This blog is mainly about the things I know and love... technology and gadgets. There's a bit of customer service stuff in here too, both good and bad. There's also some environmental and political comment, and some very personal stuff too. These articles should be regarded as solely the opinion or experiences of the author. If anyone feels that they have been unfairly represented by these articles, please contact me. Any comments are solely the views of the commenters, and unpleasant comments will be removed.
I saw a particularly irritating posting on Facebook today. At the time of writing, it had been shared two and a half thousand times, and liked nine thousand times. A dreamy photograph of a couple on a bench, with the Golden Gate Bridge (I think) in the far distance. The caption read "Once in a lifetime you meet someone who changes everything..."
Almost inexplicably, I found this intensely irritating, probably because it's a load of rubbish. I understand the sentiment it's trying to convey, and it's superficially OK if you regard it from a certain perspective, but really it's appealing to a very specific audience - presumably, people who are waiting for Mr or Mrs Right to come along. I have a number of problems with this.
Firstly, what if Mr/Mrs Right comes along and then goes and dies on you, or runs off with the next door neighbour? Yes, that person has certainly changed everything. However, in those circumstances I'd like another Mr/Mrs Right to come along please, so definitely not once in a lifetime. On the basis of the statement, I've probably had my life changing meeting, so basically I'm screwed for the next 20 or 30 years or however long I last.
Secondly, if you take the statement literally, you could include serial killers, drunk drivers or even good/bad bosses on the list.
Finally, I'm personally of the opinion that you make life changing decisions every day. Every time you cross the road, for example. Every interaction changes you a little. Life is not predetermined and dependent on huge one-off events or meetings with particular individuals. Life is complex and intertwined with others', is unpredictable and ever changing (sometimes for the better, sometimes for the worse), and to some extent can be steered through your own efforts and attitude to life. This is fundamentally why I find the statement irritating.
I want "once in a lifetime" things to happen every day, otherwise life is pretty boring.> Add a comment >
Certain anniversaries and events, and something someone said to me recently, made me reflect on the recent past, and today seems a good day to go public.
To the day, it's exactly 14 months since Clare died and 12 months since I ruptured my Achilles tendon. It's been a difficult 14 months, that's for sure. During my blacker moments, I've wondered what the point is, and have been tempted to reach for the gin (or sometimes worse). However, I never have, and never would.
There is always cause for hope and optimism. It's tempting (as a glass half empty person) to look back and think that another year has gone by and it's been bloody terrible, but it hasn't. In the last year, there have been moments of real joy, delight, and exhilaration. Some really good times with friends and family, and on my own. Even simple things like lying on top of North Hill, listening to the larks and feeling the wind and sun on my face, are precious and delightful moments.
Life can be pretty bad sometimes, but maybe you need the bad times in order to properly appreciate the good times.
A final aside regarding Facebook. Facebook can be extremely depressing. Watching other people having a great time, while you aren't, can be unhelpful if you are in the wrong mindset. Liking Facebook posts and pages for things that you can't achieve, or as a substitute for the real thing, is just fantasy. Fantasy is OK, in moderation. I've "liked" numerous photos of Scotland, but what I should have done is just organised a trip up there and taken my own photos. There are complex reasons why I haven't, but let's call them excuses.
Don't get me wrong, social media is great, but it's not a substitute for real life, not even when you're stuck at home with your leg in plaster, missing the person who usually organises your holidays for you! Also, posting stuff on Facebook when you are looking for sympathy is just self-indulgence. I've considered deleting my Facebook account on several occasions, but really it's just a matter of keeping things in perspective.> Add a comment >
In the last month, the UK has voted to leave the European Union, we have a new UK government (almost), there has been another terrorist attack in France and an attempted coup in Turkey. Other news (which hasn't got much publicity) includes a scientific report that states that a lack of biodiversity is likely to endanger the human race, and the cost of Hinkley Point nuclear powerstation has risen from its original £6bn to an estimated £18bn (perhaps as much as £30bn over its lifetime, which I presume doesn't include decommissioning costs). Oh, and the northern jetstream has apparently crossed the equator, which basically means we're all screwed.
The only good news (from my perspective) in the past month has been the casting out of Michael Gove into the political wilderness, and Portugal winning the football (I had them in the office sweepstake).
I could go to the trouble of commenting at length on all of the above, but to be honest it's mostly too depressing to bother.> Add a comment >
It's been a long time since I updated this blog, and last August/September was a really bad time for me. Losing ones partner of 23 years, and then rupturing ones achilles tendon (meaning 3 months of immobility), is not a nice thing to happen. Of course, many people have much worse things to bear, but that didn't give me much solace.
I really was counting the days whilst I was in plaster, but once the anti-depressants kicked in, and I reached the half-way point, things didn't seem quite so bad. I was reconciled to my situation, and managed to maintain an optimistic outlook.
Early in November (after 9 weeks) the cast was removed and I was given a rigid walking boot. Four weeks later the boot was off and I managed to walk without it. The consultant indicated there was a quite high chance of rerupturing in the first 3 months out of plaster - in fact, as high as 15%. As a result, I've been very careful. My tendon should be back to full strength by now, but I'm still paranoid.
Since then I've had issues with swelling (which can last for a year) and occasional cramp in my calf. Both of these are getting better though. My calf is still weak, but in a way I'm quite glad, because the lack of strength is helping prevent me doing anything stupid. Everything is getting back to normal, slowly.
My friends have been great, and have kept me going. Some people have let me down, or maybe I've let them down. Who knows, but frankly it makes little difference either way. My life is getting back on track; that's all that matters.
I've managed to exorcise a few demons. I've had my first weekend away on my own since before I was married, and things like going into a pub on my own don't seem so scary anymore. I have a number of plans; I've just got to get round to organising myself, and not sink into a rut.
Onwards and upwards!> Add a comment >
The following article was originally published in the Autumn 2015 edition of Green World magazine, the official magazine of the Green Party, written by Peter Barnett. It so succinctly sums up the current Tory government's position on the environment, and my own personal opinions, that I have reproduced it in full (with permission).> Add a comment >
I discovered a list of 20 useful pieces of advice to help you live your life, via a Tweet on Twitter. It was the usual "click bait" kind of thing, heavy with adverts and links to lots of other pointless lists, and had already been stolen off various other websites. However, I thought that this time the contents were quite interesting, so I've shamelessly compiled then into an advert-free version and then placed them on my own website.> Add a comment >