Archive for June 2009

The Real Me?

Posted on Tuesday 9th June 2009 at 00:00
I am two people, not one.

I guess we all are, really. Not in a split personality way, although some people are. Just in a variable mood sort of way. I doubt I'm really that different from most people, and I don't pretend to be so, so please don't think otherwise of me. I know we all have different moods at different moments, but some people seem to do a better job of controlling their moods than others, and I'm not really sure how it is they do it.

The two people within me are quite distinct. They have different views and opinions, different hopes, ideas and plans. They are interested in different things, do different things, behave differently and, ultimately have different futures. The trouble is, I don't really know which one is the Real me.

Person A is the Mark I'd like to be. He is motivated and enthusiastic. He loves life and loves learning. He has a powerful imagination and constantly dreams of the life he can achieve if he puts the effort in. He wants to succeed; wants to do whatever it takes to be the best. To make it to the top.

He's the Mark who once wanted to be a lawyer. Now he can't decide between becoming an IT professional and trying to be the best in the industry, going into management and working his arse off to become a chief exec in some large, global company or starting up his own business, where he's already the boss, and if he works hard he can make a success of it.Mark A respects himself and is respected by others. He wants to save up for a yacht and learn to sail. He wants to work out in the gym until he's fit enough to enjoy exercising. He wants a big house, plenty of surplus income and lots of foreign holidays. He's a success story; a product of all the best things that life in Britain has to offer. He's a winner.

Person B is not the Mark I want to be, not by a long shot. The first thing to know about Mark B is that he's lazy. I don't just mean a little lazy, he's digustingly so. He combines a particular mixture of laziness and procrastination that allows him to pass hour after hour whilst doing very little and wastes all the time he could be enjoying himself.

Mark B suffers from a deep set dislike of putting an effort into tasks. He shrinks away from companies whose job adverts say they are seeking "highly motivated types". Mark B isn't highly motivated at all. He has no motivation to do anything. His main focus is on achieving instant gratification and he'll always seek out short term pleasure at the expense of long term gain.

This Mark has very little ambition in life. It's not that he doesn't wish to be rich or have everything he desires - far from it. It's simply that he doesn't want to have to do anything to get it, and as such he has no life ambition. Given the choice, he'd choose a deadend job with no responsibility, no matter how dull it is and how long it goes on for. Learning is not something Mark B takes much interest in. He is quite happy to have knowledge in his head, so long as he doesn't have to put it there himself.

If this sounds dull and teenage-angsty then I apologise. I'm not a teenager and I'm not trying to whine, I merely wish to explore an issue that is bugging me, in the hope of embarking on a little self discovery in these words.

The problem is that I really, honestly do not know which Mark is the real one. Yea, I'd like it to be Mark A - who wouldn't? I'd love to be a winner, I genuinely would. Or, at least I think I would. Surely if I do as much as I say I'd just do it, right? But Mark B is here too, stealing my energy and drive. When he comes along (which he does at some point almost every day), it's like I'm a car, speeding along, and then someone puts the brakes on. Try as I might I'm suddenly having the momentum forced out of me and I can't fight against it.

I think in many ways it comes down to energy. Whilst I have plenty of mental and physical energy, things are good. On Saturday afternoon I was Mark A, and I sat in Starbucks, drinking coffee, blogging away and loving every minute of it. On Sunday though I woke up with Mark B, and although I tried to fight on and get stuff done, I eventually went to bed with a mess of a flat, a pile of washing up and not a single shirt ironed. In fact, the only task I completed the whole day was to wash my car, which took barely 10 minutes. What a waste of time!

I know everyone has their off days. I'm not claiming to be anything special in that regard. I know everyone needs their chill out time, so that they can relax and recover, but that's not what I'm talking about. At the moment I'm having so many off days, it's stopping me progressing in life. People say to me "Mark, you're an intelligent guy, but you're so lazy. Think what you could be achieving if you just worked hard!" and they are completely right of course.

I'm writing about this here because I'm curious to know if anyone else suffers or has suffered from the same problem, and how they've solved it. I can't believe that it simply isn't possible for people like me to consistently find the drive to succeed.

I'm just not ready to be Mark B.

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This is an Update

Posted on Saturday 6th June 2009 at 00:00
Wow, over three months since my last post here! Hasn't time flown by?!

Well, probably not if you've actually been waiting for me to update, but in this age of RSS feeds and automation, who actually does that?

I come to you today from a corner of the (relatively) new Starbucks in Cabot Circus. Those of you who've been here for too long will probably remember that at one point I wrote quite a few posts whilst sat in one of the branches of Starbucks in Broadmead, either on my heavy old laptop, or else painstakingly tapped out on my old HTC Vox. Well, both the laptop and the Vox have died and been buried (read binned in the case of the laptop, recycled for the phone) and I'm now sat here using L's laptop, which she has kindly lent me whilst she's away in the Czech Republic. It's the mark of a good girlfriend that she knows that the best way to help me deal with the inevitable loneliness of being without her for a week is to lend me a cool bit of computer to play with for the duration.

As I hinted at the start of this post, it has been an unforgivably long time since I last posted. Fortunately, it's so common for me not to post for an extended period of time that if you are still reading this then you will probably forgive me any period of quietness. It does say something though when L, who has been pretty internet deprived for one reason or another recently is telling me I need to update more often.

On the plus side, my absence has given me far more to talk about than I'd have had if I'd blogged all the way through March, April and May. The main news, if anything that happens in my life can be said to be newsworthy, is that I'm no longer a bar tender in the staff bar of my university. In fact, in every way that really matters I'm no longer at university.

Back at the end of March, I received a phone call from my mum, who'd just been talking to someone who thought I might be a good employee and was I interested in a job? To cut a long story short, I'm now almost half way through a 5 month internship with a company called Data2Impact, who help large corporate and public sector clients to better manage the large quantities of data they are pushing through programs like Excel and Access. It probably doesn't sound terribly interesting to a layman, but if you are interested in problem solving and programming macros, it's a really cool place to work.

As an intern I'm gaining a huge amount of experience doing different sorts of work all over the company and loving every day of it. So far, I've only come across two draw backs of the placement, and I think I can live with both. The first is that the office I'm based in is in Andover, a full 90 miles from my flat in Bristol, so I spend a lot of time on the road and clock up pretty hefty fuel bills. The second is that I'm getting to do so many different cool things, I've no idea how I'm going to fit it all on my CV!

Job Crisis. What Job Crisis?

Sorry, shouldn't gloat, I know it's tough out there, and I'm not likely to be spared the difficulties for long, because of the other major development in my life at the moment. Given that everyone who's anyone knows already, and we aren't keeping it secret, I'm hoping L won't mind me announcing here that she and I have decided to live together in September. We actually decided back in January, but as I've already said, I'm not very good at keeping this blog up to date.

As I may or may not have mentioned before, L is at university down in Plymouth, and after a year of driving down to see her every weekend, the thought of having to keep up this lifestyle for another two years isn't exactly appealing. My degree, which has kept me routed in Bristol for 5 years is now all but over (just waiting for the results of my finals - fingers crossed) so, with no reason for me to remain here, I've decided to move down to Plymouth, and L and I are going to get an apartment together. The major upside of this is that we'll be able to enjoy being together and seeing each other every day, without the long hours on the road and the massive fuel bill. On the downside, it means leaving Bristol (which I've come to love) and having to look for a new job, as there's no way I can cope with the 6 hours a day I'd need to spend in the car if I were to commute between my office and my new home.

L has returned to Bristol for the summer now, having finished her year at uni, and it's been great having her around the last few days. It's entirely possible that since I don't have to travel quite as much, I may start updating more regularly. I can't make any promises, but I do hope to keep you up to date with the massive changes in my life, as well as all the fun that I'm expecting summer 09 to bring.

Thanks, as always, go to all of you for bothering to read me. Perhaps now you could go one step further and be bothered to comment with an answer to the following question: Would you be able to cope with me changing the URL for my RSS feed once again? I'm painfully aware that I've changed it several times already during the life of this blog, but I'm thinking of moving the blog over to my main website, so as to keep everything under one roof, as it were. Your thoughts please...

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Revenge of the Glasses

Posted on Saturday 6th June 2009 at 00:00
Back in March I casually mentioned that, because of the economic crisis, Nick Robinson had been replaced by Robert Peston as the BBC blogger of choice on the BBC News Front Page. Well, Ladies and Gentlemen, I'm sure none of you can have failed to notice that Nick is back with a vengeance!

You see, he clearly reads my blog, and as soon as he read my observation, he set out on his daring plan to ensure that the Beeb would put him back where he belongs. Now, obviously it would be reckless of me to suggest that it was Nick Robinson who leaked the MPs' expenses to the Daily Telegraph, and indeed it would raise the question of why he didn't break the news himself (not to mention the fact that he'd probably threaten legal action unless I revoked the claim), but if anyone has done well out if this crisis it is he.

Actually, with the exception of Labour itself, it's hard to find anyone who's done badly out of the ongoing meltdown in the Cabinet. Thanks to my new job, I now have the option of not only checking the news headlines on my lunch break, but also of listening to the radio in the car and in the office if no one else is around, and the last few weeks have been somewhere between comedy and fantasy every time the news reader starts to speak. You might call me sadistic, but I'm enjoying watching the Government tearing itself apart more than I've enjoyed anything in the public domain for a long time.

Those normally prim and proper figures of state, who like to bore us at every opportunity with dull arguments about dry policy have descended into what can only be described as the thinking man's Big Brother. Indeed, with the 24 hour rolling news footage, the interviews, the name calling and the unnecessary racism (thank you BNP), the only obvious difference between the current political state and that dreadful show (which I'm reliably informed has just entered it's 10th season - can it really have been a decade?!) is the channel it's on, and the fact that Davina McCall has been replaced by a quietly amused balding man in distinctive thick rimmed glasses, barely able to conceal the heavily loaded irony from his voice as he attempts to report on the mess in Westminster with as little bias as is possible in such situations.

Blimey, that was a long sentence. I really must remember to pause for breath. Sorry about that.

It's hard to know just how things will pan out in the next weeks. I'm too young to really remember the collapse of the Conservative government in 1997, nevermind the hounding from office of Margaret Thatcher earlier that same decade, but I suspect that even if I did, I still wouldn't be able to give a clear prediction on how long Brown will last. What I can say with certainty though is that, when he finally goes, Nick Robinson will be there to report it, wearing a slow smile that says:

"Blog this Peston!"

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