Ranting – it’s what I do best

I think I can kiss goodbye to certificates from any of the courses I’m doing because I’ve fallen so far behind. You can take them at your own pace but they all have written parts that have to be handed in by a certain time and my week’s holiday in France has left me struggling. If I’d just been doing one course I’d probably have caught up but three is impossible.

As you know the Complexity course is just to test out me and maths, who have been uneasy partners ever since I failed my maths prelim so badly I wasn’t allowed to sit my Higher. Surviving Disruptive Technologies is really interesting but so far hasn’t told me anything I didn’t already know, although I think I’ll be learning new stuff soon.  Dan Ariely’s Introduction to Irrationality has been marvellous so far. His books are amazing and even just to be on the receiving end of one of his video lectures is a privilege. I’ve already learned lots of stuff that is applicable to campaign work.

However it’s the academic reading that I’m finding invaluable – just being pointed in the right direction and being given free access to academic journals in the fields of consumer behaviour and behavioural economics has told me a lot about how we behave around money, how different payment methods make us buy different things and how money actually demotivates us. It’s all gold dust when it comes to welfare reform and channel shift.

For instance when one of our tenants starts to fall behind with their rent we send a letter detailing all the ways they can pay. My gut feeling was to give them just one option, and not the option that suits us best but the one that suits the customer best. These papers back up my hunch with scientific experiments and research. As a council we would prefer it if people paid by direct debit but that means having a bank account and a debit card. Even that one step away from using cash changes the way we think about money and what we buy. The pain of paying is reduced if cash doesn’t change hands making it easier to buy the things we shouldn’t, even if it means we don’t have enough to pay the necessary bills. Already vulnerable people become more vulnerable when they’re hit with bank charges to pay for overdrafts. Not only that, once you have a bank account you’re open to the ‘suggestion’ of a credit card. Research shows that the pain of paying is even less with a credit card and when it comes to food we’re far more likely to fill our trolleys with unhealthy food if we’re paying by credit card so those financially vulnerable people’s health also becomes an issue.

So if we’re really serious about helping the most vulnerable of our customers we should concentrate on face-to-face contact using cash or at the very least a payment card they can pay their bills with at a PayPoint. We shouldn’t be forcing them online with a debit card because we’re only creating more problems further down the line with rent arrears and all the problems ill health brings. Ideally it’s the people on the cusp of moving from phone to online and the cusp of moving from face-to-face to phone we should be targeting so that there is more face-to-face time available for the most vulnerable in society. Not only that our face-to-face customer services officers are trained to look for the signs of domestic abuse and the risk of someone becoming homeless – that’s not something that can easily be picked up the phone, never mind online.


Anyway, that’s my rant over for tonight. I rarely know where these posts will go and all I meant to talk about tonight was the courses but look where it ended up! If you fancy a doing one of these free online courses there’s a database of 338 (and counting) courses, provided by 62 universities and you’ll be joining an international campus of nearly 3.5m students – see you at the bar in the Union 😉

Today I have learned:

  • I am a hoarder of travel tickets, most of which are now too old for me to claim back
  • I can remember most of the theories but have forgotten most of the vocabulary from 1st year chemistry
  • this shouldn’t bother me – it was 33 years ago
  • I am old

Today’s track

Cos summer’s coming 🙂

Today’s recipe



I thought the kids would love this because it’s basically a square burger. They didn’t. It was an epic fail for them so now HimIndoors and I will have to eat it all – such a cross to bear!


500g steak mince

500g lamb mince

1 onion, grated,

2 cloves of garlic, grated

1 tbsp tomato ketchup

50g Parmesan cheese, grated

1 egg beaten


100g fresh breadcrumbs

Method: Heat the oven to 180C/Gas 5.

Put everything in a bowl and squelch together well with your hands. Force the whole lot into a loaf tin and shove in the oven for 60-70 minutes.

Remove and let it stand for 5 minutes. Drain the juices then remove from the tin and serve in slices with the tomato sauce from a previous post.


  1. Marthafied · April 24, 2013

    I do admire you- me and Maths were born enemies and that has not changed…ever. I have tied, tutors have tried and now I just keep my respectful distance from him…lol. Your meatloaf recipe looks delicious!!

    • carolynemitchell · April 24, 2013

      I have come to the conclusion that the meaning of everything can probably be boiled down to an algebraic equation 🙂

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