Grey Matter


Blogging seems to be easy for some. There is a never-ending stream of strange, wonderful, outrageous, depressing, enlightening events that march in regular formation through some lives. Am I so unperceptive that I miss opportunities to recount drama? Is my safe suburban life so padded with buffering and insulation that these events just cannot happen? Do the most interesting bloggers exaggerate the small things, or perhaps even deliberately make choices that result in dramatic incidents? Maybe I just over-react to my dramatophilic acquaintances and deliberately play down the things I should get excited about. Or maybe...
...maybe I am fated by the Gods of Oz to live an uneventful life.
Bruces (god of culture-free entertainment): "We've devised some new fun."
Steves (god of mindless outdoor activities): "Crikey Bruces! Isn't Oz-Rulez football good enough for ya?"
Bruces: "They're changing the rules to make it safer for the players. How un-Oz is that? We needed a special project to keep us from going mad as a dingo's social worker."
Steves: "Whatcha planning?"
Bruces: "We've selected one poor sod and removed all the stressful happenings from his life for the first forty-odd years. In fact, we've given him an extra lick of luck to make troubles disappear like promises after an election."
Steves: "But where's the entertainment in that, mate?"
Bruces: "It leaves him completely unprepared, Steves. We haven't actually removed the nasty bits; we've just saved them up ready to dump on him all at once."
Steves: "Gawd Bruces, we'd like to see that!"
Bruces: "Any time now, Steves. Any time."


I dive into dust-covered files every now and then. There are lots of sketchy ideas that never came to anything. Some made it to completion, but once done failed to click. These rarely found the light of day. After all, who should I show them to? If they're not good enough to publish on a web page or post in a public forum, does that mean they should be shredded? The answer I choose (today at least) is that I'll show them to whoever is prepared to show enough interest to read.
You're still here and still paying some attention?
Well, here's your "reward" for being foolish enough to appear interested. It was a daft idea that I worked on in early April this year. I wondered if I could write a humorous tragedy. Tragedy led my mind inexorably to Greek Tragedy and from there, Geek Tragedy was just a tiny slip away. Geek is always funny. Even the word sounds funny. And geeks can be so tragic. The idea just had to be written.
Maybe I'll take a completely clean sheet of paper to it later.

A Geek Tragedy

Comp Sci, year one, I bent my brilliant mind
to beat the mighty Gates. Fortune and fame
would fall my way once I could make a start.
I waited for my market niche to bloom.
The money, I would wear like angel wings
and wield my famous trademarks like a lord
while leggy starlets queue to cry my name
and cover me with unbridled desire.

Comp Sci, year two, my greedy goal had died
and given way to mastering the machine.
This mind would fill the world with free-ware code
to fight the shrink-wrap enemy's evil hold.
As enigmatic guru of the GNU
I'd grow in peer respect and cult renown
till rich young women, drawn by my mystique,
would melt beneath my sensual, smoldering gaze.

Comp Sci, year three, the IT market's tight
and time is short. My marks are not that great.
See me, a geek, with little left but dreams
and lonely hours of jpegs, books and beer.
That brunette in my graphics class is cute
and clever, so she'll never notice me.
Next year, post-grad robotics rules, but now
I'll read about Pygmalion one more time.


The mathematician in me looks back to statistics and queuing theory to try to explain why there are times when there seems to be nothing to do and other times when there are too many things to fit. The pessimist in me looks at the same circumstances and mutters imprecations at Murphy. Sometimes understanding doesn't make me feel better.


Why can't I have entertaining dreams?

In a dream last night I was given the job of cleaning the overgrown moss and weeds off a sloping house roof. I started to climb up onto the roof using a window sill for footing, then realised I could damage my clothes (I was wearing a long coat - not the best for climbing in). I stepped back down and climbed up using the ladder that was just round the corner. As I was cleaning and scraping, I slid slowly down the roof slope to the ground - since now the roof extended all the way to the ground. When did that happen? Why didn't I just walk up the slope rather than climb a ladder? I kept working. Dream ends.

Maybe I do have very entertaining dreams but just don't remember them. Maybe I only wake up happy because of my unremembered fits of dream laughter. I must find out. I can't bear the thought that my brain might be enjoying itself behind my back... erm... while I'm asleep.
I need to install Dream-Recorder(R). It's available for free download - compatible with 90% of human wetware. (May fail to run in certain lobotomized configurations. Does not record drug induced hallucinations.) Installation only requires a high quality sound card and headphones, but getting the timing right is difficult. You must run the installer during a REM phase. If you haven't got someone who is prepared to sit by your bed and monitor your sleep phases, the easiest install method is to tape your headphones onto your ears and put the install software in auto-repeat mode for the whole night. You can tell if it managed to install correctly by the heads-up display - the fluorescent status panel in the dark area to the left of your left eye's vision. Don't worry if the display panel seems distracting. You'll soon learn to ignore it. Of course the panel position is configurable. A lot of users prefer to place it between their eyes and slightly above the visual field - the so-called "third eye" position.
There's only one thing that stops me downloading it. No, it's not the fear of screwing up my brain, it's the fine print at the bottom of the web page.
"Customers please note: While Dream-Recorder(R) is a free, fully-functional, brain-enhancement program, its companion product - Dream-Player(R) - is still in the final stages of development and will be released on a pay-per-view basis. We are committed to keeping our price per dream down to a level competitive with most live entertainment venues."


An old versifier, through vanity,
prefered not to publish profanity.
Expletives he'd mention
would temper his tension
and interfere with his insanity.

View More Limericks


I need a tube of blog-filler. Something to fill an unsightly gap in a blog and smooth it over. It doesn't even have to be an exact colour match. There's enough variety (pronounced In`con*sist"en*cy) in the blog that a little blog-filler wouldn't be noticed.

The one-word page had "beg" as the word of the day. What a thoroughly depressing word. Anything I write about using it sounds bleak and hopeless. But I'm not in a hopeless mood. I'm just in my usual cruise-along, unfazed mode. If I try to write about a word like "beg" it has to sound insincere.

The funniest thing that happened through the day was listening to a cheesy lounge cover of NIN's "Closer" song. The dog noises as word censors were hilarious.


Which is better? To blob in front of a tv for the evening and accept professionally produced stories of unreal people, or to blob in front of a PC and be involved in the filtered stories of real people?
Real people's stories usually cannot provide the sensational variety of the mass media. Mass media material is a selection of dramatic highlights of many people - condensed, clarified, shaped into the mental mould of the producer, then distributed to millions of hungry viewers.
Real people's stories have long periods of ordinariness, punctuated by times of anxiety and excitement. With real people one can afford the luxury of interacting on a one-to-one or one-to-few basis. With this interaction, one can compensate for the long banal periods by exercising creativity. Interactive stories take more effort and may be less spectacular, but they also carry higher risks and rewards. A tv will not say "I've got a heap of work to get done so I can't talk much today." But on the other side of the coin, a tv won't compliment you on things you've done or suggest ways to improve.
I choose to spend very little time watching tv. I would rather interact, whether it be a game, a public bulletin board, or just conversation. I want to be involved in making the story.

More on limericks

getting incredibly lazy
grammar driving me crazy
can't give a stuff
few words enough
meaning might seem a bit hazy

More of my lessons in the art of limerickery. I did say I'd "give tips on the use of one's lips", didn't I?

The juxtaposition of consonants
leads teeth, tongue and lips in a dainty dance
and an opus of vowels
thrills me through to my bowels
and causes a stir in my underpants.

The Kiss of the Limerick

A limerick's alliteration
applied with some lip lubrication
and a light, rolling lick
or a rough, flirting flick
will likely result in elation.

View More Limericks


Last night we went out to see Matrix Reloaded. Forty million dollars worth of freeway chase scene can't be wrong, can it? Well the film certainly has impact. It is brilliant entertainment. The constant switching between real-time and slow motion during the action scenes is very effective in reinforcing the blinding speed. Viewing all the fights in real-time would be overloading - causing a mental tune-out.
From a story point of view, I think they have turned Neo into a superman without leaving any kryptonite around. His only vulnerabilities are now the people he is close to. To me, this represents a simplification - a step down in target age group. Within the matrix I ceased to worry about Neo's personal safety. I hope the third movie doesn't continue the "arms race" mentality between Neo and anti-Neo.
It was refreshing to see a reasonable amount of time dedicated to the free-will/determinism problem. It was disappointing to see the anachronistic insertion of mythological creatures in the matrix. I could see the internal logic for doing so, but it still seemed to shift the paradigm. Instead of high-tech autonomous agents, purpose designed to eliminate the non-conformances, we have magical mutant creatures with some unexplained alliegence to a hedonistic, information power-monger. There was probably some deeper symbolism to this enemy, but in an action movie there is little time to be dedicated to it's exposition.


My 666th post came up on EK. I had to do something a little special to post in EK's dining room:

Basements decked out with sadistic devices,
Diminutive minions and sweet sacrifices,
Free, fallen angels with featherless wings,
These are a few of my favourite things.

Pushers and pimps and puffed-up politicians,
Frustrated clergy in power positions,
Gluttonous binges, promiscuous flings,
These are a few of my favourite things.

Scurrilous rumours and poisonous sniping,
Spamming and flame wars and incessant griping,
Six six six postings of smart-alec stings
These are a few of my favourite things.

When the job pays,
When the friend rings,
When the posts are glad,
I simply imagine their asses in slings
And then I don't feel so bad.

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