I have a hard time in museums. I’ve either heard or am deaf to all their stories and I don’t like talking to myself. I really need a friend or two with a kindly ear and a keen voice. At the National Portrait Gallery I could almost imagine a friend telling me stories.
This is me assuming the position of Christine Keeler, with apologies to Lewis Morley. I was the 2855th person to give this a whirl at the Victoria & Albert Museum. I had a better pose prepared, but an impatient kid pressed the button for me. Hey.
“That’s Barbelith, that is.”
“Don’t eat the beef.”
‘What do anarchists and fascists have in common?’
This is my blog’s second birthday. Let me thank you again if you’ve been reading this weblog for any significant amount of time.
All of my time is significant time.
I recently made a graph of various periods in my life. I’ve removed the labels for publication. This weblog isn’t present, but if it were it would be represented by a bar two thirds the length of the rightmost bar.
I haven’t had nearly enough time and space to write here recently. I clocked up a $200 internet bill accidentally at my parents’ place and besides I’ve just been hectic getting everything organised for my removal to the UK. I don’t know how things will be once I arrive there.
Part of the problem with reading and writing this weblog is a genre problem. I can’t play against type and sometimes you’re left at sea without context. Is this a travelogue, a diary, a review, a political discussion, a geekshare, fiction, a scratchpad, a commonplace book, a magic spell? None of the above? I need structure. Don’t think a lack thereof will stop me (though life may continue to prevail against regular updates) I find, though I sometimes stutter or mumble, that I still have much to say.
Life has just begun. Be excellent.
Friday 9:45am – wakeup. Friday 9:20pm – start partying. Sunday 2:45am – go to bed.
A friend and I used to get on at different floors; when we were both on, one of us would say, ‘Anyone want to trade shirts?’ Then we’d exchange shirts and watch the reactions.
Don’t think of Zebras.
Spot the odd one out:
- to lathe
- to grind
- to drill
- to polish
My first choice was 3, as it’s a vertical activity, while the others are done to surfaces. Then I answered 4, because it’s a domestic activity while the others are for the workshop.
Watch out for people who score 7/10.
Spot the odd one out:
Ever noticed how the first thing you want to do with a useless fact is tell someone?
Current Episode II count: 7.
As a child I remember placing rocks against the rails of a train track. I had a vague appreciation of how a train moved on the tracks and practical knowledge of what a single rock or a coin on the track would do. I might have known what lots of rocks packed against the track would do. A guy in a car stopped for a bit and yelled and me and my mates. We were in the poor part of town. In another part, where the tracks crossed the highway, train derailments were not uncommon as truckies tried to race the lights.
Are you phobic of something? You can’t imagine what I’m writing about unless you are. Irrational terror. I have a friend who will not cross the road except at designated points. I have friends who are more conventional, being claustrophic, arachnophobic, etc. I am phobic of razors, which I think of as being nicely in the middle.
I have never shaved myself with a razor. I use an electric shaver.
How did I get this way? Maybe stories of razors on water slides told to me when I was four. Cutting kids up. You can’t protect yourself with a matt, they’ll go straight through those. You can’t follow a friend, because maybe they’ll miss the razor somehow. I still believe this. I still won’t go on water slides. Then maybe the perfect reinforcement was seeing all that blood when each of my three sisters sliced chunks of leg off when they started shaving.
But an electric shaver is an inconvenience to lug around when travelling. I need to learn to shave. So today I started. I had a friend to help me. I think years of sharing showers with women has helped me to this point. Razors inevitably fall onto the floor. Better to pick them up than leave them there. Picking them up is hard because I’m almost blind without my glasses. But it also helps that the razor I bought is encased in all the modern contouring, shielding, fooing technology. It doesn’t look so much like a razor. The razor doesn’t even come out for cleaning. I know that one day I’ll need to buy a cheap razor where the point is obvious. Not today.
I also fear European Wasps, but that’s for another time.
Three episodes of Buffy next week. Which is surely an extravagance, unless someone at i7.aol read my blog and decided to do me a good turn. Surely.
Sydney is a week behind Melbourne in Angel. I don’t know if they’ll have two episodes of that next week to finish. When has Sydney ever been behind Melbourne before?
I have a 10 year plan. OK, not really. And I’m not going to share it with you. But I want to print some bullet points:
- Attend Melody and Janaka’s re-wedding for the Senevirathne family in Sri Lanka – 2003
- See The Story of Eugene & Roie (composer: Drew Crawford) – 2004 – Rich will buy me a ticket
- Work for No Substance Software or a spiritual successor
- Visit Egypt with Mr Harris
I’ve never had a chance to knowingly try extreme programming, that is, pair programming with small code/test/recode cycles. But I did something like it for my third year project at uni.
Me and Rob built a Turing Machine Simulator in VB. He knew VB and I didn’t, but I was more mathematically inclined than him. We both had strong feelings (mostly complementary) about good interface design. We also had a bottle of Jim Beam for most sessions. We’d program until it didn’t make sense to continue. The next morning we’d quickly refactor the last of the previous night’s code and immediately fix what had seemed insoluble.
These days we talk. There is no one else I enjoy a good programming geek with than Rob, from compiler theory to e-commerce systems. We’d love to have time to work together on a game. So I recently guaranteed him that time after I come back from Britain.
You know I wouldn’t climb Uluru. I can’t remember if I decided whether I wouldn’t climb the Pyramids. I think that means the debate is not over. The point may be moot, they might be closed to the public now. What informs my decisions? What do I believe in? Remind me to tell you sometime. I’ve said I’m an atheist. Did I say I believed in magic?
Well, I’m back. Over 900km (560 miles) in 11 hours.
Lots of kitsch along the way, the Australian landscape is crowded with this in each Historical town. Dogs on tuckerboxes, animatronic Ned Kellys, big merinos… how do you defend against this? National Truck Driver Memorial. Just keep driving.
City driving, country driving, night and day, dry and wet, empty roads and congestion.
There’s fear on the road. Speed, alcohol, and fatigue; around every corner, on signs. The government’s scaring its citizen and learner drivers silly. What do our visitor drivers think? (A Brit says: that the Hume is a boring road and the speed limit should be 200km/h, 120mph.) Everywhere I find proud seatbelt wearing communities and leading driver reviver towns. Yet every year the roads get dramatically safer. What is this fear for? Cause and effect have been lost, debate isn’t possible. Road safety has become opaque. The shroud of the dark side has fallen. Fuck that.
There are towns out there with science fiction names. Yarrawonga. I think that’s from a line in Return of the Jedi: “Yarrawonga, Solo,” says Jabba the Hutt. Mangalore. A species of fallen warriors in The Fifth Element…
2 years later, another Sydney Biennale. Again, last days, me and Richard at the Museum of Contemporary Art. The theme this time: (The World May Be) Fantastic: fictions, fakes, invented methodologies, hypotheses, subjective belief systems, modellings, experiments. The perfect sucker punch after reading The Invisibles, volume 3.
Gilles Barbier arranges hundreds of action figures engaged in a protest march. They carry placards demanding recognition as non-fiction and advocating drug use. Around them are situated Barbier’s photographs, ‘My Living Room is a Martian Base’, ‘My Living Room is a Dragster’*, ‘This is what they want’: domestic interiors with each item bearing a label detailing the correction you should undertake to get the right picture. Similarly themed, a male dummy is slumped against a wall, covered in notes, ‘I am a dog’. The desired effects, Barbier writes, can be generated by a list of drugs, but first try your powerful imagination.
Susan Hiller suspends a field of 600 small audio speakers in a darkened room. Visitors wander amongst the hanging components, that swing and sometimes clack together, magnetically stuck, rotationally tangled. When I entered there was a voice speaking clearly in English. I tried to triangulate. Some people had raised a speaker to their ear, so I did too. There, another voice was speaking faintly in Russian. As I walked and listened, more voices rose, a babel. Testimonies of UFO sightings from around the world, the exhibition guide says.
Emma Kay* draws a map of the world in pencil from memory. Australia is a kind of round shape with, clockwise from north-west: the Great Barrier Reef, Auckland, Sydney, Melbourne; and Alice Springs in the centre. Emma can remember so many small islands, I recognise the names of some, I don’t know where they go. I only recently discovered that Germany was near France. I think she got that right.
Jeffrey Vallance has many variations on a theme. I have two favourites. A photo of eyes of the image of the Virgin of Guadelupe, Mexico. He has circled images found in that black and white rorschacht test and then presented them separately around the periphery: Richard Nixon, Elvis Presley, Dante, and others. On the opposite wall is a photo of the Shroud of Turin. Jeffrey circles the burns it has sustained and re-presents them with enhancements: they are clearly the faces of clowns. Framed next to this exhibit is an attack on this work by a Catholic publication; a copy of a letter from Jeffrey explaining that he is merely reporting facts he has found and that if anyone is anti-Catholic it is the Devil, who surely caused the faces of clowns to be burned into the holy relic; and a letter of apology from the Catholic publication.
I laughed and laughed and received nasty stares. Please act as if you are all in your own compartmentalised worlds in the art gallery. Since our imaginations are not up to this task, please stay in your own heads.
I like maps and I like words. I offer some words from maps without comment.
Navigators, Research, Reservoir, Blowhard. Stratford on the River Avon. Bonniedoon, Nar Nar Goon, Mirboo, Mirboo North, Upotipotpon.
And who can forget features like Dead Goat Creek and Knob Park? In New South Wales they fare little better with Cockwhy Creek, BTU Road and Mark Radium Park, and placenames like Punchbowl and Ultimo.
The Road to Sydney
Some of the above I encountered on the road to Sydney, the A1. After some missed turn offs and refusals to turn around and correct the mistakes quickly, I eventually escaped Melbourne’s pull. I saw beauty and boredom, mostly things that would be better with time enough and friends. Smog over La Trobe’s energy generating valley gave one uncomfortable surprise. I have friends with the know how, if I really wanted to be green.
I could have done the trip in one day, but I got up late. Darkness sets in completely at 5pm and the mountainous coast wasn’t for my faint heart. I stayed overnight in Historic Eden. I remember seeing a sign to “Historic Mundulla” on my recent trip to Adelaide. I used to live near Mundulla and have trouble with the modifier. But all small towns are now Historic. Eden, unfortunately, only has historic sites; there are signs telling you where things used to be.
A pub in Eden had sent a sizable cheque to a fire station in New York. The receipt was framed with the thank you letter and an I (heart) NY (R) sticker. Maybe the fireman in the letter had come from this fishing town, or maybe he had stayed there once. Fear swallowed me and I didn’t ask. Stayed at the caravan park and read up on C++.
I remind you that this isn’t a travelogue. Discuss.
Set up IIS on Andrew Lee’s Win2K box and gave him an introduction to HTML/CSS. He made spag bol for lunch. Then we listened to Paul Verhoevan and Edward Neumeier on the Starship Troopers DVD explain why fascism is bad — clever, funny, outspoken… rare stuff. Though sometimes the visuals do distract from the commentary.
By my calculations I will miss the final episode of Season 6 Buffy. I’ll hassle a friend to download it.
I’m reading about Smalltalk, which is an interesting programming language. Everything is an Object and there are no control structures or functions. Check this out:
i <- 2.
[i print. i <- i + 3. i <= 9] whileTrue.
In the above code, the square brackets enclose a literal object of class Block. Passing the message whileTrue to this object causes it to be executed until the final statement in the block evaluates to true. I think a Block may be what is elsewhere referred to as a closure.
Meanwhile, true is an object of class True (sub-classing Boolean) and + is a message you pass to objects of class Integer…
I bought the comic book because of this interview with Dan Clowes (I thought I’d linked this before). I loved the comic. I heard about the film. I worried. Alan reviewed the film. It took forever to arrive in Australia. I went to see it today.
I loved the first half. Nicely shot, good script, great actors. But then the second half… just kind of dragged on… and wandered increasingly into bizarre territory that didn’t feel apiece with the first half or the comic (e.g. the poster controversy, the magic bus). 5.5/10.