Wednesday, 18 January 2017

Over-reacting?

I don't tweet or twitter myself but here are some twitter-tweet reactions I found to Theresa May 's speech outlining her Brexit plans:

  •  "I want access to your snooker club but I won't pay for entry. I'll need to borrow your cues. And I want to play pool instead"- T. May 
  •  "I do not seek membership of Shoreditch House but seek the greatest possible access to it." 
  • ‪#TheresaMay‬: "I wanna break up because I hate you" EU: "If that's what you want" Theresa: "But like we're still best friends right?"‪#Brexit‬ 
Who'd be a politician, eh?

But I suppose she can take comfort in appearing in the American edition of Vogue. This is happening in April, I understand. According to stuff I have read, our Prime Minister 'has been very open about her love of fashion and a recent article in Vogue praised her bold fashion choices, including leopard-print kitten heels and statement jewellery, saying she was already “pushing the boundaries of prime ministerial attire.”'

Maybe if it all goes truly pear-shaped on her she can join Sam Cam in her fashion venture!

Meanwhile on the other side of the world, someone is having difficulty organising an inauguration. The Bruce Springsteen cover band set to perform at Donald Trump’s upcoming presidential inauguration has cancelled its performance out of “respect and gratitude for Bruce.” I did wonder, when I first heard they were performing, how someone who as enough of a Springsteen fan to make a tribute band could even consider playing his songs at a Trump event!

Maybe they should just skip the razzamatazz and declare him president quietly. However, I think someone who has a golden lift in his tower wouldn't like to do it that way.

Is there a special term for fear of not being given enough attention?

Here are some nice phobia words I came across:


  • Eremophobia - fear of being alone. It comes from the same root as "hermit", someone who actually chooses to be alone. 


  • Brontophobia - fear of thunder. From the Greek for thunder. A brontosaurus was a thunder lizard! how good is that? 


  • Kakorrhaphiaphobia - surprisingly, not the fear of unpronounceable words but fear of failure. The Greek word kakorrhaphia means a clever or devious plot or plan, derived from kakos, meaning bad or evil. There you go! 


  • Ophidiophobia - fear of snakes. The root for this also gives us the very pleasing word ophiomorphic, meaning "snakelike in form". 


That's enough of that. i am beginning to develop phobophobia - fear of developing an irrational fear of phobias.

Monday, 16 January 2017

Beating the blues!

Today is Blue Monday. It must be true. I read it in the Guardian newspaper. Every third Monday in January (except when someone decides it's going to be the second Monday) is dubbed Blue Monday, the most depressing day in the year. Well, here it's more of a Grey Monday; the cloud has come down and my first thought was that someone had STOLEN my Monday.  

Mind you, if I wanted to feel blue, I could simply read even more stuff about Donald Trump in his interview with Michael Gove. I'm sure they got along famously. I stopped with Trump's opinion on Brexit - a good thing, in his opinion, and an example likely, indeed recommended by Trump, to be followed by other European countries - and his analysis of why it happened: 

“People, countries, want their own identity and the UK wanted its own identity. But I do believe this: if they hadn’t been forced to take in all of the refugees, so many, with all the problems that it … entails, I think that you wouldn’t have a Brexit.”  

When did we take in too many refugees and who forced us to do it? Can we cope with four years of political analysis of this calibre?  

Anyway, back to Blue Monday: I would like some days of a better colour. They all seem to be blue or black at the moment and all of the colour-specific days are to do with spending money. Blue Monday, it seems, was invented some ten years or so ago as part of an advertising campaign for a travel company. The idea was that you could cheer up the January Blues (there you go, a whole month this time!) by booking a holiday. And since then the concept has been used to persuade us to buy clothes, shoes, cars and just about anything you choose to name.   

Has anyone used it to promote the sales of books? I wonder! When you buy clothes to cheer you up, you just end up with less space in your wardrobe and, in some people's wardrobes that means clothes which are never worn and years later still have the price label on them! Even though buying books also adds to your clutter collection, at least on a grey day in January if you have a new book to read you can have a bit of instant escapism. Just curl up in your favourite chair and start reading! And it's cheaper than a cruise!  

Another way to escape the blues is "hutting". Basically, this is having a hut to which you can escape and think and write or be creative in your own chosen fashion. One of the posh names for a hut is a "bothy". Lots of famous people had them: Roald Dahl, Dylan Thomas, Virginia Wolfe. Gabriel Oak in Hardy's "Far from the Madding Crowd" had one. And now, thanks to some change in Scotland's building regulations, more people will be able to build huts, and even go and live in them, where previously they were not allowed to do so.  

Where better to indulge in a bit of Danish "hygge" (basic meaning: snug cosiness) with friends, or presumably on your own with the good book I mentioned earlier? And you can eat lots of organic food, being "folkeligt". This is apparently the latest buzzword to come from Denmark, where half the population eat organic food, a much higher proportion than in the UK. They really like organic stuff over there. This is something that I read the other day: "The extent to which Danes have embraced organics is captured by Økodag, or Organic Day, in the spring when almost a quarter of a million people don wellies to witness the so-called “dancing cows” as the animals rush back into fields to graze after the long winter."

Now, I bet that has got rid of some Blue Monday blues!

Sunday, 15 January 2017

Media stuff I gleaned while multi-tasking

Today is as grey and gloomy as promised by the weathermen. So it is a day to stay in and do indoor stuff, such as reading the paper, listening to the radio and knitting, all at the same time.

So while reading the paper I have been half-listening to the Food Programme on the radio, where somebody (I wasn't totally concentrating so I have no idea who she was) said she had a WWII binocular case which is exactly the right size to fit two champagne flutes in. Who knew this was possible? Another kind of recycling I suppose. She carries champagne flutes around with her, presumably in connection with her work. I assume this as she went on to talk about how cider should no longer be regarded as just something teenagers drink in bus shelters but should be recognised as sparkling apple wine! Okay!

Quote from the Food Programme: "People eat with their eyes. Food should be beautiful". I'm in total agreement with that. This is why I take photos of food when I eat out.

The wonderful Giorgio Locatelli is one of the judges for the Food Programme's food awards for this year. His Italian accent is absolutely delightful.

Now for the serious stuff. Here's a comment on the power of the media. The lunchtime news on the radio has interviews with people in the USA about the car industry there. Much was made at the time of the wonder of Trump persuading Ford not to transfer more of its car-making to Mexico but keep it in Detroit. Doing good stuff before he was even in office! According to some workers there, however, this move was already underway before Trump put in his two-penn'orth. Much of it comes down to Americans buying fewer small cars (built in Mexico) and more SUVs and other large cars (better built in the USA). One speaker maintained that Car manufacturers wanted to get stuff done before Trump could claim it as his achievement. But then he tweeted about it and claimed the credit anyway. People believe what they see on social media.

Similar stuff, and more frightening is apparently going on with opinions about the holocaust. Holocaust denier David Irving is getting a lot of attention from teenagers, especially in the States according to this article. Some of this is down to Google, which has been criticised because searches for information about the holocaust tended to direct seekers to holocaust denial sites, such as David Irving. Irving himself claims that the young people are simply seeking the truth!

Nowadays it seems that truth, like beauty, is in the eye of the beholder!

Saturday, 14 January 2017

Out and about!

Despite a rather gloomy start to the day - lots of cloud and a hint of sleet - the weathermen proved to be right and the day improved. So I decided to put aside the other types of gloom and nonsense that are around:-  

  • Russian troops massing in Poland near the Russian border. Who decided that?   
  • Trumps nominees seeming to be against his interpretation of things. 
  • The general craziness of Trump.   
  • Is Putin causing chaos? Is Trump causing his own chaos?  
  •  Our transport secretary opening his car door and knocking a cyclist over and then some time later declaring more or less that cyclists are not in fact road users. What are they? Cycle path users? Certainly not pedestrians!
  • A yoga teacher being arrested, apparently for "preaching religion", under a new Russian law intended to combat terrorism.    
  • And the nonsense of fashion sweatshirts costing around £700 and yet displaying the hammer and sickle logo.    
So, as Phil was off playing chess somewhere and tomorrow promises rain, rain and more rain, I wanted to take advantage of the sunshine. It did cross my mind that I might jump on a bus and go for a stomp around a nearby reservoir. However, by the time I had done some washing up and tidying up, made a few phone calls and accomplished other small but time-consuming tasks, I realised that I would probably get there in time for the sun to go over the hill.  So I walked the long way round to the local Tesco: along the Donkey Line and then via the top road that looks down on Uppermill and goes past the golf course. 


I was advised by one helpful soul that parts of the Donkey Line were very icy. Like glass, he told me. He exaggerated! Nothing like as icy as the occasion some years ago when our granddaughter, then 13, and a friend walked home from school that way in seriously unsuitable shoes and took well over an hour to cover a twenty minute stretch! Parts of it were very muddy today though.   

Lots of people seemed to be using the top road as an alternative to driving through Uppermill itself. I kept having to flatten myself into the banking to,avoid being crushed on this narrow road, really not built for today's large vehicles. Fortunately for them, they all seemed to be going in the same direction. No difficult reversing today!  

On the golf course, the greens had turned into whites. Does anyone even play golf in the snow? Maybe with coloured golf balls! possibly that explains the number of cars on the road. Perhaps they had all gone up to the golf club and decided against a game after all.  

And so I stomped along, picked up some stuff at Tesco and then totally mistimed the buses back. Fortunately I was not carrying much so I chose not to wait at a cold bus stop.  

A longer walk than intended but, boy, did I feel virtuous!

Friday, 13 January 2017

Getting away from the snow!

Well, the promised snow finally arrived sometime yesterday evening. A young friend, who lives a bit closer to the snow-line and gets rather more, deeper and earlier snow than we do was posting her hopes that today could be a snow day. She works in a school and was hoping that her place of work would be closed because of students' difficulty/inability to get there. Today is bright and cold and it looks a bit like a Christmas card out there but I don't think it merits closing the area down.

 

My daughter, however, tells me she has not sent her children to school; there were no buses first thing and she did not want to take them by car only to be told an hour later to go and collect them as the school was closing. Inevitably she has heard form them since, letting he know that her children have been marked absent. this despite her having sent a message explaining the situation. sometimes you can't win.

Maybe my  posting friend just wanted to stay home and watch tv. A little bit of binge-watching never did anyone any harm. Not that I have heard about as yet anyway. No doubt, some time soon somebody publish an article about the problem of addiction to box sets!

I like the way binge has progressed from simply meaning over-eating to overindulging in all sorts of things. The British became famous for binge-drinking, usually in an embarrassing fashion in Mediterranean holiday resorts but also at home on a Saturday night! And now we have binge-watching, a development I find strange when you take into account that films are rarely over 90 minutes long because they think people won't sit and watch something for much longer than that.

On the radio last night they discussed this phenomenon. Really they were reviewing a new Netflix series, The AO, the story of a young woman who disappears and then returns home seven years later with mysterious new abilities and a secret mission in mind. An interesting feature is that the episodes are all different lengths. The maker of the series was getting very excited about being free from the constraints of working for mainstream television where all episodes have to be 59 minutes so that they can fit into the drama slot before the ten o'clock news.

In the course of the programme they discussed the fact that more drama is watched via Netflix or similar streaming than on mainstream television. This is the new mode. You can watch as much as you exactly want when you want. Some people even set their television to record the whole of a drama series, broadcast in the traditional way, and do not watch any of it until the whole series is finished precisely so that they can watch watch it the new way. And it's not just a matter of watching a couple of episodes at a time. The thing to do is the set yourself up with supplies of snacks and then watch a whole series in one fell swoop.

Now that is what I all escapism! Binge-escapism?

Thursday, 12 January 2017

Waiting for the snow!

I looked at the sleety rain falling first thing this morning and decided to forego my morning run and do some yoga indoors instead. Later Facebook reminded me that several years ago on this date I had posted something about going out into the wind and wet. So my younger self was obviously braver and more determined or more stupid and foolhardy, depending on your point of view, than the current me.

Still waiting for the forecast snowmageddon to arrive, I realised late in the morning that I was going to have to go out and into the town centre for a couple of things. Fortunately just as I was about to set off for the bus my daughter rang to say she was on her way back from some kind of baby class (baby massage, baby sensory development or something of that kind - she is thoroughly enjoying her maternity leave and taking part in all sorts of stuff of this nature) and asked if it was all right to pop in for a cuppa. So I persuaded her to pick me up at the bus stop and accompany me to town. Inevitably this involved my paying for a couple of items for her but, hey, isn't that what retired parents with a reasonable pension are for? At some point in the future she can pay for stuff for me. What goes around comes around!

Going around was what we did. As the weather is decidedly inclement we opted for the shopping centre carpark rather than one which would involve our walking through the wet and windy stuff. It's a while since we have been to that carpark, probably a few years in fact, and in the interim the tram system has come through the town centre, causing havoc with the one-way system. Two grown-up people ended up driving round the whole of the centre at least one and a half times before we found the carpark entrance. So it goes!

Having returned with my purchases, I took a look at the papers online and found celebrity chef Jay Rayner, possibly one of the most down to earth of his type, having a little rant about food fads. This is what he had to say about gluten-related stuff: "People claiming to be gluten intolerant still make me want to hit things. You’re not gluten intolerant. That bloated feeling you have when you eat too much bread is because you’ve eaten too much bread. Stop it. You’re just a picky eater trying to control the world around you through food and, in the process, making life harder for people who are genuinely coeliac." Quite so!

How refreshing to have someone pointing out that pasteurised milk is really a good thing and that it is pretty silly to talk about transporting seawater to pizza-making places, a practice that is supposed to make pizza taste better! Who knew that? He went on a bit about different types of sugar as well: the bottom line is that too much sugar of any kind is going to be bad for you.

I would consider adding to his list of things to get annoyed about health-food shops selling in their range of "healthy" snacks chocolate covered nuts and raisins, something I saw recently. Nuts and raisins, yes, ok, but why do they need to be chocolate covered. You might as well just buy a fruit and nut chocolate bar!

And then I came across a story about a rabbit enthusiast, Dorota Trec, accused of animal cruelty for "hoarding" 176 rabbits on a vacant lot in Brooklyn. It all began with one pet rabbit, Snowflake. “By having this one rabbit for 10 years, I noticed how special rabbits are,” she says. “They are really outstanding and cannot even compare to dogs and cats. The day he died [in 2010], I realized that not only did I miss him as a friend, but something clicked in me: I’m a rabbit girl and that I will have rabbits forever.” Ms Trec had found her destiny and she started rescuing rabbits from butchers and slaughterhouses. She tried to keep male and female rabbits separate. Really!? How optimistic was she? Inevitably they bred like, well, like rabbits.

The local community took an interest and people used to go and visit her "sanctuary". When a local paper ran a story about her rabbits, it drew the attention of Natalie Reeves, an attorney and founder of the Big Apple Bunnies rabbit advocacy Facebook group. (Is there really such a thing as Big Apple Bunnies rabbit advocacy?) And that was that. Investigation followed and Dorota Trec faces the possibility of two years in prison.

Now, I would never hurt an animal but really, I ask you, are there not more important things to get worked up about? Some would say that both Dorota Trec and Natalie Reeves should get out more. 

And snowmageddon has still not arrived!

Wednesday, 11 January 2017

Windy cities and hot air!

The wind woke me up in the night. I had to shut the window so that I could get back to sleep. A young friend of mine has been posting on Facebook that he wants the wind to get strong enough for them to shut down public transport so he can go home early. Do they even do that? Does high wind mean buses and trams and trains around Manchester have to stop running? I thought that was just snow!

We retired people, who do not have to worry about getting to and from work, whether on public transport or in private cars, took ourselves out for a walk in the wind. It might be windy but it has been gloriously sunny, although very cold. (No sign of the promised snow as yet!) The wind turbines have been clattering away nineteen to the dozen.

Meanwhile the Netherlands have been boasting about being the first country to run 100% of its electric trains on wind energy. Clever people these Dutch! I think they may be among the few European countries who do not seem to subsidise their railways through profit from running ours. Maybe we should invite them to take over.

Of course, some of the people who have posted the news about the Dutch use of wind energy have received some negative comments, such as this one:

 "Yea, I'm afraid I must burst this bubble. But the train connection in the east of the Netherlands is run by Syntus and Arriva, and considering there is no network there when it comes to the electricity (it is simply not there yet), I can tell this is BS. (between Zevenaar and Winterswijk + between Ede-Wageningen and Amersfoort is definitely on petrol).

Also Dutch trains are notoriously late with s***e service and expensive.

This story is feelgood lies that we only wished was true."

Maybe such commenters should read the whole thing. It doesn't say 100% of trains but 100% of ELECTRIC trains!

Stop and think before you react! A lesson to be taken to heart by all sorts of people.

On the other side of the world, we have an outgoing president making reasoned and reasonable speeches of farewell. Here's an excerpt from a news report:

 “In 10 days the world will witness a hallmark of our democracy,” Obama said. That elicited some boos, but he pressed on: “The peaceful transfer of power from one freely elected president to the next.” Now there was applause. “I committed to president-elect Trump that my administration would ensure the smoothest possible transition, just as President Bush did for me.”

And at the same time an incoming president has been saying that the intelligence services are rubbish and that, of course, the Russians have nothing on him. Apparently he still believes Putin is his big buddy!

And Hollywood is mounting a defence of Meryl Streep. Robert De Niro sent her a letter:

"Meryl –

What you said was great. It needed to be said, and you said it beautifully. I have so much respect for you that you did it while the world was celebrating your achievements. I share your sentiments about punks and bullies. Enough is enough.

You, with your elegance and intelligence, have a powerful voice – one that inspires others to speak up as they should so their voices will be heard too. It is so important that we ALL speak up.

We love you.

Bob."

And George Clooney has been responding to somebody's tweets: "Aren’t you supposed to be running the country?”

He's trying to talk sense to people:

“We have to get back to talking and telling the truth, understanding that not everybody is an enemy, and that not all people who voted for Donald Trump are bigots – not even the overwhelming number of people who voted for Donald Trump? They’re disenfranchised, they’re mad, they’re losing their jobs.”

Our politicians need to learn some sense too. We have to be careful not to be blown away by it all.