My 2013

Standard

2013

 

Well it’s been emotional…interesting…and never without incident, but then we could all say that about every year really. Life is never in a straight line, it’s more a wibbly wobbly timey wimey..sorry that sentence got away from me. Anyway the thing is from watching the kids growing up and developing, Jill’s business finding it’s feet and her taking on a part time job, my two diagnoses, a job change from school to college and everything in between it’s not been the worst year I’ve ever experienced – not the best, but not the worst.

This blog has been a really interesting challenge for me and with the exception of one day this year I’ve blogged every day – the current tallies are sitting at over 850 blogs, more than 40,500 views, over 50 comments, 100 fellow bloggers following my output and tens of thousands of words later it’s been great. When I started this one Jan 1st around 12.30am I didn’t know if I would have anything to say – turns out I did. And as resolutions go it has helped me and also some others too along the way. I will definitely continue to blog next year but perhaps not quite as much as I have this year.

Through the blog and in life in general I’ve made a few decisions and had some wee epiphanies. The obvious ones are coming to terms with my head and dealing with what that means to my day-to-day life. Both the meds I am now on are starting to help me feel good about myself and life in general. There is less anxiety, the depression for the moment has lifted and my sleep is getting somewhere near normal levels again (although I have slept a lot this holidays, that’s not a complaint just an observation). The other thing I have realised is that it’s time for a change – the long term needs some attention again because I’ve been so focused on the here and now I really need to decide what I want to do and where I want to be in five or ten years time. Teaching is not it – well not in the current form anyway. I have loved elements of the job but there are too many things I no longer look forward to or find pleasure in – and that’s not because I’m at College now, I felt that way in School and thought a new venue and system would change things for me. Now it’s time to change direction and find a new challenge for the next decade or longer.

Stepping up to get involved in Avenue Q has really challenged me – and there is still a lot of work to be done there before everything is in place by opening night in February. It has pushed me to learn new skills, get me right out of my comfort zone and meet my alter-ego in Nicky. Having always loved the Muppets it’s as close as I’ll get to be involved with something similar. It’s also great to meet and work with new people in a creative way. I’ve been so used to working with musicians it takes a bit of time to change perspective round to the acting/performance style needed for musicals.

Writing has been the biggest eye opener for me this year though. I’m surprised at how quickly ideas have come, the ability I have to put thoughts and feelings down and to occasionally use funny or interesting turns of phrase. I’m aware that the blog is not brilliantly written in technical terms, but I do feel comfortable sitting typing away and playing about with the language. If you consider that most of my blogs are written very quickly without spending hours going over the nuances, structure or proofreading I think I have found a wee skill that could be developed further – so I’ve got two further projects involving writing for next year mapped out in my head. Watch this space.

The most difficult thing this year is learning to be so much more open than I ever have been before. To open yourself up like I have on this blog has allowed me to step out from the awkward masks I was used to hiding behind with friends and family – I feel confident enough to just be myself. Ironically the only place I don’t feel like that these days is in the classroom – the reverse of how I felt when I first started teaching. It says to me that I’ve changed a lot in the last decade and am more than comfortable in my own skin than I ever have been. The openness has caused problems on some occasions, but no more so than when you are hiding behind a persona.

So that’s 2013 – it’s been a really long year for me but one that I come out of stronger and happier than I arrived. What’s next? That’s the question; if we knew that 2014 would be so much easier. Thank you for sticking with me, supporting me and sharing with me. Let’s do it again next year.

Happy New Year to you all and I wish you and your family all the best for the forthcoming chaos that will be 2014.

JD

 

 

Quiz of 2013 – Part 4: Film

Standard

quiz

 

Here’s the final part of the quiz of the year and it tests your knowledge of some of the biggest films of the year. All the descriptions have been adapted from entries on IMDB.com all you have to do is name the films that are being described to you. And as always – nae cheating ya wee scamps!

  1. New York, 1929. Bond-seller Nick Carraway, in a sanitarium for depression and alcoholism, is persuaded by his doctor to write a therapeutic account of what put him there. Nick’s journal describes how, seven years earlier, he had moved to a tiny house on Long Island adjoining the sumptuous mansion owned by enigmatic neighbour, the fabulously wealthy lead character.
  2. The latest mission of the ship takes them deep into space to rescue an endangered species from an active volcano. However, once again the lead character’s reckless behaviour compromises the mission and nearly gets him booted from the company. Turning back to his mentor Admiral Pike, he is demoted to a cadet and has to start over.
  3. Our two lead characters are an inseparable pair, but that wasn’t always the case. From the moment these two mismatched characters met they couldn’t stand each other. This animated film unlocks the door to how they overcame their differences and became the best of friends. 
  4. Life for former United Nations investigator Gerry Lane and his family seems content. Suddenly, the world is plagued by a mysterious infection turning whole human populations into rampaging mindless zombies. After barely escaping the chaos, Lane is persuaded to go on a mission to investigate this disease. 
  5. Having left San Diego for New York City, the lead character is living the high life with his wife Veronica and son Walter. However, when the boss decides to promote Veronica to full time lead and fire him, everything changes. Now heading back to San Diego, our lead is washed up and working part time at Sea World. 
  6. A young boy learns that he has extraordinary powers and is not of this Earth. As a young man, he journeys to discover where he came from and what he was sent here to do. But the hero in him must emerge if he is to save the world from annihilation and become the symbol of hope for all mankind. 
  7. A secret laboratory near the Arctic Circle is stolen by a mysterious vehicle using a giant magnet. The Anti-Villain League (AVL) recruits former our lead character to find out which evil person stole the lab, which contained a powerful mutagen known as PX-41 which can make indestructible and extremely aggressive monsters out of living organisms. 
  8. After successfully crossing over and under the Misty Mountains, The group must seek aid from a powerful stranger before taking on the dangers of Mirkwood Forest. If they reach the human settlement of Lake-town it will be time for the lead character to fulfill his contract with the group. 
  9. In modern day Japan, our hero is out of his depth in an unknown world as he faces his ultimate nemesis in a life-or-death battle that will leave him forever changed. Vulnerable for the first time and pushed to his physical and emotional limits, he confronts not only lethal samurai steel but also his inner struggle against his own immortality, emerging more powerful than we have ever seen him before. 
  10. 1841. Black man Solomon Northup lives as a free man in Saratoga, New York with his wife and two children, he earning a living as a violinist. On what he believes will be an out of town music gig, he is instead drugged and sold into slavery in the deep south under the name Platt as that is for who the slave trader has papers.

Good luck

 

Here’s the answers to yesterday’s TV round – how did you do?

  1. The big UK TV hit of the year was Broadchurch, but what was the name of the young boy who the series revolved around? Danny Latimer
  2. Breaking Bad finished this year but what is the name of the lead character played by Bryan Cranston? Walter White
  3. Which sports star was the first celebrity to leave this year’s Strictly Come Dancing? Tony Jacklin
  4. Which show would you meet the Siddiqui family, Steph & Dom Parker and June & Leon Bernicoff? Gogglebox
  5. The Following came to our screens wth Kevin Bacon chasing a cult of serial killers, but which writer were thecult obsessed with? Edgar Allan Poe
  6. Doctor Who reached his 50tt Anniversary this year, but which actor who played the Doctor also appeared this year as “The Politician’s Husband” and “The Escape Artist”? David Tennant
  7. Black Mirror returned for a second series with a haunting episode about a virtual life after death possibility, a vigilante entertainment form and a cartoon politician to be. Who wrote and created the series? Charlie Brooker
  8. Which former X-Files star appeared in the BBC2 drama The Fall? Gillian Anderson
  9. Which former Radio 4 star crossed over to BBC2 with the help of Graham Linehan to tell his story as a former Music Hall act played by Steve Delaney? Count Arthur Strong
  10. What was the name of the prequel of Inspector Morse called that aired this year? Endeavour

I’ll put up the answers tomorrow for the film round.

JD

Granda Massie

Standard

DSCF1348

 

Doug Massie, my last remaining Grandparent turned 90 this year and I know it sounds selfish but I really worry about going to see him these days as you are never sure when your goodbye might be the last one. I’m not wishing him away or anything but each time you see him you are reminded that all those years do take their toll on the body and mind – as he says himself “Old age doesn’t come itself!” I know how very lucky I and the rest of the family are to still have him with us and in reasonable health – even more so how lucky I have been with grandparents overall having grown up knowing seven in all; Granda Massie is the last one standing which is not something you would have put money on with all the bad health he has suffered over the years.

A man of good humour and patience he has always been honest and supportive of all the family. First to volunteer to help at any point while he was still fit and able to do so – running us to appointments rather than us taking taxis, doing messages for anyone without a car or just out for a walk and popping in to the house to see you. For as long as I have known him he was a man on the go with heaps of energy, but hen time took its toll and when he lost his wife, our Granny, a couple of years ago he began to age all of a sudden. He loved her to pieces and doted on her – even though she wasn’t always the most complimentary person about him – throughout her life and especially in her illness towards the end.

You don’t really think too much about the ageing process when you are my age, you just look at the landmarks and with me being just over four years from forty I don’t really feel too old. Then once you spend time with someone who has aged over the years you’ve known them, you do start to think about family and those around you and how none of you are getting any younger. Not in a maudlin or morose way, just that you know that once the last member of the family of that generation goes it’s your parents and their siblings that take their places. Something I really don’t want to consider – my folks, aunties and uncles aren’t old in my head, but I suppose again you can’t fight time.

Last time I went to see him before today, he was sorting through his funeral arrangement paperwork – must be an age thing! You do wonder if you hit a certain age and start to think about things like that; is there a moment or a birthday where you go looking for those forms and companies – or do they come to you? I want him and all my family to live for as long as possible, but as long as they are fit and free of any kind of illness or suffering. I hope he lives to see his century as long as his health is good and he wants to be around. You do take family for granted at times and it’s easy to convince yourself that the status quo will always remain – it won’t unfortunately. That’s why you should take the opportunities to connect with family you have lost touch with and spend time getting to know them as people – not just the labels we give them.

I look forward to visiting him lots more in 2014 in his 91st year of life.

JD

 

The Blog Review 2013: Silly & Fun stories

Standard

Sun

 

As much as I use this space to deal with serious issues both personal and in the news I love some of the silly stories that appear along the way too. Having scanned through all the posts I have far too many to list here so these are just a few of my favourites from this year. I’ve selected mostly from the earlier months before many of you started reading the blog so hopefully they’ll be new to you. Enjoy!

First two are about school and revealing the secrets from behind Reports and Parents’ Evening comments http://wp.me/pJh58-9f and what really happens on In-Service days http://wp.me/pJh58-9p both of which are top-secret so don’t do anything silly like post them online for everyone to read…

Then there are two – yes two – bird poo stories – one for making music http://wp.me/pJh58-3D and one to kneel down before http://wp.me/pJh58-d6 Meanwhile in the world of the spiritual we need to watch out for both the Psychics http://wp.me/pJh58-rp and the daemons that they warn us of http://wp.me/pJh58-dg

Food and Drink also reached the blog in two very unusual ways this year – firstly the food and unfortunately for the Jewish and Muslim readers it’s a baconfest for starters http://wp.me/pJh58-iC with a strange drink to go with it, just don’t toast with the phrase “Bottoms up!” http://wp.me/pJh58-kp Of course you probably wouldn’t pick those things up in your local supermarket but if you do want to venture into one please read my guide first to ensure you reduce the anger that the trip may cause you – http://wp.me/pJh58-26

The panto villains have been lining up steadily this year with Putin taking top spot as chief Twat of the year for so many reasons, but rather than go for the obvious I enjoyed watching the continued ribbing of America’s great businessman F*ckface von Clownstick http://wp.me/pJh58-yn and also here http://wp.me/pJh58-7R For me there is a real hero of the year and you can watch “that” music video again here: http://wp.me/pJh58-sf Chris Hadfield comes across as such a great guy I hope he enjoys his retirement…however long it lasts!

Here are five other random stories from the year that tickled my fancy:

JD

Quiz of 2013 – Part 3: TV

Standard

quiz

 

What did we watch on the TV this year? Well let’s see what you can remember from the last twelve months – And remember no cheating!

  1. The big UK TV hit of the year was Broadchurch, but what was the name of the young boy who the series revolved around?
  2. Breaking Bad finished this year but what is the name of the lead character played by Bryan Cranston?
  3. Which sports star was the first celebrity to leave this year’s Strictly Come Dancing?
  4. Which show would you meet the Siddiqui family, Steph & Dom Parker and June & Leon Bernicoff?
  5. The Following came to our screens with Kevin Bacon chasing a cult of serial killers, but which writer were the cult obsessed with?
  6. Doctor Who reached his 50th Anniversary this year, but which actor who played the Doctor also appeared this year as “The Politician’s Husband” and “The Escape Artist”?
  7.  Black Mirror returned for a second series with a haunting episode about a virtual life after death possibility, a vigilante entertainment form and a cartoon politician to be. Who wrote and created the series?
  8. Which former X-Files star appeared in the BBC2 drama The Fall?
  9. Which former Radio 4 star crossed over to BBC2 with the help of Graham Linehan to tell his story as a former Music Hall act played by Steve Delaney?
  10. What was the name of the prequel of Inspector Morse called that aired this year?

 

And here are the answers to yesterday’s Music Round. How many did you get?

  1. BLURRED LINES by ROBIN THICKE & PHARRELL WILLIAMS
  2. GET LUCKY by DAFT PUNK FT PHARRELL WILLIAMS
  3. WAKE ME UP by AVICII
  4. LET HER GO by PASSENGER
  5. LA LA LA by NAUGHTY BOY FT SAM SMITH
  6. THRIFT SHOP by MACKLEMORE & RYAN LEWIS
  7. JUST GIVE ME A REASON by PINK FT NATE RUESS
  8. ROAR by KATY PERRY
  9. MIRRORS by JUSTIN TIMBERLAKE
  10. POMPEII by BASTILLE

A bonus picture round later again today!

JD

Quiz of 2013 – Part 2: Music

Standard

quiz

 

Welcome to part two of the Quiz of 2013 and today I test your knowledge of Chart music. The Answers for yesterday’s questions can be found at the bottom of today’s blog.

Today I am giving you ten songs and artists of some of the biggest selling songs from the top 40 charts this year all you have to do is work out what they are. You have been given the first letters of each word and it’s your job to fill in the blanks. And no Googling!

Good luck!

  1. B****** L**** by R**** T***** & P******* W*******

  2. G** L**** by D*** P*** FT P******* W*******

  3. W*** M* U* by A*****

  4. L** H** G* by P********

  5. L* L* L* by N****** B** FT S** S****

  6. T***** S*** by M********* & R*** L****

  7. J*** G*** M* A R***** by P*** FT N*** R****

  8. R*** by K*** P****

  9. M****** by J***** T*********

  10. P****** by B*******

Here are the answers to yesterday’s News round:

  1. Quote of the year “I knew something was wrong when a little pretty white girl ran into a black man’s arms” was uttered by internet sensation Charles Ramsey. What was the story? 3 rescued girls in Cleveland
  2. Pope Francis because head of the Catholic Church in which month this year? March
  3. Which internet company’s owner bankrolled a genetically created burger this year that cost £250,000? Google (Sergey Brin)
  4. The world’s most expensive ever diamond sold this year for £53m but what colour was it? Pink
  5. In which American city did a pair of Brothers set off a bomb right beside the finish line? Boston
  6. Judge Raymond Voet held himself in contempt of court after what incident happened in his own courtroom? His mobile Phone went off
  7. The tattoo artist Vinnie Myers has become famous this year for repeatedly tattooing what? Nipples
  8. “Selfie” entered UK dictionaries this year, but the British word “Shitstorm” is now in which European country’s dictionaries after the word became hugely popular? Germany
  9. When Thatcher died earlier this year, what number did “Ding Dong the Witch is dead” reach in the UK charts? Number 2
  10. Who said we shouldn’t be sending money to “Bongo Bongo Land” this year? Godfrey Bloom

Come back tomorrow for the TV round and the answers to the Music Round.

JD

The Blog Review 2013: Family

Standard

The JDs 2013

 

All settled into the new house this year and the kids are really starting to grow up. Jake is nearly seven which still baffles me as he was only a little toot not long ago, and Jenna is nearly three and a half and still as daft as ever. Across the year I’ve written about both of then, the sanity keeper of the house Jill as well as extended family. Here are some of my personal favourite pieces from this year.

Jake is a wee daftie but ultimately a good kid. He’s really growing up and on his sixth birthday earlier this year I reflected on the child that at one point I never thought we’d be able to have – http://wp.me/pJh58-h1 and thinking about the future of this wee fella lead to this post http://wp.me/pJh58-tf Then there was the night me and Jake went up Brimmond Hill http://wp.me/pJh58-Ee a real family tradition in the Duncan house. He’s really growing up fast and I know that there will come a time when I’m his favourite person and instead I’ll receive sulky responses instead of hugs, but I’ll enjoy it while it all lasts.

Then there’s the force of nature that is little Jenna Duncan. Those who have met her will testify that she is every bit the mad girl I describe her as on here – and here’s a couple of examples: The Tasmanian Devil http://wp.me/pJh58-xp and the streaking http://wp.me/pJh58-oV . Then there’s the evil side to her – the scheming mastermind ready for world domination http://wp.me/pJh58-cg  and her surveillance programme http://wp.me/pJh58-kt She really is a character, and one that will continue to entertain us all for the next twelve months worth of blogs.

Beyond our own walls I became an Uncle this year to Archie who is a wee treat of a kid and the news was something I couldn’t help blogging about this year in both Uncle JD http://wp.me/pJh58-2k and on his arrival My Nephew Archie http://wp.me/pJh58-D7 Then up a generation there is my Dad – or chuckles to give him his proper title who yet again has helped out lots this year with DIY around the house including the new internal doors and the new kitchen he fitted. That’s why he’s the king of DIY http://wp.me/pJh58-ae .

Then there’s the star of the show – Jill. Here are a couple of blogs I’ve written about her:

Jill remains a source of sanity and support, without her I wouldn’t be half the person I am. It’s her patience and love that gets me through years like this one where it’s been tough on several fronts. She is my best friend, a beautiful woman and the best mother I could ask for to our children. I am constantly reminded how lucky I am by everyone who knows us, but trust me I know that  I’m punching well above my weight with her. So here’s to more fun and adventures with all members of the Duncan, Stopper, Craig and Shaw households in 2014.

JD