Month: September 2005

Whoosh

Friday has zipped past me leaving me trailing in it’s wake. Yet, as I sit here contemplating the evening ahead, I find myself contemplating a burning orangey pink sunset. Gorgeous.

Anyway, I WAS going to comment on various things today, so excuse me whilst I take a quick dash through the headlines.

40 years for murder. Why is he being treated any different from any other murderer? You take a life, you get life (imprisonment), the rules should apply equally. What about those other murderers that get out after 15 years for good behaviour??

The pending bird flu could kill up to 150 million they reckon. Why is this NOT front page news?!! What is being done about this?

That old bloke that got thrown out of the Labour conference, what’s the big deal?

And so on and so forth, amen.

Sorry, must dash, got a blogmeet tomorrow, batteries to charge and dinner to be eaten, and some webby stuff to do. Might even open a cheeky wee red… hmmm Chilean or Californian? Cabernet Sauvignon or Zinfandel. Decisions, decisions.

Ohh and no, my iPod Nano has NO scratches.

Voices in my head

How wrong Emily Dickinson was! Hope is not “the thing with feathers.” The thing with feathers has turned out to be my nephew. I must take him to a specialist in Zurich.

From Woody Allen, The Complete Prose

And so I sat there, chuckling to myself whilst my fellow commuters stared obstinately out of the train window. At least I hoped that’s what they were doing given that my involuntary giggles were at times quite loud and mostly sudden.

Now I’d warrant that you, dear reader, have heard Mr. Allen speak. You’ve heard the tones and inflections he imparts on his words, the stresses and strains he places on the punctuation, and the stuttering pause ridden asides that you realise are faked as soon as he starts to eloquently pontificate on whatever it is that currently irks – and here I’m thinking specifically of the Marshal McLuhan scene in Annie Hall, you know the one, where he breaks away from the cinema queue to berate the amateur film critic and people like him.

Must watch that movie again, it’s wonderful and probably has had more impact on modern cinema than a lot of people realise. I’m not a die-hard Woody Allen fan, he has produced a few duds in his time, and these days he is in severe danger of becoming a parody of himself, which in turn is probably a sign of his success and fame (and notoriety?).

I digress.

As mike noted a few weeks back, the written word can take on a whole new realm if you are aware of how the author uses phrasing and rhythm. The word patterns and movement that are created when speaking aloud offer a much deeper understanding of the words as they leap off the page and through your eardrums.

The spoken word goes back a long way, yes even before blogs or *gasp* the internet was invented (honestly, there was a time when there weren’t even computers, how did we manage?!), and it’s little wonder that it still carries the most impact. However I wonder if, given the rise in “personal publishing” in the past few years, there isn’t a requirement for a separate set of Writing Style Guidelines aimed solely at personal writing, where the writer is free to punctuate in a way that enforces the pauses and inflections they naturally use?

And no, I’m not talking about any free-form punctuation nonsense, but surely within the strict rules of grammar to which we all *coughs* adhere there is a little wiggle room for some artistic expression?

Or am I… you know… talking rubbish again?

Onto deeper matters then, why doesn’t Woody (Allen to his friends) have a blog? The one thing that hits me whilst reading his Complete Prose is how suited it would be to a blog format. Most of the pieces are short and punchy, and only really suit a compiled print publication. Ohhh sure he could write for a magazine, granted the bulk of the pieces in the book featured in New Yorker, but admit it, you’d LOVE a Woody Allen blog. Admittedly the fact rumour that he doesn’t own a compuer and still uses the manual typewriter on which he wrote his first screenplay might put the kibosh on that idea.

Mind you, thinking about it, a Woody Allen podcast would be much better.

Getting Organised

Bookmarks dotted about all over the place. A del.ico.us account that rarely gets used. Various clever Firefox extensions. My miniblog. My custom start page. My blogroll(s). Bloglines. The sites I “use”, the sites I visit, the useful sites, the information sites, so many sites, so much information and so many ways of filtering and accessing them these days, I’m getting a bit overwhelmed. Aren’t you?

So I put aside a couple of hours* and fired up my web browser with the aim of getting better organised, wasn’t sure HOW exactly, but figured the organic “leap in and start” approach would serve me best. I think it did.

So let me talk you through the process, or better still, roll up your sleeves and try it yourself. As with most things the way you work and use the various technologies will differ from me, but hopefully this will be useful to someone. Always remember that YMMV.

* took a lot longer than this but you can do it in stages if you want.
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Yawn

Still recovering from the weekend, a sure sign that I’m getting older as a hangover now takes two or more days to recede.

Slept in for work this morning but thankfully it’s a bank holiday in Scotland today so the roads and train were quiet. Unfortunately it means the sandwich shop at the top of the road will be shut and I’ll need to traipse into town to get my lunch… it’s all I can do to stay awake and I’m seriously considering phoning in a pizza.

Keep getting flashbacks from Saturday night, including the vile taste of a cigar that I somehow ended up taking a puff on. If nothing else it reminded me why I don’t smoke. It’s disgusting, although not as bad as that flowery beer from Friday night…

Weekender

Friday evening. A few beers with my mates, and a great night that was only spoiled by a pint of “flowery” beer (Deuchars I believe). Celeb spotted Donnie Munro in Babbity Bowsters (where I’ll be this coming weekend for the Glasgow blogmeet – 2pm people!), had mince and lorne sausage stovies in Cafe Source – a lovely setting in the basement of St.Andrews in the Square – and several pints of the drink “Now shipped in from Dublin”, and a few Kronenburg 1664 Blanc. And I’ve only just this second recalled having my arse groped in the Chip Bar by a nurse. At least I think she did, but as the pub has a capacity of 28 you don’t really have much choice but to stand pretty close to people.

Slightly fuzzy head on Saturday morning.

Saturday evening and we celebrated the wedding of our friends Bill and Fran. Was a good night in a local Masonic hall (cheap booze), although it did include the worst rendition of Coldplay’s Yellow. Too much to recall, but finally finished drinking around 4.30 a.m. back at the newlyweds house and still feeling a little woozy and tired at 9.30pm.

It’s always good catching up with friends, and it’s all the more rare as Ian works overseas – he flies back to Greece on Tuesday and won’t be back until December – and Keith will be spending the first 6 months or so next year on tour (I’d drop names but that would be really really shallow of me, suffice to say that they are on the bill for the opening ceremony for the World Cup next year). In saying that Stuart and Alan are only 20 minutes away, and Bill and Fran are usually up for a drink or seven, no real excuse then!

Anyway, I’m off for some painkillers and some sleep!

Central Perk

We’re attending the wedding reception of a couple of good friends tomorrow night, and we’re both thoroughly looking forward to it, I even have a wee ‘rehearsal’ this evening. It’s always good to catchup with friends, and I just know that we’ll come away on Sunday morning saying “why don’t we get together more often”. Funny that.

I guess that sometimes friends just drift apart, it’s not easy when they do, especially if you’ve been close friends with someone for a long time, share a lot of history and yet despite the emotional ties something is missing and the friendship fizzles out. Shame. Thankfully this group of friends are the kind that you just pickup where you left off in June (at the R.E.M. concert) and continue from there… which means that a lot of alcohol will be consumed and Keith will end up making weird chocolate based cocktails. Yay!

Thanks for all the feedback on the new design, still a few changes to make yet – more after the “fold” if you are interested.

And finally, did anyone else catch the BBC Breakfast News around 8.10am this morning? The main newsreader (can’t recall her name) was halfway through the headlines when she got to a piece where “scientists have discovered that stuttering was..is..wa…has been linked to…”.

I’m not sure what else she said as Louise and I had dissolved into fits of giggles.

Right, some web design questions follow…Read More

Ohh a navel!

Does blogging about your own site count as navel-gazing?

Anyhoo… you may have noticed that the entries in the miniblog are getting longer. If you haven’t noticed let me state that “the entries in the miniblog are getting longer”.It started unconsciously but as with most things the habits we form and the way we use our own sites leads us down certain paths. I think the current “type” of posts I have, with mainly longer ones here and shorter ones in the miniblog, suite ME better and I certainly feel more comfortable about posting these days.

When I did my last re-design of this site, I made the post titles deliberately big to both lend them some visual weight and to challenge me to write posts that would be worthy of such a grand (in size at least) title. In addition, the posts I wrote up before I went on holiday a few months back, gathered quite a few comments and I’m quite proud of a couple of them. I took my time to draft and edit them, thought them through, and – and this is probably the crucial bit – I didn’t post them day after day. The gap between posts allowed more people to “see” the posts and the number of comments rose in direct relation.

So I’ve been trying to post the smaller posts in the miniblog, and keep this area free for longer posts, it’s something I’ll be continuing but does leave me with a problem. The miniblog is a bit cramped at the moment (I think) and could do with a little more room, so – and I’ve hinted at this recently – I’m redesigning. Again. Wanna peek?

Rubber service

I’ve just witnessed a blatant display of sexism, it’s quite shocking when you see these things up close, especially as, being a middle-aged middle-class white male, there are few “-isms” that can be used against me (for isn’t that the true definition of an -ism, an aspect of yourself that others use against you??) and no I’m not counting “you-fat-bastard-ism”.

Anyway, one of my chores today was to get a tyre fixed for the car. Looked like a simple puncture, so on my wife’s recommendation, I took it up to a place near her office which she had used previously. Small, local run (cheap!) and great service she said. Excellent, I thought.

I dropped the tyre off and said I’d be back in about an hour as I had to run some errands. “No problem” he said. An hour later I returned and the tyre was fixed and ready for me all for the princely sum of £8. Great, I thought.

However Louise had mentioned that when she had last used the garage they had put the newly fixed tyre back on the car. And they did. FOR HER! I got a “Cheers mate” and bugger all else. Should I report them for their obviously sexist customer services??

Don’t get me wrong, it’s not that I couldn’t manage it my own or anything, it’s just that my nails are all dirty now…

Sidetracked

Oh yes, hello, forgot about you there for a minute. Terribly sorry, awful way to treat you I know, I know.

You see I’m quite busy at the moment, yes yes I know that EVERYONE is “quite busy” and busy is a very relative term but I truly am… sort of…

Thing is it’s not big stuff busy just lots and lots of little stuff busy. The kind of start and end of project stuff that needs done but is a bit of a chore. The kind of stuff that you add to a list and forget about because, hey, you’ve already added it to your list…

Speaking of which, I’ve got a list to work through.

Enough of me, how are you?

Lethal Force Knee-Jerk

The news that Strathclyde Police Force has introduced Taser stun-guns has already sparked the usual round of “letters to the editor” stating various figures about how many people have died in the USA since these guns were introduced over there.

Personally, as a supporter of Amnesty International, I find myself torn on this issue.

On one hand there is evidence that these stun-guns can kill. That is a lot more than they are supposed to do, and there are calls for more rigorous testing before Tasers are rolled out across all the police forces in the country.

On the other hand these stun-guns are designed as a last-ditch option, so for a percentage of their use they will be aimed at criminals, people offering deadly harm to others. My sympathy level always drops in these cases.

On, um, a hand belonging to someone else the recent shooting of Jean Charles de Menezes proves that mistakes can be made but I would suggest that, in you consider the NON-mortality rate of the stun-gun, it would be a better option than a gun.

Of course these kinds of things are always going to spark debate (ouch), and as ever the knee-jerk reaction is the most worrying thing. We are becoming an increasingly reactionary society, already playing the blame game, pre-judging events that have yet to happen. Some people are suggesting that the police will just forget about their batons and use tasers instead and whilst this suggestion does irk, it also invokes images of Indiana Jones style scenes where they calmly ‘taser’ the onrushing ned and his chib*.

The world we live in is not ideal, I’ve mentioned before that there seems to be a lack of respect, a lack of discipline in some areas of society. We should be helping those areas by providing funds where needed, helping with education and supporting the families until they are in a position to help others. I truly believe that.

However the smallest subsection of society (of humanity?) is happy to take take take. They don’t want educated, they don’t want supported, they want what they want and they don’t care who gets in their road. For THOSE people, I say Taser them if required. Harsh? Yes. Just like life.