Making It

As I’m relatively new to acting/performing, I do wonder how this compares to people for whom it’s their dream and always has been. I was a nervous and shy kid and drama class for me was anxiety central. Since then I’ve done heaps of public speaking and been interviewed a hundred times. As a roleplaying geek, I’ve gotten comfortable with adopting a voice and a persona in a small group but performing for others is a challenge I still feel anxious about.

I, like so many others, did the university and career thing. I’m now embarking on this with the knowledge that I really only have ten years to get it right. I’m envious of my classmates starting out, bright eyed and bushy tailed, with decades before them. And that makes me hungrier than most, maybe.

Aside from the luvvies in the class, I’ve met a few dozen actors and honestly, none of them are having what would be called by "normal" people a successful career.

But as Jimmy Carr said last night in conversation (ha!), it’s not when you’re a star that you’ve made it. It’s not when you’ve got your STAR on the Boulevard. It’s not even when you can see your name on a movie in iTunes.

You’ve made it the day you pay the rent with money made from performing. The day you buy Christmas presents with proceeds from acting. The day you drive away the car bought with cash from being in front of a camera.

(Post inspired by: Why Are You Trying To Be Something You’re Not)

Wintel declines except for developers

Interesting observations here. I can see the possibility of the MacBook line moving to ARM and iOS10/11/12 in the relatively near future. Essentially mimicking the evolution of the Newton from smaller handhelds to larger handhelds (MP2000) to a keyboard based device (eMate 300)

The main use case for a desktop/laptop machine isn’t Word or Photoshop considering some of the excellent work done by Microsoft and Adobe, it’s actually developer tools. Developers are still forced to use large machines to produce the software we need. I wondered at Unity 3D a couple of years ago when they started offering Cloud Build and obviously it’s not a stretch for Apple either.

Plug your iPhone into a massive screen, attach a bluetooth keyboard and cloud-build your apps on Xcode Go.

( Is it not crazy that on Monday we will see the announcement of iOS 10? )

Illegal to be off the grid?


Special Magistrate Harold S. Eskin ruled that Robin Speronis is not allowed to live on her own private property without being hooked up to the city’s water system. He admitted that she had the right to live without utility power, but said that her alternative power sources must always first be approved by the city.

While it’s not illegal here in the UK t be disconnected from the power grid, I am wondering what would happen to your rates bill if you don’t use municipal water. But water doesn’t come from the rates, apparently.

It would seem to be a good way to deal with these upcoming water charges though.

On Death

We cannot fix people’s grief, only sit with them, in their darkness | Giles Fraser: Loose canon:

I know this now. But when you lose someone who you loved, you have to consider the ways it impacts you too.

A death in the family is felt by all. It may not be understood by all but it’s affecting them. You can’t really understand how death will affect you nor will you be able to predict how it will affect others, even if you think you knew them.

I sat with him for days when few others would and listened to him talk and made awkward conversation. I’d tried to offer olive branches in the years I’d known him – courses, facilities, even set up web sites and email addresses in the hope that I could give him some meaning beyond that which eventually took him. But it wasn’t to be. We talked about movies, music, TV shows, the legality of torrents and the victimless crimes of the world. We talked about video games and family, our aspirations for the world and surprisingly little about our aspirations for ourselves. Even though we had the warnings, I have to admit I never saw it coming. I thought that this time it would be fixed. This time it would be alright. This time there would be action taken, interventions made, decisions held to. I was wrong and I never saw it coming.

With hindsight there was an inevitability to it. And with that same hindsight comes memory and regret. If only I had done more, intervened more, encouraged more. If only I had acted and then I wouldn’t feel so bad about my part in the sorry tale. But these thoughts get in the way of grief. Of processing what happened and not letting it ruin what may yet happen. Am I blaming myself for my failure to control and direct the life of another?

I found out that he’d died in the middle of the night, during a bad week when my girlfriend and I had had a fight. And it floored me. It absolutely devastated me. And from there it set off a chain of events that now, six months later, I cannot process or understand. I don’t know why I did things other than someone had to act. Acting too late maybe but acting nonetheless. Doing the wrong thing maybe, but I didn’t have time to think. I only had the darkness and I was alone. I made promises I knew were poorly made. I let someone else’s grief take over every element of my life (even control of my social media). I deleted photos and was left only with memories to please someone who pleaded. I succumbed to their insistence, to their unreasonable demands, and I let them do what they wanted. I agreed with their rants, I told them what they wanted to hear, and it’s come back to torture me again and again. I don’t bear a grudge (other than never wanting them part of my life again) because I understand what grief can make you do. It makes you say anything in the hope of feeling better. Worse, I believed them, I was complicit in the self-deception. I wanted to believe that something could come out of nothing. What else can you do?

What I did? I cried. It seemed endless. When I wasn’t crying on the outside, I was crying on the inside. Even now I’m gripped with the sorrow of loss. I’d never cried at death before probably because I was too young to appreciate it. But I’m getting now to the age where death is happening around me more than new life.

There were predators around too. People who came and offered condolences and confidences and then traded them on the social media market for entertainment. People who preyed upon the hurt and weakness of others. I can’t believe the people who did that. And the people who turned on me. I can understand the reaction of one person and I accept it though I miss her every day. Especially while I’m sailing, and in the sunshine.

I’m haunted by his death and I see his picture every day. I’m haunted by the poor decisions I made in the wake of his death because I now know I ruined something that I would have wanted forever. All I can say to explain is that I had some sort of breakdown. I have no other frame of reference. It was madness. I want to write more but I know this post will already be dissected by people online. I know that someone will enjoy stripping it apart and laughing at my misfortune. I know that every tweet and instagram post is analysed, interpreted (often wrongly) and reacted to and attacked.

2015 was a shit year. It began with the disintegration of my marriage, the eventual separation, the revelations of deceit, the death of family, attacks by people I thought were at least allies and the loss of a friend forever. I’ve spoken about this before but I’m not over it all yet. Something else may come out.

Coming Out

Today, I’ve decided to come out.

I was raised as a gentleman. My primary influences in this were my choices of reading materials; Batman comics and The Adventures of King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table. That’s not to say I’ve been a gentleman all my life. I’ve played a little loose with the hearts of others but for the most part I’ve been kind, generous, compassionate, brave, trustworthy and loyal. Again, not perfect by any means and I’ve made mistakes that I remember (though I try not to regret).

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My family has gone through it’s share of adversity (detailed previously) but right now I’ll just mention two people. My Mum, Helen and my Sister, Marianne. They are, without a doubt, the best humans I have ever encountered. I love them dearly because when the shit hit the pan, twice now, they have supported me, forgiven me, taken me in, bailed me out and generally been exactly what family should do. And I’ve fallen far short of my own expectations of my responsibilities.

All that’s good in me pales in comparison to Helen and Marianne. They have forgiven enemies, trusted implicitly, been strong for others when they needed all their strength just to keep their own heads afloat. They’ve made homes and futures in the face of terrible adversity. They are actually unbreakable. They make the men in our family look like delicate flowers.

I am committed to helping my son become a compassionate and kind gentleman and my daughter an empowered 21st Century woman. I may have to stop calling her “Princess” and I’m not sure how she will feel about that.


I’ve loved many and trusted all of them. I broke a few hearts over the years and I’m sorry for that and I would fix things if I could though in all honesty I think all of them are in a better place. I’ve had my heart broken a few times and I’m not sorry about that. It goes with the territory. We love who we love, we trust who we trust. I miss the sunshine, lollipops and rainbows.

I’m not ashamed of my past. I have happy memories. And not all of the names above loved me back because some barely knew I existed. And yes, some of them hate me for a number of reasons. But these mattered. These matter. Love is thinking about and hoping for the best for someone, even if they don’t love you back. By that measure, I have loved and been loved and I am lucky.

In an earlier draft of this post, I listed the first names of everyone I loved from age 5 until now. That was vanity. They know who they are. I resolve to be more careful with my heart and therefore more careful with the hearts of others.

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I’m a sort of an armchair activist when it comes to causes. I don’t often reveal myself beyond the tirades on social media and I was content to be a linker, a concentrator, a communicator and a coward. As it happened, just shouting about injustice wasn’t enough. Injustice happens anyway even if you shout and, truth be told, even if you act there is plenty of injustice still left in the world. This isn’t about comparative injustice; we have people sleeping on the streets and yet I’m upset because someone broke my heart. No, I’m talking about injustice in the wider sense. I reckon that if we address one injustice then that’s one person whose day is a little better.

I did try to do something. Misguided as it was, standing for election and having my face rubbed in the dirt was an experience I won’t forget. I could blame the ‘situation’, the spat between the two party leaders, the scandals, the horrendous mismanagement of campaigns, the personal cost, the lack of support from my partner, and the re-designation but really I was going to lose because I was destined to lose. I didn’t walk enough (it’s tough working a job and beating the street on your own). I didn’t commit enough (though as it happens, I committed everything).

I am resolved to do better. I care about equality, abortion rights, homelessness, blood donation, the environment. I’m resolved to mumble less and shout more about the things that matter to me. We don’t have abortion clinics here in Northern Ireland, to my knowledge, but I would without hesitation volunteer to accompany anyone who needed to attend one.

I have loads of friends who are women and every day I don’t do enough for them, I’m letting them down.

…and Sausage Rolls

I cant lie about this; Ashers Sausage Rolls are amazing. I’d never had one before the “gay cake” thing but I decided to try them. Believe me when I say that I’m totally confused about how that whole row should have gone down as it seems both sides are at fault. What I will add is that it doesn’t matter how angry one community is over it, the workers at Ashers deserve to make a living too. They’re damn good bakers and I suspect many of them just want to get through the day and get home to their families.

I mean, if you think about it, equal marriage doesn’t have anything to do with my life. I’m a heterosexual, white male who has so far managed to be married twice (both unsuccessfully, depending on your definition, but you have to admit I appear as an optimist). The issue with it is bullies. I loathe bullies (and by that I admit to having been one at several points in my life – I try to be kind, I admit to falling short of my own expectations).

I’ve always been led by my feelings and it’s usually gotten me into trouble. Even today I’m debating quitting my job and going on a 4 week sailing expedition. Because I can find another job (how’s that for exercising my male privilege) but I don’t know if this opportunity would come along again. I can post all of the pithy slogans you can find about taking chances and just going for it….but I’ve never really done that. I’ve never lived outside of Northern Ireland. I’ve always taken the safe and sensible route. Even my risk-taking has been calculated.

I resolve to be braver.

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So, as of today, I’ve decided to come out as a Feminist.

I’ve always shirked away from the name as it seems by nature to imply that it’s anti-men. I’ve chickened out by saying that I’m a humanist and all humans should be equal. But that’s not getting us anywhere. It’s like being outraged by something on Twitter. It goes nowhere. I owe this to my sisters, I owe this to my mother and I owe it to my daughter. And I owe it to my ex-lovers. I owe it to the pretty barista whose smile doesn’t mean anything other than “Thank you for making today go pass pleasantly or at least in a way I can ignore”. I owe it to the woman who emails me in the middle of the night seeking help with interview questions or investment pitch grilling. I owe it to every woman who has ever watched me blether on stage (ha, talk about the patriarchy!) and I owe it to any woman who has ever named me as someone who helped them.

What did the EU ever do for us? – by Simon Sweeney

Not much, apart from:

  • providing 57% of our trade;
  • structural funding to areas hit by industrial decline;
  • clean beaches and rivers;
  • cleaner air;
  • lead free petrol;
  • restrictions on landfill dumping;
  • a recycling culture;
  • cheaper mobile charges;
  • cheaper air travel;
  • improved consumer protection and food labelling;
  • a ban on growth hormones and other harmful food additives;
  • better product safety;
  • single market competition bringing quality improvements and better industrial performance;
  • break up of monopolies;
  • Europe-wide patent and copyright protection;
  • no paperwork or customs for exports throughout the single market;
  • price transparency and removal of commission on currency exchanges across the eurozone;
  • freedom to travel, live and work across Europe;
  • funded opportunities for young people to undertake study or work placements abroad;
  • access to European health services;
  • labour protection and enhanced social welfare;
  • smoke-free workplaces;
  • equal pay legislation;
  • holiday entitlement;
  • the right not to work more than a 48-hour week without overtime;
  • strongest wildlife protection in the world;
  • improved animal welfare in food production;
  • EU-funded research and industrial collaboration;
  • EU representation in international forums;
  • bloc EEA negotiation at the WTO;
  • EU diplomatic efforts to uphold the nuclear non-proliferation treaty;
  • European arrest warrant;
  • cross border policing to combat human trafficking, arms and drug smuggling; counter terrorism intelligence;
  • European civil and military co-operation in post-conflict zones in Europe and Africa;
  • support for democracy and human rights across Europe and beyond;
  • investment across Europe contributing to better living standards and educational, social and cultural capital.

All of this is nothing compared with its greatest achievements: the EU has for 60 years been the foundation of peace between European neighbours after centuries of bloodshed.

It furthermore assisted the extraordinary political, social and economic transformation of 13 former dictatorships, now EU members, since 1980.

Now the union faces major challenges brought on by neoliberal economic globalisation, and worsened by its own systemic weaknesses. It is taking measures to overcome these. We in the UK should reflect on whether our net contribution of £7bn out of total government expenditure of £695bn is good value. We must play a full part in enabling the union to be a force for good in a multi-polar global future.

Simon Sweeney,
Lecturer in international political economy, University of York


Nest has issues

Nest owners have reported that their smart thermostats have stopped working and as a result many woke up to colder than normal temperature in their house and unresponsive completely dead Nests. The fault lies in a software update (version 5.1.3 or later) that was pushed out to devices in December that drains the battery and ultimately shuts down the device.

I don’t recall the last time my heating system developed a bug, never mind one that was introduced by the manufacturer after they sold it to me. If a remote software update can turn your appliances off, can they turn them on? And if your microwave or oven is net-connected, then can someone turn it on when you’re asleep?

Mobile more prevalent than Electricity, Sanitation, Education

According to the latest Ofcom Communications Market report, Northern Ireland has become a “smartphone society”.

In the last five years, smartphone ownership among adults has tripled (from 21% to 63%) and is now the preferred way to access the internet, having overtaken the laptop.

Additionally in the same time period, tablet ownership has gone from 2% to 54%.

Fixed line broadband take-up still remains well below than the UK average and we now lag behind England and Wales for coverage. But with the trends of 4G being available (considering all operators) to 91% of premises in Northern Ireland, it would seem that our internet usage is not only growing up, but growing even more mobile year on year.

Northern Ireland has always been a quick adopter of new technology – from having the most rapid growth in portable music players and also having the highest penetration of the iPod brand in Western Europe.

The full communications market report is available here.

The last thing to notice is that mobile is more prevalent than electricity, sanitation, clean water and education.