Sunday, 31 January 2010

Last day of Jan

So, we've reached the end of January. I have been successful in one of my tasks - No Shopping January... All I have spent money on over the last month has been food and drink. No books, toys, cds or games. I am pretty glad that January is at an end though, because tomorrow, I've seen some vinyl that I would like to buy, and I want to order a couple of books that I really cannot do without. Still, then I think I'll go back to the no spending for a while longer.

The task that I haven't managed, and not sure that I will now, is the one set by Rob in the middle of the month before he went away, to finish my Penguins on Ice cross stitch by the last day of the month. I'm not too far off, but sickness and distractions (ok, yes I decided to go to the pub a couple of times when I should just have come home and stitched) have meant that I didn't make it. I guess the boots he promised me will not be mine. Even I cannot be bribed all that well. Tiredness and drinking usually wins.

So, that's all for January... it kind of went by in a bit of a blur... but that's ok because it is winter. However, the daffodils are appearing in the shops and people are selling spring flowers, when I leave work it is daylight and after each weekend things seem just a little better...February is already looking like it's going to be busy, hopefully it will also be fun.

Wednesday, 27 January 2010

Warning: rant.

I'm going to have a rant.

Today at work, I got a lovely and unexpected gift of flowers from my other half who is spending 2 weeks in the US. They came in a lovely bag, with pretty pink tissue paper. I decided to bring them home, and left the office early to avoid the mega-crush on the central line.

I was lucky, I managed to get a seat, the tube was not that busy. I sat down, handbag on knee, flowers between my skinny legs and tucked back as far as they would go.

At the next stop a woman got on. Despite there being ample space where the doors where, she chose to come and stand OVER my flowers. I spent the journey home giving her legs the death stare, biting my lip and grinding my teeth whenever those legs in their annoying black tights dared to brush against MY pink tissue paper. Why, with all that space, would someone want to come and stand directly over something they could crush as the tube lurched about. Jealousy, I'll bet.

Anyway, my flowers survived the journey (see below) and I learnt that I really don't like people in my space or in my face.

Rant Over.

Saturday, 23 January 2010

Twittering along

This year I've managed to get myself very much into Twitter. People ask why I like it so much. The reason I guess is that I like information. I like data. I like to suck it all up and filter it in my head. I have always been good at skim reading, so Twitter is pretty perfect for me to suck in huge amount of data and read only what I want to.

I admit, it started off fairly small. I had an account where I followed mainly people I knew. They followed me back. My account was publicly open, I got a lot of spammy followers. And then I got hacked. Aaargh.

So I started again. I made my account private. This meant that I had to approve any followers. Sure I might not get as many, but at least I can check that they aren't spam. I put back onto the list the people that I knew. I added bands that I loved. I added websites that I liked. Pretty soon I was following about 100 people, and I couldn't read all of the messages. This was (thankfully) around the same time that twitter added lists.

At the moment I'm following around 900 people. These are a combination of people with hobbies similar to mine, music that I like, design sources for things that I might like to try myself at some point, photography sites etc... you get the picture. I have a list for each category which means I can go straight to the thing I want to look at. I also have a private list for those people whose tweets I really don't want to miss. When I'm short on time, I just read this one.

So, my top 5 tips for using Twitter:

1. Start small - build up a private list with the stuff you don't want to miss.

2. Categorise as you follow new people - then when you follow many people you can find the one you want much more easily.

3. Use favourites - If you're short on time, mark things you want to come back to as favourites. You can read these at your leisure and they won't vanish.

4. Retweet things that interest you - I was happy to learn that people I know have found some of the retweets interesting and informative.

5. Don't try and read everything. It's impossible. Just let it go.

Saturday, 16 January 2010

Musical Interlude

Over the last year, I've started to get more into music. Since in the UK we have the wonderful and free (if you don't mind the adverts) Spotify application, which contains a huge amount of music, it's rare that I really want to listen to something that I cannot find.

This application is wonderful to me, as it suggests similar artists and has an excellent variety of new releases. Perhaps if your tastes are a little more 'out there' you might see some limitations. But it led me to discover a whole heap of new albums - many that I went on to buy and load onto my phone. I love how the music and lyrics can take my mind to a completely different place.

Here are my favourites from the last year that I spent my lunch-hours stomping down the Thames to:
Plain White T's - Big Bad World
Fightstar - Be Human
Pink - Funhouse
McFly - Radio:Active
Green Day - 21st Century Breakdown
Frankmusik - Complete Me
Pendulum - In Silico
Hey Monday - Hold on Tight
The Maine - Can't Stop, Won't Stop
Mayday Parade - A Lesson in Romantics
Colbie Caillat - Breakthrough

Sunday, 10 January 2010

Snowy Snowy

The snow started where I live on Tuesday evening. It continued all day through Wednesday and settled into a big fluffy deep pile over most of the area. Thankfully, I live in a place where a path has been cleared down to the tube station, so when I did venture out to try and go to work on Friday I was successful. It's snowed a little bit over the weekend but it's finally melting! Hooray! Don't get me wrong, I love snow, but for the usual one day a year that we normally get it. This extended snow period has made me grumpy because it has also been horribly, bitterly cold. We went out for brunch yesterday and when we got back I could barely feel my hands well enough to type the PIN in for my food shopping. What made me laugh most this week though was that it still didn't stop some women walking around in ridiculously high heels. Some people will do anything for fashion. I'm more on the common sense side myself.

The couple of snowy images that stuck out for me this week are these:
Snowy UK from satellite
Self Rolling Snow Balls

Thursday, 7 January 2010

About Me.

Now that I'm settling into blogging a bit more I thought maybe it was time to tell you a little about myself. I was born and raised in Sheffield, which is a really lovely place to grow up, I thought it was wonderful. I was always terribly shy at school, teased a lot (mainly because they could get away with it and I would still smile I think), but I worked hard and got ok grades. I enjoyed drama and for some period in my life I wanted to act. The I realised I probably would never make it and thought where else might I make decent money? The answer seemed to be IT, so I became a geek (well, more of a geek than I already was)!

I studied Information Systems at university, which meant that I didn't have to do any of the real hard horrible programming that I loathe. Sorry, but my brain just doesn't seem to think in that way. I did a placement designing websites for a company in London which I loved every minute of. When my degree was finished I came back to work for the company and I now work on a massive database system. In September I'll have worked for them for 10 years. I hope I make it that far.

Outside of work I have many many interests, a few of which I've only discovered in the last year or so, but more about those in a separate post. The main one which I've had for many years is dancing, since I used to have lessons and do exams when I was younger. In the days when I started it was called Disco dancing, but that just brings up a retro image of legwarmers and sweatbands... if only I had been so cool back then instead of the horrible blue leotard and tights I was forced to wear. Nowadays the dance classes have much funkier names - I'm talking about you MTV Moves and Street Jazz! I've been away for a while, but 2010 is the year I make my return.

Other than dancing I like a whole heap of regular stuff like DVDs, books, and gaming. And one not so regular thing that always gets me wierd looks. Cross Stitching. Yes, I love it. My grandma was a cross stitcher and she got me into it. I've tackled a heap of small designs for cards and quilts for poorly kiddies, and I've had one particular design on the go for about 11 years now... (Don't ask). I'm determined to finish that one and also work my way up to something much bigger... I have a large Tiger, a Winnie the Pooh piece and a floral one all in my collection, along with a very very cool urban cross stitch of a Banksy (the little girl with the heart balloon) for a bit of something different. My challenge for this year is to get them all started, finished and find homes for them. It's going to be hard work, but I enjoy it, so it'll be fun too.

Phew, so that's a little intro... I like pretty simple, straightforward things. I'll be nice to anyone who is nice to me. And I live by the rule to treat others how you'd like to be treated. It seems to have worked so far.

Monday, 4 January 2010

Money, Money, Money

So, It's January 4th. I am 4 days into No Shopping January. Let's call it NSJ. This was something that I did last year in an attempt to get my credit card bill down after Christmas spending. I'm pretty much a shopaholic, I find it hard not to walk into a shop with a magic red banner screaming 'SALE'. Even if I restrict myself to only the £10 in my wallet, I am usually able to stretch it to find many many things that I probably don't need. To be honest, every space in the flat is bursting with Stuff. I really don't need any more. Except boots. I always need those.

Last year, I spent most of January familiarising myself with the game World Of Warcraft. I found it used up huge amounts of time, was quite good fun and most importantly kept me away from the shops. NSJ was a great success, and so this year I am repeating it.

The rules of NSJ are as follows. I can spend any money or vouchers given to me by other people, for Christmas etc. I can buy food and drink, either from a supermarket, or eating out (I have to have some kind of enjoyment). I cannot buy clothes, books, games, CDs, DVDs, gadgets, etc etc, you get the picture. Browsing is allowed. Buying presents for other people is allowed.

We are at January 4th. On January 3rd, in order to just mess with my head I think, I went to Oxford Street. I went in shops. I looked at stuff. I was happily relieved that anything I thought I might want, I was able to think to myself 'you can't buy it', and if I still really really want it when February comes along, I'll probably get it then. But it's nice to stop and think; I'm sure my small but bursting wardrobe will be glad of it.

Saturday, 2 January 2010

New Year, New Things

So, Happy New Year. It's 2010. And I have a blog. Whoop Whoop!! Being as I've become a bit more into the social networking malarky, after saying I thought Twitter was a waste of time and then finding out it was actually quite good really, I figured it was time to try out blogging. I may well be rubbish at it. I've never kept a diary because I'd be mortified if anyone read it. I'm quite a private person, so what on earth am I doing? I really don't have any idea. So, we'll see how it goes, shall we?

Lots of people have been talking about where they were and what they were doing a decade ago... 2010 is a new decade afterall. So far I've heard it called the tennies and the teenies, neither of which really appeals to me. But then neither did the naughties. I think I'm more for taking it one year at a time. But then 10 years ago just about all I can remember was that I'd finished uni, just started my first job and I spent Millennium eve in Sheffield town centre with my family. I had dark red hair, a plastic bottle of beer in my hand and I was wearing some silly headband with antennae and about 5 jumpers. We listened to the Mayor talking from a balcony in the town just before midnight and completely destroying the atmosphere that had been building up for the previous 4 hours. There's a photo of my sister and I grinning like silly fools. But apart from that, Millennium eve is all a bit of a blur really. This New Year I also spent with family, cosy warm in Mum and Dad's house, nice and relaxed in a comfy chair with a cup of tea. We watched Michael McIntyre and laughed a lot. It was just as enjoyable. And no hangover the next day. I think maybe I'm getting old.