The Essentials

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This is from Stressed Jenny’s deviantart page (she’s amazing, click to visit it!!)

Latimer: On deviantart I’ve seen people do this really fun ‘tag’ where they draw the contents of their handbags. I thought it would be fun to do the written version of that.

Let’s start with the cruddy bag itself.

Okay, I don’t actually have a handbag per say – I have a Ouicksilver carry ‘parcel’, the size of a trade-paperback book. I have spent the better half of ten years with a backpack – I think I’ll always have one (my laptop will go with me to the grave basically!), and god it’s hard to wear a proper handbag when you’re lugging a backpack around! For me – unfortunately, because I kind of hate it – the Quicksilver bag just kind of works.

So in the handbag department, I am very unfashionable. But I need it, for the carrying of the essentials!

First – the kindle, it goes everywhere with me. I do a lot of commuting so I need stuff to read and the kindle is just so handy. When I got it first I was dubious, but god, it’s a great thing (and it hasn’t curbed my paperback buying!).

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Keys – well I have so many keys (for getting into secret places!) and swipe cards – have you noticed how many people have swipe cards these days? They make me feel all important and stuff (but not when I forget them and get locked out of the lab!).

Lip balms, several, because I have dry lips – yup! Burt’s Bees hand cream that smells like bake well tarts – really, really almond-y, it makes people around me sick or exclaim; ‘Oh what’s that lovely smell!’(It’s so powerful I’m afraid to use it on public transport!)

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My glasses, because I’m blind without them!

Train tickets and money for the bus – exact change because I can’t bear the thought of Dublin Bus getting any more money off me than they should! I’m really, really anal about this – I will hand in a fist of coppers with my head held high, staring down any would-be retorts (when they come, I glare like a mo-fo!)

Wallet and separate card case (you open it and it fans out all your cards) – I thought the card case would be a good buy, you know? That it would lessen the stress of taking cards out of my wallet (which is very annoying and hard sometimes) – but actually it just means I now have an extra wallet and my actual wallet is severely under used… STUPID Latimer!!

Phone – I check my bag non-stop before I leave my house to make sure I have my phone, but… the thing I would really HATE to leave without is…

My iPod!

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I love you iPodo!!!

This item – I have been surgically attached to this since I bought it, in Tokyo (hell yeah! Back when the euro was actual currency, boom, boom) in 2008 – it is an iTouch and 16G. It has done me proud all these years.

It has all my random playlists from down through the years (Disney, J-Pop/K-Pop/C/T-pop, anime playlist) and a ton of indie albums. And, hours and hours, worth of Ricky Gervais’ podcasts and old XFM radio shows; and Smodcast podcasts. I really LOVE listening to podcasts (if you are looking for cheeky laughs, I love Kevin Smith and Scott Mosier’s Smodcast!). Also a really interesting podcast that is SO worth a listen is Welcome to Night Vale (which I happened across on Tumblr!).

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Fan art of Cecil… of Night Vale – it’s such a good show!!

Because the iPod is my major essential item I thought I play this: iPod song game (you put your iPod on shuffle and answer these questions!)

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Playing the game!!

Will I get far in life?

Down to Earth – Wall-E… I think this is pretty positive? I think… yup.

What is the best thing about me?

Walking on a Dream – Empire of the Sun… I like this; ‘never looking down, I’m just in awe of what’s in front of me’ – not always the case, but yeah, I think that’s sometimes true!

How does the world see me?

Below my feet – Mumford and Sons… I love this song, but I don’t know – does this sound good?!

What is good advice?

My Pace – Sun Set Swish… okay, this is in Japanese, but I love this song so much… Okay I had to look this up, but this IS good advice!!

“Time passes, it’s left behind, you mustn’t forget my feelings of impatience, they say that reckless defiance is useless in the end, you mustn’t get up – Offense! Raise your voice in painful times, Offense! Go in the direction that you’re aiming for, I’m not afraid of the big wall, standing tall, I won’t lose my way in this life without answer, keep my pace!”

Where will I live?

Planet of the Apes… Oh no…. Well I already do, crumbs, it means I don’t get to go off world!! This is witchcraft!!

What will my dying words be?

The Pact (I’ll be your fever) – The Villagers… okay, so… is that a warning? ‘This fever that is killing me… it’s gonna get you, now goodbye – the pact, I’ll be your fever!’

Handbag essentials… they keep you sane during the day…. right :)?

(Aside: Ridley and I are currently working hard getting the follow up to Legend Unleashed, ready for send off to the editors! Can’t wait to show everyone!)

Mobile Madness

mobiddiction-are-you-a-mobile-addictRidley: Now, we’ve touched on this before, where there have been internet losses and broken laptops, all dark times to be sure (first world issues, eh?). However, I really don’t think I understand how…attached…to my gadgets I’ve gotten. I forgot my phone the other day. The most important of my tools.

It was a day like no other where I wandered off to work, as you do. I’d gotten up early, which is always a massive feat for me, usually I’m darting around doing two things at the same time, ironing my clothes and straightening my hair or smudging eye shadow onto my eyelids as a thick layer of it dusts over my Weetabix (hmmm, chemical flavour). imagesThis particular morning, I was happily full of lovely scramble eggs I’d whipped up, I also had a homemade lunch I’d prepared the night before and I thought I was oh so clever with all my organisation. Then as I’m driving away, humming along with the radio, my eyes widened and I let out a loud shout as I pictured my little phone sitting on the bed, abandoned.

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The whole day was torture. It was like when I was younger (before phones existed. Yes, there was such a time) and I’d forgotten my watch, I’d continuously glance at my wrist and sigh in frustration (even then there were gadget addiction tendencies…). Now, I don’t even own one any more, not when I have a mobile. I’m amazed how much I depend so utterly on it.ID-100161261

I felt quite anxious actually, like part of my protection or suit of armour had been stolen, if I needed help or if someone was in trouble, what would I do, I had no phone to ring anyone and what if someone was trying to contact me right now ringing over and over, and it was urgent. How would they know where to go to get in touch with me, if not through my mobile, or email (but then I use my phone to check that too). I wasn’t even able to finish most of my sentences that day either:

“The password’s in my phone, I’ll just…er…”

“Oh yeah, I’ll just look that up on my…*sigh*…”

“Hilarious, I should tweet that, let me just grab…nope…”

“I’m just going to check my internet banking…god darn it…”

“His number, yeah no problem, I have it in my…eh…”

When I got home that evening, I made a beeline to my bedroom. I was certain there’d be at the very least three missed calls and about half a dozen text messages. How could there not be, I’d been out of contact for almost ten hours. I was pretty certain I probably had pending search parties that needed to be called off too. I pushed the button and the screen lit up. A chorus of loud annoying imaginary crickets sounded in my ears. There were no new messages, no missed calls, no updates, no tweets, no emails.

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I’m over it…mostly…*sniff*

I do remember when we didn’t have mobiles actually. When people queued to use public pay phones and phone cards were for sale in all good newsagents. I even collected the cards for awhile (found them in an old bottle green photo album the other day).1214_bg

My parents were the first people I know of who got a mobile. It had a massive antenna, a small garish green digital screen and it was the size of a piece of turf or a brick (for people that haven’t seen turf in a while!). To protect it, they put a large leather cover over it, with a thick clear plastic front that made it hard to press the large buttons.mobile-ph

What a novelty at the time, but looking back I realise how unbelievably lucky we are now and I shudder to think what I’d be like if I were thrown back in time to the start of the technological advances, where all the things I take for granted would have yet to be properly invented or improved. All of them snatched away from me. No mobile, no Kindle (and instant book buying), no television, no computer…no internet *sob*. And I wouldn’t have a clue how to make any of them, how to describe how the internet actually works, or how engineers went from a large brick to slim pocket sized mobiles. My knowledge of the future would be useless!

So I do wonder, what would happen to poor Ridley, the techno addict, if she can’t even stand less than a day without her phone? (and is now talking in 3rd person!! :D)

Too busy for tea? Never!

Rain pounded against the patio window, streaking down the glass to pool on the mossy flagstones outside. Latimer made a face out at it.

With a sigh, she swung away to wander around the kitchen, idly flicking open the cookery books and poking at the potted plant in the sink. She paused when there was a series of loud bangs above her head and someone thundered down the stairs.

“Ridley?” She peered out through the white door into the hall. “You’re being a terrible hostess, you know! I had to make my own tea! Any biscuits?”

There was silence.

Latimer hopped out into hall and down to the living room; steam rose up from her cup obscuring her view. When it cleared, she raised an eyebrow at the mess strewn across the floor. She perched on the edge of an armchair and watched Ridley rush around. The other girl was packing a massive bindle with endless pieces of clothing, creased maps, sunglasses, teabags and thick guide books.

She shrugged into a Burberry-style coat, straightening it over her shoulders and making sure the stiff collar was flicked down. Pinning her M. Latimer-Ridley badge to her chest, she patted it and smiled over.

Latimer sipped her tea. “What’cha doing?”

Ridley slipped on a pair of purple ear muffs. She narrowed her eyes on her friend, her lips thinning.

“You’re not ready…why aren’t you ready?” She started flapping her arms. “We have to leave in the next few hours, there’s no time for tea breaks!”

Latimer scoffed. “There’s always time for tea, ole Bean.”

Glaring, the blonde girl tried to fold her arms, but the ballooning sleeves were too thick, instead she just held them in the air and started to tap her foot. Her fancy heeled boots made loud thumps against the wooden floor as little flecks of dirt dropped off them.

“So,” Latimer took another slow sip of her tea. “Where are we going again?”

Ridley’s mouth dropped open. Her ear muffs slipped down onto her forehead, obscuring her view. Momentarily blinded, she flailed in a panic, then shoved them back up.

“What do you mean where are we going?” She spluttered. “On the internet hike!”

“Oh yeah…that…”

That…” Ridley muttered. She pointed at the table where a large poncho style jacket was folded. “I bought you a coat! I hear when the nights roll in, the internet can get quite cold! Something to do with iCloud cover.”

Latimer crossed her legs and sat back. “You do know it’s only the 25th of November? The first of December isn’t for another week, really. We have plenty of time.”

“Oh…” Ridley slumped down into a chair. Her coat puffed up with the movement, she flattened it down with her hands and leaned forward to glare at her mobile on the coffee table. “Stupid phone, with the wrong date. It’s been reprogrammed, how could this have happened!”

“How indeed…” Latimer hid her grin behind her tea cup.

Ridley shot her a suspicious look, she unzipped her coat and shed the extra layering. It fell like a shell to the floor.

“So…the blog tour isn’t for another few days then…” She pulled off her ear muffs, twisting them around in her hands with a sigh.

“Nope, but when it does happen it should be fun!”

“True…” Ridley pouted, she was quiet for a minute. “Did you make me tea?”

“Yeah,” Latimer said, standing up. “Come along, Ridders, you can show me where you’ve hidden the hobnobs.”

Murphy’s Law

Latimer’s week read like Murphy’s Law.

Latimer: A series of unfortunate events leads me to writing this entry. It’s basically a more somber version of Ridley’s.

Firstly, the number one thing you need to understand is my laptop is not a thing. It is actually an extension of myself; and so, I am currently suffering from phantom limb syndrome, because said extension has been removed from my person.

I should preface what comes below by stating emphatically  I am a laptop addict. That’s a fact. And even though, I will often say this in a joking manner, I am in fact deadly serious. It’s not as insidious as a blatant addiction to say, alcohol or drugs, but actually it’s just as real. The scary thing, and the thing I often ignore, because it’s not something I like to dwell on, is that I am in fact addicted to my laptop and the internet. However, I think this is an expected addiction of the modern age (you can tell I’ve had a lot of time to dwell on it, in light of being separated from my laptop). The edge has been taken off by virtue of the fact that I own a smart-phone and therefore have an internet-based outlet.

The whole event started on Monday night.

I tried to turn on my laptop and it wouldn’t start. I tried again, and again and again. But my beloved was having none of it. I wasn’t as concerned as I expected I would be. Usually such an event is followed by nervous lip and finger biting, and heart palpitations (this, is what my naïve mind assumes is a very, very, very mild form of withdrawl symptoms!).

When things happen to my laptop, on this scale, my find is filled with white noise… a blankness as if someone has stuffed cotton wool into my brain, leaving me to float in a cloud of despair.

This despair was present but at very low, semi-undetectable, levels. I was able to breathe and knew there was nothing I could do. So I stopped trying and decided I would go to the ‘IT crowd’ in my college the next day and see what they could do.

I slept well that night. I was in the ‘acceptance of powerlessness’ stage!

The next day I handed it over to the IT crowd. That was like walking into a wondrous world I didn’t understand- the world of hope for the uninitiated! I know what technology can give me, but when it fails (as badly as it had) I’m lost, baffled, confuddled. It was like I was a child, handing over my laptop to God, going; ‘Pluh-ezz Mister, can you fix it?’

I left it with them and went to work. As I muddled around the lab, time ticked by and I thought; ‘this is not good’. Picture me, staring into space, pouring acid into beakers, a dazed expression on my face; ‘Pluh-ezz’.

The more time that passed, the more I slowly came to terms with the fact that I would be laptop-less for a while. I back-up my file regularly (I cannot stress the importance of this!), most recently that weekend, so I wasn’t getting as worried as I would have otherwise. I use my laptop for work; it has lots of project data on it. So, this is very serious!

To add injury to insult, my lab-based machinery broke down at a critical point in my experiment! I couldn’t help but laugh (though inside a tiny part of me died- this is not the first time this has happened either and it always seems to happen when I really need it to work- Murphy’s Law in play).

The whole day got me thinking on the importance of technology.

We need it for everything nowadays.

I need it for my work. I need it in so many ways to look at data and very importantly to find information. It’s like a giant library. Old school scientists used to talk about how ‘in my day I had to go through catalogues and mark out all the papers I wanted to read, then go to the library and get them to order the papers for me! It could take months!’ whereas today you go online and have access to everything and anything in seconds. If you are sitting somewhere and someone asks a mundane question, you can just google it and find the answer.

I started writing a blog post on a piece of paper- full of misspellings and so on. Holding the pen like it was an alien tool, staring at it, ‘how does one write?’.

It got me thinking on my, our, dependence on technology and how your vast world shrinks to a tiny spec in its absence.

As I wrote my blog post, I slowly realized; ‘if I don’t have a laptop, how the hell does this even get out there? Who’s going to read this?’  

And more and more the world shrank around me.

And you know what else- I lost that bloody piece of paper! My words and thoughts were gone. Much like my laptop.

The long and short of it is this; my laptop is gone for good (that was something I did not expect on Monday!). Amazing how surprising a week can be!

I don’t know how it happened or why, but there it is. My hard-drive is possibly salvageable but I don’t know yet. I’ve lost some things that weren’t backed up, little parts of myself that I’ll forget until I wonder about them and realize they aren’t there anymore. My laptop was like a second brain or something; Cyber Latimer, my me-bot.

It will be replaced by another laptop that will subsequently also become a part of me. My data will, possibly, be transferred (that’s something I’ll let you know about)… but I am left thinking I have become something of a cyborg in my later years. I remember getting my first laptop and not knowing what to do with it (I hardly used it at all- and another fact is I’ve only ever had two laptops in my life, the first was secondhand).

I remember going on the internet for the first time thinking, ‘what the hell can I use this for? It’s boring I don’t see the point’

And I remember when I didn’t have any of these things. When I had to go to the encyclopedia, which never changed or updated, and had been written in the 80s, to find out things; then Encarta was the new big thing (God, what ever happened to damn Encarta? It was a big thing when I was a kid. All those expensive CDs that would tell you everything… and eventually nothing)… Ah, that was when the world was small.

Did you see in the Olympic Opening ceremony this year when Sir Tim Berners-Lee (who invented the internet) appeared near the giant house?… when he sent that message out into the crowd; This (the internet) is for everyone….? It gave me chills. It was fantastic.

The world’s great, free, web of connection; the thing that I now use to connect to you all, people I don’t know, people I’ve never seen before, but people who I now speak to; who I now share my thoughts with.

Being disconnected from it (in a proper sense without my laptop) for a few days made me think how much it connected me to things.

Ridley wrote an entry and posted it; while I was writing on a scrap of paper thinking; ‘how am I going to post this anyways? Who’s going to ever read this?’ No one as it turns out because I lost it.

But the point is, I felt powerless.

Of course, I’m writing this now, so you’ve realized that I have other methods of connection. I’m writing on my family’s laptop. But it’s like being in someone else’s house; I could fly around my own desktop and files like flying around my own mind. This is a disjointed, confusing environment.

My old baby is gone; the only one that was with me from her first days! My first real laptop that had only ever belonged to me; she’s gone.

We watched so many things together; we learned so much, we wrote so much, all together, me and cyber-me. I really will miss her.

I only hope her consciousness can be saved!