make-believe.org

Things I like when I'm durnk

  • Berocca
  • Computers
  • Sunshine
  • Moonlight
  • Socks
  • Kelly

Also, the prickles of stars when the moon's hid. G'night.

Joseph | 25 Apr 2008

The two-four-two

This guy says that the perfect pop song runs for two minutes, forty-two seconds, no more, no less. He claims to have proof, which is sporadically convincing.

So I created a filter in iTunes: File->New Smart Playlist..., select Time from dropdown, 2:42 in the text field, OK. And my doubts disappeared. Not a bad set list, if from a small and biased sample.

The two-four-two

Joseph | 17 Apr 2008

Text message pack rat

I don't use my phone much. Certainly not for talking to people. I do everything in my power to avoid talking to people on the phone.

I message people a bit. Not enough to be all that quick at it. Not enough for it to cost me anything — my phone bill has been $16.50 every month for the last 12 months, except in December when Kelly's ute broke down and we wasted 20 minutes on hold to the RACV. Not enough to have given up my regard for punctuation or my disdain for abbrs.

What rankles me about my phone is that despite some 2Gb of storage, I'm only allowed 4Mb for my messages. It's infuriating, because those messages are part of my written history. They're the best thing on my phone, and Nokia has granted me no way of exporting them. Everytime I'm forced to do a cull, twenty or thirty koans vanish into the void. I hate to tell you this, but I tend to delete your messages rather than mine. Not your good ones though — I'm trying to keep those, although Nokia has other ideas.

I have 1099 messages in my Sent Items folder. For a random sample, I'm going to take the 30 middlemost messages (534-563) devoid of context and dump them here. It's navel-gazing, but this is a blog, right?

Hang on, it's going to take a few minutes to scroll to them. Typing one-handed. Bring on the 3G iPhone already. Dum-de-dum. Is Everybody Knows This is Nowhere Neil Young's best album? I sometimes think so. Oh look, 420. If you recognise one, let me know. Alright, here goes nothing. (Reverse-chronological, for the record.)

  1. ! Poor bugger. It does sound a bit exotic when described that way...
  2. I reckon you picked it. So, Sarko v Sego - not sure she can make up the ground..
  3. A-ha! Thanks. Il sera interessant s'ils font cela! ... croissant.
  4. Any last minute tips on l'election for me?
  5. Hmm, he said he'd be there... Possibly he was getting some lunch with a friend
  6. Not a bad idea actually. At this stage we're planning to go to the G, but if that changes I'll give you a buzz.
  7. Good night, mon cherie
  8. I wish!
  9. I don't know!
  10. Oof. Peter's.
  11. Losing at poker.
  12. No I am gambling!
  13. Yas.
  14. Yes.
  15. No wrong jesus.
  16. As in sugar man.
  17. Jesus rodriguez playing at the corner.
  18. I suddenly need a fridge. But no drama.
  19. How busy are you today?
  20. 1:30am. Back momentarily.
  21. Fergot it were on.
  22. [Audio MMS message]
  23. Myp2p.eu. There's a list of software in the sidebar.
  24. Yep there's some blue sunnies here; I'll be here for a few hours.
  25. Excellent! I will get the cupcakes.
  26. Up for some virtual golf and a barbie on Friday arvo?
  27. WHAT ARE YOU DOING?
  28. My indian name is johsaf.
  29. Didn't hear a thing - heard it on the radio half an hour later. Quite sad
  30. On our way

So obviously that was my francophilean phase. For a lot of them, my guess is as good as yours. Incidentally, I won that poker game. And bizarrely, the only two text messages I've ever previously transcribed on this blog were in that random sample. That was unlikely. In summary, Nokia sucks.

Joseph | 3 Apr 2008

It's Tuesday night in the 'bush

So, two facts. Both rendered indisputable like erosion renders things indisputable: by the steady drip-drip of me saying it over and over. First, I live in Carringbush and the Tote is my local. Second, I do like my booze.

Except, one of these isn't quite true. With a good arm I could throw a stone from here and hit the Tote. But as this posited stone approached the top of its arc, it would fly past another watering hole. That one, if you're being pedantic, is my local. It's a corner hotel, built in a Walt Disney castellian style, with bright turquoise spires projecting from every perpendicularity. From a distance you'd say it's almost cute. Actually it's rough as guts. The closest I've ever been to mugged was walking past the front bar one Sunday afternoon, when a bloke with one arm wrapped around his girl put his other hand on my chest and inquired after my finances. That was something of a quandry, because you don't want to antagonise a belligerent man in front of his woman. The situation was eventually defused by the security guard who (oddly tenderly) embraced my assailant, turned to me and said "You'd better get the fuck out of here, bro".

I probably owe that guy a beer.

Anyway, the Tote is my local. The alternative doesn't even really register anymore. But this evening I had some work to do, and by extension that involves a dose of the great programming elixir. This pub is by any measure the most convenient of my available liquor vendors, and tonight I figured that having navigated the shadier streets of Gotham, nothing in Carringbush could hold any terrors. So I ducked across the road into the bottle shop, looking for a white wine. I cast my eyes about the shelves for a second, and then the proprietor appeared. "Have you got... oh," I said, as I found the fridge on the other side of the counter. She sort of snorted, and I looked at her.

She was a short, stocky woman with close-cropped hair. And a well-groomed moustache.

"...Could I get the Jacobs Creek Chardy?" She snorted again, we swapped bottle for change, and I was almost laughing. God I love Carringbush.

Joseph | 1 Apr 2008

Darlin don't you go and cut my hair

You might think I cut my own hair because I'm a cheapskate. There were times (good times) when that might have been a fair accusation, but these days I like to think it's demonstrably false. It's not because I'm anti-social either, though to a certain extent I am — unless I've been drinking. But of course there's Dr Follicles on Gertrude, where they ply you with Coopers ale as they tame your tresses, which would be the perfect cure if shyness or misanthropy were the ailment.

In fact, I cut my own hair largely out of obstinacy. When I was five (yes, twenty-five years ago), my mother took me to a hairdresser on Hamilton St, Mont Albert, and I got freaked before I even sat in the chair. I don't remember why, but I ran out onto the street, and no cajoling nor ultimatum could bring me back into the shop. I swore to my mother that day I would never, ever go to a hairdresser, or hair stylist, or hairmonger, again.

So for the next seven years, Mum cut my hair. She had a whole armory of scissors, I remember: some thin, some curved, some tapered for the fringe, some with teeth like crocodiles, all very cold against my skin. Despite the professional quality of her arms cache, and her diligence and patience, she usually managed to nick my ear or the back of my neck, and always, without fail, I looked like a bucktoothed goofball at the end of the procedure.

Now when you are being stubborn, and people are being accomodating, and then you have the temerity to complain in spite of their goodwill — what usually results is a stand-off. So by twelve years, when my appearance, I guess, started to matter, and yet I still would not betray my five-year-old self, but nor could I have my hair cut by my mother, she devised an ingenious plan. "You will go to the barber," she said. "He's different from hairdressers." I remember being doubtful. But I was in a no-win scenario, so I took her at her word and for two years, on an occasional afternoon, I trudged down Broughton Rd to Elgar, where Joe the Barber had a shopfront. It said Joe the Barber in the window, even if it had no white and red poles. He was old and Italian and loved his soccer and cigars. He'd say "How would you like it?" and I would mumble something like "Short back and sides" but it didn't matter — he just got out his shears and gave me a uniform #2 every time. He didn't talk much, which was really how I liked it.

I eventually wised up though. The bloke was a hairdresser. And I had sworn off them. So I started cutting my own hair when I was fourteen or fifteen. At first I did this with Mum's ordnance of cold steel, pointing one mirror at the front of my head and one at the back. The results were mixed. But I was entering a period of my life where mixed results were good. I started dying my hair — for a long time fixated on a product that gave me a lustrous "Mahogany Copper" mane, before I moved to jet black. When I got a girlfriend, Suwindi, she cut my hair a few times. She once shaped the crown of my head into a crude Eye of Osiris, it was completely awesome. You can still kind of make it out in my Year 12 handbook. At the end of that year I attended Presentation Night and accepted a prize with a small, skin-white X shaved into the middle of my head. And when I moved to Sydney there was the relatively notorious occasion where I asked my friend Elanor to "make me look like a mangy chicken." She (bless her) said "okay!" and deftly wielded the scissors, both of us giggling maniacally. I sort of did look like a black-feathered moulting rooster at the end of it.

Usually though, I was the one responsible for the crimes against my coiffure. In my twenties, as my radicalism faded and my contentment grew, I discovered these things called clippers, which you could buy at the supermarket for fifteen bucks. I had always assumed they were the exclusive property of barbers, like scalpels for doctors. Ever since, my routine has been largely unchanged. At an interval of two or three months, I go to the bathroom and (NSFW warning) strip naked, not out of any bizarre fetish but simply because I hate getting stray hair on my clothes or towels — it prickles my skin. Then I just do what Joe the Barber used to do — roll the #2 across my head for ten minutes. When done, I jump in the shower.

Of course, every time I'm obliged to do this, I feel the need to improve my technique a little. I learned that "jigging" the clippers around my head, rather than a smooth push, was much more efficient in claiming chunks of hair. I devised an ingenious method for keeping the back hairline mostly straight: wrapping one hand from earlobe to earlobe, and then pushing the #0 clippers up my neck until I hit my index finger. I have a canny knack now for hearing when the clippers are full and need to be tipped into the plastic bag in the sink.

I suppose with all this practice and conscious technique improvement, if the digital economy ever goes south, I'd make a pretty good barber. Five-year-old Joseph didn't say anything about that.

Joseph | 27 Mar 2008

A few tunes

Muxtape is a great, simple idea that suffers from a few inadequacies in the execution: uploading several songs is a click-click-wait-click-click-click-wait-etc process, songs are listed in reverse order by default, only one tape per account (so no making a tape for someone in particular, or doing a Theme Time Radio Hour), and so on.

Still, I'm sure they'll figure it out, and if they don't, someone else will. Probably the RIAA will stomp all over the idea before perfection is achieved, anyway. Meantime, here's mine. A fairly random sample of internationals I've been listening to recently; I was planning to create a separate Australian list.

Post one in the comments, if you're so inclined.

Joseph | 26 Mar 2008

No sleep since Brooklyn

I'm back in Melbourne after two weeks in the States. There's one less thing I haven't done, and it sort of feels that way.

I asked a few people about the election when I could. Not an easy thing to bring up with strangers, and particularly Americans. Most of the people I spoke to about it were my age and younger, and most of them said something along the lines of "I'm not interested in party politics". Of the committed, they divided pretty evenly between Barack and Hillary. I didn't meet anyone who identified as a Republican. The sample was small enough to be incredibly pointless (maybe 10 out of 270,000,000 or so), but I was struck by the level of disinterest anyway.

In other news, apparently while I was at SXSW, Ms Fits' Reasons You Will Hate Me won a Bloggie. Of course it's for Fits' skillfully crude humour, rather than the design or functionality of the site (for which I'm broadly to blame), but still. Congrats, ma'am, even if you didn't get a statuette.

Anyway, if you read one or two of the entries in my American diary, cheers. It was fun to write regularly, gave me a helpful prism through which to comprehend what I was seeing and doing, and I enjoyed channelling the ghost of old Tocqueville for a few weeks. Also, thanks to the folks who made suggestions on my itinerary — I acted on most of them, and improvised elsewhere, and saw a lot more than I otherwise would have. Now, who's up for a beer?

Joseph | 24 Mar 2008

Over there

In case you hadn't spotted it in the sidebar, for the next week or so I'm taking notes in my American diary.

Joseph | 12 Mar 2008

Firewall Tuesday

A lot of people have been asking me what's going to happen, whether Hillary has a chance. I find it difficult to refuse any opportunity to pontificate, but this time an illustration does the job:

Nat polls

Image courtesy of pollster.com. Weighs about a kilowordage.

Quite separately, what do I hope will happen? I quite like old Hillary, and there's a part of my brain that's clamouring for the mercy rule. She doesn't deserve to slog out a hopeless cause, so a quick kill would be a great relief. That happens if Obama takes OH and TX, which I think he will.

The moderate in me favours the scenario where Hillary takes OH and RI, but not TX or VT. That pushes the contest forward, though the result is effectively certain — see Figure 1.

But of course I'm a hopeless radical, and therefore I'm unable to resist the longshot scenario where HRC takes OH by 5, and TX by 1 or 2 (with RI giving her a treble; tiny VT being out of the question). Because while things are starting to get vicious, this contest is only working in the Democratic Party's favour. Nobody gives a shit what John Mac is doing right now — there's a great festival of health care and informed foreign policy debate going on. Would that it might continue.

Joseph | 3 Mar 2008

The end of things blues

Last night I dreamed the sun went out. All over the world, and in the town where I was, we sat and absorbed the news. Observable and scientific ramifications slowly dawned on us. It was about to get very, very cold. The stars were already incandescent, the moon was lost. Nothing could be grown ever again, and the atmosphere was already depleting. Soon, basic services -- electricity, gas -- would cease, as their operators grimly awaited the fate we all shared. The end was inexorably nigh.

The feeling was far worse than the fear of my own imminent death: the entire legacy of humanity, everything I had loved and stood upon and striven towards, was suddenly abrogated. All things became pointless.

Our course was clear: we went to the pub, and drank our rapidly cooling beers in the dark.

Joseph | 2 Mar 2008

stuff & nonsense

  • Topographic viewTopographic view
     shows elements on a webpage according to how deeply nested they are. It's a bookmarklet for web development.
  • The qualifierThe qualifier
     renders controversial statements on this page harmless. Reinstate the slings and barbs by refreshing. Also a bookmarklet.

  • jjmap
    American Diary

    Two weeks with the apple and the lone star (illustrated).

all posts, ordered by month in reverse-chronological order:

In Words

In Other Words