Archive for November 2006


Posted on Friday 1st December 2006 at 00:00
Why is it that bad moods and tiredness are so closely linked? It really bugs me! Why can't I get tired in the evening and not end up in a bad mood because of it? It is really, really problematic from a social point of view. If I get tired I end up in a bad mood and if I'm in a bad mood I'm unpleasant to people and if I'm unpleasant to people I can't get along with anyone because I'm feeling too antisocial and I feel tired every single day.

I'm beginning to wonder if the sudden and total drop in enthusiasm for forming and maintaining friendship is actually nothing to do with my total disillusionment with mankind as a whole but is in fact a symptom of a long term subtle tiredness which for reasons unknown can't be shifted with sleep. Perhaps I'm just tired of life and everything in it? If I feel like this at 20, God only knows what I'll be like by the time I'm middle aged.

Unless of course this is the middle of my life already. Perhaps I'm currently going through my midlife crisis and this is why I simultaneously despise being around people and yet need them all the same. Although if this is my midlife crisis, that means I'm going to live until I'm about 40, and the idea of that doesn't appeal much, as 40 is a long way off, and I'm already tired and miserable most of the time. It is only downhill from here.

In some totally unrelated news, I met Lady Elisabeth Butler-Sloss today. For those who don't know, she is a very high up Aristocracy type who is also a prominent former judge and the person currently in charge of the inquest into the death of Diana, Princess of Wales. She was in the news today (Butler-Sloss that is, not Diana & although if you picked up a copy of the Daily Mail today, there is a 83% chance that it would contain another conspiracy about Diana's death somewhere within its contents) something to do with the inquest and Al Fayed getting annoyed about it all.

She probably won't remember me very well, since she totally failed to acknowledge me when I cleared her plate from the table. She was there on account of her happening to be the Chancellor of my university, which apparently makes her important enough to grace us with her presence just once in a while.

But that is a side note. The main message in today's post is that I'm tired and miserable and tired of being miserable, so keep that in mind please!

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Ignorminious Proudly Presents …

Posted on Friday 1st December 2006 at 00:00
...... the tackiest seasonal theme for a website ever! That's right my friends, I Ignorminious hereby declare that it is December and so the Christmas festivities can begin! I don't under any circumstances hold with people going all Christmasy in October or November as that is far too commercial for me, but when December starts I'm as pro Christmas as St Nick, Frosty the Snowman and Jesus all rolled into one!

It is for this reason that I've created this painfully over the top Christmas theme for my website which I shall be leaving in place for the remainder of the month. If anyone wishes to complain about this, please don't bother to tell me. I honestly don't care that you don't like the colour scheme/theme/Christmas/Jesus/presents/trees/stockings/the Queen's speech. This is my blog, not yours, so if you don't like it, don't look at it. You can always subscribe to the RSS feed, thus cutting out the need to actually visit the site at all!

As of yet, I've not noticed any other websites with a Christmas theme of any kind. I'd rather like to think that I'm not the only one who is really this sad, so if you have created a Christmas theme for your website, or if you know someone who has, why not comment and tell me about it? If you include a link, Google can throw a party and crawl both our sites even quicker because they are linked together! Sound like a good idea?

You bet your merry (Christm)ass it does!

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Dreaming ….

Posted on Thursday 30th November 2006 at 00:00
Have you ever woken up and not known whether you are awake or still dreaming? Such was my fate this morning, when I rose to a state of confusion that my poor sleepy brain was completely unable to reconcile within the normal order of life. It probably didn't help that I had no idea at first what day it was and therefore what time it would be (the latter being dictated entirely by my schedule for the former) and so I struggled to understand why there was a bright glowing light coming from beyond my curtains. For those who don't know, my window faces approximately west, which means I don't tend to get a lot of morning sun (or evening sun come to that) in November. So to see this evidently bright light with a sort of orangey tint to it coming in through my window was thoroughly bizarre!

I got out of bed, wondered over to my window and drew back the curtains, where upon the scene became more dreamlike than ever. Everything that should have been there was there; the two cars, the houses opposite, one boarded up but still occupied, the BMW that never ever moves etc, but somehow everything was wrong. It looked like someone had gone and done a rather good drawing of the scene from my window using pastels, for everything was bathed in an orange-pinky glow. The sky mirrored this by actually being orange and pink. Really, it was a lovely sight, despite being very confusing.

It was only when I went into the bathroom on the east side of the house and saw the same colours only brighter that I realised I wasn't dreaming, but was in fact privileged enough to have risen during that brief period of just a few minutes on a winters day when the weather conditions are just right to split the sun rise into all those different colours and shades, and then reflect them all over the sky off a thin cover of morning clouds.

The last time I remember having a near dream experience was in my first year, and it freaked me out a little. I dreamed that I was getting out of bed and switching off my alarm clock, as I do every morning without fail. I knew it was a dream because it wasn't cold, as getting up in the morning from a warm bed tends to be.

Then I woke up and got out of bed in exactly the same manner and it was cold, just as I expected it to be. Suddenly the scene disappears in front of me and I was back in bed. This time I knew I was actually awake because of the heightened sense of existence and thought that comes from being conscious. Really freaky though, dreaming yourself waking up twice before actually doing it. Makes you wonder how much we think we are living our lives, only to discover that it is all just a vivid dream.

And on that thought, I shall leave you now and go to work, where I expect to be muchly worshiped by everyone, just for showing up and making their day that little bit happier. *cough*

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Posted on Wednesday 29th November 2006 at 00:00
I've finally decided to knuckle down and do some work. Sadly I was a little too kind to myself earlier in suggesting I'd get going at about midnight. For some unknown reason I made the stupidest decision ever earlier and decided I'd play the Falling Sands Game for a little while before getting to work. Next thing I know, 3 or 4 hours have past and I've achieved jack. *sigh* I am such an idiot! Still, half three now, so I better get started and push on through til morning. Ideally I'd like this thing finished by no later than 10am.

Coursework Status: 0 words written

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Posted on Wednesday 29th November 2006 at 00:00
It is quarter past 8 in the morning and I am unimaginably tired. I gave up at about 5 this morning and went to get a little sleep, but now I'm up again and showered and ready to continue this torturous exercise. Every single part of my body that has the power to resent being woken up early is resenting it now. As much as anything I'm only writing this to test whether I am actually in a fit state to use a keyboard competently at the moment. I swear my head weighs about a ton this morning!

Coursework Status: 346 words written

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On The Up

Posted on Wednesday 29th November 2006 at 00:00
Ok, we are up to 11:40 now and I'm feeling a lot better. Shortly after my last post I summoned up all my strength to make myself a large cup of coffee, and ever since things have begun to look up. Isn't it amazing what a fantastic substitute for a night of sleep a dose of caffeine can be! Also good is my current sense of achievement at having got to about half way through question 4 of 5. I'm more or less Ok on the word limit at the moment, but I suspect that shall go out of the window when I go back through it and try to subtly reference everything I've written to cases that I've not yet read. I'm currently having to miss a lecture to get this all done by 2pm, but I'm not too fussed, since I attended the same lecture last year, and this is more important. I think the best bit is that I actually feel like I'm doing a good job. I know some of you would debate whether or not that is possible when rushing this much and with so little sleep, but I assure you it is. It actually feels like I know what I'm talking about at last, and can apply my knowledge of the subject to the case studies accurately and with complete confidence.

If I do well in this coursework it will be amazing and wonderful. If I do badly, like I did last year I shall be majorly upset about it.

Coursework Status: 1,402 words written

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Procrastination Day

Posted on Tuesday 28th November 2006 at 00:00
Alas, today is yet again one of those awful days in which I prove to myself (and anyone else who cares) that I am without a doubt my own worst enemy. That's right folks, it's Procrastination Day! Basically it works like this: tomorrow I have a major coursework deadline for a piece of work I've not yet started. This coursework is worth a lot of marks, so really I need to do quite well in it. Given that I've got 5 hours of free time between lectures today, I have come to the computer room in order to get cracking.

At least, that is, I had 5 hours & I've already been here for well over an hour and haven't done anything more than read through the question so far. Sadly this is pretty much the routine every time I have work I need to do. I've got myself into such a poor mindset that I will do everything I possibly can to put off actually doing the work until the very last minute. I have 5 hours now and then as much of this evening as there is left by the time I've had dinner in which to get it done. I know for a fact that I'm not going to start working properly until at least midnight.

If I cast my mind back to the days of maths homework (perhaps the earliest memories I have of having to do academic work that I really hated) I'm confronted with a vision of myself sitting for hour upon hour at my desk shuffling the contents of my pencil case around the desk or needlessly sharpening my pencils over and over. I used to call it 'psyching up time' and it was invariably three or four times as long as the work itself took. Thing was, I couldn't go off and do something I actually wanted to do, because as far as I was concerned, I was about to start working any moment, and yet for some reason I couldn't actually bring myself to just get on with it, even though I knew in the back of my mind that it would be a whole lot less painful for me to get it over and done with. I wonder now how much of my childhood was wasted because of this seeming inability to get on with my work.

As I've grown older and fatter, many things about my life have changed, but seemingly not my work ethics. These days, everything has to be done on computer, and often the internet too, and this has lead to a whole new field of procrastination into which I can immerse myself whenever hard work beckons. It is for thai reason that I am writing here now, and why I've gone and read all the comments on all the blogs I follow, as well as taking a look a lots of other websites to kill the time. The really stupid thing is that I've been writing this for just a few minutes now and I've already written about 500 words. Given that the essay word limit is only 2000, at this rate I could write the whole thing in an hour. Ok, so I know there is a little bit more to it than that, what with this just being my train of thought and that being a detailed and accurate essay on European Union Law, but even so.

A girl a couple of computers away from me is doing the same work. She sits there with all the papers and notes spread all over her desk. Her notes look detailed, with highlighted sections and annotations, and she has at least two textbooks, to which she constantly refers. She is on question 5 apparently. She recognised me from a class and so we got talking. Her manner suggests that although she is on the last question and will probably soon be finished, she would normally have done it all by now.

She seems surprised and slightly amused when I tell her I've not yet started. Surprised because she can't imagine how anyone can leave it so late. Amused in the slight half laughing way that everyone is when you tell them how much further behind in the work you are than them. It is a laugh of relief, as if to say 'Thank God that isn't me, wasting my time and already impossibly far behind. Thank God I've already got through the worst of it and won't have to suffer again what you are about to go through.?

I'm not sure whether or not I envy such people. In many ways I guess I do, as I envy the me of this time tomorrow, who will have the relief, satisfaction and inexplicable happiness that comes from having a heavy weight removed from your mind. It is my own fault I know. I am my own worst enemy. Yet, I can no more control my compulsion to be lazy and fight against every little thing I don't want to do than I can control my compulsion to breathe.

I guess that is what they call a personality trait.

Coursework Status: 0 words written

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Posted on Tuesday 28th November 2006 at 00:00
I've just had an email through from Huw telling me that after repeatedly trying, he has been unable to post any comments on the site. I investigated this and discovered that there was a conflict between the search box and the comments box of which I'd previously been unaware. I'm assuming that this means that no one has been able to post comments since I added the search box about 2 weeks ago. And I just thought I was unpopular ....

So yea, for the last two weeks or so commenting has not been possible. Now it is so please go forth and comment to your heart's content! I don't have a policy of closing comments after a set number of days so if you read a post a little while back and weren't able to comment, you can do so now. Sorry for not noticing the problem before, but testing the various site features is a long and tiresome business, and I don't tend to bother unless I think something needs testing.

In the future I would be grateful if you could please report ANY problems you encounter whilst using the site to me as quickly as possible. Odds are if you've found a problem it is because I don't know about it. There is nothing unusual about the way this site works, so if you see anything that doesn't tie in with your regular blogging experience, it probably is a problem that needs dealing with so do let me know!

Thank you.

Coursework Status: 0 words written

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So What About Style?

Posted on Monday 27th November 2006 at 00:00
As time ticks by and the number of blog posts listed under Statistics grows, it becomes increasingly apparent to me that I've yet to really find a groove for my blog, either in terms of writing style or content. I had rather hoped that this process would come into its own naturally over time, but I guess that isn't the way these things work. The reason why I feel this matters is that different people tend to like different styles of writing, and while I continually switch between styles, it is quite likely that I am pushing away a potential audience of readers who are looking for consistency in my writing.

Makes sense really. If you read a book that is part of a series and get into the writing style employed by the author, you aren't going to want to read the next in the series if upon opening it to the first page you discover a totally different and unexpected style. Having read a number of the more successful blogs out there, I've noticed that those with the greatest following are the ones that show consistency, both in the way they are written and also in a number of other factors that determine the overall 'feel? that a blog has; for example frequency of posts, subject matter, tense, whether it is written in the first or third person (as can been seen in The World Of Yaxich, well worth a read) and whether the author tries to be light hearted or serious.

Right now my blog is a mismatch of all of these things and I don't know what to aim for. Subject matter I suspect shall remain varied, not least because I don't tend to do anything that I can write about regularly without running out of things to say. Frequency however is an interesting consideration. At the moment I try to post around once a day, in order to keep the content of the blog changing frequently and therefore, hopefully also keeping people interested. I also think that the regular updates keep me in the habit of updating so hopefully I won't give this up altogether.

The problem with this is that all too often I either have nothing to say, or by the time I get round to saying it, I'm either in a rush or else far too tired to write well. In the absence of any sort of romantic life, a full time job or a social life, nothing major ever really happens to me, so I'm not left with the easy option of only posting when I've had an interesting day. Apart from that, I don't want to turn every entry into an account of my day, as posts like that need a lot doing to them to become interesting enough for others to want to read.

If anyone has any suggestions for how better to manage these entries, or else has any particular posts which they particularly enjoyed and so would like me replicate in future, please leave a comment. If you have no suggestions and didn't enjoy any of my posts, please leave a comment.

In other news, a series of cheques paid into the bank this morning and a form filled in at uni to change my tuition fee payment schedule to one payment a term has left me in a better financial position in the run up to Christmas than before. A lot better in fact. I was also informed that because of the adjusted cut off dates for pay claims this month and next, there is a good chance I will be receiving payment for more or less all the extra hours I've been doing before I return home for the holidays. Perhaps for the first time in a year I'll get through the next few weeks without having to worry about money anymore.

While I was home at the weekend visiting the family, Mum eluded to the fact that she has already bought me a Christmas present this year. Apparently it is something cool and gadgety that I don't yet have and which hopefully I want. This has really got the brain cells ticking over, since I've not yet given her a Christmas list and I already have most gadgets under the sun. It is actually quite exciting to be getting something I've not asked for for once. Not that I don't like getting the things that I do ask for of course, but it is so much more exciting when you don't already know exactly what you are being given before you've even looked under the Christmas tree.

Sadly before Christmas comes, I've got a mountain of coursework to do, so perhaps I should get on with that, rather than messing around on here all evening.

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Feeling My Age!

Posted on Monday 27th November 2006 at 00:00
I've just seen a TV advert for one of the many compilation albums that seem to go on sale at about this time every year. You might have seen the advert I'm talking about. It is for a CD called Monsters of Rock and appears to be being sold in all the usual places. Anyway I'm watching the advert and reading the names of the artists off the screen as various clips from their different tracks are played in the background and I'm thinking Yea, this looks like a really good album! It has all the music I like and I recognise loads of the artists being listed; I think I might just ask for that for Christmas.

Just as these thoughts are done tumbling out of my head I hear the most frightening sentence a young person who's not quite of the youngest generation out there anymore can hear:

Get It For Dad!

Ouch! I'm only 20 1/2 years old yet suddenly I'm not only no longer young and trendy, I'm sufficiently old and backward as to have my tastes in music lumped together with those of men whose kids are old enough to go out shopping and buy Christmas presents for their parents! Who said anything about kids? I haven't even got a girlfriend!

I feel this trauma may leave lasting scars :(

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Ignorminious Not In Demand

Posted on Sunday 26th November 2006 at 00:00
I had planned to use this post to write down all the thoughts which occurred to me throughout the funeral on Friday and in the subsequent hours, but I've changed my mind. I've talked about death enough times recently and it is really far too depressing a subject for this blog. After all, I'm never going to attract readers if I can't be jolly and entertaining at least some of the time. Also, now that the funeral is over and done with I rather feel I'd like to let the old man rest in peace at last, so let us move on.

On Thursday I got sort of fired. I say sort of because it was only from a small part of my job and I don't feel that it really counts. Basically, on Monday and Thursday I was employed by Marketing and Communications to work at the Cathedral, under the instruction of the company running the graduate photographs. My job was to assist graduates and their families in choosing which photo pack they wanted and help them to fill in the order forms. As far as I was concerned, for the 10 seconds or so of training I'd been given, I was doing a pretty reasonable job. At any rate, the customers seemed to like me and often thanked me for my help.

Towards the end of the second day however, my boss from Marketing and Communications took me aside and told me that she'd just spoken to the workers from the photography company, and they'd complained that my selling style was not really what they were looking for and so they did not require my services for the two days this coming week that I'd signed up for. Sadly no more details were given, which leads me to conclude that the complaint must have focused around the fact that I was recommending to most of the graduates the cheapest pack, which had cunningly not been displayed in the hope that people would buy the more expensive ones.

This is fair enough I suppose. Obviously they were there to make money, but being primarily a student, I don't think I could have sided with this company in order to improve their profits while at the same time seeing people being forced to buy more photos than they actually wanted. I don't approve of people being ripped off you see. Ok, so they weren't being forced to buy any photos at all if they didn't want them, but that doesn't mean they should be effectively misinformed about what was available to them, which is what the company was clearly doing by not advertising all the packs equally. My loyalties just don't work like that.

I appreciate that this sounds fairly bitter, but I promise you it's not. I may well have lost some money out of it, but really I'm much happier with my current situation now. Instead of working for them, I was able to send a grovelling email to Catering asking if they'd take me back for the week after I'd turned them down and they accepted. Monday I shall once again be enjoying my regular shift at the bar and then on Thursday I'll be doing my last VIP lunch of the year. Apparently it is a busy one, so hopefully I'll be able to make myself extra useful this one last time.

Peace Out.

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1 Day til a Funeral

Posted on Thursday 23rd November 2006 at 00:00
This may be the last post I write for a few days. Tomorrow/later today I will be off to work, where I shall remain for a frankly silly number of hours, before busing it back home sometime after half 7. Once here, I shall permit myself just enough time to have a meal and get ready, before starting the long drive home. Once there, I shall attempt internet access with my laptop, but given that I have just finished upgrading it to Vista, I'm not sure whether I'll be able to get on the internet successfully, and if I can, whether writing a blog post will really be my top priority.

On Friday I shall be getting up at around 5am in order to leave for St Helens with my family at 6. We need to be there for 11:30ish I believe, which should be fun. Funeral starts at 12. We plan to stay overnight there and then return home and some God-awful hour on Saturday morning, allowing me to get back to Bristol in the afternoon (yay!).

So yea, that is all going to be heaps of fun. Right now my priority is getting done all the little things I have to do for tomorrow and then going straight to bed, as I am exhausted and have to be up again in less than 5 hours. *sigh*

In other news, I feel I should shamelessly plug the website I've spent the last few days hastily assembling. It is for a friend of mine, and may or may not be of interest to some of you. The address is I would tell you all about it, but I am too tired, so I'll leave it up to you to explore for yourselves. The first page should pretty much tell you everything you need to know anyway.

Right that's it. Bed time for me. I shall update again next time I can find time and internet access.

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Ignorminious In Demand

Posted on Tuesday 21st November 2006 at 00:00
It seems in the last few days and weeks I have reached an interesting new place in my career as a working person; one which few members of the unskilled student labour markets have found themselves in before. I am actually in demand. Whilst only working for one department at uni in my spare time last year, I found a reasonable flow of work available to me, but nothing like enough to formulate any kind of regular income. Working periods were patchy and the hours short, so despite signing up for every bit of work going, I often found myself earning nothing like as much as I needed.

For this reason, I joined another department this year, this time it was Catering. I was hoping for some regular hours, as well as a few odd bits of work in between as a bonus. Now it seems, the combination of the two departments has led to me virtually never having free time. Take this Thursday for example; if I were to work all the hours which I've been offered, I'd be working in three separate places doing three different jobs all at the same time.

I applied to M&C to give me a few hours on my days off during November because they had some random hours going spare during the graduation ceremonies and Catering had only been able to supply me with two weeks of work. Just a short while after these hours were confirmed I got a phone call offering me a regular job in a bar, which I accepted on condition that I could have the time off to work the hours I'd already applied for. They said they'd love to have me working those days but accepted that I had a prior commitment to M&C. Yesterday I then receive an email from catering asking me to work the same hours again, but for the people who'd originally only been able to offer me work for a couple of weeks. Apparently they'd actually asked for me by name.

A similar situation has occurred on the Saturday coming, when both M&C and Catering wish me to work for them at the University Open Day. Sadly I've had to turn both of them down as I won't be getting back from the funeral in time. In addition to being rushed off my feet I'm actually feeling quite guilty about not being able to work for everyone who wants me. Yes, I know they have other employees who are just as capable (if not more so), but when you get requested personally by the people you've worked with before, it feels somehow wrong to have to turn them down.

I suppose now I should concentrate on getting done all the non-work tasks in my life. I have a website to build uber quickly and a couple of days away from home to prepare for. Stacks of washing have to be done before I run out of clothes totally, as I had to delve into my uncool backup wardrobe today because all the clothes I have in regular circulation have somehow ended up in the wash at the same time. Personally I blame the bad weather for making it almost impossible to ever get anything dry.

Even as we speak there is a load drying in my room and another in the washing machine. Since the heating is probably off I expect I'll be coming home to a cold damp room tonight yet again and will spend all evening trying to make it warm enough to live in.

On top of all that I have all my usual uni work to do, as well as two major coursework deadlines next week, which I can only see being met if I come back to Bristol as soon as I can at the weekend and then work solidly through until they are done.

Why is life never simple?

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Where Has The Weekend Gone?

Posted on Monday 20th November 2006 at 00:00
I sit down at the computer with a chilled glass of Smirnoff Ice in my hand, poured from a bottle I've had sat in the fridge for at least a week. The room is warm and brightly lit, for once, and yet more heat is wafting in through the open door from the kitchen, where my dinner - an unusually large chicken breast, wrapped in bacon and filled with cheese, served with a generous helping of Roast potatoes and a few vegetables - is slowly cooking away and filling the house with the mouth watering aroma of a well deserved meal. My hair is still slightly wet from the hour or more spent relaxing with a book in the bath and for the first time this weekend, I feel refreshed, cheerful and thoroughly relaxed ahead of the start of another busy week.

For reasons unknown to me, this weekend, and perhaps the previous one to an extent have left me feeling unsatisfied. Far from the feelings of contentment and pleasure one should expect from a day off, I've found myself weary, stressed and a little bit unhappy, if truth be told. I've decided to attribute this to the lack of days off I'm now experiencing as a result of taking on the extra hours of employment that I did. I know I wrote less than a week ago that you needed to work a full week in order to appreciate the weekend - and I stand by that still - but my poor sleep patterns, coupled with a long list of things to do, both personal and academic, seem to have left me unable to relax at the weekends, nor motivate myself to use my free time more constructively. Even as we speak, I am conscious of the nagging reminders in the back of my mind to complete dozens of pieces of coursework and seminar preparations, as well as God only knows how many additional tasks I've taken on.

Yesterday morning I was woken by a text from an old school friend of mine who needed some help in a field in which I have some limited expertise: web design. Apparently she'd been set a task for her uni course which included having to have a website, something which she simply didn't have the knowledge to create for herself in the designated time span. Naturally I was only too happy to help, and so went onto the internet to discuss the project over MSN. Although the job wasn't looking to be difficult and relied largely on an amalgamation of scripts I had already written, it was clear straight away that the task was going to need a good few hours devoted to it. Right now it is approaching midnight and I am looking at having to do at least a couple more hours work on it tonight because I won't have time to look at it again before Tuesday night at the earliest.

The feeling of weekend jubilation doesn't last long. By the time I've eaten the meal and added a large glass of red wine to the Smirnoff already in my blood stream, it's 11pm and I've about ready for bed. Sadly I can't get into bed until I remake it using the sheets, duvet covers etc that I took off earlier in the day for washing. This I won't allow myself to do until I've completed all my other tasks for the day, including a large pile of washing up from my very tasty dinner, taking out the rubbish for collection tomorrow and yes, the two hours of website work, not to mention updating my sadly neglected blog.

I am woken this morning by a knock on my door from J, whom I've asked to wake me in time for us to take a walk before lunch. Sadly, it seems one of the areas in which our lifestyles differ is our morning routine, and so I have to accept that "I'll be ready to go in 5 minutes" means I shall have to forgo my morning shower, breakfast and shave and am instead left with time enough to get dressed and get a drink down me before we leave. Sod it, sometimes it is nice to pass on the age old morning routine, and when better than on a Sunday?

The object of the walk is J's new place of work, which needs to be located, scouted out and have the journey timed for future reference. This we do inside 40 minutes, affording a detour to Morrison's on the return trip in order to buy essential supplies to prevent starvation. I settle for four bed rolls and a box of small apple pies. In spite of the 5 or so miles walked I feel neither tired and worn out nor flushed and full of post exercise energy upon my return.

I've often suspected that a lot of my problems might stem from the fact that I am neither happy nor sad most of the time. I think that occasionally visiting those two extremes, even if that means being sad more often, would be a step up from the monotony of being stuck in between, with seemingly no ability to improve upon the situation. The full day of back breaking work tomorrow, followed by an evening spent frantically trying to do at least some of the work necessary to get me through the following day probably won't improve upon matters.

It seems I am still searching for an answer to the problem of how to spend my weekend, relaxing or being productive. Sadly now I've slipped into a state where being productive entails just keeping up with the basic chores that are somehow supposed to just slot into your life regardless of what else you've got going on, with no time left for pursuing more favourable occupations.

Will I ever get this right?

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Until Death do us part

Posted on Friday 17th November 2006 at 00:00
I didn't post yesterday. It wasn't that I didn't know what to say, it was more that I didn't know how to say it, or wasn't ready to say it, I don't know which. However, that day has ended, a new one has begun and I feel more able to talk about my bad news than I was yesterday.

While at work I received a text message from my Mum. Just a short message but it contained a lot of meaning. It told me that my last surviving grandfather was surviving no more. He died sometime on Wednesday night/ Thursday morning. It wasn't entirely unexpected. He was old and in hospital, from which we didn't expect him to come out anytime soon. Despite this, I at least hadn't really thought of him as on his death bed. As far as I was concerned, the move to hospital was just one step in a process that would pan out over the next year or so. In fact, of the three relatives I have who are actively dying (as oppose to just aging and gathering dust) he was the one I expected to hang on the longest. All things considered, the other two are far more ill than he seemed to be. Perhaps my perceptions came from having not seen him in nearly three years now or not getting regular status updates on account of my not living at home at the moment.

As the day wore on, what struck me the most was not the death itself, but its affect on me, and how my perception of it changed throughout the day. It is an interesting fact that when people grieve for a loved one, they are not grieving the deceased's loss of live but merely their own loss at having had their loved one taken away from them. On the face of it that may seem selfish, but really it is the only natural reaction. Because of our lack of omnipotence, we tend to see all the problems we face from a very personal perspective. The greater our problems, the more personal our loss and so when the unthinkable happens, it is ourselves we feel sorry for, not the person who just died.

This is certainly true of the current case. I don't feel sorry for my grandfather. He had a good life which he enjoyed. He lived it for a very long time and he died at the natural end of his life, warm and comfortable in bed. His suffering is over and his life has been completed in the most satisfactory way it is possible for any of us to go. So no, I don't feel sorry for him, I feel sorry for myself for losing a grandfather, for my grandmother for losing a husband, my father and his siblings for losing their father and for my siblings, cousins and all other people who've suffered a loss as a result of his death.

As I worked through the rest of my shift, a part of my consciousness sat and observed how my ability to do my job accurately and neatly was inhibited at the points at which I was thinking of the death, and how when I was kept most busy, with the most difficult tasks, I was able to stop dwelling for a brief period of time.

As the afternoon wore on, my thoughts began to turn to who I was going to tell, how I thought they'd react and to what extend I wanted or needed their sympathy in order to help me cope. In the event, I was a lot more stable than I expected, and perfectly happy to switch to other thoughts and happier conversations when it was called for. It isn't that I was blocking out my problems or not dealing with them; it was just that I was able to tackle them in smaller lumps, while affording myself brief periods of relief in between.

At first I'd feel guilty if ever I smiled, laughed or dared to be merry; but I soon saw how stupid this was. No one who dies really wants those he or she leaves behind to be unhappy; quite the reverse in fact. When I die I hope my loved ones will be able to be happy for me and not suffer too greatly from their loss. I will have this death weighing heavily on my thoughts between now and the funeral in a weeks time, but I don't intend to be miserable all day every day. Doing so won't bring him back, and it won't satisfy any other cause, except to spoil the week, which granddad would not have wanted.

I shall miss him when I think of him and think of him whenever it occurs to me to do so. I shall carry him in my heart always and say my goodbyes at his funeral and that shall be that. Right now I'm going to get on with life as best as I can and not feel guilty if I decide to catch a film tonight, or laugh loudly at Comic Relief on BBC One. To be happy does not insult him or his memory; it compliments it.

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Posted on Friday 17th November 2006 at 00:00
I've just finished a few minor site modifications which I want to tell you about briefly before I talk about anything else. Nothing very interesting mind, but it is best that I tell you now and avoid emails from confused users later (not that I object to people emailing me of course). As you can probably see, I've been messing with some of the links to the other parts of the site. They all used to be just below the title banner, but now they are all over the place. FAQs and Text-Only are right up in the top left corner of the screen, About Me, Feeds and Contact Me are on the navigation panel, just above the recent posts and a complete set of links can be found at the bottom of the page. I'm hoping that this layout will make a little more sense. Either that or I'm on crack. Which I'm not by the way.

You may also notice that there is a Search box, positioned at the top on the page, just above the right end of the banner. This search uses the Google search index in order to look through the blog. This is good in that it is a decent search engine which most people trust. It is bad in that sadly it will only list entries that Google bot has crawled through and indexed. Which isn't very many of them.

I've asked Google to speed up the crawl rate from once a month or so, but I've no idea how fast they'll make it. The idea is that hopefully, by the time the posts leave the front page of the site, Google will have indexed them and it'll be easy to search through any posts that you want to read again.

In other news, I got a pen drive through the post today that I ordered from the internet. Despite being about 3cm long and weighing almost nothing at all, for some reason it was delivered in a box that could hold a pair of shoes with lots of room to spare. Total waste of packaging if you ask me, but at least it got here intact and it seems to work ok. Hopefully it'll make the transfer of documents between home and the uni network a little easier. Currently if I want to print anything while I'm there, I have to email it from my laptop to myself, access my emails on one of the uni machines and then print it from there. Transfer via pen drive will be much easier me thinks.

Off to the cinema now to see Casino Royale. Hopefully it'll rock my socks off!

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Bits & Pieces

Posted on Thursday 16th November 2006 at 00:00
Lots of little things to mention tonight. None of them worthy of a post in their own right, but all of them are (hopefully) worth a mention. At least this way, if one bit bores you, you can always move onto something else.

Monday was a funny old day, one way and another. I went into work in the morning and was walking through the kitchens when I came across a hole in the wall. Nothing in it, just a large hole, about 8ft high and 10 or 12ft wide. This would have been fairly odd in itself had it not been for my distinct memory that just a week before, there had been a cold room there. For those who don't know, a cold room or chiller is basically a room turned into a fridge or freezer. It has a large airtight door, often with an air curtain which blows when the door is open. Inside you find the walls are thickly insulated and there is a cooling device of some kind, often including a series of fans that blow chilled air around the room.

Such rooms are a feature of most modern commercial kitchens, as well as supermarkets, where they are used for storing chilled and frozen food before it is moved onto the shop floor. I know because I used to work in one during my time at Waitrose. The first think most people notice about such rooms is that they are quite cold. The second thing most people notice is that they don't tend to get up and move anywhere. They aren't like your normal kitchen fridge, which you can pull out and replace in a matter of minutes. These are actual bricks and mortar rooms. Needless to say, I was therefore quite surprised to see this one missing. Apparently it should have been rebuilt by now, but builders are the same the world over.

Another thing to make the day weird was that we were doing a free buffet lunch in the upstairs bar. This left us very over stretched and so I went straight from being the trainee who had to be shown everything to actually being in demand. One might even go so far as to say that I was a valued member of the team, although there were still one or two things I had to be shown.

Highlights of the day included pulling my first pint (which was surprisingly easy, although I did perhaps over fill the glass slightly, given that it isn't really a drinks bar and so has none of those mats to absorb any excess beer), being allowed to use the till and getting it right most of the time and being kept busy with coffee right up until 3pm thus avoiding having to clear up before going home.

The departing housemate departed rather unexpectedly today, whilst I was at uni. I received a text message towards the end of my lecture, saying he'd affectively moved out. Apparently he shall return to pick up the remainder of his stuff soon but that is it. Personally I think the early escape is because I allowed him to cut my hair very short last night. I still have some hair and apparently I look much better with the new cut, but clearly he was ashamed of his handy work and couldn't bear to see it every day until it grew again. Hopefully I'll see him when he returns in order to say a proper goodbye.

It seems that I am to be going sans House until such times as it is broadcast here in the UK. Up until now I've been enjoying it courtesy of the internet, but a lack of bandwidth on our monthly download allowance combined with a request by my housemate not to download anything else illegally has put a stop to that sort of entertainment. I'd argue that is isn't really anymore illegal than recording something off the TV, but since the channel it comes from in America is probably one that viewers subscribe to, I'd be effectively stealing pay per view copyrighted material. I could always ignore her and continue to do what I've been doing pretty much since the internet was invented, but that somehow seems wrong. It is one thing to steal TV programmes from corporate America, but it seems that lying to my housemate is more morally unacceptable, at least to me. Weird huh?

I have a long day of work tomorrow and need to sleep between now and then, so I shall finish here, and thrill you with the next exciting instalment of my life at around the same time tomorrow. Stay tuned!

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RSS Update

Posted on Wednesday 15th November 2006 at 00:00
Before I begin to write a proper post, I just need to do a quick announcement about RSS Feeds. As you may or may not have noticed, a few days ago I added an RSS feed for comments to each post. In reality this actually equates to one RSS feed per post and since this is post #51 I quickly realised that things were going to get pretty messy unless I gave them all a dedicated folder on the server to live in, which is what I did.

The flip side of this is that I'm afraid those who've already subscribed to the RSS feed will need to delete the one they have and sign up again for the one at Ironically enough, those who have signed up for the old RSS feed won't be getting this update and so won't know that they need to change to the new feed. I think I'll do a one off update special to let them know.

I'm sorry for the inconvenience, but I hope you will come to see it as a necessary move in time. Hopefully there will be no more updates to the site of quite such a disruptive nature at any point in the near future. Actually I don't think I'll do a proper update tonight as I'm really quite tired and my writing is going to shit as a result.

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Monday Morning Blues

Posted on Monday 13th November 2006 at 00:00
In case you needed it, yet more evidence that I am clearly from another planet: it's Monday morning and I am actually happy to be up early and about to go to work. Yep that's right, happy! So happy that I was actually singing in the shower, which is something I never do normally. I guess with it only being the second week in the job you could pass it off as new job enthusiasm, and maybe it is, but I think it goes further than that.

It is a curious state of affairs that those people who work all the time seem to want nothing more than a day or two off. For them it would be a happy dream to get every Monday off for a year. I imagine I will whole heartedly agree with them once I am working full time, am run off my feet and never have even a second to do what I want to do. In theory at least, I'm probably going to spend most of my life in this state of affairs, and it won't be until I retire or die at my desk that I get any relief from it at all.

But right now, the very opposite is true. I get two days a week off from uni, and the days I have there aren't always that full. This has been roughly the same for the last two years as well, and you know what? It is not only boring but also thoroughly bland. I mean, what is the point of lying in on a Sunday if you get to lie in on a Monday also? There is nothing special about it at all. And getting done all those things you want to do is nothing like as fun if you can do them almost the moment you think of them.

I also feel quite guilty for not doing anything with all my time when most of the population are working all day every day. It is almost like I can't consider myself a proper man because I'm not taking on the hours and responsibility that other men do, and I don't like that feeling. So yea, I'm glad to be going to work this wet and windy Monday morning, because I'm glad to be able to feel useful and valuable once again, and to be able to respect myself for doing something worthwhile, even if all it is is working behind a bar for a few hours, serving coffee to snobbish lecturers, most of whom don't even say thank you.

I've got to go now or I shall miss my bus. Actually, perhaps I'll stay slightly longer and then take the car in. It would be nice to get through some of the chores that I need to do so that they aren't hanging over me when I return home this evening. Ok, so I guess that is one of the advantages of not working 9-5 each day, but I don't believe for a second you can really appreciate such things until you have a work to go to.

So cheer up, all you people with Monday morning blues. It may seem like the worst thing in the world, to get up early and go to work after a nice weekend off, but really things are a lot better than they might be if you were spending that time at home, in bed. Keep that dream for the weekends, and you will feel infinitely more fulfilled I promise!

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Strange News

Posted on Monday 13th November 2006 at 00:00
Just a brief post this evening to say that one of my housemates announced today that he has decided to leave uni and move back to Wales. This shock news was delivered earlier as we were all in the kitchen cooking dinner. Apparently this is something he's been considering for some time and, while I don't necessarily agree with the idea of giving up like that, I respect him for being proactive and making the decision. A date for his departure has not yet been set, but I believe it will be sometime between now and the end of the year. I suspect we shall all come to miss his laid back and cheerful outlook on life, and I hope that he enjoys his remaining days with us.


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Je m'appelle Ignorminious

Posted on Sunday 12th November 2006 at 00:00
?So what does Ignorminious actually mean?? asks someone whose just been given my email address. It is a question I hear quite a lot, from readers of my blog to friends and family confused by my contact details. In fact, pretty much anyone and everyone who's ever heard the word used or seen it written down has asked. Some even ask twice.

'Nothing, it's just an alias? I reply, not wanting to get drawn into having to explain in detail how it came about. Like pretty much all names that stick, it was not the result of clever planning or a play on words. I didn't spend hours pondering over it, drawing up a short list of names and then running them by my friends to see which one worked best. It was in fact a complete and utter blunder on my part. One of those fantastic accidents that makes everyone else think you are clever and original, whilst all the while you are kicking yourself inside for being such an utter twat bag as to make the mistake in the first place.

Back in the early days of 2003, nearly 4 years ago now I guess, I was looking around for website ideas. I'd build a website or two for myself over the previous years and had quickly out grown everything I created, as my ability and tastes were both refined. I wanted to start a new website and I wanted a name for it. Something new and original that could be used both as the title and in the email address.

I was discussing this with a friend of mine over MSN and, being the clever clogs that she is, she suggested ignominious. Note well the lack of an 'r? between the o and the m. This is actually a dictionary word and is defined by as follows:


adj : (used of conduct or character) deserving or bringing disgrace or shame; "Man...has written one of his blackest records as a destroyer on the oceanic islands"- Rachel Carson; "an ignominious retreat"; "inglorious defeat"; "an opprobrious monument to human greed"; "a shameful display of cowardice" [syn: black, disgraceful, inglorious, opprobrious, shameful]

She chose this word because she said it described me rather well, and oddly enough, at the time I agreed with her. Sadly for me, it was rather a long word and very difficult to spell. When I first began using it in my website, I would copy and paste it from place to place to avoid any typos. After a while though, this became incredibly tiresome and totally impractical of course, so I started typing it how I thought it was. Luckily for me I was only one letter out it seems and was therefore able to turn an obscure and rather negative word into an alias without anyone noticing. So far, I've done fairly well out of it, but over the years I've often worried that if the site were ever to become popular there would be quite a few people out there slating me for my bad spelling. Still, I have my reasons for not changing it, and I stick by them.

When I left 6th form I partook of the traditional year book signing and at the end of the message I received from the friend who had originally suggested ignominious to me, there was the following sentence:

Don't be ignominious, be ignoRminious: uniquely you!

So that, dear reader, is the story of hour your humble narrator went from being Mark to Ignorminious. Since then it has become pretty much my standard username for every website I've ever visited (and there have been a fair few of them) and I think the hassle of changing to something else would just be silly now. In case you were wondering about the Misty Mind, although I've never used it as a title before, it has long been a metaphor that I've used to describe my mental state. When I'm down the mist becomes a thick fog, obscuring reason and optimism from my mind's eye. When I'm happy it becomes fluffy white clouds. Other times it varies, but it is always and will always be the strange, swirling mist of thoughts and feelings that make me who I am.

My name is Ignorminious, how do you do?

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Pancake Problems

Posted on Friday 10th November 2006 at 00:00
Ladies and Gentlemen, tonight I write to you with a heavy heart. It seems a sad time has come upon us all, and especially me, since I have suffered a very great loss. That's right, I've lost my ability to make pancakes! It is a little known fact, but making pancakes is one of the few things I used to pride myself on, since I was pretty darn good at it, and people who I cooked for used to ask specifically for my pancakes.

Tonight however, for the first time in my life, I completely failed in my attempt to make some pancakes for my tea. I still don't know where it all went wrong. Perhaps the flour wasn't great; perhaps there was too much milk, or not enough. Perhaps the pan was too hot or too cold or too dry or too wet. I really don't know. What I do know is that for well over an hour I battled constantly to make myself a decent set of pancakes, and everyone of them turned out to be totally crap. The problem was quite simply that I was totally unable to get the mixture to stop sticking to the pan at every opportunity. I know the spatula was a load of soggy melting bollocks, but that is no excuse. Two separate batches of mixture were made, and both times they were thick and gooey in the pan and more sticky than blu-tack.

Actually, now that I think about it, the last Toad in a Hole was very similar in consistency. I'm beginning to wonder now whether it was actually the fault of something in the batter, rather than a complete cock up on my part. I think I shall have to investigate this further, as clearly there is something not quite right about all this that I really can't explain.

The end result is that I am now sitting here on an empty stomach that I can't really do anything about since it is too late at night to cook anything else. I should really go to bed, but for the moment I just want to sit a little longer and reflect upon how comfortable my new desk chair (which turned up while I was at work today) is. The best bit is probably that it isn't permanently stuck just 1 foot off the ground. Also good is that it is actually comfortable to sit on and has a decent back rest. Yay!

Today I spent nearly 12 hours on my feet in total, working at the graduation ceremonies. It was very tiring, which is why this post is rubbish. At the end of the day we dismantled the stage that I helped to erect on Sunday. Tomorrow the silly fools are paying us to put it all back up again. Before that I need to go and die in bed.

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Text Only

Posted on Wednesday 8th November 2006 at 00:00
I've spent a couple of hours this afternoon altering the way the text only version of the site works. Whereas before, the text only version was in a separate folder with a copy of every script from the main site but with the pictures removed, now the text only version uses the same scripts as the rest of the site with the pictures automatically removed when you are in text only mode. The advantage of this is that the Text Only version will now receive all the new features of main site, without having to wait for me to make the same changes to the copied scripts, which I wasn't really prepared to do. You shouldn't notice any operating difference to before, except that the text only site won't start to look neglected when newer features aren't added to it.

Other modifications will be taking place over the rest of the evening. Hopefully there will be little or no downtime, but if there is then please bare with me.

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Hot Coffee

Posted on Tuesday 7th November 2006 at 00:00
And so I return to you, dear reader, once again, with tails of dangerous dodging of hot water, devilishly delightful desserts and death defying feats of coffee making. That's right my friends, today I started my job as a bar worker! The bar in question is situated in the staff block of my university and is subsequently the favoured eating and drinking hole of many lectures, tutors and admin officers when they need to escape the confines of their offices.

Much to my surprise, although drinking is done much more frequently than eating, alcohol is apparently not on many tutors? wish lists at lunch time. Indeed, it seems that coffee is preferred by all but a handful of employees above all over drinks. It is for this reason that the first thing I was taught upon arriving was how to use the coffee machine, and more importantly, how to make all the different types of coffee that are now a regular feature of any outlet of that productivity improving, highly addictive yet highly legal stimulant: caffeine.

Personally, I don't blame them for their high levels of demand today. The city was saturated with fog and therefore subsequently also by cars being driven by drivers rendered blind by the weather. There were a lot of accidents in Bristol today my friends, make no mistake about that. If my own driving was anything to go by, there were probably twice as many near misses as well if truth be told. I certainly felt the need for a pick me up by the time I got in and I wasn't even having to face any students that day!

I started work at 10 o clock, long before it really got busy, which allowed me maybe an hour to be taken through everything I needed to know and another to practice the skills that would serve me so well later on. The two main areas of brain power focus seemed to be the coffee making (as already mentioned), and operating the till, which again was explained to me at super fast speed and in such a way that I succeeded in taking in exactly nothing of what was said. Like the coffee machine, the till is simple enough to operate, but knowing about all the products that need to go through it and the million different options for each one takes some getting used to. My personal goal is to have it all figured out by Christmas.

The highlight of the job, from a staff point of view, is that you are allowed to have any drink you like from the bar as and when you fancy it (provided you aren't too busy at the time) and as much of it as you want. The same pretty much goes for food, as I discovered on my lunch break when I was allowed to go into the kitchen and make myself a sandwich from whatever I fancied. None of this has to be paid for and seems to be considered a perk of the job, similar to Cadbury allowing their employees as much chocolate as they want I guess. Speaking of which, I have a massive block of Cadbury Dairy Milk with Caramel just sitting in the fridge waiting to be consumed! I bought it earlier on the assumption that I'd be able to sit and eat it while watching Spooks, in a bid to achieve an even greater joygasm from the delightfulness that is 9pm on a Monday than usual. In the event however, I sadly forgot I even had the chocolate, and so will have to save it for another day. I wonder what is on TV tomorrow .....

The outcome for today can be summed up as follows:

Cars nearly hit in the fog: 2
Pedestrians pissed off because I cut them off on a Zebra crossing because of the fog: 1
Friendly work colleagues met: 8
Glasses broken through no fault of my own: 1
Types of coffee discovered: 4
Free drinks scored: 3
Number of coffees made: No idea, but 30 sounds like a nice round number
Most popular coffee: Cappuccino
Number of customers served: Probably about 10 on the till and many more with drinks
Number of my tutors served: 2
Number of my tutors ordering very strong drinks: None sadly :(

Ok, getting really bored of the bolds and italics now. They really slow down my typing, so I shall return to regular prose instead. I've yet to be registered on the till system, but hopefully it won't take long. A bloke I worked with said he'd been there over a month and was still being signed on as 'Lucy', which rather took the wind out of my sails until I learnt that he was an agency worker and so presumably wouldn't be put on the system anyway.

At the end of the day I discussed with the boss the possibility of working on Thursdays as well, given that it is my other day off and I need as much money as I can earn/borrow/steal right now. She agreed to it, so I shall be taking on the extra day as soon as I am free to do so. Sadly this doesn't look like being until December now, as I appear to have booked up every Thursday this month in order to work the graduation ceremonies.

I apologise for the change in writing style by the way. When I started this post, it was early evening, about half 8 in fact and I was in a good mood and bursting with energy. Now, 3 hours later, I'm more than a little tired, have a hell of a lot of work to get done by tomorrow and don't really feel like taking the time to make any of this flow.

I'll try and do better tomorrow, I promise.

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The Problem of Syncing

Posted on Tuesday 7th November 2006 at 00:00
I realise that I am at risk of alienating myself with this post by sounding like the sort of rich, spoilt and over indulged bastard who has so few problems in his life that he is forced to make some up while the rest of the world around him suffers and struggles everyday to overcome real problems that affect real people but I don't care. It is my blog after all!

I am currently writing to you from the corner of a brightly lit, shiny new bar that forms part of the Student Union building. It was refurbished over the summer and among other things, big comfortable leather sofas were added. It is for this reason that it seemed like a good place for me to kill a couple of hours between lectures and write to you, my dear and beloved audience. (It is also one of just a couple of bars on campus that actually has the wireless internet access advertised in all the bars and most other places on campus, which may have swayed my decision slightly!)

For this reason I am, of course, on my laptop. I've been using it on campus throughout the day for work and such like and as time has gone on it has become blindingly obvious to me just how long it is since I've used this machine. When I'm at home I tend to do pretty much all my work on my desktop since it is faster and has a larger screen, and also because my desk is pretty much the only place comfortable enough to sit for a prolonged period of time in the house. If I do use my laptop at home, I use the remote desktop connection utility to bring the desktop to the laptop so I still have access to all the same apps etc.

Since this is the first time I've taken the laptop to uni this year, it therefore follows that this is the first time I've used it as a stand alone computer for quite some time. Although in theory not much has changed in the computer world in that time, I can't help but notice my enjoyment of my new found mobility being spoilt by continuously happening upon changes that I'd forgotten I'd made.

For example, I opened Internet Explorer earlier and found that it wasn't even the same version on IE 7 as I've been using at home. On here I have a previous (rather buggy) beta. I also don't have the same list of favourites as usual and the multi tab home pages that would normally greet me upon opening the program haven't been set here. RSS feeds, again now an important part of my day to day internet browsing weren't even in use the last time I updated this computer.

The different versions of Office I can cope with ok, but had I been relying on Outlook today I'd have been fairly screwed over. I recently switched my email account from POP3 to IMAP in order to ensure that an up to date copy of my inbox would always be available on the internet whenever I need it. This made checking emails a little easier (I used to have to copy the Outlook data file back and forth between computers to avoid splitting my inbox) but I did still have to set up the IMAP account on the laptop before I could check my messages for today. This isn't really a problem now, as it will pretty much update itself as and when I connect to the internet, but sadly the same can't be said for my calendar, which will still require a transfer of the data file if I'm to check my appointments while on the move.

In times gone by, I've invested in synchronisation software to ensure that my computers were identical, but sadly even this had its draw backs. Firstly, every time you decide to take the laptop anywhere, you have to wait for the sync to take place first. This often takes several hours and slows down both computers while you do it and I'm not totally convinced that it ever did a very good job of actually making sure the right files were in the right place.

Secondly, the process you have to go through to make sure everything that is likely to change on a computer is synced is long and complicated, and checking the software has got it right is a pain in the arse. Even if you manage it, things like software upgrades won't be completed and so you'll notice major discrepancies when you use the laptop for the first time in a few weeks.

Given how long networking has been around and how many people now have more than one computer that need to have the same copies of the same files, it amazes me that Microsoft have never build in sufficiently sophisticated tools to make it easy for this to happen. Even in Vista there seems to be little provision mass syncing, and even where there is, it suffers from the same hang ups as the older technologies.

The only instance in which these problems seem to have been sussed is the Microsoft Exchange server, which seems to have been designed around letting people move seamlessly between machines whenever they want, at least with their Outlook stuff. Sadly, this seems to be the preserve of large companies only, as no one wants to offer such services to home users on a wide scale. I've no idea why, but if they did it would certainly be a step in the right direction.

Until then it looks like all I can do is continue to devote more hours than is really sensible to trying to make my virtual life that little bit more organised.

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“Remember, remember the 5th of November

Posted on Sunday 5th November 2006 at 00:00
It has become increasingly clear to me in recent weeks that I'm suffering from a conflict of interests when it comes to how to spend my time at the weekend. Basically the problem seems to be that I have two different viewpoints on what to do with my Saturdays and Sundays, and I don't know which one I should be going with. Once again it seems to be an issue of life styles.

Right now it is 11:39am and I am in bed with the radio playing and my laptop balanced carefully on my lap so that I may check my emails, peruse the day's news and update my blog. I'm taking it easy you might say. Once I've finished this, probably at about midday, I'll take a shower, get dressed and probably skip breakfast and go straight to lunch. By the time I've eaten, washed up, and had a shave it will probably be nearly 2, even if I don't dilly dally. After that I'll have around four hours to fill with either a walk or some shopping or maybe just reading the paper before I need to start preparing my dinner.

This is all very well and good, but ultimately I won't have achieved anything with my day besides the absolute basics which will take up all my time. This is rather at odds with the school of the thought that says I should be taking advantage of this free time to get something useful done. I've got a room to tidy, hoovering and dusting to be done, a kitchen that could do with a good clean and a car that would probably benefit from a hoover and a dust. I also have several hours of seminar preparation to get done by Tuesday, masses of coursework to start and about a zillion pages of textbook to read. Once that is all done there is a career to research and some serious financial planning to get out of the way.

So, my question to you is this: should the weekend be about relaxing and taking it easy; getting things done or a bit of both? If it is both then how do you strike a balance between lying in and recharging your batteries and using every second of the day in the most productive way possible? Should it be a day of one and a day of the other, or maybe lazy mornings and productive afternoons? How much relaxation do we really need at the weekend in order to be fighting fit on Monday morning? How important is it to be on top of all the work you have to do every single weekend?

I'm so confused!

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Bonfires burn all over the city ….

Posted on Sunday 5th November 2006 at 00:00
Ok so perhaps I lied a little earlier when I said I'd have around 4 hours of free time to fill this afternoon. Actually, that isn't quite true, as lying would suggest that I knew it not to be the case, which I didn't. The statement was however erroneous, as I discovered at 4:30, when, having just returned from my afternoon walk, I found a reminder from Outlook calendar on my screen informing me that I had around 25 minutes until I needed to be at Bristol Cathedral to set up the stage for the graduation ceremonies that are taking place all this month.

This is something I had completely forgotten, or rather not associated with today. It is lucky I spotted the message when I did, as any later and I would have been very late in getting there. I just had time to pull up several maps and information sites and eventually an aerial photograph of the Cathedral in order to work out where I could park before I had to set off.

I didn't exactly drive like a maniac down the motorway, but I sure as hell wasn't going to take my time about it. Sadly I developed a taste for urban racing while playing Need For Speed Underground 1 + 2 and so every time I enter the city at night I have to fight hard against the urge to floor it. Despite all this I reached the cathedral with seconds to spare and proceeded to bump into a couple of friends who were also working tonight.

We got to work pretty quickly and proceeded to spend the next 2 and a half hours pushing and pulling on trolleys, assembling scaffolding and manoeuvring the giant, heavy sections of stage into place. I've dismantled the stage on a number of occasions, but I've never had to build it up before and boy, is it hard work?! Once we'd finally got the structure in place and the guard rails up, we had nearly 130 chairs to wheel in, un-stack and set out on the stage. For what it was, the pay wasn't bad but I have a feeling the aching isn't going to go away for quite a few days yet. In spite of all the problems, and a trapped finger or two, it was surprisingly good fun, and very satisfying to see it all assembled at last. I have reason to suppose it shall be fairly soul destroying on Thursday night when we will have to take it all down again for the weekend, before repeating the whole process for the following week. The things we students do for money ....

As we left the cathedral, our nostrils were filled with the smell of smoke and gun powder. Yes, it seems even right in the middle of the city, there is enough going on on bonfire night for the smell to drift, aided I imagine by a thin bank of fog that was beginning to envelop the city, even as I walked back to my car. I was in the fortunate position of being within ear shot of the fireworks, while at the same time not being all that close to them. The effect was that rather than the usual ear splitting pops and whistles, all I heard was the distant, dull thumps of explosion. This made me think, not of Guy Fawkes, or anything so traditional, but more of WWII, when a similar, though much more deadly sound had been heard, night after night, as the bombs fell all over Bristol. It seems odd to me that I've never heard of anyone previously commenting on the obvious connection between the sounds of fireworks going off and the sound of bombs being dropped. In many way that would be far more relevant to most people, it being our more recent past. That said, I guess there is a certain novelty in being perhaps the only country in the world to hold a national celebration to remember the foiling of a small terrorist plot 400 years ago.

Going back briefly to my walk, which I believe I mentioned at the top of the post, today was the 7th day of my new exercise regime, and half way through the 2 week trial period. I've gone for a 30 minute walk every day for the last week now except Friday, when I was rather too busy to be able to spare the time. Fortunately, I'd already made plans for this eventuality, and so took an hour's walk on Saturday to make up for it. This was less fun than the 30 minutes, as I was not only more tired than normal, but also had to venture further away from home than I usually do, down the old railway cycle path; a place I don't fancy being during the hours of darkness, as was nearly the case by this point.

Luckily I made it home alive and well (aside from a twisted ankle) and am now ready to go to bed, as I have my first day in my new job as a bar maid tomorrow.

Wish me luck!

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RSS Feeds

Posted on Saturday 4th November 2006 at 00:00
It is after half 1 in the morning and I am exhausted. For this reason among others, this will not be a long post. I could tell you about everything I've done today but that can wait. For the moment I just want you to know that after mucho slaving away, Ignorminious? Misty Mind is finally joining the long list of sites (especially blogs) to use RSS Feeds.

Should you be an RSSer, please click the Feeds link at the top of the page in order to admire my handy work. While you are doing that, I'm off to bed!

Good night :)

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My Car

Posted on Thursday 2nd November 2006 at 00:00
I love my car. In the absence of a significant other or any particularly close associates, she is my best friend. I know she is nothing special (a 04 reg Fiesta with a 1.25 litre engine, a red coat of paint and about as few of the mod cons as Ford could get away with including) but she is mine and life without her would be quite hard. I'm convinced that she is a she but I've no idea what her name is. I've always been rubbish at making up names for things, and so, despite having had her a long time now, she is still just called 'car?. Perhaps that is short for Carla? Carla the car! Hmmmmmm, maybe it'll stick ....

Every morning I wake up, look out of my window and there she is; either on the drive right in front of me or parked on the road with two wheels up on the pavement just beyond. When the night has been cold and/or damp her windows are all misted up and you can tell just by looking that she is still asleep. Sometimes I wonder whether she shivers whilst sitting out there all night and if she'd like a blanket or a hot water bottle.

When I leave the house each morning she gleams in the sunlight, if there is any, and although she doesn't move, I can feel her raring to go. Although I've never encountered a frost or snow with her, we've been through some pretty cold mornings together. Luckily she always starts easily and by the time I've sorted myself out and am ready to go, she has warmed up enough to start blowing warmer air through the vents. Sometimes I have to wait a moment for the windscreen to clear of mist, but she always knows when I'm in a hurry and gets the job done quickly.

In the wet, the area of the windscreen covered by the windscreen wipers is always made visible by the fact that for some reason, the rain droplets never stick to it but always run down straight away. I've no idea whether this is intentional or not, but it would be very helpful if ever the wipers broke, as I can still see through the rain pretty well. There is a little wiper on the back window as well, but I don't tend to use that one very much as it makes a squeaking nose and doesn't clear the glass very well.

Despite the small engine, she seems to roar away by virtue of the lack of insulation under the bonnet. I have to have my music turned up pretty loud to drown out the sound of reving. Fiestas seem to me to have an uncommonly short first gear, which means you very rarely start driving with two hands on the wheel, but rather one on the gear stick continuously, at least up as far as 3rd gear. As with all modern Fords, the ride is incredibly smooth and I feel more like we are gliding down the road than riding, as I pull off the drive and begin to weave in and out of the cars parked on either side of the narrow street on which I live.

No matter where I go, she always begs me to let her stretch her legs at the high end of the gear box, and it breaks my heart to have to hold her back on the slow run up to uni. Sometimes I find an excuse to travel for a brief spell on the motorway, just so I can really open her up a little. I don't care what people say, cars need exercise just as much as people. Maybe more in fact. I love to drive and I think that has a lot to do with the enjoyment of the car itself. For me it isn't so much a tool of necessity but a pleasure filled hobby.

My car is very nimble, as can be seen by anyone who cares to observe the way she parks. After racing up the hill and around the roundabout, into the uni car park, this incredible beast of a machine transforms instantly into a small rodent or bird, able to dart quickly and easily into the smallest of holes, all the while twisting and turning to avoid the obstacles around her. She is a small car and as such, slips into the smallest spaces imaginable seemingly without a second thought.

When I return from lectures, I can always see her nose, distinctive and red, sticking out from between the other cars, as if waving a flag to remind me where I parked. I hope I'm never without my car; she is the only one I can talk to who doesn't judge me, or make sarcastic comments. In fact she never says anything at all, just sits and listens, all the while purring like a contented cat. If you have a car, show it lots of love and affection and you shall be happier for it :)

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I wonder why …

Posted on Thursday 2nd November 2006 at 00:00
Why is it that when you exercise, you sometimes have a really good time of things and other times it is absolutely hell? I've never understood the reasoning for this but I'm sure it is the cause of most people who give up exercising doing so. I can't honestly say whether or not it was the reason I gave up on my last two gym memberships, but I'm willing to bet that the subsequent demotivation from a few bad work outs was one of the main factors for quitting.

Yesterday I had a great exercise session. I walked the same route as usual and felt fine. My pace was quick, my heart rate manageable and my legs hardly seemed to need any encouragement to keep going without slowing down. Because the walk is based on time rather than distance, if I'm going especially quickly I tend to extend to route to compensate and this was the case yesterday. As far as I can tell, if I'd stuck to my normal route I'd have shaved about 5 minutes off my previous walk. Even towards the end I was barely tiring and still had enough breath that I could have held a conversation as I went.

Today was the complete opposite of that. I set off well but within a few minutes I could tell it wasn't going to be anything like as good. My pace wasn't bad but I could feel my body grumbling and groaning at what it clearly felt was a rather unjustified strain. Within the first five minutes I was having to fight against ankles and thighs which were making a protest, in the form of aching pains with every step, and not long after that a stitch kicked in. Although I felt that I was going as fast as was humanly possible my watch told me that my times weren't all that great, in spite of heavy breathing and far more perspiration that is desirable for such light exercise.

In the end I only managed the shorter circuit and might not have even got that completed on time had it not been for a two minute stop on the high street when I bumped into my house mate and had a quick chat. As it happens this was what saved me, as in the time I stood still I was able to recover my breathing and cast off the stitch in my side as well. Although things weren't great when I carried on I was at least feeling well enough to get to the end without being reduced to a Sunday afternoon stroll.

God knows what tomorrow has in store for me, but if it isn't better than today I might seriously consider giving up exercise and dying a fat person in a supersize coffin that needs 10 people to carry it to the grave side.

P.S Has anyone noticed how quickly it is getting dark these days? It is only a little after 5 but already it is hard to see anything out of the window, beyond the last traces of sunset!

P.P.S The person in the photo isn't actually me, I stole it from the internet. Generally speaking the same goes for all the other pics I use.

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Money Money Money!

Posted on Thursday 2nd November 2006 at 00:00
At last it seems my economic fast may be approaching an end! For the first time in nearly 18 months I am almost in reach of a regular part time job. It isn't for many hours a week; four in fact I believe, but it is a start, and I should be making a tidy '100 a month from that. I know in the grand scheme of things it is very little. Actually, it is less than I was earning at Waitrose when I was 15 and working for '3.68 an hour, but it should pay for my meals or my car with perhaps just enough left over to allow me the odd trip to the cinema.

This month I shall be doing very well in terms of earning, with a long list of one off days during the month working at Bristol Cathedral during the graduation ceremonies. '500 and maybe a tad over shall be mine by the time I finish and it is only a shame that I couldn't have worked more of the days on offer. Sadly though uni just had to get in the way once again. I shall be very glad once my timetable cuts down sufficiently to allow me many more hours of work a week.

Not more than a few hours after I received the email confirming my work at the Cathedral, I received a phone call from the bloke who controls the staffing of catering services at the university. He was responding to a note I'd casually slipped into the bottom of an email I sent him a few days ago saying I was interested in any regular work that may be available. It just so happens that a few hours a week need filling in one of the bars on campus. Once again my irritatingly full timetable forbad me from taking all the hours I wanted, but I shall be able to get enough to see me through until more become available.

About the same time as I was reading the cathedral email earlier today, I got a phone call from my brother, informing me that he had a friend in the music industry who may be looking for someone to build him a website at some point soon. Obviously it is early days yet and I have no idea whether or not the job will come my way, but you never know do you? An extra source of income, be it a one off payment is certainly not something for me to turn my nose up at, especially with uni taking '400 off me for tuition fees each month until February.

So yes, my friends, your humble narrator is gradually picking himself up and climbing out of the pit that is student poverty. It will be a long climb to be sure, and I doubt I'll really get a foot hold until after I graduate, but at least I hopefully won't end up any worse off than I am now. If you see a Paypal donation box appear on the website at any point in the near future, you know things haven't quite gone according to plan ;)

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