In The Clouds

Today we are fog bound, we can only see about 100 metres. It’s a dense, wet fog, the kind that stills sounds and feels really cold. We even lit a fire this morning and that very rarely needs to happen, especially in October.

This week  we had a beautiful, hot, sunny day. Right from sun-rise we had a lovely hot and summery day. We were outside working on our house, putting up rafters with tee-shirts on and a water bottle up on the scaffolding with us to stay hydrated. I even had on a hat to prevent my face from sun-burn.

However we couldn’t see the valley below us because of a low lying cloud of fog that was really thick. The previous day had been foggy in the lowlands however the fog  lifted by mid-morning and we could see really far into the distance.

I went down to the nearest big town for some groceries and cat food sometime before lunch on the really hot sunny day and I put on a shirt over my tee thinking that I would be warm enough. As I drove down the hill I started to chill and regretted not having grabbed a jacket, the temperature really dropped quickly.

Town was really cold and everyone that I met and talked to in the shops (because we talk to each other in small towns, even if we don’t really know each other) was in a downcast mood.  It was as though the fog was clouding everyone’s joy.  I did the shopping as quickly as possible to get back up the hill to the sunshine.

As I put the messages (that’s what we call the groceries here) away in the van I was thinking, once again, how lucky we are to live up on the hills. The radio was on and I was listening to Today FM, a channel that has friendly morning chat and music, nothing too political.

The dj had been interviewing someone and took a break for the “good news” which was a little strange. As I listened to the news I realised why he had called it the “good news”, the newsreader spoke about a little girl who lived in Cork who had the stabilisers removed from her bike and was doing really well. There was mention of a couple who had just moved into their first house together and a beloved school teacher who had been ill and was back in the classroom. All of the stories were good news stories!

The person being interviewed was really impressed and asked if all Irish radio stations did the same thing, unfortunately they don’t – yet. The “normal” news was on ten minutes later and wasn’t nearly as much fun.

When I got home, back up the hill into the hot sunshine, I told my husband about the “goodnews” broadcast and we wondered when was it decided, and by whom, that news broadcasts should be predominantly bad/sad news. Who decided that? Why was the decision made? Who benefits from broadcasting bad/sad news to the nation, every hour on the hour?

I know that it is important to know what is going on around us however I think that it is important to know both the good and the bad news. We don’t have the balance right at all.

Most of my friends don’t buy or read daily newspapers or watch the tv news, most also try to avoid the radio news however that is lots of work as they broadcast it every hour. Thank you to Today FM and the Ray D’Arcy show for the good news! I must listen more often and find out if the good-news is a daily event.

I thought that it was quite fitting that I had driven above the fog to the sunny heights of our hill to have this chat about listening to the mass media version of news and what we are supposed to be concerned about.

Sometimes I wonder about people who listen to the media version of events every day, who read all the papers, broadsheet or tabloid, who watch the tv news – are they living in a fog?

A fog induced by a daily diet of overwhelmingly bad news, fear inducing, power-sapping news that makes them think that they cannot possible change the world, their world, our world?

If you think that there is nothing that you can do to influence change do you give up trying?

I sure hope not ‘cos a lot of people do watch the daily power-sap commonly known as The News. I know that I had to stop watching it every day as it was certainly overwhelming for me. I can only speak for myself of course.

How do you feel about The News?

Please add a comment and let me know……..

Easier Reading of Busy Web Pages

Do you often find yourself reading web-pages that have lots of ads, tabs, login buttons, animations etc?

I find that some web-pages are distracting and that it takes longer to read the story that brought me there or that it is harder to focus on the story and ignore the background images.

This situation can sometimes lead me to click on other links that lead me astray and then I become frustrated about wasting time or loosing track of what I was researching/reading.

There is a great solution to this distraction and I love it – it is called Readability and works simply by clicking on a button on your shortcut toolbar – and the web-page magically becomes simplified.

First you need to visit the Readability website and make a choice about which page format you prefer – you get to choose from a variety of styles, sizes and margin layouts. Once you have decided which style suits you best you simply add the bookmarklet to your bookmark toolbar and the next time that you are faced with a web-page like this…

Very Busy web page, lots of distraction

and turn it into something much easier to read, like this…

Clearer page, simple with just the relevant text and pictures