Wednesday, August 31, 2005

Be-calmed and Be-plexed

Some days I make this ‘betwixt and between’ thing work. I duck and I dive and I shuttle between identities so that the different parts of my life weave together into a life-enhancing fabric. On those days I am ever-so-post-modern slash man (dad/artist/aka-de-mic/smug middle class project man). Not so today!

Today I am conflicted. I find myself in a situation that many women across the globe will recognize as their lot. I am without childcare on a work day.

This is nobody's fault (except possibly mine) but it still means that I am juggling.

I have faced this situation in the past of course. For example, I once took part in an interminable online conference call while simultaneously drawing rabbits (endless rabbits). Similarly, I often used to read Bakhtin while balancing a sleeping baby on my chest. However, things have got a lot more lively since those long off days. Now I have to be in-house entertainment system, home educator, chef and clown. I can not do these things and work at the same time.

Fortunately, I was not planning to be working for trAce today. Equally fortunately, I am self-employed for half of my life so that I will not get a bollocking from an unsympathetic boss for being one nanosecond late. Perhaps less fortunately, I don’t earn when I don’t do. I have commitments and I have deadlines…and some of them are getting quite tight. This means that I feel stressed when I don’t do!

But let’s put this all in context. The sun is shining. My little one is only going to be this age once. I refuse to put on a video. I refuse to shun her in favour of the PC. Similarly, I have stopped myself putting on my expeditors head and ringing around the neighbours. I am not looking for warehousing for my wee one. I have told myself be brave and take a chance. Spend some time with her. Spend some quality time with her. No laptop. No phone. No pager. They are just not necessary. I tell myself it will not be long before you crave for this kind of opportunity.

Wednesday, August 24, 2005

Water, water everywhere...!

I must confess that I am not always best pleased when it rains in August. August is the picnic season. The holiday season. The laying in the park season. August is cricket... and it should only rain on the days when England are in trouble. Today, however, was something of an exception!

The day began badly with a cold and powerless shower at my B and B. Followed by no water in the tap for an earlier morning cuppa.

Grounds for ligitation?
Time for tears?

Well not exactly, as I needed to wake up anyway and it was not the fault of the good folks at the Yew Tree. The main had burst up on Clifton Lane and there was NO WATER. No water in the pipe that is..there was plenty falling from the sky as I walked work!

The day appeared to be taking a turn for the worse when I realized that there was no water at the trAce offices either. No tea or coffee, drinks of toilet! However, as I mentioned earlier, it has been raining. Infact, it has been persisting and many a drip has been plopping from the roof and gutters of P block onto the patch of path outside the offices.

Time for some lateral thinking!

With a bin, a washing up bowl and a good eye for where the drips were dropping it was possible to collect enough water to fill up the toilet cistern (and keep some basic biological amenities). It was really quite enjoyable to stand in the rain and catch free water from the sky. It was quite pleasing to salute the other enterprising souls who had had the same idea.

Later on the Uni system kicked in. The university team arranged for portable chemical toilets to be delivered. Bottled water was piled up outside the main building. It was quite impressive really.... a bit of stiff upper lip and planning. The ladies in the canteen radiated a sense of pride as they served a hot lunch ("...nothing steamed or boiled of course love...").

It is sad to say but I really felt part of something today.

Let's hear it for the good old English crisis!

Monday, August 22, 2005

I have just discovered something rather pleasent about blogs

In my last posting I had complained bitterly that I had received a spam posting to my blog. This spam posting had rather narked me at the time (mainly because I had got, rather naively, excited about receiving a comment – How sweet!). However, there is a silver lining to this tale of ‘one cyber-ostrich and a spam post’ because my anguished cry brought me a swiftly despatched angel from the blogosphere (in the form of the digital sextant) who put me on to a number of good sites that address these issues. In hindsight I can see that blog spam is a rather inevitable development as it allows the spammer to manipulate a number of search engines that use the number of links to a particular page to rate sites. This kind of spam is a very crude mechanism to get them some attention!However, having said that I see it as being inevitable I don’t condone the action of these spammers. Far from it, I see their actions as being the digital equivalent of an insecure child that wrecks a creative session by constantly wanting the leader’s attention. Time to grow up chaps…and find a mature way of getting attention to your company’s site (for example – you might try producing a product and service that actually performs a useful purpose).

Saturday, August 20, 2005

Spam... to a Blog?

I have just happened across an unwelcome development in the blogosphere as I appear to have received a piece of spam to my blog! It has been posted as a comment to my last posting from 1st August. Not only does this message have nothing to do with my posting...but it is long! Very long!

Is this the beginning of the end for the blogger dream?

It was bad enough when unwanted spam popped up in my e-mail account. I use to receive hundreds of e-mails a day promising me ridiculous financial opportunities and a larger and more impressive member. I once worked out that if I took up all the opportunities presented by these spammers then I would have a wallet slightly larger than Mars and a penis that would reach to the sun. Fortunately, I then discovered reality and the spam-blocker, and the war for control of my inbox has swung back in my favour.

I am going to leave this spam posting up for awhile...just until I figure out what to do about it. It is a little bit like having an advertisement break in the middle of my feels intrusive.

Should I turn off all comments? Should I stop posting to my blog? I must say that this feels like a bad development!

Monday, August 01, 2005

Working for trAce - the Blogger's dilemma

You might be wonder at the long gap between posts. Well I have a new job at the trAce Online Writing Centre. This job is certainly keeping me busy but it is also presenting me with a number of blogging issues - namely - What should I blog? What should I keep quiet about?

There are many things that happen in this job which are interesting but they tend to be in the public domain anyway. There are many things in this job that are utterly dull and not worth writing about. The juicy stuff comes from the personal observations (which I think are the life-blood of a good blog). However, I feel that I can't put these observations into the public domain because at the moment they will impact on the project I am currently working on.

I am torn between expression and earning a living!

These kinds of challenges are not new to the blogosphere, of course. Heather Armstrong at Dooce got sacked for making personal comments about her work place ( adding the verb to be 'Dooced' to the bloggers lexicon). It is, however, an interesting challenge for the advocates of free speech. The Electronic Freedom Foundation )( those oh-so-wacky freedom kids) have quite a bit to say on the subject. On their EFF: Fighting for Bloggers' Rights page they have all sorts of useful hints...Including the very obvious point that:-

anyone can eventually find your blog if your real identity is tied to it in some way. And there may be consequences.

They suggest that one should try and blog anonymously. I blew that option right out of the water from the start as I have my name to be attached this blog. They then recognize that certain subjects are protected. If you are a US blogger you might like to know that you can make a case for discussing - Political Opinions - Unionising - Whistleblowing - Reporting on Your Work for the Government
and - Legal Off-Duty Activities.

The EFF approach tends to suggest that it is ones employer that a blogger should worry about. I also worry about my fellow employees and contractors and sub-contractors. I care what my family and friends think of me.

The deal that I have struck with myself is that I will eventually blog things that I think are newsworthy. I will hold them back (if necessary) to ensure that they do not cause too much trouble.

I really do not have an urge to name and shame the people I work with. Similarly, I do not have an urge to out myself as a couch potato ( oops!). Somethings can stay private!

Does this make me a woose?

Am I a bad blogger?