Posted in Daily, Family and Society, Stories Around the World, Work

When the Geese Fly

“Teamwork begins by building trust. And the only way to do that is to overcome our need for invulnerability.” – Patrick Lencioni

In this season, as the year comes to an end; each one of us may be busy with our own projects, either related to home, or being on holiday mode as a group or family, neighbourhood or community gatherings especially those of Christmas and New Year as well as school celebrations, plays, parties and the like. Amidst all this, we are involved with a team of people with us being either at or near the apex or as a part of the body. In all these events we are being a part of the bigger crowd or leading one. To have a good time, not just in teamwork but enjoying our work as well, it would do us good to emulate the geese.

“Teamwork is the ability to work together toward a common vision. The ability to direct individual accomplishments toward organizational objectives. It is the fuel that allows common people to attain uncommon results.” – Andrew Carnegie

The geese teach us their lesson of teamwork with both the members as well as the leader fulfilling their roles. When we acquire a bit of their sense, we will realize we can achieve much better and save more time, effort and energy. Above all, by using the sense of a goose, we will discover than any project or task can be fun and enjoyable.

“If I have seen further, it is by standing on the shoulders of giants.” – Isaac Newton

A sense of a goose

Next Autumn, when you see geese heading south for the winter, flying in a “V” formation, you might consider what science has discovered as to why they fly that way. As each bird flaps its wings, it creates an uplift for the bird immediately following. By flying in a “V” formation, the whole flock adds at least 71 percent greater flying range than if each bird flew on its own. People who share a common direction and sense of community can get where they are going more quickly and easily, because they are travelling on the thrust of one another.

When a goose falls out of formation, it suddenly feels the drag and resistance of trying to go it alone and quickly gets back into formation to take advantage of the lifting power of the bird in front. If we have the sense of a goose, we will stay in formation with those people who are heading the same way we are.

When the head goose gets tired, it rotates back in the wing and another goose flies point. It is sensible to take turns doing demanding jobs, whether with people or with geese flying south.

Geese honk from behind to encourage those up front to keep up their speed. What message do we give when we honk from behind?

Finally – and this is important – when a goose gets sick or is wounded by gunshot, and falls out of the formation, two other geese fall out with that goose and follow it down to lend help and protection. They stay with the fallen goose until it is able to fly or until it dies; and only then do they launch out on their own, or with another formation to catch up with their own group. If we have the sense of a goose, we will stand by each other like that.

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Posted in Daily, Food

Fruitcake Time Again !

When the Romans had shaped “the satura”, as a cake of pine nuts, barley mash, pomegranate seeds, raisins with honeyed wine “satura”, little did they imagine the evolution of their creation years in the future. Over the centuries the entire month of December has been dedicated to the creation whose origins may dated back to even before the Romans. If one hasn’t yet figured out what the above lines were about, it can be credited to the modern version of “satura”, i.e. the fruitcake.

Each year, the holiday season marks special traditions in many homes and among many communities, some which center around food while others revolving around the various customs and heritage. The fruitcake enjoys its’ own special relation with people. For some, fruitcakes bring nostalgic memories of warm kitchens, family specialties, the smell of spices in the air and the feel of Christmas baking. While for others, fruitcakes epitomize tasteless bricks or unwanted gifts that probably came from a factory kitchen rather than a homemade specialty.

“There’s a little bit of fruitcake left in everyone of us.” Jimmy Buffett

Yet the origin of the fruitcake was one of love and survival for difficult times. It was believed that the ancient Egyptians would put an early version of the fruitcake in the tombs of loved ones as means of providing food for the afterlife. The ancient Romans popularized the fruitcakes especially for the soldiers as these early fruitcakes were easy to carry and remained edible for a long time. Gradually over the years, other ingredients, such as honey, spices and preserved fruits were added. Towards the 16th century, the discovery that fruit could be preserved by soaking it in heavy concentrations of sugar (candied fruit) lead to its’ experimentation in fruitcakes especially when excess amounts were there in the kitchens.

“Friends are the fruitcake of life – some nutty, some soaked in alcohol, some sweet.” Jon Ronson

Slowly fruitcakes became layered, dense and heavy with a typical fruitcake having citrus peel, pineapples, plums, dates, pears, cherries, candied fruits and even nuts or raisins. With a long storage life and easy to preserve, fruitcakes have been popular during Victorian England especially during holidays and special occasions. This British tradition has spread over to many of its’ colonies although other countries have their own set of “fruitcakes”. From the Stollen of Germany, panforte of Italy, keks of Poland and Cozonac of Romania to light coloured or rum soaked fruitcakes, the variants are many to list. Although by convention fruitcakes are made more around December (Christmas time), they have been traditional for certain weddings especially as seen in the royal weddings.

“Reality is like a fruitcake; pretty enough to look at but with all sorts of nasty things lurking just beneath the surface.” A. Lee Martinez

Although fruitcakes can certainly be delicious, they’ve declined in popularity over the years primarily as the richness is a little too much especially with calorie counting and the arrival of other decadent delights. Despite the declining demand, fruitcakes are still a holiday tradition in many areas though not beyond that period.