Psychology, Society, Transport

All Sound and Fury, Signifying Nothing

I’ve noticed recently that the noisiest motorbikes and cars sound, as their riders or drivers accelerate them, like a baby crying for attention – -wahhhh, wahhhhh, wahhhhh, with each noise increasing as they go along, not a coincidence I think…

As I write this it’s a sunny weekend in May so inevitably all day while trying to enjoy the sunshine we’ve heard pratts revving their cars or bikes outside their houses, tuning them – so they seem to think – and idiots tearing out of town into the countryside at well over the speed limit and excessively noisily. At this time it’s all the more annoying as they’re supposed to be staying at home and pushing your right foot onto a pedal doesn’t count as daily exercise.

I don’t hate all motorbikes or sports cars, or all of those who ride and drive them, there is someone on this street who has a modern bike and you barely hear his arriving or leaving on it, he occasionally rides either a true classic bike or a modern replica and it’s the same with them, his friends are the same, the engines emit a not-unpleasant burble and they don’t set off at full revs. Yet the two younger riders round here have Japanese “sports bikes” with all the plastic cowlings and deliberately loud exhausts and they have to sit there making a racket before even going anywhere and arrive similarly loudly so everyone notices them and so everyone thinks they’re the next Valentino Rossi.

They would no doubt say that rather than sounding like they’ve got a dodgy exhaust their car sounds “mint”, “like a Frarri”, “badass” or “sick” – which it does, as in “broken”.  They think everyone will be impressed by the driver’s “mad skillz”, but most people who have to listen to it won’t be impressed, they’ll describe the driver with a word that beings with ass…

One reason they all rev their engines at home is so everyone can see that they have a powerful car or bike and how amazing they are that they can handle it. Whereas some of them even just seem to have the loud cars and bikes for the soul purpose of annoying people, wearing the fact that they’re so bad that they’re despised as a badge of honour, because the bad are glorified, for example the “bad lads” are supposedly the real men in society, so say Hollywood and the much of the media. One car near where I live had a decal glued to the tailgate that said “Hated Locally” on it. Whether the driver implied that he was hated because he’s so much faster and better than other drivers or because he was loud and annoying is irrelevant as the latter will have been true anyway.

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Cars, Society, Tech, Transport

Unplugged: How To Power a Car in 2025

action asphalt automobile automotive

Photo by Taras Makarenko on Pexels.com

Would you buy this used car: it’s in good condition, it’s reasonably priced, good so far, it only takes two hours to refill with fuel, eh, what? Oh, and you’ll need to buy a new fuel tank which costs more than the car, and if you use it regularly and keep it then you’ll need another one in a few years time and it’ll not be any cheaper than the last one because you can’t use a second hand one, they either work or don’t. Tempted? No, me neither but that’s the issue with plug-in electric cars. No matter how much the makers claim that soon they’ll be able to be charged more quickly it’ll still take much longer than refilling with a liquid fuel such as petrol, diesel or… hydrogen. And the batteries usable life is still poor like the one in your phone, Lithium Ion batteries can only be recharged so many times – as witnessed by the fact I’ve just had to buy a new battery for my laptop.

An advert at the moment says that because more people are buying electric cars it means that “The Electric Car is now just The Car”, and the government is looking to invest millions in charging points, someone even recently suggested that in the future petrol stations could become recharging stations instead. Ok, let’s have a look at that for a moment: there’s an electric car advertised at the moment that states the “rapid charging” takes 75 minutes to reach 80% charge. How many cars visit an average petrol station in that time? The last time I filled up my car at least four of the six pumps were occupied for the two minutes or so it took to fill up and pay, imagine the queues on motorways leading to the recharging stations.

Still though electric car sales have gone through the roof, driven by hype and fashion. Many countries are proposing banning sales of petrol and diesel cars by 2040, or 2035 in the UK now, saying “woo, look how eco-friendly we are” but again think about the practicalities of this – what about people who have no garage to park their car in, people who live in apartment blocks with communal parking, or parking on the street – are sales of very long extension leads going to soar, are we looking at a future of pavements covered in cabling or are landlords and councils expected to dig up the road and install charging points? Who will pay for the electricity? Already some places that put in charging points for customers to charge for free are pulling them out again because someone will park there and leave the car all day.

Battery electric cars are always being described as clean but this is only in terms of direct emissions, indirectly the electricity has to come from some form of generation and unless its solar, hydroelectric or geothermal it won’t be as clean as the ads imply.   Add to that the environmental costs of making the batteries.  Vauxhall have an advert for a new electric car that shows a gravestone with “Petroleum, back in the ground where it belongs” on it. The gas and coal used to generate the electricity to charge the car, taken out of the same ground. This country isn’t really suitable for most renewable forms of energy, even if we surrounded our coastlines with wind turbines and even using solar power to directly charge a car isn’t really feasible – neither will solar powered aircraft, the best ones at the moment can only generate enough power to carry one person.

Hydrogen gas is the only option in my opinion.

Hydrogen fuel cell cars can be refuelled quickly, they only produce water as a by-product and don’t require batteries which have a huge environmental impact and short lifespan. Petrol and diesel persisted because of convenience of refuelling and energy density – you get a heck of a lot of energy (and hence mileage) from a small volume, compressed Hydrogen has this same advantage.
Because producing Hydrogen requires either a chemical process or electricity to separate it from the oxygen in water that’s the argument that many people use – that you’re using fossil fuels to do the job, the counter argument being “where do you think the electricity to charge your ‘green’ electric car comes from eh?”
In hot, dry countries there are solar power plants which focus the sun’s rays to create steam to drive turbines and generate electricity, if dedicated plants were built which used the energy they produce to create hydrogen (and oxygen) then that could then be transported to nations like ours to use in fuel cells. This would reduce the environmental cost to only the transportation – which is the case at the moment for petrol. But you don’t even need the electricity, Hydrogen can be produced using chemistry from other substances where it is bonded with elements other than Oxygen.
In nature plants take in carbon dioxide, water, sunlight and nutrients and use them to grow, releasing oxygen in the process, hydrogen fuel-cell cars can be part of the natural water cycle too – split seawater into its components, use the hydrogen – recombining it with oxygen to release usable energy and produce water that returns to rivers and seas to then evaporate or be split into hydrogen and oxygen again.

When Honda’s FCX Clarity fuel cell car came out it was heralded as the car of the future yet many years later there’s still nowhere to fill up a fuel cell car so that creates the paradox – nobody will buy a car with nowhere to fill it up but no-one will build the infrastructure because they say “where are the cars to use it?”
Essentially the barrier to Hydrogen use is the infrastructure – it would cost millions to put in place equipment at filling stations for hydrogen they say. Oh, lets not bother then, let’s spend millions on charging stations instead. Huh?

The fuel cell car is cleaner to make as it has no lithium-ion batteries which also means the ongoing costs of replacing worn out ones are eliminated. Maintenance is simplified as the only moving parts are the motors, or even just one motor and some driveshafts depending on the drivetrain. It’s more practical as you can refill it quickly, park it anywhere and still get decent range from it. It has the same benefits of power and torque as any other electric car. Depending on how the hydrogen is made it can be near to zero emissions both directly and indirectly.
The irony is that both the electric motor powered car and the Hydrogen fuel cell both pre-date the internal combustion engine – if only they’d been brought together sooner.

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Health, Meta, Politics, Society

The Lighter Side of a Global Pandemic

Right from the early stages of this Covid-19 Pandemic there has been a number of film and TV show selections of the schedules that have been, shall we say, interesting. I’m not sure if these were deliberate, I know schedules are worked out in advance but, as we’ve seen with the plethora of lockdown-specific TV shows, can be changed.

The ones that I noticed have included:
  Channel 5 showing “28 Days Later” regularly
  Channel 4 showing “The Return of The Black Death”
  Channel 5 showing “The Great Plague: Digging Up Britain’s Past”
  ITV2 showing “Contagion”
  Horror Channel showing “The Andromeda Strain” – the obligatory “it’s aliens” story.
  Another channel showed a documentary “Pandemic: 1918” about the Spanish Flu outbreak.
  Horror Channel showed “Daylight’s End” “In the aftermath of an outbreak that turned humans into rabid creatures” – much like the scenes in supermarkets shortly before the lockdown.
Either it’s a sick sense of humour or an attempt to say “things could be worse”… Elsewhere DMAX have been showing first Paranormal Lockdown UK and then Paranormal Lockdown US. Which I’m sure is a coincidence but if anything can be called a paranormal lockdown this can.

I have noticed that shopping has ceased to resemble Supermarket Sweep and now feels like the start of a Tour de France time trial or a World Rally stage – being let go into the aisles at intervals – at least they don’t time you, or if they did what would you win? A bottle of hand sanitiser?
  There was a man in a shop who was offered his receipt by the cashier and his reaction was to insist that she put it on the counter before he then picked it up, saying “you can’t be too careful” despite the fact that she’d already touched it, she’d put it down on a surface which could have even more contamination on it than her hand and if he’d taken it from her he’d know which end she’d touched and as such he could have just stuffed it in his wallet uncontaminated. In the same shop they’d had to put signs on the shelves where the handwash had been, and had been replaced with loads of bar soap, saying, effectively “this is soap, it works the same as handwash, it’s just solid.”
  In a light-hearted post the photographic film manufacturer Ilford suggested stockpiling rolls of film not toilet roll.

In Psychology there is an effect whereby if you touch and object you want to own it, supermarkets have now reinforced this with their instruction to not touch anything you’re not going to buy therefore if you pick something up to see what it is you feel you really should buy it – or is that just me. Ok, just me then.

The Grand National was replaced by a virtual version and bookmakers profits were donated to NHS charities. For years we’ve been saying that some motorsport has become more like a video game, in 2020 Formula One and Formula E literally did, and finally the fans who were convinced they could drive better than the professionals got a chance to try to prove it.

TV and radio have become strange as many programmes presenters have taken to the equivalent of “phoning it in”, sat in their living rooms, occasionally interrupted by kids or pets while some new shows have been made specifically for lockdown such as Jamie Oliver’s cooking tips and Kirsty Allsop doing a programme on crafts you can do while at home.
  One of the channel idents for the UK’s Dave said “Who’d have thought that staying at home and watching TV would count as saving the world?”

In a slightly mistimed new Lynx Africa advert, a young man at college picks up a can of Lynx Africa in 1996 and immediately he gets transported to 2020 where he emerges on the lawn outside in front of a young woman who sprays the Lynx on his t-shirt then drags him away. The reality of course would be he would either emerge into an empty college lawn or if she was there she’d have told him to get back and observe the social distancing – and either way he’d wonder what they hell was going on.

At mealtimes we’ve all been transformed into amateur Heston Blumenthals experimenting with what we’ve got left in the fridge and freezer until we go and queue up at the supermarkets again. All this aided by the aforementioned Jamie Oliver. After the toilet roll stage of the panic buying came the beer and wine stage while in South Africa they are looking to impose a ban on drinking hand sanitiser. Talking of supermarkets a newspaper in hull shared the amazing news, nearly a month into the lockdown, and even longer since the panic buying began, that you could get most of your groceries at shops which aren’t supermarkets, gasp. I, today ventured into a supermarket after work for the first time in seven weeks, there wasn’t a queue, it was half-past-five of course.

And we’ve gained a new phrase and concept of course – social distancing, two words that we’ll take a while to forget and a habit that we’ll probably still subconsciously maintain after this is over, I’ve even noticed that I’ve seen people on TV adverts and thought “they’re not two metres apart”…

Facebook and Twitter have been a mine of Coronavirus humour since day one, as expected.  Especially as we were told to not stay home anymore but “stay aware” – of what, nobody’s really sure as yet.

Of course there’ll always be songs to keep you going and I’ll leave this post with an appropriate one Radio 2s Liza Tarbuck played on the 11th of April by Ethel Merman, Jack Klugman & Sandra Church “Together Wherever We Go”:
“We may not go far… We’ll always get through this together”

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Health, Psychology, Society, Work

A Crisis Brings Out The Best in People

Flowers

Flowers

I originally wrote a piece about how it felt like our nation had lost our legendary stoicism and blitz spirit and become selfish and cynical in the face of a global pandemic, hence the title being ironically wrong, but thankfully the good has now far outweighed the bad so, the revised version.

We started March with a looming, glowering storm approaching called COVID-19 and numerous selfish individuals made grocery shopping look like an episode of Supermarket Sweep thinking that of course, and I quote, “there wouldn’t be any food in two weeks time”. Though food didn’t seem to be on most of their minds as across the world people hoarded toilet rolls – why they’d need them without food is anyone’s guess. in the U.S. of course people hoarded guns and ammo, presumably in case someone came to take away their bog rolls.

As we know, despite supermarkets telling us that they’d got warehouses full of everything we’d need while being locked away for six months, the hoarding soon extended to milk, pasta, bread and nappies. When the pubs closed down so the hoarders stockpiled beer too, then gin, rum and lastly cider. I drink cider so I’m ok with enough for my occasional can in the fridge. I’m alright Jack (Daniels).

After six weeks we got the queuing back but this time at reopened DIY stores and household waste centres as people were desperate to clear out the stuff they’d been, er, clearing out for six weeks.

I spoke to a woman on the till at the height of the panic buying, she looked exhausted and had had a bad day, it was worse than the pre-Christmas rush and she said she’d had enough of working in retail, it was the final straw. Then the hoarders left an NHS nurse in tears because after working all day to help people she couldn’t get food for her tea. Further it descended into the same people shouting at shop staff because they couldn’t get what they wanted and after limits were imposed on how much you could buy people tried going back with multiple trolleys – one man locally went back to the same till with a second trolley full and was refused, as was a man with a trolley full of toilet roll. It is a sad reflection on these parts of our society that the CEO of Asda had to go on TV adverts asking people not to abuse his staff.

But of course it wasn’t just shop staff, at first a number of Asians in Britain were verbally or physically attacked with comments such as “take your coronavirus home” being spat at them by the idiots, then the shop staff trying to make sure everyone has food, some staff of non-essential businesses had been abused for cancelling work and closing, and then after shops prioritised NHS staff in stores other shoppers had been heard to abuse them too just for being prioritised, commenting “so what” and so on. These people would be the first crying for NHS help should they fall ill, and would be demanding priority treatment.

We had people stealing milk bottles from doorsteps. A pub in Scotland delivering free meals to NHS staff received a torrent of online abuse for doing it. And the people who think this is just a free holiday and restrictions don’t apply to them, because they’re special or too “badass” to catch, carry and transmit the virus so they continue to gather together. And as for the people caught licking a phonebox in our town, well in addition to being made to clean it it would be ironic if they caught the virus from the phonebox wouldn’t it.

The latest thing is people believing conspiracy theories that 5G mobile is to blame for coronavirus and destroying the phone masts that ultimately our emergency services also rely on. It doesn’t help that these theories are being peddled by ill-informed celebrities on social media, because of course they’d be an expert on the subject so they must be right, right? As for the other conspiracy theories, well, it’d take the rest of the lockdown period to read them all.

But then the good in our country started to show. I’ve noticed most people being polite and considerate, saying thankyou, saying “morning” when you pass them while getting your government authorised exercise and smiling. Hundreds of thousands of people have volunteered to help the NHS, delivering prescriptions, taking patients to appointments, calling vulnerable people on the phone just to chat. Local groups have launched to help people, do shopping for them, walk dogs. Individuals and supermarkets have helped foodbanks. Pubs have become corner shops, restaurants became takeaways. Private healthcare companies are helping support the NHS, St John’s Ambulance volunteers are operating their ambulances alongside the NHS’ own service, and even Formula 1 teams have offered to build ventilators for hospitals. Airbus have deployed test aircraft to transport supplies. Passenger aircraft have been turned into cargo planes for medical supplies. A McDonald’s has become a drive-through testing station. The response has been amazing.

Like in wartime when car manufacturers made tanks and aircraft fashion clothes factories have started making medical gowns for the hospitals. Individual companies and even schools have donated PPE to hospitals.

The Queen has given speeches to rally the country in unison, invoking the wartime spirit, saying “And those who come after us will say that the Britons of this generation were as strong as any. That the attributes of self-discipline, of quiet good-humoured resolve and of fellow-feeling still characterise this country.” As a nation we are showing that we do indeed still have that spirit in abundance.

Every Thursday night we clap for carers, round here it has expanded to honk for hospitals, fireworks for frontliners too. We see rainbows painted by kids in house windows and attached to fences, even out in the countryside where I ride my bike. My parents saw, the other night, two dinosaurs walking along their street to give people a smile. Whole streets are singing outside their front doors.

People have raised huge sums for the NHS and charities via social media, including a Notts man who raised over £150,000 by camping in the garden, and Captain Tom, the 99 year old Army veteren who voluntarily raised over £30million by completing 100 laps of his garden, then gets a song to number one, the oldest person ever to achieve that. We’ve had improvised comedy nights, adverts encouraging working together.
Organisations supporting the vulnerable and desperately in need of help in this situation have continued to support everyone they can.  Communities have been helping each other to get through the crisis.

Internet services providers have beefed up their services and prioritised users to provide for remote working. Facebook has just announced that they’ll be flagging whether you’ve looked at any misleading information about coronavirus on their platform. The technology companies are enabling communications that enable the world to carry on better than we could otherwise have done, and allowed many who would otherwise be isolated to not be.

Shortly before we were Furloughed I spoke to a delivery driver who was moved because of people thanking him for carrying on and doing a wonderful job in enabling the country to carry on, which extends to posties and lorry drivers, shop staff, bin men and other key workers who we all should be grateful to and thank sincerely.
So yes we have seen we still have a strong community spirit, and judging by the Coronavirus jokes on Facebook, our sense of humour.

I think this characterises us, when times are tough we suddenly stand up and make things brighter, whether it’s a war, or a economic downturn or a pandemic we do what we can to make our country bright – in the landscape of flowerbeds or painted rainbows and our spirits through smiling and joking about it, dancing and singing in the street – whatever we need to do to try to keep each other going.

As Winston Churchill once said “makes you proud to be British.”

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Health, Society

Thank You

Thank you

Image by Alexas_Fotos from Pixabay

I would just like to take this opportunity to say a huge thank you to all our country’s key workers, in the NHS, emergency services and elsewhere helping us through the Covid-19 crisis.  Thank you for keeping us healthy, saving lives, providing us with essentials in shops from milk to toilet paper, taking away our rubbish, keeping the lights on and drains unblocked, keeping us in touch and entertained, bringing supplies into the country and bringing parcels to our homes and businesses.

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Health, Psychology, Society, Uncategorized

There Can Be No Comparison

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Someone once said that they felt unhappy because everybody else was out doing exciting things but they weren’t, it was all work and home life. The thing is that this feeling was mostly based on Facebook – seeing “all” their friends doing these things. The problem with Facebook is that it expresses a natural Human tendency to only present an edited highlights to others, or alternatively only the worst aspects. For every person showing off on Facebook about all the amazing things they do there’ll be others like me who hardly ever post anything, even if I do do something interesting or go somewhere because it’s not in my nature to believe that anyone else would really want to know every single thing I’m doing on holiday.

“Just saw a dog in the surf on the beach #wetdog”

It’s all too easy to compare your life to others, in real life you might see someone you like the look of and they’re with someone more extroverted or wealthy than you and you might think “typical, they never want someone like me” and so continues a cycle of feeling “not good enough”. Some people similarly feel the need to have better material stuff than others, bigger TV, more expensive Smartphone (“sent from my IPHONE, did you see that, I have an IPHONE”) the old “keeping up with the Jones'” is still alive and well but with more Jones’ to keep up with.

Facebook turns this up to eleven as you see a concentration of all aspects of others lives that you consider are better than yours without the mundane, judged through the lens of what you perceive from the media as the perfect lifestyle, what your life must be like to not be boring.

“Friday night dinner; chips, beans and chicken dippers #livinlavidabirdseye”

They were good chicken dippers too. Happiness is complex in so many ways, but comparing your life to others can erode it. Deleting your Facebook account may not be the answer, you need to evaluate what you personally find true joy and fulfilment in, isolated from those around you. If you really need to be partying every night then nothing’s going to change unless that desire is based on making sure that other people know what you’re doing, that they know you’re such a cool person. As someone said on TV recently “what’s the point of doing something if you can’t brag about it on Facebook.” For many people though knowing what really matters can restore your satisfaction with what you have. Often the joy in the little things is far more important than impressing people who probably aren’t even bothered…

Lazlo’s Chinese Relativity Axiom: “No matter how great your triumphs or how tragic your defeats, approximately one billion Chinese couldn’t care less.”

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Health, Psychology, Society, Uncategorized

Procrastination and The Fear of The Future

Anxiety

Anxiety

How did I write this post?

This blog is looking more abandoned than last year, to the point where the neighbours might start complaining, and despite what I’ve written before about just getting started and so on I’m still not writing anything.

The main problem is that I look at the list of potential posts, think “I couldn’t do that justice in the time I have tonight, I’d miss something out or get something wrong, or upset someone” and give up.  This is a typical example of a feeling that whatever I do will be wrong, an image of a future in which I fail – this is a big problem for me and one I’m trying to get over.

It happens all day, every day, I’m forever thinking that I’m bound to make a mistake, or someone will say I haven’t done something I have done, or done something I haven’t; I’d upset someone, or someone will think I’m boring or aloof because I won’t be able to think of anything to say;  something I’m waiting for through the post will go missing; something will go wrong etc.  Constant negativity.  It’s exhausting, being constantly anxious about the future.  Anxiety puts you in a dark, cold and lonely place with no obvious way out, I’ve spent far too much time there.

I recently read a Lifehacker article about this very issue which explains how reframing your image of the future to be a positive, successful one is crucial.  Once you envisage things turning out ok you can feel less anxious and as such become less stressed and just let life flow.  This is easier said than done, admittedly and as the article says it’s no cure for an actual anxiety disorder.  This is one of the great resources of the internet, support, even when it is serendipitous like the Lifehacker article, just seeing that how your feeling can be changed, that others have been there, helps.  In a way my state of anxiety had become normalised, I expected to feel that way and reading the piece made me think “no, it’s not the way to live.”  I had been wondering why I felt uneasy, uptight, stressed, afraid to talk to people I didn’t know, and why I couldn’t write posts anymore, I had my answer, well, an answer.

At the end of the day nobody knows what’s going to happen in a minute’s time, or what someone’s going to think, or assume, and anxiously trying to mentally prepare for every bad thing that could happen is just going to make things worse.  The worst things that happen are usually things you don’t see coming, as in the Baz Lurhmann song Everybody’s Free (to Wear Sunscreen) “The real troubles in your life are apt to be things that never crossed your worried mind.  The kind that blindside you at 4pm on some idle Tuesday.”

So trying to keep that in mind perhaps I can then just write a blog post and post it, like this one.

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Business, Psychology, Society, Work

Foafexperts – The Customer’s Mate Down The Pub is Always Right

Learning

Learning

There is a term in the world of mysterious Fortean events to describe the sort of story that starts with “Apparently…” and is about some paranormal event witnessed by a “Friend of a Friend” hence they are called “foaftales”.  It seems though that the foafs have moved beyond the esoteric and become experts on absolutely everything.  Maybe it’s the internet’s illusion of knowledge – you can of course search and find many true answers on the net can’t you – but more often you encounter members of the public with no prior involvement in the industry they’re dealing with telling the person with many years of experience either what they know or how to do their job.  As they say a little knowledge is a bad thing.

For example a customer who when told they need safety glass in a door replies angrily “it doesn’t need toughened, it’s only an internal timber door” or others who say “the double glazed units were obviously made wrong because they’re not supposed to break down (get condensation inside) at all, I know how they work” to the one who wanted a sealed unit straight away “I shouldn’t have to wait, I know how long they take to make” – really, would you like a job?  I also encountered a customer with no prior experience of double-glazed glass units who insisted that I was measuring the thickness of the unit he’d brought in wrongly, as was an equally experienced colleague, and told me I needed to get a measuring caliper – I did and came up with the same measurement, surprisingly.

Part of this is someone who knows a little about a subject who wants to show off to their friend that they’re some kind of expert, other times it may be someone trying to promote themselves by appearing knowledgable.   Sometimes the person may be trying to help but more often than not, they’re not.

So many people seem to have a father-in-law who’s “in the trade” and knows that what you’re saying is wrong – this is almost always just a feeble attempt to prove that they haven’t made a mistake.  As for said expert often, who am I kidding, mostly, it turns out that they’ve either done a bit of DIY or they’re a joiner when the problem would be, for example, brickwork related, or worse still related to making the windows which is like a taxi driver saying that he’s an expert in assembling radios.  I’m a glass cutter by profession, I know next to nothing about making Murano glass vases so I wouldn’t try to tell a glass blower how to suck eggs, if you see what I mean.

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Psychology, Society, Tech

Anglicise This

Map Showing UK

Map

The internet is a global community and a place where, through ordinary communication, we can learn about other cultures.

However, I have noticed a subtle trend in where articles republished to a localised blog (say from MyTechBlog US to MyTechBlog UK) with all references to dollars, potato chips, inches and Walmart being altered to pounds, crisps, centimetres and Asda are guaranteed to receive comments along the lines of “for goodness sake chaps, can’t you anglicise this a tad”, or words to that effect.  If however this is done to an article written by an American living in New York, talking about a new product and suddenly uses English terms it can jar a little and in some ways seems false, like watching a film where the lead characters words have been dubbed badly, but only on every tenth word.  “I’m off to the pub on 25th Avenue to watch the game and have a steak and a pint” – I know there are pubs in the US and they serve pints but we know the generally accepted terms are bar and beer – how do I know this, I watch American TV shows where Americans use American English.

I’ll admit that sometimes you have to edit for regional sensibilities and to avoid offence (the word fanny comes to mind) but even a brief explanation “I put it under the grill (or broiler)” works.  Of course if a really obscure word crops up, we do have this wonderful thing called the internet on which you can find an explanation – I even recently found a guidebook for London that contained a handy US-UK translation section in the back containing such items as “First Floor = Second Floor” “Jumper = Sweater” “Gob = Mouth” and “Pissed = Drunk” oh and “Bit of Alright = Attractive (of girls)”.

I’d be a hypocrite if I didn’t admit that it does niggle (slightly annoy) me when people in this country replace perfectly adequate words we have used happily for years with specifically American alternatives such as saying “going on vacation” rather than “going on holiday” but we have also adopted many useful Americanisms and anyway it is a two-way street as our US friends now have to contend with their word for crisps now appearing over there in Fish ‘n Chips which should surely be Fish ‘n Fries?

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creativity, Productivity, Psychology, Society, Uncategorized

Enjoy The Silence

Sunset over the Trent (© Andy Vickers)

Sunset over the Trent (© Andy Vickers)

I’ve just spent an hour doing something magical that everyone should try – nothing. I’ve just sat in silence with a cup of tea and watched the sunset without the modern nagging, guilty feeling that I should be doing something else, and without defaulting to the usual time-filler of watching something on TV or idly clicking around on the internet. In that time I let my mind wander, I thought through something that I needed to sort out in my mind, I just didn’t try to guide my thoughts too much.

Decades ago it was said that automation would give people more leisure time and they’d be able to relax more and be happier. Now though even at home we feel we must be doing something; if it’s not cleaning or cooking it’s watching the latest must-watch TV series, or catching up with Facebook or Twitter, or blogging (ahem), even holidays or days out have to be awesome experiences.  When you’re not working you should be socializing or partying or at least telling everyone who you’re not with what you’re doing via social media – if TV ads are to be believed.

Creativity and relaxation are enhanced by not having distractions so taking some time out has many benefits. Time is precious and sometimes doing nothing isn’t wasting time, doing something, anything, for the sake of it however, is.

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