Your week ahead (31 October – 6 November)

Have a great week, everyone!

Aries

2_high_priestess

The High Priestess – staying non-active – withdrawing from involvement, becoming calm, being passive; accessing the unconscious – using your intuition, opening to dreams and the imagination, trusting your inner voice; seeing the potential – understanding the possibilities, seeing your hidden talents, allowing development; sensing the mystery – looking beyond the obvious, opening to the unknown, seeking what is concealed

Taurus

Swords_2

2 of Swords – blocking emotions – denying true feelings, hiding distress, being defensive; avoiding the truth – refusing to look at facts, pretending everything’s fine, avoiding an unpleasantness; being at a stalemate – feeling afraid to act, reaching an impasse, staying on the fence

Gemini

Pentacles_7

7 of Pentacles – assessing – evaluating the situation, reflecting on progress to date, taking stock; reaping a reward – finally seeing some results, receiving payoffs, reaching a milestone; considering a direction change – weighing a different approach, opening to a new strategy, standing at a crossroads

Cancer

7_chariot

The Chariot – achieving victory – reaching your goal, winning; using your will – sustaining an effort, fixing on a goal, focusing your intent; asserting yourself – being ego-focused, establishing an identity, having faith in yourself; achieving hard control – assuming the reins of power, showing authority, curbing impulses

Leo

11_justice

Justice – respecting justice – insisting on fairness, acting on ethical principles, seeking equality; assuming responsibility – settling old accounts and debts, handling the situation, doing what has to be done; preparing for a decision – weighing all sides of an issue, balancing all factors, choosing with full awareness; understanding cause and effect – accepting the results you created, recognising the action of karma, making connections between events

Virgo

Cups_knight

Knight of Cups – romantic/over-emotional – idealising love/lacking self-restraint, emphasizing feelings/often being jealous; imaginative/fanciful – being visionary/shading the truth, never taking the mundane path/having an unrealistic approach; sensitive/temperamental – being aware of moods and feelings/being prone to mood swings, responding deeply to life/getting melancholy and depressed; refined/over-refined – creating a pleasant environment/lacking good health, appreciating beauty in all forms/leaving dirty work to others; introspective/introverted – valuing the inner life/focusing inward to excess, seeking self-improvement/exaggerating personal failings

Libra

20_judgement

Judgement – making a judgement – having a day of reckoning, making an honest appraisal, taking a stand; feeling reborn – awakening to possibilities, transforming, discovering joy; hearing a call – recognising your true vocation, feeling inner conviction, knowing what you must do; finding absolution – feeling cleansed and refreshed, atoning for past mistakes, feeling sins washed away

Scorpio

Hanged_man

The Hanged Man – letting go – having an emotional release, accepting what is, giving up control; reversing – turning the world around, changing your mind, doing an about-face; suspending action – pausing to reflect, giving up urgency, taking time to just be; sacrificing – being a martyr, putting others first, putting self-interest aside

Sagittarius

Pentacles_10

10 of Pentacles – enjoying affluence – having material abundance, feeling financially secure, having a good run of fortune, seeking permanence – looking for a solution that will last, having an orderly family life, nailing down the plan; following convention – staying within established guidelines, taking part in traditions, being conservative

Capricorn

Cups_10

10 of Cups – feeling joy – embracing happiness, having a sense of wellbeing, radiating love, expressing delight; enjoying peace – experiencing serenity, reducing stress and tension, restoring harmony, calling a truce; looking to the family – working for peace in the home, supporting a relative in need, bonding with family members, forgiving someone in the family

Aquarius

Swords_ace

Ace of Swords – using mental force – being objective, finding out the facts, using your intellect; having fortitude – facing problems, surmounting obstacles, being undaunted by setbacks; seeking justice – righting a wrong, doing what is right, accepting responsibility; proceeding with truth – having clear understanding, being honest, finding out what is real

Pisces

Cups_9

9 of Cups – having your wish fulfilled – achieving what you desire, having your dream come true, obtaining your goal; feeling satisfied – indulging in a little smugness, feeling pleased as punch, being contented; enjoying sensual pleasure – experiencing luxury, making love, enjoying physical exertion

Fo
r previous readings, see Notes by Nectar.

Review: The Help

Cover_-_help

I’d been hearing about The Help by Kathryn Stockett for a while and intended to read it eventually, but when I saw a trailer for the movie at the cinema I thought I’d better get a move on. And I’m so glad I did.

It is the early 1960s, Skeeter is 22 years old and has returned home to racially conflicted Mississippi after graduating college. Her closest friends are married with children and her mother keeps urging (and by that I mean ‘nagging’) her to head in the same direction. But Skeeter wants to be a journalist – she’s the editor of the Women’s League newsletter and writes a housekeeping column for the local newspaper. Like many people of that time, she was brought up by a black maid called Constantine who she felt closer to than her real mother and even while she was at college, the two would exchange letters frequently. Then Constantine disappears without a word. Skeeter knows her mother has something to do with it, but when she broaches the subject her mother won’t talk about it. And none of the other maids will either.

Aibileen and Minny are friends and both are black maids. Aibileen is a wise woman, usually the voice of reason, raising her 17th white child. Minny is unpredictable and her hot temper has cost her several jobs.

These three extraordinary women come together and risk everything to write a book about black women working for white families. Because of the racial tension at the time, the three of them need to have clandestine meetings and constantly fear discovery. There are tales of hate, mistrust and abuse, but there are good ones too – about love, support, respect.

The author has been criticised for turning serious issues such as racism and the civil rights movement into light reading. But doesn’t this make the novel more accessible and make more people want to read it? Isn’t that the whole point of writing it?

It is surprising, funny, sad and engrossing – everything you could want from a book – and this one is going to stay with me for a long time… 

I need to read five more books this year if I’m going to achieve my goal of 20 books in 2011

Week 9 update: 10 kilos by Christmas

Another good week, I think!

I had my usual session with Gus on Tuesday – again, it was bloody hard work as he decided we should focus on my upper body. His favourite piece of equipment is a rubber tube called a ViPR and whenever I see him with it at the start of the session, my heart sinks. I told him this on Tuesday and he said ‘Oh, this isn’t for you today.’ ‘Really??’ ‘No, just kidding – it’s all yours.’ Thankfully we only used it for one of the exercises he had lined up for me. He also discovered I have no stomach muscles whatsoever (I say ‘he’ because I’ve known this for some time) so I have a feeling it’s going to be a target in coming weeks!

After that Tuesday session, by the time I got home, I was so tired I couldn’t even bring myself to watch the latest episode of ‘Hawaii Five-0’. In fact, I didn’t even switch on my computer – unheard of for me.

Gus saw me on Thursday morning when I was doing one of my cardio sessions and said I had definitely lost weight – I told him that at times my target still seems a long way away, but he disagreed. 

I did two more cardio sessions on my own (three in total this week) and also had my Sunday morning yoga class where we focused on hip openers.

I’m the kind of person who will sleep or snooze till as late as possible, skip breakfast, rush while getting ready and be late for work. Every day. So how am I getting up at 7am four mornings a week to get to the gym before work? Well, I’ve been taking photos of the sunrise each morning because they have been so incredible. Like this:

2011

I love how the sun is coming up but you can still see a sliver of moon in the darkest part of the sky.

And this:

2011

Those were taken on the same morning, just minutes apart. And I didn’t use any filters or special effects. So this seems to be working for now, but let’s see what happens when the clocks go back…

On the food side, it’s still going well. Gus looked at the food diary I’d kept for the previous week and seemed happy with it – I think I’ve been doing everything he’s told me to do… I’m allowed one cheat night and this week it was Friday. I went for a sushi dinner with some friends and not only did I have some sushi rolls (which contain rice), I also had some sake – but again, not as much as I would normally have had. I haven’t had bread in three weeks.

I caved this week and decided to weigh myself – I needed to know. And I was shocked. I’ve lost 2.5 kilos (5.5 lbs) in the last three weeks! So that’s a total of 4.6 kilos (10.1 lbs) since the beginning of August. I can’t believe it!

2011

Read more updates here.

Your week ahead (24-30 October)

Have a great week!

Aries

Pentacles_ace

Ace of Pentacles – using material force – focusing on concrete results, working with the physical, improving the body/health; prospering – flourishing, increasing assets, enjoying abundance; being practical – using common sense, being realistic, getting down to earth; proceeding with trust – feeling safe and protected, having a support system, knowing you have total security

Taurus

9_hermit

The Hermit – being introspective – looking for answers within, quieting yourself, thinking things over; searching – seeking greater understanding, going on a personal quest, desiring a new direction; receiving/giving guidance – going to/being a mentor, accepting/offering wise counsel, being helped/helping; seeking solitude – desiring stillness, experiencing seclusion, giving up distraction

Gemini

Pentacles_4

4 of Pentacles – wanting to possess – getting your share, hanging on to someone, penny-pinching; maintaining control – demanding compliance, wanting to be in charge, denying weakness; blocking change – stagnating, maintaining the status quo, holding on to the present

Cancer

17_star

The Star – regaining hope – thinking positively, believing, counting your blessings; being inspired – realising an inner strength, regaining motivation, receiving the answer; being generous – wanting to give or share, opening your heart, spreading the wealth; feeling serene – relaxing, finding your still centre, enjoying harmony

Leo

Wands_7

7 of Wands – being aggressive – going after what you want, taking the offensive, seizing the advantage; being defiant – defending your position, refusing to yield, opposing all challengers; showing conviction – being sure, demonstrating strong character, standing up for what you believe

Virgo

Cups_page

Page of Cups – being emotional – being moved or touched, letting your feelings show, shedding your detachment; being intuitive – acting on a hunch, having a psychic experience, trusting your gut reaction; being intimate – starting or renewing a love affair, getting closer to someone, sharing something personal; being loving – making a thoughtful gesture, mending a broken relationship, brightening someone’s day

Libra

15_devil

The Devil – experiencing bondage – accepting an unwanted situation, losing independence, being addicted and enslaved; focusing on the material – forgetting the spiritual, getting and spending, overindulging the senses; staying in ignorance – being unaware, choosing to stay in the dark, being taken in my appearances; feeling hopeless – believing the worst, lacking faith, thinking negatively

Scorpio

10_wheel_of_fortune

Wheel of Fortune – feeling a sense of destiny – using what chance offers, finding opportunity in accident, altering the present course; being at a turning point – reversing, having a change in fortune, being surprised at a turn of events; feeling movement – being swept up in new developments, getting involved, experiencing change; having a personal vision – seeing how everything connects, becoming more aware, expanding your outlook

Sagittarius

Wands_10

10 of Wands – overextending – trying to do too much, taking all the blame, having to work overtime; feeling burdened – never having time to relax, feeling tied to a treadmill, cleaning up a messy situation; struggling – fighting uphill, doing everything the hard way, finding that nothing comes easily

Capricorn

Pentacles_5

5 of Pentacles – experiencing hard times – losing a job or income, feeling insecure, lacking what you need; suffering ill health – neglecting your body and its needs, feeling ragged around the edges, abusing your body; being rejected – lacking support, feeling excluded, having the door slammed in your face

Aquarius

Pentacles_6

6 of Pentacles – having/not having resources – giving/receiving, sponsoring/being sponsored, offering/receiving a gift or reward; having/not having knowledge – teaching/learning, offering/taking advice, knowing/not knowing a secret; having/not having power – leading/following, coercing/being coerced, dominating/submitting

Pisces

16_the_tower

The Tower – going through sudden change – experiencing upheaval, having plans disrupted, having routines shaken up; releasing – exploding, erupting in anger, letting everything go; falling down – being humbled, toppling from the heights, suffering a blow to the ego; having a revelation – suddenly realising the truth, seeing through illusions, getting the answer

For previous readings, see Notes by Nectar.

Casio Exilim fh20

A few months ago I was having lunch with my parents and sister-in-law – we were talking about cameras and photography and I said that when I move to Dubai I’d like to do a photography course with a digital SLR. I’d learn something and maybe meet some interesting people. I also said that I was planning to get a new camera before I left London. ‘I have one you can use,’ Dad said.

He did? I didn’t know he had a camera, let alone a digital SLR.

‘What kind of camera is it?’ I asked. ‘Oh, it’s a Canon digital SLR – you can take it, it’s in the dining room.’

Excellent! We got home and I looked for this mysterious camera. I eventually found it in an ill-fitting camera case and opened it.

Two things.

First of all – it’s not a Canon, it’s a Casio. Second – it may be digital, but it’s not an SLR (although it looks like one). How bloody disappointing.

Anyway, I thought I’d use it when I went on holiday and try it out.

It’s a good size, the screen is decent – the colours on the screen are very vivid.

2011
2011

You can choose the setting you want (single photos, multiple frames per second or video) by using the dial on the right.

2011

While it’s not an SLR, it can take up to 40 frames per second – which is a hell of a lot – but I’m not sure what the quality of the image is like at that speed. The highest I used was 5 fps – which came in very useful when taking photos of Vinay.

2011
2011

The memory card slots into the side of the camera. There’s no USB cable for the camera so I just insert the memory card into my laptop to transfer photos.

2011

The thing that irritates me the most about this camera is that it runs on four AA batteries.

2011

And that’s not the worst part. The batteries need constant changing. If I put in new batteries in the morning, they would be used up by the evening. The day we went to the market I put in new batteries. I had to change them the following day for Vinay’s birthday. And I had to change them again a couple of days after that.

2011

It does take some good photos – and if you have enough time you can click the ‘BS’ (best shot) button to select your best option (scenery, portrait, children, pets, sunset, et cetera).

Verdict? It’s an OK camera – it does what it says on the box and I wouldn’t disregard it completely, but if you’re hoping to be a bit more creative with your photographs (and don’t own a battery factory) I’d definitely go with a digital SLR.