old blogger posts

I'll never be clean

by Suw on May 7, 2003

Ah, you can trust a truly shitty day to drive you back to the comfort and warmth of the internet. I guess once an addict, always an addict.
I just stuck ‘why blog’ into Google and it came up with William Gibson’s blog, notable because only today did I see Gibson’s name mentioned in Neil Gaiman’s blog. I’d never heard of Gibson before (oh, mea culpa, I’m so uninformed), so I was tempted enough by this coincidence to check it out. It makes good reading. I think his blog might even become a daily destination for me.
I also found Joho the blog, which endeared itself to me immediately upon the discovery of this passage, actually quoted from Jonathan Peterson. (I can’t find the exact words myself, but they are allegedly in there somewhere.)

[there are] tremendous isolationist pressures on individuals, anything that can lessen those pressures by enabling real, emotional, human, re-connection will thrive.

Hey, now I don’t feel so bad about running back to Sweet Addy at the first sign of stress.

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Cold turkey

by Suw on May 5, 2003

My head is a seething morass of thoughts today, each one writhing against the next like a ball of herring desperately trying to escape the tuna fish herding them up to the surface of the sea to ensure that each and every one becomes lunch.
I’m going cold turkey. That’s it. My addiction (or should that be, addyction) to Sweet Addy and MSN has got way too out of hand, and I appear to be absolutely incapable of simply cutting back. It’s like that idea that you can quit smoking or drinking by ‘just cutting down’ – it’s all very well in theory but in practice it’s very difficult to draw the line between ‘enough’ and ‘too much’.
So it is with my pals online – there’s no such thing as a ‘quick chat’ online. I have been known in recent days to have MSN conversations that have gone on for six or eight hours. Admittedly MSN chats tend to be a lot slower than normal ones – we probably could have said the same in half an hour on the phone. But I can touch type, which means that the limiting factor in the speed of the conversation is the typing speed of the other party. If they type slowly, then I can pretend to myself that I’m getting work done in between my contributions. If they type as fast as I do, then that pretence becomes less and less believable.
I’ve been online since 1994, one way or another. I remember when Yahoo chat was full of adults discussing books and literature, rather than 13 year olds pretending to cyber. I remember when a 28k connection seemed to be going like shit off a stick. I remember when web sites never had graphics.
I’ve used the internet for communication, research, work and fun for eight or nine years. I’ve depended on it for work for the last five. But this is the worst my addiction has become, because only now is it interfering with my life in a negative way (i.e. I’m playing online when I should be working). The internet has variously been my mentor, my saviour and my reliable ol’ mate throughout that time, but now it’s really doing my head in.
Faced with this question now, of whether I really am an internet addict, I did what any sensible person would do. I went to Google and searched for information. (Strike one…)
This means that I’m not in bed when told myself I would be (strike two…), and that my intention to get an early night so that I could get an early morning so that I can catch up on all the things that I should have done today but didn’t do because I was too busy chatting to my Australian friends has really bitten the dust. (Strike two-and-a-half…)
It’s clear that the internet is not addictive in the way that, say, heroin is addictive. If it is addictive, then it’s a behavioural addiction, not physiological, but many psychologists just don’t believe it’s real at all. But if in fact addicts “use the Internet excessively as a medium to fuel other addictions… The Internet is just the place where they engage in their behaviour” (Griffths, 2000), then what the hell am I addicted to? Talking?
Actually, that’s not so far from the truth really. I’m a compulsive communicator. I’m afraid that I have the confessional gene, and talking is something I’m rather well known for in the real world. Or should I say, talking too much. But you know, that’s not my fault – if you’d been brought up with my Mum you’d also have learnt that the only way to say everything you needed to say is to not draw breath between paragraphs. And never pause. A pause in our household was always fatal.
It’s a miracle that I ever learnt to punctuate.
However, much of the stuff on internet addiction that I’ve been reading whilst writing this blog seems to be somewhat concerned with cybering, rather than taking an overall look at how excessive internet usage affects people’s lives. Yet there’s a lot more to internet usage than cybering.
And this brings me onto a tangential bugbear that I can’t let pass.
What is wrong with the good old fashioned epistolary relationship, as was once common, facilitated by email and MSN? Huh? Not every friendship or relationship formed online is fake, shallow and lacking in merit. I met a couple of my very dear friends online and our relationships offline are no different to the ones we have online. I also know many couples who have met online and are living perfectly well together offline.
Yet so many people who have no experience of what could tongue-twistingly be called an e-epistolary relationship will immediately dismiss them as ‘unreal’, as if the internet itself is in some way fake. It’s not. There are real people out there, and they are no more likely to be a mad axe murderer than any guy who’s ever chatted me up in a pub. In fact, I would rather get to know someone slowly over a number of months via the internet than get utterly shitfaced in some skanky London bar and hope that my judgement’s not so clouded that I’ll have to gnaw my own arm off in the morning in order to effect an escape. (Don’t laugh. I’m typing one-handed right now, you know.)
Anyway, back to the point. Internet addiction. I’m not going to list the various signs and signals listed on the sites I’ve looked at, nor am I going to link to them, mainly because I happen to tick ‘yes’ to a rather scary proportion of them. (Secrecy regarding online activities? Strike two-and-three-quarters…)
But I have concluded that I’m not actually addicted. Not really. I just need a break and to concentrate on the important things in life, like making sure my business flourishes. (Or at least goes out with a flourish, if nothing else…)
Denial? Strike three! You’re out!

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The City, here I come!

by Suw on May 2, 2003

I would like to know if anyone’s got a formula for calculating the Doppler shift on fast receding deadlines. I’m pretty sure that there must be one, as you can hear that kinda funny pitch-shifting whining sound they make as they go past.
Equally, there must be a formula for the apparent speed with which holidays fail to approach.
Yesterday, I booked a return ticket to San Francisco (a place that I frequently have difficulty spelling) for July. Now, the momentousness of this event is something which I don’t think many people reading this will be able to appreciate. This isn’t just a holiday. This isn’t just an opportunity to go to new places, meet up with new people and generally have a spiffing good time. This isn’t just a chance to get away from the dreariness of Reading, or for two weeks to put aside my stresses and worries about my beautiful business.
No.
This is much, much more important than that.
This is my first holiday, my first actual leaving the country holiday involving fun and relaxing and sunshine and generally having a good time, for some 13 years. Yup. Thirteen. Count ‘em. Last time I went a-gallivanting was in 1990 when I spent a deliriously fabulous nine months in Australia, delighting in the discovery that one could earn money and then actually spend it!!
When I was up at the Groucho Club in March for the St David’s Day SWS party, I was accused by a complete stranger of being a workaholic, a charge I hotly (but somewhat ineffectively) denied. However, in having to defend myself against these charges I was forced to examine exactly why I haven’t been on holiday for 13 years. I mean, it’s not like my nose has been chained to its inner grindstone for all that time.
Strictly speaking, I actually have had holidays, i.e. I’ve had time off work. (When I’ve had that kind of work, that is. Being self-unemployed as I have been for the last six years does not really lend itself to holidays, just periods of inactivity and brokeness followed by flurries of work and the paying off of the credit cards you lived off when you were broke. My life has been one constant cashflow crisis – I haven’t had any, and it hasn’t.) I just seem to have spent that time off either faffing about my house/flat/small cardboard box, or going back to Dorset and putting in kitchens. Or bathrooms. Or windows.
I suppose I could easily have just booked myself a holiday, but I’ve always found other things to spend my money on. New computers. New guitars. New amps. More new guitars. Another new amp…
I see pattern emerging there.
Thing is, it’s not like I’m exactly flush with cash right now. In fact, I’m contemplating flogging some of the spare guitars and amps that I have littered around the place as they do nothing bit sit about and gather dust. Two of the basses I can’t play because they’re too heavy – the Precision and the Aria. The Hohner acoustic I can’t play because it’s right-handed and I play left-handed these days. The Bass State B65 I no longer use as I don’t play in a band any more and, frankly, I can’t see myself playing in a band again any time soon. So I may as well flog them and, given the state of my bank account, the sooner the better.
Anyway, so yes, holidays. And the speed with which they fail to approach. I remember that only a week ago, my holiday was 82 days away. Now it’s… :consults calendar: 75 days away. Yet it doesn’t appear to be appreciably closer. I mean, a whole week went past and nothing happened.
It’s like standing on the platform at Reading station waiting for the next fast to London, and you can see the headlights in the distance, but you stand and stare and stand and stare and they don’t get any bigger and so you stand and stare for a bit longer.
Then they tell you that there’s a signal failure outside the station and that you’ll have to wait at least another half an hour, and you realise that the reason that the train never got any bigger was because it was stopped.
I hope I don’t have that problem with my holiday. With any luck, it will be just like those spanky new Virgin trains. You can hear the track singing with anticipation, making that whispery metallic whipping sound as the train gets closer and you look up and suddenly what was only moments ago a little red speck in the distance is pulling in at the platform in front of you, ready to whisk you off to somewhere new and exciting.
Or Crewe.
Hopefully, though, my holiday will have a bit more legroom.

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Organica

by Suw on May 2, 2003

Here's that Organica page that wasn't working the other day. I notice that neither Organica nor Ecosystems are 100% accurate, though. I actually have four links into this blog, not three. And when you're talking about such small numbers, a difference of one is important!

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Ha ha ha!! Fame at last!

by Suw on May 1, 2003

I've just had a bit of an influx of emails after PopBitch included the CMC swearing in Welsh cheat sheet in its weekly email. If you get it, scroll right down to the very, very bottom to find:

Still bored?
Learn how to swear in Welsh:
http://www.clwbmalucachu.co.uk/cheat/cheat_swearing.htm

Fame! Fame at last! Ffycin ffantastig! Ah, I feel like all these years of effort and slogging away over a hot dictionary are finally paying off.
Hmm… spose I better subscribe to PopBitch now really, hadn't I?

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I never was good at networking

by Suw on April 30, 2003

Whilst looking for something completely different the other night, I came across a couple of sites that provide link stats for blogs. Ecosystems gives lists of the links out of and into Choc’n’Vodka, but picks up only the menu links. Organica (which today fails to work, hence no link) on the other hand appears to be a bit more comprehensive, picking up all the links in all of the archives for its outgoing list.
Whilst the concept of knowing who has linked to me is great, the reality of it is a bit pathetic really. Both links into Choc’n’Vodka are from people I know – so it seems I shall remain an undiscovered blogging phenomenon for a while yet.
Whilst shuffling though the bevvie of links that those two sites threw up, I also found BlogStreet Visual Neighbourhood, which basically finds blogs it thinks are similar to yours and lays them out in a sort of mindmap. A lot of the blogs were obvious – Bratiaith and Rwdls Nwdls, for example, I already know about and link to, if only cos they’re Welsh. But I did find #!/user/bin/girl and, via that, Things My Girlfriend and I Have Argued About, both of which were amusing diversions from this afternoon’s tasks at hand.
One thing I would like to know, though, is how many people read this blog. I know some of my friends do, because occasionally I’ll start some witty and erudite comment only for them to say ‘Yes, I read that on your blog’. So far so good – the people I’m writing for are reading and that makes me a happy bunny.
But I have suspected for sometime that the number of people who actually read blogs is considerably less the number of people writing them. Come on, we’ve all gone to Weblogs.com or somesuch, just to check if we’re on the list, but how many of those blogs do we actually read? Well I’m way too busy simultaneously carrying out three conversations on MSN, slapping scores of witty ripostes up on Sweet Addy in order to keep my postcount healthy, and replying to emails to do any work, let alone read any blogs.
My suspicion that blog readers are few and far between seemed to be confirmed when I was skimming this article on The Register. Although it’s actually about the Googlewashing of the phrase ‘secondary superpower’ (no, I didn’t know about Googlewashing either, but I’ll take The Register’s word for it), one bit stood out:

Pew Research Center's latest research says the number of Internet users who look at blogs is “so small that it is not possible to draw statistically meaningful conclusions about who uses blogs.”

Further exploration of Pew Research Center’s latest research fails to throw up an actual figure for the number of blog users, other than “4% of online Americans report going to blogs for information and opinions”. A quick bit of maths based on PRC’s assertion that there are 116 million Americans online indicates 4.6 million Americans ‘use’ blogs (there’s no distinction made between reading and writing).
This leaves me wondering. 4.6 million blog users in American alone isn’t exactly a small number of people, no matter how statistically insignificant it might be in the grand scheme of things. So does this mean that there are 4.6 million blogs in America? (Cue: sudden and unexplained Kim Wilde flashback.) Maybe I’m wrong in my assumption that no one reads blogs. Maybe that’s just me. After all, I’m too lazy to learn the word for ‘lazy’ in Welsh.
Anyway, this leaves me at the end here trying to figure out what on earth my point was in all that. I think it’s got something to do with the words ‘million’ and ‘two’ and the disparity between them. Come on guys, link to me!

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Where are we? Oh yes, Tuesday. That’s right. I’m all kinda thrown because Sunday, usually a day of surreptitious shopping and pretending to be working, miraculously turned into a day of rest. Yes, that’s right, sitting down somewhere that was not in front of a computer.
By the time Fflwff had dragged me out of bed, the electricity had gone off, and it didn’t come back again until 7pm. Initially, I was at a loss. What would I do? I’d have a nice shower… Oh no, can’t. Um, OK, bath instead. Then I thought I’d kill some time until I could get on the internet by doing something constructive, like ironing. Oh, wait, that’s out too. Well, I really do need to dyson the flat… OK, starting to see a pattern here.
I must admit, I had started to feel a bit twitchy by lunchtime, and actually ended up leaving the house and going to Tescos, where they had electricity but no internet. I had hoped that this masterstroke of timekilling strategy would end with me returning home, laden with goodies, only to find the electricity back and my computer ready and waiting to go online.
It didn’t.
So I faffed.
I rang people I haven’t spoken to in years.
I rang people I’d spoken to last week.
I rediscovered the lost art of reading, devouring most of the New Scientist in one hit. (It lands on my mat every Thursday, and I never have time to read it all. Plus I have several months worth of Scientific American still untouched by human hands).
I fed the cat. Several times. I played with the cat. I let the cat out. I let the cat back in again.
I stared at the heaps of paperwork on my desk and contemplated sorting them out, but found that particular activity quite easy to resist.
I opened the front door and wandered round the garden, killing approximately 28 seconds. (It’s a small garden.)
I flicked through the guide book to South Australia that I bought on Saturday.
I kicked myself for going into town to buy a guide book to South Australia on Saturday instead working because I had assumed I could do it on Sunday.
I kept thinking, oh, well, spare time, I’ll just put the TV on…
The silence was positively deafening.
Obviously I wasn’t the only one faffing, as mid-afternoon, two fire engines came screaming into the close, only to park up and sit bemusedly for five minutes before screaming off into the far distance again. I suspect little Johnny downstream was bored and thought that calling 999 would be a fun jape.
Then… suddenly and without warning, the lounge light came on at about 6.30pm and scared the bejeesus out of me. I’m not quite sure about the mechanism for that – how can something you’re expecting to happen any minute still make you jump? I get that with phone calls, when you ring someone up and they do the ‘Oh, I’ll call you back in a moment’ thing and you put the phone down and a few moments later they ring back and I leap out of my chair like some evil dead zombie dripping blood and gore has just materialised in front of me.
Um, anyway, yes, the lights came back on. And then went off again. And came back on again… For about 10 minutes. I think someone was trying to communicate something really very important in Morse, but unfortunately the only Morse I have is the beebs and bips at the beginning of Barrington Pheloung’s Inspector Morse theme tune, which I could sing to you but not translate.
I prefer to think that it was Douglas Adams telling me that he was right about 42, and forget about the towels.
The thing that surprised me though, apart from the sudden brightness, was how noisy my house is. My cordless phone was bleating like an orphaned lamb, the microwave tooted, the fridge and freezer started humming, the thermostat was clicking like an old granny going for the World Speed Knitting record and the video started whirring like, well a whirry thing.
I think I preferred it when it was quiet.
So, I had my internet and email back, the thing I’d been craving all day, the thing whose absence had caused me jitters and chronic withdrawal anxiety, and guess what? No emails. No private messages. And sweet fanny adams in terms of anything interesting online whatsoever. All that waiting for precisely nothing.
When they launch the Twelve Steps for Internet Dependency, I’m gonna be there. But don't worry. I'll blog about it.

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It's just one of those weeks

by Suw on April 25, 2003

These are some of the first coherent thoughts to form in my head all day which don’t involve the phrases ‘but it hurts’ or ‘am I going to throw up?’. I spent most of the morning holding my head on with one hand as my migraine blossomed. I’m lucky, I only get them about once or twice a year and usually they don’t involve pain and vomiting – they’re what are called ‘aura only’ migraines, i.e. I just go blind for an hour or so, and then it all clears up and goes away.
Today, for some reason, my migraine started in my right eye (usually it’s my left) and then the pain kinda roved across my face like a tribe of nomads, then up over the left-hand part of my head which I had to then cling on to in order to prevent it from dropping off. I never can figure out why I have to do this, but every time I get a bad headache, I just have to clutch at my head like a crone going after a rat.
After several hours of laying a-bed and not vomiting (quite an achievement, I felt), I finally managed to get one of my icepacks and apply it appropriately.
Which always begs the question – which part of the body is it, exactly, for which these icepacks are designed? They’re long, they’re flat and they don’t bend well. I can’t speak for anyone else, but I’m mainly built of curves – flat planes are few and far between on me, especially in the head/neck/shoulder area to which these ice pack are usually applied.
Why not make these things curvy and flexible? In fact, why not make them head-shaped or scarf-ishly bendable? That way I would be saved from a) having to wrap the icepack in a thin towel (ok, a teatowel) in order to tie it round my neck or b) trying to sit bolt upright and balancing the thing on my head. To make them as hats, or scarves, would be much more user friendly.
My other quibble is the ignorance of certain doctors as regards the medical issues surrounding migraines. One in ten people get migraines. That’s 10% of the population. That’s six million people, for any doctors reading this who are too stupid to add up.
That’s a lot of people.
Last November I had a rough weekend which featured two migraines and the arrival of a new symptom for me – my skin went numb. Naturally, not being then as well read about migraines as I am now, I decided it would be wise to get it checked out as it’s not every day I lose feeling in my skin. I was struck, however, by the total absence of knowledge displayed by my supposedly well informed doctor. Our conversation went something like:
“I had two migraines over the weekend.”
“Huh.”
“Well, I don’t normally get two together.”
“Huh.”
“They were just aura migraines though, but now I can’t feel my face properly.”
“Huh?”
“Or my arms, or my legs. Or, in fact, any bit of me.”
“Huh.”
“Although there is a sort of strange tingliness to the numbness.”
“Huh.”
“So…”
“Well, if it doesn’t clear up in a week, come back to me.”
And this is what I pay my taxes for? So some jumped-up arrogant jerk can patronise me and fob me off with some pointless platitude in order to cover up her own ignorance? I mean, it’s not like I’m expecting her to wave a magic wand and cure me, but a bit of info would be nice. Instead, I went home and looked it up on the internet, which is what I should have done in the first place, and found out that such symptoms can occur, and are relatively normal and will in fact go away eventually (5 days in my case).
The quack could have told me that though, but she didn’t know. Hell, from the expression on her face it was perfectly clear she had no idea what ‘aura’ was either (that’s the visual disturbances you get as a migraine starts – the flashing lights etc. that essentially stop you seeing a damn thing).
But I do believe that everyone, especially that particular doctor, should have at least one storming migraine, so that they can understand what they are like and how crippling they can be. I would dearly like for her to have one like my first, when I was sixteen. One that involves going almost completely blind, not being able to see your hand in front of your face, not being able to walk through your house because you keep bumping into things that you can’t see. One that involves vomiting chocolate cake down the stairs in a somewhat unpleasant waterfall (vomitfall?), retching so hard that your eyes go black with the prickling bruises of broken blood vessels. One that involves curling up foetally under the duvet in a blacked-out room, unable to cry with pain because there’s too much of it, but able, just, to whimper plaintively “Bring me some painkillers.”
To which I would, of course, reply: “Huh?”
Anyway, that shagged my whole day really. So tomorrow is catch-up day. It would be nice to have a good clean start – put this whole week behind me. Not that nice things haven’t happened this week – I have had a few particularly pleasant experiences such as a phone call to Australia that I shall be grinning about for weeks to come yet. But it has been a frustrating week full of not really getting down to work in any serious manner, not really making the progress I would have liked to have made considering the amount of work to be done.
So I think I might redesignate today the official end of the week, which means that Saturday is now essentially Monday so if I work tomorrow I’ll have Tuesday off which will be Sunday and then next weekend start with Saturday on Thursday unfortunately meaning that I will need Monday and Tuesday off on Saturday and Sunday so I can have the weekend free to go to Dorset.
Makes perfect sense to me.

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Sock Monkeys (200 out of 1,863)

by Suw on April 24, 2003

I got side-tracked this evening. I was going to write a long and impressive rant about why I despise the reprehensible stealth tax that is the national lottery. Instead, I'm going to bring you Sock Monkeys (200 out of 1,863) (via Neil Gaiman's blog. Again. See, I don't have time to surf much these days!), and leave it pretty much at that I think. Maybe tomorrow…

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A morning too early

by Suw on April 23, 2003

I've just realised that I've been sitting at this computer solidly for twelve hours now. No wonder I feel like seven shades of shite.
I really don't know what came over me this morning, but at 5.50am I woke up. Not in that 'ooh, I'll just turn over and go back to sleep’ way, but in that kind of over-alert, over-awake way where after a few minutes of trying to get back to sleep you realise the futility of it all, and just get up. You know how it is, when the sunlight’s seeped through your skull and your pineal gland is screaming for breakfast.
So I got up and did 45 mins of Pilates which resulted in a strained muscle (that’s good! I wasn’t aware I had any!) and a feeling of virtuousness that lasted till, oh, as soon as I turned MSN on at about 12.30.
Anyway, I was surfing by 6.45am, and working by 7.45am. And I’m really not sure why…
Now then… where's that canopic jar?

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I'd've posted this last night if the computer had let me

April 19, 2003

Well, my work ethic has come back to haunt me. Here I am, sitting in my parents’ lounge, looking out on a gloriously sunny spring afternoon, with a heap of work to do (despite the fact that it’s a bank holiday and frankly I shouldn’t be doing anything) but absolutely no inclination to do it [...]

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New Improved Sucky Haiku Post

April 16, 2003

oh dear it seems that this haiku thing is catching oh, five seven five sweet addyct am i i talked crap all afternoon both there and on chat the fiery sun sets but i must apply myself always catching up

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Happy Birthday to me!

April 15, 2003

Ever tried writing in Welsh after nothing more than half a panini for lunch and far too many Pimms? It gets really tricky after a while. My ‘rhag ofn’s were getting all confused with my ‘rhagor’s. Or maybe it’s just me. Feck, that’s what my translator is for, to fix my typos. Still, today has [...]

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time for a quick rant, er, I mean blog?

April 14, 2003

Today has been one of those days. I woke at 12.45am with this amazingly loud ringing in my left ear, as if a tuning fork had suddenly materialised in my Eustachian tube. Two hours of laying there trying to back to sleep later and I figured out that I may as well get up and [...]

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Not a truer word said

April 14, 2003

Paul Carr on the demise of Salon.com, from The Guardian Online: “I feel really sorry for anyone trying to raise funds to launch a subscription-based website in the current climate – it would be easier to get funding for a new pan-European fashion retail brand led by two Swedish ex-models.” Hah. Don't I know it. [...]

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