Navigating life and it’s more awkward moments

Today I met a toddler.
‘No shit’ I hear you say; “you work in a pub,” “you live in the vicinity of people and therefore families and small children.”
I know. The place is child and dog friendly and there will be various interesting types to be met in such an establishment on a regular working basis. On a quiet Sunday afternoon, however, such a little boy can grab the heart strings of anyone fascinated by child’s play.

In the course of a few hours a child will interact with so many new things and learn in each and every moment. Not everything is totally new, but the repetition is going to solidify their understanding in each turn. For example, watching this toddler repeat after his mother in sounds without the words. ‘Bubble’ became many ‘bub-wul’-s (over and over and over and over…) and ‘frog in a bog, bat in a hat, snap, crackle, pop and fancy that’ became something like ‘ohg-woag, annht-nanht, shrnn-ahp-bhap, mha-nha nn-nnna-nat’. Everyday is a constant stream of this. The result is kids holding court with themselves in a string of noises and points that are all fairly clear, just entirely nonsensical.

You can see it on their faces too. If you’re watching. That moment when they stop staring at you (the stranger) unsure and waiting and instead have a look that says they’ve got it. They’ve figured you out. They’ve figured the game out. Figured out what you’re communicating to them. A smile cracks the o-held mouth and they start wiggling around and talking. Just random noises, but they’re talking to you so sure in their conviction that they’ve got this and the message is totally clear.

The parents among you now say ‘aaahhhh- but you forget the times when something new scares them and they become shy and timid’. Children are not always so certain and interactive with strangers? It’s just such a time I am actually writing about.

He wasn’t scared of me mind. Oh no. I play a game of hide and seek using some of the lost and found sunglasses and suddenly I am his new best friend.

Instead it was a time that struck a different kind of chord with me. It’s in the purview of one of the issues I hold dearest to my heart. Yet one, where in my own white-ness, I cannot always be so certain.

Today our wee chap met his very first black person. Maybe. Mum and Dad did not confirm, so it’s anyone’s guess.

So the toddler is knocking around. He can walk and he’s settled in the environment enough to get curious about what’s round the corner from his table. Off he goes to navigate the terrain with everyone (all of 4 tables of customers) watching him go. There is a black couple finishing up their post-meal coffee, ready to go out into the rainy summers day. He spots them and stops for a second. He hasn’t been totally confident on this wander; he looks puzzled at every stranger (none of them have played hide and seek yet). It’s either unfortunate or indicative that he pauses at the black couple.

Like everyone else, they were watching him too. When they seem him pause, they glance at each other and nod in that way that shares a common truth. The gent decides to say it aloud. Whether to clear any caution of the white people around, or to invite the parents to confirm or deny, or perhaps even for his own solace who knows.

“He’s never met a black man.” As they get up to go, the gent offers his hand to the wee boy. I don’t know if he wasn’t sure what that’s for though, but in any case he didn’t shake. He ignored the movement and held the o-mouth staring up into the gent’s smiling face. Still smiling he said, “oh dear.”

Whether because the music had gone off or because it was awkward, the room was awfully quiet. So I broke it, encouraging him to say hello and asking if he could wave demonstrating with the gent how to do it. The moment was totally saved when his dad laughed watching his son stare at us bemused. Just a child’s timidity.

Just as children learn in every moment, so have I today. For me, this solidified the importance of exposure to our world’s diversity. Every child should meet people from different places with different accents, and languages, and skin colours. The better to learn them when they get older and show compassion to people beyond the confines of physical similarities. It should happen young and as often as possible.

It also gave me a new and ever confused appreciation of how difficult is to navigate the world when there are racial disparities- the undesirable remnants of our horrible histories. Questioning ones own position in life because you know that the ancestors before you, who have given you DNA and so bind you in resemblance, may have been seriously nasty buggers. The children of now, young and old, struggle to navigate a way to meet and greet each other. If it were only down to our biology, and the only reason we paused is because instinct tells us to be cautious of different, it would be far easier.

That, can be laughed off. The wee boy today may have a fairly easy negotiation of his unneeded instincts hereafter. Society will not make it easy. Perhaps as he gets older he’ll pick on the societal disparities and fall into the trap of following them. Hopefully, exposure to our world’s beautiful diversity will allow him to see the pit and skirt it. He’ll become the next generation fighting to make things equal.

I wish more people would address it head on. None of this, awkward silence. Raise your voice and encourage change, even if that just means encouraging your children to say hello to strangers. It feels awkward that every kid may have their first-black-person, first-asian-person, first-white-person and even more so for whoever these ‘firsts’ end up being. The awkwardness is a truth of navigating our world that we cannot avoid, and yet the occasions are always ones that need to happen.

Posted in growing up, Personal blog, racism, Working life | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

It must be poison


This is Ruaridh (Rooah-ree or Rory if you can’t manage the gaelic pronunciation). He likes chasing flies, not birds; sleeping on the laundry, not his radiator bed; sitting on my shoulder, not my keyboard; eating tomato from the pizza, not the pepperoni; cat treats, cat milk and wet cat food as long as it’s not Whiskas.

Whiskas is the big named brand for cat food for most Brits. It has the advantage over supermarket products of being a brand that has a more solid marketing front for pet owners. It also has the advantage over Purina and Felix products as these have been given classy, up-market advertisements and are marginally more expensive. For your average cat owner, you’re gonna go for Whiskas because it’s the balanced middle range option that won’t break the bank.

But Ruaridh is Ruaridh… right? My cat is just being picky, right? Having originally bought Whiskas cheaper jellied wet food and Ruaridh choosing to go hungry or eat more dry food, it seemed right to branch out into their more premium version. Again, cat wouldn’t eat it. Didn’t matter if it was fish, which he usually loves regardless, he meowed on for something else after giving the food a quick lick to decide.

So… it started me thinking. Like many people, I have been aware of the less than savoury conditions most for-meat-animals have been kept in and the way it is processed, thanks to enlightening documentaries and talks like those in Food inc. and the Ted talk series What’s wrong with what we eat? A befitting conclusion then, was that whatever crap it is that we are given I can only imagine what waste products from those processes are being put in pet food. No bloody wonder he won’t eat it.

I did not have to look far for connections with other large brand companies, as Whiskas is owned by Mars. Although I am not certain of how many, I know the Mars Incorporated group own a few different subsidairy businesses to their confectionary lines such as Pedigree and Uncle Ben’s rice. In the search, I also got distracted by Whiskas website It consists of a series of small soundbites, each the start of a chain of links with “cat owner advice”.The astonishing thing about the soundbites and the reason I got distracted was that each is audaciously know-it-all and self serving. Makes sense; it’s their website and there they are trying to sell an image of the brand. It’s not poorly conceived, just poorly executed; a 3-year-old could see through this bullshit.

No pet food ever claims to be less than something that provides a balanced and nutricious diet for your pet, regardless of who they are. But balanced to what extent? Cats are pure carnivores so you assume there aren’t vegetables or carbohydrates in it.
Whiskas claim is that it’s association with Waltham Centre for pet nutrition (a research establishment) means you can be sure that they make sure all of their meals provide natural goodness for your cat and are also nutrionally complete and balanced. ‘Also’.

“…it is through studying [their] behaviour that we have developed a better understanding of our feline friends than anyone else so that we can help owners provide the very best care to their cats.” Literally anyone? Did they do clinical comparison tests to be able to say that so boldly? I went looking for trial results in Web of Science and Google Scholar and came up with zip. The only thing that got results was looking only for Waltham centre. Three results of inconsequential post-grad papers.

I shit you not, the three bulletins in the Whiskas website nutrition section (the section in which you expect them to divulge some of the secret of what it is exactly that your cat needs that canines and primates don’t) are vitamins, catnip and the exclusion of allergens. No fucking shit, Sherlock. And not all cats like catnip; everyone knows that. Just saying.

Ruaridh happens to be allergic to most plastics, so I had a wee look into the allergen section. Maybe they can tell me more about what being allergic to plastic means or something?

“Some people are allergic to cats, but did you know that some cats are allergic to different kinds of food?” I half thought reading that sentence that it was going to conclude by telling me they can be allergic to humans. That would be too fun for Whiskas though.

“… the simplest solution is to make sure she doesn’t eat the offending food.” So the website also genders the cat when at a loss for other terms that isn’t the compassionless ‘it’.

Well Whiskas, by my findings my male cat is allergic to you- wet foods, dry food, cat milkshake and the treats of various types- and I now have no choice but to exclude you from his diet. Through a loss of faith in your branding and the quality of research at the Waltham centre for pet nutrition, I now assume that either only female cats like Whiskas (and you only like them) or you are getting us to feed our pets with a worse hotdog mix than we can imagine. That’s not nutricious, that’s gross.

Posted in Personal blog, petcare | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Divorced Parenting Requires a New Kind of Love

I asked a question, and got an amazing answer. Thanks Matt! []

Hopefully I am now armed to help oor wee lass- as I’m the one she whispers her confusion at. Hell; maybe I’ll just give this to her parents, knock their heads together and tell them to lead by example.

Posted in childcare, custody, divorce, feminism, men's rights, Personal blog | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Seeing Red- my future in blogging


When I started this blog I styled it on my journal. I took pictures of it’s leather and an extract of my handwriting and I framed my blog with them. If it was to suit itself, I decided it must be called an ‘open diary’.

Myself, I prefer reading a blog that doesn’t have too many bells and whistles and pages upon pages. As such, OreoAnonymous is one page. I want to be able to scroll through the writer’s ideas. The lack of time to visit the Reader is probably the cause of that. There are some who post once a week and they’re forgotten. There will be those who post every couple of hours and not being in that Reader frequently, I miss stuff. Some of it will be worth missing, but that’s merely a product of persistent content. Instead of staying up-to-date, I spend a few hours reading whole pages when I can find the time. I highly recommend the art of rediscovering bloggers you have subscribed to previously.

So, OreoAnonymous is this… whole… page of ‘too long; didn’t read’. It’s frustrating. Yet, part of me wouldn’t have it any other way on principle. I have attempted to take on board the idea of splitting paragraphs apart more. Simplifying statements to say more in less sentences. However, it’s difficult to fully encompass an idea this way. So many thoughts and tangents contribute to any given post and I would love to share it all.

This blog is my sharing place. I don’t facebook. I twitter, but it’s all of 140 characters. And I only use it to share current issues- that I might thereby be a channel to increase the volume of a message. I am not an individual there. High school friends drift in and out of contact yearly, and I’m living in a different city with few close friends.
Here. Here is where I am all my main thoughts.

“You don’t post that often.” No, I don’t. Again, lack of time. “There are phone apps.” I work on a bar at the moment some 40+ hours to make ends meet. No screen attachment for me.

This blog gets the most new attention when I blog about gaming. I’m no gamer though. I know my way around a gaming keyboard and get shit to work on a linux computer… but again! lack of time. I am no gamer. As I tipped in the previous post I am gonna try to be- I love that world. That’s for my benefit though- not the blog’s.
I get the most likes on poems. I’m no poet though. Poems originally start as long-short posts from which I remove the linguistic filler. The result is just shy of Edwin Morgan, and by any literary students’ standard, an abomination. I am no poet. I can’t stop myself when one occurs though.
My political rants get views, but as yet have never sparked conversation. That’s what I would wish for. Conversation starters. Not for the sake of it. I would hate to fall into the trap of just saying a thing to provoke someone into speech. I guess I am looking for an audience more interested in debate. To follow that through I will have to learn to talk less, and say more.

There are some 50+ followers for this open diary. However small an audience (whether in actuality is 2 or 3 readers or not) I don’t wish to kill this endeavour. I had thought I might transform it into a news related bias blog. But, the idea seemed unfair before I hit the admin page. There are people following who came for the randomness. No one probably cares if I do table-flip it, but perhaps for my own sake I should keep my sharing space. For my mental health, perhaps I should use it more often.

The only thing left to say, that is in the near future I plan to make my topical bias blog. A space where I analyse the current issues and boogie-monsters with what I hope will be a little scientific clarity, open mindedness and conciseness. As far as possible anyway. The hope is that by doing this my political frustrations will be taken apart in a scenario that makes me write more, write better and even use OreoAnonymous more. Where the new blog will attempt to stay on topic I can come back to my diary and complain that nobody gets me. And that the 7,000 steps in Skyrim is ridiculous. Half that, would have sufficed Bethesda. Seriously.

Should few-and-faithfuls wish to follow me there I will post an update on Seeing Red‘s progress soon.
Thank you for reading.
I welcome advice and tips with which to move forward.

Posted in boogie monsters, news, Personal blog, politics, Working life | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 6 Comments


Just 5 more minutes
How long? How long does it take for you to fulfil your wishes; vindicate your expectations and needs; derive pleasure from it? You have to play for what- half an hour or so (/until the end of time)? It is not something you think of when you get a new game or even try and guess when you’re following the release of one.

The definition of ‘satisfying game session’ varies depending on who you speak to and what it is they want out of it.

There are those for whom gaming is all about the achievements. They sign up for MMOs or ones that have a connected community from a game client, like Steam, or through the games company, as with L.A. Noire. It’s all about “winning” in comparison to your peers via league tables, badges, levelling systems. The sense of achievement in accomplishing a task inflates our esteem and we love it! You feel satisfied when you get to the next stage; you unlock a special gift; you unlock a special badge people can see on your profile; you survive against the odds of numbers (or die less than everyone else on that server)…
Perhaps also this includes puzzle lovers. Clicking the dots in the right pattern; the lines matching up just so; the blocks disappearing; getting all the items of a room; solving the riddle to unlock the next stage in “Alice is Dead”. In the act itself you are vindicated in your need to solve, and resolve, and organise, and tidy, and straighten, and clean, and alphabetize, and your not compulsive at all! It comes down to time and your own body clock.

Maybe there is the right filling of blood and guts- a gore quota- that allows you to proceed with your day.
Or better yet, for you it’s about the plot. Plot driven games will have already predetermined game turns with the aim of being just the right length for player engagement. The same way a writer knows how long the chapters are going to take, how many heart wrenching blows are in each, or whether they’ll be a string of cliff hangers from scene to scene. You can’t decide, and telling you would give the game away (excuse the pun).

And there the point… I knew it was here somewhere. People don’t play games with the need to know. Most of us need such encompassing escapism that any idea of a deadline or window would ruin the experience. Rather than falling into the immersion of another world or distraction we’d worry how long we have left.

For fellow gamers out there, I would like to share a trick I am trying out. I work ridiculous long hours and haven’t properly sat down to play in years. Time freed up recently and I went and bought a slew of games I’d love to try. Should time re-entangle later I may not get round to playing them. And why? Because I never make the time for it.
Some among you may have the opposite problem of never getting stuff done, because there is always a new awesome that was just released.

What I suggest is being aware of satisfaction during the purchasing stage. You look at the new game and assess how long. Not for the whole thing. How long will a satisfying game session take. If you can then guess when you’ll have that kind of time you’ll know when to “crack it out the box”. Also, when to opt for another with the correct session time. You can’t be judged, you can play often, you will still play all the games (whether it means your entire day off or not), and you can still enjoy all the endorphins that come with playtime.
Whether in rounds, stages, deaths, scenes- work out how long it will roughly take.

Tetris- level 10 .’. half an hour. Battle tetris- 3 rounds .’. 10 minutes (includ. loading time).
Oblivion- quest plus travel fuck about time .’. 3 hours. Skyrim- quest plus travel fuck about time (plus random dragons) .’. 6 hours.
Something for the lunch break, waiting for the bus, after work, and on your day off. See what I mean?

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Corporate casualty

In blind confusion-
a rabbit in the headlights of over reaction-
All graciousness fails me.
I stumble, mumble and bumble
All the words that will survive the journey from thought to speech. Each,
Uttered with the desperation of
‘Please for the love of what we had, listen!’
And when you listen, hear me.
The fight to be heard in a silent room
I bring upon myself,
But you brought the quiet and the battle began.

Be reasonable.
You might say it to me in the same way I say it to you;
Each of us from our angle not understanding the other.
But you…
At bare minimum I explored the idea that you were right,
And I, a failure.
But you! Never seeing your own irrationality- ach!- how it hurts!
If reaction had a Richter scale
You jumped to a ten from a should be two
So a wave of emotion flowed out from you, to me.
To all of us who held what we had most dear.

I grappled with the debris unsure who to call for aid.
Wrought low with grief
It occurred that there is no one better to address my pain to, than you.
No, you cannot undo what you did
And yes, you must suffer the consequences of it.
Yet, perhaps you can still bring me back from the wreckage.
Although never whole again,
alive at least.

You would have the strength to carry me
If only you would spare the time.
You won’t though,
For what we had was never what you had
Not that you couldn’t,
But that you wouldn’t share in the joy
That freedom brought.

Conservative in your wants
And your leadership
You have missed out on something great
A movement that would
With time only grow.
Instead you stifle change,
Like any of your conservative brethren.

Of course, the first casualty of you quelling the idea
Had to be us;
And I, a martyr for generous thinking,
Had to go.
Did I get to you though?
From elegant redhead to sporadic hothead;
Is your silence brought by confusion as to the loss of calm?
I chose to fight fire with fire
And to see over reaction mirrored back
When you had no grasp of your own
Changes formal procedure into assertion of dominance.

In blind conviction-
a peacock in the mating season of business-
Innovation eludes you.
You prance, peck and scratch
Until you have your way.
A way undefined until
There was ‘Time for reflection’-
The silence your presence demands.
The fight to be right
I caused
But you were still wrong and struck me down regardless.

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The Art of Running from the Police

Absolutely everyone who thinks life in Western poverty is peachy must read this. Boys get booked for running, then for not showing in court, then for not paying fees, then for running, then for not showing and round and round…

Is an astonishing read whatever your angle.


Alice Goffman | On the Run: Fugitive Life in an American City | University of Chicago Press | May 2014 | 45 minutes (12,478 words)

Below is a chapter excerpted from On the Run, by sociologist Alice Goffman, as recommended by Longreads contributing editor Dana Snitzky. Goffman spent six years living in a neighborhood in Philadelphia. In her groundbreaking book, she explains how the young black men in her neighborhood are ensnared in a Kafkaesque legal system which makes running from the police their only option, and how these men have made running into an art.

View original post 12,726 more words

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