Saturday, October 07, 2006

Let us celebrate this agreement with the adding of chocolate to milk

Hmmm, it's been a while hasn't it. There's a couple of reasons for this; one is lack of time, but the main reason is I just don't have anything to say. Several times in the past 3 months I've sat down determined to write a post, and absolutely nothing came. I've collected links to interesting stories but when it came time to write a post about them they weren't so interesting any more. I've been trying to work out why this should suddenly be so, and I think I've finally got the answer - Cas.

The problem for an amateur blogger such as myself who shares a tower with a dedicated blogger and 9 Rules member is that it makes you realise that your blog is so... well, amateur. I know she'll disagree with my terminology as she too is an amateur (she doesn't get paid for it, she blogs for fun), but she is much more involved with the world of blog and social networking. I have to admit to more than a little blog-envy here.

So for now, until I rediscover my blog-mojo, I shall content myself with commenting on Bright Meadow and becomming head minion (yes, I know I've already linked to it once, but a good site can never have too many links).

Sunday, June 11, 2006

A plea for help

My friends, I am making a plea for help on behalf of George W. Bush and the US military. They need a new dictionary, possibly one combined with a thesaurus, as they clearly do not understand the meaning of 'act of warfare'.

Friday, June 09, 2006

You look like a tidy drug addict

Cas gave me a new friend today. His name is Gerald, and after a little chat I discovered he's a big England fan. Say hello to Gerald everyone.


I did something amazing today - I gave blood. Unfortunately, the nurse sticking the needle in my arm completely botched it the first time, so we had to start all over again with the other arm. Consequently I left the donor suite with an embarassingly large white plaster on each arm (or Band Aid if you prefer), leading to Cas's comment about being a tidy drug addict.
To cheer myself up, and reward myself for doing a good deed, I took myself off the pictures this afternoon to see Poseidon. Despite the bad reviews (or maybe because of them?) I thoroughly enjoyed this film. Yes, it's silly, but it's a disaster pic; what else would you expect? And I challenge any woman alive not to swoon at Josh Lucas's heroic antics :)

Tuesday, May 30, 2006

National(ity) crisis

One of my constant bugbears during the short time I lived in the US was the American insistance that the terms 'Britain' and 'England' are synomynous, but how can we expect others to understand the difference when we aparently don't understand it ourselves. In a recent poll the readers of BBC History magazine choose the signing of the Magna Carta as a day to celebrate 'Britishness'. One problem with this - Britain didn't exist when it was signed. In fact it didn't exist until nearly 500 years later! Does no-one understand the concept of historical responsibility anymore?

Sunday, May 28, 2006

The Pledge

"I believe the Internet should be a force for political freedom, not repression. People have the right to seek and receive information and to express their peaceful beliefs online without fear or interference.

I call on governments to stop the unwarranted restriction of freedom of expression on the Internet – and on companies to stop helping them do it."



Amnesty International have launched a new website called irrepressible.info to campaign against state censorship on the Internet. Sign the pledge today.

Sunday, May 21, 2006

You will nibble me, but no-one will see

If it's May it must be Eurovision. Last night Cas and I spent a happy couple of hours watching people from all over Europe embarass themselves on international tv while the UK commentator, Terry Wogan, ripped the piss out them, the host, the set, the little videos in between acts, and well, pretty much everything. Despite the fact that only two of the thirty-seven countries who take part speak English as a first language about three quarters of the acts this year sang completely in English. The others all sang part of their song in English with the exception of the French, who, if all six billion inhabitants on the planet spoke English, would still sing in French.
Our favourites were eventual winners Finland (Hard Rock Hallelujah), Lithuania (whose entry was 6 blokes singing, "We are the winners, we are the winners of Eurovision, vote for us!"), and Germany's catchy little country number (No, No, Never). The Latvian entry also has a special place in our hearts, not only for being from the homeland of the Lovely Latvian, but also for making us laugh so much with their little dancing robot thingie.
On digital the BBC had some interactive entertainment set up in the fomr of sing-a-long lyrics for the all the entries. We couldn't decide if this was a good or a bad thing. On one hand you got to see just how banal the lyrics truly were (lots about lost love this year), on the other hand some of the translations were hilarious (today's title is taken from the Croatia entry - Moja Stikla).
And finally, to the people of Andorra, Coratia, Cyprus, Denmark, Estonia, Ireland, Latvia, Malta, Norway and Poland: WHAT were you thinking giving the UK entry points??

Monday, April 10, 2006

I'm neither poor nor innocent

I awoke this morning to the sound of seagulls. Lots of seagulls. They were making so much noise I was tempted to look out of the window and see how many there were, but was too afraid it would be like The Birds.

I've decided to add a new section to the blog, dedicated to people who have way too much time on their hands.
The first entry is this little treat from Potter Puppets - Sexy Snape.

Interesting career switch of the week:
Frankie Muniz, aka Malcolm in the Middle, is taking a couple of years off from acting... to become a racing driver.

The other morning on the radio I'm sure they had a story about a lage rabbit threatening a giant vegetable competition. No it wasn't April Fool's Day, and no they weren't talking about Wallace and Grommit. I tried to find the story on the news websites just to make sure I wasn't imaging things (again), but had no luck. Instead I found this. Ah those crazy Japanese.

Is it really fair to say that if this one man had spoken up September 11th wouldn't have happened? We're trying to find closure for a wound that has barely begun to heal. Executing this man will not make the survivors or the families of those who died feel any better. Nor will it make the world a safer place.

Sunday, March 26, 2006

And remember, a shiney new donkey for whoever brings me the head of Colonel Montoya

I realised I have done a proper news round up recently, so decided to make a concerted effort to collect some interesting little snippets for you this week.

Are plastic bags really not as evil as we though? Not according to Jane Bickerstaffe.

I know it seems to some people that Cas and I have an unhealthy obsession with penguins, but they really are trying to take over the world! There are 3 - yes 3, count em, I know you won't - penguin films this year.

Had a very interesting debate with Cas about this one on Friday night: should the French force providers of music downloads, like Apple, to use a universal format? I said yes, music has always been available in a unversial format and should continue to. Cas decided to play devil's advocate and argue the pro-Apple side.

Apparently only carnivores make suitable foster parents in West Sussex. Odd.

Yes, Shetland ponies are small, but you still shouldn't have one in the back of your car.

When cartoons of the Islamic prophet Mohmmed were stupidly reprinted, there were protests all over the world, including in London. While the majority of London protesters were merely exercising their right to peaceful protest theere were a few who took it too far. These protesters were waving signs saying calling for the murder of people who insult Islam. The perfect case for the new Religious Hatred Act, right? If anything is inciting religious hatred that is. But there's a problem: it's not law yet. Curses. So did they get away with it? No. As the latest arrests prove we actually already had laws in place to deal with this sort of thing. So what was the point of the Religious Hatred bill??

Reading the 'roast over the Bright Meadow earlier today I was amused by Cas bemoaning the fact that she isn't a morning person (and by god is she not). This little nugget I picked up proves it's not her fault. It's all genetic Cas, blame your parents!

Thursday, March 16, 2006

Was it the song or the sticky buns, we'll never know.

I don't often remember my dreams, but the one I had the other night was so bizarre it stuck in my mind.

I was at work and I had a meeting scheduled. I went to collect the people I was meeting with from reception. It was Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie. I brought them into the office and sat them both down at my coleague's desk, which faces mine, so we could chat. It was easiest that way; if they'd been sat at my desk it would have been a bit cramped. I was having a bit of a problem with a spotlight on my desk that was in the way and wouldn't bend down easily, but got over this problem eventually by just removing it from the desk completely.

There was a brief time jump, as often happens in dreams, and the three of us were now in an old farmhouse somewhere in the American mid-west. I was checking through the house and in a bedoom I found a really sick man in bed. He looked like he had the flu. I carried on wandering around and when I went back to that room to check he was okay he was now a full blown zombie. Running away from him I tried another room where I found another man in what I now recognised as the early stages of zombification.

I ran downstairs to tell Brad, Angelina, and the old couple who lived in the house. Brad got out his mobile to call for help, but there was no signal. I tried to dial 911 on the landline but we were in one of those areas in smalltown USA which is so remote it's not covered by the usual emergency services and you have to dial a different number. The old couple refused to tell me what the number was. They were sure it would all blow over, no need to get the authorities involved. Brad just kept trying to use his mobile even though he knew there was no signal, and Angelina was sat having a cup of tea with the old couple.

The moral of the story is: if you find yourself battling zombies with Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie, don't expect them to be much help.

Sunday, March 05, 2006

Erm, there's something I need to tell you...

A few weeks ago I set up a new blog. It's called Movie Mayhem, though it's blogger name is 'run Seabscuit, run'. I'd explain why, but you won't find it funny so there's not much point. Anyway, I set this blog up so I had somewhere to post reviews of the movies I've seen this year, but as I haven't written any yet I didn't bother to tell anyone about it (excpt Cas, who didn't find the 'run Seabiscuit, run' bit funny even after I'd explained it in detail - which is how I know you won't either). In the meantime I have put up my predictions for the Oscars tonight, which are probably completely wrong, but isn't that the fun of it?

I haven't posted for a while, so here's what going on with my so called life. I've started teaching undergrads. It's an amusing experience. I'm looking forward to when they have to assignments in, as them seem to be particularly inventive at excuses for not doing things. I'm also still doing my admin job, and in theory my PhD (part-time), so I'm a tad busy.

In the news recently (it should be this week, but I haven't posted for a while):
The Malta police solve crimes.
In a recent survey, 1 in 5 Americans believe their Constitution upholds their right to own a pet.

Sunday, February 19, 2006

Two countries separated by a common language

There are times when I marvel about the linguistic divide between us Brits and our North American cousins. The simpliest of words can completely throw people out, on both sides of the Atlantic. Today I received an email from a Canadian friend who has been looking at university accommodation over here. Bemused by the plethora of complicated choices, she had a few queries for me, one of which was... what's a washbasin?
Such an innocent little word to cause confusion, that at first I thought she must have been joking. Then, thinking about it some more, I realised I couldn't recall anyone using it in the 2 years I lived in Canada. The evolution of language is an odd thing.

Thursday, February 16, 2006

How could I forget a story this funny??

Underpants start fire
These poor, poor people. Not only do they suffer the indignity of calling out the fire brigade to deal with a fire started by a pair of underpants, it was then front page news in the Daily Echo the next day, potentially seen by over 200, 000 people. Hilariously funny though.

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

All hail the digital revolution

'Switch to digital' they tell us, it's so much better. The picture is crystal clear, you got so many more channels; change now before they switch off the analogue transmitters. Crystal clear picture - yeah, when you can get one. We frequently can't get ITV or Channel 4 (or any of their minion channels). After much online investigation I've discovered that ITV and Channel 4 are run off a multiplex that is prone to poor reception. Well that was good planning wasn't it. Would I be so annoyed if ITV3 weren't showing Due South from the beginning?

News headlines this week:
- US Vice President Dick Cheney shoots fellow hunter in the face (well I had to mention it didn't I).
- The House of Commons votes for a complete smoking ban in enclosed public spaces in the UK from summer 2007. Pro-smoking groups have called it an infringement of civil liberties. What about my civil liberties that smokers infringe on every time they light up near me. They may choose to consume a product that is proven to kill you, but I don't. The brewery industry is already predicted thousands of job losses. I used to live in a city in Canada that had banned smoking in pubs. Nearly every one had a covered outdoor terrace that the smokers could sit out on and smoke without getting wet if rained (or if it snowed, as some crazies sat out there in the -30 degree winter) and they did a roaring trade, with plenty of smokers using them.

Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Thought of the Day

(brought to you by the good folk at Meadow Towers)

If a TV remote and a DVD remote breed, will the baby be a universal remote?

Saturday, January 28, 2006

Phone a friend

Things I have learnt this week:

- An hour and half after chopping chilies your hands will still have another chili on them to make your eyes really burn when you accidentally rub them.

- Chrystallised ginger doesn't microwave.

- Tennessee has a 'crack tax', whereby local drug dealers pay (confidentially) income tax on their earnings. If they don't, when they are busted for dealing they also get done for tax evasion.

So how's your week been? Good? I've been mostly dealing with idiots this week. But I did have one success. Everyone few weeks I get a phone call asking for someone called Leonard Crabtree (names have been changed to protect the, possibly, innocent). At first I didn't know who he was, so I'd look him up on the directory, not find him, and say sorry, not here. The caller would say okay, and that was the end of that. Talking to colleagues I discovered he used to work in my department some time ago, but not for at least 2 years. The next time I got a call I told them this. They asked for a new number, I explained no-one would have that, and that was the end of the call. A couple of weeks ago I got another call. This time the woman was more insistent and questioned why I didn't have a forwarding number, I explained I didn't know who this person was, that I had found out from colleagues it was an ex-employee. She grudgingly said goodbye. On Friday the same woman called again. When I explained that Leonard no longer worked there she asked for a forwarding number, I said I didn't have one. She was sceptical...
Annoying Woman - "What? No-one there is in contact with him?"
Me - "No, hardly anyone here even remebers him it's been so long since he worked here."
AW - "I spoke to Leonard on this number in January."
Me - "I'm sorry, you didn't. I've had this number since September last year. "
AW - "Well who did I speak to then?"
Me - "Probably me."
AW (stridently) - "I can prove I spoke to Leonard on this number in January."
Me - "I'm sorry, you didn't. Leonard has not worked for us for at least 2 years. If you called this number January you would have spoken to me or one of my colleagues, and we would have told you that he no longer works here and hasn't for some time."
AW (getting annoyed) - "I spoke to Leonard on this number in January, I can prove it."
Me - "Look, I don't know what number you dialled when you spoke to Leonard, but it wasn't this number, I have had this number for the last 5 months, and I'm sick of getting these calls."
AW - "There's nothing I can do about it."
Me - "Leonard no longer works here, goodbye."
End of call.

2 hours later, phone rings...
Bloke - "Can I speak to Leonard Crabtree please?"
Me - "Can I speak to your supervisor or manager please?"
bloke (worriedly) - "Erm, is there a problem?"
Me - "Look, I keep getting calls for Leonard, and he doesn't work here anymore and I'm sick of getting these calls. I know this isn't something you can deal with so I'd like to speak to a manager."
Bloke (relieved) - "Oh right, I'll put you through."
And he did, and I explained to the shift supervisor that I didn't appreciate the implication I was a liar when I told callers that Leonard no longer works here and I wanted the calls to stop. He promised to block the number and I won't receive any more calls. We'll see.


PS, I blame Cas for the post title, and the influence of Chris Tarrant

Monday, January 23, 2006

Just call me Little Miss Fix-It

The dodgy link in the sidebar with the Deity of the Day linked to the Weather Pixie has been fixed Congratulations to JB for spotting that deliberate error. Ahem (*coughs*).

Sunday, January 22, 2006

Thank you kindly

Occasionally I have commented on the fun that is Racing Frogs. My frog, Geoff God of Frogs, retired last week. I decided to let him have one last go at the Superfrog race today (where he came 997th, out of about 24000, his best result ever), which meant I couldn't start a new frog until Geoff had completely retired. I wasn't sure if I really wanted to start a new frog. Geoff was fun, but I didn't really do a lot of with him, I got him a personal trainer so that I didn't have to remember to train him every day, I didn't buy him many things. But I did enjoy getting an email from him every morning, letting me know how he'd done in the previous night's race, telling me about the girl the liked who worked at the frogjuice factory, about the nasty yellow jumper his gran knitted him. I've missed that this week. So today, I officially retired Geoff God of Frogs and started a new frog - Son of Geoff. I'm looking forward to his first race.

Sunday, January 15, 2006

In ancient times, hundreds of years before the dawn of history...

I won’t bore you with all the details from the Canadian invasion, suffice to say we had fun. But there is one thing I have to mention. As I had two guests to entertain I hired a car for a day to show them a bit of the local countryside. We went to see Stonehenge as none of us had been there before. Cas had already advised me not to pay the extortionate £5.50 entry fee, as you can see just as well from the road (though that will change if English Heritage get their way and put the road in a tunnel!). Firstly, we were stuck in a traffic jam on the A303. We were just sat there, waiting for the traffic to move on when Marty said, “Is that it over there?” [or words to that effect, my memory’s not that good okay?! It was 2 weeks ago after all.] Now, I had assumed that a giant momument such as Stonehenge would be visible for miles and miles, but it just pops up out of nowhere when you’re really close to it. As we got closer however I decided that it couldn’t be Stonehenge, it must be one of the smaller stone circles that litter this part of the country. So I drove straight past it… straight past the sign that said ‘Stonehenge – parking’. It's tiny. Okay, okay, it's not tiny, the stones moust be about 12ft tall, but I was expecting HUGE.



One more reason not to fly Aeroflot.

Pocket picked the cheapest flight from Japan to the UK, which was Aeroflot. Not an unreasonable thing to do, but as she laughed at me for even thinking about it when I looked at flights to Japan, I now laugh at her for actually doing it. Aeroflot fly Tokyo to London (and vice versa) on a daily basis, via Moscow. We’ll gloss over the 20 hour overnight stopover in Moscow airport on the return journey because the London flight doesn’t arrive in Moscow until after the Tokyo flight as left. The real reason not to fly Aeroflot is their stupid baggage rules. When Pocket flew from Tokyo to London she was allowed up to 32 kilos for her suitcase, plus hand luggage. On the way back they told her she only had 20 kilos – total. Meaning £132 is excess liggage charges. Their response when told that it had been okay on the flight over was a shrug and “Different airports have different rule.” Cue frantic sorting out of clothes, chocolate, books, and any other items that could be left behind for me to post back to her. Despite all the fuss they made the first time around, and refusals to listen to sense, when she returned to the check-in desk with lighter, though still considerably overweight bags they didn’t charge her. Those crazy Russians.

Le singe est sur la branche

It seems like only yesterday we were partying like it was 1999, and yet it’s 2006 already. Happy New Year. Okay, so I’m a bit behind, but I was busy entertaining Canadians, and then I had to tidy up (after myself, the Canadians were extraordinarily tidy).

I am once again gainfully employed… almost. I have a verbal job offer, I’m just waiting for the formal letter. Much as I adore being a student (sleeping in late, checking my email for a couple of hours, doing a bit of reading, going to the pub for afternoon beer), I’ve finally had to face the reality that my landlord wants rent, the utilities companies want me to pay for using their products, and my ISP won’t let me check my emails for 2 seconds without paying them too. Salary wise I’m a whopping 60p a week better off then when I was temping! Lucky me. I’m already being booked on training courses and I haven’t even had the formal offer yet! Also in the work arena, a colleague is using some recommendations I made about a company wide scheme we’re working on. Now all I have to do is translate my sucessful vibes over to my research.

I’m not someone who remembers their dreams usually, but since Christmas I’ve had vivid dreams nearly ever night. These include having to choose between Mark Ruffalo and Leonardo DiCaprio; an eye test which involved walking around outside with a blindfold on, and a small dog; taking my younger sister [I don’t actually have a sister] to see our mum off on the ferry, and falling into the water at the docks just behind Asda [Asda is actually about ½ mile from the water]; going to see a house that turned out to be a bit of a TARDIS -from the outside it was just a small holiday cottage, but inside it was 3 levels and really roomy; and being involved in an elaborate plot to fake a shooting (the person being ‘shot’ was involved in the plan too).

In case you were wondering, I chose Mark Ruffalo. No contest really.

Thursday, January 05, 2006

The missing link...

I wrote this just before Christmas, but didn't get a chance to post it. It doesn't really make sense any more, but I wrote it so I'm posting it.

Twas the night before Christmas and all through the house nothing was stirring… except the fat bearded man, obviously.

As this is my last post before Christmas, I would like to wish everyone Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year (for non-Christian readers insert a seasonal celebration of your choice here).

We had an interesting discussion this week at work about Christmas traditions and where they came from. As you probably know, most of the British traditions were imported from Germany in Victorians times, thanks to Prince Albert. We discovered, however, that the tradition of kissing under the mistletoe goes back quite a bit further though, to the ancient Greeks. Apparently, it’s a symbol of peace and prosperity. When brought to a battelfied enemies would throw down their arms (and by that I mean weapons, as throwing down your actual arms would be quite difficult… and more than a little messy). So when Auntie Vera and Uncle Ken are fighting over the last mince pie just hand them both a sprig of mistletoe and calm will resume… possibly.

I’m being invaded by Canadians this Christmas and New Year [and not many countries can say that, as my supervisor said]. On Christmas Eve Pa and myself are heading down to Heathrow to pick up Pocket, who for some inexplicable reasaon has decided not to go home to Canada to see her family for Christmas, but instead is spending it with my family. Personally I think she’s crazy, but then, she hasn’t met my family.

Canadian number 2 is arriving at Meadow Towers on 29th (just after Pocket and I have escaped the parental home) for New Year fun and frolics… assuming I can be bothered to plan any. So far it consists of a trip to Stonehenge. Interesting for a short while, but really, how long can you look at a pile of rocks for?

I’ve decided to scare both of them by leaving copies of our local nuclear emergency plan around (we have a nuclear submarine berth in the port here). Just for fun.

In the news this week:
"Since deviant behaviour can be associated with the wearing of baseball caps we are politely asking people who enter our premises not to wear caps."

When Health and Safety goes to extremes.

I did check with Cas, but she assures me she hasn't been to the Isle of Wight for ages... And no H, it wasn't either me as you accused in your email!

Special thanks to JB for being the only person (bar Cas, who doesn’t count as she’s my flatmate and has to read it… it’s in our tenancy agreement… honest!) to leave comments on the blog recently. I realise I don’t post very often, and when I do they don’t make the most exciting reading, but I was beginning to think that no-one ever looked at them (I don’t have fancy user counters and other stalking tools like Cas does). So thanks JB for restoring my faith in the world of blog :)

Friday, December 23, 2005

Latest news from Geoff, God of Frogs

I really want to do well at the races. It is not enough to succeed. Others must fail.

Bye for now,

GEOFF GOD OF FROGS

Racing Frogs


Ah Geoff, you brighten my mornings.

Thursday, December 22, 2005

"If I could work my will...

...any idiot who goes around with a Merry Christmas on his lips would be cooked with his own turkey and bured with a stake of his heart."

Merry Christmas everyone! You thought I was in 'ba humbug' mood didn't you. Fooled ya! I have 1/2 a day of work left and I'm super-psyched. Back to the wilds of Worcestshire for Crimble.

Doesn't egor look festive?

I wrote a really nice, long post to be my last one before Christmas, only I forgot to send it to myself from work (where I wrote it cos I was really bored the other day). So this wil be the penultimate post before Christmas.

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

In a mad world only the mad are sane

I've been invited to Steve's leaving party. I don't actually know who Steve is, but I've been invited none the less.

This is the problem with my job, It comes with about 20 email lists, to which people send emails on an hourly basis. I have a feeling I will remain on these email lists until the end of time. And I don't even start the job until February.

Tuesday, November 29, 2005

oh bloody hell, it's the Christians again*

* before you get offended, I didn't say it I'm quoting someone else, and anyway, you had to be there.

I spent yesterday afternoon in London, and while I was there I found some time to write a post. However, I couldn't publish it because, well, I was in London. It came out as a sort of stream of conciousness thing, so it's a bit random at times. But you're big boys and girls, I'm sure you can handle it.

I am sat in the courtyard of the British Library pondering over a statue entitled 'Newton' After William Blake by Eduardo Paolozzi. It's... interesting... in a nice sort of way. I'm eating my lunch and killing time before my induction session at 2pm (it's now 1:15pm). M&S appear to have forgone the traditional open-at-the-front sandwich container in favour of an up-and-under method, which opens the packet backwards. I'm of the opinion that sandwich containers should not be this complicated.
I've been putting off coming to the BL for a year now, mostly because [and I'm finally ready to admit this] I'm imtimdated by it. This isn't some little local library with books on the floor because they've run out of shelf space, and little old ladies dropping in to pick up their Barbara Cartlands. It's the BRITISH LIBRARY! And now that I'm here I'm glad I had never seen the building before because it's even more intimidating than the idea of it. If I'd known I'd have to walk in here I wouldn't have come. I nearly ran away screaming, but the fact that I've had to take the day off work for this and will be working minimum 8 hour days the rest of the week to make up some of the hours stopped me short (writing that it occurs to me that 8 hours is a normal working day, but when it's dark when you leave and dark when you return it feels a lot longer).
So, I am now a proud owner of a shiny new BL Reader's Pass, with an awful photo on it - not that I ever take a good photo, but this is particularly bad. A rival even to my work pass, or possibly worse.
The BL man who registered my pass seemed very interested in my research topic when I first sat down at his desk. He then revealed that his first job after university was picking new targets in the Soviet Union for our Polaris missiles to hit. After that he moved into the strategic planning department (that's where they made plans for wiping out entire countries with as few bombs as possible, instead of just wiping out a town or two). And now he works for the BL. We had a nice little chat about it.
It's bloody cold out here today.
St Pancras station is one of the most beautiful buildings I have ever seen [it's right next door to the BL, so that wasn't a complete non sequitur]. In contrast, the building opposite it - Camden Town Hall - is one of the ugliset buildings in creation. It's like the architect decided he couldn't possibly compete and tried to outrage as many people as he could instead.
later...
I'm nervous. I'm waiting for my induction to start but I'm not sure I'm waiting in the right place. I'm outside the Rare Books reading room, which is the allegded meeting place - or is it inside the Rare Books reading room?? I don't know, and I've already asked the info desk once, they'll think I'm a simpleton, which I am of course, but I don't want them to know that. Okay, calm down, breathe, it's only 1:45pm, no need to panic... yet.
This atrium is so nice. Though a bit of a waste of space. Maybe it's a space for all the intellectual thoughts floating around to collect and mingle so that they don't get in anyone's way. Oh dear. I'm panic writing, desperately trying to keep myself occupied while I wait to find out that I'm waiting in the wrong place because I printed out the wrong email this morning while rushing to catch a bus that didn't turn up.
There's something shiny over there [ what am I? a magpie??], possibly made of cds. I'd get up and take a look but, meh. It's all the way over there and I'm all the way over here.
So many people wandering around purposefully - they know exactly what they're doing, where they're going - bastards.

I was waiting in the right place, in case you were wondering. I did my induction, and very helpful it was too. The BL is slightly less intimidating to me now, and I actually feel confident about using it. I had a wonder into the reading rooms after my induction, past the incredibly grumpy security staff. I know it can't be the most exciting job in the world to make sure people aren't snekaing out with books, but do they have to take it out on the readers? I did think of pointing out that my being there kept them in a job, so how about a bit of a smile, but decided that would probably lead to a swift ejection and possible life-time ban, so I didn't.

Monday, November 21, 2005

My morning smile...

Hi IPM,
Racing against other Grade 3 frogs at the moment, let's hope we're in Grade 4 soon.
I came 2nd at Muddy Bank.
I had the strangest dream last night. I dreamt that I wasn't real, just a bit of code and a few pixels in a virtual world. How strange.
PS. I have just found out - I've qualified for this weeks Superfrog race! I am so happy! I'll e-mail you after the race and tell you how I got on. Are you proud of me? Yeeehaaaa!
Bye for now,
GEOFF GOD OF FROGS

yes Geoff, I'm very proud of you.

Thursday, November 17, 2005

If you'll exuse me, I have some revenge to attend to.

This week I have been mostly... getting people into trouble. Yes, ladies and gentlemen, I'm a grass. I had a little run in with an extremely rude bus driver the other night, and I was so incensed I went straight to the company's website when I got home and filled in their feedback form to complain about her. Now, everyone has a bad day [I should know, I have enough of them], but this particularly driver never has a good day. The bus company I use prides itself on having polite, courteous drivers, and generally they are... except this one. A few weeks ago when Idaho Girl was visiting, we caught the bus the day she left to get to the coach station. IG was carrying a heavy suitcase, and stopped briefly after she got on to make sure I got on the bus okay with the heavy bag I was carrying. The driver shouted at IG to move her case out of the aisle before she'd even put it down! I thought about complaining then, but didn't get around to it. Then, the other night, the second incident happened. As I went to get off the bus by the back door, following a couple of other people, she closed the door on me. The bus was busy and noisy, so I rang the bell to gain her attention... and got shouted at for ringing the bell. She is consistently rude (it's not just me, honest, I heard some other people talking about her at the bus stop, saying how rude she was all the time as well), the bus is always late when she's driving, and she's always closing the back door too early. The following night I saw her do it again to someone else, and this time they actually got hit by the doors. Last night I got an email from the bus company, telling me the driver will be interviewed by senior management about this incident. Oooops. Oh well, she's only got herself to blame.

Sunday, November 13, 2005

Quote of the Day

"I feel sorry for Eowyn. She had to compete with an elf princess, who gives up immortality. That's even bigger than virginity." Cas, while watching The Two Towers.

C'est la vie, as the Romans say

It's a strange state of affairs when you have to de-star the bath after taking a long soak, but such was the case the other night. The LL, being back in Blighty, popped in to Meadow Towers for a short visit the other week, bringing Cas and myself bath bombs from Lush. Mine was called Jingle Bells, smelt divine, but contained lots of little confetti stars, hence the necessity for de-starring. The sad thing is, that's actually the most exciting thing that happened to me this week. I really need to get a life, but between work to pay the rent and work to write a PhD thesis I'm so tired I barely have the energy to write a short blog post. I still haven't caught up with all the trailers on Apple from the month I didn't have broadband.

Things I have discovered this week:
- I could never work in the Early Learning Centre; the nursery rhymes would drive me crazy within a day.
- You can adopt a book at the British Library (from now on to be known as the BL. If you were in Dr Goddard's seminars you would get the joke, but the rest of you won't, so just believe me when I say it's very funny). It's a great idea, but a little pricey. The minimum donation is £25, and that only gets you a share of a book, not even a whole one.
- The Swedish police have to deal with drunken elks attacking retirement homes.
- Trying to explain to someone who has no understanding of web sites that a professional web designer would not use MS Publisher is an impossible and thankless task.

The bizarre and the bizarro
- 30 second re-enactments, by bunnies (do I really need to say more?)
- Waxhoff, so disturbing I had to write about it so you can all share in my pain.
and finally,
- Pimp Costumes. Pocket's brother always said her white hat was a pimp hat, and here it is.

Sunday, November 06, 2005

The only thing between us and victory is defeat

If you've been perusing Bright Meadow recently, you will have seen her comments on Racing Frogz. I found this site a couple of weeks ago, but hadn't had a chance to blog about it, until now. My frog, Geoff God of Frogs, is a little bit older than Lara Croak, so he's in a different grade, but he's not doing too badly. He was winning his grade 2 races, but he's jumped up to grade 4 now so he's back at the back of the pack. I got a really sweet email from him this morning, after the Superfrog race (in which he came 8004th, well, it is the superfrog race).
" It was a fantastic race - you should have seen all the spectators and the noise... it was just so loud. You are such a great trainer and thanks for all the training! I'll try to win it next time."
Gotta love a frog that sends you nice emails.

Would you pass the British citizenship test? I didn't. The BBC have done a mock, and completely unofficial, citizenship test, based on the official book Life in the UK. I got 8 out of 14... well at least it's more than half right.

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

KA-BOOM!

I awoke on Sunday morning to sound of intermittant sirens. "Why, oh why, do the emergency services need to keep using their sirens at 7 o'clock on a Sunday morning?" I thought, there can't be any traffic to get through (yes, I was indeed awake at 7am on a Sunday, but really it was 8am).
Then I opened my blinds to see thick black smoke billowing into the air (it was so thick, black, and billowing I half expected to see a plane come through creating swirly patterns, like a Michael Bay film). This is why.

Thursday, October 27, 2005

What goes up must come down...

The building I work in is being refurbished. Specifically, at the moment they are redecorating the lobby on my floor. This means that for the next week or so I have to go up to the top floor and then walk down the fire escape stairs to get back to my floor. Even worse, the toilets on each floor are situated off the lobby. If I want the toilet, which on occasion I do, I have to go all the way to the end of my floor, up the fire escape stairs, all the way back along the top floor to pretty much the same place my desk is on the floor below, to get to the lobby on that floor. It took them 10 days to do the lobby on the top floor. Well, at least I'll get some exercise.

I have been neglecting you my dears, and I'm sorry. I'm just so gosh, darnit busy these days. Plus we only got the network up and running last week. Quite how we got it to work I don't know. I followed all the instructions, nothing happened. I went through it all again, nothing happened. I did it again - nothing. The next day I did it again - nothing; again-nothing; again - nothing; again - all working. No idea what I did differently. But it's working so, meh.

Em has made it over the pond for a visit. Well, actually it was over a lot of land, and then a stream more than a pond, but anyway, from out of the country. She brought me a pressie. A 12ft long pressie. Isn't it gorgeous? And just what we needed in our bland magnolia flat. It's certainly brightened up the living room here at Meadow Towers, and made it feel like more of a home. It's certainly one way to make a personal mark on a place!

Thursday, October 13, 2005

Are you suggesting coconuts migrate?

Everyone is sulking with me. My 'puter is sulking with me because I took away it's nice shiny E1 LAN connection. The TVG is sulking with me because he thinks his name sounds like a train, and because I haven't given him recognition for getting the name of the kids programme right [Wizbit]. Despite the fact that if he'd read the comments he would know that H got it right before him, and he didn't give me the name of the rock, paper, scissors game.

However, I shall endeavour to ignore all that because it's my birthday and I can do whatever like. Which is why I'm now off to make more Cosmopolitans.

Saturday, October 08, 2005

Colourblind hedgehogs... in a bag

Did no-one notice that I didn't post the picture of the tree as I said I had? Or is it just that nobody cared?
Well tough. Here it is anyway.

Yes, this really is in our living room.

Sunday, October 02, 2005

If a cluttered desk is the sign of a cluttered mind, what is the significane of a clean desk?

It’s been another busy week. Attempting to unpack - how did Cas do it in 1 day?? I know I’ve got more ‘stuff’ than she does [I like ‘stuff’, ‘stuff is good], but it’s a week later and I’m still not finished – buying all the little bits and pieces that make life easier, like a microwave, and determining who is going to do which chore. Not having broadband and not being able to use the internet too much at work has curtailied my finding of interesting stories for this week’s blog, however, I did pick up a couple of things from today’s Observer. It was the print copy though, so no nifty links.
The Tory Leadership contest.
“[Malcolm Rifkind’s] conference speech is expected to stress the Tory tradition of helping the less well-off.” Huh? Since when have the Tories helped the less well-off? Unless by that they mean people with only 5 acres of land instead of 50.
Scary Statistic of the week.
“1 adult American in five believes that the Sun revolves around the Earth, according to one study carried out last summer.” Words do not even begin to describe.

I’ve had several queries about what the flat is like, so rather than reply to you all individually, I’m just going to blog about it. Yeah, I am lazy. I’m also on dial-up, which I know many people are and are quite happy with it, however the combination of dial-up, email, and my computer just doesn’t seem to work.
Anyway, the flat. You enter into a hallway. On the left is the main bathroom (with bath and shower). At the end of the hallway are 4 doors. Door 1, on the right, is the living room / kitchen. It’s a large, airy room with a spacious kitchen at one end and a tree at the other (picture below). Door 2, straight ahead, is Cas’s room. Door 3, next to Cas’s room, is the boiler. And door 4, to the left, is my room. A tense game of rock, paper, scissors determined who got which room*. Though they are both double bedrooms, mine is bigger, and has an ensuite bathroom. On the other hand, Cas has a bath in her bathroom, and I have a tiny little shower that’s just about big enough for me. Still 2 bathrooms between 2 of us isn’t bad (okay, temporarily 3 of us if you include the CC).
Yes, we have a tree in the living room. Or to be more accurate, a green plastic pot, surrounding a green metal pole, with fake ivy (as described in the inventory). This begs the question, why? Answers on a postcard to the usual address.

*A plea for my sanity…
Back in the 80s there was a British kids tv show which had the rock, paper, scissors game in it, only they had a particular name for it. I can’t remember what that name was. Nor the name of the show. It was probably on the BBC, was something to do with magic, and was set in a mythical land that had city walls and a gatekeeper (a black woman, who was also in several other kids shows at that time, and no, it wasn’t Floella Benjamin.) Anyone got any ideas? We did do a quick search, but dial-up isn’t really suited for protracted googling.

A 1, 372 word post about moving house

Though it will be some time before I can hear the words ‘letting agency’ without crying, I do now feel calm enough to blog about my recent experiences with the property market. The contract for the flat that both Cas and I previously lived in ran out on 23rd September. We knew this was going to happen. Had known since we signed the original contract last October. Many moons ago, during a pleasant Sunday afternoon walk through the Common, Cas raised the subject of living arrangements for the new academic year. Did I want to share a place with her? After much deliberation (at least 30 seconds) I replied, “Yeah, alright.” That sorted, we both felt happier knowing that we had at least one flatmate. Some people love living on their own. Neither Cas nor I are one of those people.

After the Lovely Latvian made tentative plans to stay on to start her PhD here we included her in the plan, and around May we started thinking about looking for a place. In June we got as far as identifying potential letting agencies. In July we actually went in to a few of them, but as we couldn’t say whether we needed a 2 or 3 bedroom place they couldn’t really help us much. They also weren’t interested in people who wanted to move in 2 months time.

At the beginning of August we had the unfortunate news that the evil funding board disliked the LL almost as much as they disliked me, and had cruelly denied her funding, so Cas and I started looking for a 2 bedroom place. We went into every agency we could find, and what a phenomenally dispiriting process that was. We heard the same thing from every agency – “Can you move earlier than mid-September? No? Well, everything we have is available now, but we’ll take your details and keep you informed.” Yeah. Right.

By the end of August we were starting to get a little nervous. We finally worked out that the only way to see any properties was to simply make viewing appointments without telling the agency when we wanted to move. With the help of Right Move we found properties we liked the look of and phoned up. Or Cas phoned up I should say as I started a new temping job that week that’s full time. And then we hit a new problem – we couldn’t get in to see the places quickly enough. The agencies were so busy they couldn’t give us an appointment for 3 or 4 days, by which time the property in question had already gone.

The places we did get to see were the places no-one else wanted. We saw one place that hadn’t even been cleaned. We knew it wasn’t going to be great because it was very cheap, but we were getting desperate and couldn’t afford to be as picky as we wanted to. The previous tenants had obviously been smokers, judging by the smell that hit you as you walked through the door. In the first bedroom there were a load of cigarette butts left in the drawers. The second bedroom had various household items dumped in there (broken light bulbs, etc.). It was also so narrow that you could stand in the middle and touch both walls. Hardly suitable for 2 mature (one slightly more mature than the other, though which one of us that is is debatable) students. The living room with its dilapidated sofa and half-full ashtray on the coffee table put the final nail in the coffin. The agent offered a half-hearted, “Well, we need to clear a few things out before it’s ready for someone to move in.” We said thank you, and goodbye.

On the Saturday just 2 weeks before we had to move we thought we’d found the place for us. The viewing didn’t start very promisingly when the agent was 20 minutes late and didn’t bother to acknowledge this in any way, let alone apologise. But all that was forgotten after we walked in. It was a 2 bedroom house, with a small, paved over garden out back. We immediately liked the idea of an outdoor area, and of the space a house provided compared to the flats we had previously seen. The agent wasn’t sure if the landlord would take post-graduate students though, and suggested we wait for her to check before we put down our non-refundable deposit. She said she would check that day and we went home happy. Having not heard from her as she promised, Cas phoned the agency to be told she had left for the day, and she hadn’t been able to get hold of the landlord, but, “Don’t worry, we’ll speak to him on Monday.”

We decided we should keep looking, just in case, and that’s when we finally got lucky. On the Sunday a new place popped up on Right Move: 2 bedrooms, in a perfect spot for groceries, getting to work, getting to uni, and all the other things we need to do. Cas phoned first thing Monday morning, but the earliest viewing was 11:45am on Tuesday. We both went and immediately liked the place, but it was only part furnished, and we would have to spend a lot of money we didn’t have on basics – like beds. A quick phone call to the first agency about the house led to disappointment when they told us the landlord wouldn’t accept students (I have my doubts as to whether they actually spoke to him or just got fed up of us phoning). So we phoned the second agency about the place we’d just seen who told us to come in and pick up the application forms.

*A brief rant about buses.*
We were a couple of hundred metres from the bus stop when the bus arrived. We ran for it, and Cas made it (she’s a much better sprinter than me) but I’d just got to the doors when the driver closed them. “I’ll wait for you round the corner,” he shouted to me through the closed door. To be fair, he was not only holding up traffic, but was also running late (though this is entirely usual on this particular route). I ran about 500 metres, crossed 2 busy roads, and made it to the bus, just in time for the driver to close the doors and pull off, the [many expletives deleted]. Fair enough, I’d missed the bus, and they can’t be expected to wait for everyone. But why tell me he was going to wait at the next stop when he had no [expletive deleted] intention of doing so? That’s just cruel and unusual punishment, the [many, many, many - Ooo, does your mother know you say things like that? - expletives deleted].


Every agency we had been into had told us that when you apply for a place the first thing you do is put down a deposit, then you have about a week to get all the application forms back to them. This was good. Both of us needed a guarantor and our guarantors do not live in the area. This particular agency doesn’t do that. They won’t take a deposit until you bring the paperwork back, fully completed. This was bad. No deposit means the property is still on the market, which means someone else, someone who didn’t need a guarantor and could fill in all the paperwork right there and then, could nip in and get the place. We were particularly panicked because we knew someone else was viewing the property that afternoon. Fortunately for us, they were a no show. Cas took in our forms the next morning, and explained that we couldn’t get the guarantor’s forms signed until the end of the week. They reluctantly accepted our deposit (honestly, we were trying to give them non-refundable money, what was their problem?), and took the property off the market.

We had a nervous week’s wait then for them to conduct all their credit checks, before Cas got a call the following Wednesday to confirm we had the flat. We made it with 2 days to spare. I am never moving again.