Constant communication

My company allows for remote working – in a sense. In theory I can connect to wifi and then access the server and continue work wherever I am. This is particularly important because I could be in a few different locations while I am ‘at work’.

Lately though I’ve been having an issue. When I connect to wifi at home and then the server, I get a blue screen dump within two minutes. Without fail. This means I can work off anything that is only internet based but I can’t actually save anything back where everyone else, including myself can find it again.

I tried to tell IT this. So they removed my wifi drivers. When they did it I did question at the time if this wasn’t a little bit like sawing off the branch I was sitting on with me still sitting on it but hey, they were the experts. For an hour after that we struggled with the realisation that to reinstall the driver I required the internet. Which required wifi. Which I no longer had because the driver had been removed.

Anyways after bothering a load of other people it all sort of worked out.

Except it didn’t because the computer still crashes at home. So I’m sorted of back where I started.

I guess they are saying don’t take your work home with you as the thing seems to work everywhere else?

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And more time in the queue…

I read a really trashy romance novel once (go figure, my friend thought it would make great holiday reading for me. I don’t know how she can know me so well and yet so badly). I can’t really remember much about the book – obviously the girl got the guy in the end.

What I do remember is the statement that it can only be good if you are in a queue to get in, because New Yorkers love to queue. It’s a stamp of approval on the eatery.

Same thing here too… usually for places that serve meat for some reason. Generally speaking this means I miss the next big thing because I am too lazy to hang around long enough for it to happen. I rely on happy coincidence. I’ve brunched once at a very trendy modern fusion Indian/Iranian spot once. But only because when I walked up to the door they let me be a walk in. Gracefully. Even though I was clearly smelly from the gym and said I would be joined shortly by a girl and a pram. I am happy to extol their virtues to others (the food was also good) but not to queue to get in. And at certain times you do queue.

So my friend suggested we go to a place known for quality but cheap steaks. Guess what? There was a queue. We thought at just before 7pm we weren’t that far behind in it. Turned out it was just the queue to get your name on the list. The wait was estimated to be 80-90 minutes. I wanted to walk right there.

For the sake of friendship I agreed to place us on the list and go somewhere. We went for a drink and I fought to find a signal in the bar we were in so I had to keep popping out to paranoidly check if we had a message.

When we went down an hour later to be informed the kitchen was shut due to some or other electrical problem.

Huh.

They offered if we emailed them on our return they would give us a free drink. Didn’t really help me all that much as they still hold a no reservations policy and for the sake of £5 for a drink, my sanity would still be stretched.

That is part of the reason I never agree to wait in a queue. It’s like getting a dress tailored for you. In theory, great idea. In fact. You just don’t know what you are committing to.

There’s an hour of life I’m not getting back and I am still craving steak as a result.

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What is democracy?

There was a big protest this weekend. People jumping up and down again about how we need another referendum because the people who voted for Brexit were obviously mistaken and have all changed their minds (according to the people protesting) and therefore the country deserves to have another shot at voting. Something about ‘the People’s Vote’.

Now whether or not you voted remain or Brexit I have an issue with these protests. A massive one. If they succeed and we have to vote again, you have undermined the whole point of democracy.

You get to have a referendum. You do a bit of research. You vote. You don’t necessarily like the consequences of that vote but THAT is the idea behind the people have spoken. If you didn’t vote then you don’t get to complain. If you did vote and you didn’t do your research you don’t get to complain. If you did vote and you did your research but you didn’t campaign your whole neighbourhood to take up arms and follow you BEFORE the vote you don’t get to complain. You move on and try work out how to make the result work.

I come from a country where for years a large portion of the population was denied the vote. When it was finally given, it was a gift worth standing in the sun for hours to use. A lot of people don’t like the party currently in power but the expectation is that this is something that may pass and in the meanwhile, you make your vote count or you get out and emigrate. Our history and the history of our neighbours has taught us that a FAIR democracy is supposed to involve accepting the results of a properly run election (where noone has cheated – okay this can get debatable) even if you don’t like it. If you don’t like the results and you keep redoing the election/referendum/whatever, it is no longer a democracy. It’s just a bunch of people or a person being autocratic and forcing everyone down the path you want them to follow. Just keep trying again til I get the result I want why don’t I?

A few countries succeed like this – like Singapore, where to all intents and purposes, one party has still resulted in a successfully run state. But that is the exception not the rule. Generally speaking when you have one party – or the illusion of other parties but everyone has to vote for that one ruling party who are destined to win anyways, it is NOT a democracy and moreover NOT  a nice place to live. I don’t see all of you moving to North Korea.

I’m not saying I’m pro Brexit at all. I’m not saying I’m against either. What I am against is people taking away a fundamental right I thought I was accessing in living in England. The idea that my vote meant something the first time. And yes, maybe this is bigger than one political party winning for a few years then getting voted out. But that’s just more proof that you should think more carefully before you put your sticky fingers on the ballot page next time. A wake up call because so many people here are complacent about their vote. And whatever the result of that ballot, that you find a positive way to move forward from it once it’s over.

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Debatable eating

I’m watching this thing on BBC about how a celeb chef is fighting obesity in Britain. He was going on about how the major cereal companies don’t put a traffic light system onto their products like supermarkets here do to warn you if an unhealthy element is in high concentration in the food. Lots of the parents with him said they used the traffic lights. I made pfff pfff sounds in the background. I tried to use it once. I landed up substituting a traffic light that said high in sugars for a ‘healthy eating’ yogurt only to discover it was stuffed full of colourants and that funny taste in my mouth was artificial sweetener. The ‘better’ product was far worse than the original. I switched instead to a low fat natural yogurt and started adding my own fruit into the mix instead.

So I was in Holland and Barratts and looking for a snack or two. This is the ultimate in ‘health food store chain’. It is the perfect one stop for vitamin supplements, wholegrain wheatgerm and manuka honey. It is also the place a sales assistant once chased me down the aisle with the enthusiasm of a true evangelist that I should eat according to my blood group to be healthy. The assistant claimed the store had trained them for this. I’m highly dubious of that. It felt more like a hari krishna had got into a Baptist church and was looking for converts- I do not mean that sacrilegiously but the guy was seriously converted to this blood group thing. Personally I refuse to follow a system that says my blood cells dictate I can’t have steak or peas or something because I’m not an O positive or whatever.

The fact of the matter is I can’t really call H&B a ‘health food’ store either. Who’s kidding who? Raisins, which I believe some Americans call ‘natures goodness in a box’ – who puts them in a box for petes’ sake! – are full of sugar. Bombay snacks are full of salt and fat…

Basically everything in moderation. Unless like me you aren’t too sure where the off switch is.

 

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Filed under Fitness, Food, modern living, shopping

Gotta love a Yankee

I was standing outside the bus stop last weekend. It was unusually warm – proper summer. These northern hemisphere people do not adjust to this. Aside from wearing dodgy inappropriate clothing to try get as much vitamin D exposure as possible, tempers fray. Partly because of transport issues but I believe the heat plays a factor. They still walk as fast as they do when it’s cold to keep warm. Then they overheat and get grumpy. They don’t realise that in hot places people just move extra slow and think extra slow when it gets too hot to literally not get hot and bothered about stuff you can do nothing about – like weather.

Anyways. The bus was there but the driver wasn’t letting us on. If they do it’s an additional health and safety thing I believe because then he is effectively taking responsibility for you on his bus even if it’s not time for the bus to go anywhere yet. You could still fall off a stationary non-moving chair and nut yourself on the bar on the way down.

These Americans came up behind me. Americans are a funny sort. They can be giving, loving, generous, friendly, intelligent. They can also sometimes be incredibly obtuse and need a few months out of their native land if they are from some small hick town to understand how the rest of the world works.

This lot had one of them singing the first line of the cartoon Spiderman theme tune over and over and over again. Like that was not annoying. They then went into a full rant about why this bus driver had the nerve to not just open the bus up and get moving now that they had arrived and were ready to go (as if he was waiting for them). That, at the very least he should let them go inside the bus to wait. Which made no sense because they were, all three, able bodied and boarding early would save maybe 30 seconds if that for them to get in and it was like a hot tin can pressure cooker in the bus so why the bus driver was even in there I don’t know. (UK municipal buses are NOT airconditioned).

They were quite loud in their rude tirade about the bus driver being a horrible man. I am sure he could hear them and this purposefully made him delay letting us on even further, especially when the one girl commented that her app said the bus should be leaving now and it clearly was not.

They then leaned over and started to comment disparagingly on the fact that I was playing Candy Crush while waiting to board (yes, this is a guilty pleasure of mine when standing around). It then occurred to me they may not realise the bus driver could hear them. Maybe they also thought he couldn’t understand them. Whether because they thought American English was a whole different language to British English or because they thought he was a foreigner. Because the way they were talking about ME certainly alluded to the fact that they thought I was either deaf or unable to interpret what they were saying. Kind of like when South Africans are stupid enough to think that if you speak Afrikaans in London noone will understand you. Well, yes. Someone will. ALWAYS. And if not perfectly, enough to understand if you are insulting them.

I was so tempted to ask these three if this was the case. But then I thought, it’s too hot to waste energy on this. And honestly, I’d just annoy myself because anyone dense enough to think people in England can’t understand your English is certainly not going to understand when they are being told off.

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Media junkie

It has occurred to me I may have repeated my thoughts while blogging. I’ve decided this is probably due to two things. One I have a very bad memory and can’t remember what I may or may not have written before.  So for that I can only apologise.

And two, my life probably just isn’t that interesting. I am therefore not on twitter and was never really that into the idea of Facebook updates even before people got paranoid that they were being stalked by various governments, terrorists and marketing agencies on it.

I just don’t have such an interesting life. I don’t think anyone really wants to see a picture of my lunch. Or the fact that I don’t travel around daily which means if I was to instagram my life there are only so many times you want to see the road I walk down or the flowerbed outside my office unless you are really into seeing how the homeless guy is doing or that the flowerbed has been weeded since last week. It would literally be like watching paint dry. While leftovers chucked out a lunchbox, even if strategically organised around a plate are still going to look like leftovers jumbled up.

As much as I’d like to therefore give up my job and just aim at meaningless reviews on the internet in pseudo ironic ways and get paid to do so, that just isn’t going to happen as a result. Then again I suppose if I didn’t have a job and that was my job I might have more time to sit in random hipster coffee shops posting pictures of the fern leaf pattern in my low fat almond milk latte, followed by hashtag great yoga sesh and snippy limited character commentary on the cat next door. (Which also isn’t going to happen as there is no cat next door. Then again, I’m not sure half the people online don’t just make stuff up occasionally as they are so busy visualising their lives through the eyes of others they may not actually be living it.)

 

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Housing crises

Housing is a hot topic in the UK. To be honest it’s always a hot topic. In the UK, in SA, everywhere. There are always a bunch of people with waaay too much space and people with not enough and moreover no running water or heat etc etc. This issue certainly dates back to the middle ages and potentially even in cave man days there were probably people with nice snug watertight caves and people crouching under trees and damp ledges waiting to be taken out by sabre tooth tigers.

The thing that gets me with this big split in a place like London or New York is we all want to live and work as close to the centre as possible (third world countries do NOT work like that). So my dear British plus one bemoans the fact that if I had my way we’d have a bijou flatlet with a little garden in a nice central location instead of a drafty big house in the countryside that takes an hour and a half to commute to work but has a mancave shed and a garage that actually has a car and not junk in it. (Brits use garages as storage for stuff rather than cars most the time).

Either way as we are not high earners we are somewhere in the middle and have neither the bijou flat or the big house but we have a few options at least. We have managed to have a balcony and we can afford the heat, lights, water and we don’t have to share with other people. (How I don’t miss house sharing!)

I feel for the people who can’t necessarily afford all this but still have jobs in the centre of town. What the wanker bankers, politicians and other well paid professionals never seem to notice are the army of invisible minimum wage people who make the city run. Not necessarily the sanitation workers who have unions and can go on strike. But the cleaners, the sandwich makers, the coffee baristas, the bartenders and waitrons who all work for the private sector and smooth over your day. I have no idea what would happen if all these people just didn’t come into work one day. If, instead of dashing off for a quick sandwich on the fly you’d have to go buy the ingredients and make your own and you’d return to a kitchenette full of rubbish as the cleaner hadn’t been in and then you’d have to just drink your beer at home because there is noone to pour it out for you.

These are the people who live 15 to a house. Who catch a train and a bus and then walk, commuting for well over an hour on the cheapest means possible to make their pennies stretch to get to work. These are the people who don’t get big bonuses and expenses paid when they treat someone to lunch.

I’m not sure how we address this injustice. I know although I think it’s unfair I’d be even more angry if these people were suddenly just given better housing when I’m still struggling to get even close to what I’d really want in life.

But that’s the thing. Life isn’t fair and if you don’t fight the good fight, well, I guess the sabre tooth tiger gets another easy lunch. On the pleb.

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Obsolete

I was debating the merits of the fax machine the other day. I was watching a tv programme where the character hilariously acquired a fax machine despite it being completely obsolete technology. And then promptly had it stolen – which in itself was diabolical because it was basically dinosaur equipment.

I am actually old enough to remember when every business had one. At the time I started work although some of the staff had email addresses, most communication and instruction that had to be written and communicated was via fax. Even in the so called first world UK I’d fill in timesheets as contracted staff and have to post them in the mail or fax them to the agency that hired me.

I realised a lot of millennials won’t even have a clue what this entails. The thermal sensitive paper. The bleeping sound of the machine as it accepted a transmission. How quickly things have changed. It’s a bit like my being unable to understand how people slaughtered their own chickens if they wanted a Sunday roast or having to pack an entire trunk of clothing and get on a ship if they wanted to cross an ocean.

The new generation all instinctively use tablets and smartphones the way I used to be able to programme a vcr, confused how the older generation didn’t ‘get’ that ‘obviously’ you just click these buttons or swipe left then right and then the machine does what you want. A colleague complained he upgraded their television and the kids ran up to it and expected it to swipe left and right to change channels, leaving grubby handmarks all across the new screen.

One can only wonder what the future will bring next. I always thought I’d keep up with it but when I look back at how rapidly things have changed, I do wonder if I’m going to be like my parents with new technology and potentially trapped in my house when I’m unable to work out how the smartlocks on the doors interact with the biometric chip in my hand!

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The difference between

The headline on the Metro paper today is the fact that an OAP defended himself against an attack by a burglar who was a known career criminal and that he stabbed the burglar. The burglar died and now his family have blanketed the fence near the pensioner’s house with floral tributes and scared the crap out of this 70+ year old man and his wife that they will retaliate against the violent death of their lovely loving family member. (To the point where the old man has moved out and gone into hiding elsewhere.)

Shocking story yes. It is bad someone died but the fact that you are condoning the fact that he was a criminal is, I personally think, unacceptable. He got killed in the line of duty so to speak – and as it was a crime, it is hardly fair you criminalise the guy who is probably suffering post traumatic stress syndrome for his pains to the point you are threatening him and pushing it in everyone’s faces this career criminal was somehow an upstanding citizen who needs to be valued via a series of floral tributes. (This is also because I don’t really ‘get’ floral tributes at scenes of death. After a week or so on a fence or lamppost you have a tatty mess of cellophane and brown yellow rotting flowers. I don’t really want to be remembered for a cluster of mess and litter personally. The flowers were, like the person you are messaging across the grave, already dead before you plonked them down because you cut them down in their prime – oh – is that the symbolism people are aiming at?)

But I digress. I got distracted by the initials OAP. I had to think for a moment what they meant. ‘Old age pensioner’. That, I thought to myself, is completely redundant. Obviously if you are a pensioner you are old. Although sometimes you are old and not a pensioner because you have to still work. Then I realised that was my third world self speaking.

In countries with less social help you generally do not consider yourself a pensioner until you reach a certain age. And at that age you hope for a state pension but you can’t really guarantee it will sustain you – you need savings/family/friends to help you get by within comfortable means.

I realised in Britain they have to put that ‘old age’ bit on because actually, they do sometimes have people who are not old but pensioned. Whether because of a disability or because they served their country or some very clever loophole allowing them to capitalise early. There are actually people who might be on pensions who are not technically ‘old’.

Despite so many years here I am still occasionally surprised by the differences in the first world and the ummmh not first world.

 

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Trashy TV

I have a secret which I don’t really like to admit. I love a bit of car crash ‘documentary’ television now and then on the sly. I was fascinated with the pure white trash value of Honey Boo Boo and was actually sad when it was cancelled – as I loved being both horrified by the family (who seemed to have a dim grasp of hygiene and food nutrition, never mind language) and enamoured by them as they managed a certain level of communication that my family is often not capable of. Not to mention they seemed to be fully aware they were complete rednecks, even going to a ‘redneck festival’ at one point.

I followed the Duggars for awhile. Their lives were horribly dull but it fascinated me they were the polar opposites of Honey Boo Boo’s family as they followed a strict Puritan lifestyle and populated the earth like rabbits believing it was ‘God’s will’ . The joys of internet downloading meaning I could fast forward the dull bits and wonder at a family so religious they don’t allow dancing or trousers/pants on their daughters (who all have to also keep long hair and never expose their shoulders) and yet the girls spend literally hours doing hair and make up. The home schooled younger children seem to live a blissful barefoot life with minimal education beyond the Bible and hands on visits to places to learn practically while many of the boys wander around like Davey Crocket Macgyver type characters. In the early episodes kids as young as nine were assigned a drill and allowed to walk in sandals to help put their house together- isn’t that child labour?

The Duggars like Honey Boo Boo have come under huge scandal lately with abuse stories and tales of rebellion rife. They really were better off before anyone hit puberty and it was all really a lot more fun when there was no real drama.

I followed some overly dramatic tattoo show at one point which was confused whether the stars of the show were the tattoos or the tattoo artists who bickered and squabbled like high school premadonnas. The body ink was interesting to see but the show was also clearly built on these highly emotion ‘reality show’ moments created which must surely have been at least partially contrived.

The latest offering I caught on Netflix in this genre this weekend was a girl based in America creating couture Japanese ‘Lolita’ style dresses and her bevvy of models and assistants. She looks young and innocent and claimed to have a boyfriend based abroad who would pop up on skype now and again. This show once again made me wonder at the star(s) of the show. There is a sort of naivety and a I-am-oblivious-to-the-camera attitude. There are hints of the models having other jobs and scraping to get by. But everyone is always immaculately attired, even after ‘all nighters’ or very coolly scruffy. And I suspect incredibly savvy. This girl probably looks younger than she is but was clearly clever enough to put together a successful business even before the show started paying her to be on it.

I wondered if her boyfriend was actually an actor too given she has been in the states for four years, when did she meet him? And his name is not particularly typical from her nation (neither was his accent to be honest). Given at least part of the show is based on her actual life it’s always good to provide a barrier between you and possible stalker types.

I debated if anyone would ever be willing to film me – or is my life just that dull? And even if they were, could I deal with all the PT in looking like I ‘just got out of bed’ but am somehow still teasingly tousled and cutely attired, not just dishevelled in an old t-shirt? I’m not saying reality tv is an easy way of making a living but ALL these shows always seem to land up at some point at a luxury spa/hotel and touring some extravagant place I could never afford. Even Honey Boo Boo. One could do worse.

 

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