Sunday, April 24, 2005

Perseverance Pays Off!

I posted the other day about my ongoing mobile phone theft/loss saga. My insurance claim was rejected, I appealed and they have accepted my appeal! So, I should get my new phone early this week. I am sure lots of people get their claim rejected and just accept it. Lesson for today - Perseverance Pays Off!!

Wednesday, April 20, 2005

Your Japanese Name Is...Shuichi Kimura

Another of those useless name generators - when I should be really clearing my mailbox of the 105 emails. Loved the graphic though, so posted anyway. According to Google, Shuichi Kimura is also a professor at Showa Women's University, vice president (car carrier services) for K-Line, ex-executive vice president of Nippon Steel Corporation and a the holder of a failed patent application for a surgical device for stapling and/or fastening body tissues!

Blogthings - Your Japanese Name Is...: "



Your Japanese Name Is...









Shuichi Kimura



Tuesday, April 19, 2005

Phone theft

I posted the other day about my mobile phone being stolen. I was in a local bar, which was crowded pre-match, (Newcastle vs. Sporting), the bar is only a stones throw from St James’ Park, so many people had popped in for a drink before heading to the ground.

I realised after most people had left that my phone wasn’t in my jacket. I may have lost it on the walk down, but assumed someone had lifted it. I phoned Vodafone to cancel the SIM card and also blocked the handset, so if anyone did have it both the SIM and the phone would be useless. The next day I reported it to the police in line with my insurance policy. I completed the claim form and spoke to a number of very helpful advisors who clarified certain bits of information.

In the meantime, Vodafone said they would send me a new SIM card registered to my old number, which I could use in a previous handset. This would be sent first class mail and with me on 11th April. On the 12th, I rang to query the SIM card and they said it would be there by 15th. On the 16th I rang and they said they had no record of it being ordered. Needless to say I was frustrated and told them so. It turns out I could go to a Vodafone shop and they would give me one for £15. So I did, and managed to get them not to charge me. So far, so good.

Now I have received a letter from the insurance company saying they have rejected my claim, as it is likely that the phone was stolen on licensed premises. Apparently, my policy doesn’t cover me for theft or loss from licensed premises unless force is used. What?!! It appears I am only covered when I am sat on my sofa, with all the doors locked and the phone nailed to my hand. I have appealed against this, as there is no proof it was stolen in the bar and I could have simply lost it on route.

I have been paying for this insurance at £7 a month for about 2 years. This was on the advice of Vodafone who said I would be liable for replacing the phone, and any remaining monthly payments. I thought I was buying a comprehensive policy, but apparently not. I would have been better putting £7 a month into a savings account and buying a new handset directly.

If I don’t get any joy with the appeal I will be taking this further!

Monday, April 18, 2005

How Should I vote?

Thanks to Razorhead for pointing me towards this site. The site analyses your views on a range of issue: taxation, health, education etc and assesses how the main parties policies match these. I was surprised that the Green Party is most aligned with my views. Happily, the Tories and UKIP are not recommended choices for me.

I am still a member of the Labour party and while not happy with everything the party has done I have seen progress on social issues (e.g. Sure Start, minimum wage etc), gay rights (repeal Section 28, Civil Partnerships, anti-discriminatory policies), and unprecedented investment in the NHS (with real reductions in waiting list sizes and waiting times and more investment in mental health services.) Of course, there is still Iraq and the buddying up with President Bush, but none of the other parties seem like a viable opposition at the moment.

Who should I vote for?

Your expected outcome:

Labour

Your actual outcome:



Labour 6
Conservative -23
Liberal Democrat 36
UK Independence Party -9
Green 46


You should vote: Green

The Green Party, which is of course strong on environmental issues, takes a strong position on welfare issues, but was firmly against the war in Iraq. Other key concerns are cannabis, where the party takes a liberal line, and foxhunting, which unsurprisingly the Greens are firmly against.

Take the test at Who Should You Vote For

Friday, April 15, 2005

Nancy Sinatra

Last night we went to see Nancy Sinatra at the Sage Gateshead. It was a great show, she played a mix of old hits including Boots, Bang Bang, You Only Live Twice and some tracks form her new album (part written by Morrissey, Jarvis Cocker and Bono). She looked like my mum after a couple of sherries had given her the courage to hit the karaoke machine. There was no diva behaviour, she came into the audience for a couple of songs and bantered between songs in a scatty and endearing manner.



The audience ranged from young (well – my age) to little old ladies. It was a fairly sedate audience with no dancing, underwear throwing or screaming, but plenty or respectful clapping. I thoroughly enjoyed it!

If you haven’t heard her new album, it is well worth a listen. I particularly, like “Let Me Kiss You”, written by Morrissey, and also on his album. She described Morrissey as her mentor and said he had picked out her outfit for the concert. He seems to have been responsible for bringing her to a new audience, much as he previously did with Sandie Shaw.



Nancy is touring Europe at the moment, and I know not all of the gigs are sold out. So, if you get the chance I would recommend you go and see her.

Thursday, April 14, 2005

Reminiscing

I was flicking through Attitude magazine the other day and thinking in my 33-years-old way, that young gay men have never had it so good. I don’t begrudge them this at all and I don’t think it is all rosy, especially if you live outside of a major city. However, things are better than when I was young and thinking that I might be gay.

I was a bit of a late developer. I didn’t have my first gay experience until I was 17, a year before I had sex with a woman. I know loads of men who seemed to have been ‘fooling around’ with the friends while they were still at school, and my boyfriend was definitely an early starter.

One memory always sticks in my mind. I had one ‘special’ friend called Sean. We used to hang out all the time, we had our first pint together, our first spliff and would talk about the girls we had crushes on. One night (we were probably 15) we had been into town for a few pints and were walking home through the local playing fields. As we dawdled along Sean asked me, “What would you say if I told you I loved you?” Fearing he may ‘be on to me’ and wanting to maintain that adolescent swagger I replied, “I’d tell you I love you to – like a brother.” We had a drunken hug and carried on home. I have thought many times about that moment. What I wanted to say was, “Lets jump over this hedge, get our dicks out and have some fun.” In fact, this was standard fantasy material for many years. I saw him a few years ago, fat, bearded and with 3 kids – looking tired and harassed – no longer the fantasy that I remembered. I often wonder how things would have been different if we had got it on. I don’t expect we would still be together now living a wonderful life, but how would it have changed my life?

Tuesday, April 12, 2005

Thin Edge of the Wedge

I have always had a lot of time for Peter Tatchell. He has long been a lone voice advocating for human rights and has been prepared to stand up and be counted when the establishment prefers a quiet and diplomatic approach. I think there is room for both approaches, but he often seen as a member of the ‘Looney Left’ by the more right wing press.



He has been particularly vocal about the human rights record of Zimbabwe’s President, Robert Mugabe and the apparent willingness by American and European governments to let him travel unchallenged.
It appears he was detained by police over the weekend, after protesting for same-sex marriage rights at the wedding of Prince Charles and Camilla Parker-Bowles. Apparently, Tatchell was protesting at the Windsor event, arguing that same-sex couples should be given access to full marriage.
Tatchell and his Outrage! group have argued that the civil partnerships to be introduced this year, which have the broad support of the gay community, create a "second-class citizen" structure.
Tatchell said. Charles and Camilla can marry twice; gays can't marry once. We want gay couples to have the right to marry too. The government ban on same-sex marriage is discrimination and is illegal under the Human Rights Act."
Outrage! member Brett Lock, who was also detained with Tatchell under the Terrorism Act, said "The new same-sex civil partnerships law is not legal equality," he claimed. "It enshrines and perpetuates homophobic discrimination. We want marriage law opened up to gay couples."
I do support the civil partnerships bill. I have never wanted parity with a religious marriage ceremony. I can see the viewpoint of Tatchell and others, who do, but for me the important point was the legal recognition of partnerships with the rights associated with pensions, tenancies, next-of-kin, etc. Having seen the right-wing reactions in the US, I think we have pursused this the right way here.

What amazes me more is that Tatchell was detained under the section 44 of the Terrorism Act (essentially the ‘Stop and Search’ powers). To me, this is another example how rushed-through legislation can be used to endorse an erosion of civil liberties that the majority of people would abhor. I am horrified to think that protesting, whether you agree or not, can be treated in this way. For example, I wouldn’t ant to see anti-abortion protesters hijacking events or protesting outside hospitals, but I wouldn’t support them being detained under the terrorism Act. Another example of the thin edge of the wedge.

Thursday, April 07, 2005

V3

To the fucker who stole my mobile tonight - I have already cancelled both the SIM card and the handset. Here's hoping that karma rocks and you get your comeuppance.

Tuesday, April 05, 2005

Introducing the Professor

When we moved into our house, nearly two years ago, we didn’t really have an idea how we wanted to decorate it. We had limited money and time and we were just happy to be there. Over the last 12 months we have made some changes: new furniture, painting, lighting etc. It is slowly coming together and the kitchen is being fitted at the end of April. This will mean that downstairs is almost done. Our bedroom is nearly there and that just leaves the bathroom and the spare bedroom.

The spare bedroom is used for guests and storing some of our clothes. Ultimately it needs re-plastering, additional power points and repainting. But we can neither afford the time nor the money at the moment. Having said that it needs to look presentable for guests and as we have unpacked the boxes in the attic little items keep making there way there. It started off as a vaguely French cottage theme, before moving onto a National Trust type Wordsworthian (is that a word?) theme.

Finally, the Professor took over. The Professor has many interests and never completes an experiment before his interest is sparked by something else. To date the Professor has been examining ways to increase the narcotic effects of coffee, hence his laboratory equipment and coffee samples.



He used to be a keen naturalist (and naturist come to think of it) and still keeps a couple of old and dusty butterflies mounted on the wall. My boyfriend is not too keen on them, but the Professor just shrugs and ignores him. Forever fickle, he has now become interested in old wooden carvings. I noticed he had purloined a carved wooden chest from the attic and has moved into to the bureau. I daren’t look inside as I am sure it contains some strange, esoteric experiment. Just this morning, I realised he had also added two wooden carvings we picked up in Cuba.

Having said that, the Professor is no bother. Days go by without hearing a peep out of him and as long as he helps an organic theme to develop he is a welcome guest.

Gay people more likely to read blogs

Well we knew it already didn't we? Blogs allow access to news, opinion and information that is not always covered by the mainstream media. As well as allowing debate on political issues that are then picked up by the mainstream media, I think that blogs provide a good way for the gay community to highlight issues of interest to them.

Now a survey undertaken by market research and consulting firms Harris Interactive and Witeck-Combs Communications, shows that blog consumption habits of gay, lesbian and bisexual (GLB) adults differ from those of their heterosexual counterparts. The survey was based on US blogs, and found that gay people read blogs more often than their non-gay counterparts, with 27% of GLB adults frequently or occasionally seek out blogs versus 18% of heterosexual adults, and only 44% of GLB adults stating that they never read blogs as compared to 59% of heterosexual adults.

The report concludes “Whether the results have any great consequence in the great scheme of things is yet to be seen, but the statistics should provide some solace to bloggers who actively target the GLB market.”??!!? Not sure that I was actually seeking solace, but ther you go!

Interestingly, there were discernable differences in the percentages reading magazines split by genre -e.g. sports, interiors, travel, fashion etc. Read more about the survey here.

Friday, April 01, 2005

Google Gulp

My boyfirend has been off work all this week so he has been having a sleep in while I get ready for work. This morning I don't think he was too happy when I announced that it had snowed overnight. He said he thought it was brighter than normal, when I revealed my ever so subtle April Fool's trick!



Google seem to have got in on the act with their new range of smart drinks - "Google Gulp (BETA)™ with Auto-Drink™ (LIMITED RELEASE), a line of smart drinks designed to maximize your surfing efficiency by making you more intelligent, and less thirsty." A small DNA scanner in the bottle cap scans your brian to ehnace the way you process information.



The blurb tells you how: "...through our patented real-time DNA-scanning process, Auto-Drink™, Google Gulp is actually able to "take a picture" of your genetic profile, reconfigure its molecular composition on the fly, and subtly alter your brain's intricate mosaic of axonial patterns in order to facilitate even faster cognitive processing."

I am sure that shops across the land will have been inundated with requests for Google Gulp.