Archive for September, 2007

Burma

The following is a message from the internationally respected campaign group Avaaz.

http://www.avaaz.org/en/stand_with_burma/t.php

“Dear friends,

Burma’s generals have brought their brutal iron hand down on peaceful monks and protesters — but in response, a massive global outcry is gathering pace. The roar of global public opinion is being heard in hundreds of protests outside Chinese and Burmese embassies, people round the world wearing the monks’ color red, and on the internet– where our petition has exploded to over 200,000 signers in just 72 hours.

People power can win this. Burma’s powerful sponsor China can halt the crackdown, if it believes that its international reputation and the 2008 Olympics in Beijing depend on it. To convince the Chinese government and other key countries, Avaaz is launching a major global and Asian ad campaign on Wednesday, including full page ads in the Financial Times and other newspapers, that will deliver our message and the number of signers. We need 1 million voices to be the global roar that will get China’s attention. If every one of us forwards this email to just 20 friends, we’ll reach our target in the next 72 hours. Please sign the petition at the link below -if you haven’t already- and forward this email to everyone you care about:

http://www.avaaz.org/en/stand_with_burma/t.php

The pressure is working – already, there are signs of splits in the Burmese Army, as some soldiers refuse to attack their own people. The brutal top General, Than Shwe, has reportedly moved his family out of the country – he must fear his rule may crumble.

The Burmese people are showing incredible courage in the face of horror. We’re broadcasting updates on our effort over the radio into Burma itself – telling the people that growing numbers of us stand with them. Let’s do everything we can to help them – we have hours, not days, to do it. Please sign the petition and forward this email to at least 20 friends right now. Scroll down our petition page for details of times and events to join in the massive wave of demonstrations happening around the world at Burmese and Chinese embassies.

With hope and determination,

Ricken, Paul, Pascal, Graziela, Galit, Ben, Milena and the whole Avaaz Team

Random stuff the day before it all kicks off

One advantage of being plugged into a university network (along with thousands of other students) is that one often finds other users inadvertently sharing their music collection. Right now, in iTunes, just above my own music collection are those of two other people who have forgotten to turn ‘library sharing’ off on their computers. I’m now listening to some rather nice music that is being streamed directly from a mystery student’s computer. Thank you Mystery Student.

It was only after I had laughed at their silliness that it occurred to me that I might inadvertently be doing the very same thing. Into iTunes preferences I go, and sure enough, I am offering 9978 songs to users of the uni network.

How kind of me. That might explain why my external hard drive has been spinning up at odd moments.

In other computer-related news, I spent a few hours this evening with the award-winning artist Panni Po Yoke Loh, who is hoping to do some podcasting during her upcoming exhibition. She too is a Mac user, but hasn’t wasted much of her life in front of the screen like yours truly, thus was after a few hints and tips. It was a pleasure to visit her home studio – such an inspiration! Sometimes this degree is such a distraction!

If you are in the Sheffield area, why not visit Panni’s East-West Spirit Earth exhibition – it opens to the public on Saturday 4th October. Further information on her website.

My good friend Will of Willyaki.co.uk fame will be supporting the event too. I’ve seen a lot of him since I got back – very inspirational. Lots of business ideas buzzing around, including a different approach to selling my photography. Oh! If only I had the time!

I’ve finally finished the 9000 miles website. It’s built for Firefox and Safari – and I don’t expect any Mumblers are daft enough to be using Internet Explorer, so the fact that it doesn’t display properly in that shouldn’t be an issue, right?

It’s now a nice self-contained package – a bid to not let the story get lost amongst the hundreds of mumbles I have in the archive.

I learned on Friday that I have a part-time job. I’m a member of the Tech Team within the ‘Student Network Ambassador’, which came into existence a little while back thanks to a 4 million pound grant from the government to promote Inquiry Based Learning. Do you remember I gave a presentation via Skype for a symposium in Sheffield when I was in Tokyo earlier this year? – that was for the IBL program. It must have been soon after that that I said I’d be interested in being a Student Ambassador, but was unaware that it actually paid until I attended my first meeting on Friday. Jolly good jolly good. Apparently I’m going to be trained in how to use all the latest technology and work on helpdesk and stuff. Suits me (gadget boy) down to the ground. Oh, and I get paid to Blog as well!

In other finance-related news, I was delighted to receive a phone call tonight telling me that *Twinkle*s new health and beauty business in Japan saw a turn-over of £6000 / $12,000 in September. It’s seen steady growth all year, a sure sign that she has a great team working with her.


I would be peeing my pants about tomorrow (tomorrow being the first day of the new semester), were I to truly appreciate just how terrible my kanji knowledge is at the moment. I was going through my flash cards from the second year today, and whilst I could remember most of the meanings, when it came to the readings I was stumped, even with basic characters. I think that this year is going to be my toughest yet, as I grapple with my conflicting desires. Really, I just want to be out there taking photos and things, and in here being ‘creative’ with my Mac, …but I’ve started this degree, so I really must finish it.

Am I still aiming for a 1st (70% and over)? Well, the answer I want to give is ‘No, I’ll be happy with a 2:1 (60%~69%), but these damn books and CDs have taught me to say ‘Yes – if you really want it, you can get it’.

I added meditation to my daily routine this morning. Perhaps that will save me.

Fruit would be good too. I must buy some tomorrow.

Oh, did I mention that I’ve given up alcohol? You know what, it feels fantastic. Several mornings this past week I have woken up after a night out and thought, “Wow, it feels soooo good to know that I don’t have that poison inside me!”. And blackcurrant and soda is only 45p per half-pint.

Anyhow, best get to bed. It’s up at 6am for me from now on.

Tatta

xxx

Change the channel

I would like to report back on the successful outcome of an experiment that I began 7 weeks ago, prompted by my departure from a broadband/TV equipped place of rest.

The experiment has basically involved avoiding all news of the national / international variety. No glancing at newspapers in shops, no more daily emails from news sites, no subscribing to RSS news feeds, and especially no television or radio news.

Initially it was a bit tough – I felt I was missing out, and what if something really important happened?!

How do I feel now?

Firstly, far less angry, frustrated or upset about events elsewhere. After all, what is the point in leaving myself open to a constant stream of negativity? Does it help me? Does it help others? No, not in the slightest. It merely spreads the negativity, the depression, the anger, it increases the overall amount of negative energy in the air and does no one any favours.

But what about when something really bad happens and people need your help, like after the Asian Tsunami of 24th Dec.

Well, it turns out that when something important like that does happen (such as the current events in Burma) someone will tell you about it.

But what about education? Won’t one end up being an ignoramus?

Only if one thinks that the only way to educate oneself is to consume media hype.

In summary, this experiment has been a great success for me personally, and I would invite others to try a media switch-off, and maybe subscribe to some positive news. It’ll do wonders for your mood if you’re the kind easily frustrated by bad news, and perhaps even for those of you who think you deal with it without a problem too – subconsciously all that negativity can’t be doing you any good.

:-)

[edit]

Do feel free to take part in the raging debate in the comments section

Inspiration

I’d like to share a few links and stuff that has caught my attention lately.

First off is How to Write Down Your Goals – [MrWangSaysSo]. I’ve integrated this into my daily routine: why not try it yourself and we’ll compare notes in a few weeks.

Incidentally, I cam across that via the ever-excellent Lifehack.org.

Then there’s Kintaro Walks Japan – now why haven’t I done that? I did enjoy that video, although it left me feeling a bit pathetic. It’s just the kind of thing that appeals to me, the sort of thing I feel I really should be doing (Thanks to Tom for the link).

Those feelings of frustration at not reaching my full potential were once again brought up by A Long Ride (thanks to Mum#2 for the link). In fact, it was whilst I was in Mongolia that I received the mail pointing to that site; my initial reaction was ‘Joseph, what the hell are you doing taking the train?! Everyone takes the train? Why not live a little – get on yer bike!’

I just hear these words echoing in my head: “don’t die with your music still in you”.

Another source of inspiration is No Impact Man (thank you AC) – what a fabulous experiment!

A superb little animation entitled “The Big Hoax” reveals the system for what it is – check it out here (thanks Alice).

That’s all for now.

You don’t know me but, (…I know everything about you)

Last night, whilst loitering in the Student Union foyer waiting for folks to turn up for our first Japan Soc social, I was approached by a a stranger who said,

“You must be Joseph! How’s your knee now?”

This reference to an injury I sustained in the spring in Japan through the Trailwalker Challenge came as something as a surprise to me – who was this guy, and how did he know about my knee?

“Oh, and congratulations on the engagement! How is *Twinkle* by the way?”

Seeing me looking a little freaked out he began to explain,

Well, the thing is, I found your podcast online, been listening to the archives for the past couple of months. I’ve not had internet access lately so haven’t been able to check the Mumble – but obviously you got back OK from where I left you in Russia!

Ah, so that’s why you know everything about me…

I used to feel uneasy about people in real life plugging in to TGW (it’s private, don’t you know!). These days it’s not really an issue. Mind you, only this week I was talking with someone who was expressing alarm at the thought of sharing so much stuff with the world – doesn’t it leave one vulnerable?

Well, yes it does, should one choose to react to negative feedback / mini hate-sites with an attitude of fear and hurt. However, should one choose to accept criticisms with an attitude of gratitude, then it’s a different story.

Oh, that’s not an invitation by the way :-)

As it happens, the chap I met yesterday was very complimentary about my podcast/blog/photos; that kind of positive feedback is priceless, and makes it all worthwhile!

Anyway, today is Friday. Meeting day. Registration day. Happy day. Time to embrace it.

love joseph