Forces loyal to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad have today launched an air-strike attack against the rebel-held city of Qusayr, in Homs province, according to reports by opponents fighting against Mr. Assad’s government.
After months of fighting outside Qusayr between state forces and rebels, the Syrian army counter-struck with the aerial attack in an attempt to push back gains made by the rebels in recent months, according to a statement by opposition spokesperson Abu Ali.
Observers of Syria‘s state television have additionally confirmed to international news network CNN that the Syrian army have begun pounding the city with heavy artillery. Government tanks have completely surrounded the city and are moving in from various locations around Qusayr’s outskirts, according to the BBC. Qusayr has been under siege for several months, as various parts of Syria, including districts of the capital Damascus, pass from government to rebel control, and then revert again within weeks.
There have been claims that fighters from Lebanon’s Hezbollah a Shi’a outfit considered terrorists by the United States and the European Union, are co-operating with the Syrian army to retake the town, which is situated close to the Lebanese border.
Meanwhile, in a sign that the war is becoming more sectarian, hundreds of Lebanese Sunnis have crossed the border to support the beleaguered rebels, who are predominately fellow Sunnis. Bashar al-Assad’s Ba’ath party is mostly drawn from the Alawi (Alawite) minority.
Opposition activists have so far claimed the offensive has resulted in the loss of 16 lives as the air strikes come under way. Reports are coming in of ‘heavy shelling’. Officials from the U.S. Department of State also claim that government forces air-dropped propaganda leaflets over Qusayr, warning of dire consequences if the rebels retained control of the town and persisted with the siege.
In Lebanon’s capital Beirut, the BBC’s Jim Muir stated that should Qusayr remain in rebel hands, it will enable them easy passage to move arms and supplies along the porous border of Lebanon, which has traditionally come under Syria’s sphere of influence. Occupying the border town would give the Syrian army an advantage as they would be successful in cutting off opposition supply lines.
Since the civil war in Syria began in the wake of the ‘Arab Spring’ last year, it is estimated that around 60-80,000 people have perished in the fighting, with an additional 1.1 million refugees fleeing to squalid refugee camps in Syria’s neighbours Lebanon and Turkey. They are living in destitute conditions and survive with the help of NGO’s and sympathetic locals. However tensions are rising between displaced Syrians and Turks in the NATO power’s southern regions, most notably after a recent bomb blast in the town of Reyhanli, in which Syrians were attacked and their vehicles damaged by revenge mobs in the aftermath.
President Bashar al-Assad has remained openly defiant of both Syrian rebels and the West in their aims to put an end to his nearly thirteen years of autocratic rule of one of the Middle East’s largest nations. Assad has come under heavy criticism by Western powers for a litany of human rights abuses, including wholesale bombing of civilian areas, summary execution of rebels and alleged chemical attacks on villages in the north of Syria which killed one person. The West has so far stuck to a ‘hands-off approach’ as they seek to avoid another Iraq-style conflict and exacerbate sectarian tensions in the region.
Rebel forces have also been accused of human rights abuses and war crimes. This week a rebel leader was videoed cutting out the heart and liver from the corpse of a government soldier and taking a bite out of the heart as he swore revenge on troops loyal to President Assad. The video was received with international disgust and condemnation and the rebels have promised to take action against the commander featured in the mobile video.
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- Warring Syrian rebel groups abduct each other’s members (timesofisrael.com)
- Syria army warns civilians to leave Qusayr: military (dailystar.com.lb)
- Refugees fleeing besieged Qusayr say Syrian rebels dug… (yallasouriya.wordpress.com)
- Syria troops, Hezbollah advancing on Qusayr: activists (dailystar.com.lb)
- Refugees fleeing besieged Qusayr say Syrian rebels dug in, preparing for government onslaught (miamiherald.com)
- Syrian rebels: Dozens hurt in chemical weapons attack in Damascus (timesofisrael.com)
- Syria’s Assad says he won’t step down (dailystar.com.lb)
- Syria video ‘appears to show rebel mutilating corpse’, says Human Rights Watch – The Guardian (guardian.co.uk)
- Rebel commander claims Israel, Hezbollah and Iran working with Assad (theiranproject.com)
- Syrian rebels vow to punish heart eater (abc.net.au)
CNN International on Twitter LINK
“Opposition: Syrian army targets rebel-held city” – Yousuf Basil, CNN – Edition International LINK
“Syria army ‘storms’ rebel town Qusair” – BBC News Middle East LINK
“Bashar al-Assad” – Wikipedia LINK
By Vijay Shah
This month has been a great one for the blog as far as the blogger’s award is concerned. No sooner have we recovered from being nominated for the Wonderful Team Membership and Super Sweet Awards by two of our regular readers/bloggers, just this week I was kindly informed of a special seven-in-one….that’s right folks, you read that correctly….7-in-1 awards package courtesy of blogger Jill London.
Unlike trophies at sporting events, at least I will have room to set aside my newly acquired bumper harvest of blogging accolades.
Jill is a children’s author based here in the United Kingdom. She has been penning and scribing since the tender age of 11. Her works have been published on the web and in the women’s magazine My Weekly. She has also recently published her first ‘proper’ printed book, Evertrue, a fantasy story book aimed at younger readers aged 9-12 years which is now being stocked by online retail giant Amazon. When not busy dreaming up new ideas for exciting and enchanting stories, Jill spends time walking her Labrador dog, Lucy.
Jill London runs a blog which bears her name and be viewed here. Her blog is a theatre dedicated to “diverging thoughts on books, writing, art and general what-have-you, considerately ordered” and makes a great first impression visually with its quirky and colour-rich appearance.
If you want to view the package of awards sent my way by Jill – the original article can be seen at:
To make things easier and not to end up harassing other bloggers with messages and award nominations, Jill has conveniently packaged some easy-to-follow instructions for myself and my nominees. Although there are seven different peer blogging awards, you can accept as many or as few as you want!. I am accepting for the first time five as the other two have been given to me by other blogging friends.
The Half-Eaten Mind has accepted the following awards:
1. Sunshine Award (first-time nomination)
2. Wonderful Team Membership Award (nominated previously)
3. Liebster Blog Award (first-time nomination)
4. Super Sweet Blogging Award (nominated previously)
5. Dragon’s Loyalty Award (first-time nomination)
6. Shine On Award (first-time nomination)
7. Best Moment Award (first-time nomination)
And now THE RULES! (for my nominees, supplied courtesy of Jill London)
- Answer the 10 random questions or those of your own choosing.
- Nominate 10 other bloggers for the Award and link their blog sites.
- Notify the bloggers of their award.
- Ask the award winners to answer the 10 questions when they accept their Award.
1. Do you have a goal in life?
I have a few. I want to get out of the houseshare I am currently shacked up in and have my own place of peace and quiet. Unfortunately here in London, house prices and rents are ridiculously inflated so that will be a tough goal to achieve. Also I want to get into a career in journalism especially in international/general news reportage…and I want to get married, settled down and have a family. Those are my ambitions in life.
2. City or countryside?
Difficult to choose. I am a natural born city-slicker having grown up in and around England’s capital city so this is my usual terrain, but I do love the tranquillity and natural bliss of the countryside, plus living there means a lot less strain from polluting particulates on the old lungs. At the same time though I cannot drive, so getting around would be a challenge. So I will say countryside, but only when I am an old man and I have at least got my provisional driving licence.
3. What was the last word you looked up in the dictionary?
Although I have an old Oxford pocket dictionary given to me by my stepdad years ago, I hardly make use of bound lexicons now, what with the global grammatical powers of the Net just a mouse click away. But if online word searches count for this question, then the last word I looked up was “convoluted”. I was unsure of the spelling, having made a complete cock-up of it before while stretching out a previous article. Yes, I know as a journalism graduate I am supposed to be on the ball with spellings and grammar, but no-one is perfect!
4. If you had a time machine where would you go?
The West End (of London) in the Seventies, just so I could bust an intestine laughing at all those mullets and bell-bottom trousers that were all the rage then. Totally groovy, man!.
5. Pirate or Vampires?
Pirates. Twilight ruined it for vampires as far as I am concerned. And who could argue with the debonair class and witticisms of Captain Jack Sparrow. Sparkly-ass wimpires are only good for when EDF mess up with the electricity supply and you’re completely surrounded by that darkest of darkened power cut-grade darknesses.
6. Are you an easily satisfied person or do you keep working to obtain something?
Like a lot of men, it does not take much to please me. I did not grow up in a rich family (no silver spoons, just stainless steel ones from the local Woolworths) so I did not live out my childhood surrounded by mollycoddling parents and expensive gifts. However I do believe that if you really want something, you have got to prepared to work very hard for it. Nothing in life is for free, apart from junk mail and air.
7. Sweet or savoury?
The sweeter the better, although I really need to cut back on the old cane sugar.
8. Do you believe in Karma?
I am a Hindu, so it is safe to assume I believe in Karma, I have personally seen people who caused suffering to me and others get their ‘just desserts’ a few years down the line. Sorry to those readers who do not subscribe to religious beliefs, but personally I hold it true to myself that God sees and notes everything, good and bad, and you will have to answer for your deeds eventually.
9. What’s your favourite comedy film?
I love British comedy films, especially the basic ‘naughty seaside postcard’ humour of the Carry On films, but also a good helping of the more modern stuff, Four Lions, Ali G Indahouse, Shaun of the Dead….legendary. I am also a big fan of the American Pie movies (even if they are a bit too smutty sometimes) and the Police Academy films from the 80′s. The Academy movies on my watchlist at weekends, just as soon as I finish the James Bond series I am working my way through now.
10. Fantasy or sci-fi?
Nowadays, sci-fi does it for me, but I enjoyed watching animated fantasy films as a kid.
The Half-Eaten Mind’s 10 nominees are:
8. Clumsy Fool
10. Cristian Mihai
All nominated bloggers will receive a message from me as usual. Feel free to accept as many as you can handle or desire and don’t forget to pass it on!!
RELATED NEWS from Zemanta
- A Nomination for the Interesting Blog Award! (jackiewriting.wordpress.com)
- SUPER SWEET AWARD: A follow-up (halfeatenmind.wordpress.com)
- HUG AWARD: Half-Eaten Mind nominated for its first bloggers’ award (halfeatenmind.wordpress.com)
- WONDERFUL TEAM MEMBER AWARD: HEM’s second May blogger’s award (halfeatenmind.wordpress.com)
- Sunshine Award, Thank you Jill (chouroukdreams.wordpress.com)
- Super Sweet Blogging Award – 3 Nominations (ajaytao2010.wordpress.com)
- Sweetness! (theelusivescribe.wordpress.com)
- Bouquet of Three Award (milesforthought.wordpress.com)
- Gratitude for the Shine-On Award (theelusivescribe.wordpress.com)
- SUPER SWEET AWARD: Sugar and spice…and brains so nice (halfeatenmind.wordpress.com)
“About me” – Jill London LINK
“Books” - Jill London LINK
“Seven Awards!!” - Jill London LINK
“Seven Awards!!” - Jill London LINK
”The Shine On Award – Tag you’re it!” – Rachel, Beauty Queen UK LINK
In the past week, the football news in the U.K. was heavily dominated by the announcement of the retiring of legendary Manchester United club manager Alex Ferguson. Fergie, as he was affectionately known by players, fans and the media, had been managing one of the country’s most powerful sides for twenty-six years, and his remarkable leadership and footballing savvy helped define a new and unforgettable era in the history of British and international football.
Scottish-born Ferguson was a manager who knew exactly what he wanted from his squad, even if his methods of ensuring the continuing unbridled success of Manchester’s number one clubs caused some controversies. Players feared his “hairdryer” treatment and his anger-fuelled rants in the dressing room, but they also had immense respect for him as a more-than-capable leader, steadfastly devoted to the success of Man U. Not since the golden era of the Busby Boys in the Fifties had Manchester United achieved so much. Ferguson’s unique management style brought out the best in such big-name football stars as Robin van Persie, Wayne Rooney and Cristiano Ronaldo. He helped bring United from the doldrums that caused the team to sag to the bottom of the tables in the 1970′s, steering the team through victory after victory, trophy after trophy. Ferguson had his eye constantly ‘on the ball’, developing player talents and spending big cheques and transfer fees, all of which soon poised United as the go-to team for professional footballers all over. His successes gained millions of loyal fans chanting “Glory, glory, Man United” . A simple chant that reverberated from the home crowd in the stands of Old Trafford and from thousands of miles away – from the bustling metropolises of the People’s Republic of China to the sun-kissed beaches of Mauritius. A whole generation of these fans have only ever known Sir Alex, and his sudden retirement at the age of 71 in preparation for a hip operation has been a huge shock to the world of football.
Fergie was living the dream and proved that you could be successful regardless of where you came from. It took a special kind of hard work and sacred dedication to the religion of football that propelled a working-class boy from the tough neighbourhood of Govan in Glasgow, to cross borders and social classes to become one of the best bosses in the sport, charting the fortunes of a top-flight English club. When other teams were hiring and firing their managers at the drop of a hat, Fergie was never in doubt of the future of his illustrious career, as the Manchester United cabinet swelled to the rafters with silverware. From playing in the Glasgow streets to guiding his boys as they ran across the hallowed turf of Old Trafford, Fergie had that charisma and determined grit not seen there since Sir Matt Busby a generation before him. His earthy language and close-to-the-bone humour brought him to the level of the younger Jose Mourinho, and just like the “Special One”, Fergie’s pearls of wisdom were highly sought after by the red-top press. Even before his career at Old Trafford had begun, he had already scored a European title while managing his previous club, Aberdeen. Although it took him a few years to replicate that success at Manchester, by 1990, accolades and titles soon were the hallmark of Fergie’s days at work. That the Red Devils’ then owners were prepared to give Fergie the benefit of the doubt even in his less-than-fruitful twilight days showed how much faith they had in him to deliver the silver. He frustrated Liverpool’s mission to be the club with the most titles and ended Merseyside domination of the beautiful game. His superb set of players frustrated other top teams and coaches, most notably Londoner sides Arsenal and Chelsea, and even held back fiercely rivalled fellow Mancunian side Manchester City from establishing themselves as forces.
The Manchester United Facebook page published a special image of Sir Alex Ferguson as its cover photo as he calls time on an eventful 26-year career.
Sir Alex Ferguson will step down as manager at the end of the current season, to be replaced by David Moyes, who is currently with Everton with an 11-year stretch under his belt. His last game as manager will take place against West Bromwich on May 19 2013, before Ferguson takes on a new role as a club director and ambassador.
Fergie’s career as manager presided over an astonishing 894 games won, netting a total of thirty-eight trophies spanning from 1990 to 2013. The impressive haul included:
- 13 Premier League trophies
- 5 FA Cups
- 4 League Cups
- 2 UEFA Champions League cups
- and one each from Cup Winners’ Cup, FIFA Club World Cup, UEFA Super Cup and Inter-Continental Cup tournaments
- along with 10 Community Shields.
During more than a quarter of a century, Sir Alex turned around the fortunes of Manchester United and made it into a global power finding himself as one of British football’s most successful well-known managers. Upon announcing his retirement last Wednesday, Ferguson stated “The decision to retire is one that I have thought a great deal about and one that I have not taken lightly…It is the right time”. Ferguson’s career won him respect across the board. Premier League chief executive Richard Scudamore commented “His drive, ambition, skill, passion and vision have not only shaped Manchester United, but in many ways the game of football as we now know it“. His ability to sniff out the best in footballing talent and mould his acquisitions from other top clubs into world-class sportsman earned him grudging respect even from rival teams and their managers, many wishing they had his magic touch. Under his legacy, Manchester United is now listed on stock exchanges and earns a multi-million pound revenue from the sales of football strips, sponsorship and memorabilia alone. The club is now believed to be worth around US$3.2 billion as one of the world’s most high-profile sports brands.
Fergie first spilled the beans on his impending retirement during a corporate golf match. Upon officially stating his departure from the most desired of management positions in football, a flurry of tributes and platitudes from other major personalities in football’s higher echelons paid homage to him. Sepp Blatter, president of FIFA and no stranger to controversy himself, tweeted that Ferguson’s achievements “…in the game place him without doubt as one of the `greats’ “. UEFA president Michel Platini hailed Ferguson as one of football’s “true visionaries“. Outside of the footballing world, even the UK government applauded him. The announcement grabbed the British media spotlight from the buildup to the State Opening of Parliament, where Queen Elizabeth II, who knighted Ferguson in 1999, was setting out the government’s planned legislation. Prime Minister David Cameron, a member of the Conservative Party, hailed Ferguson as “a remarkable man in British football who has had an extraordinary, successful career.
As passionate as Ferguson was about the game and the team, his notorious Glaswegian temper meant a youth fighting with other boys on the streets and then as manager one that exploded when his players were not performing up to scratch. His ‘hairdryer’ treatment sent shivers running down the spines of his charges – a stream of in-your-face invective said to make one’s hair stand on end. At pitch-side, photographers were never short of pictures of Ferguson storming the sidelines, his reddened face etched in anger and frustration with fists firmly clenched. He would be irked by not just the eleven players on the turf, but also club officials, referees, rival coaches and the media, with whom he had a classic love-hate relationship. He would ban reporters from further interviews with him if they published anything or asked any questions that riled him.
In one infamous 2004 incident – dubbed ‘Pizzagate’ – Ferguson was said to have hurled a slice of pizza across the changing room or near the tunnel in a heated exchange with Arsenal. In another involving former Los Angeles Galaxy star David Beckham, Sir Alex, furious at a poor performance against Arsenal lashed out, kicking a boot across the changing rooms that struck Beckham above the eye. This led to bad blood between the two, and tension between David and his wife, former Spice Girl and singer Victoria, and eventually was sold to Real Madrid. Ferguson was allegedly fed up with Beckham’s celebrity lifestyle. Despite this, Beckham who is now back from the United States and playing for French side Paris Saint-Germain said on a Facebook tribute to his ex-manager, “The boss wasn’t just the greatest and best manager I ever played under he was also a father figure to me from the moment I arrived at the club at the age of 11 until the day I left,…Without him I would never have achieved what I have done in my career…He understood how important it was to play for your country and he knew how much it meant to me.“
Ferguson not only made an impact in football, he even changed its lexicon. He introduced the phrase “squeaky bum time” to describe the tense feeling noticeable at the finale of the season. Receiving additional minutes by a referee at the end of match stoppage time became known as getting a bit of “Fergie Time”, especially as that was when United’s strikers would sink in a killer coup-de-grace of a goal, a sweet speciality that Fergie adored.
Now that Ferguson has quit the dugout for good, Manchester United, especially its players must face the challenge of life without the Scotsman. David Moyes, who was especially chosen by Sir Alex himself, above the widely expected favourite Jose Mourinho, will be the successor to Fergie’s enviable legacy. A fellow Scot who comes from the same city as Ferguson, Moyes has managed Everton for just over a decade and while he has not delivered much in the way of trophies there, he has held together a tight team on a budget far smaller than the tens of millions at United’s disposal. Ferguson enjoys a long-standing relationship with his successor, and last year described him as a “first-class manager”. However it is a tough calling to fill the boots of someone as accomplished as Sir Alex Ferguson – and it will be a strong challenge for Moyes to keep the Red Glory flowing and to satisfy fans who have only ever known success.
In honour of Ferguson’s colourful 26 years at the helm of United, here is a selection of some of his finest (and most controversial) quotes and one-liners.
On Ryan Giggs ”I remember the first time I saw him. He was 13 and just floated over the ground like a cocker spaniel chasing a piece of silver paper in the wind.“
On Gary Neville ”If he was an inch taller he’d be the best centre-half in Britain. His father is 6ft 2in – I’d check the milkman.“
On Italians ”When an Italian tells me it’s pasta on the plate I check under the sauce to make sure. They are the inventors of the smokescreen.“
On the 1999 Champions League triumph ”I can’t believe it. I can’t believe it. Football. Bloody hell.“
On Liverpool ”My greatest challenge is not what’s happening at the moment, my greatest challenge was knocking Liverpool right off their f*****g perch. And you can print that.“
On Arsène Wenger ”They say he’s an intelligent man, right? Speaks five languages. I’ve got a 15-year-old boy from the Ivory Coast who speaks five languages!“
On the referee Alan Wiley ”The pace of the game demanded a referee who was fit. It is an indictment of our game. You see referees abroad who are as fit as butcher’s dogs. We have some who are fit. He wasn’t fit. He was taking 30 seconds to book a player. He was needing a rest. It was ridiculous.“
On José Mourinho ”He was certainly full of it, calling me boss and big man when we had our post-match drink after the first leg. But it would help if his greetings were accompanied by a decent glass of wine. What he gave me was paint-stripper.“
On whether Liverpool would win the title in 2007 ”You must be joking. Do I look as if I’m a masochist ready to cut myself? How does relegation sound instead?“
On Old Trafford ”The crowd were dead. It was like a funeral out there.“
On Manchester City’s Carlos Tévez poster “It’s City, isn’t it? They are a small club, with a small mentality. All they can talk about is Manchester United, that’s all they’ve done and they can’t get away from it.“
On City again ”Sometimes you have a noisy neighbour. You cannot do anything about that. They will always be noisy. You just have to get on with your life, put your television on and turn it up a bit louder.“
On Wayne Rooney’s transfer request ”Sometimes you look in a field and you see a cow and you think it’s a better cow than the one you’ve got in your own field. It’s a fact. Right? And it never really works out that way.“
On Manchester United’s 19th league title “It’s not so much passing Liverpool. It’s more important that United are the best team in the country in terms of winning titles.”
And on their 20th ”Look at me – it’s taken 10 years off me today. It’s these tablets, they’re great!”
Fergie on United’s infamous grey kit, following United’s loss to Southampton in 1996.“The players couldn’t pick each other out. They said it was difficult to see their team-mates at distance when they lifted their heads. It was nothing to do with superstition. This club went 26 years without winning the league and we didn’t think about changing the red shirts. It’s nothing to do with that at all.”
Commenting on the change in David Beckham after his departure to Real Madrid in 2003.“He was blessed with great stamina, the best of all the players I’ve had here. After training, he’d always be practising, practising, practising. But his life changed when he met his wife. She’s in pop and David got another image. He’s developed this ‘fashion thing’ – I saw his transition to a different person.”
Giving it both barrels to Arsene Wenger after Pizzagate, 2004.“In the tunnel Wenger was criticising my players, calling them cheats, so I told him to leave them alone and behave himself. To not apologise for the behaviour of the players to another manager is unthinkable. It’s a disgrace, but I don’t expect Wenger to ever apologise, he’s that type of person.”
Many thanks to Sunny Atwal for suggesting today’s article…and to Sir Alex Ferguson, I wish you the best in your retirement and future endeavours. Thank you.
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- Live: Sir Alex Ferguson to retire at end of season (manchestereveningnews.co.uk)
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- Man Utd: Why The Great Sir Alex Ferguson Could Leave Behind a Poisoned Chalice (football-talk.co.uk)
- Obsession. Commitment. Fanaticism.- A Tribute to the great Alex Ferguson (footballlens.wordpress.com)
- Farewell Fergie (klausjnr.wordpress.com)
“Alex Ferguson retires” – The Sun – Football (8 May 2013) LINK
“Alex Ferguson retires: his major achievements in graphics” – Mark Oliver, The Telegraph (8 May 2013) LINK
“Sir Alex Ferguson: A career of achievement at Manchester United” – 3 News/MediaWorks TV (9 May 2013) LINK
“Sir Alex Ferguson’s best quotes” – The Guardian (8 May 2013) LINK
“Classic Sir Alex Ferguson quotes: From squeaky bums to noisy neighbours” – Simon Head, Mirror Football (8 May 2013) LINK
Manchester United Official Facebook fan page (8 May 2013) LINK
A participant in the Donington Park vintage car rally was killed on Sunday when his vehicle crashed, according to a report by BBC News published today.
Christian Devereux, a vintage car fan from Chiswick, west London, was driving a 1965 Mini Cooper S – car number 67, when the fatal crash occurred. He was pronounced dead at the scene despite assistance from medics at the scene, according to race officials.
The accident took place on the Donington Park racetrack yesterday (Sunday 5 May) at about 4:30 pm (16:30 British Summer Time) in fine weather.
The cause of the crash is as yet unknown, but the Historic Sports Car Club and Motor Sports Association have made assurances towards working with the owners of the Donington Park track to determine the exact circumstances surrounding Mr. Devereux’s death.
Vintage car rallies are a major crowd-puller in the United Kingdom, with several national and European rallies taking place on British streets and racetracks every year. Cars from as far back as the 1920′s regularly make an appearance, and all vintage cars and their participants are expected to meet strict conditions on driving skills and vehicle roadworthiness, as well as being registered with the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA), the government body responsible for regulating drivers on UK roads.
A car race on the Melbourne Hairpin, part of the Donington Park Circuit where the victim was killed during a vintage car rally.
Several hundred people attended the Donington Park vintage rally at the Bank Holiday weekend. A series of races were organised at the racetrack in Leicestershire, which also hosts Moto GP and Superbike Championships.
Donington Park was the first ever permanent park circuit to open in the UK. In May 1931, the circuit’s maiden motorcycle race took place on the nearby Donington Hall Estate, before the track was widened in 1933 to accommodate Grand Prix Racing. It went into decline after the Second World War, when the British military acquiesced it for use as a vehicle depot. It came back to life in 1987, when the site was purchased by Tom Wheatcroft, a local motorsports fan who had amassed the world’s largest collection of vintage racing vehicles. He sponsored many of the new drivers who arrive for the public races at the re-opened Donington Park.
A traditionally British vehicle, the Mini Cooper S is highly sought after by collectors and racers.
The circuit, located near the village of Isley Walton, hosts a 1.9 mile track for the National Circuit, coupled with a nearly 2.5 mile stretch for Grand Prix races. The site also hosts exhibitions, conferences and has on-site cafes and a museum on motorsports history.
Investigations into the tragedy are also being held in conjunction with Leicestershire Police and local ambulance services.
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- Snap happy: Donington photo-finish gives Rivett second win of weekend (mirror.co.uk)
BBC London Newsroom on Twitter LINK
“Donington Park crash: Driver dies in historic touring car race” - BBC News Leicester LINK
“Donington Historic Festival” - Donington Park Racing Ltd LINK
“Circuit Information” - Donington Park Racing Ltd LINK
“History” - Donington Park Racing Ltd LINK
By Vijay Shah
On our article dated May 2, 2013, I reported on the Half-Eaten Mind receiving the tasty Super Sweet Award from Pallak Sharma of the “The Be-All and End-All” blog. The blog has received additional approvals for the award by three bloggers who have lent an amazing amount of support to the blog as well being very good friends and comrades to me as I find my feet in the blogosphere.
Firstly, Ajaytao2010 of Mumbai offered the first return nomination of this gorgeous, lip-smacking blogger’s award. He writes:
Thank you so much for the Super Sweet Blogging Award my dear friends
Three dear friends have nominated me for this award
Each of these blogger is Illuminating in his own way and is very sweet.
Secondly, Davinder of San Diego, USA – owner of the Luchanik Travel blog on holidays, family, foods and cruises in the tropical sun – nominated me as well. She writes:
I have been nominated by Vijay Shah for a really sweet award – for the Super Sweet Blogging Award. Vijay is the writer of the blog – Half-Eaten Mind, and I really appreciate his sweetness in nominating me for my first ever award. I also nominate him for the award too, and he is my first nominee. Vijay, thank you so much for your nomination.
Lastly, but certainly not least, Kavita from Australia, a master photographer, frequent traveller to Asia and the Pacific and blogger of Talking Experiences, has also offered a sweet little nomination for Super Sweet. Here is what she had to say:
A very sweet gesture from my sweet blogger friend Vijay (http://halfeatenmind.wordpress.com/2013/05/02/super-sweet-award/) just after I posted another award from Jill. Vijay presents me with ‘Super Sweet Award’. He studied journalism & media from UK and is a very talented blogger. Thanks a lot to Vijay to nominate me with this awesome award.
I would like to humbly extend the warmest of heartfelt thanks and love to all the above for their nominations. I really enjoy reading what you have to offer and I have an immense amount of respect for all of you. It is people like you that make blogging a sweet, delectable and fun experience and help make me feel proud while owing a lot to the loyal community that I have built up over the last year of operations.
Always keep blogging, keep sharing your tales, experiences and viewpoints, and especially, keep having fun. Each and every one of you makes the Internet a more interesting and human place.
All the best,
By Vijay Shah
The Half-Eaten Mind has just being nominated for only its second peer award this month. This time we are recipients of the “Wonderful Team Member Award”, kindly nominated by Mumbai-based blogger and friend Ajay, who blogs under the handle “Ajaytao2010″. Ajay is a keen photographer and storyteller, located in one of India’s biggest, busiest and most magical cities, the home of Bollywood, legendary cricketers and fascinating history spanning thousands of years.
Having survived a terrible bout of cancer some years ago, Ajay, a member of Mumbai’s well-heeled Gujarati community, took to blogging as a way of sharing his ideas and views on the world and reaching out to the blogger community. I have had the good fortune to have known Ajay for about a month and I have really identified with his career as a thoughtful introverted blogger literally brimming to the top with stunning photos, both his own and assembled from other imagery artists. He is a friendly guy, and his eponymous and cosmopolitan blog, with its strap-line of ” My personal opening to the world” is a great read and full of surprises for everyone. I would highly recommended that you take a look - Ajaytao2010.
You can view Ajay’s WTM Award article at its original location here
Directly from Ajay’s site I have published the rules for the WTM Award:-
The rules are as follows;
1.The Nominee of the Wonderful Team member Readership Award shall display the logo on his/her blog.
2.The Nominee shall nominate 14 readers they appreciate over a period of 7 days, all at once or little by little.
3.The Nominee shall name his/her Wonderful Team Member Readership Award nominees on a post or on posts during 7 days.
My specially chosen 14 nominees are:
6. Talin Orfali
10. Sud Aventures
12. Robert Cooper
14. 1001 Scribbles
I will shortly forward a special award comment message to all named nominees provided they are fine with accepting peer-based blogging awards, and they can carry on nominating their favourite bloggers for the WTM Award.
To all nominees, congratulations for receiving this award and may we forever celebrate the amicable and entertaining spirit that being a blogger is all about. A sense of community, the value of teamwork.
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“Wonderful Team Member Award” – Ajay, Ajaytao 2010 LINK
“About” - Ajay, Ajaytao 2010 LINK
By Vijay Shah
Whenever an important anniversary comes up, there is always that question of how exactly you are going to mark the occasion. If you are a country that once won its independence from a colonial power, you would have a big party coupled with a national holiday, and issue some commemorative paraphernalia to shore up the patriotic pride. If you are a business celebrating the anniversary of your founding, then you might go for a company re-branding or at the very least stick a rosette in a good location on your annual report/website/catalogues. Wedding anniversaries have their candlelit dinners in fine dining restaurants, birthdays have their parties complete with uncle-turned-DJ and endless bottles of cherryade or cheap booze. The situation of celebrating in style, in my case, was that my blog’s first birthday was coming up. How exactly was I going to mark this special milestone in my site’s existence?. A party would be a bit too much just for a blog, and I do not fancy vapourising the entire contents of my bank account. And I do not have the Royal Mint and Post Office on speed dial…
As befitting my half-eaten mind, ideas began to take root in my head. I did some initial research and stumbled across something that was my celebratory ‘eureka’ moment right there. One simple but significant idea. Create a book. A book that will feature a selection of articles drawn from my blog, presented in a physical format. On glossy book paper. In glorious offset technicolor. Something that I could keep as an everlasting memento of my blog, and a keepsake that I could unabashedly show off to all and sundry. Something that would make a great talking point with friends and family alike. Yep, I was liking this. Picking up idea. Running with it.
Now I needed to find a book publisher that could handle the big responsibility of developing and hopefully realising my new concept. I researched round a few companies and one in particular caught my eye. It had a stupid-sounding name but as we all know, companies with goofy names employ good workers with limitless supplies of creative juices, which meant my own creativity would not be held back. They develop a whole image that they need to live up to. They are usually quirky, customer-centred and fun. That company was Blurb.
In short, Blurb Inc,. is an American-based online book publishing firm that gives anyone the chance to design and print their own book using their custom BookSmart software. You can produce both paper books with a selection of paper grades and cover types, and if you want to go digital there is also an eBook option for your Kindle, Nook or other reading device. I was pleased with this company because you could publish more or less anything with them…wedding books, art books, baby books, novels, cookbooks, poetry collections and stories…so I could definitely observe that Blurb could easily handle a ‘blog book’. I also noted the fact that they offered video tuition and guides with the BookSmart program to help familiarise myself with the services they offer, especially the crash course in book design that was going to be very, very important to me in preparing for the next few weeks.
Like a lot of websites these days, I needed to register with Blurb to use the service. I did that on their United Kingdom site and thankfully they did not ask too many questions. So no being asked what brand of toilet paper I used. I got the confirmation emails and then downloaded the software directly from the site.
There was an option to ‘slurp’ the content of the Half-Eaten Mind straight into BookSmart to create the book instantaneously, but that was a massive fail when I attempted it. All the articles were simply layered into the book template all in one go, and the text looked really ugly and disorganised. Everything got copied, even the comments from me and the blog’s readers, which I was not planning to include. None of the article photos or pictures were included - though they were slurped first. My experimental virtual book was a disgusting convoluted mess. I was not too happy, and scrapped the whole thing. While I was still showing myself the ropes with BookSmart, I decided there and then, after that initial disappointment, to go the long route. And all this while overcoming my first-use jitters about the whole thing. Luckily when dealing with new software, my ICT literacy means I learn new skills and software relatively quickly.
I was going to have to copy-and-paste all the chosen articles one-by-one and settle them into pages as I went along, making sure also to include the correct visual elements for each article, all of which I had stored in an image gallery on a fancy blue crystal USB stick. It was going to be a long, repetitive and pain-staking process, but a man’s got to do what a man’s got to do.
My first objective was to create the cover of the BlogBook. My idea was that the cover would reflect the design of the blog itself, as much as the software would allow me to. So I used a bright variety of sky-blue to reflect the traditional default background that colours the Half-Eaten Mind on your PC screen. For imagery, I used the classic header pic on the blog, the two tower blocks (apartment blocks) underneath a dawn sky that I photographed originally six years ago while working as a leaflet delivery person.
I had also planned to include a small side portrait of our mascot, Woodsy the Owl, which occupies pride of place on my own Gravatar profile, but that idea was shelved after I accidentally clicked on a button on the software interface that radically changed my book’s front and back cover, altering it in a way I did not like, meaning I had to waste a good hour putting everything right again. Oh well, no-one’s perfect. In order to guide my first steps into book cover design, I tried remembering the various books I had read over the years and examined the covers of a few novels I had stashed away behind my telly.
Writing the blurb (back-cover summary of the book) was a cinch. I included a screenshot of the blog as an image to fill up excess space but also to try to retain a link between the ‘First Anniversary Special’ BlogBook and the original blog I maintain on WordPress. I was spending a bit of time reminiscing of using WordArt in my secondary school days to knock up quick front covers for my GCSE coursework, subject reports and homework, then it was that time in an online journalism class with Mr. Greer at university when I was getting the hang of Dreamweaver to cook up a pretend public relation website for British Airways. But main thing was getting this sodding cover completed, because from then on things would be more workaday.
In my first weekend working with BookSmart, I managed to add around ten to fifteen articles into the embryonic BlogBook. All I had to do was copy-and-paste of the original article from the blog and add it to the blank pages. I could choose different pre-set page layouts for different articles. For example a feature I did on going out in Picadilly Circus had one page with text containers, spaces into which I could import the text, and a separate photo gallery where I could just drag the photos I took of that day into a collective of ‘image containers’ which were basically image holding devices to help me layout the photos in a satisfactory way. For a lot of the news reports, I usually stuck to a generic layout, with two image containers on top and underneath them, two text boxes.
I started work around the 28th March 2013, and aimed to get the book design wrapped up by the 15th April, which was my blog’s first birthday, but with work and social commitments, I could not see that happening. I managed to average about 2 to 3 articles every two days, when I was working on my laptop. I put in more effort on weekends.
I found the whole experience both exciting and tedious. Putting the articles in, keeping the typefaces constant and consistent throughout, sifting through my bank of images – it was boring and monotonous at times, but you got to plant seeds if you want to grow fruits. There was many a time my heart jumped a little bit with joy and pride as I saw my book slowly take shape, looking over the page previews for every article and admiring my handiwork – my innate knowledge of graphic design and aesthetics really working up a mild sweat. I was not planning to market the book for profit at that time, but I wanted to put in the effort so that the book looked as good and tidy as any publication you could pluck off the shelf at a bookstore or public library.When I do things, I do them properly.
The whole design process took me around 2.5 weeks, give or take. I left out a lot of articles, partly out of sheer laziness, but some, like the festive wallpaper announcements were deemed not good material to appear in something as timeless as a book. Others were omitted from publication as they had videos or moving images so were dropped for technical/stylistic reasons. I also had cost considerations to factor in as well. Life ain’t sweet when you’re getting paid peanuts.
Finally on the 20th April, the Half-Eaten Mind First Anniversary Special BlogBook was ready to go. I opted for a softback format with normal glossy 118 gsm paper, as it was not only the cheapest option but also at around 84 pages, it would be suited to a coffee-table book concept. I paid up for publishing and postage via PayPal and was informed that my order would be with me in about three weeks. I could rest easy now and spend more time playing Diamond Dash. All work and no play makes Vijay a stressed-out man.
What really took me by surprise was that it in fact took only a few days for the book to be printed and parcelled to my doorstep, not even two weeks, never mind three. After my BlogBook order was electronically received by the Blurb printing house in Eindhoven, the Netherlands, the HP inkjet printers and book binding staff at Blurb’s European publishing facility, PARO N.V. got to work straight away it seemed.
Although the delivery date was stated on the email as 7 May, by the 24th of April, the book has been trucked out from the printing press in Eindhoven and was on its way to a FedEx sorting facility in Veldhoven, Netherlands. From there it was a two-hour trip across the border to another FedEx office in Koeln (Cologne) in Germany. The next day, the parcel was loaded on a plane at 6.41 am and arrived via air courier at London’s Stansted Airport at 3.45 pm. By the 26th, a Friday, my book was stopping off at FedEx offices in Beckton, less than a mile from my home before arriving at Plaistow at precisely 4.52 pm, where it was signed for by my live-in landlord, Monir.
I was really pleased with the quality of the book. It was bound professionally, the colours of the cover were bright and not fuzzy in the slightest and the book’s firmness and workmanship stunned me. I was very impressed. They had been on point with the packaging too. The book arrived unblemished and undamaged in a sturdy but unobtrusive white cardboard flat box. More impressed I was.
Beaming with pride, I brought the book into work, carefully retaining it in its polythene packaging. I showed it to a few people, all of whom enjoyed leafing through it and pointing out their favourite articles. They were just as impressed. I even got a few handshakes. Only yesterday I brought the BlogBook to my mum’s house in Seven Kings and my younger siblings were squabbling among themselves trying to have a look. My brother’s mate tried to keep my feet on the ground as I could not stop smiling at everyone’s compliments. He said it looked like a book you would find in a dentist’s waiting room. I told him jokingly I would bury him in the back garden in his favourite dinosaur onesie (lols Ali, I kid, I kid!!). Two of my siblings wanted to order their own copies, and I gave them the link to the order page on the Blurb site. Now I need to show the BlogBook to one of my other sisters, who has her own place, so I can show her, her husband and their daughter/my niece their pictures in the book.
I am very proud of the Half-Eaten Mind commemorative printed edition. It looks fabulous and professional, and I found a unique and very appropriate way to mark my blog’s anniversary. A lot of people have been telling me that I should run up more copies and put them on sale. A tempting idea, of course, as a little extra funds in the bank would be a distinct advantage, but with even J.K Rowling, author of the Harry Potter book series, getting rejects from over 300 publishers, and with many other bloggers also having similar ideas, for now I decided to put any merchandising on hold, as I do not think there will be a viable market and customer demand for the book I made.
I did not create the HEM BlogBook for the money though. I made it as a cool, off-the-beaten-track means of celebrating my blog reaching its first full year of life, as a small but notable achievement in its own right and because it makes a great glossy keepsake. But if anyone reading would like a copy for themselves, have a look at this order page and we can arrange for a copy to be sent out (at your expense).
Title: The Half-Eaten Mind Blogbook – First Anniversary Edition
Strapline: The printed edition of the news and views of a partially digested brain.
Author: Vijay Shah and contributors.
Pages: 84 pgs
Year of publication: 2013
Publisher: Blurb Books
Country of publication: United Kingdom
Country of printing: Netherlands
Dimensions: Standard Portrait (8 x 10 inches, 20 x 25 centimetres); Standard Paper (Weight: 80 micrograms, 118 gsm)
THE BLOGBOOK SLIDE SHOW
All photos copyright V. Shah / The Half-Eaten Mind.
VIDEO: How Blurb books are made.
VIDEO: BookSmart quick tutorial
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“blurb – Make your own book” – Blurb LINK
” FedEx Tracking ” – FedEx LINK
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“ Getting Started with BookSmart (2:11)” - Blurb LINK
By Vijay Shah
Hot on the heels of our first ever blogging community award, the Hope Unites Globally ‘HUG’ Award, your best place for ramblings of the mind has been nominated yet again. This time the Half-Eaten Mind has been selected to receive the “Super Sweet Award” courtesy of Pallak Sharma, one of the blog’s supporters and loyal fans. Ms. Sharma writes for the “Be-All and End-All” blog which is a beautiful collection of musings on life’s sweet and sour surprises.
Based in India, 21-year-old Pallak is a commerce student at university and despite her busy schedule, still finds time for her favourite hobbies of blogging and penning sweet poems. A big fan of books, music and movies, Sharma created her blog to reach out to people with similar, and not so similar, interests and enjoys writing for and communicating with her network of fans and fellow bloggers, of which I am proud to be part of.
Temptation: well played sir, well played….
As part of the rules for nominees, I must present to my Brainiacs the answers to five “super sweet questions” and in turn nominate a ‘baker’s dozen’ bloggers, that is thirteen very lucky souls who in turn must pass it on!!. Let the humiliation begin.
1. Cookies or cake?
Well it depends, I love them both. Like any good Mauritian, I have a sweet tooth that would put a sabre-toothed tiger to shame. Thankfully they are extinct, so I won’t have to worry about getting weird prank calls from big cats annoyed by my previous sentence, and be forced to join a witness protection programme and go into hiding in an undisclosed banana republic. But if I had to choose, it would be cake, because with cake you get more to savour, with tastes that melt-in-your mouth and texture that is light on the stomach. My favourites cakes are Battenbergs, Victoria sponges, birthday cakes with thick icing (frosting) and Cadbury’s chocolate mini Swiss Rolls. Delicious!!
2. Chocolate or Vanilla?
Definitely chocolate. Dark or milk chocolate, it doesn’t matter. As here in Plaistow, London it is getting hotter, so I am looking forward to buying some chocolate ice cream and lollies (popsicles). Especially my old favourite, Feast. Also I really want to try the Magnum Infinity lolly. That stuff looks mental!!
3. Favorite Sweet Treat?
Anyyooo!!..this is a tough one. I eat sweetmeats from a variety of traditions and places, so I will put the answer this way. For traditional British sweets, then it would be chocolate cake pudding. In Mauritius, it would be gateaux orielles. When I am going ancestral and sampling Indian sweets a.k.a mithai then it is gulab jamun, with rasmalai in close second place. I am also partial to Greco-Turkish helva, a delicacy made from sesame seed paste (tahini), although I don’t eat it as much nowadays since I moved home. Not surprisingly, the chocolate-infused variety was the one I usually plucked off the shelf at my local Turkish minimarket.
4. When do you crave sweet things the most?
24/7 bruv!!. Seriously though, my sweet cravings generally tend to accelerate in intensity around about lunchtime. This is when things get very sticky. Ask the people who know me from work and they will tell you just how bad it is!. You will hear the phrase “chocolate sundae” dropped into any conversation about my lunch buying habits sooner or later.
5. Sweet Nick Name?
Being a sentient human-like organism of the male variety, I generally do not get allocated any ‘sweet’ nicknames as such. My mates at work call me Rajah. My main man, a KFC fanatic named Mo Miah has recently started calling me Norman (don’t ask). Others have known me under various monikers, such as ‘Dicky Doughnut’, Lambu (Gujarati for ‘tall’ – I am about 6’5), Jay, Vee, Sanjay, Vilo Milo (thanks Azzy!!) etc. My cousin in Mauritius calls me Deepak. Maybe they would not sound sweet, but I know there’s tonnes of affection behind them.
Well, that’s the Q&A grilling done and dusted. Now to nominate my baker’s dozen – who are now on forth nominees for this peculiar and cute little award.
After this article is published today, I will be messaging all above nominees on their ‘About’ or home pages. If you choose to accept a nomination, please familiarise yourselves with these simple rules/legal mumbo-jumbo as approved by Lucky, the family cat (who doubles as a lawyer on occasions. No win, no fee basis. Extras will cost you a box of Happy Shopper cat biscuits. The ones that smell like mummified prawns left down the back of a radiator in summer.) :-
- Thank the Super Sweet Blogger that nominated you.
- Answer five Super Sweet questions.
- Include the Super Sweet Blogging award image in your blog post.
- Nominate a baker’s dozen (13) other bloggers.
- Notify your nominees on their blog.
SOURCE & IMAGE CREDIT:
“Super Sweet Award” – Pallak Sharma, The Be-All and End-All LINK
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Claims that the remains of a being found in the world’s driest desert were that of an alien have been debunked by a television show broadcast on US television. Scientific analysis of the creature which was found in a remote mining village in the Atacama Desert of Chile has in fact proved that it is in fact of earthly origin, thus concluding a paranormal mystery that has intrigued scientists, the media and ufologists for a decade.
The desiccated corpse, measuring only six inches in height and resembling a toy Hallowe’en skeleton, was stumbled upon by a man named Oscar Munoz in the ghost town of La Nora, where it had allegedly been hidden away near an abandoned church. The blackened skeleton with yellowed bones and ‘hard’ teeth had been found wrapped in a white cloth. Its deep-set eyes and domed elongated skull struck him as possibly that of an entity from another world. Many observers given access to view Munoz’s mysterious organism were startled by its uncanny resemblance to the infamous Greys – aliens said to be capable of telepathy and interstellar travel and traditionally blamed for the widely documented ‘alien abductions’ of ordinary humans.
Munoz later sold on the ‘alien’ skeleton, nicknamed ‘Ata’ or the ‘Atacama Humanoid’, to a Spanish businessman for the sum of a few hundred euros. Its discovery meanwhile was fuelling fierce debate in the UFO community, many who were convinced it was proof that aliens had visited our planet, and had even died on it. Sceptics meanwhile maintained that the ‘alien’ was in fact a preserved human foetus, a dried baby monkey or even a hoax.
The confusing mystery of 15 centimetre tall ‘Ata’ was finally solved by a team of biologists led by Dr. Steven Greer, whose findings were aired in a documentary called ’Sirius’ this past Monday. Greer’s team managed to obtain the corpse from its current owner and ran a series of tests to determine the alien’s origins, including microscopic analysis of its DNA and advanced 3D CAT scans to examine its internal structure for clues to its possible origins.
Dr. Greer hit back at detractors who claimed the Atacama Humanoid was a deliberate hoax by scammers exploiting the scientific community’s desire to find proof of intelligent life outside Earth. He said “The CAT scan clearly shows internal chest organs – lungs and what appears to be the remains of a heart structure“
“There is absolutely no doubt that the specimen is an actual organism and that it is not a hoax of any kind“
In an unfortunate blow to those who hoped that the Humanoid would be the first concrete proof of alien life, Dr. Greer has stated that it is in fact an ordinary human foetus. One theory is that it is the remains of a child, possibly stillborn and abandoned by its mother who wrapped it in a cloth and left it near the church, fearful of divine retribution and societal rejection in the staunchly Catholic society of rural Chile. Some believe however that the child, said to be male, may have survived up to eight years of age, despite his unusually tiny height.
Ata’s characteristic bulging head may have been the result of a deformation in the womb or an ancient cultural practice. Some societies in South America had, and may continue, to follow a tradition of wrapping their babies’ head in cloth reinforced with wood splints, causing the child’s skull to become elongated as it develops. This custom was once in vogue among well-to-do people as a sign of nobility.
Its appearance may have been down to exposure to the relentless sun of the Atacama, the world’s driest desert, where some areas do not see rain for 400 years.
His findings have been confirmed by two other scientists based at California’s Stanford University.
SIRIUS DOCUMENTARY TRAILER – featuring the Atacama Humanoid
Many thanks to Sunny Atwal for suggesting today’s article.
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By Vijay Shah
It is a bit belated, well, a week’s worth of belatedness to be exact, but your favourite news and features blog - the authentic outpourings of a partially digested brain – has just turned one. Over the past twelve months there has been a lot of changes. Only last month the blog got a facelift, with a brand new theme and layout, incorporating more user-friendly features and easier navigation. We have enlisted the help of the blogging software Zemanta to offer a more interactive experience for our readers, introducing relevant news articles, webpages and blog posts to develop the story further. Working with Zemanta will give the means to open up new worlds of opinions and news reporting so that the Half-Eaten Mind’s articles will have a new place among the millions of blogs and sites informing us all on the Web.
Meanwhile in real life, I had relocated from Stratford to a new houseshare in Plaistow, where I have been publishing new blog posts since the beginning of March. I have started my own Twitter account – which has proved quite useful as an avenue to self-promote and link up with other bloggers and news organisations, many who have served up inspiration for a few HEM posts.
The Half-Eaten Mind is not the most well-known or popular blog in cyberspace. That does not matter a jot to me. I never set up this blog for any worldwide virtual popularity contest. I set it up and laboured long and hard for a couple of hours every Sunday, and sometimes more than that, as I wanted a chance to develop and show off my writing skills to the world, such as it was my strong admiration for established and paid career journalists writing for the online versions of organisations like the BBC, Huffington Post, Al-Jazeera, The Guardian and other great news outlets. I never expected my small blog to have the ratings or multi-million pound investments in content and other such things that they have, but I wanted to replicate their professionalism and “roving reporter” spirit here on this blog, at a fraction of the capital.
What started off as a mere thought gathering dust in my mind about six years ago eventually reincarnated itself as a massive glowing Osram light bulb of an idea a year ago. With the help of a special someone, I cleared away the cobwebs, got over my insecurities about what exactly I was going to write about and began setting up my account on WordPress. Within about half an hour, I took a hold of that light bulb of an idea and hit the ground running. While many other bloggers come up with great plans for their blogs only to see the whole thing fizzle out after a few months, my blog was not so restricted that I could not find any topics to write about. I did not have to worry about long periods of inactivity would have put off followers. Instead I had the freedom to write about anything that I felt like, as well as being guided by the suggestions of ideas and stories from the blog’s loyal contributors.
Although the Half-Eaten Mind is my personal blog built with my (now extremely worn-out) laptop, moulded upwards on my blood, sweat and tears – not to mention countless keystrokes and strong mugs of tea – it is not just about me. This blog is not only a place to show off my writing skills, stories or that I am good at sticking pictures on a page, it is about giving people a chance to learn about the world, to see things that they might otherwise completely pass by, and to give them what hopefully is helpful information to aid them in discovering things for fun or as serious research for work projects or educational reports. There are times when I feel too tired or busy to think up a new post. Times when even the blogging software makes me curse the computer in anguish. Writer’s block sometimes sets in, albeit temporarily. My perseverence is the key to get me past these obstacles though, and nearly every weekend (and once every two days when I am on annual leave from work) I have kept my faith to the blog, always surprising even myself with what I turn out just before I hit the ‘Publish’ button.
Most importantly, my motivation for keeping the Half-Eaten Mind digesting the world around it has been those who have helped support it. Friends, family, work colleagues, WordPress followers, and various organisations have all motivated me and made me proud of this blog and of myself. I do not say this because I am a vain allsort who likes to puff my chest out and preen my feathers in the manner of a self-absorbed peacock. This pride has given me a new lease of life. I come from a difficult background and experienced a very unhappy childhood thanks to certain so-called family elders who are now long removed from my existence. I grew up in one of the poorest parts of one of the richest cities in the world: London. I grew up seeing, and being exposed to, a lot of painful things and had to see many others get caught up in the difficulties of life – and not all of them escaped. People who grew up in the same environment as me usually ended up as drug users, alcoholics, criminals, prisoners or dead. But even though I have had a difficult and miserable life and I still struggle today, I vowed I would make something of the years God allocated to me. I may have not been able to reach all the perks and opportunities afforded to those born into luckier lives, but when opportunity did come knocking at my door, I damn well made sure I got my backside off the couch and answered its call.
On the 15th April 2012, I shook Opportunity’s hand and invited her in for a chat. She gave me the motivation, the time and the idea. The Half-Eaten Mind was born.
A year is a long time, and a lot can happen. In the past 53 weeks, the Half-Eaten Mind has:
- Published 78 posts, ranging from basic online news reports, to personal accounts, reviews, guides and photo features.
- Been viewed 14,219 times (as of Sunday 21st April, 2013 – 1:45 PM G.M.T.) from more or less 70 countries around the globe. Of these, 4,561 were from the United Kingdom, where the blog is based; 2,669 were from India, with the United States a close third at 2,099 views. We have received visitors from places as diverse as Iraq, Fiji, Mauritius, Bermuda, Ireland and Vietnam. These figures are taken from information supplied by the blog’s official statistical centre, powered by WordPress.
- Published articles under 643 tags. The most popular tags are ‘London’, ‘photography’, and interestingly, ‘Half-Eaten Mind’.
- Been featured on the likes of photoshare site Tumblr and Q&A portal Yahoo Answers. One of our articles was even quoted in a semi-academic website on the Chelyabinsk meteor explosion in Russia. Read it here.
- The blog’s professionalism and diversity of material has helped attract follows by 72 bloggers on our shared platform and we have been reblogged twice. You can view my blogging friends on the ‘Blogroll’ page accessible from the menu at the top of any article.
- Not to mention another five on our Facebook page and 222 more on my private Facebook profile. Then add to that another 134 on my Twitter account as well ten via comments and the HEM email list.
- Worked with an amateur film-maker based in the US and a media marketing firm here in London on the production of three of our features.
- Received a shoutout from the founder of the bloggers’ collective IndiBlogger both on Twitter and on the relevant article’s comment section.
- Created a commemorative ‘first anniversary edition’ BlogBook, currently waiting to be published by online book printing partner, Blurb. It is a fun coffee-table softback book featuring a selection of articles from the blog, rendered in glorious Technicolor on glossy paper. You can take a peek, and maybe order a copy yourself right here.
- Being nominated for our first blogger’s award: The Hope Unites Globally HUG Award – a mutual recognition of bloggers bringing hope into a tough world through their posts.
These are small accolades and achievements, but very satisfying ones. Each new follower, retweet, comment and Facebook like is just another step to motivate and continue doing all the hard work to make this blog a place worth visiting. I am very pleased with the progress and development of the Half-Eaten Mind, and I am looking forward to writing yet more hard-hitting news stories, involving features and really useful stuff you have just got to read.
So where does the Half-Eaten Mind see itself in another year’s time. Well unfortunately I am no clairvoyant with a crystal ball, but unless the internet is rent apart by a cataclysmic solar flare or a North Korean cyber-virus, the Half-Eaten Mind will still be digesting minds and feeding them too, just as strongly as ever. We hope to have twice as many articles on here as we did in the past, with a greater, more accommodating mix of topics in our published work. We want to reach out to more people via social networks, blogging sites like WordPress and of course, good old-fashioned word-of-mouth. I want to make more effort in this area, because as you all know, more effort=bigger audience. This will not only help me in the publicity stakes, but it will give more individuals and organisations a chance to contribute to the blog and benefit from the wealth of information I have put out there.
Sometime in the near future, I hope this blog will help me land the journalism job of my dreams or at least offer a exciting talking point at my next job interview. That it will continue to give me pleasure, pride and something useful to occupy my deadbeat time on a Sunday afternoon. Maybe if we make it to the Half-Eaten Mind’s tenth anniversary, I might even be teaching my children to read with the Mind’s help. Who knows what we will have achieved by then……“Happy 1st Birthday, Half-Eaten Mind”
- NEW BEGINNING, NEW LOOK: The Half-Eaten Mind unveils new makeover (halfeatenmind.wordpress.com)
- HUG AWARD: Half-Eaten Mind nominated for its first bloggers’ award (halfeatenmind.wordpress.com)
- INDIBLOGGER: Creative badges from an Indian blog club (halfeatenmind.wordpress.com)
- My interview on Zemanta’s blog (brandsandfilms.com)
- Sprinkle themed Birthday Party! (drlill.com)