Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Bowling, dancing, not working

Last Friday we went bowling to celebrate a friend's birthday. I have not been bowling for a long time and thoroughly enjoyed it. In fact, I was a little hyper, getting involved in both teams, offering the odd tip to those who thought it was a rubbish game, and taking over the scoring. I was probably 5th out of 10 people, but had a fantastic time. A few strikes and half strikes as well as plenty of no scores. We will be definitely be bowling again soon.

Saturday, we had some friends over for dinner, which, as usual, meant a full day of cleaning the house from top to bottom, shopping and cooking and then a frantic last minute rush to find candles, locate clean napkins etc. We had another great evening and once they had left I decided to take the opportunity to learn to dance. What? Well, I know I cannot sing to due to being tone deaf and I know I am not a great dancer due to no natural rhythm. My boyfriend is a great mover and I wanted to learn too. So we played Emma's Latin album continually while I tried to locate the beat. I usually dance along to the melody or lyrics as I simply cannot hear the beat behind a song. It was a revelation to finally begin to understand what other people here, although I really needed to concentrate.

Of course, these are all activities I should have been putting on hold while I worked up the dissertation further. I did the grand total of nothing on the dissertation this weekend, although I have confirmed a dozen interviews, which will help motivate me. A good friend who used to be a dissertation supervisor at a university has offered to read through my latest drafts and offer some pointers which will be a great help. The next few weeks I have put a ban on socialising at the weekend as we already have a week away booked out for a family holiday to celebrate my father's 60th birthday. I have until 15 April to complete the dissertation and I MUST focus on this more until then.

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Road Rage

Every morning when I drive to work I find myself tutting or shaking my head at somebody's driving behaviour. I know I am not a perfect driver – I do drive too fast when I want to get home from work and I am inpatient when I just want to get somewhere. I tend to view driving as a means to an end – getting form A to B – rather than a pleasurable experience in itself.

Here are my top bugbears:

1) People not indicating. Taxis and Mercedes are often the worst culprits; you would have thought that Mercedes would come with indicators as standard, but apparently not. My indicator fetish extends to roundabouts and filter lanes. I see it as a common courtesy to let other drivers know of your intention to turn. This brings me onto bugbear 2…

2) Indicating does what it says on the tin. It is and indication of your intention to turn or pull out. It doesn't mean that other drivers should automatically slow down or manoeuvre out of your way. This annoys me most on motorways when people assume that just because they have indicated they are entitled to pull right in front of you, causing you to brake sharply.

3) Women flicking and preening their hair. I don't know why this annoys me but it does. This is usually observed when stopped at traffic lights or in slow moving traffic. Younger women seem to be incapable of not checking and touching their hair every thirty seconds usually when they should be watching the road. It is not uncommon to see high speed hairdressing on motorways too. I really would be surprised if Toni & Guy open a drive through hairdressers, where you pop your head out of the window for a quick cut & blow.

4) Mobile phones. Again, I like to take the moral high ground here. I never use my phone while driving – even if I have remembered to switch it on. Although it is now against the law to use a mobile while driving, this must be one of the most flouted of laws. I see people everyday chatting and laughing on their phones while driving and not just with the hands free kits that are, supposedly, safer. Van drivers are obliged to drive one handed while chatting on the phone, gesticulating at other drivers and scoffing a pie. Young people (anyone younger than me!) have to check their texts every 3 minutes, regardless of whether they are doing 60 miles an hour or not. My Victor Meldrew stance also extends to the hands free systems - I am sure these also cause you to lose concentration on the road. I just don't believe that any of these calls are so important that they cannot wait until you have stopped driving or pulled over to take the call.

5) A subset of number 4 is the Bluetooth headsets. The Borg look is cool if you are impressing your five year old with a scary story or a Star Trek inspired game, but do you really need to be constantly hooked into your phone? And if you are that indispensable that you need to be constantly contactable does this extend to when you are out of the car. Seeing a load of fat men toddling around town with their headsets always makes me a laugh. Is it that hard to put your hand in your pocket and answer the damn thing when it rings? You don’t look cool and cutting edged – you look like a wanker.

6) Litter. Probably one of the most annoying driving habits. People who thro litter out of their window as they drive along. I once drove 15 miles behind a woman who constantly ate sweets, throwing each wrapper out of the window as she drove along. I flashed her each time to indicate my annoyance, but I think she was too busy ensuring she had enough sugar in her to even notice. I have also seen a car slow as it approaches a round about to throw empty lager cans out onto the verge. What is so difficult about holding onto your rubbish until you get home?

I am sure I will remember another annoyance as I drive home today, but these are probably my top six irritants. What gets your blood boiling on the roads?

Tuesday, February 14, 2006


I decided to make a valentine card for my boyfriend this year. Partly because I am a skinflint at heart and part with my hard earned cash for some shiny cardboard, but mainly because valentine's Day is still a predominantly heterosexist event, with very few cards aimed at gay men. The only ones I could find tended to involve 'artistic' black and white photographs or rainbow teddy bears reminiscent of the vomit-inducing 'Forever Friends' series.

A quick scan on Flickr found me some great graffiti images to use, and to be honest I was a bit spoilt for choice. The final version was this image below (click for user's gallery)

There were loads of images to choose from and I was really pleased with the finished card, more personal and (hopefully) unique. My boyfreind also got a lovely card from Tivo, thanking him for years of loyalty.

Sunday, February 12, 2006

Making good progress

I have spent a good part of the weekend working on my dissertation, which still seems like a never-ending task. I managed to get the participant information completed and finalise the list of questions for my interviews, which is a good couple of tasks ticked of the list. I am meeting with the head of planning this week to confirm who I will interview and then I can get the interviews booked in. I really need to get these done as I think this is stopping me progressing much further. I suppose it is obvious really that I cannot start the results section without the interviews being completed and this will really let me crack on with pulling the whole thing together.

The deadline is early April, but I am determined to have it finished mid March so I get my supervisors comments. I also met this week with someone who is doing a dissertation on the same course and we had a good chat about the problems completing the dissertation when you have been out of education for so long. I am used to writing reports at work, but they are often based on opinion and do not require everything to be referenced in the same way. I will be glad when it is all finished and I can get my life back!

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

Nazi Hate

Sometimes a programme comes a long that you have just have to watch. Last night after our now compulsory fix of Life on Mars and Prison Break a trailer came on for A Macintyre Investigation - Nazi Hate Rock. This was a horrifying investigation into the minds of people behind the white power movement, and how the music of racist bands is funding global racism (including the BNP). The tactics of these groups including giving out free CDs of hate-filled 'music' at school gates and secret gigs to small audiences across Europe. The police do try to stop these events, but they are hard to track down and even the 'fans' don't know the venue until the last minute. Disturbingly for me, there was a concert filmed in Ushaw Moor, a small ex-mining town in Durham, 5 miles down the road. The audience seemed to comprise of about 15 fat, baldy men with aggressive looking faces and prone to lots of Nazi salutes.

Hearing some of the 'artists' talk about the need to 'preserve' the white race against the 'invasion' of multiculturalism was like being inside the mind of a mad man. The picture they painted of the threat from other races and cultures bears no reality to the world I see around me. The really worrying thing was the potential for kids to be drawn into this through the music. I just hope politicians and police forces were watching and will keep up a hard line against racial hatred and aggressive, racist bigots.

Monday, February 06, 2006

There's a rat in mi kitchen, what am I gonna do?

I came to work today to be greeted by an awful smell. One of the secretaries said that the estates department have been over and concluded it is not the drains and it is most likely a dead rat that has been nicely decomposing next to the hot water pipes over the last few days. The smell is truly horrendous and I think I am going to have to take work home this afternoon, I cannot be expected to sit at my desk inhaling in dead rat cells all afternoon.