Monday, 29 June 2015

Guest Post - Black It Was!

Today's guest post from my dad regales us of the time he cooked something.  To be fair he does a lot of cooking, and barely on a weekly basis does something ignite.

I burn stuff too - like this chopping board.



A ‘black’ black mind you, indeed picture a ‘black’ black if you will, jet black a-smothered in soot and hidden deep in the bowels of a mine in the middle of a dark moonless, starless night, with the lights out, blackout curtains fitted as standard, doors locked and bolted as viewed by a blind person wearing sunglasses.

The frying pan t’was that sort of black – and the lid of the frying pan was of similar ilk!

I was alerted to the erm ‘issue at hand’ by the smoke and stench of burningness in the kitchen.

Being of sound mind and realising that impending doom was all but upon me in the shape of my wife Christine, I asked her to open the front door to let some air in and closed the kitchen door with me inside and scurried the flaming frying pan outside using a thick towel for insulation.

Note to knee-jerk smart arses everywhere – none of whom are present - I am quite certain, No, the correct thing to do was NOT call the fire brigade, or place a wet towel over the pan of fire.

There was barely 2 gm of oil in the pan – NOT 12 gallons of furiously combusting oil threatening to burn the house down!

Outside the birds sang and early morning sounds wafted gently around, and the over-warm frying pan complete with decorative flames was deposited on my log pile, which I hasten to add had been furiously rained on only the previous day, and was therefore most unlikely to also burst into flames and burn the rest of the estate to the ground.

Hot on my heels of course was Chrissy, hastening to erm, watch furiously over a situation already well under control and exacerbate any undeveloped hysteria, running up and down and associated frenzy.

Yes, the house needed fresh air to chase the smell away, otherwise things were alright.

Oh yes, the pan needed a good cleaning afterwards.




This message is brought to you by ‘Note to Self, Health and Safety Initiative inc.’

Erm, okay, I forgot to turn the hot plate off, it’s easily done.

Feel free to check out my parents mail order business selling all kinds of weird and wonderful magical goodies at

Saturday, 27 June 2015

Guest Post - Taking a web series from idea to launch

Today we have a guest post from Trainer Jodie, a YouTuber and Twitch streamer that I've followed with interest for sometime, TJ's own streams are great fun to watch, so I'm looking forward to the launch of his new Twitch channel as part of the All For Geek Alliance.  On the All For Geek Alliance Twitch Channel ( Jodie is launching a new web show, Corellian Cantina, in the near future - stalk him on Twitter  at for updates!

Taking a web series from idea to launch

           The creative process is an interesting one.  Everyone seems to have their own way to create the things they create.  However, there are some broad guidelines in creating that help to ensure the thing you are creating will be the best reflection of your talent as possible.  So, Today I'd like to talk about the process my co-conspirators and I used to create the newest series on The All For Geek Alliance: The Corellian Cantina.

Step 1: Begin at the Beginning

            The first thing I do when I start developing an idea is ask 2 questions: “Why am I doing this?” and “Why does anyone else want to watch it?”  This makes it possible for me to refine the idea into a series of goals, and helps me to gauge how to improve it as the show continues.

            For the Corellian Cantina, the answer to “Why am I doing this?” was already answered before I became involved.  Elias and Saturnaut wanted to have a show where they entertain people by playing a game they love playing: Star Wars The Old Republic.  After deciding this, they contacted Blair and myself so we could have a full party.  This purpose gave us the ability to define the purpose of the show and lay down some specifics.
1.    We are playing a game we love, so one of the most important aspects of this show will be we all need to be having fun. If this stops for whatever reason, we need to change what we're doing so it's still fun.
2.    We will be streaming it for an audience, and the audience needs to be enjoying it as well.  Streaming it through Twitch would give us an almost real-time link to our audience, making it significantly easier to gauge their enjoyment and make corrections as needed.

            The answer to, “Why does anyone want to watch it” helped us define the format.  Why would someone want to watch our stream vs anyone else on twitch?  What makes us unique, something people can't find somewhere else?  After throwing around a few ideas, we realized there was an aspect of MMO's that we hadn't seen streamed before: Playing on a Role Playing Server.  On these servers, everyone pretends they are their characters instead of just playing a game.  We realized that if we role played our characters during the stream, we would have a very unique show that we hadn't seen before, and it would be a ton of fun. 

            However, we also are fanboys and we will probably have fanboys in our audience, so we would want part of the show where we could geek out about the Star Wars universe.  To do that, we decided that the opening of the show would include latest star wars news and little features we would make about aspects of the universe we really enjoy.  Now that we had a basic idea of what we wanted to do, we could start full pre-production.

Step 2: Define and Refine

            After getting your idea to a pitch, it's time to define and refine.  Start assigning responsibilities, who does what.  Start figuring out specifics, like how long, where people will find it, what technology will you use to broadcast it.

            For the Corellian Cantina, We started setting up meetings and getting down to the nitty gritty.  How long did we want the show to last?  Would we upload previous episodes somewhere and if so, where?  How long would each segment last, and who would be in charge of each part?  After throwing out a bunch of ideas, we refined everything down to the following format:

1.    Each show would start with one of us hosting the show and bringing up any news that came up that week.  The host would rotate between the four of us and our two guest hosts. This segment would last about 20-30 minutes
2.    After getting through news, if we had some extra time, we would air a feature one of us prepared about something we like about the Star Wars Universe, like lightsaber combat forms or what flying the Kessel run in 12 parsecs actually means.
3.    Then, we would start the gameplay portion and the host would lead the story, with the rest of us playing our characters during the stream.  This portion would last around an 45 minutes to an hour.  We would create the entire story ourselves, without relying on the premade story included in the game.
4.    In order to keep to time, we would plan before going live what parts of the area in the game we were going to play, and end the show whenever we get to the end of that section.

            All of this will help us to have a good first episode, which is generally accepted as the most important episode you make.  This is what people will base their opinion of the show on.  But, there is one more important aspect of production that most people forget that makes sure episode 1 is as good as it can be... TEST SHOOTING!

Step 3: Test Shoot, or Go forth and Screw Up

            This is probably the most important part of pre-production, mostly because if you missed anything in the first two steps, you'll find out right here.  This lets you see what, if any, technology issues you're likely to run up against.  It will get you comfortable doing what you're supposed to be doing, and the most important part is it gives you a chance to screw up.  Failing teaches us so much more than succeeding, your goal during a test shoot should be to crew up phenomenally over and over again, so you can learn from each one.

            There are 2 types of test shoots, a Tech run and a dress rehearsal.  A tech run is just that.  You make sure all the technical aspects are workings.  That's everything from your streaming or recording programs, the game itself, and making sure all the people involved understand how to do their part.  This is not fun.  Ever.  It's a lot of starting and stopping.  It's a lot of doing the same thing over and over again, trying to get it right.  As frustrating as it can be, a good tech run with a lot of screw ups makes for a very smooth first episode.

            For the Corellian Cantina, our tech run was a lot of failure, over and over again.  The software didn't work.  The game had some issues loading.  Getting us all to the same planet took some time.  And we had never done something like this, so we had to figure out how to use the game itself to tell the story we wanted.  It was a bit frustrating, but it went exactly the way we wanted and we learned a TON!!!  after it was done, we scheduled the next step: The dress rehearsal.

            A dress rehearsal is a final run through to make sure everything fits together.  In general, you want to treat it as if you're actually streaming/recording.  Those little details that you didn't think about will show up, like when to take a breath, how hard on your voice that funny accent is going to be when you use it for over 30 minutes, etc. and everyone will get a feel for how everything is supposed to work.  This is the time to push through to get to the end, see what doing a full episode feels like.

            As of writing this, we haven't had our final dress rehearsal for the Corellian Cantina.  But, that step will finally cement everything we will need to do the final part of this whole process...

Step 4: The Premiere Episode

            Finally, after weeks, months, or maybe even years of work, it's time to reveal your work to the world.  This will be exciting and terrifying, exhilarating and draining, all at the same time.  Enjoy it, you've worked your ass off!  See how your audience reacts to the show, but don't think the work is over. 

            Once you add an audience, everything changes.  Humans tend to do that.  Look at how the audience reacts to you, and how you react to the audience.  Whether the audience is live or commenting after the fact, they will give you valuable feedback.  And don't be afraid to change things.  Remember your 2 questions, “Why am I doing this?” and “Why does anyone else want to watch it?”  If you find out aspects of the show no longer fit into your answers to those questions, change them!  Let the show continue to grow and evolve just like the people make it.

            I hope you are all as excited about the Corellian Cantina as we are.  We've put a lot of work into it and can't wait for you all to see it.  And I also hope that, by seeing how  I create something, you can become better at creating whatever it is that you create.  Be sure to check out the Corellian Cantina when it goes live later this summer on the All For Geek Alliance twitch channel :

            And feel free to subscribe to the All For Geek Alliance YouTube channel, to catch all the previous episodes once we go live:

            I can't wait to see you there!  And may the Force be with us all!

Thursday, 25 June 2015

And Now A Word From the Crow

I think we are all spending too much time with our DVRs and our On Demand to truly enjoy the finer things on television. The ridiculous commercials that need to be mocked early and often seem to go unnoticed in today’s day and age, and it scares me a little. To be honest with you it is the most important thing my father and I discuss when I go over and see him, and we can really chew them up. I mean you need to picture this in your mind; the new Oscar Mayer commercial for “Angus Beef Selects” comes on. It talks about what “other” hot dogs have in them, and this concerned mom with her spoiled little child sitting at the table as she puts that “All Angus” hot dog in front of him, and the first thing that comes out of my mouth is, “Because even black angus cows have lips and assholes!” My father lost his teeth on that one.

Of course regardless of which insurance company you use for your car, Geico commercials are a “stop the fast forward and watch” event. If you don’t then you really are missing out on water cooler humor, and that could get you shunned at work. At the same time there are some moral parameters to watching Geico commercials too. For example, Eddie Money is on his, God knows how many it has been now, “Fresh Out of Rehab” tour, and it is cruising through my state right now. They were talking about it on the radio, and how (probably paid to say this) they can’t wait to go see the Money Man over at the Hampton Casino. Every person that was standing in that line for that show, in the pouring rain, after hearing how they had to see him, obviously missed the Geico commercial. That one was painful every time it came on and I had to see the toothless old, lisping crack whore that Eddie Money became. Totally painful.

I know there are at least a million people who watch the Super Bowl, just to get their eyes on the newest and greatest commercials, despite the fact that they have sucked ass for the last decade or so. I still say the best ever Super Bowl as was the one with the voices of everyone from “Cheers” as pigeons, chasing down the Nissan to the soundtrack of “Top Gun” so that they could crap on it after it came out of the carwash. Seriously, if you have never seen it you have to look it up. That was of course back when Nissan was doing really good. You would think that they would get the hint, but unfortunately they never got the memo. Now when a car company comes out with a mildly interesting commercial everyone has to sit around and debate whether they were serious or not when “The Green Police” is playing in the background. Oh their serious folks and that’s why the commercial didn’t last that long.

Yeah the real reason people started wanting to skip commercials had nothing to do with not wanting to watch commercials if you ask me. It had to do with the realm of people that take themselves way too seriously. You see a Microsoft commercial and you just want to pluck your eyes out. You see an Apple commercial and you just can’t believe that things have to be dumbed down that much. Google really started closing the gap, just by making much better commercials for Android. If you don’t believe me I am watching some of the biggest idiots I personally know go out and get the new S6 and abandoning their iPhones. If you make a commercial to be entertainment then people will flock to it, and if you make it to be “artistic” like I think Microsoft does (but I don’t know it’s all crappy) or “simplistic” like Apple does (that’s got to be their thing I dunno) then it has all the pleasure of a trip to the Dentist’s office. 

Wednesday, 24 June 2015

Award Nomination Answers

So, Adele Archer nominated me for some kind of award, maybe for being a beautiful blogger...

Or perhaps a Sisterhood of the World Blogger's Award...

Either way, I'm humbled and gratified to Adele to seeing fit to select me to answer her questions.  The rules of the nomination are as follows:

Rule #1 – Thank the person who nominated you. 
Rule #2 – Add the award logo to your blog (steal either logo as you see fit). 
Rule #3 – Answer the questions asked by your nominator. 
Rule #4 – Nominate three other bloggers. 
Rule #5 – Ask 10 different questions of your own.

For my nominations I would nominate Tim Clark of Life, Explained, Jeremy Crow of... well... lots of blogs which have the word "Whacko" in their title, and I'm also going to nominate Gemma Taylor of Attempting To Be A Domestic Goddess, who's been reading my blogs for far too long and still continues to do so :)

And here are Adele's questions, and my answers.

1. If you could only eat crisps or chocolate for the rest of your life, which would it be?

Crisps.  I love chocolate but it gets too sickly after awhile, whilst crisps don't and they come in different flavours.

2. Which superhero power would you choose (flying is prohibited)?

Time travel.  And screw all of that "no visiting your own timeline", I'd be showing up all the time to tell myself what to do.

3. Who was your most embarrassing celebrity crush?

Hm... the Spice Girls? Or Billie Piper, or Sophie Ellis-Bextor?  (Can't believe that I don't have my signed photo of Sophie Ellis-Bextor any more!) Take your pick!

4. Would you prefer to die of extreme cold or extreme heat (you can’t say neither)? 

Can I type neither? Technically I've not spoken it out loud!

If not, extreme cold I think - I understand that your metabolism just slows down and you fall asleep and don't wake up.  Sounds a lot more pleasant than dehydrating to death.

5. Starter or dessert (you can’t have both)?


6. Which ‘Friends’ character most closely resembles you (sorry if this sounds cheesy but this is a real psychological evaluation and will speak volumes about you. Probably)?

Chandler - I try to be funny and I work in an office.  Although I do like to try to be clever like Ross.

7. When you were a child, what was your first choice of profession?


8. What epitaph would you like inscribed on your tombstone?

Come too close and this stone is going to fall right on your foot.

(and the stone would be booby trapped.  Note to future generations: make the funeral itself as cheap as possible and spend the money on a party)

9. What was the WORST book you ever read (if it’s mine, I’ll kill you)?

I honestly don't know - if a book is that bad, I'd stop reading it.  Sorry!

10. What is your least favourite word (mine is ‘moist’, just for an example)?



My questions for Tim, Jeremy, and Gemma are:
1. What is your favourite time of year?
2. What is your favourite place in the world?
3. What is your best memory?
4. What are you wearing?
5. When do you like to blog?
6. What (if you have one) is your middle name - and do you like it?
7. What's your least favourite animal?
8. What REALLY annoys you?
9. Favourite hot drink?
10. Tell me one interesting fact about you that people might not know.


Tuesday, 23 June 2015

Learning Norwegian


Image courtesy of Kurious via a CC0 Public Domain license

I had an interesting conversation a couple of weekends with a group of friends about languages, two of the people there (both non-British) were talking in depth about different languages and their particular idiosyncrasies, and I noted that I am just rubbish at any languages apart from English (and even English isn't my strongest subject!)

This isn't an unusual thing about people from the UK, we're apparently one of the countries in the EU most likely not to speak a foreign language - 61% of us don't speak a second language at all (and if you had said it was 70% or even 80% I would have believed you) and only 14% of UK residents speak a second language well enough to hold a conversation in it.

I suspect that this is down to the prevalence of English - it's one of the most common second languages learned in other countries, and I just don't think that we have the urge to learn other languages because there are good odds that when we do speak to people from another country that they'll be able to understand us.  (For the avoidance of doubt - I don't necessarily think that this is a good thing)

Anyway, ahead of my honeymoon next month when we're cruising around the Norwegian Fjords (not long to go - I can't wait!), I'm attempting to learn a small amount of Norwegian - I do feel that it's important to try to learn at least a few words, at the very least I'd like to be able to say hello and ask people if they can speak English before launching into, what is for them, a foreign language.

To this end, I've been immersing myself in a variety of YouTube videos and channels, and I've been having a great time learning the basics.  I've got a few weeks before I go away and I hope to be able to at least politely introduce myself, buy stuff, thank people and say goodbye by the time I go away (or failing that at least ask them if they speak English in their own language!)

The YouTube channels I've been watching are below, I do particularly recommend "Learn Norwegian with NorwegianClass101", their videos are very good, but they're all well worth a watch.

Learn Norwegian with NorwegianClass101 -
ThatNorwegianGuy -
MazzaazzK -
Michelle Alexandra -

Ha det bra!

Sunday, 21 June 2015

Fathers Day

Pic courtesy of eloisa from Pixabay on a CC0 Public Domain license.
I searched for "Fathers Day" and this came up.  Beer in the snow - a must!

Today it's Fathers Day.

I was surprised to discover that it's Fathers Day both in the UK and in the US (and quite a few other countries), we tend to have different dates for days such as this, so it makes a refreshing change to be able to make a post that a reasonable amount of people will recognise, rather than thinking "Why is he blogging about this today?!?"

Nevertheless, for those from countries that it isn't Fathers Day (according to Google Analytics, that would be the 5.5% of visitors I get from Romania, Germany, and Australia - welcome), do feel free to put this blog in your bookmarks and read it on the appropriate day.

I tried searching for details about the history of Fathers Day on the net, and rapidly found various websites arguing about the origins of Fathers Day - it might date from around the start of the twentieth century, after the Monongah mining disaster, whilst other websites argue that it is actually a Pagan ritual, which may or may not have been absorbed into Christian beliefs (and seem to argue far more amongst themselves as to whether this makes it "good" or not - I don't have problems with any faith people follow, however that also means that I don't have a problem with something actually being a Pagan ritual as opposed to a Christian ceremony, and in addition I don't necessarily think that arguing over which faith a certain event originated from, probably several thousand years ago, is the best use of anyones time)

I do think that there is something to be said for considering the meaning of something today, as opposed to its origins possibly thousands of years ago - for example today the meaning of Fathers Day for me it's spending time with my family, hopefully not doing too many chores and taking some beer round to my dad.  Dad is probably well known to regular readers for his brilliant guest blog posts, one which I particularly like is an older one about his experiences at the bank.  I've been forced to deal with the banks a fair bit recently due to wedding and honeymoon stuff, one particular anecdote I have is for the holiday flagging of debit cards.

Both myself and my wife have debit cards with Santander.  No problem with Santander themselves - they've been very helpful in some ways, in others they're as good as any other bank, and their 123 account has some nice features.

So, I went in to a branch to warn them that I would be going on holiday and that my debit card would be going with me.  I was told that I would have to ring their telephone line (which I could do in-branch) and tell the call centre.

Now, just taking a minute to analyse this, because it's something that we all take for granted, why is it that the people in the branch can't handle this?  Why is it that when it comes to our debit/credit cards, we have to ring the call centre?

I've had a similar issue before with HSBC when they've identified a fraudulous transaction (which is absolutely 100% excellent work, well done HSBC), they rang me and then attempted to get me to prove that I am who I say I am - even though they rang me, not the other way around - I then went in to the local HSBC branch because I'm not comfortable speaking to this random person who rang me up and refuses to prove that they are from my bank, but all that the branch staff can do is ring the call centre themselves.

Anyway, I spoke to the person at the call centre, who interrogated me in great detail as to exactly when I would be leaving the country, where I would be going, and when I would be returning (I admit to you all that some of the timings I guessed - I'm going on a ship, and I'm not exactly sure when the ship will be sailing, never mind the moment when it will leave British waters).  At the end of the process he told me that they might flag transactions as suspicious anyway, and if they did they'd ring me to check that I was the person using the card.

Meanwhile, my other half rang them, and was told that she didn't need to let them know as we weren't going outside of Europe!

Dad, me, and the dude at Little Weighton Steam Engine Rally a couple of years back.

Anyway, if you're celebrating Fathers Day, either as a father, or doing something for your father, I hope it goes well.

Saturday, 20 June 2015

Water, Burritos, and Train Drivers chatting in Selby

So, I was in London yesterday.

The day started off with a touch of bloody-mindedness.  Before getting the train I stopped in at WH Smith to grab a bottle of water.  I selected my favoured bottle (the cheapest one I could find, which was fairly small - good to put in my bag), and went to the checkout to pay.  The guy at the checkout, kindly trying to save me some money, advised me that the bottle of water would be £1.49, and I could buy a copy of the Telegraph for £1.40, which came with a free, bigger, bottle of water.

I'm afraid my bloody-mindedness reared its head at this point, because:
a) I had already spent several seconds of my life choosing a bottle of water, and I didn't want that time to have been wasted, and;
b) I don't read the Telegraph.

I don't actually have anything against the Telegraph, except that it's a broadsheet i.e. really big when you open it, which is fine at home on a weekend when you can spread it over a large table, but totally useless when you're under some sort of space restriction (like being on a train).

The train journey both ways was fine, I got some work done which was good, the meeting in London was useful and interesting (although for some reason there was a toilet roll jammed between two of the legs supporting my table - I never did work out why), and, most importantly, I got to King's Cross station in time to get a burrito.

There's a place called Benito's Hat at Kings Cross station in London, I understand that they have a number of places open across central London but I've only ever experienced the one at Kings Cross. The food is absolutely excellent with the burritos being the best I've ever tasted - whenever I see burritos on the menu at places I'm eating I always try them, but they're never as good as the ones at Benito's Hat.

(In fact in general Kings Cross is a great place to get fed, I'd recommend Wasabi and Leon too)

I also got a free bottle of Lipton's iced tea from someone them handing out on the way to the train, so I was very pleased.

An excellent way to start a train journey.

On the way back, one of the stations stopped at was Selby.  Selby is a town roughly in the middle of Yorkshire, situated such that you can probably get to most cities within the county from Selby within an hour.  It has some decent shows on at the Town Hall, and I bought a car from Selby.  That's pretty much everything I know about the place.

Actually, there is one other thing about Selby.  At Selby train station, the train drivers stand outside their trains and chat.

I don't know why this is so remarkable, but it is.  I never see train drivers out of their trains just chatting anywhere else.  At smaller stations the trains never stop, and I guess at bigger stations the drivers perhaps have a break room or somewhere that they go when taking a break?  I have absolutely no problem with them having a break - indeed I doubt that it is up to them anyway, it'll be that the train has got to Selby (probably from Leeds, stopping at all the little villages on the way), and it isn't due to return towards Leeds for a while.

Thursday, 18 June 2015

Guest post - All Our Yesterdays

My dad guest posts today - thanks dad!


Thanks to LloydTheVoid for the image!

Mrs Forman was something of a character and in many ways a product of times long passed. She lived in the village where my wife grew up. Her husband was a mechanic and she wasn't, he was a man and most obviously she wasn't, she did the cooking and house cleaning, and he didn't - and all of this was perfectly normal, especially when we are talking 1950's and rural areas.

However Mrs Forman's 'differences' went beyond the commonplace, she drove a car! This was quite an achievement in those days and she was almost a celebrity, even if she never turned right and reversing was simply out of the question.

You see in ages long passed one could get a drivers licence simply by applying for one. It was deemed that providing the paperwork was filled in correctly then there was no need for tests or any such nonsense - you had a licence, so therefore you were clearly fit to drive!

It was an advantage that she lived in the country where few vehicles were seen on the roads and children would point and stare when a car passed by, but even so, journeys with Mrs Forman were something of an adventure.

Car parks were particularly difficult, a parking space simply had to be capable of being driven into and out of, or they were completely ignored and the whole journey would needs must follow a well known and safe pattern - there were many, many places you simply couldn't go to!

My wife's mother once accepted a lift to the nearby market town with Mrs Forman, and thereafter made sure she never accepted again. Some things are just too weird I guess to repeat.

Check out my parents business at for new age and magical goodies!

Tuesday, 16 June 2015

Relative Understanding

UPDATE: Previously the link to Craig's video didn't work - sorry! Hopefully now fixed.

Today is a bit of a different post - it's a bit of a philopshical bent.

I discovered this website by Craig Freshley the other day - - which has quite an interesting theory about perception and about how easy it is for me to understand something else.

The short version of the theory goes "What you see depends on where you sit. Understanding is always relative and never absolute." - the medium version goes on to explain how a persons level of understanding of something else depends on how close it is (both physically and relative in time i.e. something from today vs something from a century ago), how close its volume & duration of existence (i.e. it's easier to understand something that lives for a hundred years than a radioactive isotope that survives for a fragment of a second) is to the person, and how the person experiences that item. For example, you can understand heat better than you can understand a radio wave, because you can sense heat, whilst a radio wave you can only understand through the use of a tool such as a radio.

I'll freely admit that I was cynical about the theory, it seemed far too simple and, well, basic, to work.  I expected to be able to punch all kinds of holes through it.

But I couldn't.

Sometimes - just sometimes - something really simple works.

This video about truth by Craig is also really interesting.

For the rest of this post I've (with Craig's permission) copied one of his posts, titled "There is a lot we don't know" which is a sentiment I wholeheartedly agree with.


Let’s face it. We cannot know everything. There are limits to what we can understand.

I suspect that some of you reading this already disagree with what I have written so far. Some of you think so highly of human ability and human potential that you are apt to believe that actually, we really can know everything. If not now, then someday, we will unlock every mystery of the universe.

I don’t think so.

There is nothing in our human experience to support such an assertion. It is a fun and very uplifting and very self-serving assertion, but when you look at the evidence it’s ludicrous. Our history has been one of continuously discovering new things; continuously realizing that what we thought was true, isn’t. Even within very specific defined fields of study, no one has ever been able to claim that everything is known, ever, about a particular subject.

First of all, our intake portals are limited. We can see, hear, taste, smell and touch. That seems like a lot. We intake vast amounts of information through those portals. Yet how do we know what we are missing? I know that we have developed incredible technology to translate things to fit our senses and to magnify things to fit our senses, yet there might be huge amounts of data that we are missing. How would we know what we are missing?

Second, the universe is really, really big and really, really old. Stuff out there is a long, long way away from us spatially and chronologically. Even if we haven’t experienced it first hand, we are all familiar with the image of a ship leaving port, sailing out to sea, and getting smaller and smaller until disappearing altogether. Our ability to understand what’s happening on the ship’s deck is pretty significant when she’s at rest next to the pier on which we are standing, but as the ship pushes away from the pier and heads to sea our ability to understand what’s happening on deck decreases. And before too long, we haven’t got a clue what’s happening out there. There is a point at which we can’t even see the ship or know where it is or even that it’s still afloat.

So too with knowledge. As things become really far away in space or time, relative to us, we know less and less about them. Things really, really far away: we know nothing. As things become really big or really small, relative to us, we now less and less about them. Things really, really big or really, really small: we know nothing.

For me there is an edge of knowledge in all directions; only so much I could possibly know. It happens at the point where the scale becomes so large or so tiny that it is impossible for me to study and gain more knowledge. Now I know that the edge moves due to technical advancements and due to the sharing of knowledge. Still, there is an edge.

Although we are apt to claim, “If we can’t detect it, it doesn’t exist;” actually, it’s just that we can’t detect it.

I believe that things do exist beyond our detection. A lot of things. And I challenge anyone to disprove this assertion.

Thanks for reading - for more about the theory of Relative Understanding, head over to

Saturday, 13 June 2015

Guest post - National Demon Week

Here's a guest post from my dad Graham about an idea that he had for "National Demon Week".  It might be worth making into a video...



Can you spare, just £3 a month to keep a demon from the pits of hell safely bound in the Raven Dungeon? (okay, under our bed)

For those who are hard of thinking, this is indeed a joke! It was inspired by an advert on the TV which asked people to sponsor a dog by making a small monthly donation.
The doggie would be so pleased, it would send you a photo of itself and write you letters every month … Erm, no, I don’t think so. Some dogs are remarkably intelligent but I believe that letter writing is beyond them. We do actually support some animal charities and we are confirmed dog lovers, but this particular advert made me wonder if there wasn’t an element of ‘scam’ going on. You would need an awful lot of ‘just a few pounds per month’ to pay for that TV advert, and did this amazing letter writing pouch actually exist at all?

In a flash the idea came to me, how about asking people to sponsor a (completely non-existent) demon from the pits of hell? For as little as a few coins every month, we would keep the little begger constrained with terrible words of power and bound within a magic circle (lesser banishing pentagram etc). If it didn’t behave then dreadful and awesome names of god would be intoned with erm, dreadfulness and thing! (apparently, demons don’t care for this)

Send a few extra £ and have your demon tortured!

As with the remarkable doggie, your own sponsored demon would write to you every month. Here’s a sample letter –

SSghhutthffff fant gamon wrath psssss – nice human, pretty human, how niccccce of you to keeps me here in the terrible darkness – Tthhrrfffg like you human, yous if kind to me – thrrrrrgh know where you live kind human, ahhhhh, soon your soul will be mine! Zimph thlank sssss - can wait, soon you holiday in Nether hells with me, the lava pools full of sweet music as souls swim frantically for the shore.

Your loving fiend Tthrrfffg x x x

Well, if you’re going to make a scam, make it a good one!

Feel free to check out my parents mail order business selling all kinds of weird and wonderful magical goodies at

Thursday, 11 June 2015

The Wedding

So, I got married last Saturday.

It was an awesome, awesome day, absolutely perfect - we were married at Lazaat hotel in Cottingham, which was a great venue and the staff there were really helpful.  My wife undertook a huge amount of planning for the big day, which made it run like clockwork and I just have to say really could not have gone better!  A lovely ceremony, brilliant food (the hotels' handmade profiteroles are worth a mention - generally hotels buy in ready made profiteroles, but these guys make literally hundreds of them), great guests - thank you to all the family and friends that made it on the day or sent their congratulations, I got to do a speech (I do love being the centre of attention), my wife is wonderful and looked even more amazing than she normally does, my son looked very cute in his suit, so many people came and helped doing stuff on the day too... it was just a brilliant day.

Plus, I keep discovering new bits about the evening celebrations, mainly due to the fact that I drank far too much on the night, and whenever anyone says to me "Hey Mike, do you remember when xxx happened?" only then do the memories start to come back - there was a lot of dancing going on that evening.

My mum wrote a brilliant blog about the wedding, if you want check it out at

In other news, I slept with socks on.

For some reason for the last week or two the skin on my hands has been really dry, no matter how much skin cream I keep putting on, so my wife hit on the idea of literally coating my hands in cream, and put socks on to allow it to soak in.  My hands are actually healing a bit now so that's a good sign.

The good news is that the guest posts will be continuing for the near future, supplemented by the odd post by myself - we're going away on honeymoon at the start of July (a weeks cruise around the Norwegian Fjords) so fortunately the stack of guest posts people have kindly provided will keep the blog going in my absence.  Feel free to send me more! :)

And finally I heard today that one of my travelling books (#tbook18)is headed for Chicago, it's really nice to hear that they are on the move!  For more Travelling Book Project stuff go to the website -, I might take the opportunity to distribute the last couple of travelling books I have when I go away next month.

Wednesday, 10 June 2015

Guest Post : You Can Choose Your Friends...

Due to being busy this summer with a wedding and honeymoon, a few people have kindly volunteered to step up with some guest posts.  Today we have a brilliant post from the lovely Adele Archer from Adele Archer Writes - a writer, blogger, lots of other things and all round great person.


You Can Choose Your Friends...   

I’m very pleased to have been asked to do a guest post on the fabulous Mike Raven’s blog (seriously, I can’t quite understand why people keep asking me. But until they begin to realise that I’m a fraud, I’m going to make hay while the sun shines!). When I was brand ­new to blogging with zero visitors and zero views, I posted this particular piece on my own blog site for about thirty seconds before I realised that it probably hit too close to home (literally) and swiftly took it down. But I have this crushing need to be honest lately and I hated that I had to hide my feelings away so what better way to keep the post alive than to give it a home on a blog where it’s less likely to be read by Archer family members? I truly am an evil genius *steeples fingers with a cat­like smile*. I really hope Mike Raven is going to be okay with this...

You see, I did a shameful thing recently. I de­friended my sister on FaceBook. ​ My sister. My own flesh and blood. But one too many smart­mouthed, offhandedly snide comments pushed me over the edge.

It was a chance remark (made on FaceBook for all the world to read) about my up-­and-­coming writing career (y'know, the one that I don't really have but have stupidly decided to pursue anyway). I don't suppose she honestly meant anything by it, but it's her insensitivity, her heavy-­handedness, her bluntness. I'd just had enough. I suppose I'm easily offended. Alright, I am​ easily offended. But I don't consider myself the type of person you need to walk around on eggshells with. I understand humour, I understand a good put­-down (I grew up with those and am rather partial to them if well­timed and amusing). But some people are laughing ​at you, not with you.

She was always a difficult sister, the odd one who didn't quite fit ­- every family has one of those. Why are families like that? You were born to the same parents, you had precisely the same upbringing, so what happens along the line to make siblings so utterly different? How are we so altered that if we weren't related, we probably wouldn't even be friends? Nature vs nurture; both are important but I can't help but feel nature is stronger. Even as children, we didn’t understand one another. She was strange. Her humour was strange. She also had a temper that could be triggered at the drop of a hat. I used to think she had a split personality before I grew up and found out what that actually meant in psychiatric terms. But even today, if I fall out with her in a spectacular way (which happens occasionally), she can go off and not speak to me for half a year then reappear like nothing has happened.

Today I miss my sister who died (my other sister; there were six of us kids, mostly girls, it gets confusing). I always miss her, of course, but the enormity of her death was so crushingly terrible that I've learned to put her out of my head for the most part just so I can function. Isn't the human brain a peculiar thing to be able to do that? To shut down a part it can't cope with? But I can't put her out of my head today; I've lost a sister and a best friend and that's never going to change. And I want to take comfort in the siblings I have left, that's all. It just makes me sad that one is a disappointment. Perhaps I'm a disappointment to her too.

Anyway, it doesn't do to be maudlin (she says, as her stomach ulcer gnaws away at her insides), you just have to keep plugging away and work on the relationships you've got left.  Maybe one day I'll be able to fix the relationship with my weird sister. Maybe one day we'll be the best of friends and go for coffee or to the spa or theatre and ring each other for weekly, girly chats. Maybe she’ll even forgive me for this blog post. Maybe.

A bit about Adele:

Adele Archer was born in East London in the 1970's, the second youngest of six children. Growing up in a council flat in not the most salubrious part of town, she was always a dreamer - and her imagination was the best escape of all. Adele was writing books from the age of eleven - but inventing stories in her head long before that.

Adele spent the majority of her working life as a trained nurse but decided that writing novels could no longer just be a secret hobby. Life was too short for 'if only's'.

Her first novel, 'International Relations' was released in 2015. Adele writes contemporary women's fiction with an amusing (albeit slightly bitter) take on life and romance. She writes for strong, witty women who want to read about strong, witty women (but witty men would totally LOVE it!!).

Adele now resides in the West Country with her wonderful husband and two amazing daughters. In her spare time, she writes songs and sings, reads voraciously and crams in as many period/costume drama shows as her long-suffering family will allow. She would wear a bustle and a bonnet on a daily basis if she could…

Adele’s Blog: 

Adele’s Amazon Author Page:  

‘International Relations’ by Adele Archer  

Monday, 8 June 2015

Guest post - Educational Spot

To take the quality of my blog posts up a notch, here's my dad with some educationalism just for you.


Educational Spot.

The following is a brief and fairly random collection of common, unusual and bizarre sayings and expressions to be found in the English language.

Saying: “Don’t put all your eggs in one basket.”
Category: Commonplace amongst semi-educated persons in the UK (ie anyone over 40).
Rating: ‘Unlikely to cause offence’.
Meaning’ – it may be advisable to avoid ‘gambling’ all your endeavours, wealth, energy etc upon just one idea or project. If the project fails, then you will have lost everything.

Saying: “aut viam inveniam aut facian”
Category: Uncommon, occasionally found amongst better educated individuals and ‘smart arses’ wishing to impress by using Latin.
Rating: ‘Confusing’.
Meaning: “I will either find a way or make one”

Saying: “Yeh can’t make neither arseholes nor watercress out of ‘em!
Category: Country/rural.
Rating: ‘Robust’.
Meaning’ (allegedly) someone is behaving in a strange manner – irrational, unseemly, certainly surprising.

This latter saying is brought to you courtesy of now late father in law Tom, who was in life a builder by profession and therefore possessed unusually (common) communication skills.

Feel free to check out my parents mail order business selling all kinds of weird and wonderful magical goodies at

Saturday, 6 June 2015

Guest Post: Marriage

As I've got a bit of a busy summer (marriage and honeymoon awaits!) a few people have kindly volunteered to help me out with a few guest posts.  Today Tim Clark of Life, Explained, one of my favourite blogs of all time, has stepped up, and I felt it appropriate for Tim's blog to be posted as I'm getting married (unless something has hideously gone wrong!).  Thanks Tim!



Hello, Mike Raven, the owner of this blog is off on an extremely dangerous, potentially suicidal mission.  He is getting married.  Knowing the end is potentially closing in can be liberating, invigorating, and providing a sense of freedom, and fearlessness that is overwhelming.  Since Mike is feeling so cavalier about life, and living, he has agreed to let me write a blog post.  Hey, what does he have to lose?

It makes sense to write about marriage, since that is why I am writing this. Besides, I am kind of an expert, I am married after all, and have been for over twenty five years. To the same person, I can’t think of her name right now, it is right there, I can see it. Just kidding, I know her name.

Marriage is a sacred pact, a commitment, and it shouldn’t be joked about, too much, but a little sense of humor is a healthy addition to any sacred pact.  I am fairly certain the Egyptians would not have tried to conquer the world so many years ago if they had not taken everything so seriously.  A few jokes might have kept things civil enough to save a lot of lives.

Oh, sure they tried, a little.  Here is a typical joke from that time period.

“How do you stop a Nubian from charging?”
“Build a series of defensive fortress to the south, right along the border, and fill them with heavily armed soldiers.”

Obviously, the ancient Egyptians were expert builders, look at the Pyramids, and the Sphinx, but lacked the comedic timing and subtle word play to be truly successful. Marriage needs a little comedy to stay strong. A couple needs to negotiate, as well, give and take these are important skills.

Let’s look at the Star Wars trilogy, sextuplet, uncertain number of movies. If the Empire and the Rebel Alliance could have sat down over a nice breakfast, or lunch, and each side would have given just a little so much pretend tragedy could have been avoided.  Think of all the make believe lives that were lost as make believe cities, and fictional planets were destroyed across immeasurable fictional distances.  Think of all the money, trillions of whatever monetary units are used by the Empires and the Rebels, could have been used to make things better on Hoth, or Alderaan, or Kamino.  You see how important communication is to a marriage.

All kidding aside.  I raise my coffee cup and toast your successful life together.  I hope everything is sunny and wonderful for you and your family.

Thursday, 4 June 2015

Guest post - Bloody Luxury

My dad Graham has soared to the challenge of providing guest posts for my blog by providing a huge amount of posts - thanks dad!  Here's one of them.



(overheard conversation in which an un-named older, generic friend/relative speaks of her experiences during birth)

Ha! … now when I had our Mavis, I was in labour for 36 days, screaming in agony I was, the pain was nothing short of torture, nothing short of torture I can tell you. It was a blessed relief when the doctor hit me with a mallet and knocked me out, he said the screaming was keeping him awake. 1,714 stitches I had, ripped me open from one end to the other they did, it felt like I was being torn open by wild animals, and our Mavis still had to be cut out of me because she was entangled in my Pontrimetapodemioun.

Fourteen gallons of blood I lost giving birth to our Mavis, the nurses agreed they’d never seen such a bleeder like me before, and they ran out of blood, had to mop the floor they did and pump it back into me to keep me alive.

Not that I’m one to complain, as you well know, but that wasn’t the worst bit! Oh dear me no. As soon as they’d put Mavis on life support and cauterised my bleeding, they noticed both my legs were turning green – Omtropophilitis I told them, mark my word it will be Omtropophilitis – not that the doctor took any notice of me, he said I was probably just trying to attract attention to myself.
He was most put out when both legs fell off. Fifteen months of unspeakable misery it was, re-growing new legs thanks to that experimental frog venom, the pain was indescribable and you know the side effects?

Oh the side effects, I had a terrible urge to eat flies.

But I survived it all and now I can walk again, although in constant throbbing pain you understand. Not that I’d expect Mavis to appreciate all that of course, she’s young, so has no idea what misery it is to give birth.

And you tell that to the kids these days … and they don’t believe you! (well, not Mavis anyway!)

Gentleman readers will of course recognise this was an entirely female conversation, which no man would be able to understand.

Feel free to check out my parents mail order business selling all kinds of weird and wonderful magical goodies at

Tuesday, 2 June 2015

Guest Post - Deflate Gate

Today we're featuring a guest post by Scotty Stackpole of - thanks for the blog Scotty!


Deflate Gate

This year revenues for the National Football League will be somewhere just north of $9 billion, which means the league remains the most lucrative in the world.

Wells, Wells with that kind of pocket change available to him, it is clearly understandable why the prominent attorney Theodore V. “Ted” Wells, Jr. who attended Harvard Business School and Harvard Law School,was able to conclude in his report on the very sensitive issue of football air pressure that Tom Brady,quarterback for the N.E Patriots football organization, was “at least generally aware” of wrong doing regarding the psi (pounds per square inch) of footballs used in a professional football game. Mr. Wells also concluded that “it is more probable than not” that Tom Brady-and on and on he went. I would have more than happy to have been that detailed for $100 and a cheeseburger lunch!
This report brings back memories of a very sad moment in my life. I had decided to propose marriage to my girl friend and decided that this would be a very effective approach:
”Sweetheart, it is more probable than not that I am deeply in love with you,will you marry me?"
She responded by saying ”I am at least generally aware of my feelings for you but they are this time inconclusive.”
She went on to be an attorney. No,only kidding!
This is my personal conclusion on this matter. The NFL (Now Fantasy League), the media, sports writers, and anyone connected in any way to this tangled web that has been weaved, should make available to the fans and general public a statement of gratitude to the New England Patriots football organization and especially Tom Brady for enhancing their financial status since this entire matter will be and already has been a source of tremendous revenue.
Think of the possibilities, newspaper articles, magazine articles, hats, t-shirts, anything in any way that can be connected to all of this will make financial fingers quite busy for months, even years to come. Certainly this will carry on well after Super Bowl 50 which I predict the Patriots will win.
Thank you for your attention and I will soon be releasing my investigation on basketball pressure and density.

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