Tag Archives: lent

Less smart, more phone

Just over a week ago I gave up my smartphone. Okay, I didn’t give it up.

Or, rather, I meant to give up my smartphone for Lent, you know, just to see. But after 2 days, I moved my SIM back over to my HTC Desire HD and carried on as before.

So when my month’s giffgaff goodybag came to an end, I decided to try again.

For over a week now I’ve been using my old Nokia phone (the 2330 classic, no less) for calls and texts and my smartphone as a mini tablet with wifi only.

Nothing much has changed really. I’m using my phone for calls and texts less than before. Getting a message after every call and every text to tell me my new credit level has been a real downer for using my phone.

I found that some friends don’t put their names on the end of text messages. This becomes relevant because my old address book is on the phone and hasn’t transferred. So I don’t know who is sending each message. (Though some friends do sign off with their names.)

I don’t check my phone as often, so I’ve missed a couple of opportunities to meet up with friends.

On the other hand, my Nokia phone can go over a week without being charged and my HTC phone-turned-mini-tablet doesn’t need charging so often either so I’m saving a tiny bit of electricity too. (The Nokia has been on the red bar for battery energy for 2 days so far.)

I don’t know how long I will last. I’m waiting to see how much credit I use in a month and how that compares to my previous monthly spending on giffgaff goodybags (airtime/internet usage/texts).

So the experiment continues and so far I like it.

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Lent Day #16

Day #16 (40acts): Organise a swap. They mean DVDs, books, household items, whatever and you meet up with some people and have an exchange. I spent part of Sunday clearing out items but rather than create my own swap I’m donating the goods I don’t need to charity shops. Mostly I was getting rid of clothes but I also sorted through a cupboard and a shelf with the result that we now have a spare cupboard. There was a lot of tat that had to go straight to the bin or into the paper recycling. Then I came to work this morning and my only meeting of the day was postponed. So I spent 2 hours working through my paperwork and now I have a tidier desk, filing tray, storage units and shelving. Awesome!

Day #16 (action): I spent Saturday at the London Quakers annual general meeting. There were some really good worship-sharing sessions on why we came to Quakers and why we keep going to Quaker meetings. Quite deep and open despite many of not having met each other before. In the afternoon we explored creating community and I spent some time in a small group with Friends from Romford and Kingston, in a well facilitated workshop (not by me).

I was meant to be helping with the workshop but during the lunchbreak I couldn’t meet with the main facilitator because I helped an old man across the road. And then carried his shopping bags as he went home and then up to his flat and then joined him for a wee chat before rushing back to London Quakers. I was grateful to God for putting me in the right place at the right time to help him and was quite amused about how my plans for that hour were torn up and I used my time differently.

Today, I dropped off a card to the guy to let him know that I’m around to help if he needs it. I know from my own experience that sometimes it is really hard to ask for help, so I’ve decided to try and offer it and see if that helps.

Lent Day #14

Day #14 (40acts): Waste time with others. The blurb says: “You’ve got a meeting at 4.30, which will probably run way beyond your 6pm clock-off time, and you’d really like to grab an hour at the gym before heading home. You’ve also got that report to write, ironing to do and maybe you’ll manage to squeeze 15 minutes of telly in before you fall into bed in an exhausted heap. STOP. Reclaim the heart of relational life. It’s more important to spend time with a loved one than it is to make sure the ironing basket is empty. Reorder your priorities, and make sure you’re factoring some uncontrollable laughter, mud pies and sofa-jumping into your day”.

So, this lunchtime I couldn’t do my yoga class because my meeting immediately before clashed, so I went to lunch, thinking that afterwards I would go out for a walk. As it was, I ended up chatting with colleagues and had lots of interesting conversations, though I wasn’t really wasting time and there wasn’t any sofa-jumping. Hopefully I’ll do something different tonight.

Day #14 (action): Today is international women’s day. So I went back to the Fawcett Society today and did their action from last Friday, writing to my MP to ask her to take urgent action to increase support for childcare costs for low-income families.

According to the Fawcett Society: “Research published by the Daycare Trust on 27 February 2012 revels that, once again, the cost of childcare in the UK – already amongst the highest in the world – has risen above the rate of inflation, whilst wages remain stagnant.

At the same time, support for childcare costs for low-income families has been reduced:  the childcare element of the Working Tax Credit now only covers up to 70% of childcare costs.

Evidence is showing that this combination of factors is forcing women to give up their jobs as the costs of childcare outweigh the benefits of work. A survey conducted by Working Mums found that 24% of mothers have had to give up work as a result of the changes.

This does not make sense: it contradicts the government’s aim of “making work pay”; it reinforces outdated stereotypes of women as homemakers as it forces them back into the home and; overall, it hits single mothers hardest – a group the government is particularly keen to see in paid work.”

You can join the action here.

Lent Day #11

Day #11 (40acts): Step out of your comfort zone. I saw this message in my inbox as soon as I got to work and I thought that it would be quite easy. But it isn’t. I haven’t stepped out of my comfort zone at all today and I’m not really sure where to start. I’m studying Swahili though and my class is tonight so I guess that I will be out of my comfort zone there – I usually am. But that’s something that I do every week so it doesn’t feel like a step forward.

Day #11 (action): I followed up on the arms trade today, but taking part in the Campaign Against Arms Trade action asking David Miliband MP to push for the UK to stop arming repression. The action came about after David Miliband stated that the Labour Party’s concern was to “prevent the spread of conflict and ultimately save lives and reduce human rights abuses”. See: http://act.caat.org.uk/lobby/60.

Campaign Against Arms Trade is one of the organisations that currently has a Quaker UK peaceworker.

Lent Day #10

Day #10 (40acts): Have a screen break. This one is all about taking a break from watching television. There’s a blog post that accompanies each suggestion and in this one the person who writes says what a difference it made to them to stop watching television about 18 months ago. They also suggest that their children have longer attention spans and more creative imaginations because they don’t watch television.

I remember buying video recorder about seven years ago for my parents. I got it in Tesco and when I was at the checkout they refused to let me have it until I gave them my address to pass onto the licensing authorities. Since I didn’t own a television and was giving the recorder as a gift, I thought that this was a stupid thing. The cashier was resolute and eventually she called her manager who said the same thing: ‘why would you buy a video recorder if you didn’t have a television?’ Because it is a gift, I said, to hardened minds.

A while later I was visited by a man from the TV licensing people From the doorstep he took a brief look in and said he didn’t think we had a television. I was surprised by this because wouldn’t it have been easy for us to have it upstairs? Anyway, we didn’t have one and we still don’t.

I still watch TV programmes, just on 4od or iplayer. I’m enjoying Pointless, a good fun game show with gentle humour and general knowledge. But I don’t think that I need to change that habit. Of course, if I’m going to post a blogpost every day I do need some screen time…

Perhaps I overuse my smartphone and I could do with using that less, so that might be a challenge to try. I’ve also thought in the past about reducing my computer use at work. I’ve even considered switching off the computer for a day a week to see how I go and whether it really is possible. Usually when I arrive at work the first thing I do is switch on my computer, even before I’ve changed out of my sweaty cycling clothes. And the last thing I do in the evening is switch off the computer and monitor. A lot of my colleagues don’t even manage to switch their monitors off. I’ve given up pestering them about it but I do believe that if they can change their habits on that, then other things will change too. And we Quakers do need to find new habits if we’re to succeed at becoming low-carbon sustainable Quaker communities.

Day #10 (action): Today I saw a lot of statues on a walk around London with some friends. And that got me thinking of the Alfred Salter statue in Bermondsey that was stolen presumably to be sold for scrap metal. So I signed the e-petition on Cashless Scrap Metal Trade – Amendment to Scrap Metal Merchants Act 1964. It currently has over 55,000 signatures but needs another 45,000 or so to go anywhere in government. I do wish that a solution could be found to the illegal trade in metals, particularly as it is stolen from railways and rooftops as well as statues, manhole covers and other items.

In January home secretary Theresa May made an announcement introducing urgent legislation to combat the epidemic of metal theft in the UK. Measures, including the banning of cash payments for scrap metal, would be tabled as amendments to the Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Bill, currently in the House of Lords.It is intended that these new laws will improve the traceability of scrap metal transactions and reduce the ability of anonymous sellers to handle stolen metal.

Lent Day #9

Day #9 (40acts): shop local. I do already thanks. A few years ago we proactively stopped our regular shopping visit to the Sainsbury’s supermarket a mile or so away from our home and started shopping at a new grocers that opened near us. We got to know the staff there and in the other local shops and although we may pay a little more for some goods, we save time and energy. Last year a Coop opened nearby and since we belong to the Coop we regularly use it too, especially for pizzas… Don’t forget that the Coop has money off Fairtrade products during Fairtrade fortnight and Coop members get extra points for Fairtrade purchases at the same time.

Day #9 (action): Joan Ruddock MP responded to my last letter in under 24 hours. I just sent her another email (though forgot to change the subject line, sorry Joan!) in commemoration of two decades of depleted uranium contamination in the Gulf. Over these decades the Ministry of Defence has been responsible for 2.3 tonnes of DU fired by UK forces during the 1991 and 2003 Iraq conflicts.

The Ministry of Defence has plans to extend the life of CHARM 3 the UK’s last remaining depleted uranium (DU) round.

Joan Ruddock has already signed EDM 2318 calling on the government to not extend the life of CHARM 3, so I asked her to lobby the Ministry of Defence on the subject.  

According to the Campaign Against Depleted Uranium, depleted uranium is by-product of the process to enrich uranium for nuclear fuel and weapons. It is very dense and pyrophoric, which means fine particles of DU burn at low temperatures. Its density made it attractive to the military as an anti-armour weapon. Its use in weapons puts civilians, military personnel and the environment at potential risk. Numerous reports from health professionals across Iraq and elsewhere signal increases in cancers and birth abnormalities.

CADU explains that the MoD itself has recognised that DU weapons are not ‘safe’, but remains adamant that the use of DU does not put civilians, military personnel, or the environment at risk.

The UK’s only DU round is called Charm 3. It comes in two pieces – the uranium dart and a separate propellant charge, and it is this charge that is expiring in 2013. The government wants to extend the life of these munitions by either re-licensing or renewing the charges. 

I chose this campaign because the Quaker UK peaceworker programme placed a peaceworker with CADU a few years ago and I’ve been aware of the issues ever since but never really done anything about it.

Lent Day #8

Day #8 (40acts): Give up your holiday. Today’s challenge is to give up a day of holiday and give your time to a Christian organisation around Easter. It just so happens that later this month the Europe and Middle East Section of Friends World Committee for Consultation, the organisation that connects Quakers in our region, has an executive committee meeting in Cambridge. And, by some quirky coincidence, I’m a member of the executive. Further, the meeting is for 3 days and I will need to use a day’s leave to attend the meeting. Job’s a good ‘un.
Day #8 (action): Today I wrote to my MP, Joan Ruddock, about Hana Al-Shalabi, a 29-year-old woman from Burqin village near Jenin. She has been on hunger strike for around 2 weeks to protest against her second administrative detention by Israel. The first time she was arrested and detained on 14/09/2009 and released on 18/10/2010 as part of the Shalit’s swap deal, when 1,027 Palestinian prisoners were released. On 16/02/2012 she was re-arrested and ordered to be detained under administrative detention without trial for another 6 months.

Addameer, Palestinian Prisoners Rights advocates, have been monitoring the detention and treatment of Hana Al-Shalabi at the HaSharon prison where she is currently held. Addameer reports that Hana has been subjected to sexual harassment, solitary confinement and abuse in a small cell with poor hygenie and limited access to clean clothes and natural sunlight. She is being denied adequate legal representation following the decline of her appeal against her administrative detention order and harsh treatment. She is being held without charge or trial, all suspicions towards her are held back as ‘secret information’ or remain vague, leaving her without legitimate means to defend herself.

Hana Al-Shalabi is one of 309 prisoners held under administrative detention by Israel. This breaches international rights under Article 9 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) which states that no person should be subjected to arbitrary arrest or detention. I asked Joan to write to the foreign secretary about administrative detention.