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5 November 2011

I Write Like...

It's fun to try the "I Write Like" site.

You just paste in a piece of text from your blog and the machine will answer which famous author you most emulate.

I haven't studied the grammar and vocabulary systems that make this possible, but it sounds like a blogger's Enigma Machine.

Because I change style depending on the subject in hand I have been everyone from James Joyce to today's writer, Cory Doctorow. Since he is an expert on the Internet the pages linked to his name will be very helpful for the next while.
"http://www.locusmag.com/Perspectives/2011/11/cory-doctorow-its-time-to-stop-talking-about-copyright/"

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Does It Matter If Nobody Reads a Blog?

People who measure success in terms of approval by others would be unhappy to run a blog like this. It turns out that most visitors don't stop at all, which makes me consider if the ips from which they come are merely part of the network mechanics.

All is not lost, however, as the Analytics can be used to learn about new places around the globe. Geographers would find this useful, I expect.

Also, the value of blogging is that of documentary. Unless the Internet is obliterated, all the people who have taken time to learn the skills required to blog will be available to newcomers and will, it is to be hoped, have quicker access than those of us who had the feeling of being present at some astonishing breakthrough in science and knowledge.

I continues to astonish me that such a system can operate thanks to mathematics. Anybody who finds the subject boring or mysterious can quickly find sites on logarithms everywhere these days. Thanks to being indoors more than usual at the moment, a bit of trigonometry could pass the time.

Le jeu continue...

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Just in case anybody should take offense at the last piece, playing devil's advocate and having a sense of irony about the current way of life on this island, I think that the ability many people have to laugh rather than get angry is one of the ways of dealing with life's irritations.

The irony in my own case is that I cannot think of a better place in the whole world to live than Dublin. Every time I look out over our coastline or meet a friendly person, it is obvious that being driven out by carbon taxes would show a lack of resilience. Also, since houses are worth next to nothing and continue to fall in value, it would be poor economy to try to go to live in a wealthier country. Thinking aloud here has helped to understand why any of the G20 countries would be very uncomfortable for those of us who are not upwardly mobile and ambitious.

Seana Graham, whose insightful blog, "Confessions of Ignorance" is one of the best on the Blogspot system is very interested in the plight of the middle classes in the US. Anybody who follows the guidance of any political elite is liable to be puzzled when they discover that they have been sold a pup, metaphorically speaking.

Efforts to set the private section against the public in this country have largely failed given that most people have worked at some time or other in both areas of employment and solidarity is seen as the way forward. In class divided societies, trouble is brewing and this look sets to continue.

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Carbon

The debate on carbon issues has reached stalemate, it seems. The latest idea, that house insulation will cut down on problems and lessen one's carbon footprint is given governmental backing and grants are available.

I have problems relating to health when it comes to over insulating a home. In winter, I tend to just go upstairs where the rooms are warmer (and those who don't have an upstairs will already find they are losing interest)and wrap up in many layers. Having been in houses that have been subjected to the new systems, I find it difficult to feel comfortable. The air is inert in these spaces as it does not flow. A house should be allowed to breath and wrapping it up over securely may not actually make one ill, but, in my experience at least, it can make it very uncomfortable. I have stopped visiting such houses.

The alternative to insulation is to winter in a warmer country. This is not always possible, but it certainly solves most of the problems faced by those who are going to have heating bills that could send one into overdraft. There will be carbon taxes and many different inconveniences involved, notably the problem of not being in own's own well-loved home, but if faced with ruin, it is a reasonable option.

And getting back to the insulation, the mess involved, whether the system is inside or out along with the hidden costs of electricity and water usage is worth studying before a plan is drawn up. Over the years, having builders in the house has been manageable, but not enjoyable. Obviously, wealthy people can afford to live elsewhere while work goes on but for the average householder, getting out every day and living in squalor for the duration of the work is the norm.

Also the building trade is so stressed at the moment that inviting stressed people to work in one's domestic space takes a preliminary course in PR and psychology. Many builders, used to working on new building estates, have not thought about how to deal with house owners. They say what they want done and try to convince the would-be employer that they know best. I would never buy a house that had been owned by a professional builder. Everything is done to the exact letter of the law as it is officially set out at the time the work was accomplished. It is usually a very fine example of excellent craftsmanship and is stuffed with heaven only knows what sort of materials were fashionable at the time. Upgrading would involve ripping a lot of rubbish out.

The last few months were spent studying insulation systems. Any that I've met so far have left me with a simple solution... Sell up and go somewhere warm...

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4 November 2011

Letting the Big Guys Win

There have been so many complaints about how large enterprises and franchises have taken over the shoppers world that it is worth seeing how everybody, either wittingly or not, colludes in their success.

I love supermarkets. Shopping to me is work and having a friendly local shopkeeper who knows all my personal business is just another inconvenience. As a result, I almost never go into small shops and the one that used be near here is now closed. One place insisted on vetting my credit card to the point that I never darkened the door again and it closed for a very long time. If I am ever compelled to go there I now bring cash, but I avoid it too most of the time. Butchers who over price their meat have also been cut from my list of contacts. I'm willing to risk whatever my local supermarkets have to offer rather than be taken for a charlie.

However, when it comes to the Internet, I find that I have more fidelity to the sites I visit than I would have expected a few years ago. Once some of them got too big, were hacked or were taken over by people who liked fighting, I left. But now I'm faced with the opposite problem. My favourite chat room has shrunk to two posts a day and the large social networks are where everybody gathers. I am less favourable towards a shift to exposing all my thoughts on the international stage that they represent because they are not particularly local enough for my limited Internet activity.

Modern times yet again...

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The Way of the World

I've stopped tuning into the news.

I know that some people claim that laughter is a form of aggression, but for whatever reason, discussion about Europe makes me laugh out loud and I can't waste time at the moment. So much to catch up on in the blog, for instance.

Like any machine, once started it seems to have taken on a life of its own. While it is tiresome to explain what a blog is to the vast number of people who pour scorn on such self indulgence, gradually the value of being able to find like-minded contacts around the world is increasingly obvious even to professional writers.

Their distain for unedited ramblings is a source of amusement to me. Do they find that bloggers are not serious people? Are they concerned that their place in the world order may be threatened? Learning to read is still withheld in some societies as a way for elites to keep power over those who are unable to access information.

Learning to write is to find a voice in the ever increasing noise that our Planet is making.

Learning to blog is one step futher. It allows for documentary makers to upload their podcasts. Films that would never find a public forum are now top billing among fans and "Rudetube" is popular on TV, as the official media, which is almost always a follower rather than an innovator, catches up with the play.

There is a certain snobbism in distaining blogs, just as Flaubert made a song and dance about that new fangled machine, the train. However, they are increasingly more read than newspapers, especially among younger generations.

I have often been puzzled by those who feel that anything has to be given official validation before its value is recognised. Authority structures are being, finally and to my relief, being broken down by the ability of many people to maintain a coherent body of writing and visual material for sharing online. Showing it to another person for approval would not dawn on me, because their input would change the nature of what is being produced.

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When Security Becomes a Deterrent to Living

I posted on Damien Mulley's blog last week and have not had the energy to go back to see if it had appeared. When last viewed, there was no sign. It puts me off visiting again, which is probably the experience that some commercial sites have had when they spam my blog. One person's spam is another's business opportunity. Since this is not a commercial site, I don't tend to upload commercial material.

Also, the peace and quiet can be pleasant. However, I have just stopped trying to post on Davimack's site as an extra system is in place there that I cannot get the hang of. This is just to say that I continue to read the interesting experiences there and was sorry to find that the choir went into psycological meltdown some time back.

Monteverdi was often at loggerheads with his choir, so rows are probably part of the game. I have a horror of choral singing and have, happily now very distant memories, of standing on a bench for hours while some deluded Svengali tried to coax angelic sounds from our worn voices.

I was content enough to drone on an octave below the sopranos, as singing alto was my punishment, or so it seemed to me. Counterpoint is grotesque, except on mechanical instruments, which can bear the strain.

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Good News Travels Fast

I have plenty of time to write at the moment as I'm recovering from root-canal treatment. If anybody reading this becomes paralysed with fright at the thought of dentistry, be reassured. Things have improved beyond measure since I was last subjected to this treatment.

The latex material that is used to protect the back of one's mouth from invasive shards of filling is so effective that I found the procedure just gave an opportunity to think quietly for a while.

I've always been a believer in the myth of progress. It's nice to have evidence that it is actually for real.

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Novelties

There are so many offers to try new systems that I've gone into lockdown and click on as little as possible. Being the first to have any new gadget is for nerds, I fear.

Even if it seems that I spend much time in a mental space that is close to "The Big Bang Theory", I continue to dislike it. Skype is beyond the pale and since I've even stopped using that outmoded technology, the telephone, except when absolutely necessary, visits in person to real people continues to be the life that seems most appealing.

The "Friendconnect" systems just leave me wondering how I could turn them off to save bandwidth. I don't want to connect...

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The Vikings are Coming

Back into comfort zones, I feel at home in York. Like Dublin, it is a Viking city in my eyes, even if the Roman ruins dominate still.

It is a the place which first, officially at least, practiced apartheid, as every time two groups used meet on the streets they engaged in fights to the death. I suppose that is one way of ensuring social harmony, but the idea makes me feel less comfortable.

York is a warm city, however, even if some of those running institutions are a bit uppity. Dublin is no different, so one ignores the dull ones with attitude and chat with the pleasant ones. I had a great moment in the Art Gallery while admiring Hockney's amazing trees. The staff were really proud of having "Bigger Trees Near Warter" as the star of the show during the Summer of 2011 and we spent a considerable amount of time trying to work out if some pieces were missing at the top. The branches did not meet up at one point, but that is the artist's prerogative.

Photography was not allowed, but since I did not have a wide angle lens this was not a problem and the work is everywhere on the Internet in any case. Chatting about copyright passed the time and I learned that many of the works in the gallery are free for photographers to examine and photograph. This is a relief to know, as I mistakenly took some photos in another gallery and got yelled at, very loudly.

Yelling seems to be the new social control. In less formal settings, I would yell back, but speaking in a whisper seems to work better as a way of defusing aggression. I just mock the French and repeat what they are saying when they yell, it is such a common way of behaving these days.

It makes them laugh...

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La R├Ęgle du Jeu

I'm always fascinated by the American fascination with class in Britain. Years listening to American visitors on radio has left an impression of people wandering round, lost, in a series of social codes that are designed to alienate and disturb. Many visitors from Africa have explained in conversations over the years that they find English politeness to be a form of subtle rudeness.

I remain on the fence in these cases. It was a relief to visit France and to learn that the codes there were often the direct opposite of those practiced in the English speaking world. I can play at either, if necessary, but find most bourgeois habits to be a bore. The Mitfords were much in fashion when I started reading seriously, trying to find a way of making sense of the horror that much social interaction has become. U and Non-U behaviour was a source of hilarity, not a guide to how to behave.

This ensured that I made sure never, if possible, to visit Britain and I still feel more comfortable speaking French than in trying to communicate with my closest geographical neighbours. London continues to be a personal nightmare place, Dickensian and very tiring. When there, we took refuge in the friendly Jewish areas where food and a sense of humour warmed the visit.

This may sound like an Irish reaction, but I am not alone in finding London cold. Anybody I have spoken to who lives north of Watford understands my discomfort in being addressed in a chilly fashion and held at arm's length while the interlocuter avoids eye contact. On the Underground, one learns to find a place just above the other passengers head and direct one's gaze there. The French habit of staring is considered to be the height of impertinence, but I find it less tiring. Really, it's all to do with what one can tolerate.

That said, my ability to laugh for no particular reason has made me instant friends in London shops and anybody who has (or claims to have had) an Irish grandmother seems to find me a magnet for conversation on the street. London is the world and one may as well be in Asia on the Finchley Road.

Americans always seem to be having a jolly time in London and, as far as is possible to see, don't take any of the codes seriously. Getting to all the tourist spots is the aim, though I do wonder what they make of being corralled by army on horseback during the changing of the guards.

I have never felt so poor and excluded as during the moments outside the vast gates of the Palace and being yelled at as part of the mob.
Dickens would have understood...

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3 November 2011

Memcache value is null for FormRestoration

I'll end today with a new message that has just appeared out of the blue when trying to post a comment on another blog.

The old French saying that "To Understand is to Forgive" is of absolutely no use in this case.

I find such language inexcusable...

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Setting the Record Straight

In fact, the claim that visitors spend 20 seconds on average on my blog is erroneous. I have found that it is, in fact, .09 of a second.

That is fast...
It does beg the question... whatever are they looking for. However thank you for dropping by, whoever you may be. If nothing else, it gives me a mystery to think about.

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Modal Dialog

In the flood of information that gets deleted from my computer, this one caught my eye.

I continue not to trust computers one bit. "Your privacy is important to us" is taken with a pinch of salt. I was subjected to an educational system where I became adept at flushing out insincere protestations of confidentiality on the part of those in charge. While I almost never bad mouth the people who took such time to turn us into functional citizens in the past, I learned very quickly that an Irish person is incapable of keeping a secret and that anything I said or wrote would be taken very personally indeed. This was before the time that television replaced other peoples' business as a form of entertainment and when first subjected to the harrowing nature of Irish chat, I was reminded (as if reminding was needed) that zip up time was order of the day.

So this insight has been carried forward with every usage of my blog spaces. I have no way of knowing who is reading this as I type. If there is actually a machine that records before publication (the system automatically saves work as it is put down) I wonder if this is not a double edged sword, as one can change one's mind or think the matter in hand not worth pursuing.

Also, it is one reason to, at last, consider breaking with the Blogger system, as it may not be as safe as I might wish.

If there is a modal dialogue installed here, I have no way of knowing what it does. As ever, ignorance of the rules can breed fear...

This is going to be useful, if I ever get round to understanding what it means.
"http://dbarrowstechblog.blogspot.com/2011/06/close-sharepoint-modal-dialog-from.html"

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Productivity

Thanks to a conversation in a chat room on the subject of "work" I'm tempted to think more about how the workplace was a place of boredome and stress in the past and how it curtailed productivity and was sometimes a cause of illness.

This is not some fantasy, as I worked as a teacher for several years and one way of getting every airborne bug known is to be in an overcrowded, overheated space in winter with a group. I tend to keep the temperature in our house quite cool, mostly because the much praised insulation systems now available are not installed and I'm not in a hurry to spend a lot more money just to save putting on an extra jumper. Also, heat breeds bugs.

Of course I was very pleased to be offered work in the past, as it meant survival. But when I look at life today compared with all the activity spent placating taskmasters and equally bored employers I wonder I did it for so long.

This is at odds with the experience of many of my generation. People who are approaching retirement are, to my surprise, apprehensive of change and wonder how to fill time. Also, those who have reached a position where status is quite high are faced with a sense of loss. I had a feeling that I would just wait round for my friends to retire as well and things would go on as before. However, our lives have taken such different directions that I find that the boredome of the workplace, though absent in reality, seems to come along with some of them, like a shadow they cannot shake off.

I remember laughing when Charles Lamb admitted that he spent so long at his desk the wood had entered into his soul. It seems less amusing now.

Writing for money is a chore, but a good training. Writing for pleasure is so much more fun.

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Economics as Entertainment?

You have to hand it to the Greeks. Having managed to turn a game with 20 players into one with 21, they have captured top billing in the official media this week.

Since I don't have any contact with the most wealthy of the Planet and hope not to be driven out into the snow by their incessant demands and uppity behaviour, I actually found the reporting from Cannes last evening to be a sort of amusing distraction, coming from far, far away.

It certainly made a welcome change from the efforts of radio journalists to bore us witless with fiscal matters. The language of economics is bewildering and seemingly that is how it manages to hoodwink ordinary people who do not understand a blessed word of what is being said. The DOW could whiz up and down daily. It will not make any difference to the health of the trees in my garden or to how I view the world. All the shouting on the trading floor only adds to my desire to switch off.

The Greeks seem to be more engaged in the current problems and I should probably be grateful that somebody is taking time and energy to try to find out what is really going on in "Europe". The statement that the centre is now "profoundly European" is a reminder that for English speakers "Europe" is a moveable feast.

Being banished from the table does not seem a great disaster to me...

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2 November 2011

Yet Another Reminder of a Sunnier Climate

Olive Trees at Lake Garda

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The Analysand

Since Google Analytics is on one of the blogs here, I check it out ever so often just to see which cities send visitors to the site.
Having insight into all the extras, like bounce rate, are not really useful at the moment, as the most hits per day is forty and this is not a commercial site.

One detail pleases me. The average time sometimes hits twenty seconds, which is all is needs to look at photos. It also confirms my belief that surfers read next to nothing on blogs, skim quickly and move on.

In fact skimming over blogs could be one way of training oneself in speed reading.
One can get quite a lot of information in twenty seconds...

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31 October 2011

Disorienation...

follows the change in the clock every time it happens.

I now feel like going to bed as soon as it gets dark and after the sort of sound sleep that only Autumn can induce, I find it impossible to get up in the morning.

Watching the Dublin Marathon on TV today I was astounded at the energy of so many people as they headed out to run 40 kilometers in a light drizzle.

There's nowt as strange as folks... Garrya elliptica flowers in January

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30 October 2011

Cultivation

After years of various activities, the peaceful nature of gardening and cultivation now attracts me more and more.

We went out into the Wicklow mountains recently and came, by chance, to Hunting Brook Gardens. This is one of the most peaceful gardens I know and there is a walk in the woods that helps blow away all the mental cobwebs that accumulate from being indoors. Classes are held in the lovely wooden building on the site and there is always a warm welcome.

Back in suburbia, I continue to tidy leaves out of the now empty flowerbeds and plan to plant bulbs for Spring. It's a lovely time of year for the gardener, as everything seems possible. The reds and russets in the hedgerows are spectacular this year and the Virginia creeper in particular is a delight every time I look out the window... a blaze of dying embers.

More people are taking to gardening, thanks to recessionary times, but also because it is such a natural impulse. Here's to success in the next year... In a Polytunnel

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