Tag Archives: technology

The beauty of it

Since she started at senior school, A has become more and more interested in make up. I’ve never worn much make up. I’m not very confident applying it and I don’t really like the way it makes my skin feel, so other than a bit of mascara and some concealer for the dark circles that live permanently under my eyes, I tend not to bother too much. I’ve found it quite interesting to see A become almost obsessed with it. I say obsessed – she rarely wears it to go out. She has bought quite a few (cheaper) items and loves watching YouTube video tutorials, follows make up accounts on Instagram and loves to film herself doing similar “looks” which she then posts on her own Instagram account(*) – she has one devoted to make up so that her friends who are not interested in it don’t get sick of seeing her videos!

I have to admit to finding it a bit irritating. She used to love to read more than anything. She used to sew and bake and colour and do crafty things. She still reads a lot but not as much as she used to. She still does crafty things but not as much as she used to. I quite often find myself asking her to do something else, when I find her filming herself again or removing make up in the bathroom again (we get through a lot of Micellar Water!) It normally leads to some sort of row but that’s OK, that’s what parents and teens do right?

I didn’t follow her make up account for quite some time. I get to see the effects first hand most of the time – she quite often comes down to dinner with one eye made up in some garish, amazing, impressive, beautiful design – so I don’t need to see how she did it or read the comments from her equally obsessed friends. Then I had coffee with a friend whose daughter is in the same year as A. She mentioned the make up videos and before I had chance to roll my eyes (it’s not just teens that are allowed to do that you know) and say anything derogatory, she went on to say how impressed she was when her daughter showed her one, how confidently A comes across and how much she liked watching her. Oh. I had to admit to not seeing any of them and actually felt a bit bad.

So that evening I requested to follow her and without discussion was granted permission. (I don’t generally follow the kids accounts – T follows A and I know he keeps a beady eye on any nonsense – and prefer not to have kids following mine, not because I post anything unpleasant but I’m 45, not 15, and my photos/posts are not of their world.)

I sat down and watched her latest video. I was impressed. I haven’t watched anyone else doing this stuff so have nothing to compare to, but watching my girl smiling and pulling faces at the camera, putting on this amazing make up design made me smile. She is funny and the way she edits the video – sped up and music playing, no talking, lots of waving – is brilliant. I loved it. My friend was right, she’s great. I didn’t read all of the caption listing which products she used, etc. but she had some lovely comments from other girls and other make up obsessives. I still wish she spent more time reading or doing something else but can see that this is creative in it’s own way and gives her a lot of pleasure. She’s good at it and she enjoys it. She washes it off almost straight away and she looks her age when she goes out. (Maybe a bit more than her actual age due to her height but age-appropriate).

This morning, I had a quick look at Instagram while I was waiting for the kettle to boil. She has posted a couple of pictures of herself with no make up on and she has written a long piece beneath them.

“For a while I’ve been feeling fairly insecure about the way I look, my teeth, how I run etc. In the long run these are all silly things that can be fixed or learnt to live with, braces can fix my teeth and so on. Recently, maybe over the last couple of year, have I really accepted myself and learnt to love myself the way I am, as I was born to look and be this way, and that no one can change who I am. This post is kind of a way to show and let other people out there who may feel insecure to know that you are you, and well you should be happy about yourself and maybe even find a way to turn these insecurities into securities because in the end they are what makes us stand out as unique and different, allow us to stand out. Now that I’ve said that I want to address another thing which is that some people think that girls and boys wear make up to cover over and to mask themselves. This is not true! Yes it can be a way to boost confidence and help someone feel good about themselves, but it’s also a way of expressing themselves and make a point through something other than a painting or sketch, it’s a way of expressing feelings in a creative way. Because at the end of the day it can be removed. It’s not permanent. Personally I don’t wear makeup every day and even when I do, most of the time I don’t wear out half of what I put on my face in my videos. I mostly just fill in my brows and that’s it for school, maybe pop on a bit of mascara or concealer if I feel like it or maybe do some eye-shadow for a special occasion or weekend. I rarely wear out a winged eyeliner or a smoky eye or a bold contour. Anyways, I hope this post has maybe inspired or supported some people. xxx”

Most of this I knew. I know she has always been very self-conscious of her front teeth, which are now as good as perfect and look like a completely different set of teeth to the ones she had three years ago. I know she is self-conscious of the way she runs – she has been under pressure from a (particularly unpleasant) girl in her form to take part in the school sports day, running the 1500m. She is only pressurising her because she knows of A’s feelings about running. Luckily, A is made of sterner stuff than that and has stood her ground, steadfastly refusing to be bullied into it. I know that she gets silly comments from some of the boys about her make up account. She doesn’t care – she loves doing it and she just asks them why they are watching if they are not interested!

She’s only 13 and like many other 13 year old girls she likes putting on make up. Big deal. What is a big deal is how much she thinks about stuff.; how sensitive and thoughtful she is; how much she wants to be positive and help others to feel more positive. She is my own personal cheer leader and makes me feel better about myself all the time. To me, she is beautiful inside and out. Make up or no make up, perfectly brushed hair or bed head. She may not spend as much time reading or baking as she used to, but this latest hobby (I won’t call it an obsession any more) has given her confidence, made her think about the bigger issues and it makes her happy. And that makes me happy too.

(* all her accounts are private and she knows to “vet” any potential followers and we talk – well, I talk while she rolls her eyes – about being safe online etc, etc.)

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Did you hear that?

There’s been a thing going around on social media , a bit like the dress thing from last year where you either saw a blue or a gold dress (forgive me if the colours are wrong, I wasn’t that bothered by it), where you have to listen to a sound clip of someone saying a name. Depending on how you hear certain sound frequencies, you will hear either one name or another. We were talking about it over dinner last night and while I was aware of it but hadn’t actually listened and taken the test, K was completely unaware of it. T decided we needed to do it and, although I was sceptical, K and I heard different things. I could hear the higher frequency word and he could hear the lower frequency one. I was delighted that the explanation is that younger people are more likely to hear the higher one than older people. I am officially 9 months younger than K but clearly my ears are even younger! Or maybe I am just more “down with the kids” than he is ūüėČ

It did get me thinking about the number of conversations that K and I have which, at a later date, are remembered differently by one of us. I always thought this was a man thing or a K thing or some thing that I just had to put up with. Maybe I just need to start speaking in a lower tone so that he is more likely to actually hear the words that I am saying? It also explains a lot about my hearing sensitivity. While I sometimes struggle to hear people talking – maybe they are talking in low frequency voices? – I also suffer from tinnitus from time to time (usually when I am stressed out) and often, normally when I have a headache, can’t bear too much noise. I have to turn off the radio (I love listening to music so this is a big deal) and often hear high pitched noises that no-one else can seem to hear. It drives me mad.

Interestingly A could hear a different word at different times. This is apparently not uncommon and depends on what your sensitivity is at a given time. T could hear the same as me. K got quite cross by it and thought we were winding him up that we could hear a different word. Fascinating. I wonder how much voice changers cost on Amazon…?

If you haven’t already, you can read about it¬†here¬†and take the test.

yanny

Hips don’t lie and FAITH.

Not sure the title is particularly relevant but its the only song I know with the word hips in it, apart from “hippy, hippy, shake” but there’s not been a lot of that going on.

The MRI showed that I have a cyst, stuck between my hip bone and my groin. It showed up on the scan like a huge tumour so I was really pleased that the consultant didn’t keep us waiting before explaining it is actually just a fluid filled sac and can be easily sorted out.

Sitting in the waiting room beforehand I had been lurching from it being osteoarthritis like Auntie B had or a tumour; to sciatica or nothing. None of these options were a particularly great prospect. Sadly, due to my profound lack of medical training, a cyst had not even entered anywhere close to my radar of thoughts so I only had extreme self-diagnoses to go on. Luckily, the consultant is incredibly knowledgeable and set me straight. I am going to have it drained tomorrow night, followed by a steroid injection to ease the inflammation. I am not looking forward to this, but I am focusing on the fantastic news that within 48 hours I should be up to going for a walk. A walk! Hurrah. I cannot begin to explain how much I have missed walking. It’s the only exercise I truly enjoy, it’s great for my head-space, and my body seems to like it too.¬† I can’t wait to be back pounding the pavements and fields once more.

Faith. No, I have not come over all born-again in the aftermath of the MRI results. I AM very grateful to whoever or whatever is steering my life but that’s as far as I am prepared to go on that score.

‘Faith: the Legacy’ is the name of a George Michael tribute act that I went to see last night at a local venue. The poor chap was suffering from “man-flu” (his words not mine) and his voice was clearly suffering a bit. He had a passing resemblance to the man himself but this was mainly due to his haircut and jawline more than anything else. His Brummie accent was a little off-putting but we weren’t there to listen to him talk, we were there to listen to him sing and to have a bit of a jig (hips permitting) to the old classics. We weren’t disappointed in the music, the singing was OK – fab backing singers – and all in all it was a fun night. One of the lovely ladies I was with pointed out – when we were singing along to one of the early hits – that we would have been around the age of our daughters when the song was in the charts. If my hip wasn’t making me feel old, that certainly did! It was great to remember how the songs made me feel when I was a teenager and how much joy George Michael’s music still gives me. It was a tribute, it wasn’t in any way a substitute for the real thing, but it was great fun and what more can you ask than that?

 

Darkest Hour at The Odyssey

Last night, K and I went to watch Darkest Hour at The Odyssey cinema.

I love The Odyssey. When I was a child and then a teenager, and even into my early twenties, The Odyssey was an Odeon cinema and the only cinema in the local vicinity. It was where we always went when we wanted to see a film. It wasn’t a regular event as a family (E.T., Crocodile Dundee are ones I remember seeing with M&D and P) but when I was a bit older I used to go regularly with friends. It wasn’t a brilliant cinema in today’s standards: it had 3 screens in it’s heyday, a small pick and mix shop next door and (more appreciated as I got older) a pub just a few doors away. But it was accessible; the bus was reliable and it was a good place to meet friends.

Incomprehensibly to my children, we had to wait for the local paper to be published on a Thursday to see what films would be showing during the coming week and we either had to wing it and hope that they had tickets when we showed up, or in later years, if we had kind parents with a credit card we could book over the phone. The films didn’t change all that regularly so when a new release arrived it was very exciting.¬† Equally, if we missed seeing something while it was showing, it was game over – wait until the video came into the local rental shop some excruciating months later. This would, without doubt, seem like torture to our youngsters now in the world they inhabit with instant entertainment at their fingertips: streaming services, downloads, multiplex cinemas with 10 plus screens, online booking, pre-booking, etc.

The Odeon shut down in 1995 when out-of-town complexes became the norm. I was sorry to see it go and there was a lot of opposition locally. But, going to the multiplex soon became the norm and now with 4 in a 15 mile radius to choose from we are not exactly short of options.

The Odeon reopened in 2014 under a new name, The Odyssey (in homage to local director Stanley Kubrick’s film A Space Odyssey) and it is beautiful. It has one screen – the original Main Screen of the old days – and has downstairs seating, with tables and chairs or sofa options, in addition to the normal, upstairs seating. You can buy a glass of wine, a gin and tonic, borrow a blanket or a cushion, the seats are generous and comfy and there is plenty of legroom. But, what makes it so special is the feeling it gives me when I walk into the auditorium: I feel 15 again and it evokes such strong memories of my childhood that it makes me very, very happy. There is no booming noise, no brighter than bright lights. There is a curtain across the screen, there is subtle, subdued lighting, art-deco finishes and the film is introduced by a real person who walks on and talks about upcoming films and the film you are about to see. They talk with passion about films and they clearly love working there. It’s fab.

We saw trailers for Darkest Hour when we went to see Murder on the Orient Express as a family late last year. K and I both said how good it looked and were astonished to find that it was Gary Oldman playing Churchill. I’m a big fan and it looked gripping, so it seemed a no-brainer to try and see it. Unfortunately, we didn’t get around to it, but I was chuffed when I saw it was being shown at The Odyssey. Just like in the old days, you have to either book in person, by phone or, a day later, online. I didn’t want to risk not getting seats so phoned on the day of general release and bagged two seats on the front row of the upstairs seating (an aisle seat for me, obviously). The front row has so much leg room, even I can stretch my legs out. Fab.

The film itself was very, very good. I deliberately hadn’t read much about it. I’m familiar with the facts of Churchill’s rise to power and knew it focused on the start of the second world war. The trailers we’d seen showed the epic “on the beaches” speech in Parliament so I knew it would have some standout moments. I knew Oldman had won the Best Actor BAFTA recently and there was no question it would be a stellar performance. He was phenomenal and so were the supporting cast. It was funny, emotional, clever and enlightening. It wasn’t epic but it was very good. I am glad I have seen it, but, in hindsight, I would have been equally happy if we had waited until it was available to stream at home. The problem with The Odyssey is that it is a little bit too comfortable: the temperature is just right, the seats are soft, you can stretch your legs. In addition to this, I had my woolly scarf keeping me nice and warm. Sadly, all of this meant that my eyes shut for a little bit too long on a couple of occasions. Only for a matter of seconds,¬†I didn’t miss any of the film and I didn’t make any unfortunate snoring noises. But, it did make me wonder how much I was enjoying the film. I have this issue at home – I love Silent Witness and Shetland but they always seem to lull me into a sleepy state and I miss bits. It was on a par with that. Very good, but not enough to keep my eyes open the entire time.

So, full marks for The Odyssey; 8 out of 10 for the film itself. Not that I’m a critic. But the eyes don’t lie.¬†Odyssey-42

Hips, tunnels and music

I’ve had a problem with my right hip for a while (OK, about 12 months) and after a particularly bad day a few weeks ago I finally bit the bullet and went to see the GP. I’m not a fan of going to the doctors. I always take the kids without much hesitation, erring on the side of better safe than sorry when it comes to their health. With my own, I’m less conscientious and always expect to be made to feel like I am wasting their time. I don’t know what this is based on, as I’ve never had a bad experience and have always come away feeling generally happy with the care and the outcome of a visit.

The GP examined me quite intensively (at one point making me yelp) and agreed that there was definitely something going on. She suggested it may be Trochanderic Bursitis which is (in simple terms for any other lay persons out there like me) inflammation or irritation of the padded bit around the hip joint. She had suffered with it herself at one point and it eventually cleared up on it’s own. Having witnessed the yelping she was kind enough not to send me away on the basis of her own experience and suggested that physio may be in order. I mentioned that K has private medical insurance through work and she immediately suggested an appointment with an Orthopaedic Surgeon for a more specialised opinion and if physio was needed this would also be covered by the insurance.

I love the NHS; I think it is a fantastic institution and am eternally grateful for all the times that I, and those that I love, have been the beneficiary of it’s care. However, faced with a potential wait of another 6 months to see a consultant and the inevitable wait for a scan and then another appointment was not appealing, now that I had finally got the ball rolling. I called BUPA the next day and was given an authorisation code. Within a few days I had a letter from our local private hospital with an appointment for the following week.

I saw the consultant last Friday. He agreed that I do have some symptoms of bursitis but that I also have symptoms that don’t fit with this diagnosis. He suggested an MRI would be a good starting point and, once we see what it shows up, he will decide on a course of action. Like all good consultants he didn’t speculate on other possible causes. I wouldn’t like to play poker against him (even if I knew the rules).

The MRI was duly booked in for the following Wednesday (yesterday) after much joking with the receptionist about it being Valentines Day and surely I would be being wined and dined. Oh, how we laughed. She booked me in for 7pm.

I am not a fan of enclosed spaces; I don’t like sitting close to people; I have to have an aisle seat at the cinema and theatre. An MRI? I wracked by brains to remember back to episodes of ’24 hours in A&E’¬† – was the MRI the tunnel one or was that the CT scanner? I was pretty sure the MRI was the tunnel one. She gave me a leaflet. It was the tunnel one. Oh hell.

Needless to say, I didn’t sleep too well on Tuesday night (massively exacerbated by the full-caff coffee which the hopeless waitress at the pub where I had dinner with my friend “kindly” gave me instead of the decaf that I’d ordered) and by teatime on Wednesday I was pretty anxious. K kindly chauffeured me and metaphorically held my hand until it was time to go in. Gowned up and procedure explained to me by the very patient technician I was ready to go. Luckily, as it was my hip/pelvis being scanned I didn’t have to go in all the way. My head poked out by a few centimetres. I had ear plugs in, ear defender headphones with music playing (I could have taken a CD) and a panic button in case I, well, panicked. The fact that I was given a panic button made me slightly more panicked than I would have been if they’d said, “you’ll be fine, we’ll be right outside”. The fact that a panic button is sometimes necessary worried me. The noise, the vibration, the length of time it took, along with the panic button gripped in my vice-like claw made the whole experience almost unbearable. The music helped a bit. I quite liked some of the songs (a weird mash-up of One Republic/Hosier/The Script/One Direction (why?) like some strange boy-band compilation) and counting how many songs had passed with an average duration of 3 minutes each was a good puzzle for my poor, tired, emotional, overwrought brain.¬†It was over in about half an hour; but it was a long half an hour.

I am back to see the consultant next Friday to find out the results and to see what the next course of action is.

 

Patience is a virtue……

……I definitely don’t possess.

I’ve been trying so hard. I’ve been patient waiting for the planning to go through (it still hasn’t, but I am zen-like and not allowing it to bother me), I have been patient waiting for builders quotes (some are really quick and others not so much). I have been calm during the return to school and I have only lost it once (when T was demonstrating typical Teen Brain behaviour). I have been trying hard and winning, mostly.

On Monday, I was likened to a caged tiger.

I went into the office early to get ahead of myself as Mondays are always my busiest day, catching up on enquiries from the weekend and any issues from Friday, when my colleague covers for me. I logged in and immediately my computer told me I had to run an update. No choices, no “run later” option or exit button, I had to do it. One of my bosses arrived about half an hour later and it was still running. I had a bit of a moan and he sympathised. I made us a coffee (my second) and I opened some post. Forty-five minutes later it rebooted – hurrah! – and I was all set to get started. Then, it said “installing updates, this will take some time”. Not may take some time,¬†WILL take some time. As if forty-five minutes wasn’t long enough.¬†The other boss arrived so I made another coffee; listened to the radio, did the Pop Master quiz; went to the loo – again. I think I must have been making my frustrations very well known (I was pretty wound up knowing that there was going to be even more emails to action as I had now been waiting nearly two hours to get going) because when I walked – maybe that should be ‘stalked’ – over to the franking machine my boss told me I was like a caged tiger. I had been pacing around a bit, I had been huffing and puffing quite a lot and there had been quite a bit of arms-thrown-up-in-the-air-in-disgust at the ridiculously slow increase of the “percentage complete” figure. I know I’m not the most patient of people. I know it’s a failing. But, when 99% of your job is done by computer and said computer is out of action it is VERY frustrating – there is nothing else to do. I hate doing nothing, unless I have chosen to do nothing and even then I can’t do it for long. But, I guess neither of my bosses have ever witnessed this before and, although I was technically doing nothing¬†on their time, they were finding it highly amusing. Anyway, after 2 hours and twenty minutes of waiting, I was able to login and get started. Only to find that the poxy update had buggered up one of my email accounts and I couldn’t access it. Arrrggggghhhhh. As Mondays go, it was not the best.

Yesterday was fine. I was working from home and apart from having to move into the dining room because the office was bloody freezing, I had a productive day.

This morning, I felt like I was back on track and even the internet connection seemed to be behaving when the radio stopped playing. Then the wireless symbol on my laptop went orange (I hate that colour). This is not an unusual phenomenon as our internet connection is pretty hit and miss even when you are sitting right next to the router, so I wasn’t overly worried. Then I noticed how quiet it was.

Why was it so quiet?

Ah, the fridge freezer wasn’t making that weird groaning noise that it makes. This wasn’t just a Wi-Fi issue. This was a Power Cut. Again, this is not unusual for our village. There is a local Facebook group (that I am no longer part of because – did I mention this before? – I am no longer on Facebook) that has 100 comment long posts about Power Cuts – we have them almost weekly and sometimes a few short ones in the space of an hour. So, again, I wasn’t too worried. Stupidly, and I do this every bloody time, I got up to make a cup of tea! Doh! Picked up my phone to look at my personal emails. No signal. Huh. No problem, it will be back on soon.

Twenty minutes later and nothing. This is unusual, they normally only last a few minutes.

OK, I’ll read my book for ten minutes and then it will be back on.

Ten minutes later, nothing. By now, I was getting pretty wound up and the caged tiger was prowling again. I couldn’t even check if this was an actual Power Cut as I had no connection to the internet. Then, I remembered – my work phone is on O2….maybe it would have a signal where my EE phone didn’t. It did! Hurrah. I made it into a hotspot and got my laptop connected up to it. Answered the emails that had come in and then checked the Power Cut Checker website. It was an ACTUAL Power Cut! They had turned the power off so they could do some emergency repairs caused by the high winds last night. Annoying, but at least now I knew. It would be off for some time. No more emails to do, so I made the executive decision to nip out and run the errands I had planned to do at school pick up time. So off I went.

I had no sooner left the village when my phone bipped to say that our security camera was back online (it runs on the Wi-Fi) meaning the power was BACK ON. For god’s sake. Should I turn around like the conscientious person I am and carry on working, or just keep going? I kept going. I returned some stuff to one shop and then I went into the pound shop for some washing up liquid ¬†– and came out with ¬£12 worth of other items. What is it about pound shops? I can’t ever just go in for one thing and come out with one thing. ¬†Anyway, I digress. I could write a whole blog post on that subject alone.

I got home and the power was indeed back on and when I checked the Power Cut Checker website it confirmed it was back on for good (or at least until the weekly mini cut that we will almost certainly get). Hurrah.

What both these episodes have highlighted is two things: I am not patient (we already knew this) and we rely massively on electricity. I’ve just finished reading a novel set in the early 1800’s and I do wonder if I would have found living in that era less frustrating. If I had to go back in time, leaving behind all the convenience of life in the 21st Century, I would undoubtedly be a nightmare to live with. But never knowing the “joys” of technology and electricity, if I had been born into that time, would I have been less impatient? If I had to hand write everything, wait for a reply, walk everywhere, live life at a slower pace, perhaps I would not get so wound up. Or maybe I would have this trait regardless of what period of time I lived in, and as a 19th Century lady (I would probably more likely have been in service rather than being waited on, but this is a “what if” and we don’t have to be realistic) I would have fired countless ladies maids for being too slow to button my dress up. Ok, we need to stop right there: the idea of wearing dresses is a step too far, even in a “what if” scenario.

Let’s just say, this week has done nothing to help my goal of being more zen-like but I just have to accept that sometimes life will conspire against me. Next week will be better. Positive, see? That’s me.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Finally….Facebook Free

I’ve been holding off and holding off. I’ve made excuses like “I’ll miss seeing this person’s posts” or “I need it to keep up with Book Club”. ¬†The problem with it is: it gets under your skin. You start by ‘just looking’ at specific things, but then before you know it you’re liking things and then your friends who don’t even know the person whose thing you’ve liked will see that you’ve liked it and how odd is that? It gets to a point where all you see is that someone you know has liked something from someone you don’t know. And then before you know it you find yourself throwing your hands up in the air and screaming at the screen “FFS, why do I need to see that X has liked that thing by Stranger Z?” ¬†or words to that effect.

Anyway, today I had a message from the lovely¬†people at Facebook to say that the Groups App is being discontinued and after a few more weeks will be no more. I have managed to keep away from the main event by using the Groups App to look at For Sale groups and Book Club. When that goes, I can see that I will just end up with my hands in the air an awful lot and saying ‘FFS’ all the time. Not Good.

So, I have taken the proverbial bull by its pointy bits and I’VE DEACTIVATED MY ACCOUNT. I’ve set up a WhatsApp group for the lovely Book Club ladies so I am still in the loop – hoping they will all be kind enough to humour me. I’ve created a new profile under my work email and a pseudonym so I can still manage the work Facebook page and I have left. I’ve left! I’ve actually bloody done it. The kind people at Facebook have told me I can come back whenever I want (when hell freezes over) and they will continue to allow me to be invited to stuff (gee, thanks) and I can still get messages – frankly, anyone who needs to contact me and doesn’t have my number should be ashamed of themselves. (I have hastily gathered together people’s numbers that I didn’t have previously, while hanging my head in shame at my neglect).

So, no more FFS’ing at a small screen while wondering why I can’t be stronger and JUST STOP LOOKING.

I’m not saying it’s wrong. It’s just wrong for me.