February 1st, 2007


Secret of the Winter Skies

Eww, my cucumber turned out to be pretty moudly, and it seems it was already off when I bought it two days ago. On the plus side, the balsamic salad and curried pasta-pea concution are both yummy, so I'm still having a nice dinner, albeit it an odd one. It's simply because I didn't get the chance to make the sandwiches I'd been planning to do, and so I'm having to eat certain things before they join the cucumber in the ways of the mould.

So...very little updating again. Perhaps the key reason for this is the way I'm falling asleep as soon as I lie down in the evening/early morning, and I'm busy doing various other things for the rest of the day. I was a little shocked to realise how little I'd actually been saying, in fact, and I have indeed much to say. The problem thus is that I'll be writing a very long post which, unless you're sitting there with a coffee/tea/thing relaxing, you probably won't read in its entirity. I'm sorry about that.

The Student Loans chaos has continued. I recieved word very soon after the previous post that I was going to get it, but then it was delayed again. After my parents played document ping-pong with Nottingham City Council beaureaucrats, I think we've finally worked out what was going on. My account was slipping into very low figures when I got a letter informing me my loan payments for 2005/06 were now authorised, listing payments on such dates as the 9th January 2006, with a final payment of c.£200 yesterday. I got the £200, and it seems that my loans in the first year were not authorised fully, hence the council wanting the documents for 2005 again. They have since worked out I was paid £200 less than I ought to have been, and hence made up the difference before giving me the loan for this year. In any case, whilst I'm still yet to gain the loan for this year, with which I can stop the landlord glaring at me, the £200 means that I can withstand another few weeks without having to arrange an overdraft. Thank goodness.

I've had other worries too. For one thing, the Estate Agents have proved themselves to be one of the lowest orders of mankind. Not only do they consistently lie about what time they're coming (they've been half an hour late these past two appointments), nor give the required 24h notice, but they keep writing to our landlord complaining how our house is a health hazard. Ummm, no, it really isn't. We tidied it up last week, and it's been on the right side of untidy ever since. I think the problem is that in our cleanup, we filled up the bin, and as such, had overflowing bins for a week until the council came to collect the full one. We solved this dilemma by using various carrier bags around the bin, but the evil Estate Agent seems to have thought that we like wallowing in muck, such was the tone of his letter to our landlord. He also moaned about us having pots and pans around the sink: in other words, he wants us to have a showhouse. None of us are remotely happy about this underhand Estate Agent. For those who care, it's 'Browns'.

Another stress comes from the chaotic politics of campus media. I was planning to do an update on this a few days back, but it's seriously complicated, and I don't have the time to type up the whole crazy story. Basically, for those who are not Hollowegians, I am Travel Editor for the student magazine, The Orbital. This has meant I've been commissioning various people to write articles, editing them, and writing a few of my own. It's been enlightening, and I think I've done a pretty good job: the experience I've gained in understanding the printed media, and how to manage people, has been invaluable. However, not long after we won an award for 'Best Student Magazine 05/06', a particularly outgoing fresher started a campus newspaper. He's good at it. Within a month of its weekly publishing, it's become something that strangers to campus see as professional, in line with national papers. It's got the layout. It makes money through advertising, and it's weekly nature compares favourabley with the montly Orbital. The newspaper, The Founder, was not intended to challenge the Orbital, but in the eyes of the campus population, it has, and the general opinion seems to be that it's doing a better job. The SU VP for Communications & Services certainly thought so, as he told the Orbital to become more RHUL-relevant or to become a newspaper. This was done, creating an issue with a lot more news than our previous, more-lifestyle based issues were, and the pressures involved in the whole affair have caused a number of cracks in the Orbital editorial board. I've been focusing on keeping my section as good as it has ever been, especially since the Founder does not cover travel, but others have found it a lot harder. It's pretty crazy, and I've only given you a general outline. Needless to say, campus media is in a turbulent period.

I also developed a neck pain. It could be related to all the various stresses flying around, but it's meant that I've had a dull ache in the upper-left side of the back of my neck. Its intensity is most variable, as its often been there in the evening but not the morning, and once vice versa. I initially figured I'd been sitting in a bad position, but its persistence has had me a little more concerned, as a stiff neck can be a sign of meningitis. I've not displayed any other symptoms, and I've been watching, but I'll still pop into the medical centre tommorrow to see if they can help.

I seem to have developed a temporary obession with nuclear weapons. For the past few days, I've spent a considerable amount of my free time reading up about fission bombs and fusion bombs on Wikipedia. I've always had a degree of fascination with nukes, which is probably related to the otherwordly conditions they create. Mushroom clouds look fantastic, provided you can ignore the devastation and potential suffering caused below them. I don't mean by that that I'm in favour of nuclear weapons by any means, but I still find them fascinating. I can relate this to the docudrama Nuclear Secrets currently showing on Monday evenings on BBC2 documenting the nuclear race between the USA and USSR (although they're covering the Israel/South Africa controversy next week). It's certainly given me the idea for a story, though, the embryonic form of which I had already developed last year, but have now a more definite plan for. It'd be a short story, and despite my initial worries, seems different enough from Dr. Strangelove to work. I've had quite a few story ideas as of late, actually. I may even write some of them.

Incidentally, the reason I found out about Nuclear Secrets was that it comes on soon after University Challenge. I realised with some delight that I can actually attend the RHUL UC trials this year, and intend to go along and have a go at making the team. I don't believe I'm good enough for the show, but I'd like to know just how good I am, hence the trial. Holly is convinced that I'm a quiz genius, and I set out to prove her wrong with Monday's show, before surprising myself by getting 20% or so of the answers. Maybe there is hope? I'd certainly like to give it a go!

February already. How times flies. 2007, what is wrong with you? It doesn't feel all that long since I sat with mulled wine watching the London Eye turn into the world's largest Catherine Wheel at New Year. I've a lot happening this February. Essay deadlines return to rob me of sleep. I'm going to Berlin with the German Society. I'll attend both Societies Ball (German Soc for the Win!) and Modern Languages Dinner. However, over all these things comes by 20th birthday in just over a week. Hoho, nineteen is a nothingy-age, but 20? The end of teenagery, the birth of true adulthood, a new digit to use at the front of your age, and so on. It's not going to have a great effect on me, however, because through various channels, I already feel that I'm a few stages beyond the me who wrote in this LJ two years ago. It's only scary if you turn around and look how high you've climbed.

I got the mark back for my German Project. 65, a pure 2.1, which I'm quite happy with considering my written German still has some way to go. Apparently, my research was fantastic, my grammar was solid, but I made many silly mistakes. That's always the story, so it seems. Happily, my reading comprehension seems to have gone on leaps and bounds in the past year. I now have little trouble with translation exercises that cause others to struggle (it's the other way round for some of the written pieces). I noticed during my stay in German in December that I was having far less trouble understanding things then I had before. It's reassuring indeed, but I still need to improve on my spoken and written German before the exams to ensure I gain a good grade for German Language this year. Oh, and speaking of work, I've got two essays to do in the next fortnight. The first will be on population demographics in the 19th Century, the other will either be on Japan under Douglas McArthur or the Korean War. I'm out of shape when it comes to research, however, unless you're talking about nuclear bombs...

Okay, I've got to go places now, so I'll be back later for more. Once again, sorry for the volume of blog I've thrown at you now!