Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Halloween update

Just got back from Dr. Faustus. The play was fantastic, but the company was somewhat lacking.

Halloween News

Happy Halloween, y'all. I've been having a browse through the Guardian online, an activitiy in which I attempt to indulge on at least a semi-regular basis. Today there were several articles which had me grumbling out loud to myself in my room. At moments such as that, I feel the need to share my grumbles with beings other than my assortment of potted plants. So here we go:

Blair refuses to 'undermine' troops with Iraq inquiry

Hang on a minute. How does an inquiry into the start of the war "undermine" the troops? The only people the TRUTH undermines are the criminals. Since we all agree that boys and girls on the ground being shot at are not responsible for starting the war (that credit falls squarely on the politicians), than revealing the truth can in no way damage or tarnish them. Headlines like this make me cringe. This could have come right out of the mouth of W. What are you hiding, Tony???

A huge war chest and soaring ratings -- Clinton looks beyond the senate

Is anyone else remotely bothered by the blatant double-entendre of the word "chest" in this context? How are we ever going to elect a woman if we can't get past the fact that she has boobs, people! Get over it.

Elephants pass mirror test of self-awareness

Cool. I've been saying it for years. Glad science finally caught up with me. Hopefully the recognition that elephants are self-aware will put that much more squeeze on the need to enforce the ivory ban. Probably not (hasn't done much for the chips or gorillas), but here's to hopin'. *raises mug of blueberry tea, takes swig*

New 'divorce' rights for unmarried couples

I have a real problem with this. I appreciate that the government is attempting to achieve what it thinks is protection for people suffering unfortunate financial consequences of breaking up, but in doing so they are seriously restricting the rights of citizens and effectively out-lawing unmarried cohabitation. By granting financial settlements including cash lump sums, monthly support, property, and even part of one partner's pension (!!!) to cohabitees who split up, the government is effectively saying you can't live together outside matrimony because by living together we are recognizing you as married. They are making the act of moving in together a significant financial committment. If people wanted that financial committment, then they could get married! Simple! The government is removing that in-between try-it-out-and-see-how-it-goes stage of unmarried cohabitation as a stepping stone option in many couples' relationships. This is a really really bad idea.

That is all. You may now proceed to eat your candy.

Monday, October 30, 2006


After that last post and the myriad of comments I'm now feeling the pressure to produce something witty and entertaining for your, erm, entertainment.

That got off to a good start.

I am terribly excited to have tickets to Dr. Faustus tomorrow at the Old Vic. This is my favourite play of all time, and I've never had the opportunity to see it performed. And what better way to spend Halloween than watching a play about an ambitious scholar make a pact with the devil?** I'll tell you. Seeing aforementioned play with recently acquired lovely new friend. Remember Anonymous of flirty comments fame? Yep. Several emails, a couple phone calls, two cups of coffee, one hamburger, and 50 million text messages later...

*Which is, of course, redundant, since Halloween means "All Hallow's Eve"

**Besides trick-or-treating. Or costume parties. Or the eternal answer to the question 'what better?'

Saturday, October 28, 2006

This just made my day

I was cycling home from training; tired, wet, dressed head to toe in spandex, 20 minutes outside Bristol, and being rained upon. I passed a bloke on his bike. This in itself in not extraordinary, nor is the fact that a few moments after I passed him (easily), he caught me up, huffing and puffing. (I have observed that males really hate being passed by females when cycling. Poor fragile male egos!) I was about to make a sarcastic crack about being passed by a girl, but before I could open my yap, the fellow let loose with,

"I just had to tell you, you offer the nicest rear view I've seen in ages!"

!!! What a hoot.

"Thank you, good sir," I replied, laughing broadly. "It's very nice of you to say. You just made my day."

"That's fair," he said. "The sight of you certainly made mine!"

By that point I was laughing too hard to respond, and he peeled off and went in another direction.

I was so glad he decided to be jovial and forthright and speak up. We are waaaaaaay too uptight in our culture about inappropriate comments and sexual harassment. It's gotten so it's almost impossible to have an innocent flirt anymore. How wonderful that he made free to pay me a friendly compliment and spread a bit of cheer.

So mate, wherever you are: thanks a million.

Friday, October 27, 2006


i really shouldn't put things in "a safe place." the minute i do i'm doomed to never see the thing again. much better to leave crap lying out all over the place. there's an envelope around here somewhere...

Thursday, October 26, 2006

Vincent Price Drinking Game

I just made up a new drinking game! How cool am i!

I was at a CMS party recently (Centre for Medieval Studies), which consisted of a 2 inadequate pizzas and a cheesy VP movie from the 60s, selected because it was nominally set in the middle ages (though what century was anyone's guess). It was called The Mask of the Red Death or some such, and it was a bit of a cross between the Pardoner's Tale, the Princess Bride, and Josepph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat. It really should have been named Vincent and the Amazing Technicolor Plague Movie. But no one asked me.

You know how some movies are so bad, they're good? (Clash of the Titans leaps to mind.) This one wasn't. It was just bad.

But it had all the necessary elements of a corny VP horror movie. I was ticking them off a mental list as the movie wore on. This led me to think that there really ought to be a...


Here are The Rules: take a drink whenever...
  • you hear disembodied maniacle laughter
  • a girl in a nightgown is someplace she shouldn't be
  • a girl wipes a cobweb off her face
  • a candle blows out for no apparent reason
  • the violins in the score give you your emotional cues
  • a chair that appears empty from behind swivels slowly to reveal the presence of the villian (two drinks if the villain is Vincent)
  • someone makes a dramatic exit by swining a cape over his shoulders
  • Vincent says "Oh no, my dear."
  • someone is startled by a dead, stuffed, and mounted animal trophy
  • a girl screams
  • someone whispers a mundane bit of dialogue for dramatic effect
  • the curtains blow
  • a corpse opens it's eyes (two drinks if the corpse is Vincent.)

Happy Halloweeeeeeeeeeen!!!!!!!

Monday, October 23, 2006


Today I was lying on my bed, thinking about the Pirate. (I won't tell you what I was doing other than thinking; that's not important right now.) I was remembering things we'd done together, and feeling really happy at the prospect of seeing him again. (30 days!!!)

And then something happened.

You know that song, "You are my sunshine, etc..." I've always hated that song. There's a line that goes "The other night, dear, as I lay sleeping, I dreamed I held you in my arms. When I awoke, dear, I could not find you, so I hung my head and I cried." It was kind of like that.

I thinking about him, smiling to myself, and then a memory leapt to my mind so suddenly and with such intensity that for a split second I thought it was real. I remembered the feel of his hair on my hands; the hair at the top of his neck when he is sweaty and it sticks together in little clumps, tiny dewdrops of sweat dangling from the end of each piece. And the immediate split second following I realized that it wasn't real, it wasn't happening, I was just remembering. This obvious truth hit me with such ferocity that broke down and wept, and am still crying as I type this.

And I don't know what makes me sadder: knowing that it will be another month (at least) before I see him again and get to re-live that memory, or knowing that after his return at some point he will have to leave again, and the next time it happens he could be gone for a year or more.

Sunday, October 22, 2006

Bike ride

I wrote this post a few weeks ago and promptly forgot about it. But here are some pretty pictures for you. :-)

Ah, autumn. My favourite season. September is without a doubt my favourite month. The weather in september is lovely all over the planet (except in the southern USA where it's hurricane season. But that doesn't count). I went for (another) long bike ride today, from Bristol to Bath and back. 28 miles round trip. I do this about 4 times a week. Here are some scenes from my most recent ride:

The road goes ever on and on...

Some kind of tree covered in red berries. Anyone out there know what they are? Lovely, aren't they?

the Avon. and Cows.

Ooh, the scary tunnel!

Friday, October 20, 2006

13 Boogity-woogities

Yet another meme stolen from First Nations.

1. whats the scariest movie you've ever seen?

I hate scary movies. They scare me. I avoid them like the plague. I have, on occasion, been suckered into watching one by people who have sworon up and down and on the bible, "It's not scary at all, I swear! It's funny!" I HATE THESE PEOPLE.

The scariest movies that have been unfairly inflicted on me are:
  • The teen flick where the dude fingers the girl on the roller coaster. That bit was good. The bit where he cut off her dog's head and stuffed it through the doggy door was less cool. I had nightmares for weeks afterward.
  • The one where the babysitter is getting creepy phone calls and the police trace the calls and they're coming from an old line in the attic. HE'S IN THE HOUSE!!! Argh! I couldn't answer the phone for weeks afterward. It was after watching that movie that I stopped speaking to the girls who tricked me into watching it becuase they thought it would be funny to terrify me. TERROR IS NOT FUNNY. EVER.
  • The Sixth Sense. Wally and Vi swore it wasn't scary. They said what a good film it was. At least they didn't taunt my fear. Vi felt really bad. She let me sleep in bed with her for the next month after. I coudn't get the image of the kid with half his head blown off outta mine.

2. what was your favorite halloween costume as a child?
When I was a kid we had to make all our own costumes. Never once had a store-bought one. Those were for losers. I did some doozies, too. The black cat was quite cool, as was the Ct. Dracula one. (I always had to be something scary. Cute costumes were for losers, too. Defeats the point of Halloween.) Orkash, the dark elf, wasn't bad either (except everyone thought I was Robin Hood.) But the best one of all time had to be.... the Blob. I kid you not. I melted green crayons into a pot of Vaseline, donned a garbage bag, and poured the green slime all over myself. Fucking. Genius.

3. If you had an unlimited budget, what would your Fantasy Costume be for this halloween?
Xena, Warrior Princess. I've got the legs, the arms, the shoulders, the 'tude. Just not the budget for the boob job. Man I wish I had Lawless's tits, to own or just to fondle. I could be happy with either.

(tree elf, Halloween '04. Dig the ears. and the sparkly hair.)

4. when was the last time you went trick or treating?

When I was 12 at a boy/girl Halloween party. Turns out I was only invited because the host girl's parents made her invite me. When we went trick-or-treating the rest of the kids ditched me and ran off. I hope someone smashed all their pumpkins. Little shits.

5. What's your favorite halloween candy?

6. recount a scary nightmare you had

I began having this recurring nightmare when i was about 5 or 6. I was sitting in my bed at night, and my mom was sitting in the rocker in my room, rocking quietly with her back to the window. A pair of rubbery, green, Gumby-esque hands reached into the window and snapped the shade up. Mom turned to pull the shade down again, but the hands were gone. I told her what I saw, but she didn't believe me. A moment later, the hands reappeared and snapped the shade up. When mom turned, they were gone again. Again, I told her what happened. This happened several more times until mom got tired of me telling fibs and left. then the hands reached into the window and the arms grew longer and longer and longer as the hands reached out for me, but no body ever appeared. i got out of bed and ran downstairs, the funny green hands following me all the way. then i wake up.

7. what is your supernatural fear?

I don't have any supernatural fears. My fears are all very natural. They are:
  • losing all the people i care about
  • living and ordinary life, accomplishing nothing, and being forgotten
  • nuclear war
  • global warming

8. What is your creepy crawlie fear?

Earwigs. The name says it all. Can't stand them. Also daddy-longlegs. But that's because I was tortured with them at summer camp by the other campers when i was a kid.

9. Tell us about a time you saw a ghost, or heard something go bump in the night.

It's these damned English semi-detatched houses. I was working as a nanny and living in a lovely edwardian semi in Chorlton, outside Manchester. I had been there for a week, looking after the kids, when the mom took the kids on holiday. I was left to look after the house and the cat. The first morning i woke up after the fam had gone i heard footsteps in the living room over my bedroom, which was in the basement. I listened. They were definately upstairs. I figured someone had been casing the joint, saw the fam leave for vacation, and not notice that the nanny was still around. seemed logical. I climbed out my window, went to the neighbors in my PJs, and aksed them to ring the police. The idiot police came with sirens blaring. Havn't these guys heard of a silent approach?! I stood at the neighbors and watched the proceedings through the window, clutching my tea. (There was a crisis, so naturally the first thing the neighbor did before calling 999 was put the kettle on! I love this place.) The first team the cops sent in was the canine unit. I felt very safe knowing there were massive alsatians on my side. good monsters. They cops did a really thorough check, but didn't find anything or anyone. Nothing was missing. They did ask me to take a look at the master bedroom, which was a wreck, but i assured them it always looked that way. It seems the footsteps I heard belonged to the neighbor in the other half of the house, but i had never heard them before becuase the noise of the kids drowned them out. as soon as the kids took off and the place was quiet i could hear all sorts of things coming from next door. bah.

10. would you ever stay in a real haunted house overnight?
sure. there's no such thing as haunted houses.

11. are you a traditionalist (just a face) or do you get really creative with your pumpkins?
I get creative with the scariness of the faces. Pumpkins must be scary, like costumes.

(Halloween '03. that was a good Jack.)

12. how much do you decorate your home for halloween?

I don't have a home. But I have a light-up plastic jack-0-lantern for my windowsill.

13. what do you want on your tombstone?
I don't want to be buried. I want to be laid in state in my scull, all my trophies and Olympic medals piled around me, then pushed out to sea and set alight with a flaming arrow while the black-clad throngs wail and mourn on the beach. You think I'm kidding, don't you?

Thursday, October 19, 2006

Sod's law

I lost my bank card. I avoided reporting it for a whole week because I'm prone to losing things and they usually turn up eventually. Finally i couldn't ignore the problem any more. I need a debit card to do things, such as purchase food to feed myself. So I reported it lost and/or stolen. I was informed that it would take a week for my replacement card to arrive. ! A week?! crazy. at my old bank they replaced cards in 48 hours guaranteed. bloody english beaurauacracy.*

so today my new card arrived. yay, thought i.

i got dressed to leave my flat, put on my corduroy jacket, and in the pocket i found my old card.

For fucks sake.

*i never did learn how to spell beauaearuarcracy. don't care, either.

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

37 days

37 days. He'll be back in 37 days. I can make it that long. I think I can make it that long. I think i can i think i can i think i can i think i can i think i can...

Sometimes when I think about him i smile so hard my face hurts, and walk down the street grinning like an idiot, joyful at my secret thoughts.* And sometimes when I think about him i start bawling because i miss him so much i think my chest will cave in, and i sit in my room and weep.

He's got email. He writes every day, but it's not the same. I miss the sound of his voice; his cheerful, confident demeanor; his breath, husky and ragged on my neck. I miss how keen he is about absolutely everything, his rediculous joie de vivre. I miss the way we laugh when we are in bed together, like when our sweaty stomachs smack together and create and airlock and get suck, and then the skin makes a giant farting noise when we pull ourselves apart. We have no shame, nothing embarasses us, we are human, and totally forgiving. I love the way he looks at me.

God i miss him. I'm horny as hell and ovulating and i miss his hands, his shoulders, his ass, his thighs like oak timbers, his etcetera, i miss i miss i miss i miss i miss i miss i miss i miss i miss...

i have become the most self-centered person alive. i have 4 flatmates. i don't give a shit about their problems. i barely even listen when they talk. they are people, with lives and issues and thoughts and feelings but when they talk all i hear is 'yadda yadda yadda.' i can't think of anything but my Pirate and my lonliness.

sometimes 37 days seems like nothing at all. it will fly by i know. i'm so busy i don't have time to scratch my butt, let alone miss him. but then i think about everything i have to accomplish before he arrives: BIRCs, 4s head, finish another chapter, training, departmental seminars, training, tutoring, cycling, training, birthdays, cards, letters, phone calls, halloween, grading papers, collecting essays. so much to do before then, 37 days seems like years away.

37 days
37 days
37 days
37 days
37 days
37 days
37 days
37 days
37 days
37 days
37 days
37 days
37 days
37 days
37 days
37 days
37 days
37 days
37 days
37 days
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37 days
37 days
37 days
37 days

*the secret thoughts half the planet has read because i publish them here.

Martha Stewart, kiss my ass

I am the new domestic goddess. This weekend I:

...baked a cake for 2 of my friends whose birthdays are very close to one another. (The frosting has holes in it because the photo was taken after we took the candles out.)

...made 4 bottles of sloe gin and 3 bottles of blackberry vodka. Yes, I picked the berries myself.

*air guitar*

The gin had only been bottled for 1 day when I took this pic, but look at the gorgeous colour in the big bottle. That's gonna be a good batch.

...baked a couple pumpkins down to prepare the meat for use in such fabulous things as pies, bread, and muffins. Did you know that 95% of all the pumpkins grown in america are used for decoation??? It's a crime! EAT YOUR FUKING PUMPKINS! THEY'RE DELICIOUS!

...made a pot of chicken and fennel stew. The stock I made from the carcass of the chicken I roasted on saturday. I boiled it for 4 hours with bay leaves and an apple. For the stew I added onion, fennel, celery, beans, potato, and fresh thyme, and cooked it for another 3 hours.

You may now wipe the drool off your keyboard.

Monday, October 16, 2006

This morning I learned

that no matter how hard you try, regardless of how how much you contort your body...

...you cannot pull your underwear out of your ass while wearing boxing gloves.

Friday, October 13, 2006

You really shouldn't waste your time reading this one

You're really not going to let this go, are you? Ok, fine then. Here's what's been going on:
(don't say I didn't warn you):

First, the money thing. Namely, I don't have any. The Bristol U finance office fucked up (read: LOST) the paperwork for my federal student loan. I should have had the money weeks ago. I was expecting it any second. Here's the timeline:

August somthing: I took my Student Aid Report to the Bristol Finance Office, whose job it is to apply for the loan on my behalf.

September: The FO informed me thy needed something called a Master Promissory Note. They were unable to tell me how to get this, I had to figure it out. I got the MPN, signed it, and took it in to them. They thanked me, and told me they needed my SAR (the thing I gave to them in August). I heaved a sigh, went and got another copy of my SAR and gave it to the FO. They assured me they would get my my $18,500 as soon as possible.

October: I wait nervously for my $$$ to arrive.
Last saturday: I call home to find out when my parents are due back from holiday. The dogsitter informs me that there was a message on the answering machine from SallieMae (the lender) stating that my loan application is incomplete and cannot be processed.

Monday: I send an email to the woman in the FO who handles my case. (I would have gone personally but scheduling didn't permit.) I told her about the message. She replied to the email and said I should find out what exactly the problem is. How? I thought. The application was filed from your office! I don't have any contact information at all. So in the afternoon I walk up to the office and ask in person, expaining that I have no means of investigating the trouble. The woman in the FO (let's call her Troll, shall we?) is one of those people who can't be bothered to do her job. Whenever you ask her to do something that is the thing she is paid to do, she heaves a great sigh and makes likes she's doing you a huge personal favor out of the goodness of her heart. The only way to get her to do anything is to appeal to her sense of charity and let her believe she's some kind of fucking saint for bending over backwards to help you. This is why she is a Troll.* Troll phones SallieMae, they tell her everything is fine, they will cut the cheque on Wednesday, and I will have it by Friday. Too bad my rent is due on Thursday, and will be deducted from my account automatically by direct debit.

Tuesday: I get an email from SallieMae telling me my loan app is incomplete. Remember, this is after Troll called them and supposedly sorted everything out. I pray that the email was sent automatically, and that everything is still fine. There was a toll free number, so I rang it. They told me they never received my MPN. You remember the MPN, right? The one I took the FO back in September? Yeah, that one.

Wed: I download another MPN from the web, sign it, and take it up to the FO. The whole office is in a meething, there is no one there to help, and I will be gone the rest of the day. Bugger.

Thursday (yesterday): I took the MPN to the FO, Troll gets all huffy about how she sent the last one, I ask her sweetly to just send this by the fastest means possible as otherwise I won't get any money. She agrees. (How good of her.)

Friday (today): I receive a phone call from HSBC. My account is overdrawn, but as an international student I'm not allowed to have an overdraft. I had told my landlord on Monday about the difficulty, but it seems he wasn't able to halt the direct debit. SO, HSBC informs me that I'm 400 quid overdrawn, and i'm going to incur all kinds of penalties and feeces and interest. The woman from HSBC (who called me, remember), told me that I had to call another number. I rang the number, but because I was calling from Skype I wasn't able to navigate their number menu thingy, and I couldn't get a person to pick up the line. So I walked around the corner to my local branch (wearing a tight, low-cut blouse. Don't look at me like that - most bankers are men and I'll use every weapon in my arsenal, damnit.). After I waited in a queue for 45 minutes, I was helped by a lovely hormonal chap named J. J's eyes darted back and forth between the computer screen and my cleavage for 20 minutes. Good, pawn, good. After i 'splained the situation, J said that he would speak to his manger and see what could be arranged. A few minutes later he returned and informed me that the transaction would be reversed and as a good will gesture they'd get rid of the fees. (I have a new favorite blouse.)

And that's just the money issue. There was also the teaching thing.

I'm teaching a 2nd year literature class. This was the first week of class, which of course involved all kinds of logistical nitty gritty like contracts, room assignements, email lists, attendance forms, photocopies, etc. This wouldn't have been a problem, except that the University just restructured everything. The English department no longer has its own office; we're lumped into a central office with several other departments in the newly created School of Humanities. So I'm bugging the new office with all kinds of questions about aforementioned nitty gritty issues, and finally the woman says to me "you know, I put all this information in your pigeonhole. didn't you get it?"

"What pigeonhole?"

"Your staff pigeonhole. You're teaching staff now. You have a staff pigeonhole."

"I do? Where is it?"

"In G9."

"G9? Isn't that the photocopy room?"


"Isn't it locked?"

"Yes. Don't you have a key?"

"No I don't have a key! Where would I have gotten a key?! If you didn't give me one, then I clearly don't have one. May I have a key, please?"

"Sorry, I'm all out."

"Let me get this straight. You put a bunch of information in a pigeonhole that no one told me existed, that is in a locked room to which neither of us has keys. How exactly was I supposed to retrieve this information?"

I'm not kidding, it was like the opening sequence to Hitchiker's Guide.

In addition to all this hoo-ha, I was of course prepping for tutorials and doing actual teaching things.

Then we had the pain thing. The pain thing was because on Monday I began boxing again. My body was in agony. Following monday boxing which left me hobbling all over uni, i had to do a 2K erg test on tuesday morning. Naturally I overslept and didn't have time to warm up, so I did it cold. Needless to say, by tuesday evening I was in teeth-shattering agony. Every muscle in my body stiff and store. I couldn't move. I couldn't sit, stand, bend over, type, or take a piss. So that helped my mood.

Somewhere in there I'm supposed to be doing research. Whatever.

There were a few other more minor things, but that's the big stuff. And it all happened in the first part of this week. I'm better now. Mostly. The pain is better, anyway. My bank account is still a bit sore, but my quads are ok, and that's the important part.

Ooh, would you like some good news? Here are the good things that happened, all in the last 24 hours:
  • I bought plane tix yesterday for Christmas. That's tickets, plural. Two of 'em. One for me, and one for the Pirate, who is coming home with me for Christmas!!!!! YAY!!!! I can't wait for him to meet my family, and vice versa. I havn't been this excited about Christmas since I was about 10.
  • For my birthday presents, mom bought tickets to see Spamalot while the Pirate and I are home for the holiday. Whoo-hoo!
  • I took a bicycle ride this morning, and saw 3 deer. It was cool and grey and misty, a lovely autumn morning, and these three deer were lying in the grass of a field, having a bit of a lie-in.
  • I picked 3 pounds of sloe berries along the way, which will make me 3 pints of sloe gin. Mmmmm.
  • The Pirate's business excursion is half over, and he should be home in 6 more weeks, if all goes according to plan. Half way is good. This is the downhill stretch.

Are you still reading this? Good god. Get a life.

*I humbly apologize to any trolls reading this that may take offense at the comparison.

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Don't Panic

It's not the end of the world, i'm not dying or injured or homeless or expelled from uni. The first two days of this week nearly everything that could have gone wrong, did. I was a stress pot. I'm slightly better now, but i'm totally fucking knackered. (Was boxing for an hour this morning, cycled an hour to the boathouse, sculled for an hour in the quad, cycled an hour back. I'm tired.)

I will explaing everything in more detail when i get a second to breathe, but i just want to reassure you that all's, well, not well, but surviviable.

Thank you so much for your concern and sympathy. I really do appreciate it. It's the greatest blessing in my life to know that there are good people out there who care about my wellbeing, and to always know that i'm not alone. Thank you for being part of that, all of you. xxx

Monday, October 09, 2006


Shit, meet Fan. Fan, Shit.
[shaking of hands]
Can I offer either of you drink? No? Ok then, I'll just be over here in the fetal position while you two get better acquainted.

Sunday, October 08, 2006

In season

It must be the start of winter training - the blisters that migrate north for the summer have returned to Bristol and taken up their roost on my fingers.

Friday, October 06, 2006

Flipped like a fried egg

My brain has two modes: summer and winter. Yesterday it flipped over.

I'm rather impressed with myself. That's only aobut a week after the equinox. It seems my brain is rather on schedule with the season this, um, season. I remember this one time back when i was in high school that my brain flipped from winter to summer mode in the beginning of march. damn was i cold.

The modes, explained:

Summer Mode: the brain is active, the metablolism is high. The desire to feel grass between one's toes is almost overwhelming. The body feels free - uninhibited, exuberant. Salads, strong herbs, and loads of fresh veg are on the menu daily, as are yoghurt smoothies and milkshakes. Even when it is raining outside, the sun is shining inside. We wear as little clothing as is decent, and revel in the feel of the weather, beit sun, wind or rain, on our bare skin.

Winter Mode: the brain attempts hibernation (which is, regrettably, incompatible with PhD research). The metablolism slows (which is, regrettably, incompatible with winter rowing training). The body feels close, snuggly, and warm. We begin to crave rich foods, more meat, and root vegetables. We might even deign to eat a potato should the craving become sufficiently powerful. We wrap ourselves up in soft, fuzzy, warm clothing, and revel in the darkenss, and listen to the rain and wind lashing outside. It's all about the candlelight.

I'm very solar powered. The seasons have a powerful effect on my mood and mindset. I've often thought that i'd make a rather good druid, being so closely connected to the changing weather. In the summer i'm manic (unless i'm lying on a beach* somewhere listening to Enya and tanning my nipples). I have a really hard time focusing on anything. Come winter, though, when outside the windows is blackness, the world feels smaller. I can focus more on the tasks at hand. The walls close in and force one's attention inward.

I love winter.

*that said, in the summertime you're much more likely to find me running on the beach where the sand is wet and hard, barefoot, listening to Chariots of Fire and fantasizing about the Olympics.

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

The lighter side

That's enough intelligent debate for one day. Let's look at some much-awaited hamster photos, shall we?

Bluto's new palatial habitat.

(The hamster's view)

Aw! Little fuzzy dude! All bow down before His Majesty The Schmuggleware!

*blows stupid trumpet noises with lips*

Hamsta' Paradise: wolfin' down the chizzow in the seed dish.

His Roundness, in all his corpulent glory.

There is sadness and misery and starvation and war and genocide and bigotry and abuse outside, but inside there is love and fuzz and, most importantly, an abundance of sunflower seeds. Let happiness reign supreme!

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

These are the things that keep me up at night

Are liberals tolerating themselves right out of existence? In our insistence to let everyone have their say, including facists, racists, and those who oppose free speech, are we allowing those who don't share our liberal values to take over our culture? Is the only way to defeat our enemies to become them? And is that any better?

Example: In America right now, crazy Jesus-krispies want to eliminate the teaching of evolution in schools. They know they can't get it banned, so they're settling to have Intelligent Design taught in science class along side evolution as a viable, scientifically-based alternative viewpoint to "Darwinism." Obviously this is crap, but their arguement goes something like this: "We're not tyring to make your kids agree with us. We just want all sides of the arguement presented so young people can make up their own minds."

It sounds terribly rational doesn't it? It makes them sound like they are the all-tolerant ones, and us crazy liberal "open-minded" east coast eitists are tying to quash their humble faith. (Of course, it completely ignores the fact that ID has nothing to do with science and there is no "arguement" in the scientific community about the credibilty of evolution via natural selection. Just goes to show how carefully they've chosen their words.)

In our advocacy for freedome of religion, expression, thought, and speech, we've paved the way for those who disagree with us to take over and remove from our society the very values that enable their rise to power.

Here's another example: that crazy Muslim cartoon fiasco in Denmark last year. The drama from which is still on-going, by the way. The artists of the cartoons, who were making a political statement about Islamic self-censorship, are still in hiding. There are still black-market rewards out for their heads, and they will never again be able to live a normal life. Their families are still in serious danger. Many of the Muslims who called for the death of these cartoonists live in Denmark or elsewhere in Europe. These are immigrants who demand that we tolerate their religion and culture, but are activley trying to oppress ours, the open, freedom-loving cultures to which they immigrated.

An article in the Guardian the other day asked "To what degree to we as a society accommodate these views?" To which I respond, "Why is this even a question? Why do we even attempt to accommodate people who demand special priveleges for themselves that they deny others?" Whatever happened to "As long as you live in my house, you live by my rules." Didn't we all hear that from our parents at some point in our teenage years? Did no one tell them it's just plain rude to walk into someone's home and tell them how to live their lives? Did I just write an entire paragraph containing nothing but questions?

I was thinking about the article I posted on M.E. the other day. The one about the poor dockworkers who banded together to prevent a bunch of facists from demonstrating in their neighborhood way back in the day. I applaud their efforts. But technically, shouldn't the facists have been allowed to march? What about their freedom of speech?

The Ku Klux Klan is still alive and well in the US of A. I hate the Klan. They're a bunch of racist, sexist, homophobic, anti-semetic fascists. A couple years back they had a rally in Cleveland, Ohio. The citizens of clevelend were so upset the National Guard had to be called in to protect the Klan members. The ACLU (American Civil Liberties Union), non-profit champion of civil rights for minority groups in America, actually went to court to defend the Klan's constiutional right to freedom of assembly. (Wouldn't you have hated to be the lawyer that got handed that case?) This is an organization that normally defends the rights of blacks, gays, and jews. And here they found themselves in a position where they had to acknowledge the rights of the people whose sole mission is to remove rights from minority groups! Ow, the irony!

(This is a really crummy transition, but bear with me here)

The Pirate is Christian. (I told you it was a crummy transition.) A fairly devout one at that. Being a militant atheist myself, this has prompted some very intimate and personal discussions about what we believe, what values are important to us, and what values we can tolerate and respect in other people. To help me better understand his position, he gave me a copy of "Mere Christianity" by C.S. Lewis. Lewis's book essentially takes a single, fundamental premise, and from that creates a (seemingly) rational arguement whereby if you believe the first premise, you must wind up a the end of the road accepting Jesus Christ as your savior. The fundamental principle on which the work is based is this: some moral codes are superior to others.

The idea of relative superiorities of moralities is something I've been struggling with for some time. I always thought that no culutre's moral code was superior to any one else's, that no culture could be judged better or worse than another, that every culture was different, but ultimately equal. (Herebe, I can already hear you plotting your comment in my head!) I was taught this as part of my education on why it was wrong to massacre the Native Americans by the millions. I was taught it there was no such thing as absolute right and wrong, that everything we percieved as right and wrong was a product of our culture, and we have no right to impose those views on another culture.

But what if another culture tries to impose thier views on me? Lately I find myself thinking, "Hang on a minute. there are some things that are just plain wrong, i don't care who you are or what your culture tells you. Stoning a woman for adultery (when her accomplice - remember it takes two to tango - goes free) is wrong. FGM is wrong. Killing someone because he drew a picutre you don't like is wrong. Burning churches and killing nuns because you don't like something someone said is wrong."

Isn't it?

I'm sure it must be. Why am I so sure? Am I sure?

When do we have to stop tolerating what other people justify in the name of their culutre? And when does that intolerance turn us into those same people?

I never thought of people who disagreed with my views as "my enemy." But then they declared me their "enemy." I do not seek war, but it seems to have come to my front door. I do not welcome it, but I cannot igore it. How do you defeat your enemy without becoming him? I'm having a crisis of faith. I'm losing faith in my morality, my confidence, my self.

These are the things that keep me awake at night.

Sunday, October 01, 2006

I accept your dare

I stole this meme.

How my mom sees me:

How my dad sees me:

How my brother sees me:

How my academic advisor sees me:

How my flatmates see me:

How the Pirate sees me. literally.

(yes, that really is the top of my head.)

How the Pirate sees me, metaphorically speaking:

(Fine print: This is not to suggest the Pirate's sexual orientation is anything other than advertised. Only that he has way more confidence in my talent than is healthy.)

How Bluto sees me:

("I am become Green Grocer, bringer of vegetables.")

More of how Bluto sees me:

How Bluto sees himself:

How I see myself:

(no self-esteem problems here, i assure you.)