Sunday, 24 April 2016

Problem Resolution and Hill Walking

It is a long while since I bothered entering a dream into my Dream Diary, but last night's dream was remarkable and deserves a mention. This dream was remarkable for being 100% in the "problem resolving" genre.

I dreamed that it was a bright, sunny morning. An ideal day for hill-walking, but I was committed to attending a conference in town, a consumer consultation on how best to present contours on maps for hill-walkers/ mountain-climbers. No doubt I would be confined all day to a stuffy hotel room. I had in mind to suggest a few things myself: printing of maps for individual hikes, rather than a whole county on a map; printing the maps on plastic, waterproof paper; "print-on-demand" maps, where a client would select the needed area on a computer screen, in a shop in town or online, and the individual map would be printed on the spot, rather than having to have a store of pre-printed maps. I doubted the consultant engaged in the consultation would, however, have any function to absorb strange suggestions, but merely be confined to assessing how consumers would react to a number of different options to be presented.

Another reason why I want to head for the hills, is that I wanted to try out my new "invention" for mountain snacks: a balanced diet in a single, easily prepared, food, that could be held in a plastic tub and eaten with a spoon. This snack would be simply Chia Seeds, (a super-food of the Aztecs) steeped in (an equal quantity of) water for five minutes to form a paste, and enhanced by flavourings such as herbs or spices. My particular choice of flavouring at the moment would be lightly cooked Bramley apples mixed into the chia paste. Chia seeds provide fibre (30%), vegetable oils including unsaturated fats and omega 3 oils (30%), protein (20%) and carbohydrate (20%), so are a complete balanced diet in themselves. They are also rich in minerals and some vitamins. Bramley apples are richer in vitamin C than oranges and give a nice tang. I would also consider adding a spice such as cinnamon or coriander.

As I walk out towards the bus, somewhat dejected at having to go to a stuffy conference while the hills are beckoning, I meet two of my neighbours, Ronnie and Michael, spiritedly bouncing along. They are, in fact, heading for the mountains, and, what's more, they are being paid for it! The Department of Education has woken up to the need to get children out of the obesity culture that has spread over the last number of generations, and restore de Valera's dream of "an athletic youth." Mountain-walking has been at last recognised as a suitable educational activity, teaching map-reading, organisational skills (organising walking groups, bus routes, and so on), nutrition (how best to cater for refuelling needs on the mountain-side), nature study and even maths, as well as enhancing fitness. My two neighbours have received a contract of employment from the department to lead groups of school-children on educational mountain-walking expeditions.

Dream skips to the end of the day and I meet Ronnie and Michael, both dejected. They have been sacked from their new jobs. Why? Well, to have an effective, educational walking trip, you need to provide the students with maps. They went and printed out the maps on the school computers; used up a supply of paper needed for other things, and used the computers for this activity which had not been approved by the school principal; so they were fired. Ah well, how often are government schemes blighted by failure to provide miniscule resources at the implementation level? It may also be a reminder that approval or appointment from the Department is not enough: you also need the support of the local tyrant, in this case the school principal.