Friday, January 30, 2015

Question time

Hi folks,

I put off writing a post this evening. It's one of those... two minds sort of things. Instead, I *ahem* busied myself reading what other people have been up to, checked social media and played a computer game or two. If there is one thing I can do well, it's putting things off. I would probably get a medal in it, although they'd have to post it, because I probably wouldn't have turned up. :-)

[ time passes and the delete key gets used a lot ]

So, yeah. I did write something, but it's related to an event at my work and right now, it's a little too personal to put up on this old blog. Maybe my paranoia is acting up a little, or maybe I think this isn't the right forum to discuss matters. Whichever it is, I'm going to let this pass and move on. Not that there's been any great injustice, moreover, it's work gossip and that may not be of interest. There, I've waffled around the subject and there's my silver medal lined up. Just don't ask for an acceptance speech :-)

Instead, I'm going to say this: ask me a question in the comments and I'll do my best to answer.

If you'd like to keep it anon, there's a button for that. I do reserve the right to keep other people's privacy, so there will be no real names or family details revealed. Other than anything too rude, I think anything goes.

Take care,

Friday, January 23, 2015

What is it to be a man?


Well, that's the first week in the new job, in the bag. So far, so good, which makes for a very nice change. Sure, the pace is a little more frantic, but there's more doing than to-ing & fro-ing, which, for me at least, is a good thing. Fingers crossed the good luck continues for a little longer.

Thursday was my bi-monthly big night out and despite leaving a little later than usual, the traffic pixies were with me and I wasn't too late arriving. I caught up with friends and conversation ranged from how people are doing, to another research group request and a question around 'how do blokes behave?' Well, perhaps the blokes at Chams are not the best source of advice on the latter. :-)

Typical bloke's night out at Chams
Pic by Val.
How do regular men behave? Well, as Alison pointed out, there are stereotypical behaviours that some blokes do, but that's more a pastiche, rather than an accurate description of what it is to be a man. As far as I know, most of the menfolk in my family and my workmates, aren't trans; and while there is the occasional episode of drinking, very mild laddishness and occasional roving eye; everyone is much more than just a bunch of lazy pin-the-tag-on-the-geezer.

My father-in-law loves watching sport and does a bit of gardening to stop the back of the house looking like a jungle. My Dad doesn't watch any sport and is a keen gardener. Both of them love reading, eating out and gadgets.

My workmates are IT folk, so there's an element of gadgetry, tinkering with technology, but that's not their main characteristics. They all have a very good sense of humour (I know, IT folk eh? :-P), two love cooking, one jogging, one reading, one very heavy metal and another football and dog walking.

Even if I reverse right back and try and bunch them into a Venn diagram of generic tags, it's very tricky. I mean, and if you forgive a reiteration of my glib comment about not being the best example of a bloke, what is it to be male in today's world? We're meant to be gentlemen, at least, if you're British. I'd say if my Dad taught me just one thing, it's that manners and politeness cost nothing.

I've read that men are supposed to be more caring. Take a look at the whole New Man media hype in the 90s and then the more appearance focused sibling, the Metrosexual, about a decade later. I'm not sure about either label: to me it means I've got a little more social acceptance to cry during kids films and not be ribbed for using an exfoliator and moisturising. :-)

I've heard that men are angrier than women and maybe that's true. Maybe it's more a case that men feel they can express their anger more freely than women. I don't know. I don't work closely enough with a number of women to make a call on that. Maybe we're all people when it comes down to it and the labels we stick on ourselves, or that are stuck to us, are just that. Labels that will come off in the wash, or, like clothes, change when we get home, or go out.

Whichever way you want to be, stay safe. :-)

Take care,

Friday, January 16, 2015

White Lies


Another week rolls by eh? Well, a strangely short and long week for Muggins here. Short because I've just had one day at work. Long, because I was off sick with some cold virus that put me flat out. I must have been proper poorly, as I didn't open the shoe cupboard once. ;-)

What I'd hoped would be a two day cold, you know the sort: a drippy nose, a bout of sneezing and before you can say Hot Bath & Beechams, it's over and done with. Immune System, one. Virus, nil. But not this time! Oh no. Each day was a new variety as the virus decided to ditch the old and switch to something new! So, we had a day with blocked ears, then a cough, before moving on to chills and excessive sleeping. Hmm, actually, the latter might just be me :-)

Anyway, it's all over now, well, bar the 50 A Day voice rumble and all things considered, four days off from work was a long stretch for me. BTW, I read the other day that our American cousins don't all qualify for paid sick leave. This seems insane to me! Is this true?

Being housebound, I did catch up with reading, a film or two, but mostly, just resting and wondering when I'd feel well enough to go back to work. Oh, I start my new job next week. #HappyDance!

A War on Who Exactly...?

In other news, I caught Russell Brand's programme on BBC3 about drugs and the UK laws surrounding them. I find the social reasons of recreational drug use - and I'll include alcohol and smoking in this - on people, fascinating. Just this week, the radio (R4?) were reporting how the NHS were amending their few on what constitutes a drink problem. I think this was more than 3/4 of a bottle of wine for men, or 1/2 a bottle of win for women, is now classed as problematic.

On to other drugs and although I've never been an addict - thankfully (luckily?) - I have sympathy for those who fall into that trap. Perhaps I'm too much of a softly-softly liberal, to think that putting people away helps, rather than doing something to help them resist taking such substances? The reasons for drug use, and addiction, are varied and are no doubt better documented, than I'd do in a couple of paragraphs.

I haven't self medicated. No, not even with a credit card and a shoe catalogue. :-) In the darker days of my depression, I slept an awful lot. It seemed that some days, I just could not keep my eyes open and given five minutes, I would nod off. I know of some friends who suffered under the Black Cloud, as it were, who drank or smoked. I don't know if they took anything illegal or not. If they did, that's their business and I wouldn't judge them for it either. I might try and help them not take it, but that's another story.

So where am I going with this? Given the above 'dark times', I can see how you might want something to numb you. Indeed, an old college friend was a secret drinker. He would regularly put away a small bottle of vodka for his nerves. Ironically, when he was sober, he was charming, witty and good company. The drink may have numbed his fears, but he was an arse, when tanked.

Going back to the BBC3 programme, some of the findings from decriminalising some drugs (Portugal plus others), and not to mention various UK think tanks / science papers, they all seem to point rather strongly to relaxing our prohibition stance. Yet, our Government, and indeed the ones before the current, seem uninterested into doing so.

What are you views on this? Is it better to ban what's dangerous? Or better to legalise, regulate and ensure quality in what people are taking?

Take care,

Friday, January 09, 2015

"Hope will never be silent."

Hi everyone,

First off, happy new year. Yes, I know we're a week or so into it, but better late than never. The observant amongst you will notice that I didn't post anything last time. Not that this is a paid for service - and that's quite possibly a good thing, given the quality :-). It was a combination of not having much to say, not have been up to much and I was very much enjoying watching a film with the kids.

My, they are growing up quickly, which - as a friend, Val, once said - they do do that. :-) Wee Man is mid way through his first year at secondary school and seems to have settled in okay. Little Miss is midway through primary school and her confidence is brilliant. At the Christmas party, most of the girls went in Disney Frozen inspired outfits, or party dresses. Little Miss? Jeans, kick-ass boots and an punky anime t-shirt. There may be trouble ahead... :-)


Thursday was the first Chameleons meeting of the year and after a whirlwind spin of baths and bedtime stories, I was off to get fab and catch up with friends. I had over packed, in that with two pairs of boots (knee boots + biker boots), I was struggling to zip up my travel bag. Like the ingress of yummy food, I'm going to have to cut down a little.

Talking of the latter, I've installed Google Fit to my phone - Hell, Google's tracking my extra move as it is - and it's working well in keeping track of how much walking I'm doing. I'm managing to get an hour, sometimes an hour plus of walking a day. Mix that in without any serious dieting and a low cal lunch, and I've lost a little bit of weight this week. I guess I'm impatient and would like to see the pounds come off as quickly as they seemed to have gone on! Still, you can't eat your cake and stay svelte.

Yay for corsets
and padding
Despite having over-packed, I ended up wearing what I'd originally decided on (see snap). The Centre seems to be being redecorated at the mo, so there's a far bit of paint about. After last time's shots of people, I got the Big Sheet of Shame out once more and took a few photos of the unusual suspects. Val was kind enough to take a few snaps of yours truly (thanks Mrs!) and now I've got to remember to email those who's picture I took. Alison was kind enough to offer some advice on my necklace choice and I had chance to wear my new earrings, which the Ever Lovely Mrs J bought me for Christmas, bless her.

After that, it was a case of tidying up, remembering to turn the extra heaters off and get changed. As I've now got a key to lock the place up, it's not so much of a rush, although ironically, we packed up slightly earlier than before. I did take a chance to try a new outfit, but I'm not 100% sure yet. Perhaps a patterned top would help?


Over the Christmas period, I've been reading some beauty blogs and watching a few 'how do' videos on YouTube. I'm rather enjoying London Beauty Blog at the mo and the author's articles are just up my street. I put two of her tips to the test last night and was pleased with both.

The first was how to apply YSL Touche Eclait (apply as a highlight, not all under your eye and blend blend blend). I was lucky to spot that make-up classic on an Amazon sale and that was too good to miss.

The second tip was to apply your mascara in stages. Previously, I've always done all my make-up - well, bar my lip liner and lippy (lip liner rules.... well, so long as it matches your lippy!) - and done one coat of mascara and left it. This time, I followed the advice and did one coat, then sorted my blush, highlighter, etc, before coming back a second and thinking about a third. I did think this might make it look a bit piled on / dead spiders, but it didn't. I felt my lashes take on a better curve and if anything, they were far less clumpy than usual. I shall be sticking with this approach from now on.

In an effort to get some bounce back into Old Ginge, I found myself applying rollers to my old wig. I guess next time I'll be thinking of a hairnet and going to the shops in my slippers.... or is that a bit too Northern? :-)


In other news, I've got a new job. Well, a new one at my current employer (which keeps the pension and working conditions on track nicely). We've had a reorganisation and despite my best efforts and fighting against the process, for the last two years, it's felt like my job was continually being dumbed down. Anyway, regardless of giving what I felt was a crap presentation, I was successful and I move to a new office and new team (with some work mates), at the end of the month.

Last summer, I was involved in a big project, which let me do what I love doing. Organising, chairing meetings and building solutions. That put a spring back in my step and - as I said to my new boss - I came to work with a smile on my face. I was keen, eager and happy. Those who know me, will know that's not my usual outlook. :-)

So while it's been the first week back at work after a long Christmas break, I am for the first time in a long time, hopeful. I am looking forward to the new role. I know it will be tough at times, they'll be a learning curve and I know my old boss won't want me to slip away easily. Not that he's a Pointy Haired Boss (see Dilbert), he's not got staff to fill the gaps yet and it's best not to burn your bridges.

Hope. Hope is good.

Take care,

[ Today's quote is from Harvey Milk ]