Madness and other Addictions or (How I survived 4 months without internet)

Disclaimer:- No minds were destroyed during this experiment (Save my own) nor were any non-prescription medications taken.

Yes you read it correctly 4, one, two, three, FOUR! long gruelling months without a proper connection to the internet.

Why? You ask.

Why indeed comes my response. Well it all started in October an unusually warm and busy day when I moved to my new apartment and I’d decided that even after having used the internet at my previous place for nigh on 2 years I could live without it. After all it’s just for people who don’t have Xboxes etc isn’t it?

The experiment started well, I busied myself with arranging my stuff in my new home and finding out where things were or if I needed any extra things. I should mention at this point that I moved into a furnished place, meaning it has practically everything a person needs, knifes, forks, plates, cooking utensils, a bed, sofa, in fact I was greeted by a plethora of things perhaps some I will never use. anyway I digress.

The first month and a bit was easy, cleaning the new apartment kept me busy and entertainment provided by reading or playing guitar, the occasional night out and then of course mobile internet was still available but it’s most definitely not the same as a desktop or even a tablet connected to the internet by a long shot.

Connecting my tablet via the phone helped to fill some of the void that I was now feeling but the biggest drawback apart from the lack of speed was that 1Gb is most certainly not sufficient in this day and age if you upload pictures or perusing other peoples photographic delights and so one fateful night out of sheer desperation I went over to the big grey box that graces the centre of focus in my living room and plugged it in, reaching for the remote control I wondered what pleasures lay waiting in the darkness of the screen ready to spring forth and titillate my weary mind……..click……adverts…..click……..more adverts…………..click………click……..click..click.click. An endless stream of adverts greeted me with their blaring colours and overenthusiastic actors and actresses each with their own special blend of exuberance and ridiculous “Catchsounds”. I coined this word to fill the quite clear gap in our language for those irritating ways of saying something in a ridiculous voice or a particular way of laughing, coughing, sneezing  ad infinitum that are designed by some malicious psychologist to stick in your head till death do us part e.g. Take brand X “it turns AAAaargh into Falala, falafala LaH!!” CLICK. Aha! finally a program that I find interesting, I’ll avoid naming programs to avoid any negative feedback, It’s a program about people who buy things that someone was unfortunate enough not to be able to afford paying a third party to look after them (Got it?). I was enthralled by what people found and how much it was worth and slowly I sank into the programmers trap, I would rush home after work in the hopes there was a repeat of an episode I only caught a part of, craving my fix of watching other people doing what they do instead of doing what I could have been doing. Then I noticed that I always wanted more, the episode seemed to lack something so slowly I watched less and less..click….Another program along a similar vein (description uneccesary) Hooked again temporarily…until……click…… The format was the same but then petty bickering was added for effect and to bring back up the failing ratings by who knows who? The producer, director or the ratings guy who gets fired if the program becomes unsuccessful…….I then discovered that I’d started watching cartoons, you know the one about the couchpotato, whose wife has strangely coloured hair (No, not Margaret Thatcher!) and their family. I still think it’s a great show by the way so no hate mail from fans please. Plus another one about some characters who live under the sea, which has an awesome theme tune that I can’t stop humming on my way to work. Although I am saddened by the poor translation in Spanish, “The Pants” are just so neccessary, tut, sigh.

I settled into my new viewing with relative glee….click…..oh that series about a group of scientists who…..Yes, that one. It starts, I sit watching ready for the first punch line at the 30 second mark…..BANG! 7 minutes of Adverts…..wait….what the? who? Damn!! It comes back on I get engrossed and start to enjoy myself, chuckling with glee at their antics, 2 minutes of entertainment later and KERBOOM!! 6 minutes of adverts…..eh?…..erm….cup of tea ready for the next showing. This is how it goes. I don’t know who thought that this was a good idea, don’t get me wrong I understand someone has to pay for this and that this generates cash but really guys, is there not a better way? One that jangles the nerves a little less or creates an even bigger feeling of disenchantment (My word of the week so I have to use it) than before?

The answer to the above question I believe is a resounding NO!! It’s all part of the programming (Pun intended) get people hooked on a T.V. show, disenchant them there’s that word again then advertise your products again making you think that they will be life changers and you will rush out and buy the latest bigger, wider, thinner, curvier T.V. with triple processed ultrareverb speakers so you can enjoy an even louder BAZINGER than before.

In short I think what I’m trying to say is, Welcome back into my life, Dear, Sweet Ramtastic Internet!!

End of an Era

It’s been a while since I put digital pen to paper as it were apart from in the course of my work, finally that time has returned again and although this will be a short post it signifies putting certain things to rest.

First and foremost the demise of The Lost Clauses, gone are the dizzying heydays of yore where merriment, songs and beer filled the air. Gone also the days of cramming six people plus instruments and more beer into a tiny room to practise, laugh and drink. Six people from varying backgrounds, musical abilities and tastes who somehow chose to be thrust into this tiny room. Let it be said that rarely did tempers flare unlike other famous groups that have gone before us, of course I wouldn’t dare to proclaim ourselves to be famous by any stretch of the imagination, nevertheless as we looked out across the crowd when we played for San Juan I couldn’t help but think that it was our “Woodstock”.

Needless to say all things come to an end and we should learn from everything that passes, I will look back on those days with joy for many years to come and hope we will all do the same.

Work on “The Digital Rainbow” will continue forthwith with the intention to follow up with another story hot on its heels hopefully. Songwriting has taken the forefront of late and that appears to be slowing down now so other literary works can be finished and undertaken.

And now back to exam marking…………..

That Time of year

Well here we are in the festive season and I`m finally finding time to put pen to paper once again, although currently it`s to mark exams much to the disappointment of my students, especially since they are currently doing the the usual swathe of exams in the school.

Regarding myself I`ve moved into my little duplex and almost very nearly finished organising things. At least the living room, kitchen and bathroom are decent enough for visitors, the bedroom is however still in a state of “Flux”. It’s pretty quiet there most of the time especially when my neighbor isn’t screeching at her son.

The lack of internet at home does however drive me to distraction at times though, maybe it’s been a godsend in one way as this has allowed me to concentrate more on musical creativity(More to be said at a later date) and I’m quite pleased with the more recent ideas and how they’ve fleshed out.

My neighbours house is smothered in decorations already and I’m currently toying with the idea of actually putting up some token decorations, what do you think? It’ll be weird not going home this year so perhaps I’ll make the effort and get a little tree at least.

One week to go.

Yes that’s right just one week left till my Summer holidays start. It’s been a gruelling time but I can’t complain as the extra money has and will come in handy. Yes I know it’s strange taking summer holidays in September but for me it’s cooler and less expensive so it makes sense to do it that way.This last week will be especially busy and quite probably prevent me from writing any more of my story but better not to write than to try and force it or see it as a chore.

The pain in my knee has slowly subsided to a more or less dull ache and everything else healthwise appears to be fine.

Last week ended with a nice surprise because my one and only friend with whom I enjoy speaking Spanish (He’s French!!) has returned from his holidays and so we spent Friday evening discussing many things from the latest football scores which I hate to his soon to be born, as yet unamed son. Naming children is a difficult process, I know; I’ve done it. In fact, perhaps for the man this can be the most trying time, finding a name that he likes and that of course the mother also likes. How many people think about the child in this matter? Obviously it’s not really a good idea to wait until they can decide for themselves.

My new camera is performing spectacularly in my opinion. I still have much to learn about using it and photography of course and now the difficult decision of selling my old one or keeping it, sigh decisions decisions.

Anyway nothing more to speak about now so I’ll leave with a picture of my amigo.

 

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Summertime

The Summer is here! YAaaaaay (Said with an emphasized Diminuendo) Not so much complaining but one of those times when time seems to have stretched itself to make the least pleasurable things occupy an inordinately longer period than others.

I’ve finally finished my end/beginning of month tasks, minimal paperwork done, checked and redone. Work plan organised and reorganised a few times. So now I can settle into my Summer schedule of work, work and work, although I can’t complain there is a hefty chunk of the day that can be spent relaxing, writing, hopefully photography thrown in with a splash of music making,  whilst more or less everyone else I know is settling into their routine of holidaying, relaxing, doing nothing and of course catching up on all the things they couldn’t do before.

Last month I had the distinct impression that I was busy, but it was only this morning that I realised how busy, it’s quite surprising really and if this month is anything similar then it will possibly have been my busiest period in many years. So on this note I am cheerful as this will mean a more enjoyable holiday when it arrives for two reasons. The first because I will for sure need the rest and the second because I should be a little richer, having said this though a little belt tightening is nedded in more ways than one. The need to lose a few extra pounds is evident but also a tighter control on expenditure would not go amiss. Previous months have started to show results and so a continuation of these methods will hopefully result in smiles all round.

The Story has been slow going of late due to work and the oppresive heat that takes away all “ganas” to do anything amongst other things. Worryingly this next section leading up to the culmination and ending of the story has been the most difficult perhaps due to being a minor break or expansion of my original idea. I had toyed with the idea of removing it but I think it works and fits nicely with the way things are going. At any rate I’ll be back to the story this week.

Carrot soup and other inspirational flavours.

Another not so aptly titled blog entry but in some ways it’s correct.

I should start by saying that this is definitely not a cookery blog, but there may be a hint of that as we go along, much like today. If you manage to read all of today’s spouting there will indeed be a recipe at the end for the titular carrot soup.

This week has been quite tiresome, not in a bad way if that even makes sense, just in the sense that everything has been tiresome and necessary to do even the enjoyment of these things seemed to be missing something. What could it be I asked myself every day the same thing, lack of time, even though the clocks would indicate otherwise, then it dawned on me. Procrastination! Yes that killer of productivity that we all enjoy so much, like eating ice-cream, it is enjoyable, but is it productive? A glass of wine? Oh my yes I’d love one, relaxing in your favourite chair sipping and savouring the wine perhaps some delightful meaningless banter that everyone laughs at, smiles all around the room.

All such pleasant things but, what are you doing? Enjoying yourself, forging new friendships, reinforcing old ones. As endearing as these things are they have one thing in common, eaters of time!

Finding the right balance can be a problem and so today I realised that I had neglected things, cooking was one of them and so off to the kitchen to be creative with soup. My book! My writing! I protested, a pointless thing to do as arguing with yourself rarely brings coherent results. As the onions were sweating in the pan (rather like myself in our current season), as I chopped carrots, the words and images for the book started to swirl around in my head and then arrange themselves neatly like the cubes of carrot on the chopping board. Then of course I threw them into the pan and swirled them round whereupon they disintegrated into the mixture and my ideas also became dissarrayed. Adding a spoonful of thyme to the mixture, its sweet aroma wafted up and hit my senses, calming, ordering adding structure once again but again the structure was wrong. Simply one word after another will not do! Adding the stock and stirring it all up, the swirling pools of vegetables and herbs formed little pockets that flowed and merged into a fluid wholeness that was the makings of a hopefully nourishing soup, I turned down the heat, replaced the lid and headed for the computer and applied all that I had learned from this process to my continuing story. Will the recipe turn out well? The proof will be in the reading.

The soup finished and consumed felt good in my stomach.

Cream of carrot soup.

1 medium Onion chopped

5 large carrots diced or roughly chopped

1.5 ltrs of stock or water plus stock cubes etc Or 1 lt  if using next ingredient.

0.5 ltr milk (semi skimmed for my diet)

2 Spoons of white cornflour

1 teaspoon  Thyme

Quarter of a teaspoon of curry powder (Yes, Really.)

Half a teaspoon of freshly ground black pepper.

The method.

Heat a little oil in a deep saucepan add the onions and fry on a low heat for 6-10 minutes.

Add the diced carrot and the herbs/spices. turn up the heat and fry for a few minutes more.

Add the stock and boil until the carrot is sort or as I did until the liquid had reduced by almost a third. Remove from the heat and blend, I use a stick mixer. At this point mix the cornflour with the milk and add to the soup. Return to the heat and bring back to the boil slowly. Eat!

A mere mortal.

Today just hours before the grim realisation that I am just a mere mortal, I never thought I was a god per se but obviously overestimated my ability or underestimated the task I had set for myself, perhaps vastly would have been a good word to have used here also. The task was to write my “Short Story” The Digital Rainbow on the fly without a draft or a story bible or in fact any record except for the ever growing document itself, standing at a mere 5000 or so words, not so many in relative terms, War and peace contains over 560,000 in the English version and then Hemingway’s “For sale. Baby shoes. Never worn.” at six (Article Source: http://EzineArticles.com/1305285.)

Seemingly an easy thing to do, not so I find, as all weekend I have been…..well,erm….. relaxing, spending time with friends and trying to start the next chapter. Storyline clear as crystal in my head, no doubts about the direction in which to go. The problem? Details, details, details. More specifically 2 rather than a multitude. The solution? A piece of software I could run on my computer and plug myself into and the story in my head would be automagically  typed out for me complete with any pretty images that would assist in telling the story, sadly this is still lacking from our arsenal of technological triumphs.

There are, however, some excellent pieces of software to create a story bible, which I dismissed as being too time consuming, not worth the effort etc etc. What a fool! And so realising my “NOOB” error I return humbled to the computer to at least get some kind of summary structured to aid my failing synapses when neccessary.

Of course the comparisons quoted here are pointless and just there to give extreme examples for us mere mortals to consider when setting ourselves a task and also to take heed of the advice we receive from those who went before us. Remember advice is only bad when it doesn’t work.