I learned a new word today.

600 Puffs

A cartomiser is a blend of “cartridge” and “atomiser”.

And each of these ones give you 200 puffs.

I have no idea how many puffs you need to feel like you’ve smoked a whole cigarette. If indeed that’s what people do.


Today I mark twelve years since I last had any alcohol.

To people who drink normally or excessively that sounds like an awfully long time and a great achievement. But it’s not, it doesn’t feel like that to me. I guess because I got to a point where I knew that what had formerly been an obsession, a compulsion for me, had lifted and that I would have to go out of my way to have a drink – that there’d need to be a really good reason for it, and I didn’t have any reasons left. It also doesn’t feel like *my* achievement, I did it together with some amazing, generous, funny, sometimes infuriating, but always loving friends.

I had my first drink at around 13 or 14. I had a traditionally blurry British teenhood and twenties but by my thirties it was becoming boring. My alcoholism wasn’t particularly spectacular or dramatic or obvious to everyone around me. Though I had my moments. It was more that I used it to deal with feeling uncomfortable in life, uncomfortable with people, uncomfortable being me. Also, I had a great physical capacity for drinking and thought that because I could drink right up till closing time, then I should. And when I tried to moderate it or stop completely on my own, I was horrified to find that I couldn’t. I had to find a way of living with and overcoming the discomfort rather than anaesthetising it with booze.

Early in 2002, I thought that being sober would make my life boring, but life actually got much bigger – most people reading this have only got to know me since that time. It would be nice to think that I was a pain in the neck to people when I was drinking but when I stopped that stopped too, but it hasn’t been quite that simple.

If you’re struggling with drinking too much or too often or you just don’t like the person you become when you drink, you might find that total abstinence is the best route for you too. I wasn’t able to do it alone. Living in London, it wasn’t hard to find help in the company of the fine men and women of Alcoholics Anonymous. I’ve seen the Twelve Steps work miracles for people who were otherwise hopeless, but there are lots of ways of achieving this, don’t let anyone tell you that there’s only one path to recovery.


Some Hows of Timelapse

I made a little timelapse this week and put it in my flickr stream because I found, to my chagrin, that it made instagram video barf.

Robert spotted it (see? he *is* looking, watching, lurking quietly after all) and kindly mentioned it in his newsletter this morning. He asked “How did he do that?”

Well here are a few ways of answering that:

  • I shot it on my phone. It’s an “HTC One”, which accounts for the wide screen. There’s a free (with Pro version available) app called Droid Timelapse. The only real setting I use is to adjust the Frame Capture Rate – each frame here is a second apart. I did no other processing after shooting, just uploaded it.
  • I’d just tried out the new cafe in the newly extended Sainsbury’s in Garratt Lane, opposite the Southside Centre. It is nothing special, but for £1.95 I got a large mug of reasonable coffee that I enjoyed more than the sort they serve over the road in Caffe Nero for example. I came to the exit and realised it was raining (again) and saw in front of me a big window out onto the street. So I went and stood by it, propping my phone up against the glass, firing up Droid Timelapse, holding very still and pressing the button to make it start. Then I waited for the counter to reach 10 (I don’t know how long that took, I’d have to do some arithmetic with frame rates… but that makes 10 seconds of video) and I pressed the button again to make it stop. Then I went and bought some sausages in Sainsbury’s and went home.
  • While it was shooting, I was nervous. I expected at every moment to hear one of the security guards behind me say “I’m sorry sir, you can’t do that here” I couldn’t move because I was holding the camera still. I imagine that if anyone had actually paid any attention, they’d have thought I looked like I was waiting to take a picture for a very long time. While I was standing there a young (I dunno, late teens I guess) woman and a slightly older man came and stood nearby. They had a trolley full of groceries but I assumed they were either waiting for the rain to calm down or waiting for someone else to turn up. They were having that kind of conversation where you don’t get too deeply into anything because you know that you’re going to be interrupted at any moment by a change in the weather or the arrival of your friend. I zoned in and out of their conversation while wondering how the movie was going to turn out – would it be too fast? what would it look like when the traffic slowed down or stopped for the traffic lights? how many buses had gone past now? – the only thing I remember her saying was “I’ve been told by many people that they’ve had visions of me dying young.” When I turned around all I really clocked of her was that she had long hair and was wearing a light-coloured (creamy) woolen garment – I couldn’t say whether it was a cardigan or a pullover. It might have been Aran.

Does that help? Anything else you want to know?

Footnote: While I drafted this post (and the previous one) in Fargo, it’s still easier to embed media (especially moving pictures) using the interface. Boo! (actually that’s not true, I made it up before actually trying it out – the flickr code is just a line of text which would fit nicely on a line in Fargo. I’ll try that next time)

Playing with GIFs from archive film ( cc @time_image )

I don’t know what I’m trying to do!

I’m just playing really, but I think there’s something in here – look at how current popular media gets scrunched into little animated GIFs – does that only work for stuff that’s around now or that we’ve some connection to? Isn’t there still some fun in seeing loops of little scenes that we’re not so familiar with? I’ve been looking through the stuff in the British Council Collection which is all BY-NC licenced

So far I’ve just picked out scenes that I think would look good as a loop. But there’s also that gifset thing where you can sum up a sequence made up of little bits (often with subtitles for the key dialogue) I may try that sometime.


Today I also had a go at making something else: a loop of tracings from a scene



I should write up a bit more about how I did that, but if you’re interested there’s more of this spilling out into my tumblr all the time.