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Thursday, January 30, 2014

Decisions



Oh decisions, decisions.

I have been deliberating whether to go out on Friday night for some time.  I am still deliberating.

If I go that will mean I probably have a budget of £100.00 for the whole of February, after rent, bills and food.  Not ideal.

But there is a good DJ playing in Richy Ahmed, a really good DJ in fact (don’t let the Hot Creations tag fool you, he is more interesting and more underground than that).  I haven’t been to Cubed for ages, the guys who run it are sound – and it is my last possible night out before February Detox begins.

Right now, all I feel like is staying in and having a pint of gravy!  Catching up with ironing and stuff on Saturday.  Oh I don’t know what to do!

I want to go but I know I shouldn't.

But I could be missing out on an amazing night out.  I may just toss a coin.

Sunday I don’t have to make any such decisions as it is a continuation of my birthday celebrations (I do like to drag these things out as much as possible).  I am meeting my sister in London and she has booked somewhere for a roast dinner.  I have no idea where and I am really looking forward to it.

She does have a huge challenge to beat my gastronomic treat for her birthday back in September when I took her to Poppies Fish & Chip Restaurant, which won the 2014 Independent Fish and Chip Restaurant of the Year award recently.

Monday, January 27, 2014

And Today's Forecast Is...Embarrassing

I take every opportunity possible to ridicule the Daily Express for their sensationalist front page weather forecasts.


So imagine my horror when I read this article on a local news website, quoting James Winfield, with the headline of:

Get ready for the snow - up to 12 inches predicted for the Thames Valley.

It stems from me posting a piece of model output which I thought I made clear was exceptionally unlikely, and it was to show the range of model outputs and why weather forecasting isn't that easy.

In hindsight I shouldn't have posted it - I see why it was misleading and it totally wasn't my intention.

So I have been "Daily Expressed" and of course taken a fair slagging off from a few people, which is guess is to be expected on the internet.  However I have also had some support from my regular readers which is heartening.

And they do say that all publicity is good publicity.  I have gone from 240 followers to 324 in a day.  I will hopefully see the funny side soon.

I guess this is my 15 minutes of fame?  I don't like it!

Thursday, January 23, 2014

(It Was) Happy Birthday To Me



So I turned 34.  No car, no mortgage, no wife, no children, no caravan but enjoying my life.  Up yours societal expectations!

Having a birthday in January, a week before payday is arguably the worst time of the year to have one.  But I am slowly growing to appreciate it in my wanting to be different kind of way.

I did want a few days off work but alas, circumstances didn’t turn out to allow it but I would only have been stuck at home by myself, and I work with nice people (I am not saying that just because a few of them will probably read this) so I brought in a load of cakes.  I had 5 cakes.  Still plenty left this morning.

 
I spent the whole day pretty much listening to my own DJmixes.  If I cannot be self-indulgent on James Winfield Day (still to be officially renamed but it is on the cards, I am King after all) then when can I?

I got some really good birthday cards, including this one from my auntie who knows my television viewing habits well:

 
And this one from my housemate who clearly understands my music taste:


Or maybe it is just a last stand from my brilliant housemate as I may finally be starting to convert him to the delights of house music after 18 months of him fighting it.

And last but definitely not least, this card so brilliant that my wonderful friend, Ellie, sent it not once but twice.  Is it just me or is one a marginally darker shade than the other?

 
I also got some shower gel so hopefully I won’t smell too much on Saturday night.  And some money to buy a ticket to Steve Lawler to celebrate my birthday more, hint hint hint come dancing with me on Saturday night, da da dee da.


It is in my collection and I will play it out one day!

My enjoyment of James Winfield Day continued.  At work I set a new record by sending 23 disconnection notices in one day.  And I got a lift home.

For the evening I had dinner cooked for me.  A roast chicken dinner and it was very good, especially considering it was the second-ever attempt by my second-favourite immigrant (I can imagine the Daily Mail headlines now – EU Immigrant Steals English Recipe).

 
I know what you are all thinking…how was the gravy?

It was home-made, mixed with Bisto.

I was quietly impressed.  Perhaps not so quiet as I did have a bit of wine.  Well, it was my birthday.

Actually it was possibly better than Goldenfry.

And as a final birthday present, Man United lost a penalty shoot-out which always puts a smile on any right-thinking person’s face.

Now comes the payback.  Sleepless, hungover with customers pissed off with my love letters.  I even drunkenly agreed to go for a run tonight, I am praying for a volcanic eruption or something to save me.  WTF was I thinking?  Damn you wine, damn you.

Not to mention the 100 Facebook messages that I am very greatful for - I will be individually responding to - yeah I could do a generic thank you but I am different.  If someone has taken the time to wish me a happy birthday, the least I can do is respond to them directly.

Monday, January 20, 2014

2014 Goals



So these are my goals for 2014.

1. A normal one to start – continue to do well at work.  I am hoping that there may be further opportunities seeing as we have just taken over a company 2-3 times our size.  I am happy in my job and would only move for a significant pay rise.

2. Studying.  I have much more to learn about Photoshop though at £27 a month I won’t be using it often!  I need to decide what else to learn in terms of web development later in the year – Javascript or PHP seem good suggestions.

3. DJing.  Firstly I need a website and some business cards.  I intend on having a break until March and then I will hopefully average 1 set a month which suits nicely.  As much as I love warm up sets, most important will be to get a set towards either the middle or the end of the night to test myself more.  Oh yeah and practice more.  Seth Troxler reckons you can be perfect at anything with 10,000 hours of practice.  Only 9,800 hours to go.

4. Ubereadoolische.  I still think this is a brilliant idea but I really need to push it and write more for it.  Though my priority is to do the re-design that is in my head.  Ideally find someone willing to help write articles too.  Anyone know any journalism students in Reading?  One day Ubereadoolische, the next day Mixmag?

5. Web Development.  Once my DJ website is done, and Ubereadoolische is redesigned, I will then make a website to offer my website creation skills.  Maybe I will do one or two websites for free (well, cost of domain and hosting, which is very little) to build up my portfolio.  This is my eventual intention career-wise.

6. Fracking Forum.  I need to get this into the public domain so people use it.  But how?  This is my road to riches.

7. Weather Forecast For Reading, Berkshire.  I started the year on 233 followers.  My goal for this year is 450.  There isn’t a lot I can do to influence the amount of followers other than give accurate forecasts consistently and wait for some exciting weather so people share the page.  I do need a more professional photo though.  I might even do a tiny spot of Facebook advertising, see if it works.

8. Clubbing.  6 London trips.  Much of this depends on my main clubbing partner’s schedule but we are in agreement that this year we need to be more clever about the parties we choose – lesser name DJs at nice venues meaning nicer crowds to cater for my Hull-born snobbery.  NO MORE PEOPLE GOING “WHOA WHOA”.  FFS.  Though not forgetting Ricardo at fabric and Sven at Building Six.  And I will go to local nights a plenty now Reading has a booming scene – especially to those DJs and promoters who have supported me.

9. Holidays.  At my age it is ridiculous that I have only been to 9 countries.  This must go up.  I want to go to both Ireland and Belgium this year which are both achievable in terms of cost and distance.  I am not going to say something as stupid as don’t go to Ibiza.  But I will try to avoid temptation!  The dream is still storm chasing in America but I will not have £3,000.00 by April in time for storm-chasing season.  Or at any point this year.

10. Get On My Bike.  I did buy a bike last year.  I will eventually get on it and ride it.  100m is the target for 2014.  That is in metres, not miles.

11. Lose Weight.  This year I will lose weight.  I am starting at 94kg and I want to get down to 89kg.

12. More Family Time.  It isn’t easy finding time and the money to get back to Hull (I tend to either have time or money but not both!) but I will try to see my family more, somehow.

13. Charity.  I am going to increase my charity budget this year.  Each year I have a budget based on a % of my wage, not a huge sum as I am hardly swimming in money but I do have more than some so I would like to give more.  When it comes to sponsorship, I will expand from close family and close friends only, and will consider sponsoring anyone who is an active friend and supports me in what I do, especially if they come and support me DJing at least once in a blue moon.  Give and take in this life.  Do not waste your time asking me for sponsorship when you haven’t bothered speaking to me for a year!

14. Dating.  Go on at least one date.  I managed a grand total of zero last year and the year before.  Perhaps I should make a bit of effort though?

15. Blogging.  New Year means new blog.  I haven’t decided what yet but I have a couple of ideas.

16. Become a style icon.  Money that I spent on going out in previous years does need to be spent on upgrading my wardrobe.  Though all I really need to do to become a style icon is to grow my mullet longer, surely?

17. Detox.  Yes I am going to attempt a detox for the month of February.  Though it only starts when I first wake up in February (just in case I go out on Friday 31st January!).

18. Buy some short shorts.  I guess this comes under being a style icon but I think it is so important to my destiny to have some short shorts.  Short shorts would guarantee number 14 being achieved.

19. Eat lots of pies.  I am on a mission to eat all the different types at Sweeney Todd's, for my blog.

Friday, January 17, 2014

Minimum Wage & The Proposed Increase



Just 3 years ago I would have told you that the minimum wage is a bad policy.  My belief was based more on theory of neo-classical economics, the ideas of supply and demand – the higher the price for wages, the lower the demand and hence higher the unemployment.  Good for those with a job – bad for those wanting a job.

I do like to challenge my own beliefs, and reading conclusions from various studies, the outcome of minimum wages in the UK and across the world is not as conclusive as I expected.

There is no definitive answer, like in much of economics (which is why economics is so fascinating a subject).  The thinking does seem to be that a minimum wage does not have a negative effect on unemployment, at least to a value, estimated to be at 50% of the median wage.

However there are some interesting facts:

1. Youth unemployment has risen consistently since the early 2000’s, not long after the minimum wage was brought in (remember much of this year the economy was growing strongly as Gordon Brown had eliminated “Tory Boom & Bust”.  Replacing it of course with “Labour’s banker’s boom and worst ever bust in living memory”…forgive me for the reminder, I will try to make it my only one).

2. General unemployment is stubbornly high in poorer and more traditional working class areas.

3. Inequality went up during the last government, not down.  Did the minimum wage actually redistribute wealth as it was supposed to?

The median wage in the UK is around £26,000.00.  Assuming an average of 37.5 hours work a week gives an hourly wage of £13.33.  50% of the median wage is therefore £6.67.

The government proposal is to increase the minimum wage to £7.00 an hour.  This is not too far over what is the estimated safe minimum wage in terms of not having a negative effect on unemployment.

But the UK is not at all equal.

The median wage in London and the south-east is much higher than in the majority of the rest of the country.  Housing costs are much lower in many parts of the country, generally where unemployment is higher.

Britain is too diverse.  We need regional minimum wages.

My proposal is for an even higher minimum wage for London – say £7.50 or even £8.00.  Keep the recommended proposed increase to £7.00 in areas of the south-east with very high housing costs, and anywhere else in the country that is appropriate.

But for the rest of the country, particularly those post-industrial areas which really do struggle with high unemployment and all the difficulties this brings, the minimum wage must NOT rise.  In fact, it should fall (perhaps this would need some kind of protection for current workers?).

My thinking behind this is to rebalance the economy away from London and the south-east, giving employers a solid reason to move work or open new factories/offices, etc in areas of high unemployment.  A knock-on effect could also be to reduce the pressure on housing in London and the south-east.

Of course this policy should be reviewed periodically because if it worked, then eventually, probably over the course of a couple of decades, regional inequality and unemployment should reduce.

A lot of people will disagree with me but I believe that George Osborne does have far more empathy for those of lesser means that most people give him credit for and actually grasps, as much as someone with a lot of inherited wealth can (though he is not as rich as Russell Brand is), the daily struggle of many.

This government has actually done a fair amount for the poorest in society, increasing the tax threshold to £10,000.00 and bringing 2 million out of income tax altogether, not to mention increased employment.  Not to mention a reduction in inequality so far.

I added that it is not the government who decides the minimum wage - that is the role of the Low Pay Commission.  Though it does sound an instruction to do so, to me.

Whether or not you agree with the economics of a rise in the minimum wage, this is wise politics and quite amusing to see the Conservatives encroaching Labour’s natural working class ground, whilst Labour is trying to win over the middle-classes.  Whether the Conservatives will be rewarded with votes from the lower/working classes in 2015 is another matter.

Don’t forget George Osborne will be fighting Boris Johnson for the nomination of next Conservative leader.  Why not follow up rescuing the economy with redistribution if you want to be the next Prime Minister?

I am interested in your thoughts.

Friday, January 10, 2014

Counting Calories



A while back I was taking the piss out of my housemate for scanning every single thing he ate to count calories.  Though I probably had a point as Kate Moss needs to lose more weight than he does.

However I have finally succumbed to yet another layer of life administration after hearing further commendations to said calorie counting app – as beautiful as I may be, arguably I could do to lose a fair few kilograms (or lots of 2.2046226218 pounds for those of you still spending shillings).

2014 is the year that I will lose weight.  I have no doubt about that.

So I started counting calories last month on the days I could actually remember my consumption given that it was party season, and made it to 4,800 calories one day which I thought was exceptionally impressive.  Other people I spoke to were only managing 1,500 to 2,500 a day – I was doing twice that!

Truly kicking ass.  My competitive nature coming out.

But those who know me well will know that not only am I competitive, I very much like to do things against the grain so now I am trying to eat as few calories as possible.  Instead of eating more than my target, I am eating less.

The other day I would have had just 1,300 were it not for two mince pies.  Who knew that mince pies were that calorific?

The robot reckons I can eat 1,800 calories plus exercise per day – so with my 80 minutes walking that is an allowance of 2,200 approximately.

My lowest is 1,817 (which would have been 1,317 were it not for those two mince pies).  So far so good, I have lost over 2kg in a week, probably too much actually as I am coming below my weight-losing calorie amount each day...I doubt it will be that easy next week as that was mostly excess Christmas baggage.

I have been cooking this rather healthy breakfast – a poached egg with smoked salmon on top of spinach, cooked with pepper and a touch of nutmeg.  A seriously tasty breakfast and around 240 calories.

 
Gosh I am one of those sad fuckers now, aren’t I?  But I will be the one laughing when I have my beach body perfect for next holiday in the tropical paradise of Bridlington.

Anyone know how many calories in a Sweeney Todd’s pie?!