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Friday Funny- You Need This in Your Life.

This man is my new favourite comedian, bar none (sorry, Mickey Flanagan…). His name is Louis CK and I don’t think I’ve ever found a comedian as relatable as him, most of his jokes are about being a parent. It’s a bit near the knuckle, probably not one to watch at work or around the kids, but check out these clips:

Louis sells all of his own material, directly through his site and I highly recommend ALL. OF. IT. I can’t remember the last time I laughed as much as I do when I watch or listen to him.

(Little tip: if you buy his audio, don’t listen to it when driving down an A-road at 70mph. It’s just not safe)

So yeah, go buy it, I think there’s one of his stand up shows on there for $5 at the moment, so you have very little to lose and oh so  much to gain. If you don’t find it even a tiny bit funny, I’ll give you your money back** So far, he’s made a million dollars from his Carnegie Hall show, a huge percentage of which has gone to charities.

DO IT.

**Of course, I won’t actually give you your money back, that would just be silly.

Knowing Myself (Or ‘Help Me, PLEASE!’)

After yesterdays session at Cybher with Peggy Poyser about revamping your blog for under £50, I’ve started with gusto to try and make my blog exactly what I want it to be. One of Peggy’s tips was to work out exactly what it is your blog should say to other people, then create a colour scheme to compliment it. (That was the general gist, she obviously put it a lot better than that…)

Great, brilliant, a point to start from.

Except, I can’t work out what the hell it is that I’m trying to say or who I even am.

Sure, I guess I could be called a mummy blogger, after all, I am a mummy and I am a blogger. But a pastel colour scheme with cute cartoons over it is so not me. I may not know myself but I do know I’m just not that… insipid. So if I’m not going from the mummy blogger angle, I need to look a bit deeper at what appeals to me.

Animal print.

If there’s one prevailing pattern that I tend to choose for bloody everything, it’s leopard print. I just love it. So a few days ago, Husband created me a banner for my site, complete with leopard print background and funky lettering. I loved it, but Husband made the very good point that ‘Mum’s the Word’ written over a furry leopard print background made my blog look a bit like a landing page for plushophiles (if you don’t know what that is and have to look it up, do so with caution and at a decent distance from children or relatives with a weak heart).

During the session, Peggy showed us a series of swatches of colour and asked us to identify what type of blog each swatch represented. We all got the answers right and Peggy’s point was perfectly made. But I don’t really know what my readers get from coming and reading my random musings? What is it you expect from Mum’s the Word? I’m asking for help here, people! If you have any ideas at all, let me know.  I have a Pinterest board set up for brainstorming and if you see anything that makes you think “Ooh, that’s so Jayne”, be it a colour, pattern, font – anything, tweet me, Email me, link me up on Facebook. Help me make Mum’s the Word a beautiful place to be!

A Mum’s the Word Button!

So, I’ve had a go at making a button. It’s totally naff, my first attempt and was made using GIMP, which is a completely free, Open Source programme, so please excuse the quality. I’m just trying to have a practice of doing things before I move over to my new site and get it looking all spiffy!


Alternative Name

I can’t imagine that anyone would want to display this monstrosity of a button on their blog, but should you come down with a fever-induced madness, here’s the code:

<a href="http://jaynelc.wordpress.com/"
target="_blank">
<img src="http://i181.photobucket.com/albums/x148/jaynecrammond/Button.jpg"
alt="Alternative Name" /></a>

Also, YAY, it may not be pretty, but I got it working!! *does happy dance*

I made my button using THIS tutorial and GIMP, which you can get HERE.

Friendship.

I figured a post about friendship was in order as it’s this months NaBloPoMo theme, and also because in the days of Twitter, Friday has become synonymous with friendship and making new friends, with the Follow Friday movement. But as I sit here writing, it occurs to me that the concept of friendship has evolved, even within my relatively short lifetime, and now represents a whole new set of parameters.

When I was younger, my friends were the people I knew from school, from Brownies, or when I was a bit older, from hanging around our usual (and locally, quite infamous) bench. A friend was an actual, tangible human being who you’d met in real life. You had some close friends who you could call on to comfort you if you’d been dumped, or been given a dodgy haircut, you had some who were always there for a night out, and you had others who were in your group, not necessarily that close to you, more of an acquaintance. I’ve had friendships which have broken down, some of which I miss, many of which I’ve realised that I’m better off without.

Then came the internet. Now we describe people as friends if we communicate with them on a forum, a game, a chatroom, or a social networking site. These are people we’ve never met, may well be wary of giving  your home address to, and certainly wouldn’t call on in an emergency. So, these days, friend means ‘a person I have communicated with through one medium or another’. And I’m sorry, but that just doesn’t cut it for me.

Now don’t get me wrong, I’ve mentioned in previous posts that I’m not as good a friend as I could be. A combination of laziness, lack of time and several fairly irrational social phobias have led to me neglecting several friendships that are very important to me. I’m rubbish at remembering to phone, and the longer I leave it, the higher the anxiety about not phoning builds. I’m even worse at actually getting my arse onto a bus or train, mainly because I have no faith in public transport and have Final Destination-esque visions of a car ploughing into the side of the bus, or a serious derailment caused by children placing pound-coins on the tracks (see, I told you they were irrational…)

I have to say, since I’ve started blogging, I feel as though I have become a part of a community, and whilst I’m still a little uneasy about the term ‘Mummy Blogger’, there is a sense of camaraderie between us. Since I’ve been blogging, I’ve read blogs of other women who’ve made me feel as though I am doing something right, or more appropriately, I’m not doing everything wrong. We all have the same doubts and fears, the same stresses and the same experiences of joy every time our child does something which blows us away. So maybe I’m being a bit harsh on the gamers, the forum writers and chat room regulars. Friendship isn’t just about a physical presence and someone you’d trust with your spare key, it’s about a commonality, a spark of recognition of yourself or your life in another person, be that through a computer or face-to-face. And in these times of hostility and community breakdown, we all need all the friends we can get.

So I urge you all, make it your mission to try to connect with someone new. Comment on a new blog, say good morning to your neighbour or talk to the woman who stands by herself at the school in the mornings as groups of other mums drop their kids off and hang around for a chinwag. It may lead to nothing, it may just be a person you’ll follow on Twitter before unfollowing the after a month because of the banality of their Tweets. But you might, just maybe, find a person who will enrich your life, make you see things from a new point of view and who will, in time, become a firm friend.

 

Amazing Horse.

Today has been a drain on my brain and any creativity that I may possess, so for one day only I will hand my blog over to the incredibly talented Weebl, for your entertainment. Anyone who doesn’t at least tap their foot along to this can stop reading my blog immediately.

Disclaimer: All credit and ownership of this video belongs to Weebl.

Facebook is making me die inside.

I have a bit of a Facebook problem. I spend far too much time checking my Facebook, time when I should be, you know, parenting Sausage or doing housework or something. I’m more than happy to admit that my main motivation for having a Facebook page is my innate nosiness. I love to look at other people’s pictures, read snippets of what’s going on in their lives.

I have 343 online friends, the majority of whom I know in real life…well, sort of. I mean, how well do you really know the girls you went to school with ten years ago? There are quite a few people who I went to school with who I was really happy to get back in touch with, people I truly value but whose lives took such different paths to mine that we lost touch, but on the whole, I barely even knew these girls ten years ago. Now I wish them happy birthday every year and read about their pet cat getting scurvy.

Another little addiction for me is the ‘like’ button. I’m definitely the type of person who gets a kick out of the immediate gratification you get when you update your status and people click ‘like’. I mean let’s face it, why do we update our statuses if we don’t want people to read it, like it and relate to it? It makes us feel valid, doesn’t it?

But why the hell do I need someone who I haven’t seen since primary school ‘liking’ some glib remark I’ve made about Cbeebies to make me feel valid? Does that not say some really negative things about my personality, or is it just all part of the human condition, the condition which made that kid Zuckerberg worth $6.9 billion at the age of 26 (good God, he’s my age? *retches*) So, it’s obviously not just me, is it?

The trouble is, I’m a pedant. I don’t claim that every sentence I write is beautifully composed, with impeccable spelling and grammar (though I do try). But the ‘Facebook insight’ into other people has made me seriously question the level of education in this country. And I’m not just talking about the odd typo, I have at least one ‘friend’ who I’ve only just discovered is virtually illiterate. I’m dead serious. I try not to get too enraged about it all, but when another friend ends EVERY sentence with at least three exclamation marks, one has to wonder what the hell it is that they’re getting so excited about!!! That is the part of Facebook which makes me DIE INSIDE. I check everything I write and go back to delete and re-write whole statuses if I think they don’t sound right, or have a typo. How can others not give a shit that what they’ve written may as well be in Sanscrit?

The other thing that is sometimes lacking on Facebook  is a sense of context. Last year, I joined an online group created by people who were taking the same Open University course as me and I thought it would be really handy to be able to discuss the assignments and issues with a group of my peers. I also received ‘Friend Requests’ from a few of the people in the group, and happily accepted. We were a mixed bunch of varying ages, sexes and circumstances, but we fired up some great debates and helped each other along the way. Then, one day a discussion started about a particular issue which was being played out in the media and based on my (what I thought were fairly standard, by no means radical) comments, two of the women in the group decided to delete the whole conversation, delete me from their friends list and actually go to the effort of blocking me from ever seeing their profiles again.

If these women had known me, if they’d actually thought about the context of the conversation, they would have realised that what may have seemed like a reactionary comment was actually quite a reasoned and reasonable statement to make. Or maybe they wouldn’t. That’s the thing with Facebook, you can’t please all of the people all of the time.

Either way, their blocking me was no great loss and I’ve managed to get through life quite happily without their judgement. But really, doesn’t it all seem like hard work? Making sure we don’t offend people we don’t even know? I have enough trouble censoring myself for the people I know really well!

All I know is, I’ve been trying to lay off of Facebook a bit lately. I’ve not completely quit as I know there are people who I’d really miss. But on the whole, it’s losing it’s appeal. My cousin was actually brave enough to delete her whole profile, an action of which I will forever be in awe.

But at least there’s always Twitter.

*UPDATE* – I deleted the illiterate friend. I know that seems harsh, because I think she’s probably quite a nice person, but I don’t want my blood pressure to go up every time I read her status.

Also, does anyone else have *those* friends, you know, the ones who say deliberately veiled provocative things like “Phoebe is spending her afternoons sunbathing in the nude in her garden”. You just know they’re sitting there going “Ooh, how can I get people to think about my tits, without actually coming out and saying “hey everybody, think about my tits!” and thus garner an extra molecule of attention out of my friends?”. Or those ones who invent a personality for themselves, which you’re pretty sure doesn’t exist outside of Facebook?

Yeah, those people make me feel a bit nauseous.

ShowOff Showcase

OH NOEZ, NOT TEH INTERNETZ!

So, I don’t know if you’ve noticed, but I’ve made a couple of changes on my blog. First of all, I’ve removed any trace of my daughter’s name from my posts, and have removed the post which contained pictures of her. Secondly, I’ve also removed my Husband’s name from all of the posts.

They will, forever more, be known in the blogosphere as “Sausage” and “Husband”.

Now, I’m well aware that this may seem like locking the stable door after the horse has bolted, but I’ve only had really positive feedback so far, so I’m hoping the nice readers that I’ve had up until are not the type to go and use our identities for nefarious purposes.

When I started this blog, if I’m totally honest, I didn’t really think anyone outside of my friends and family would read it, but I had moderate interest from others and, whilst this is a pleasant surprise, I now feel a bit like I’ve hung my family out for all to inspect.

I will continue to mention Husband and Sausage in my posts, but I’ll try not to be as…personal. The older I get, the more I find the internet to be a scary place. I don’t want pictures of my kid to be found on hard drives of dodgy people and I don’t want our identities to be somehow used against us.

I hope you’ll continue to read, and bear with me while I adjust to their new monikers.

Homage.

I thought I’d do a little post to give you an insight into the blogs which inspire me, the blogs that I love.

So here goes, in no particular order:

Hyperbole and a Half

This part comic, part blog, part autobiography is written by Allie Brosh and is probably my favourite blog on the whole of the interwebs. The illustrations, which are all done with MS Paint are unbelievably emotive and marry perfectly with her witty, irreverent and downright genius story telling style.

Her stories will have you laughing, squirming and sometimes wishing you could find her, wrap her in a blanket and give her a hug.

As a side note, her mini-blog Spaghatta Nadle is also well worth a read.

Free Anissa

Anissa Mayhew has been through more over the years than most. She started blogging after her daughter, Peyton, developed cancer at the age of 2 and a half. Anissa, who has herself suffered several strokes, is now a regular contributor at Aiming Low and gives us a view of what it’s like to be totally kick ass whilst rocking a wheelchair.

If you want an inspirational read, you be hard pushed to find one better than this.

The Spohrs are Multiplying

Another inspirational one, Heather Spohr is a mother to Annabel, and sadly lost her eldest daughter Maddie in 2009 to a respiratory infection. In spite of the trauma her family have suffered, Heather manages to make me laugh with almost every post and expresses herself with true grace and insight.

I also LOVE the How-To videos posted by self-confessed nervous hair twiddler Heather, in which she shows us how to recreate some great hair-dos!

Aiming Low

I couldn’t possibly talk about the blogs above without giving a nod to the site that brings them, and more, together into one place to produce a blog for average women everywhere.

Aiming Low is a blog which, in its own words, “strives for anti-perfection”. This blog is a breath of fresh air to women who don’t claim to be the best mother, the best housewife, the best at work, the best in bed…and so on!

With over a dozen regular contributors, Aiming Low is the blog for women who don’t want to be made to feel bad about their piles of laundry and the dishes in the sink.

Bakers Royale

This blog is for anyone who has ever eaten cake…and liked it.

Naomi combines her own love of baking and photography, and sifts through other baking blogs to bring you the best of baking from the internet. The pictures on her blog are so well taken and beautifully presented that you can’t help but salivate at the sumptuous creations. And the best part is, the recipes are right there on her blog, for you to recreate at home.

Do yourself a favour, though, don’t read this if you’re on a diet, about to go food shopping or standing next to somebody elses’ uncut birthday cake…the need to indulge yourself will be overwhelming!

Honourable Mentions

Percolations from a Decaf Mind – Dedicated to keeping you up-to-date with Tony’s two greatest passions – Technology and Liverpool Football Club.

Big Girl’s Browse – A great blog for those of us who aren’t stick thin, but still love to shop.