Thursday 30 October 2008

Virtual Worlds

It had to happen – the digital “whodunnit” crime.

A middle aged piano teacher from Japan was arrested recently for murdering her virtual husband by hacking into his computer and erasing his carefully constructed character from Maplestory, a role playing game. Her crime in real life was hacking into his computer.

A few weeks ago, in a less sinister but bizarre scenario, a friend of mine was swooped upon and passionately kissed in Second Life, another virtual world.

I then switched on the radio and happened to hear assorted food chemists in a happy frenzy discussing modern day equivalents of Roald Dahl’s everlasting gobstoppers and sticks of chewing gum that taste like three course meals.

All of this got me thinking. Where and how do we draw the boundaries between real and virtual?

Our most current example is of course, our virtual money markets. Not that I can claim to understand exactly how they work or why they collapsed like a pack of cards, but it smacks of virtual living gone wrong.

The reason all of this bothers me is that I went to visit the Imperial War Museum.

Entering the hall I was struck by the sheer size of First and Second World War tanks, the hanging bombers and massive guns. I was spellbound by the old helmets and the tattered soldiers’ playing cards, lighters, photos and diaries.

I felt somewhat overcome. Everything seemed too big, too frightening, too ...real.

However, in some ways, it was the innocuous signs outside the Holocaust exhibit and the Crimes Against Humanity sections that made me pause the longest.

“This exhibition is not recommended for children under 14. Parents wishing to take younger children into the Exhibition may do so at their own discretion. Children must be closely supervised at all times.”

Even the last gory Batman movie “The Dark Knight” had a 12A certificate.

So back to the exhibits.

In some ways they were frightening and distressing but only because they refused to hide historical facts. I browsed stories, photos, testimonials, video clips, speeches and poignant remains of shoes, clothes, letters and drawing from concentration camps.

It was a reminder how recent the Holocaust was and how many wars and genocides around the world we’ve created since.

I find it continually amazing that we are so eager to shelter people from the real world - but we are so ready to enter into virtual ones.

What does that really say about us and has it done any good?

Wednesday 29 October 2008

Blog envy?

I have a few favourite blogs I turn to for laughs, to check on friends, to see how sane or insane they are - but I am feeling something like blog or is it life envy?

I don't post pictures of my nights out and friends. I probably should. It all looks a bit mundane to me on this blog. Maybe not to others. I am no longer sure.

I don't express myself as openly as many others and certain subjects are definitely off limits for me.

This sort of defeats its purpose though as it is supposed to be a private/public forum. If I feel constrained, what's the point? The best blogs are the ones that make you slightly squirm as it feels a little like you're reading a private diary.

There is a certain level of exhibitionism in having a blog -but I don't want to tell all. Hence the dichotomy.

God almighty - why I do make everything so complicated?

Sickness and snow

It snowed last night in London. It's October. I had been out all day and getting home, buses and walking, I got soaked, cold and wet.

I had an aching sore throat.

Now it is fully fledged, I feel hot, cold, tired, teary. Everything aches.

Of course, I know that I have brought some of this on myself. Waiting, anxious, no news, stress, too much time, checking bank balances, fretting, comparing, worrying.

None of that does much for a body.

Thursday 23 October 2008

What the Dickens?

I heard this expression today and it made me cackle inwardly with laughter.

But actually I think it deserves a revival.

It is nicer than "What the Fk", more descriptive than "What on earth." Better than - "What the hell, or In God's name.." which seems a bit heavy at times.

I shall reclaim this expression like a piece of marshland.


Tuesday 21 October 2008

Friday 17 October 2008


I get accused of not being enthusiastic.

Why is that so?

Am I such a cynic?

If so when and why did that happen?

It is a curse.

And costing me opportunities as I can't do the fake, happy, smile.
People like enthusiastic people.

Friday 10 October 2008

Bikram Bootcamp Yoga?


I have never felt so compelled to blog in my life. I have just tried my first ever American Bikram yoga class. Who was to know?

I knew it was in a heated studio. I knew I would sweat a lot.

What I did not not know was that the class was led by a man with blond crew cut, barking orders into a microphone mouth piece.

Nor did I know it was SADISTIC.

Here are some one liners that nearly made me burst out laughing - getting them down before I forget.

1. We do not serve cheese cake, we serve pain.
2. I said 45 DEGREES, that is half of 90. 45 (in loud bark).
3. It is meant to hurt.
4. Again, if you don't feel pain, it isn't working
5. I know you feel like you're having a heart attack -better to feel like that now than later in life.
6. Did I say you can take a water break? Did I? I did not. I will tell you when you can drink.
7. Do not get up and go to the bathroom. You get before or after. THAT IS IT.
8. Do not use water to shower yourself with, it is for drinking.

Apparently, I did quite well for a newby.

I hated every minute of it but was too scared to get up and leave. I could feel my heart pounding throughout the entire class, my ears went funny, I couldn't breathe, my head was spinning and all I kept thinking of -get me out, get me out.

The clock seemed hidden and remember the melting Salvador Dali clock -I am sure it was.

Never ever again.

Thursday 9 October 2008


It's a fun time to be here just before the election.

I must buy some Obama trickets - some great T shirts and a very fun bag whereby 20 per cent goes to the campaign. Whatever happens, it is an historic moment and I feel I should engage.

Two strange observations today about the grand Ol US of A.

I can't find a shop that sells newspapers.

Yup. True. I can find chemists that sell magazines, small annoying vending machines which I never have the right change for, Starbucks which sells a couple of things but...where or where can I buy a newspaper. Do they not have newsagents? Newstands? This needs further investigation.

Second point today. When you go into a shop to try things on -they looked at me like I was MAD when I said pointedly - I HAVE THREE THINGS.

"Yeah - whatever - go right in..."

But thinking she may be deaf and separating the things I tried again. "Three - three things..".

She turned, pushed me into a changing room and slammed the door.

Being British is not helping today.

We may speak the same language, but I am definitely an Englishman in New York. Sort of.

Thursday 2 October 2008

Slipping away

Everything is random isn't it?

Except as my good friend Chris said yesterday - until we decide it isn't.

So I have had two more job interviews. One I enjoyed but not sure if I can survive on the salary. One went really badly. Can't explain why - immediate clash of personalities. Contradictions. Expectations not met. Not what I thought it was, maybe I wasn't what they thought. Who knows?

It was hard - panel interviews on the phone always are.

The holiday was ok. Nothing special. It rained. Freak floods in Southern Spain - the worst in 22 years.

Of course.

Nice food and wine and good long treks - despite the kagul down to my knees.

I may post some photos if I can be bothered.

I feel like everything is a really really big effort at the moment.