Before i Forget : Simon Jones's blog

July 2008

GeneralTuesday, July 29th, 2008, (10:19 pm)

Over the weekend me and a few other guys went to Scotland for our friend Gavin’s ‘stag weekend.’ I’d write a post about it, but we agreed that what happens in Scotland, stays in Scotland. So you see, my lips are sealed.

What happens in Scotland...

I would love to write a funny post about the birds and the beers, the laughter and the tears, the ups, the downs, the rage buggies, the flamenco dancer girls, and the conquests of Fozwaldo the great, and the blood sucking vampires. But the stories of the stag weekend are sealed now among an elite pre-wedding ninja brotherhood that can never break the unwritten code of silence.*

*Code may be temporarily deferred by members of the pre-wedding ninja brotherhood for the purposes of humorous regaling with absolute license given for embellishment or complete manipulation/fabrication of the facts for the extension of merriment, amusement, embarrassment or ridicule.

Art and Found on the webFriday, July 25th, 2008, (8:00 am)

It’s Friday, and I’ll admit that I’ve been feeling a little underwhelmed of late. It’s nothing serious, just a simple a combination of small things like the complete lack of a summer here in the UK and a plethora of tedious work projects that are about as exciting for me as grocery shopping. I want to feel inspired and energized. The upcoming weekend away in Scotland with friends will help no doubt, but for now I’ve found a distracting site that allows me to peer across the expanse of the internet and find out how other people are feeling. Welcome to the voyeuristic virtual vista that is

We Feel Fine

‘We Feel Fine’ ( is a clever and completely engrossing website that scours the internet every ten minutes, harvesting human feelings. The site scans blog posts for occurrences of the phrases “I feel” and “I am feeling”. Having found an occurrence the system looks backward to the beginning of the sentence, and forward to the end of the sentence, and then saves the full sentence in a database including any image that accompanied the blog post.

For the end user of the site those feelings can be explored using a unique and quite beautiful self-organizing particle system interface, where each particle represents a single feeling posted by a single individual. The particles’ properties – color, size, shape, opacity – indicate the nature of the feeling inside. Any particle can be clicked to reveal the full sentence or photograph it contains, clicking that sentence or photograph then takes the user to the blog from where the feeling was harvested.

Created by Jonathan Harris and Sepandar Kamvar ‘We Feel Fine’ is described by them as “an artwork authored by everyone”. It’s been harvesting feelings since August 2005 and to date has collected 11,441,722 feelings.

So it’s Friday and maybe you’re feeling in need of a little distraction yourself? If that’s the case then I feel like you should check out this fascinating site. They say it’s going to be a sunny weekend here, maybe even a hot one too. If that’s the case then I’m quite sure I’ll be feeling fine again too.

We Feel Fine

GeneralThursday, July 17th, 2008, (8:21 pm)

Nothing to say

Found on the webMonday, July 14th, 2008, (11:26 pm)

I know it’s the start of the week and probably too early to be posting websites for procrastination purposes, but I thought you might enjoy this one.

Click here to see more cartoons from Everyday People

Canadian cartoonist Cathy Thorne takes a humorously look at the day-to-day things women face, but while her cartoons are obviously appealing to a female audience they’re funny and enjoyable even for a red blooded male like me.

Working from her home on a quiet street in Toronto Thorne publishes a weekly cartoon “about real women” on her website ‘Everyday People‘ which is really worth look. As a guy I found myself thinking “Yeah I know how that feels” when looking at some of the cartoons, like the one which shows a woman standing alone with a captions that reads; “It’s not that I want to change him, it’s just that he would be so much better if he were different.” Or another in which a couple stand apart, arms crossed in annoyance with the caption; “I know I’ve been overly emotional lately, but that only means you should be nicer to me.

It’s a funny site that’s well worth a visit. You can even email the cartoons, though you can’t add a message to the email unfortunately. I wanted to email a couple of them but I decided against it because on their own I was worried that it might seem like I was just being mean. But there I go again, trying to preempt what a woman would think – I guess I’ll never learn!

Everyday people cartoons

GeneralThursday, July 10th, 2008, (9:43 pm)

When I was a toddler I had a jack-in-the-box which, on account of my early language skills, I named ‘Guggla.’ I don’t really remember him that much, he was just one of the many toys that I played with as a child. He shared my room with cars, trucks, fire engines, a parking garage, action-men, lego, a guitar and a whole host of other things that accompanied me through my early years. So when my Mom recently emailed me some pictures of my young niece and nephew, Jacob & Sumalee, playing with a wooden fortress that my Granddad had made for me, I couldn’t help but feel nostalgic.

I loved that fortress. It had a draw bridge that could be extended over the gloss blue moat, and turrets upon which my knights in their painted armor would brandish gruesome weaponry and cast imaginary arrows at the invaders below. It had no switches or buttons, cord or batteries, it was powered entirely by the imagination of a child. I don’t know how many hours I must have spent immersed in that medieval world, but I imagine that the fortress served as the seed for the fascination with castles that I have today.

My Granddad created a number of great toys from wood. He built my multi-level parking garage with it’s array of ramps and tricky walls. He made my action-men a home and a base from where they planned their various adventures, one of which involved parachuting into the pond, much to my Dad’s annoyance. And then there was the scale model of our family home, a dolls house built for my sister, Louise, which came complete with action figures of the five of us. It was amazing, and I’m not ashamed to say that I think I played with that about as much as my sister did (much to her annoyance too I might add!).

Mom also sent me a photograph of my niece and nephew playing in Jubilee Cottage, a wendy house built into the space under the stairs in my sisters family home. I first saw Jubilee Cottage back in 1977, the year of the Queens Jubilee when I was just six years old. It was another one of Granddad’s creations, built into a space in my sisters bedroom. Dad had painted the outside with red tiles, and flowers either side of the bright yellow toddler sized door. Louise and I played in there for hours, cooking on the hand made wooden stove and making imaginary cups of tea served in vivid orange and yellow plastic cups.

I’s funny how when I look back, it’s not the battery powered loud toys that I remember most. Instead it’s things like the fortress and the parking garage that are embossed into my memory. Even a stuffed cartoon style bird I named ‘King’ sticks in my mind. Made by my grandmother, whom we to this day still call ‘Yogi,’ ‘King’ was an exact copy of a stuffed bird that used to look out of the window of a house we used to walk past on the way to my grandparents who lived just around the corner. I liked looking at that bird and wanted one just like him. With a little neighborly help Yogi was able to make that happen, and ‘King’ looked out of my bedroom window for years to come.

Then there was the train set that my Dad built in my brother’s room. It included a model village complete with a pub called ‘The Swan’, a police station, and a farmhouse set on a landscape of trees and hills. It was a pretty impressive train set I can tell you, but Pete wasn’t always excited about having his little brother in his bedroom, and so began my education in boundary distinctions. Fortunately my Scaletrix set, wasn’t similarly fixed and therefore my brother and I were able to play with that in relative harmony.

I’m glad that my parents were able to hold on to some of the things of our childhood. Sure, they’re different now as I look at them through the eyes of an adult. But there’s something of that child in me that can still recall the wonder of these things. So when asked recently, I couldn’t resist an invitation by Sumalee to join her inside Jubilee Cottage for a cup of imaginary tea.

As for Guggla, my old jack-in-the-box, he wasn’t discarded either. When I grew tired of his wobbly ways he took retirement in a storage box where he remains to this day, quietly hoping perhaps to make a few encore appearances and once more feel the warmth of the sun on his wooden face before he’ll ‘guggle’ no more.

So long Granddad

GeneralWednesday, July 9th, 2008, (1:55 am)

Sometimes I fall asleep on the couch. That’s not entirely an easy thing to do on my uncomfortable Ikea couches, but with my legs stretched out across the corner of the coffee table and a cushion propped behind my head I can just about float away like a twirl of cigarette smoke and disappear to napland.

I’m not big into napping; I’m a snooze button man myself. In the morning when my alarm tells me it’s time to get up I give it a wallop with an outstretched flailing arm and return to my dreamtime. I like morning dreams the best, you can wake up hit snooze and if you’re quick enough you can get right back to the dream. For example, yesterday I stirred to hit snooze then got right back to deciding if £1m cash-back at the supermarket automated checkout would take to long to collect or not.

As it happens, it turns out that my sleep pattern isn’t all that good for me. According to a recent article in the Boston Globe we would all be better off if we took a twenty minute power-nap in the afternoon. Apparently doing this would enhance our alertness and concentration, elevate our mood and sharpen our motor skills! Drink a cup of tea or coffee before you take that nap and you’ll wake feeling extra alert too because the caffeine will be kicking in just as you emerge from your micro-slumber.

In a recent study of 23,000 men a women by Harvard University and the University of Athens Medical School researchers found the participants who took regular naps of 30 minutes or longer at least three times a week had a 37% less risk of dying from heart disease. Those who took shorter or less regular naps, maybe once or twice a week, lowered their risk of heart disease by 12%.

So, maybe I’m reading this wrong, but does that mean that instead of hitting the gym four times a week and working up a sweat pointlessly rowing or running to nowhere on a machine, I could be just as healthy if I took a nap and perhaps dreamed of the gym?

Maybe I’ll try a semi-scientific study and take afternoon naps instead of those morning snoozes. Though wait a second, has anyone studied the effects of a combination of long morning snooze sessions and afternoon naps? I think I might just have to try that, in the name of science of course. It’s a tough challenge I know, but I’d like to think that I might just be a good candidate for this most selfless of tasks.

Boston Globe’s guide to better napping
Nap time
Napping benefits

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