Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Comic Sans - an apology

I need to repent on the whole disparaging Comic Sans thing I did in the last post. 

You see, I criticised the cardiff men's convention for using the font in a powerpoint presentation.

Comic Sans is, undoubtedly, hideous, but I have been reliably informed by Wifey that Comic Sans is the recommended font for use in education. Apparently, people with Dyslexia can read it easier than any other font (although I don't know whether that's been scientifically proven).

Anyway, I must hang my unintentionally-disability-hating head in shame. I am very very very sorry.

It will not happen again. 

(although I still think Comic Sans is hideous)

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Disturb Us, O Lord.

I attended the Cardiff Men's Convention yesterday with Dorkomatic and found it a very challenging and uplifting day. 

It was quite a sight to see large groups of men milling around St David's Hall - they weren't drunk or causing a nuisance (which is what one usually associates with large groups of men in the city centre). They were being, well, Christian blokes (i.e. civilised and good-natured).

Other points of note from the day:
- Lots of men trying to find the auditorium looking very lost. I think this is because they weren't with their wives. Men are lost souls without their better halves.
- The powerpoint slides using Comic Sans (ouch!)
- 1000 men singing together praising God (which was great, except the sound had a distinctly deep 'bass' to it!)
- Nipping off to grab some lunch only to find Fab Mash was closed (nooo!) and getting chinese fast food instead (Wok to Walk - very nice substitute)
- Mission Aviation Fellowship (MAF) parking a plane next to the Hayes Island Snack Bar (seriously!). 

Finally, we prayed a prayer attributed to Sir Frances Drake, which I found very rousing and wholly appropriate for the day:

"Disturb us, Lord, when we are too well pleased with ourselves.

When our dreams have come true, because we dreamed too little.

When we arrived safely, because we sailed too close to shore.

Disturb us, Lord, when with the abundance of things we possess,

we have lost our thirst for the waters of life;

We have ceased to dream of eternity, and in our efforts to build a new earth,

We have allowed our vision of the new Heaven to dim.

Disturb us, Lord, to dare more boldly,

To venture on wider seas, where storms will show your mastery;

Where losing sight of land, we shall find stars.

We ask you to push back the horizons of our hopes;

And to push us in the future: In strength, courage, hope and love.

Sir Francis Drake, December 1577

Sunday, March 22, 2009

The Bog Blog

I like to fondly refer to the toilet as the bog. I don't think it's rude or offensive. I just think the 'bog' seems more appropriate than the fancier terms available (lavatory, WC etc.). It's a bit cheeky and a bit irreverent, and when you are talking about bodily functions you just have to be.

There is something deeply sensitive and vulnerable about the humble loo. In western society, you don't let anyone else see you at it (except your spouse, maybe - but even then I'm sure there are couples who wouldn't allow such a thing), and yet we all do it. From Her Majesty Queen Liz (Gawd bless 'er) to the lowliest tramp, we have a common need to let nature take its course and expel some smelly stuff. And yet, it's a deeply private affair between you and the porcelain throne. Perhaps the vulnerability thing is something to do with our primal instincts. If you are in the middle of your business, it's a lot harder to defend yourself against a hungry tiger or a tribal foe who suddenly discovers you with - ahem - your pants down.

Why am I writing about bogs? Well, I recently found out about 'EcoSan', a human waste systems that is, quite frankly, brilliant. Consisting of a simple raised toilet block, human urine and faeces are collected in a chamber underneath that over time is broken down into high-quality fertilizer for plants. It's a little bit different to what we in the western world are used to when it comes to doing a number 1 or number 2, but I could see the system easily adopted over here. You don't need complicated plumbing and you get high quality nutrients for your garden which are better than anything you can buy in homebase.

Maybe we in the western world should adopt something like the EcoSan ... as populations increase, the burden on our sewerage system is increasing and sanitary health will become more and more of an issue.

Saturday, March 21, 2009


The sun has got his hat onnnn!
Hip hip hip hoorrrraaaay!
The sun has got his hat on and he's coming out today!

Thank you, Lord for a glorious sun-drenched day. It's just what I needed!

Notes from the journey

As some of you may or may not know, I have been on something of a journey. Not a literal one, of course. A career journey would perhaps be one way of describing it. I guess a faith journey would be another.

Last year, I was made redundant. It was a huge blow, but I knew that God was in it somehow and that it was the push I needed to get out there and find something that I really wanted to do.

It was scary. I had a wife and child to support, and no real idea of where I'd end up. 

Until, that is, I went away on a media training course and felt God say He was calling me into the media. Exactly how He meant for me to get into the industry, I had no idea. I just knew it was right for me. It was the right time. It was where God wanted me to be. And things would work out - I just didn't have the foggiest idea how.

That was then. This is now -  one year on. At the moment, things feel like they are hanging on a thread. I have no idea how the next few weeks will turn out, let alone the next twelve months. I am praying frantically that the work will come in, and that we are able to pay our bills. I'm getting work - but not quite enough.

I would seriously consider giving up if it weren't for the fact that, when I look back to when I had that not-quite-road-to-Damascus-revelation-that-was-quite-mild-really-but-still-fairly-significant experience, I have come a long way. I have managed to survive as a self-employed freelancer since July (although I officially started in September). Thanks to support from family, I now have my own software and equipment that has enabled me to do what I do. I don't have everything I need, but you can't expect to have everything all at once. 

I have had my own office, shared with the awesome GP Design monkeys, and had access to kit thanks to the kind guys at a local church and youth-focused organisation. Work has come in from friends and former colleagues as well as people I'd never met before (thanks to some nerve-racking cold calls).

And now I am about to embark on the next step, it seems, in this journey. Me - Little Me who doesn't have a chuffing clue about most things - is about to start working from our new office in Cardiff Bay sharing with two other guys who are in the same boat.

All because I emailed some random guy my CV.

It's scary and exciting in equal measure. As usual, I have no idea how things will work out, but I know that I've just got to get on with it and trust the All-Knowing One and give the glory upward to Him. That's all I can do. 

Friday, March 20, 2009

TV Lent Update

Lent is probably a lot harder when you have too much time on your hands. I've managed pretty well so far to avoid the square box in the corner, but it's probably because I've been so busy lately.

Having said that, I don't miss it at all. I find I get on with other, more important things - like fixing stuff. Or the laundry. Or reading a book.

It seems those Amish-types just might be onto something after all...

Monday, March 16, 2009

A bag of Oreo goodness

As an Oreo-obsessive, I was touched when Jon and his wife got me this awesome present:

It's a carrier bag...
Made entirely from Double Stuf Cool Mint Creme Flavoured Oreo packaging... Brilliant!!
...and what's great is that it's Fairtrade! Apparently it's put together from reject wrappers by ladies in India (correct me if I'm wrong, Jon), helping them to earn a decent wage. Warm glows all round!
Thanks guys. You know me too well.

I probably won't be wearing it round town as a fashion accessory, but it will come it pretty useful for grocery shopping. 

If you want to get your hand on one yourself, pop down to Fair-Do's and see if they have any left.

Social networking ruined my life

Recently, I was invited to join Odadeo - a social networking site which has the noble and honourable aim of helping dads to being better parents. It is tempting to sign up ... we all want to be better parents, right?  

However, the one thing that stops me is the thought that instead of spending time on my computer writing about or posting pics of the little darlings I could actually be spending time WITH the little darlings.

Hmm. Also, I'm already signed up to Facebook, so I kind of feel like I'm doing the social networking thing anyway.

As for work, I have recently signed up to the Cultural Enterprise - a pseudo social networking effort for creative types in Wales (I don't know how long I can convince people I'm a 'creative' - probably until someone actually asks to see something I've 'created'). It's a sort of localised 'LinkedIn' (yes, I joined that, too).

I recently heard about Yammer, which is similar to Twitter. I feel pressured to sign up to that, as well. 


I'm all for using tools in order to be more 'connected'  as an individual living in the 21st century, but it is getting to the point where I could realistically spend a solid seven hours a day updating, linking, poking, msn-ing, tweeting and yammmering without actually doing any work...

Is this really progress??

Thursday, March 12, 2009


Thanks to my friend Don, who I got to know last summer, I was introduced to the liberation of walking around in bare feet. To be quite frank, us westerners don't do it enough. We might do it as we walk from bathroom to bedroom, but that's about it.

I am sitting writing this with no socks on and it feels good. I would like to encourage you to do it every once in a while too - indoors and out. Free your feet from the constraints of shoes and socks, you know you want to! 
Sometimes it's good to connect with the ground we walk upon.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Nuclear Bunker

Following on from my bunker revelation...

Back in the 80s, me and my brothers would wile away many hours digging a big hole in the garden, helpfully preparing our family for the inevitable nuclear attack that would be unleashed by the Russians at some point.

Thinking back, we lacked the grown-up organisational and management skills in order to make it a realistic safe haven from Soviet ICBMs, but for us it was just a cool place to hang out. All we did was dig a big trench, place a large wooden board over the top (which dad probably was using for something far more important) and covered it over with earth. It was a cold, damp and slightly risky place to hang out, but it was our cold, damp and slightly risky place to hang out and it was fun. We even had a little fireplace going at one point, but the project was quickly abandoned when the smoke it generated threatened to choke the lot of us.

With all the modern distractions vying for their attention, I don't think today's kids spend enough time digging holes in the mud, which is a real shame. Getting muddy is one of life's simple pleasures. 

Our nuclear refuge has since been landscaped over, but I hope that maybe one day JKY can experience the same muddy, innocent fun that I had as a sprog. 

Monday, March 9, 2009


The other day, I came across an awesome kid's idea for the garden: a secret bunker. You basically dig a huge hole, fill it with a concrete box and cover over it with earth and plants and stuff. Not exactly original, but with a bit of imagination you can make a space that kids will love and - unlike a treehouse - they can't fall several metres and break their leg (although when I get round to it I am going to make a treehouse for JKY as well). 

All I need now is big enough garden...

Thursday, March 5, 2009

The machine is us/ing us

I attended a seminar last night entitled Social Media and Marketing in a Networked Economy (sounds very grand doesn't it?). It made me realise the significance of what is happening with the internet right now, what with blogs, Facebook, Wikipedia, Twitter and so on ... and it led me to think various thoughts of doom and armageddon (as what usually happens when I get freaked out about technology. Don't laugh - did you read about the military creating a defense system called 'Skynet". Helllooo? Haven't any of you seen the Terminator films??)

We have moved from a passive net experience (Web 1.0 as it is commonly known), where information is presented in a relatively static form, to an immersive and interactive one (Web 2.0) where the user actually contributes and takes control. No longer are corporations in charge, calling the shots and telling us what we can or can't create - it is the people who now have control in a cyber-whirlwind of hyper-democracy where anyone with a computer can create their own world, critique whatever they see, or contribute to the development of any product anywhere on earth. 

Our social structure is changing and revolving around the web, where our community encompasses the entire planet - not just the street where we live (and more often than not, instead of the street where we live).

The thing is, it's not truly democratic is it? You see, not everyone has equal access to a computer and broadband internet. You could argue that there are things like libraries and grants available that enable poorer people to take part, but it's not the same as being able to comfortably afford your own kit (and upgrade it whenever you need to). 

As the internet continues to grow at a frighteningly fast pace, it becomes more and more necessary to be part of it. That is where the so-called 'digital divide' is so acute - it's more than not being able to check you bank details at 3am just like everyone else. It means you can't participate. You become a second-class citizen who will quickly get left behind, while everyone else zips along the information hyper highway.

Me - I'll try and keep up, but if things get too much, I might just go buy a farm somewhere and live a simple life. No TV, no computer no mobile phone. Just me, my family, real neighbours and the smell of manure.


By the way, you can follow me on Twitter here as me, and here as FarSight. Enjoy!


In the middle of watching Live at the Apollo on iPlayer at lunchtime, I realised I'm supposed to be giving up TV for lent. Drat!

Curse you, multiple media platforms!

I know it's not 'proper' TV, but I don't think I can say I'm giving up telly and then just spend all my free time on the computer. It kind of makes the whole exercise somewhat pointless.

So - from now on, no iPlayer at lunch for me!