by Niall Douglas. Last updated . This page has been accessed 7,100 times since the 6th November 2002.
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Thursday 22nd August 2002: 8.22pm. I'm probably going to write this over two days, mainly cos there'll be lots to write. Yeah, essentially, I'm back from my holidays which involved travelling to Barcelona, Cerbere (southern France), Montpellier (also southern France), Paris, venerable old Amsterdam and then a two day whisk back to Madrid through Portbou (as near to France as you can get without leaving Spain) arriving here last night. Since, I've slept (very much needed) and today's been relaxation day. Holidays are stressful, especially when you do it all in eleven days.
So, what was memorable about the whole trip? Barcelona is okay, seems quieter than I thought it would be and certainly there are a hell of a lot of tourists. A lot more locals speak English, so I can see why foreigners don't understand the blank expressions they constantly get here in Madrid. Points against Barcelona is that it's a lot less clean, there are many more mosquitoes and other things which bite you plus it's more expensive. I will say though that the many gorgeous women who sunbathe topless on the beach are a definite plus - one in particular, English I think, had this lovely body and lovely breasts (though not as firm as I personally prefer, but I am splitting straws). We sat right next to her, smoked weed and watched her alternate between swimming and sunbathing, trying hard not to stare
On the trip from Barcelona to Montpellier, which required taking the infamous southern France night train, my travelling companion and I had dubious fun watching four guys come onto the train at Nimes and rob all the sleeping passengers. I had luckily read up on that trip so was fully prepared, having orientated my bag's zip inwards plus sleeping on my ... err, what do you call a handbag if a man is wearing it? Because of the heat you see, you can't wear a jacket and use its pockets like every other western male does, so generally here men carry a pouch of some sort around (mine is a recycled bumbag whose strap I extended to maximum so I can sling it around my shoulder instead). Anyway, back to the point, all sorts of fun broke loose when one of the French guys woke to find his mobile missing and went to tackle these four guys and after not succeeding, borrowed a mobile to ring the police - who rang the train driver, who then performed an emergency stop. Of course, old french trains have old fashioned manual doors whose safety's release when the train stops, thus permitting the thieves to escape somewhere in the middle of nowhere outside Marseille.
Once in Montpellier, spent the morning with our french friend in his flat upon whose roof we lay, smoking joints and overlooking the entire of Montpellier. It was one hell of a sight watching the sun rise over a southern France town (if you've ever been there, you'll know each has a theme which all new buildings have to stick faithfully to - hence they all look very distinct and yet uniform).
A few days later, we headed on towards Paris (it was a week ago, last Thursday) and stayed with a friend of the french guy. Paris is nice, we ate crepes but it is like twice as expensive as Spain and makes Barcelona look cheap. Then on Friday we headed to Amsterdam through Brussels, arriving around 9pm. Through our severe inefficiency, we hadn't reserved hotel rooms soon enough and so knew we'd be sleeping the night in a park. I had protested strongly, I think because I was the only one of the four with park-sleeping experience and I knew it wasn't fun.
Nevertheless, we sat in the Dampkring until about 11pm before moving on to the Bluebird which of course stays open until 1am. We met some french guys in there in the same boat as us, so we agreed to find a park together. I ruled out Vondelpark, saying it didn't have a good reputation at night and so we elected to instead head east.
After some more coffeeshops until 3am, we sat in Damn square smoking more weed and watching stupid tourists buy "coke" off the street vendors. Some found out it was only chalk or whatever and came back to get their money back, which usually resulted in a fight. Funny, why people just keep falling for that old swindle is beyond me - you have more chance buying real coke off a London street dealer than one in Holland (due to the law being stricter in the UK).
After a very long walk and dozing on some park benches in the freezing cold, we headed back towards town. My three companions I think now realised why sleeping in a park may save you thirty euro but it really wasn't a good idea (the park was full of others just like ourselves, so finding a free bench was hard - plus the park had rats which squeaked at you from under the bench) - indeed, one threw up all over the place and looked like living death. I took us up towards Barney's Breakfast Bar passing hotels which I knew were clean and cheap from past experience - however, none were open at 7.30am. In Barney's, I bought the 2001 cannabis cup winner "Sweet Tooth" and ate english pancakes with eggs at a pricey eight euro. Afterwards, suitably more lubricated, I took us through a number of hotels where we found a room until Monday at 27 euro per head per night (I'm sure I was told 25 on Saturday, but then I was so very very tired). We went immediately to bed.
Regarding weed recommendations in Amsterdam, I should write something: last weekend was my first weekend there in about one and a half years. What I will say is that for the last three maybe four years I had noticed a substantial & continued decline in imported hash variety and quality but this time it was completely the opposite - every conceivable hash from Afghanistan, Lebanon, Pakistan, India, Nepal etc. etc. was available plus an even more increased selection from Morocco. Lebanese is my favourite hash, and I greatly enjoyed smoking a "yellow" variety which I got from the Dampkring.
Herb wise, again, imports were excellent with plenty from various regions including Columbia and Africa. I smoked some stuff from Swaziland and Thailand which stuck out in my memory.
Local production of course was as good as always, though I really didn't think much of last year's cup winner "Sweet Tooth" (nor the prior winner "Blueberry" either - in fact, everything since the 1995 winner (the (in)famous White Widow) hasn't been great - maybe time to follow the European High Life instead of the American High Times?). The nederhash "Moonshine #1" from the Dampkring as always sent all of us into lala land - every centimo of its 23 euro a gramme is worth it. My favourite skunk I think from the whole trip was "Korean Delight" from the Greenhouse which was this wonderful balance of taste, smell and potency. The smell was fruity, almost haze-like but not haze (I don't like the haze smell or taste or effects) and the taste was simply divine. Effects were excellent, with a definite upbeat euphoric bias. I asked about getting seeds for it, and got a very dour response about "we sell only what's on the list".
With all this harping on about improved interdiction efforts, lessening of dutch herb quality etc. well I'm not seeing the evidence anymore. Maybe I had a lucky month, but everyone I asked said it'd been good for a while.
Anyway, I ran out of money on Saturday despite exceeding my budget by at least 100 euro, so I easily smoked almost everything I bought before we left. I went straight from Amsterdam to Montpellier, stayed at the friend's flat for the night but since the train left at 6.30am I didn't sleep much. I arrived back into Spain at Portbou around 9am, bought some croissants and a bottle of water and then sat on the little wall surrounding the gothic church there which is near the train station. This church is almost as high as Portbou goes and there is a sheer cliff drop other side of the little wall, but I didn't let that bother me.
One thing I can tell you which can move you greatly is sitting high up, watching out over the mediterranean as the sun burns through the mist that always seems to hang over it every morning. Maybe it was the tiredness or maybe it was the fine lebanese hashish I was smoking, but I felt really alive for those two hours. In fact, I think it was the high point of the whole trip and I paid precisely two euro for the croissants and water in order to enjoy it. All those fellow travellers never left the train station and instead took an earlier train to Barcelona, and I think they are much the worse for it.
On the train returning the Madrid, a rather attractive young lady sitting in front of me looked quite lost and helpless during the trip so I assumed she didn't speak Spanish nor knew Madrid. Upon arrival, I asked if she knew where she was going and it turned out she was an American catching a flight home next day. Pity, because from my short conversation with her as I walked her to the taxi rank she seemed nice and not at all mad.
Got back home very late that night although I didn't get to bed until 5am (sleeping on the train screwed my sleep rhythms) and well, now it's Friday. I'll need to break the whole going to bed at 6am thing tomorrow, need to force myself back to a more preferable 9am rise. And then, I suppose, it'll be a return to the normal patter of things until 4th Sept when I'll be off to Ireland for a week.
Lastly, although I know I've been saying it so often, I received my new TFT monitor the day before I left one month after ordering the blasted thing and I'll just say again how utterly gorgeous the display quality is. So so sharp, colours so so vivid. Watching TV on this thing lets you see every single pixel defect. Y'know, it just occurred to me that if my children were to read this right now they'd probably think it so tres passť that we ever didn't have TFT monitors. I mean, to them, a CRT monitor would be difficult to understand - they'll have grown up with TFT's almost all their lives (depends how soon I have them actually, if at all).
Right, back to my kung fu movie "The Invincible Shaolin". It's a good deal more humourous than most kung fu movies and yeah, I'd recommend it (it has Jet Li). Be happy y'all!
Monday 26th August 2002: 3.06pm. I can remember quite a lot of my dreams last night, probably because I woke up at 8.50am (before the alarm) and my body was quite adamant it didn't want to return to sleep - despite feeling like crap.
Anyway, various thoughts ran through my head, as they do when you're lying there feeling like crap and trying to sleep again. As always with near-dream like states, you can't remember half of it when you awaken, but I do keep a notebook next to my bed for reminders of anything particularly good to enter my head when in bed and so I can recall clearly two points:
The first is that if you consider the problem of the quantum multiverse where there is continually a potential at every moment of time for the universe to split into more than one copy, it can be easily solved by applying systemic theories.
Let me explain: there's been a big furore in recent years in quantum physics about the quantum universe, because effectively it means there are an infinite number of copies of this universe existing alongside in parallel. These copies and our copy are constantly interacting which is the only way of explaining certain anomalous experiment results eg; the old test involving a photon choosing one of two paths and it always does so evenly, even if there is only one photon being emitted at a time (I've written about that experiment in this diary before). A quantum computer for example "creates" a universe per possible result, and therefore the correct result for a calculation emerges from only the correct universe and hence calculation time is effectively zero.
Now many physicists have a major conceptual problem with this, and a good few more just think it's contrary to nature. I disagree, especially after this morning's revelation. The entire mechanistic world pioneered by Newton et al is merely a consequence of the infinitely interlinking system of relations between every part of the universe (ie; all matter and space is a set of relations to itself) - this realisation is one of the first any quantum physics student will need to accept. What occurred to me this morning is that the quantum multiverse is merely the same type of self-relation except applied to time. Therefore, linear time is a consequence of the infinitely interlinking system of relations between every part of the universe.
Of course, thinking in infinities all the time doesn't help much. Whether in fact there is a universe for every single possible variation of every single event to have ever occurred is unimportant - much more useful is considering the potentials for the above, because we can effectively throw away or discount a great deal of infinity which is unimportant to us by merely working exclusively with potentials for outcomes from the present.
We in the western world have an awful limitation of thinking of time and space as different, and ever since Einstein we should know better. But with the distinction marked so heavily in everyday language, we keep repeating this conceptual mistake. OTOH, given the recent massive advances in quantum computing (with the first commercial quantum cryptography machine now on the market), possibly some of the more intelligent of us do not suffer from this problem. What is clear to me however, is that because quantum computers work with such intricacy and suffer from random changes inflicted by external radiation, that the optimal solution is a self-organising quantum computer. I would guard heavily against self-creating until we fully understand it, because self-creating organisms at the quantum level imply that once a certain level of complexity were reached, it would become self-aware at a level far exceeding anything possibly biologically (think: zero computation time within zero distance - it just requires enough nodes and you've got an infinitely powerful brain). Also, of course, theoretically such a quantum process could be used to reorganise matter subatomically - try shooting that with a gun!
Right, first point over. Second point involved the old bug-bear, so often repeated in the four years I've been writing this diary, about women. I've already concluded in here that what I find attractive appears to often be the wrong type of woman for me, thus leading inevitably to dismal crushing failure (again, and again, and again). Thus if I improve my filtering, I should improve my chances.
To that aim, I often find my subconscious (it tends to go do things which only if I quieten my mind will it tell me about) taking a certain combination of psychological profiles I have encountered during my life and basically trying the new combination on for size using a kind of dialectic process between my representation of the theory and my representation of myself.
Now a major danger here is getting the models wrong. Obviously, my combination could be impossible which denotes the experiment was a waste of time. Much much worse is if I have my own self-representation wrong, because then every experiment is a waste of time. As I mentioned in here during the troubles after Ruth, an existential crisis about how I see myself is very debilitating and until its resolution, one is effectively paralysed.
One thing I think I don't account for enough is my liking of breathing room. During my wee trip north last week, I noticed a serious number of male female partners travelling together and I wondered if I could do the same. Answer: yes I could, but it would be an ill fit - indeed much as is anything where I have to do anything involving anyone else at all. Generally speaking, most activities are ones I prefer to do in solitary period - and indeed my history shows I tend to travel alone and do everything alone.
However, I have to balance that. Yes, I do enjoy spending time with people, and I do enjoy eating with people, and I daresay I enjoyed heading to Amsterdam with other people. However, all these social activities I note I warp to my predilection in a way unlike others eg; I will tend to be an outside member of many groups, never an internal member of one group (unlike most people). When I call round someone's place, I tend to arrive alone and also depart alone - always preserving my own recognisance for getting home. When eating, it is very rare for me to accept being cooked for because I know I hate returning the favour (indeed, next weekend I plan to make one payback meal for everyone who has cooked for me here - it's inescapable here in the Mediterranean world). In general, the way I socially interact is very much peculiarly altered to preserve my independence.
Now, we could get into all the terrible things which happened to me as a child to explain this (eg; could be argued all this is a defence mechanism against rejection) but once conditioned, there's only so much which can be done past the age of five years old. What I do know is that when in a relationship, I suffer from a nasty combination of wanting to draw closer while at the same time preserving all of the independence listed above, and attempting to repress one without addressing the other leads to various violent emotions and reactions. For example, when travelling north recently, as usual I found it difficult to have to do what the group wanted and as usual it led to some violent emotional reactions which through practice, I can repress - but it wouldn't work on a continual basis, like say in a long-term relationship with a woman.
I think by now you can see where I'm going with this. I have been attempting to address this problem in reductionist terms, but I am increasingly realising it's a systemic problem which can only be solved with systemic solutions. The major problem, as mentioned in here before, is that because exactly one half of the modelled relationship isn't me, I have only influential rather than relatively direct control. The cartesian solution to this is merely to plug in a different woman, more suitable - and this is what my subconscious has been modelling. But I don't think it's correct - I'm being far too simplistic - the real and correct solution is a combination of many small things ie; a systemic solution.
The key to all systemic solutions is that of self-organisation - you gotta be a firm believer in the ability of a system to manage itself. I wrote in this diary a few weeks ago that I needed to make a choice about how much weight to give my internal selective abilities. My rationale was that on the basis of history, my subconscious is a crap chooser of the right woman and hence perhaps more direct conscious control should be imposed. If I remember correctly, I left the answer mostly open but I do remember subconsciously tending towards giving myself the benefit of the doubt as in the end, the conscious mind is merely a consequence of the subconscious one. If the realisations of today hold true, then that decision is now firmly made in the benefit of my subconscious. And that is something which worries me.
Why? Well, last entry I mentioned a rather attractive girl I talked to upon returning to Madrid. In reality, given the few minutes I talked to her, there is no definite way I could form any decently reliable personality model, but based on most likelihood she might not have been mad but could well have become so. I could see a distinct possibility of potential madness - she reminded me of that girl Pacy went out with in Dawson's Creek of all things. So therefore, on this extremely scant evidence, it would seem my subconscious could still be picking the lemons ie; it's not learning from its mistakes (BTW yes, I do appreciate the irony of my subconscious telling itself it's wrong).
What worries me most of all is that perhaps, underneath it all I'm a scared little boy who desperately wishes to be returned to the bosom of an all-encompassing female entity. Yeah, very Freudian and I don't think it true in an overall sense. But perhaps, regarding intimate relationships with the opposite sex, I remain very immature and undeveloped and it is precisely this immaturity in this regard which keeps leading me to persistently repeat the same mistake. That is evidence of a neurosis, which then implies active conscious participation to achieve recovery.
Damn. I've gone full circle and reached the same options with entirely different reasoning. What am I to do?
(Anyone who sends an email saying relax and don't worry so much about it because it'll sort itself out - well, I'll say this: yes, you go ahead and do so yourself and be blessed in the knowledge you are statistically unlikely to make it for more than five years yourself! Now, given you're normal and I'm fucked up in this regard, imagine my statistical chances! Next to zero!)
Last little subthought I had this morning (and I'll make this quick before I'm ravenously hungry and this entry is long enough already) is about rationalisation of desire. I had previously stated in here that I am lonely, therefore I desire a partner. I don't think that's true anymore, and I suppose that's a natural consequence of the progress I have made in the last year. I think now that loneliness is an inevitable consequence of our individual selves and it provides the binding force necessary for society. For me personally, it is amplified more still for all the reasons above. The difference between now and previously is that I clung to the idea that this ever-present loneliness could be removed by finding the right girl because in those fleeting past relationships, one could sacrifice the future for more closeness to present the illusion of soulmate. Now I realise that those experiences were just illusion created by my own actions, and the reality is that you will never understand another person, you will never feel truly at one with them and you will never ever get rid of the loneliness until the day you die. Now I'm not being negative here, I'm merely pointing out that some of why past relationships failed is because I artificially bent them to illusorily remove loneliness, and part of the key to future success is to not do so in the future.
Ok, time for spinach and cannelloni. My god damn colon has seized up for the last two days and is proving quite sore. I read up on operations to fix it, and interestingly the sigmoid colon is one of those areas medical science admits it's very poor at - the success rate for operations on it is very low indeed with all sorts of fun complications like septicaemia being common. I personally think all someone needs to do is unkink the pipe but maybe I'm being simplistic. Ach, stomach growls, right I'm off, be happy till next time!