Friday, October 30, 2009

This World Wide Web Thing

It's a bit mad this.

So we've abbreviated the longish term of "world wide web" to www. This makes perfect sense, everyone likes a good acronym, or an a, as I like to call them.

www is three characters whereas world wide web is God knows how many. Typing www is far easier than world wide web, I should know, I've just done it a few times and got it wrong each time.

But, and it's a big but, when we're talking and we say the words "world wide web" there are three syllables involved. It's easy isn't it? You say the word "world", you follow it up with a "wide", then you chuck in a "web", even an American could do it without considering it as hard work and having to stop for a Big Mac in between two of the sounds. Probably.

But, and it's another biggish one, we don't talk and say "world wide web" do we? We say "www". But, and I shan't labour the big but thing, in order to say "www" we actually say "doubleyou, doubleyou, doubleyou," which is nine syllables. So, to say the a takes us nine times as long as saying the actual full length phrase.

I know it's not a huge amount of time here, it's not as if saving the time would enable the average man to have an extra day off each week or something.

It is a little bit mad though isn't it?

They say Dolphins and Elephants are stupid!

Oh, no they don't.

A merry weekend to you all out there.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Racism - Making Me Proud To Be British

Last week we had a bit of a furore over here. It's been written about by old DD and published on Groundviews over here. I can't add much to the words of DD, he's summed it up nice and succinctly, obviously without my wit, but I'd like to tell you what my thoughts are on the subject.

First, let's set my stall out in an attempt to avoid misunderstandation. It's a new word, one that I just made up, I think you know what I'm talking about though. It's when things are misunderstood. It should not be confused with the word "misunderstandasian", which is when a person fails to understand Asians, a concept many of us are probably familiar with.

My opinion is that the BNP is racist, that it holds views that are morally and fundamentally unpleasant, wrong and against the principles of many basic Human rights. They've used a topic that's at the forefront of much of the British public; that of immigration, to attract attention and publicity, maybe even support, to their frankly vile and despicable cause.

But they're also a legitimate and legal political party, both here and in Europe. They've won some seats in the House of Commons here and also in the European Parliament. Their views are unpleasant yet they're also legitimate. As far as I'm concerned as long as the party is legal, then they should be given an outlet, as much as other parties are given one.

The appearance of Nick Griffin on Question Time on BBC TV must have created some turmoil in the minds of those boffins who decide who will appear on the programme, of that there's no doubt. They would have known that the publicity and uproar would have given them a boost in viewing figures, I heard somewhere that in was in fact a four fold increase, pretty large by anyone's standards.

Perhaps they would also have wondered if that increase would be worth the price they would have to pay, the price of negative criticism etc.

Before I saw the programme I felt a strange sense of fear. It was a little bit condescending and patronising towards less bright people, but it was still there. People I considered as reasonably intelligent and normal, those like me, would be quite capable of seeing the BNP for what they really are. The fear was that their leader would be given a platform that would enable him to put across a good and positive impression of both himself and his party to those who were a bit gullible, those who'd get fooled.

My fears proved to be largely unfounded.

As I, and a few million others, though they weren't actually in my living room, watched, we saw Mr Griffin make an idiot of himself. He fudged, he hedged, he squirmed. He attempted to deny the undeniable, then, in the case of the hollocaust, he attempted to deny that he had denied the undeniable.

He tried to chuckle heartily when people pointed out huge big failings in his logic, as if someone was making a small wisecrack about the colour of his tie, rather than a massive flaw in his argument.

I'm sure there were a few people who might have been impressed by him or his party, but that will happen in this sort of situation. To most people his appearance was a huge success, if his intention was to make a total idiot of himself.

What I also thought was that his and his party's opinions are those of dissent. They go against the norm, against most public opinion. There are some countries, so I'm told, in which dissent is outlawed, in which dissenters are jailed, killed or supressed, maybe even given really nasty Chinese burns.

I think of myself as Sri Lankan and British. I'm happy with that, there are no contradictions in my mind.

Watching Nick Griffin make a twat of himself on the BBC made me proud to be British. I felt good that we have freedom of speech here and that people like that are allowed to air their views, no matter how disagreeable they are.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Shopping While Black - What Would You Do?

My good friend M posted this up on the Book and it grabbed my attention, caught my imagination and made me think a lot. In fact I can't get it out of my head, if I may quote the wisdom of the great Ms Minogue.

What would I do?

It's a tough one to consider for a number of reasons. The first is simply that I can't see this sort of hypothetical situation taking place here in the UK. If it did it would be far more subtle, though by no means am I saying that racism doesn't exist here, just that it's usually not so blatant.

Then I have very little first hand knowledge of Americans, so I'm unsure if this sort of thing would actually happen there. If the things I've heard and read are correct then I'd say that it's a believable scenario.

If those things are untrue then I do wonder if this is a scenario that is so unlikely to take place that the very staging of it is putting people in a strange place anyway. It's a hard thing to explain but I think you'll see what I mean if you watch it.

I tried to think about what I would have done before watching the clip. I can tell you that my honest answer is a don't know. I'd like to think that I'm one of the types who would have stepped in and tried to express my outrage and disgust, I just don't actually know if I would have.

On a scale from do nothing to go mental and kick up a big fuss I'm certainly on the right of the centre, towards the go mental end. I'm just unsure if I would have been so far right that I would have done something, or if I'd have not had the courage. That's the truth and I'm uncomfortable about it.

However, having seen the clip, I've now decided that, should I ever encounter such a scenario, I will most definitely do something. I'll be there making my feelings known and doing anything I can.

How about you?

What would you do?

Happy Monday all.

Friday, October 23, 2009

"If Your Situation Is Life Threatening..."

The ongoing issue of the possible RD diabetes continues. There's a large pot full of "taking the piss" jokes that lesser bloggers would resort to at this point, but you know me. I've never been the type to use toilet related humour or talk about smut. Or both. Hardly ever.

I called my Doctors' surgery the other day to attempt to get the results for my blood test. There's a whole serious post lurking in the sidelines; one about the benefits and advantages of the British National Health Service versus the fact that it appears to have so many fundamental flaws, moving on to the issue of whether it's actually free anyway. I'd subtitle the post

"Why the hell should I have to chase the results of my blood test when you said you'd call me after two days and then I heard nothing for a week anyway?"

But that's for another time, one when I'm in more of a ranting mood, which is rare anyhow.

So I called the surgery and the line was answered by a robot machine thing. These robot machine for answering phone things are all well and good but I'm waiting for someone to realise that there's a next level of quality and efficiency we could get to. There's a way to do it quicker, cheaper and with better quality, simply by using East Europeans for the job.

I listened to my automated options and the first bit I heard made me laugh in quite a hearty manner. Even now, some days later, the exact amount of days I'm unsure of as I haven't yet decided when to publish this post, I can't rationalise it and work out why this is so funny to me. Perhaps you'll think it's as unfunny as a back to back showing of the Steve Martin Pink Panther films, maybe you'll laugh with me and wonder why.

The message went like this:

"welcome to the Our opening hours are 8 until 5.30. You can press the star key at any time to hear the options again. If your situation is life threatening please press zero....."

It set me off on one.

Merry weekend all.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Dark Evil Lurks Within

For reasons that I can't divulge, top secret stuff that only me and a certain other person know, I've ended up with these things. They lurk, they occasionally look at me with their patronising, nasty and heart trembling attitude.

Yes, you guessed correctly. I have, in my fridge no less, a small tub of sun dried tomatoes in a garlic and herb flavoured olive oil. I've eaten one segment on its own. Just. I ate another with some rather nice extremely mature cheddar cheese, that was better. Now I'm stuck.

They are the devil of food these sun dried tomatoes aren't they? They're not even red. They taste like someone has taken a tomato and removed all the flavour and succulence, then decided to sell it to trendy people. It's like eating a pot noodle without adding the water first, though probably not quite as nice.

Eating fruit and vegetables is good for you, getting your five a day is supposed to be the way to a longer life, filled with joy and sex with beautiful women they say. But, when we signed up for it, "they" didn't mention that sun dried tomatoes would be involved.

C suggested that I could use them in cooking, perhaps chopped up and added to meat with spaghetti or another pasta of my choice. I might do this, but don't we Lankans just use tomato puree or old tomatoes lurking in the bottom right hand drawer of our fridge when we want the flavour?

I asked A and K last week if they wanted one or two and they grimaced and looked at me as if I was some sort of weirdo, well I mean they grimaced more than they usually do.

Vut too doo? If I had a garden I'd contemplate planting them, but the flaw with that plan is that the last thing I want is a huge big sun dried tomato tree growing in my garden.

And you thought I only worried about jeans and moisturiser!

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Of Genes and Jeans

The metrosexual, in touch with my feminine side and proud to take care of my appearance side of me spends a fair amount of time looking for the perfect pair of jeans. The other day I read boffins have calculated that the average metrosexual spends exactly sixty one years of his life looking for the perfect pair of denims. I find this distinctly believable.

And, being a Sri Lankan shortarse, my ongoing search for jeans and trousers, or should I say a trouser, is even harder than it would be for the average height Brit metrosexual geezer. Were I about six foot tall I could try on every pair of jeans in every shop, choose my style and buy it. I'd face none of that crap involved in searching for brands that are made with a short leg, none of the annoyance involved in rushing my way through every single pair to find the ones marked "short", sometimes just an "s".

When I was about fifteen and sixteen, way back in the last millenium in the days that were even before "those days", skin tight jeans were all the rage. And, like most Lankan kids, my Grandmother had a sewing machine. I learnt how to take in my own trousers, always taking them off first of course. It's surprisingly easy you know.

Why am I telling you this?

Because I'm trying to paint a picture to you, the reader. I'm trying to explain to you that, even from a relatively young age, I was vain enough to sit there and learn how to alter my own trousers so that they looked just right. There was none of that buy them and roll them up so that they're the right length thing for me.

A pair of jeans is the holy grail of clothing isn't it?

I can walk into a clothes shop and have a casual browse at the shirts, a cursory glance at the jumpers and a passing glimpse in the direction of the jackets. I may even steal a longing look at the smart trousers, pretending that I might need to wear some at some point in time. But the jeans always get my attention.

It doesn't matter that I've got more jeans than I need. It doesn't matter that most people don't notice what jeans others wear anyway, that they blend in to the background of a person's clothing like they're some sort of clothing chameleon.

The current state of the RD wardrobe is that I've got about three "perfect" pairs of jeans, one nearly perfect pair and then an also ran section. The also rans consist of about four pairs that are so close yet so far. Perhaps they look good but have a hole in a pocket, a nightmare for men as we lose all our coins. Or they're fantastic in every aspect except the fact that they're too tight. It happens to mens' jeans too you know.

The nearly perfect pair is a conundrum of a denim. It's a Gap pair, bought a few years ago and made from that vintage Japanese denim. What the hell vintage Japanese denim is I don't know, other than it's Japanese and vintage. It feels soft and has stylish looking stitching and detail on it, not too much mind. They look good, even if I say it myself, as I tend to in these parts, but the arse is a bit saggy, that's the "nearly" bit.

We have to be careful, us height challenged fellows. A flared jean on us makes us look as if someone's strapped one of the sails from a boat to each of our legs. Or worse, we end up looking like matey boy, Kelly from the Stereophonics. There's something about him that gives off a short bloke trying to act tall thing and it's not right.

We have less of a canvas and can't paint a complex and highly involved picture. It's one thing for a six foot plus person to wear a million piercings and have a billion tattoos, but on a much smaller form it's too busy and too crammed and the balance of skin and decoration goes haywire.

Then there's fashion to consider. How bad is that? Not only do we have to go through life searching that elusive but perfect jean but fashion means last year's perfect pair is this year's dunce's pair. Things would be so much easier if fashion just stayed the same, year in year out, but then we'd all look the same and that would be no fun would it?

What about you? How many pairs of jeans do you think a person needs?

Monday, October 19, 2009

Behaviour - How Do You Do Yours?

I have a friend who operates by the treat others as they treat him principle. It's not really about revenge but it is about acting in the way that others do. For example, if someone was to refuse a favour to said friend, then the next time that same someone asked the friend for a similar favour, he'd almost definitely answer with a refusal.

My position on these matters is different, at least I think it is. I prefer to think, and to act, as if I have a more firm position and that my behaviour is less influenced by the way you'll behave towards me. I try to stick to my standards and benchmarks regardless of the way other people are.

For example, I've encountered an ongoing situation at my office that has been happening for some years. Most lunchtimes I'll nip across the road to our local Tesco as it's the only place around here. I noticed that a certain person would always ask me to get something for them, no big deal in itself, just a sandwich or something else low in price.

After some time it struck me that this woman would rarely offer the money for her lunches. She used to, but I assume my refusals to accept what I considered small change made her think that she didn't need to offer any more. But my sort of behaviour with friends is one in which I'm more than happy to buy you lunch today, as long as you buy it tomorrow, a give and take approach to things.

Then I realised that this person would hardly ever go to the supermarket herself. If she did, if she offered to buy something for me, she'd always take the money from me when I offered it, a clear imbalance, particularly as she'd usually try to sneak away quietly anyhow.

I observed this, I noted the behaviour and I carried on behaving the same way as I always had. I must admit that there's some sort of strange and smug sense of satisfaction in maintaining one's own standards, though I sincerely hope my ego isn't so big that that was my main motivation.

In my mind there's the thought that, if I reduce my standards to match someone else, then I become as bad as them and we all end up losing track of who started the behaviour and who was following who. There's the thought that I want to maintain my own standards, not influenced by what you do, whoever you are, unless you're a person I admire.

And maintaining one's standards, being above everything and letting it all go, is all well and good. If I could truly and honestly behave like that all the time then I wouldn't be thinking about things, I wouldn't be writing this post, I wouldn't be asking you what you think.

You see what actually happens with me is that I maintain my behaviour and my standards but I have a limit, a tipping point. I'll buy you a drink, a lunch, a car or whatever. The next day you might not reciprocate, you might let me do it again and that probably won't matter to me. The following day I'll buy you lunch again, you get the picture. The point is that I won't or don't react in the short term.

But after some sort of extended period of this, I decide that enough's enough. Then I get really pissed off. That's what happened with the work and Tesco girl. I let it go for quite some time but have now got to and gone past my tipping point. On the rare occasion she asks me to get her something I always take her money. I never offer to buy something for her though. These are ways of behaving that I feel fundamentally uncomfortable with, they're not me, but they have to be used. Enough's enough.

My friend, the one I mentioned in the very beginning, rarely encounters a situation like this. Had he been in my position, probably on day one of the not paying for the sandwich business, he'd have either demanded the money or refused to do it the next day. He would have changed his behaviour to match that of the other person, thereby solving one problem but perhaps creating others.

If I could get to a Zen like state in which the behaviour of others had no effect on me whatsover then all would be peaceful, though I have the feeling that this isn't realistic unless I was a monk or a hermit or something. And frankly I like sex, cars and rude jokes too much for that.

A mature and considered view on this is that whatever behaviour is good for you works. But what do you think on these sort of issues?

Should we stick or twist?

Happy Monday all.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Levels Of Competence

It is said that there are four stages of learning:

1. Unconscious incompetence

2. Conscious incompetence

3. Conscious competence

4. Unconscious competence

I'll attempt to explain them briefly.

Unconscious incompetence - This is the first stage, which is why I cunningly gave it the number 1 position. It's when we're bad at something but are not even aware of the situation. It may be Java's ability to do the pole vault or my ability to ride a horse. I run the risk of a comment from Java to inform me that he's a former champion pole vaulter here, but you know me, I like to take chances. The important point is that this stage exists when we don't know that we're bad at something. It's an interesting twist that, even by thinking about whether I could ride a horse, it moves me onto the next level.

Conscious incompetence - This is the next stage and exists when we find out that we're bad at something. Once we get to this point we usually decide to do something about it, though sometimes not. We have to get here before we improve.

Conscious competence - When we start to learn how to do the thing and begin to get a level of competence at it. But, the key here is that we have to work hard at it, we have to keep thinking about what we're doing and how we're doing it. It's very conscious, hence the title. I cast my mind back all those years to when I first started driving and passed my driving test. I had to concentrate and think about things all the time.

Unconscious competence - This is the holy grail, the position we all aim for in anything we do. It's when we get so good at something that we can perform it to a decent level without having to think about it. Going back to the driving example it's where most people get to; when they can drive and don't have to think about the act at all.

Why am I telling you all of this?

Well for one thing it's because this theory has somewhat fascinated and captured me for many years. The very first time I read it it felt like there was a small explosion of several light bulbs going off inside my head. It's simple, it makes sense and it's easy to understand.

Then, after digesting it for a while, I started to apply it to more or less everything I do in my life, as a means of measuring where I am in the specific field compared to where I want to be. I guess one could say that, once a fellow begins to think where he is, then said fellow moves past the first level, that of unconscious incompetence.

I've been doing a lot of drum practice in recent days. We've got a gig tonight and, after a longish summer break, I felt the need to practice the old songs and work on the new ones quite a lot. To try to get fluid and seamless in my playing, that fluidity that comes from familiarity, that unconscious competence.

And in playing along to the recorded versions of the covers we do, songs like Vertigo by U2 and Somebody Told Me by the Killers, I became aware of something happening.

I've played these songs for a while now with this band. Our versions of them, as happens in any covers band, have developed in an organic way. We play little bits and pieces, maybe even the odd embelishment here and there, that we don't think about much at all.

So to go back to hearing the original versions, to practice to them has made me listen with fresh ears. It's made me realise that there's a little cymbal crash here or an extra bass drum beat there that I'd originally learnt but had forgotten about over time. It's kind of taken me from stage 4, that of unconscious competence, back to stage 3, where I'm now thinking again of bits that I sailed through before.

My measurement of my competence is on a song by song basis, not an overall thing. With a newer song, of which there are two in this gig, I aim to be at conscious competence. It's only the element of practice through repeated gigging that takes me to the next level. There are a few older songs, one that I've played with other bands too like Creep for example, that feel so ingrained in my that I could play them in my sleep.

The next dilemna is that I don't want to play a set in which I know all the songs to the level of unconscious competence. That will mean that I'd be playing almost on autopilot. Autopilot can be great, it can enable a musician, or a drummer even, to enjoy the other things, the interraction with band mates, the joy of the crowd, maybe the sheer fun of the occasion.

But variety is good, mixing things up is fun. When I've joined bands and played the first couple of performances it's all at stage 2 and that's no fun, when I'm concentrating so hard on getting it right that there's no space left to enjoy myself.

I suppose this post is a little bit of thinking aloud really. But what about you?

What level are you at in the things you do in your life?

You may be surprised when you think about it.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Mystery Google

Rather cool this.

It gives you the results for the last person.

Hours of fun for all.


Keep it quiet but I happen to know that yesterday it was a certain parasitologist's birthday.

Happy birthday Darwin, from all the team here at London, Lanka and drums, aka me.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Do Two Ugly People Make A Good Looking Child?

Oh gosh, bollocks and bugger me, the things people search for. This particular phrase was used by an Australian to get to my blog. I say an Australian but it could easily have been a different nationality, it's just that it was a person in Australia.

Do two ugly people make a good looking child?


In mathematics, maths or math as the septics say, two negatives DO make a positive. But, that logic can't be whipped out of the field of maths and chucked into biology, specifically that bit of biology concerning uglies, sex, reproduction and the results.

If you're an ugly, even if you're a fugly, and you have a child with another ugly or fugly the chances are that your kids will be ugly, or fugly. I can't prove it, I can't even give a quickly googled link for you to look at, I just know it.

As you were.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Lately In The Lankanosphere....

There are times when I read the Lankan blogs and think that there's a desperate need for a "lately" purely because of a huge volume of posts that I find highly stimulating or interesting.

Frankly this isn't one of those times. All of you see me after class. There has however, been some good sparkly stuff floating around, bits and pieces from the expected bloggers and quirky stuff from the less expected, perhaps the ones that I usually don't read. Here are some of the best bits.

Darwin, who has become a bit of a Godmother of the Lankanosphere, by hovering away in the background, not posting that often and then writing gems when she does, has given us this thought provoker. The best words are those used by Darwin. They go like this

"Seriously. This is the cheesiest, creepiest, weirdest engagement announcement I have ever come across."

And she's right. Check it out. I commented, saying that there was something cute about it. The more I think about it the less cute it feels. I feel sorry for the husband to be, but perhaps they deserve each other.

Blogaversary wishes have been winging their way across to the land of the rising Sun for JapSach, who's celebrating a year of writing his blog. I remember the days when he was young and unknown. My how he's grooown! I left a comment on one of his posts, to say that I'm a bit envious of his adventures in Japan and he thought I was being sarcastic. I wasn't. I really enjoy reading his blog and of his discoveries and adventures, thundering typhoons included.

There's been a tag doing the rounds, one about five friends bloggers have made through their blogs. I was tagged by TMS in her post about it, for which I'm rather grateful. I thought about writing my own post and naming my five friends but I haven't. Why RD, but why? I hear you shouting. Well it's because I've made many friends and writing about a mere five would cause fights and bad feeling among the people left out. DD wouldn't be in the top five, that's the only certain thing! I reserve the right to write one of these posts at some time in the future though.

Lady Divine's post about the subject should probably win an award for meeting the most bloggers. I was omitted owing to a technicality; that we've never met, though that same technicality didn't prevent our LD including DD in the list. It's like she's like kinda met everyone like. Kinda.

St Fallen has contributed his piece on the matter here. I can't quite figure out who started it and where this particular tag is now but it's a good and enthralling one, seeing who's met who and exactly how much they love each other.

A Virile Nagalingam, a blogger who I often read but don't think I've ever mentioned has kicked out two contrasting and nifty posts. First came this one, about Indian food, though AVN makes us wonder if there is such a thing. He points out that so many are quick to label food that originates in the subcontinent as being "Indian" despite the fact that there are huge differences between the food from different areas of the country.

The average Brit does exactly the same thing. Here in Londinium an Indian restaurant is an Indian restaurant. There is little distinction made between a South Indian one compared to a Northern one, let alone between errm, well, you know. But are we wrong to generalise like this? The closer you get to a place the more specific the geography becomes no? In England it's fine for me to say my parents are from Sri Lanka. In Sri Lanka I need to say my Dad's from Gampola. In Gampola I need to say where the house is. And on we go with that spiffing illustration.

Secondly from AVN comes this post. WTF, OMG and OMWTFG. I haven't a clue what he's talking about. At one point, late in the first paragraph I thought I understood something. I was wrong though. I finished reading and thought that I'd like to be able to write like that, then realised that I don't know if I'd like to write like that, because I can't figure it out. Cool. See if you can.

In the land of there have been some goings on. This tour of a handloom factory is an interesting couple of minutes, or coupla minutes as Indi would no doubt say. I guess it's not actually a handloom factory as such, they don't make handlooms there, but they weave and churn out sarongs and shirts. Check it out, if you're thinking of investing then buy the place too, you can you know.

Rajaratarala, that farmer geezer who everyone reads, is back with a couple of quick and readable posts. I like him, he's the sort of chap I'd love to have a drink and a chat with. But, to my Suddha vocals his name just has was too many vowels, well As, in it. I'd find it easier if he was called Roger or something similar. Either way, whether it's Roger or Rajaratarala, I think he's got most people on his side and wishing success in his direction.

On a slightly serious note this post, on Chitrangi's blog, intrigued me. It's a story alleging Police brutality in Sri Lanka. I don't think it's the first, nor methinks will it be the last. The bit that really grabbed me was when the fellow says this:

"They asked me why I had assaulted a woman. One of them dragged my shirt color and started to assault me using their hand and legs. I told them that the said woman is my wife. But they didn’t listen to me. They assaulted me further."

I don't condone the alleged violence by the Police, I don't know if it's true anyhow. But is the writer's defence, that it wasn't an assault because the woman concerned was his wife, for real? He doesn't tell us exactly what happened but it seems mad. By my standards assaulting people is wrong, whether they're married to you or not. Please have a read of this and tell me if you think I've misinterpreted the post.

Amila Salagado, the man who knows more about birds than Dominic Sansoni knows about tying sarongs, has been out and about with his sparkling new lens. So far the results have been disastrous, as you can see here with his abysmal failure to get a single bird in focus. Amila, I'll step in and offer to take the lens off your hand if things don't work out better. I'm kind like that you know. You can pay me when you've got the money.

As we come to the end of the journey, maybe not a journey but more a little stopover in the Lankanosphere, we get to the best bit. It's him, some people know him as Cerno, all I know is that the Stig worships him. I must warn you that things could go a bit oooer here, it's Sunday night, though you'll probably be reading this on Monday, and I've got Zombie by the Cranberries blasting out. It's on my "energetic" playlist and it's fanfuckingtastic, as I'm sure you know.

"In your head, in your head, they're still fighting" sing along now.

So anyway, Cerno wrote this post about elephant watching and his discomfort with it. It's an engaging one that puts across a view many wouldn't consider. In its own right it deserves a place in this "lately". But then, with that splash of inspiration only splashed about by people like Cerno he follows up with something even better, funnier and more mind blowing. I'd try to describe it and attempt to quote something from it but I'm not worthy and I might get trampled by a herd of angry elephants. Go and read it, click on the link and prepare to be unprepared.

If there was a fellow with a project to compile a book of great Sri Lankan blog posts, then these two MUST be in it.

Lastly we had the first edition of the Kottu Mag out with yesterday's Sunday Leader. I've seen it on Indi's blog but the cover I see on the Sunday Leader page consists of a link to Kottu itself, which I glance at once in a while anyway. I really like the cover, I think it's eyecatching, which is good. It's big, it's mainstream and it's positive. What will come of it, how it will be/has been received I don't know, only time will tell.

That concludes our stopover. The weeks begins and I wish you a good one, filled with all seven days and some smiling and laughing.


Friday, October 9, 2009

RD At Ta DR (warning contains penis info)

Do you like what I did there? It's my first ever post with a palindrome for a title. How cool is that? I was going to call it "Rotavator" but that would have been pointless. However, my use of the word "ta" is dubious, perhaps wrong, I admit to being guilty there as charged.

"I don't know anyone who lets the public so much into his life via his pimped up diary" was what a good friend said about me the other day. And he really did say it in italics, that's the sort of chap he is. He's a rather cool dude and, come to think of it, I reckon all his conversations, if put into writing, would be in italics.

The statement made me think a little. You, the reader, do know a bit about me and that's a weird concept. I've met many a chap, plenty a chappess, through blogging and some have become good friends, good friends who know me anyway. But others, I guess, read this blog, know quite a lot of detail about me and my life in general and yet we've never met. It's weird in a way, nice in another way, just different to many in another.

But, in order to keep up the information flow, I must tell you about my trip to the Doctor's the other day. For obvious reasons I'd ask you not to tell this to my mother, what with her being a Sri Lankan, a mother (of me) and a Doctor. I think there's no need to explain further.

For some time I've been a little bit worried that I might be diabetic. There's a family history of it, in my family that is, not any other random one. And the symptoms have been stacking up in recent months.

An average night for me these days, though they usually happen at night, involves anything between three and six toilet trips, just number ones, not twos. This is a bit of a nightmare, not that I have time for nightmares with all the getting up. Each time, if you'll excuse the detail here, I pee, I mean I pee properly, not some trickle that proves my desire to go is a trick of the mind or something.

On top of that I drink a hell of a lot of water, maybe a litre or more each night. Mr Evian is my best friend, closely followed by a Mr Shanks. There are other bits and pieces too, hardly relevant except that the end result is that I felt a need to make myself a Doctor's appointment and get checked out.

It's a new fangled surgery this place, as Doctor's surgeries go it's a pleasant and relaxing environment. When you turn up, instead of going through the ordeal of talking to the receptionist, you can choose to check in on a touch screen. I think it's cool. You tell it your date of birth and its clever brain figures out who you are and logs you as being in the waiting room and ready to be seen.

After shoving some little kid off the toy efficient and technical machine I did my thing and took my place in the waiting room. It was a close call but I chose "Stuff" magazine instead of "Asian Bride" to read. I mean that sincerely, it really was a close call. I'd never buy Asian Bride but was tempted to have a glance through it. My ego couldn't handle it though.

I perused Stuff, observed the other people coming and going and took note of one Doctor who looked rather cute. I knew that I was going to be seen by a female Doctor and hoped she might be the one. I contemplated the issue. If I got called in by cute Doctor would it be practical to make up something, perhaps a strange feeling on my willy. I guessed some would consider it unethical.

The thinking proved academic as the other Doctor called out my name to be seen. By "other" I mean not cute.

I told her the symptoms and the family history (my family). She agreed that I should get it checked out and started to fill out a form for me to have a blood test. She said that it sounds possible that it's type two diabetes or perhaps a kidney infection or something. I am to go to the local hospital at eight in the morning after consuming nothing except water from midnight the night before.

I found that quite amusing, as that would more or less be my normal diet anyway, just that my usual two or three cups of tea would have to be skipped, not a big deal.

Then she gave me one of those bottles.

"And if you could fill this bottle for us here, we'll test the urine as well."

I looked at the bottle, coolly managing to hide my lack of coolness about this. It dawned on me that I'd never done this before. She explained further that there was a toilet just near the reception area and that I could just do it on my way out and hand it to the receptionist.

"Don't worry, our receptionists are well used to it" she added.

I thought she was taking the piss. (insert punchline here................)

I exited, doing my utmost to look casual and carefree, trying to make it look as though this was just ambling through a park and enjoying the view, as if I wasn't looking for the toilet and hiding the test tube type thing so that other people wouldn't see it.

The toilet was there. The Doctor had told me that I could do the sample at home if required, then drop it into the surgery, but I knew that would mean a test tube full of pee in my fridge until I could be bothered to go back to the surgery to hand it in. It had to be done there and then.

I locked the bathroom door, checked it, then checked it again. Then I opened the test tube sample thing and stared at it. It stared back at me with a "what you looking at?" expression. Had it been a "what you looking for?" expression then the answer would have been easy; instructions.

I was lost. What the hell? Should I place the test tube, which incidentally reminded me of the container that my Dad's old vinyl record cleaner used to be held in, under the RD willy and pee? Or do I pee, then scoop up a sample from the puddle? I figured the scooping up option wasn't really the way forward.

Should I kind of pee first, then whack it under the pee mid flow or should I hold it under the aforementioned willy before beginning the pee. Then, whichever of those options I chose, I didn't know if the container should be held right at the end of my willy with no gap, or whether one leaves a gap, hoping the aim is true.

Estimating volumes and heights isn't one of my strong points. So, when urinating into a container, I wondered if there'd be a sudden gush and the thing would be overflowing with the amber nectar before I knew what was going on. Was my muscle control good enough? Frankly I didn't think it would be.

After much thinking, some smart and quick mental exercises that someone incredible like Mervyn Silva or Anarkali would be proud of, I decided on the following options.

1. Hold container on end of willy
2. Pee.
3. Stop when, more accurately if, the test tube gets full
4. Continue peeing into toilet until bladder appears empty, desire to pee stops or surgery closes for the day. It was only about three in the afternoon but one must think of all possibilities.

And the plan worked. Of course I had to finish the job whilst holding the open container full of pee in one hand and the RD member in the other. That was awkward as neither is a comfortable one handed job.

I finished, chucked the container in the plastic bag I'd been given and wandered out nonchalantly to the reception area. I was surprised that the sample felt warm, I didn't know pee was warm and, were I so inclined, I reckon I could have used it to make a decent cup of tea, perhaps coffee or any other hot beverage of your choice.

I stood awkwardly behind another woman holding the thing. Then, when it was my turn, I gave it in to the receptionist. She took it with an air of unfazed indifference. I felt hurt. Had she known the turmoil I'd sufferred, the angst and the anguish I reckon she'd have treated it with far more respect.

And off I went.

So, with my apologies for the level of detail, though with the belief that it was entirely necessary to tell you the story, I bid you a good weekend.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

The Most Efficient Building In The World

I've been thinking on this important issue. There are only two possibilities and I can't decide which would be the winner.

Is it the German Embassy in Singapore?

Or is it the Singaporean Embassy in Germany?

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

All About The Clocktowers

I'm old enough to remember when Premadasa put in the clock towers in villages and towns all around Sri Lanka. I think it was a good idea but just can't figure out exactly why.

On my most recent sojourn to Serendib I noticed that many of the clock faces, some of whose hands hadn't moved for a good few years, had been replaced by nice blinking and sparkling LED digital displays.

A little google action led me to this article, which explains that it's a joint venture between Dialog Telekom and the government, or something. Why the Telekom is spelled with a K instead of a C is indeed a mystery, one that I hold dodgy Europeans, those types who corrupt the Queen's English, solely responsible for.

After seeing a few of these new digital clocks I realised that they had stirred something within me, it wasn't a simple matter of old and defunct clocks being replaced by new ones. No, these new digital fellows had triggered a deeper message, one that perhaps only was being received by me, maybe because of my feelings about digital time displays compared to analogues.

You see I'm into watches. For many years I've liked them and been a fan. That's not to say that I've got a massive collection of them, that I buy a new one every half hour. No, I just like them, I pay attention to the watch that a person is wearing and I own a few, though none of those really expensive ones.

The difference between analogues and digital is significant. An analogue one (that's one with hands for those that might not know) gives us an overall view and sense of time. A glance at it will give the wearer a feel for how much time has passed and how much is to come. We look at the display and see that it's twenty to nine, thereby telling us that there's a spell of twenty minutes to go until nine o'clock, or that forty minutes have elapsed since eight.

It doesn't give a "reading" of the current time as easily and accurately as a digital watch, which clearly shows the now, the hours, minutes and seconds of the present. A glance at the hands on a watch or clock leaves our brain to do the work, to translate the exact location of the hands into the time. A glance at a digital display only requires us the read the numbers and we have the time. There's a difference, one that I often think about. I'd bet that you don't, you've probably got far better things to ponder on.

But, what struck me about these new digital clocktowers in Sri Lanka, is that they're a metaphor, perhaps a reflection, of the way many people are thinking. Many are set in the now and are focussing on today, on the opportunities and possibilities that peace may bring. It's not that they're forgetting about the past, just that they're, well, putting it in the past. I'll leave it to you to decide if that's a good or sensible thing to do, we all have our opinions on the matter and we won't change them because of someone else trying to persuade us.

Every time I passed through a town and saw one of these clocks proudly displaying the time in its flashing red digital way I thought about the fact that they showed the moment, the moment that existed as I was there. There was no indication of what had gone before and what was to come.

Is that what Sri Lanka has become?

And, if it has, it is good or bad, or both?

Monday, October 5, 2009

Lankan Advertising - Bloggers Are The Answer

Talking about advertising in the Lankanosphere's a risky business. One wrong word and there'll be a gang of creatives chasing me down the street brandishing their MacBooks in a threatening manner. Hair dye and tattoos will be flying all over the place and it'll be the only time the many pairs of Nikes ever get a run.

Comparisons, like I believe a good buriyani should be, are fruitless. I know that people chuck raisins and all sorts on a proper buriyani but, as far as I'm concerned, fruit is for fruit salads and desserts. And I try not to compare so many things in Lanka with things in the UK, it serves no purpose and does no good. It's far better to try to accept things in each country as they are, with none of that getting hung up on why x might cost so much more in Serendib than it does in London yet y costs so much less.

Sometimes though, I just can't help it and the world of advertising is one such instance. I peer, gaze and observe the Sri Lankan above the line advertising with curiosity and interest. I wonder why, how and what makes the press, billboard and TV ads work there (here) compared to how they'd work in the UK. Is it unfairly patronising to say that the Brit consumer is more advanced in terms of his exposure and mindset towards advertising?

The great love God Jack Point wrote this post only the other day about some of the radio ads hitting the Serendipitious airwaves at the moment and I think many feel the same about ads on other Lankan media.

If it is patronising then I offer my apologies, but it is what I feel. It's also coupled with my feeling that the UK has one of, if not the most, innovative and imaginative ad industries in the world.

There are two distinct and segregated markets within Sri Lanka. For the sake of convenience I'll call them the rich and the poor.

The rich, that Colombo 7 international crowd, often educated overseas, well travelled and with more disposable income than the entire population of Monte Carlo, are well used to Western consumersim and advertising. When they have to they shop at Odel and wouldn't be seen dead in Majestic City unless it's to go to KFC.

There is one fellow, who used to live in Dehiwala but hasn't been seen for a few months, who makes up the entire Sri Lankan middle class. The rest of the people are the poorer and lower class chaps, the "man on the street" who the advertising on the street is aimed at.

Looking at the Lankan ads made me realise that, if the agencies have got it right, an assumption I'm happy to make but many might argue with, the man in the street is a sucker for the celebrity endorsment. Every other billboard seemed to feature the image of a cricketer beaming at me and waggling a chicken sausage temptingly. The next one would be the same cricketer swigging a bottle of Coke or any other soft drink you care to name, the next would be noodles, oodles of them.

In fact it's a surprise that Mahela and Sangakkara aren't a couple of fat blokes who permanently need a runner, what with the amount of Coke, chocolates and general crap they quite clearly eat all the time. A diet of all that rubbish is evidently not helping Mr Sangakkara at the moment, that's for sure.

In other places there's a smiling old bloke persuading us to buy a biscuit that he loves, or a harrassed housewife struggling to juggle the demands of a busy worklife with feeding a couple of insanely happy, smily and unmoody kids. Of course the answer to all her woes is chicken sausages, noodles and salad all washed down with Coke and chocolate. How ridiculous is that? I ask you, who eats salad these days?

You Lankans are yet to find out about the perils of salad, what with all the censorship and all but, in some parts of London, possession of salad is a serious offence. Some burger places try to hide it in between the burger and the bread but it's rare and discouraged.

But, criticisms aside, people are the attraction in Sri Lankan advertising, unless of course these ads don't work. So I reckon the time has come to get bloggers involved, to decide which bloggers would suit which products.

For starters I think the combined power and sheer wordiness of the Lankan blogging diaspora, yes me included, should write about ninety nine per cent of the tourist board's copy. Ask DD to write some prose to get Suddhas to Serendib. In fact, forget Small Miracle and Land Like No Other, let's use Suddhas to Serendib as the slogan. They won't know what it means until they've been anyhow.

And there are other products that are crying out for the endorsment of the more well known members of the Lankanosphere.

If you sell maps, or own a small search engine with lots of Gs and Os in the title then you need.......... Cerno to endorse your product, though many think that this has been going on for a while as it is.

There are vacancies that need your input. I'm thinking condoms, the extra large ones as well as the extra small. Who could step up to the challenge in the blogosphere?

Dodgy clothes, any suggestion?

For a small fee, perhaps a lifetime's supply or similar, I'd be willing to advertise Barefoot sarongs. I just thought I'd mention that one now.

Ladies' products of the, ahem, you know, feminine variety, who'd appeal to you women, who'd make you switch brands?

Drug awareness campaigns, who could be the figurehead, the person who'd make kids want a clean and drug free life?

Ideas would be most welcome.

Have a spiffing Monday and an even more fantastic week.

Friday, October 2, 2009

Make My Way Back Home......

....and learn to swim.

It just wouldn't have been the memorable and kicking song it is if the Foos had called it that, would it?

But it's what I'm going to be doing on Sunday. This swimming nut is one that I'm determined to crack. I've mentioned it to you before but, at forty three, I possess swimming skills that are about as much use as a one legged man at an arse kicking party, though I mean no offence to one legged men or arse party organisers when I say that.

It's just that swimming for me has never been the enjoyable and relaxing drift leisurely around a pool and tone up the muscles while enjoying the view thing that it is for so many. A width of a pool is something I can do, but it involves huffing and puffing like I'm a chain smoker trying to run a marathon.

I can't get through that barrier of trying to cover as much ground, or water, as quickly as possible before I sink so it becomes a blur of urgently swinging arms and desperately kicking legs. I have spoken to the Gypsy about this and she has agreed that, should she ever see me drowning, she'll think about saving me before she saves herself.

Frankly that's not much of a plan. It would mean taking her everywhere with me and even that's only if she agrees to save me.

Before I came to Lanka a couple of weeks ago I bought myself a book on swimming, not about the history of it and whatnot, this is about how to actually do it. The blurb seemed to describe me, without mentioning the witty, good looking and intelligent aspects. It said that the book was for people who could swim, but with my level of incompetence.

I read the first chapter before hitting the motherland and my first splashabout was mind boggling. Things happened and I immediately felt more relaxed and less stressed in the water. Which was nice. But, after that progress was stunted, limited and bloody hard work.

Call me old fashioned, though please not in relation to my sense of fashion and style in general, but I don't think a book is the best medium for learning to swim. It's better than nothing for sure, but reading a bit from my lounger then jumping in the pool and trying to recall what I've read as well as actually doing it, just isn't easy.

Most of the time I'd forgotten the instructions once I got in the water. When I did remember them I was usually so busy concentrating on saving myself from drowning that I'd forget all thoughts of learning to swim. This is the key to my problem; that the swimming bit is easy, if not for the survival issue.

I persevered in Lanka though and my skills definitely got better, just nowhere near the level required by me.

So this Sunday morning, for three hours, if you so desire you'll catch me at a public swimming pool somewhere in the London area having a private swimming lesson. The chap says on his website that he'll give one to one instruction, that he'll be in the water with me at all times and that I'll go away with loads of things to work on that will help me to swim like a fish.

I'm excited about it but also a little bit nervous. The nerves are mostly at the thought of six year old chav kids steaming past me and laughing at the old bloke struggling and huffing. Or the instructor perhaps telling me that I'm just not destined to swim. Does that happen? I know that languages aren't one of my strong points, nor is art, but can swimming be one of those things?

The excitement is a massively positive feeling that the three hours will break the back of the problem and that I'll be a committed, relaxed and confident swimmer afterwards, that I'll be able to swim with my kids and not have to worry about drowning and being saved by one of them, particularly K, who'd probably make me sign a form agreeing to a raise in her allowance beforehand.

That's what I'll be doing on Sunday. I'll tell you how I got on.

Happy weekend all.