Friday, 25 March 2016

Baby's First Constituency Labour Party Meeting

I joined the Labour Party back in September, as a lot of people did, when Jeremy Corbyn was elected as its leader.  I wouldn't say I'm particularly socialist in my politics - I lean more towards anarchism, if I'm honest, but I stubbornly resist all ideology to the best of my ability.  There is no political ideology that could ever create a perfect society the size of a modern nation state.  There are too many variables.  Individuals on their own are complex, contradictory entities.  I don't even know what I want, or what is best for me.  Neither do you, I imagine.  Of sexual relationships that even make it as far as marriage, 50% of those end in failure, and those only involve two people.  The children that couples produce as often as not end up dysfunctional, neurotic and ill-equipped for adulthood.  There's no test you have to pass before they let you have children.  Anyone old enough can do it, no questions asked.  It shows.  So the idea that any one person, or political group, could presume to know how to improve the collective lives of millions, is preposterous.  There are no gurus in politics, no saviours.  Just some people who are less corrupted by its insane operations than others.

Wednesday, 23 March 2016

Scraps #2

Yesterday was a good day.  I spent four hours in the library, sold four books on amazon and ate three good meals.  The ingredients for my meals cost me a total of £2.55 (bulked up with a bit of rice).  Scallywag around the supermarket aisles at the right time of day and it's easy to stock up on vegetables and bread and other staples for less than half the price it'd cost you in the peak daytime shopping hours.  Best time where I live is between about 7 and 9pm, when the stuff they have to sell before midnight gets knocked down even more than it already had been.  It's sometimes worth a shot first thing in the morning too, around 6 - 7am.

Monday, 21 March 2016

Scraps of a Manifesto

Think about this: For as long as you can remember, there's been a future.  Tomorrow never comes though - until the next day, when it does, and is replaced by itself.  So tomorrow comes all the time: the future never comes.  And it's the future that you really want.  The future is what's worth waiting for. The future isn't always a date known in advance: it's more of a promise.  Something that will definitely happen.  And when it does happen, that will be it.  You will have arrived.  Congratulations and welcome: now your life begins.  You were alive already, but that wasn't "real life" (TM).  This is.  Life begins at 40.  Or is it 50 now?  Is 60 the new 30?  Oh shit, you're dead.

The future is some kind of goal, though not usually a goal you set for yourself.  When you're a child, the goal is "growing up" and becoming an adult.  I never really wanted to be an adult.  Adults drive cars, have mortgages, take out insurance, choose wallpaper, have children, hairstyles, pensions and conservatories.  I never wanted any of these things, and I still haven't had most of them: never driven a car or chosen wallpaper, I rent rather than “own” - whatever that means - insurance is essentially just gambling (and I own nothing so valuable that I couldn't replace it if I had to anyway) and I don’t have any children. This isn’t to say I never will want any of these things; only that they've never been as attractive to me as they seem to be to others.  I'm sure there's nothing unique in feeling like this, but it's a lonely feeling nonetheless.

Sunday, 20 March 2016

Sole Mates

Take a look at my new boots:




I think you'll agree that these boots were made for walking.  They arrived yesterday.  In this picture they're under the table with my feet, legs and trousers in the reading room in Manchester Central Library, which is circular and warm and has free wifi.

I bought them on ebay (which assures me the boots are vegan, though they don't smell like it) for £9.95 (free postage).  What's good about that is that I raised £9.95 from using Slidejoy, an android app that gives you a bit of money for unlocking your phone.  Considering that's something you do 85 times a day anyway, on average, why not pick up some pennies at the same time?  Naturally, you have to sell your soul a bit - the money comes from advertising, so every time you unlock your phone, you have to swipe though an advert - but never mind about that.  Or you could just sell your phone, but never mind about that just now.  I'm locked into my contract for the next 12 months and still haven't found a way out.  So might as well make some money back.  Slidejoy pay through paypal on the first of each month, and I've managed to accumulate about $5 a month from this.  Enough to pay for a pair of boots, an essential ingredient of my upcoming camping trip.

Thursday, 17 March 2016

Why don't we live in Utopia? (and other stupid questions)

Why isn't life wonderful?  Some lives are wonderful but chances are, yours isn't.  Mine isn't.  Granted, it's not the life of a Syrian refugee (and there are 9 million of those) or an Indian or West African slave (30 million) or Chinese peasant (about 482 million).  It easily could have been any of those lives.  Pick a human being at random, and there's about a 50-50 chance s/he lives in poverty (defined as less than US$2.50 a day) and about a 1 in 7 chance s/he lives in extreme poverty (less than US$1.25 a day).  The skyrocketing number of humans competing to consume the resources of a planet no larger than it was back when there were only a few million of us, are demanding a even more intangible number of other individual animals be to sacrificed so that we can eat their bodies, in the hope of thereby strengthening and extending the lifespans of our own.  These animals spend their entire lives in conditions unimaginable even to most of the humans living in extreme poverty, only to murdered at an age far sooner than they would have otherwise have died.  Without getting too metaphysical here, I suppose I could just easily have been one of those animals.  So yeah, my life isn't so bad.  Statistically speaking, the chances of living a life at anything close to the level of luxury I've enjoyed so far are astronomically tiny.  So chin up, you grumpy bastard.

Saturday, 12 March 2016

High Lands

I've decided to spend some time in the wild.  It seems like the right thing to do.  Inverness is the end of the line, so far as trains go.  From there it's a three-hour bus ride to Ullapool, and then, definitively you're into the Highlands.  This is where the road ends.


Thursday, 10 March 2016

First Shoots

Learning by doing, that's the thing. Behold the first shoots of my indoor potato plants:






I'm using stackable plastic boxes so I can have a kind of drainage system that doesn't make any unnecessary mess or dampness, and so I can easily move the plants if needs be.  At the moment they're just in the corner of the kitchen area , between the washing machine and the window - a nice warm spot that's starting to get some sunlight.  The top box has holes in the bottom to allow the water to drain into the box below, which can then be emptied as needs be.

The trick apparently is to add soil on to the shoots as they grow, until your container is filled.  Hence the space left for this to top up with soil as the plants grow. 

A little inspiration:



A couple of useful links:



Let's all do this.

Tuesday, 8 March 2016

Scraps


One week remains until I stop working.  I have lost all motivation to even pretend I care about my job or that it is any way worth doing.  I'll have more to say on this subject retrospectively.  Suffice to say that from next week, things really get going and I'll have much more to blog about the practicalities of my new life.  For now...


Here's what seven homemade vegan 'ready meals' looks like.  Boiled rice, mixed beans, kale.  Simple, tasty enough and very cheap.  ALDI rice and tinned beans, and some left over kale I'd cooked a while back and frozen in portions for, well, something like this.  If you don't mind eating the same thing every day for a week (and I don't really) then do something like this.  Couple of quid, seven meals.  Microwave as required.

Pseudo-Spirituality the Meaning of Words (Part One)


If you're a facebook user, and you are, at some point today you'll have seen an inspirational "quote" in your feed.  I put the word "quote" in, um, quotes because I'm referring, of course, to things that aren't really quotes at all.  Things like this:


 

 


You know what I'm talking about.  They're everywhere.  The three examples above come from the first page of a google image search for "inspirational quotes". Their defining characteristics are as follows:

1.  Words superimposed over a picture, usually of a sunset, landscape, or other generically serene image.

2.  They convey a positive, pithy or inspirational message, that usually appeals in some way to your sense of individuality and uniqueness.

3.  They are not, or not necessarily, quotations of anything anybody noteworthy has actually said.



Tuesday, 1 March 2016

The Cost of Living: February 2016


One month has now passed.  I am halfway through my notice period for my job.  So far, I have made no attempt to find another job.  "Have you found another job?" is the question I've been asked the most when people find out I'm leaving this one.  My answer is often met with surprise.  Some people don't say anything, they just look at me.  I quite like that.  Some ask what I'm going to be doing next.  I don't always feel like talking about it, so I say that I don't know, which is of course true.  Sometimes I lie.  I have some idea what I want to do, but it remains vague.

Numbers are not vague, and numbers don't lie.  So as I said I was going to do, I've been keeping track of all my expenses day through the month on a spreadsheet.  I fucking love spreadsheets.  Really I do.  Here are the results: