Springingtiger's Blog


Writer’s Block – Commitment and Context.

As I left the cinema this lunchtime, I bumped into my friend Charlie Russell and walked him along to his work. As we walked we talked and the conversation turned to writing. Charlie told me that when faced with writer’s block Dan Brown hands upside down, it led me to the contemplation of writer’s block.

As you may know, I have committed to posting to my blog every day this year, so the subject of writer’s block is of some interest to me. There were days at the start when writing was a real struggle and for those writing something specific like a book or commissioned article, I can appreciate writer’s block is a real problem. I have the freedom to write what I choose and after a while it occurred to me that every day something happens, all that remains is to write about it. If one pays attention there is always something about which to write, all that one has to do is notice it. Of course what draws one’s attention may not be the subject about which one writes, it is sufficient that it calls one’s attention to something about which one can write. Unfortunately the events of one’s daily life may be irrelevant to that about which a writer needs to write, but at least they will be writing, and writing, any writing, may be sufficient to start the ideas flowing again. It goes without saying that any writing will require editing, if that editing is to remove irrelevant content that stimulated a flow of ideas, so much the better. Anyone who has a commitment to something will, on occasion, face obstacles, sometimes the obstacle is called “writer’s block”, but everyone has their blocks.

My commitment is to post to my blog every day, it is not to post rubbish,although there are days when I am not entirely satisfied with my output. There is no point in my writing something that is of no use to readers, so contained in my commitment is the further commitment to provide value. I write primarily for myself, but there is no satisfaction in worthless content; time constraints may prevent me fully editing what I write, but at least the content should have value, my values will not allow it to be otherwise. I believe I may have said in a previous post that a commitment that does not have one’s values as its foundation will not be compelling. My commitment is to write, someone else’s may be to feed school children in Africa or, perhaps, to educate their own children. A person’s real commitment creates the context in which they live and act. I have said it before, and it remains true that commitment is not something one has, it is who one is. Commitment will always bring obstructions, but it will also provide the power to get past the obstruction.



At Last.

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After some swithering, I have, at last, decided to bathe. I had thought just to crawl into my welcome bed, but the effort of dragging myself upstairs, awoke me sufficiently to draw my bath. And so now my aching body is soaking in a solution of Arnica salts.

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Today has been the only day of this break  in which dry weather was assured. Needless to say, I, as so often in such circumstances, attacked my garden with injudicious gusto. I am happy to say this has been a day of accomplishment. I weeded my patio pots and replanted very many bulbs. I have moved those many pots, increased in number, from the lower, to the upper patio. I have swept and pressure washed the lower patio. I have done all this while supervising my granddaughters and their friends. I am, not only tired, but sore.

I had thought today that I had paced myself well. I stopped for my lunch and another short break, I varied my movements to engage different muscles; however, it seems I have merely succeeded in guaranteeing that my efforts have earned a reward of generalised myalgia and of exhaustion. It is a good tiredness, I wear it as a badge of honour.

I could have slept, I could have bathed and slept, but no. I have committed myself, for this year, to post to my blog every day, thus even had the warm water was doing its work, I was typing on my phone. I had good reason not to post, perhaps even, valid reason, but commitment is unreasonable. Commitment is a force that has us do that which we might, hitherto, have believed impossible, because we have spoken, or, in my case written. I have said every day I will post, so every day I shall. And now I go, at last, to my sleep, wrapped in a warm blanket of accomplishment…okay, yes it does look a lot like a cloak of unbearable smugness, but I assure you it’s no more than well earned satisfaction. Does that sound smug? Oh, I do hope not, actually I think I’m beyond caring. Good night

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At Last.

After some swithering, I have, at last, decided to bathe. I had thought just to crawl into my welcome bed, but the effort of dragging myself upstairs, awoke me sufficiently to draw my bath. And so now my aching body is soaking in a solution of Arnica salts.

Today has been the only day of this break  in which dry weather was assured. Needless to say, I, as so often in such circumstances, attacked my garden with injudicious gusto. I am happy to say this has been a day of accomplishment. I weeded my patio pots and replanted very many bulbs. I have moved those many pots, increased in number, from the lower, to the upper patio. I have swept and pressure washed the lower patio. I have done all this while supervising my granddaughters and their friends. I am, not only tired, but sore.

I had thought today that I had paced myself well. I stopped for my lunch and another short break, I varied my movements to engage different muscles; however, it seems I have merely succeeded in guaranteeing that my efforts have earned a reward of generalised myalgia and of exhaustion. It is a good tiredness, I wear it as a badge of honour.

I could have slept, I could have bathed and slept, but no. I have committed myself, for this year, to post to my blog every day, thus even had the warm water was doing its work, I was typing on my phone. I had good reason not to post, perhaps even, valid reason, but commitment is unreasonable. Commitment is a force that has us do that which we might, hitherto, have believed impossible, because we have spoken, or, in my case written. I have said every day I will post, so every day I shall. And now I go, at last, to my sleep, wrapped in a warm blanket of accomplishment…okay, yes it does look a lot like a cloak of unbearable smugness, but I assure you it’s no more than well earned satisfaction. Does that sound smug? Oh, I do hope not, actually I think I’m beyond carrying. Good night



Trust Issues

That I have Asperger’s is no secret. That I have trust issues is not as readily apparent because I am always prepared to trust someone once, but once betrayed by them it may take years before I am even prepared to consider extending trust again. I have been betrayed, my personal space, my privacy has been invaded. I conceal little about myself, but I like to be the one who reveals myself. Generally I am not very worried about privacy because I have nothing to hide, but when someone else takes it upon themselves to snoop into my affairs I take exception, largely because it offends my sense of etiquette, it is grossly ill-mannered. I resent having nosey young people snooping in my personal accounts.

On the request of my manager I allowed another member of staff access to my login so that they could answer emails in the company’s inbox, it was not an entirely unreasonable request assuming, as I did, that my colleague was reasonable. Unfortunately she is not particularly bright and managed to delete all the contents of my “Sent” folder, leaving me with no record of emails sent to HR or Wages. I could let that go, people make mistakes, but then she pretended my manager had asked her to try and find the missing emails, I allowed hat back into my account. She had lied, rather than fixing her stupid mistake she went into my Facebook and posted updates. She thought she was being funny, she has not the wit to be funny. I do not consider it a joke when someone trespasses in my personal space and violated my privacy. What is totally unforgivable is her trying to pass off her banal and immature remarks as mine. Needless to say that is the last time I allow someone else to use my login. I am not always quick to forgive a hurt but I am slower to forget one.

Last night was not good, on top of having my personal space violated, my sense of order was assaulted by yet more staff changes. A company had a right to change shift patterns to meet demand, it has a right to allocate those shifts, but I do get upset when that entails moving people to whose presence I am used, particularly when they make my workplace more enjoyable. If they had asked me I could have given them a list of people to move off my shift, headed by the idiot who abused my Facebook!



Desperate Measures

On Saturday night my hopes of publishing to my my blog every day were almost dashed. Neelam had organised an Access Consciousness Bars class with May Johnstone of Delicious Healing in Bridge of Allan after which we were to go and join her family in Cumbernauld for dinner.

We had an early start to the day and a drive to Bridge of Allan under a dull grey sky. May’s house was, like her, warm and welcoming and we had a good day. She is a very well informed andsensitive trainer and we learned a lot, despite having already done one Bars class. However, I had had to make use of my phone’s satnav and I was aware it had eaten into my battery’s reserves.

I used my satnav again in the evening as we left Bridge of Allan for Cumbernauld. Two of Neelam’s sisters had come up from England so, unusually, all the sisters were together with their Mum. It was a pleasant evening except that I was not feeling good and fell asleep, sitting on a hard wooden bench, in the middle of dinner.
We left two hours later than I expected and so I lost most of the time I had allocated for writing. My only option was to write my blog on my phone, as I wrote I was very aware that I was rapidly approaching both my deadline and the demise of my battery. I wrote quickly with little editing and then all hope of getting home in time to post from my PC was lost as we hit a closed motorway and confusing diversions. In the end it mattered little as the internet was down at home. However with minutes to spare I posted what I had written under the title “Incomplete Draft”. In the morning once my phone was recharged – we still had no internet – I expanded the piece,edited it and retitled it, “Thou Shalt Not eat Bull!” (I giggled, neigh laughed myself horse at that title!)

What I realise I am going to have to do is write two blogs one day so that in future I always have a blog in hand to cope with emergencies, just as the BBC trots out saved programs to fill the gaps left by the National Union of Journalist’s industrial action. The question is whether I keep a blog saved that can be used any time or whether I keep a blog in hand on a rolling basis, if I can find the time, I suspect it will be a combination of both.



The Disappearing Blog
February 4, 2013, 05:27
Filed under: social media | Tags: , , ,

As some of you are aware I am writing every day and have committed to posting to my blog everyday, and I have already commented on some of the challenges with which I have been presented. I have discovered a new challenge, the disappearing blog.

Last night I finished my blog for posting this morning – this post I am currently writing will actually be published the day after tomorrow, that’s how my schedule works – and used WordPress’ scheduling tools to publish it this morning. I went to bed happy to be on schedule. This afternoon I thought to check my blog only to discover my post missing. Now I know not whether the scheduling tools had failed, or, more probably, I had made a mistake, but the post was not there and time was moving on. Fortunately my post and my links were on Google Docs so I was delayed, not defeated.

Scheduling tools are useful, I have used the WordPress tool before, successfully, and it is useful. Of course there are other blog scheduling tools; were it not for the free tool I have on WordPress, I would by now be using SocialOomph Professional https://www.socialoomph.com/ . If I was blogging for business reasons, I would not hesitate to use SocialOomph Professional, for less than six pounds a week as well as the Twitter scheduling it allows one to operate several accounts, schedule blogs, schedule shares on several social networks. However I am not blogging for business purposes and so WordPress is enough for me. Blogger also has a facility for scheduling posts, so check to see what facilities are available to you on your service.

What this incident has taught me is that it is essential to know and understand the tools one is using. Use them before you need to, so that when you do need them, you’ll know what you are doing. If you can, check as soon as you can after the scheduled time to make sure the post has been published. Keep a copy of your post so that if it isn’t published on schedule you can publish it manually; even if you missed the scheduled time, in most cases the blog will still be usable. Oh, and make sure when you set up the schedule, you have correctly set up your time zone, it does make a difference!



My “Open Source” Blog

There is something very gratifying when one finds oneself quoted in someone else’s blog. Another friend of mine recently asked to quote me, I replied that once my words had left my mouth they became a gift to anyone who would listen and they were free to use them as they chose. My words are my Giveaway in the Internet potlatch.
I was reading in Linux Format an excellent article about Linux Mint and I was thinking to myself that people like Clem Lefebvre who spend time and effort in making free, open source software available play a very special role in society. There are many of them, Linus Torvalds who gave us the Linux Kernel, and all the developers and contributors to forums so that ordinary people like me have access to quality software. A particular hero is Tim Berners-Lee, who not only invented the World Wide Web, but gave it away to the world rather than leveraging it for millions.
It is not only in the realm of software that we have people willing to share of their creativity, there is the excellent xkcd comic produced by Randall Munroe and many others who allow their material to be used and shared without charge. MySpace and YouTube have all sorts of musicians and filmmakers providing free entertainment.
The Web is awash with writers, some humorous, there are blogs and online magazines and newspapers, many of which provide their content for free.
Of course much of the free content on the Web is not open and it’s creators retain copyright, but they are still good enough to make it available without charge.
The internet may be seen by some as a money making opportunity, but for others it provides an opportunity to challenge society’s accepted models of finance and communication, putting control into the hands of ordinary people. Crowdfunding allows entrepreneurs to bypass the banks, and pitch their ideas directly to ordinary people who make contributions to make the idea reality. Crowdsourcing allows creators and designers to interact directly with the people, to test ideas and get feedback. Crowdsourcing and crowdfunding bring democracy into the creative process.Similarly the availability of blogging facilities and the interactivity of much online journalism democratises communication and news dissemination.
There is a tale of a man who on his death was invited to choose between heaven and hell. He asked what was the difference and was given the opportunity to visit both. In hell the people sat at a sumptuous banquet, but were miserable and hungry because the chopsticks were so long they could not get food into their mouths. Heaven at first glance was similar to hell, same banquet, same long chopsticks, but in heaven the people were happy and well feed because they were feeding each other.
I was so pleased to see that JK Rowling has lost her billionaire status because of the amount of money she gives to charity. What a wonderful woman, while others try to amass ridiculously large fortunes, she is giving hers away to make the world better for other people!
If we give up our selfishness which is just a manifestation of fear, and instead learn to share we can all participate and live well while ending the outmoded greed based structures upon which society was previously based. If we opened up and learned to share freely this could be a great world in which to live.
I am not so arrogant that I expect people to want to use what I write, but I am inspired enough by the idea of open source to declare my blog copyright free. An acknowledgment (or pingback) would be nice, but please “feel free”!



WTF R kidz up 2?

A girl is quoted in the Daily Mail as saying, “As a girl, it’s normal to start putting raunchy pictures on Facebook at 13, and you feel you have to live up to that.”

It is becoming increasingly apparent to me that this world in which I now live is neither the world into which I was born, nor that in which I grew up, but rather it is a strange alien place, I am a stranger in a strange land. I am reasonably sure that when I was young, girls did not publish raunchy pictures of themselves. Of course when I was young there was no Facebook and the nearest we came to pornography was the magazine Health and Efficiency with its photos of naturists holding beachballs or ping pong bats. So what is it with the raunchy pictures? Don’t get me wrong I appreciate raunch as much as anyone, but there is appropriate raunch and inappropriate raunch, and teenagers posting semi clad and suggestive photos on the internet is definitely inappropriate raunch.
While obviously humans are to blame, what has made this disturbing behaviour possible is, one the internet, and two digital photography, particularly smart phones. Last century nude photographs had to be developed either by the photographer or sent to a select few processors who would handle that sort of content without passing it to the police. There was a time when the polaroid camera was the height of technology for people wanting to take candid snaps in the bedroom and there was little facility for sharing the pictures. Now anyone can take a photo, edit it and upload it to the internet in seconds. In the old days if someone wanted to publish something they had to make an effort. it required thought and planning, but now the act of uploading is so quick and easy people have shared before thinking of the consequences. Even in the early days of mobile phones the greatest damage too much vodka could cause would be inappropriate SMS messages; now with a little drink and with little encouragement, teenagers are exposing themselves to exploitation, derision or worse.

Remember when we were told not to talk to strangers? Today’s young people are supplying their intimate details along with intimate pictures to all sorts of predatory creatures, not only to those who wish to take advantage of them but also to the sort of cruel monsters who find it amusing to drive young people to suicide. The papers repeatedly draw attention to teenagers who, unable to bear anymore cyber-bullying, have killed themselves. It is no longer realistic to assert that it was not the bullies intention to cause death, they are aware of the possible consequences of their actions, therefore it is reasonable to infer that they actively want to cause death secure in the knowledge that they will escape justice. In the light of recent events every case of cyber-bullying should be considered as criminal assault or attempted murder and where the victim dies it should not be manslaughter but always classed as premeditated murder and punished accordingly.

Apparently child trafficking has risen by over eighty percent facilitated by the internet. I think we must be aware of the dangers of the internet, but we should not overreact, the internet can be a force for good. The internet must remain free, therefore it’s abuse must be severely punished to keep it so. Getting young people to expose themselves online is sexual abuse and should be punished severely, as should all child abuse.
We are privileged to have access to the internet and we have a responsibility to use it responsibly. Access to the internet is not a basic human right, prisoners have recently been allowed access on the grounds that it is a right, it is not. There is a hierarchy of rights, some like food, water and shelter are fundamental and should be enjoyed by all. I would argue that freedom of speech should be a fundamental right. However one person’s rights cannot be allowed to deprive another of their fundamental rights. The right of a child to grow in safety, free from abuse and exploitation is a fundamental right and those who have denied children that right should not be provided with the facility to continue. Even if access to the internet were a right, the abuse of the internet can never be. It is unreasonable for someone who deprives others of a fundamental right to then demand secondary rights. A child abuser still has a right to be treated as a human being, to food and shelter, and medical care, they even have a right to respect as a human being, but there their rights stop. No one has a right to abuse children, and in “abuse” I include treating children as a possession or commodity. Children are our most precious resource, our hope for the future  and our most important people, if we fail them we will destroy ourselves.



Why WordPress, Why?

There was a time in the recent past when if I wanted to write a blog, I clicked on “New Post” and the page which came up allowed me not only to write my blog, but also to select from my most often used tags (very useful when one blogs repeatedly on a subject) and to click on my categories. Now when I click on “New Post” I get a, far from fully functional, truncated page. I have found that the only way to blog on WordPress the way I like is to post from the “New Post” page then immediately go to my new post, click on “Edit This” which returns me to a fully functional page where I can complete my post using the functions I have come to enjoy.



A Daily Blog?

Some years ago I asked Michael Hall, one of my favourite writers and a teacher of mine, for advice. He is a prolific writer and what he told me was that every day he writes for a minimum of half an hour, usually he writes more, but even when he has a busy day ,for example while travelling, he will get at the least his half hour. I suppose, on reflection, the key is to build a habit of writing, to exercise the skill daily. As health experts tell us a little exercise every day is better than several hours in the gym once a week. This year I have determined that I will write my blog every day, although I am not sure I will publish daily, that is the intention. On the days when I work my long break is half an hour, which allows me to meet the half hour minimum target. Unfortunately if I am to publish daily I shall, almost certainly, have to sacrifice some editing and revision. Next year when the habit of writing is well installed I shall, perhaps, reduce publishing frequency and work on enhancing the quality.

Something I suppose I could look at is speech recognition software, but having limited time I tend to worry that it would require too much editing. Of course all this attention to scheduling, to building up productive habits like daily writing is to serve a greater purpose, to build a context for things to happen. The writing matters, as I have said before, it is only by reading what I have written that I know what I am thinking. My world exists, to a very great extent, on paper, in words, both mine and so often the words of others, novels, histories, scriptures,maps in an atlas, photographs of people and places and the past. My world is defined on paper, and where it is not written there is, so to speak, a blank page. My writing is the magic by which I create my world, some cultures sang their world into being, some dreamed it, I write mine, my arteries run with ink. And so I am writing 2013 into existence, writing it and drawing it; my vision for my garden will first appear on paper, amending earlier drawings, talking to me, telling me to, “Try this”. It will take more than half an hour a day to write my year into being, but this year shall be written.




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