Month: June 2015

Weekend Reading

More random readings I’ve stumbled across this week. Note: no post next week as I’ll be somewhere in a muddy field at Glastonbury.

  • How to Avoid the Productivity Rabbit Hole
    This article is by Josh Zerkel, Director of Worldwide Account Management and Training at Evernote. We’re not entirely sure where the kitten photo came from. It’s best we keep it that way. We can haz productivity. And, so can you. Scroll through your LinkedIn, Facebook, or Twitter feed.
    Read: http://ift.tt/1JPWC1X

  • 20 astonishing holiday complaints
    Presented to you, for your entertainment and pleasure – 20 of the most outrageous, ridiculous and stupid travel complaints made to tour operators A recent survey from Thomas Cook and ABTA reveals 20 of the most ridiculous complaints by holiday-makers made to their travel agent.
    Read: http://ift.tt/1wy7zx0

  • Does a polyamorous lifestyle reward followers with a better life?
    Actors Ginnifer Goodwin, Bill Paxton, Jeanne Tripplehorn, and Chloe Sevigny starred in the popular HBO series Big Love which focused on polyamorous relationships.
    Read: http://ift.tt/1BaSR60

  • League of Legends prodigy Faker carries his country on his shoulders
    ‘League of Legends’: A marquee event”League of Legends” has swept across the globe in recent years, and tens of millions of gamers now play each month. Check out just how big the eSport has become.
    Read: http://ift.tt/1JL1R4u

  • Camming Is Not Like Any Other Kind of Sex Work
    I’m in Eevie’s bedroom watching her work. She’s wearing a little black dress and drinking merlot from a shatterproof wineglass one of her viewers sent her after she’d broken a real one on camera.
    Read: http://ift.tt/1MGD7Zs

  • Can Reading Make You Happier?
    Several years ago, I was given as a gift a remote session with a bibliotherapist at the London headquarters of the School of Life, which offers innovative courses to help people deal with the daily emotional challenges of existence.
    Read: http://ift.tt/1BXxksb

  • The Shittest Burlesque I’ve Seen
    For some time now, on my rounds of the great and the good of cabaret spectaculars, I have found that I dread the mention of burlesque. Not because I don’t like the art form: precisely because I love it.
    Read: http://ift.tt/1jfSlG5

  • Your Child Should Never Be Forced to Hug Anyone (Yes, Including a Relative) – Here Are 7 Reasons Why — Everyday Feminism
    Two of my good friends had their first baby late this past year. From the get-go, Baby was a cuddly little girl. (Or, as her two moms say, “We assume she’s a girl, but we won’t know for sure until she tells us herself.
    Read: http://ift.tt/1AUBx5a

  • Calling Yourself Fat For the First Time — Medium
    The word ‘fat’ used to have me running scared. It stung my ears, made my heart sink, and when used by someone else about me, it made me cry.
    Read: http://ift.tt/1ITSejQ

  • The Straight White Man’s Guide To The 21st Century
    For the modern gent, the 21st century can be an absolute ruddy minefield. A chameleonic landscape of rights, wrongs, and rules where the unknowing and unwilling are met with gleeful admonishment and public shame. A minefield, I say!
    Read: http://ift.tt/1cT7PBE

  • Laverne Cox: ‘Now I have the money to feminise my face I don’t want to. I’m happy that this is the face God gave me’
    ‘Until recently, I was the transgender person that people were most aware of,” says Laverne Cox, who describes herself as “an actress first and activist second”.
    Read: http://ift.tt/1GnIB9b

  • The Black Knight Satellite — The Truth is Up There
    The Heavens abound with no shortage of weirdness, mystery and wonder and despite intense scrutiny there is a dearth of solid, factual information; fantastic speculation isn’t going to stop any time soon and that suits your Humble Narrator just fine. Who wants to get weird?
    Read: http://ift.tt/1PsifoJ

  • Alone
    It’s 3:35 a.m. in the morning. I am standing in an open doorway, peering into a dark wood, wearing only a pair of thermal long johns. Snow is drifting onto my face from a moonlit sky. My heart is pounding. And I am holding an axe.
    Read: http://ift.tt/1egiat3

  • The fascinating, feel-good psychology of Internet cat videos
    It’s 2 p.m. You’re tired, disgruntled and desk-bound. Casting about for something — anything! — to carry you to 5, you contemplate a coffee or an office walk-around. But not so fast, dear office drone, because there’s a guaranteed mood-lifter you can indulge in at your desk.
    Read: http://ift.tt/1CeQNVB

  • Etsy infuriates the witch community with its ban on selling spells
    Etsy, the online marketplace for buying and selling all things quirky and handmade, is also home to a vibrant witch community. Those witches are fuming over Etsy’s new policy of rigorously enforcing its existing ban on sales of “metaphysical services,” which is to say spells and hexes.
    Read: http://ift.tt/1FmYSHI

  • Apple Watch: My most personal review ever
    I have been reporting on Apple for more than 20 years now, and in all that time no product has had such an impact on my life as this little piece of hardware and software. I don’t say that for dramatic effect, it has had a profound effect on the way I live.
    Read: http://ift.tt/1Bgx4Ke

  • Has Russian radio signal UVB-76 been solved after 40 years?
    Volume dials were turned up, computers began recording, forum posts were hastily typed. Something big was happening. For the first time in a history that stretches back nearly 40 years, the mysterious Russian radio signal popularly known as UVB-76 had issued an order. On Jan.
    Read: http://ift.tt/1rHn72F

Spoilers

This post contains no spoilers

I am guilty of posting spoilers. TV show plot twists, sporting results, movie endings, I’ve done them all. But I’ve learned, by being on the receiving end one too many times, to think before I post.

“Do unto others as you would have them do unto you” says some book or other – note to self: write-up your thoughts on the Bible some day, you know, cos there aren’t enough religious nuts in your life – and truth be told it’s not a bad way to live your life. Presuming you are a decent human being and not a complete and utter dickhead to being with, but I digress, back to spoilers.

It took me a while to stop posting them and even today there is that split second moment of wanting to share something with others, a feeling that seems born of social media even though it predates it; I think social media just makes it more immediate and increases the chemicals that are generated by your brain so it feels even more fun.

I understand that it feels good to share these things and I guess our use of social media is still so new that we haven’t had time to evolve much in that area, or have much in the way of emotional engagement or maturity. Social media in all of it’s various forms is still a very basic and crude device. I get it though, that I can now stand on the top of a mountain and shout really loudly and I know people round the world will both hear and respond to me, well that’s a powerful thing.

With great power comes a simple reasoning; just because we CAN do something, doesn’t mean we SHOULD do something (says the over sharing blogger). I know, I know. Cliché-tastic, right?

Posting spoilers seems to be driven by a desire to be seen, to have an acknowledged moment of visibility, the very same thing that, to this day, has people exclaiming ‘First’ in the comments sections of websites. Yes, that still happens.

Maybe it is our use of social media, our lack of sophistication (I’m generalising MASSIVELY here) that leads to these moments of angst and anger. It can’t be a coincidence that most of the people I know online who, like myself, get more than a little bit irked when people post spoilers, are people who have been online for a long time; where ‘long time’ is relative but is usually at least 8 years or more.

If that is the case, then I guess it’s down to those of us who have been here for a while to help others who are still in their toddler years understand and learn, help them mature their usage (god, what a horrible phrase).

Trouble is, I’m not sure how we’d even start and the bottom line is that if it’s a matter of evolution then I have to face up to the fact that neither you nor I can make it happen any faster.

Part of me gets annoyed with myself too. I mean a lot of what I’m talking about are transitory things. TV shows I’ll vaguely remember in 10 years time, sporting events that will merge into another set of memories, movies that I might re-watch regardless of whether the ending was spoiled for me or not.

These are not things to waste my energy on. These are not things that matter. I know this.

But I really fucking wish people would stop doing it.

Return of the bike

Return of the bike

A couple of months ago my bike was stolen.

My bike was one of many stored down there. In fact, despite the note I put round every single one of my neighbours, there are still several bikes locked up the same way mine was, attached to a bracket that was bolted to the wall.

The brackets are there to protect the down pipes from getting hit by any of the cars, solid structures, each with four bolts to keep it in place. Perfect for attaching a bike to using a nice heavy Kryptonite D-Lock (with additional chain).

For a while I kept my bike in my flat, right next to the front door but it always seemed in the way so, having spotted so many other bikes down there, and knowing that it is a secured space it seemed to make sense to do the same.

You’ll imagine my surprise when, as I took the bins down one day, the lift door opened and there in front of me my bike wasn’t.

The metal bracket that was bolted to the wall, or more accurately, was screwed to the wall, was lying to one side, discarded. My bike, and the lock that I’d used to attach it to the bracket, was gone. All gone.

What an odd experience. I looked around thinking the bike might have been moved somehow, I could see all the other bikes were still there and with the metal bracket still there then, perhaps a maintenance person had removed it and a kindly neighbour had taken my bike in?

I rushed round the basement area to double check it wasn’t anywhere else, checked my post box – no notes, ransom or otherwise – and then climbed the stairs back to my flat, trying to figure out what had happened.

I phoned the police, gave them the details. I phoned the insurance company and gave them the details.

I started thinking about buying a new bike (I ended up ordering, then cancelling, a new bike through the Cyclescheme system, the same one I used to get my bike in the first place). I was certain I’d never see my bike again, I mean what are the odds?

Apparently they aren’t as high as I thought.

A phone call on Friday evening for a mysterious Glasgow number that you can’t call back turned out to be from Police Scotland where a friendly sounding man told me he thought he had my bike in the back of his van.

Apparently they’d stopped someone riding a bike and quickly ascertained that the man ON the bike certainly couldn’t have AFFORDED the bike. They asked the man to get off the bike then asked why the serial number sticker had been removed (a common occurence on a stolen bike) and without a reasonable explanation, took the bike from him to run some checks. One of those checks, thank the lord I had fitted non-standard SPD pedals, suggested it was my bike.

The guys turned up later that evening at my flat, I met them, identified my bike from the pedals, tyres (also non-standard) and a few other distinguishing features, gave them a written statement and lo and behold, I have my bike back!!

I received a further phone call yesterday to double check a couple of details because apparently they caught the man who stole my bike, who sold it to the man who was riding it, and he will be getting charged! Again, what are the odds?!

So, I have my bike back. I’m storing it in my flat and looking into ways to make it more theft-proof in the future. I’ve already replaced my stolen D-lock with something better, thanks to this amazing article on The Sweethome. Next up is something like Bike Register, and then further ways to personalise/customise and generally make my bike look cheaper – I’m even considering getting it completely repainted in matt black, chuck some stickers on and be done with it.

Regardless, I’m still amazed that I got my bike back. The Police get a lot of flak so it’s nice to be able to give them some credit and thanks.

Weekend Reading

A few things that I’ve read this week (featuring animal selfies and a baby koala!):

  • In 1948, a man was found on a beach in South Australia. The mysterious circumstances of his death have captivated generations of true-crime fanatics. Today, one amateur sleuth has come close to solving the case — and upended his life in the process.
    By the time anyone noticed that he hadn’t moved in at least five hours, the man on Somerton Beach must have started giving off fumes. It was about 6:30 a.m. on December 1, 1948, at the beginning of the Australian summer, and he did not look like the kind of man to sleep in the sand.
    Read: http://ift.tt/1KOZY7b
  • The Life of a Clown
    A clown wearing whiteface, a psychedelic jumper, and a pair of rainbow-colored Crocs knockoffs has gathered his youthful charges beneath the shade of a spreading tree. The birthday girl is seven years old.
    Read: http://ift.tt/1Kdzn2b
  • The Five Uncommon Habits Of Highly Productive People
    Can you be as effective in 35 hours as you are in 80? Startup veteran and developer Jess Martin thinks so. He has worked tirelessly to optimize his productivity in order to work better, not longer. Believe it or not, people aren’t born with the get-it-done gene.
    Read: http://ift.tt/1BM8Thj
  • SEAL Team 6: A Secret History of Quiet Killings and Blurred Lines
    They have plotted deadly missions from secret bases in the badlands of Somalia. In Afghanistan, they have engaged in combat so intimate that they have emerged soaked in blood that was not their own.
    Read: http://ift.tt/1Qzo9ow
  • The Cost of Telling Your Truth, Publicly
    In her first memoir, Some Girls: My Life in a Harem, Jillian Lauren held back pretty much nothing—about her eighteen months in the harem of the Prince Jefri Bolkiah, playboy brother of the Sultan of Brunei; her substance abuse; her time as a sex worker. She didn’t stop there.
    Read: http://ift.tt/1GuPWHq
  • When You ‘Literally Can’t Even’ Understand Your Teenager
    A little paradox of Internet celebrity is that a YouTube personality can amass millions upon millions of young fans by making it seem as if he’s chatting with each of them one to one. Tyler Oakley, a 26-year-old man who identifies as a “professional fangirl,” is a master of the genre.
    Read: http://ift.tt/1HYEBdu
  • Despite Losing Both Legs, One Man’s Rogue Mission to De-Mine North Iraq
    HALABJA, Iraq — Before beginning his work, Hoshyar Ali takes off his prosthetic legs and lowers himself flat onto the ground. The vast field in front of him stretches on toward green hills and the jagged mountains of Kurdistan near the Iranian border in northern Iraq.
    Read: http://ift.tt/1RU1yWb
  • 16 animal selfies that capture life in the Serengeti
    Do you think warthogs are camera shy? Are anteaters more photogenic than ostriches? Thanks to an international project documenting the mysterious life of animals in eastern Africa we might be able to find out.
    Read: http://ift.tt/1JGKf8p
  • Alanis in Chains
    No regrets. Growth. Give yourself credit. Everybody is different. Their view of you may not be correct. Does it really matter? Who matters. You … Talk, listen, cry … Learn, learn about you. Be aware. Patience. Be positive. Be hopeful.
    Read: http://ift.tt/1T96Gr8
  • Hotel Melancholia
    There was a period in my life when I spent a lot of time in hotel rooms. It was normal to skit from Shanghai to Dublin via Vilnius and Rome in a month, and then begin the loop all over again: Athens, Novosibirsk, Kuala Lumpur.
    Read: http://ift.tt/1S4GVXt
  • Paul Ford
    Software has been around since the 1940s. Which means that people have been faking their way through meetings about software, and the code that builds it, for generations.
    Read: http://ift.tt/1C0rExH
  • Koala baby won’t let go of mom while she undergoes surgery. Both survived being hit by a car.
    Mom Lizzy was undergoing treatment for a collapsed lung. The pair miraculously survived being hit by a car on the Warrego Highway at Coominya, west of Brisbane.
    Read: http://ift.tt/1FWR1kx

Dream Vacation

As we roll into summer (finally!) I’ve been pondering what my dream vacation would be, thinking back over previous holidays both home and abroad, and then lottery-win-daydreaming about what my ultimate vacation would be like.

It’s easy to roll out the 5-star, hell make it 6-star, experience as the greatest dream vacation. A car to pick us up and take us to the airport, no hanging around, waited on hand and foot, first-class seats-that-turn-into-beds on the flight, another car to whisk us to our hotel – our luggage would all be handled by someone else – and a room with large glass doors that opened on to an empty golden beach, palm trees, a beach side cocktail bar and warm blue waters beyond.

And perhaps it’s that simple, after all a dream vacation for me includes a lot of being pampered, being lazy and just chilling out and relaxing. It’s one of the reasons I’ve enjoyed the last two abroad holidays as they were all-inclusive.

But there is always the conflict, the part of me that wants to tackle a cycling holiday, or a walking holiday, or some other hybrid that would allow me to look back with a sense of accomplishment, a holiday that nourishes as much as nurtures.

Of course there are further considerations these days, how big is my carbon footprint and how much does flying to the other side of the world add to it? (says the man flying to Singapore later this year).

On the flip side I know the types of things I don’t want. I don’t want a Scottish/English/Irish bar. I don’t want ‘organised fun’, I’d rather not have hordes of screaming kids, and like many others I’d rather not be subjected too tourist-ey an environment.

So what is my dream vacation? How would I know?

Actually it’s pretty simple (like me). Gimme some place that is warm and sunny, that’s safe, that is ‘real’, and isn’t full of noisy, inconsiderate people and I’d be quite happy. I can take my music, read books, and generally chill out and I’m all good. If there a few things to do so much the better.

Be it Brighton or the Bahamas, Saint Tropez or Skye, as long as I’m with someone I love I don’t really care about much else.

The Good No

I like to think I’m pretty helpful. It’s nice to be nice and all that, and I enjoy the connection it makes, even if it’s only for a fleeting moment; holding a door open and receiving a smile, helping push a broken down car, chasing after someone to give them their dropped glove.

If you are like me you will tend to say yes when someone asks for help. After all, what’s 2, 10, 15, 30 mins of your life in the grand scheme of things, of course I can help…

Being helpful is nice, isn’t it? That little boost of karma and the associated good feels are a wonderful reward. The world seems brighter, birds sing louder and the sun feels that little bit warmer on your face! Saying yes is TOTES OSSUM AMAZEBALLS, FACT!

Except that isn’t always how it turns out, is it.

The few times that “yes” actually gives you those warm fuzzies seem too few and far between, and I’ll admit that there are many times I really wish I had said no.

So I’ve been trying to be more aware and, as I’ve slowly pared back and simplified my life over the past few years, saying no has become A Thing That I Do. I’m still not very good at it but I am finding that saying no is helping me create mental space and balance. It doesn’t always involve someone else, saying no can be an internal decision – no, I won’t go to that event, screw you FOMO – or a part of an discussion with someone else – no, I can’t help you with that piece of work because then I’ll compromise my own commitments. The latter remains the harder of the two for me (the former isn’t always simple either).

I don’t find saying no to others an easy thing. It’s seen as negative, a commentary on the person rather than the act or favour, some people take “Sorry, no” as a diss, a slur on their character. What power that tiny word holds. But why does it carry so much weight?

My guess is that it’s down to my old friend, expectation. If someone asks for help there is a weight of expectation, they’ve put themselves out there, taken the brave step of asking for help so of course you have to say yes! How could you dare say otherwise? What an affront that would be to the the emotional energy they’ve used and the effort they’ve just put themselves through!

I read the following article a few weeks ago and it’s stuck in my head (and prompted this blog post) – Ways to Say ‘No’ More Effectively

“One of our most fundamental needs is for social connection and a feeling that we belong,” Dr. Bohns says. “Saying ”no“ feels threatening to our relationships and that feeling of connectedness.” And we worry that saying “no” will change the way the other person views us, and make him or her feel badly.

Sadly, it often does hurt feelings. “No” is a rejection. Neuroscience has shown our brains have a greater reaction to the negative than to the positive. Negative information produces a bigger and swifter surge of electrical activity in the cerebral cortex than does positive information. Negative memories are stronger than positive ones. All of this is to protect us: A strong memory of something hurtful helps us remember to avoid it in the future.

Even so, psychologists say, most people probably won’t take our “no” as badly as we think they will. That’s because of something called a “harshness bias” — our tendency to believe others will judge us more severely than they actually do. “Chances are the consequences of saying ”no“ are much worse in our heads than they would ever be in reality,”

So, part of being able to say no, a ‘good no’, is to understand that it’s not as bad and awful as we think. Simply put, saying no doesn’t carry as much weight as I think it does.

If nothing else, having this in mind should make saying no, for the right reasons, a little bit easier in the future.

Weekend Reading

A few things that I’ve read this week, you might enjoy them too (might rename this the ‘Amy Schumer Edition’):

  • Amy Schumer’s Glamour Awards Speech Is Beyond Brilliant (VIDEO)
    Let’s be honest – award ceremonies are *pretty* dull. Unless you invite someone like Amy Schumer. The US comedian was guest of honour at the Glamour Awards on Tuesday evening, where she accepted the Trailblazer Of The Year Award.
    Read: http://ift.tt/1HKV9Fy
  • From Amy Schumer to John Oliver, How Comedians Became Public Intellectuals
    People look to Amy Schumer and her fellow jokers not just to make fun of the world, but to make sense of it. And maybe even to help fix it. This week, in a much-anticipated sketch on her Comedy Central show, Amy Schumer staged a trial of Bill Cosby.
    Read: http://ift.tt/1FGaYPC
  • The Egg
    You were on your way home when you died. It was a car accident. Nothing particularly remarkable, but fatal nonetheless. You left behind a wife and two children. It was a painless death. The EMTs tried their best to save you, but to no avail.
    Read: http://ift.tt/ODzNVe
  • The advent and evolution of Apple’s digital hub
    Like many people, the iPhone has replaced many consumer electronics in my home. I no longer own a point-and-shoot camera, camcorder, voice recorder or dedicated music player. My iPhone is all of those items — plus more — in one, sleek, powerful and pocketable device.
    Read: http://ift.tt/1dxlVds
  • Chasing the next billion with Sundar Pichai
    We sat down with Pichai to hear his vision for the Google of the future. He laid out a plan to improve Google’s products through machine learning — but more importantly, he sketched out a grand effort to deliver computing capabilities to billions of people around the world.
    Read: http://ift.tt/1EEDOvO
  • The Top 7 Commencement Speeches Of All Time
    Powerful, challenging, and teeming with wisdom, these commencement addresses will inspire anyone who reads them—not just graduating seniors.
    Read: http://ift.tt/1FHVQBt
  • Lena Dunham, Amy Schumer and Comedy Actress A-List in Raunchy, R-Rated Roundtable
    “So, what’s your policy on ‘pussy’?” inquires a polite Amy Schumer regarding what can and can’t be said during THR’s annual gathering of Emmy-contending comedy actresses. If the ensuing conversation — held inside a Manhattan studio where, at one point, one of the six women offers another oral sex — is any indication, nothing is off limits when feminism and comedy collide
    Read: http://ift.tt/1J5ASi2
  • 5 Helpful Answers To Society’s Most Uncomfortable Questions
    How many of you are old enough to remember “We Didn’t Start The Fire,” that shit-awful Billy Joel song in which he unconvincingly insists over and over that he didn’t cause the apocalypse? Well, what I am finding as time goes on is that we are all secretly Billy Joel.
    Read: http://ift.tt/1HpBL3t
  • Go Ask Alice
    Who reads “Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland”? The answer used to be: Anyone who can read. From the tangled tale of mass literacy one can pluck a few specific objects—books that were to be found in every household where there was somebody who could read and people who wanted to listen.
    Read: http://ift.tt/1I3GTKU
  • Boswick the Clown Doesn’t Understand Why Adults Are So Scared of Him
    No one is better at making children laugh than Boswick the Clown. He doesn’t understand why adults are so scared of him. Among the indignities the clown routinely endures, the theft of his Ralph Wiggum antenna topper barely registered.
    Read: http://ift.tt/1clyC9D
  • Why the worst time to drink coffee is actually in the morning
    Coffee has ingrained itself in the mechanisms of so many people’s early morning routines. There is something romantic about brewing a carafe, or holding a freshly bought cup close, first thing.
    Read: http://ift.tt/1KHIKIR
  • 25 Facts About ‘Jaws’ for Its 40th Anniversary
    Daah dun, daah dun, daah dun, dun dun, dun dun, dun dun. Today is the 40th anniversary of Steven Spielberg’s original blockbuster, Jaws. Here are 25 fascinating facts you may not have known about the Oscar-winning shark flick.
    Read: http://ift.tt/1dGMCME
  • The Hardy Boys, Nancy Drew, and the Secret Ghostwriters of Children’s Fiction
    Along with the Nancy Drew series, almost all of the thrillers in the popular teenage franchise were produced by ghostwriters, thanks to a business model that proved to be prescient.
    Read: http://ift.tt/1FqsXHD
  • Patti Smith: punk’s poet laureate heads back on the road for her sins
    In 1975, with the opening line of her debut album Horses, Patti Smith set out her stall: “Jesus died for somebody’s sins,” she drawled, “but not mine.
    Read: http://ift.tt/1ImXnwM
  • Japanese artist Masayoshi Matsumoto Elevates Balloon Art to New Heights
    We want Masayoshi Matsumoto at our next birthday party! Although, admittedly, it may be difficult to get the kids to request things other than swords, shields and helmets.
    Read: http://ift.tt/1dJlFbh
  • The Iceman List
    I strongly recommend it. It’s one of those movies — a lot of movies from the 1980s feel this way — that didn’t hold up for a long time, but now it does.
    Read: http://ift.tt/1GiSF6E
  • Wes Anderson’s The Shining
    I noticed how Wes Anderson and Stanley Kubrick frame their shots in a similar way – this was the result: “The Grand Overlook Hotel”!
    Read: http://ift.tt/1GTRJnU
  • Learn to Dunk
    Michael McKnight Sports Illustrated A 42-year-old man with small hands and a dream.
    Read: http://ift.tt/1RJtoV5
  • Life
    A quarter of a million pregnancies in the UK end in miscarriage every year. Affecting over a fifth of pregnant women, there’s often little information available about what went wrong. While researching this piece I asked on social media if anyone would share their miscarriage experience with me.
    Read: http://ift.tt/1AO0fUw

16 years of thanks

16 years is a long time and I’ll admit I’ve been looking back at the history of this blog, reading old posts and finding that it’s a fairly accurate depiction of my own journey. Obvious, I know, but given that there is so much I don’t write about, the blog posts I have published act as a signpost for my memory.

It has sparked further contemplation about my past and, on the whole, it’s been a positive experience to revisit the links and connections I’ve made throughout my life that still hold true today. They are few, but they are strong.

I’m forgetful and can be a little too focused on moving forward, looking ahead and making plans. I’m also not blessed with much sentimentality, although I can be a bit of a sop at times, so tend to lose sight of emotional connections and the value I gain from having other people in my life.

I can generalise this even further; life for me is typically about what’s happening next, not looking back at the what ifs.

But the past is what it is and I acknowledge that without it I wouldn’t be who I am today. That said,  as time goes on I naturally find myself distanced from the painful times, and I feel like I am finally comfortable that what lies behind me isn’t shaping the path ahead. I am not beholden to the dark clouds of my history.

Sometimes it’s good to pause, to look around at where you are, live life in the present, and as I look at my life today I realise just how lucky I am, and I have a lot of people to thank for that.

This post is a thank you to all of the following, who are listed chronologically purely because it’s the only fair way to do it. They’ve all meant more to me than I’ve probably told them (something I have gotten better at but I still need to work on).

First up, my parents for bringing me up to learn, to challenge, to be tolerant and challenge prejudice. For helping me when I needed it and for always being supportive, understanding and caring. It’s only now, as I approach middle-age (I’m in denial, shut up) that I realise how blessed I was to have them as parents…

…then they went and brought my sister into the world. I’m massively over-protective of her and in return she keeps me grounded just by being her wonderful, caring, ditzy self. We have many attributes alike and as we both get older it feels like we are growing closer, mostly because we are realising that we aren’t that much different from our parents and can revert to our childhood relationship in the blink of an eye. Hey, I’m a big brother, I’m SUPPOSED to wind her up!

My ex-wife Louise is next; I’ve known her for half my life and when we were together we experienced wonderful highs and brutally crushing lows. From her I learned the values of family and patience, and how to properly load a dishwasher (in-joke). Part of me remains sad it didn’t work out but I am glad we parted on good terms and remain friends to this day.

Speaking of friends – Stuart, Keith, Ian and William are mine – a constant source of laughter, support, ridicule, and beer. Our shared history grows richer even though we don’t see enough of each other. I take great comfort that whenever we are together, nothing really changes. They are my brothers, through thick and thin.

My girlfriend Kirsty. Part of me wishes I’d met her sooner. Despite only being together for a few years it feels like we’ve journeyed so so far. She has helped me get to know the real me, challenged me to be better, held me when I failed, and allowed me to support her and be part of her life. She is more amazing than she ever seems to realise and continues to surprise me. I know I wouldn’t be as happy as I am today without her.

My girlfriend Clare. When we first met I think both of us were a little caught out by how easy it seemed to be, how quickly we clicked. We may only have been together for a couple of years (almost) but she has helped me understand and embrace parts of my personality that I didn’t fully appreciate. I am lucky to be a part of her life.

And finally, but certainly not least, YOU dear reader.

I’ve made many friends in the 16 years I’ve been blogging, connections transferred from blogcircles to twitter, through blogmeets to weddings and beyond. I feel very lucky to still be in touch with so many people who all came together because of this strange hobby on the wonderfully weird world of the web.

Thank you, thank you, thank you all. I know I wouldn’t be me, without you.

I’ll stop now as I appear to have some dust or something in my eye…

16 years old

Every year this gets a bit scarier to admit.

16 years ago the internet was a small place, hand crafted HTML ruled the waves, and the surf was more a gentle swell than the tsunamis we now have to negotiate whenever we dip our toes.

Even now I’m still not sure how much of this hobby is vanity, how much is curiosity, how much is a desire for validation, nor how much it’s just because I can. It’s never been a focus, and that’s probably why I still do it.

I published my first piece of writing 16 years ago today.

That means, in the UK, my blog can now, in no particular order:

  • Drink beer or cider with a meal in a pub or hotel, but still can’t buy it.
  • Fly a glider.
  • Have sex, gay or straight, as long as the other blog is also 16+.
  • Join the armed forces.
  • Earn the minimum wage.
  • Choose a doctor.
  • Get married (with parental consent).

All of which is really, really weird.

Is Saturation Good or Bad?

Poly Means Many: There are many aspects of polyamory. Each month, the PMM bloggers will write about their views on one of them. Links to all posts can be found at www.polymeansmany.com.

I’m going to try and write this month’s Poly Means Many piece without using the word that I think best sums up my approach to the topic of poly saturation because I’ve already dedicated an article to my thoughts on that topic. It begins with a b and ends in alance, but I’m not going to use that word here.

So, this month we are writing about saturation – is it just me or does at hint at lascivious activities? The dictionary definition includes: soaked, impregnated, or imbued thoroughly; charged thoroughly or completely; brought to a state of saturation.

Oh my.

That said, saturation also has a slightly negative connotation, as it’s frequently coupled with over, and as we all know, to be over saturated is not a good thing.

Of course when we apply the word saturation to polyamory, which itself is the notion of being able to love more than one person and suddenly the word saturation seems out of place, after all there is no such thing as ‘too much love’, right?

Love = relationships, regardless of how they are defined (and we should probably write about that word in the future, “relationships” will be a rich vein of thinking) so you could say, on the purest level, that it can’t be right that one person could have too many relationships, too much love.

But of course there are other constraints to a relationship, other reasons why someone who is poly may feel saturated, so I guess the real question I need to be asking myself is, how do I know?

Do I have too many relationships? Do I want to have more relationships than I can handle? How many is too many? How many is not enough?

As with most of these things, there is no one size fits all response. At present I have two relationships and have pondered, on and off, whether I could manage another, or for that matter if I even want another.

Being open about my poly lifestyle may help my own mindset, it may allow for a third wholly casual relationship (which may allow me to explore some other things my current partners can’t offer me) which itself would bring additional pressures on my current relationships both in terms of availability (time) and dealing with any New Relationship Energy (NRE) that would inevitably occur

And that’s all before finding someone who is happy with a casual relationship… and weirdly presumes that you can permanently keep a relationship in a single state. It’s no wonder my mind continues to churn.

Looking forward there are a myriad of thoughts to be considered and discussed both with myself and my partners and, as ever, that communication will help me see whether adding ‘one more’ to my current lifestyle is even feasible, let alone desirable.

Add in the other parts of my life, work, Yelp events, ISTC website development, holidays, getting to the gym more often, even down to the basics of keeping my flat tidy and other boring household chores… and yeah it might even come down to a matter of time, perhaps I am already happily saturated as it is.

Or perhaps the fact I even have to consider whether I am, or not, suggests that, at least emotionally, I feel that I still have some room in there for someone else?

Ultimately I’m not stressing about my current relationships, nor about whether I want/need another. These days the main advantage of being poly is one that I’ve not yet utilised, far from being in a place where saturation is an issue, I’m just enjoying the fact that being poly allows for that situation to arise naturally. The opportunity is there whether I force it (and seek out someone new) or it happens naturally and, for me, that’s a welcome balance to try and strike.

Dammit, I was trying to avoid that “b” word!