Claire & Jamie versus Bella & Edward

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This post compares and contrasts two of my favorite couples in contemporary literature: Claire and Jamie from the Outlander Series by Diana Gabaldon, and Bella and Edward, from the Twilight Series by Stephenie Meyer.   Both couples have fascinating and frustrating relationships and, in both couples, the partners are utterly suited for each other.   The stories, too, both feature strong women (I know there are some out there who would disagree with me about Bella being a strong woman.).   Finally, for both couples, the beginning of their relationship was rather inauspicious, but both suffered against the odds to find a love that is lasting, sustaining, and fulfilling.  Ah, true love and the notion of soulmates.

Claire and Jamie first meet each other after she travels back in time 200 years, from a stone henge in post WWII Scotland to Scotland in the 1740s.  Claire is suspected of being a spy for the British or a witch because of her medical abilities, and is held captive by members of the MacKenzie Clan, of which Jamie is a member.  The clan is finally convinced that she is not a spy and to protect her from the British, who want to arrest her, they convince her she must marry Jamie.  This is surely something she does not want to do, as she is already married 200 years in the future, but she does so anyway because she cannot tell them her secret.  A marriage of convenience becomes a marriage to envy in the end.

Bella and Edward could not have met under worse circumstances, I think.  Edward, a vampire, had not tasted human blood in many years.  As a vegetarian vampire (one who only feasts on animal blood), he has forsworn feeding off of humans and has lived peacefully among them for a very long time.  Along comes Bella, and her scent drives him to the point where he thinks he is going to throw years of discipline away in order to feed off of her.  That first hour of their acquaintance is probably the longest hour of his existence.  In the end, Bella and Edward have a strong bond that goes beyond what their marriage means to them; she considers the term “husband” to be not nearly enough to explain Edward’s connection to her.

Watching their story twist and turn from their first meeting is great fun in both books.  There are times when the woman’s stubbornness drives the man to distraction.  Both women are strong minded, Claire from the very beginning and Bella as the books continue to tell her story.  Claire is much older than Bella, of course, and had been a nurse in wartime.  Her resolve and strength are borne of years’ tending to men who are missing appendages.  Bella’s bravery increases as she faces one harrowing situation after another.  Because of their bravery and strength, both women tend to speak their mind and defy the men they love.  Jamie and Edward are both very protective of their mates; the defiance drives them absolutely nuts.  Jamie decides some tough love is in order, which is scene that leaves one rather…conflicted.  Edward leaves his kill and pulls a critical piece of the engine from Bella’s truck before she can drive to La Push to see her friend, Jacob.  He forbids her to go to see Jacob, fearing for her life, but finally backs down when he realizes that his heavy-handedness with Bella is doing nothing but driving a wedge between them.  (Oh, by the way, Jamie realizes the error his way quite differently, but you’ll have to read the book.)

Edward and Jamie are both “protector” types, who feel it is their responsibility to shoulder any physical and psychological burdens of those they have chosen to protect.  Of course, that includes their mates.  As much as they struggle with their partner’s stubbornness, they also struggle with their failures.  Edward is practically tortured by them.  When both men realize that their partner is a lot stronger than they thought, things become much easier.  Watching them arrive at that conclusion can be annoying at times, as both are so unwilling to relinquish that role, but when they do, true partnerships form that are based upon the strengths of both involved in the relationship.  I also think that the men are truly much happier when they do not feel they have to hover any longer.

For anyone who likes a good romance, I highly recommend both series.  They will keep you busy for quite a while as both authors love to write very long books.

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A Walking Tour

I am playing with my new Flip video camera, as I had to purchase it for school this time around in order to capture field observations.  Anyway, I thought I would take a little video of a walk that my greyhound and I take about once a week.  Enjoy…maybe.  🙂

A Good Training Program is like a Good Bread…

When I was newly married (the first time, eh-hem), I wanted to prove that I could cook and bake.   Everyone else could have cared less, but I was bound and determined to prove I was not a dunce in the kitchen, not having much practice when I lived at home.  So, of course, I had to start with a skill that is not that easy: making bread.  Not just any bread, mind you, no.  Challah.  Many pounds of flour and many loaves of really bad Challah later that everyone ate out of kindness, I believe I finally created some loaves of Challah that were very good.  One that I was particularly proud of never made it to the table, because the greyhound absconded with it while we were out of the house.  That’s funny…now.

At any rate, this morning I was having a waking dream – you know, the kind where you are still under but you are in control of the course your brain is taking?   This morning’s dream had me sitting at a conference table with a bunch of suits that I do not know.  On the screen is a PowerPoint that outlines the training program the employees will go through when my company is integrated with theirs.   As I am listening to the Training Manager drone on and on about requirements and priorities, my head is slipping further down the length of my forearm.  Finally, the manager gets annoyed and stops his talk to address me.

“Is this boring you, Heather?”

I straighten up.  In my dream, I’m brave and cocky.  “Yes, actually.”

“Why?”

“Because this is going to fail.”

“Really?  Why do you say that?”

“Because developing a training is like making a good bread.  You have to start, first, with a good recipe.  It might take a few tries before you get the right recipe.  I’m not sure that you do have the right recipe here.  Who was consulted about these requirements?”

“Your management.”

“Yeah, and who else?  Anyone ‘on the ground,’ so to speak?”

“Well, no.”

“That’s why you’re missing the saffron.”

“The what?”

“It’s a special ingredient in Challah that makes it very yellow and beautiful.  You’re missing the metaphorical saffron.  Your training is going to be boring and you will lose most of your trainees within the first half-hour.”

He sighed heavily.  “So, what do you suggest?”

“Go back and find some super users [please see my expanded definition of “super user” below].  Interview them; bounce off of them what the management gave you.  Do a real needs analysis, a 360 needs analysis.  Have you taken these processes from birth-to-death?  Have you created exercises that mimic real life?  I don’t see that.  I see a collection of procedures with no rationale behind the training.  How do you plan to explain why they have to learn this stuff?”

“That’s a lot of questions.”

“When you have answered them, then you have your recipe.  Next, you’ll need to mix the ingredients properly; baking requires exact measurements, unlike cooking.  You’ll need to knead the bread, to activate the yeast.  The yeast is the people factor; you need to involve the people or the training will fall flat.  In order to get the bread nice and fluffy, you will need to let it rise.  That means that you’ll need to let all of these explanations and connections germinate within your mind.  Then you can punch it down and shape it, meaning you can put together the curriculum and the exercises.  Then, you let it rise again – you put the training to the test with a select group of managers and super users.  Finally, you bake it; you deliver the training.  Get it?  After baking, people eat it.  Either they like it, or they put it to the side.  Some might put butter on it and improve it on their own; others will simply reject it.  You will know after you do the evaluation, but at least you will know that you put forth your best effort.  This,” I waved my hand, “Is not your best effort.”

“Listen, I’m a member of ASTD and a CPLP.  I don’t appreciate this criticism.”

“First, constructive criticism should always be welcome.  Second, if you are a CPLP, then you must have read Stolovitch and Keeps.”

“What did they write?”

Telling Ain’t Training.  Pick it up.  It’s a good book.  You’ll find out how to put together a real training program.  Another one is HPI Essentials. I don’t know how you got through the CPLP exam without them.”

I love waking dreams.

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