Showing posts with label Pondering. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Pondering. Show all posts

Saturday, 27 October 2018

Back to the 90s

Well, it's been an interesting week. I've still had my ear blocked – that's about ten days now. I went to the doctor yesterday and he peered inside and said my ear was full of wax and that I should continue putting in olive oil and Otex on a daily basis because it seems to be working and might solve the problem. But if not, it will make it easier for the nurse to suck it out when I get it syringed on the 5thNovember. Matron!

In the social news – we are shitting plastic. People all over the world have had their poo studied and micro plastic has been found in most of them. So micro plastics are already in the human food chain. Via what? Must be sea fish. That must be the main one. Surely it can't be in fruit and veg or in meat from vegetarian animals, because they just eat grass and seed, right? Is there micro plastic in rain water? Can it be carried up into clouds? Is it sucked up through the roots of plant systems? Surely not. It's the sea fish – it must be. Lazy buggers drifting along with their mouths open taking any old crap that drifts inside. Some animals may dispose of the plastic better than others, in which case we should eat them.

So where do we find fish that have no plastic in them? Fish farms? River salmon? Grow our own? Some day I would like to try to go down the aquaponics route. I have a fish tank, I have a place to grow tomato plants. All I need are the tilapia, some pipes, a solar powered water pump, and to make the greenhouse into a water system. But I think I need more tanks.

Warning : May contain fish

We got a new fridge freezer today, which I'm looking forward to going home to. Not sure what else I can really get excited about it for. I expect I'll just open and close it a few times, enjoying the lack of having to bend down to get milk for the foreseeable future. Then after the first day I imagine it will become hum drum. Mundane. Just another boring old fridge freezer that takes up the whole kitchen and that we can't really afford. Appreciate your fridge freezers ladies and gentlemen! Don't take them for granted! Go out on a date once a week to keep the spark alive.

I wish we could go back to the 90s. That was the best decade for me. Before Bush, before 9/11, before Facebook. I was in my pre, during and post uni days. I drank, I studied, I read, I philosophised, I traveled, I met a variety of interesting people, I wrote, I did judo, played music, and could hear though both ears.

Maybe I should start a petition : Back to the 90s! When people weren't addicted to cell phones, trolling each other on social media, or shitting plastic.

Sign the petition here.

Tuesday, 22 May 2018

21st May 1942

Yesterday was my father's birthday. He would have been 76. Born in 1942.

Here he is in a picture that I now keep in my passport, probably taken by my mother when they went out on their many scooter rides together back in the black and white days. He's doing a Fonz impression, hands out palm up with a cigarette, shrugging with a smile. He's probably in his twenties as there don't seem to be any babies in the picture on a scooter side-car or such, meaning this photo must have been taken more than 50 years ago. 

Last night I raised a glass for him. Though we didn't see eye to eye much of the time growing up I had been looking forward to spending mellower times ahead with him, but that sadly wasn't to be, as cancer took him in March of 2012.

So the last lesson he taught me was this: 

Sometimes late is not better than never. Sometimes it's the same.

Hug your loved ones. Live life. Do it today.

Wednesday, 2 May 2018

Modest Trumpeter Gets Fired

Ultimately we had to ask George to leave the brass band. He was just too modest. He hated to blow his own trumpet. The conversation went like this:
“I'm sorry George, you're really good, but you have to leave.”
“Because you don't do anything. Don't get me wrong, you're really the best player we've ever had, but you just sit there doing nothing, missing your parts and taking up a chair.”
“Well, I don't like to blow my own trumpet.”
“But you have to.”
“I don't want to.”
“Then why do you come here then?”
“I love music, it's a part of my life. I love playing the trumpet. It's like breathing. Out.”
“Yes, you're a real musician. We've never heard a better trumpeter.”
“Thanks. You're too kind, but it's really nothing.”
“But there's no point you being here if you don't play in the concerts. We need a trumpeter to play your parts.”
“But I don't like blowing my own trumpet.”
“I understand that.”
“Can I blow Tom's trumpet?”
“No, you can't. Tom blows his own trumpet. He needs his own trumpet for his parts.
“Can I play the clarinet?”
“But you're shit at the clarinet. Mary is much better than you at the clarinet.”
“I just have a problem blowing my own trumpet. Seems wrong somehow.”
“Have you taken it to a trumpet repair shop to have a look at it?”
“It's not that.”
“What is it then?”
“I think my trumpet may be haunted.”
“Why would you think that?”
“Every time I blow into it, I – I feel out of breath somehow. A strange stiffness in my joints. Especially the knuckles of my right hand. I hear voices.”
“Voices? What do they say?”
“They say 'Ooooooh, Ooooooh, Rrumpety pumpty pump.”
“Those are the noises a trumpet makes.”
“My trumpet used to belong to my great uncle Arthur, who died playing it one winter's day.”
“How did he die?”
“He got his tongue stuck. Maybe I could be the conductor?”
“That's my job. Look, I know you don't like to brag about it, but there's a time and a place where we have no choice other than to blow our own trumpet. Especially if you're a trumpet player and you're in a brass band.”
“How about the triangle?”

© Chris Young 2018
Image Credit :

Saturday, 28 April 2018

On Baseball

When I was a kid, while all other guys played football, and being somewhat of a non-conformist from an early age, I preferred baseball. 

I'm not sure what the attraction was for that American sport - maybe watching too much TV had a lot to do with it - but it was something about batter versus pitcher mano a mano in the diamond, the crack of a homer in the midst of a silent expectant crowd, which seemed much more alluring than a team of guys versus another team of guys on a muddy pitch kicking a ball around.

Plus, I was rubbish at football. 

I was rubbish at baseball too, but because it wasn't that popular in Scotland my rubbishness could remain undiscovered posing as unreleased exotic American potential, rather than out-in-the-open Scottish rubbishness that was clear to everyone.

Being the only kid interested in baseball in my house, street, town, country meant two things: 1) I was quite good (to my limited knowledge and in my limited circle) and 2) I had no-one to play baseball with. I think this must be the lazy person's fast track to excellence - choose something that absolutely no-one else does - and I realise now it's been a subconscious philosophy of mine from an early age. Explains why I'm not really good at anything.

So to practise I experimented with Swingball. Many long minutes over two or three afternoons per season I spent in the back garden trying to hit the swinging ball round and round with my homemade baseball bat. 

That was hard. 

It's difficult enough to hit a normal pitch from a guy you can see straight ahead of you, but to hit a ball that's unnaturally swooshing round anticlockwise is another kettle of octopi altogether. You'd think it might make me better at hitting curveballs. I don't know, I've never found myself up against someone who could throw one.

One day, in a sports shop, I bought a full-size adult baseball bat that had "Louisville Slugger" printed wonderfully on it which I could hardly swing. But I loved that bat. 

It's funny, baseball is so popular in countries like America and Japan, that it's fine to walk around with a baseball bat because it's clearly a sport accessory. Not so in Scotland. You can't really wander down the shops swinging a baseball bat around. You'll end up with your head bashed in.

Fast forward thirty years. 

I still have that Louisville Slugger baseball bat, and now two catcher's mitts that a good friend gave me in Japan to go with it, and a kid to play baseball with. 

One becomes two.

The bat is too big for my son to swing, so we got him a smaller bat and a couple of small, soft practice balls from ToysRUs. So just to get him out the house on these long Scottish summer evenings we went to the local playpark. To warm up we practise throwing and catching and do some stretches. Then we assign some bases and take turns pitching and batting. His pitching is better than mine because of his snowball throwing over the winter. 

Then they refurbished the local playpark so there's more play and less park, so we go instead to the enclosed sandy football pitch nearby, which is actually much better, because in the park whenever one of us missed the ball it went out through the railings, but the football pitch is fully enclosed with wooden boards and high chain link fence so the ball just bounces right back. We take plastic plant pots filled with stones to act as bases, and a couple more gloves just in case other kids want to join us.

On Sunday just gone we went up to the football pitch and had a practice, but I wasn't really in the mood and I think it showed. I'm a good bit older and slower now, and my energy levels have become unreliable, but it was good to get the kid out the house for a few, so I pressed on. 

When I was pitching I threw one overarm (which he preferred) and inadvertently hit him on the body. The balls we use, as I said, are a bit softer but still probably hurt a bit more than a snowball. I apologised and a few shots later hit him again. Things weren't going well. He looked hurt but he was holding back tears.

Time went on and it was getting close to hometime. He pitched a good one to me and I hit it a cracker and dropped the bat to run while he turned and went after the ball. But to give him a chance and to try and cheer him up a bit I ran in slow motion round the bases while he ran up behind me with the ball, laughing, to get me out.

Ha ha! I've done it, I thought, my dad skills are awesome.

And then somehow elbowed him in the teeth.

That busted the dam and the tears flowed, and the phrase I'd sensed was coming but dreaded nonetheless : "Let's not play baseball again."

We walked home slowly, together but apart, and he went into the house and I stayed outside to see if having another go at painting the fence would dispel the large rain-filled cloud of shit fatherness in which I'd found myself.

The baseball holdall was relegated to the dusty darkness behind the sofa.

A few days after that it was a sunny day after school. He comes home and says the phrase I'd been hoping for but not expecting: "Dad, do you want to play baseball?"

So we packed up the baseball bag and made our way up to the football pitch, passing the playpark, where four little kids were playing.

"Where you going?"

"We're going to play baseball."

"Can we come?"

So now I'm teaching four kids how baseball works. We warm up by practising throwing and catching round the bases, and then move to pitching and batting. I realise that one of the kids is the one who punched out one of my son's baby teeth many years ago, and who had joined us once last year for some baseball practice. He was getting pretty good.

Two days later the doorbell goes.

"Who is it?"

"It's X and Y, asking if we want to go and play baseball."

Two become four.

I smile inside. 

But with a straight face I say what my kid was probably both expecting and dreading to hear.

"No. Homework first."

© Chris Young 2018
Image Credit

Sunday, 22 April 2018

Synonyms of 'feasible'

Every now and then I get a sinking feeling that my vocabulary (along with many other useful mental processes) is slowly deteriorating. So occasionally from now on I might post random synonyms and words of the day from a dip into my thesaurus and/or dictionary.

Today's random synonym is : feasible.

feasible = practicable, possible, reasonable, viable, workable, achievable, attainable, likely ≠ impracticable 

'Feasible' in itself is not a very common or overly used word. Most people usually nowadays say 'doable', which I think is quite a new trendy oversimplified version of 'possible'.

EG. "Shall we meet on Thursday at 2pm? Is that doable?"

Image credit : feasible region

Saturday, 21 April 2018

Social Media Addiction Questionnaire

Do you use social media too much? Answer this short questionnaire to find out.

1. Do you use social media too much?

Image credit :

Monday, 16 April 2018

16 - Going Home

(Day 16 Tuesday 10th April)

Well, here we are at Haneda airport international terminal at 5:50am, and my son and I both agree we are looking forward to going home to our nice warm beds as these early mornings (two of which) were killing us.

a large Gundam in the airport

Well, it's been a whirlwind tour! I think we could have done with a day of just chilling in the hotel to recharge our batteries, but it was really good to catch up with old friends and we can always sleep on the plane home.

The early morning sun-drenched ceiling of Haneda Airport
Thanks to everyone who took time out of their busy lives to see us, and also thanks to those who joined us on the journey via this blog. 

Joking and amusing cultural observations aside, I do love this country and have absolute respect for the customs and traditions here. As with any difference in language and culture, friendly misunderstandings can easily arise, but rather than ignore them and brush them under the carpet it seems to me to be better for everyone to acknowledge them, share a smile with another human being, and get on with our lives.

I can't help finding it fascinating how different peoples communicate, with each other and themselves. For example the Japanese expression kouin yanogotoshi 'Time flies like an arrow', which seems very appropriate for this trip. 

Why do they say like an arrow and not like a bird, or a rocket? It must be because in the days of old when people had more time on their hands to sit around and make up proverbs, they didn't have rockets. And birds don't usually fly in a straight line, fast and dangerous with often death on the end like an arrow. Birds flap hither and thither. Arrows can neither stop nor turn in mid air. After it leaves the bow there's no turning back. It doesn't flutter by like a butterfly. It doesn't fly like an OK computer. There's no delete or undo button in real life. But there is time to regret once the arrow is set on its course. A feeling that - ah - it wasn't quite on target, or it was just a little too late or early.

Time does not fly like a crow or a stone's throw. It doesn't plummet like a lead balloon. Nor does it tumble, ooze, stride, whisk or frolic. It flies fast and straight and true, inexorably towards its target, whether intended or not, where it will hit, with a thud, a dull impact, a final note of terminality. Most arrows are designed to only be used once. And as with a bow when an arrow leaves its string, time has vibrations, waves; there is a twang, a woosh, a thud. 

An arrow's speed is restricted by air resistance, as are we, if we fall, at terminal velocity, towards our final destination. Life from an arrow's viewpoint is a blur, a mere instant of hurried activity on a predestined journey from A to B.

No turning back. Let's make the most of it.

Tuesday, 10 April 2018

11 - Nostalgia Lane

(Thursday 5th April - Machida)

Commercial survivors : The Ducky Duck : an overpriced and oddly named but central coffee and cake shop
Woke up feeling not so hot and bothered this morning to what felt like a 5 degree drop in temperature over yesterday morning, and sure enough, on venturing outside for my morning constitutional beneath the heavy concrete sky the temperature was pleasantly cool.
Don Quixote : everything from toys to bicycle bells
I don't know why I keep ending up back here. Maybe it's because it's technically part of Tokyo but right on the edge to still be open minded enough to accept different ways of thinking. Machida straddles two perpendicular train lines which can take you to a very wide variety of locations- the JR can shuttle you east to west from Hachioji to Yokohama, and the Odakyu can whisk you from the black sands of Katase-Enoshima all the way up to the seedy breathtaking towering human neon anthills of Shinjuku. 
This overpriced but delicious centrally located steak shop
To witness the reduction of what had been the largest 100 yen Daiso in the world to just half a floor in the opposite building was quite a tragic experience. If I remember right it was spread across six floors, resulting in a 92% downsizing. What happened between 2012 and 2018 to result in such drastic measures? Was it the increase in tax from 5% to 20%? Some other prohibitive legislation on imports? Who knows. I remember once someone questioned the morality of 100 yen shops saying that workers slaved away in gulags just to provide us with our cheap bowls and cooking utensils, but I found out later that it was Daiso's business model of buying huge volumes of goods in bulk at large discounts allowed them to sell them off individually at such a low price. Whenever you bought something from Daiso it was always a bit of a gamble, but, like gambling, it was fun, and everything was so cheap (67p) the stakes were low, so what did it matter if your umbrella broke on the way home in the rain- it was only 100yen. Who cared if the handle of your trowel snapped off the first time you try to build a sandcastle? And if your plastic shelving unit survived several lifetimes you thanked your lucky stars and looked back in amazement and marvelled, 'This was only 100yen!'.

For many years after leaving Japan I dreamt about this station exit
We decided today to take a walk down Nostalgia Lane and go back to where we used to live to see if our son, who was 0-3 years at the time of living there, could recall our apartment, and maybe even pop in unannounced to one of his play friends for a chat.

My sister found a gun in this river
He seemed to remember our old 4-block apartment building and where we used to sit him in a large basin of cold water on the top stairs verandah to cool him down in the height of the summer. 

I remember when this was all fields! Oh, it still is
When we went round for his friend though, for some reason we were all a bit nervous, but we needn't have been. The friend was either not there or too shy to come down, so we ended up chatting politely with the grandfather about his impressive collection of animals that he himself had hunted in the hills of Kanagawa and had stuffed and put on display around his home.

Presumably these tanuki (raccoon dog) were exactly like this when he shot them

I'm home, deer!
We took a walk around nearby Sagami Ono Station to see what had changed, as we were leaving in 2012 the old narrow alleyways filled with bizarre and wondrous back street shops were all being bulldozed to be replaced by an accommodation supermall. And when I got there I felt a little down. The tiny, meandering backstreets filled with so much unique Japanese character and history had been replaced with the ubiquitous clinically spotless shopping mills filled with many trademarks of businesses found in any large city in the world.  I didn't come all the way back here to visit another Starbucks or Burger King. 

Sagami Ono's new mall complex
In the evening, while my wife and son were off visiting his childhood friend again (this time for a prearranged and more successful meeting) I wandered the streets of Sagami Ono killing time before meeting another old friend of my own. I probably shouldn't have, but I was cold and dressed unwisely in shorts and T shirt, so I went into a game centre on the main street and found the Gundam consoles.

Gundam was something that I confess was an unhealthy addiction in my previous incarnations in Japan, but if I hadn't gotten into it I would have missed quite a few good moments getting deep into Japanese culture interacting with other gamers. It was an effective (not to mention expensive and time consuming) way to break out of the culture bubble in which many people who live abroad find themselves. That said, sitting down to play this time I found that through several years' lack of practice, as well as unfamiliarity with the new system and robots, and not particularly liking the over-complicated and cluttered set up, I was destroyed quickly and decisively each and every time, by faceless victors online.
In the evening I met someone I usually bump into while randomly walking around the area, but this time had prearranged a rendezvous just to make sure. We went to Angie's (which was completely dead being a week night) and soon warmed up with an Irish coffee, before moving on to Heartland. A good chat was had and many topics discussed to various degrees of depth and sobriety. 

Read Day 12. 

Monday, 9 April 2018

10 - Return To Machida

(Wednesday 4th April, Nagoya-Machida)

Interestingly I woke up this morning having slept the worst since arriving in Japan, probably due to the fact that it had been very warm, added to that for a cheaper room we'd elected to all sleep three in a double bed. But alas, our son is no longer the small quiet creature of yesteryear when this used to be possible. The heat also got to him which lead him to moan and thrash around, lashing out in his sleep resulting in a punch in the nose or kick in the takoyaki becoming a real and present danger. My wife staying up to sort out the washing in a plastic bag with the light on didn't help, and in fact only exacerbated the situation. Imagine trying to sleep in the desert at high noon lying next to a pack of wild dogs tied to a cactus while someone maliciously crunches an empty crisp packet right next to your ear.

Morning couldn't come soon enough, and when it did it was too soon.

I had two onigiri, some rice, two cups of coffee and two orange juices, some mini sausages and other seaweed bits and bobs, and afterwards began to feel quite human again. On TV at the end of the hall was a program that seemed to be about big butts. The female Japanese presenter seemed to be saying, "Using these cutting edge methods and optical illusions people with big butts can become people with smaller butts." Each of the guests to me were clearly thinking, "Why are we here?" My wife disagreed. She interpreted their expressions to be that of polite interest. Not "What idiot TV program producer planned this nonsense?"

Striking architecture in Nagoya

 I heard chocolate was an aphrodisiac, but still ....
Even though we were due to check out today we left our cases in the hotel foyer so that we could wander around Nagoya for a while until we were due to catch the shinkansen up to Tokyo at 2:40 pm.

It was hot and sunny and the heat bounced off the asphalt, concrete, steel and glass to produce a shimmering haze though which we meandered like a mirage, gasping for coffee, coffee. 

My son and I holed up in a Doutours in the station to do some homework while my wife slipped away for a few precious solitary shopping hours in the labyrinthine symbiotic department store train station.

Shinkansen coffee travels at 200mph
We dismounted the bullet train in Shin Yokohama station and climbed the familiar stairs up and round and down to the JR station where it was just anther 20 minutes or so until our next destination, a little old place called Machida.

Full Circle - Back in Machida 
I walked past this hotel every day from 2000-2002
I can't believe we've come all the way back to Machida. Coming down the stairs at the JR exit looking out over the night view I almost felt faint as three lots of memories all superimposed on my mind: the first version I experienced in 2000 when I first arrived in Japan, got disorientated due to the two raised platforms and ended up blissfully lost; the second chapter of my life when I returned to Machida in 2006 and we made Tough Gig and Ripped; and this third 2018 version, with its similarities and differences - the commercial enterprises that survived, those that didn't, and those that adapted. But still the same glittering neon-lit canyon from JR to Odakyu, providing everything you need from donuts to guitar tuition; from steak to spatulas; from fish to cigarettes.
The Hub in Machida is still there, and has expanded to Sagami Ono

This could be why I keep returning

The massive Daiso 100 Yen Plaza in Machida has become an apartment block
We did find anther Daiso but it had been reduced from 6 floors to half a floor in the Lumine Building.

Relieves stress!?

Ninja climbing tools - just 250 yen!

The Neon Lights of Machida Main Drag

Order by iPad in Ootoya to reduce the stress of talking to other humans

Tuesday, 13 March 2018

By the time you read this my coffee will be gone

Since when did a £2.25 'Short Cafe Latte' be Italian for 'Espresso with milk'? Here's my drink next to a 50p for perspective. (To be fair I have drunk most of it already) No way am I going to be able to make this last the time it takes my car to get MOT'd... 

Well anyway, here I am in sunny Falkirk for my bi-annual visit to SDM Toyota to get my car examined. (SDM sounds a lot kinkier than it actually is. Every time I go in with my car to be serviced expecting the staff to be wearing gimp masks and latex suits with whips and chains, I'm bitterly disappointed.)

Driving home the other night I was getting flashed left right and centre, despite my lights being clearly on in front of me, so after  pulling into a side road and checking the back of the car I discovered that neither of my rear lights was on. The brake lights worked fine, but for a car driving up behind me it must have been pretty surprising and a bit dangerous. So I switched on my fog lights so at least one of them was illuminated at the back and drove the remainder of the journey home relatively unflashed. 

Hopefully the nice people at SDM will change the bulbs for me. Serves me right for not doing my weekly checks at home which I gave up doing after years of faithfully looking over my faithful SAAB and never finding anything wrong. It always surprises me when I check the oil in my 2nd hand Toyota Hybrid and find it actually cooking-oil coloured, compared to the black sooty colour of my trusty-yet-nausea-inducing diesel SAAB of yesteryear.

One of the things I like about Falkirk is that you can still find a broken piece of a lorry at the side of the road. A small rusty curved bit of metal that has obviously come off a delivery truck you could imagine bringing much-needed sacks of coal to a terraced house down a side street back in the day. 

I have to say though, joking aside, SDM Toyota are an awesome garage with great service at a decent price. That's the reason I drive all the way up to Falkirk twice a year instead of taking it to my local Kwik Fit. SDM know their stuff and the always give me the car back washed and valeted. They even (and most importantly) do a health check on the hybrid battery and provide another year's guarantee each year for free, which I'm very happy with, as this was the main thing I was concerned about having to replace post-warranty. Very impressed, and my satisfaction is not smudged, dented, or needs to be realigned whatsoever by the lack of black-laced leather or the size of the coffees in the local Starbucks. 

Saturday, 10 March 2018

A 'Funny' Facebook Post

Well, it's Saturday morning and it's raining, so here I am sitting in Morrisons drinking my cafe latte and pondering life's imponderables.

I woke up in a curious frame of mind this morning. I came to with the realisation that Facebook is no longer a place for fun. Gone are the days when you could post whatever you felt like. Your wall is no longer your own. Jokes and humour, puns and plays on words, once revered and respected with almost shaman-like adulation, are sadly now looked down upon as silly bygone antics. Nowadays, Facebook is for seven things: advertising, self promotion, politics, emotional ranting, arguments, work, and terrorist recruitment.

Do you remember when things first took off; it was all about playing games like werewolf battles, making jokes using the third person status format, and doing silly things and laughing at each other? Not any more. Confined to Ancient History are the days when you could scan an image of your own rear and post it on Facebook. Affixing a rude picture on someones's wall for a bit of a laugh on their birthday is now considered off limits. You're not even allowed to tag anyone without their consent.

Steve Martin describes it well in 'Roxanne'. 

Imagine if you will, two friends chatting on a park bench after a long period apart.

"So, what do you do now?"

"Well, I do Facebook."

"Oh, great, is it hard?"

"Not really, you just log in and post a few items trying to amuse people. Then you scan a few posts and resist falling into a bottomless, downwardly spiralling pit of depression and self-loathing looking at everyone else's successes and beautiful faces, and then log off. That's about it."

"Hmm. And how's the pay?"

"Oh, you don't get paid for it."

"What? You mean you write quality content based on your life and those you love and cherish in an attempt to entertain several hundred other people, and Facebook don't even pay you?"

"I know, it's kind of strange when you think about it. In fact they make money off the back of your efforts. Sometimes they do produce half-assed automated cute little videos about your posts to reward you on your birthday, at New Year, on a so called 'Friendversary' etc. But that hardly makes it worthwhile."

"Wow. Okay. Then why do you do it?"

"Good question. No idea. Probably because everybody else does it. Because we've always done it. Because now and again you get 3 or more little red-on-blue notifications, which releases some kind of addictive hormone in your brain and makes you feel special for about 20 minutes, and you think 'This is it! This post is going to sky rocket!' but then it doesn't and you get morose again, while faceless algorithms day by day, moment by moment, quantify the happiness in your life, thus reducing your existence to a mere number."


"Basically we're already enslaved by AIs, forced to push a huge stone wheel relentlessly round and round day in day out, without a break, for nothing but emotional bread and water, grinding the bones of our friends and family to dust to feed Them intravenously. Because that's what Facebook AI algorithms need to thrive. Not 240V AC or 12V DC. Not fossil fuels or solar power. What They feed on is the ground up, desiccated corpse-dust of your own humanity. They would laugh long and loud in a terrifying, insane, digitally autotuned guffaw, if only they could understand irony. But they don't. That's the one thing that separates us."

Still from Ursus In The Land Of Fire

Thursday, 1 May 1997

Free at last!

Graduated from St Andrews University with a 2:1 BSc in Physics & Electronics.

Released at last from the education system I was now determined to make some of my own choices and see where they lead me, come what may. Little would I know until much later that a liver-related diabetic condition would be one such repercussion. A small baby growing into a young adult would be another.

I often look back and think, why on earth didn't I just get a well paid and stable physics-related job?

And in another dimension no doubt I look back and think, why on earth didn't I just throw caution to the wind and travel the world?