Monthly Archives: January 2010

Killing hotmail

It’s got to be done. It feels like drowning a faithful old dog though. The poor old thing’s so sick I’m suffering from the fleas myself just by being around him. He still has some joy in life but he’s just limping on smiling at past the memory of past romps.

So I’m killing my hotmail account. This isn’t like my once-announced-instantly-retracted wish to commit Facebook suicide (feeling miffed that my FB profile has more friends than I do), this is a sad, reluctant but inevitable acceptance of the fact that I would now never, ever, ever give my hotmail address to anyone I didn’t think was a spammer.

It’s not just that if I used it for real mail I’d never find my mail among the crap, although that’s a part of it.  It’s not just that I end up reading the spam just to laugh at its Ricky Gervais embarrassing pathos, although that’s part of it.  It’s also because of, I admit it – what other people think.  I can see it in their eyes.  Poor soul.  I wonder if she’s got a colour screen or still one of those green and black ones.  Must be difficult not being able to upgrade and so on with no DVD drive.  Or can you get Windows on 3 1/2″ floppies?  Who knows, maybe she’s happy just running DOS. If I don’t move on I’ll be classed as a techmoron by my peers until computers progress so far that it’ll really be the same as writing on a book with a pen. Or standing in your living room playing air guitar, or singing into a hairbrush.  Sorry, not hairbrush, specially designed computer microphone.  The difference is obvious.

So this is the age we’re in.  I’m judged by the email account I signed up for in 1998, on a Gateway computer with a 2x CD drive and an AOL dial-up connection to the interthing, where you could, um, send a letter without going to the post office. Or you could waste hours talking crap to people you didn’t know and never would, panicking to reply in time before the moment was gone lest the strangers think you were a newbie. And now none of us can work without it all.  And, if I’m honest, I love it, I’m not a tech geek but I’ve loved it all since the Sinclair Spectrum +2 took up my weekends with inputting miles of commands to make a pixel wobble for 30 seconds and then stop again.  That kind of retro is cool, but mailing “Sarah’s sexy new pics” or “CHEAP V1AgR_A” to everyone who’s ever written to you isn’t.  It’s got to go.  There will be a mail to everyone to let them know that if they’re got more than one mail for me, then hotmail is not the one I’m using.  Please don’t be offended: this time it doesn’t mean I think you’re a spammer.


Lifelong Learning

When we start out we know nothing, and it’s great.
We just scream when we want stuff, even if we don’t know what it is we want. Anything not right, just yell, and They will fix it. I’d like to say I remember it fondly, but I can’t remember it, I’m just speculating based on my jealous fantasy of how good babies have got it. The point is, it doesn’t last long.

You’re not even a year on the planet, and the pressure’s on. It starts with the kids who can stride across entire rooms unassisted while the rest of us are still stamping on our Weetabix mush and putting our feet in our mouths. Some of us never stopped with that last bit. Mums know, even decades later, how old we were when we first managed to convict ourselves out of our own mouths, or write our names, sing a song all the way through… you have to know stuff, and when you’re little, you can learn anything you like as long as it’s SOMETHING.

Then school. There’s no point me detailing here what They do, there’s not enough room and I don’t honestly know what is is They do anyway, but They do it, and the whole thing’s not fun anymore, and even if it was it’s not up to you to enjoy it anyway. “You’re not here to mess around young lady, you’re here to learn”. Where did the big contrast come from? How come I can’t learn a language by messing around? It worked for English. Ok, ok, whatever. I’ll just… stare out of the window.

“Alex is a pleasant child who seems uninterested and daydreams a lot.” Hm. Really?

Then: the world. They want to know what I’ve learned, but nothing I know counts. I’m stuck. It’s not just me, I know. Okay, my Home Ed period isn’t standard procedure, but being seen as at the end of my educational road on the basis of lacking exam-based proof unfortunately is. So what are the options?

You can do an NVQ. Anybody can do an NVQ, by gathering witness evidence of the tasks they do in their job, to prove they can do those tasks. Yes, it is exactly what it sounds like. You get someone to witness you doing your job, the one you landed in because you didn’t have the right pieces of paper, to prove that you can do that job, and then you get a piece of paper for it. To prove you can do what you were doing before. It doesn’t take an NVQ in Stagnation Risk Calculation to figure out that the risks of sudden advancement and enlightening new awarenesses are limited.

You can take a year out (if you can afford it) to do an Access course which will then get you entry into university (if you can afford it). To be honest though, it’s easier to ask your parents to sink even further into debt to finance your plans when you’re still young enough to pull off the eyelash-batting thing. And that’s if your parents aren’t brassic.

So that’s how I ended up at the Open University: convinced that I’m not too stupid to do a degree, but too cash-strapped and committed to adult life to be able to go to university and prove it to the world. I’m still a long way off my degree, but that’s not really the point. I’m not shut out of learning anymore. I can learn anything I like. If I’m good, I’ll get pieces of paper for it. If not, I’ve learned as much as I can about it, and that’s still more than before.

OU Study isn’t something we do while we’re waiting for Grownup Life to come for us, a step on the way to where we want to be… well, mostly not. For me at least, it’s part of life, it’s fun, and it’s one of only three ways I can treat myself that are perfectly legal, moral and non-fattening. It’s so absorbing that I barely even notice grownup life passing me by, and the Weetabix mush returning under my feet, and the world opening up to me because I’ve discovered that I can learn anything I like. Mostly by messing around.


some boxes

some boxes

I like boxes.  They offer the same potential as the IKEA catalogue, the potential to have everything sorted and to hand.  Every half-ball of wool and used-up refill-less refillable pen, and the squillions of paper sizes for the umpteen printers I’ve outlived.  All this gubbins, and the useful stuff too.. these boxes fill me with the pleasant illusion that I really have a chance of keeping not only January’s tax receipts in order, but each month’s receipts for the rest of the year, and knowing where they are when the time comes.

I start to think I could organise my unfinished work into the right size and shape of box for me to instantly recognise it as important unfinished work – of course there’d need to be a box for unimportant unfinished work too – and of course I’d equally instantly act on it.

If I could just categorise eveything in my life then I would surely spring into action every morning, with a Pollyanna smile and go-get’em attitude that would, powered by categorised boxes, casks, cases, safes and trunks, be strong enough to easily overpower my acquired ah-fuckit can’t-be-arsedness.

I’d need a little safe for problems, so I wouldn’t have to carry them around when I’m not on scheduled worry time.  And a vacuum-sealed underbed ziplock for laziness, to allow me to get the most out of times when I can’t work due to illness.  A luxury, plush one with a gold clasp, for distractions, that I could open as a reward after completing stuff: and a childproof one for getting wound up by idiots.  That last one I could open up when the “Gumption to stand up for myself” box is getting low, and just shunt some over.

I could get a special super-safe box to hold all the dangerous or top-secret boxes, and hide all of my embarrassing moments there, far away from Facebook, like a picture in the attic, but safer… I’m hiding the worst bits of me, there’s no real danger of this developing a personality, after all.

I could quarantine my own inaction, completely.  I could take apart my own personality flaws, stack them in separate boxes marked “DO NOT OPEN”, and hope Pandora never comes along to piddle on the parade.  I’d need a bloody huge crate for my Baseless Optimism though, and I don’t know if I’d ever get around to sorting out the mammoth Procrastination Vault. I could do all this, I really could, if the world would just effing stand still long enough for me to categorise all of it.  It doesn’t though, so my things are currently categorised into “small enough to fit into the box I’ve got in my hand”, “too big for this box: find another box” and “not box-shaped”.  The last category is easily the biggest.

Probably a good thing.

Hello world!

First post!  Nothing to say, but chuffed to get some words up!