Friday, April 22, 2005

Caffeine spider's webWant do you want from me?

There's nothing quite like receiving fanmail to make one have a crisis of confidence (I do of course use the term fanmail somewhat loosely; it was an email from Mr InAcFa which held a smidge of a compliment). He praises me for me by ability to link obtuse topics and rarely explain the connections. I always thought that was a flaw. If there is a better way to confuse people and ensure they never come back, it's to bemuse them and make them work to receive the message.

So on one hand I am praised for a fault, and on the other is my desire to increase the popularity of this blog (why does it matter so?), which I think would involved making the thought processes more transparent (or do I mean opaque? I'll compromise with translucent and therefore fail both analogies). So I'm drawn between to opposing positions: what the audience wants, and what I think the audience wants. Very Reithian.

I suppose the crux is that I've never quite decided what this blog should be. I started it in part to find out what blogging was, and because everyone else seemed to be doing it (and why not?). But I've never had an aim [that I've stuck to]. I hoped it would be highminded scientific commentary, as exhibited by half the sidebar links (most of whom are currently a little dormant). But my inherent tendency to not bother with research, and rarely draft or edit the posts, is not really the best approach. That, and reading endless articles simply for the purposes of regurgitating seems at best tiresome.

So science as a purpose is out. I'll still react where I think it's appropriate (such responses fitting in one of the following categories: huh?, lookee ma or yeah, right) and possibly feel I have something to add.

I had hoped to become a figurehead for political thought, much like many of the major bloggers, until I realised that they know what they're talking about (mostly), and, worse still, care about it.

Technology seemed another hopeful prospect, but my daily exposure consists of sorting out problems caused by other people, and most often these aren't problems per se, being merely impatience coupled with poor application of scant knowledge (read: how hard is it to right click? Much swearing). Not really fertile ground for clever thoughts on new constructs. And when I do think of something which would be good, and would be useful, I forget to write it down, and so forget it completely (like that thing I though of earlier, but can't remember now. But there was something). Expect me to remember it in the stairwell of John Lewis's or two thirds of the way down a swimming pool, only to promptly forget it again.

I regret to say that there really isn't that much more I think about, or think I could apply in blogging. Who would read a blog on the rust patterns of aged Vauxhalls (the rear wheel arches mostly)? Or one on the growth of my banana plant (yeigh big, but needs repotting)? Or one with the theme of "my life isn't good enough" (isn't that most blogs, and the being raisin of virtually every blogger? If they didn't think it would add anything, why do it?)? How about a "I'm being ironic (but i actually really like this)" blog? Or possibly a salacious sex life blog (Day 3: need more loo paper)? Not forgetting one which would combine several of the previous categories - Last night I watched... (actually was watching a play, but on Monday, I watched Animation Nation, which was good, until I realised I'd missed Casanova, which is pap, but fun pap, and then watched ER. Fun pap also applies to Desperate Housewives. There's not much else on. Oh Doctor Who, but suddenly I have half a social life again, so miss it, and never remember the repeats). See because that would combine anal obsessiveness, oh-woe-is-my-life, a vicarious sex-life, and the token coverall of irony.

Just be glad I have neither cats nor children.

So I end up doing what I lambaste others for doing, which is to use my blog for me-too-isms, the yeah-but's of internet debate, and as a diary. And I can never tell what people respond well to, or even what they respond to at all (other than mention of their own name. But having a blog which reads like a register might not be the best thing ever, said he looking somewhere towards the Indian subcontinent).

And up to that last comment, one of the main aims of this blog was (or has been since the early days) to be inoffensive. Negativity begets negativity, and this being the internet flame wars and hate mail are spawned. Though at least it did boost the traffic.

Anyway it was his own silly fault for not reading what I wrote. Admittedly dismal punctuation, grammar, and whatever that other thing is called probably didn't help. Which brings me to the next item on the agenda (don't worry, I don't even have one - not unless it's really well hidden): superfluous loquacious verbosity. Or in other words my immanent pleonasm (yes, I have just found that second one).

As someone once said of me (ok, I lie, as no-one has ever said it of me, and I made it up instead, as none of my friends have yet to be that witty, anyway it still needs rephrasing, but the idea's good), I ought to be reported the RSPCA for donkey maiming. Well, given the number of times I've talked the hind leg off a donkey...

I refer, of course, to my inability to know when to shut up (which also brings in another aspect to blogging; I always perceive it as talking in a conversation, said he typing). My blog posts regularly come out as many pages long (if one pastes it into Word for the purposes of avoiding Blogger's spellcheck, which never knows many words even when it does work). I do it when I'm talking normally too. It's always a case of I've started so I'll finish, and I have an annoying habit of never leaving out details, often remembering something else halfway through, usually getting sidetracked, weaving in another layer of complexity, following a resultant train of thought and why's it dark outside?

I'm aware this probably irks some people (although have never had any direct comment). But either I'd post eighteen one and a half paragraph long posts in one day (which given how hard it can be to find the first line...), or I'd have to stick to one subject and my brain has never functioned like that. Give me a crossword clue and I'll be impervious to idea that the verb in it might be a noun, give me a lateral thinking test and all I'll think is that "this is stupid" (or that the answers are either silly or cheating). But give me an idea, and you'll find yourself struggling with rampant inflation, and multiple concepts twisting through one another like a fishing net made by a spider on caffeine.

And look at that as an example: four paragraphs on the art of saying too much. Basically, I know I shouldn't, but I do. Heck, if heroin addicts can use that defence, why can't I?

Reverting back to somewhere a few paragraphs ago, to using this blog as a diary. It's quite bizarre. I've never really kept a retrospective diary before, usually mine consist in large part of the word "do" and that ever-present, and ever-helpful, entry which is often found lurking on Fridays and consists solely of "5.30". Who? What? When? Where?

I'm not sure if it's a good thing to realise when asked about my whereabouts in sometime in March (not in a I'll get X to provide my alibi for me. I'll say we both watched whichever film which was on that night, but which got cancelled at the last minute because a small town in America really did get overrun with poisonous South American spiders, only we didn't know that when we looked at the pre-published television listings for the night way) that the easiest way to find out is to search my Blogger account. Unfortunately it wasn't really a suitable option at that time, so I had to rely on my enigmatic diary.

So apart from providing back-up for my life, another advantage of blogging is that I use I more. It's odd, but I suppose it's a mix of having had any notion of a people having been drummed out of me to allow optimum it was done when writing up experiments, and never quite thinking I'm important enough. When I wasn't writing of things having been decanted, everything else became verb object. Nothing could ever be subjective.

Going back to the original point, which was InAcFa's complimentary email (thoughts on first reading it: What a charming man. I wonder if he was drunk). The same email, whilst discussing the problems of communication (the Huh? factor), also mentioned the difficulties encountered when quoting Stephen Fry in a pub in Germany. There's nothing quite like discussing the similarities betwixt us, and how often we fail to communicate with others, and then promptly one bewilders the other with comments comparing Pelagians and gnostics [he reuses the material here, but he did say he was going to do that in the email].

I'm sorry, but early Catholic splits aren't really my thing (according to the Great God Google, it's all a matter of what the default state of humans is: Pelagians say good, gnostic say bad and goodness has to be learnt). As for the title given to the Saint Ignatius picture, I have no idea where 7 years fits in (and even though it doesn't matter it's annoying me).

Whilst doing this I've also just noticed he's posted something else which sends me reeling for the reference books once again. Hindi? I have to Babelfish half the German, and so how can I hope to understand something where I'm not sure which end to start at? In case you haven't noticed, I'm one of those people who's never quite sure if Aloo is potato or cauliflower. Saag is spinach, I think, but I'm hopeless beyond sticking with biriyani, if only to avoid the "does it come with rice" question. I never managed to figure out the difference between samosas and sambusas (I think it's simply that the latter is the Swahili name).

But now I'm wondering if there's anywhere which sells dried mango powder this side of Hamburg (spot whose German geography isn't quite up to par. I know Hamburg is near the coast, so it must be west of quite a lot of Germany, but I'm not sure whether it's west of InAcFa's corner, but I can never remember which is his corner anyway). And what's special about chapati flour?

Basically, this is all the long way round of saying I made the mistake of thinking about it, and now can't do it. So blogging's just like parking then?

Anyway, I'd better stop, as the first line has somehow sparked off in my head part of a song, which has been going round ever since. The bit I can remember runs: What do you want from me, it's not how it used to be, you've taken my life away, ruining everything. Not really the best thing to have stuck in one's head, unless I'm being a little Freudian about blogging.


PS. MS Word strikes again. There is no such word as Reithian (or biriyani, samosa or sambusa) although it knows Raytheon. Why are the makers of small grey boxes (which beep helplessly at me) more important than Mr BBC? Googling to check the spelling not only points out that I may have an extra i in biriyani (but that's how I pronounce it), but helpfully asks, when I enter samosa "Did you mean salsa". Well, you have to give it points for knowing it's spicy food (unless there's a samosa dance).

PPS. MS Word also apparently autocorrects chapati to chapatti. And the respective prevalence in Google? 97.2 kghits to18.7 kghits, or 5.2:1. Go fig.

PPPS. I probably should have replied to the email before writing this. Oh well. I'll do it at some point Mr InAcFa, but I'm disappearing off for the weekend at the mo.

"St Ignatius Loyola" and "the first 7 years" - I believe the connection you're looking for is "the Jesuits"

Anyhoo, I'm sure that no matter how much you try, you wouldn't alter your style anyway - leave it as it is and be amused by what people who search google find from your images... As for for the mail being complimentary and me being charming - well, it was posted at 4 o'clock in the afternoon, so, your guess at lack of sobriety being the cause is probably spot. Don't remember myself.

I've been unreliably informed that the Hindi does indeed run 5prime to 3' and means "How do you say that in English?". I wouldn't be prepared to bet on it though and don't worry, I only tend to use one Hindi phrase per year in the blog, your French is way better than mine and Latin was just too long ago (why Latin is the first foreign language one learns at school I have no idea, chronological order perhaps)?

On a side note, I strongly suspect that "went to a grammar school which desperately wanted to be posh and was in the North of England", is why I switch between saying "one studied Latin" and "you do that, if you want to live". The fact that Germans use a singular pronoun has probably helped re-introduce "one" into my English. But when one gets off the plane in Manchester on Friday night, one must be careful to avoid its usage or risk being labelled a "stuck-up twat who needs a good kicking". Isn't it amazing how such a phrase can remain firmly implanted in your mind even years later?

Oh and the Amchoor (I really never have seen it written as "dried mango powder"), I bought it in Streatham, or Mitcham or Croydon (no, Croydon was the place with the big shopping area which I didn't enjoy), Sutton maybe? West of Hamburg anyway. And Hamburg is about 800km away from me (to the north).

Hope you had a splendid / reet grand weekend.....
[Polite smile, head slightly inclined to one side, as I nod in agreement, thus indicating I still have no idea what you're talking about when it comes to St Iggy].

You betrunken at 4 o'clock? Never.

Actually I was joking when I suggested that - it was simply a method for laughing off the compliment.

5 prime to 3': So very nearly went over my head. Took me a while to remember where primes come in, and even then I'm not sure which way round is which. But genes and stuff (tech term that) tends to have been done the English default of L-R, U-D, so 1, 2, 3, etc. must run L-R, so 5'-3' is R-L. Maybe.

Look, the relevant textbook is buried behind another layer of books. And it was last opened a while ago.

Um, is this the point where I mention that Latin was an after-school activity? I did a year of it, never did any work, and got through [did rather well in] the final exam by working it out from English and French (figuring if it's in both...).
Stilus sui materera mea.

Yes, I have just realised I can't remember what to do with the "of [hers]" bit. Is a stick female?

Oneness is a bit of an oddity. But if I don't use it then I find myself using you when I mean I, and then need to use you but can't because it's already you, me and everyone else.

Powders of the 'Hams and 'Dons: Um, my knowledge of round there doesn't really get beyond knowing that Croydon is the big paving slab next to London, it's where the face-lifts come from, and it's not very nice.

800km? What's that in miles? Not that that would help - my concept of distance is flexible to say the least. Hence nearly missing turnings when driving at the weekend as I couldn't have got there yet.
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