Saturday, May 25, 2013

Benign Warmongering

So, I got a job alert from the Job Centre Plus's Universal Job Finder thing as a Muslim Chaplain for the Ministry of Justice in Newmarket. The hilarity that ensued was so intense it would have registered on the Richter scale. Sadly the utter weirdness of this job alert was overshadowed by events in Woolwich and then in many places with unprecedented racial hatred. There's many things I could say about this, but, you know, no one needs to say anything much. I think we all saw some really odd aspects of human nature on Wednesday; aspects that perhaps are a direct result of the internet, films, video games and the utter contempt we hold for each other, when once we loved our neighbour...

Imam Phil
I have a conspiracy theory, but frankly, at the moment even I'm not convinced.

An interesting thing happened at the Job Centre on Wednesday; my 'advisor' commented on the number of interviews I've had, which is a higher percentage than average. "I get interviews because I tick the disabled box and they all have DEA targets to fill and DDA fears to assuage. They essentially don't want me to sue them for not interviewing me because I can do the job but have a disability."

"That's a very cynical attitude to have, perhaps you're just well suited for the job."
"I am. I don't go for jobs that I'm not well suited for. They don't give the job to me because I am disabled, I'm too old and I have an air of desperation around me now that suggests I'd do just about anything for a job. They have no intention of giving me a job, they're just going through the motions."
She then said something that put her much higher than her colleagues. "At the end of the interview, when they ask you if you have any questions, say to them, 'Now I've spent x number of minutes selling myself to you, what weaknesses do you see so that I can address these points and give myself a better opportunity of being successful?'" Which, you have to admit, is quite inspired. It's also a little like asking that girl at school out because you're scared of rejection, but hey I'm not scared of rejection any more, it's happening more often than a warm day. Think about it, it's putting them in an awkward position; yes they'll offer feedback after the event, but ask them for it right there and then. It doesn't mean you'll sway their opinion, but you'll get an idea from their reaction how well you've done and if you want to be arsey when the rejection comes you can speak to the manager and say, 'but you said...' The only thing they can say is that there was a candidate they thought might be better suited to the position or they have to be honest and as honesty can cost money...

The thing is I'm getting to the point where I really don't think I'm going to get a job any time soon and to be really scathing, the Job Centre Plus doesn't do bugger all to try and get people back into work; they can't offer solid actual jobs because there aren't that many of them out there and the ones that are suited to me have 100 others going for each and every one.


Let's move on, shall we?

The weather. I haven't talked about the weather in, ooh, at least 45 minutes. I actually almost devoted an entire blog entry on the BBC's monthly weather forecast, but because I'm up and down like the Assyrian empire at the moment I never got around to it and probably went and planted beetroot seedlings instead. The BBC/Met Office stuck their necks out and reckoned that we might just be seeing the end of our mini ice age. They reckoned that the upcoming bank holiday would be shit but after that things would pick up and we'd start to see some settled and warm weather...

Snow in May?
It appears that the complete opposite is now going to happen. The bank holiday weekend won't be that bad - no great shakes, but dry, sunnier than of late and a tad warmer and by Monday night, Tuesday morning the country will be hit by gale force storms dragging cold north Atlantic air back over us and keeping us all in that nice Christmas jumper, which is now getting a little threadbare on the elbows. Even the long range forecasts that seemed to echo the BBC have done a quick backtrack and one 'expert' reckons a cool June might give way to some warmer 'conditions' in July. Jesus fucking hell... Good weather is one of the few things that keeps me going at times...

I remember 1975, June 5th, snow settling on Goldings Middle School playing field. It's etched on my memory; I was sitting in old dragon Miss Blencow's classroom, watching it snow and thinking that this must be a joke. I was thinking that at 13! With the exception of 1979, only four years later and just as memorable for being a cold and miserable year and 1985, the year before I got married, when the warmest day of the year was ... October 1st, 2012 and now 2013 are quickly becoming memorable for all the same cold, wet, windy and fucking horrible reasons. But, and I know you shouldn't start a sentence with but, but I'm struggling to remember a summer since 1998 that has been anything to get excited about. We were blessed in the '90s with lovely hot and sunny summers and mild winters; it happened so often it became the norm, but now...

In 2003, we had ceiling fans installed in the main rooms of the house - bedroom, my office and dining room - and the one in the bedroom is used the most. The room is at the back of the house that gets direct sunlight on it for a sustained period of time and tends to get much hotter even if you shut the curtains, etc. We have had the fan on at night about 10 times in the last three summers, compared to 20 or 30 times each year for the first half dozen after we had it put in. This country isn't as humid as it used to be; it isn't as warm or as sunny or as nice and the temperature on my patio at the moment, on May 24th, is 7 fucking degrees, it's pissing down with rain and I'm not sure it's ever even been funny. I was told this evening that the temperature (outside of London) hasn't reached 90 degrees Fahrenheit since 2009. Is this true?

The Internet and its applications continues to throw 'improvements' at us that we didn't ask for and don't need. The latest is Scrabble, the only game I have stuck with through thick and thin, and it is having a facelift to allow early-adopter c*n*s to play the game on mobile devices. Never mind people like me who just like to play the fucking game on a computer; I'll lose all my stats, all my scores and because of some fucking ridiculous quirk, I'll no longer be able to play certain people that I'm not friends with on fucking Facebook. Of course, it's all an improvement to make my life easier and Scrabble's ability to sell to me, market me and use all my information and we seemed to think the Internet was actually free...

Ushuaia/Tierra del Fuego - Argentina
I had this idea. It's probably not even original, but, you know, it's still an idea. There might be 200 channels of shit to watch on TV, and I'm sure some of the natural history stations cover this, but I was only saying to the wife the other day about places on the planet that no one seems to ever visit. You know if someone said to you, 'what do you know about the peninsulas of the Baja of California and Kamchatska (on the opposite side of the Pacific) or that archipelago of islands that makes up a large part of southern South America, the bit to the left of Tierra del Fuego, which, in itself, would probably be an interesting place to visit. How many people actually know what Greenland looks like from the ground? Or what about that place I was banging on about a few weeks ago, Reine in Norway. I've never seen a TV show about that place and it's stunning.

La Paz, Baja of California - looks bleak, dunnit?
My Google Map tourism took me to the Baja and to what appears to be the capital of that peninsular, a place called La Paz (not the one in Bolivia) and the only word that I could think of was 'wow' and yet it was almost deserted from the street view images. It must be weird living at the end of one of the longest peninsulas in the world; I wonder what it's like if you don't own a boat?

There are obviously huge swathes of Russia and China that you can't do the Google street view thing and then there's those islands around Kamchatsky (I know, it was with an A now its got a Y) - that's the peninsula between the Bering Sea and the Sea of Okhotsk; just above Japan. In fact, I wasn't even aware that above Sapporo is this bloody massive island with a place called Yuzhno-Sakhalinsk - obviously Russian, but closer to both China and Japan than its motherland... What's the island called? Who lives there? Why does every single photo of the place seem to have 10 feet of snow on the floor?

Sakhalin Oblast - a place of geothermal interest and oil...
Aha, it appears it's on the island of Sakhalin Oblast which sounds like a drunk Irishman on weird drugs. The thing is it's a place that has swung back and forth between various owners; appears to be strategic because of the oil and has some of the wildest temperature swings I've ever seen - as cold as -35 in the winter and as warm as +35 in the summer; the place looks fascinating. But, so did huge parts of the Baja (and that is actually a protected place).

Arunachal Pradesh - who would have thought, eh?
Have you ever heard of a place called Cox's Bazar? It's about 200km south of Chittagong, in a part of Bangladesh I didn't even know existed, but I also didn't know that a massive wad of India - the Assam part - tends to be forgotten about: Arunachal Pradesh is closer to Beijing than it is to Mumbai!!!

What do you know about Micronesia? Patagonia? The Northern most parts of Canada or Norway or Finland or Russia? We know a fair bit about Australia, but what about the north west of it that never seems to be talked about - there's a place called Derby that appears to be about 1000 miles from anywhere; or Tasmania that only seems to be mentioned whenever a disaster strikes there.

Caspian sea and region
What's it like to live around the Caspian Sea? Most people are familiar with quite a few South American countries, but what about Suriname, Guyana, Ecuador, Paraguay and we've all heard of Uruguay and Fray Bentos, but what's the place actually like? I did quite good at geography at school and places, and locations is, I find, quite interesting (I devoured a book on South America once; it was just a tour guide really, but it told me considerably more about the place than I'd ever guessed or known), but even if these places are unbelievably boring - and trust me, I spent an hour 'driving' down the main highway on the Baja of California
Aspects of corned be... Fray Bentos, Uruguay
(using Street View) and it is just miles and miles and miles and miles of creamy flatness with a few sage brush and shrubs floating about. It is also unbelievably hot, according to the BBC's weather site, La Paz  can get as hot as 45c and I read that it's one of those strange places where whatever direction the wind comes from, it's warm.

I'd willingly travel around the world visiting all of these places for the benefit of television and education. Or I'd watch a travelogue about these places that people live but very few (British) tourists venture to.

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