A Rental Lament

I miss Blockbuster Video.

Time was, you wanted to watch a movie, you went down your local Blockbuster, headed for the New Releases section, and saw if there was anything you wanted to watch? Oh, and you could be fairly certain that, if a movie was out on DVD, it’d be available to rent. Alas, no more.

I just spent ages trawling around the internet trying to find a number of movies to rent, all to no avail. Oh you could buy them alright, no doubt about that, but as for renting, forget about it!

And we’re not talking all new movies either. “Wrath of the Titans”, “White House Down”, “Avengers Assemble”, “Star Trek Into Darkness”; all are available to buy on Amazon Instant Video or iTunes, but not to rent.

I just don’t get it? Why would the studios restrict access to their product like that? It makes no sense. Do they think in desperation that I’m going to buy it instead? Because I just have to watch it NOW!

The thing is, I’m not so into these movies that I want to see them more than once. I mean I’ll pay £3:50 to give them a go, but I’m certainly not going to pay £5-£15 to own them. That’s just not gonna happen. I do want to watch them, but not that much.

No wonder people are turning to file sharing and illegal downloading to see and hear things they can’t get elsewhere. You set the price too high and people will always find a way around it.

Not that I’m going to do that. I’m too lazy. I’ll probably just watch something I already own (y’know, the good movies that do stand up to more than one viewing), or I’ll just stick the TV on and see what’s on. It’s coming up to 9 o’clock, something decent must be about to start.

As for my hard earned cash, that’ll stay in my pocket. Congratulations Warner Bros, Universal, Paramount; you just lost out on some revenue.

Preparations And Considerations

16 days to go, and its all starting to feel a bit more real now.

I’m starting to book things. Flights to and from Munich. Shuttle transfer to the Ashram in Austria (crazy to fly to Germany to get to Austria, but there you go!). I’ve got a guy getting together a cost/itinerary for me for the round the world leg of the trip. I couldn’t give him all the details, as I don’t know them myself, but I gave him what I’ve got so far… (which is this)

planning

Everything up to the 26th of November is booked. Everything from then until the start of next year is planned, but not booked. And after the new year who knows? It’s all still a bit up in the air!

There’s a lot to think about when it comes to a trip like this. I mean you’ve got the obvious stuff – flights, accommodation, trips, etc. – but there’s plenty of other bits and bobs that are just as important but don’t spring immediately to mind.

Like getting online.

“Ha,” I hear you say, “Internet cafes!”

Well, yes, you’re right. But what I mean is the logistics of maintaining an online presence, like a blog, without carting around a laptop or external hard drive everywhere you go. I’ve been looking into it and the answer is simple… The Cloud.

little fluffy clouds

Online data storage is the way to go (just ’til you get back home anyway). I’ve already got a Dropbox account (3GB of free storage). Now that might be enough to keep me going, but I plan on taking a lot of pictures, so what else? Well, Flickr not withstanding (I’ll be uploading to there as usual, but I’m talking back-ups here), did you know you get 7GB of free online storage with Hotmail’s SkyDrive feature.

That’s right, sign up for a free e-mail account and get 7GB of online storage FREE! And even better, it’s backed up Microsoft Office, so if you store documents on there you can update them online, no muss, no fuss. I’ve already put some stuff on there to help me log in to my many online accounts that my computer automatically logs into at home (as I’ve forgotten all the passwords, lol). In fact I spent a good few hours the other day checking and changing all my logins just so I’d know what they all were.

I’ll also be storing flight and travel information on there too, as well as scans of my passport, visas, etc. just in case they go awol. No more crumpled, damp, degrading photocopies in the bottom of your backpack (though I’ll have those with me too) now everything you need can be backed up online and kept handy. I’m telling you, The Cloud is an absolute God-send.

But that’s just one aspect of it all. What about before I go away?

The past few weeks I’ve been eyeing up everything in my flat deciding what I need, what gets packed, and what goes in the bin. Most of it’s fairly straight forward. But then I thought the other day, what about the food?

a vast array of 'meats' and 'cheeses'

I mean perishables, ok, they get eaten or go in the bin. But is it ok to pack and store spices? Or do storage companies frown on that? Will I have to get loads of sealed plastic containers to put them in? And will that work? I’m telling you, it’s the details that do your head in. All I know is, I’m not giving up my spices without a fight!

And your plants. Who gets your plants? What do you do with your bike, leave it down here or take it with your car up to your brother’s place? There’s just so much to consider.

it's boring waiting for the sun to come out

Actually, I’m being a bit of a drama queen, lol. I’ve got it more or less figures out. Car, bike and computer go ‘oop norf’. Everything packable that’s not junk goes into storage. Everything in storage that’s not furniture goes in boxes, so if I’m overseas and I have to arrange to get it all moved and shipped it’s good to go. Likewise the car papers go with the car, so if I decide not to come back it’s all there ready to be sold.

Yup, you heard me, I might not come back!

I don’t know where all this is going to lead, but chances are once I leave London I won’t come back to live here again. And once I leave the UK, provided there’s things I want to do, I might not come back here to live again either. Anything could happen, so that’s what I’m planning for; anything and everything.

And finally, as a little aside, I’ve started another blog to detail my travels. It’s called the Yoga Bum but don’t go rushing over there just yet as it’s pretty empty (though if you’re interested you can go check out What a Yoga Bum is?).

And in fact it’s existence shouldn’t make any difference to you guys over here, as I’ll be re-posting anything I put on there here on My Brand New Life. It’s just a little yoga/travel based thing for the more ‘yogic’ (ie: innocent) of my friends to keep up with what I’m doing. And whereas there I have to be all polite and on topic, here I can write about all that and still post random stuff I find off t’inernet, come up with new recipes for you to try, post silly pics of silly things, cheeky vids of naughty things, and get away with saying words like ‘bollocks’ and ‘shlong’ and ‘boobs’. 😆

So you guys are getting the best of both worlds! How lucky are you?

(Answer: Very!) 😉

Internet Treasures

One of the best things about t’internet is the trove of treasures it can offer up to you. No longer are we limited to what we find geographically, or even what someone else has deemed worthy of distribution, anyone can take anything they create and make it available to the world in a host of different ways.

And I love it! Rather than buying some generic piece of tat that will languish on a shelf for years to come, you can buy some lovingly crafted work of art that just happens to be a CD, a cookbook, or a simple set of postcards.

In my ever growing collection I have a lovely little hand-made ‘Snickety-Snack’ Cookbook from Kamutflake Girl, an album of retro inspired dance tunes called 3 Flavours of 8 Bit by Dainumo, Jeesh & P SUS, some prints I won from the very talented Rakkadeer, and now the latest addition to my collection, a beautiful book of poetry, a CD of music, and a collection of postcards on the theme of The Perpetual Picnic by the gorgeous Samantha Lamb.

internet treasures

I was so excited to get this in the post. Been a fan of Sam Lamb’s work for ages. Her simple style of work belies a cunning eye for the beautiful and serene. And her attention to the details of a happy life give her pictures and poetry an optimistic nostalgia.

Sorry, I know that’s a bizarre mish-mash of adjectives, but like I say I’m quite charmed by the stuff she does. And Sam really walks the walk when it comes to living a lifestyle too. On her farm in Oklahoma she starts every day with a picnic, taking the time each morning to really appreciate the day. And she always has a camera to hand to document her adventures, so that she can post them on her blog and share them with the world. It’s the kind of thing that inspires me to pursue the life I want for myself, and to do it the way I think it should be done, as that certainly seems the path to true happiness.

It’s not about being ‘professional’, or doing ‘the right thing’, but rather about doing what you enjoy, and making something you love. And if that means life (and what you make) ends up a little rough around the edges, well all the better! Sometimes the crusty bits are the ones with the most flavour. 😉

Change the world $25 at a time

I’ve been a member of an online micro loan community called Kiva for a while now. The idea is very simple: Entrepreneurs worldwide, who may not have access to ‘normal’ modes of funding, ask for a loan on Kiva.org. Those who want to help out can lend them all or just part of the loan (minimum $25). They invest the money, reap the benefits, then repay the loan you made in full, leaving you with your original stake which you can then re-invest.

I’ve got $75 in there at the moment (soon to be $100) which I have been able to use to help 7 small businesses all over the world. 4 of them have paid me back in full. The other 3, my most recent loans, are in the process of paying me back. It’s quick and easy to do, there’s no hidden costs, and they’ve got a 98.95% repayment rate, which is better than any high street bank. That’s because the people they help are just like you and me. All they want is a chance to make their lives better.

If you need any more inspiration watch this TED video from Kiva’s co-founder Jessica Jackley. It’s a very warm and touching presentation that I found incredibly moving.

Please give some serious consideration to investing $25 and maybe changing someone’s life. It’s a meal to us, but it could be a new beginning for them. Thank you.

Week 40

Hello Peops.

Been a while. Well, probably not, but it feels like it anyway. Had a short break from t’internet after the 30 Days thing and the moustache thing. Just needed a bit of time off. Plus was doing 2 weeks of night shifts so my brain no function too good either.

Got a week off work next week. Gonna spend some time teaching, and some time looking at cars, but mostly I want to get on with the new writing project I’ve been working on, so I’ve decided to take a short online hiatus (like I did earlier in the year).

So, no e-mail, no Flickr, no blogging, no games. I’ll still be using the computer (not planning on writing long hand y’know, I’m not a Luddite!), and watching the odd DVD (after work), but outside of that I’ll be somewhat incommunicado.

So catch you next week. For now let me just point you at this clip from the Big Bang Theory (no embeds allowed, boo!) for all you vegans out there who can take a joke.

Hey, if you can’t laugh at yourself… 😉

Week 20: In which our hero celebrates an anniversary

peace tree

I haven’t managed to do much this week. Night shifts once again, plus I’ve had no money. So all I’ve done really is sleep, and read, and be annoyed that I’ve missed out on all this glorious sunshine. But anyway…

I realised on Sunday night that it had been five years to the day that I’d given up smoking. It happened as I lay in bed one night. I’d just been reading Gandhi’s autobiography, and a part of it kept going through my mind. He said that if you can’t make a solemn vow to give something up you don’t really want to give it up. Now Gandhi knew a thing or two about self denial, and I really did want to give up smoking, but I didn’t want to make a solemn vow as I knew I’d break it. But then again that’s the point of a solemn vow, you make it so you won’t break it.

This debate went on in my head for quite a while until finally I’d had enough. In my head I swore upon the Universe that I would never touch tobacco again, and the strangest thing happened, I physically felt the world change! Quite literally, it was as if everything just shifted slightly, or maybe it was just me. I wish I could explain it better than that, but I can’t. All I know is since then I have only been in contact with tobacco three times, and them only because of other people. I will never smoke again, ever, and I know that for a fact.

mini zen garden

Still off the drink too. Only been a couple of weeks (18 days) but I’m doing ok without it. Even passed one hell of a test on Thursday night. We were in the pub after Tai Chi when they were cleaning out the pipes, and they offered us the run off to drink. Basically, 4 pitchers of free booze, one each of lager, bitter, cider and Guinness. And I had a night shift the next day so I could have drank it all and slept ’til noon. Oh the irony! But, I resisted. Actually, it wasn’t as hard to do as you’d expect. I’m pretty much over drinking for now. The experience a couple of weeks ago has put me off. No idea if I’ll go back to it or not. I’m looking at doing a month without, then I’ll go from there. Who knows, that could be it for me. We’ll see how it goes.

mac cover

I’m going to take a break from online life for a while. Just a week. Want to see if I’ve forgotten how to entertain myself. See you in 7 days.