My place to share lots of photographs of my random crafty, makery, bakery and cookery projects, as well as random thoughts that might strike me and are too long for Twitter...

Friday, 25 January 2013

Give Blood...

On Tuesday (hereafter known about these parts as "Bruiseday". . . for reasons which will become clear later) I went to give blood. I'd never been before, and I have to say, despite this advert and it's persuasive tones (mmm...Sean Bean...) I didn't think I ever would actually get around to it.

However, the latest bizarre twist in my Mum's on-going saga is that (we think) she isn't producing enough blood. Which means that, every few weeks, she has to go for an infusion and get topped up.

I never thought of blood being used like that. Surgeries, accidents, transfusions...That's what I thought of when I thought of people needing blood. Not people who need it just because they don't have enough/don't make enough. I decided that well, if Mum's going to use it, someone had better put some back! So after meaning to for months I gave my information to the blood donor stand that appeared where I work, the call came, and a month or so later off I went.

I'm not going to lie, it wasn't exactly fun. But who honestly expects being stabbed with long needles to be fun? It wasn't hard either! If you're scared, tell them you're scared. They were lovely anyway but they were even more lovely when I said that I was a bit nervous! I have to say though, it's probably easier for other people who are slimmer. The nurse kindly said I had "bashful veins". Which I believe loosely translates as "being pudgy makes it harder to find your veins, especially when they try their best to hide anyway". Which translated to them spending about 25mins trying to find a vein.

First you have a little finger-prick iron test, which I failed, meaning that they had to do the big iron test (apparently this is unusual/not normal, so don't worry). A nurse tried in vain to find a vein (teehee) for about 10mins with no success. So little success in fact that at one point, as I was breathing deeply and staring fixedly out of the window trying to think happy thoughts, she said "Oops!" Now, I don't know about you, but pretty high on my "Things I Never Want To Hear From Someone Putting A Needle Into My Arm" list is the word "Oops!". The extent of her oops is still revealing itself on daily basis in the shape of an expanding bruise on my arm:

Tuesday night...Entry and surrounding bruise.
Friday night...It seems to have finished growing (3-4", not bad for one needle hole!), now for it to fade! :S She did a damn good job on me!

From what I gather from the very kind (and much better at vein-finding) man who she called in to help, she went through the vein instead of into it. Gross. But hey, now you know that even if things go a bit wrong, you don't die and it's not that bad. :) Of course, Super Vein-Finder Guy did the actual donation (after my iron levels were approved. . . You can't donate if your iron levels are below 125). It still took 15mins to find a vein, at one point he tentatively mentioned giving up and trying again another day, until I pointed out that I'd spent longer looking for a parking space than he'd spent looking for a vein (and paid £2.40 for the minimum up to 4hrs hospital parking), so could he please give it a few more tries. Which he gamely did, and eventually set me up.

Surprisingly it's very quick to get a pint of blood out, and what with all the distractions (did you know you are supposed to keep clenching/unclenching not only your hand to make the donation smoother, but also your butt when you donate blood to stop you fainting (or some such side effect)? Me neither) I was pretty surprised when they came to un-hook me.

So basically, it's not gross, if I hadn't have looked I wouldn't have even seen any blood OR any needles, it doesn't really hurt (even though the nurse ran me through with the needle it's just regular bruisey sore), no fainting, or puking, AND you get drinks, a biscuit and a sticker. What more reason do you need? If you do need more reasons, if you give enough blood you get a keyring, and different coloured donor cards, and eventually a crystal trophy for 100 pints. Plus, you're automatically an awesome life-saving type of person. But don't forget the sticker and the keyring and the trophy. ;)

Please, please think about saving someone's life and signing up as a blood donor. I hope I haven't put you off (no-one's squeamish about bruises, right?!). You'll be fine. Nothing bad will happen. Only good things will happen. Great things might happen. Someone might live because of you.

One day you might be glad someone else gave blood . . . make someone else glad that you did too.

www.redcrossblood.org (USA)

Tuesday, 15 January 2013

"Why Me?"

I have friends who, for no fault of their own, seem to get picked on rather a lot. In a conversation recently, one said to me "I don't know why they pick on ME..."

This is (basically) what I tell them:

The long answer? Some people say that people bully others because they see traits they don't like in themselves in that person. I'm sure in some cases that's true, but you know what? I think they see what they DON'T have (and you do) first. That still doesn't make it your fault. It means that they can't come up to you and say "Hey, that's nice. Wish I had/was/could..."

Maybe you're better looking than them, maybe you're smarter or more talented or more popular. Maybe you have more money, fewer financial commitments, more/better/newer possessions. Maybe you have fewer worries, more friends, a partner, a better relationship with your parents/family than they do. Maybe you're just happier than they are.

Sometimes, I swear that has a lot to do with it. People talk about "putting others down", but usually, if you look closer, you find it's not someone putting someone down, it's unhappy people trying to pull happy people down to their level. As Scrooge says in "A Christmas Carol" (Muppet or otherwise): "What right have you to be merry. . .You're poor enough." and that's the mentality. "Why should you be happy, when I think you have flaws I don't consider myself to have?" "Why do you deserve happiness when I dislike things about you, and I can't be happy?" They might decide to call you fat, or ugly, or stupid, or lazy, or old, or whatever. That doesn't mean that you are. Some people just can't stand that they consider you to be below them for whatever reason, and yet you still have what they don't, and think they deserve to have. Maybe they do deserve to have it. But it's not your fault that they don't, and you shouldn't suffer for it.

The internet sadly makes it even easier to bully someone. The 24/7 ability to attack someone, and hide behind a computer screen whilst you do it. Very often that's even worse. When in "real life" would you feel OK wandering up to someone and telling them to kill themselves, that you are going to turn up at their house and hurt them, that they are worthless, or that they'd be better off dead? If you would feel OK doing that, then you have a serious problem, and you need to get help. If you only feel comfortable doing it on the internet, heck, my advice would still be the same. You have a serious problem, and you need to get help.

If a food irritates your stomach, you stop eating it. If a product irritates your skin, you stop using it. So why when a person irritates you (for whatever reason) do you punish them for being in your life, instead of just cutting them out of it? If someone has a wheat allergy and continues to eat regular bread, we'd say they were pretty stupid. So why is it less stupid to continually expose yourself to someone who irritates you so much that you have to be cruel to them? It's not their fault that they have what you don't. Maybe it's not yours either. But if you choose to keep that person in your life when you could remove them from it and make you both happier in the long run, THAT is your fault. And if you keep them around just so that you can pick on them, so that you can put them down to make yourself feel better, try and embarrass them in front of your friends to make yourself look big and clever, then the worst thing you are doing to them is staying in their life. You're a toxic person. Stop leaching your problems and issues onto other people and take a long hard look in the mirror. The problem isn't theirs. It's YOURS and the longer you avoid it, the worse it will get.

A friend of mine told me the other day about the internet meme going around about drains and radiators. The short version is that radiators bring warmth and positivity into your life. Drains take away from you, they are the minus, the negative. A good long version can be found here, should you wish to read it. Bullies are drains.

The short answer? It could be, perhaps, that their shoes are too tight. Or it could be that their head wasn't screwed on just right. But I think that the most likely reason of all... may have been that their heart is two sizes too small.

That's just my opinions on the matter. I might be right, I might be wrong. Maybe a little of both. Either way, if you are being bullied, don't suffer alone.


I'm going to end with some links.

The Samaritans
Anti-Bullying Alliance

Monday, 14 January 2013

R.I.P. MSN Messenger :(

On March 15th 2013, Microsoft are retiring MSN Messenger, and replacing it with Skype. This makes me very sad for numerous reasons:

I for one will be very upset the day MSN Messenger blips it's last. I got to know, and fell in love with, my husband on MSN Messenger. It kept us in touch when he was away at University for three years. It keeps us in touch now when he works night shifts. I'm attached to it. More nights than I can count I've sat up into the early hours (so early I got my internet cut off (well, my parents took the cable away) at one point), waiting for that little beep and another message.

I like creating my own emoticons. As far as I know, you cannot do this on Skype. I will lose my smiley in a Mickey ears hat. My bunnies, my smileys that all have certain meanings to certain people. This makes me sad.

Also, you can't (as far as I know) change the beeps. I like my MSN beeps. Before that, I liked the fact that I could change the beeps, and had an entirely Sean Bean-ed MSN (did you know there are sound clips of him shouting "SARAH!" which are short enough to be used for message alert tones? Well, now you do. You're welcome). I hate the stupid yawn noise Skype makes when it closes. And the creaky door noise. I hate all of the noises.

I can't use Skype on my phone. Obviously all the techno-geeks and iGeeks and whatever will say "That's because you have a crappy BlackBerry", but I love my BlackBerry, so screw you. It is, however, immensely annoying that I will be without MSN on my phone, even though I hardly use it any more. But, if you can get Apple Touch messenger for BlackBerry, surely Skype can lower itself to making an app.

MSN, you will be missed. (K)

Monday, 7 January 2013

Leash The Free Kids.

Now, normally when I use the phrase in my title, I'm referring to people who let their kids run rampant where I work, touching merchandise, swinging off things, and generally making a nuisance of themselves.

However, in this instance, I mean all the parents who think it is OK (because, let's face it, we can't really blame the kids, they don't know any better) to allow their children to approach strange dogs and shriek at them, lunge at them, pet them, grab at them, etc, etc, etc, without a concern in the world and certainly without asking permission.

Prompted by this report I found online today, which actually made me really angry. Reading the article, it sounds like the child attacked the Labrador and not, as declared in the headline, the other way around. You're a dog, you're tied up outside a shop (which, IMO, isn't right either for more than a couple of minutes in an emergency, but that's another matter), suddenly a mini-human appears and "Someone said the mum's back was turned for just a second and in that time the girl grabbed the dog by its neck." You can't get run away, you can't hide anywhere, you are, for all you know, being attacked by a creature that's going for your neck . . . What do you do? Dogs bite. In anger, in fear, in self-defence, dogs bite, whether you are an adult or a child.

My dog was lovely. Of course I will say that, but he was a gorgeous bundle of pure white fluff and love. But, he was bad around children, because he was born into a house with boistrous young children, and for whatever reason (we never found out what the kids of his Mum's humans did) he was always wary of them. When he was young, before he was trained, we trialled taking him out muzzled. The number of people,  men and women, young and old, who would tell their kids (without asking us) "It's safe to stroke him, he's got a muzzle on so he can't bite you." REALLY?! You see a dog (albeit a small fluffy bichon frise) with a muzzle on in public, and your first thought is "Gee, that dog must be safe around kids, I'll send mine to find out!" People like that should not be allowed to breed, and I make no apology for that opinion. Then nine times out of ten WE would get a dirty look from the parents for sending the kid away from the dog (nicely, and after explaining that he wasn't very friendly to children), or picking him up to get him away from their sticky (biteable) fingers. Now, he never bit anyone. I don't know for a fact that he would have bitten a child given the chance. But the point is that we couldn't know that he wouldn't, and so we never gave him the chance, despite people continually sending their kids over to pet him. Even when he was old and clearly had no eyes (literally), some people thought it was OK to let a child arrive unannounced by his side and pet him. Surprise, old, blind dog...Here's a poking, petting child! There were times, if it hadn't meant such severe consequences for us and him, I would gladly have let him bite whoever had approached him, especially the ones who just keep trying and trying even after being asked to go away. But our primary concern was always getting him away from them, more out of concern for his safety than theirs, I'll be 100% honest on that one.

Maybe it's harder for me to understand because I was brought up to respect animals. I was expected to ask if I could stroke any animal before approaching it, and I don't mean ask my parents, I mean ask the person with the animal, even if they were people and animals that we knew, and then, if it was OK, approach the animal gently and quietly. Even now, I don't just randomly approach a dog without talking to the owner first and asking if I can say hello to the dog.

I know some dogs have bad owners. Some dogs attack at random. They bite kids who don't seem, to our eyes, to do anything to them, and worse, babies. I firmly believe, and always will, that there is no such thing as a "bad dog". There are bad owners and misunderstood dogs, they are very common, and usually come in pairs. I know a couple of people who had dogs for years, and then had a baby, and had to re-home their dog because they discovered that the dog just wasn't happy around children. I can't imagine what it must be like to have to give up a family pet for the safety of your child, but I hope they take comfort in the fact that the did what was right for the child AND for the dog. Some people can't make that decision, or don't realise that it needs making in time, and horrible incidents occur.

I'm not excusing those irresponsible dog owners, the ones who's dogs shouldn't be off the lead, or should be muzzled in public and aren't. I've twice experienced dogs like that (you try being an Infant-school-sized child floored by a St Bernard, or a child cornered in a shop car park by the shop's two Rottweiler x German Shepherd guard dogs), and it's certainly not pleasant. But if the dog is on a lead, it's not rocket science to stop your child from getting bitten. Just keep it away from the dog that you don't know.

You wouldn't let your child wander up to a random person sat on the street outside a shop and strike up a conversation, would you (and if you think any different watch how some people scoot their kids past Big Issue sellers for no good reason)? So why some people consider it safe to allow their kids to approach an animal, with animal instincts and century's-old in-built defence mechanisms and enter their personal space without permission is beyond me.

I hope there is CCTV, and I hope that dog does not get put down. And, of course, that the little girl in question is OK and learns how to interact safely with animals. No-one should ever have to be afraid of dogs. They are wonderful!