Sunday, April 30, 2006

Greece 2 600 - 36Just don't.

You know when you want to stab an anonymous flatmate, but end up cutting your finger washing up instead? Well, firstly there's the little problem which led to the following message masking-taped to the bathroom door:

To whom it may concern:

Either learn to piss straight or learn to clean up after yourself.

Yep, I'm getting somewhat annoyed by the twice daily delight of having to wipe someone's stale urine off the loo seat. And by the smell of it, they're not getting enough water and may have kidneys damaged by high blood pressure, or just eat way too much protein (which sort of suggests it's the Peruvian, who eats only fried steaks with Frankfurters as cristini).

Anyway, a short while after I resorted to note-leaving (doesn't it just irritate you so much that you want to do the opposite? And isn't it fabulous when you stay in some regrettably not Godforsaken B&B (maybe it is Godforsaken, but the owners can't take a hint), which comes with 3M's heaven of notes, if only they hadn't used laminated, cliparted computer printouts in Comic Sans [the purple ink of the font world, if that isn't claimed by Mistral]? The type of place which has guidance and warnings for every conceivable possibility, although in some cases one wonders why it was conceived, and just how it was. Who, in the history of one nameless B&B, managed to urinate so fast that the vibration made the downpipe leak? I don't know, but I commend them for inducing the owner to include a notice on urinating with excessive speed. And just what is excessive? How much variation in flow rates occurs? Within one individual? Across the population? Is it sex linked? Age linked? Are there cultural impacts?. All this because some VOC fresh, dry-flowered, doilied hellhole has dodgy plumbing).

Getting back to a different kind of hellhole (one that has a magic fairy who cleans the bathroom, empties the bin, takes the rubbish out, changes lightbulbs, answers the door and wonders just why one flatmate apparently needs to shower seven times a day. He can't be obsessive compulsive because the food splattered across the kitchen floor doesn't turn him into a gibbering wreck; instead he just treads in it and walks it round until the whole floor's sticky. I hate being the clean one in the flat, especially as my grime and mess tolerance levels are worryingly high). A few hours after I left instructions on the loo door (I originally intended there to be three options, but I realised suggesting that Mr Pisspoor might want to lift the seat would only result in continued accretion of urine salts on the front of the loo (this is why I hate being the clean one. Isn't many months worth of unknown people's dusty urine just the nicest thing to clean?). Oh yeah, completing that last sentence amendment appeared, scrawled in red biro:

I don't pee while standing.

Well good for you.

Actually small confession. Neither do I normally. Hence having to wipe the seat every time. It's part of being a perfectionist (yes I know, but I'm a perfectionist without patience, so I'll hate myself for being bad, but not put the time in to be good. Basically I just start by hating myself and I find that saves on the whole process), so while I can control most of the process, including the necessary spasm at the end, I haven't the foggiest where the first bit will go; usually two directions at once if it feels like impressing. So I've never been confident in terms of urinal aim, which just becomes self-reinforcing; I avoid it because I'm bad at it, I'm bad because I avoid it. I don't even do it (ok, try not to) when in need in the wilderness (read half a mile away from a village, which is about as wildernessed as it gets in this country), although that maybe just the tales (true, I was close by when it happened) of the guy who relieved himself into a sparse hedge, which was supplemented by an electric fence. I've held one of those (we had one at school. I was put there to stop us feeding the horses in the neighbouring field. Instead it just made waiting to bat in rounders more interesting when we weren't feeding the horses) and while I can imagine some pain round there might be enjoyable, that might be a little bit too much.

And was that comment a little bit too much? Sod it, I'm tired, worried and annoyed. Thank God (or Sainsbury's) that salmon can be microwaved in 2.5 minutes. I was busy, I came in, turned the oven on, so turn the control two notches to the right, turn the thermostat up (I don't know who keeps putting it on zero, but then I still maltreat it because it gives me Celsius not Gas Mark, so everything gets cooked at just below 200; it's amazing what three months of thermostatless oven cooking, plus a childhood of scout campfire cooking, will do for thermodiligence), realise the fan isn't on and so turn it on at the wall. It starts chucking out the contents somewhere at mid thigh level (I don't get why it's efficient for an oven to pump out heated air into the room; I strongly suspect part of it is missing). Put water on for the rice. Start washing up for I have something to eat off (yes, the rice pan had previously been used for pasta, but it was dry, which is nearly clean, and anyway, starch is starch). Realise the potential conflict that will occur as I'm washing up in the sink, using the plug (as my washing up bowl still has purloined cement-like North London soil in it), which might make draining difficult or washing up a bit dirtier than it was when it went in.

Get salmon out of now defrosted pack, stick in foil with a chopped tomato and two spring onions, seal cocoon, place in oven, which claims to be up to temperature for once. Continue washing up between putting the rice in (rinse it? But it's going in water anyway), decanting the now cooked rice water to a different saucepan, using that to cook the spring greens (well it says steam, so a glug of starch soup is sort of the same), which were another reduced-therefore-buy, rather buy-because-need purchase, and one which was more successful than the Jerusalem artichokes (what does one do with them?) which are still attempting their escape, but that's probably because I know what to do with them; cook a la cabbage, so hack about a bit, then cook until not quite cooked.

Decant the Exorcist vomit into a third saucepan (also pre-dirtied) and leave to steep and form polysaccharide continents. Get salmon out... oh. There's no blast of hot air whumping into my face. There's, I'll just take the oven glove off, no heat. Er. But the fan's on. And thermostat's on the right level. And, oh, the turn-the-oven-on dial was on the setting diametrically opposite the only useful one. Because as we know, it's very important to be able to illuminate and ventilate one's oven independently. After all, one may want to read in there on a warm night. And because it's a stunning piece of ergonomic, fully rotational design, the knob looks exactly the same if you rotate it 180 degrees.

And I thought the knobs on the microwave, which you can only operate if you have fingernails, were bad (yes, this is my microwave, or more technically one of the spare family microwaves, my parents having bought both sets of grandparents them, only to have them return after different amounts of time, as was probably a bit predictable. The bought my mother's mother's one first, which could calculate the exact amount of power and time needed to defrost a turkey provided you could navigate the menu past pressing 1 for feathered and 2 for plucked. I was the youngest in that family, and I couldn't make the thing work, except when it did then wouldn't stop, so the rest of them had no hope. So when it became time for my father's parents, they made sure they found the nearest to my parent's old Bejam thing [Bejam's became Iceland the shop and they used to sell domestic electrical things], which is so simple it's dark brown. So they found the only model with two dials; one for time, the other for power, and nothing else (even the Bejam thing came with a start button [long before Windows maligned those words] and one to open the door), and think they've done well. The only comment we got back was that my grandfather wasn't used to it, so didn't use it much. He didn't quite get round to mentioning that he couldn't turn the dials, and that the grip designed gives a rounded ledge about 3 mm deep to hold, and both opposing ledges are about 5mm from the central axis, which combined with the resistance of the dial, means that to turn the thing you need more torque than is in British Museum's room of bronze age jewellery. The only way you can shift it is by hooking the end of a fingernail against the slightly raised marker on the edge of the knob. I've no idea why it's so badly designed; presumably someone thought a miniscule white plastic marker on a white plastic background wouldn't disturb the yin and yang swirls of the knobs. And has anyone else made a microwave or cooker with knobs and dials which look like a clock used to teach children to tell the time? One you can control with one finger? If not, why the hell not? If it takes good eyesight and dextrous hands to use, it's not really a mass market product is it? Actually they probably don't care, because can you imagine Curry's reaction if you brought something back because you can't physically use it? This is quite long for a passing comment).

Oh hell, it's far too late I haven't done things I want to do nor those I need to do.

Oh, and thinking of hell, could someone bomb Abbey [nee National] for me? Bloody close at half-past four not open on at weekends nor on Bank Holiday places. Guess who only discovered this at four twenty-five on Friday when the automatic doors failed to be quite as automatic as I'd like. Still one shouldn't rely on banks (or institutions previously known as building societies) to be able to do anything with numbers, even if it is only tell the time. And yes, woman who gave me a disapproving look from safe within three layers of glass, I was saying "bugger" repeatedly.

By the way, if you do choose to annihilate them, could you wait till I've taken my money out. It'll be Tuesday at the earliest, if I have time, plus allow 14 days for the cheque to clear (I could pay to transfer it quicker, but why the hell should I? And B, despite there being no mention of an A, it takes about the same time as a cheque).

Anyway, beds beckons (well, just lies there looking crumpled), so I'd better finish, so I can be up at the crack of dawn, only to realise how miserable getting up for dawn is on Mayday if you're only doing it to do work, rather than fling yourself off a bridge, although bridge-flinging sounds quite tempting at the moment, but it won't be the Cherwell (knowing me I'd probably land on a Cory's Enviromental barge).


Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Greece 4 600 - 24Can you tell where it is yet? Google have apparently noticed Europe (and you have to love the way the road to Moscow is the only one shown in Belarus. Hands up if you can even find Minsk on the satellite images). So why does Poland get maps but the other EU newbies (estlatlith) not?

Oooh, and the oracle of Google is so powerful it can show the future. Although strangely it calls them The Virgin Islands, rather than the US Virgin Islands (and why is it USVI, not AVI? Is St Thomas's really a state capital?*)

* Look at me causally name dropping, even though I don't think the main town on St Thomas's is called St Thomas. But I was only there fleetingly; long enough for the guys from America World Police to order everyone off the plane (and gesturing with machine guns, that's a great touch; especially when the plane's full of people English who still shy away from the armed police outside Downing Street), inform us to be "cognescent of the water" (or "mind the puddle" in English), made us queue up to go through passport control. Got arsey because there were too many of us to fit in the room they put us all in, got arsey because English people haven't quite got used to the idea that a queue must start 8 ft from the thing we're queueing for (unless it's cashpoint in London), and because couples would insist on walking up together. It was really surprising how worried they were, as if the man in deck shoes is suddenly going to make a break for it and kill them all with a smuggled tiller extension. Especially if you bear in mind the plane stopped there at the bidding of the Americans, and they must do this repeatedly each week. So after much queueing, and alternating fridge and oven rooms, plus being stared at so an age by some Baywatch reject security guy, who flung my passport belatedly down the counter with a "n'err", and then barked at the woman behind me who assumed this meant I had finished, and so started forward. I had apparently finished but it was bit hard to tell (Not even a "Have a nice day"; he can't have been a proper American). And then back out, past the cognesicised water and back onto the plane, wondering what the three people sitting down did to get exempted. Yeah, I've been to the US Virgin Islands. Great fun was had by all.

Er, I've sort of forgotten where this is going, and why it was going. But I also had problems figuring out whether "sought" was the wrong word in that context. Can you tell I discovered (once again) how many different shades of dawn there are, while not having time to look at it? Isn't it great when computers dissolve into a heap of hefty, yet unusable .tmp files? And I think I've only had one and seven-eighths of an apple since yesterday. Oh and some Weetabix, with a delish two-thirds water milk mix (I ran out of milk. My flatmates obviously haven't been drinking their huge thing which hogs half the fridge. Maybe they gave it up for Lent).

That reminds I ought to go and cook, but I can't think of what to have. What goes with quiche and cabbage and won't involve reaching into the cupboard with the unfound potato, which has been eluding me for some time (although it's a great way to lose weight; maybe every McDonalds meal ought to come with a dieters-only sachet containing the stench of rotten potatoes). Which reminds, but I can't quite remember it; my brother's girlfriend, being Scottish gave him some Finnish Sweets, which were not only called "Liquorice Wine Gums"*, but which contained, amongst other

* I've had elderberry, elderflower and gooseberry (you know what gooseberries taste like when they overripen and start to rot? Now add a dash of a sweaty man who's wet himself, and the merest soupcon of oven cleaner. I think the fact it survived undrunk all night when surrounded by a group of exuberant 20-somethings probably is indicative), but I've never had liquorice wine. Do they do a liquorice liquor? Anyway, they weren't exactly wine gums, but I still haven't forgiven Rowntree's or whoever it is for stopping making sweets with things like "PORT" emblazoned on the side (what were the others?). And I'm sure someone will now disprove me, and point out that actually I must have been eating fruit gums instead (which are like fruit pastilles, only you know the way some toffee is reputed to take out fillings? Well, fruit gums can be used to build the replacement).

Sorry, got distracted by the random lumps in my mouth (wine gums, gum grinding, teething, wisdom teeth, not being able to remember which have come through, discovering odd bony lumps slightly inside and to the rear of my upper back teeth). Anyway, the not-wine wine gums contain some delightful ingredient like ammonium cyanate (I know that probably has the wrong number of electrons, but I don't care), which we couldn't quite figure out why it was in there (ok, thing that sounds like it's deadly is probably a preservative, for the same reason prepacked cooked meat always smells like it's gone off when first opened. It's all LD50 stuff).

Car on balconyAnd while on bizarrely Scandinavian (yes, I know Finland isn't, but I don't know what it is) things, I saw the thing on the right as one of the randoms shots on Flickr.

So far I've figured that there was a forklift truck involved, but I have no idea about the rest of it. The car on it's own is odd enough.

Except now I feel like a certain American who talked about these odd little cars which he saw everywhere in London. Do you mean Smarts? Those mock-50s figaro things? Well, what then? ... Oh, you mean taxis?

Hmm, for some reason holding my mouse over the word "forklift" brings up a "Play in Real Player" message.

And does anyone know why I've written "Fauxpub" here?

Because I don't. It's like that scrawled message I found on a bit of paper today:
"I'd much rather have NA" Jeremy Clarkson.

Again, the logic eludes me.

Oh, actually I think I've just got the NA. Except that doesn't make much sense (ok, it does, but it's not worth pondering. Anyway, I sure there was an erudite blog post to be born of it, I just can't remember how now).

And of course, MOCKBA.

Another cartoquirk: The single road through Serbia and Montenegro, and Macedonia (note, not FYR) to something long and theta-ish which I take to be Athens (or possibly Thessalonika). Which in Google's head is linked directly to Istanbul (where the world ends). But then there aren't that many other roads in Greece, according to the map. But there are islands, and names were once there were none. Oddly the islands tend to have Greek versions of the names in Roman characters (e.g. Ithaki, not Ithaca; Lefkada, not Lefkas, Kefallinia, not Cephalonia [or any of the other variants], Kerkira, not Corfu), but the towns are in Cyrillic. Yet Crete the island is in Cyrillic. Such a dichotomy seems odd. But then Google Maps is a little strange (go to where you live, zoom out a bit, wonder why a small village gets equal footing with a fairly major town, and other towns are unnamed).

No such dichotomy when one reaches Japan (having discovered very little in between). Which means I can't even find Tokyo. I'd never noticed before the colour coding used on the roads. In the UK the major roads match the government reinforced standards (blue>green>orange>yellow>white). Yet in France (and much of Europe) the classification varies; just look at the density.



Saturday, April 22, 2006

2006-04-15 085Huzzah!

Ignore any vaguely miserable bits in the following; it was written pre-Firefox-prompted-illegal-operation. So after clicking "save as draft" and having everything hang (and what's it say about the systems people use that that there is a difference between crashing and hanging? Although having just checked it's actually a semi-hang; I can wiggle the mouse to my heart's content, but nothing responds), I was a bit upset, until on the third reboot I got through to Blogger and found the post had survived. Now all I need to do is figure out where the Valkyries were up to.

Ok, I've had enough of adultdom. I'm tired, I'm bored, I'm worried, I'm sitting inside on a very sunny day, feeling unfit, both underfed and overweight, looking forward to a glorious Saturday of more work and to top it all I'm listening to Wagner.

The last point is because Radio 3 did the whole Ring Cycle (think Lord of the Rings: less hobbitses) on Easter Monday, and the streaming thingy gets cut off on Monday, and I'd never heard it before. And I'm only mid-Walküre (and it's got less shrieking women in it than I thought. But if only radio came with subtitles; I can't understand opera singers when they sing in English, and can only occasionally tell Brunhilde isn't Italian). Of course, sticking on music I can only listen to on this computer does cunningly tie me to it and the room, stopping me from wandering off to explore unnecessary places or just popping out for a couple of hours to buy cards.

In the latter case it might have helped if I'd gone by tube not bus, and remembered which bus goes where and then not taken a little walk round Pall Mall, Green Park, St James's Park, Horseguards', a garden I never knew existed downstream of the MOD, across and down the southbank until I got to Tower Bridge, where I pondered the view east, through the fretful murk (well, it would be a fret if the buildings of London didn't generate and divert so much wind), wondering why I scarcely know any of it.

I also happened to notice that they have tours inside the thing, plus a photography competition (chances of winning that: not good. Chances of winning with a broken lens: well unless they think it's artistic...), and the the BT tower doesn't quite align with gap down the middle (how inconsiderate are some people?), although the pale hint of the corroded needle did seem terribly far away. It's also quite odd how much of what one thinks is quintessential London, isn't actually visible from the boundary of Roman London. How long before the slink means central London is in Richmond?

But having been back to the wilds (Wildes more like) over Easter, and been amazed by the variety of colour trees, and I just meant the twigs (here the trees come in black and yellow; yellow means they've been digging up the road upwind), the number and diversity of insects (and the different residues they leave when blinked upon) and the stampede of scents, I was also surprised by the smells of the city in heat (I know that makes it sound like something else, which isn't what I meant; yet given the number of interested looks I've been getting, maybe it should be). There's something about wet masonry warming, rain-doused roads slowly exfoliating, the way even the rust on cars can be smelt. And then there's mug of perfume which consumes the multi-tulipped parks I walked thorough. One may not think of tulips or daffodils smelling (ok, so I know they vaguely do), but plant enough of them under a sheltering mesh of twigs and suddenly the air is thicker the gauntlet zone* of A&N.

* So called because you have to run through it hoping to survive untouched or untainted. And they you discover they've sprayed the hand you put up to refuse. Oh to be American, and claim in a whiny voice that one is "smell sensitive" (memorably said by a guy wearing curiously pungent hair gel that made my eyes feel like I've just walked into a conifer) and so sue them for gross emotional distress, I mean, do I even look like an Old Spicer? Hello? That ain't even i-ronny.

That last bit is probably only funny if you've met this, like, one guy, and he's, like... infectious apparently. Outcast unclean! Black Eyed Peas downright icky!

Oh, a train has stopped outside my window; which as the station is a hundred yards back in the way it's just come... Surely the driver wouldn't forget to stop on what must be the world's slowest, scummiest and largely most boring railway line, would he/she/it?

Anyway, this is a bit of a ramble, just using this blog as a place to rant, to sprawl, to mumble beguilingly and nonsensically away. I ought to feel shamed by this, for not being the accurate, dignified, informative and generally good-me person that I ought to be and occasionally am; yet I'm not really. I'm just sagging back into what this blog used to be, before anyone found it and read it (I know it's scarcely changed, but it's the intentions which count). Partly it's hitting a stage of not caring (although being me it's partly hitting a stage of partly not caring) and partly it's slight embarrassment over the lack of posts; I have been writing them, occasionally, just never quite getting round to finishing them.

But I'd better go and cook, and ponder the joys of spring, which so far have included wandering parks beneath showers of cherry blossom; eavesdropping on numerous inappropriate conversations; trying very hard not to laugh at the woman, on the arm of her boyfriend, who decided to kick a slow moving duck out of the way. The duck flew off, as did her shoe, which narrowly missed the pond; realising the Gherkin will soon vanish behind a tree of dubious parentage (read: I have no idea what it is); discovering that it's light still at 8; and that it took us days to notice the heating is broken (I still haven't found this out for myself, merely been informed), and each of the people in this flat assumed someone else had drained the hot water tank before they got up, so it took three days of progressively cooler showers before we noticed the hot water was out too. And if must be spring if one can take a cold shower and be only slightly blue at the end, having failed to shriek at any point (gasping and other sudden losses of control over one's breathing don't count).


Wednesday, April 19, 2006

2006-04-15 057So much for the "I might be gone some time" post. I suddenly found I didn't have time to post to say I wouldn't have time to post. But one of the reasons I didn't post was because overslept on Good Friday, and so was late for meeting people for the Three Emperors exhibition at the Royal Academy. In true Anyhoo Cultural Write-Up style, it's finished now, so I can only say you should have gone.

But it was very good. After an extortionate lunch (but I wasn't paying), we went in about half-past-one. I lost my brother and my mother in the second room, as I spent ages looking at the scrolls (think Richard Scarry, Where's Wally and Usbourne books, but with kabuki Chinese opera, geishas and ensnared banners, or the Bayeux Tapestry done fastidiously with ink. The best aspect was that despite being and official record and a piece of propaganda, the scenes had flaws and the whole thing was obviously just for show, so fluttering ribbons ensnared each other, fights broke out and all the grand backdrop is held up at the back by bamboo scaffolding). But there are just so many parts of it that I liked, or made me think or allowed me to join the dots (I hadn't realised China was so Japanese [yes, I'm aware it might be vice versa, but it's the similarity which I wasn't expecting]).

So a superb exhibition, as suggested by us leaving at ten-past-seven. Admittedly by that stage I was beginning to muddle my fu's and my shou's (and I never did figure out how one sound can be written 10,000 different ways). But it did allow me to confuse the resident Chinese girl (whose blogname I've forgotten) by asking about five red bats and nine peaches and other bits of The 12 Days of Spring Festival. Homophones apparently, but as I managed to refer to the Manchu emperors as part of the Quing Dynasty (apparently Qing is Ching), my Mandarin isn't quite up to it.

Just been flicking through the official site (there's no mention of it on the RA's own site, even though the Aztecs is still on there). Stuff I want to mention:
- The Jade Mountain. Gorgeous for the rock alone.
- A map showing Lake Victoria along with an accurate representation of the Indian Ocean. I can't remember the date but as the last emperor pre-dated Queen Victoria just a tad, it is a slight "Oh". But what I found odd was that this map was made with help from Jesuits, so one wonders why the information didn't get back to Rome.
- The Chrysanthemum Dishes. The same shape bowl, but down in umpteen different colours, all of which look like something Poole is currently churning out.
- The still-life plate. It had a collection of objects to represent homophones and other visual references, and so spelt out long life, good fortune and general fecundity (that'll be the many-seeded pomegranate), and was designed to congratulate the recipient on passing the civil service exam, as represented by a crab. I can't remember the official reasoning, but according to my brother it's because crabs make people nervous, they're really hard to break into and but they're really nice once you're in. Ok, maybe that's a you-had-to-be-there.
- Deconstructivist calligraphy. Produced by Ming court artists protesting at the transfer of power to the Manchus.
- A really, really simple tea pot. Jade green, but just intentionally pared down design.
- Discovering that all those bits of red plastic Chinese trinketry are actually aping carved lacquer, which looks like red plastic.
Drat. Blogger has lost most of this post. Other salient points:
- Apparently the 10,000-shou vase is written in an archaic seal script (I asked SG how that many characters could mean the same thing). Still doesn't answer how ten thousand characters can all mean the same.
- I went home. I took some photographs of rabbits, and buds, and fences, and boxes, and buoys, and that's about it. I haven't finished titling, tagging or describing, so go and piss me off but commenting before I get to them.
- I'd forgotten how fun driving is (even if my car, which hasn't moved in months, did do an impression of the tardis when I tried to start it. Now I know how the BBC Radiophonic Workshop did it; starter motor and a nearly flat battery).
- I'd forgotten how many different colour trees there are, and that's only based on the colour of the twigs.
- I'd forgotten the smells.
- I'd forgotten the insects.
- I'd forgotten the birds.
- I'd forgotten the noise; birds, insects, church bells, train on the other side of the valley... I've just remembered the best title of any of the exhibits at the 3 Emperors, it was on a small painting: The sound of rain falling on lakes and rivers. I'd forgotten the sound of rain falling on trees, and on pools and rivers.

I'm sure there was other stuff, but I can't remember it now. Oh well.


Thursday, April 13, 2006

2006-04-16 029Yet another dominion of the Googleplex.

I'm not going to pretend I'm doing breaking news here, as the BBC's already done it, and anyway, it's so yesterday.

But Google continue their world domination with the release of Google Calendar. Which is basically like every single other electronic calendar out there, or any diary, but in the case of the latter it has the added bonus of not having to transfer all the birthdays across, and not imbuing that weird vagueness which afflicts every January, because all the diaries cease (unless you've got an academic one).

One thing, ok, maybe two things, I like; it lets you chose MM/DD/YY or DD/MM/YY, which as I invariably see sequences like 4/1/06, 4/2/06, 4/3/06 and wonder why they've taken the 4th of each month... So I have a rule of thumb which is that if anything insists on using the American date format then I won't use it. Which probably explains why I have a physical rather than electronic diary.

So what was the other thing? Every fifth Friday. Ok, so that's not quite possible, but every first and third is, even if they do have to be entered separately (click on the third Friday in a month, click on repeat every month, toggle by day of week). That's one fault I've found; there's no copy and paste, so every birthday has to be entered individually as having no time, being marked as available, repeated every year and with a reminder two days early (why no four days? Have they never heard of second class post? And a week is just long enough to delay and then forget).

Oh, and I like how it lets you chose if Saturday, Sunday or Monday is the first day in a week display. But then it also asks for my timezone, which is GMT+1 now, but for the other half of the year... If it doesn't do British Summer Time/Daylight Savings, then surely all those 10 minute reminders are going to be a bit useless for half the year? I can't believe they've overlooked it, but I haven't found the right checkbox to correct it yet.

I probably ought to be worried about my response to the calendar and my perception of Google. The calendar-cum-organiser in Microsoft is unwanted wanky bloatware; with Google it's a handy add on.

Drat. I was about to get excited about the joy of text, as it can send out reminders via SMS, in TfL stylee (ok, so TfL only do it if it's bad news, and the news is invariably "STATUS ALERT: Nrthrn bggrd"). Except it can't because it's a US only entity, and just like Google Chat or Hotmail's 250 MB inbox* (read the fine print) I'm using it illegally. So I could try entering +447...** and seeing if that works, but I've got to select a network, and they don't have Orange.

*Which of course one needs to soak up all the spam which strangely gets round the spamfilter.
** I really ought to get better at not unthinkingly typing my mobile*** number into something which is public.
*** Handy, cellphone or humming bee-shoe hybrid.

Added later:
I'm not so keen on it anymore. I was busy entering birthdays, and got to July. I have to mark my birthday don't I? Click on the dropdown for repetitions. Click 1 year. The text now reads "Annually on the 25th of July" which is soon followed by the choice of "Ends: Never/Until []". Well, it's not "Ends: Never", so... I don't like this train of thought.

However it does seem like tempting fate to say ends-never. But maybe I'm just saying that having heard that someone else I knew has just died - I'm from a smallish town and news travels. Especially when he was about to be best man at the wedding between the children of two other families I know, and his sister died a few years ago in a helicopter crash. I wonder who the youngest sibling, the one I was in the same year as is coping, while trying desperately not to think that bad things come in threes. And then's there's the vague sense I should do something, while knowing there's nothing I can do. Yet it seems so callous to just ignore it.

But in an effort to elide that subject and those thoughts, should it be "the 25th of July"? I was taught that one wrote "25th July", while one read "the twenty-fifth of July", but am having one of those periods of doubt where nothing is quite certain. Of course Google might have been getting all mediaeval on our arses*, and so chose a slimmed down version of "Tuesday the 25th day of the month of July in the year of our Lord 2006", although this carefully neglects to mention the renaming of the day of the God of War to honour the Norse/Germanic god rather than the Roman god (Tyr/Tiw versus Mars: Tiw'sday vs Mardi).

* Except being Google, they'd only get medi on our arses, as they can do no aeval.

Apparently it's Duke Nukem 3D. It's amazing where curiosity leads.

And spot the snowclone in there; which came first the tiger or the mutant?

And I'm back to liking the Calendar less, as it can't do "Monday after the last weekend in May/August". It's not like I'm asking it to work out Easter here, but it can't even do the first Monday in a month; well it can, provided it happens every month.

Do you think they do an add-on for UK Bank Holidays? As you can import calendars, it shouldn't be that hard. Except we're back to the US-Eng, contiguous-states-only-ism, so I doubt it's going to be forthcoming.

Now that I've crammed enough dates into it, the Agenda view is showing it's true form. September to December are off the bottom of an unscrollable page (December continues on page two). Handy (ok, so it is scrollable, one line per click, with the bottom of the page beyond view).

And I'm not sure if it's this computer, but it does seem a bit slow to do anything.

While I think about it; Neil, where are you? You said you were coming, and you're not here. If you're going to treat me like this, I'll have to rescind my offer of hospitality.

Which gets me to: Never leave a rabbit on a windowsill, item 1 in an occasional series.

Or at least, never leave a chocolate rabbit, given to one because it purportedly looks like one (I hope those are meant to be whiskers not wrinkles), in its mini-greenhouse clear plastic packaging on an east-facing windowsill when the following morning is going to be incredibly bright and sunny. I woke up to a nightmare vision of warped rabbit-dom, like a mix of the druggier parts of Watership Down and Donny Darko, complete with half the head blown away and squishy lumps slumping away from the wound. It was only the divider between the window panes which saved it from being unfranked chocolate money (yes, I know I mean unminted; subconscious DD reference probably).

Anyway, I'd better go and get my washing out, as I've been reduced to Roger Red Pants (3 part set, cheap; what can you do? Other than think of Beautiful South lyrics).


Monday, April 10, 2006

Brighton PierThe only thing worse than a Muzaked Greenselves is...

James Blunt. A tinny, oddly static ridden version of James Blunt. ...riding high-e-i... All our operatives are busy helping other customers. You call will be answered in _ _ 3 minutes _ ...I want to die-e-i...

Thank you Orange. And does anyone find there's something a bit different in Orange's AVR? When I first rang to top up my credit (and ta muchly to my brother for leaving a long rambling message on my voicemail, which killed off my credit before it finished) it wouldn't let me through. It didn't say the system was busy, simply that my call could not be processed at this time.

The next time round it let me in, to join the Blunted upon in the queue of doom. But it takes such an unusual tone. Instead of saying the standard "all our operatives are busy, please hold" followed by endless rounds of "your call is important to us" or "we value your call", Orange use [and this isn't verbatim because I've just met my new flatmate and already I've forgotten his name] something along the lines of "All our operatives are busy helping other people. If you would like to wait until one becomes available, please stay on the line. If you do not wish to hold, please hang up and try again later"

I think the reason it sounds so odd is that it allows for the option that people might not want to hold, and that hanging up and trying again is a valid action. So many automated systems bark endless commands at people in which everyone sits in a queue obeying the system. Please press one. Please enter your four-digit security code followed by the hash key. Please hold while your call is transferred to an operative. Please... Thank you for your call. Please hang up.

But not with Orange. Not only do Orange banish the BT standard "Please hang up", which most systems will bleat endlessly once you reach the end, but Orange use "Thank you for calling. Goodbye" as the connection is terminated. I'd imagine it would be annoying if something went wrong and you ended up there prematurely, but while the system vaguely works, a slightly curt woman hanging up is much better than being instructed to do something which should be instinctive.

So how long do we reckon it'll be before I post another "I've forgotten my four-digit security code yet again"? Will it be before or after I forget my Amazon password and have to invent yet another account due to their astounding ineptitude (just look in the archives; unable to offer password assistance comes up every month).

All this is my way of saying the highlights of the weekend haven't been quite as dazzling as they might.

Thursday was the disk-skipping greatness of Spirited Away (seaweed girl, who is becoming a permanent fixture in my flat here at Pebbledash Towers, although that's probably because if I kick the radiator we could communicate between our respective residences via plumbing Morse). Disk-skipping in that certain chapters of the DVD lead into the beginning of that chapter rather than the next chapter. This was followed by discovery that no map of Shanghai matches any other and despite having lived in Shanghai, seaweed girl can't navigate her way round it (well, not using the satellite images on Google Maps anyway).

Friday was the Tate and non-feeding parentage (how dare they coax me out with the offer of food and then eat before I get there?).

Saturday was the Grand National chez seaweed, followed by the Grand Narration as I try to explain the finer points of the Second World War, the First World War, The Napoleonic Wars, a few illustrative wars going back to 1066, a bit of stuff before then, some Roman stuff, the American War of Independence thrown in just for shits and giggles, the shifting roles of the English Monarchy and Parliamentary system, international monetary systems and economic theories, the role of consumerism as a driver for colonialism and the potential for private companies to govern, the military imposition and protection of trade, the wealth redistribution activities and mechanisms available and used by populaces, the role of xenophobia and isolationism in European cultures and its economic and political impact, the inherent fallibility of soviet collectivism (yep I know that's tautologous) or communism in the face of greed, laziness and jealousy, the demonstration that communism is not a ecologically sustainable strategy if the occurrence of capitalism is permitted, the role of black markets in maintaining the appearance of communism, the effects of fluidity of capital and labour, the relatively recent development of a multitude of individual nation-states, other knowledge cribbed mostly from the same book, oh, and a poor joke about Earl Grey which might have worked better if SG knew what it was.

I've forgotten what she originally asked about, but I have a hunch she didn't need quite so much detail. But cultural stuff is quite had to do with getting into politics, economics and the history of the nation, and once one gets into history, there's just so much of it, and it's nearly all linked. Actually I remember what her first question was about; which is the best Coldplay CD?

After that came the joy of grabbing food rapidly while changing out of deckshoes (one thing at time would probably work better) and then the hurry to the shops before they shut. Which of course means discovering that Morrissons close at 10, but have barricaded the doors early, and Sainsbury's, where we arrive at 10, also shut at ten, have someone paid to stand in the door saying not-today-thank-you. So why do they stay open until midnight on a Monday, but 10 pm on Saturday?

So instead we ended up Tesco's Metro; Small Shop, Big Prices, where I sought out the reductions buried in fridge. Went out to buy bread, milk, vegetables; came back with apples, kiwi fruit and milk. As I walked back with SG munching her way through half a Hovis (why buy half loaves?), I discover the daft girl has only eaten apples all day.

Then back to email various people, including a random pesterer, who quite churlishly admits he has no intention of stalking me (not that I want, or was even suggesting such a thing, but it was a case of "what's he got that I haven't". Apparently the answer is elusiveness. I reply to emails and comments, and er... he's him. But to borrow the CofE slogan, that's ok too. Oh, and Dan, as MQ mentioned it, we weren't saying anything bad about you, merely noting that you're fairly wary of people [based on our huge sample of two]. Basically I still want to know what happened last year to upset you some much, but have never dared to ask in case it reupset you, or made you notice just how nosy I really am [hey, you've seen the nose, so you can't really blame me. I know that makes as much sense as phrenology, but, well...]. I know making someone's ears burn is a bad thing to do, but we weren't saying bad stuff about you, and I was still struggling to figure out how to handle someone who apparently had taken a sudden interest in me and you were common, neutral ground. But I'm not sure why I'm writing this because I don't think you read this anymore, although if I'm being honest [well, prentending to be] I'm probably not trying my hardest to encourage people to return. For a start this should be at least three paragraphs and this post should be many. And I'm still writing inside brackets).

Other random communications include discovering that Hobart is stuck in timewarp (literally apparently), and that the Gujarati for stupid is sal+suitable_vowel and that swearing in Gujarati basically consists of calling things stupid.

Sunday included the joys of going shopping, only to discover Morrissons shut early yet again, followed by a nine-penny bonanza in Sainsbury's, which included free (buy two for a pound, was 69p now 19p, automated discount) hot cross buns. Yep, I went through the self-scan thing just to ensure no self-important matriarchs could overrule me this time. By the way, what does one do with Jerusalem artichokes? A small case of "I've never had them before, and they're cheap, and they do look reassuringly like potatoes".

This was followed by an examination of various CDs purloined by SG from one of her flatmates. They included Crash, a few obscure films, the Hitchhiker's Guide to Galaxy film, a documentary about Israeli actions in the Gaza strip [NTTY], some random Greek stuff, and both series of Fawlty Towers.

So we watched Crash. Some films deserve Oscars, some just win them. Oh wow, racism. Oh look, they're all racist. And watch this really funny bit where the guy who is a rapper in real life slates the current state of hip-hop (which would have been really funny if I'd know this at the time rather than inferring it from the presence Ludacris [a subsidiary of Ludicorp] in the end credits. But as when he was on screen I tended to think "someone ought to tell him he needs to shave" rather than "ooh, he's famous", possibly I'm not quite the target audience). But oh look, they're all brave, noble, compassionate humans in the end. Merry Christmas one and all!

Even the traditional snowy ending was predictably not quite what it seemed, even though we'd already got there (and how can a car produce that much ash? Plastics don't burn like that). But hey, it's really cunning, because the film's called Crash and it's raining ash, so all we need to do know is figure out what the Cr means. Maybe it's missing an -ap.

So a not very in depth look at racism in Los Angeles, and not very entertaining film tacked on the side. About the only thing it did was reawaken an uncomfortable feeling, which resulted from something someone once wrote in the Guardian. It was written by one of the playwrights (I think he's a playwright) who pops up on Newsnight review; Kwame something? Anyway, someone with vaguely African ancestry. He wrote about the ingrained racism demonstrated by people on the Tube. When he, a black man, gets on, people automatically move their bags closer to them, which is apparently a sign of their deep-seated fear of black men.

My initial response to this is "don't be daft". Yeah, people probably do move their bags, but that's either so he has somewhere to sit, or so he doesn't fall over it (or at least stand on it and damage the contents). It is not necessarily a marker of latent racism. Except, now that's someone's written it, and that thought has got into my head, I now have to wonder. The next time a black guy got on the Tube, I moved my bag closer to my feet. I know I did it because otherwise he would have to step on it to get past, but I don't know what he knows. Does he see me as considerate, removing an obstacle of him, or as someone shrinking in fear while girding their loins; the latter actions borne of inner terror of those who are different?

Have you ever tired to function when afflicted with such doubt. If you move the bag you're a racist. If you don't move it you're challenging the guy to accept it or do something about, which is an extremely agressive approach, and if it differs from the reaction a white guy would get, then it's racist. And if you flinch towards the bag, but then leave it, that means you're either trying to hide your racism, or deciding that guy's only black, so he's not worth the effort of moving it. So everything you do is racist. And if you stop carrying a bag, then there's probably someway that can be construed as racist.

Gee, thanks Mr Grauniad, for damning me at every turn.

Oddly, my brother read the same thing, and had exactly the same paralysing reaction. Well done the G. Now instead of a nation of people who might include some racists, you've now got a land of paranoia and some racists. And surely if the writings of one man manage to induce a sense of panic in people whenever they sight a black man, well that's generating racism, isn't it? It's causing people to react differently to someone simply because of the colour of that person's skin. So one short, sloppy article manages to become a tool for promoting what it claims to be against.

And that's what Crash felt like. The suggestion that every woman who entwines herself with her husband is secretly afraid in the presence of a different race will only serve to add doubt to, and thereby manipulate the behaviour of, those most likely to be concerned anyway.

It's that manipulative - and what would it take to make you a racist; are you sure you aren't already? - tone which irritates me. Well done for upsetting the bluerinses, and if upset them or made them think (it doesn't matter what the thoughts are, just that they occur) it must be good, right? Oscaroony.

Watch it for the good-looking men (and I include Ms Bullock in that category), nothing more.

Yeah, so um, instead we nearly watched HHGTTG (or H2G2 - that still going?), but I dug out the Radio 4 original first. Half an hour of that and SG decides maybe she'll do the original first. The other option is the latest Harry Potter, which we skip as we've both only seen the first one. So instead it's onto my DVDs, and the only example of Hugh Grant.

Yep, we watched the film with the worst line in cinematic history - Is it still raining? I hadn't noticed - Four Weddings and Funeral, because apparently it never reached Shanghai. Strangely it was just a tad more enjoyable than Crash, which can't all have been the KST factor.

Although I hadn't seen it for a few years, and had forgotten (maybe never noticed) just how manipulative Carrie really is. But the most interesting part of the film, which wasn't actually in the film, was SG, as the weddings pictures flash up at the end, asking "is he a homosexual?"

Oh boy, has she got a lot to learn. Another not noticed before; the heavy use of how-gay-are-they extras at the funeral. I know it's a rom-com, but does it have to be so blatant?

And now is quite late, so I'd better stop.


Saturday, April 08, 2006

GF7 600 - 18 Barely knownYou know you shouldn't have Skittles for breakfast; Item number 1 in an occasional series.

...when, while making lunch, you fill a saucepan with cold water and before putting it on the stove add Fairy Liquid instead of salt.

Admittedly I had been thinking that I need to do some washing up, as that was the last clean saucepan, although my washing up bowl is currently filled with whatever detritus the Victorians chose to build roads out of.

Which reminds me; anyone know when the Grand National is? Four-ish I think, but after missing the Boat Race I'm trying not to miss this.

You know you shouldn't have Skittles for breakfast; Item number 2 in an occasional series.

...when you recreate the discovery of Smash. Steam filled potatoes dropped onto oven doors end up quite well aerated, and quite well distributed.

And why is Smash made by Cadbury's? Is there a Walls-style* crossover that we should be aware of?

* They make sausages and ice-cream. I wonder how they make it so creamy.

But I think they've stopped making milk out of pigs now, and instead use the ever delightful partially hydrogenated vegetable oil (and if you wanted to be really happy, look up trans fats).

But moving on, and so repeating myself. I went round the Albers and Moholy-Nagy exhibition again last night (first time was with Dan, this time was with parents, so couldn't really say I wanted to go home to watch Green Wing).

The photography is still the best bit, except for the Ladybird style London Underground posters explaining how the doors and escalators work on the Tube (both from the V&A - might have to investigate what else they have), and the naively old fashioned map of air-routes, in which the London to Newfoundland and beyond route is predicted (and in recent days I've managed to find a Northern Line train which displayed the Jubilee Line as ending at Charing Cross and had the DLR terminating by the foot tunnel to Greenwich).

And once again I was struck by how typical some of the design was, and found it very easy to dismiss as of its era, until you realise that era didn't happen for another 20 years. Wars are odd and do odd things.

It took my mother commenting for me to figure out that Nuclear and Nuclear II are actually sequential images (they're mostly abstractions, but it makes sense to view them as during and after. They also have more detail in them than is obvious and than I noticed last time).

Oh and Dan, the random clear perspex dangly thing, in which I could see an elephant, is apparently a woman, Leda, being raped by a Zeus as a swan.

Parents: useful for the remaining clues in the Guardian crossword and Greek myths.

What else did I like?
- The early glass works, which are basically Tiffany meets Mondrian.
- The practical stuff: so font designs, the stuff which verges on advertising, basically anything with beauty and function.
- The slides (the projector was broken last time), taken by Moholy-Nagy, which show the same level of absurdity and interest in the inane as my photographs tend towards.

Other comments:
- Yes, some of it does look like primary-school art, or possibly GCSE art, depending on who you ask (the photograms, and endless plays on negativising lines).
- Yes, some of it does look like the diagrams from a biochemistry textbook.
- Yes, some of it does look like it ought to contain Cassiopeia.

Anyway, there's more on Moholy-Nagy in the Guardian (guess which artist I found more interesting out of the named pair) and on Wikipedia.

I've just discovered that you can see much of the exhibition online. I could even go through all of room 6 repeating the facetious comments I made. Unfortunately, much of this does look like the result of boredom in Geography, or other doodles. See if you can find the regatta.

And that's about it - meaning of course, that there's probably a lot more I could say, but probably shouldn't.


Tuesday, April 04, 2006

2005-07-23 012I really haven't been doing well on the updates, considering I'm supposedly not giving up blogging. So recently...

- I've discovered how easy it is to freak people out by smiling. I was sitting on Tube thinking about various things, when I remembered something which made me smile. I glanced up at the empty seat opposite, then noticing lights, a bit further up until I realised I was grinning inanely and looking directly at a woman who, while looking back at me, also looked absolutely terrified. Ah, the joys of exposed parallel lines (it's where the crossover is, just south of Oxburrow/CT/Call it what you will).

- I've been a bit mean and sent someone on a completely pointless trip to Yellow Knoll (think flower, think Coldplay, think northzoo. And why do I use psuedonyms for places? Probably because if you work out A, and I've already mentioned B, then C isn't that hard, so it isn't really to stop anyone of you lot knowing where I'm talking about [if I wanted to do that, I probably wouldn't have sent you my name, address and phone number], but to stop people I might know from finding this through searching for things like "Dave Gorman in Golders Green" and happening upon my review of DG's gig in GG, and thinking that some of it sounds familiar, and then getting to the "Hang on" stage. And I've never been to see DG and I've only been to GG a couple of times, and that was many years ago. Anyway, it's in dragon-infested zone 3). It was the first of the month, so she should just be grateful I told her that someone had organised wacky races down the side of the hill (memo to self/God: make it snow in London, as PH would make an excellent sledging spot) and that she should go and watch, rather than pinching and punching her. And since when has punch rhymed with month?

Anyway, I was being only semi-evil, as it's got a good view (she took pictures. Fascinating they are), she'd never been (although she ignored the map I sketched which included a prominent and fictitious French fish shop, and managed to use a far longer shortcut), and I did consider sending her to watch the lemmings jumping from the pagoda in Battersea Park, but it's a long hike away, and I wasn't sure if she knew what lemmings were.

Actually I've just realised how much I haven't done. I still haven't done the party. I haven't done Dan (not that I did do Dan, but, er...). There will be posts on these, just as soon as I write/finish them off. But it all got delayed as I was a little bit sleep deprived following a manic week, a party into the not-so small hours of the morning, the clocks stealing an hour, a fairly stressy few days, then helping my brother move, all the while never quite remembering to go to bed when it's still the day I woke up on, despite having a room aligned for optimal early morning light.

So what have I done?
- Eaten seaweed soup (I've done this already haven't I? Oh, maybe in the comments here, or possibly on Az's blog). I probably ought to say "chewed seaweed soup" as that's more accurate. Did you ever wonder how seaweed can survive being walked on without any damage? It was a case of smile meekly and think of Green Wing (soupmaker has television, I don't, therefore soup wins).

Which reminds me that while watching television online is yay-bloody-tastic, it's not when something goes wrong with the connection, so the BBC becomes the B... Communicating [12%]... B... Error.

If I wanted to watch television with that many breaks, I'd watch Five (and I don't mean the everybody-get-up type (Whatever happened to...?)). Trying to watch Nevermind the Buzzcocks last night (so much better without Mark Lamar) and the constant breakdowns meant that usually by the time the punchline of the joke was delivered, I'd figured it out anyway. Next Lines became Next Line, Rest of Verse, Chorus, Another Verse, Chorus, Fadeout, Break for News, Travel and Weather, Words From Our Sponsors, New Song, "sest something" (Charlie Busted-Fightstar's take on "c'est chic").

It would also be nicer if they'd get round a little quicker to putting the rest of their output online. I ought to write in to complain, and demand the money for my television license back. Except I have no television, hence no license, but if I did have a television, I would pay my license fee, so I would be justified in demanding it back. Do you reckon I ought to try anyway, working on the same principle that compels me to idly press the refund button on payphones and drink machines, even when I've put nothing in (sometimes it works)? I might not get it all back, but I wonder what they'd used to palm me off? A ten pound Blue Peter voucher perhaps?

But what would this country be like if the BBC was commercial? Blue Peter vouchers might actually exist. Although so probably would Ballamory insurance services. No more would characters in Eastenders ask for a pint (isn't it strange how they all have their "usual" to avoid saying "I'll have a pint of Generic, please"? Vaguely related: did any company ever start selling Acme Dynamite or similar? Just think of the free advertising). And just think what it would do to the sales of masking and insulation tape as no longer are programmes required to blank out the bit that says Sainsbury's even though it's really obviously still from Sainsbury's.

As I've just very nearly invented the Blue Peter ID card, integrated within the badge, I'd better stop, although here's one for the foil-hatted amongst you; RFID tags within BP badges - explains why the BBC are so agin them being sold on eBay, as suddenly little Timmy from Wimborne Minster shows up in lap-dancing club in Hull.

- I saw Lady Vengeance, a Korean film also known as Sympathy for Lady Vengeance, last Monday at the cheap-for-London Prince of Wales (or maybe Prince Charles) Cinema. The cinema features the unique raking system whereby the middle rows of seats are the lowest, with the front and back higher. But the angles worked so it didn't matter.

The film was quite good, but a bit erratic. It seemed uncertain of its aim, and so would be quite grim for long periods with occasional mismatched bits of comedy. It seemed like it thought it ought to compensate for itself, rather than sticking with one, or a few closely related, tones.

But it was eerily western in parts. I'm not sure if that says more about me, the film, the filmmakers or Korea.

- I watched West Side Story purely because someone else wanted to. It's easy to forget how cringeful it can me. But then I'm probably being foolish enough to expect realism in a film where people habitually break into song.

- I've been shopping. I bought: Which considering I went out for saucepans, a cycle helmet and some new trousers, suggests I'm a bit easily led. And that buying trousers is an arse, not least because I don't like mine. And I always have the wallet problem, in that I can find a pair that sit just right until I put anything in the pocket. Plus there's the whole posture thing: stand as I normally stand, or as I should stand, with gunslinger hips and everything? Does one buy for the normal or the ideal? Life was so much easier when everything came with room to grow.

But as everywhere seemed to be having a "mid season sale" (er, does that mean shift stock before the new financial year?), and I'm a miser to I can't do full price if there's bit of red card anywhere in the shop, and that sales don't tend to have anything in M or 32-32 (cue various instances of me seeing some John Rocha shirt, thinking "that's nice, I wonder if the sleeves fit" before taking it off the rack and noticing there is an awful lot of fabric and the size is XXXL, or a US M) so the only things I found with a 32 inch leg had a 42 inch waist. One has to wonder if it really is worthwhile selling such stock cheaply here; wouldn't it be more profitable to ship anything which hasn't sold to the US? Because the leftovers are always at the larger end of the spectrum, so surely there's a supply and demand thing here?

But that's enough of the rampant fatticism and xenophobia. After all, Bush isn't fat, despite eating pretzels (and how can any one choke on a bent Twiglet which has three big holes in the middle? They look like they were designed to act as pit-props in the throats of asthmatics).

Oh, and a word of warning for the wise, or whatever other cliches you feel suit. Never happen to mention to any females of your acquaintance that you can fit into jeans you wore as a teenager, that you're wearing them now, and that they're a bit big. You know that bit in the Exorcist where they girl transforms into a sprinkler fed with pea-soup? Well...

Which reminds me; summer has arrived (I'm not sure how it reminds me, but hey, you know how my brain works, and while I'm being reminded, I still haven't bought any new trousers, having been a bit bewildered by the endless ripped, torn, scorched, bleached, pre-dirtied, buttock-hugging-handprint-ed and general chemistry-department-end-of-term-party variations on the theme of jean. So if any of you are good with fashion, what should I be looking for? Bear in mind I like subtle and I care enough about details to search through a rack of shirts until I find one where the pattern matches on the seam across the back (well, actually the lines switch textures, but it was the only one where the lines lined up) and that I baulk at the apparently fashionable translucent linen scarves in what the labelled called "coral". Wearing a half-buttoned shirt with the potential for it to be open down to my sternum is about all the louching-it-up that I can take (can one louche up? Louche suggests relax, to sprawl, to be languid [and I've just discovered sanguine doesn't mean what I think it means. I'd never connected it with sanglant], all of which suggests settling, sinking down).

Where was I? Oh yes. Fashion tips please as my last exposure to the fashion press was probably in some bad barbers' many years ago. Normally I'd look around and see who's wearing what, but, well, it's London, so if I did that I'd end up wearing a few nuts and bolts, a lopsided mohican (which would work so well with curly hair), a parka with dog vomit on it, a Burberry sunhat, some petrifyingly pointy shoes, a copper bangle which stains the skin, jeans which suggest the previous owner was eaten by wolves, a shirt which costs more an annual travelcard and a brightly coloured rucksack from a Spanish school.

And having been shopping, I'm now wondering how lightly Dan travels. Because I know his shoes were new, because they hurt (and the whites were shiny, and there's a picture on Flickr), and after H&M I recognised where the bright blue top came from (although I had my suspicions, after seeing it and knowing I'd fleetingly considered something similar but in yellow). And his t-shirt could have been new. So did he forget to pack or was it something special about me which meant I was treated to such a variety of newness? Even if it was £14.99 of newness (said he in the £16.50 jumper).

Anything else? Oh, I've watched Revolver because the flatmate who moved rented it, and, er, it's ok, but if I say Kaiser Durden then I've probably just ruined it for you. It's vaguely entertaining, but as derivative as the right to buy next Tuesday.
Arse. Computer chunter. Firefox fall. No rest of post. So you've missed out on
- Peruvian politics (via neighbour who thought the Nazis invaded England).
- Danish ice cream money.
- Meeting people from university by accident. A null-pointer on the "oh, it's you" scale, as they're both nasty, vindictive, two-faced people (work in property, natch) who I can't stand. Meeting someone I liked while waiting for the ferry to Montserrat still wins.
- The Ode to Hackney's aptly named Mare Street, from the musical East Side Story:
I feel gritty,
Oh so gritty,
I feel gritty and shitty and grey,
And I pity any one who is near here today.

- A review of Hackney Wick including a stupid bugger-off from the security staff at the approach road to the Stratford Not-Yet-International. I also found the Big Breakfast house, and a pair of kestrels, along with many skips.

But it was a bit of a long post, as I thought I had nothing to write about, only did.


PS. I asked a couple of posts back about the unfulfilled potential quote; no takers yet?

Saturday, April 01, 2006

Edit at 12.28 am on Sunday 2nd April (my brother takes a long time to move).

Yes it was.

A bit uninspired maybe, but then it's nearly true, so it would have to be a bit uninspired.

So while I might not be quitting blogging, I equally might not be as prolific as I have been and ought to be.

Of course, having typed the stuff below, some of it seems accurate. Blogging isn't as fun as it used to be. For whatever reason I feel I can't write as expansively as I used to. I'm increasingly aware, and annoyed by, self-censorship, yet can see no way round it. Perhaps I could write different blogs for different subjects, and different levels of investigation, analysis and knowledge. Yet my life doesn't work like that, and my brain doesn't work like that; nothing stays in the box. So not only would I be sunk by fuzzy boundaries, but also I know that split two or three ways, my blogging effort is either going to absorb yet more time, or the frequency of posting on each will be painfully low. Plus I'm never very good at apportioning equal time to equal tasks, so I'll inevitably end up neglecting at least one of the alternatives. So schizophrenic blogging isn't me.

Part of the problem probably is that I'm not a "I am what I am" person. If I try saying that, it perpetually leads to "but what am I?" And that... well we've been here before (maybe - maybe we never left).

Sorry, this is quite long and rambling for a simple "rumours of my demise".

I'm not quitting - yet.


2005-08-31 051I'm taking the badge off my bag

When I met Dan last weekend, at some point I noted that he had a Flickr badge on his bag. He then told me that until recently he had another one there, which read: I love blogging.

Other than not being sure whether it's written "love" or one of those NY [heart] things (by the way, has the copyright run out on that, as it's appearing everywhere suddenly), I initially was concerned that he took it off because he said he'd pretty much given up on blogging, at least on anywhere beyond his proper site. I didn't say much in reply, but felt I should, yet resisted as I'm not sure how berating works with a backdrop of Bauhaus (yes, we went to the thing everyone strangely calls either the Bauhaus thing or the Albers thing; can't think why).

I thought it would wait until I sent him the email thanking him for the day, which of course never quite got sent, until he sent something, which then made it harder to manipulate the content round to telling him to get his arse in gear and start blogging again. And by the time he'd sent it, I hadn't posted anything since before seeing him, and still wasn't sure what to post. I don't have enough good material, and what I do have I have to weed for public consumption, and how on earth does one write about people you know will read it?

So it hit a block. Nothing happened for a week, and then I realised that this keeps happening - not meeting Dan - but posts simply not flowing like they used to. I worry about everything on here being samey. I think that it never used to be; until I read the archives that is.

Maybe it's just the Flickr effect; a little stimulates, a lot stifles. One starts off with no knowledge, gains a little and being interested seeks out the new and so builds. And then the awareness starts to grow and the realisation that I'm simply not like these other people. I cannot bat out thousands of words an hour on all manner of fascinating subjects. My thoughts do not come in soundbites (albeit written). My life is not that interesting. I cannot compete. I cannot do everything. I cannot know everything. I cannot be perfect; and that always gets to me. I'm a perfectionist without quite enough patience. I'm competitive without ambition. I can recognise good, and know that it does not come via me. And I hate getting frustrated, and not even being on the same level as other people leads to inevitable frustration. So either I can get better or I can get out. And, after however many years of doing this, I can't keep playing the newbie card, so better won't happen. Out it is then.

This might not be the complete end of blogging, but it probably is the end of here. For some things I want more anonymity. For some things I want only those I know. Here is a mix; it's a place where the anonymous have become real people, who I can see, and even touch, and yet they still don't know me. They know too much and not enough.

So congratulations Dan. You may be sweet and occasionally charming (and on the other hand occasionally like me). You may have really good eyes (but judging from your Flickr profile image, you knew that already). You may be shorter than you look on television. You may be quite cool and yet endearingly geeky. But you killed my blog, damn you Dan.

So it's off to join the great and illustrious, to cultivate an air of mystery. Be good peeps. Dan stop Irishing and start Deutsching. Az stop trying to grow up; you're already older than you need to be. Neil stop maiming yourself; not even Wilde would have enough synonyms for carelessness or misfortune. And to the rest of my sidebar (most of whom are on hiatus anyway), stop worrying.


This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?