Saturday, January 29, 2005

Last night's incoherent scribblings

For some reason it was eerily quiet in Columbus yesterday, or at least it was eerily quiet in the parts of Columbus that I frequented (namely the OSU area and Vic's). There was nobody around when I walked into work today, hardly anybody around when I got my morning coffee, precious few souls around at lunchtime and then to top it all off the bar was deserted when I rolled in last night. Well not quiet deserted, but pretty bloody close to it. For the longest time, where the longest time is about an hour, I was the only person sat at the bar. I really did feel like the last alcoholic in town. Then when somebody did come and sit at the bar, I had one of those minor brain mishaps where you can't quiet remember if you know someone, so don't start a conversation with them for fear of appearing like one of those crazy people who walk up to you and act like they know you when you have no idea who they are. Except of course, as I found out later in the evening, I did know this guy and not so long ago had spent quiet a while talking to him. Oh well, I'm sure he won't be too slighted by my ignoring of him last night.

So here we are on an increasingly gloomy Saturday afternoon, flicking through my battered yellow notebook, wondering what incoherent drivel I committed to paper last night. Edited highlights of these musings I'll try and reproduce for posterity, yeah I'm pretty bored and can't bring myself to do proper work on a Saturday afternoon.

My head has been very muggy all this week. I think this is mainly due to my quick dalliance with man flu, but there are probably other factors in play. I've spent most of my time not really knowing if I'm coming or going. Chances are that most of the time I was sat still, or possibly pirouetting on the spot, okay so maybe not pirouetting, I can't imagine I'm much of a pirouetter.

On the subject of my head, I have to say that the mind is a crafty little bugger. Not only is it a crafty little bugger, but it's a crafty little bugger with a sadistic sense of humour. There you are sitting down looking at the world, and all of sudden something clicks upstairs and the world is suddenly changed before your very eyes, or maybe by your very eyes. It's like those pictures that start of looking like an old woman and then you cock your head and it's a young girl, that is until you blink when it reverts to the old woman again. Anyway, that's more or less what my mind has been doing to me this week. One second I'm absolutely certain that I know what's going on and why it's going on and what to do about it. Then, moments later, I'll be found with a confused look on my face wondering where all my certainty has evaporated to.

Oh well, that's about all I could garner from last night's scribblings. Not entirely sure that I undersatnd exactly what I was waffling on about, but it seemed to make perfect sense at the time. I think it is quiet fortuitous that my handwriting is so abysmal that nobody will ever really know exactly how much utter nonsense I've written in my little notebook.

Thursday, January 27, 2005

Reasons to start smoking

The world is a funny old place. There are all those people out there who are trying to stop smoking, whereas I find myself increasingly wanting to take it up. The latest reason I want to start smoking is so that I could not be employed by Weyco. How utterly ridiculous is it that this company thinks they have the right to ban people from smoking, even when they are not at work. It is absolutely terrifying what companies think they can, and in this day and age they are probably correct, get away with. If my employers told me that I wasn't allowed to smoke I would be straight down to the 7-11 and have gone through a carton and half by the time I got back to work, coughing and smelling like a crematorium.

I can, almost, understand those laws which prevent people smoking in enclosed public spaces, such as the forthcoming Franklin County ban on smoking in bars. But to force people to give up a habit that gives them pleasure just because the powers that be currently frown upon it, is very very wrong and very very scary.

I am still adamantly of the opinion that smoking is not hazardous to your health. Sure if you smoke, you're going to have an increased chance of catching some nasty, maybe deadly, disease down the line. But who's to say what would have happened if you didn't smoke? Something you do for ten, twenty, thirty, fifty years and then you die is not hazardous to health. Hazardous to your health is something you do for twenty minutes, with a very serious risk of death or damage (like driving the wrong way down the freeway, as I've been known to do from time to time, although usually for less than twenty minutes).

I'm particularly scared because if they can do this for smoking, then what next? Drinking? Eating too much? Not being white? All of which are likely to decrease your life expectancy, or so I'm led to believe. (On the subject of eating too much, don't a significant number of people put on weight when they stop smoking? And if they do, isn't that hazardous to their health?)

Yeah you guessed it, I'm at work (for the first time in three days, and I actually had a very productive day, go team me), it's gone six o'clock and I wanted something to rant about. Back in the good ol' days I would have gone outside and tried to smash beer bottles with a football (of the spherical variety), but now that I'm cooped up in frigid Ohio, I have to find alternative means to relieve my excess aggravation. After all how many swear words can you write on a little yellow notepad?

Monday, January 24, 2005

In which the author again feels like shit on a Monday morning

Okay so actually it is now Monday afternoon, but I'm sure if I was awake for more than half an hour of the morning I would have been feeling just as shit then. In fact I'm feeling so bad that I'm currently sat at my desk wearing two jumpers and a scarf. I wouldn't be in work at all if I didn't have to prepare a short (30 minutes) talk for tomorrow's astro-particle/cosmology group meeting. We are currently up to two slides, so there is a fairly long way to go. I should probably be writing that and not this, but procrastination is such fun.

Amazingly enough the reason that I'm feeling so bad today, is entirely unrelated to last night's activities. It is instead because I have what could be described as 'man flu'. That is I feel somewhat unwell but feel this entitles me to moan, groan and lay about the house feeling sorry for myself. In fact I was tucked up in bed by about half past midnight, and still I couldn't struggle out of bed until gone eleven this morning. It is a sorry state to be in indeed.

On the subject of sorry states to be in, damn you Philadelphia Eagles. My poor little Falcons were outplayed, and possibly outclassed, yesterday, and I was denied the $120-odd dollars I would have won for Atlanta getting to the Superbowl. Bugger! In the other game, I really wanted the Steelers to win, but they got their arses handed to them as well. Bollocks! At least United managed to beat Villa on Saturday, winning me the princely sum of £3.12, so it wasn't a complete sporting disaster weekend for me.

In other news, I somehow ended up at High Five's goth/industrial night for a while on Saturday night. And it was certainly very interesting. It was somewhat disorienting to be sat at a table with a guy in a cardigan, a girl in a fluffy jumper and a bobble hat, while everyone else in the bar was all gothed-up. It pretty much felt like a night at the carnival, although whether we were the exhibits or audience I wouldn't like to say. I spent much of the evening mesmerised by an orange and brown painting on the wall. At first glance the picture just looked like an orange sunset over a brown landscape, but after looking at it a couple of times (it's rude to stare at the people, but the paintings don't mind) I noticed there was a figure at the front of the landscape. So from then on I kept on trying to look at the picture and not see the figure, which I managed a couple of times. I imagine it is more indicative of my state of intoxication than the quality of the artwork, that it could transfix me for so long. But I'd like to go back and have a look at it sober, to see what I think.

Friday, January 21, 2005

iPod Slapping

My iPod has been misbehaving of late. It started a few weeks ago when I was listening to it using my shiny new speakers, with the iPod sat in charging in its dock. Apparently the iPod does not like to be played while it is sat charging in its dock, or at least it doesn't like being played in the cold. Anyhow to cut a long story short, the iPod got stuck in the state where it only shows you the folder icon. Some combination of plugging it into the computer and running through the hard drive tests in the 'secret' diagnostic mode, fixed this problem and I had trouble free operation for a couple of weeks. In fact it worked fine until Wednesday afternoon when it hung while playing an Oasis song (maybe it just doesn't like Liam?), after resetting it we were back at the folder icon.

Oh well, I thought, I'll just repeat what I did last time. So I tried to run the hard drive tests, but they wouldn't run, and I tried to connect it to the laptop, but it wouldn't connect. Rinse and repeat a few times, all to no avail. I even tried to follow Apple's troubleshooting tips, but they didn't work. I was running out of ideas, and would have sent the bloody thing off to be repaired if my 180 days of charge free warranty coverage hadn't ended two days ago (and if the Apple service website had recognised my toy's serial number). After a couple of success free hours I was rather frustrated, so I smacked the iPod against my leg a few times. Lo and behold, the damn thing starts up just fine and dandy. So there we are kids, if all else fails resort to violence.

A few times this week I've tried to write a post about voyeurism and stockings (with regards to watching someone play the piano), getting a guys phone number at a bar (very odd, well not really but if you take it out of context it could be), lying in bed with a piano (okay, it was the bed of a covered truck, but still) and various other things that have amused me when I've not been lying in my sick bed. All those things will have to wait until I feel more inspired, or at least less insipid.

Saturday, January 15, 2005

Containing furry friends, furlessness, dryness and statistics

You might remember my little furry friend, and my posturing about what to do to get rid of him. As seasoned observers of me could probably have predicted, I chose the path of least resistance, that of peaceful coexistence (okay, I was too lazy to do anything about Mr Mouse, apologies if it is actually Mrs, Ms or Miss Mouse). All of which means that this week he was once more terrorising my bathroom. I'm not sure what is so exciting about the underneath of my bath, but Mousey (a pleasantly unisex description) is fascinated by it. It is one of those enclosed tubs, so I don't get to experience the wonders that Mousey does. I have to admit is a little bit unnerving to sit on the toilet, with your knickers around your ankles, knowing that the mouse is scurrying about a couple of feet away. Still, we seem to be getting on okay at the moment.

On the subject of fur, well mice have fur so it's all most on topic, I gave myself my quarterly haircut last night, well hair is like fur so it's almost on topic. The result of which is that I've gone from looking like a fluffy haired fool, to looking like a fuzzy haired retard/asylum escapee. At least that is what the front of my hair looks like, who knows how much of an abortion I made of the back. (That phrase suddenly strikes me as very odd, can abortion really have a qualifier? If it can what would half an abortion look like? Actually, it is probably best not to dwell on questions like that.) The one remaining haircut related question I have is why is furlessness not a word, whereas hairlessness is a word. I think it is discriminatory.

On a completely unrelated note, the skin on my right knuckle is incredibly dry. I can't work out why it is only the skin on my right knuckle that is so dry. I mean, what do I do with only my right hand? Okay having asked that question the obvious answer springs immediately to mind, well to my mind at least. But that is meant to make you go blind not give you a dry patch of skin on your right hand. Unless of course God realised that the practise is now so widespread that blindness was an excessive punishment, so he downgraded it to a bout of dry skin.

In yet more completely unrelated news, I saw, from looking at the usage statistics of this blog (which I spend far too much of my life looking at), that somebody spent a long time looking at the site today, after searching for Victorian's Midnight Cafe. They were someone from Columbus, so now I have to wonder are they someone I know? And if they are someone I know, did I write something that I shouldn't have, as I'm sometimes prone to do after drinking one, or maybe two, more than I should before writing an entry. I suppose only time will tell, or not as the case maybe. It gives me something to think about at least, which is nice as I spent all day in bed today with a nasty stomach bug/ailment/thingy. Hopefully tomorrow will bring me a more healthy tummy.

Monday, January 10, 2005

A remarkable evening

Picture the scene, it's 8:15 and I'm upstairs pacing about my apartment, trying to work out whether or not I should go downstairs to the bar so early in the evening. Eventually, inevitably, the bar wins out and 8:17 you could find me propping up one end of the bar drinking my free Beer Club beer. I didn't want to get too drunk — although quite how one characterises too drunk, I'm not sure — so I nursed this beer for quite a while. Then the not getting drunk plan started to go horribly wrong or things started to go horribly right, depending on your perspective. 'Cause the bar owner, who was quite well lubricated at this point, gave me a free beer, it was a Rolling Rock (or Pennsylvania water as he calls it). Never one to look a gift horse in the mouth, I accepted the beer gratefully and we proceeded to indulge in a spot of drunken conversation. One free beer led to another, which in turn led to another and before you knew it, it was nearing midnight and I hadn't had to pay for any of my beers. Just when I thought I might actually have to purchase a beverage, a friend turns up out of the blue and buys me a Guinness. I seem to recall there was just enough time for one more free beer from the bar owner, before the evening drew to a close.

So, four hours, quite a few beers (and remember this is an Englishman's quite a few beers) and a bar bill of zero dollars. I imagine there won't be too many evenings when I'll lead such a charmed life.

In fact this last week has been a very good week on the Ryan not having to spend a whole load of money for his chemical stimulation front. Several times I've woke up in the morning with a fuzzy head that I didn't fully pay for, financially speaking, the night before. It's all swings and roundabouts though, as these things even out at the end of the day, one way or another.

Friday, January 07, 2005

Mediawatch and offensive material

I read, on that nice Mr Gaiman's website, about the thousands of complaints that the BBC has received over tomorrow night's screening of Jerry Springer - The Opera. My immediate reaction was, how can 20,000 people complain about a program which hasn't been aired yet? Once I had recovered from this bout of disbelief, I discovered the existence of the pressure group Mediawatch, and my mind nearly exploded.

Now I have a number of issues with these people. Starting at the top, how can an organisation which claims to provide research on offence issues in the media, have what is probably the most visually offence website I've ever seen. Blue, red, yellow, it looks like a three year old's finger painting of a website. And why would you go to all of the effort of putting a warning, in tasteful black on yellow no less, on your website saying If you cannot access any menu option above check your address bar. All slashes should be forward facing: / not \, rather than just changing your bloody links so that they use the correct slashes. It's not rocket science, it's just common courtesy.

After much searching through their strangely, read poorly, structured website I finally came across their page about the BBC's showing of Jerry Springer - The Opera. It makes priceless reading, John C Beyer truly is a caricature of himself. I didn't think that people like him still existed in Britain in the 21st century. I guess I was wrong. I mean how far up your own arse do you have to be to start a letter, complaining about an expletive filled TV programme, with praise of the BBC's coverage of the Asian tsunami. It beggars belief how this man's mind works. How will the showing of this programme, beyond doubt, cause very considerable offence to licence-fee payers? Why would you watch an expletive filled programme, if you are the kind of person who gets offended by expletive filled programmes?

Towards the end the letter takes a turn for the surreal when John discovers bold type: If it is your belief that such an objectionable production is appropriate for showing on BBC2 then I believe you should issue a public statement to that effect on behalf of all of the Governors. Surely the fact that they are showing the programme on BBC2, is really the most definite statement that the believe it is appropriate to show such a programme on BBC2.

At the bottom of the page there are a couple of lines I particularly like from the original Daily Mail, where else could a story like this live, article. It contains 3,168 mentions of the f-word and 297 of the c-word — recognised as the most offensive word to viewers. and Research shows such bad language does alienate viewers. I guess they missed people like me when they were doing their research into whether or not bad language alienates viewers.

Oh, in other news I did, as predicted yesterday, end up in the bar last night. Fortunately, I did not repeat my heroic drinking efforts of Wednesday night.

Thursday, January 06, 2005

The evils of drink (revisited)

After two evenings in which not a drop of alcohol passed my lips, last night I possibly had a beer, or two, too many, or too quickly. I didn't even notice that I was getting ridiculous drunk, at the time. It all started out mildly enough with a few slowly drunken beers interspersed with some water. I was even sober, unfortunately enough, while I heard the first set of selected lowlights of a friend's recent holiday from hell with her, now ex-, boyfriend. (I tried to be sympathetic and consoling, the former I almost managed the latter not so much. Which is not to say that I was/am unsympathetic, just that I'm not very good at displaying such emotions. I'd like to file it under British reserve, but emotional cripple may be closer to the mark.)

In fact it was all going well until the bar owner started drinking with me at about midnight. He'd been working until then, so he was pretty much sober at this point, whereas I was pleasantly merry. Regrettably, from that point I started matching him more or less beer for beer. Fast-forward a couple of hours and watch me stumble, almost gracefully, upstairs to my apartment. I was even sober enough to take of my clothes and brush my teeth.

These simple displays of sobriety were merely facades covering my underlying drunkenness. A fact I discovered this morning when I woke with the kind of hangover that wears a black hood over its head and stands on a wooden platform holding a noose. In fact all I did when I woke up, was to roll over and go back to sleep. I repeated this tactic a few times, until about twenty past twelve when my colleague, who yesterday I had mocked for taking the day off work, called me, on his way to work, asking if I'd gone for lunch yet. Sheepishly I had to admit that I was still at home, and that despite coming in after midday he was going to win today's round of who will get to the office first.

If I had a brain I would still be tucked up nice and warm in my bed. I don't and instead I'm staring bleary-eyed at my laptop trying to remember what work is.

Still give it a few more hours and I'm sure I'll be back in the bar.

Sunday, January 02, 2005

A New Year, a long walk and some Latin

So, here we are in 2005. Hopefully it will treat us all less like a dog and more like a man (that is the unisex use of man, as in human) — although sometimes I wonder if the dog has the better deal anyhow. I brought the New Year in with a pleasant haze of chemical stimulation. Most of the evening was spent sitting around a couple of apartments, one of them mine, drinking wine, listening to music and talking with a few friends. Of course the evening started and finished downstairs at the Victorian's Midnight CafĂ©, after all where else could my last drinking night of 2004 (or maybe that should be my first drinking night of 2005) take place than the one where I've drunk the most, made the most friends and had the most fun in 2004. All in all it was a pretty good night, it had all those necessary

When I eventually got to sleep in the early hours of the morning, I dreamt that I was still downstairs talking to people. Nothing particularly remarkable happened in the dream, it was just people having a good time and enjoying each others conversation. But now I'm very confused, as I don't know which half remembered conversations come from the alcohol induced fuzziness of the end of the evening and which ones are from the fuzzy dream. I don't think that I did anything particularly controversial or contentious either in real life or in the dream, so it probably doesn't matter. But it would be nice to know.

For most of the last week I've had my first house guest staying with me here in Columbus (he had to bring his own mattress and bedding, as my hospitality does not extend that far just yet). One of my old office mates came down to see me, well I imagine he came more to return some DVDs and get out of State College for a while, but you get the point. It's always nice to catch up with an old friend, particularly as I am so bloody useless at emailing people that I only find out what is going on when they email me. Anyway, we had a few good days of doing not very much and hanging out at the bar in the evening. In fact it's been a pretty good week.

What I didn't do very much of while he was here was to walk anywhere, and pathetically enough I missed the walking. So, just after he left yesterday morning I put on my coat and my headphones, and headed out into Columbus. I didn't really have a destination in mind as such, I just started walking. After a little while, I realised I was quite close to where the main downtown library was, so I thought I'd go and have a look at it. Obviously being as it was New Year's day I figured the library would be closed, but I thought it would be interesting to see what it looks like. For the record, it looks quite nice.

After seeing the library I thought I'd wonder along East Main Street until I got to the Drexel cinema. The walk was certainly an eye opening experience, as I got to see a part of Columbus that I haven't really seen before. That is one of the more excessively poor and destitute parts of Columbus. All of sudden I was walking along the street and I started noticing that there were lots of boarded up houses around me, and then I started noticing that I was the only white face I'd seen for a couple of miles — except for the guy in the cowboy hat on a billboard advertising the local country music station (I'm not sure if that is the most optimally placed billboard in Columbus, or maybe I'm just very much mistaken about the demographic that listens to country music stations). The only thing that seemed to be thriving in this area of town, Olde Towne East I believe, were shitty looking rundown churches. Why is it that in the part of town that the all-loving Christian God seems to have forgotten the most, he has the most houses dedicated to his worship? If I have a god that I believe in, and I'm not sure I do, I like to think he'd be the kind of god that didn't prey so much on the hopes of the weakest sections of society.

After trudging through mile after mile of destitution I walked under a railway bridge, there's always has to be a wrong side of the tracks I guess, and into a very nice, very upper class, very expensive neighbourhood. There was no gradual change, there was just a sharp line separating the haves from the have nots. It wasn't an organic and natural change like you get in most older (centuries older) cities, it was cold and harsh and almost clinical. It felt very strange. Of course the film I wanted to see, A Very Long Engagement, started too late for the me to catch the last bus home, and one long walk a day is enough for me. So, I just got a cup of coffee and caught the number 2 bus home.

I was asked on New Year's eve if I'd made any resolutions, and I realised that I hadn't. So now that I've had a chance to think about for a while here are some of my resolutions: be nicer to my body (either through better food, more exercise or some other way), do more work (should be a fairly easy one to achieve), like myself more (and no I don't mean masturbate more) and carpe a few more diems (in many areas of my life, but really in one in particular).