Category Archives: General

International Mens Day

Yesterday was International Mens Day.  Google had 13 important Men who have made contributions to the world and to society in a special Google Doodle.  The TV had some short shows throughout the day celebrating several Men who stand out in the world for having made tremendous contributions to western society.  People were talking about the day at work and taking an interest in the people highlighted, some of them were long dead but still respected over 100 years later.

It would have been very nice.  Except it didn’t happen!  International Mens Day happened but in a deathly silence.

There was a podcast that got released though.  It pretty much covers it.

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Going delete.

It seems that everyone has music that they love from their younger years.  While your taste in music develops and widens as you get older your love of your old favorites matures.  Now that we have way too much information available to us we get to find out about bands/music/songs that probably would have quite happily had their 15 minutes of fame and then quietly disappeared after going delete.  Going delete was what happened when your music was no longer available in stores.  If you had something that had gone delete (been deleted from the catalogue of available music – yes there was such a thing in the past) you had an item that was now a collectible.  Back when I was three or so years of age I remember my Dad tuning the TV (yes tuning!) so he could watch “Weekend World” a political news programme with Brian Walden hosting.  ( This clip is from several years later, but the theme music is the same.  Even as a child I thought that the music to this programme was great to listen to.  Now that it’s easy to take a stroll down memory lane I managed to find out that the theme tune for this British TV show was a sound clip from an American band called Mountain.  The song is called Nantucket Sleigh-ride.    I even managed to get a copy on vinyl at my local record store (yes one or two second-hand record stores are still around).  For your listening pleasure he is the track (  It’s far more sedate than the rocking segment used in the show credits but it’s great on a summer day in the car.

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UPS Driver?

It probably seems random going from academic to UPS delivery driver.  I sat back and thought ok what do I want to do now?  I like driving generally speaking and the big brown box trucks look like they’d be a heap of fun to drive around in all day.  I did some research and a UPS driver has their own route that they do on a daily basis dropping off and picking up from regular places along that route.  Its shift work and long days but thats ok with me I am flexible and I like getting up early in the morning.  Everything seemed great, then I read the job specification and you have to be able to lift up to 70kgs!

I carry my shopping in from the car in a big blue IKEA bag.  Its probably the heaviest thing that I lift on a regular basis.  I decided to get the bathroom scales and see how much it weighed in at.  I was 95kg and me and the bag full of shopping was 120kg!  25kg!!! Boy was I surprised.

Do UPS drivers get to use a trolly ?


Cleared my credit card debt

As of today I have no credit card debt again.  I managed to pay off the last £350.00 worth.  I had been paying around £160 each month on it for the last few months after moving my savings of £1600 onto it last december.  It wasn’t draining my finances completely but it really was an extra heavy weight to carry each payday.

Of course its all my fault, I signed up for the thing in the first place.  What did I buy?  I can’t actually remember which is probably pretty typical of a credit card user.  One thing for sure is that I didn’t use it for everyday spending like food and mortgage.  However I did find myself in what felt like an endless cycle of  “emergency=credit card use”.  I managed to stop this by starting an emergency fund and by being extremely stringent with my spending for a couple of months.  I managed to put £200 by for the servicing of my car (which turned out to be an MOT and new radiator! instead) so that I didn’t use my credit card – I used cash instead.

Car Insurance.
Books from Amazon.
A meal out.
A new computer.
A shirt.
New Car Tyres (pair).
Car repair (door window issues).
The odd ebay purchase.
Tickets to see Steely Dan in concert.
Vet bills.

This is what my statements say that I use my Credit Card for.  Most of these are now budgeted for but the Vet bills are a surprise.  I’m going to have to add that to the list of expenses.

Damn I really hate credit cards.  Things are just going to have to WAIT!  I’m not going back to that kind of suffering again.

Right now I feel like I need to keep it just in case I need it.  Looking at the statements the most expensive things were about £450.  I need to get at least this much into my emergency fund before the next emergency.  Once I have managed six months or so without it I am going to close the account and return the card.

My “credit card cut-up & shut-up day” is August 22nd 2010.

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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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How to filter blank TO: emails in Gmail (Keywords: unspecified to field filter gmail blank spam unsolicited email)

I have spent ages trying to get Gmail to filter out all the emails I get that are not addressed to me. They arrive with blank TO: fields. Normally they are scam letters requesting that I send my personal details to a stranger in X country of the world in return for a share of $5,000,000 US Dollars. Mmm.

So if like me your sick of them, here’s what to stick in your filter. This works with Gmail and uses boolean logic so it should work in other filter systems too:


The exclamation mark on the beginning of your email address means NOT. So this makes the filter list all the emails that have arrived that do not have your email address in the TO: field. This works great for me. Of course it works too well and catches a few emails that aren’t actually spam like forum and email group messages. In Gmail you can use the Doesn’t Have: box to list things that you don’t want to filter out. For example:

hindu | bmw | amnesty | wordpress

the “|” means OR so the above line leaves emails that contain one of those words out of the filtered emails.

I just thought I would post this here so that once google picks it up it might help those who are treading my footsteps with Gmail spam.


Om Namashivaya

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Things are changing right now. I have been asked if I want to leave my job as a lecturer in Graphic Design to do something completely different. I can’t write about it on here right now, but details will come as its made public.

I am feeling pretty damn excited about the change. I am concerned about parts of it, but thats just my common sense screaming at me again. I am determined to ensure that I do everything that I can do to make the change happen.

Since I was asked to change my job I have analysed my everyday situations at work and realised that the job I have now isn’t the job I started thirteen years ago. Yes the syllabus has changed, been updated and moved around awarding bodies several times which kept me on my toes and interested; but since the merger things have really not been great, infact they have been pretty bad. I heard on friday that the college has a list of couriers that it hasn’t used yet because they haven’t paid the ones that they have used. Obviously the courier companies have blacklisted the college. Makes you feel pretty damn insecure about your job when you hear that they are cutting corners like that. Saving money is one thing but no paying people is unreasonable.

I have found that although I enjoy my job and I love the students that the shear amount of red tape that is suffocating education in the uk is mind bogglingly silly. The colleges principal wants the college to merge with the last two other colleges that share the city. We haven’t really sorted out the mess created from the first merger of two colleges of two years ago, making the college even bigger feels like a weak decision to make.

So, whilst I there is a lot to sort out I am ready to go. I plan to leave everything in order so that whomever takes over can step up to the plate without too much concern.

Social Networking Sites – Fad?

If you surf the net a lot then you will definately know about myspace, facebook and their ilk. I had a Myspace account for a while but found that it was really restrictive in what you could do visually with the page and the content that you could put up was pretty meaningless for me. There wasn’t a community spirit as I was told there was and I found the whole thing to be too big for its own boots really. It was fun looking at other peoples pages, but frankly, unless you remotely know of the person whose page your viewing, it all becomes rather drab and somewhat sinister in a voyeuristic kind of way, I found myself checking people’s pages out because I liked the look of their pic that appeared in their friends message board. SELF CONTROL ! Geez.

Facebook looked like it was going to be a different story. Nice structured layout and tools that actually do put you in contact with not only others you know directly (easiest thing to do on Facebook) but also put you in contact with others through groups based on a shared interest like The Sausage And Mash Appreciation Society for example. Up to this point Facebook really does deliver in my opinion. My issue with Facebook is the constant stream of requests that you get from others wanting you to install this application or that application. Which in itself is a nice thing because the applications are normally ways that you can use to be nice to one another on Facebook (Fantastic idea!). The trouble comes when you have a reasonable number of friends on Facebook (30ish in my case) and several of them ask you to add their latest application that THEY think is really cool and THEY want to share with you. This is how it works I know, but this means that Facebook is more of a SPAM MACHINE rather than a social networking site.

I’m reserving judgement at this point, Facebook is allowing me to keep in tentative contact with many of my previous students so its not all bad. Maybe if I had the time (made the time) to use it more often, the backlog of requests wouldn’t be so bad.

Continue reading

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Youtube and personal credibility

I was watching a video blog from a man called Rennetto, it was called “Who is watching youtube”

I was so glad to hear someone talk about the weight of words and how you can judge the power of a message not only by the written words but by the expression and vocabulary used in them. He talked about how the language used can dictate whether or not the reader takes the writer seriously. He infers that a persons credibility is present in their language.

As a college lecturer I work with young people on an everyday basis and from a general point of view I am worried about the lack of communication skills that many of the young people I meet each day tend to have, most of them have regular access to a mobile phone and Instant Messaging. The effect of Instant Messaging and Texting has on the young is really negative. I don’t think that there has been a study about this in the UK, but it needs bringing to everyones attention. The use of the letter u instead of the word you in written work is commonplace. The level of grammar and spelling isn’t great, the level of profanity is far too high and is clearly inhibiting effective communication.

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