Monthly Archives: May 2010

Colonialism Fail

We’re a bunch of arrogant twits, really.

Still, at least we’re not Welsh, eh, eh? Cue some kind of sheep-based humour.

Ha ha.

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Geeks & Nerds

So XKCD’s current strip is on the difference between Geeks and Nerds. According to XKCD you’re a geek if you’re specifically into something – so you can be a music geek, a baseball geek, a maths geek, etc.; nerds are ‘(often awkward) science, math or computer geeks’.

I don’t agree. I think you’re a nerd if your interest in one specific thing (preferably something nerdy, but then everything at an obsessive level is nerdy, perhaps?) is verging on the all-consuming; you’re a geek if, well, it’s hard to explain, but I think it’s about being intelligent and interested in a number of things to a level which surpasses decent small-talk with your grandmother – you know, she’d never understand whatever you told her about your degree or your new computer or the films you like watching. Your degree subject only counts if you talk about it a lot when you’re not talking about actual work you’re doing or have to get done. So A is a geek because he’s always telling me to read this or read that or about some philosophical thing he’s studying and he’s obviously mainly interested in those things; my housemates, two of whom study politics, never talk about that when they’re not ‘on the job’ and only talk about drunken gossip and so on.

Perhaps it’s about being comfortable with your intelligence and intellectual curiosity and thinking that getting engaged with something interesting and out of the ordinary and not just about what’s for tea or who’s sleeping with whom* is an acceptable way of having a conversation. I think it is. But then, I’m a geek.

What do you think? Also, are you automatically a geek if you keep a blog?

*Not that these things aren’t fascinating. I love gossip, clothes, scandal, stupid humour and what’s-in-the-fridge as much as the next person. But then, you knew that.

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Filed under Blogging, Books, Happenings, Internet, Life, Relationships, Society, Thoughts, University

Mad World

There are some strange things out there. That doesn’t mean all Christians are strange. But I think this is pretty strange, and this is even stranger, and if you need a good giggle, or just to raise your eye-brows in mild shock and consternation, or just the excuse to stop reading about mast cells, Major Histocompatibility Complex proteins, anything with weird greek letters in, or your packing list (yeah, you think your day was bad?), well, click on those links. You’ll get the idea pretty quickly.

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Procrastinatory Bloggy Challenge

I’m going to do this, the idea hit me from nowhere though it’s not massively original, and it’s the kind of thing that puts a smile on my face so here it is: Write a list of 25 things that you like. Each item on the list must be precisely one word.

  1. Grieg
  2. Piano
  3. Kingsolver
  4. Chocolate
  5. Armatrading
  6. Nickelback
  7. Walking
  8. Views
  9. Sunbathing
  10. Organisation
  11. Drawing
  12. Badminton
  13. Swimming
  14. Tents
  15. Cookery
  16. Beer
  17. Shopping
  18. Redecoration
  19. Polwart
  20. Shooglenifty
  21. Lakeman
  22. Independence
  23. Poetry
  24. Family
  25. Work

To clarify – weird words are surnames of authors, composers or artists. Unless you’re a bit illiterate.

I sort of wish I’d said ‘fifty things’ now. That list took me no time at all and there are so many things I missed out, like bad TV shows, the T2 crossword, ice cream, cathedrals, evensong, birdsong, botany, and, of course, your mum. Carnally (sometimes I’m just so witty I amaze myself).

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So Today I Need Reminding Of All The Good Stuff

I could bitch about all manner of things right now I’m sure if I tried, and because I’m in such a bad mood, instead, for my benefit rather than yours, you’re going to get a list of good things:

  1. I’m not dead.
  2. I have a rather nice tan.
  3. I don’t have skin cancer yet.
  4. I’m not utterly terrible at the violin.
  5. I have a beautiful new jacket.
  6. The heatwave was lovely although I could do with more of it.
  7. My exam isn’t tomorrow.
  8. I have the best work experience ever (never mind that I haven’t otherwise planned anything for the summer, I’ll just assume it’ll consist of pubs and the odd barbecue and hopefully a festival or two and in fact my 21st birthday).
  9. I’m not actually panicking about my 21st yet which is definitely a good thing. I’ve even formulated a vague plan or two.
  10. I live on a planet where there are such things as hammocks, which is good, even if I don’t actually own one. I will.
  11. I like both being busy and bitching about how busy I am and currently I am doing quite a lot of both.
  12. I have plans. Evil, wonderful plans. Involving madrigals and cake and probably a salmon.
  13. I still haven’t found the time for this week’s Doctor Who, which means that I still have that treat left to come.
  14. Apparently the entirety of Whose Line Is It Anyway is on 4od. I’ve never watched it but if my sister thinks it’s funny she’s probably right. Not thatI’ll ever get time to watch it, but hey. It has to be cheerier than Ashes to Ashes, right? Although that was pretty brilliant.

Hey, look, I thought I was going to struggle to reach ten. And there. Fourteen, easy.

Yeah, you’re right. Testicles.

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Procrastinating Rather Than Sleeping? Fail.

Oh post-scheduler, you save my life once again.

Anyway. Procrastinating found me this quiz. It shows you the percentage of votes one way or the other for each individual question rather than giving you a breakdown at the end, so look out.

Basically I am apparently abnormally naked. There is nothing I will not do, or have not done, whilst naked – with the exception of cooking. Somehow that seems to me just a bit weird. Also I’m convinced I would scald my stomach or get hot fat spat at me or something, somehow. So logistically it’s stupid and it would feel very odd. But skinny dipping, sunbathing, night swimming, sleeping, check check check check. I enjoy and will happily do all of those things, at least, on my own or in the presence of similarly-minded friends. I will get naked in the pool changing rooms, which are communal, without a qualm, though there are cubicles if you want them but the floor is wetter in there because they’re nearer the showers and they’re dark and I’m too blind when I take off my glasses.

Don’t go thinking I wander round naked all the time. I don’t. I just don’t have a problem with it.

Apparently I will happily talk about me being naked on my blog. Oops. Whilst I’m at it, I’ll also tell you about my new stockings…

(jokes. I have no stockings. I have no idea how to wear them without looking like a goth, or one of those people who thinks vintage clothing is for actively recreating a sort of 1950s-fakery-arcadia, or a prostitute or something and I am none of those things. It’s a shame because I think they’re kind of sexy but they’re probably a nightmare to take off in a seductive (or at least not actively off-putting) fashion especially if like me you’re about as dexterous as a mentally challenged goat).

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If You Feel Like Getting A Bit Angry Today…

…read this. It’s by Janet Street Porter so it’s no surprise that it’s paragraph upon paragraph of utterly insulting, uninformed, discriminatory, ignorant and errant nonsense.

The point is though that she should not be able to get away with publishing an article like that. I mean, would she be allowed to write an article saying that, say, homosexuality was a myth? Or that it wasn’t possible to be transgendered and people should just get on with being whatever gender their body appears to be? Doesn’t just reading those last two sentences just make your toes curl with how utterly offensive that would be? So therefore how come she can publish an article in which she completely rubbishes depression?

So, what you’re going to do next is you’re going to complain to the Press Complaints Commission using their handy form, which you can find by clicking the ‘making a complaint’ box. They ask you to read a couple of things first, they don’t take long to skim and it’s worth doing, it’ll take you a couple of minutes, no more.

There’s also a Facebook group here where you might find more information on what action ends up being taken if any. Please just don’t think, ‘oh it’s Janet Street Porter it’s bound to be awful, end of’. Because yes. It’s JSP. It’s bound to be awful. But it doesn’t need to be so horrifically offensive or so freakishly delusional.

Mental illness is real. You don’t need me to tell you that, though I have, time and time again. Ask any person on the street if they know or have ever encountered someone with depression, and the vast majority will (if they’re being honest), say yes. It’s another one of those ‘my best friend is black’ things: a lot of people might think that depression is something people say they have in order to get out of doing the washing up, as we say in my family (long story), except in the case of ‘my best friend so-and-so, she really had it’. Well, so do an awful lot of other people. No-one would choose to sit around in bed staring at the wall if they didn’t have to. No-one would give themselves that label, that stigma, if it weren’t true. And it is a label and a stigma and don’t tell me it isn’t. Talk about glass ceilings.

Anyway, please write to the PCC. This is important, folks. Seriously.

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Filed under Cloudlife, Internet, Life, Society, Women, Work, World

Distorted Perception

So, for some reason, I just looked on facebook through a large number of photos of me. I don’t know why. It didn’t take long. Anyway.

Looking through some series of photos I remember when they were taken that I actually felt really ugly at the time. I remember looking at those photos not long after they were taken and not being able to see anything but how fat my arms were or how large my forehead looks or something.

Looking back at them now I can see that certain haircuts were a bad plan and I should never dye my hair ever again, I can see that I need to try and avoid weighing more than a certain amount, and indeed less than a certain amount too, I can see why that top or that dress was a really bad choice  – but I don’t see someone who is ten times uglier than anyone around her. I see a pretty average 16/17/18/19-year-old girl with good friends, in woods and gardens and pubs and clubs and houses with a whole range of people, acquaintances, friends, and actually what I do remember about the days in those photos, by and large, is, oh, that was a great day, this or that was really funny, that’s when I met so-and-so. And those photos just make me smile, perhaps a little wistfully, for times past and people lost, but by and large just happily.

Anyway, who does make good decisions about what to wear or how to cut or colour their hair when they’re sixteen? I didn’t get it it that badly wrong. It’s nice to konw that when these photos are all in albums and my kids discover them in the loft one day, they won’t think that Mummy was a total freak.

And one day I’ll tell them all the really funny stories. One day, when they’ve hopefully got a few funny anecdotes to tell back.

What do you see in your photo albums?

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Fun Update: I Haven't Been Around Much Because I…

…am secretly a rabid sun-worshipper. Seriously, the moment it gets warm enough to theoretically be outside naked, happily, I’ll be out there in as little clothing as I can decently get away with to sunbathe in the garden.

For years I’ve pretended that I don’t really like or approve of sunbathing, because I’m meant to be all grown-up and think that it’s preferable to not be too tanned in case you risk looking a bit Tangoed or at the very least like the kind of girl who thinks a good holiday involves a lot of cocktails, a cheap hotel, and a slightly anonymous lobstery-Brit-lad-filled tropical island. And also, more importantly, skin cancer, no thanks. And actually I’m the kind of girl who likes holidays to places that she remembers for their culture and scenery and actually I quite like summer holidays in a tent in Scotland, which is good, because quite often that’s what we end up doing.

So yeah. I don’t approve of sunbathing, at least in theory, and I also don’t approve of fake tan, sunbeds, or even, really, moisturiser with a bit of tanner in it. But actually the latter is all I have, since I’m not at home, and actually, I end up using it after I burn every year, because the pink of my burnt skin, plus the tango shade of the self tanner, plus the fact that burn turns to tan on me anyway, means that I wake up a perfectly natural brown colour. Hopefully. Although I tend to claim I grabbed the bottle ‘by mistake’ because I really am that blind (no, I really am, it’s perfectly possible, it just hasn’t happened yet). So yes. I love sunbathing, it’s all warm and dozy and comfortable and a great way to sleep off lunch, I like having a bit of a tan, I mean, goodness knows I need anything to make my thighs look less like birch tree trunks, and yes, sometimes I help it along a bit with tanning moisturiser as scrounged from medicine cabinets in relative’s bathrooms countrywide.

And yes – whilst the weather is like this, I would rather spend the time I have not revising either in the sun with a book or asleep (with an alarm – I really don’t want to go more than a little red), or visiting my Gran and learning poetry with her.

So no, this blog has been a bit sparse lately. My life is nice and quiet. For once I have nothing to complain about, nothing to comment on, nothing much to say. I hope you’re all enjoying the sunshine too. And the lovely warm light evenings and the cider and beer and all the other trappings of a summer in the sun. Here’s hoping this one’s better than the previous few…!

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Second Life

I always kind of assumed that when I was a bit older or something I’d get bored of large swathes of the internet. That I’d use Facebook and email to stay in touch with people but other than that, well, nothing. That I’d stop writing a blog, I’d stop going on MSN and talking to people there, I’d stop reading webcomics or other peoples’ blogs.

I still kind of believe that. There’s a bit of me that thinks there’s something a bit weird about, say, married people who blog – about baby’s first word or that funny thing that happened on the way to the supermarket or their in-laws hilariously outdated and dodgy political views or whatever – that I blog because I’m single, I spend a lot of my time on my own working in my own little bubble and so this is an easy and itneresting way of reaching out to the rest of hte world without having to leave my desk. Even now part of me thinks this is a little bit sad, somehow. That I ought to be outside at the pub or drinking coffee with friends – except that I spend a significant chunk of my time doing those things already, it’s not as if I’m lonely, so that can’t be why I do this. It’s not as if I don’t have massively interesting and informed debates with my friends over coffee and tea and ale in the real world, either, it’s not as if I haven’t subjected them all, severally, to the rantwhinebitchwhingebrainsplurge on the subject of my education, miseducation, or otherwise, just for a recent example, more than once.

I do also assume that somehow once I am ‘an adult’ I will somehow no longer have the time for this virtual world. But it’s not as if I’m not incredibly busy at the moment, either, and it’s not as if keeping a blog requires huge amounts of time or thought – words just flow from brain to fingers and I write them, it’s as simple as that, it’s only irritating that I type so fast that my hands get slightly out of sync and the letters get in the wrong order sometimes (I hope you’ve all got as used to ‘becuase’ as I have, because it’s there to stay and I’m sorry), or my other favourite, my brain goes completely doo-lally and we go in for phonetic typing such that ‘in sync’ becomes ‘in sink’ and ‘there’ ‘their’ and ‘they’re’ are simply confused because they all sound the same so surely (thanks, Brain) it doesn’t matter.

So. I’m unlikely to run out of the time to have a blog. And you all know me, I’m unlikely to run out of things to say. And, not to boast, I’m not likely to run out of readers. And it’s my primary means of contact with some friends and although those friendships (if that’s what you can yet call them) are gradually moving into emails and even, tentatively, real life, we don’t always have the time for five paragraphs of intense social commentary in an email when you can write a comment just to say, hello, hope you’re OK. So what is going to happen? When will this stop? Does it stop?

And what about Skype and MSN? It’s on in the background, I’m usually on ‘appear offline’, I haven’t had an online conversation with anyone for weeks, actually, a few people have attempted to catch me, I’ve tried to say hello to one or two people in the rare moments that I have the time and am not doing something more useful or more relaxing, but, ships in the night. But sometimes it is useful. When you don’t want to phone because it’s expensive or late at night or you’re also trying to hang up your laundry or whatever. When you just want to quickly organise something with a group of people. When you want to stay in touch with home friends and you’re at uni – I think that’s its main use for me. And, shamefully, those conversations you start having which are very lighthearted and backgroundy and you’re working at the same time but then gradually you get all deep and serious and late night and emotions come crawling out of the woodwork and actually those are conversations that perhaps you’d never dare have face to face because that’s just scary and will I be any better at talking about my feelings when I really am a grown-up? I doubt it. Not, actually, that I’m all that bad at it, when it comes to it. Bite the bullet, say what you’re really thinking, no-one needs a screen to hide behind except that equally you’ve made me blush, or I really don’t want you to see/hear me crying and thank god if we’re on MSN I can be far more matter-of-fact and nonchalant. Don’t tell me that you don’t sometimes prefer it like that.

I think my dad feels that it’s kind of sad that we all still use these forms of communication that we were desperately attached to when we were fifteen. But I think our use of them has evolved. Who still has song lyrics for their MSN name, or uses some ridiculously unreadable font and a billion animated emoticons? I can’t imagine still having conversations over the internet in real time when I’m fifty. But equally, it’s somehow quite useful, and I can’t see why or when it’s going to stop. I think the internet has changed our lives and the course of our lives to come more than we can quite imagine.

But I really, really don’t want to be a fifty-year-old blogger with an MSN account and a webcam. I want to check emails once a day, and otherwise, read a book, phone a friend, watch telly. Possibly have facebook. Check the news online sometimes from work during a tea break. That’s enough internet. No more internet. But really, what would be wrong with occasionally skypeing my sister, say, or putting pictures up on this blog of the kitchen units I just built, (YES I will build them myself, I got all inspired by my neighbour’s handbuilt, home-made kitchen and now I want to try) or writing about my thoughts on the new Green PM or the end of oil or whatever.

Oh, future, you weird and scary thing.

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