Thursday, September 04, 2008

Long Time, No Post (I'm Getting Sick Of Titles Like These)

Good evening! Well, I tell a lie, it is actually the afternoon currently and there is even a most rare and undoubtedly fleeting glimpse of sunshine which the Welsh weather has gracefully been generous enough to lavish upon us today, and I am therefore making the most of it by... sitting indoors and tapping away on this ol' thing. But still, I shall say 'good evening' since I've felt it has always carried with it a certain amount more panache than 'good afternoon'.

Yes, once again I neglected this place. Possibly due to the fact that I would be genuinely surprised if anyone still actually visits here, partly because I can't escape the thought that I should have grown out of writing about my life on the Internet years ago, partly out of sheer laziness and inattentiveness. But I received an electronic communication from an old friend recently which reminded me of the thing and in a sudden outbreak of chronic nostalgia thought that I would once again firing up the blogging cannon and let loose upon whoever cares to drop by.

It's been a long time since I last wrote anything here, so what has been happening? Well, I embarked upon an expedition to learn more about the indigenous people of the South American rain forests, travelled the world, fell in love and achieved regional fame in Belgium as part of an avant-garde jazz and expressionist performance art troupe...

...Or rather, that is what I have done in my mind. Unfortunately the way I view the world and the way the world works rarely seems to coincide, so the actual reality of my time has been finishing my university studies. I now hold a BA (Hons.) in History, having gotten a II:1 which, to anyone who knows how these things works, is a pretty sterling effort (if I do say so myself) and more or less translates to, "I have mostly worked hard for three years, but I did not get a first because I also have had a social life."

With the completion of my course I'm now stuck in the foreboding realm of unemployment, completely at the mercy of the job market and an economy which, thanks to the wonderfully cack-handed handling of New Labour, has essentially just face-planted the floor and is continuing to slide along in its death throes to the corner marked 'recession'. Things are not made a great deal easier by dint of the fact that there is not so much a job market in Aberystwyth but more of a rickety old stall with a few hundred people piling on top of it in a desperate bid to grab one of the jobs going, of which there are only 10 in total at any given point, ever. And they're all taken.

I have no career plans at present. I might take a Masters course in History in a year or two, providing I have accumulated enough to cover the course fees. Until then I'm more or less happy to take anything going; basically after three years of frugal student living I' just like an income. From my perspective right now, minimum wage even looks appealing. Ultimately though I'd like to do something which involves writing, since it's one of the few things I am actually passionate about and enjoy doing. Perhaps journalism, or the ultimate dream is to be an author. Trust me to pick one of the most notoriously hardest careers to actually get into. And I'm unsure as to whether or not my writing is actually up to scratch... I guess you can see from yourselves from the disastrously diabolical diatribes contained within these pages. But of course if you don't try, then you'll never know, although the hopelessly optimistic plan of writing something, getting published and then living a life of luxury surrounded by vast piles of royalties may amount to little more than a badly thought through pipe-dream. One lives in hope...

And that is more or less what has been happening to me, barring the minutiae of every day life which I shall refrain from boring you with. My time is currently spent frantically mailing out CVs left, right and centre and spending a lot of time trawling through the internet for anything of interest or inspiration. And trying to write. Yes, I really am serious about the whole writing thing... God help me.

Thursday, October 04, 2007

The British Culture of Spying Upon Everyone Else

I am lately of the opinion that we are living in troubled times. Take, for example, this article: http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/wales/north_west/7025671.stm. It is indeed "interesting" times when someone can be fined £260 pounds (comprised of actual fines, administrative fees and something about a £15 surcharge to fund services of victims of crime, although I am yet to work out who the victim exactly is here) for smoking inside a lorry cab due to the bizarre and banal legislation which turns them into places of work which, as we all know, it is now illegal to smoke in - regardless of whether or not you are on your own.

But no; someone saw someone smoking inside a cab, and decided they're going to turn them in. And then it just dawned upon me why the smoking ban is actually going to work so well in Britain, and that's because it appeals directly to peoples Britishness. The age old syndrome of spying on people from behind net curtains and complaining about other peoples actions. Give them a number to phone anonymously to report what they see, and the recipe is complete. We've lost our sense of community. It would seem that rather than asking someone to please put out their cigarette, something which used to be much more common place, it seems we would now rather bring the full force of the law down upon them whilst we stand back and watch from a safe distance. This is the sort of stuff upon which British people today seemingly thrive. As I mentioned before, the image of people poking their head out from behind net curtains and spying on their neighbours is an age old stereotype of Britain, but with the advent and prevalence of the mass media our society is now being moulded into this; the cult of celebrity, the constant need to know the gossip and what other people are doing. People are more eager than ever to concern themselves with the affairs of everyone else.

To make my point clear, this is not just about people being able to smoke or not. It is about the fact that we are constantly under watch, from neighbours, friends, passers-by and everyone else we may come into contact with during our daily lives. Society is becoming slowly more accustomed to the notion of intruding into other peoples affairs. It fosters a natural state of distrust and anxiety. The populace is kept continually on edge, and that is rarely safe place to stay. People become more lenient towards measures and legislation which will infringe our freedoms, and then what? Troubled times, indeed.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Back In Aberystwyth.

This is just a quick post so that I can sort out this Technorati thing. I'm not really sure if there's much point, but I am bored and I guess there is no harm in trying.

Technorati Profile

Anyway, I got back to Aberystwyth earlier today; about midday. The weather is nice and sunny with a refreshing sea breeze, which I can tell right away is going to make focusing on revision over the coming weeks all the more difficult given that there is a beach literally 30 seconds from my front door. Perhaps I should work on a way to combine the two, although I fear that would just end in me chasing books and pieces of paper down the beach which have been blown away by the wind. Someone needs to invent paper which is exactly the same as normal paper but doesn't do that. Or I guess I could just use strategically placed rocks...

Saturday, April 14, 2007

An Exercise In Boredom

I am going to be straight with you; this is going to one of those generic blog posts in which the blogger (that's me) bores the hell out of the reader (that is your lovely self) for an unspecified period of time with all manner of mindless and droll details of what he has done the previous week. This is, of course, the rock upon which blogging was built so it never ceases to surprise me when I hear people talking about how blogging has been 'revolutionary' and has enabled the effective spread of free and uncensored discussion of current affairs and the faster proliferation of information and ideas. No, what it really is, is just some guy telling the rest of the world why the cheese sandwich he made that day was so awesome (and it really was) and how nice the weather has been (it really has). Perhaps we could say that blogging allows us a much more personal, and overall more human, insight into the lives of our fellow man (and woman, of course), or perhaps we could say it's just a bit of silly fun. All I know for certain is that it's giving me something to do whilst in the grips of holiday induced boredom, which is surely a good thing because without such a grounding I could well be going around causing all manner of mischief in the Welsh countryside; saying 'boo' to geese and spraying graffiti on cows, and none of us want that to happen, I am sure.

Today it suddenly dawned upon me that I have managed to avoid doing any real work for 2 weeks now. Oh, sure I've looked at books, scribbled down notes and sat staring at the horizon in a philosophical manner for literally minutes, but I realised that I haven't actually done anything that could possibly be construed as productive, by any stretch of the imagination. Given the impending proximity of the exams next month and a 5000 project which I still need to make some serious headway on, it has, on the whole, not been a very happy realisation for me that I really need to start working harder. In other words; I have to get my arse in gear, quick-sharp.

I am also fairly confident that my lack of work has not been helped by the isolation of my current location. Whilst it is very peaceful and that watching a woodpecker jump around from branch to branch, tweeting away in a manic and frenzied manner whilst listening to Lindisfarne on my MP3 player is a pleasantly relaxing way to spend my afternoon, it cannot, in my mind, beat the good company of friends. That is, to say, getting progressively smashed in a pub of our choice. Getting back to Aberystwyth should be good fun then, hopefully for me at some point over the next week.

And that is about the long and short of what I have to say. I've had a haircut the other day which, with one fell snip of the scissors, has managed to transform me back into the 5th Beatle that I used to be and has also had the added effect of making me look as if I am 17 again. I'm sure I would appreciate such a magical reduction in age if I were somewhat older, but for now I suspect ordering in pubs is about to become a much more long winded experience than it was previously. Since I am feeling generous, I shall leave you with a picture of me looking apparently fed up to the eyeballs and rather disgruntled at the experience of being outside, which I can assure you is the opposite of the truth but I fear my assurances will be all for naught given the comparative weighting of worth of images compared to words...

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Thursday, April 12, 2007

Invisibility cloak invented. Ooh, I know, we can kill people more sneaky now!

I just stumbled across this news article from a group on Facebook, discussing how Science (is there really anything it can't do?) has come up with a way to create, what is in effect, a form of portable cloaking device.

Now, ignoring the countless references to Harry Potter which they evidently felt necessary to slip in (presumably some form of advertising for the upcoming, and final, installment in the series - Harry Potter and the Predictable Naming Scheme), it did somewhat sadden me to notice that halfway through they couldn't resist the urge to start outlining how this new discovery will aid us in the evidently important task of finding newer and stealthier* ways to kill, wound, maim and generally blow up our fellow man.

"The cloak could shield soldiers from night-vision goggles which use only one wavelength of light. It could also be used to hide objects from "laser designators" used by the military to illuminate a target, he said."

Far be it from humanity to ever invent something without 5 minutes later wondering how it could best be used to effect death and destruction...

That being said, however, I am struggling to think of any use for a portable invisibility device which isn't morally suspect in one way or another. Personally I would use it to lift up small objects, and wave them in the air in front of other people whilst making "Wooooo, woooooo!" noises, scaring and generally worrying them. What about you?

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* STEALTH! Dun-dun-dun-dun-dun, MEW!

Sunday, April 08, 2007

Like An Orchestra Of Tiny Baa's

I'm currently sitting in my parents kitchen staring out the conservatory windows and idly looking across the small valley outside, or at any rate I would be doing that if my current view wasn't blocked by about 15 feet of concrete shed just outside the window. And whilst being in what is very likely the most isolated place in Wales, and it wouldn't surprise me if it transpired the whole world too, and whilst the view is very pretty and the weather pretty good for this time of year in the land of eternal rain, there is just one problem. It all gets very boring after about a week. Since it has been scientifically proven (and by Science, no less) that blogging can alleviate an estimated 15-20% of a persons boredom it is with this in mind and a small degree of desperation that I am going to do just that and hopefully bore you all half to death in the process. And you're damn well going to read it too, because otherwise the mutant ninja monkey standing behind you will be displeased. And you wouldn't like him when he's mad, you really wouldn't.

All that being said, however, the Easter holidays have been nice and relaxing thus far. I went down into Lampeter to have a look around the town, although sadly this did prove correct my fear that there in fact nothing at all there. Butcher, baker, no candlestick maker thanks to the advent of electricity and a couple of pubs - you know the sort of place. But one which has been dressed up to fool people traveling through that there just might be more than first appears, despite the opposite being true in reality. Although perhaps living in Aberystwyth has given me too much of a taste for life in the big city since I do not man to put the place down too much. It is actually really quite nice, and I even managed to buy a pair of boots (pictures of which adorning my head will be made available shortly).

The other day found be walking around some place in the Cambrian mountains. The weather was beautiful and the views were stunning, not to mention all other manner of clich├ęd descriptions. However, 2 things struck me as odd about this day out. The first, and this may reflect badly upon my own grasp on reality, was that how similar my surroundings were to that of Final Fantasy XII. I could almost believe I was in a real life version of it, minus the frequent wolf attacks and cool looking katana strapped to my back, of course. The second thing which amazed me was that I managed to somehow, in the course of the day, become sun-burnt. Not only can I not remember the last time this happened to me (if, indeed, it has even happened at all before now) but I managed to achieve this remarkable feat in April, a month widely known for the increased chance of rain,* and in a place where it rains for more days than there actually are in a year. Not too sound as if I am complaining too much, but if the sun is going to burn me I expect it to at least have the common courtesy to do so in a more glamorous country. I'd file a complaint, but unfortunately no-one had discovered a way of controlling the weather yet. I suspect that whoever manages that will become a very rich person indeed.

So between that, playing a lot of Final Fantasy XII, reading an awful lot of Discworld books and generally avoiding all of the work I should be doing over Easter, that is how my week has panned out so far. My plans for next week involve a lot of swearing over the student loan* form and no doubt contracting heat-stroke in Siberia and pneumonia in the Sahara, given my luck with the weather.

Hope you are all well and having fun this Easter and have consumed a satisfactory amount of chocolate based goodness. For all of you back in Hastings right now, remember that no matter how bad the Chav problem may be down there, at least you aren't deafened by the incessant bleating of a thousand sheep every time you step out your front door.

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*April Showers, and what-not.
** They usually send these out around about now, don't they? At least, I remember getting mine around this time last year. The fact that I don't have one this year leads me to believe that they completely ignored my letter telling them of my change of address. Yay, fun.

Friday, March 30, 2007

"Things will be different."

Last night, Rockstar released the first preview trailer (http://www.rockstargames.com/IV/trailer_splash.html) of the next instalment in the Grand Theft Auto franchise; GTA IV. I was in the pub at the time (more about that at a later point) but I've just watched it this morning and it is simply stunning.

It appears to be set in what looks like a complete reworking of Liberty City, as GTA III did to the original GTA's version of the city, but this time is a much more realistic recreation of the city, with several landmarks from the city it is parodying (New York) present.

Working on the assumption that the guy talking during the trailer is either the main character of at least features prominently, it would also appear that you'll play a Russian or at least someone connected with the Russian Mafia.

Oh, and did I mention that the graphics look lush? According to my trusty friend Wikipedia, the shots in the trailer were taken from in-game from it actually running on a console. The prospect of being given free run of an entire city (or perhaps even more, if they do something similar to San Andreas) which looks almost life-like leaves me wanting to get hold of this game now. Looks like I've got until October to get a PS3, then.