Archive for July, 2006

Force Prompt: It’s like Sith Lightning, only nastier.

Note: I continue in my *not* actually endorsing any of this in anyway; it’s more than a little vicious. But it is interesting to study.

A while back, now, Dan made a a post about what we called the ‘Dark Side’ of Active Listening, which we’d recently talked about. In it, he describes a couple of what are, basically, Dark Side force powers; taking the skills of Active Listening and twisting them to your own ends.

I was on a train, today, and I came up with another one. I haven’t actually tried it on anyone, of course. [Although, just occasionally, I worry that I may’ve invented the entire Dark Side out of absent-minded stubborness…]

During the course of what we shall call a ‘normal’ conversation, you may’ve noticed that people cut across one another, in a bid to say whatever it is they want to say. During a ‘listening’ conversation, on the other hand, the Force User, doing the bulk of the listening, is likely to give out signals to the person doing the (bulk of) the talking.

You’ll probably have heard ’em, at some point or other – things like “Mm-hm,” and “go on,” and so-forth. These utterances don’t interrupt the flow of the talking, and don’t take too much brain-power to process, so whoever’s talking doesn’t have to take their mind of their own thought process to see if they need to work out a response; they’re just little prompts from the listening Force User to show that they’re still paying attention, and aren’t sat their composing a shopping list and looking blank.

Enter the new Dark Side power: Force Prompt.

By way of illustration, I shall carry on from where Dan’s original example, in which a boss demanded to speak to a tardy employee, left off: we join the scene in the boss’s plush corner office, where the boss is winding up his talk to the tardy guy – an avid Darksider, as we have already seen.

Boss: …I mean, looking at the records, you’ve been late in in the mornings on more than 20 of the previous 31 working days which frankly isn’t good enough.
Boss: Not only that, but you’ve also been leaving early for lunch on a regular basis, and you’re often not back at your desk until gone 2:15. Now I know that you’re not having any problems at home, because we have discussed this before, and you’ve always said everything was fine,* so I really can’t see any explanation for this other than sheer laziness.
Darksider: Mmm.
Boss: Frankly, I’m afraid it’s all getting rather serious; I can afford to give you one last chance to sort this out, but I’m afraid it really will be one final chance.
Darksider: OK…
Darksider: … Go on…

That’s the Darksider using Force Prompt, right there; the Boss has wrapped up what he wants to say, and, because the Darksider hasn’t been interrupting, but has just been listening attentively, he’s said everything he wants or needs to say – the Darksider’s given him all the space he needs to say what he wants, and so the Boss has, logically enough, said it.

Then the Darksider prompts him to continue.

In essence, having listened so well to what the Boss has to say, the Darksider now refuses to stop listening.

The Boss, then, has nothing left to say, and is left with two realistic options:

1) He can repeat bits of what he’s already said, which is likely to make him sound rambling and vacant, as he searches for a new way to phrase what he’s said only seconds before.

(Even if the Boss takes this option, the Darksider can carry on listening all day; at some point the Boss is going to be driven into the second option:)

2) The Boss can send a clear, definite signal that there’s nothing left to listen to: “OK, well, I’ve said my piece,” for example, or “Well, er, that’s all I’ve got to say, really,” – a sentences which shift the balance of authority and automatically make it sound like the Boss is apologising for taking up the Darksider’s time by talking to him.

Finally, of course, the Boss can skip options 1) and 2) and try for the really brave option 3):

3) Say Nothing and Wait

… And Wait…

…And Wait…

He’s onto a losing battle with this one, although it’s a gutsy move to try: the Darksider can just sit there in silence, with an open posture, and with his head slightly to one side, still listening to the Boss. That’s pretty cruel of the Darksider, since many people don’t get on well with silence, and especially not in situations like this one, where the Boss is going to end up running back over what he just said and thinking of ways it would’ve sounded better.

Eventually, the Boss is going to be forced into taking something like option 2, just to stop the silence and deliberately cue the Darksider into talking. That’s fine; the damage should be done, by then…

…Even if it really, really is the Darksider’s last chance, the whole encounter is likely to leave his Boss feeling strangely uneasy – because the Darksider forced a shift in the balance of power – and, with a bit of luck, won’t be in a hurry to call the Darksider back, even to sack him, because he associates talking to the Darksider with feeling awkward and not knowing what to say.

Like I say, I’ve not tried it on anyone. I’m not really a big fan of Darksiding as an actual course of action, and I don’t suggest you do it. On the other hand, it’s fascinating stuff, and I’m pretty sure this is a Darkside tactic that’s going to battle it out with Force Mishearing for my favourite Darkside power.

And I really do think it’s fascinating how something really useful like Active Listening can be warped into something genuinely cruel and heartless. Scary. But fascinating.

This Jolly Thought For the Summer Holidays was brought to you by Mister JTA’s Random Evilness, 2006. Terms & conditions apply.

* [Note that I never said the Boss was especially sensible]


Been sat applying for jobs all day. Laptop; no real keyboard. Absence of mouse (yeah I know keyboard shortcuts, but I don’t use ’em enough to be as fast as mousing, I keep having to stop and think “Is it ctrl+tab to skip on a tab, or is it shift+tab?” [For the record, it’s ctrl+shift to skip forwards a tab, ctrl+shift+tab to skip backwards one. In Firefox, anyway].

My shoulders hurt. And I’m stupidly really, really tired, despite having been drinking plastic coffee all day. (I’d’ve had real stuff, but it would take ages).

Still, I’ve now applied for a whocking great, uh… three jobs. It’d be faster if they were just easy “e-mail in a CV” jobs, but they keep wanting me to fill out forms-that-you-can’t-quite-cut-n-paste-information-to; so I keep having to re-word the same skills to fit different jobs. This is time-consuming, and now my shoulders really hurt.

O, bugger, I said that already.

Hey ho. Back to it, I guess.

O, yeah, also good luck to Suz with the jobhunting, and if it helps, every job in Oxford I looked at last month demanded fluent Italian, or German, or Spanish. Likewise every job in Reading.

Later ladies & gents…

O now this is nice.

Seriously. I’m a big fan of memes because they can be really fascinating; the shoddy ones where they ask things like “I am very kind” and the results are dead easy to fiddle are beautiful because it’s always a fair bet that the results people post are the results they want to be seen to have

That’s always fascinating. This one, on the other hand, far, far cleverer than I’d initially anticipated (although I went in with a healthy bundle of skepticism at the concept of a test that learns to be more accurate as it goes along, I can honestly say I didn’t have any of that skepticism by the time I finished…)

So yeah. I’ve got an interesting result… I’m not entirely sure I agree with it, but, hey, here it is nevertheless.

Personality Class C5

take the ‘Smart’ Personality Test

Now shove off and have a pop at it yourself. Fascinating.

A Message from the Emperor.

And now, from Coruscant, an update on the current security crisis from the Imperial head of state, Emperor Palpatine.


“Citizens of the Empire.

“Following the wanton destruction wrought on our stormtroopers by pro-Jedi terrorists aboard the Tantive IV, and the subsequent abduction of two of our Droids – R2D2 and C3PO – by an unnamed escape pod, the Galactic Empire has been obliged to send troops into the desert currently occupied by the sand people in a bid to discover and destroy their potentially leathal droid caches. The deaths of civilians such as the moisture farmer Owen Lars is an unfortunate consequence of our imperative to preserve our way of life and safeguard the well-being of our Imperial citizens.

“On the plus side, the man’s dead, so any of the droids, resources or intergalactic shoulder-fired rockets he had that might’ve been used to help the Jedi terrorists have probably been destroyed along with him and the rest of his neighbourhood, and it’ll help to send a warning to the other scum down there.

“Meanwhile, whilst we are saddened by the necessity of the genocide on Alderaan, we would like to point out that this was necessary in order to demonstrate to the Rebel Alliance that just having a few comical droids and X-Wings isn’t going to be enough for them to damage us; we could destroy all the rebels just like that, if we wanted to. That would, of course, entail some further loss of civilian life, but lives lost in the interests of the security of the Imerial Empire are, at least, lives lost well…

“Finally, I would like to counter arguments made from some unscrupulous quaters claiming that the only reason the Galactic Empire is allowed to get away with this sort of this is because we are run by the Sith.

“Sure, the Sith have had a bad press, over the last 5,000 years or so, and on many occasions we have been repressed, brutalised and murdered by the Jedi Order and their lapdog Republic. However, following the comparatively recent invention of the Galactic Empire we have found a new home, right across the entire galaxy, just like the Sith teachings of old promised we would have. Alongside this home, we have also gained new security.

“We refuse to allow this security to be threatened by anyone, even politically unnaware moisture farmers living in the desert and doing no harm to anyone: if we say they’re a threat, we can damn well blow up their world and do as we please. Anyone who argues that the attack on Alderaan was ‘extreme’ or ‘disproportionate’ is guilty of socially unnaceptable anti-Sith bias, and should be silenced as soon as possible, before their remarks get to these terrorists and their lethal droid caches and encourage the resistance.

“In conclusion: Yes, the Empire has killed a few people recently. Yes, all of these people have been civilians, but many of them may have been thinking about joining terror groups such as the Rebel Alliance and the Jedi. Even if they weren’t, it’s possible they may have been the sort of people who could’ve become terrorists, if we hadn’t killed them. The Imperial response to the loss of two of our droids and a spare escape capsule from the Tantive-IV has not been disproportionate, and it is essential that we safeguard our security. If that means destroying entire planets, then that means destroying entire planets.

“Anyway, we soon hope to kill the leader of the terrorist scum, one Obi-Wan Kenobi. Once we’ve done that, it’ll be the end of the Rebel Alliance and their scum Jedi friends for good. And that’ll make the deaths of all the civilians worthwhile.”

Update times are here again.

Can’t think of anything to say, mind. Newport is much the same as ever, only intolerably hot. Current estimate for today’s hottest temperature seems to be 33 degrees centigrade. This is frankly ridiculous. Aber, of course, gets off with a whole degree less of unbearability, probably because of having the sea.

Paul – I may yet take you up on your offer and slope off to live in the Land Of No Lifts. Anyway, I ought to drop in and see how the girl from, er, Room B (?) is doing. She’s probably wondering why she hasn’t seen me you the guy who said “Hi I’m Paul, pleased to meet you” for over a month by now…

In other news, I’ve been trying to copy crackly old VHS films we’ve got (mainly having taped them off the telly) to a format that exists, like DVD. It’s mostly going OK, although trying to actually watch the VHSes makes my eyes water, but there’s a couple of ’em – not shop-boughts ones, mind, ordinary tape-it-yourself bits – where I try to set the DVD player to soak up the film, and the lazy sod says “Cannot copy this, it’s prohibited.”

Bloody cheek. Anyone know how to stop it doing that? Because either I get me legitimate backups of VHS tapes I already own onto DVD so I can actually watch them more than a year from now, or I haul off to a newsgroup and download pirated copies of the much higher quality DVDs of said films. I’m trying to be fair, I’m trying to make backups of things I’ve recorded off the telly at a lousy quality, but if they’re going to make that difficult then nuts to the lot of ’em; I’ll go get proper DVD-quality pirated stuff.

Due to head down to Oxford for the weekend, hooray! Not that any bugger is giving me a job, yet, mind. Swines. Still, it’ll be good (though it looks to be even worse down there than up here – I can’t stand the heat at all; I’d much rather it was nice and crisp and autumnal, with just a hint of frost. Then we could all pile on extra layers of clothes, bundle up with some soup, and feel nice and warm. Hot is all very well for deserts, and the like, but there’s a limit to how much you can take off to keep cool. And it’s never enough, either.

So, yeah. Stand by for the possibility of me upping sticks and taking sanctuary in Aber at some point in the next week. I fancy seeing a Buffy Night, for a start…

Hey ho. Going to go and take a cooling shower, see if that helps shift the unpleasant heat-induced headache I’ve got…

Have fun!


For those of you who haven’t seen this yet

…Isn’t that nice?

[For the record, can I just say I’ve no problem with the damn thing being named after a politician, and a Welsh politician would make sense, sure, even though it’s only ever going to be called the InterPol building, just like people only ever call Llandinam the Geography Tower…

…But if you were going to pick a Welsh politician, what’s wrong with one people have heard of? Like David “Old Age Pensions” Lloyd George, or Nye “NHS” Bevan?

O, yeah. They weren’t nationalists. Bloody UMCA.]

Hey ho. Currently wearing my rather shiny OSA tie; the pattern’s based on the balustrade on the walkway in the Old College, which is nice. I always did like that pattern…

Frankly quite a feeble meme…

…Since none of it’s very clear. As far as I can work out, blue crosses mean something doesn’t apply to me; red question marks means it does.

Red question marks? What in God’s name is wrong with a nice old-fashioned tick? Honestly. Way to start with one set of imagery and suddenly turn it arse about face, table-loving meme dude…

…O, aye, and Paul, yer meme’s coming. I just haven’t got round to it yet!
(Click here to post your own answers for this meme.)

I miss somebody right now. I don’t watch much TV these days. I own lots of books.
I wear glasses or contact lenses. I love to play video games. × I’ve tried marijuana.
I’ve watched porn movies. × I have been the psycho-ex in a past relationship. I believe honesty is usually the best policy.
I curse sometimes. I have changed a lot mentally over the last year. I carry my knife/razor everywhere with me.

* * * * *

× I have broken someone’s bones. × I have a secret that I am ashamed to reveal. × I hate the rain.
I’m paranoid at times. × I would get plastic surgery if it were 100% safe, free of cost, and scar-free. I need/want money right now.
× I love sushi. × I talk really, really fast. × I have fresh breath in the morning.
× I have long hair. × I have lost money in Las Vegas. I have at least one sibling.
I was born in a country outside of the U.S.  (Thank Christ. If I’d wanted to grow up in a society with values a hundred and fifty years old, I’d’ve been born a hundred and fifty years ago…) × I have worn fake hair/fingernails/eyelashes in the past. × I couldn’t survive without Caller I.D.
I like the way that I look. × I have lied to a good friend in the last 6 months. × I am usually pessimistic.
× I have a lot of mood swings. I think prostitution should be legalized.  (And properly regulated, yes. Then we could raise taxes on it, impose a national standard and generally regulate things to reduce STD transmissions, etc.) × I slept with a roommate.
I have a hidden talent.  (Yeah. It’s called “not telling people what my talent is”) × I’m always hyper no matter how much sugar I have. I have a lot of friends.
I have pecked someone of the same sex.  (Pecked? Yeah, probably. Might’ve bushelled, as well, if only I knew what this one meant…) I enjoy talking on the phone.   (Unless it’s to someone grumpy. Like my bank.) × I practically live in sweatpants or PJ pants.  (Ik. No! I have a house!)
I love to shop and/or window shop. × I’m obsessed with my Xanga or Livejournal. × I’m completely embarrassed to be seen with my mother.
I have a mobile phone. × I have passed out drunk in the past 6 months. I’ve rejected someone before.
I currently like/love someone. I have no idea what I want to do for the rest of my life. × I want to have children in the future.
× I have changed a diaper before. × I’ve called the cops on a friend before. × I’m not allergic to anything.  (Two months ago, I’d’ve ticked this. Bloody recurring hayfever…)
I have a lot to learn. × I am shy around the opposite sex. I’m online 24/7, even as an away message.  (Very nearly. But that’s “online” as in “on the Internet,” not “online” as in “on the internet and logged into an instant messaging client.” Sort the terminology out, wallybrains.)
I have at least 5 away messages saved. I have tried alcohol or drugs before. × I have made a move on a friend’s significant other or crush in the past.
I own the “South Park” movie.  (Do *not* get me started on how much I like BLU. Seriously, I can talk for almost twelve hours on that topic…) × I have avoided assignments at work/school to be on Xanga or Livejournal. × I enjoy some country music.
I would die for my best friends.  (Define ‘die’…? Hm. It would rather depend on the circs, to be fair…) × I’m obsessive, and often a perfectionist. × I have used my sexuality to advance my career.
× I think Halloween is awesome because you get free candy.  (No, you get teabags thrown at your house for hosing the blackmailing trick-or-money people dressed in KKK sheets.) × I have dated a close friend’s ex. I am happy at this moment.
× I’m obsessed with guys. × Democrat(Nope, they’re too right wing.) × Republican(Nope. They don’t even conceed the possibilty of ‘too right wing’)
× I don’t even know what I am. × I am punk rockish. I go for older guys/girls, not younger.  (Uh. Kina. By like, six months.)
× I study for tests most of the time. × I tie my shoelaces differently from anyone I’ve ever met. I can work on a car.  (Car, train, bus, you name it…)
× I love my job(s)(Yeah, if I bloody had one.) I am comfortable with who I am right now. × I have more than just my ears pierced.
× I walk barefoot wherever I can. I have jumped off a bridge. × I love sea turtles.
× I spend ridiculous amounts of money on makeup. × I plan on achieving a major goal/dream. × I am proficient on a musical instrument.
× I hate office jobs. I went to college out of state.  (Hell yeah. I went to Wales. Rock.) × I am adopted.
× I am a pyro. × I have thrown up from crying too much. × I have been intentionally hurt by people that I loved.
× I fall for the worst people. × I adore bright colours. × I usually like covers better than originals.
I hate chain theme restaurants like Applebees and TGIFridays. × I can pick up things with my toes. I can’t whistle.  (Well… Not in tune, anyway.)
I have ridden/owned a horse. I still have every journal I’ve ever written in.  (Otherwise what would be the point?) I talk in my sleep.  (Rarely.)
I’ve often thought that I was born in the wrong century.  (Not quite. But wrong decade, yeah. Bring back the 1930’s!) × I try to forget things by drowning them out with loads of distractions. × I wear a toe ring.
× I have a tattoo. × I can’t stand at LEAST one person that I work with. I am a caffeine junkie.  (I’m not a junkie. I can quit any time I’ve had enough.)
× I am completely tree-huggy spiritual, and I’m not ashamed at all. × If I knew I would get away with it, I would commit at least one murder. × I will collect anything, and the more nonsensical, the better.
I enjoy a nice glass of wine with dinner.  (Bearing in mind the USA-ness of this meme, the European transliteration for “Glass” would be “equal share of a bottle, between two-to-three people,” of course.) I’m an artist.  (Yeah. Science sucks.) × I am ambidextrous.
× I sleep with so many stuffed animals, I can hardly fit on my bed.  (I can hardly fit on my bed, anyway! It’s a two-foot-six folding thing as it is!) × If it weren’t for having to see other people naked, I’d live in a nudist colony(Yeah, ‘cos ticking that wouldn’t make me look a total wazzock. Why *else* would you live in a nudist colony? You can be naked at home, divot.) × I have terrible teeth(Nah, they’re all root-canaled and amalgam-filling reinforced.)
× I hate my toes. I did this meme even though I wasn’t tagged by the person who took it before me.  (Yeah. I was bored.) × I have more friends on the internet than in real life.
× I have lived in either three different states or countries. × I am extremely flexible. × I love hugs more than kisses(Kinda. Maybe. Sortof. Nah, either’s good. Both is better, but either’s good.)
× I want to own my own business. × I smoke. × I spend way too much time on the computer than on anything else.  (No. I spend way *more* time on the computer than on anything else. Not way too much.)
Nobody has ever said I’m normal. Sad movies, games, and the like can cause a trickle of tears every now and then.  (Well, yeah. Otherwise I wouldn’t be likely to think they were very sad, would I?) × I am proficient in the use of many types of firearms and combat weapons.
I like the way women look in stylized men’s suits.  (Although it depends on the suit, and the material, and such…) I don’t like it when people are unpleased or seem unpleased with me.  (Unless they’re dicks. Then I don’t care.) I have been described as a dreamer or likely to have my head up in the clouds.
I have played strip poker with someone else before. I have had emotional problems for which I have sought professional help.  (I didn’t seek, I got given. Not that it helped, much. Any of youse buggers know what “The precious, meanwhile…” is supposed to mean? Thought not.) × I believe in ghosts and the paranormal.
× I can’t stand being alone. × I have at least one obsession at any given time. × I weigh myself, pee/poo, and then weigh myself again.
× I consistently spend way too much money on obsessions-of-the-moment. × I’m a judgmental asshole. × I’m a HUGE drama-queen.
× I have travelled on more than one continent. × I sometimes wish my father would just disappear. × I need people to tell me I’m good at something in order to feel that I am.
I am a Libertarian.  (Having just looked it up, yes, I am, to a greater or lesser extent.) × I can speak more than one language. I can fall asleep even if the whole room is as noisy as it can be.  (Or if, for example, it’s a biology lesson, and I’m sitting on a wobbly lab stool.)
I would rather read than watch TV. × I like reading fact more than fiction. I have pulled an all-nighter on an assignment I was given a month to do.  (Usually a day or so after the deadline.)
× I have no piercings. I have spent the night in a train station or other public place. × I have been so upset over my physical gender that I cried.
× I once spent Christmas completely alone because there was a miscommunication on which parent was supposed to have me that night. × There have been times when I have wondered “Why was I born?” and may/may not have cried over it. × I like most animals better than most people.
× I own a collection of retro games consoles(O I wish!) × The thought of physical exercise makes me shiver. × I have hit someone with a dead fish.
× I am compulsively honest. × I was born with a congenital birth defect that has never been repaired. × I have danced topless in front of dozens of complete strangers.
× I have gone from wishing I was a girl to revelling in being a boy to feeling like a girl again in the span of five minutes, and not cared a whit for my actual sex. × I am unashamedly bisexual, and have different motivations for my desires for different genders.  (Inexplicably no. That’s having a narrow-minded genetic code, for you.) I sometimes won’t sleep a whole night or eat a whole day because I forget to.
× I find it impossible to get to sleep without some kind of music on. × I dislike milk. × I obsessively wash my hands.
I always carry something significant around with me.  (Or up to seven things, depending what you mean by “significant”) × Sometimes I’d rather wear a wig in day-to-day life than use my own hair. × I’ve pushed myself to become more self-aware and thereby more aware of others.
× Even though I live on my own I still cry sometimes because I miss my mother. × I hand wrote all the HTML tags in this document. × I’ve liked something which a majority of people claimed was either bad or weird.
× I have been clinically dead for a brief period of time. × Instead of feeling sympathy/empathy with people and their problems, I simply become annoyed. × I participate/have participated in auto drag races and won.
× I do not ‘get’ most comedy acts. I don’t think strippers are money-greedy or slutty for dancing.  (Why would I?) × I don’t like to chew gum.
× I am obsessed with history/historical things and can’t wait for someone to build a time machine so I can be the first to use it. × I can never remember for the life of me where I parked the car. I had the TEEN ANGST thing going for at least 2-3 years.  (Yeah, and then some….)
I wish people would be more empathic and honest with each other. × I play Dungeons and Dragons weekly. × I love to sing.
× I want to live in my mother’s basement when I grow up. I have a custom-built computer.  (Er. Doy.) × I want to create a certain someone’s babies, even though there’s a 0% possiblity of ever achieving it.
× I would be in a relationship with one of my pets if they were human. × I’ve gone skinny-dipping. I’ve performed in three plays.  (Seven. Not enough, actually…)
× I enjoy burritos. × I’m Irish and loving it. I have a thing for redheads.  (Hell, yeah. As long as it’s “red” not “ginger” or “Strawberry blonde”)
× I am a twin! × Most of the times, I’d rather do something intellectual instead of doing something generically ‘fun’. × Once I set out to finish something, I always stay at it until it is completed before I move on to something else.
I wish there were a way to erase past mistakes.  (Aye. But it’s a lot quicker to erase future mistakes by learning from the past ones…) I sleep more than 12 hours a day. × I wish I could be prouder of what I’ve accomplished, but it’s never enough.
× I need more time to myself. × I wish I was more open-minded. I hope that I go really prematurely grey.  (Since the other option based on my family genes seems to be pattern baldness, yep.)
I download songs from the internet. × I’ve just reenacted chapter 58 of Death Note with my best friend.  (Never heard of it.) × I say random things to freak people out.
× I’m still a little mad about the ending of Death Note. × I love playing Truth or Dare(What, do I look like I’m twelve?) × I love listening to slow music, but I hate singing to it.
× Music helps me remember that I am not alone. × Playing my favorite sport makes me temporarily forget my problems. I think this survey is particularly long.  (And poorly formatted.)
× I prefer my LJ friends to my real-life ones. × I can only hate someone that I love. × I’ve ordered an extra two shots of espresso to an Americano at Starbucks(Wouldn’t be seen dead in the place.)

Cool! I just extended my name by a whole two letters!

So… Yeah. Graduated yesterday. That was a new one.

Since I was not only turning up to graduate but also leaving on the same day, Aber was predictably fantastic (O, aye, it rains there sometimes, but it doesn’t dare if it knows you’re leaving anytime soon…).

It dun’t half feel weird, though, mainly, I think, because I’m now in a situation where I’ve left on paper, but don’t really agree with what the paper says. But, then, I wasn’t really at Aber for the getting of a degree anyway; I was too busy having learning experiences, and the like. Getting a degree, therefore, isn’t something I’m finding to be the cut-off other people seem to take it as.

That said, I ought to be grateful to have made it as far as graduating at all – back in 2003, AGS sent eight people up to Aber, three of ’em to do English. Somewhere along the way, Messers. Ben ‘Convince JTA to skip every A-level Biology Lesson bar Two’ Michael and Thos. ‘Aberystwyth has Lecture Theatres? What on Earth For?’ McCaughey seem to have caught stray bullets. I didn’t actually notice at the time, on account of being too busy ducking myself, but three of us went into that Department, and I appear to be the only one who’s made it out. Hm.

You’ll forgive me for the faintly militaristic imagery there, at least if you know me… Pacifist, yes, adverse to looking at situations as if they were dramatic all-against-the-odds action films, no.

I didn’t have any money to buy my gown and hood &c. This is a bit of a bugger, because I was rather enjoying swanning about in them – for some reason, I kept thinking of our ex-deputy head Mr. Iddon, which is a bit weird, because AGS had at least ten teachers who used to swan about in proper academic clothing – and I imagine I’ll end up buying a set once I’ve managed to finalise the Get A Job plan (still working on it…)

Uh. Went and got some big proper photos taken, which I’ve no done for a while, and Boy, has digital photography improved those things… Also took a bunch of shots on the little domestic camera, which my mother made the mistake of taking out in the vicinity of Dan, with predictable results. Hey ho.

Was quite astonished by the number of people I ran into; people I’ve not seen for years suddenly started popping up all over the place. Also there was much champagne. Have got myself an e-mail address-for-life thingy, which you can get from me if you want it by either: e-mailing an address you already know I have [choice of Gmail or current UWA account] sending me a text [as long as your version of my phone number is from November 2003 or later] or by leaving a comment with you details [I ain’t getting spammed, cheers.]

Ah… Listening to Pandora again… I guess it must be near on a year since that came out, actually; vague recollections of it as an element of the immortal summer of 2005…

…Anyway, that’s doubtless rather more than you had any desire to know about me and graduating, but the photo Dan’s put up doesn’t quite say it all, so I thought I’d put in a few words as well, not least because the “picture = 1,000 words” argument has never held much in the way of water for me. Who ever raised an army using a hasty rally and a bloody painting to get people’s blood up?


Rebound of the Most effort-involving Meme ever…


  1. Random Thing:Despite the fact that, aside from Ruth, you were the only person in PJM 80 I was already remotely aware of at the start of the second year, I actually saw twice as much of the other guys in there as I did of you. What, did you have a ropeladder out of your window to sneak off and fight crime?
  2. Your Challenge… Come to a Geek Night, play us all at Risk, and try not to go out before at least four other people. I think the best you’ve managed so far is second out, but then Dan does keep fudding you over… Still, give it a shot!
  3. Your colour is purple. So now you know.
  4. Something I like about you is how calmly you sit there and take us all taking the mick out of your degree. To manage to put up with that for a constant two years is pretty impressive. Well done!
  5. My first memory of you is the first time you came to a Troma Night. Inexplicably, you rang the bell (which worked back then) and, since I was nearest the door, I got sent down to see who it was. Lo, if I didn’t open the door to this really nervous guy I’d never seen before, and who hadn’t a clue who I was, standing on one leg and saying “Er. Sorry. Er. Is this where Troma Night happens…?”
    It was very sweet.
  6. You remind me of the animal that we humans call a dolphin. I honestly don’t know why; I just thought of you in your zombie cheerleader costume and thought “that’s a dolphin, that is.” Weird…
  7. I’ve always wanted to ask you how you manged to stay so calm when I accidentally smashed your nose a couple of years back. That was impressive, that was…


  1. Randomness: You’re the only person I know who has two keyboards in his tower because ‘this one isn’t compatible with the BIOS.’ You’re likewise the only person I know to have actually played a game so much you broke the mouse.
  2. Your challenge is to finish all the projects you’re working on! Including the Troma Night Adventure games. Happily I’ve brought a folding chair and a flask of tea, so I can wait a while yet…
  3. You remind me of yellow. It’s probably the T-shirts.
  4. What I like about you is the way you seem to be actually incapable of disliking people. I’ve never yet seen you take against someone without qualifying it and explaining how you could be completely in the wrong. It’s a fantastic quality, but it’s also really weird. And you never play a game without helping your opponents, either. You actually do care about everyone, all the time, and it’s frankly amazing. Don’t stop.
  5. My first memory of you …is actually a memory of Duality. Or, at least, a really beefy looking tower and someone vaguely sat next to it on a funny stool. My clearest memory of you, on the other hand, is of the time the two of us, and Ruth & Claire, settled down to watch Revenge of the Sith, which you’d got hold of. Just before the big opening titles you said “O, God! I forgot to check what language it’s in! Nah, it’ll be OK. It’s bound to be in English.”
    …and then the yellow words rolled up the screen. In Cyrillic.
  6. The animal you remind me of is a coconut. OK, that’s not really an animal. But all I can think of right now is a coconut.
  7. I’ve always meant to ask you if you’re going to sort out a Diplomacy engine so we can set up a game. I’m still OK to GM it, but I cannae do the code!

Well, that’s everyone. Gee, see how many friends I have who want to see what I think of ’em… Tcha. Jessies.

Have fun!

Most effort-involving Meme ever…

…But, hey, it’s cool. And it gets people to network a bit, which is frankly rather more useful than being able to tell ’em you’ve swung the answers so you come out as Nob from the Prancing Pony in the ‘Which minor LoTR character are you’ quiz (As opposed to the first result you got, the uncool and surly Ted Sandyman)…

Frankly, the vast bulk of you blog reading types will’ve seen this on Abnib already, but I’m sure there’s a few people out there who I’ve met, and who read this, and then keep very quiet about it, stocking up information to weild later. Go on, you quiet types, drop me a comment, and I’ll add you to the To Do list…

Anyway, what happens is this:

What you do:

  1. Leave a comment. (Might take a while for me to validate it, if you haven’t commeneted in a non-spammy way before)
  2. Put this on your own blog, later. Or don’t.

What I do:

  1. 1. I’ll respond with something random about you (with most of you lot out there, it shouldn’t be hard).
  2. 2. I’ll challenge you to try something (it might even be something pleasant).
  3. 3. I’ll pick a colour that I associate with you (I’d rather not, but it’s a legal requirement under the Internet Memes Convention of 1996).
  4. 4. I’ll tell you something I like about you (aww).
  5. 5. I’ll tell you my first or clearest memory of you.
  6. 6. I’ll tell you what animal you remind me of (In accordance with the Third Internet Memes Convention [1998, S. 2, p. 145]).
  7. 7. I’ll ask you something I’ve always wanted to ask you (if there is anything!).

(and apologies to Dan for lifting the entire list essentially verbatim off his blog)

Go on, then, give it a go. Justify my feeble ‘memes’ post category!

Have fun!

Well, I’m back…

…In Newport, that is; not in Aber, or anywhere else especially interesting. Although, that said, Newport is a phenomenal step up in its offers of interest when compared to Colburn, N. Yorks, a place that’s actually more boring than Borth. (At least in Borth there’s the Victoria, and you can look at the sea…)

But, yeah. Big ol’ Round Britain tour now over, and I’m really, really tired. For this I can mostly blame the weekend which, like Ruth, I spent rigging lights. Or, rather, Ruth, who has lots more experience of lighting, spent rigging lights, and which I spent cutting gels. No. 54s? Don’t talk to me about No. 54s… I’m also sick to the back teeth of 124s, and the sooner they get shut of the rainforests that require so many green par cans to emulate, the bleedin’ better…

…Nah. Actually it was much fun, although very hard work, and although it was blisteringly hot it’s the first day in quite a long while that I’ve done that work-really-hard-and-enjoy-it type of work that leaves you feeling strangely good about the world.

And at any rate, it’s better than mowing the lawns.

I am, however, faintly cheesed off to have walked past the place where I had a job interview, only to find a hastily-written minature white-board propped up in the window, and explaining that the office inside can help you if you’re trying to buy or sell a home, and would you please come in and shove some money their way, please?

It’s an estate agents.

I do not believe, youngish and formerly naive though I may be, that the mark of a successful estate agency is a whiteboard amongst the adverts for houses in the window explaining to people looking for houses that, uh, you buy and sell houses. Such as the ones they’re looking at.

It doesn’t necessarily mean the whole enterprise is in trouble, of course, and I don’t know the whole story, but I’m still a bit fed up, since I can’t help but feel it’s a bit ominous…

Hey ho.

Anyway, I’m back in Newport now, having made it though the barren and featureless wilderness that is Working Trains From Didcot To Oxford, and we’ve got a fairly brainless we-used-to-rent-this-house-to-students-leftover electricity meter here, so I’d better leg it before the damn thing starts sulking at me.

Have fun!