Google Buzz

Having just spent the whole day syncing various corporate PR videos and apps onto lots of Apple iTouch devices (not for fun, but for a large multinational company’s annual conference in case you were wondering), I came back home to a googlemail account that was covered with this “supposedly exciting” message and uninspiring logo:
Google Buzz Logo
I had just read about Google deciding to “invade” (or should that be join) the over-burgeoning world of social networking gone mad. I actually read about it on Twitter and even though it did excite me for about 10 nanoseconds I did start to wonder how I could fit yet another social networking site into my already social network crammed life. And I don’t even have a job (yet).
I do love the internet, the web and all things tech, but even I have my limits (which will surprise many). That said I obviously joined, as I already have a Gmail account so I was already Buzzed up anyway. I am intriugued to see who will come out on top in the Social networking wars (here’s me hyping the mundane up again). I personally like Twitter the most as it basically gives me access to lots of links on articles about Technology, Culture, Politics and the news from a wide variety of sources. It would take me ages to trawl through all these various news and story providers but Twitter makes the job easier. I can also access it via my iPhone, and, not to put too crude a point to all this, since I spend a lot fo my time on the loo (I couldn’t think of a more sophisticated way to mention this) Twitter on my iPhone means I have access to the world and all its different events from different angles in the one place I need it the most. What else would I do on the toilet? I am always loathe to take a good book in there as books are sort fo sacred to me, and it would be like defiling literature. Anyway, my Irritable Bowel Syndrome problems aside, social networking does serve a useful purpose in my life, given my specific lifestyle. Yet even I don’t spend that much time locked away from civilisation to be able to go through every Plurk, Tweet, Facebook status update, Flickr update or Buzz that comes my way. I wish I did. I really love the way that social networking on the web connects like minded people who would otherwise never meet as they are separated by geography and other traditional barriers.
I was planning to write a blog post about social networking anyway, before all this Buzz commentary. The angle I planned to take was to discuss why I have more than one Twitter, Facebook, and Gmail account and how that connects with the myriad of different aspects of my personality. Social networking and the web in general allows me to share different parts of my life and personality with a diverse range of very different people. This gives me and my thoughts a great deal of freedom to express themselves. If I did not have this option all my thoughts would fester deep within me, like a swirling vortex of pent up frustrations, boiling and bubbling with rage until they erupted and offended all around me.
So maybe buzzing in addition to tweeting may help keep me a sane, normal, and probably more dull person in real life?
Who knows, I probably won’t have the time to even update my Facebook status with the fact that I am buzzing about twitter.
A lot of people have commented on how social networking has become overbearing and gone into overkill. To an extent I agree about the overbearing comment.  With all the social networking sites around one could spend all day every day just reading status updates (half of which are exaggerated half truths or designed to project a specific self image people want to create). I am already singed up for Twitter, Facebook, Plurk, Moolto, MSN Live, Yahoo Mail, Gmail, Hotmail, WordPress, Blogger, Library thing and Goodreads! They need one service that combines all of these!
I feel that it is up to the individual to act in a balanced and sensible manner (some might say I am expecting too much, given how humans often abuse advances in technology), when picking which services they use to communicate different types of messages and ideas. Of Course there are some geeks out there locked away in a room with wires attached to their internal organs from their computers who live for the next status update and electronic hit, but most people just use it to share their thoughts and ideas with like minded people.
It is hard to find like minded people who you click with in the real world. It always had been. Most of the people we are surrounded by are with us out of pure chance. They happen to be our neighbours, school friends and family. We have geography and maybe blood or language in common but often we don’t have much else.
Personally I have found sites like TED and Mashable to provide me with a very rewarding experience. I would never have discovered them were it not for Twitter. I have also got back into listenign to more music, and the joys of discovering new bands through sites like Spotify and last FM. I haven’t even joined MySpace but I know it has helped a lot of good bands break through. Twitter has also been a great place for aspiring and struggling writers to network with other writers and get useful tips and make valuable contacts. Like many things social networking can be a positive as well as negative force, and both those forces are at work in our lives.
I hope that I can find the right balance in terms of sensible social networking use, which I think I can, and use it to enrich my life instead of distracting me from facing life.
With all this in mind I will now post this blog onto WordPress, link it to blogger, post a link on Twitter, Buzz, Facebook and Plurk and check any comments on my iPhone, when I should really be finishing “The Unbearable Lightness of Being.”

XX Alone

I am sitting here in my dusty, claustrophobic study with web design books, magazines and course material strewn chaotically all around me imitating the disorganised mess that is my current existence. The dreamy, haunting sounds of English indie rock band XX are floating out of my tinny monitor speakers via the add filled yet free and therefore viable music service Spotify. I say viable as I am currently broke, in the financial as well as psychological state.

One could look back at my life and report that I am usually broke. It depends on how you define broke. However you choose to define it (in terms of more debt than savings or higher expenses than income or high income and high expenditure, take your pick) no one can deny the financial challenge that should be staring me in the face from a multi coloured array of spreadsheet cells in my Family budget file. As it is I am taking a leaf out of my wife’s book and resorting to denial. I should be downloading our bank account and credit card balances to these complex self made spreadsheets but as I know they will only paint an even scarier picture than the one they painted last Saturday, I choose to ignore our impending financial doom and instead surf the net joining various social networking sites such as Plurk and Moolta with my Second life avatar as I am feeling particularly lonely tonight.

The psychological breaking down and current loneliness has much to do with coming back from an insightful yet intensive therapy session to an empty, eerily silent house. The children’s toys are there, littered across the well worn lounge floor, but there are no children playing with them. The wok and saucepans are piled up on top of our ancient electric hobs and various utensils and ingredients are lying about but no one is cooking. The only sound in the whole 3 bed suburban semi is of my stress out pent up mind, swelling with conflicts, anxiety and confusion, overheating and getting ready to blow a gasket. I feel like a faulty Toyota in desperate need of repair just waiting to be recalled before my broken accelerator pedal drives me into a self destructive brick wall.

The loneliness can be attributed to my wife and daughter staying with my mother-in-law to comfort and support her, in deepest rural Woking. My father-in-law is still in hospital and still in a bad state following his major stroke last October. The air of empty silence and haunting alienation of this house is much better than the thick fog of depression permanently hanging over my in laws home as life gets harder and more emotionally and psychically challenging day by day. The financial costs of supporting a stroke victim are not low.

The financial burdens of a South west London suburban family with a mortgage, growing child, constant 70 mile round trips to Milford Hospital in an age of ever rising petrol prices are also becoming less and less compatible with my continuing unemployment. I got a job that would have plugged the outflow of cash for a little while, giving us breathing space, only to have the job offer callously ripped from me due to miscommunication between HR departments and the business managers who desperately needed me.

The spiral of increasing problems and stress has resulted in a sudden relapse of my Irritable Bowel Syndrome and I need to get some acid to pump through our lime scale ridden blocked up toilet discharge pipes before they overflow again (don’t try and visualise it, not a pretty sight, i can promise you.) My bouts of sudden inexplicable fatigue are also increasing. I am back to job hunting, but in this market it is even more depressing than it usually would be. I can’t tell my wife how broke we are. She doesn’t have the time, energy or motivation to read this blog so she will never know, unless the bailiffs arrive early. She will probably be in the hospital anyway so I will find a way to blag it.

It would be nice to hug her after a long, dreary day of depressing chores and job hunting and to snuggle up to a movie or Episode 1, Series 4 of Northern Exposure. As it is I am left to find some friendly conversation online with random geeks who like to create digital art and funny freakish animals in Photoshop and play Star Trek online. That would be one way of escaping my enforced isolation but unfortunately it seems that tonight even the geeks aren’t talking to me. So I have resorted to talking to myself by throwing a few thoughts onto electronic ink and composing this blog.

4 Diet Pepsi’s and many happy pills on from my fatigue relapse this afternoon and I feel myself drifting off into a surreal computer generated world where no one has cancer or strokes and being unemployed and geeky is a virtue not a mark of failure and anxiety.

On a lighter note, at least all my web surfing in the name of my web design course has lead me to discover this great website dedicated to the early 1990’s TV Comedy Drama Northern Exposure:

Second Life Home

Even Virtual Worlds have loneliness

Escape into Reality

Chewing on my weight watchers friendly homemade smoked ham sandwich and listening to Radio 1 I have decided to update my blog.

The theme of my blog and indeed its very purpose has never been made clear to the cyber sphere or even me. The main aim was to provide me with an outlet to express my pent up thoughts and feelings. This would help clear my head and aid the process of clarifying my increasingly hazy, frazzled thoughts, tangled up in the complex web of lies, facades, masks and inner conflicts swirling within my unstable psyche. That is not a clear aim. It does, however, make for interesting reading, if the author is entirely honest and open with his audience about the experiences he has undergone. Having been transported to the edge of my own precarious sanity and staring down into the deep, spiralling vortex of self destruction, I find it hard to be honest and open without fear of sending myself and my readers into a fit of horror.

I want to be honest. I need to be honest. However, it is not that easy. My current myriad of problems, both physical and psychological, can all be attributed to years of hiding my inner truth behind thickets of masks and facades, acts that i put on to tell people what they want to hear and what I think the world wants me to be like. I only ever wanted to fit in. The irony is that the more I lied to those around me, the deeper the masks penetrated into my soul, the more I alienated myself form, well, myself. Cutting through the jungle of half truths and cloaks with the scythe of self awareness and new found insight has been a painful process, and I am not ready to tell the tales that have scared me to the point I find myself in today.

I need to get a job. Yes, you heard it here first. Although I am struggling to battle ill health, debilitating Irritable Bowel syndrome diarrhoea, chronic fatigue syndrome, yo-yo weight loss and gain, and depression, making it hard to have the energy and motivation for even the most basic tasks, I am so close to the edge, and so lonely, that even me, the king of isolated contemplation, wants to get back into the real world and connect with other people and feel that I have some useful purpose in life, other than watching documentaries about World War 2 or Hunter S. Thompson.

I have read one too many psychologically complex short story and need to escape into conversation with characters less troubled and scarred than the cast of a Dostoevsky novel. Yes, the real world can be dull, it can be mind numbing and soul destroying, but at least it is real. Too much time spent in virtual online worlds like Second Life, or in the lives of emotionally inept protagonists form a William Boyd short story, is not good for the soul either.

I love to write, and I will still write, but I need to go out there and earn some real money. I need to reconnect with the everyday rat race of suburban London life. It will not be fun and I won’t like it, but i am starting to feel that I need it. If I sit in this claustrophobic, dusty study surrounded by the mess of a failed business enterprise and unfiled receipts, trying to spend 8 hours a day working on my novel, all I will end up doing is going even more insane and producing nothing but an incoherent diatribe of angst ridden prose. Reality stimulates me, even dull reality, on the subconscious level, and I need that stimulation. I also need to talk to someone, anyone. Even if it is about a Dan Brown novel. (OK maybe I don’t need to go that far).

I like my alone time, and I thrive on it, but not this much alone time. Everyone else is out there doing things. I am stuck here in a self absorbed daze relating to Hemingway and Hunter S. Thompson and analysing why they pulled the trigger and killed themselves. That fascinates me. It is a dangerous fascination.

So what’s the plan? How can I pull myself out of this self absorbed physical and psychological mire? I plan to try and find a local part time job in finance, to give some structure and routine to my life. Then I plan to teach myself wed design and go on web development courses. I may even resurrect my once famed website form the early noughties,, which has disappeared so far into the cyber ether that even Google cannot find it anymore. If i can re-train as a web designer then at least I can have a career that is creative, interesting and stimulating, I can then be energised enough by my work to come home and sit at my desk in a disciplined fashion and devote at least 2 hours a day to writing. I have already typed up the synopsis of the 2 novels that make up my first work of fiction. All the characters are there, living, breathing, talking, going through life changing conflicts and resolutions. I just need to bring all the pieces together. To do that I need a clear mind and a stable heart. No more panic attacks and rapid heartbeats and insomnia ridden nights of breathlessness and wheezing.

I have no idea if any of the new treatments I am undergoing to battle my Chronic Fatigue will work but I will try anything. Optimism and hope are the best weapons I can bring to the battle.

I am starting to feel like my life is beginning to find its feet once again. Any new found stability and certainty will greatly lessen the burden on my increasingly nervous and anxious wife, who has her own pressures, and will mean I can spend less time lying to my family and putting on a brave face and assortment of masks to cover up why I am at hope all day too tired to even go for a walk round the block.

On that note all I have left to say is that I am thoroughly enjoying reading “The Woman in the Case” a collection of short stories by Anton Chekhov, the king of short stories. He can transmit an entire philosophy and range of human feelings in just one line, and is a true literary genius. I am also planning to meet up with my wife’s cousin, who is himself a published fiction author, and I have started reading his first novel, “The Bus Stopped” by Tabish Khair. It has already caught me in it’s magical grip and transported me back to the exotic and contradictory land of my forefathers. I can’t wait to delve deeper into it once I push myself and make that walk round the block.

No more running away from life. I need to jump into the sea of reality and swim with the tide, no longer against it. Maybe this way I will finally realise my goals and get to the shore I so desperately seek.

Express Yourself – Behind the Masks

So why am I composing a blog post when I have no time or energy and so many more important things to do?

The answer is I need to express myself. It is no longer a case of wanting to express myself. I have suppressed most of my inner feelings and thoughts for too many years.  I need a platform and audience to vent my increasing confusion, thoughts, bewilderment and increasing disillusionment with life.

Not to depress you too much or put you off.

My problem is that although I am surrounded by lots of people, and always have been in my life, I have come to the realisation that none of them actually listen to me. The ones who should and do care the most, my parents and family, are there when I speak to them, and ask me to fill the void of silence between us with words when they question me about my state of mind and feelings, but when I fill that void with my true thoughts and feelings it is as if the wind blows away the words in a sudden gust over their heads and not one if the words enters the heads of those who love me. This happens on occasion with my wife, but she is perhaps the only person who actually listens to what I have to say and hear what I am saying, by absorbing my speech into their mind. My parents and everybody else just talk at me. They regurgitate their own fixed, narrow views and are convinced that they have the solutions to all my problems, even though they never come to understand what my true problems are because they do not listen to me. It is like talking to a brick wall, except that brick walls can be broken and can provide solace by at least appearing to listen to you, because they don’t talk back and provide proof of their deafness.

It is not only my parents who exhibit and posses these qualities of inertness when it comes to my myriad tangled web of issues. It is also my in laws, extended family, friends and society in general. Every new psychical ailment or psychological problem I develop leaves me full of anxiety and frustration as half the people do not believe me and the other half are so confused they stop caring. People don’t want to hear what I have to say, even though I listen to them, and I need someone, in fact more than just one poor soul (the role currently filled by my poor wife) to provide a sensitive, thoughtful ear. This was always the case, and I found ways of getting through life and rising up the social ladder, even though I was pulled down by inner turmoil, ill health, my inability to be good at any sports or display any artistic talents, and my lack of co-ordination. How did I get by? In a nutshell, I lied. I created a set of masks for different people and ended up becoming a walking masquerade artist. I lost my true self in the process and now that my career coach and CBT therapist are trying to unearth that poor unloved soul deep below the piles of masks I am suffering in the upheaval within.

I can feel the swirling vortex of bitter, twisted demonic thoughts brewing and boiling in the vat within me. I have a lot of issues. 30 years of suppressing my true self and thoughts has taken its toll on me. I was always encouraged to live out the dreams and lives that other people felt I should be living. I always told people what I thought they wanted to hear, not what I really felt inside. This is how you live in life, I was told. It is partly a cultural thing, where true self expression is frowned upon, as a selfish trait of individualistic corrupt societies, in favour of “group social cohesion” which is the best demonstration of a communal society.

I never got over my lonely, volatile, turbulent, “permanent battle ground” childhood, which altered my adrenaline production so badly that I have been suffering from stress related illnesses ever since. I am also still exposed to that fiery, tense, confrontational atmosphere, though less often than before.

The more people that came into my life, the more I hoped that I would find someone I could connect to, engage with, and open up to, finding an outlet in a group of likeminded people with whom I could connect with and share my insightful thoughts and unique experiences with. With the one sole exception of my wife, and teetering hope son the horizon, this has never happened. Instead, the reverse happened. I did become absorbed into a world of ever greater numbers, with more “friends”, “family” and people than I ever knew, but they were all as bad, if not worse, than what I had before. I could not relate to, or engage with any of them. There were, and still are, some who touched a hopeful nerve or 2 along the way, but they are not in my immediate sphere of influence. They live abroad or are perpetually busy. The actual real people always in my life are just more people who do not listen, have fixed, narrow ideas they seem unable to break free from.

All this means is that my Oscar winning performance of the happy, stable, professional, obedient, conformist half-wit man with the smile, the artificial facade I walk around with and project when faced with other people, has to be worn even more often.

When there were less people in my life, and less responsibilities, I at least had lots of alone time, where I could escape into the world of Fiction, History and Sci-Fi books, music, films, writing, strategy computer games and art.

Instead, I now have to face legions of dull, shallow people who make me feel like a desperately small man, a failure in life, and to whom I have to lie, put on the mask and pretend I am a happy, stable, equally shallow, emotionally inert, narrow minded undeserved success. They lack the depth, sensitivity, breadth, empathy or sympathy to function as a positive source of hope and light in my life. They keep the plug hole rattling over my mouth firmly closed, as all the steam within my bubbling soul increases the pressure to burst the hole open.

I want to let it all out. Vent my feelings, tell all the shallow, hypocritical, narrow minded people around me what I truly think of them and the way they live their lives. I want to stop having to live the lie that I am a contented professional with the temperament suited to being the accountant he never really wanted to become. I want people to accept that I have a creative imagination, a whole load of internal emotional problems and am constantly on an emotional rollercoaster that even I have no control over.

There are times when I feel like the king of the world, able to achieve anything, then suddenly the rollercoaster carriage falls down the abyss and i sink so deep and into dark places I dare not even speak of here. I have been having the most frightening flash image sin my head of doing things to myself I thought only really crazy people thought. Something very troubled and angry within me, a parasite that is feeding on my suppressed rage and bitterness, is taking over my subconscious and it scares me to think what he will do to my rational, conscious, ever determined self.

This blog is my only outlet. All the friends I like and trust, and who may have a modicum of sensitivity are abroad. I am surrounded by people here, but have never felt more alone. All the people around me are a source of stress and lack the open minds, trustworthiness and sensitivity, as well as time and energy, needed to be true good listeners. They would only kick me if they knew I was down.

All I want to do is knuckle down and finish the 11 short stories I have been working on, but until I clear my head and start to unearth the truth within me I will keep having anxiety induced panic attacks and psychical/ emotional problems. I need to let of the steam in reality and re-connect with positive influences and people in reality before escaping into fiction writing, where I may just lose myself forever.

I created an alter-ego, an avatar in Second Life, so that at least a part of me could engage and connect with other people and express himself, and when that was working it was great, but these days, as I have had less time to log into Second Life, and as my sanity has waned, even he is feeling lonely and frustrated. He also has a Twitter account, but is even less socially connected than the real me! Salvation will not come, it seems, from cyber space.

My CBT (Cognitive Behavioural Therapy) practitioner told me to sign up for more long term psychological therapy. I agree with her but it is a crying shame. It is not even on my “To Do” list and that is now so long it has found its way onto page 2. All I probably need is some drinks down the pub with good friends, a long walk in the park, hand in hand with a wife who does not have a never ending doctoral thesis hanging over her liek a death sentence, or some fast food gratification.


Instead I have found solace in a very strange place indeed. It is in my iPhone. The iPod bit of my iPhone to be precise. I walk around from one chore to another listening the a deep voiced man describe the horrors of world war 2 as I find distraction from my own problems and get perspective whilst learning from an audio book version of Niall Ferguson’s  War of the World: History’s Age of Hatred, that I downloaded onto my iPhone months ago. It is fascinating stuff and like all those World War 2 documentaries that seem to be the only thing capable of calming my near panic attacks down I must thank it for being there for me when very little else is. Thank you History. And thank you dear iPhone, you are always here for me. Except when your battery runs out.

I would summarise my current situation as:

Cash poor, time poor, energy poor, health poor, and sanity poor. Frustration, anxiety, and insanity rich.

Links of the Day 24062009

I should be balancing the heavily reddened books of our personal family finances and updating the bank account balances and setting the budget which shows just how dire my current financial situation is. As this is not only very depressing but also very dull I have decided to escape back to the world of blogging and share the few interesting articles I have come across.

I also wanted to let you fellow blog addicts now that I actually managed to spend 3 hours away from a computer and in the garden dealing with nature by mowing the lawn, trimming (actually butchering) the hedges, and learning about butterflies from my neighbour, who also proceeded to tell me about how she went to Sloane Square to buy a Baguette Baking tin, as she is into baking bread, and she gave me half a white loaf of freshly baked bread which melted in my mouth instantly, even the slices not smothered in Nutella.

I did not take a picture of the Nutella covered bread but here are the links and the garden post clear up.

Guardian article on slow death of Blogging:

Libraries Tap Into Twitter:

JG Ballard Obituary from the Guardian:

Link to the Guardian Book Blogs:

Revolutionary Road – Iranian Blog

Official Website of the excellent documentary I watched last night about Virtual Online worlds, such as Second Life. They even interviewed Philip Rosedale:

What will the literary archives of today’s authors look like?

Sam Toman’s blog about his travels to the land of his forefathers, Ukraine:

Before my return to manual labour:

Garden Before

The garden after I pulled myself away from blogging:

Garden After

One final link, to a blog that is a taking life more seriously than me, with a different perspective on what is happenign in Iran at the moment:

Welcome to the Escape

Life has become too complex for me. With an ever increasing number of responsibilities and conundrums arriving through my letterbox every day I have decided to stop running around like an electrocuted Duracell Bunny, trying to fight each and every little fire that pops up around me, and take a break. If I had money and a private jet, or just money, I would take a holiday and go aboard, probably to Southern Spain and bask in the mystical beauty of the Palaces at Alhambra in Granada, letting the cool breeze of the Sierra Nevada mountain air cleanse my hyperactive mind of the neural burn out it is currently experiencing. I don’t have any money so I have resorted to finding solace through sheer escapism and it is to blogs and the pixilated 2-D Virtual universe of cyberspace and the thoughts of the many people who feel the need to commit their experiences and stories to cyber ink that I turn.

My aim is to immerse myself so fully in the world of blogs that I completely forget all the mounting troubles facing me in the real world. Hopefully when i am dragged away from my cheap plastic computer screen and battered keyboard I will be stronger and more centred, and therefore more capable of facing reality and all the punches it throws my way. Whether or not finding inner peace through distraction, avoidance and escaping into a world of diverse blogs will actually give me the ability to float like a butterfly and sting like a bee, who knows. All I know is that you do not have to fly 5000 miles away and take a road trip to find yourself or go on an adventure. Although that would be fun.

I am being pro active and trying to use the resources I have around me to go on a journey that will leave me enlightened, centred, stimulated, healthier and wiser. OK maybe forget about the last point, that is a lost cause, but at least I will visit exotic lands and ponder intriguing concepts through the medium of other people’s blogs.

To date this is my 7th blog, and it is the 4th Blog that I have created this year. The aim, as is always the case, is to present my won diverse background, ideas, complexities and adventures (if you can call them that) in a coherent manner. That is why I aim to make this my main, general blog, and it will link to a myriad of other sub-blogs each focusing on a specific aspect of my unpredictable rollercoaster journey.

So Far I have another general, main blog in blogspot:

I have 3 other blogs in WordPress:

Escape to Books – my adventure sin the world of literature as an aspiring author/ novelist, avid book lover, literary freak

Escape to Weightloss – My journey into the world of WeightWatchers, healthy eating, healthy cooking, brining balance to my usually destructive food obsession (I live for sizzling, juicy Kebabs and Burgers):

Rebuilding Raza – The blog that charts my current battle with Chronic Fatigue syndrome, that most perplexing of illnesses:

I also plan to create another blog about my forays into the metaverse of online Virtual Worlds, such as Second Life and World of Warcraft, the ultimate escape from reality and immersion in fantasy. I will post the link to this blog as soon as it is created.

Until then enjoy my random ramblings and all the various links, photos and thoughts I post up and any feedback is always appreciated and welcomed!

The Alhambra in Wikipedia

Alhambra Info