When I first announced that I was set to become a Dad for the first time I got a couple of sideways glances – mostly from a few of the glaringly obvious over-protective mothers in work.  I was informed I was still only a baby myself and that it was too early, but for me I’d say those reactions are the standard reserve for your average 23 year old

People reel off the usual clichés, referencing the subsequent nights out you’re likely to miss and all the places you’re not going to end up travelling to because you have a baby in tow.  Well, to put those concerns immediately to the side, I’ve never been that big a fan of going to town anyway – and if the need is great enough I am sure someone would kindly step in on babysitting duty.  And in terms of travelling – not that I’ve planned much anyway, and I think I’ve only ruled out Vegas as a strictly baby-free holiday – but why is having a baby in tow looked upon as a hindrance?  I want my kids to see everything I’m going to see.

That aside, the reason I’m getting into this now – apart from a glaring inability to sleep – is that we celebrated our daughter’s first birthday this week.  And looking back over the year that’s passed I must say that everything has been alright, despite the warnings that your life is well and truly over.

I’ve got a decent job with some good prospects, purely off the back of getting my head down and cracking on with it – something you’ll find a lot easier to do with more than one mouth to feed.  I also think we’ve surprised a few people with how well we’ve managed since Isla was born.  We’ve picked everything up so fast, yet at the same time we still get out as much as we did previously, we still buy clobber, I still get the odd pair of trabs and there’s still the odd match here and there – which is no different from before.

The reason I reel all that off is that your life genuinely doesn’t change as much as you’re told it will.  We haven’t got babysitters on tap or loads of money but you just get on with it.  It’s far from the end of your life; I’d genuinely say it’s been the reinvention of mine.

But the best thing of all, hands down, is that I’ve got a little best mate who I couldn’t live without.  And there’s no better feeling in the world, I would put my life on that.

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Explaining MY Twitter in Layman’s Terms…

My first idea was to write a similar post to @themanwhofell and @MattWhatsit, who both wrote fantastic Twitter Rules blogs (here and here, respectively).  But then I thought of the few people I know who don’t really use Twitter, such as my fiancé, who has an account but doesn’t really use it as she can’t get her head around why I often have my head buried in my phone during X Factor.

I often find that people who aren’t on Twitter don’t really understand is how it works, and to lay out one ‘set in stone’ blueprint wouldn’t be accurate enough because I’m fairly certain there are people who use it in a completely different way to the manner in which I do, so I thought I’d outline my approach to Twitter.

It’s probably better if I outline how it really all began.  I started up on Twitter a while back, and whilst I set up my account eager to see what all the fuss was about, it subsequently lay dormant for about a year as I didn’t really get it.  After a recommendation from a mate to give my blog a few shouts on Twitter, I decided to give it another crack. I jazzed my profile up somewhat and I started following people.

After a short while there was a pretty big realisation that I was logging in for quite a few things other than having an account for this blog.  My timeline was, happily, clogged up with tweets about Liverpool FC, and the majority of my followers were getting a bit of Liverpool FC with a non-subject blog and a satirical post thrown in here and there which isn’t what I was initially after.  Both subjects were being diluted and, in my humble opinion, deserved an account of their own so @MexicanPenguin’s LFC tweets branched off into @JoeyBurns87 and the tweets now remain (more often than not) separate.

Running two accounts is, to put it bluntly, a piece of piss with a third-party Twitter client.  Even the official Twitter iPhone app has the ability to run a few accounts but I find it harder to switch between them than on the one I currently use.  My two Following lists pretty much read the same as I don’t mind having LFC tweets mixed in with jokes and pictures of @Moanup‘s bollock hanging out of his shorts.  But separately the Followers lists are quite varied and, other than the people I tweet quite a lot to, they remain, for lack of a better term, ‘genre specific.’  I’m happy that this is the case as it certainly justifies running two main accounts when I’m asked why I do it.

Now on to the why’s.  In all honesty, I didn’t really understand why people sit and read their timeline until I’d been on Twitter properly for a while and I find it difficult to see how anyone does until they have too.  I was initially putting the blog out in the open, and as a result of a few retweets from mates on there it got some good coverage and some followers too.  But I found myself following people talking a lot about Liverpool and as a result I was tweeting about Liverpool a lot too.  As this developed, I realised that various people on Twitter were telling me stuff about Liverpool that hadn’t yet made it to Sky Sports News or even the official LFC website.  I feel that this ‘news service’ moved up another level when the huge court case in October regarding the takeover of the club came to a head, and thanks to huge amount of people on Twitter for pretty much the same reason, we were all kept as up to date as possible while events just kept on developing.

And for me, I think the Liverpool example sums up Twitter completely.  On the face of it, you’d think that Twitter was simply full of people who tweet about Liverpool but then it is down to who you follow.  I’m pretty sure if you supported United or Arsenal you could get a similar, but relative, timeline that is full of people keeping you up to date about your team.  The same can be said about people who are enthusiastic about British politics, X-Box games or Apple products.  For example.

On the flip side, there is the fun element to Twitter.  My timeline suggests that the funniest times on Twitter are during reasonably big television events like X Factor and The Apprentice.  You’ll find a lot of people tweeting about them and, as is the case with a lot of the people I’m following, there is some comedy gold in there.  But then, it has to be said, a lot of the humour is mostly to my liking and not to that of my fiancé, who often asks to read what I’m tittering at during Coronation Street and isn’t amused in the slightest.  Further proof that Twitter almost always ends up tailored completely to your own tastes.

With that in mind, for me, the idea of any set rules on Twitter go out of the window, because everyone is different.  I would say there’s already a general etiquette about the whole thing, but then that could be just the people I happen to follow.  Of course, someone tweeting to Robbie Savage to take the piss out of his ill father is out of order, for example, regardless of what you think of the man.  Unfortunately, things like that go on and they will probably happen more often as Twitter’s popularity increases.

But the more you’re on Twitter, the more I’d say you develop your own sense of ideals and I feel that I have developed mine.  On the whole, give respect to people on Twitter, unless they’re dishing out shite to other people. But there is one thing that really twists my tits when I’ve got my head tucked in to my phone during work or some shite programme on telly…

Followers, unfollowers, followbacks, etc.  This seems to be the biggest gripe for a lot of people on Twitter.  On the whole, I mostly end up following people through retweets, where someone spots something interesting or in most cases hilarious, and sends it to their followers.  I also generally follow people I interact with.  If someone mentions me and a quick skim through their timeline doesn’t make my eyes bleed, more often than not I’ll click the follow button.

But then there’s also the dreaded ‘unfollow.’  Admittedly, I don’t decide to do this often, so if it does happen it’s usually a culmination of a month or so’s woeful tweets.  If someone’s tweets in general get on your tits when you browse through your timeline, just unfollow them.  It’s your timeline, it shouldn’t matter that much.  On the flip side, if someone unfollows you, you’re not necessarily posting shite, but it may not be to the individual’s tastes.

I’d also say that pissing and moaning about losing followers, or using those services which let’s you name and shame them, is pretty cringeworthy.  That’s where some Twitter users have got a little bit of Facebook in them, where reciprocal ‘follows’ matter that little bit too much.  There are a very good few people I follow and chat to on Twitter who respond yet don’t follow me.  It is their choice and to question them would be, in my eyes, a little bit small time on my part.  But as I’ve said, that’s just me.

I do hope this has helped anyone who is trying to get a decent grasp on what Twitter is, or what it does, etc.  And, as it really is tailored wholly to the individual, I’d love to hear anyone elses views on what their Twitter does for them!

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Alarm bells not ringing for Apple

The clocks went back over the weekend, as we all know, and a lot of iPhone owners got one more sleep in than they originally expected as their alarms failed to take into account the change in time, despite the phone altering the time on its main clock.

The peculiar thing is, it happened a few weeks ago when iPhone owners in Australia experienced the same problem.  Surely a few weeks is enough time to fix something that is, I’d imagine, so simple.

Problems like this must make people run away screaming with their arms in the air when it comes to buying a new product.  I know there’s not much chance of me buying an old French car, because prior knowledge seems to suggest that it will do 5 miles and will then surrender its services by kicking its wheels off and dissolving its own dashboard.  But I don’t think Apple are too worried.

If you look back to the signal problem with the newly released iPhone 4, Apple were rather nonchalant about the whole thing.  Steve Jobs basically told people not to hold it in a funny way -or in your left hand – and all will be well.  You’d expect there to be much more panic than there was after this latest cock-up.  But why should there be?

I own an iPhone 3GS, and have done since last October.  In that time, I’ve forgotten how to use regular buttons on other people’s phones.  I’ve turned my nose up at every other touch screen phone as it’s just too laggy and unresponsive to the touch.  I’ve tried some phones that do seem quite smart, but coming from my day-to-day usage of an iPhone, they just don’t do enough compared to what I’ve got.  Or they do, but not well enough.

Apple have basically created the Whiskas of the phone world. Most people who don’t have one recognise that it’s up there as one of the best, and the vast majority of the people who currently own one wouldn’t try another phone again.

You may call us blind, but who else in the world gets to stroll into work an hour late and legitimately blame their phone’s ‘dodgy’ programming and get away with it?

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Visual Caffeine

(Adapted from original blog back in October 2008.)

Why do television adverts captivate kids so much?

Not so long ago I was in my Mum’s doing the whole baby talk thing with my nephew – calling him chunky head and asking what the hell he was shouing at, and so forth – when Compare The Market comes up to snatch away his attention.  Blast, he says!  And this happens every time.

He was even saying Joe, although the J sounded a little like a D and the ‘oe’ bit has some work before it can be used as a reputable noun.  He’ll get there, I’m fairly sure. Although, the little fucker might have been reciting Anthology poems by now had This Morning not switched over to fucking Moon Pig.

And I wonder, whether the adverts have some subliminal trick thing in them that captivates people of a lesser brain (and I’m lumping The S*n newspaper readers in with 9 month old babies here, don’t you worry) by it’s audiovisual treasures.  It doesn’t matter whether it’s Jamie Oliver beating shit out of an egg in the middle of Sainsbury’s or that fella who used to be on Eastenders questioning workplace mishaps as being undeserved happenings in the path of your life.  Little baby Mathew can’t get enough of them!

Sure enough, when Jeremy Kyle comes back on, he switches off, ready to be amused by the 23 year old 4 year old that is Joey Burns.

It might be an age thing with this invisible tractor beam that advertising companies shoot from your telly to harness your attentions, trying to convince you that the slip in work 10 years ago is why you now need glasses and 5 cans of Stella a night.  People of a moderate intellect will deduce that you now wear glasses because of the 10 year age gap, from 10 years ago.  Your eyes do not, generally, change their vision like qualities when you bang your knee. Unless your eyes are in your knee. And you fell in the circus. You big freak.

Or it may be an intelligence thing.  9 month old children and the tabloid reading public are all captivated by the flashing images of a pig with an astronaut’s helmet on, or a bear being kicked in his sexy bear bollocks in exchange for a salmon.  Fruit machines work on the same basis and they will continue to do so until the lights go off.  Or when people just resort to mugging us with torches.  They’ll probably save a little on electricity, and we all know green is the way forward.

The problem being though, is that no-one will ever admit to being seduced by a lightbulb, a bear with a pair of acres or an astronaut swine.  Plus the children, and The S*n readers will just dribble, waiting for more adverts to come on.  So we’re no further forward on this one for now ladies and gentlemen.

For now though, see if this make’s you come back…

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If the wind changes, you’ll stick like that…

Right.  Let me set the scene for you. I eat carrots.  I pull faces outside the house during windy spells.  I eat the crusts on my bread.  I’ve ate spinach more than once in my life.   And I’ve ate cheese just before I’ve hit set off up the wooden hills for a good nights sleep.

Now rumour would have it that I should be a strong, curly haired insomniac.  With a slightly distorted face and who can see perfectly in the dark.  But I wouldn’t particularly say that any of those things are true.  I need glasses or contacts to correct my vision, especially in darker areas.  My hair is straight as a ruler. I don’t often have nightmares, although I talk in my sleep a bit.  Infrequently about cheese.  And my face has never ‘stuck like that’ when I’ve made a stupid face, while not indoors.

And I wonder what positives will come of any of these blatant lies?  Telling a kid that something good will happen if they eat their carrots is all well and good, but then what are the consequences of such a fantastic power like night vision?  If it works, do they have to sit in the living room of a night and alert anyone of burglars?  They won’t be able to relax.  They may be feeling quite worried that when they’re sitting in the dark and they can’t see a thing, that the carrots aren’t working, or they’re the wrong ones.  They’ll start ordering specific ‘night vision carrots’ from the Asda to ease this huge pressure.  And this isn’t something we want to do to our 6 year old kids.

What about telling your children that eating your crusts makes your hair curly?  What type of positive could that be to a child now?  It was bad enough for me back in the day, because they were basically telling me I was going to look like Screech off Saved By The Bell.  Which is bad enough.  Now the kids will be thinking that they’ll end up looking like Dirk Kuyt.  If you’re going to lie to them, make it something good.   Like you’re going to buy them Optimus Prime if they eat all their crusts.

Another false claim dished out during childhood was that of ‘The Man.’  Now I was shit scared of ‘The Man.’  I was for a long time, and this was mostly down to the fact that I thought he was going to shout, or even ‘get me’ on other occasions.  I sense, having been an adult for about two years now, that this was down to a lack of discipline in the offending parent’s approach to child-bearing.  They couldn’t get the kid to behave, so a quick threat of ‘The Man’ getting them should be enough to silence their cries.

And I don’t know who to feel sorrier for.  The kid who is going to spend the rest of his childhood flinching at ticket inspectors, or the actual ‘man’ who is made out to be some sort of beast who beats children in public, while their parents look on and nod in satisfaction.  You watch.  The next time someone says that in a restaurant or on the train, you’ll see ‘The Man’ look quite uncomfortable, and the kid in question will look at him as if he’s just cut the heads off all of his teddies.  It’s an awkward moment.

So the next time you’re trying to get your kids to eat their carrots or shut up on the bus, think of the repercussions your lies will have on your offspring and even the people around you.

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Everyone needs to bathe.  Except the great and famous Paul English of course.  The women would still swarm enthusiastically, like a collection of flies around a rather suave dog egg on a hot summer’s day.  But for the rest of us, it is probably wise that we succumb to a good ol’ scrub at least once a day.  Twice for some people.

Which is what I opted to do this past Sunday.  I prepared myself for potentially the greatest shower of all time, considering the previous night’s activities were beginning to reveal themselves in the form of a rather pungent veneer that followed me around like an accident waiting to happen, when the stoppers were well and truly applied to my fun and games.

I get sorted (i.e. naked. I just didn’t want to say it) and prepare myself mentally for this great, earth moving experience, when the shower kicks off with a spluttering coughing which only suggests that my plans are goosed.

So I’m stood there, like the fat kid who got bowled out of quick cricket way too early in the game, pondering what that ghastly smell is.  And the shower continues to mock me, coughing like a smoker outside a County Road boozer, except producing less liquid.

The shower is pumping out nothing but freezing cold water.  And I’m stood there trying to ignore the smell, which is fast becoming apparent that it could choke a medium sized camel, and trying not to vent my frustrations in too much of an angry way as it would look quite frankly ridiculous being fully naked.

And it leads me to believe that the people who make showers must be up there with the outlandish inventors of the chocolate teapot and Lady Gaga.  They simply don’t work the way you really expect them to.  You turn them on.  Turn the dial to what appears to be a reasonable compromise of hot and cold water and, foolishly, expect a reasonable compromise of hot and cold water to come out.

But it doesn’t.  Especially our shower.  You put it in the middle and what comes out is either a jettison of scalding hot lava, or a piercing blast of ice ridden polar piss.  It’s out of order.  Literally.

So I resort to a stand up wash, 90’s style, with a flannel and some hot water that is clearly emanating from the fully functional hot water tap.  It appeases the bad feeling that remains from the previous nights shenanigans, but not completely.

So when it comes to getting dry, I hear our pipes make a stupid noise.  And like a complete and utter tool I foolishly decided to try the shower again.  Which proceeded to distribute what can only be described as the finest example of shower water I have ever seen in my life.  If you were to take a thermostat, wire it up to the top of Niagara Falls and turn it to the ‘damn fine sexy temperature,’ you would still not be close to how perfect that water would be.

Ah well.  It’s not as bad as our toaster anyway.

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Hold Music

Every company in the world has a bit of a persona that they would like the world to view them as.  The things that they do and the values that they demonstrate in society are all purposely done to keep up the public’s perception of their whole ethos.

So why then, do some companies have such shit hold music?

I have been on the phone to a number of companies, something which I was involved reasonably heavily in during one of my previous jobs, and I can only describe their hold music as complete and utter shite.

You get through to a ‘Press one for’ robot who gives you a couple of options in order to point you in the right direction.  Quite often it is the wrong place, but that is for another day.

So once you get through to the apparently correct department, everyone is absolutely chocker so you are placed in a queue.  This is where our soothing hold music is lashed on to keep you happy while you’re waiting for Jason from Somerset to tell you why they have taken £125.00 out of your bank account for the privilege of drawing a tenner out on a Bank Holiday.

And the music, depending on what type of company it is, will vary hugely.  I have, on the occasion, been subjected to what can only be described as a cat being inflated by means of a hairdryer and a hosepipe.  It was awful.

Another sounded like a ringtone you used to be able to create yourself on a Nokia 3310 back in the day.  Worse in fact.

Don’t they realise that people are going to judge them over stuff like this?  It’s like purposely releasing videos of your staff doing horrible things to the pizzas you’re selling.

It’s even worse when you have a posh fella trying to tout certain services in the middle of the shite songs.  And then when CJ from Grimsby gets on, it is blazingly apparent that the posh knob was inaccurate in his offerings because no-one with an accent like that would be working in Grimsby.  He was obviously lost or even deluded.

O2, by the way, avoid this massive rant because they usually employ the best bands at the time to keep you busy, plus they had an amazingly chilled out instrumental version of what can only be described as ‘The Torres Song.’  So thumbs up to you all at O2.

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