Wednesday, February 23, 2005

peace and fucking

Nathan Barley: "stupid people think it's cool, clever people think it's a joke – also cool." Chris Morris combined with my other hero, Charlie Brooker, and based on a brilliant character from his TV Go Home ravings. It's not the best Morris, but still better than 99% of TV and that's enough for me.

(C4, Friday nights)

Monday, February 21, 2005

a funny thing happened on friday

I got a call from a guy from a design agency who I did my first (and last) commercial photo-shoot for. It seems, after almost 2 years, that the piece I wrote on my site detailing my experience has been read by someone at Teachfirst (the company that commissioned the photos) and they weren't very happy. I'm infamous at last! I've taken down the contentious piece for the moment, but it will be reinstated with a new disclaimer as soon as I get around to it.

It's a very interesting development after all the Joe Gordon/waterstone's stuff and makes me wonder who read it and how they came across it (obviously my prediction in the piece that no one if concerned would be likely to ever read proved untrue!), especially as it had been sitting on my site for about a year. A google search for the company didn't bring up my piece until page 8 of the results. Naturally I'm not bothered about reputation as I'd decided at the time I hated all that commercial shit, which was reflected in the fact that I spent most of the essay slagging off myself. But it has got me thinking about how binding a contract is; does the fact I did some work for the company compel me to be silent about them forevermore? Do they have any legal power to make me remove what I wrote? (for the time being I've removed it because I've no problem with the guy at the design agency who seems like a nice chap). We shall see I suppose.

it's always better on holiday...'s always better on holiday/so much better on holiday/that's why we only work when we need the money.
Franz Ferdinand, Jacqueline

Certainly, we idlers should be campaigning for more holidays. Jobs might be bearable if we attended them only three or four days a week, and for three or four hours a day.
Tom Hodgkinson, How to be Idle

I think if I had two or three quiet days of just sheer thinking I'd upset everything... I ought to go to the office one day and blow out my boss's brains. That's the first step.
Henry Miller

Yay! We booked a holiday.

ode to snow

Weather warnings? Where are the weather celebrations? Snow is great. I want snow, lots of snow! Clearly this fear of snow is an extension of our current work, work, work ethic. It cannot snow, we might have to take time off! Might have to spend a day sitting by the fire, looking out the window at the beauty of a crisp white landscape instead of going to work. Might have to spend some time sledging and building snowmen and having snowball fights. What’s the problem with this? Only that we run the risk of realising that the job is not that important after all, not so vital that a day out, missing that meeting, will cause the world to implode.

Yes, I’ve been reading How to be Idle again, but the conclusion that many chapters of the book draw are so important that they should be reiterated again and again. Idleness is offensive to those in charge, idleness gives time to think, time to plan and scheme and have fun, time to relax or create; it is time well spent, not like the time wasted in the pointless productivity of gainful employment, the productivity that keeps us all busy in unnecessary labours, all under the yoke of wage-slavery, happy and unthinking while someone else lays down our future for us. It can be seen in those who flock to the shops on boxing day, unable to stomach more than a single day of enforced idleness, a single day where they are responsible for entertaining themselves. And it can be seen in those who bemoan the idea of snow, those who cannot comprehend that fact that this stuff is fun!

Where does it go wrong? As a child snow was always fun, never more so than when it involved an extra day off school. This legacy is evident in kids films – Snow Day, Jack Frost, Home Alone – but never in the adult world (save, perhaps, South Park). When exactly is it that it becomes so terrible, when do these adults lose their sense of fun and enjoyment. When does snow stop being so magical, a welcome frosting to the winter months?

So welcome the snow (I keep trying, if only it would stop melting so quickly!), welcome idleness, welcome time out. Down with the warnings, up with a celebratory weather service that encourages days off, encourages joy and life. “Stay at home, have fun, don’t drive” is so much better than “danger, if you must drive be careful, accident warning, severe weather!”.

Saturday, February 19, 2005


Hooray! The email is sent, a decision is made. Phew.

Thursday, February 17, 2005

what's going on today?

Life choices. What to do? I'm trying to choose a phd but it feels like such a lottery. There are so many parameters to try and balance up: interest, scope, type of work involved, supervisor, calibre of the research group... etc. How to decide on the next three years? I suppose, if nothing else, at least any of the options is a decision on the next few years, unlike the last three years which have been pretty much left to fate. Not wasted, but not quite as intended either.

Ended up spending ages fiddling with a new hard disk for my PC today. Like a tortured metaphor it sent my head spinning over all these options... all I wanted to do was increase my disk space, but to maximise my new drive I'll probably need to get a newer version of windows as my current pirated copy won't accept the required updates. I don't have the time to do this right now, although I do seem to have found the time required to fiddle for long enough to work out that this solution is the required one. How is it that there is so much potential, but the solution is always obtuse and difficult? Why is it that every day seems ripe with possibility but is, invariably, wasted before you realise?

I'm forever doomed to worry that all the ideas I keep having can never be explored, then further put off by the realisation that the exploration is probably pointless in the end anyway. As is the corollary of non-exploration. I want to explore the miniature, the texture of life, the how and why of this place and these things. On the other hand I just want it all to work nicely, without hitch and hassle.

Wednesday, February 16, 2005

oh my

Just had a great few days in edinburgh including not getting eaten by sharks... more on that later, and hopefully some pictures.

I'm also excited about the enthusiast. It was picked up by the guardian review this weekend and the preview on the website looks ace: plain living and high thinking indeed!

Sunday, February 06, 2005

project update

Woohoo, finished(ish) the site for thisisthewaytheworldends. Pretty pleased with it all, there are still a few more illustrations I'd like to have a play with and the possibility of Paul's sketches replacing my crude flying saucers, but these are on-going tweaks – it's finished enough to be 'live' so I'm happy! It's also my first paid bit of web design, a few more like this and I'll actually feel justified in calling myself a designer as opposed to a chancer with a computer.

If anyone has any comments it would be useful. My main concerns are the size of various elements on-screen. I've got a big monitor so it can be quite hard to guage text & picture sizes that are also appropriate for smaller monitors (is the header too large?). Most of the images should be no more than 10k, so it should be easily downloadable on dial-up, but let me know if you think otherwise.

tales from the shop floor

Tuesday, tidying some books in the computing section while I swear under my breath – Dick Dastardly style – at the uncivil behaviour that doesn’t put things back where they were taken from. Or, often, doesn’t even put them back anywhere. But this is merely the normal level of schaaa-fruzzza-Mutley, the annoyance that surfaces when I have to do the same job I did yesterday and the day before and the day before because everyone else is a squealing Gucci little piggy. Exceptional muttering only surfaces at an exceptional event: the two books I pick up that are stuck together with a load of snot. A big loogie. Who has done this? And why, won’t someone please tell me why.

Friday, another “person” after a copy of Being Jordan. She has the standard issue equipment for a Jordan fan: bleached blond hair, lots of orange foundation, fashionable clothing, gold, gold, gold, infant (mewling), poor diction, lack of patience, heat magazine (suspected). Ugh. When I go to look for the book she comments that it must be difficult to find a book amongst so many other books, she then goes on to say how frightening she finds all these books. Books! Everywhere! Just imagine such a hellish world!

Later I hear a similar tale from a colleague. A woman was shocked and appalled by the high price of a textbook her partner was buying: “£70?! But it’s just words and paper!”. Ah, all just words, crumbling away to nothing. But doing it so peacefully and so refinedly, unlike all these yahoos.

But Monday (yes, a flashback) was undoubtedly the highlight. How I smiled. My appraisal notes were left in my pigeon hole for me to sign, along with a note from my appraiser detailing the procedure and feedback from said appraisal. Apparently the deputy manager recently put in charge of promotional gubbins was “concerned” about promoting me thanks to the “incident” with that bitch of an old woman some months prior. I love this side of business, that anything, no matter how minor, will be held over you for years to come in order for the company to exhort you in some way, be it withholding promotion or pressure to do some unwholesome task. Again you wonder, why bother to do anything good if only the bad bits are cited? Indeed, why bother to put in any effort daily at all? And businesses wonder why they have problems retaining staff (but no problems recruiting willing managers...?).