The following posts have no fixed theme or style, but I hope you enjoy reading them!

Sunday, 9 December 2007

The Cardigans - Best of

Will be released on 28th Jan 2008 in the UK and 30th Jan 2008 in the rest of Europe

Am very excited. More news will come as I get it. Of course I know you are all fascinated by everything I tell you about the Cardigans, and it is the least I can do to update you on their news ;-)

Question

Is it wrong to desire a golden parsnip?

Sunday, 2 December 2007

The story of how this term was not like the others

For the first three years in this place, things got better and better, and then this term came, and things weren't quite as good again. I suspected it might happen, with all the people leaving who I talked about in this blog at the end of last term. To that, I can now add that I have spoken from time to time with all of that list except Kaleen and Dave. But I speak less to Sonia, Richard, Chris and Thomas than before too, and moving apart from so many friends at once is a bit painful.

A few years ago I would have said I don't need to tell someone everything. Who needs a best friend? But I often think that I would like to tell someone something I think of, but then can't think of the best person to tell and who would really understand what I am saying.

It took me until about the 7th week of term and a huge work crisis to click myself out of feeling all sorry for myself, and I can blog it now because I am feeling better, and I don't trust myself to write sense unless I am feeling good and rational.

Living in a house has been great though, and the housemates are wonderful. I can quite happily open up to lots of people and say what I think, and the people in the house are great! There is tea practically on tap, and although most people are in bed at a sensible hour there is inevitably someone who wants a long chat at midnight and that is wonderful! I really do feel a lot closer to these people than I have done since the first year, when we met up really often to cook together and things - almost like now! The more I get to know them all, the more wonderful it is.

So is a best friend really necessary? I haven't decided. I'll tell you when I'm eighty years old and I have more experience of the world and how it works.

Sunday, 25 November 2007

Advice #16

Don't blame your daughter

Some clutter

I hear a song and write the lyrics down as I listen so I can read them all at once. But I end up having scraps of paper all over my room with lines from songs that I like, and they cause clutter. And although my room is always full of clutter, it would be better if it wasn't there. So here are a couple, and I'll throw away my scraps of paper.

"Misery comes and lovers go
I lose myself and sometimes I don't know
She says I've always told you so
But I'll stay with you forever
Angel of Sadness"
Angel of Sadness - A Camp

"I'm sorry
Two words I always think
After you're gone
When I realize I was acting all wrong"
So Sorry - Feist



I only wrote down the first one today, the other one I discovered a few months ago, but it's very true to life. Luckily people are usually very forgiving when I 'act all wrong'

Wednesday, 21 November 2007

Carbon footprint

I'm not going to ask you to calculate your carbon footprint. I have not done it for myself, because I can't find an accurate way of doing it, and I don't entirely trust these "take 2 minutes to ask 5 questions and we'll tell you" websites.

However, I was interested that the front of Walkers crisps now has a little logo telling me that 75g Carbon dioxide was emitted for my pack of crisps. This time, before I thought about the accuracy of the figure - which is coming later - I thought to myself, I have NO idea how much that is - let's think about that for a second.

We can work it out scientifically. Do you remember GCSE science? Let's try a quick calculation (it won't hurt, promise). If you remember, we work in moles. A mole is just a number of atoms that is convenient. Carbon dioxide is CO2, so in each mole of CO2 there is one mole of C and 2 moles of O. A mole of C weighs 12 grams and a a mole of O weighs 16 grams, so we have 44 grams for a mole of CO2. My 75g of CO2 is just over one and a half moles. That's about 1,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000 (10^24) atoms, occupying about 35 litres. OK, so atoms are so small that I can't tell if that's a number that I should worry about, but 35 litres of CO2! Just for a pack of crisps?! That seems like loads! I can only assume that all goods we buy are like that, so we must generate roomfulls each day. To me it seems ridiculous that we can produce so much, how can that possibly work out if everyone is doing that?

How accurate is this figure of 75g then? Maybe it has already been taken into account, maybe not, but apart from producing the crisp and the packet, there is the transport from the factory to the shops, the possibility of people driving to the shops to buy the crisps and the cost of disposal of the rubbish. Cost of disposal includes bin lorries, rubbish sorting and decomposition of the material used in the packaging which may or may not itself produce carbon dioxide(?). Looking in even more detail at the bin lorries, they must deal with producing all of their goods like the lorries themselves and the fluorescent uniforms (although if people wear them each day maybe they buy fewer clothes?), they have to maintain the lorries, buy petrol, the employees have to get to work, they have to send out notices when bin days are changed, and also hand out bins, which must themselves be produced. Where do you stop? How can you say that my bag of crisps has a 75g carbon footprint? Does responsibility for the bag and it's footprint pass to the waste disposal people at some point? The whole calculation is much too large for anyone to find a meaningful figure in my opinion.

According to Gordon Brown yesterday, the UK produces 654 million tonnes of carbon dioxide per year. That's a lot more litres. In fact, it's over 300,000,000,000,000 litres. If you sat in the middle of a ball with that much volume, you would have to go about a marathon distance to get to the edge (43km, 27 miles). Bear in mind that carbon dioxide is naturally found in concentrations of one part in 4000 and you see that the amount of carbon dioxide we are producing will have a major effect on the carbon dioxide in the atmosphere.

No wonder something's going on.

Saturday, 10 November 2007

Advice #15

Throw out your leperskin coat, it's immoral and your friends will disown you when they find out you have one

Tuesday, 6 November 2007

Bonfire Night

I have been in university for several years now and yet this year was the first year I went to the main city firework display on bonfire night. I love bonfire night and it was a bit strange that I had not been before. When I left the house though, I realised that I didn't want to be a student on bonfire night. For me, bonfire night has always been and will always be a family occasion. Bonfires are something that I have come to associate with my Dad. It was a regular occurrence to come home after school to find the house locked and Dad at the bottom of the garden adding freshly trimmed branches to a smouldering fire. Having got over my frustration at being locked out, I would put on some wellies and help put wood on the fire, enjoying the smell of the smoke and the warmth of the fire. My hands and arms stung from scratches off the wood, my eyes stung from the smoke and my toes ached from the cold. Stand too close and you'd get smoke and ash all over you, stand to far away and you'd freeze. I hate the connotations with the dark green coloured area of any local supermarket when I say this, but it was a wonderfully organic experience.

I remember bonfire nights clearly too. One year we had it in our own garden with some kids who my Dad was tutor to at school. The fireworks were cheap and probably a bit damp, so they didn't work too well, but it just made it more exciting when a roman candle actually worked for a while!
A different time we went to a quaker's house, where there was a massive bonfire. We were enjoying some food, chatting, staring at the fire. As I stood there, my side nearest the fire prickled with the heat, while the other was numb with cold.
One time a family who we knew with kids called Kim and Becky hosted a bonfire night celebration. I remember the paths round the garden being lit with candles, bobbing for apples, going inside for a paper plate with some buffet food, and of course the huge bonfire and fireworks.
One year we went to a bonfire at the school where my Dad taught, and tried to make out the faces of the school children who I knew, even though they were up to ten years older than me, in the flickering light.
Probably the earliest bonfire night I remember was the year we went to a house with a boy called Sholto. I don't remember much, but the whole family came and shared the experience of watching the powerful flames in the middle, flowing at a hundred miles an hour round the charred logs, roaring and shining pure heat at us. It was magical.

There were other bonfire nights through the years of course, but every time, bonfire night has been a family occasion for me. It's amazing how you can bond with anyone young or old, just by watching a fire in fascination, as it dances and billows.

Today there were lots of families at the celebrations as well as others. I would prefer to be in a family there than in a student group in their little bubble where everything happens at breakneck speed over a phone or internet connection, or in a bunch of schoolkids dashing round the fairground. No, for me, time stands still next to a bonfire. Part of me longs to be alone, part of me wants to share the moment quietly with someone who I feel completely at ease with, maybe my sister or my uncle. For once I was glad to be in universityland on my own, I wasn't looking through the crowd for people I knew, I was just floating backwards and forwards through time, leaning over the railings towards the bonfire.

Saturday, 27 October 2007

the music's playing on, but something's gone, something's wrong

Yes, I'm deaf.

Hopefully not for long.

So far it's pretty funny, but I hope it'll be better tomorrow morning.

Last Saturday my right ear suddenly blocked. Ever since I have been prodding around with cotton buds, soaking it in olive oil, steaming it in showers and over hot cups of tea, drinking hot cups of tea, popping my ears, yawning, opening my mouth as wide as I can, standing on my head... anything to clear it. But nothing worked. It got more and more frustrating to be deaf on one side. So I finally gave in. I went to the doctor.

I didn't tell him all the things I had been doing, I didn't want him to laugh at me. But he told me that olive oil was a good idea (thank you to Jo and others, for the suggestion) and prodding around was a bad idea (see Advice #14). He said that the largest thing you should put in your ear is your elbow. I tried not to laugh and I didn't tell him that my elbow is one of the few things that I consider impossible to put in my ear. Maybe I could use someone else's elbow.

Anyway, he had a look with his magic machine and told me that although I can hear through one ear, that one's blocked too, so I should put olive oil in both ears. But when I did, the olive oil refused to come out of my good ear. So now I'm completely deaf! And I have been for two hours. I'm hoping it'll come out overnight, because it's really annoying!

Advice #14

Do not use cotton buds to clean your ears.

They tell you "it's dangerous, you'll damage your ear drum".
That's true, if you are an imbecile! You don't need to have much sense to avoid doing that.

They should tell you "it doesn't help, it just makes things worse!".
According to the doctor I saw today, it just pushes the wax further in. You should not put anything, even you finger, into your ear. Wax is fine, it grows out and will only block your ears if you ram it deeper into your ear by poking some object in.

Now I know the second part, I will not use cotton buds in my ears again, and I hope you won't either

Sunday, 21 October 2007

Dear Chris

As one of the (probably) millions of regular readers of this, I have been waiting for the opportunity to greet you personally. Now is just this moment. Hi Chris! I have spent the last few hours thinking of you non-stop, while watching the cars go round and round the Interlagos circuit in Brazil. As a lewis hamilton fan, you must be a little disappointed he didn't win the race and with it the world championship. But watching Ferrari take the lead in the final race over both McLaren drivers is cruel. It's lucky you had Mark's shoulder to cry on - if you have made friends again after Southampton beat Cardiff yesterday, that is!

For me, I am disappointed, but it is nice that the team that has worked together as a team for the whole season, won the championship. Felipe Massa was the hero today in my eyes. At his home circuit, he wanted to win as much as anyone else, but to help the team, he moved over and allowed his teammate through. Whether the team should be allowed to order one team member to slow down is another debate, but Massa showed a huge amount of respect for the team and for his teammate in doing what he did. You can say all you want that he didn't have much choice in the matter, but I don't think Alonso would have done the same thing, and I'm not sure about Hamilton either.

Yeah anyway, there's always next season!

Thursday, 18 October 2007

Advice #13

Don't take up smoking

It's really bad for you. Meaning it might contribute to causing your death (and it is actaully quite likely). And death affects you most, but it affects hundreds of people who have met you in your life too. If it doesn't kill you, it can make you very ill instead.
It stinks.
It's expensive... £5 per pack, once a week is £250 per year. Can you afford that?
Will you be able to stop when you realise it was a bad idea?

Tuesday, 16 October 2007

Feist

I am listening to Feist and remembering the gig I saw a few weeks ago. I had intended to write about it, but although I started writing, it never got finished. I thought the post have to get shelved, but listening to it now brings me right back to the concert. My feelings now are knotted into that evening and the atmosphere of a few weeks ago.

In case you don't know, Feist is a singer-songwriter kind of a gal, but she's not afraid of using a backing band and special effects too. Personally, I find it a bit dull when someone just sings with their guitar for an entire career. It is pleasant enough, but it becomes a bit samey after a while. Feist is a Canadian called Leslie, and we'll leave it at that because I want to talk about the gig itself... if you want to know about her you can find out about her on her wikipedia page or on her official site, as well as myspace and things.

The gig was at the Shepherd's Bush Empire in London. It's a lovely old venue with balconies from the days when it was a proper theatre, and great acoustics. The warm-up man was unfortunately terrible. Luckily I have forgotten his name. He was slightly funny, although I don't know if it was intentional, and he was bad at singing and playing the guitar. No, there really wasn't much going for him! But when Feist came on, all eyes were on her. The concert had such a warm romantic atmosphere. When a boy came on stage from the audience, played a piano song, read a poem and asked his girlfriend to marry him, it came out well, much to my surprise. It wasn't even wrong to have a break in the music, it just fitted with the atmosphere.

Do you know the feeling when you miss someone; you see a person who looks even slightly like them and your heart beats once extra and a smile starts to form in the corner of your lips before you realise that it is a stranger. Well, that evening, I had that feeling over and over again. The music transformed everyone into familiar, beautiful and friendly people (or so it seemed). Even listening to "My moon, my man" this evening, I was sure it was the voice of a friend, maybe someone I loved at some point in my life. I'm not sure who I thought it was, but everything about the song and the memories that go with it point me into such a feeling. Go listen to Feist, it's great!

Friday, 12 October 2007

It's just a day like any other day, a beautiful day for an accident, let's say

[title is lyrics from Zero 7 - "Waiting to Die"]

Today I gave a rubbish presentation, broke a mug in the tea shop and broke a plate at home (that was not mine). Actually I'm not in a bad mood considering... but I should certainly be in bed by now!

Sunday, 7 October 2007

strange to be on marvel hill / i've walked some years to find

Since moving into a house with sofas and comfy chairs I have come across a new problem. When in a comfy chair with no table nearby, it's really hard to pour tea from a pot into a mug without the lid falling off the teapot ("doing a Mirat"). Of course, I would never do a Mirat, but to pour a good cuppa I have had to perfect the art of balancing a mug on my knee, leaving two hands on the teapot. A blend of Jasmine and "Pure Energy Blend" (a tea containing pineapple) turned out to be a good idea this evening and served as good practice in the above tea technique

I should probably say something more on the subject of my current abode. I moved in several weeks ago, but it wasn't until a week ago that everyone was here together. Living with a bunch of girls means that preparing a big birthday cake party on friday was almost pain-free. We had 11 cakes and some savoury food, with around 25 people to eat it, so unsurprisingly we have all eaten almost nothing but cake all weekend and it's still not finished. Louise gets the prize this evening for cooking a wonderful roast lamb - it's sad for her that Scotland lost a rugby match though. I saw some of the game but I have no comment on it that you couldn't read on the bbc website really - I'm no expert on the subject. On the cooking theme, it seems we have a brownie expert in Ruth, a cookie expert in Louisa, a cheesecake expert in Jo, and a general cooking phenomenon in Maria, in addition to Louise's newfound talent in roast dinner (and all the other wonderful food she makes). Living in a house with a living room, a sofa, a dining table, a new oven, a garden, a TV, wireless internet, and several cupboards of tea; this is going to be a good year!

PS the jelly I made for the party did not all get eaten, but it was a fun thing to make. I'll post a picture sometime

Wednesday, 3 October 2007

Global warming explained

There is a lot of confusion about global warming at the moment. Over the last few months I have heard many educated people make very uneducated comments about it, but the time has passed and they are not appearing here for now. Even amongst scientists there is a lot of disagreement on the subject, with people saying it doesn't exist, or that it does, or that it's a problem, or that it isn't, or that it's caused by humans, or that it isn't.

At the moment the following post is just a theory, but I hope you find this explanation of global warming a compelling argument:

Do you remember in school you learned about the seasons? You will have seen a picture like this:

The Earth is tilted and remains tilted for the whole year, during which it moves round the sun once. When the Earth is in the position on the left, northern parts are tilted towards the sun so it is summer, while southern parts are tilted away, making it winter. When the Earth moves round to the right, it is winter in the north and summer in the south. Now have a look at this map:

It is immediately clear that most of the land is in the northern hemisphere. And most of the countries in the southern hemisphere are less industrialised, with the exception being parts of Oceania like Australia. Since the industrial revolution, large industrial chimneys have appeared all over the industrialised countries. It has been shown that the heat that power stations and factories produce is not enough to warm the planet on its own, and yet we are told that the planet seems to be heating up. Also, we see that the weather is becoming more extreme.

Both of these facts can be explained using one theory. The chimneys of the northern hemisphere are blowing the Earth out of its orbit, like a plane being propelled by blowing the air away behind it:

Now, in the northern summer (Left hand side), the north pole is closer to the sun than the southern pole is during its summer (Right hand side). The southern winter becomes colder than any winter before, and accordingly, the northern summer becomes hotter. So you see, this makes the weather vary more across the globe ie, the weather is more extreme. Variations in temperature cause wind so tropical storms become more frequent and more violent, as has been observed. And this phenomenon of extreme weather is becoming more prevalent because of the emergence of China and India, both of which are in the northern hemisphere, building more and more chimneys. We are quite literally being blown away.

Global warming has been caused because we are moving closer to the sun. We use more electricity and heating during the winter, so this gas propulsion occurs more at that time. Winter time is when we are angled away from the sun. We are blowing gas away from the sun, and hence we move towards the sun.

The Earth is not in its natural orbit. It is held out of place by the blowing of industrial chimneys. If the chimneys stopped, the planet would return to its original orbit. Thus global warming can be solved if we reduce the size of our industries.

You are probably wondering if there is any proof of this. Recently I discovered a map in the national geographic magazine. They say

"THE SCIENTIFIC EVIDENCE IS CLEAR: Surface temperatures on Earth are warming at a pace that signals a decisive shift in the global climate, one expected to last for centuries. Previous epochal changes of climate, such as the Ice Age that ended 11,500 years ago, were set in motion by natural causes—variations in Earth's orbit that affect the amount of sunlight warming the planet. In those cases, the cycles of cooling and warming unfolded slowly, over the course of millennia. This episode is different."

If you can't see the map in the link, it looks similar to this, although this is a little different. This shows the variations in temperature from the average in 2001 alone, rather than for many years, but the trend is the same.

(Image courtesy NASA-Goddard Institute for Space Studies)

The world is generally warmer, but more importantly for the theory, the warming is greatest in the northern hemisphere, as this theory suggests.

So there you have it, this is a possible cause of climate change that explains the facts neatly and logically. Any questions?

Monday, 1 October 2007

Pip

Our dog Pip is so cool! I was taking her for a walk the other evening and the shadows stretched out in front of us. As usual, she was off the lead, and walking along a bit ahead of me sniffing the plants on the verge as she went. I reached out to the side and made my shadow stroke Pip's shadow. When she spotted it, she turned round and looked at me, wagged her tail and came for a stroke. She is such a funky animal!

Sunday, 9 September 2007

BOS

I would like to take this opportunity to congratulate the BOS (British Origami Society) on reaching its 40th anniversary. It has done wonders for origami and origami artists over the years, promoting the activity and allowing people to get more from their paper. Keep it up!

Thursday, 6 September 2007

Ornithology

I am coming to the conclusion that either University is very bad for birds, or home is very good. In five days at home revising for exams last June I saw all of these birds:
Blackbird ... Wren ... Blue tit ... Sparrow ... Carrion crow ... Greenfinch ... Chaffinch ... Great tit ... Robin ... Pigeon ... Pied wagtail ... Barn Owl ... Starling ... Swallow ... Kestrel ... Goldfinch ... Thrush

At university I have not seen that many types of bird in three years. The only ones I am likely to see on 5 randomly picked days are pigeons, ducks and blackbirds, with a possiblity of crows, starlings, moorhens and swans. So admittedly, it does win on water birds.

But today university won some respectability. A green woodpecker was hopping along the ground, looking into the air for danger, or maybe looking for insects to catch. I followed it across the grass in the brick-walled court, keeping my distance as I did so. I had a duck on each side of me, pecking at the grass, doing the ineffectual scooping motion that they do with their beaks (made for water, I tell you). Then down a tree came a squirrel, which bounded joyfully across the grass. It came so close to the woodpecker that the woodpecker had to jump out of the way, giving a couple of flaps of its wings, just to make sure. It seemed unreal to see animals packed in such a small area in the concrete jungle of university. But for just a moment, university beat home for wildlife

Tuesday, 4 September 2007

Little happy things

Sometimes the little things are the ones that cheer you up the most.

I was in Argos today and heard the Cardigans song Carnival playing. I thought that song had been lost in the mists of time. I mean, as far as I know, not many people knew it even at the time. According to Wikipedia it was the first single from the album "Life" and reached #35 in the UK charts. So I was thrilled to hear it playing.

A poster on the wall had a mis-spelled company slogan on it. How can you possibly make a mistake like that in company advertising? It's like Skittles saying Taste Te Rainbow, or whoever it is saying Vorsprung Durch Technike. It just makes you look ridiculous.

The man on the street with the guitar was playing "Thank You", the song by Dido that was used in Stan by Eminem. It worked really well with his gnarled old street voice.

One of the cashiers in the supermarket was really friendly. He had a problem with his till, and didn't know one of the prices. So instead of calling for assistance from the other staff, he turned round and asked a random customer to go and check the price of something. It was like being in a little village shop where everyone is happy to help and not afraid to ask. It's so rare to have strangers talking together and even asking favours from each other, and being happy and smiling about it. When I got to the front of the queue (or line, you funny americans), he asked me about my day, and seemed actually interested. What a legend.

Also in the shop, I saw a beautiful girl. She looked familiar. I couldn't place her. I didn't want to ask, in case she was the person who persuaded me to start giving to a charity by accosting me in the street and chatting to me for a while - I swear I would still have given money to her if she were unattractive - but it's odd I still remember her!

Nothing very good has happened today, but the little things have kept it all seeming nice!

Saturday, 1 September 2007

Song lyrics

These are some lyrics from moby's song "Where you end":

Thought I fell in love the other day
With an old friend of mine
I was running kisses
Down every inch of her spine

We had the roof down
The sun came shining in
The black fact is...
that I was thinking of you

I love lyrics like this, they are so hopeless and sad. Would you sacrifice an old friendship simply to imagine the love of another person? Of course not. And yet it seems so possible, like it could happen to anyone at any time, and it would be a natural and beautiful thing, no matter how tragic and wrong it was

Wednesday, 29 August 2007

Advice #12

As a last resort for cleaning your pots and pans, soak them in hot soapy water and then use Brillo pads - they are awesome!

[I accept no responsibility if you go and rub off your teflon coating (non-stick PTFE) in the process]

Tuesday, 28 August 2007

The weekend just gone

Good weekend! I went to Duncan's birthday party, at his house. His university friends were there, who I had already met, but nobody who I knew very well, so I was worried it would be a bit awkward. But in the actuality of it all, it appears that I just reached the point of feeling completely at home with them all, and not feeling like an outsider (albeit a newby). Seeing Duncan and having a proper chat with him about the past present and future was very special too. So it was a lovely evening, and instead of going to bed early as I could have done if it were boring, I stayed up until the last people slept at almost 5am.

The journey back on sunday evening was typical of a sunday night, with delays, cancellations and rail replacement buses all in one evening. I don't mind dozing in a bus though, and I love night-time bus journeys.

Then today Wicko came to visit and we played snooker, ate out, watched a film, in short, it was good to catch up, hear his news, see an old friend and do fun things for a day.
Bank holidays are a great idea!

Monday, 27 August 2007

Cardigans Update - Greatest Hits Compilation coming soon

I feel it is important to tell you about the Cardigans, because otherwise you might think they don't exist. After all, sacking their producer for their 2003 album Long Gone Before Daylight was promotional suicide for them, as nobody pushed the album for the radio. Their best piece of work was lost to the mass market. By the time their next (and most recent) album Super Extra Gravity came out, everyone had forgotten about the cardigans and weren't interested in hearing their new sound. After all, the band came a long way from Lovefool in 1997 and My Favourite Game in 1998.

The latest news is that the band are still separated by the Atlantic because Nina is doing her solo project A Camp. I got a copy of the first A Camp album, and it is great! The songs somehow don't seem as creative musically or lyrically as the Cardigans, but they are still very good and worthy of Nina. Having played a couple of gigs in the US, it seems like A Camp will be releasing another album soon, but no news as yet on that.

In the meantime Magnus and Peter have met to discuss making some more music together. I'm sure they would prefer to have Nina with them, but they are keen to make music, and I am glad that they aren't going to forget the whole thing. As recently as the 15th August Magnus said "we are are still alive as a band" on the website, so I don't think we need to worry about the splitting up quite yet.

As I say, though, the label decide everything for the band, and have decided to produce a greatest hits compilation. News on this has been appearing on the website drop-wise through the ask the band section. It will NOT be called Greatest Hits, Magnus assures us.

The format will be three or four songs from each album, ordered chronologically. I think it is better to order them this way simply because their style of music has changed a lot through the last 13 years since their first album was released. So far, a release-date has not been set (rumours say 5th November) but October or November is likely. The tracklisting has also not been released, but there will be a main CD including the best songs, and then a special edition will contain a second CD with rare B-sides. Songs known to be included are:

CD 1:
Slow
Communication
Lovefool
Carnival
NOT Your New Cuckoo

CD 2:
Happy Meal 1
For The Boys
Songs written and recorded for A Life Less Ordinary and X-Files

My ideal tracklisting (including what is already confirmed to be included) would be:
1. Rise and Shine
2. Black Letter Day
3. Cloudy Sky
4. Carnival
5. Travelling With Charlie
6. Beautiful One
7. Lovefool
8. Happy Meal II
9. Losers
10.My Favourite Game
11.Hanging Around
12.Paralysed
13.Communication
14.For What It's Worth
15.Please Sister
16.03:45 No Sleep
17.And Then You Kissed Me
18.And Then You Kissed Me II
19.I Need Some Fine Wine And You, You Need To Be Nicer
20.Don't Blame Your Daughter (Diamonds)
21.Little Black Cloud
22.Slow

22 tracks is a bit hopeful, but I have already left out Erase/Rewind and others, so I'll leave it at that! I'll post the actual track-listing when I get it

Thursday, 23 August 2007

Ramblings on life's meanderings

These days I have been remembering what it is like to feel lonely. It's not that I don't see anyone, or even that I never do anything, but I do lack seeing many people who I count as being my closest friends. Being at university when everyone else is away means that as well as missing the people who will not come back (who I mentioned here), I miss those who will be coming back next year. Luckily, Rachel has mainly been in Cambridge, but she has gone on holiday as well now. To cap it all, I have been arguing with Sonia a bit, and while we care about each other enough to stay in contact, I worry for her especially, and also for our close friendship.

When I went home last week, I found that the Georges (a group of friends from home) are all away, either working or on holiday so that, while I had a very good time with the family (and for much of the time I genuinely enjoyed myself and relaxed), I still felt like I had not seen most of my friends for far too long!

Going to Edinburgh cheered me up though. I went with Pete, Lizzy, Richard and Chris, and we had long enough to have small-talk, in-jokes, arguments, debates, bored moments, events and shared memories for later. It was great! From feeling a bit down at the start, I was my normal happy self within 24 hours. We saw lots of festival shows: a musical I actually enjoyed (Tony Blair the Musical), a disturbing, thought-provoking film (Extraordinary Rendition), a slightly sketchy old man singing songs about (mainly) sex, a play that actually makes me want to read 19th century fiction (Crime and Punishment) and a play so horrific that I actually threw up (no way it could possibly have been food poisoning, nope, no chance) (Dracula, featuring Chris's brother Matthew). We also explored Edinburgh; here's a picture of Chris and Richard enjoying the view on Arthur's seat, which might be named after Richard's grandfather



Then I came back. I'm still in quite a good mood, but my room is trying its best to annoy me. When I came in, the window was leaking. Then the light crackled and went off. And I had no food in to make for dinner, and no bulb in my lamp. I looked at the time to discover that my alarm clock had run out of batteries and stopped. But I'm not feeling as bad as I was ten days ago, so it has failed. Haha! Now I must sleep, good night

Tuesday, 14 August 2007

Environmental rubbish? [Read previous post first]

In my post Environmental Rubbish! , I was saying that it is completely natural that humans should mould the environment to our own needs, just as every other species does. In fact, the environmentalist standpoint is negative, the goals are unachievable, and trying to achieve environmental goals lowers our productivity.

Let us consider the arguments used again.

1) The environmentalist standpoint is negative.

Actually, the environmentalist standpoint is a challenge of improving the world so it is hard to think of it as negative. Of course, this challenge translates as limiting the damage we do to the environment by our actions, but that does not have to limit ourselves and become a negative thing.

During the industrial revolution England was a horrible place, with smog over London and coal dust blackening the stone in the north. Environmental action has taken the positive step of improving the air quality across Britain by a change in industrial practice. Nowadays, an analogous situation is that of power stations, which cause acid rain, global warming and particulate dust. We can change the industry by researching, developing and installing clean power stations. This is a positive improvement. The development process will encourage more efficient designs to save resources and money, and the change to the atmosphere will improve the health and well-being of the nation. To take the example of something that everyone can do, energy-saving light bulbs last longer and use less power than traditional light bulbs, so using them saves money as well as the environment. Reductions in energy usage, air miles and landfill are positive actions that improve our lives and improve the state of the planet.

2) The goals are unachievable

One goal set out in the previous post is indeed unachievable. This is the goal of creating a world unaffected by humans. But the real goals are simpler and more manageable. Firstly, we want to continue to survive here on Earth. Even in the worst case scenarios, we will not all die. There may be floods, droughts, extinction of animals and health problems, but there will be no self-destruction of the species or of the planet.

The next goal is to sustain our quality of life. This means that we need to use the same amount as resources as we can produce. Further to this goal, I would like to see more of the world in its natural state. But that is more than just an emotional preference. A world created by humans becomes unstable but natural processes balance out the instabilities. Therefore some natural processes must be left as they are. For instance, the rainforests absorb carbon dioxide and provide medicines among other things. We need to keep the polar ice to prevent flooding of coastal cities and to maintain the air and sea currents that determine local climates. Letting farmland revert to its natural state helps the quality of the soil. So a goal of sustainable future prosperity is a goal which provides sustainability for the environment too. Nature solves our problems so undermining nature is self-defeating. Having stopped using CFCs, the hole in the ozone layer is healing naturally and without intervention. This is an example of the world tending to a natural equilibrium, with human activity deciding whether nature is allowed to run its course.

We cannot quantify exactly how much we affect the environment so it is prudent to leave as much of nature to its own devices as possible, because it acts as a restoring balance. The equilibrium situation suits us very nicely, so the closer we can get to that, the better.

To return to the question of whether the goal is achievable, I have said that not all animals will die out and global temperatures will not rocket out of control: the planet will not be destroyed. Thus by making measured, sensible changes to our lifestyle, we do not need to reduce our quality of life significantly and we can still achieve whatever goals we set ourselves.

3)Trying to achieve environmental goals lowers our productivity

As far as economic productivity and efficiency go, I showed in the first section, that steps to improve the environment often improve efficiency. We can integrate our improvements in industry with natural technological improvement so that it stimulates innovation and speeds up economic progress.
As individuals, we need not allow environmental concerns to slow us down. Many of the choices we make are between outcomes with equal direct benefit, but the indirect benefits of one outweigh the other. For example, you are holding a piece of trash, and need to get rid of it. Recycling, putting it in a bin, and littering all achieve the same thing, but for no difference in effort, you can make the world better or worse by your choice. A holiday, whether abroad or at home, serves to relax, but one may involve flights which pollute the atmosphere, while the other may not.
Helping the environment should not scare us into inaction. We can make progress without compromising our busy, successful lives.

The conclusion to all this is that the environmental cause is not a lost cause, and it is worth aiding. It just needs a bit of sensible thought.

Wednesday, 8 August 2007

Environmental Rubbish!

I have been really well behaved today [Sunday]. I haven't used the kettle, I haven't listened to any music, I didn't go anywhere that needed petrol-powered transport. But it didn't make me feel better. In fact, I had a hot shower, cooked dinner that had meat in it, and turned on the computer to check my e-mails. So I have actually not been that environmentally friendly at all.

That's the problem with the environment. It's a very negative issue. People talk about saving the environment, but what are they doing? In practice, the only thing we can do is limit the effect we have on the environment. Let's take a few simple examples. A drink of water has a negative impact due to the amount of chemicals that are used in the water treatment plants to make it drinkable. If your drink is tea instead, then above the environmental cost of the water, we can add the huge amount of electricity used by the kettle, and the energy used to transport the tea over the thousands of miles from India or wherever. Another example, if you read a newspaper, the paper comes from trees being cut down, and the printing process is a very dirty one environmentally. After the paper has been read once it is thrown away, and even if it is recycled, that takes energy too. Yes, nothing that you do is environmentally neutral, let alone environmentally friendly!

But it's not even clear what we are trying to achieve? A good way to make the issue more attractive would be to create meaningful targets.
One target could be that we want to use only as much energy as the world can produce... that way we are living sustainably. It is a long way off, but if we were to succeed in that and no more, the whole world would be farmland and plantations, with no wilderness and no wildlife to protect. For me, I don't like that scenario, I'd want to go further.
Another target would be to create a world that is unaffected by humans. That is to say, a world that functions as it would if humans were not here. This is not realistic, however. Humans are here, and there are several billion of us, so we will have an effect on the planet. We could think of negating this effect by efforts of conservation, such as by saving endangered species and encouraging species diversity through habitat maintenance. But we must remember that a goal of a world unaffected by humans is not the same as a the goal of an unchanged world. An unchanging world is not a natural situation, as woolly mammoths and dinosaurs can testify (well, they can't, but that's kind of the point, isn't it). There should be some animals that become extinct, and some change in global temperatures, but everything happens very slowly. As we cannot tell how the world would develop without humans, an unaffected planet is not possible.
This shows that even taking the most optimistic scenario (which is impossible to achieve in practice), we will fail in our goals and the planet will suffer as a consequence of human existence.

There is a more positive outlook: ignore all of the environmental propaganda and see the world from a realistic standpoint. All animals have their effect on their habitat and the environment in which they live. Humans are no different. We should not apologise for what is happening. Even in the worst predictions (except those in environmental propaganda), only a small percentage of animals are going to die out during the next century, and the world's temperature should level off in a couple of centuries too. We have nothing to worry about.

The environmental movement is counterproductive. Its only achievement is to make people less productive. You can't do anything, because "it's bad for the environment" to do anything. Don't travel, don't communicate, don't read, don't expand your horizons, don't carry out scientific research... our lives will shrink away to nothing. But you won't achieve anything by that, and your life will lose all meaning. Ignore them, and don't worry, the world is a big place... it'll look after itself.

For more on this check this page again on Sunday 12th.

Monday, 6 August 2007

Wo xi huan chi zhu rou!

If you take sausage, and cut it up into strips, and stir-fry it with vegetables and a traditional stir-fry sauce (like hoi sin or black bean), then it looks like stir-fry, but tastes of sausage! Amazing!

Friday, 3 August 2007

My apologies to cheese

A few months ago I posted a scathing review of cheese, claiming cheese hangovers were sweeping the globe, causing havoc.

I still stand by some of what was said then. Cheese is fantastic, and it brightens up every meal, and goes with things as varied as christmas cake, apples (especially on cocktail sticks), ham, pasta and brown sauce (although brown sauce goes with everything, so it's hard to say which effect is stronger)

Some cheese is best on its own -like y fenni, which has mustard seeds in it- but some is better with other things, like gruyere. A cheese and wine party needs experts in both cheese and wine, because there are equal amounts to know about each.

But the issue of cheese hangovers was not well-founded. These last weeks I have had cheese almost every lunchtime, and I have the hangover effect after sandwiches, but not potatoes, so it is the bread effect that makes you sleep, feel headachy and generally horrible. Apparently cheese does make you have vivid dreams or nightmares, but I don't think it makes many people become comatose for several hours at a time, so... sorry cheese, I hope your reputation has not been sullied too badly by this slander (or actually it is probably libel)

Wednesday, 1 August 2007

Common Sense

Engineering is common sense. It involves some knowledge, but mainly the ability to take what you have and use your knowledge to achieve what you want to. You just have to pick out the important thing, and then solve the problem in the simplest way possible.

Of course, I make it sound easy. But I'm not an engineer, I'm just working with engineers this summer. And common sense is really hard to come by. Engineers have years and years of training, which means that they just see an easy solution to every problem. Common sense is not common, and it is not easy, and not everyone has it. In fact, it needs work to build it up until you can see all the simple logic that is staring you in the face.

Here are a couple of bits of common sense that people often overlook:

Don't take horse tranquilisers and think you are going to be ok.

Don't sell people weapons and then expect them to open fire only when and where you want.

Treat other people how you would want to be treated.

Environmentally, do the things that have no loss and only benefits. Take washing liquid... use Ecover and it will clean your dishes without polluting our water. Turn off things that aren't being used. Boil the amount of water that you need (it takes longer to boil more). It's easy to get hung up on details, do what is obvious!

Why do we have plug-sockets near the floor? Most appliances are used at around waist height, except a vacuum cleaner; people would unplug things they aren't using if it were easier. Put it by a lightswitch, then when you turn off the light, turn off your appliances.

Staying on the environmental theme... HSBC has apparently become carbon neutral. This means that they are planting trees or something like that, to offset their emissions. If they cut down on what they use, it would work much better. It's common sense to see that nature works well on its own, so why change it? A plane gives off carbon dioxide, and trees absorb it. So far so good. But you have to plant the trees in a place where there are no other trees or greenery, no buildings, the land isn't being used for something else, there has to be enough nutrients for the trees to grow... so where is this, precisely? Then, we forget that the plane gives off more than just carbon dioxide, it produces vapour trails for example, which contribute something else to global warming. Why not switch to envelopes that don't have the plastic window? That would save our precious oil, save on landfill, and probably reduce the carbon footprint too.

Go to bed when you are tired
like I am now... (and maybe I'll stop these stupid preachy blog posts)

Tuesday, 24 July 2007

Advice #11

Don't read a book and then watch the film of the book straight away.

If nothing else, you feel let down that the characters you have read about for many hours and got to know, have been portrayed shallowly in soundbites and possibly entirely differently to the people in your imagination.

Friday, 20 July 2007

Big child or young adult?



There are very few photos on here so far, so I thought I'd add one. It comes from a ball I went to last month, and I spent quite a long time on this ride, enough to feel just a little bit ill by the end!

I'm going to live near a kiddies' playpark from september, and I can't wait to go on the swings after dark (in the evening so I don't scare away little kids when I use their swings in the daytime). I love swings... they can be exciting and fun, or a quiet and reflective activity, or just a place to chat to friends, they are great!

Wednesday, 18 July 2007

You wish that you were special, I'm just like you

It's great to imagine that all the people you don't know are terrible, because that way you don't mind that you haven't tried to get to know all of them. And then it's a lovely surprise when you find out they are much nicer than you expected. Almost without exception.

And you permanently feel lucky that you have lots of nice friends who are MUCH nicer than all of the other people you don't know

Suitable song lyrics are provided by the Cardigans in the song "Losers"

Sunday, 15 July 2007

The end of third year part II

Graduation was a great occasion. I arrived at around eleven, and went with some graduands towards the ceremony. The clothes were brilliant: their shoes were newly polished (no buckles allowed), dress suits dry-cleaned and dress shirts hired. They wore white bow ties with white bands (these are old-fashioned items that you would recognise if you saw them, but I have never been required to wear them) - stiff rectangular pieces of cloth that stick out from under the bow tie. Over all that, they wore the gown appropriate to their degree. In most cases this is a black academic gown with white fur lining the hood. Most had mortarboard hats, and all this made them look fantastic. I mean, they are silly, impractical clothes, but they all looked very grand, and it made the whole day special.

I wasn't allowed into the ceremony, so you will have to remind me to describe that to you next year when I graduate myself. Meeting all of their parents was interesting because it showed that even now, parents are capable of embarassing their children (most of them were lovely though), and then it became another day of saying goodbye to friends.

It did occur to me that there are less people leaving than it seems, because some people are here for another year, some are doing different courses or getting a job here and so aren't really leaving. But there are still some people who are leaving and who I will miss a lot, including:

Mirat - gone back to America, I feel like we have got to know each other better and better over the whole year, until we were really close friends at the end of the year. Keep in contact
Katy - also gone back to America, it's been great getting to know you this year, and I hope we keep in contact and I'm gonna have to come to see you all in America to practise my accent! Memories from parties, pubs, cafes and lecture theatres will stay with me for a long time
Duncan - the third materials' scientist. We have had a great time drinking tea, especially oooooolong, judging eurovision entries, and talking about alloys of course. I hope you open a cafe someday, even if it is after you retire from teaching. I am expecting visits!
Mark - I have always taken our friendship for granted as we have lived next door for three years, but we have always got on well, and seem to be able to spend unending time together wasting time without getting bored. It's weird to have to make an effort to keep in contact, but I hope we do
Clare - graduated now, and finding a job next year. I never realised how important you are to me until you were about to leave, and I won't let you lose contact because we have been through a lot together and understand each other pretty well
Kaleen - since you will be abroad next year, I doubt we will meet again. It's a shame, because at one point we were such good friends, but these things happen sometimes, I wish you well, and will miss you very much
Dave - meeting on various evenings for tea and cheese has always been a pleasure, and it will be a shame that you are further away than "just across college" from now on
Martin - you are a really great bloke, and I could learn a lot from you, especially in friendship, tolerance and discipline. I know you well, but always wish I had got to know you a little better, and for that reason I hope we will keep in close contact

It's a long list so I have not put everyone in, there are others I am sad to see leave

Thursday, 12 July 2007

Advice #10

Have you been staring at your computer screen for more than half and hour up to this point?

Yes?

Have you?

Answer me!!

Ok, well, if you won't tell me, then at least follow my advice: if you have, you should turn your hands face up and put them in your lap (just to give them a change of scene) and look away from the screen into the distance, roll your eyes a bit, and do that for half a minute. Then you can read the rest of my blog, or do whatever you were doing.

It helps prevent RSI you know (apparently)

Wednesday, 4 July 2007

The end of third year part I

Having exams a couple of weeks before everyone left meant that this term has been stressful for most of the time. And you all know that when you get stressed about something, everything else seems more stressful too. I have been worried about far too many things, and if I hadn't been working for the exams, you would have been reading lots more neurotic posts on here. Most of the worries have gone away now, with a couple of exceptions, one of which I'll explain now.

I put some parts of my life on hold for a while this term (sorry if you normally get e-mails from me but haven't recently), and have had to catch up on everything since then. Unfortunately there were only a couple of weeks between the end of exams and the end of term. For instance, there are friends who I argued with or drifted apart from, and two weeks is a short time to make up with them enough to count ourselves as close friends again. I left on good terms with everyone I think, but we are not close enough to stay in contact, and that saddens me. I have moved house a few times in the past, so I know that it's very hard to keep in contact with everyone, so it is something I'll forget about, but it's a shame nevertherless.

That doesn't mean that the last weeks of term weren't great fun, as I said in "An Exceptional Time", because the amount of great times was unbelievable and I packed a lot in.

Just realised I have sounded more negative recently than all the excitement in my life deserves (even in "An Exceptional Time"), so don't worry, I'm happy at the moment and having a lovely time :-)

Thursday, 28 June 2007

Good lyrics: Hefner

Hefner's music is not always the best in the world... but it's certainly worth listening to because the lyrics are pretty good. This particular song is not especially important to me right now, so don't read anything into it, but it has struck a chord in the past, so maybe it will for you:

To Hide A Little Thought
I tried to hide a little thought
The more I tried the worse things got
It started out so meek and small
But in a wink pervaded all (I thought the work was week, but I guess wink fits too)

Just a stray little stray, stray, stray
By tryin' to hide if I'd asked it to stay
By tryin' to hide if I'd made it a bed
from which to rule the world unsaid

To hide a little thought
A little vagabond
A sprite in the dark
that wouldn't move along

Many thoughts they come and go
This too shall pass, she'll never know
But since my way is bold and free
She noticed somethin' strange in me

Maybe my voice speeded up or slowed down
Maybe my eyes started dartin' around
Maybe my hands started coverin' my face
Maybe I rambled all over the place

To hide a little thought
A little vagabond
A sprite in the dark
that wouldn't move along

I don't say each thing on my mind
To say each thing would be unkind
But with someone I know so well
it's so unlike me not to tell

Usually I like confrontations, I do
I get this thrill out of sayin' what's true
I look so lifeless when I try to lie
That's why it's easy to tell when I try

To hide a little thought
A little vagabond
A sprite in the dark
That wouldn't move along

Monday, 18 June 2007

An exceptional time

I really want to blog, it's quite addictive, you see.

I could write a blog about what a fantastic time I have had over the last week. I could tell you about the feeling of exams being over, of seeing Polysics (which was the most crazy and amazing gig ever, and which has made me find every far eastern girl look spontaneously attractive just by the association with it), of punting, of parties, of new friends, old friends, friends becoming closer friends, of tea, chats, jokes, stories, traditions, birthdays, cakes, exam results, family, G&T, wine, beer, pimms, food, Vimto, the list goes on... yes, it's been a good week.

I could also write a really sad, depressing entry, about the year coming to an end, about how everyone else is in couples except me, about the time being too short to get everything done, about houses, jobs and the passage of time: or about people who are always bitching or grumpy, distant or inconsiderate.

But the truth is that none of this makes very good reading. You wouldn't actually want to hear me going "yeah, the whole week's been great, bet you wish you were here", or "the world's coming to an end".

Instead I'll tell you about some new music that I can recommend to you (apart from Polysics):
The Cinematic Orchestra do amazing, relaxed jazz which sounds like your favourite, thick chocolate.
Dizzee Rascal has a new album and is still doing his feel-good, silly rap. I don't like rap, but if it's going to be this funny and still done by someone with enough talent to make it bearable, then I'll enjoy it - i guess it's more like smarties.
Scissor Sisters are not a new band, but they do cheesy, fun music with such aplomb and style that it's great! Maybe this is the equivalent of Cadbury's?
That's about it for now, but I am still listening to a lot of the cardigans, zero 7, gilles peterson, moby, athlete and muse, and I hope you are too.

Tuesday, 12 June 2007

The two people left when everyone else is already in pairs

Do you ever look round a group of people and mentally pair them all off with each other, and then see who you're left with? Maybe it's just me. It's probably just me. For example: there are six people, two of whom are already going out, and another two are flirting, so obviously you are left with the one remaining person. The problem is that I always seem to end up with people I'd rather not be paired up with... I suppose it is sometimes men, so that reduces the chance of a happy pairing!

Anyway, I'll stop this discussion, I'm probably sounding more and more peculiar in the head.

Saturday, 9 June 2007

Update on previous entries

Firstly, the book about the English mentioned in "Das Klassensystem in England" was probably "Watching the English" by Kate Fox. I haven't read it, but it sounds like it analyses English or British behaviour in an entertaining way, telling you things that you kind-of knew before but hadn't ever realised or analysed.

Secondly, I can update you on the squirrel from "Seed Protection". I thought I had beaten it and saved some nuts for the birds, but a few days after the last post, it got its revenge. I had been out in town and came back to find the feeder on the ground in tatters. It had been gnawed away quite considerably, and was in 3 pieces, with the cord used to tie it to the tree also severed. I would have liked to see the shock on its face when the feeder fell out of the tree, probably with the squirrel attached. But ultimately it won and I can tell you that I won't be messing with squirrels again any time soon

Monday, 4 June 2007

Advice #9

Don't pop your clogs

They are liable to stay popped, and they may even snap when you are trying to pop them back. After all, wood is a lot more brittle when it is dried and in clog form, than when it is in a tree.

x--x--x--x--x--x--x--x--x--x--x--x--x--x--x--x--x--x--x--x--x--x--x--x--x

For your information: the phrase "to pop one's clogs" comes from a time when your clogs were your most important possession, so to "pop" them (meaning to pawn them) is something that only someone on their deathbed would do.

Sunday, 27 May 2007

Difficulties one can have when purchasing apples

In an effort to do as little harm to the environment as possible, I have started looking at where my fruit and vegetables come from. Ideally, I thought, I should buy fruit and veg from Britain, or at least from Europe. That would save all the costs of moving the fruit round the world, because we all know that transport causes loads of problems when it comes to pollution, greenhouse gases, and forming vapour trails which have been shown to be another factor in global warming.

So I looked. And looked. And found strawberries. But it occurred to me that there isn't really any fruit which is in season in Britain at the moment. I found some beans and some lettuce and other vegetables, but very little fruit. There were some pears from Holland (and also from Germany last week), and some apples from France. That cheered me a little, but then I remembered that pears and apples grow in Autumn, so they should not be ripe yet either.

I had put this curious fact to the back of my mind until I got home and realised that some of the apples I had bought (all of them Pink Lady apples, all the same price, on neighbouring parts of the same shelf) were from France, and some were from South Africa!! I felt betrayed, tricked, and also BAD.

How could this be? The supermarket has chosen to source their fruit from both places, so presumably the quality and price are similar. On the one hand the South African apples are expensive because they need carrying over here across the world. But they may be cheaper in other ways. Maybe the labour there is cheaper and they run their farms better. Maybe apples are in season there, so they need less fertiliser and need no heating or greenhouses. Maybe the trees are more productive, so they take up less land. Some of these reasons are environmental as well as economic. And we don't know which reasons apply. How can we save the environment when we don't have enough information to make an informed decision?

What we do know is that it is important to look at the impacts and prioritise:

Maybe you don't care about the amount of fertiliser that is being used. In most parts of the world it is causing no problems yet in the Gulf of Mexico there are thousands of square kilometers of "dead" ocean, where all of the life has been killed off because of the chemicals put on the crops in the farmland around the Mississippi and Missouri rivers (see "The Skeptical Environmentalist" for arguments showing that this is actually necessary, otherwise we couldn't feed people).

Maybe you don't worry about global warming. Personally I think that the consequences of global warming could be severe and cause problems to humans, animals and plants alike. Global warming happened on Venus. It is the hottest planet in the solar system even though it is much further from the Sun than Mercury. Greenhouse gases caused this to happen at some point in history. Yes, I know, Venus is not the same as Earth, and it is closer to the Sun as well. But this shows that greenhouse gases are important at some level. Anyway, I don't claim that I have any proof that we need to worry about global warming, but nobody in the world knows whether the consequences will be insignificant, problematic, serious or catastrophic, and any of these are possible.

Maybe you don't worry about running out of land to grow food on. I haven't read extensively on this but I can say that we have been making decisions for many years about whether to use more fertiliser and grow more intensively (or use GM crops) or whether we flatten some wilderness and use that instead. Both of these options bother me, and I think I'd prefer to keep some wilderness. What do you think?

In any case, we must choose where we stand on these issues, because your choice of apples has impacts in all of these areas and probably others. As to our lack of knowledge on the subject and lack of guidance on apples in particular, I'll look into this a bit more when my exams are finished, and I'll let you know if I find out anything important.

Sunday, 20 May 2007

Advice #8

It's good to be smooth. If your metallic sample isn't smooth enough, it's hard to analyse it under a microscope. It's also really nice to know that you are the smoothest kid on the block. So my advice to you today is

Be Smooth...
Use mild green fairy liquid, smooth your nails, moisturise, talk in a deep, slow, clear, confident voice, don't ever get flustered, and, above all, wear really dark sunglasses.

Don't let anyone in the world out-smooth you, ever.

Saturday, 19 May 2007

Seed protection

For the second time this term, I have found myself wasting most of the morning watching a squirrel. I like squirrels, and enjoy watching them nibbling on things, running up and down trees, and generally enjoying being outside. But this one is a silly squirrel...

She came into the courtyard where I live, pausing once in a while to look around, checking for predators. When she stopped, her tail took a moment to catch up, finally ending up curling back on itself so it stood almost upright. She knew her target. She moved round the base of the tree, checking how it looked from all angles. She wouldn't want to make a mistake and end up in a bad situation. But she has been here before, and knows this tree is worth the dangers that come with it. This tree has seeds. What the squirrel did not realise is that the seeds are actually intended for birds, and not for little squirrels like her. Nevertheless, she eventually took the bold move of going onto the tree. The clouds looked down on her from the sky, they probably realised that the seeds are not for her! But they didn't say anything, they just grew and darkened, preparing themselves for the shower that came later.

With the seeds in sight, she dashed up the trunk, and climbed onto the bird feeder. She lost her inhibitions, but I had to tell her that she is not allowed seeds. So I dashed downstairs, and out across the grass towards the tree. She was occupied with her seeds so she didn't realise until I got right up to her. But just as I reached the tree, she heard me suddenly, as if woken from a dream, and dashed up the tree.

Determined to make my point, I dashed after her. I don't often climb trees, but it's fun, so I moved as quickly from branch to branch, getting as high as I dared until the branches get so thin that they bent perilously as I put my weight onto them. I looked up. The squirrel was perched on a tiny twig at the top of the tree, being buffered from side to side by the wind. There's always a wind up high, but particularly today, it was very gusty. But she had beaten me. I tried to stare her out for a while, but she won that too and I went inside.

Thinking I had gone completely, she edged (a little more cautiously than before) to the seeds and started eating again.

The process repeated itself again before she realised the point I was making and ran away. In the meantime, there are very few seeds left for the birds, but there aren't many birds either, so it'll probably be fine.

Jo has watched me with the squirrel on both occasions, and finds it very funny. She knows a lot about animals and thinks the squirrel is pregnant, so I trust her. She is going out with Chris, who is a Southampton fan. Southampton were unlucky not to get promoted to the Premiership this year, and will no doubt succeed next year (or so Chris hopes). Chris likes economics, sport and musicals. Jo likes musicals too, but prefers physics to economics. She lives near me, even when we go home from Uni, since we are from the same area. I thought I should introduce you to these people, because they are pretty amazing, and I will probably mention them again in future posts...

Wednesday, 16 May 2007

Learn to love your nose

Your nose is cool. Not unreservedly, but it is pretty cool. I know nothing about the physiology of noses, so I can't comment on that. I also don't know if your one is a little fatter than you would like, or maybe too big, or maybe a bit crooked.

These things are beside the point, things which people say and others repeat in order to give noses a bad name. Think of all the things you can do with your nose. You can blow it, wrinkle it and even flare your nostrils. I learned yesterday what that means (I had only read it in books before), and you can do it if you are angry, but you can also do it for fun, just to make your nostrils look that little bit bigger!

And your nose does so much in return. It allows you to smell and taste, for one thing. A life without smelling or tasting would not only be boring, it would stop you from realising when someone has put something weird in your sandwich, or your milk is just starting to go bad. But this is not the main gift which your nose so unselfishly gives you: it allows you to
B R E A T H E
Now that's pretty cool. You can even breathe and keep your mouth closed, so you don't have to open your mouth when you are eating - because that's rude. Your nose is a very selfless protuberance. So often, you get ill, and your nose takes all the flak. You don't feel bad, you just have a blocked nose. Let me explain: If I was to tell you that I cared about you so much that I would fill myself to the brim with snot to prevent you getting ill, you would think (a) that I was weird, no, very very weird; AND, more importantly (b) that it would be a pretty amazing sacrifice for you.

So yes, noses are weird, but they are also amazing.

Get to know your nose.

Give it a squeeze, first in the direction that closes the nostrils, then in the other direction, so your fingers are above and below the tip of your nose. Give it a stroke, along its length, feeling how it blends into your face. Wash it, exfoliate it, powder it too, they like that.

Then you will really LOVE your nose

Friday, 11 May 2007

Das Klassensystem in England

[Bevor ich anfange: wenn eine Deutsche die folgenden Sätze liest, bitte sag mir wenn ich viele Fehler geschrieben habe]

Heute werde ich euch zeigen, wie ich das englischen Klassensystem verstehe. In Deutschland ist das Klassensystem etwas anders. Deshalb habe ich Stundlang mit einer Freundin aus Deutschland namens Kathrin darüber geredet. Sie hat sogar ein Buch gelesen, das alles erklaert. Ich werde sie nachfragen, wie es heißt, damit ich euch ihm empfehlen kann.

In der Vergangenheit gab es drei Klassen:
1) Die Unterklasse waren die Mehrheit, aber sie hatten keine Macht. Sie waren Leute, die schmutzige Arbeit getan haben, entweder auf dem Land, oder in Fabriken, Minen usw.
2) Die Mittelklasse waren normalerweise Berufsleute. Sie haben sich so gesehen, dass sie besser als die Unterklasse waren.
3) Die Oberklasse waren eine winzigkleine Minderheit, die viele Macht hatten. Sie waren von der Mittelklasse etwas beeinflusst, hatten aber sehr wenig Kontakt mit der Unterklasse. Sie waren der Adel, sie waren Reich und hatten viel Land.

Ich mag die Deutsche Wörter Unterklasse und Oberklasse, weil auf englisch "underclass" irgendwie subjektiv ist, aber es klingt doch besser als "lower class".

Naja, ich wollte gar nicht das alte Klassensystem beschreiben. Fast jeder Student (der die Naturwissenschaften nicht studieren) lernt unendlich viel darüber, und sie können natürlich viel besser als ich einem Einsicht geben.

Ein Klassensystem gibt es noch, aber es hat sich ja geändert. Die drei Range sind nicht so klar, trotzdem weiß jeder wer eine wichtiger Sozialstand als sich hat. Leider sehr viele Sachen in England gehört zu eine bestimmte Klasse. Die "Mittelklasse" sprechen mit einem Akzent aus Südengland: der sogennante "Received pronunciation". Im Gegensatz redet die Unterklasse in regionale Akzente. Die Mittelklasse trinkt Wein, die Unterklasse aber Bier. Die Mittelklasse tragen Hemde, die Unterklasse tragen z.B. ein Pullover mit Kapuze (ich suche eine Übersetzung für 'hoodie'!) welche wahrscheinlich zu groß ist. Die zur Unterklasse gehörend Leute verwenden oft Schimpfwörter, die zur Mittelklasse gehörend Leute nicht. Die Mittelklasse sind stolz auf ihre Ausbildung, und wollen normalerweise an der Uni gehen. Die Unterklasse stehen wahrscheinlich eher auf Geld. Die Unterklasse rauchen, die Mittelklasse selten. Die meisten Mittelklassler gehen regelmäßig in die Kirche. Wenn es ein politisch Wahl gibt, stimmen sie für verschiedene Parteien, im Fernsehe gucken sie verschiedene Sendungen an.

Die Liste geht immer weiter. Alles, was man tut, ist wichtig. Sie sind nur Stereotype, aber meistens stimmen sie noch. Es gibt viele Leute, die versuchen in eine höheren Standpunkt zu kommen. Sie tun einfach Sachen, die zu die Mittelklasse gehören.

Ich merke oft Unterschiede, weil ich beide Seiten zum Teil gesehen habe. Bis mein Vater gestorben ist, war ich in eine Staatsschule. Das hat eine breite Mischung von Leute. Danach war ich in eine Privatschule. Die Leute waren alle in der Mittelklasse. Ich habe zweimal in Fabrike gearbeitet. Fabrike enthälten Leute, die ihr ganzes Leben dort arbeiten werden. Sie sind in der Unterklasse.

Mir wäre besser, wenn es solche System nicht gäbe. Meistens ist es kein Problem, aber es teilt manchmal Leute auch. Es gibt Leute, die haben nie jemand aus eine andere Klasse kennengelernt. Es ist einfach, ein ganze Gruppe in der Gesellschaft zu ignorieren. Manche Leute sind deshalb sehr unhöflich. Aber ich finde es auch schlimm, das Leute gar nicht verstehen können, dass andere Leute anders leben.

Ich schreibe an diesen Thema, weil es mir eingefallen ist, wieso ich Rugbyhemde nicht mag. Sie werden hauptsächlich (aber natürlich nicht immer) von Leute, die zur Mittelklasse gehören getragen, Leute die die Unterklasse nicht verstehen. Rugby wird erst wenig in Staatsschulen gespielt, aber es wird in Privatschulen sehr ernst genommen. Es wird fast ein Klischee: Mittelklassleute tragen ihre Hemde (besonders Rugbyhemde) mit Kragen auf. Ich bin nicht sauer, auf Leute die einen tragen, aber ich mag nicht selbst einen tragen, weil wenn man ein T-shirt trägt, kann man zu beide Klasse gehören!

Leute teilen sich immer ab. Sie denken, ihr Teil ist besser als die anderen. Aber es ist total falsch. Wir brauchen andere Leute verstehen, und brauchen manchmal ein Mittel dafür. Aber es gibt sehr wenig. Fußball ist eine Verbindung, ab und zu die Medien auch, oder Musik. Aber es gibt sehr wenig. Das Klassensystem wird nicht bald aussterben.

Wednesday, 9 May 2007

what a waste of time

Further to the post below:
Yes, I'm still not working, how terrible am I?!

Anyway, I did a quiz and it got me just right, although I was a bit surprised it did. Have a go, see if it works for you. Maybe it's a good quiz, but maybe it didn't even get me right, just got my perception of myself down to a tee.

Diary Entry

I have had a bit of a rollercoaster of a week (the last 7 days, not just since Monday) so I'm feeling a bit drained. Life is very stressful at the moment, for many many reasons. Some of the things that have happened this week have been good; I spent a very pleasant evening with Clare the other day. I exchanged a couple of very pleasant e-mails with a friend who I haven't spoken to properly for a while. I won a game of chess. I did a small amount of work successfully. I saw my family at the weekend. I had a really nice music rehearsal last Thursday.

Don't get me started on the bad things.

I was pleased to see a UN report on the risks of using biofuels. I have been skeptical of them for a while but not really known why. I suppose it is because it is still something that burns fuel and puts the carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. Anyway, I'm sure they will not be a major solution to our environmental problems.

I must get on. I have a ridiculous amount of work due in, because two supervisors have imposed short deadlines at once. Just another bad thing for the list.

Sorry for the boring post, next time will be fascinating I'm sure. Or something

Saturday, 5 May 2007

My grudge against air

There are two malicious types of air, or possibly more, I'm not sure:

1) WIND: When wind comes, it makes me angry. My problem with it, is that it deliberately tries to annoy people. When the wind stops, the world doesn't end. No. Even in big windy storms there are lulls, as if Mr Wind ran out of breath, and is getting it back, just so he can blow at me again and frustrate me. When you cycle, the wind stops when you stop, but slaps you across the face as soon as you try to go anywhere. I sometimes go outside to work, and it is really calm until the moment I put down my papers, when it picks up and blows them everywhere. It would be fine if the wind just stopped and didn't come back.

N.B. The world would be a worse place with no breezes ever, thought I should just add that

2) FANS: These are sinister and terrible air devices. They exist to subvert our minds and make us all insane. They are like the little moving "Smileys" on msn that never get tired... they are just a low continuous noise, and the longer they goes on, the more freakish it is that they is still going. Without realising it, you are forced to raise your voice slightly. Listen to a fan, and you will hear the malevolent force behind it, which will slowly catch up with you like the tortoise catching the hare, with a horrible inevitability about it. Give it a couple of hours, and you will be tense and grumpy and not know why. Give it a day or so, and even the strongest of us will crack, screaming, curled up on the floor, as the last bits of humanity have been sucked away by this unrelenting machine. Beware, and never spend too long in a room with fans, air conditioning etc etc, unless you have backup. They can't penetrate the minds of many united people, let's hope they never learn to.

Thursday, 3 May 2007

Advice #7

Don't try to teach a pig how to sing:
It will be a waste of your time and it will annoy the pig

Monday, 30 April 2007

A drinking schedule

You probably realised this a long time ago, so I apologise for boring you; but if you didn't know this, maybe you'll be interested as I was.

English people (maybe others too) have a very precise timetable for drinking their daily caffeine. Many people who I have asked have told me that the follwing is their daily routine, so if anyone says "do you want a cup of tea or coffee?", then they will always know the answer without thinking.

When you wake up: tea
The rest of the morning: coffee
Immediately after lunch: coffee
The rest of the afternoon: tea
After dinner: coffee
The rest of the evening: varies I think, it's unusual to have coffee late at night, so maybe a tea or even a fruit tea, though I may be wrong

Having found this from many people, I remembered that in the materials department, they sell coffee in the morning (unless you ask for tea, as I do) and tea in the afternoon, which backs up my findings.

Is the system I have described accurate or complete? Please send you comments and corrections, as I am not sure

I am weird on this score... I only drink tea anyway, so I never have to choose!

Friday, 27 April 2007

Advice #6

Eat your greens!

Monday, 23 April 2007

An Iranian Perspective

I was speaking to an Iranian man a week or so ago, when the sailors were taken by Iran. I don't know what actually happened to the sailors or who was right, and I didn't bring up the subject at the time although I was tempted...
Anyway, we were discussing the weather and he said

"these dayes Iran is like your contry"

I just don't know whether that is true in more ways than simply the weather...

Wednesday, 18 April 2007

Cardigans Update

It emerged on the Cardigans website that the band have postponed work on a new album indefinitely because Nina does not want to do it. I am very disappointed about that, considering that their last two albums have been very special and it would be nice to see the band progress further.

Magnus (the bassist) writes an "Ask the band" section on their website and made the announcement on the 11th of this month. Obviously any comments are from his side of things, and there have been arguments between Nina and Magnus before, notably that they both wanted to write lyrics for the songs on Gran Turismo. But I believe they have been on good terms for a few years now so the news should be reliable from Magnus.

The details from Nina's point of view are that she would like some time off and may even record an album with her solo project "A Camp", which produced an album in 2001, also called "A Camp". I have not heard the whole album, but I believe it carries on the progression between the spooky Gran Turismo and the more relaxed, country-music-influenced Long Gone Before Daylight. Anyway, recently Nina has been very busy. She had an acting role in the film "Om Gud Vill" (God Willing) last year, has done several fundraisers, has featured in the next Manic Street Preachers single called "Your Love Alone Is Not Enough" (out on April 30th) and has done a book reading of one of her favourite books ("the 1978 feminist classic "Crème Fraîche" by Danish author Suzanne Brøgger" - I quote the cardigans website). She has achieved all this since last year (they toured for their last album until the Autumn).

The rest of the band were ready to start rehearsing and recording, so I guess they are as disappointed as me. They all have lives and families though, so they'll find things to do. Magnus has his solo project Righteous Boy to continue if he wants to.

Maybe a longer break will make them fresh again to change their style as they have done throughout their careers. I'm still looking forward to the next album, and hoping there will be one.

Advice #5

Look before you leap

Actually, if you want an interesting life, don't look every now and again and see what happens

Monday, 9 April 2007

The environment, Part I

I am at home from university for a couple of weeks, which means coming out into the countryside. I go out walking the dog, which means I can enjoy the fresh air and think at the same time...

I want to save the environment, and a lot of people think like me. I look at the countryside, and I think it's a shame that even in the countryside, every square inch is managed farmland or there for some economic purpose.

I do my best not to leave things on that use up power - all those things on stand-by get turned off if I am away for any length of time. I get very frustrated that you can only get rid of stand-by on some things by turning them off at the wall. For instance, my stereo is plugged in behind a chest of drawers, so it's very difficult to turn off completely. And there are lots of things we can do, like using public transport instead of a car, and recycling.

I think the best thing we can do for the environment is to put money into researching "green technology". I'd love all our power to be wind power, solar power, or even nuclear fusion in future. And if we can do that, we can produce hydrogen with no costs to the environment, for all these hydrogen cars and things.

There is no doubt in my mind that environmental problems are real. Global warming is real, over-fertilistion leading to eutrophication is real, pollution is real, the hole in the ozone layer is a real problem, extinctions and loss of habitats are real problems. And the list goes on.

I would like to see some section of the world that is unaffected by humans so we know what it would be like, and because I find that beautiful. Just seeing the birds, rabbits and foxes in the hedgerows and fields is a great experience, and I am pleased to be able to experience it. It is something worth protecting.

Advice #4

Don't boil your head - it'll hurt if you do

Saturday, 31 March 2007

Football's ups and downs

Starting with the downs, I have been following the England team's progress in trying to qualify for the European Championships next year. They have no reason to be worried playing against any team in the group, and yet they remain in 4th place out of 7 in the qualifying table. I do not expect to win the World Cup or anything, but the players are good enough to be a good challenge for any in the world, so qualifying for big events should be no problem, especially against teams like those in our group (Estonia, Israel, Macedonia, Andorra, Croatia and Russia).

I am also not a person who criticizes everyone on principle. I think we were unlucky in the World Cup last year, not to get further than we did, given our good side and a good coach (barring his choice to take Theo Walcott who he had never seen play).
Now we have a coach who messes with the formation every game and who is always happy and confident no matter how well the team plays. Sometimes players need criticism. Another of his faults is his insistence in putting Gerard and Lampard together. I don't know why they can't play well together, but they have had enough chances, and they can't, so one of them needs to be left out of the first team. In their place, how about David Beckham? He really cares about playing for his country. He has always given his best, and is one of the best passers in the world. He also scores goals, which seems to have been a problem, particularly against Israel last week.

During the game on Wednesday, the fans were booing and shouting a lot, which will never help anything (and you have to remember that these players and manager etc are all people with feelings. However, I feel their frustration too, because Steve McClaren does not seem to have the ability to get everything out of his players. How about a change?

The good news about football is that my team Shrewsbury Town have just made it into the playoffs, since they have not lost a game since 2006. Let's hope it continues today!

Tuesday, 27 March 2007

Silly Putty

I bought silly putty today from a shop that was about to close down, so I thought I would tell you about it. It's pretty cool stuff

Like other polymers, it's made of long chains of atoms. These chains are linked together a little bit, but the main force holding it together is that the chains are all tangled up. So if you stick some sticky putty covering a hole, it will gradually drip through, as the chains untangle themselves (in GCSE science you learn that atoms are always vibrating - the chains actually shake themselves free of their neighbours)
But if you pull them really quickly apart with your hands, they can't untangle that quickly, so the only way they can react is to snap. Anytime you do things quickly, it will react like a solid, but if you do it slowly it is like a liquid. So it bounces and it flows, if you pull it slowly it stretches, or quickly it snaps. Yay so much fun

Advice #3

If you can't be good, be careful

Sunday, 25 March 2007

My weekend

At 2am last night (or probably 3, since the clocks went forward) I was climbing a tree. It's much harder when it's pitch black with no stars. But it was fun. You should try it. It was all part of a lovely 24hrs with Sonia, who is an old friend from school. I speak to her very often on the phone so we keep in contact and exchange all our gossip, but I hadn't visited her at her house since Summer 2003, so it brought back lots of memories from last time

Friday, 23 March 2007

Shopping story

I went into the supermarket today just like normal. But when I got inside the doorway, it didn't feel like normal. I looked around, puzzled. Everything looked normal, it just didn't feel the same. There were some people at the checkout, others gathered round the latest bargains, deciding whether two for £5 for better quality cheese than usual is really worth having, others collecting a basket. Nothing was out of order... but I still didn't feel right.

On an impulse, I left. I put back the trolley back in the park and headed down the road. But where I should have gone straight, I took the road on the left, where the delivery lorries went, squeezing through the entrance like a fat man holding in his stomach as he pushes towards the only empty seat in the cinema. The road sloped down, leading to a secret world underground. Suddenly, the road opened out into a bay, filled with bins, some for card, some for glass, rows and rows of them. There was a smell of oil over everything, that blended with the acrid smell of the food bins to attack the back of your throat like it was being rubbed with the blade of a blunt, rusty knife. The bay was murky like the windows of a London bus. Looking back on it now, I must have been in a trance or something, because I don't know what made me go further.

I got to the far end, where there were big metal doors going from floor to the roof ten, twelve, fifteen feet up. I turned to see where I had come, and could dimly see the light at the entrance. Suddenly, a bang made me jump out of my skin. I spun round, expecting the doors to fly open and a lorry to come out. Or something worse. Instead, the echoes just died to nothingness, and then it was silent again. Then again: this time a rumble, like a train going past your ear. I looked around nervously, trying to locate where it had come from, but it was so loud that the echoes were disorientating. There were some chutes at the side, but nothing came in or out of them. There was something around me, in the gloom, a monster of JCB proportions, possibly alive, possibly another machine. Behind the doors? Behind one of the rows of bins? Maybe it was at the entrance, trapping me inside? Or even in the chutes. The next sound was a squeak, or it could have been a scream. It was certainly closer. It was accompanied by the loudest bang yet. Finally then I saw it...

That evening I found myself on my bed, still shaking, shuddering as the memory replayed again and again. I had a cup of tea, then a whole pot, and finally I could sleep. It was three forty-five in the morning. Maybe tomorrow will be better, and I can get my shopping.

Thursday, 22 March 2007

The Cardigans

The title of this blog is not a very good one, so I have left it off the top at the moment.

I thought I should just explain that when I say I love cardigans, I don't mean that I have a lot of jumpers with gaps down the front. I love music by the band called the Cardigans. Let me tell you a bit about them.

The Cardigans are Nina (the singer, who writes the lyrics), Peter (guitarist, who writes most of the music, although it is adapted by everyone as it is practiced), Magnus (bassist), Bengt (drummer, composed "Nil" on "Gran Turismo") and Lasse (plays second guitar or keyboard). They have been releasing records for 14 years now, so they are pretty well established. In fact, in terms of their popularity, they are probably past their peak.
When they started out, they moved from their tiny little town to Malmo (which should have some exciting symbol over the o, but I can't be bothered to find out how to do that). After two years together, they released their first album Life, closely followed by Emmerdale. The names Cardigans and Emmerdale were mainly a slightly childish way of trying to break into the British market, particularly because their favourite music was Black Sabbath, along with other bands like the Smiths.
They don't sound like that though, and they never have. Their first music is carefree pop music. Even when the songs are sad, the tune and the tone of Nina's vocals are cheerful and uplifting.
The next album, First Band on the Moon, became slightly darker, although the effect was similar. The song that most people have heard of from this, was Lovefool, which became famous by being on the soundtrack to Romeo and Juliet. The album was released in 1996.
Gran Turismo was released in 1998, and this is when I started buying their albums. It is the most spooky album they have ever made, and when you first listen to it, it puts you on edge slightly, but it is well balanced with songs Erase/Rewind, Nil and My Favourite Game and it is a beautiful album. The tension in the album was also in the band at the time, and they argued for much of the tour. Once the tour was finished, they took a long break, and pursued solo careers and had families. Most or all of the members are now in long-term relationships and several have children.
Eventually, after around four years gap, they produced Long Gone Before Daylight. This time they were not living the rock-and-roll lifestyle, instead they were just making beautiful music, fitting it around family commitments. This is the most peaceful and beautiful of their albums, and it is their favourite, in part because they got rid of their producer and made it themselves. Without a producer to publicise it, it was not as successful as their other albums, but it is at least as good.
In 2006 they made another album, Super Extra Gravity. They decided to return to their producer, who made the album more edgy, but the sound was did not change beyond all recognition. These are probably my most-played songs at the moment, and it is another fantastic album. I saw them play last summer and they were amazing. They sound as tuneful live as on the albums, just with all the magic of hearing everything live instead of crammed into a circular piece of metal. Nina's voice is the best voice I know, but it is only special because of the other members who make up the sound they produce.
Have a listen!

Monday, 19 March 2007

Advice #2

Know your onions

Pirates!!!

I had been reminiscing about the "good-old days" and being friendless and name-called at the age of 12. It seems like everyone else around had been bullied more recently than that, so I don't know whether it says more about me or them. Anyway, people are so bloody friendly round here that you can be a prick and nobody will even tell you to shut up... in short, I like to have a bit of nastiness just as an incentive for everyone to become a better person. Not too much nastiness though, that would be depressing, but just a bit.
We had a pirate party on Saturday. Don't ask why, it will be hard to explain and you wouldn't like it even if I did tell you. But while I was getting drunk I met someone who was really good at being nasty. I was (i hope) equally nasty back, and it was banter the way it should be, the kind where it's all very funny, but neither is sure whether the other is actually nice at all. And I feel a lot better for it. Admittedly I didn't feel better recovering from the hangover on Sunday, but that was the fault of the rum, not the rudeness. All in all, the party was very fun, with straw on the floor to make it more like a tavern and lots of pirates going "yarrrrgh" all night, so don that stripy shirt, britches, boots, and a silly hat and become a pirate!

Thursday, 15 March 2007

Advice #1

Watch where you're going!

Tuesday, 13 March 2007

Diary Entry

To stop myself getting all philosophical every time I write a post, I am putting a general diary entry in:
When I was on my own on Sunday, I got all grumpy and could not shake it off. I hope I didn't annoy anyone with all of my moaning about work and other things, but everything was going wrong. I was stressing about work, future plans, girl stuff and other friend stuff, and it all added up to something horrible. At midday today I was ready to cry (and carefully selecting a shoulder to cry on should the need arise).
Then I got some work right and gave blood and suddenly life was dandy again. And to make it even better, I had tea with materials-duncan at the most amazing tea shop which has opened between the Arts' Theatre and the Market in the town centre. It has over 100 types of tea, and so far I have had 8, and tried others when I go with friends. They are all amazing, and they come in a pot that needs "plunging" to keep it from brewing too much and it is all very civilised. I feel a little less civilised after asking to bring in hot food the other day (apparently the smell is very annoying to other people and it stops them enjoying their tea, so it's a no) but it is an amazing shop and it even has nice cakes too.
This evening I saw clare (my ex) and it was all very pleasant. She came to work on my computer and we were very sociable, I am so glad we still get on, even though we didn't for several months after splitting up last year. And I am learning all about fusion reactors, which is fascinating!
So the week can continue, happy again, as it should be!