

Cure your PC problems:

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

The lower millstone grinds as well as the upper.

The top dog in any organisation might think that he is the most important person there but without his subordinates he would be impotent. This saying is reminding us that most successes are made from team work and all levels of an group contribute to the overall achievement. It encourages mutual respect for the participants of any combination of peoples for a common goal. So don't grind your workers underfoot learn to grind together and there will be plenty of flour for all.

See how your PC grinds:

Monday, June 12, 2006

The eye is bigger than the belly

No, this is not describing a circus freak show from a bygone age, we deal here with the human instinct to overindulge. Everyone learns in infancy that cramming in too much food results in sickness and pain but do we learn? Usually for a while we are wiser but the temptation slips back in as the memory of painful spewing retreats. Over indulgence is not confined just to food - humans, given the chance, will drink to excess, gamble to ruination or accumulate wealth to obscene unnecessary lengths. The problem is we don't know when to stop. The acquisition instinct seems to be powered by our imaginations and sense of insecurity. Self-discipline is a desirable trait to develop but most people seem to need pain or fear to remind them of the folly of overdoing it. "A little of what you fancy does you good" but don't let your eye get bigger than your belly.

For an overindulgent PC

Sunday, June 11, 2006

To spare at the spigot and let run at the bung.

Carefully measuring off wine at the tap whilst it is has an unchecked, leaky bung is an obvious folly but how many times do we do the equivalent without noticing? Are you penny wise and pound foolish? Do you fuss a lot with minor detail and ignore major problems lurking in the background? The general who prides himself on the appearance of his troops but neglects to train them in their core skills will lose the battle. The businessman who constantly counts his money but neglects to get customers in and sell will go bust. There is a need to keep things in proportion and take an overall view of your activities. Are you focussing on the right areas? Are their growing problems developing in the background? By all means be spare at the spigot but watch out for that leaking bung!

Are you leaking PC power?

Saturday, June 10, 2006

The last drop makes the cup run over.

This is a variant on "The last straw breaks the camel's back" and reminds us that everyone has a breaking point. Some people boil over at the least irritant and some patiently put up with hassle upon hassle but eventually they too will snap. Recognising a looming problem before it actually occurs is a good life skill - a wise person will take action before the storm breaks. If you are on the receiving end, giving some kind of signal that you are being put upon and that you are likely to do something about it will alert a sensible manager or spouse etc. who might then change their ways. If you are the source of someone's irritation consider heading off trouble by thinking ahead and mending your ways before the last drop makes the cup run over.

If your PC's near its last drop:

Friday, June 09, 2006

No point in crying over spilt milk.

You can't scrape it up and put it back in the pail! All you can do is resolve to be more careful in future. There are many life situations where things go wrong and there is nothing you can do about it. Some people waste too much time grieving over loss when it would be better to direct their energies in a more positive manner. It would not be human just to shrug and get on with it. We seem to need some expression of grief or anger when things go wrong. After all, is there any language that hasn't got some swear words - expletives that help to release tensions and communicate to others the strength of our feelings? Perhaps the saying should be modified to: "No point in crying over spilt milk, just have a good swear and get on with life"!

For dealing with your spilt milk!

Thursday, June 08, 2006

There are as good fish in the sea as ever came out of it

Environmentalists and conservationists might take issue with this old saying in our age of over fishing and depleted stocks. This is a variant of "There are plenty more fish in the sea". Often used to console a jilted lover, this is an encouragement for people to stop wailing about loss and get back to putting in the effort to replace what has gone with something as good or better. "Men should not wail their loss but cheerily seek how to redress their harm" covers much the same idea. An earnest counsellor might add "Where there's a will there's a way" or "Think positively". After all "Nothing succeeds like success!".

Don't moan about your PC - do something!

Wednesday, June 07, 2006

Don't bite off more than you can chew.

Stressed out? overworked? Sound familiar? Perhaps this saying applies to you. Taking on more than you can cope with is a constant temptation. Perhaps you are a working mother juggling work schedules and school runs and ending the day exhausted. Perhaps you are self-employed, running your own business with a need for 25 hours in the day. The answer might be to sit down and examine everything you do and start looking for time efficiencies. If you are the obliging sort and always try to help others perhaps you need to learn to say no. Working yourself ill brings no one any benefit - you have a duty to look after yourself. Just say: "Sorry, I've already bitten off more than I can chew!".

Garden Memories

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

The cow must browse where she is tied.

We are all limited by our circumstances. In theory humans have freewill and can make their own choices but often we are tethered to a situation by an invisible rope. You could leave your boring job but will you find an alternative? You could abandon your restrictive family ties and emigrate to a new land but will you be happy? Brave or foolhardy souls will sometimes cut the ties that hold them and run off to pastures new. Sometimes they prosper and create envy in those locked in to their situation. Other times they come to grief giving some reassurance to the stay-at-homes that despite its shortcomings staying put is the best option. You makes your choice!

Garden Journal etc..

Monday, June 05, 2006

A journey of a thousand miles begins with one step.

Literally true and an encouragement to get off your butt and get on with it. Procrastination - finding excuses to avoid starting something - is a human trait. If we leaped enthusiastically into every situation we would be exhausted therefore making choices is important. However, if we are too indecisive we can end up like Shakespeare's Hamlet, all thinking and no action: "To be or not to be, that is the question. Whether it is nobler in the mind to suffer the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune or to take arms against a sea of troubles and by opposing end them." You have to make your decision and then take the first step on what might be a long road - so "put your best foot forward" and off you go.


Sunday, June 04, 2006

The dog that trots about finds a bone.

This is an old Gipsy saying and in a nomadic lifestyle where food and useful things have to be sought this makes a lot of sense. It is an encouragement to put in the effort and seek what you need. Success rarely comes to those who sit and day dream about it. The mind that seeks a discovery must be active and hunt for solutions. The songwriter who wants a hit must be busy about his writing and making contacts - ferreting out the news and discovering the facts. The businessman must do the same - anyone looking for success must "get on their bike". There is also a suggestion that just by getting about, even if you are not actively seeking, there is a reasonable probability you will come across something worthwhile.

Bury your bones here!

Saturday, June 03, 2006

Always at it wins the day

This is an old proverb which might have modern connotations not thought of then. Basically it is saying that persistence and hard work pays off in the end. Many people dream of success and then go out and buy a lottery ticket - they might be lucky but it could be a very long wait. The most certain way to success is to apply yourself to a situation that has potential, learn everything you need to know and put in steady hours for as long as it takes. Most people prefer the easy options and most people have to either get lucky or be content with their daydreams.

Friday, June 02, 2006

All's fair in love and war

This must have been an excuse for many a wicked deed. People in love can verge on the irrational and might do things they would never ordinarily contemplate. Doing something unethical could of course rebound on the doer if the loved one (or rival) found out and didn't like it. In war there are rules and conventions but if they are ignored and you are on the losing side you could pay dearly. Love and war are strongly competitive situations and this saying indicates the intensity of an involvement that brings out the best and the worst of those concerned.

Thursday, June 01, 2006

Good kail is half a meal

Kail or kale is a hardy vegetable that supplies many vitamins and is good for health though not all that palatable to many tastes. It was once a standard crop in Scottish gardens where it stood up to the climate well and gave its name to a homely style of writing "kailyard". This saying seems to tell us that the basics of life can usually be got but the luxuries require more effort. It also suggests not despising the ordinary, perhaps echoing the saying, "Never despise the bridge that carried you over".

Keen gardeners might like to look at this:

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