Ravings From The Bog

Failed, sort of!
October 1, 2009, 12:23 am
Filed under: Family, Life, Stress, Thoughts, Work Life Balance | Tags: , , , ,

Mr Blobby

Yeah, it didn’t work! Still 276lbs… At one point during September was 272, but also at one point was 280!

On a positive note though, found more time to read, definitely felt a lot less frazzled and more relaxed and had more time to spend with Sophie (8), who is my personal de-stresser. (previous post)

What else happened in September?

Got an exercise bike, a rowing machine and dusted off my mountain bike. I was off for a week and had a great time traveling down to Mayo and Galway, took oodles of photographs and had my quarterly review which went very well, thank you! So not all bad news. Also, decided on a new blog format which you can find at This Sedentary Life. Not a terribly optimistic title, but we’ll see what happens on the exercise front over the coming months. 😉



749px-I-276.svgI’m taking the month of September off. Not off work, but off Twitter, Facebook, Tumblr, WordPress, Flickr and the many other distractions that have kept me from proper family/personal time over the last few months. I’ll still be checking my email and perhaps be online for five minutes at a time checking bank balances and cinema times, etc, but that’s it.

It’s an experiment of sorts. I tend to be easily distracted and lose myself for hours on teh internets which has created not a little tension at home, but I also feel that my thought processes are actually being affected by the flittering about that this fine Apple iMac allows me by having so many programs running at once!

So, from tonight at midnight, I intend to use the time saved to do the jobs that have been left undone, to spend more time with my wife and kids (!) and to fix various broken things, and cut the grass rather than pay somebody to do it twice a month, and get moving on a number of things that the “internet inertia” has stopped me from doing.

Now, I could be smart and say that the graphic above represents me “hitting the road” from the internet, but I’ll be honest instead and admit that I weigh 276lbs. My intention in being that honest is to force myself to be looking for a sign for Interstate 256 to post on 1 October – in other words, get off my arse and get some exercise. I intend to take seriously the idea of eating properly (not just my Branflakes) and losing some weight and keeping it off.

I have various other similar intentions for the month of September, regarding work, finance, leisure time, etc.

Wish me luck!

July 16, 2009, 10:07 pm
Filed under: Blogging, Podcasts, Stress, Technology, Thoughts | Tags: , , , , ,

Recent frustrations with my wireless connection at home resulted in me getting not a little miffed and, after trying everything else, resetting my router. This had the effect of wiping out the settings for my connection and I have been unable to reset the wifi for the last two days.

This has had a number of impacts on my life:

  1. I find myself with “time” on my hands. No constant browsing, Twittering, or gazing at a screen has resulted in a startling realisation that I need to find something else to do, like read, or watch TV, or God forbid, exercise.
  2. I spent yesterday evening in the front (TV) room of the house from 1915 until 2230. This is unheard of. I was receiving strange looks from my wife and son who were unsettled, to say the least.
  3. Yesterday, I bought a Belkin router. Sadly, the CD within was only for Windows XP and older (!) Windows systems – thwarted! This evening, I’m typing this into Word to copy and paste onto WordPress when I finally get my wifi restored.  So this is like a computer fix….
  4. I also bought a T-Mobile laptop dongle thingy which cost £29 plus change – and it’s really crap and intermittent. I also unfortunately spent £30 on airtime, which I’ll use up before I bring the dongle back for a refund. Fucking useless piece of shit.
  5. I’m starting to run out of podcasts! I’m finally catching up with Fresh Air podcasts that I downloaded as far back as last year. This is good news but they’re a little out of sync when I’m listening to pundits etc talking about how they think Obama will fare when he’s finally inaugurated!
  6. Yesterday, I drove a 38 mile round trip to pick up my Macbook so I could use it in an internet café at lunch time to send an email and follow up on some tweets on Tweetdeck and get an internet fix – how sad am I?

So, tomorrow, on my day off, I’ll be visiting Carphone Warehouse to see what they can do to restore my sanity. If their broadband was all it is cracked up to be, I wouldn’t have had to reset the router etc, bastards! I think I’ll go a little postal on their asses!!!

Off to Marbella tomorrow!
June 14, 2009, 10:46 pm
Filed under: Blogging, Foreign Travel, Stress, Thoughts

I’m off to Spain for a well-earned five day break tomorrow. I intend to spend the time de-stressing by walking, sleeping, photographing, reading and sleeping some more. Really looking forward to it! My flights at 0625 tomorrow morning so I’m off to my pit! Should be able to post some nice pictures when I get back. Might even try to blog from Marbella if I can get the MacBook fired up out there.

Really Sore Feet!
December 24, 2008, 12:35 am
Filed under: Life, Society, Stress, Thoughts, Work at Stressco | Tags: , , ,

Bloody aching!One of the “blessings” of working in retail is the aching feet you suffer, especially at Christmas when a standard day means almost 12 hours on your feet constantly changing direction and pace while trying to avoid being run over by manic idiots who leave everything to the last few days before Christmas – we’ve had most of this stock on shelf since September/October, so don’t make faces when we cannot supply Christmas napkins or tins of Quality St the day before Christmas – it’s YOUR fault for not planning properly!

PTSD Contributing To 8,500 Ex-Servicemen In British Jails

One major legacy of the Vietnam War was the trail of broken marriages, veteran related crime and general Post Traumatic Stress Disorder issues experienced by society in the US at that time. Forty-odd years later, we shouldn’t be surprised that 1 in 11 prisoners in the UK is an ex-serviceman. Between Northern Ireland, the Falklands War, Iraq and Afghanistan, there are potentially plenty of PTSD sufferers out there who need help. As usual in this country, it comes down to money:

“The MoD said counselling was always available to personnel, troops had briefings before and after postings, there were six mental health therapy pilot schemes, and veterans could have free assessments.”

Counselling and assessments must be made mandatory rather than “available” to troops returning home after any conflict, when many of them are in no position to judge whether they need counselling or not.

Up to 8,500 former members of the armed forces are serving sentences in UK prisons, it has been claimed.

Probation staff union Napo said its figures suggested about one in every 11 prisoners used to be in the forces.

It has led the union and Plaid Cymru MP Elfyn Llwyd to claim there is a lack of support for ex-service personnel.

The Ministry of Defence said it worked closely with charities to support veterans when they left the service and those who went to prison.

Both the MoD and the Ministry of Justice said they planned to carry out further surveys soon to “ensure we have up-to-date figures that will help us better target the help we provide for veterans in prison”.

Mr Llwyd said thousands of former members of the armed services who served either in the Gulf or Afghanistan had been subsequently convicted of offences and jailed.

He claimed that “effectively when armed personnel return, there is no help for them,” and said the position in the UK “contrasts greatly with the way the United States provide counselling and assistance to their armed personnel”.

“I have come to the conclusion that if proper treatment was available for these disturbed servicemen, hundreds if not thousands would not have offended,” said Mr Llwyd, the leader of Plaid Cymru’s parliamentary group.

“The government is letting them and their families down very badly indeed.”

Mr Llwyd said he had been unsatisfied with the initial response he was given when he raised the issue in Parliament after concerns were raised by his constituents in Meirionnydd Nant Conwy.

A criminal lawyer by trade, he saw ex-servicemen being sentenced in north Wales courts for assaults “with worrying regularity”.

He was told in a parliamentary answer that figures from “nationally representative surveys” of some 2,000 prisoners in 2001, 2003 and 2004 showed the proportion of former armed forces prisoners was 6%, 4% and 5% respectively.

The MP contacted Napo, which represents probation and family court staff, which then gathered evidence from 22 probation areas.

Napo said its initial findings and data from the group Veterans in Prison suggested that “as many as 8,500 former soldiers are currently in custody in the UK”. On 15 August, the prison population was 93,574.

Harry Fletcher, assistant general secretary of Napo, said the number in prison could be greater than 8,500, and its studies suggest there could be more than 7,000 in England and Wales, and another 1,000 in Scotland.

Mr Fletcher said the “vast majority” of offences were violent and related to drugs or alcohol.

“There is no systematic availability of stress-related counselling. This should be made available without delay and would drastically reduce the number of receptions into custody”.

An MoD spokesperson said: “The MoD works closely with the service charities to support veterans when they leave the armed forces and for those who find themselves in prison.

“The Prison In-Reach initiative already provides advice on the support available to veterans before and after their release. Robust systems are in place to treat and prevent PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder) and other stress disorders.”

The MoD said counselling was always available to personnel, troops had briefings before and after postings, there were six mental health therapy pilot schemes, and veterans could have free assessments.

The Ministry of Justice said prisoners were given support in addressing the issues which led to their behaviour.


I’m a Hit Tart – Shame on me!

I started blogging as a release for the many thousands of thoughts in my head on a day to day basis. It is definitely therapeutic as my mind’s wanderlust now has a focus. I NEED to post about three times a day – why?

Because I have fallen for the allure of the stats graph. 

I’ve thought for some time that my memories of living through the conflict in West Belfast in the 1970s and 1980s might be of interest to some people. I believe that I wanted to capture a little of the positive history and architecture of Belfast (or what’s left of it!) and share it with you. I also believe that my take on some current affairs issues can be a bit smart-arse-ish but entertaining, but I’ve realised that by finding funny pictures and giving the posts snappy titles, I can double my hit rate in just two or three days (see graphic).

If my intention was to make money from advertising on my blog, that might be the correct strategy to follow. Actually, I just need to rant a little now and then, as a catharsis for the stress level I endure while at work (or reading the news, or dealing with the kids, or paying the bills, or…).

What to do? I can compromise my principles (?) and believe that by using the attractive and punchy post titles, I can live in hope that some of the readers will stay and read some of my archive. There…that’s my conscience salved for the moment. That was too easy – we’ll see how it goes.