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Monday, 29 June 2009

A Vast Torrent of Wisdom

Google reckon (in the sense of knowing for sure) that every minute of every day, 270,000 words are written on Blogger. That's a remarkable figure. It would be interesting to find out how much of that gets read every minute-substantially less, I'm sure. This blog can't be helping the averages, for a start.

To get some readers it would help if I told my friends I'd started blogging. However, I'm reluctant to do that until I've got a reasonable body of work here. Readers I don't know would be okay, except that the chance of anyone finding this blog is almost infinitesimal at the moment. It takes a very specific Google search for even me to find it, and that's only when I include my name, at that.

Unvisited blogs like this do have one purpose though: people with nothing useful to say, but a strong urge to say it anyway, now have a good place to vent steam harmlessly, and nobody need ever listen to them. Just like this blog, at the moment.

Monday, 22 June 2009

Nobody Rings

My first mobile phone was a sort of family heirloom; I inherited it from my mother when she died six years ago. It had a pay as you go account, still with all of the original money credited to it from when she'd bought it. I'm not surprised, as it was an ungainly model, difficult to navigate through. I kept it with me for emergencies, switched off as the battery discharged at a prodigious rate.

A couple of years later I bought a more up to date model from Nokia. Much easier to use, lightweight, and kept its charge. (In fact I've just turned it on successfully after it's spent the last five months in a drawer.) I still kept it switched off though, using it just for emergencies.

You see, I had never felt the need to be constantly connected with the phone network. I get few enough calls on the landline, so what was the point in handing out my mobile number, and incidentally losing my peace and quiet? That feature of today's technology I was quite happy to miss out on.

But last year I realised that the newer 'smartphones' pack a considerable amount of processing power. For many years I've lived out of a PDA (first a Palm m105, then an HP iPaq), and couldn't do without their built-in calendar and address book, not to mention the task list, calculator, music player, etc. One thing about the set up bothered me: when I did have to make a phone call on the mobile, I had to first look up the phone number on my iPaq, then key it into the phone. But if I had a smartphone, the two would be combined, and I could just dial straight away.

And so, even though I barely used my existing mobile, I began to condition myself to realising I 'needed' a smartphone costing £300 or more.

Fortunately, deciding what model to buy was sufficiently confusing to stop me just leaping in and spending my money. It had to be able to play the music I download on my 'Napster to go' subscription (and try getting a definitive list of devices that can do that, even from Napster!). It had to synchronise with the Mozilla Thunderbird mail client on my PC (same problem). It took months of umming and ahhing before I finally settled on a Nokia N85. It can play my music, and it does sync with my PC, though not without several annoyances (I shall have words to say about the Mobile Master software in a future blog). It can pick up FM radio, download the web, take photos, play games. And it can make phone calls directly from my address book.

I set about telling all my friends my new mobile number, and waited for the calls to come flooding in. And waited, and waited. Turns out my friends have as much need to ring me as I have to ring them.

There have been moments of excitement. Early on a couple of times at work the mobile went off in my pocket (both times making me start), but it was just Orange trying to sell me extra features. And just last night it rang again, but it was a wrong number. "Is that H?" "No." "Are you sure?" "Quite sure?" "So ... you're not H who lives opposite the shop on whatsit street?" There was a time when a display of stupidity like that would have received some choice remarks about the caller's probable IQ range. Sadly, nowadays he'd be able to get my number from his phone's list of dialled numbers, and then maybe one day find out who I was via a Google search, so I just had to reassure him that, yes, I was quite sure of my own name thank you.

Meanwhile I continue to carry my mobile with me at all times. It's fun being connected.

Saturday, 20 June 2009

Birthday Greetings

Thought I'd post again before I run out of steam. Still no followers, I notice, despite having had this blog up for two whole hours. Maybe a tad over-optimistic there. However, since I set up a Twitter account I've picked up three followers, despite never having yet posted a tweet.

On the day of my 50th birthday I received an e-mail birthday greeting from, the Urban Legend site. What does this mean? And how did they get my birthday? Sure, I have visited them, but why did I supply my birth date? Maybe an urban legend in the making...

I also got the usual selection of cards, mostly with a '50' theme. One stood out: a fluffy teddy bear opening a present. Very nice, but about 42 years too late. Perhaps somewhere a small child is receiving a card with the words "You're never too old to be naughty!" on the front.

Going back now ten years, the day after my 40th I got a card signed by all the nurses at the local Health Clinic, asking me to come in for a Well Man Check. I dutifully went along, looking forward to the battery of high tech tests that would assess my life chances. They did a blood pressure test and a questionnaire. Although I wad doing no sports or exercise, the fact that I cycled the two miles to work apparently pushed me well into the safety zone, and I've never heard from them since.

Into the Blogosphere

It was my fiftieth birthday a few days ago.

Reaching 20 was no big deal. I was still at University, with few things worse than exams to worry about, and the rest of my life ahead of me.

Getting to 30 did cause me some soul-searching; it's harder to still think of yourself as young once you've left your twenties behind. But, I had my health, I was married now, and owned my own house. Life seemed on track, and the future still beckoned.

Arriving at 40 I was surprisingly comfortable about. Different house by then, and different wife, but the imminent prospect of starting a family kept me feeling young inside, so I could cope with having reached 'middle age'.

50, though, is much tougher to laugh off. For a start, if I'm still middle-aged, that means I'll have to make it to 100.

There's more: up to now I've thought of Saga holidays as an activity exclusively for a person's sunset years; now I'm allowed to go on them.

Worst of all, I've been officially reclassified as an ('older citizen'), with my own Assembly, and even my own festival, where presumably I can meet other 'old' people!

Well, stuff all that! I've still got the rest of my life ahead of me (albeit thirty years less of it now), plus most of my health, and I'm not going to start feeling old just because it's expected of me.

Chewing my muesli that morning, I decided it was time to start some new interests. And then, in a flash, I finally thought of a snappy title for this blog I'd been toying with starting. So here I am, taking my tentative first steps as a Blogger. I only hope I'll be able to live up to the high standards that implies.