Tag: <span>Brazil</span>

Apparently I am a global citizen, indeed we are all global citizens these days.

OK, so my current train of thought is heading down the route largely blazed by Naomi Klein in her book No Logo. Large companies like, say, Starbucks, are able to push smaller local competitors out of business. Which is true and I’m a big supporter of our locally run cafe which, as an aside, makes the best chicken pesto panini EVER, and would hate to see it close down.

That said, Starbucks coffee is generally pretty good and is always reliable, and so we begin the inner conflict.

You see when I venture into Starbucks (I do wish my fingers would stop typing Satrbucks) I immediately know that the environment I’m in is manufactured, and yet despite that knowledge I do quite enjoy it. I’m sure there is a phrase for this effect, and no it’s not “gullible fool syndrome”, but whatever it is, it works. I enjoy the Starbucks experience, the sofas, the gentle music, the calmness that seems to ooze from the walls. And while I’m guessing the latter is just down to the seating arrangement, I certainly rarely feel that I have to shout over other peoples conversations… but that’s all beside the point.

Generally, if I hear someone saying something negative about the Starbucks experience I get quite defensive.

Yet when they challenge Starbucks the ‘global company’ I tend to agree.

See, inner conflict. My desire to be seen as a valid person within my demographic fighting against … ummm… something that I know isn’t right but largely doesn’t impact me all that much.

This is a bad thing. Or at least so I’m told.

Fast forward a decade or two and the only coffee house in town will be Starbucks, all local economy disappears into their vast coffers and the realisation that we need to change things arrives just a little too late. You know, like that whole global warming thing, we’ll REALLY get it as the rising oceans lap at our doorsteps. And no, not an ocean of coffee, that would be silly as it would just taste of fish.

Everyday the internet opens up the entire world, although admittedly most of it is skewed towards the USA. However it’s easy to convince yourself that you are part of a global community, should such a thing exist, and, after all, sharing the simple experience of ordering a coffee is part of being in a community.

Admittedly most of this makes me feel slightly uneasy but, as time marches on, that feeling is squashed underneath a Lemon and Poppy seed Muffin, and washed away with a Venti Skinny Latte, hold the sprinkles.

Globalisation is bad and evil. I’ve read it in numerous blogs so it must be true but the thing is, it doesn’t seem to be happening. Whilst there are numerous Starbucks in Glasgow, they seem to have sprouted competitors with the number of cafes suddenly, visibily, increasing. Even that crap sandwich place now has an expensive coffee machine, and I’m pretty sure the staff don’t get trained as barristas.

I guess my point is this, for every large global company, there is a smaller, more dynamic, competitor and it seems like they are multiplying. I could be wrong of course… on the other hand, only a few years ago, Internet Explorer was about the only browser anyone used. That isn’t the case now.

The internet, whilst aiding globalisation on some terms (I can relate to Jose in Brazil as he sits typing on his MacBook in his local Subway) can also hinder it. The realisation that I have more choice is but a click away and as far as I can see, people are still clicking.

Personal Musings

Been meaning to post this for ages.

Our nephew recently spent 6 months at sea, returning home a couple of months ago. He joined the Merchant Navy student programme last year and this was his first time away (I’m sure there is a proper navy term for that mind you…). He spent most of his time shuttling between the UK, the north-east coast of Africa and Brazil, criss-crossing the Atlantic many times. We’re all very proud of him, and very happy that he is loving every minute of it, well almost…

And you know what else I am? Jealous. Very jealous.

I feel bad even admitting it, to be honest, but it’s true. I told him as much and he nodded along politely as, no doubt, I’m not the only person who’ll have said this to him.

He has seen things I will likely never see, been places I’ll likely never be, and has caused me to ponder my own life. Do I want to spend it sat behind a desk? I’ve got another 30 years or so before I retire, and that presumes I’ll retire early, but I can honestly say the thought of sitting at a computer for all that time fills me with dread. There is so much more to life than this.

And so the pendulum swings again. A few months ago I was revved up, career-focussed, and planning on an MA of all things! What folly. Yet, as I sit here looking out over back garden as the rain drizzles down, I find myself daydreaming and plotting. What WOULD I do, what COULD I do?

As ever, reality nags at the back of my head. Bills to pay, the lifestyle we enjoy isn’t the cheapest, and being constantly stretched is now a way of life. We have debt, like most, but it’s controlled and lowering all the time. One distant day we’ll have none but the mortgage, and the car probably, and then what? Is that the time to pursue something new?

But what? I have many skills, I know my capabilities, and I know I’m smart enough to pick up most things. But that only broadens the scope.

I could write for a living perhaps? Go freelance, and pick and choose my jobs to fit round other activites, new hobbies, or perhaps new studies for a new direction.

But that still leaves the what.

And then, after some time, I realise that I’m actually quite happy with my life and my job. Whilst I would love to be in a position to travel more, things aren’t all that bad, and I still have time on my side.

Count your blessings and all that.

But don’t stop dreaming…

Personal Musings

So let’s see if I can remember all of this.

Friday night
Popped down to see our friend, poor dear has several large bruises, mostly on her face, and some metal staples in her head. Suggestions of ‘blinging them up’ were met with a smile (just before she heaved a cushion at me).

Saturday
Up early for no apparent reason, despite not having slept very well as it was really muggy and uncomfortable. A little bit of shopping, and off to Strathaven for a BBQ in the sunshine!

Of course the eating was all carefully staged around the footie. So, after a “burger starter” we settled down for what was easily the worst game of football I’ve seen for many a year. Put it this way, by the time it got to the last fifteen minutes we were all screaming for SOMEONE, ANYONE to score a goal! Hell if the referee had run up and smashed it into the top corner at least that would have been entertaining!!!

Penalties were predicted at half-time and penalties were what we got, and once again England didn’t have the belief to go through. Not that either team did UNLIKE France! Wasn’t Zidane brilliant?! It was like the 1998 World Cup all over again as it twisted, flicked, and dominated a poor Brazil midfield. Ohh how I’d love for them to go on and win it.

Anyway, beer, frozen margeritas, a delicious steak, more beer, some strawberry flan (with a side helping of profiteroles) and we rolled home stuffed, sated and slightly roasted ourselves.

Sunday
On the road by 9am (and for those who are wondering, I stopped drinking at about 9pm the night before) we headed across the M8 and down the A1 to Berwick-Upon-Tweed. A quick rendezvous with my sister-in-law and four children and then off we headed to Haggerston Alnwick. Yes, we changed our plans. Alnwick is probably the furthest we reckoned we could get Claire to drive, so we decided to head there and leave her to navigate her way to closer attractions – Haggerston, Bamburgh and so on.

After a brief skirmish with a large lorry we arrived safely at Alnwick and MY it has changed a lot since Louise and I were last there, some four years ago we reckon. When we visited only the main water feature and the top garden area had been completed, so it was quite a sight to see at least four or five new areas all finished and in bloom. There are several more water features (some fun ones for the kids), a wonderful rose garden which assaulted both your visual and olfactory senses, not to mention the new treehouse area (a slight disappointment to be honest).

We spent a couple of hours wandering around, keeping the kids interested where we could, and then we headed for Alnwick Castle. We’d built it up a bit with the whole Harry Potter thing so the kids were keen to see it.

Except, and this is another change since Louise and I last visited, you can no longer wander round the grounds for free, you have to pay to get inside the castle walls. A sum too far, alas, so we contented ourselves as best we could with viewing the outside of the castle, replete with yard upon yard of scaffolding. Brilliant.

To try and keep the kids going we decided to stop off at Lindisfarne. The excitement of crossing the causeway dulled by the fact the tide wasn’t due in for another four hours and by that time we were all knackered, hungry and a little bored.

In saying all that, it was a gloriously sunny day and everyone had a great time. I think Louise and I will go back to Alnwick on our own (or probably with my parents?) and spend a day proper in the gardens. So much to see and, as ever, numerous photos will follow.

Phew.

So, what did YOU all do with your weekend?

Life

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Our First Minister caused a bit of a stooshy recently by stating that he wouldn’t be supporting England in the World Cup. But why should he? He’s not English after all..

As for me, well it’s a tricky one, that’s for sure. Ach, who am I kidding, it’s very straightforward. ‘Mon the Soca Warriors!!

Actually that’s not strictly true. In truth I wouldn’t mind England winning the World Cup but for the inexorable press coverage it’d get. I mean it was pretty bad after the rugby World Cup but if they won the footie version? Jesus, it’d be awful.

I was actually listening to a phone-on on the Radio about this during the week. And for most people the decision of whether or not to support England was an easy one to make. You either don’t support them as a matter of principle (and state your allegiance to whoever is playing them next), or you don’t mind them winning, and might support them in a few games.

Most people on the phone-in who said they’d be supporting England did admit that the downside would be the programmes, and articles and endless loops of speculation about whether this team was better than the ’66 winning team, if Gerrard IS the best midfielder in the world, and if Beckham should retire. Meh.

And that’s the thing. It’s not the supporting of England that’s the problem, it’s the constant stream of hyperbole that goes along with it.

Anyway. I’m off to buy a Brazil top, or maybe Argentina… France anyone??

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Brazil 2 – England 1.

Oh dear, how sad… 😉

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It’s a two-zip scenario.

Unless anyone can re-send me the alternative Brazil vs Scotland match thoughts from France 1998, which featured the thoughts that ran through the Scottish players heads as they faced the mighty Brazil (memory-jogger if you read it: John Collins permanently worrying about how he looked) then this little piece has to be the funniest World Cup related piece I’ve seen so far.

USA through, nation nonplussed (via Hydragenic).

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Brazil. The film. Strange. Very, very strange. It’s age is obvious, but that aside it is entirely uninvolving. It’s not the most painful movie I’ve seen but more of a time-filler than anything. Ben-Hur is next on the list.

Quiet weekend. Half-Life practice soon. Then more time mucking about in DreamWeaver. Shouldn’t we be doing more? Yes, usual constraints are stopping us though… and once again we didn’t win the lottery. Sigh. 😉

Life Media

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