Sunday, 31 January 2010

Mary and Martha

So I found my hat (turned out my sister had taken it), and the oven is on its way to being fixed, and there has been much rejoicing.

Now, I may have mentioned that my sister is doing a PCGE, with a view to becoming a teacher, and to this end, she is co-opting anyone within shouting distance to help with Lesson Preparation. So this week's lesson is RE, and they're doing the story of Mary & Martha. You know the one: Mary and Martha invite Jesus for tea, and then Martha does lots of work making dinner, and Mary just sits and listens, and then Martha gets cross with Mary, and shouts, and Jesus says Mary's the one in the right, and then Mary doesn't even act all smug like I would have done. The point is that it is better to listen to Jesus than to be engaged in activity and not listening to Jesus, even if the activity is good.

Now, this being 2010, the children cannot be taught That Sort Of Thing, so instead they are teaching the story in terms of how generally it is better to spend time with your friends than to be being busy all the time. Or something.

So with this vaguest of all points in mind, Sister decided that the lesson needed jazzing up. And you know what would jazz up an RE lesson? That's right, a DVD. Cos we all like DVDs, right? But of course it can't be any old DVD, it has to be related to the story in hand, and of course we do not have one of those. So she decides we'll make one.

And this is it:

If you're now confused about the point of the story, be assured that you're in good company, but isn't it fun?

Friday, 29 January 2010

A Poem I Wrote About Not Being Able To Find My Hat

I cannot find my hat -
I do not
Know where my hat is,
But this I know:
My hat is not
Where my hat us'ly is.

Sunday, 24 January 2010

The Oven, and A-Z

So last night I had some People round, and had put dessert in the oven, and was sitting chatting in the living room, when there is a large bang from the kitchen.

So I'm all like 'Wah!'.

And then someone else says they saw a flash.

So two of us hurried to investigate, and two remained behind in the living room where the sweeties were, but we'll leave them out for now because the point is what happened in the kitchen. So we realise the oven is off, and we connect the bang and flash with this. We open the oven, and a little smoke comes out - not a lot, like something's on fire, just a little, like something tried to be on fire and failed. The switch on the wall is switched on, but the red light is off, and the switch that the kettle goes into is also switched on but without red light.

So the two from the living room are summonsed, and generally we agree the fuse has gone. This does not, of course, account for smoke coming from the oven, which is likely to be the primary issue, but we know how to fix fuses and we don't know how to fix ovens, so we get some screwdrivers out and open the fuse box. We (I say 'we', but I was now well away and trying to prepare an alternative dessert (I say 'I' was trying; I mean Cath, with me watching and locating knives and things)).

After a time, Mark (who had Taken Things In Hand) dropped the spare fuse down a hole in the floor. Dave phoned his dad, who said to put the spare fuse in where the old one had been.

So we left it, and instead decided to make a list of things, from A-Z, that we would like to do sometime, and this proved much more productive.

Of course, I can't cook food any more, but I'm not that hungry anyway. In any case, since the oven was only installed 4 years ago, I'm thinking that if it's broken, I Have Rights, and the Q&B thing may re-open. Hard to say.

Monday, 18 January 2010

WhyNotSmile Guide To Finding Work As A Freelancer

Good afternoon. I have been Quite Busy of late, making websites and quilts, and while I have had inspiration to post, I have not had the time to actually do it. However, today I am back with a Public Service Announcement on How To Find Work When You Are A Freelancer.

You see, what I do is design and build websites, which is quite nice, but can be a little stop-start in terms of the amount of work that comes in. To remedy this, there are a number of websites dedicated to helping freelance people find work, and I have signed up to avail of the services of many of them. Having done so for a number of months now, I am pleased to offer the WhyNotSmile Guide To Finding Work As A Freelancer.

1. Decide what you can do.
You can probably do more than you think. Technical skills are useful, of course, and there is a vast range of things that you could probably have a stab at, such as copy-writing (much, no doubt, to the annoyance of actual proper copy-writers), but there are also many jobs which require only willingness and no allergies. Most of them involve pets.

2. Find someone who needs that done.
You may need to be persuasive here. It is entirely possible that you are the finest juggler of nectarines in the South-East, but that's neither here nor there until someone wants to pay you to see it. At this point, you need to understand you USPs (Unique Selling Points). It doesn't really matter what these are, as long as you say them repeatedly and enthusiastically to as many people as possible - eventually you'll hit on a sucker and *bingo* you're off. The key is to forget the fact that no one needs your skill, and to believe instead that everyone does.
For instance:
! Finest juggler of nectarines in the South-East!!
! 5 nectarines at once!!
! IDEAL for birthday parties, bar mitzvahs, weddings and many other occasions!!
! Lessons available!!
! Fun-filled, exciting, edge-of-your seat entertainment at LOW prices!!
Now go to a freelancer website. Send your ad to everyone on there, even if they need someone to write a technical manual for their payroll software. Crowbar it in. Make a name for yourself. Get KNOWN. Go through the lists of projects and bid on everything.

3. Decide how much you want to charge.
Everyone will tell you that you can easily earn £500 per day as a freelancer, and even more if you actually know what you're doing. Of course, this is not at all true, as a cursory examination of jobs posted on these freelance websites tells you. The most frequent post is along the lines of:
I need a social website built with photo upload discussion board iPhone intergration, like Facebook but better I have loads of, ideas and I want it to be really good, no time-wasters please, my budget is £200. Also I would like it done as soon as possible please, please dont bid if you cant have it done by this weekend thanks
Essentially, most buyers of freelance services expect you to work for £2 per hour, and quickly.

4. Decide on your ethical and moral stance.
You may feel that you will do anything for cash, but it's not that simple, because if you do, sooner or later someone will sue you. For this reason, promising to build a 'Facebook clone' is probably putting you on shaky ground, as is anything that includes lines like 'I have the images already, to save money, I took them from our competitors website.'
There are also numerous requests for work which begin **NOTE: this post includes material or an adult nature. If you are offended easily, please do not read on **; it is best to have a Policy on these before you start.

5. Decide whether you can work with the buyer.
So you've found a job which is decently priced, within your skill set and legal. Well done. You have already achieved more than most. The next stage is to decide whether the buyer of your services is someone with whom you can do business. Since they are, at this point, basically words on a page, they will have to be doing something really bad to put you off immediately; the key thing is to understand the more subtle clues which hide between the lines.

For example:

'This is not a big job, but it needs to be done by tomorrow because I have promised it to the client by then'
TRANSLATION: 'I am pitifully disorganised and unable to complete my own work. This was due in a fortnight ago, and the client is threatening to sue me. I would like to have someone to share that responsibility with.'

'You need to be available 5 days a week, 9-5'
TRANSLATION: 'I am a control freak who will Skype you every 20 minutes and hires freelancers because all my full-time employees quit after 3 days'.

'Top-quality workers only'
TRANSLATION: 'We need someone who will make up for the complete lack of talent in the full-time team'.

'LOL' (anywhere in advert)
TRANSLATION: 'I'm an idiot'

6. Place your bid.
I'm assuming here that we're on one of those sites where people post jobs they need done, and you bid for it (not one of the ones where the price is fixed). The golden rules here are:
i) Try to sound sane, upbeat, positive and skilled. Saying 'I hav nevr used RubyOnRales but I learn relly fast' is not going to get you the job. Saying 'I have completed a number of similar projects in CSS, which is similar to Ruby on Rails, and am confident that I will complete this job to the best standards' might. The buyer typically won't have a clue that comparing CSS to Ruby on Rails is like comparing Dolly Parton to the Large Hadron Collider, and you can always get help online.
ii) List your past projects, unless they were really bad, in which case, don't.
iii) Do not bid first. The first person is there only to set the bar for everyone else.
iv) Ignore the budget. Just say how much it would cost you to do the job. Lots of buyers have no idea how much the project will cost, so they aim low. Convince them that you are worth paying more for. Acknowledge that your bid is a little above the posted budget, but do not say things like 'but I'm worth it'.
v) Do not completely ignore the budget. That's just silly.

7. Sit back and wait.
In the meantime, read the job specs and see if you really know how to do it.

8. Put Google Ads on your blog and try to raise money that way.

Saturday, 9 January 2010

I Need Car Advice

So here's the thing - I need advice. It has been snowing for about a week now, and it occurs to me that this might not be very good for my car. Here are my dilemmas:

1. Should I remove the snow, or does it provide a cosy blanket to keep Fifi warm?

2. Should I start the car every couple of days, and run the engine for a wee while?

3. Anti freeze. I should probably put some in there, yes? But I always thought they did that when they serviced the car, which happened last March. I don't think I've added anything to the car since then, except petrol. So I do not really know whether there is anti freeze in the car or not. Should I get some and whack it in? Or would I have to remove the current contents of whatever bit the anti freeze goes in first? Is it too late by now? Also, since I have not added anything since 10 months ago, maybe there is not much in there to freeze?

Any advice is welcome. Thanks.

Monday, 4 January 2010

It Is Cold Today

So last night, my sister turned off the heating because it was getting Quite Warm in the house. But she turned it off off, not just off for now. So this morning it didn't come on. So she complained the house was cold, and then I explained what had happened, and she was sorry.

But then she went out, so I am in a cold house by myself. Although I have turned the heating back on, obviously.