Christmas Poem

My great-aunt Rose used to recite this poem to me and my brothers every Christmas.  she claims she made this poem up herself but to say she could be quite eccentric would be an understatement.  We have lost count of how many times she has also won the lottery.

Sadly she is now suffering from Alzheimer but is still having more good days than bad.  I thought I would put this poem in a safe place as she now forgets but we must not.

It’s Christmas and it’s snowing and Santa came today.
He brought us lovely presents and then went on his way.
I’d like to meet his reindeer and see his sledge of toys
But he was in a hurry to meet other girls and boys
Perhaps he will come again next year, perhaps he will come to tea
What a lot of fun we’ll have all the kids and me!

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Tattoo Culture

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It would seem that we are at a time where having a tattoo is the norm, everywhere you look young and old are all having tattoos.

I personally do not have a tattoo and if I am honest, I really do not like them. I can never understand why you would want to have something etched in your skin for the rest of your life. Saying that I do not condemn people who choose to have them, as I realise everyone has the right to do what they wish with their own bodies.

Now before you get upset and start telling me how wrong I am, this blog post is just my opinion. I do not have any negative thoughts about people who have tattoos; in fact, most of my friends have tattoos, as do some of my family. My sister in law used to be a tattoo artist and is looking to tattoo some of my family. What I am saying is tattoos are not for me.

Tattooing is not a new thing and has been practiced for centuries, but the practice has changed over the years from an act of deviance and criminality to the current day form of expression. People have them done to express themselves and generally have meaning and for some are classed as an art form.

I find it very difficult to give an honest opinion on a tattoo if someone wants me to look at theirs; I find it difficult to get past the fact that they have permanently had an image etched into their skin. Saying that I have some friends with some stunning tattoo images.

Now before someone comments on that tattoos can be removed by laser treatment, I know! The only reason I have written this blog because a friend of mine on Facebook has decided to have two removed by laser treatment from his neck, the fact I found interesting was that he said the pain of the laser treatment was far worse than the original tattoo.

The other thing that has always baffled my about having a tattoo is the thought of having it until you get old and retire, what if your tastes and views on life change or what happens when your skin starts to wrinkle or sag? The funny thing is I worry about this, plenty of grandparents have tattoos in their later years, usually with the names of their grandchildren worry a lot less than I do!

I always find it strange that when people who get their partners name tattooed onto themselves, after only knowing them for a few weeks seem to forget they are difficult to remove. Now I know I sound like a cynic and we all fall in love and expect to be together forever, but surely having something etched onto your skin which is hard to remove is slightly mental.

I think the tattoo culture will carry on for some time, celebrities like David Beckham & Cheryl Cole have made tattoos popular, most towns have a tattoo parlour, and websites like eBay make tattoo equipment easily available, allowing artists to start tattooing from home. Of course having a tattoo done from someone’s home carries its own risks to health and quality.

The big thing I do not understand is why many people choose to cover themselves in tattoos; I really do not understand why you would want a sleeve tattoo. I might be wrong but I am not sure you can have that type of tattoo removed. I really do not like tattoos on faces and think that is a step to far.

I was doing some research for this blog and I came across an opinion that totally confused me. In the post a person was expressing his opinion and saying he could not date a girl with a tattoo, everyone has a right to his or her own opinions. I must admit there are some tattoos on women I find sexy and if a woman I was interested in had a tattoo it would not be an issue for me (unless it was he ex’s name!).

As the saying goes do not judge a book by its cover, so before you judge someone who has tattoos remember it is their choice, after all if someone has a tattoo it says nothing about their character it is the person inside that matters.

A monocle gives five minutes of fame

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Around 6 years ago my dad decided he wanted to sell Monocle eyeglasses on eBay.  Today he has 2 website that more or less support him and he still sells the odd monocle on eBay.

I can guarantee that a lot of younger readers might not have a clue what a monocle is.  Basically a monocle is a single lens eyeglass that fits in the eye socket and was generally associated with wealthy upper-class men in the 19th and early 20th centuries, however they have now returned to the fashion scene off due to the rapper Jose Vega.wearing one.

Back in February The New York times sent my dad an email explaining that they wanted to do an article about monocles and would he answer some questions.  He answered the questions but was not expecting anything to come of it but to his suppise he did get a mention and a excpert of the article is below:

“Ray Gallagher, a British seller who has been in the optical business since 1963, has seen sales at his online store The Monocle Shop double over the last five years.”

Unfortunately the article was in an American tabloid so although he did see a slight increase in sales he was very pleased to get a mention.  As many people have pointed out, it is quite an achievement to get a mention in the New York times and have his five minutes of fame!

To read the full article click here.

Are you looking to buy a monocle?  If so visit the following sites: The Monocle Shop or Budget Monocle.

A beginning, middle and an end

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Most things in life have a beginning, middle and an end, this includes life itself. In a building project it is always good to have a solid plan so you know what is happening when and the start and also the steps required to get the project finished, although in building things do not always go to plan.

In life we are uncertain when the end is so we just work day to day, although some of us do plan for the end we are still unaware of how or when the end will happen. As an example people pay for their own funerals and even decide on the music that is played.

A lot writers feel it is important to have the structure of what they want to say or the story they want to tell all mapped out before they start, which is something I struggle with. Like most people in life I have some great ideas (well I think they are) but when I start to think of how I would like to progress them I hit constant brick walls. Even with this post I have been unable to create a structure on paper as I really don’t know what I am going to put in the middle or what sort of ending I want to create.

In my working life I am a programmer so I have a very logical brain but when it comes to my writing I just like to make a start, which usually means that I begin to fizzle out half way through. Everything in my being says I should create a structure when I write, after all that seems logical, but if I was to only write when I had a solid structure with a beginning a middle and an end the chances are I would never put pen to paper or fingers to keyboard.

I was beginning to think I was doomed with my approach of write first and worry later, but last week I was sitting watching TV and Alan Titchmarsh was a guest on The One Show. He was asked how he got his ideas for his stories and if he made a plan of how the story would end. To my surprise he said he did not plan his stories but he always writes his novels with a place he loves in mind along with deciding on the main characters, and from then on he just lets the writing process take its course.

Alan’s view on writing has certainly made me feel positive about my approach but it still leaves me wondering why I tend to burn out part way through writing even the simplest blog post. Sometimes I wonder if it can be due to my lack of research or even interest on the subject I writing about, maybe my logical brain takes over and just gets in the way of creativity. Hopefully I just need to practice writing a lot more and to stop being so harsh on myself, well they do say that your worst critic is you.

I look at the amazing books that are written and sometimes wonder if the author really had the complete story mapped out from beginning to end, I suspect J.K Rowling had a plan for each book but surely somewhere there must have been chapters where she just let her imagination run wild. Could Tolkien really have had a full plan for the Lord of the Rings after writing the Hobbit?

All of this has made me wonder if the reason I run out of things to say half way through whatever I am writing (including this blog post) could be due to the essay writing I used to have to do at school. Back then you had to write a 500 word essay on the topic you had been given and you would frantically count the number of words and even pad the words out until you got over the 500 word mark. Looking at the word count of this post I ran out of things to say at roughly 580 words, maybe just a coincidence. The other concern I have about running out of things to say is if I have lost the flow of what I am writing then does it also mean the reader loses interest half way through? I suppose this is something only my reader can either confirm or deny so please feel free to comment below.

So for now all I can do is carry on writing, stop worrying and just enjoy the beginning, the middle and then end of the writing process. See what I did there?

Everyone Loves People Watching

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Let’s face it anyone who says they do not like to people watch are not really telling the truth. It can be quite fascinating watching people go about their normal lives and seeing how they interact with friends and strangers.

The urban dictionary describes people watching as “A Hobby in which you go out and watch people. The way they act, dress and talk. Like bird watching except with people.”

To say we just people watch is untrue, because unless we are in a very loud place we have to also admit that most of us will also listen in or eves drop as well. If you are like me, there are times when you get extremely engrossed in other peoples conversations to the point where you realise that the people having the conversation you are listening to have worked out you are listening.

Now do not get me wrong, there are some types of people watching that are either illegal or morally wrong. Let us take the scenario of watching the hot next door neighbour sunbathing topless in her back garden, I do not think there is a law against this sort of activity but it clearly breaks moral guidelines! Also following your ex whilst she goes about her daily business and sitting outside her house is clearly stalking and should not be confused with people watching.

Now I know I might start to sound like I purposely go out to people watch but honestly I do not, this post is due to some spare time I had this week whilst waiting for the wife’s car to be fixed. I popped into the pub for a bite to eat and just noticed the array of people coming and going from the pub. Thinking about it there must have been people watching me and wondering why this bloke is sitting there with a tablet typing away in the middle of a pub.

In the hour I was there, it was interesting to see the many things that were going on. One of the first things I noticed was a bloke standing at the bar who was clearly looking for company and a little bit drunk, instantly the adults tried to steer their young kids away from him but he was like a magnet to the kids who were enjoying the childlike attention of the drunk man. The parents were polite enough but you could see they were visibly uncomfortable with the man talking to their family and moved away from the bar as quickly as possible.

Next came two couples that were staying in the Premier Inn next door, I could tell they were staying in the hotel because they were still carrying their key cards. The first couple ordered their drinks without a hitch but the second couple had a bit of a discussion, from what I could make out the second man wanted his partner to have a glass of lemonade to keep her sugar levels up, so I presume she must have been diabetic. However, his partner clearly wanted to show she was capable of making her own decision on what she wanted to drink as she more or less told him so, in a very politely of course. The man looked a bit sheepish when he finally placed his order but I bet in their private life his partner likes his thoughtfulness but in public does not like to look like she is not in control or henpecked.

People watching in a restaurant can also be great fun. In most busy restaurants you will always notice one of the following, A couple of a nervous first date, a couple having an argument and finally a couple who are not speaking and usually look like they do not even want to be there. Mind you when I am out in a restaurant I also love to peek at what others have ordered to decide if I had made the right choice or if I would order what they were having the next time I came back to the same place.

You may also observe people with nervous tendencies whilst people watching, for instance the man sitting constantly tapping his fingers when there is no music playing or the person who introduces themselves as if you have never met them before even though you have known them for over 6 years.

The TV programme Goggle Box proves that as a nation we love to watch people watching people, if you think about it the programme is a bit of a paradox, you could create multiple programmes of people watching people watch Goggle Box and it would still be entertaining.

From birth, we are programmed to people watch without even realising. I can remember back to my time at school, if a teacher was a great teacher then they would keep you engaged by is voice and their movement and expressions, a bad teacher would lose control as he was unable to keep people watching and listening to them. It’s the way people interact that keeps life interesting and it also means that no two people are the same.

So the next time you are out and an annoying person is making a fuss or you see your rude and obnoxious boss sitting in the corner chewing on his jumper and trying not to get annoyed, sit back and enjoy the view you never know you might learn something, or at the least be entertained for a few minutes.

I have a Fear of Polystyrene cups

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My phobia can make the simple question of “would you like a drink” feel quite stressful but when I am on a clients site I am usually safe in the knowledge that they have a water fountain so I generally just ask for a glass of water and I as usually presented with what I asked for,  a glass of water in a plastic cup.
Just this week I was asked the usual question and I have the usual fool proof answer,  I broke out in a sweat when I was presented with water in a Polystyrene cup, which for me is just as bad as giving me water in a mug.
I thought I would do some research to see If I was alone with this strange fear and thankfully I came across some interesting comments which confirmed that I am not the only one with the strange fear of all things cup related, however like me there are people who have a severe phobia of polystyrene cups. Here are some of the comments:“I wanted to submit my phobia which is Styrofoam cups. Just the idea of them makes me feel sick to my stomach and weak in the knees. The texture is discussing. The first time I realized it, was when I was about 20 years old and my boyfriend (husband now) handed me a cup of bought coffee and I screamed and threw it up in the air. Nobody was hurt but until this day (around 15 years later), I have managed not to touch them. If someone hands one to me, I have to tell them that I can’t take it (which is embarrassing in many situations).”

“My friend has a huge phobia of Styrofoam, to where she has to ask for a different kind of cup because she can’t stand it (also she is afraid of popcorn because the texture and sound are similar to Styrofoam)”.

The reactions above to polystyrene cups are similar to my feelings when presented with one of these cups. I look at a polystyrene cup and think that they never look very clean or hygienic. On the rare occasion I have drank from one whatever in them taste horrible and dusty. Usually I can drink water and cold things from vending machine cups but these days if anyone passes me a cold drink (even beer) in a polystyrene cup I simply refuse.

Putting my cup issues to one side there are a lot of recycling issues regarding polystyrene and the impact it has on the planet.

A common misconception is also that that when wet, polystyrene releases ozone depleting chemicals; however, the truth is that polystyrene production does not use CFCs, and have no effect on the ozone. However recycling them is another issue. For all of the facts about polystyrene cups click here.

With all of that said I will never be able to bring myself to drink from a polystyrene cup and it puts me at ease to know that I am not the only one.

Flappy Bird – A moment of reflection

measure successIt’s quick to judge and like a lot of people I used to believe that the grass was greener on the other side of the fence.  I looked at people with big houses and flashy cars and always thought I would like to have what they have.

We all dream of being noticed and becoming successful, we may even measure our success against financial gains.  today was very interesting to hear about someone who followed their ideas through, became successful and then gave it all up because it took over his life and just became too stressful.

The creator of the latest mobile phone game sensation “Flappy Bird” has removed the game from the internet.  Dong Nguyen said it was ruining his life.  He was reportedly earning £30k a day from downloads and the game has been downloaded over 50 million times.  Dong is reported to agree that the game was a great success in his life but it has ruined his simple existence.  Strangely though he has said he may make a sequel which seems to contradict his reason for removing the game in the first place.

This is quite interesting to me because the older I get the simpler I want my life to be and I can now say that I do not want to become be overly successful for the exact reason I want a good balance between work and family life.  Dong clearly measures success by his state of mind and well-being and I have a lot of respect for that.  Some people may be thinking he has cut and run but again that is his choice and the route he has taken to secure his happiness.

I am not afraid to work hard but these days I am looking at the bigger picture.  I am no longer someone looking over at other people’s lives and thinking I would like to be in their shoes.  I always wondered what it would be like to be an internet sensation, for this blog to take off and for people to want to read what I have to say, although I do smile when people like my latest post or comment.

In my business life I measure how well I am doing by how much money I am earning although I know I have to earn enough to live, instead I like to feel like I am making a difference to people working life and like the software I develop.

I think it is human nature to want to succeed and to feel like you are providing and that is what keeps us all going but for me I like to keep my feet firmly on the ground and look up at the stars rather than try and reach for them.

For now with my writing and blogging I feel like I am a moving forwards and slowly getting better at it, although I was not say I am a success but I am beginning to find more time to write and enjoying it more