Live life in the information age, yeah. Where new news is old news before you've read it, where yesterday's news happened ten years ago, where you're a has been before you've been born. Whatever.
I was just a human being, that's all I was. The dodgy link in the approximate chain of loose cannons. Everyone wanted me to do things, and everyone wanted them done now, and I just sat in the middle, wanting things done right, and actually doing nothing at all. Deep breaths. Deep breaths helped me through the day.
Between leaving work at 18:00 and arriving at 08:30 the next day, I've received thirteen pieces of mail. Another twenty arrive by 09:00. Most of them - complete shite. Nonsense mails that I shouldn't have got, that I've just been copied in on because people think that just by sending me an e-mail it means I'll read it, means I'll know what it says.
If I did that, I'd never get any work done.
So I skim through my e-mails, forward some on unread, reply to some saying 'This is a load of nonsense'. I throw another 20 bits of pointless correspondence in to the mailstrom.
e-mail is dead. It's not an effective means of communication any more, if it ever really was.
It's backed up by it's old rival, the telephone. The telephone isn't so much used for communication, it's a tool by which you change someone else's priorities. I don't take internal calls any more. If it was really important then they could come and see me.
There's no peace to concentrate, no physical space to find your headspace within. You can't do everything, so why should you do anything? Language evolves to retrofit. Urgent means 'Ignore Me'. Quick means 'Ignore Me'. Personal means 'I'm marketing - delete me'. All day is spent trying to whittle the stack of mails back to the level it was last night. And sometimes it feels like you're winning, and sometimes it feels like you're drowning.
I didn't always live in Dublin, though. Some of my more eagle-eyed readers may note that I used to live in other countries, other cities. At one point I lived in Cambridge. That's Cambridge, England.
This was back in the 1930s of course. Everyone was working as a spy for one government or another. Indeed, in Fresher's Week, we'd have an espionage fair over at Fenners. All the major international spying communities would set up stalls, and you'd get offered a big free party just for forking over a lump sum investment and selling your soul to a foreign government. That's how I ended up signing up as a member of the Finnish Espionage Club.
Oh, it was fun for a few years. We had parties, we had fund raising events, and we had an annual snowball fight with the Underground Information Association of Estonia. That was a lot of fun. On Thursdays, we'd cross this bridge to go to the Rose and Crown (now called the Town and Gown, apparently). We'd order the randomly priced 'Double Jumbo Sausage and Chips', and then we'd relax with a penny pint of cloudy best beer and write our spy reports. This was in the days before the internet, of course. We used to write on parchment, and we'd use lemon juice for ink so it wouldn't show up unless you knew the special secret trick. Oh, we thought we were so clever.
To send our secret reports back to Finland, we'd use homing pigeons. We were cheap, though. On a budget. We couldn't actually afford homing pigeons, so we'd find urban pigeons, and we'd tie our message to one of their legs, and a maritime map to the other. We'd whisper directions to them before throwing them joyfully in to the air. I've no idea if any of our messages actually made it to Finland, but since they were all totally made up anyway, I doubt it matters.
Happy, happy memories.
Living in Dublin allows me the pleasure of walking across the Ha'Penny Bridge on a regular basis.
The bridge is one of the oldest in Dublin, finally opening in 2002. It replaces the elastic bridge which used to cross the Liffey from 'Just By Forbidden Planet' to 'The Hags with the Bags'. That was a great bridge, that was, with scary bounciness all the way across.
The new bridge was designed in 1756 by the little known bridge designer "Lemon O'Sullivan', whose name is commemorated in the name of a pub, a street, and a drawing supplies shop. The original development and build budget was half a penny - hence the bridge's name. Due to delays the actual cost was over ten times that amount.
It now offers a fantastic view of such great sights as The Big Shiny Stick, the Funny Building with the Green Dome and That Hotel that U2 own.
Verb. To return, to come back, to return to a previous state.
Pet hate of the day.
Working, as I do, in a glorious institution full of pomposity, this is a word that I see abused more often than I like. E-mails forwarded to me often have the following 'sentence' typed at the top.
Please revert to Xander Harris (or whoever) by close of business
Putting aside the fact that 'close of business' or 'COB' means any time between five and seven, I am physically incapable of doing this. Usually, I substitute the word 'reply' or 'respond', which is superficially similar, but means something very different.
Sometimes, I would even 'get back to' someone's e-mail. But if I did so, I would have to acknowledge that in doing so, I was using a colloquialism.
We went back to basics.
We went back to the board with a new proposal.
We went back to the Zoo and fed the animals.
Most of the time, I relish the english language with its fluidity and ability to evolve. But some of the time, its abusers annoy me intensely.
This is where I admit that I'm sufficiently sad to have heard of Big Brother.
For those of you who don't know what Big Brother is, it's essentially a show devoted entirely to probability problems, cunningly disguised as a nine week game show where people are shut in a house with each other. Doesn't sound terrific and exciting? That's because it generally isn't.
Anyway, the other week they had the thirty number conveyer belt problem.
This is how it's stated.
You've only got one prize to pick and you know there are, say, 30 prizes on the conveyor belt. They are coming through one at a time and what makes you press the button to stop the conveyor belt and say, "I want that prize?" 'I think the mathematical way of doing it is to look at the first ten items - the first third. Then, the first thing you see out of the next two-thirds that is better than anything you have seen before, get that. Because if the first ten items are spread evenly on the good or bad scale, then you will get a couple of things in the 90 per cent area. 'It's unlikely you are going to get the 100 per cent best item in your first third of the sample. So you choose the best thing in the next two-thirds which is better than you have seen before. You're going to get something pretty good.
Let's translate this in to something more sensible, generalise it, and then solve it.
You are presented with a series of m numbers, in no particular order. Each number is presented once and once only. As each number is presented to you, you may select it or pass. Once you select a number the game is over, and your score is the number that you've been given. If all m numbers are presented, your score is the mth number.
In this game, it is postulated that in order to maximise your score you should watch a series of n trials. You should then select the next number that exceeds the greatest number in these n trials.
First off, it's interesting to note that this strategy does - in general - work. For example, if there are thirty numbers and you watch for ten, you've got about a 1 in 3 chance of getting the highest score, and a 50:50 chance of being in the top 20%.
Secondly, it's interesting to note that I sat down and proved this.
Interesting, but dull.
Sometimes, I think about the house we really wanted. I mean, there were all sorts of reasons why it was completely wrong for us, but superficially...
It was a little two up two down. Beautifully refurbished. The living area was upstairs, and opened out on to a tiered garden, with a little seating area that would be ideal for idle Sunday afternoons, drinking tea, reading, and being annoyed by wildlife. Just up the road was a pub, and just down the road was the Liffey. And it was miles away from anywhere and we'd have had much less flexibility, a tiny kitchen, and no storage space. And we couldn't have got the finances together in time.
Of course, if we'd lived there, we'd never have met our drinking buddy neighbours here. We'd never have had our flat being pimped as a sound stage, appearing in an advert for soap powder, and soon to appear in a drama serial on Irish television.
Maybe if we could have afforded two places, though, we could have had a city pad and a slightly further out of the city weekend retreat?
When I got up this morning I had never heard of Doctor David Kelly. Now, he is the scariest piece of news that I've ever heard.
Kelly made a statement earlier this week, denying that he was responsible for a story claiming that Downing Street had sexed up a dossier about Iraqi weapons of mass destruction.
Today he's missing, and an unidentified male corpse has been found five miles away from his home. Too much coincidence.
Perhaps I've seen too many political thrillers. Conspiracy theories are swimming in my head. Perhaps the BBC had him assassinated and will try to frame the government for it? Perhaps it's coincidence. Perhaps not. Regardless of the truth, this is the most horrific single fatality that I can think of, with potentially huge consequences. Huger even than the events which led up to it.
Why, oh why, oh why, does the leader of the Labour Party in the UK persist in making himself unelectable? It's such a stupid thing to do. Parable time.
Bob and Gloria live in Southwold, a picturesque town somewhere in England. One day, Bob comes home from a hard day working in the local village shop or whatever and suggests to Gloria that they pop in to Norwich and go to an antique fair. Gloria loves antiques, so off they go. They never actually make it to the fair, because they can't work out where it is, but they have a lovely day, and Gloria sees a dress in a shop window which she loves and buys. And Bob gets to go to B&Q, and he buys a new drill, which he's been wanting for ages.
On the way home, though, Gloria starts to get suspicious. What if there never was an antiques fair, she wonders. What if it was all a ruse to get to B&Q and buy a drill. So when they get home, she asks Bob exactly where this antiques fair was supposed to be.
"I think it's important that we don't lose sight of what we've achieved here. I've got a new drill, which we both agreed was a necessary objective. In addition, you've got a dress that you love. Nobody should be in any doubt that a drill was needed. And I have no doubt at all in the future, whatever the differences there have been in the past, we can reconstruct the shelves in the bathroom as a stable and prosperous place to store medicines and the house will be a more secure place as a result. And we should be proud as a couple of what we have done."
Later, while Bob is sleeping, Gloria takes the drill...
While, seemingly, everyone in England is off work enjoying the sun, and a few brave but lardy souls are braving the cameras in Weston-S-Mare for ITV's tabloid newsertainment shows, Dublin is overcast, clammy, likely to be thundery and the telly is still shite.
Tonight's summer travesty.
Another night in the bath, I think...
Being a quick trawl through tonight's TV schedule, complete with sarcasm!
Alternatively, I will be sitting in a warm bath, sipping chilled white wine, reading.
This weekend's entertainment:
Divorcing Jack. Apparently the best British Movie since Trainspotting. Except it isn't. A pretty faithful adaptation of the book, but not in the same league. Even the presence of Rachel Griffiths as a nun with a gun can't really lift this film, which is a bit of a shame.
Broken Hearts Club. Well, I laughed here and there, and I kind of could see where it was trying to go. Charming, in its way.
Logan's Run. Cult classic that gets completely lost about half way through, and then introduces Peter Ustinov. At which point sensible people fall asleep. Worth it just to know that in 300 years we'll all be wearing very tight jump suits.
Cecil B. Demented. Scarily, the first John Waters movie I've seen. Challenging, fun, loses its way in the middle, and ultimately culminates with Melanie Griffith setting her hair on fire. What's not to like?
Here are my top five book and movie spoilers of the moment. Don't read them if you don't want to know what happens.
I feel better now. Do you?
It was almost a surprise.
I only read Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix because I wanted to find out for myself who died. I carefully avoided all of the spoilers, and formulated my own theories. I read two spoilers - quite by accident - but one of these was a hoax, so they contradicted themselves and cancelled each other out.
I even had a moment of annoyance on Friday, when Mr Twinky and my Mum discussed who died over dinner. Bold as brass. Was I upset? Yes. But I did, for a moment, think they might be winding me up.
So, as I approached the page when I knew the death would occur, I was prepared for it. But I was also prepared to be wrong. And I wasn't. And it wasn't well written, which is quite a change for Rowling. But obviously, she was really upset when she wrote it.
I, on the other hand, wasn't really bothered that much.
For some time now, I've been enjoying the simple pleasure of the Creative Nomad II as seen in the picture attached and indeed sitting in a pocket of a well worn jacket. And tomorrow, it retires after several years of quality service.
It's been a loyal companion on many long walks to and from work, alternately blaring out Macy Gray and Girls Aloud in an effort to put me in a scary, crazy, positive poppy mood before I walk through the door and get hit by a wall of e-mail. Tomorrow, it becomes little more than a toy.
It was a present, you see. From Mr Twinky. He did a lot of research on it, and decided that it was ideal for my needs, based on the products available at the time. And it was, and it is. The only reason it's retiring is that I was bullied in to getting a new one. One that will, in theory, take 350 CDs.
But I'm not even going to open my new MP3 player till Monday.
Some giant scientists have found something very small.
My favourite subatomic particles are the Higgs Boson and the Wino particle. My favourite form of Carbon is Buckminster-Fullerene because it sounds like a type of carpet, and my favourite Film named after a paint colour is Magnolia.
I'm lucky in that the most stressful thing in my life is when I can't sleep at night.
Last night a combination of work colleagues passing off responsibilities and humidity meant that at 2.30 I was awake, fully conscious and alert.
In an ideal world we'd have two bedrooms so that I could slip out of bed and curl up in another room and read Harry Potter until I was lulled into sleep by its soporific verbal redundancies and it's portmanteau concoctions that soothe and anaesthetise its victims.
In practice, I wound up watching Buffy the Vampire Slayer. With a big blanket over me on the sofa. Similar sort of idea, but left me completely exhausted today.
I'll be tired and ratty today, and fine tomorrow.
Here are my top three tips for handling being a tired ratty git.
1. I avoid human contact.
2. If I must talk to anyone, I start by telling them at great length about why I'm ratty. That way they'll either steer clear, over-sympathise, or both.
3. If I've not slept because I'm pissed off and angry with someone (as in this case), then I need to tackle that issue. But not today, and not directly, because I haven't had a proper chance to sleep on it yet. If I tackle it today, I'll make things worse. So I'll delay, give myself a chance to cool down, and not risk escalating matters even further.
Tonight, my plans are therefore purely vegetative:
edited for grammar. says a lot, really