I stopped writing to my blog some three years ago.
I was informed, as was other users, that the domain hosting service, GoDaddy, was to cease supporting and were to withdraw their QuickBlogCast authoring tool in favour of WordPress, a CMS (Content Management System). We were told that the old content, or blog,would be ported across to the new service.
After thirty-five years working for computer manufacturers developing and maintaining software, I knew this was not going to be an easy task. I remember 15th February 1971, when the UK changed their monetary system from pounds, shillings and pence to a decimal system.
Prior to 1971 the UK used pounds, shillings and pence, where 12 pence equaled 1 shilling, and 20 shillings equaled £1. That meant that there were 240 pennies in £1, (12×20).
We had other oddities like a Crown which was 5 shillings, Half-a-Crown being 2 shillings and 6 pence, a 10 bob note being equal to 10 shillings, etc etc.
In 1971, computing was in its’ infancy, and there were not many people knowledgeable to program an work on computers, those that were, were mostly employed by the computer manufacturers who programmed the machines for the individual customers. These were the days before standard software packages. It would be another ten years before I received my first PC on my desk whilst working for Texas Instruments, and it was rubbish.
So the few programmers had to work all hours to write conversion programmes to convert all the computer systems from the old system to the new, and it had to be done at midnight 15th February. If we had got it wrong, businesses would have failed, banks would have closed, shops would not have been able to sell, and no-one would be paid.
Through-out my career, as new systems, programming languages, operating systems, hardware etc replaced old, such conversions would be needed, and a right headache they were. Even as new consumer goods have been introduced, conversion has had to take place, TV’s analog to digital, radios, FM and AM to DAB.
Things go wrong, and I was expecting it with GoDaddy’s conversion/migration.
When the conversion took place, all my photographs were lost, all the links between the various entries were corrupt or wrong. One entry could refer to different entries which would refer to other links. They were all wrong.
I estimate that I could correct about 5 entries a day. With about 1,000 entries that would be 200 days of solid work, no weekends, no holidays, no other work. An impossible task, so I walked away from all my hard work.
Another thing. Did I want to learn a new system, WordPress? No. How many times have I in the past devoted energy learning new programming languages, only for them to be replaced a couple of years later? How many times have I learnt how a new computer hardware system worked so I was to be the expert expected of me, only for that machine to be obsolete next year?
But I have bitten the bullet, I have had a change of heart, I have succumbed to the pressure from others to update nlpnow.com and my other sites. I have started the long correction process.
It will be a long road, some 200 days of work, but I will do it, hoping that before I finish they don’t change systems again.
Looking back at my past, I remember as a small boy, playing with my friends in the traffic free streets of my home town of Chasetown in England, the long summer days, the long school holidays, my playtime that lasted forever, time seemed to stand still.
Even when I was at college in Wednesbury, The Staffordshire College of Commerce, time seemed to go so slow. Sitting in the history class, a lesson I could not relate too as the lecturer did not have the ability to capture students attention or interest, I remember sitting watching the second hand of the clock seemingly moving backwards, time passed so slowly.
Now reaching the age of 95, (no I am not really 95), time just speeds bye. No sooner has summer started, the trees are covered in green leaves, then they are turning brown and falling off the trees.
Time just seems to fly by. It is so quick.
Now I have noticed that it is getting darker in the evenings so much sooner.
Gone so quickly are the evenings when the sun still shines at 9:30pm and it is mid December when the sun sets at 4pm.
As I get older the nights seems to draw in quicker, no sooner am I enjoying late summer evenings then it is getting dark too early.
This must be part of the ageing process. Time passes quicker, the nights draw in quicker, the leaves drop from the leaves quicker, and policemen are so young.
“Wait your turn”, or “First come, first served“, “Respect your elders“, “Do what you are told“, were instilled in me from the day I was born, British sayings that have guided me through my life, are now pulling at my heart strings as I continue to travel, not only the world, but the British Isles.
If two people stand behind another person in Britain, you can be sure, others will join the queue. They will not perhaps know what they are waiting for, but but they will form an orderly queue.
As a small boy, I remember catching the bus to visit my Grandmother or go shopping, and when we arrived at the bus stop, we would mentally work out how many people had arrived before us, and as more people arrived, who was the person who had arrived immediately after us and the sequence of people arriving after them. We were forming a queue, a sequence of order of those who arrived first would get on the bus first, followed by the next person, and so on and so forth.
In the shop, we knew who was before us and who had arrived after us, and thus we had order, “first come, first served“, and if the shop assistant went to serve a customer out of order, the customer would say, “No, I think that person was before me“.
We had respect for others, we had order, we knew our place, we knew the rules, written and unwritten, we knew we must “wait your turn” rule.
At school, queuing was further instilled in us, as before classes we would be required to stand in an orderly line, a queue, not saying a word. Sometimes this queue was further defined by height, or alphabetically by family name or by the sequence in which we sat in the classroom, those sitting at the back would be first in the queue and those sitting at the front of the classroom would be last in the queue.
For my non British readers you can see this in action when watching the tennis on your TV of Wimbledon, where people will queue to buy tickets, and these queues are very long, or when there is a sale at a shop like Harrods in London, or the launch of a new product like the Apple iPhone, people will start queuing days before the start of the sale, bringing along beds and blankets to sleep and keep warm.
These queuers will be allowed to leave the queue by others, and, return without any problems or queries, just by saying, “Can you save my place please?“
My first shock to the system, my first challenge to my up-bringing and my beliefs happened in the 1980’s when I worked in Saudi Arabia as the Software Manager for the Texas Instruments distributor, Saudi Computer Services. I had been sent to the capital, Riyadh, to install a new client’s computer system, a task I had done many times, flying from the Red Sea town of Jeddah into the middle of the country where Riyadh is located.
My flights had been arranged, and upon completion of the job, I went to catch my return leg back to Jeddah early, as I had completed the installation ahead of schedule. I went to book-in, only to be told that the flight had been cancelled due to a sand storm and I had been placed on “standby” for the next available flight, and that I should join the queue at the standby desk.
With some fellow standby queuers, all Western Ex-Patriates, we talked and laughed as we waited for the next available seatings.
An announcement was made in Arabic, and within seconds from being first in the queue, we found ourselves at the back of the queue, with hundred of shouting, arms waving men in their white thobes and keffiyeh head dress.
Then they were gone, we found ourselves back at the front of the queue, but all spare seats had been taken.
This process continued, at one time we were at the front of the queue, only to find ourselves at the back following an announcement we did not understand, and any available seats were quickly allocated to those pushing to the front of the queue. We were only saved by a kind Saudia Airlines employee taking pity upon us.
The feeling of despair, the feeling of disbelief, the feeling of not fair play, something we say in British colloquialism when people do not play by the rules is “it’s not cricket“, still stays with me today.
I am experiencing this feeling more and more in the UK as more and more visitors and immigrants descend upon the small and overcrowded islands, and especially in London.
Gone are the orderly queues on the Waterloo and City underground line, (The Drain), the two station tube line, linking Waterloo mainline train station to the City of London banking area, where city centre office workers, would each morning and evening, “wait their turn” to board the over crowded trains, often missing several trains until they reached the front of the queue.
Gone are the orderly queues at bus stops.
Gone are the “first come, first served” rules in shops, restaurants and bars, as the shop assistants and waiters are often non British and do not have any concept of British cultural rules, and serve those with the loudest voice, the highest valued bank note, or the person that catches their eye.
My blood boils when waiting for a bus, especially at London Heathrow Airport after a long flight, where workers are more often than not from ethnic minority backgrounds, especially from the Indian subcontinent, where “Wait your turn”, or “First come, first served” appears does not exist in their culture.
More often of not I have just missed a bus and thus first in the queue with my suitcase for the next one, only to find when the bus arrives I am last on the bus with no seats left.
At the luggage carrousels in airport baggage halls, I am often one of the first to arrive to claim my suitcase as I can bye-pass the often long immigration queues with my biometric passport. At the carrousel, as at all airports, there is a distinctive yellow line which states, “Stand behind the line“. I follow this rule, and stand there like a statue or a soldier on guard, only to find myself soon unable to see the conveyer belt and the suitcases gliding past, as I am pushed to the back as others do not follow the rules and do what they are told, to “Stand behind the line“.
On a recent short flight from Kuala Lumpur to Penang, I resisted the need to get on the aircraft first, because as soon as the announcement was made that the flight was ready for boarding, and that we would be boarding by seat numbers, passengers raced to the departure gate, disregarding the request that only the few backseat passengers, rows 55 – 60 go forward.
For goodness sake, the plane will not leave without us.
I waited my turn and boarded the plane to take my allocated seat 6F, a window seat I had booked the day before and printed on my ticket. When I got to row 6, my seat was taken by an Indian looking young man. I politely asked him what was his ticketed seat number which turned-out to be 6D, the aisle seat. Not to cause a fuss and ask the gentleman sitting in the middle seat, 6E, to move so we could swop seats, I smiled and said I would take the aisle seat.
The air steward hearing what was happening and to my compromise to allow the person to occupy my seat, and yes I prefer the window seat, gave me a knowing smile and nod.
We were ready for taxiing out to the runway, and the announcement was made in two languages to make sure the seats were upright, tray tables stowed away, seat belts fastened, all electronic devices switched off and phone set to flight mode.
At this point, the Indian looking guy, started making a telephone call, and continued as we were pulling onto the runway to take-off. Faces of people turned to him in disbelief, but he continued, so I shouted at him to switch it off. He did.
As we were descending into Penang the announcement was made to make sure seat belts were fastened, seat backs were upright, tray tables stowed away and electronical devices switched off. He followed non of these instructions, his tray table still pocking into his stomach.
We landed in Penang, and as soon as we touched down, not even off the runway, he was making another call, again people gave him dirty looks, but this time I stayed calm and said nothing.
As we came to a stop at the gate. He stood-up waiting to get off the aircraft. Why people do it, I will never know, because we have to wait until those nearest the exit door get off first.
As I stood up to get my hand luggage from the overhead compartments, he tried to push me out of the way. I stood my ground and shouted at him to WAIT.
He looked at me sheepishly as said “sorry sir” and sat down. Faces around me gave me a knowing smile.
Being near to the front of the plane, I was one of the first off and thus one of the first at the baggage carrousel, and I dutifully stood waiting behind the yellow line. As the luggage started to arrive more passengers arrived, and I found myself once again with people infront of me, mostly of Indian ethnicity, craning to see if their suitcase was coming.
My suitcase came before those who had pushed infront of me, and it was quite a struggle to extract the suitcase from the carrousel as I had to push and shove my way in and out of the scrummage.
Oh, and the Indian looking guy was on the opposite side of the carrousel having just arrived from disembarking from the aircraft, and his luggage still not delivered.
It is against my nature, my culture not to “Wait my turn”, or accept “First come, first served“, “Respect your elders“, “Do what you are told“, but these days when I sense I could be forced to the back of the queue, it becomes playtime for Phillip. I use my body to stop these “I must be first, I have no regard for others around me” people, from getting infront of me, often forcing them to board last, allowing others to get on or served first, I’m using Phillip’s Sausage to know their every move, and counteracting them, letting them feel the frustration I feel against them.
Home is where you make, it is often a saying I hear. Certainly these insects are making their home here on this plant leaf in Malaysia.
These little insects are building a wonderful structure, attached to the underside of the leaf by a simple single arm.
They have been working tirlessly throughout the heat of the day, whereas I have had to stay indoors in an air-conditioned room to stay comfortable.
The heat and humidity is something that after a time overcomes me, draining me of the ability to think, to function as I would in the temperate climate of the UK.
Perhaps the home we create should be where we are conditioned to physically, and not to live in such a place will put undue strain on our bodies and mind. I do not think these wasp like creatures could survive the freezing cold of a British winter.
Perhaps the home we create should be where we are culturally brought-up, with food stuffs we eat, pastimes we pursue, clothes we wear, beliefs we follow. Travelling to other countries other than the UK I see the British still holding onto their traditions, living a certain lifestyle, and for non British moving to seek a new life in the UK, that they too hold onto their traditions, cultures, lifestyles and beliefs.
So is home where you make it?
Is home where you were brought-up?
Is home where your roots are?
As I talk to ex-patriates, people who have moved to other countries, many will want to return to their roots, their home of up-bringing, even after many years of living abroad.
This brings many problems.
Often the ex-patriates have children whilst living in foreign lands, who are raised in the culture and traditions of that foreign land. Some with gain foreign spouses with their traditions and cultures.
In Malaysia and other countries I often visit, I have experienced and seen things which is not the norm in my own country of the UK, that is not in the British culture, or is not contained in my belief system. I have had to learn to accept with an open mind new things presented to me as I travel.
Today I saw what I would have presumed was a grasshopper, but this creature had different markings that I have never seen before.
I have seen green grasshoppers, light yellow grasshoppers and more, but one with not such a dark brown with white markings.
But then, perhaps I do not know everything about grasshoppers.
I teach in NLP, we only know what we know, or want to know, and that is the world we live in, our belief system. Anything that does not fit into our existing or previous knowledge, learnings, what we have been taught, our understanding of our own small world would be strange, incorrect, and we will distort any new experience to fit into our existing understanding of our world.
Yet, obviously this creature was in existence prior to my seeing it. Just because I was not aware of it does not say it did not not exist.
We should all open our minds up for new possibilities, accept that a belief is just a belief based upon what we have been told by others, and we all have different beliefs.
Which or whose belief is correct?
We will never know until the lights go out.
So until I am told differently, this is a grasshopper.
It is so empowering to deliver and work in an industry I love, to impart and share my knowledge in a fun and easy to learn way, to shake the hands of participants as they leave with smiles on their faces, knowing in some small way, I may have enriched their world, as well as those they have contact with.
“Phillip, are you up yet?“, or “Go back to sleep.“, were often comments I got in the morning from my mother when I was a younger boy. If she was awake, then I and the whole world should be awake, to be up and about, but, if she wanted a lay-in, if she wanted an extra hour of sleep, which always seemed to be on a Sunday, then I should also sleep in.
Living in a block of apartments in Norbiton Hall, it means I have a family above me, below me and to the two sides of me, and noise does penetrate the floors, ceilings and walls, which is understandable when sharing communal buildings.
It is the same in hotels, where one usually has a small room with very thin walls and doors separating ones-self and the other guests.
Travelling the world as I do on a regular basis, I have encountered many styles and types of hotels, and it seems that I do not sleep in the same bed for more than ten days at a time. I also encounter different cultures and behaviours.
Early morning calls for hotel guests, especially those on a tour when their bus/coach leaves at 7am. I did not ask for a call, but with the walls so thin I also hear their wake-up call.
Tours which need to have block booking of multiple rooms is another, “time to wake up” signal for Phillip, although I do not need one or placed one.
Suitcases being dragged down the corridors, and banging doors as guests come and go are a sleep disturbing episode.
School trips or sports team members love to stay-up late at night, perhaps going out to a late night disco, come back in high spirits, laughing, singing, shouting, running from room to room, banging doors.
Chinese tourists seem to have to shout from room to room with their doors closed. Have they not heard of the bedside telephone which they can use? The Oriental women seem to have to shout and in a high pitch voice in all their conversations.
In hotels catering for the Middle Eastern peoples, they seem to travel in family groups, and they allow the children to run from room to room into the early hours of the morning. OK, in my culture from the UK, all children have to be in bed for say 9pm. The hotel guests also leave their doors open to their rooms and shout to each other in conversations.
Then you get the couples, who, after a good night out, or a great meal in the restaurant, return to have an argument in their room. As I will not be able to probably understand their language, it all becomes a mass of unbearable noise which keeps me awake.
Then you get other noises.
A hotel in Ankara, Turkey where I stayed, gave me a really pleasant room, and I went to bed early to get enough sleep to give my course the next day. I was awoken with a thump, thump, thump, on the dividing wall between my room and the next. It was not long before the sounds of pleasure were penetrating the walls. Laying there, I had to endure the sounds for a few more minutes, until they ceased, and I was able to get to sleep.
An hour later, the thump, thump, thump, on my wall started again, waking me up, followed by the sounds of passion and pleasure. I lay there until it stopped and went back to sleep.
On the hour, every hour, all through the night this continued. I was exhausted.
The next morning I left my room to go down for breakfast the same time as the guests from the room next to mine left their room. She was young, model figured lady, and he was a wizen old man. I was amazed by his stamina, or could it be that the lady was a business lady?
I moved rooms.
On top of all the other noises as mentioned above, there are the traffic noises, people snoring, perhaps the person I am sleeping with fidgeting or talking in their sleep, keeping me awake at night.
Last night I knew I was in for trouble. I arrived home from a meeting at 10pm, to see two taxis’s waiting outside the next apartment entrance, and young adults streaming out of the apartment block laughing and joking, obviously going to a night club.
At 3am in the morning they returned, and their party continued in an adjacent apartment, loud talking and shouting, laughter and banging of doors and furniture.
Other residents were obviously being disturbed to, as I heard knocking on floors and walls, loud enough to make me think someone was knocking on my front door.
The noise continued until 7:45am, when all went quiet, and I went back to sleep, only to be awoken by a telephone call half an hour later to inform me by a recorded voice that “Congratulations, you have won a prize…..“. I did not stop to listen, but switched the phone off and placed it under my pillow.
My sleep had been disturbed now and I got up.
Oh for a good nights sleep.
Perhaps I should go and find a desert island somewhere.
But then I expect a flock of seagulls would wake me up as soon as it became light, signalling each other it was time to get their early morning food.
It is now 1:30 pm in the afternoon, and the revellers have just woken-up, and shouting and laughing has started again.
It was an honour to be awarded the title of a Freeman of the City of London.
Although the privileges once afforded to those becoming a Freeman, being able to drive sheep not the City of London, being drunk without fear of arrest, and drawing a sword in public, have long gone, I felt proud on the special day.