I Love You

If you spend more than an hour on Social media a day it will be impossible to ignore the stupidity around Fandom at any given moment. I follow a number of people for whom the observation of other people’s obsessive desires and interests is not only a lifestyle choice, but a full-time career. It is hard to escape the gravity of negativity in any aspect of current existence, but when it emanates from stuff that’s supposed to be enjoyment and relaxation?

Except, with the smallest of shifts of perception, one can see all of this as just another attempt not only for all of us feel we belong, but to self-promote in an increasingly open and understanding environment. Not every meme is toxic, or perhaps a flimsy disguise in which you’re prompted to share personal data that might also double as password information.  Just don’t get me started on potential facial recognition scams, okay?

We all want to belong, let’s be honest. That’s all of this online stuff’s about, when you get down to the details. If you don’t need the benefit of a massive virtual following not doing Social media‘s hardly a reach. I can look at many people for whom that desire simply never existed, or those who’ve shunned the practice because privacy means nope, you don’t get to know anything at all.

In the modern world, of course, it shouldn’t take much to find out everything about someone if you really want to, and if you’ve ever been unlucky enough to be stalked online, you’ll know just how hard it is to remain truly anonymous. That’s where fandom’s truly insidious underside can become not just frightening but life changing… but for every negative, you can offset the damage.

I remember that fan who married one of her idols…

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You get to know over time the people to trust, then avoid. Someone from an old fandom haunt appeared out of the blue late last year, still hugely dedicated to his cause, still happily living the life they were decades previously… and this is why changes in orbit can end up so potentially damaging. The good people rationalise, are adult and move on. It’s the people who won’t change, can’t alter their outlooks that become the unknown quantities.

I’m in a particular fandom right now where people are split down the middle, thanks to the main protagonist in their fictional lives having assumed a new gender. There’s an indignity for some right now that a man they respected has become a highly attractive woman. There’s psychology at play that is difficult to reconcile, and this TV show is becoming an unexpected test bed for what happens when you stop giving all the best roles to white men.

Who knew so many people were that sensitive to change?

Let’s be honest, you’d need to be from another fucking planet not to grasp how some parts of society are woefully unprepared for what’s coming. We need more common sense, and far less stupidity, and if you resent actresses and people of colour in traditionally white male roles? You are part of the problem. Don’t worry, give it ten years and there’ll be no planet left for you to complain about… ^^

Maybe what needs to happen now is change, and not resistance.

The Vatican Museum

I’ve never been religious, neither are my parents… in fact, I’m pretty certain that God has never featured in anything other than marriages and deaths. Therefore it was with a sense of some discomfort myself and Mr Alt decided to visit the Vatican Museums on one of their Friday night ‘open late’ events, as it would certainly have been uncomfortable to do so during daylight hours. As it transpires, the humidity was an issue, but after a while this was forgotten as debate sparked, and then raged.

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This museum is a celebration of two things: history and religion. If my understanding of the history is correct, it wasn’t just a good life and pious deeds that got you into the Eternal Kingdom, but your service to the Church. Some of that was manual, but an awful lot ended up as material contribution. The entire building is the exhibition of that accumulated ‘wealth’: probably billions of hours of work, care and appreciation from all over the Globe. In the most crass terms, this is a storage warehouse full to bursting with God’s gifts from those who worship his wonder. To see it all, you pay a not inconsiderable amount of money for the privilege.

The irony part of my brain last night was having a field day.

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There are areas in this Museum where you cannot go, because it is still a church, and you are expected to dress appropriately… except last night many people didn’t and were still allowed in. Presumably after a while it doesn’t matter and you just take the money regardless. The Sistene Chapel, it must be said, remains an impressive example of religious devotion, but you cannot take pictures. I’m sure the low light levels will preserve Michelangelo’s legacy but still, half a mind flits back to making people buy prints from the Gift shop. Most ironically of all there’s a Priest stop outside which (presumably) is meant for Catholics who wish to discuss the significance of this work in relation to God. Last night, it was disappointingly empty.

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Love of family and others are obviously familiar sensations: doing the same to a non-corporeal being has always been difficult to grasp. However, with respect to those for whom this is both important as well as a significant part of their lives, there’s an awful lot of jaw-dropping devotion to task on show. The amount of time and effort placed into gifts puts modern day efforts to shame. However, and this for me was crucial, all of this remains very much a product of the ages in which it was created. I can wonder at the artistry at work, but am fairly confident that those making the items were very much not a representation of their era’s reality. All of this has to be considered in judgement: art is beautiful and awe inspiring, but unless it truly mirrors the society it is created within, it is not the whole story.

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It was, all told, a very interesting experience. There was only one complaint, and that is that the Ladies toilets are some of the most shockingly awful I’ve had to deal with on any foreign holiday. If there was going to be a metaphor for how I fit into the Catholic Church’s grand plan, this might be it. Making your church more welcoming should really be the order of the day, and if you could start by improving the little things, the larger stuff will end up being far less stressful…

Strange Days

About once a week I think, perhaps a bit less, someone who I know is fairly prolific on Social media will vanish. If they’re a sensible type, there’ll often be a précis to this along the lines of ‘I need to take a break.’ It is becoming the norm, rather than an exception, and denotes that an individual has, quite sensibly, grasped how much of a controlling influence this medium can become. There’s a reason you take rest days in exercise, can’t eat the same junk food for months on end without at least injecting some healthy food groups. Everything in excess is dangerous.

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However, this may not help solve that persistent unhappiness that’s experienced via Global group interaction. Social media is neither soft drug nor cranial stimulant. It is the equivalent of talking to someone for an hour whilst simultaneously doing something you either love, hate or really aren’t that fussed about. If you’re in a bad place, there’s a 50/50 chance it won’t improve your mood, and then you have another important decision to make. Should you rely constantly on virtual encouragement when, if the power went out, you really would be on your own?

Why do I see people constantly using it as a crutch when in reality a ball and chain is the more realistic metaphor?

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There’s the key: appearance. What you see as one thing is completely different to someone else. That’s why we no longer just have glasses of water in the future, you’re either full or empty and let that be a lesson to you, young lady. Do NOT stand in public places and decry anybody else’s opinions as shonky, lest ye be judged as shonky yourself, for the future is being listened to only if your follower count is over 9000 and you’re a registered Opinion Haver. We are approaching the last days of independent thought: algorithms are already blocking your Tweets as noise to the people you really care about. They’re already leaving Social medias because grown men can get them the sack just by having a Reddit group.

Seriously, this is the future of the Internet?

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We dodged the bullet in Europe in the last week over copyright, but they’re already reloading the gun. People in the US are already seeing their net being throttled and metered: it is just the beginning. We will look back on these glory day in a decade’s time (assuming we’re all still here of course) and wish we’d stopped wanking amongst ourselves far sooner. This will be a place where you need to pay for an opinion, and then negotiate the various paywalls in order to have any chance of being heard. If you want emotional support from friends, you can bet it will come with a fee and conditions.

The Data Apocalypse is coming: don’t say you were not suitably forewarned.

Deliver Me

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This week’s turning out to be quite the significant landmark. At 8 am I arrived at the location for a well-known reality TV show to begin a two hour health MOT, conducted with a nurse and a doctor, which involved me sitting on a static bike with a breathing tube in my mouth, plus a selection of other exercises and tests. The plan was to see how much better my health has become in the five years since the last time this kind of thing was conducted. The results, quite frankly, blew my mind.

That number, believe me, is a revelation. It puts me in the top 10% of people in my age group for fitness. Everything has improved since my last visit, the only exception being a slightly elevated cholesterol rate, but it is hardly cause for concern. I apparently have a stupidly relaxed resting heart rate and an incredibly efficient system for converting fat to muscle (which I already knew, but is lovely to have confirmed.) My grip, which I thought was average at best is apparently beyond good and into amazing. Mostly, what the two hours this morning did was confirm that yes, it is possible to get healthy from a standing start. If you make the effort and put in the hours, it can change your entire body for the better.

The only cloud on the horizon is my gall bladder, but the scan for this is tomorrow and assuming that everything is clear, I can stop pussy-footing about and get back to Hard Bastard Training. In fact, I suspect I’ll now have no excuse to avoid doing a Tough Mudder type challenge later in the year, which my husband got roped into by someone at work and was afraid of completing alone. I’m hoping to get working on the monkey bar traverse next week, which is my next major obstacle to overcome. Right now, I’m looking forward to everything that is going to be thrown at me, because I suspect exercise shit just got very real indeed.

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The biggest surprise is now being told to eat more each day to cover daily body maintenance. Because of my current level of exercise, I’m simply not taking in enough calories to maintain basic bodily function, which I have to admit explains a fair few things about levels of fatigue. There’s a couple of other issues to take care of too, but mostly I’m celebrating the fact that I have done what I set out to do, in almost exactly a year. Now I’m here, of course, I have to remain long term and not go backwards, and that’s always been the part of the equation that’s never been managed.

I can do this. I know I can. Here’s to the next year’s worth of progress.

Burn the Witch

There are moments in my life where, I find myself stepping back from everything and asking the question ‘was that the right thing to do?’ If I’m honest, I spend far too much time poking things that should probably be well left alone, but at that moment, undoubtedly it seemed like a good idea. Some of them are, other’s aren’t: welcome to the World of Constant Reassessment. This drives my husband absolutely insane, and I can understand why, but for me having that balance running is really rather important. I’m thinking now about the last person I interacted with, how it came down to a choice that someone else imposed on me whether I kept speaking to them or not. It was either one or the other, and being made to do that to begin with should have been enough of a warning sign. That’s not how you make friends.

Yesterday I took pretty much 95% of my Twitter blocks off. It occurs to me that at some point, you have to accept the fate you place in your own path by the actions that are taken. Blocking one person across all of my social media is never something I’ve ever had to do: it is, in effect a virtual impossibility to attempt to remove someone completely from your life, and as we continue down these virtual Internet pathways it will become apparent to people that trying to control a life is only as possible as the tools that are presented to defend yourself with. I will never be able to eliminate hate whilst hate still exists. You can regulate and monitor, and if the stuff becomes dangerous, you can attempt to cut it out but ultimately, the militants and extremists aren’t the real threat. It’s the normal people who have a ‘moment’ and lose the plot that are the real killers, because nobody saw them coming.

header51In fact, if I am honest with myself, none of the people who I’ve crossed swords with are insane, or dangerous. They’re just not compatible with me. That’s hardly a reason for hate or anger, but oddly it becomes both when someone needs to prove a point. I realise that, for at least one person, I became the ‘there was this nutter on the Internet’ story that they can pass around to their friends and make it so that when I come across them in random conversation, it becomes apparent they’re not listening, or prepared to let me even talk to them. Finding you’re blocked from someone’s feed who you’ve never even spoken too means that, somewhere along the way, you became the enemy. I find that the most sobering thought of all, in all of these considerations of past and present communication. I became the person you hated, for no other reason than you didn’t like what I was. Okay, that might be a tad simplistic, but the point is still worth making.

There’s one person I still regret losing, until I realised that I haven’t. The reason why they left was (I believe) that it was too painful for them to remain whilst I am what I am. As that’s not likely to change any time soon, they vanished from one part of my life, yet steadfastly remain in others, and this is a new concept I’m trying to grasp. I’d prefer that people took me for what I was, good and bad, but the Internet allows them to pick only the parts they wish. So, photography me (who is not bound by the same rules as Twitter me) is of interest to some, but not others. Twitter me conversely becomes of significance only to those interested in the range of tastes I peddle there, whilst this Blog serves as a conduit between the two. This means, in effect, I exist in many forms, which you need to combine in which to form a complete picture of my whole.

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This is what the Internet attempts to do: computers use algorithms to try and work out our tastes and interests on shopping sites and sell stuff to us based on our own habits and desires. Social media hopes it can use the correct forms of advertising to do the same with people, which is all well and good but only to a point. The complexity of humanity means it should be virtually impossible to match people on compatibility, yet virtual dating sites are doing just that, and selling themselves on their chances of success. Everything can be matched to you, but there’s a point where you ask whether that’s what you want, because as individuals mature, so do their outlooks and attitudes. The person you loved a decade ago could be your sworn enemy; if you changed because of them, it would be great if the algorithm caught up. As you change, then the world around you should do, but ultimately for many it never does.

I want to be the change I know I can be. The only way this happens is by being better than I was yesterday, and improving a little every day. To do that, sometimes you have to do things that scare you. Occasionally, you have to admit that maybe, you were the problem.

Today, I admit that, and move on.

Home Again

Without wanting to jinx it, I seem to have adjusted back to UK time with considerable more ease this time around than I did last year. I’m aware I owe you coverage of the last two days of Holiday, but I’m still processing a lot of that anyway (because content made me shift in thinking), and pretty much as soon as I got back there was throwing myself into gaming, tidying plus scrambling back on the fitness wagon. The best news I could have had from the scales this morning was what I got: I’ve lost weight, despite doing about 10% less exercise over the last 10 days than I do normally. Exercise and heat will have a lot to do with this, plus I maintained the 36 push ups a day regime throughout.

Needless to say, I have a ton of new headers to make tomorrow, plus a lot more besides and I’ll be starting early. I’m back, and you’ll get normal service again starting tomorrow :D

The Test

I had a lovely day out yesterday, in which a lot of truths were revealed about my progress in the last year. It seems largely appropriate therefore to list these for future reference.

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The biggest single obstacle to Progress is yourself.

If you want something badly enough, you can make it happen. I had a cracking argument about this on social media a while back, with someone who stated because they were too tall for something, I was just talking bollocks. Sometimes, you can’t argue with individual logic. Their way is the only path, like it or not. That is, undoubtedly, because the person has decided that there is no other way but this. There are those I know like this who can get away with it too, because their reasoning undoubtedly is a damn sight more sound than mine has ever been. For me, however, I’d been talking bollocks for decades and enough was enough. This was my biggest single problem, up until about (almost) a year ago when I scared myself shitless riding a bicycle across the Golden Gate Bridge. Suddenly, the World concertinaed out in front of me and I realised there was a choice: pretend for the rest of my life I couldn’t, or actually shut the fuck up and scare myself into progress, before I lost the chance. Most people don’t worry about shit like this, they’re out there doing it.

Now, I am one of them.

Yesterday I felt useful. I could contribute to a relationship, and be helpful. I wasn’t a mother, but a friend, and the moment mattered in a way that I don’t remember happening for many years. In fact, if I’m honest, this is the first time that, in the Real World, I think I’ve grasped everything that has to happen at once. Normally I’d panic about one thing or another but yesterday, I just was.

That’s a big step forwards.



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If it Hurts, don’t Stop.

Pain is normally an indicator it is time to stop. It’s your body’s very wise way of making you think twice and not do more damage. Except sometimes, your body lies, and with an overactive imagination? The World is going to end. A great deal of my physical progress recently has hinged on knowing that when it hurts, sometimes, you don’t stop. That’s the moment to go and dig deep, and move past the panic. Mostly, as an asthmatic, it is now grasping what’s an attack and what’s strengthening my lungs. That’s why yesterday I came out of the station, looked at the hill I’d normally slowly work my way up and thought ‘fuck it.’ Then I put on this piece of music, and I almost ran.

As I passed people struggling upwards, I pushed faster, and when I hit the top I didn’t slow down, but kept going. Before I’d only test myself in the Gym but now, I’m confident enough to extend the remit. Given the choice I’d far rather be outside anyway, and as the weather deteriorates I will do my utmost to keep walking to and from the Gym, to make the miles count on pavements and not treadmills. The mental clarity this process is affording is not to be overlooked either. I’m in a different place than I was, and I love the focus this process is affording. Now it’s becoming less about knowing what to write, but more around finding the time to do so.

I can live with that.


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Just Be Happy.

There have been, in the last couple of months, a lot of things that have vexed me. Many of these are completely beyond my control, but those that are not are being addressed. I no longer just sit by and let shit happen without consequence. I am confident fighting my own battles in a way I cannot ever remember being before, and as it happens, I think I’m quite good at it. No, it’s not perfect and yes, there is definitely room for improvement, but that comes from the continual process of refining and reassessing how I deal with the World, and sometimes asking politely it do the same for me. I’m not looking for validation nearly as much either, I just turn up and get on with shit. Giving things the finger has definitely, positively, absolutely helped with this progression.

Happy now is not needing the cake until such time as I can eat it without doing damage. It’s looking at work I wrote a year ago and knowing it’s good. It is understanding my judgement on things is never going to be 100% accurate but frankly, I don’t care is I’m still able to maintain a level of objectivity and comfort. Most of all it is sitting here, sharing this with the World, and being confident that is the right thing to do, because this has the potential to help someone else. I can’t tell you what’s wrong with your life, but I can use my life as an example of how things have changed, and will keep doing so for the foreseeable future. If you really want a different life? It could be possible, even in the dark place you currently inhabit.

The only person with the answers, ultimately, is you.