Tag Archives: Random

Flora – are you really that desperate?

flora-butteryI rediscovered TV a couple of nights ago after a bit of a hiatus – or more accurately found two programmes in a row I actually wanted to watch. One was the incredible yet harrowing Magdalene Sisters – a frightening insight into some of the widespread abuse by the Catholic church. There’s a lot I could write, but that’s for another time.¬† On a lighter note I actually watched some of the ads. The flora one caught my attention partly as it was so bad. Gary Rhodes on tour taste testing Flora Buttery against something by Lurpack. Apprently most people prefer Flora. That is until you read the small print at the end. 200 people surveryed. 48% (96) preferred Flora to 45% (90) who preferred the other ‘leading brand’, with another 7% (14) who had no preference. That’s hardly conclusive – if I was trying to prove something there’s no way statistics like that would stand up. Firstly I can’t believe Flora think the viewing public are so stupid as to not notice these results prove nothing, and secondly that they are so desperate that they felt they had to use them in the first place!


On the buses

Being back in the office instead of my wanderings around the island I’ve started to get the bus again. 25 minutes is a good time, although to read I’d appreciate a bit longer. It does provide perfect people watching opportunities. This morning I was struck by how the demographic of Belfast has changed, especially in terms of racial diversity (if that’s the correct PC phrase). Other things that stuck me:

The feeling of smug ‘I’m doing more for the planet than you’ sitting on the bus looking out particularly at drivers of 4WDs – particularly essential for the rough terrain of the Lisburn Road and City Centre. Then remembering how much I need to drive for work, feeling slightly hypocritical, and wondering why I have such a bias against drivers of largmetrocastlecourtlargee vehicles

Bus drivers either must be changing or have been through customer service training recently. Often they were known for grunting and grumpiness (that may be a slight exaggeration, but they certainly have never been the most cheerful of people in my experience). The drivers of both my journeys on Friday and this morning all thanked me as I got off. I doubt I was causing so much trouble – or such a smell that they couldn’t wait to get me off their bus. It did strike me that such a simple act has actually made a difference to my days, Stunned by a couple of words¬† – simple pleasantries, but nonetheless they definitely helped my day off to a much more cheerful start than some of my usual days stumbling into the office not quite awake with a little morning grumpiness.

Thank you Translink with your pink buses – you definately make my journeys to work more interesting.

the soapbox is on the move

No I’m not leaving wordpress. After a summer of travelling – a final update on that may come, the time has finally come when my housemate (and landlord) is getting married, and the soapbox is turfed out one the street. Well to another street at least.

There is much to blog about from recent weeks and months, a long awaited follow up to ‘any women on the go’ perhaps, there will be something on Palestine after hearing lots of interesting stuff on that topic, and the fabulous Greenbelt at which Miss Beth Rowley, Brian Houston and beer and hymns in the ‘Jesus arms’ were all highlights. Philip Yancey and Brian McLaren weren’t bad either. But alas I am packing up my life. I’m shocked to discover how many books I posess. They take up so much more room out of bookshelves as well. Moving does force you to be a little ruthless with some of your possessions – our blue bin is rapidly filling and the local second hand bookshops may soon be overflowing. There is something incredibly therapeutic about getting rid of stuff – I remember crookedshore once giving some fascinating insights on decluttering and it reminding us not to put down too deep roots. Living out of a rucksack for 2 months also reminded me that I really can live so much more simply with less clutter, less clutter (and probably less time online) leaving more time for some of that soul (in the full sense of all compassing – can you tell i’m reading NT Wright?) enriching time with people, time to think, read, reflect and dream…

The Boss

Who is there who can top a 2 and 3/4 hour set from Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band? They may have taken a while to get going, but when they did it was amazing. Sometimes after a gig you can feel you’ve played out an artist but I’ve been delving back into the back collection ever since. Here’s a wee snippet from the gig. I’m not even going to try to put it into words. Check him out yourself…

Some of the clips on youtube of Bruce playing with u2 and REM are well worth checking out.

After all the excitement of Thursday night, the soapbox ventured out to the *insert energy drink brand* soapbox races at Stormont. On a sunny afternoon Stormont is a great venue, a lush green oasis in Belfast’s suburban sprawl. Unfortunately this soapbox wasn’t racing but some of the racing was pretty funny. Some of the competitors appeared to have forgotten to road test their machines, some had clearly spent far too much time in their garages! Interesting afternoon out but they maybe did string it out too long as the crowd drifted off with not even Colin Murray’s not quite suited to a family day out humour struggled to keep people there.

What better way to end a day like that with frisbee at seapark…

Halloween – the rise of the witches or just another marketing ploy?

One of my friends commented last night how Halloween is becoming a big deal. Now living in my world of blogs, books and coffee shops I hadn’t noticed much about Halloween other than the sound of fireworks. Maybe if I’d been looking around on the bus to and from work instead having my nose stuck in a book, eating up the chance for some uninterrupted reading time I’d have noticed. Now that he mentioned it I have noticed Halloween things hanging outside people’s doors much like holly wreaths at Christmas, and that most shops have a large Halloween section. Tesco even having ‘Halloween sweets’ – looking suspiciously similar to the ones they sell at Christmas. On checking my email I discovered double nectar points on Halloween and Christmas present ideas. Is Halloween becoming as big as Christmas? Do we need to fear the rise of the pagans? Perhaps its just one of the many results of living in a rapidly becoming post-Christian (with a small ‘c’) country and that’s something Christians need to deal with and not start waving placards about witches everywhere . I suspect if has less to do with the popularity of witchcraft and more to do with the idolatry of the dollar (sorry seemed to fit well there). It seems that Halloween is just another marketing opportunity to get people to consume and spend, something else to compete with the neighbours over their Halloween party, costumes and decorations. Then those Halloween products are swiftly repackaged and rebranded for consumermas. And we’re being sucked in…

Late Addition…
Father Ted - down with this sort of thingFamily services in church are the ones I sometimes try to avoid, but are usually pretty good. This morning was dealing with the whole subject of Halloween and was really good. In playing up the consumer line I may have inadvertently been suggesting that all the witchcraft stuff isn’t a big deal. It is. Halloween is not harmless fun on either the consumer or the spiritual level, and we must be creative in our response as early christians tried to be in positioning all Saints Day over the pagan Samhain festival. Enough wikipedia links. A thoughtful and positive Christian response to Halloween would be helpful. More than the ‘down with this sort of thing’ approach., whilst not being watery and assuming there is nothing sinister at play. A guy in church told us how his kids don’t do ‘trick or treating’ but do ‘give a treat’ and give treats to the houses they visit. I thought that was pretty creative. I’m happy to welcome them, a wispa will do fine…

Revision Time

Studying part-time is great for keeping the grey cells active, the downside is every 6 months I have to do an exam. Which usually means trawling the depths of the internet while thinking about my essays. On my first day off to revise its important to come up with a plan of attack of what to do in the frequent breaks my brain needs to recharge.

A good time waster is gotoquiz.com where importantly I discovered how to answer the facebook question on political ideaology. Highly accurate no doubt. My guardian reading probably gave me away as a woolly liberal. Here it is…

What is your political ideology?

Your Result: Liberal


This quiz has categorised you as a Liberal. You believe in the role of the government to fight poverty, both by means of welfare programs, and economic regulation. You are defined as a progressive in the US, but you are generally favouring of the retention of the current social paradigm.

Social Democrat


Communist/Radical Left






Fascist/Radical Right


What is your political ideology?
Make Your Own Quiz

Thanks to zoomtard for the chance to pit Mary against an evil looking Eve in the bible battle.
Or for a more classic sporting effort there’s table top football from the evils of the Murdoch empire. and of course the old sporting classics like Tardis Tennis on the BBC Sport site.

As if you couldn’t tell how productive my day is going to be, now its sunny as well…