Saturday 17 December 2022

December Plans

Welcome to a dull and rainy South Manchester. We’ve just had a cold snap where the temperature reached a low of -10 degrees Celsius – most unpleasant. Now it is getting warmer and with it comes the rain. 

This is how mad weather is in the UK. Last Monday it was -5 degrees Celsius in Manchester and next Monday it is forecast to be 14 degrees Celsius. 


Shall we answer some silly questions from Sunday Stealing

1. My plans for December 

We are half way through December now so there are only about two weeks left. In those two weeks, I have just two days of work left in 2022 (my last day is on Tuesday). Most of the Christmas celebrations associated with work have happened already. Next week will be a quiet one I think until Christmas Eve. We are going for a meal with our neighbours on Thursday and on Christmas Eve itself we are off to Blackpool to see Mrs PM’s parents. We return on Christmas Day and are off to North Manchester to spend the rest of the day with my youngest lad, my eldest lad and his girlfriend and her parents. It should be fun. After that I will be going for a couple of beers with a couple of mates and then we will be spending New Year’s Eve with some friends.

2. How energized I feel at this point in the year 

I am usually quite tired in the winter and December is the most energised that I ever feel because of Christmas and the general feeling of euphoria for the festive season. I always look forward to the Christmas break from work and that also helps to give me a break until the worst two months of the year, January and February, when it is dark and cold and there is bugger all to look forward to apart from spring.  

3. The best things about the holiday season 

I enjoy the social aspect of this time of year and the break from work. We usually get together with family and friends and the general excitement is enough to keep me happy, despite the cold and short days. 

4. Something that changed my perspective on life 

Quite a few things that have happened have changed my perspective on life. Most recently, the loss of my sister made me reconsider my priorities and led to my decision to go part time slightly earlier than planned. But I generally do examine my life on a fairly regular basis anyway and my immediate plans for things like retirement are still in place and on schedule.

5. What I seem to get the most comments about 

I assume you are talking about the blog here. The most commented posts I think are the ones where I have been slightly controversial. The biggest by far is when I basically declared that Shakespeare is rubbish. At the time, I didn’t think it would be that controversial and I was pleasantly surprised that some people who love the bard commented to discuss things in a civil manner. The purpose of the post was not to be critical for the sake of being critical; it was to tell people why I genuinely think that he is overrated. 

Here is a comment that I particularly liked:

Great post. Not just an "I hate Shakespeare post" but a worked out argument. Still I disagree with you, but then, I would, being a fully paid up writer of the 55% explanations!  So much did I enjoy your post, I have blogged about it at The Shakespeare Standard. There's a link to the rebuttal. You'll find that you're in good company on the plots (one Vladimir Nabokov shares some of your view) but you might like to have a go at a Six Word Shakepeare and cut down on those notes!

One or two keyboard warriors attacked my views - but I have a thick skin so I can take it. Here is one of them:

I found this drivel by accident. I'm just amazed that there are people out there like you, very many people in fact, who wear their ignorance and foolishness so proudly. I thought I was reading the ramblings of some over-opinionated teenager until I saw what an old fart you were.

You can read the post here, if you like.

Shakespeare is Rubbish 

6. The changes I’ve made to my style 

Again I assume you are talking about the blog. I haven’t really made any changes to my style which is to be honest, self-deprecating, slightly controversial but above all try to be funny (which I fail miserably at mostly). I think some of my early posts were a little amateurish and now they are still amateurish but slightly better. 

I don’t really care whether people like my blog or not. I like it and that’s all that counts.

7. What gets in the way of my success 

Procrastination and laziness. Over the past few years I have taken on both of these negative qualities and I think that I have improved and (almost) overcome both. 

Also shyness and the willingness to sit in my comfort zone have been a hindrance in the past too but I feel that I am winning the war with those two nemeses too.

8. News sources I trust the most 

What news sources can you trust these days? Almost all of them are biased and a lot of them are full of lies. 

I tend to watch the BBC news and read the BBC news website. They are driven to be impartial and that can be infuriating, especially when it comes to things like Brexit and Boris Johnson. 

Recently a newsreader was suspended for saying that she was “gleeful” that Boris Johnson was not going to try to run for Prime Minister again:

Another BBC presenter recently got into trouble for saying that when covering Brexit they could find thousands of experts who thought it was a terrible idea, but they had to be impartial and find those who said it was a great idea – and they could barely find any with that viewpoint.

It’s difficult to trust any news source these days but I think BBC is one of the better ones.

9. Fictional characters that would easily fit into my life 

Are there any fictional characters who love progressive rock music, are massive fans of Walsall football club, love to travel and like a beer or two while at the same time being a total geek?

I don’t know of any. Do you?

10. My relationship with spirituality 

One of scepticism. 

I don’t mind people being religious as I think it can give comfort. If you are person who regularly goes to church, practices a religious faith and reads the Bible on a regular basis then keep on doing it if it makes you happy.

I won’t do those things. I spent the first sixteen years of my life as a Roman Catholic indoctrinated by guilt, led to believe that the Bible was the source of all knowledge, even though it contradicts itself. I pointed this out to a Jehovah’s witness on my doorstep once (I actually like talking to them) and was told that Satan planted dinosaur bones in the Earth to sow doubt into the minds of non-believers like me. It was an interesting if not flawed perspective.

As for non-religious spirituality, I don’t really know what it is – and this makes me sceptical. People feel “spiritual” if they want to “grow” personally and become a better person – at least that’s what I think it means. Religion is something that achieves this because you become closer to God. And those who aren’t religious obviously feel that they want to adhere to their own values and grow as that person.

The problem is that those values are different for every single person in the world and if you are not being led by religion, how do you define them? People are only experts in their own happiness and fulfilment – not mine.

That’s why I am sceptical. For me, I just want to be happy not follow a doctrine created by another person that tells me how to be happy in their probably flawed view. 

Deep answer there and worthy of a more thought and a proper blog post. 

Apologies for that. 

11. How I feel when I’m being retrospective 

I look back at the past with happiness mainly. There are some bad times but mostly I get a warm and fuzzy feeling when I look back over my life. I listen to music a lot and older songs take me back in time to those places and occasions. 

I love it.

12. My thoughts on AI technology 

I work in IT and although I don’t personally use AI software, I know people who do. Now if you are a science fiction fan you will no doubt be afraid of AI because of stories like The Terminator, where in the future, we go too far with AI and machines become self-aware and rebel against their creators, i.e. us, with maximum prejudice. 

All AI is at the moment is the ability for software to resolve problems on its own with reasoned logic. There is a lot of it about at the moment, for example with software that recommends things for you to watch or buy based on past experience, for example when you log onto Amazon and it offers you things that are similar to things you have bought in the past.

It is all very clever and is getting better. 

The bottom line is though that all of this was written and created by people like me, and has limitations based on the algorithms that have been programmed into it. 

But if can be abused and that is, if anything, the scary thing. 

Will machines become self-aware in the future and try to rid the planet of mankind (like in the Matrix and the Terminator)?

I doubt it. It’s all science fiction and if like me you are a huge fan of science fiction then you can believe anything.

13. The odd/weird things I do when nobody else is around 

That’s a personal question but I am all for a little self-deprecation (see above). Basically if I am alone in the house and I have some decent music on, I will sing along with it very loudly and sometimes even pick up my air guitar and play along with the song as if I am the guitarist. To something like this:

I have done this in public though (in the past) – so people know about it.

Yes - I am a complete idiot, aren't I?

14. What I do when I can’t sleep 

I usually pick up my Kindle and carry on reading. It works 95% of the time. But it is a rare occurrence. The last time it happened was when I accidentally had a caffeinated coffee in the evening (I don’t drink caffeine these days).

15. The winter/holiday season tasks I enjoy

We’ve just been to the supermarket to get in provisions for Christmas. I don’t normally like shopping but this particular shop is not too bad. Apart from that, nothing sticks out as being an enjoyable task.

And finally…

Since this is almost certainly my last post before Christmas, can I take this opportunity to wish everybody, who is unfortunate enough to stumble onto this random set of words, a very Merry Christmas.

May Father Christmas (or Santa Claus if you prefer) bring you everything you need to make you happy.


River said...

Merry Christmas to you and Mrs Plasman too and the cats.

Roger Owen Green said...

Air guitar? I thought EVERYBODY did that, and I'm not limited to when no one is around. I got a girlfriend that way.

Plastic Mancunian said...

Hi River,

Thanks very much. Hope you have a great Xmas too.




Plastic Mancunian said...

Hi Roger,

You do see a few people taking their air guitars to gigs.

Good on you for using yours to get a girlfriend.




Lisa said...

We like BBC, too, even here in the US. I forgot to list that one on my blog. I really enjoy reading your blog each week! Merry Christmas!

Lori said...

I think air guitar is not weird, a lot of people do that. You do you and be proud of it. I think you do.
I am happy to be on Christmas break from work too!! Yay!!! Have a nice break and Merry Christmas! Loved your answers! Have a nice weekend.

Stacy said...

What I wouldn't give for objective news! All of our news outlets are so slanted by personal view that I find it hard to believe any of them other than on the big, basic facts. It drives me crazy as when I studied journalism the number one rule was to present the facts and only the facts of a story and let the reader/viewer form their own conclusions. As one professor said, opinion doesn't belong in the news, it belongs on the editorial page.

Plastic Mancunian said...

Hi Lisa,

I guess you get the World Service over there. I'vee watched that while abroad.




Plastic Mancunian said...

Hi Lori,

I do me all the time. Yes - Xmas is great for a break from the monotony of work.




Plastic Mancunian said...

Hi Stacey,

I totaly agree with that - opinion shouldn't be allowed in the news - but sadly it is.




Kwizgiver said...

My holiday break from school begins Thursday at noon. I'm quite looking forward to it.

Happy holidays to you and yours!

Plastic Mancunian said...

Hi Kwizgiver,

Good for you. Hope you have a good one too.