Finding the Tracks, Lyrically Speaking

Headphones

Headphones (Photo credit: 96dpi)

“Out of a doorway the tentacles stretch of a song that I know and the world moves in slo-mo straight to my head like the first cigarette of the day.”  Elbow, Bones of You.

Earlier, out of nowhere, I remembered a song that I always associate with reading Rendezvous with Rama in the 90s because the music seemed strangely appropriate to the setting of the book.  It was in the charts at the time and was on the radio regularly but back then I didn’t buy music as I didn’t even have a CD player.  I’ve always thought it was a great song but had lost track of who it was by.

Time to find out, I thought, in these days of MP3 downloads I should have this in my collection.  Searching for “State of Mind” on Amazon wasn’t specific enough and brought up too many recent songs, then I thought that somewhere amongst all the lyrics sites one must have the words to this song.  Off to Google I went: “lyrics “I realise the state of mind that you have found me”” (the first line) returned one solitary result – and the details “Goldie – State of Mind”.  Aha.

Thirty seconds later and the MP3 single was downloading having cost me 59p.  A minute later I’m enjoying 7 minutes of blissful music.

I know the music industry took a while to accept music downloads but being able to rediscover old favourites and enjoy them again via either a snippet of lyrics or a sample of audio is one more amazing thing that the great database of the internet gives us.

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What Do You Mean By Real Criminals?

Day 175 - West Midlands Police - Traffic Officer

Day 175 – West Midlands Police – Traffic Officer (Photo credit: West Midlands Police)

What do the drivers of any of hundreds of cars that pass me on the motorway every year and a man parked on single-yellow lines outside our shop yesterday muttering and throwing his parcel into his car have in common.  They all compalin that motorists are being victimized and targeted (as easy prey) when they’re caught by the fuzz.

For my non-British readership who may not be aware, single-yellow lines on the road are restricted parking, though many people think that parking across the yellow line, half on the road, half on the pavement counteracts these restrictions.  As does putting your hazard lights on.

So many people given speeding fines and parking fines will come out with the old classic saying “I ain’t doing nuffing wrong, officer, why aren’t you out catching real criminals” to the traffic officer whose specific job is catching traffic offenders, many of whom turn out to be real criminals as well, strangely – people who regularly break the law breaking the law, who’d have thought it.  The non-criminal types will usually accuse the police authority of using speeding, parking and crap driving in general as ways of generating easy revenue, without realising that that isn’t quite how police funding works.  Of course they forget that it’s the same traffic officers they’d turn to if they have an accident and need someone to pick up the pieces.

The thing is, if you believe that it’s all about the money then there’s a simple answer: don’t speed, don’t park on yellow lines, drive properly (you can still enjoy yourself) and look after your car.  Simple, no?

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Who Did The Work, Exactly?

Woman with phone screaming.How do you make someone feel like nothing more than an automaton, like some kind of puppet operated by an all-knowing master, how do you make someone feel like they’re pretty worthless?

I’ll tell you.  It’s happened to me, it’s happened to many people I know, it happened to my mum and her colleagues when she was a care assistant at an elderly people’s home.

As the staff member you spend much time finding out information, you carefully manufacture something, you arrange for some work to be done, you do all you can to make an elderly relative’s final months as comfortable as possible – add your own job role here.  At the end of the process the person who you’ve done all this for – i.e. the customer, the client, (in my experience usually well off, a business owner) doesn’t say thankyou to you but instead says, to your face, “oh, pass my thanks on to [insert boss/manager’s name here] and tell them I’ll owe them a bottle of wine for all he/she’s done.”

Well, you’re welcome, you think.  You may not be doing the job for the thanks or praise but a little of your soul gets worn down.

 

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Return of the Red Tape…

Red Tape

Red Tape (Photo credit: Free Press Pics)

…And this time it’s digital.

It’s been a difficult few years for most of us, economically speaking, and as such it’s great to see how government departments do everything they can to make it quick and simple for employers to employ new staff, to help provide growth in the economy and give someone a purpose.

Oh, wait, no, sorry.  When I said quick and simple I meant difficult.

Once upon a time when we wanted to advertise a job we’d ring the local job centre and give them the details, they’d be typed on to a little card and slotted onto a holder on the wall.  More recently we’d ring a centralised call centre and they’d take the details and put them on the computerised version of the little cards and virtual wall.

But the last time I rang I was told that we couldn’t do that any more, all job adverts have to be placed using the online system, the woman I spoke to put the ad on but I was aware that really she was breaking the rules to do so.  I was sent information on how to do it in future and this week the reality of this futuristic way of doing things hit me.

This is meant to improve the service, and meant to be more secure – after all, we’ve all heard stories of rogue individuals pretending to be HR staff from small glass companies and posting fake job adverts.  Okay, so first step, log in to your Government Gateway account.  That’s all well and good but when it was set up the one used for the company is in the director’s name and when I try to add the Universal Jobmatch tool then I get asked to answer security questions, for verification.  Right, how would I know our director’s first girlfriend’s name, his first teddybear’s name, which school he went to?  I’m not kidding, these are the personal questions you need to provide answers to in case you ever ring them and need to prove it’s you.  He’s not here to ask and to be honest I wouldn’t ask him anyway.

No problem, as this government gateway thing turns out to be more specific to a person rather than a company I’ll set one up in my name, at this company, and I can tell them what my favourite childhood toy was.  All good so far except I can’t add Universal Jobmatch to my profile because it’s already on the director’s even though it’s not fully set up.  Ok, so I log back into the other account, remove it from there and add it to mine instead.  Now it’s true that I could only do all this because the Universal Jobmatch had been already set up and had a private ID number allocated by the woman I spoke to last time so it’s good in terms of security but it’s still an hour’s faffing about rather than a ten minute phone call.  You bored yet?  I was.

But it’s not over yet, once I was able to enter the job details all was good, in so many ways it’s easier to manage your own adverts, I’m sure the government can be happy it’s saving money by having employers do it themselves too, but what made me laugh was at the end of the process when the system told me I hadn’t entered enough characters in the job description – minimum of 200.

Ha, I thought, I go to advertise a job and they want War and Peace instead, do they think I’ve got all day?

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