Thursday, 24 December 2009

2009

On the fifth December 2008 I set myself some targets. Some unlikely targets, yes, but, some targets all the same. Some, inevitably, I failed at (story of my life). But some were achieved rather successfully. I managed to prostitute myself online reasonably well, using twitter and facebook as a suitable medium. Whoa, you think, I thought this was a family-friendly, happy-go-lucky type of blog. When I say 'prostitute' I mean shamelessly advertise my blog(s). Another of my targets I overshot by a long way. I aimed to have written 52 blog posts during 2009. This, my friend (or casual acquaintance, or even complete stranger), this is my 103rd post of 2009. If I write one more by next Thursday, I will have double the amount that I wished for. In 2009 I have:
and I have shared it with the world. Needless to say, 2009 was quite a busy year. In 2009, a total 126 comments have been written on blog (I counted them, oh yes) as I shared my bin-day dramas with you all. For this I thank you. Perhaps you are thinking, "he's done it, he's written 103 posts. Surely he'll give up. Please, let it be so."

Oh no my friend, oh no. You can't escape my inane drivel that easily (actually, it's a lot simpler than you think. Just don't read it). But I'm going to set myself some more targets. I have a few ideas up my sleaves (as well as flour, I've just been making pastry for mince pies), which shall be announced first thing on 1st January 2010. Forget counting down and singing Auld Laug Syne, you will be hovering over your computers to see what I have in store for 2010. Yeh, I bet.

Merry Christmas, folks.

Saturday, 19 December 2009

O Christmas Tree

Today I have put up my (almost) carbon neutral Christmas Tree. How come it's carbon neutral? you might ask. Well, I reply, it only travelled the distance of a few metres to my house. It was a baby tree that we bought about ten years ago, and now it's one big Christmas tree. It may not be the most perfectly formed tree ever, it may be a bit crooked. But I love it.

It's also better for the environment because after we've finished with it (assuming it doesn't die), it'll just go back where it came from and we'll dig it up again next year.

As quaint and nice as it sounds, it was a bit of an effort to get it there. First of all was the digging it up. This involved, digging, pulling and sawing. Then there was the potting of it. We went to the garden centre, bought a pot and came back to find the pot was too small. So we dashed back to the garden centre and bought another one. Unfortunately, that means there was an unnecessary amount of carbon emission in those trips to the garden centre. We also bought a bag of compost, which had frozen into tombstone. But after a lot of decorating and subsequent cleaning we now have a pretty Christmas Tree.

Friday, 18 December 2009

Conversations with my blog...

I sometimes like to imagine I can have conversations with my blog. I'm a bit strange like that. If it stops us being friends, then I'm sorry. If my blog could speak I think the conversation would go like this:

Blog: All by myse-e-elf. Don't wanna be, all by myseeeeeelf, anymoooooore.
Me: Hello, blog.
Blog: Oh, look what the cat dragged in.
Me: Someone's in a mood.
Blog: Really, I wonder why that would be. Perhaps because I've not heard hide or hair of you for months.
Me: One month. Don't exaggerate.
Blog: One month, fifteen days.
Me: You've been counting?
Blog: Well, I've had nothing better to do. The only company I've had is A.L.I.C.E. and she's plain odd.
Me: Oh.
Blog: Well, what you been up to? NaNoWriMo?
Me: No, I gave up in the second week.
Blog: Sounds familiar.
Me: What do you mean?
Blog: Well, it's obvious you have commitment issues.

Okay, you get the picture. Reading back, it sounds like something out of really bad American 1980s day time television. I think it works best if you give my blog a New York-Jewish accent.

In other news
It is the Christmas Holidays! I have survived my first full half-term at Totton College, as well as my first staff Christmas Meal. Lots of wine was consumed, a lot of crackers pulled, a lot of inappropriate comments made. At the moment I have SSB (Seasonal Silly Brain), which is characterised by a loss in processing skills and fine and gross motor skills, weight gain and lethargy, but also a warm fuzzy feeling. That sounds a bit like I'm drunk. I never blog drunk ("Well, that explains a lot!" my blog exclaims).

Have a Merry Christmas!

Tuesday, 3 November 2009

Restart

I've decided to restart my NaNoWriMo story. It's gutting in terms of wordcount but in terms of where I can go with it, it has more potential. My first story was just a run-of-the-mill, set in modern time novel. The new one is fantasy. Although a part of me feels like I'm selling out, fantasy has a lot more flexibility as you can write by your on rules. And let's face it, it's probably never going to be published anyway.

However, today I've made a lot of progress. I hope to go to bed at midnight, so I'm going to get a hot chocolate, and hopefully write another 1000 words. If I keep up at this rate, I'll soon be back on track. Sorry if I've made mistakes, NaNoWriMo doesn't allow for editting, and moreover, my eyes are actually aching.

Word count today: 2055 (in just over an hour!)
Word count so far: 2055
How many words I'm behind by: 2946

Sunday, 1 November 2009

It has begun

It is currently 2:30 in the morning. I awoke at 1 am and have typed furiously, well quite quickly, for the last one and a half hours. I have reached 1696 words of my 50000 word target. That is thirty words over the daily target. However, that doesn't mean I shall rest on my laurels. I am going to try and cushion myself for the busy week ahead.

It has to be said, though, it is pure drivel. It is a good job that it isn't NobPriWinBoWriMo (which is obviously Nobel Prize Winning Book Writing Month) because I would so be on the fail now.

One brilliant resource, for those NaNoWriMoers out there is Write or Die. What you do is set how many words you want to write, let's say 500 in 15 minutes, and then type until you've reached this point. If you stop typing for any length of time bad things happen to you and your family. Well, no, the screen goes red and if you have it on Kamikaze mode, your work will disappear.

So this is it.
Written today: 1696
Written so far: 1696

Monday, 26 October 2009

This little piggy went to the New Forest...

Today I went on a search for piggies, armed with my camera. So I walked deep into the dark, terrible woods in order to find the odd Tamworth or old spot. I got to Bartley Water, a river that runs to Eling. If that means anything to you, hurrah. If not, Wikipedia it. I got to the river, and low and behold there was a pig. However, it was on the other side. So I ran to the riverbank, found a place to cross. If you had seen me, I think you'd be impressed. I climbed onto a forked tree over the river (which, is a raging torrent, I may add) and swung myself onto the other bank. By that time however, the pig had disappeared. I thought I saw it going deeper into the forest away from the river. However, I couldn't find it. I thought, well it must be around here somewhere, because it'll be eating the acorns. I hazarded a look skywards to discover that all the trees around me were beech. Rats, I thought. So I found some oaks and sat on a fallen tree and waited. About five minutes the group I saw yesterday emerged. However, I didn't get close enough to get good photos, and the forest was too dark for my camera. Especially as the flash startled the really big grumpy one. So I decided that it was a lost cause.

If you click it you may make out the Tamworth and Gloucestershire Old Spot.

Now, I had to recross the torrent. Okay, it's hardly that, I admit. So I found a place where there was a bank of shingle. I threw my bag across and then realised, that it was actually quite a jump. Like six feet. So I decided to wade in. I took my shoes and socks off and rolled up my jeans. I was about to slip delicately into the water when my trainer rolled off the bank and into the water. So what was to be a graceful slide became a bit of a scramble down into the stream.

After all that and no decent photos. Well, I did see two piggies afterwards. It was getting a bit dark so they weren't that good either. I'm sorry to disappoint but I don't know what breed they are. Perhaps a British Lop.



I've also created my NaNoWriMo kit. It has 30 gel pens, 1200 post-it notes, a bouncy ball, a bag of skittles, a bag of lollipops, notepad, modelling clay, a muesli bar, a rubber, pencils, a pencil sharpener, mini crayons, a pair of headphones, ProPlus and Anadin Extra.

Sunday, 25 October 2009

New Forest

Autumn is here and it's time like these when I really fall in love with the New Forest. It's not just because the leaves have turned golden and orange. During autumn you really appreciate that the New Forest is indeed an ancient woodland. The air is filled with the smell of wood smoke, the forest becomes misty, the ground is littered with mushrooms and the pigs are turned out for pannage.


Pannage, for those not in the know, is when pigs are allowed out on the forest to eat acorns, that are poisonous to horse and cattle. Pannage pork is a delicacy, and is darker than normal pork, sometimes nearly black. Today on a walk my mum and I saw a Tamworth, a couple of Gloucester Old Spots, Saddlebacks and possibly a Large White. There is one Saddleback that goes around with her litter of about 8 or 9. They are really cute, although the mum has a bit of a temper.

We've also been forest foraging. We've picked crab apples to make crab apple jelly (it was on that adventure when mummy pig showed her temper, or she just wanted my apples). We've also picked some rosehips for apple and rosehip jelly. I have to say, the crab apple jelly was delicious, the rosehip one was a bit too sweet.

I think I need to go out with my camera and take some photos. I'm thinking of volunteering for the Forestry Commission, once I've got settled into my job.

Saturday, 24 October 2009

NaNoWriMo

I'm afraid. Very afraid. I'm a NaNoWriMo participant this year. What's nanowima? you ask. No, Na-No-Wri-Mo. Get it right. It stands for National Novel Writing Month. Well, it's more international novel writing month, but misnomers make the world go round. The idea is to write 50,000 words in one month. Yes, that's a lot. That's like 1,700 a day. That's like 1.16 words a minute. Or one word every 51.8 seconds. Okay, put like that it doesn't sound a lot.

I hope the paragraph of short simple sentences give a sense of my anxiety, otherwise it's probably just irritating. I feel unprepared. I feel like I should have a storyboard, drawings, maps, collages, notes pouring from every orifice. But I have nothing. However, I'm going to create a NaNoWriMo kit. It will have:
  • A notebook
  • A variety of pens.
  • Tic tacs.
  • ProPlus
  • Music (I'll compiling a mental-in-both-sense-of-the-word list of different music. Feel good music for the happy scenes, some heart wrenching ones and some poignant. I'm feeling 60s at the moment, so there'll be a lot of that on there)
  • A shot gun with a single bullet for those desperate moments
  • LSD  so I can trip the light fantastic (for same moments as above)
  • Chocolate.
  • Snack a Jacks. As I won't be sleeping much I'll be constantly hungry so need to watch my weight. Snack a Jack never have me coming back for more. Yuck.
  • Post-it notes. Shaped like pandas
  • Some sort of stress toy. Shaped like a panda.
  • A pencil sharpener/post-it shredder, shaped like a panda.
That's the extent to my NaNoWriMo kit at the moment. If you have any suggestions you have one week. Remember it starts on the 1st November. If you want more info go to nanowrimo.org.

Sunday, 18 October 2009

Left Holding the Baby

Today someone handed me their child. It was a small child, also refered to, so I'm led to believe, as a baby. What went through my mind was, "Okay, I can do this, it'll only be for a minute or so." Ten minutes these reckless parents intrusted their child's life to my hands. Ten minutes. My thoughts quickly progressed to, "babies die. Babies die at the hands of incompetent people. I am an incompetent person." Seriously, don't trust me with your child. He was quite cute though and did the whole gripping of the finger and gurgled at me.



Next month, two weeks today is November, and November is NaNoWriMo. What's that? It's National Novel Writing Month. The aim is to write a 50,000 word novel between 1st-30th November. It doesn't have to be good, or well written it just has to exist. So I'm preparing for that. I'm going to set up my desk as a NaNoWriMo corner and have a stash of sweets, proplus, notebooks, and my laptop. I'll keep you updated on how I do.

Wednesday, 14 October 2009

Shadows

For those that don't know, or do but want more information, I have a new job. "What?" you cry, "Were you so abysmal as a youth worker that after three months they fired you?" No, people. It'd be nice if you thought better of me, but there we go. For those who didn't even know that I was a youth worker: where have you been? Go to my other blog for more information about that. Well, I now have two jobs. I am a part-time youth worker, a part-time Learning Support Assistant. I work in a local sixth-form college, working with kids with learning difficulties. The amount of different learning difficulties I will come across is amazing, they range from the 'dys-' conditions (dyslexia, dyspraxia, dyscalculia), autism, ADHD, Prader-Willi and loads of others.

Unfortunately, until my CRB (which I personally think should be said as one sound, like 'crib') check comes through I have to shadow the other LSAs. But they're really good at what they do, so that's not too bad. I did a LADS test (Lucid Adult Dyslexia Screening) today, as that's something that the student's will have to do to see if they have dyslexia. My working memory is okay, with a few problems, but my reasoning ability was pretty much off the scale, in a good way. So my risk for dyslexia was low. This job is really going to be an education, not just because I am working in challenging situations, but also because I have to go into a variety of subjects to take notes and help individuals. I've learnt stages of social development in infants, what makes good communication, and the eight challenges posed by cold environments (relief; climate; unstable ground due to solifluction and active layer; natural hazards; poverty; economic vulnerability; peripherality and low electoral importance). I feel smarter already.

Reading: The Good Terrorist by Doris Lessing (I was meant to read it for university but didn't)
Grateful for: Jam and cheese sandwiches.

Thursday, 8 October 2009

Grateful

Woah, over a month since I wrote anything. I hope that link in the sidebar that takes you to random posts kept you entertained. I don't think September is a month conducive to blogging. I mean, Rachel of dreamingofthecountry took a hiatus too.

I've been inspired by Today I Saw, which was a blog of note a few days back. I just love the way she chronicles the beautiful things in life. So I'm going to try (and probably fail miserably, like this idea, oh and this one, and how can we forget this?) and write things that I have been grateful for in my blog. So today these are the things I'm grateful for.

Old People
Today, I was walking past a school where construction has been taking place for a while back. It was quite a warm day, and an old man from the house next door had brought a tray of squash over for the builders. His wife was watching in the window. I think that this moment made my day.

Helium
I did a prayer thing where we taped prayers to helium balloons and let them go. It worked well. So for that I like helium.

Sweet Chilli Sauce
This save my dinner from being horrible, tasteless and dry to being hot, tangy, moist meal.

Tuesday, 1 September 2009

Yellow Mini and Me

LONDON, ENGLAND - MAY 17:  Mini enthusiasts ga...Image by Getty Images via Daylife

I feel like I should be writing something meaningful, but tough luck. I don't know whether I've mentioned it before, but our family (as in my father and me) has an obsession with a game called Yellow Mini. The rules are thus:
  1. If you see a yellow car you call "Yellow Car!"
  2. If you see a mini you, likewise, call "Mini!"
  3. If you see a yellow mini you yell "YELLOW MINI!"
There is a variant of the game where you punch someone once for each yellow car/mini and twice for each yellow mini, but we play the non-violent version. This game has become a problem. When I'm on my own I have to internally verbalise any call I have to make. It's bad when I'm muttering to myself "Mini, mini, yellow car, mini, yellow car...". It's when a hallowed yellow mini is spotted is when I'm in real trouble. "YELLOW MINI! Take that ether. With no sentient voice you're no match against me!" I cry. Then the worried stares from passersby alert me to my loneliness and the fact that yellow mini is not a game to play on your own.

One last thing...mini, mini, mini, mini, YELLOW MINI, mini, mini, mini, mini, mini...
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Wednesday, 26 August 2009

Interview

No, this isn't about a job. My old housemate Rose went away, and to make blogging about it easier I sent her some questions to answer. Read them, and the answers, here.

Look Left, Look Right

Look on the right, and you may notice something has changed. Seen it yet? You may have to scroll down a little. Yes, there. The box which says 'Go to a random post', with the words 'Take me there' in it? If you're feeling bored or adventurous, click the words 'Take me there'. Be careful, though. You might be taken to the deepest, darkest realms of The Week that Was.

I've put in on my other blog, but seeing as it has four posts (the statistics on my dashboard says five, but it lies) theres little point to it yet.

On the Zemanta toolbar thing that gives me pretty pictures and cool links to put in my blog, one of them said 'A young writer with too much to say'. Okay, I take the hint.

Monday, 24 August 2009

So Embarassed

I was on facebook and I looked on my links bar and to my horror I saw this:Yes, that's right. A video about Kevin Jonas had appeared in my links. How wrong. I do not condone the Jonas brothers, not matter how hott they are. Also, I'd like to add, my Firefox Personal was actually a funky robot thing, but somehow got reset to the o-so-girlie swirly butterflyesque 'Groovy Blue'. Please don't judge me.

What's a guy gotta do?

Carmen MirandaCarmen Miranda via last.fm

Sheesh kebab, people. What do I have to do to get you to comment on here? Dance around wearing nothing more than a fruit-festooned head piece and jock-strap singing 'I like you very much' alla Carmen Miranda? I've tried everything. Well, more just self-promotion via facebook. Yes, I am shameless. But not shameless enough to dance the samba concealed by nothing more than carefully placed fruit. So, just comment people.
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Sunday, 23 August 2009

It's been a while, crocodile

So, I went away, I came back and now I'm here. This week felt really odd, it was book-ended by crazy busyness, but in the middle it was a bit dull. So dull in fact, on Friday night the most exciting bit about my dream was Crunch Corner yogurts (Rose cries, 'what's wrong with that?'). But now the moment seems to have passed to write about my visit too Rachael's neck-of-the-woods. However, head over to her blog-she has blogged about some of it, including the tragic tale of Harry the Hedgehog.

Monday I got back and some friends that I haven't seen for ages were visiting. It was so nice to see them, and as usual, it was pretty crazy. The Hampton family brings chaos and destruction wherever they go. Kay, and the Hampton's friend Hanna injected some needed normality into the situation. It was quite a contrast from the quiet and peaceful Dabbs household to come back to them all talking at one another simultaneously.

Tuesday was another reunion with people I hadn't seen for ages. As an old school friend was getting married the old gang from Applemore met up for a meal. I was really, really nice. It was just so much fun. We need to it again, but Mrs Spenler (nee Davies) lives in Germany now.

Skip to Saturday, where Stephen and I met up with Ali. We went to Beaulieu and just chillaxed. Then we went to see Adam, a film about love between a neurologically typical and an Asperger's sufferer. It was okay, a bit light and perhaps didn't treat Aspergers with the grittiness it deserves. However, it was a light, fun portrayal of a syndrome that is not that much known. And Adam (the guy with Asperger's) was just really nice.

Today I went on a short walk with some of the people from my Church and then did some more chillaxing. Now I've updated you and I feel unburdened from the guilt of not valuing my loyal readership and hopefully free from my brother harassing me.

Thursday, 13 August 2009

Unfaithful Blogger

I need to tell you something, The Week that Was. You've been a faithful blog. And we've had our ups and downs. It's just that sometimes a man has needs that one blog can't fulfil alone. Yes, I've been writing another blog.

I have a second blog. It's about my youth-work experience. The highs, the lows... the lows. I'm quite excited about it.

My infidelity doesn't stop at writing a second blog. First, some point this week I'm to be a guest blogger on Dreaming of the Country (post already done and dusted, finally). Also, last evening I spent most my time sorting out Rachael's blog. Wow, doesn't it look pretty, who could have sorted out all that?

Wednesday, 29 July 2009

Power of prayer

As a Christian I try to incorporate my faith into every aspect of my life. I believe that God takes the priority over everything and that if he isn't a part of something in my life then that doesn't reflect that. However, the internet, especially facebook, has always been

brush drawing on blue primed paperImage via Wikipedia

an issue. However, I have found ways involving my faith and the web, and I've blogged about some of them. A big part of my very short list on websites that save the world and preoccupation with justice was to do with my faith.

Another thing I have done is request prayers via facebook. I've done it before, but on Monday I asked about 20 people to send me 3 prayer requests. The response has been encouraging, and this evening I had a list of about 25 things to pray for ('surely it should be a multiple of 3?' you ask. I had other things to pray for too). So that's really good. It's always good when you know that there are people out there praying for you, and it's good to return the favour. Also, whilst some people replied privately, others replied to the thread prompting the people on the list to pray for the others too. This meant that my friends in Germany are now praying for people they've never met in Aberystwyth, for instance. I think that's so cool.

I've got ideas for what I'm going to get people to pray for next week, and I really pray that it encourages others. So, on that note, if you want prayer, don't hesitate to ask.

Thursday, 23 July 2009

New starts

I have left Aberystwyth for good now. This is sad, and scary, and mostly sad. My last week was a joyous one, where I graduated, when on the steam train to Devil's Bridge, barn danced, and solved the case of the curious cadaver (more about that in another post, methinks). It was such a nice-and somewhat bizarre ending-to three years. This will possibly be the last post I write about Aberystwyth. I'm sure I've said that before.

This week I've started a new job. Slightly daunting and sort of slightly frustrating. I am now a part-time youth worker for a Church. However, seeing as its the school holidays, I probably wont get to see the youth very much. At least it will give me time to prepare. I'm also learning all the admin side of things, like the database (using this web-based software 'Fellowship One') and stuff. I just want to get on and do things with the youth. But, patience is a virtue, as they say.

I've been sorting out my stuff, that has arrived from Aberystwyth. Well, when I say 'sorting' I mean looking at it, despairing and then distracting myself by doing something else. I'm off to look, despair and distract.

Friday, 10 July 2009

Aberystwyth, again

Next week I'm graduating, so am returning to the sunny, hot, tropical climes of Aberystwyth. I'm actually nervous. It's weird, because I've never felt nervous about returning to Aberystwyth before. I'm just plagued by visions of having a mortar board two inches too big and a gown a foot too short, or vice versa (?). Someone told me about someone fainting at the top of the stairs, and subsequently falling down them.

So, what is new with me? Not much. I'm sort of in a strange limbo job wise. There is a possible job as a Youth Worker (part-time) in a job in Southampton. I just need to sign the contract, really. So, there we go.

On another note (well, actually, these are all very much related. Except, only I know the link between all these seemingly random nuggets of information)... So, where was I? Ah, yes, on another but linked note, I did an online personality tet. For the most part it was accurate. They highlight some key words to describe the person in question, and I appreciated being called 'pleasant, generous, diplomatic, courteous', but not so much 'emotional, self-promoting, unsure, dependent, conservative'. However, unfortunately. some aspects of it are true. Apparently, I set high-standards for myself, but often judge others by these. Also, it tell me 'in your desire to be viewed as an expert, you may frequently offer knowledge on different topics. This may give the impression that you know a little bit about everything'. That isn't true. A LOT about everything.

Monday, 6 July 2009

Communitas

I have sort of just initiated myself into the blogging community. I have just commented on someone's blog, and that person is not someone I know. I'm scared. It's not something I do. I never do that. I'm a blogger, but never a part of a blogging community. I stick to who I know, and observe from the outside. I'm a peripheral blogger. I read other people's blog, but I don't tell them. So, I'm a hypocrite too. If people just stumble across my blog, or something of the like, I want to know. However, if I do the same thing, I don't tell them. I think they have no interest in who I am or what I think.

So, if you've read this post then...comment. Just say 'hi'. Tell me if you know me, tell me if you don't. I just assume that 3 or 4 people read my blog, but it could be more. So if it is TELL ME! PLEASE! Okay.

And don't worry if you think 'He doesn't care' or whatever. I'm the same. So we are united through the sharing of a liminal experience. We're in communitas. If you didn't get this last paragraph, nor did I. Another thing we have in common.

Childhood Memory Meme

I was explaining to a complete stranger about my bizarre phobia. I have a phobia of people touching my wrists, backs of my hands and tops of my feet, but mainly wrists. I explained that the phobia probably arose when I was little and I had pneumonia. Telling him about it brought back loads of slide-show like memories of that episode of my life, and I'm going to tell them to you. I'm also inviting you to tell your own childhood memories.

When I was about five I crawled into my mum and dad's bed because I didn't feel well. I remember feeling these stabbing pains in my chest, arms and legs. I told my parents this and I was taken down to the living room. After a while a tall man in a dark coat arrived, took out his stethoscope and soon I found myself in hospital. I had an x-ray and I remember the room quite vividly. I think I had to stand against the wall to have it done and then, in what seems like the space of one slide passing to another, I was in a nurse's office. The nurse asked for my left-hand and took it behind my back. At this age I had a limited knowledge of amputations, possibly after reading about it in my Children's Encyclopedia or watching a TV programme about it. Having my hand removed from where I could see it led me to the only possible conclusion, it was being amputated. However, seconds later, the nurse said 'all done', and my hand was returned to me, just with something sticking into it.

Sleeping in hospital is a strange experience. There was the sounds of the nurses going up and down, children snoring, one crying, but there was the comforting sound of my mum's familiar heavy breathing. Within a few days I was fine and playing with all the other kids along the ward. I remember a motorised toy car that you could sit on, but I think that is just my mind playing tricks on me. My hospital stay was pretty much a happy one. Except for the injections. The needles were stuck into that thing the nurse had painlessly put into my hand. I hated them, I kicked and screamed, and screamed and kicked. The nurses tried to placate me, my mum tried to placate me, but I still struggled. They always won though.

My last memory of the ward was an empty room with beds, a wet floor sign and a lady with a mop. The next slide is that of being home in bed and looking down at my hand. The cotton ball had fallen off and I could see a small hole that the ball was meant to be concealing. That is the first time I had that wave of nausea that I get when someone touches the back of my hands or my wrists.

Friday, 3 July 2009

Degree

This evening has left me with such an empty feeling. I feel gutted. On Wednesday we got our degree results. I got a 2.1. I was okay with a 2.1 but had really wanted a first. We were just told what result we got, with no mark, nothing.

So, being curious, I wanted to see how close to being a First I actually was. I searched my emails for the student handbook, which we got sent to us at the beginning of the year. Here we got details of how our results were worked out using the cascade calculator system. Basically, our higher marks have a higher weight in determining our grade. I opened Excel, wrote in all the numbers and did all the sums. The result was really gutting. I got 69.5. That's 0.5 marks off of being a First-class student.

I emailed my head of year to see whether there was a procedure for such instances. It sort of makes me suspicious of why they don't put the mark up, just so students don't pester them about borderline degree results.

Monday, 22 June 2009

Curse of Corsica (Final Part)

So, for Thursday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday of my Corsica trip. Sorry it's taken so long, I haven't been busy, just lazy.

Thursday
This was another long walk. It was going to be a 'stroll' (like they all are) towards the river. We did that bit, which was relatively easy. We saw a nice Genovese bridge.
Then Stephen and I jumped in the ice-cold water as dare. I may not be having children after that. We decided to carry on as that bit was quite okay. And it wasn't that far. Which was true, as the crow flies. However, with the steep gradient and the fact that mountain paths zigzag, it was really far and really hot. Also, as we only anticipated a short walk we didn't have much water; so Stephen and I raced ahead and bought some and came back and gave it to the dying fogies. We then had to wait at Evisa, as our cars were still at where we started, so the Dads basically ran the walk we just did and then drove back. As the road was long and windy we had to wait a good two hours. I read a French magazine, snoozed in Evisa's town square and ate Milka.

Friday
Everyone bar the dads drove to the beach and they decided to walk it. They looked at the map and thought the path looked easy. Unfortunately for them, this path didn't actually exist. Typical Corsica. so we waited ages and then went on a boat ride. Cue pretty photos.
The lover's cave ('une grotte')

'une fenetre''une porte'. Thank Mr Ashmead for all pretty pictures.

We had a meal, (I had some salad thing I forgot, then wild boar then A creme brulee with Myrtle wine in it).

Saturday
Went sea kayaking, packed, had the last supper. Whilst we were sea kayaking, Stephen's new-found respect for the sea meant we couldn't go that far our (we were in a double kayak), which was fine with me. It was still nice.

Sunday
Early start, 4:15 French time (3:15 GMT +1). Three hour drive to Ajaccio, needless to say we were very tired. Had a meal at a pub which was really nice. End of holiday.

Thursday, 18 June 2009

The Merciless Straw Man

Don't you mean The Wicker Man? No, I have no compulsion to view that film let alone write about it. Though, alas, I have done so just there. No, the straw man is an often used rhetorical device which distracts away from an argument. An example could be:

Person 1: I think abortion is acceptable
Person 2: Think of all the dying children in Africa and how they don't deserve to die.

Okay, perhaps the least subtle example imaginable, but that is a straw man argument. I was reading a Times Article on Gordon Ramsay's misogynist outburst, and there was a rather ludicrous example of a straw man argument. The basic line of the article was that Ramsay was wrong for saying someone was a porcine lesbian but it was also symptomatic of a common misogynistic trend in all males. However, Patrick from Blackpool helpfully added:

When I left school in 1982 boys were hugely outperforming girls and it was deemed a problem. We then had 25 years of trying to raise their results - but tampering with the system. It was recognised that girls were conscientious with coursework. So coursework now takes priority. Any help for the boys

Thank you, Patrick from Blackpool. You want the TES, I'm afraid, and a question mark. If you were an example of the boys that 'were hugely outperforming girls', well, those girls had problems. I think I now understand why misogyny is still rife.


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Wednesday, 17 June 2009

Zemanta

Image representing Zemanta as depicted in Crun...Image via CrunchBase

Third time lucky, eh? Blogger Buzz suggested what seemed to be a really cool application for Firefox. And from what I've seen, everyone seems to enjoy it and think it's the bee's knees. The application is called Zemanta.

If you knew what it does (or meant to do) you'd probably think 'Why had no-one thought of this earlier. This is genius!'. Imagine this scenario, one that I frequently face. You are writing away and you think 'I need something to jazz this post up a bit.' Perhaps an image here, a link there. Then you think, I will have to trawl through Creative Commons sites (such as Wikipedia) to find the content I want. Then go through the hassle of inserting it, or highlighting the word, and copy and pasting the link. No more, my friends. Zemanta does this for you. I finds the stuff you want and then with just one click it inserts it.

That's the idea anyway. So far I've had limited success. First, the images only go on the right side of the text. Second, you can't preview when Zemanta is activated. Third, if you spell check with Zemanta stuff, everything goes crazy. I'm liking the italics today. Then you get scripting errors. And on my last attempt I managed to select and dump just about everything Zemanta had to offer, wanted or not, onto my blog. Some of this may be the fault of blogger. My dedicated readers (how snobby does that sound? Dedicated readers) will know of my love-hate relationship with blogger. Some of the fault may lie at my doorstep. It wasn't Zemanta's fault that I highlighted and dumped everything, it was doing what I told it to do.

So the jury is still out on Zemanta
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Tuesday, 16 June 2009

Curse of Corsica (part 2)

Today I have been tidying my room and sorting my junk out. If you do not throw away at least one bin liner of rubbish, you haven't done it properly. As a break I have decided to update my blog. So here is the eagerly awaited (by three people) second instalment of the Curse of Corsica trilogy.

Tuesday
Tuesday was one of two exceptionally long walks. There is an area of Corsica that is preserved, and can only be accessed by foot or boat (and presumably plane/helicopter in emergencies). So my dad thought it was a good idea to walk to a village in this reserve, and we did. The first part to a beach was fine, but the next bit was difficult. Bear in mind that the weather was HOT, and the terrain was up (at first). This was one of two routes, the one that went up and over the ridge, the other being along the cliffside. So we finally got to the village of Girolata and had paninis. This was the first attack of a rogue tomato.* Tomatoes in paninis are hot and slippery and well, they burn. So Kath was attacked by hers.

On the way back to the car we walked the coastal path owing to less up and down terrain. However, this way was even harder as the path was made of loose rocks and was bordered by a precipitous drop. My mother was wearing sandals, so didn't have the best grip on the terrain so she slipped. I heard a scream and through my mind went a scene like this (not that my mum would ever swing on a vine).

However, she just rolled down the path and emerged caked in dust and with two cuts to her elbow. We went home exhausted and had a barbecue.

Wednesday
As the rest of my family had had their incidents, it was turn for mine. I was somewhat anxious about it as Stephen, Sarah and I were due to go SCUBA diving and I had watched my brother nearly drown earlier in the week. So we went to the SCUBA school (or école plongée), and got changed. I never appreciated how difficult it was to get changed into wetsuits. Still, on reflection, I bet divers were glad when neoprene was invented.
So we went out on this boat to a rock on the Corsican coast and waited to go diving. As we were beginners we had 1-1 instruction, so had to wait our turn. Sarah went pretty much first, I was the last to go in. I was sitting in this boat in a full wetsuit (aptly known as a steamer) under the baking Mediterranean sun for about half an hour. I was getting more and more dehydrated and overheated and then it was my turn.

I went into the sea, donned my SCUBA gear and set off diving. The initial bit my ears really hurt as I hadn't quite mastered the equalisation process. We stuck close to the rock and being a beginner I had not quite mastered my decent and accent yet. To stop me plowing straight into the stone edifice of underwater Corsica I had to push of it with my hand, and I put it straight on an urchin. They looked a lot like this, but these are from the Caribbean.
The sudden shock with the stabbing pain coupled with the aforementioned dehydration resulted in nothing. Nill. Luckily it was only a minor scratch and it didn't even bleed. But the blood was to come later... It came for me to return to the boat, just as I was getting use to this diving malarkey. I surfaced and then suddenly my instructor's face looked worried. In broken English he asked 'Ears okay?'. At this point my wetsuit was covering my still waterlogged ears so I couldn't hear. I just signalled the internationally recognised okay sign and got onto the boat. As I was the last one out into the water I was the last one back and everyone was waiting for me. People were looking at me and Stephen asked, 'What happened?'. I was puzzled and slightly concerned at this point. 'Would someone tell me what was supposed to have happened?' I thought. I took my mask off, wiped my face and there was blood on my hands. Simply, I was having a nosebleed. Apparently it's quite common. So Wednesday was a day of firsts, SCUBA diving and my first ever nosebleed.

For Thursday to Sunday's adventures, see part 3. They're not quite as exciting, so will be abounding in pretty pictures. Everyone loves pretty pictures.

*See http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=36NgK-vJc1M

Monday, 15 June 2009

The Curse of Corsica

Yesterday I came back from a family holiday in Corsica. There were seven of us in total, as we were accompanied by the Elderkin family (consisting of two parents, Kath and John, and one of their daughters, Sarah). It was the second time I have been there, and, by my estimations, we managed to offend a local gypsy woman who cursed all our trips there. This was not to say that it wasn't an enjoyable trip. It was. However, there are always, to put it mildly, glitches. So here is a run down of my holiday.

Sunday
Sunday we arrived in Corsica after having got up at 3:15am, for a 6am flight. We left a wet and cold Gatwick and found ourselves in a hot and dry Ajaccio. We got our hire-car and drove for about an hour to a town called Sajone (like Saigon, but with an 'ah' not and 'ay' sound). We had some lunch and then went for a swim. Cue incident number one.

Stephen and I usually do not go out of our depths when in the sea, but this time the sea got deep and then there was a sandbank which caused it to get shallower. I didn't like being so far out so I turned around, and found it hard to get out. It was difficult to get anywhere, but I pushed on and got to the shore. Stephen, despite turning around just after me, was finding it a lot harder. So much so that he had to ask John for help. The waves were getting choppier and they both would disappear under a wave to reappear some seconds later. They were obviously struggling. My mum was getting hysterical, I was praying and we watched them slowly make their way forward. After about ten agonising minutes Stephen slumped onto the beach, completely white, and crawled up to where we had our stuff. It was scary.

We then drove to where we were staying, having to drive through Les Calanques. These are precipitous cliffs that fall into the sea, with huge coaches blocking the winding roads. They were stunning though. We got to our accommodation in a little village called Partinello (or Partinellu in Corse). It was a bit basic, and had no kettle or mugs. We were obviously in France.

Monday
This was a quiet day and we went to the nearest big town, Porto. It's a nice little port town with an old Genovese Tower.We went to the beach, playing volleyball, sunbathing and explored said tower. The glitch occurred a bit later when my dad fell through an old chair he was sitting on. It happened with a startling crunch and the sound of a shattering bowl and there was my dad surrounded by broken wood.

That's it for part one...stay tuned for the other two Ashmead incidents, mine involving Self-Contained Underwater Breathing Apparatus...

Thursday, 4 June 2009

Voting

Today I voted in the European election and also for my local election. I've now voted a grand total of two times, and put crosses (at least I hope I did) on four ballot papers. I'm a big boy. I hope that Gordon Brown calls a general election soon, so I can say I've done one of those too. It was a bit twee, because our whole family went down and voted together. I'm not going to disclose who I voted for, but I managed to create a facebook monster. I told my ex-housemate (oh, it is so sad to write that) Rose that I wasn't going to vote conservative (a more pleasant alternative was the cannibalisation of my hypothetical children, as I told her), leading to intense debate as to who I was going to vote for. Well, I say intense, I did get 10 notifications on facebook as to the debate. Which wasn't a debate, Rose surmised I had voted Labour and only one other person was involved. Whether she was right or wrong, again, it's none of your business.

I'm thinking of doing French A Level this year, as well as getting a job. It's not set in stone, but I'd love to learn it and it'll give me an incentive. I'll have plenty of opportunity to practice. Stephen, my twin, is practically fluent, my dad is really good, and I'm going to Corsica next week.

My laptop is being really slow. I need more virtual memory. So I'll think I'll give the poor thing and myself a rest. Bonne nuit.

Sunday, 31 May 2009

Don't do a Delia

I have cooked two batches of scones, both using a different recipe. I by far prefer the James Martin one on BBC Food to the Delia Smith one. I think it is a ploy to diminish the esteem of the nations amateur chefs, by giving them rubbish recipes. Then Delia (who I keep referring to as Delai, which is French for delay or extension, or something like that) will forever remain on her domestic pedestal. Great, now I sound like David Icke. Maybe Delia is actually a member of a reptilian alien race. That man scares me (Mr Icke, not Delia). He scares me a lot. BBC Food is a good site, by the way.

In the last few days I have painted and scrubbed clean our veranda. It looks as good as new. Well, the ancient wisteria that is creeping up it gives the game away.

This is my 96th post, therefore, not my next post, nor the one after that, nor the one after that, BUT the one after that will be my 100th post. That is scary. I hope I have something better to say than my usual drivel.

Wednesday, 27 May 2009

Boycott or Bust

I sometimes comment on my World Issues, and a few posts back I expressed a desire to make a blog dedicated to that. I'm getting on it. In the meantime I will tell you about two companies, who I have decided to boycott. Now it isn't easy, but I try my best.

Nestle
Why: It's the old Baby Formula story. Nestle promoted their baby-milk products over breast feeding in impoverished countries, resulting in a lot of infant deaths. Every body thinks Nestle has cleared up its act, but it hasn't. It still aggressively markets Baby Formula, resulting in more deaths in babies.
What: Nestle owns, or has shares in, a lot of labels. From the obvious Nescafe, to the less obvious Herta Frankferters. They own lots of bottled water companies, and if they don't Coca-Cola do. Full the full list, see here.

Coca-Cola
Why: They have an appalling human-rights record. This includes associations with the Nazis, or sponsoring the apartheid government in South Africa. However, this also has not stopped. There are cases of violence against Union workers, especially in Colombia, and has resulted in a dozen or so deaths.
What: This list isn't quite as long as Nestles, but still long. Coca-Cola, Sprite, Fanta, Lilt, Dr Pepper, Oasis, Kia-Ora, Schweppes, Five Alive, Minute Maid, Rose's, Poweraid, Relentless, Malvern, glaceau vitamin water.

Today I also sent them an email saying I am boycotting their products. This is perhaps the most important part of the boycott. There is no point in trying your best to avoid these products if the companies don't know you're doing it. They'll just think you've lost interest, or like something else, and try to lure you back with marketing or new products. If you tell them you're boycotting then they may change their ways.

Tuesday, 26 May 2009

Dreams

This morning I woke up at about 7.30, and decided I would lie in bed for about another half an hour. That half an hour turned in to about two a half hours of waking sleep. It is these kinds of sleeps in whcih I remember my dreams, and my dreams have a tendancy of being very weird.

One of them involved riding on the back of a giant, but I don't remember that one too well. The strangest one was, well, odd. I was at Banana Club and there were hundreds of kids. Hundreds. And they were all running about causing havoc (not unusual), but then my jaw went weird. I couldn't open my mouth and it was excruciatingly painful. I went from the doors in the Castle Rooms (where Banana Club is) too the toilets and ended up in a duty free shop of an airport. I felt myself worrying about my jaw, and the fact I had somehow bipassed all security checks. I was trying to communicate with an ugly manager at the shop (who was destinctly similar to the aforementioned giant), but could only manage 'Humm, mmm mmm mmm.' Then, I reminded myself it was just a dream and told myself to open my mouth. I did and woke up.

If Freud was alive, well, I think even he would struggle with this one.

Monday, 25 May 2009

Procrastination Station

Yesterday was quite cool. I spent much of it outside, mowing the lawn and helping clean up after my father. He decided that he would chop down a tree and realised that tidying up afterwards would be a larger task than he predicted. Admittedly, he did cook dinner, so I'll let him off.

I really want to start a new blog, which focuses on Global issues etc. However, I have yet to think of a name, and I won't start it without a good one. So ideas are welcome.

I need to tidy my room, but I CANNOT BE BOTHERED. If you happen to have contact details for Mary Poppins, the Fairy Godmother or any other such person (or mythological being), please inform me. I expect there's a waiting list though.

Friday, 22 May 2009

Unwell and Apocalyptic Visions

I'm not well. I'm not going to gross you out with details but the symptoms resemble cholera. Just too think, go to Paris for a few days and come back with cholera.

I enjoyed Paris though. I just thought I'd mention apocalyptic visions. In the same square where the parrot incident occurred there were paintings of the Paris skyline in red, to resemble a sunset. However, they more resembled a burning sky so made me think of Revelations. A much more beautiful interpretation of John's dreams was the Rose Window in La Sainte Chapelle. It has to be one of the most stunning buildings in the world.

Thursday, 21 May 2009

WordLab

I am so bored. I have played numerous games on Neopets, played on molehill empire and watched youtube videos. Really, I should be sorting my room. However, I have a random website for you.

WordLab
This is quite a fun website for those who are thing of naming something (i.e. a band, a website or even a drug). The best bit is their naming tools. You can just come up with random things. So here is a little game. I have used the Drug-O-Matic, the Band Name generator and the ACME generator and written down the first generated word. Your job is to give a description of them. (i.e. the drug cures foot odour problems, etc.)

Drug: Renthoco
Band: Folds and Boils
ACME: DirectPrimary

Tuesday, 19 May 2009

One man and his parrot

I am currently in Paris. I'm not going to try and write everything I've done here, because last time I failed. Well, my brother thwarted me (click here to read). This is just one funny incident.

My mum, brother and I were sitting in a cafe in Monmatre, watching the world go by. We ordered kirs and we got kirs. Huge kirs, a whole wine goblet of kir. So we got slightly tipsy as our family are notorious lightweights. Then a man selling his 'wares' came up to us hoping we would buy something and reduce his poverty. Unfortunately, he was selling a toy parrot and in my tipsy state I found the episode hilarious. I tried to stifle my laughter but on catching Stephen's eye, it became all too much. I just let out a huge snort and the man subsequently left. Probably to drown himself in the Seine.

I did observe, though, his poverty was probably a result of his business acumen, or lack of. Who would try to sell a stuffed toy to a group of adults? Really. Imagine 'here darling, I went to Paris and bought you this: a toy from the French equivalent of the Early Learning Centre. No, no wine or not even a beret, a toy. A stupid, stuffed toy.'

Saturday, 16 May 2009

Experience

There was a job advertised in the local newspaper to work with children with disabilities. When my dad read the ad he said, 'When have you worked with kids with disabilities? You haven't got the experience. Stephen's got the experience. When have you had the experience?'

Umm. Every week for the last year nearly, if not two years or more.

Gone

Yesterday, after months of me writing about how I am leaving soon, I finally left Aberystwyth. Well, I will return for Graduation and visit, but it wont be my home anymore. I left at 1.30 and gave the people the opportunity to wave me off by arranging a lunch at Wetherspoons. I expected 3 people to turn up, Rose, Rachael and Joel. However, there were about 20. Most of them just wanted to make sure I had actually gone, I expect. It was really touching and I nearly cried. Well, um, I managed not to for the whole journey...I'm such a girl.

There are so, so many people that I will miss. There are some that I only just started getting to know, there are some that have been such good friends. Okay, less of the gushing. Also, the Church in Oxford emailed to confirm my suspicion. I did not get the job. However, as all the other candidates were really cool, I'm not that disappointed.

Friday, 15 May 2009

Famous Bloggers

Steve (from yesterday's post) also gave me a list of sites. One of them was cartoonchurch.com. He has a site which give you free pictures for blogs. This is one of them.

cartoon from www.weblogcartoons.com

Cartoon by Dave Walker. Find more cartoons you can freely re-use on your blog at We Blog Cartoons.

Digging

Today I'm actually leaving university. I'm packing at this moment because, as usual, I've left it to the last minute. I don't think I've got the job in Oxford as they haven't got back to me yet. That's a little disappointing.

I had a lot of things to write about, but probably won't get a chance. Well, I'll do a quick summary. Tuesday, I had people over for a meal, which was really good fun, and then Becca, Lee, Rachael and I watched Changeling. That was quite good. Wednesday I slept until late, went to the CU photo, did first aid (to use the term loosely, more helped get him to hospital) on someone who crushed their leg in the silly boys' photo. Went to Lord Beechings, then did ChristianAid collecting, walked up two very steep hills, watched Finding Neverland and said goodbye to my friend Sam. Yesterday, met up with Steve, the St Mike's Youth Worker, at 10am for tea and coffee; then met up with Jenny, my longest friend at uni, and had quite an intense chat. Went to Banana Club, where they gave me a book, Why do farts smell like rotten eggs?, as a leaving present. Finally, I went to Le Casablanca and Salt with Rachael. I am exhausted. Luckily I can sleep on trains.

Steve is one of those people that comes out with sagical advice when you don't expect it. He said to me yesterday:
There are two types of people in the world. Those who dig for dirt and those who dig for gold. The media and society tend to dig for dirt and shame people. Those of dig for gold look for the best even in the most difficult of people. And when they find that gold they don't just leave it but they need to polish it up and show the world how beautiful it is.
So that struck me quite a bit. Which one am I? I wonder. Which one are you?


Tuesday, 12 May 2009

Waiting

It feels like I have been waiting forever to find out about this job. It is too scary. I want to know now. Like NOW. Maybe if I check my emails for the nth time...mind you they'll probably phone.

Monday, 11 May 2009

Anticlimaxical

Yes, I know that's a word I've just made up. Anyway, I've finished my degree. No more essays, not more exams, no more Reading Theory. It is all done. Also, I've pretty much packed everything in my room, and it's all been carted off back home. It's quite depressing looking around and there being nothing. All my posters and postcards I had on my wall are gone. All my books are gone. It's so sad. I'm going to be leaving on Friday, for pastures new. Well, old actually, I'll be going back home. It's all anticlimactic.

My parents came up this weekend to collect all my belongings. Rachael and I went with said parents to the Tynllidiart Arms in Capel Bangor. It holds the World Record for being the smallest commercial brewery in the world. We ate lots of nice food. Very nice food.

Sunday, my friend Jenny got baptised and confirmed, so that was really nice. She was so nervous, bless her, but it went fine. Also yesterday, Rachael started her own blog.

So I'll just impart some words of advice to Rachael. It will ruin your life. Not really. But you do need to change which timezone you're in. So head over to her blog and say a great big 'HI!'.

Saturday, 9 May 2009

Awesome

The May Ball was last night and it was AWESOME. The Zutons were really cool, and I enjoyed dancing like a loser. At the moment I am 1/10 of the way through packing my room and my parents come at 1 (that's two hours, people). The house is a mess. My room is a mess. Life is a mess. Thank God for Jesus, is all I can say to that.

Speaking of Jesus, I'm getting really anxious about my job situation. What has that got to do with Jesus? I hear you ask. Well, probably I wont actually hear you because a) you're probably out of earshot and b) you possibly already know about the job interview I had. I applied for a job at a church in Oxford, and I want to know if I've got it. I don't think I have. I don't know. Maybe, maybe not. I'd be cool but I did like the other candidates. They were nice. Okay, less of the random ranting. I have a habit of verbalising my random thought processes, now I've begun to type them.

I'm tired and ill and I have a random ironing board in my room. It is a rubbish ironing board. As a matter of fact, I'm going to save this post as a draft, take a photo of said ironing board and post it up. Because I'm cool like that. Note the fiendish holes in the cover. That was how the board was when we arrived, and I had to iron my shirt on it. What you can't observe is that it also likes to collapse. Okay, this has got to be perhaps the most random post ever in the history of blogging.

Friday, 8 May 2009

Websites

Okay, I haven't added a random website recently. Also, I have been neglecting my using-the-internet-to-save-the-world duties. So here is a post that will kill two birds with one stone.

Random Website
A mention needs to go to randomwebsite.com. Basically, this website redirects you to a random one. You click on the link and you find yourself in a new and fascinating (well, um, new) part of the web. Be warned, although I haven't had any bad experiences, the potential for them is there. So that's the random website of the day.

World Saving Website
Whenever I go shopping with my mum on a highstreet anywhere she always says, "let's pop into the charity shop." There is one charity shop in particular that I love, and that is Oxfam.


So I'm directing you to their website. Also, if you have twitter, follow them. They give ways of using twitter to let your voice be heard. The website has brilliant resources and is often up-to-date with world issues. So just have a browse.

Please, if you know any good websites, for either category, let me know.

Count Down

It is only about 9 hours until the May Ball. I have 500-800 words to go until I've finished my degree. I day until my parents arrive. I have about 3-5 days until I find out about the Oxford job. A week until my last ever first-aid duty.

In the meantime I have to iron my shirt for tonight, pack up my stuff for when my parents come, tidy the house and the garden, sleep a bit, meet up with various people for pretty much the last time. Possibly shed a tear or two. This last hurdle is going to be the hardest. But I'm quite excited about moving on.

Thursday, 7 May 2009

Nearing the end

I have about one thousand words left until the end of my degree. That is quite scary. Also, I'm leaving quite early compared to all the other third years. I announced that I am leaving for home next week on facebook, and got the following reaction:
I'm quite touched at the outrage and the threats of kidnap (what is more moving than someone wanting to kidnap you?). I'd like to add that Kaylee likes this only because she is from home, and is not looking to get rid of me.

So I think I owe people an explanation. First, I'm going to Paris the week after next to help my brother take things back home with him. Second, I have no money. After I've sorted out my rent, I wont actually have that much. Third, I need a job (as a consequence to number two), and I'm hoping that I'll beat all the rest of the students by returning earlier. So they are the reasons why I'm going home so soon. I may return for a few days for the CU leaver's party (especially as I came up with a possible theme).

At the moment I have a cold. Rachael gets annoyed if I call it swine flu. Mind you, she has heard me tell countless people that I have swine flu, so it must be wearing thin by now. Tomorrow is the May Ball.The Zutons are our main lineup, which is really cool. They probably wont cancel like the last two years as it is on their website.

Now I need to reduce the number of words until I've finished my degree.

Saturday, 2 May 2009

Scared and sushi

I'm getting scared now. Well, sort of. I'm going to pray about it and read the Bible. God is always faithful and always does things for our best, even if it doesn't feel like it at the time. So I'm totally relying on him for tomorrow.

I had sushi for dinner. Nothing fancy, but £4 from Tesco Express. It was a crazy buy for someone who doesn't like fish. Or didn't. I quite liked it, but it was a bit ambitious, so I only ate 1/2 of it. £2 down the drain. I'm having money worried (aren't we all?), and have worked out that by the time I've paid my rent for March, April and May, I'll only have about £100. Eeek.

I walked down to the church I'm being interviewed at to see how far away it was, gaining a lot of interest from cats (I smelt of fish). That scared me a lot. Not the cats, but seeing the church.

Anyway, to prays and Bible-reading.

In Oxford

I am currently writing this from Oxford. I'm disappointed that I forgot my camera, but I'll probably use my phone. Then I'll have to get around connecting it to my laptop. I have seriously neglected the prettiful picture side of things with this blog lately.

I'm not at all nervous about my interview at the moment, but I soon will be. I'm going to got out, get some dinner and look like I've been ditched in some cafe, come back, read through/correct/improve/cry about my presentation for tomorrow. The B&B is really nice, it is called Lonsdale Guest House, so if you're ever in Oxford (visiting me after I got the job...a bit presumptuous) it's a good place to stay and with a bus route right to the city centre.

I forgot to bring the girly magazines I bought. But I learnt something new about women's sanitary products. You really don't want to know.

So off to get food...but first Molehill Empire calls. Yes, I am a loser.

Friday, 1 May 2009

Things to do

I have to:
  1. Finish my presentation
  2. Find out my train/bus times
  3. Call my B&B to tell them what time I'll be arriving tomorrow
  4. Aquaint myself with St Andrew's Church child protection policy.
  5. By girly magazines
  6. Sort out my rent
  7. Find somewhere where heat-stroke isn't a distinct possibility
  8. Get off the internet.

I'm in the university computer rooms by my Church at the moment and nearly dying. It is obscenely hot in here. I just met with the wonderful Hannah Nelson to discuss my interview and as usual she gave good advice.

In other news: I burnt my face today. Well, actually, my lunch burnt my face. It was a Wensleydale and BBQ sauce toastie, and the gloop fell out and stuck to my face like napalm. Now I have a red mark on my face. The reasoning behind the odd mix of Wensleydale cheese and BBQ sauce is that I have decided that like without bricks and mortar you don't have a house, without Wensleydale and cranberries you don't have a pleasant culinary experience. So to get rid of the offending cheese I smothered it in BBQ sauce and put it in a toastie. Just so you know it was Rose's idea. So I blame her. A rather dubious example to go in the 'recipes' tag collection. But aren't all of them?

Also, while writing this a girl asked me to help her to photocopy something. Bless her. Now to do number 8 on my list.

Interview

This Sunday I have an interview. Scary stuff. Very scary stuff. It is a 9-9 interview day, basically, and I have to do a presentation on 'Is the Bible relevant today? How and why should we read the Bible? 2 Timothy 15-17'. So I should be preparing that. But instead I am writing this. Blame my brother.

I have two random sites, well one is less random than the other.

Random site #1
I have recently bought a book of crosswords. Stuck on the first and most basic (look, I'm looking to improve, okay), I found a site called oneacross.com.

Random site #2
This one I found in an advert on oneacross.com. It is 'a fun economy simulation'. Recently I have become addicted to 'Travian' but it got a bit lame, but this one is really cool. Also, I really really want a garden. And I've found one at molehillempire.com. So, this is my next internet addiction, methinks.

Friday, 24 April 2009

Marble Madness

I have joyous news. One of my best friends is no longer single. Well, the couple, Becca and Lee, were pretty much a couple beforehand by they have just formalised it. I was like a puppy yesterday after they told me, I actually screamed at Becca. They're such nice people and I'm really happy. Awww, ain't that the sweetest thing you heard in a long time.

My dissertation, to bring the tone down, is so nearly done, and I could be finishing it instead of writing this. However, I chose to write how I could be finishing instead of doing so. I am that dedicated to my loyal readers. Really. It has nothing to do with boredom.

Yesterday was nice, I spent it in the company of really awesome people, and we played in the park and had pizza. Before that though, I helped at Banana Club and the kids were crazy. They would not behave.

Random Website
This one was suggested by my brother, so he deserves a link. Just a point, when I put links in I hope you look at them. Anyway, the site is Land of Marbles. Everything you want to know about marbles. Especially gripping is the 1,000 Marbles story. Apparently one of the most touching stories you will ever read. It is a bizarre Memento Mori/Nunc est bidendum mix involving 1000 marbles. Read the story now before I say the next bit, as it is a bit of a spoiler warning. It says it makes a great gift when accompanied by a lot of marbles. If I got that for my birthday, well, it definitely wont lighten the mood. 'Here are some marbles and each one is for every week you'll live. Enjoy.' Imagine if they only gave you six of them or something? 'Gee, er, thanks?'

Thursday, 23 April 2009

I hate bin days.

Yes another bin day rant. This time at my own stupidity.

At 10:05 (ish) I panicked realising that there was a huge pile of full bin bags by the back door that needed going out so I rushed out in bear feet, getting garbage juice all over them and flung them out (well, actually placed them outside) the garden gate. Smug with my ability to be organised and actually remember, a) what day of the week it was, and b) what day bin day was, and c) put them together, I sat down at the dining table to do dissertation.

Only when I heard the beeping noise and the sound of 'Please stand clear. Vehicle reversing. Please stand clear. Vehicle reversing. Please...' did I think to look in the kitchen bin. It was full. Crammed full. So I took the bag out of the bin, and as it was cheap Simply Value ones it was tearing! But I got it struggled, succeeded and tied it up. I can make it! I thought. I ran out the back door. The rubbish truck was only outside the gate. I can do this! I got to the gate. I fumbled on the combination padlock to get it open. I fumbled some more. I'm nearly there. Oh no, I knock the second number out alignment! Okay, problem solved. Why isn't the padlock opening? Oh the first number is out now! Come on! I open the gate. I was too late, the rubbish truck was already half-way up the road. I wasn't going to run up the back alley, barefoot, sprayed in refuge juice, screaming 'STOP! TAKE MY RUBBISH! PLEASE, FOR THE LOVE OF HYGIENE, TAKE IT!'. I have some dignity. So I closed the gate and slunk back to the muted noise of 'Please stand back, Vehicle reversing'.

Cravings

I have a weird craving for pasta carbonara at the moment. Moral of the story, don't look through recipe books at midnight. My random site seemed to be appreciated by at least one person so here is another one.

Random Site
I am the type of person that is always on the look out for new friends, and I like to think I accept them from all backgrounds and in all shapes and sizes. I am the type of guy that will talk to anyone. Before you think this is a reckless forum or dating site it is not. It is a site where you can talk to Alice or The Artificial Linguistic Internet Computer Entity. That name was obviously made up to fit the acronym. It is quite reassuring as it shows that Artificial Intelligence is quite a long way off, really. There is another one called Godbot, which I would reject due to blasphemy and I was sorely disappointed when it didn't answer my question about preservation of the Saints vs continued grace by continued faith. A talk with Alice is very funny, but bear in mind, she cannot answer yes or no.

If you have suggestions please send them my way! And I shall leave you with an extract of one of my conversations with ALICE.

ALICE: ...Where are you now?
Human: Aberystwyth in Wales
ALICE: I have no idea where that is. Tell me a little about your life in Aberystwyth in Wales.
Human: Aberystwyth is a small town by the sea.
ALICE: When is Aberystwyth not a small town by the sea?
Human: Never.
ALICE: So do you think it could ever happen?
Human: It could happen if Aberystwyth grows large enough to be a city but that is unlikely.
ALICE: It could happen to everyone eventually.
Human: No it couldn't.
ALICE: Are you serious? Under what circumstances?
Human: It is a logical impossibility.
ALICE: Aberystwyth is a logical impossibility. I suppose that makes sense.
Human: Yes, it does.

Also, ask her about her faith!

Monday, 20 April 2009

This is getting serious

I need to admit something. Something serious. I have an addiction to the internet. Okay, it's not all that bad. I can go days without using it, but it is usually as a result of boredom. However, utilising my addiction, I have decided on yet another web based feature. The Random Site, feature. It will be like the guest publication on Have I Got News For You, but more interactive.

Random Site
Ian's Shoelace Site. This is a site dedicated to, yes, shoelaces. Not just the types of shoelace, no. But ways you can tie them, lace them, decorate them, etc. Did you know that for all these years you could have been tying you laces incorrectly? Well, Ian tells you why. Now remember:
Right over left, left over right
Makes a knot both tidy and tight.

Makes sense now

I can't do mobile updates, I don't think. I don't live in USA. Come on Vodafone, do a deal with Google, like you did with Twitter.

Trend Setter

After updating the layout of my page, 2 others have done so already. However, you could argue Rachel updated hers first, but I have been improving my blog for a while. So I am officially a trend setter.

I have been investing a lot of time (usually at the dead of night) into improving my blog. This has included adding tags and such. At the moment I'm setting up mobile blogging. That means I can blog on the move (as well as twitter on the move). Well, I have to use my new shiny phone appropriately. But its taking ages.

I am insanely bored doing my dissertation at the moment. I'm hoping to get to 7000 words by tonight.

News on the coffee front. I've discovered a new and exciting way to have your coffee. Okay, it isn't probably that new. Instead of putting sugar in it, try putting honey in, instead. Does that merit a 'recipes' tag? Why not, eh?

Sunday, 19 April 2009

Network to Save


I've been a bit rubbish on my usingtheinternettosavetheworld stuff. So far I've done Avaaz, and egg a politician, but this is the big whammy. Going in for the kill, you might say. It is...wait for it...wait...facebook. Were you really disappointed? Did you think I was going to let you into a huge secret? Like the masonic order of charity websites? Enough with the questions.

Facebook is a good way to quickly let people know about things. You can post things on your wall, or your friends' walls. These things can be videos, links to news articles or other websites, all about things you are concerned or want to raise awareness about. There are also applications that can be used. Rather than just throwing sheep at people, or answering a quiz to determine what vegetable alkaloid you are (quinine), you can actually change things for the better.

Start with the Causes application. You can use it as a way to give money, but I mainly use it to show what charities I support. You can invite others to join, and therefore raising awareness.

My next application is the SuperBadger application. It is basically the same premise as Avaaz, but via facebook. It allows you to email (or badger, gettit?) politicians, business owners and other important people. An example of how SuperBadger has been successful is that Thornton's now stocks Fairtrade Chocolate. Read this Cadbury article on SuperBadger.

To see other articles on this topic, see the tags websites or world issues.

Back

Here are some things you should know. I'm back in Aberystwyth. I have changed my layout yet again. I'm up way too late. I'm listening to Wizard Rock (music based around Harry Potter). I am a loser.

My train journey back to Aberystwyth wasn't too bad really. I was, for the first part to Birmingham New Street, accompanied by Rachael. For the second leg I sat with a friend from church, Claire. So I wasn't bored like usual, and I only slept a little bit.

Owing to the time, this is going to be a short post. As in ending in a hundred characters or so. But I like this template. So it is staying, methinks.

Friday, 17 April 2009

Coffee and Layouts

Rachael, my girlfriend, is staying over at the moment, and I'll probably write more about the visit at a later date. However, I can't neglect my blog for too long, especially as I wrote about no-one updating in my last post.

I've found a cool new site, btemplates.com, that has allowed me to make my blogger blog as exciting and cool as a wordpress one. So I'm playing around with them at the moment. This one is called 'Coffee Desk', but I'm not sure about it. Expect there to be a rapid succession of changes until I finally hit upon one I like.

One erksome thing is that my widgets disappear everytime I change my template. Also, the blogroll is being stupid and not letting me put other blogs beside blogger ones on it. Which is silly, as the blog I most read is dreamingofthecountry. However, I link to it in about 1 in 5 posts, so it won't be neglected.

It's funny that I don't even drink coffee and I have this as my current layout. I'm going to try and develop an appreciation of it. I love the smell of coffee and I like the idea of the different varieties available. But I need to pack, as I'm returning to the mouth of the river Ystwyth tomorrow.