NaNoWriMo 2017 and Preptober

NaNoWriMo stands for National Novel Writing Month and is a non-profit organisation that wants to encourage people to write a novel. You have the entire month of November to write 50,000 words…so I thought I’d give it a try.

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I have always loved writing but I will admit that it has been quite a while since I wrote anything fiction. The closest I get to writing these days is this blog, and let’s be fair I’ve been pretty sporadic with my posts lately. I think it’s because work is always so busy and life itself is just so hectic it can sometimes be hard to motivate yourself to do these little creative projects. So I have gone into NaNoWriMo as a complete newbie. Fresh meat. Or…fresh Tofu as I should say!

When it comes to writing for NaNoWriMo there are two types of people: Pantsers and Planners. Planners are those writers who have an entire scene by scene set up for the start of November, who know exactly how their story is going to go and how it is going to end. Pantsers on the other hand are writers who have nothing but a few ideas and their imagination to guide them once November 1st hits. Now I have always been a bit of a Pantser when it comes to my writing: I would write because I felt inspired in that moment to write a story, and can not remember the last time I actually FINISHED a story. So I have decided to become a Planner for the first time in forever…I have a notebook and everything! I even went so far as to colour code my story by main character perspective. How shmancy am I?!

The main reason I wanted to write about this is to let you guys know why I may be a bit quiet for a while in November. But also, and probably most importantly, I wanted to let all of you who read this know about NaNoWriMo. It doesn’t cost anything and if nothing else it should be a load of fun to just write a novel. Set yourself the challenge and finish that novel you always thought about writing. I have also seen just how social it makes people: Every area has it’s own ‘territory’ of writers and they run Write Ins and Plan Days throughout November, where writers of all backgrounds and walks of life can get together and just talk about writing…get some feedback, share ideas and just enjoy being creative with like-minded people…just for fun!

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While there are no real prizes at the end of the month, you will leave the process with at least two things: A brand new novel (or at least the start of a new one) and maybe even a new found love for writing in general. In this day and age, when there is so much bad stuff in the news and in our minds, I want to use NaNoWriMo as a way of showing everyone that there can always be joy in a good book…especially one that your wrote yourself and could even lead to inspiring others to write their own too!

So what do you say? See you at a Write In soon! ❤

T xx

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The little things in life

Every day at work, at around 12.30pm, one of the council street cleaners will do her round outside of my office where I currently work. She pushes her cart, sweeps up old cigarette butts and crisp packets, before taking a 5 minute breather on the park bench. At around 12.45pm, the man I can only assume is her husband comes strolling out from one of the side streets with the tiniest and most excited pug puppy I have ever seen. The pug pulls his owner over to the lady, who meets him with almost equal excitement, and they have a little walk around the green patch of scenery close by, sit down, and have a little lunch break together.

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I have watched them enough times while I am waiting for my documents to print or for certain files to finish copying, that I have their routine down. I am very much a people watcher – leave me at a little coffee shop with a massive mug of tea, my book and a nice window seat and I could happily spend my day there watching the many passers by go about their business. It is one of my little pleasures in life, and one I wish I could do more. Plus, I genuinely believe that a proper cup of tea can cure all ailments…so that always helps!

The last couple of months have been pretty stressful for me for a whole array of reasons and while I sat watching the little pug bounce happily around his owners’ boots, I began wondering if it would ever be possible to be as happy as that little doggo. I feel that this is something that has been left off of the curriculum at schools: How to be happy. More importantly, how to be happy wherever you may be in life. Yes I may be 25, and as far as society is concerned I am a fully functioning adult that should be more than capable of looking after myself. In reality, I am not…or at least I don’t feel like an adult. I still live at home with my parents, I’m still on their car insurance and I have only very recently finished my education and managed to get my foot onto the career ladder of my choice. All the while I have my peers – or worse, the younger generation – working in high flying jobs for better pay, with their own mortgages and living the life that I at 16 thought I should be living at 25.

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However, every now and again I am reminded that life is short: With all the horrible things going on in this world from terrorist attacks, mass shootings and the threat of nuclear war, I am reminded that time is fleeting. My first 25 years have flown by and I already feel like I wasted so much of it worrying about things that did not even deserve a minute of my attention. Who cares if my hair is getting frizzy? Why do I care if I look tired or have bags under my eyes? Last night I stayed up until midnight (for the first time in months may I add) and watched a movie with my Dad, eating biscuits and candy and laughing about the events of Geordie Shore. Was I tired the next day? Ashamedly so. Did I regret my choice? Hell no. The little things in life, as cliche as it sounds, really will become the most important things.

So this is my message to you, lovely few of you who will read this, or stumble across it late at night by accident: Enjoy the little things. So what if your thighs are a little bit thick?! Revel in the fact that your legs are strong enough to carry you wherever you need to go. So what if your hair is super untame and won’t style right? When you’re 80 with thinning grey hair you will long for the wild locks of your youth. Ignore the negativity that other people will try to force on you because at the end of the day, the only person you need to impress is you. You are the only person you will have to live with every second of every day for the rest of your life, so you might as well learn how to love the little things that make you special.

Let me know what makes you guys grateful. What little everyday things make your day infinitely better?

Should Photoshop be illegal?

In recent years there has been a lot of controversy around the use of digital enhancement software: The main issue of debate tends to focus on the fashion industry, as it is argued that magazines and editorial shoots gives young people an unrealistic and, in many cases, dangerous expectation of how their bodies should look. But it does raise an important question, as to when – and if ever – digital enhancement is necessary.

Why use it?

For most people in the creative industries, photo-manipulation is a basic tool in every trade. You can use it to make photos stand out more by making certain colours pop while other colours are muted; It allows you to ‘revamp’ images over the years to keep up with the changing industries; it also allows you to perfect every image that you take by allowing you to remove blemishes, straighten out lines, level the contrast and so on. The possibilities really are rather limitless as you can essentially make any image you have into a completely new and maybe even completely different picture. Furthermore, photo-manipulation is not an easy task: Besides from needing a very steady hand and a keen eye for detail, you also need heaps of patience to be able to sit and stare at the same pixel images for many hours at a time while you work on a particular project. This means that the more you practice, the better you get, and if you are someone who wants to work in a creative industry, these skills are invaluable.

Does it really show skill?

On one hand, it does take a certain level of skill to manipulate a photo: Even if you are simply adjusting the colour ratios of a photo, you must still have at least a basic understanding of the software as well as an understanding of photo composition. However to some extent, it almost doesn’t matter if the photo you have taken is completely pants if you have the knowledge to manipulate the original into something artistic. On the other hand, can you still deem yourself an ‘artist’ or a ‘photographer’ if you need to rely on software to make your photo great?

Does it create false expectations?

One of the universal truths of modern day society is that when you compare yourself to other people, you are undoubtedly going to become sad and disappointed with what you have in life. This is made worse when the pictures you are looking at are not the entire truth of that person’s life, nor is it an accurate representation of society as a whole: As beautiful as celebrities can be and as flawless as the Victoria Secret models are, the majority of photos taken of them are then manipulated to look more appealing than they are. The time old story of ‘sex sells’ means that we are more likely to pay attention to a beautiful body than we are to the sight of your average person, even though the average person is an attainable role model to have. In recent years, fashion companies such as Dior have even banned super skinny models in their cat walks, so why are we not banning them in photographs?

The dangers?

To begin with, super skinny models only add to the stereotype that in order to be considered ‘beautiful’ you have to weigh as little as possible. This is not only bad for society, where the percentage of people with eating disorders is gradually rising every year, but it is also bad for the industries that condone them, as it almost suggest that they care about making money more than they care about the people who sell their clothes for them. It also portrays an image that the people in modelling campaigns are the ‘normal’ people of society, and it is everyone else who looks bizarre, when it reality it is the opposite way around. But not only do these people already have incredible bodies (simply because they work out, eat healthy and, mostly, because it is literally their job to look stunning) but then editors set to work to exaggerate the images more: legs get longer, skin gets smoother, lips become fuller, muscles get more defined, until we see an image that is not only a poor representation of society, but a bad representation of that model as a person, as though the hours they have spent in the gym and all that clean eating was pointless because a piece of software s what makes them look flawless in the end.

The upside?

Photo manipulation can be hours upon hours of fun and since the software is still surprisingly new, it is very hard to become a master of it. The software is constantly developing and improving and as such so are the skills that come along with it. It also is now becoming a sought after skill in the creative industry, with more and more employers wanting at least a basic understanding of photo manipulation software. It stands to reason that there is a clear need for it in society otherwise why such a high demand for the skill within the workforce? It could even be argued that photo manipulation is an art form in its own right, as it combines many different disciplines, while still requiring an in-depth knowledge of them all in order to create an image that is new and striking.

So what do you think? Is it really necessary in an artistic world, or is it doing more damage then it’s worth? Let me know 🙂

T xx

 

Until Dawn: Review

PUBLIC SERVICE ANNOUNCEMENT: This game is currently free to download of the PSNetwork!

This weekend I spent most of my Friday night doing what any respectable 24 year old should be doing…playing a horror video game. I would like to say that I only did the game in sporadic play-throughs but no…I finished the game in maybe two nights. The first night, I had only just started, the story hadn’t begun to ramp up yet and I was tired. But the second night, I could NOT put the controller down. I needed to see how it ended and how I did overall.

General synopsis

Until Dawn is a 2014 horror game that tells the story of a group of teenagers. The story begins with them all playing a prank on one of the girls, who in her humiliation runs out onto the mountain, in the middle of winter and ends up getting lost. Her sister goes looking for her, only for them to fall down the mountain to their deaths. Fast forward a year, and the same group of friends are back at the mountain to pay their respects and honouring their friends’ memories. The characters are all varying degrees of generic teenagers: there’s a lot of angst, lots of unrequited love, lots of love triangles and therefore lots of drama BESIDES impending death and destruction. This game gives you the chance to play as every character, each taking their turn to play out the story as it is happening.

The Butterfly Affect aspect

The Butterfly Effect is the idea that one little decision or action can drastically alter the future: A flutter of a butterfly’s wings could cause a horrific storm 300 miles away. While it is far-fetched to think about it is still a really interesting idea, that all of our actions and our choices shape how our life turns out: One little chance meeting with someone on a train could mean you meet the love of your life, or being a few minutes late in the morning meant you never met that person to begin with. Until Dawn made it a bit more serious than that, making it very much a life or death situation, and the fact that the choices are timed forces you to make split second decisions that can alter the course of events following it. In the case of Until Dawn, this can determine whether or not the character you are playing as lives or dies.

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Game play itself

The game is similar to a telltale series game: Lots of cut scenes, lots of time to investigate places, quick time events and of course, timed choices. I am absolutely not a good person when it comes to shooting games, because try a I might I can not aim to save my life. These types of games suit me better: They feel like I’m watching a movie that I get to interact with, rather than having to try and beat countless enemies and complete quests. The story is awesome, as it keeps you really invested in what is happening: The only reason I stayed up for so long was because I needed to find out what would happen next.

The horror

This game is indeed a horror game though. It has jump scares galore, monsters that are scary as all hell and some genuinely tense moments: One of the scariest tasks is having to remain absolutely still (The PS4 controller has a motion sensor in it!) when a huge, screaming monster is circling you. The scares are also relatively clever, and are only used when really needed to progress the story forward. While some scares are very early on and are usually anti-climactic, it all helps to create that feeling of ‘horror’ within this game: What the characters go through, you go through as the player.

Image result for until dawn gifsJust one of the horrible deaths that can occur through bad decision making

The characters

Most importantly though, the characters are multi-dimensional: One of my favourite characters actually came across as the biggest jerk in the beginning, but as the game progresses and you start to see the consequences of your actions, the characters become far more important to you…some can even become LESS important to you when you see how they react to little choices you make. This game gets you invested from the get-go and I think that is what’s so enjoyable about it. Each character has their own set of personality traits, and you can also keep track on how every character views each other: Who is mad at who, who is fond of who, and who is most likely to leave you for dead just because you chose a seemingly small option. The characters are also surprisingly vast in personalities and it is nice to see them change throughout the course of the game.

Image result for until dawn gifsSam (played by Hayden Panettiere) and Josh (played by Rami Malek)

Overall?

Well worth a play! The game itself may not be an overly long game, but with the amount of stress you go through you’ll probably be thankful for it! It is a very fun game either way, and the fact that every decision leads to a different series of events, the ending can be different each time you play it. It’s fun just to see how each decision can change things and, more importantly, which decisions ultimately do nothing even though it seems like a super hard choice.

Have any of you guys played it? Let me know below your views on the game 🙂

T xx

 

How going vegan changed my life

No hyperbole intended…But it’s true. I have been vegan now for about 1 and a half years, and I am still learning new things every day. I am in no way, shape or form the ‘perfect vegan’ and I think that’s what makes this whole life style so exciting. So if you have ever thought about trying it, even for a few weeks or a month, here are some things that helped me make the decision and, most of all, stick to it!

1. My health

Anyone who really knows me will know that I have always had problems with my stomach. Countless trips to A&E, meetings with doctors and at one point I even tried alternative medicine practises to diagnose what my problems were. My stomach would cause me so many sleepless nights, from intense pain to constant discomfort for weeks at a time, but since going vegan these occurrence are few and far between. While I still do not have a definitive answer as to what the issue is (IBS? Hormone imbalance? Endometriosis? Chronns? Food allergies?) there is no doubt that switching to a plant based diet has helped lessen the symptoms dramatically!

Furthermore, my health in general is way better. I sleep better: I no longer wake up feeling tired and slugish, or wake up multiple times at night. I have more energy to do things: Recently I’ve started hitting the gym at 6am, heading to work for 9, rushing around all day until 5pm and then still having the energy to go for a long walk in the evenings before I cook my dinner and settle down for the night. I’m also a better runner, in that I feel my body is less achey after a hard gym session, my legs don’t feel as heavy when I run, and while I’m still not at my ideal level of fitness, having a stable plant based diet has undoubtedly helped me along that journey.

Furthermore, my diet is better because, quite frankly, most junk food isn’t suitable to vegans. Next time you go to a shop, pick up a bag of sweets, or a chocolate bar or even a can of soup and you will see that they almost all contain some sort of milk ingredient. Due to this, no matter how good that chocolate cake may look, when you have learnt all that I have about the diary and egg industries, the cake really doesn’t seem worth it at all. When I want to buy quick and easy food now (such as ready meals or microwavable foods), I have to really think about the food I am buying and normally, if I have to think that long about it, I don’t really want it to begin with! Plus, with all of the amazing alternatives being created every day, I am still able to enjoy all of my favourite comfort foods but in a way that causes the least amount of damage to our planet.

2. My appreciation for food

Now this may just be me, but I swear food tastes so much better now I’m vegan. Also, food just looks nicer. Every plate is bright with colours, smells amazing and tastes so much richer than any meaty meals I had in the past. Even when I was vegetarian, food didn’t look as inviting as it does now that I’m vegan. Now this may be simply because I am eating a much more varied diet of fruit, vegetables, tofu, lentils and nuts (to name but a few) but I just feel that vegan meals look so much more inviting than other diets out there.

I also have a better understanding of food. I have not always had the healthiest relationship with food, but since going vegan I feel I have gotten to understand food, nutrition and even my own body more. I am almost at the point where I can work out the exact food that it is craving, to the point I actually look forward to coming home and having a huge bowl of carrots and broccoli, or a nice cold smoothie. I now understand that calories are not necessarily all there is when it comes to food: Peanuts may be high in calories, but they are the super good fat that I need to get through a morning, and while bananas may be high calorie, they are the perfect way to stop my sore muscles from aching at the gym. Food not only looks and tastes better, but I also no understand how to nourish my body and how to eat in a balanced and healthy manner.

3. I feel like a better person

Now I am in no way saying that I am a better person when compared to others: I don’t think meat eaters are barbaric, or all a bunch of idiots, just as I don’t believe that all vegans are angelic activists. I feel that I am a better person when I look back at how I used to be as a person, which I think also shows how I no longer try to compare myself to others or try to appease other peoples desires: I am living my life in a way that is ideal for me, as an individual. I am able to live my life knowing that I am acting in a way that fulfils ME, that fulfils MY needs for MYSELF and allows ME to be the kind of person I wanted to be growing up.

I have always loved animals and the environment, and even though I went vegetarian at 16, it wasn’t until I was 21 that I finally started to understand the gap in my logic: I love animals, yet would cause them pain and suffering just by eating eggs. I am against oppressive and exploitative practices, yet still drank milk every morning with my tea. I feel as though I live a life that is now in line with all of my beliefs and that in itself is a very empowering feeling.

Now I’m not saying it isn’t tough sometimes: vegan junk food may be hard to find on a daily basis but it is not exactly impossible to find. Crisps, vegan chocolate bars and now sorbets and ice creams are all becoming more and more readily available, to the point I am probably eating more food than half of my friends! By understanding my food more, I now understand the difference between nice sugar (oranges, apples, kiwis etc) and bad sugar (vegan cakes, soy milkshakes, plant based candy) so that now when I want chocolate, I know that I really want chocolate, rather than just because it was convenient.

Still not convinced?

I am in no way saying that this should be a snap decision, as just with every lifestyle choice, it can be done wrong. The good thing about living in this day and age is that information is at the end of our fingertips no matter where we are and I believe veganism has taught me the importance of self-education. There are hundreds upon thousands of vegans in the world, and most of them are very lovely and encouraging individuals. Join a facebook group of vegans to get inspiration and motivation, follow vegan youtubers for yummy food ideas, google the animal agriculture business and learn about the industry on a deeper level than it’s advertising campaign. There is so much information out there that I know for a fact that I will NEVER know everything there is to know, but that’s what makes this entire life style so much more exciting. If in doubt, I find this little quote always gets me through:

Image result for dumbledore quotesDumbledore always came through with the nuggets of wisdom

If you guys have any questions then by all means ask away and I will be more than happy to help…or at least point in the direction of someone who knows more! 

T xxx

 

 

How can you be bored of board games?!

So this weekend I had a wonderful time at a place I really didn’t expect: A board game cafe. It seems that board games are now becoming trendy again, as I know of at least two cafes that have popped up near where I live. But why the sudden increase in popularity?

Social interaction

The main thing I enjoyed about playing board games with my friends, was the sheer social aspect of it. Looking around at all the tables of people I noticed how involved they were all getting in the social aspect of the game. Board games, no matter how simple they may seem, still manage to draw you into the excitement as much as a video game would, but with your friends along with the ride. I can not believe how much I laughed at a simple game of Connect 4, nor how much fun it could be beating my friends at the Game of Life.

A recent development in the wild lives of my friends and I are the Games Nights we have held: Normally this consists of us playing various rounds of Cards Against Humanity, having a few drinks, and realising just how twisted our sense of humour is (If you have played Cards Against Humanity, you too will understand this!) and yet still managing to catch up on our lives as ‘functioning adults’. To me, it feels like we have all found a way to be childish, without being immature. We are all there, in person, playing games that we can hold in our hands. We can read each other to find out who the werewolf is, or we can send subtle clues to each other to throw off the other team as to what our strategy will be. Sneaking truly becomes sneaky and victory tastes oh the more sweeter when you can rub it in their loser faces.

Image result for simpsons monopoly episode                                                        How monopoly usually ends

Imagination and problem solving

Case and point: Cluedo. Anyone who says that they are not competitive is a liar the second this game comes out, and it is literally a race to find out not only who the murderer is, but who can do it in the least amount of moves. I have not played this game in years and yet I won (bwah ha ha!) and I must admit it was a brain workout and a half. I saw my friends concentrate more on their questions in each round than they ever did for final exams. I think that is because, any mistake they make….we remember! There is no way to erase what has just happened, the silly move you made that just cost you a victory can not be overwritten on your save file by starting again. Every decision counts as a result, it takes way more time, thought and strategy than any virtual game ever will. If your friends don’t yell at you for disproving their accusations, then can you even call them your friends?

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The lack of technology

As I’ve grown up, I have realised that while I am indeed viewed as an adult, I have very little clue as to what I am doing half the time. It worries me that my friends and I are well and truly allowed to be the ‘adult supervision’ that many packages warn children they need before playing with something stupid. Something I have noticed from spending a whole Saturday morning playing board games is that, for one brief moment in time, everyone in that cafe was transported to a simple way of life. Not a single person had their phone in their face the entire time, and I only had mine out to take photos of my friends completing challenges, or filming little plastic chairs that were stacked precariously on the table. Board games show that you do not need technology in order to have an immersive experience. In my house, almost every board game turns into a contact sport, to the point which Scrabble is banned unless there is someone acting as referee, dictionary in hand, to reach a peaceful end to the game.

What about you? Which board games bring out your worst traits? And which games have lead to some of your best memories?

T xx

 

Easiest ways to help the planet

While this post is technically a day late, I thought it would be a good time to right a list of everything you can do on a daily basis to help protect the Earth. Whether you chose to believe in global warming or not, there is no doubt that our planet is not in a good state: Ocean temperatures are rising, coral reefs are being bleached into obscurity and the amount of pollution we are producing is not a maintainable standard of life. Therefore, in honour of Earth Day 2017 here is a list of how to be kinder to our planet.

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Recycling

This is probably one of the easiest ways in which you can lessen your impact on the Earth. In 2015, the EU made it mandatory to separate out all recyclable waste from normal rubbish, and for the most part it is pretty easy. But why is it good for the environment? For the most part, rubbish that is not recyclable just ends up in a land fill where it can be burned, but is usually just packed into the ground. Everywhere has their own method of dealing with it, but these are the most common solutions. Obviously, land fills are bad news: They are dirty, contaminating and not to mention a complete eye sore for anyone who happens to live near one. It’s not nice to look at and it is just using our earth as a dumping ground for all of our unnecessary stuff.

Recycling on the other hand allows us to reuse the things we need to throw away: In most cases, recyclable products such as plastic bottles, paper and tin cans can all be melted down to create new tin cans, new water bottles, and in some cases even make handbags, notebooks and shoes. By doing this, we can create a maintainable resource as we do not have to continually cut down trees to make new paper, nor do we have to make room in our countryside for unnecessary landfills. It is kinder on the planet, and a more resourceful way of making our products so that we don’t have to worry about the future of our planet every time we buy a bottle of water.

For more facts about recycling and it’s benefits, have a look at this!

Reusable items

Something that links on to the above point is the use of reusable items: Water bottles, coffee cups, thermos flasks…the list can be endless and for most part of relatively cheap alternatives to buying one every day. Plastic water bottles are surprisingly expensive, especially when you can drink the tap water for free in almost every part of the world. Why spend £1 every time you need a bottle of water, when you can spend £5 and have a bottle readily available to fill up throughout the day as and when you need to. Personally, I drink a lot of water anyway but when it’s hot or I’m out and about a lot seeing friends or running errands, having a bottle of water on hand in my bag is a genuine money saver and life saver.

You can also do the same with reusable coffee cups: Most disposable ones are not recyclable, so if you buy a Starbucks or Costa coffee every morning on your way to work, then it is definitely worth investing in a nice, sturdy, washable travel mug that you can reuse each morning. You can pick up pretty good ones for about £3 or less on ebay, and they can come in so many pretty colours your main concern will be choosing your favourite!

Diet

It has long been known that red meat has been linked to climate change, but how so? Well, aside from the animals rights side of things, raising animals for food requires massive amounts of land, food, energy, and water. In a report by the Worldwatch Institute, 51% (at least!) of global greenhouse-gas emissions are caused by animal agriculture. Furthermore, most deforestation is caused by the demand for animal rearing land, where large areas of the rain forest are being cut down to make room for even more farmed cows to be raised and slaughtered. With less trees, more CO2 is released into the air and thus causes a rise in climate change, as trees take the CO2 and convert it into oxygen during photosynthesis.

Therefore, if you care about the environment, it is advised to leave meat, especially red meat, off of your plate. This however is also not considering the impact that even fish, chicken and pork have on your health and the overall impact it has on the environment: Chickens may not be as gaseous as cows, but they still take a huge amount of land, water and food to raise them so that they can become food themselves. Over fishing is now a problem across the world, with many ecosystems being negatively effected by the amount of fish that we are taking from the sea. Many other species of marine life are also being killed by mistake, including whales, dolphins, turtles and sharks, all because we as a species have such a high demand for fish meat.

Needless to say, cutting out meat from your diet is a huge way you can combat climate change without even trying to and in this day and age where more and more people are realising the positive impacts a vegetable diet can have on their life and their environment, there are so many new and exciting replacements out there that can make going vegetarian or vegan a very easy and straight forward process. I, for example, have been vegan for about a year and a half now, and have saved around 2,269,326 litres of water, 1,526 sq. metres of forest, 4,960 of CO2 and 545 animal lives. Even if you don’t care all that much about animals, you can’t deny that just by cutting out meat from your diet you are combating huge amounts of climate change.

Have a look at this website to see how much you can save by switching to an animal free diet.

A few extra tips

Next time you buy a kitchen appliance, get one that is Energy Star-approved, and only plug in electrical equipment when you use it often: Don’t leave them on standby, or leave your phone charging all night long.

Skip the pre-rinse when using a dishwasher and only run it when full as this can save up to 7,300 gallons of water a year!

Buy local, plant-based food to cut back on the distance it has to travel from farm to plate, as this will in turn reduce the amount of emissions caused.

Doggy bags or composting are the way forward: only order or make as much food as you can eat in one sitting to prevent waste. If you happen to have leftovers, store them in a reusable glass or stainless-steel container and compost any inedible scraps. Compost can then be used to grow your own vegetables and thus teach you how to be self-sufficient and with less chemical pollution in our soil and our air.

Organise a clothes swap with friends or work colleagues, or even donate unwanted furniture and clothing to charities. This way your trash doesn’t end up in a landfill anywhere but rather can become another person’s treasure. Most cities have clothing bins, but most charity shops are happy to take any unwanted clothing, furniture, books and china (provided they are all clean and still usable!). If there is no chance anyone else would want it, why not get creative and turn those old jeans into a storage box, or that old knitted jumper into a comfy pillow or even a throw? The possibilities are endless!

As you can see, there are many ways that you can help lessen the impact we have on the environment, and with scientific and technological advances being made every day, we as a society should be focused on moving toward a sustainable and healthy way of living so that generations after us can enjoy all of the wonders that this world has to offer.

Image result for earth quotes

Do you guy have any environmental friendly tips too? I’d love to hear some other ideas!

T xxx

The devil is in the detail

I have commented on copyright infringement in regards to video games before in some of my previous posts, but I have been thinking lately about what this means for other creative mediums. In particular, can fashion be protected under copyright law? In this day and age, with 3D printers, online shopping and very skilled seamsters cheap knock-ff of very expensive and popular items can be found across the globe in attempt for these people to make a quick bit of easy cash. In 2015 EU’s Office for Harmonization in the Internal Market conducted a study that found that 9.7% of all items on the market were counterfeit, and as a result accounted for around €26.3 billion of revenue lost every year. While it may not be a mainstream issue, it is clearly a huge problem for those who wish to work within such an industry.

Why else does this matter?

In the 2006 movie The Devil wears Prada, Meryl Streep’s character has a little speech about why fashion matters and the end punch line is that it all matters, because you live your life in it. We spend every day wearing clothes, that while we do not think are overly important, they still say who we are: Our personal style helps to create first impressions to those we meet and how we carry ourselves through society. Trends in fashion also reflect the issues of society at any given time: punk rockers dressed the way they did to silently protest against the conformity seen throughout the rest of society, just as vegans can now wear clothing that has little to no impact on the environment and causes no harm to animals. As much as we don’t want to admit that we care about ‘fashion’, we all care about style in that we all care about how we dress ourselves, even if it is only for the feeling of power that is gives us to wear what we like, how we like and when we like.

Blair Waldorf (played by Leighton Meister) in Gossip Girl

How does the law approach it?

As with everything to do with law, interpretation is everything. Lucky for us, fashion is all about interpretation and based on the statute alone, fashion is not actually mentioned under the Copyright, Patents and Design Rights Act 1988. Under this law, a creative medium needs to fall within one of the categories within the legislation and while there is some leeway as to how the courts label fashion, it is most likely to fall within the definition of ‘artistic craftsmanship’. Now this is not really helpful, but thankfully there is a LOT of case law to refer to in order to try and make a decision.

In Hensher v Restawhile, the House of Lords stated hat a prototype for a distinctive three-piece lounge suite, which was intended for mass production, was not artistic although the Lords differed in their reasons as to why. Then there was a case about a baby’s cape which was held not to be artistic because there was no intention to create an artistic work, just as a patchwork bedspread was not deemed to be artistic because although the designs were “pleasing to the eye” they were not sufficiently creative. This has been discussed in fashion relevant case law where sweaters and cardigans were held not to be artistic. Although the items in question had been displayed in the V&A Museum, they were exhibited as examples of developments in fashion rather than as works of art. One case in recent years that has also addressed this issue was related to the storm trooper helmets from the Star Wars movies, where the High Court held that the helmets were not artistic because their purpose was not aesthetic. The Supreme Court later held that the helmets were not sculptures, and could not be protected in that way either, which brings to attention the need for aspects of fashion to be protected from copyright infringement.

The majority of cases seem to show that there is a lot of debate over whether fashion can count as ‘artistic’: as a rule of thumb it seems the work must be aesthetically appealing to the general population or must have been created as an artistic work. To me, art and an ‘artistic’ creation should make you feel something. Now this may be confusing to those who are interested in fashion: How anyone can look at Charlize Theron in that gold Dior dress, or stare at a pair of Louboutin high heel courts and not see the art in them might as well be dead inside.

Image result for j'adore gold dress                                   Charlize Theron in the Dior J’adore perfume advert

On the other hand, “craftsmanship” is potentially easier to meet. Knitting and tapestry-making have been treated as crafts, usully on the basis that they are one off creations that were intended for artistic work. In Hensher v Restawhile, Lord Reid and Viscount Dilhorne said that the requirement for craftsmanship implies that a work must be hand-made whereas Lord Simon held that “craftsmanship” cannot be limited to handicraft and that the word “artistic” in itself is incompatible with machine production. This therefore suggests that if a designer is to make a one-ff, limited edition piece of haute couture clothing that is not designed to be mass-produced, then this could potentially be protected under ‘craftsmanship’ and thus protected by copyright. But what does this mean for mass-produced clothing?

In short, the UK is still pretty slow on the protection available for fashion under copyright law. There have been many debates and papers on what can be done about this, with many of them pointing towards the European model of an open list: In France, Germany and even in the US, any work which is original can be protected by copyright. In France, the threshold for originality is a work which “bears the stamp of the author’s personality” and in Germany copyright protects “personal intellectual creations”. This allows for a much smaller threshold to be met by designers and as such less chance of them being copied without the author’s consent. It also means that there is no need for long and complex case law or debate around the issue as it is simply stated within legislation and only needs to be discussed when it needs to clarified on a large scale. This appears to be not only the simplest option for designers, but also the easiest way for the UK intellectual property offices to keep an eye on potential infringements on the open market.

Image result for fashion gifs

Here today, gone tomorrow

One potentially reason why there is no real need for there to be protection for fashion is because fashion is always changing: What is fashionable this week will most likely be forgotten about in a months time. Fashion is a constantly evolving aspect of society and while trends may come and go, the fashion industry is constantly in a state of innovation and trying to create pieces that have never before been seen. Trends are only meant to last a few years at the most, as anytime after that they either become iconic for the time period, or they become cringe-worthy (in some cases they can be both!).

What do you guys think? What would you want to see within the fashion industry?

T xx

 

The real OG

‘You are unique…just like everybody else.’

This simple statement is a pretty common oxymoron. While it is still true that there are no two people who are 100% identically the same, the fact that we are all different is one of the main things humanity has in common. So is there such a thing anymore as originality? No matter what we wear, how we act or what we create, there is a high chance that there is someone else out there in the world who is doing the exact same thing. But that doesn’t mean it’s all doom and gloom…

Is originality even a thing?

Everyone is shaped by their experiences: Everything that we come into contact with over our lives shapes us into the person and the personality that we become. Due to this, inspiration is everywhere and we may even be influenced by things that we aren’t even aware we have noticed. A newspaper article from 10 years ago could be the reason you want to draw pictures, in the same way that a loud car stereo blasting 80s pop driving past you may make you want to start writing. It could be near impossible to pinpoint the exact reasons why we are all the way we are, but it doesn’t stop the fact that we have all been influenced by something else, which was no doubt influenced by something before it and so on and so forth.

Image result for originality gifsFightclub breaking all the walls

So it possible to still be original? If everything we ever create is nothing more than a step up from something we have seen, can we even say that it is our own work? From a legal standpoint, intellectual property has guides in place to ensure that no work has been intentionally copied: As long as you can prove that you created a piece of work through your own thought processes and own design plans, chances are you’re going to be fine (obviously it’s a bit more succinct than this, but I don’t think I have the time to explain it all!). But on a more philosophical level, is it possible for any of us to claim that our brand new identity or our way of dress is an original one?

Subculture symmetry

Everyone knows the old troupe: In high school you have those who follow the norms of society, and then you have the odd little groups of people who do not.

Image result for mean girls group gifs Mean Girls showcased this perfectly…

From the sociological aspect, all of these little groups within society are known as ‘subcultures’ where everyone within that subculture shares the same norms and values. However, in today’s society these  subcultures can have very blurred cut off points within them. I, for example, would not necessarily fit into one subculture alone: I may be blonde, wear a lot of pink and love pop music, but I also love video games, superheros and reading science fiction novels…I also don’t think I’m a mean enough person to have been one of the Plastics, but I digress. Subcultures by nature always include some form of similarity: members tend to dress the same, talk the same and even believe the same things. Key examples of this are the 1980s Punk, the 2000s Goth and even now the emergence of the Seapunk. They all look the same as each other, but at least they’re not mainstream. In some ways, subcultures go against originality as the entire practice seems to try and place members of society into boxes. Is this why originality is so hard to come across? The use of labels?

So what does this mean?

Today’s society is a massively innovative one with common social norms being challenged everyday from every aspect of itself. Young people are leading the gender revolution, wanting to do away with normal sexuality labels and gender stereotypes and instead move to an inclusive and free state of simply just existing: love who you love, be whatever gender you decide, believe whatever it is you wish to believe…but know that you will be accepted purely on who you are rather than how you have been socialised and labelled. For some people, especially those in a creative setting, this can be a whole new challenge, as trying to be memorable in a world where everything merges together is not an easy task. but perhaps this is where we fail.

Moving forward…

Just because something has done before does not mean that it is not original or innovative. it is common knowledge that anyone can copy something: If i can’t draw, I’ll just trace a picture, if I can’t write songs, I’ll just mash a load together. Originality comes from the little bits of you that you add to it to make it better: Five Night’s at Freddy’s fans are another key example of this as while the games they make are not, by nature, original content, the stories they create, the character interactions they add and the overall game play of said games are enough to make the new games original enough to improve and add to the existing base. Everything may not be original, but if something is added to the original to progress the entire idea forward, then that alone should be enough to be original.

“Even in literature and art, no man who bothers about originality will ever be original: whereas if you simply try to tell the truth (without caring twopence how often it has been told before) you will, nine times out of ten, become original without ever having noticed it.”

– C.S Lewis

T xx

Things I wish I knew before I studied law

Image result for go to law school they said meme

Accurate representation of me throughout my 4 years of studying law

When I went to law school, there were a lot of surprises: the workload, the content and above all else, the career prospects.

Don’t get me wrong, I LOVED studying law and even to this day I am still keen to read my course books over and over again in order to keep my memory fresh. But there are a few things I wish someone had told me before I started my studies and I would like to share those with you now.

1. Dry, Dry and Dry

Something to be aware of about law school is the unbelievably dry content of the topics. The undergraduate degree is a lot more focused on the theory behind laws rather than the actual law itself: Nothing is straight-forward. While you may have a few subjects that have really interesting cases (criminal, here’s looking at you!) the majority of other subjects such as contract, tort, land and equity are all very much focused on the interpretation of the law and the consequences of such interpretations. In a nutshell, while the law may say one thing, a judge may say the complete opposite based on interpretation and thus that is a new spanner to throw into the already heaving works.

2. Be prepared for some weirdness

This relates to the above note quite a lot and I would like to warn you before hand to be ready to hear some really weird stuff while you study. Especially when it comes to criminal law. If you are someone who is more conservative or uncomfortable discussing the nasty habits of society then this may not be a nice few years of study for you: In my second year of undergraduate degree, my Monday mornings consisted of learning about cases that dealt with sadomasochistic sex and acts that not even 50 Shades would condone (I will not go into details but most cases involved candles, nails and man-bits). Then again, some of the situations that people managed to get themselves into regarding contract law and land disputes will also make you stare in both shock and disbelief that so many people can have so little common sense. But do not fret because this brings me onto the next point…

3. You will become desensitised to all of the weirdness

Eventually, you really will have heard everything. It is very rare, especially when studying, to read about a situation that has absolutely no precedent and after a while all of these situations will begin to be funny rather than shocking. Furthermore, it always stands to remember that an entire field of law was founded because one man found a snail in his bottle of ginger beer. The more cases you read, the more you stop being shocked by what you have read and simply add it to the long list of cases that already exist. So bear with it all…after the fourth or fifth case of the same scenario, it no longer seems that weird.

4. Law is not a single destination

When you begin law school, it is drilled into you from that point onwards that you have two options: Solicitor or barrister. It can sometimes be difficult to see any other career path as all work experience and lectures are focused on getting you into one of those two fields. If you are lucky, you already know which path you want to take and this is not news to you. However if you are like me and want to study law simply because you think it will be interesting, then there are a few more things to be aware of. Law is a wonderful subject and it will redoubtably be useful no matter what profession you later decide to go into: become an estate agent based on land law, a journalist based on media law, a news presenter based on public law and so on and so forth…the list really is endless! I have many classmates who have gone on to work as television producers, research assistants, bankruptcy officers and even company secretaries. Other careers such as patent attorneys or IP consultants have their own training programmes available so that you can do more or less the same role as a solicitor but be more specialised in an area of law that you find most appealing.

Also, the life of a solicitor and a barrister is not for everyone: the responsibility and the stress of such a job can be too much for some people to cope with. Therefore jobs as a paralegal, legal secretary, legal assistant or even as a personal assistant to a solicitor allow people to work closely with the law without having to shoulder so much pressure while doing so.

5. Breathe.

This is probably the most important. Throughout my time at university, my classmates and I spent the majority of our time racing to keep up with the work load (even when we were on top of our workload) and no surprise we would burn out every few months. So my advice, my main piece of advice, is to breathe. Research has shown that the optimum amount of time you can spend studying is roughly 2 hours…any more than that and your brain is no longer paying attention and you shall remember nothing new. Set yourself a target (I used an alarm clock) to work for 2 hours on any given topic and then take a break for 15-30 minutes: Enough time to make a cup of tea and actually drink it all, or to watch one YouTube video, or even to walk around the block quickly. When you come back to studying you will be more refreshed and more ready to start again and thus avoid any chances for burning out. Also, set yourself at least one nice social event or pamper evening a week: See a friend for coffee, have a movie night with your partner, go out for dinner with your parents. Whatever it is, do something that is completely unrelated to your studies so that you can completely decompress after a week of solid studying. It will be worth it and you will be able to keep up momentum for much longer.

NOTE: This last comment isn’t exclusive to law, as it should be remembered that no matter what course you are studying or what career you are aiming to go into, your own mental health is worth so much more than a qualification!

NOW GO GET ‘EM!

Image result for studying gifs

 

T xx