Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Looking forward


How was Christmas? I hope you had a good festive break. I hesitate to use the word 'holiday', on the grounds that the rush up the the big day, seems anything but. With all the present buying, wrapping, food prep and visits; I'm glad of the down time period between then and New Years. Not that we get up to much at New Year's. In days of old, the Ever Lovely Mrs J and I would go to an alt rock club in town, but that must be nearly 20 years ago now. I'm 40+ and I'm not careful, my waist will soon match my age. :-) So year, I'm quite happy to stay at home, get the kids tucked up in bed and then retire for the evening with either a good book or a boxed set. Luckily, Xmas is good in that regard.

The Ever Lovely Mrs J was very happy with her gifts, as were Wee Man and Little Miss. Amongst the t-shirts, chocolates and boxed sets, Mrs J was kind enough to buy me some new earrings. Certainly not work suitable ;-) In a nice stroke of luck, when I took one her jumpers back, the shop let me swap it and - as the item was now on sale - they put the different on a voucher for me. Yay for good customer service!

This being the end of the year, thoughts run over what's gone before and maybe, what may come around this new year. I'm not one for resolutions, although this year, having been away (and eaten well) and then having had a very good Christmas (and eaten well, again), I think I will need to start doing more exercise and eating more healthily. Partly because it's good for me, but also because I don't like being as wide/broad as I am now. Yes, that's vanity talking, but I'm trans and shallow: so sue me ;-)

On the upside - I'll skip on the obvious joke about plus-side - the snow and the holiday has meant there's been plenty of time for long walks and a spot of sledging too. Maybe I'm just a big kid at heart, but there's something fantastic about going for a long walk through the snow. Chuck in a chance to tab it up a steep hill and sledge back down it, and I'm happy as Lara. :-)

Last night I caught a review of the year show, which had a lot of doom & gloom about it. I don't think it was the fault of the show, I wonder if this is more the news in general.... and by that I mean current events, rather than the media as a whole.

Was it ever thus? Have we always been on this Penrose-like stair loop where things seem to be going down and down? Or, is it just how things are reported and that we hone in on what's wrong, rather than looking at the achievements?

Bill Hicks once joked that after watching the American news ("AIDS! Crack! War!"), he'd opened the front door and heard nothing but the chirping of crickets. It's a bit too cold (yay snow!) for crickets right now and maybe living in one of the UK top ten boroughs (number 8), makes where I live very peaceful and quiet. Maybe I am just very lucky? If that is the case, I hope that 2015 brings you some good luck and that it is kind to you and yours.

Thanks for reading and stay safe,

Friday, December 19, 2014

Willpower, Miss Jones


A little under one more week and Christmas will have passed. All the traipsing around shops, visiting the post office and the wrapping ("The horror! The horrorrrr!" :-) ), will - I hope - have been worth it. For me, there's little that meets doing something for someone else. Either, a little bit of help, listening at the right time, or putting thought into a gift, rather than an amount. But... maybe that's just me. I know a few friends who aren't keen on Christmas, perhaps matched by a small number who are crackers over it. If you pardon the pun. So, here's a question, what, as this is a hypothetical question, would you gift yourself with? Time, something fancy, forgiveness, peace?


A little good luck has come my way, this month and I am now the proud owner of a new job. Yes, I have finally been able to move on at work. Well, at least in terms of a new title, new manager and although there's some handing over to be done,

I should be officially shot of the drudge work, I've been saddled with over the last 18 months and instead concentrating on what I was employed to do. Yes, I shall be out and about, interviewing people and listening to their needs, before putting pen to paper, to plan an IT solution for them. Sure, this may not be everyone's cup of tea, but for me, at least, it is. I'm rather looking forward to it. Maybe not as much as the comedy wish of occasional attendance, in more, preferred clothing, but it's probably best not to freak everyone out. :-)


In last time's post, I mentioned privacy and a few folk on social media - yes, I appreciate the irony :-) - had had issues about keeping their trans life out of their other life. If it's any help, there's a simple way you can do this. Actually, there's more than one, but I'll go with easy, seeing as I've got a ton of wrapping still to do and really, you probably don't come here for tips on IT :-)

For the Windows massive, if you point your browser over to PortableApps, you can find some more Internet browsers. But rather than installing them into your computer, here, you can just copy them into a folder. That browser keeps all your history, favourites/bookmarks and cookies stashed away from your main one. There's Firefox, Chrome and others, so I think there should be enough to give you an alternative to whichever you prefer to use now.

When you're done running the browser, just close it and then zip the folder up (or bury it somewhere on the system), to keep your data nice and safe. If you were feeling particularly clever, you could even keep it on a USB drive, although you may need a quick one to stop the browser slowing down.


A year or so ago.
Must resist the snacks
Talking of technology, I've put Google Fit on my phone and I'm doing what I can to keep walking at lunchtime. Having to fetch presents from various parts of town is helping, although for each mile I do, I seem to fall foul of the mince pie monsters. :-)

Clearly, some willpower is required, so that January isn't a long, hard month, after the warmth of Christmas. Best to keep busy, and think thin (I must remember the importance of a waist!).

Take care and I hope you have a fab Christmas,

Friday, December 12, 2014

Heels, hemlines and hopes...


My brain is all of a spin at the moment. It's been a little full on at home and that's even with leaving work slightly earlier than usual. There's no major drama going on - thankfully! - I think it's more just one of those evenings where it's 60mph all the way until after tea. Then we're into teeth brushing, PJs and story time.

I also had a surprise visit from a friend, Sophie, who was in the area. Having not been 100% well, she missed the Chameleons Xmas Do (more on that in a bit), but didn't want to miss saying hi before Christmas and returning the favour with the festive gifts. I'd dropped mine off last week, although one wouldn't go through the letterbox. Agh! Planning fail! :-)

Anyhoo, we had a good chat over some tea and flapjack, while the kid's pudding baked in the oven. All went well and after Sophie left, Mrs J said to me that she really didn't recognise Sophie from before at all. Clearly being full time' for two years has brought quite a change.

Talking of the Ever Lovely Mrs J, I have tried to do the right thing this Xmas and I've used my Shoe Fund Stash, towards an e-reader that I know she really wants. Yes, I love shoes and shopping, but I love her more. I can always save up again and... umm... it's not like I've not bought something at least once a month this autumn, so maybe this will help me appreciate what I do have, rather than looking towards items I don't really need. Christmas and all that. :-)

Xmas Do

Squeezed between work parties and children's school plays, the Chameleon Group had their annual Christmas party. Luckily for us, it fell in December (yay!) and it was also our last meeting of the year (boo!).

Lots of people turned up, so the place was very busy. It was great to see some of the new people back again and also the regulars too. The tables had been nicely decorated with tablecloths and nightlights. Plus, a large table of food had been laid out for everyone to nibble at, as the evening went by.

I'd had an early evening pass as Little Miss needed to be dropped off for her last performance. I was lucky enough to see her singing in the school production the night before and although she's tired from a series of late nights (normally she's in bed by 8PM), she said she loved it. At the Xmas party, this put some of us on into talking about school plays and whatnot.

Outfit-wise.... I had packed my red dress and a selection of heels / shoe boots. I have gone back to my red/ginger/strawberry blonde (!) wig as I'm finding the cut more forgiving. That and a few people have said nice things about it, so that's convinced me to stay on this route for a time. I guess ideally, I'd like hair (!) a little darker, so I'm wondering if any of you have had a wig restyled and cut. If so, how did it go?

I also, took a risk in buying some sequin skorts. Yes, skorts. For some time, I've thought about getting some short shorts for a Christmas outfit because who doesn't like a bit of sparkle at this time of year? Heels, hemlines and hopes are high in December. I saw some at a knock down price and after a talking myself out of buying them.... I then threw caution to the wind and thought I'd give them a go. Hell, if they didn't work for me, I could always send them back right?

I don't often wear short skirts because I'm in my early 40s and I'm conscious that I don't want to look tarty. Seriously, this is a worry I have. I also, don't want to look like a spinster from Downtown Abbey. Go figure. But regardless of crossing a particular personal line in the sand, I felt pleased with them and the evidence is to the right.

Why am I sat down? Well, I've got my back straight and given the extra weight I've put on recently, it's the most flattering picture I have from the evening. I know, we're our own worse critics. I was saying as much to Kim earlier. I really must start eating more healthily and watching my weight.... rather than watching it go up, which isn't helping. But much as I'm getting to be at risk from drive-by attacks by Japanese whalers, I think the diet is going to have to wait until after the 25th December.

But, despite my grumbling, on the night, I was happy with my look and I felt confident all evening. I felt the night was a great close to the year and our next meeting is in January 2015.

Take care,

Obligatory skort close up

Friday, December 05, 2014

What price privacy?

Hi folks,

Unusually for me, I've been away this week. I don't tend to travel much with work, well, other than the occasional short journey between offices. This time, however, a work-mate and I were off down south for a two day technical workshop. It was very good to be both out of the office, and doing my old job: that of designing solutions and making things better. Much better than making things more complicated, but that's by the by.

My overnight bag was, oddly, considerably smaller than the Thursday night bag I usually take. Just a shirt, some smalls, spare trousers and a wash kit. Compare that to the Full Mary that gets packed - nay, crammed? - into a much larger bag every other week. Either I'm not as fussy in bloke mode, or I find it easier. That, or perhaps a bloke's wardrobe is easier to put together. Less patterns, darker colours, etc, but maybe I'm stereotyping. (Ed: and that's not using the keyboard with both hands)

Who holds the key?
While away, I got talking to one of the system builders and we got into a chat about how people treat their privacy. Take for example this blog, it's public and I've revealed some personal facts about myself (depression, early life, struggling with being trans, etc) and yet, paradoxically, it's also a private space. Something hidden in the noise of the Internet and very much away from my home and work life.

So too do others, maybe not so much with blogs, although that happens to, but their personal data. People happily upload information into social media, photo sharing sites, or file synchronisation systems, without looking too deeply into the small print.

There's also a generational aspect to it, or, at least, that's what the software wizard explained. It seems the younger folk, or sometimes, tech folk too, are less worried about their privacy. Perhaps, having become used to technology, or maybe not as fussed over it, they happily sign up and use the service, trading their data and location for a 'free' service. At odds to that, are those less used to the technology, or those who wish to hang on to their private information.

Conversation drifted and I was reminded of a Radio Four programme, in which an academic researcher spoke about the concepts of privacy. The two extremes being your ability to lock everything away, against that of total openness. The idea of the latter, well, that gave me a brief jolt of fear. And then, pausing the playback, as I queued in the traffic, I wondered, what would life be like it we didn't have, or attempt to keep, the privacy to the level we do now. Who would be shocked by my dual life? Would anyone care? Would I care? If enough people - part-timers, like me - were out, would it be less of a thing? Would the gossip run dry more quickly? Met with a shrug or a nod, something as unsurprising as a day out in the park.

I read on a t-blog last month, the author merging their two social media profiles and the non-event it seemed to cause. Sure, there will always be the small-minded, but as we (hopefully) move on as a society, and indeed, as a race, are we reaching a tipping point were being trans just isn't a big deal any more? It is more that we make a big deal of it, struggling to work out how it applies to us and what it means for our lives?

Answers on a postcard to the usual address.

Take care,