Friday, 22 May 2009

Suicidal MPs

Driving in this morning I couldn't believe what I heard: an MP involved in the expenses scandal has suggested that the pressure is so great a suicide is feared.

First of you have to worry that MPs aren't bright enough to fiddle expenses without getting caught - I agree that they shouldn't do it, it's totally wrong, but I'd feel somewhat safer if they were smart enough to get away with it: intelligent scoundrels seem more acceptable that incompetant money-grabbing buffoons.

Secondly, doesn't anyone either a) think before opening their mouths, or b) at least have some decent PR people in place to vet what is about to be said.

So MPs might be feeling a bit under pressure, did it not occur to anyone that there are numerous voters who are in a complete financial mess through no fault of their own (and possibly *because* of the very MPs that were making ridiculous expense claims) who have a slightly more justified reason for feeling suicidal?!

People are losing their savings, pensions, homes, jobs because of the mess we're in!

At the moment MPs from all sides look like they are greedy, uncaring and incompetant. Roll on the next election, sooner the better!

Thursday, 21 May 2009

Feeling wrong

I've mentioned before about how certain memories can trigger feelings that I had when I was the 'old me' and also that it is quite easy to see more of the things that are 'wrong' about how I look, sound or act which can be equally disturbing. I think I've also talked about feeling insecure about what I'm going through and wondering if it's really what I want or should do and all of the constant doubt that comes with everything in my life now.

When I have to try and explain why I've done this, why I've chosen this route it always makes me feel as if I'm making excuses and that it's not something I really have to do. I know all the stories about transexuals that have been close or even attempted suicide or at the very least become unbearably depressed. It always seems that they have much more justification for seeking help and treatment than I have. I feel a fraud in some ways and doubt what I am and what I want to become.

I have just been lying on the sofa watching a DVD thinking about all of this and how there is so much that I still see of myself that I feel is 'wrong'. Also that my attempts at being female are sometimes over-the-top or are mere gestures towards an ideal that I can never, ever reach.

Then I began to think about how I feel in those moments where I'm wrapped up in, what I'm sure some people see as (and what I fear is), a pretence of people a normal female person. And I realised that being lost in that feeling is what I need, I am really happy feeling like that, it's just right, and something want to happen all of the time. I can't keep myself in denial that I'm succeeding in becoming who I want to be, but I have to keep trying there really is something deep inside of me that will only be satisfied by me continuing to transition.

Maybe for some it's harder to hide or control that part of themselves and that's why they have definite outward signs of distress and upset. For me I've never had much reason to be upset with my life as a whole, I've always thought that what I've had to go through hasn't been anywhere near as bad as what others suffer so I've always kept my really feelings carefully under control. This probably means I've not been completely honest and open with myself and could go some way to explaining why it has taken me so long to follow this path.

Monday, 18 May 2009

Dear Mr Brown

Thanks for helping to make my life that much harder because of the mess you have gotten this economy in the pathetic attempts you and your government have made to fix things. Oh, and I particularly like the money that the banks have got that doesn't seem to be filtering down to the likes of me.

I have debt. In fact I have quite alot of debt. Some of it was just spending for ages ago that was hanging around, some (most) is more recent spending (on credit cards). I don't blame anyone for it, I take full responsibility, it's my problem. I would use the, fairly pathetic but truthful, execuse that alot has been due to what I have gone through over the past year or so, it's certainly contributed.

So, faced with the problem I have attempted to find a solution. Stop spending on credit cards and try and manage the debt by consolidating it all so that I can move foward, pay it off and deal with things with the minimum of fuss.

I applied for further borrowing against the mortage, provided all the information, had to suffer the indignity of changing my name *again* when I thought I'd finished that process last year. I gave an explanation of why the debts had mounted up and said that I was trying to sort everything out.


No chance of appeal.

To add insult to injury, the application should have been rejected immediately apparently.

This was the last ditch attempt. I didn't want to borrow against the house but it was the only way I thought I would get the best chance of a loan: stick to something with security, with an organisation that is already familiar with me and to whom I'd proved I was a reliable and good customer.


So where is all this money that the banks have got? Presumably they are keeping hold of it because they clearly don't want to let me have it.

So, no, probably I'm not inclined to vote you and your party in for another term, you have done quite enough damage already. I'm obviously not one of the people who is worst off because of you but your policies and handling of the economy have now had a direct and damaging affect on me, as they are doing to many other people. Thanks again.

[ P.S. So, where do I go from here. I am not financially "screwed" for want of a better expression. I can't afford to repay the debts I have and no-one will lend me the money to help me manage them better. Catch-22, as I'm now almost certain to just get into more and more debt as the interest piles up ]

Saturday, 16 May 2009

A lawsuit waiting to happen?

One of the principals on which the MPAA (Movie Picture Association of America) and similar organisations pin their continued lawsuit-fest against average people downloading copies of DVDs and movies, is that ever download represents lost revenue. You are stealing from the movie companies, affectively for some amount that is a multiple of the profit they make on, what would have been a sale.

If you accept the premise that one download equals one lost sale then it isn't too much of a jump to accept the conslusion that it is theft (by some definition). However, the premise is, at the very least, based on no actual concrete evidence or reliable statistics and at worst is plain wrong. So while it is most deinitely illegal to copy copyrighted works more fuss is being made than is really justified given that alot of those 'potential sales' would never really happen.

Anyway, a thought just occurred to me: in my previous blog post I was hyping up the latest Dan Brown movie, Angels & Demons, and, while I can't claim to have a fantastically wide readership there might be the odd person who I influence to see the movie. I also mentioned Star Trek in negative terms so might turn people off seeing that.

I doubt I'm going to get anything for the free publicity for Angels & Demons even if my opinion did affect a significant number of people and equally it would seem preposterous for me to be sued/charged for the lost in revenue caused by me saying Star Trek is a bit pants and not worth a look. However, if I let someone have a copy of the DVDs for these films when they come out I would be liable for a trip to court.

But what if the people I gave the DVDs to were the ones that would never have bought it? There is no potential lost sale there. If I did NOT let them have a copy they wouldn't have bought one anyway.

So, the question is, should the movie companies try and squash bad reviews of their films to protect their profits in the same way they attempt to do with 'illegal' downloads? No, they can't do that (bet they wish they could). Should they be able to claim lost sales as a reason to sue people, no, that doesn't make sense either. Should they try and provide more sensible ways to get their movies, e.g. cheap lower-quality downloads (supplemented with advertising revenue and other techniques), yep, that seems like a better idea :D

Angels and Demons

I went to see this last night with a friend of mine and I thought I'd write a few words of review though I suspect the subject has already been extensively covered on blogs, Twitter and every other concievable online facility known to man/woman/child/and small furry creatures!

The Da Vinci Code caused alot of controversy, this film does not seem to have achieved that same affect though has been equally hyped up so I would expect it's going to be a big hit no matter what! And too be perfectly honest, I think that would be a well-deserved outcome. In my opinion both films are very entertaining, enjoyable, well-made, and certainly keep your attention. I can't remember how long Da Vinci Code was but this one is apparently over 2hrs and it does fly by.

I think Dan Brown (and these films) have recieved alot of criticism which, apart from the religious angle, has really seemed to centre on the technical merits of the writing, the style, the plots, and the over-hyping of something that some would argue is seriously lacking in many ways. Fine, these flaws may be perfectly justified and even I wouldn't argue that these are great works BUT, it is VERY good entertainment. These are films you can watch, they are gripping, they keep you guessing a little but the relevaltion at the end does not diminish the enjoyment of the ride to get there; these are films you can watch again and still enjoy.

A word of warning however: Da Vinci Code did have some very brief scenes that were violent or a little shocking but nothing that would cause me too much concern. Angels and Demons, however, is quite gruesome and there were several points where I had to look away. The film is a 12A but I would have argued it might be more appropriate to be a 15 based on these scenes and the overall context in which they occur. I know that some of these images are probably no worse that the mock-horror of films like Indiana Jones but here it is quite disturbing.

I should also mention that anyone who is remotely technical/geeky or a particle physicist would do well to prepare themselves for the absolutely garbage science in this film. If you know anything about Dan Brown it should not surprise you, he doesn't seem to let facts get in the way of a good story. There really are some hideous liberties taken here! I managed to fight the urge to leave when the psuedo science reached a peak, I expect I will have to fight that response even harder if they ever do a film of "Digital Fortress" (which features some truely ridiculous computer-related non-sense).

Anyway, a good night was had by all, I'd highly recommend this film.

I just checked and I didn't mention anything about seeing the new Star Trek movie last weekend. Sorry but I'd have to say that is rather justified, the film was a bit disappointing for me, pretty standard stuff, nothing new or impressive and the same old, tired time-travel and parallel universe plot. I expect the sequel, if there is one will be a great improvement, it can hardly be much worse than this one.

Memories and who I am

They had Boyzone on GMTV yesterday (yes, yes, I know I shouldn't watch trash like that but it's not like the BBC have competitions to win £100k and at the formats are practically the same now with the same banal stories so might as well go for the more fun channel) ... where was I, oh yes, Boyzone.

The songs that they performed reminded me of my wedding, if I've remembered this right the first dance was meant to be "When you say nothing at all" but was actually "No Matter What", and they did both of these.

I have alot of very happy memories of things I did before I started on my transtion and while I can understand that others may not few the same things so fondly anymore these are still times that I enjoyed and do not regret one little bit.

Someone commented that I am now a different person and that in some way seemed to imply that I shouldn't be sad about things that happened in my 'old' life. I think that misses the point. I don't think anyone transitions to be a different person, they do it to fully express the person that they are and have always been. There are countless sad stories of trans people who have to break up with partners and move away from home, not because that was what they wanted to do, but because it is, unfortunately the best course for all concerned.

I'm not apportioning blame here, these things are not anyones fault, it is just how things are, but moving away, splitting up and no longer being with someone does not mean you don't care about them nor does it mean that you are trying to completely erase your former life or the memories of it.

I will always remember how I felt waiting at the altar for my wife, seeing our son born, flying to Paris, and all the wonderful things we did together and as a family. It is very sad that there will be no more experiences and memories like this, and I wish there was something I could do to make that different, but there isn't.

Thursday, 14 May 2009

All over the place

I'm kind of in the middle part of the race at the moment, the initial burst at the start has since dwindled and the final sprint at the end is quite a way off, instead this is the long hard slog to just keep going.

I can't help but feel a little adrift at times and often cling to feelings, thoughts and even behaviours I had before to try to just maintain some sanity or grasp of what is going on. Of course then I feel that I'm slipping back to being the 'old' me and it almost seems that where I am now isn't so distant from what I was before which is obviously quite disturbing.

It's almost that I'm afraid that I won't be able to keep it up that I will just go back to being what I was, as if I don't have the ability or the right to be who I am to be female, to think, act, and feel like that.

Those feelings aren't really helped by the still, seemingly present, rational part of me that can look, quite objectively, at hands, hair, face, breasts, legs and everything else and see the flaws, the incongruities that make me realize that I am much less than I want to become (and will probably always be that way).

But despite everything that still drags me down I do sometime catch glimpses of what has changed and there are odd occasions when it's clear that I have changed. Maybe not physically that much but maybe in how I act and come across and maybe there has been a real change in my attitude and behaviour.

While I am obviously worried about slipping backwards if I do try and remember how I felt and acted before it's a little hard to recall and to recapture the memories and feelings. I use to be quite carefree (though I would maintain this is a euphemism for "naive" or "stupid") yet now I'm not exactly sad or depressed but what I have gone through has certainly striped away some of the rose-tint from my life.

It could be hormones, it could be actual mental changes or simply the experiences I have had, and continue to have, I'm not sure. I know that things I would have brushed off and ignored (or at least rationalised) now hurt, and sometimes deeply. And it's not always clear what hurts at first and what I've been feeling, there are times when it's taken me a while to figure it out.

I was trying to think of a way to sum up what I have been through and to triumphantly declare that I had got through it all and was still smiling. And this is true, but I guess there is more behind the smile now, and not all of it blissful ignorance.

[ Disclaimer: Yes, yet again this is self-indulgent garbage. There are people who are alot worse off than me by a very very very very long way. I'm not complaining I'm just trying to say how I feel in a rather impersonal, but hopefully honest, way ]

Wednesday, 13 May 2009

You must suffer, we did, so you have to as well!

People can be very strange, and I include myself in that as well, obviously! There were a few things from yesterday that seemed to be related and thinking (in the shower - I do my best thinking in the shower) this morning I though of something else that could be tied in.

Someone made a really silly error in some code yesterday, the sort of thing that you look at and feel complelled to denounce as stupid, idiotic and just plain crazy. Basically a perfectly valid excuse to make yourself feel superior at some elses expense (even better when the person concerned is nowhere in sight).

It turns out though that the person concerned is fairly junior and not very experienced, and when you learn that the mistake is more understandable and it's much less fun to get on your high horse and start berating them for there incompetance.

I also noticed at thread on one of the forums concerning a story on the BBC new site about a Transsexual on hunger strike and the few responses at the time had effectively attacked what she was doing and the way she went about her treatment. Again it was all too easy to get up on that high horse and start the self-righteous ranting, and I admit I was tempted to do the same.

It then occurred to me that I should maybe read the article properly and *think* about what this person could have gone through.

One of the specific points that came up about this article was that the person concerned should have gone the NHS route for treatment and whinging about it now and expecting help wasn't right. I don't really know much about the big debate that seems to rage over private/NHS options but it seems to me that most of the arguments boil down to this: we had to suffer and go through this complicated route so you do to!

A-levels, GCSE's are all getting 'easier' if those currently in work and having these exams as a distant memory are to be believed. Kids today have got it easy we (yes, I've done it too) say. They shouldn't be allowed into university with such low-standards of academic achievement! We had to do much tougher exams than they did. We had to suffer and so should they.

So in essence there are two things that came to mind out of all of this:
  1. It's so easy to jump on the slightest mistakes people make and berate.
  2. If we had to suffer to achieve something that it's only right that everyone else go through the same pain
Sometimes you just have to think for a while before saying anything ... now if only I could follow my own advice!

Tuesday, 12 May 2009

Greedy industry again ...

Okay, it's like buses, you wait for ages and three (or maybe more, I'm on a roll) blog posts come along at the same time!

The BBC has an article concerning the Call to disconnect 'file-sharers' made by the usual suspects in the music and film industries. I couldn't help comment on this as it really does wind me up, here is what I wrote, we'll see if the BBC "Have you say" team deem it publishable

"Fact: people will ALWAYS copy music/video. There is nothing that anybody can ever do to stop this.

If the music and film industry could just accept this, stop crying about lost revenue (there is no evidence that they would have made any money in the first place), and came up with services and products that people want at realistic prices then everyone would be much happier (them included).

For example, I refused to ever buy music from a legal, online store, where it had DRM attached because it simply wouldn't work on the devices I owned and restricted what I could do.

Now I happily pay around £4-5 of a digital download from Amazon safe in the knowledge that I can play this in my car, at home, cycling, on my PC, anywhere I want, with no restrictions.

I could, if I wanted to, download the same music illegally for free, but it's actually now more effort so I don't bother.

At the moment, it is more cost effective and easier to download (illegally) movies, particularly when there is very little that is really worth the cost of a DVD.

Why doesn't the film industry realise this and provide cheap downloads (reduced quality/functionality - who really wants all the special features on a DVD anyway). Surely they are also likely to win back customers and revenue as well as some much needed support and good will."

Personally I think I would feel pretty ashamed if I was one of the executives working for any of the music or film companies concerned; chasing down average people, dragging them through court, turning them into criminals and all really because I can't get a decent business model in place and I'm too greedy and think that everyone should pay for the rubbish that I'm producing at the price I want to charge.

The image of fat, lethargic, unimaginative, and above all greedy, executives sat around living off the efforts of others springs to mind. Okay, I know not everyone in the industry is going to be like this but that's what the rest of us are going to think.

A related point: I think there are two types of 'piracy':
  1. Where you copy/steal in order to make a direct profit, i.e. I make copies of a film and then try and sell them
  2. I copy/download something for my own use, making no actual money - only saving myself the cost of buying a legal version
Everyone has their own moral line and to me, point one is clearly 'wrong' but point two seems more like recording a program off the TV or those mix tapes people use to make of the top 40 music charts.

[ Aside: How do the film industry view my watching a film I've recorded from TV? Illegal? No, they might want it to be but it isn't! Lost revenue? Definitely! So stop whinging and setup someting that would have let me download it at a small cost BEFORE it got to TV! ]

For a second let me mention something else: Churches. I'm not a religious person BUT I have, on many occasions, wandered into catherdrals and churches because I appreciate the architecture (I was brain-washed as a child by my Dad who likes the same thing and is equally non-religious).

I will happily give a donation to any church/catherdral I visit, I think that's only right and it also, in my mind, helps to keep them there to be seen again. What I won't do is pay an entrance fee to get into such a building. I think that is going too far and is presumptuous on the part of the church/catherdral concerned - I also often suspect that what is inside is not worth seeing if they charge you on the way in!

There was a point to that little detour, and that was to illustrate that people will happily pay for things that they don't necassarily have to. There are lots of things you can do/have/see for free but people still pay, even when they maybe can't really afford to, they just feel it's right. I'm not necassarily suggesting the music/film industry setup a collection tin but I think they need to do some serious PR and sort out there image and services/products such that people are willing to pay, even when there is the free download option.

Gravitational effect on fat distribution

I haven't been keeping up with the blog posts so I've not really been able to write down all the things I've been going through and the bizarre thoughts and feelings that I've been experiencing. As ever things have been a bit of a roller-coaster ride but that is fairly normal under the circumstances.

I've been trying to sort out how I look recently, getting better make-up (my skin type has changed a bit and I guess I needed a different shade of foundation also), wearing the right bra, and trying to use the clothes that I have as well as supplementing these with items that make complete outfits.

Essentially I think I'm trying to learn, experiement and above all be realistic about life and get things sorted out to move forward (I've also been trying to do the same with my finances and flat and ... well, now I come to think of it, everything).

As part of that I decided to try and make myself look a bit, well, I was going to say 'glam' but I guess I was aiming for 'sexy' or more realisticly 'womanly'. Also managed to buy a remote control for my camera (makes it easier to take pics of yourself!) and wanted to try that out. Below is the results of my efforts:

There are a few other pics that came out quite well but could maybe do with a bit of selective cropping. I think I also need an editing tool that makes me smile in pictures because I very rarely do! Hmmm, in fact I think my pics go from one extreme to another; no smiling or laughing out loud!

I should point out that I took about an hour to do the make-up, and took about 100 shots so clearly I'm not going to be trying to look like this every day!

Anyway, this brings me to my new theory: "the graviational effects on fat distribution", also known as "why have I got a fat bum".

I have noticed over the recent months that I do have quite a big bum. It did probably start off on the fairly large size and hormones have probably taken their toll but I never really saw this as much of a problem before. However yesterday I wore a skirt that I usually wear for work and it seemed a little tight in the bum area, not overly so but it did start me thinking.

So today my thoughts wandered back to this, erm, problem and it occurred to me that I'm clearly in the wrong kind of job to avoid having a big bum given that I spend so much time sat on mine and there must be some mechanical effects there based on the weight of my body being supported by my posterior! It also occurred to me that all the fat must be getting pulled by gravity towards my bum as well!

In fact, if it's not careful it's going to get it's own gravity and that could start a chain reaction which woul ultimately lead to me disappearing into a singularity created by an overly J-Lo'ed bottom. Or possibly I'm just getting carried away here lol

Lot less bother with a Hover(craft)

I'm really behind with all the blog stuff, I promise I will try and catch up!

Anyway, a few weekends ago my son and I went to see some hovercraft racing! A friend of mine from my home town has been into hovercraft for as long as I can remember and is often racing near where I live. We haven't been in touch for a while, I think the last conversation was probably around the same time last year when B and I were separating, so I obviously had to explain the recent, erm, changes.

Thankfully that conversation went very well, and I think myself very lucky again to have such understanding and supportive friends.

So, the hovercraft racing: it was FAB! In all the time I've known my friend I have never once seen him racing or the hovercraft he's built.
It was a fantastic day out - got to take LOTS of pictures of the hovercraft, even got some good ones where there were bumps or the hovercraft tipped up in the wind. Got some really good pics of my son and my friends kids playing on the hovercraft and with bubbles! I think that is definitely a case of "one extreme to another" - several thousand pounds of hovercraft we only as entertaining as 30p's worth of bubbles!

Now, just need to actually have a go on a hovercraft at some point! lol