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19 December, 2007

Lunching alone

I'd call myself a pretty social guy. I wouldn't choose to go to lunch alone over having company. Any company is usually fine. Someone you know well is comforting, safe, you can have a good laugh. Someone not so well is good, you can learn more about them and get past that "chit-chat" stage. Alone is kinda boring. At least I had my brain with me.

Today I had lunch on my own in McDonald's and I was glad for the experience. You tend to notice more going on around you. I noticed that now McDonald's has a 10 pc chicken nugget meal (probably old news but hey, it was new to me), that the said nuggets appear to taste and look fattier than either, that this can be confirmed or denied by looking at the nutritional information, that McDonald's are sneaky and clever to display the nutritional information in plain sight, on the back of the paper sheets that line the trays, that when three people are eating alone on three separate tables the mood becomes uncomfortable, that 12 o'clock is when construction site workers choose to flood the place, that people who look like they hadn't had a shower in 3 days REALLY stink (were you in there filmgeek??) and that picking a seat in a fast food restaurant is both a skill and an art form.

Christmas Decorations- My take....

So what's the deal with Christmas decorations? I love everything about Christmas decorations. Looking at other people's houses all lit up, driving past the lights in the park or down the street, decorating the tree and every spare space in the house. It adds a little happiness to the cold and dark and gloomy winters I think. I was decorating my tree last night, picking out the perfect spot for each decoration. And each decoration has a place on the tree. It's a complex mathematical formula deduced by the height and width of the tree, the thickness of it's branches, the weight of the ornament, how pretty it looks and whether or not the cat can reach it from there. I did pause halfway through the decoration thinking to myself "Isn't this a little crazy? Finding a tree that's already chopped down, then driving it home, putting it up in the living room, and then hanging things on it?" I mean how often do we normally decorate nature? We never get our pot plants all dressed up. (That's plants that are in pots....not the other kind).

I shrugged off the feeling though. Decorating a Christmas tree is so ingrained in me it didn't do me any good to think that way.

My favorite decoration has to be the outside snowflake lights. There is something satisfying about putting up outside decorations for all to see. It's kind of like shouting "Hey you! Look what I did to my dwelling! See how great I am! I managed to light up the OUTSIDE of my house, what have you done?? oh...what's that? You created a complete nativity scene, 6 inflatables, two miles of rope lighting, and hired a snow machine with real snow? And those are real reindeer? Do you have a permit for those? do. But do you have snowflake lights?? ha! Didn't think so! Nice try "buddy"!

A couple of vids

I'm not really one to surf through Youtube endlessly looking at videos. Especially not home-made rants about this or the other. I do appreciate effort though and these two videos show tremendous effort. Both are kinda mesmerizing so sit back and take ten minutes out of your Christmas shopping filled day.

12 December, 2007

Doing your best

I've been thinking about this subject for a couple of days now. Doing your best. I was taking a trip down memory lane, back to when I used to be in the Cub Scouts. I remember that when I was a scout we would have a ceremony each time we met in which we first unrolled the flag, and then at the end of the session would have lower the flag and then stow it away for the next week. Every week we would line up, be quiet and respect the moment, the flag, our leaders and the other scouts. The leader would bark "Scouts, do your best!" and we would reply in unison "We will do out best!". At the time it was just a learned response really. I was simply concerned with getting the reply right and not screwing up the whole thing. Especially if i was on flag duty.

I got to thinking though about the promise to do my "best". I mean, how often do we do our best? When are we given encouragement or push ourselves to give that little bit extra, work harder and can stand back afterwards and say "There you go, that was my best. This was the most that I could do." For me it's not very often. I mean I will put a lot of effort into things sure...90%, 95% but my best? I'm not so sure.

What sometimes makes us aim a little lower in life are the people who we either surround ourselves with or are put together with. I've found that in previous jobs it is the people around me who will distract me, pull me down, encourage me to not to do my best. It's those colleagues who will goof off, get bored and then try to gain some company by inviting you to join in the goof off session. I've had a couple of high school friends and colleagues like this. I've also had some who show up late, do the bare minimum, if any work, and leave early in their own little world. These kind of people are oblivious to the fact that their actions demoralize everyone else who are working hard for their money and picking up the slack.

Doing your best shouldn't be a daily thing. I mean I only had to promise to do my best once a week at scouts, but I think it should be something we all try to do, in at least one aspect of life every now and again.

11 December, 2007

Guesthouse - Room Escape Game

Another Point and Click game for the masses. Guesthouse. Not entirely sure why it has that name though. It's pretty awesome. Nice animation some interesting puzzles and less pixel hunting. Enjoy!

Twinkle - Room Escape game

Well it's Christmas and that means plenty of free time to play more games of course! Here is one I enjoyed for 10 mins...

Pizza time!

I hate calling in food orders...I recently ordered a pizza from Gino's. Stated my name and order and that we would be along to pick it up from the drive-thru.
So we pulled up to the window and said my name. The server disappeared for a few moments. Then returned looking confused. "What did you say the name was again?" Ms. Allclick repeated my name and off she went again. "oh no," I thought to myself "Did I call the other Gino's by mistake?". 5 seconds of semi-nervous waiting later she returned with the pizza and salad. We paid up and drove off.When we got home we realised why she had so much trouble.
Apparently although my name is spelt completely differently it actually sounds like "Mr. Wookit".

My reading list

After years of seeing the leaflets about I finally joined a book club. I think it's Mystery Guild, but I'm not entirely sure. The books don't seem to be out and out mysteries...they seem more like thrillers. So maybe it's Thriller (Michael Jackson-esque) "HEE HEE") Guild. Regardless, I think it's been pretty worthwhile. I have a steady stream of reading material at the moment and that keeps me happy and occupied. The first book I read (Ms. Allclick is reading them too, before me so we can review them after I finish) was Deep Storm by Lincoln Child. This was kinda sci-fi-y action-y rather than mystery. It's about a discovery deep under the Earth's crust and a facility this is built deep under the ocean. I won't say more than that but I enjoyed reading it. Child kept the pace going, the characters were very believable and the facility was easy to picture. They story had enough twists in it to keep you interested and it was researched very well.

My second book (which I'm currently reading) is The Vanishing. At the moment 70 pages in, I have no idea why it is called that, and what is going on. It is by Bentley Little (I think) and it's a very different reading style. A little too different for my liking. It jumps around a lot and a couple of incidences just seem a little far fetched...and I'm a sci-fi fan! anyhoo...

As Christmas approaches I'm reminded of one Christmas about 10 years ago when I read my first Stephen King book: "The Stand". I must have spent every single day of Christmas break reading that thing. It was huge and that had completely put me off it. But the more I read the more I couldn't put it down. I would sit on my mum's bed, listening to a light drizzle outside. Feeling safe and warm inside with my book. When I visited my Grandparent's I would read the book on the way, then upon arrival dash upstairs to get a few more chapters in before dinner. I still love that story today. I hope a few other kids take the time to read a good book this Christmas and use all that free time wisely.

06 December, 2007

Facebook: When greed happens

Anyone read the news this morning about Facebook? Not being a "Facebooker" I allowed myself a little smile. It seems that there new advertising venture "beacon" has failed horribly. I wonder how they did not see it coming? Here is a little summary of how it worked:

"As originally conceived, Beacon was a particularly egregious scheme for invading your privacy. Dozens of sites had contracted with Facebook to send people's surfing data to the social network; your profile would send out little messages to your friends about what you were doing on those sites -- telling them that you were shopping on, say, or were cooking certain recipes at Epicurious -- as a kind of ad for those sites.
Not only did Facebook not allow people to turn off the system, it also assumed that if you did not explicitly prohibit it from sending messages out from each site in its ad network, you were granting permission. In other words, Beacon was devised as an opt-out plan -- or, more precisely, it was plead-out, because getting the system to stop sending messages on your behalf involved a torturous number of steps. " (from

Although Facebook have now made this an opt-in feature I can't help but think other websites will begin following suit. Soon just opening up an Internet browser will be tracked, monitored and you will be emailed "relevant" adverts for "your convenience" and then promptly taken to each of those sites until you forget why you logged on in the first place.

05 December, 2007

Tis the season for snow

Well it looks like winter is finally upon us. I can tell this from two things. One, the parking lot this morning was covered in snow, and two I have my black "mugger" beanie on today. Both these things scream winter to me. There may have also been one or two adverts about Christmas or something as well I can't really remember. I seem to have an unnatural desire to buy Kay Jewellery and a Garmin though. Very strange. Just yesterday I emailed one of my brothers and said "Nope, no snow, maybe up in the mountains". I guess I should have paid more attention to the weather.

I like having snow at Christmas time. It just makes everything feel...well...more Christmassy. It was a rare occasion in England to have snow, so I have a childlike joy at seeing the white stuff and view it as a happy event. I'm sure there are many West Virginians who cursed and mumbled something about "driving on those icy bridges" this morning and they are right to do so, having seen a pickup trip do a 360 last year in the snow. So drive slow and safe out there today folks.