Improving sarcasm for thirty years

2015/16 – Writing

This post has been nagging me – I’d written the title and post-dated it for publication, but been stuck on what to actually, you know, write.  And then I did it again.

It’s somewhat ironic that the post about my plans for the coming year’s writing has been published blank/empty not once, but twice.

So – third time lucky.

I’m not honestly sure what will happen with my writing plans over the next twelve months. There’s a couple of options (as well as the fallback point, of “do nowt” or “fail”) which is never a good start, as it leaves me in a quandary from the beginning.

The thing is, I’ve got lots of ideas. Loads. I just haven’t yet clicked on how they could stick together. Or even if they could adhere at all. I’m missing that bigger picture, the whole that all these parts could/should/might fit into.  Or maybe each one is a different tale, and I need to focus on one or two of the better concepts, and just develop those. Maybe that will allow the others to rest, or maybe to develop along in their own timelines. Maybe.

I’ve definitely got two concepts which are kind-of similar, but separate. They fit into different moulds, different methods, so I could do both at the same time. Or I could focus on one and then the other. Or. Or. Or.

And that’s what’s sticking me up at the moment. Too many ideas, not enough drive.

I’d love to be ironic (or meta) enough to be able to write about a writer that is stuck on the writing, so that it’s turtles all the way down. But that’s beyond me.

I think the plan for the coming year will be to do just one project, focus on it, see if it works. If it doesn’t there are others waiting in the wings. If it does, there are others waiting in the wings.

Between now and 2016, some of it is just going to be brain-dumping stuff onto paper/keyboard as a record – perhaps that’ll help too.

So yes, I think that’s the plan. But now, which to choose as the first one. Which to choose…


2015/16 – Getting Out More

As things stabilise more here, I’m looking at what I want to do in 2016 – and in particular towards taking some breaks. This year has ripped past, and I’m renownedly shit at taking holidays at the best of times.

So part of the plan will be to do some weekends away, as well as a couple of longer breaks.  I’m looking at places/destinations at the moment, so that I can book them before the end of this year. That way I can have them as immovable events when it comes to going to a new contract in 2016.

I’ve already booked up a couple of weekends away, and it’s all looking pretty promising. And continuing on from last year’s side-project about being more comfortable with eating on my own, there’s more places booked and going to be booked on that score too. Details of those will follow as and when through the year though…


As people should have gathered, I’m currently doing a bundle of plans for the coming year, as well as continuing to make changes to my general life, health, fitness and so on.

One of those changes is – yet again – cutting down a lot on my caffeine intake, and seeing how things go.

My caffeine intake is highly cyclic, I cut it down (and sometimes out) for a while, and then it slowly goes back up again. And lo, another cycle continues.

Anyway, this time round I’m working on it again, and so far it’s fairly successful. I’m drinking a lot more water, and the Diet Coke intake is commensurately much, much lower.

What’s annoying, though, is that even with a massively reduced intake, it hasn’t affected my insomnia at all. It’s annoying because just about every person who has ever pointed out I drink too much Diet Coke (or caffeine in any other format) has said it explains my insomnia.

But nope, even when I’m just drinking water – and have been for a couple of weeks – my sleep is still atrocious. Indeed, sometimes even worse than usual.

It really is bloody annoying.

2015/16 – Health and Weight

Over the last year, I’ve worked on both health and weight with some success – albeit not as much as I’d have liked to.

A lot of the actual progress has happened over the last three or four months, once I’d changed gyms to one that was better located to fit in with my times and work life. That’s enabled me to go more often and more regularly, which has helped things immensely.

As a result, I’ve definitely lost inches, and gained muscle mass. That’s meant that I’ve pretty much stayed at the same weight – although it’s started coming off properly in the last month or so – which I suppose is good, if frustrating.

The plan for the coming year is likely to be more of the same. Some of it will depend on what happens for the next contract, and wherever I’m based at that point. If I’m based in London and commuting by train, the gym will still be perfectly placed. If I’m going to be based somewhere else, I’ll have to reassess and see what works.

Ideally, I’d like to lose a couple of stone over the next 12 months. That’s a feasible goal, assuming I can maintain the progress of the last few months, and keep doing more as I go on.

My other target/plan – albeit one that’s slightly less achievable – is to do another of the Marie Curie 10Km walks, and to do it in 60-70 minutes. That’s pushing it – although I’ve done other, shorted walks at that kind of pace, so it’s also feasible. It just might require a bit more training than the last two have…

For Your Safety

You know, I for one am getting really tired of the government phrases “It’s for your safety” and “it’s for your security”, which are getting bandied around more and more.

This week it’s been used about blocking flights to and from Sharm El-Sheikh because of an alleged – but unproven – bomb in the hold of the plane that crashed in the Sinai desert last week. It’s also been used in discussions about monitoring everyone’s internet traffic and holding those records for at least a year, and in revelations about MI5 monitoring every domestic phone-call in the UK for the last ten years.

Governments like people to be scared – and more and more, we seem to be happy to let the government take these measures ‘because it makes us safer’. It doesn’t, it just gives up more information to the government – and all in the name of ‘safety’.

Basically, it’s shit.

[I know, I need to think more about this and write more. But it’s a phrase that bugs me every time it’s used]

2015/16 – Finances

One of the more important things for the coming year will be continuing to rebuild my finances.

The first – and, to some degree, the biggest – step comes at the end of this year, when I make my final payment of the bankruptcy period. Really, that’s the end of it – from there, it’s just the time to rebuild and make progress. And that’ll be the plan in 2016.

Once the payments are done with, I’ll be putting the same amount into a savings account instead. I’ve got used to it going out of the account, and it’ll be the start of a good process.

I’ve got some further ideas, but the basic outline will be to build the savings up over the year, and have a decent amount by the end of the year.

I have an idea about giving myself the ability to have some time off in 2017, and the initial stage/target of that will be to have amassed at least six months pay in savings – to be able to fund a break, if that’s what I still decide to do, once this year’s plan is completed.

In similar vein, I’m considering overpaying on my bills, adding in some padding on that score as well.

Of course, it’ll also depend on having stability this year work-wise. I know my current contract will come to an end, so there’ll be a time for getting a new one and seeing what happens from there.

But all told, right now at the start of this next year’s plans, I’m feeling pretty optimistic and positive about the whole thing.

HMRC Failings

This week, MPs declared that HMRC is still failing taxpayers in umpteen ways – which is no surprise to anyone who has to deal with them on an even vaguely regular basis.

Now that I’m doing the self-employed thing, I’ve spent more time than I should on the phone to the idiots.

From the article

In 2011-12, HMRC answered 74% of calls from the public, but by the start of 2015, it only answered 50% of them, the MPs said.

Honestly, I’m amazed it’s as high as 50%…

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