Monday, 21 November 2011

Tales of a Drunkard: Learning

Last night i went to Sahara in Reading for their EDS (Educated Drinkers of Sahara) night. The idea of the EDS is for the members to become educated about the drinks they provide. Which for this Drunkard is a nice respite from just necking drinks for the sake of it. This meeting was the year anniversary for the EDS so was special for them and the drink of choice was Tapatio Tequila. Along with the different Tequilas was a history lesson from Duncan, from Speciality Brands which was amazing. I had no idea where Tequila came from, where it was made and the different types of Tequila, so for me was a nice eye opener into a spirit which is usually just necked on a night out. So the presentation about this family owned distillery was informative and funny and with the tasting afterwards meant you were more appreciative of the drink.

The tasting of the spirit was akin to wine tasting. Little measures were poured into a wine glass, you let it breath then put your nose to it to pick out the different aromas. Then the tasting. The first glass was the Blanco  which was very spicy and very nice. A bit too spicy for me and this tequila is bottled a few weeks after its been made. The second glass was the Reposada which is aged for a few months and was a lot smoother to drink, not as peppery as the Blanco and was my favourite of the night. The third was the Anejo which again is aged at about 18months. This tequila was a little bit peppery than the Reposada but still smoother than the Blanco. There was a bit of a kick afterwards but again nice and smooth, which you could just sip all night.

They are the three Tequilas that Tapatio make, the fourth bottle and tequila we sampled was the Reservas de la Excelencia, the Family Reserve which was usually just available to drink at the distillery or in the local cafes/bars. Speciality Brands twisted their arms and managed to get bottles of it to sell. It has now been discontinued which made the drink that much nicer. It is aged for about 4 years but the one we had was aged for 7 years if i remember correctly and was so smooth. Not as spicy as the Blanco, smooth like the Reposada and full of flavour. By far the nicest Tequila i have ever had and will probably ever have.

As it was a birthday party of sorts there were party rings, chocolate fingers and hula hoops and marshmallows on offer and like someone said "Food fitting of a 3yr olds birthday". After thanking Duncan for an insight into the La Altena Distillery, which has been making Tequila for 70 years, we moved upstairs where Dan the manager made us some cocktails to enjoy and some made with the Tapatio tequila, we sipped, shared and enjoyed the company. Had a couple of birthday shots and i bought some rum daiquiris. Chatting to some of the people there we decided to get some drinks on the way home since we lived in the same direction so Hobgoblin for a nice pint of cider then a walk to Up the Junction for a nice beer. Always nice to meet new people and friendly ones at that. I got home about 11:30 after stopping off to take a couple of pictures in Palmer Park as it was really misty and looked amazing. Though both my DSLR and digital compact were out of battery so my trusty medium format camera was placed on the floor so who knows if it worked, might pop back there again.

So all in all a good educational drinking session was had. Can't wait for the next one.

Tuesday, 15 November 2011

The Internet

Ever since the inception of the Internet there has been wonderment that man has gazed upon. In this digital age EVERYTHING is at your fingertips if you know how to use it. Things from Michelangelo's blueprints to the Anarchists Cookbook, to everything in between. The amount of information at your disposal these days is far greater than that you could ever wish for from teachers and lecturers. You could, if you so see fit, learn more from the Internet than you could from school/college/university. But you would have sod all to show for it other than a Good Will Hunting take on life. Which some would say isn't a bad thing.

Together with the Pandora's box of information comes a sense of control, well there should be a sense of control, with the Internet. As Rule 34 states: There is porn of it, no exceptions. Basically if you have thought of it, there is porn. And that is the dark side of the Internet. With information becomes distortion. Years ago i downloaded a faces of death video off Kazaa. And that video still haunts me, whether it was true or not i still remember that video, the colours etc. This is what the Internet has become.

With the Internet, and notably through 4-chan, have become this sense of anonymity. You can say and do whatever the fuck you want with near on no repercussions, well nearly no implications. If you are old enough to remember ICQ or yahoo chat rooms before they became petri dishes of perverts, then you will know it was part of the explosion of talking to random people around the room. Chat rooms linked people, with either common subjects or in most cases perverted sexual endeavours. It was like having pen pals but without having to write and wait weeks for reply. Although written notes were more meaningful, digital counterparts were not only easier to reply to but meant you could get through a months conversation within a week or two.

With chat rooms and programs came websites and search engines. Before Facebook and google there was Myspace, Bebo, Anglefire, Geocities, Tucows, Yahoo, Ask Jeeves. People were able to make websites catered to their own sense of style and person. I myself had a site about conspiracy theories, a few of my friends had sites full of nonsensical wonderment and before Geocities closed its doors i downloaded by friends sites (Although you can download the entire geocities directory). All this basically gave birth to Twitter and Facebook that you no doubtly use day in and day out.

But how well do you know that person that you 'follow' or you added on Facebook? The Internet provides a safety net. You can be yourself, you can be someone different. How many times have you gone into town, to a club and though "Well being myself gets me nowhere so how bout i just make up someone" you can be anyone you want in real life but most people decide they would rather do that on the internet. Its easy to tell if someone is lying in real life because usually they trip up on what they say or sometimes you can just tell. However if you talk to someone online, how do you know who or what they are?

How do you know the person you talk to day in and day out is who they say they are. Do you really know that man/woman are who they say they are. What they do for a living is what they actually do etc. There is a degree of trust that you instill in someone, usually someone you don't know, yet you will gladly talk to someone, open up to them as if you knew them for years. Why? You wouldn't walk up to someone in a coffee shop and lay on them your life story or what you have been up to the previous week.
That person you might talk to online, be it Facebook/Skype/Twitter/AIM/MSN/Any other social networking site or program, how do you know they are who they say they are? How would you feel if after a year of talking to someone that they turn around and end up being not who you thought they were?
I have had the pleasure/displeasure of knowing someone for about 18-24 months. Talking to them pretty much daily, knowing them well enough to know that if they did or didn't say something, that i would know what they meant from that. How well do you know your family or friends that you know what they mean when they don't use words? Anyway you get to know someone, about their life and their family, and they do you. Its a pen pal relationship where you just talk to someone else in the world, which is what social media is all about really. But you develop feelings for someone, i mean who wouldn't if you ended up talking to someone day in and day out for a year or two. As trivial as conversations might be "I broke up with my boyfriend, i went on holiday, i had my mum visit, my day at work was shit" Its these interactions that make you develop attractions. 
But my initial question, somewhere up there, still beckons. How do you know how you talk to are who they say they are.

Now this is going to get way too personal for a blog post, well considering most of my other blog posts anyway. I have known girl named Lexi for about 2 years. A random occurrence and following on Twitter brought us together. We both had a love of geeky things such as games or the odd TV show/film. We connected over things such as family, life and tea. When i said things she listened and when she didn't say things i knew what she meant. Its the whole reading between the lines part of relationship i suppose? Knowing someone inside and out without meeting them is a concept a lot of people cant comprehend, and for a lot of people will understand fully. 
Anyway move on about 2 years, a few months ago, and i come upon a revelatory piece of information. There is a website called Tineye, that allows you to pretty much back trace an image. I use it to see if anyone is using my pictures that i upload on face book or my other blog that i use for photography. Anyway, like googling your own name, i used it on a picture of Lexi and was suddenly confronted with an entire google database of websites dedicated to this girl and her pictures. Which i hope you can understand is a fucking shock. Imagine finding a website dedicated to your friend, family member or girlfriend/boyfriend that you never knew about. It took me by shock. So if anyone reading this wondered why a month or so ago i was acting weird and depressed well that's your answer, in a way. 

Upon confronting Lexi i got a story about how she was once a model for Myspace and her pictures were used all over the place and yadda yadda bla bla a story was woven. Now the usual reason someone would fake who they were on the Internet would be because of low self esteem or many other psychological reasons i am not even going to bother going into. So this story was woven which seemed bollocks but also through knowing someone rather well seemed plausible. Heart said one thing, head said another. And upon pressing for actual information the story then changed. It changed to using Twitter and a picture of a model to see, psychologically, how people perceive online persona's. Which is a fucking good question, really. I mean whats stopping you from grabbing a picture and using it as your own persona? Common decency really.

So much bollocks later, about this that and the other, an actual person was found. Her name was still Lexi, but the picture was different. But the person was the same. And that's all that matters. The person you know is the same but the trust is gone. If one of my good friends turned round and relayed some piece of information that was a major contrast to who i knew and what i knew about them, i doubt i could ever trust them the same.
So there is a degree of doubt in everything and anything i knew about 'Lexi'. I can never fully trust that person like i used to. My feelings have changed but are still the same. I'd love to turn around and call her a psycho bitch that had no right to do that, but at the same time its the Internet. Whats stopping her or you? 

Yes for a day or three i was empty. Yes i know don't really like her as a person and that she doesnt mean the same to me as she did say 6 months ago. Yes i don't believe a single word she says anymore, not so much that its untrue, but that what right does she have to have me trust anything she says. But at the same point everything i have learnt about her is true. How do i know? I don't. But talking to someone for a long period of time you just know. Making up a persona is hard, changing your name or image is easy but changing who you are, your likes/dislikes, fears or desires is hard.
I really don't know where this blog was going, maybe i needed to get things off my chest or warn people of the dangers of the Internet? Kids growing up these days don't really know the dangers of the Internet. And i don't mean that pervert down the road that logs onto your Stickam broadcasts, i mean anything and everything you do is on the Internet. It ever goes away, and it can never be deleted. I may or may not have lost/left my job because of things i posted on here or facebook. Try googling your name and seeing what information comes up, its scary sometimes what you find out is available to everyone to see. 

The internet is a wonderful thing. It is a dangerous thing. It stretches the realm of understanding but it also constricts what you can perceive. It offers warmth, solace and caring. It also offers darkness, cold and subjection.

It is up to you how you use it.