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Wednesday, July 01, 2015

Stand-up Revisited

Tonight I'm going to Snatch Comedy on Ponsonby Road for my second go at performing a stand-up set since I quit smoking.




It will be interesting trying a diferent venue as previously I've only ever done the Classic on Queen St.

My first go was at the end of March, 3, nearly 4 months into my quit and I tried to do a set on the lighter side of giving up smoking. There doesn't seem to be a lighter side I was able to find and express, so I bombed (The audience decided I wasn't funny). All surviving recordings of that set are now in a kryptonite lined box buried deep in the forbidden zone. Future comedy archeologists may mine it for lost material related to the smoking-age, but it will never be seen in public again in my lifetime.

I've regained some confidence since then and also tonight I won't be talking about nicotine addiction, vaping, tobacco or nicotine replacement therapy. I'm just going to try to do a regular stand-up about an aspect of human stupidity that focusses on a couple of low hanging targets.

Weirdly enough, at that 3-4 month mark I was still so totally into thinking of things in terms of my quit that I didn't especially want to rail against other forms of human stupidity, nor I suspect would I have found it easy to write a set about them. Tonight I don't even want to mention smoking.

I'm thinking of the change in my attitude as a positive sign of my on-going recovery. Let's hope I still fee the same tomorrow.

Monday, June 22, 2015

Food For Thought. Notes for a comedy set

I'm ready. I'm going back. This rime I know what I want to say and it's going to be funny.

My past attempts

 1. I portrayed Death. A vaguely nineteen fifties movie death, but somehow less competent. Perhaps out was a sub Pratchett death, before the great man's cat got him.

I walked away from this with my head held high. achieve what I wanted I had nothing more to prove.

2.hand sanitiser madness. Why it's pointless killing the bacteria on your hands.
This time I timed it badly. To get on stage I needed to sign up for a contest. Somehow my second ever time on stage worked and I got though to the semis. I then made a classic mistake. I over analysed where my act seemed to work best and changed it. One of three best laughs was where i forgot my line and had a pause. I tried to incorporate it and some other fortuitous laughs in the set.  This didn't work and I bombed.

Interestingly enough this year I've seen several acts on Britain's Got Talent making the same mistake and if they'd just stuck to what they did well in the auditions they would have been so much better.

3 months onto my quit I tried to do a set on quitting smoking. What was I thinking? A more experienced comic might have carried it off but even them I don't know... The material I had was very weak. I know I didn't have the strength or the experience. I know part of how I went wrong.

4. Time to try again. This time I'm determined to avoid the mistakes I made on my second and third attempts. I'm not going to over analyse accidental successes and I'm sure as Elle going to make sure my material is stronger. It already is.

I've got enough material. I need to edit it down to 6 minutes and practice practice practice.
Meanwhile I've mailed Scott requesting access once again to the Classic Comedy Club's stage.

Saturday, May 30, 2015

Finding Liszto, a poem



I searched the net's creative commons
I wanted new comics,
I wanted good ones
I found some art, a three year old would draw
I found sites, years to lie abandonned
Just now I found you, Liszto.

Three frames stand upon the page
"This song's among my best"
"This song's my worst"
"This song's my best, so far"
This cartoon was your last, Liszto.

Three years ago a random stranger paused
to comment on your page
"I really enjoy these. Keep it up! K."
I wish you had, you showed promise. I see it, K. saw it.
A shame you did not see it, Liszto.

I looked on your works and despaired, but
Your greatness, like Ozymandias'
is left on the endless page
I close your tab to see the next.
Goodbye Liszto.

Inspired by a search for creative commons webcomics for lising on my Best Webcomics blog mostly finding abandonned sites.

I tried to write this as blank verse, eventually I gave up the unequal struggle and it ended up much more free verse than blank.

Liszto.com was a servicable webcomic. It wasn't a particulaly bad example, nor really was it among the best, I was starting to tire.


Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Getting RSS or Atom Feeds from Common Software

I choose to consume media through an rss reader where possible. If I can see the feed symbol on the page it's easy, but not all sources show it. When I can't see it, my News reader (Feed on feeds) may be able to extract it from page headers but failing that I need to find it by searching.

I can never remember what's the modifier for each option, so I've decided to create this page as an Aide-mémoire

SoftwareFormatURL Notes
BlogspotAtomxxx.blogspot.com/feeds/posts/defaultChange .co.nz (etc) to .com
BlogspotRSSxxx.blogspot.com/feeds/posts/default?alt=rssChange .co.nz (etc) to .com
Tumblrrssxxx.tumblr.com/rss/
Wordpress.com RSS https://xxx.Wordpress.com/feed/
Wordpress (self hosted) RSS http://xxx.com/wordpress/feed/
or
http://xxx.com/feed/

feed can be replaced by rss or atom

Some sites with comic authoring modules also use xxx.com/comic/feed or xxx.com/comic/feed/

Thursday, May 21, 2015

Saying "Goodbye" to Quit-line blogs

Last night one of my Quit-line supporters from my early days through to today since announced that he was leaving the quit-line blogs. As he was doing this because he was feeling bad about something that happened it caused considerable discussion. Included in this were some people saying that if he left they would too. While I had problems with my supporter's departure I've been pondering the other people's reaction.

Many of my supporters from my early days on quit-line, and others I supported in turn have left over the past 8 months. Some left because they relapsed, some because they no longer saw the blogs as constructive for their own personal journey to being smoke free, some left in a blaze of (in)glory and some just vanished. Over time nearly all of us go away. Quit-line is a transitory place.

Some time back I realised that I was too committed to those blogs for my continued healing and consciously reduced my involvement. I blog less there and  more importantly I read less there. Before I cut back I usually read every blog posted on the site and commented on most. Now I have a small list of bloggers I follow and support and read everything they write, but far less often read much of the All bloggers pages. Realistically within the Supported group of bloggers there's a core group of around a dozen who I feel close enough to and who write often enough to keep me committed.

As I'm very infrequently replacing membership in this core group, it means that as these people graduate from the quit-line blogs the relevance of the blogs to me is slowly but steadily dropping. I see this as a positive move towards not needing quit-line.

So, is there any single person who, if they left, I'd leave too? Eventually I'll reach the point in my quit where I'll no longer feel an advantage to being there. It's possible that I'll be at this point for a while before I consciously realise I've reached it, it may even be the departure of another blogger that makes me realise I've reached that point, but until then I can't think why I should feel a need to leave because someone else decided they should.

I hope my friends stay and contribute for as long as it helps their quits, only leaving once it is no longer good for their personal progress. They shouldn't leave for me and shouldn't do it for any other blogger.

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

A smoking dream

I'm sure I've had them before, but this time I woke up in the middle so I got to remember it. I guess this was a lucid dream, it was certainly believable and followed a logical progression.

I was at a social (probably business related social given how people were dressed) gathering at a place very similar to Auckland University's student union quad. There was indoor outdoor flow and I was outside talking to people.

I bludged a cigarette and smoked it, it was so nice, it was every falling off the waggon first cigarette rolled into one. It was just one so I wasn't going to reset my stats, I've recommended to enough people on quit-line that they shouldn't reset their stats for just one and only a few days for a couple so I was being consistent. Then a bit later I was having another one without even thinking about it. Someone pointed this out and I realised it was a second one, I wasn't even getting that great first cigarette sensation, just having a yucky maintenance cigarette, a slave cigarette.

I put it out immediately and was devastated. I then tried to work out if I should reset my stats back by 5 days or ten. I woke up while I was having this internal debate so I'll never know what I would have chosen but even in a dream I wasn't going to reset back to day 1 for 1½ cigarettes).

When I woke there was another strange thing about this dream. The cigarettes had a logo on them that looked a lot like the Rothmans crest, but rendered in black and white ... I never smoked Rothmans on a regular basis. Holiday brand for about my last 10 years, with other cheaper brands before that. Drum was always my loose tobacco of choice.

When I woke up I was confronted with how scary the thought of going back to smoking is and this dream really had me frightened.

Will it strengthen my resolve? I don't know, but I can't see it weakening it.

Thursday, May 14, 2015

Quitting Smoking, 250 days done.

Smokefree days: 250 days
Cigarettes NOT smoked: 7500
Total savings: $6,725.00

Another "Round" number, I do so like them and like to mark my progress. The problem is that progress, as such, seems to have plateaued. Obviously the behavioural reward part of the addiction hasn't been exercised for 250 days while the chemical part of the addiction was dealt to over 200 days ago.

My fitness levels are back at the "good-enough" level. I can go for my exercise bike rides and have no wish to step up to going to a gym or anything. As I'm no longer seeing any major advances in heath, fitness, or non-smoking, the days are just turning into one after another.

The addiction is still there though, just biding her time waiting for my complacency and comfort  to make it worth her effort to pounce. Unfortunately I think I have been getting complacent.

Yesterday I was fighting Nicodemon who had seemingly popped out of nowhere mid afternoon and decided to push the "Just have one" line real hard. Needless to say I successfully resisted the siren calls. I walked down to the convenience store on Kingdon St and bought an ice cream and some mints instead.

The ODAAT, DDDD, NOPE, etc mantras are becoming more important in my quit now than they have been for a long time.

Tuesday, May 05, 2015

A Dot to hospital and back

I couldn't tell you exactly how long ago it was but a few years back, Dot, my Mother-in-law was diagnosed with emphysema. She quit smoking almost immediately, using lozenges and made it seem easy. I didn't know how she managed it but when my own time to quit came around, her example was part of my understanding that I could indeed quit.


Since then she's developed other health problems, and when visiting her in hospital on a couple of occasions where she was in an Accident and Emergency department, I quietly slipped out every hour or so to have a cigarette without rubbing her nose in it.

Last night she was rushed to Auckland Hospital. Tessa was with her for a while and then the two of us went in this morning. It turned out that the situation was both better and worse than I expected. There was a weird bit in that for the first time I wasn't slipping out and leaving the hospital  for the smokes while at the same time, there were times I so wanted an excuse to nip outside.

By midday we knew that she wouldn't need to be kept in for a second night and she was returned to her geriatric hospital mid afternoon.

There's no moral or lesson for me or for you in this story. It just was for us and I needed to document it. Normally I'd write it up for the quit-line blog but tonight I don't feel like putting it there in this form. Perhaps I am finally starting to distance myself from there for real.

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

My favourite is also the healthiest of NZ's popular potato chips

Neato. Normally I get to report that something I thought was healthy is actually a gluten fueled saturated fat nightmare. Today I found a recent article on Stuff showing that I have it right(*) for once.

Are potato crisps all the same or do some stand out as healthier? Stuff lifestyle put six popular brands to the test. These six different crisps were compared nutritionally. Their total fat, saturated fat, sodium and kilojoule contents were used to determine the "healthiest" brand(s). Comparisons were made using "original" or "salted" varieties (these normally contain fewer additives than flavoured varieties) and 20 volunteers were also asked to rate them on taste. THE RESULTS - FROM HEALTHIEST TO LEAST HEALTHY No 1: Proper Hand-Cooked Crisps - Marlborough Sea Salt (our purchase cost $4.69)

OK, OK. No potato chip is ever the ultra healthy option, but at least I've been choosing the least bad option of many & I do like their chips.

Saturday, April 18, 2015

Reading in dreams. A prophesy that wasn't

I've heard many times that you can't read in a dream. For more than 30 years  I've also known from personal experience that this isn't universally true. I first heard the statement many-many years ago,possibly in Carl Sagan's 1977 book The Dragons of Eden which I read sometime before I moved to Wellington in late 1979.

Some time later than this, but while still living where I lived from 1980 until 1985, I had a dream where I read a Dominion Newspaper's front page saying that Scott Base had been destroyed by fire. When I awoke I remembered the headline,  the date of the paper (Month and day), an NZPA byline and the time of day (Early morning).

As the April date of the paper was only a few days after the dream, I was very careful to let a couple of trusted friends know about the dream and was vastly relieved when the date came and went without any reports of damage to the base.

Scott Base, then, as now, was New Zealand's main Antarctic scientific base so it would have been a major blow had the dream come true. Then, as now, I was a rationalist and did not believe in prophetic dreams, so I did not alert the authorities, I believed that I would have been regarded as a kook.

More than thirty years have gone by now, with no major fires reported there. For the first few years I paid attention to the news every April, but gradually things changed so it was no longer reasonable to have any credence that even if a fire happened that it could be associated to my dream. I've never completely kept it secret, but I've also never talked publicly about that dream before.

Other than personal changes, mostly minor to others, there have been major and meta changes. The Dominion is no longer published under that name, NZPA has wound up, I get my news from 24 hour news TV and newspaper sites on the Internet so no longer read newspapers in paper form.

This dream can no longer come true. It was not a prophesy. There was no warning that unless someone (possibly me) changed their behaviour, a deity would smite the base. It was a dream, it involved reading a newspaper front page, something I could do, it did not involve my having an "eye of god" view of the base.  Because it was limited to things reasonable in my life then and it lacked supernatural overtones, it was thoroughly believable, and that was the scary thing.

Imagine if a coincidence had happened? Imagine if a fuel fire had destroyed the base on that day. If I had believed I could have prevented it, I would have felt dreadful. In my defence, I doubted then, as I doubt now, that anyone would have listened to me.I described it to the friends I told about it as a weird dream, not one of them suggested I should try to warn anyone.

I'm not a superstitious person, but I can imagine how one would have felt if they believed that this was a message from God or an Angel. I can understand why they feel a need to warn. What if instead of a dated newspaper, they were simply told that an event was "Near"? Thankfully I was spared this.

Any time after 1995 I could have written about this, so why today? I'm documenting it today because I read a blog Comics I don't understand by "CIDU Bill" where he talked about reading (in multiple languages even) in a dream of his. This reminded me that the 30th anniversary of the last possible date of the dream had passed, and it would be good to document it now.

Friday, April 17, 2015

Election website nominated for Webby award

On The Fence - an interactive web tool devised by Massey University design students - has been nominated for a Webby Award. The Webby’s are the annual awards for excellence on the Internet, with nominees selected by The International Academy of Digital Arts and Sciences.

The other four nominees in the political blog/websites category are Rolling Stone magazine’s online coverage of America’s Gun Violence Epidemic, and US political news/commentary sites factcheck.org, truthdig, and politico. Winners of The Webby’s People Voice awards are determined by the number of popular votes nominees receive.

Saturday, April 11, 2015

Backpackers "Steal" van by mistake

When I first read this I thought it was young tourists trying it on
Three German tourists say they have become unintentional vehicle thieves through a quirk of backpacker culture.

The tourists said they thought they were allowed to take a van left at Christchurch Airport with the keys in the driver's door as they had been told that backpackers sometimes left vehicles they could not sell at airports for other backpackers to take.
More at Stuff.co.nz
Then I thought a bit more and remembered a trip to the UK with my father over 40 years ago. He'd bought a barely roadworthy car for getting around in and late in the trip the question of how we would get rid of it came up. Before he found a wreckers who would accept it, he seriously considered simply gifting it to an incoming tourist at the airport. I can't remember if he mentioned that he knew of some place where this was expected or if he was just blowing off steam.

It sounds like backpackers are now a bit more organised.

I hope this conviction doesn't overly harm the futures of these 3 young Germans.

Obviously I didn't hear the full story, but from what I read in Stuff, I would have given them the benefit of the doubt.

Monday, March 16, 2015

Internet New Zealand member consultation

Gosh, has it been ½ a year already? It seems like only yesterday we had the September InternetNZ consultation on the 30th. I blogged about it, but I was totally wrapped up in the non smoking issues and paid little attention to the actual issues in my report.

Tonight was almost the mixture as before. I feel that we tend to discuss the same issues over and over again without advancing what we are seeking to achieve. Sure there are different views, and I could accept if we went with one or more of the view points I oppose, at least we would be doing something.

It's more of a topic for ¿Que? than for here, but I honestly feel that we stand today at a crossroads, the internet can be used either as the greatest tool for the free exchange of ideas between the peoples of the world and if not ushering a time of peace, at least usher in a time where we understand our opponents enough to know why we fight; or the internet can be used as an engine of repression that would make the world of Orwell's 1984 seem liberal. Already from the cellphones we all carry it is possible to do far more information gathering than the telescreens in 1984 could manage.

Internet NZ is the only New Zealand organisation that understands the issues, has the funding to be involved and has the mandate. I only wish it had the will.


Meanwhile, the drink and the smokes? Predictably enough I felt far less on edge than in September. Going home, despite the drink, I felt no more than my usual mild desire for a smoke. I don't think I'm having that linkage anymore.

Friday, March 06, 2015

Six months smokefree today

According to my stats on quit-line:

Smokefree months: 6 months
Smokefree days: 181 days
Cigarettes NOT smoked: 5430
Total savings: $4,868.90.

On Saturday the 6th September, 6 months ago today, I was searching home over and over again to see if I had some cigarettes or tobacco left anywhere. I'd already admitted to myself that if I'd found any I would have smoked them. I may have searched home but I was also determined not to leave home and go anywhere near a petrol station or dairy.

At the time I seriously doubted I would last the day, let alone the weekend. It had been such a long time since I lasted more than a couple of days without smoking. This time though I had two secret weapons. I had Champix and I had the Quit-line blogs.

I vividly remember that first day. I strongly remember the first month quit and then my memory of quitting blurs. I'm guessing that it's because of the lack of firsts and other notable events coupled with a change to my mind where not smoking has become my new normal.

The lesson for you is that if a weak-willed cigarette addict like me can last 6 months, anyone can.