Friday, March 27, 2015

Short and Ranty - words

Short and ranty is what this blog post is. Me, I'm quite tall and ranty. Today I'm ranting about the term 'Hack' as in 'life hack, 'parenting hack', 'storage hack', 'money saving hacks' etc etc

What does anyone think this means? Does it mean anything and who started it? Hacking as in the original meaning (to cut, notch, slice, chop, or sever (something) with or as with heavy, irregular blows) came into popular use to mean a break into a computer system. OK I can live with that, it's a virtual cut, or slice, into a programme, fine. But as a life idea? I presume some bright spark somewhere thought 'ooh changing a computer system is a hack so maybe changing something in my life is a hack too'

Well it isn't, you sound ridiculous and this mangling (hack can also mean to mangle BTW) of the language has to stop. I'm happy for words to change meaning over time but grabbing a word and shoving it into a space where perfectly good words for that thing already exist is just ridiculous and demeans the language.

You don't have a 'camping hack' you have a good idea. You see, an IDEA, the word was there already! A cunning thing that people might not have thought of that could help them if they adopted it. Try it, try using "I have a great idea" rather than "I have a hack for that" it works and you sound so much more human.

For some great camping ideas and not a hack in sight try my other blog

It took off with 'troll' too. Troll originally meant a person that threw ideas (often but not always vile ones) out into the public domain to get a reaction. Hence the often used term "don't feed the trolls". Feeding a troll in the form of replies to a deliberately controversial post/tweet/message etc was what they wanted so it was suggested ignoring them would work. Nowadays a troll seems to have become anyone on social media that says anything people don't like and specifically someone who threatens or is particularly vile in their attacks. Well in my opinion while they may be a troll as well, they are more than just a troll, they are often breaking the law for a start and I'd like a new word in this case. Any ideas?

And a last little rant about 'literally'. I am literally going to talk about it! I metaphorically throw up each time someone uses the word 'literally' to mean its exact opposite. Can we not move back to either 'metophorically' or even 'almost'. As in "I almost died" "I almost threw up" "I metaphorically killed him" "I literally wet myself" wait ... you literally wet yourself? I hope you got your jeans cleaned up OK.

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

And what do points mean? PRIZES!

As you know if you read (this post) you'll know I'm doing some slightly tongue in cheek blog awards. You can nominate your favourite blogs here (or nominate yourself - I'm all for self love)

For each category there is a prize! All nominated witll get a badge for their blog, those in the final will get a finalist badge and the winner is each category will get a winners badge, a certificate and an actual real life prize! (under 18 year olds will need a note from a grownup to share their address with me!)

The Prizes for each category are as follows.

The Best Blog by someone 16yo or under - A nod to the bloggers of the future! Is your child just starting with blogging or have they been blogging a while? Nominate them and they can win a £10 Amazon Voucher! So they can buy the sort of things kids buy, a Justin Beaver album or something... ;-) (This category sponsored by me)

Wordy Blogger - aka bloggers that waffle on a bit...might even be deemed to have blogged tripe on occasion...and I'm not saying that like it's a bad thing, oh no! For the prize for the winner in this category is sponsored by non other than The Tripe Marketing Board! And the prize is membership to the Tripe fan club. A seriously weird fantastic prize!

The Unmissable - is there a blog you just can't wait to read? A blog that is just right to snuggle on the sofa with laptop or tablet and a hot mug of tea, maybe cake, a blog to savour? Well the prize for this category is sponsored by Nothing But Tea! The perfect accompaniment to a lazy afternoon read, or a pick-me-up to get you in the mood to write a new post!

Blogger You'd Most Like to Take Home - are they super funny? Gorgeous? a brilliant writer? Would they be the perfect companion on a night out or are they more of a little lost puppy? What ever the reason you can't really take them home, but if they win they will take home a gorgeous Lovelace Papercut of a wolf howling at the moon. I'm stupidly envious of this prize.
 The Blogger who made me laugh til the wee ran down my leg - well who doesn't like a good old chuckle. Is there a blogger that makes you fear for your bladder? The winner in this category will be awarded a stunning and appropriatly themed Lolita Wineglass from Flamingo Gifts (I can vouch for the loveliness of these glasses...also the largeness of them!) featuring 'Happy Hour' perfect!

The Slacker Award (Blogger who hardly ever posts but when they do it’s fab) - is there a blogger you'd like to read more of? Someone who needs a nudge? The winner in this category will win a watch from the lovely Cherry Diva, hopefully they will then feel so cheered and lovely they will immediately blog about it! (and maybe that nag about time will keep them blogging!)

Blogger who should know better - a blogger who says it like it is to the extent they get themselves into trouble, maybe they tweet too, maybe they post drunk. They can have the pleasure of winning a cultured book which I've been assured is informative, funny and a bit sweary...just what they need to get them on the straight and narrow again. A Million Years in a Day: A Curious History of Everyday Life by Greg Jenner, I'm trying to convince him to sign it too.

 And just for nominating you could be entered into a prize draw to win...CAKE! So get nominating, nominations close on April 1st and then voting will begin.

Click here to access the nominations form.

Sunday, March 22, 2015

Second breakfast

I've never been out for breakfast.

 This morning I saw a photo on my twitter timeline of a family in a car, happily smiling on the start of a journey, the caption was along the lines of 'off for breakfast'. It made me comment that I've never been out for breakfast.

Replies can thick and fast. I was weird, everyone eats breakfast out, what's not to like there's no cooking, a fry up is great, what not even as a student? Etc etc

And no, I've never been out for breakfast. I have been out for brunch, I have eaten a huge fry up, a full English if you will, for lunch and even for dinner, but I've never been out for breakfast.

I've been out for SECOND breakfast, hobbit style. I've woken, showered, got dressed, grabbed a slice of hotly buttered toast and a mug of strong, sweet, hot tea, and then when that's finished, gone out for breakfast.

But wake from sleep...after EIGHT HOURS of no food, get dressed, walk past a full larder but choose to go out STILL HUNGRY. Nope never done that. 

Even when DD and I went to america on the driving holiday of a lifetime, when we stayed in cheap motels that had no cafe attached, we took muffins back to the room so we could have them with coffee and hot chocolate before going in search of IHOP and bacon pancakes.

I was delighted to find after the torrent of tweets telling me I was odd a few people confessed the same, a snack was required upon waking to "break the fast" of the last 8 hours. A full English at a local establishment could be considered only after that, and this was no longer officially "breakfast". I am relieved not to be alone.

So all you breakfast travellers. You are weird. Yes, yes you are.

Friday, March 20, 2015

TM's Alternative Blog Awards 2015

Ooh is it award time again? I think it is. Twitter is a-twitter with people asking for you to consider voting for their blogs in the BritMums Brilliance in Blogging awards. And you know what? Being nominated is a great feeling. I can say this with experience as last year I made it to the final 6 for my nominated category – let me tell you I was thrilled. Because people reading your blog is nice, people commenting and tweeting about it is lovely but taking the time to nominate and then vote? Well that’s flipping awesome! So yes, I like blogging awards.

But (isn’t there always a but?) like other years there are those odd blogs that you love but simply can’t find a category for. In fact this year due to a lack of ‘laughter’ category many of my favourite blogs no longer seem to fit a category. Never mind, help is at hand. In the form of my - rapidly becoming a regular yearly – Alternative Blog Awards.

As in previous year the categories are … unusual. And there should be something for everyone.

These blog awards are not open to ‘professional’ blogs, so if your blog is your living, I’m afraid you are not eligible (fab though you may be). If on the other hand, you are a hobby blogger who once posted in April 2007 and then again in December 2014 then these are the awards for you!

The categories are

  • Under 16yo – Are you or do you know a blogger who is 16 or younger? This is the category for them! Let’s shout that talent!

  • Wordy Blogger – Do you waffle on? Or know someone who does. Know a blog all words and lacking in pictures? (it may use pictures – it’s just this category is about the words) Do they use 26 words when 4 would have done? Do they use the sort of colourful words that are usually deemed NSFW? Do they write about words? Do they blog about books and writers? Well then this is for that blog!

  • The ‘Unmissable’ – is there a blog that you just have to read? A blog you’ve bookmarked that you simply cannot wait to look at, a blog that keeps you checking your inbox for new posts? Nominate them in this category!

  • Blogger you’d most like to take home – this was the most popular category last year! (you weird stalkers!!) So if there is a blogger you love for all the right (or maybe wrong) reasons nominate them here. Maybe you want to feed them cake and cheer them up, maybe you think they’d make a fine drinking buddy, maybe you just fancy their beard, whatever the reason – nominate them in this category.

  • The Blogger who made me laugh til the wee ran down my leg category – is there a blog that consistently makes you snort with laughter? Maybe caused you embarrassment on a crowded train? This is the category to nominate them!

  • Blogger who hardly ever posts but when they do it’s fab (I may call this the ‘Slacker Award’ ) – I think this speaks for itself. You know a neglected blog? A blog you love and you really, really wish the writer would blog more? Nominate them here. (one rule, the blog must have been updated at least once in the last 12 months).

  • Blogger who should know better – know a blogger that drunk tweets? Someone who starts contentious blog posts? The sort of person where you start reading a post and think…”this will open a hornets’ nest” This is the category for that blog! Nominate it here.

And now the best news THIS YEAR THERE ARE PRIZES yes you read that correctly - there will be an actual prize for each category winner. The prizes are yet to be finalised and I will let you know as soon as I have the facts but I can confirm that there will be prizes from Nothing But Tea, Cherry Diva , LoveLacePaperCuts , The Tripe Marketing Board and Flamingo Gifts among others!! So get nominating! (also as in other years there will be badges for blogs etc)

First round is the nominations, then I'll whittle them down to finalists, then there will be voting. And then Prizes!! The winner in each category will be expected to posts a 'Winners speech' blog post thanking the sponsor for their prize, not difficult as the prizes will be ace!!

The Nomination form via Survey Monkey is here - I've never used this before - be gentle with me. Nominations are open until April the 1st (it seemed appropriate)

The small print - Terms and Conditions


Sunday, March 15, 2015

Petition or Pitchfork?

Online is a funny old world. Social media can often be the fastest 'news' source around and most days I am guilty of checking it before the more standard news sources. We all know by now (I hope) that just because a story is in the paper, in print, it doesn't necessarily follow that it's true. And most of us are aware that fiction can be slewed to fact and vice versa, but oddly we seem happy to trust 'real people', those faceless strangers we meet online.

Twitter is a great place and I really enjoy talking to people there. I'm opinionated (no really!) and so are many people I follow. Opinions are great but some days it seems we forget that opinions are not fact. A huge group of people seem to find that with the advent of 'instant news' via social media, that their opinion, and the facts of a matter can be just as instantly determined.

Wait for all the facts? Don't be silly, I have seen what twitter said and so now I know! In fact there was an article in the Sun/Guardian/Times/Mirror and they agree so it must be true. And  now I am sure that xxxxx is guilty. And that xxxxx is innocent and so next I shall ask, nay demand! that everyone agree with me and grab pitchforks to attack the guilty and sign a petition to protect the innocent!

This was aptly shown his week with the Jeremy Clarkson 'fracas' affair. Currently the BBC, his employer, are looking into the facts. Yet over 300,000 are so sure of his innocence that they have signed a petition while equal numbers malign him and demand his sacking. 

I wasn't there, I know this may shock you, but I don't know the details of what happened. So I will wait and see.

Petitions and pitchforks are a simple analogy for this failure to stop and think. Both have proper useful functions but either, grabbed in haste, make you look foolish when all the facts are revealed. I'd like to think that even in an instant age of fast moving social media we can still use our brains, can still stop and think before we act.

Christopher Jefferies is a man who experienced pitchforks, fuelled by media and misinformation, let us not forget him, let us not be too hasty to be sure that we are right, let us gather facts and make decisions based on them.

Instant social media interaction is fantastic fun. But it should not replace courts and juries, nor a bit of thoughtful common sense. A tweet is just a tweet, it can be a fact or not, I'm not saying you should never act on a tweet, I'm saying you need to use some thought, check, check other sources, don't grab the proverbial pitchfork or sign anything until you are sure, and even then ask yourself is this the best course of action? Don't fall into the 'outrage trap' that can blur a true view of things in its red mist.

The one thing that social media can be great for is asking, asking the questions, keeping a story in the public eye. Never feel you need to keep silent about an important issue. Shouting at those in power, demanding answers can be a vital role of the general public, we have power in our numbers.  Do you have all the facts? If you don't have all the facts, demand them.

But put down your pitchfork, close that online petition page, think about why you have decided your course of action.

Art by DD and me ...she did the angel and devil