You Must First Try Before You Can Do

More from Barb

Barb Caffrey's Blog

I know Yoda said, long ago, that “there is no try,” but I disagree.

When you’re learning something new, you can’t help but try to figure out exactly how this new thing will work. For example, if you’re learning a new fingering for the clarinet (the altissimo register, or highest notes, can require some unusual fingerings), you try the new fingering out. You see if it works by itself, then you add in other notes around it to see if it works in context with the music. Then, finally, you try that fingering after playing in a lower octave (composers often write urgent things in piercing registers, or at least we can; lower registers are more about steadiness, sometimes, or at least about a rich sonority as the notes are easier to play), and make sure it works no matter what register you’d been playing in beforehand.

So, when you’re…

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Photographic Firsts

More from Pete…


I found this short video on You Tube. It is called ‘The Oldest Photographs In The World’, but is really examples of photographic firsts. The first known photos of people and buildings, the earliest photos of The Sun and The Moon, and the first underwater photographs. It comes up to date with the first photos from Space, and the first published on the Internet.

This is mainly of interest to photographers out there, but it is still worth your time to get the sense of history.

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Ebook Wars

This article is for those of you reluctant to read the E-book version of any hard cover or paper back version of your favourite tome…

Have We Had Help?

The more I think about it, the more I’m convinced that my countrymen are stuck in a rut, particularly when it comes to the question of books. Judging by sales figures it would seem that the English perceive ebooks to be nothing more than yet another passing fad from across the pond in the good old US of A.
To the reading public of the UK, convention still dictates that a book can’t possibly exist unless it is made of paper, cost lots of money to produce, take years to appear on the book shelves, and is sold for an exorbitant amount. Plus, unless the writer of said book is lauded and fawned over by the media, how can they possibly be taken seriously as a writer, let alone exist?
I was recently told by a fellow writer and good friend of mine who lives in Europe that while discussing…

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Victorian England: Moving Pictures In Colour

Liked this!!!


This is one of my favourite finds online. Film images taken in the late 1800s in places around England. Street Parades, funfairs, seaside Towns, as well as shopping districts and markets, public transport, and busy traffic. It also features the many different social classes of the time, from workers to wealthy landowners and dignitaries.

The original 9-minute film has been carefully enhanced for video, providing some amazing detail, and also colourised for full effect.

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East Wind Chapter Seven


By now Tilde was walking of her own volition much to the delight of Lin Mai and Bill, which now meant that occasionally she could accompany him on the odd short voyage. Bill decided that Tilde would come with him on his next trip, whatever its destination; to give Lin a rest from her constant demands, and because he wanted some quality time with his daughter.


Back in Singapore, Lin Mae and Mamma Tan were enjoying a much needed rest from the family business. Mamma had booked a suite at the luxurious Andaz Singapore, a five star hotel in the centre of the city. Both women were looking forward to being pampered. From the moment they stepped forth from the taxi, they began to soak up the opulence that surrounded them. After being shown to their two bedroom suite on the thirty-fifth floor they decided to explore. In the room between their bedrooms was a spa bath. Lin needed no persuading. She quickly undressed and sank back to let the bubbling body temperature water do its work. Mamma joined her and pretty soon the worries of running the family business was forgotten by them both, at least for the moment.

A few hours went by. Then around two o’clock in the morning an alarm sounded throughout the multi-storey hotel. Somewhere far below their suite the smoke from a fire had triggered the alarm. Within minutes the small fire developed into a major conflagration as the fire rapidly climbed to their floor via the hotel’s lift shafts that acted as flues, sucking the flames ever upward, cutting off any thoughts of escape…


A week after East Wind set sail for the Riau Islands, midway between the Malaysian mainland and the Sultanate of Brunei she nosed back into her berth. Ho and Chang were waiting as Bill carried a very tired Tilde to where they stood at street level.

Mamma’s hidden garden now took on a different atmosphere. Sadness mixed with anger pervaded the scene as the entire Sembawang community came to offer their condolences and support for Bill and Tilde in this their time of grief. Bill made no secret of the fact that he wanted whoever was responsible for the two women he loved dying so horribly held to account. Over the next few days he received visits from the heads of every underworld family on the island, each one pledging to find out who was responsible for Lin Mae and Mamma Tan’s horrific demise. Over the years Mamma had fought each and every family when it came to business. Not once did anyone offer violence to the matriarch of Sembawang. Despite her reputation as a tough business woman, she was respected by all that knew her. She would be missed, not least by Bill…

Fan mail from some flounder?

From Susan…

Books: Publishing, Reading, Writing

Just after the New Year, I received a message from a Facebook friend saying he was planning on reading all three of my publications in their eBook format. I was tickled pink, to say the least, and told him I hoped he would enjoy them.

So, imagine my gobsmacked surprise when, less than 12 days later, I received an email from John Edwards telling me he’d already finished reading all three books! So he was following Rule #3 on this list by writing directly to me:

Here’s the message John wrote to me (spoilers redacted!):

Hi Sue,

I quite enjoyed the read.

Island in the Clouds had the two things I like in a murder mystery. First of course is a dead body early in the book. I prefer to speculate on who the killer is than speculate of who will be killed. The second thing I like is a…

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East Wind Chapter Six

This chapter is the halfway point in this love story


With Mamma back at the helm once more, the family business continued to prosper, While Bill was away, Lin became Mamma’s indispensable right arm. Noticing that he was getting fidgety with two of the three females in his life fully occupied during the day to day running of things, when Bill offered to sail north to Manila to report back on how the Philippine branch of Mamma’s business empire was doing, both women sent him off with their blessing. For her part, even though Tilde couldn’t yet speak, she understood that her beloved daddy was leaving without her. Lin told him later that their daughter pouted and screamed the entire time he was away. He determined that as soon as she could walk, she would accompany him on some voyages.


East Wind made her entrance into the bay, not far from the Philippine’s capital city Manila, ten days after leaving what was now her home port of Sembawang on the island of Singapore. The passage from the northern Malaysian mainland to Manila meant sailing north across the darkly green waters of the Sulu Sea, calling in at Puerto Princesa on Palawan’s east coast to clear customs, before heading north to the Sibuyan Sea, keeping Mindaro to the west, before heading NNW for Manila, on the northern island of Luzon.

With one of his men staying aboard East Wind to put Bill’s mind at rest, Mamma’s contact Diego Alvarez escorted him to the Philippine head office of her empire.

“Can you please inform Mamma that we have a need for small arms and ammunition Señor Bill. Once again there is revolution in the air. This time here on Luzon. I have tentative orders for two thousand Kalashnikov rifles, and fifty RPG-7’s, plus ammunition. I promised the rebels that we can supply, but not without Mamma’s blessing.”

“Why not M16’s? They’re much more reliable.”

“Too expensive and not so easy to source…”

After giving Bill the coordinates for delivery near to Laoag on the northwestern coast of Luzon, by midnight, East Wind was already heading back south and home. The potential cargo was far too dangerous for him to transport aboard her, should they encounter pirates. So other means must be found.

A month went by with no news from Diego. Then a courier arrived with a hand delivered note. Mamma handed it to Bill. “What does it say,” she asked.

“All it says is consignment arrived with thanks.”

Several months later when Bill once again made port in Manila Bay, this time with Lin and Tilde accompanying him, Diego related what had happened.


A flotilla of Malaysian fishing boats appeared off Luzon’s north western coast. Nothing out of the ordinary there, except these ones offloaded their cargo of crates on a beach just to the north of Laoag in the dead of night. As they returned to their fishing ground, in the distance lights could be seen in the vicinity of the crates. Diego was informed that the consignment had been quickly spirited away. A couple of days went by before he found a small parcel on the front desk of his office. It contained the payment and a note of thanks. On their arrival back at Sembawang, Bill handed over the money to Mamma. Ordinarily she shied away from gun running. But when Bill told her who the recipients were, she relented. Once more the Philippines was being controlled by a megalomaniac. Ferdinand Marcos and his formidable wife had been bad enough. This latest tyrant was, if anything, far worse…

How to: Tell a subordinate to bugger off

How to: Tell a subordinate to bugger off

Thank God those days are long gone for me!

Store Manager of the Year

If you’re a professional manager in a professional environment, swearing at subordinates is probably something you’ve rarely done or never done.

But, you’re human like the rest of the team. You’re not a robot. You eat, sleep, fart and piss like the best of them. Yet, somehow, the general population of your team thinks you have no feelings. You’re hard as nails. You think about work when at home. You wake up in the morning and instantly plot a plan to ruin one poor sod’s day.

It’s also widely believed that you have no problems, no personal dilemmas, no concerns or worries. Yes, you live to work and you’re here to make unpopular decisions which you secretly enjoy.

Nobody asks how YOU are. Yet, you are inundated on a daily basis with trivial problems, moans and groans and self entitled speeches.

The next time you don’t feel up to it…

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Did you know…

More from Marina.

Letters from Athens

…Some animal are immortal?

Theoretically, that is—or, at least, they do not age. Obviously, they can die from other causes: accidents, predators etc. I found this bit of arcana fascinating and thought I’d share.

One species that has been called ‘biologically immortal’ is the jellyfish Turritopsis dohrnii. These small, transparent animals hang out in oceans around the world and can turn back time by reverting to an earlier stage of their life cycle.

Then there is the Hydra: a tubular body with a tentacle-ringed mouth at one end and an adhesive foot at the other. They’re very simple animals that spend their days mostly staying in one place in freshwater ponds or rivers and using their stinging tentacles to grab any prey that happens to swim past. Their claim to immortality? They don’t go through senescence (biological aging) at all. Instead of gradually deteriorating over time, a Hydra’s…

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Children And Their Pets: Vintage Photos

From our Beetly correspondent.


I found these online. There were no dates given, but most of the photos appear to be very old. No individual photographers were credited, but they all come from a Pinterest site called ‘Vintage Everyday’.

The little boy looks sleepy.

Waiting for someone to come home?

Cats on a hat!

Happy child, happy dog.

A pet Lion! Not sure I would let a baby play with it.

Feeding her bunnes.

On her bike with her faithful dog.
(This appears to have been taken in Central Park, New York City.)

Another dangerous pet. An Alligator!

Feeding a lamb with milk.

A young clown with his pet pig!

A pet dog big enough to ride like a pony.

Her pet Chicken.

They both have to wear the same hat.

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