Stuff

The Whole World Stops for a WiFi Crock Pot

Last night the UK government voted to start air strikes against ISIL in Syria. Whatever you feel about this action, I thought that the Members applauding was quite frankly crass in the face of the inevitable civilian loss of life. As for the decision, I’m not sure how I feel – I know that I do not have access to the information that they will have at the “top” and so from my living room it’s not a decision that I am equipped to make. From what I can see, I’m not convinced that this is the answer.

But, that’s not the point of this post. That’s just the context.

Over on Twitter journalist Caitlin Moran chose to focus on lighter moments.

Now I don’t watch The Apprentice so this just washed over me as a “whatever” tweet and I moved on. Not everyone felt that way. One woman chose to use this to grandstand a political point. Here’s the exchange that followed and that I stumbled upon this morning.

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I thought that was a bit harsh. I like Caitlin’s views on a lot of things, she often resonates with me, but she’s not the person I would turn to for an analysis on the beginning of a war. Not that her views on the subject are not worth knowing about – just that she is not a paid political commentator and would probably not be having anything other than a personal opinion just as valid as my own. So I found this response to be rather harsh and ill-placed. Caitlin’s response was perfect.

But then I got curious, and let me tell you that curiosity is not your friend on the internet! Who was this woman and why was she feeling the need to beat up on a celeb journalist for being normal? I clicked through to her twitter profile and saw her latest tweet.

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You have got to be kidding! Do people not ever read what they type? Can this woman not see the total hypocrisy in her own tweets? I do not claim to *not* be guilty of stupid comments at times, but this one takes the biscuit and the tea pot to go with it.

Now if you’re not familiar with Twitter or believe the thing about it being all about people telling others what they had for breakfast then let me tell you that in reality twitter is just a platform for people to have conversations, in public. It’s like a conversation happening in a large party – there’s heaps of others around you and they can likely hear what you’re saying. From time to time someone will interject and add their 2 cents to your conversation. If you’re really lucky someone who happens to share the same interests as you will overhear your conversation and join themselves in and you will find yourself meeting your new best friend. Most of the time, you’ll get half snippets without context and you’ll move on to the next conversation.

I couldn’t help myself. I weighed in, and less than half an hour later I got my head-desk response.

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Right. So at this point I think it’s time to close the twitter and go and do something to sooth my brain, like knit or tat.

Stuff

Row Row

Elisa’s favourite song is Row Row Row Your Boat. At any time of the day she will climb up onto your lap and start leaning backwards saying “row row” and you have to start singing (banshees visit if you should dare not to).

She loves it and especially loves the actions and sounds at the end of the verses, in particular the alternative verses. I’ve taken to making up new ones just to relieve the monotony.

Here’s a few of our alternative verses:

Row, row, row your boat gently down the stream
Merrily, merrily, merrily, merrily, life is but a dream

Row, row, row your boat gently down the river
When you see a polar bear, don’t forget to shiver (Brrrr)

Row, row, row your boat gently down the stream
When you see a crocodile, don’t forget to scream (aarrgghh!)

Row, row, row your boat rocking side to side
When you see a dinosaur don’t forget to hide (hands in front of eyes)

Row, row, row your boat gently ‘cross the bay
When you see a pirate ship, row the other way (Aarrr!)

Row, row, row your boat across the deep blue sea
Have some scones, some jam and cream and make a pot of tea (yummy!)

Row, row, row your boat gently to and fro
When you see an elephant wave and say hello (Hiya!)

Challenges, Stuff

The Xmas Xclutter Challenge

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I have bad news if you’re a crafter, and good news if you’re a kid. Christmas is coming up, in fact it’s 80 days until the big day.

As I look around me I can see an awful lot of stuff. Kids stuff, my stuff, his stuff. Stuff everywhere. And to think that it was less than 10 years ago that I arrived in Dublin with 2 suitcases and 2 packing boxes. Somehow since then I have managed to aquire stuff at a frightening rate.

I was chatting to my lovely friend KT about this state of affairs and we decided that now would be a good time to do a purge.

But the trouble with purges is that they’re hard work. Too often you get started with gusto and then get interrupted by having to go to work, or by the children deciding that the clothes horse would make a great actual horse and then before you know it, the stuff is restashed and you’ve not moved on.

So, we have decided to embark on a 10 week declutter challenge and if you like you are quite welcome to join us. We’re going to be gentle about this because, well, we have lives. So here are the rules.

  • Take a box or bag of arbitrary but slightly greater than is totally easy to fill size – I’m using the one above (book included to give vague non-helpful idea of scale)
  • On Monday I’ll post the theme for the week.
  • You have until the following Sunday night to fill your container with stuff to get rid of, but it MUST include at least one item that fulfills the theme.
  • Post a photo on your favourite social site and tag it #xmasxclutter. In the interests of privacy and all that you can post a photo of just an item that fulfills the theme, all of your stuff that you’re getting rid of, or even just your filled and closed container.

Stuff for our purposes is defined as things that can be given away. The idea is to get rid of all the stuff you’re hoarding in time for someone else to benefit before Christmas. No point dumping a load of trash, although that may help you to clean it’s not really in the spirit of this.

How do you get rid of your stuff? However you like. The challenge is to be rid of it by Sunday night. You can go for a quick sale on an online auction site, give it to charity, hand it to a friend or whatever you like.

OK, so them’s the rules – now to get started!

Today’s challenge theme is Smalls

By Smalls we could mean clearing out your smalls drawers – those knickers with the broken elastic might be able to go to a rag company (do check and do make sure everything is clean because ewww) and that grogeous bra, well let’s be honest here. Even if you DO manage to put the weight back on, chances are your shape will change, so make some room for more pretties.

Smalls might also mean small things. Jewellery, buttons etc the collection of spare screws from the flatpack company which you could not for the life of you remember which goes with which. The spare keys for the windows that got replaced years ago. The copper coin collection that takes up space.

I’m so looking forward to seeing your pictures and to having less stuff myself!

Stuff

Terry’s Big Mistake

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I grew up in an idyllic world where every possibility was open to me – my parents may have raised an eyebrow when I announced I was going to be an astronaut, complete with career path mapped out that at the time was apparently not open to me (apparently women were not airforce pilots in those days) – but they never said it wasn’t suitable for me as a woman. I was encouraged to program, solder things and make things. I was also encouraged to cook and sew and read anything I wanted. I had Barbie dolls and wanted a pretty pink and lace bedroom, but I could also pull apart a power supply and use a hammer.

So, when I first encountered sexism in the workplace I was confused. I really didn’t know what was going on. The idea that my gender would play a role in anything other than whether or not I might give birth one day was just a completely alien concept to me.

So, when I come across things like the following website I am genuinely perplexed – most of the “men” running these kinds of companies these days grew up around the same time frame as I did. Did they not have mothers? Do they not have girlfriends or wives even and how can they live in a world and be so utterly blind to equality issues? I do understand the idea that people don’t have a good feel for issues that do not affect them, but how you would do this is beyond me.

So, it appears that Terry of the UK Small Business Directory (owned and run by Access Appraisals Ltd. a company registered in England and Wales and with the company number 4537420 and VAT number 812494925) has a problem with women. Take a look at the home page of his website http://www.uksmallbusinessdirectory.co.uk/ which this morning was sporting a lovely paragraph giving his true thoughts on female small business owners –

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For those on slower connections, the introductory paragraph currently reads

Please note: This is a serious website for serious men with serious businesses.

If you are just a little housewife running a little play business from home earning some pin money whilst your man is out earning a living – please don’t register your latest hobby business here.

Regards, Terry

Yep, what a man!

Oh and his name is also a link to his Google profile – https://plus.google.com/+TerrySimmonds/about where you’ll find all sorts of interesting tidbits, such as this:

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There’s also a photo clearly cut out of a holiday snap with a jaunty tropical hat on – professional? Not my idea of professional. Still there’s some links so we’ll pop over to his LinkedIn page – this is a site where most people will present their professional self. We see his photo here is of a car. OK, so the guy’s a bogan*. After a bit of digging we can confirm that he is the managing director for the company that owns this site.

Now, back to the original website there. Most of these SEO companies run a directory of some sort. The idea is that it provides links to your website and therefore increases your SEO – it’s one of the cheap tricks they employ to get you to the top of results so it’s not surprising that they have a couple of these. They generally offer free basic ads, but you shouldn’t really be fooled – most ordinary people don’t bother going to the site itself.

My feeling about all of this is that the statement was most likely NOT written by the guy. According to Companies House this business has been incorporated for 12 years now, noone could exist that long if they were that monumentally stupid. However, having worked in the industry and experienced some mindblowing misogyny and sexism where I was offered a choice between quitting or being fired when I announced my pregnancy, I’m inclined to think that where there’s smoke there’s probably fire. I reckon this guy has probably mistreated a female member of staff who had access to the website and who decided to post up his actual views for all the world to see. If that’s the case then there’s no less sympathy than for the alternative option which is that he posted it himself.

What I find even more surprising is that I first heard about this via Twitter at 8am – it’s now 12:30 and nothing has changed. Surely the guy has noticed the spike in traffic – or maybe his thinks that is due purely to his brilliant SEO? If not perhaps he’s noticed his hone ringing off the hook? He’s not answering by the way. Or if that hasn’t alerted him to something going on, surely someone who has monitoring their online presence would be aware of the buzz around his name and his other sites by now??

Now whether or not Terry put the post up himself or not, if you advertise on his site I would strongly suggest that you stop as soon as possible – you don’t want to be tarred with the same brush.

And Terry, if you did indeed sanction this, well I hope that you enjoy the fallout cos it’s gonna be spectacular!

* Bogan (n) Australian – an uncouth or uncultured person.

Craft, Katja, My Week in Pictures, Stuff, Tatting

Christmas Failures

First decoration on our real tree #tattinglace

It’s been a crazy few weeks here, but I guess that’s the same for everyone in the Christmas countries. As a result I have totally failed to send cards to anyone, presents have made it only by the skin of their teeth and because I bypassed the wrapping and went straight from store to Mum (thanks Mum!). I also failed to procure baubles for the Christmas tree – shops are out of red ones, I don’t understand!

However, we did survive gastrogeddon which Katja generously brought home from nursery to share. Speaking of nursery, she is loving it now. Gets excited when we arrive and tries to beat the door down while I get her pram sorted. Last Monday was the nursery Christmas party, she was delighted when we went in on an off day and thought Santa was the bees’ knees 🙂

Bump is doing well – very very active which is lovely. We’re booked in for an additional 3 ultrasounds before we meet her – huge bonus! Pelvic pain is getting a bit out of hand at the moment which is the only downer on the pregnancy front.

And the win? I procured some metallic thread and yesterday churned out the snowflake above. It’s needle tatted and took 4 hrs to finish. About the size of a saucer, looks great on the tree.

PS. I was meant to post this on Thursday and failed to do that too! Christian managed to find baubles and I made another snowflake.

Parenthood, Shopping, Stuff

Baby Box vs Bounty

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In Finland every expectant mother receives a Baby Box, for free. No matter how much they earn. Above is the 2012-2013 baby box and contents. It’s full of everything you need for the first 6 months of your baby’s life. The box itself doubles as a moses basket and it even comes with a mattress to make that a viable proposition as well as a sleeping bag and snow suit. For full contents you can see the website. Of course not every mother needs the box, you can opt for a €140 grant instead (the box and contents is worth about €200)

Tastefully selected, there is a real push from companies to supply (imagine the size of the orders!) so it obviously costs the government much less than it would cost each family to purchase all items separately.

As well as being down right handy, the box also is a huge stress reliever for new parents. No panic over what do I need to buy and how much? Have I forgotten something vital? No pouring over stupid lists in magazines which tell you invariably that you simply cannot cope without a baby wipes warmer or some other ridiculous piece of useless kit. You simply open your box and there it is.

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So, let’s look at Britain. Here we have the Bounty pack.

On your first midwife visit you receive your first pack – thereby highlighting it’s legitimacy and importance. You’re told that the plastic sleeve is the perfect size for your folder of medical notes to stop it getting wet, like it was meant to be. Inside you find all sorts of bits of information. Here’s my latest first Bounty pack –

Inside was the following

– NHS Scotland leaflet on Whooping Cough
– photocopy of Unicef leaflet “Feeding Your New Baby”
– NHS leaflet (photocopy) “A guide to your baby’s movements during pregnancy”
– NHS Scotland booklet “Off to a good start” about breastfeeding
– NHS DVD “from bump to breastfeeding”
– Money Advice Service booklet “Having a baby”
– Money Advice Service booklet “Parent’s guide to money”
– business card for Tommy’s PregnancyLine (talk to a midwife)

So far, so good (although there are other options for feeding which a new mum might need information on)

But, here’s the rest

– form to complete to take in to a select number of stores to pick up my next Bounty pack
– Cussons stretch mark cream sample and 30p off voucher (stretch mark creams are not proven to do anything)
– advertising from Family Investments
– advertising from Ocado – £20 off first shop over £80
– voucher from photobox – free prints or 1 free poster print
– advertising from Sainsbury’s for £15 off first online shop (ie doesn’t apply to me)
– strange card for framing your scan pic from Bepanthen
– advertising from mamabloom.com
– advertising from 24studio.co.uk
– voucher for £1.50 off pregnancy vitamins
– magnet for the fridge with list of foods to avoid, although confusingly looks like foods to eat
– form to join the Bounty club
– Bounty magazine

So, an awful lot of useless stuff mixed in with some actually quite important stuff and only one pathetic sample for a product that is not scientifically proven to do anything at all.

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Today I took in the form to pick up the second Bounty pack. This pack is much much thicker so hopefully has some more useful things inside.

– sample of fairy washing powder
– sample of simple hydrating light moisturiser
– sample of sudocrem (I’m allergic to it!)
– sample of Tena liner
– newborn size baby towel with 2 x persil washing liquid samples and 2 x comfort fabric softener samples and vouchers off full priced products (impressed, this wasn’t in my pack for Katja)
– ovaltine sample (hot chocolate drink)
– advertising from Dettol sealed in a plastic bag to make it look like a sample
– card from bliss re premature baby support
– ocado, photobox, sainsburys advertising as before
– advert from 24ace.co.uk – looks just as dodgy as the 24studio.co.uk one
– catalogue from Babies R Us
– catalogue from Anglecare
– catalogue from Fisher-Price
– voucher for a free rattle providing you join the Fisher Price club (free)
– Bounty magazine

So, another bag largely full of useless, although admittedly better than the first for samples this one is woefully short on actual information.

Apparently Asda gives additional samples with the packs, but I was unable to locate an Asda that I could get to that had stock and after two months gave up and collected mine from Boots.

I can’t help wondering how many people actually use all those silly advertising things. Surely companies like Sainsbury’s would be better off including a sample of one of the body suits (which are actually very good). I’m impressed by the Persil/Comfort inclusion, but it’s pathetic compared to Finland!

Anyway, I thought other new mums might be interested in seeing what you get when you sign up to the horror of Bounty!

Geek, Stuff

Laptop Refurb Time

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My poor old laptop is 5.5 years old, but thanks to some clever upgrades it’s still going strong. Over the last couple of years I’ve upgraded the RAM and the hard drive as well as the operating system.

Well today was time to do some long-awaited cosmetic upgrades. The black and white skin is one I put on within a week of purchasing the laptop itself and while the lid has looked fabulous, the edges of the keyboard rest were starting to get slightly tatty, plus I’m kinda over the black and white. DecalGirl was having a sale so I took the opportunity to purchase a custom designed skin based on a fabulous photograph of my tatting that Lily took.

Also up for a change was the keyboard. The old one, as you can see from the picture above, was wearing in spots and the backlight had gone. I found someone on eBay who was selling the right piece and put in my order.

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The keyboard was sorted first using a great guide from iFixit.com and my collection of iphone screwdrivers (2 screws needed a star shaped one, all the others a philips head)

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This is my big tip whenever you’re doing laptop repairs, even if you do them regularly – labels the screws for each step! It’s simple to do but makes sure you put the right screws back in the right spots – a screw that’s too long by just a millimetre can damage components. Christian thinks I’m more German than he is when it comes to this, but so far every time I’ve opened up a machine I’ve got it back together correctly, something he can’t say!

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So keyboard sorted (took three goes to get all the cables seated properly) I started removing the old decal. Not easy! The lid alone took 10 minutes.

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The results are, I think, fabulous. I just love my new custom skin and the keyboard looks new so makes the entire unit feel brand new. And much cheaper than buying a whole machine!