my life in pictures - inside my head edition

at 15:34

Tuesday, 28 August 2007

Well I'm back at work after a fabulous bank holiday weekend (Phase V of my freakout has been fully completed for all those who are keeping tabs, so I'm back on an even keel now) and I was stuck for something to blog about. So, rather than providing you with a stream of consciousness ramble, or skipping posting all together (my life is about to get very busy so I'm taking every opportunity to post that I can) I've decided to allow anyone reading an unprecedented look into the inner workings of my mind.

I am a crazily unorganised person and as a result I carry a diary around with me at all times (I also have on me at any given time: my journal, a novel, my glasses case, a make-up bag, a mini hairbrush, my wallet, two sets of keys, my phone, my iPod charger, a comic/game manual, a mirror, assorted writable DVDs with random TV episodes on them, my iPod and about 6 pens of differing colours - that last one is going to make sense in a minute) everything I have to do for the schedulable future is contained in the pages along with numerous notes to self, lists of things to buy and the occasional doodle. Without it I'm completely lost.

(In fact since writing this I've managed to think of three more things to add to tomorrow.)

So, without further ado - this is what my week looks like so far:

Click for full size
click above for full size

Click for full size
same for this one!

That's it in a nutshell (with a quick couple of paint deletions), not very interesting is it? But, at least my scanner got to see something with colour on it for once! Comments are appreciated, as always, and I'll try to have something more entertaining for my next update.

Side note: yes, my writing really is that illegible and I do indeed skip/substitute letters on a regular basis. My brain works at a slightly faster pace than my hand and it shows.

..according to H

at 16:43

Wednesday, 22 August 2007

H, my co-worker with a problem solving streak decided to take each one of my dissatisfaction induced crazy-lady suggestions and give me a workable way to achieve each one, which entirely defeated the ranting and slightly surrealist point of my list. I decided to show her just how irritating she was being by combining all her suggestions into one giant plan of action, one huge, mixed up way of getting nearly everything done from my list (except the stripping thing, sorry Vermillion).

The result is that I may have just mapped out my idea of a perfect life. Which could realistically begin summer of 2008. Oh dear.

In theory I could take a TEFL course online, part-time over this year (giving me something to do with my brain for less money than an open university degree) and then when the lease on my new flat runs out in a year's time I could go and do a five or six month placement teaching English in Japan. A friend of mine is almost at the end of a stint in China and she's had the best time, she did loads of travelling - got to see the country and really got a lot out of it. I've always wanted to teach (at least for a while), Japan is at the top of my "places I need to go to before I die" list, I'm still a year younger than most of my peers (I skipped my final year of elementary/primary school - child genius that I was), I never took time out to go travelling and I have nothing but time. I could use the trip to learn about the culture, see the countryside, get some inspiration for the book everyone keeps pestering me to write, pick up an authentic tattoo, begin to learn the language and have a proper adventure. It would only be six months out of my life, I'd have an extra qualification - which can never hurt.

Oh well, it can't hurt a girl to dream. And it makes my days seem a lot less hopeless.

Witness stage IV: relentless optimism.

decisions decisions....

at 12:13

In a continuation of my hideous week, we have now come to the beginning of "Typical Alex life freak out Phase III"* in that I'm quite tempted to run away. Here, as I see it, are my ten best possible options:

1) Move to the New York and intern for a newspaper or a journal, live in a flatshare with about 9 other people and eventually work my way up through the publishing world (problem: a million and one people want to do the same thing and I'll probably starve to death)

2) Become the next Internet sensation and ride the wave of the publicity onto chat shows and make a ton of money (problem: becoming the next internet sensation would probably be fairly difficult and embarrassing)

3) Move to Amsterdam and become a stripper, use my dubious connections to blackmail important businessmen (problem: if I end up meeting and falling in love with a minor member of the European royalty he'd be forced to break up with me because of my seedy past)

4) Move to Italy and get a job in a vineyard, learn about wine making and eventually take over the business when I marry the owners' rugged yet strangely sensitive son Marco. (problem: likelihood of my Italian ever being good enough to converse with Marco is slim to none)

5) Go on a countrywide tour with an up and coming rock band and learn valuable lessons about the value of family as well as gaining an important insight into who I really am (problem: as great as Almost Famous is, movie plots aren't really representative of real life)

6) Move to Fiji, spend my savings re-taking my PADI qualifications and spend my time doing marine conservation work, teaching diving in my spare time and bar-tending to earn money to pay the rent (problem: Lack of funds to afford the initial flights, diving lessons and accommodation)

7) Become a receptionist at a tattoo parlour, spend all my earnings on rent for a tiny box room in Camden and adding to my now completely acceptable tattoo collection (problem: I'd be poor for all eternity and my mother would disown me.)

8) Hole up in a cottage in the Highlands and write an astonishing debut novel winning several awards in the process (problem: lack of muse and easily distracted nature means that I would spend the entire time blogging or internet shopping and hence would die cold and alone but surrounded by beautiful yet ill-fitting shoes and bargain jewellery)

9) Move to Japan and get a job writing the scripts and story concepts for RPGs, spend my evenings learning to cook and hanging out in video arcades (problem: lack of knowledge of Japanese and any kind of programming skills may hinder me somewhat)

10) Suck it up, get over it, apply for more research jobs now, start working on my 4 year project application for this winter and wait for the new batch of PhDs to be advertised later in the academic year. (problem: If I wanted to be sensible and do that I wouldn't be having a freak out now would I?)

So there we have it. Now I just need to pick one.

*Phase I: anger, ranting, frustration. Phase II: anti-social behaviour, lack of communication, apathy. Look out for Phases IV (psychotic chipperness, optimism and unintentional honesty) and V (drastic image modification/inappropriate boy/extreme drunkenness/all of the above). Coming soon!

a smirk on a very bad day

at 16:53

Monday, 20 August 2007

I'm having the mother of all bad days today. Seriously, you know those days where everything goes wrong? Yeah, well I really wish I was having one of those. And typically, my prick of an ex has his psychic fuck Alex over instinct fully tuned in so he picks today to send me a charming little update about just how spiffy his life is right now. Tool. I'm normally a fairly sunny person but people have taken to avoiding me today, I guess my bad mood is pretty obvious from the face like thunder and the sub vocal growling. Plus I'm not explaining to everyone in ear-shot why I'm upset which is normally the sign of a major meltdown being just around the corner. (Yes, I am fully aware of my own neuroses thankyou doesn't mean I can do a damned thing about them though I'm afraid.)

There have been a couple of small consilations today namely:

  1. I am much funnier when I'm pissed off so at least my workmates have been getting something out of this.
  2. My ex-flatmate may be coming down for a spur of the moment visit this evening which means I have a fantastic excuse to drink large amounts of red wine and trash talk her boyfriend with her.
  3. Realising just how many people are frightened by my bad moods from the number of very nicely worded and incredibly polite emails I have received today.

Also this made me giggle when it came up on my RSS feed:

Former News of the World chief Phil Hall becomes first tabloid editor to confess to feelings.

I'm off to drink even more coffee now, I'm jittering as it is but I guess it's better than smashing things.

bollocksing hell

at 14:34

Friday, 17 August 2007

Why did I sleepwalk through third year Bioinformatics?


Also: apparently being an office bimbo for the past year has had a serious effect on the number of functioning brain cells I possess. Seriously, I needed those. I can barely understand some of my final year practical write-ups let alone remember writing them.

Bollocks, bollocks, bollocks.

Also: every person I know who could give me a mini refresher on the subject of bioinformatics is either a) not speaking to me becuase I "intimidate" them b) being avoided by me because I have to keep turning them down or c) in a time zone 8 hours behind me.


thoughts for Friday morning

at 11:37

I'm distracting myself from my impending Interview of DOOM by mindlessly blogging, these are the things that have occurred to me this morning:

I can't believe I've had Shadow Hearts 3 for over a week and haven't even read the manual yet. That's some serious willpower right there.

Holy logical reasoning, Batman! Birds really are going to take over the world.

Using air quotes around the words "mad skills" is even better than deadpan delivery of "Oh yes, it's off the hook" for uninterested sarcasm and makes me almost wish I still worked for minimum wage at GAME so I could use it to describe this year's Madden.

I probably should have taken heed of the subliminal messages in Litely's last blog post and worn flats today.

I can't believe I have to work this weekend rather than attending my friend's faux-wake. His fake spirit is going to be pissed that I didn't go and pretend to mourn him.

Why does my scanner keep deciding it no longer wants to perform the "scan" function requiring a full restart? What did I ever do to him?

Also: why is my scanner suddenly male? And is it entirely healthy to anthropomorphise office equipment?

(vanity + boredom)*something I should be doing =

at 21:52

Thursday, 16 August 2007


Yep that's right, I should in fact be reading up for my interview tomorrow but instead I'm watching Supernatural and blogging. So here for your enjoyment are the answers to 38 questions about me (the source they were ripped from was helpfully provided by Vermillion). Enjoy.

1. When you're home alone, do you still close the door when you go to the bathroom?

Yep, and I lock it. I live with flatmates, they have keys, and boyfriends. You can see where this is going.

2. If you have to go grocery shopping, would you rather go alone or with someone?

Alone, foraging for food is a solo activity although I always come back with treats.

3. It's your best friend's birthday, do you buy them a gift even though they didn't buy you one for yours?

We normally all agree to either buy gifts or none of us do, although if I see something they’ll really like then I’ll definitely buy it for them – doesn’t have to be a birthday though.

4. You win the lottery. Lump sum or small payments over a period of time?

Lump sum = bankruptcy within less than a year. I am terrible with money, if it’s in my bank account I will spend it. I feel that small payments are really my only option.

5. Do you like your music loud or at a reasonable level?

Normally at a reasonable level. Unless I’m exercising, pissed off or upset in which case I want to blast it out as loudly as is humanly possible. Normally there’s singing involved.

6. Are you a beach person or a snowy mountain person?

I’m a snowy mountain person all the way. I do not do well in the heat. The second it gets over 25 degrees I start bitching and whining. I cannot do summer elegance by a long shot.

7. When do you brush your teeth?

Before leaving the house in the morning and before going to bed at night. Unless I’m coming home drunk in which case make-up stays on, earrings stay in and teeth remain un-brushed.

8. Can you watch scary movies alone?

Indeed I can for I am not an 8-year-old girl. I did slightly freak myself out by watching the original Ring movie on an unmarked VHS tape that my friend had recorded for me, though. That screws with your head.

9. Soft bed or firm?

Firm, anything else screws with my back.

10. Would you rather stay home all day, or be out and about with some friends?

Out and about with some friends. I do enjoy spending time alone at home but its normally through laziness. Once someone drags me out of the house I normally end up thoroughly enjoying myself even if I really didn’t want to go at first. Plus there are boys in the outside world. And beer.

11. What's one of your worst memories?

Being exploded. Oh OK, that’s too melodramatic I mean “in an explosion”. That’s one of my very favourite “bad parenting” stories – I’ll so a series on “why I no longer speak to my deadbeat father” at some point in the future, this anecdote’s the highlight (although technically this one wasn’t his fault, he was just a douche in the aftermath). For the record: No, I’m not horrifically scarred. Yes, I do have an unhealthy fascination with fire now.

12. Do you like to keep the peace or be confrontational?

I tend to keep the peace amongst my friends purely for an easy life, drama tends to irritate me unless I’m being told about it in the third person. If someone steps out of line concerning either myself or one of my loved ones then I won’t hold back. I am snippy and sarcastic with strangers on a daily basis during rush hour, I owe these people nothing and they annoy me.

13. Are you more likely to be with a large group of people or a few close friends?

I’m more likely to be with a big group socially – normally my close friends are in it. I’m at my best with an audience, the drama queen in me likes to play to a crowd. At home I’m normally hanging out with my flatmates.

14. What are your plans for October?

Well, hopefully a new job is in the works if my interview tomorrow (which I’m supposed to be reading up for right now as a matter of fact) goes as planned. I’d be starting at the beginning of October. Between now and then I’m moving to a new flat, saying goodbye to some friends and celebrating my birthday. Fun month.

15. If money were not a problem, where would you like to live?

I’m crazily in love with London even after four years of living here, ideally I’d like to stay but in a nicer apartment. New York looks like it might be fun too. I’d definitely need to live somewhere urban with shops, seasons, art galleries and good restaurants.

16. Are you close to your Mum and Dad?

I haven’t spoken to my father in over 7 years, not through lack of trying on his part. My mother and I speak on the phone at least once a day (I get very bored being on my own and so tend to call people if I’m not watching TV or playing video games, she gets fed up of being trapped in a house with a teenager –it’s a good arrangement.) I’m ludicrously close to my Stepfather too.

17. What is one fear that you can't seem to overcome?

I am terrified of being cut or stabbed. Surgery freaks me the hell out especially if it’s under local anaesthetic and injections have me literally crying with fear. It’s way too much of a violation for my liking and the thought of it makes my skin crawl. Tattoos don’t bother me because the needle only goes into the skin superficially. Piercings however freak me the fuck out. Getting my lip done was the scariest experience of my life and I spent an hour in the chair psyching myself up before I could even let the woman near me. Essentially I like the fact that my blood is on the inside and I’d like to keep it that way.

18. Are you good at maths?

For a “normal person”? Yes. For a scientist? No.

19. Do you kiss on a first date?

I’ve never actually been on a first date with someone I haven’t already kissed so it would be kind of strange not to.

20. Is there anyone that you regret ever meeting?

Nope. Even my most hideous ex-boyfriend had his advantages.

21. Rate your life on a scale from 1 to 10.


22. Would you rather have roommates or live alone?

Roommates, I get really lonely by myself. Even if I spend the entire weekend holed up in my room with a book I like being able to go and knock on someone’s door if I need something. My flatmates are very easy to live with too, I’ve had roommates that I didn’t get on with at all and some that I just couldn’t stand to live with but once you find the right people it’s just dandy.

23. Do you like any of your friends a little more than just a friend?

Indeed I do, I have a crush on an adorable geek but he’s not interested. Ah well, such is life.

24. Do you like to drive?

I can’t drive, terrible I know. I will learn at some point. Honest.

25. Do you hate anyone at the moment?

See above re: awful father.

26. Do you give money to homeless people when they ask?

No, never. I do however buy coffee or a sandwich on occasion.

27. A weekend in Las Vegas or Miami?

Tricky one. Miami if you can get me an appointment at a tattoo parlour, Vegas if I get to heckle Celine Dion.

28. When you go to the store, do you have a list or just buy random things?

I have a list, when I shop then I shop properly. I do tend to deviate though.

29. What do you wear to sleep in?

Depends on the season and who’s currently staying in my flat. Normally a nightdress or hotpants and a vest.

30. You have 3 months left to live, what do you do?

Get very, very, very drunk. I’m sure there’s something meaningful I could be doing but seriously: you’ve just told me I’m doomed before Christmas. Cut me a little slack.

31. You're having a bad day, what's one thing can make your day better?

Going to the cinema and losing myself in a movie.

32. Tanning beds?

Are the work of Satan and should be banned. I can see no earthly reason why they exist.

33. Is there anything you would change about your body if you could?

I’d lengthen my legs by about 4 inches, give myself some cheekbones and tone up my arms. The last one I probably could do something about but I’m too damned lazy to.

34. You wake up in an unfamiliar place, what is your first reaction?

Aw man! Again?

35. Is there anything that you should be doing right now?

Reading about the expression patterns of KCNV2, refreshing my knowledge of bioinformatic genetic analysis and re learning the developmental stages of the Xenopus oocyte. Not much.

36. If there was a way to know when and how you're going to die, would you want that information?

No way. I know me, I’d completely give up.

37. What is your favourite breakfast food?

My mother’s traditional English pancakes with sugar and lemon juice. Yummy. A fry up is never going to get old.

38. It's 4am, and your phone is ringing, who would it be?

My flatmate who’s woken up at the end of the bus route again, my flatmate’s boyfriend wondering where she is, my friend Ade telling me he’s pulled or someone who’s phone has switched on in their pocket. A startling number of people call me at 4am.

And that's me in a nutshell. Interesting or not so interesting there it is, in my defense I kept getting distracted by Jensen Ackles.

wednesday geekery

at 13:10

Wednesday, 15 August 2007

I'm feeling the warm and glowy love for my subject today. Mainly because of this article. Seriously, if it were possible to marry a piece of journalistic writing it would be this one waiting for me in the registry office. The author puts into words exactly what I want to scream at some people on a daily basis. The gist of the article is this:

The past 30 years or so have been an age of endarkenment. It has been a period in which truth ceased to matter very much, and dogma and irrationality became once more respectable. This matters when people delude themselves into believing that we could be endangered at 45 minutes' notice by non-existent weapons of mass destruction.

It matters when reputable accountants delude themselves into thinking that Enron-style accounting is acceptable. It matters when people are deluded into thinking that they will be rewarded in paradise for killing themselves and others. It matters when bishops attribute floods to a deity whose evident vengefulness and malevolence leave one reeling. And it matters when science teachers start to believe that the Earth was created 6,000 years ago.

It's a well written piece and well worth the read, I may be a little biased as creationists were the bane of my religious studies A-level (I did it for the ethics course which, incidentally was a super fun experience. I was the only person in the room who didn't think that aborting your heroin addicted half sibling was going to earn you a one way ticket to the land of fire and brimstone. Try teaching situational ethics to that crowd. Here's a hint: you can't.) but this is not an anti religion thing, people are perfectly capable of combining science with belief. I've seen it happen. And whether or not I see the rationale or point behind it is an entirely off-topic issue.

The way I see it the essential problem is the death of the questioning mentality. The general public isn't educated enough in the basics of science to question what the newspapers and their so called "experts" have to say. And so we live in a society where potentially famine-solving research into GM crops is put on hold because "We'd be eating DNA!!!!", people give their life savings to psychics and mothers endanger the lives of their children because they want them to be treated "naturally". It makes me ill.

Here's my dirty little secret: I own two decks of tarot cards. I can also read I-ching. I have an oracle book. But and I really must stress this I do not believe that they will answer my problems or tell me anything I don't already know. Dividing yarrow stalks or dealing cards gives me the time to think over a problem and by the time I'm done it doesn't even matter what the outcome is. I think horoscopes are a bit of fun, I read them as I flick past the page and then immediately forget them. These things are diversions at best and quite frankly anyone who thinks they're anything more needs a fucking straitjacket.

I think magazine psychics are a sick joke - especially the ones who pass on messages from dead loved ones or give life advice based on their spirit guides. Live psychics are frankly, con-artists. Anyone who's looked at cold reading will tell you so. But still this isn't where my problem lies.

My problem is when they call it science.

Skepdic makes for an enlightening read on the subject especially if you don't have a scientific background, there are some fantastic articles on the ways that studies using "scientific methodology" can be deliberately misinterpreted, skewed or simply explained away. Most people don't understand scientific terminology so if you have an agenda to push then it's easy to twist things your way by throwing out some jargon and hoping the public bites.

I honestly believe that critical thinking should be on the curriculum as standard. But what do I know?

Well now that the ranting and raving is over with I'll give you something amusing to look at while I get on with the business of packing up my soap box.

Now that's dedication to the cause. There are more tattoos for the thoroughly geeky here, and I must say: it did indeed brighten up my day.

Photos of Alex (77)

at 11:49

Tuesday, 14 August 2007

Dear Person I Went to High School/College With, Who I Added on Facebook During a Fit of Sociability and/or Irrational Insecurity About My Number Of Friends, But Now No Longer See Socially,

Hi! I see that you were out and about this weekend. You must have had a fantastic time, boy am I ever seething with jealousy right now! Seriously, I'm not kidding after all: you went to a house party. Congratulations. One minor point: you were there for five hours. Evidently they were a fun five hours as you photographed all of them. During those super fun five hours you saw the same thirty people. All your photos are of you posing with said thirty people. There are seventy of these photos. You are in at least sixty of them. None of the photographs depict a momentous or even humourous event. Call me crazy, you can even call me cynical if you really want to but your photos (all seventy of them, that is an awfully impressive number by the way - especially considering the static nature of the event and the number of people present) seem tailor made to demonstrate to the rest of the world what a brilliant time you were having. And it certainly looks like you were! Things certainly have changed, haven't they? I remember back when we were close, back in the days where we would both attend the same social events. I remember how you spent most of your evening collaring people to pose with you and the rest of it flicking through your digital camera deleting the pictures where you had four chins. Good to know that you've developed an all together more rational attitude.

Keep in touch!


ps. The little captions you add obsessively to every slitty eyed photo are just super too. "Drunk!!!!!! :)" - sheer poetry.

"Everything that is not photographed is lost, as if it had never existed, and therefore, in order really to live, you must photograph as much as you can, and to photograph as much as you can you must either live in the most photographable way possible, or consider photographable every moment of your life. The first course leads to stupidity; the second to madness." ~ Italo Calvino

I caught sight of the above quotation in the comments section for one of my favourite columnists and as well as being incredibly fitting it made me smile, hence the reproduction of it here. I am not a completely anti-photo person. I like photography. Photography took my thoroughly awful still life projects up to an A grade. Photography involves chemicals and silver and magic. It's art and it's science and nothing else combines my two favourite things so well. Photography I have no problem with. I have a problem with the endless streams of red faced people having "like, a totally amaaaaaazing time" that are clogging up my newsfeed. I hate that now whenever I go out I'm faced with the tyranny of the camera. I don't like photos of myself. I look dreadful in them: Because of the size of my pupils I will have red-eye even if everyone else in the photo survives unscathed, I also hate posing so am normally mid sentence when a photo is taken. (That sentence is usually "hurry up and take the fucking picture already".) My features are such that they're all slightly "off" my lip piercing is asymmetrical, but only slightly, my refusal to have five healthy teeth removed when there was no benefit other than a purely cosmetic one means that my teeth are out of line (actually technically it's my jaw) on the page this sounds awful. In motion my face works. I'm fine, average looking. Videos of myself do not make me cringe. Photographs however, unless they are black and white and completely candid look downright horrifying. But it's more than that, it's the fact that every time I start having a conversation someone inevitably collars me to pose for a photograph. I don't want to pose for a photograph. I want to continue discussing the decline in quality of modern British cinema. Just because every one else around me seems so determined to avoid having a good time by photographing it doesn't mean that I should be doing that too. I want to actually enjoy my evening without my conversations being interrupted by flash bulbs and I want to not be constantly panicking about the state of my eye make-up in case someone is prowling for snapshots. (Yes, I am that vain.) Is that too much to ask?

Apparently so. I blame facebook. I would attempt to rebel against it but then I wouldn't be able to stalk my ex's new girlfriend (photos: 941).

evening update - ten true things

at 22:45

Thursday, 9 August 2007

Well I'm off on a road trip to the coast this weekend (now I know that I'm not going to get eaten by sharks I feel remarkably more happy about the whole thing) to celebrate 22 years of one of my friends being alive. It's going to be at close quarters with a big group of people (about 3/4 of whom I've never met before) combined with large amounts of alcohol, dancing and board games. Should be fun. 

I'm also celebrating for a reason greater than the four day weekend: the application form I was struggling with last week (and which drove me to start this damned thing) proved fruitful. Out of 80 applicants I was one of the 9 to get an interview. This is good news as it is my first official step out of my current slackerdom and into the world at large.

So to herald the early start to the weekend, here are ten true things*. We'll start with the subject I know most about: me.

  1. According to Wikipedia I am 3" shorter than the average female my age in the UK. This is apparently not tall enough to reach the hand-rails on the London Underground.
  2. My pupils are naturally so dilated that eyedrops have no effect on me. It is possible to take a photograph of my retinas without any preparation. According to two qualified medical professionals this is "freaky".
  3. I still don't understand differential equations despite having an A-level in Maths. I never want to.
  4. My hair colour is currently purple.
  5. At present there are 6 self-help books in my bedroom. I've read two of them. Five of them originally belonged to my mother and have significant passages highlighted. This is creepy.
  6. My favourite drinks are red wine, gin and vanilla white russians. These vary depending on weather, time into the evening and whether or not I have access to nutmeg.
  7. I own as many pairs of pink shoes as I do games consoles. This number is 5.
  8. I hadn't eaten meat until I turned sixteen. This is not a euphemism.
  9. Nine is my favourite number (because it's thrice to thine, and thrice to mine, And thrice again, to make up...) it's also a very nice shade of blue.
  10. I currently own 230 movies on legally bought DVDs.


I really should do one of those "here's all the things about me" questionnaires that are so rife on facebook, just so people have a basic frame of reference, but I can't seem to find one that isn't horrifyingly pedestrian if anyone knows of one (or has any questions to put to me) feel free to leave me a note in the comments section.

Have a good weekend, kids!

*Note: true things are subject to change. We here at Circular Logic take no responsibility for the nature of these claims, we cannot guarantee that they will be salacious enough to satisfy you and would like to take this opportunity to apologise in advance for any disappointment caused.

morning update - Sharks!

at 09:35

For those of you not familiar with the British tabloids this time of year is what is known as "silly season". During the parliamentary recess there's often a dearth of real news (other than the usual stories about immigrants bringing down our house prices, intrepid reporters sneaking replica guns onto planes, "soaring" crime rates, the general hideousness of the youth today and wild, completely unfounded speculation about kidnapping cases) which often leads to some rather fun filler pieces.

This year it's sharks.

Great White sharks to be exact. In Cornwall. I'll give you a second to either ponder that or look up exactly where Cornwall is.

The Sun (my favourite of the red-tops) has been literally going mental over the story.


No, really - we're serious: Sharks!

Honestly, an expert said so.

Human interest angles are vital to the journalistic cause and not merely cynical marketing ploys.

Add in some stories about how Cornwall's economy is now booming and how some "cheeky bakers" have been cashing in by making Cornish pasties in the shape of shark fins (so triangular, then) and you have the makings of an international sensation. I say "international" as several news networks from outside the UK also chose to run the story.

Which makes this article from today's Guardian even more tasty.

"I didn't expect anyone to be daft enough to take it seriously."


computer related thoughts of the day

at 14:19

Wednesday, 8 August 2007

It is entirely justifiable for me to buy another PS2 specifically to get it chipped so that I can play Grandia III

I really, really hate scanning. I mean it's fine when I have something I want to photoshop but not as the entirety of my job.


Mildly less surprising:

I am nerdier than 93% of all people. Are you a nerd? Click here to find out!

In my defense I am a geneticist with a very good memory and a thing for comic books and video games although I probably should only be in the 70s... right?

Taking online quizzes probably isn't a very good use of my time.

taking temporary tattoos to a whole new level

at 09:39

Tuesday, 7 August 2007

This article in the Guardian caught my attention this morning. I have kind of a problem with the concept of tattoos becoming "trendy" (although I will be laughing my pretty inked ass off when everyone who got a tattoo because it was cool suddenly finds themselves stuck with a permanent brand that's no longer in style) it's just another case of something I love being made tacky by the mainstream. I guess I'm lucky in that I'm crazy about something that is inherently customisable but it still annoys me.

This is essentially someone putting patterns on a shirt and using the label of "tattoo" as a marketing tool, but I suppose if people want to waste their money on a pointless fad then more power to them. I did like the attitude of the artist towards the guy licensing his artwork though:

"This guy is at ground zero of everything that is wrong with contemporary civilisation," Hardy commented. "However, if he wants to make a lot of money with my art and it's not going to be overtly negative, then what the hell."

Anything associated with the word "tattoo" that doesn't come with some pain and the problem of permanence just isn't going to cut it I'm afraid. I didn't think I'd ever believe this but now half the point of getting ink done is the process for me. I think maybe I'd be less irritated about the clothing line if there was some kind of physical penalty involved in the buying process, perhaps for every cap you buy then you get 15 minutes of a sharp stick being jabbed repeatedly into your ribs. The time limit could increase by the size of the item and by the cliched nature of the design. Now that would be acceptable. Almost.

The Guardian (which seems to be running a theme of late) also published this article last week on the future of durable, removable tattoos. I'm an inherently fickle person and at the grand old age of 22 I'm already getting a cover-up/re-work of one of my pieces of ink. Do I wish this technology had been around then? No.

"Why ever not, Alex?" You ask. Well, I'll tell you:

I currently have a big, blue, unlined snowflake on my right shoulder blade. It's horrifyingly placed, poorly coloured and if I have to hear one more person say "is that.... umm.... is that a cross? No... can't be a cross - it's blue. Maybe some kind of flower?" I'll scream. But it's my own fault. I was 18 when I got it, it's my first piece of custom work and I spent all of fifteen minutes thinking about it. I was too nervous to say anything to the artist and so just mutely nodded when he showed me the art (which I could tell I wasn't 100% about even then) and got it done. I hated it from the second it was on my skin. Every one around me hates it still, but I don't.

In fact, I kind of love it now.

It's there as a permanent reminder that I shouldn't rush into things, to think things through before I do them and, when it's been re-worked, it will be a symbol that even something truly awful can be made better again. Bizarre that the most non symbolic of my tattoos can end up meaning the most to me in the end. And I've learnt from it - my last tattoo had to be repositioned five times before I was completely happy with it, and I had no qualms about doing so. And I'm going to be a complete pain to my artist with my next design, but I've learnt now that if something isn't perfect from the beginning then it's not going to magically become that way over time, so I don't really have a choice.

on the matter of house-hunting

at 12:07

Sunday, 5 August 2007

Well, I'm quite frankly impressed with myself! I managed to get up on three and a half hours of sleep and spend the morning house-hunting yesterday. I should state now that I hate trying to find somewhere to live, just like every single other person on the planet, but this time I'm actually fairly hopeful about the process. Although to truly give a proper understanding of why my hopefulness is an unusual thing maybe I should explain my previous experiences in this area.

Back when we were students and hence scattered all over the country and had to make a special trip to this fine city then we only had a matter of days to find somewhere. The reasons for this ranged from the decent ("I have a biology field trip starting on Friday that's worth 15% of my second year so I kind of have to go") to the frankly insane ("Oh I can't do it on Monday or Tuesday because it's my year and seven month anniversary with my boyfriend"). Finding a four bed house in central London (where they don’t actually have families – no really, it’s a fact. I checked) on two days notice, slap bang in the middle of the time period that every other student is looking is not an easy task.

In fact such a “not easy task” that we chose to stay in our mouse infested, living room free home with the faulty boiler and a flatmate who drove us occasionally nuts (although now we don’t live with her she’s much less crazy inducing) for another year – just to avoid the pain of moving.

The second time it wasn’t so much the timing that was the issue so much as the cost. Two of us had no clue what we were even doing in the months to come (read: “or ever”) and although I knew that I’d get something semi-lucrative my other directionless friend was less sure – an ecology degree in the centre of the largest urban area in the country is actually surprisingly useless. I know: shocker. And the other is struggling on a PhD stipend. We spent weeks trudging round tower blocks (complete with pre-requisite burnt out cars and used needles), on the verge of crying before eventually saying “fuck it” and essentially selling our souls for our current flat. Sure, the rent is obscene, our land lady is batshit crazy (apparently the curtains in the living room are worth £2000 and the chandeliers in the living room and hall are supposed to be professionally cleaned on a monthly basis oh and also: no men or parties are allowed), the place is falling down (we went for a month without heating or hot water in the middle of fucking February) and I have to spend three hours a day travelling because I work on the other side of the city but it’s not so bad.

So why am I happy about the prospect of moving again (aside from the aforementioned psychopathic landlady, shitty plumbing and nightmare commute)? Well although we sacrifice one flatmate to the land of "doing a masters degree in conservation in the middle of the countryside" we gain another: in the form of my other flatmate’s boyfriend. This is fantastic news as it means that next year our rent is instantly lowered, because they’re sharing a room. Finding a two bed place is one hell of a lot easier than finding a three bed place and it means that unlike before we’re actually looking in the upper end of our price bracket so we’re not competing for places with students – and in a city where there is zero student housing this is a large bonus.

But why am I most excited? We’re moving to a cheaper area. And as we currently live in the pricey part of town (and I work in the scummy part) this means we just move closer and closer to where I need to be.

Let me explain: I currently have to wake up at 6:30 to drag myself out of bed by 7:00 so that I can get to work for 9:00am. If I’m lucky I get home by 7:30pm which gives me a grand total of three whole hours to myself before it hits half ten and I have to think about sleeping because otherwise there’s no chance I’ll even be conscious the next morning. Going out after work is completely out during the week because unless I want to be verging on the dead the next morning I have to leave early, and even if I don’t care about feeling like crap for a whole day staying out any later than midnight means it’s going to take me over three hours just to get home (which also translates into three hours of sleep that night - ace).

Moving to somewhere within a half hour journey of my work means that I save two hours every single week day on travel. And, because I don’t have to get up so early, I can actually start keeping the hours of a normal person again. Oh yes, this move potentially nets me an extra three to four hours of free time every single day. And what am I going to do with my newfound twenty hours of free time every week? Am I going to join a gym? Take up dancing again? Learn to play a musical instrument? Perhaps some form of charity work? No! There is something far more productive I can be doing with my time.

Why of course: I’m going to play video games and go to the cinema.

In other news: I actually got my application form in on time in the end so if there are any fingers to be crossed I'd appreciate it! I also managed to be moderation girl on Friday and even wake up yesterday sans my usual level of post-drinking paranoia so it appears my future predicting abilities are on the fritz. Oh and: Vive la Pajiba name formatting revolution!

things I know

at 16:02

Friday, 3 August 2007

I am living proof that premonition is essentially futile, a testament to the fact that predetermination is alive and kicking. Observe: 

  • I will make a fool out of myself in front of someone I really don't want to.

  • At some point tonight I'll offer to show someone my tattoos.

  • I will passionately defend something I shouldn't even admit to liking. To a total stranger.

  • Tomorrow three people will have added me on facebook, I may or may not remember them.  Probably the latter.

  • I will be convinced that at least one person will never want to speak to me again regardless of whether or not this is the case.

  • Even money that I will say either "It'll be so much easier if I just crash at yours" or "God, why don't you just stay at ours, we have loads of space" to someone I fairly openly dislike.

You see? I know the future and yet am powerless to change it.

sum total

at 22:39

Thursday, 2 August 2007

This evening I managed many things: I dyed my hair (and it's now a stunning shade of almost-purple), I messed around with my blog settings, I researched tattoo artists for my next couple of projects (I've decided on the amazing Kamil who just so happens to reside at my favourite Camden haunt for my half sleeve and Mantas down in Brighton for the black and grey piece on my back), I unpacked food shopping, I convinced my Mother that having purple hair a week before a possible interview was not a bad thing, I also watched an episode of Firefly and stalked some people on facebook.

This evening I failed to do many things: Finish my application form (and I repeat: deadline of tomorrow), do any kind of exercise, clean the bathroom after turning half of it pink or eat anything.

I knew that turning on my computer was not going to bring about any kind of productivity and yet I had no choice if I wanted to get anything useful done. Procrastination was inevitable. And now it's too late to finish anything, let alone start it and I'm way too hungry to stay awake and too sleepy to cook anything so bed seems like the only direction I can go in.

Never mind, there's always tomorrow morning - I mean, it's only my future. No problem. we go again.

at 12:23

I haven't had a blog in years, and starting one isn't really on my to do list... except for one major factor which is the actual contents of my to do list.

Things I am avoiding doing today:

  • Three weeks' worth of filing - because it will only take me about ten minutes and therefore can be put off indefinitely (if it doesn't take more than half an hour it really isn't worth doing).
  • Emailing Miss F about wedding travel arrangements - because then I'll have to commit to booking a B&B and a train ticket, spending money is only fun if there's instant gratification involved.
  • Putting through my orders - because I know someone is going to turn up at 4:00 with something urgent for me to do so I may as well leave everything until then.
  • Writing 1200 words on backpacking in Fiji - because I've missed the July deadline so I don't get paid for it until August regardless of when I get it done.
  • Flat hunting - because the very prospect of it makes my toes curl. Plus: it will involve me speaking to estate agents.
....and (this is the big one):
  • Filling out a job application form. Deadline: tomorrow. Although it's useful that I have it as I can't actually do anything else from my list because the application is more urgent than everything else and hence must be done first.

God, I suck at life. Although I'm impressed that I can justify my suckitute, which is something at least.

Things I am doing instead of the things on my to do list today:
  • Debating what colour to dye my hair this evening.
  • Starting a blog.
  • Rearranging our suppliers list.
  • Commenting on Pajiba.
  • Taking inventory of the stationery store.
  • Arranging Friday night.
  • Watching YouTube clips without sound.

It's an annoying mix of actual work and slacking which means I'll be feeling too guilty to take a lunch break. Again.

And that's my justification for starting a blog. Hooray.