Lunch At One

Birthday Cake

Birthday Cake (Photo credit: Will Clayton)

With today’s Lunch we’ll be nibbling a slice of birthday cake.  It was a year ago, at midnight on 1st April 2012 that I flicked the switch and released this blog to the public of the internet.  It was a nervous moment for an introvert like me – will anyone even look at it, will anyone like it, will I offend anyone?  I remember when I got my first follower a few days later and as I wrote shortly after it felt great and awesome to know that someone on the other side of the world had seen my words, liked them and wanted to read more.

It’s been an interesting year and I’ve learned much, there’s still much to do though.

Before diving into some of what I’ve learned I’d like to thank those who have liked my posts and followed my blog.  As others have said the WordPress community is a great one and I’ll look forward to seeing more of other bloggers’ work in the future too.

The Tools

I’ve begun using Evernote to organise information to put into future posts, using my Nexus 7 tablet to write up notes and posts while I’m watching tv or am otherwise away from the main computer.  I’ve bought a new Logitech wired keyboard because I can type faster on it  – sometimes it’s the simplest things that can make the difference.

I’m using the WordPress app on my Nexus to read posts on other blogs I follow as I can instantly reblog them or send them to Pocket for commenting of referencing later.

The Time

I’ve told myself to set aside a bit of time each day to do this otherwise I end up with a long list of unread posts that seems too daunting to tackle before more turn up the next day – I have the same problem at work, feeling like new tasks turning up will prevent me from finishing the ones I’ve already got, leaving me feeling anxious, stressed and overwhelmed; but that’s another story.  The fear of the so-called information overload, a decidedly 21st century ailment, has stopped me looking for suitable stories about modern life elsewhere too, ironically.

The Confidence

I’ve learnt to be honest and say how I feel, to not agonize too much about what to say and not to put off writing a post if I have all the pieces right there in my mind – one problem I have is I too often over-think a post, or to put too many things into one post that could perhaps be spread out over many.

I still get a buzz when I see the notifications telling me that people have liked my posts, I don’t feel I’ve failed if a post gets no likes at all.  Most of all I just enjoy writing these articles, gathering information, articulating thoughts and sending them out into the world.  I still though hoard more information, more bit of what could become posts than write actual posts.  Procrastination is still a problem; the feeling of sitting down and not feeling able to write anything (which is still,  for me, a lack of confidence in my own abilities) is still a problem.  But I’ve researched and found solutions to these things which I will be outlining soon.

So onto year two, with clear plans, determination to overcome what stops me writing and keeps me watching TV instead, a bag full of Cadbury’s Cream Eggs and one more day off work.

My Stereo’s Three Lives

KMNR's extensive CD collection

KMNR’s extensive CD collection (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I have an old Philips stereo, it sounds lovely with crisp, crackle-free audio, it used to be my alarm clock and saw daily use playing CDs but has languished in my living room, underused, being merely decorative for many years.  It has a cassette deck along with the CD player, it doesn’t have an iPod dock or even a 3.5mm input jack.  First the cassettes gave way to CDs and now MP3s are the norm, perhaps it could have been the end for my humble stereo.

But no, I was not prepared to give up its audio abilities that easily.  Now it is an amplifier, with some adaptors and a bluetooth receiver attached to its rear it has a new lease of life.  I have just about finished uploading my 6,300 track music library to Google Play Music and as such can play any of my collection via my Nexus 7 tablet over bluetooth onto my venerable old stereo.  The old Philips now effectively has a touchscreen remote interface and access to six-thousand searchable tracks, all of which sound as good (to me at least) as they did when I first listened to them on that same stereo on the days I bought the CDs.

I am still awed by what modern technology can achieve with these powerful mobile devices and cloud services.  Especially when I can rope in my good old tech too.

talinorfali

In the recent and In the many years I have been in the community around me, I have always heard people talking negatively about themselves and age, and they have said that, I am too old to learn anymore, I am too old to do things, but no on the contrary, everyone learns everyday and don’t even realize it. Everyday passing day we learn something new about ourselves, we learn about something new in the world, we learn about our loved ones, and about what all of us love to do. You are never too old to learn things. People always put themselves down and that should not happen. Each one of us are different in how we learn, some learn by listening, some learn by doing, some learn by following instructions in a manual. Each and every one of us learn in our special ways. Some of us are…

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I’m Just Not a Twitterer

Chick (image courtesy of Serif)

Chick (image courtesy of Serif)

It seems like everything’s “social” these days, no marketing campaign is complete without “find us on Facebook”, follow us on Twitter for exclusive news, competitions and stuff, and to make sure all your friends know what products you like.  I remember competitions including the line “put your answer on a postcard” but more and more the only method of entering is by tweeting your answer to @most-social-media-aware-company-evar.   Email isn’t an option, Facebook’s sooo last year.

I have Google+ because it was there, with my Gmail, I did enter a competition via that and Facebook today because it only involved clicking two buttons.  The third one was to enter via Twitter.  I didn’t because I can’t.  I don’t use Twitter, don’t even have an account, I have enough information coming at me as it is and I don’t want to have to remember another password.

It is, however, becoming unavoidable.  Presenters on radio shows say “is it snowing where you are?  Let us know.”  You think, yes it is, I’ll be part of this.  Then he says “tweet me to let me know.”  And a feeling of being left out makes you start to type twitter into your browser.  It’s not just unfair to those of us who don’t want to tweet but to those who don’t have the technology or the knowledge to sign up to these services.  Competitions and surveys should be open to anyone.

I haven’t given in yet, but it feels like it’s only a matter of time before I have to.

[Edit – March 2016]

Ok, I have given in, I was bored last week and decided to see what the fuss is about, also I thought I’d grab the same twitter name as my Flickr account.  @AndyByTheTrent.  I’ve followed a couple of people but not really done much with it.  #stillcantseethepointyet.

talinorfali

In my life, one of the most joyful and satisfaction I receive is when I cook, bake and enjoy my time in the kitchen with all my favourite kitchen appliances that make my cooking a lot more enjoyable and fun at the same time. I was 8 years old and I remember cooking rice for the very first time. It was the best feeling in the world when my mom taught me how to wash it and cook it. Now with my mom’s supervision she watched me as I cooked and she said, great job and it was my first time doing it. I got so excited. From then on, I started cooking a lot for my family and then as soon as I turned 14 years old, I did not need supervision anymore, and I could do everything on my own. I learned how to make lasagna, chicken soup…

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Amazon Roulette

English: Amazon warehouse at Glenrothes

English: Amazon warehouse at Glenrothes (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

When it comes to buying things that are non-essential I tend to follow my gut instinct and be patient, waiting for the best deal and usually I get a bargain.  Sometimes this is because I’ve waited for the thing to be replaced by “next year’s model” and is discounted in a local clearance store or on Amazon, but many of these bargains have been through the wonder that is Amazon WarehouseI don’t know if other countries have this but we do in Britain.

I’ve had a slightly dinged Acer Netbook for half-price, £35 worth of ring binders for £2.76 which had only had the box opened it appears and a souvenir London 2012 notebook which only had a slight mark on the spine for a couple of quid.  High-street shops have been selling these “shop-soiled seconds” for decades as many people won’t buy things at full price if the packaging or the product is slightly damaged, or has even been opened.  Amazon’s back-room though is a treasure trove and it’s given me a little game you can play.

The prices of everything on Amazon can vary and you can use “Your Browsing History” to keep track of stuff you want and watch the prices, including the Warehouse prices which come under the “Used” pricing.  Recently I’ve been watching Sony Bluray players and the three models that have built-in iPlayer etc have been up and down like the proverbial yo-yo in the Warehouse for weeks.  First the basic model was cheap, then it shot up for no good reason, then the mid-range did the same, then the best one suddenly dipped below the price the basic one had initially dropped to – less than half-price for one with “slight cosmetic damage”.  I clicked “buy” and deleted them all from my history so I don’t see if they went even lower – if you are of the masochistic or pessimistic nature however you could keep watching.

Bargain spotting, 21st century style.  Just remember, in shopping as in life, patience is everything.

It’s The Thought That Counts

Easter eggs // Ostereier

Easter eggs // Ostereier (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

When I was younger Valentines Day involved giving an anonymous card to someone you kinda liked.  Easter involved a gift of chocolate eggs.  At the end of the school term your teachers said “right that’s it, piss off, see you all in September” and everyone gave a sigh of relief and went for a smoke – often both the teachers and pupils.

Now though before Christmas is fully over we get adverts flogging “that perfect Valentines gift for someone special” and it’s not just expensive jewelery but DVDs, Tablet computers and phones.  Now I’m not unromantic but I don’t confine my displays of affection to blingy jewelry in February.

Next there’s Mothers’ Day and Fathers’ Day which has also moved beyond flowers or chocolate, handmade gifts and cards to similar flogging of expensive electronics, and the card aisle also now includes cards for husbands to send to their wives and vice-versa on these days and even Mother’s Day cards for Aunties.  The inevitable next step is the largely informal Grandparents’ Day, not that I have a clue when that is as I haven’t seen the adverts for it yet.

Today I’ve seen an advert for a remote control BMW toy headed with “struggling to find that perfect Easter gift”.  What, we now have to buy actual toys and expensive electronics for Easter too?

Finally, just when you think the gifting season is over the kids are breaking up from school and are encouraged by marketers to take a parting gift for their teacher(s), to remind them of all the little darlings they’ll be missing dearly over the six weeks holiday.  This year has even seen an advert of choice items teachers can buy for the pupils.

Now I love giving gifts to people, I’m able to, but these additional gift-giving times apply increasing pressure on people to give increasingly expensive presents or risk appearing to not care, or being left out.  With all these days seen as just another marketing opportunity its easy to believe that today the thought no longer counts.  I like to think though that that’s not true.

By the way, remember there’s still five shopping days ’til Easter.

Drinking Is Not The Answer…

A glass of red wine. Photo taken in Montreal C...

A glass of red wine. Photo taken in Montreal Canada (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

When the question is “what will get rid of my cold?”  This post relates to my personal viral episode.

Gizmodo recently scientifically challenged the theories that alcohol can cure a cold.  Firstly they explained that to have enough alcohol in your bloodstream to kill the virus (60%-80% ethyl alcohol) you’d kill yourself first, as usually a concentration of 0.2% will render most of us insensible.

Then they showed that the alcohol doesn’t disinfect your throat, or soothe it but in fact simply numbs your pain response and can actually further dry out the tissues of the throat, making things worse.  Concluding with an “amusing anecdote” about a submariner gargling with 99% alcohol.

Lastly they reported on a study by Carnegie Mellon University in 1993 on the relationship between smoking, drinking and the common cold.  Those who smoked got sick more often, smoking and drinking brought average results whereas drinkers got sick less – with those who drank 14 glasses of wine per week, especially red wine, being 60% less susceptible to colds.  This is probably down to the antioxidants in wine and dark beers like Guiness – which is good news for me, I enjoy a good dark beer.

Roll on Friday!

[Gizmodo UK]