Tired of ads? Upgrade to paid account and never see ads again!
entries friends calendar profile Previous Previous
It's amazing how fiction can help you see things that you've forgotten. One of the webcomics I read is Think Before You Think. It follows the lives and loves of a group of people centred around Brian, who just happens to be a mind reader. In Monday's episode, a depressed young woman waits for Brian to talk to her. One of the other readers commented that it's amazing how a wait is a major issue when one is down but just an opportunity to relax when one is feeling positive.

That comment reminded me of Richard Wiseman's studies on luck.[1] I posted a reply mentioning that but my curiosity had been aroused. Amazon's Look Inside feature hit me with another revelation!

If you look at the book there's a questionnaire to check your "luck profile". The first one is "I sometimes chat to strangers when queuing in a supermarket or bank". I remember that I used to be like that! Sometimes I still am. Somewhere along the lines I lost sight of my youthful optimism.

I was thinking of buying it for a friend because I have a feeling she would like it. After all her blog is optimistic. Maybe I should I buy myself a copy? Maybe, because I was once an optimist, I am drawn to optimists?

[1] I first heard about the study in an interview he gave on Radio 4's Start the Week. In it that interview he talked about how he asked "lucky" and "unlucky" people how thought they would react if they were caught up in a bank robbery. The people who see themselves as lucky could see the silver lining in that situation.

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,
Current Mood: contemplative contemplative

Leave a comment
Men and soaps don't get on. It's an accepted truth. I may not watch Eastenders, Coronation Street, etc, but I did watch Dallas with my mother when I was growing up. During finals, we got to the Home and Away watching stage (I'm glad that I never got as far as Neighbours). I did follow The Archers when I was university.

So yes, I do not watch soaps but I do read them:

Candi: The lives and loves of a group of university students.
Questionable Content: The lives and loves of a group of twenty-somethings (in a world much like ours accept that AI exists).
Punch'n'Pie: The lives and loves of two women and the people they know.
Think Before You Think: How complicated life is when one of your social circle can read minds.
Tweep: The lives and loves of a group of twenty-somethings.

Chatoyant College: A group of friends discover that student life gets a little too exciting when you study at the only American college that has magic on its curriculum.

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Leave a comment
Last August an online friend posted a question. She asked if there was any Western popular music that wasn't about love or partying.

My response was that there were lots of Western pop songs that dealt with broader subjects, e.g.:

See What I'm Saying by Powder
Greatest Love of All (this is the Whitney Houston version)
You Are The Voice by John Farnham
Saltwater by Julian Lennon
Wind of Change by The Scorpions
We Don't Need Another Hero by Tina Turner
Moonlight Shadow by Mike Oldfield
The Living Years by Mike & The Mechanics
Another Day in Paradise by Phil Collins
Runaway Train by Soul Asylum
Somthing Inside So Strong by Labi Siffre
Ebony and Ivory by Paul McCartney and Steview Wonder
99 Red Balloons by Nena
Land of Confusion by Genesis
Burning Heart by Survivor
Private Dancer by Tina Turner
Bad Day by REM
Jesus He Knows Me by Genesis
Wreck of the Old 97 (Seekers version)
Don't Like Mondays by The Boomtown Rats

After that I realised that there songs like:
Go West by The Pet Shop Boys
Seven Seconds by Youssou N'Dour featuring Neneh Cherry

Today I looked up an old song:
The Way It Is by Bruce Hornsby and The Range
and realised it would have been appropriate.

Looking at that list, the above songs, there's nothing modern in there. Is modern pop devoid of social commentary?[1] Or is it just that I'm not listening to new music as much as I used that I don't notice it?

[1] I'm not counting rap or hip hop because I find them too tuneless to count as music. Yes, I know, I'm old.

Tags: , , , ,
Current Mood: thoughtful thoughtful

2 comments or Leave a comment
The knitting didn't work out. I couldn't keep the tension in the yarn. On the good news side, I found a job. I've been busy with that.

I've also been taking a Creative Writing class in the evenings. I've been invited to write a column for a magazine at work.

I recently bought something to help me write Sci-fi/Fantasy stories. I've also got a new computer.

Tags: , , , , , , ,

Leave a comment
I recently became interested in knitting. After all it appears in so many stories (not just webcomics like The Knit Princess. After I got into it, I was given the link to Ravelry. Ravelry is a social network whose purpose is to cater to people who enjoy knitting and/or crochet.

Finally, a social network that respects the privacy of its members. After the privacy scandals of Facebook and Google (two companies who break European data protection laws and treat members' data as their own personal resource).

It's hard to be 100% certain but the way that Ravelry is set up does fills me with confidence that they privacy seriously:

The privacy policy comes across as strong. I was still wary as I remember[1] reading about a Massachusetts court case a few years back where the judge said, in essence, that it doesn't matter what the privacy policy says, once you hand over your data it becomes the property of the organisation concerned.[2] It didn't help that Ravelry is based in Massachusetts.

I quickly did a search for articles about Ravelry. There wasn't much but I did get the impression from one comment that they may take privacy seriously.

I decided to take the risk and gave them my e-mail address. When I got to the account management page I was pleasantly surprised. Everything is set up to respect users' privacy. Unlike FB, Google, et al, you don't even need to give Ravelry your name. There's a box for first name but that's completely optional (as is any other piece of personal data). There are warnings in the house rules that members should respect other members' privacy.

From what I've seen, the other users come across as friendly. I now feel more enthused about my new hobby.

In short Ravelry is set up the way social networks should be set up.

[1] I admit my memory may be wrong on this.
[2] As opposed to the European approach, which is that your data remains yours so it's up to organisations to respect that.

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , ,
Current Mood: excited excited

Leave a comment
I did not fully realise how much my iPod meant to me until it died a few weeks ago. I used my iPod to listen to podcasts. If I wanted to listen to the news from Canada, or a media show from New Zealand, it was easy -- a few clicks of my mouse and it was added to a playlist I created for podcasts. I could keep up with the news as I shopped, did housework or travelled.

Now, I'm restricted to using a normal radio (it's an old mobile phone that happens to have a radio built in), which means that I'm restricted to the stations that are broadcast over the air in my region. Furthermore, it's not time shifted so I have to listen at the time the programme is broadcast. Another problem is that it's not always possible to get a signal (for example: in most shops and whilst underground).

I did think of listening to podcasts at my computer but that did not sit well with me. Whilst I'm at the computer, I tend to be busy doing things and, most of the times that I feel ready for something to listen to, the last place I want to be is next to the computer.

It's amazing how technology moves on and how we come to depend on new innovations. Before I received my iPod I considered radio, with all its restrictions, normal. However, now that I have enjoyed podcasts for over 5 years, radio feels antiquated.

I have found new things to listen to but I now feel that I do not have the same easy access to a breadth of information that I had before.

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , ,
Current Mood: contemplative contemplative

Leave a comment
Do you keep to your New Year's Resolutions throughout the year?

Lots of people don't and, to tell the truth, I didn't until a few years ago.

The standard advice is that you have to have a specific, measurable goal to stick to. For example, the experts say that if exercise is your goal then you should make a resolution along the lines of "I will go to the gym twice a week". However, for me, that didn't work. The reason being that if I got into a situation where I just didn't have the energy to go to the gym/exercise for a couple of weeks then I had failed. I could try to catch up but, if then I found it too tiring to try and maintain a higher schedule and, in the end, I gave up.

Nowadays, my resolutions for health are:

1. On average, I will exercise more than I did last year.
2. On average, I will eat more healthily than I did last year.

For some people that is too "woolly" and not strict enough to be motivating. For me, however, that is very motivating. It allows for the fact that I am going to have off days and weeks, and that I'm not always going to do what I know I should do. However, it means that, for most of the time, there's a chance of recovering and the knowledge that I could still succeed is motivating for me.

Nowadays, I look forward to going to the gym, I don't like the taste of junk food any more and I love having fruit when I want a snack.

Obviously my approach won't work for everyone and there's a reason why the experts advise what they advise. Take the time to work out what is motivating for you.

{edited to correct spelling mistakes}

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , ,
Current Mood: thoughtful thoughtful

Leave a comment
At the end of May Julie and I split up. However, I'm going to wait until next year before I start looking as it'd be too tempting to enter a relationship on the rebound.

My job came to an end a few days later so I'm now looking for a job.
Leave a comment
In a forum that I frequent, I just saw an advert for the No to AV campaign. It stated:

"Help us wipe the smile off Nick Clegg's face"

That, for me, argued against the "No" campaign because:

1. Negative advertising is usually a sign that the advertiser's arguments are weak.
2. That goes double for advertising that gets personal.

Tags: , , ,
Current Mood: cynical cynical

Leave a comment
Next Thursday (those with postal ballots should have already received them) a referendum will be held on changing the voting system to the Alternative Vote system.

Here are the arguments For (as PDF file) and Against.

More arguments on both sides here.

What did I decide?

The No campaign seems to have shot itself in the foot:

Their first argument is that it would cost more. Yes, democracy costs money. If your biggest argument is the cost then you obviously put Finance above Democracy. Hey, I can think of a way of saving money on elections -- don't have them! Cost is not a valid argument in my book. If it's your main argument then I have to wonder about any that follow.

Secondly, that argument includes costs of electronic voting machines. Hang on, as far as I was aware only the system of voting was changing.

Thirdly, they say that it would lead to more hung parliaments. My answer to that is that lots of voting systems lead to hung parliaments -- in fact they are the norm. What's wrong with that? However, an acedemic who has investigated the issue begs to differ.

On the face of it the "Yes" campaign, does have better arguments:

The thought that you don't have to make a choice between voting for the party you want and tactical voting, is appealing.

The thought that votes are prioritised is also appealing and the argument that parties with minority appeal are less likely to get in.

However, the same interview that proves that AV would not necessarily lead to more hung parliaments did, for me, argue against AV. The thought of parties I don't want in having bigger majorities is annoying.

It was something said by a politician in a different country that helped me make up my mind. In Canada there is a general election under way. In an interview on CBC's The House, Michael Ignatieff (the Leader of the Liberal Party, currently the 2nd party in Canada) stated that a vote for the NDP (Canada's third party) was a vote for the Conservatives.

I decided that "Yes" would get my vote.

{edit on 1st May 2011}I should have made it clearer: Canada uses the First Past the Post system.

Also, if the polls are anything to go by, it looks like the NDP are going to be the 2nd party and the Liberals are going to become the 3rd.

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,
Current Mood: thoughtful thoughtful

Leave a comment