Monday, 30 November 2015

Organ Donation

If you live in Wales, today is the last day of opt-in organ donation. From tomorrow, December 1st 2015, the presumption will be in favour of organ donation rather than against it. In other words, instead of having to opt in to become an organ donor, from tomorrow you will have to opt out.

Lots of countries use the opt out system, including Spain, Austria and Belgium, so it's not exactly groundbreaking. It is new to the UK though and it's exciting news for the nearly 400 people waiting for organ transplants in Wales. Across the UK there are over 7,000 people on the waiting list, and about 1,200 die each year because of the shortage of suitable organs.

The new system is aimed at improving that figure by increasing the number of potential donors. Because, while polls suggest 90% of the Welsh population supports organ donation, only around 30% are actually signed up as a donor. It's effort and, as we all know, humans prefer procrastination.

Graphic: one organ donor can save eight lives
From a post with more in-depth info on UK organ donation.

Of course, when the idea first hit the public domain there were concerns of potential abuse. To allay those fears the new law will only apply to individuals over the age of 18 who die in Wales after being resident here for at least a year. Relatives will still have the right to refuse consent, just as they do under the current opt-in system.

I understand why some people personally don't want to donate their organs - there are religious reasons, personal reasons, all kinds of reasons. But, if you feel that strongly against it, all you need to do is register HERE.

If the new system saves just one extra life then, as far as I'm concerned, it will be well worth it.

Update 2018: The new system was slow to deliver any notable results; numbers of deceased organ donors actually fell in 2016. It's difficult to say to what extent that is the law or a drop in eligible donors. The stats show us categorically that familial consent is up from 44.4% in 2014 to 64.5% in 2017, but there were still 21 cases where the family overrode presumed consent (and in some cases actual stated consent of the deceased) of eligible donors in 2016/17.

A new public information campaign is underway in response to this because support for the law is generally high. Consent rates in Wales are now at 72%, with approximately 24.3 donors per million population. Hopefully this will begin to translate to noticeably increased transplant rates.

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Politics and Opinion

Sunday, 29 November 2015

This Week #11

On Monday we had a really interesting seminar at work delivered by Mariam Elmirghani from BAWSO, a women's aid service specifically aimed at BME communities, to commemorate the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women (Nov 25th). After that we finished off the budget scrutiny session from last week. On Tuesday I had school governors at Maendy Primary, then the once weekly excitement of food shopping.

Thursday I spent pretty much the whole day cleaning the house, though looking around today you'd never know it. My mum had Marianna on Friday night so Anthony and I could go to the Torfaen CLP (Constituency Labour Party) Christmas dinner in Blaenavon. On Saturday we just stayed home and recovered...

Me and Anthony
On Friday night.

☆ READING: December 17th 1949 issue of Picturegoer magazine. I scanned it in for the blog, then sold it on eBay. One down, 70-odd to go...

☆ WRITING: About Anthony's deceptive nature... Read more HERE.

WATCHING: I watched Kind Hearts and Coronets (1949) for the first time on BBC4 the other night - I highly recommend it! British comedy doing what it does best. 

☆ LISTENING: Miss Polly Had A Dolly. Over and over (and over) again.

☆ WEARING: Hair clips.

☆ EATING: Finishing off the Japan Candy Box - you can read my review HERE.

☆ FEELING: Tired.

I put together my first media kit and updated my review of the Tippitoes Bouncer with a great video of Marianna, now well over the recommended age, bouncing like her life depends upon it!

Saturday, 28 November 2015

Age of Deception

Age is nothing but a number graphic

I recently found out that Anthony has been lying to me for years. Not over the usual things, like whether or not he actually bothered to empty the bin or if, in fact, he did bask in the glow of the central heating all day when I specifically told him to turn it off. (It's what jumpers are for.) Nope, this was a lie over a rather odd issue for a man in his 20s - his age.

When we met I told Anthony, with about 75% seriousness, that I would never date anybody younger than me. In turn, Anthony told me that he was born in July '88, about three weeks before me. Crisis averted.

Over the next few years I brought up that '88 birth date countless times. From form filling, how annoying it was that we had been in the first cohort to take the compulsory Welsh second language GCSE, how cool it was to have been born in the year of the dragon. You know, all the important things.

What I'm saying is that Anthony had countless opportunities to come clean. Because the truth is that he was born in July '89, almost a full year after me. I had to check his birth certificate and everything because I couldn't believe he would have kept up with such a weird lie for so long.

He had.

On the one hand, it's kind of sweet. He was so determined I was the one he was willing to confuse the hell out of everyone who knew him every time I brought up birthdays. On the other, it's just a little bit strange. And who knows what other skeletons are shoved in the back of his closet?

Anthony, I have my eye on you!

Friday, 27 November 2015

Tippitoes Vibrating Bouncer

I reviewed this bouncer back in February, but it deserves an updated post. The bouncer is designed for babies from birth to six months, with its comfy seat and vibrate function which is meant to keep infants both relaxed and entertained. Marianna is now 11 months old and refuses to be parted from it, even though her legs stick out the end and you can't help but question how comfortable it can be. But, it can do this, which cracks me up every time -

My original review: The Tippitoes bouncer is super bright and colourful, with a vibrate function, rattle toys, and it plays music into the bargain. :)

It went together pretty easily and, after some hassle trying to work out how to get the batteries in, Marianna seemed to really enjoy it right from the get go. The chair plays rock-a-bye baby, as well as wave and running water noises. The electronic tone is much less annoying than on many I've heard too. It retails for around £40 on Amazon, but my mum managed to pick up a factory stock model for £15 with free shipping. (To be fair, she has many years of bargain hunting experience on me!)

Just another reason to love spending time at nanny and bampy's...

Friday Frolics

Thursday, 26 November 2015

Picturegoer, December 17th 1949

December 17th 1949 issue of Picturegoer, initially a monthly magazine between 1921 and 1925 before returning as a weekly in 1931. The best bits of this issue are ideas for accessorising your Christmas party dress (page 19), and the letters page (page 3) featuring a letter from across the pond asking, 'Why do English film companies let American distributors of their pictures put out such trashy and misleading advertising material? Take The Blue Lagoon, for instance. This charming picture was advertised by sexy posters which gave the moviegoer the idea that he would see a semi-obscene saga of illicit love.'

There is also a great article on 'What Price Glamour?' (page 9). The writer argues that Hollywood has seen 'a significant shift from the synthetic to the real'. Gone are the synthetic blonde bombshells of the Jean Harlow variety, and in their place are stars who, Picturegoer claims, wear hardly any make-up at all like Olivia de Havilland, Ingrid Bergman and Joan Fontaine. 'The Hollywood emphasis upon glamour in the old sense is on its way out - and I don't think we will mind.'

Click HERE to read as one document, or click on the thumbnail pictures below to enlarge individual pages. (If it just goes into picture viewer mode, right click and opt for view image in a new tab so you can enlarge it to its fullest.)


Wednesday, 25 November 2015

My First Media Kit

Everything you need to create 'my first media kit'

All the cool kids (well, blogs) have one so, naturally, I had to get one too...

What is a Media Kit?

A Media or Press Kit is basically an introduction to your blogging brand. Normally one to two sides of A4, it sums up what you are about - and what you have to offer potential collaborators.

What Should It Include?

At its most basic, a media kit should include an up-to-date photo, a short bio, and preferred contact details. Your blog logo or header, what you're looking for from those reading it - advertising, review opportunities, sponsored posts, etc - and your social media statistics are also must haves. When it comes to the latter, don't feel you have to include every network you're signed up to. Pick and choose which ones show off you and your blog to its best advantage.

Other good ideas of things to feature are your blog traffic figures (monthly page views and unique monthly visitors), your DA (Domain Authority), and your reader demographics. You can cull all that info from Google Analytics and

Media kit checklist

As your blog becomes more established, you might also want to include awards you've won, your media appearances, and the other brands you have worked with. You don't really want your kit to run to more than one or two sides of A4 however, so you could create a separate 'price guide' to include as and when you see fit.

Ideally, you should update it each month, and provide a PDF download link on your contact page or similar.

How Do I Get One?

The easiest way is to make your own. I used Canva, the free online graphic design platform, and used my blog banner and background to create a template. The great thing about Canva is that you can go back in and edit at any time, and save in .jpg, .png and .pdf formats. The .pdf format also allows you to put clickable links into your kit.

my media kit template
My media kit template.

There are also websites out there specifically geared towards creating media kits. Zine, for instance, just asks you to fill out a form, link up your social media, and it will provide live data, including audience demographics. (So far I've found Zine to be very glitchy, but I'm sure they will keep improving over the coming months.)

Previous Kits:
November 2015. -  January 2016. - February 2016. - March 2016. - April 2016. - July 2016. - September 2016.

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Blogging Guides

Tuesday, 24 November 2015

My Mobile Phone History

Not too long ago my mum came across her old Nokia, complete with the shiniest, goldest, most awful fascia you've ever seen. It got me thinking about my own phone history, which resulted in this post...

My Mobile Phone History (pinnable)

Philips C12
Philips C12 handset

My nan gave me this phone after winning it at bingo in 2000, back when I was 11 years old. I was so excited in spite of the fact I had nobody to stay in touch with on it. (Even if it was only 12p a text!) You could get your daily horoscope on it though, so we all used to check it out on our way to school.

Nokia 3310
Nokia 3310 handset

Next up was the trusty Nokia 3310, the phone of choice for seemingly everyone. It had cool clip on covers available at every market stall (like that gold monstrosity which kicked this post off) and Snake. Who didn't love Snake?

Sagem myC-3b
sagem myc-3b handset
Mine was silver and blue.

Things were simple back in the day (2004) and I was a huge fan of this phone because of the way it fit in my hand, and the satisfying snap it made when you opened and closed it. Others in my circle were not as impressed and it was dubbed 'the toilet seat' because of its shape...

Nokia 7373
Nokia 7373 pink phone

Part of Nokia's L'Armour fashion collection, the 7373 was released in 2006 boasting a 2 MP camera, 8x digital zoom, and a fabric tag sticking out the side of it. I loved this phone for the way it swiveled - round, and round, and round - though I was most upset when a character on Eastenders got it not long after I did, and turned it into a must have chav accessory. Still, I have very fond memories of the shutter noise it made when taking pictures, and the tinny sound of its speakers as it blared out my ringtone of choice (the Alvin and the Chipmunks theme tune).

Nokia 7373 Selfie
Taking a selfie before it was even called a selfie!

Samsung ???
samsung slide handset
I'm not sure which handset it was exactly, but similar to this one.

It was a big shift going from the weighty 7373 to the next one as it was pretty flimsy feeling. It did have a nice clicking sound when you slid it up and down though, and certainly looked more grown up. It didn't have much online capability though, and by the time my contract was coming to an end I was really feeling its limitations.

BlackBerry Bold 9780
BlackBerry Bold 9780 handset

Getting my first BlackBerry felt like I'd truly joined the working world. I spent all my time texting, emailing, and tweeting with that beautiful QWERTY keypad.

BlackBerry Bold 9790
BlackBerry Bold 9790 handset

I was never as much of a fan of the 9790 which I got in 2012. I mean, sure, it was more powerful, but it just didn't feel as substantial as its predecessor. It also had a touch screen which I didn't like. What was the point when you already had the track pad? By this time every man and his dog was switching to the all touch screen experience but I'm a) stubborn and b) have a weird dislike of touchscreen typing.

BlackBerry Passport
BlackBerry Passport handset

I upgraded to the BlackBerry Passport in April this year. It's taken plenty of flack, I know, but the large screen makes it so useful for work which is what BlackBerry has always been about. With this you don't need a laptop or even a tablet, it can handle agendas, spreadsheets, and is still just about small enough to fit in a clutch bag. ...And it has a keypad. I really hate typing on a touchscreen, so now the Passport is all that stands between me and one of those Doro phones your nan has.

It was weird seeing pictures of something I'd spent so many hours of my life looking at. Each one brought back memories of what I was doing when I owned that particular phone, who I was texting - who I was hoping was going to text me - and how each one provided me with new ways to fidget and ignore the world around me...

How many phones have you had? And which one was your favourite?

For more on the history - and evolution - of the mobile phone, check out the awesome timeline by Tiger Mobiles. Lots of great trivia there! :D

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