New Years Resolutions

…And why I hate them – By Zee.

Another “event” is nearly upon us, we actually had a pretty fab Christmas and now have a yardstick by which to measure the success or otherwise of subsequent occasions. We loved staying at home and having people visit us for a change, it really has been pillar-to-post every other year we’ve been in the UK together. Now we have New Year to look forward to with the promise of another relaxed and enjoyable event in just a few days time.

This had led to the inevitable questions about NY Resolutions, and I have been forced to hit the soapbox once again.

Why?

I understand that for most people 1st Jan heralds a new calendar year, my “New” year personally comes a bit later in the year, but why do so many people feel the need to make pointless resolutions that they have little or no intention of sticking to and advertise the fact to their nearest and dearest?

If you want to make a change in your life, DO IT NOW! Don’t wait for some arbitrary date on the Gregorian calendar which was introduced by a Pope over 400 years ago!

Also, if you insist on making a resolution, make it something reasonably within your grasp and decide from the outset whether you are planning to actually work at it, or whether it is one of those things you just hope will happen during the year and require no actual input from you. I’m talking to those of you who think good resolutions are: “I’m going to meet the man of my dreams” or “I’m going to go to the gym every day of the year and lose half my body weight” Those are neither realistic, nor necessarily attainable and if, for whatever reason, you don’t achieve your unrealistic goals you will just be ending your year on a bigger downer than the one before.

I have a medically-imposed weight-loss program planned next year, it’s only waiting for then because I need to meet my new Daktari and figure out what sort of plan we’re looking at before I can actually decide anything, I know it’ll be realistic, I’ll have to work at it, I’ll probably hate it pretty much most of the time and I know I’ll need support, I’m not fooling myself, let alone anyone else, but it must be done and so it will be. It’s not a NY Resolution, it’s just a lifestyle change that needs to be made now.

So, my standard New Years Resolution that I won’t make a New Years Resolution still stands, I can’t stand the thought that people everywhere are going to hold themselves up to some ideal of their life and find themselves lacking. One of my friends has spent the entire Christmas period trying to cope with his daughter and his loneliness while his wife has been in hospital, another has been coping with a massive change to her life upon discovering that her husband and the father of her two sons has been having an affair which has broken up their family.

I see so many people around me who are just trying to get through the holidays and out the other side without losing themselves to their circumstances, the idea that these people might also be fighting to change something trivial in their lives because they feel they aren’t good enough as they are is heart-breaking.

If you must make a resolution, plan to be happier, more fullfilled than last year; hope to spend more time on the people who matter than you did last year, but more than that, resolve to survive 2012 being the same wonderful person that you have always been, live your life and find something new to smile about.

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The Green Thing

Not my own material, I don’t know the original author to credit but it’s all true….

In the line at the store, the cashier told an older woman that she should bring her own grocery bags because plastic bags weren’t good for the environment.

The woman apologized to him and explained, “We didn’t have the green thing back in my day.”

The clerk responded, “That’s our problem today. Your generation did not care enough to save our environment.”

He was right – our generation didn’t have the green thing in its day.

Back then, we returned milk bottles, soda bottles and beer bottles to the store. The store sent them back to the plant to be washed and sterilized and refilled, so it could use the same bottles over and over. So they really were recycled. But we didn’t have the green thing back in our day.

We walked up stairs, because we didn’t have an escalator or elevator in every store and office building. We walked to the grocery store and didn’t climb into a 300-horsepower machine every time we had to go two blocks. But she was right. We didn’t have the green thing in our day.

Back then, we washed the baby’s diapers because we didn’t have the throw-away kind. We dried clothes on a line, not in an energy gobbling machine burning up 220 volts — wind and solar power really did dry the clothes. Kids got hand-me-down clothes from their brothers or sisters, not always brand-new clothing. But that old lady is right; we didn’t have the green thing back in our day.

Back then, we had one TV, or radio, in the house — not a TV in every room. And the TV had a small screen the size of a handkerchief (remember them?), not a screen the size of the state of Montana . In the kitchen, we blended and stirred by hand because we didn’t have electric machines to do everything for us. When we packaged a fragile item to send in the mail, we used a wadded up old newspaper to cushion it, not Styrofoam or plastic bubble wrap. Back then, we didn’t fire up an engine and burn gasoline just to cut the lawn. We used a push mower that ran on human power. We exercised by working so we didn’t need to go to a health club to run on treadmills that operate on electricity. But she’s right; we didn’t have the green thing back then.

We drank from a fountain when we were thirsty instead of using a cup or a plastic bottle every time we had a drink of water. We refilled writing pens with ink instead of buying a new pen, and we replaced the razor blades in a razor instead of throwing away the whole razor just because the blade got dull. But we didn’t have the green thing back then.

Back then, people took the streetcar or a bus and kids rode their bikes to school or walked instead of turning their moms into a 24-hour taxi service. We had one electrical outlet in a room, not an entire bank of sockets to power a dozen appliances. And we didn’t need a computerized gadget to receive a signal beamed from satellites 2,000 miles out in space in order to find the nearest pizza joint.

But isn’t it sad the current generation laments how wasteful we old folks were just because we didn’t have the green thing back then?

Please forward this on to another selfish old person who needs a lesson in conservation from a smartass young person.

Remember: Don’t make old People mad.

We don’t like being old in the first place, so it doesn’t take much to piss us off.

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European Union?

Not much in the way of "Union"

So, the UK left the table, the rest of the Eurozone countries got together and decided on a plan to save their currency and rescue the countries who are struggling with it.

That’s exactly the way it should be. The UK shouldn’t be part of those discussions, the PM used his power of veto to prevent the rewriting of the European treaty that we’re part of, something which would have had a direct impact on our ability to trade with the rest of Europe, and then when he had nothing left to contribute he left them to decide their own fate.

We are not part of the Eurozone, we have our own currency and are currently having enough trouble sorting ourselves out, even though we’re ‘only’ involved with the IMF, without getting mired more deeply in the great un-union of the Euro.

Some people are complaining about us isolating ourselve from the Eurozone, that we are no longer a world power and by removing ourselves from the meeting we had basically handed over any control we had in the EU. I want to know what kind of “power” these people think we ever had? We have only ever been on the fringes of the EU, we take part in the councils and have trade agreements, we have EU passports (although most travellers will quibble the benefit of that when it comes to the passport control queues) and call ourselves “Europeans” but that’s about it!

We pay lots of money to be part of the EU, we handed over control of our trade to the great EU directive machine when we joined and I still don’t see what great advantages we have that people like (for example) Switzerland who only adopt EU laws in order to participate in the single market, haven’t. We too could remain members of the EFTA (European Free Trade Assoc.) and distance ourselves a bit more from the EU and I still wouldn’t be unhappy.

I don’t want to adopt the Euro, as countries like Greece and Italy have proved, it’s not necessarily for the best and blindly allowing Brussels to control your ability to feed your own people and run your own government isn’t something that appeals to me at all.

There isn’t going to be a referendum on Europe. Some people reckon that’s because the UK population would vote overwhelmingly to leave, and some people reckon it’s because the government wouldn’t listen to the people anyway. I would welcome a referendum if only to find out a) how many people in the country actually give a damn enough to show up and vote, but b) because I’d really be interested to know how my countrymen feel about our part in Europe.

It doesn’t seem that anyone in the Eurozone is having a particularly cozy time of things, there appears to be a great amount of dissent between the member countries and the monetary union doesn’t appear to be helping. The lack of exchange rates removes a very effective mechanism for adjusting imbalances between countries that can arise from differential shocks to their economy. The recent drop in rate of the Euro agains the Pound and Dollar just because Greece got in trouble aptly demostrates that. History demonstrates that well-chosen devaluations can help an economy out of difficulty, by keeping the GB£ the UK can retain this option.

The current Eurozone crisis doesn’t seem to have “an” answer, they keep trying things to make improvements and seeing if they work, if not they have to try something else. All the time it seems to be getting more convoluted and difficult to assess, while causing a massive argument across the continent. I don’t forsee a solution anytime soon, and the only comment I have on the entire mess is that it’s nothing I want to get any closer to.

No politician is going to be able to fix this, but my 2 penneth’orth says David Cameron did exactly what he should have done. We just have to sit back and wait for the consequences.

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Cee Lo What??

Masochistic Arse

I know I’m stingy with my money
And it’s hard to get some from me
But you still love me anyway
Your mother seems to like me
But your father wants to fight me
But you still love me anyway
And I take you out on dates
And I always show up late
But you still love me anyway
There’s no one else like this
That would put up with my sh-t
And still love me anyway

[Chorus]
Because no matter what I do
I know I can count on you
Cause baby you still love me anyway
For worse or for better
You make me better
I know you still love me anyway

Because no matter what I do
I know I can count on you
Cause baby you still love me anyway
For worse or for better
You make me better
I know you still love me anyway

[Cee-Lo]
I only see you every now and then
And i’m on the road again
But you still love me anyway
And when this relationship’s not working
That’s when all your friends start flirting
And my eyes may wander but that is not ok
So I make it up to you
With a brand new pair of shoes

If you still love me anyway
And I will surely miss the way you put up my sh-t
I’ll make it up to you some day

Wow! Cee Lo Green What the Heck were you thinking? You’ve basically written a song about a doormat woman, who puts up with you being a total arse, you can’t even show up for dates on time and you reckon apeasement comes in the form of a pair of shoes?

You’re a stingy bastard with no respect at all for this woman, you flirt with her friends and take advantage of her, but it’s ok because you’ll make it up to her “some day”??

Well Fuck That! Cee Lo – Here’s a tip and you can have this one for free:

Stop being such a knob NOW, grow a pair and behave like a man rather than a rat, perhaps you won’t have so much “making up” to do and maybe this poor woman can get a little self-respect back when you’ve stopped wiping your feet all over her.

It’s not big, it’s not clever, it makes you sound like a twat!

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To smoke, or not to smoke…

…that is the question!

Are we allowed to decide for ourselves?

The British Medical Association are urging the government to place a ban on people smoking in their cars…… even if they are alone!

Wow how arrogant can they get?

I understand the reasons for people not smoking when they have kids in the car, it’s common sense and I imagine there’s not much opposition to stopping people from smoking in their car if they have kids in the back, I certainly applaud the sentiment if not the method. However, a lone grown adult should not be lambasted or punished for carrying out a perfectly legal act while in the privacy or their own private vehicle!

In my experience, even if I’m travelling in a car with a smoker they will ask permission of me to smoke, even in their own car, this seems like reasonable behaviour and it’s up to adults to consult with adults about whether smoking is acceptable. For a start, the majority of smokers I know, only smoke in their car with the window open, they don’t like the stale smell in the upholstery, I don’t think therefore that the BMA’s reasoning that people smoke with all windows and doors sealed, is acceptable, or credible and certainly shouldn’t be used as an excuse to curb yet another freedom.

How long before it’s made illegal to smoke in your own home, whether you have children or not? And what about cancer in animals? Isn’t a pets life worth consideration? It’s going to get more and more ridiculous.

As an example, there is a movement of people who believe that the only place people should be allowed to smoke is in their back garden. They don’t think people should be allowed to smoke anywhere that people gather, even outside, even if it’s in public.

I agree that smoking has been proved to be harmful, but it’s every adults right to decide for themselves whether or not they smoke. Likewise with drinking, the Institute of Alcohol Studies has shown that alcohol abuse accounts for a 160,000 admissions to A&E every year and the total cost of alcohol use and abuse to the UK each year topped £1.6 BILLION last year, so why is there no call for people to be prevented from drinking in public places?

Where does it stop? Am I going to be banned from going into a Burger King because I’m overweight? Why does the government think they have the right to ban peoples freedom to live their own lives? Fair enough for kids who can’t avoid it and have no choice, but adults are adults, and although they may not always behave like it, they have the right to choose for themselves.

There are a lot of people banging on about how “it’s illegal to eat in a car, so why shouldn’t it be illegal to smoke as it’s a distraction to the driver?” Newsflash: eating, map reading, tuning the radio, applying make-up, programming satnav and so on are NOT against the law, but drivers can be charged with careless driving or not being in proper control of their vehicle. Whether or not you get in trouble with the Police for doing these things all comes down to how you handle your vehicle and pay attention to the road, and is at the discretion of the Policeman who spots you.

The UK must stop this pandering to the nanny-state brigade. We’ve been running our own lives for long enough now that those who can, will, and those who can’t won’t live long enough to be a problem!

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Antibiotics and the Common Cold

Coughs and Sneezes

The myth that antibiotics can cure coughs and colds appears to be rife again! We seem to go through these phases about once every 5 years or so and common sense drops by the wayside once more.

“A quarter of people wrongly believe antibiotics work on most coughs and colds, a Health Protection Agency survey has found.”

To be honest, even if they did work against the viruses that cause respiratory tract infections, I don’t think people should be blindly popping antibiotics unless they are at high risk, the elderly, the ill or the pregnant. Taking antibiotics when they’re not required prevents your body from developing the natural response to this kind of illness, you won’t develop immunity if your body is never allowed to fight!

In addition, the widespread use of various strains of antibiotics has been shown to increase the chances of resistant bacteria, that’s a situation nobody wants!

That’s not to say that antibiotics aren’t a very valuable resource in the GP’s arsenal, for example patients with chronic heart problems, because these groups are less able to fight off infections and are more likely to succumb and require hospitalisation or develop complications.

The rule of thumb is “don’t ignore that cough, especially if it’s getting worse or doesn’t respond to over-the-counter treatments”

We have enough resource available to us, with NHS Direct and telephone consultations with Doctors, as well as the internet, some might say there is too much resource, but there’s no reason I can come up with that an otherwise healthy teenager who’s caught a cold and has had a cough for a few days should be pitching up in A&E demanding antibiotics. Even when they have it explained to them that the problem is viral and antibiotics won’t help, they just don’t seem to understand.

It seems to me that a lot of “common sense” or “folk knowledge” has gone. People used to be able to manage simple coughs and colds without resorting to seeing the doctor and in this day and age, the idea of bed-rest to allow yourself to recover just isn’t convenient. With the strain that our Doctors and Emergency services are under, it occurs to me that people should be listening and learning more and complaining less.

I would say, to all the jokers currently in the media complaining about man-flu and over-dramatising their illnesses, take a walk in the shoes of a pleurisy patient for a day and compare that to how bad your cough is, then come back to me with your complaints.

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Overhaul Required?

Baroness Uddin

Suspended Labour peer Baroness Uddin is set to be allowed back into the House of Lords without paying back the £125,000 she wrongly claimed in expenses!?

She claims she can’t afford to pay it back after she was banned from the HoL  in Oct 2010. Unfortunately the HoL has no effective powers to force a peer to repay expenses or to maintain a ban until money is repaid. The Lords can only issue a ban until the end of a session of parliament and the present parliament is due to end next April, banning Baroness Uddin beyond then would “infringe her right to attend parliament” which is conferred by the Queen.

Getting back into the HoL means that Uddin will also be able to start claiming expenses again, of up to £300 a day from next Easter.

Why isn’t she in prison?

What a ridiculous state for things to get into, she could get incarcerated but the only person who could kick her out of the HoL is the Queen! She bestows the titles (technically) so  she’s the only one who could take them away. They’ve only legally been able to resign since the 1960’s and if I recall correctly, when Jeffery Archer got thrown in the clink, it was generally considered that it would take an Act of Parliament to get him out of the HoL.

So, if ever there was a way to bring the British parliament and HoL into even greater disrepute than the expenses scandal caused in the first place, how about allowing rip-off peers like Uddin and Hanningfield (who did at least get locked up for his wrong-doing) back into a position where they can claim expenses from the public purse all over again!

Can you imagine nicking £125,000 from your employer and getting away scott-free? No me neither!

In My Opinion, they should be allowed back into the HoL on the understanding that they can’t claim a penny in salary or expenses until they have worked off their debt, Baroness Uddin could therefore provide actual value for money by working in the HoL for 1 year and 52 days for free before she was paid a penny by the British people.

Hmm, a peer providing value for money….Pigs Might Fly!

 

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Annoyance

Eat, Drink and be Merry

It seems that this time of year really sparks my irritations! The frenetic approach of the Christian version of Ancient Mithrasmas which seems to start earlier every year is my chief annoyance, when I lived in the US I had a policy, I refused to start preparing for Halloween until October, I would then refuse to start worrying about Thanksgiving until after Halloween and finally refuse to start even thinking about Xmas until after Thanksgiving.

This tradition has stuck with me even though I am back in the UK, I refuse to even start thinking about Xmas until at least after Bonfire night and I won’t do any buying until after the 1st December.

Halloween annoys me more each year, particularly the uneducated and idiotic rantings of the pro-God lot who (apart from a few notable exceptions) either don’t want to, or can’t be bothered to discover the roots of the date and learn about the significance of the event for religions other than their own. Even my own 9 year old nephew has learnt about the “true” history of All Hallows Eve, he knows a little bit about the wheel of the year and the associations with the turn of seasons and the closeness of the people to the land, it beggars my belief that middle aged people who have access to so much knowledge apply it so restrictedly to the history of their own world.

On the subject of Xmas (insert your deity here) I am always annoyed by the people who start getting organised for Xmas before December, I have no idea what I might like for a present when I’m asked in October! It might have changed 5 times before the day actually arrives, for which reason I tend to ask for vouchers for things so I can choose at the time, rather than try to predict months in advance. I then get accused of spoiling the spirit of the holiday by being “Humbug.”

Thing is, I’m not even remotely humbug about Xmas. I’m pagan and I have no illusions about the story behind the holiday, but I still value the chance to have some time off work, visit family and loved ones, eat and drink more than is reasonably good for me and yes, even the presents, although I love to choose and give gifts almost more than I like getting them.

For me Xmas is less about the presents, and more about the time spent with the people who mean most to me. I do a Yule feast every year in the traditions of my ancestors, I invite friends and family, we eat a meal together, celebrate the victory of the Oak King over the Holly King signifying the lengthening of the days and the return of the light, and we endeavour to stay up all night to see the daybreak after the shortest day (we don’t always succeed)  Xmas is much more about the changing seasons for me, so the frantic shopping and the obsession with “what you get” as a present is not really on my radar.

I like New Year. Not only is it my anniversary of meeting my Mister, it’s also an end to the “Giftmas” mentality and starts people looking forward to another year. I wait for the New Moon before making resolutions, a much better time to be starting something new IMO, I also make a list of the things I am looking forward to during the year, and I keep it in my wallet until all of the things have come to pass (or proved themselves impossible) as a way of counting my blessings. I also love the feeling of putting the previous calendar year behind me, I spend some time thinking the year through, working out what I’ve learnt, the things I enjoyed, the things I hated, it feels like drawing a line under that time and gives me the chance to look forward.

So, long story short, all I want for Xmas is a chance to spend some time alone, a chance to spend some time with my loved ones and a chance to start the new year with all my annoyance left behind me….Oh and a bit of Peace on Earth of course :)

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Greek Referendum?

Well, George Papandreou has been replaced by interim leader Lucas Papademos in Greece. Lucas agrees that he has his work cut out for him, but is convinced that there is a solution to the countries problems.

Thing is, George Papandreou was effectively forced out of power by the French and German leaders of the Eurozone because he called a referendum of the people regarding the latest bailout solution.

The ex-Greek Prime Minister, faced with a ‘solution’ brewed up by the EU powerhouses that in fact is not at all a solution but will still mean huge hardship for the majority of his people for a decade to come, decides he can only do one thing – ask the people who elected him to make a decision. Let them decide their own fate.

This is Greece by the way, the country that invented democracy, and fought wars to defend it when the rest of us were barely able to build mud huts.

The reaction of stock markets round the world and the other governments within the EU? Immediate panic. Uproar. Threats.

So there you go. The elite simply don’t trust the rest of the population, and would rather anything than actually let you, or people like you actually decide anything important. Even if anyone with half a brain can see the plan they’ve cooked up is little to do with helping the Greek people and very much more to do with ‘restoring confidence in the markets’ i.e. allowing the financial sector to carry on playing silly buggers with everyone else’s money.

George Papandreou was cast as a buffoon by the media but I think this is one of the bravest things I’ve seen a politician do in years. Faced with selling his country and it’s people down the river (admittedly on a flooded river his predecessors created) he stood for the principles his people fought and died for centuries ago. He stood with his electorate.

Bravo.

It may be the Greek people would have made the ‘wrong’ decision, and we all could have paid for it in one way or another. But I’d rather take hardship based on the decisions of a nation of people, decided under the most fundamental guiding principle of western society, than I would on the decision of a few hundred politicians and merchant bankers, who apparently consider democracy an inconvenience.

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Remembrance

Lest We Forget

Remembrance Sunday 2011. An especially emotional day for so many, and yet there seems to be an entire generation who have forgotten, or perhaps never knew why Remembrance Sunday, or 11/11 are such important dates.

Wit

With proud thanksgiving, a mother for her children,
England mourns for her dead across the sea.
Flesh of her flesh they were, spirit of her spirit,
Fallen in the cause of the free.

Solemn the drums thrill: Death august and royal,
Sings sorrow up into immortal spheres.
There is music in the midst of desolation,
And a glory that shines upon her tears.

They went with songs to the battle, they were young.
Straight of limb, true of eyes, steady and aglow.
They were staunch to the end against odds uncounted,
They fell with their faces to the foe.

They shall not grow old, as we that are left grow old:
Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn.
At the going down of the sun and in the morning,
We will remember them.

They mingle not with their laughing comrades again;
They sit no more at familiar tables at home;
They have no lot in our labour of the daytime;
They sleep beyond
England‘s foam.

But where our desires are and our hopes profound,
Felt as a well-spring that is hidden from sight,
To the innermost heart of their own land they are known,
As the stars are known to the night.

As the stars will be bright when we are dust,
Moving in marches upon the heavenly plain;
As the stars that are starry in the time of our darkness,
To the end, to the end, they remain.

I struggle with the concept that poems such as For the Fallen above, the story of Armistice Day 1918 and the events surrounding the end of WWI are not taught to todays children, by their families if not by their schools. The first world war was horrific by any standards, a bloody and unsophisticated fight involving the deaths of 9 million combatants over the course of it’s 4 years. It is known to this day at the 6th deadliest conflict in world history.

The war was started by an assasination, contained some of the worst fighting conditions for all sides and involved some horrendous examples of ethnic cleansing and genocide and yet there are large groups of people who don’t know anything about it or the sacrifices made by the people who fought and died for our freedom.

Someone on Twitter summed it up perfectly on Friday. At about 11:10 on Friday @scottyb tweeted “had to stand at the tesco till for 2 minutes of silence for something from years ago. stupid” So arrogant, someone who clearly doesn’t understand the magnitude of Armistice Day, who can’t even give 2 minutes of his day to remember the fallen who have died for his freedom. Disgusting.

There’s no reason for this to slip into obscurity, Remembrance happens every year at the same time, children should cover this in school and if not, their parents should make sure they understand the salient points if not the entire history. It’s been this way through all the generations from that austere date and it should continue this way to time immemorial.

“Those that fail to learn from history, are doomed to repeat it.” – Winston Churchill

Lest we forget….

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