The Daily Mumble September 2005 Archive
September 2005 saw me return to Sheffield for my second year at Sheffield University.
The latest entries are displayed at the BOTTOM of the page
a cure for my epilepsy
I'm feeling pretty good at the moment on that score actually, in that I'm Single and Loving it. Erm, well, actually, maybe that should read Single and Liking It. Not bad eh, for me?
I haven't been sleeping at all well recently, with nightmares galore and hours spent tossing and turning in bed before I can drop off again. These epileptic (?) 'episodes' are continuing unabated, at a rate of 30+ a day, which is now starting to worry me a little. Initially I thought they were caused by a 15 hour flight halfway around the world. Now, you're not telling me I'm still suffering from the side effects of all that are you? It's been almost 4 weeks now. I can't associate them with any particular trigger, no matter how much I analyse my actions leading up to the episodes. I have found that if I close my eyes whilst having one, I can barely detect that anything abnormal is going on within my brain. Is that how my minor seizures manifested themselves last time, in 2003? Unfortunatly I can't remember them in that much detail. I know that the episodes that I am experiencing now differ in at least one way from the episodes I experienced then - my eyes don't wander off to the right, and there is no rippled lense over my field of vision. Also, I've tried upping my dosage of Epilim (anti-epilepsy drug I've been taking on a daily basis for 10+ years), and all that did was make me feel even more confused - suggesting that this isn't epilepsy...
Anyway, as soon as I get back to Sheffield I'm going to see my GP, and request that they wire me up for an EEG (electrodes placed all over the scalp to detect brain wave patterns). I've also requested that they refer me to the Burden Centre for Epileptology at Frenchay Hospital in Bristol. Shame about the 17 week waiting list - that's the UK's National Health Service for you.
Maybe I'm just going CRAZY!!
...Maybe it's a lack of sex.
Ok, partaking in lots of sex and consuming lots of chocolate next semester in Sheffield, preferably combined.
a few quotes on the fallout from Katrina
I don't want to go all political on you, so this entry is optional...
I'd conjugate for you anyday
I downloaded my timetable from the uni website today, and boy did it have some good news for me...
Not only is my 9am Monday lecture with a tutor who I'd willingly conjugate for any (and every) day of the week if necessary, but, also, I get Fridays off! Look, a whole Day Off! I never had one of those last year. Oh Joy!!
This timetable makes me look like a rather lazy student doesn't it? 10 hours per week... 6 of them are Japanese language, 2 are Japanese history, 2 are War and Peace in East Asia. I chose the latter module purely because it's taught by the youngest and grooviest lecturer on the block, who I'd like to get to know better! I It's not what you know, it's WHO you know.
I owe this particular lecturer an apology in any case, as last year I inadvertantly spread a false rumour amongst his colleagues that he slept on the job.
I'd wanted to see him about reccomended reading for this semester's module, and so trundled along to his office and knocked on the door.
That's odd, I thought. His light is on, shining through the window above the door. I knocked again.
Still no reply.
So, I jumped, as high as I could, to get a peek through the window 7 foot up.
Was that the top of his head I could see, slumped over his desk? Another jump, and yes, it definately was him! I started to laugh, he'd obviously fallen asleep at his desk! Ooh, I have to go tell my other lecturers this, Mr. H is sleeping on the job...
They burst into laughter too on hearing my report!
Later that day I recieved an email from my sleeping lecturer. He was very sorry he hadn't answered when I knocked on his door. He had a 600 page manuscript to proofread by 9pm, and had spent the day with his head buried in that.
I thought that by being a model student in his classes I could begin to apologise.
Caw Blimey Gov these (epileptic) episodes are getting a bit hardcore!
I've been experimenting with them today, trying to see if I could make them resemble the episodes I had in 2003. It worked! The eyes wandering off to the side business - I'm sure that's a result of a concious decision by me to do that, or at least to trigger it. I've also discovered that I really can sense when they're coming on, and take appropriate action to ensure that I don't do anything silly whilst in my trance. More than that, I can actually delay the onset of the full effect for a few seconds if I need more time to prepare. It takes a bit of fighting to stay in focus, and feels like I'm causing some short-circuit in my brain, but it works.
I've found I can also go to other places whilst under the influence. I had two noticeable out-of-body experiences today. In the second I actually became the step-ladder that was in front of me, which was quite amusing.
Anyway, the result of today's experiments is that I'm pretty sure that these seizures are a manifestation of my temporal lobe epilepsy, and therefore, I have decided to increase my drugs to the amount that I went onto last time I had these kinds of seizures.
All of this, incidentally, is quite safe, as I have been here before, and know the score. The episodes themselves are not putting me in any danger due to the amount of warning I'm getting.
Ho hum I'd better go and have a shower. I wonder what it feels like to be a bar of soap washing my baby-soft skin?
p.s. I note that last Monday TGW had its first ever 1000-hit-day, and last month saw a record 16,944 hits in total. I'd like to thank all of you for 'hitting' Tame Goes Wild, although I can see from the breakdown of visitor statistics that all but two of you only do it in order to steal my photos. (That's why they're all so small! Hah!! Like to see you try and get a decent size print out of one of them!).
So, thanks for stopping by to steal my photos. I hope you realise that they are all impreganted with a toxic red-dye which means as soon as you open them with your pirate copy of Photoshop your computer will start bleeding all over your favourite angora rug, which you no doubt bought from Lidls for a fiver.
Whilst we're on the subject of TGW stats, I note that 'horse' remains the most popular serach term leading to TGW - no less than 6.01% of searches that result in people coming to this site contain the word 'horse', with 'cock' coming in a close 2nd with 5.97%. I am still baffled as to why this is the case, as I only have one photo of a horse cock on TGW (here), which is made out of plastic and can be found at the entrance to Dinosaur World in North Devon, that being the place where, when you enter the spaceship-simulation ride, you are told (in a thick country-bumpkin accent), "Don't worry, this isn't real, and the two aliens you see are actually just models made out of green plastic".
So there I am reading my book about late 19th century revolting samurai (hardly surprising considering loo-roll hadn't yet been stolen from the West) when I think, hmm, did I fix that broken link on TGW that I spotted yesterday... so I sit down in front of my laptop, and oh, I was gonna check out an englishman in osaka wasn't I? Oh yeah, and oh yeah, I wonder what the cynical traveller has been up to lately... and before I know it I'm lost in a world of god damn it I want to that funny, and what? Tokyo Times made the Bloggies 2005 finals?
...and then it's 11.30pm and far too late to shave my beard off. Crap. oh well, at least it's Sunday tomorrow.
Bridge on the River Wye
I note that BT (British Telecommunications) has decided to cut its competitive sailing sponsorship budget somewhat since it's heyday in that arena, having been the main sponsor of the 2000/2001 BT Global Challenge, "The World's Toughest Yacht Race".
This year, BT has decided to invest more cautiously, by funding the six man crew of Raft No. 26 in the 2005 Monmouth to White Rocks River Wye Challenge, which has the following tagline:
The magnificant twin-hulled vessel is made out of the latest carbon-fibre composite empty plastic barrels strapped together with a couple of bits of wood and some duck-tape, with a few knackeerd chairs stolen from the local primary school strapped to the deck. Note the faithful reproduction of the new BT logo on the front of the boat.
This shot was taken whilst the team were refuelling. In the pub.
Other next-generation crafts seen battling it out to be first to the bar included the following:
The tarp, seen covering the heads of that crew of 7 (above, bottom right) was there with good reason. Oh yes, believe me it was.
Forget the hurricane winds and dashing rocks of Cape Cod.
Forget those rather big computer-generated waves of The Perfect Storm fame and the rather crap storyline from whence they came.
This is not known as the World's Dirtiest Raft Race for nothing, oh no, no Siree. For each one of the 60 racing yachts taking part in this vicious battle-to-the-end has to make it under
The keepers of this disused railway bridge are legendary in their ability to repel any crew that dares attempt to enter the lower stretches of the Wye, without having first applied for a license at Monmouthshire County Council's One Stop Shop. Packed shoulder-to-shoulder across its entire span, they stand at the ready, young and old, tall and short, fat and thin, bald and hairy, armed with eggs, flour bombs, or in our case, bags of cold spaghetti filled with half-set 5-year-old blackcurrent and strawberry jelly (as seen below, during preperation).
The boats approach, and we attack.
It seems that some teams have learnt from previous experience (like that above left - a magnificent flour-bomb bombardment) and so have nicked some umbrellas from a local beer garden.
Other crews go to extreme lengths to avoid being shat on from The Chicken on High. As we on the bridge, and our comrades on the bank (with their battery of egg-launchers) found out to our cost.
Yes, this evil band of brothers were well-equipped, having installed a high-power pump in their raft, enabling them to drench anyone within 20 metres.
Including us, up on the bridge.
And everyone standing in front of the pub watching the rafts go by.
Still, not every crew got the better of us, oh no. There were some who were overcome by our barrage of culinary delights.
At the end of day, all traces of the Battle of the Bridge on the River Wye were washed away, leaving nothing but a lot of very happy fish all planning tomorrow morning's breakfast - pancakes and scrambled eggs.
p.s. congrats to suzie and the team Not from The Bush for probably finishing sort of last, if not last itself.
These days, computers are getting cleverer and cleverer. You switch them on, and they ask you who you are. You tell them by selecting your username, and they load all your personal settings. You know, your favourite bunny-rabbit desktop-background picture, some alternative jingle that plays when Windows starts up - really amusing at first and then intensely irritating after the second time. I see there are now some computers that recognize your fingerprint, and won't switch on without it (oh, damn it, left my finger at home again... Must remember to get a spare cut).
What I'm driving at here is that it's all getting a lot more personal. Your computer really does get to know you, and becomes your friend, knowing your likes and dislikes. Admittedly, a friend that you'd dearly love to smash up with a hammer at times, but nonetheless, your friend. In fact, it then goes further than that. You find, as life goes on and the number of ex-girlfriends increases thus requiring the transferral of all those statistics in your little black book to an Excel spreadsheet, that you can't actually live without your computer. But more than that, without your computer, YOU ARE A NOBODY! Your life IS your computer - the emails, the website, the digital photos - you are nothing without it.
Imagine then, my horror, when today I was told by my network printer that I have an Unsupported Personality.
I have spent hours over the past two days attempting to connect my soul (Toshiba laptop) to my right hand (HP Laserjet Printer) via 2 bits of LAN cable, an ethernet server and a remote print server. Finally, tonight I got the damn thing to recognise the printer, only to be told, when I tried to get a hard copy of a bit of my memory (that is , when I tried to print a photo of the raft race), that I have an Unsupported Personality!
I kid you not. It has obviously detected my emotional vulnerability, and decided that I am way too risky to be connected to. In fact, thinking about it, that printer has been plugged into the LAN (& through that, the internet) for about two days now... I BET it's been checking out The Daily Mumble, reading up on me. Shit, I knew I shouldn't have been so explicit about my favourite past-time with a pile of golfing jumpers and 4 tea bags. It's probably thinking, Christ, if he thinks I'm dirtying my laserjet rollers with anything like THAT then he's got another thing coming.
But crikey, an Unsupported Personality? That's just harsh.
I think I'm gonna need counselling for this.
Close Up Pussy Shots
Ah, what is it about pussy cats? They even make me, a toughened male chauvinist pig with a shaved head and the scantest regard for others, melt into a cooing jelly-like splodge.
These guys and gals are about, er, 4.5 weeks old now. Aren't they just adorable?
I love kittens...
...but I couldn't eat a whole one.
Joseph Tame, Rotavator Man
Check out the video, here [Windows Media Video, 19 seconds, 880kb]
Then send me lots of money to cover the increased bandwidth costs.
Joseph Tame, Bald Man
Whilst having a leisurely browse through some photos taken of me at work today, I had quite a shock.
At first glance, you may notice nothing out of the ordainary in this scene. Joseph is caked in mud, standing admiring a mighty stump that he just been uprooted [with the generous aid of his employer, who incidentally was the one who suggested that they use water to help loosen the soil around the base of the tree, water that turned to mud in 0 seconds flat, and then was catapulted up into joseph's face with the full force of a pickaxe hitting a submerged tree root...].
Anyway, I digress. The Shock, yes, The Shock.
Take a close look at my head and what do you see. No, no, not the devilish good-looks, they should come as no surprise, I'm talking about the bald patch!! can you see it? It's definately there ...let's have a close-up:
Crikey gov, what have I done to deserve this? I'm only 27!
That's it. You know that plan I had a couple of weeks back to grow my hair long - I'm DEFINATELY doing it now, before it's too late.
I just put "Why do men go bald?" into google and got the following results:
So there we have it, I have too much testosterone. And we all know why * THAT * is don't we?
Hhmm, maybe I ought to reconsider this involuntary chastity thing and move back into Sheffield's red light district.
Oh the agony. Desperate for my morning poo but prevented from letting it come to pass by a man delivering fencing panels. I'm sure you've been there many times yourself.
I'm back at mum and dad's for 36 hours, en-route from the Welsh Garden Project Site where I've been working for the past 5 weeks, to my new home in Sheffield. I've just woken up, and I REALLY need the loo, but this guy's turned up to deliver a whole of fencing, and dad's invited him in for a cup of tea. So now, mum, dad and the delivery chap are all sitting nice and cosy around the kitchen table, which is located about 5 metres away from the toilet. After the toilet incident at last month's wedding, something I'm yet to recover from, I don't think I can bring myself to take a seat in such an exposed environment.
Oh crikey, I don't believe it, the Postman's just turned up, and they've invited HIM in too!
See you in Sheffield.
Introducing The Courtyard Cupboard
According to the website of the company that owns this complex of 63 student flats, "With us, you can find your own space". What they fail to mention is that the 'space' that they're referring to that you'll find in the tiny rooms that they rent out for extortionate fees is under the bed. Fine if you're a suitcase, a dirty pair of socks or a pile of porno mags being hidden from mother, not so good if you're a 183cm, 70kg human being.
Mind you, its resemblance to the inside of a box that your lifesize inflatable girlfriend came in does make it feel like home (small, as in Tokyo apartments. I'm not saying I usually live inside the box that my, er, my friend's lifesize inflatable girlfriend came in) (I still have a photo of her I think, before she sustained that fatal puncture. My friend sent me the photo you understand. Yes, he also has a Paddington Bear duvet cover, like me, bizarre coincidence eh?)
...and taking this apartment was my choice. In March this year, a last-minute change of policy by my university's Accomodation Department meant that I was made to feel that I had to find a new abode as quickly as possible. This place, Devonshire Courtyard, was advertising on the uni website, and being just down the road from where I lived last year, I was able to view it that afternoon.
First impressions then upon arrival yesterday morning:
Anyhow, this is my home for the next 9 months or so.
I swear it looks much bigger in this photo than it is in reality. I think that must be because I took it with a really really small camera.
Having heard some horror stories regarding losing one's deposit at the end of the tenancy (from a Japanese girl whom I had a crush on this spring), I, in a completely anal fashion, spent a good half-hour taking photos of the flat. Things like dents in the wall, marks on the ceiling etc. There's a list of charges for everything from a Damaged Fridge Door Seal to a Blocked Toilet!
I found a couple of prime suspects. Note the broken sealant strip in front of the sink, and the burnt ironing board.
I was also delighted to find that the grill pan and fire-blanket were missing, thus saving us another £50 or so at the end of the year.
Ah, it's the simple things in life.
Since I got here, I've not stopped. Not only have I moved in and put all my stuff away, I've also had the hot water system fixed (I was so looking forward to a nice relaxing shower last night...), had a new lock fitted to the double doors that open onto the street from our common room, had a new grill pan delivered (all of those jobs incidentally being carried out by "Track", our resident handyman, whose real name is, somewhat bizarely, Tracy), sorted out my broadband internet connection, watched City of God (which I thought was very good), listened to five Radio 4 plays, went to the university library (it was closed), sewed 2 big patches on my jeans, went shopping for coathangers and binbags ...oh the list is endless, and all so exciting.
I think the highlight today occured when Track (this is going to take some getting used to) turned up with the new grill pan, and on opening the kitchen door was greeted by a great flood - comparable to that caused by Hurricane Katrina - the result not of global warming this time, but instead a knackered washer on the hot-water tap.
Oooh look the sun's setting.
I continue to be plagued by epilepsy. The number of 'epsiodes' has dropped from well over 30 to under 15 daily following my doubling of my dosage of Epilim - but I'm not happy with that. My understanding of My epilepsy is that I should be absolutely fine on the kind of dose I'm now on (1g daily). At this rate I'm going to have to return to those heady days of taking upwards of 1.5g daily. Hmm, well, I'm seeing the doc on Wednesday. We'll see what she says. Christ, I keep on mixing my image of her up with my image of my math's teacher in Bristol - they're both Greek you see.
Caw, that maths teacher was enough to make anyone want to simultaneously equate.
I'm really out of it tonight. So weird being back in Sheffield, but not seeing anyone. Most of my mates are yet to return as uni doesn't really start for a fortnight. Think I'll go see my lecturers and the other SEAS staff tomorrow to help with the grounding process.
But yeah, I'm all over the place, lost in my own history, flicking between memories of different homes in the UK, the USA, France, Switzerland and Japan. It's the moving house thing, the action of doing so is like a potent smell, bring back all sorts of associated memories. Like the time you trod in that dog poo. Or your teddy that still smells of her perfume, a week after the four of you slept together. I think listening to U2 may also be to blame. I've loved their music for many years, and so of course, their many different albums take me back to many different times and places. Stay, for example, comes from the days of Zooropa. It was 1996, I (below left) was having a very very difficult time with a Portuguese colleague (snowboarding) at the hotel above the clouds in Switzerland. It was so bad I had to move house, from the cow shed. To the other cow shed. I've written about it somewhere around here... ah, here we are:
We only made up after I spent over 50 quid on Vodka Red Bulls and filled my stationary drawer with red sick, before trying to go to work in the high-class restaurant wearing not much except for a vomit-stained white shirt, one shiney black shoe and one ski boot. Alex, this portuguese guy, looked after me after I'd been thrown out of the hotel, and I then broke down in tears and apologised many times for accusing him of snapping my bedroom door key - the issue that had caused the initial cracks in our friendship.
The weeks following that were truly magical. Alex and I were bestest buddies, and I too underwent some kind of transformation. It felt like I was falling in love with life. I was so happy... (as I have been since, with a couple of noticeable exceptions).
So, you see, Stay takes me back to looking out of the window of that cow shed, thinking bloody hell I'm so lucky to be alive.
Shit, I really want a girlfriend this year, I really do. It's so dangerous though, getting together with people when one is feeling so needy. Can make such bad mistakes. Wrong reasons etc. And the timing! It's not good, I'm going away for a year as of next summer... and I don't want to 'settle down' yet, want to have fun...
...and then I think, but cripes joseph, if she was "The One", not that you believe in "The One" concept, but say just for argument's sake that she was, well, you know, if she was everything you dream of in a girlfriend (thing is, my list of requirements grows year on year, thus meaning that this 'ideal partner' is increasingly unlikely to exist! Bachelorhood Here I Come!), then there would be no fear of committing yourself to her ...right? You would not lose your freedom, for you would not be left wanting outside of all that you share together. This fear of losing your freedom is your strongest motive for Not Getting Involved, no?
I used to think that this kind of theorising would ultimately have no impact upon real life, real situations, upon the manner in which I deal with relationships that I don't see as having a future, but over the past year I have discovered that I am finally learning from my mistakes, and making brave decisions when brave decisions are called for, rather than being weak and going with the flow, a flow that more often that not leads one to the local sewage treatment plant, rather than to the beautiful clarity of a great waterfall of love. Like Niagra Falls, but without those bloomin tourist boats around the bottom, or the barrel, and just as thrilling but without the bruising or brain damage / broken ribs & shattered wrist bones.
Ah, sleepytime Joseph. I hope I don't have any nightmares like I did last night. They were Swiss-related too come to think of it. Giant man-eating goldfish living in ponds way up in the Alps. Not nice.
On the warpath
You know those two flatmates of mine that turned up on Saturday afternoon? They've dissapeared. Gone. Done a runner. Inai. Am I really that difficult to live with?
Of course what this means is that I'm home alone again. Alone in a flat designed for 5. Hhmm, it's pretty quiet really. Apart from when I swear, having dropped cous-cous between the letters 'd' and 's'. That's the problem with eating and typing at the same time you know. Thought I'd make myself a proper meal, see if it made me feel any more at home. It did, sort of. AND, I discovered that we have a spotlight positioned directly above the cooker - how's that for sexy?
Went to see my tutors today. Ooohh the politics of university lecturing life... Almost as bad as the politics of university librarian life - got the lowdown on the controversial reclassification scheme introduced by senior management ("What would they know? I doubt they've ever even read a book!")... There's no staff /student barriers around me, charmer that I am. Hmm. Had a bit of a shock - one of our favourite tutors is pregnant (again). Oh, and I gather that there's only 24 of us going into the second year - roughly half the number that began the course last year.
Chaps came round to replace the washer that bust in the kitchen this morning, the one that caused a right royal flood. Now, far be it from me to criticize the work of a couple of plumbers, what with my complete lack of plumbing knowledge and all that, but I'm pretty sure that Track (aka Tracy) our resident (male) handyman said that it was simply a case of replacing a knackered washer.
My suspicions that the guys sent round to fix the problem modelled themselves on horse-riding indiginous north american people killers were aroused when they began to attack the kitchen sink with a large hammer. They then proceeded to wrip both taps from their mountings and replace them with brand new ones - a totally unneccesary operation. After they'd left I went to have a look at the work - only to find that hot water came out of the 'cold' tap and cold water came out of the 'hot' tap.
Luckily they left behind an obligatory "Tell us what you thought about maintenance" slip. I have completed it in detail ("A pile of crap") and shall be on the warpath in the morning.
That's not the only bit of campaigning I have done today, oh no. In addition to that, and pointing out to the library that half of the links to electronic jounals on my reading list are dead, I have been having fun fighting BT, the UK's largest internet service provider. In this student flat, I am obliged, if I want internet access, to sign up for the biggest rip-off in internet service provider history, that being Ubroadband. Not only does it cost 25 quid a month for a pretty slow connection, but also, it has restrictions of use that mean that you can't use software such as Thunderbird or Microsoft Outlook to send emails. Now according to the latest stats, in the past three years I have sent and recieved over 24,422 emails using such software - that's an awful lot of seductive messages.
So now, you're telling me that I have to go back to web-based emailing? I think not. Especially not at 25 quid a month. The extra work involved would deprive me of serious procrastination time.
I checked the crappy Ubroadband website, and it states that you CAN use Outlook with the service. The helpdesk, however, tell me that this is not the case. I checked all the bumph I got with my welcome pack, and that too says that the security measures that they have introduced will not interfere with email software. The helpdesk says no, that's not the case. There's nothing they can do.
So there we go, I've been mis-sold a product, and I shall fight for the £245 I handed over a couple of weeks back!
[...in the meantime, I had a thought. What if I tunneled through a VPN that connected me to the university server... and guess what, it worked.]
on holiday in the UK
A few weeks down the line, I realise that I now feel, when thinking about Japan, that I'm just on holiday for a few months here in the UK. This summer's trip served to re-establish my ties to the place and the people, and the fact that I'll be back there within 10 monthsn makes me feel that this stint in Sheffield is but a short interlude. This makes me happy, as I enjoy the holiday feeling a great deal.
UPDATE ON FOGHORN FART FIASCO
You may recall the following entry in last month's daily Mumble, referring to an incident at the wedding I attended:
Well, there's more.
Today, I was handed a photo. Not just any old photo however.
Oh no, this photo was taken as I sat on the loo, as described above, and let out my highly embarrassing Foghorn Fart.
Note the supermodel on the left (whose face we sadly cannot see), who is leaning forwards towards the bathroom door that is just out of shot.
Oh dear. I shall never live this one down.
This year, Sheffield University celebrates its 100th year of providing cheap beer and opportunities to get laid to students in the North of England.
As a part of the centenary celebrations, it invited bids for "Centenary Awards", medals to be presented to students, staff or members of the local community who have made outstanding contributions to the lives of others.
I decided that my Japanese language tutors deserved a bit of recognition for their endless enthusiasm and dedication that goes way beyond the call of duty. They seem to be rather overlooked in the department, as they are "only" language teachers, and not grey-haired professors commanding authority.
I'm pleased to say that the judges agreed with my anonymous bid, and all four were awarded a medal and certificate.
I think they may be a bit embarrased about it though, as no-one in the department has said a word...
A very very good year (no, not the tyre)
I have a sneaking suspicion that this year is going to be a very, very good year. I am immensley fortunate to be living very close to someone who was a good friend last year, but whom I see becoming a real friend for life over the next few months. We've spent the last 48 hours madly trying to sort out a welcome party for 200 or so Japanese & English students. We've secured funding, found a venue (no charge), persuaded someone to open the bar despite it being very short notice, found a live Japanese band who will play for free... we're now trying to find some raffle prizes.
I have a great deal of respect for this person, and I admire his ability to turn dreams into realities. I think I can learn an awful lot from him, whilst having some wonderful times too.
A really really good day (really)
Today I had an absolutely fantastic day.
Most of it was spent in the company of Will (my colleague on the Japan Soc committee about whom I wrote on Friday), his girlfriend and all their flatmates. Halfway through moving a load of furniture across a public park for reasons better left un-noted here, a Japanese guy whom I got to know last year turned up - he's a really nice guy, I really like him, and I was even more delighted to see him than I usually would have been as I had thought that he was in Japan. (In fact, this happened again a few hours later when I bumped into a greek friend whom I have not seen for months and thought was in japan...)
Anyway, the day rolled on, I did absolutely no study (hurray!!) and then I got a call inviting me to a Sushi party just round the corner from where I live. Once again, the company was absolutely delightful. I mean, not only did it include the bunch whom I've been getting pretty close to this past week, but also, there were a couple of newcomers on the scene whom I was really really happy to meet... (*twinkle*)
I can see my First at the end of this degree floating away down the river even as I type.
I am VERY happy, and it hasn't even begun yet.
ce la vie
It's been another hectic day today. The freshers (first-year students) are out in force (about 5000 of them I think) ...EVERYWHERE! And so young, just waiting to be educated in the ways of the world... *evil grin* sadly probably not by me as I lack the know how of how to get them into the *classroom*.
They are of course a complete pain-in-the-arse. I mean, you can't get anywhere, coz wherever you go, there's a load of freshers lining up for something or other. I laughed a cruel laugh yesterday when the fire alarm went off in the Student's Union - the queue for the box office wound its way all around the inside of the building - some students had been standing in line for over 2 hours, only to be told to evacuate (and thus they had to line up all over again afterwards, probably losing their precious places at the front of the queue!).
Despite the general untidiness that naturally accompanies freshers, today I discovered something about them that made me want to give them all a big kiss. Ok, so maybe not all. Perhaps not the spotty male ones. Ok, but most of them. The sexy female ones that is.
Freshers are VERY friendly.
The thing is, because 2nd, 3rd and 4th year students aren't supposed to return until next week all the freshers think everyone else is a fresher as well, and therefore, like themselves, is lacking in friends. This then leads them to become pretty extrovert, and talk to complete strangers in a most un-British fashion. Give it 6 months and they'll all be jaded introspective types, not talking to anyone outside of their clan.
Still, for the time being it's great. The number of complete strangers that I had lovely conversations with today was quite staggering. Especially around the Arts Tower. Caw blimey gov I met some really lovely girls there. You see I'd be faaaaaaaaar better off with a lovely English Rose. And what a novelty it would be too.
I attended three welcome meetings for various different student groups today, in my capacity as Friendly Second Year Student and Japan Society Secretary. I also agreed to act as note-taker for one new student with a hearing-impairment as the university is struggling to find professionals (and especially professionals that understand japanese). I have told them that I can only do it temporarily whilst they try and find someone else. My student is a really nice person, and I am very happy to be able to help them. It makes me feel good to be able to make a difference to their new life at Uni. It's also a great chance to get myself known amongst the 1st-year student body, something I am very keen to do
Sixty of the students I met today were Japanese, 2/3 of them having arrived in the Uk just yesterday. Gosh, so young, like giggling schoolgirls a lot of them. Such a contrast to those who are here on Masters degrees... I feel like more of a uncle to the 19 / 20 year-olds. It would be pedophilia, surely.
Another meeting I attended was a one-on-one with a senior (yet young) lecturer at SEAS (the School of East Asian Studies, aka My Department). He's such a nice guy - made me feel so glad I deferred uni for 9 years in order that I be able to relate to him on an equal footing (is that correct English?).
I also spent quite a bit of time with my language tutors, just chatting about this and that. Their concern for my welfare (overburdening myself by offering to help out within the department and elsewhere) really touched me, and thinking about it tonight saw tears roll down my cheeks. I will endevour to never lose touch with these people, for they are precious friends indeed.
My suspicions that they had kept quiet about the centenary medals that they were awarded following my anonymous nomination were confirmed today, when I spoke to the one member of staff within the department who would have known, had anyone known. I have left the matter in their hands - I want the awards brought to the attention of the senior staff who tend to look down their noses at the language teachers. SEAS is by no means perfect - racial and gender-based discrimination is clearly being practiced, and I want the situation rectified. RAAHHHH JOSEPH POWER!
Finances have reached crisis point. I have £3.50 (US$7) to last me one week. My student loan should reach my account on Monday, but until then I shall have to survive on two loaves of bread and a bag of potatoes. I shall console myself by remembering that there are millions out there who have far less than that to live on for a month. Ah, being a bankrupt is such fun!
I am absolutely shattered. This naturally leaves me feeling pretty emotional... Tonight, when I went to bed, I felt that there was a huge void in my life. I feel that I'm in a kind of no-mans land. My lifestyle over the past few years, that is, living in Japan / Milan / Bristol / Sheffield / Japan / Wales / Sheffield, has resulted in a weakening of my ties with the people who a few years ago played central roles in guaranteeing my emotional wellbeing. Time and distance now stand between us, and friendships that once were so strong are now quiet, low-pitched background music. Perhaps the volume could be turned up once again, but only with the aid of physical face-to-face meetings (as opposed to non-physical face-to-face meetings of course). Or perhaps a very clever Japanese remote control.
And who has taken the place of those who were once so central to my life? Well, I suppose Katsura did for a time, especially last year. With her up-close and filling my senses I could no longer feel the emptiness left after my break-up with my former partner. But things with Katsura are now clearly over, an almost embarrassed silence having fallen between us, memories of words spoken refusing to pass into the comfortable realm of amusing memories.
I am hoping to see two of my very best friends, Jo and Catherine, next week, as they will both be up here in the north. There's something about out friendship that is very different from that that I have with anyone else. I think it stems from shared childhood experiences. I wonder if that will ever fade?
I hope that I am distracted soon as I feel the good emotional work of the summer being slowly un-done by my desire to feel that someone loves me.
[but despite this, I wake up with a smile on face every day, for I am very lucky to be alive in such a privileged society!]
the plateau of friendship
Another day gone by that i can't quite believe was 24 hours long, it seems to have lasted for weeks, thinking about all that I did.
Much of my time was spent preparing flyers and membership cards for Japan Society - I'll be glad when our registration drive is over. My only fear now is that too many people will turn up, as we have now been advised that 130 people is the reccomended limit for the room that we're using.
I'm not sure what else I did... oh, ran out of money, yes. Mum and dad have very kindly bailed me out - 5 days until my loan comes through.
Tonight was quite a night. Myself, Will, an ex-4th-year student and about 12 Japanese exchange students went out for a very cheap curry. That was cool, but it was what followed that that was really precious. We went back to Will's place (I feel like I almost live there!), and sat around drinking tea and coffee, talking. I like this crowd. It's my scene. I haven't had any alcohol in weeks.
Had a really stimulating chat with Taku and Hiroko (not her real name, because if I told you Julia's name she might get a bit upset about the exposure on the www), two of the exchange students here. I really like Taku, he's so open, so open with his thoughts and feelings, and so open to others. And Hiroko... Her sisters went to a Scottish school modelled on Summerhill, whilst she herself went to a Japanese school also modelled on Summerhill. She has a really lovely smile ...and I want to get to know her better. I want to work through that stage of getting-to-know each other, and reach the plateau of friendship with its cherry trees in full bloom and happy birds singing. I want to see her again and just talk and explore... but I'll have to wait until Saturday, and I doubt I'll have a moment to relax then as I'll be runnng the show alongside Will.
I should sleep. It's almost 2am, and I'm very tired.
Times are exciting, but I'd like them to get a little more so.
the outskirts of paradise
Wow. I have just made my first ever phone call over the internet. It's completely free as well, I mean, completely, if you are calling PC to PC. I thought there would be set-up costs, but no, it's 100% bob's your uncle fanny's your aunt FREE. Sound quality isn't bad either. If you use Skype. So download it today and give me a call. Only don't be to surprised if I don't answer, I'm a busy boy you know.
My neighbour has moved in, and I love him already. He is quieter than me. Yes, you did read correctly, quieter than me. I think the most noise that either of us generate is that created by fingers on keyboards. Oh, and occasionally those noises that emerge from my bathroom after I''ve had some lentils.
I saw Hiroko today.
She was looking so smiley and lovely again. I wanted to ask her for her number - it's no big deal as everyone is swapping numbers at the moment, new term and all that. But I didn't. Well, I'll see her on Saturday. Hmmm.
My good deed for the day was helping Mae, another new friend, get onto a uni computer. She hasn't recived her login yet, and therefore has virtually no internet access. I soon dismissed my initial idea - to let her use my computer back here in the Courtyard Cupboard, as I thought it not quite 'appropriate'. Instead, I decided to log her in using my username and password. Naughty but nice, I thought. She asked me to give her a guided tour of the city...
What is it about her that I don't find attractive?
[oh dear, this is dreadful! Everything is revolving around SEX! Why can't I just accept them all as friends and not have to go through this whole process of considering whether or not I find them attractive? I really don't like my attitude.]
Anyway, as I was saying. Yes, not quite my type. I think it may be her rather forthright personality. I mean, things like asking me, in a pretty direct manner, for a guided tour of the city. That's all very well and good, but a but in-your-face. I said Yes, of course, even though I myself need to use a Sheffield A-Z just to get to uni. I think she's a bit short too. Not that that has been an issue in the past. Oh, so judgemental Joseph.
Going back to Hiroko, ahhh. Sigh. Hmmm. Mind you, I don't feel any sudden urge to jump into bed with her, I wonder if there's something wrong with me? Mind you, I would like very much to kiss her, and perhaps cuddle and touch and... oh sod it I can't kid myself - I'd love to sleep with her.
She told me (and another japanese friend strongly agreed) that my manner is very Japanese, and even more so when I speak Japanese. I took that as a compliment, as that is something that I have sought to achieve (to behave in a japanese manner) so as to make those around me feel at home (when around Japanese people that is!).
It would be soooooooooooo nice to not be single this year (did someone put that CD on 'Repeat' mode?). The next week will be an interesting one, as I continue to meet many more people on a daily basis and judge them acording to my harsh standards.
Tomorrow we are running an Origami workshop. Oh, and I'm going along to the intro session for the new students who are just starting the course I'm doing, to tell them about japan soc. Nothing to do with wanting to make an impression upon them.... "If you need any help, academic or otherwise, just get in touch...".
I saw the Masters students today, miserable bunch. Deadly serious, didn't even smile when the lecturer, Hugo, handed over to me and I said,
That was really embarrasing.
Anyway, I could ramble on all night like this, but I really should lie down and get some rest. Whilst reading about China's problematic relationship with Japan.
Oh, it's just Fun Fun Fun this Freshers week.
Oh dear. I am surrounded by Diamond Whities...
This evening, walking through the courtyard where my neighbours tend to gether in the evenings, I spotted, to my utter astonishment and horror, several 2ltr bottles of Diamond White Cider doing the rounds.
In case you are not familiar with this alcoholic 'beverage', here are a few reviews from a drinks reiew website:
I think you get the picture.
And this is what the other people in my block drink.
when you realise you have done something truly stupid
Well, I tell myself, better to be put out of my misery now than let me simmer like a pot full of chick peas on their way to Humous land.
The Heart in Search of Love has been told, indirectly, that it can loiter in this doorway no more. Maybe that's the thing - it is seen on the doorstep, newspaper in one hand, Diamond White in the other, and is instantly deemed unattractive. Mind you, it's not often it actually does that, I mean, the poor unfortunate souls who trip over me on their way out of the house are actually few and far between. My manner this week of going door-to-door on the same estate is kind of understandable, I think, considering the fact that this is a new development, and I am so drawn to the warmth that I see glimpses of slipping out between the living-room curtains.
My degree is safe again. For the time being at least.
The above few paragraphs are inspired by an event that occurred but one hour ago. I shall attempt to write about it without thinking about it, if that's possible, as the consequences of my actions are too embarrassing to think about, if I consider what I actually wrote a couple of days ago about a girl named Hiroko (see above).
We exchanged a couple of emails tonight - it was our first time. In my joy at having heard back from her I merrily tapped out a short light-hearted reply, then hit the "send" button.
It wasn't until about 5 minutes later, when burning my lip on a very hot piece of fried tofu, that I realised what I'd done.
I screamed within my head. I couldn't have been so stupid... Could I?
I forgot to delete my bloody signature from that email before I sent it! You know, the one with the link to this webpage?! The one that would take her straight to the above passage in which I talk of what I'd very much like to do to her.
I check my Sent Mail folder.
Oh crikey. I did. I sent it, with the link.
I try to remain calm as my brain figures out what the best course of action is. Get it offline, yes, quick, she may not have checked it out yet. I launch my website-authoring software, and replace The Daily Mumble with a page that reads, "This site is temporarily unavailable".
...but if she loaded that page before I overwrote it then she'll have all the time in the world to read it.
I have to console myself by thinking that these things happen for a reason. Perhaps my shooting myself in the foot has stopped me from running off an unseen cliff.
You may recall that last week I had a few teething problems with my new flat. Knackered hot water system, unlockable door leading onto the main road, lack of a fire blanket in the fire blanket holder, flood in the kitchen caused by a persished washer, and no grill pan.
I have now discovered why we had no grill pan: because the grill doesn't work. I came to this conclusion after waiting half-an-hour for my tofu to cook. I gave up when I noticed icicles starting to form on its upper surface...
Friday 23rd September 2005 22:13 (GMT+1) The Courtyard Cupboard, Sheffield, UK
Today, we at Japan Soc took part in the Societies Bazaar, the annual event held by the Student's Union to give freshers the opportunity to sign up for all sorts of different activities. We did pretty well, recruiting 100+ members over the course of 5 hours, not bad going for that sort of event, especially when you consider that there were over 130 societies there, and we wouldn't let people sign up without paying - most societies allow you to just put your email address on their list in return for a promise to "pay later". From experience we know that in practice people never actually pay up, and tend to use the socity's resources whilst leaving us starved of funds.
Last year the sign-up procedure was a right mess, with pages and pages of illegibly scribbled hotmail addresses. We were still having complaints of people not receiving emails two months down the line, and copious amounts of mail bouncing back. In a bid to avoid all this inefficent malarky I had the idea to get people to type their details straight into a spreadsheet, thus avoiding any underscore / hyphen debates, and alleviateing the need for all the info to be typed up post-registration event.
I must say, I think it was rather a clever idea, and it seems to have worked. I was able to export the data from the spreadsheet directly into our address book, and I had a Welcome message out to our new members within a few hours of the event finishing - and there were only three addresses that returned User Unknown. The amount of time this has saved is extraordainary. I know, I'm such a hero.
In other Let's Worship Joseph news, this afternoon I managed to secure the use of a Data projector for FREE, having been told yesterday by the students' Union that it would cost Japan Society £200 (US$400) to hire one! The sponsorship I secured for tomorrow's party would not cover such an outlay, but I really wanted to have a video of last year's highlights playing in the background throughout the event to help keep people amused.
Having exhausted official channels, I decided to get personal, and popped over to my department here at uni. I've helped them out a fair bit recently, so I thought they might put aside the fact that I'm just an undergrad student holding a party and lend me this piece of equipment that's worth several thousand pounds.
Thankfully I am on very good terms with the second-in-command at SEAS - he is a thoroughly decent bloke - and so, when the secretary approached him on my behalf, he did not dismiss the idea out of hand. After a little discussion and my swearing that I would take great care of it, it was agreed that I could borrow the sexy bit of kit for the weekend, on the condition that it remained on campus (for insurance purposes) in a secure location.
Finding a secure location in which to store it was the next challenge. Being the weekend, there won't be many staff around, meaning that the number of "secure locations" is reduced quite drastically. However, I then had the idea to call in another favour: back in May one of the senior staff at the Octagon Centre came to me for advice on where to go during their holiday in Japan. I met up with them, told them this and that, and gave them my old copy of Lonely Planet Japan, which I later said they could keep. Anyhow, I contacted them this afternoon, and they said yes, I could leave the equipent in a stationary cupboard in the basement - a room to which only two members of management and Security have access to.
It's amazing what one can achieve if one tries hard enough. It also just goes to show, it's not just what you know, but who you know, and perhaps more importantly, what impression you leave on those Who's whom you know!
I had an offer today via the TGW guestbook from someone apparently called Mary, who it appears resides in Japan.
How thoughtful. It's only the lack of personal information provided by "Mary" that is keeping me from howling in front of the moon on / with a big rock. If she were to resemble the subject of this first photo I'd be back over there like a shot:
bjork. Oh baby.
However, if "Mary" is more along the lines of this, I may give her a miss.
Margaret Thatcher, the thought of whom is enough
I have met my final flatmate. She is lovely. Quiet, but confident. Reminds me of myself in a way. I have a feeling i won't see much of her.
I'm really happy with my flatmates. It seems they've hand-picked us. We're all 2nd or 3rd years. We are all quiet, security conscious and clean.
It's all working out really well. Really.
a personal victory
Wow. What an amazing success. I am so proud of myself and Will for pulling off such a successfull event at such short notice.
Last night saw Japan Society's "Nippon Matsuri" ("Japan Fest"), a Welcome Party for new Japanese and non-Japanese students that Will and I have been working tirelessly for for the past ten days, with the invaluble assistance of fellow committee member Maria and many other kind-hearted souls.
I've lost count of the number of meetings attended, favours asked of various university departments, meals skipped, and hours sleep lost to Japan Fest.
But you know what, it was all worth it, as last night at 7pm a long queue formed outside the doors of the Octagon Centre.
By 7.30pm we had over 200 fully signed-up Japan Soc members inside a packed bar ...and the atmosphere was just great. It was so good to see so many people making so many new friends. And you know, I lost count of the number of people who came up to me and said, Joseph, This is Fantastic, I'm really enjoying myself, thank you, thank you so much.
I don't think there's a single Japanese student, or a single student of Japanese here at Sheffield that doesn't know my face now! One of my tasks last night was to announce the raffle prize winners. This basically involved standing on a chair with a mic, getting very excited about such things as miniature plastic ironing sets, bought at the PoundShop a couple of days back.
The chair on which I stood was positioned right next to a big projector screen, which had a collection of photos from last year's events being thrown upon it by my computer and connected kit. The timing could not have been any better, when about 30 seconds into my intro speech, this shot from last year's Christmas Party came up.
The laughter had to be heard to be believed.
Remember that the majority of people there knew virtually nothing about me. Let's just hope that in this case first impressions don't stick.
Of course in addition to facilitating the creation of many new friendships, we have also ensured Japan Society's financial security for the forthcoming year. University funding is pitiful, with a mere £220 to last us until next summer. Following our revision of the sign-up procedure, and then the success of the advertising campaign for last night's event (this involved seeing all target groups face-to-face during the week, and the distribution of 1000 flyers), we managed to generate about three times that amount of money in membership fees, meaning that we can hold even more great events for our boys and girls this year.
Oh, I have a stalker!
Well, ok, maybe that's a bit harsh. It's one of the first years, a very sweet girl ...who clamours for my attention whenever we're in the same room (you know, waves hello and puts on a huge smile, jumps up and down on the spot like a rabbit etc). I am told that the photo that she had taken of us together last night will be up on the net pretty soon. erghh.
Last night ended with a personal victory for me. Nothing happened, and I am probably reading all the signs wrong, but, well, yes, I'm sure I've got the wrong end of the stick, but lets just say that i am very happy.
I say last night ended for me on a personal victory ...but that's not quite true, as that personal victory went on until about 11.30pm, but I didn't get to bed until 4am. After I got home, I remembered that a Chinese friend had a 10,000-word dissertation to submit on Monday (tomorrow), and that it needed proof-reading, all 54 pages of it. So yes, then it was off to their house to join Will in checking the manuscript ...until 4am! English is such a difficult language - I really admire anyone who can compose such a lengthy, technical document in a language other than their mother-tongue.
So that brings us up-to-date then. It's Sunday morning, 10:40am. My room is an absolute tip, and I am shattered. Lectures start tomorrow, and I've done virtually no preperation, having had my life swallowed up by party preperations. But, I'm really happy. I think it is so true that the more you put in, the more you get back, which means that I am owed a huge amount!!
No, seriously, I'm so happy to have been in a position to do all this, as it means that I have secured myself a huge crowd of friends, people whom one week ago I had never even met. This is a great start to my second year at university - am so happy to be alive and well.
happiness all around
You know what, today I had a really lovely day. I spent over 8 hours in the company of one of the loveliest people I have had the fortune to meet in the last 27 years. I feel funny. Like there could be a cliff in the area, but if there is, I can't make it out.
My 2005 / 06 lectures commence in 8 hours 43 minutes, so I'd best go to bed. Me and my teddy.
the curse of being a romantic
ahhh, The curses of being a romantic.
Steps to be taken to avoid getting peed off with being single:
a) Continue to not drink alcohol.
b) Remember why I am here at uni (to study).
c) Purchase a hacksaw, a large pack of paracetamol and a bandage.
Friday Night, and it's all happnin'
Of course the good thing about living by oneself is that when one finds something that apears to be a large breadcrumb under the cushion on one's chair, one can actually consider eating it, even if it is a bit hard.
Ah, so it's Friday night, and the party is kickin'. There's laughter all around, accompanied by sporadic bursts of song.
Meanwhile, in the flat below, Joseph is sitting in front of his computer doing his homework.
I think it must have been Tuesday night then, no, Wednesday, when I had my first taste of alcohol in about a month. I got so drunk on half a pint of beer, unbelieveable. The result of this was that I ended up offloading a lot of shit onto some classmates whom I never really got to know last year. That's metaphorically speaking you understand. I have better toilet manners than my friend's two pet ferrets who apparently have a habit of pooing just behind the door so when she gets home she has no choice but to smear it all over the carpet. Nice.
Yes, I think if I remain completely sober I can just about deal with the issue that lies at the heart of my frustrations. It's when I get drunk that I get all needy. Mind you, I think at the moment, these past few weeks that is, I am going through a particularly vulnerable patch, as you may have detected. It could be partly a result of my meds, it could be partly a result of the anticlimax. Or it could simply be down to the sheer abundance of arousing 3D images, the ones that come complete with hearts, minds and very cute faces.
Whatever it is, I wish it would pass.
This week has been a real shocker in academic terms. Of course, it's only to be expected that level 2 of our degree course is more difficult than level 1, but the jump is just way beyond our expectations. I mean, at one point this week, we were given a dictation excercise. When the passage came to an end we all just burst out laughing as none of us had been able to catch what was said - it was just a joke!
In addition to this, I am now doing 3 modules (as opposed to 2 last semester). Admittedly, Japanese is allegedly only worth 20 credits instead of 40, but that doesn't actually result in the workload being halved. The amount of reading required for my two lecture-based modules is also very disconcerting - I curse myself for not having done more in the holidays. I'm really in the shit.
I think the greatest shock for me however came when I enquired as to how much this year's results are worth in terms of my overall degree. The answer: 50%. Yes, 50 bloody percent. The 3rd year (in Japan) doesn't actually count towards one's final degree at all - it's just a pass or fail year. So it's just this year and the 4th year that count then, meaning I really have to knuckle down.
Japan society, much though I love it, has also been causing me a lot of stress. This time of year is the busiest for me as secretary, with membership lists to sort out and distribution lists to compile. Plus all the bloomin' emails that are pouring in - today I even had one asking me for a recipe for takoyaki (Octopus balls)!
The thing is, I dearly love making things happen, and I really want it all to be done properly. I'm a perfectionist, and it really gets to me when I see sloppy work. Others seem to have the happy ability to just let go and not care about the consequences; sadly I lack that, thus meaning that I often get lumbered with tidying up after everyone else. I am fortunate however in that the person who heads Japan society is possibly one of the most thoughtful people in Sheffield, and goes out of his way to try to ensure that I do not end up doing more than I should. He's a star.
Tomorrow I am going to see my two best friends. I have been promising to visit one of them, dear CJW, for well over a year, but until now have not got around to it. These two friendships go back a long long way, and time and distance do not seem to have weakened their strength. My excitement at the prospect of seeing them is marred however by my concern over how the hell I'm going to get all my homework done by Monday.
In a further bid to shoot myself in the academic foot I have invited a friend round for supper on Sunday. I've not known her long, but I really like her (we're talking friendship here), and I want to get to know her a lot better. She is similar to me in some ways, in that she feels guilty when she's not studying - maybe we can work on our issues together! I really would love to have some more close friends here at uni who I can really talk to. You see, I think that if I can develop my network of friends, I won't feel so damn lonely half the time, and I won't feel so in need of someone to take the place of my teddy bear.
Anyway, I think that's about all I wanted to say tonight.
Thanks for listening. I feel a lot better now.