Archive for January, 2012

The benefits cap

Tuesday, January 31st, 2012 | Religion & Politics, Thoughts

There has been much discussion about the benefits cap recently – on one hand you don’t want to put families into poverty, but on the other hand you can argue it’s perfectly reasonable to expect a family to live on a £36,000 salary – especially given the alternative, often a minimum wage job, pays only a third of that.

One of the biggest portions of this benefit is child benefit and the argument is made that this is required because parents cannot afford to go to work because of the prohibitive cost of childcare.

One solution to this problem however, would be rather than spending all the money on child benefit, to spend the money on free, or at least heavily subsided childcare.

This would mean that parents could get access to affordable childcare and therefore be free to work. It also means that lots more jobs would be created.

Of course you could argue that if you’re going to spend money paying people to look after children, you might as well just have child benefit so parents can stay at home. But this doesn’t stack up because it’s far less efficient to have everyone staying at home looking after a small number of children.

Forsyth Business Centre

Monday, January 30th, 2012 | Reviews

We recently moved the Chris Worfolk Foundation office to a different business centre in Leeds city centre. Given that we are in serviced offices, you would imagine that this would be a simple process. After all, all those adverts talk about getting a new office overnight so what could be simpler?

Of course, it actually isn’t that simple.

Firstly, when we tried to cancel our existing contract with Forsyth, we were told we couldn’t, as we had to give at least two months written notice and it was too close to the deadline to do this – that means that we had to sign a new agreement with them, otherwise we would go onto what was referred to as their rack rate, which had never been mentioned before, but was apparently very, very expensive.

Instead, they proposed that we simply re-sign a three month agreement, at an additional cost of £22 per month because rent is higher for short term contracts. Interesting, I say rent, but it isn’t actually rent as part of the agreement is that you’re not actually a tenant, you’re a “service user” so allow them to get round a lot of the laws set up to protect tenants.

They also insisted on a higher deposit, which meant we had to make an additional deposit payment of £69.60.

They also charge a “minimum flat fee” of £60 per workstation (we have two in the office) for redecorating the office into it’s original state, even though as part of the agreement, you have to return it to them in the originate state, or they charge you extra for this.

So, when you add up the maths, it comes out like this:

  • Extra three months enforced office rent: £914.40
  • Extra business service fees incurred for those months: £215.94
  • Extra business rates incurred for those months: £57
  • Standard repair bills for a pristine office: £120

That makes a total cost of £1,307.34. Of course, this wasn’t a huge surprise to us, as it’s all detailed in the agreement that we signed when we took on the office. What is more of a surprise is just how much it all adds up when you actually do the figures.

On top of that, when we got the office the door lock wasn’t working properly. I spoke to the centre manager and sent numerous emails over the course of the year to get it fixed and every time I was promised it would be, but it never was.

As a result of the problem, the door handle ended up breaking and still nothing was done about it. Yet once we had moved out, we were then given an extra bill for £120 to fix the door we had apparently broken (this is on top of the repair bills, which don’t actually repair anything).

That makes a total cost of £1,427.34. A bill the charity certainly did not need!

All Time Low

Sunday, January 29th, 2012 | Music, Reviews

All Time Low

Last week, I went to see All Time Low. I was probably the only person there old enough to buy alcohol, who wasn’t there chaperoning their child. I was worried every time the security guy walked past that we was going to say “excuse me sir, you’re clearly not a fan of this band.” Unfortunately, I have to go see pop punk bands like All Time Low because all of the bands I used to like have stopped touring after all their other fans grew up and matured.

I didn’t get there until they were half way through their set, but that actually worked quite well as I just got to hear their good songs :D.

Heat source

Saturday, January 28th, 2012 | Photos

With Elina gone, I’m now relying on Jeff to keep me warm at night.

Dinner at The Playhouse

Friday, January 27th, 2012 | Food, Reviews

Recently, I headed over to the West Yorkshire Playhouse, where my sister currently works, to have dinner with my parents and one of my grandmothers.

They have a restaurant in there, though they don’t offer table service, it’s more of a cafe slash restaurant, and to be fair to them, that is what they sell it as. The food was, however, rather disappointing. It was well cooked but it wasn’t very warm, probably a result of the excessively long wait in line to be served.

I could have understood this slightly more if they were busy, but with accelerated dining experience being my area it was obvious what they were doing wrong and how with a few simple changes they could quickly clear such problems up.

Virgin Active The Light review

Thursday, January 26th, 2012 | Reviews

While my experiences had been positive enough to make it worth joining Virgin Active’s gym in The Light (previously Esporta), subsequence experiences have been disappointing.

First off, it was busy on an evening. This is contradictory to what Jen from the membership department told me, who said the pool was quite on an evening. Of course, she is from membership and so is going to say this, but you expect a little bit of truth, even if it is heavily moderated.

Secondly, the changing rooms where just dirty. Discarded towels lying around, a few chocolate bar wrappers on the floor and the floor was in need of a good mop. Their second hot tub was also still out of order and has been since last year. They still have one, so it’s not critical I guess, but still it has been two weeks now. The hair dryers are also quite underpowered.

Add this to the fact that the water makes Elina feel sick I think I’m settled that The Marriot is the gym for me. I wouldn’t say I had a bad experience at Virgin Active, because it’s been fine and the staff have been friendly. But The Marriot is a definite winner for me.

Fast math

Wednesday, January 25th, 2012 | Success & Productivity

What is nine times seven? Did you know it was sixty three before reading this far? You probably did, but don’t pat yourself on the back too hard yet, as it could well have been that your brain was already reading ahead and the buffered information hadn’t reached your consciousness yet (if that is a thing, I think it is but I’m not a psychologist). Although, being a reader of my blog, you probably could do the math that fast anyway.

But not everybody can. Not because maths might not be their strong point but because they don’t use the same technique we do.

I mean, working out nine times seven isn’t nine times seven really is it? It’s ten times seven, minus seven. Because that is way faster. Because you can almost instantly tell that ten times seven is seventy, then all you do is subtract seven and you have your answer.

This was always obvious to me. But then, maths was always a far stronger side for me than English was. Hence why I can easily do such maths, but why there will almost certainly be parts of this blog post which make no grammatical sense at all. But it was brought to my attention when someone told me they had been learning about little techniques like that, that for some people it isn’t obviously, but you can teach them it and their maths skills get a lot faster.

In fact, it’s almost always faster to do it that way. Take six times seven for example. If I didn’t know that off by heart I would do seven times ten, seventy, divided by two, because again that is easy maths, thirty five, plus seven, gives you forty two. That would be way faster than counting up seven, fourteen, twenty one, etc, etc, even though it’s actually three different multiplications.

It’s like the i++ of the human brain.

Remembering a word

Tuesday, January 24th, 2012 | Thoughts

Is there anything worse than when you just can’t remember a word no matter how hard you try?

Yes. Yes there is. Cancer. Smallpox. TB. Disease in general. War. Crime. Guns. X Factor. Poverty. Death, taxes, earthquakes, hard to open packaging, etc, etc.. Ok, so there are many things worse than not being able to remember a specific word, but it’s still quite annoying.

So I thought I would share my experiences, to see if others (ie, you, the reader) had similar processes or maybe even some better suggestions.

The biggest problem I find is that I will get a specific sound stuck in my head. I have the sound “an” stuck in my head, but the word I’m trying to think of begins with a “sh” sound – and no matter how hard I try, all the word I can think of keep beginning with an “an” sound, and even when I deliberately think of another word, I just find myself drifting back to the same sound, even though I’ve tried all the possibilities and it clearly doesn’t start with that (I’m 95% sure…).

The problem (I imagine) is that my brain is stuck in a particular pattern, and I need to get out of that pattern.

The way I get round that it to just start thinking of other random sounds, and indeed making that sound in my head. Not actual words, just the sounds. “be…”, “du…”, “re…”, over and over. That is all I usually need my conscious mind to do, and the rest of my mind will then suddenly make the connection, and I think of the word when I hit the right sound.

Anyway, the moral of the story is, the brain is pretty cool.

ZonePlay on PlanetWin365

Monday, January 23rd, 2012 | Life


I’m pleased to say that after much blood, sweat and toil, we have finally launched ZonePlay live with one of our internet partners, PlanetWin365. It’s been a tough couple of months with plenty of late nights, early mornings, but it’s very gratifying to see the product go live in a brand new outlet. Full credit to Russ and Andy who have worked their metaphorical socks off to get it there.


Sunday, January 22nd, 2012 | Family & Parenting, Photos

She left me roses by the stairs. Surprises let me know she cares.

Which reminds me, I’ve now been waiting almost a year to see Blink-182 and the gig is still months anyway…