Weekend Reading

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  • We Aren’t Built to Live in the Moment
    We are misnamed. We call ourselves Homo sapiens, the “wise man,” but that’s more of a boast than a description.
    What is now? When is then? Etc etc. A notable addition to my recent post.

  • How Mountain Biking Is Saving Small-Town
    From Nevada to Minnesota, hollowed-out mining towns are seeing economic revitalization on trails and tracks that attract mountain bikers from far and wide Photo: Nearly 50 years ago, the iron mining companies that were once the backbone of Crosby.
    And the world evolves.

  • Pet Project
    The semester is almost over and the rain is only supposed to hold off for a couple more hours, but a group of Campbell University golf management majors are stuck in Principles of Marketing instead of out on the course.
    File under “Only on the internet”, also “DOGGIES”!

  • If Raw Fruits Or Veggies Give You A Tingly Mouth, It’s A Real Syndrome
    If you have ever noticed an itchy or tingly sensation in your mouth after biting into a raw apple, carrot, banana or any of the fruits and veggies listed here, read on. People who are allergic to pollen are accustomed to runny eyes and sniffles this time of year.
    Touch wood, but I don’t have any allergies, other than a dislike of bell peppers … which might be an allergy as it turns out.

  • ISIS Has A Strategy To Create A Media Frenzy And News Outlets Are Struggling To Disrupt It
    It’s 2017, and the world is shaken by another depraved mass murder, carried out and claimed in the name of ISIS. This time, it is children who are targeted.
    Amidst more horrific news I read this article. We ALL need to change our behaviours in the aftermath of these things, we are feeding the fire, even though we don’t always realise it.

  • Roger Moore Was the Best Bond Because He Was the Gen X Bond
    I heard about Roger Moore’s death during a walk in Brooklyn on Tuesday morning, when a young father looked up from his phone and said, “The worst James Bond ever just died.
    A colleague of mine always insisted Moore was the best bond. Maybe he was right?

  • Forgotten Women Writers: A Reading List
    For every Edith Wharton and Jane Austen, there are numerous women writers whose works aren’t found in the typical literary canon or school-required reading list.
    I don’t usually pay attention to the gender (or race or any other ‘category’) of authors, but good to get a steer to spread my horizons a little more.

  • What If We Cultivated Our Ugliness? or: The Monstrous Beauty of Medusa
    This is Role Monsters, a series on monstrous female archetypes by Jess Zimmerman. Myth and folklore teem with frightening women: man-seducers and baby-stealers, menacing witches and avenging spirits, rapacious bird-women and all-devouring forces of nature.
    The relentless pressure on women, once you are aware of it, is horrific and far uglier than any person.

  • Mossberg: The Disappearing Computer
    Welcome to Mossberg, a weekly commentary and reviews column on The Verge and Recode by veteran tech journalist Walt Mossberg, executive editor at The Verge and editor at large of Recode. This is my last weekly column for The Verge and Recode — the last weekly column I plan to write anywhere.
    Final column from Walt. Looking forward to Ambient Computing being a reality, right now it’s a fuckin shambles!

  • The Curious Case of the Disappearing Nuts
    At 11:22 a.m. on Thursday, June 20, 2013, an orange Freightliner tractor-trailer arrived at Crain Walnut Shelling in Los Molinos, California. The truck’s driver, a man in his mid-thirties wearing a gray T-shirt, introduced himself as Alex Hernandez.
    Everything is big business. Even nuts. (So proud I didn’t make any reference to testicles!!)

Breathe and stop

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It’s easy to get swept along by life, to grab on to things and go where the current takes you but that’s different from choosing where you want to go, even if that means you have to let go of some things and work hard to keep to your own course.

Breathe.

The above sentence is a wordy way of saying that my counselling is going well and I’m learning more about my own personal motivations, behaviours, and drivers, and that I’m working on changing the ones which are in the ‘not happy making’ camp.

Stop.

Part of that is to stop. Congratulate myself on my achievements, big or small. Some days that achievement is not putting off the hoovering again, some days that achievement is brought by losing weight in the last week, and some days it is simply the fact I existed. I have my own set of rules, internalised, for how I believe (my) life should be lived, and whilst I am slowly picking them apart I’m also stepping back.

Breathe.

It probably started when I first went along to the guided meditation session. Being in that environment made the ‘pause, calm, step back and reflect’ process much easier to get to, but with some practice I’m much more able to achieve it myself these days, I just need to remember to breathe.

Stop.

Baby steps they may be, but I’m still learning more about my own triggers, about the ways I sabotage myself and how my critical self is always waiting on the wings to point out my failures, and slowly I’m finding ways to keep that voice much quieter these days.

Breathe.

On weeks like the one I’m in the midst of this week – from Monday to Sunday I have something on every day and evening – when I get tired and my ‘not happy making’ behaviours creep more and more to the forefront of my mind (for those are the behaviours I’ve been using for a LONG TIME to function in the world) it’s telling that I am much better able to cope without getting (too) stressed.

Stop.

Breathe.

Continue.

Why I am not quitting Facebook

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Sometimes when I’m writing for this blog, it feels like there is a conspiracy going on to make me think about, and write about, a particular topic. So with that in mind I will happily concede that this post was inspired by Lipstick Lori (who is writing some great stuff at the moment!) writing about How I Quit Facebook, Sort Of, my own ponderings around the question of Which Tech Giant Would You Drop?, and this piece by Jason Kottke (uber-blogger) My Social Media Fast.

It’s a slow pull, a subtle trick. It starts with a brief desire and is soon a constant drain. They know what they are doing, they’ve spent a long time designing it to be this way, to game you, to manipulate you, and as it gets larger and larger so it becomes harder and harder to fight.

My Facebook account currently gets the most usage of all my social media accounts. Granted a lot of the things I post are pushed from Instagram, but more and more I will share things into my timeline from elsewhere on Facebook, trapped in the bubble. I find myself idlly scrolling through post after post after post, hardly pausing to digest, a stream of stuff that amuses, annoys, adds to the FOMO, or makes me smile.

I do not like the amount of time I spend using Facebook.

I have books I want to read, TV shows I want to watch, and on sunny days I want to disconnect and enjoying being alive and being present with myself.

I did manage to wean myself off Facebook pretty well a while ago, right up until my niece was born; my sister posts pictures and videos of her almost every day, and oh my heavens she is as cute as a button and fills my heart with joy and love and that gorgeous little thing was the gateway, the lure back into the Facebook universe. I tried to tell myself I was only gonna check it to see if there was anything about her, you know just a little bit now and then, and then I could totally give it up later. Yes, that’s right, I’m blaming my Facebook addiction on my 1 year old niece, what of it!

I have tried to maintain some level of discipline. I had previously uninstalled the app but it’s snuck back on to my phone now BUT – and this is an important BUT – it sits deliberately in a folder on the second screen, right next to its time-sucking sister Twitterific. The thinking was that would remove the urge to ‘just have a quick look’ and for the most part it’s starting to work, which is just as well.

I know what some of you might be thinking, social media is fun! So say the adverts at least, but as always there is a deeper, unadvertised, cost.

There are many meme-able acronyms that surround Facebook; but it is the Fear Of Missing Out (FOMO) being the one I most associate with it, after all it’s so obvious that everyone ELSE is leading lives far richer than mine and whilst seeing people I care about having a good time is totally awesome and happy making, it can be not to compare and contrast; my lonely sofa to the photos of an afternoon out, all laughter and spilled drinks. And there’s the rub, the mixture of joy and sadness, happiness and melancholy.

And yes, I am well aware that social media is a but a filter, and the most people post the best of themselves, not the worst, but having that knowledge and sensibly processing that knowledge are two very different things. And that’s before you consider that I do this as well, contributing to the very problem I’m trying to avoid. Ironic, isn’t it? (shut up Alanis).

I honestly do love reading, seeing, and hearing, the wonderful things my friends and acquaintances get up to. You lot (I’m presuming, dear reader, that we are connected on some platform or another) are wonderful, quirky, funny, thought provoking, attractive, heart warming, caring and just down right good peoples. But, as Lori points out, that comes at an emotional cost. It’s not always a negative sum game, but emotions need to be processed regardless and it can be tiring.

I’m not completely away from Facebook or Twitter, but it feels more manageable. Instagram remains front and centre though, as I find it so much easier to scroll photos than dodge the diatribes, crap adverts, and all the other noise that Facebook adds.

The flipside to all of this, for there is always a flipside, is that I will have fewer chances to see things that others post. Fewer chances to like or comment on their achievements, fewer chances to laugh with them (or at them if the moment warrants). And to all those people I wanted to echo the sentiment of a wonderful message I recently received (the irony (again!) of having received this message on yet another social platform is not lost on me).

I enjoy seeing what you post, and I see you around on various social media channels. I may not like or comment as often but I see you, and I care about you.*

There is joy to be found in social media, and for me that joy and delight has been found in the connections it has allowed me to make, I have met people I genuinely call friends (for they are not acquaintances) thanks to social media, and there is no doubt that it’s very useful for keeping in touch, however remotely, with many people.

For those connections, those new friendships that I wouldn’t have made any other way, I will always be grateful to social media (ht: this blog of mine which started it all for me) and I can’t see a time when some form of social media or another won’t have a place in my life. It’s just not on my homescreen.

* the person who sent this knows, but wanted to call this out again, it was a simple message that had a big impact on me, and gave me something to strive for in my interactions with others, to make them meaningful, not just another LIKE.

Weekend Reading

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Two notes on today’s post.

  1. I’m finding it harder to wade through my usual sources and avoid the T word. Especially this past week. It’s depressing stuff and shows no sign of abating.
  2. I tend to leave the order of the links in these posts unaltered. They are presented as I discovered, oldest to latest. But the news about Chris Cornell hit me really hard, largely because grunge was the ‘music moment’ I identified with growing up.
  • Chris Cornell Was a Rock Star for the Ages
    Chris Cornell, frontman for Soundgarden and Audioslave, died Wednesday night in Detroit, a few hours after a Soundgarden show. He was 52. He died by suicide, a medical examiner determined. Cornell was one of the giants of his time. You knew it from the first time you laid ears or eyes on him.

    See also: Chris Cornell: 8 Great Acoustic Covers
    A sad loss, one of THE great rock voices.

  • Pilgrim at Tinder Creek
    In 2013 I found myself simultaneously single and on the academic job market for the first time. I was thirty, several years into graduate school and at work on a dissertation about nineteenth-century poetry and pleasure. Literary studies, my dissertation argued, was blighted at its core.
    Imagine being a time traveller, coming from the distant past of 1990 and reading this.

  • A Time to Kill iTunes
    Okay, so the quote above isn’t actually a quote. Well, I said it on Twitter, but it’s not a famous quote. Nor does it technically make sense. But it is, of course, a play on a famous quote. It was and remains a great line. But times have also changed.
    WWDC in June, no rumours but I struggle to believe that this isn’t on a ‘list’ of things Apple know they need to sort out. Right?

  • How Pixar Lost Its Way
    For 15 years, the animation studio was the best on the planet. Then Disney bought it. A well-regarded Hollywood insider recently suggested that sequels can represent “a sort of creative bankruptcy.”
    Inevitable? Reversable? The early Pixar movies will remain some of my favourite movies, but Toy Story 4 just ‘feels’ wrong.

  • The Amazing Dinosaur Found (Accidentally) by Miners in Canada
    Clearly more fake news.

  • ‘Fat but fit is a big fat myth’
    The idea that people can be fat but medically fit is a myth, say experts speaking in Portugal. Their early work, as yet unpublished, involved looking at the GP records of 3.5 million people in the UK.
    Don’t worry, in August there will be an article from experts saying that bacon is better for you than lettuce.
  • Why Did a Chinese Peroxide Company Pay $1 Billion for a Talking Cat?
    Inside the strange courtship between industrial behemoths and Western video game studios. Samo and Iza Login were Slovenian high school sweethearts who studied computer science in college and then decided, in 2009, to get into the business of apps.
    One more step towards MegaCorp!

  • Dutch king reveals double life as an airline pilot for KLM
    For 21 years, King Willem-Alexander has taken to the skies twice a month to ferry passengers around on short-haul services for the Dutch airline KLM.
    Yay for the Dutch. No doubt if this had happened in the UK it’d be Prince Phillip and we all know how well THAT would go…

  • Two candy giants have spent years in court fighting over the shape of Kit Kat bars
    Two of the planet’s largest food companies have been locked in a bitter, multinational, decade-long legal saga over the shape of a chocolate bar. At stake is whether Kit Kat’s “four-finger” shape is distinctive enough to be protected by trademark. And the fight may be reaching its climax.
    I had no idea!

  • The Petticoat Rebellion of 1916
    Please warmly welcome our newest contributor, Jennifer Colton-Jones. On a December morning in 1916, the polls opened in the small town of Umatilla, Oregon, for a municipal election. As the day stretched on, the town’s men drifted in and out, casting a ballot here or there.
    Food for thought for the upcoming General Election? There must be some loophole somewhere that would let this happen, right?

  • Comic Papyrus, A Complete Font Designed as a Mashup of Papyrus and Comic Sans
    Graphic designer Ben Harman combined the two generally loathed typefaces Papyrus and Comic Sans into the font Comic Papyrus. We previously featured the same concept from Barth and Co, but Harman has made the complete font, including a special character set, available for purchase for $5.
    I feel sorry for Ben. Clearly has some weird death wish.

Six by Nico: Childhood

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Six weeks have past, and it’s time for a new menu at Six by Nico!

They announced this menu the same night we visited last time, and after such a stellar start I was keen to get back but a little nervous in case it wasn’t quite up to the same standard. Mind you, it’s tricky to judge a restaurant when they’ve changed their menu, although I’m still not sure if I was being overly critical or more lenient given that the entire premise of Six by Nico is to do just that, regularly change their menu. This is their idea, but would it measure up to our previous visit?

While the menu hints at what was to come, on this second visit I at least knew that it would be the cooking, presentation, and overall execution of what is on offer that would make, or break, the evening.

Six by Nico: Childhood. Done. Delicious. Trout the stand out dish (aka fish finger)

A post shared by Gordon McLean (@gmclean) on

And yes, this ice cream lover was excited to see TWO ice cream dishes on offer!! (sort of).

  1. ICE CREAM ~ Chicken liver parfait / Spiced pear/ Ginger bread
  2. EGG & SOLDIERS ~ Smoked haddock / Asparagus / Confit yolk
  3. FISH FINGER ~ Sea Trout / Sesame / Avocado / Radish
  4. MAC & CHEESE ~ Summer truffle / Sprouting brocolli / Glazed chicken wing
  5. HAMBURGER ~ Pork cheek / Brioche / Charred gem / Burnt onion jus
  6. VIENNETTA ~ White chocolate parfait / Rhubarb / “Pick n Mix” toppings

Ohhh and it was good, very good on the whole but we all agreed it didn’t quite hit the same heights as the previous visit. I’d still recommend it

As well as the six courses there is also the option for a ‘snack’ starter which obviously we took. It included truffled popcorn, a chicken nugget, and beans on toast. Not a fan of popcorn, and the beans on toast was ok but the start of that plate was the single chicken nugget made from tender chicken thighs (I think) with a lovely spicy tomato sauce. On reflection this set the tone for the meal, it was all tasty enough but I wasn’t WOW’d by some of the courses.

The first course was definitely a hit. Arriving in a thin pastry cone, smooth whipped chicken liver parfait was complimented by a thin smear of spiced pear, just enough to cut through the rich creamy parfait. And then in the first little moment of ‘ohhhh that is clever’ the bottom of the cone has crumbs of ginger bread, instantly transporting me back to those childhood cones when the bottom is nothing but wafer. Clever and delicious.

The next course arrived in a little toy soldier egg cup, with a little spoon attached. A whispy foam flecked with smoked haddock and crumbs of confit yolk was our egg, with accompanying asparagus ‘soldiers’ . The egg was wonderful, each mouthful revealing different flavours and textures, and whilst the asparagus was perfectly cooked, the dish felt a little disjointed. Should we ‘dip’ the asparagus (which was cut into small bite sized pieces) and where did the little side salad fit? Wonderful ingredients, great cooking and presentation but a not quite as ‘fun’ as it purported to be.

Fish finger time! And this, for me, was the stand out dish. Marinated sea trout covered in mixed sesame seeds, on a bed of brown quinoa, with an avocado puree, radish slices and wonderfully sweet pickled onions. The sweet sour combination was perfect, the sea trout was wonderfully fresh, and whilst the quinoa was a little out of place, the entire dish was perfectly executed. Heaven!!

Who doesn’t love Mac and Cheese? I’ll be honest, I enjoy it but it’s never my first choice so I was hoping to be swayed! The Mac and Cheese portion of the dish, two small cubes worth, was delicious and perfectly unctuous and cheesy, the glazed chicken wing pieces were tasty as well, the bbq sauce helping pull the two components together. The broccoli and pea puree helped keep it fresh and light but it didn’t have quite the range of flavours to keep my tastebuds guessing.

It’s just as well the portions are small because next up was a hamburger! Made from pork cheek, topped with cheddar, on a circle of brioche with celeriac coleslaw and charred gem (and a sneaky bit of tomato too!) it looked very tasty, and the hamburger itself certainly hit the mark with the tender, almost pulled, pork cheek that melted in the mouth. Alas the burnt onion jus didn’t really have enough oomph to join the party, and the celeriac coleslaw was… well if they hadn’t told me it was celeriac would I have know? Probably the weakest dish of the night then (but that pork cheek though!).

As a dessert and ice cream fiend, I was excited to see what they did with a Viennetta and I was not disappointed. Definitely an ‘in the spirit of’ style dish, the white chocolate parfait was accompanied by a wonderfully sharp passion fruit foam, a thin slice of meringue textured white chocolate, and a hidden surprise underneath, little chunks of what tasted like the inside of a mint Aero! I think with out the surprise element this may have been a little sweet and cloying but the hit of mint really made it sing.

Overall six great plates of food, and whilst it fell slightly short, it was still worth every penny (and yes we are booked up again for the next menu, which has yet to be announced).

There is something giddily thrilling about dining like this. You don’t get to choose from a menu, so you are never quite sure what will arrive and whilst that can mean that some of the dishes aren’t quite to your own tastes, it is still a wonderful adventure!

My First Kiss

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The names have been changed to protect the innocent

I was eleven when I had my first kiss. Eleven going on eight, as all boys are at that age, our childishness thrown into stark relief against the maturity of the girls in our class. Eleven going on sixteen as we faked our way to maturity.

There were a few of us who lived in the same area, played together in the streets and parks, visited parental homes on sunny holidays in a carefully coordinated route to get the most bang for our (invisible) buck. Some evenings we used to sneak into the local football ground through a gap in the fence. If you were careful, and avoided Dick the groundsman on his final rounds, you could get into the old stands. Long since bulldozed to the ground, even then it was a flaking concrete and rusted iron affair but we liked it cos you could swing or sit up on one of the bars. No seats were available back then (why do you think they called it a ‘stand’?) but it was a place to hang out.

Somewhere along the line, things started to change as we made invisible transistion from friends to boyfriends and girlfriends. Crushes were formed and lost, and getting off with someone was all part of the formative ritual soon captured in playground conversations.

“Have you got off with her yet?”
“Aye of course”, we all lied.

There was a hierarchy at play back then, an unspoken categorisation of the popular and not so popular and so it followed that the most popular boys and girls paired off, and the rest of us followed in their wake, frantically trying to catch up and ride the tailcoats of their burgeoning puberty.

And so it was that our little group found ourselves lined up at the back of that ramshackle old football stand, dusk slowly falling as we paired off. Alison and I stood facing each other. I can remember feeling nervous, feeling unsure, what if I did it wrong? And then she leaned towards me, eyes half-closed, and I followed her lead. Our lips met, our bodies touched as we moved closer. Weird butterflies in my stomach and some other stirrings further down kicked in.

The kissing style back then was a full on ‘this is how we saw it in a movie’ style, open mouthed affair. We had all heard tales of lockjaw, such was the longetivity and ferocity as we mouthed each other for what felt like hours on end. It was not romantic. Or subtle.

But ohhhh my god it was fun.

After that we were, kind of, tentatively, ‘going out’ purely because that way you always had someone to get off with when, inevitably, the sychronised moment arrived and we stopped talking and started kissing.

Playground conversations around that time veered between football, and teachers, and then snippets of conversation of ‘slipping the hand’ started to emerge. For the last few months of Primary School it seemed to descend into a free for all, almost as if we all realised that Secondary School was approaching and that was our last chance to claim innocence. Everyone was getting off with everyone else, especially when it came to birthday parties.

We didn’t have parties though, we had record nights. They were, literally, where you’d take your records (vinyl LPs and singles) to the party and take turns playing them. There would be the usual pre-teenage moments, those who were paired off could be easily spotted, with girls awkwardly sitting on boys laps, as we all waited for spin the bottle. Two circles were formed, two bottles spun and the chosen girl and boy pushed into a cupboard together with strict instructions that they had to get off with each other, no matter what.

These memories are blurry now, the crushes long gone and unrealised, but fond reminders of a happy time.

Weekend Reading

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  • The ‘Shazam’ For Plants Will Identify Any Plant From A Picture
    An estimated 400,000 flowering plant species exist in the world, and, understandably, it can be difficult to keep track. The vast majority of us can only recognize and name a handful of plants, even if we would like it to be otherwise.
    This’ll be one of those apps I forget about until I need. And by then I’ll already have asked my mate Graeme…

  • Strong language: swearing makes you stronger, psychologists confirm
    It isn’t big and it isn’t clever. But the benefits, known to anyone who has moved home, climbed a mountain, or pushed a broken-down car, have finally been confirmed: according to psychologists, swearing makes you stronger.
    Bet you are expecting me to do a swear here.

  • What it’s like to have a surprise dinner with Mark Zuckerberg
    About two weeks ago, Daniel Moore received a cryptic phone call. “I thought it was a prank phone call,” Moore told Business Insider during a recent interview. “I almost hung up.”
    Fuckin Zuckerberg huh…

  • We’ve Got a Mediocre White Guy in Charge: So Now What?
    This weekend, a group of us stood in line in our requested “cocktail” attire, and waited in line to be checked in to the “Not the White House Correspondents’ Dinner,” the brain child of Full Frontal host Samantha Bee and her Executive Producer/Show runner Jo Miller.
    More of this please. (nb. Trump related, indirectly)

  • Sorting 2 Metric Tons of Lego · Jacques Mattheij
    One of my uncles cursed me with the LEGO bug, when I was 6 he gave me his collection because he was going to university. My uncle and I are relatively close in age, my dad was the eldest of 8 children and he is the youngest.
    I really hope he’s patented that. Genius level geekery.

  • The great British Brexit robbery: how our democracy was hijacked
    “It’s not MI6’s job to warn of internal threats. It was a very strange speech.”
    REMEMBER TO VOTE!

  • Doughnuts Are on a Global Rampage, and They Must Be Stopped
    Donuts, you have gone too far. Not long ago, we were your biggest champions. We cheered when you evolved into the scrumptious, flakey cronut, and when you multiplied up and down the West Coast through the Blue Star chain, which brought slick, beautiful rings from Portland, Ore.
    Nice double spelling there… also, yes, doughnuts have gone too far. Also, Krispy Kreme? Meh!

  • Why Everything We Know About Salt May Be Wrong
    The salt equation taught to doctors for more than 200 years is not hard to understand. The body relies on this essential mineral for a variety of functions, including blood pressure and the transmission of nerve impulses. Sodium levels in the blood must be carefully maintained.
    In other news, salt will cool down hot food (or so I used to believe when I was 6)

  • Why Would Aliens Even Bother with Earth?
    As an astrobiologist I spend a lot of my time working in the lab with samples from some of the most extreme places on Earth, investigating how life might survive on other worlds in our solar system and what signs of their existence we could detect.
    Screw the science, if they’ve half a brain they’ll shoot straight past us, I have my towel ready!

  • The Lost Art of Getting Lost
    I have two pieces of major travel cred, neither particularly deserved.
    Guess what I’m doing this weekend!

  • My Weekend at a Conference for the Super-Happy
    The inaugural World Happiness Summit in Miami, Florida, convened in mid-March inside the Ice Palace Film Studios, a 1923 fortresslike building surrounded by high hedges and palm trees. Its white walls seemed to glow under the sun.
    I really want to think this is awesome. Super awesome. But….

  • This Is What Channing Tatum Wants His Daughter to Grow Up to Do
    In honor of the launch of Magic Mike Live in Las Vegas, my friends at Cosmo generously invited me to write something for you. The more I thought about this, the more I thought about my daughter reading this article someday.
    Advice for all young women. Great stuff. (I’ll post the rebuttal article that says this is shit, next week!)

  • The Illustrated Guide to the KonMari Method
    Here in the states, minimalism isn’t exactly a point of pride (we like stuff, and lots of it), so it’s especially remarkable that Japanese tidying expert Marie Kondo’s brutally strict approach to de-cluttering took off here.
    Yes, I’ve tried this. Yes, I may have adopted a couple of these. Shut up. It works!

  • On Murakami’s Men Without Women, and Silent But Pervading Loneliness
    A new silent killer has been making headlines all over the world, and it’s not heart disease, carbon monoxide, or cancer. It’s loneliness. According to a 2010 study, the incidence of loneliness among adults in the United States has doubled since the 1980s, to 40 percent.
    *adds to reading list*

  • Which Tech Giant Would You Drop?
    Apple, Amazon, Facebook, Alphabet (Google).
    Facebook. Simples. Except it’s not, is it.

  • The Girls’ Soccer Team That Joined a Boys’ League, and Won It
    The ponytailed forward cut through the rain and the defense and drove a low shot past the outstretched arm of the goalkeeper. The pinpoint strike — her 38th of the season — confirmed Andrea Gómez as the top scorer for her championship team.
    These girls can! And did!

  • Is an Open Marriage a Happier Marriage?
    When Daniel and Elizabeth married in 1993, they found it was easy enough to choose a ring for her, but there were far fewer choices for him.
    Long article. tl;dr – depends (cos, people).

Bits and bobs

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AKA stuff that should probably be tweets.

The restorative powers of hanging out with a toddler should not be underestimated. Even is she is currently, essentially, a tiny drunk shouty dictator. She is also as cute as a button.

Since moving to a flat with a west facing living room window, I seem to have become a little obsessed with sunsets (as those on my Instagram can attest). This is a good thing. A gentle reminder that we are all just dots on a massive spinning ball of carbon, that every day has an end, and a new day will arrive soon enough. Calming moments.

Anyone else have/remember the shooting gallery game Magic Shot by Ideal? And when I say game, I mean hardware based, magnets and ball bearings! Peeeoowwww! (This memory was brought to you by random nostalgia).

Tattoo thoughts continue. Trying to be a little disciplined and keep to my plans (Paul Talbot gets my left thigh, for example), but a new idea and an unplanned spot to fill looks the most likely. Although tattoo care in the middle of your back is gonna be tricky!

Gorillaz are coming to Glasgow! Pricey but I’ve liked them for too long to miss it. Gig wise that’s KT Tunstall, Weezer, War on Drugs, and Gorillaz lined up. No doubt a few more to come.

I’m seeing more and more cars on the road with matt paint. I think it’s wonderful, saves me having to figure out from the brand or model if the driver is a self-obsessed twat (top tip, most of the ones I’ve seen… Audi and BMW).

Speaking of cars, I bought a new car last week. A Mazda 3. It’s blue and goes fast (and slow). Cue ALL the Baader-Meinhof moments AKA suddenly I’m seeing them everywhere.

A random message received from a friend, full of love and care, reduced me to happy tears. Reach out to those you care about, you never know what impact it might have (and if said friend reads this, again, thank you!).

Bootcamp continues. Healthy eating continues. Will soon be a thin, muscled, sweet potato. No YOU’RE having weird dreams.

Rose Royce

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Every now and then I get the notion to wash my car by hand. However as it doesn’t happen very often that equates to taking it to one of those DIY car washes with the high pressure hose and soapy brush (ohhh I do like a soapy brush!) option.

So that was how I found myself, a couple of Sundays ago, pulling into a local garage forecourt with just such a machine. My pockets were heavy with old pound coins as I aligned the car, got out and wandered round to the machine. It’s pretty straightforward, a slot for the coins and various buttons to choose but I knew what I wanted! A nice soapy brush before a damn good high pressure hosing.

OK, that sounds a little overtly sexual. It’s really not. Honest. It’s more that I find any kind of manual labour quite satisfying in that weird way that those of us who spend their day at a desk working on a computer tend to, right? Right?? Anyway, I digress.

I plonked a couple of coins in the machine and pushed the soapy brush option and spent a few minutes scrubbing away. Despite not seeing much water coming through (a blockage perhaps?) I could easily see the dirt shifting and figured I’d blast it all off with the high pressure hose anyway, that’s the fun bit!

Beep beep beep, went the machine.

I put the rather disappointingly flaccid brush back in its holder, pushed some more coins in the slot and firmly grabbed the ridged handled of the high pressure hose. It struck me that perhaps I was projecting a little as I waved it around at crotch height and, given that I was in public, maybe I should grow up and finish washing my car…

So chastened, I started to hose the car down and watched as the soap that the brush must’ve deposited on the car started to foam up. By the time the machine beeped again the car was still covered in foam, so I popped another couple of quid into the machine so I could rinse the car off properly and get that wonderful sense of satisfaction as the sun catches on freshly scrubbed rims.

Back round the car I went with the high pressure hose, but to my bemusement, the foam was not abating! What the what?!

Beep beep beep, went the machine.

Fucksticks.

I looked at the car, watched the foam drip off the wing mirrors and slide down the windscreen. I cursed the brush for its inefficiency. It didn’t reply. I cursed myself for not just taking the car through a Car Wash. I cursed the foam as it dripped onto my shoe. I did reply but only in my head.

Reaching into my pocket I pulled out the last two pound coins, popped them in the machine and reached over to push the high pressure hose button one last time.

It was only then I spotted that there were two buttons with the little high pressure hose symbol next to them, differentiated with a little symbol next to each. One was of water, the other of bubbles…

Weekend Reading

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  • To Everyone Who’s Just Barely Holding It Together
    I remember a lot of days feeling like an egg; an intact shell that looked smooth and clean, with an inside that was messy and maybe even rotten. You’d have to break it to find out, I guess, but it never quite broke. A thin membrane was all that was keeping it together.
    If anything in this article hits home. Stop reading. Go do something good for yourself instead, walk in the sunshine, have a long hot bath. Make time for you (awesome, amazing, you).
  • The stupid reason that larger clothes fit so badly
    A common complaint among women who wear sizes 16 and up is that if they can find items in their size at all, it’s even harder to find clothes that fit well. More than just an annoyance, the problem can be dispiriting and humiliating, and leave women feeling excluded from fashion.
    File under: isn’t it obvious that people are all different shapes and sizes, and that’s ok?
  • Inside the Insane Feud Between a Vegan Strip Club and the Steak House Next Door
    Nine years ago, Casa Diablo, the world’s only vegan strip club, opened in—you guessed it—Portland, Oregon, with a veggie-based menu and a ban on fur and leather onstage.
    First thought ‘Vegan Strip Club’ what the what?
  • The psychological importance of wasting time
    There will always be an endless list of chores to complete and work to do, and a culture of relentless productivity tells us to get to it right away and feel terribly guilty about any time wasted. But the truth is, a life spent dutifully responding to emails is a dull one indeed.
    Step away, step away.
  • The Accidental Get Away Driver
    They wore no coats. They just shivered there, in the crisp night air. And to the cabdriver who slowed to study the three men who’d called for a ride, this seemed strange. It was January, after all, and the temperature in Santa Ana, California, had dipped into the 50s.
    Amazing how a few quick interactions can take you places you don’t want to go.
  • How Ed Sheeran perfected the art of being a mainstream misfit
    People are seeing Ed Sheeran everywhere these days — even in the most unexpected places. It’s understandable that everyone seems to have Sheeran on the brain these days: The 26-year-old has officially reached global pop culture ubiquity.
    Question. Ed Sheeran, how?
  • Forever and Ever and Ever: Uncanny Doubles in ‘The Shining’
    Mirrors, ghosts, doppelgängers, reflective surfaces, repetitions, and perfectly symmetrical frames…these are just a few cinematic devices which Stanley Kubrick uses to create an uncanny atmosphere in his 1980 adaptation of Stephen King’s The Shining.
    I could read articles like this for days. Geektastic.
  • People think juice is good for them. They’re wrong.
    Mrs. G. came to our offices for her first visit distraught. Her primary-care doctor had just diagnosed her with diabetes, and she was here for advice. She was shocked by the diagnosis. She had always been overweight and had relatives with diabetes, but she believed she lived a healthy lifestyle.
    Smoothies are the future? I actually like EATING my fruit.
  • The Many Ways in Which We Are Wrong About Jane Austen
    We’re going to be seeing a lot more of Jane Austen. 2017 is the bicentenary of her tragically early death at the age of 41. And by way of celebration, the Bank of England is introducing a new £10 note with her face on it. Actually, it’s not her face.
    You learn something, well a few things, everyday!
  • Stephen King on The Great Fictional Monster of Our Time
    The worm that destroys you is the temptation to agree with your critics, to get their approval. “In the dining room, there are flowers and candlelight and harpsichord music — ‘If Love Now Reigned,’ composed by Henry VIII in 1510.”
    High praise from someone like King but he’s not wrong. Quick word association for you. Hannibal.
  • You’re not going to believe what I’m about to tell you
    This comic was inspired by this three-part series on the backfire effect from the You Are Not So Smart Podcast. I would also like to thank my wonderful girlfriend Theresea for calling my attention to the backfire effect in the first place.
    READ THIS, please please read this. It impacts all of us, you, me, everyone.
  • A Rare Journey Into the Cheyenne Mountain Complex, a Super-Bunker That Can Survive Anything
    In the background of Colorado Springs, Pike’s Peak dominates the sky. But just to that mountain’s southeast looms another geological ripple. Cheyenne Mountain—a rounded, rocky thing that rises 9,565 feet above sea level—looks wild and quiet.
    Fascinatingly scary place.
  • Watch Queen’s Stunning Live Aid Performance: 20 Minutes That Will Give You Goose Bumps
    “The last people anyone expected to come out of that gig as being the memorable ones was Queen,” said Bob Geldof in an interview, looking back at the band’s stunning 24 minute set at Live Aid on July 15, 1985.
    Watched it live. Stunning then, still stunning now. Miss you Freddie.
  • Bombay Sapphire gin recalled in at least 3 provinces for containing too much alcohol
    Liquor authorities in at least three provinces are recalling a brand of gin that may contain almost twice as much alcohol as it should.
    Boooo to authorities, give us the boozy boozy gin!!