First Dates, Relationship Termination, and Fine Art

First Date

Hi Jim, it’s really nice to meet you. Those were the opening lines from my now wife when we first met. It wasn’t the best of starts considering my name is Mark, but some 18-years later, she remembers my name on a daily basis. I sincerely hope it’s for the right reasons. I remember our first date, we went to a pub, although I was driving so couldn’t drink alcohol, so I ordered myself a Coca-Cola. When I asked my future wife what she would like to drink, she seemed to take forever to reply. So, I did the appropriate thing when the bar man asked if I wanted anything else, I replied; two straws.

Share a Coke With
Share A Coke With...


But as for exes, I read something of interest this week that made me question why on earth people who have severed all ties with their exes, often some years later, decide to stalk them out on social media. For me, it’s not a thing, exes are exes usually for a reason. Don’t get me wrong, if I saw one on the street I would say hello, but there is no way I would start a deep and meaningful conversation.

In some cases where children are involved, absolutely keeping in touch should be important, and to an extent I get the whole Demi Moore – Bruce Willis thing, but exes that you knew in school and have only curiosity for, to then stalk them years later on Facebook seems well, a bit weird.

Although I wasn’t stalking an ex, I did come across a girl who was at junior school with me, I was sure at age 9 she was the one, but dear me in the many passing years she has obviously developed a taste for Krispy Kreme, and also has nine children. I am sure she is still a lovely girl, but too many years have passed for us to strike up a conversation. I think at the time, we had only the love of smelly felt tip pens in common, and maybe those smelly erasers. Perhaps we were just high on the smell of a strawberry scented eraser?

I guess that it is difficult in this day and age to go through a breakup, but some people seem to have a compulsion to keep a watchful eye on their ex through the use of social media. That compulsion though has now officially been comprehensively analysed by psychologists.

Now for those of you who are regular readers of my blog, you will know that my tolerance for silly studies/silly research/access to funding when there is so much else wrong with the world is at best low; this latest research has to be in the top ten of most useless research studies ever. That my friends has given me a whole new topic to blog about in the future, the top ten most useless wastes of good money ever. Surely, research money should be used for something like researching a cure for Ebola, or designing something that will help make the world better?

However, two researchers surveyed 431 university students (150 male, and 281 female), who had the unfortunate luck of experiencing a breakup in the previous twelve months, and were both of the parties had a Facebook account. They were then asked a series of questions about attachment, investment, commitment, distress, and post-breakup stalking on social media.

The results were then published in a journal called Cyber Psychology, Behaviour, and Social Networking that showed that the more distressing the breakup, the more post-breakup stalking (or as they described in the report, Interpersonal Electronic Surveillance), took place. In particular higher incidents of this activity were performed by those who did not initiate the break up. The report went on to say that Interpersonal Electronic Surveillance, (really?) was then increasingly carried out on current partners. It seems that a bad breakup then means that people are then increasingly wary of new relationships.

Now this research is all well and good, but maybe they should have just Googled the answer. There are numerous references to trust issues following a breakup. Hey, they could have even streamed a few romantic films on Netflix. Every single romantic film I have ever seen has displayed some kind of relationship/trust issue. The researchers also said “Another possibility is that users spend time investigating the ex-partner's new romantic interest and engaging in social comparison, which may lead to negative affect. Given their affordances, social media are discussed as potentially unhealthy enablers for online surveillance after relationship termination."

Notice the introduction of new phrases in the last paragraph, ‘relationship termination’ and ‘online surveillance’, it really does make every cyber-stalker of exes sound more like James Bond.


So Facebook is a mecca of cyber-stalkers if the research is to be believed. But Facebook is also an influential social media platform. Or more to the point, its users are more influential than people think.

Often when I view my Facebook timeline, it’s full of political rants, conspiracy theories (and I like a good conspiracy theorist, just like one would a barmy uncle, or a dog who keeps walking into the wall), and cats. Yeah, there’s a whole heap of cats on Facebook, and some have their own account.

Generally people believe that whatever they say on Facebook, or whatever opinion they wish to share, won’t be influential at all. In fact, some people like to use it as a public diary and rant about pretty much everything. I once saw a post where the account holder was ranting that his stay in a luxury resort was ruined by the excessive heat in the afternoon, and that the all-inclusive bar, didn’t serve him quickly enough. I got problems too, but honestly, walk through Kings Cross in London at night, and then you will see many homeless people who would probably give their right arm for a night in a Best Western.

Everyone thinks that what they say has no real effect on the real world, but the opposite has proven to be true. Yes, more research. A team of political science researchers at the University of Delaware created a fictitious Facebook page and populated it with basic, non-partisan information about the fictitious person and then sent the page to a whopping 183 people, together with an online survey.

Some saw two positive comments, and some saw a page with two challenging comments. When the users were asked for their opinions of the person on the page, those who had seen a positive comment were more likely to support the person. Those who saw the challenging comments, had more unfavourable perceptions. Rather interestingly, it didn’t matter how the fictitious person responded to the comments, it made no difference in the way that the person was perceived.

Allegedly, what the experiment showed, was that people trust comments from their peers, more than they trust self-generated comments from the fictitious person, who the participants did not know was actually fictitious.

So it seems that positive comments from others on Facebook, and I am guessing other social platforms too, actually have more of an impact in shaping other citizens view of the person. The results of the study were published in the Journal of Experimental Political Science.

So what is the prognosis for Facebook and social media? Well, if you intend on ‘terminating a relationship’, it’s probably best to avoid social media for a while. However, if you want to say great things about me, my Facebook page is over at:



In a tale that has gripped the high end art world, a billionaire Russian art collector has allegedly handed over two Picasso watercolours to French authorities whilst they investigate if the works are stolen.

Dmitry Rybolovlev, who also happens to own Monaco football club, paid €27m (£20m) in 2013 to purchase ‘Woman Arranging Her Hair’ and ‘Spanish woman with a fan’ from art merchant Yves Bouvier. However, Picasso’s step-daughter, Catherine Hutlin-Blay, and whose mother posed for the paintings, has said that the paintings were stolen from her private collection some two years ago.

Rybolovlev, has said that he is unaware that the paintings had been stolen, and invited the press to see them prior to handing them over to French officials in Paris. Rybolovlev stressed at the time that he ‘wished the absolute truth would come out’. Hutin-Blay denied consenting to the sale, or receiving any proceeds from it. Meanwhile Bouvier was charged in France with handling stolen goods, and ordered to hand over the value of the paintings as a guarantee while the case is in progress.


The new Broad Museum in L.A has seen over 85,000 tickets reserved, despite that entrance to the new museum is actually free. Grand Avenue was closed for five days for a press event recently, making regular commutes within the area a bit of a headache.

Eli Broad Made his fortune as the only CEO of two fortune 500 companies. He started out on his entrepreneurial journey building affordable homes in the Detroit suburbs, which eventually lead to the development of Kaufman-Broad Homes. He also ventured into the financial services sector as the CEO of Sun-America Life Insurance.

This new museum is certainly bringing a buzz to the art world, but beyond the hype of the press event, is the real story that this beautiful building is a truly magnificent piece of architecture in its own right. Joanne Heyler, who is the museums founding director, and Broad collection manager, and Catherine Diller, who was the chief architect, have spent many years building the collection and to bring their vision to life. Heyler has recently said that at the core of the Broad, is the collection. Diller has also commented that the Broad is just as Eli Broad’s vision, in that it is a vault veiled as a museum.

If you plan on visiting the Broad, let us all know what you think. If only I was closer to L.A, you can guarantee that one of the advance tickets would be firmly in my grasp.


A little more closer to home, and some would say no less impressive is a new exhibit in one of the most cultural parts of Scotland.

Recently opened at Glasgow’s East End is an optical art illusion that features décor that is similar to that found in the long running, but sadly now missed TV show, Friends. The One Where We Wonder What Friends Did is a sculptural installation and is the first of a planned series of exhibitions being staged by Wasps at the Hanson Street complex in Dennistoun.

Launched in late September 2015, the exhibit also coincides with Wasps Open Studio’s weekend on October 3rd/4th 2015. This will give the public an opportunity to take a look at the rather impressive former tobacco factory complete with its 77 studios, and 200 artists.

The exhibition by Oliver Braid will also be encouraging children to take an interest in art by “sawing them in half”. At the heart of the exhibition, is an Ames room, built by Oliver Braid, which plays with perspective to create an optical illusion.

When viewers look through a peephole everything inside appears to be in perfect proportion. But if they then see two people in different parts of the room one will seem huge and the other tiny.


IHS a research company (one that isn’t on my list), has indicated that Wide Colour Gamut flat panel displays are expected to see a growth in sales from 3% in 2015, to 25% of the display market in terms of area by 2020. Colour Gamut refers to the ability of the display to reproduce colours as they are seen by the naked eye. Organic LED (OLED) displays usually found on smartphones, constitute a vast majority of wide colour gamut unit shipments. In terms of area, television displays will make up 52% of the market in 2015, but will rise to 86% by 2020.

Time to ditch the new TV?


The primary focus when purchasing a new television or display for most people are screen size and display resolution. However, the technology gaps between manufacturers is narrowing. Some manufacturers are even using the exact same display panels in their offerings.

Emerging technologies are seen as the key to increasing the colour gamut of displays, and increase the high dynamic range of their products. But, due to increasing competition between manufacturers, display makers are looking to differentiate their displays. You may recall my feature on the new Dolby Cinema experience a while ago, their clever use of the technology available to them, meant that they didn’t necessarily need to increase the resolution to create a better picture.

So for the next few years at least, I have a feeling that we will be hearing more about improvements to OLED, and in particular about Quantum Dot Technology. If you are on the lookout today for a new display, then OLED and Quantum Dot technologies will be the better offer. Of course, you can always use the excuse that technology will be better tomorrow to put off buying into new tech quite so early, but the reality is that technology will always be better tomorrow, so unless something is going to be released in the much shorter term, you might as well go and buy that 82 inch OLED. I have a feeling that the real differences won’t be seen for at least another three to four years.


Everest, the highest mountain in the world, and a place that base camp at least is on my bucket list, is also a grave to over 200-bodies of souls who have attempted the climb. The mountain seems to offer endless possible ways of coming to your end, from falling what seems to be miles down a rocky face, to starving yourself of oxygen, and everything in between.

Mount Everest
Everest The Gatekeeper of Many Souls


Alas, many climbers make the epic attempt every year, some succeed, some epically fail, and others, well; they kind of just die trying. The environment is tough and even my one day planned trek to base camp will be fraught with concern over the harshness that awaits. You know I really want to do it, but I often convince myself that it’s not a great idea.

But the routes to Everest are many, and so are the tales of people who have succumbed to an untimely end. But the bodies of those souls are not without their use. Many act as way points for those attempting the climb. Many are beautifully preserved in the frozen ice that covers the mountain all through the year.

An Indian climber who attempted to make the climb in 1996, and is believed to be a gentleman by the name of Tsewang Paljor. His body lies near a cave that every climber has to pass on their way to the summit. He has since earned the nickname of Green Boots, presumably because his boots were green, he had become separated from his party and sought some cover in a mountain overhang. Unfortunately he remained exposed and died.

Ten-years later, Green Boots was joined by a British climber, David Sharp. Stopping in a cave very close to where Green Boots rests, his body eventually froze in the position that he sat in. Although David was still alive, over 40-climbers had to pass him, believing that he was in fact already dead. However, very faint moans were heard, and some climbers offered him oxygen. Alas, the attempt at reviving him came far too late to save him.

Francys Arsentiev was the first American woman to reach the summit without the aid of bottled oxygen in 1998. Bottled oxygen, or rather the empty cylinders remain a big problem in the area even today. Many are discarded, and impractical to actually remove. Francys attempt even though she reached the summit, is classed as a failed attempt because she failed to return down the mountain.

Francys husband was with her on the expedition, but despite a tough night-trek to camp, Francys did not arrive with him. Other climbers reported that they had tried to assist Francys, however, they could not save her, as she was barely alive. Francys husband had also attempted to find his wife, but the next day climbers saw only the husband’s ice axe near her body. The mystery of the husband was finally revealed the following year when climbers found the husband’s body lower down the mountain, where he had fallen to his death.

So do I still want to go and visit base camp? The answer is yes. I am determined that one day I will go, although I do continue to have some trepidation. If someone were to offer me a choice of running over the invisible line at Area 51 and attempting to get on to the base, or visit Everest’s base camp, I would say that my chances of survival are about the same.

So that’s all for today, and in case you are wondering what has happened to my feature on the making of a conspiracy theory, it is still a work in progress! I have decided to go all out with this one, and creating a video guide is extremely time consuming. It will arrive very soon, especially since I have now got used to working with the Go Pro. I must say that is one awesome piece of kit.

You are probably wondering what my then future wife eventually ordered from the bar, she didn’t, we shared a Coca-Cola before sharing it was a thing.



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