Blovember #23 – Mozart & The Beastie Boys

‘Cos it’s Friday. 7 more days to go and truly amazed I have come this far with NaBloPoMo. Must be a displacement activity…

Climbing – Until my big bicycle crash in May I was quite into my climbing and still listen to the noise. The better someone is the easier they make it look and this 10y old girl cranking V13 in the US is going to knock Adam Ondra out of the park. Soon.

If you are tight for time then watch from 5 min in.

Hip-Hop and Rock makes the best motivational music. This song would definitely make the DID list:

What’s the work that The Beastie Boys are motivating me to do? I remain stunned at the poorly written volumes of selling self-help books and crappy courses, poorly delivered that are out there. With that in mind I am starting The Compelling Event (means something to TAS and IT sales veterans, my target market) which will be a very niche specialist sales process consultancy and training firm. I have no immediate plans to write a book but I have pretty much got the bulk of the text down for my website. I’ve registered the domains and pretty much got the content written for the website, though presently it needs editing  into a coherent and tight message. Whilst the website won’t be getting me business it will serve to prove my presence and add credibility to my message. Selling myself and actual paid work will come through contacts in the first instance.

Want to bring a chill to your spine? Then listen to The Queen of The Night from Mozart’s Die Zauberflote:

This is definitely top of my list for the next opera I want to see. Are you listening, Glyndebourne?

Blovember #22 – The Greatest Song Ever

The greatest rock song ever is “You Shook Me All Night Long” by AC/DC. Over the last 30 years my taste in music is far more catholic but this is the song that never fades and definitely my Desert Island Discs choice.

Tight and catchy riffs, great beat, slightly naughty lyrics all rolled up into 3:30 of rock goodness. What’s not to like?

AC DC Concert (Montreal) - Brian Johnson sings...

You can now get AC/DC on iTunes. No excuses but to download, hit play, crank it to 11 and rip the knob off. You’ll be a better person for it.

Blovember #21 – Focus, Creativity & Ice Cream

Enough of the foul-mouthed frippery of yesterday. Today I assure the easily offended that this blog shan’t provide. If you want grot then go away now.

I am planning a business and, much like writers block I imagine, I have spent several days just staring at my screen and then having Ice Cream moments instead of really good thought. Makes me think I’m idle, which I’m not.

However, this morning pre-0900h, I sit down and by Jove it just starts flowing outta me. So much so that I suddenly realised what I’d blog about to satisfy the insatiable gods of NaBloPoMo.

Ice Cream – oops, just cleaned a bathroom. Very shiny and clean smelling it is to. I really am a modern man (reaches hand over shoulder to give well-earned pat on back). Metrosexual as well. I so need a good hand moisturiser now. The chemicals are harsh and I am a delicate flower.

Ice Cream – in the meantime I have been reflecting on the name and purpose of In light of the forthcoming business venture and no longer needing this blog to paint me in a better corporate light (who am I kidding, I’m me) and blur my Internet footprint the What About the Customer name can go.

Ice Cream – as NaBloPoMo – a female web user initiative I find out today, hey for me it’s Blovember so I escape with masculinity intact  – is requiring me to post every day thus driving the randomness of the posts, I am going to rename the blog, snag a new and less austere theme and make a clear separation between my nascent business and the occasional ranting and general life based observations.

Ice Cream – the ranting actually produces results. What a pity that good customer service is driven by a shouty minority with the time and the tools to take their gripes to Twitter? Still, kudos to Plusnet for picking up on it and fixing the problem.

So brain function, focus and productive work eh? It’s all morning for me.

You’ll never guess the time? It’s Ice Cream o’clock.

Blovember #20 – On Swearing

There is a perennial debate about whether using expletives in written or spoken exchange is a sign of intelligence or stupidity. Before writing this I did a bit of digging and this topic has produced much debate through the millennia.

Unsurprisingly, the bible covers this off in typical “this is bad, don’t do it” style. After all, what would one expect from the manual documenting the rules by which religion attempts to control it’s followers. It has also been through so many iterations at the hands of so many special interest groups that it is no surprise that you can find a version that says what you need it to. For example: Ephesians 4:29 apparently tells us, “Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.”

Define unwholesome exactly? This is the nub of the swearing argument as there is no hard and fast list of “unwholesome words”. In some circumstances an appropriately used fuck may help those who listen. However, to paraphrase from the good book; one man’s meat….

Yesterday I used the word fuck in my post and a friend remarked on this possibly not reflecting well on me. In my circles an appropriately deployed fuck is both acceptable and necessary. In theirs it isn’t. That’s the way it is. Ranting and repetitive use of the word fuck, to me, is unnecessary overkill and spoils the effect. To others it fits just so and to them it adds the emphasis they feel is needed.

I can get on my intellectual high horse and look down on them for overuse of the word fuck. Others can do the same to me. If you invest the word fuck (or many others, fuck is a good example) with power to shock and offend then it will do just that. Additionally, you weaken yourself because anyone who wants to try and shock/offend/unbalance can then use this utterance to do so.

My mother, raising three boys as she did, had a great reaction to overhearing one of us say fuck. We were collectively marched to the bookshelf and the Oxford Dictionary of Slang was produced. We were made to look up the word fuck, recite the definition and use it in a variety of sentences. Took the fun right out of it. FYI it is first found in use in 1475 in an old English poem called Flen Flyys. However you slice it there is no denying that  fuck has turned into a very interesting word. I wish my dear Mother also had this explanation from Monty Python:

From unwholesome swearing to reading and research  in one easy step. Fucking cool eh?

Blovember #19 – Hiding Behind the Data Protection Act

Or more accurately – I have yet another excuse not to help you.

It seems that the really obvious difference between North American and British approaches to the customer is some sort of deep down default position. I generalise but it goes like this:

  • North America – ingrained in the general psyche is the innate feeling of “how can I help you?”
  • Britain – ingrained in the psyche is the innate feeling of “I don’t do service. I am not your underling. This is just a job that I need to do to feed my family so fuck-off as I’m not your servant”

There are exceptions that prove the rule on both sides of The Pond. However, to justify and explain this to themselves the Brits love to dress up the “fuck-off” behind a multiplicity of reasons. The theme of which is, “Love to help, just not poss”.

Who has ever woken in the middle of the night and not been able to sleep and then decided that, as awake, it is the ideal time to call a telephone based service when every other soul is in the Land Of Nod? Who has then got that recorded message saying, “due to unexpectedly high call volumes…” In the middle of the goddamed night? They have that message ALL the time. If the lines are that busy all the time then fix the bloody problem or embrace the massive and continual influx of new business with more bodies on the phone. The other favourite is to cite the inability (read – unwillingness) to do something because, “the Data Protection Act means I can’t”. What utter balls. When you are feeling grumpy (-er than usual) and act dumb and politely enquire which part of the DPA is hampering them, ‘cos “I’d like to write to my MP and appeal for it to be raised as a parliamentary question with a view to amending/repealing it and by the way what is your name and the name of the person that told you this?” They either refer you up the chain to a more experienced but equally knowledgeless person or wing it and go for the “added flannel” approach.

I wouldn’t be so bitter and twisted if they just told me to get knotted and hung up. I prefer honesty.

Blovember #18 – Cycling With Kids

I need to get in the car at 0930, so I do. It is cold (quite), dry and the sun is out, there are gaggles of cyclists everywhere. An idea starts to form… Daughter has a £400 Islabike – a shiny red Luath  24 – sitting a bit idle in the garage. Riding is good. Fresh air is good. Being outside is good.

Alternatively; “awwww, do I have to? It’s cold. I’m tired. I don’t want to”. All delivered in a whine that only a ten-year old girl can manage.  “Yes darling,  you do, we’ll have fun, you have the right gear and your Mother also thinks it is a good idea”. As only parents in their mid-forties can manage. Case closed. Much faffing and we finally get on the road.

Instantly there is a whine that has a recurring theme of ” I want to go back” that intersperses the “you’re mean” and variations thereof style. I try to distract, divert, engage but she is too damn clever. “You’re trying to distract me Daddy, I want to turn back” is what all attempts are met with. The odd “you’re the meanest Daddy ever blah blah” is thrown in for good measure.

Meanwhile, as I am enduring her slings and arrows the miles are slowly ticking away to the destination. It is also a v. gentle uphill most of the way so I know it’ll be great on the way back. At about 1/3 of the way I nearly crack under the whining and retort with a, “we’re halfway now, turn back if you want. We are closer to warmth etc if we carry on” which is met with sullen acquiescence. My lie is then exposed at 2/3 distance by a road sign. A few quick mental calculation tells H that I was lying. Oh gawd and woe betide me. That’s torn it.

Restart the whinge machine with a general theme of “you’re a liar Daddy”. I can’t disagree. I produce my last ace and offer to let her call her mother from the half way point to see if she’ll collect her. I know this is a fat chance as Mother has subscribed to the general Go Ride Your Bike philosophy.

Ring Ring – “Mummy, Daddy is a liar, mean etc and I’m tired. Please can you collect me from the Hilton’s house?”. “Of course dear, I’ll be passing there in 45 minutes and will bring you a change of clothes.”

Parental solidarity from the hard as nails Mother that cycled the 2009 Etape du Tour? Pah.

Blovember #17 – Not Anymore, Lord Levermore

But it’s not, it’s an intentional typo to get  the title to have a bit of zing. Lord Leverhulme  is the fellow’s name and he is reputed to have said he knew half of his advertising was wasted, but didn’t know which half.

The  bit of the digital revolution that seems to pass people by is just how this has been kicked into the long grass.  All these cool services and all for “free”.  Facebook, Google, Nectar Cards and so on and so forth. They are buying your personal data from you so, as they would put it, they can tailor their specific offerings to you.

Bollocks:  if you’re spending money on advertising you can now get a very granular view of where the money is generating a return. I used to run very efficient Google AdWords. You give data for free, they package it and sell it to me, the business owner, as a product. It’s like being sold a .50 cal sniper rifle. It can do far more than you can ever imagine. My issue was having the time to use the power of the tool amongst all the shag and hassle of running a business. I could tell a huge amount about the users of the site, what pages worked, the route through the site to purchase etc. I could tailor my web offering – how we sold – so much more effectively. And that didn’t rely on me harvesting personal data as you’d already given it to Google. Thanks.

When you participate in a Loyalty Card style scheme you are just doing their job for them. Give it 50y and we’ll all have an implanted chip that we can (you hope) choose who gets to read. Very sci-fi and paranoid sounding I realise. Nonetheless, imagine if your chip can register your physiological reactions to certain stimuli as well as your easily observable habits and send them to a computer?  How saleable is that?

I am not anti all this ever increasing intrusiveness because I believe that in my lifetime at least I’ll get to choose who I give the crown jewels of my personal info to. If I pimp out my data then I expect to know what I am getting. Compelling offers, unique content, personalised marketing, ad spend tracking are all ways the free market operates to sell more for less. Caveat emptor – don’t blame the companies. If you don’t like it then don’t play.

As one Mr Shadbolt Esq put it once:  “If you’re not the customer, you’re the product”.

Blovember #16 – Friday Bits’n’Pieces

So it’s Friday. So don’t expect even a flailing stab at literary competence. A round-up of the week is what’s needed with some fun and illuminative trivia thrown in.

  • I am possibly the most easily distracted and idle person I know. A friend saw a cartoon yesterday and fell about laughing. “That’s you” they choked out between gales of laughter. “That’s so you.” I gave a careful and considered response of, “piss off”, and then started laughing as well.
  • Funny Somewhat Topical Ecard: If I had a dollar for everytime I got distracted, I wish I had some ice cream.
  • You can’t tell but I was just distracted my Mrs S. Sadly she wasn’t offering ice-cream though.
  • Now my whole thread of the wretched post is gone from my head.
  • Check email again.
  • Oh yes, Idle. When I work I really work and in between I am a master time-waster. There ought to be a Guild of Master Time Wasters. I wish I knew how to make myself into a tightly  focused and driven individual.
  • Just connected two people via LinkedIn. Think it is v. cool that technology has made so easy something that was previously nearly impossible.
  • Speak to one of said people. Talk for 20 minutes.
  • I prefer to think of it as multi-tasking with a slight random element.
  • My new helicopter arrives today or tomorrow. Am sure that won’t divert me from planning.
  • Planning – oh yeah, I am starting a business. That’ll have it’s own site and blog so ’nuff said here.
  • Looking forward to collecting my free Calamari from Lou’s between Christmas and New Year. Thank you Facebook.
  • Food, mmmmm.
  • Very modern dilemma – am speaking to my domain name provider to merge all my various domains under one roof and register a few new ones.
  • Dilemma – just been to Wikipedia to ascertain that I have indeed been spelling it incorrectly for many years. Two “m’s”, go figure.
  • Bought some bike rollers this week as I hate turbo-trainers. They turned up yesterday. Slippery buggers. Will take some mastering. In the meantime my friends have not been helpful. See Blovember 13. Bastards.
  • It was my dad’s birthday a few weeks ago – 75, time to get a Honda Jazz as I may have mentioned – and he is rubbish at asking for pressies. Finally we get an answer…floor mats for the Jazz please.
  • I feel a bit dirty writing the search term “Jazz Mats” into Google.

Gotta run. I hear an ice-cream van.

Blovember #15 – Regression to the mean

Everyone has a book inside them. Apparently. I am plumbing the depths of my soul and am damned if I can find mine, let alone a post for today.

No more shockers from the old man but I really ought to call and discover the colour etc and feign interest.  As my first ever girlfriend pointed out; I may inherit it. No, my brother can have it. In this very very funny video you could substitute Honda Jazz for BMW GS.

While I flail about for something entertaining to write about I do recall a chat yesterday with my brother who was kind enough to give me a full description of the possible consequences of of  his strong antibiotics and the fact that he has a bad back. Indeed, he painted an overly graphic picture of a big sneeze triggering uncontrollable shitting whilst howling in pain.  He is a burly man as this woman describes. Howzat for something you didn’t need to know?

Possibly a bit much for a family blog I hear you cry.  I am just illustrating that little of interest happens on a daily basis so a daily post will sometimes be amusing, sometimes banal and occasionally gross.

I have work to do and today the dice landed on gross. Bad luck.