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What's a blog part 2
What's a blog? #1

   Friday, January 10, 2003  
comics #2

Sophie Crumb is ace.
   posted by *mcb* at 8:24 AM



One thing I've decided about the GG comics this year is that I'm going to take a much more icon-based approach. I'm going to develop a library of Grumpy Girl expressions and the text is going to be straight HTML. This will mean that I don't have to spend quite so long on making the comic strips (as it was really starting to take up most of my time last year.)

However, what I'm also going to do is rework some of the comics from last year so that they are more graphically rich. My loose thinking at the moment is that my final project will be a kind of "online guidebook" to blogs and blogging based on my research and discoveries over the time of my MA. This will include the worked up / revised comics.
   posted by *mcb* at 8:19 AM



Petite and I had dinner at Chocolate Buddha last night (a new place in the Fed Square complex) which was very nice. Walking home we got into a discussion about different types of brains and why it is that some people find it easier to think creatively while others seem think mathematically or scientifically (or any combination of these.)

I told her about what I've been working on recently- cutting testimonials together of school kids talking about their experience of using a particular software package. This program has a 3d interface with 3d scenes and objects. The objects can be "swatched" with different colours and patterns.

The kids were asked what they liked best about the program. Most of the boys said they liked the 3d element and the fact that everything looked so "real". The girls said that they liked the swatching element, so that they could change the look of the pre-formatted objects.

Petite and I puzzled over this and I guess there is no easy answer for why there seemed to be such a clear gender distinction. The thing that they all agreed on, however, was the animation aspect. They all listed it as one of their favourite parts.
   posted by *mcb* at 8:13 AM


Blow Up
Thieu's nephews were in Adelaide with us over Christmas. One morning I found myself watching daytime television with them. I knew this was not right. They should be playing and enjoying their youth. I should be helping them to do so. Everyone else had gone out and I felt momentarily panic striken.
Thieu was in the toilet.
I went and stood outside.
"Thieu. You have to come and help me entertain your nephews." I said.
"I'm busy right at the moment" he said. I could hear the pages of The Readers Digest turning. He could be some time.
When I returned to the lounge the boys had found an old air pump.
"What can we blow up with this?"
I looked around desperately. Nothing.
"How about you blow me up?" I said and, ignoring their scornful faces I grabbed the end of the pump in my hand and flopped onto the ground. Deflated, but ready for action.
Doubtfully, Jordan pumped once on the air pump.
I inflated a little.
He pumped again.
I inflated a little more.
This continued for some time until, cheeks bulging, I could inflate no more.
I let go of the pump and spun around the room, noisily exhaling air, before coming to rest, finally, in a crumpled heap pretty much where I had begun.
The nephews were impressed by my comedic skills and I received encore after encore.

Jordan looked at me when the performance finally came to an end and said "How old are you?"
   posted by *mcb* at 8:00 AM


   Thursday, January 09, 2003  
What they make me do at work

Yesterday I had to be filmed staring right into the lens of the camera (which was about 2 inches away from my nose), pretending I was typing at a computer.
Not because I have any talent as an actor, but because I was still there at 5:30. I was, to tell the truth, a human grey card and nothing more.

"Sit up straight."
I am sitting up straight.
"Now. You've just successfully logged on. Look happy."
(Raise eyebrows. Smirk.)
"OK. Now you've noticed that the boy you like has also logged on."
(Raise eyebrows more. Smirk more.)

And then for the rest of the afternoon, there my big face was on the tv screen behind me, smirking and raising its eyebrows, endlessly.
   posted by *mcb* at 8:12 AM


Masters / Diary
To Do List:
1. get new backpack and put "the fridge" into permanent retirement
2. buy DEET and look for my mosquito net
3. think about what I'm going to teach Heighty's class when I get to Cambodia (book to take? Text books for their library?)
4. fix up the side cells on this blog's template + look at why GG blog has suddenly stretched
5. add Questioning Ant's column + email
6. discover why I can't get the comments to work
7. finish reading "Small Pieces Loosely Joined"
8. hand in MA proposal before Feb deadline
9. make a definitive list of things to take to Cambodia
10. work out what I'm going to do now that Blogspot won't let me upload any new images
11. remember to pay Feb rent before I go
12. get the things Heighty has requested
13. think about how I'm going to approach the Grumpy Girl chats for this year
14. print out my research questions and stick them on my computer
15. make new image for header of template
16. make and upload some GG and QA "icons" that I can access while blogging in Cambodia
17. get timeline / bibliography up to date
18. get traveller's cheques
19. get US dollars for visa on arrival
20. get passport size photo
21. Ask Sensei about enrollment details
22. why stats not working?
23. fill in insurance details
   posted by *mcb* at 7:41 AM


   Wednesday, January 08, 2003  
New Year's resolutions based on spam subject headings
defective yeti
   posted by *mcb* at 1:41 PM


I kill me

Yesterday, in the car, I was telling Shell about a friend who works as a rock-climbing and abseiling instructor.
"Does he enjoy it?" she asked.
"Well, I think he finds it a little up-and-down" I said.

(and then I pretended I'd meant to say this all along.)
   posted by *mcb* at 1:35 PM


Another Shoebox

[ S H O E B O X E D . C O M ]
   posted by *mcb* at 10:57 AM


Taxi Philosopher

On the way home from dinner at Les Docteurs the taxi driver tells about his world view.
"I don't believe in coincidence" he says, turning onto Orrong Road "No, everything happens for a reason."
I concentrate on the road, somewhat unnerved.
"There's no point trying to change your destiny, fate will catch up with you in the end."
His words remind of how the buses in India often have a statue of Ganesh in the spot where the fire extinguisher is meant to be- the rationale being that if you are meant to die you will and the extinguisher will not help.
"I'm not angry at my wife for leaving me" the taxi driver says "no. Not at all. I understand that she had to do what she had to do."
We turn into Dandenong Road.
"She thought I lacked ambition but she didn't realise that I had lots of plans. I wanted to start a business."
"Turn left here" I say, sympathetically.

We drive past the cemetery on the corner. The taxi driver points at it.
"You know, people who live around here aren't allowed to be buried in that cemetery" he says.
Really? How strange. I voice my surprise. "Why not?"
"Because they're not dead yet."
Ah! Nice one. You got me. Very good.
Now, just drop me off here.
   posted by *mcb* at 7:43 AM


Diary- link
This year, because of the drought, the ducks get a reprieve.
   posted by *mcb* at 7:28 AM


   Tuesday, January 07, 2003  
Masters- link
Saying little, but waving madly

The latest post on ~jazzy hands~ discusses the difficulties of expressing in words exactly what is it you want to say. This neatly dove-tails with an email Sensei sent me this morning.

"Apparently when humans talk to each other, we spend about 10% of our effort dealing with the actual language of what is being said. 30% is spent just interpreting the tone and level of what is being said. The rest
- a sizeable 60% - is non verbal communication. Body language and the like."

I wonder if it makes things easier or harder when we communicate via Blog (or any other written format, of course) rather than through speech? With writing all the emphasis in on the words and we are not able to be distracted by the person who is talking. But it also means that we miss subtle cues from the 'talker' that might, in conversation, indicate what the author is really trying to say. (or what they are trying to hide.)
   posted by *mcb* at 4:18 PM


Brevity, Continued

An email from Boynton has led me to rethink my position on brevity. Ms Nom de Plume is absolutely right in saying that sometimes longer posts are perfectly acceptable if the writing isn't too heavy-going. And yes, it's true that brief posts can on occasion seem truncated or understated.

Perhaps, as with most things, really, moderation is the key. Short posts, long posts. I know that often on visiting a blog for the first time I scroll up and down the screen, just to see what I'm in for. There is undoubtedly something reassuring about a page that has a balance between short entries and lengthier ones.

Stating the obvious? Yes, well, probably.
But I have an excuse:
It's practically a heatwave here today.
The bananas I bought green at the Turkish shop were ripe by the time I got back to work, merely half a block later.
   posted by *mcb* at 1:53 PM


Masters- link
Writing Like a Wanker

Like Mark I read this article: How to Write Like A Wanker with a certain amount of wincing, hoping that I am not guilty of too many of the listed writing crimes. I know that I do make the occasional spelling error, but I correct them when I see them, really I do.

Finding the article to be a little aggressive (the product of frustration on the writer's part, I acknowledge) I found myself musing on what it is about the web-writing that I like immensely that makes it work. It's a hard thing to pin down, as often it just comes down to whether or not you respond to a voice.
But a few things- small, trite, obvious things- that I've noticed are features of the blogs I read:

1. brevity. Short posts are easiest to read. But I also like it when a post that is longer has a "more" link at the end, so if I'm interested I can go on and read more. At the other extreme, I get bored by (overuse of) the one line + link format. It seems a bit, well, lazy.

2. variety. Like the pull exerted by a box of family assorted biscuits I am drawn to the blogs that have a mix of subject matter- something about what they are working on, something about what they've been doing, some commentary on what's going on around them. And fresh links, to local things or things of direct relevance to the author rather than things straight off (I struggle with this one myself, I must admit.)

3. personality. Subjective, yes I know. But occasionally I'll find myself starting to say "Someone was telling me about that the other day" and then I remember it was in a blog. I like that. It means that the writer has a voice that has struck me as natural and unaffected.

4. showing the workings. Like a trip backstage I like that blogs where I get to see the path the blogger is moving along. Less like a newspaper column, more like a conversation or a notebook.

Oh dear.
I think I'm starting to sound like a wanker.
Further workings to follow.
   posted by *mcb* at 8:02 AM


   Monday, January 06, 2003  
Diary- link

I'm reading a lot of dervala's blog at the moment, getting some insights into the country I'll shortly be visiting. I'm going to do a class with Heighty's students. Perhaps I should introduce them to blogging? I did a search a little while ago for Cambodian blogs and couldn't find any at all.
   posted by *mcb* at 12:26 PM


Masters- link
Pepys' diary
Pepys’ Diary: 4 January 1660

I wonder how, exactly, one is "merry" with a piece of Cheshire cheese?
   posted by *mcb* at 7:58 AM


The world, a bowl
I finally visited the new Federation Square complex on Saturday. Thieu and I were most impressed by the art gallery and I was particularly taken with a gorgeous Fiona Hall piece on the top floor. Thieu went to play squash but I was drawn back, inextricably, to view the ACMI exhibition:Deep Space : : Sensation & Immersion.

Many of the exhibits involved standing in a queue and I did not care to queue. But I wandered into one room which contained work by Lynette Wallworth which I loved. Projections from the ceiling that could only be viewed when you held a bowl beneath the beam. And then, fish flickered through your hands, skies fled past, water splashed.

On the tram home Thieu and I discussed what work we would make if we were Conceptual Artists. I chose to make a Storm Room. Thieu's I can't tell because it is a secret.
   posted by *mcb* at 7:34 AM


Allan Karl
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Hit Those Keys
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One Word
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She Sells Sanctuary
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