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Predictable

I'm not terribly good at December. Though I have little truck with outdoors, I can't deny that the lack of sun saps my energy, and there's always the looming cloud of Christmas promising to rain familial obligations on my parade. Last December it was quiet at work and I was listless and distracted, so naturally I was ambling through the internet with my brain loose, letting whimsical queries reproduce and subdivide until I was left with tens of tabs, connected by a messy web of relevance and coincidence, but also somehow all equally uninteresting. Perhaps it's a measure of how enervated I'd become that I actually started paying attention to the ads alongside my latest search, or perhaps my overfed but under-stimulated brain had gratefully seized upon something which showed promise.

Like any good infovore, I may not recall the details of where I end up, but I can mentally retrace the tracks I followed there, and in this case I'm pretty sure that I was looking for details of the Faerunian calendar. I will flatter you by assuming that you're not already aware of this, and explain that Faerun is a setting for Dungeons and Dragons and associated spin-offery, and the peculiarity of its calendar is that long ago a mad prophet produced a book giving every year in his future a cryptic name, each of which turned out to prophesy some event (significant or otherwise) falling within that year.

I don't recall *why* I was googling this, mind you, but I do recall the aforementioned context ad, which offered a personalised cryptic name for each of your upcoming months. Interest piqued, I clicked through and was presented with an idiosyncratic questionnaire, like a cross between hyper-specialised data-mining and one of those memes full of questions. "Name of the first person you kissed", "Topic of your most recent nightmare", "Current sock colour"... you know the sort of thing. It seemed fairly benign (the most sinister use I could think of for all these facts would be to extrapolate an unimaginative password) and I was bored, so I started filling it in.

There were many, many questions, but they were interesting enough that I pressed on. I'd pretty much lost track of why I'd started in the first place, when I was presented with a screen explaining that I'd qualified for a lifetime subscription for £5, with a PayPal button at the bottom. It still didn't exactly explain what I was paying for but it wasn't obviously fraudulent, the questionnaire had been quite fun and I was in a devil-may-care mood, so I kicked them some cash, changed my PayPal password just in case, then forgot all about it... until January 1st, when I received an email from them that simply read 'Resolution'. Not, I felt, a particularly uncanny demonstration, but I guess I *did* restart writing morning pages on January 2nd, and (with more resolve than I can usually muster) have managed to keep it up every single day since, despite months of disruptive building work to put an extension on our house.

Speaking of which, February's prediction was 'Encapsulation', which certainly hit the spot, as tinyjo and I spent every free moment packing pretty much everything we own into boxes in a lock-up, as the construction escalated towards the point at which we would have to move out. March was apparently 'Screening' which had me confused at first. However, a couple of days later cleanskies suggested out of the blue that tinyjo and/or I might like to accompany her to watch 'Black Swan' and I realised that, though I love films, I hadn't actually seen one for ages. That problem quickly resolved itself, as on top of 'Black Swan', our lovely hosts (kindly housing us while our house was uninhabitable) held two film nights ('The Social Network' and 'The Losers'), and cleanskies and timscience also invited people to theirs for a viewing of 'Arthur and the Invisibles'. Without really trying I'd had an uncharacteristically film-filled month, and the prophecy was fulfilled.

April, apparently, was 'The Month of Texts'. I waited for a week with no obvious hints as to how that was supposed to be taken, but then started reading a new book ('Kraken' by China Miéville) for the first time for ages. Twitter and the internet had filled this gap in my current disrupted life, but it was only once I started reading properly again that I realised quite how inadequately they had done so. They provide entertainment, news (global and personal), stimulation and distraction, but can't possibly compete with books for sheer immersive pleasure. Having regained the taste, I also read 'Gullstruck Island' by Frances Hardinge (which was really excellent) and 'Soulless' by Gail Carriger (which was really not). I'd been hoping to get through a book a week but I started late, and ended early when we began moving back into our house(!)

And now it's May, and I'm told that this month is about 'Communication', which seemed as good a reason as any to resume another pleasant activity that I've neglected for too long: blogging. However, I'm going to interpret this prediction more broadly and try to let it push me to make daily connections of all sorts. I have some ideas for other posts, but I've also got a few photos of the new and improved house to upload, some friends I owe visits, and even (to my shame) thank you letters for Christmas presents which are as yet unwritten, so it's not like I lack interpretations of how this month might pan out. For example, we already seem to be ending the month with a party, which will also fit nicely into the theme.

So, for what it's worth, that predictions site has been remarkably effective; after all, aren't self-fulfilled prophecies the safest kind? Unfortunately I've been unable to find it again. I've not seen the ad again, the emails I get contain nothing but that month's Name, and their headers are set to look like they've originated from my own account. I'd like to track them down, if only to ask why my lifetime subscription was so cheap...

Comments

( 3 comments — Leave a comment )
mr_snips
May. 2nd, 2011 11:17 pm (UTC)
"Nowadays, it's often a website."
Unfortunately I've been unable to find it again. I've not seen the ad again, the emails I get contain nothing but that month's Name, and their headers are set to look like they've originated from my own account. I'd like to track them down, if only to ask why my lifetime subscription was so cheap.

I'm guessing because you were subscribing to a supernatural manifestation of horrific spookiness?

oxfordhacker
May. 3rd, 2011 08:32 am (UTC)
Re: "Nowadays, it's often a website."
Pretty much :) There's a lot of talk about legislating against websites that serve as somewhat-hackneyed literary devices, but it's just not practical...
intrepia
May. 3rd, 2011 12:48 am (UTC)
Would there be a record in your PayPal account of who you sent the money to?
( 3 comments — Leave a comment )

Cute overload
oxfordhacker
Drifting in and out of consciousness

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