Category Archives: Deep Thought

For all the passive enabling parents out there…

A great discussion about consequences for actions and taking responsibility for yourself, your children and everyone you come into contact with.


Moving to a new country is a jolt to the psyche.  You have a new internal resource map to learn, a new geographical map to learn, your relationship map is wiped virtually clean.  You have no one to lean on for support because no one you know is doing what you are doing.  You have to be strong.  I’m telling you now that it’s difficult.  Very difficult.

It’s not that these things are unhappy events because they are very happy events.  I’ve moved country to be with my Wife.  So the normal every day events like working, being at home, going shopping, eating are whilst different in their own way, not the thing that I’m trying to describe.

Social media like Facebook, Twitter, IM messengers etc, are all very well, and do allow you to keep in some form of contact with the people you care about who you have left behind.  But! and boy it’s a big and hidden but when you emigrate; you miss those you leave behind.  You miss them more than just their messages.  You miss their physicality, you miss their gestures, you miss their issues, their quirks, the sound of their laughter, the way they walk, their clothes that they often wear, even their accent.

For me emigrating has been a real boon.  I have a job that I love doing, a second job that appears to be expanding that I love, at home I have a wonder Wife that I love very much, best of all, I know that she loves me too.

Life is a balance, things arrive and things leave.  It’s how we respond that matters.


Decision Made (Part III)

OK, firstly I have got to now and still remain in the job that caused me so much stress last year.  However, there’s a twist to the story now.

Looking back at the stress situation it’s as if we were all lied to about the external quality auditor wanting to see all of the work our students did.  It wouldn’t surprise me if that was a management tactic to get staff to take it seriously.

I can apply for Voluntary Redundancy or wait until they decide to make me Compulsorily Redundant.

More recently the senior management decided to transfer our department to a private company.  Initially this was presented to everyone in the department as we were all going to move to this company and that they were not going to give redundancy notices out at this time.  The college proceeded to write to all of the departments students to tell them that they were not going to be taught at the college from August but they would be taught at the private company instead.  After this communication was sent out the college and the private company had consultation meetings with all the staff involved to decide whether each member of staff was going to transfer to the private company or not.  Notice that the college has already told my students that they are going to the private company!  It transpired that I am not.  I have spoken to management about writing to my students and prospective students for September too about the fact that my course is running and silence or carry on as normal is the only response.  This means that I don’t have any students starting my course at the college next year because the college has told them that they are going to the private company instead despite me not going there.  I can apply for Voluntary Redundancy or wait until they decide to make me Compulsorily Redundant.  So having thought long and hard about this I am submitting my application for Voluntary Redundancy in next week.  At least if it’s accepted I will get more money when I finish.

I used to jump out of bed and actually enjoy going to work.

The thing that I find interesting on a personal level is that while I am worried about what I am going to do next and worried about selling my house and worried about where I will live!  I am happy to not be working there anymore in a few months.  When I started that job it was very exciting.  I used to jump out of bed and actually enjoy going to work.  This was nearly twenty years ago!  Over the years the level of administration has increased and meant that even the smallest amount of creativity has little time to be developed into something larger.  In retrospect I think a small part of my excitement has died each year I have worked in Education.  It’s very sad.  Courses need administrators to deal with the non academic parts of the job.  If management acted on this there would be time to write handouts, develop new courses, even mark student work!  All things that most educators do in the extra time that they work in addition to the hours of work that they are contracted to do.

So yes I am being guided out of this job either by stealth or by managerial incompetence but it’s time for a change anyway, last year was the shining beacon telling me this.

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Decision made (part II)

The external quality auditor came in on Monday 5th of March.  This is how it went down.

A colleague of mine and I worked one evening a week for about five or six weeks to get all the work sampled and documented.  Much of it was lost due to IT restructuring which didn’t help.  From January to March the stress would rise as I constantly thought about the amount of paperwork that hadn’t been done for one reason or another.  Some of it my fault, some of it not.  Either way the stress was high.  I considered going sick so many times.  But I actually kept on going into work.  Hoping that the light at the end of the dark tunnel would arrive.  Finally we managed to finish the paperwork.  All we could do now is wait.

…inside I was truely amazed.

Then one day during our normal meetings one of our line managers started to talk about the external quality auditor coming in on March 5th.  At the time this was in about two weeks or so.  There was a list that was passed around with the name of the students work that “she” wants to see.  The ‘enemy’ (bit of drama!) was a woman.  On this list no-one from our team was listed.  The line manager even told us that we don’t appear in the list.  It was like we were five and we had gotten away with some trouble we had caused!  One of my colleagues said that my face was a real picture.  I didn’t realise I was even pulling an expression, but inside I was truely amazed.

I couldn’t help but think that there was something else going on.  I decided not to return any of the work we had collected to the students until the 5th came and went.  Wednesday 29th came and an email arrived saying that the external quality auditor wanted to see the work of the students listed and the course manual folder for the courses too.  The students listed were mostly my students!  This was why my staff and I weren’t on the first list! (or at least thats what I think.)  All the students listed left back in July last year and all their work went with them as the external quality auditor was happy with the sample that they saw.  So I had nothing to give other than my course manual folder full of paperwork.  This was given in last friday and the fateful day came and went without a peep.  Infact there hasn’t been a peep about it all week.

In fact all things just aren’t worth worrying about.

The weird thing is that now that I have done all I can to make this check on quality go smoothly, my stress levels have gone right down again.  I seem to be learning that some things just aren’t worth worrying about.  In fact all things just aren’t worth worrying about.  I really need to learn this and learn it fast.  It’s not like I’m some young sprog whose learning the ropes!

See Dec 12th 2011 for Part 1.

I have a cognitive behavioural therapy course in a few weeks.  I’m going to enjoy that as it should help me keep myself from boiling over with stress like back in December.  I’m still trying to fiqure out what I really want to spend the next part of my life doing.  I have considered:

Architectural Visualisation
Something to do with Philosophy
Something to do with Hinduism
Being a cleaner and living life with less stress and (possibly) more time
Being a Bus driver
Being a UPS delivery driver

mmm…. dear reader, do you have any ideas?

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The ultimate question?

Is life worth living?

According to Nietzsche our lord(s) and saviour(s); our God(s) are dead.  Dead in that their originating source is undefined and Religion(s) appear to be systems that provide a social structure for the continuation of our species.  Interesting stuff!  He points out that if indeed God(s) is dead this isn’t necessarily a negative thing.  Our horizons will have been opened up by the lack of moral boundary.  Anything is possible; at last.  However, if there are no Gods, then what makes life worth living?  If life is not a period in which to attempt to satisfy all Karmic debts, then what value does life have in and of itself?  Procreation and maintaining human numbers is one potential offering, but there are already probably way too many people on this planet so this seems like a very weak argument.

Baudrillard coined a wonderful term “Desert of the real” to describe the mere fragments of our experience that are actually sourced in true authenticity.  In the west we are surrounded by imagery which is used to construct our reality.  Only the other day did I realise the depth to which I had been conditioned by TV.  I was at a friends house (hi Jono!) and he put his TV on as background noise as people do.  The BAFTA awards were in their early stages.  People who I mostly did not recognise due to lack of exposure to the entertainment media over the last five years or so appeared in smart attire and were furiosly photographed by photographers.  As I watched with new eyes.  As if I hadn’t seen this kind of thing before, I saw one section of the media photographing another section of the media, to be published in a different form of media; the whole event being televised which obviously is another form of media.  TV was displaying its own child.  I think this is a simulacra or simulacrum?? (Answers on a post card please!)  Anyway, I remembered “The desert of the real” and as I watched actors and actresses be treated incredibly specially I wondered what they had done?  Have they saved lives?  Have they prevented wars?  Have they solved world poverty and starvation?  No, they have entertained those of us who are lucky enough not to be starving.  There are awards for this kind of thing.

So in the potentially godless desert of the real, is life worth living?  If not should it be ended?  If it is worthy of our effort how do we know?  What benefits do we reap?  In my experience the death of a loved one is an interuption to the precession of simulacra presented to us as reality on an everyday basis.  Maybe those who acknowledge and accept in their own mind that life isn’t of any value and act on this personal reality bring a moment of reality to the lives of their nearest and dearest?  Those who I have lost most certainly have brought a moment of reality and clarity to my experience.  I am grateful.

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Is the UK minimum wage a survivable wage for single people? If so How?

I tried to figure out what it might be like to live on the UK minimum wage in terms of personal finances.  The scenario I used was based on:

A single person
Working 20 hours a week as a cleaner
Earning minimum wage
No children
Living in a Council flat fo £65 per week.

After doing several online questionnaires about this scenario to figure out if I could get Working Tax credit and Housing Benefit etc, the budget looks like this –

Wages/hr                      6.08
Hrs/wk                          20.00
Total weekly Gross    121.60
Emergency Fund (cash)    0.00
Rent/wk                       33.90  (Housing benefit pays 50% in this scenario)
Food                              27.69
Council tax                  19.53 (after single persons 25% reduction)
Internet                        3.75 (Three network All in one 15 includes data, calls and texts for a month for £15/month)
Electric                         9.62
Gas                                9.62
Water                            29.17
Total incoming            121.60
Total outgoing             133.27

Left                               -11.67


Now, I have to tell you I have really tried to get this down to at least breaking even.  Maybe I could choose not to have a mobile phone?  Maybe thats what I would need to do.  But seriously, this isn’t a living wage.  Not unless you think living to work rather than working to live applies.  Even the stories of communist workers having a meal and a drink together with their families seems better than this.  The positive side is that living this way gives you time to read and philosophize, but with so little money even buying a new book is out of the question.

Have I painted an accurate picture?  Is there a better way to look at this situation?  Comments/replies gratefully recieved.

Decision Made

For the last Five nights and Five and a half days I have been ill with Anxiety.  I have had a racing heart that I can actually feel bumping in my chest.  My digestion of food has been awkward due to a feeling of tightness in my chest.  I went right off my food and eating was making me feel like I wanted to stop eating.  I felt like I was going to vomit all the time, my throat felt wider than usual like my insides wanted to escape.  I felt out of my depth and out of control when normally I am in control and manage things pretty much like others around me.  Over the weekend desperation to get out of the situation kept hitting me in waves of anxiety to the point where I was crying a lot.  To myself in the kitchen, whilst walking my dog I would start.  I was hopeless.

I am documenting this so I don’t forget this day.

On Wednesday last week I was told in a meeting that the external body that my workplace uses for quality assurance would be visiting in the new year because our students were getting >33% of the top grade and they want to see ALL of last years work.  Now I teach on a two year course and the second year students were signed off by the external QA in July so there work has been returned to them.  The first year students, now second year students are a nice bunch if somewhat unruly at times and I wasn’t sure that we could get their work together.  So the worrying concern that I have had for the last five days is

  1. Do I have to track down the second year students who have left already?  They could be at a University or Workplace anywhere in the country (maybe the world!)
  2. Will providing the work that I have for the current second year students be enough.

With every concern like this, there is a reason for it.  That is, the external body can withdraw our rights to run their courses.  This can affect students lives if not handled properly, could end the course(s) and could end my job.  So I have a good reason to be flapping.

However, today I learnt that someone in a different department had awarded all but one of their students the top grade possible.  This is the real reason why the external body are coming in, they are coming to look at all the provison they are in control of.  This dramatically changes my position, from one of fretting about the course I run and whether I personally am doing things wrong, to knowing someone else made an apparent mistake (!) and that everyone is being scrutinised.

I learnt this today at just gone 5pm.  I was chatting to colleagues about how uncreative the job actually is compared to what everyone in the profession dreams of it being and something inside of me snapped.  That’s it.  I am going to leave.  I am going to leave the job I loved for nearly twenty years.  Not because of some crappy paperwork that I had to do or that I am disappointed in the job itself; I dealt with those years ago.  The reason I am going is because I was so ill.  I cried for help in my kitchen to a deafening response of silence.  I love teaching so much, but that’s over the line.

So I am making my exit plan.

…and this time I am going to execute it.

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100 Things

I have recently been introduced to the 100 things concept.  Basically what you do is pare down your possessions to just 100 in total.  These are personal possessions, so the sofa doesn’t count, the bed doesn’t count etc.  I started my list expecting to have a large excess of 100 things that I really wanted to keep and imagined that the emotional trauma that would follow if I decided that yes actually I was going to go for it.

Here’s my list:

2. Shiva
3. Aarti lamp
4. Trays
5. Incense sticks
6. Puja sundries
7. My many religious texts (one single shelf full)
8. Tabla
9. PC and cables mouse keyboard etc
10. A3 printer
12. Kettle
13. 5 mugs
14. Bicycle
15. Helmet
16. Pannier bags
17. Cycling tops, pants, overshoes and gloves
18. Tech toolbox (limited to what fits within)
19. General toolbox (limited to what fits within)
20. Blackberry bold and 8820
21. Belt
22. Braces
23. Tie rack and ties
24. Sock hanger
25. One weeks set of pants, socks
26. One summer coat
27. One winter coat
28. One box of cufflinks and collar stiffners
29. My Portfolio
30. My MA work
31. Bread maker
32. Shredder
33. Poker set
34. PS2 & Games (selection only give rest to Nat)
35. Bollywood Movie collection
36. Music CD collection (34,35 & 36 must fit on 1 benno cd bookcase
37. External Harddrives (home and work) bin the other crap.
38. Billy Bookcase
39. Puja bookcase
40. Ibook (?) Mac mini (?)
41. Hoover
42. Ironing board
43. Iron
44. Water sprayer
45. Wok
46. Tawa
47. Kitchen Radio
48. Umbrella
49. Backpack
50. Trainers
51. Catapillar boots
52. Suit shoes
53. Slipper shoes

There are several things that interested me about this exercise.  Firstly that my desire to keep should extend to my bed.  Secondly, I don’t have 100 personal things that I really want to keep.  I realised that this list is telling me that I have a lot of junk!  At least a lot of things that I don’t care for enough to list – which is interesting.  I think the circumstances in which the list was made is significant.  I made the list on my blackberry of the period of three evenings just as I was about to jump into bed and set the alarm for morning.  Its amazing how clear your mind is when it has the expectation of restful sleep.  (I sleep like a log!)

So anyway, I felt like sharing my list.  Its under development.  I encourage you to make one too.  Its interesting how it clarifies whats important to you right now.  If you have a go, post me a few lines I would like to read your comments.  For your benefit this is where I found out about the 100 things challenge.

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Making Decisions

How do you go about making decisions?

Do you think about what you want to do and then just do it ?

Do you think about what you want to do and then labour over whether to do it ?

Do you find that you end up not doing things ?

What’s your process?  I would love to hear your opinions and thoughts about this.



Sleep patterns

This is more of a note to self really.  

My sleep patterns have improved dramatically since getting rid of my TV.  I now easily go to bet between 9 and 10pm and wake between 5:30 and 6am.  The mornings are starting to be fun again.  The amount of fun seems to depend upon the amount of stress in my life.