Thursday, November 30, 2006

Advent Series

You may not have noticed that I was aiming to blog every day of November but I was and I succeeded! This was for no particular reason (other than a personal challenge!) but it ties in nicely with my plan for December which is to have an Advent Calendar, with a different feature and aspect to aid reflection and hopefully increase anticipation in the build up to December 25th. I will carry on after 25th but obviously that won't be advent any more, but we can still reflect!
Every day will have a picture to reflect the theme and some words. If you come, you also get a chocolate and some other random items for the day which could be the day's colour, mood or weather report. I'm hoping it will be fun- I hope you enjoy it too!

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Mugging for pleasure and not for profit

After the conviction for murder of Donnel Carty, 19, and Delano Brown, 18, of lawyer Tom ap Rhys Pryce, the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) has released a study saying that previous attempts to explain violent street crime put too much focus on the desire for gain, and not enough on the aspect of "pleasure".

Again the answer is diversionary tactics to amuse would be criminal fun seekers. And again the focus seems to be aimed at "taking people off the street". Although not stated, it is implied that the potential criminals are teenagers. With this in mind some statistics given by the article make it even more interesting:
the average age of the offenders interviewed was 26, and a third of them said they belonged to criminal gangs.

I would like to propose a different scenario than perhaps the media spin would tend to give us. This isn't really about teenagers as the average age seems to be about 26
, I think this is more about a lack of positive role models, a lack of identity and a sense of belonging. And even though I do think that money should be available to these impoverished areas that these people come from, I don't think new facilities and schemes should be set up. Research need to be done on what is needed long term to build positive community identities and I think it's more about people than things.

BBC news story here

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Ethical spending

The annual survey of ethical spending in the UK, compiled by the Co-operative Bank, shows a record level of £29.4bn. This means that green spending has overtaken the £28bn spent on alcohol and cigarettes (excluding pubs)
This increase, 11% on the previous year, has been driven by growth in areas such as organic food, fair trade products, green energy deals and ethical financial products.

But it isn't just spending that is at stake.
In the same survey two years ago, shoppers said they were withholding £2.58bn worth of business from firms with which they disagreed.

BBC news story here

Monday, November 27, 2006

Middle Child Syndrome

Have been watching a Channel 5 programme called Middle Child Syndrome which talks about the insecurities and troubles that seem to present themselves when in the middle of a family. My family would appear to fit the classic pattern: eldest child highly acedemic and keen to please the parent, youngest child relatively easy going and into the performing arts, middle child a little at odds and fighting for attention.

How does this fit in with your experiences of family?

Sunday, November 26, 2006

LOST *spoilers!*

The new series of Lost has started on Sky One, which has meant a lot of devotees are unable to watch. The plus side is that we are getting to watch Lost a lot sooner than we would have done to co-incide with the Americans. I think this is a good thing: but then I do have Sky!

It looks as though our focus this season will be The Others. We have seen their village and they aren't the hill billies that we were led to believe they were in season 2. We have also found out that their leader who was held captive in the hatch in season 2 and was known to us as Henry Gale is actually called Benjamin Linus (although on IMDB he is credited as being Benjamin LiMus as well as Benjamin LiNus- is this significant? Probably not!) He also tells us that he has lived on the island his entire life.
I'm hoping that we get to see what happened to The Others when their leader was held captive. It would appear that all is not sunshine and rainbows for Them.
They have access to electricity and so it would appear, TV and computers, but again, do we know the whole story?
I doubt that this series will shed significantly more light on what is going on than any other of the series. But it is an enjoyable rollercoaster ride along the way.

Saturday, November 25, 2006

Board games

Spent the evening at church, firstly practicing the music for the morning service and secondly for a social board games evening. We all brought food and as you may have guessed, there were lots of quiches! I hesitatantly brought a game called "The Really Nasty Horse Racing Game" which I thought revolving around gambling, cheating and horse racing was probably likely to cause offence. I've no idea why I took it- probably because we really enjoy playing it as a family! Seeing as the person I was talking to was really keen to play, we set it up and played. It went down really well although we didn't have time to play anything else.

In conclusion- lying, cheating and gambling never pay- sorry, I mean the evening was fun. Next time (if there is a next time) I'd like to set up a backgammon tournament.

Friday, November 24, 2006

Retiring at 24?

Five-times Olympic gold medallist Ian Thorpe is retiring at 24, an age when most are taking their first tentative steps on the career ladder. But if you've achieved your goals so young, what do you do next?
Well, I'm not sure I'd have a problem but I can understand that retiring due to health or aging reasons as an athlete might have to would mean a complete career change. But retirement due to having enough money to live on wouldn't be a problem for me at all. What would you do with your days?

Thursday, November 23, 2006

Happy Birthday Bic Biros

Biros first went on sale in the UK 60 years ago this week. The were invented by Hungarian newspaper journalist Laszlo Biro who noticed that printing press ink dried quickly and used it in the nib of his pens with the help of a ball bearing.
The little things in life mean so much. BBC story here

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

David Blaine- Hero or Wacko?

David Blaine is spinning inside a gyroscope over New York City.

He will be inside the sphere which is suspended 15m above the ground for almost three days before attempting to escape from some shackles. Three spinning steel rings will flip Blaine in various directions up to eight times per minute. The illusionist said his biggest concerns, besides not eating or drinking, were the freezing weather and dizziness.

It makes me wonder, why? He's obviously a showman and performer and I understand that some people wish to push the limits of human endurance. It still holds very little interest for me but he's one of those people that it's good to have in the world because they cause a little sensation. Imagine if the most controversial the world got was to do with cooking flapjacks. It takes all sorts and I guess I'm up for being the one doing the flapjacks...

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

SOS bus

The SOS bus was set up after the tragic deaths of young people after binge drinking in Norwich. The project has helped more than 3,700 people since it was launched in April 2001 as a safe haven for drunk, distressed or vulnerable people.
The staff on the bus have been praised by a man who was savagely beaten near the station and helped by people on the bus.
Evening News story here.

Monday, November 20, 2006

Religion on show

The debates around religious sentiments expressed through clothing have really interested me. And the plot thickens... Nadia Eweida who is employed by British Airways has lost her appeal for the right to visibly wear her cross at the check-in counter. BA said its uniform policy stated that such items could be worn if concealed underneath the uniform. In the meeting, British Airways told her it respected her faith and accepted the cross was not jewellery, but would be standing by its original decision. Ms Eweida said people of other faiths were allowed to wear visible religious symbols such as headscarves and she wanted to be allowed to do the same. BA said in a statement: "British Airways has 34,000 uniformed staff, all of whom know they must abide by our uniform policy. "The policy does not ban staff from wearing a cross. It lays down that personal items of jewellery, including crosses may be worn - but underneath the uniform. Other airlines have the same policy.
The policy recognises that it is not practical for some religious symbols - such as turbans and hijabs - to be worn underneath the uniform. This is purely a question of practicality. There is no discrimination between faiths.

In Nadia Eweida's case, she is not suspended and we want her to come back to work. We have explained to her the need to comply with the uniform policy like all her colleagues whatever their faith."

Ms Eweida has been offered another non-uniformed post so that she can continue to wear her cross visibly but has turned it down.

What do you think? I think BA have been very clever here but I think they are bordering on discrimination especially as they admit that the cross isn't jewellery in this context.

Sunday, November 19, 2006

Interesting Fact No.10

Thallium poisoning is in the news due to a case of an ex-KGB colonel being seriously ill in hospital with a suspected case of it.

Thallium appparently is a little bit like table salt and that a very small amount could be lethal. It is a heavy metal that is tasteless, colourless, odourless and soluble in water. It takes about a gram to kill you.

If it gets into the body, it attacks the nervous system and internal organs. It also causes hair loss, vomiting, and diarrhoea. The early symptoms of poisoning are often confused with many viral diseases including influenza, delaying its detection. Within three days of being poisoned, victims can suffer headaches, muscle problems, convulsions, coma, delirium, dementia and even psychosis.

But it doesn't appear over the counter in a pharmacy so you only have to beware if you are a double agent.

Saturday, November 18, 2006

A Christmas Carol

I went with Daughter No 2 to see the Northern Ballet's A Christmas Carol on Thursday. It made me feel very Christmasy!

Friday, November 17, 2006

Just fine and dandy

Someone very wonderful made this for me!

Thursday, November 16, 2006


My bible reading today was Mark Chapter 5: The Healing of a Demon-possessed Man. I like the story because it puzzles me, like I'm not quite getting the significance. It's preceded by a chapter of parables and we are told that "Jesus spoke all these things to the crowd in parables; he did not say anything to them without using a parable" (Matthew 13:34). It has a flavour of the parable about it and yet it isn't. This man is a liability- even when chained he breaks free and hits himself with rocks. And yet Jesus talks to him. And negotiates with the demons? And what are the pigs doing in a place where pigs are felt to be unclean? I'd have been really annoyed had I been the pig farmer and I'd lost all my stock that day. In fact, Jesus is asked to leave. I wonder whether the villagers had base-ball bats?
Great story...

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Living Icons

BBC Two's Culture Show is getting people to nominate their Living Icons.
The criteria was given:
Your icon must be:
* Living
* Have been born in the United Kingdom or be living in the United Kingdom
* Have made an impact on British cultural life
Other things to consider which are not compulsory but might help your choice:
* If your icon died tomorrow, would they make front page news?
* Has your icon made a cultural impact beyond their personal skills or field of work?
* Will their name be recognised by young and old alike?
* Will we still be talking about them in ten years time?

The top 10 nominated people were:
Vivienne Westwood
David Bowie
David Attenborough
Stephen Fry
Kate Bush
Kate Moss
Paul McCartney
Michael Caine
Alan Bennett

From that list I possibly would vote for Stephen Fry because I like him but think that Paul McCartney is the person on the list with the most iconic influence. Do you think that anyone is missing from that list? Who would you vote for?

Tuesday, November 14, 2006


This is the new "adult" sci-fi spin off from the makers of Doctor Who, staring John Barrowman as Captain Jack Harkness. I have been a trifle disapointed with the series so far as it has just allowed them to swear and for lots of snogging (including boy-boy and girl-girl). However the episode two weeks ago (with a half human half cyberwoman) looked a little better and this week's (with evil fairies) was superb all bar one line where Gwen says "It wasn't your dad that went out with her during the war, it was you!" Yes Gwen, it was obvious for all to see and you pointing it out killed the moment. Other than that, top episode!

Monday, November 13, 2006

Sunday Trading

I have recently offered to help at our church's Traidcraft stall which we have after the service once a month. As Traidcraft is a charity, I haven't really felt uncomfortable that this happens. Now we have a very talented young lady who makes cards and sells them with the proceeds going towards the building fund of the church which again I don't have a problem with. But on Sunday there was another stall and I'm starting to feel really uneasy at all the commerce that's going on. Should I be uneasy? Or am I just being silly? Could anyone enlighten me?

Sunday, November 12, 2006

Another letter to Charles Clarke?

Thinking about writing a letter to Charlie about the state of funding to what used to be the Norfolk Youth and Community Service which has evolved into the Children's Services Central Area Youth Work Team (trips off the tongue, doesn't it?)
Was wondering where that leaves me as an employee? Is it ethically right for me to grumble about the state of where I work?

Saturday, November 11, 2006

Bobble hats for Smoothies

Age Concern Norfolk have seen their members knit more than 1600 mini bobble hats to be placed on bottles of Innocent Smoothies. Participating Age Concern groups receive 50p from each bottle sold- 25p from Innocent and 25p from the retailer. Bobble hatted drinks will be found in Sainsburys from the end of November until Christmas.

Friday, November 10, 2006


Apparantly this is the most watched video on YouTube at the moment. It's a Dove advert that tries to show that the beauty industry can take a very ordinary individual and transform them completely by make-up and computer touch up.

Thursday, November 09, 2006


Childline is celebrating its 20th birthday.
BBC news story here
Childline website here

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Blog Watching via Driftwood

It's great to hear that Heather has been informally elected as "Blog Watcher" for Network Norwich! She will no doubt give what we say a larger audience which I think is a good thing. This post is addressing "why" I blog as requested by Heather:
Anyway I'd like to do my first piece on why people use their precious time to blog - what got you started, how does it benefit you and what are your hopes and visions for your blog?
I have tried but failed writing a diary previously but blogging is different. I think if bloggers are honest there are altruistic reasons why we blog and there are selfish reasons. The selfish reasons first I believe stem from: blogging is a fantastic platform. Stand up and speak to a room of people and you could get heckled, but not via a blog. What you say, goes. You get to vent your spleen, opine or wax lyrical; from start to finish, your piece is said. However ill-formed, bigoted or hackneyed your ideas are, once the "publish" button is clicked, the whole world has access to them. I think the megalomanic in us all craves a blog to announce to the world "Here I am! Start recognising me!".

Having said that, in more humble mode, you can test out ideas via a blog. My head tends to be a jumble of different thoughts that benefit from unpicking and piecing back together. It can make your arguements more robust as you work out what you say and how to say it. I love the response aspect of blogs. You say your piece and then others come along and add their opinion: sometimes they agree and sometimes draw attention to additional information you hadn't considered. It has an organic feel in that respect. Not only can people comment on your blog but also your post could inspire someone else to write up their thoughts on their blog. This builds up quite a community.

Community life in blogs works as you link to others and others link to you. I hadn't ever realised that when I started blogging that I would develop an indepth relationship with other people; some of them previously known to me but others not.

I had originally hoped that this blog could lead to me doing some creative writing but that hasn't worked out. I'm not sure I would feel comfortable doing so and I'm not sure a blog is the best place to write in that way unless you adopt a fake persona. I have however used my blogging to help me in my studies as I use the process of developing thoughts and ideas on various topics around youth work. I printed some of these up to be used in my competence folders for my diploma.

I have also started a blog specifically on green issues, with an emphasis on my journey and The Church. This has worked well because I haven't set up the blog as an expert, just someone trying to find out more. I want to build it up as a resource to use with helpful links and snippets concerning lastest findings and reports.

Sometimes the two blogs overlap but only if I feel that more people need to be aware of a campaign. I will try and keep the two seperate. And although recently opinion has been sneaking into The Wastelands, it is more about telling things straight rather than moralising. I tend to do that in this blog!

Other positives about using the internet to write a diary? It's dead easy! You don't have to be a programmer to set up a blog. With ready made templates and step by step guidance, it's a doddle to do! I have good access to the computer and the internet- no tree is ever harmed in the production of my ramblings! For some who have relatives abroad or are at uni find that a blog is a good way to keep in touch: speedier than a postcard. I personally I didn't really ever need it for those reasons.

Down sides about blogging though include keeping it regularly updated- many days can go by without feeling inspired. Sometimes blogging can be inane- my inanity tends to involve "Interesting Facts"... in all truth, this tends to mean I have run out of ideas for a thread! Shhhh!

So in conclusion- everyone should give blogging a go. It's great!

Tuesday, November 07, 2006


I have never been enamoured of Ricky Gervais. I find humour based around a weak ineffectual man, lame and it appears that this is his trademark. Can he do anything else? Why yes! He was in a (failed) pop group in the 80's. He's a stand up comic. He writes for others (eg The Simpsons). He's also written a series of children's books called Flanimals. Until looking it up on Wikipedia, I was under the mistaken apprehension that he had drawn the illustrations (which let's face it, makes the book). Oh dear! I'm still not "getting" Ricky Gervais. I think it's probably becuase the nagging doubt in my mind that there really is less to him than meets the eye is probably about right.
And although Borat is not my type of humour, it surprised me to learn this week that Sacha Baron Cohen, the character's creator and performer was also Ali G. Here I can appreciate that something that isn't necessarily to my taste has some skill and appeals to lots of people.
Although I probably won't be watching either men, I know which I'd choose any day of the week. The one with talent.

Monday, November 06, 2006

School Dinners- the debate continues...

It's interesting to see the "proof of the pudding" stats rolling in about school dinners. The news isn't partucularly good for Jamie Oliver. Kids don't want healthy meals, don't recognise traditional good food and are generally suspicious of what is presented to them. A really good article can be found here on the BBC news site. From that article:
Irene Carroll, national chairman of the Local Authority Caterers Association, told the Five Live..."a key problem was that children were not being given healthy food by their parents.

"Jamie hung his programme on school meals. It was a shame because school meals weren't the real problem," she said.

I think she's right. The problem is that we in the UK eat badly: adults, teens and children. We have a culture of eating badly. Present wonderful vegetable bakes and nutricious stews for lunch and you may get some pupils eating and enjoying. You never know, you could convert the whole school to delicious meals. BUT at the end of the day, they'll spend £3 on the way home on a Mars Bar, a blue raspberry Slush Puppy and a can of Irn Bru. Breakfast may well be a couple of packets of crisps. Mum may well bring bags of chips to pass through the school fence as a snack and tea tonight will be Ross's finest frozen fare.
My advice? Give up on the teenagers and parents: start with the first school age children. Teach them the importance of fresh ingredients: make them food snobs. We all know that nag power is what prevails so if Suzie nags mum not to get Turkey Drummers then she'll have to give in and choose brocolli eventually. Oh and stop trash food being advertised ont he TV. That and penalise the convenience food industry through some obscure taxes.

Sunday, November 05, 2006


This review of Saw III in The Independent made me laugh out loud. Follow this link to see the other reviews of the same film!
Go and see a film where people have to saw off their own feet, watch as their rib-cages are ripped from their bodies, and be drowned in a vat of liquefied pig guts, the editor said. See if you can endure it without puking or fainting. So, naturally, I fetched my 86-year-old granny and wheeled her to the nearest cinema.

My nan is the sweetest, gentlest old woman in the world, but for some reason she's always had an appetite for psychotically sadistic horror films. Some of my fondest memories from childhood are sitting up late at night with her, watching I Spit on Your Grave, Nightmares in a Damaged Brain and a hundred other video nasties.

We were already aficionados of the Saw films. For those of you who haven't seen them (where have you been?) they feature a serial murderer called Jigsaw placing an innocent civilian in a dilemma. You wake up wired to a hideous machine - its exact nature varies - and a white-faced puppet mask, which looks uncannily like the Tory MP John Redwood, appears before you to explain you can either elaborately mutilate your body to get away, or stay and die in agony. Imagine an edition of the Krypton Factor presented by Fred West, and you've got the idea.

From the first mutilation in Saw III, my nan was clapping her hands in glee. "Look, son - he's got to burn his face off on the pipe to get the key!" she exclaimed as I was gagging and retching into my popcorn. The camera never averts its gaze: you see every smashed bone and maggoty wound. "Whoever directed this should be sectioned," I groaned as yet another actor was turned into an interchangeable pile of body parts. "And given an Oscar!" she cried.

As a victim was having his arms and legs twisted from his body, I asked Nan how she could stand it. "Oh, once you've lost control of your bowels, nothing looks very gross any more, darlin'," she said. "Now shut up, look - his leg's come right off!" The only way to survive Saw III is with your nan there to hold your hand. Just make sure she doesn't saw it off when you're not looking.

Saturday, November 04, 2006

Your 10 Shuffle Tunes

Post here the 10 tunes that play on shuffle on your I-Pod, mp3 or i-tunes.

Here are mine:

1) Tell me What You See -The Von Blondies
2) Bleed From Within -The Music
3) Song For the Dead -Queens of the Stone Age
4) Cold Hard Bitch -JET
5) Because -The Beatles
6) Please Forgive Me -David Gray
7) Apple Tree -Wolfmother
8) Enough Space -Foo Fighters
9) Never Be Lonely -The Feeling
10) Shut Down -The Beach Boys

Friday, November 03, 2006

Interesting Fact No.9

A survey found Winchester to be the nicest place to live in the UK according to research for Channel 4's The Best And Worst Places to Live In The UK.
Winchester City Council's site
Channel 4

Thursday, November 02, 2006

National Vegan Week

Well how bizarre is that? Not only is it British Sausage Week, but it's also National Vegan Week! Apparantly humans use much less land and water if they eat crops directly rather than through the intermediary of an animal. There are many vegan alternatives to everyday products such as soya milk and vegan hair conditioner. But Guinness is off the menu as it uses fish in its production processes.

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Celebrating British Sausage Week

The meat should be predominantly pork in sausages and the main event in sausage week is the search for Britain's Supreme Sausage Sarnie. There are more than 400 different varieties of sausage and sales last year worth more than £500m. Sausages are most likely to be eaten on Saturday and the world's longest sausage was 35 miles long, made in a previous sausage week.