Oh look, the week ended. Good.

Day 67. 160 pages, 75,743 words. Fuck, that was crap.

Well, had an evening of moderate fun last night. That is to say, the evening itself was a great deal of fun (especially considering the direction this week has gone, great to end on a bit of a high note), but all things were exercised in moderation, on account of it being a Thursday and me being a) old and b) a workaday Joe. Although technically, workaday Hatboy.

Went out for dinner and drinks with three good friends to celebrate the milestone achievement of one of them – namely Gerry (who has starred on this blog many a time in the past), reaching twenty Goddamn years at the same company. Although technically not the same company, because it has changed hands about seven times during her tenure. The invention of the printing press really shifted the technical writing and localisation paradigm.

Sorry.

Anyway, a nice dinner, some amazing puns, a lot of mildly-offensive reminiscences about where we all were twenty Goddamn years ago, and a minor pub crawl back into the centre of town, and – as the only guy in a group with three other women – may I just say I have never talked so much about boobs in my life? Fake boobs, real boobs, the pencil test, boobs at the beach, boobs at the gym, implants on the elderly, the female midlife crisis (as relates to boobs) … actually, if I add at this point that it ended up not being all that titillating, you’re probably going to think I’m making a bad pun.

And you would be right!

And you would be right.

At one small drink per pub and only two pubs (three including the restaurant), shedding co-drinkers as we went, it wasn’t much of a crawl but much fun was had. At the end of it I checked my bus timetable and realised I had fifteen minutes to get from wherever-I-was to the central station to get my bus home, otherwise I would be stuck in town and probably another bar (and probably alone) for a further hour waiting for the next one and then I wouldn’t be home until after midnight and I had work in a few hours. My esteemed colleague Katy informed me that if I went down to the end of the street and hopped on a tram, I would be fine. Probably.

No tram seemed to be forthcoming so I gave up on the idea of getting a bus home before the wee small hours of the morning, and just strolled to the end of the street. That was when I realised I was in Sörnäinen, and could cut off the bus a few kilometres after it left the station, already well on the way home.

So that’s what happened, and I got home.

Nothing much more to add. Had a bit of downtime this morning because Microsoft updates apparently won’t work using Microsoft Internet Explorer (not my idea or anything I can affect, so MS/IE snobs please save your glayvens of disapproval), but otherwise ready to start the weekend with relative smoothness.

Ugh.

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Stop creating racism

Day 66. 160 pages, 75,630 words.

So, this one’s probably not going to be very popular, but I’m in a brown study[1] so let’s just dive in and go for it.

[1] I always liked that expression. When I first heard it, I realised it meant much the same as “in a bad mood”, or at least “deep in thought and kinda not really happy”, but I couldn’t help but picture it as a guy actually sitting in a study, that was actually brown. Like, made out of poo-bricks or something. Come on, if you had to sit in a study made of poo-bricks to concentrate on something, you’d be pretty low too, wouldn’t you? Why are you still reading this, go back to the main text.

Now look. I am a white Australian. I am the last person you want to hear talking about racism and fake racism and the Not a Racist Butt. This is because the hideously ironic generalisation about white Australians is, we are all racist.

What I’m getting at is, I am Australian. I am clearly not Finnish. I have a solidly non-Finnish name and I speak English with an (admittedly Western-Australian-mild) Australian accent, and I probably speak Finnish with a funny accent too, and horrible syntax and pronunciation and vocabulary to boot. Actually there’s no ‘probably’ about it.

I don’t even look particularly Finnish, not that there’s a set and specific Finnish look.

Scandinavia and the World: winners

Ohh, my bad.

If someone asks me where I am from, I will tell them, “Vantaa,” because I am a wisenheimer, but I will then chuckle and say, “but years back, I originally came from Australia if that’s what you mean.”

Because that’s what you meant.

And that’s fine! What, is it now racist to think that someone doesn’t quite sound or look like a local[2] for various reasons, and ask him or her in a nice and friendly manner where he or she came from, in order to get to know him or her better? Fucking Hell!

[2] For the purposes of this blog … Local: adjective. The sort of people who typically and in the majority come from the region in which you are standing right now, regardless of whether or not that sort of people actually represents an immigrant or invading culture that displaced the technical locals hundreds, thousands, or hundreds of thousands of years ago. Make like Queen Elsa and give it a fucking rest.

Now, I know. I know. This is easy for a privileged white guy to say. I know it’s easy to say, because I said it and it was easy. I don’t get any of the negatives that stem from this conversation. If I was super-sensitive I might find something in there to take issue with – some condescension, some hint of hostility towards foreigners, I don’t know – but for the most part I don’t, because I’m part of the Lucky Demographic. My case essentially boils down to Scandinavian-on-Brit profiling[3], which is going to be super-mild. I know, it all gets blurred when you have a big mixed community with people from all over the place and naïve white people may not even be the majority anymore, and different reactions will apply to different cases. I know, Africans and Asians and Hispanics and Middle Easterners get questioned in far less friendly, far more judgemental, far more fraught-with-meaning ways.

I’m sorry as Hell about that.

[3] Boils down to, oh my fucking God do you see what I did there.

But tell me this. How exactly the fuck am I supposed to ask you about your family history and heritage? Believe me when I say I’m not asking just to place myself as a local and you as a foreigner (because that would be dumb. I am a foreigner), and I’m certainly not asking in order to place myself as a majority and you as a minority. Am I going to be punished, accused of racism, because there are people in the world who do ask for those reasons? Should I be socially muzzled? I ask legitimately and seriously, because if the answer is “yes”, then that at least would be something. I’m all about fixing the things I can fix, and “the words coming out of my mouth” would seem to be a good example. Right?

No, I’m not asking for those crappy reasons. I am asking because I’m interested. You’d better believe I wouldn’t ask if I didn’t give a shit. I am a sociable kind of guy but I don’t go out of my way to have conversations with people or learn facts about them, unless I am drunk. So if I asked, it’s because I genuinely want to know.

So what am I supposed to do?

Yes, by all means tell me that you were born and raised here. That’s fantastic. Tell me you’re fifth-generation local. That’s brilliant. So that means there’ve been Asians (for example) in this area for five generations? Pardon the fuck out of me but that doesn’t erase your beautiful and special diversity, appearance and manner. It doesn’t mean we’re all identical and have no Goddamn characteristics that distinguish ourselves from one another, and about which we could have a conversation if we both just accepted that neither one of us is trying to be a dick to the other.

What am I doing or saying wrong? Seriously. If you want me to ignore the fact that you or your family could possibly have come from somewhere else, and that ‘somewhere else’ might be cool and interesting, then fine. I will. I will do that. I’ll pretend we’re all clones. I have a decent imagination. If enough of you[4] tell me that it’s offensive and unacceptable for me to ask about your heritage, then I will stop doing it altogether and across the board[5].

[4] And for “you”, read “Hatboy meant that in a generic sense, referring to people who have fallen afoul of casual or innocent racism and are sensitive to it and feel that they therefore have a take on this that he might appreciate hearing”. You know, or you can read it as “kinda foreign-lookin’ folks”, if you want to get in an argument. I like to argue with fucking idiots on the Internet.

[5] And for “board”, read “bored”.

Please don’t misunderstand. If you tell me you’re from here, I’m not going to wryly say “oh yeah, and where are you really from?”. I’m not saying “I know you’re not from around here, so how about you ‘fess up?”. In fact, if I ask you where you’re from or where your family’s from, and you say “two towns over”, that will be fine. I can take a hint, I won’t press it. It’s just … I have Lucky Demographic blindness and I don’t understand why I can’t have this conversation. If you feel it’s placing you in an uncomfortable position or putting you on the defensive, then maybe we don’t know each other well enough to be having a conversation anyway – because I would never say something to put someone in that position.

If it’s not possible to ask about the other places and cultures you might have sprung from without it being racist, is that what I need to do to help make things better? Just stop asking questions like that? Because I suppose I can do that, if that’s what it takes.

This is by no means something I only do with ‘minorities’[6], by the way. Nobody lives in the exact same spot the entire species evolved in. Okay, maybe if I’m standing in the Cradle of Humankind and I ask someone who actually lives there, they could say “I come from here” and arguably there’d be nothing to add. We could just high-five each other for being meta as fuck, and go back to digging up skeletons to upset Young Earth Creationists. But that doesn’t seem like a sufficiently-commonly-occurring hypothetical on which to pin a conversational standard.

[6] Again, I use the inverted commas because I defy anyone to find a much smaller minority than ‘Western Australian in Finland’. And if you do, I will see your feeble little minority and raise you ‘Western Australian with an arse around the front’. And fuck you very much indeed.

My point is, no matter what each one looks like, can’t two civilised people have a conversation about one another’s ancestry, without it being racist?

Maybe I could have just asked that question from the start, but we Western Australians are a wordy lot.

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This week can stop now

Day 65. 158 pages, 74,648 words.

No, wait, free dinner on Thursday night so maybe it can go on until then but seriously, after that let’s just agree to disagree on this one.

Well, for secret reasons that most of you don’t need to know about and those of you do will doubtless silently acknowledge, I’ve encountered a bit of a slump in my motivation and joie de vivre lately. It’s no big deal, but a passing thing. Interesting times, et cetera. All is well, and all is well, and all manner of things shall be well.

In more exciting and inspiring news, I had a brand-new experience over the past few days and I figured I could share a little bit of it with you.

Having almost finished this wacky book I’ve been working on for two-months-and-change[1], I went out into the big wide Internet and looked for a proper for-reals professional artist to do a book cover for me. Possibly, if all goes well, a whole series of book covers. I hit up deviantart and a couple of other places and sources, and sent out messages to complete strangers, all of whom are ridiculously talented.

[1] Barring my usual it’s-all-over-and-I-just-need-to-write-out-the-final-set-of-words doldrums, whereby I have everything planned out and it looks good in my head and I just need to jump from stone to stone and get to the other side of the big wide narrative river, and I’m already in the shallows on the far side, but then I just slow down and stop and go “well, what’s the point of actually finishing it? If I finish it, I’ll have to publish it.” Which, as any author who has ever tried to write a book and get people to read it knows, is sort of the exact opposite of how you should act when you’re on those last few stones. Anyway, my point is, it’s almost done and so I’m procrastinating.

I won’t go into details yet about the artists in question, because it’s slightly uncomfortable for the moment. I haven’t made a concrete decision yet, some of them may be browsing this blog (I sent them here to look at my writing and also to check out some sketches I made as a reference), and I don’t want them to feel like there’s some competition – and, given that there may be perceived competition, who the competitors actually are.

I’ve never done this before, and it’s super-weird.

Anyway, the response was (quite unexpectedly) great and now I just need to man up and tell all but one of them that I can only afford to pay one artist for one cover[2], and the rest may need to hold tight until I can write more stuff. I guess if nothing else I can consolation-prize them with another book altogether … although yeah, that’s going to be expensive.

[2] And even that might be a stretch, these guys are not cheap. I may need to write a bestseller in order to pay back the price of the cover art. I wonder if it’s too late to go back to my own covers, where I can just draw a rectal cancer riding on the back of a snorkel-wearing duck and call it good. But no, the conventional wisdom is that if you want a professional book, you need a professional cover. Apparently a rectal cancer riding on the back of a snorkel-wearing duck isn’t good enough for some consumers. Fine.

So, if all goes well, I’ll have sketches and concepts and all sorts of stuff floating around here soon, and that will give me the kick I need to get this stupid story done.

And stop me from brooding about the unmentionable other shit.

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What is the Internet?

Day 64. 156 pages, 73,563 words.

The other day, according to reports from Mrs. Hatboy, our four-year-old firstborn – who I have nicknamed ‘Wump’ to no real purpose here on this blog – asked Mrs. Hatboy The Question.

Mrs. Hatboy explained as only a veteran school teacher can. And then she posted about it on Facebook, and we all had a good laugh. True story.

What is the Internet?

I’m also censoring her second name to no real purpose.

Anyway, it did make me marvel – once again – about what an amazing world Wump is inheriting from us. It also made me wonder just how long it was going to remain amazing, before turning into an awful shitty Hell with a demolished environment, psychotic bands of flesh-eating lunatics, and no technological infrastructure or power supply.

Because that shit is coming. Whether it’s going to be an asteroid from the sky that we just can’t stop fucking each other over for long enough to do something about, or some massive solar or polar event that we couldn’t fix even if we tried, or a disease or climate change or war that we could have prevented quite easily if we weren’t such insufferable pricks, it’s coming. It’s just a question of whether it happens in our lifetimes, or Wump’s lifetime, or in the lifetime of Wump’s hypothetical children.

Some days, I despair of ever preventing it – or at least delaying it as long as possible. And I just hope it doesn’t happen while I’m alive to see it. I don’t want to be here when we fail.

I hope my family line survives – I certainly don’t want to be here to see them die, either way – but I accept that this is just a biological imperative and a vast, uncaring universe doesn’t care. It’d just be nice, is all.

Until then, though, it’s an amazing world and Wump is going to grow up immersed in it in a way we can’t even begin to imagine. She’s asking us now, at the age of four, what the Internet is. It’s probably one of the last technology-related questions she will ever ask us. Well okay, this is an exaggeration … but not much of one.

So then later that same day, after musing for a while about what the Internet was, I found this set of Vine video comments. Just your average everyday set of comments to an average everyday and quite lovely six-second-long video of a teenager dancing, innocently and joyfully. And I was able to take a screencap from it.

No, really, what is the Internet?

After laughing until I wept, of course.

What is the Internet?

It’s Wally / Waldo, unable to be found in the hate.

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Monday Morning, About Five

Day 63. 154 pages, 72,418 words. Hoped to finish the book by 62 days, shit.

Had a busy weekend this weekend, don’t really have much to write about though. I was going to put together a bit of a Chucky Report on Friday night’s antics but there’s not much to tell.

I went into town to catch up with an old buddy and former colleague who was back from Germany to settle some paperwork and pack some stuff and get some closure on various conversations and acquaintances. It was a lot of fun, starting with random pints and blurring on through Tequila Motherfuckers and a sparkling-wine-and-absinthe drink that was the only reason I didn’t complain about my (surprisingly mild) hangover the next day, and ending up at a club called Semifinal where another friend’s son was playing in a heavy metal band called Edge of Haze.

I’m not a big metal fan but I was extremely drunk, so I went along just to enjoy having my marrow pounded and to watch the crowds.

Mission accomplished.

I also apparently recorded a Vine of the Semifinal toilet.

Mission accomplished.

Anyway, we were there until closing and then (after meeting the band[1] and my esteemed colleague’s kids and buying a CD) enjoyed a rambling trip to a taxi rank somewhere, and an extended bullshit conversation with The Virk, and also our taxi driver who seemed like a nice guy and probably didn’t need to hear me attempting to talk about … was it Russia? I have a horrible creeping feeling it was Russia.

[1] Fair play to Akseli Savola for being the only guy in the band with long hair, what is metal coming to these days?

So, then on Saturday we hosted a do over at Bar Äijä’s, although I for one did not drink. We had a small crowd of family and close friends over, I came into the possession of a huge stack of blu-ray classics, we played Cards Against Humanity (oh my God, everybody I know needs to play this game), watched The Lego Movie, and ate Chico’s pulled turkey dogs for one of the last times before the special menu changes and they maybe-possibly get pulled out of the roster. At the end of the day and everyone else went home or to bed, Mrs. Hatboy and I made ourselves sad by watching Beverly Hills Cop, a movie about a black guy in the United States who is actually a cop but none of the other cops seem to know about it, and who is fantastically destructive and abusive and yet doesn’t get murdered, not even by the bad guys, who are not police officers in Judge Dredd gear.

An excellent day.

Sunday, we just chilled. I went for a little walk through the forest with Wump, we visited the supermarket on the other side and had a little picnic of mini-salamis and box-drinks, then Mrs. Hatboy took the girls and went to a birthday party, leaving me to write the meagre scraping of notes you see added to my novel stats at the top of the page.  But it was totally worth it, a really nice weekend. We finished it off by watching a bit of Qi and then going to bed, in true Old People style.

The end.

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British Scientist Makes Time Travel a Reality, Sets About Righting Wrongs

Day 62. 153 pages, 72,127 words. Blaaaaaaaah, nothing.

Inventor William Stover-Quigley, of the UK-based think tank Smith and Turnbull, has invented the world’s first fully-functional time machine, news sources reported over the weekend.

The machine, taking the form of a large and intricate gyroscopic device into which a human subject can be secured, is capable of transporting its pilot to any point in the past or future by use of hideously-complicated quantum neutrino quark tunnelling enablers, or something. The initial jump, covering a matter of less than one quintillionth of a femtosecond, used an enormous amount of power and caused the greater London metropolitan electricity grid to go dark for a full hour, something that normally only occurs when wet leaves fall on things. Subsequent leaps, however, used the electricity generated in the first trip through time, drawing on something called a chrono-differential power gradient to siphon off a billion times the energy required to initiate the first movement crosswise through time.

This is just one of many, many ways in which the newly-invented machine, to be patented on Monday morning, has raised its middle finger to the laws of physics.

The question of precisely when this invention took place, indeed, has been rendered academic by the very fact of time travel and the way it has reduced all possible temporal outcomes to a simultaneous and identical singularity. A new reality that will require some personal adjustments, not to mention changes in the way we use timepieces and calendars.

Time travel in diagrams and schematics.

Just some of the extremely complicated diagrams and schematics that went into the development of the time machine.

With the successful testing and piloting of this device comes innumerable opportunities to set right the mistakes of the past and ensure a brighter, safer future, insofar as such concepts even have meaning anymore.

Modest inventor Stover-Quigley has said that he intends to use the machine for the betterment of humankind and not for personal gain. Reports suggest that the vessel will be dubbed The Graham Stover-Quigley, in honour William’s science-fiction-loving but academically-challenged older brother. Suggestions that transportation through time may one day be known as “quiggling” are as-yet unconfirmed, and remain dependent on humanity’s ability to actually differentiate between past, present and future in this post-or-possibly-pre-time-travel meta-dimensional reality.

The inventor has, however, already decided on a number of low-impact changes that he believes will be not only personally rewarding, but also provide benefits for humanity as a whole.

Stover-Quigley has stated that his first series of time-jumps have the intended purpose of backtracking through his life prior to the invention of the time machine, and stopping himself from waving at motorists who were actually just adjusting their sun visors. This crippling socio-cultural embarrassment has acted as a severe handicap in the course of the British man’s academic life, and in erasing these events Stover-Quigley believes he will unlock several very important proofs and designs that will further benefit the world.

Later projects, scheduled for a now-defunct time period either in the past, future, or neither of the above, reportedly involve a larger-scale effort to travel back through the entirety of the history of the United Kingdom and stop key members of the scientific community from accidentally kicking pebbles while walking, on those instances where the kicked pebble bounced towards another person, raising lingering concerns that the person might have been offended by the misapprehension that the scientist meant to kick a stone at him or her. A series of minor misunderstandings without which, Stover-Quigley asserts, safe nuclear fusion and faster-than-light space flight could have been achieved as early as 1982.

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Prepare for minor mindblow

Day 61. 153 pages, 72,127 words.

Here’s a random and interesting fact for your Saturday.

Back when I first started writing material for the extended Book of Pinian universe / urverse, I toyed with the idea that everything was a game, a simulation played by some higher power. This preceded the Matrix movies by half a decade or more – if anything, it was The Lawnmower Man I was influenced by.

And that in itself was a weird-arse movie. I mean, have you read the Stephen King short story? Even among “based on the story by Stephen King” classics, this one missed the mark hilariously. But I digress. Suffice it to say, it was the life-form-translated-into-computer-data idea I liked, and that was purely from the movie.

It doesn’t generally come into the story itself except as a wider philosophical point – is there a higher consciousness watching, if not guiding the movement of every atom? Is the universe actually real? Can our senses really be depended on to tell us what’s really there, and if it was simulated how could we tell and what difference would it make? – but there are a couple of storylines where it does come into play. One of them is the set of amusing Longrass snippets I have put up on my lazier days.

The basic premise was, if the universe / urverse was a (computer) game or simulation, what would happen if the game was infiltrated by malware of some kind?

And this is what the “Gatesmen” are – a kind of malware. They enter simulations and destroy them, but they also exist in freeform outside the simulations. Now, again, this was a concept I was playing around with long before I even knew the Internet or servers existed. Back then, the closest I could come was The Lawnmower Man’s “mainframe”. A sort of big computer thing where all the information, games and all, was stored.

In later years, I came to call that wider setting “the Elsewhere”. A couple of my characters, hurled out of the simulation and into the wider “mainframe” in which the simulation ran, ended up wandering around out there, having adventures and trying to get back into their “Game”. And the Gatesmen roamed around out there, finding stuff to get into and fuck up. Not just Games, but a bunch of mysterious other computer systems, which I’ve represented as Labyrinth-like fantastical and surreal landscapes.

The master, the creator of the Gatesmen, was an entity from the world beyond the mainframe – from the higher plane for which our universe is just a Sim City environment. It’s not actually a member of that theoretical Great Race, though – it’s more like Job from The Lawnmower Man. Although not a person. A lab rat, an insect, a microbe, maybe even just a single atom, converted into the equivalent of electronic data and uploaded, as part of some sort of experiment.

As the only “real” being inserted into a world of data, the creature has enormous power. It got free and has been causing damage ever since. It appears as a big version of the Gatesmen, or alternatively as their entire world, drifting from place to place, the individual only acting as a representation of the whole. The Gatesmen are sort of drones to its queen.

Anyway, not really the point. Although hopefully maybe a little bit of interesting background.

Back at the start, I didn’t give this entity a name. It was simply The Beast of the Gate, and represented by a symbol, a character from the speech of higher beings that couldn’t really be reproduced or comprehended by lesser eyes, but looked something like this:

Krakura symbol

Did you lose SAN? No? I didn’t draw it right. You’re welcome.

After I converted the whole story into actual documents on a computer (and after one draft print-out where I left spaces and then filled in the symbol by hand wherever it was needed), I realised that a funky symbol probably wasn’t going to cut it, so I changed it to a random symbol in the Wingdings font (as I did with many of my represented-by-a-funky-squiggly-symbol names):

New Krakura symbol

I didn’t know what it meant and I didn’t care.

After a while I figured even this was a bit pointless, so I flat-out changed the entity to be named Krakura.

Now, of course – and only just very recently – I have realised that my Wingdings-choice is actually a symbol for a sign of the zodiac.

Yeah. Cancer.

I’ll just sit back and let you enjoy the levels on that one.

Posted in Hatboy's Nuggets of Crispy-Fried Wisdom, Kussa mun hopoti?, The Book of Pinian | Tagged , , , , | 3 Comments