Friday, May 25, 2007


Tut! It's been a week again. Bad blogger!

It's been a heavy week, because I've been working my butt off to get my last assignment done in between shifts at work.

But behold! 'Tis complete!! (Although technically I also have to finish off the 750 word rationale that is supposed to accompany it, but shhhh.)

My book

It took ages to get it to look right and stupid Publisher was annoying me because it refused to print without white borders (why? WHY?? Probably now someone will comment telling me exactly how I could have overcome that particular difficulty).

My book

But actually, Publisher was nothing - N.O.T.H.I.N.G - compared to the problems I had at the copy shop! For one thing I was charged an unbeliveable amount of money which, despite me having shown them my student card, I don't believe for one second they actually gave me the discount, but just tried to get as much money out of me as possible.

My book

Not only that, but because the Publisher issue meant I had trimmed the edges and therefore the double pages were slightly less than A3, the kid who served me copied them so that the pages didn't actually align on each side. When I went back he reckoned he was going to charge me again, but I nearly broke down in hysterical tears and the new copies came free of charge after all. Of course, this was after I showed him how, if you line the fold in the centre of the page up to the halfway mark both times, then both sides will be aligned. How clever! What genius! How ironic that I apparently know more about photocopying than someone who actually works in a photocopying shop, who told me that the only way to line it up was to scan it into a computer and print it out at £10 A SIDE! and that if he didn't push the paper right into the corner of the photocopier it wouldn't copy. SURPRISE! It did. Clearly I am a photocopying genius and should give up my teaching career to join the lofty heights of copying. Judging by what they charged me, I probably would actually make more money!

My book

Friday, May 18, 2007

Conversations on the patio

"It's funny, I don't look like someone who talks about poo."

"And what? I do look like someone who talks about poo? You totally look like someone who talks about poo. Every time I look at you I think of poo."

I live with some charming girls! ;)

Monday, May 14, 2007

The logic of fools

So, Friday night Milly and I were having some people over. We went to Asda to get wine and nibbles and a few other essentials we would need during the week - as we frequently do, Asda being the biggest and cheapest supermarket nearby.

We got to the checkout and divided our stuff from the trolley, splitting the stuff for that night so we'd each pay for a bottle of wine and a couple of bags of crisps. Milly's stuff was put through first and I went to help her pack and fit it in the trolley, which we had already loaded up with our purchases from other shops.

As the cashier scanned the bottle of wine she turned and asked us both for ID. It's pretty much a nationwide policy to check for ID if the person looks under 21, even though the legal age for buying alcohol is 18. I can't really decide if I'm flattered or annoyed at being asked for ID now that I'm 26, but I got out my driving licence anyway and showed her. Milly had forgot hers and she rifled through her purse trying to find it to no avail.

"Don't worry," I said, "I'll pay for the wine."

"I can't sell it to you," said the cashier. "She hasn't got ID."

"But I have," I replied. "You've just seen it. I'll pay for the wine."

"No I can't let you do that. I need to see ID from both of you. It's the law."

"It's NOT the law!" I raised my voice a bit, uncertain if I was actually correct.

She called her supervisor over.

"We have to see ID from both of you," said the supervisor. "You can't buy wine for her if she's not got ID."

"Fine," I said, "but I can still get the bottle of wine I was planning on getting, right? The one that's with all my shopping here?"

"No, I can't let you buy that either."

"Why not? I'm 26 years old and you've seen my ID, why won't you let me buy a bottle of wine?"

"Because you're together and she hasn't got ID."

"Right, so if I load all this into the car and come back in on my own, with my ID, then I can buy some wine."

"No, because you've just been refused."

Steaming and wineless we left Asda. I spent a while Googling when I got home because I could not believe they had refused me just because I was with Milly (who is, incidentally, 21 and more than old enough to buy alcohol even if she did forget her ID). What if I'd been with a child who obviously wouldn't have been old enough? Would they have refused to serve me if I'd come in with a little kid? Then again, children are allowed to drink in their own home at some ridiculous age over here. I think it's 5 or something. So I could well be buying alcohol with the intention of giving some of it to a child. Plus, my understanding is that if I were to ever have a moment of stupidity and buy alcohol for some of those kids who hang around outside off-licences and try to get adults to buy beer for them, I'd be the one who was liable for prosecution, not the shopkeeper who sold it to me.

And how long would I have had to wait before I could go in and buy alcohol there having been refused? If I'd driven the car away and come back 2 hours later would that have made a difference? They can't possibly refuse to serve me alcohol in Asda for the rest of my life because I once tried to buy a bottle of wine with a 21-year-old who didn't have any ID. Plus, there are so many checkouts at Asda I doubt they would have even realised if I'd come back in and gone to a different one.

Google didn't tell me anything conclusive, but nowhere did I find proof that an adult should be refused because they are with someone who may be underage. I know we have a dangerous culture of youth binge-drinking in this country and I think it's great that supermarkets are joining the fight to somehow prevent it, but there comes a point where it really has gone too far.

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

Footballers have problems too! Who knew?

(Sorry about the subtitles. Only decent copy I could find.)

I have seen this advert twice recently and both times I have felt...well...sickened really.

Honestly, what do Adidas' advertisers think they are doing sticking this sort of rubbish on our screens? I mean really, I know I find hope in the fact that David Beckham can get over what happened in 1998. After all, tripping an opposing player in a moment of adolescent-type stroppiness really is a "dark time". I don't know why people moan about their lives, when really none of us have experienced anything as awful as that. There is a lot of suffering in this world - people are abused, hurt, beaten, lose those they love and experience overwhelming depressions - but Becks knows what it's like to sink to the depths, after all, he did cry for almost 5 or 10 whole minutes! That is true despair. I can't even imagine how awful it must have been for him to cry for that long. And only have his millions of pounds and wife to comfort him.

I really have no idea what kind of idiot came up with the concept for this commercial but they seriously need their head examining.

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Once again my uni surpasses itelf!

It has been a crazy week. I had Dorthe staying until Friday and the weekend has gone in a complete blur, so much so that I got very confused when my alarm went off this morning and I really wasn't sure what day it was. I am up to my ears in coursework and, of course, I'm off to Denmark in a few days (we leave Saturday!) and before then I also have to do things like get money changed up and make sure I have everything I'll need for a week in a foreign country.

Despite being so busy last week and feeling the constant pressure to entertain my guest, I did manage to grab a couple of hours whilst the exchange students were in school to get my RE assignment done. None of our assignments we have at the moment are due in until April, but RE seemed the simplest so I thought I'd get that thousand words out the way so I could concentrate on the other 5,500 (and the children's book) I have to write before the end of April.

This week is 'Themed Week' at uni. I'm pretty sure it's more or less a time killer between the two exchange weeks, but whatever, it means we're only in uni two days this week and I'm pretty happy about that. Yesterday was a day off so I spent a good portion of the day writing notes for my English Diversity and Change essay. This morning I came in early, all ready to hand in my RE, just needing to print a header sheet off the student portal as all work must have a personally-barcoded header sheet attached to it so it can be scanned in and they can print you a receipt incase they, you know, lose your work - which actually seems to happen far more than you'd suspect.

HOWEVER, the joyousness of my university is that it seems to delight in irritating the life out of me. So of COURSE, the one header sheet (and the only one) not available on the portal at the moment is the RE one. TYPICAL!!!

Oh well, I'm off to pick up my plane ticket to Denmark in a little while. Scary!

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

Stick Stuff On Your Head Day 2007

Well, according to Mr Cactus over there, it's Stick Stuff On Your Head Day 2007. And who am I to argue with the logic of a prickly pear? It's true, we all need to take a step back and not take life so seriously from time to time. So, without further ado:

Stick Stuff On Your Head Day 2007

Stick Stuff On Your Head Day 2007

Stick Stuff On Your Head Day 2007

PS: My photos from the weekend are now up at Flickr!

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

And so it begins...

Yes, the packing has begun. I have spent most of the day doing it and what do I have to show for that? Six boxes. Which doesn't seem like very much in the grand scheme of things. Particularly as I look round my flat and realise just HOW MUCH STUFF I HAVE! WHAT IS WITH ALL THE STUFF? SURELY I CAN'T POSSIBLY NEED IT ALL? AND HOW WILL I EVER PACK IT?

Okay, enough with The Crazy and on with the grind. Overall, I am pleased that I have had a productive day as we all know what I'm like with the procrastination and the staying in bed til noon on my days off. Well, I'll have you know I was up before nine today. Before! Nine! On my day off! Well, I was impressed with myself.

I went into town, got some stuff done and bought some more bin bags because I just know I will need plenty this week as I am bound to find loads of stuff that can and should be thrown out. And I packed six boxes. Of course they are six boxes I can barely lift myself, but that's why you should always employ the talents of some fairly strong boys come moving day. I will be liberally inviting all and sundry from the church student and 20s contact list to come and help at my "moving party".

(See what I did there? Clever huh? Call it a party and they'll come running!)

Thursday, February 01, 2007

A poignant moment

Ethel - my little car - had her last day on the road yesterday. We went for a little drive last night. It was nice.

This would be proof that I have far too much time on my hands if it weren't for the fact that actually I have a ridiculous amount to do. This is in fact proof that I am a procrastinator extraordinaire, but seriously, how much more fun is it to make a satyrical memorial video for your car than, say, write a justification for a lesson plan or a reflective commentary on a maths problem?

Yes, I am well aware that I am probably the only person who finds this funny!

I am such a geek!

Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Like I'm that stupid

Whilst in the process of swapping over to Gmail, which is supposed to have much better spam filters, I still get plenty of junk on my old email address that Outlook doesn't manage to filter out. I've received several letters like this over the last few weeks. Italics are, of course, mine:

Important Message .

Good day,
My name is . CPT.Babara J. Minnich, I am an American soldier, I serve in the Military of the 1st Armored Division in Iraq, as you know we have being (Have being? What do they teach in those American schools?) attacked by insurgents everyday and car bombs. We where lucky to move funds belonging to Saddam Hussein?s family hopping it was a bomb in the box, (I'm always hopping for bombs. Or occasionally skipping. Depends on the situation) later we find out it was a fiscal cash .
The total amount is US$10,000,000 Ten Million United State dollars in cash, mostly 100 dollar bills which is still in our co sturdy at the military base camp, now we find it as a Big Risk (Gotta love Random Capitalisation) us if the Iraqis People get to find out about this box of money because we are not allowed to have any money in our position for that We are seeking for a (I am in awe of this grammar. IN. AWE!) trustworthy foreign business partner who can help us in receiving this box of money (Random line indent!)
so that He/She may invest it for us and keep our share for banking. This is our plan of sharing my partner and I will take 60%, you take the other 40%.

No stress attached, for we have made all necessary arrangement for shipping it out of Iraq, Iraq is a war zone. (No? Is it? I had no clue as I have been living under a large rock) We planed on using diplomatic courier service for shipping the money out in one large silver box declaring it as family valuables using diplomatic immunity. (Cunning!)
If you are interested I will send you the full details, my job is to find a good partner that we can trust to assist us. Can I trust you? When you receive this letter, kindly send me an e-mail signifying your interest including your most confidential telephone/fax numbers for quick communication also your contact details. This business is risk free. (Apart from the fact that we will have your "most confidential" phone numbers and address!) The box can be shipped out in 48hrs. Please send your reply to my private mail box:

CPT.Barbara (Note this is the one and only time she correctly spells her own name - with two r's) Joan Minnich

I mean, HELLO? Like I would be that dumb as to send you my contact details, especially to a different email address than the one this one arrived from. And, let's face it, even if this were genuine (and pigs were circling the sky as I type) anyone with such a terrible grasp of the English language does not deserve $6,000,000!

Proper post coming soon...I promise :)

Thursday, January 18, 2007

Things I have learned over the last few days

(Because lists are cool and you know it!)

I don't know nearly as much about grammar as I thought I did.
I always thought I was pretty good at grammar. English has always been a strong subject for me, but on Tuesday when my English teacher asked us to insert relative and non-finite clauses into a sentence, I had to admit that I had NOT A CLUE what she was talking about. And she's the kind of scary teacher you don't want to get things wrong in front of. Thankfully no one else seemed to know what she was on about either. *phew*

My university SUCKS at organising timetables.
Rewind to September, when we received this year's timetable. Straightaway we realised there were clashes. My course is made up of about 120 people (was 150 but the drop-out rate is quite high) so we are divided into 5 'A' groups of - now - around 25 people. We stay with the same group in every subject throughout our three years except for in our specialism subject, for which we are mixed up with people from other groups.

I specialise in English - despite my abysmal grasp of grammar - and so do a lot of people. So there are two English groups. So we noticed in September that one of the English groups clashed with one of our core curriculum subjects. I mentioned it to my tutor and she said they were aware and it would be resolved. So I went off to do my school placement and then just after Christmas we received an email with a revised timetable on it that had moved the English groups. However, there was now a clash for one of the other A groups. In the end we received a message that we would all meet as one English group (over 30 people, really too many for one group). So last Thursday we did. But the tutor passed around a sheet to indicate which day we could do - Wednesday or Thursday and said they'd try and see if they could arrange two groups.

So yesterday I figured there was no English seminar as I assumed we were still meeting as one group. Plus there was a meeting timetabled for the beginning of today's English seminar that everyone had to attend. However, we bumped into our tutor yesterday morning and she said there was, in fact, an English group scheduled for yesterday afternoon. There were 4 of us who actually turned up for it, plus 5 foreign exchange students. And I still had to go in this morning for the meeting. All in all: total nightmare.

The words to the 1989 Milky Way advert
Courtesy of Ali's mad YouTube searching skillz!
The red car and the blue car had a race,
All red wants to do is stuff his face
He eats everything he sees from trucks to prickly trees
But smart old blue he took the Milky Way
He's looking for a chocolate treat, fluffy and light
'Cause he knows it won't spoil his appetite (mmm, mmm, mmm)
Oh no! The bridge has gone!
Old red can't carry on.
But smart old blue he took the Milky Way.

Wind is seriously scary!

There are some crazy-ass weather conditions going on over here. Look what happened to my neighbour's fence:

The wind has taken on a mind of its own. All afternoon I've heard it howling around the buildings searching for things to blow over. On the road earlier I could feel my car being pushed to one side of the road (unless there is just something ELSE wrong with my car, which really, enough already!).

Tuesday, January 09, 2007

Organisation and communication: a study

A year ago this Friday I went to bed like normal. At around half past two I was woken by the piercing scream of the fire alarm. I lay there for a moment, my sleep-fuddled brain trying to process what was happening. I figured someone in one of the other flats had burnt some toast or something dumb like that, but the alarm persisted so I figured I should get up and see what was going on. I went to flick the light on, but when I hit the switch nothing happened. Odd, but I barely gave it a second thought, still semi-dozing even though I was on my feet.

I went to get my dressing gown as it was bad enough to think of facing my neighbours looking as rough and half-asleep as I did, let alone wearing my pyjamas. I opened my bathroom door to take my dressing gown off the hook on the other side of it and was enveloped by a thick cloud of black, toxic-smelling smoke. Through the haze I could vaguely see what looked like flames. I may or may not have said a couple of four-letter words and ran to get my phone. I called the fire brigade as I ran down the stairs, trying also to tell my neighbours over the screech of the alarm that it was a REAL FIRE, as they were tutting and shaking their heads at the fire alarm panel because it wouldn't reset. Well, duh!

So the fire brigade came and did their thing and I was homeless for three weeks while my flat was repainted. The damage was minimal really, but one thing that did get badly damaged was my ICT coursework, which was lying on the living room floor - open and almost completed - at that point and got trodden on by several firemen.

I got an extension on it, no problem - no one can really say anything to you when your flat's just caught fire - and I handed it in in April I think as I had to start again from scratch.

Skip several months to early September, when I'm waiting for my results to come back. Just before the beginning of the new academic year, the university sends you a sheet of all your results, saying whether you passed or failed and therefore, whether or not you may continue into the next year of study. When mine finally came through, it said I could continue into the second year, but that I had failed ICT.

I couldn't believe I had failed it, as although it was quite long and boring to do, it wasn't really that hard. I was annoyed, but rang the university to arrange to pay to retake the module and then emailed my ICT tutor to ask for my work back so I could see where I needed to improve.

He emailed me back almost straightaway to say that I hadn't failed, he just hadn't marked my work yet! He had mislaid it, but he'd just found it and would mark it as soon as possible. I couldn't believe it, but waited patiently for the result. A few days later he emailed me to let me know I had got 69%. 1% away from a First. Pretty good really. So I rang the finance department back to let them know I had passed and didn't need to retake the module, therefore, shouldn't have to pay the money (which was £100 in case you're interested).

They said they couldn't take my word for it, but said the mark would come through the system from my tutor so I left it. A month or so later I got a letter from the finance department, asking for at least half of the £100 for my repeated module. I rang them and explained the situation again and was told to take it up with my tutor.

I spoke to my tutor again and he assured me he had sent the mark through, but would chase it up. I thanked him and got on with my school placement.

In December I got another letter, asking for my LATE payment of £100 for my repeated module. So I rang the finance department AGAIN and told them the whole story AGAIN and was AGAIN told to take it up with my tutor. So I emailed him AGAIN and he took the name of the person who had written to me and emailed her personally, cc-ing me and my personal tutor. He apologised but explained that there was a huge amount of bureaucracy and red tape between himself and the finance department but that he really hoped it would get sorted this time.

Today I went to the computer suite to go online during my 3 hour break between lectures, but coulnd't log on. I asked at the desk and when the lady there tapped in my ID number she told me there was a block on my account. I had to go to the Registry to hand in my Ed Studies assignment anyway, so I figured that while I was over there I'd ask what was going on.

But when I tried to hand in my coursework they wouldn't even let me do that because of the block on my account due to an outstanding £100! They referred me to finance and I went over, nearly in tears from frustration by this point and spoke to the lady at the desk, again explaining the entire situation. She took my name and ID number and the name of the module, spent 10 minutes or so on the computer and maybe 2 minutes on the phone and sorted the whole thing out. I handed in my coursework and went back to the computer suite to look at cars on

Now why couldn't they have done that back in September?!?

Don't forget you can still delurk! You have alllllll week :)

Monday, January 08, 2007

Delurk or Nunzilla will get you!!!

Today is the start of De-Lurking Week. For those of you who don't know, lurking is when you read someone's blog but don't comment....yeah, I'm looking at you!

I figured since I'm asking you all to comment, I should try and produce something comment-worthy, and so I present you with a random collection of pictures, videos and anecdotes that, at the very least, will make you think (in the style of Chandler Bing), "Could this BE any more random?"

Here is a video of the Christmas present I bought for Ali. Presenting.....NUNZILLA!

And here is a little sample of what Ali bought me for Christmas. As you can see I have already put them to good use!

Yes, she bought me bath crayons! They are cool! And I am SO not artistic hehe.

Last night I played Articulate with Ali and some other friends. If you've never played it before it is VERY funny. It involves describing a word on a card to your team. Some classic lines were uttered such as:
"You rob a....?"

"Swiss people wear them on their feet."
"YES!" (NB, Dutch people wear clogs.)

"Women have it."

Ali and I also spent part of the evening playing with our friend Colette's neice, Deanna, who decided that she was Pegasus, I was Hercules and Ali was Meg. That was, erm, fun. Also she found 10p in her tights. Yes, I am the queen of the completely surreal evening.

Tonight I went out with Ali again and we saw It's a Boy/Girl Thing which really is as dire as it looks. The highlight, however, was Ali singing along to I Think We're Alone Now (how could Girls Aloud cover such a classic song?) and absolutely belting it out at the moment the volume of the music on the film dropped to allow for dialogue. Fortunately for Ali there were only about 7 other people in the cinema. But they all heard. And laughed. We were the oldest people in there by about 8 years too! The shame!

Also, look:

I finished my Education Studies assignment. One. Day. Early! Woohoo!

Thursday, January 04, 2007

*drumroll please*

I GOT THINGS DONE TODAY!! I know, shock horror, please no one faint. Today I have:
  • Taken notes on the autism books I got out of the library
  • Done even more ironing (and yet still the pile seems to get no smaller. I have enchanted laundry!).
  • Done a whole pile of washing up that has been in the sink for way too long.
  • Gone for a walk in order to not be a total slob and actually get some form of exercise today (I considered going for a run, but really, let's not get too carried away, eh?).

Anyway, that's actually pretty much all I've done, but it took a long time, so there. I also managed to sleep through meeting my friend for breakfast. That was quite an accomplishment. Apparently, when I set my alarm last night I managed to turn it off by accident and without realising. Yes, the same alarm I have had for about 3 and a half years and have used every day since then. I woke up at 20 past 10 when my friend text me to ask if I was on my way as I was supposed to be there at 10. OOOOOOPS!

Tomorrow I am meeting another friend at lunchtime (aha, can't possibly sleep through that one!) and going out with some other people in the evening, so I need to ensure that I once again have a PRODUCTIVE day and do some USEFUL things.

I have made a decision about moving. And I have decided to go ahead and move in with the girls. Which feels a little scary, to say the least, but I think it'll be good. As trite as it sounds, I think it is character building to live with other people and put up with their habits and idiosyncracies. And have to deal with their reaction to yours. But it all got a bit crazy because I spoke to the girls just before Christmas and they said their landlord wasn't happy for me to move in after all because I'm just a student and don't work. My lack of a steady income beyond my student loan would put his insurance up apparently. Anyway, it finally all got sorted a week or so ago, with the landlord agreeing that I could live there but not have my name on the contract and so I got a text message saying it was okay for me to move in. On the 10th February.


That is just over a month away! So alongside having to get this assignment done, there is also a lot of practical stuff I need to get on top of and don't even get me started on the state of my car, which the garage have pronounced "unfixable" WITH THE SAME PROBLEM THEY ALLEGEDLY FIXED BY REPLACING THE ALTERNATOR A COUPLE OF MONTHS AGO!!! Or whatever, not unfixable, but fixable at a price WELL over the value of the car, which equates to the same thing really.

So I need to sort out a whole load of stuff in order to move, like, for example, what am I going to do with my cooker and my washing machine and my sofa? And do they have broadband, please say they have broadband. Part of the point behind breakfast this morning was to chat about details like this with one of the girls I'm going to be living with, but of course I had to pick today to have a complete meltdown in terms of alarm clock operation.

So I still have lots to do. But the excitement doesn't even end there because I got back from my walk to find two of my neighbours in the lobby because the fire alarm kept going off. Every time they reset it, it went off again, which, you'd think, would indicate an actual fire, but the light was flashing to indicate a fire in the communal area, i.e. where we were standing and there was a surprising lack of fire or smoke. So we ended up calling the landlord so someone could come out and reset it properly, and setting the alarm to "silence" which is a lie, because it still beeps quite loudly every 5 seconds or so, but not as loudly as the piercing squeal of the actual alarm.

Anyway, the day's not over yet, and maybe I will attempt to convert my copious and illegible notes into the beginning of a legible leaflet. Or maybe I'll just do that tomorrow.

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

The obvious incident of the student procrastinating

Well, as you may be able to tell from my slightly altered banner or my Flickr account, I haven't exactly been doing a lot of writing on autism today. I haven't exactly done a lot of reading on autism today either. But I have had lots of fun with Photoshop Elements and made some pwetty, pwetty pictures:

But I did reread The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time just before Christmas. Which surely counts as research as it is written from the point of view of a boy with Asperger's, which is on the autistic spectrum, for those of you who might not know. And I just finished A Spot of Bother, by the same author, which isn't about autism at all but is a very good book nonetheless and I would recommend you all read it.

So, yeah, the books from the library sit in their neat pile just by my living room door and the computer calls to me with its inticingly glowy screen and promises of blogs to read and photos to edit and even MySpace messages to respond to. See, there is just so much to do that I couldn't possibly think of sitting down and trudging through those wordy books to pull out enough information to then condense into an interesting yet succinct leaflet.

Oh well, I suppose there's always tomorrow...