Wednesday, 30 July 2014

I can't think of a title

It's been a fairly chilled out day today, I've been off work as it's my birthday, and spent the day going to the gym, having a spot of lunch, a nap, and playing on the computer, so it's all been pretty good.

On the Travelling Book project front, I'm going in to Radio Humberside in the morning to talk to them about the project, which I'm really looking forward to.  Not sure if I'm going to be live or recorded but at any rate I'm really grateful to them for taking the time out to find out what the project is all about.  Hull College Student Union have also been really positive in promoting the project, so big thanks to them also.

I don't really have any news, but wanted to say that the Travelling Book Project campaign ends in a few days, so if you do want to support the campaign, please do so over at and if you want to find out more about the project go to

Apart from that I'd recommend that you keep an eye on Tim Clark over at Life, Explained, he's currently gearing up with computer hardware in an effort to beat me at video production - to be honest I don't think he needs to try that hard, bearing in mind the quality of my videos!  But it's all good fun.

That'll do me for now - hoping for some cake in the not too far distant future!

Monday, 28 July 2014

The shot is fired...

In my last blog post I mentioned how Tim Clark of Life, Explained has kicked off a video production death match between the two of us.  Not being content with being the superior blogger, Tim is also looking to win on the video side as well, and started off the war with a very worthy animation about President Dawg.

Well, I have video editing software too Mr Clark, and here is my response!

Be warned - this video does include what some people could interpret as singing and dancing.


In other news, the Travelling Book Project is entering its last week of funding before we move on to the next phase - making and sending the books out!  If you don't know what I'm talking about, get over to our new website now, find out all about the amazing international phenomenon of the Travelling Book Project, and please do consider sharing the project with your friends, and perhaps even supporting the project via our Indiegogo page.  Thanks!

The new website does appear to feature a death star, so all I can assume is that my design skills are equivalent to a nine year old geek.  Which is probably about right for my mental age.

Thursday, 24 July 2014

I was going to write a blog post, but...

I made a website instead.

It's the new home of the Travelling Book Project, as the campaign for the project will end in 11 days (I can't believe how quickly time is going - almost halfway!) and I need somewhere to be the home of the project after the campaign ends. will point to the new site in a few hours, but for now it still takes you to the Indiegogo campaign.

Actually, I do have something to blog about - I bought a rechargeable vacuum cleaner, as I need to go vacuum somewhere where there isn't electricity.  Had a look at the instructions when I got it back, and I'm very relieved that I learned from the instructions that you need to not only plug the vacuum into a power socket to charge it, but that the socket needs to be turned on as well.

Plug the adapter into a power socket AND turn the power on?!?  Easy tiger, almost lost me there.

I feel so relieved now that I know that.

Finally, Tim Clark over at Life, Explained has seen fit to challenge me to what he calls a "Death Match of Video Production".  I'm looking forward to it!

Monday, 21 July 2014


I quite like a market.  At a market you can often get some cheap goods, perhaps with slightly questionable logos (anyone else own a pair of "Adibas" or "Mike" trainers?), but nevertheless inexpensive.

Now, I don't know if this is a international phenomenon, but the markets near me tend to have a particular feature for one type of seller.  See if you can spot it.

People with fruit market stalls will shout their deals out.
People with vegetable market stalls will shout their deals out.
People selling meat meanwhile... have a microphone and speakers.

I don't know why meat sellers at markets get to have a microphone and get to blare over the entire market "I'M NOT GOING TO SELL YOU THIS LEG OF LAMB FOR TWENTY POUNDS, I'M NOT GOING TO SELL YOU IT FOR TEN POUNDS, I'M GOING TO SELL YOU IT FOR FIVE POUNDS AND THROW IN FOUR PORK CHOPS!!!", but they do.

And they don't even just use it to advertise their goods.  Whole conversations go on over the microphone.


And if they aren't getting enough custom, they'll pick you out as you walk past.


It's enough to make you want to stay at home.

Quick update on the Travelling Book project - funding is now up to £135, which is great, I've had some brilliant support from various places, I've now bought a domain name (for about £2.50!) - currently takes you to the campaign page, but the plan is that, should funds allow, I'll have an actual website set up here that people can visit to keep track of books.  We're one third of the way through the funding round, which finishes on the 4th of August, as always I would really love people to check out the campaign, share it with your friends, and if you'd like to support the campaign, do head over to the campaign page and anything is greatly appreciated.  Thanks!

Saturday, 19 July 2014

Happy Lucaria!

I'm ambivalent about this morning.

On the one hand, I'm a little rough.  I was out on the town last night, making merry, and today I'm paying for it a little bit.  It's the middle of the morning and I'm still in my pyjamas, waking up.

On the other hand though, it is the weekend, and generally things are pretty good - the Travelling Book Project is doing reasonably well (check it out if you haven't already), I should say thank you to the Watt Club at Heriot-Watt University for publishing an interview about the Travelling Book Project, and I'm keeping my fingers crossed that some more promotion of the project which I've been working on will develop.  The campaign for the project ends on the 4th of August, so do check out the project before then and if you'd be willing to share the project with your friends, or even support it via the campaign page, it'd be hugely appreciated.

Historical note of the day: July 19th is the first day of Lucaria, a festival of the grove held on July 19th and July 21st by ancient Romans.  Unfortunately little information about Lucaria survives, and indeed even in the latter years of the Roman Empire knowledge of the festival had faded.  It is possibly a celebration of a battle between Romans and the Gauls, where a group of surviving Romans hid in a grove, or it may have originated earlier as a way of regaining the favour of gods and spirits when forests were cleared.

At any rate, to celebrate, here's a photo with a tree in it.

Apparently it's somewhere near the British Trust for Ornithology.

Happy Lucaria!

Wednesday, 16 July 2014

The Travelling Book Project - Update #1

So, my Indiegogo crowdfunding campaign for the Travelling Book Project went live Monday night, and to be honest I was a little worried that the response that I'd get would be somewhere in the region of zero.

However, it is not the case!  Hurrah!

I've so far received 14% of the funds towards my £500 target, which is a great start, and the campaign appears to be getting a fair bit of attention, from some places that I wasn't expecting, which is brilliant.  It's been getting a good few views, but I think that I may have made a error initially with the perk levels set.

So - I've added more perks in, I've reduced the cost of a lot of perks, and I've added a load in, so now if you live in the UK (sorry if you don't, but international postage is pricey!) you can get a book in your hands for as little as £12 instead of the previous £20.  Hopefully the wider variety will entice some folk!

Me handing the first and so far only Travelling Book to my son.  You can almost feel the tension as I wonder if he's going to start ripping the pages out.

I am going to repeat myself from my last post I'm afraid - it's absolutely critical for me to get the word out about this campaign as far and wide as possible, if you do think it's a good idea (check my last post for a recap) please do stop by the campaign page and share it with your social networks, the more people that hear about the campaign, the more people become aware of it... it's all good.  Thank you for your help.

Monday, 14 July 2014


I have, as of about ten minutes ago, launched my very first crowdfunding campaign.

The Travelling Book Project, which I wrote about last time, appears to be quite popular.  As a summary, Travelling Books go from person to person, with each person writing in the book a little bit about themselves and their lives.  It's a brilliant way (I think!) of connecting with other people globally, being creative, and taking part in a bit of an adventure (and who doesn't secretly want to take part in an adventure!)

Originally I had planned to make five books, and just send them out to people that was interested, but very quick it became clear that more than five people would like a book, and as much as I'd like to, I can't make all of the books that people want for free.  Plus if we're going to have a good number of books (which I hope!) ideally I need to spend time, and quite possibly money, on tracking the books, perhaps by a website set up for the project.

So, I decided to set up a crowdfunding campaign, with people able to fund the project, and in return get their own book (or go for some other perks listed).

I would hugely appreciate you taking a look at the campaign page, and sharing it with your networks.  I've got three weeks to raise as much funds as possible to make the project as big and as successful as possible.

Do expect regular updates here, and on the campaign page.  I hope we will be raising a glass in a few weeks to a fully funded project!

Thanks :)

Friday, 11 July 2014

The launch of the travelling book!


Today I launch a new project.

Have you ever wanted a little bit more excitement?  To perhaps do something a little unusual?  Preferably in a way that gives you something interesting to talk about, but without too much effort, time spent, or outlay of money!

I love books like Yes Man, and Are You Dave Gorman, where people go off and do something slightly unusual and odd, for no real reason.  If you're not familiar with what I mean, Are You Dave Gorman talks about a drunken wager that forces a guy called Dave Gorman to track down and find fifty four other Dave Gormans around the world.

But, the problem is of course that I don't really have the ability to up sticks and travel all over the place doing something random, as much as I'd like to - I do have a family (which I love very much), and a job that generally requires me to show up at a particular office at least a few times a week, and I'm sure that most of the people reading this are in exactly the same boat.

So, I've thought of a way that I, and you that wants to take part, can get involved in a slightly odd quest.

The Travelling Book needs you!

the travelling book
The Travelling Book.  Currently not travelling.  So  just a book really.

I've got a notebook, and put in the notebook a little bit of information about myself - where I live, what I do, a few photos, that sort of thing.  And the plan is for me to mail this book to someone else.  They write a page or two about themselves, where they live, anything cool, exciting, or interesting that they might like to say.

And then they mail the book on to someone that they know, for them to do the same (ideally asking the person beforehand if they want to get involved!)

And this goes on and on, until when the book is full, the last person will mail it back to me, and I will scan the book and put it up on the internet so we can see where it travelled.  This way, you can take part in a slightly unusual quest, and all you have to do is write a page or two about yourself, maybe stick a photo or two in, and mail it to someone else.

The book isn't too big so hopefully it won't cost too much to mail - it weighs in at about 350 grams, and I'm hoping that it won't take years and years for the book to be filled and to come back home.  I fully expect it to be at least a few months, maybe even a year or more, but hopefully I'll still be living here when it comes back!

As I say, I've already done the first entry, I've talked a little bit about where I live (Hull in the United Kingdom), I've sellotaped in a couple of photos - I've used really big sellotape so that the photos don't come loose, because hopefully this book is going to go far and wide and adventure for a while.

Now, this is how you can get involved.

I'm making five of these books, and I need people to send them to, people that are up for putting a bit of information in, and sending it on to someone that they know.

If you would like to get one of these books, email me at with your name and whereabouts in the world you live.  On Saturday 19th I will randomly pick five people to send a book to, who I will email to ask for their mailing address. We're doing something else now.

Do please be aware that whatever goes in the book is going to be for public consumption, names, email addresses, twitter accounts, whatever, it's all going to be scanned and uploaded, so don't put anything in the book that you wouldn't be happy with people on the Internet seeing!  When the book comes home I will email / tweet at people that wrote in the book so that they know it made it back okay and can read the scanned copy of the book.

One other thing that I need you for, and something that you can get involved in even if you don't fancy having a book sent to you - why wouldn't you though?!? - I think that the books need names.  Now I could certainly name them myself, but I'd either just call them book number 1, book number 2, and so on, or I'd give them rubbish names like Gandalf or Colin or Simon or something.  Not that Colin isn't a brilliant name for a cat or a garden shed, but not for a book.

So please do also get in touch with your suggested book names, email, put them in the comments, tweet me at ravenswingthog - whatever you prefer.

So that's the plan, let's see what happens and if you are up for this then thanks for taking part! I'm also doing a video about this on my YouTube channel (as I type it's still being put together ready for uploading overnight)

I really hope to find five people that are up for receiving a book, where you send it on to is entirely up to you, it could be to your next door neighbour or it could be another country, it's all good!

UPDATE: Here's the video if you want to watch it...

Thursday, 10 July 2014

Supermarket clothing

Allow me to put a little background to this rant.

I am slightly overweight.  There's no way of getting around this fact, indeed it is core to todays essay.  I am putting in effort to get into shape, as I due have a wedding about 11 months away, but as things stand, I am overweight.

Of course, being overweight, you need to buy clothing of a certain size - usually labelled "XL" or perhaps even "XXL" on occasion.  For more formal clothing, waist sizes for me are currently in the region of either 46 or 48 inches.

Now ideally I'd love to go to some top-end clothier and purchase some really nice clothes, but I don't have that much money to spend (and am a bit of a cheapskate anyway) so it isn't unknown for me to pop to the local supermarket and check out the clothes there.

And it's odd.

They have some clothes that fit me - it depends what I'm looking for.  Work shirts tend to just about get up to my size, but no bigger.  However casual shirts and t-shirts I can get, and indeed in sizes far too big for me, but not jeans or trousers, which seem to top out about 40 to 42 inches.  And shorts I can get in a suitable size (and again in sizes far bigger than me).

Is it assumed that those of us, that are of a stockier build, don't have jobs and spend our time sat at home in a t-shirt and shorts watching TV and drinking beer?  I certainly have to say that I'd be happy to spend time lazing around getting drunk, but I do have a job that requires me to look at least vaguely smart and I really don't think a pair of shorts and a can of lager would fit the bill.

Finally, I have something planned.  Something cool and exciting that, fingers crossed, I hope to launch this weekend.  It's going to involve other people (it could be you!) taking part in a fun and exciting project.  Stay tuned here and also on my YouTube channel for news and to find out how to take part.

And before I go - my look at Facebook in the future (via Google Glass) has been quite well received, thanks to everyone that's watched it and if you'd like to see it, here it is.

Sunday, 6 July 2014

Facebook related multi media extraordinaire

I'M PLEASED TO ANNOUNCE... sorry, I left caps on.

I'm pleased to announce the launch of this social media explosion of posts and videos between myself and Tim Clark over at Life, Explained, about Facebook.  Yes, we've crossed the Atlantic Ocean (electronically) and social media channels to hit everyone everywhere about everything that we wanted to write about Facebook.

Facebook, in a world where every day a new app is announced or a new piece of hardware launched, is ten years old.  Ten years ago there wasn't iPhones, or any other smartphones (at least not in a format that we'd recognise), no app stores, again no real tablets...

Mike Raven cycle track
And my hair was bigger

I apparently joined Facebook in October 2007, which roughly coincides with me getting together with my current partner, so I suspect that the relationship had something to do with me starting on Facebook.  And apparently my first status update was "pondering life" which is relatively deep for me as generally the only thing I ponder nowadays is if I can get a quick nap in before having to do something.  Or it was possibly me attempting to look deep and philosophical to a girl that at the time had recently completed a course on Philosophy.

Knowing me, that seems likely.

Facebook has changed a hell of a lot over time.  I remember when I first used it that the thing that stood out to me was how easy it was to use.  When setting your profile up, you could pretty much click on anything you wanted and type whatever you wanted and it'd accept it. is currently the second most visited website in the world (after Google), and shows little sign of losing its dominance on the Internet, with almost 1.3 billion active users, and that number continuing to grow.

Recently they've been hit by the news that they carried out psychological research on users without clearly telling them, and I wonder if I was one of the people selected.  I vaguely remember going on Facebook one day, and being asked me how happy I was on a scale of one to ten - I thought this was a slightly odd request, but I answered it and carried on reading my timeline.  I must admit that I can't say that I feel particularly upset or violated if Facebook did indeed involve me in their research (although if they do want to give me some compensation then of course it had a very real effect on me and I'd like payment via electronic bank transfer please), that said I am generally fairly oblivious to things that upset other people - I recall staying in a hotel room in Majorca one night, and seeing something scuttle over my suitcase.  It scared me for a moment, then I decided that I wouldn't be capable of doing anything about it anyway and so went to sleep.

I like sleep.

At any rate, this is indeed a multimedia explosion of Facebook-related social media stuff, so catch my video about the future of Facebook (which includes a genuine pretend video of what life will look like through Google Glass with a Facebook app) and get to Life, Explained for Tim's stuff there.

I also recommend the very straightforward way that Tim demonstrates, via the medium of animation, a comparison between Facebook and the world.  Thanks very much for stopping by if you've traveled over from Tim's excellent blog and I hope you've enjoyed today.  If you did, perhaps you may be interested in a warning about a vomit -repelling mattress.  Or, if you'd like to hear more about Facebook, here's some thoughts on its logical evolution.

Saturday, 5 July 2014

A tip for basket wearing

I discovered today that straws are absolutely vital if you want to have a drink whilst wearing a washing basket on your head.

Where has this picture gone?!?

Not much news today and I'm aware that the blog has been quiet, but I am planning something hopefully half decent tomorrow (maybe Monday but hopefully tomorrow) in conjunction with a fellow blogger, so do stay tuned, it's going to be launched across multiple social media channels - including my YouTube channel, - and I've spent the evening editing 90 seconds of video to make it as good as possible (aka not as bad as it was) for release.  Fingers crossed we'll bring a smile to a face or two.

In the meantime if you've not read it yet, my most popular recent blog post was this one about the warnings I found on my sons mattress.  Do enjoy.

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