Hello, world. I’m MacDara Conroy, and this is my blog.


Weeknotes #480

I’ve been ploughing through The Creation Records Story over the past few days. By now I’m at the stage where my interest is trailing off – I can’t stand Oasis – but that’s only the last couple of hundred pages; the rest is essentially a survey of the British indie music scene of the 1980s, and Creation was right in the thick of it.

The label’s earlier days are the most interesting to me: 73 in 83, The Jesus and Mary Chain, the House of Love saga, and the infamous My Bloody Valentine – as much remembered for almost bankrupting their label as they are for breaking musical barriers.

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Notes from New York

New York Skyline, by MacDara on Flickr.

My intention was to keep a mini-journal of our six-day trip in New York last summer. I even bought one of those Moleskine city guides as the perfect notebook for my observations. Sadly the day-to-day busyness and exhaustion put paid to my plans. But I’ve still got that notebook for a return visit, and I’ve had the benefit of a few months to distill the experience into thoughts which are better off here than stuck in my head, unarticulated.

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Weeknotes #478-479

Everything gets back to normal a little too quickly post-Xmas, don’t you think?

Little to report from Week 478. No big New Year’s Eve partying for us, just lunch at Nando’s and adding to our puppet collection. Seriously – The Puppet Company and Melissa & Doug come highly recommended.

Oh yeah, and we bought a telescope. Though we haven’t had much chance to use it yet, what with the cloud and the haze and all. When the worst of winter passes we should have more to see.

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Weeknotes #477

The pre-Christmas rush to the shops was all the more intense this year due to an extra blanketing of snow, and the infrastructural craziness that came with it.

Lucky for us we’d done the majority of our shopping in the weeks before, and only had to pop out for a mere handful of things before holing up for the weekend. If we’d had any more to do there might well be blood on the streets.

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Weeknotes #475-476

Monday — Train is quick into town this morning. Getting home takes longer, however; these icy pavements are frustrating me no end.

Tuesday — I finally get around to watching Aguirre, Wrath of God only to find the DVR missed the last two minutes. Gah! Everything was building up to that moment! Also, putting on Tenacious D in The Pick of Destiny right after wasn’t the best of moves.

Wednesday — Adventure afternoon: I take Grimmson out questing in WoW. It’s the first full day of Cataclysm proper, but no sign of any new races. Never mind; Grimmson’s levelling pretty fast at the moment which makes me happy. Was a good idea to upgrade to Burning Crusade, methinks.

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Weeknotes #474

Monday — Another day working from home, as I twist my ankle heading out the door. On the plus side, home is much warmer than the office. But my ankle’s sore, the backs of my legs hurt, that weird malaise from Sunday evening returns – and news of the deaths of both Leslie Nielsen and Irvin Kershner doesn’t help at all.

Tuesday — Production day frustrations aside, little else to report. My ankle doesn’t fare too badly on a trudge through the snow to the supermarket, and I spend the rest of the evening with Bee on an epic session of Arkham Horror.

Later, when I go to bed, I chance a look out the bedroom window to see if it’s snowed again. As I pull up the blind I surprise a fox just feet away, right in front of me. Haven’t seen one that close in a long time! I hope he found some food, he had a cold night ahead of him.

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Weeknotes #473

Monday — Dublin Bus is really pissing me off. Missing buses on the 37 in the morning and afternoon, and bad traffic on the 39 in Blanchardstown means it takes me nearly two hours to get home. I thought this was the future and we should all be telecommuting by now. Sigh.

Tuesday — Day of administrivia: I need to change my address on the electoral register, lest I miss my chance to get that shower of gobshites out of power.

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Weeknotes #472

Monday/Tuesday/Wednesday — First two days of this week are a write-off. Wednesday I’m up earlyish, cold still getting me down. I briefly flirt with the idea of going out to the shops. But then I remember the Tesco delivery guy is coming, which puts those silly thoughts aside.

The day ahead is reserved for Getting Better: WoW in the afternoon, followed by an Apprentice double bill in the evening, and Skyline chili for dinner. That’s what I call good medicine.

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Weeknotes #471

Monday — Work at the office is blah, and cold. I skip out early to beat the rush and finish things up at home. I’m finding that work is eating into my thinking time. Can’t let that happen; don’t want to get stuck in that rut again.

Tuesday — Time to return to the world (of Warcraft) and patch my game install ahead of the Cataclysm. But what should be a straight-forward process, maybe an hour or so for a 5GB file, ends up lasting the whole day and night. In fact my download doesn’t complete until 1am, with the installation taking another 90 minutes. I’m convinced the culprit is our ISP throttling the torrent, though of course I have no evidence of this, other than my righteous indignation.

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Weeknotes #470

Monday/Tuesday — I wake up feeling rotten on Monday. Time to take a sick day. (The fact that it’s officially the first day of winter is just a coincidence.) I worry for a while about catching up at the end of the week, but you know what? I’m ill and I’m entitled to look after myself once in a while.

So I spend the day watching crappy movies, getting annoyed that the Kindle cover I bought off eBay is in fact the size of a bleeding iPad, and later providing a running commentary on the Irish Apprentice with Bee (if there’s one thing that show has taught me, it’s to never take a job working for Bill Cullen).

I don’t sleep well Monday night: bad indigestion and weird abdominal pains when I try to lie on my side. Another day of bad movies and timeshifted TV is required.

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Weeknotes #469

Monday/Tuesday — Monday is a bank holiday, but not for me. At least I get to work from home and wind up at a reasonable hour. Early start again on Tuesday for the deadline, but there are few headaches and everything gets sent to the printer on time.

Wednesday — Administrivia takes up much of the day. That and playing F1 2010, which frustrates me greatly: even on easy mode its unforgiving about the smallest things. Maybe what I’m looking for is arcade mode, which this game doesn’t have. Guess I’m resigned to doing lots of practice laps in time trial.

Later I get caught in the rain walking home from the shops and am drenched to the bone. Fat lot of good you did, umbrella.

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Weeknotes #468

Monday — A very slow day at the office. Thank goodness I have to leave early to meet the electrician, who’s coming over to look at the dodgy stovetop. Regarding said stovetop, it will indeed need to be replaced. I wish these things had been checked before we moved in…

Tuesday — Lazy day today. Was meant to be somewhere else early in the morning but plans changed at the last minute, so I had a much-needed lie-on instead.

It’s also a day to catch up on unwatched TV, and get back on the stationary bike. Every now and then I hop online to track my Kindle through the UPS network, from Nevada to Cologne. I go to bed assuming it’s on its way to Dublin.

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Weeknotes #467

Monday/Tuesday — Nothing much happening. We take the train out to Raheny on Tuesday evening – timing things slightly better on the return journey this time, so it takes little more than half an hour to get home. I’m getting the hang of this.

Wednesday — Still waiting for word on the taps. There are boxes in the living room begging to be unpacked, but the day gets away from us. Could be partly due to my playing F1 2010 on the Xbox for much of the afternoon. Guilty!

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Weeknotes #466

Monday — An unremarkable day, other than my dismay at the golf overrunning so I miss University Challenge. Nobody makes me miss University Challenge and gets away with it! Okay, they do get away with it, but I’m certainly not happy about it. So there.

Tuesday — A night out at The Foggy Dew with David R and the gang. Dave has a great story about meeting the guy who writes Scott Pilgrim. I have a boring story about the taps in our kitchen not working. Was I the only one not drinking? Just wasn’t in the mood for it.

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Weeknotes #465

Monday — This cold is hitting me hard, feels like the walking ‘flu. Work is a drudge. A chicken and chickpea curry for dinner helps me breathe a bit easier, but it never lasts long enough.

Tuesday — A half-six start at the makeshift home office is probably not a good recipe for recovery, is it? After that stress, I don’t know what to do with myself for the rest of the day. But I feel so crap that it’s probably for the best.

Wednesday — Not the greatest of days, but I do discover that it’s only a 20-minute walk from the new place to the Blanchardstown Centre. Well, the Westend Retail Park, but close!

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Weeknotes #464

Monday — A morning of admin, followed by an afternoon of work. Also looked up where the 39 bus stops, so we can have an alternate route home to the new place (integrating Google Maps is the best thing Dublin Bus has done in quite some time).

Reading Scott Pilgrim Vol 2 on my lunch break, I see the spot in Lee’s Palace where I was nearly bottled in the head by the drummer from …And You Will Know Us by the Trail of Dead (p183; the stool on the far right).

Tuesday/Wednesday — Aside from getting another lift to relocate various appliances to the new place (many thanks again, Declan) I have little recollection of what I did over these two days. This worries me.

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Weeknotes #463

Monday/Tuesday — Work work work, busy busy busy. Just enough energy left to get to the shops. Not sleeping well.

Wednesday — Still in zombieland, but I revive somewhat in the afternoon for an IKEA run. In the evening Declan drops by to help move a few things to the new place (thank you!). Surprisingly I’m able to find it in the dark without getting lost.

Thursday — Screwed over by IKEA’s delivery service. They never told us when we booked the day before that if we missed their random and arbitrary delivery slot at any moment within that timeframe, for any reason, we still had to pay in full (in other words, the ‘delivery’ charge isn’t actually a delivery charge).

I’m furious! And I get even more so when the customer services drone calls back and rather than really try to help us as customers, decides to hide behind the terms of service – which were never fully dictated to us in the first place. Customer disservice, more like.

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Weeknotes #462

Monday — Wet walk to work this morning. Parnell Street stinks of wet dog. Then the sky gets darker and the rain gets harder and my enthusiasm goes out the window. Blah. At least I survive the walk home without slipping.

The evening is better. New MythBusters on TV tonight; good to see them back to busting myths and not idioms (that ‘lead balloon’ episode was just stupid).

Tuesday — A day of meetings (and a little bit of sunshine!) with lots to think about, followed by a trek with Bee to IKEA for cardboard boxes. Thankfully we dodge the rain on the way home, and avoid our boxes turning to €15 worth of brown mush. Tomorrow the packing begins in earnest.

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Weeknotes #461

Monday/Tuesday — End of production cycle means little else (aside from meals and a few hours’ sleep) but work from Monday morning till Tuesday afternoon. I’m used to it, but also tired of it.
After all the files are gone to the printer, more Project Hannibal. We see a place in nearby Smithfield which is great for location and okay for space, but is a bit grotty inside (worn carpet, scrapes on kitchen counter, no power shower).

Later on we see a much nicer place out in D15; it’s modern, clean, lots of space, the kitchen is perfect. But there’s a catch: there’s no good cable TV or broadband available. That’s a deal-breaker for us, unfortunately.

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Weeknotes #460

Monday — Bored in the office with little to do bar some more production prep, and steeling myself for the inevitable deluge at the end of the week.

On my lunch break I upload some photos to Flickr that I’ve been meaning to get online for a while. The process is less painful than I remember (broadband speed really makes a difference). I do have to troubleshoot a problem with portrait shots displaying as landscape, but it’s an easy settings fix after a trawl through the help forum.

University Challenge in the evening: good exercise for the mind. The album covers round is too easy, but it freaks out Bee that I know them all instantly. Well I did work in a music shop for quite a while.

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Weeknotes #459

Monday/Tuesday/Wednesday — Beginning of this week is a bit of a blur. I spend some time on Project Hannibal, but mostly watch movies from the backlog on the DVR (nothing I’d go out of my way to see, though the first Harold & Kumar was stupid fun) and try to recharge my batteries.

Also: still writing up my NYC notes. Need to upload my (mostly rubbish) photos to Flickr, too. I didn’t shoot as much or as often as I expected; guess I’m just not confident/comfortable/shameless enough with the camera. But I’m also thinking: it’s great to have photos as a memory aid, but do they need to be my own photos? Surely I can get the same feelings/memories from looking at others’ snaps of the same places. Yet there’s still a part of me that says that’s cheating.

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Weeknotes #458

Monday — Long day at work; got more done than I expected, but still not enough. Home around half six. Left a message for the landlord, then spoke to him later re: us moving on. He sounded disappointed, but I hope he knows we’re not simply bailing on him (besides, we need a few weeks to find the right place before the packing/cleaning/etc).

Loud music/drunk singing downstairs starts as soon as I finish the call; makes me wish we could move tomorrow, just beam all our stuff into a new place. Curse you Heisenberg and your uncertainty principle!

Up to p164 in the Eno book, plus however-many pages of the appendices. It’s a two-bookmark job, this one.

Idea for a new TV show – Sportacus: Blood and Sand. (Somebody Photoshop a poster for this, please.)

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Weeknotes #457

Taking my lead from the weeknotes meme that’s spread across a number of blogs/feeds I follow, but mostly inspired by my reading of Brian Eno’s A Year with Swollen Appendices, I’m making a go of keeping note of my thoughts and activities from week to week – much like I used to when blogging back in the day. It’s 457 weeks since my first blog post, so that’s where I start counting.

Long term, it might help me get closer to my vision of this site as a hub for my aggregated self (that was before I lost my enthusiasm for a while). But I’m not really thinking about that; it only invites creative paralysis! In the short term, it’s just something to keep myself engaged with things. However mundane my week has been.

But hey, enough of my yakking. Whaddaya say? Let’s boogie.

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Taking things slowly

Emmet Connolly over at Thoughtwax writes about the virtues of taking things slowly:

Without the restrictions of regular media, we pajama-wearers can do whatever we want. For the most part, something is written when it’s ready to be written, and then it’s only as long as it needs to. Some people, like me, have very few things to say, so we say them infrequently.

Indeed, there’s much to be said for “the idea of posting infrequently as a deliberate editorial approach”.

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Things That Must Be Done

A list, in no particular order, of Things That Must Be Done:

Fix categories: I’ve got far too many categories in both of my blogs, and now that I have tag functionality (see below) most of them are completely unnecessary. Five or six catch-all categories is all I really need, so these will be condensed forthwith.

Set up tags: Now that I’ve upgraded to MT 4, I can haz tags! I’ve already used a handy script to convert my jury-rigged entry keyword tags into tags proper; now I need to code up templates for the tag archives so I can actually use them.

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Famous last words

No sooner had I posted my last entry than my host’s server decided to throw a wobbly, rendering my Movable Type installation unusable.

A fresh start with a clean install of MT 4 failed to solve the problem (which I still have no explanation for) so my blog was effectively stranded. However my host’s move to brand new servers a couple of weeks ago finally did the trick.

There’s still a bit of housekeeping left to do, as Movable Type has changed significantly since the last time I upgraded. I’ll get around to that sometime soon. No promises, mind.


Blogger’s block?

AKA Trying to come up with witty titles is what got me into this mess

Last night I found myself at the Wayback Machine looking up something or other, and got suddenly curious to see how much of my own site had been archived. Quite a bit of it, it seems.

I clicked on the page with the earliest date, and immediately jumped back almost six years to meet my 22-year-old self. There I was, graduating from college, already wistful about my undergraduate days, and unsure about how to get where I wanted to go. But boy, did I ever have a lot to say.

I must have been blogging daily back then, maybe more. I was so un-self-conscious about it, too. I just blogged what I was thinking, I didn’t give much consideration to what went before or what was to come after, and it was all the better for it. So the question immediately came to mind: Why don’t I write like that anymore?

I could give a whole list of excuses to answer that question, but the truth is that I really don’t know. Somewhere along the way I must have got the notion that I couldn’t just blog about random stuff, that everything had to have a point. But that put the pressure on, and pressure does not equal fun. And when something’s no longer fun, why do it?

So the gaps between entries grew wider and wider, while the self-imposed pressure to turn out finely-crafted pieces led to inevitable procrastination. Soon enough, the windows of opportunity flew past. And there’s no point in writing about something that happened months ago, even when I did occasionally have the motivation to try, so why bother? I was full of good intentions, but they’re worthless without acting on them; I’ve got a text file full of abandoned drafts and half-formed thoughts to prove it.

I said two years ago that blogging is ‘just what I do’. But I haven’t been doing it. Quite the opposite: I’ve had blogger’s block.

However, looking back at my younger blogging self has made me realise what I’ve been wasting. No, I tell a lie: I’ve known what I’ve been wasting for a long time now. I’ve just been too embarrassed to admit it.

So I guess what I’m trying to say is, to hell with all the pretensions that hindered me from doing what I used to do so easily. This place was at its best when I wasn’t trying to be perfect. I’m glad I’ve admitted that now.

Updated 5 Dec 2009: In hindsight, I feel a bit silly about what I wrote here before. Not so much the part about not striving for perfection, but the idea that going back to the ‘old days’ of near daily blogging was the answer.

After all, that was then and this is now. Times change. And besides, as Emmet wrote a couple of years ago on his own excellent blog, there’s much to be said for “the idea of posting infrequently as a deliberate editorial approach”.

That’s an idea that’s resonating with me more and more. But of course, adopting such a policy won’t solve my procrastination problem. ‘Slow’ and ‘stagnant’ are very different things — some effort on my part will be required.


Highlights of a year (or so)

Nine years ago on this very date, I took my first steps into the world of personal publishing by starting my own website, a horrible mess of black and orange (well it was 1999) which eventually morphed into what you see before you today. Nine years! Jesus. That’s a long time. And what do I have to show for it?

Well not a lot, going by the lack of activity here (unless you count my Twitter updates). But I’ll have you know that my real life has been far more eventful.

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One more year

I started blogging six years ago today. One could argue that I stopped over a year ago, seeing as I’ve only posted to the Macrolog four times since I marked last year’s anniversary.

However, though I’m not as prolific as I once was, to say the least, I haven’t given it up (even if my Twitter stream does get more attention) and I don’t foresee doing so any time soon. As I said last year, it’s just what I do.

Now, if only I had the time or motivation to do it more often…


Five years

It dawns on me that this humble little weblog recently passed the fifth anniversary of its inception. Two weeks ago, to be exact. I’ve been taken up completely with other things since my return from South Africa (the new job, mostly, which I will get into another time) and had barely enough time to eat a proper dinner, let alone tend to my RSS feeds and bookmarks and draft posts and what have you, so I’m sure you can forgive me for not marking the occasion.

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Cogs are turning

Not much time for blogging lately. Cogs once rusted have been cleaned and oiled for turning again — and turning they are.

Right now? Plans are being made, bags are being packed and loose ends tied up before my long-awaited return to South Africa. T minus 12 days and counting. You better believe I’m counting.

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Self, aggregated

Rex at Fimoculous.com recently relaunched his site with a brand new look, and a brand new approach to blogging — intended, he says, to signal the notion that “the future of blogging is self-aggregation”:

In a sense, we’re going back to the future. Blogs are starting to take on more of a “personal homepage” feel — a collection of media, writing, lists, reviews, events, geography, etc. In other words, we’re introducing structured data into what was previously just a text-based form.

That idea inspired me, and really got me thinking about what I want from my own website, and what I want to use it for. I asked myself: Do I just want a blog with other bits tacked on? Or do I want a site for and about me, a hub to collect and store all kinds of information relevant to and for me (events in my life and my thoughts on the world; links to other sites that interest me; what I’m reading/watching/listening to)? The site as it was is best described as the former; what I wanted was the latter. But how to get from one to the other?

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Big Smoke, here I come

A week from tomorrow I will be popping over to London for a short three-day visit, ostensibly to see the Modernism exhibition at the V&A, and to hang out with my good buddy Dave R who’s escaping from Redditch for a while.

But I do have another motive: I’m determined to visit the Rough Trade shop, at long last, after my two previous abortive attempts (in 2001, lost in Covent Garden; and 18 months ago, bewildered on the wrong section of Talbot Road). If I don’t find it this time I’ll cry, I really will.

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Recent randomness

I’ve been neglecting you again, dear reader. But then again, what else is new? Anyway, in lieu of a proper entry here’s a list of bullet points on what I’ve been up to the last few weeks:

  • A couple of weekends ago, the hard drive on my iBook started dying. Stressed me out no end, it did. The poor machine is in the shop for a replacement right now — the new shipment of drives is due later this week — so I should have it back soon. I hope.
  • Seems like nothing but problems with my broadband recently, too. It was slower than dial-up for two days last week, and a fortnight before was down completely on two separate occasions. Apparently they’re ‘upgrading’ the exchange at the moment… at least I can’t fault the customer service, which was more helpful than I expected. And it’s been working uninterrupted since last Friday. Touch wood.
  • After all the stress caused by the above, I gave Lightning Bolt a miss last Wednesday and had an early night instead. But I did go see the Boredoms on Friday night, and boy was I glad I did. Their current line-up of three drummers — plus Yamatsuka Eye on vocals and electronics — is quite a departure aesthetically from the sounds they were famous for with the cool kids back in the day, but the new direction fits them like a Saville Row suit. I’m a sucker for good percussion so I was in my element — if a little tired on my feet after a long day — for the more than 90 minutes they performed, perfectly in sync. Awesome doesn’t even begin to describe it. (And to top it off I bumped into at least five people I know when the house lights came up after the show, and everyone was chuffed to bits. That never happens.)
  • Speaking of music, on the same day as that Boredoms show I bought News And Tributes, the new album by The Futureheads. I’ve only ever been as disappointed by one other record, and that one — Chris Cornell’s Eurphoria Morning — stayed in rotation for at least two weeks before I was convinced of its craptitude. Oh, what have The Futureheads done to themselves?! The songs are there, more or less, but the production is just plain terrible; never has a ‘big sound’ sounded so small. And what’s with the rhythm-section-hating? The drumming, especially the snare, is barely audible on most tracks, while the bass is mired in murk. And don’t get me started on that godawful track 11! I’m sure they’ll sell bucketloads and get lots more teeny-bopper emo-lite black-rim-glasses-wearing groupies before they realise how far they’ve sold themselves out, and make up for it with a better third album. But this one? I disliked it so much that I returned it on Monday and got the new Mogwai CD instead, which is far more satisfying. (On a related note, most of the reviews of the Futureheads’ record give it a thumbs-up while almost universally referring to the term ‘mature’, as if pedestrianism in art is supposed to be some kind of virtue. Quite frankly, that’s bollocks. Whenever I see a record described as ‘mature’ it’s the kiss of death as far as I’m concerned. I’m sure others would agree.)
  • Oh yeah, and yesterday was my birthday. I turned 26. I feel old. However the wonderful Bee, who also celebrated her birthday yesterday, is still full of youth and vitality and the joys of spring. So I’ll have to live vicariously through her, then. Now if you’ll excuse me, I have a place in a nursing home to book…

Vacation time

Tomorrow morning I set off for my month-long getaway in South Africa. I’ve got a long day’s travelling ahead, as I’m not due to arrive in Johannesburg until 6:45am on Wednesday. However, knowing that the gorgeous Bee will be there waiting for me should help the time fly by quick enough.

While I’m there I may have an opportunity to post here now and again, or then again, I may not. I may also take lots of photos for future posting, or then again, I may not. But one thing is for certain: I will have a fantastic time, and make lots of people very jealous in the process.


2006 resolutions

It’s resolution time again, and this year I’m keeping it simple. Just a few direct, attainable goals to make life better for yours truly in the coming months. In 2006, I resolve to:

  • Eat less. Not that I’m a pig or anything, but I have been consuming more than my fair share in recent weeks. This one goes hand in hand with ‘Walk more’. I’ve lost the weight before without much effort, and I’ll do it again.
  • Write more. I enjoy it, so why don’t I do it more often? That’s a question I need to answer this year. Writing this is a start, at least.
  • Read more. You should see the tower of books behind me. They’re leering at me, taunting me… No more! This year I will read the feckers. I’ll read the shit out of them. Then they’ll be sorry.
  • Work hard. This is the big one. It’s time to put my degree to good use. I have a craft to refine and skills to use and develop. I am marketable, and I am great at what I do and put my mind to. This year I will have a job I can be proud of, and which will finally enable me to…
  • Move out! I’ve been home long enough, it’s about time I had my own place, to make my own home. Even if it is just a bedsit. Moving out of the country will help, too. Watch out London, here I come.
  • Travel wider. So many places to see, so many new things to experience. If I strike even one off my personal list, I will consider myself fulfilled for the year.
  • Take more photos. I bring my camera everywhere, but I rarely take it out. This reticence simply has to stop. This year I will be snap happy.
  • Spend more time with Bee. This one’s a given. A proper job means more income which means more trips to Africa which means more time with Bee much more often. More more more, that’s my motto.
  • Enjoy myself. Not as easy as you might think. But I will do my damnedest not to lose any day of this year to unpleasantness. Carpe annum!

Reinventing my wheel

I mentioned reinvention, didn’t I? One of my goals for this revision process was to find away to entwine my two weblogs together into a single strand, like it was in the beginning. I was disturbed by my neglecting of the main weblog in favour of posting links by the bucketful; on the other hand, having just a linklog isn’t enough for me and I need that space to record longer-form thoughts, or photographs, or pretty much anything that isn’t a link.

So what I did was, I changed the names. The old weblog becomes the macrolog, while the linklog becomes the microlog. Simple, eh? One weblog, two components: one for big thoughts, one for little. Suddenly the parts seem like a whole again. Which ever strand I add to — macro or mirco — I’ll be adding to the completeness. And because of this, I won’t feel so guilty for leaving huge gaps between longer entries. Everybody wins! It’s funny how semantics can change your perceptions like that.

As for the front page? Well, in a perfect world there’d be some Feedburner-esque method of entwining the separate strands together into a single rope, akin to what Kottke did for his main page. But I’m not about to spend a week hacking MT with my limited skills to get it working the way he did. I’m a ‘plug-and-play’ kinda guy. No pun intended.

So what I did was, I set up the main page to display only entries from the microlog. Then I added links to my macrolog posts to the microlog, with a nifty trick using CSS and the category label tag to style those entries differently from the rest. So now everything tumbles down the page, nicely twisted together. It’s an awkward way to do it, sure, but I had to improvise. Very crafty of me.

Speaking of tumbling, I think it’s pretty obvious that the new front page is inspired by what the tumbleloggers have done/are doing. But it’s not a tumblelog like theirs. It’s still the same old weblog I’ve been keeping for four years. Only it’s got some new boots and panties. Jack calls it a ‘tumbly weblog’, which I think is spot on.

Expect to see some new things going on here over the next few weeks. (For ‘new’, read ‘shamelessly stolen off other bloggers far better than I’.) Also, expect the usual tweaks here or there, as everything settles. And above all, dear reader, stick along for the ride.


Remake/Remodel

So my restlessness got the better of me. I liked the last design (which I only finished a month ago) but it was a bit too much. There was something a bit bland and staid about it, too. But above all it overemphasised the design, relegating the content to a mere element within, when the whole point of the site is the content: the links that I post, the entries and thoughts that I write here, and everything around and in between. It intimidated me, so I held off from updating anything for a few days, save the odd post or two. Then other things got in the way — work, life in general — and those days turned to weeks. Quelle surprise.

In the meantime, over at Kottke’s blog I read all about those fancy new tumblelogs that seem to be all the rage. Sites like project.ioni.st and Anarchaia. Even Jack has started one, and a nice one it is too.
Tumblelogs; just a fancy name for the weblogs people like me used to have back in the day, really, back when Blogger was state-of-the-art. Before Movable Type made us put a title on everything, and suddenly posting a link or a snapshot of your thoughts wasn’t ‘substantial’ enough. Of course then linklogs came along, and del.icio.us and Flickr and all that jazz, and it seemed like every component of what a weblog used to be had been spun off into its own format, its own identity. Like sit-com characters starring in their own shows.

Anyway, the idea appealed to me, and germinated in the back of my head. The idea of just tumbling everything down the page, regardless of its content — whether an essay or a quote or a link or a photo. That’s what attracted me to blogging in the first place, back when it was quick and dirty and long before the obligation to write essays made it a chore.

This is not a chore.

So I took that idea, and make it the basis of this (live) redesign. My remit? Nothing but content. The content is king. Nice big bold blocks of text. All the fancy stuff kept hidden. Consider this post obsolete.

And hey, would you believe it? Today just happens to be this weblog’s fourth birthday. Four years! Wasn’t that long ago, but I was a different person then, blogging-wise. Keeping a blog back then was, I dunno, more fun? I want this blog to be fun again. I guess there’s no better time than now to take stock. To re-engage. To reinvent. (More on this later.)


Fifteen thousand

Since the beginning of July, between this site and my new blog, I’ve written approximately 15,000 words. Fifteen thousand! And that’s even accounting for quotations.

I think that’s the single most productive month I’ve had since I started the weblog nearly four years ago. And what’s more, it doesn’t make my 10,000-word thesis seem like such hard work.
Speaking of which, the dissertation’s coming along nicely. I had a productive meeting with my thesis supervisor yesterday afternoon which was very reassuring, to say the least.

Like my classmate Markham, I have occasional bouts of crazy stress over the slog of it all, the researching and the writing and the theorising and the thinking and the [insert Frinkism here]. But it’s good to know that everything I’ve been working on for the past few months still makes sense today.

Oh, and the title? Try this for size: Blogosphere of influence: Are weblogs enriching journalism in the new media age?* Catchy, isn’t it?

* This title is provisional, mind you. It’s already changed a couple of times, and might well change again when the deadline looms closer.


The blog is dead

I haven’t written much about my journalism course, have I? I don’t know why that is. Maybe I felt like it wasn’t worth such close analysis. Or maybe I was just embarrassed about the lack of work that I have to show for the last few months (besides class assignments, that is; always busy with those).

Is it too late to fill you in now? To tell you that the site redesign was just displacement activity to distract me from the proper work I have to get done this month — like the four-thousand word monster essay on Ireland’s media environment since the 1920s; or my very-much-unfinished ethics presentation on George Galloway’s libel victory; or finding the time to study for the shorthand dictation test in three week’s time; or designing the class magazine — not to mention the bloody thesis?

Is it any wonder that I don’t want to write about this stuff here?

Come to think of it, I haven’t written much of anything relating to my personal life in recent times. It’s not for want of good material, that’s for sure — it’s not all doom and gloom around here — but I’ve got text files across two computers filled with half-written drafts on all sorts of things and not much impetus to finish them. Remember I promised a report on my New Year exploits with the lovely Benitha, didn’t I? Sorry about that. I had the best of intentions (aren’t they always?) but I shouldn’t promise what I can’t deliver.

Can you believe how quickly the year is flying in? Next month it’ll be summer already! It’s all moving so fast. Too fast. Can I stop the clocks for a month or two, please? I need a chance to catch up, to undo my laziness and get things done. I see people all around me moving at light-speed and it just makes me freeze. I see my classmates starting top-class weblogs of their own and I feel like everything I’ve ever written is the worst kind of shit and want to erase it all (though I won’t; I’m too much of a chicken for that).

I should confess, I told a white lie when I said the redesign was displacement activity. It’s not just that, You see I needed a new look to spur me on to do better things here; to lighten up and stop being so damn serious and get back to what this blog was like when I started it. I mean, what’s the point of me tagging my posts if I’ve got no posts to tag? (It turns out I’m not the only one who feels this way: D. Keith Robinson has posted a remarkably similar message.)

This was supposed to be my own space, a notebook for half-formed thoughts and ideas. Somewhere along the way I got too concerned about how others valued my writing, though I convinced myself that I wasn’t; it turned into an academic journal and the life was sucked out of it. It slipped out of my hands.

Oh there’s the Linklog, sure, but mostly the thoughts and ideas, the good stuff, stayed in my text files and the blog became a chore.

I bought one of those Moleskine notebooks a while back. You know, the really nice ones that other bloggers evangelise about. It’s sleek and sturdy and functional, the paper quality is amazing. In fact it’s so good that I haven’t been able to write in it. It’s like I’m afraid to sully it with my incoherent ramblings, as if I’m committing a sin every time I tarnish the paper with my ballpoint. It’s stupid, really. It’s just a notebook. It’s made for writing in! And it’s mine! Or it’s supposed to be, anyway. I have to make it mine, first.

Just like this weblog. It’s mine, but in a way, it isn’t. I have to make it mine. It’s time I reclaimed my space.

The blog is dead. Long live the blog.


Branches

Branches of a tree by the roadside, Clontarf
Branches of a tree by the roadside, Clontarf (April 2003).


The Magic Number

So this weblog is three years old today. Three!
Still a baby, as far as I’m concerned. Still lots more growing to do. Lots to improve. One day I might even get the hang of it. You never know.
To my regular readers, thanks for sticking around during the ‘terrible twos’. Your loyalty will be rewarded. Eventually.


Crumbling

Crumbling foundations of now-demolished changing rooms, St. Anne's Park, Dublin.
Crumbling foundations of now-demolished changing rooms, St. Anne’s Park, Dublin.


One thousand

It’s a little hard to believe that I’ve reached the 1,000 post mark here at the OM&TR. Harder still to imagine I might have arrived weeks ago, if it weren’t for my deleting a number of useless entries in a fit of quality control early last year.

When I started this thing in November 2001, over two-and-a-half years ago, 1000 was an intimidating number. I read weblogs at the time that had broken that barrier long before I discovered them, and the thought of me doing the same was a fantastical notion. A thousand-word essay was long enough, but a thousand blog posts? Unfathomable! Did I really have that much to say?

Yet when I look back now on the intervening weeks, months and years it appears, funnily enough, that I did. And I do. Whether most of it is worth reading or not is debatable, but I’ve gone too far now to throw in the towel.

Here’s to another thousand, at least.


Parrot

Parrot in an aviary near Benitha's apartment.
Parrot in an aviary near Benitha’s apartment.