Ultraq's Final MooCow

Bits and pieces by Emanuel Rabina

Static shocks, my online diary, and the end of Blog Every Day April. OH MY!

For my final post in Blog Every Day April, I give you this multi-part epic; a reward to my readership (all 2 of you) to digest and (hopefully) enjoy.

Static electricity

On the way to/from work is a public access elevator located at the back of a bookshop that can take me up to the street level that has my work building. I don't often take this lift, I instead take the stairs beside it (I only have to climb/descend 4 stories) as walking to/from work is the only real exercise I get. On the occasions that I do take this lift (eg: am full from lunch so don't feel like going up 4 stories worth of stairs in-case a wrong bend somewhere causes it to rupture), I approach the moment with dread.

There's nothing really wrong with the lift (OK, I lie, the lift often breaks down and the 'out of service' sign is an all too familiar sight) and on the days that it works it works as expected. But it's not the lift I'm afraid of; it's the 'call lift' button that scares me.

The call lift button is a small plastic button embedded in a large metal plate, with a woollen carpet on the floor leading up to it, and thanks to the air conditioning system the atmosphere is always dry. If you don't hit the button directly (which is every time because of it's size) it's a perfect recipe for getting static shocks.

Static electricity frightens me.

When I was about 6 or 7 years old I had a slot car set. It had a pretty basic figure-8 track, nothing fancy, but it was what I had so I made do with it. One day I was playing around with the cars on the track, trying to see how fast I could make them go. Their top speed was OK, but I wanted to make them go faster.

My mind made the connection that the speed the cars went was proportional to the amount of energy (current, if you want to get technical) it received that flowed through the controller; the harder my finger was squeezing the trigger, the less resistance was being applied to the current going to the car, and the faster the car went. Somehow I got the idea that if it had More Power, say, from an additonal electrical source like a second power point, then the car might go even faster. And so I acted on this idea with all the reckless abandon of my age.

Details escape me at this point, but the result was that I was holding something conductive as it was shoved into the power point. The power point bit back and gave me the most painful shock I have ever felt. Tears were shed, and from that day on I had a very healthy respect for electricity.

It does more than make shit glow yellow

Several other events since then have reinforced this notion: at age 9 or 10 during a school trip to a farm I got zapped by an electrical fence, and at age 17 our physics teacher got us all to wash and link our hands to create a human circuit hooked-up to a hand-crank generator under his control.

While not on par with the shocks of mains electricity, getting jolted by static electricity is a braincell or 2 away from the memories of the slot car experiment, which in turn are a braincell or 2 away from memories of extreme pain, and so it's something I avoid if at all possible. I often keep a cautious distance from the static electricity balls that you find in science exhibitions in museums, and I would rather climb 4 stories than risk getting shocked by the call lift button. When I do have to press that button, I pull out my cellphone and use the protruding aerial to press the button for me.

Yesterday I did just that and drew an odd stare from one of my workmates. I told him about how that button keeps shocking me, and he started talking about it in a "Me too!" sort of way - reinforcing the notion that that button is to be avoided at all costs. I doubt that getting himself zapped by mains electricity is somewhere in his past, but it was good to know I wasn't the only person becoming wary of that button.

My online diary

Despite all the Facebook-stalking that goes on, only a handful of my friends have caught-on to the fact that I've been writing to my blog every day for this entire month. One of them didn't even know until this morning when, as we were walking to work, I told them. "I did notice the extra blog activity," she said, "but I never clicked on the link because I'm on dial-up."

Facebook stalking
Do you have Facebook?

Getting passed the obvious shock caused by the comment about dial-up, I had to recount a few of the things that I blogged about over the previous month to let her know what was going on. "Awww, is it like your online diary Em; do you write about Your Feelings?" she asked in a mocking tone.

I thought long and hard about that question, before coming to the conclusion that yes, it has turned into my online diary and yes, I do talk about my feelings.

Taking a quick tally of the things I have written about, here's what we find:

  • meeting my neighbours
  • getting fooled on April Fool's Day
  • how it irks me when some people talk about healthy eating like they're diet pros (or maybe it was my repressed jealousy at, no matter what I do, statistically I'm going to die long before they do)
  • how my lips dry-up when the seasons change
  • how flu makes me emo
  • that my IT job is nothing like 24
  • Outlook's out-of-office reply
  • Tips for business bloggers x4
  • BEDA buddies x2
  • how I learned I'm not that great of a singer
  • how buying CDs makes me feel old
  • my unique approach to hugging
  • my love of cold days
  • Mother's Day
  • my unique approach to small talk
  • Blogger's block
  • how I make a fool of myself by eating too much
  • the impact BEDA has had on my sleeping patterns
  • the things I miss from city living x3

It gets pretty personal in places, and you could learn more about me from reading this blog than taking the time to befriend me in real-life before I finally trust you with this sort of information. So I don't know why I'm entrusting the internet with this sort of information. Then again, nothing in there is particularly damaging to me (except maybe the electricity-is-my-kryptonite thing, and I've just given you a tool to use against me if you were planning to kidnap and torture me).

Re-telling a few of those stories to her though, she wasn't all too impressed by the lack of scandal that takes place in my blog. Then again, this is a friend who rates real-life against Gossip Girl. So, as a fan of Gossip Girl, I asked her what would I have to do to compete? The answer:

Her: Develop a drug habit, after you were on rehab for a previous drug habit, and then sleep with your teacher, who you thought wasn't your teacher anymore because you think she's going to be fired, and so does she, except that neither of you know that she actually won't get fired.

Suddenly my life becomes insignificant and doesn't compare. I think this friend will have to divorce herself of me once she learns that I'll never be able to do, equal, or exceed the expectations she has set above.

The end of Blog Every Day April

I did it. I finally did it. What started out as something I stupidly thought would be really easy to do has instead turned into a writing challenge which has both punished and rewarded me at the same time.

Finish line
You can haz finish line

The punishing parts:

  • I have had to organize several of my days around blogging so that I can meet the daily deadline. Quite often I would find myself blogging from as early as noon so that I could get it done before whatever event I had scheduled in the evening. Sometimes I would think about it in advance, quietly letting the potential threads of each topic be born, strech, and die in my head. In short: my days sometimes revolved around the blog.
  • I have had very few good nights of sleep since taking up this challenge. Particularly weekdays, but this is mainly a time management thing. The bags under my eyes have had an entire month to puff up and leave me looking like a zombie most days.

The rewarding parts:

  • Blogging every day has increased the speed at which ideas can more easily flow into a readable form, and writing has become easier for me.
  • I've found out that my friends actually do read what I write. For those not of my Facebook ilk, I have a Facebook app that duplicated this blog onto Facebook, or posts summaries with links to the full stories here. I've had several of my friends write comments to these posts over the month, and I've learned a few things about them in turn.
  • I've become more observant of the things around me and at the same time more cynical of the most mundane things. When sarcasm supposedly flows through your veins like it does mine, this is actually a plus.
  • I've made some new internet acquaintances: my BEDA buddies! :D We read each other's stuff and comment on them from time to time.
  • I participated in a community activity, and at times it really felt like I had things to contribute to other peoples' lives.

So there's no gold star, no certificate of participation, not even a piece of cake as a reward for what I and other BEDA'ers have done. It was something cool we could do, a commitment we gave ourselves to illustrate a number of points about our abilities. Not all of us made it for the entire month, but if you came out of it feeling pretty good about yourself, what more could you ask for?

Will I do such a thing again? Maybe. At least the next time I can draw upon this experience to make a much more informed decision, instead of accepting the challenge with a smug 'I can do this easy!' attitude.

Will I continue to blog about inane things on an if-not-daily-then-semi-regular basis? You bet!


And that, as one of my BEDA buddies likes to say, is the end of my story :)

oh my...