Facebook – The modern scourge

It’s quite interesting watching other people express themselves on every social media platform available.  It’s all quite exhausting.  Personally I have used Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and WordPress all at the same time.  It’s bonkers.  As humans we have an inbuilt need to be sociable and I think a lot of people use all these mediums to be sociable.  For the vast majority of people I guess it works for them but I feel I am in that group that goes bat shit crazy with too much over exposure to these methods of sharing.

I’ve always said this and I still feel it’s true that Facebook is a medium that allows you to stay in touch with people you should have left behind or should at least keep at a distance.  I deleted my Facebook account for the second time around a month ago and Facebook are quite clever as they don’t fully delete your account for 14 days after your request.  They know that people can be impulsive but they also know how addictive social media is and they know you’ll more than likely want to go back.  So that 14 days is quite difficult for my personality type as I kept logging back in and then having to restart the 14 day deletion process.

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I got past the 14 day deletion process a few weeks ago and I’m happy for it.  I feel that a lot of the time the contact through Facebook is so shallow and irrelevant you are better off not having it at all.  Use of telephones has basically vanished as people don’t feel the need to actually phone you or visit you as most peoples lives are splashed all over Facebook.  One thing I have been noticing is that actually amongst the 140 or so ‘friends’ I had on Facebook the overall use of the medium is dropping drastically.  The only things I tended to see were posts by friends that expose  themselves as right wing nutters, friends reposting chain mail crap and ‘fake news’ announcements and the kind of posts that state you are heartless if you do not forward this on immediately if you know someone who died or is suffering from illness x.  I just couldn’t bare it any longer.

I tend to be a man of action when I get going and also extremely impulsive but ultimately my decision making is pretty much spot on even when it is rushed.  Also with social media I HAVE to respond if I have an opinion about something or it bugs me, I’m the same in real life.  So in the end I decided it had to go and I’m quite glad of it. I wont be back.  I still have twitter which is pretty much a local news tool rather than a back and forth social media tool.  Twitter is pretty much an irrelevancy to be honest and even that I am thinking do I really need this.  Instagram is for photo sharing and will probably be the only one I use in the end as it still ticks that box that requires me to be a minor exhibitionist and send out pictures to the world who will then respond by liking my picture and stroking my fragile ego.  It’s all quite funny really and I wonder when, as a society, we will all come out the other end as I think it’s ultimately quite damaging.

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I enjoy WordPress and writing down my thoughts so I reckon at the end of this whole process I’ll probably be left with two outlets which is WordPress and Instagram which are much more ‘healthy’ outlets in my eyes.  I guess using WordPress is like writing a diary but a bit more public and yes it’s a form of exhibitionism and communication that I think is an inherent part of being human and wanting to connect with other people.  Whether anyone is listening is another matter.  Instagram is a visual diary I guess and some people also get obsessed with that, I used to be hugely into photography but that has also dropped off for now.  I think I prefer gardening to be honest and doing physical outside stuff more and more as it brings a certain peace to my mind and allows me to focus on what’s in front of me rather than focusing on what everyone else is up to.

For me the main thing about Instagram and WordPress is that they are primarily one way communications.  There are ways for people to respond to your posts or pictures of course, and that is nice but ultimately I use these tools as a means of downloading from my brain, freeing up space and allowing myself to them move on and do other things which will then refill my brain.  An ever repeating process called living.  I thank you!

 

Community Service and Gardening

So I’ve been walking past this spot in Avoncliff that I spent time maintaining last year.  It’s near the aqueduct and can become a little unkempt as it’s owned by both Canal Riverside Trust and part of it is unregistered.  We, in the Square, decided to co-opt it from a maintenance perspective so last year I spent some time tarting it up and we as a community have been working with CRT to spruce up the general area.  Interestingly last year large parts of the kerbage were simply buried in soil created over time by falling leaves.  It really makes you understand how stuff gets buried over time and over thousands of years. such as old roman villas and what not.

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Now the kerb is re-exposed, the stairs are de-weeded and we have new wooden bollards which CRT installed, thanks very much, and we have finished them off by painting them in black and white.  It all looks rather glamorous or will do when everything comes alive again.  The Tea Gardens will reopen, sounds of kids, coffee, dogs, bikes and walkers will start to proliferate again and all will be well with the world.  Funnily enough my phone kept going bong as I was de-weeding and chatting to neighbours, I got a funny look or two but at that moment I didn’t need to meditate so I just ignored it.  There are plans afoot to repaint all the railings on the aqueduct and install new railings on the steep steps up to the aqueduct which is not before time.

Yesterday I took note of the bonging in my pocket a couple of times to remind me to do something else, I even took 15 minutes out of my day, sat down, closed my eyes and ‘meditated’ for 15 minutes.  I have to say it’s an enjoyable experience whatever you call it.  The main point of it for me is to just not be active, to stop my mind, to stop my physical self and to just close my eyes and breathe and focus on not very much at all.  It is such a rare treat and it’s so pleasant I hope I’ll keep it up.  I do feel its benefits I think.

Other benefits of ignoring my mobile phone as much as possible is that I actually get stuff done.  The work this morning tidying up the area by the aqueduct probably wouldn’t have happened if I procrastinated on my phone/internet and as the weather is glorious I just though, No!, work comes second today and ignored the office.  Luckily I can do that.

Other random thoughts include becoming a Great Uncle.  How freaky is that!  I haven’t got a problem being 49 at all, apart from the wrinkles, but to be  Great Uncle makes me sound like a crusty old octogenarian which hopefully I am not.

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Meet Logan James Thomas

Another addition to the extended family and circle of life.  What a world he is coming in to.  The first thing that popped into my mind was money.  What I mean by that is that I really hope, however small an amount, that his mum and dad open an ISA or saving account and put something in it every single week or month and don’t touch it.  I shall start it off by sending them a cheque in his name so it has to go into an account.  That way in perhaps 20 years or 25 years there may be enough money in it to either pay for a deposit on a house, a university education if that’s what he wants or a new car.  Just something to help them on their way.  At the current rate a new home would probably cost a million quid in London for a bog standard terrace house by then.

Back to work!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Meditation? Worth a try…

One thing I’ve been meaning to try for years is some kind of meditation.  I frequently think I am a totally crazy arsed bitch that needs some kind of mental readjustment from time to time.  I have one of those minds that never ever stops.  I try and short circuit this through activity of some kind.  I go to the gym regularly, I carry out DIY constantly, I manage the house, the garden which is a considerable size and do all the admin for our company.

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Even with all this physical and mental activity my mind never stops.  I suppose you could say that is the reason it never stops is because I constantly stimulate it with activity so catch 22.  Don’t even get me started on my mobile phone use.  I think ultimately the most damaging part of my life is the bit that includes the mobile phone.  I often wonder whether all my other ‘issues’ would melt away if I simply smashed up my phone and reverted to an old-fashioned phone with no distractions.  I’ve tried it a number of times but I always go back to a phone that’s smarter than me at some point.

Anyway back to the original point of this article.  Having deleted my Facebook account permanently ‘again’.  I often feel the need to express myself in a more public way.  What’s that about?  Narcissistic tendencies perhaps but I also have twitter and Instagram but I’m not getting out of my head what I need to get out of my head before it explodes.  So I’ll turn back to the blog.  I first wrote a blog when we lived in Chicago which was an amazing experience but tended to be a bit lonely in spells.  That kind of feeling is always inevitable when you move around with your partners job to locations where you know very few or no people.  I took up photography which I loved and populated this blog which allowed me to express myself and get random thoughts out of my head and into print.  At one point I was getting over 1000 visitors a day.

Then I had one of those funny half hours, again, and deleted the blog completely.  It was quite rash and I’ve regretted it ever since.  I’ve managed to retrieve some of the original content but nowhere near the original amount.  I was playing around with a few blogging platforms at the time and had forgotten I had a year and a half’s blog content on another site so was able to restore it to WordPress.  I shall continue despite the big gap.

So I digress yet again, get used to it, my thought process is a million digressions so I’m surprised I ever get anything done.  We were talking about mediation I believe.

I have just downloaded this app onto my Samsung Galaxy S7 edge, lovely phone but another blog entry I reckon.  I sat in bed this morning and found a 25 minute meditation and listened to it.  Lovely is all I can say.   At the same time I also have, in parallel, another app which plays a mindfulness bong every 30 minutes to bring me back to the present and make me think about where I am.  It’s bonged 5 times already and I haven’t moved from this chair.  I really must get up and make a cup of tea or possibly do some actual work….. This is another of my procrastinations which is well fed working from home.

To anyone that knows me the idea of me practising meditation is laughable.  I can barely sit still for 60 seconds let alone be with my own thoughts for 25 minutes or listen to my own breathing.  Listening to the noises my partner makes while eating often makes me feel violent so actually listening to my own noises didn’t sound like a whole lot of fun.  However, I seem to be immune to my own gurgling’s, burps, farts, wheezes and sighs my own body makes during meditation so that’s a plus.  I did read recently that having issues with other peoples noises is a now a medical condition so hoorah!

Insight timer.pngThe Meditation App I am using is called the Insight Timer.  It has hundreds if not thousands of meditations you can access for free for all sorts of reasons. I also found a 1 minute and a 5 minute meditation which I might do when the bong on the other app goes.  A way to calm and steady my mind even for a minute or two before I go on to another job.

mindbellThe app that goes bong every half an hour is called MindBell.  This app is supposed to bring me back to the present and interrupts whatever I am doing and hopefully will make me think about what comes next or have a break from what I am doing for a minute or two. So far so good.  The app that goes bong has a timer too so you can set it to start bonging at 6am and it will stop bonging at me at 5pm.  So in effect you could use it as a nice little alarm to wake you up.  Result!

So consider this the first rambling blog entry of many.  WordPress seems to be much easier to use than a few years ago so fingers crossed this wont be the last.

New Camera New Start

Well I finally did it. After well over a year without a decent camera I bought the Canon EOS 700D for my birthday.

Canon 700D

This is the camera I’ve been waiting for. I’ve made some decisions over the last year. Which are:

  • I’m only going to have one lens for the foreseeable future (unless I have a paid for job in which case I will rent what I need)
  • As few accessories as possible
  • I’m going to keep up my blog and add photos
  • I’m going to refine my photography web site
  • I’m going to take more pictures!

The thing I like about the 700D is that it fixes a number of issues I had with it’s predecessors.

  • It has an audio out jack for better quality audio
  • I bought a new  STM lens for it, which removes the clicking of the IS on the lens
  • It actually has auto focusing in Full HD video mode (Finally)

I had a Canon EOS 5D mark II for a while but I hated the fact that a camera like that had no autofocusing on Video. I mean that was well rubbish for a £2,500 camera. Now a Sub £600 SLR camera has it and I am very happy.

I still don’t understand why they can’t put a bloody intervalometer inside the camera.  If a camera can take a single picture on a timer it can take a 1000.  I do not want to buy a bloody adaptor so that I can do this, its unnecessary. It’s just a software change.  It was the same with the 5D Mark II.  £2,500 and it didn’t have a built in intervalometer.  Utter shite.  I can buy a cheap intervalometer for £30 but that is not the point, it should be included.  Strange really.

I took the decision to buy the 18-135mm STM lens as my standard walk around lens which will cover almost every need I will have. It has a decent zoom, Image Stabilisation built in and it is built specifically to shoot awesome video with auto focusing in full HD on the 700D. I can’t wait to try it out! Watch this space.

Whites Club

Whites

On our last visit to London we went for one of our usual strolls along the south bank but we ended up near Green Park as we were meeting friends. We strolled past Whites Club in St James’ which was one of the very location first locations I worked as an adult, as a Chef in fact!

Whites Club was in the Guinness book of World Records as the oldest Gentleman’s club in the world. It was basically a Conservative club and most of the members were Conservatives, really old duffers, male members of the royal family(ies) and members of parliaments. Prince Charles has actually eaten my food and lived to tell the tale, go ).figure :0_

I spent two happy years here on a split shift which ended up being from 9:30am to 2:30pm then from 5:30pm to 9:30pm. I think , if I recall correctly, I earned about £70 a week which encouraged me to go back to college to do my BTEC OND in Computer Studies which eventually let to my degree in computer science. Of course I had decided that £70 a week just wasn’t going to cut it or finance my lifestyle of choice in the coming years which is why I went back to school.

It’s strange to think that decision to leave catering meant i spent another 6 years in education at college, then at university until finally back out into the big wide work in I.T.