Before i Forget : Simon Jones's blog

June 2006

GeneralFriday, June 30th, 2006, (11:00 am)

There are few people in the world who could, or even would, admit to fainting while inside a house of mirrors such as you might find at an amusement park. As shameful as it might be, I can indeed make that admission.

There were mitigating circumstance that must be taken into consideration though. I was already traumatized from a ride on a ferris wheel, and I hadn’t eaten all day. Though I will admit, even considering those facts, collapsing while inside a house of mirrors is embarrassingly pathetic.

If you’re not familiar with what a house of mirrors is then I’ll explain. They’re simply a collection of dark rooms with funny mirrors in that change the reflected appearance of your body. One moment you are tall and shockingly thin, the next you are a dumpy little fat dwarf. It’s all good fun… usually. However, a few years ago, after watching the Epsom Derby with a girlfriend and a few of her friends, the group of us decided to go to the fun fair within the track grounds. I had hardly eaten all day and wasn’t feeling at the top of my game when we entered the house of mirrors.

As we walked around the corridors the girls squealed at their various reflections, laughing and pointing at one another in the mirrors. I, on the other hand, became very quiet and started to feel rather unwell. I announced that I was stepping outside for a breath of fresh air, but before I could make it to the door I collapsed in a heap on the floor. The shame of being carried out by my arms and legs of a children’s amusement prop by four nurses was something I never lived down.

Some years later I find myself the owner of a shinny new iMac, and while this isn’t a toy it does at least come with a few things to amuse oneself. Photo Booth is one such thing. A seemingly useless bit of free software that allows the user to snap pictures of themselves using the Macs built-in webcam. With a few clicks of the mouse you can apply some utterly foolish filters and before you know it you have your very own miniature house of mirrors.

This time around I managed to stay conscience the entire time while metamorphasizing into disturbing versions of myself. Before you know it you’ve already spent way too much time trying to virtually inflict the most hideous disfigurements upon your familiar face for no other reason but the laughs you’re having. You’ve got better things to do of course, but hey, haven’t we all. Pictured above are my best disfigurements, some might even say improvements.

Wiki about Photo Booth
Photo Booth : Silly Faces Made Easy

Environment and GeneralThursday, June 29th, 2006, (2:56 pm)

Do you ever look at the volume of junk mail you get in a week and think to yourself how utterly wasteful it is. You don’t read it, you didn’t ask for it, yet somehow they got your address and sent you this letter which you’re about to get rid of. What a waste.

earlier this year I was getting vast amounts of junk email. It was mainly made up of credit card companies sending me ‘pre-approved’ applications. I had no idea there were so many cards out there. But unlike junk email the mail that came via the postman didn’t really bother me too much. I’d just put it straight in the recycling.

I then started to get a little concerned that just chucking my ‘pre-approved’ credit card applications in a public recycle bin was maybe not that wise so I invested in a shredder. It was then when I came to understand just how much junk mail I was receiving – and moreover, just how much paper was being wasted trying to get me to sign up for this, or buy that. I thought to myself that while I wasn’t responsible for sending the mail, if I am to try to live in an environmentally responsible way then maybe I should find out how I can prevent such vast amounts of paper being wasted on me.

A quick Google found the UK’s mailing preference service. A rather cool service that will stop or at least dramatically reduce the amount of junk mail you get. Minutes later I’d signed up online and was assured that the service would be in full effect after about a month. They weren’t kidding either. It’s been some three months or so since I put my name on the mailing preference service and I get pretty much no junk mail at all.

I was chatting with a friend in California last night and they complained about the amount of junk mail they receive which reminded me of the UK’s preference service and made me wonder if there is such a service available in the United States, and sure enough there is.

Removing your name and address from junk mail lists

According to the blog of a couple living in DC a great way reduce the amount of junk mail you get is to use a service from Equifax called the Opt-Out Prescreen.

According to the Opt-Out Prescreen website “Under the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA), the Consumer Credit Reporting Companies, are permitted to include your name on lists used by creditors or insurers to make firm offers of credit or insurance. The FCRA also provides you the right to “Opt-Out”, which prevents Consumer Credit Reporting Companies from providing your credit file information for firm offers of credit or insurance that are not initiated by you.”

“This sucker stopped all our personal credit card applications dead in their tracks. I can practically hear the trees thanking us.” Wrote Laura from Oak Park, Illinois. She does mention that the Opt-Out Prescreen service hasn’t stopped her from receiving catalogs but for this she suggests checking out the Privacy Rights Clearinghouse website.

In general it would seem that it’s a little harder to get off mailing lists in the United States, but there are things you can do if you feel strongly enough about the issue. The Direct Marketing Association give details on their website of how to get off mailing lists, plus there is a useful website out there devoted to the issue at

For me the difference is quite amazing. I used to fill my paper recycling box very quickly. I put it down to the fact that I work from home. But since the junk mail has been stopped it now takes me weeks to fill the paper recycling box. If I turned my music down then maybe I too would hear the trees thanking me.

UK mailing preference list
Equifax Opt-Out Prescreen
Privacy Rights Clearinghouse

GeneralWednesday, June 28th, 2006, (7:00 pm)

Until today I never knew anyone with H.I.V or AIDS, it was one of those things that you hear about, read about, or see in reports on TV. It was the acronym among numbers and statistics and was as connected to me as missiles or wars in far off places, a reality, but not a reality I have to deal with up close and personal. That was until today.

My friend had known that their behavior was risky, but risk was part of the territory for their sexuality it would seem. They saved me the details, suffice to say that the sex they were having wasn’t sex I would have. Anonymous faceless stolen sex where the thrill is perhaps in the anonymity and the risk. These weren’t you average one night stands, they weren’t one night anythings. They were sexual encounters that were brief enough not to get caught but long enough to regret forever. “You don’t need details Simon” I was told. “You wouldn’t understand.”

They told me they were having some tests done. Tests that a person in their position would be wise to have once in a while. They were concerned though, worried at the prospect that they had caught something and that the something might be terrible. I did what a good friend does, I reassured. “You’ll be fine, everything will be okay.” But really, what did I know, and as comforting as my words tried to be, the truth cannot be cushioned with a lie.

The day of their appointment at the hospital I called them to see how things had gone, sure that while they might have caught something, it wouldn’t be that. They were walking along a busy street and I was driving my car with the roof down, between us the combined traffic noise made it hard to hear one another, but this wasn’t a call I wanted to delay, like them I needed to know.

“I can’t really hear you.” I said “But just answer me one thing. Have you got H.I.V?” The question was to the point, blunt and without the usual dressing they might have expected from me on such an important matter. Oddly enough I know that bluntness would have been appreciated, their answer was equally as unembellished. “Yes.”

No words were exchanged for quite a few seconds after that. We shared traffic noise and nothing more, what do you say at a moment like that? It’s not a moment you rehearse in front of the mirror in your bathroom.

What now? My friend has H.I.V and I have no idea what this really means in day to day terms. I have no experience to draw upon. I’m in shock. My friend has H.I.V. Suddenly that acronym means something, it has a face, and the reality has come home to stay.

GeneralTuesday, June 27th, 2006, (7:30 pm)

After recently purchasing a new Intel iMac (very nice computer by the way) I had to register it with Apple as I set it up in my studio. Ordinarily I skip these kind of registrations but on this occasion I decided that I should probably register the product, but I elected to have a little fun when asked for my title and job title.

Once the Mac was up and running I quickly forgot about the information I had given Apple. That was until I got some Apple related junk-mail through the post addressed to Rev. Simon Jones, the “Senior whipcracker and tea boy” at my company address.

Seeing that title and job title on the envelope made me chuckle. It then occurred to me that this could actually lead to an interesting experiment in seeing just how far that information spreads. The initial information (which is incorrect by the way, I’m not a clergyman!) was submitted to Apple who in turn clearly shared this with computer retailer Cancom, the company that sent me the junk mail.

The devil inside me though about recording a telephone call to Cancom in which I angrily demand an explanation as to why they feel it is appropriate to mock me. But then I decided against this, after all, I’m a man of the cloth don’t you know.

GeneralMonday, June 26th, 2006, (11:30 am)

I went quad biking (four-wheeling) at the weekend in celebration of ‘bezzy mates’ birthday. Will turned thirty three and decided that to celebrate he’d invite a bunch of us to go ‘quading’ in a place called ‘Sheepy Magna’ in the midlands.

I’ve done quad biking before but things like this don’t get old do they. Well I suppose they might if you were a farmer or someone who had to ride the four-wheelers all the time for work, but for ‘city folk’ like us these kind of things never seem to get old.

They had a small makeshift track and we were all timed as we belted around the track as fast as we could. After predictions that I would have some spectacular crash, it was actually Andy who managed to injure himself. Before he even got a time on the board he somehow managed to run over his left ankle, spraining it quite seriously and therefore ending his afternoon then and there.

The rest of us carried on while Andy watched from the sidelines (well what else could we do?). Growing in confidence we attacked the track harder and harder each time we were out on it. Eventually Mark came out with the overall fastest time from the three time trials we did. I came in a close second which might have been first had I not completely wiped out on my final run. But it was all for fun anyway so we didn’t really care about the results too much.

Gone are the days when a birthday would mean a drunken night on the town stumbling home singing songs eating some nasty kebab which you invariably end up seeing again not long after you consume it. Mind you, I’m not sure we were ever really like that anyway. Nonetheless this was a fine way to celebrate Will’s birthday. Next year we should go track racing or something. Give Andy a proper chance to really hurt himself!

GeneralSunday, June 25th, 2006, (1:00 pm)

I’d like to extend a very warm welcome to my friends from Xanga who may know me better as “thekingofnonomia”, my Xanga username. If you’re visiting here from Xanga today you will have already read about ‘Before i Forget’, my new blogging home. I hope you’ll stop by often.

I’ve decided to move of from Xanga to my very own blogging space here. It shouldn’t come as a complete surprise, I told a number of ‘Xangans’ that I would be leaving the warmth of the Xanga huddle before long. After all, the designer in me wanted a little more creative room to maneuver.

Pretty much all of my old Xanga posts are here and the comments remain intact for nearly all of them.

It’s been fun having a Xanga though. I signed up to the Xanga network back in March 2004 so that I could comment on my friend Erin’s blog. Then six months later I started using the service regularly.

The great thing with Xanga is that is enabled me to actually become buddies with people whom I had met in Texas while visiting Erin. I got to know what they were up to in their lives and likewise they got to know what was going on with me too.

Last summer I was once again in Texas so it seemed like a perfect opportunity for us ‘Xangans’ to all meet up. Not everyone was there but a load of the Xanga bloggers turned out and descended upon Karen (known on Xanga as ‘agardengal’) and Albert’s house where we sat around drinking and eating and having a great night. A highlight of my summer I must say! I hope we all get do that again sometime.

I should also mention Christine, otherwise known as CrazyWomanWriter. I wouldn’t have ever known Christine had it not been for Xanga. But we’ve met up a few times when I’ve visited Portland and will probably meet up again later this summer. I just love all these connections – this is the beauty of the internet if you ask me.

I’m going to try and return to Texas late in the summer if I can, we’ll have to see how that goes. But if I do then I believe former Xangan Shae and Pastor David will have a drink and maybe a cigar with me in some ‘knock off’ British pub in Houston where the conversation may turn to how many ‘bad words’ we can think that start with M. I’m looking forward to that, and who knows maybe they’ll invite a few of the other people I’ve sparred with on Xanga like ‘Sir’ Reece who recently dubbed me a “block headed Brit.”

All in all I’ve had some fun on Xanga and I’ve gotten to know and meet some great people as a result. Long may that continue I say. I’m going to use a special plugin to this blogging software that will enable any posts I make here to appear on my old Xanga too, so hopefully a few of my old friends and subscribers back there will click the comment link which will bring them here to say whatever it is they want to say. Interactions and connections, that’s the name of the game. That’s what makes the internet a great place.

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