June 2002

Sampras is out

by Suw on June 27, 2002

Well, here we are at another Wimbledon, and isn’t it lucky that it started before the World Cup finished. Now we can all focus our attentions on willing Timothy on to the finals instead of whining about England getting knocked out by favourites Brazil.

That was really starting to get on my nerves, actually. What a bunch of hypocritical tossers people can be – firstly, no one thought England would qualify, then they didn’t think that England could get through the Group of Death, and then we weren’t going to get past Denmark… then when Brazil knock us out suddenly it’s ‘not good enough’, and the team are a ‘failure’. Come on! We should be damn proud that they got so far! The team was a young and (to some extent) inexperienced one, key players were carrying injuries, and Brazil are well known for slaying us at footie. Add to that in inconsistent ref, and Seaman’s horrible fall which really shook both him and the rest of the team and it’s no surprise that we suffered at the hands of Ronaldo and his chums. Of course it’s a disappointment that we got knocked out, but really, there’s no need to slag our lads off. They did better than expected, and all deserve a very big hug. Specially Becks…

Anyway, back to Wimbledon. All those instant footie pundits have now become instant tennis pundits (and yes, I count myself amongst that number!), and I’m sure that all of them were just a tad surprised to see so many of the top seeds knocked out yesterday. And it’s only Wednesday! But I’m quite pleased that Sampras’s out. It’s dull when the same people always win (cf. the World Cup final, and F1), so with Safin, Sampras and Agassi out of the running, who knows what will happen next. Maybe our fair Timothy even has a chance – or Rusedski. Of course, if Tim doesn’t make it, everyone will shake their heads knowingly and say that they never did think he was really capable, and what a disappointment he is. The fact that he’s one of the best players in the world, and that he’s achieved so much in his career will just pass them by. After all, it’s far easier to criticise failure than it is to celebrate partial success. Especially when it’s someone else that you’re criticising.

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by Suw on June 21, 2002


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Motivation – what is that exactly?

by Suw on June 19, 2002

Well, today is turning into a disaster day. Not because anything in particular has gone wrong. Far from it, as nothing much has happened today to go wrong. But today is still a bad day for me. I work for myself, and when I should be working on a grant proposal (involves obtaining large sums of money, therefore very important) I find myself instead sucked in to the world of Heartless Bitches International. Instead of boring the pants of myself by yet again writing letters saying why my project deserves funding, I have instead spent most of today chortling quietly at the rants against Nice Guys (i.e. insecure pricks who blame their crap love life on everyone but the person to blame – themselves – then claim that women don’t like nice guys). If you have something really important to do today, then I recommend visiting HBI just so that I’ll know that I’m not the only one who’s going to hit 5pm with a large feeling of guilt having wasted too much time.

But of course, HBI isn’t the only way I waste my time during this critical grant-application period. Oh no. Blogging is taking over my life. You know how it is – you start off wanting to get one little thing off your chest (or where-ever else you keep it) and you end up an hour later with a 59 page dissertation on the state of the world, your life, and those prats that drive large noisy boats past my house at 6am without turning their fucking engines off. Wankers.

Ok, maybe that last point is just mine, but you get the gist.

But when it’s 6am on a Sunday morning, I really do get the urge to launch some sort of large, pointy missile at the noisy, arrogant, selfish gits. Sadly, the urge to go back to sleep is somewhat more powerful.
And talking of sleep, I did it again last night. I laid there in bed, drifting into that blissfully interesting hypnogogic state, and wrote this whole blog, my grant proposal, and the first two chapters of a would-be best seller chick lit hit. Then I fell properly asleep and the whole lot went. Every last word. So much so that I can’t even remember what it was that I was going to rant about today. Arse.

Right… there’s no footy today, so no excuse. I’ll just have lunch, then pop round to the shops, then I’ll read one more rant on HBI, then I’ll really get right down to work. Honest. No, I will. Promise… Hmm, I do have a few emails to reply to, and then I’ll get back to work. Oh, and last night’s washing up…

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Brainpower and hypnogogic states

by Suw on June 18, 2002

Don’t you always find yourself feeling most creative whilst a) on the loo, b) walking, c) staring out of the bus/car/train window or d) just as you’re dropping off to sleep? By far my most creative time is that period when your head has hit the pillow, your brain is winding down and you slip into that hypnogogic state where you brain is firing off a load of random images in a strange slide show and your imagination works on little minidramas that you repeat over and over and over and over and over… and then you fall asleep and forget the whole damn lot. I hate that. In those moments I create the most perfect conversations/pieces of prose/book opening chapters etc, and it riles me no end that those never-to-be-repeated bursts of creativity be lost forever.

Well, maybe not. New Scientist have just run a story that discusses how existing technology is sufficiently advanced for amputees to run an artificial hand just by brainpower alone. I’d love to give you a link to it, but it’s not on their web site, so you’ll have to go and find the article in the print version – issue 2347, 15 June 2002, p22. Anyway, if researchers continue to refine their techniques for interpreting the complex electrical signals that our brains are contantly emitting, perhaps one day they will be able to create a machine that captures your thoughts, dreams and those perfect pieces of hypnogogic prose. I keep my fingers crossed (but only when not typing).

Meantime, I am in glorious celebration of Korea beating the crap out of the Italians. They deserved it. What a pathetic game the Italians played, doing that ‘oh we’ve got a goal, let’s be really boring and defend for the next 70 minutes’ thing. Of course, this doesn’t mean that I think England wouldn’t totally thrash Korea if it came to that, but we’ve Brazil to deal with first. I’m saying nothing on that. I’m only an instant pundit anyway – just add hot water (or alcohol – the choice of lubricant is yours), a world cup and shake vigourously.

Oh, and one final word… Beam me up Mate! Ok, that was four… but some Australian researchers have managed to teleport a bright beam of light and quite frankly, that impresses me no end. (I was about to say, ‘That impresses the crap out of me’, but somehow that didn’t seem to read quite right.) Anyway, they used the effect of entanglement, which is something that boggle my mind every time I read about it. But I have a problem with all this. Basically, as I read it (and I could be wrong), they destroyed the original beam of light, and the second entangle beam appeared at a different location. Not far away, but nevertheless a significant distance.

Of course, this is only teleporting light – anything of the size of an atom poses a major problem and who knows if they’ll ever actually do that. But if they do, is this really teleportation as we understand it from scifi? Surely that involves disassembling a thing, transmitting it somehow, then reassembling it somewhere else? That’s what Scotty used to do. I’m not sure I fancy the idea of destroying thing A only for the entangled twin, thing B, to appear somewhere else. Because then thing B isn’t really thing A, it’s just a replica, so would it have all the same attributes of thing A, or would it be just a facsimile? Surely this is just like faxing a document from fax A, destroying the original, then saying that fax B is in fact a teleported version of the document?

Right, History of Britain by Simon Schama calls, and who am I to deny him?!

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by Suw on June 16, 2002

I can’t believe that the USA are one up against Mexico already. Wtf happened there? I mean, most Americans don’t even know what football is (i.e. it’s football, it’s not ‘soccer’), and as for America being in the World Cup, half of them are somewhat unaware that there’s a world outside of America in the first place. Unless they’re bombing it.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not completely anti-American, just partly. Some American things are good, for example… er… um… damn… Well, ok, I won’t start on the list of things that are bad, but let’s just say I’m glad that I didn’t have to go through the American school system and suffer the total humiliation that would have been Prom. Eugh.

Anyway, I didn’t mean to come on here and whinge about either footie or America. No, I came here this morning to whinge about my cat. Who totally failed to wake me up this morning at her customary time between 4am and 5.30am with a pitiful, begging miaow outside my bedroom window. I could have handled that – I’ve trained myself to get up out of bed, let her in, and get back into bed without even so much as waking up. But this morning, a great absence of miaowing at the customary time woke me at 6am, and I ended up having to go upstairs (my house is upside down – you get used to it) to open the front door to let the little scamp in. Trouble was, I was wide, wide awake. I toyed with the idea of getting up and doing something useful, but my inner sleeper told me to go back to bed and make the most of that last hour of slumber.

So why is it then, that when my alarm goes off at 7pm (theoretically allowing me half an hour for breakfast and to shower before the footie starts), I lie there in a semi-comatose state, totally unwilling to move? I mean, an hour beforehand I was all sprightly and feeling very awake and alert. I eventually crawled up the stairs at 7.30pm, and still haven’t had breakfast, although the footie is on behind me. (Further proof that I am a stealth geek – first action of the day is to check emails and to blog, not to have breakfast… eek! Must get out more.)

Anyway, I consider this yet more proof that too much sleep is bad for you – it just makes you even more tired. I used to be able to sleep nine or 10 hours a night, regularly, without any trouble, but always felt a bit ropey. Then I cut it down to eight… and now to somewhere around seven, and I feel much better, much more energetic. But after waking up after only six hours last night, I wonder if maybe seven hours is still too many? There was a piece in the New Scientist which draws a rather scary conclusion about how much we sleep:

“People who sleep for eight hours or more every night have a higher death rate than those who average six to seven hours, according to a new US study.”

So all these years I was a right little sleep demon, I was slowly killing myself? Eek…

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Post number one

by Suw on June 16, 2002

Well, I thought I’d start up this blog as a way to empty my head of all the crap that tends to accumulate in it. You know how it is, all those thoughts that keep piling up, one upon the other. Before you know they start leaking out of your ears… most unattractive, really. So you have the choice, enjoy trawling through the random crap in my head, or go somewhere else. You’ve been warned so don’t come running to me when it doesn’t makes sense.

That said, of course, I suddenly find myself with a head emptier than Tony Blair’s. I’d love to start talking all about my thrillingly exciting life, but the truth is that I don’t get out enough. Or much. At all, in fact, at the moment, due to a rather nasty pain in the bank account. That, in turn, is due to my perpetual state of self-unemployedness: a voluntary state where one lives in hope that somehow, this latest harebrained scheme will somehow actually earn me enough to pay my rent. Which is astronomical. But that’s what you get for living in the commuter belt. Not that I would actually choose to live here if I had my choice over again, but it seemed like a good idea at the time. Actually, I think I’d almost like to live back in London. Well, it’s that or North Wales. It’s cheap, I could afford a house, and it’s just beautiful there. And there’s no air pollution. And I speak a little Welsh so that would be a bonus. Right now though, I can barely afford to go to Tescos, so surfing the net for houses to buy is a kind of masochistic act designed only to make me feel wistful.

Ah, yes, see, only a couple of paragraphs into this and I’m having a nice whinge already. You know, it’s very theraputic, this. Like morning pages. If you don’t know what morning pages are, then never mind, but if you do, then you should try this public whinge thing. I always had a bit of a confessional streak in me, so this is really perfect. I’d make a good catholic if a) I was a catholic and b) it didn’t have that religious bit attached to it. But I could do the sitting in a small cubical thing, confessing my sins, my imagined sins, and all the stuff that generally went wrong today. I could really get into that. I suspect, though, that the priest would eventually ban me for talking too much. Or give me a couple of thousand Bloody Marys just to shut me up for a moment or two.

Of course, a lot of the blogs that I go and look at on a semi-regular basis have links to interesting sites on the net. Well, not this one. I’m a bit short on time, really, so my surfing’s fairly limited at the moment. Sorry. Of course, I’d love you all to think that I’m quite the most interesting person you’ve ever not met, but I think the truth is that no one will actually read all this shit. So it doesn’t really matter anyway.
But that said, I would like to mention Roswell Rods. I saw this documentary on Sky 1 about these weird things called rods which are appearing on video tape. They’re long, thin, and appear to have pairs of wings that run their length and allow them to ‘swim’ through the sky very quickly. Far to quickly to see with the naked eye. That’s why they’re only caught on film.

Of course, a lot of people think that these are just insects flying close to the camera, but my inner jury is out on that one. Some of the footage was, I admit, quite convincing, but the thing that caught my eye was a high-speed stills photo. I’ve never, ever seen an insect caught on stills film look like this thing did. They didn’t tell us just how fast the film was, but I would guess that any insect caught on normal high speed film would appear as an insect, not as a long rod-like thing. I’m not convinced at all that insects can move fast enough to create a blur on a fast film. And it can’t have been close to the camera, because it wouldn’t have then been in focus…

Hmm… anyway, there’s a programme on Sky right now about dead people. Always fascinating. But rest assured, I will come back to this rods thing later…

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