Paralympic Athletes are second class citizens according to Royal Mail

August 18, 2012

After all the success of the Gold Medal stamps which Royal Mail issued for our Gold Medal winning athletes at this year’s Olympic Games, they have decided to to the same thing for our athletes in the Paralmpic Games! Well done I hear you all shout. But there’s a catch..

For the Olympic athletes, Royal Mail made a commitment before the games to print the stamps and have them on sale (albeit in selected Post Offices) within 24 hours of the medal being won. But that’s not the case for the Paralympic athletes.

Most of the media don’t appear to be reporting this, but the stamps will be on sale within FIVE days. I’ve seen one report that says the stamps will be issued “as quickly as possible”, but most don’t mention a time frame.

The reason for the delay? Apparently it’s because of the number of medals we’re expected to win. This year, our athletes have been given a target of 95-145 medals. Four years ago in Beijing we got 102 medals of which 42 were gold. So I reckon we’re looking at about 39-60 gold medals or about twice as many as we got in the Olympics. 

So because they will have to double the number of stamps designed (actually just pick a picture as the most of the stamps will be already prepared) and printed, it will take an extra FOUR days? Really? I know we’re not the most efficient/organised business in the world, but come on. I would have thought that it would only have taken an extra 24 hours at the most to get them printed and distributed.

Come on Royal Mail, is this really the best you can do?


December 10, 2009

Well it’s been over a week since the last post, and a lot has happened. I want to just tidy up a couple of issues that I know some of you were concerned about.

First of all, my friend finally asked the question (see Uncertainty) and whilst they didn’t get the answer they hoped for, they have still remained good friends with the other person. So that was good news.

And I finally took the step down the path I was being pushed in, and although I got a little scratched and bruised on the way, I have come out ok. It didn’t lead where I was expecting, but it has led to something new. And that is good news as well, as I was expecting to get really hurt. But I still don’t know why God has made me take this route, I expect it will become clear when the time is right.

So there you go, two stories with happy endings. And the moral of these little tales? I suppose it’s that if we don’t take the chance we will forever be wondering “what if…?”. Will I take that step in the future if a similar situation arises? That I don’t know, it took a lot for me to do it this, but I’m glad that I did. And to all those who helped and guided me on the way, once again I’d like to say thank you.

Past, present and future

November 30, 2009

Well, here we are at the end of the month (at last!) And that means that this is the last post I have to write! Yay!

I’m going to start this post by having a look back on the month. I think some of the posts have been thought provoking and some have just been pure rubbish! In fact, now I’ve read some of the more thoughtful ones again, I can see that at least one of them is rubbish! How I managed to get two disparate ideas like that in to one post I’ll never know! (And no, I’m not going to say which one or ones I’m on about!)

To say this month has been traumatic for me would be a slight understatement. I think I’ve been on a bit of an emotional roller-coaster these past few weeks. I can see this in my writing, and may be you can as well. I have some good friends who have helped me through this period as I mentioned in Friends. As well as getting me through the emotional stress I’ve been through, they have also helped with this blog by supplying me with ideas and thoughts, whether intentionally or not. And I’m especially grateful to that one friend who was there when I was really having a tough time (yes that’s YOU!) I really can’t say thank you enough.

Some of the hardest posts I’ve written this month have actuallybeen the shorter ones. These were the ones where I had a complete lack of inspiration and really struggled to come up with something to write about.

Conversely some of the easiest to write we’re the ones that probably give you the most to think about. Regrets, wrong decisions and hindsight, A blank piece of paper and Uncertainty (and if you look back just a little before the month started at The light at the end of the tunnel) were all written with very little effort. The words just flowed naturally. I know that some of them are a bit disjointed and perhaps could have done with a bit of proof reading and tidying up, but never mind. More than one of those posts were written not just because I needed something to put on the blog for that day, there were other reasons too. But those “hidden” reasons I’m afraid are not something I don’t wish to discuss here. Sorry.

And so to the present. As I sit here and write this, I’m in what I call “my happy place”. This is not a physical place, but a state of mind. I’m happy and content with things at the moment. Why am I feeling like this? I feel I’ve managed to survive the last month and at the moment I don’t have anything to worry about. Even getting soaked in the rain today didn’t worry me!  Also, over this past weekend I’ve seen and chatted with quite a few of my friends. They included old friends, new friends, closest and bestest friends, and ones I care deeply about. Some are going through or have been through some tough times recently, and one has come through that tough patch and in the space of six weeks has become the happiest I’ve seen her in a long time. And that has shown me that no matter how bad things look at the moment, they can get better and it can be from a really unexpected direction.

And what of the future? Will I keep blogging? Will I stay in my happy place?

As I said at the end of November last year, I’ll try to continue, but I can’t see it happening every day. But I’ll do my best to post regularly, especially if I have something to get of my chest!

And how long will I stay here in my happy place? Well I don’t know. I want to stay here as long as possible because I like feeling like this. But I suspect it won’t be for long.

As some of you may have figured out, there has been an underlying theme to some of the posts I’ve made over the past few weeks. Something happened quite unexpectedly that made me look at how I wanted my life to progress. I decided for various reasons, I didn’t want to take a particular route. But it hasn’t been that simple. Ever since that decision, it seems that whichever path I take, I always seem to be heading back to the same point. But I’m still unsure about heading in that direction because despite there being a slim chance of happiness, I fear that most of the routes will lead to hurt and pain. But it’s as if I’m being herded in the direction. I did ask God for a sign, and as I posted he gave me one very quickly. I read it one way though and other people have read it a different way. Which really doesn’t help. At the moment I want to just sit tight and see what happens, but I also fear that if it is what God wants me to do, then if I leave it too late, he may take it away from me. So I think I’ll just put it back in to His hands, and pray that I don’t lose the opportunity if it’s what He wants me to do.

But whatever happens, I’m sure that you dear reader will find out from this blog!


November 30, 2009

So today was the the first Sunday in advent. But what does that mean, and how does it relate to our everyday lives?

Advent is the season prior to Christmas, where we are awaiting the Advent or Coming of Jesus. Originally Advent was a season of penitence and fasting, but these days it seems to have this emphasis. Nowadays it’s a season of looking forward to that joyful event of celebrating Jesus’ birth.

It’s a time when everything starts to become Christmassy. There are carol concerts, decorations and Christmas trees appear and the Christmas programs start on TV. More and more often however these things begin to happen before Advent and I think that’s a shame. These four weeks are specially and by making the season long, some of that specialness is lost through over-exposure. (see last year’s post When does Christmas start?)

Is there anything in the Bible that could relate to Advent? Well yes, but it’s not just about Jesus’ birth, it’s also about his Second Coming.

In Luke 21:25-36, Jesus talks about us being on our guard and ready for the Coming of the Son of Man:

Be on your guard! Don’t let yourselves become occupied with too much feasting or drinking and with the worries of life, or the Day may suddenly catch you like a trap.

Good News Bible, Luke 21:34-35

From this we can see that the Coming could happen at any time, and probably when we least expect. And we should constantly be preparing for our time with our Lord

But I also think this could have a more down-to-earth application. This season of Advent could be the start of something new for us. Perhaps we should open our eyes to the world around us and look for possible new paths in our lives. We have just seen that Jesus says we should not be too occupied by the worries of life; perhaps there is a new door waiting to be opened that we have just not seen because we are to busy to notice it. It may well have been there for sometime or it could have just appeared in front of us.

So here’s my thought for this Advent season: take your time and have a good look around you. Take note of the opportunities that may be there – new hobbies, new jobs, new relationships. And ask yourself whether God has put that opportunity there for you to take? If you’re unsure, talk to Him about it, after all He does listen to us and give us signs as to what he wants us to do.

Annoying drivers

November 29, 2009

Ok, this is a little bit of a rant, and a bit of an open letter to any of those drivers I come across on a daily basis whilst out delivering the mail

  • When my van is parked at the side of the road, with it’s hazard lights flashing, the back doors open and me getting something from the back, there’s a pretty good chance I’m not actually going anywhere! It’s no use driving right up behind me before deciding to take avoiding action! Or beeping your horn and waving at me to get me to move!
  • Again when I’m parked up with the lights flashing and emptying a pillar box, it’s not my fault if someone coming the other way decides to stop alongside me a blocks the road! Again, beeping your horn and waving at me is not going to make me go any faster!
  • When I’m coming out of a blind exit from a drive, you can probably see me before I can see you. That’s why I pull out very slowly until I can actually see the road. And when I’ve stopped with the front of the vehicle sticking out into the road it’s because that’s where I have to be to see YOU! It’s no good waving a fist or glaring at me for getting in your way as you swerve round me. You could very easily stop and let me out.
  • And what do my indicators mean? Well when I put the left one on and brake it means I’m either going to turn left or stop. It’s quite simple, so why do you beep at me when I stop???
  • And the right indictor, usually followed by me braking and sometimes stopping means I want to turn right! (I see you’re getting the hang of this now!). If you’re driving towards me and can see that I want to turn right into a driveway, is it really going to impede you that much by letting me turn?
  • And finally, if you approaching a set of RED traffic lights, and I’m trying to cross the road on foot, why oh why can you not just stop and let me cross? You can only go a few more yards anyway before you have to stop!

Sorry, all those things happened to me today, and in fact most of them happen most days. Right, rant over.

Lay of the Trilobite

November 27, 2009

I heard this the over day and found it slightly amusing. If you don’t then I’m sorry.

A mountain’s giddy height I sought,
Because I could not find
Sufficient vague and mighty thought
To fill my mighty mind;
And as I wandered ill at ease,
There chanced upon my sight
A native of Silurian seas,
An ancient Trilobite.

So calm, so peacefully he lay,
I watched him even with tears:
I thought of Monads far away
In the forgotten years.
How wonderful it seemed and right,
The providential plan,
That he should be a Trilobite,
And I should be a Man!

And then, quite natural and free
Out of his rocky bed,
That Trilobite he spoke to me
And this is what he said:
‘I don’t know how the thing was done,
Although I cannot doubt it;
But Huxley – he if anyone
Can tell you all about it;

‘How all your faiths are ghosts and dreams,
How in the silent sea
Your ancestors were Monotremes –
Whatever these may be;
How you evolved your shining lights
Of wisdom and perfection
From Jelly-Fish and Trilobites
By Natural Selection.

‘You’ve Kant to make your brains go round,
Hegel you have to clear them,
You’ve Mr Browning to confound,
And Mr Punch to cheer them!
The native of an alien land
You call a man and brother,
And greet with hymn-book in one hand
And pistol in the other!

‘You’ve Politics to make you fight
As if you were possessed:
You’ve cannon and you’ve dynamite
To give the nations rest:
The side that makes the loudest din
Is surest to be right,
And oh, a pretty fix you’re in!’
Remarked the Trilobite.

‘But gentle, stupid, free from woe
I lived among my nation,
I didn’t care – I didn’t know
That I was a Crustacean.*
I didn’t grumble, didn’t steal,
I never took to rhyme:
Salt water was my frugal meal,
And carbonate of lime.’

Reluctantly I turned away,
No other word he said;
An ancient Trilobite, he lay
Within his rocky bed.
I did not answer him, for that
Would have annoyed my pride:
I merely bowed, and raised my hat,
But in my heart I cried: –

‘I wish our brains were not so good,
I wish our skulls were thicker,
I wish that Evolution could
Have stopped a little quicker;
For oh, it was a happy plight,
Of liberty and ease,
To be a simple Trilobite
In the Silurian seas!’

by May Kendall

Something a little different

November 26, 2009

Something different to the normal post today. A friend on Facebook shared this and I just had to put up here. It combines two of my all time favourite things. Enjoy!

Apple update #2 (last one!)

November 25, 2009

Well as you know I’ve been having an ongoing discussion with Apple about the fact that I couldn’t log in to the iTunes store: Apple Fail and Apple Update

Well I emailed them to say that I had finally got control of the account and that all of the security details had been changed

Hi Jeremiah

Thanks for your help. I have control of my account again now.

For your information, not only had my Apple ID name changed, but also my date of birth had been altered. And the security question and answer had been changed to random letters. It really looked like someone had hacked into my account. Luckily no purchases had been made


That was Wednesday. On Friday I received a reply from my “friend” Jeremiah. And I’m pleased to reproduce it here

Dear Paul,

You’re very welcome. As always, I’m here to provide you the best support you deserve.

Nothing makes Apple happier than to hear that we have pleased our customers. I hope that you continue to enjoy the iTunes Store.

Thank you for being a part of the iTunes family Paul. It has truly been a pleasure assisting you. I wish you the best, and I hope that the rest of your day is beautiful.




So they really don’t seem to care about the fact that my account had possibly been hacked. That’s nice.

Really makes me want to trust them and use them in the future


November 24, 2009

In quantum mechanics there is a theory that says an object can exist in more than one state at any one time. The simple act of observing that item determines what state it is in when we observe it. This is best demonstrated by the thought experiment known as Schrödinger’s cat. In this experiment a cat is placed in a sealed box along with a radioactive source, a Geiger counter and a flask of poison. At some point, the radioactive source will decay, and the radiation will be detected by the Geiger counter. When this happens, the flask of poison is broken and the poor old cat dies. However, from the outside, because the box is sealed, there is no way of telling whether the cat is alive or dead at any particular moment. It can be said that the cat is both alive and dead. It is only when we open the box and look inside that the outcome has to be determined. At this point, the cat is either alive or dead.

In life we often find ourselves in similar situations. We need to know the answer top a question, but by simply asking that question could alter the outcome. Take for example the situation where two people have known each other for a very long time and are really good friends. One day, one of them realises that what they feel for the other is more than friendship but is unsure how the other person feels. If they were to ask then the follow situations could happen:

  1. The other person feels the same, and they go on to have a happy relationship together.
  2. The other person does not feel the same, but they manage to carry on as if nothing had happened with their very good friendship.
  3. The other person does not feel the same and is now uncomfortable with the friendship and ends it.

From this it can be seen that simply by letting the other person know how they felt, the friendship ends. The fact that they didn’t feel the same is not the determining factor, it was the fact that they now knew how the first person felt that altered the situation. If the first person had not made the second aware of their feelings, they would have carried on with the friendship. Simply asking had altered the outcome. In this situation it may have been better not to say anything and just carry on with the friendship as if nothing had changed.

The difference between life and quantum mechanics though is that sometimes we really need to know the answer. Not knowing can give us all kinds of problems from anxiety to stress. In fact it could make the situation worse. We could see  signs in everything the other person says or does, either to us, or to other people. We begin to imagine things, and this could really mess up your head.

I have a friend who is going through this situation. Only in her case it isn’t just a case of “does he feel the same about me as I do him?” there are other factors as well. She reads things in to his actions with other people that really upset her. At the moment she has chosen not to say anything and just carry on as friends. She values his friendship more than her happiness.

What would I do? I don’t know. In the past I’ve always played the coward and opted for the friendship and not said anything. But that doesn’t mean it’s the best solution or what I would do in the future. But I do know that sometimes it’s not the potential answer that is what your afraid of, it’s the possibility of losing everything just because you’ve asked. And I also know that the uncertainty can sometimes be very hard to live with.

What would you do dear reader? Would you risk everything just to know the answer? Or would you settle just for the friendship? I know some of you will say that you should ask God for a sign, but if you’ve read my previous post on the blank piece of paper you will know that sometimes even his signs are not always as clear as we would like them.


November 23, 2009

Well it looks like they’ve finally done it! The Large Hadron Collider (LHC) has finally produced a collision.

Over a year after it was originally turned on, way back in September 2008, and after months of repairs it appears to be working as it was intended.

This was only a low-energy collision and is just a step towards the goal of a high-energy one which is hoped to shed light on some of the mysteries of the universe. It will be some time yet before they have a chance of looking for the elusive Higgs Boson

The LHC was first operational on September 10th 2008, but just a few days later a single solder joint failed causing a major failure in the experiment. It took several weeks to bring the collider up to a temperature where the engineers could work on it, and then several months of repairs and checks to ensure it wouldn’t happen again. Finally the whole thing had to be cooled down to a temperature 1.9K (approx -271°C) again taking several months.

It won’t be until probably 2011 at the earliest that a full power high energy collision will occur. So we have a long wait for the results of the largest physics experiment in the world.