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How not to trim a bathroom mirror

I made one last adjustment, stepped back, and admired my new bathroom mirror. It was hanging mostly straight and, unlike the old one, the coating wasn’t flaking off the back.

I frowned at the old mirror. If I could just trim it down a bit, cut the damaged sections off the sides, maybe I could frame it and put it in the spare room. I’d never cut a mirror before, but seriously, how hard could it be? I sat at the computer, typed, ‘!youtube “how to cut glass’” into DuckDuckGo, and started watching videos.

Photo by Marika Vinkmann on Unsplash

A very short time later, I…

Photo by Ricardo Frantz on Unsplash

“No man will be a sailor who has contrivance enough to get himself into a jail; for being in a ship is being in a jail, with the chance of being drowned… a man in a jail has more room, better food, and commonly better company.”

— Dr Samuel Johnson

Ships nowadays are more comfortable than those in Dr Johnson’s time. Even so, the sea remains an unforgiving environment. Once you leave port, you’re trapped. Lock twenty strangers in a large house and you have some idea of daily life at sea. …

I’m a seafarer. Rules dictate my every move on board ship. We have rules about rest, food, safety, clothes, training, and work. We are told to follow rules, told off for not following rules, reminded of rules we’ve forgotten, and constantly informed of new, updated and “improved” rules. It’s incredibly easy to forget that the rules are the means, not the end.

Fireman holding hose during the day, from

Most rules fall into one or more categories:

  • Safety rules (don’t walk under the crane);
  • Laws (keep appropriate records);
  • Social rules (don’t slam the doors in the accommodation, people might be sleeping);
  • Rules to enforce the on-board hierarchy…

Child holding a teddy bear with a medical mask. Source: Andrew Lozovyi

“When you feel the first signs that it’s hard to breathe, stop trying. Hold your breath. It’s your body, and you’re in control.”

I was twelve, and I was at a Buteyko technique workshop for asthmatic children. The goal was to teach me to manage my asthma, and it worked. Within months I was off most asthma medication; since then, I’ve only had one serious asthma attack. But that workshop taught me a far more important life lesson.

Asthmatic since birth, I knew asthma had a physical cause. What I hadn’t realised was that panic caused at least half of…

A sailor on the deck of a ship. Photo by Igor Kardasov

“I don’t know how to tell you this… I am sorry but [your brother] passed away this morning... He is at peace now.”

I had to read the message several times before the meaning of the words sank in. Disbelief, anger, confusion, shock, betrayal and fear washed over me. It took a long time before I could process the implications.

There’s never a good time to receive the news that your brother has died. Whether you’re in the same hospital room or in the same country, there’s no way to escape the breaking wave of emotion. My brother was in…

Group of people thinking and Diversity Community by Rawpixel

“We don’t think your daughter will fit in here,” the Brownie leader told my mother.
I stared up, clutching the permission slip the leader had just given me for the camp next weekend. What had changed?
As an eight-year-old, I looked like a white girl. My mother is visibly olive-brown. Despite being in a stable western country, in the middle of the Gulf War the Brownies didn’t want “that sort of person” near their group.

I had a privileged upbringing, an excellent education in safe, stable countries. …

Photo of designer with head in hands by from Pexels

When I found myself stuck in lockdown in the wrong country, I decided to do what everyone else in my situation would do: write and self-publish a book. So started another chapter of, ‘It seemed like a good idea at the time: the story of my life.’

I use Linux. Specifically, Linux Mint KDE. This usually reduces my computer-related headaches, but it isn’t helpful when I have to deal with companies that expect me to use proprietary software. For example, when I’m trying to format a book. …

Rural road to sunset — Photo by pklimenko

Fear comes from not knowing what to expect and not feeling you have any control over what’s about to happen. When you feel helpless, you’re far more afraid than you would be if you knew the facts — Chris Hadfield

I don’t like uncertainty: I’m a planner. In early January, as I do every year, I sat down, reviewed my 2019 plan and my five-year goals, and wrote my plan for 2020. It was all set: I was going to sit my exams, do some short courses, then go home to New Zealand in early April.

Regardless of whether you…

“No man will be a sailor who has contrivance enough to get himself into a jail; for being in a ship is being in a jail, with the chance of being drowned… a man in a jail has more room, better food, and commonly better company.” — Dr Samuel Johnson, 1759

In this time of Covid-19, millions of people around the world are subject to restrictions on movement and travel. Those under lockdown need essential services to continue: without food and medical equipment, none of us will survive for long. …

There’s a strange phenomenon that happens on ships; it’s been going on for a long time. It’s called “Channel Fever.”

Photo by alain agapit from Pexels

Years ago, British sailors would sign on a sailing ship and head out to sea, not knowing when — or if — they’d be back. They knew they’d be away for at least several months, but it could be years before they were home. They just settled into their shipboard routines and didn’t worry too much about when they’d get home. They knew that they’d either get there, or they wouldn’t. That changed when, homeward bound, they sighted Land’s End…


Full-time sailor, full-time learner, part-time writer with a lot to say. I try to see all sides of a situation, but I'm human, so I have a long way to go.

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