Moving sucks

This is the rant and rave section and I’m in the mood to have a go!

I guess I’m not actually having a go at anyone or anything in particular.  What’s got my goat is moving.  I HATE moving, even if it’s to a nicer place.  Despite never being that much of a materialist, I seem to have obtained a huge amount of worthless rubbish in my time: magazines, DVDs, books, little trinkets from travelling, etc, etc.  They add up so quickly it’s ridiculous.  I thought packing to move would be a one week job at the maximum but it looks like it’s going to take HOURS.

My mates insisted that I should label everything so I don’t lose track of it, so I went to www.data-label.co.uk to pick up some bits to help get everything organised.  Even just sticking labels on all the boxes seemed to take hours.  I could have labelled at least four of the boxes “Stuff that I don’t really need to take with me and should probably get rid of.”   How does something like labelling take that long?

It’s amazing in a way just how much rubbish a man can build up in ten years.  Obviously I don’t want to sound too bitter as the new place looks great and I’m really happy to be going, but it’d be absolutely great just to have a magic wand, wave it and for all of the moving to be done.  I’m obviously excited, but I could really do without all this damn packing!

Here’s hoping I lighten up a bit when everything’s done!

How Paul taught me not to push It

It’s a funny old world, singledom.  I’ve written before about the various perks of not having a long-term partner – and there are a few of them!  I’m sure some of my friends are a bit jealous that I get to sit and listen to old records, whilst eating a takeaway curry, without having to worry about picking the kids up or cleaning for the in-laws visit at the weekend.  (No in-laws: also a benefit).   Obviously, though, I’d still like to meet someone.

I do ask friends for advice and the biggest tip I get is probably this – don’t force it.  Most people who struggle to meet new people tend to try and overdo it.  They’ll head out on the town and immediately start talking to every member of the opposite sex that they meet.  It’s tricky trying to get that combination of confidence and chattiness without seeming too desperate!

I think, however, that there might be something in it.  I only say so because, recently, Paul (a guy I work with and sometimes have a few beers with) seems to have met the right person.  You can always tell when someone meets the right person because, rather than rant and rave about whether they’re right, they basically disappear for weeks at a time, only emerging for work and food.  When pressed about the new relationship, they all just say “Yeah, I’m happy” and that’s about it!

Paul, interestingly, was always telling me before about how desperate he was for a partner.  He constantly went out to nightclubs and was always getting friends to set him up on blind dates.  I’ve never seen anyone that committed to meeting someone.  Somehow, though, it always ended up going wrong for one reason or another.

A week before he met Lucy (his new lady – that’s the only information about her I’ve managed to get from him so far) he said to me that he was done.  “Steve, that’s me finished with trying to date.  I’m going to focus on this book” (he’s an aspiring novelist) “so stop worrying.”

Literally a week later, he meets the girl of his dreams.  It makes you wonder, doesn’t it?

Think before you buy – especially if you are buying a boat

A friend of mine has just bought a boat.  Now this sounds a little crazy, but he actually lives by a lake and it is only a small boat for fishing, and generally a bit of messing around in.  He isn’t some kind of playboy with a yacht or two in Monaco, even though he wishes he were!  Buying the boat was straightforward, and everything went smoothly until it came to the delivery charge.  The company he bought it from was only about 20 miles away, but their delivery charge is standard across the country and it seemed a ridiculous amount for the few miles they would be going, so my mate said he’d pick it up himself, and they said fine.

That’s when things got complicated.  It turns out that transporting a boat, even a small one, isn’t as straightforward as you would think.  You need a special boat-shaped trailer and so on, and he really hadn’t considered this, the fool.  After ringing around a few friends, surprisingly none of whom had a trailer for a boat, I remembered a previous occasion when I had needed a car transporting.  I’d found this equally difficult having bought a car without any tax or MOT from the other side of the country which, to be fair, makes me just as foolish as my mate.  I’d managed to find somewhere that would pick it up for me, but it made the cost of the whole thing a lot more than I’d intended when I bought a cheap banger from the internet with the intention of tinkering with it.

I guess the moral of the tale is to think before you jump in with both feet, especially when you are buying something huge, impractical and probably that you will be selling again shortly (the car sat in the garage untouched for a few months before I stuck it on eBay at a loss).

Drug paraphernalia – great in the kitchen?

It seems that you can buy all kinds of things online, and drug paraphernalia is no exception.  I’m not talking about anything hard-core, just cannabis seeds and other pot smoking items.  All this is legal, as is buying cannabis seeds; it just isn’t legal to grow them.

Seems a little strange?  That is how the law in this country works.  It is illegal to grow, distribute or sell cannabis, as well as possess it, but you can buy everything you need for all of these activities.  Scales, bongs, grinders and cannabis seeds are all for sale openly online.

Isn’t this a little strange?  I’m not sure how the companies that sell these things online are able to do so without getting in trouble, but I’m told that a lot of their products are great for other uses.  There are really cute digital scales that masquerade as other things, such as energy drink cans and CDs, and won’t take up much room in a smaller kitchen, as well as grinders that make short work of fresh herbs.  But does anyone really believe that the products sold on these sites are headed for the kitchens of the nation?  I’m pretty sure we aren’t that naïve.

It seems strange to allow the open selling of everything to do with smoking cannabis right up to and including the seeds themselves, but still have serious penalties for actually possessing it.  Maybe this country should follow the example of Colorado and legalise cannabis – at least then we could tax it and make some cash!

Take a gamble on Forex

Now stock trading is a gamble in reality, and so is the Forex market, but are there systems out there that can help you to choose the right trades to make?  I’ve had a look into it and it seems pretty straightforward, until you really look properly …

On the face of it, Forex trading is just buying and selling foreign currency, the same as you do at the foreign exchange when you go on holiday.  It’s easy, right?  Well, as it turns out, no.

Trading stocks and share can only be done when the relevant market is open, but with Forex you can trade at any time, although the weekends are generally excluded.  It is a very fast moving market and really not for the novice investor, but it is easy to learn with a demo account.  This lets you trade with theoretical money until you are happy with the real thing, which is a great way to try out this kind of investment.

The other way of getting help with Forex trading is to use a Forex robot.  These are computer programs that look for a predefined set of conditions and alert you when they occur, with the intention of predicting the way the market is moving and, therefore, when to buy and sell.  These robots don’t make the decisions for you; they just let you know when the conditions that you set are met, so you still need to decide on your own rules.

If you want to trade Forex then I recommend that you try out a robot and a demo account first.  This will give you an idea of how fast the market moves and how quickly you can lose (or gain) money before you risk the real thing.  Happy trading!

High-speed rail powers ahead

As a businessperson who frequently travels the country, I am excited about the recently announced plans for an increase in high-speed rail services in Britain.  Whether on business or leisure, going by rail is a great way to get around the country.  I can bring my work onto the train with me and do it while in transit.  Alternatively, if I am taking a break away from work, I can relax on board with a drink and not have to worry about being breathalysed, as I would if I were driving.  I find rail travel to be more relaxing overall and, provided there aren’t any long, frustrating delays to my journey, I tend to arrive at my destination rather chilled out.

High-speed rail will increase the attraction of rail travel for many people and make it more convenient.  The news plan is for two branches going north out of Birmingham, a city I visit often.  The two branches would run to Leeds and Manchester.  Phase One of the high-speed rail project focuses on the route between London and Birmingham.  The plans have faced opposition, particularly from those who oppose them on the grounds that swathes of the countryside will be harmed.  But the government appears determined to proceed.  The trains running between London and Birmingham would be expected to travel at speeds of up to 250 miles per hour.

I am going to have to wait sometime before seeing the benefits of high-speed rail.  Construction of the route between London and Birmingham is scheduled to commence around 2017.