Monthly Archives: March 2010

What’s the longest detour you’ve ever taken?

This is the continuing series of questions for you in the comments, here’s how it works. I’ll ask you a question, and you either answer in the comments or on your own blog and drop a link to the post.


When I was about 14 I went, with my family, on holiday to the south of France. The only problem with this plan was that there was enourmous strike and blockade of the roads going on at the time we were supposed to be travelling. We decided that instead of trying to travel through the madness or delaying our trip we would attempt to drive around the problem.

It’s fair to say that you never really know how large something is until you try and drive around it. Belgium, Luxemborg, Switzerland, Germany, Italy were all visited. They all had different currencies and toll roads. The trip took two days about 14 hours of drving on day one and 20 hours on the second day. The difference in miles was probably around (1,233 – 821) = 412 but the important problem was that so many people were trying it too that traffic was still terrible even in these other countries.

So what’s the longest detour you’ve ever taken?

Watching the birds

So here’s a weird thing. A few years ago the school my mum was working at decided that it wanted to get rid of its bird collection. Its collection of dead birds in a box. Birds that had been stuffed. But apparently you can’t sell these birds because at least one of them was rare and of course the sale of them would encourage people to kill them to sell them. The school didn’t know what to do because if nobody wanted them they would have to just throw them away. And somehow throwing them away would be a far worse crime against these dead birds.

Well you can imagine where this is going I ended up with the birds and since I have owned them I haven’t really known what to do with them. It’s make or break time for the birds so they are currently sitting in our living room on display. I think I quite like them… but I can’t be trusted. Would you be freaked out if you came to visit?


I used to write by hand

A change of scene

I have been doing a lot of programming this week. This has been at work and at home.

Sometimes changing scene like this is enough to kick start things. But the main thing is that I’ve really enjoyed the short order start/finish/result element.

Of course this probably means I am avoiding the novel… But at least I’m having fun. It’s at least better than avoiding it by watching trash television.

What is your desert island drink?

This is the continuing series of questions for you in the comments, here’s how it works. I’ll ask you a question, and you either answer in the comments or on your own blog and drop a link to the post.


What is your desert island drink?

You are on a desert island, you get all the water you need, and whatever drink you want can be refrigerated.

This question comes from my Dad, so get sending those questions in.

Here’s my answer:

Well I thought about red wine, but on a desert island you’ll want something cold. And basically sometimes you just want a beer. So I think it’s going to have to be beer for me.

What about you? What is your desert island drink?

Half Birthdays

I’m sure that you all have problems remembering birthdays and anniversaries. It’s a very common problem. In fact, I’m pretty sure everyone is bad at it, we just don’t like to admit to it. It’s the same problem with people’s names. It’s easier to work around the problem with birthdays because you can always write them down somewhere.

I guess the problem comes from the asymmetric situation. We have to remember lots of events that aren’t that important to us, but at the moment that something goes wrong, the date we’ve forgotten is really important to somebody else.

A Dutch friend of mine told me that the situation for them is even more complicated. It’s hard enough remembering you anniversary, but in Holland the first big wedding anniversary used to be 25 years, but now it is common to celebrate the half of that anniversary. So you celebrate 12 and a half years after you marry. So it’s on the wrong side of the year. Now that’s got to be hard to remember.

My father and I have been talking for a while about the fact that this year is our half birthday.

The concept is simple. On what day are you exactly half the age of the other person?

For my father and I, the date when this occurs is today! I took him out to dinner to celebrate.

I have made a widget so that you can work out when yours is: Let me know in the comments when yours are.

Creative Admin

There are some pieces of admin you pretty much have to do to be creative. Things that have nothing to do with the actual creativity. They are things like posting that blog post you’ve written, buying more ink etc.

I vaguely talked about this in a recent article ‘Start’. I warned against creating a lavish revision timetable. It’s good to have a plan, but you need to ensure that you don’t turn the act of deciding what to do into an easier option than doing something.

I assume the reason we all have tendencies towards this is that the plan is never published. That’s not the point of the plan. So it’s safe.

There is a secondary problem and I hesitate to mention it. Only think this is relevant to you if you have already created something. Okay, you are already known for creating stuff pretty successfully. Only then is this relevant, otherwise forget it.

I have spent such a long time getting myself away from the crippling habit of finding the correct pen to write with. Sitting in the right coffee shop. I have forced myself to just create. And I think I can do that pretty effectively. But the problem comes that now, from time to time, occasionally, I need to be thoughtful and long-term. I need to sit and think.

I am writing this instead of working on my third draft of my novel. I’m so turned around that I procrastinate by being creative. Procrastination doesn’t go away, I guess.

But what I need to do this week is write a plan for how the edit will work. I need to think about the book as a whole, rather than diving in and “editing a certain amount of pages per day”. It’s not possible. That’s not what is needed.

But I’ve been running from that kind of creative thinking for 10 years because that’s the kind of thing that stops you from having something to edit. You spend so long planning you forget to write anything. And now I have to change.

I wish I had a tip for now…

Do fish think of the water

like birds think of the air?

Wicked sick

I think it probably started with ‘bad’ being good. And then when I was a kid, ‘wicked’ meant good. Because these happened before or while I was a kid, these terms seem perfectly reasonable. However, as with so many things, we are comfortable with all of the progress that occurred until we are around eight.

The kids of today call things ‘sick’, which means good. And obviously, that’s bad (actually bad not ‘bad’ good). The trend seems to be to use more horrible words each time. And there seem to be two phases. The early unmodified state when the word is shocking enough to work by itself. Then when it needs a bit of jujjing up we add the “well” modifier.

1. Bad
2. Well Bad
3. Wicked
4. Well Wicked
5. Sick
6. Well Sick

I am afraid to tell you that we are in the “well sick” phase. And that means that we are going to have to establish what comes next.

There hasn’t yet been enough data to tell if word length is oscilating. But the words have been getting “worse” pretty consistantly.

I think we might eventually get to ‘dead’ as good, but that’s probably too much of a leap. I think we need to have a couple of stages of illness in between. Maybe a milder one and then a stronger one. Let’s just focus on the next one, a lighter illness.

For some reason, the first thing that came to mind was ‘Rubella’. Not that I am saying rubella is that light. Wicked was a longer word and it got through the net. But wicked is only two syllables. I think Rubella is pushing things a bit far. So I pushed rubella to one side and suddenly I hit on a sure fire hit: ‘Mumps’.

“Oh man, that is so mumps.”
“That is well mumps.”

I think we have a winner.

Alternative Alliteration

So alliteration is roughly when a serious of words start with the same letter or sound (or the first sylabul does but there are several definitions). But you get the idea: Alex almost alliteratively articulated.

When something is alliterative in speech I like to mention it. But I would like to make a change to the accepted language. I would like the first letter of alliterative to be fungible. What I mean is that I would like to change the first letter to whatever the alliterative letter has been.

So say somebody said, “can’t cancel, can’t confirm Calum.”
You would respond, “Gosh that was clliterative.”

Who’s with me? Nobody… Oh.