The Perils of Happiness

Here’s what I did today.

I woke up, convinced it was Saturday, and got up about fifteen minutes later, at 9:15ish. It was at this point that I started thinking. Had I simply carried on with my usual morning routine of acting grumpy until I’ve had breakfast and then being cross with myself for getting up so late, I’d have saved myself a lot of money. But with the two-pronged attack of my life coaching making me happier, and another technique making me more organised (I’ll blog about that soon), I have much more time to think and I’m learning not to use it to find more things to worry about. So what was I contemplating?

Well, Megan‘s getting increasingly manic during the day. It used to be that a run around the garden would tire her out, but no longer. As I posted earlier, she fell into the pond and lay against wet paint just this morning. She’s just becoming a little difficult to deal with. Also I need more exercise than I’m getting, and given that summer’s just around the corner anyway it’d be pleasant to get into the open air. So a solution presented itself to me: I shall take Megan for a daily walk down to the park.

I know myself, and know that such projects often dwindle and die within a few weeks. So, I thought, how can I ensure that I get into a regular routine? What is it that would stop me taking Megan for a walk? Aside from awful weather (which Megan would likely balk at anyway), I decided that I’d probably get bored. There are only so many routes around here, after all. What could I do to stop this happening? Well, when I used to drive to York every fortnight I got into the habit of listening to audiobooks, which I really enjoyed. I listened to a good few Michael Connelly novels in this way and it was great. So audiobooks seemed like a good solution. They’re pricey, however. Then I thought: “ooh, lots of radio shows are in downloadable formats now, aren’t they. What’s that called again?”

Can you see where this is leading?

Podcasting. It’s a great thing. All over the internet (and, increasingly, the media) people are putting their own audio shows up for download. There are a wide variety of topics and subject areas to choose from. From science to education to literature to pop culture to the audio equivalent of blogs, there’s enough out there to keep me busy for a long time. Great! That sounds like exactly what I need.

There’s a problem, though. Sure, it’ll be interesting making the audio CD the first couple of times, but that’ll get old real quick. I could maybe use a CD-RW to save on media, if I could find a decent enough portable CD player. And they do stutter. And they’re bulky.

No. No, what I need is an MP3 player.

Easy enough, I thought. I shall have a look around and find something small and with a fair bit of space. Once the eBay iPod challenge comes to fruition, I’ll use that. So I had a look at MP3 players and it quickly became apparent that to have enough space would cost a fair bit. To have a decent number of songs and podcasts available on hardware that isn’t going to fall over in six months isn’t all that easy. So I found myself hanging around the Apple website, looking at the iPod feature list.

And what a feature list it is. It’s just so damned easy. You plug in the iPod and it synchronizes all of your music. If your music is all rated and categorised in iTunes already, as mine is, then it’s a piece of rather lovingly decorated cake. I’ve played around with iPodder before, and it can check for new Podcasts automatically, download them and then interface with iTunes to add a playlist. So, podcast-wise, all I’d need to do is find shows I like and iPodder + iTunes + iPod synchronization would do everything else for me. What else can the iPod do, I asked? Well. It has a built-in calendar and contacts, but big deal, I always have my phone with me (although that’s a damn site harder to synchronize than the iPod). It also has a few games, but again, I’m not all that bothered. But what’s this? You can use the iPod as a portable hard drive? Swanky. And I can record voice notes, admittedly with an adapter? Hmmm, that could come in handy. It can charge itself from the USB 2.0 port, you say? Well, that really would be convenient.

So the iPod seemed to have a lot going for it. I started to consider getting an iPod mini. But a quick check on Amazon showed that the iPod 20gb was only

An Exercise in Reason

Cause: Andrew’s not-yet-patented Eurovision Song Contest Decision Making Tally Counting Act Judging Generator Machine triumphs in spectacular style.

Effect: Much consternation and deriviative comments from the, what’s the word – ah yes: losers.

You see, that’s two years in a row that I’ve correctly predicted the result of the contest using the aforementioned Document of Destiny, and much bitterness did this cause. Not adoration, or wonder, or tongue-based cleaning of boots, but insult. I was accused of being biased towards chesticular vibration and general prettiness over other virtues of performance. Let us examine those claims in more detail. Greece, the winners, received the following scores:

Dance Routine – Energy: 8
Dance Routine – Inneundo: 8
Overall Campage: 8
Catchiness: 9
Singing Ability: 8
General Clothing Style: 7
Cringeworthiness: 7

These results bettered every other act. In debating circles, this method of winning an argument is known as the In Your Face technique.

It will likely be pointed out that other people using the sheet did not award Greece the highest score. I suggest that a bad tool always blames its workman. There was also a minor revolt in which certain people subverted the Sheet of Seer into their own crude marking system, which consisted of the following standards, in ascending order: Shit, Shite, Ok, Banging. This method, unsurprisingly, was as effective as twiglets in a crisis.

So, to conclude: I win.

2005 Eurovision Song Contest Decision Making Tally Counting Act Judging Generator Machine

IT’S HERE! I present to you the Eurovision Song Contest Decision Making Tally Counting Act Judging Generator Machine! This astonishing chart will enable you to judge this evening’s Eurovision acts with previously unheard of clarity! Carefully chosen criteria will allow you to decide on your ideal winner, ensuring less stress, a fuller life, general happiness, sexual fulfillment and your choice of Caribbean islands! And you know what? It’s free. Yes, I have chosen to supply this incredible piece of spreadsheet perfection for no material gain.

A crack-squad of impervious monkeys have analysed every act in Eurovision history, and before hurling themselves into the nearest blast furnace produced the following categories:

  • Originality (based on what you’ve seen before, not including this year)
  • Amusingnessness
  • Dance Routine – Energy
  • Dance Routine – Innuendo
  • Overall Campage
  • Catchiness
  • Level of Irritation
  • Size of Chesticles / Package of main singers
  • Visibility of Chesticles / Package of main singers
  • General Exposed Flesh
  • General Clothing Style
  • Croonage
  • Cheesy Smiles
  • Lyrics
  • Cringeworthiness
  • Singing Ability of main singers

This nigh-on miraculous generator also takes account of the proclivities of the public. If you are a massive fan of croonage, for example, you may award 10 points for a Michael Bolton wannabee. If you are not, however, you may award only one point and what is more remember which standard you have used for all 24 acts of the evening. Stunning. Or. What.

Excel Version
OpenOffice.Org Version


The Flaming Lips

I just fired up iTunes looking for ‘Refugees’ by The Tears, and came across ‘Do you Realize’ by The Flaming Lips. Wow. It was a pleasant enough song on the radio, but over stereo speakers it’s really something! I’ve just bought their entire album 🙂

Rustling – A News Roundup

Imagine you’re happily walking down a Taiwanese street. You look to your right and see a sperm whale being transported on the back of a large lorry. Then: KABOOM! If only Douglas Adams were still alive.

Second on my list of things to do once I’m in power (after banning Johnny Vegas) is to pass this into law.

There seem to have been a rush of heroic animal stories recently. Like these. We’re gonna need smaller capes.

Hands up who remembers me raving about a little single by the unknown Katie Melua a few months back? Nobody? Didn’t think so. Check out the top item on this list, then feel free to email me money, adoring sonnets, underwear etc. Seriously, I received this album for Christmas and I’ve had to work hard not to listen to it too much. You know that feeling when you know the songs so well they don’t seem so special any more? I hate that. She’s got a stunning voice – hopefully she’ll take off in a Norah Jones like manner.

Apparently 49% of people think the Hutton Report was a ‘whitewash’. In similar news, the Chinese Emperor’s nose is reported to be 2.6cm long.