Monthly Archives: November 2015

What a difference a year makes

lonely_shinjiA year ago I was at my lowest ebb, mentally and physically sick, thanks initially to that terrible 24/7 shift job that I regretted taking on (and which still haunts me sometimes), and subsequently to losing my job and having to face unemployment in the run-up to Christmas.

Indeed, a year ago today I heard Chris Evans on his breakfast radio show point out that it was exactly a month until Christmas, and realised that even if I got a job soon, it’d be just in time for the holidays, so I’d have barely any time there at all!

Add to this severe problems with phone reception here in Finchley, meaning I had to put my phone by my window and call recruiters using Bluetooth headphones, and the scary prospect of being on unemployment benefit, something my landlady really didn’t want, combined with having to spend all day at home, struggling to keep the place warm while knowing how much it would add to our fuel bills… all the things I enjoyed (such as video games, TV shows and, yes, the music of Gwar) ceased to raise my spirits, I developed a pathological hatred of Christmas advertising (why should they be happy when I can’t even afford to get my folks presents?), and the darkening nights grew ever more horrible…

ss_ffBut now here I am a year later, having come through that bad time and, after doing a half-decent job for six months, finally working in IT support, my one true calling.  I’m planning a blog entry detailing my average day at work, so you can see just how I seem to turn everything to my advantage these days (even my morning commute), so I won’t go on at length here; suffice to say I feel useful and appreciated.  I’ve got my best friend living with me now (after he helped me stay sane during December), and he wants the house to be warm as well, so we actually have the heating on in the evenings, and my mobile network got their s*** together and, apart from a couple of bad days, now allow me to receive text messages no matter where I leave my phone!

And, best of all, I may actually have enough money to get my folks Christmas presents this year — not perhaps a whole computer system like I got Mumsy in 2012, but certainly something nice like face cream.  Indeed, I’d better see if there’s a restaurant at which I can treat them to dinner on Saturday, something I’d originally promised to do at the start of this year when I got a job…

The only cause I have for concern right now (aside from World War III, and the Chancellor undoubtedly hiding a dagger somewhere in the Budget) is that I didn’t tell DWP about going permanent at my job, and since I had my last weekly contractor pay in the first week of this month and am not receiving my first monthly salary until the last Friday of the month, they may well have assumed I’m unemployed again, hence why they seem to have paid me over £300 in Universal Credit.  I’d tried calling them earlier in the month, only to get a snotty recorded message effectively saying “don’t call us, we’ll call you”, and so I assumed I simply wasn’t getting any UC any more… should I call them to explain the situation, or should I take the money and run?  Can I avoid the taxman if I put it in a Swiss bank account, or is that only for rich people?

The enemies within

They got money for wars, but can’t feed the poor.
—2Pac, “Keep Ya Head Up” (Strictly 4 My N.I.G.G.A.Z.)

wtc

This terrible attack in 2001 resulted in mass surveillance of innocent people and anti-Muslim sentiment… plus ca change?

Just when I finally seem to be getting my life together, doing a job I enjoy and feeling happy with how, the world seems to be going to Hell in a handbasket.

Yes, I am of course on about the Islamic State attacking innocent people in Paris last week (not to mention Beirut, Mali, the Russian plane etc. etc.), but I’m more concerned with the inevitable backlash against, er, well, pretty much all brown people, by the looks of it.  I know, I had my own anxiety on the subject earlier this year, but remember that (a) I knew it wasn’t related to terrorism at all, and (b) I came to the conclusion that I’m actually sexist rather than racist, in that I can’t stand most blokes of any ethnicity!

I don’t believe Islamic State represent anyone except themselves.  They’re not making the world a better place, they’re not liberating oppressed peoples or fighting “the man”, they’re just creating chaos and destruction in the hope of turning the other races of the world against Muslims, in order to drive more people into their arms so they can brainwash them into becoming killers — and, of course, get funding, which they certainly don’t spend on feeding the poor.  They have no redeeming qualities and, much like al-Qaeda in 2001, I would see the lot of them burn in Hell — but I fear for the innocent people who will undoubtedly get caught in the crossfire, and their kin in Western countries who seem to get blamed for the actions of this minority.

You may have heard the news that potential US Presidential candidate Donald Trump wants all Muslims to be registered (you know, like convicted sex offenders), though it’s unclear how he’ll differentiate between Muslims who haven’t got ID cards, and people who “look” Islamic but aren’t (such as Hindus, Sikhs, people from Asia who don’t follow any religion…).  Perhaps he’ll tell them they need to carry “not a Muslim” ID cards as well?  And the really depressing thought is that plenty of people in America would vote for him if he became a Presidential candidate, and some of them because of this insanity!

I truly despise the kind of commentators calling for refugees to be sent home (seeing as they were actually fleeing Islamic State, it’s like sending Jews back to Nazi Germany as some idiotic form of retribution for the Blitz), but that sort of brain-dead thug has been around for years anyway.  I remember the feckless EDL member in this clip from Russell Howard’s Good News, who seems to think “Muslamic” is a word, and I’d much rather see him kicked out the country, since he has absolutely no value whatsoever as a human being, and is nothing but an irredeemable parasite in our society.

(Oh, I’d love it if he’s reading this and wants to start a fight — bring it on, you alcoholic bully, I’ll knock out both of your remaining teeth!)

And, of course, there’s the blanket surveillance of everyone’s e-mails and Internet browsing habits, which the UK government was already trying to force through even before the Paris attacks (and indeed, they were already planning to increase funding and employment in the secret service).  Since the Paris attackers were already known, and there was simply no will to stop them, I believe that Big Brother-style spying on the entire populace will do nothing to prevent terrorism… but then, I doubt it’s why they want to bring it in anyway.

Let me put it this way: you don’t find a needle in a haystack by adding more hay; you just have a much, much harder job finding the needle.  And to justify the expense of increasing the amount of hay, you end up having to, shall we say, broaden your definition of a “needle”, or try to work out which pieces of hay might potentially become needles.  To further clarify: I know I am not a terrorist, so if the government spies on me, at best they’re wasting resources (which could mean a real terrorist slips through the net), and at worst they’ll find some other pretext to feel my collar.  Indeed, as a famous Frenchman once noted:

“If you give me six lines written by the hand of the most honest of men, I will find something in them which will hang him.”

 

Of course, with the current government’s determination that the poorest in society should face the brunt of the “austerity” cuts, food banks, unemployment (and sanctions), cutting of local government services (even in Cameron’s own constituency, shock horror!), fuel poverty (with blackouts on the horizon) and homelessness while at the same time mysteriously finding a few extra billions to spend on another war, and continuing to feather their own nests, I wonder if we’re building towards the British equivalent of the French Revolution.  Perhaps this is precisely what Cameron’s cabinet are really afraid of, rather than a bunch of brainwashed faux-Muslims (who would only endanger the peasantry anyway).  I reckon they want us to be afraid — initially of terrorism for as long as it takes for us to allow these new laws to be brought in, and then of them, the future being their smart shoes stamping on our faces forever.

It actually seems like Islamic State and our increasingly-puritanical government are cut from the same cloth: they both want to control and dominate us, taking away anything that gives us pleasure and making us feel worthless, and that they do so entirely for their own ends, not because they think it’ll make our lives better to be micromanaged and punished for the slightest infraction.

So yes, I hate Islamic State… but I also hate the Conservative government.  But which is more likely to kill ordinary people in this country?  There’s only one way to find out…

Harry Hill Fight

Yes, I’d much rather see the Islamic militants fighting our government directly in a battle royal, while the ordinary people of the Middle East and the West get on with our lives peacefully… it’d save having to build a B-Ark in order to send the whole damn lot of them into space!

Still a lot of work to do

It is the struggle itself that is most important.  We must strive to be more than we are.  It does not matter that we will never reach our ultimate goal; the effort yields its own rewards.
—Mr. Data, Star Trek: The Next Generation (S3E16, “Offspring”)

sisyphusI know I don’t write in this blog much these days, but don’t worry, I haven’t finished sorting out my life yet, and still have advice to give that might just help people out there who are going through their own stuff.Although my life is considerably better than it was this time last year, and I’m working in a job not only better than the shift-based one but far more in line with my skills than Camden admin, I can still face hardships and need to find ways to overcome them.  Today certainly brought that home: I may be in my job permanently now (and I’ve already lasted longer than the last two guys combined, which is to say, longer than two months and three days!), but I’ve still got a lot to learn, especially when it comes to the noble art of lying to staff.  What I’ve learned during a very busy day as an IT support technician:

      Never admit you don’t know who the boss is — simply say “I’ve not had the pleasure of his/her acquaintance yet”, rather than “who’s that?”

 

    Don’t admit to serious problems with the hardware your team has purchased — instead tacitly acknowledge that there are teething problems that will be resolvedDon’t leave tickets in the general queue for “anyone” to pick up if it’s your job to assign them — if necessary, nag whoever’s in to give you some guidanceKeep notes in the tickets, even notes that only you and the team can see, just so you know what you’ve done or discussed so farSome users are convinced they know what the problem is, and even gently explaining that, for example, computer memory doesn’t cause Citrix connection issues won’t change their mindsIf a big-screen HDTV isn’t showing images from a laptop, or error messages, or even on-screen notifications such as the channel number, it’s fine to use a VGA projector instead and put the TV away — perhaps there’s a lesson in there for us all about over-reliance on complicated technology…

As you can tell, I’ve got a way to go, though my colleagues certainly like me and want me to succeed in this role; I’m not hanging by a thread, I’m getting my rough edges sandpapered off, and building on a solid foundation (not to mention badly mixing my metaphors).  I might need to start taking St. John’s wort again in limited doses, just to provide a small emotional boost to cope with days like today (especially at this time of year, as the nights draw in), but I hope not, as it tends to make me a bit nauseous.  I’m already managing so well without it, it’d be a shame to take a step backwards — though even today wasn’t anywhere near as bad as some of the days I’ve had this year, and it’s clear my anxiety is 99% situational!

It seems I’ve also got a lot of work to do when it comes to getting a girlfriend… aw, hey, you didn’t think I’d stop talking about that aspect of my life, did you?  I just have to hope that women will be impressed when they see how much happier I am in my life nowadays (despite all the work I’ve got to do), and that this will serve to lure them in, where my previous life as an admin boy didn’t.  I do acknowledge that my biggest problem is meeting women I actually want to be with: I’ve had plenty of dates since mid-2013, but too many times I’ve been a bit relieved when nothing more came of it.  I guess the real lesson to learn is not to come on too strong on the rare occasions I really do find someone “right” for me, as happened all too recently (not quite on the anniversary of that day, but close enough).

At the risk of sounding clichéd: life’s a journey, and you’ve shared part of my journey with me over the past three years.  I’d like to think I’m close to my destination, but really, there’s no such thing as a happy ending because nothing ever ends… suffice to say, as per my original pledge, this blog will go on as long as it needs to, even if I never truly overcome depression or find love, because the journey’s as important as the destination!