My Geek Box Review

Over the past few years there’s been a huge rise in the popularity of randomised subscription boxes. Most of you have probably heard of these things in one way or another, but let’s explain for the few that haven’t.

The idea is that you sign up for an ongoing subscription (which can usually be limited in length up front) then each month you get a box containing items that would be worth more than the subscription fee if you bought them up front. The items are usually built around a theme but you don’t know what you’re going to get until the box arrives. For some people it’s a little money going from their account in return for a surprise present through the door every month. Others use them to get cool exclusive items or only sign up for a single month subscription when the theme is something they’re interested in. There are now dozens, if not hundreds, of different boxes available throughout the world from premium shaving kits to healthy snacks to geeky socks (one I aim to sign up for later in the year because, seriously, do you know me at all?).

My Geek Box is a service in the UK that has been going for a while now. I’ve flirted with the service a little, taking advantage of the single Christmas box they make to add an extra joint gift under the tree, but never gotten around to testing it fully until February this year. When I received an offer in the post to sign up for a single box and get two Welcome boxes (identical boxes, with one to go to someone else who wants to see what the service is like) it seemed like the perfect time to try the service. I’d get two boxes for the price of one (as well as a box to give out) and be able to get a good idea of the overall quality of the service. Genius plan eh? Continue reading

What A Difference A Day Makes

As some of you may have heard, there’s been a few changes in this country this week. I’ll address them as I see them here, but first there is something very important that I have to get off my chest.

Brexit, much like Grexit (used to describe the possible Greek exit from the European Union which was voted on a while ago), is not a word. Seriously, look it up in a dictionary. Not there. In fact, there are only three occasions when people use either word.

  1. People asking what the hell that even means.
  2. Journalists trying to sound hip and funky while talking about a complex situation that is so complicated they’re afraid people won’t watch/read unless they’ve a simple tag to add to it.
  3. People complaining that Brexit isn’t a word.

With that sorted out, let’s have a look at how the UK reacted to the idea of leaving Europe. How did they take all the very different changes, some negative and some positive, that would come with such a monumental decision? How were all those complicated matters communicated to the people who have no idea of all the ins and outs of political movement?

immigrant.gif

Not an actual quote, mostly because his actual quotes are far too offensive to repeat.

Meet Nigel Farage, the most outspoken supporter of the leave movement. He’s also the leader of UKIP, a party whose main policy seems to be “Less brown people in Britain”. Again, far more polite than their supporters would put it as they shave their heads and march through the country.

As you could expect from someone like this, all those complex changes, all the problems that could arise from leaving, all the positive things that would come in their wake, all the time that people would have to wait and possibly suffer before any positives came; all of that was swept under the rug for the story he wanted to tell. Everything was brought down to a few horror stories about staying, alongside a few wonderful promises about leaving.

Most notably, the campaign for leaving had buses going around the UK with slogans promising that the £350 million pounds per week that the UK sent to the EU would be brought back into the country and fed directly to funding the National Health Service (free healthcare for all). The campaign was blasted by the UK Statistics Authority for that claim, as the figure fails to take into account any rebates we get from the EU or any special payments that are made for the good of all countries (agricultural development being one stand out).

On the 16th of June, a little over a week before the vote, a poll by Ipsos Mori found that over half of Britain believed that claim as it was given to them. This was a single issue that, for many people, affected which way they were going to vote. And it was a sham. Mere hours after the votes were tallied and it was announced that we were going to be leaving the EU, Farage admitted on television that this money was not going to be funnelled into the NHS at all. It was a mistake by the campaign, he said, and specifically not one of his promises.

tmawa

Americans will find this style of racially motivated, 180-turning politics eerily familiar…

Now, as you’ve probably guessed from the way I’m talking about the Leave side of things, I voted to stay in the EU. I listened to all the arguments until my head was aching, then turned them off and looked at the research I could get my hands on. I pushed aside all the articles talking about people taking pens to the ballot boxes rather than using the pencils provided (they thought that their votes would be changed by corrupt officials; seriously, if there was vote changing happening then entire ballot boxes would be swapped out, rather than individual votes being erased one by one) and trying to blatantly tell horror stories about the opposing side and I tried to find out what I could beyond all the propaganda.

What I uncovered was a situation that I was not capable of understanding fully, and I’m a pretty smart guy. There were so many ins and outs, so much money flowing in both directions, so many positives and negatives to both sides of the argument that I could see why people would want it broken down to something simple. And yet I persevered because this is the future of the country I live in that we’re talking about, and I eventually came down on the Remain vote side because that seemed like it would end up more beneficial to people in my particular situation. And that is what a vote is meant to be about.

But both sides, my own included in this, ran their propaganda campaigns, telling their horror stories of staying/leaving, and giving single headline sized examples of why they were right in every way and the others were wrong in every way. And eventually the British public were buried underneath it all, until only the headlines shone through.

I’ve spoken about campaign promises and money and all the things we were flooded with, and I’d say that those affected the vote for a lot of people who were lost and simply didn’t know which way to vote. I’d also say that a lot of people stuck to their kneejerk reactions, some of them voting the way to leave/stay simply because they never got to when we joined. But there was one issue that kept raising its head throughout this process, and it was an ugly issue that turned a mirror on an equally ugly but growing underbelly in this country. I’ll say it here, because it certainly has a place in a post about oversimplification of issues: immigration was a big factor in this vote. The Leave campaign was made up of groups such as UKIP, Britain First, BNP (a militant group who have viciously attacked people over the colour of their skin or even sexual orientation and who lead their “soldiers” to believe they’re doing the Queen’s bidding to save the country, through the use of falsified documents – a story I’ve heard from two very separate people who have left the organisation after waking up) and they vilified immigrants throughout. A lot of people wanted to leave the EU simply because they felt that there were too many brown people coming to this country. So much for a United Kingdom, eh?

bloodybrexit

Today, youths in this country are marching on London protesting the racist rhetoric that fuelled the referendum, as well as the fact they were denied a vote in something that will affect them for the rest of their lives.

I’ve had a headache since I found out how the vote went. It kind of feels like a hangover; you know the dull ache that spreads and falls back like the tides. I look forwards into this future I voted against and there is nothing there. Nothing to fear, but also nothing to look forward to. For all my research I still have no idea of how this will affect us, and I do mean Kim and I personally here. It might not affect us at all. Everything may go on as it would have done, or at least with so little disruption that we won’t think anything has changed from how things would have been otherwise. As I’m not one of these who brought this all down to a single magical issue that would solve the country’s problems, that’s the best I can hope for.

And I do still have hope. For all the possible changes that are ahead of us, be they good or bad, hope remains. Even unable to see nothing ahead but darkness I have faith in myself and my loved ones, enough to know that we will be fine, one way or another. I think that’s the only thing I really can say for sure right now.

Whatever happens, we will endure.

Well Played, Comics

Woke up this morning, brewed some coffee, then drank it while reading my morning comics. Like this one:

fools2

Ha, that’s kinda funny. Sort of. Not really in the normal levels they manage though, but everyone is always trying to trick everybody else during April Fool’s Day, so perhaps they’re doing a sort of ironic anti-humour? That’s what I was thinking until I saw this:

Continue reading

To Be Continued…

So, for a while there I seemed to have hit a plateau with my writing. The books I’ve been writing just didn’t seem able to pass by this, and edits weren’t getting me anywhere. I’m well aware of how a project can burn you out though so I started something new and, as this didn’t have to be the same style as the books I’ve been writing, I wrote it in a different style. That’s when I realised the plateau I’d become stuck on was one of my own making.

The big series of books I’m writing were in a very specific style. There was a main viewpoint character to each book and we’d visit that person’s sections in first person. Then there were a load of side characters who would weave in and out of the story, and I wrote those from third person perspectives. Whenever we switched character a new chapter would start, which handily kept the page counts of chapters down for those who were intimidated by the size of books. And that’s where the problems started. With the main character having first person sections, all of the third person ones seemed like the main character was talking about these people after the fact. I was able to combat that, but it seriously limited what I could write and how I could write it.

My new project I started in a much more classic book style. Every character was written in third person, with an all-knowing narrator managing to fill in lore here and there while more personal narration kept what the characters thought to be true clear to the readers. It was a revelation for me and, although it was a daunting task, I knew what I had to do.

For a couple of weeks I’ve been going through the two books I’ve already written (one in a state that I still think could be published, the other waiting on a major editing run) and rewriting them so that they’re entirely told from a third person perspective. I did a trial run on the first two chapters (actually chapters 1-5 of the original manuscript) and it convinced me I was on the right track.

I’ve now had more freedom to distribute perspective jumps between the different scenes, allowing each chapter to flow more clearly between different characters and their individual storylines. I’ve also noticed that there are plotlines that run nicely parallel to each other and been able to put those closer together for better effect in the book. With no need to fill an entire chapter with each character, I’ve been able to cut out a few lines of filler here and there, and better bring certain plotlines to the forefront. Rewriting both books, as well as the other project that I’m still running on the side to keep from burning out, will likely take the best part of the year but it’s allowed my writing to slip past that plateau so I think it’ll be worth it in the long run.

And it is the long run I’m thinking of. One day I do plan on publishing these books. I may not make the sort of money that writing about the use of whips and chains can bring in, but I still want them to be as good as they can be for those that eventually buy them. But, even beyond that, I enjoy writing and I want to be as good as I can be at it.