Archive for AFK

The meaning of life

Not a wren. Today.In a world where we struggle with the big questions, I have at last discovered the meaning of life. For wrens.

As a colour blind and self avowed bad birdwatcher, wrens have always held a special interest for me. As a tiny, tree coloured bird that lives in trees around lots of other trees, they have their own particular difficulties for me to spot. They may be one of the most populous birds in the country, but to me they may as well be invisible, seen but not heard.

After extensive research on this topic I have discovered the meaning of life for the wren. It exists and finds its fulfillment in the following step by step.

1. Wait for me to arriving hopefully, clutching my binoculars.
2. Make a noise, or better still fly tantalisingly close enough for me to know that a wren is about.
3. Stay completely still as I bring my binoculars up, release I’ve got them in the wrong spot, lower them, check, realise I had them in the right place all along but the bird is so damn small and tree coloured that I didn’t spot it in the binoculars first time, bring the binoculars up again and settle them on the fuzzy dot.
4. Make little movements while I frantically try to track the wren and focus at the same time.
5. Stop, just as I get it perfectly in focus.
6. Wait a nanosecond and fly away.

Once is a pain. Twice is frustrating. 6 times in half an hour is vindication for my theory. The meaning of life for wrens is to wind me up. As proof of this problem I present my latest photo of a wren not there, taken this morning. It makes me grateful for blue tits.

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Weeds or flowers?

grass vergeSpring has sprung. The roadside verges have become a riot of colour (even to one as colour blind as me) that I can’t help responding to with a smile. The vivid yellows of the dandelions and the hawkweed, the cheery white carpets of daisies, the gentle creams of clover, all set against the lush green of fresh spring grass. I see them and smile and it lifts the spirits.

To a gardener they’re weeds of course, a pest, a negative presence to be removed. How can something that looks so bright and cheery and colourful be a negative, it doesn’t make sense. Its all a matter of perspective. Perhaps any flower, any beautiful joyous little creation becomes a weed when it appears in the wrong place.

So I wondered, if its about perspective, does this just apply to things horticultural, or is it bigger? How often, I wonder, do we fail to see a beautiful flower in our lives because of our fixed perspectives, and hurry to declare it a weed? Maybe the problem doesn’t lie with the daisy, which when you look at it, really look at it, is a delicate and beautiful flower, but with the person looking at it. Its a daisy, its commonplace, there’s nothing special about it, its even an annoyance as we try to create a perfectly manicured lawn of a life. Then again, maybe a daisy is an invitation to look closely, to celebrate and embrace difference, to remember that the lawn will never be perfectly manicured and it just might be better because of that.

Go on, have a look at a daisy. Or a dandelion. You might just find that weed is a beautiful flower.

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Branded

The dictionary.com first definition of branded – 1.marked with a branding iron to show ownership: branded cattle.

We, who are so addicted to brands, using them as parts of our identity, to define ourselves, to give ourselves a sense of value, are apparently branded cattle. Willing to pay well over the actual value of items to obtain a particular brand, you are apparently marked with a branding iron to show ownership.

Ah ha! You are owned by your items, marked by them to show ownership! Look how I scoff at you, as I sit here writing this post, safe from the insidious effects of brand obsession, wearing my Tilley hat, my Scott eVest, my Birkenstock sandals, my……

Oh.

Bugger.

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Slightly surreal Starbucks

Unlike many coffee shop afficianados I don’t have a big problem with Starbucks. In the land of the cheap caff, the one place to get a vaguely decent coffee is king and all that. I’m not about to bemoan the complete lack of independent coffee shops near me though (well, at least not right now anyway). As long as Starbucks maintains their fair trade alternative I’ll shop there, until something better comes along.

Some visits to Starbucks are more memorable than others. The one when they’d completely run out of Rocky Road definitely sticks in my mind as a bad one for example. I don’t think I’m going to forget today’s in rush though.

It boded well from the off. Not only were they actually promoting their fair trade coffee (bit of a shocker I know) but they were even giving away free samples of it. Wonder what the Starbucks project websites would make of that?

One of the attractive things about Starbucks (admittedly this isn’t restricted to just Starbucks but to coffee shops in general) is the range of people they attract. They’re a real microcosm of society. Right now I’m sat between an old married couple (doing the traditional old married couple behaviour of not talking to each other) and a heavily pierced goth. Just across from me is a Moleskine writing, Razr toting fashionista. Sharing the table with me are 2 of the most competitive and self obsessed sloaney ladies who lunch that I’ve ever eavesdropped on (this conversation was brought to you by the expression “Yes, its the most expensive one they do.”). Then, of course, there’s me, sitting here blogging. Bizzarely all these very different types of people feel at home here. What’s that about then? The coffee shop world is truly surreal.

I’m settled in for the afternoon to catch up on some writing, while others come and go. Queing for another coffee I realise I’m standing next to Blackburn manager Mark Hughes, who is complaining at the size of his take out being too big. As the Barista said, its not like you can’t afford it Mark and you don’t have to drink it all anyway. Perhaps he’s not read all the blogs posting about the arcane secrets of the Starbucks short coffee. What’s he doing here and not on the training ground anyway?

The shop begins to empty, meaning that anyone new comes in has a too much choice dilemma. No, not what to drink, but where to sit. 2 bag laden shoppers play musical tables before finally settling on their choice.

The sloane rangers get up to leave. One asks me if I’m writing a book. Not having the balls to say to them “No, I’m bitching about your conversation” I say instead “No, I’m blogging”. I can’t work out whether or not she is disappointed or confused. Blogging may be important (to other bloggers at least) but it doesn’t seem to have infiltrated their world yet.

There’s always a story at Starbucks. You’ve just got to be prepared for it to be a slightly surreal one. Just like reality I suppose.

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But I wanna go….

I’m a bit of a coffee shop junkie. When I say a bit, I mean a lot. And I’m always on the lookout for that perfect one to be “my” coffee shop.

I was very excited to find this coffee shop recently then Cafeggio Coffee. It had it all, practically everything I’d imagined my perfect coffee shop to have. Great coffee was a must obviously, but there had to be cakes and proper food to facilitate a really long stay. To have a really long stay there’s got to be long opening hours too (which you don’t get in my neck of the woods). All looking good for Cafeggio so far.

Free wifi is just a pipe dream round my way, but not at Cafeggio. How about comfy chairs for when you want to sit and read, but chairs and tables for when you want to work? Yep. Regular live music? That too. It’s got to be said, Cafeggio has got everything. There’s just one problem.  It’s in Texas and, quite frankly, I’m not. I’m not even in the USA. I think I’m going to have to keep looking for my coffee shop.

Hey, at least its fun looking!

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Busy doing nothing

We’re busy doing nothing, working all day through,

we’re trying to find lots of things not to do.

We’re busy going nowhere, isn’t it such a crime ?
we’d like to be unhappy but we never do have the time.

A fine song lyric, summing up my Christmas break so far. Very little computer, a whole lot of reading. Got to make the most of these times while you can, it won’t be long before the real world will push back in.

Leave a Comment

Busy doing nothing

We’re busy doing nothing, working all day through,

we’re trying to find lots of things not to do.

We’re busy going nowhere, isn’t it such a crime ?
we’d like to be unhappy but we never do have the time.

A fine song lyric, summing up my Christmas break so far. Very little computer, a whole lot of reading. Got to make the most of these times while you can, it won’t be long before the real world will push back in.

Leave a Comment

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