Unplugged? Unconnected?

Sometimes, we all need a break from these little glowing boxes. How do you know when it’s time to unplug? What do you do to make it happen?

<a href=”https://dailypost.wordpress.com/prompts/bloggers-unplugged/”>Bloggers, Unplugged</a>

I don’t have a chance to “make it happen” so I can have a rest from writing – heavens, a rest from writing would be like a break from breathing.

Seriously though, I get enough unscheduled breaks courtesy of my Internet provider. Little billets-doux saying, “You are not connected to the internet” or “Safari can’t find the URL – check your spelling and try again”.

Then of course there are the umpteen other things that need to be done; some of them need to be done at a particular time. Outings and shopping and meetings and rides, not to mention meals and snacks and household chores – washing and ironing, baking and cooking. I’m now retired: how did I ever find time to go to work?

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NO THREE-LETTER WORDS

<a href=”https://dailypost.wordpress.com/dp_prompt/three-letter-words/”>Three Letter Words</a>

Write an entire post without using three letter words

Easy-peasy? Or is it? Particularly if there isn’t a topic or theme given. I still recall at primary school being told to “write a sentence”. This completely threw me. I couldn’t do it. It needed more limitations. Write a sentence about your holidays, your family, your pets – I could’ve managed these. Just “write a sentence” – no way.

I look back over what I have written and I think I have avoided three-letter words? I’m unsure. I go over each sentence to check for three-letter words, then substitute something else. Quite difficult. However still possible. Only trouble is a total lack of interest! Still I’ve done it – I think!

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On-liners should spare a thought for the non-liners

Today just about everyone is online – or so it seems. An “address” is more likely to be some strange combination of letter with an @ somewhere in the middle and end with .co. or .org .uk rather than a house number followed by a street name,a town and a postcode. People are more likely to text each other than telephone and from what i heard on the radio email is now old hat – the done thing is text messaging or tweeting. And a Facebook page is a must have, apparently.

Spare a thought, though,  for the people who are not wired up/keyed in/switched on or whatever metaphor you want to use. I know a number of these who live full and satisfying lives without a personal computer of any sort – including i-pads and i-pods, smart phones and tablets. As far as I know they don’t even use the freely available computers in the local public library.

We don’t have a television set and get regular letters from the television licensing authority reminding us that we haven’t purchased a TV license and this heinous crime can lead to fines and goodness knows what else.  I suspect the TV license people might be one of the organisations that can make a foreceable entry to your house in order to catch you illegally watching Coronation Street.

Back to my friends who choose not to join the digital age: surely this choice,should be respected. So many adverts now don’t include a postal address, just an email and people can expect to be contacted by mobile phone. Banking is going “paperless” and the banks want to send you your special magic pin number to your mobile phone. There should be some provision for people who don’t have a mobile phone or access to the internet.

Yes, I agree that non IT users are a minority. But, unlike other minorities, the disabled, the blind, the deaf or those from a different ethnic background, there is no special provision made for them. Everything it seems comes in digital format and over the internet. It’s time we had a box you could tick if you wanted to be contacted only by the less high-tech methods.

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Blocked?

Is this the dreaded Writer’s Block? Is that what I am experiencing? The malady I’ve  heard about and read about and seem other writers complaining about? Something like a menopause of the imagination, complete with hot flushes and rushes of blood to the head and ideas to the brain? It’s not something I’ve come across before. There’s alimages-10ways been something to write even if it is rubbish. In a similar vein I like to claim I’ve never been bored: at least bored in the sense of not having anything to do.

 

Yes, of course like everyone else I have experienced the boredom of having some tedious task to perform and no way to avoid it or make it pleasanter. A pile og ironing springs to mind, but ironing hasn’t been a task I particularly hated. As long as I cold listen to some play or talk on the radio while I was doing it, an hour or so ironing was generally bearable. (I say was because since I retired my ironing is cut down to ten minutes or so a week.)  When I was ironing a whole weeks’ worth of shirts and blouses for five of us it did get a bit tedious and I needed something like The Archers Omnibus on the radio on Sunday morning to get me through the session.

If I’d organised my writing better I’d always have something non-essential waiting to be done. The literary equivalent of dusting the mantlepiece – something I can do to fill in the space when there is nothing more urgent/essential but it is a task that needs doing and I can get a certain amount of satisfaction from completing it. I regard weeding our large and untidy garden in the same light. every nettle I pull up and take to the compost heap is an extra brownie point for me.

The again there’s always the writing “housekeeping” side of thing. Going through all files on my computer and sort the wheat from the chaff, the first, second, third drafts and deciding which if any should be kept. So easy to get sidetracked and start rereading something I wrote a long time ago and trying to remember where – if anywhere – it was submitted.

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ESME

ANOTHER DAY OLDER AND DEEPER IN DEBT

poundCan you remember a time when people said proudly “I don’t owe anyone a penny”? If so, you must be well over 60. Nowadays the fashion is for ever-increasing debts. Odd isn’t it when we’ve a got a government that is always on about the dreaded deficit and how it must be reduced. (They never say why it must be reduced or what will happen if it isn’t. Just insist that getting rid of the deficit is the main priority of our fiscal policy.)

Young people start their student life by borrowing the money to pay for their degree course. Remember the 50s and the 60s? Our country was less affluent then, but we did have free education, free, not just to primary and secondary level but to degree level too. Just imagine it! No tuition fees. The average student had their fees paid by the state and on top of this there were maintenance grants for all but the richest. You could be a student and concentrate on studying – not on how to survive financially.

Now most students will leave university with a huge debt that they have little or no chance of repaying. I think there is something in the student loan scheme that allows the debt to be written after a certain length of time if the former student hasn’t reached a predetermined level of salary. Something like “ if you haven’t paid off your student loan thirty years after graduation and haven’t earned more than £15,000 per annum over that time we will write this off as a bad debt.” It might, just might mean you won’t be hassled by the student loan company, but it might also mean that you are labelled as “high risk” and won’t be able to get a mortgage a bank loan or even take out a hire purchase agreement.

It would be interesting to find out what percentage of student loans ever get repaid. Some graduates will disappear from the radar, some will die, some move abroad or be detained at her majesty’s pleasure – do you still have to pay off a student loan if you are in jail or permanently hospitalised and incapabe of work?

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No one nowadays buys something they can afford and pays for it upfront, it just isn’t done. Most houses are bought by getting a mortgage, other items, cars, furniture etc are bought on a “buy now, pay later” system, even if it is only the now standard credit card usage where you build up a debt and if you are sensible pay it off at the end of the month so avoiding interest charges. If we had credit cards in the 1950s and 1960s I can’t remember them.

What can be done to stop this drift in debt? I admit I don’t know. One immediate and fairly obvious suggestion would be to adopt the Scottish system where tuition fees aren’t demanded from students.

Another approach would be for an organisation wanting to recruit graduates, whether it is British Gas or British Homoe Stores, The Bank of England or a local planning authority to pick their employees first and then pay for them to go to university and get the required qualifications. Conditions could be written into the agreement so that an employer couldn’t reject an employee who had satisfactorily completed a course of study, and likewise a student would not be able to take a degree at one employer’s expense and then go off to work for a rival. It should be possible and it is already done in some cases, eg student nurses in the army medical corps have their training funded by the MOD.

 

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Reasons for Riding


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There are many reasons for riding a bike. Here are a few of mine. The 4 big E’s

ECONOMY

Cost has to come into it, especially if you are going to commute by bike. Some years ago I had a part time job at Lancaster University, a  distance of seven miles from home by bike avoiding the busy  main road. It wasn’t a highly paid job and the hours were limited. If I’d decided to commute by car, the cost of buying a second-hand car, taxing and insuring it, keeping it topped up with fuel and serviced would have eaten up most of my salary. I’d have ended up in the crazy situation going to work in order to pay for a vehicle to get me to work.A bike meant no expensive car insurance, no vehicle excise duty (often mistakenly called road fund tax. Road tax, as a separate tax to pay for the upkeep of our roads was abolished in the 1930s) No MOT and no petrol of diesel to buy. Quids in.In bad weather I had the option of going by bus or scrounging a lift from someone travelling in same direction. Catching a bus involved a walk of a mile to the nearest bus stop, a wait for the bus and a further quarter of a mile walk uphill at the end of the trip.  Going by bus was slower and less convenient than cycling. No wonder it was the option of last resort.

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EXERCISE

There’s a disconcerting tendency in some people  to regard a bike as piece of keep fit equipment. riding my bike probably kept me reasonably fit for my age and stopped me having to spend time and money and effort going to the gym. To me the ultimate illogicality is someone who gets into a car to drive to the gym in order to ride a stationary exercise bicycle when they get there. One occasion I recall with delight was riding the last section uphill towards to office where I worked and passing a student half my age pushing a mountain bike!  I was a middle-aged lady on a touring bike – not a racer – and this encounter made my day. images

ECOLOGY

We all know that cycling is good for the environment. Bikes don’t comsume vast amounts of fossil fuel, they don’t emit noxious gases or pollute the atmosphere, they don’t cause respiratory diseases and  if you are hit by a bike you are not going to be as badly  injured as if you were mown down by a car. For all the talk about “dangerous” cycling the acual number of people killed or seriously injured by cyclists is minute compare with those injured by car drivers.

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ENJOYMENT

Given all the above, I would still not be riding a bike – or a trike – if I didn’t enjoy it. The cash savings, the added fitness and the rather smug feeling that I am doing my bit to help the environment wouldn’t be enough to get me commuting 15 miles a day by bike if I didn’t enjoy it. And I did enjoy it. There are many people who enjoy their work and get a satisfaction out of doing it well, over and above any monetary reward. It is somewhat rarer to find people who like going to work in the sense of enjoying the actual journey. I can truthfully say that I enjoyed my trip to work most of the time. OK there was occasionally bad weather and inevitably there were punctures, but not many. Riding home in the dark and wet isn’t fun and some drivers never seem to realise that undipped headlights can dazzle a cyclist or a pedestrian. I was lucky in that there were facilites for showering and changing when I got to work and one department where I worked was especially cycle-friendly. By that I mean there were a couple of cycle helmets perched on top of a filing cabinet and the head of department kept his bike in his office leaning against the hat stand. Now I’m retired,  most of the other considerations don’t  apply, but enjoyment is still a factor. I can choose when and where I ride and it’s great. Cycling has these advantages over many other forms of exercise:

a) It can be done on your own. You can’t do that with tennis or football. 

b) It can be continued into old age, as long as you can stop yourself trying to compete with younger riders or thinking how much faster you could ride ten years ago! 

I read a piece recently about a bishop who had decided to give up using his car for Lent. He was going to walk, catch a bus or train or ride his bike instead.  Good for him. Then it occurred to me; what I would find a real penance would be if I gave up my bike for lent. The deprivation doesn’t bear thinking about!

 

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