Archive for January 2007

Productive Monday

Posted on Monday 29th January 2007 at 00:00
Well, it seems that I've managed to be quite good this morning. Unlike every other morning for the last month or so, I haven't stayed in bed until the absolute last moment, rushed around like a mad man to get ready and then gone straight to work. Today I actually got up early. About an hour earlier than I needed, to be precise. See, towards the end of last night, I suddenly turned super productive, despite feeling tired, and not only ploughed my way through most of the jobs I should have been doing all day, but also wrote myself a list of things to do this morning, so that I wouldn't forget what needed to be done before work.

I don't know why, but it is always a lot easier to ensure that you do something when it is written on a list. I'm not sure why, but for some reason you just can't ignore it. When the list is in your head, it is all too easy to 'forget? to do the things you'd rather not do, without really feeling guilty. Not so with a written list, oh no. Those unwanted chores sit there on the page, silently mocking you, whilst all the while, the guilt burns its way through your soul.

My list for this morning contained 7 items. Of these 7, I've so far managed to complete 3, am doing the fourth as we speak (writing my blog), have left time to do another two before I have to leave for work, and have only decided to defer one (the washing up) until tonight, since I'll probably be home before anyone else so shall have it all done and put away before anyone wishes to cook dinner.

All in all, not a bad morning, and it is only 10 past 10 :-)

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A New Perspective

Posted on Sunday 28th January 2007 at 00:00
I'm at a party that's been laid on for the staff from Catering Services. Sort of like a Christmas party, but not Christmas themed, thank God! The food is devoured, the wine has flowed and begins to run out and naturally everyone's attention turns to the dance floor. Despite not having had anything to drink myself and regardless of my many protests, I find myself being dragged from my seat to partake of a dance or 10.

As the night wears on and the dancing continues, I find myself once again stuck in that strange place between childhood and adulthood, where a previously inconceivable notion presents itself as a newly understood truth. I'm no longer the boy spending time with a group of adults who are tolerating my presence because I am polite and occasionally funny; I'm the adult spending time with other adults who see me as an adult in my own right and as an equal. They aren't dancing with me because I'm a novelty but because I'm one of them and they want to include me.

Suddenly everything I see in them changes. As they see me as their equal, so too do I begin to see them. They aren't my elders, at least not by very many years, they are my peers. I see them as people it is ok to dance with, joke with, laugh with and even flirt with, should the opportunity present itself. This simple change in outlook equates to a whole different perspective on my life. I realise that actually, here is a whole group of people I can socialise and spend time with, rather than simply work alongside two or three days a week.

After a long period of little or no socialising at all in Bristol, beside the odd coffee with someone on my course, or the infrequent chats to my housemates, here is potentially the opportunity for more regular and fulfilling experiences with those around me. A small group of us move on from the party to one of the student bars on campus where, despite none of us being students, except for me, the whole group blends into the crowd, and the line between adult colleagues and friends blurs even further.

At the end of the night I give a few people a lift home and eventually arrive back at my own house a little before 3am. I walk into my room and survey the devastation. About 10 minutes before leaving for the party I discovered I'd lost my cufflinks, an essential part of the outfit I was already wearing. I'd then proceeded to tear my room to pieces trying to find them before eventually giving up and leaving without making a start on the tidying.

My first thought on seeing the heaps of clothes, books, stationary, electronics and toiletries scattered all over the bed and floor is Thank God I didn't pull tonight, I could never have brought anyone back to this! I've never really seen this as a problem before, not just because the chances of my pulling are zero, but also because the level of socialising which I tend to do at uni is so low that I know I'll never get caught inviting someone into a messy house.

Perhaps that isn't true anymore though. If the people I work with are potential friends now, then who knows how many people I could potentially find myself entertaining. The days when the only people I expected to see were the people on my course are clearly long gone.

This morning I woke up inspired. I decided that I'm going to turn this room into the sort of place I'd actually be prepared to let someone walk into at a moment's notice. I've been sort of thinking about this for a while as part of that desperate desire to transform from poor student to trendy bachelor. Among my other plans is one to overhaul my work space, since this is where I spend most of my time. I began this today with a trip to PC World, where I bought a new wireless keyboard, which matches my mouse and a new mouse mat. The idea is to go for a minimalist desk, free from all the clutter and cables that are slowly sending me insane.

In addition to this I've just ordered a 20? flat screen monitor for the computer, which will double as a decent sized screen for watching DVDs on, since I can't see a thing on my TV unless I'm sat pretty close to it. As well as clearing the desk, I'm aiming to remove some of the clutter from the rest of my room if I can. There is a limit to what I can do of course, what with having to squeeze into one room what most people fill their entire houses with, but I think with a good clear out this place could be made to look pretty cool. At least that way I won't outgrow the room before my time at uni is up.

In case anyone reading this is shaking their heads in disbelief at my seemingly out of control spending, I should point out that this is all part of my grand master plan for life, such as it is. IE to continue to increase my earning potential as much as I can, and as I do so, gradually replace and upgrade various possessions in order to keep up with the times. When my old keyboard came along, about 7 years ago, they were just getting the idea of having extra buttons for email and web browsers etc. That keyboard came with three extra keys. This one came with 24. Go figure. When I'm earning a little more I'll be able to switch from upgrading my computer all the time to buying a succession of properties and working my way up that ladder. Funny the things you plan in advance isn't it?

P.S I'm sat here with headphones on and it is a couple of minutes since the last track I was listening to finished. Suddenly a hidden track starts playing super loudly, beginning with the sound of a car engine starting. I very nearly soil myself.

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Inside The Mind

Posted on Tuesday 23rd January 2007 at 00:00
In my bid to be a total copy-cat when it comes to everything blog related, I decided today to do what almost every blogger I know has done and have created a 'Best Bits? section for my navigation panel. Inside The Mind is a show case of the 10 best posts for those wishing to get an idea of what Ignorminious? Misty Mind is all about.

I've picked out a mixture of posts from among the archives that I'm either particularly proud of or I think may help readers to understand me better. This list needn't be static as I hope to write many much more exciting posts in the future but in order for me to keep it up to date I need your input.

Every time I write a post which you think is worthy of being added to Inside The Mind, comment on the post telling me what you like about it and which entry you think it should replace. Since 10 items is already more than most new visitors are likely to read anyway, I feel I've got to operate a strict one in one out system to keep the list under control. All posts will, as ever, remain available in the Archives for anyone who wishes to read them.

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Shot In The Foot

Posted on Monday 22nd January 2007 at 00:00
Earlier this afternoon I was musing about how my life now differs from my life this time last year. It occurred to me that all in all, I felt like I had a lot more free time on my hands back then. I know it is common to view past events with a certain nostalgia that warps our perception of such memories until they seem like nothing more than happy dreams, but none the less I remained adamant that I had had more time back then than I do now.

Although a good deal of this reduction in free time can be put down to my being unemployed back then and the fact that I now go to all my lectures, rather than just considering going, I think I've found another cause for my new found shortage of time in which to be idle. The humble RSS Feed.

This little addition to the technology world, which came into my life right at the end of my second year of uni, was invented as a time saving device to allow the user to view information from many different web sites all in one place, rather than having to return to the origins of each news item to check for an update.

The trouble is that like almost all other bits of technology originally invented to make our lives easier, it hasn't had exactly the expected effect on my life style. The idea was that by using RSS feeds I could spend less time sourcing information each day and so could go off and do something different with my new found free time. In reality, I seem to have used it as an excuse for simply cramming more sourcing into the same period of time, not saving myself any time to do other things. I'm sure many people are seeing parallels here with the invention of the computer, the type writer, sliced bread, horse and plough, wheel etc.

Whereas before RSS I'd go to say the BBC News Front Page and pick out 5 or 6 articles to read which looked interesting each day, the RSS feed for the page presents me with 20 or 30 headlines that I have to browse through when I wake up in the morning, and even though I don't read all the stories, I find myself having the read each and every headline and consider its importance before I can decide about reading it. There are no pictures to capture my eye and nothing to tell me which are the important stories and which are ultra minor news.

In some ways this is good as it means I get to read articles I might never have otherwise come across, but on the other hand I now spend two or three times as long checking on the news as I used to. The same is true of blogs. Once upon a time I used to check maybe two or three blogs a day to see if they'd been updated. Now I have around a dozen in my common feed list, and because I can tell at a glance which ones have been updated I find myself going straight to each post and reading it then and there, regardless of how many there might be a day.

So, when I look back and wonder what has happened to the hours of my life I used to spend reading books and watching films I find, like so many before me, I've become a victim of the latest wave of technologies brought to us to 'improve? our lives.

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Don't You Hate It When ….

Posted on Monday 22nd January 2007 at 00:00
Don't you hate it when you feel like you?re getting your life on track and everything is going the way you want it to and then BANG! you get hit in the face with something that begins to slowly undo all your careful handy work? It's not only annoying but also totally disheartening.

In this case it is my hours at work, which are gradually being cut more and more with each week that passes. When I first started work back in November I was working 10-3 twice a week. Today that was reduced to 11-2:30 with the likelihood of it being cut further in the future. It doesn't matter so much this week, because I'm doing some extra work elsewhere which will bump up my hours, but what about in future weeks when the only hours available are my basic ones? I'd planned all my spending over the next few months and perhaps even into next year around the idea that I'd be earning a minimum of '200 a month. Now it looks like I might be earning half that in the future, or perhaps even losing my job altogether.

What annoys me the most is that I'm not surplus to requirements. It isn't like they are over staffed (if anything it is the opposite) and they need to down size. It is simply that we've been ordered to cut costs until we are breaking even again and as the only person on my shift who doesn't have their hours safe guarded by a contract, I'm the first person to feel the pinch.

If anything could be more annoying, it is the fact that the message from on high has been to cut costs at all, despite the fact that they are already down to a minimum and we are working at full capacity for the staff we have. The real solution would be for whoever is in charge of marketing to get off their backside and start doing something to get customer numbers back up. There is no excuse for blaming problems on poor sales when nothing & and I really do mean nothing - is done to try and boost sales. After all, how much would it cost to have a notice on the bar advertising the products that we are discounting. There is no point having a 20% off hot drinks promotion if you don't tell anyone that that is what you are doing.

I guess what has really got my back up is that I'm the one having to pay for the unimaginably poor high level management, the excessively complex hierarchy and what I can only assume is either stupidity or laziness on the part of whoever is supposed to be responsible for making sure that the catering operation actually works. I may only be an undergraduate who hasn't even completed his business course, but even I could probably do a better job of getting customers in than they are doing, and that is really saying something!

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Five Things You May Or May not Know About Me

Posted on Saturday 20th January 2007 at 00:00
Responding to Sally's tag I'm going to tell you five things you may or may not know about me, since I can't honestly remember what I've talked about in the past.

1.When I was 11 I suffered a nasty facial injury during a game of baseball. It occurred at scouts, where I was still one of the younger members at that point and consequently small enough to go fairly unnoticed much of the time. We were playing a game of baseball on a field outside our lodge, and the leaders of the group had decided to stay inside to drink tea or whatever it was they did when they weren't supervising our activities.

I was second in line to bat and had lost what very little interest I'd ever possessed in the game. For this reason I wasn't paying any attention to what was going on and hadn't realised how close to the batter I had been pushed by the queue of hyperactive young teenagers behind me. Sadly, nor had the batter. He was a strong, well built lad of 16 called Alan, who had no trouble in swinging the large log that we were using as a substitute bat.

He took an enormous swing and smacked the ball as far as the eye could see, smashing the 'bat? into my face on the follow through. Seemingly he didn't realise what had happened at first, as he reportedly went on to score a home run, but I was not aware of this at the time, since I had been thrown to the ground by the force of the impact and was now examining the blood which splashed onto the grass from a large split in my top lip, running from the lip itself to just below my left nostril. If I wasn't squeamish I could have actually poked my tongue through it.

I ended up going to A+E and having multiple stitches put into it, one of which was missed by the doctor who removed them a week later because the scabbing had buried it. For the first day or two after the accident I was forced to suck my food through a straw as I couldn't open my mouth properly. The forgotten stitch gradually worked its way to the surface over the next few weeks, and after its removal the wound became infected. By the time I started secondary school at the end of the summer, I had what looked like an unusually large wart on my face, but which was actually a puss filled lump. If it wasn't for Dad deciding to pop it with a pin and get the puss out a week later (something which not one of the doctors I saw thought to do) I would have probably needed plastic surgery to rebuild the lip. However, with the NHS meeting its usual efficiency targets, the infection had been gone several months by the time I actually saw the plastic surgeon.

2. I have never fully revised for an exam. Not once. Even back in the days when my parents tried to make me revise, I'd always sit in my room doing other things whilst pretending to revise. Same is pretty much true now actually. Although I often will make a half attempt to revise for perhaps half an hour, I cannot actually bring myself to revise properly. This has led to a few problems in the past and will probably lead to a few more before I eventually graduate, but I'll be so glad just to not have to waste my life on exams or revision anymore. Education is all very well and good, but there really is only so much of it a person can take in one life time, and I've definitely had my fill.

3. I am totally unable to skim read. Sadly, there is a hole in the British education system & or at least there was when I went through it - in about the place where they teach kids to skim read, rather than just looking at one word at a time. As a result, my reading speed isn't much faster than my typing speed, which is itself pretty poor, at around 40-60 words per minute. This doesn't detract from my enjoyment of reading in any way of course, it merely means that it takes me twice as long to do it. If I have time to dedicate to a book, it'll take me about a month to complete it, even if it isn't that long, and 12 books a year is a pretty poor performance for someone who likes reading. Academic texts go even more slowly, and checking my RSS feed list to see whose updated their blogs takes me between 60-90 minutes daily.

4. I've never been to America. Despite our 'special relationship? with the States and my tendency to do a reasonable amount of travelling, I've never even been near the place. It is on my to-do list of course, especially New York which I'd very much like to see, but I don't know when/if I'll get round to it. To be honest, I'm not sure I'm happy with flying to the US while they are still allowed to acquire information about passengers on flights to the States. It is one thing for the British government to have my details, but I don't trust the Bush Administration nearly enough to let them know anything about me. Hell Bush isn't smart enough to clean public toilets.

5. I can sit and watch a film for two hours and love every minute of it but not be able to tell you anything about it the moment it finishes. Never mind the complicated details such as who directed and produced it, I can't usually remember the name of the film I just saw, never mind who was in it, where it was set, the names of any characters, the story line or any amusing quotes/jokes. It has taken me a long time to develop the ability to talk about films, and it seems I still have a long way to go before my brain will start retaining enough information to actually be useful when people ask me which films I like.

Well, that's my five! I won't tag anyone as I'm not sure of anyone who reads this and hasn't already done it. If you wish to do it, please, be my guest, I'm sure you'll come up with much more interesting things to say than I have.

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Exams Blah Blah Blah

Posted on Thursday 18th January 2007 at 00:00
I appreciate that posts have been rather slim on the ground recently and for this I apologise. It is currently exam season at uni and unfortunately that means I have to give priority to revision over this, no matter how much it pains me to do so. Normal service shall be resumed tomorrow afternoon, after my last exam. Til then please sit tight, and don't forget to visit the food counter if you run out of pop corn!

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Back To The Real World

Posted on Thursday 18th January 2007 at 00:00
At last the tyranny of the January exam season has ended for me, and I am once again able to focus my attention and free time on things that matter to me, such as this here blog. There is so much I wanted to write about over the last couple of weeks but haven't been able to find the time for, and now I can at last write about some of them, or the ones I remember anyway :)

Has anyone been here long enough to remember when I started my bar job, back in November? I wrote about it that evening and included the immortal words 'I've yet to be registered on the till system, but hopefully it won't take long.? On Tuesday, for the first time ever I was able to sign onto the till and see my own name appear, a mere 2 and a half months after beginning work there. It seems that far from being a long process, all it took was a phone call, and a few hours for the computer system to update the tills. Sadly no one had bothered to take heed of my frequent reminders until I asked a substitute supervisor on Monday if he'd mind looking into it for me. Five minutes later I was given my own logon id. Admittedly, at the time the name came up as 'SPARE? but I was assured that that wouldn't last. I know on the grand scale of complaints people have about their working lives that this is a pretty small issue, but to me at least it does make a difference. Sort of like an acknowledgement if you will, that I'm a valid member of the team.

I went to Tesco today to do a spot of shopping and ended up coming out with a new duvet and a spare set of towels, in addition to my regular shopping. I hadn't exactly planned to buy them, but somehow I found myself in that part of the shop, as if drawn there by fate. The weather forecast is for a cold snap next week, and as the winter draws on I'm becoming increasingly aware that my super thin duvet is a little too thin to really class as snug and actually I need something a little more heavy duty if I'm going to avoid freezing to death, especially if people keep switching the heating off in favour of wearing jumpers all the time.

I think what makes it worse in my room, and this especially noticeable today, is the massive air vent that some inconsiderate bugger has stuck on my wall. The hole leads directly to an outside wall and is covered with the sort of grate that cannot be closed. Back in about October I stuck some paper over it and since then it has had several modifications in an attempt to keep it sealed. Sadly though, today's extreme winds have proven to me that unless I can persuade the landlord to block it up properly, say by replacing the grate on the outside with a regular brick and filling the gap with insulation, I'm not going to have a very warm winter.

Speaking of the wind, as I was driving out of the car park at Tesco earlier, I encountered a shopping trolley coming towards me, seemingly without an owner. This trolley had clearly had a bit too much to drink, as far from travelling in a straight line, it proceeded to ricochet off every single car in the queue to leave the car park and half of the parked ones as well. It happened too fast for anyone to stop it and as the wind took it, the bloody thing hit my car door with a hell of a bang. I was really annoyed about it, especially as the store had asked customers to return their trolleys to the trolley parks so as to avoid the wind smashing them into people's cars. Fortunately there was no damage, otherwise I'd have been really angry.

Is it just me or is there no half way point between having your mouth as dry as a desert and turning your body into one of those water fountains - sculpted to look like small boys relieving themselves - that you find in town squares? It is a balance I seriously need to get sorted out, not least because I'm pretty sure it isn't healthy to still be feeling all the effects of dehydration when the glass of water you drank 10 minutes before is coming out the same colour as it went in.

Perhaps I should finish here before the tone of this post goes any further downhill. If I get a chance later tonight I shall post the meme that Sally tagged me to do ages ago. I bet you all can't wait for that little treasure!


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And Time Flies By ….

Posted on Sunday 14th January 2007 at 00:00
Well, here I am again, making up for a little while without posting. I guess that is what comes of being fairly busy, or at least trying to be. Actually I've probably had more time free to post than most people reading this, or at least the ones holding down full time jobs. Mind you, that is roughly what I've been doing this week. Not quite 40 hours I admit, but 39 and a half is pretty close, even if the last few hours were picked up on Saturday.

It is for this reason that I've also not written anything here. As much as I enjoy work, it doesn't give me a huge amount to talk about, and I'm always cautious about what it is ok to mention on the internet. I will however outline the week in the barest of details. Our regular bar supervisor has been ill all of this week, and shall be for most of the next by the sounds of things and so we've had a replacement, one of the supervisors from another bar who is often with us filling in for missing people as his bar doesn't open much these days.

It's been a pleasent change as this guy has sought to get me a little more involved in the running of the bar, rather than just working in it, and I've learnt a lot over the week about the considerations that need to go into ordering stock, deciding which lines to promote etc, as well as the various less well known aspects of maintenance and cleaning that have to be carried out on the various bits of equipment located in the bar. I've even been asked my opinions on the quantities of stock that should be ordered and given leave to make various decisions about the bar, such as to replace all the old pint glasses with the new branded ones we received from the brewery after changing lines of beer. In short, I've felt more involved in the job this last week than in the whole of the two months I worked there before Christmas. Also, because we've been chronically understaffed the whole time I've been on the tills all day rather than just making coffee and so have learnt where everything I need is now, even many of the obscure lines that don't get sold very often.

In other news, The Phantom Email found itself a mate and they had a baby together, bringing the total number of unexplained unread emails up to a grand total of 3. One of these was discovered earlier today lurking in early November and was subsequently shot at and killed by police marksmen. The other two unknowns remain at large.

Earlier today I downloaded and installed a copy of Office 2007, only to discover it was in a foreign language. Not quite sure which one but I think it may have been Dutch. Am currently in the process of installing an English language version instead, so hopefully this shall be the last post I write on Wordpad, and therefore the last one with all these hideous spelling mistakes.

All week I've had an aching back. I'm not sure what caused it exactly, but it seems to be muscular, rather than a trapped nerve or broken spine or anything. It doesn't bother me all day long, but it is quite irritating while it is there. I imagine a good massage with a skilled pair of hands would sort me out, but that just isn't a good opening line when you meet someone in a bar.

This coming week I have two exams (which I have yet to revise for) and many hours of work. It's going to be really weird going back to only two days in the bar and three studying after all the bar work I've done over the last few weeks, but sadly that's the way it has to go. Hopefully I'll be able to take on more hours as and when my uni work load dips again at Easter. For now though I think I'll stick with going to find something for tea, as hunger may actually kill me.

Shall try desperately to update more often this week ;)

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Posted on Sunday 7th January 2007 at 00:00
My faith in humanity is at last restored my friends. It seems that even in this dark and cruel world which we occupy, there is a rare form of goodness, so unusual that one would not expect to find such a thing, even amongst the great and good of society, should they ever be condensed down into a single settlement of all things perfect.

That is right, dear reader, I have found .... an honest car mechanic.

No, don't scorn me and don't close your browser either! I've not drifted into the relms of fantasy and nor have I gone insane and been reduced to talking drivel while attempting to flail against the constraints of a straitjacket. I am in fact not lying but telling the truth, such as it is. Ok, so "mechanic" was perhaps not the best choice of word, as this guy was a little more specialist than that, which makes him all the rarer. He was a tyre man.

Yes indeedy. Born of a breed whose sole purpose in life is to reak misery on the unsuspecting car driver by selling him expensive new tyres to replace his perfectly adequate existing ones, even when he has only come into to enquire about puncture repairs, this individual was clearly the black sheep of his herd.

Ever since I got my car in July, I've noticed that the front wheels are somewhat unbalanced. So much so in fact that that when driving along the motorway I've been known to lose all feeling in my hands because of the vibrations from the steering wheel have shaken them numb. It had long been decided therefore to have the wheels rebalanced as and when the tyres began to get a little lower than at present. In the end, we decided to go to Central Tyre to get them replaced, since, although still well within the tread depth, the unbalance needed fixing, and it was unlikely that they'd do that without insisting on new tyres.

So, yesterday I pop down there, step out of my car and brace myself to be ripped off. A bloke comes over to me and asks what the problem is. I tell him about the vibrations and he examines my tyres. "Oh no" he says, "They aren't anywhere near needing replacing. Would be a real waste to have to change them now. I'll take the car round back and see if I can balance the wheels on the same tyres first. It'll take about 20 minutes."

Pleasently surprised I go and wait in reception, where 10 minutes later he calls to me and asks me if I want to take it for a test drive, which I promptly do. Blow me, even at 80mph the car still handles perfectly, not a vibration to be found anywhere. I hassen back to the garage where I confirm the good news and am presented with a bill of a mere '10! As you can imagine I am over the moon about this, as I'd gone there fully expecting to pay '100 for two new typre that I didn't need.

Not only have the vibrations gone, but even at low speeds the car is an absolute dream to drive, and all for '10 and 10 minutes of my time on a Saturday afternoon. It just remains to be seen if I can be as cheery about my MOT in March ;)

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Posted on Friday 5th January 2007 at 00:00
I've noticed how pretty much everyone I know has written about the 2007 Bloggies on their blogs recently. It seems to be because they are taking nominations over the next few days, and so anyone wishing to nominate a blog, for example, this one, needs to do so now.

Some People have been fairly explicit in their requests for nominations, while others have gone for the more subtle approach.

Whilst I am grateful to these various bloggers for alerting me to the awards, I just can't see myself following their examples. Therefore I think I'll settle for not mentioning that nominations for the 2007 Bloggies end at 10.00pm Eastern Standard Time (GMT-5) on Wednesday, January 10th. in any of my posts.

After all. I wouldn't want to do anything to appear ..... desperate, now would I?

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Ignorminious And The Phantom Email

Posted on Thursday 4th January 2007 at 00:00
This post is probably best read with Mike Oldfield's Tubular Bells (ie the theme from The Exorcist) playing in the background, which is what I'm listening to as I write it.

It was a dark and stormy night, and all around the lights flickered as the power lines swung about in the wind outside. I'd just finished reading my emails and was about to close my browser when I saw a ghostly sight in the corner of my screen. A black number one stood silently beside the folder list, adjacent to the link to my Inbox. This was puzzling to say the least, since I'd just read my emails and so there should be no unread items.

At first I was scared to check again, but curiosity got the better of me, and so, with one hand closed around the handle of a baseball bat, I stuck my head round the corner of the window and looked to see what was in there. I blinked. I looked again. Still nothing. There they were, the emails I'd just read, lined up neatly, 15 to the page, but not a single new one.

I could almost feel the blood draining from my face and I had to grab the scroll bar for support as my legs gave way beneath me. The scroll bar did not hold me however and with a rush of cold, musty air I fell into page two. Here the story was the same. Many familiar emails, some only a day old, but no unread messages.

I was looking for something to grab hold of and pull myself back up to page one with, but I slipped yet further and fell through pages 3, 4, 5, 6 and 7, landing with an unpleasent bump in page 8. Here the light was poor, but I could just make out a layer of dust forming over all these old messages. Even so, it was quite clear that there were no unopened messages here.

While fumbling around in the dark I happened across the link that displayed all the messages at once. This proved to be a long list of over 4,100 messages, which I gradually scrolled through, trying not to allow my eyes to become blurred by the lines and lines of black names and blue subjects.

This was a few days ago now, and I have since given up searching for the phantom email. It is out there somewhere, but where I know not. The number one I fear may remain with me, hanging over this mystery until I can find myself an old priest and a young priest, or else get Outlook installed again so that I can have a better look through my emails than Webmail will allow me.

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Posted on Wednesday 3rd January 2007 at 00:00
Well folks, it seems the new year enthusiasm has court me up a little at last. I'm still feeling far too glum about the future to say I'm really looking forward to it, at least not that bit which is due to happen over the next 12 months. By the end of 2008 I expect my life to have got a little more exciting, what with uni finally being out of the way and a new career hopefully having been decided on, but I digress.

These next few days look to be focused on organisation. This evening I've already rearranged my personal folders on the computer to make more sense and begun to rebuild my favourites list after the old one was accidentally wipped the other day. I've yet to sort out all my music and delete the 70% or so that I don't actually listen to ever, but perhaps tomorrow. I've also decided to rearrange my desk, moving my CPU onto the floor to free up space. This shall be followed over the next few months with the purchase of a new flat screen monitor and a wireless keyboard to match my wireless mouse, the idea being to go minimalist and modern in the place where I tend to spend most of my life. I do hate unnecessary clutter. Even if it is all essential stuff it can make the room look very messy at times.

Tomorrow I plan to paint the foot long scratch down the side of my car, which I've been meaning to do for about a month as it looks awful (thanks whichever bastard did that and didn't even leave a note. Fucking students; so damn rude!). I'm also getting my eyes tested and giving blood (I feel like I've got too much just now) as well as getting lots of little things done that have been hanging over.

I'll probably spend quite a while indulging in computer and life style material, whether it be magazines or websites, as I always tend to do at this time of year. The truth is that, far from being content with the "student life style", I'm well on my way to wanting the life of a young, single, professional man. I want modern furniture, tasteful, subtle decore and little mess. At this rate I'll start cruising the Ikea cataloge in my spare time. The aging, damp, badly fitted and even more badly repaired accommodation that students have has lost its appeal totally and I want to move on to something better. These days I feel like this most of the time, but it is especially true at New Year because it's the time you take stock of life.

I replaced my headphones today. A few months ago, the old ones I had sadly expired. Not sure exactly what I did to them, but the wires inside broke and I was left having to sit in exactly the right position to get a clear sound. I was in Tesco this afternoon and happened to spot the exact same pair among their technology stuff. I was extremely happy with the old ones, before I broke them, not least because the bass was better than on my PC speakers and the overall sound quality, fit, comfortableness etc was faultless. For this reason I bought them without hesitation and am currently celebrating by listening to ABBA's Greatest Hits.

ABBA are a most odd group in some respects. Firstly, they are generally thought of as cheesy it seems, but on this album at least, most of the songs are mellow, in subject even if not in melody. Secondly, all their songs sound very "in the past". I know this sounds stupid, as obviously they are all from the past, but unlike other old music, I can't imagine them being new or current. They are all nostalga songs, and it is hard to imagine how they could have ever been otherwise. Maybe this is why they were so successful back in the day. I'd put it down to their deep infiltration of our culture since long before I was born, but I wouldn't describe The Beatles in the same way and they are even older.

Perhaps I should stop rambling and get to bed. I'm already much less than 8 hours from the time I have to get up. Damn my screwed up sleeping patterns!

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New Year – What Is The Point?

Posted on Monday 1st January 2007 at 00:00
Well, it is now officially Monday 1st January 2007. A new week, a new month and of course a new year. This is traditionally the day on which we all sit down to contemplate what lies ahead for us over the next 12 months. It is also a time of renewed optimism and hope for the future and an opportunity for us to reflect on what we can do better in our lives in the future. All over the country, crowds are flocking to the self help sections of local book shops, buying every health magazine in the news agents and flicking through the Argos catalogue trying to find the right page for gym equipment.

But why do we both? Every year begins in exactly the same way. For some reason (possibly as a result of alcohol still in our blood from the previous night) we all wake up on New Year's Day and think that because the date has changed and new calendars are going up that somehow we are all going to undergo miraculous changes as people. We are all going to exercise more, eat less, earn more, spend less, treat our loved ones better, wash the car every single weekend and learn to complete the Times CrossWord in less than an hour and without the help of everyone in the room and maybe a sneaky trip to Google.

And you know what, it doesn't happen. The gym equipment is disgarded after the second use and stuck up in the loft a month later. The diet lasts maybe a week if you are commited. First weekend the car gets washed but the next it is raining so you think why bother? Because, whatever we like to think, people don't change; not without a reason. If someone has a near death experience or recovers from serious illness or is visited by four ghosts at Christmas then yea, maybe they will change. Sometimes for better, sometimes for worse, but you can expect them to undergo some kind of alteration, however small.

But not because it is New Year. It simply isn't important enough or infrequent enough an occasion to have any sort of lasting impact on our lives. Instead all that happens is we create resolutions, which - far from being the positive forward thinking things we dress them up as - are in fact just a list of things we don't like about ourselves, disguised as a list of improvements We then fail to find the time/money/will power to implement them and then spend the rest of the year feeling guilty about not being able to go against our natures and transform into new people at the drop of a hat. It really is most silly.

So what is the point of New Year? An excuse to get pissed perhaps? Yea right, like we need an excuse to do that! A much needed celebration then? Hardly, we've just had Christmas, and most people are fairly sick of having to be super happy all day everyday by now. If we wanted a second annual celebration we'd have it in the summer in order to better balance Christmas. Perhaps the point is that New Year isn't actually all that different from its infinately more antisipated big brother. Christmas is about hope, belief and faith, even in the face of stark and harsh reality and maybe, just maybe, the same is true of New Year as well.

Perhaps it doesn't matter that everyone completely fails to live up to their resolutions, and that any new leaves turned over are usually turned back the next day, because in fact what really matters to people is that short period of hope, when they believe that actually they are not doomed to be stuck with all their flaws for the rest of the year, but can genuinely better themselves and get a step or two closer to their own ideas of perfection, whatever that may be.

Last week Dad spent the best part of two days putting up coving in the utility room. Why? Because he felt that it would move this fabulous house a bit closer to being perfect. It didn't matter to him that it was exhausting, dirty, smelly work that took a big chunk out of his holiday. It didn't even matter that almost no one ever goes in there, besides the family and that even if they did, the coving probably wouldn't be noticed, not even if they stood in there all day. It didn't even matter that in the long term it isn't going to make him feel any better or worse about life or his position in it. For those few hours and the next few days he will gain satisfaction from the knowledge that he's done something to improve his life, and that is, after all, what New Year is all about.

Happy New Year

to all my readers, commenters, lurkers, friends and family. May 2007 bring you health, happiness and above all, love.

As you can see, the new theme is at last in place. I know that most of you are probably screaming at your screens just now that the image doesn't fit properly, and for that I apologise. I am working on a way of getting it to fit a variety of screen sizes, but this is surprisingly difficult to do and so may take me a while. Until then you'll just have to lump it I'm afraid and be grateful that the tackiest Christmas theme ever has at last been packed away for the year. Believe me, I'm as pleased about it as you are!

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