Which did Gandalf prefer ~ Frodo or Bilbo?

The Lord of the Rings has been hugely successful film saga, and although I enjoy watching them I preferred the original trilogy, and found the recent films (The Hobbit, The Desolation of Smaug, The Battle of the Five Armies) a little too rushed and with too many deaths. One question I always wondered was who was Gandalf fond of more—Bilbo or Frodo? The actors were all equally excellent, but which Baggins did Gandalf favor?

I recently watched some behind the scenes footage and I was impressed with the dedication of the actors getting into character who were also giving their input. It was such a huge production and it was heart warming to see the wrap on the final scenes for various actors. When you work on such a project it’s hard to leave suddenly when it’s been your life for an extended period of time. Those behind the scenes carry on, whereas for an actor when your final scene is shot, that’s it. It can feel a little insecure and teary as you leave some friendships and also the character that you have developed. I used to feel this way when I was on a shoot or a series of events, and when the last day came it was a rush of hugs and then you go from sharing you life from dawn to dusk with these strangers back to your own bed.

Frodo was played by Elijah Wood, and Bilbo, was originally played by Ian Holm and then Martin Freeman. It was Bilbo that started it all, but somehow I didn’t feel it so much with the young Bilbo, but with Ian Holm’s Bilbo, I felt Gandalf was more protective of him. He knew Bilbo had the ring all along, but I think he let him off when he said he had lost it thinking it would be safe in the Shire. I found Gandalf grew protective of Frodo much later on, only when he knew that he had to leave with the elves to live, and maybe through guilt as it was he that put him on the quest. Gandalf of course was played by Ian McKellen and it’s hard to imagine anyone else in the role. Apparently he was reading for a film with Tom Cruise, but they wouldn’t let him see all the script so he passed on it (he wanted to see what the film was about and his role in it) and LOTR came up the following week.

What I loved about Gandalf is that he was neutral and knew everyone. You could take him anywhere and without Orcs and get in. Yet he chose a Hobbit to be a burglar and then to carry the ring to Mordor. Maybe Hobbits were trustworthy and loyal which is why he entrusted them to these tasks? I enjoyed watching the relationship between Gandalf and Frodo grow because Gandalf knew he was almost certainly sending him to his death, yet he had to put his feelings aside for the sake of all the realms. I always thought Bilbo didn’t trust Gandalf until much later on or maybe it was the ring), and he knew he shouldn’t have kept the ring, but it became his precious. Gandalf was fond of both Frodo and Bilbo, and while both were brave, Frodo hadn’t asked to be involved whereas Bilbo knew what he was getting into. I guess he loved them both and saw Bilbo as his friend, but Frodo is the one he wanted to protect. Sometimes an unexpected journey can result in defining your life in ways you never dreamt of with friendships that were unimaginable—a Wizard or a Hobbit as a BFF? I found an eccentric Jewish drum maker, and a bohemian cat loving redhead as friends on my last journey, so I wonder what is next?


Why there are still James Hewitt and Harry comparisons

I’m not a royalist fan by any means, and some may wonder why people are still going on about James Hewitt being potentially Prince Harry’s biological father. The problem was even before his mother admitted to an affair, people already wondered where the red hair came from. There were theories of it coming from the Scottish side from the Queen Mother and that Harry would grow out of it. That never happened, and a decade later, Diana admitted an affair with James Hewitt who is a red head, and the penny dropped. It bewildered people, but Diana being so popular and prim, no one thought there could be any other reason than genetics that stretched far back… way back. So you see there were suspicions and scratched heads when Harry was born from the start.

There are millions of children born that aren’t brought up or even have their biological father’s name, and over the centuries it has probably happened in royal circles too but there was no way to prove things. Look at the Jeremy Kyle show which thrives on paternity test reveals, and women who don’t know who the biological father of their child is. Now, there is DNA testing so it is possible, but would the royal family want that truth to come out? Theoretically, Diana was married to Charles when Harry was born, and on his birth certificate he is named as such. Legally, Charles is his father and thus gives Harry a title and a life of privilege. While he claims to have wanted to leave the royal family, he would be left with his inheritance from his mother and lose any privileges he currently enjoys. Besides this, it would damage the image of the royal family if it were to be proven Charles was not Harry’s biological father. I feel for Charles, because he did bring up his son under all this cloud of doubt, and while there is no excuse for his affair either, his was an open secret.

Don’t forget celebrities and royals have reputations and will make statements to keep that intact (politicians are elected, so they can’t fudge the truth). Hewitt says he didn’t meet Diana until after Harry was born, but then again no one knew about an affair for a decade, so are dates being fudged? The end result is that Diana by admitting to an affair to punish the family harmed her own son. One thing is for sure is that William and Harry are at least brothers, but that doesn’t mean Harry is from the royal line. I did a tarot card reading asking this question, and the card that came up was the Three of Swords. What does that mean? Well, I’ll let you read into that one.

Harry has always been let off for his less than royal antics and probably more have been covered up, so is he marrying on impulse and in haste to avenge his family? Others have used the words smitten, and infatuation and that is not love. These affairs of the heart always end up in disaster and regret. Friends of the prospective bride have called her calculating, and the fact is she left her first husband in a bid for fame and money. One must look at the facts, for centuries men have been infatuated and taken in by women for power and money, so is this another of those cases?

Regardless of what official statements are made, people will still wonder if James Hewitt is Harry’s biological father or if someone else is as the ginger never went and got stronger. The excuse now is that Diana’s family has red in the family (brother), but no one ever mentioned that when he was first born, and that was before there was any knowledge of extra marital affairs. To top it all, Diana’s own biological father was questioned as her mother too had affairs, so was she a Spencer?

In some ways it’s none of our business, but when it comes to someone living at the tax payers expense then those lines are a little blurry. Perhaps we expect too much from the royals, but when they live a life where they want for nothing and can do whatever they please and be financially supported by the people, then maybe staying faithful shouldn’t be so hard? Several members of the royal family have been divorced, so it’s not ideal but is accepted. Perhaps that’s why they allowed the marriage knowing that they can insist on a tight prenup and there is always divorce. I did a reading for that too! At least Charles knows a good divorce lawyer.

Don’t Do This On Facebook Please!

Love or hate it, social media is now a part of society whether you have an account or not. Many celebrities either shun it as it crosses the boundaries between their private life and and public persona, while others use it as a marketing tool and for announcements on their achievements. The older generation are quite rightly skeptical and most don’t use social media because they don’t have a smartphone or use the internet, but some do in order to keep in touch with family that maybe abroad. There are some younger folks who choose not to have any social media, simply because they choose to live in the present or keep their accounts private and limited to a tight knit circle. Perhaps they are the wisest, although some would think they were hiding something. What is wrong in being private and not telling the world where you are every minute of the day or how you are feeling? Absolutely nothing, but often millennials in particular will be horrified to discover that you don’t have a social media account and wonder why.

The thing is people do have a right to privacy and I have been rejected by some Facebook groups, because of my tight privacy controls and lack of information on my profile. They say this is to protect the group from fakes and trolls, but the fact is fake profiles and trolls tend to over share and not keep their profiles private. Why should I allow a group of people I don’t know or trust access to my personal information? So, while there are established rules in society on how to behave, the etiquette for social media is a little more complex as it evolves constantly with new unspoken rules that somehow we are all supposed to figure out. I personally keep the standards that you use in everyday life, because those barriers between what is acceptable are getting pushed further with legal cases arising from threats, defamatory statements, and online grooming.

Even in groups one must be careful in what you say and how you behave—that’s my take on it, however younger millennials (under 28) have a different view in general because they have grown up with social media and those boundaries are not yet apparent to them. Recently I culled a couple of group chats I was added to—I wasn’t asked if I wished to join and I think choice is paramount. Therefore, I have no qualms in clicking the ‘leave’ button unlike others who worry what others will think because everyone will see and judge. A few have been group chats on collections for birthdays or for some event, and if I know the person fine, but it isn’t when I have barely interacted with them. Clicking ‘like’ on a post doesn’t count! In the other case, a member was hogging the chat and interrupting others with photos and her own issues. That’s rude, it’s like someone jumping into a conversation without consideration for others who were already discussing or listening to someone. I tired of the petulant childish actions, and others had muted the chat and ignored it—so did I, but when it was constant I just had enough. I have the right to leave and others have the choice to stay and ignore it right? Well, I then had to cope with the interrogations on why I left, and I simply said, “I don’t need excessive drama,” which is true without pointing fingers at anyone.

In a private message people can say what they like, but in a group, even a closed or secret one, anything said must be akin to saying it in public, say for example at dinner in a restaurant. That means you do need to be careful about bad mouthing others and be aware of sensitive topics that may offend or upset others. Topics that are taboo are suicide, death, murder, rape, and basically painful issues that are best discussed behind closed doors and only with consent. One of my friends just doesn’t get it—she keeps going on in graphic detail of her bad pregnancies and the simple fact is people wish to be supportive, but no one wants to hear about it every week. Besides this, another member of the group is pregnant, and others are considering getting pregnant so her behavior is inconsiderate to say the least. She has been told, but persists. Maybe she needs a therapist better equipped to deal with this, and while some may be too open on Facebook in a desire to find comfort and support, it’s not appropriate when others have not consented to discuss delicate matters. 

The problem with Facebook is that some people forget that words can be misinterpreted and that others remain quiet not to agree or validate something, but because they are uncomfortable with what has been said. While it is important to feel comfortable enough to chat to friends on social media, remember there are still boundaries within groups or group chats because not everyone has agreed to hear or read things that aren’t related to the topic in hand.

It’s the same with introductions, if you don’t want your friends to know your other Facebook friends then hide them. I found this out the hard way as some decided to befriend my friends without my permission. Sometimes people do once a dialogue has begun (before you couldn’t message anyone unless they were a friend, now you can), and was once chastised for being a friend’s friend when in fact it was they who added me and I accepted! Some people are guarded about their friends and don’t wish to share, and in this case because the friend in question was a semi-celebrity, and they had wrongly assumed I had made the request. I hadn’t and wouldn’t do such a thing, but it also taught me a little about my so-called friends and how they perceived me and judged me. That incident marred our real life friendship and as I was a house guest at the time it made things uncomfortable and stalled our relationship. They didn’t even apologize for the false accusation and that taught me something else about the so-called friends. I actually offered to unfriend the friend in question if that’s what they preferred and was met with silence, knowing that the semi-celebrity friend (a shrink to the stars) would know something had gone on!

All I can say is I am glad I limit my interactions on social media accounts in terms of of I don’t reveal too much and add very few people to my personal accounts. I also never hesitate to click delete or leave, because social media today serves two purposes; the original, to help you stay in contact with friends and family, and the other as a marketing tool where people create personas and market themselves, or where companies use it as a means of publicity and to find customers. Social media today is sadly a place where scammers search for identities to assume, and while you can use it safely, remember to apply the same rules of behavior online as you would in public. Don’t wash your dirty laundry on social media even in a group setting, set the record straight if you need to, but it’s not the place to argue, accuse, or discuss topics that others may find offensive or feel uncomfortable with. Think about others before you hit ‘enter’ because while some maybe too polite to tell you, mass silence is the greatest indication of disapproval.

How To Cope With People You Loathe

Don’t get me wrong, I’m a team player (most of the time), but once you’ve experienced working with someone you loathe how do you cope with it? Do you put up with it because, well everyone does and expects you to, or what are the alternatives? I’m no hypocrite, and can’t pretend to like someone, but I can tolerate them if need be. The thing is life is too short to spend it in the company of people you don’t like, so if they don’t go, then you should make that move.

There were lots of kids I couldn’t stand in school, and I learned to avoid them, but you can’t escape them. This is actually pretty good training for adult life, when you end up working somewhere with people you don’t like. The problem is school and work are different in that you can’t change schools, but you can change your job or at least the company. However, is that a bit extreme, and does it show a degree of arrogance or intolerance?

I was lucky, in my first two jobs as there was no one I disliked, even the managers, and I never had to deal with this feeling of begrudgingly loathing someone for 8 hours a day in front of me. That all changed when I got my first permanent job. It was in retail on a beauty counter and yes, some of the girls were bitchy. I tolerated it, and gradually most accepted me (they assumed I got the job through favoritism), and there was a great camaraderie. Pregnancies and divorces meant some left, and change isn’t always good. I was then stuck with a tiresome girl working next to me. I couldn’t bear to speak to her each day, and did only when I had to. Friends asked why I didn’t like her, and sometimes there is no reason, but she was petite, pretty, and looked innocent so people took her side. Even our manager noticed I loathed her and made sure she stayed out of my way. Why didn’t I like her? She was whiny, always complaining, was obsessed with her looks, selfish, and was fake. When you spend 40 hours a week next to someone, you get to see their true colors and it wasn’t that nice. I’d wanted to leave my job for a number of years, and she (her name was Clare) gave me the incentive I needed to do it, as I just couldn’t bear being around her each day, and I couldn’t avoid her because we shared a counter.

I can’t tell you the relief when I left, not only the job but also knowing I would never have to see that girl again. Retail attracts all sorts, but is often ruled by performance rather than personality. I ran into more loathsome souls in John Lewis, in fact one was a member of staff I was coerced into hiring. It’s fair to say I was duped and felt sorry for the girl that I grew to loathe, and she ended up leaving so I didn’t have to. Sharing a small counter space with someone you dislike is mentally hard work. I will admit I made life difficult for her, but as she requested all her weekends off next to public holidays, and guilt tripped me into it (as her family was in France) I had pretty much no life as I was forced to work all the holidays around her. That isn’t why I didn’t like her— it was mainly because she lied and exaggerated things and got away with it, I mean no one likes that do they?

The best thing to do was to be a freelancer or a contractor because I could pick and choose the jobs I wanted and who I’d be working with. Sounds ideal, but not always as I soon discovered. When it becomes a choice between working and making money and not on principle because you don’t like the client, agent, or whom you will be working with can you afford to be picky?

As a model you only work with someone for a day or a few days at most, so you can bear to work with some difficult people as you can count down the hours, then smile and wave goodbye and hope never to see them again. However, who you work for and who shows up on your social media profiles can make a difference too. I once turned down a job my agent offered me (one I had done before) and made some kind of excuse why I couldn’t do it. She tackled me as to the real reason, and I told her the person that was down to work with me was someone I loathed, so she switched me to another job. Apparently my agent had been unaware of this, but this was backed up by my friends and co-workers who felt the same. They were able to ignore her more easily than I, and most actually hated her. Several had walked out or canceled jobs where she had been involved, and so the penny finally dropped for my agent as people had been too polite and resorted to the excuses of a family emergency, or feigned a contagious disease to get out of working with her. You see it’s not just me, but people don’t speak up!

I am realistic to know you can’t always avoid people you loathe, especially when they are the boss or related to the boss. Here, you’ll never win so it’s best to cut your losses and move on as soon as you can. You have to be in a comfortable environment when you work, because that’s how you thrive, and if you don’t like some of the people around you then you do have the choice to do something about it. Save your sanity!

It may require a pay cut or a longer commute, but it’s worth it in the long run. In my last two jobs, I realized that you can’t stay in a job just because you like the people, and must leave if you despise them. In the office there was no one I particularly disliked and I was welcomed in quickly.  After a month they offered me a promotion and a full-time role, and I would have stayed because I liked the people, but it wasn’t the direction I wanted to go in and left on a good note and an open door to return. Next, I took up a voluntary role where the philosophies (alleged) seemed in line with what I was searching for. I watched people come and go, both paid staff and volunteers but no one ever said why. I was to join the not so exclusive group of people who upped and left without notice after 10 weeks, because I knew things weren’t going to change, and one can’t ignore those you don’t like when there are only three staff members left during the holidays. The thought of spending Christmas there depressed me. I had planned my escape (as it was a residential job in the sticks) and managed to get a lift from a visitor who lived in New Haven, near a friend of mine who took me in. I was encouraged to mention my reasons for leaving to the director, and that was no easy task. I told her I was leaving because her daughter was a bully of a boss who treated everyone with disrespect. In my short tenure, I had seen four people make unscheduled exits (one literally spent 10 minutes to pick up their stuff and drove off), a couple who came to try the place out who rejected the offer of a position, and a few who kept threatening to leave. Needless to say, it wasn’t the place, but the people who were running it that made it toxic.

Whatever you may think, you can leave a situation, but you must be brave. Contracts can be broken, but check if there are any liabilities first, and either sort them out or negotiate. Of course the person or people you loathe may leave and that may solve the problem, but can you afford to take that chance on your sanity and mental health? Even online, if there are people on a website or writers I cannot stand I just won’t visit them. We do have choices and it’s not about being arrogant or intolerant. At times we have to choose what is right for us, and being a freelancer that means I can choose whom I work with and I don’t have to give a reason. One thing I can’t do anything about is friends who are friends with those I loathe. While I do believe in choices, it does speak volumes as to who you add as a friend on Facebook and yes, I do judge. If you add a psychotic and egotistic person as a friend, what does that say about you and the company you keep? Reputations matter, especially who your friends are, and who you work with and for. There are a couple of agents that I have worked for with bad reputations, and just the mention of their name can put clients off, so can lose you a job. While freelancing isn’t always financially stable, at least you have control and that is priceless. Sanity is much cheaper than therapy!

Why I Stopped Reading Women’s Magazines

As a teenager I grew up with Bunty (a comic) and graduated to the teen magazines such as Jackie that showed you where to shave, how to do your makeup, and how to be a good girlfriend. It’s kind of funny how today it’s all on YouTube or on a website, but that isn’t the only reason to stop buying magazines.

My mother used to buy the weeklies such as Woman’s Own, and the monthly glossies Good Housekeeping, and the odd Cosmopolitan (was my mother that trendy then?). I yearned to be old enough to buy my own magazines, and glossies were seen as luxury items for posh people. I thought Vogue was out of my reach, but now I realize it was a different era where these spined magazines inspired people, and now you can buy them for £1. These days Vogue is focused on advertising and is a place for the wannabes to be photographed in, and celebrities to say they have made it in the pages of Vogue. It’s no longer a trendsetter, but a place where companies court the magazine to feature their wares be it clothes, art, services, or their name.

You see, I used to subscribe to just about every single magazine a couple of decades ago as I wanted to be a fashion journalist and obviously needed to keep up to date. I even spent time working as a fashion assistant on a magazine, and that was the killer—seeing behind the scenes. It wasn’t glam at all, and much of what goes into the magazine depends on what companies gives the best freebies or who takes someone out to lunch. Still, there was some good journalism, if not some great photos that doubled up as arty posters on my University dorm walls. In the office, time is spent on the phone to sort out samples being delivered, ironing them, signing for packages, returning them, and then trying to make up a story from what you have samples you have managed to get hold of.

I meticulously archived the magazines in order over the years but that came to a tragic end for a number of reasons. First, I was moving house and I couldn’t justify spending money on storage for all the magazines I had. They ended up in about 20 recycling bags, except for some glossies and out of circulation magazines that I hope will one day be worth more than the cover price. In my parent’s house, I had a library, however that too got destroyed. My bedroom was next to the kitchen, to be more precise the washing machine, and I hadn’t been back for years. Apparently my mother has a habit of stopping the machine when she feels like it (to save energy), and didn’t think Calgon was worth buying. There had been a slow leak and my entire bookcase of magazines and books had been ruined. It had lain like that for nearly a year according to their calculations when dad had attempted to fix the drainage. The leak had also damaged the carpet, the bureau, and part of the wooden bedstead, but those things could be replaced unlike a decade of limited edition magazines.

It was heartbreaking as I had to look at what I could salvage, while mold had built up. I had to think to myself they were only magazines, but they had been more. They had been my eyes to the outside world as a teenager in a small town waiting to leave. Needless to say my mother now buys Calgon in bulk and invested in a new washing machine, and put aside her frugality in wanting to keep the machine going until it stopped. There was a lesson here for both of my parents, as trying to use a quick wash and to drain the machine to save energy ended up in them having to replace everything in my bedroom (far more expensive). In addition there were childhood drawings and things that were damaged that could not be replaced, and yes, they did feel guilty.

Anyhow, I digress to the present day. I picked up a few of the old titles I used to love; Glamour, Marie Claire, Red, and Grazia only to find the editorials of today are mainly feminists and leftist rants by sub par writers. I wonderful friend of mine, Riva was featured in Glamour and  admitted that she longer picked up and read magazines, and as she is only 26 years old I wondered why. Now I know—they are no longer inspiring, but packed full of gossip, reality star interviews, and propaganda. That isn’t what women’s magazines are about. Okay, maybe the odd article every now and then, but not when each issue is jam packed with promoting leftist views, and why are the covers of airbrushed actresses or the spouses of celebrities who no one really cares about? Why are reality stars given a status of being inspirational for showing off how they live? Is being married to a celebrity or being on a reality show the qualification to be on a front cover? A cover is supposed to represent the magazine and what it’s about, and that alone stops me buying any of them, as they are neither inspirational or represent anything I admire.

I do buy the odd magazine, but only when there is a decent free gift on the cover. I have built up a nice collection of Elemis face creams, Rodial eye pencils, and some rather nice Neal’s Yard hand creams. That is the only reason for buying them, in fact I take the freebie and recycle the magazine after a cursory flick through. Ironically, the only glossies that maintain some slither of decent journalism are Harper’s Bazaar, and Tatler (tongue in cheek), as Vogue had lost its way a long time ago and clings to its reputation.

Of course as may people turn to online versions of the magazine, the sale of physical copies has declined. Are magazines written for the women of today, and can they truly relate to the content? If so, then I am far removed from it all. I see instead a collection of writings similar to some websites like Thought Catalog or Huff Post where it’s a platform for people to push their ideals and beliefs rather than to report on trends and what is happening in the world. Maybe it’s time to go back to comics for some light entertainment, or failing that you can’t go wrong with a cookery magazine or a travel one for the photos at least?

10 Modern Day Irritations That We Shouldn’t Have To Endure

These days we take the internet and other technological advances for granted to communicate with one another, and to look up things, but how many do we put up with that we shouldn’t have to? Patience is not one of my strongest traits, and here are some things that I wish didn’t exist, but do, and am sure a huge percentage of the population loathe them as well, but what can we do but vent and sympathize with one another!

  1. Click and bait. Whether it’s a headline (Yahoo are the worst) or an email header, I just want to scream ‘Say what you mean for the love of God!’ People hate these vile and deceitful combination of words, so why do people carry on using them? Recently a favorite website of mine has started sending me emails with click and bait, and I can only assume they have an intern doing them who thinks it works. Anything that begins, ‘You’re not going to believe this until you open it’ or ‘Look what happened when…’ is going to disappoint. The worst thing is I have seen ads hiring people to come up with click and bait headers. I can’t imagine people will admit to that on their résumé.
  2. Spam. Before the technological revolution of cellphones and the internet, people called what we coin ‘spam’ as mailshots, and junk mail. It didn’t really matter so much when it was in the post as you could throw it out, and the envelopes were handy to scribble messages on if they were lying around. Plus it kept the postal service and the postie in business. However, spam in your inbox that clogs up your storage space on your email account or phone is annoying. I loathe it, and am grateful for the spam filters even though some genuine messages slip through. When I do occasionally check it, I feel dirty as if I am being violated with rude and crude messages, and fake messages addressing me. I just wonder why these people bother. I despise cold calling and while I understand one needs to pitch for work and new clients, spam is not messaging the way to go, ever.
  3. The options when you get an automated message. As soon as I hear the automated messages, I sigh as I have to decide on which option is best suited to me. Sometimes there isn’t one and I have to wait until they have all been listed and ‘hold’ for someone to assist me which is the idea in the first place of calling. How many times have to you had to repeat those options, or wondered what if I pick the wrong one? You see some companies have call centers around the world, and we mistakenly think all departments are in the same building (but they ought to be!). I hate the automated messages, because if you have a low battery on your phone or poor reception, you can spend ages trying to get a simple thing done, and yes, once by the time I got to the right person my battery had died.
  4. 404 Page Not found. Usually this means you have the wrong URL, the page has been deleted, or the website has gone down or has been abandoned.  It’s a pain, especially when people send incomplete links, or a site decides to take down a special offer. I would curse myself for not taking a screenshot of a voucher code that was taken down, so  I now screenshot a lot because of this. If a company needs to delete, what are they hiding? Just say the offer has ended.
  5. Pop up/under ads. I have to admit that these irritate me so much that even though you can block them, the pop unders still creep in. They are invasive and often spammy ads. To me, a decent website wouldn’t have them, yet many newspaper ones contain multiple ads. I know they need to make money but not pop ups please, or those with media that stream as soon as you open the page. I now put my volume on silent just in case, but then wonder why the page is loading so slowly and find several flashing ads streaming on the page.
  6. Reality shows. There are so many now that you can’t really go a day without one being in the gossip columns, and these reality stars are what keeps these magazines afloat. The shows are cheap to make as people are desperate for stardom (and get paid peanuts), and the audience is guaranteed as long as there are pretty people with scandals. The problem is that the shows are manipulated reality, where people are caught doing silly and foolish things in the name of entertainment. I can’t see why it would be entertaining to watch people make mistakes live and forever enshrined on film. One of my friends was one such person, and I fear she will never really shake off the public perceptions of her as she got involved in  a few romantic tangles for the world to see.
  7. Trolls (bullies, and those that aren’t so bright). They are the bane of society; they have too much time, are billy no mates, and it’s the only way they get anyone to notice them. Trolls are bullies in waiting as they feel they have a right to attack others without just cause. They don’t, and the worst is on Facebook as no one can monitor them. You have to block them instead or delete their posts. I do try and ignore them, but they seem to be breeding like rabbits high on weed.
  8. People who cross the road/or walk aimlessly while looking at their phones. As my brother would say, they deserve to get run over. I’m not that cruel, but they are the cause of accidents and yes, if they did get run over, they should pay the driver for any damage to the car. Why? They don’t have the right of way when they aren’t looking where they are going. I hate it when I am walking down the street and someone stops to text and they feel they have that right, or they when people cross a road while texting. It’s stupid and dangerous. I’m surprised that more people haven’t died from this. Drivers shouldn’t text when they are driving and neither should pedestrians if they can’t look up and see where they are going.
  9. Scam/cold calls from Indian call centers. While some people still fall for these scammers, with caller ID it’s a little harder for these scammers to operate. However, since BT allowed people to buy and use numbers that can hide where they are located, it has become a bit of a minefield again. Being woken up at 8 a.m. with a call that has a pause followed by a greeting of ‘Good afternoon’ you know it’s scam, especially when they say there is a problem with your internet when you don’t have it. There was a time I would be polite, but they woke me up, wanted to scam me, and yes, I just hang up now. The worst is when they asked for me by name and I pretended I had died, and they went on to ask if anyone was interested in what they were selling.
  10. Hackers. Now there are ethical hackers (white hats) and those who steal information and either sell it, or blackmail people with what they have (black hats). The white hats do this to help expose vulnerabilities, while the black hats illegal activities are aimed at destroying and harming. I would include whistleblowers here, because everyone has a right to privacy. Let’s face it who hasn’t written an email in anger or to vent? Having it shared without permission isn’t ethical, nor is the sharing of classified and confidential information. I don’t feel the excuse some hackers come out with is acceptable, especially those who say they just wanted to see if they could do it, and others who say they think it’s in the public interest. There are proper channels for this after all, and if you let one off the hook it sends a message that hacking is okay, and it’s not—it’s illegal. Dangerous actions costs lives!

How To Spot And Deal With A Psycho

I’m not a therapist or psychologist, but I have dealt with and dodged more than my fair share of let’s say unstable folk, that some would say are a little psycho. I’ve been stalked a few times; once by a student (who was a policeman), then by a client, and I’ve had a couple of online nutters that I managed to get rid of because fortunately I never gave my real name. First of all you need to spot a psycho, and then avoid them without upsetting them because they are unpredictable. If that isn’t possible, or you realized a bit late in the day they weren’t what they seemed, cut all ties, and don’t hesitate. While some may not harm you physically, they can make life difficult and stressful by trolling, or stalking you, plus if you upset them they can turn. Here are a few things to look out for, and they may well save you mentally in the long run, and perhaps even your life:

  • People who list their achievements, where they have worked, and who they know are doing it to seek attention. Often it is grossly exaggerated, so beware of these people as they try to impress you to gain trust quickly. Personally red flags start waving in the air when this happens to me.
  • Be careful of those who push for private details such as phone numbers, email addresses, and social media contacts. Most people ask for one, and then build up to sharing other details when they are more comfortable. Unless there is a shared network such as a mutual friend or company, it maybe best to just message on Facebook without adding anyone as a friend, or to give a work email or one that is used for junk mail. If you don’t have a spare email for subscriptions or newsletters, then consider setting one up. These days it’s wise to have separate public work and protected personal social media accounts; it’s normal and acceptable.
  • Don’t feel obliged to respond to any prying communications, but reply if and  when it’s convenient for you. Psychos tend to be impatient and insistent, and that can lead to stalking. Someone that constantly texts, leaves voicemails or instant messages without a break to pressurize you into something, then that’s unstable behavior.
  • Be polite, and let them down gently if they are insistent. A good way is to say that you will be away and won’t have any internet or cellphone reception for a while. Sometimes a break is enough to create some distance. If that doesn’t work, then you may have to resort to blocking, or saying your spam filter is strong if challenged to say that no messages were received.  Don’t open them as some browsers can track and inform a sender when an email has been delivered, open, and read, and some may send viruses. It maybe an idea to keep them in a separate folder in case you need evidence for a restraining order.
  • Never admit to an unstable person that you were too busy to reply as they can turn on you. Of course you have no obligation to them, but for your own safety it maybe safer to feign forgetfulness, a lost password, or a tale of a lost or stolen phone. A minor catastrophe can be a good distraction.

Now, how to get rid of them if they don’t get the hint when you have put off meeting or responding to any communications? First ask others in confidence, by phone or in person if possible if you think someone unstable is becoming a problem. Be careful of online interaction as screenshots or forwarded emails can make things worse if shared and it falls into the wrong inbox. You maybe overreacting, or they may have seen the signs and were unsure whether to say something. That’s often the case, and I will hold my hand up to being guilty here. I sometimes think it’s none of my business or that someone can handle it, whereas I have found people have been grateful for support and also reaffirmation that they weren’t imagining things. Here is what to do if something doesn’t feel right and you think an unstable person is affecting your life:

  • Do a basic internet search of their name and any details you have. Try to use  public wi-fi or do it in a library, as some searches can be traced. Most people have some digital footprint, but if they don’t, that doesn’t mean they are deceitful, but that they wish to protect their privacy. I have a small digital footprint, mainly because I have been stalked before, but I do exist. Make sure they aren’t wanted for a crime, on the run, or have other names. People can have other names such as a maiden name, or pen or stage names, but usually are upfront about it. I had a flatmate whose boyfriend seemed a bit dodgy. I looked him up to find he didn’t exist, but tracked him down and found that he used his mother’s maiden name because he had been in jail. I kind of needed to know that as he was staying over in my flat, with access to everything.
  • If you see unusual activity on your emails or social media, then change the passwords as a precaution. An alternative is to deactivate for a while if the person is a little unstable, because they may take it personally if they find out only they are blocked. Some will try to hack into your details or will browse your profile to find out more information, and then try and befriend your friends. I had a few people that randomly befriended my friends. It was embarrassing when people asked why they were requesting to be friends, and I had no answer. They were quickly blocked. Hide your friends list just in case.
  • Eventually you may have  to block their email address, their number, and on your social media. The best time to do it is in the early hours when they least expect it. Increase all your privacy settings, and switch off your voicemail for a while.
  • You must cut ties, and that may mean mutual acquaintances too (or keep a distance). If they are singled out they may make things worse—this is why it’s best to spot the issue early on to avoid such drastic action. Unstable people are usually narcissists, and a word or action can trigger things. Don’t risk it!
  • If things get worse, then seek legal advice in obtaining a restraining order. Keep evidence of texts and emails. These days stalking can turn from an obsession to actual harm. While part of you may feel you can cope, it can take a toll on your mental health and prevention is better than cure.
  • In drastic situations consider moving, and changing your phone number. It goes without saying to screen all calls, and make sure any emails opened are from people you know. It’s not unusual for unstable people to try and send spam emails, viruses, or to post phone numbers on sex sites. I had some strange calls when people starting calling me up for services that I was not offering, as someone had posted my number somewhere public.

We learn from experience and sadly that means there maybe some unpleasant events along the way. It’s not always easy to spot an unstable person as they can be charming, flattering, and can also be helpful at first, therefore you won’t immediately spot the signs. People who are too eager, who are too open about their activities or feelings use this as a means to show enthusiasm and to garner trust. I mean, why wouldn’t you trust someone who tells you how they feel and what they are doing all of the time? In reality, not many people do, and those who overshare are usually very needy, and do it for attention. The best thing to do is not to interact and engage because it encourages and enables them.

Today stalking and harassing people online as well as in real life is a dangerous issue, and while I have been stalked before doesn’t mean that it won’t or can’t happen again. I am however more aware of the tell tale signs, and I am cautious, and don’t give out too much personal information. Yes, I use screen names and pen names not to hide, but to protect myself. While some social media platforms demand you use your real name to prevent fake profiles, there is nothing wrong in using a nickname or abbreviation of your name to prevent people from finding you. What people need to remember is that everyone has a right to privacy, but also need to take some responsibility to protect their identity and their personal information. Obviously some people won’t appreciate someone looking them up, but if they have nothing to hide then there shouldn’t be a problem. As for online dating, checking someone’s real details is a must if you are going to meet them, and don’t give away too much such as where you live. It’s too risky!

As they say, don’t poke the bear, but walk away and don’t look back.

Why Snowflakes Are Dangerous

No, I don’t mean the fluffy stuff that falls during winter or that adorns a multitude of Christmas card scenes (although when they turn into ice flakes they can sting in minus temperatures, and impair your vision during a nor’easter). The contemporary meaning of a ‘snowflake’ or a ‘special snowflake’ is aimed primarily at the millennial generation who tend to think they are always right (usually with no evidence or a theory), struggle with criticism, and cannot accept when they are wrong or have made a mistake, and who have escalated levels of entitlement. However, snowflakes aren’t solely millennials as some are now seeing this kind of behavior as acceptable, and is spreading to all generations. This is dangerous, especially as millennials are now becoming parents to the next generation and encouraging this blinkered and narrow mindset of behaviors.

It’s dangerous too, as many are bosses, teachers, and who publish their views online and in print, and thus influence the masses, including those who are easily manipulated or ones that aren’t so bright. Slowly this kind of attitude has become acceptable, even though it is essentially a derogatory term, however you want to dress it up. The problem is many snowflakes don’t wish to listen, and it only takes one other to agree with them for them to assume they are right and everyone else is wrong. Often people choose not to engage with them, mainly because it’s a waste of breath and effort to try to rationally discuss things with people who can only see a single viewpoint, but the danger here is that with no one challenging them, again they presume they are correct.

I’ve stumbled across various snowflake outbursts and just ignore them, but recently I decided to challenge one because it was so ludicrous and it could have cost some unsuspecting innocent their job. On Facebook someone was having a rant about a beauty counter not giving her some foundation samples. The responses were mainly in the region of people encouraging the poster to complain. One even went so far as to say write to the area manager and call them to report them for refusing to give out samples! I decided it was time to step in—a few said it depended on the counter and if there were samples available or not, and others were all for getting the counter personnel in as much trouble they could muster. I simply and logically told them all that a free sample is given at the discretion of the staff member, therefore, just because you are there doesn’t mean you are entitled to receive a sample. What if there really were no samples, what if they were the wrong shade or for the wrong skin type? The danger is that that snowflakes encourage one another; my response got one like, and the post encouraging people to call the area manager to complain because a free sample was refused had over a dozen likes. I can tell you now the area manager would do something (rightly or wrongly as brand image is important) because it’s a power trip, even if the staff member was right in not handing out non-existent or incorrect samples. Companies hate complaints, and while some will ignore petty ones, while some will go overboard under the guise of a faux sense of power.

A snowflake may think they are entitled and that they are being lied to, and don’t think of the consequences. That staff member may get fired, warned, turned down for a promotion due to an exaggerated and unsubstantiated accusation. Is that right, reasonable, or fair? All I can do is shake my head at snowflakes, because the more people that agree with them (other snowflakes) then they will just carry on behaving in such a manner, thus they may influence the next generation of ultra snowflakes. I call upon all out there to challenge a snowflake when they are being basically a Prima Donna in order to save society. One can disagree on many topics (I accept many will hate Marmite as long as they accept not all vegetarians like zucchini) and still be civil, and that’s part of being a rational adult human being.

Too many vloggers, and Twitter stars, think they can get away with saying and doing anything, because they appeal to a certain sector of society. An apology is too late, but perhaps it stems from an inflated sense of ego and adulation due to the number of followers they have, or plain inexperience and naivety? Just because someone is popular doesn’t mean they are right, just as the most expensive face cream may not be the best in the world, or the most famous champagne the best tasting one on the market. The same goes for celebrities; they are free to express their beliefs and opinions, but it doesn’t mean that they are right, nor do some assume that they are. As accusations fly around social media accounts once a celebrity endorses or criticizes something, snowflakes need to get they were just expressing a viewpoint—something we all as humans are theoretically free to do. I have a feeling some snowflakes are going to get crushed into slush before they figure out life isn’t perfect, not everyone is going to agree with you, and that learning to accept you are wrong and criticism is called growing up and becoming and responsible member of society. I ignored snowflakes before, but I realize now by ignoring them they have mistaken that as others agreeing with them. Time to catch and save those delicate, and fragile snowflakes now before it’s too late.

How To End A Friendship Quickly…

Easy, claim you’re a Trump supporter (or if you are in the US say you voted for him) and people will think you are crazy, and end your friendship. This may also work if you have been trying to end a relationship, and didn’t know how. It seems to have worked as many friendships have indeed ended, and family rifts that never existed appeared in the last few months.

God Help The USA…I didn’t watch the inauguration of the latest US President—I make it habit to avoid watching mistakes if I can help it. It was like watching your best friend going back to her cheating mobster, criminal, and abusive husband after buying her off with a new house, and a promise to change things. You know it’s just talk, and you’ll end up picking up the pieces again, so it’s a case of waiting, and bracing yourself for the worst.

The Women’s Marches that occurred around the world in protest created more unity and support from the public, as far as Antarctica. Although I’m not a protester, I’m glad people are using their voice and are speaking from a need to unite rather than from fear. What concerns me (and they are in the minority) are the people who are misinformed and who spread hate among their fellow citizens. People may lose their healthcare with the repeal of the ACA, but the ones who cry this is a good thing can afford their own healthcare and are in good health—they don’t need it, but that doesn’t mean one day they won’t need affordable healthcare. Maybe then they will think beyond their selfish needs if they become unemployed, lose their jobs and home, or face bankruptcy and can no longer afford healthcare?

From time to time I scour Facebook for reactions, and it does appear that Trump supporters tend to write in capital letters (obviously unaware that you only use it for the first letter of a word!) and use the same phrases over and over—it’s like a cult. Trump has brainwashed a percentage of the population, and while the rest of the world can see it, many are in a state of denial. Who can save them? While Hillary Clinton maybe no saint, to call her criminal is ironic against a man who has several hundred pending court cases against him. Clinton has none, and as Secretary of State, her actions were protected as she was acting on behalf of the government and not as an individual. A friend of mine said last night that by not voting Clinton in, a World War was prevented, but they could provide no evidence of this. It was just an opinion based on misinformation. Quite the contrary, a World War is more of a threat with someone in charge who has no experience of governance and a basic understanding of politics.

Do people really believe (Trump’s campaign manager) Kellyann Conway’s phrase of alternative truths? In plain English, that is called a lie—when people delude themselves with what they choose to believe. If it’s not a fact it’s called an opinion and not a truth, and while we are all entitled to opinions, there are things that are factual. The problem is many people don’t wish to accept them. I hear people cry that Trump was democratically elected and to get over it, but was he? Was the election rigged, with the reports of hacking from multiple sources, how can one honestly say it was a democratic decision? Each time Conway opens her mouth, I have to stop myself laughing. I pity her in that she doesn’t see how stupid she looks, then she did look stupid in her outfit on inauguration day, where people have compared it to what the cartoon character Paddington Bear would wear.

Friendships have been strained, and I have a few friends who voted or who supported Trump, and I honestly don’t know how to speak to them. What people don’t understand is that what Trump represents (racism, and discrimination, among the most prominent issues) reflects their beliefs too. Two are immigrants; one is well off and another poor, and their only reasoning for supporting Trump is the classic phrase of crooked Hillary. Well, Trump has conned many more people, over decades, so I don’t know how they can’t see that. Many want and hope for change—the change they want is material as in more wealth, and that simply isn’t possible for everyone. I don’t know if the voters will admit they made a mistake or blame something else when it doesn’t happen, but I suspect the former.

I’m not in any hurry to return to the US, and I wonder how to broach the topic of who voted for whom when I greet family and friends. Meanwhile, as protesters march in unity, how much good will that do except to annoy Trump. Shouldn’t these people have come out and voted rather than stay at home, and I read somewhere someone said they voted for Bernie, again, all they did was reduce Clinton’s vote and gave Trump a hand. I remember voting Conservative (in the UK) not because I liked the candidate, but to keep Ed Miliband (Labour) out. It’s called tactical voting, something that either Americans don’t understand or know they can do. It’s a lesson many Americans won’t forget, and while some people say ‘give him a chance,’ well, then what? Grin and bear it, and then suffer for a few years? No one wants another World War, but often those who start them are ones with no experience and a grandiose sense of power. Oh, and Trump is half German (both grandparents were German, thus his father was German) and half Scottish, so it may well be in the genes. I expect more of a war on words across the media and social media, but how useful and constructive is that, and is that going to create jobs and ensure those who need healthcare get it?

I don’t wish to lose any friends, so I’ll keep quiet if the topic arises and signal a halt, and make it known that I don’t support Trump’s policies (what policies) or beliefs. It’s not even political, it’s about moral and common decency and choosing to admire someone who is dishonest. Maybe I just don’t understand humans, but perhaps people are just more greedy and selfish than I thought? I don’t think for a moment Ivanka and Chelsea are still friends, and I think that’s wishful thinking on Ivanka’s part. She can try and salvage her own reputation, but the key word is try.

10 Things I’ve Learnt Not To Take For Granted

As humans we take things for granted, and its’ only when we lose them or don’t have access to things that we learn to appreciate them, and realize how much we need them and miss them. Throughout life we learn by hook or by crook what works for us, and makes life that bit more enjoyable and pleasant. They maybe small pleasures, but they make the difference between a good day and one that could have been worse…

  1. Clean fresh air ~ I’ve lived in London, Hong Kong, Boston, Los Angeles, and New York, and if the smog doesn’t get you, then the humidity during summer will. Breathing in cool, clean, and fresh air is hard these days, but when you do, it’s a joy. After spending humid summers in Boston, New York, and Los Angeles, air conditioning isn’t the same as inhaling fresh air. Trying to sleep in humidity is a nightmare, and I get cranky, besides feeling sticky and uncomfortable. I’m always in a better mood when there is fresh air (but preferably no rain).
  2. A home cooked meal ~ A while back my kitchen ceiling collapsed, and I had to learn to live without a kitchen until the insurance was sorted out. How I missed a home cooked meal! Having microwave meals when you have no choice isn’t fun. I’ve also traveled the world and worked abroad, that meant eating out all of the time, and after a while,  I craved a simple home cooked meal. It can taste better than anything else, even if it’s simply egg and chips, but how you want them. I missed making my own pasta dishes, adding my own combination of sauces, and scrambling my eggs just how I liked them. I remember going to my friend’s house and asking if I could make a bowl of pasta for myself because I missed it so much and she thought it was strange. Only when you don’t have it do you miss it.
  3. Honest and true friendships ~ Many of us lose friends because they drift away, or there is a falling out and no one makes up. I found out how many true friends I had when I moved house, and in some ways it was a test—one that many sadly failed, however, I wasn’t surprised. I’ve also been surprised at the friendships that have grown and endured the test of time, and they weren’t the ones I was expecting.
  4. The consequences of morality and integrity ~ I’ve learnt that having morals and integrity comes with consequences, because people don’t value them. It may mean financial hardship, courtroom battles, the loss of friendships, or rifts with family members when you choose integrity over money and loyalty. The important thing is that you can look yourself in the mirror and know you did the right thing, and not cheat. I can sleep at night as my conscience is clear, although I know many of my former friends may still sleep soundly, but they, as I discovered lacked morals and integrity. One can only be loyal when someone is honest; to cover up a deceit enables them, and makes you complicit.  People have expected me to lie for them or to go along with activities that were less than honest out of a misguided sense of loyalty or naivety, and I have said ‘no’. Some friends were lost, but really I found out what they were really like.
  5. The importance of my mental health ~ These days, we are told we are supposed to put up with things because that’s what strong people do. I would disagree, because your mental health is important, and it can be worn down when people try to brainwash you, or expect you do to things because they can (an abuse of power). Never underestimate your mental health, and put it first above trying to please others, or doing something you don’t want to do. Stand up for yourself diplomatically, but never let anyone tell you that you are weak because you disagree with something.
  6. Silence ~ Never underestimate the power of silence—hearing your own thoughts with no distractions is rare these days with cellphones, and apps going off all of the time. I actually switch mine off these days, and I think back to the days when I used to have three (work), and answered them day and night. Learn to switch it off, and you will discover a realm of contentment.
  7. Being a vegetarian ~ I became a vegetarian as a teenager when there was a salmonella scandal, followed by a mad cow disease outbreak, so it just made sense to be safe. A quarter of a decade later, I think it’s kept me healthier than most of my peers and made me examine food labels and my diet. I’m not one of those vegetarians that preaches as I like a pizza every now and then, and adore onion rings (vegetarian, but not exactly healthy), but it has made me more responsible about my diet and health. I question where my food has come from, and what really is in it. A loaf of bread isn’t just wheat, water, and yeast these days—some contain sugar and animal fats. Read and be aware.
  8. A decent and reliable pen ~ I’m always on the hunt for a good pen that writes quickly, and smoothly. It’s not a lot to ask, but ballpoints run out, gel pen tips can break, and fountain pens are too messy. Whenever I find one I like I buy them in bulk, because there is nothing better than writing with a pen where the ink flows and the barrel is easy to hold. My pet hate is a pen running out, and I keep them everywhere in the house or in my bag. In fact I can have a panic attack if I try to write and can’t find a pen that works. My current favorites are uniball and zebra pens, in black ink of course.
  9. Trusting my intuition ~ I can’t guarantee that everyone’s intuition is going to be right, but in my own experience it has been right at least 90% of the time. What I needed to do was trust it rather than listen to other people who dismissed it. We have intuition for a reason, and we should use it rather than doubt it.
  10. Manners ~ People take manners for granted—I don’t. It doesn’t matter how well educated you are, or how rich you are, if you don’t have manners, then you are a poor person. I’ve always been a sticker for manners, and if people don’t exhibit them, then that first impression lasts. You can never say ‘thank you’ or ‘please’ too often, and is better to say it and mean it, than not to out of misguided entitlement. Manners are free, simple to use, and I ask why don’t people use them? Perhaps they have never been taught, or that they think it doesn’t matter; they always matter, and even if someone ignores you, the simple fact is that it is they who have no manners. You may not ever see that person again, but a thank you goes a long way and make a person feel appreciated and their day a better one. I’ve been on the other side, and it does make a difference.