Come to the Dark Side. Enable cookies.

(Print above from Inkling T-shirt)

Now, we all know that if you want to stop the internet personalising adverts aimed at you whenever you’re online, all you have to do is go onto Tools, delete the browsing history, then on Internet Options at the bottom, check the box that says Delete History On Exit.

Didn’t know that? My bad. I should have told you sooner.

Having done that a long time ago, I get hardly any ads now. We all know about blocking pop-ups by now too, don’t we?

However, when you go on a dating site during your browsing session, that all changes.

Once you’ve signed in, the site knows your sex and your age – so once you hit 40, the ads on your dating site homepage are all suddenly for tooth-whitening, tummy-tuck surgery, and photos of unlikely men looking for 40+ women (yes, Mr. Phillip Schofield – or his impersonator!).

And pages of advice on how to attract that love-god you haven’t spotted yet.

But occasionally, like I mentioned before, there’s a glitch where it sends you the wrong commercial advice page after you sign out – like I suddenly got pages of advice aimed at men.

What’s interesting after having a read though, is the difference between the advice being aimed at men, and the advice being aimed at women.

Women are being told to learn masses of behavioural and conversational tactics. Games of approach and retreat, buying themselves flowers, and not to ask questions if a guy dumps them.

Men are being told this:

There are only three things you need to say to a woman when you first meet her, to get her interested in you.

Oh, rly? 🙂

The ‘experiment’ apparently demonstrated that men only said these three things, and the women carried on the conversation for as long as the guy wanted it to.

But you see, it doesn’t take this into account.

There’s no trick to it, or special conversational topic, or three magic questions you have to ask.

All you have to do, is to start a goddamned conversation. People of either sex naturally fall into conversation if you hit it off, after any icebreaker.

If you don’t hit it off, or she/he doesn’t fancy you, no amount of “Open Sesame!” is going to unlock that chastity belt.

And if you conduct the ‘experiment’ in a bar, where there is alcohol, pretty much anyone will have a conversation with anything.

Don’t fall for these gurus telling you they’ve got Jedi skills to get women into bed or men down the aisle. If they have, you can be damn sure they’re using the same Jedi skills to empty your wallet.

If you want to talk to women/men, just TALK to them.

It’s usually free (except on those chat-lines, or if you’re on a pay-phone).

If you start a conversation acting like a salesman, you’re going to have to deliver a lot more in the long term to keep that interest going. More than any guy would who she’d be genuinely interested in without a sales or self-promotion tactic.

Trust me on this one.


Happy 13th Birthday, Gargle!

Dear Gargle,

I’m so pleased you’re 13! Now, have you had your HPV vaccination? I wouldn’t want you to catch anything from all that webcrawling.

Now you’re a teenager, it’s likely that you’ll start telling people that you know everything, and feeling quite self-assured generally. A certain amount of swagger will find its way into your general demeanor. Especially now that your rival, Farcebuck, is starting to show early signs of insecurity, and going through more image makeovers than Madonna did, between 1984 and 2008.

There’s nothing better than arriving in your teens, and looking forward to all the grown-up stuff that is now almost within your reach. But there will now, more than ever, be questions cropping up which aren’t nearly as easily answered as those classroom ones you’ve had to deal with so far.

Why do matching socks always part ways? How do red things always end up in a white wash? And what is the proper etiquette for disposing of unopened, out-of-date condoms? (Recycling, biohazard, household waste, stretched over Farcebuck’s pint glass on a night out?). How much gel (or texturising mousse) can effectively conceal dandruff? If you notice a spot on your forehead while out with friends, should you squeeze it in the toilets and risk being noted for absence of said zit, or keep it and behave as though you would never stoop to tampering with your delicate skin in public?

Most of all, the questions of fashion and hygiene will be foremost in your mind for the forthcoming decade or so. You want to court popularity, and attract lucrative networking opportunities. You also want to avoid scandals and a bad reputation. You want to be seen at the cutting edge of technology, but you don’t want to be seen boasting about the next Betamax.

Like most teenagers, it seems like a time when you want to rush out into the world announcing that you, Gargle, are now a TEENAGER, as if no other individual has achieved the same status before. You want to party. You want to be the leader of the pack.

My advice is, like other teenagers, invest the next decade wisely. Get a good education. Research is the key, as is attention to detail. Start thinking about your future security – not just what adventures you could go on, but how those adventures could improve your life and the lives of those around you. And how you’d like to make the world a better place.

Celebrate your special day. It’s the beginning of many.

Happy birthday, Gargle 😉

I had a dream…

Not the scary kind of dream, where you have no concept of reality, and cats in snorkels try to convince you that your hairdresser has stolen a priceless hovercraft and vandalised all the school toilets. Terrifying, because at that point what you most need is a working lavatory, not a hovercraft designed to save the world. Let alone a decent haircut.

Nope. I was sort of dozing, because there was no Q.I. on Dave, and DS10 had fallen asleep after her booster jabs to protect her from future Youtube-transmitted diseases (for those of us whose social life consists entirely of the internet, we’re all quite literally fully protected from everything except carpal tunnel syndrome). I’d been pondering in my diary the concept of being able to do anything I wanted with my life (as opposed to waiting for Mr. Right, who so far doesn’t exist, or settling for Mr. Wrong, who isn’t interested and doesn’t know I’m alive anyway). And out of this attempt to expand-my-consciousness exercise (not as easy as it sounds, without committing to a church, or well-intentioned cult), the idea popped into my head of hula-hooping on rollerblades. As if trying something ludicrous-sounding and potentially dangerous would be a start, at least.

I can’t rollerblade. Well, I can, only on carpet or lino, i.e. indoors. So wobbling around trying to keep a hoop aloft outdoors on the patio (it’s the only space there is to swing a hoop nicely, unless I stand on the living-room coffee-table when it’s raining – and with wheels on too, I’d bump my head on the ceiling) – sounded to me like a shortcut list of broken wrist-bones. I promptly forgot about this, and fell asleep, which wasn’t easy either as I couldn’t be bothered to wake up DS10 and tell her to get in her own bed. Seeing as she’d been a medical pincushion already that afternoon, and earned the right to sleep during hours of darkness – instead of inventing new demons to summon while the rest of the country sleeps.

I remembered this idea again at around 5pm today, while clearing old storage boxes in the spare room. My first thought was the horrified one, along with the perceived future of comminuted fractures such a venture might bring. But then quite suddenly, some quote, or half of the quote, turned up in my brain:

“Whatever you do, or dream you can, begin it. Boldness has genius and power and magic in it.”

Now I knew I’d heard this quote somewhere, probably one of those dozens of self-help books that function even when unread, as soundproofing on shelves around my home. So I thought, cool. Let’s put those rollerblades on and see if I fall over.

Well, I didn’t fall over. And after a few slow starts, managed to hoop for about an hour. When my shins got sore from the boots (my blades are two sizes too big, because they were cheap, but it makes for pretty good stability and lots of sock room) I went back to my usual trainers and found I could move around far more with my hoops than previously – so my normal stability and confidence improved by trying something much more challenging. So I carried on and did another hour and a half, through the Jamiroquai and Timbaland albums.

I thought I’d see if I could find what this quote is, so typed the bit I remembered into Google. It’s from Johann Wolfgang von Goethe (1749-1832). So many quotes are credited to him, he most likely pre-empted Twitter, along with everything else.

What is curious to me though, at this point in time, is why I’d channel a famous writer, thinker, artist and scientist in order to motivate me to put wheels on my feet and twirl a sparkly tube around my body?

Maybe it’s a physics experiment I’m not yet aware of…