When The Simplest Things Can Be The Most Difficult

I was looking at Twitter a few days ago and I came across a “Conversation” which annoyed me.  I suppose I should have taken it in my stride and moved on but it hit a bit of a raw nerve with me.

The reason for this was one comment made during the conversation.  It was something along the lines of “lost your glasses??? Ring the Police”.

Yes – I admit that the person who made the comment was just being flippant and trying to make a point about what constitutes a real emergency – as well as losing your glasses not being a reason to dial 999.  However, they used what I call the “Specsavers Argument” (Other High Street rip-off Opticians are available).  This argument goes along the lines of “Most people who wear glasses don’t have very strong prescriptions – therefore they can lose one pair and walk around in order to find their spare pair without causing any danger to themselves and others”.  (One “Chugger” from Guide Dogs for the Blind attempted to use the same argument on me some months back – until I told them to try my glasses on – they soon changed their tune after that.)

I think this is part of the reason why the purchase of glasses is not covered by the Disability Discrimination Act or the Equalities Act.  However, I digress.

Without going all Scientific on you (and boring you to sleep) – the simplest way of explaining why I got so annoyed by the Twitter “Conversation” is because – to put it very bluntly – if I lose my glasses that is me totally out of commission.  My world becomes one big blur.  If you want a taste of how bad my sight is without glasses click here  Visions Of Prescriptions where I discuss my sight and my glasses in more detail.

If you were to meet me when I am wearing my glasses I certainly do not appear to be Registered Partially Sighted (unless you put me under certain conditions) – although I do own a white stick I do not use it because I have been brought up and “socially trained” to hide my sight problems as much as humanly possible.  You can read all about my sight in other parts of my personal blog.

The way I look at my sight and my disability is as follows – I may be the one who is legally recognised as “Disabled” due to my sight but I have been dealing with it my entire life.  The people who I consider to be the real “Disabled” people are the ones who have not spent any time in my company and – therefore – do not know how I “operate”.  They are also the ones who can make simple tasks extremely difficult for me just through their ignorance (either by physically putting barriers in my way or by making me feel uncomfortable as a result of their reaction to something I do – or even a request I make).

So – next time you see someone who is doing something you find odd – please remember that they may have a disability (the severity of which is not immediately obvious) and treat them as you yourself would wish to be treated.  After all – the person who has just asked you to read something out to them may actually be able to read and understand more than one language – they just have a problem with the size of print on the board behind you (especially if there is a counter between you and them).

A little consideration goes a very long way.

We All Need To Look Out For Each Other

I have just finished updating Inkyworld Blog and I noticed a slight theme running through the posts tonight which I wanted to share with you.

They all have a connection with the word “Setback” – whether or not the setback is (a) intentional or (b) an actual setback or just a setback in your own mind.

As I was thinking about typing this blog post I had some song lyrics playing in my head from a song called “Setback” by my favourite female singer – Kristyna Myles.  The lyrics are as follows;

“I’m here to help you through – your loads are my loads too.  We’re all in this together.”

(If you want to listen to the song click here – “SetBack” by Kristyna Myles.)

We all face all kinds of challenges in our lives (whether or not we choose to share them with the wider world).  I am slowly coming to the conclusion that life becomes slightly easier when we accept each other’s challenges whether or not we actually understand them ourselves.

There may be things we will never understand about someone but all we can do is be a Sounding Board for them if they need it and welcome them without judging them (at least not before we know the whole story).

UK businesses receive extortion demands from ‘Lizard Squad’

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Within the past 24 hours a number of businesses throughout the UK have received extortion demands from a group calling themselves ‘Lizard Squad’.
Method of Attack:
The group have sent emails demanding payment of 5 Bitcoins, to be paid by a certain time and date. The email states that this demand will increase by 5 Bitcoins for each day that it goes unpaid.

If their demand is not met, they have threatened to launch a Denial of Service attack against the businesses’ websites and networks, taking them offline until payment is made.

The demand states that once their actions have started, they cannot be undone.

What to do if you’ve received  one of these demands:

  • Report it to Action Fraud by calling 0300 123 2040 or by using the online reporting tool
  • Do not pay the demand
  • Retain the original emails (with headers)
  • Maintain a timeline of the attack, recording all times, type and content of the contact

If you are experiencing a DDoS right now you should:

  • Report it to Action Fraud by calling 0300 123 2040 immediately.
  • Call your Internet Service Provider (ISP) (or hosting provider if you do not host your own Web server), tell them you are under attack and ask for help.
  • Keep a timeline of events and save server logs, web logs, email logs, any packet capture, network graphs, reports etc.

Get Safe Online top tips for protecting your business from a DDoS:

  • Consider the likelihood and risks to your organisation of a DDoS attack, and put appropriate threat reduction/mitigation measures in place.
  • If you consider that protection is necessary, speak to a DDoS prevention specialist.
  • Whether you are at risk of a DDoS attack or not, you should have the hosting facilities in place to handle large, unexpected volumes of website hits.

Does Life Imitate Art Or Is Life Actually Art Itself?

I have been to a couple of “Arty” places over the past few days.

The first place I went to left me with the major question above.

“Art” is a word which can be used as a kind of catch all – from the highbrow stuff you see in places like the National Art Gallery to the stuff you are more likely to see in a “Pop-up” Gallery.

My eyes have a rather interesting habit of presenting me with pictures which (whilst they bear some relation to the reality which everybody else lives in) are not exactly what the rest of the world sees.

For example – if you are standing in a bus stop in front of a backlit sign you may appear to be part of the poster at first until either you or I move to a slightly different angle.

My favourite images which my eyes have presented me with are the “Snake Toy” mentioned in the blog post in the link (it is actually a staircase – but how the light and shade have combined makes it look like one of those bendy, twisty, snake toys when laid flat), and the “Charles Street Spoon”.  In reality the “Charles Street Spoon” was a streetlight which – when seen from above – looked to me like a rather large spoon.  It looked the same from ground level but I was looking into the “bowl” of it then.

As you will learn from following this link – Art As A Concept And As Life Itself – My taste in “Art” runs more towards the “Human” aspect of it.  I prefer seeing “Art” I can relate to and interact with.

What is “Art” without the injection of human emotion and experience? Just some two or three dimensional object without a soul

A new (Wine) investment fraud has been identified!

A new investment fraud trend is targeting members of the public who are seeking to sell their wine investment.  Fraudsters agree to purchase the victim’s wine, but instead transfer the stock into their own account without paying the victim.  The fraudulently obtained wine is then believed to be sold on to other, unsuspecting victims.

How does it work?
Fraudsters set up fake companies and websites as well as exploit the names of legitimate, established companies to facilitate this fraud.  They cold-call the victims and offer to purchase their wine for significantly more than the actual market value.

Fraudulent documents, such as purchase agreements, are used to facilitate the fraud and are sent to the victims via post and email.  Some fraudsters have gone as far as setting up fake escrow services in order to fool the potential sellers that the payments have been transferred.

The fraudsters send the victims instructions to transfer their wine into storage accounts held within legitimate bonded warehouses.  The victims are informed that upon doing this they will be paid the agreed amount.  The use of storage accounts held within legitimate bonded warehouses adds an air of legitimacy to the process but in actual fact these storage accounts are controlled by the fraudsters.

Once the wine is transferred into the new storage accounts the suspects break off all contact with the victims.  The wine is then moved again, normally within days and often abroad, and, needless to say, the victim never receives the money from the agreed sale.

Protect Yourself

  • Never respond to unsolicited phone calls – if in doubt, hang up
  • Always check that the details of the organisation or company contacting you (such as website, address and phone number) are correct – the fraudsters may be masquerading as a legitimate organisation
  • Never sign over your wine (or any other investment) to another party without first checking they are authentic
  • Don’t be fooled by a professional looking website, as the cost of creating a professional website is easily affordable
  • Escrow services are regulated by the FCA under the Payment Services Directive 2009.  Only deal with a registered Authorised Payment Institution.  You can check the FCA register online at www.fca.org.uk/register
  • Consider seeking independent legal and/or financial advice before making a decision
  • If you have been affected by this, or any other scam, report it to Action Fraud by calling 0300 123 2040, or visiting www.actionfraud.police.uk

Why What We Know Should Be Given Equal Status To Who We Know

I have been reading about the difficulties of getting permanent employment in teaching (a job which I am definitely the wrong type of person to apply for) because schools apparently have a habit of employing people who the Management know personally instead of going for the most qualified people.

This got me thinking.  Applying for jobs can be a soulcrushing exercise in futility.  Apparently there is a list of “buzzwords” which have to appear on CVs these days before you even get on the “possibilities” pile.  This is before you realise that there are certain companies who you can almost put money on having someone in mind for the job you are applying for.

There are certain questions which I have come to hate in job interviews (as well as a couple which I have been asked but it would be illegal to ask me now – I almost laughed when I heard them).

“Are you adaptable?” – Try not to ask me this.  You have just left yourself open to an explanation of exactly how adaptable I have had to be in order to arrive at your premises.  This is especially dangerous if I have had to travel in bright sunshine (for the record – bright lights make me mentally tired very quickly – if I was a plant my label would read “Keep Out Of Direct Sunshine Unless Absolutely Necessary”).

“What are your strengths and weaknesses?”  Hmm – what I would consider to be my biggest strength is the exact thing you would consider to be my biggest weakness.  My sight problem ensures that I am non-judgemental, adaptable, self-contained, etc.

And the two questions which would be illegal now?

(In a factory with bright yellow lines on the floor the approximate width of a car tyre) – interviewer points to line on floor – “Can you see that line?”

(In an interview in an office on the first floor of a building) “How will you get downstairs?” Well – I have two options.  I can either throw myself out of the window or I can go the same way as I came up them – if a little slower.  (Before you ask – no I didn’t say that although I was extremely tempted to.)

Forget asking about films, biscuits, and other obscure “trendy” questions.  What can I bring to your Company????  A “Sideways” view of life, Creativity, Sideways thinking, Openmindedness.

There is one question I wish interviewers would ask – “What do you think this job will give you?”

It is all very well asking what the applicant can give to the employer but surely it should be a two way street???  I am not talking about the financial rewards, etc.  I am talking about the difference between how a job applicant can read a job description and the actual job itself.  I have been in job interviews where I have applied for one job and felt like I have been interviewed for a totally different one.

One final thing – if you insist on using an “Unequal Opportunities” Questionnaire please ensure that you treat the “Do you consider yourself Disabled?” question with the respect it deserves.  This is not supposed to be a way of weeding out the “undesireables” from the Application process.  As for the question about what sort of “reasonable adjustments” I may need to do the job???  Sorry, I do not have a crystal ball handy – nor do I have prior knowledge of the layout of your premises.  Besides which – your definition of “reasonable adjustments” and my definition may be two completely different things.

(“Do you have practical knowledge of the Disability Discrimination – or Equalities – Act?” – Yes thanks – Not only that but I have probably found at least two examples of your Company breaking it without you realising it.  However, seeing as we are in an interview situation I cannot tell you about them.)

The Disabled person you interview for your vacancy may not be the most highly qualified candidate but they will probably be the most useful member of your staff if you have the courage to let them ply to their strengths.

Opportunities Come In Unexpected Forms!

On Wednesday this week I was a stall at the “Choice Unlimited” Roadshow in Leicester.  For those of you who don’t know what “Choice Unlimited” is – it is a branch of Leicestershire Centre for Integrated Living (aka “LCiL”).

The Roadshow was a way of showcasing different organisations and their goods and services to help Disabled People (and their carers) live as independently as possible.

You may be wondering why a Blogger ended up with a stall at such an event???  Surely, if anybody needs Bloggers it is the companies providing the goods and services???

Well, I happen to be of the opinion that blogging can help people get their stories out to the wider world (it also helps by being a kind of “head emptying” exercise).  Not only that but I have been known to showcase the talents of some of my friends on my personal blog.

If you have a look at Inkyworld Blog you will find out about a new invention I discovered on Wednesday (and got permission from the manufacturer to review).  There is also an opportunity to help a friend of mine with his PhD.  Click her for information – Please Help A Friend Of Mine With Their PhD.

There are opportunities everywhere – you just have to keep your eyes, ears, and mind, open in order to find them.

Individuality Should Be Cherished

If there is one thing you can definitely say about me it is that I am something of an “oddball”.  As in – I am not one of those people who you can put into a box very easily.  Put it this way – I think my parents might have made a shlight mistake when it came to choosing my first name.  Instead of spelling it “Ineke” I think they should either have spelled it “Uniek” (Dutch version) or “Unique” (English version).

I have got a tshirt which I wore at last year’s “Choice Unlimited” Roadshow in Leicester, which sums my feelings up perfectly.

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We are all judged by our behaviour, our abilities, the way we speak, the wway we present ourselves to the rest of the world.  Whilst some of the judgements cannot be argued against – using foul language in the reception of your Company for example – others can be more of a “personal preference” judgement.  Or even a “lack of Education” judgement.

If you have seen the blog post where I talk about my old glasses (and you can see photographs of me wearing them) you may have taken a look at the photos and done what most people do when faced with someone wearing very thick lenses – judged me to be of limited intelligence.  I may not be anything like the most qualiied human you have ever met but I can hold my own in discussions on most topics.

Instead of judging people based on what you think you know of them and condemning them to a life of being seen as inferior in your opinion – please get to know them and cherish their individuality.  You never know when someone with experience of disability or anything else may just have the answer to your problem.

Life would be boring if we were all the same.

Parkrun organisers and runners condemn decision to charge for park usage

Via Get Surrey on 14 APR 2016 Author:  NATASHA SALMON

Council’s decision to charge labelled ‘shortsighted’ while Surrey and North East Hampshire Parkruns say they will remain free of charge .

04/10/2014. 10th anniversary Park Run at Stoke Park. Event founder & Organiser Linda Cairns

The decision by a Bristol parish council to charge a free fitness event to use their green space has been condemned by organisers of Parkrun in Surrey and north east Hampshire.

Runners of every ability are encouraged to take part in Parkrun’s 5km events which are held weekly and locally in CranleighFarnhamFrimleyAldershotWokingGuildford and Reigate.

The runs are organised by volunteers in green spaces and have had almost 933,000 runners take part in the last two years.

Volunteers will help set up and organize the Cranleigh parkrun and take a record of competitors times at the end

However Stoke Gifford Parish Council in Bristol went against the “founding principles” of Parkrun and decided to charge the Little Stoke event to use their park.

This will end that particular Parkrun from taking place and chief operating officer for Parkrun, Tom Williams, said: “Parkrun has had unprecedented success in engaging the least active and encouraging them to exercise regularly.

“Imposing a charge at one event is something that contradicts our founding principles and would set a precedent that threatens our future.”

“It is clear that a per-event or per-runner charge simply would not be sustainable and would threaten our free-to-participate ethos.

“By agreeing to a charge in relation to use of the land at Little Stoke Park we would be establishing a precedent that would put the future of parkrun at risk.”

One of the pilot runners crosses the finish line of the tested Cranleigh parkrun

Following the wide discussion surrounding the topic we approached the Parkruns in Surrey and North East Hampshire for their take on the topic.

Cranleigh

The Cranleigh Parkrun is at Knowle Park and was started in October 2014 by local business owner Martin Bamford.

Mr Bamford said the organisers and parish council recognised the need for free events and therefore there’s would remain so.

“Forcing local parkrun groups to pay goes against the free to participate principle of parkrun events.

“I feel very sorry for all of the volunteers and runners at Little Gifford parkrun, who will have devoted countless hours to establishing and hosting this community event.

“It feels very short-sighted on the part of the parish council, at a time when the national faces a massive public health challenge around obesity and inactivity.

“Here at Cranleigh parkrun, we have an excellent relationship with our landowners, Cranleigh Parish Council and the Knowle Park Initiative, which both recognise the importance of the free-to-participate principle behind parkrun events.

“Since we started Cranleigh parkrun, we have hosted 81 free events with more than 3,800 runs covering 19,280km, from 1,040 different runners.

“We look forward to a long and happy future for Cranleigh parkrun, and welcome anyone who wants to join us on a Saturday morning for a free, timed 5km run around beautiful parkrun.”

Frimley Lodge Park Parkrun

Alice Holt Forest

The Alice Holt Park run, just outside Farnham, hope the Little Stoke Parkrun would only be cancelled temporarily and they would find another location.

Paula Patterson, event director at Alice Holt, said there is no risk of their event stopping any time soon.

“Parkrun will not pay to use the parks so if Surrey parks decided to do this then that would be the end of any Parkrun in that park.

“Alice Holt Parkrun takes place on Forestry Commission land and, as such, is not affected by any decision made by parish/town/borough/county councils.

“As far as we are aware there are no plans by the Forestry Commission to charge us to use the land we run on but if they did then we would have to cease or find an alternative venue.”

The Alice Holt parkrunners pay for their parking while they are at the site which supports the upkeep on the Hampshire forest.

Roger Nield
Runners taking part at the Rushmoor Parkrun

Rushmoor

Run organiser at Rushmoor, Martin Sterio, said their were no future plans to charge for the event held at the army training ground in Farnborough.

Retired Runnymede neighbourhood inspector and MBE holder Roger Nield regularly takes part in the Rushmoor Parkrun, with his wife Lucy, and said the decision by Little Gifford Parish Council was “foolish”.

“We have been going for a year and half and there are some people who have made the most incredible improvements.

“It is great for people who want to get into running but like myself are not part of a running club.

“You can run or wobble and at Rushmoor we had 227 people last weekend of all ages. You can run with your dog or push your child in a pram, it doesn’t matter, it is for eveyone.

“This business in Somerset is a really churlish move and a bit foolish by this council, especially with how big parkrun is in the country and across the world.”

Mr Nield, who is about to start training for a marathon, said its also an opportunity for people to appreciate their green spaces too.

Liz Read and her fellow parkrunners last week at Frimley Lodge Park

Frimley Lodge

Organisers at Frimley Lodge parkrun would not comment on the news from Bristol however they reassured Get Surrey that there were no plans for charges to be introduced at their events.

Liz Read from Aldershot takes part in the Frimley Lodge event every week and thinks the actions of the parish council in Little Gifford are “disgusting”.

“Parkrun is a community event free to everyone and it encourages people to try and be active in a safe and friendly environment.

“on of the key beliefs of Parkrun is that it will always be free to all.

“I have done 58 Parkruns now and if Frimley had to stop it would ruin my Saturdays and I would miss the social side.”

The Frimley Lodge Parkrun on Halloween in 2015

Woking

Woking Borough Council confirmed there were no plans to charge Parkrun to use Woking Park, which many runners will be relieved to hear.

The organisers of the Woking Parkrun would not comment on the actions of Stoke Gifford council but a Parkrun spokesman said: “None of our other 850 worldwide events is under threat, and this is the first time in 12 years we’ve had a council suggest a charge.

“We have events on local authority managed land in addition to sites managed by the Forestry Commission, National trust, Woodland Trust, many runs are in country parks, nature reserves, on sandy beaches etc and our volunteers work closely with them through the set-up process and going forward to ensure the events work for everyone.”

Runners at the start of the 100th Guildford parkrun in Stoke Park, which has now been going for two years. More than 200 took part in this one, taking the total to around 13,000.

Guildford

There are currently no plans to bring in charges at the Guildford Parkrun in Stoke Park.

The organisers could not comment on the events but reiterated Parkrun’s general statement that no charges would be brought to the event.

Graham Evans MP, and chair of the All Party Parliamentary Group for Running, said: “Parkruns provide an invaluable way of utilising public spaces and getting the whole community involved – young and old – in physical activity, which we all know is massively important for our health and wellbeing.

“I am a huge fan of parkrun and regularly take part with my family – the children love it, and my wife and I love being out in the fresh air using our beautiful parks and countryside with them.

“I sincerely hope that a solution will be found to enable Little Stoke parkrun to continue.”

Reigate

There are currently no plans to bring in charges at the Reigate Parkrun in Priory Park.

Inspirational People Questionnaire (Or – Learn A Bit More About Me)

This blog post is an edited version of a Questionnaire I did for the website of the church I attend.  You will see where the idea came from as you read through it.

1)        Let’s start by you telling us how you found out about Simple Solutions? (After all it is a bit daft me asking how I know myself, isn’t it?).

I found out about Simple Solutions as a result of getting in contact with Roger Nield on Twitter. How I ended up joining as a Blogger is slightly more of an interesting story. (If you have read my personal blog at http://inkyworld.co.uk/page11.php – you will already know how I am not really one for doing what is “expected”.)

I had read the “About Us” page on the website and thought I might be able to add something to the Company.

So I sent Roger an email with information about myself (15 years’ experience of working in an office, having my own blog, being Registered Partially Sighted, and wanting to educate people about Disability). Attached to that was what turned out to be my first blog post for Simple Solutions (the Guidance for a Conference or Meeting).

The rest – as they say – is history.

2)        As this is about “Inspirational People” can you please tell me three people in your life who have inspired you and how they have done so (they can be teachers, colleagues, friends, etc)?

Ooh – this is an easy yet difficult question. If you have ever read my blog (where this idea came from) you will find that I have been inspired by a variety of people in a variety of ways – mostly through people showing kindness and generosity to others, standing up for what they consider to be correct, speaking out about injustice in whatever form it takes, enabling people to dream and not being afraid to show them it can be achieved, etc.

The three people who have inspired me the most in my life have all fulfilled the above criteria – in more ways than one. (Sorry – I find it difficult to be inspired by the Rich, Famous, and Powerful unless they have done something truly spectacular – OK, I could throw Sir Jackie Stewart into the mix but he is the only one.)

Anyway – I digress.

The most inspirational person in my life may sound like a cop out to you – but you can mock me all you want and I don’t care. Coby Poultney (my Mum) was stronger than I can ever hope to be. Let’s just say that the circumstances in the months after I was born were not ones I would wish on anybody (and I am seriously glad that she didn’t just give up and go back to Holland without me as a result). Not only that – but she stood up for what she believed in, she helped her friends. In fact, she told me she had a rule (which I try to live by) which was that if anybody was sad she would try to cheer them up and make them smile)

Next we have Steve Bowkett – ex-English Teacher extraordinaire. The surgeons might have kept me alive when I was a baby but this man not only kept me alive when I was around 12 years’ old – he showed me that daydreaming was good. Not only that but (apparently) you can make money out of it – if you write your daydreams down. I am still working on that one but he did encourage me in my writing both when I was in his class and ever since.

Last but by no means least (it really is a pity I had to put these two in any kind of order) we have Kristyna Myles. Musical talent combined with the steely determination to use her talent to promote her faith. Couple that with being so down-to-Earth and approachable – as well as the effect her music has on people in the way it touches their souls. Oh – and what I find really inspiring about her is her desire to shine a light on the injustice and inequality in the world.

3)        What qualities do you look for in a friend?

 Respect – most of all. The ability to have a debate with them or just sit in companionable silence. Honesty.

4)        How would your (other) friends describe you?

I hate this question when it appears in job interviews – I will answer it as I hope they would see me.

An oddball you can count on when the going gets tough. I will do almost anything (within reason) to help a friend in need. I do not judge until I know the full story. There is a rumour that I provide a very good “Sounding Board” service to humans in my circle of friends who want to rant and rave about things.

5)        Finally, please tell me something about you that I don’t already know (please make sure it is something you don’t mind sharing with the rest of the world)?

I may have a family connection (a long way back in my family) with a certain Crisp-advertising ex-Leicester City football player whose surname bears more than a slight resemblance to my first name.

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