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...