Monday, December 29, 2008

Some simple messages

As the New Year arrives I wanted to share simple but effective messages, that are delivered in a more unusual fashion, which in itself gets your attention.
Perhaps the next time you are giving a presentation you should think how to get that message across; afterall its not JUST facts and figures is it...

another thought provoking video

This is a presentation of sorts which may just change your view on life, forever!!

@ Yahoo! Video

Benjamin Zander is the conductor of The Boston Philharmonic and is well known for his orchestra's passionate performances. Rosamund Stone Zander is an executive coach, family therapist, and private practitioner who brings enormous psychological experience to enhancing human behaviour. They have written a fascinating book in which they alternate as storytellers in sharing principles and examples in the form of compelling stories in their lives.

Each of the 12 chapters in the book THE ART OF POSSIBILITY communicates an idea - a new way of opening up possibility within your life, providing an evolving and additive view as the reader progresses through the book.

First, the Zanders talk about “It’s all invented” where humans tend to focus on very few things, missing most of what is going on around them. By shifting focus, you will see many opportunities for the first time.

Second, measurements can cause us to focus too narrowly on where we are today and encourage “scarcity thinking” - the glass is half empty. The Zanders encourage thinking about the glass as half full, citing the well-known perspective of optimism as being empowering.

Third, if you assume that people will do well and help them to see how they can, they will. Mr. Zander gives every student an “A” in his class, and simply requests that the student write a paper to tell what they will do to deserve that A. This gets the students focused on excellence, and takes away the tension that gets in the way of real results.

Fourth, as a mindset, think of your role as “being a contribution - you are a gift to others”. How could that change what you do – to focus on the external perspective?

Fifth, lead from any chair. This is a reference to involving everyone. Benjamin Zander asks his players to write down how he could improve practices and performances, and pays attention to the suggestions genuinely viewing leadership from all levels

Sixth, follow rule number six - “don’t take yourself so seriously – to lighten up”. Examples show, how in taking this on in organisational settings, a new culture can emerge, enabling fabulous creativity and new ideas.

Seventh, be present to the ways things are. Many of us are disconnected from reality. By getting back to it, we can see more possibilities.

Eighth, give way to passion. Going with your strong feelings allows you to be more authentic, and to go to new heights of accomplishment. Allow yourself to let go.

Ninth, light a spark. See you role as creating a spark of possibility to be lit that others can see. Act as a catalyst for yourself and others.

Tenth, be the board of the game you are playing. Instead of defining yourself as a playing piece or even a strategist in the game you are playing, see yourself as the framework for the entire game.

Eleventh, create a vision that generates “frameworks of possibility” for others and work on enrolling them into what is right for them.

Twelfth, tell the WE story. Focus on being inclusive and considering what is best for all. Move from I to We, from independence to interdependence.

There MUST be something amongst those possibilities you could utilize or work on - personally I like No. 3 & 6.


Saturday, December 27, 2008

Evolution of my computers

Below you will see where my interest in computers started way back in 1986!
My first computer was a Spectrum 128k (well I say mine it was actually Punch's but we shared it).

I think we kept the stores afloat in joystick sales as we broke that many. The games took like 5 minutes to load (it felt like a lifetime) and the games were on cassette tape (which made copying very easy - my first line into pirating).
The graphics were okay and a step up from the likes of pong.

I then moved onto the Amiga - now things REALLY got interesting.
The machine for me was a dream and I soon started looking into what could be done with this baby, and A LOT was possible!
I started a group called THE LOST BOYS and worked with many groups on the scene back then such as FAIRLIGHT, ULTIMA, TRADERS DREAMS, and many others.
I actually got published in a Amiga Magazine but it wasn't glamorous, it was for a disk I compiled in which when inserted you simply pressed any one of the 'F' keys to install a different virus onto someone's computer - the magazine thought I was some kind of anarchist!?!?

Then I upgraded to the Amiga 600 and then onto the 1200 - where I stayed for a while, great piece of kit.
Back then the World Wide Web wasn't really big at all, so we all used a B.B.S. (Bulletin Board System) where one computer would call another only and you could chat or pass across data etc, slow but effect none the less (very costly).

Then it was time to get a PC (as the Amiga scene was dying, shame) so I got a 386!!!
Windows 3.1 before they had a nice Graphic User Interface it was horrid; even the Amiga's was better. I upgraded that to a 486 and then onto a Pentium tower unit instead of a desktop.
At this point windows 95 had been produced and that then upgraded to 98, 2000 and XP: it really went from strength to strength, until Vista that is!

In the process of updating several computers and numerous formatting (sad fact), I acquired the Playstation! Boy what a console, I was never a console fan until this point there had been several out Nintendo being the most popular.
Then the PS 2 was launched and again huge leaps had been taken and was a great time killer for me.

Then came the Xbox and again managed to blow me away great console - not so keen on the controller though. Never did get the Xbox 360!? I did get a Gamecube but again didn't really like it.

As I was travelling alot I decided it best to buy a laptop - at this point they too had come along way, so I bought a Packard Bell. It was okay for it needed to do.
Sony released the PS3 which of course I had to get - which also meant upgrading the TV - but that was worth it - again great console, although I don't think they have exploited it to its maximum capability.

Then I had a dilemma - I used a MAC when I worked with Voluntary Action Leicester and at first hated it - but I came to REALLY prefer it over the PC. So when it came time to upgrade my current laptop what to buy!??!
After a few months of fighting with myself I opted for the Macbook Pro and I am VERY happy with my choice. Excellent piece of kit easy and simple, nice operating system, great support for software (my first major concern) but all put to rest after getting and using it.

After having such a good experience with the Mac I decided that an iTouch was my next gadget to have - and if you don't own an iTouch or an iPhone I suggest you get one - (iPhone Nano soon to be released so maybe hold off on the iPhone).
But essentially its a PC/MAC in the palm of your hand!!!!

Considering where we were about 20 years ago things certainly have come along way and continue to do so.
This year for Christmas I am now the owner of a Wii and for the first time I can actually say its a Nintendo product I like, great concept, nice console the games are ok - but more innovation required im tired of seeing Mario and Sonic in ALL Nintendo games!!!

So here's to the future of computers and games! Below is just a few pictures of the past, enjoy ;)

Thursday, December 25, 2008

So this is Xmas....

Well its been an interesting year, so where do I go from here.... ....good question keep 'em peeled to see!

So, this year my blog has had over 3,000 new visitors and nearly 5,000 returning visitors which is nice; someone is obviously enjoying following my life or stumbling across some random posts.
The one thing that seems to get the most hits is about losing weight; why are we SO crazy to loose weight fast!!?!?

Folks seemed to have come far and wide, lots from Spain, America and the UK, but also from South Africa, Bahrain, Kazakhstan are just some of the remoter areas that have logged on to my site.

As 20% of the readers/viewers were people searching for 'Vaughan Town' and came across my site, should I get commission??

Dear readers will be aware Christmas isn't my favourite time of year, but I decided to really make an effect and bring a typical English style Christmas to Spain.
You know what they say about best laid plans... ...well their right! My package from England didn't arrive, so NO Xmas pudding, NO mince pies, NO Xmas crackers, NO stuffing for the turkey and worse of all NO SNOW!

But determined I plodded on (little donkey) and made my own stuffing from scratch! Yeah, you heard me! And mulled wine and all the trimmings - although I must say it simply isn't the same in Spain. The simple things you take for granted and would expect simply couldn't be found (sage for example) even a potato masher!?
As per normal we had enough food to feed the street, makes you wonder why we feel the need to do some much?

Onto the presents, I got a Wii and the crazy Rabbids game - what does that say about me?? Not sure but it is fun. As for Sandra, I got here a digital camera and the Singstar games, and a little something put away for the 3 kings (Spains Xmas - 6th Jan), for Ariadna she got clothes of course and China I sent her an electric guitar and amp, hope she likes it!

It's weird how the people you think would wish you a Merry Christmas don't, and people you don't expect to, do!!?!?
Christmas is ALWAYS a time for unique moments (good or bad), the key I guess is to treasure the ones you have and share them with the people that matter the most.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

iPhone Nano?

Steve Jobs does a disappearing act from APPLE EXPO 2009!?!
Rumours of a brand new product the iPhone Nano!!!

But that age old argument is still going on MAC vs PC, so who is the victor??

Watch below and see for yourself - excellent video!

Friday, December 19, 2008

Last Vaughantown of 2008

This week started off with the train ticket company losing my ticket, not the best start, then in trying to fix the problem, VERY nearly missed the train; it was about to pull out of the station whilst we were sorting the problem.

The trip was uneventful - no one trying to steal my luggage! In fact this time it sat next to me. Around about half way to Madrid we emerged from a long dark tunnel to wonderfully white snowy fields, then into Madrid - dull, rainy British weather, how sad!!

There was a noticeable difference this year in the Xmas decor in the streets in Madrid, the atmosphere and even in the stalls in Plaza Mayor - last year they were full of novelty items, wigs, masks and much more, this year not so much: in fact I only bought a Santa hat!

Although there was a lot people walking round with umbrellas stabbing folks in the head - I got attacked 3 times, surely by now with all the rules and regulations on Health and Safety umbrellas should be classified as offensive weapons?! (especially the broken ones)

Anyway enough ranting, this week at VT is Christmas week, so sketches and stuff have a Christmas theme where possible. We sang the 12 days at Vaughan Town, Winter Wonderland and karaoke was a mix of Christmas Carols and Karaoke Favs.
Instead of Quemada we had mulled wine; its SO nice.
I did my 50 dance routine which nearly killed me - the last time was 3 months back I think! I'm going to work on another variation for next year; be warned!!!

Sadly one individual didn't really gel with the group or program so left early, but apart from that no issues although the Quiz didn't go down as well as I hoped (oops), in general everyone had a good time and it was a good finish to 2008 we nearly managed to see in 2009 as the party went on and on!

We also had SNOW!! Which was great but sadly didn't seem to last too long.
That's about it - have a good Christmas and a wonderful new year

You can of course find the photos by clicking below
Vaughan Town - Gredos - Program 104

Friday, December 12, 2008

Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays and Feliz Navidad

Well as this was the moment Ariadna came into our lives officially, I thought it apt that we would take this opportunity to say Merry Christmas to all our friends in the world and even to those we've yet to meet.

This will be Ariadna's first Christmas and she is the best gift we could have for Christmas; although the iTouch is a close second ;)
We have had a busy few weeks as you can guess, and poor mom is feeling more and more as the days go by - hopefully Christmas will give her some rest; I'm cooking!

Sadly I have to work next week, so when I return I hope to find Ariadna walking, talking and ready to work!
(well perhaps not just yet, she's SO cute!!!)

Below is some photos of Ariadna's first 2 weeks; enjoy
Ariadna's Album

There is nothing more worth stealing than a kiss from a sleeping baby!

Thursday, December 04, 2008

New Beginnings

With the new year approaching and a new addition in the family, I thought it time to give my website a facelift; so it too has a new look.

It's now a nice, fresh, warm inviting blog page easy to navigate and hopefully better to read.

I hope the upcoming year is as exciting as this year has been - obviously the highlight being Ariadna!

I look forward to writing more soon and who knows maybe I'll get MY Christmas wish ;)

Monday, December 01, 2008

The lighter side of Christmas

Whilst looking for some Christmas fun I came across these amusing cartoons

and another

and Achmed returns with Christmas Spirit

Friday, November 28, 2008

Mother is the name for God, on the lips and hearts of all children

^ ^ ^ That is a beautiful quote from The Crow, this pregnancy was not like the movies though - "ok now one big push"; cut to scene mother and baby clean and happy together.
After what seems like a lifetime, I am pleased to say that Sandra has given birth to Ariadna, a guapa little girl!! (she has blue eyes too)

Both Ariadna and Sandra are fine. The baby was tiny 2.71kg and it took 6 additional days over her due date, 18 hours of labour and a cesarean to get her to arrive. I have just returned from spending 24 hours at the hospital and around 10 of those hours actually with Sandra.

I am glad that both are well and doing better. I do have a strong issue with the treatment at the hospital however. A little information goes a long way and being kept for hours at a time with nothing to go on only causes anxiety and problems.

I don't understand the approach that nothing is communicated. OK, so my Spanish isn't up to the level of understanding complex issues, but nothing was said even to Sandra's mother; I simply don't get it, it wasn't like the problems were that big. Things were indeed slow and baby was smaller than expected, but open dialogue would have helped us ALL to understand what the issues were.

I recall when China was born the midwife told us what was happening and when and what to expect and I was even with her ALL the way, from conception to delivery; I cut the cord that freed China, but here no such luck!

So China you now have a baby sister and I would like you to see her rather than just in pictures, so I will see what I can organize with your mom, in the meantime be a good girl kisses.

Anyway I need a shower, food, drink and SLEEP!!! Enjoy the pictures ;)

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

HaPpY BiRtHdAy

Hey China-girl
Happy Birthday! I bet your really big now; it would be nice to have a up-to-date photo of you or better yet, see you in person!

I am going to see if you can come over to Spain to spend some time here and get to know Spain a little and also your sister/brother.

I'm happy you liked your present and I hope you had a good birthday in the end ;)
I miss you so much and time seems to have flown by - I'm sorry you are caught in the middle you know I am always here for you as I always have been.

Love you lots and lots
Dad xXx

Monday, November 24, 2008

Got Your BACk

I have just seen (what I think) a wonderful application, that you can download to your iPhone or iTouch.

If you frequent the bar, or just like to have the occasional drink, then a new iPhone application has Got Your Back.
As a matter of fact, that is the name of the application; except it is spelled BAC (as in Blood-Alcohol Concentration).
With this application you will know exactly when you should call a taxi.

When you first launch the application, you'll enter some personal information, like age, weight, and gender, so the application can calculate your BAC correctly.

The main display shows four drinks on a table.
You can change the type of beverage by double-tapping and selecting a different one - the icon will also change.

Each time you drink a beverage, you drag the icon off the table and onto the screen.
The BAC, Carbs, Calories, and number of drinks will be updated in the top-left corner of the screen. As you add drinks, these numbers will increase.

The red line across the screen indicates the legal limit - when you're above this line, a new button will appear called "call a taxi." When tapped, this button will launch the Maps app and search for taxis.

It would be useful if you could input a number for a designated driver, that way you don't have to fumble through your contacts or call a taxi.

OK, so it won't stop you drinking and driving but anything towards that goal I think is a good thing, and I speak from personal experience!

Got Your BAC is available from the Apple Store for $2.99 (US), or HERE
Remember, the best thing to do is to not drink and drive but if you are going to I encourage you to download and use this app - Christmas is a time for indulging, but at least do it safely.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Under pressure....

Here at Vaughan Town we have had lots of fun (as usual), but this week I was very aware that back home my girlfriend was a ticking time bomb!! (waiting to have our baby).

The Spaniards did a wonderful job as did the Anglos, it was a nice small cosy group lots of variety in personalities and very professional in their purpose to the program; which was marvelous.
The one key memory for me was the fact that laughter filled the air on a daily basis, which was really nice.

Being a smaller group, I did a magic show on Tuesday and allowed the Spaniards the night off. However the sketches they did do, they got involved with wholeheartedly and they went down well; everyone had a great time.

Karaoke was a blast as the party, Spaniards rocking the night away to the wee hours of the morning.

I also had the pleasure of sharing the week with 2 veteran Anglo's Ompal & Cynthia which was wonderful. Ompal you need to write a book about your journey through life, it would be a best seller!

Well my Spanish friends dont let the experience end here, keep in touch with each other and keep learning - Beeeeaaaaaches!!

I'm currently working on the Christmas program and have been in my free time, and its coming together nicely so far. As usual if you have any ideas or input its always gratefully received.

To access the photos click the picture below

From Vaughan Town - Gredos - Program 101

On a personal note -
China thank you for calling it was nice to hear your voice, you sound like you have a grown up LOTS! I'm really happy you liked your present, I have a nice idea for Christmas for you! If your mum will let you have it ;)
I miss you more than I can express in words and think of you constantly
Love Dad x

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

The real cost of war

Well at the moment all you hear on the news is 'crisis' yes there is a crisis coming. In English a recession - which I fear will become a depression as time goes on. It has only just starting to rumble but I predict next year a roar is coming, and it is then when we will feel it most and maybe for a long time to come!

We got involved in a war which has cost more than anyone thought - the loss has been great, not only financial but also family and friends.

Here in Spain there have been several big companies (GlaxoSmith Kline, Ryan Air, Nissan) making sweeping cut backs which means job losses which in itself leads to hardship.
This at the moment is manifesting itself in small riots which I have a feeling may culminate in a national riot as more people get frustrated and annoyed with the economic situation we are all facing.

Whether you like it or not, agreed with the war or opposed it - hold on tight, because we are all going to pay the price.

A while back my options seems limited for my future and I very nearly signed up for a long period in the armed forces, now I'm glad a friend talked me round and a opportunity arose.

Here is a very real look at what should have been!

The question is what did we really achieve or gain?

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Cold, damp and wet - are we in England?

Sadly this week in Gredos I saw the first obvious signs that winter is upon us.
Snow on the Gredos mountains, mist, fog and of course rain.

However that didn't dampen the spirit of the program. Mayte was back at the helm and yet again did an excellent job. As for the Anglo's I knew about half of them and the Spaniards about a third, so very familiar faces everywhere I looked which was nice, but this also presented another challenge for me as I do like to do new things, but between them all I think them have seen everything I have?!

Either way everyone got a chance to do something and get involved in some way or other.
The Karaoke was a success and the party went down very well too; sadly the food didn't!!
We had several people wanting to go to town for dinner which is simply ridiculous; the food issue MUST be resolved ASAP, if I see another fish I'll scream!

As for the party - be Jesus, I thought it would never end, one more Spanish song, one more English song one more group song, lol - but hey they had a ball, literally!
A brief escape from the hotel was appreciated and all in all I think the week was enjoyed by most.
I have to commute back and forth now as I no longer live in Madrid - but it does offer me some time for peace and quiet, alone time - which has its benefits too.

Click the picture below to see the photos of our week together
Vaughan Town - Gredos - Program 100

Saturday, October 25, 2008

This is Halloween

This week was Halloween so I made the most of this theme by using it to add a bit of extra spice to the weeks events.

I wrote some Halloween plays and we sang an edited version of the 12 Days of Christmas called the 12 Days of Halloween, which was fun!

The Quemada was perfect for this week and afterwards we held ghost stories in the dark which was a nice change; although it started off slowly.
My magic had a darker twist to it too, which took me back to my old days of performing the more Bizarre magic; it was a lot of fun and folks enjoyed it which made it worthwhile. The Anglos got to read 'The Raven' by Edgar Allan Poe - Spaniards click the name to see the poem in full.
or check out YouTube for a variety of people reading it - the Vincent Price version is good ;)

I finally got to put a play into use, after over a year from when I wrote it and shelved it. As it had never been performed it was good to see the hard work had paid off and now was the time to put it to use and it worked well - especially Dracula!
The party was a Monster Mash with Halloween songs built in to keep the atmosphere undead!

It was good to see such wonderful people giving so much yet again and willing to do just about anything - thank you all for making my job even easier ;)

From Vaughan Town - Monfrague - Program 133

Monday, October 13, 2008


Today my brother would have celebrated his 30th Birthday, sadly he was taken from this world by a drunk driver 12 years ago; the week before Christmas, so obviously this is hardly a fun time of year for me.

It's strange to think had he still been here what would have become of him?
What would he be doing? With who? Would he be married? Have kids!?
All these questions are of course redundant but it doesn't stop one thinking what may have been.

For those of you that don't know him and for you too China, your uncle Stephen or Punch to me was a very quiet slim long haired young man, I always seen him in a band or maybe something to do with computers - I got him into computers along time ago and he almost become as fascinated by them as I am.

Punch loved Queen and UB40 and his favourite film was The Crow - may give you an idea of his darker side. He never really got the chance to blossom which was a shame.
Sadly I was so keen to start out on my own life that I didn't spend as much time as I should of with him, of course now I regret that wholeheartedly!

One story I will share which was not long before the last time I saw him -
Punch had moved to Leicester and came back to visit, I was living in Telford at this point.
He told me how dangerous it was in Leicester and that he 'HAD TO' carry a knife (this was before knife crime was so bad, but it was beginning) anyhow, I explained that it was pointless - not the knife it was VERY pointy! But the fact he had to carry one, either he would get into trouble or have it used against him - he's tall, slim (nothing to him really) and far from violent.

He tried to continue his arguement at this point I said to him that actions speak louder than words, and told him put his knife where ever he was going to keep it - and then attack me; for real!
He put the knife into his pocket and then removed it and went to come at me, at this point I pivoted on my heel and did a spinning kick into his chest knocking him flying into the Christmas tree behind him! Harsh I know but really I wanted him to know that he was playing a dangerous game, and trust me when I say I really did pull my kick and didn't give it my all.

Luckily he took the point and decided against carrying the knife; so I managed to save him from one danger but not the other - I had always told him whenever he needed me I would be there and everytime I was, but the one time I REALLY needed to be there I couldn't and that hurts.

The track below is one I chose for punch's funeral and it was more for the fact as I said one of his favourite groups and mine and also the message behind the song - we still had much to do, only now it was upto me to live the life for us both.
Since this point I have indeed crossed many rivers as I promised and continue to do so.
Should you be looking down on me from time to time I hope you are happy with how much I changed to become a better person and the fact I'm trying to live a better life.

The one thing I do recall is how everyone kept on doing what they do, I wanted to scream at the top of my lungs at them to stop and take notice of what had happened, what I had lost - lesson: the world does go on regardless.

Tuesday, October 07, 2008

Doctor Doctor...

This weeks program was full of Doctors (dermatologists) which was a comforting feeling, fortunately we didn't need their professional side.

The week was packed with interesting things for people to talk about and do.
Obviously a lot were geared towards the medical profession, and I adapted a sketch based on a Fry and Laurie sketch concerning Doctors, which was very enjoyable to perform; well done Jose Luis.

It was typically challenging for all participants regardless of their levels, but they conquered their fears and managed to understood clearly by the Anglos; so well done!
I guess I will get to see some of you again and I look forward to doing so.
The karaoke was a hit and so was the party, getting out of the hotel on Thursday was welcomed too.
The presentations however just seemed to go on and on and on - and if I had let them, ON!!!
Richardo you still have a presentaion to finish!

Vincenc thank you for offering me your heart ;)
All in all, a great weeks work well done. So no complaints my end.

Click the folder below to access the photos of our time together
From Vaughan Town - Gredos - Program 97

Wednesday, October 01, 2008

Good things in small packages

This weeks group was very small on 21 people. The weather is starting to turn here in Spain now but this group I must say was a breathe of fresh air!

Very professional on both sides, engaged at every opportunity and really had fun.

It was also nice to see so many familiar faces back to join us - of course this meant for yours truly some extra work to ensure they got to see something new and hopefully interesting and I know they did, so mission accomplished!

I also did a presentation on 'Magic' that seemed to be enjoyed by all, which was nice.
As for the Quemada & karaoke, well the Quemada was actually drinkable - as ALL the alcohol was burnt off (oops; note to self 2 bottles ALWAYS!) Not having the alcohol normally left in the Quemada may of stunted the karaoke, but it didn't, people still found the courage to sing which was great.

For the remainder of the week we had a very focused group which made things move along very nicely, even thought they had repeated early on they still found things to talk about, sadly we were not able to venture to the castle as lack of cars.
The party even though a small affair was enjoyable and photos speak for themselves.
It was a pleasure to met such wonderful people and I look forward to seeing you in the future, you know you will return ;)

Phrase of the week: Is very curious!

Just as normal the photos of the week can be accessed by clicking the photo below
Vaughan Town - Monfrague - Program 129

Saturday, September 27, 2008

A new dawn?

As you know I have worked for Vaughan for one and a half years now. In that time gone through some changes myself. But someone who has undergone and undergoing changes is Rob a fellow MC, and boy what changes he's making too.

If you have ever had the pleasure of Rob (and many have, just kidding) you will know the kind of person and lifestyle he was living, but a recent change (a lady) seems to of had a profound impression on him and brought about several chances - when you seem him now he is like a new man, no really you may laugh but its true.

The bohemian he once was is no more and now instead a respectable young man stands in his shoes - dont know if Rob knows that!?! So I ask that you send him well wishes and encourage him to keep up the work; as we all know, we need a little help from our friends.

On a further note - his creative juices have been poured into this project along with another he has yet to unveil - which I have seen and look forward to seeing more of!
But check out his current project and why not become a fan on Facebook by clicking this link.

Fan site on Facebook - WITHOUT A PADDLE

Monday, September 22, 2008


Sorry different kind of Gizmo anyway I was bored (surprise surprise) so I went on the search for some weird and wonderful gadgets for my new toy and just look at what I stumbled upon!

JUMBO EARPHONES - actually their speakers

and for all those lonely hearts out there,
talking heart mouse

Made by MiniStatements, the "Mini Desk" looks good enough to drive. The entire desk is constructed from what looks like a real Mini with its top chopped off, interior gutted, and left door panel removed. It retails at a whopping $4,400!!!

This laser gadget projects a virtual keyboard on a table or other suitable material, and then interpret your finger movement and pass them on to your PDA or whatever you have it connected to.
Virtual Laser Keyboard

You'll never miss a song even in the bathroom with Atech's "iLounge hybrid toilet paper dispenser/iPod dock". The iLounge supports all iPod models that have a dock connector and has an integrated USB slot for the Shuffle. Speakers are hidden in the dispensers arms with navigation buttons located conveniently on top for easy access.

New York Fashion week is in full swing and there is news of a new laptop!
Yes, once again fashion and technology have merged. This year HP have teamed up with Vivienne Tam and designed a gorgeous Chinese Red laptop for you to feast your eyes on.
It has a 10.2 inch screen and is decorated with peonies. It's all about fusing fashion and style with tech.

hp lallap.JPG


So I made the switch from PC to MAC and no I'm not regretting it. I have been a longtime supporter of the PC and love the many and diverse programs you can get for it.
I have also had the pleasure of working with a Mac (back when I worked for Voluntary Action Leicester, as a grants officer), but that was their Mac not mine.

However with the wonderful Vista (said tongue in cheek) installed on the PC laptops I thought maybe its time to migrate and Mac's are very good computers. So I bought myself a new Macbook Pro and very nice it is, simple clean effective and everything I can do on my PC I can do on my Mac - this wasn't quite the case all those years ago, but the Mac has come along way indeed.

The style and format of its programs are wonderful too matching it sleek design and simple to use layout.
Sadly I think like most that PC's rely too much now on the fact that they were the universal standard and as such people will follow - maybe like Christianity??
But the Mac being the new breed people are starting to move over and take it seriously I know a lot of professional web designers, Music Producers and Graphic Artists use it and swear by it, but now the average man is starting to move over too.

The one off putting thing could be the cost - but consider this - with a standard laptop you are generally buying the computer not Vista it just comes as standard, a hybrid product - with the Mac you are buying the wonderfully designed Mac computer and the software - their product!
I think this is where Mac are leading the way - its theirs, not Sony or HP computers with OS X installed.

One other key thing boy are they fast!!! Honestly if you are considering changing your PC go MAC you wont go back!

If you need any more proof check out the very cleverly designed Mac adverts vs the VERY strange WTF style PC ones.



So still undecided??

Monday, September 15, 2008

100 Movies, 100 Quotes, 100 Numbers

I was bored and that amused me

Saturday, September 13, 2008

K.I.S.S. Bad Presentations Goodbye

Every week I have to listen to presentations, around 15 a week - some good some not so good and some awful. But is it their fault??

No one wants their time wasted and I'm sure you want people to go away with what ever message you thought you were delivering, but after watching and training many people how to present they still make the same repetitive mistakes!

In order to try to help you to deliver better presentations I'm going to offer a quick guide - however it is by no way definitive.

First, K.I.S.S. = K = Keep, I = It, S = Short & S = Simple

Eye contact is key - avoid reading notes, friendly faces, the floor/ceiling - look at the audience.
Never imagine them naked!!!

Use pauses, allow the audience time to develop images in their minds.

Avoid PowerPoint where possible. If you have to use it, use it effectively. How?
Clear slides, clear pictures, clear fonts, clear messages!

Engage the senses, use emotion, build rapport, provoke thought, encourage action.

Offer facts rather than opinions.

Have a strong beginning, middle and end.

Know your topic, backwards if possible, encourage questions if only rhetorical ones.

At the very least smile whilst presenting, if you choose to use humour, use it sparingly and appropriately.

Never have a pen in your hand unless you are using it!

Use a story to make your point and ensure you have a point!
Your story is the path, your point is the goal!

Have a conclusion - tell them what you told them.

Above all you should should be able to

By that I don't mean literally, I mean NO notes, NO slides, NO projectors, NO sweat!

Thank you for your attention, now does anybody have any questions?

Extracts taken from an up and coming booklet I'm currently producing what this space for details

Earth - not such a bad place really

In a bid to remind us how amazing our world is, and how insignificant we really are, I found this picture which I thought I would share.
This is an astounding and spooky photo of the natural phenomenon known as aurora borealis, taken on-board space shuttle Atlantis during the sts-117 mission.

Saturday, September 06, 2008

Groundhog day - Week 3

So I decided that after my second and feeling very drained to drop my fourth week so this is my last one for 2 weeks; boy does that make me happy!

Not sure why but Picasa has changed its style with the new update and I can no longer use the little folder to embed photos :( shame I liked that - I have sent them an email to try to get this option re-established lets see.

Either way this week was another challenge that holiday feeling was back from the Anglos and Spaniards. Due to having Masters I have had before I decided to give them new challenges and sketches to see and do.
So I quickly had to put together some ideas I had been sitting on and an additional one from Richard about Spanish Idioms - which when translated are very funny/confusing.
I particularly like that "out of sight, out of mind" when directly translated becomes "Invisible Idiot" hey its a funny old game; as Jimmy Greaves once said.

This week I have noticed lots of cliques in the group not the best for group bonding!
Karaoke was a very quiet affair this week with only around 8 people taking part, guess it ain't for everyone!

We had a very interesting presentation from an Anglo who does dog shows dressed as a hill billy - you simply gotta check the photos to appreciate it ;)
We managed to get out of the hotel for some fresh air and boy was it needed - not only that but I managed to get ill this week - which drained me even more.

As for the party; well it seemed to be just background noise really, hardly anyone got involved and made the most of it, but some did; well done Domingo, Emilio & Naomi nice to see you enjoyed yourselves. So as no one seemed to be participating or enjoying it I finished it early - which they didn't seem to mind, but that also meant the bar closed - which they did mind!
Can't have it all I guess!

Ana did very well as it was her first program and delivered her program professionally, well done!

PS: Folks removing the schedule doesn't mean you nothing to do!
PPS: Monica your still the winner! Although Domingo your a better dancer ;)

Photos of our experience can be found by clicking the photo below
From Vaughan Town - Monfrague - Program 127

Monday, September 01, 2008

Groundhog day - Week 2

So same old same old!? Hardly!!!

Younger group a new sketch and a newish one re-done - Thanks to Bob's input about "whos on first for computers" I found a version, edited it, added and little and now have an extra sketch to play with; cheers Bob.

But it does feel a bit like deja vue, same place, same food just different faces. But now at the end of the week I am feeling a little tired :S

The performances during the week were good, we had an improv sketch which was very funny well done putting that together as for the evenings, well karaoke almost didn't finish!
The party was rocking with Guest Stars - Rick Astley & David Schwimmer!!!

Lots of energy this week in the participants which was nice, great group, wonderful personalities now I just hope that next week, I remember I have a whole new bunch of people?!?!

The photos of our shared experience can be found here - click the photo below.
From Vaughan Town - Monfrague - Program 126

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Bob's back!

My arch nemesis Bob was back this year!!!! hehe, He's a great gent I met last year and he insisted on giving me a hard time; but in a good way!
When he saw I was his MC, I swear I saw a grin creep across his face ;)
Great to see you again Bob; no really I mean it, I really do, no honestly; hehe!

This is the first week of four week in a row at Monfrague; so what was instore? Well of course, lots of variety in the participants so that was great, old mixing with young and vice-versa wonderful Spaniards who worked hard and gained the confidence they needed in their English - they got involved in the theatre sections and worked hard on their presentations (or their secretaries did,lol); although karaoke was quite subdued, unlike the party which rocked!

I had worked on a few sketches when I was off and I got to put them into practise this week, they were ok, still a little polish needed I think.
Hopefully they all enjoyed them none the less.

This week seemed to go quickly, which is only a good sign!
Met wonderful individuals and couples such as Paul & Tiffany and Manuel & Adriana (great folks indeed!) and Emma returned (with lots of goodies from the UK for me) and I got to meet the mighty FAZIL!

Mayte did a great job of course, she is very comfortable in the role, now if we could only get her to some emotions!?!?

As typical you can access the photos by clicking the picture below
Vaughan Town - Monfrague - Program 125

Lyric of the day:
What am I suppose to do when the best part of me was always you

Friday, August 15, 2008

Do Dolphins and Superheroes really go together?

After working hard and having to deal with my ex, I needed to get away, so first Warner Parque and now Valencia, which was a nice change of scenery and pace.

Valencia has had some wonderful structures built, which houses a science museum, 3D Cinema, Aquapark, Submarine Restaraunt, lots of aquatic areas for all sorts of fish and sealife.

The design is remarkable - but strangley to me at least the main building from the front resembled a storm troopers helmet (Star Wars) and from the rear a cyclones helmet (Battlestar Galactica) - did I watch too much TV as a kid!?!

There was a wonderful dolphin show (Sandra wanted to go) but sadly the photos came out badly, little light and wrong setting on camera :(
There was also a Superhero convention (I wanted to go) which was OK - but NO Superman!!!
Valencia 2008

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

My side of the story

Here is a brief overview of my life with my ex and daughter. My daughter and I had a wonderful relationship; I say HAD because I no longer get access to her. I have no contact, no address, no access and no rights - after 9 years of raising a daughter I have nothing, is that right?!

Anyway, I met my ex way back in '96
(I think) it was a long time ago. Eitherway she was a young girl very beautiful to me and I could see a lot of potential in her.
She was a Jehovahs Witness for years and just before meeting me had renounced it, when he parents found out she was with me and didnt want to follow thier beliefs they kicked her out into the street.

So whats a guy to do, I moved her in with me. It was nice at first but I had to deal with alot, police, her parents, trying to move to a better area etc.
Then she got pregnant but sadly we lost the baby! We moved out of Leicester to Telford at this point. We decided we really wanted a baby - so we tried again, and later that year she gave birth to my daughter CHINA! and yes she truely was precious.

We had moved back to Leicester as Telford wasn't working out for either of us really and she thought her family would help more now we had China. (mistake number 1)!
Back in Leicester, I was alone and working my ass off to make our lives better, at one point working four jobs. I was now a qualified Fitness Instructor / Personal Trainer, so I was starting to look good too :)

We decided
(against my better judgement) to get married - then after spending a small fortune and making lots of cut backs and compromises; she had an affair with her boss, I caught them and we split up.

When I got someone suddenly she wanted me back, now still loving her and missing China I agreed to try again (mistake number 2). So they moved in with me in my flat, but one day I returned home to find my flat empty - her and her sister had taken everything from the flat and put it into her house!?! So much for trust - I had apparently slept with someone I didn't!
But I had attempted to kiss one of her friends; which WAS wrong
(mistake number 3).

So again we split - we finally got back together after 6 months or so, and stayed together for several years - all in all we were together (on and off for 9 years), in which time I never raised a finger to her, I was a great father to China and did all I could to make life better for us all - ok things weren't perfect, but they were much better than almost anyone else's around us, we had a nice enough home and money to live.

She was working some strange jobs - Gentlemens bars and Uni bars, but I didnt stop her, only encouraged her to make the best of the situation and gain as much experience as she could. Obviously knowing she got flirted with and I'm sure flirted back lots; but I had to trust her!
(mistake number 4) - she soon started getting ideas about dancing but that I wasn't keen on.

Anyway the day before Mothers Day she arrived home at 4am crying, I awoke and asked her whats wrong - thinking she had been attacked!?! She then told me she didnt love me and loved someone else.
I was deverstated! - (their relationship didnt last more than weeks, so much for love!)

She told me I had to leave; now at this point I had no one and no where to go, no money or job as I was doing magic as a living.
After several hours of pleading with her, she allowed me to stay on in the house and she stayed with friends for a while - this took about 2 weeks to try to get myself sorted, but I couldnt no matter what I did nothing would come together.

We had blazing rows constantly and eventually I had to leave the house and move forward - I spent sometime living rough but that was never going to work, I got very low and contemplated leaving this world, but I didn't as I decided China needed her dad!
I fought daily to see China and maybe once a fortnight got to - unless I bumped into them unexpectedly.

After a few months I had gotten on my feet with work and housing - with no help from anyone; thank you social security! - actually not true, a magician friend of mine did help, which stopped me living on the streets; thanks Dave!!

I got a place very close so I could see China, but that didn't happen - my ex wanted me GONE; out of sight out of mind - actually I think she felt guilty. As I never got to see China and only got hassle from my ex I left Leicester and moved to London with Carrie an awfully sweet girl who I simply couldn't love after such hurt; and she desevered to be happy and loved.
I continued to try to fight to get access to China,
but to no avail, I managed to see her once!

I moved again this time to Spain - work was good, living was nice - but I was incomplete still no access to China, I sent emails, txt's even called but ignored constantly, my ex at this point seemed to hate me even more - like I had ever done anything to deserve it!?
my life had improved hers had stayed still - my fault??!!

She demanded money constantly, and insisted I maintain her life?!! WTF! sorry but I dont think so. I refused to send her money - but agreed to buy what China needed, not good enough!
I asked for her to come here (to Spain, for holidays), left money for a passport and even happily paid for the tickets, but again no joy.
So I went back to England for a week over the Xmas period - what a waste of time, I got 4 hours with China the day before xmas eve - after buying her presents I was no longer needed and again I got a load of shit from my ex and several threats.

So I decided that this year I would not be returning to England and that China would have to come here, that didn't happen - but she did go to France so it seems!!??

My ex now informs me she is getting married - good fucking luck this time!
She claims she is happy, wonderful!
But to top it all she tells me that her new fella is going to adopt China and change her name! FUCKING WONDERFUL!!!!!!!
No matter what I do, did or have done it makes no difference because in this fucked up world I dont matter!

I have all the responsibilites and no rights - the law needs to wake the fuck up!
IT is killing families more than individuals are!

So in the 2 years we have been apart I have seen my daughter twice - which you could argue is my fault for being here, but I had to be here as being in England and not seeing her was even harder, at least here I have an excuse!

Whilst here I have met Sandra a wonderful Spanish girl, but still issues about letting go and loving someone 100% - cheers for that, not letting me trust anyone anymore!

Well maybe no matter how hard I try I simply can't change things?
So after taking my dignity, my home, my daughter, denying me access, you now want to remove my name from her life too!? Thank you - DNA next!?.

I look forward to her being 16 and hope that someday she will come to me or I will come find her, without your intervention, as I cant and wont keep being hurt because of the past. I'm done!!!
You will not turn me into a bad guy, no matter how much you try!

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Night of Amusements

After working 3 weeks solid it was time to relax and have someone/something amuse me for a change. So we went to the Warner Bros Amusement Park at 9 o'clock at night! (as you do)

What a strange experience but very cool - the park had lots of attractions but sadly because of Sandra's condition (6 months pregnant) she was unable to go on ANY rides - lucky for me; they looked terrifying (I must be getting old).

The park had lots of attractions and a wonderful water show to music, pyrotechnics and lasers; which was nice. I got to have dinner in the Daily Planet; now that's cool! Although Sandra was stressed there was NO Tweety's; how strange!?

finally at 1am it was time to call it a day/night/morning, whatever!
here are the pictures to check out - China if you ever come we have to go; or maybe Disneyland!?!

Parque Warner
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