I'm watching this couple on the beach, they are writing in the sand by the water and photographing it just as the water comes in to wash it away. Some artistic comment on the futility of life no doubt. They seem very happy, finally dumping the photographic equipment in the sand and hugging each other carefully near the waters edge. They squeak a little as the water covers their shoes.
Further down the beach Damo and Nat are examining the rocks, determining the composition or something. It involves a lot of touchy feely stuff that isn't at all what I expected a geological expedition to be like. Then again they aren't geologists so it's not surprising. Myself? Well I have planted my bum on a stretch of warm sand and I'm slowly excavating it (not my bum, the sand), trying to find things embedded in the matrix, to see if there is anything of cultural value. There is a lot of pumice, which suggests either a lot of manicurists have visited this beach recently, or that there was a volcanic eruption here sometime in the past. I'd hedge for the latter.
The beach is a place for families, couples and lonely people, or so it seems. I suspect that I feel this way today because these are all the people I can see. A man wanders past filming on his digital camera, while narrating into his mobile phone. I can only imagine he is describing to someone somewhere what he is seeing, and how he feels at this very moment, while capturing it for them on film. It's strange how despite his attempts to bring himself closer to someone the technology is getting in the way of his real world. Sometimes I still think memories, or words produced for others after the fact (no matter how embellished) represent truer experiences, because they capture feelings unique to a person.
I suppose that's why I can listen to people rabbit on about their travels for hours, as long as I get to ask questions about how these things they saw, or the places they went made them feel.
I asked one of my co-workers who was recently overseas to grab for me a stone from a beach somewhere, and make sure she remembered a story about the stone. About the beach on which she found it, to tie her in my mind to a place, and as a mnemonic to get her to recount her state of mind when she found it. She will be back at work next week, I hope she has.
Damo and Nat wander back towards me, the sun is setting and the sand cools quickly underneath me, the photographic couple are back making memories of messages in the sand. I'm sick of this melancholic feeling that washes over me when I see the sea. The oceans sputtering their energy on breaking away the shorelines of the world. I chuckle to myself as I imagine countries in a billion years worn down to little nubbins of dirt in vast shallow oceans of water.
Nat comes close and I crash tackle her, Damo piles on and for about 15 mins we wrestle for control over Damos Gormenghast sand castle, until I unthinkingly dump Nat into the moat and the castle falls to ruins. It takes about 20 mins to get the sand out of my jeans and my ears, and I'm still not sure they are clean. We flop in the sand and laze. Maybe beaches aren't places to be morose after all?
"The time has come, the walrus said…"
Lewis Carrols poem echoes in my head as we wander back to the car. I have a small pumice stone tucked into my pocket. I can feel it's porous shell absorbing the memories of the day, it's sitting here next to me as I write.
I knew there was a good reason 10-September-2000
Here's something I found in Damo's copy of FHM, Monkey Magic Video's! I knew there was a reason he bought it.
I really shouldn't drink 9-September-2000
You don't often see damo wearing a tie without a reason, I suppose the 30th birthday party of his best friend might be a good enough reason, but man he was looking swish. He was fully decked out in an ensemble straight from some mens fashion mag. Me I was drunk and hell jealous, so I told him his tie sucked (it's a boy thing trust me - Actually it wasn't too bad - very silver). Where was I?
So I'm sitting there drinking my second beer (at the party - my 5th beer for the night - and I'm a cheap drunk), when in walked a whole wad of memories from my past.
She was a short blonde anthropologist, with a striking resemblance to another anthropologist that I had known at university. I wonder if all anthropologists are attractive super intelligent beings I pondered to myself as she swanned in. She sat down in a seat near me and I plopped next to her. I dunno how we got into it, my gums were just flapping I suppose… I tend to talk way too much when I'm drunk. But the next thing I know I'm in the middle of a conversation saying things like American culture is so divergent from European culture because of the effects of war… then I remember doing all this talking with my hands. I think I was trying to explain punctuated equilibria through the haze of antihistamines and beer that was clouding my head, in an effort to draw some strange parallel between biological systems and cultural systems (a sad but funny hobby horse of mine). The theory went something like, after world war two there was so much potential energy within the small closed section of the world called the USA (which hadn't been affected by the war - as much as Europe), and all this energy went into keeping the US culture rich and happy. This had a homogenizing effect on the US, there was this amazing faith in science and the progression of humanity. Later on because there was so much potential wealth in such a small pool, potential energy if you will, American society has fractured into a zillion little subcultures …
And then I stop and try not to look embarrassed, sometimes I do that, get stuck into some wild idea and realize halfway through that its complete bull and just get embarrassed and admit I have no idea what I am rabbiting on about and try to move on. But it must have been the beer or something, or the way she looked at me making a fool out of myself, but with these fully beautiful eyes that seemed to want to hear more, I continued my rant less than half enthused until it eventually petered out into a series of nods and affirmations about nothing.* chuckle *
She fully slammed me for it, but she did so in that nice way that intelligent sensitive people can. Ahhh, it reminded me of being back at uni, except I was never drunk at uni and I could hold these sorts of conversations, discusssions on cultural dogma, neo-colonialism and the UN without even raising a sweat, and here I was trying to survive with some asinine biological parallel to a complex cultural growth pattern. * eurgh * if it werent for the fact that I am now hungover and have a headache I'm sure I would have one just thinking about how out of touch I am with that whole academic side of me.
I corner Damo near the dips and steal his beer, he looks at me and raises his eyebrows. Two people have commented to me tonight that they love his "facial gymnastics". I admit he has a wide range of face pulling abilities and perhaps he should have been a professional gurner, but I never notice these things until someone points them out to me. So I watch his face move through a series of motions which I read as a whole sentence, "what's the goss stevo?"
I start somewhat oddly "She dangerous man, someone I could fall in love with".
"Nah man, Audrey."
And my brain is thinking through the whole night , reaching back through the alcohol to when I ran into Cal in the street before meeting up with Blaise and Audrey for a drink.
"Cal is moving to Bathurst"… I don't think I said it out aloud.
Damo grabs another beer for himself
"We have greasy, bacon and eggs at my house if you wanna crash there tonight man"
I think it is sick how sometimes he can read my moods.
My mind wanders, scenes of life, the room just fills with noise, it starts to overwhelm me, and suddenly I'm standing on a small balcony and she is nestled against my chest, overlooking a fountain somewhere, the statues in the fountain are entwined, grey marble, water spilling contentedly down into a dark pool below. I can smell her hair but before she turns to talk to me...
I'm brought back to reality by the tail end of a question.
He has this sneaky way of involving me in circular conversations, which get me to spit out little bits of information without realising I'm telling him what's on my mind.
"She likes bookstores"
He sighs… and grabs me another beer before the lights go out and the crowd starts to sing that crazy happy birthday tune.
How embarrassment :P 8-September-2000
Okay a quickie to improve your high opinion of myself, or at least to improve your mood. Stephen being the sort of person he is, is challenged on his mad skillz at seducing the ladiez by the office admin type person at Hiser...
Hmmm okay lets take a quick step back in time. We were reading this paper a few weeks back and someone stuck an article about how "user interface design" was a cool "hot job". Anyway they had the picture of someone in the paper that I commented was "attractive". Hey what's to stop me doing that I can't help it if she was. Anyways, a couple of weeks later Donna our office admin type person cuts out her picture in the shape of a love heart and leaves it on my desk. Being the complete sucker for a prank I see this as a wonderful opportunity to take up a challenge (and if I get a date I get $10 from Donna). So the challenge is online um... pickups *chuckle*. Okay so that's the background.
I send off an interesting e-mail to this person about professional networking, and get a polite reply ... so I wrote back saying hi and a bit more about me … trying to get the whole segue-riffing type thing going.
Don't get me wrong, I am decidedly interested in how other people perceive the profession we work in, and how they approach the problems we face. For example I want to know: are we working in a modernist framework or something post modern, do we really ever look at the whole idea of socio-cultural context in the depth of what we do, how does that translate through our artifacts (web sites) into other cultural spaces, is a useable web site cross culturally usable? So it wasn't all complete blather, and I think it would be good to get together with a bunch of people in the profession and look at some of the different theoretical approaches we take to our work in a practical setting… academia sometimes seems a bit to preoccupied to help me figure these problems out. Anyway, despite noble intentions (after the fact?), my lack of sense gets in the way again.
Of course nothing happened so I lose the bet *sigh*. Then today I'm sitting here picking up my e-mail from my home account and I get a response from the MD at this other company saying hi with a little note, wondering why I sent the e-mail from my home account.
I'm really glad he didn't ask why I specifically sought out this girls address before using the one in the article * grin *
So I'm sitting here stressing that, well they think something untoward is going on or something (like people poaching or like I'm interested in their company or something). When all along I really just wanted to meet a girl.
Of course ... I'm sitting here with this incredibly red face thinking of all the incredible repercussions of this little indiscretion. But hey it makes for a good story so I figured I'd go public now
Before it hits the newspapers.
Who's scary? 8-September-2000
Damo and I were wandering back from a night of food indulgence (Mykonos on Crown has great Greek tapas), overloaded on little tid-bits. We made it back to my place and poured ourselves through the front door of my block of flats, and there is like this old dude standing in the lift. The doors of the lift were open and he looked us in the eye as we stumbled through the door. He kept watching us as the doors slowly close not even attempting to make a display of holding the lift for us. I live one floor up so I normally take the stairs anyways, but that little display of rudeness pissed me off, so I yell "Let's get him" … and sprint for the fire stairs with Damo hooting behind me. We continued to raise this ridiculous hullabaloo all the way up the fire stairs (which can be heard in the lift), I was gasping for breath as we hit the first floor (no I'm not that unfit - well okay maybe I am, but it could have been because I was laughing so hard).
We hit the landing still yelling, just then the doors of the lift open and the old dude emerges, you should have seen his face. Now I just want to explain to you not many people are scared of me, I'm one of those nice safe looking people who gets asked for directions all the time. I carry a street directory in my bag 'cause it happens so often. I have been variously described (by ex girlfriends) as a teddy bear and cute, cuddly and all sorts of things that don't do wonders for my masculine image.
So seeing this guy scared, makes me burst out laughing again. Of course by the second wave of giggles the bloke isn't scared anymore. But the fact I got this little happy rush at being (at least for an instant) scary makes me wonder if there is a whole world of happiness I have never explored.
I mean just think, those really mean looking guys that wander up and down the streets. You know the ones, the guys with little blue tattoos of tears under their left eyes, the tatts they obviously did in prison using nothing but a ball point and a compass. Those guys, do you think that maybe they spend all day walking around giggling to themselves?
A plague on both your houses 8-September-2000
Is anyone as plagued (ring a ring a rosy…) by songs from their childhood as I am? I mean I can see something, smell something, hear something or think something and it will set off all these little avalanches of words in my head (Jack and Jill went up the hill …).
For example, Blaise says to me yesterday morning, did you see the sky this morning it was red. Those of you who know me, know I tend to go to bed early and get up early (early to bed early to rise …). So anyway she describes this awesome sunrise and I can see it in my head (red in the morning sailors warning …). Of course later in the day the inevitable meteorological consequence of the red dawn came (rain, rain go away…). Now is it just me or is that odd?
Okay Okay, enough guessing (both of you). The wonderful prize (a packet of M&M's) has been won by Blaise. Congrats! Yes, all you people out there really toiling away on what the hell the Sloth grid logo is, can get some rest. The answer was "SLOTH" spelt in semaphore. Trust me, I'll explain it to you when I meet you in person.
Some of the great guesses we got here at Sloth central were:
A game of Go
My name spelt funny
Have you ever noticed how wonderful humans are at finding patterns in things? Even finding patterns in things that don't exist?
I'm sitting there this morning preening myself in front of the mirror, shaving and thinking, and who hasn't had those thoughtful moments shaving? Perhaps that's why modern men shave? Perhaps it was a culturally induced evolutionary step towards having a few quiet moments to ponder. I mean you do need peace when you shave elsewise your liable to lop off your nose or something.
Anyway, so I'm standing there shaving thinking about how people are great at seeing patterns and drawing conclusions where there really aren't any to be seen. You know all that strange Jungian stuff on Synchronicity. So I'm admiring my rather appealing face * wink * in the mirror and I look a bit closer, and there is this white hair tucked under some others on the side of my head (hidden away like the lunches I used to "forget" in the bottom of my school bag - until they became a festering mess and my mum made me throw them out).
Now this gave me a moments pause. Imagine if you will, I'm looking at my head of hair, there a plenty of little bits of hair on my head (well they are getting fewer but I'm not bald yet), but I don't think about anyone of those little things, I don't even notice them. But … But, and I think you can see where I'm going here, I see this damn little white hair sticking out of the pattern. So I'm thinking to myself, are people really good at seeing patterns or really are we much better at observing aberrations?
Woohooo, I got carded by my current employer The Hiser Group. Now I have a corporate Amex I have to be a well behaved member of the team *sigh*. Well it made me a happy old man for a few moments.
A bit of Sloth 6-September-2000
Ahh, okay so I wanted to put something related to the art of sloth, but do you think I could find anything worthwhile? Yeah okay so I could but that hardly makes a good story eh? So I have decided to point out that CS Lewis had some great work on the seven deadly sins in his Narnia books. Some people have even sat down and done analysis of it! Imagine?
Neighbor alert! 5-September-2000
Well I met my next door neighbors tonight. I was busy lazing around on my bedroom floor hacking out the new Sloth logo (see if you can guess what it really is - small prize to the one who guesses). Dressed in my cargos and a really really old blue tee-shirt, I had come home and had a shower and my hair was a mess (I had earphone hair), I had been lying on the carpet for about 30 mins and my clothes were completely creased, 'cause you know I was at home?! Anyways I'm bopping away to a terribly mysogynistic album hooray for boobies by the bloodhound gang *grin*, and there is this knock at the door. Stumbling to my feet I launch myself at the door ready to berate whatever friend had sprung this little surprise on me. I answer the door and there is this fully beautiful woman from next door. Now don't get me wrong every guy has had one of those wonderful neighbor fantasies, but they don't usually involve being sprung at the moment of optimum dag (I'm sure there was still some of my recently scoffed dinner hanging from my beard). Regaining what little composure I normally have I said hello, accepted an invitation to go over and have drinks ...
Now normally I can handle most people, but I walk into this amazing apartment. "I'm sorry its a little bit messy" they exclaim, once again I forget to try and remember these peoples names, it must be a bad habit of mine.
The apartment is amazing, wonderful handdrawn charcoal drawings sit on an easel, some incredible furniture, and a million candles. Another thing, I live in a pokey little place, and here across the hall is this massive playground (2 bedroom), it has a balcony, and get this, our building has a damn courtyard? can you imagine my surprise and disappointment that I can't get to the damn thing, what a great place to do tai chi in the mornings. Anyway, so I'm standing in the middle of this whole scene from some amazing lifestyle catalogue chatting to these two absolutely beautiful women, who hand me a gin and tonic.
Slap me stupid with a tuna or something but I just didn't fit in. Turns out these people move in these incredible circles I have never even dreamt about. One runs her own furniture warehouse (hence the amazing furniture), the other is some huge wig in Levi's sales, hence the beautiful people syndrome. (I wish I could remember their names *chortle*).
Some of their friends dropped around. One guy Dave was slick, I mean slick in a nice way he works for Reuters came out from England in 1987 (how come I can remember the guys names?). Nice guy, then some strange guy also turns up (DJ), nice guy too, but he is a computer geek, with even worse social skills than mine. I looked across the table at him and start to feel uncomfortable.
Because I know I'm one of him, I can see where this guy is coming from, how the world is simple and logical, and how I'm drowning in this world of chat, and networking. It's not that these people aren't nice. Far beyond that. These people are charming witty, intelligent, rich and just... so ... not real.
A new beginning 5-September-2000
So here I am redesigning my website in an attempt to actually start this project I have been promising myself for the past three years.
I suspect the URL on this web site will give you an indication of why it's taken me so long to start the redesign of the site. What the hell did you expect?
Anyway the design isn't too bad for a couple of hours hacking, and well I like the idea of red as a background, it should get everyone a little stressed, and it should bring me some luck, not that I need anymore than I have.
Well until I get off my bum and either steal some of my dad's code to write an automatic web update system I shall have to update this site manually, so expect patchy updates ahead.
If you are having conniptions you can still get to the old pages if you must, but there in nothing interesting there, though some people have managed to find the scorpion stuff (how is beyond me I never submitted my site to any damn engine!).