George's Marvellous Medicine by Roald Dahl (1981)

, 29 Nov 2016

This is a very naughty fun book for people of all ages. A novella more than a proper novel, George's Marvellous Medicine tells what happens when Georges gets fed-up with his witchy grandma and decides to make a "medicine" to poison her. He takes everything he finds in the house, cosmetics, toiletries, laundry products, animal medicines and painting, mixes them all, feeds grandma with the mixture, and then weird things start to happen.

The character of George has a mix of naughtiness, good heart and innocence that will delight children and adults alike. The grandma is hateable from the very beginning, not so much at the end, and George's parents are quite normal people.

George's Marvellous Medicine is more for early teens than for children, as the mere concept of poisoning, vengeance, and murder seems a bit too complex to leave the small ones to evaluate on their own, even though this is children fiction. The characters seem quite normal, not part of a fairy-tale or fantasy story, so that is the main problem to me. Dahl himself saw the possible repercussions and included a note at the beginning of the book warning children not to do this at home. You don't want children to think that mixing chemicals and feeding people with them  is the right thing to do to deal with annoying personalities.

Most children books have an embedded teaching, no matter the fun is what attracts children to them. Personally, I would redirect my child's attention by asking him/her some rhetorical or open-ended questions at the end of the book:
1/ Georges hates his grandma, because she's a witch, right? But isn't what he does witchy? Isn't potion-making what witches do? Isn't George's behaviour that of a witch? 
2/ Why do you think grandma doesn't want children to grow? Was she happier when she was a child?
3/ Why is grandma so grumpy? Is because she is frail and alone? Is because she has mobility problems? Is because nobody pays attention to her? Is because she is sick? Is because of all it?
4/ Why does grandma get so excited when the "medicine" starts to work?
5/ What would happen if all the farm animals of the planet were fed with the gigantic potion? Would farmers need to use the potion again?
6/ Where does grandma go to in the end?
7/ What do you think you should do when somebody annoy us a lot? What annoys you?

Dahl's narrative in this work is simple but extremely playful with some tongue twisters that reminded me of Dr Seuss.

The illustrations by Quentin Blake are very sketchy, but also fluid and successfully illustrative. I like the way George is depicted, as somewhat matches my mental image of the character.

The Kindle edition is flawless, something that always makes me happy, especially because this is an expensive-ish 134-page e-book. This edition includes a bonus preview of two chapters of Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory at the end, a brief story of Penguin Books,. and other promotional stuff to fill in more pages.

A very enjoyable amusing quick read, but supervision is needed for small children.

Welcome to Your Crisis: How to Use the Power of Crisis to Create the Life You Want by Laura Day (2006)

, 22 Nov 2016

Originally published in 2006, Welcome to Your Crisis is a practical book to face your live crises, or the crisis you are facing right now, and to get the good out of it not only successfully but reborn: stronger, wiser, healthier, and more "you" than ever before. Crisis is presented as a cathartic catalyst for positive transformation. The point of departure of Laura Day is that life is full of crises, so we better learn how to navigate them successfully, as that is what separates people who strive in life and those who succumb.

Laura explicitly says that some aspects of her "methodology" are corroborated by the work of others: Hans Selye in the field of Stress, Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi in the field of Optimal Human Functioning and sociologist Charles Fritz in the field of Human Behaviour during disasters. However, much of the advice she gives can be also related to Jungian Psychoanalysis, Positive Thinking, Behavioural Psychology and old literature on the Subconscious. If you are familiar with those, you might find some of the things Laura Day mentions in her book, a déjà-vue.  

Basic Nuggets

~~ Your current crisis might be the best thing it has happening to you, even though you don't see it know, because it will certainly make you grow, get you closer to your true self, and even change your life for the best, or just make you grow. Your crisis could be a blessing in disguise.
~~ Life is full of lessons, and you learn many of them when you are in crisis.
~~ Crisis is our way of evolving when we lack the courage to do so on our own volition.
~~ First thing to overcome a crisis is to recognise that you have one.
~~ What doesn't kill you makes you stronger.
~~ Our response to any change is within our control.
~~ Identical responses produce identical results, if you want to change your results you change your responses. New problems require new tools, new attitudes and responses.
~~ I you play victim, you cannot do anything.
~~ No action is a conscious action.
 ~~ Look forward not to the past. Don't munch on what you cannot change, just of what you can and want to change, focus on your present and future. 
~~ Regroup your energy and focus on what you want, not on what/who you don't want, hate or despise.
~~ Attention goes to what you focus on. 
~~ To Change Your World, Change Yourself
~~ Crisis is transformation delayed.
~~  Once you commit to your crisis, you commit to its resolution.

Things I Liked

~ The book has an absence of New Age spirituality mumbo-jumbo that I find very refreshing! Good for people of all religions or without religion.
~~ Day re-frames crisis, gives it a positive halo, and sheds light on it, so that we can overcome it. Every cloud has a silver lining:
 "Crisis is the challenge and the opportunity to uncover what we value, rediscover what we need, redefine what gives us pleasure, re-create a meaningful life, and reconfigure the inner workings of self. Crisis forces us to reach deep within ourselves, where we can discover treasured, powerful, forgotten parts of us that we hid long ago, even from ourselves. The lives we can create once we open this treasure chest of being exceed not only our expectations but also our imagination." (locs. 173-176)
~~ Her insistence on focusing on the present, which pervades the book, is really helpful. You need to be present not to get lost in the past or the future, need to be present to acknowledge and honour your feelings, need to be present not get ruminating in your head and your blood boiling after what you did or was done to you. Focusing on the very now gives you the perfect frame of mind to go through the basics you need to take care of for your life to function.
~~ Throughout the book, Day insists on asking ourselves "Who Am I?" Not a new question or exercise, but especially relevant in moments of crisis, because when we are in crisis our sense of self is also in crisis, even threatened. We need to look inside and see the "who" in the "I", and discover and uncover what lies beneath the "self" that is defined by profession, gender, marital status, race, nationality, age and religion. The rescue of the primitive or real self, your inner golden "I", is what we should be looking for in a crisis, so that we can bring it out and make it more fully present, honour it, and follow its path. I found the consideration of the "I" as an ecosystem or a "community" really true, and something that deeply resonates with me.
~~ I found chapter 8 on the personal mythology one of the most helpful to me. You can find your personal mythology in what you tell about yourself, how others see you, how you were seen when you were a child, and the family history that your family handed over to you. This mythology hides an internal process that we believe keeps us safe, a core fear and a core desire. If we are in crisis our myth is not working and needs to be changed so that the core desire is placed at the top of our myth and is not buried by it
You are not your story. In fact your story is inaccurate, subjective, and— unless it is helping you achieve— superfluous. You are your choices.  Your story does not dictate your life— your choices do. (loc. 1725-1728).
~~ Laura doesn't think that her tools make miracles, but is sure that they  help us without a doubt. She even says that we don't need to believe that something works, because when things work they do work disregarding whether we believe it or not. I think that sort of comment is very good for sceptics. The message is, give it a try and see what happens, don't take my word for granted, experience it.
~~ I especially liked Day's reflection on rumination ("the mind voyage of woulda, shoulda, coulda, what if, and if only.") Laura advises different things and exercises to face the present and the future and not to linger in the past. Most of the advice resonates with me and found it  very useful.
~~ There are many exercises in the book, but some of my favourites are The superhero, Packing your Trunk, Consulting our Inner Guide, and Attracting Your future. Your certainly might be others as your favourite.

Things that didn't Resonate with Me 

~~ Day says the same, with different words, quite often. Basically, it sums up as: your crisis might be the best thing that ever happened to you as something good or better will come out of it.
~~ Days classifies people in four main types based on four main knee-jerk sort of reactions to crisis: anxiety type, denial type, rage type and depression type. Generally speaking, there is true in which she says and advises, but these four types are very simplistic! People don't react always the same, as reactions depend not only on our character and temperament, but also on our circumstances, level of maturity and inner growth. In my personal experience, crisis elicits different and multiple reactions in the same people. If a love one dies I might get depressed, but that doesn't mean I am depressive. If am unfairly dismissed by my employer, I might get a mix of rage, anxiety and depression all together or in  a succession of emotional stages, and the same but in different order after a break-up. We cannot be described by our reactions unless we react always in the same way. I think if we are part of a type, the type has to be more flexible and elaborated taking more variables into account. I like the Jungian type system best. Much of the advice Day gives relates to this type classification so, unfortunately, the advice is also simplistic and not always helpful.
~~ There are basic strong differences in the ways introverts and extroverts deal with life, success and crisis. Laura Day confesses that she's an introvert, but then she gives many items of advice that involve calling your many friends, joining groups, being social, having people over. Really, introverts don't have a liking for groups, meetings or for relating to several people at the same time. Most introverts have a very small number of very close friends and they relate to them individually. Personally, dealing with my personal stuff with a group of people would be excruciating, no matter how lovely my friends are! Having any sort of gathering at home that involves more than two people would be something stressful and non-enjoyable. Joining a group that supports people in my circumstances can be helpful, but it demands a lot of mental and emotional effort from an introvert to join any group because groups per se don't ever resonate with most introverts.
~~ At times, Laura recommend asking a good friend to define or describe us. Of course, the support and advice of your friends is important, but asking our friends to define us might not be that wise! People's projections are always there, and a friend might define me according to his/her own projections. Besides, some friends will never be able to tell us the truth just because they want to protect us, or don't have the guts to be fully honest with us, or because they care very much about the relationship and don't want to put it in jeopardy by something they say. I think that getting to know our shadow, getting to know ourselves, BS free of course, will give us better answers than most friends would. For example, not long ago, when talking to a dear friend, I mentioned about my being an introvert, and he laughed and commented sarcastically, "yes sure, soooo introvert." Well, I am an introvert by the book, unless you don't want to see that. He can't see it because he projects his extroversion and being extra-social onto me because in the past I have socialised with him. Why would I ask him to describe me if he doesn't even get the most obvious essential thing about me and has known me for years?! Also, I don't want to be defined by what other people think I am! If you want, go ahead!
~~ Laura Day reminds us of the many crisis we have survived and we are still here and that the same will happen to us right now. Well, that is a psychological cognitive bias she is applying. Optimism bias?

I Agree, Somewhat 

Day says that the three "Rs" (rumination, recrimination, and retribution) divert our attention from where it should be, the present and future, not the past, and divert our energy from the centre, our centre. I agree with that totally. The solutions Day offers to overcome the 3 Rs are the 3 Fs (Forgetfulness, forgiveness and Faith-Fullness). However, I don't agree with Day that we need to forgive, forget or to forget vendetta to move on. We can move on without doing that. Said differently, unless you are obsessed about somebody or something, and these obsessions are  consuming you inside, you just need to move on.

Re forgiveness, we don't need to forgive anybody to move on. We need to focus on our life, on moving forward, on surrounding ourselves with the right people, ob doing things that make us happy, in extricating ourselves from the source of pain if possible, on limiting or severing contact with the source of pain if possible, move away, take a holiday, change city, change suburb, change flatmates, change jobs, whatever we need to do to start afresh. When our thoughts fill up with the painful memory, we need to think about other things or people, make a conscious decision to replace those painful thoughts with others that fill our heart. If we do that, constantly, we will eventually come to surprise ourselves, and think quite neutrally about those who harmed us. That also requires time, and cannot be done by magic. I do believe that forgiveness is something that people should earn, not a free gift we have to distribute to jerks who used, abused and harmed us despite being fully aware of their actions. Otherwise, I don't see the problem. We are all human. We can understand that somebody harmed us unwillingly. But too often, the harm is willingly inflicted.

Against recrimination ("the desire to be made whole by the act of a just outcome"), I agree that in the heat and proximity of the event, you are less rational, less fair, and you can do more harm to yourself.  Day says:
be aware of the reality that you will cause yourself far more harm than you will inflict on another when you seek retribution in the heat of the moment.(loc. 1530-1531)
I agree that vendetta is best served in a cold plate, but of course I want vendetta. I want the Universe to punish those people who did harm to me on purpose, who were aware of the damage they were causing, that were conscious of their actions inflicting harm, those who used or abused me or those who showed a complete lack of ethical behaviour but preached high morals. I will be celebrating  their fall, Martini in hand. I don't obsess about this, I just hope to see the boomerang effect effectuated before I die. They idea of the Universe punishing them makes me move on faster, believe it or not. I don't feel the urge to kill anybody, I feel the urge of the Universe to do the job for me.

Things I Missed

~~ Laura Day is a brilliant intuitive. This being the case, I was expecting some specific exercises or information on how intuition can help us specifically in our crisis. She mentions many times that intuition is a guidance when we are in crisis. Well, why not giving specific information about how to access intuition when we are in crisis and blocked?
~~ Although I liked the book and what Day says, and some of the tools she gives, I missed a bit of a more structure and cohesive system. For example, once we have read the book and do the exercises, do we do them again? for how long should we do the exercises? A year, every week, every day? In which order? Can we do some of them and not others? In the order they are mentioned in the book or in another? All of them or just those we like? That sort of very simple but practical info was missing most of the time

Rendering for Kindle

The book is quite well edited,  with barely any typo. Something I never take for granted in Kindle! So, that is always a big thumbs up from me. However, the index of chapters in the side menu and at the beginning of the book has not titles, just numbers. I mean, how difficult and how much work would have taken the editor to link the title of the chapter with the number of the chapter? Little! 

In Short

This is good overall lift-me up sort of book, well written, with some exercises to stop, ponder and seld-answer. This is a general book on crisis, so if you are going through serious illness, a nasty divorce, the death of a love one, bankruptcy  or job  severance, I would personally be looking for specific books on those  subjects. Although Day is well known for her work on intuition, and intuition is mentioned repeatedly in this work, the aim of the book is not to develop intuition, but how to face your crisis using your intuition.  If you want to develop your intuition you need to check other books by Laura Day, not this one. To me, the best part of the book are the last three or four chapters, as they offer, perhaps, the advice, exercises and introspection that resonated most with me. It could be differently for any other person, of course.

Powerhunch!: Living An Intuitive Life by Dr Marcia Emery (2001)

, 11 Nov 2016

 "What’s intuition? It’s a clear understanding that comes not from our logical mind— the part that knows how to do the math— but from a deeper part of our being." (loc. 188) "The intuitive antenna inside your body that picks up the pictures, symbols, images, ideas, and feelings from your intuitive mind and beams them onto the screen of your conscious awareness. This antenna is constantly receiving and transmitting messages from within and without." (loc.303)


Powerhunch explains in a very simple language how intuition works, which sort of questions you can ask, how and when to ask them, and which sort of approaches you can use to help in your decision making or to answer precise questions, no matter how difficult or trivial they might be: personal relationships, job challenges, health issues, relocation, insights re situations and people, directions about timing and paths to follow.

Stress blocks our logical decision making, so intuition is  an  alternative helping hand. Besides, developing your intuition leads to developing your creativity, so you can just use intuition for artistic purposes. Intuition is not something that some special enlightened people have, we all have it, it is a matter of learning how to notice it, use it and handle it properly, how to cultivate it and how to weed it.

The book gives good advice on how to fire up your creative juices, how to work with visualisation, dream interpretation, learn when to risk, when it is the best time to do something, how to figure out somebody's dynamics, to solve romantic, social and work relationships, and find balance, release stress, promote self-healing and to use different breathing techniques to get you relaxed and favour the intuitive spark.

Dr Emery is a pioneer in the field of intuition and has a great knowledge of how intuition works, and how we can use it, so she provides the reader with a good deal of fun and easy-to-remember exercises. She uses a mix of intuitive exercises to open our physical, mental, emotional and spiritual channels, and mixes them up with dreamwork, synchronicity, and visualisation techniques. 

The many examples of real cases mentioned in the book come from the 225 people Emery interviewed for this book. 

The best virtue of the book is its practicality: the exercises and techniques that Emery  describes, and the clear guidelines she gives to carry them out. Some of my favourite exercises are the Yes or No button, the Powershift technique (which reminds me greatly of Jungian techniques for dream interpretation), the intuitive timepiece exercise, the environmental clues, and the metaphor exercise. 


> Powerhunch has a chit-chat tone that can be innervating at times. It does not favour the author either because dilutes her wisdom in a soup of blah blah blah, so her enthusiasm appears as rambling, and some of her colloquial writing more proper for a blog than for a book. Pity because many of the techniques Emery mentions are stupendous.

> Besides, the book has an endless number of real life examples, a good deal of them totally unnecessary.  I enjoy real life examples and the description of how a real person deals with a specific personal intuition clue, but if the examples are not to the point or too many they become a bother and not something inspirational or enjoyable.

> I find  shocking a PhD recipient making statements of this sort: Physicists have demonstrated the existence of eleven dimensions. (loc. 147-152) So, who exactly? Which are these eleven dimensions?

In cases like this I tend to blame the editors. Because, it is their duty to remove unnecessary fluff and demand from the author more substance, remove repeated information, help with the structuring of the work,  promote a reference note system when necessary and so forth. Also, the headings of the book are humongous in size, some of them occupying a lot of space, so they become another filler!

> We live in the digital age. Writing page after page describing a breathing exercise is a reflection of a bygone era. One can easily record an audio with the exercises and offer them to readers for download, so they can do some of the exercises using Emery's guiding voice. This wouldn't cost much, but could have brought the book to the present 21st century.


The book was published in the year 2001, so the bibliography is out of date.


> senstive to context (loc. 142)
> activtate your  (p. 26)


An entertaining light introduction to develop your intuition based on Emery's course of the same name, Powerhunch! The breathing exercises and many of the intuitive exercises in the book are excellent, so I recommend making flash cards on your Kindle, or manually to use them once you finish the book, so you don't have to go all over again as there is a lot of unnecessary talking in the book that you don't need to re-read. 


If you are interested in developing your intuition, start with PowerHunch!, and then read Laura Day and Sonia Choquette's books. Personally, I think that Laura Day's  books Practical Intuition and How to Rule the World from your Couch, take you to places that Emery's never does, and the same can be said of Laurie Nadel's Sixth Sense. Some of the exercises that Emery offers in the book are also similar to those that Robert Moss recommends in Sidewalk Oracles but she did present those years before. 


I paid almost 14 bucks for this e-book, but the same e-book in another edition is sold at half the price in Amazon, PowerHunch!.

How to Rule the World from Your Couch. The Power of Intuition by Laura Day (2011)

, 7 Nov 2016

I have always been very intuitive, and I had used Laura Day's  books to develop it.

This book is very well structured, written in a very accessible approachable language, and provides  the reader with many exercises, items of advice and information to develop our intuition in general, and some intuitive channels in particular. You will learn to develop: mediumship (the ability to become someone or something else and view the word from that perspective), telepathy (the ability to send and receive information from a distance), body heat telepathy (the ability to connect physically and emotionally with a person from a distance), remote viewing (the ability to perceive a scene in another space and time), precognition, and healing (transferring energy remotely to have an effect on people or situations). This book is a good companion to Practical Intuition, which I would read before this book, and Practical Intuition in Love, ditto,  as the chapter Body Heat Telepathy is mostly devoted to relationships.

I love this book because is practical, it does not oppose logic and intuition,  but supports it, and it does not have the New Age spirituality  bias that other books on intuitive development suffer from. The exercises are very engaging and entertaining, and I love the way Day explains how to analyse the intuitive. "data",  and how to further our intuition.

 I found this book clearer than his classic Practical Intuition, and more accurate regarding the results I have experienced, especially in areas that I paid little attention in the past, like remote viewing, which kept me uttering wow after wow.

The chapter on Mediumship wasn't much of my liking because it wasn't that empathic, was more manipulative, in a way. That was the vibe I got. This being the case this was the chapter from which I benefited the least. Perhaps this sort of mediumship, which is not such but more a kind of embodiment,  are something I'm not good at even though I'm very empathic. 

You might not rule the world from your couch after reading this book, but my experience has been so positive that I highly recommend it to anybody who has a high level of intuition or simply believes that intuition can be increased and developed for problem solving,  decision making, to enhance all kind of human relationships, or just to surprise yourself with your own abilities.

My only wish is that the book had more practical exercises, especially those in which the reader does not know the question is answering! I would love Laura Day to write a book of exercises of this type!

An amazing book.

Audible for Android App

Audible is one of the best and more domineering apps for audio books in the market. I have been using the app first on my PC and then on my smartphone for many years.

The selection of books is the best you can fin, not only novels, but also for non-fiction books and educational stuff. This is the case for Audible America, as other subsidiary branches are not even half as good and I would rather subscribe to Audible America than to Audible whatever country even if you pay a little bit more.

 Here a wrap-up of my experience with Audible


>> Audible is a great listening app devoted to Audible-formatted audio books.
>> The app is really easy to use and move around.
>> In the lateral menu you can find almost anything: your library, the store, wish-list, FAQ, settings, etc. Besides, the vertical triple dots beside the account name and beside each book give you extra options.
>> You can decide whether to download the books into your device or your SD card.
>> You can choose the quality of the recording you download, standard or HQ, the latter being almost double in size.
>> If you are registered with Amazon, you can access Audible without the need of having to register or signing in again.
>> You can listen to your books online, on your PC, on your tablet and smartphone. I do have them in three different devices and I have no problem at all.
>> Customer Service is easy to reach by phone, mail and chat and they are very helpful and lovely people!
>> One can report a problem or bug from the app itself, from the help section.
>> Good quality sound, crystal-clear recordings and well presented works.


> If you are blind and rely on audio books for reading.
> If your purchase audio books mostly from Audible and don't need or want them to use them in Universal readers with other audio books from other stores.
> If you pay for the Annual Platinum Membership, you get two credits per month and will be paying about 10 bucks per item.
> If you are buying a book that has the same price or less than the version on paper or Kindle.
> If you are buying an unabridged copy of a long book or a series compiled together.
> If you are buying a course with many lectures, like those from The Great Courses and The Modern Scholar, as they are great value for money, and much cheaper than the CD or Video recording, and they come with the full companion book on PDF.
> If you spend your credits on expensive books, not on the cheapies. One credit can buy you a 10-buck audio book or a 60-buck audio book, so the latter is always the best value for money. If you have a long list of books you are interested on, choose the most expensive!
> If you know that the narrator of a book is really good. You can pre-listen to the course, for free, before buying. That gives you a clear idea, or at least does so to me.
> If you are a traveller or just move a lot between cities or countries, any digital format is the best thing for your life-style, as they don't need to be packaged or carried, and you have them always available in your member area.


~ Audible plans are pricey. I understand that an audible book is not just a book,as the process of recording and the paying of the narrator need to be taken into account. The price cannot be the same as printing a copy on paper or publishing an e-book. However, some books are still expensive for average families, especially if you are an avid reader or listener!
~ The simple membership per month is almost 15 bucks, but one gets just one credit. In the past used to be two!
~ One cannot find the annual memberships in the member area. One has to surf the FAQ and then contact Customer Service to get the subscription done. That is a pity because the annual memberships are the best option for people, or at least for me.
~ If you buy a Kindle book and there is an Audible version of the same, the latter is offered to you at reduced prices. Well, the contrary is not the case! I recommend checking the Kindle format first and them buying the audio book if you really want the two, instead of doing the contrary. It will save you money.
~ The chapters do not have title in the lateral menu, just numbers. That is so unhelpful!
~ The app is synchronizable and you can buy from the app, so they need access to a few things in your device: identity, phone number, acces to Wi-Fi and microphone. I am OK with that. What I am not OK is with Audible-Amazon having an open door to my contacts (why?!), my photos, media, device id, call log, etc. 
~~ You cannot read your audible books in other apps as they are DRP docos, even when the authors themselves are OK with you having the right to use the book the way you like it once you purchase it.
~~ When you buy an Audible book you are just hiring the copy for life, sort of, you cannot lend it to your mum or "bestie" for reading as you would do with a hard copy. In other words, you don't own the book, you own the right to have your book in your member area as long as you are member. 


> As previously mentioned, the chapters do not have titles in the lateral menu, just numbers. That would be easy to fix!
> The statistics suffer from some sort of bug, and don't seem to be accurate or synchronise properly. And they could enlarge the group of badges to include those referred to humanities, sciences, religion, entertainment, literature, other languages, etc.
> I cannot transfer my files from my android to my computer and listen to them in my PC. This is a bother, because my Internet is monthly quota-capped and downloading bulky files twice is a no-no. Why not fixing that?!
> Improve the pricing. Make more types of memberships and reward people who use the app a lot.
> I used to love Audible logo, but it has become another orange bland logo without distinctive personality. Please change it!

Customs of the World: Using Cultural Intelligence to Adapt, Wherever You Are by Professor David Livermore (2013)

, 1 Nov 2016

David Livermore PhD, President of the Cultural Intelligence Center and an expert on the field, will delight listeners with this entertaining, poignant and very helpful course that helps to understand the multicultural multifaceted world we live in.

If you have a high CQ (or  a high level of cultural awareness and receptivity) you will naturally gravitate towards this course. If you aren't, just give the course a chance, as the lectures will help you in your travels overseas or simply to understand your foreign neighbours better.

I have travelled throughout the world and on my own  quite frequently, so I can say that the advice given in the course is sound and well-grounded, and that Livermore's approach to the cultures of the world is quite accurate. There is a Spanish proverb that I love: "allá donde fueres, haz lo que vieres", which roughly translates, "wherever you go, do what the locals do"; this is, precisely, one of the main items of advice in the course.

I found the lectures most helpful to understand my life as an immigrant and I got a few ahas! and "that is it" from  the first twelve lectures.That it is priceless.

The course is not a list of dos or do-nots, although some of those are provided at the end of each of the lectures devoted to individual cultural areas of the world.


The course is structured in two main parts. The first part is an overview of ten pairs of opposed general traits that serve to define most cultures (lessons 3-12). The second part gives a general overview of the different cultural clusters of the world, which are configured by applying the criteria mentioned in the first lectures, as well as religion, family structure, and history. The course starts with a definition of what CQ (Cultural Intelligence index) is, and ends with a series of practical items of advice on how to prepare to travel to a country with a different culture.

The list of lectures is: 1- Culture Matters. 2- Developing Cultural Intelligence. 3- Identity—Individualist versus Collectivist. 4- Authority—Low versus High Power Distance. 5- Risk—Low versus High Uncertainty Avoidance. 6- Achievement—Cooperative versus Competitive. 7- Time—Punctuality versus Relationships. 8- Communication—Direct versus Indirect. 9- Lifestyle—Being versus doing. 10- Rules—Particularist versus Universalist. 11- Expressiveness—Neutral versus Affective. 12- Social Norms—Tight versus Loose. 13- Roots of Cultural Differences. 14- Anglo Cultures. 15- Nordic European Cultures. 16-  Germanic Cultures. 17-Eastern European/Central Asian. 18- Latin European Cultures. 19- Latin American Cultures. 20-  Confucian Asian  Cultures. 21- South Asian Cultures. 22- Sub-Saharan African Cultures. 23- Arab Cultures. 24- Cultural Intelligence for Life.


> Livermore is a wonderful speaker: very engaging, has a great tone, pitch and voice inflection, very entertaining and open minded. He is also able to structure and present the material in a way that is both easy to understand, and easy to apply to our personal lives and cultural context. He gives many examples of his personal life, which perfectly apply to what he is explaining.
> Livermore explains why some clichés and stereotypes aren't true and what lies beneath them, and repeatedly reminds listeners that what he is saying is general and cannot be taken as a black-and-white description. We are not robots, we are part of our culture, but also individuals.
> Another point I loved, is the the importance the Livermore gives to food, the foods, how food is eaten, table manners, table customs, etc. to see the values and characteristics of any given culture. It is very true!
> I found Livermore especially good at individuating a simple element within a culture, one that might be apparently not relevant, and turn it into a symbol of the culture he is describing. One of the best examples, to me is how he uses the Matrioshka dolls to explain the characteristics of the Eastern European block, or Ikea for the Nordics. There are many examples of the same type.
 > Livermore basically tell us to look at the world with fresh eyes, with less stereotypes and clichés, and to learn to appreciate the richness of ways of being and doing that humans exhibit, which aren't better or worse than any other, just different.
> I loved the fact that Livermore pointed out that the fact that a person belongs to a certain culture doesn't eliminate their individuality, so we cannot judge a culture by the behaviour of an individual, or vice versa.
> One of the best items of advice in the course is that we, Livermore included, have prejudices, and that the more we become aware of them, the better will be face other cultures and people from other cultures with the right attitude.
> We don't need to love or agree with the customs or culture of a given region or country, we need to respect them. It sounds simple, but basically I find most travellers I come across when I don't travel on my own doing just the contrary! Demanding. Disrespecting. Showing disgust because some people don't speak English or have a strong accent and a long list of grievances that are very painful to witness.
> This course has put Livermore in my author-to-follow radar. I liked a lot how he speaks, his attitude and the way he presents the material.


> One of the main divisions of cultures is the structure of family. Although Livermore mentions family structure when discussing some culture clusters, there is no specific lesson devoted to something as important. I thought that nuclear vs extended family was a lesson necessary and missing from the course!
> The same can be said of the role of women. Being a woman who has travelled on my own to many places, I can tell you that there is a huge difference between cultures where women are treated with respect disregarding whether they are married or not, and others where that is not the case. I missed a lesson on that. Too often, I find myself discussing things with male travellers about a given country or area, and we had different experiences basically because of our gender.
> The same can be say about cultures that are gay friendly or anti-gay. Some of my friends are gay, and you have to think about many things if you are married to a person of the same gender to certain areas or sleep in the same bed when going to certain parts of the world.
> Another element missing, although hinted during the discussion of cultural clusters, is the generational gap.The country where my parents lived in and the one I was born and grew up were two extremes regarding structure of the family, social hierarchy, power distance, open communication etc. That has been the source of great generational conflict. You have to be aware that if you visit my country and deal with old people you will find a set of values, and if you deal with me or people younger than me you will find another. So, I missed a bit of more emphasis on that.
>  In a way, when I picked this course I wanted not only to improve my CQ and to learn about other cultures, but also to learn how to respond to people from other cultures who have a low CQ but utter very offensive, albeit subtle, racist and very demeaning comments about my culture and country of origin mostly based on prejudice and ignorance. I consider responding well to those attacks and abuse part of improving my CQ. However, this is the most difficult thing in the world to do when one feels hurt or unfairly treated on the basis of nothing. I expected some advice on that, but nothing is provided in the course. Perhaps this was just an expectation, and not part of what having CQ is?


> Livermore's  rosy version of the Anglo-Saxon culture and the British Empire. Really, I found offensive  the consideration that the British collaborated with local population and ignoring how the British crushed local populations,, how they destroyed Native Americans, Aborigines and any other culture that wasn't willing to accept their domination. Collaboration happened in some places, but the locals were never considered equals or equal human beings.  Do you remember Gandhi being thrown out of the train and tortured by the British? I leave it there.
> Livermore insists on us not using the information in the course to create stereotypes or clichés. Yet, if you choose a Brazilian as  an example of a person whonis always late or an Ukrainian as an example of rude customer service you are perpetuating the stereotypes! It doesn't matter that Livermore gives very successful explanations for those things.
 > I tend to excuse non-historians in their historical digressions. However, Livermore has a great authority when speaking, and I found a bit dangerous that some of his statements can be taken at face value. Like the one mentioned above about the British colonisation, or the statement that the cultural cluster with more influence in the world has been the Anglo-Saxon... well, just if you are part of that group. If you dig into the structure of your psyche, you will be astonished at discovering that the Western World and part of the Middle East fed on the Greco-Roman culture, ways of being and thinking that persist in our world  no matter you are a Norwegian, a German or an American. Then, the origin of civilisation is in Africa and in Far Middle East, not in Britain, USA nor even Australia. Christianity was born and spread from the Mediterranean, Islam from the Middle East,  Buddhism from Asia.
 > I find seriously ridiculous including Greece in the Eater European cluster. Yes, it is true that the Eastern Europeans fed on the Greek alphabet and Orthodox faith, but, 1/ Greeks are, re their ways of being, doing and thinking, basically Mediterranean and Southern European. 2/ They have never been nomads in the way that Mongolians or Central Asians have been. 3/They are in the Mediterranean, not in Central Europe or Asia. 4/ Greek Culture was the basis of  the Roman  Culture.  5/They have never been part of the USSR. 6/ Etc.!
> A few things are ignored to put Greek with the Eastern Europeans, and then Israel, a nomadic culture by definition, Arab in part is put with the Southern Europeans. Have you ever lived in the Middle East? Well, Israel fits there perfectly.


> I was in Norway just a few months ago. The Janteloven, the "you are nothing special" that seems to infuse Norwegian culture that Livermore mentions so many times is in gus lecture. Older people complain about the younger generations being cocky, showy and too individualistic, so unless you are over 60+, Janteloven is not as important as used to be. Also Livermore mentions that Norwegians aren't in the EU as if they are too good and don't need it, but the fact is that other Nordic countries are in the EU, Norway cannot enter the EU because, if they did, their economy would literally be crushed; and also Norwegians have been historically linked or dependent to/from  other Nordic countries and they want to be just themselves and independent. 
> Livermore mentions repeatedly that "Work to live instead of live to work" is the basis of the Nordic way of living. Well as much as of the Southern European way of living! Just to give a personal example, I worked in Dublin, in a hotel, many years ago, to pay for my English school; most of the workers were seasonal young Europeans, North-Africans and Asians. According to one of the housekeeping managers, the difference between the Southern Europeans and the rest was that they wanted and needed the money as much anybody else, but once they finished work they wanted to have fun and free time, while people from other areas would prefer the money and work in their days off.
> Calling some European cultures "paternalistic" is perpetuating an American stereotype, no matter Livermore says he is using the word with a different meaning than it is used normally. Why not using "egalitarian" or "caring"?
> The comments on the role of women in Southern Europe is also biased and probably true for 80-90y.o. people. Yet, in the year 2016, the index of domestic violence in Sweden and Australia is higher than in some Southern European countries; of course nobody will tell an Australian ir a Swedish that their men are one of most violent and therefore quite domineering over women.