Assorted Things

I had an eye test the other week; back at Batemans, who are awesome people and who’d actually managed to keep my details on file from my last test with them in 2007.

During this particular eye test, I discovered two things:

1) I cannot now read the second line of the chart without glasses. (And if the top line had been something less blatantly an A- a C or a G or an O for example – I don’t think I could have managed that).

2) I’ve jumped prescription again since my last go and need something stronger. Which explains the afternoon headaches I’ve been getting (which is good, because it proves I was right to make the ‘Cataloguing + Headaches = Bad Eyes’ association).

Interestingly, since I was told that my glasses are too weak for me, and that the headaches are almost certainly caused by the same, they’ve got worse. Sigh.

Stupidest Book So Far
One of the things I like about this sort of job is the massive boost you gain to general knowledge. Today, for example, I discovered that there is a provision in the LCSH for a classmark that translates to “Motion pictures, specific aspects, lesbian vampire films”. A product of the 1970s, apparently. And there was me thinking Bill Watterson just made those titles up…

The other thing I discovered today is that it’s possible to get published with even a completely retar- uh, rhetorical- premise. I discovered a book which plugged it’s contents by asking something like “Are some of Shakespeare’s heroine’s actually saying sexually obscene but funny lines?”.

For the one person on the Internet who has never seen or read Shakespeare, that’s rather like saying “Did Shakespeare write plays?” Or, more accurately, like saying “I haven’t really read Shakespeare before now, but I want to write a book and seem a bit risque”. Impressed I wasn’t.

Still, it could be worse. It could be an Amazon marketing ploy.

Customer Relationship Management FAIL
Amazon, as all the world knows, periodically send you emails to nudge you in the direction of offers. This normally involves getting an email that says something like “As somebody who has previously bought Flashman and the Dragon we thought you might be interested in Master & Commander,” or “People who have previously bought Black Books on DVD may be interested in our DVD Television Show Sale! Up to 80% off!!”

They’re enough of a nuisance that I’ve got them filtered to Mark As Read when they appear in my inbox, but they’re not sufficiently stupid that I Skip the inbox altogether, and sometimes I take a look at the contents, just in case there’s a genuinely good deal. It does happen.

So this was painfully shoddy, even for them:

Seriously, what the Hell? How does \'Buying Tintin\' equate to \'Wants Barbie\'!?

Seriously, what the Hell? How does 'Buying Tintin' equate to 'Wants Barbie'!?

1800 hours of work? Nah, leave it for Dave.

Someone yesterday contrived to tell me something I never got told before: every 10 credits of study is supposed to equate to one hundred hours of actual study. Or, in other words, in the next twelve months they want me to put down 1,800 hours. Assuming I did it all at once, without stopping to play games, get paid, or drink coffee, or eat, or sleep, or look at pebbles, or see other people, that would be 75 straight days of work.

Hell’s teeth..

On the plus side, actually did some being sociable yesterday, which was fun. I tell you, there’s something very rewarding about sitting drunkenly in a pub and arguing about the relative merits of cataloguing, and whether it makes more sense to classify subdivisions with letters or symbols or numbers. (Also it makes a nice change to be able to do that sort of thing without everyone making snarky comments, I’m just saying…)

O, and because I like to spread aggravation around, here’s that stupid moralistic nonsense I was talking about and managed to dig out – note my emphasis in the first line:

This is a story about four people named Everybody, Somebody, Anybody and Nobody.
There was an important job to be done and Everybody was sure that Somebody would do it.
Anybody could have done it, but Nobody did it.
Somebody got angry about that, because it was Everybody’s job.
Everybody thought that Anybody could do it, but Nobody realized that Everybody wouldn’t do it.
It ended up that Everybody blamed Somebody when Nobody did what Anybody could have done.

Really. Did it? It ended up with Everbody cross because Nobody did the job, did it? Did it bollocks. These are proper nouns you’re waving about here, you tossers, and you can’t go crying to mommy when you go and shoot yourself in the foot.

Note that this would have worked perfectly well if they just said “If a job needs doing, and you can do that job, why not do that job yourself, thus ensuring that the job will get done. That is good practice, that is”. O, wait, they can’t do that, can they? That wouldn’t be smart.

So let’s look again at this story about four people. But since most people don’t go around with names like “Everybody” and “Anybody” let’s do a bit of on-the-fly localisation, so we can be sure that we can all relate to these people – let’s make these hapless office drones people like us, so as to boost the impact of the message:

This is a story about four people named Amy, Barry, Claire and Dave.
There was an important job to be done and Amy was sure that Barry would do it.
Claire could have done it, but Dave did it.
Barry got angry about that, because it was Amy’s job.
Amy thought that Claire could do it, but Dave realized that Amy wouldn’t do it.
It ended up that Amy blamed Barry when Dave did what Claire could have done.

What’s the problem? The job got done, didn’t it? The moral of the sad little contrivance isn’t “do your own dirty work” (a perfectly valid message, if only they’d thought to put it in) but “leave it to Dave”.

That’s not just the message if you change the names over, that’s the message all the time, because we’re not dealing with concepts like “nobody did the job,” we’re dealing with people: “Mr. David J. Nobody did the job, even though that annoyed old Miss Amy Everybody.”

Honestly, I fail to see how the people who come up with this stuff don’t realise that it makes no damn sense. You’d think they’d at least read it back to be sure it means what they hoped it would, even if they can’t be trusted with anything as complicated as communicating an idea to another human being.

…Ah, I’m probably being harsh. Let’s face it, the only way that kind of thing could get that badly screwed up is if they all left it to each other, and the unpaid intern had to lash it together on the way to the seminar.

Sisyphean Spreadsheets and Eterminable Labours.

So life continues. Well, for the most part. I still get not quite enough sleep, but I’m marginally less frantic at the weekends now, so I can at least catch up on it then, except I appear to have misplaced the knack of sleeping past noon, which is a shame.

Work continues, though I am only working another fifteen and a half days this month, as I must use holiday time before my contract ends on the 31st.

I don’t usually talk much about work in places as public as Where the Entire World May google it with a Search Engine, but I am amazingly glad that I saved that time up; the rotation I’m working in now is just soul destroying. I am comparing two spreadsheets, each of which contains a data dump. Sheet 1 is data telling us what electronic publications we had access to on the old system. Sheet 2 tells us what electronic publications we had on the new system last August. I am supposed to do a lot of copy-pasting and check that we’re not missing anything important.

Specifically, I’m checking that we’ve not been missing anything important for the last academic year. Personally, I think if it was both missing and even slightly important, someone may have noticed over the course of the last academic year, but that opinion probably wouldn’t go down too well…

I am the third Grad Trainee this year to work on these spreadsheets – note ‘this year,’ I’ll come back to that in a minute – so this has been going on for eleven months. We started, two hundred and thirty eight days ago with the first publication on the list, 19th Century Music (which files before A, of course, because it begins with a numeral). Just before lunch today – half an elephant pregnancy later – I finished checking ‘Corruption Matters’.

It has taken us eleven months to get an eighth of the way through the alphabet. At this rate, we will not be above half-way before they change the system again, and it’s really quite hard to get motivated under those circumstances; it’s like being asked to bail out the Elan lakes with an egg cup. Assuming the egg cup has a hole drilled in it, and you keep having to stop and compare the content of the Elan lakes with the contents of the Aswan dam to make sure they both still contain water…

What’s worse, is that – I said I’d come to this – it turns out other trainees have been here before us. I only discovered this yesterday: the spreadsheets are from August, I assumed this stuff had only been invented in August. O no, these spreadsheets were only invented in August, but there were old spreadsheets before them. (You know that scene in comics where the people who’ve been lost in the desert, but have been following an ever-increasing number of footprints suddenly realise they’re not on a massive well-used highway, but have been walking around the same dune for seventeen panels? It’s like that.)

Some years ago some poor scunners got stuck in a single rotation for a whole year. For the guys Lending and Library Support I can see that would’ve been awesome, but the poor girl that got lumbered with the antedescendant of this white elephant was begging to be let out apparently, although it sounds as though she got rescued in the end, and we adopted this rotating system, thank God. (If that sounds like it was you, incidentally, that was forever asking Bill to be allowed to do something connected to either the rest of the library, or just to subject support or anything then give me a shout and I’ll see if I can’t confirm that and then buy you a very very large gin.)

It’s crushingly dispiriting, is the trouble. Given the choice between getting paid for this month’s work and walking three times over hot coals and then just getting paid for sitting at home with my feet in a tub of water for the month, I’d honestly take the poxy coals. It’s not like anything I do will make a significant impact on this damn thing, anyway – which is the heart of the problem, really.

I would advise anybody who finds themselves calculating how long it is until they can take their tea break, or adjusting their tea breaks so when they get back to the desk they only have an hour left until hometime, etc., that they should be thinking of changing jobs. I shouldn’t, of course, because I’ll be skint in two months, and a student after that and once that’s done I shall get a job in a library that involves, in any way at all, doing something useful and less interminable than this (cataloguing would be a prime example here, but since I like doing that anyway, it loses some of it’s impact; I’m still trying to learn Bliss in my spare time.)

Urrgh. And that is the end of my tea break. On the plus side, I’m effectively working for a fortnight this week, and it’s not all spreadsheets (because I get Monday mornings and all of Fridays off). Also, more to the point, I’ve got an extension cable for my headphones so at least I can now listen to KUSC while I wonder who’s been drilling holes in all my bloody teacups…

Done having a strop now. Going to find coffee and bemoan the fact the office is too hot.

A highly articulate outburst

I was having an e-mail conversation yesterday, and the subject of people driving everywhere rather than using public transport came up. As the only car driver present on the mailing list, I got asked for my opinion – specifically in relation to my having taken the Park & Ride into Oxford, rather than having tried to park in the city centre, & having started to write a short reply, I found several hundred words had passed.

Most of them, I decided, on re-reading what I’d written, relatively sensible ones.

At this point, I’ll point out I’ve made barely any revisions to this theory – bar my square-bracketed clarification of fare changes, and the re-setting of the line-breaks my gmail account put in this is just what I churned out last night, but I think there might be something there. Lord knows we’ve all got enough money to fritter it away trying to prop up a brassic banking industry, I don’t see why we didn’t ought to get some decent use out of it.

There’s probably a few hundredweight of flaws in the idea; you’re welcome to point them out in a friendly way, but at least it’s not as stupid as some of the ideas out there. (Seriously, I am curious as to where the bad ideas are, here; I admit I’ve kinda planned everything out in Sandbox Mode, with unlimited funds and no fixed deadlines, but still…)

I’m in favour of P&R. Although I’ve driven through Oxford (through a complicated coming-off-the-motorway-wrong scenario that had me trying to plot a route through the centre of the city based on
where I thought the tour buses went after Broad Street. Was dead chuffed when I managed it). However, I still drove to Oxford. From Wallingford. And the X39 is actually pretty damn good – I really like Thames Travel.

Even London – Edinburgh is the sort of thing I might drive, depending on circumstances! If it was at a busy time, I think I’d take the car, because I’d at least get a seat! Other times, maybe not – it’d depend what I was doing after Edinburgh, I guess.

But, yeah. The thing to do is spend a hundred fuckloads of money on the transport network: re-nationalise *everything*, buy back all the land sold under the Beeching Axe, put the tracks back, buy the station houses back and re-introduce full service to all of them (automatic ticket machines will save you a few salaries there, at least) and get into the habit of offering free rail passes to, er, everyone. (Or everyone paying less than the 50% income tax band, say).

Upgrade everything. Electrify the entire network while you’re at it to a) save time in the future and b) free yourself up to put any rolling stock down a line, increase the number of passing places, terminals
and sidings and give tax breaks to businesses that transport anything by rail, including produce (I reckon the distribution networks could cope with running services from local rail terminals instead of local warehouse depots, I don’t really see the difference). Accept that the national debt is going to look like swiss bloody cheese anyway, and bootstrap the domestic rail manufacturing industry to get some trains that’re less than 20 years old running through the provinces.

Bring back First, Second & Third class, [but do away with the multitude of saver fares; either it’s off peak or it’s a fixed rush hour surcharge of £3, say] and change the conditions of carriage to promise everyone a seat on their service, or they get a £5 voucher for the shop on the train for each 100 miles or part thereof for their journey as specified *on the ticket* – we could print that easy enough.

Then – gradually, over a few years – increase tax on petrol to fund the public transport network, and offer free bus routes to railway stations. No less than every 10 minutes per stop in towns, and aim for
every 30-40 minutes for rural areas. Since the Government run everything anyway, they can sync all the timetables up without (too much) difficulty.

Engineering works no longer mean such severe stoppages, as there’s now *network redundancy* and you can route around them with care. Long-term you get improved maintainance. Schedule for an x-day period, specifying exactly what needs to be done, and at the end of the works, have them surveyed by two independent teams from seperate bodies (one from RailSafe.gov and one from the Dept. of Engineering Works, say). If the works are approved by both bodies as being OK – and *signed
off* by *every member* of the inspection teams, good. If they’re signed off ahead of schedule, give the workers a bonus of £x/day over schedule.

The thing is I *want* trains to be good. But as long as people think they’re supposed to make money, they ain’t gonna. And even people like me will stay in our cars until we can get a fascist party set up, with me in charge…

As Statto said: a highly articulate outburst. So where’s it fall down? Money, obviously, and political intransigence. But where else?

The Moriarty of Bexleyheath

[Disclaimer: I’m not a lawyer, or anything, mind. I’m not even working shifts in the Law Library till after April. I speak colloquially, because I dunno what the legal definition of a tosspot is, though the colloquial one is totally this guy.]

Today on ElectricQuaker:

The Napoleon of Crime Vs. (Wellington) Boots.com in: The Wobbly-Headed Doll Caper!!

Yes, indeed, ladies & gentlemen! Today you can thrill! at the tale of a criminal!

A criminal whose dastardly plots know no restraint, whose cruel machinations know no mercy, whose fiendish mind knows no thought!

…Or, to put it another way, who’s a right pain in the arse, because I’ve had to lock down my credit card because of him. Git.

On my way home from work on Friday (I got sent home ill, which is always annoying) I checked my email & found “Paypal” had sent me an email telling me I’d added a new address. There was a second email telling me I’d authorised a payment.

‘Huh.’ I thought ‘that’s some convincing-looking phishing, there. I guess I’ll report it.’ So I did.

A bit later Paypal replied to say, basically ‘Yep, that was phishing. Good on yer for reporting it,’ and I crashed out for the rest of the day.

Being as I was ill, my sleep patterns were all to pot, so I was awake again at midnight, and took a bath (and a hot toddy made, disgracefully, with Bowmore single malt, for we had no blend in the house), and idly fired up the computer to see how the Internet had managed to cope without me for the past six hours.

Naturally, I checked my email accounts, and I was surprised to find another email from Paypal, this time saying ‘O, hai. Your payment, we haz it.’

…This one was even more convincing than the other two; no ‘Dear customer,’ here: there was my name, all correct & shipshape, and… the last four digits of my credit card number…?

So I forwarded that to Paypal as well, along with a message that said ‘This really is just some clever phishing device, right?’ and pointed a new browser window at Paypal and went and logged in.

(This is where our criminal mastermind comes in, this is)

Somehow, somebody broke into my Paypal account, added a new address (which is presumably serving as a drop; if it transpires it’s actually their home address I will actuallyLOL), and made off with a valuable consignment of, er, Boots aren’t allowed to tell me what it is because of the Data Protection Act.

Since Paypal automatically notifies me when somebody does, for example, randomly tell them that I live in London now in case it isn’t me doing it I’m not really sure why they thought this would work, but they evidently did, because otherwise I’d have an inbox slightly-less-full of emails claiming I was editing my own account. The only equivilant I can think of is trying to theive a wallet that somebody’s got chained to their own trousers; they’re likely to notice once it starts to pull, you know…

Gormless though the theft may be, I’ve still had to scramble all my passwords, boosting them up from mixed-case alphanumerics of 6-10 characters to mixed case 12 character-plus jobs, have got myself a GPG key with which I’m slowly starting to encrypt things and I’m having to do without cards because, of course, they all have to be changed now because some poxy git couldn’t be bothered to pay for his own sodding vaseline and spot cream.

And I really don’t know how they got in. Grumble. Although as far as I know, the Met., Boots, Paypal, Dyfed-Powys police & the Bank are all looking into it (which would give me more comfort if it didn’t sound just a bit like the plot synopsis for an Ealing Comedy…) Spoke to a chap from the police down in London the other day, actually, he was nice & friendly & seemed to think I was likely to get the money back, at least.

Still a pain in the arse, though.

Those of you with GPG keys, point me in the right direction & I’ll see if I can work the buggers.

and speaking of work: back to it, I suppose…


If this damn doctor doesn’t give me some proper bloody painkillers that actually do something, I’m going to swing a punch at him.

And then collapse in agony because I can’t bend that way, either.

I don’t know why people bother making Codine at 500/8 mgs, they might as well give me a sherbert dip for all the effect they have, and appartently Anadin Ultra need to be done under the Trade Descriptions Act.

Slept awfully. Kindly add Nytol to the list of medicinal products which Do Naff All.


Wot? No extra credit?

So, aye, I had me a driving test on Wednesday. An actual proper driving test, not just a common-or-garden DSA Driving Theory Test.

All things considered, it went very well, apart from the bit where I got a Serious Fault and failed. O, and apart from stalling the bastard machine turning right at the top of Mill Street three minutes in, but that wasn’t really a big deal.

The man made me do an Emergency Stop, which, to be fair, is not a maneuver I object to. Doing it on a one-in-four gradient, mind, is something I’ve never had to do before. I think that deserves extra credit.*


I am booked in for YAST in about a month.

Meantime, however, I have finally been given a cheque for compensation after some crazy woman slammed into the back of my mother’s car, shortly after she’d collected me from the train station in Telford, on the 22nd of December 2006, and gave us a whole bundle of painful whiplash. (She got out of the car and said “I’m so sorry, I was thinking about the shopping.” I notice she got a poxy driving license. *sulk, sulk*)

Still, a year and a half is a pretty good response time for an accident settlement, at least, as far as I can tell. And I had to do less of the bleedin’ legwork this time round, so it is all good.

Charlie, the guy who takes care of my mother’s car, and who saved my life when a five-year-old proto-JTA stood on the drive and tried to choke to death on a softmint, has managed to find a reasonable species of car, so it looks like I can actually buy a vehicle with my getting-crashed-into money, which I like. I’ll have to register it off-road, of course, until such a time as I manage to take a test that doesn’t involve being asked to do a parallel park, but at least it’ll be there when I need it.

Other news… Not much, really. I shall presently be spending less time in Trefachan, which is good. I shall shortly be spending an awful lot of time standing up behind a desk full of awesome merchandise, though, so if any of you Class of 2008 types get to read this on Abnib (unless it’s still broken come the 19th, of course) then do check out the Campus Clothing Website and encourage such relatives as you might have coming to stump up some cash for the goods.

The reasons you ought to do so are First, because it’s a comfy keepsake, which is rare in an age of Dresden Sheperdesses.
Secondly, that all the products come with your name on them, very small, and you can see all your friend’s names, too.
And, Thirdly — which perhaps I ought to have mentioned earlier — because I get a bonus if we sell everything.

On the other hand, I shall be working something like proper eight-hour days, and my sleeping pattern appears to be busted, at present. I flag until I take coffee at 20:00, and then I can’t bring myself to feel tired until gone two in the morning.

Happily, I suspect that a good constitutional hammering of the “up at 07:00, out at half-past, home by 19:00” variety ought to sink any notion of not being sleepy by lighting up time and, co-incidentally, quadruple sales of Red Bull in the Union Shop.

For now, however, I need to go make myself a camomile tea, and catch up with what the World Service is doing. (Good news about Metropolis, wasn’t it? Caught that on the 02:30 news last week.)

* If that sounds familiar it’s because I’ve been banging on about it at every opportunity since Wednesday. Sorry.

Hokay, so I appreciate this is a long shot, what with you all being good-for-nothing musical philistines, and all, but does anyone fancy coming to see Steeleye Span at the Arts Centre on the 17th of April?

Tickets appear to be £17.50, £15.50 for students and old people. Internet here is being wobbly, again, but I’ll not be booking the tickets much before tomorrow anyway, I don’t imagine… Drop us a comment, or summat.

Le-gen- … wait for it…

Hooray! I’m going to be a Librarian again! It’s all coming up Millhouse! [Incidentally, if someone can tell me precisely what Simpsons episode that quote is from, I’d be grateful, because otherwise not knowing is going to send me mental]

OK, well technically I don’t start until the 1st of August, but I reckon I can subsist until then.

I almost feel like I ought to be talking more about it, and how ace it is, but I don’t know that there’s especially much to say… Although I am planning to see if I can get my second ever hangover tomorrow morning (Yes, I have indeed bought champagne. Win!)

Other than that, well, not much, really. I’m stupidly tired, but that’s entirely my own fault for not going to sleep until the World Service was merrily entering it’s “Closedown for Radio 4” phase on Longwave, so I’m not going to be so ungracious as to complain.

And, hey, why complain? Life is rockin’!

I wasn’t actually until I left the Bodleian that I realised I really want to be a librarian. I mean, you’d think I’d have got the hint after spending all of my lower school career in the library (partly because I had not friends, and mostly because I did that Library Assistant Traning Scheme Level 2 – still got the certificate, thank-you Mrs. K), and then work exeprience there, too… But I’m notoriously bad at reading the signs of subtle things like that, as I’m sure Ruth and Claire will tell you, with strong moderations of frustration every time…

Huzzah! All is shiny, and I am feeling cheerful! And, inexplicably, looking forward to the rugby on Saturday (I still have no idea what that’s about, but never mind. Anyway, Wales vs Italy was just funny.

So, yeah. I’m a librarian again! Awesome!

… -dary!

Back to Aber…

Now with emphasis, for your garnering-the-important-points pleasure

…For those of you not yet up with the latest creation of the Lame-O Plan-a-Tron 2000 ™, I’m heading over to Aber on Saturday.

Then I’m going back to Newport sometime during Monday, and I plan to stay there for around about a week

Then, after a suitable period of hiding (to give people in Aber time to think “Nah, it must’ve been a false alarm, let’s cancel all security) I’m going back to Aber once more, to hang about, make a nuisance of myself, get up people’s noses, and hopefully eat all the curry on Portland Road. and hanging about until somewhere in the region of the 28th.

Please note that, whilst in Aber, I’m likely to be crashing at the Cottage. Please also note that whilst away from Wallingford, I’m not likely to be about much on IRC. (I’m never on Gaim to speak to people via MSN anyway, so that’s irrelevant.) E-mails, however, I get from all over the shop, on a regular basis, so that’s a good way to get in touch with me, if you need to.

And if it’s an emergency, or you’re getting desperate withdrawral symptoms having missed the dulcet sound of my voice, you can give me a ring on my mobile, the number for which you’ll already know if you need it.

Ah… the joys of sounding organised. Also of buggering those programs that read web pages for blind people.
In other news:

“You are lucky! Full moon tonight!” my arse. I’ve played 20 characters, today, and they all died. Bloody RNG.


For those of you who haven’t seen this yet

…Isn’t that nice?

[For the record, can I just say I’ve no problem with the damn thing being named after a politician, and a Welsh politician would make sense, sure, even though it’s only ever going to be called the InterPol building, just like people only ever call Llandinam the Geography Tower…

…But if you were going to pick a Welsh politician, what’s wrong with one people have heard of? Like David “Old Age Pensions” Lloyd George, or Nye “NHS” Bevan?

O, yeah. They weren’t nationalists. Bloody UMCA.]

Hey ho. Currently wearing my rather shiny OSA tie; the pattern’s based on the balustrade on the walkway in the Old College, which is nice. I always did like that pattern…

Cool! I just extended my name by a whole two letters!

So… Yeah. Graduated yesterday. That was a new one.

Since I was not only turning up to graduate but also leaving on the same day, Aber was predictably fantastic (O, aye, it rains there sometimes, but it doesn’t dare if it knows you’re leaving anytime soon…).

It dun’t half feel weird, though, mainly, I think, because I’m now in a situation where I’ve left on paper, but don’t really agree with what the paper says. But, then, I wasn’t really at Aber for the getting of a degree anyway; I was too busy having learning experiences, and the like. Getting a degree, therefore, isn’t something I’m finding to be the cut-off other people seem to take it as.

That said, I ought to be grateful to have made it as far as graduating at all – back in 2003, AGS sent eight people up to Aber, three of ’em to do English. Somewhere along the way, Messers. Ben ‘Convince JTA to skip every A-level Biology Lesson bar Two’ Michael and Thos. ‘Aberystwyth has Lecture Theatres? What on Earth For?’ McCaughey seem to have caught stray bullets. I didn’t actually notice at the time, on account of being too busy ducking myself, but three of us went into that Department, and I appear to be the only one who’s made it out. Hm.

You’ll forgive me for the faintly militaristic imagery there, at least if you know me… Pacifist, yes, adverse to looking at situations as if they were dramatic all-against-the-odds action films, no.

I didn’t have any money to buy my gown and hood &c. This is a bit of a bugger, because I was rather enjoying swanning about in them – for some reason, I kept thinking of our ex-deputy head Mr. Iddon, which is a bit weird, because AGS had at least ten teachers who used to swan about in proper academic clothing – and I imagine I’ll end up buying a set once I’ve managed to finalise the Get A Job plan (still working on it…)

Uh. Went and got some big proper photos taken, which I’ve no done for a while, and Boy, has digital photography improved those things… Also took a bunch of shots on the little domestic camera, which my mother made the mistake of taking out in the vicinity of Dan, with predictable results. Hey ho.

Was quite astonished by the number of people I ran into; people I’ve not seen for years suddenly started popping up all over the place. Also there was much champagne. Have got myself an e-mail address-for-life thingy, which you can get from me if you want it by either: e-mailing an address you already know I have [choice of Gmail or current UWA account] sending me a text [as long as your version of my phone number is from November 2003 or later] or by leaving a comment with you details [I ain’t getting spammed, cheers.]

Ah… Listening to Pandora again… I guess it must be near on a year since that came out, actually; vague recollections of it as an element of the immortal summer of 2005…

…Anyway, that’s doubtless rather more than you had any desire to know about me and graduating, but the photo Dan’s put up doesn’t quite say it all, so I thought I’d put in a few words as well, not least because the “picture = 1,000 words” argument has never held much in the way of water for me. Who ever raised an army using a hasty rally and a bloody painting to get people’s blood up?


So here I am again…

…having left the seaside delights of Aberystwyth for the rural tranquility of Shropshire (Or, at least, where the rural tranquility of Shropshire would be but for the orange glow of Telford on the smog-laden horison).

Hoy. You would not believe the number of funny looks you get for taking a TV on a bus. I mean, honestly…

…Of course, I wouldn’t’ve had to take a TV on a bus (or on the train either) if the man who designed the Corsa hadn’t thought “Ooh, let’s make a back seat that is all in one bit and doesn’t fold down to allow three people in the car with part access to the boot,” but we can’t expect everyone to have a fervent desire not to be shoved head-first into a rusting petrol tank, now, can we?

Repeated thanks to Dan & Claire for helping with the scouring of Hafan – ignoring the several days packing prior to Saturday, and the packing of the Rev’s excuse for a half-sized car in the morning – it took as long to finish off packing, moving and cleaning out bits of the caravan as it took Ruth to get back to Colburn. In Yorkshire. 231 miles away.


Thanks also to Paul for taking Ruth & I to Little Italy on Friday night. (Which I mention mainly to remind him that we’re going to pay for him to live in Stratford for a bit this December).

Once back in Newport I spent an afternoon moving stupidly heavy toolchests. Again. I now have little burst blood vessel / stretch-mark things on the sides of my shoulders. I’m fed up with moving things.

Still, it’s all done now, except for getting back all the stuff that’s still at the Place, and which is probably going to make Operation Collaborative Cottaging marginally harder than it would otherwise have been. Sorry about that.

Uh. So, yeah. I’m back in Newport again. Just thought I’d update to let everyone know I haven’t ended up in Manchester or some such distant place by mistake.

Have fun!

Do I look like I can be bothered to lift a finger?

Saturday, ladies and gents, saw me take the final exam of my degree, on 20th Century literature. Happily, works of more than a couple of hundred pages are out of style at the moment (unless you’re Robert Jordan, writing for Americans, or JK Rowling, writing for seven-year-olds), so I had no real trouble reading the books on Saturday morning.

(O, and can I just take this opportunity to bitchslap Sam Selvon, author of ‘The Lonely Londoners’ for writing what would otherwise be a perfectly acceptable tale of the lives of West Indian immigrants to London in the 50s entirely in a crude approximation of Carribean dialect.

Firstly, I’m not made more sympathetic to the plight of people living in a vagueish culture of racism by their trotting about speaking like the Black and White Minstrels, and secondly it’s not especially West Indian. To prove this point, I read through the entire second half in a corny Dudley accent, and it didn’t really make me strain the words. That’s because saying “He get on bus” and “Every fella he look for a work jus soon as he in London” can be read as being West Indian, West Midlands or West Country. Don’t write dialect. It doesn’t actually sound like you think you write it.

Thirdly, it’s a pain in the arse to read, dammnit! Put some bloody commas in, and stop using sentences that go “I need a work Gallahad say Moses say yes you need a work and then I got up and then I brushed my teeth and then I went to school and I said morning miss hilton and she said morning class and then I went to assembly and…”




Feeble West Indian attempts to make all West Indians sound like Jar Jar Binks aside, that exam was the last of my degre. Woo. See me care.

Er. Or not.

I probably should care, of course; thirty years ago people coming to the end of their Finals would be overjoyed at finally gaining some species of truly hefty qualification.

As it is, I’ve been taking exams every summer since 1995 (KS2 SATS, 1st & 2nd year exams at AGS, KS3 SATS, mock GCSEs, real GCSEs, pointless AS-es and genuine A-levels calling themselves A2s, 1st year Aber exams, 2nd year Aber exams, and my final exam of the past eleven years, 20th Century Literature.

Quite frankly, I’m years past the stage where I cared about exams – at Primary School, SATs were really imporant, and were, I was told, going to “make the difference of what set I was in at secondary school,” a comment made almost entirely superflous by the fact I’d passed the 11-plus by then, and wasn’t going to be streamed until GCSEs.

Then, somehow, KS3 SATs became really important (which, if true, would’ve been a crying shame, since I got an inexplicable 7 for Science, and only a 5 for English. That, of course, was before I wrote science off as a bad lot; I used to be fairly interested in it).

GCSEs rolled up shortly after, in a blaze of mock exams in Year 10, and year 11, and then the real things, and they were really *really* important because, we were told, because GCSEs were things on which basis people give you a work.

[see how annoying that it?]

…On which basis people give you a work, that is… unless you do AS levels.

Which, ditto, unless you do A2s, and go to university.

Frankly, I’ve spent an entire decade doing exams on a bare minimum of an annual basis, and since 2000 every bloody January and every bloody summer, and it’s long since past the point at which I could work up and interest, or, God forbid, apprehension, at the prospect.

Sure, when I did the 11-plus I was dead nervous, and again when KS3 SATs happened, and we all filled into the school Gym in dead silence, walked over the noise-dampening tarps as quietly as possible, and sat at tiny half-size desks trying not to breathe too loud in case they called it cheating…

But come on; I was that nervous in 1999. You can’t expect me to still be on edge when I walk into the great hall, looking for an equally half-size desk that’s not too near the door for me to feel a draft, and yet close enough that I don’t look a wally when I get bored and leave half an hour early to have a hot chocolate with Paul.

Taking exams is like taking hard drugs, as far as I can tell. To begin with, you’re dead nervous, you don’t know what it’s going to be like, you get a real buzz, and you pray you’re not going to make a real mess of it, and look stupid in front of all your mates…

…and then, eleven years later… It’s the same old thing, frankly, and you’re doing it half-heartedly; not in the manner of Heroin, because you need to, but in the manner of methadone, because you’re told to. And, frankly, it isn’t fun anymore, it isn’t clever, and it’s just the same old thing as it always is, with all the novelty and the rush and the excitement gone out of it…

Education is supposed to be about drawing people out, rounding out their personalities and making them interesting and intelligent people. It shouldn’t be about teaching them that exams are routine and dull, and that you pass them by chucking in a couple of quotes and saying “On the other hand” to satisfy the WJEC Assessment Objective 2 criteria you need to meet level 4 of the markscheme.

Where would be the rush in that?


So, yeah, I probably ought to do some species of blog post before I nip off and grab some books to start revision with… Five exams knocked out of the running tomorrow, by the looks of it. Not mine, which is a shame, but at least it gets it out of the way.

Incidentally, who else has noticed the neat bit of spin UWA’s slapped onto the cancelled exams thing? According to the University

“Seventy percent of exams will happen as normal”

Or, to put it another way…

“A third of the exams will have to be cancelled”

OK, so it’s actually slightly less than a third – by a piddling three percent – but I bet you they rounded up to 70% because it sounded like a reasonably big number…

So, yeah…

I really, really ought to be fretting about this exam, I suspect. Am I?

Am I predictably Hell.

Meh. Currently nosing about in the hope I can get some species of job somewhere.


Intresting times, Francis, intresting times…


I’ve been asked to put the word out about this, so I do so without an excess of further comment:

At 12 noon, tomorrow, Wednesday 10th May, there’s a protest outside the Old College in regard to the continued Industrial Action by the AUT & the consequent lack of assessment of student work.

For those of you who have minimal cause to visit the Guild website, I’d also suggest an examination of former Guild President Bec Corn’s resignation speech, which she made at the Guild GM last night.

(That, incidentally, might well explain the e-mail from Pro Vice-Chancellor Dr. John Harries, in which he declares “The situation remains very changeable and may be resolved at any time.”) Incidentally, do look out for further statements from UWA; I’m told the Press Officer is putting something together for release this afternoon.

So, yeah:

  • Protest, Old College, 12 Noon Tomorrow
  • Bec Corn resigns from Guild.
  • Theme of Protest is “Back to the Table,” or so I’m told.
  • Go on, turn up.

People not in Aber, of course, probably don’t care about this too much, and anyway, can’t make the protest. Everyone else, I’m expecting to see you there; it’s rare that Guild Politics contrives to be adrenaline-rushingly interesting; when it does we should make the most of it.

Hence: Noon tomorrow, Old College. Protest.

‘In China, I understand, it’s a curse to live in interesting times…’

I wish I never have to fix a plug again!…

…screams the man in the “Electricity, our faithful friend” information film. And Lo! Out jumps Pluggy, an anthropomorphic three-pin plug.

“So you don’t like electricity, eh?” he squeaks, in the manner of a soprano made yet more tiresome by helium inhalation “OK then, mister, I’ll fix it so you get your wish!”

And so all the power goes out. Joy. Presently, usually within another three minutes of film, the all-American berk who wished for all electricity to go away has realised that his radio doesn’t work, that all the food in his fridge has gone off and that murderers, racists, and blacks from Texas aren’t being executed because there’s no power.

“Noooo Electric!” Pluggy warbles repeatedly, until the man gives up and takes back his wish.

This style of film, it turns out, was desperately common in the USA, at one point, to the extent that the Simpsons makes a passing reference to it, and MST3K gets to have a go at an especially lousy specimen in ‘Squirm’.

The point there, however, is that the people involved in such films bring it on themselves. Or rather, Pluggy brings it on them in order to satisfy his own disgusting personal kinks, but the effect is much the same.

Residents of Hafan, on the other hand, have their very own Pluggy, in the form of the management committee of Cwrt Mawr, Rosser and Trefloyne. At this point, really, I should point out that I don’t exactly object to their carrying out essential maintainance on the Hafan sub-station all day today, but it is a bit of a pain. Especially since, it turns out, it’s a bigger job than they expected, and they’re shutting us down again at 0800-1700 tomorrow.

The major drawbacks of this, of course, are no working computers, no working consoles (and no TV, but that’s fairly naff anyway, unless you’re piping games through it) and no kettle to boil water with. OK, you can do it on the gas hob, hooray, but the same can’t be said for the coffee maker. Opening the fridge becomes likewise risky, especially on hot days like today, and – for no logical reason I can see at all – it becomes impossible to get hot water from the taps, despite the fact that to all outward appearances, the gas boiler oughtn’t give a toss what it’s streamlined electic cousin is doing, shut off or no.

Still, it should, I trust, be over by tomorrow, and I can get back to stumbling through Knights of the Old Republic II, and ripping stray CDs recently retrived from Colburn.

I heard from a taxi driver that the University were keen to scrap the Hafan vans. This, it would seem, is something of an untruth, especially since someone came into the van whilst we were away, accepted our coffee grinder from the postman (thus saving me a trip into town to collect it when we get back) and changed the bathroom light from a normal fixture to an ugly clinical strip-light-in-a-plastic-pie-dish affair, which is deeply unpleasant and hurts my eyes.

From this and the mammoth eighteen-hour maintainance work that’s ended up happening today and tomorrow on the sub-station thingy, I conclude they’re not, in fact, going to scrap the vans at all, which is very pleasing. I like Hafan; it’s stupidly roomy in contrast to PJM (never mind Penbyrn) and it’s got grass around it and is generally much more pleasant than you’d normally expect for accommodation on the top of the hill. The lack of electric is a predictable pain in the neck, but hey, it’s mostly in a good cause, and it keeps the money in circulation, which is probably a good thing.

Big ol’ rambling post their; apologies. But I couldn’t just write “The electric is off in Hafan today and now, it turns out, tomorrow,” because a) that’d be dull, b) I’m killing time waiting for Dan & Claire and people to turn up and c) I’m paying myself by the word for my blog entries from now on, and I want to save up to buy a Lear Jet.


Three trains, six car journeys and and a couple of short wanderings on foot later…

…Ruth and I are back in Aber, after being exiled by the lack of cash brought about by the ponces at the council. Apologies for the total lack of blogging in that time (assuming, of course, that you’re the sort of person who stops by here or Abnib all the time looking for more of this stuff); my access to the ‘Net has been fairly minimal throughout Easter, ranging from token broadband but too tired to use it at home, to pay-as-you-run-desperately-through-the-net-to-cost-not-lots narrowband in Colburn.

So… Stuff happened.

I turned 21, which is fantastic, being as I’m now able to vote, own my own keys to the house, inherit anything that may have been left to me and so on. Yeah, OK, so turning 21 has got rather less impressive since 1970, but still, it was marginally interesting, especially since I got a whole bundle of cash with which to slope off and go internet shopping. Not quite enough to replace my digicam, but enough to get me an iRiver, and a whole bundle of other goodies, which is fine by me.

And on top of that, Ruth bought me a signet ring, with my cheery little logo on it (the one on the right of the two logos at KTAB (full history of the logos can be found here, should you really care), which is nice and toptastic, as well as being shiny.

Then we hauled off up North, and went to see Tom and Judith in Mauld’s Meaburn, which was nice, although it didn’t last long…

Er. Then things went a bit ad-lib, for reasons which Ruth explains, so we ended up in Cambridge, and then dived back to Newport in a bit of a flurry.

And then we managed to get ourselves back to Aber yesterday, and here we are.

Not especially informative stuff, I suppose, but other things, like going to a Quaker wedding, which was fun and interesting for me (not least because I got to catch up with everyone from Meeting) probably aren’t intesting to anyone else, and whilst it’s your choice to read my blog or not, it still seems a bit daft to take up your time with things about people you don’t know, when you could be off doing something much more useful to the world in general.

Have fun!

They didn’t like me! They never liked me!

Bloody council.

Er, so yeah.

Way back in January, the people in the offices I clean complained about me for not doing a good enough job, and said I only went in and emptied the bins and left again. Which wasn’t true, but I had indeed been skimping a bit on the dusting and polishing.

So I got a vaguely friendly visit from Shaun, yonder Area supervisor, or something, and it al got sorted out OK, and I started making sure I even polished the fairly pointless things, like the banisters, at least once a week (no, this isn’t a nice building, it’s a fairly yuck one with a cheapo set of banisters, none of the good-quality oak you get in the County Offices, or any of that).

Monday, however, I got called by the Council contracts manager, Jasmine Wilson, who said the plebs down in the offices had complained about me again. Which I thought wasn’t really on, since I had been doing the job properly, but it was probably nothing that couldn’t be sorted out with a bit of explaining where I was supposed to have gone wrong.

So on Monday I had a meeting with the aforementioned Jasmine (who’s at least a full level of authority above Shaun, himself two above where I am) and, despite the fact she was gearing up to sack me for the whole of the meeting, she agreed to move me to somewhere else, which was fine by me, since there was obviously some issue going on in the background that I wasn’t aware of…

Brilliantly, not only had the people I work with (who obviously had some issue they never told me, although exactly how or why they’d come to dislike me enough to care I’m not sure, since I hardly ever saw any of them) said I wasn’t doing the job, a cleaner had gone in to replace me some time I’d taken the night off, and they, apparently, had told the council workers in the building (or possibly Jasmine or Shaun, or someone, I wasn’t quite clear which) that the building wasn’t tidy.

Er. Now if I’m charitable here, I could assume that Jasmine meant it wasn’t tidy in such a way as meant I was the cause of that, such as a load of torn-up receipts with my name on them lying all over the floor, or something, but nevertheless, I think that’s fairly shoddy grounds for sulking…

“I went in to clean a building that needed cleaning after people had used it, and it was a mess.”

…doesn’t quite roll off the tongue, does it? Ah well.

Didn’t matter, since there was some problem of some sort noody was telling me about; I’ve never had complaints anywhere else I’ve been a cleaner, and nor in any other building for the council, so I assume there was something they wanted doing that I either wasn’t doing or (which is equally possible) wasn’t doing on a sufficiently regular basis for them to be happy about.

So, anyway, a wee bit of Dark-side active listening later (because it’s really hard to tell someone off if they keep nodding and saying “of course” every time you point out their faults) I was due to be moved to a new building at the start of next week, and then on Tuesday I get an ansaphone message telling me they’ve not recived my proof of ID for my police record check, and they can’t move me to another building after all, so they’re going to sack me anyway.

Bastards. How very annoying and vaguely indicative of people being got at behind the scenes of them.

So I’ve now not got a job, nor any actual money. This is infuriating.

Whats more, little prospect of getting another job before money runs out horribly. Which rather means I have to go home for Easter because I can’t afford to stay in Aber and buy food. This also is infuriating. Now I have to negotiate the logistics of taking a computer back on the train. Tedium.


Much preffer Aber to home; don’t get expected to achieve things here, let alone clear out sheds and soforth.

Ah well. Sounds like Paul has arrived at the Flat. Zelda Four Swords Adventures time, I suspect.

[slouches off in an unemployed huff]

Hooray! UWA killed XuQa access!

If you’re not getting online from a terminal within the UWA firewall, you’ll be able to find XuQa (pronounced, apparently “ZooKah,” rather than “ex you ku wah…” cretins…) at www.xuqa.com. Infuriatingly, the www appears to be essential.

However, it turns out UWA have blocked it – see here, because it was a totally unmoderated forum. So, obviously, everyone started to use it for hate mail, and similar predictable rubbish, and generally breaking the law.

I hate ’em, they’re wankers. Forwhy? Because they kept spamming my AberNet account and telling me to join, whilst spoofing the “from” address to look like someone from inside Aber (except, of course, it didn’t show up when I checked it in the directory.

Not only this, but they were too thick to properly restrict to actual UWA users. Really, that can’t be too hard. Facebook – a similar (although marginally less crappy) effort currently bouncing round Oxford and annoying people – at least had the wit to make sure users were *at* Oxford…

…even I can see that saying “please use your college e-mail address to create your account. If your college hasn’t supplied you with an e-mail account, then…” yeah, you can use whatever the Hell you want. Old, dead, anonymous Hotmail and Yahoo! accounts, for example. Or something at DodgeIt.com.

…and then you’re all set to cause trouble.

The blind incompetence of that, plus the fact that you couldn’t *find* anything on there put me right off.

It’s a shame, in a way; it could’ve been a good service, properly looked at and restricted. As it was, they launched it with spam, and without any sensible membership rules, and it unsurprisingly went bang. Well, no – it’s still there; you just can’t get to it from inside UWA.

It’s not exactly that I’ve got a problem with things like Facebook, nor even with XuQa, blatantly stupid name or no… It’s just if you’re going to to that sort of thing, then you should at least have the wit to do it sensibly.

Sensibly in this case would’ve been not pissing off IS by using evil darkside spamming techniques, and consulting with UWA first. Not telling people what you’re doing, with somethign like this, is just plain stupid, because the first time you do something to annoy ’em, they’ll pull the plug. Establish a dialogue first, and you’re half-way home. That, and some half-way sensible techs, and it’d’ve been a good, searchable service that’d last oooh… a year and a bit before stagnating and becoming dull?

As it is, it’s been predicable kicked out of the IT rooms. Screw ye not with a genuine legal problem, wallies.

Still, I ought to be out of the IT rooms, myself; Ruth isn’t feeling too great; I really should go see she’s alright…

Good God…

…Does Abnib 3.0 not look like the pits of the Earth?

‘s bloody horrible, man! Stop the bubbly over-yellow yuckness!

101 Ways To Start 2006, #29: Get Thrown Out of a Caravan.

Well, more or less. Strictly speaking, I’m only being thrown into a very similar caravan a hundred yards away, but even so…

[Wobbly effect to denote flashback]
Returned New Year’s eve to find boiler dead. Lone porter left on duty (covering Cwrt Mawr, Rosser, Trefloyne, Hafan, Llanbadarn Campus, Pantycelyn &c) finds me small electric radiator to keep token suggestion of heat in van. Promises to get gas man out ASAP.

Gas man arrives Tuesday, delayed by Bank Holiday, which fair enough. Opens boiler, notes rust, points out where boiler has leaked onto pump and buggered it. Notes boiler 24 years old. Spare parts for said boiler no longer made or in stock. Condemns boiler, cuts off gas. Suggests new boiler will arrive. Goes to tell Accommodation Office.

Wednesday starts with me dreaming I’ve fallen over and had a pile of earth fall on me. Wake as result of conviction I can’t breathe. Knock on door: Porter. “We don’t know if we’re going to replace the boiler at all. Move into another van”. Boiler in new van just as old as the old one. No landline socket in new van. Annoying promise of no cheap calls to landlines. Prospect of having to redirect letters and such all over again. Ah crap. Porter later explains new boiler would be £1,000. This unlikely, as Hafan past it’s servicable life anyway. Phonecall from mother: Sister fallen down stairs, probably has concussion, had trouble with vision, was sick, was sick again later, is eventually taken to A & E.

[Wobbliness again]

And so we come to now, when I’m sat in Llandinam feeling thoroughly sick to the teeth with the lot of it. Spent most of week huddled up to little radiator in thick jumper watching DVDs of the second series of Lovejoy and drinking large quantities of ale.

That’s about it, really.

Stupid sodding boiler.

Week Ending… (or “that was the week that sucked…”)

Well, care or naff off to some other ego-boosting website, bitch.

Autumn, rarely my favourite time of year, being, as it is, too long for Dick and too short for Richard, with it’s not-quite-summer-heat and not-quite-winter-frosts was OK, although a bit naff on and off, especially since my mother came down with sciatica (sp?) in September and it still hasn’t cleared up yet, which isn’t great, and then came November, and things just went from gay to intolerant fundamentalist bigot…

First there was the trouble at 72, when we realised that the housemates there weren’t too keen on us, and decided it would be better all round if we left them to it.

Then, PJM let us move my room over to house 119c, with a view to moving Ruth’s room to 119d when the girl in there moved out.

119c was great, and the housemates there were all very nice and friendly, and all was going well until I got a worrying letter from the PJM warden. After that things just collapsed faster then a Guild exec meeting, when I discovered what the Warden wanted, which was about the same time I realised that what I wanted was a Lee Enfield (it’s the only type of gun for which I have any amunition whatsoever) and a sniper’s nest overlooking the front door.

At that point, I came to the conclusion that life was just getting too stressful and that, whilst I could devote the rest of my year here to making the lives of the dicks at 119 a total bloody misery, it would have the negative effect of forcing me to stay there whilst they made my life a misery as well. So on Wednesday, Ruth & I went into town and looked around all the estate agents in Aberystwyth (except for ALP Property Management, because they’re terrible (see link).

It was looking fairly promising, with a couple of things we hoped to get viewings for, including a nice-sounding attic flat on North Parade, at about £70 p/w, plus bills. So we were feeling good and cheered up, and headed back for an early night’s sleep at 119 on the Wednesday. And, as I’ve explained that really didn’t work. Evil little bastards. At 0115 Thursday, just after I made that entry, I rang Dan, who was an absolute saint, reacting to my close-to-tears “could we come and stay at the flat, tonight, please” with a spot-on “Yes, I’ll make sure the door’s open and we’ll see you in a bit,” which neatly avoided any silly questions like “Why?” or “What’s happened?” until we were in a better position to explain about it without bursting into tears at him.

On the way to the flat we stopped at the PJM amenities block to tell the porter who’d just been round with the warden that we were down the hill for the rest of the night, and if he got called out again, he needn’t bother going. The fact that I was in floods at this point seemed to un-nerve him (grown men with beards not being the type of people you expect to come and weep at you right after you’ve been round to tell them off for the loud music they’re supposed to be playing), and he kept telling us he’d only been round because he had to, and did we want him to get the warden again, and we said no, because how could it help, and he made a helpless face, and looked worried.

Thursday morning, we woke on the sofa bed at the flat (I now realise why Dan claims it was designed by someone who neither slept nor sat down) and Ruth told me about the dream she’d just had, which was mildly amusing. Then we went round the estate agents again, to listen to the depressing news that, although there were places, there weren’t many, and we couldn’t get viewings until at least next Wednesday.

So we went back to the Flat, and met Dan & Claire, who had just found a place to live, and Claire gave us a lift up the hill to see Eileen Watkin in the Accommodation Office.

More or less to her credit, she didn’t automatically take our side, although since Ruth was in tears again at this point, I’d’ve taken a softer line. She did, however, ring the PJM Amenities block, and spoke to Heather Morgan up there, and got rather more sympathetic after she’d done so (I’ve a sneaking suspicion the porter must’ve put a note in their log to say “Er, the noisy people just came and sobbed at me for five minutes, and now they’re going to sleep on someone’s floor so they can’t get complained about again…”, which would explain why she suddenly stopped asking questions about whether we were sure we’d not done anything to annoy them) and said she’d got a solution.

That solution turned out to be Hafan, the University’s collection of static caravans, somewhere round the back of the Arts Centre. It would, she explained, be cheaper than PJM – in fact it’s about £80 p/w inc, for the pair of us, which is half what we were paying in PJM, and she suggested we go and take a look at it. So, we went up to Cwrt Mawr reception, and got the keys to the caravan, and went out there to have a look. By this point, I was already very enthusiastic, although Ruth wasn’t so sure, and was still too nervous to notice that I kept saying “well, I think we should take it unless there’s something really wrong with it,” at five-minute intervals.

As it was, we got in there, and were immediately struck by the fact that the sitting room of the, uh, caravan, was bigger than the PJM rooms, and there was still the kitchen, the bathroom, the bedroom and the spare bedroom to go. Also, there was a gas cooker, which just about sold Ruth…

…Since then, there’s been a mad rush to empty the houses in PJM – many, many thanks to everyone who helped with that, especially Paul, who was an absolute saint, helping us shift shopping trolleys full of our stuff to the caravan (yes, yes, make yer damn Gypsy jokes and have done with it), and also to Bec Corn (in the incredibly unlikely event that she’s reading this) for seeing me and Paul with our over-filled trolleys on the final trip, stopping her Union van, and getting out of it to say “Can I help? Only I notice I’ve got a van, and you’ve got a load of stuff in some trolleys”. OK, earlier that day would’ve been better, but it was still a nice gesture of general good-will.

So, now we live in a caravan. Yes indeed. And it’s stupidly vast. (Well, compared to a normal “study bedroom”, at least). Only downside is that it doesn’t have Ethernet access, but we’re hoping to get onto the Wireless point at Brynamlwg (sp?), which Paul thinks is a fair chance, so we can then turn the spare bedroom into a study, and hook up from there. At some point.

Horrible week, all things considered, and probably the second worst of my scarred and fucked-uip life, but things are looking up now, and my personal tutor’s given my an extension for my essay which would otherwise be due in on Monday. This is good, because we’ve not even properly unpacked yet, never mind had chance to look at notes.

Better now…

(The letter to the housemates…)

Pinned this up on the noticeboard in 72 about 1pm today. By 3 it had been randomly taken down. Guess it pissed them off… Lovely the damage you can do with a kind word, innit?

“Hey guys,
Well, now, this just isn’t working, is it? It’s pretty obvious that you find our not doing the washing up just as irritating as we find your leaving half-done washing up in a sink full of cold water, and I guess you might even find it slightly more annoying than we do.

Trouble is, Ruth’s got one Hell of a lot of work (yes, yes, we all have a lot of work, we know, but “lot” remains a relative term…) and as a result she doesn’t have much in the way of spare time, after allowing for doing all the projects and assignments she has to get handed in, doing her job on Friday, Saturday and Sunday, and attempting to get a half-way reasonable amount of sleep

Meanwhile, I’m in my final year and supposed to be doing huge quantities of reading of critical texts and studies and getting essays and seminars done, as well as working for two hours every evening, and getting a good degree is something I count above having shiny clean plates.

So, no, we haven’t done the washing up, although I do feel at least vaguely entitled to claim a misunderstanding there – sometime back in September, when we were still all new and interesting to each other, you guys put it in a pile in the corner, which to me sends the message “Keep this out of the way until it’s done, please.” Evidently you thought the message was something different, but at this stage, who’s still bothered enough to care about that?

Anyway, this whole ‘in the same house’ plan is pretty obviously dead in the water, so we’re doing our best to clear out of here; staying certainly driving us nuts, and I’d put a very little money on the bet you guys feel the same. Certainly I can’t put up with this for the rest of the year; I’ll just become an antagonistic bastard towards the lot of you, which won’t look good to anyone.

Uni accommodation being what it is, we can’t shift out entirely just yet, however; we’ll still have Room D until another room opens up elsewhere in the village, and we’ll be round to shift things over to our new place on a regularish basis, but by and large we’ll be out of one another’s way, which saves all the hassle of one of us braining one of the others with an unwashed frying pan… You should have a wee bit more space in the kitchen once we’ve hauled all our stuff out of there, too.

Ah well.

I’ll be surprised if you’ve bothered to read all this, but you might do, if you’re waiting for the tea to brew, and if you have, thanks, at least, for letting us point out we haven’t just run off in a huff.

No doubt you’ll get some new housemates moving in, in due course, and with any luck they’ll have less intensive courses, or be more inclined to wash up in the gap before cooking the food and eating it. Ah, but you’re right, we did leave some of it there for a while, when nobody had emptied the cold water out of the sink. That’s me edging towards being antagonistic, I know, and I apologise for saying it.

Still, no point fussing over any of it now, especially since you seem thoroughly disinclined to accept how busy we are.

Good luck with (and to) the new people, and with your courses in general; I’m sure you’d wish the same to us. And thanks again for reading this. We may yet run into you again over the next few weeks, but you don’t have to go losing sleep over it.

Have fun!”

So that was good. Still needing help moving stuff, mark you, but it’s all looking up, and maybe life will get a bit cheerier now we’re not stuck with those wankers…

Things moved fast in Cork…

…So, then, who wants to help us move? The dudes in the PJM Amenities block are toptastic people, and when I went to them and said “I’m looking to move out of the house I’m in” they said “119 C’s free,” without even asking why. This is good. Asking why would’ve made me sound like a whingey git, as I’m pretty sure it did last night, but then, of course, I couldn’t actually do anything, which isn’t nearly as good.

Temporarily, therefore, we’ll have 119C and 72D, until (at some point) the girl who’s in 119E and wants to move to a house with Freshers does so, and leaves another room free there, into which we can move the rest of our stuff…

Meanwhile, therefore, we’ll have two houses, so there’s no huge rush to move things (which is good, because my legs are bloody killing me – see a later post…) , but help shifting essentials (PC, monitor, TV, PS2 &, like, probably some bedding…) would still be good…

And, yeah, we’re taking a risk that the next housemates will be dicks as well, but at least there’s a chance they’ll make an effort back when we try to be friendly to them…

So, yeah. Off to re-jigger the TV lisence and show Ruth the new place.

The NaNoWriMo Wars…

…Weirdness. I have to say I’m still a little confused by Statto‘s anti NaNoWriMo arguments on Dan’s blog

Personally, I’m in it partly for the seeing-if-I-actually-can-do-it element (if I can lash up 50,000 words in a month, there’s a chance I could try getting proper books published, thus avoiding the need to try and do anything with the rest of my life) and for the challenge, (and to support the other guys that are doing it where necessary) and because I think it’ll be interesting.

What’s more I’ve a vague hope it’ll re-spark my capacity to actually write things, which seems to have totally rusted up lately – I think I lost faith in writing things when I did the largely pointless modules in Creative writing, which did a good deal to batter my self confidence by encouraging me to rate my own work (with the result I always said “that’s shit, that is”)… It’s partly because I’ve lost the capacity to invent things to write about that I’ve stopped doing much other than blog posts and essays, I suspect, and I actually used to do loads… JTA the Movie is fairly desperate for an update, I imagine, but I’ve not been able to think of anything to put into it for the last two years…

(as an aside which might appeal slightly more to Statto than my just saying “and I’m doing NaNoWriMo” – I’m using a plot which is a slightly more sophisticated version of that idea I got in what I think was Year 9 [I’d just been to BYM, so that was early 2000] with yonder man who crashes trains…)

I’m pretty certain that there’s nothing I can say that will cause this to make any sense to Statto at all, which is a shame, but I’m happy to take you up on the suggestion that I write a hundred or so decent World Factbook entries in November as well (Hell, I’ve only got a bunch of essays and Civ IV to take care of this month, I can take on a whole other bunch of stuff no problem!)

So yeah – current challenges for JTA appear to be learn bloody “simian OS,” as it’s apparently called, because the 6680 will want a bit of getting used to, do NaNoWriMo, write 100 things for the Factbook (yes), do some essays, do the Real Ale Ramble (bugger, I still need to book time off work for that) and a whole heap of other stuff that still wants sorting. O, and I want to give blood, at some point. Woop.

O well. Lagging a little over here:

Words written: 1631 / target: 50000

Roll on curry…

O for God’s sake…

…Still no Internet in my room, which is frankly irritating – I had thought I’d been booted off the netwoek for the slightly implausible reason that I’d got a worm from my mother’s HDD when I plugged it in to back up data before swapping her old PC for my old PC (so her old one can go to Robin, once we’ve actually made it, er, good.)

The Operators, however, say there’s no problem with my connection, and, last I heard, had to “run some tests” to see if they could work out the problem. They tried to ping my block of the network and got nothing, apparently. Now horribly behind on Green Dragon, because it’s a real faff having to go and play turns over sluggish Citrix boxes. Bastards.

Still, had a good weekend, and hopefully won’t have too bad a week, although I really need to write me some essays before Civ IV turns up on the 5th-ish of November. I wasn’t going to get it, but Dan’s won me round, so more on that when it’s here, and I’ve had a chance to get a look at it…

…Hm. My mobile contract expired yesterday, and I’d been hoping to upgrade to a 7610, which I was told I couldn’t. Apparently Orange can’t sell them anymore, which is a pain in the arse, because Vodafone still do, and all the other phones Orange were offering me as upgrades were either crap, or, Nokias that were stupidly expensive, or flimsy looking.

So I spoke to TGB about it, and he suggested I got put through to retentions, who were remarkably helpful, and said I could spend £79.99 to upgrade to a 6680, which “was really quite similar”.


“But Vodaphone will give me a 7610 for free…” I pointed out. And Lo! Suddenly I was a “highly valued customer,” which was nice, and they said they could waive the fee. It’s still not exactly what I wanted, in all fairness, but it does seem to be a relatively close second, and should arrive later in the week. Most importantly, they’ll let me keep my number, which saves no end of bother letting everyone know what the new one is.

O, and now I’ve finally had a chance to get onto Abnib, and see what the latest meme is; here’s my results (athough I’ve a deep suspicion that the basis on which the calculate these things is horribly, horribly flawed – I ought, by all accounts, to rate much higher on the “friends” category, and probably lower on “health”.) Still, for the sake of comparison:

This Is My Life, Rated
Life: 8.7
Mind: 8.4
Body: 6.9
Spirit: 8.3
Friends/Family: 5.6
Love: 10
Finance: 7.9
Take the Rate My Life Quiz

Anyway… Now I need to check all the damn e-mails that’ll’ve built up since Thursday. Bugger. More when I get my own connection back, I suspect…


Had a lecture at 10am today (Urgh), which was actually fairly interesting – one for the C19th module, looking at the relationship between some chap called John Thelwall, who’s been unjustly denied a page on Wikipedia, and the interaction between his poems and the Lyrical Ballads, which was actually really fascinating stuff…

…He’d got into rather a lot of trouble after lobbying hard for social freedoms, which in the context of the French Revolution, wasn’t a great plan (because, as usual, the politicians had gone “Agh, this new thing scares us! Let’s strip civil liberties to the bone!” and a bunch of reactionary old bastards went along with it, as per.)

Anyway, Thelwell got had up for treason, and spent a few years in gaol, which wasn’t great, especially since it was 1794, and the system was happily corrupt. They let him off, in the end, and he slogged up the Cumbria to root out Wordsworth, his dippy sister [I’m sorry, but she wrote a poem about how great it was that William had gone off somewhere, but had left behind an apple with his tooth-marks in it] and Coleridge.

Whereupon Coleridge gave him the push, because he wanted a break with his own radical past, and anyway, Wordsworth was just at that “creating an artificial rustic language” stage which the Romantics seem to have been so keen on (what? I’m paraphrasing the lecture here), so Thelwell was forced off to exile in the ruddy Wye valley, where Pitt’s people persisted in spying on him, his farm went belly up, and his six-year-old daugter died.

Meanwhile, Wordsworth & Coleridge had just printed off the 1798 Ed. of Lyrical Ballads, and all was going swimmingly, with Thelwell stuck in Wales, with sarky pitchfork weilding locals, roughs working for the government still out to off him to collect the bounty and some serious “If Coleridge hadn’t forced me to live in this stupid valley, my daughter probably wouldn’t have died” issues to deal with.

By the looks of it he wrote large quantities of poems mimicing the Lyrical Ballads and turning them very dark, and they’re pretty good. Not great in their own right, I wouldn’t say, but not too bad in the (“Yeah, Nature is really sodding great. Can it make me feel better? Can it bollocks.”) context in which they were written.

So that was fun. And then I wandered towards the Arts Centre to try and actually buy a copy of L.B. (I didn’t, I remembered I’ve spent all of this week’s budget on a couple of SATA HDDs from Overclockers, the people who ship fast, ship what you wanted, and don’t appear to sell any mid-low end rubbish (I’m still vaguely pissed off that Scan assumed that an Asus motherboard was somehow the same as the poxy Abit job I asked for…)).

Anyway, I was heading up from C22 round the corner where Hugh Owen creates and underpass out of D-floor, and wandered up past the library and out onto the plaza, whereupon a bloke ran up behind me and said “Excuse me, are you a lecturer?”

‘O, it’s a poor lost Fresher,’ I thought. “No, I’m a student,” I told him. And then he told me how great my back looked (uh-oh…) and how I really stood out amongst everyone else (this is going to involve my helping with something, isn’t it?)…

…”We’re doing Theatre Film & TV,” he said (Yep, there we go) “Can we film you walking up those steps again, it’ll only take a couple of minutes…?”

So they filmed me going up the steps, down the steps, and standing at the top of the steps pretending to have forgotten something, and were very pleased with me for being able to look “dark and menacing” and “walking purposefully,” which was probably nice of them, although I wasn’t actually trying to look dark or menacing at all.

And, of course, when they said “two minutes,” they meant “it’ll be two minutes of film,” with the result I was there about half an hour. Still, it was vaguely amusing, I suppose, and I ran into no end of people I’d otherwise have missed (although off the top of my head I can only recall Coff & Ben Michael – apparently they’d both been to the lecture, which is a new one on me…), Sundeep, and Twenty-Three-Hour Hannah.)

And now I’m going to, uh, either sleep, have breakfast, or play RA2… Hm…

Probably not eat, actually; I woke up with a toothache this morning. Usually a bad sign, especially since it’s one of the ones where fully closing my jaw hurts because of the pressure on said tooth. Alarmingly (although it’s statistically very likely, I guess) the tooth in question is one of the root canal-ed ones, which, I’d taken to believing, were fairly indestructible, unless the entire huge lump of filling clumps out and chokes me to death.

O well. Yet more troubles. Think I’ve an appointment at some point next week anyway, to be honest.

O, and I get shown how the clean the DSS place on Portland Road at 1700 today, so I’ll be able to follow the “clean it anytime between 1700 and 0900, weekdays” policy and have some free time in the early evenings from tomorrow onwards.

Have fun!

And so it begins…

This is going to be a tiring week, I suspect; especially since I woke up this morning and had to really strain to keep my eyes open. *sigh* O well.

Room C, the big huge one, is now taken by some girl doing a postgraduate course in fish, according to her chum. In some ways, this is good – we’ve three housemates, and they’re all postgraduates, which suggests they’re not too loud and crass, because at some point they’re going to have to do some work this year. First years, on the other hand, would’ve been a nightmare. Still, I’m a bit cheesed off by the way PJM said they’d look into letting me swap rooms, and then fobbed me off with sappy excuses each time I pestered them until they gave the room to a girl with so fewer boxes than me it looks like she’s never even seen Amazon, and wouldn’t know an impuse buy if the bank manager hit her in the face…

Today I bought new shoes, hooray! New shoes! At long bloody last… Entertainingly, the woman in Clerks spotted the state of my current shoes (really, absolutely, falling apart at the seams, and where there aren’t seams, they’ve fallen apart anyway, plus the soles are wearing through…) and watched me try on a new pair of, uh, exactly the same design, but with something called “Active Air,” which seems to be a sole full of gaps, at a cost of £20. When I started pulling my old shoes back on…

Assitant: Are those new ones OK, sir?
JTA: Er, yes, I think so. Very comfy.
Assistant: I’ll just take them to the checkout for you, shall I?
JTA: Er… Yeah, OK, then.

I feel a little offended that they assumed I needed another pair, though – I could have had lots of other pairs of shoes, some of which with marginally fewer holes in. Still, I’ve got a new pair, now, so I’ll slap some polish on ’em over the next day or so, and start wearing them when I’ve got a minute to sit down and change pairs without falling asleep!

Christ, I think I’m supposed to register at some point. Somewhere I have forms I need to take. O dear…

You arrogant menopausal *bitch*…

…God’s teeth the people in reception down here pissed me off just now. We haven’t, you see, been given the e-mail giving us 48-hours notice of our need to move out and transfer up to PJM. And Ruth, it turned out last night when I went down to find out why there wasn’t a transfer notice on my door, found out that whilst I was due to transfer on Sunday, Ruth wasn’t.

So today we went down there and asked if this was true, and could Ruth be put on the transfer list and the bitch at the back there – Mary, I think she was – said “no, you have to move out by 10 o’ clock this morning.” Said this, mark you, at a quarter past nine, without our having had any notice of moving! Christ, we’d only started packing because we thought it was probably this weekend; nobody had actually told us anything.

And then the jumped up little fuckbitch tried to suggest it was all our fault, and we couldn’t have Ruth stay another night because “who’s going to pay for it”!

Frankly, I’m up to here with being shitted about anyway, and I’m not standing for that bollocks from anyone too incompetent to extend a transfer like the ones they do at least twice every year, just because they can’t find a name on the list…

…Contrast this with the dude I just spoke to in PJM about transferring, a dude who knew all about what was going on, and add to it the poor ruddy porter they just sent round with a chitty telling him that I was due to move out today (despite the fact that I was told only last night I didn’t have to leave until the 20th at the latest, and my place in PJM wouldn’t be availiable until the 18th), and we suddenly find ourself deep in Speaking To Elaine Watkin territory with a Complaint.

Because, frankly, I’m paying money I still don’t really have for putting up with being crapped over by these dicks, and I had to get up before 9am to boot, despite not getting to bed until 3am because of trying to tidy the fucking flat. And a ruddy complaint, frankly, is too good for the arrogant cretinous bitch.