18 August 2010

It's Random, Jim, But Not As We Know It.

One of the best things about writing for this blog is that every day has a specific subject that all contributors have to adhere to. For someone like me, who dithers about everything and everything, including which subject to blog about on her personal blog, this should be perfect, yes?

Sometimes it is, don't get me wrong - Delusional Thursdays could have been invented for me, for example - but sometimes I struggle. I was almost suckered when I was due to write the Reading Monday post last week, but at the last minute I thought of something. Today's 'subject', being a Wednesday, is 'random'. Now this should be perfect for me seeing as every single post on my own blog could probably be termed as 'random' (on a good day, that is, mostly they are generally insane), but I was (and still am, to be truthful) more than a little stumped. I thought I had a brainwave yesterday (which, as you'll be reading this on Wednesday, is technically the day before yesterday, as I am typing this on Tuesday, which is now the real yesterday, as opposed to the yesterday that I first mentioned) afternoon, but instead of getting my butt on the chair and typing, I procrastinated (as per normal) and ended up leaving it. I still had time, after all, seeing as the blog was not due to be posted until Wednesday, right? Only I work every Wednesday and Thursday morning and am out of the house between 5am and 11am, so writing a blog and having it ready to post by noon is just not happening.

Anywho, getting back to the subject (what was it again? Oh yes, random), I had a couple of ideas this morning. Hurrah! First I thought I'd use the subject literally, and write about what random actually means. But then I realised that I would have to take the subject quite seriously if I wanted to explain it properly, and 'me' and 'serious' aren't usually two words you'd find in the same sentence.

Then I thought I'd use my trusty friend Mr. Google, and type 'random' in the search bar. There's bound to be plenty of stuff to blog about after a Google search, yes? *rolls eyes at self* Only I didn't really find anything that caught my eye, and picking a random 'random' was not really, well, random, after all, so it didn't feel right anyway.

And that's when it hit me. Random rarely is random.

Ask someone to say something random, and you'll probably get either a shrug accompanied with a blank stare, or a few seconds of silence while the person in question tries to think of something incredibly witty to say. Neither response is random now, is it? Sure, there might be one or two random responses in every ten, but mostly the answers are about as far from random as you can get.

I oversee a fanfiction awards thread on a Harry Potter fansite, and every month there is a 'Random Pick of the Month', but strictly speaking, the pick isn't random at all. I have a system of sorts that I use when choosing the 'random' pick; I make sure I pick something from the back pages of the forum that perhaps hasn't been read for a while and needs the advertising, then I make sure that the story hasn't been voted for that month (again because I like to use the random pick to highlight something that needs the spotlight), then I check previous listings to make sure that the story hasn't been a random pick too recently, and lastly I make sure that the story is in fact a story, and not a collection of short fictions/one shots. By the time I've done all this, I'm not left with many stories to choose from, so while I try to be as random as possible (I close my eyes and hover the cursor up and down a page and stop when I feel like it), I end up discarding a few choices every month because they don't fit my system.  So the 'Random Pick' is really the 'The Story That Is Really Good That Hasn't Been Voted For This Month And Fits Tara's Wonky System Pick Of The Month', but that's not as spiffy sounding as 'Random Pick' now, is it?

Random just doesn't really work for me, I guess. It's exactly the same as when someone says 'don't think of an elephant', and immediately you of course think of an elephant. It's just not happening. Random will never be random when you are given time to think. I could have blogged about any subject in the world, but it wouldn't have been random because I would have consciously chosen the topic.

Instead I chose to ramble, which, if you stretched it a little, could be termed as random anyway. And in the interests of trying to stay on the subject of randomness, I propose a little challenge. When you get to the end of this post (if my blathering hasn't completely scared you off, that is), go to the comments section and type the first thing that comes into you head. The very first thing, mind you, so no trying to think of something awe-inspiring or hysterically funny. The very first thing.

Go on, I dare you.

Image courtesy of public-domain-imagesdotcom


Cruella Collett said...


Okay, I cheated. The very first thing I thought about was an elephant, of course. And then I thought about "Water for the Elephants" which I am currently reading. And then I thought about going home. Not just because the book is there, but also because I feel that I did good merely by showing up at the university this morning, and they can hardly expect me to stay all day. And then I thought about how I really should stay all day since I am way behind and I am seeing my supervisor again tomorrow. And then I thought about going home anyway, to bake - mostly because it is baking weather and baking - procrastibaking, of course - would take my mind off the work I should be doing. And then I thought about the possibility for going home, reading my book and/or watching 30 rock.

And then I thought about a telescopes, for some reason.

Natasha said...

Reminds me of "randomly" scheduling the order in which we post to this blog. Hart was doing the first piece. Jason was on holiday, so was scheduled for last. Hart, Mari and I had the most followers, so I wanted to string the three of us out, and I since ..... blah, blah, blah

Random is rarely random.

Great post.

Amber T. Smith said...

Hahahahaha, you crack me up, Mari, you really do. *snort*

And yup, that elephant was put there for a reason - just call me Tricksy Tara. *winks*

Amber T. Smith said...

Natasha - so THAT'S how you worked the schedule out! And here's me thinking it was computer generated or something. I'm just as clueless as ever, obviously. :)

Hart Johnson said...

fish. But it came into my head because it is how I first read 'first' when you were giving the instructions. So there you have it. fish.

Very nice random post, Tara--if all else fails, take it literally, eh?

Erin said...


I don't know how that happened. I think subconsciously I've been wanting to play with bubbles recently.

M.J. Nicholls said...

Yes! Genius! I have a problem when people dismiss something seemingly obscure as "random." It usually shows a disgraceful lack of thought or consideration.

In books, especially, nothing is ever random. Never. Apart from the flamingoes.

Anonymous said...


You're right about a lot of "randomness" being "un-random." What's up with that?!

ViolaNut said...

My feet stink.

Not particularly random either, but still true. :-P

Jan Morrison said...

A whole bunch of us (twelve maybe) are standing around a big pit in the ground. A crater. We are peering down into it. I think you've lost your hat and we're wondering if it is worth going after. It is 'supposed to be' a bottomless pit but we all know that is silly - that there are no such things. Are there? I hope there aren't because it would mean ...well that the world wasn't round or solid like or something. I mean you'd just chute out the other side like I'd come out somewhere in the pacific ocean and then I'd drowned. And that would be a bummer wha!? But then you say that you didn't really like that hat anyway, that your aunt gave it to you and it was a Tilley Endurable and Malcolm says "who'd want that stupid thing to endure?" and we all laugh so hard that I fall in.