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.
Christmas time is a very special time in many countries around the world, whereas in others it is a time that is not celebrated or recognised. In the UK the day is a very special day, no matter what belief system people follow. It is a time of reflection, a time of religious beliefs, a time of sharing, a time of family, a time of friendship, but for children it is a time when Santa Claus travels the world in the early hours of Christmas Day with his trusted Rudolf the Red Nose Reindeer delivering presents.
Children often visit Santa’s Grotto before Christmas to ask for the presents they want him to leave them.
As a member of the Rotary Club of Kingston upon Thames, we collect funds for local charities and projects run throughout the year, like taking under privileged children out for the day to theme parks (Kids Out), helping families in need, raising funds for End Polio Now, and many more. During the period of Christmas we tow Santa’s Sleigh through the local community in the evenings taking Santa to the people, and in the main shopping centre of Kingston upon Thames we erect a Christmas Tree and Santa Hut, and one of our members will become Santa.
It is one of the great moments of the year for me to become Santa Claus, to don the red coat and hat, and grow my beard long and white, wear my wellington boots, and wait for the small children to come to me to ask for their Christmas gift.
Ringing my bell, I sit there, warm and snug in layers of clothing, waving at the passing people, and it is when a young child sees Santa that magic happens. Their eyes light up, their belief system kicks in, and often I here the thrill in their voice as they shout out, “SANTA”.
Most parents then bring the excited children up to Santa, and that is the time for me to interact with the child, to enter into their fantasy their belief system.
I ask them their name so that the time becomes very personal between us, and enter into a conversation which ends with Santa asking, “what do you want me to leave you for Christmas?“. Some children already have specific gifts in mind, others are not sure, but I tell them that not to worry, Santa will leave them something special, as long as they leave me a mince pie and a carrot for Rudolf as we will be very hungry.
As the children leave they get a sweet that they can choose from a small box Santa offers them, and the look on their faces is fabulous, one of trust, innocence and belief. But, it is the happiness of the parents, of them being drawn into the beliefs of their children.
For me this is the spirit of Christmas, and I am part of that spirit that will form the memories of a lifetime. And, it does not matter what belief system the families belong to, the magic of Christmas is shared with all.
Its was certainly windy on the promenade in the run-up to Xmas in the English seaside town of Brighton.
I needed to visit Brighton two days before Christmas day, and decided to walk along the seafront, what a mistake. It appeared to be snow on the promenade, as my photograph shows the woman fighting the wind whilst hanging onto her dog, she seems to be knee deep in snow, but actually it is foam being driven off the waves off the wild sea.
We had been warned of adverse weather conditions, with winds of between 60 – 90 mph (96 – 145 km/h) and heavy rain all over the UK.
The waves lashed the pebbled beach and the high wind blew the white crests into the foam, which mixed with the rain flew parallel onto land, stinging the face, and inhibiting any forward flight the seagulls were trying to make.
I was drenched from head to foot within seconds, and at times found it difficult to keep my footing.
I only spent a short time on the seafront being quickly soaked to the skin and a train journey to take back to home.
With warnings of possible transport delays due to the severe weather, trees being uprooted, lorries being blown over, and changing trains at London’s Clapham Junction, I was not surprised to hear that my train had been cancelled back to Norbiton. Little did I know the cause was a bus having its roof sliced off as it went under the low railway bridge at Norbiton Station, which resulted in many roads in the vicinity being closed. This meant a long walk around back streets, in more driving rain, by-passing the wreck of the bus.
Now I am in my warm home as the storm rages outside, and the storms are predicted to continue into Christmas Eve. I will not venture out.
Good job I have cooked enough food to keep me fed over the Xmas period.
One of the efforts that Rotary Club members worldwide is to eradicate the terrible disease of polio (poliomyelitis) through out our world. To this end over the years since 1985, Rotary Club has raised many millions of dollars, which has been matched dollar for dollar by the Bill Gates Foundation and in conjunction with health authorities, to buy the vaccine and facilitate the distribution and administration in all countries.
There has been a 99% success rate.
Now, there are only three countries left with polio, Pakistan, Afghanistan and Nigeria. But only yesterday I read that there were potentially 22 suspected cases in war torn Syria.
Along with many agencies and health authorities, members of Rotary Clubs worldwide will blitz areas or countries with the vaccine, and in India on their immunisation days, up to 65 million children can be immunised, protecting them for life.
Once a child has been immunised, their finger is dipped in a purple dye.
To raise funds for this wonderful cause, Rotary Club members run events and collect money from the public, and yesterday was End Polio Now day.
Because the children have their fingers dipped in a purple dye, the crocus has been adopted as a symbol, and around the UK, millions of crocus bulbs have been planted to form in future a carpet of purple to remind us of this effort, and collections are made in exchange for a crocus flower pin.
Although I felt an idiot, I recently as a Rotary member, went onto the streets of my local town to collect money. Wearing a crocus headgear, I stood waiting and hoping for donations from from the giving fatigued public.
Thank you those who have helped to save those who need to be immunised against polio.
My little effort was just a drop in the ocean, but an ocean that joins other oceans to cover the world.
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.
Last night, 15th August 2013, as night crept upon me, I looked out of my window into a near cloudless sky and noticed the moon in the southern sky. It was only half full.
The photograph I took above has not been enhanced or changed, yet half of the moon is invisible, it does not exist. The clear blue sky is visible all around the moon.
When we see something, and we process that information, what we see is what we believe, it is the truth.
It is only half a moon.
There is an object, it is sitting in a clear blue sky. We can see the half moon, greyish in colour, it is there.
But, logically because we have all seen a full moon, we know that the moon is round, but it cannot be, as, where is the missing half of the moon?
Yes it is all to do with the earth’s atmosphere absorbing the darker rays of light being emitted from the moon, where-as, the sun’s illuminated side, the rays of light have passed through the atmosphere.
Just because we cannot see something does not mean it is not there or that it does not exist.
How many times do we as humans take things on face value?
How many times do we as humans believe what we have been told or shown, not realising that the person, educator, organisation, newspaper, broadcaster, has eliminate, deleted, missed out information, misinforming us?
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.