End of an Era

I can’t be absolutely certain when I first got my own desk at home, but I’m pretty sure it was soon after we moved to the US, when I was six. Mum wasn’t allowed to work in the US, of course, so she started picking up projects to keep herself busy, and one of these projects was finishing furniture. I got to pick out the stain colour, and she’d sand the raw wood and do all the staining – and thus, I ended up with a lot of matching furniture. My desk was one of these pieces, and then there were two bookcases and a dresser. The bookcases I had up until a few years ago; I’d probably still have them now except that they were both short, and thus kind of wasted space.

The desk, though – I remember that I had it positioned under a window in that first room in that first house, and that sometimes when I couldn’t sleep I’d sit there and look out into the neighbour’s driveway. I watched them have an arugment there one night; I think they saw me, though, and I freaked out and ran away.

For a while, I had my dad’s old yellow typewriter sitting on there. I really liked the solidity of typing on a typewriter (though we had an actual computer by then, and I was learning to type on it, too). Unfortunately, that typewriter really was old, and had a tendancy to jam up. My brother and I tried to take it apart and ‘fix’ it, and funnily enough, it never worked again.

Over the years, I spent hours at that desk, both for homework purposes and for all the projects I worked on: writing, sometimes drawing, sometimes other things. As a teenager, I inherited an old 486 computer, and it went on my desk; later, after I bought my own laptop, that replaced it. The desk went with me when I moved out the first time, and then came back when I did.

And then I started staying at Rohan’s all the time. There was an in-built vanity type space in his room that I set my laptop up at, but it wasn’t really a desk, and that was always one of my frustrations: I had no space of my own, not really. I moved in officially after some of the housemates moved out, though, and we moved rooms – and I inherited Rohan’s old desk. When I finally cleared out my old room at Mum and Dad’s, that desk of mine was put aside.

I’ve since replaced Rohan’s old desk with a new one (a lovely wooden one, with a leather insert on the top), and it’s seen me through several years. But lately… Well. I’ve stopped using it, except to store things on. The iMac that sits on top of it rarely gets touched, and I simply don’t sit in the desk chair, or use it as anything except something to drape jackets over.

These days, I tend to curl up on the couch with my laptop, or sit at the dining table. My iMac has a much bigger screen, but I find I’m not missing it. I can’t really play games on my laptop, but… I find I haven’t been.

Thus, I spent part of yesterday cleaning out my desk. It’s not finished, yet – all those drawers were full of things and while a lot of it can be thrown out, some of it needs new homes. I hate trying to find homes for things: I hate all the clutter. I hope that if I no longer have the desk, I’ll be able to avoid the clutter; we’ll see how that goes. I will probably end up selling my iMac to Rohan’s company, or otherwise getting rid of it.

Once it’s all done, Rohan may end up using the desk, or perhaps we’ll end up getting rid of it. Either way, it seems likely that the office will no longer be ‘our’ office, but Rohan’s (which is fair, since he spends the most time in it, and actually needs office space at home). When we move, we’ll probably use the larger bedroom as an actual bedroom, and the smaller as the office, the opposite of what we have now.

And for the first time since I was six or seven, I won’t really have a desk at all (except, of course, at work). It’s a really strange thought: the end of an era. But these days, when I’m no longer studying (and not intending to start again), and when I’m using a laptop that can so easily be moved room to room… it doesn’t really seem necessary. If we lived in a house where space was bountiful, I’d probably keep it, even relatively unused. But we live in an apartment, and that’s unlikely to change anytime soon. That doesn’t mean I don’t still wish, desperately, for a beautiful, antique roll-top desk. One day.

It’s all completely logical, but I admit, it still feels very strange.

Quietly Obsessed

I am quietly obsessed with the Lizzie Bennet Diaries.

I guess this post means I’m about to become less quiet about the obsession.

Basically, it’s a retelling of Pride and Prejudice, in a modern way. That, of course, has been done before, but… well, what makes this one new and different, and, to me, absolutely fascinating, is that it’s being done with new media.

Lizzie Bennet is a post-grad student making a video blog, and the story is played out not only using her video blogs, but also using twitter and tumblr (and so on). There have also been spin-offs, showing more of the story from the perspectives of Maria Lucas and Lydia Bennet via their own video blogs. The cast (and occasionally, the characters themselves) will interact with fans in the various mediums.

End result? It’s all exceedingly meta, and absolutely fascinating. I love the blurred line between what is real and what is not – apparently, there are enough stupid people out there that there are a few viewers who didn’t realise that it was fiction. How, exactly, that is possible I don’t know, but it’s an interesting thing.

I know the story of Pride and Prejudice really well, so I keep finding myself thinking ahead and trying to work out how the writers are going to adjust the original story to suit these new mediums. Modern retellings have to shift things around a lot – you can’t have people proposing marriage out of nowhere, for example. Clearly, things need to change. So far, they’ve been very clever in doing this to keep the integrity of the story; I can’t wait to see how the rest plays out.

The really wonderful (and awful) thing is that with two video diaries a week, the whole thing is more or less playing out in real time – and is likely to take another five months to finish. That is an awful lot of waiting. But it’s also an awful lot of new canon to squeal over, and I suspect by the time it does finish, I will be bereft. What will I do, when I no longer have new videos to wake up to twice a week?


Mathematical Wizardry

My name is Louise, and I have a problem.

I really, really, really love elections.

I love watching polls, in the lead up. I love reading about what’s going on in key places. I love stressing over whether my preferred candidate(s) are going to win.

And I really love the numbers.

It’s weird, because back in high school I had no time for maths. I dropped even the most basic maths option after year eleven because I hated it so much – I just couldn’t see the point in continuing with it. I came very close to first in the subject before doing so, and was strenuously advised against it, but I was adamant: I wanted nothing to do with it.

The older I get, though, the more value I see in practical applications. It’s the same with science: I didn’t even consider taking any of the science subjects after year ten, and would have said quite honestly that I found science boring. And now… not so much. Not at all.

Rohan showed me Moneyball a few months ago, and despite having no interest in baseball whatsoever, I found it fascinating: the idea that you could predict winners and losers based on the numbers. Algorithms and probability and statistics and… all of these things made sense for me.

And the same is true for elections. It’s all down to polling data: with the right statistical analysis, you can predict actual results. Accurately. Really accurately. Of course, a lot of people don’t like the idea – but today’s election results seem to be a pretty conclusive win for some people say.

Me? I’m delighted. I love polling data. And I love it even more when someone smarter than me can explain what those numbers really mean.

(And yes, I’m also delighted by today’s election results. So many women! Obama! Gay marriage! Marijuana decriminalisation! There are a lot of wins, right there. I may no longer live in the USA, but I find that (overly complicated, utterly inefficient) system fascinating; this certainly won’t be the last of their elections I obsess over.)

I may even be ready to cope with Australia’s next federal election, although I’m not quite sure about that.