Posted in Books, Health Issues, Videos

Humming to Myself on a Grey Day

Snippet from my private diary…

16 June 2018

Another grey and rainy day.

The song in my head: Colours (Donovan). Blue is the colour of the sky, ay, ay, in the morning, when we rise, that’s the time, that’s the time, I love the best. Freedom is a word I rarely use without thinking, mm hm, without thinking, uh huh, of the time, of the time, when I’ve been loved.

Have watched a YouTube video already:

The EU Are Trying to Ban My YouTube Channel [Politics UK]

Politics UK is Stephen Edginton, a young fellow who interviews people across the UK and wider Europe… ordinary people in the street as well as politicians. He was talking about Article 13 and is really keen that we all write to our MEPs.

Have just bought a book called ‘Lost Connections’ (by Johann Hari) from Amazon. Renatha (is that the right name?) was talking about it in her blog, and it sounds good. I can’t read it yet, but it’s in my reading queue.

Here’s a bit of the blurb:

“What really causes depression and anxiety – and how can we really solve them? Award-winning journalist Johann Hari suffered from depression since he was a child and started taking anti-depressants when he was a teenager. He was told that his problems were caused by a chemical imbalance in his brain. As an adult, trained in the social sciences, he began to investigate whether this was true – and he learned that almost everything we have been told about depression and anxiety is wrong.”

Then I discovered from another video that sometimes the helpless bees who need saving are humans:

The kind-hearted whale

I love it. 🙂

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Posted in Dreams and Nightmares, Life and Family, Observations, Reluctant Landlord

New Beginnings

She moved on — the friend I talked about in Kablooie.

I already knew we were finished. No deal is better than a bad deal, and I wasn’t going to put up with any more. I thought it might be possible to pull back just enough to allow the friendship to drift away without further hurt feelings and angry words, but she chose to end it formally.

Well, she is right — a clean break is best. I can now be who I want to be without questioning myself and feeling dragged down. We were good for each other in the past and had a few things in common, but ultimately we became incompatible.

The following isn’t connected, but lately I’ve had trouble keeping my private diary going. It was hopping along in fits and starts, but I’ve been trying again in a different app. An edited version follows:

Sunday 10 June 2018

I have a mental barrier against journalling. I keep thinking, “not now… maybe later,” and end up watching videos in YouTube. I was watching a video about Ambien by Scott Adams, creator of Dilbert, and in one of the comments underneath was a short list of things with addictive qualities — video games, social media and YouTube! Maybe that’s what happened to me. The commenter said potent, short-acting ‘drugs’ are the ones that get you addicted.

Monday 11 June 2018

I’m definitely at war with myself when it comes to this diary. I really want to write it, and there’s constant chatter in my head about the things I want to say, but then when it comes to writing, I don’t want to. Perhaps I’ve got tired of actually expressing my thoughts about everything.

I dreamed a while ago that the tenant’s wife came to us and said for a long time she hadn’t been able to pay the full rent, so had been paying only part of the rent every month, and nobody even noticed. She now had all the funds and would be able to pay back what she still owed me, though we’d need to plan it out so she could pay back gradually. The agents instantly flew into a passion, saying that wasn’t within the terms of my lease and she should have been upfront with us from the beginning. When I woke in the morning I felt very uncomfortable and thought to myself “I never dream about the tenants! Why would I do so now?” I thought of writing it down in my diary but worried it might tempt fate, so I didn’t.

About a month after that dream, I got an email from the agency saying the tenant had been in touch to say he’d lost his job and could we discount the rent? The money would come from his wife, who was still working.

13 June 2018

Just back from a walk. Lovely sunny day with a warm, playful breeze. I took my camera but it ran out of power before I’d gone very far. Went past the duck pond (dozing ducks and a couple of fuzzy ducklings), across the bridge, over the top of the hill and back to the house. There was a slightly plump couple canoodling in the grass, but I didn’t have to pass too close! On the other side of me was a lady with her spaniel, which was off the leash and rooting through the vegetation. It didn’t approach me… the long damp grass was probably more interesting than I was.

When I checked my messages at home, someone sent the nicest note I’ve had in a while: “Knowing you, your ‘average’ will be really good:).” Wow.

Another friend said he needs to find a woman and is planning a road trip on his bicycle, and I said he sounds like a country song. I said I was walking out to take photographs, and he said, “Don’t do it tomorrow… there are strong gales forecast.”

It’s certainly got pretty cool and there are big splashes of rain. The sun went behind a cloud some time ago.

I told Mum my joke, that I was planning to walk to Mordor but there was a red sign saying ‘FOOTPATH CLOSED’. She gave me a confused look, and said, “You were going to walk to WHERE?”

I said it’s something people do… they know what the distances are, so they walk that distance and say, “I’ve been to Mordor.”

“Oh,” she said.

22:41: Was out in the garden at twilight ‘saving the pinks’ and other things from the ferocious gale that’s due to hit. The breeze was picking up already.

Donald Trump came on the news. ‘A tired Trump touched down and said risk of war with North Korea is over, so sleep well tonight.’ The words are not exact; they’re from memory, but I thought it was lovely. The news are usually doom, gloom and tension.

14 June 2018

05:58: The first thing I did was peek through my bedroom blinds to see if there’s a roaring gale outside. The blossom tree is swaying, but not really. I feel happy thinking about my walk. It’s like there’s a corner of my mind that’s pure sunshine and hope.

13:08: Sunny day again. I took a few dull videos of the trees thrashing around at the back. The only damage I can see is that our large red poppies and most of the clematis flowers have suffered — their petals strewn across the ground. The snails dragged a stray lupin plant round the back of the hedge, and a potted golden rose lost a single bloom. The pinks in their shady little cranny are barely moving at all.

In Messenger, someone sent a video about bonding with a wingless bee. She gave it sugary water and flowers, took it in, and looked after it till it died. I was touched, and had to reach for a tissue, but after I recovered, our conversation went as follows:

Me: “MY bee drank the sugary water and then left. Ungrateful varmint.”

Friend: “Well, that is the whole point… One doesn’t expect them to have to hang around.”

“I wonder if we showed the video to angry wild bees in the woods, would they become more peaceful?”

“Different species.”

“Donald Trump showed an encouraging video to Kim Jong Un. It seemed to work.”

“I don’t want to know anything about Trump & co.”

“It was just a joke.”

I was crushed! I expected her to know about the video, but I don’t think she did. Now I feel like I live in a different world… and I’m the one who’s changed.

Posted in Music I Like, Rants

KABLOOIE!

Really, it was coming for years, though we kept a lid on it till now. It felt GOOD to rip into her, though there was no bad language. I roundly told her how I felt, that we should stop talking for a while, then put the iPad down and stalked off to do something else.

I went straight to my Anger playlist, the one with fast and aggressive songs… or so I thought. Some are actually quite slow and not a single one (so far) has hit the spot. I need a RAGE playlist but there’s nothing to go in it! ‘Everything’s Alright’ from JC Superstar? Nope. ‘The Road to Hell Part I’ by Chris Rea? No way. ‘On the Road Again‘ by Canned Heat? Errrrr…. promising.

Well, I’m so tired of crying
But I’m out on the road again
I’m on the road again
Well, I’m so tired of crying
But I’m out on the road again
I’m on the road again

I ain’t got no woman
Just to call my special friend

I don’t know if I’m right about him having left someone (in the song) but there appears to be a good mix of anger and sadness.

Sardonicus (UB40) is more tired than angry.

Many men are fooled by his smile
His superficial grace his charm his style
Sardonicus is everybody’s friend
Sardonicus keeps smiling to the end

Here’s one I love, though! You’re Wondering Now (The Specials)

You’re wondering now what to do
Now you know this is the end
You’re wondering how you will pay
For the way you did behave

Unfortunately it’s too mellow to suit my mood.

Oh right, Jeff Wayne! War of the Worlds. There’s sinister thunder in a lot of that, so yes.

OMD — The New Stone Age. I don’t know what it’s about, but it’s like a jangling melodic scream.

Hard Rain (Hothouse Flowers) isn’t too bad — it tumbles along and there’s a howling instrument… not sure if it’s a saxophone or electric guitar.

It’s a hard rain in the ghetto
Blues are gonna take their toll, yeah

Of course, the ultimate anger song is I Will Survive by Gloria Gaynor.

Go on now, go
Walk out the door
Just turn around now
Cos you’re not welcome any more
Weren’t you the one who tried to hurt me with goodbye?
You think I’d crumble
You think I’d lay down and die?
Oh no, not I…

I will survive!

I haven’t been able to check how good any of the YouTube videos sound, so I’m just crossing my fingers they sound OK. It’s six hours since I started writing this post, and though the rage has gone, what’s left is tiredness and disappointment. Not good.

Posted in Life and Family

New GDPR Regulation

Dear Sister,

In our effort to comply with the new General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) laws, we must let you know how we use your data. As you are our elder sister, we may contact you in the future to update you on all our trials and tribulations. Things like defaulting tenants and ISP servers going down, which probably means we will use your mobile phone number to scream at you via SMS. We might also post things to your Facebook timeline, tag you in our cat photos or send stickers to you in Messenger.

We assume you will still want to be signed up to all this. If you don’t, we will have to send you to complete an 88-page webform on the internet when we get it ready. That might take months.

Until then, we will send you regular invitations to shop for us, weed our garden and take us out for coffee.

Yours sincerely,

The CEO of Generally Messing About

Posted in Life and Family, Music I Like, Political and Social Issues, Technology and Software, Videos

Tangle of Thoughts

One reason I’ve not been blogging lately is that themes run through my head and get tangled in a knot — I never know where to begin. Sometimes it seems easier to retreat to my chair and view the multicoloured twist of yarn from a safe distance. I feel satisfaction at how pretty it is, but really — it seems like too much work to untangle it and display each thread on its own.

Looking at that fuzzy mess, I forget what’s in there anyway. I’ll try pulling on a thread randomly and see what appears.

I’ve just been watching a YouTube video of Nigel Farage questioning Mark Zuckerberg. The two narratives (Farage and Zuckerberg) clash like grape and lime. You never imagine they’ll come into each other’s orbit, yet there they are.

I don’t like the extent to which internet companies keep and share data. Things really started turning sour when people were expected to download everything from the cloud and store files on a server somewhere instead of on their own hard drives. Laptops with almost no storage space appeared and we no longer received DVDs with the supporting operating system. We are nagged mercilessly to update everything despite losing access to expensive software and hardware that we still use every day. We’ve entered an era of apps and subscription software, and everything’s updated quite often — sometimes ruining applications we are in the middle of using. One app suddenly changed the way the drawing tools worked, and I was unable to finish the pictures I was working on. I liked the way they were coming along, so I’m still annoyed about that! None of this particular ‘progression’ ever struck me as a good idea… a lot of security, control and choice was (and is) leaving our hands.

Another thread from my tangle of experiences: I watched the Munk debate on political correctness.

There’s a bit where Stephen Fry talks about the growing climate of fear — people are afraid to say too much or be honest about their thoughts and ideas. He says it’s a real change, not imagined. It was interesting to see him on the same side as Jordan Peterson, but then they both have liberal views.

I’ve been finding out about the Danish Eurovision 2018 entry, Higher Ground by Rasmussen. I was wishing that was our song, as I felt absolutely no connection to the UK’s Eurovision entry.

But wait…

‘Higher Ground’, presented by Denmark, is a Swedish song about Norwegian Vikings who lived in Orkney and went raiding (on this occasion) to Anglesey in Wales. (My tangled knot pales in comparison to this). The Viking in the song was Magnus Erlendsson, who stayed in his ship and refused to go on the attack.

My mother thinks I take after Norwegians on her side of the family. Was she remembering old family photos I’ve never seen? I mentioned a family friend who came from Norway but was immediately corrected. She MARRIED a Norwegian but isn’t Norwegian herself. I had to chuckle… “for years I was thinking Kristin was the Norwegian, and all the time it was me!”

It’s like a twisted version of Blade Runner.

I would love to know more about my family history but haven’t a clue where to begin. Like subscribing to a gym, it’s the sort of thing you might pay for in a fit of enthusiasm then don’t do much about.

In any case, I have now adopted Denmark’s song. 😛 Not only was it about finding more peaceful ways of relating; it represents a thread from our history.

Posted in Blogging

Unsettled

One thing that’s been unsettling me lately is the size of my blog. It goes back years, and my younger self has written things I might not agree with any more. I don’t know what’s there other than the most popular few (e.g. iMovie Glitches) so it seems sensible to go through everything, delete the dross, then change the blog back to the public setting. Yesterday I considered throwing it open anyway, having got over a bit of tension in my own life, but the mere fact I did this without warning — twice, not just once — shows it’s time I got on with the editing work. It’s staying hidden for the time being but hopefully I’ll get through the work reasonably quickly. “If in doubt, throw it out” should be a good mantra. 🙂

Posted in Music I Like, TV and Films

Eurovision Song Contest 2018: one Scot’s viewpoint

The full results from the Eurovision Song Contest 2018 Grand Final can be found here — 26 entries in total.

I’ve had time to re-assess, and my placings have shuffled round a little. The following six are my top favourites of all the grand finalists:

  1. DenmarkHigher Ground” Rasmussen (Grand Final Result: 9)
  2. BulgariaBones” Equinox (Grand Final Result: 14)
  3. IrelandTogether” Ryan O’Shaughnessy (Grand Final Result: 16)
  4. MoldovaMy Lucky Day” DoReDoS (Grand Final Result: 10)
  5. ItalyNon Mi Avete Fatto Niente” Ermal Meta & Fabrizio Moro (Grand Final Result: 5)
  6. FinlandMonsters” Saara Aalto (Grand Final Result: 25)

My choices haven’t matched well with the final results! I do like a bit of drama in my music… Hungary came in at 7th place for me (21st in the Grand Final results). Ukraine wasn’t too far off either, with the burning stairs, and Australia was my 8. 🙂 Lucky magic number.

I absolutely loved the Danish Vikings, and the whipping wind with the blizzard. You could almost feel the cold.

Talking of drama, some took place during the show. SuRie had a stage invader who seized her microphone in the middle of her performance. We didn’t see the scene on TV, and I wondered later if we got an edited version with the invasion chopped out. It’s more likely we were only half paying attention and assumed all figures running about the stage were supposed to be there. At any rate, we had no idea what Graham Norton (our commentator) was talking about! Confusing to say the least.

I found myself thinking that nobody would have dared to dash on stage when the Vikings were in charge of it — the fellow would have come a cropper.

I liked the performance by the winner, Israel – ‘Toy’ by Netta — though not the song so much. Its happy-go-lucky vibe felt absolutely right for the Eurovision. My mother’s favourite was the German entry (‘You Let Me Walk Alone‘), but that was too sad for me — I couldn’t bear to watch it.

Cyprus was second this year. Despite the title (Fuego) I didn’t warm to the song — nor did Graham Norton, who said it was ‘standard Eurovision fare’. He also (ahem) failed to understand why people were so attracted to Moldova… same as I was, I guess. 🙂 Moldova sounded really good through my soundbar when I watched the semi-final, but the magic wore off after that… I’m not sure why. I wasn’t using the soundbar during the Grand Final when my mother was watching, so maybe the sound was too flat and tinny.

When Hungary was about to come on, somebody (I assume Graham Norton — I was depending on subtitles!) said if you have any pets or sensitive older folk around you, take them out into the garden till the next entry finished, as it’s heavy metal with lots of strobe lighting. I couldn’t help laughing out loud, and my mother frowned and pointed to herself.

I can’t remember any of my top favourites going on to win, at least not in recent years. I still have hope. At any rate, Eurovision 2018 is done and dusted now… so roll on Eurovision 2019!

Posted in Music I Like

Eurovision 2018 Semi-Final Two: thoughts

My top six songs from the Eurovision second semi-final:

  • Moldova “My Lucky Day” DoReDos
  • Denmark “Higher Ground” Rasmussen
  • Australia “We Got Love” Jessica Mauboy
  • Norway “That’s How You Write A Song” Alexander Rybak
  • Ukraine “Under the Ladder” Melovin
  • Hungary “Viszlat Nyar” AWS

All six made it into the finals, along with four others! I’m not usually that lucky with my choices, but it was a good show. All ten semi-finalists for tonight are given here.

I was amused because I don’t think Hungary expected to get in… they zoned out and barely noticed the announcement. 😛

The top two I listed are stunning… they will be hard to beat. However, they kept talking about Cyprus, which somehow I didn’t rate highly, so I’m wondering what I missed. Maybe I’ll like it better when I hear it again on Saturday — sometimes happens. I was like that with the last two or three Eurovision winners.

Everybody keeps hoping Australia will win so that they can all go over there. Eventually it will (maybe this coming weekend?) and all of Europe will celebrate and start buying summer clothes and sun tan lotion.

I’ve heard the French song now too, and I like that — good beat.

Looking forward to Saturday!

Posted in Music I Like, Political and Social Issues, TV and Films

Eurovision 2018 Semi-Final One: brief thoughts

I haven’t forgotten about this blog! It wasn’t possible. Every few days I got a spammy email subscription or two, which always brought it to the forefront of my mind. In the end I gathered up enough energy to wade into my settings and turn the email subs off.

Tonight I was watching the first semi-final for the Eurovision Song Contest. The good news is, Ireland has got in. The bad news is, four entries I rated the very lowest also got in!

These were my favourite five from the first semi-final:

  • Bulgaria — Equinox “Bones”
  • Armenia — Sevak Khanagyan “Qami”
  • Finland — Saara Aalto “Monsters”
  • Ireland — Ryan O’Shaughnessy “Together”
  • Azerbaijan — Aisel “X My Heart”

Israel and Greece were also high on my list.

There are videos for all the songs here.

A little while before the song show tonight, I turned on my TV upstairs and checked the soundbar was working. Cranked up the volume till things started to boom a bit, and the BBC News just happened to be on. They were waiting for Donald Trump, so I saw and heard his entire speech about withdrawing from the nuclear deal with Iran. He signed a document and held it up for the cameras. Here in Scotland, his words echoed in the cool evening air.

The song contest was somewhat trumped by that little bit of political drama! In my view, Donald Trump’s the first real president America has had for decades.

I got nervous at that bit of my post, but Jordan Peterson said, “Always speak the truth,” and that rings in my ears. It’s as simple as that really.

Posted in Blogging, Books, Quizzes and Memes, Writing

Random Selection of Stolen Tags

“I’ve been working on this for hours now… It’s too much to find questions and people (that would be like 100 people if I did these correctly) to tag in it. So maybe I’ll go with a cop-out and say “Hey, if you want to answer any of these questions, then go ahead! I nominate you!”

– Life of Chaz

Wow! Reading Chaz’s award catch-up post, I realize just how many of these are buzzing around out there. I confess I was tagged once and didn’t respond in any shape or form, even to say ‘thank you’. I still feel guilty. It happened just as I was screaming around the house getting ready for a rare family vacation, and at the same time was retreating mentally, which meant I probably wouldn’t respond to anybody online for a long while. I’m not sure what that was about, and it’s years ago now. Perhaps I can make up for it a bit?

From Chaz’s post I picked out 15 questions I could answer, along with a couple of short lists at the bottom.

1. What qualities do you like most in others and why?

A gentle sense of humour, genuine interest in others, patience and tolerance (though not loud and confrontational… I mean a quiet understanding of people with a willingness to listen and think).

2. What qualities do you like most in leaders and why?

Direct and discreet honesty. Supportiveness; tolerant sense of humour. Strength and determination (obviously!) but no blind arrogance.

3. Describe one moment in your past that you would say changed your entire life.

Becoming more aware of people outside my little bubble… I won’t say how that happened. 😛

4. What qualities do you look for in a friend?

Kind sense of humour, predominantly positive outlook, friendly patience, chattiness and responsiveness (though I don’t require that they write every day — life can be too disruptive!) A good conversation is balanced between two people… if it’s too one-sided, you feel frustrated and unheard, and the friendship is likely to founder.

5. What’s your favorite book?

The Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien — I read it four to six times AND it was first to mind, so I really have to nominate that. There are other frequently read and loved books too, but I’ve only been asked for one…

6. What advice would you give a new blogger?

I’m not much of a blogging personage, but I believe in caution. We don’t have the protections professional journalists do, so I’d say everyone on social media should read Blogging and Tweeting Without Getting Sued (Mark Pearson).

7. Are you a book person, digital person, audio person, or combo person and why?

Combo without the audio. I’m too deaf to listen to audio books. Amazon probably can’t understand why I never respond to its emails about the audio books I could download! eReaders are amazing because you can have access to a huge library without cluttering up your house with paperbacks or visiting the library. The town library doesn’t even have a smattering of what I could read on Kindle. Yet I have a big collection of books in print… cookery books, textbooks, some poetry, art and photography books, comic books and some old sentimental paperbacks.

8. Do you have a particular reading spot?

A solid and comfortable Parker Knoll sofa protected by a bright throw, with my feet up on a huge padded footstool. It’s also my favourite blogging spot.

9. Who is your all time favorite author?

Tove Jansson. Does that contradict The Lord of the Rings (J.R.R. Tolkien) as ‘favourite book’? Well, I’ve thought about it, and both my answers are still the same.

10. What’s one insecurity you have about yourself?

My speech is very, very quiet and I pronounce a lot of things wrong (born severely deaf). I hate speaking, so clam up if I’m not comfortable with someone or in a particular situation. I’ve been amazed, on the other hand, how I can prattle away at a total stranger, one I’ve taken to for no reason that I know of… other than that I like them and they seem kind.

11. What’s one exotic animal you wish you could have as a pet?

Albino hedgehog. I don’t know if that counts as ‘exotic’, but it should.

12. What is one thing you can’t live without?

I’m torn between iPad and wheelie shopping trolley…………

13. What’s the best thing you’ve learned or experienced from blogging?

What my own writing strengths and weaknesses are. Also that the vast majority of people are kinder than you fear. 🙂

14. If you’re not blogging what are you doing?

Cooking, laundry, housework, shopping for groceries, feeding the cats, taking the rubbish out and putting out bins for the bin men, walking outside with camera, reading other people’s blogs, having coffee in town, chatting with friends, listening to music, watching TV or DVDs, reading the news, watching YouTube videos (mostly about Brexit), writing in my private diary, composing the odd weak haiku, editing photos and (when I have time, which I haven’t lately) digital art.

15. What’s the last record/album/mp3 you bought?

I bought two together — Rumours by Fleetwood Mac and 1989 by Taylor Swift.

‘One Lovely Blog’ tag: Share 7 facts about yourself.

1. Aargh! The Mini-Beast is here. (Snow whirling past window).

2. I hate excessive swearing and sudden bodily references (e.g. ‘he has balls’ or ‘all that shit’) because they genuinely distract me from the point that’s being made. 😛 I’m not a prude… it’s partly because it points to strong negative emotions, so when you feel that someone is angry or aggressive, your brain promptly clouds up and you want to retreat. Message lost.

3. I have brown eyes.

4. My best friend at university said she can never ‘read’ people with brown eyes, whereas it’s always clear what people with blue or grey eyes (like herself) are thinking. I’m not so sure about that, because people have a horrible habit of knowing exactly what I’m thinking without me saying a SINGLE WORD! Phweee.

5. A recent discovery in the local supermarket: stonebaked wholemeal pitta breads. They aren’t big tough ones… they’re soft and full of flavour.

6. In my blog’s side bar are the posts I’ve recently liked… more about that further down.

7. We’re having chicken, carrot and courgette bake for supper tonight (homemade, of course!)

‘Listicale Tag’; prompt given: Top Five Favorite Villains (in no particular order):

1. Jean-Baptiste Emanuel Zorg (Gary Oldman’s character in The Fifth Element)
2. Bill (Oliver Twist)
3. Any villain played by Alan Rickman, like in Robin Hood, Prince of Thieves
4. Count Olaf (as played by Jim Carrey in Lemony Snicket’s A Series of Unfortunate Events)
5. Gru (Despicable Me)

Blog posts I recently ‘liked’ in WordPress:

This isn’t a tag, though you can run with it if you like. 😛 I mentioned it above as one of my ‘facts’. I read and ‘like’ so many posts that they must disappear quite quickly. By tonight, the five at the foot of ‘Posts I Like’ in my sidebar will almost certainly be gone:

1. Other People’s Lives (Strange Codex)

2. Being Preachy Doesn’t Sell (James Harrington’s Blog of Geek and Writing)

3. A Short Analysis of Henry Wadsworth Longfellow’s ‘The Rainy Day’ (Interesting Literature)

4. The Part of Me (MW the Mermaid)

5. Dealing With Anger (Discovering Your Happiness)