Monday, January 3, 2011

My (belated) farewell to the noughties

I decided against creating any New Year's resolutions because I know that I will not be able to adhere to them. The goals I set for December was a huge disappointment: Running exercise seem to have hit a wall at 3km per day, I am still making the few staple dishes, this blog was hardly updated at all and I have made no effort towards touch typing at all.

What was the positive spirit back then must have escaped me, and I will blame humidity/government/arsenic/cosmic radiation. Apologies if this does not make any sense, it is not meant to.

The rest, you may ignore kindly.


Do you like crumpets?

Yes, I actually do. Crumpets are like beer or L&P: it tastes horrible at room temperature but like heaven when toasted/chilled.

So what are you doing here?

I am writing my first blog post in the year of 2011. The majority of readers reached this blog through search engines looking for specific information, you know, the objective stuff.  I am aware that my life is not exactly Shortland Street material and this is exactly another post about someone else's life that few would be interested in.

To sound like a grumpy old man is probably the last thing I wanted to do, however I am already losing grip on things that happened in the last decade. What I have crammed so hard for my last exams has already been completely forgotten and today I opened a book only to realise half an hour later that I have read the very same title four years ago. Psychology, I have long since learned and accepted memory as mutable and unreliable, however the experience still upsets me greatly. 

  “You see,” he explained, “I consider that a man’s brain originally is like a little empty attic, and you have to stock it with such furniture as you choose. A fool takes in all the lumber of every sort that he comes across, so that the knowledge which might be useful to him gets crowded out, or at best is jumbled up with a lot of other things, so that he has a difficulty in laying his hands upon it. Now the skilful workman is very careful indeed as to what he takes into his brain-attic. He will have nothing but the tools which may help him in doing his work, but of these he has a large assortment, and all in the most perfect order. It is a mistake to think that that little room has elastic walls and can distend to any extent. Depend upon it there comes a time when for every addition of knowledge you forget something that you knew before. It is of the highest importance, therefore, not to have useless facts elbowing out the useful ones.”
“But the Solar System!” I protested.
“What the deuce is it to me?” he interrupted impatiently: “you say that we go round the sun. If we went round the moon it would not make a pennyworth of difference to me or to my work.”

You can read all about everything and still not get, in fact you will never get it until the moment you live it. The people who wrote those books are not necessarily making things up like Neil Gaiman prefers to boast, instead they are relying on their own life-experiences and a certain degree of psychosis.

"What sets the ordinary apart from the extraordinary is the nirvana of literature, the state in which the characters acquired the ghosts of their own. For the authors had no control nor prediction to what will happen the next page, they had stalked their own brainchild with restless curiosity to every minor detail of their life. From Shakespeare to Balzac to Tolstoy, the sacred womb of creativity is no different to the obsession of the lowest voyeur."


Do you remember the first time you changed your tyre?

One's life is not complete without a tyre change, but that is not my point. The first time I changed a tyre I did so without help, which is not too hard anyway. You park the car on a flat piece of land, jack it up to free the wheels, remove the cover, unscrew the bolts and the rest should be self-explanatory. It would not have been such fond memory if it happened with someone's aid.

Asking for help is more humiliating than begging for money. I can read and search all night for the solution, however the acts to call for help  is to admit that you have failed to figure out yourself. Classroom learning is an issue, for teachers are hired to teach and a student's occupation is to learn; similarly I have no problems whatsoever calling a plumber because he get paid to get his hand dirty in my place.

For some reason people often come to me with their questions, and on numerous occasions these questions were so basic that I am annoyed and astonished at the same time, not only because the answer can be found on the first page of a relevant google search, but also they don't see anything wrong with a (by my standard) stupid question. I would have been able to get more done with the same amount of "shamelessness", right?

A “critic” is a man who creates nothing and thereby feels qualified to judge the work of creative men. There is logic in this; he is unbiased—he hates all creative people equally.

This is not quite the case: I don't hate creators; I am jealous. Not because they are better at what they are doing (some of them are, the others are not), but all for their seemingly inexplainable confidence in what they are doing.

Or probably we are all the same, just hiding it so well that we cannot tell from each other's faces.


If someone had told me that at the time, I would have laughed at him. Being unpopular in school makes kids miserable, some of them so miserable that they commit suicide. Telling me that I didn't want to be popular would have seemed like telling someone dying of thirst in a desert that he didn't want a glass of water. Of course I wanted to be popular.

But in fact I didn't, not enough. There was something else I wanted more: to be smart. Not simply to do well in school, though that counted for something, but to design beautiful rockets, or to write well, or to understand how to program computers. In general, to make great things.

At the time I never tried to separate my wants and weigh them against one another. If I had, I would have seen that being smart was more important. If someone had offered me the chance to be the most popular kid in school, but only at the price of being of average intelligence (humor me here), I wouldn't have taken it.

The predicament for me and the likes of myself is that we assume everybody else think and behave just like us: sensitive, considerate and calculated, yet they are not.

We all know that the world does not cease to exist when we close our eyes, however I suspect there had been plenty of thoughts and prayers, from people who lost all their will to live, that the sun shall not rise tomorrow if they die today.

I am not suicidal or trying to be vague-smug. Sometimes there are so many voices in your head to be let out. I must write these down, hence I write.

Do you like crumpets?

Not that it's any different from pikelets.