Wednesday, 30 September 2009


I need you all to help me to think. Here's the thing: I need a job. Or, not necessarily a job, but a way to earn money. But there are criteria. For example:

1. I need to work from home. This is due to being kind of agoraphobic, so if I work in an office I spend all day in a panic and it's not very productive. If I work at home, I am happy and it is extremely productive. I would not mind having to visit an office once in a while, if it was in Belfast. But I would rather not have to do that at all. I also don't mind being out and about a little bit, as long as it does not involve being in a confined space with a person or peoples. But if I could have a job where they sent me instructions and I did what they asked and sent the results back, then that would be good.

2. It needs to be legal and morally sound. So don't suggest I start a brothel.

3. It needs to pay enough for me to have self-respect. I refuse to work for £2.50 per hour, no matter what the recruiters on the freelance sites are saying ("Hey! I need a Facebook clone built, to launch next month! I have a really tight budget (£200), but once I get 100,000 people signed up, I'll give you 1% of the profits"). Even I think I'm worth more than that.

I think these are all the conditions, but I might think of more when I hear your suggestions.

Now, here are my ideas so far:

1. Freelance web design. I already do this. So you could employ me to build you a website. I'm very good. Really.

2. Maths. For instance, suppose you need an equation differentiated. Or you need to know the square root of something. Then I could do it and you could pay me. I admit that this has a limited market, but perhaps it's a start.

3. Selling books. I also already do this. So you could buy some children's books from me.

4. Get put in jail. This is what we call 'thinking outside the box'. It doesn't earn me money, but it's a way of living without having to pay for anything. The agoraphobia might be a problem at first, because I don't like new places, but I think it would be ok once I got used to it. I'm not sure how to get put in jail though; it would need to be for a decent amount of time, otherwise it just leaves me coming back out in 5 years with no improvement in my employment prospects, and I can't think of anything I could get jailed for that's not... well... illegal.

5. Win money. This could work, but it would need to be on a lottery level to make a real difference, and I don't do the lottery. But if you hear of any competitions, please let me know.

6. Sue someone. At the moment I can't think of anyone to sue, but perhaps if I keep my eyes out, there will be a patch of something I could slip on, or a pavement I could trip over.

So these are my ideas at this point. I should also mention that I am a software programmer, and I can make things like blankets, and I'm very nice.

Please leave your suggestions in the comments section.

Saturday, 26 September 2009

On Orderings Of Books

An awesome thing happened on Thursday evening. I ended up alone in a room with an unordered bookshelf. And 25 minutes to do what I pleased with it. I KNOW! I was like a child in a toy shop, a bull in a china shop and... umm... me in a bookshop? Anyhow, moving on...

I began, of course, by taking all the books off the shelf and putting them on the floor. In such a situation, this is the only proper way to begin. Next, I removed the videos and cassette tapes which had weaseled their way in, and put them on a separate shelf, at the top.

And then, I had to decide on a system. And to be honest, it wasn't easy. I thought of sorting by author, but they weren't really that kind of book (the bookshelf in question was our church 'library', whose stock mostly consists of books people were clearing out - not that this is a bad thing, but it makes the selection a little... random). They're the kind of books you want to browse, and sorting by author doesn't lend itself to browsing.

Next, I considered organising them asthetically - either by colour, height, or a combination of both. This would have worked well in terms of making them look pretty, and with a certain amount of effort, one can get a fairly pleasing arrangement in this manner, but eventually I decided there wasn't enough variation in the colours and sizes of the books for it to be entirely satisfactory.

So, finally, I settled on arranging them by subject - 'prayer', 'Bible study', 'Christian tat' etc. - and within that to go for alphabetical order of either author or title.

This progressed well, and for a time I was even wondering where I could get a hold of a copy of the Dewey Decimal system (as used in public libraries) and make the appropriate modifications to ensure that I had covered all categories correctly, but I was interrupted by everyone else arriving for the meeting for which I had been 25 minutes early, so I didn't get to finish. Still, it was fun while it lasted.

Saturday, 19 September 2009

Things That Feck Me Off: #2, The Whole Cold/Flu Tolerance Thing

What with all this noise about swine flu, it seems that every time someone sneezes at the moment is an excuse for someone to back off, waving their hands in an exaggerated way, making pig noises. Hilarious. Gets funnier every time you see it, too.

Anyway, I was talking to Alex the other week about pain thresholds, and how we* despise people who claim to have a really really high pain threshold and look at you like you're a wimp when you cry because you fell over (for instance). You know the sort of people I mean. They boast about never taking tablets, and how they make it into work despite the crushing pain in their head/back/stomach/whatever. Whereas when I get sick and have a day off, this makes me a pathetic work-shy waste of space. What never seems to occur to these people is that maybe I am, in fact, more sick than them. That maybe their headache is not that bad, and that if they had a headache that was as bad as my headache, they'd be curled up under a desk, eyes shut, wimpering for an epidural. I'm not saying this is the case, I'm just saying we have no way of knowing. When I got my wisdom tooth out, it fecking hurt, and I DO NOT want to listen to people who breezed through it without anasthetic - maybe you are braver and stronger and a more worthy person than me, or MAYBE my teeth have deeper roots. WE CANNOT TELL.

Likewise, people who, when I say 'I've been feeling fairly down lately' (meaning: I have spent approximately 80% of my time sobbing into my pillow and the remaining 20% trying to talk myself out of a complex plan which terminates with a leap off the nearest tall building) say 'Oh, I'm so depressed too, I have so much work to do and I don't think I'll get it done for the weekend'. 'No', I want to say, 'You are not depressed, you are merely regreting your self-inflicted disorganisation'.

Which brings us to another thing I wanted to mention: colds and flu. More specifically, the difference between the two, and, on a topical note, swine flu**. Here's the thing: flu is not just a heavy cold. Trust me. It is a different thing entirely. The fact that they have some symptoms in common does not make them the same thing. For the mathematically inclined, sniffing does not imply flu.

If you come into work with the flu, and I take a week off with the flu, it does not mean you are a better person than me. It means you didn't have flu and I did. If you take part in a triathlon with your flu, and I stay in bed impering for several days with mine, it does not mean you are a hardier soul than I am. It means you didn't have flu and I did. Just because you could go scuba-diving when you had your flu, and I took to bed with a box of lemsips, a forest of tissues and a deep wish to never see daylight again, does not make you a better person.

Please stop pretending it does.

Thank you.

* Technically, I can't remember whether Alex actually went so far as to despise such people. I know I do, though.

** Incidentally, I am due to catch flu this year. I had flu in 1989 and I had flu in 1999, so it's about due.

Friday, 18 September 2009

Nothing in particular

I'd have posted sooner, but every time I go online I watch that Bonnie Tyler thing again and end up losing all motor skills. Anyway, it's not like I have much to say, so you haven't really been missing anything. I've just been doing a lot of work. An almost unprecedented number of people are wanting me to make websites for them, so I've been distracted by that.

You'll be glad to hear that I'm getting on fairly well with Sister Smile since she moved in; this may have been helped by the fact that she's been here for approximately 2.5 hours since moving in at the start of the month. When she's not here, of course, Papa Smile is clamouring for her room, because he likes being in Belfast because you can be nosey in Belfast in a way that you can't in Ballysmile because (1) there's nothing to see there and (2) everyone knows you, so you can't just go round gawping in windows. The wonder of the city is that one can be completely anonymous, and there's always plenty to see, so we had a good wander round the new houses that have just been built near me, and decided they were OK but a bit small.

Tomorrow is the church prayer room; I say this as if you should know what I'm talking about, because I can't be bothered explaining. But it will occupy a Certain Amount of my time, so I thought I'd mention it in case you're looking for me.

Monday, 14 September 2009

Literal Lyrics

You'll be pleased to hear that the cycle to Comber went well, although I've ended up with a sunburnt nose. But you can't have you cake and eat it, as they say, and it was an excellent day. Made more amusing by Mama Smile (who had arrived separately, by bus) being admitted on concessionary rate without even having to ask for it (normally she likes to have to prove that she qualifies); furthermore, we later discovered that concessionary rate applies to over-65s, and therefore she actually has a few years to go yet.

Anyway, it is not often than an internet phenomenon passes WhyNotSmile by, but it seems that I have failed to spot the 'Literal Lyrics' trend. Until now. For those of you haven't come across this either, the idea behind it is that music videos (particularly those from the 80's) are very often fairly unrelated to the songs they are supposed to be enhancing, so a number of people have been re-writing the songs to fit the video.

My personal favourite is 'Total Eclipse of the Heart', but there are plenty more on YouTube (please note that some parts of this may not be completely suitable for family audiences and those of a sensitive disposition):

Tuesday, 8 September 2009

Things You Are Invited To

You know how I like to keep you entertained, right? Because WhyNotSmile is the centre of all social activity. So, two things you could come to:

1. Cycle to the Green Living Fair, Saturday 12th September. I volunteer (yeah, I'm so nice) with Sustrans, who are organising a cycle ride from Belfast to Castle Espie (just outside Comber) this Saturday. Castle Espie are having a Green Living Fair, which is always good, and you get in for free if you arrive by bike, which is even better. So Sustrans organise a cycle ride every year, so you don't have to cycle on your own and get lost and things.
We're leaving from the Ravenscroft car park at Holywood Arches at 10am on Satuday morning, so come along just before that to register. The plan is to be at Castle Espie by about 11.30 or so (there will be kids in the group, so it could be quite slow, and there'll be plenty of rests); stay for about 3 hours at the fair, and then cycle back to Belfast.
Children have to be with an adult and have to be wearing a cycle helmet (let's face it, everyone should be wearing a helmet, but for adults we'll not send you home - if you fall off, on your own head be it, possibly literally).
The whole trip is about 20 miles or so, and it's pretty flat for most of the way.
The fair itself is really good; there will be crafts and food and cavity wall insulation and also you can feed the ducks. Oh yes, bring waterproofs in case it rains.
So if you would like to come along, please do. I'll be registering people, so do say hello.

2. The Pontiax Blues Band, Saturday 3rd October. In our band in church, there's this guy called laurence, who's in a blues band, who are very good and play at Proper Things like Jazz and Blues festivals and St George's Market and pubs and things. They are doing a concert in our church on 3rd October, and you are all invited. It will be proper Blues music too, not hymns or anything.
And it's in aid of the Building Fund. And tickets cost £8 (£5 concession, but I do not know what counts as concession). I do not yet know how to get tickets, but I will find out.
Doors open 7.30pm and there is a dry bar.
Oh, and my church is Cregagh Methodist, on the Cregagh Road in Belfast.

Sunday, 6 September 2009

Still Alive

I do apologise, it's been far too long. There are Reasons though. Mostly that my sister moved in. Also the shower was leaking. Not that that affected blogging as such, but it meant my dad came up so I was talking to him, and then I had to go to the plumbing shop and talk to them (and, yeah, that went about as well as you would expect), and then I had to put the stuff round the shower and so on, so there hasn't been much time.

Anyway, the Cafe thing in church was great. I was sensational. A little bit. And Edna had made shortbread, and you can never have a bad night when Edna has made shortbread. The consensus seemed to be that we should do it all a lot more often, so I'll let you know.

And then my previous flatmate moved out and my sister moved in. She's doing a PGCE, so I have spent much of the weekend trying to buy things to make music notes out of. Go figure. Also, that computer which would have been referred to by other people as "your computer, WhyNotSmile" seems to have become "the computer" when my sister talks about it. Which is an interesting turn of phrase.

And now I'm tired, so I'll go. But it was nice catching up with y'all.