Wednesday, 30 December 2009
Monday, 28 December 2009
"When you read the book," says Pattinson, looking appropriately pallid and interesting even without makeup, "it's like, 'Edward Cullen was so beautiful I creamed myself.' I mean, every line is like that. He's the most ridiculous person who's so amazing at everything. I think a lot of actors tried to play that aspect. I just couldn't do that. And the more I read the script, the more I hated this guy, so that's how I played him, as a manic-depressive who hates himself. Plus, he's a 108-year-old virgin so he's obviously got some issues there."
Oh, also, you remember the Very Secret Diaries of Cassandra Claire? The LotR parodies that had me in stitches way back when? if you never read them, the link's in my "Interesting thing of the day" link list to the left. Well, the Twilight lolfans (that's what they're called) have made so many parodies that I can't possibly link to them all, so instead just check out this lady's blog. She seems to be spearheading the operation, and more power to her.
Wednesday, 23 December 2009
Monday, 21 December 2009
Look, it's not my fault ok?
I am suitably ashamed of myself.
Let me explain from the beginning.
I'm much more into twitter than facebook, so some trends just pass me by. Farmville was one of these. I was aware of its existence, and vaguely knew what it was - a rubbish, farming-related version of the Sims - but I had absolutely no interest in it. Rightly so. ('Scuse me, I need to collect the eggs.) But a couple of months ago, all that changed forever...
My friend Helen from university is great. She's fun, intelligent, and aside from a bizarre love for Twilight (more about that another time), she's got great taste; so when she and I went to the library to 'work' - i.e. check facebook and twitter respectively - I was intrigued by seeing her play Farmville.
The colours were so bright, and the simple pleasure of clicking on cartoonish shapes to make them do things appealed to me. It still does, in fact. It's the middle of winter; I'll take colour where I can get it. So, I gave it a go. Purely for research purposes, or so I told myself - I'd find out what all the fuss is about, then move on to worthier pastures. (Just a sec, I'm planting artichokes.) I made my own little farm, two squares by two. I planted and sowed and harvested, bought and sold and milked; eventually reaching the point where I could only progress by adding people as neighbours.
I looked at the list of my facebook friends with farms, and in that moment, some final shred of dignity flailed, coughed, and gave up entirely. I added them. That was weeks ago now, and my little farm is prospering with the help of people I haven't spoken to in years. My news feed is an endless list of my 'achievements', requests and demands, all automatically generated by the game. I can only imagine how annoying that must be! (Excuse me, I just need to go harvest my wheat.)
Some people might think that it's too time-absorbing, but I don't find that- (hang on, my cow needs milking.)
I don't think that it- (Ooh! My apple tree's ripe)
It's not- (Hold on while I fertilize someone's peppers)
Thursday, 8 October 2009
Name-dropping's terrible, isn't it? Terrible.
Getting fangirl all over your laptop screen, that's pretty terrible too.
Which is why I'm classifying this as a fascinating insight into the phenomenon of the celebrity vs. the everyday, as seen through a web 2.0 lens, and the use and impact of social technology in intra-professional communication. So there.
Monday, 5 October 2009
It is a fact universally acknowledged that geeks and teenage boys, left to themselves, will make awesome science experiments and upload the videos to YouTube. Who am I to not take advantage of this fact.
To get us started, watch what happens when you drop an object into superheated water:
Conversely, look what supercooled water does:
A simple party trick - whiskey and water changing places:
This is a Rubens Tube (dancing fire!):
Non-newtonian liquid on speakers (aka suicidal gloop monster):
Watch what happens when you run electricity through water:
Of course, it wouldn't really be a YouTube science roundup without Diet Coke and Mentos. Enjoy.
Monday, 28 September 2009
FOF 2: the photo was sadly deleted, sorry about that.
Friday, 25 September 2009
Well, what a week... on Tuesday, I had my first 'proper' job interview. I'd been saying for a few days that I felt really confident about it it, but as I took the 15-minute train journey to Penarth, I got increasingly jittery. The truth is, I had no idea what to expect. My good friend Tony had given me a few tips, told me what questions to ask etc -and I was racking my brain trying to remember them.
I arrived about an hour early, taking punctuality to new and unnecessary levels. Just as well I did, really, as I got lost. I managed to arrive a reasonable ten minutes early, filled out a form, talked to some people, and then was led into a side-room where I would either be murdered or interviewed. As soon as it became apparent that it was the latter, I relaxed, and answered every question confidently and with a smile on my face. They'll let me know in two weeks, and I'm quietly confident. Can you still be 'quietly confident' if you're telling everyone that you think you got it? Let's say yes.
The next day, I went back to university for the first time in almost a year. The second I got talking to a couple of lads outside my class, I knew that this year would be interesting. The one with a ponytail had perfected the sleazy wink that has been used (tragically, quite successfully) on me in the past, and one with ginger dreadlocks and a massive coat seemed like a generally lovely chap. The class itself was more or less what I expected, but I'll be honest, I was more interested in Mat and Ben, for those are their names. They made me laugh, they were friendly, and I ended up spending the day with them.
Mat was handing out CVs in town, and ended up getting an interview while Ben and I talked on the steps outside. It was fascinating to speak to someone with such a different philosophy to myself, who nevertheless seemed very much on my wavelength. I went back to Ben's and watched half of Dark City before I had to go.
Today was a much quieter one, but I'm delighted to say that I have made a personal breakthrough! Ohyes! It's a matter of record that I have never, ever managed to draw a man that doesn't look horribly deformed or like a serial rapist. Often both. But today, I drew this chap:
... and I'm really quite pleased with him.
Monday, 21 September 2009
So, you think zombies are scary? You know NOTHING.
It's no secret that some children's programmes freak me the hell out - the boohbahs in particular should never ever ever have existed - but, combine them with a zombie apocalypse, and you've really shaken me up.
A fair few of you have said that you have said that you visit this blog directly, without the use of RSS feeds, so for your convenience I'm going to post on a more regular basis. I shall go for Sundays and Thursdays to start with, and we'll see how that goes. I'm likely to post them in the early hours of the following morning, so hopefully I can provide you with a bit of monday-and-friday reading.
Also, I'm going to go through my list of Interesting Things in the left-hand column, and delete the ones that I feel haven't really stood the test of time. Hopefully this will make it better for killing time with.
Love and such,
Anna x x
Saturday, 19 September 2009
Right, quick question: do you generally read this blog by:
a) Going to the website,
b) Checking your RSS feed (e.g. Google Reader), or
c) other means?
This matters for two reasons. ONE: If you've all been coming to the website directly all this time, then it's high time I switched to a regular schedule, and TWO: if you HAVEN'T been coming directly, now is the time to do so because I've revamped the CSS and would appreciate feedback.
Look at it shine so prettily.
In other news, a friend of mine asked that I blog about my experiences with the NHS. It can't have escaped your attention that The Powers That Be in America are contemplating reforming their health system. Instead of rebuilding from the ground up, Obama et al have decided to make (necessary and overdue) changes to their existing system. This has spurred hundreds of Twitterers to contribute to the hashtag: "We love the NHS."
There are doubtless hundreds of people better qualified to talk about the NHS than I. However, I suppose if I'm not an average person, who is? So these are my experiences:
When I had hearing problems at age 6, I got grommits, and we didn't have to pay.
When I developed asthma at age 9, they gave me inhalers, and we didn't have to pay.
When I needed stitches - when my periods went haywire - when I had a brush with depression - medical care was always available to me, and I never had to worry about cost. (Not everyone qualifies for free prescriptions, but I always have done.) I take it for granted. It's not until I talk to one of my friends in America and they mention some health trouble - back pain, or a stomach bug, or anything small - that I remember how lucky we have it. Because in most cases my friends are students or young workers, and they can't afford the hundreds of dollars it sometimes costs to get healthcare without insurance.
In the past few weeks I've learned more about how expensive it can be to get insurance in the US, particularly if you've got a preexisting condition. I've learned about the caps they put on their policies (so if your special needs child hits the upper limit, they cancel your insurance).
As luck would have it, I'm talking to someone in the UK right this minute who has bad ear pain. So what's he going to do? Go see the doctor, of course, it's a no-brainer. And he won't be left any poorer for it, whatever the diagnosis is. So, yes. The NHS is far from perfect, but I consider us blessed to have this system.
Healthcare is a right, not a privilege.
Monday, 14 September 2009
The first one I found in that library was the Story of Tracy Beaker, by Jacqueline Wilson: a book I chose entirely by its cover, and loved entirely for its imperfect, attitude-filled heroine. It took several years and several readings before I saw all the hints at just how biased she was as a narrator.
Between my newfound love of reading, writing, drawing, and staring out of windows, I viewed other kids as quite an inconvenient necessity - much like the set work our teachers gave us when I had better things to do.
Middle school was worse in a lot of ways. The constant buzz of other people in the background got louder, and it became clear that they didn't all approve of me. Naturally, my response to this was to spend more time alone in the library. I discovered Trillions by Nicholas Fisk when I was eleven or twelve, and that's how sci-fi got me. I read the Chronicles of Narnia (all seven, repeatedly), and that's how fantasy got me. I found that after a while, if you read hard enough, the buzz faded altogether and I could ignore the fact that I didn't really understand how other people worked.
In high school, however, there was no such refuge. The library was where people went to hang out, and even Discworld couldn't distract me from the fact that I needed to learn to interact. It took a couple of years and some very tolerant friends before I understood what 'other people' are at the age of fifteen.
It finally started to make a kind of sense when I read - I forget which book now, but it echoed my own realisation - that "everybody is 'I'." The baffling buzz of a thousand confusing students became almost comprehensible as the clamour of a thousand voices trying to be heard. And at the age of seventeen, I learned the golden key to unlocking a person, nine times out of ten: smiling, saying hello, and being interested. And that the remaining one time isn't necessarily my fault, and it isn't necessarily theirs.
Am I happier now? Yes, in a lot of ways. If I ever have kids, I'll try to teach them about people before I teach them to read, although both skills must be learned over a lifetime. I miss being completely swallowed by books, it doesn't happen nearly as much these days; and I still misread people a lot of the time - but I still stare out of windows and daydream. So that's alright.
Sunday, 6 September 2009
Hello, hello! It's been over two months since I last updated my blog. That's a very odd feeling, you know. This blog is my baby, but I wasn't doing you lot justice by saying "I'll update properly later" every week or so.
Y'see, I do care what you think. Every new reader makes me smile, and every comment gives me something to think about. But even apart from that, I'd keep this just for me. You know I would! Just like I did four years ago when I began, and nobody read it but me and an American radio presenter called Les. (I liked Les. I wonder how he is now?)
It makes to begin this post, as I have done with so many others, with a recap of what I've been up to lately. Just over a month ago I went home to the Isle of Wight, my beautiful island that I'd been missing so much. It was exactly what I needed. Some valuable family time, including a family reunion with my gorgeous, newest cousin Josie. Doesn't seem like that long ago I was celebrating her birth (I know for a fact I wrote a post in honour of her arrival, but I can't seem to find it now), and now she looks like this!
So, yes, there was an element of "My Haven't You Grown" happening in my head. At least now, I know that when friends of the family said that to me, they were secretly thinking "Good Lord I'm old."
Oh, speaking of big sisters, my biggest (in spirit) sis just got engaged! I couldn't be more delighted for her. Very exciting times!
After that little refresher course in Reasons My Family Drive Me Crazy (But I Love 'Em), I went to Southampton and the cruise began... it was a Cunard cruise, which essentially meant that I was outclassed by everyone and everything right down to the tablecloths, but that I got treated like royalty. Here follow some pictures of what I got up to:
Danger in Italy
Ape on Gibraltar
All dressed up
I'm back in Cardiff now, getting on with all the stuff that needs getting on with when you've been away for a month. And looking for a job. There's just no avoiding it any more, finances won't allow me to stick my head in the sand, so I need to get out there and do an honest day's work like everyone else! So you can look forward to lots of complaining about a) not having a job or b) how my job sucks. Those appear to be my only options. Bummer. I'm also trying very very hard not to bite my nails, but you know the saying - old habits die hard. And this is the Bruce Willis of old habits.
And, just to leave you with some Interesting Things, I've had two songs stuck in my head lately - Coin-Operated Boy by the Dresden Dolls:
and Surfin' Bird, which goes like this (yes, I curse Family Guy every time I get it playing on the mental gramophone.)
Friday, 26 June 2009
Rather than leave you all in the dark and hoping that I'd come up with something, I've decided to put this blog on hiatus until September. I don't want to keep doing these rubbishy little updates; you lovely people deserve better! So if you can wait, or remember to come back in a few months, there will hopefully be a fresh start for Almost Daily Exploits, and for me.
Tuesday, 23 June 2009
Tuesday, 16 June 2009
I don't sweat.
Not like normal people, anyway. I've been out in the blazing sun all day, cycling up hills and through traffic, and I'm just not sweating.
I decided to ask my body why this is.
"Sweat?" she gasped, clearly appalled at the suggestion. "Everybody sweats, how frightfully common. No, I think my system is much better."
Ah yes, her system. Because when a body gets hot, it has to cool off one way or another; and when mine gets hot, I end up looking like a socially-conscious tomato that's just farted.
Thanks, body. Thanks a lot.
In other news, the photo course is going very well, and I'm still taking hundreds of fire photos. Because these guys are awesome, and crazy talented. I found out that Gav can do staff-twirling too the other day, he's been keeping that one quiet!
As always, the photos can be viewed large on my Flickr page.
Sunday, 7 June 2009
Stupid changeable weather.
There comes a point, on days like this, when the abruptness of the weather change makes you question your choice of clothes. For me, today, it was at about the point the rain turned my t-shirt seethrough.
On the plus side, I did meet a lot of friendly people on the way home!
Speaking of friendly people, I was trying to explain Twitter to Ross last night. We were trying to explain to Dan why friendships with people you'd never met were perfectly valid and rewarding, and he raised the very interesting argument that I could be going out and meeting real people in the real world. Which is, of course, a perfectly valid point, and therefore made me want to cry and hit him with the keyboard until he stopped twitching.
Because, I mean, it was all very well being the introvert when I lived in Plymouth. Understandable, if not excusable. But now that I've moved to the promised land, why does it still feel so far beyond my reach to actually meet people by myself?
Well, the answer's obvious really. I'm horribly insecure. I don't really feel worthy of the friends I do have, and the thought of trying to make more is as daunting a prospect as it was when I was nine.
So! Food for thought there, for me anyway. Hope you're all well.
Friday, 5 June 2009
It's happened. I've run into a full-blown case of writer's block. I've bought a beautiful new notepad, deserving of only the very best of first novels to be written in it, and it's managed to shut down every form of writing.
I can't write stories, or even poems, which I always found much easier. I'm really choking on this blog post, aware as I am that it's not my best! I can't think of anything to draw either. It wouldn't be true to say that I've got nothing to express, exactly, because I am going through stuff; I just seem to be struggling to express it.
Fortunately, in the meantime, the photography is going from strength to strength. So until I can chop this block into little pieces with my pointy writer words, these will have to do.
Tuesday, 26 May 2009
Well well well, three holes in the ground. Looks like I've been tagged by the lovely Lacey! And like a moth to a flame, or a fat kid to junk food, I'm drawn to a good meme even though I know they're not good for me.
I'm supposed to write seven things I like, then tag seven people. Sounds simple enough, but I think I'll try for the more... unusual... likes. Everybody likes chocolate; I want (as always!) to be a bit different.
1) I like lying on the floor. Or sitting on the floor. I feel more comfortable, more confident, and more like I've chosen my own place to be. Lying on my back staring at the ceiling has the added side-effect of making me giggle uncontrollably for absolutely no reason. Peculiar, maybe, but a good laugh is always enjoyable! So, yes. Being on the floor.
2) I like thinking about ambitious interior design projects that never come to fruition. From the bedslide that I wanted when I was ten, to the canvas wall hangings that would look like doors and windows into other worlds, I've always had a 'dream room' in mind. I still think the wall hangings would be ace, actually.
3) I like my brother. My best friend growing up was always baffled by this; she had one big sister and they fought all the time, but my brother has always been one of my best friends. We have a similar sense of humour, and as this source of all wisdom says, "Be nice to your siblings; they are the best link to your past and the people most likely to stick with you in the future. Understand that friends come and go,but for the precious few you should hold on. Work hard to bridge the gaps in geography and lifestyle because the older you get, the more you need the people you knew you when you were young."
4) I like poetry! I like poetry so much! I enjoy the visceral feel of Salome by Carol Ann Duffy; the macabre tone of Poe's Raven; the earthy vocal poetry of Scroobius Pip, and the mellow introspection of Wordsworth. For some reason, poetry is the art form that resonates with me the most. One of my (very few) ambitions is to get some of my own published.
5) I like my bears. I have three: Strangler (so called because he is golden brown), Thomas, and a little white bear called Susan(I don't have any photos of Susan online. She's white, holds three red roses, and you can record and play messages by squeezing her paws). They are adorable. I put Strangler's heart in myself, at the Bear Factory, so he's very special. Thomas is very special because he's Gavin's as well, and Susan is special because I met her in a charity shop and took her home to Gav. I love my bears.
6) I like my post-shower routine. I take long showers, about half an hour usually, but that's nothing to what I'm like afterwards. It's a constant source of frustration to Gav that I like to set aside an entire evening to shave, moisturise, cleanse, tone, pluck and buff the appropriate areas. It is a lot of unnecessary hassle, but there's something very soothing about taking a bit of time to care for my appearance.
7) I like me. Not every day, but enough. I'm ok.
I won't nominate anyone, not this time, but feel free to write your own. Drop me a link in the comments if you do, I'd love to see what you write!
Oh and lest I forget, the Interesting Thing of the Day is the legendary HitchHiker's Guide to the Galaxy text adventure! After all, it was apparently Towel Day today. Rock on. Now, just to warn you, this game is damn near impossible. Only play it if you have a healthy disregard for such concepts as 'sanity,' 'savepoints' and 'free time.'
Tuesday, 19 May 2009
They are not bad children, the ones who go missing. Red Riding Hood, for example, was raised as well as most (and a great deal better than some.) She merely fell prey, as so many do, to the irresistable lure of the woods.
How many have been tempted astray by a wandering moonbeam? A white rabbit? The brightest flowers (always, somehow, just a little further off)?
The stars distract me. My feet to stray from the path, beaten by the feet of a thousand men; the only sure way home. My eyes turned skywards, I mindlessly walk into shadow so deep that I never
Persephone, Alice, and me - we three
Went down to the forest to play.
Seph gave a shiver and ran to the river,
Just Alice and me got away.
Myself and Alice well knew, we two,
It's bad to stay out on your own.
We stayed close together 'til she chased a feather
And left me out there on my own.
Tuesday, 12 May 2009
Wil's just written a blog post that I am somehow unable to comment on, so I'm writing my response here. I'll try to draw it to his attention - maybe wrap it around a bouncy ball and throw it down his chimney - but the likelihood is he won't read it. Never mind eh!
See, all this kerfuffle is about this video saying it's ok to be a geek. That you don't have to play D+D to be passionate about tech things. Wil feels that this casts 'traditional' geeks, like himself, in a derogatroy light.
Wil, I think I speak for all of me when I say: WAT.
I can't tell you anything about Slackware and Debian, am I not a geek? Or have I accrued enough Geek Points in other areas to be grudgingly permitted to associate with those like you?
"It's like a slap in the face to be associated with these people who claim to be like me." I know it's not what you intended, but that looks like dickery from here. It looks like an elitist jab at people who are trying to redefine what was once an insult. You've embraced the stereotype, they're challenging it. Does that make them wrong? Just how separatist do you have to get about a label that can't even be defined?
I agree with Wyldfire42. However much it might irk you to be lumped in with celebrities, geek isn't binary - it's a spectrum.
Thursday, 7 May 2009
Nathan "Flutebox" Lee is probably the best, and most certainly the best-known, at what he does.
And as for Beardyman, he's undoubtedly the most entertaining beatboxer in Britain! There's a reason he was the UK champ two years running, know what I mean?
Both performers became 'internet famous' through their YouTube videos. Odds are you've already seen this one, but I'm sure you won't mind seeing it again!
This is my first beatbox-related video in a while, but feel free to click the relevant tag at the bottom and see my history here. It's a colourful one that involves sleeping with (in the same room as) seven strangers, finding true love, and throwing up on a vicar. Just so you know.
Saturday, 2 May 2009
Well, I've been wanting to write this post for ages, but I really wanted to take my time with it. This post is about something very precious and important to me.
The church I went to growing up was boring. Dull, dull, dull. Don't get me wrong: I love it very much, and it will always feel like my home, but it was just impossible to get excited about singing those dirges from the 19th century. It was geared towards the older people, which made sense as there were loads of them, but for the kids... well, it failed to thrill us.
Which was why the Bandstand was so special.
That's what it was called, the Bandstand. It felt like a separate world. It happened in the summer, late on a Sunday night, and it was like nothing else I've ever experienced...
(I'm speaking, of course, with the rose-tinted glasses of nostalgia perched on my nose. That's often how it goes with things that end before you grow up. I'm almost glad it did; doubtless it would never have been the same if I'd gone there as a teenager, sulking and scowling my way through the hymns...)
This is how it would happen: our mother, not wanting us to get tired while we were there, would insist that we take a nap beforehand. Let me tell you, never in my life was it harder to sleep than on a beautiful summer day before the Bandstand. Mum would close the heavy yellowy-gold curtains of our bedroom, and there in the yellow-gold light, we'd try (and often fail) to sleep.
Then we'd go to a little park in a little town on a little island. The birds in the aviary would chirp and sing as we passed, walking towards the river. Bright lights would illuminate the stepping stones, the beautiful plants, and the magical, elusive little fish that flitted through the water.
Most of my siblings fell in that river at one point! when it was my turn, it was a consequence of a selfless act... one of about three I committed before the age of 12. Maybe that's why I remember it. My brother was sailing a little leaf-boat past the stepping stones, reaching out to catch it as it floated past, until (inevitably) he let it go beyond the reach of his little boy arms. So, me being on Big Sister duty, I stretched to catch it... and fell in. The lights made everything so strange and beautiful, and I swear that in that half a second I saw the bright orange fishes swimming around me.
We weren't allowed to stay on the stepping stones, or to climb the trees, or to play in the park for long, though. Because over by the bandstand structure itself, in front of a little raised and covered platform near the trees, a tiny congregation would gather in the fading light as the night grew colder, singing from a little booklet of hymns. A friendly man with a goatee played the keyboard from the platform, playing the songs that we rarely sang outside of this one special occasion. I often wondered how the people who were so stiff and formal in a building on Sunday mornings, could be so at peace in the breathtaking wonder of nature?
Three or four minutes away from those harmonies that rose above the enthusiastic midges, was a playpark - a magical place for us kids. We'd go there every time, pretend the roundabout was taking us to places that only existed in our imaginations. And the swings! When you got them high enough, right at the top of the arc, you could see over the hedge to the edge of the world, where the sun set over neverending ocean, and nothing else. Just sea and sky. For those brief seconds, I could rise above all the world and be so completely free.
Even if there was never a God, that would be enough.
I know these songs will mean nothing to you, but to me, they mean so much. If you want to hear them, and you've got Spotify - I've only managed to remember / track down these three - click this link:
This is a really long shot, but there was one song I remember the most. It was the one people would always be so eager to sing, another song that was unique to that time and that place - so much so that it's not online. Not anywhere. I've written what I remember of the lyrics below... if you can tell me anything about it, I'd be so grateful!
It's a new life, oh how He changed me
A new life, He rearranged me,
A new life, richer and fuller,
It's a wonderful, wonderful life!
Gone is the old life and gone are its chains,
Gone are the wrinkles and gone are the stains,
Gone is the darkness and gone is the night,
I have found Jesus, the truth and the life...
I went back once, years ago, and took these pictures. So although it wasn't the same - how could it be? - I at least have these reminders.
Monday, 27 April 2009
I have to say, over the past two years, due to the company I keep, I've found myself appreciating the darker side of humour. The kind of humour that (not to put too fine a point on it) is considered offensive to many. That's why, when I saw a cartoon about Stephen Hawking that many would consider 'distasteful,' I did have a guilty chuckle.
I'm beginning to suspect that this dark streak is shared by none other than the Professor himself. My evidence?
Well, to start with, he's played a parody of himself: in Dilbert, Red Dwarf, Futurama and the Simpsons - as well as being the only person to play themselves in an episode of Star Trek: TNG.
Of course, all that could be merely courting publicity. Plenty of celebrities parody themselves without ever really 'getting' the joke - I'm looking at you, Britney - but what do you think of these?
here and here, for example). Stephen Hawking himself, of course, has asked for the original.
If anyone has a right to decide whether that's 'allowed' to be funny or not, it's him, surely! I hope you'll join me in wishing the Prof a speedy recovery. Get Well Soon, Stephen Hawking.
Friday, 24 April 2009
I haven't really updated people on my life in a while. One of the reasons I started blogging was so that old friends could check in on me and see how I was doing. With that in mind, this is what I've been doing lately:
I've started that photography course! The first day was on Tuesday. It was fun, explained things nice and clearly, and I've got high hopes for the coming few weeks. At on point we were left to roam the streets for a while taking photos with a particular theme in mind, and this was a LOT more fun than ambling about by myself! I took this one during that free-range half hour:
I've been getting to the gym more regularly, which is already making a difference. I still feel fat and wobbly, but at least I can do sit-ups now! No kidding, I couldn't do one the first time I went. I plan on getting better, especially now that the gauntlet's been thrown down...
I went to this thing called Trydan today. It's pronounced "trudd-en," for no good reason other than that it's Welsh *shrug*. Crazy language, I'm telling you. Anyway, it's basically a Cardiff social media café (nerdy people talking), and it's fantastic! I finally got to meet @carlmorris, who is a lovely and very interesting chap. I'm thinking of getting on the Wiki and suggesting that we introduce board games to the process... we meet at the Juno Lounge, which conveniently provides board games! Must check that out. I'd love to run a connect-4 tournament. Or Chess Wars! Amazing.
Right! the other thing I wanted to do was catch up on all the "interesting thing of the days" that I've been steadily accruing and forgetting to share. So, with apologies for the link bombardment, here we go:
Tweenbots. Little cardboard robots that need human help to get to their destination. I like to see it as evidence of basic human goodness.
Freakangels. I'm nothing short of ashamed that I haven't posted this before. It's a stunning online graphic novel (worlds apart from a webcomic). The art and story are superb, and the fact that its creator is a mad bastard should not dissuade you from enjoying it. It may even enhance the experience.
Datamancer. I've written about steampunk before, and Datamancer's breathtaking computer mods have come to epitomise steampunk design for many. I mean, c'mon, look at this laptop. It's a thing of beauty!
Alright, I think that's your lot, hopefully you'll be hearing from me again soon.
Tuesday, 21 April 2009
You are being manipulated.
Maybe you've seen this video. Maybe, as with so many of the commenters, you've been moved to tears. The world is in uproar over this performance. More people have seen this video than watched Obama's victory speech. So what is it that makes her so special?
You are being manipulated.
Well, she has a wonderful voice, but we all know that's only half of it. The point is, she has a wonderful voice despite not looking like a star. See the looks of doubt and mockery sprinkled throughout the audience, and even the judges. The audience think she's a freak. The judges are playing their parts well.
Then Susan Boyle sings, and she can sing. It's a smack in the face. It's a shock. It's the ultimate ugly duckling story: a sad life story, the victim of bullying; ugly, yet quirky and irrepressably cheerful (with undertones of melancholy) - the 'talent scouts' who approved her submission must have thought they'd hit the jackpot.
I am being cynical, I know, but cynicism is merited with this breed of 'talent show.' How many ugly girls with beautiful voices do they turn away in a day? How many do they pressure and ridicule because it makes good TV? The people in charge of these programmes are in complete control of every detail. I expect every wiggle of the hips, every cheeky smile that fell from Susan's stage was subtly suggested behind the scenes.
"This isn't some contrived media event from the pop-culture factory. This is real." So claims Steve Rosenbaum of the Huffington Post. Steve, you underestimate the factory; they planned it, they filmed it, they edited it to take full advantage of every aspect of this story, and they fed it to the world.
I'm guessing it has worked better than even they expected. Everyone who works for that show, who stands to make a profit, who makes a living from playing these games - I bet they're delighted that this has gone viral. And good for Susan, I say, and I hope she enjoys it; because when the glow's faded a little, life goes on as it always did. I just hope there's a job for her in her new life.
Any voice even vaguely critical of this viral spectacle gets thumbs-downed so hard it never recovers, and yet here I am saying it again: we are being manipulated.
And yet, this whole kerfuffle has awoken new feelings in people. It has reminded them that we judge too readily; that we look too harshly on imperfection; that there are still things to be fought for and won, however late in the game. So who am I to stomp on the fragile bird of hope? Believe what you want to believe about Susan, but don't trust the show that made her. Read Chart Throb by Ben Elton, I think you'll find it eye-opening.
Sunday, 19 April 2009
First off, read this article about Every Girl Ever. This blog post won't make much sense otherwise!
Hi, every boy ever! Thanks for writing that article about our date. It really shows how much you understand women. It was really helpful to me; I hadn't realised what a vapid, talkative, irrational bitch I was until you pointed it out! Still, us women are all crazy, as you told me yourself, so I guess it can't be helped.
Anyway, about that date. Sorry I spent so long in the bathroom; there's nothing like a slightly disappointed look from your date to bolster your self-esteem. I was trying to make myself pretty enough to meet your high standards. Well, they're obviously high, because when you saw that photo of my friends, you called Beth (who, by the way, has a body I would die for) "the fat one." You're so funny! With that kind of sensitivity, you must be a hit with the ladies.
I would have done the hair and makeup stuff sooner, obviously, but I was busy having a life of my own that didn't involve you. Can you believe that? I know for next time not to be so rude!
But hey, I know you're really a gentleman, right? You opened the car door for me! And the smug, self-righteous look you gave as you did it was just so cute!
Did I talk too much over dinner? Oh jeez, I'm sorry. I do that. Especially when my date is staring silently out the window with his head on his hand. If I'd known in advance that you didn't care about my job, or my family, or me, I could have saved us both a lot of time!
Still, wasn't it great that we bumped into my friends? It spared us from spending any more time alone together in awkward silence, even though that was SO exciting!
It's such a shame that you didn't hit it off with Christine; that would have saved me a lot of trouble. I don't like her that much, but I still felt bad about leaving you there with her. I thought maybe you just didn't like me, and that you were a nice enough guy with other people. Guess not! Still, at least I managed to have some fun while you weren't around!
Thanks for the ride home. It was really nice of you, although I did seriously consider making the three mile walk alone rather than endure the painful silence of your hatemobile. I feel bad for misleading you into thinking that we were going to have sex. For some reason, nobody ever told me that a date constitutes a legally binding contract!
Anyway, maybe I'll see you around, or maybe I'll work very damn hard to make sure that never happens. Also, you kiss like a fish.
Sunday, 12 April 2009
Yesterday, I went to a wedding. The wedding was unique and wonderful, and worthy of a better post than I can write today. so I hope you'll bear with me until I get the photos uploaded.
(On a related note, I want everyone in the photos to be able to find them easily; so after much consideration and sulking, I've decided that I may have to reactivate my Facebook account. SIGH.)
Until then, I thought it was time I wrote about a few of my fellow bloggers. There are some remarkably entertaining, intelligent people out there on the internet, and I fully intend to find all of them. Eventually.
Here, then, are a few blogs I read and enjoy.
- It's no secret that Wil Wheaton is a fantastic writer, as well as a lovely chap. If you're even remotely interested in geek culture, gaming, writing, or just reading about the life of a strange normal bloke / internet celebrity, I really can't think of anywhere better to go. WWdN: In Exile
- Meg Pickard* writes for the Guardian, takes wonderful photographs, and is endlessly fun to read. Her site, Meish.org, is also the home of the infamous anti-Valentine's cards.
- I've only been reading Boobs, Injuries and Dr Pepper for a little while, but she's funny, and fascinating, and I fully expect to continue reading for a long while to come.
- Innocent Loverboy is a sweet and sexy student who blogs about life, love, and the chaos that comes with it. Give his blog a looksee, and if you like it, tell him I sent you!
In the year since I wrote this post linking to other blogs*, I'm embarrassed to say that my reading list hasn't got much longer. This is where you come in. If you'd all be very kind, I'd like you to post your favourite blog in the comments section. For everyone who does me this favour, I'll click their name and take a look at their blog as well. It's only fair, right?
*Yes, Anna and Meg are related. Sisters. And it does show in their writing styles, and the things they get irritated by; which I think is very charming.
Wednesday, 8 April 2009
I'm sure you've heard it before. The bitter, jaded rants from those who have tried facebook - or those who haven't, and don't intend to, thankyouverymuch. I'm sure my reasons for tearing down the wall are common to many others, but nonetheless I thought I'd share the reasons why I jumped on the noncomformist bandwagon.*
- It is just like myspace. No, don't protest. I know you've turned 18 now, and thus rejected the colourful background and musical / glittery baggage of MySpace or (heaven help us) Bebo, but it's the old game in a new dress.**
- The temptation to go facebook-stalking proved to be just too much for me sometimes. As the old saying goes, "What has been seen cannot be unseen" - and now that includes seeing my good friends in wedding gowns and fairy dresses, which might have been less aberrant had they bothered to shave the beards off.
- The useless apps drive me to distraction! I know the worst facebook plagues - the zombies, pirates, vampires - have passed. I am no longer asked why I'm "walking everywhere on facebook," which let me tell you is a blessed relief because it made ABSOLUTELY NO BLEEDIN' SENSE. But every day there's a new quiz to ascertain which member of the Hungarian royal family I am. Or someone sends me seeds to start my own facebook cabbage patch. Or I'm invited to a group proposing that we enforce old ladies to wear green hats. NO, NO, and NO.
- My 'friends' are not my friends. Some of them never spoke to me once at school. Some of them, I honestly don't remember at all, leading to much embarrassment on my part when I give the 'how do you know this person' details a try. I considered going through and deleting the not-really-friends one by one, but I didn't want to hurt anyone's feelings, and quite honestly my friend-friends can contact me anyway.
- In fact, anyone can contact me anyway, given a bit of effort. If they can't be bothered to put the effort in, maybe I'm not that fussed about seeing them! Think of it like a captcha requirement on a blog post. It cuts down the noise-to-signal ratio.
- I miss getting emails. Don't you miss getting emails? Not subscriptions, or spam mail, or notifications, but honest to goodness emails from a person who wants to say things to you. Those were the days...
- Privacy concerns. Amidst all the hubbub about the Government storing and accessing my information, it seems like as good a time as any to bow out. So that's what I've done.
*Oxymoron? WHY YES!
**Mixing metaphors for your pleasure.
Tuesday, 7 April 2009
Right, only a brief post to tell you all about the new Atakachik game on Newgrounds! I say new because I happen to know it was uploaded mere hours ago. It's the latest creative effort from the legendary my boyfriend and his mate, and as an early alpha tester, I can vouch for its awesomeness!
Sunday, 5 April 2009
I tell you what, you know you're a creative type when you almost wish you could get your heart broken just for the kickass poetry / music / art you'd get out of it.
It's been a long time since I seriously put out creative content regularly. I don't count these blog posts because, if I'm brutally honest, I put less effort into these than I would a poem or a picture. I guess that's one of the drawbacks of finding writing easy; it makes you lazy.
The past couple of nights, I've been staying up far later than I should wishing that somebody in particular was online. Somebody I've never met, and have nothing to say to. A sure sign of mental illness! He's... I guess, a blogger, and before that he was a youtuber, and I get the chance to chat with him every now and then about how things are going. I find him very exasperating, for reasons I won't go into here, and I have no idea why I suddenly feel like I need to hear from him.
Also, sheesh, how many times can you put "I" into a paragraph.
I used to have youtube vids up myself, actually. Only three or four. I found them today, having not watched them for a couple of years I guess, and it was really interesting to get a fresh look at myself. I could see how eager I was to please, to seem confident and interesting and fun. How much I wanted to look pretty and unique. It's interesting how deep-seated the need for approval is in some people. Aww, I told myself I wasn't going to do this, but: name-drop ahead: I was talking to Robert Webb on Twitter, and he seemed very aware of the fact that he seeks approval from everybody. He said it was the performer character-type, and I think I understand.
So here I am again, up at 3:22am, thinking too much about the wrong things instead of sleeping. I've got church in the morning and everything.
Wednesday, 1 April 2009
Imagine a house full of animals. They don't know which of their housemates are predators and which are prey. The only possible way to survive is to hide from all of them, and to show no fear in the event of an encounter. If it sounds like a terrible reality TV show, I understand. But the fact is, this is sort of what my life has been like lately...
Since moving into this house last summer, my housemates and I haven't really... gelled. I like them, but we don't talk much, and it's led to this peculiarly uncomfortable situation...
Maybe I can explain better.
On the rare occasions that I leave my room, I don't expect to see anybody else. I avoid the communal areas as much possible, and they do the same. As a result, whenever one of us sees another, there's a brief moment of paralysed terror, like a rabbit in headlights. I try to get over it as quickly as I can, squeaking out a quick "hi" sound before they can realise that I was utterly stunned to see somebody else in my house.
(It's not like I'm not fully aware that I'm living with six other people. Intellectually, I know this to be true. It's just that when confronted with another person, I instantly want to run and hide in my room.)
I know it's not just me, either. I know because, occasionally, I'll hear a click of someone's bedroom door opening as I walk to one of the bathrooms, but I won't hear footsteps until I'm safely hidden away.
To be frank, explaining it now, it sounds ridiculous. I know it's ridiculous. Several times I've been tempted to say "It's ok, I know you're there and you know I'm here, let's all just stop this charade!" but I don't. I don't because doing so would mean admitting that I've been playing this ridiculous game for eight months.
It's as if the Emperor has been strutting around naked for so long, that to admit to feeling the wind in his nethers is simply unthinkable. No, he must simply soldier on, and hope that he dies before anybody points out his nudity.
And, taking a leaf from the venerable Emperor's book, I am moving out in a few months anyway. Best to just pretend nothing unusual is going on. Best to keep my head down, and forage for food under cover of darkness.
Y'know, I'm so glad I never told any of them about this blog... If you don't hear from me again, one of them found this, and I killed either them or myself or both. It would be the only honourable way out.
In other news, I recently got sent some photos a friend and I took months ago... lookit! It's me, and me, and me!
I can't express in words how grateful I am to everyone who helped me out with the BlogInterviewer competition. It means more to me than you could possibly know that I've made money from my writing for the first time in my life!
When I started this blog 3 and a half years ago, I envisaged it as little more than a diary; expecting maybe 5 readers, and really not knowing how long I'd keep at it for. One domain name purchase and complete design overhaul later, I can honestly say that Almost Daily Exploits is something I'm truly proud of.
That said, there are limits to what I can achieve in this format; and after a lot of thought, I've decided to take the blog down. I considered just stopping blogging, but I feel like it makes a much stronger statement if I remove it altogether. I dwell on the past too much; I don't really need almost four years of accumulated memories weighing me down.
So, I'm moving onwards to bigger things; and maybe someday soon, you'll see my name in print! Best of luck to you all, and thanks once again for your encouragement and support.
Anna x x
Tuesday, 24 March 2009
Oh no, they be stealin my idea!
Well, not technically my idea. Although how close it is to my website design is once again making me desperately rethink this look.
See, the problem is, I learned enough CSS and HTML to get this layout in place, and then I forgot most of it. QUANDARY. Maybe when my boyfriend's less busy I'll get him to lend a hand...
CLICK THE BUTTON
CLICK IT AGAIN
Friday, 20 March 2009
I had a pretty good childhood. My family got on okay, and I lived on an island with fields and beaches and forests... life treated me well. But there was something missing from my youth, something that I've always longed for - I knew, as so many children do, that there are supposed to be secret rooms.
I'm sure you know what I mean. We've all read the books, haven't we? The ones where a tapestry conceals a hallway, or moss hides a door. Narnia's wardrobe, Harry Potter's platform 9¾... fiction is littered with secret doorways to unusual places.
It even happens in real life - there's Anne Frank's bookshelf; Queen Victoria's wardrobe in Osbourne House that leads into other rooms. I remember going into her room on a school trip as a child and being amazed that the Queen of England would employ such subterfuge. If I was queen, I would do the same.
Why have I never had a secret room?!
It's what I longed for when I shared my room with two other sisters, and it's still the most common dream I have. I dream of being somewhere familiar - my home, my church, my school - and finding unexpected passages, or a gap in a fence, or a big wall hanging beyond which lies a secret space that nobody knows about but me. I can't count the number of times I've had this dream. It used to be flying, but now I dream - sometimes as often as five times a week - of these secret places.
Perhaps that explains my love of exploring.
It certainly explains my love of Ben "Yatzhee" Croshaw's games; I've only played one so far, but secret rooms feature heavily. OH MY GOSH SEAMLESS LINK! Maybe some of you have seen his amazing game reviews (I don't care about gaming, but watch his reviews obsessively), but I want to recommend his own games. They're honest-to-goodness, point-and-click, pixel-art masterpieces. You can find them linked at the top of his site. (Where it says The Best Stuff.) The links will go, as ever, on the left.
Also, just for fun, I made a picture of myself in the style of Jeph Jacques (artist and author of the epic Questionable Content). What do you think?
Sunday, 15 March 2009
I was always a bit of a prodigy at drawing. As far as I can remember, I was the first person in my class to realise that faces don't consist of two blue dots and a smiley red line. I recall making a rather less-than-spectacular attempt at perspective at the tender age of 7 (prompting my friend to ask me why the bath in the picture was in the ground), and I distinctly remember someone once asked me to draw a well for them.
So with all this evidence of my artistic genius, it might be hard to imagine that there are some areas in which I struggle. I know! Doesn't make sense, does it! Me, Anna, being less than amazing at something!
No, actually, I want to be serious here because it's a great source of frustration for me. I can't draw men.
Women I can draw; I have a lot of fun drawing women, and I can see definite improvement when I practise a lot; but when it comes to the unfairer sex (sorry?), I just can't seem to get it right.
I blame my 'drawing manga' book. I bought it a few years back out of curiosity, and found out that it's actually astonishingly fun to draw girls! They have curves, in places! But when it comes to the strong, sexy, roughly triangular torso of an adult male, I have no helpful book, and I can't trace photos of myself. Rendering me helpless. And hopeless.
See? Look! WHAT is that about! The moment I decide to draw a man, I lose 30 IQ points and develop the drawing ability of an injured chimp. It's most upsetting. It's been this way for years now. Every now and then I'll pick up a pencil or plug in my wacom tablet, and produce something that I want to delete straight away for fear it might infect all my other pictures with The Crap.
Interesting thing of the day: UK types, you might have heard that Robert Webb (aka 'him off Peep Show') won Comic Relief's celebrity dance competition. This is the video of his winning performance, and I'm sure you'll agree that... uh... something.
REMINDER: Please vote me up again! The competition's hotting up!
EDIT: I'd also like to recommend ablog to you all: GavD's Wrestles with Life. He's a fantastic writer, and his latest post about the causes of ridicularity poses some interesting points.
Thursday, 12 March 2009
Ok, on request, and because I'd just finished one anyway, I thought I'd show you guys a poem. I write all kinds - surreal, spiritual, comedic, literally anything. This one is free form, which I find hard because I find structured poetry comes naturally to me.
Anyway, do let me know what you think, suggestions for improvement are much welcomed! (As long as you're nice!)
Thoughts of an Elder tree.I'll also be posting it in my deviantART with the rest of my creative splurges (the link's always on the left if you want it.)
So strange to see saplings these days
Surrounded by New Stone
Supported and bound,
Kept as pets.
A tree should never be supported. It weakens the sap.
They do not know what it is
To feel the life run thick and sticky through the boughs,
To stretch and reach with searching roots.
But they grow deep and high, they will learn
What it is to be of Odin's Horse.
Their roots will buckle, bend and break the New-Stone shackles,
Scabbed bark a testament to our strength.
Tuesday, 10 March 2009
I definitely need to write songs.
I've been writing poetry since I discovered boys at the age of 15. Over the years, it's become a tried and tested means of expressing myself - the one thing in life that I could confidently say I was good at. Not great, maybe, but good. And songwriting is always something that's appealed to me.
The problem is that I can't play an instrument. Not one. I took piano lessons when I was younger, and they tried to teach me to play the recorder once. Over the years, I bought an ocarina, a harmonica, two penny whistles and a xylophone in the hopes that one of them would grant me magical musical powers. I even took drum lessons for a bit, and that was a lot of fun, but I didn't stick with it - something I still regret, as I suspect that hitting things with sticks would be a very healthy form of release for me!
Every time I walk past a music shop, or I'm dragged in by my (wonderfully talented) boyfriend, I gaze in awe at everything from the ukuleles to the clarinets, wondering if I'll ever find the instrument that's right for me. (In reality though, I know that's not how it works. How it really works is that you pick an instrument and slog your guts out until you're good at it. This is another reason why real life sucks.)
Over Christmas, I spent a bit of time in my home church, Bethany. It's the church I went to throughout my entire childhood, and I had a key to it for a year, so I feel completely comfortable and safe there. I was waiting for a friend, and had a couple of hours to kill, and I thought - y'know what would be fun? Playing on one of the pianos. And I mean 'playing' in the fun sense. Bethany has - let me think... at least four pianos and a keyboard, so I was spoiled for choice.
I sat down in front of one of the pianos, and played a couple of chords, throwing in a few notes with my right hand. "Ooh, that sounds nice..." I played the only song I ever learned - 'give me oil in my lamp' - an easy one, because it's mostly on the black keys. I made dozens of mistakes, and nobody would have been fooled into thinking that I new what I was doing, but as I played and re-played tunes I knew, and invented a few as well, the mistakes got fewer and fewer and let me tell you - I was loving it!
Looking around my room now, at the plastic storage tubs that hold my possessions until I get proper furniture, it's slightly discouraging to know that I can't really find room for a piano in here (even assuming I could a) buy one, and b) get it up two flights of stairs in the first place). But it's reassuring that I'm not completely without hope. And that maybe the days will come when I can tinkle on the ivories, or even buy a budget keyboard, and get a few songs out into the world.
Interesting thing of the day: the timeline of internet memes.
ALSO, a reminder, please vote for Almost Daily Exploits! I'm narrowly ahead and would love for it to stay that way ;) Thanks so much to everyone who's voting and re-voting.