Tuesday, 26 March 2013

Thanks Dad!

Thanks to my Dad I now have a list of unenviable (or enviable, depending on your point of view!) skills. I can

- Temporarily fix an extractor using a match stick.
- Re-pressurise a household boiler.
- Wire a plug.
- Hang a picture properly.
- Change a fuse.
- Disengage the electrics to different parts of the house (easier these days, thank goodness).
- Change any kind of light bulb.
- Change the oil in a heating system (haven't done that one for a few years, thankfully. It was messy!).
- Fix pretty much any computer/printer/fax machine/photocopier/gadget
- Calibrate new gadgets.
- Mend the hole punch.
- Unjam the stapler.
- Stop the paper guillotine from squeaking.
- At a push, I can probably fix your car engine as well.

It was something which was brought to my attention recently at the day job. We rely a lot on modern technology and, yet, very few people seem to have the know how on how to fix the most minor of faults. Take our photocopier for example. When something goes wrong with it, it flashes up a message saying exactly what's wrong and how to fix it. Yet very few people follow what are seemingly simple instructions, often leaving it and hoping that someone else fixes it. It's the same with our outdated fax machine. It often doesn't dial out. The good old switching it on and off tends to fix it. I couldn't believe it when, several months ago, someone asked me to show them how to use a photocopier. While we have a maintenance man at the day job, when he's away on holiday fixing minor problems tends to fall to one person.


And you know what? I don't mind! I love it! It's a challenge, a break from my normal job, and a chance to put my brain to good use. I enjoy going digging through the tool box looking for whatever I might need. The most recent call was to hang a fallen curtain pole and, if I'd been able to find the wall plugs, I'd have done it. That was my first failure but we live and learn.

Those little skills we all have are amazing and you never know when you're going to need them. It's incredible how often they can be used!

Sunday, 17 March 2013

If There's A New Way

Things speak to us. It may be music, a book, a film, something someone says to us, nature. Everything has the power to lift us up or destroy us.

I've been through a lot of tough periods in my life. I've debated suicide several times. I've gotten as far as planning it a couple of times. I went through a lot of crap as a teenager and I'm thankful that there were people there who helped me get through those rough times.

I'll never forget one of them playing me a song. They'll probably never know the impact it had on my life, but it turned me in to a diehard fan of the band. Known for its rumbling bass line, Megadeth's "Peace Sells" spoke to me on a level I'll never understand. As I sat there, facing the prospect of my own demise, facing telling people I was going, one line stood out and told me to stop.

"If there's a new way, I'll be the first in line. But it better work this time."

The song, to me, is pretty much Dave Mustaine's letter to a world which doesn't want to accept him. It's his way of telling them that he's not going to conform to their ideals or their models. That he's not going to live within their expectations and that this life's his for the making.

For me, it was a song which spoke about my own life. Never have I wanted to fit in with what's deemed "normal". Never have I found myself able to and it's what pushed me close to the brink so many times. Trying to fit in with the ideals of those around me, my family, my friends, my work colleagues. And it took a song for me to realise that I don't have to be like everyone else, that I don't have to live the rat race. Slowly, but surely, I'm getting there. Slowly, but surely, I'm becoming the person I've always wanted to be. It's been a long process, but now I realise that I don't have to be a round peg trying to fit in to a square hole.

The above quoted line is now my motto although I drop the "But it better work this time". For me, it has negative connotations, the idea that whatever I'm trying isn't going to work. I can make it work, but it'll take blood, sweat, and tears.

There's a veiled reference to the song in "Mars on the Rise", a subtle thank you to the band. If you've spotted it, let me know! Drop me an email or a comment, and tell me.

But never give up. Never let go of who you want to be or what you want to do. Don't let people get you down. Don't let them dictate to you. Don't let the darkness take over and ruin your life. You can be whoever you want to be.

Monday, 4 March 2013

Autobots, Roll Out!

I've been a bit ill for the past few weeks which is why I've been pretty quiet. So it's a nice easy one today. In keeping in line with the crazy engineering, I thought I'd introduce you to the world's only working Transformer. Not quite as cool as the Autobots and Decepticons, it's still a great, and fascinating, piece of kit (and it was used in the first of the recent Transformers films).

The Bell-Boeing V22 Osprey is a tiltrotor aircraft capable of both vertical take off and landing (VTOL) and short take off and landing (STOL). Originally produced in 1988, there are now 160 in use by the United States Marines and Airforce.

So what makes it so special? And why do they call it a Transformer? Take a look!