60 Minutes – Excellent interview with British writer, David Cornwell (aka John le Carré)

IMG_2592Calling all spy/espionage fans! Have you read any “John le  Carré” books? Did you know that the John le Carré books are really written by a British author named, “David John Moore Cornwell?” That was news to me.

60 Minutes had an interview with David Cornwell. Writers are always told, “write what you know.” That is exactly what Cornwell did. First, some background on his father. His childhood had a rocky start. His mother abandoned him at five years old, so he was raised by his father. Cornwell’s father was a charming conman and it appears lived life in the fast line. One day they were well off, the next they were bankrupt and poor, with his father even landing in jail. Cornwell said this taught him a lot about people, life and keeping secrets.

Next, his spy/espionage background came in the 1950s and 1960s when he found a job with the British Secret Service. He was fluent in German and worked for MI5 and MI6 (foreign intelligence service) where he ran agents, was responsible for interrogations, the normal telephone tapping and more. This, you can imagine, gave him some great background material for writing spy novels.

He needed a pen name for his books. Working for the Secret Service meant his books needed to be approved before being published. Once approved, the condition was to acquire a pen name — John le Carré was born!

In the interview he showed his office and discussed how he does research for his books. He handwrites his books and his wife, editor, transcribes them for him. She runs the business side, which allows him to focus on writing. When he travels he has a journal and writes what comes to his mind.

At 85, he has quite a personal story to tell. A few of his books have been turned into films/BBC TV shows, maybe you know, “The Spy Who Came in From the Cold,” “Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy,” and/or “A Perfect Spy.”

Cornwell is promoting his latest book, “A Legacy of Spies.” I have some catching up to do reading-wise, so that I know the background on his character, “George Smiley!”

I bet these books are great in audio! If you are already a fan, which book was your favorite?

Seattle -> London, a Librarian sets up an Elementray School Library (books for children)

 

As I am writing a children’s picture book, I have to do research. While my degree is in Elementary Education, I went into business after College. I know, you’re thinking, WHY did you do that. Good question.

Just kidding, it was not lack of effort. Life happens — I moved to California to get married, it was February, I sent out 200 applications for teaching positions, took the CBEST test for licensing, but could not find a job. Nothing! Teaching was not my destiny at the time.

So, I found a job as a Technical Writer. I know, again, you’re thinking, “HOW did that happen?” A twist of fate. I was terrified on my first day. I knew nothing about technical writing. Turns out, I did not need to be technical. I needed to be “smart” and ask the engineers a lot of questions, so I could turn their scribbles into a User Manual. I enjoyed working with the engineers. My biggest question was, “What did you mean by this?

Fast forward to 2015, my heart was “still” with elementary education. I was getting closer to following my passion of writing a children’s book, I had made it to the “research stage.”

One day, clicking here and there, I came across a wonderful Blog called, “LibrarianArika.” I needed to better understand the children’s picture book market AND every week Ms Arika was sharing books she had read, giving her review and sharing lesson plan ideas too.

THEN came the DREADED post: I’M MOVING TO LONDON!

My heart sunk. Did that mean Ms Arika was going to quit writing?

No, she’s back stronger than ever!

Always wanting to teach, she decided to Skype with her old classroom in Seattle, so they could see London (virtual field trip). She wrote a detailed post on that called, “Bringing Literature to Life with Skype.” She used the Harry Potter books for this.

Ms Arika found a Librarian job in her children’s International school in London. In this post, she shares how she was setting up the Library for the start of school, “Week 1 in a new Library: the behind-the-scenes work.” You’ll be amazed at how much she had to do, I was.

I’m excited that she is back! She’s an excellent Librarian and I know her students will one day say, “Remember when Ms Arika read (insert book name) !” What a great feeling that will be!

I still remember my 4th grade teacher, Mrs Landrum, reading “Charlotte’s Web.” Teachers/Librarians have a big impact on our lives! A big thank you to ALL of them!

Vision boards, scrap books, ART… What inspires YOU?

IMG_2548Fall is here, days are getting shorter. I had a pile of magazines to go through this weekend. I decided to work on my vison board.

First picture, what a find! I saw an advertisement selling computers. It popped in my mind that Brilliant Viewpoint is always on “my computer screen,” so I clipped that out. Then, I found, “Set Your Sights: Choose your path and focus on what matters.”

Clip, clip, snip, snip – page created!

Next, drawing. I’m not an artist, but found a video that gave instructions on drawing birds. NOTE: It did take a few tries to get this end result. Into the scrap book.

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I worked in advertising, so I was ALWAYS looking at ads, story headings–anything/anywhere it would catch my attention and I would think, “Ah, I love that! I need to add that phrase to my book.”

Next time you are in a dentist office, shopping mall, library — LOOK, SEE and READ what is around you. I bet you’ll wish you had your scissors handy, because your mind will visualize a NEW inspirational scrapbook page, like this one:

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The beauty of a vision board/scrap book is that it is YOURS!

What inspires you? Take it to the next step…

I read that a dream, is just that — a dream, but a dream written down with a date, NOW that becomes a GOAL! Take the goal and list the steps to get there, NOW you have a PLAN. Work the plan to completion, NOW you have fulfilled your DREAM!

SIMPLE… RIGHT?!

Movie review: “The Founder,” story about McDonald’s (on Netflix)

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Well, I am still in shock after watching the movie, “The Founder,” which tells the story of how McDonald’s (hamburgers, you know) got started. It was an excellent movie, I was at the edge of my seat the entire time shaking my head and thinking, “This is HOW McDonald’s got started and grew??” I had no idea!

As a child, McDonald’s was the place with the “golden arches” and the great hamburgers/french fries. By the way, how do you spell “french fry?” Capital “F” in French? I see it spelled both upper case/lower case “F.” I bet the Chicago Manual of Style would have an answer on that.

Back to the movie review.  WHO has seen the movie??

If you haven’t seen it, I hate to give the story away, but I do need to give a little review. The main actor, Michael Keaton, who we know from the Batman movies plays McDonald’s founder, Ray Kroc. Keaton was incredible, clearly he enjoyed his role as a crook! In fact, it occurred to me that Keaton went from playing the noble Batman to being the villainous Joker in this movie!

IMG_2539Why was Ray Kroc a crook? Simple, Kroc took someone else’s company/idea and made it his own. Now, this is a bit challenging. The two brothers, Richard and Maurice McDonald, who created McDonald’s were really “nice guys.” The emphasis is on “nice.” They KNEW how to create, but they didn’t know how to build beyond one restaurant. They hesitated to take risks. There is one great scene in the movie that shows “HOW” the brothers created the assembly line in McDonald’s. Wonderful to watch an idea becoming reality.

Enter Ray Kroc! Now, clearly this guy was driven to make money and he was a visionary! He envisioned the “Golden Arches” everywhere and HE made McDonald’s the name it is today. I don’t have a problem with that. America has always been founded on work hard, make money, your dreams come true.

The issue I have is stealing someone else’s idea and becoming “ruthless” about it. AND WORSE, convincing yourself that “you” were the Founder. Now, Ray Kroc needed to say he was “The Founder” of McDonald’s, because this allowed him complete control in negotiations when opening other locations, I get it, but it doesn’t make it right!

This was an excellent movie/documentary! I encourage anyone who has ever eaten a McDonald’s hamburger to watch it. I’d be curious to hear your take on things. Is Ray Kroc a crook or should he be commended for being a brilliant guy?

Thanks to a long flight with slim movie choices, I watched, “The Founder.” So glad I did! It was an eye opener for sure!

I didn’t even have patience for the stewardess when she came by to offer ice cream. Huh, what — I was in the middle of the scene where Keaton (Ray Kroc) meets his second wife. Oh, I forgot to mention that… YOU need to watch the movie! It’s on Netflix.

Reminds me of the Facebook movie called, “The Social Network.”

These movies made me think, “When is being “driven” not OK?”

Falconry at Adare Manor Castle Hotel in Ireland

IMG_2060I’ve always been fascinated by eagles, falcons, and owls. They are powerful and mysterious. So, I was excited when my ex/husband suggested that after our daughter’s graduation (University of Limerick) that we head over to Adare Manor Castle Hotel (Adare, Ireland) for some Falconry and Archery.

Right now, they are doing a lot of refurbishing at Adare Manor, so, I was unable to take a picture to share with you.

Our Falconry Instructor was a nice fellow. He had a variety of birds for us to look at. First, he would tell us about the bird. Then with heavy glove on he assisted us to hold the birds, being very careful of their feet/talons. With the falcons, we could FEEL the strength in their feet through the glove. When they go for their prey, watch out!

Sometimes in photography, we get a FUNNY shot. For example, if you look at this owl, at first glance the owl appears to have headphones on, BUT then if you zoom in, you’ll see that when I took the photo, the eagle was directly behind the owl. Very amusing!

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Here are a few more photos I thought you might enjoy. Owls have amazing eyes! I have never seen one up close, have you?

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Next, a falconry show must have a falcon, right. Here you go…

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Now, this owl had enormous FEET.

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Finally, the Eagle…

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And for the grand finale… drum roll please… I bet you were wondering how I did in Archery. Well, I got a bulls eye, right in the middle of the apple – 3 times too! I have two brothers, so you KNOW I’ve been bragging about my Archery skills! A friendly bit of competition is good.

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Ireland is beautiful and a lot of fun. Similar to Seattle with the weather and they really enjoy their outdoor sports, I like that.

The Falconry fellow said Adare Manor should be open to the public November 2017. THEN we can go back for Trap Shooting! I smiled and thought, “Good marketing! I’m on board for that!”

Self help – “Elf-help books” (Indiana -> Ireland)

IMG_2523Life is interesting, we come across certain things when we need them. For example, I was reading a Blog called, “It Starts with Me,” where the blogger had a personal post called, “Anxiety of the Unknown.” She tells the story of her fiancé who signed a sports contract that led them to a move across the world to the UK. After getting adjusted to a new life in England, her fiancé suffered a sports injury and as they await the results of the MRI, she is faced with the “unknown” of their future, which is worrisome.

When I went walking, I had her story on my mind.

I came upon a bookstore in Limerick (Ireland). I was amused when I saw these “small” books with little Elfs on them. Turns out they are “Elf-help Books” that have been around since 1987. They are illustrated by R.W. Alley, who is known for his Paddington Bear illustrations.

Imagine my surprise to learn that these books are published in Indiana, not Ireland. Sadly, Abbey Press Printing closed in June 2017. Not clear if there is a new Publisher, but books are still being sold on Amazon.

The “Worry” book caught my attention. This would be PERFECT for my Fellow Blogger who is concerned about the “unknown.”

Here are a few pages to read.

We all have worries in life. Somehow, I was brought to these books by a “little Elf.” They have adult and children Elf-help books.

If you were able to zoom in and read the pages I’ve shared with you, you can see that the worry message is simple, short and motivating. The illustrations are adorable in an innocent old fashioned way.

You can visit “Elf-help Books” at www.elf-help.com. 

I just read on Wikipedia that Abbey Press Printing was started in 1867 by Saint Meinrad Archabbey, who are Benedictine Monks in Southern Indiana. They’ve been marketing their products around the world and can be found in 25 English speaking countries. More than 20 foreign companies are licensed to print books in other languages.

So, the big question is “WHY, after 150 years, did they have to close their printing press this year?”

Artist, Bordalo II, honors the endangered “Red Squirrel” in Dublin, Ireland

IMG_1633When I sold advertising, I was always canvassing the San Francisco Bay Area for “prospects” to call on. If I was not scanning through magazines for new advertisers, I was in my car sitting in traffic writing down “potential advertiser names” from trucks that would go by (flooring, landscaping, security systems, Google delivery, and more). You’d be amazed at how many potential advertisers you can find just sitting at a traffic light. Finally, I NEVER forgot to look at “billboards.”

Once something is taught, it stays with us. Even now, years later, I STILL find myself looking at advertising. I enjoy a great ad.

You can imagine my wonderment, here in Dublin, when I looked up to see a billboard of a HUGE Squirrel! Clearly, this was made out of trash from the junk yard. What kind of advertisement was this?

Here is a close up of the squirrel, so you can appreciate the details. Look at the squirrel’s fingers, his whiskers, his legs and tail that match in fuzziness, and the detail in his eye. BUT what is he carrying or trying to eat? I can’t figure that out.

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My next thought was… WHO created this? Google to the rescue.

Artur Bordalo (aka, Bordalo II) is an environmental art sculpturist/street artist from Lisbon. He uses paint and trash (chicken wire, tires, appliances, car parts, toys, plastics and more) to create his 3-D masterpieces. Through his art, he wants to bring awareness to waste, how it’s causing pollution and harm to our planet and the animals he creates.

For sure, we are noticing Bordalo’s street art, it is on such a grand scale. I “hope” that we go beyond just “smiling” though and actually do something to help the environment.

IS ANYONE FAMILIAR WITH HIS WORK?

FOUNDATION? – I could not find anything indicating that he has a Foundation where we could support his global environmental mission. His art is still new, maybe a Foundation will come in the future. If you know of anything, please share with us.

View more of Bordalo’s work on Facebook. His sculptures are around the world, i.e. a rat in Paris, a snow leopard in Russian, a turtle in Canada, a frog in Italy… it’s endless. Each one spectacular!