Friday, February 27, 2015

Commercial & Cultural

You are never safe in a capitalist society!

anti-capitalist protest

Just when you think that you have got the safely-living-in-a-consumer-society thing sorted, Pebble asks for money. 
To those benighted Luddites that have no response to the word Pebble with a capital letter, other than thinking of important stones on the sea shore, I must inform you that the company of Pebble was originally a Kick-starter company which an early developer the workable concept of a reasonably priced smart watch.  I bought one.  No surprise there I suppose, but I did resist until the watch worked with Mac products and it was waterproof enough to go swimming in.  Oh, yes and it was made in metal because I didn’t like the early plastic versions that they had.
            The watch was worth the money I paid.  Not because it is the best watch that I have ever owned or the most elegant – or indeed is it the watch that I am wearing at the moment.  And that final comment is one of the major drawbacks of the whole enterprise.
The battery life of the Pebble Metal (which I think is the name of the model that I have) is about five days.  The watch I am wearing at the moment is powered by the sun and by the actual action of wearing it.  The watch I am wearing gives time, date, etc. it has digital and analogue and checks itself every day with some sort of atomic clock which sends out a radio wave.  In other words, it’s magic.
But.  And it’s a big ‘but’ – my smart watch has a large and informative watch face and it also informs me when I am called on my phone.  I virtually never turn the sound of my phone on so, as far as Toni is concerned, for this aspect alone, the watch is worth what I paid for it.  In my particular set of circumstances, given the way I use my phone, a smart watch works.
And there the expense could have rested.  I have my watch.  Other non-Pebble companies have produced their versions and I have carefully checked them out and they usually fail on battery life or compatibility with Mac or, more usually than not, on being waterproof.  It seemed that I was safe.

Pebble Time - Awesome Smartwatch, No Compromises by Pebble Technology — Kickstarter 2015-02-24 08-58-47
And then Pebble started a new Kick-starter appeal with a new watch that does something or other and is waterproof.  And, out of a misplaced concept of commercial loyalty I have joined the countless thousands of people who have probably been Mac-trained and therefore have developed an instinctive gadget loyalty hardwired into their wallets – and bought a new watch.  Which hasn’t been made yet and for which I will have to wait months.
But it might be engraved on the back saying that I helped ‘Kick-start’ – so that’s all right then, isn’t it?  Oh and its plastic – and that means that I will have to buy the metal version when it is produced.  And.  And I don’t care.

Poems against arboreal outrage!

Priceless artefacts are being smashed by religious fanatics; corruption stalks the land; the situation in Ukraine worsens; nuclear proliferation threatens world peace and the Israeli Prime Minister is sinisterly terrifying – yet I get worked up about cut trees.
            The car park continues to be closed as the final remains of the twenty trees await their final destination.  Workmen are walking around, sometimes with bits of paper and looking at where the trees used to be with intense concentration.
            A lone workman is doing something with a pneumatic hammer and is possibly tracing out the course of a future drain.  Things have changed.
            And I sit inside the cafĂ© (all the chairs outside have been taken away for some reason) forcing the hopelessly addicted smokers to stand around looking even more shifty than usual, while I sip and note, sip and note.
            I now have pages (admittedly small pages) of comments and notes about what I see, delightedly, as an outrage against the trees.
There is something determinedly small-minded about cutting down a single tree - cutting down twenty smacks of inhumanity.  Except of course, it’s not.  There are many more important crimes in the world, but this ‘crime’ is here and now and is a substantial part of my world.
Like one of the cultural and moral vultures that I denigrate, I am now using my feelings about the ‘slaughtered’ trees to provoke a poem.  I have written one (see yesterday’s post) and I fully intend to write at least one more.  In a reworking of a famous French phrase: ‘What I have I use!’  It can always be edited into oblivion, or at least a sort of oblivion, at a later date.
I am aware that anything that I post has a sort of illusory permanence.  Though my blog is a ‘hosted’ one which means that Google can stop or destroy it at any time they choose for any reason they choose.  Which is a sobering thought.  But I am not sure that I am prepared to pay a monthly fee to own my site. 
I need to take advice on this.  Not sure from whom though.  In the same way that I expect someone to come to the house, knock on the door and hand me a winning Lottery tickets that have been bought on my behalf, I also hope that advice about what to do in Blog terms will simply happen.  I should take note that, in spite of my patience in waiting, no one has actually offered me a ticket and therefore I need to be a little pro-active.  Writing about being pro-active is stage one.

You call that art?

Conceptual art does not usually bring out the best in people.  Especially when you try and defend it.
            The Open University course is creeping closer to the end of the twentieth century and trying to chart a way through all the excesses of Post Modernism – a difficult task when there is not really a settled definition of what the term means!
            Still, flicking through the final volume in our course material I can see that there is a fairly extensive concentration of Louise Bourgeois, an artist I like and admire.  I think that we will be concentrating on her more challenging pieces so that they can link with concepts of race, gender, identity and everything else that the OU finds important.
            As far as I can see, there is a lot of work in a limited amount of time.  I have therefore decided to be a little more anal in the way that I approach this assignment and study to the essay.  I think it is the only way.  Then my ‘release’ will be the work that I do on the mini-thesis that ends the course.

Getting my money’s worth

British Library
Walking in to the new British Library as a full ‘reader’ is something that I am looking forward to.
            According to a telephone call with the British Library, now in Kings Cross and not the Reading Room of the British Library, I will be able to renew my much lapsed Reader’s Card and pre-order books to be looked at when I am staying, coincidentally in Kings Cross, when I go to London for the Study Day. 
            In the British Library I always find that I am drawn to the fact that they have a copy of everything ever printed in Britain and a great deal more besides.  I therefore I have to resist the temptation to order things that have nothing to do with what I am supposed to be studying!
            My worst literary digression in the old Reading Room was ordering, on the most spurious of grounds, a first edition of ‘Noddy Goes to Toytown’.  I have rarely read a more sexist and racist book and I couldn’t remember it being quite so bad when I first read it.  Mind you there was a considerable number of years between my readings - and on my first reading I was the proud and passionate owner of a grandmother-made golliwog! 
Is one allowed to use such vocabulary these days, even in a memory!

Stay wet!

The swimming pool, Camden Civic Centre, Five Pancras SquareIf the important research that I have done is correct then I should be within walking distance of a swimming pool when I am staying in the hotel in London.  I wonder if you have to wear flip-flops and a swimming hat in London pools?
            Perhaps I am thinking in the same way as British visitors to Spain think when they worry about forgetting the toothpaste, as if such things are not available here!
            It is second nature for me to think to myself that I could always buy what I do not have. 
When in doubt shop!
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