The 2017 Roast Toast

So this is it. The beginning of a new year. To some that would probably be a sigh of relief, because let’s be honest 2016 wasn’t exactly the cliché answer to the hopes of “better than 2015” or “the best year ever!” globally.

We’ve lost a good few famous people this year (owing to the baby boomer generation starting to reach and exceed the general life expectancy) arguably half of the UK were disappointed with the Referendum result on our EU membership and the populous of the US who didn’t vote for Donald Trump with the result of the election for the next president over there. We’ve also been exposed to more news on the Middle Eastern conflicts, particularly with #Aleppo making a trend on Twitter as well as some of the scarier demonstrations of the so called Islamic State on the world.

But it wasn’t all bad! There were many good that occurred too. For those that supported Trump and Brexit, congratulations on the history defining moments. For Children in Need, Revelmode, Project For Awesome and many more, congratulations on raising phenomenal amounts of money for various charities to help those around the world that need that extra bit of support right now. Congratulations to Felix Kjellberg (aka Pewdiepie) for continuing to define history for the internet’s largest video platform by reaching and surpassing 50 Million Subscribers to your content (51,766,646 at the time of writing) and maintaining the most subscribed individual on ‘popular’ social media at the moment (feel free to correct me otherwise).

I feel proud of my own achievements this year, from coordinating my first place to live outside of work, relationships & university accommodation from start to finish (with continued thanks to my wonderful parents and their amazing partners for the kind help in getting set up) to getting back onto the internet and setting up a place to share content with you all again (as well as setting the crazy task of trying to run 4 regular blogs on different topics!), to participating in providing live sound support and mixing advice for our largest filmed multimedia project to rebuild part of our Mandatory training for staff using our in house designed “Living the Values” series of videos with help from professional actors and scriptwriters, to setting up, compiling and running the largest live multimedia project we’ve done to date for Lancashire Teaching Hospitals we | awards 2016 and working with our partners at Pure AV to help put on a great show for our Workforce and Education Directorate, to finishing and now polishing up my completely overhauled and now blended training programme for AV compliance within the Health Academy (that may only expand further in scope and levels), to sitting here right now and writing out this essay of a post and hoping it doesn’t sound totally lame for and end of year post (that ironically is published the day after).

But that’s just me.

I sincerely hope that whatever your plans are tonight be it partying with friends, family, the TV or total strangers, or indeed just going to bed and waking up in the new year, I really hope you have a wonderful evening and I wish you all… (not the best, cause many of us said that last year and that didn’t go so well!) … a prosperous and productive new year with opportunity, hope and happiness and that you can look back on 2016 with the same or greater pride that despite all that has happened over the last 12 months you made your mark on the world and wrote some history of your own.

Here’s to 2017, I’ll see you on the other side


The Decembertide Roast 2016

Well,  we’ve finally made it here after a long and challenging year. The first Decembertide Roast and it’s on a big day itself!

Speaking of big,  looking back on the year we’ve certainly had big events occur both in real life and online affecting people across the world and challenging thinking for the future ahead.

With all this in the back of my mind,  I’m thankful this December time for one constant in my life that hasn’t changed –  family. We all have ‘family’  in different forms,  be it the one we’re born into,  the one were fostered or adopted into, our closest friends we can call brothers and sisters,  our fraternal or sororal relations or even our respective religious congregations.

Whilst my biological family is spread out all over the country,  Christmas is a time when we all get in touch and come together to wish season’s greetings to each other and to eat and drink and laugh too much.  It’s also a good excuse for a quick catch up to find out how everybody is doing on the occasion we’ve not spoken in a while.

For friendship,  Christmas can also be a good time with many of us in different places since leaving school and taking advantage of either my birthday on the summer and almost certainly my oldest friend Richard Dooley‘s birthday to enjoy a Christmas catch up.

When you look towards the other large  holiday that begins from today (thanks for the correction!), Hanukkah and Kwanzaa that begins tomorrow,  the theme of family is also crucial,  with celebrations happening daily that should always be experienced with the ones we love.

I realise though that not everybody has the same privilege of this (for sake of a better term)  ‘on tap’ and at this time of year,  we should always extend the hand of friendship.

If you have close family and friends you can keep in touch with,  regardless of your religious or non religious holiday, this time of the year is about spending it with them in some capacity, be it just a phone call, a Skype session or inviting them around for Christmas day (or just tea or you prefer). It’s often easy to forget,  particularly in our high speed 24 hour modern lifestyles and worth social media taking centre stage is easy to make an excuse that you’ll tag them in a post and say Happy Hanukkah/Christmas/Other holiday  and thinking that’ll do or just asking “Habari gani? ” and hoping somebody will reply to your tweet.  But as the priest in my mother and her partner’s Catholic Church said this morning in the Christmas Day sermon,  we sometimes need to simply stop to appreciate and to reflect.

Those we call our family are out closest connections. These are the people who will love you unconditionally and will morally  be the people that are always be there when nobody else is, so perhaps use this time of year to celebrate and cultivate those connections.

If you know somebody who might be spending Christmas alone this year,  why not invite them around for a bit. If you’re not quite comfortable inviting them into your home, then meet somewhere neutral like a café or a park. I’ve done part of Christmas alone before and whilst you get that Home Alone feeling for the morning, it really does suck later on. Nobody should have to deal with it if they didn’t choose to.

If you wish you could take an alternative route and  volunteer over Christmas and help make a complete stranger’s Christmas. Organisations and groups such as soup kitchens,  shelters The Salvation Army and religious organisations will all be out working on the big day and over the period to help those in need.  You never know you might just help yourself with that fuzzy feeling too.

Whatever your plans this year,  I really hope everybody has a wonderful and peaceful time this year full of love laughter cheer and celebration.

So Merry Christmas,  Xmas and  Happy Hanukkah and Habari gani for tomorrow, Seasons Greetings to all who’s celebrations I’m yet to learn of  and I wish you all a splendid Decembertide.


Wrapping Up

In the final week before Christmas, I’ve finally decided to make an effort to make my flat look a little bit festive in the downstairs area (despite not really getting visitors nor actually being here for Christmas itself), write cards, and do my shopping for family gifts. It’s also the time for me to actually put my plans into action so I can travel across the country and see said people over the holidays.

Online-wise, preparations are underway to write up as much content for those of you who  read the blogs  whilst I’m on the move and future planning for projects and content in the new year – more of which I’ll announce soon.

For many of you I’m sure it’ll be much of the same craziness  and more – getting those last few presents wrapped, ensuring you know where you’re going or what time people will be arriving on the big day –  who to phone and who will call you. Some of you might even be doing Christmas,  Hanukkah,  Kwanzaa or [insert your celebration here]  online with family and friends across the world.

Whatever your plans,  it’s important not to lose sight of it all. Yes, the weather seems to be taking its toll,  your Menorah seems to be mysteriously a candle short,  the 200 lamp tree lights went out thanks to a mystery fitting  and despite trekking out and braving the crowds  you’re panicking because your son or daughter has changed their mind again about something they want Santa to bring. The important thing is ensuring you have your time with your family,  friends and significant others and if you’re religiously or culturally aligned,  you remember the values and cultures of this December season.

Also once everyone inevitably decides to drop into a food coma,  drunken stupor or just melt into watching the specials on TV ,  or you’re bored of spinning the dreidel,  don’t forget to sign on next week as I will be posting a Christmas Roast. Don’t worry,  it won’t be (too much)  of a Queen’s speech or Alternative  Christmas Message,  but just a more festive post and of course a follow up on New Year’s Day.

For now I wish you a all a Merry Christmas (or  Xmas is you prefer),  Happy Hanukkah for those celebrating from the 26th onwards and for those celebrating Kwanzaa  (also from the 26th onwards),  “Habari gani?” To the rest of you celebrating smaller celebrations I’m yet to learn of,  or perhaps something a little more personal this December,  Seasons Greetings to you, and I’ll speak to you all again soon.


Projects of Awesome

Does it remind you of something?

This last month has been a pretty incredible one for giving.  I know charity events happen all the year round with some occurring monthly,  but there’s something about this time of year that makes it feel really special.  I’m not sure whether it’s just the historical values of events and telethons,  but this year has been really special for it.

For us in the UK,  it was the BBC’s first Children in Need last month  without Terry Wogan and whilst the content and operations  of this year’s show divided opinion online and I’m sure offline too, I won’t deny that the tributes were moving to a man who gave it his all since day 1 and the new award given is a great lasting tribute  in honour and memory of the attitude and drive he gave to the cause. We also had bonfire night in early November with many events around the UK raising money through these events to go to charities too.

In the last month I was fortunate to have time to see the YouTube based  charity  livestream by YouTuber Markiplier and co for the US based support platform Crisis Text Line which raised over US $110k,  as well seeing as a large portion of the network he’s under,  Revelmode, who held a stream including him and fellow network YouTubers Pewdiepie,  Emma Blackery and Jacksepiticeye raising over  $1.3m for the charity (RED) whom are dedicated to funding research in the fight to end AIDS and dropping on when I  could on the massive 48hr livestream by John and Hank Green and co,  better known by their YouTube name ‘vlogbrothers’ and  famous  Project For Awesome, which I had previously heard of years ago,  big only found out what it actually was last year and got the opportunity to catch it a couple of hours in onwards this year.  This project raised over $2m this year (at the time of writing) in its 10th anniversary,  most of which will go to user submitted and voted for charities in grants for the top voted ones (the remainder going to their nominated partners for the year) in the joint fight to help end “World Suck”.

I also know they’ll be many more events coming particularly with many carol services being charity oriented as well as well as the work of organisations such as the Salvation Army amongst many others  giving up their time to help those in need this Christmas not to feel alone or to suffer in silence.
With events like these, it’s hard to ignore in times like these that amongst all the hate and uncertainty many of us are facing there us still humanity out there working hard to keep people alive and either well or on the way to being so and it gives us hope that,  as Albus Dumbledore would put it that,  “Happiness can be found,  even in the darkest of times, if one only remembers to turn on the light”.

Happy Sunday  everyone.


So, for the last two weeks my work life has been pretty hectic in the run up to our annual directorate awards, the contents of which are described in the Friday Mike Project blog published earlier on and will be continued on Wednesday.

After working on each day, I left work still feeling buzzed and ready to continue on (mainly to try and finish the vast workload of the awards, partly slowed with the responsibilities of the rest of my role as well as hoping to try and catch up with the tasks falling behind (2 of which will have to be completed tomorrow or Tuesday). Following the advice of my line manager however I tried to disengage, which was wise as in doing so I realised how tired I felt after a hard day’s work.

This weekend I also tried to take time for myself post awards (which is partly why this post is late as was the FMP one due yesterday) as physically and mentally I crashed around 2am yesterday morning after being on the go for 20 hours and busy all week.

Whilst I really enjoy the events we put on each year, I’ve learned over time how it’s important to take time to take a break. Even if it’s just for a few minutes to a few days depending on how long you’ve been going for it. If you don’t, eventually your body will do it for you (eg: You crash or brownout/burnout) and will remain ‘offline’ until you’re in a position to go for it again.

With good health and well-being you may over time be able to increase your limit, but it’s important to learn where your limit is and despite the warning to not overdo it, I think it’s important for you to do it once in your life (which you inevitably will when you discover said limit) so you learn from it. I wouldn’t recommend doing it deliberately due to what will be an unexpected consequence, but to know when it happens and to look after yourself so you know how to prevent it in the future.

I know it sounds cliché, but my advice this week is the same thing my parents tell me on an annoyingly regular basis – take care of yourself (because then, your body will take care of you).

Have a good week everyone,