renewal and fulfilment

Anita bought me a present yesterday, for no particular reason other than that she's a lovely friend. It's a rune stone engraved with two norse runes which are apparently the 'cattle' and 'wagon' runes: "Foeh" (which looks a bit like an angular capital F) "attracts wealth and the good things in life, but includes a responsibility. It also represents the fulfilment of ambitions and love" and "Rad" (a pointy capital R shape) is the "symbol of a safe journey, physical or spiritual, and invokes a change in the wearer's ideas or ways of doing things. A sign of coming renewal"

I guess this is as open to interpretation as horoscopes, but I like the timing and context all the same: right now there are a lot of new things on the horizon in various senses... the last year has been all about building a place to be, making a home, and now that it's (mostly) made it feels like time for some 'journeying', having a talisman to take along with me is comforting.

thanks again 'nite
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a break in the cloud.

My observations on the weather this morning were closely linked to my mood: see I met someone on Thursday night, someone who might just possibly maybe be someone... it's very very early days yet and there are complications (aren't there always?) but to say that my first impressions of him are impressive would be an understatement: I haven't met anyone I've felt this comfortable with, and excited by at the same time, in far too long.

anyway, we'd arranged to go for lunch today, loosely arranged that is, and when I called to confirm on Monday night he didn't pick up... hm. most of my head thought (quite naturally) that something had come up, but a tiny speck of emotional cumulo nimbus appeared all the same: condensation from the little dark lakes of self-doubt that sit out of sight in the shadow of the large still peaks of a quietly confident self-sufficiency. (why strain a good metaphor when you can break it eh?)

by the time I was driving into work this morning it was decidedly overcast both inside and outside the car but in both skies there was a discernable scrap of blue. The cloud inside broke about 11 o'clock with an appologetic text message and a reschedule, and right now the sun is shining brightly even though it's well past sunset.
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"Under the Arctic fire, Over the seas of silence"

a great description of this little island of ours that. I noticed it lurking in a song lyric on my way to work this morning, while I was peering out through my rain-splattered windscreen at the Pentlands racing by. The sky here has reverted to its customary grey and Anita tells me that we've exceeded July's quota of sunshine, but in amongst the gloom up there there was a little fragment of blue which I needed to see this morning...
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this is *so* not what I meant...

Sometimes when my job comes up in conversation I end up explaining my view of how the traditional image of librarianship is dated and that in the 21st century librarian is (at least potentially) quite a cool thing to be.

Between the dynamic fictional librarians created by people like Pratchett and Whedon and the real-life metamorphosis of the profession being driven by the "Information Revolution" it can all make you feel quite good about an intimate day-to-day relationship with dewey decimal... and then something like this comes along!

reportedly the five inch tall plastic model is made with the intention of redressing the ballance of kids toys toward "under-appreciated occupations" but did she really have to have a swooshing "shh!" arm?
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archives

since I still can't get the archives to work (or rather haven't had time to sit down and fathom it out) I've changed them to monthly so that content isn't disapearing so often. hopefully I'll have them running soon
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*gulp*

my doorbell woke me this morning: recorded delivery post. The letter turned out to be a delayed notice that a piece of paper I thought I'd dealt with months ago, somehow hadn't in fact been dealt with at all, and that as a consequence I was in a legally and financially messy situation. Since customer service phone lines don't open until 8am I had to drive all the way to work stewing about this on top of the queasy morning feeling that comes from any such rude awakening.

It's all sorted now, but that was a really horrid start to the day and I didn't get any breakfast: can I go back to bed now please? :(
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pop!

Computers (like many other things) in my house have names, one of them is Gossamer who is the aged PowerMac G3 that lives in a cupboard and acts as the central fileserver for our home network, last night her flakey old main hard drive gave up the ghost. No back-ups so it all just blinked out of existence :(

We mostly just use Goss for holding backups of the two PowerBooks (Sparky and Artemis) anyway and since they're both running fine *knocks on wood* nothing from that was actually lost, however the house's central mp3 library was stored on that drive with no back-up - oops.

Replacements are on their way from Dabs.com as I type and happily hard drives have grown both bigger and cheaper since I set up the network meaning that for less than I spent first time 'round, I can afford to but two drives (each half as big again as the one they'll replace) to make a RAID array so that when this happens again I won't lose anything.
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normal service...

note: normal service will hopefully be resumed soon, but in the meantime (while blogger's posting is on the fritz) I've found a third party app called Kung-Log to post with - it doesn't seem to be too good with titles though :/

anyway Belfast has been great fun in a relaxed sort of way. In a rare fit of activity last night Pete and I sampled the delights of the city's gay scene in the shape of a club called the Kremlin. I'm not much for the scene as a whole but the Kremlin turned out to be a really enjoyable bit of escapism: the place itself was fun and (generally) so were the people, although I did once find myself being addressed with that most infuriating of gay club clichés: "go on, smile!" which always seems to come from someone with no apparent smile-worthy characteristics, and which frankly, pissed me off more than it usually does because I was smiling at the time!

Pete got tired by about midnight and left (after checking that I did in fact know how to get home without him) I wasn't remotely tired however and stayed on, dancing and chatting with complete strangers in that strange top-of-your-lungs way you have to in a club. I couldn't honestly say I met anyone but I enjoyed myself nonetheless.

I left at the end of the night (shortly after 3am) feeling a curious mixture of relaxed satisfaction and sadness: satisfaction at having spent the evening enjoying myself on my own terms as well as a sort of drunken self-satisfied smugness at being able to do that these days: I remember distinctly, being the younger me who used to go to clubs in Aberdeen looking for something I felt was missing... and I remember even more distinctly the Morrisey-esque feeling of coming home at the end of the night not having found it.

I couldn't quite put my finger on the source of this faint edge of sadness as I walked through empty night time Belfast trying to find a cab (all of which it transpires leave their lights on whether they have a fare or not here, frustratingly) but with my head cleared and the help of hindsight I think what made me a little sad was that, even though I can now go out to a club and just enjoy it for the uncomplicated distraction that it is, there's still a small part of me that would like to prove myself wrong by stumbling into whatever it was I was looking for back at University.
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building

Today (amongst other things) I visited the Belfast Botanical Gardens and the Ulster Museum. The day being marginally cooler than it has been recently lent itself almost perfectly to our chosen purpose of wandering aimlessly from the city in the morning, through to the elegant victorian streets and squares surrounding Queen's University Campus, and on to the gardens and the museum, while still putting on a full display of July sunshine for us to enjoy when we got there.

The museum is set into one side of the garden and most of it sits among peacefully formal city greenery, with one face pointing out into the red-brick elegance of this part of the city - this half of the building looks exactly as you'd expect a museum in a city largely constructed on the back of the industrial revolution to look: the usual nineteenth century grandeur of columns and cornicing enclose galleries of vaulted ceilings divided by arched doorways. However approaching (as we did today) from within the gardens, you see a quite different side of the museum.

Rising out of the leafy tranquility stands one of the most startling examples of brutal mid twentieth century architecture I've ever seen. Geometric slabs of untreated concrete appear to have collided first with each other and then with the rest of the museum. Among them are oddly placed balconies, peering clusters of narrow windows and, over the entrance, a surging up-turned wave of naked concrete which (like the rest of the structure) has taken on a strangely organic texture with the passing of years and rainwater.

Inside, we walked through airy display spaces and exhibits that knitted the two conflicting halves of the building to a point where it very quickly became impossible to discern which was which. A gallery of interactive light sculptures in fibre-optics and nylon led on through the velvet darkness of a special exhibit of nineteenth century sketches into stately galleries of classical oil on canvas.

At one point we moved from a series of excellent exhibits on the ancient history and pre-history of the province to a small contemporary exhibit on youth culture (in which I found a pair of black DMs identical to my own presented in a glass case identical to the ones housing mesolithic axes and arrow heads only a few galleries away). The display was simple and showed nobody present anything they hadn't already seen in the course of their everyday life, but the effect of re-contextualising the everyday was nonetheless quite affecting.

Afterward, back outside in the city under the watchful drone of the ever-present helicopters, I couldn't help wondering (given the context of my surroundings) if this divided city and province was conscious of this epitome of unlikely unity which sits within spitting distance of police stations still barricaded and barred by the trappings of decades of unrest.

(written 4pm 18th July - post delayed due to problems with blogger)
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clockwise...

just a quickie today: I'm off to Belfast this afternoon to spend some time with a very good friend, Pete. much long overdue catching up to do but first I have to get to Troon and catch a ferry... and guess what? I'm running late! happily I know myself and scheduled everything about two hours earlier than I had to but I still have to get a move on, just wanted to set the scene for posts to come.
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Life is good...

do you ever just get struck by how fantastic your life is? I'm having one of those days today: it's four thirty and I'm sitting typing this into my PowerBook in the dappled shade of the line of cherry trees that stand in front of the school where I work, the sun is shining in a near cloudless blue sky, birds are singing and I have one of those big stupid happy grins on.

it's not just today either: on Thursday evening I had some family up to spend the weekend with me - and as if that weren't enough of a lift, we decided to make a mad dash for the west coast and go camping just outside Arisaig. bliss!

of course the weather was awful: I mean it had to be - one of my guests had never really seen Scotland (the Edinburgh festival doesn't really count) and so naturally there was the Highlands 'baptism of drizzle' to be endured... but oddly enough, murky and driech though the weekend was, the showers had breaks in them long enough to allow us to wander on the beach with our beers before dinner, and again after dinner and a couple of hands of 'Rollmop' the clouds lifted long enough for us to sit out on the headland and chat into the evening surrounded by some of the most beautiful scenery in existence.

on Saturday, after a walk through the marbled white sand beaches of those parts, and a quick chip-shop lunch eaten on the breakwater at Malaig, we decided that one night under canvas in the rain was probably enough, and so allowed ourselves to be drawn home by the siren call of a Sunday spent eating toast and reading newspapers in my incredibly comfy living room... the plan was perfect except for the minor flaw of coming home via Loch Lomond on the same day as the Scottish Open! even so some comedy driving* (is she going to hit the car in front? or propel one of us through the windscreen by braking? or just start a 'mexican traffic jam wave' who can say) kept us all amused as did a car number plate game involving the phrase "penis milk"...

Back home, and by Sunday morning the sun came out, just so that I could prove that Scotland does have a summer, and we all managed to rouse ourselves into leaving the house by mid afternoon to soak up the sunshine and the (rather less spectacular but still quite pretty) South Lanarkshire scenery near my house... all in all it was a stunningly lovely weekend, and so far it looks like the rest of the week is set to be lovely too.

:)

*note: The person in question is in fact a very good driver, the comdey stunt driving was only brought on by intense boredom at sitting in a huge traffic queue behind hoardes of insane golf fans, and as such is completely understandable and not the behaviour of an unhinged individual at all ;)
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'rah!

and finally the rest of you can join in - yes the site is finally viewable by the great unwashed of the internet: Internet Explorer users welcome! :)

thanks to Owen for the much needed insight into where my messy html was fouling Microsoft's messy browser (for it is a messy browser, yes it is Hamish)
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something's missing...

I learned relatively recently that there's a handy psychological trick you can use on yourself when drawing and painting objects in the real world. It seems that our brains find it easier to accurately interpret the space around an object than the object itself...

just now this came back to me in another context and I started wondering if that same tendency crops up in other ways: for example if I'm low (which happily I'm not right now) I have a tendency to start defining myself by what I'm not, losing sight of all that I have got and focusing in on empty spaces, like the lack of a "significant other" for example.

in some ways we live our lives around the gaps: Going to work each day thinking about that promotion you're after, or daydreaming about the guy you saw on the bus and didn't speak to, or still sleeping on one side of an empty bed... it's often this stuff that makes us unhappy, so does this mean that the more accurately we percieve our lives the less happy we are with them? surely not.

I swear, contrary to appearances I really am in a good mood today, sometimes this stuff just pops into my head...
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pants on fire...

this weekend for the second time in as many weeks I found myself on a date with a fit attractive, engaging man who (part way through the date) announced that he'd lied to me about his age.

now before I go off on one - and you know I'm going to ;) - lets get one thing clear: I have no problem whatsoever with older men, in fact almost all my relationships have been with guys who were at least a couple of years older than me... in both the recent 'pants on fire' cases I already knew that each of them was older than me and I was OK with that, what I wasn't OK with was finding out that they weren't OK with just how much older they each were.

You might say that from the lofty heights of my 25 years I'm not really in a position to judge? that as a young man I couldn't possibly understand the social pressures of this youth obsessed culture we live in? well you'd be right as far as the specific circumstance goes - it naturally isn't part of my own direct experience, but lying about an aspect of myself is, as I expect it is for almost every gay or bisexual man or woman on the planet.

I understand all too well what it's like to feel that some part of yourself is going to repel people, or change the way they see you, and I understand better still that that feeling is something you grow out of: it's perfectly understandable to be chronicaly insecure about your identity as an adolescent, but as an adult?

I've owned every aspect of myself to a greater or lesser degree for years, and long since discovered that the people who really matter to me, the ones who actually love me for who I am, don't give a damn about incidental details like who I'm sexually attracted to, or how many years since I was born. The idea of lying about myself to someone I was hoping to form such a relationship with is baffling. I'm not expecting total disclosure, I don't need to know everything about someone before getting into a relationship, and I appreciate that some things take time to be comfortable sharing, but your age really should not be one of them.

bah.
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meow

I'm really not a cat person... that said I'm quite enjoying having Benny about, except for the fur that is getting everywhere (happily there are no carpets in the part of the house he's allowed in) he's really driving home how unfair it would be for me to have a dog though. Cats are supposed to be all independent, and yet he makes it very clear that he doesn't like being left alone, a dog would go out of its mind here *sigh* must find a job that lets me work from home...
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Friday again

how did that happen? where did my week go?

I suspect that an unexpected jaunt on Wednesday night is responsible for this - Lora (a good friend of mine who moved away to University a couple of years ago) turned up out of the blue (as is her wont) and announced that we were going out to celebrate her birthday ("I'm 20, that's so old" - now I know how other people feel when I moan about being the ripe old age of 25!)

celebrations included a fantastic Mexican meal (paid for by Lora's incredibly lovely parents) and copious quanties of alcohol, most of which was in the form of tequilla which is an evil substance that makes patricks very drunk indeed...

anyway so now I find myself at another Friday afternoon with another weekend stretching invitingly before me - 'rah! Some of the weekend will be taken up with entertaining an unexpected guest: my friend Jane's cat... anyone reading this whose eyeballs didn't just pop out at the idea of me voluntarily allowing a cat into my house, can wait for the (impending) publication of the revised 'ideas' section of splateagle.com and see what I think about cats as a species since that's what's on my mind at the moment and will almost certainly be one of the first posts.

Oddly enough, Benny isn't driving me to distraction, in fact he's quite a welcome adition to the house so far, which I guess goes to show that the rule about prejudice and the individual (something you can also expect to see linked into the ideas section very soon)

Happy Friday all!
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mmmmm pie

this is very silly
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sunshine on a rainy day

It's been a pretty rotten day today, for starters the Fireman on our calander isn't a patch on Mr. June, and to be honest for the 1st of July it's been quite unacceptably miserable weather too. Happily though, just now on the way home (late, of course) the day redeemed itself, and I'm starting to think that just maybe July isn't so bad after all: let me paint you a word picture...

I'm driving (something I enjoy immensely even on the worst of days) through one of the prettier stretches of South Lanarkshire. The road is winding its usual way through the drizzle and cloud that have characterised today when the sun, on its way south for the night, peeps out from below the cloud-line illuminating the rolling green of the hills around me in that warm yellowy pink light that's usually reserved for implausable holiday brochure photographs and coffee commercials.

It's still gently raining and the wet world around me begins to shimmer under the setting sun, as my iPod begins playing the tentative opening strains of Lemon Jelly's Lovely Weather for Ducks (which if you haven't heard, you really should).

As the track gears up to full swing with its quirkily optimistic mixture of guitars, voice, synthesiser and chirpy precussion, the sun makes its way lower into the clear patch of sky and casts its light long over the landscape, as if making up for its conspicuous absence today with one spectacular appearance.

The faintly unreal quality of the stretched out evening light throws the hillsides into sharper than natural relief, picking out their detail to the point where I can almost see individual blades of grass on fields that are miles away. As I round the bend onto the approach road for my home village, and Lemon Jelly lift Ducks into its wonderfully silly closing trumpet crescendo, the sun (now behind me) adds the finishing touch to the show with a short but brilliantly couloured rainbow which arcs up beside the railway bridge and over the fields behind, glinting briefly in the windows of my house as I pull the car onto the driveway.

Some days it is unusually good to be home.
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