The Compostual Existentialist

Wordpress flavour with added crunchy bits


2018

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Postie Postie Post me Post

New Year, new post. Not that I get much post these days. The very few sparse items that Postie posts through the letter box end up being either a bill or an appointment reminder. It seems that social media, computers and the social cancer that is Facebook have reduced the need for communication with distant peers to a series of likes and half-arsed comments. Gone are the days of writing a letter, sticking it in a postbox and waiting eagerly for a reply.

If you remember, I started last year with a Facebook abstinence with only a brief jaunt back there to promote holiday news. The return ended later in the year after someone found the name Gnomepants objectionable and complained. Thus ending a 15 year presence, and nicely timed too.
Since being Facebook free I have been able to choose and consume my own choice of content using a mix of Reddit (r/stegzy) and reading around subjects on Feedly, Wikipedia and of course LJ. Indeed, I have now also realised that Facebook is the new smoking.
Think of a time when lots of people smoked. A non-smoker might sigh, wag their fingers and tut, exclaiming: “You’re killing yourself, damaging your health, your lungs and heart. Stop it!”.
But the people that smoked would often just laugh, shrug and smoke a packet of Benson & Hedges at you out of spite saying: “Yeah, but it’s not killing me noticeably yet and I like it”.
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I’ll have 20 Facebook likes please mister

I draw the same parallel with Facebook. Like nicotine it is addictive in many respects, the serotonin reward from liking things, receiving feedback and narcissistic forming approval, I can see the damage it does to the self if not to society as a whole (like passive smoking!). Yet I can see and hear the people laughing, pointing their fingers and saying: “Huh, yeah sure it’s doing damage but I can’t see it in my nice little enjoyable echo chamber”
Meh. Nothing I can say or do will convince over 4 million people.
During my free time, while my mind repairs itself from 15 years of Facebook abuse, I’ve been thinking about the good old days of communication, in particular, the lack of mail (electronic or other) that I receive these days from “real people” as opposed to spam and junk mail. Then something my parents once said to me rang true: “The only way you receive letters is if you send letters”.
As a result, I have decided that 2018 will be my year of writing letters. I will send, via letter, details that I would have posted on Facebook to people who, in the past, I might have communicated with solely via Facebook. This, of course, limits me to those people whose addresses I still know (or can work out), but I think it will be an interesting experiment. I bet they won’t reply.
Other New Year projects include
Getting fitter, getting rid of some shite that I don’t need and trying to get my finances under an even tighter reign, but more of that over the coming weeks/months. Of course, I have just had 10 days off work, so I might just be a little ambitious in that regard!
Other things being enjoyed at the moment include:-
Netflix
  • Manhunt: Unabomber
  • Star Trek: Discovery (I see you Clem Fandango!)
  • Travellers
  • Wormwo0d
  • Mars
Steam
  • Stellaris (a Civ clone set in space!)
  • Cities: Skylines (a SimCity clone)
  • Mini Metro
  • Prison Architect
Computery tasks and Internettery
  • Reading lots of Reddit (using the fantastic Apollo app!)
  • People’s fascination with Tulpas
  • Creating backup drives using old SATA HDDs I’ve got lying around
  • Continuing to go through the vast amount of digital photographs I’ve taken and tagging them
  • Toying with the idea of maybe continuing the Music Project
  • Listening to lots of “Suggested” music via Apple Music on iTunes (https://itunes.apple.com/profile/stegzy)
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Find me

The time has come. The moment has arrived. 13 years later someone on Facebook has decided that Gnomepants was offensive and needed to be changed. Of course, I could have kept the name had I been the keeper of “official documents” bearing the said name, but I’m not, so I simply won’t use it. No loss to me.

Since then I have been trying to find a replacement realm in which to lurk and read facile updates from people to whom I used to talk to face-to-face on regular occasions before the advent of social media and we all became anti-social. As a result I’ve managed to get back onto lots of old social platforms most of which, recently, seem to have had a population boom of millennials all not using Facebook. Sadly I don’t know many people in real life who use anything other than Facebook to launder the minute details of their lives and all the social media sites that are potential threats to Facebook’s dominance don’t allow the importing of friends list details from Facebook, thus ensuring Facebook’s dominance. But no matter.

I have rediscovered my Tumblr account, my Apple radio station (Listen in Apple Music) and that I’ve actually had a Reddit account for donkey’s years (https://www.reddit.com/user/stegzy) and even a Digg (stegzy) and del.ici.ous! (also stegzy) account wow! I’m so retro. As I’m also “in with the kids” you can find me on Flickr (stegzy.gnomepants), Instagram (https://www.instagram.com/stegzygnomepants/) and Snapchat too.

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Of course I’m still on the mainstream Social networks like (Twitter [@stegzy] and Google+ (also as stegzy) and also Ello and Diaspora (also as stegzy). Of course there is also Livejournal and WordPress (where I still post occasionally) and Blogger (http://stegzy.blogspot.com) which mostly features adds from Pocket and Feedly. I’m on video platforms like Vimeo and Youtube as stegzy too.

Hopefully using IFTTT will aggregate all my various social feeds to Tumblr and occasionally allow it to post to the Stegzy Gnomepants Facebook page (which Facebook have allowed me to keep for now). Alternatively, locate me on http://www.muckybadger.co.uk or http://www.stegzy.co.uk.

So there really is no excuse to not being able to contact me. Just don’t try doing it through Facebook, as I won’t answer.


Comprehension

imagesWhat do you say when you don’t understand someone? “Pardon?”, “What?”, “Please can you repeat that?” or do you grunt non-committedly and hope your vocalisation is interpreted as the appropriate response?
Maybe you contort your face into a half smile, the kind of facial expression that could be interpreted as a smile but can equally be seen as a grimace of pity or sincerity.  Maybe you half close your eyes to disguise your misunderstanding.

Does this happen when you communicate with non-native English speakers or those with particularly strong accents?

How about the written word? Does yous follow coherently the aspects of the authors graphical scribing or do your eyes skip over the page like a troupe of River Dancers?

Sometimes I’m like that. Sometimes it happens like this:

“Hey Stegzy”

“Hey!”

“mrmparhrn neramaeat pot noodle grmbn mrmmrph”

“Sorry?”

“mrmparhrn neramaeat pot noodle grmbn nermrmmrph”

At this point I do the half-smile nod-shake. Often this results in a confused look that I’m quick to detect so I quickly turn the situation round with

“Sorry no, can you say it again a bit slower”

This usually results in an exasperated sigh and either a slower version of “mrmparhrn neramaeat pot noodle grmbn nermrmmrph” or a slightly clear translation.

“My partner. Never eats hot poodle gravel nermrmmrph”

“Oh I see” I’ll say, part guessing what they’re saying or maybe just that the person talking to me is off their rocker. I’ll bluff and hope it goes away. They then say something like

“What do you think of that?”

At this point I’ll panic slightly, unsure of the correct convention to answer by. If I say something like “I totally agree” I might be agreeing to something abhorrent. If I say something like “I don’t agree” I might be coming out as some sort of heartless bastard. Usually I’ll go for the safe “I’m not sure” which makes me out as a non-committal coward but it’s often better that way. Of course there are times when I just admit that I didn’t understand in the first place.

“I’m sorry can you repeat what you said”

“My partner. Never eats hot poodle crumble mixers”

She doesn’t know what she’s missing out on.

 


2 Comments

Facebook: Real Names Policy – Intro

FacistbookRecently Facebook began enforcing their so-called “Real Names Policy”. You might remember this making the news back in September when Facebook began closing or suspending the accounts of transgendered people and drag artists who were not using their “real names” on their profiles.

After the wails of protests became too loud for the Facebook PR machine to quash, an agreement was made and some of the users affected were permitted to keep their chosen Facebook names. (http://bit.ly/14YEmTy) However, even after the apology, the Facistbook Facebook name policy police continued to crawl the site looking for suspicious names. No doubt using some hair brained algorithm which looks for commonly suspicious names.

Cat Woman isn't allowed a Facebook accountOften on Facebook, people create accounts for their pets and one of the more common Facebook profiles of yesteryear was Facebook profiles for cats. Profiles with names like Kitty Whiskers, Charlie Puss and other  feline similes would be common place. Similarly Doggy Woofwoof, Rover Dog and other animals were common too.  Facebook started to prevent such accounts being made but recently, two members of the Facebook community I know of who both have names with cat themes had their accounts suspended. So it seems likely that Facebook’s algorithm is working through its cat thesaurus.

Facebook’s terms of service state that people must use the same name “as it would be listed on your credit card, driver’s license or student ID.” Which is great. Except I know plenty of Mikes whose name on their driving licence says “Michael”, Jims whose passports say their name is James. Indeed, I know lots of people who don’t actually use their full name on social media because of safety, privacy and historical reasons.

stegzy_1398497700_140For as long as I have been on the internet, I have used the internet name “Stegzy Gnomepants”. Why? Because my real name is, quite rightly, none-of-your-fucking-business. I have been on the internet since 1998 using that very same name. Look for me on google, you’ll find my accounts everywhere. Stegzy Gnomepants. Occasionally Stegzonopolis Gnomicpantalon. Rarely some other variation.  It is my distinct expression of my personality. My expression of creativity. How I wish to be known on the internet.

This is what Edward Snowden has been trying to tell you for agesI also use the name because I realised long ago, the only reason people need your name is so they can compile data about you. Attribute demographic and personal information to form a picture about your personality and psyche. Your political beliefs. Your sexual preferences. Your needs. Not just for marketing purposes. But for sinister reasons. As dear old Edward Snowden pointed out.

There is no need to create a state like the DDR in former East Germany. Not when people freely give every aspect of their waking life to those who want it but don’t ask for it. That is the world now. There is no need to worry about people communicating anonymously when they are forced to use their real name on services they have tied to one identity. We’re being shepherded back into a society that thousands died to prevent 100 years ago. Technology designed to promote democracy is being used to control us. Prevent uprisings. Quash political unrest and difference of opinion. Exactly how Egypt and parts of the Middle East failed to do.

Where we are headingAnonymity causes people to misbehave. Anonymity allows people to do bad things. Anonymity allows people to abuse children. This is what those whipping up the pre-constructed moral panic are saying.

However, it’s the opposite. It’s anonymity that protects us from surveillance. Anonymity prevents abuse. Anonymity saves lives. Anonymity is a right. A way of life.

So, the axe is about to fall. The sword of Damocles may drop at any moment and over ten years of Facebook usage is about to come to an end. I will lose contact with friends I have made long before Facebook because that is how they communicate. I will lose memories. Fond and painful. Over the next few days I am intending to write about this situation. Discuss alternatives. Express distaste and moot alternatives.

Going forward. You can always find me elsewhere. Follow my comings and goings on WordPress (stegzy.wordpress.com). Tweet me on Twitter (@stegzy). Analyse my mind on LiveJournal (stegzy.livejournal.com). Say “Hello” on Ello (@stegzy). Flick me on Flickr (stegzy). Hell, if I’m on it, I’m on it as Stegzy. But as for Facebook. How long I am there is dependent on how quickly their police come for me. Enjoy my last days there. Because when they say stop. I will. By taking myself elsewhere.

 


Get out of my way

Maybe it’s because I’m a Londoner child of the urban zoo or maybe it’s because I’m an impatient fucker but sometimes people that dawdle really get me wound up to the point of rudeness. It takes a lot for me to get wound up so much I actually say something. Classic example is when in a queue in a shop and the person holding up the line (traditionally an old woman or something) is just holding up the line for no practical purpose. Or when after waiting for ages to get served at the bar only for the bar person to answer the telephone and have to spend the next 20 minutes looking for the manageress before getting back to serve me (“Oh I’m sorry, pint of what was it?”)

One of the things I noticed about living in Barnsley (and I’ll probably upset a teaspoon of people with this) was how nobody seems to be in a rush to get anywhere. Ok it’s not like your stereotypical Jamaica where everyone is sat round watching the world go by and generally taking their time. But its not far off it. Sometimes this can be really annoying and detrimental to health.

I used to get half an hour for my lunch. This gave me ample time to nip up to Secret Asda for the cash point or to grab a sandwich and get back to work before I’d taken a huge chunk out of my lunch half hour. One day I made errors. The first being “Should I go into Asda buy myself a sandwich, pay for it on my debit card and then get £10 cash back?”. I’m not fond of paying for things under a fiver on my debit card cos the shop gets charged and they hike their prices up or you have to pay a supplemental charge. So instead I opted for the cash machine.

As I drove into the car park I observed a workman making his way to the cash point so I adjusted my parking destination appropriately and calculated accurately the time it would take me to walk from the car to the cash point (allowing for people coming out of the shop) and coincide with the man finishing with the cash machine. Only I must have miscalculated. I got there and the mucky bugger was still there pressing whatever buttons he could. 5 minutes elapsed and I felt my lunch half hour draining away like the fullers earth of time. He was quite a burly stocky man so I kept my mouth shut incase he lamped me one. But I could feel the words “Are you composing a fucking symphony with all them button presses?” forming on my lips and tongue.

Fortunately he moved away and I noticed on the screen the words “Transaction Cancelled”, either the machine was broke or he was just an airhead. I gave him daggers in the back just to make sure he realised I was not pleased with his time wasting but he must of had hard skin or been totally unaware of other people because he didn’t actually look at me or say “Sorry for being a slow fucker” or owt.

Anyway, I gets me money and scurry into the shop. Grab a sandwich (Wiltshire Ham, Vintage Cheddar and Pickle baguette) and made my way to the check out. I had eaten approximately 8 minutes into my lunch half hour. It was then that I espied the queue. Only one checkout was open (it was a small Asda, kind of like Tesco Local or Jacksons by Sainsbury’s or Spa or Circle K or whatever) and it was manned (or womanned) by the elderly shop assistant. The elderly shop assistant is old. That is why she is elderly. The elderly shop assistant takes about 20 seconds per item to scan them into the barcode reader. Something like this:-

*pick up item*
*look at item*
*look for barcode on item*
*Straighten out item*
*look at item over rim of spectacles*
*hold item up to light*
*squint at item*
*look for barcode scanner*
*look for barcode*
*check item again in light*
*Squint at item again*
*swipe barcode on item past scanner*
*check item on display*
*hold up item to light*
*squint at item a third time*
*poke item*
*place item down*
*pick up other item*

This ritual takes place for everything she puts through. Sometimes she’ll even pick things up she’s already scanned and compare the items raised up to the light and all squinty.

Anyway, she had a queue of 3 people and the three people in front must have been doing their monthly shop cos they had shed loads of stuff. I could feel myself getting more and more wound up. Fortunately the next cashier desk opened up but before I could swap queues 2 people nipped in in front of me. That was fine, I thought, because these people only had a couple of packets of biscuits and some milk between them. But no! How wrong could I be? The first person knew the cashier personally and stood gossiping for 2 minutes while labouring to put a carton of milk into a plastic carrier bag. She then asked for a packet of ciggies. Ciggies need to be got from behind the counter that the elderly shop assistant was on but the other shop assistant stepped down from her chair, walked over and picked up the ciggies. I half let out a sigh of relief when the first customer had gone. All the while I’m watching my original queue dwindle.

By this time I’m twitching, my lunch half hour was draining away to a measly lunch quarter of an hour. The second shop assistant swiped the biscuits and the second customer then asks for a “Lucky Dip”. A Lucky Dip is a method for the government to make a shit load of cash by getting the general public to part voluntarily with their hard earned cash for a string of 6 lottery numbers which, as the lottery numbers are preselected a month in advance, won’t come up as winners, but might just give a false impression of hope. The lottery machine is on the same cash desk as the elderly shop assistant who at that moment is scrutinising a packet of Tampax. So shop assistant number two steps down again. Walks over to elderly shop assistants till, does the lucky dip thing and walks back to her cash desk. The elderly shop assistant then presses her bell.

1st Shop Assistant: Ooh Beryl. What code for these ‘ere? (Holding up a bag of mystery fruit)
2nd Shop Assistant: Oooh I don’t know aren’t they under 14?
1st Shop Assistant: I don’t think so they won’t scan right
2nd Shop Assistant: They never scan right those you know. I’m sure they’re under 14.
1st Shop Assistant: Do you think they’re under 14? I thought they were under 14 but they just won’t scan. Do you have a code for them Beryl.

By this time fiery death rays are leaping from my eyes and cutting down anyone who will look at me with fatal consequences. The man by the apples….dead. The kids pinching chocolate from the gondola end….dead and steaming. The innocent man passing the front of the shop window…..dead. The man in front of me….slightly scarred.

Eventually (probably 20 seconds later though it felt like 20 minutes) Beryl returns to the cashier desk.

2nd Shop Assistant: That’ll be £3.24
2nd customer: Can I have 20 Berkley Mentol too please?
stegzy: Gahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh

So Beryl gets down again and gets the cigs from the shelf. Meanwhile I am burning a hole into the back of 2nd customers skull and mentally projecting images of me stamping on his fucking fat face leaving the word “Clarks” impressed across his nose.

Eventually I get served. I part with my cash and have my change counted out to me (twice because “Beryl”, I discovered, has a problem counting). I eventually enjoyed my Lunch 10 minutes.

This whole episode then made me think. Are people actually aware of when people around them are in a rush?


Daventry Local Elections 2014–Emma Collins

Every election – local, European or General – I offer the local candidates the opportunity to come and tell me why I should vote for them.

This year I am providing insights into the candidates running in the Weedon ward in Daventry.

And, so it seems, is the BBC.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-northamptonshire-27471122

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Emma Tiny Picture Collins

Today, Emma Collins – Labour.

Now, considering that Daventry is a crucial Conservative hot spot you would expect a lot of campaigning by the opposition parties. Not so here in sleepy Norton. Sure, European election leaflets have fluttered unbidden onto my door mat but local candidates seem to be few and far between.  Considering the election is only a few days away, the opposition candidates had better get a move on if they want possible swing voters to make their minds up.

I have no leaflet for Ms Collins. I knew nothing about her, her policies, what issues she feels strongly about or whether like Mr Smith she likes to have a poo in a field before standing up and fighting builders. With her fists.

So, using my l33t skills and well honed research methods, I had a poke about on the internet to see what I could find out about Ms Collins. It’s scary what you can find about people online, or so they say. Heh, that’s why, I suppose, I don’t use my real name online.

And never have.

Anyway, I know where she lives but where’s the fun in that. I mean this kind of information is given by the election’s returning officer and in the election notices. Turning up unbidden on her doorstep is a bit creepy so I wouldn’t do that. Although I suppose I could go canvassing. You know like candidates do only as a voter…Or will that get me arrested…Maybe not eh?

So the first port of call was Google. Using a bit of Googlefoo, I was able to find Ms Collins’ twitter account. So let’s do this in real time and send her a tweet…

 

tweet1

I’ll post her response if it comes….

Her feed seems to be akin to Mr Chris “I’ll block you if you question my insistence that Margaret Thatcher was the best thing that happened to the UK” Heaton-Harris. Jokes, asides and retweets of the odd bit of opposition political linkage. Nothing that says “Hey, intarwebz, I am young and clued up about social media and know how to market myself as a potential politician! Vote for me!”

Nothing that says “I’ll have a fight with navvies in a field if they so much as look at it through the windscreen of a JCB”

In fact there’s nothing. Nothing political…Couple of possible leads but out of decency I won’t mention those. But I did find three Emma Collins on Facebook in the Northamptonshire area. None of which, look like the tiny picture above, they all look like they’re still in school.

Ok, so let’s check the old Twitter feed….

Oooh! Look! She’s replied!

 

tweet2

 

So it’s off to the local press.

Good old Gusher. They are now part of Johnston Press so their website isn’t very good. Their weekly newspaper is often a bit low on gripping local news and is more akin to the old “Man who Once Passed through Daventry Met Elvis” kind of headline. But none-the-less, we should all use our local press or we will lose them. And then where would we be for news about Angry People, new toasters in Estate agents or cats stuck up trees.

Anyway, a quick search on the site brings me:

Nothing.

Nada.

Not a peep.

A few articles containing the words “EMMA” and “COLLINS” but nothing about our candidate. Meh.

Maybe my skills aren’t as l33t as I think. Maybe Emma Collins is still waiting for her leaflets to come back from Vistaprint. Maybe she’s going to pull out all the stops on Thursday by filling the sky with giant letters explaining what her policies are. Maybe now she’s heard of me, she’ll take me up on my offer of joining me in the White Horse in Norton so she can tell me why I should vote for her.

 

Or maybe not.

 

I’ll let you know if she gets back to me before Thursday…


2 Comments

Letter to the BBC

Dear BBC,

I notice that you are increasing the regularity of the appearance of people who seem to be experts on everything and have opinions on everything which, for some reason, you think reflects society at large.

I would like to offer my services as a gobshite. I too have strong opinions on everything from David Cameron’s underwear to the cost of prawns in the Middle East during the Byzantium Empire. I am an expert on everything and nothing. I have several years experience of spouting utter crap to backup people’s clandestine agendas and I am happy to cast aspersions and morals to the wind without forethought for the wider consequences.

Hope this will cover everything. 

Lots of Love

Gnomepants