Seldo.Weblog: January 2005

More tsunami stuff

I can't stop looking or reading. If you've not already donated, donate to help the victims. If you've already donated, give again, dammit.

The power of the network is kicking in to solve the few problems that it can:

You can't just make stuff up

Okay, right now, before this gets out of hand, I'm going to put a stop to this: "dooced" is not a word, okay?

I don't care that the BBC wrote a cutesy technology article about it, although urban dictionary has it, with multiple definitions and votes, which is more suprising. There are only 6000 references to it in Google (as of time of writing) and most of those refer to the UrbanDictionary entry or the aforementioned article. 6000 entries does not a word make. By contrast, "blog", which was only made a dictionary word this year, has 99 million entries, which is surely some sort of theoretical limit to Google's searching capabilities anyway.

The etymology of the term is simple. Heather of (which is, incidentally, pretty funny) lost her job over her blog. Cue over-excited journalists and the incestuous world of the top-notch bloggers, and you a word that thinks it is altogether more popular than it really is.

It's a stupid word that doesn't aid understanding any more than "fired". Let's kill this now, before it spreads.

P.S. Exciting blogging about my tropical vacation will commence when I've got over the flu that has dominated it so far. Damn karma.


03 January 2005
Google (currently) claim to have indexed 8,058,044,651 pages. A quick search for "the" gives, "Results 1 - 10 of about 8,000,000,000"...


04 January 2005
Granted, but exactly 99,000,000 results for the word "blog" seems a little suspicious, don't you think?


04 January 2005
Maybe, or just some sort of cosmic collaboration? :) . Now at 156M, perhaps google had a datacentre offline?

Tom Williams

04 January 2005
Pfft. I've not posted a quiz thing in MONTHS! Sure you're not confusing me with zaty?


04 January 2005
I'm pretty sure I steal quizzes from either Zaty or Bump (Or, indeed, vice-versa).

Elfy and I reserve our mirroring for clothing tastes.


04 January 2005
By "quiz" I was referring in Tom's case to the memething which I initially failed to include but have now, in clever blog-fashion, tacked onto the end. The overlap between quizzes on your blogs seemed larger, initially, for some reason.

Also, what on earth is the point of my making per-post comments if you two comment on the post above using the comment-bubble for the previous post? Methinks I really need to work on my user interface design (not like I didn't know that before, really).


04 January 2005
It is intuitive that you would reply to a post only having read it.... therefore it makes sense that the comment thing at the bottom is for the post you wish to comment on. :-p

It's my party and I'll blog if I want to

You know what's pointless and stupid and repetitive? Online quizzes, that's what. And I'm on vacation, so I have plenty of time to do pointless repetitive things! It's raining today -- and I mean raining, the kind of torrential downpour that leaves you thinking about the possibility of flash flooding and mudslides -- so the ritual repetition of "suntan, burn, apply aftersun" is unavailable to me, and in any case, my burn from yesterday is still going, so I should probably take a break. So quizzes it is. These are mainly via Jon and Elfy, who appear to spend their lives duplicating each other.

First up:

You scored as Nerd Cat. Holy crap, poindexter. Try buying some new specs instead of taping them together. Yeah, Bill Gates made a lot of money, but he's also the devil. You've got a long way to go.

Couch Potato Cat


Nerd Cat


Love Machine Cat


Derranged Cat


Pissed at the World Cat


Ninja Cat


Drunk Cat


Which Absurd Cat are you?
created with

The geek label was pretty much a given, but I'm worried that I was equally likely to be a couch potato or a sex machine. What do those three classifications have in common, exactly?


You scored as alternative. You're partially respected for being an individual in a conformist world yet others take you as a radical. You have no place in society because you choose not to belong there - you're the luckiest of them all, even if your parents are completely ashamed of you. Just don't take drugs ok?



Upper middle Class


Middle Class


Lower Class


Luxurious Upper Class


What Social Status are you?
created with

Muwahahaha! I'm not upper middle class! In your face! I revel in my alternative credibility! I'm going to go and start a rock band called the Puking Hail Marys now, featuring songs with no lyrics or music or, indeed, any sort of effort required at all because Art Is Dead.

I object strongly to this next result:

You are 32% geek
You are a geek liaison, which means you go both ways. You can hang out with normal people or you can hang out with geeks which means you often have geeks as friends and/or have a job where you have to mediate between geeks and normal people. This is an important role and one of which you should be proud. In fact, you can make a good deal of money as a translator.
Normal: Tell our geek we need him to work this weekend.

You [to Geek]: We need more than that, Scotty. You'll have to stay until you can squeeze more outta them engines!

Geek [to You]: I'm givin' her all she's got, Captain, but we need more dilithium crystals!

You [to Normal]: He wants to know if he gets overtime.

Take the Polygeek Quiz at

This is mainly because I couldn't be bothered to calculate the average number of tracks per CD on a per-genre basis. Also, my iPod has shorted out in the humidity (hello, genius bar?).

And last (and least, why not?), a meme that I'm doing mainly because I found I could come up with the answers quickly (I'm taking "friends list" as "MSN contacts list" since I never use my LiveJournal login to which this refers):

Name a CD you own that no-one else on your friends list does:
I am positive that nobody else I know owns a copy of Marilyn Manson's "Holy Wood (in the Valley of the Shadow of Death)". Bless my little wannabe-goth tendencies; he was never any good after Mechanical Animals though.
Name a book you own that no-one else on your friends list does:
Lots, I'm sure, but I'm quite fond of my collection (mainly in Trinidad) of ancient pulp books, so I'll choose Earth is Room Enough, a collection of Asimov's early short stories including one on the origin of jokes which has remained in my memory.
Name a movie you own on DVD/VHS/whatever that no-one else on your friends list does:
I'm also willing to bet that nobody else has a copy of The Swarm, an excellent late-1970s B-movie incidentally starring Michael Caine. B-movies are so much more entertaining than the crap we get these days. Hint: B-movies are a Good Gift Idea.
Name a place that you have visited that no-one else on your friends list has:
Well, saying "Trinidad" is just a bit too easy and in any case inaccurate, since a few people on my list are Trinis too. My world travels are pretty limited, but I'll guess no one else has climbed to the top of the lighthouse at the top of Chacachacare, or for that matter the salt pond or the abandoned leper colony buildings (see? colonies have history too!).


I actually do these every year, but because of the superstition about keeping them secret, I generally just forget they exist. I'm like that. So screw tradition. Here are my new year's resolutions (I will update this list and add more later):

  • Gain a more in-depth knowledge of speciality subjects that interest me but are not related to my job. So far this includes:
    • comic books (spurred by an excellent Christmas present; the science is not nearly so interesting as the discovery that nearly all of DC's characters have 2 origin stories, that the Fantastic Four are Marvel's oldest characters, that Peter Parker's original girlfriend was Gwen Stacey, that American comic book heroes started fighting the Nazis two months before America did, and that the Comic Code of America was introduced because comic books were thought to be related to a rise in juvenile crime)
    • architecture (what exactly is Georgian, anyway?)
    • history of computing (beep!)
  • Write more often, and publish more often. I love writing and want to be better at it, and the only way to do so is practice. So I need to increase my output dramatically. In fact, let's set a target: 1 blog entry per day. 365 entries in a year doesn't sound too hard. (NB: Since I currently contribute to 5 blogs, that doesn't mean this place will see exactly one entry every day. Also, some days I'll blog twice.)


04 January 2005
For the comics thing, I recommend you seek out some of the work of the late great Will Eisner. His death is a sad start to 2005.

Not that the year wasn't starting with way too much death and sadness already.

But I wouldn't have Shreddies and tea because they are both brown

I am currently reading the Curious Incident of the Dog in the Nighttime, my first non-SF book in quite some time... somebody said the protagonist (who has asperger's syndrome) reminded them of myself, and I have to say with a certain degree of worry that I agree. The world would be so much NICER if it were made up of lists and numbers and people said exactly what they meant.

I also feel compelled to make a list of all the people I know who should read this book in order to have their own behaviour described to them, so that they might understand why other people sometimes find it puzzling or aggravating. And the fact that I feel compelled to make such a list suggests that I should be on the list myself.

Update: This was the first book in a long time that I completed in a single day, and the first in an even longer time that made me cry. Were I not currently stuck in the persona of a 15 year old boy with Asperger's syndrome and no knowledge of idioms, I would refer to it as being a little too close for comfort.


05 January 2005
NICER but much less interesting. The uncertainty of statements with what is often intentional ambiguity keep us all on out toes.


05 January 2005
It's impossible for people to say exactly what they mean, the english language isn't that precise.You pretty much have to make up your own everytime you want to say anything.-duh-


05 January 2005
What is worse is being a research subject for the book. It is fantastically good, however.

My Island Paradise

Today my mom and I visited the Asa Wright Nature Centre, a world-reknowned (allegedly) bird-watching centre that any tree-hugging hippy (I'm looking at you) would love. The centre itself has recently clamped down on day-trippers wrecking the environment, so you're no longer just allowed to walk around for free -- you have to walk in a group, for a charge of £5 each (which is exorbitant if you're a Trini, but sounds quite reasonable once converted). It was quite pleasant but very slow, as our guide Jason (who was in his early twenties and quite pretty) spent a long time explaining everything we were seeing. It was extremely informative, or would have been informative, if we weren't natives of the country who knew all the stuff he was telling the tourists anyway.

I also tried my hand at photography, which several people have sneered at for being subjectless and not bothering to fiddle the photos through photoshop, but whatever, I'm trying to give an impression here.

This is out in the relative civilization of a village on the way to the centre. The little white gaps between the otherwise continuous forest of the hills is the village. On the left is a corrugated iron shack: that's someone's house, as evidenced by the little strings of Christmas lights just visible dangling from the edge of the roof.

This is a close-up of one of the houses in the village (we'd stopped to buy a snack). That's the whole house -- probably a living room, a porch, a bedroom and a kitchen with a bathroom out the back somewhere. The house is one floor but raised on stilts about five feet off the ground. This is common in Trini houses: when houses were made of wood this was to protect them from damp and insects, and in flood plains they protect household goods, but it has become an established architectural style, so there are a lot of concrete houses on hills built this way, like this one, where there is no practical reason to be on stilts.

Another typically Trini aspect of this photo is the continuous riot of green around it. There are at least three food-bearing plants in the photo: the broad-leaved things in the foreground are banana trees (as always, found in thickets). The broad trunk in shadow on the left is a big mango tree, and you'll have to trust me when I say the spindly collection of branches in the mid-ground between the bananas and the house are those of a pommecytherre tree (locally pronounced pom-see-TAY, despite this being clearly inaccurate). It's really quite difficult to stop fruit trees growing in Trinidad, which is why even though there are a lot of poor people there are almost no hungry (at least in rural areas).

Update: Several people have asked why I didn't get a clearer picture of the house itself. There is no clearer view of the house available, the house is completely surrounded by jungle. Temperate gardening means encouraging green things to grow; tropical gardening involves occasionally setting fire to things to hold them back.

Let the jungle pictures begin!

Your standard our-country-is-way-prettier-than-your-country shot.

I shot this accidentally while trying to get the next shot, actually, but it might interest you to know that the thing in the foreground looking like a botanical firework is a pawpaw tree, where you get breakfast melons from. You can see some really teeny-tiny melons just starting to form, sticking directly out of the trunk. This is just growing randomly by the roadside; nobody has to try hard to find a melon around here.

More pretty jungle. You have to be a fan of jungles in general, maybe, to like these photos.

We also do discounts on bulk jungle. This place is only about 30 minutes' drive from where my parents live, which is about the most built-up part of the whole country. We have no shortage of jungle. Or hill. In case you're wondering, the big white thing is not a chalk cliff, it's a small concrete fence-post painted white, crammed into the foreground by your amateur photographer. It's part of the thoroughly inadequate little fences they put on corners on these little roads to gently suggest to cars that they shouldn't fall down the side of the steep little valley into which the roads are cut, a reminder made much more eloquently by the little sections of the road which have in several places decided to make the trip themselves, little landslides that leave the already narrow road very tight indeed in some places.

I hope these were entertaining. I'm enjoying my newfound verbosity; apparently being on vacation for the first time in six months is quite stimulating...


06 January 2005
I for one am enjoying your newfound verbosity and willing some of it to rub off on my planet. Great shots, btw. Really inspired a pang of nostalgia and homesickness....

Chris Purcell

07 January 2005
All looks lovely. Thanks for sharing.


07 January 2005
These are all very nice, but big green treey things we have, only here they are called forests. They're slow growing, deciduous and few in number, nettles instead of ferns and various evil thorny berry type things pass for undergrowth, and most have been touristised into oblivion, but they /are/ still there. What we /don't/ have are perfect shores with crystalline waters and azure skies. Also I don't think I've ever seen the treeline meet the beach, anywhere. *prod* Where are the beach shots?!


07 January 2005
Oh! Or Reeealy big musrooms! With spots!


07 January 2005
I'm going down the islands tomorrow, where the treeline hits the beach all the time and there are also big pretty cliffs -- rocks, to go with the trees. I'll see if I can get some pictures without dropping the camera into the deep green* sea.

* It's the rainy season.


07 January 2005
I *am* a fan of jungles in general, and at this moment I am the physical incarnation of envy. Thank you for sharing these pictures. Post more anytime :)


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I blog because I care

And also because I have to. I said I'd blog every day, I didn't say it would be rivetting. Today I've done almost nothing -- again -- because there was nothing to do. I'm on vacation though, so that's okay, but it's been raining so I haven't got in the hours of sunshine I really require. Tomorrow I'm going down the islands though -- taking dad's boat down a teeny-tiny little archipelago, where people who live in Trinidad go to get away from the hustle and bustle of being on a little island thousands of miles away from anywhere interesting. Expect some more poorly-composed pictures and commentary.

In the meantime, I'll be watching the Stargate: Atlantis marathon on the sci-fi channel, because I've got nothing else to do and I've read enough Modern World History for today (thanks, M). American cable TV is amazing in the way that 500 channels, each of which individually have nothing on, can keep you occupied for hours simply flicking between them looking for something to watch.

2004: a review

In easy-to-read, quizmeme format. Yes, if I'm blogging every day, quizzes are going to have to make a reappearance because, frankly, nobody is that personally creative. However, posting this now means I can put off the big photo-post I should do of my little excursion down the islands. Maybe if you people are very good I'll do both today. Onwards!

  • What did you do in 2004 that you'd never done before?
    I met a deadline! 2004 is the year I remembered how to work hard, having forgotten sometime in 2000. Shame about that uni career.
  • Did you keep your new years' resolutions, and will you make more for next year?
    I can't remember what mine were last year, here are this year's.
  • Did anyone close to you give birth?
    Not terribly close, but a girl who I knew in my childhood has two kids now.
  • Did anyone close to you die?
    Luckily, not anyone terribly close, but I did attend a funeral which was very moving.
  • What countries did you visit?
    Sadly, only Trinidad and Britain. And Barbados, if you count the layover.
  • What would you like to have in 2005 that you lacked in 2004?
    A raise.
  • What date from 2004 will remain etched upon your memory, and why?
    I don't really do date-etchings, but July 10th was the date I started my new job? I've been all about my job the last six months really, which isn't a bad thing really, since I spent the preceding 12 months being all about how much I hated my job.
  • What was your biggest achievement of the year?
    Dammit, I would list another work thing for this. I've been kinda low on personal achievements. Maybe that's something to build on. Oh, I also wrote Code; I'm quite proud of it even if nobody else liked it.
  • What was your biggest failure?
    Several fuckups at work were amusingly expensive, and I failed to finish lots of my little personal projects. Or cure cancer.
  • Did you suffer illness or injury
    Earlier this year I started randomly falling over sideways in the mornings, without warning or explanation. That hasn't happened again, so I'll put it down to stress from the awful old job.
  • What was the best thing you bought?
    my precious, hands-down, has brought the highest per-pound improvement in the quality of my life of any electronics purchase, ever.
  • Whose behavior merited celebration?
    I celebrate the behaviour of all of my friends for all the shit that life throws at them and the way they pick themselves back up and carry on. And several of my friends made moves to London or plans to do so soon, which also merits celebration in my book.
  • Whose behaviour made you appalled and depressed?
    The United States of America, collectively. One* word: re-elected.

    * arguably

  • Where did most of your money go?
    Going out. And I'd do it again! Also web-hosting, a trip to Trinidad, and presents for other people, which, truth be told, are both excellent reasons to spend your money.
  • What did you get really, really, really excited about?
    Going to see the Scissor Sisters live. This had mixed results, but I was very excited. Likewise seeing the Red Hot Chilli Peppers in Hyde Park -- much anticipated, and then there was 18 hours of James fucking Brown.
  • What song will always remind you of 2004?
    Everything by the Scissor Sisters, especially "Laura".
  • Compared to this time last year, are you?
    • happier?: Much!
    • thinner or fatter?: Thinner, just barely.
    • richer or poorer?: Poorer in the short term, though I accidentally discovered this year that I have some long-term financial viability floating around in the form of an investment I made 10 years ago which has been unexpectedly successful. I just don't have any money now.
  • What do you wish you'd done more of?
    Getting to know people.
  • What do you wish you'd done less of?
    Worrying about money but, actually, it's probably a healthy habit, or I would be even poorer than I am now.
  • Did you fall in love in 2004?
    Not in love; nothing so traumatic.
  • How many one night stands?
    None. Go me! Also, almost no sex.
  • What was your favorite TV program?
    Smallville continues to beat all comers.
  • Do you hate anyone now that you didn't hate this time last year?
    I'm working up to hate the Gonzalez guy that Bush has picked for A.G., but I'm not there yet. Give me time.
  • What was the best book you read
    I don't have the memory for this, really, but I read Rendezvous with Rama this year, finally, and it was pretty amazing.
  • What was your greatest musical discovery?
    The Jellyfish! The big bright spot in the middle of hating my job.
  • What did you want and get?
    My precious. I spent nine months envying everyone with those white headphones and the rest of the year feeling quiet solidarity. And being absolutely intolerable, I'm sure.
  • What did you want and not get?
    A boyfriend who lasted until this year. I was going to say love, but I got plenty of that.
  • What was your favorite film of this year?
    The Incredibles! Or possibly Spider-Man 2. Yes, yes, I'm a philistine. Worst film was definitely Birth. Geez.
  • What did you do on your birthday, and how old were you?
    I was 23, and I had a load of people over for the whole day and then went clubbing. T'was fab, but not as fab as my house party, which was rockin'.
  • What was one thing that would have made your year?
    John Kerry winning or, more accurately, George Bush losing. No dice.
  • How would you describe your personal fashion concept in 2004?
    2003's "cheap and cheerful" continues, with added hints of expense.
  • What kept you sane?
    Serotonin levels? I'm sorry, I don't have a cute answer for this.
  • Which celebrity/public figure did you fancy the most?
    Probably still Orlando Bloom. There's been no big arrival on the hot-people scene.
  • What political issue stirred you the most?
    In Britain, probably still gay marriage. We got it, yay! In the US, the ongoing attack on evolution in schools continues to disturb me even more than the ongoing rollback of equal rights for gays and lesbians.
  • Who was the best new person you met?
    Best newcomer is a tricky one... Ronan has been muchly entertaining throughout the year, Ian was impressively cool, Rob has been a reassuring discovery, Salvador is fun, and Dom has been an amusing ongoing soap opera. Everyone else I met I think I met prior to this year, although if Simon was 2004 then he surely deserves a mention too :-)
  • Tell us a valuable life lesson you learned in 2004?
    Stop feeling guilty for not being nicer to people, and be nicer to people.

Tom Williams

08 January 2005
Pfft! Five people in the "best person you met in 2004" thing, and none of them were me?!?!

I *kill* you now.


08 January 2005
What political issue stirred you the most?
In Britain, probably still gay marriage. We got it, yay!
Hmmm.. Although the civil parternships bill confers the same rights as marriage, it does so without actually calling it "marriage". In fact the government stressed during the passing of the bill that, "it is not same-sex marriage".

While the new act is a wonderful leap forward for equality in the UK, many would agree that the fight is not over. While gays are legally differentiated from their straight peers by law, how can they not remain anything other than second class citizens?

Alexi Margo wrote an interesting article on this for Equality Coalition -- though the web site seems to be in need of an update. These arguments have been rerun again and again; they're obvious, cba... has a good article on gay marriage.

It's interesting, I also tend to refer to the new Civil Partnership as marriage. Those who don't know about it (oblivious or too straight to care) are not interested in the nuances of its name...


09 January 2005
I agree that civil partnerships are essentially second-class marriage. However, I also agree that "marriage" is a religious, and specifically Judeo-Christian institution that should not be subject to redefinition by acts of government.

The logical next step is therefore not to give gays marriage, but to take away marriage from straight people -- or rather, remove its legal status, and assign legal status to partnerships only, irrespective of the sex of the participants.

This, however, would be political suicide as it would alienate even fairly moderate religious voters, so it's not likely to happen anytime soon. In the meantime, however, I'm happy with what we have.

My Island Paradise, part 2

Today's installment of photos are from "down the islands". Already small Trinidad has a tiny archipelago of even smaller islands of its north-west tip. These are a popular spot for holiday homes -- even when you already live away from most of it, there's still a temptation to get away from it all.

I spent a lot of my childhood down the islands, in an ancient colonial house with no running water and only a patchy supply of electricity. Since then electricity supplies have improved and mains water is even available on some of the islands, but the majority are still largely untouched.

Our vehicle for the day was my dad's boat Sweet Lime, a power boat with an outboard motor and a distinctive Trinidadian flag. As you can see, the islands have a distinctive profile which you're going to see over and over. The island in the picture is Monos, where my parents share a house. Apart from the holiday homes at the waterline it is completely uninhabited. Monos and its sister islands Huevos and Platos have the distinction of having been named by Christopher Columbus himself as he passed through here in 1498, on his third voyage to the New World.

The holiday homes themselves are generally ridiculously pretty architectural confections in pseudo-colonial style. These days they usually come with central airconditioning and satellite television too, however, leading one to speculate as to what exactly it is people get away from.

We now head further out from the mainland, to the final gap between Trinidad and Venezuela known as the "gran boca", or big mouth -- another one of Columbus' less-than-original names. These islands are very dry and desertlike, in contrast to the vegetation nearly everywhere else in Trinidad.

This is off the same point, angled a bit better. The big blue landmass is Venezuela, and still the closest I've ever gotten to the South American continent.

The island we stopped at has the delightful name of Chacachacare (cha-ka-cha-KAR-ee), which is an Amerindian name. There aren't a lot of places known by their original names in Trinidad because the colonists were, in general, arrogant bastards who preferred to call things Plymouth and Speyside and California rather than come up with new names.

Chacachacare was until the 1970s a colony for people with Hansen's disease, formerly known as leprosy. It was run by nuns who lived on one side of the bay, and the patients who lived on the other, a very similar arrangement to the leper's clinic in The Motorcycle Diaries if you've seen that. These three buildings were the main part of the convent, now almost completely swallowed by forest.

This is the surviving jetty for the convent. It would originally have been a bit higher out of the water, but sea levels have risen since the 1950s (when it would have been built) thanks to global warming. There are signs of rising sea levels all over the islands in the form of rapid erosion.

A distance shot of the engulfed convent buildings. Not a great shot.

The bay where we stopped to swim. This is the colour of the water in Trinidad: instead of the aquamarine blue of the other islands, a ridiculously vivid green. Colour levels were not altered at all in this photo: it really is that garishly green.

Round the back of the islands are some really spectacular shale cliffs, rising several hundred feet into the air from deep water. However, cliffs are apparently difficult photographic subjects from small boats at their bases, so this is the best of the ones I took. They're really awe-inspiring in person though.

This is another bay we visted, known as Scotland bay. It's very quiet and favoured as a place to moor and sleep by visiting yachties, i.e. middle-class foreigners who travel the world in small sailing boats like this one, which would have crossed the Atlantic by itself.

I was paying attention to all you people who told me to frame my shots better and choose a subject.

Is this any better?

Eventually I gave up because the vegetation was just too pretty. Feel free to tune out.

Trying to be a little bit arty.

More pretty green stuff. Maybe you had to be there?

Basically, these places are really peaceful and beautiful and -- usually -- drenched in bright sunshine. Today was rather overcast, although it did make for better photos.

I did also take pictures of people, but I decided to exclude them for privacy and, anyway, you don't know them -- they're just my family.

But there's some more pretty island paradise for you.

Ben Oostdam

16 December 2007
Loved your Bocas picts:
used to Zodiac around there in the early 1980's, but never succeeded in making picts as good as yours.
If you do not mind I may want to use some in my
stories or autobio, with due acknowledgments or credit!
Happy Christmas!

Marjorie Montano Short

31 December 2007
Your photos brought back memories. Our family down the islands home was on Monos....Blue was purchased around 1950...not sure if it is still there .In those days there weren't many homes....down the islands. It was a veritable paradise....I remember seeing the boat that used to take the people from the colony on Chac. pass by on Sundays....The thought of crime never even crossed our minds...Trinidad was a quieter and safer place. We all learned to swim there in the calm waters....Church on Sunday was at Gasparee...which was not covered in houses as it is now.....


17 June 2008
Only very wealthy and established Trinidadian families ever had " family homes" "down the islands"(or the means to spend any significant amount of time there) ; and it's even more so now. The cost of housing has increased exponentially, and I am quite sure it'd cost well nigh $500,000US to purchase a home there (if you can even find a listing. They are very exclusive.). And that is for a second home!

Most Trinidadians have never even been down the islands.

Let us hope that they will remain pristine. The trend in Trinidad (with no strong conservation ethic) is to raze everything and build Miami-style (meaning non-descript and adorned with gee-gaws) "townhouses". Very sad.

It is hard to find any plantation or gingerbread-style architectural efforts anymore.
We will see what kind of vomituous "eco-resort" the government will want to splash all over these islands.

P.S. Ms. Short, crime took years to reach the Trinidad western peninsula (the wealthy areas that is).
If you ask other though, these islands have been a haven for another sort of crime--the drug trans-shipment trade; and have been facilitated by many of the people who own homes there unfortunately.


18 June 2008
Blue Waters is still there, but now painted green. The Montano family sold it to Victor and Sally Mouttet of Vemco.

Keith Knox

14 January 2009
I was not only surprised on seeing this blog but photos of a place I spent a lot of time at as a child and young boy in the 50's - late 60's and not having lived in Trinidad for 40 years I do apprecite what you have done, Oh the FOND & GREAT MEMORIES !
If you have any more photos of Collins Bay ( in patricular my cousins ,the Tuckers house ) I would like to see more current photos what it looke like today.
Marjoire , I spent many a day with the Lazzari family house, Avalon ( opporsite Blue Waters ) and my family new your family .
I hope ony day to revist this tranquil and fond memory.

S. Hornage

09 July 2012
Do you know the name of that property on Monos Island where there is a big wooden or log home that is kind of nestled in the side of a mountain? It has several levels of the property. I think it us to be owned by an insurance company


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Planet Seldo

Inconvenienced by the continued absence of Planet Afterlife? Then I invite you to peruse Planet Seldo. It uses the same software to do exactly the same thing. The name is temporary in case Wabson would prefer that I didn't usurp his copyright. Otherwise, if he would be so good as to send me the copy of planet.css he was using, I can make it look exactly like the old Planet Afterlife and change the name. In the meantime, hope you find this useful!

Planet Seldo updates every 20 minutes. If there are any feeds you'd like to see added let me know.


09 January 2005
You *so* good!


09 January 2005
How does one subscribe to this fabled planet?


10 January 2005
You don't subscribe as such; I've just added the feed for your blog and Ed's to the config though, so it should turn up in the next 5 minutes.

Mini meta-blog: on blogging frequency

So apparently, blogging every day is making it easier to think of stuff worth blogging about. My current working theory for this phenomenon is statistical. I nearly did actual graphs for this, but decided it would be too much trouble.

Let's assume that the only time you blog is when you have something interesting to blog about. Specifically, and this is important, it's something relatively interesting, in the literal sense that it needs to be interesting relative to everything else that's gone on in the period.

If you drew a graph of "interestingness of events" over time for a period, you'd have a line with a bunch of spikes. Everybody's life, no matter how dull or interesting it is, tends to have a sort of "average interest level". For a very long period, the graph would look almost like a flat line around this average: nothing would be relatively interesting, so it would be hard to think of anything to blog about.

On the other hand, if you blogged every day, your sample size is tiny, so the chance of there being one or two events much more interesting than any other events in the period is, counter-intuitively, much higher. This is because the interest levels are relative, not absolute.

So, the way to think of stuff to blog about is to blog every day. This is my insight for today, which is why immediately after posting this I will probably be blogging again, making it the third time today (unless it takes a long time).

Who knew blogging engendered more blogging? It probably won't last once I get back from holiday and have, you know, stuff to do. But in the meantime, bring on the verbose blog-fest!


10 January 2005
You're right, being in the blogging habit makes it that much easier to keep it up. Same goes for any sort of semi-creative output, I think. To that end, I shall now stop reading weblogs and start writing random bits of music...

On geekiness being hereditary

It's established knowledge that genes for geekiness are hereditary. In fact, so much so that the high concentration of geeks marrying other geeks in Silicon Valley is leading to an epidemic of autism and Asperger's syndrome in their children, as double-geek genes magnify to produce children who are too smart to interact with the ordinary world.

So, did I inherit my own geekiness from my mom or my dad? I always assumed, in a rather sexist way, that if I got it from anyone it would be from my dad. After all, he's the chemical engineer with the gadgets and the workshop, right?

But on closer examination of their professions and their careers, perhaps not. Mom has a degree in education -- specifically, physical education. Dad on the other hand has a degree in chemical engineering, clearly the geekier of the two disciplines. But after university, their careers took different tracks. My dad became engineer, certainly -- but only initially. Soon he became a manager, then a director, then a chairman of first one, then many boards. My dad knows how to get people to agree with him, how to motivate them. He's really good at that stuff. But those are people skills, not geek talents.

Mom, on the other hand, became a teacher -- but O-level chemistry and biology instead of P.E.. Teaching is a pretty geeky profession, and being a science teacher even more so. My mother is also not what you'd call a natural people person. She's hardly antisocial, and by no means a party pooper (stories of her wild youth surface more and more often the older I get). But she doesn't have the abiding love of people for their own sake that so characterizes my father.

There are physical signs, too. While I certainly got my high forehead and big lips from my dad (sigh), my fingers are -- relative to his, at any rate -- long and slim, quite unlike his stubby digits. And while it may have come to her late in life, my mom has certainly got the geek's love of new gadgets. She started off slow -- a cordless phone, a digital dishwasher, my second-hand computer -- but soon moved on to better things: a fax machine, a photocopier, a printer, a scanner. And then she hopped onto the upgrade path and began to accelerate: her fax machine, photocopier and scanner have all gone through two iterations, she's got a brand new printer and a dedicated photo-printer.

And yesterday, as I sat in the study fiddling with blogs, she sat in the comfy chair playing with her new Palm Pilot Tungsten E, a gorgeous little toy in brushed aluminium with a colour screen and decent sound that can store photos and contacts and a calendar and her notes as well as have any custom software she can find and download (so far: Bridge). When she finds a cute new feature, she giggles in a way that is estremely familiar to me.

Gosh. I got my geekiness from my mom. Who knew?

My Island Paradise, part 3

I didn't go very far or do anything particularly interesting today, because I'm on holiday and I don't have to. So today's entry is all about where I'm staying.

We start today's story with the view from my window. It's a big picture-window directly behind the desk I sit at as I type this, and the view looks like this:

The window that I'm looking out of is in my parents' house. My parents' house looks a lot like this:

Although not exactly like this, since this is the house up the hill from our house. The development has a lot of houses all designed by the same architect. My parents' house is surrounded by a lot more greenery, like this:

Although this is still not my parents' house, but the one next door. My parents house is a bit different to the other houses in the development because they spent a bit of time adding their own touches. One of my favourites has been the addition of a lot of stained glass everywhere, like this one at the top of the stairwell:

The development my parents' house is in is called Rainbow Hill, and this is their rainbow. When the sun shines through this window at mid-day, the stairwell is lit in squares of blue and red, which is gorgeous.

My parents have also filled the house with art, like this rather imposing specimen, also on the stairwell:

Although this sculpture goes out of its way to look "local" (red, black and white are the national colours), it was actually made by a German sculptress, Luise Kimme, who has settled in Tobago and spends all her time carving stuff there. Local sculptors are not nearly so talented as Ms. Kimme, so a lot of her stuff gets passed off as local in the tourist brochures of Trinidad and Tobago.

I won't bore you with the bulk of my parents' house, but just to give you a flavour of the interior design, here is the living room:

It's very bright as it's lit on all sides by big glass doors that open onto the view, and anyone to whom I've mentioned my mother's obsession with rugs will notice the lovely deep-pile one on the floor. My parents' house is covered in rugs.

But enough of the house. Let's hit the pool!

The houses in the compound share a pool, because the land the houses are built into is extremely steep, so it would be crazy to build more than one. The pool is pretty tiny, but nobody uses it anyway. That thing off in the corner is, yes, another four banana trees:

I apologize for my obsession with showing you guys banana trees but I do want to emphasize that the bloody things grow everywhere, like weeds. Those four would have started life as a single one grown by the landscaper.

The pool is built to lack its third edge, which leads straight off to the view:

This would give more of an impression that the pool merges directly into the sea, except that it turned out to be too much trouble to have water cascading over the edge all the time, so they left a little lip, and the gardeners haven't been recently so the greenery from below is fighting its way into view (including another banana tree). As I said in an earlier post, Caribbean gardening is a matter of cutting things down selectively.

The big grey cloud is why I came back inside -- it started to rain -- but before we end this sequence, here's the view from the edge of the pool itself:

You can just about make out a little dark line between sea and sky in this photo: that land is the other end of the island. You can very literally see the entire country from my parents' house. This island is tiny and yet Trinidad is one of the bigger islands in the Caribbean -- only Cuba, Hispaniola (containing Haiti and the Dominican Republic), Puerto Rico and Jamaica are bigger.

This concludes part 3. I'm beginning to run out of things to show you all, so part 4 might be city shots if I can manage to get into the capital with a camera around my neck and not get instantly mugged.


10 January 2005
Did your parents move?


11 January 2005
Since you last visited? Yes, twice :-)


11 January 2005
You can't see the entire island from your house, as far as I know. Apparently, you've forgotten about the entire Eastern half of the island. But yeah, it's small.

Also, if you want to take POS pictures without getting harassed, I recommend Sunday (though you won't really get the feel of the hustle and bustle, such as it is.)


11 January 2005
Well, okay, you can't see *all* of the island. But you can see from one end to the other, which is still kind of crazy.

Anyway, nothing important happens East of Tunapuna :-)

28 March 2008
I want it!


17 June 2008
I think those are the homes designed by ACLA:works (or a precursor).

Most of the island "happens" east/south of this picture. That is where the oil is drilled, the light goods are manufactured for export and the food for the island is grown!

I have never tried to take pictures in Port-Of-Spain, and I have not been there recently, but I am not sure anyone is in much danger of getting "mugged" in the right parts of town (West of Frederick Street). The vantage points out west are pretty good, but not all of the architecture is good. I'd love to see an emphasis on modern architecture as well as Trinidadian vernacular architecture.


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On globalization being self-limiting

I went on a bit of an excursion to the oft-ignored eastern end of the island today with my dad. I have a bunch of photos, but I've done rather a lot of them recently and I have a lot of good blogging material stored up. So tomorrow it will be shots of coconuts, flowers, sun and a spider, and in the meantime it will be globalization. Those with no interest in economics, tune out now.

This whole idea arose from a conversation with my dad. A bit about my dad: he was, until he retired, the head of a large local branch of a big multinational corporation (which shall remain nameless, but you'd have heard of it). As such, although his influence was relatively small, he was privy to all the same meetings and the type of information you'd expect the CEO of a big multinational to know about. He's the kind of person whose very existence makes leftists angry; the kind of guy who says "what's wrong with a monopoly anyway?". If there are any people who can be viewed as being "on the inside" of the much-maligned globalization process, my dad is certainly among them. And he told me some interesting things about globalization from the perspective of a multinational company.

Thirty years ago, when he started in the business, the majority of multinational companies were European, and were organized along lines known as the "European model". The essence of this model was that a central company in Europe could not possibly know enough about a local market to manage factories effectively in Asia from there. Thus, they maintained a lightweight head office and concentrated on hiring very good people: they gave these people a lot of power in their local markets, and told them to get on with running the company.

This was a very successful model, and had an important side-effect. It meant that the multinational wasn't really very multinational, it was more like a federation of national companies. The big, open secret amongst global brands in the 70s and 80s was that they were global brands, not global products. Coca-cola (to pick an unrelated example) in the USA is very similar to Coca-cola in the UK, but Coca-cola in Trinidad is a very different animal, and Coca-cola in Africa is a different recipe again, despite all the fuss about the recipe being a closely-guarded secret. My dad's example was soap: the same brand of soap in Europe was a small bar with a mild scent. In the Caribbean, exactly the same brand of soap was a different size, colour and perfume. Different markets have different tastes, and so each branch of the company manufactured its own variation on the theme.

Through the 80s and 90s, however, McDonald's was in the ascendancy worldwide and with it came a new model of company: the American model, which existed before McDonalds, but which came to be known as the International model afterwards. This model, as practiced at McDonalds, was opposite to the European model: they had a very large central office where staff kept very tight control of what was going on in all the parts of the company around the world, and dictated policy and direction worldwide.

The International model was the product of two things: cheaper communications, and lower trade barriers and tariffs. As telecoms became cheaper and richer (faxes vs. telegraphs, emailed spreadsheets vs. mailed letters), it became more practical to centrally manage a widely-dispersed company. And as trade barriers went down, it became more and more economical to abandon local manufacturing in favour of regional and international manufacturing centres. Instead of 40 factories producing the product for 40 countries, 3 large factories could do the same job, and the extra shipping costs would be absorbed by the economies of scale from larger manufacturing operations. Cheaper communications also made it easier to tighten the "supply chain", a concept which multinational manufacturers like Dell obsess over constantly because so much of their money is tied up in inventory that removing the need for it, or reducing it, saves them enormous sums.

However, there was a hidden consequence of globalized manufacturing: the loss of the unacknowledged "local variations". So suddenly Coke was the same everywhere, and so was the soap and the paper and the butter and the shampoo and a thousand other products you use every day which are manufactured thousands of miles away. And as a result, global brands lose market share the more global they get. This is not speculation: this is from the horse's mouth. People in Africa don't want to drink exactly what people in Norway drink: the climate and the culture are different. Multinationals in the 90s lost market share to local brands better tuned to the needs of the local market. Globalization produced more local brands, not fewer.

Multinationals are not stupid. They are aware that this loss of variation meant a loss of market share. However, they rationalized it by noting that their savings from economies of scale and better supply chain management meant that even with lower market share, their profits were still higher, and they decided they could improve in future by spending more on marketing to convince people that what they really wanted was what everybody else wanted, not some local variation. (This is the current strategy of several multinationals, according to my dad, and it is not, so far, working very well).

Which brings me to my interesting (to me, at least) conclusion: globalization suffers a law of diminishing returns. Past a certain point, the more global and uniform your product, the less well it does because it can't take local variations into account. Therefore, globalization will not inevitably destroy local companies and local culture, simply because culture is inherently local, and so local companies will be preferred a certain amount of the time. So globalization will stabilize at a certain level and then cease its expansion.

That's not a view I've heard from any other source. Have you? And do you reckon the theory holds water?

P.S. This is my Technorati Profile, added so they'll know it's really my blog.


03 November 2009
Dear Mr/Mrs

tanks about your articles, if you have more information about "How being of globazition company" please send to me.
tanks about your cooperation.
With best regard.

Mac Mini and iPod shuffle

Now, don't go ignoring my ever so thoughtful post of globalization below, but I really felt I needed to blog about Apple's two latest products, both of which are masterpieces. I'm in awe.

Mac Mini

It's a Mac desktop. Only it's 6 inches wide, 2 inches high, and doesn't have a keyboard, monitor or a mouse. It's a Mac basic. And this is a genius idea. Suddenly cheap-ass PC users can swap their $500 commodity box for a shiny new iBox without needing to fork out on a new Mac-everything at the same time. Then they can slowly upgrade to an Apple mouse, keyboard, monitor, iBook, G5. It's the upgrade path from PC to Mac, and it's going to be a hit as such. It's also going to get a lot of use out of the kind of people who buy computers that don't need a keyboard and a mouse -- or at least, not most of the time. The people who need a computer-as-appliance, and the fact that it's tiny means that it's ideal for making it your living room media server, your kitchen browser, your in-car jukebox, etc.. But enough from me. Look at what has to say about it, which is a pretty good snapshot of what the public will be thinking:

  • So bright... so beautiful... so precious.
  • A homerun. The perfect home server.
  • okay, that's drool-worthy. (I adored the visuals of the cube.)
  • oh yes, you will be mine. On the quick fast.
  • Just 6.5 inches wide and 2 inches tall, Mac mini provides what you need
  • PC users, Its time to switch.
  • Me likey mini, me linkey mini (Props to Family Guy).
  • I like the idea of hooking it up via KVM to my existing Linux PC for the ultra-workstation.
  • Ooooooh. Want one.
  • Yes please, I'll have a dozen.
  • Searching for a reason - any reason, no matter how tenous, to buy my 5th Mac in 7 years. Stuff it, no reason, but I'm still getting one of these.
  • I have never wanted a Mac. Until Now.
  • I'm not even a Mac user, but this is very cool.
  • bring your own Display, Keyboard, Mouse
  • Now that.. is pretty goodamn sexy.
  • Just 6.5 inches wide and 2 inches tall, Mac mini provides what you need to have more fun with your music, photos and movies - right out of the box
  • Crazy
  • wow
  • hello, perfect computer for my future self on the go.
  • Maybe my parents will finally own a Mac!
  • apple's amazing new, tiny, computer
  • Finally, a Mac I can actually afford
  • So not the iHome but the Mac mini. Cute little computer, might work it's way around I reckon.
  • Looks pretty swaggy to me.
  • One for every room!
  • Wow again. That is cheap. Shame wifi isn't in it - v odd - and there's not enough RAM as ever. But generally, wow.
  • Apple is the shizzle. Seriously.
  • Small yet perfectly formed.
  • I want one. Bad. And almost cheap enough I don't need to justify why ...
  • Dammit! Stop taking away my reasons not to buy a Mac!
  • 'Tis Tiny! I can see these springing up in cars as back-seat entertainment thingies
  • MacMini for $500 - gotta have it!
  • yum yum
  • mmmmmmmmm
  • mmmm Someone just needs to make a mac media centre and then this will defo find a place under my telly
  • Sweet, sweet mini.
  • I'm very impressed with this thing. Mac mini + iPod shuffle = $600.
  • The return of the cube!
  • Very interesting...
  • More cute computing from Apple

Yes, I think it will be popular. I know I'm buying one... I guess I'll be able to afford it by around June sometime...

iPod shuffle

Now this one is... different. This is Apple's entry into the cheap-as-chips flash player market, and it's a clever move. But this isn't a product for me. This is a product for chavs.

Don't believe me? Think about it. It's a big, well-known brand with a lot of cred. Those white headphones are da shizznit. But iPods are expensive! Even the Mini will set you back £250. But the shuffle is only 99 -- and, in a chav-friendly move, hangs around their neck like their over-expensive phones do, making it not just possible but necessary to advertise your purchase to the world.

This is the bling-bling of consumer electronics: cheap and flashy and expensive-looking. And like bling, it will sell and sell and sell. Apple, my congratulations to you. Two products well executed.


12 January 2005
I'm afraid I can't get that excited about the MacMini. I've always conceded that Macs beat PCs hands down aesthetically. And yes, OSX is arguably prettier and more functional than Windows. But at the end of the day, you can still get more power and specs for your dollar on a PC. This new lower price-point product is very welcome, for sure, but really, for the same money you can get much better specs on a PC. And more hardware! I don't know...Macs are pretty, but I don't see how Apple expects to make a serious dent into the PC market unless they can be more price competitive.

My Island Paradise, part 4: sunshine and spiders

The most recent set of photos was taken in two distinct sets, so I'm blogging them separately. We begin today's tour with a reminder:

This is the sun. Remember what that looks like? It looks like that here all the time.

This is the view from the roof of my parents' house again. The sun was shining so it looked a bit nicer.

This is the roof of my parents' house. Note the rainbow glass from the outside. That thing in the corner on the left... the hot tub. And yes, that little silver thing on the left there is a champagne holder. My parents don't live in the same world as I do.

This is the view from the hot tub. I bet you didn't even realise a hot tub needed a view, right? Well, now you know.

Then I got bored and started taking pictures of the shrubbery. This is a pale pink bougainvillea, originally from Brazil (apparently. I learn a lot about my country whenever I start trying to explain it to other people).

I don't know what this is. But it's sort of pretty.

The much more common pink bougainvillea. Tropical flowers are not about subtlety. An anal-retentive botanist, incidentally, would hasten to point out that the bougainvillea is not actually a flower, but a modified leaf. The real flower is the much smaller red stalk inside.

Don't know what this is either. Hell, it might even be European.

And this is a spider! It was clinging to the side of the hot tub when I took the cover off. I include this here because I've been getting a lot of "oh your country is so beautiful" comments, so it sounds like a lot of people are lining up for invitations to paradise. So, for those people I say: look! It's a spider! It's big and scary! It runs faster than you can (over very, very short distances)! We also have scorpions, centipedes, and the occasional tarantula! Sooooo scary! Wooo! Don't say I didn't warn you!

For those of you whom I actually want to visit, I say: oh, hush. It's just a bloody spider. It's only two inches across. It doesn't bite or anything. I've never seen a wild tarantula. Nothing to worry about. Nothing to see here. Move along.

Delete paragraphs as appropriate.


14 January 2005
Seen bigger spiders in baths in Scotland. And it's supposed to be cold there!


14 January 2005
Holy Cow, I need to come visit Trinidad. Wow.
Awesome story about the coconuts.


17 June 2008
Those guys are tearing down the hillside out West!

I think there needs to be a moratorium on going any further up the hill (particularly with bad architecture).

It's a nice view though. Awesome pictures!


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My Island Paradise, part 5: coconuts and crix

Yesterday my dad and I went on an unplanned jaunt off to the other end of the island. For those of you who are following along and making notes (well, you might be...), here's a map:

Trinidad map
We started a little west of the big star that is Port of Spain, across to Sangre Grande (literally "Big Blood", named after a massacre of the indians who lived there... isn't colonial history sweet?) and then along the coast, roughly along the second of those three big curves on the eastern coast that look like big beaches because -- surprise! -- they're really long beaches. Because Trinidad is really tiny, this whole trip -- even along really bad roads -- takes a bit more than 90 minutes.

Our vehicle for today's excursion was my dad's truly obscene BMW SUV, of which he is very proud, and insisted I take a picture.

Mayaro used to be a big coconut-growing region. So you drive along a lot of road which look like this.

And you eventually get to a coast which looks like this, pretty repetitively. If you've been watching any tsunami news coverage, you'll recognize the general shape of what you're seeing.

There are lots of little paths from the road to the beach that look like this.

Which lead to a coastline which looks extensively like this. The Mayaro coast faces the Atlantic, so the water is rough, dirty, and not terribly nice to swim in. The north coast is much nicer.

You get a lot of interesting flotsam and jetsam though, most of it from the Amazon and Orinoco rivers, which empty into the Atlantic below Trinidad and get swept along by currents.

Coconut trees are not, surprisingly, native to Trinidad, or indeed anywhere else in the Caribbean. They come from the pacific. The story of how so many millions of coconut trees ended up in Mayaro is therefore interesting, and indeed I'd never heard it before yesterday. So if any Trinis out there could either refute it or back it up, I'd be grateful. But apparently there was, a couple hundred year ago, a shipload of coconuts on the way from the South Pacific to start up a plantation in Brazil. The ship sank in a storm. However, coconuts float -- that's how they propagate from island to island. So the whole shipment of coconuts floated away from the wreck and floated to shore in Trinidad in their thousands, planting themselves on the east coast. From there, farmers decided to make use of this unexpected windfall, and planted them backwards from the coast for hundreds of metres, as well as carrying them to all other parts of the island.

It's a pretty crazy, random way to transplant an entire species to the Caribbean, but it's pretty interesting and has a certain ring of truth. You certainly don't get coconuts further inland anywhere in Trinidad -- it's all rain forest -- and you certainly don't get them on the north coast, except where they have been fairly obviously planted by people. But it's weird to think the coconuts trees I grew up with everywhere are an alien species.

A little bit further along the coast one of the rivers empties into the sea, forming a little lagoon.

The vegetation in the lagoon is proper swamp vegetation, with mangrove trees with the funky buttress roots to keep themselves upright in the mud. Bet you thought these were only in story-books, right?

We then took a little bit of a trek back inland. See how quickly it gets back to being rain-forest like rather than Pacific-island-ish?

This is what happens when there are no laws governing marketing gambits. This entire little corner store has been decked out in the colours of a single product. It's very striking and not really unattractive. Crix is a type of dry cracker. It tastes great with cheese -- or so any Trini will tell you. In reality, they're horrible, but like all Trini bread products they are packed full of preservatives, so they stay fresh for months, which is important when you're poor in Trinidad. The lifetime of unrefrigerated European-style bread in a tropical climate would be about two days, as opposed to the ten days that the leading Trinidadian brand manages.

This is an accidental shot I got of the Maxi Taxi in its natural habitat. Trinidad's dominant -- indeed, in much of the country its only -- form of mass transport, there are huge fleets of these identical little vans. They seat about 15, crammed in with varying degrees of discomfort and in sweltering heat. However, the journey from one end of the island to the other will cost you less than 30p, so you get what you pay for.

Maxis are all painted white with a coloured band across the middle. The colour of the band indicates the route the taxi is licensed to work, in this case black meaning the Sangre Grande/Mayaro route -- there are also red, yellow, light blue, green and brown. Before you marvel at how clever this is, it should be pointed out that to an outsider there is no indication that this is how the system works. There are no maxi stops -- they stop when you yell out you want to get off, or when you are standing at the side of the road waving to get on -- and no maps telling you what routes they cover, or what colour each route is. It's all a bit chaotic but then, that's what makes the system quintissentially Trinidadian.


14 January 2005
You are indeed a hideous freak of nature. Really. Of course, after getting the frankly disturbing score of 68 on the systematizing quotient test, I didn't bother with the empathy thing. I mean, who cares?


17 June 2008
Crix is only marginally worse that rye crackers i a "gourmet" sense.

Other than that, it is what it is--a light cracker that goes with almost everything under the sun. There is simply nothing else you can throw together in seconds when you are hungry that won't fill you up like a balloon.


06 March 2009
I've been here...very cool drive... came back at night ..high winds & bats.....

heather laltoo ferguson

01 September 2009
These photos are AMAZING!!I have been gone from Trinidad for 35 years but Mayaro is burned into my psyche.For 20 years we spent every July at a beach house there.For us of the diasphora, we lived in paradise and did not know it.My whole life since then has been an attempt to re-capture its magic through writing. Two of my publications on rinidad are noe at the Mt. ALLISON UNIVERSITY LIBRATY .


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Back to the grey

Yesterday's blogging absence was me travelling 6,000 miles. It's dark and it's thirty degrees colder and the tube smells like shit, and I mean actual shit.

On the other hand, I have my double monitors back and ah! sweet, blessed broadband. The first world does have some benefits. Popstarz anyone?

P.S. Could everyone please calm the fuck down over Prince Harry? It was a costume in poor taste. Find something more important to talk about.

Oh, and I scored 48 in the systematizing quotient test. From the test:

You have an above average ability for analysing and exploring a system. On average women score about 24 and men score about 30. Most people with Asperger Syndrome or high functioning autism score between 40-50
Oops. I'm borderline Asperger's, apparently. Or even not very borderline. I'm sure I was just answering with knowledge of the test though, so let's try the empathy quotient test instead:

26. D'oh!

You have a lower than average ability for understanding how other people feel and responding appropriately. Most people with Asperger Syndrome or high-functioning autism score about 20,. On average, most women score about 47 and most men about 42

Would some of you do this test and reassure me that it's a silly test, and I'm not really some hideous freak of nature?


14 January 2005
Almost precisely as fucked up as you - 46 in the systemizing quotient and 27 in the empathy quotient.

However, I agree with the former, but I think the latter is a bit out... I'm generally quite good with empathy issues, I think.

Tom Williams

14 January 2005
47 and 22 for me. Though I think the 22 should have been a bit higher... I do understand how other people are feeling, I just don't care. And a lot of people do talk to me about their problems, they just don't say that I'm a "good listener" because they're all ingrates. :o)


14 January 2005
Test = Rubbish. All these tests have been rubbish! Good pics, excellent trivia, crap tests. Got 41 on the first, couldn't be arsed with the second. It seemed that it gauges ones 'ability' on their own shallow self-perception of their sense of curiosity in relation to some average that Joe Blogs apparently feels. You (we?) people clearly are not empathetic enough to gauge that average anyway ;-) Also those that tend to do things 'strongly' rather than 'slightly' will score lots either way too, which might explain the v high/ v low scores.


14 January 2005

In test 1 I got 23

and in test 2 I got 39

So I'm slightly under average :o


15 January 2005
Ooh, I win! 52 in the systematizing one :). 38 in t'other.

Temporary absence

I'm off to deepest darkest Oxfordshire for a birthday party in 2 minutes, so there won't be much interesting blogging today.

Popstarz last night was good despite my massively sleep-deprived state... unfortunately, I may have burned off all the energy reserves I built up on my vacation in a single night. Oops. Oh well, sleep is for the week.

Also, commisserations to my future housemate J who got hit on the head by a flying bottle and spent the evening in casualty(!). I didn't even hear about it until hours after the event. Speaking of future housemates, I realise I haven't mentioned here yet that I'm moving house :-) Yes, from February 11th I will (hopefully) be in the sunny climes of Finsbury Park -- I'm movin' on up to zone 2, baby. As far as I know housemate J doesn't have a blog, but other housemate T does.

God, I need sleep. Or more caffeine. Mmmm, lucozade and Maynard sours for breakfast.

Sense of occasion

Last night I went to dinner with a bunch of my UK sort-of-family (various divorces and remarriages mean they're not family at all, really, but we treat them as such). It was a black-tie do. Now, if you've spent any time with me you've probably heard my rant about suits (although I notice I haven't blogged about it: to do).

It was strange, however, the way a bunch of (extremely fine) crystal and (very old) china plus a bunch of posh frocks and tuxedos converted the evening from "dinner" into... well, an event. Of course, it doesn't prove anything -- maybe we'd have got along as well if we hadn't all been dressed like monkeys -- but it certainly was special. However, I suspect the amazing food, fabulous dessert and divine post-dinner cheeses may have had something to do with that as well. Anyway, it was all very entertaining, and please invite me again. I may have looked like a trapped monkey in my suit but I was a trapped monkey being fed extremely fine cheese. It was a pointless hoop to jump through, but one I would gladly do again.

And there we have it. The soul of suitness that I wouldn't sell for a £60k investment banking gig I would gladly sell for some really nice cheese, apparently. That doesn't mean I'm about to go and get a job in an investment bank, though. This is not a reversal of my position. But I can, at least, see where other people are coming from on this.

Unrelatedly, today I went back to Twelfth House with M and Mikey, which was most enjoyable but terrifyingly expensive. I can't believe we ever ate there, far less went back, but it was extremely good. Another place to put on the "bi-annual" rather than "weekly" visitation list, I think, unless I get a huge raise sometime soon.

Tom Williams

16 January 2005
Suits are fab. If one treats them just as something one has to wear, then the suits tend to be dull and the wearers look awkward. Wear them because one wants to, however, and get a nice one that's the right cut for the wearer, with a suitable combination of shirt and tie, and they can look wonderful. I'll get a photo of me wearing my new suit and prove it. :oP


17 January 2005
This implies that one can find a suit that one likes. I've never seen *anyone* who I don't think would look better in something other than a suit. I don't like how anyone looks in suits, so there's very little chance of me deciding I like the look of *me* in one.

Invisible black

Tonight London social life kicked into gear again when we went to see Festen, an excellent and deeply disturbing play. If you would like to see it stop reading now, as what I want to write about involves revealing a few major plot elements which might spoil it for you.

Gone yet?

Go on. Go.

Right. In my now-usual Motorcycle Diaries fashion* the curtain went up without me having an inkling that incest was a central theme of the play, so I was even more shocked than the rest of the audience when the family's "dark secret" (as every review insists on calling it) is revealed. And so, maybe, having already been noticeably more shocked than the others around me earlier, I was more aware when it happened again.

The play also touches briefly on racism, in a clever scene that brings humour to the play and also provokes thought about our contrasting attitudes to these two generally abhorrent topics. Namely, that while "abhorrent" is a name readily applied to incest, I don't think I would find as many people applying it to racism.

Make no mistake, there were shocked gasps from the audience as the family revealed their appallingly bigoted views. But was it only me who thought they dissolved too quickly afterwards into laughter? Did it seem to me their shock was dismissed a fraction too soon? The play never, at any point, tries to make light of the crime of incest. The audience was shocked into silence for several minutes each time it came to the surface. So why did they giggle 30 seconds after the racism? Why is it okay to make a joke of racism? Is it really a much lesser crime? Is it that mental degradation is less offensive than aggressively physical degradation, even when the latter is only obliquely referenced while the former occurs right in front of us on stage?

Personally, the casual, even conspicuously joyful way the family bonded over racism was far more shocking to me than the father's sexual acts. Everyone in the family was appalled and disgusted by the father's behaviour, and yet they sang along to a song that had me recoiling in horror while people a few seats away were laughing at the lyrics. I can't help but think that it's me. But what would it be about me that would mean this apparently unusual reversal of horrors?

On the tube on the way back, I came up with a possibility. Racism is something that very few people in the (overwhelmingly white, middle class) audience would have experienced. But growing up, the racial minority was me.

Now, I will be the first to admit that white in Trinidad hardly have a difficult time. Four decades after the end of colonialism, a group who make up less than half of one per cent of the population still hold a very disproportionate share of the wealth and influence (although their reprentation in government and the public service at nearly all levels is a lot fairer, i.e. nearly nil). However, I do know what it's like to be thought less of because of your colour, and what a humiliating experience that can be, how unfair and ridiculous it is.

I also know that for all its fine talk of equal opportunities and multiculturalism, Britain is still a profoundly racist society. And I know that precisely because of my position. You see, it's not talked about, but when there are a lot of white people in a room together, the boundaries of what is acceptable to say... relax somewhat. Tongues are a little looser. Attitudes are not quite as squeaky clean, reservations usually unvoiced are mumbled, secret dislikes are whispered. I know what you say about black people when you think no one who would mind is listening. I know what you say about Muslims when their backs are turned. I know that when you say 'Muslim' you mean brown guys with beards, not people who follow Islam and can come in any colour. I know that you think 'ethnic minority' is a synonym for 'brown'. I have heard those things you say, those things you thought would never, by unspoken agreement, leave that room. And I was disgusted.

It makes me feel like the invisible black person. I can hear what you're saying about people I consider as close to me as I am to you -- i.e. not very, but your colour doesn't make a difference -- and yet you seem unaware that I'm there, unaware that you offend, as unashamed of your crime as that father was of the crimes he committed against his own children. It's like being a closeted homosexual in a room full of heterosexuals making gay jokes, and twice as offensive because while homosexuality is (stupidly) still an issue it's considered possible for a rational person to have negative views about, racism was an issue we were supposed to have got over decades ago, and yet it's not gone, it is merely hiding.

I expect I will hear many protestations of innocence, and many defences of the progress the UK has supposedly made against racism. I don't deny that progress has been made, but I dispute that we have come as far as we like to believe. Because I know the expression someone has when they look at you and have already judged you, because I've had it given to me by black Trinidadians who should know better. And I also see who you give it to. And with thick lips and a 5-week Caribbean tan during my university days, I have even seen it given to me, just underlining the stupidity of a system based on something as mutable and irrelevant as colour.

Do I overstate the problem? Perhaps, but really I don't think so. I think the UK has a problem it doesn't like to talk about. Perhaps that wasn't the message I was supposed to take home from Festen, but that's what I got, so I'm giving it to you.

* I sat through the entire film without realising it was supposed to be about Che Guevara, not having read any reviews of it.


18 January 2005
People have complained that comments are broken. Testing...

Hee hee

This morning I have been fixing style sheets, modifying text-manipulation functions, estimating development schedules and planning architectural changes. And they pay me!

Sometimes I really love my job.

Update: since I'm moving, why not take my old room? It's fab, I promise, and uber-cheap! Tonight I went out with my future housemates for the first time in a housemates-only context, and it was fun and made me really excited about moving. Roll on Finsbury Park!


11.52 and I haven't blogged! Nearly broke my resolution!

M comes round to visit on Wednesday evenings to cook. This means I do non-Internetty stuff all evening. So I have not much to blog, except that I won free entry to Popstarz this week (by entering a competition on their website), possibly the only week I'm not intending to go. Dammit! Anyone want to pretend to be me on Friday?


19 January 2005
Kinda cutting it close there, aren't ya?


Okay, so there was no blog yesterday. So I'll just have to blog twice today to make up for that. I don't really have an excuse for yesterday; I just got caught up writing a cute little application to manage the feeds in Planet Seldo for me. Now that Planet Afterlife is back on its feet (and long may it reign!), PS is going to be taking a different direction, and will consist of a bunch of interesting non-Warwick feeds, with a new look. Look for it this evening, hopefully.

P.S. "Virgins in the Valley" by Gabi and the Whoremoans is one of the best new songs I've heard in ages. Ask me for a copy.


25 January 2005
Waaah. I'm not on either!

Exactly how I'm crazy

Narcissistic:Very High

-- Personality Disorder Test - Take It! --

I'm sure no one will be surprised to learn that I "seek attention and praise" and am "self-centered". It gets quite close to the bone though:

They tend to be choosy about picking friends, since they believe that not just anyone is worthy of being their friend. They tend to make good first impressions, yet have difficulty maintaining long-lasting relationships. They are generally uninterested in the feelings of others and may take advantage of them.

Whoops! I didn't realise that was a common psychosis. Likewise, the schizoidal stuff sounds like me:

They sometimes believe to have extra sensory ability or that unrelated events relate to them in some important way. They generally engage in eccentric behavior and have difficulty concentrating for long periods of time. Their speech is often over elaborate and difficult to follow.

On the plus side, I'm not as crazy as I used to be... back in high school I was also avoidant and clinically depressed. Go me!

This test via Errorfied, who was really quite insistent that I link to him.

Must try harder

Okay, not been doing terribly well about posting every day, have I? I do have stuff to write about, I've just not been in the mood to do so. Life's busy, what can I say?

Went to an OUT party last night with Moz, who's visiting from Basingstoke. Low attendance + free bar == lots of very drunk people, but I believe a good time was had by all.

In the meantime, check my linklog for the story of that amazing VW Polo ad.


Ever since I discovered the Internet, I've had a habit -- which I have made a conscious effort to maintain -- of continuous exploration and tinkering. I could say, to make myself sound terribly clever and in-control, that having founded one reasonably successful career on skills I taught myself by reading stuff on the Internet, it would seem reasonable to assume I could do it again. But really, the career thing was a total accident, and I still can't believe people pay me to do what I love. I tinker because I like tinkering.

Currently, as my linklog hints, I'm tinkering in Java with an MSN client. The idea being that I'll create a little robot who logs on to MSN and waits for messages from me, and then posts them to my blog. Hurrah! So far I've got a little robot that logs on to MSN and then crashes and burns, but you've got to start somewhere.


25 January 2005
Oooh. I wrote an MSN client once (in a rubbishy language - but that's not the point!). Used to do all the things a MSN client should do back when MSNP2 was still an accepted protocol... Best of luck :).

I really must get back into the habit of keeping a notebook by my bed for writing down the thoughts...

I really must get back into the habit of keeping a notebook by my bed for writing down the thoughts that occur to me at 2 in the morning. I swear I had a really good idea for a blog last night. Perhaps it'll come to me, stream-of-consciousness style.

I don't blog about work, usually. It's generally pointless to vent spleen about people or policies, and generally boring otherwise. It can also get you fired, something I'm anxious not to happen. So suffice to say that yesterday was a particularly bad day, in which an enormous number of things went wrong* and I was very discouraged. But today people did the right things, and said the right things, and I even managed to come up with a useful solution to a difficult problem. So today was good. See? I told you it was boring.

I'm really looking forward to moving now; I've got all psyched up about my new neighbourhood although seeing so many people enthusiastic about my new room makes me worry that I'll miss it!

I would have said that "everything that could have gone wrong went wrong", but this isn't true. There were no snakes, and I didn't have a headache.


25 January 2005
I'm glad you're excited but you'll be in the wrong neighbourhood in Finsbury.


:-) xx


26 January 2005
Yes, but all the comments in Finsbury are about Finsbury Park, because everyone on that site makes the same mistake! :-)

Comment fucking spam

That's it. Those comment-spamming bastards knocked all my domains offline for an hour by overloading my server. Henceforth all comments on all MT blogs on my server are disabled until further notice. I will probably be switching away from MovableType, too.


27 January 2005
Aw fooie. My blog's been spam-free for weeks now, after I painstakingly went through every old post, removing spam and closing commentage.

/me laughs at Laurie saying "All my domains" in an Evil-but-temporarily-Thwatred Emperor voice.

red bottom shoes

17 August 2012


Various discussions of house-moving and housemates, both from where I am now into my new place and for choosing a replacement for me where I am now, have made me think about sociability in general and my own in particular.

"Am I a sociable person?", I ask myself, as I sit alone in my room talking to friends via the Internet and pouring my soul into my blog, ignoring my flatmates in the next room. But still, I don't think I'm antisocial -- after all, I *am* socialising, currently directly with three people simultaneously, not counting the indirect contact with the hundred-odd regular readers (really!) of this blog. I go out regularly, text constantly, and email during the day the people who are out of reach of the other methods.

To be certain, I don't spend an awful lot of time physically in the presence of other people, apart from going out. I'm not one of those people who turn up at a friend's house and hang out the whole day doing not much, or who kill the hours in the evening chatting to housemates. I tend to regard time when I'm not doing some specific activity (like shopping, or clubbing, or going to a movie) as regretfully wasted down-time, not something to be enjoyed in and of themselves. I don't think that's really antisocial so much as it is hyperactive.

I also draw much less distinction between "real-life" interaction and online interaction than most people seem to. I find it quite hard to remember if somebody told me something online or in person, and when the last time I saw somebody "in real life" was, separately to when I last chatted with them. But I regard that as a positive thing -- my online and offline lives are thoroughly integrated.

I like communicating with people. That's my definition of socializing. I just don't necessarily like spending time in the company of people, because it's so much more efficient to socialize while doing other things as well.

I'm not sure what my point is here -- another half-finished thought. But I'll leave it here anyway.

Fuck bars

My week started well, but then rapidly declined. Work was shit because of infrastructural issues that prevented my doing anything useful, which frustrated me no end. Home life was stressful because of having to juggle prospective flatmates and current flatmates (although hopefully by the end of tonight that will have been sorted as they seem to like them all, and vica versa. Once I get my deposit back I'm not too bothered). Then my already crap mood was then deepened by the mistake of spending several hours at a bar.

First, let's define:

Quiet, spacious establishment with lots of tables and comfy chairs, and an uncrowded bar with friendly serving wenches/whatever the male equivalent of a wench is (lad?)
Crowded, noisy establishment with no chairs to be found and loads of little ledges for leaning drinks on and not much else. Frequently also full of smoke, and compound the conversational noise with music.

I mean, I realise that alcohol is fun and everything, even if I don't do it myself. But is there any reason to imbibe it in such awful venues? What part of the prospect of standing up in a smoky room screaming at each other is the lure?

Clearly the market has already solved here, so I guess it's an equation of the cost of drinks at spacious places versus places that cram them in like sardines. I guess the music is useful for disguising the fact that stupid people aren't actually capable of coming up with enough conversation to fill the five hours of drinking time they desire. The smoke is because future cancer patients are inconsiderate bastards, and no-one's banned it yet. And the public drinking establishments exist because drinking at home is inconvenient for meeting people who you may not know very well.

I can see all those arguments and understand why bars exist. I just resent the fact that I'm forced to go to one when the primary argument for going to one is a socioeconomic argument that doesn't apply to me since cokes cost £1.50 practically anywhere you go. I've been nice about it to date: just because I don't drink I don't want to force my choice on others. But enough is enough. It's not that I don't like bars, it's that bars actively suck, and the only reason people put up with them is the drinks prices. People who want to meet me out and about will have to learn to love late-night cafes and quiet restaurants, because I'm boycotting bars from here on in.

Decisions, decisions...

I dunno. You decide, okay?

And unrelated apart from the tenuous link that decisions can have graphical consequences, my current score on the political compass:

Your political compass

Economic Left/Right: 4.00
Social Libertarian/Authoritarian: -6.00

My continuing slide rightward continues...


29 January 2005
(-8, -7), as expected... :)


29 January 2005
You can still redeem yourself, or at least become a decent rightwinger by getting more libertarian.


29 January 2005
I like the 4th font but the 6th or the 8th are more you. Also turns out I'm both more left wing (no surprise) and more libertarian than you: -5.5 & -6.8.


30 January 2005
Economic Left/Right: -4.00
Social Libertarian/Authoritarian: -4.10

And 6th one down!! x


30 January 2005
6th font down, methinks. Also, your comments box takes a million years to load! And before you ask, I'm not using internet-by-pigeon...


30 January 2005
I was going to say 6th down ealier, but got bored waiting for the comments to load. Besides, You've ignored everyone anyway ;-)


30 January 2005
The server is having issues. And boy, do you people ever prefer font number 6. I chose the 7th in the end, which is fairly similar but has a more usefully shaped S :-)


31 January 2005
Economic Left/Right: -3.25
Social Libertarian/Authoritarian: -4.46

By Nelson Mandela, Ghandi and the Dalai Lama! ;-)Why does commenting open another window btw?

Beautiful mistakes

I never implemented either of these designs for Seldo.Com, but sometimes I wish I had, especially that ying yang confection -- totally impractical, but fun to look at. Clicky for full-sized versions (yes, it really would have been more than 1000 pixels wide...

Listening to: Belle and Sebastian, Expectations:

Tell veronica the secrets of the boy you never kissed
She’s got everything to gain ’cause she’s a fat girl with a lisp

Thinking about: the stance of the Liberal Democrats on the welfare state, and the desirability of a Global Standard Culture.
Working on: yet another thing I won't finish.


29 January 2005
I love the black version....


29 January 2005
It used to be black until 2002, actually, but you didn't know me then :-)

Chris Purcell

31 January 2005
I remember you fiddling with the design of the second one at Erasmus.


07 February 2005
i go to school now with the whoremoans bassist. hes one of my best friends


Planet Seldo has been updated with a look and feel, at long last. It took surprisingly long to get even such a simple look down, and of course it was instantly wrecked by Dom posting 2000 full-sized pictures of himself. But the boxes are stretchy up to 2000 pixels, which is nice. Consider it a preview of where general look and feel of Seldo.Com is headed.

Homesick for a place that doesn't exist

I went to see Garden State this evening. It's an excellent movie with quite important things to say, and it also made me think a lot -- not necessarily about what was in the movie.

You know that point in your life when you realize that the house that you grew up in isn’t really your home anymore? All of the sudden, even though you have some place where you can put your shit, that idea of home is gone. You’ll see when you move out... it just sort of happens one day, and it’s just gone. And you can never get it back. It’s like you get homesick for a place that doesn’t exist. I mean it’s like this rite of passage, you know. You won’t have this feeling again until you create a new idea of home for yourself, you know, for your kids, for the family you start, it’s like a cycle or something. I miss the idea of it. Maybe that’s all family really is. A group of people who miss the same imaginary place.

This evening, I was talking to a friend, and -- in the context of trying to find someone to date who was similar to me -- I said that "I've given up on the idea of being unique". She completely disagreed. I was defensive about it, and like most things I am defensive about, it's probably true. I'm unique, or I damn well better be.

I've always tried to be unique. But growing up, I didn't have any stuff I could really be unique about. I was, it was clear, going to be good at all the same things my darling brothers were good at. I could better than them, or worse than them, but I was hardly unique. So faced with the inability to have a unique talent, I fell into the trap that too many people fall into, and defined my identity by my weaknesses, not my strengths.

Too many people do this. Too many people build their whole personality around being "emotional", or disorganized, or clingy. They make a fuss about their allergies, exaggerate their fears until they are phobias, accentuate their dislikes until they are hatreds. I know, because I've done all these things myself, while denying to myself that I was doing so. But I did. I searched for ways of being different by rejecting the things I knew I'd be good at, simply because they'd already been done.

And I think that's why I clung so tightly, and so long, to the gay identity. Now, here was a uniqueness! It's not just an infirmity in the eyes of many, it's a culture! I can adopt a whole history of oppression and hatred and claim it as my own, and be arrogant about others' ignorance and melodramatic about how tortured I am and aggressive about how I tell other people about it. I can be Gay with a capital G. It's not pretend, it's not exaggerated, I really am gay. So, so gay.

This is not to belittle the very real, and very horrible, situation that millions of gay people around the world have been, are in, and will be in in future. It's not even to belittle how I felt at the time -- I really did have that horrible time, I really did get depressed, I really did plan that suicide. It all happened. I'm certainly still gay -- well, queer -- and I still believe that we have rights we have not yet won, and that are worth fighting for. Above all, I still believe the term is we.

But in my own, little, personal story, I have to acknowledge some truths. So there's a minor little tweak, a few words to friends who need to know, and not a whole lot of change in behaviour. Just saying when a girl is hot, when I wouldn't have before. Acknowledging that my sudden friendliness is attraction, and not just a good mood. Probably, beyond this, nothing will ever happen that would have happened before. But it's important to admit the possibility.

I don't have to limit myself to be different: I don't have to stay with negatives. I don't have to skip that sport, or overreact to that fear, or ignore that sex. I am my positives: my strengths, my skills, and my attractions. And I am unique in them.

Update: sorry to break the tone of the post, but I just have to say there is an incredibly hot boy in my living room right now. Dammit, why did housemate B have to wait until I was leaving to bring this one around?