Tuesday, 30 July 2013

Blogging about blogging

Firstly - happy birthday to me! I'm 31 today, and i don't look a day over 35. Perhaps this might be the year I don't get asked for identification when I buy alcohol.

I've tried to find somewhere on the net that's suitable for this post, but I can't.  So I'll stick it here.

I wanted to blog about blogging.

Why should I do this?  I've only been blogging for perhaps ten months. I'm still something of a newbie when it comes to blogging, and apparently my website isn't the most popular one in the world just yet. (as a comparison, whilst facebook.com has 8.2 million websites linking to it, thoggy.blogspot.com has 38)
Nevertheless, I wanted to give this post a go.

Why do I blog?

Well, I started a blog because I wanted to practice writing.  I've always wanted to write, but I've had little energy for doing so for a number of years due to studying and the like (that's an excuse but I'm sticking with it), and blogging is a low-risk way of writing.

But, it's addictive you see.  You can't help it, but you want your blog to be viewed, and liked, and popular.
And yes, you want to make money out of it.

Do I?

Well, over ten months I've got 11,000 views, so far haven't actually received any money (although I'm hoping I might get something by the end of the year) and have a grand total of 18 subscribers.  So I'm certainly not going to be quitting my day job any time soon.

But it's great to have a creative hobby.  I can quite easily kill an evening off watching TV or failing to complete a video game, but making something, be it a video or a blog post, makes me all warm inside.
Or is that the cognac that does that?

And I feel guilty if I'm not creating something.  It's a difficult balance - you need to absorb experiences, be they going out and doing something, or reading a book/watching a movie/listening to music etc etc, to give yourself source material to create from.

A note about guest blogging - I spend a lot of time looking at other blogs.  The vast majority I read.  Many of them I comment on.  But only a very very small amount do I consider asking if I could submit a guest blog to.

As an example, I'm writing this after about 90 minutes of reading blogs.  These have included:
(Apologies for not attaching descriptions to all of these, but they're all worth visiting for one reason or another!)

As part of this internet blog journey I've congratulated a Professor at Harvard on being offered a new job.  I've agreed with a Bishop.  I've thanked someone for mentioning a download from the cbeebies website that might be good for my son.  I've signed up to a mass blogging movement that will, on October 16th, talk about human rights.  And I've put forward my thoughts on remote working.  I've touched (albeit in an extremely small and irrelevant way) lives of people across the world, people that I've never met and am unlikely to.

None of these blogs I consider suitable for me to guest post on, because:
a) They're too big for me to be a suitable 'guest' blogger
b) I don't know enough about their niche to write a good post
c) I wouldn't be suitable for their audience
But that doesn't mean that I haven't enjoyed reading and commenting on their blogs.  Readers, likes and comments are what makes blogging worthwhile.  And of course in many cases when you post a comment, the blog asks you to provide your email address and website - it may be that some of those bloggers visit my blog, and if they do I hope they enjoy it!

Thanks for reading :)

Sunday, 28 July 2013

Happy Don't Be A Dick Day!

Today it is Don't Be A Dick Day aka Wil Wheaton's birthday!

So don't be one! The website above includes a really handy flowchart to work out if you're being a dick or not.

And happy birthday to Wil - a geek that, through his blogs, has been something of a source of inspiration for me.

The Experience of the Surprise Polish

For the last few Monday nights, we've generally had a Polish takeaway from Kuchnia in Hull. Polish is ace because it tastes great and it's cheaper than some other takeaways, but we don't have a Polish menu which makes choosing meals tricky - my other half always has Devolay with extra garlic sauce and extra mash, but I like to try something different every time.  So this time, when my partner was ordering, and asked me what I wanted, I said "A surprise!  Something with meat in it."

I got this!

Wow.  It was amazing.  Meat wrapped in meat, with mash and tons of gravy.  And lots of tasty veg too.

Now, I have lots of guest posts of mine to talk about!

Firstly, I've got a post up at the great nobodysreadingme which I love very much (the blog, not my post - I'm not quite that egocentric... okay, well maybe I am) where I'm complaining about getting older.  My knee still aches from time to time after falling over a football about six years ago.  The chap who runs nobodysreadingme is a very good writer indeed and his blog is well worth checking out - he also writes at Ether Books and Wattpad (name of Duncan Swallow) and I'd encourage you to check those out.

And secondly, I'm very sorry not to have highlighted this when it went live (entirely my mistake) but I have a guest post up at A Daydreamer's Thoughts due to Faye there being lovely enough to let me talk about "The Man on Platform Five" by Robert Llewellyn.  A book review was a writing challenge that I hadn't attempted before and as it's my all time favourite book I had to do it!  Thanks to Faye for letting me have a go at reviewing, and if you'd like to see my review it's at http://daydreamersthoughts.co.uk/guest-review-the-man-on-platform-5-by-robert-llewellyn/.  I really enjoyed the opportunity to do a book review and I'm hoping to attempt another one in the not too distant future.

Oh - have you played http://winloseorbanana.com/ ?  Very bizarre.

Friday, 26 July 2013

A Story In Pictures. And Words. And Auto-Awesome.

We had a lot of milk in our fridge.

My partners mum had gone away for a few days, and being helpful, we raided her refrigeration unit to use up anything that was going to go off while she was away.  One of the items was a litre of milk.

Because the milk shelves in our fridge were full of milk, we laid the additional litre down in our fridge, but unfortunately it leaked - not a great deal, but enough that we couldn't keep it laid down.

So I, the (slightly) lactose intolerant person, had the great idea of making a chocolate milkshake (don't fear readers - this didn't have any awkward after effects).

We didn't have any chocolate milkshake powder, so I used hot chocolate powder.

A lot of it.

So much, that the milkshake was very chocolatey indeed.

So chocolatey, that when I drank half of it, I poured another half pint of milk in, stirred it up, and it was still very chocolatey.

chocolate milkshake glass
The stained chocolate milkshake receptacle.

thog shirt
My attempt to colour in the grey bits of my beard with milkshake failed.  But at least I managed to make an attractive "stain" fashion pattern on my white t-shirt.

At least I'm not the only one who spills stuff on himself in our house.  Yes - that is a chair sat on a wooden box underneath the TV.

While I'm blogging I wanted to write about Google's "Auto-Awesome" feature.  This is ace.  Basically, when photos are uploaded into Google+, Google looks at the photos, and if you've taken the right ones, makes them better.  If you take multiple photos, it combines them to make the best one.  If you've got a few close together, it'll animate them.  And it'll maybe make collages of similar photos.  Apparently it'll even create panoramic shots but I've not tried that yet.

It totally blew my mind, because on my new phone (Samsung Galaxy SIII) it automatically backups photos onto my Google+ account, which I was vaguely aware that it did, but then when I actually went into the account, it had made the below picture for me:

auto-awesome mix
Auto-awesome in action!

It's pretty neat.

Wednesday, 24 July 2013

Of course I'm not doing anything important

Today I'm extremely fortunate to feature a guest post by the one and only Duncan Swallow.  Duncan, amongst other things, runs an excellent blog, nobodysreadingme.  His blog is, unfortunately, significantly better than mine.  I'm actually delaying the publishing of this post because I've just realised that his latest one is up on his blog and I haven't read it yet.

(Minutes go by...)

That was really good.  I'd recommend after you've been here that you head over to his blog and read it.

Okay - Mr Swallow, you have the floor!


Mike is doing a guest post over on my blog http://nobodysreadingme.wordpress.com/ and he kindly allowed me a guest post here. I’m going to take the opportunity to have a rant.

I spend a lot of time writing. I blog every day, apart from Sunday. I’ve got a lot of short stories published on EtherBooks. I’m working on two separate versions of my memoir. I’m in the thick of my second novel, having given up on having the first one published. So I have quite a lot on my plate, or page as you might say.

For reasons we needn’t go into I work a lot in my local library. And for some reason I attract the lunatic fringe who seem to think that if I’m pounding the keys what I’d prefer to do is be interrupted by something more important. And what could be more important than their misguided and unwanted ramblings?

There’s the rather plummy voiced eccentric man. Maybe you’ve met him, or his ilk. He’ll ask ‘What are you writing?’ then proceed not to listen as he bangs on for five or ten or fifteen minutes about how what I should  be writing is similar to his amateurish and singularly unfunny satirical magazine. This has a circulation of three, including him and his mum.

There’s the plummy voiced Baroness. Really, she is. She doesn’t know one end of a computer from another, so frequently enlists my help. I’m fine with this, until she goes all Lady of the Manor on me. ‘It worked yesterday,’ to which I have to reply, ‘Well, that may be true but it’s not working today.’ ‘You don’t have to do that!’ ‘Oh yes I do, I miskeyed a command so I need to retype it, as soon as I can get my hands back from round your throat.’ She thinks she’s speaking to the bootboy or something.

An acquaintance who will insist, while I’m typing, on regaling me yet again what a bitch and a cow, and a moneygrubber, his ex-wife is. You married her pal. I really don’t want to hear this again, for the nth time in a year. I’m not interested in the fact you missed your bus this morning either, now I come to mention it.

Then there’s the man who reads the Guardian every day. No problem with that at all. It’s a fine newspaper. Generally it attracts people who can think, so it’s a surprise that he not only has to move his lips as he reads, he has to read aloud! He also feels honour bound to issue a running commentary, and ask himself questions that he then answers. Himself.

But hey, it doesn’t matter. I’m not doing anything important. I’m just writing, that’s all.

Monday, 22 July 2013

Do you have a geek code?

BREAKING NEWS: The royal baby is a boy.  He was born at 4.24pm and weighed 8lb 6oz. I certainly didn't post this just to try to get loads of hits on my blog. Honest.

Firstly, I start this post with an apology.

My last post discussed how, if you go to Google, search 241543903, and look at the images, you'll see lots of photos of people with their head in a freezer.  I failed to accredit the person who told me about this in the first place.  This was raised by the aforementioned person whilst out on Saturday night.

So - thanks Kirsty!

This is Kirsty.  Photo edited to remove my thumb that was in the top-left corner of the shot.

Topic of the day - do you have a Geek Code?

A Geek Code, created by the great Robert Hayden, is a code to identify how much of a geek you are, and what you are a geek about.  You indicate your answers to a number of questions, with each answer generating a code.  For example, in my geek code below, it starts "GIT" - rather than being my nickname, it stands for "Geek of Information Technology", as opposed to "GCS" which is Geek of Computer Science - this reflects the fact that, while I'm a geek and I'm (relatively) good at IT, I'm not able to make software applications.

The 'original' home of the Geek Code is at http://www.geekcode.com/geek.html - here the Geek Code stands at version 3.12, and is unfortunately a little out of date (dating from 1996) - it talks about things like OS/2 and Emacs - so a newer 'evolution' of the code, at a proposed version 3.20 by Vincent Graux is available at http://www.fecj.org/extra/The-Geek-Code-Codec-Evolution-Traduction-French-Francais.html

My v3.20 Geek Code is:

  Version: 3.20
  GIT d- s+:+ a c+ C++ B-- 7- w L M-- u W+++ H+ Z---
  F+ PS PE+ Y- PGP T++ S+++ J++ R m tv+ b++ DI+++ D++
  e+++ h---- A+ r++ !y

At http://www.fecj.org/extra/The-Geek-Code-Codec-Evolution-Traduction-French-Francais.html there is also a decoder of the above geek code, so rather than trying to work out the code by hand you can copy and paste it in.

Let me know your geek code!

Saturday, 20 July 2013

Birthday wishes...

I've been writing my birthday list!

For my birthday and for Christmas, I produce a birthday list for my other half to use and share with friends and family - I'd never done this before we got together, but she had difficulty finding things for me as presents, so what I do is search the internet for stuff that I'd like, give her a list, and she can pick from the things, safe in the knowledge that I'll like them.

But it's really hard to do, because the thing is, there isn't really that much I desperately need or want.

Sure, I'd love a new car/house/phone/computer/tablet/jacket/desk mug, but the issue I have is that I have all of these things, and they all work.

Yes, the car is an aging a red Vauxhall Agila aka Postman Pat van, yes I can complain about the various other things, but I have a problem with getting things when I still have something serviceable.

Take a mug, for example.  We have a cupboard full of mugs, most fairly plain, one beloved Foamy the Squirrel mug (if you must, go check out http://www.illwillpress.com/ but don't say I didn't warn you), and at work I have a "I love my daddy" mug allegedly from my son, although his lack of employment (being 3) indicates that his mother was probably involved in financing the purchase.  Nevertheless, I don't feel able to replace it with a geekier mug (Cup of R2D2 anyone?).

And the vast majority of the blokey stuff you can buy just seems overpriced.  Would I like a sweater that looks like a galaxy? (as in lots of stars, not a chocolate bar) Yes, of course I would, but I wouldn't want to pay over £40 for it, and neither would I want people I know to pay that much for a present for me anyway.  Besides unless it was in a larger size it wouldn't fit... (sob)

So, I basically have a list with a load of books on it, a lot of Warhammer 40K and a load of other ones.  I'm looking to move more into getting electronic books rather than real books, to save on house space.  I've just read my first e-book, one of Jeffrey Archer's prison diaries, and although it's slightly annoying when the book reader app freezes up for a few seconds while it loads the page for you to read, overall it performs very well and I'm certainly up for reading more in this format.

Oh, before I forget - go to Google, search 241543903, and look at the images. Bizarre? Yes. Internet? Of course!

Wednesday, 17 July 2013

Fortune Telling Video is up!

So, my fortune telling video is live!  You can take a look at it here or click on the video below.  I'm not as happy with the way it turned out as I could have, because of the length of the thing (it's just over 30 minutes) my video editing software was not happy, and I wasn't really able to do anything with it.  So it's up in all its uncut glory.  I really enjoyed the experience though of making something like this, collaborating with others, so please do get back to me if you like it, or if you have any ideas on what I could do next.

I have been challenged by a YouTuber in the US to a five minute race to eat as many cream crackers as possible.  I have many weaknesses, but eating is not one of them.  Prepare to lose, CletusTCrickenberger!

Also, have you seen this news story about a elementary school teacher in Texas who wore the same disco shirt and brown tank top for forty years?  The school does annual school photos, and after accidentally wearing the same tops in the first two years, he decided to repeat it for the next thirty eight.  Well done Dale Irby!

And while I'm recommending things, I'm also going to recommend a blog called nobodysreadingme - it's extremely well written and very funny.  Well worth a look.

Monday, 15 July 2013

Farewell my dear Nokia

It is with great sadness that I say farewell to my Nokia C2-01 today.  It's served me well for a good while (especially for a non-smartphone - I'm not going to insult it by calling it a "dumbphone") and I'm particularly going to miss being able to play Block'd, a great puzzle game by EA, but I've finally taken the step of getting a smartphone.  I've gone for the Samsung Galaxy S III, I know it's not the latest smartphone but I can't justify paying £35+ a month for a phone when I can get the S3 for £20 a month, along with all the minutes and text and Internet that I need.  I have wanted to be able to tweet and Facebook on the move, and currently the only way I can do this is generally by using my tablet (also a Samsung) but the problem with this is that the tablet is loaded up with videos for my son to watch, cartoons and educational things, so it generally stays at home, standing by for action.

So it's goodbye to the Nokia and hello to the Samsung - which I am loving quite a bit.  I do feel sad for Nokia, my first mobile was a Nokia 3210 - bought whilst at college, and I chose that phone because:

a) The battery life was longer than the others on offer, and;
b) The buttons were bigger, so they would be easier to press while drunk (as I say, I was still at college)

I remember the screen was monochrome, it was maybe three times as big and heavy as my current Nokia, and could hold ten text messages.  Ten.  I recall getting funny texts from friends, and having to delete them rather than keep them because I needed the space.

I did consider getting a Nokia this time - in particular I had my heart set on the Nokia Lumia 520 for about a day - but there just isn't enough apps on the Windows platform for my liking, I remember using my partners Kindle Fire when in London earlier in the year and being disgusted at the lack of apps on that piece of kit.  Only Android or iOS have enough apps right now, and I'm too much of a fiddler to be comfortable with the "black box" operation of an Apple device, even though it would get rid of all those times that an app crashes at the wrong moment, or the opportunity for me to accidentally kill my device by deleting the wrong file.  If Nokia would only have some handsets on Android as well, they might have a chance of recovering from their death spiral.

Same for Blackberry.

In other news - spambots are getting better!

I've recently adjusted my blog settings to make it easier to comment again - there's no word verification, because it does put people off, but on the flip side I do get spam.  Lunchtime on Sunday I got the comment below on one of my posts:


Write more, thats all I have to say. Literally, it seems as though you relied 
on the video to make your point. You obviously know what youre 
talking about, why throw away your intelligence on 
just posting videos to your site when you could be giving us something informative to read?

Also visit my blog post: battlefield 4 beta 


This one actually fooled me to begin with, I thought it was a real comment to begin with - I do post videos to my blog, after all.  However two things confirmed that it was spam:
1) Blogger automatically marked it as spam, and;
2) The post they had commented on didn't have a video on it!

Speaking of videos, I've finished my research for my fortune telling video I'm doing tomorrow, so look out for it on my YouTube channel.  As always I'd love some more subscribers both there and on my blog, so do feel free to do so!

Saturday, 13 July 2013

History of my culinary creations

My partner suggested that I do a post on some of the various meals that I've made in the past, so here it is.

Now, I did do a cooking course.  I was essentially taken to Hull College and forced to sign up on a "Can't Cook Will Cook" cooking for beginners course that I did in the autumn of 2009 (I remember the year because I missed the last two weeks due to my son being born).  The reason why I was taken to do the course was because of "the soup".

Unfortunately I don't have a picture of "the soup", but my other half had been making some vegetable soup one afternoon, and left me to finish the soup off.  Now the thing you must understand about me is that when it comes to food, I like to muck about with it and experiment.  Not all these experiments work, admittedly.  But some do - when I still lived with my parents I made a curry that included sausages and the vinegary purple water that was in a jar of pickled beetroot (after the beetroot had all been eaten) and that was lovely.  Yes, the sausages were purple, but it still tasted good.

Anyhow, I decided this soup needed something, and what I elected to put in it was a tin of peas.

The peas overwhelmed the other vegetables, and gave me basically a pea and vegetable stew, which wasn't what I'd been aiming for.  So I added mint sauce instead.

The final product was basically a minty pea soup with an occasional other vegetable thrown in.  If you're thinking of trying it - don't.

So I attended a cooking course, which I have to say was really good.  And from there I went on to make many other creations, some of which I'll touch on below.

The first creation that I remember was my jaffa cake jelly.  Not the most subtle of creations, this was a bowl with twelve jaffa cakes in it, and they were set in jelly.  Very nice although my other half did point out that there was somewhere in the region of a 1000 calories in it.

jaffa cake jelly
Okay - it doesn't look that great.  But we ate it.

The first meal that springs to mind was my evil carrots.  These were created out of necessity, the necessity being that I wanted chips, but I didn't want to chip and cook potatoes (this was before we bought the air-fryer - an amazing piece of kit for cooking potatoes) and I couldn't leave the house because I was looking after my son, and he had chickenpox and so was infectious.  This was on a lunchtime and I was shocked to find that no takeaways delivered before 3pm.  There was one exception, Dominos, but they were very expensive to get one pizza delivered - not so bad if you wanted two but I didn't have the appetite for that amount of cheese, meat and bread and at the time my son wasn't really into pizza (he'll have a little bit now occasionally).

So, I chopped up a load of carrots, coated them in curry powder, and fried them.

evil carrots
Mmm.. carrots?!?

But I wanted to return to my dessert success.  So I got a packet of weightwatchers cookie mix, and instead of making a dozen cookies, I made two.

Two BIG cookies.

Which shape do you prefer?

These were baked on oven trays, so were basically the size of two pizzas.  It took a while to eat them, and needed the aid of a number of relatives, but we got there.

More recently I made corned beef piccadilly masala - that went very well over a couple of meals.

Thinking about that one, I do have a bit of a weakness for vinegar, not entirely sure why, but I do like when having chips to have enough vinegar on them that you choke a bit when you breathe in whilst leaning over them.  (Vinegar in this case obviously must be accompanied by salt).

And just a couple of days ago, I made a curry with a dozen Scottish meatballs, four cubes of frozen chopped chillies, and an entire pot of Mr Huda's Tandoori Paste.

I tried using a plastic spatula to begin with, but the spices melted it.

The meatballs were defrosted, cooked in a pan with the other ingredients, and then baked in an oven for twenty minutes to finish them off.  I mashed them up a fair bit too so that the chillies and Tandoori Paste could really get into them and infuse their flavours.  The Tandoori Paste is supposed to be coated on as a marinade, or a few teaspoons full in a curry, so I wondered if I'd be able to actually eat this when it was ready.  It turned out amazing, with most of it eaten last night with some Uncle Bens Peshwari Rice (that's really nice too - I almost always go for one flavour of Uncle Bens Express Rice or another) and the rest for lunch today.  A sprinkling of grated cheese doesn't hurt either.

And for tea I defrosted a Turkey Curry I made ages ago, and had it with chips and scraps!  Delicious! (but perhaps not overly healthy I admit)

Let me know your favourite cooking inventions, drop me a comment.

While I'm blogging, this is the last call for questions for my fortune telling video that I'm doing on Tuesday.  If you don't know what this is, I'm going to be answering questions about peoples futures with the aid of the Internet, books, and mainly a box of Vitasia Fortune Cookies - apparently they're called Gluckskekse in German?  Anyhow I've got seven or eight questions but I have ten fortune cookies so I can maybe answer a couple more.  If you do have a question leave it as a comment, or email me at mike.raven@gmail.com.  If possible it'd be great to have your name and if you have a blog or website or YouTube channel please include it and I'll include a link in my video.  Thanks!

Thursday, 11 July 2013

The Unsolvable Problem of a Spider in the Sink

I don't know how to resolve this issue.

Earlier this evening, I took the watering can to the sink to fill it up.  Whilst filling it, a previously undetected spider, measuring at the very least half a centimetre in diameter, hopped off the bottom of the can and ventured into the pile of plates and cutlery in the sink that are to be washed.

I need to do the washing up tonight - well, I should do the washing up tonight - but at any rate I will have to do the washing up at some point.  But obviously I need some kind of spider teleportation device that will lock onto the aforementioned arachnid and beam it to a safe location, a location that is no less than seventy five miles away from me.

But I don't have the technology available, or the cognitive capacity to create something either.

Nevertheless, today has been an improvement on yesterday where I managed to give myself an electric shock and hit myself in the head with a eight foot black metal gate.

The other reason today has been good is that I was involved in TeenTech Humber 2013.  TeenTech is an event aimed at educating teenagers in the career potential within Science, Engineering and Technology.  I was an "Ambassador" (distinct lack of Ferrero Rocher though), and I got a school group to take round a vast variety of exhibits that had been set up for the day - the exhibits comprised of all kinds of activities, the ones we experienced included constructing towers, dyeing different materials, document production, building wind turbines and creating a villain for a computer game (in our case it was a vacuum-wielding hedgehog looking for revenge if I remember correctly!).  An extremely busy day but a really good one and hopefully all the schools got a lot out of the day.

Today I finally reached 10000 views on this blog - thank you!  Last night I checked it and it was at 9997, I must admit I was tempted to fire up whatever electronic devices we had in the house and visit the blog on each one, but I did manage to resist. Thanks all.

Lastly, I'm still looking for yet more questions for my fortune-telling video I'm making next Tuesday, so if you have any burning question about your future that you want me to answer, I do have my fortune cookies to hand, so drop me a comment on my blog, or email me at mike.raven@gmail.com

Wednesday, 10 July 2013

Seen the lightning? Listen for the Thunderclap!

I've just set up a Thunderclap.

Thunderclap is a service where you can set up a message that will be sent out by everyone that signs up automatically on a certain day and time.  This way, at the agreed date and time social networks will be flooded with the same message, bringing it to peoples attention across the Internet.  I've signed up to do one celebrating the launch of Firefox OS, a new mobile operating system.  Why not take a look and see if there's something of interest to you?

In other news, my mum's gaming & internet PC has just died, with a puff of smoke.  I'm hoping that a replacement power supply may save it, otherwise it's going to be an expensive job for them to sort out.  I know the PC was a little bit flaky at starting up so my mum had been basically leaving it on 24/7, so whether something overheated as a result I don't know.  I'll take a look on Friday to see.

Update - I still need MORE questions!! Next Tuesday I'm filming a video where I'll be answering peoples questions about the future, telling their fortunes with the aid of fortune cookies.  I've had some questions in, and to be honest I should have been ready for this, but some of the questions are really serious ones, as in life-changing ones - not a problem with these as long as people don't take my answers too seriously!  But if you have any question that you'd like me to answer next week then get your questions to me somehow, either put them as a comment to me here, or tweet them at me @ravenswingthog or email me at mike.raven@gmail.com

Monday, 8 July 2013

Fortune telling - your questions needed!

As I type this I'm on the verge of breaking 10000 views on this blog! Wow!  Thank you everyone who checks me out.

Okay, this is a bit of fun and an opportunity to get involved. What I'm going to be doing on my YouTube channel on Tuesday the 19th of July, is telling your fortune. Anything from "Please tell me if my cat really likes cat food" to "should I take a raincoat out with me tomorrow?" - send me your question about your future, or even just about a question that you want the answer to, and I'll answer the ten most interesting ones.

How will I be answering them?  Well I have a vast amount of literary resources!  Just on my desk I have autobiographies, a rare book by Eric Idle, a Sherlock Holmes DVD, and "The Monk Who Sold His Ferrari".  And of course there's the Internet.

But mainly I have ten fortune cookies.

I may answer your question - but I promise that I'll eat the cookies on your behalf.

So, get your questions to me, either comment here, or tweet them at me at @ravenswingthog or even email at mike.raven@gmail.com and I'll get back to you on the 19th!

If possible, give me a little bit of background colour, not just the question - why you want the answer to the question, maybe a little bit of info about yourself (e.g. name, age, where you live, whatever else you'd like to share) can help me build on the answer given by the fortune cookie.

Sunday, 7 July 2013

Congratulations Andy Murray on Wimbledon!


After so many years, Great Britain has once again won Wimbledon - roughly an hour ago, the World Number Two, Andy Murray, beat the Number One Novak Djokovic in straight sets.  I must admit that I'm not the biggest tennis fan but it's great to see a british winner of Wimbledon at last!  Well done Andy!

What news do I have?  Firstly, I have another guest post up, this time published by Mary Sentoza, a writer and blogger in Canada.  I've enjoyed her works for a while and she's very gratifyingly put up a little piece I've written on the mistakes I've made in my writing adventures!  Do check out her work at http://authorsmuse.weebly.com/ and http://www.marysentoza.com/

My parents have been fixing my grans "magic gate" as they call it.  It's magic because apparently, if you close this gate, it stops the cat from leaving the garden.  Yes, just closing this gate stops the cat climbing over fences, walking through hedges, or even just squeezing between the bars of the gate itself.  My mum writes the story far better than me at http://ravenmagical.blogspot.co.uk/2013/07/working-weekend.html

Obviously - it's really hot today.  REALLY HOT.  I don't really operate well in extremes of temperature, and would be quite happy to spend the rest of the day in a slightly chilly room, with no sunlight.  But hey, at least we had a barbecue and now have an excess of cooked meat.  And this is after my delicacy at breakfast, as you can see here...

Mmmm...  ??

It's chicken, vegetarian chilli, and some cheesy pasta thing, warmed up in the microwave and then cooked up with about a third of a pint of beef gravy.  I ate it.  That's pretty much all I can say about it.

Wednesday, 3 July 2013

New Guest Post - how I met my partner

I have a guest blog up on the interwebs!

A Girl Named Michael, a blog by a girl... named... Michael... has, in her own words, "stalked" me and challenged me to write how I met my partner.  As a result, she's very kindly let me share on her blog the story of how my partner and I met.  Do go check it out!!

A Girl Named Michael

I've just got home from Leeds, I've been at a Green Vision event where I did a Pecha Kucha presentation on Sustainability in Framework Agreements - you have 20 slides on a topic, and each slide automatically advances after 20 seconds so you only have a limited time to give your talk!  It was a bit of a challenge but a great opportunity to try something a little different - thanks to the CKE for letting me talk!

We also held our first AGM for the G4C Yorkshire & Humber Committee.  G4C (Generation For Change) is a construction best practice initiative for those new to the construction industry.  I've been the G4C Co-ordinator in the region since 2010, and it was with some sadness that I've stepped down as Co-ordinator, but I think it's the time for someone new to take up the position - at least the grey in my beard suggests that anyway.  Best wishes to the new Co-ordinator (Caroline from George Hurst & Sons) and I hope to be able to add value to the initiative as a committee member for the year ahead.

On the way home I realised that I hate it when my CD player in my car skips a bit, because instead of the song playing I can hear myself singing instead.  And I really do not sound anywhere as much like Avril Lavigne as I imagine.

In other news, my son continues to get even better at IT.  I left my tablet with YouTube open yesterday morning, he grabs it and starts watching a Spanish Minecraft video.  I've been out-geeked.

Monday, 1 July 2013

Steam Engine Rally

We went to Little Weighton Steam Engine Rally on Saturday.  We like Little Weighton because there's enough stuff there - a load of stalls, a cafe area, beer, steam engines, classic cars, various collectable things, and birds of prey - but it isn't too huge and it's pretty cheap to get in (for me and my son it was £4.50, which at other summer shows in the area you'd be looking to pay well over a tenner) so it's generally a good day out.

Three generations of Ravens all happy - and we hadn't had any beer at this point!

Unfortunately my son was a little under the weather due to having a chest infection, but nevertheless we made the best of it and had a look round, and enjoyed some cake and beer!  I can personally recommend "Holderness Dark" by the Great Newsome Brewery, a micro-brewery a few miles outside of Withernsea in East Yorkshire.  Holderness Dark is a very easy drinking mild, and I'd definitely like to enjoy a few of those over an afternoon sometime.

Also, I have a new video going up on my YouTube channel!  The video is a rant about age checks in supermarkets, and will be available here in about 10 minutes.
TOTS 100 - UK Parent Blogs
Paperblog BlogCatalog