Okay, I’m back on track with the jogging – been at least three times this week, and up to at least twenty minutes a run, which, considering I was a wheezing wreck last week, is pretty good going.

I have now tested the Pandemix swine flu inoculation. Admittedly, it would have been nice if the company had done the testing beforehand, but hey, you can’t have everything, can you? My reaction to it was relatively mild, my arm has only swollen a little, but it aches like hell. My wife is delighted as she now only needs to tap me on the shoulder instead of beating me around the head. It was a little worrying to read that they’re not yet sure if you need one or two shots for the stuff to work – apparently they’re still waiting for results, just hope they find out before I actually get it…

I’ve been reminiscing about the past over the last few weeks – probably this near death experience with a dust allergy which has me pining for my youth. Don’t know why though – I get progressively fitter the older I get, you should have seen me when I was twenty-five, – a crawling, hacking wreck of a human being. And now I go jogging almost everyday. Don’t you just love delusions of immortality?

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Kafka’s Vigil

What a night. What a day. The bed bugs started biting again last night, and I just could not get off to sleep. So, instead of succumbing to a night of useless thrashing around in bed, grinding my teeth, and yelling at the apparitions who will not leave me alone, I decided to get up and do the next day’s work. I eventually got into bed around six, had a few hours sleep, got up, went for a jog to try and clear my lungs, came back and wrote this poem about insomnia. You can read it here. I am so impressed with my own hardiness that I am seriously considering joining the marines. I am sure I can romp and kick arse with the best of them. After I’ve had my afternoon nap, that is. Good night.

I Spy

Well, so far, so bad. I was up to thirty minutes running a day, and then it hit me like a hammer – the commoner garden cold. Atishoo. Not only that, I have put on one and a half kilograms since I started jogging. This, I am told, is normal as one tends to eat more, the more one does. I am now eating muesli and dried fruit everyday and feel like a sick rabbit. I have decided to take a break until my fever subsides, but then it will be back to pounding the pavement, and seeing whether muesli tastes better when eaten with a fork.

In the meantime I wandering through the Guardian and read an article about a new online game where the players have to spot and solve a real crime caught by CCTV, which got me thinking about surveillance cameras in general, and, me being me, I wrote a poem about it. You can read it here.

I’m afraid I didn’t have much time to write the last week as I had a translation assignment to finish. Now done, now back, but can one write with such a sore head? I’m not sure, but will try…
What I have tried out is the Google translator toolkit, on a bit of private translation I was doing for a friend for his website. Well, the results were certainly better than other translation software, and it’s easy to use, but, and it’s a big but, you still run up against that age old problem that almost every sentence needs to be substantially corrected, and you need a thesaurus look for better vocab. All in all, I’m still faster just typing the stuff straight in instead of doing masses of correction work. But, it’s a good kick-off point if you’re feeling lazy or out of sorts – creates the illusion that you’ve actually done something, even if it’s only pressing a few buttons.

Things I’m thinking of doing: 1. putting up readings of my poems on the web. I want to do this to music, but first I have to learn to play something before I can do that. This may take more time than I thought. 2. At the moment I’m working on creating a collection of poems as well as a collection of short stories so that I can publish two books. Of course, I know this part is easier said than done, if not nigh on impossible. That being the case I want to look at Amazon’s self publishing stuff to see whether there might be a viable outlet there. The point is always marketing, as getting a book to print nowadays is relatively cheap and easy, although you do have to watch for quality. My feeling is that new technologies such as BOD sold on the internet, and Kindle, could provide a revolution for new authors if we actually actively appropriate them for our own uses. Publishers beware! But if people can find alternative outlets then all power to them. I might try doing a dry run with my PhD just to see whether I move two or three copies that way – let’s not get to ambitious, eh.

Now, don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying that if a publisher came to me and offered to publish my stuff that I’d say no – I’d jump at the chance. It’s just that the hurdles have been set so high for new authors, with manuscripts not being directly accepted, and agents only accepting published authors, that the amount of work you have to put in to get noticed may be better off spent elsewhere. Self-publishing, in contrast to the vanity industry of yore, nowadays costs next to nothing, and with 50% returns on books you’ve sold yourself, if you arrange local readings then you can expect the same returns that you would get on your average first book anyway. What’s missing is exposure to bigger audiences – but, if you’re internet savvy, this can be achieved too, through blogging, and if you’re ambitious and have the cash, through mail-shots and web advertising. Of course, it’s something everyone has to weigh up for themselves, but I’d say the times are changing…

I am still not convinced that jogging is a good thing. After two weeks of pounding the pathways I think that it is plainly evident that the human body is not designed for running. Look at it from an evolutionary point of view. We are slow, ungainly, our flimsy joints cannot take the incessant strain. Animals designed for running (well, not designed, but apt) have four legs, not two.

And yet, against all the obvious empirical evidence, doctors insist that jogging is good for you as the human body was designed for such painful movement. Humbug. If the human body is apt for anything then it’s hanging around on street (tree/cave/riverbank) corners up to no good, or walking to the next watering hole (pub/disco/club) in search of a good old yap and an ensuing fist fight. It’s the same with swimming. Throw all other animals into a pond and they instinctively do the right thing – they swim to the side and get out. Do that with any untrained self-respecting human being and they will look at you with baleful eyes, shout abuse at you and sink.

But that’s what they can do, is shout abuse – very effectively, in a multitude of different forms, they can talk you into doing a multitude of things you never dreamed of doing. Like working for a living… And the other thing human beings were obviously designed to do is squatting around fires, waterholes etc. inventing things which they could then turn into weapons of mass destruction. Maybe an elephant never forgets, but a human being doesn’t just remember you, s/he always gets you back, either by talking you into submission, or lancing you with a poisonous arrow (or nuclear warhead – or whatever). But that’s where all this evolutionary engineering has gone, and not into jogging…

Which, of course, brings us back to jogging. Millions upon millions of middle class morons in the western world have obviously been duped into partaking in one of the most subtle weapons of mass destruction we have witnessed in the last decades. Whereas other less vicious cultures advocate yoga or tai chi for a long life, western corporations and their doctors have invented jogging to cut down on the costs of the over-expensive middle classes. And I like the lemming I am, have now joined them. My end is nigh.

The Call

Today is cleaning day. Woke up this morning and informed my wife that I was feeling slightly groggy. She smiled and kissed me on the cheek, saying that I had exactly the same rights as any other employee. If I was sick and needed to take the day off, all I had to do was to go down to the doctors and get a sick note. And the cleaning could wait until tomorrow…

What cheered me up today was a mention of my name in a flash fiction contest held by Christian Yorke, which I entered a few weeks ago. My thanks to Chris for all his hard work – he got almost seventy entries which he had to judge – not an easy task. But special thanks for mentioning my piece – let’s face it, folks, nothing beats seeing your name out there. Well, apart from people paying you to put your name out there… This part might take a little longer than I bargained for. But if you’d like to read the piece you can see it here.

Actually, I quite like cleaning. It empties the mind of all things significant and allows me to indulge my admittedly badly developed anal characteristics. Reluctant to put off the inevitable I polished the chrome and dusted the surfaces, etcetera, etcetera. What was remarkable was that afterwards I went for a jog – so I couldn’t have been feeling that bad, after all. This is my newly acquired tiny piece of insanity – I have progressed from Wii jogging to actually braving the outdoors twenty minutes a day. It is hell, but I will persevere. I have found that the pain is just about bearable if you slow you pace down enough. Okay, other people call it walking, but hell, what do they know?