Wednesday, April 28, 2010
So I bought two tickets to London to see New York hipsters LCD Soundsystem at the O2 Brixton Academy without really worrying about who to take with me. It’s not that I assumed that I could find someone to go, but I just thought that maybe someone would want to come along for the fun and the company of myself – it turned out that I couldn’t rustle any of my highly paid friends to come along and went alone.
Alone on holiday for 5 days. Not only had I never been to a concert alone, I’d never actually been on holiday alone either. It seemed less “plonkerish” of me to go to London and do some sight seeing alone than go to the concert alone for some reason. Indeed, the three days I spent in London alone were surprisingly great fun. It meant that I could go and see what I wanted and for as long as I fancied. So, when I was sitting in the sunshine on the Camden Canal sipping a fruit smoothie, I had only myself to worry about. When I spent 5 hours looking at the exhibits in the Natural History museum I felt no pang of disappointment or guilt as there was no one else to worry about boring. I spent a whole hung over morning walking amongst the Marathon runners and the Tate Modern in a daze without once having to talk to a single soul and it was cathartic.
The problem was at night. Having dinner in a pub on your own is not the most fun, though I broke the barrier of that by roping in some old timers to talk to about the Fulham team, of which none believe my opinion of “They’re pretty good huh?”. I managed to find a friend of a friend to tag along with to the LCD gig after punting my second ticket to a hapless fan for face value. On Saturday night I danced and jigged my way across Central London to find my self locked out of my hotel room in my under pants for a reason that I still can’t quite fathom.
After several holidays to places with people it was a refreshing change of pace to just be able to hang about London at my own speed and style. It felt relaxing compared to other City Breaks I have done and whilst I have absolutely no doubt that I would have much a million times more fun had a friend came (laughing at the Modern Art, drinking in the pub, laughing at the hipster cunts in the park) it felt great to try being on my own for a while and that, actually, while two’s company and three’s a crowd, one maybe be all alone… but that’s not a problem at all.
Wednesday, April 14, 2010
You're getting high on your own supply
Oh baby you're still alive when you could've died
The world is not around because of you
You know I’m not around because of you
You've got a mouthful of diamonds
And a pocketful of secrets
I know you're never telling anyone…
Because the patterns they control your mind
Those patterns take away my time
You tell the truth when you could've lied
And troubles are on the rise cause you're in disguise.
And if it isn't me, then pack your bags and leave
I wish I could believe the devils won't take you back out to the salty seas.
You've got a mouthful of diamonds
And a pocketful of secrets
I know you're never telling anyone…
Because the patterns they control your mind
Those patterns take away my time
by Phantogram, from the Album Eyelid Movies.
Tuesday, April 13, 2010
The thing is that I don’t do it any more. My procrastination died the moment I left university. The only reason I allowed it to happen was that I had no motivation to it otherwise. I mean… it never impeded my social life, nor did it impede my professional development. The reason I don’t do it anymore is that I don’t take work home with me anymore. Work ends the moment I leave work, and I can happily leave anything that happens in that time in that void between 8am and 5pm.
Some people let the procrastination enter their real life. The “leave it” attitude comes to the fore front when coupled with something that someone doesn’t want to do. Examples are tidying up, or going out of your way for someone, or maybe even doing something that you have to but don’t want to. A good example of this has been pointed out to me in cleaning my flat at the weekend.
It took over an hour to really clean the bathroom. Now, my flat mate doesn’t know this, because I didn’t tell him – I don’t do it for the recognition, but I do it because it needed to be done and otherwise it wouldn’t be done. Not my fault, and certainly not his – it’s just the way it is. However, it clearly indicates out that if we cleaned it weekly, and in smaller doses, the overall job would actually end up being smaller. Sounds silly, but it’s true! Doing things this way makes sense!
Another domestic example is the dishwasher. “I’ll do it later” meant having to do more than one load of the Dishwasher because the piling up of things meant that the final task was harder.
I suppose these examples are partly trivial, but some people can let this happen in their personal life – letting problems, tasks or events slowly build up over time, and before long there’s a tipping point, a precipice over which there’s two things that can happen. Either something major has to change, and the whole cumulative problem needs to be fixed, or you just abandon it and hope all that is lost is not too great. Imagine never cleaning the bathroom – it would get to a point where the place would become so dilapidated that I’d be better (and make sense) just to burn it to the ground (especially after what my flat mate can do to the bathroom) than clean it.
As you who know me intimately may have noticed, something in me has changed. I used to put all of these domestic things off till the point is reached where I have to clean, but no longer. I clean in small bouts, and I am willing to change. In fact, on the advice of a friend I picked up a batch of cloths to clean the kitchen with every day rather than a roll of kitchen towel every time it became dirty. My newly found impetuous nature domestically is becoming almost OCD in its manifestation, and it isn’t going to be long before I start applying this to my real life. And murdering people.
Monday, April 12, 2010
What did I learn? Nothing really. Nothing that I didn’t already know. I can live easily without both websites, and will actually keep doing so – I may have posted a bit on Twitter yesterday, but I will become more an observer than a poster. On Facebook too, I will become more a lurker than a poster, having only looked at it yesterday fleetingly during an exchange with an older flat mate.
The funny thing is I am by no means the first person to do so – in fact, this weekend the Observer had a piece where the writer did the same thing as me, going as far to actually stop using the internet all together. I think that’s a bit of a stretch – you see, emails have the problem of assumed reading. Imagine you called someone and they didn’t answer, you take that as a response. You haven’t had the chance to answer the question, so you cannot get annoyed about the lack of a solution. If you send an email you, after a while, assume the person has read it and then the annoyance and impatience starts to build. Where’s my reply? Why are they ignoring it? Do they know the answer? If I were to draw for the internet completely (and emails) I would miss out on a lot, especially stuff integral to my day to day working.
That’s the problem with the way we work in this office. Essential comments on documents are emailed, essential instructions are emailed… very little is formally handed to me on my desk. It makes sense, environmentally, but if the emails were to crash… boy oh boy I’d have nothing to work with.
Did I miss the sites? I missed Facebook most because people were pointing it out and mentioning it to me, sometimes almost tantalisingly so. A few times I missed out on some banter, only later to be advised “It was on Facebook”. And a few people texted me saying “Ah, I was going to Facebook you but you’re on exile” which was refreshing. Human interaction is more fulfilling without the internet.
The biggest shock was the activities I replaced my Facebook / Twitter time with. At work I replaced it with Work, or talking to people in the Office, or going for lunch. At home was the biggest change though – instead of spending 20 minutes looking at photos I was reading a book, playing my Xbox, listening to music; just sitting, in my room, with a new album on with nothing else to distract me was something I’d not done ina long time. I also went out at the weekend walking, I read more newspapers and went to gym more (though, that’s not really that big a consequence).
The second biggest shock was the realisation how often I looked at my iPhone. At first I’d pull out my Nokia just because that’s what I would’ve done with the iPhone and every time I did it there was a flash of stupidity. Now, I can say hand on heart that anyone who is talking to me, hanging out with me or asks me to “check on the phone” I will resist. I am removing all the stupid little applications from the Phone as I type this, to stop me from faffing around. “There’s an app for that” is so true, but there’s also a time for that, and that time is not when you are with those you care about or doing something with. My iPhone is great to have back, but the features I used the most are the worst thing about having it and I don’t need them, nor do I want to use them. Consider my self schooled properly on that side of things.
Is it a surprise I enjoyed my time away? Of course not. What was surprising was how easy it actually is. Or is that even that surprising? I think my next project will be not getting the bus at all for two weeks, or using my car. That might be interesting. Funnily enough, that was my punishment for not surviving the two weeks…
Thursday, April 08, 2010
I’ll freely admit to download illegally, and used to much more regularly. When I was a student I bought hundreds of CDs, slowly building a rather shameful CD collection of Nu-Metal and Alternative that to this day I find both embarrassing but also, like recently, I like to return to. These CDs are in my parents, long hidden in the attic for several years, because I have a copy of them on my laptop. Of the 80Gb of music on my laptop a large proportion of it is legally mine and I bought the CD transferring it to my PC. If you were to take a look at the artists though, you’d find most of the CDs I owned back then don’t appear.
This is because when I moved into my first flat I went a bit crazy and downloaded a lot of music illegally – a direct result of having a fast internet connection, my own laptop, and limitless new bands to discover. I downloaded complete discographies of what are now some of my favourite bands. I did it because it was easy and free. I knew it was illegal, and I still did it because there was little to no way I would get caught.
That was in 2006 and now, in 2010, there is a law that is on the precipice of being passed that will make what I did then totally illegal. I say what I did then because now I don’t do it anymore. I use Spotify and eMusic and rarely, if ever, do I download something from the Torrent sites anymore. I’m not taking the holier than thou route though… that’s not the point. The new Digital Economy Bill uses un-evolved powers to make the sharing of the very files I routinely downloaded a few years ago actually illegal with new powers to punish those who do it. These powers include cutting of the internet connection and massive fines.
Is it right though? I think there are a few problems with the new laws that are actually quite fundamentally and catastrophically wrong – the first being the actual method in which the connection can be cut. The ISP has to provide the law with information if the request it – nay even be proactive about it because they can be hit with a much heavier fine otherwise. However you’ll loose the connection before being able to defend the charge, even if you are innocent. How is that fair or just?
The second problem is that even with these methods, people can still do it. Take Sweden for example. That country was rife with illegal sharers and downloaders, and the home of the Pirate Bay. The government there passed a law not dissimilar to our new one, and the usage of the torrenting sites dropped by 30% almost over night. A win, then, for the government you’d say, until the fact that usage actually recovered and increased after that initial dip. The users were wise to the risks, and started to use protection – encrypted, untraceable internet links to download and as such usage, now that people had no way of being even spotted, increased. That will happen here, of which I have no doubt – in some cases it already does.
The third thing that will cause the bill problems is the lack of education. Parents who have internet connections in their name are the ones that will be targeted – the bill payers, or the name sake of the connection, will be the ones forced to pay the fine. Parents don’t have the wherewithal to download the files, and don’t know how to and this means there is a large number who don’t know that their children do and even less still that will know the consequences. Of those that do know the consequences, an infinitesimal number of those have the computer knowledge to stop their kids from doing it. The government, instead of figuring a way to let people know (and warn) these populations of the risks, are going to punish them heavily.
Finally, it is the core problem of the bill and the concepts behind it – it’s too late. My sister, younger than me by four years, knows only downloading illegally on fast internet connections and Torrent files, and my cousin yet to enter the world of Torrents will only know that. I remember Napster and the long waiting times… and my father remembers actually having to wait for the release of music on physical formats. My point is this: you cannot change over night an inherent attitude to downloading, and by a Hammer Down approach is the worst way possible. How do you change behaviours set into the minds of million of people that don’t know any other way?
The answer is, of course, there is no answer. Illegal downloading will find a way no matter what. The government are too late with this law, and it’s the wrong law in the first place. Instead of stopping the downloading by cutting connections and throttling of speeds the downloading should be embraced either by a tax, an Internet License Fee, or some other similar concept. It is not going to go away, and this law isn’t going to make things better; it’s probably going to make it worse. Harder for those who share on a massive scale to be stopped, and those who only do it here and there will be hit worst.
Interestingly, this site shows Democracy in action. http://debillitated.heroku.com/ and my local MP, Anne Begg didn’t go. http://www.didmympshowupornot.com/lookup?postcode=AB11+6FR
Wednesday, April 07, 2010
Anyway, it’s a super stylised line graphic novel, in black and white, and has tons of quirky characters, and a style that mimics what I wish my life was like. It openly apes music and the love of new bands (Scott is in the band Sex Bob-Bomb!!) and computer games with each fight taking place like a Street Fighter battle, extra lives, save points, EXP experience points gained from encounters, he gets gold coins from each person defeated and even achievements unlocked for doing certain things. It is also blissfully self aware, breaking the fourth wall by mentioned the volumes in the volumes them selves and in once instance, even saying “We’ve taken up a third of this volume already, let’s move on”.
There are volumes that act as instalments in the series, of which there are five so far released, with the sixth and final due to be released in July 2010. They are, in order, Scott Pilgrim’s Precious Little Life, Scott Pilgrim vs. The World, Scott Pilgrim and the Infinite Sadness, Scott Pilgrim Gets it Together and Scott Pilgrim vs. The Universe. The final issue is Scott Pilgrim’s Finest Hour and I cannot be more excited about it.
There is also, interestingly, a movie coming out based on the books. Check it.
Tuesday, April 06, 2010
He has appeared on this blog a few times, and is known by some of readers as my guilty pleasure. I grew up on his (pop/soft/easy listening) rock that he writes, and it plays a significant part in my musical history. Seeing as I had seen him a long time ago, and as my father correctly put it, “Your musical tastes have changed somewhat” I decided it pertinent to go and see the man put on his latest tour. It was good – I struggled to find someone to come along though, having not really considered the trouble as a stumbling block, and coerced Steve into going with the promise of beer. Technically, he was brilliant, but it wasn’t my musical taste. It might have never been. I’m not sure what Steve expected but he was pretty amused by the middle aged audience and in particular one man who got so involved he almost smacked his closest neighbour with the back of his hand during a particularly big sweeping clap.
The Twilight Sad
I’ve seen the Twilight Sad three times previously, and once in the hovel that is Sleazy’s in Glasgow, so I knew what to expect and I knew I’d enjoy it. I didn’t expect it to be so devoid of emotion though – the crowd had no part in that for once, as notorious as Aberdeen crowds are, it wasn’t the crowd’s fault. Indeed, it seemed to be the sound of the venue – not for me to be able to honestly say it was a bad sound, but if I notice it (a total non-technical opinion of it) seemed to certify the set up and mixing by the crew as a poor set up or, as I suspect, a shit speaker system by the owners of the place. Not that great – I mean it was good, but noticeably worse than I remembered.
The Mock the Week star (as some would put it) controversially spoke a lot about Downs Syndrome, Gays, Madeline McCann, Baby P, and Michael Jackson. He made a few funny jokes about these subjects, but as is the point of his show and his general schtick, it was more about what he did say rather than what was implied. Whereas other comedians may have a deft of touch and a slight slant on these subjects, Boyle just seemed to be pointing out everything non-politically correct about them and then seeing the reaction he got. I don’t know if I like that, it seems very cheap and easy comedy. He seemed to use the show just to say stuff that had been cut out of his TV appearances, even admitting it and having a section that just repeated retroactively jokes cut from the shows. Uninspired was my reaction. Don’t get me wrong, he is funny, and it’s fun to see reactions of people to some really tasteless jokes (like the about putting three tickets behind the box office at one of his gigs under the name Kate and Jerry McCann) but mostly I was more impressed by the Canadian support act, Craig Campbell, who gleefully poked fun at Canadians, the Scottish, and it seemed to point squarely at that it might be more my style of comedy.
Monday, April 05, 2010
Actually not quite, as there is a second part of the expansion that I have not explained. The second part of the revised bet came about when I showed to Steve that I was deleting Facebook and Twitter from my iPhone. He asked, probably innocuously, “Can you turn off the internet on the iPhone?” which quickly transformed into the question “Could you go without your iPhone?”. I said yes because apart from making phone calls, the Facebook and Twitter parts were basically the only other thing I used it for. So, I’m now in Exile from the iPhone until next week. It’s not as bad as some people expected, because clemency was given when I rightfully pointed out that it doubles as my MP3 player, so all I have done was turn my iPhone into a jaked iPod. If they had taken away my iPod you might as well have struck me down where I stand.
Anyway, this serves as an update for those attentive readers, of which I assume there are literally some of, and I will be posting much healthier on here this coming week which much less self centred bullshit.