Month: April 2006

My response

What did I do?

So far I’ve had a variety of suggestions, and so far I can confirm that each and every single one of them skipped through my mind.

I could ask him politely and hope he, with a certain amount of embarassment, would take his feet off the seat and apologise for his behaviour.

I could have taken a more aggressive stance in the hope that he would back down. The proximity and position of his knees were the reason behind this thought. Some downward pressure would be all that is required to ‘make my point’.

I could have moved seats, I could have just ignored him.

However I, like some of you, presumed the ticket inspector would’ve mentioned something.

But she didn’t.

And the really annoying thing is that, after that, I didn’t feel I had much choice. If SHE wasn’t going to at least try and ask him to move his feet then he already has an argument to say that “well, she wasn’t bothered”.

So I spent the rest of the journey both quietly fuming and wondering why it was that I felt angry and weak and disillusioned. And for me, that’s the crux of the matter.

HIS actions, and his aggressive nature, both made me stop and wonder what his reaction would be. I decided, through fear, to take the non-confrontational route. Yet that annoyed me too. A double-whammy of disrespect and inconsideration coupled with a knock-on of making me feel … inadequate? Wrong? No, neither of those. All I know is that I end up angry and aggrieved and he probably never even knew, or cared, that his actions were having an effect on someone else.

THAT’S the kind of inconsideration I loathe.

And yes, next time I’m just gonna jump on his kneecaps.

Regardless

Last night on the train on the way home, as I settled down with book in hand, a couple sat down across from me. They were a similar age to me, reasonably well presented, and engaged in quiet whispers. At first I took them for a new couple, still at that stage of exploration where nothing beyond the other exists, but it turns out they were just a little tipsy, drunk enough to yield similar results but with the advantage of familiarity.

I was sitting at the window seat, directly opposite the lady of this couple and already I could tell that the ‘gentleman’, sitting diagonally across from me, was anything but. Something about the way he dominated the space between them, the aggressive stance, and clenched fists providing further clues. Snippets of their conversation came and went.

“If yer bruther touches you ai’d smash ‘im”
“No ye wudnae”
“Aye I wud. Fuckin kill ‘im”

And so on.

I had just extracted my headphones from my pocket when he slowly placed his feet on the seat next to me, languorously crossing them back and forth until he was comfortable. I glanced down at his feet, then looked up at him.

Now, I should explain that there is one thing, a pet peeve if you will, that is guaranteed to get my blood boil. It manifests itself in many ways but they all amount to the same thing. A lack of consideration. And here was this drunken oaf, quite happily shuffling his feet about on the seat cushion next to me.

So, with my incredulous rage building, the following thoughts all zip through my brain in a few nano-seconds:

  1. Behind him I see the, female, ticket inspector approaching.
  2. Given his aggressive stance and general demeanour I also sized him up, he was definitely in better shape than me if a little shorter
  3. He’s fairly drunk, and I’m stone cold sober.
  4. I realised I was sitting in a corner and would have to get past him to get out.
  5. In the seats opposite me are two teenage girls pouring over glossy magazines, and a young executive type woman reading a book with a pink cover
  6. We’re only 2 minutes into a journey that takes 27.

What do you think happened next?

Less Important

Safe in the knowledge that she probably won’t read this (I’m joking!), I thought I’d take something Clare mentioned a while back and see where it lead me. She recently said:

“… come on, admit it, you are a bit full of yourselves sometimes, aren’t you? And you do go on at great length about the most mundane of things (Yup, I know – pot, kettle – well that’s no surprise; I fell into a womb of testosterone when I was a baby). Oh shit. This was a bad idea.”

Note: She wasn’t talking specifically about me, but male bloggers on the whole. I think.

Now I’m fairly au fait with the content of my blog, although not as much as you’d think as I have a terrible memory – quote a post of mine from 2004 and I’ll be left wondering who wrote such wonderfully insightful and beautiful prose – so I thought I’d dissect what Clare mentioned, and distill it down until we get something approaching a possible reason as to why us males do this.

But then I realised that would be utterly mundane and may make me seem like I think I’m important or something, so I won’t bother.

Seriously though, in the midst of all this gentle ribbing lies a very valid point. Of the short list of blogs I read every day, the majority are female, and the majority are written about personal thoughts and emotions. Yet, despite that, this blog, my tiny corner, rarely takes that approach. Why?

When I first started out it was all about me, then I discovered Blogger and it was all about the fact I could post all day, every day and the quality of content dipped to one-liners about the weather. It took me a couple of years to get past that stage and these days, some eight years later, I’ve matured enough to realise that I do enjoy writing here, and I enjoy people reading it. The comments are reward enough, particularly when a post that I value generates a healthy discussion.

With that maturity comes a greater awareness of who I am and, possibly more importantly, who reads this site. Self-censorship becomes envitable and I find myself deliberately focussing away from myself and, by extension, from others. A few recent events in our family have gone unmentioned here, and I rarely blog about “people” in anything except general terms. Admittedly I don’t socialise often these days, so subject material can be thin on the ground. I’m also loathed to comment on recent national news items as others do it so much better than I, and anyway, it always takes me a wee while to get my head settled and my point of view established, by which time the discussion has moved on.

That said I don’t struggle, too often, for something to write about and if I do there is always some good old fashioned plagiarism (also known as “memes”). Mind you, even then I find it easier to dis-associate myself from my self, a trick that has served me well in difficult times in the past.

This is not a plea for help or prompt for suggestion, just a pondering on my part.

My growing inability in this area is thrown into sharp relief when you consider the quality of personal/emotional writing that was (and will be) uncovered by mike’s POTW competitions, with the nominations comprising solely of the aforementioned style of writing and with a focus on personal emotion and experience. I’ve thoroughly enjoyed reading them, but having held up my own output and finding the reflection dimmed and distant, I do feel the tang of envy.

Gosh, this is all getting a bit morose, that wasn’t the intention at all. Not to mention I’m starting to waffle and, by the gods, it’s more mundane than a mondeo.

I’ll stop now, and contemplate this further in my removed self. Feel free to ignore this post. Lord knows I probably will (presuming I every publish it, although this set of parenthesis is going to look jolly silly when I do).

Supermarket Sweep

Apparently the lovely Shauny got some flack over a recent post featuring some of the.. ahem.. delicacies available in Scottish supermarkets. One commenter —and to be fair to the rest of the lovely people who commented, it does seem to have been only one or two naysayers… always the way, isn’t it— even goes so far as to point out that:

If you insist on shopping in Asda then of course you’re going to find low quality food, they cater for low quality people and low quality taste.

Which made me wonder (as these things are wont to do, how else do you think I come up with this rubbish?), does buying cheap food from a cheap supermarket mean you are getting low quality goods?

OK, it didn’t make me think that at all. My instant reaction was… blimey, where does Lidl fit in to this supermarket hierarchy which seems to exist?! And what of Tesco?

The funny thing, for me at least, is that the largest supermarket chain in the UK (Tesco.. do keep up) has never really had much influence on me. We used to visit a branch when we lived in Aylesbury but the nearest store to where we currently live takes us on a route past a Lidl, a Morrisons (Safeway) and an Asda. Not to mention several smaller local stores.

The local stores are where we tend to shop more regularly for everyday items like milk, bread, and … umm… beans…? A trip to the supermarket means we are re-stocking shelves with staples and long-life products, rice, beans… ummm.. and so on. Freezer food is usually purchased at the supermarket. Fresh fruit too I’m afraid, there is one fruit shop in Hamilton which we do visit on the odd weekend but I’ve yet to find one in Glasgow. Yes this is a bad thing.

Hmmm, I’ll losing my way a little here. Some thoughts then.

1. Is there a hierarchy of supermarkets? I’m not talking about in terms of revenue but of, and this next word is for want of a much more suitable term which currently escapes me as I’ve only had one coffee, “class”? I used to view, largely thanks to the one store we used to occasionally visit when I was a child, Tesco as being distinctly grubby and “lower class”. It’s a view I can’t really shake. Safeway suffered similar for a while but bucked up their ideas for a while… and the prices started to rise. I’d say Safeway was “middle class” (and yes I’ve got the Cleese-Barker-Corbett sketch in my head at the moment). Sainsburys is, of course, “upper class”. But why? What forms this view? Does it match yours?

2. Supermarkets keep getting bigger. This is a bad thing. Yet if you venture across the channel you will find “hypermarkets” AND small local stores and markets, both of which seem to be successful. How can the French do it, but we can’t?

3. Where do YOU shop?

Today…

… I will mostly be meeting met “BritBlog” Mark (he’s organising a blogmeet dahn sarf by the way). It was Be good to finally meet him having exchanged so many, and some heated, emails in the past year or so.

We chatted about this and that but mainly, obviously, the plans for the merger of Scottish Blogs and Britblog. Over the past couple of months since the first announcement we’ve been round the house with the design and now we both agree that we’ve got a good model to take forward. We’ll issue an update soon, but I have to admit that I’m getting a little excited about things.

Mark’s a great guy, very self-effacing and I think meeting face-to-face will make a big difference from here onwards. You get so much more from body language than you can ever expect to be conveyed in email or IM conversations.

But you all know that right. It’s the same for blogs.

Anyway, I’m hoping to ramp up my involvement very soon, just need to get ONE LINE of PHP to work and I can knock a certain site on the head. It’s missing some features that I’d wanted to implement but time constraints mean I’m just glad to hit the 80% mark (well maybe closer to 90%) and I can leave the remaining “nice to have” items for another time (possibly in the autumn).

I also need to follow up with a few people who I emailed several weeks ago on various topics. If you’ve been waiting for me to get in touch then stand by your PC…

So, I’ll leave you with that Tammy Wynette chiclete de ouvido crawling into your brain shall I?

Ohhh a Sing-a-long!

Sometimes its hard to be a system
Giving all your love to just one file
You’ll have bad times
And it’ll have good times
Doing things that you don’t understand

But if you love it you’ll forgive it
Even though it’s hard to understand
And if you love it
Ohhhh be proud of it
‘Cause after all he’s just a computer..

[do de do de doooo]

Stand by your peeceeeee
Give it two arms to cling to
And something warm to come to
When nights are cold and lonely

Stand by your peecceeeeee
And tell the world you love it
Keep giving all the love you caaaaaaaan

(sorry)

Weekender

This weekend we have mostly been:

  • Visiting garden centres and buying plants (4 for £10!)
  • Cutting grass, planting plants, weeding etc etc
  • Trying not to remember Saturday would have been Louise’s Mum’s birthday
  • Eating a delicious Thai curry – made from scratch by my talented wife
  • Watching Spirited Away – wonderfully animated, imaginative and totally captivating
  • NOT watching the London marathon
  • Finishing reading Dave Eggers “How We Are Hungry” – a wonderful selection of short stories
  • A little bit of web design work
  • Trying to rediscover Placebo without much success

I’m pooped.

Snippets

Money for old rope? Or is it possible to blog full-time? Last year Jason Kottke tried it, couldn’t make it stick. Now John Gruber is heading down the same road.

The reason I ask is that yesterday’s somewhat tongue-in-cheek post seems to have… well not quite enraged but definitely “irked” a few people somewhat. I guess for a lot of people it comes down to personal values, namely what you value most in life.

Me? Cold hard cash. Piles of it. Enough to burn.

OK, not really, er well maybe just a small pile..

~

Web design posts have been few and far between on here of late. There is a very good reason of course, namely that I want to setup a blog on onemandesigns but haven’t had a moment to do it. Ideally I’ll cross-post an excerpt on here as well but I’m not exactly sure on the details yet.

Need to get it done though, I’ve a stack of things to write about, and my head is gonna burst if I don’t get them out soon.

~

I don’t blog about work on here, well not directly anyway just the occasional “ya boo sucks” kinda nonsense that everyone goes through. It’s just as well too as —and don’t ask me why this has just occurred to me— my referrer stats have shown up somebody (people?) searching for my name in conjunction with my employers name. I’m guessing it may be interview candidates as they know who is interviewing them and who I work for… or it could be someone else who is checking me out in a “professional” capacity.

Either way, a lesson to you all. Careful what you say!

~

WordPress questions. I seem to have developed a penchant for my old friend the mdash (—). However, it’s becoming a bit of a drag having to type out the HTML entity code each time (& mdash ; ) and I’m wondering if there is an easier way around this problem. It’s the same for & pound ; and letter accents. Annoying.

I’m guessing I’ve missed something really obvious but CBATG.

~

.htaccess files are fun, aren’t they?

Well, no not really. They still fall into the realm of black magic as far as I’m concerned but I’ve been mucking about (on a test system) with something I hope to implement here. I mentioned it, er, last week I think. A homepage.

Problem is this blog is the default page for the domain, but I’m sure I read somewhere I could do some clever redirecty thingy using .htaccess… I don’t mind moving the blog to, say, /blog/ but it’s a bit of a pain in the ass for everyone else.

Mind you, as I’m linked to under so many different monikers (as previously discussed) it might be good to force people to update their links! And yes, the most annoying one is most definitely the “Gordon McClean” links. One “c” people, ONE!

~

SQL Injection attack anyone? Scottish Blogs has, suddenly, has a huge amount of rogue “submitted sites” (over 100 in the past hour, as opposed to 20 or so a day). I’ll see how many there are in the morning but might need to turn … um… something off somewhere! Balls.

AM update: Seems to have calmed down and, in the cold light of the morning I think it’s more a concerted attack on the form rather than SQL Injection. So far, so quiet(er).

~

I have a new method for dealing with cold callers. Last night, Louise had gone out to dinner with friends, I was sitting at the PC doing some work when the phone rang. The phone upstairs doesn’t have a caller id display so I picked up… only for some woman to immediately start yakking down the phone at me about how I’d “won” a mobile phone and how wonderful it was and how lucky I am. Now, would I give her my mobile number?

“No…” said I, and before I could complete the sentence she was off again… I was mid-way through hanging up when I decided against it. I listened to her for about 30 seconds, and with no sign of her abating, I gently placed the handset on the desk and let her enjoy a little bit of Kate Bush. She finally stopped after a further minute (34 seconds after I put the phone down, I was counting by now) and I could just make her out.. “hello? HELLO?”.

I held my breath, expecting her to disconnect. She didn’t. Over the music I could faintly hear the next round in her glorious eulogy —this one timed at a full 77 seconds— before she paused again. “hello? HELLO?”.

Click.

Predictable

Wow, that Paypal donation thing really works! Question is, what on earth am I going to spend 9p on?? It’s a quandary of epic proportions…

It would be very easy to get caught up in trying to figure out how much money this blog could POSSIBLY make… 1p a week, from 200 visitors… multiply by 52, discount for weekend figures… etc etc… but the bottom line is that, unless you have an inordinate amount of traffic and traffic comprised largely of high-earners, the chances are the your blog will make you NO money. Sure you might pull in a little from adverts and donations but, comparatively you won’t even break even.

How much does it cost to run a blog?

Outlays included purchasing a domain [optional], hosting [optional], and time spent designed [optional] and creating content. The latter is the biggest cost factor in any blog, yet as it’s seen as a hobby it’s somehow OK to assign a zero pricing to that time. If I were to get paid on a par with the hourly rate I get from my day job… well that just wouldn’t work… after all.. who would be paying me??

In fact after that woeful, self-loathing post of a couple of days ago, the interest and emails sparked, and a couple of days of stepping back to re-assess things, I can happily say that I’m… well not exactly on top of the world but certainly feeling much better. Thank you very much.

This is nicely timed —and I’m not sure if this is a coincidence or one of those tricks your brain plays on you— as today and tomorrow I have to interview candidates to replace a recently departed co-worker (something else that was without doubt adding to my stress levels).

Now, if I can just remember HOW you conduct interviews I’ll be fine. It’s been a while since I did any (or been interviewed myself) so I’m off to scour the internet for ideas and the latest techniques. Suggestions are welcomed, and no, I don’t favour tests (but do ask for examples of previous work).

Not deleted

The previous post is a prime example of both “How not to blog” and of a post that should never have seen the light of day in the first place. The fact that I haven’t deleted it is a testament to my belief that… umm… you … eehhh… shouldn’t delete things?

Whatever.

Thanks for your kind comments and emails, I really REALLY wasn’t fishing for anything and that’s part of the reason that I don’t like posting that kind of stuff any more. The whole ‘woe is me’ thing is very boring, and so passé (dahling).

Anyhoo, I’m only really posting to say that I’m fine but I think I need to change things a little. I’ve got a few things in mind, mainly around WHAT I do, rather than how I do it… but I’ll need a little perspective to sort things out in my head. In other words, I’ll be back posting the usual crap tomorrow.

Finally, if you are feeling particularly flush, feel free to drop some Threadless goods my way (hint), or just yank something from the ever present (but not oft mentioned) wishlist. I’ll put the Paypal button in soon… Was easier than I thought!





Give now! Or… ummm.. I’ll… ehhh.. yeah… right.. anyway. Anna’s right, this is kinda awkward..