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Is there a bah humbug equivalent for New Years Eve?
I have to admit I absolutely hate New Years Eve. If I were to name the worst parties I’d ever been to, probably 4 of the top 5 would be New Years Eve and would be the only New Years Eve parties I’ve ever been to. Its not the parties themselves thats the problem, its getting to and from them or its being forced to go to family parties by the other half. I dont have an other half at the minute so I’m at least spared the requirement to spend hours with people you havent spent that much time with since this time last year.
When I was a kid we’d always go ‘first footing’ with some coal and some bread in hand to neighbours and friends. The idea being the first person through a door after midnight on new years day brings symbols of heat and food for the year to come. If they had a lucky year you would be welcomed with open arms, if they had a rubbish year they would peer out the window and ignore you.
I had the reputation of being a lucky kid so was sent up and down the street which was great as in return you got sweets. Everyones a winner.
Good job I didnt need to get a taxi to friends, family and neighbours.
I remember trying to make my way home with a young lady who was helping to prop me up, well in fact we were not so much attracted physically rather we both seemed to repel gravity better as a pairing. I stopped at a taxi rank and when asked where I was going I gave my home address. The response was ‘Im not going there, sorry.’ This did not compute. There is a protocol in engineering called full duplex, thats where both sides communicating can talk at once. Its usually not known in human behaviour but was in full flow now. Obviously this taxi driver was a bus or train driver and didnt realise he had full control over the steering wheel. As a generally sober person I realise the pain people have when trying to rationalise with drunk people but this was entirely warranted. Of course it being the early hours of new years day there were loads of people in our predicament so full duplex doesnt really cover about 30-40 people all standing round a taxi giving their opinion.
The only taxi drivers willing to drive ‘out to the sticks’ (a distance of 11 miles) wanted me to remortgage.
I can see their point, they want to make loads of shorter more lucrative in town runs but do they really think we wont remember this the rest of the year? A couple of months ago I got a taxi to take me to the car dealership to pick up my car and I asked how was business. In the downturn they had been hit hard by people with other jobs moonlighting as taxi drivers, no insurance blah blah blah, tell me about it, I’m a photographer. I had to stop myself laughing though when he complained about people walking, I mean how dare they! Walking when they would have taken a taxi in the past!
Its lighthearted comment but its tough times for most self employed people so hopefully next year will be stable for most but I still think people are better off walking when they can.
I dont get this new years resolutions thing either. Yes I see the point, line in the sand, turn of the year, decide to get a better life etc but why wait? I dont do resolutions, well I do, I just dont do them at fixed time of the year. My argument isnt about the resolutions per se but how wooly they are. By all means make them but make them achieveable, or measurable or indeed if you are going to be silly, just be silly.
This year I am going to the moon. (its probably as likely as people losing weight or stopping smoking)
Im not actually going to the moon, but if the opportunity arises, count me in. I am going to South America though. Its not a New Years Resolution, I didnt wake up yesterday and just book a flight. Its my ‘last’ continent. Never been, always wanted to go and now I have a good friend there Im off for a while. Its sort of weird that Ive been saying for years that I fancy a trip to South America and it was all done and dusted in less than an hour one day. Theres nothing like looking out at dull grey skies for months to make you get off your backside and look for somewhere warmer.
It will be a photo taking trip and Ive looked everywhere to justify an ‘Irish’ angle on it, but I cant, besides which, have you seen the weather here? I dont think I’ll miss much in January and February and no this blog isnt sponsored by the Irish tourist board.
Im also planning a couple of things for this blog, as well as the usual and the travel stuff, I’ve a couple of ideas for ‘Top Gear’ style ‘challenges’ later on in the year, not exactly resolutions but more ‘if 2010 weather is better than 2009′. I have to use my twitter account for something, preferably long before all the cool kids desert twitter for the next greatest thing.
I need to continue the radharcimages.com project this coming year, I’m a bit behind where I wanted to be but what can you do when it rains each and every day for 90 days in the places you want to shoot. (go to south america?
As along with half the western world I need to lose a bit of weight. No really I do but I’ll just have this last piece of christmas cake with my coffee first.
This is rapidly turning into a New Years resolution list but I know its not as I’ve still a couple of christmas puddings and other such things to go through first so no weight loss will happen until the 2nd week of January at the earliest.
So as the last posting of 2009 I wish you all a peaceful and healthy 2010.
Well its nearly that time of year again.
The 40th birthday celebrations are now behind me and its time to turn into a grumpy old man. Well not quite.
Its a mad time of year the roads are full of idiots making their way into ‘the big smoke’ for their annual pilgrimage to stand in a queue in Argos or just to drive round roundabouts or double park in the main streets and roads. Its time to go to the 24hr supermarket and see people stocking up for the third world war which will consist of shops being closed for no more than 48 hours.
Last year I thought I’d get my Christmas food in, bread and milk because I sponge off other people for Christmas dinners, at an ungodly hour so went down to the 24 hour tescos at 3:30am. There wasnt a selection box or turkey drumstick to be had. Obviously in the four hours before Id missed the impending meteorite strike warning and felt a bit of a social outcast walking past loads of people saying ‘excuse me I’ve only bread and milk’ as I went through the hoardes of two trolley people (i.e. bought so much they had to get two trolleys).
Apparently this year will be an ‘under tree’ year. In other words the bankers have stole so much of our money we can only afford to put things under the tree, not round them or in 50 inch plasma sized boxes beside the tree. I think this is a good thing. Leaving religious implications aside for a minute when I see bad tempered people shouting at each other in traffic, banging shopping trolleys into each other and generally almost coming to blows over that last car parking space I think do we really need this, I’ve seen more minor car accidents, more instance of people shouting at each other and so on in the last week than at most other times of the year. People here are generally considerate, will smile back if you smile back (in a non Im about to cut your head off type of way), but in this season of goodwill it tends to go out the window and it shouldnt.
Ive been as commercial as anyone else but where has all this pressure come from? Has it always been there? I was talking to some friends today who said, yes it has been. I saw an ad on tv tonight which said the first family fight at Christmas day is at 10am and the first children scolded was at 11am. They’ve obviously never met my mother. I think we were ‘scolded’ before we even woke up!
Like birthdays, Christmas seems to be a time for children, rubbish. Last night a couple of kids hit my front windows with snowballs. I put my boots on, put my coat on and thought about going out to shout my head off. ‘clear off you young ruffians’ or words to that effect. I have to say the kids were shocked when I hit one of them on the head with a snowball when they started pelting next doors windows.
I await the child protection police and the SWAT team to lock me up in Guantanamo Bay for 4 million years. I know Obama is closing it but thats just for Al Quaida, grown adults who hit kids with snowballs have their own section of hell reserved for them. I hear people my age complaining about kids doing exactly what we did at their age. Difference now is you cant give them a boot up the arse or hit them with snowballs because they have ‘rights’. Now I’m not advocating holding them down and breaking their kneecaps (well maybe not most of the time) but nothing put the fear of God up me as a kid as some adult hitting me a slap round the head and then telling my parents who instead of discussing my rights with me would also slap me around the head and not let me out for days.
I heard a quote from I think it was a comedian who said that when does a snow forecast go from ‘brilliant, snowmen, snowball fights’ to ‘I’ll never be able to make it into work’. Whatever day that is its a sad one.
Oh yeah Christmas. Bah Humbug. And what is it with Christmas Cards. I dont do the whole ‘Christmas Cards’ thing. Yes I know hitting kids with snowballs and now no Christmas Cards puts me somewhere between Pol Pot and Adolf Hitler but let me explain.
Its not the environmental aspect, its not the keeping the Royal Mail in business aspect either, its the whole idea of the thing.
I remember my Dad going through the early December ritual of getting out the address book and sitting down with maybe 200 christmas cards writing until he got hand cramp to people we’d once said hello to holiday. I voiced my concerns to him one year when I had my own house and he asked if I’d done my christmas card list and I said I didnt believe it in, two days later I got a card from him and family to me and family. But I am your family you eejit!
I’ll tell you what sums up Christmas Cards to me. Ive been living in my house now for about 14 years, the people who had it before me had it for at least 6 years. In my first year I got a Christmas Card for the previous but one owner. Every year since, apart from one Ive got the same card addressed to the same people. Now they havent lived here for at least 20 years! Why on earth would you send a card to someone you havent spoken to in over 20 years? To make matters worse there was a years hiatus. Maybe they had found out the people had moved, I didnt know. Then the following year, different handwriting but from the same part of the country. It was from the daughter of the original people. Now maybe the original senders had died and the daughter had inherited the Christmas Card list I dunno but that for me sums up Christmas Cards. Yes, I know its good to receive, yes I know its good to send but come on.
Now. Im not a complete scrooge. My train of thought is that if you have the time to write a christmas card, even at the 2 seconds a card my Dad seemed to write them at, you have the time to pick up the phone and say hello. I make a point of trying to visit everyone on what would be my christmas card list in the period early December to mid January, if I dont, I give them a quick call.
I have to say though this year I received an e-card from a client through a charities website, what a good idea! I might go against the grain and look this up for next year.
Now I’m not trying to give the impression that Im bah humbug, far from it, I just think that we’ve lost sight of the human interaction, the bonding, the idea of giving and receiving. This can also mean time, not just money or presents. Spending time is much more valuable than spending money and hopefully economic conditions mean people start to realise this. Sometimes the how gets emphasised more than the why. Two of the main things I learned from my dad were.
1. Theres no such thing as having too big a tv
2. A Christmas tree can never have enough lights.
Every year the search for the broken bulb ritual would take place, all the kids sitting on the floor screwing and unscrewing bulbs until finally the lights would come on, or as dougal in Fr Ted says ‘ on, off, on, off, on…’ Its not until later in life that this ‘tedium’ meant that we all sat round in close proximity, no tv, no texting, no nintendo ds, no nothing and worked towards a common goal. A couple of hours just sitting round talking and laughing and telling stories. Often the fixing of the lights was never achieved so it was off to Woolies the next day for another 3 sets of 120 lights to replace the one set of 120 we hadnt fixed. Another 2 sets ‘just in case.’
With my led never blow sets of lights we’ll never have that again and the odds of getting people to just sit and stare at the lights for a while is slim.
Putting the Christmas Tree up is a ritual and one I have to admit I havent always observed, when I havent put it up with some bah humbug excuse like ‘I’ll be away most of the time’ or ‘too busy’ or some other such pathetic excuse, even putting it up for one day always seems to be magical, seems to add warmth and light to a room. Even if its just one of those wee stick on trees you get for cars, theres some sense of achievement. Oh sorry left out point 3 from my dad, you can never have too big a christmas tree.
Ok you can. A load of years ago a very good friend of mine broke his leg in an accident before Christmas, he always had a real christmas tree but as his leg was in plaster he couldnt get one himself and wondered if I could get him one. Of course I could, the honour of getting someone elses tree!
I applied my dads principle of buying the biggest tree I could get (within budget of course). Naturally it was too big to fit in the car and it was back in the days of army checkpoints across Belfast. So when you are stopped by a British Army soldier at a checkpoint and he asks. ‘What is in the boot’, you do fear for the whole English race when even a blind man on a galloping horse can see the 9 foot christmas tree sticking out of the back of it. He didnt see the funny side of it when I pointed it out. Luckily enough the policeman did and I left with my teeth intact.
20 mins it took us to get the tree in the front door only to find out that the tree was two feet taller than the ceiling height. Suddenly that soldier didnt seem soooo stupid after all.
My mate told me not to worry as he would just saw two feet off it. Of course being an engineer he measured the height difference and marked it off on a measuring tape.
10 mins and a lot of sawing later he reappeared with the tree.
It was inch perfect, floor to ceiling allowing for floor fixings, perfect height.
He was so proud of himself that it did pain me to say that traditionally you take extra height off the bottom of the tree, not the top. It looked like it was just growing through the ceiling with no space for the angel. Still not to worry, I’m sure the army would offer him a job.
Not having kids of my own my loft is usually the repository for all my nephews, godchildren, pseudo relations kids Christmas presents. Im often called for ‘sticker’ or ‘battery’ duty. (putting stickers on things or putting batteries in them. Yes I’m often the one to blame for wendy houses being partially assembled upside down, toy motorbikes with the wing mirrors on the wrong way round or in the worst case scenario a radio controlled truck with the all the stickers on upside down because thats how I was reading the instructions. So kids, if you are reading this some of your presents have been in my loft since August and if I dont look carefully enough, some of them will also be there next August.
11:30pm on Christmas Eve to 1am on Christmas morning is a magical time to be driving. If you havent ever experienced this then I thoroughly recommend it. The roads are full of cars with half built bikes, dolls houses and various other large cardboard boxes hanging out the back of cars. Good job the checkpoints arent there any more, I’d hate to have to explain half the stuff sticking out of rear windows, sunroofs and tailgates.
Dont ever drive the period 6am-9am on Christmas morning as the roads are full of new bikes, scooters, skateboards, radio controlled cars etc.
I started my photographic ‘career’ working in santa grottos in shopping centres/malls. It taught me very little about photography and a great deal about dealing with people and about people. In the country grottos kids wanted toy tractors or dolls and the city kids wanted mobile phones and makeup!
Its very easy to knock christmas and although not seeing sunshine for 8 weeks of the year (on the road before sunup, in a grotto all day and leaving after sun down) isnt good for the physical health it can be good for the soul.
Every year I said I would never do it again (stopped about 4 years ago) as it was too much hassle and the side benefits of every kid you know knowing you worked with Santa have worn off as they got older. It used to be great, I would get everyone I knew to come to my grotto to get their photo with santa and told their parents that if the kids played up to ring me and I would tell santa. I’d even santa programmed into my mobile so even in July if kids were messing about I’d hit speed dial!
Its tough work, its a great way of refining workflow and its a great way to learn if you are suited to social photography, its a stressful alien situation to a lot of parents and kids and its your job to get the best photo possible, we all have seen santa photos of kids crying but it gave me one of the best moments of my photography career which has made up for one of the worst.
Id stopped doing press shifts around Christmas, I was sent out on one job not knowing what it was, it was the week before Christmas and met a reporter at this house. Turns out it was to interview a family who had rang the paper about the dangers of quad bikes. They had bought their teenager one for Christmas and being a teenager they had taken it out of the garage and taken it for a spin late at night. They lost control, hit a tree and were killed. Walking up that drive I saw the mother through the window taking the decorations off the christmas tree. Ive seen some things here in Northern Ireland but its funny that that image is one that stays with me.
Its why I stopped doing that and started doing more of the Santa Grotto stuff so one particular time a father came in and asked if we could widen the entrance path which we did. A couple of minutes later he came in with a girl aged about 8 in one of those ventilator wheelchairs. I got her turned round and got Santa to come out to her, took a few photos with Santa leaning down and printed off one whilst Santa spoke to her. I handed the photo to the mum and she burst into tears and ran out of the Grotto. I didnt know what to say but the Dad said to excuse them and he wheeled the young girl out.
He came back a couple of seconds later holding the photo. He explained that his wife was very happy with the photo, it was the first they had of their daughter smiling and that this was her last christmas and that she only had a couple of months left to live. He was in tears, I was in tears, Santas beard was getting very wet indeed.
Whenever I get stressed in shops or traffic at Christmas, whenever family issues get annoying, whenever it seems like too much hassle or too commercial I think of that wee girl and her family. I hope they had a good one.
Click here for a selection of good and bad themed Christmas photos
Well not quite – but it is my birthday later in the week, its that time when you have to consider parties, visiting friends and trying not to book work for days you know your eyeballs will have difficulty looking at anything other than the back of your eyelids.
Oh and Im 40 this week. I dont subscribe to the ‘having to do a big thing’ rubbish, thats just for people who dont do big things as a matter of course.
Although I have booked a trip to South America for a month in Jan/Feb. Id have went if I was 40, 39, 41 or whatever.
This all sounds a bit bah humbug but when I explain that my birthday is a week before christmas some of you out there might sympathise.
When you are 9 having a birthday a week or 10 days before Christmases is like having your birthday and christmas all rolled into one… oh hold on its not like that at all, it _is_ that.
Its far enough away so that you get two sets of presents and you can stretch your birthday cards out long enough so that they are still there with the christmas cards.
Then you get to job age, you are invariably working, if you want to go out for dinner or a club or something then its a nightmare, places are either booked up or the service is competing with loads of christmas parties and you may as well sit at home. I have to say though I have only really been out once to dinner on my birthday that I can almost remember, japanese and very nice it was too although I think the sake bill for the two of us came to more than the dinner.
Then as you get a bit older, all your friends have jobs so you have to make your ‘do’ a friday night or a saturday night and if this coincides with the last friday or saturday before christmas then thats just a nightmare, people giving you the ‘oh thats my works christmas do’. So yes youd rather go out with the boring bunch you work with than me, cheers. Having said that it probably explains why I ended up moving jobs with my friends so many times that we all ended up working in the same place. I dumped this lifestyle 10 years ago now though so they just play the same old card.
Back in my twenties I would ring people up and say ‘party at my house’. The answer was usually ‘what time’, the inference being that short notice of an hour or two was all that was required.
Now in the 30s babysitting rotas have to be accommodated, flowcharts produced and people get peed off when you havent finalised details down to the hors d’oeuvres (whatever they are) a month in advance.
Speaking of food, bring your own used to just mean vodka jellies and a plate of cocktail sausages or sausage rolls from wherever, now its marks and spencers party nibbles or tescos finest, it all goes down the same way in a handfull at 3am.
Thats if anyone stays out to 3am any more, babysitters knock off at 11pm and most people are worn out with a half hour on the wii never mind dancing to the wee small hours.
I dont miss the waking up to see what got burnt the night before, who is lying dead on my sofa and having to put wellies on to wade through the pools of sick in the toilet and kitchen.
Speaking of which you know you are getting old when a couple disappears into your bathroom for a half hour and who later emerges looking absolutely shattered, only to find out one has been retching into the big porcelain telephone to God and the other has been holding their hair back. 10 years ago they would have been, well you know…
A couple of years ago I almost lost the will to live at party this time of year, the blokes were as usual standing in the kitchen talking about cars and bikes and various sports injuries whilst the women were in the living room watching the x factor. I mean come on like, sports injuries? I have you all beat.
For my 30th birthday party some kind soul hired me a stripogram. Part of the show was for me to take a rose out of her ample bosom with my teeth. No real spectator sport there but at the time I was on crutches with a leg injury that could go either way so in the days before youtube I had to have 6 guys at the party grab me by the belt and shoulders and lower me down in a horiztonal position as she lay on the floor. I think they had an ambulance on standby.
It was funny though at the end when she had to sit on my knee put my head in her chest and read me some story which for the life of me I cant remember – dunno why. As she went to sit down on my knee over 40 people screaming ‘not that one!’
Maybe birthday parties arent that bad after all, pass me another vol au vent with a whiskey chaser.
Ok I’ve never been on a ferry across the Mersey (yet) but I have been on a ferry going up the Mersey. Not good enough I know.
On my way to Liverpool today for the weekend, so what has this got to do with Ireland?
Well I always feel a connection when I go to Liverpool, it was the first stopping off point for a lot of Irish migrants, many stayed there, many used it as the first stop on a long journey to other places in the world. Its a city that has a lot of parallels with Belfast, both formerly big with shipbuilding with a rich maritime background, both cities famous for working class humour and both cities have had tough and turbulent times. Belfast is coming to terms with the troubles as now part of its history and in Liverpool the last time I was over I went to the slavery museum.
Most of Liverpools beautiful waterfront buildings were built with money generated from the slave trade, its not alone in this, I seem to recall when Obama was elected how the White House in Washington had been built by slaves.
Theres an inherent sadness in cities like Liverpool, troubled peoples, troubled times have left their mark but the cities carry on and are full of life and humour. Like Belfast Liverpool has some of the finest new waterfront developments only a few miles from some of the worst troubled areas in Western Europe.
Of course unlike Belfast, Liverpool is home to one of the greatest football clubs in the World, as well as Tranmere and Everton. Ive supported Liverpool since I was a boy, probably a mixture of the all red strip and they were top of the league when I was a kid. But lets not linger on their current fortunes for too long
Im not a big drinker but one of the worst nights in my life on the drink was in Liverpool, Its a very long story, very long story indeed but the night ended/morning started with me being woken up in a hotel room with all the lights on, the bathroom tap running, the tv on, the radio on, all the bedclothes on the floor and me lying on the bed wearing nothing but a facecloth. It wasnt my alarm that woke me but rather the sound of the maid leaving the room. Unlike my travelling companion, the sense of shame was overwhelmed by the sense of hunger and I braved all the dirty looks to have breakfast in the silver service dining room. I wondered why my mate was so keen to just use the key drop box rather than face the hotel staff as he had only been woken in a similar state by the maid finding him rolled up in the floor in a pile of bedclothes. It wasnt until she started vacuuming around the pile of clothes on the floor that she realised there was a person in there.
Still, Ive never touched southern comfort since and even now the smell of it makes me wretch. So let that be a lesson to you boys and girls.
None of that on this trip as Im doing the pre christmas visit to my brother, sister and nephews, just part of being an irish family, it seems a lot of us have families scattered around the globe, something I’ll touch on in later blogs. Im not able to get over over Christmas so its a mini christmas and mini birthday weekend rolled into one (did I mention its my birthday next week).
Right back to Liverpool, during the summer I did a series of various photos in and around Liverpool, for one of the days I had a local guide show me round some of the more interesting or quirky or off the tourist trail spots. One of the more interesting stories was this photo below.
Its somewhere the guide told me the story about, its a pyramid grave which is in danger of being knocked down and either relocated or the body in it being buried which there is a minor uproar about due to the story associated with it.
Its the tomb of a guy called Mackenzie . He was a gambler who is said to have lost his soul to the devil in a game of cards. The agreement was the devil would take his soul when he was put in the ground so MacKenzie was placed in the pyramid tomb above ground sitting on a chair holding a winning hand of cards. So the devil has never got a hold of his soul, but if he is reburied then the game is over.
Now the photo itself is probably never a seller but it is an interesting story and sets the backdrop for the demolition or restoration of the nearby church which is the centre of the controversy. Something I’d never have come across without a local guide.
OK Id better get packing, photos of Liverpool below.
Stock images of Liverpool here
Well I wish it would, this was outside my house last August!
Some parts of Ireland have only seen 2 fully dry days in the last 3 months. And they are the lucky ones.
Next week marks the Copenhagen Climate Conference and as usual theres a lot of ‘profile raising’ and bartering and politicking going on.
Only this week doubt is being cast on the validity of the University of East Anglias climate change findings.
Are we suffering global warming, global cooling, climate change, nature, natural progression, it goes round and round. The more talking thats being done the less is actually being done.
Surely the questions should be, shouldnt we all be trying to minimise impact on the environment regardless. Its only common sense that we cant continue dumping stuff here there and everywhere, we cant go on polluting, its not healthy for one and at some point there will come a tipping point where we have done too much damage.
When I was 11 I was shipped out of the worst troubles in Belfast (1981 hunger strikes) and went to live with a family in Switzerland for a month, every week they did the recycling. I had no idea what they were talking about. In fact it wasnt for another 20 years that people here started doing the same thing.
Was Switzerland keyed up about global warming, probably, maybe not, maybe it had more to do with being a land locked country and not wanting to pollute the beautiful countryside with landfill when they didnt have to.
I was in Germany in 1994 staying with friends and they remarked how much water I used washing a single glass. It never occured to me, we have an abundance of water here, I’ve a water butt attached to the house which is always full. Germany had issues with waste having to be transported down the Rhine and again being landlocked the issues with fresh water.
I drove around the west Coast of the states for 2 weeks in 2000. I had a Dodge Intrepid as a hire car, a big barge of a thing, and with the exception of the Dodge Caliber probably the worst car I’ve ever driven. It amazed me how much petrol or gas it drank but people didnt say anything because it was cheap. So mile for mile was cheaper than running my Alfa 156 at home but nowhere near as cheap as my diesel Berlingo. I guess its what you are used to but I was always horrified at the ‘gas mileage’ figures for American cars. Horrendous. Why would you not want to cut that back? Well ok oil companies have a vested interest in selling more oil.
Which brings me back to personal accountability. I recycle everything I can, I even store some stuff I know isnt recyclable in Northern Ireland now but is elsewhere so should be availble here in the future. I really dont think theres any excuse for not making a small effort, going back almost 30 years the swiss family just did it, now I just do it. Go round any school and ask the kids, along with dinosaurs and space ships and racing cars etc they have a healthy approach to this.
Of course theres loads of advice out there primarily by governments, some of it is bad advice, some of it is included because of pressure groups. Its like this whole car scrappage scheme. Please dont tell me its good for the environment. Yes you might get 10 miles per gallon more on a newer car but what about all that energy and natural resources used up from digging the metal out of the ground from everything from the aluminium panels to the copper wiring. Add in the energy required to recycle your old car and the parts of it that will never be recycled and are poluting.
In a previous life I did a course as an environmental auditor, I worked for a Canadian company who were very forward thinking in charting their product lifecycle from birth to death and its environmental impact. Cynics would say that they had to do it as it was a regulation in Canada and some Scandinavian companies would not do business with you unless you did this.
Some of the findings were surprising.Take a certain equipment chassis, it would seem sensible to make this out of one piece of metal? All that cutting and screwing together individual pieces, extra time, energy, screws etc etc. On the other hand misformed parts and damaged parts were easier to replace if broken, it was easier to recycle in the end of its lifecycle and it was easier to ship to the plant where it was assembled (flat packs instead of bulky pieces). So sometimes its not just the obvious which makes it all very complicated.
Of course I’d like to think I was a saint but Im not. Im a firm believer in leaving the standby button on. I have two degrees in Electronic engineering so I know that the most likely time for failure is power up and down, add that to I’m on an eco electricity tariff where half my electricity has to come from renewable sources then I guess its worth the risk. I recently went to Cyprus for 3 weeks and against my better judgement turned my 14 year old bedroom tv off. I got home, turned it on and bang. New tv required. It might have just had its time but theres that nagging doubt if only I hadnt been so stupid.
I wont get solar panels in, well chance would be a fine thing in Ireland but from what Im lead to believe the amount of pollution and energy that goes into them will never be recouped in their lifetime, but of course they dont tell you that.
So although Im probably in the eco-mentalist camp I have to tinge it all with reality. I spent an hour tonight breaking open my gaggia ecaffe used coffee capsules to take out the used coffee grounds for compost, wash out the plastic containers and put them in the plastic recycling. After about 10 I lost the will to live and thought my time would be better off spent watching paint dry. You have to draw the line somewhere. All the big targets governments are sabre rattling with are just that, big targets, its like the banks bailout, just talk huge numbers so it doesnt seem so bad.
Any environmental and climate change solution needs firstly a change of attitude and so stop arguing about whether it is or isnt and just get on with the doing.
Maybe the compost heap, the water butt, the low energy lighting, the more fuel efficient car, etc etc etc are a waste of time, maybe it is all just one big conspiracy but then again, maybe not.
Click here for a link to energy images.
Click here for a link to recycling and waste images
Working for Gillettes PR department must be one of the worst jobs in the world at the minute.
Between Thierry Henrys handball incident and Tiger Woods off road driving incident they must be wondering what they did wrong. This is a huge PR disaster for them, all that advertising out there in stores and on packaging never mind the TV campaigns. The PR people are probably shell shocked.
Most people reading this would probably not see any parallels with their business but this raises many issues for every business who has a PR campaign or conducts any photography. Who you use to be in your photography is just as important as the message you are trying to tell.
As an example, a number of companies have used existing staff for their corporate brochures and ongoing PR photography. They dont want to go to the expense of hiring in a model. I can see why, often its seen as an unnecessary expense. However what if that employee leaves and goes to a competitor, or what if something happens in work that involved disciplinary or other procedures. All of a sudden the cost of the model is insignificant compared to a recall and reshoot. Of course thats not to say that using a model wont backfire either. There was some controversy a few years ago when a local tourist agency used a model on their brochures as the welcoming face of the city. Of course the model didnt work in the office and it was deemed unfair to think that all the office staff would look like this and that it wasnt a fair representation of the organisation. It is a point to consider but the people leaving, turnover of jobs argument is a very valid one.
Similarly the use of models isnt without its pitfalls as the Henry and Woods scenarios show. For example I will insist the models I use for certain jobs have not done any nude work. You dont want your PR campaign to be met with photos taken off the net and used in the tabloids. Consult with your photographer and get their advice, most good photographers will be aware of these issues and I would go so far as to say they should inform you of these issues.
I bet when Roger Federer lost that ATP semi final he thought he’d make the news for all the wrong reasons but in the circumstances the his coverage really was the best a man could get.