Big shows and the introverted.

So this last weekend was VapeJam, the first trade style expo in the UK for electronic cigarettes.  I had considered going but decided in the end to save my energy and cash for good ole VapeFestUK.  If I want to find about about new stuff the internet is more than accomodating in that regard, I want to meet the people mainly.

So I have now been reading about peoples experience of the event and some of the videos that are slowly appearing.  I am actually really glad I decided not to go.  I do not do great in large crowds, but it would have been especially bad with the background of thumping generic crap music and “sales bunnies” running around the place.  Yup this is my issue, the type of thing that I deal with every day and while what I say here will annoy some, tough – it’s my opinion.  For those that will say its just sour grapes, fine if that’s what you think you’re entitled to it but don’t expect anyone to come to you for any deeply thought opinions.

I just hate that type of over the top, over hyped promotion of products.  I have been to multiple trade shows over my life and have noted the slow creep to this brash over the top USA style event here in the UK.  In fact promoting stuff that way will have the opposite effect on me and probably make me never want to ever buy anything from you at any future time.  If your product is as good as your loud, annoying promotion claims – you don’t need the brash promotional stunting (my personal experience being the louder and more in your face the promotion is, the worse the product is and they’re trying to make up ground by being loud).  Used to be you could go to a show and have a reasonably peaceful look around at the products without all the in your face idiocy (well except maybe car shows).  I love meeting the people, and would no doubt have had a great time meeting folks I hadn’t met in person before.  This may even have counteracted some of the negativity I would have built up.

What I find sad is this now seems to be the standard for big promotion.  Even sadder are the crowds who lap it up and are just there to get as much free stuff as they can and you know a great deal of them couldn’t give a shit about the future of electronic cigarettes as long as they get more free stuff than everybody else.

I don’t begrudge people getting free promotional stuff, but for that to be the sole reason for going to an event strikes me as incredibly shallow and pointless.  I don’t measure how good a time I’ve had by the amount of free product I get (you can’t take it with you, the old saying goes and this includes free shit folks).  I judge it on the experiences I’ve had and sorry to say this will put me off going to any expo type show any time in the future.  That is a quite tragic conclusion for me as I do like learning about new devices and the like, but hey it was mostly liquids which hold very little interest for me since I DIY nearly everything I vape.  That’s another issue, we need more device manufacturers turning up, liquids are ten a penny.

That’s just me, I am not a hugely outgoing person.  If you do live for such hedonistic bullshit feel free to go – I think you have a huge hole in your life you’re never gonna fill, but hey at least you got the latest super liquid (that will stay super until the hype wears off usually) for nothing and can brag about it all over social media.  Oh and for those now selling all the free stuff you accumulated, you’re even worse.  I count you among some of the lowest forms of life, right down there with failed aeronautical engineers.

Then of course there was the attendance for some of the talks about the TPD and advocacy and it will come as no surprise that the type of pondlife that solely loves living their life based on free shit had no interest at all in discovering about the possible future (or lack thereof) of the industry.  One of my personal mottos learned through life is “People are stupid, individuals may prove themselves smart.” and vapers fit that just like everyone else.

The great majority of vapers still have no idea, or are deliberately ignoring, the problems facing us.  At least the event made an effort to represent advocacy despite some in vaping society seem to think advocacy shouldn’t be at any event other than one designed for it.  Advocacy needs to be shouted at every event, at least then maybe a tiny group of extra vapers might become aware and help out in some small way.

To clarify, I am overall glad such events exist for the consumer whores to attend, but they hold very little personal interest to me.  So I am an introvert, don’t try and sell me stuff with brashness – all you do is make me want to rant (if you’ve read this far I will remind you this is my opinion after not going, imagine if I’d actually gone).

Feel free to comment, you never know I might even publish some of them. . .

So there’s been an election.

Righty ho, don’t normally do general politics but here we go.

The UK has voted.  It is apparent that the main traditional parties are not doing very well (yes even the smug Tories).  In my home the SNP have basically taken full control at the expense of Labour and Liberals.  In England the Tories have taken up most of the advantage with the Liberals losing heavily and Labour looking like a wounded dog.  Wales is Wales as far as I can see but unlike Scotland their nationalist have made some gains but not much.  Northern Ireland has just been doing its usual swapping votes between parties.  The two Vapers In Power candidates got some votes but did what they out to do and try and raise e cig awareness, thanks guys.

What does it all mean ?

Well there is the problem, it means we have the Tories fully in charge this time out and Scotland now looks like a problem entity.  I’m Scottish and would love Scotland to be independent but not right now with the way the world is as I don’t feel it would work out very well.  The Tories are going to have an In/Out referendum on Europe which may lead to an even bigger split since Scotland definitely wants to be in the EU.

The Liberals need to quickly regroup and recover as currently there isn’t a centerist party to speak of to balance out the others.  If people thought austerity was bad before they are in for a hell of a shock coming up. The Tories may still let Scotland go since it makes no difference to them now at all, the oil money is almost gone and we have nothing else they want.  Scotland free might sound good, and I wish it were, but the numbers do not stack up and it would mean decades of problems for Scotland.

The results that have cheered me up slightly.  Farage failed, McVey got booted and Galloway will be appearing speaking tripe at another by election soon (guessing but its his pattern).

So to summarise, we’re screwed.  The party for the rich is fully in control and us poor plebs are gonna be ground into the dirt to pay for the rich to be richer.

Personally with my health problems I am not looking forward to this parliament as the new government will no doubt find some new way to make me penniless, homeless and more ill.

Can’t even bring myself to do any Gadding. . .

Desk Play.

Ok for some time I have lived in the same place.
Within this place there has always been a built in desk.
I have made minor alterations to it over the years but I have never found it to be the most comfortable work area.
I then found out there was probably a simple explanation for this, the desk was higher than traditional heights by about 8cm. Many will ask why this is an issue, or indeed say I should just adjust my chair height. All that sounds reasonable but I use my computer a fair bit, and the chair I have is higher than standard already because I have stupidly long legs.
Having figured this out and also having had an idea about the layout of my work area I decided to do something about this.

Here is the desk in question stripped of its usual content.

. . . this is the stuff I removed from the desk area.11148719_10153304770271151_4939050244766298759_n

First stage was to remove the desktop and adjust the height of its supports which was easy enough.

Then I also said I’d decided to do a little redesign to make things more comfortable and add to the available desk space. There is a small area next to the desk which I couldn’t really use for anything much and wasted space gets right on my nerves. To rectify this I decided to add another area of desk to the left of the existing one. To do this I had to take the saw to the original desk and add support for the new part.

Once done (okay not fully done still need to add a second support leg which will support the centre of the new part). I then had to start getting all my equipment back in place which in some ways was a much bigger job then the desk alterations.

So after a few hours of messing around I now have a work area I am more happy with. It is not finished, as I said another leg needs made and I will no doubt fiddle with the position of some of the tech. Oh and also I shall be getting a slidey keyboard tray for the desk just to make things super comfy.

Gad On folks !

Spruce up time.

Okay so haven’t been around my own website properly for a year.

While I have been not looking after it things have changed.
So links and content will have to be tinkered with to make sure it all works properly again.

Ah well, it is my choice to have this site after all.

Gad On !

So why the year long gap ?

Evidently I’m not dead so we can rule that one out at least.
What has caused the huge gap in my own webspace then ?
Well life really, that thing that messes you up but eventually does go away putting you into the dead category.

Now those who have followed me here and perhaps in my other net abodes will know I have just a few little health issues. I may have newer folks though who don’t know me so well so I shall summarise forthwith.
In 2008 I began suffering from quite acute insomnia which then got further diagnosed as depression. I had to make drastic changes to my life and dropped out of work/study because I was having memory and concentration issues.
Now then for those not familiar with how the UK social care system works I can say I was not completely destitute but instead claimed sickness benefits. This is where the roller-coaster really started to take hold. Due to the recession as well as a new government which had decided the poorest, most vulnerable in the UK needed to be the ones to take the fall for the rich bankers and hedge fund managers messing up the world, the benefits system is not what it used to be. This meant I had to spend increasing amounts of time proving I was ill or the money would stop.

Indeed at one point I was declared fit for work by their “experts” despite me having begun to be treated by a mental health team including psychiatric and neurological testing. This meant I was moved onto job seekers allowance which is only given when you can prove you are looking for work.
Many might not be worried by this and indeed approve that I was being transitioned back towards working. However since the testing had revealed I had a frontal lobe atrophy as well as quite serious memory problems I was less than keen. Also by this time my depression itself wasn’t getting worse but the insomnia was still kicking me around and I had developed quite bad social anxiety. So to sum up despite being depressed, not being to handle social interaction and having a memory that could be described as a colander at best – the Department for Work and Pensions and it’s pet medical “experts” ATOS didn’t want to cut me any slack believing I would be able to work.

So I began having to do searches for a job within prescribed guidelines. As you may know the job market has been extremely bad, so unsurprisingly employers were not too interested in people with mental health issues and a big gap in their work history. After six months of searching with no job I was referred to a company that would apparently help me find a suitable job. This is the other joke in the system, the person dealing with my case had no training in mental health and it was basically a system designed to drive you straight at the first job available be it within your capability or experience area or not.

After a few months of this I did finally get a job interview and was retained in a care home as a cleaner. The staff and patients were friendly enough and I did try as hard as I could, I was raised to do work if you’re being paid to and do it as well as you can. So as you can imagine my particular health issues were quite problematic even to what should be a simple job. Memory is a very useful thing, when you have trouble learning every-ones name, the tasks you are supposed to do or indeed which tasks you’ve already done work becomes very stressful. On top of that remember I wasn’t sleeping properly and was getting worked up because of my social anxiety.

I lasted in that job for five months and was eventually “let go” from my trial period due to too many sick days ostensibly. The stress caused my stomach to go haywire, yes I have overly strong stomach acid which I have to take meds for as well so I missed a couple of days due to that while I rebalanced my dosage. I got a flu so couldn’t go to work while I had that (despite what many people say, if you’re sick with something like flu you should never go to work to spread it around). The final period of illness from work was a slip in the bathroom which wrenched my knee causing me to pull a ligament – again walking is kind of a requirement for wandering about cleaning.

Of course that was just the physical illness components of my short career in a care home, now we shall discuss what my mental health got up to. As I said I really struggled to even learn the job. I have fortunately become reasonably skilled at talking to people without having to use names – fortunate since I couldn’t remember most of them. Social anxiety also started giving me a right old kicking. After a couple of months at that job I would find myself nearly every working day crying as I walked to work and crying on the way home again. At several times I also cried during working hours as stressful incidents happened and what little control I had slipped away. Ah, but I was fit for work so what does it matter to your government that you’re slowly heading for a mental break.

Fortunately the manager of the home was quite well versed with depression and it’s problems so was quite sympathetic, hence the being dropped for too many sick days rather than me basically having to quit before I fell apart completely again like I did in 2008. This is important since the lovely rules about out of work benefits mean if I had left the job they could have refused to give me any benefits money for a while as punishment for leaving a job. So since I had been declared fit for work previously I assumed I would reapply and get back onto job seekers allowance. Again I was fortunate as the adviser I liaised with at the job centre was a disability type adviser and she told me that I could reapply for sickness benefits since it had been a long enough gap since my last time on it.

So it was back to proving I was sick to people who really don’t care and just think of it as a numbers game. In the modern benefits system you are not a human being any more, merely a statistic that needs shuffling round the reports. Eventually I got my appointment to be assessed by that charming bunch ATOS again and duly got found fit for work again despite still being no better off than I’d been before. Indeed in some ways I was even worse since the stress I ended up with trying to work made my social anxiety even worse. Now this is when the government have got truly evil towards those not able to easily shrug things off. Indeed some have died quite soon after being found fit for work. I heard of one man who was found fit for work because he didn’t go to the assessment – oh this was because he was in a coma. You can scour the newspapers and government reports that list quite a few of those stories. Luckily I didn’t fall into those categories.

There is an appeals system in place for people to present their own evidence to an independent adjudicator as well as any other collected evidence and look at the case again. Now this used to be simple, but to try and dissuade people who are possibly at their lowest ebb from appealing they changed the system. You have to ask the DWP to reconsider your case first, now during this you do not get paid your sickness money but the only other benefit you can claim is job seekers allowance. Here you can see the little game they play. People can either receive no money, or go onto a benefit where you have to sign paperwork saying you are fit and willing to look for work. Oh and of course there is no time limit on how long this stage of the process can last. You just have to wait for them to say yes or no while having no money. You might be unsurprised to learn at this point many claimants fold and go onto the job searching benefit, equally many show up in hospital with really serious health problems related to starvation and at worst some claimants show up dead.

This is what I had to do. Funnily enough it was not a very joyful experience and really didn’t help with my more immediate mental health issues. This went on for three months which is actually pretty fast, I’ve heard of some people in areas with higher population having waited close to a year for the decision. I was unsurprisingly told that I was fit for work but this is when you can go onto the next stage. You then appeal directly to the courts for someone to look at your case, this used to be a matter of just saying you wanted to continue to appeal but they changed this to you having to send a letter to the court yourself. Once you get confirmation from the court they are looking into your case you then get your sickness money reinstated and yes they have to backdate it to cover that lovely time you received nothing.

Isn’t the new system for dealing with sick people so incredibly fair and reasonable ? In the UK now you are basically punished for being unable to work as often as they can. Indeed the UK is the first country in history to be investigated by the United Nations for it’s treatment of the sick. I bet that makes all the tory voters proud, they can hold their heads up high knowing that only the rich are treated well and everyone else is just rabble to be coerced and bullied.

So I waited for my appeal. My doctor an psychiatrist wrote reports for the court to look at and once I had a date for my appearance I wrote a summary of my feeling on the subject and describing just how messed up my daily routine can be. I got a friend to come along with me too. Why now you ask ? Ah that is because part of the procedure is you are sent all the government documents pertaining to your case. In this I discovered the blatant lies that ATOS can get away with writing when no one lese is there. The expert who examined me noted multiple times on my report I had no apparent memory or concentration issues despite no questions about that or any testing for it being done. I was marked down as slightly dishevelled but otherwise normal despite being on the verge of tears during the whole meeting. Oh and of course I had gone on my own which seems to count for quite a bit when dealing with these people. Literally you have to be at deaths door or displaying major psychological issues of a visual nature before you get points for being sick.

The appeal was not at all what I expected really. I had of course read up at best I could about this but it was much more pleasant than it sounds. When I arrived a clerk of the court talked through what the process would entail and did a good job of being sympathetic and comforting (unlike ATOS). Eventually I went into the room. The magistrate looking at my case introduced himself and also introduced the practising doctor who was also a decision maker, there to give advice to the magistrate. I expected to be asked questions or to be asked to give my perspective. In a stunning turn of events though the appeal went along the lines of the magistrate telling me right away my appeal was successful and the relevant paperwork would be filled out that day. He even apologised for not letting me speak in my defence. So I went back out in a kind of shell shock as you can imagine. After years of arguing I was ill I finally had documentation stating I was ill, furthermore it is legally binding and can’t just be ignored and the magistrate even put in they were not allowed to reassess me for 24 months. The government did not appeal for which I am glad, otherwise it would have been drawn out even further.

So now I have been rebuilding my life as best I can. I’m still sick, but at least now I can concentrate on trying to get better rather than just trying to get them to admit I am ill.

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