Fat Boys Crushin'


Right. New Year's Eve party tonight, new diet tomorrow.

At least that's the plan - my clothes have all mysteriously shrunk a size over christmas.

Then back to the latest songfight, titled "Crush". My take on it has, shall we say, a slightly ambitious three-in-one quality. "What do you mean by that, Kapitano?". Well, here's a clue, in the form of the lyrics, just finished.

Crush Alpha

They used to say
If you kneel and pray
He might pass you by

He might not come for you
His burning love imbue
But it was a lie

They used to tell me
I should wait and see
Whole world in his hand

Crush Beta

...A
Little self-knowledge is a dangerous thing, a
Little self-deception it was meant to be a one time
Fling. Who'm I fooling? Who'm I fooling around with? Your
Marriage is a fiction, your family a myth. So
Do you lie to them more than you lie to me, pre-
-Tending they believe you for the sake of a trouble free
Family home with a mortgage and a pool, some-
Times I think I care for you, at other times I feel like a
Fool.

You get a crush.
I get a rush.

...A
Little coded SMS, you want to come over
More like Madame Bovary, less like Cassanova
If you can't love the one you're with, love the one you ought
Not, the only one who says you make 'em hot, huh, but
Our deniabiltity is always plausible, if
Anyone accuses we can say it was impossible
You were on a train trip, i was on the other side of
Town, and anyway you're not the type for messing a-
-Round.

Crush Gamma
Tempo ordas
Vivo mordas

Provis signifi
Lante rezigni

Lasu kri'

(Rough translation:

Time gives order
Life bites down

Try to signify
Slowly give up

Let go a sigh)

Feeling Hot Hot Hot


Things that are useful when you've scalded three fingers of your right hand:

  • Your left hand

  • Cold running water

  • A large jug to periodically fill with cold water

  • A large supply of burn lotion

  • A supply of paper towels to improvise temporary finger bandages

  • Selotape to hold them together

  • A small pair of scissors

  • A box of disposable surgical gloves, which can hold the improvised bandages in place

  • A mother who suggests this temporary procedure


Things that are not useful:

  • Plasters that require two hands, teeth and possibly a hammer to get out of the packaging

  • A father who breezily tells a cheerful anecdote about how you burned your hand when you were five

  • Your small collection of first aid certificates, because somehow first aid courses only teach you how to fix up other people


Things to remember:

  • It's a bad idea to cook when you're drunk


Waiting for De Sign


How long does it take to design a website?

Actually I've no idea, because I've been doing something quite different - figuring out how to design a website. So far it's taken:

  • An hour to understand how to do frames in HTML - and then decide I don't need to use frames at all.

  • Two hours to understand the various ways button-links can be made to change colour when your mouse hovers over them - before deciding it's all too complicated and I don't need to have them anyway.

  • Another two hours to figure out why my designs for buttons came out in the wrong colours and the wrong sizes. Actually I still don't know why Photoshop can't map RGB to CMYK without turning everything grey, or why CorelDraw lies to me about graphical dimensions.

    But sometimes you've just got to be content with finding a solution, instead of knowing what the problem was. Here's my logo, version 3:




  • Half an hour to work out why the relative URLs weren't working - or rather, half an hour to work out the website telling me about relative URLs was wrong.

  • 90 minutes to sift through half a dozen freeware, opensource javascript mp3 streamers. To find the one which does what I want...doesn't use javascript.


(And if you understood all that, you spend too much time in front of a computer.)

After all of which, I am now going to have a Boxing Day afternoon nap. Because steep learning curves are the kind of hill you can only climb up, not roll down.


It's pissedmas. And I'm christ.

Christmas with the Family


Christmas used to be hell in our family.

With five cousins and their families, six other cousins young enough to call me "uncle", four grandparents, two aunts, two uncles, six great uncles, five great aunts and probably more...the air was thick with relatives I barely knew and didn't want to know.

Now thankfully most are far away, in care homes, dead, estranged or some combination of these. So there's just me, mother, father and sometimes brother. Plus four dogs and three parrots.

The time of exchanging giftwrapped socks and awkward platitudes with near strangers is over, and with family out of the way we can now spend christmas with...family.

See if you can work out our interpersonal dynamics from this year's gifts:

  • My gifts to mother: An 8GB memory stick and a course on how to play the piano.

  • Mother's gifts to me: A pair of slipppers and...something I'll get to in a minute.

  • My gifts to father: Um...

  • Father's gifts to me: Um...he likes to maintain that all money comes from him, so whatever I get he provides.

  • Mother's gifts to father: A sweater she knitted.

  • Father's gifts to mother: Um...see above.

  • Our gifts to brother: I'll get to that in a moment.

  • Brother's gifts to us: I don't know yet!

  • Our gifts to everyone else: Assorted homemade chocolates. Those we can resist eating ourselves.

    It was almost puppies, but that turned out to be another phantom pregnancy.


Oh, mother's other gift to me and brother? Domain names! With matching webspaces!

They're not activated yet, but pretty soon there'll be a Kapitano website, which I'm thinking will be mostly musical.

Christmas. Turns out it's not quite all humbug after all.

There will be a Short Delay


What? I've got a virus and need to reinstall Windows again? Oh, goody.



No, no. It's quite alright.



It is a slimmed down version, so there's bound to be occasional problems.



I'm sure the problem is right in front of me.



Maybe I'm looking in the wrong direction somehow.



Would I lie to you?



Ask a silly question...



...don't be surprised at the answer.



I'm sure I'll find something to do in the meantime.



There's always something.



Even though I've got a cold.



It's not like anything's likely to happen while I'm away.



Even if it does, what's the worst that could happen?



I'll be back on top of things again in no time.




Blogger's comment notification hasn't been working for the last few days.

As a workaround, you can go to http://[blogname].blogspot.com/feeds/comments/default?alt=rss, to read your recent comments, or use the URL to set up an RSS feed.

Apologies if you've left a comment and I haven't seen it.


The other person with a sick computer this week. Asked me where to get a new laptop battery, because theirs was dead after years of use - wouldn't recharge anymore.

I sent back info about identifying and removing the battery, and who might have a new one for sale. They write back with a rant about how shop assistants gave her wrong advice...when a parenthetical remark makes everything clear. Because apparently there's this little flashing light which means the battery needs replacing.

The battery isn't dead. It's flat. And it's never been flat before. And they think it only takes a moment to charge.

I've only got one face and two palms. It's just not enough.


My contribution to the local rock scene: I just repaired this band's computer, updated their mixing software...and installed a loop sequencer for their new direction as guitars-and-hiphop combo.

In return for a promised copy of their album, when it's finished.

It's Warm Inside


Okay, here's the version for submission:

Kapitano - Frostbite (Submission Version)

There's a saying in computer programming: "90% of the project takes 90% of the time. The other 10% takes the other 90%."

In other words, the finishing touches take the most time, and it's them which make a project overrun. They're also what makes it work.

So, here are the finishing touches - at least the ones which got left in:

  • High-pass filter on main scratch at 220Mhz, and volume down c5%. Should make the kick and bassline clearer.

  • The same filter on the rap. Should make it stand out a bit more, hopefully being clearer, without increasing actual volume.

  • High-pass filter on vocoder chorus at 110Mhz. Again, should reduce the amount of "mud" cluttering up the bass end.

  • Octave doubling effect on the bassline that follows each chorus. It's a two oscillator synth - one is just pitched down an octave for those parts. The detuning between the two is also increased.

  • Big reverby kick added, for the parts where the kick is the only drum.

  • The clave is a little quieter.

  • Agogo bells added.

  • Tape hiss and crackly noise quieter.

  • Vocoder increased from 16 to 32 bands.

  • Probably the most important change from an engineer's point of view, though the listener might not notice. The five drumloops replaced with...sequenced drums. Which I think now sound crisper anyway.

    They were only loops in the first place to make them scratchable, but the scratching effects weren't much good, so I didn't use most of them. The ones I did use are still there, on a dedicated sample track.


The lyrics are there really just to give the voice something to say, but these are they:

Verse 1:
Sitting up at long past midnight
Drinking too-strong tea and freezing
Snow it falls and wind it's howling
Start to shiver turn up heating

Take another sip it's cold now
Do I want to make a new cup
Should I try again to get sleep
Dream till morning see what comes up

With the sun it could be oper-
-Tunity a piece of blue sky
Got to get some motivation
Say it three times that same old lie

Optimism always waiting
Every morning hope for new life
Evening comes on old sensation
Feeling of sunburn and frostbite

Chorus:
Wake up at midnight
Sunburn and frostbite

Verse 2:
Put on some old favourite CD
Sampled groove and shot dead MC

Stand and walk around the bedroom
Headphones on pump up the volume

Hungry not yet time for breakfast
Drinking coffee not just for thirst

Sitting up at long past midnight
Sunburn shading into frostbite

"Finished" is a relative term. But I reckon this demo is finished.

Besides, I've hit on some new production techniques and want to try them out.

It's Cold Outside


Song done, more or less. Provisional version...here:

Kapitano - Frostbite (Provisional Version)

It's really a test-of-concept piece, rather than a serious attempt at a song. The concepts in question being:

  • Can I do a reasonable imitation of turntable scratching without going anywhere near a turntable?
  • For rapid vocals a la Dieter Meier, can I record at half speed, then time compress them?
  • Can I use (self made) drumloops?
  • Just how deep into the 80s can I go? :-)


What do you think? Does it sound like I've got a personal scratch DJ imprisoned in the basement? Would you pay good money to never hear a vocal like this again? Do the lo-fi elements add anything good?

Is it overcompressed? Not compressed enough? Anything need changing mixwise? Anything in particular that doesn't work?

Let me know.

High Fidelity


Somewhere in the Hitch Hiker's Guide to the Galaxy, Douglas Adams talks about a society that's done away with all diseases and disabilities.

The doctors had put themselves out of a job by curing anything that can go wrong with a body - including most forms of death. There were still psychiatrists of course, because no one's found a way to cure the universe, but the planet is full of healthy, bronzed individuals in peak condition.

And they're bored. Because nothing's a challenge anymore. So the doctors are suddenly back in employment, recreating all the diseases they'd cured, in handy portable form.

I only mention it because of the path my latest song is taking.

I've spent today recreating the sounds of cheap vinyl turntables with unstable speeds, and tape decks that lose power at odd moments. Later I'm going to add saturation distortion - the effect of overloading ferrous tape with a too-loud signal.

And when I've recorded the vocals, they'll probably get some fuzz - a lovingly detailed recreation of the horrible sound of a bad loudspeaker from 40 year ago. Plus analog vacuum tube noise - on noiseless digital circuits.

After that, vinyl crackle, amplifier hum, and the joys of records pressed off-centre, courtesy of some free software. All the infuriating imperfections of old technology, now packaged as features in new technology.

And finally, something from a program I only discovered today - a feature I'd never think to ask for, but now have a strange compulsion to use. Tape hiss.


Metaphor for Life, Number 1:



Metaphor for Life, Number 2:



Metaphor for Life, Number 3:




The last three times I got phoned to fix a computer...

The first: "I was repartitioning my hard disk, and I removed the system drive. Now it won't boot up."

The second: "How do I set up a Facebook group?".

The third: "A friend of mine can't get his wireless internet connection to work. Can you sort it all out? Oh by the way, he doesn't speak English."

Atlas Un...Played


I'm happy. Because I've finished the song.

Not because it's a particularly good song, or it's going to get any votes on Songfight, or it's inspired loosely by "American Psycho", or there's a George Carlin quote in the first verse.

And not because I've finally figured out who I sing like - on the grounds that it's Jona Lewie, of "Stop the Cavalry" and "You'll Always Find Me in the Kitchen at Parties" fame.

And certainly not because it took me two and a half backing tracks and two complete recordings of the vocals to get something approaching right - and only then thanks to the magic of Melodyne.

No, I'm just happy 'cos I've managed to finish writing, composing, recording and mixing it. And now, if this works, you can hear it too.

Left-click the arrow to stream, right-click the title to download. Hopefully.

Kapitano - Cost of Living (Atlas Unplugged)


Can someone explain why an MP3 player I bought five years ago is the only one still working? Three others managed to fall apart and stop working within six months, and the most expensive died from brief contact with rain.

There was one other, the cheapest of the lot, which worked fine and possibly still does - but I lent it to someone who promised they're be very careful and not lose it.

Can anyone tell me why the microphone on a GBP5 headset is better than any of the six others which cost eight times the price? Or why the CD drive which came with this laptop stopped working after a month - and I replaced it with the seven year old drive from the laptop it replaced, which works perfectly.

If only there were some kind of pattern.


L. Ron Hubbard was a fake. Everyone knows that now, but here's the book that said it first: A Piece of Blue Sky, by Jon Atack

Mother Teresa was a fake. Everyone knows that now, but here's the book which gives the details: Mother Teresa: Final Verdict, by Aroup Chatterjee. It spawned this documentary: Hell's Angel - Part 1, Part 2, Part 3.

I'm waiting for the book which shows Diana Spencer was a fake. Not because I want to read it - I just think it needs writing.

Atlas Unplugged


No, I still can't write meaningless lyrics. That's not to say I can do deep and meaningful, but I do seem to think in connected sentences.

Looks like I'm booked up with political stuff over Friday and the weekend. But who knows, maybe I'll get around to recording and submitting this one.

The deadline's next Thursday, and the title to write to is "Cost of Living".

Verse 1:
So you
Buy a new home, a
Place for your stuff, 'cos the
One that you grew up in
Somehow it's just not enough

And you
Buy a new car, just to
Sit at the wheel
Got nowhere to go to
Just love the chrome and steel

Chorus:
Atlas
Unplugged
Want more, 'cos
Need is the drug

Verse 2:
Then you
Get a new job, 'cos you
Want to fit in
Take a new direction, and
Offset the cost of living

Break:
Why play truth when you can play dare?
Why you playing chicken if you say you don't care?
Have you forgotten?

Why tell lies when you don't know the truth? You
Only take their money when you can't take their youth
Have you forgotten?

Blog Psychology


If someone tells you they're very angry - instead of behaving angrily - they probably aren't. Anyone who constantly tells you they love you, instead of demonstrating it in a hundred little unconscious ways, doesn't. And anyone who tells you their faith is rock solid, but spends all their time virulently attacking anyone who disagrees with them, is having a crisis of faith.

Case in point: Atheism is Dead.

There's a rhetorical technique called Quote Mining, which involves presenting a stream of out-of-context quotes as "proof" that "Plato was gay", "Hitler was a vegetarian", "Obama is the antichrist" or whatever.

Sometimes it takes an expert - or at least someone who's read the works quoted - to unpick the distortions. But some quote miners, usually in their efforts to prove they're serious researchers and not quote miners, quote enough text to disprove their own thesis.

Case in point: Marxwords - Giving you all the quotations that Marxists hope you never hear about.

We stick with our friends because they treat us well, and stay away from those who've hurt us. Right? Except when our friends treat us like shit and we find excuses to forgive them, and we avoid and dislike individuals and groups who've never hurt us - indeed, we've never met.

We chose our allies because we share goals, and share enemies. Yes? Or do we change our goals and attitudes to fit our milieu? If you've ever watched someone move between social classes, the way they change their beliefs and habits can be striking. It's like the invasion of the bodysnatchers - you're dealing with a different person, but they insist they've always been as they are now. And they believe it.

Do we invent ways to find allies admirable, and rationalise reasons to dislike the enemy? I rather think so. Double standards aren't just a failure of logic, they're a vital part of society.

I flatter myself I'm anti-social.

Case in point: Shrouded in Doubt - the most unintentionally ironic blog title in the world?.

Stock Check


What do you do when:

  • You don't want to do the things you're good at anymore, because they've got boring. Computers, sex, political dabbling.

  • Most of things you want to do you suck at. Songwriting, storywriting, philosophy, science.

  • The other things you want to do are completely pointless. Annoying the whackjobs on youtube.

  • The things everyone else thinks you should do, you have no interest in doing. Relationship, mortgage, career.

  • The things you should do, you really don't want to do. Exercise, housework, moving out.


...?

Is that the definition of a mid-life crisis? Or just life?

Below Average Mean


I wish I could write meaningless lyrics.

Most of my favourite songs have words that mean absolutely nothing - though they sound like they ought to mean something allusive and poetic.

Stuff like this:
Chorus:
Lawnchairs are everywhere.
They're everywhere,
my mind describes them to me
Only to me.

Verse 1:
As you screen out the light that colors your skin
Can you dress for protection?
Are you having some fun?
Some fun.

And are you sleeping with someone special tonight?
Does she drink tall drinks,
Just to make it feel right?
Feel right.

Break:
And it's a holiday in the middle of the week
As you leave from your job,
Just like a holiday.

And it's a holiday in the middle of the week
As you leave from your job
For only two weeks.

Verse 2 (sort of):
She's a boy that we like and gonna go far.
She's a boy that we like.
And he's gonna go far.

Well, she's go to and he's got to and we got to.

She's a boy that we like and gonna go far.
She's a boy that we like.
And he's gonna go far.


Here's the song on youtube.

I first heard it on vinyl, playing on the creaky old record player of a man who was about to become my boyfriend...and later the only one of my ex-boyfriends I'd move town to avoid.

But he did have a great record collection. It's strange, the reasons you stay with people.

But anyway, SongFight have a new challenge up, with 10 days to write and record a new song. And seeing as it's almost five years (my god is it really that long?) since I last played, I'm setting myself the challenge to enter.

And to write something that doesn't have to mean anything at all - but hopefully sounds like it does, even though you don't know what it could possibly be. The David Lynch school of songwriting.

Mailinator - Get a disposable email account.

Deadfake - Send an email from a fake account.

Futureme - Send an email to your future self.

Unthanksgiving


The day after Thanksgiving is...Unthanksgiving. The day when you give...whatever the opposite of thanks is...to all the things that make you wish the great studio executive in the sky would just cancel the sitcom called "Humanity".

Here's my list of things that make me want to punch the human race in its stupid, smug face:

1) The NHS offers homeopathy.

Tax money is being used to treat patients with serious diseases with Magic Water.

2) George W Bush has a new job: Motivational Speaker.

Yes, the man who couldn't string together two sentences without mangling the grammar and saying something mindblowingly dumb, is a professional public speaker.

The billionaire moron gets paid more than you or I will ever see to spend the occasional 90 minutes telling other billionaire morons how they deserve to be billionaires.

The man whose picture is next to the word "Fail" in the dictionary will tell you how to be a success - where success is defined as "rich" and you can't get to hear him speak unless you're already rich. And dumb enough to want to hear him speak.

3) Reported homophobic attacks are up 35% in British schools. That's "reported" as opposed to "actual", and "physical attacks" as opposed to "name calling".

Ah, but which schools? It's a very specific set. Faith schools!

4) Barak Obama is sending 34,000 extra troops into Afghanistan. He admitted that he wasn't happy with any of the options given him by advisors, so eventually selected...the one he hated least.

So the candidate who made all those vague not-quite-promises about ending the wars in the middle east, is now the president ramping up a war with no clear purpose and shrinking chance of victory.

It's 8 years in, and there's talk of another 10. It was meant to take 2 weeks to "pacify" the country before installing a client government, and that hasn't happened yet. Some soldiers are now on their 5th tour of duty there.

It also means America is now so short of troops at home, that if there should be another Katrina or some other major domestic disaster, there just isn't the military manpower to cope with it.

5) Climate change denialists are crowing over reports that one university's climatic research department exaggerated figures.

The evidence of fraud is, shall we say, selectively edited, but we're being told it proves all climate scientists everywhere are faking the data for no reason, somehow.

One Time


A song I wrote a month ago, and then completely forgot about. You could say it's sort-of autobiographical.

Verse 1:
One time, just fun
It doesn't really count, when you are drunk

Next night, door ring
We're only playing games, it don't mean any-
-Thing

Chorus 1:
That was just a one time thing right mate, i
Like you as a friend but i'm just not that way, o-
-Kay it happened twice but i mean it this time, this
Time it's really final and i'm just not gonna change my
Mind

Verse 2:
Once more, then stop
It doesn't really count, when you're on top

Beep phone, look see
Just wanted to explain, this stuff it's just not for
Me

Chorus 2:
That was just a one time thing right mate, i
Like you as a friend but i'll always be straight, o-
-Kay i'm back again but i mean it this time, this
Time it's really final and i'm never gonna change my
Mind


Looks like I'll have to put the spam filter up again. I've been getting comments advising me that

"As such there are no side effects of using klonopin. You must look into that. You can observe the change within a short period of time."


...which is nice. And offers of "Dating picture pantyhose" and "Deadly Russian Mail Order Brides".

It's good to know the KGB are still training their sex agents in multiple killing techniques - and their translations are as good as ever.

A Good Day


Pleasure, contentment, joy. Three very different things.

I had some pleasure today - it didn't being me contentment, but it wasn't supposed to. An old friend dropped round for some...oh you can guess what he dropped round for. It was nice, but what I really wanted was for the pain in my back to go away - why does sex have to get you into such awkward positions?

After that I had some contentment, getting drunk on rum and pepsi in the morning, watching back to back episodes of an utterly preposterous sci-fi serial. "Fringe", featuring the badboy heartthroob, the blond female investigator who manages to be both overemotional and hyperefficient, the mad scientist working for the good guys, the spooky elder femme fatale who represents the untrustworthy not-quite-good-guys...and the bald black guy.

Black guys on TV tend to be bald. Just like attractive women have light hair and troubled family histories, and cute white guys have stubbles. Sometimes evil geniuses have British accents, which I always enjoy. It might be nice if the science were even slightly realistic.

And then there's joy. Which I don't think I've experienced since ago 20. The sensation of being completely and utterly blown away by something, whether it's an awesome guitar solo, an alien way of looking at the world by a German philosopher, or a medical breakthrough. Though the breakthroughs usually turn out to be misreported, the philosopher usually forgot something obvious, and the guitarist overdoses a year later.

Of the three, I think I prefer contentment. Because it lasts longer, is easier to achieve, can be had twice in one day, and most times doesn't need a shower afterwards.

Tubular Hells


What happens when a basically decent but dimwitted person falls under the spell of people who are neither? Put it another way, what happens when someone who doesn't want to hate anyone is under peer pressure to hate you?

They compromise. They find ways to fudge and fit their temperament around their beliefs.

And then they send me messages like this:

i know you dont believe in god because you are homosexual but just because god doesnt approve of your homosexuality doesnt mean he doesnt have unconditional love for you. i could see god welcoming you into heaven even if you are homosexual if you pray hard and read up on him instead of going on all these christian videos trying to discourage christians of their faiths. you still have a chance and although you really dont believe in him, maybe try to go to church. god loves you and even though you are the way you are, i dont hate you, i care about you too even though i dont know you. i just want the best for everyone. please just try to imagine a man, with nails in his hands and feet, a crown of thorns, hanging on a hot wooden cross with his gashes infecting. he could have ended that all but he loves you. just imagine


Help and Support


Thank you for calling. You have reached Kapitano's IT helpline.

Press #1 if you're too fucking lazy to read the help file.

Press #2 if you didn't realise there was a help file, thought the menu item "Help" was there for decoration, wouldn't bother to read it anyway, and wouldn't make the effort to understand it even if you did.

Press #3 if you want me to explain everything about computers to you in five minutes flat without introducing you to any new concepts or strange words. Because they scare you.

Press #4 if your problem is "It won't work".

Press #5 if your problems is "The little box stopped flashing".

Press #6 if you don't really want a solution - you just want someone to blame, because that's how you deal with problems.

Press #7 if you've decided the internet's gone down.

Press #8 if you're not sure what the message saying "Your device is now ready to use" means.

Press #9 if you want to know what an "X006104793-d" error is, and you think I must know.

Press #A if you want to know how to count in hexadecimal.

Press #B if you've got a virus from visiting porn sites but you don't want me to know you've got a virus because I might work out you've been visiting porn sites.

Press #C if you want me to tell you how to stop your wife finding out you've been visiting porn sites.

Press #D if you want to become a L33T H4KR.

Press #E if I've already explained to you several times that a CDR is not a hard disk just because it's round and inflexible.

Press #F if your 10-year old computer won't work after your 15-year old son installed 20 cracked games that it can't possibly run.

Press #G if you think hexadecimal is for wooses.

Press #H if MS Office 2007 doesn't look like MS Office 97 and you're confused. I don't know how to use Office 2007 either - I use '97 because it does everything I need and doesn't crash.

Press #I if Norton has crashed your system after I explicitly told you not to install it because it would crash your system.

Press #J if you think I'm intimately familiar with every single type of mobile phone ever made.

Press #K if you want to try Linux but keep all your Windows programs the same.

Press #L if you think I know anything about Linux because all computer stuff's the same, right?

Press #M if you think you want to do a mailmerge on your CPU.

Press #N if you think your computer is "too defragmented".

Press #O if you're absolutely convinced that your operating system is Windows 97.

Press #P if you've checked out all the operating systems and want to use "Windows Me". Not "Windows M.E", "Windows Me", 'cos it's for "me".

Press #Q if you just want to ask me a lot of questions so you can pretend you've consulted an expert on what you've already decided to do.

Press #R if you think "it might be a driver problem" but you've no idea what a codec or a DLL is.

Press #S if you want me to install telepathy and precognition on your computer so I'll just know what you want.

Press #T if a website has just offered you a free laptop and you're too thick to work out whether it's a scam.

Press #U if you use your computer to host a creationist website, and think it might be possessed by the devil.

Press #V if you think I don't know you call me a pathetic nerd behind my back.

Press #W if you rely completely on your computer, but refuse to learn how to use it because you're above that kind of thing.

Press #X if you're such a brainless douchebag you think it's funny to phone up tech support with a nonsensical problem and put the result on youtube.

Press #Y if you called me to solve a problem that's just solved itself.

Press #Z if you work in tech support yourself but can't figure out what's wrong with the computer you own. Welcome brother.

Left, Right, Left


I've got difficulty with left and right. Not politics - hands, or rather directions.

If you ask me to point to the right, I'll probably point left - unless I've spent a confusing few seconds reminding myself which hand is which. I've always been like that, and it's never been a big problem.

Well, apart from a failed driving test and a habit of getting lost in corridors.

I'm not left handed, in fact I'm extremely right handed. For what it's worth, my father is ambidextrous, and my favourite teacher at college described himself as right handed even though his right arm had been paralysed for decade - he had the neatest whiteboard writing I've ever seen, all with a retrained left hand.

Actually the main problem is when other people, knowing I tend to transpose directions, saying right when they mean left, hoping I'll retranspose. That can get quite confusing.

"Where's the pen?"
"It's to your right."
"Do you mean right-right or Kapitano-right?"
"Um, I mean it's on the left."
"Ah. Do you mean my left or your left?"
"Gaaah!"


I used to try to break the pattern...but then I discovered there's a perfect place for mirror-universe people like me - the classroom!

I'm a teacher - at least I am when there's any work - and I'm quite expressive with my hands when I'm explaining stuff, always drawing diagrams in the air. My last head teacher said it made me an unauthoritative teacher - but then, he was a prize twat and really boring teacher.

But if I'm facing the class, and tend to use spatial metaphors when explaining things, and tend to count things off on my fingers right-to-left...then our left and right match. It's surprisingly helpful.

Unless of course any of them have trouble with left and right in which case...Gaaah!

Totally Tubular


I have an alter-ego on youtube. If you're really bored you can find out who it is, but rather than regale you with snippets of my shining brilliance in the comments, I thought I'd share some of the responses to my brilliance.

Which are, in their own way, sometimes brilliant:

"If i didnt here the word of Lord how who i have faith in him you silly man you must be a none believer." - isaiahact

"You have snubbed your nose at God" - bornagain001

"If saying it's so and presenting a verifiable reference doesn't make it so, then saying it isn't so without presenting one, as you've done, has even less credibility. You're self negating." - Bandershot, homeopath and purveyor of word salads.

"The Bible ultimately described a sophisticated pharmacological means to make gold into a medicine." - HomeopathicDana

"Yeshua the meaning of the hebrew name of jesus. Messiah's personal name means Salvation" - isaiahact, master etymologist

"The knee-jerk shunning of contemporary Homeopathy doesn't make faith-based ancient Allopathy medicine any more powerful or provable in the correct treatment and cure of chronic diseases." - mohanaturo, more homeopathy and a second helping of word salad.

"WHAT IS PROOF? Everything I show as proof will be rejected by those who are CONSUMED by their own SIN." - bornagain001

"There's more nazis in Islam than the rest of the world put together." - hetrodoxly

"You wouldn't believe the results of my tests. If I videoed the leaf curling from what I claimed was ammonium carbonicum 12C, how do you know I wasn't just using am. carb 1X?" - Bandershot again, this time explaining why (a) making a leaf curl with water would prove homeopathy and (b) why he won't do the test.

"here we go again with the conspiracy theories. The Church was never under constantince" - kiddo500

"Darwin was reportedly cured of a mysterius long standing ailment by homeopathy.", Bandershot neglecting to mention that (a) Darwin wrote that he wasn't cured, (b) the same homeopathist was later responsible for the death of Darwin's daughter.

"You are assuming that a religion can change." - MartinJWillett

"why do you keep coming back check it yourself jesus means yeshua in hebrew and Emmanuel is a title name meaning God with us check it yourself and you seem to ignore the scriptures i sent concerning the divinity of jesus stop cherry picking yes jesus had a human nature was born of a virgin raised from the dead he was with God from the beginning making him to be the son of God read the whole of chaper 1 dont you believe God has sons" - isaiahact, showing marginally more grasp of punctuation than theology.

"Fuck you stupid ass cocksucker. Your one of the gays Bill is talkin about. You like it in your ass" - EW8S93, in comments about an anti-homophobia routine by Bill Hicks.

"If you thinkn brown actually was able to predict the lotto numbers then your head is stuck up your arse" - EagleEyeSC, in response to an explanation of a magic trick to "predict" lottery numbers.

"A crack is what was used to get a car going [...] You're not even 30 years old" - HomeopathicDana, who has difficulty with basic arithmetic, and ironically doesn't know what a "crank" is.

"repent, sinner! believe in Jesus Christ and be saved!!" - personal message from want2rock247, fundamentalist and paranoid conspiracy theorist. Double the trouble.

"God is the Author of marriage, as ordained from the beginning [...] you can pretend to be like us, but in the eyes of God, your "marriage" means nothing." [...]
"where's my prejudice? you're the one who falsely charged me. i think what you do is wrong" - want2rock247 again, demonstrating his grasp of joined up thinking.

"The only argument "skeptics" (atheist in your case, maybe big pharma shill, too) can come up with is to cry "fraud" when confronted with the unpalatable facts." - den151redbank, who suspects GlaxoSmithKline are paying me to comment on his videos.

"fuck u bitch. plus why the fuck u Messeging me faggot!!!" - Acelera1500, who doesn't know the difference between a comment and a private message...er, and wants me to be his bitch, I think.

What can I say? Stupid turns me on.

Baddest Rap?


This is a rap. I wrote it tonight after a post-sex chat with my sometime fuckbud - it's about his dreams and aspirations. It's meant to be ironic, but it's not meant to be funny. The thing is, I'm not sure whether it reads like a joke.

What do you think?

Got to get some money 'cos I
Got to get away, to
Find another kind of life I've
Got to find another place, I'm
Gonna get a better job to
Pay the rent on better digs, and
Buy some clothes that don't look bad and
Give up on the funny cigs.

Get new friends who treat me right, don't
Lie to me or rip me off, re-
-spectable and decent 'cos I'm
Feeding from a richer trough, so
Now that I'm a catch I'll date a
Girl who wants to marry me, we'll
Move into a bigger house and
Plan to start a family.

Weekend breaks in Paris, winter
Holidays in Rome,
Growing old together with our
Children in our sweet home, I'm
Mapping out my future I'm de-
-termined to succeed, the
Dreaming stops tomorrow yeah but
First of all I just need

Cash to start it up...

...I'm fucked.


In Stereo


Why do we expect disabled people to be nice?

Why do we expect fat people to be stupid, young people to be rebellious, and old people to be complacent?

How many smart fat people and dumb thin people do you have to meet before you realise there's no correlation?

Or doesn't it even work like that? It's quite possible - even common - for a white person to show no racism at all to actual black people they know...but to be casually racist about black people in the abstract.

Why do we expect "crazy" people to be bigots...but expect people with "mental health problems" to be tolerant - even wise and serene? Sometimes a name change really does make all the difference - between a negative stereotype and a positive one.

All the christians I know are fairly decent people - they just believe an invisible magic man in the sky will change the laws of nature for their convenience if they ask him hard enough. All the atheists I know are fairly decent people - they just have different delusions, sometimes about vitamin pills or the dignity of manual labour.

But all the batshit insane, hate spewing, deeply ignorant and fuckwitted people I meet on the internet...call themselves christians. And the ones who take them down with evidence and logic call themselves atheists.

Now, two thoughts:

(1) It's quite possible to hold an image of a group of people in your head, know it's not accurate, not treat the people as though the image were true, but still have the image.

(2) Some stereotypes are personal and idiosyncratic, stemming from individual experience.

For instance, there's an absurdly (wonderfully) large number of curry houses in this town, and the staff are almost all Bangladeshi - often from the same family.

There's a particular way they tend to behave to customers - smiling and welcoming, but somehow timid, almost camp. Result: that's how part of me expects everyone from Bangladesh to behave, though it's not a shock when they don't.

Of course, there are always people who like to tell you they're much too advanced to have national stereotype in their heads, and anyone who does must be a racist, and one step away from being a fascist sympathiser.

Leaving aside the illogic of that reasoning...I don't think I believe them. If they've lived for a year in Bangladesh and met lots of different kinds of people there, maybe they don't have a cartoon in their heads for that country. But what about Pakistan? Or Afghanistan? Or Iran?

Finally, sometimes I like the stereotypes people have of me. And sometimes I play up to them.

I'm European, so I'm sophisticated (but only if you're American). I'm British, so I've got the accent of a thousand supervillans from a lot of really corny films. I'm English, so I'm eccentric. And gay.

Though if I were disabled it seems I couldn't be gay anymore - but I might be nice.


About one second in the mind of Kapitano:

I should put something on the blog. Oh I know, I'll go on a date and write it up.

That's not why people go on dates.

Oh yeah.

And I don't like going on dates.

Oh yeah.

And I'm happily single.

Oh right, yeah. I forgot that.


My Eden


It's more fun to figure out how to do something than to do it.

I just spent fifteen minutes working out how to watch 53 episodes of I dream of Jeanie for free - if you're in America you can do that anyway on Crackle.com, but over here you need to get past their stupid location restrictions.

Not that I have the slightest interested in watching I dream of Jeanie. It manages to be lightweight even by the standards of other supernatural sitcoms with inexplicable gay followings.

Last night I got to watch two free scenes from a porn movie (Oral Exams 3, I think) for some promotion or other. Figured out a way to record the stream, set it going, and went for a cup of tea while the somewhat above college-age college class were sucking off the noisy janitor. Might watch it later, if I don't get some of the real thing.

Some day I'm going to figure out how to bring down the corrupt governments of the world and end poverty forever. But not if it takes more than an hour to do.

Truths to be Self Evident


Ten things which I think are screamingly obvious, but which other people think are outrageous.

1) Science is a reliable guide to reality and action. Authority, tradition and habit are not.

2) The claims of religion are mostly meaningless or empirically false. Believing them does not make you a better person.

3) If you have a word for something, that doesn't mean it exists. And giving a name to something you haven't defined doesn't qualify as a definition.

4) Reductionism misses the point. "Explaining" behavior in terms of brain states or genetics is useless for the same reason
explaining poverty in terms of string theory is useless.

5) Psychoactive drugs, sensibly used, add value to life and are not dangerous. This includes alcohol. There is nothing inevitable about addiction.

6) Sexuality is not a moral issue. Almost no sexuality has anything to do with breeding or genital pleasure. It pervades thought and culture.

7) Race is a fiction. Like any falsehood commonly believed, it gains a kind of reality.

8) "Common Sense" is a self-contradictory mish-mash of beliefs which the ruling class found it useful to propagandise at some point. The beliefs can endure and mutate unpredictably for centuries.

9) Competition produces cheating, inevitably. Co-operation produces better results.

10) There are no limits to hypocrisy, hand waving, double standards, willful blindness and rationalisation. All beliefs are possible, in all combinations.

Good news: There's six schools newly desperate for teachers.
Bad news: They're all in Saudi Arabia.

No I'm not going.

Fear Factory


Yes, it's Halloween, so I'm supposed to write something scary. But I'm not sure just what is spooky or creepy.

I think it's quite scary that some people really do believe in witches, demons and time-delayed curses that are corrupting your children tonight.

But I think it's scary that some people think Uri Geller isn't a stage magician, climate change is a liberal conspiracy and someone in Nigeria really does want to make you a millionaire, so what do I know?

So here's a selection of things about my humble existence, and you tell me if any of them gives you the creeps. Or the raving ab-dabs, or the screaming heebie-jeebies.

1) Last night I had the most astonishing sex in the world with a guy who considers himself "straight but occasionally bi". I asked him how a straight (but occasionally bi) guy could give such fantastic oral sex, and he said he practices - a lot - on women. But not as much as he'd like.

So there you have it, straight cunnilingueurs (that's a word I just made up) give the best gay blowjobs.

I like to think I held my own. Though I was actually holding his, just not with my hands. They were, um, otherwise occupied. Well one of them was - the other was quietly getting cramp, which remained completely painless until we disentangled.

He's a nice guy too, and during our post-langulolipal-glanofellation (another word I just made up) huggings, under the romantic full moon and warm night air (what?) I found myself thinking I could probably fall for him. But it's probably not a good idea to fall for your straight (but occasionally bi) fuckbuddy, so I decided not to.

2) You may remember that we have mice in the house.

We've got three dogs of a breed bred as ratcatchers, but they seem much happier as slightly pampered pooches that curl up all around you the moment you lie down. Occasionally they do see a mouse...and bark at it nervously.

I've got two mice in my bedroom. One is (I think) an occasional visitor from next-door via some permeable walls, and the other seems to live in the plumbing on the opposite wall. They're called Bert and Ernie, though for all I know they could actually be ten females who only appear two at a time.

They're soft brown hemispheres with tails and bright dark eyes, and I haven't actually seen either of them for weeks. But I can hear Ernie. Rustling around in papers and plastic bags, chewing on...something.

Is it the unspeakably greasy and tasteless fried chicken I threw away six weeks ago, that's still waiting to be taken away in a sealed black plastic dustbin liner in one corner? Is it the cardboard storage box of magazines documenting socialist theoretical debates of the 1970s - that I once in a moment of insanity thought I might scan and OCR?

I don't know. But like me, Ernie is an insomniac and night snacker, rootling around at odd hours of darkness inside something the rustles, pausing presumably to eat, poop and doze. But not, I think, breed.

I once found a half eaten bar of chocolate on the floor. That is, half eaten by me and the remaining half half eaten by small sharp teeth scraping away, leaving it looking like tree bark.

3) Tommorow is the start of NaNoWriMo, and I'm wondering if I should:

(a) Come up with a plot in the remaining two hours till midnight, then start writing,
(b) Admit to myself that my bedroom recording studio is not going to get any more ready no matter how many more final preparations I invent make, and I should actually start using it - instead of using NaNoWriMo as yet more displacement activity, or
(c) Go and have another one of mother's home-made chocolates, and then decide.

Oh yes, mother and me are on a diet, but it's slightly hindered by her newfound passion. Today's experiment involved mixing the chocolate powder from a dozen cappuccino kits with butter and peppermint oil, melting the result in with a block of cooking chocolate and setting the result in rubber molds from ebay.

Yesterday it was two thin layers of hard 70% cocoa chocolate sandwiching a dark paste made with castor sugar and various spirits, thickened with whipped eggs.

Tomorrow...will be even darker and more adventurous I'm sure.

So do I scare you? Am I deeply creepy or sleepily unfreaky? Would you let your daughter marry me? Would your daughter let you carry on with me?

Or are you the scary one?

Mmmmm. Chocolate.


There's a small discussion on political revolution over at Teenage Misanthropy.

As someone who's spent the last decade sitting in community centers with revolutionaries, I thought I'd give you an insight into what it's all really about. In graphical form:



[Click it to big it]

Nom Nom Nom


I need to lose weight.

Which means I need to eat less.

Which means I need to avoid the things which make me want to eat more.

These things are:

1) Television.

I fix myself some scrambled-eggs-on-toast for breakfast. I've a very particular way of making scrambled eggs, which involves slowly microwaving the egg whites with a little pepper and salt, then adding the yolk and mashing them up, maybe helping the whites to heat the yolk with another 15 seconds in the microwave.

The result is, well, scrambled eggs...but creamier. The vital thing is that the yolks need to be hot, but still liquid, so the lumps of white sit in them like a sauce.

So I settle down to eat, and realise there's something missing. Some non-culinary part of the experience. Ah! The kitchen TV.

I flip around the channels, looking for something to eat my creamy eggs to. There's the morning news (a non-report on a non-event), the morning news of a different channel (a non-interview with a non-interesting microcelebrity), the history channel (usually something non-informative or non-accurate about WW2), or a wide selection of violent cartoons.

I usually end up watching something about macho sports cars...or a rerun of one of the Star Treks.

The thing is though, it works the other way around. If my brain's too tired to do anything useful, I sit down to watch something nonthreatening or moderately informative - which usually turns out to be a medical drama or, um, one of the Star Treks - and then get the feeling that something's missing. Something...culinary, to go with the televisual experience. Some gustatory accompaniment.

For some reason, it doesn't happen with radio.

2) Boredom.

I'm bored! Which usually means "I'm too tired to do anything interesting but can't or don't want to sleep". What am I going to do?

Something that doesn't require any of the brainpower I don't have right now, but doesn't involve just sitting and staring at the wall. Or Star Trek.

3) Sex.

I used to live with someone who got cravings for cheese on toast after having an orgasm. I always fancied a cup of tea after mine. So after I bit his nipples till he came (what?) I went downstairs, put on the kettle, burned some bread and chopped up some cheese.

Nowadays the first thing I long for after love is...to have my ears mercilessly banged, by some hard, throbbing techno. German for preference, with guttural, doom-laden lyrics - you know the kind.

But there's also post-mutual masturbation munchies. After-anal avarice. Following-fellatio food. It could be a plate of pasta, rice with fish, or indeed some cheese on toast. Usually with a nice cup of tea - currently I'm favouring unsweetened tea with lemon juice. But basically I just want something hot and salty that I can swallow hard after...erm, yes well anyway.

4) Eating.

There's a French proverb which runs "Appetite comes with eating" - in other words, "The more you have of something, the more you want". But it's literally true too.

You feel like a little snack, so a little snack is what you have. Maybe just a cheese sandwich - which magically acquires toppings of peppers, lettuce, spring onions, mustard-mayo and whatever else is in the fridge.

It's quite nice, so you make another one. Which makes you realise how hungry you are.

That's not hungry as in "my stomach is empty" - it's hungry as in "I'm already full, maybe even a little bit overfull, but I really feel like giving my tastebuds something to do".

So you fix yourself something else, something bigger, something that makes you feel bloated and guilty afterwards - something that you know is going to make you bloated and guilty afterwards as you're eating it - but you enjoy eating it anyway.

Though for some reason you don't enjoy it as much as you expected, which if you're really far gone makes you try eating something else afterwards in the hope that that'll be as pleasurable as what you thought the last one was going to be.

Thin people seem to live with the bizarre delusion that we eat because we're hungry. If that were true all meals would be snacks, and there'd be no such thing as set times to eat.

No. I eat because of long-established psychological associations with other activities, and a habit of regarding it as the default "ticking over" state.

Oh, and because I enjoy doing it. I enjoy it a lot. If I were more organised and more traumatised I'd develop bulimia - so it's probably a good thing I'm both hopelessly disorganised and not haunted by my own childhood. It's difficult to be haunted by something that dull.

So, how do I get out of the two way association of TV and TV Dinner? Either stop watching TV, or spend several weeks forcing myself to not do one while doing the other.

The boredom connection? I'm not sure how to give up boredom, but there's an ever-growing stack of books I keep meaning to read.

Sex? No I am not going to give up sex. Maybe swallow a tab of appetite-reducing but sex-enhancing amphetamine before meeting with a regular? Hmm, that might just possibly create problems of its own. Not sure about that one.

And the French Feedback-loop problem? Probably comes down to willpower.

Sigh. Anyone got any better ideas?


Eighteen today!

Eighteen thousand visits to this here blog. The magic number came from someone surfing from this post on Aethelread's blog - in which I'm commenting something geeky.

And speaky of geeky...my visitor stopped by at 2053 on Oct 25, lives in or near London, runs Firefox on XP, with Javascript 1.5 and a monitor set to 1600x1200 at 32 bit colour depth. They use this hitherto unknown ISP and, erm, apparantly stayed zero seconds.

The Seventh Fail


Windows 7 is out today.

When Vista came out, there were a lot of glowing reviews of pre-release versions in magazines, a lot of caution from the more tech-savvy PC users, and Microsoft tried vainly to get the public to hold "Vista release" parties in their homes - using a series of cringeworthy adverts. And within a month everyone who'd tried it hated everything about Vista.

This time, there's a lot of glowing reviews of pre-release versions in magazines, a lot of outright hostility from the more tech-savvy PC users, and Microsoft has a new round of horrible party adverts - evidently having learned nothing from the last time. I wonder how many ordinary users are even going to try Windows 7.

After XP, Microsoft announced it was going to redesign Windows from the ground up - removing all the useless junk and memory-hogging redundant resources, doing away with all the bug-ridden bug fixes, spyware-installing updates, and security patches that created security holes and had to be patched themselves. The result would be small, fast and easy to use.

This they completely failed to do. The result was bloated, slow, impossible to configure and a pain to use. Yes, it was called Vista.

After Vista, Microsoft talked about...well, redesigning Windows from the ground up. For real this time, honest.

This they have completely failed to do. Windows 7 uses the Vista kernel, with some efficiencies made in memory management. I've used the beta version and read reviews from journalists who've used the release version. It looks like Vista, it's a bastard to use in the same way as Vista only slightly worse, it's about as configurable as a concrete block - just like Vista - and best of all...it's even larger than Vista, at 8-11GB.

Oh, and it's less compatible with XP software than Vista was.

Here's a benchmark test, to give you some idea of the speed.

I use a stripped down version of XP - my customised version of someone else's customised version. The OS is 500MB, plus about as much again for Java, .NET, C++ runtime and such. The software comes to 1.5GB for 78 programs, all in portable formats.

I started using XP because a few programs wouldn't run on Windows 2000 - programs that I actually don't use anymore. So I can't help wondering how many of my current programs would run perfectly under 2000, which has a kernel of 56MB.

But why do I use Windows at all? Ubuntu is more stable, Linux more elegant and configurable. OSX on a Mac would be faster.

There's two reasons. First, all my software is for Windows, and everything I know about fixing problems relates to Windows. I'm used to it and I know how to use it.

Second, there's just a lot more software around for Windows. I spent last night trying out a dozen free programs to make mindmaps - and there's two or three times that number of commercial programs to chose from. There's maybe half a dozen for the Mac. Months ago I tried out nearly thirty "session capture" programs - applications that make a "movie" of what happens on your screen - and there were at least as many that I didn't try.

In both cases, the best programs turned out to be free ones. That happens quite a lot.

How many DAWs does Ubuntu have? To my knowledge, one - and it's still in development. So if I don't like that one, I'm screwed. There's easily 20 for Windows - and incidentally the one I think is best costs GBP15.

Windows will never be great, but it is well supported and does work pretty well. Which is to say, XP works pretty well. I might check back on Windows 7 when it's on its second service pack and there's a lot of illegal programs to hack it into usability.

Ur Doin IT Rong


Today's IT phone call...

The Problem: Company A has sent company B a spreadsheet, partially filled out, for B to complete and send back. But instead of sending the spreadsheet file, they seem to have printed it out, scanned the result, and sent the picture as an attachment.

Solution 1: Print out the graphic, write appropriate figures in the appropriate columns, borrow a scanner, scan in the annotated printout, and send it back as an attachment.

Problem with Solution 1: Don't know anyone who's got a scanner to borrow it from.

Solution 2: Load the graphic into MS Word and overlay some text onto the blank bits.

Problem with Solution 2: Don't know how to do this.

Solution 3: Load the graphic into a graphics package (Photoshop, Draw, even MS Paint) and insert text in the white spaces.

Problem with Solution 3: That's exactly what the company had been trying to do - with the pencil tool :-S. And it wasn't working too well. Don't know how to place text on a graphic.

Solution 4: Ask Company A why they did such and idiotic thing, and get them to send the actual spreadsheet document.

Problem with Solution 4: Don't want to risk offending Company A.

Solution 5: Copy out the graphic onto your own spreadsheet, fill in the blanks, and send the result by email.

And that's what they're doing, as I type.

Technology - the more it does, the more idiots can screw it up.


Feeling better now! After a full day of nothing but...



...I'm now pain free and feeling more like...



Which is good, as I've run out of croppable gloryhole pictures. So, where were we?



Not so much of this...


...but still feeling like this...
Feeling somewhat better.

But still a bit distracted.



Joints still painful.



I've got a virus, so I'm feeling a bit lousy.

Asleep on my feet, in fact.

Day's Data - Part 21


0030: Half an hour's figuring out how the Windows Vista (hack, spit) version of Outlook Express (hack, spit) makes email distribution lists. Half an hour to make one. Then three hours scoffing burger and chips, getting slowly drunk - not least on half a bottle of bad red wine someone had left on the pub table.

So this is me, drunk, and this is my day, spent.

Day's Data - Part 20


1925: The bitch is back.

By which I mean...

We've got four dogs - three boys and a girl. The girl, Sadie, is 20 months old and goes into season about once every ten weeks - rather more often than is usual, but each time with the usual result of frantically whining and door-scratching boy dogs. Now, after being in season a little too often, she's finally "of marriageable ago". Old enough to make puppies!

Dog estrus lasts about three weeks - a week of hormonal buildup"
, a week of fertility, and a week of wind down, basically. Sadie's been staying with an old family friend for the first week...and now she's back and ready to breed.

So with any luck there'll soon be the patter of tiny feet in the Kapitano household.

In the meantime, I'm off to fix another computer. See you when I get back.

Day's Data - Part 19


1800: What's nicer than waking up and luxuriating in bed for an extra hour because there's nothing urgent that needs to be done?

Answer: Waking up and luxuriating in bed because, although there's always something that needs to be done, it's just too nice.

But there's always something that needs to be done. In this case there's someone who needs personal 1-to-1 tuition on how to use an email program's basic functions. Because they're too lazy to read the help file, too IT illiterate to understand it if they did, and too scared of computers to work it out for themselves by looking at menu options.

And in return they buy me an alcoholic beverage I don't really feel like, and tell me anecdotes I've heard too many times already. And that's the ballad of the long suffering computer geek.

In my own email box, China and Spain are silent as ever, but the Czech republic...are still passing my CV around. Jihlava have the vacancy filled, so they've passed my details on to Most. From which I conclude two things:

(1) "Urgent" means something different in TEFL from what it means in the rest of the world.

(2) Head office have yet to grasp that making decisions in parallel is quicker than doing it in series. How difficult is it to email two copies of a CV to different cities at the same time on the understanding that only one of them can have the teacher? To difficult for them, it seems.

Day's Data - Part 18


1055: Did I mention sleep? Sounds like a good idea.

And while I'm snoozing, or at least lying on the bed and thinking about snoozing, my trusty hardworking laptop will be uploading selfextracting archives of my programs to Adrive.com - just as an assistant deputy backup in case my backup discs get lost or damaged.

Because my trusty hard working laptops sometimes aren't that trusty. Or working.

Day's Data - Part 17


0930: The idea of structuring your life around media broadcasts now seems hopelessly restrictive.

You don't have to read newspapers at particular times, so why should you have to tune in to the TV news at a particular time? The only reason for insisting that you get this information at that time is...that the technology doesn't exist to make it any other way. Which now it does.

I look forward to a time when all the radio stations have become podcasters. You want the dance music show? Have it when you feel like energetic music. You want the drivetime show? Have it when you're actually driving.

It would be less of a transformation for TV channels - because most of them show repeats of stuff you've already seen anyway.

Unless you think I'm mad for using a software gizmo to download a supposedly "stream only" music show so I can listen to it five minutes later. Here it is - my current favourite music not-exactly-podcast.

Day's Data - Part 16


0800: Breakfast time! Fried mushrooms on toast, with tea.

Have you noticed, the term "Breakfast of champions" is only ever used ironically?

I read that one of the techniques used to "soften people up" for interrogation is to confuse their sense of time by, among other things, making every meal breakfast. Exactly why losing your sense of which day it is - or indeed eating quite a lot of cornflakes - should make you less resistant to questioning, I'm not sure. But then, I like cornflakes and don't particularly care what day it is.

Probably the main reason we have breakfast at all is the traditional sleeping pattern of a single block of 6-9 hours at night. A pattern, you may have noticed, I don't feel bound by. As far as I'm concerned, the most sensible time to sleep is when you feel like sleep, and the most sensible time to wake up is when you don't need any more sleep - but other people seem to have a different notion of "sensible", whereby the best time to sleep is whenever everybody else thinks they should sleep.

But it is possible to break your sleep up into smaller segments, spaced fairly regularly throughout the day. And the advantages are...that you wind up needing less sleep, and you're fully awake for much longer. Sounds like a good deal to me.

If I'd have heard about this "polyphasic sleep" months ago, I'd have given it a go, and might be doing it now. As it is, trying to start a new job is not the best occasion to experiment with your sleep patterns.

Oh yes, the connection with breakfast is that, when you sleep polyphasically, your meal patterns also change - you tend to eat a larger number of small meals. As a snacker, that appeals to me too.

Day's Data - Part 15


0730: What's the difference between Wikipedia and a paper encyclopedia?

With a paper encyclopedia you get to be distracted by more interesting things...in alphabetical order.

I once borrowed an encyclopedia of philosophy for some research on Hegel. The Hegel article was completely unhelpful...but next to it was a fascinating one on Heidegger, and next to that was a good one on Husserl.

Edmund Husserl founded the philosophic school called Phenomenology - concerned with the study of experience rather than reality - and Martin Heidegger was his star pupil, and inspiration to the French Existentialists. He was also a nazi, it turns out, but I still think his ideas on "personhood" are intriguing.

Anyway, soon afterwards I dashed off some generic paragraphs on Hegel, and settled down with my Heidegger and Sartre.

With wikipedia you do the same thing, but in order of tangential relationships.

So I go from petit mal seizures, to prosopagnosia (the inability to recognize faces), to computerised face recognition software, to the Capgras delusion (the belief that someone's been replaced by an identical impostor), to Invasion of the Body Snatchers to...um, the history of grave robbing and the life of William Henry Pratt.

I prefer the wiki way of wandering.

Day's Data - Part 14


0645: In the light of what I wrote earlier, I thought I'd do a bit of googleresearch. Googleresearch is like research, but about as useful as a sack of broken hammers.

So what do I find? I find a medical syndrome with possibly the best name ever: Sudden Unexplained Death Syndrome.

Which leads with wonderful inexorability to the heading: What Causes Sudden Unexplained Death Syndrome?

Day's Data - Part 13


0620: I've decided to backdate each post to the time it was written.

Ah, I've got a new follower on Twitter. Oh, it's just another pornospam account.

This picture from the site expresses how I feel about my new follower.



Day's Data - Part 12


0615: I dozed for 90 minutes, woke up, decided to go back to sleep and then...had a fit.

Yes. Confession time. You see, I have a form of epilepsy. At least I think I do. I've had it all my life.

Each attack lasts 20-40 minutes, starting gently, building to a peak about halfway through, then gradually fading away.

When I say epilepsy, I'm not talking about the stereotypical juddering, twitching, foaming and moaning episodes some people have, and I'm not talking about the temporal lobe epilepsy of the spiritual experience. With me, it's tactile, auditory and temporal exaggeration.

Tonight, I knew it was starting because, when one toe brushed against a bedsheet, it felt like the toe was three times it's normal size, and so was the bedsheet. I could feel the texture very precisely.

Minutes later, the sounds and sensations of my breathing became long and slow, as though I had the lungs and chest of an elephant sized creature, inhaling and exhaling slowly, ponderously, noisily.

My arm brushed against one of my nipples, and the nipple felt like a bulbous plate of flesh a foot wide. I scratched an itch on my cheek - the finger, the nail, the cheek and the itch were all somehow enlarged but remained in proportion to each other, and the action taking correspondingly longer to do.

I could feel the hairs of the stubble on my cheek in fine detail, against my fingertip. The itch was stretched and diffuse, like a piece of chewing gum pulled to cover a wider area but becoming "weaker" or "thinner" in the process.

It's impossible to do anything rapidly during an attack. Or rather, its impossible to feel like you're doing anything rapidly. I've walked with no loss of balance - if anything, the opposite - but with the sense that my legs are moving at a quarter their usual speed.

My speech is similarly slowed. I think the slowing effect is real because...on three or four occasions it's happened when I was with someone. On some I tried to explain what was happening, and one said my voice was strange and I was scaring them.

Sounds are loud - or rather, their volume is in some way stretched like the itch, so they're both louder but somehow thinner. Music booms and is "smeared", as though it's being played underwater.

When I was young the whole experience used to scare me. I remember once when I was about five it happened, and it felt/sounded like a train was being driven through the center of my head. Crashing and relentless, blotting out all other sound - all I could do was curl up and wait for it to end.

In my teens I got curious, and on one occasion wondererd what an orgasm would feel like in this state, so the next time it happened I masturbated. The orgasm was like the music, dull and heavy, muffled and indistinct, like the writing on an overinflated balloon.

These attacks happened irregularly, sometime seperated by a fortnight, sometimes for months. On averge I'd say they happened every three months. Between about 25 and 35, I think they became about half as frequent, but now they're happening about as often as before.

I've always been perversely ashamed of these episodes, and I hated having to tell anyone about them.But now I realise this shame is just as unhelpful as all the other shames I've discarded over the years. So now I'm telling you.

Perhaps this is quite a common experience, I don't know. Nowadays it's more an inconvenience than a problem, but I'm vaguely curious to know what's really going on in my brain.

Day's Data - Part 11


0255:I've got a headache. I need to lie down.

Ah, found some ibuprofen. Brilliant.

Day's Data - Part 10


0220: "This Islamic Community" - it's an odd term. Not so much for what it means literally, but for the way it's used.

You can meaningfully talk about "The Christian Community" - on the understanding that it excludes most people who call themselves christians, because most self-defined christians don't chose their associations on religious grounds.

"The Hindu Community" as commonly used seems to mean The Indian Community...except for the 5% who are christian. But sometimes it includes The Pakistani Community, but not The Bangladeshi Community.

I've known members of The Islamic Community. Some of them weren't actually muslims because they'd formally ditched their faith but not their families. Some had converted. And some people who actually are muslim and associate with muslims don't get included in The Islamic Community, presumably on the grounds that they're white.

So if you're Arab (but not Palastinian), or Asian (but not Indian, Japanese, Philipino, Tibetan...or Chinese), or politically "islamist" (but not a member of the Nation of Islam)...then you're probably in The Islamic Community. Unless you're from some parts of Africa in which case...you're in a different The Islamic Community.

I love clarity. That's why politics annoys me.

Day's Data - Part 9


0215: Gmail, hotmail, squirt account. Oh well, nobody wants to tell me anything. Except that I may already have won a holiday to...blah blah blah.

[Slurp tea...aaah!]

Day's Data - Part 8


0200:Yesterday Stephen Gately - 90s boyband popsinger - died.

Today the tabloid mill spins its usual insinuations about alcoholism, depression, drug addiction and suicide. Oh, and apparantly Gately was a right bastard because he broke off contact with the parents who hated him for being gay.

Tomorrow the boot goes further in - sometimes disguised as tributes.

Day's Data - Part 7


0130: Sigh.

No new email, no new podcast of the Keith Olbermann or Rachel Maddow shows, not hungry, not feeling creative, can't face trying to tidy up the bedroom...can't be bothered to have a wank. What am I going to do?

Have a cup of tea. I keep a cup, a spoon, a small teapot, a kettle, a box of teabags and a supply of dried milk in my bedroom at all times.

Day's Data - Part 6


0125: Another murder idea, got the same way.

A man, with the assistance of his sister, kills his wife, just as they're about to move from one town to another. The man arrives in the new town, accompanied by his sister impersonating his wife.

After making sure everyone in the neighbourhood knows them, they fake the "wife"'s death - making sure a third party finds the body, which then dissappears. The sister appears as herself, out of disguise, apparantly to comfort her bereaved husband.

In other words, a time-shift plot - and indeed a body-switch plot. How would the detective figure this one out? No idea.

Day's Data - Part 5


0055: Idea for a murder mystery, got tangentially from the review comments.

A will is written with labyrinthine terms and conditions, such that if two family members die in the right order, the youngest son gets the deceased's fortune. This is probably just an unintended consequence of the will being so complex - as when a program works perfectly but produces an unexpected result.

One of the family members is murdered, and the detective figures out the culprit and the motive. But makes a deal with the murderer to derail the investigation in return for a slice of the fortune - and helps to arrange an alibi for the second murder that will net him that slice.

Years later, a second detective investigates the apparant incompetence of the first - who was of course killed in a mysterious "accident" before he could start blackmailing the killer.

Day's Data - Part 4


0044: Just realised I don't really know what World of Warcraft is. Back to the reviews.

Day's Data - Part 3


0025: Get indigestion from hot chocolate and cheese biscuits.

While reading reviews (and comments) of my favourite TV medical drama written by an actual doctor.

Day's Data - Part 2


0015-0020: Check RSS feeds.

I'm currently having my little Firefox plugin monitor 76 feeds.

  • 7 friends' blogs
  • 7 twitter accounts
  • 16 science blogs
  • 4 politics blogs
  • 19 music podcasts
  • 5 short story podcasts
  • 3 blogs about linguistics
  • the inevitable 11 in the "Misc" category, and...
  • 13 podcasts on politics and science - though I think I'll cut down on both.


Even people with a great deal of good stuff to say seem to feel the need to whitter on as though they were presenting a "light" afternoon chatshow.

Plus most people speak at 150-200 words per minute, and I can get my reading speed up to 1000 - the benefits of some intensive-but-inconclusive research on speedreading a decade ago. 400wpm is a good comfortable speed for anyone who reads a lot professionally - or has 76 RSS feeeds.

Of course, it took rather longer to write all that than to check the updates - and find nothing special.

Day's Data - Part 1


At fifteen minutes to midnight, I decided to try blogging whatever I did in a 24 hour period. So this is it.

0000-0010: What's a good midnight snack for you?

How about hot chocolate, with cheese biscuits? I wonder how many now-traditional culinary staples are the result of not having anything else in the kitchen one night.

Not Like Progress


NLP stands for Neuro-Linguistic Programming.

As with all good abbreviations each word is misleading - there's no basis in neurology, not much to do with language, and there's no sense in which the brain can be programmed like a computer. If there were, there'd be no such thing as a teacher.

It's composed of large sections of Scientology, fragments of misunderstood Chomskyian linguistics, a smattering of cod Freudian psychology, and elements taken from EST.

EST is an expensive crank therapy based on the idea that if a lot of people shout abuse at you for several hours, you'll eventually have a miniature nervous breakdown, which will in some way liberate you from "old" ways of thinking, which will in some way turn you into middle manager better at manipulating other middle managers. NLP makes the same basic promise, but tries to offer variations for everyone.

It was originally formulated by Richard Bandler and John Grinder. Bandler now spends his time increasing his multimillionaire fortune suing everyone (including Grinder) who teaches NLP without buying his permission. He uses the cash to keep up the most amazing cocaine habit.

The premises of NLP are that:
(1) The mental processes of the best people in any field can be modelled,
(2) You can reprogram your behavior to mimic these processes,
(3) This will make you just as successful as them, regardless of your circumstances.

If you want to know whether NLP or the methods of any other self-perfection cult are effective, you have two options. You can either spend years wading through hundreds of arcane abstractions before asking yourself whether they add up to anything...or you can look at its master practitioners, and ask yourself whether they fulfil the method's promise.

Scientologists are supposed to have perfect mental and physical health. Objectivists are supposed to be completely rational, whatever that means. NLPers are supposed to be able to read your inmost desires and manipulate you any way they wish.

In fact Scientologists tend to be mental wrecks, Objectivists are preening jerks, and NLPers are among the most lonely, hated and ineffective people you'll ever meet.

And the most gullible, obviously.