30 May 2008

Our House...

picture by Florinda©
(our new house)
... is in the middle of our street.

Which is good because within 100 metres of our front door are no fewer than two different DIY stores. One of them is very small and very expensive. The other is quite a lot smaller but just a little bit more expensive. I am their best customer (both of them)

The nearest B&Q is eleven miles away.

So, on Tuesday, after the tiny DIY store sold me a washing machine waste pipe extension hose for only £34.99 (don't ask - it's a temporary measure) but didn't have any washing machine waste pipe extension hose connectors I went on to the small store, where the assistant looked at me entirely blankly and invited me, very cordially, to search the shelves for myself and, please, to buy anything that might possibly connect two such hoses together and if it doesn't work then you can always bring it back, except that the computer is down so I'll write you a manual receipt so that Alice - she isn't here now, but she'll be here after lunch - realises what it is, is that OK? But anway if you just tell her you're the new people in Sally's house she'll be fine about it.

Before me in the queue was a lady of a certain age. "You can leave a message on my London number", she said. "or you can call me here! It's IDEN 600. Or...it used to be anyway"

STD dialling arrived in the 1970s

It's weird outside london.

I bought two small pieces of plastic (one was free) and forty-seven jubilee clips (no flies on me) and just thirty-six later hours the the washing machine was working.

Today we got broadband.

19 May 2008


picture by A5 Magazine
Does everyone have free will or just some of us, some of the time?

Last week at the Institute of Contemporary Arts a disparate group of collectors were taken by the hand and led gently up the slope of obsession to the precipice of madness.. whence they were invited to peer over the edge.

It was part of series called the Philosophy of the Overlooked (faintly ironic that it was a sell-out, then) and we were all there - well, I was there - to understand why people collect and perhaps (having been known to be a collector from time to time) to understand ourselves

And also, it must be said, because Mrs Botogol and I have joined the ICA and I want to get my money's worth.

The ICA had invited the audience to send in pictures of their collections and these were displayed overhead before the talk started, and then they showed us this film, which I would recommend to anyone who has ever alphabetised their CDs, catalogued their books, or stared forlornly at a garage full of stuff, wondering where it all came from (it's 20 minutes, and if you prefer you can watch it in HD here)

POSSESSED from Martin Hampton on Vimeo

After it was done the collectors shifted their feet a little, there were some coughs of the "I am with you, but not of you" type, and we all looked around at each other wondering which one of us it was who collected the knives.

Do OCD sufferers have free will? They don't seem to have free will - not even to themselves and I wonder if seeming (to oneself) to have free will is no more or less than actually having it, and conversely to feel that free will is lost, is to lose it. In other words: No, they don't.

Or perhaps, some people might say: they should simply pull themselves together.

The panel smiled and articulated and opined, distancing themselves carefully from the subjects of the film, and certainly no one in their right mind could accuse Anita Zabludowicz of having anything other than the freest of will of the most expensive kind.... But still, but still.. a careless reference to continuing her collection 'to see what happens to my life' had unnerving connotations of a force just slightly beyond her control, and when she said it the phrase 'I could die like this', from Hampton's marvellous short film, echoed in my mind.

18 May 2008

Poisoned Apples and Other diversions

This Thing of Darkness by Harry Thompson

Fictionalised story of two great thinkers (Charles Darwin, Robert Fitzroy) whose minds and ideas spiral around each other's through their parallel, intertwined and tortured lives.

Their ideas changed the world but the world didn't thank them for it; with genius came madness, sadness and suicide.

Funny, Distracting, Absorbing, Inspiring 9/10

A Madman Dreams of Turing Machines by Janna Levin

Fictionalised story of two great thinkers (Alan Turing, Kurt Godel) whose minds and ideas spiral around each other's through their parallel, intertwined and tortured lives.

Their ideas changed the world but the world didn't thank them for it; with genius came madness, sadness and suicide.

Funny, Distracting, Absorbing, Inspiring and self-referential 8/10

The odd thing: I picked up this book hard on the heels of Thing of Darkness, thinking it would make a change.

14 May 2008

Catastrophe Avoided

picture by SlipstreamJC
It's been such a long time since I sent my card to PostSecret that I reckon I've finally come to terms with the reality of the situation: he's NEVER going to publish it.

But then I thought: what's the point of having a blog, and sending your secrets to someone else? Why don't I simply reveal my secret right here on Green Ideas.

So here goes: (drum roll): I quite fancy getting myself a Man-Bag.

(There. I feel better already)

The thing is: I just can't find the right one - it's so hard, you see, because a bag says so much about one, doesn't it?

But then this morning, on the tube, I spotted a bloke with the perfect bag. It wasn't canvas, but nor was it leather either. It was not black, but it was not really a colour. The strap was neither too short nor too long, the bag neither too big nor too small.

I edged a bit closer to try and see the brand but there wasn't a logo or a name in sight (even better then). In fact there were no distinguishing marks whatsoever. I'll have another look on the escalator, I thought.

And then at Canada Water the guy unexpectedly got up to leave.

Reader... I don't know what came over me, but let me tell you I came *that close* to tapping a stranger on the shoulder and saying 'Dude! that's a lovely bag, where did you get it?'

... before I came to my senses.

Now that's what I call a close shave.

Well, I'm pretty pleased with it...

The end of season video, that is.

I just wish I had a pound for every hour I spent editing it, because, well....I'd have £30 now. (No, you're right: it shouldn't be that hard. Let's just say I'm two codecs short of a Blu-Ray)

Still, it turned out all right in the end, I reckon.
OK then: volume up to 11 before you press play... and...action...

13 May 2008

Silly Things to Do on the Web

So, there's a group on flickr where people send in videos of themselves reciting a weekly list of words... so that you can see how other people pronounce them.

Um; that's it.

I could hardly resist.

(I am speaking a *lot* more slowly than normal)

06 May 2008

Just 15 seconds

picture by Dioboss
The worst part of the triathlon is coming out of T2 (the second transition: bike to run)

The point about transition is: you have to concentrate.

Otherwise you might spend valuable seconds, say, running the long way way around the bike racks, falling over your own pedals and then pulling your elastic laces too tightly and feeling your toe slowly and irretrievably bruising between km3 and km4.

But that's the same for T1, I hear your cry, so what's so special about T2?

Well, what makes T2 different is: it's the start of run. So, you rack your bike, you change your shoes, you straighten up slowly and you gingerly test the legs that have turned to jelly from the cycle-ride and you get going and you suddenly realise that there's no point jogging the 200m from transition area to the start line... dude you've gotta RUN1

I was in the Thames Turbo Triathlon. I achieved a personal best [:-)] 2min 20sec faster than last year, with improvement on all three legs (in retrospect I realise 5 mins was hopelessly unrealistic)

I copped a red light at the junction by waterworks; I wobbled and faltered when I took the u-turn at the roundabout much, much too fast; .... yes, I got lost in T2....; and I stopped momentarily at km3.5, adjusting my elastic laces in a (no doubt) vain effort to save my toenail. And, infuriatingly, I ended up finishing just 15 SECONDS slower than my mate John.

Not that I am competitive or anything.

When I went back afterwards to retrieve my bike my neighbours were telling war stories. "I overtook you on the bike", 652 announced to 534 (rather gleefully, in my opinion) "and I overtook you again during the run!"

"Yeah," said 534, only slightly annoyed, "so I sure whupped you in the transition, didn't I?"

In other news: in a fit of inexplicable absent mindedness last week, we somehow forgot all about the credit crunch and went and bought a house (yes, we're those ones mentioned by name in the recent Halifax market survey). Oh well, we'll enjoy it when we retire. When perhaps it will again be worth what we paid for it.

Meanwhile to any of my American readers who'd like to rent a beautiful 15th Century English house, in the charming town that Henry James loved and treasured... well now's your chance.

1 My children tell me that only Americans can use the word 'dude' and get away with it; but I rather think I carried it off.