Doing a Centre Of Excellence course

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I’ve been doing a cheap online Child Psychology course bought at a big discount from Centre of Excellence. Think I must have paid £14 for it on Littlebird, when it claimed its actual price should have been £300 or something. To be fair, looking at the materials, I would never pay £300 for something like that. But for £14 it’s the right price. Well, basically it organizes and cuts through a lot of the bulk of many psychology textbooks and basically puts all of the most important, noteworthy stuff in it. Stuff like Ainsworth’s research on attachment theory, Bower’s size constancy, Gestalt’s laws of visual perception, etc. All in one place… I printed out every page and filed it in a manila folder. I read through it like a book, every night. I try to answer the questions at the end of each topic from memory, so that means I am trying to memorize the information I read.

There are many, many inconsistencies in the text, misprints and grammatical errors. That’s why it is good as a taster course but not as a proper course. Anyway I had a look at some A Level Psychology and AP Psychology material online, and found this course material is more or less under the same scope. That’s understandable, as this course is meant for any adult who can read and comprehend reasonably. It certainly doesn’t get into 2nd year level Psychology material that’s for sure. I’d say it may be slightly less than what is covered in a 1st year Psychology degree, but is around that level. Anyway 1st year Uni in UK tends to be around A level standard anyway, to bring up all the 1st year students to somewhat similar knowledge levels about the degree subject.

That said, I’m really happy to be doing this cheap online course. I sure as hell don’t care for the “certificate” issued to those who complete the course, as I am well aware it will mean nothing as a qualification and is not accredited. I also had to Google up stuff while going through this course, whenever I needed a better explanation of the concept, because sometimes the grammatical errors are really bad and I don’t even know if I’m thinking along the right lines as I should be when learning this.

As a primer for Uni level Psychology though, this course is decent, if you’re not paying more than what I did for it. Be prepared to have to do research yourself online to understand what is being taught in this course though, but then again doing one’s own research and own reading alongside a degree is an essential study skill to ensure success at degree level, so might as well start now at this, if you are planning to do a degree in this subject anyway!

I suppose one could read an A Level Psychology or AP Psychology textbook instead of this course but I suspect this might be the cheaper option, unless one can find textbooks cheaper than this. It is possible, but for me personally, I tend to avoid textbooks unless they are required in a course.

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Fengshui. Don’t believe it.

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I developed an interest in occult sciences as a teenager. I had an unhappy childhood, and growing up I found I always lacked purpose or drive. So I turned to occult sciences to try and find answers in life to guide me. It has done squat for me. Absolutely squat. All the money I’d ever spent on it… Looking back, I know now it was all for nothing like what I thought I’d get back for what I paid for. But I hung onto it for years, dabbling occasionally in it, hoping to let it guide me properly. I got upset when it said my life is in for bad luck, or if it said that of my kids. Then the rational skeptic in my brain kicks in and I start thinking can all this really be true? What is the proof for them? Should I be basing important life decisions on them? Etc.

Well it looks like the occult science bubble has definitely burst tonight. And funnily I feel pretty relieved. It was like a huge weight off my chest. And it was all down to this guy (let’s call him “C.”) who owns this Fengshui website at geomancy*dot*net. On it he operates a free advice forum. I’m sure he is doing it all for good will and a bit of self-promotion, but still mainly goodwill. You see he does not have to dispense advice to others if they ask. But he does anyway. And he does try. I know I can be really determined to get to the bottom of things, and once I’m in that mode, well I might seem vexatious to some. I was one of those kids who always asked “Why?”

Anyway recently I’ve been asking him a lot of questions about how to find out the best/most suitable careers by looking at our birth charts.

Now according to the Fengshui theory, careers can be chosen based on what Elements they can be classified as. The Ancient Chinese believed there were 5 elements in the world. Earth, Water, Metal, Wood and Fire. (Even just this alone should have put my rational skeptic brain off wasting more time on this endeavour and sent me running for the hills. But no. I persevered, trying to get to the bottom of it all.)

The problem is that careers are usually classed by Fengshui elements in a pretty crude way, which doesn’t really make it very useful. For example Water careers are said to be things like sailing, marine related industries, etc. But take sailing for instance. It really is a kind of sport, and sports however are classed as Earth careers… Or marine biology for instance, is a form of science. And Science is usually classed as Wood careers.. If you have a job like Vanessa Mae’s… Well she is a performer and her expertise is in music. Specifically violin. You could say her career is Water (music and arts are generally classed as such), Fire (because it is a performance career and performing in front of others, being a star, it can be argued as a Fire element), then you have the instrument she plays – the violin – that’s generally made of wood, so she’s in a lot of contact with wood, especially since she said before she usually practiced what… 8 hours a day? So what career element is she? A mix of many… And you can do this analysis for many other jobs as well. There are very few jobs today that are a pure Element type. Most jobs are mixed elements if you really analyse it. I guess what I’m trying to say is, there is no fixed answer on this topic. Read: There is no objective way of determining what element any career or job is, in the Fengshui sense.

Also even if you found a job that seems to fit all the elements you require to balance out your chart or whatever, doesn’t mean you’ll even like the job or find it interesting, or if that job requires a huge amount of studying and you’re perhaps too old to retrain (e.g. doctor), or if you don’t have the mental capacity to deal with the requirements of the job or the training (say being a criminal lawyer requures almost 24/7 involvement with work, plus a strong stomach because of the gruesome details of some murder cases say, which if you are a mother of young children with a lot of hoysehold responsibility, or if you are natyrally quite squeamish or easily upset, would not suit you no matter how suutable the job’s Career Elements are for your chart…

So I asked quite a few questions to C. about this topic and he got really upset at me. I didn’t really understand everything he wrote in his explanations of the concepts. On hindsight that’s probably because it was a load of metaphysical gibberish (as most occult sciences are) to a rational skeptic mind like mine. So in the end I said it all makes little sense to me. And I don’t really see the point in even using the Fengshui system to determine suitable careers for myself because basically it is a very gray and vague area. Very non-specific and hmm… Drove me nuts trying to understand it all. C. actually went on the offensive from the outright. Whoa… Why was he so mad? And now I realised he felt his career and the very stuff he was pushing were threatened by the nature of my questions, as he could not do anything other to admit in a wishy washy sort of way that well, there is no definite way of figuring out this sort of thing.

But I am glad this happened because it was the final straw that broke the proverbial camel’s back. I really needed to witness the farce that came from one of the self-proclaimed experts on the subject and the non-answer of my questions to finally say, “You know what? This whole Bazi Career thing is a crock of shit. It doesn’t really work. It is about as useful as a chocolate teapot for finding out one’s suitable careers.”

But lessons have to be learnt in life and for that, I guess this is where my life has led me.

So now hear me on this. If you really really want to figure out what the best career/job is for yourself, here are a few suggestions I can offer you – many of which are from legit career advise websites and discussion forums (non-occult ones, mind!) :

– Work with your natural atributes and aptitudes and preferences. Doing MBTI tests can often be a good start, followed by doing something like Dependable Strengths program to find out where your strengths and weaknesses lie, plus your natural preferences – because it is always ten times easier to work with your natural preferences than to go against the grain. Anyone can force themselves to get used to doing work that they are not naturally inclined towards, and even do it quite well, but they will never be as happy or fulfilled doing so than if they had done something in alignment with their natural preferences right?

– Come up with a shortlist of possible career matches, then see which one suits.

One thing to always bear in mind is that even if you found the perfect career for you, it’s still no good if you live in a place where there may be little to no job opportunities for that particular career path, and if you are stuck in that place and migrating to a country with those career opportunities is out of the question, you’d have to consider forgoing that career path.

So in short, there are very many factors that influence what your career path will be. And the fengshui bazi thing is such a tiny tiny part of that decision tree, if you ever decide to utilise it. And if you don’t utilise it, don’t worry. You are NOT going to be worse off for it. In fact I would hazard a guess you’ll actually save a lot more time, money and hassle by NOT using fengshui bazi methods to try and find your most suitable career.

More crooked estate agent problems…

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The staff I dealt with in the beginning, Tracy, was nice. Then she left the company. Actually when we first moved in, there was delay after delay after delay. We were told we could move in mid December of last year, then only to be told the landlord is going to stay until New Year and we could move in straight after New Year, then only to be told again that date has to be changed to just after mid January. It was beyond frustrating. I complained. It inconvenienced our moving plans and cost us in extra fees to the agent of our previous property (we effectively had to pay for extension of our initial 6 month AST which had ended mid – December, plus we had to change our removals van rental, etc. it all cost money).  But at least Tracy was nice. It doesn’t change the fact though, that this was a bad start. At first I was wondering if the landlord was at fault here. Their explanations so far did seem to put the blame on the landlord.

Then I moved in and found the landlord left us chocolates and wine and a housewarming card. She certainly doesn’t seem like a mean landlord! The house is nice and the landlord seemed nice. However the agents are arses. They insist on quarterly inspections. I’m not against them even if they are a bit of an inconvenience, but I don’t mind as long as a mutually convenient time is agreed upon. However the agents informed me they have a set of keys and will let themselves in whenever they liked. They refused to give me a time and would only give me a date, and they insist that as long as the notice of the date of inspection was given 24 hrs in advance, they can let themselves in at whatever time they made it here. Their reason for not being able to give a time? “Oh, because we can’t possibly know what time we can get to your property since we have lots of houses to inspect on that day.” What blatant tosh, and they say it on the phone and repeat it again and again despite me telling them this is not right and very unprofessional. Would you like your agent to let themselves into your rented home unannounced when you are alone in the house sleeping or taking a shower in the bathroom? This is exactly the reason why I am not happy with the agent maintaining they have the right to let themselves in whenever they made it here. Also, how can you trust a stranger to come to your house for an inspection and not snoop around your things? In my opinion, this is pure stupidity on their part. If anything of yours’ goes missing after you’ve discovered they’ve let themselves in for inspections, please make a police report of theft. And complain to the Property Ombudsman, to which they belong to. Sue them for harassment. These are the few recourses I can think of.

Under Section 1 of the Landlord and Tenants Act 1985, I am legally entitled to my landlord’s address, however the agents point blank said they will not give me the information because of Data Protection. Sorry but I know my stuff too. Data Protection Act 1988 does not absolve your legal obligations. Do you treat me as a fool? If you don’t release the landlord’s details to me within 21 days of my request (if I submit it formally), not only are they committing a summary offence, but they can be liable to a conviction of a fine not exceeding level 4 on the standard scale. And besides, this is not the only way I can find out where my landlord lives. But I’m giving them the chance to cock up. They are stupid to do so.

This bunch are total crooks. But they seem to want to try it on and see how far they can push the tenant to conform to their rules. And I wouldn’t be surprised if my difficulties at the start of move-in were due to them lying and implying it was the landlord’s faults. But I shall reserve judgment on that until I know more of the facts. For now, what they have done to me is totally out of hand.

As if it wasn’t bad enough that ALL the lettings agents over here charge ridiculous fees for tenancy renewals whether it is for another fixed term AST or for conversion of an AST to a rolling contract. Yes yes, I know the law says otherwise. Says conversion of an intial AST to a rolling contract should be free of charge and automatic right? But try telling that to ANY lettings agent over here. They will just say to your face something like “But we set the rules for our company. Take it or leave it. This is just the way it is.” And you know what? They are not wrong. Yes, if they are upfront about the fees from the beginning, you cannot then say they are unreasonable to charge you them if you do take up one of their properties. You sign a contract with them, and the contract will stipulate clearly (in mine, it’s in bold letters) that tenancy renewal fees are £60 for another 6 month AST, or £20 per month extra on top of the rent for a rolling contract. See, you have the choice not to sign the contract in the first place and say “Fuck those fees”, but if you do that, then you don’t get to rent the property they are managing.

So you’d think, I’d go searching for landlords who rent their properties direct without agents then. Wait… that didn’t slip my mind of course. However, these sorts of landlords are slim pickings around here. Maybe about 10% of the market (or so I’ve seen so far, and I am signed up to Openrent and other private landlord updates whenever new properties to rent come up)… And a lot of times, their offerings are not great. For one thing, they all seem to like charging at least 20% more rent than what an agent-managed rental property of a similar standard would charge. And then they tend to be in areas I don’t really want to live in. Besides there just aren’t that many to choose from, so that would explain why the ones that do pop up tend to be in areas I’m not going for.

Sigh…

For years, I’ve been resisting the national trend to buy my own home. I’ve always thought it was pointless to saddle myself with mortgage debt till I’m nearly (or truly) dead. Renting is cheaper than buying. If you think about it, the cost of the upkeep and the renovation of a home will always cost more if you do it yourself, than if you just had an agent round to sort it out as long as you pay rent. That is if the agent does sort things out, but to be fair, if they don’t, it is shittier than shit.

But now the idea of home ownership seems more alluring, compared to the crap I have to deal with with these extortionate, unreasonable agents in the past 2 years. Before that, I rented from possibly one of the best landlords ever – we stayed for a good 7 years as a result. If we weren’t forced to move as a result of work opportunities (or the lack of, in that area), we would never have moved. But since then, our experience in the rental market as tenants has been a never-ending cascade of crap. My previous agents (no, not the nice landlord… the ones I rented with after I moved out of the nice landlord’s accomodation) were only marginally better – at least when I requested my landlord’s address, they supplied it, albeit not as readily as over the phone, but when I wrote a formal request and sent it by registered post, they were pretty quick to supply it to me.

Ugh… I hate the rental market in England. Why is it so badly regulated and why do so many of these agents go scot-free so easily?

Our current tax system explained

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http://guardianlv.com/2012/03/our-current-tax-system-explained/

This is how our current Taxing system works. For simplicity, I’ll break it down to bar stool economics.

Suppose that every day, ten men go out for beer and the bill for all ten comes to $100. If they paid their bill the way we pay our taxes, it would go something like this:

The first four men (the poorest) would pay nothing. The fifth would pay $1.  The sixth would pay $3. The seventh would pay $7. The eighth would pay $12.  The ninth would pay $18.  The tenth man (the richest) would pay $59.

So, that’s what they decided to do. The ten men drank in the bar every day and seemed quite happy with the arrangement, until one day, the owner threw them a curve.  “Since you are all such good customers,” he said, “I’m going to reduce the cost of your daily beer by $20. Drinks for the ten now cost just $80.”

The group still wanted to pay their bill the way we pay our taxes so the first four men were unaffected.  They would still drink for free.  But what about the other six men – the paying customers? How could they divide the $20 windfall so that everyone would get his “fair share?”  They realized that $20 divided by six is $3.33.  But if they subtracted that from everybody’s share, then the fifth man and the sixth man would each end up being paid to drink his beer. 2 men getting paid to drink wasn’t fair to the other 8 men  So they asked the bar owner to solve the dilemma, the bar owner suggested that it would be fair to reduce each man’s bill by roughly the same amount, and he proceeded to work out the amounts each should pay.

And so:  The fifth man, like the first four, now paid nothing, (100% savings).  The sixth now paid $2 instead of $3, (33% savings).  The seventh now paid $5 instead of $7, (28%savings).  The eighth now paid $9 instead of $12, (25% savings).  The ninth now paid $14 instead of $18, (22% savings).  The tenth now paid $49 instead of $59 (16% savings).

Each of the paying six was better off than before.  And, the first four continued to drink for free.  But once outside the restaurant, the men began to compare their savings.  ‘I only got a dollar out of the $20′, declared the sixth man.  He pointed to the tenth man,’ but he got $10!’  ‘Yeah, that’s right’, exclaimed the fifth man.  ‘I only saved a dollar, too.  It’s unfair that he got ten times more than I!’  ‘That’s true!!’ shouted the seventh man.  ‘Why should he get $10 back when I got only two?  The wealthy get all the breaks!’

‘Wait a minute,’ yelled the first four men in unison.  ‘We didn’t get anything at all.  The system exploits the poor!’  Outraged, the nine men surrounded the tenth and beat him up.

Understandably, the next night, the tenth man didn’t show up for drinks, so the nine sat down and had beers without him.  But when it came time to pay the bill, they discovered something very, very important. They didn’t have enough money between all of them for even half of the bill!  And that, is how our tax system works.  The people who pay the highest taxes get the most benefit from a tax reduction.  Tax them too much, attack them for being wealthy, and they just may not show up anymore.  In fact, they might start drinking overseas where the atmosphere is somewhat friendlier.

David R. Kamerschen, Ph.D. Professor of Economics, University of Georgia

(For those who understand, no explanation is needed. For those who do not understand, no explanation is possible.)

 

Vote or Vote NONE: there’s no need to be silent in this election.

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http://www.votenone.org.uk/menu.html

Make this election work, to improve UK politics

Vote for a candidate who you trust, or vote NONE in protest.

Make sure everyone knows the option to Vote or Vote NONE.  There’s no reason to be silent.

Voting NONE is a positive protest, to say:
‘I believe in democracy, but I do not support any of the candidates.  I want better politics in the UK’.

All votes are counted, recorded and announced for each constituency.

That includes all ballot papers where the voter has not voted for a candidate.

Like all democratic votes, protest votes will be included in news reports and national results only if the numbers make them significant and newsworthy.

Not turning up for the vote is doing nothing. Voting NONE however is doing something. By voting NONE, you’re letting the powers that be know that you want a positive change in politics because the current system is no good.

Please help

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A dear friend of mine goes to Nepal 3 times a year to trek. She happened to be there, caught up in the recent earthquake. She made the courageous decision to stay on and help the people of this beautiful, yet humble country, that she has fallen in love with.

Sadly, she tells me that all of the aid money from major reputable charities such as Red Cross are not really getting through to those on the ground. She is on the ground. Together with the international mix of friends she has made there, they are doing everything they can to help the local Nepalese people. Despite what all the news channels are saying, despite all the large donations pledged by governments and charities, they have not received anything on the ground, and the situation is getting dire. They are having to rescue trapped people by themselves. Bring them to hospital by themselves.

What they really need now is money. Please don’t send food or other things. It can be really hard to distribute. With the money, the locals can buy what they really need. Not what some aid agency or the government think they need. By the way, it’s such a scandal, but I don’t think the Nepalese government can be trusted. They have actually refused aid from Taiwan – a country which is actually very well-equipped and experienced in earthquakes to help them – because they want to please China, who is also offering them aid. If they really put the lives of their own countrymen first, why refuse any aid at all? That’s just my opinion.

My friend’s group has set up an online donation portal that will accept any amount of donations. Really, every little counts, so please do not let any small amount you are able or willing to give stop you. You don’t even have to publicise your donation or the amount. If you donate through this online portal, you can tick the checkbox under the box where you type your donation amount, labelled “Cacher le montant aux autres participants”, and it will hide the amount you donate from public, so nobody need know other than yourself.

My friend and her friends are all just doing this out of the kindness of their own hearts. They are not affiliated to any charities or government organisations (profit or non-profit). We are all looking for the one meaningful direction we should take with our life path, and my friend has found her’s at this moment. There is no catch. Just a sincere wish to help because that is more meaningful than chasing a career ladder or earning the next paycheque.

If you’ve read up to here, thank you for your time. I hope you will donate, but if you can’t, please at least just pray for the people and do everything you can to spread this message and encourage your contacts to donate. The online donation portal is here. If link doesn’t work, then copy and paste this into your browser window to load the website up : https://www.leetchi.com/c/aider-les-nepalais-avec-benjamin

Thank you once again!

Beautiful Tibetan couple’s wedding pictures

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http://news.163.com/photoview/00AP0001/88095.html?from=ph_ss#p=AMRAJ6N000AP0001&from=tj_review

It’s very romanticised, yes I know. I think they look so good in their traditional dress and the pictures of them living as their ancestors would are just so beautiful. Of course, life was not easy in the kind of nomadic lifestyle their ancestors lived. Still, I think it’s a pity that lifestyle is lost. It’s good that the couple did not want to forget their roots though.