I sometimes wonder about atheist and the fact that their mechanical universe just doesn't exist.
I sometimes look at the titles of other Humanities scholar's work, for instance, "A Semiotic Analysis of the Short Stories of Leonid Andreev" by Stephen Hutchings (see here) and I wonder where it all went wrong. I wonder why some people's titles are just grander than mine, "The Literary Career of Fíthal". It always gives the impression that they do more important work than I do.
Academics is a writing business. I suck at writing. Therefore, I should have stayed away from Academia. That is all.
My birthday was rather exciting. I was having a small gathering of friends when a friend who was arriving told me that there was a fire in the stairwell. So, thinking "WTF?" I buzzed her in and took a look down the staircase to see an actual fire. So, I called the fire brigade and everyone got out of the flat. As it was a small fire, we were able to go past it on the way out the door. So, the fire brigade showed up and took care of the fire (thanks!). The police also came and we talked to them for a bit and gave details. I am just happy that it was something minor and everyone was safe. I do not understand the motivation for starting a fire in someone's stair well. I hope the police catch them and soon before they try it again.
My absolute favorite Indian restaurant in Edinburgh has burned to the ground in the middle of Old Town. NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOoooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooOOOOOOOOOOOOOOooooooooooooooooooooo! The article says that there were no injuries. I can only hope that the family who owns it will pull through this exceptionally trying time.
Well, I finally broke down and signed up for Facebook. Within a few minutes, I was inundated by friends sending me stuff and I was completely overwhelmed because I was just trying to figure out the interface. After a couple of days, I have settled in and everything has calmed down. However, I still feel like I have joined the Borg Hive-Mind except everyone is being silly.
Otherwise, the holidays are upon us. I helped a friend put up a tree at their place and had some more mulled wine at the Edinburgh Christmas Market. It has not snowed yet and probably will not but now that I do not have to drive everywhere, I want to see snow and I would love to get some pictures of Edinburgh in the snow like in some of the old photographs that I have seen.
How does a 300+ year old bank bite the dust so quickly?
I have just re-submitted my thesis to the college office. Then I went over to the Celtic Library to look at it one more time and lo and behold there was a sentence that I had forgotten to take out (it was in the chapter twice, once in the text and once in the notes to the edition). Anyway, I had to run across the square and score it out with a black pen. What FUN! Anyway, knowing my luck. I will fail. I already feel like I had failed and the failure to come will only confirm the fact.
You know, I should have come to the UK in the 19th Century.
The BBC weather applet on their website is forecasting heavy snow for Thursday. It has been freezing for days now (-6C two days ago). I have a feeling that this is going to be wild winter in Scotland this year.
On my way home from seeing the new James Bond film, I discovered that it was snowing. It does not usually snow this time of year in Edinburgh. In fact, it has not snowed very much at all while I have been here. However, this year seems to be different. If it snows enough, I will get some pictures and put them on flickr.
I was thinking that I should put something more substantial on this blog. Sorry that I have been out of place. The corrections on my PhD were taking a good portion of my time.
Anyway, last Saturday a friend of mine gave me a call and said that she needed to go to Stranraer in Aryshire. I had never been out there so I said that I would. She does translation for the government and they had asked her to go out there. In any case, it takes quite some time to get there by car via the motorways. We left at 7am and made our way out of Edinburgh then through Glasgow. We had to make a pitstop so we stopped at Kilmarnok. While I was making my own pitstop, she got a phone call that said that they did not need her services, which left us in Kilmarnok with nothing to do. So we pulled out the Rough Guide to Scotland. When looking up Kilmarnok, it said that it was a "shabby industrial town" with not much to do. I have to say after seeing the town myself, it is a very nice wee town and in no way "shabby" or particularly "industrial".
In any case, we decided that we would drive across Lanarkshire and the Borders back to Edinburgh. We had meant to stop in Lanark but we basically missed it as it is the size of a postage stamp. It was a great drive, however. The hills were beautiful in their fall colors and the road wound its way across the countryside. I would highly recommend taking the A roads across there if you ever have the chance. I had meant to take photos while I was in Ayrshire but I did not get the chance.
It was an enjoyable morning. I hope to get out that way again sometime.
Your thought for the day: "America was invented by Europe".
Do you want to know why I vote? I vote because when I was a kid, my mom would take me with her to vote at the local volunteer fire station. In there I was given a ballot to vote on the mayor of sesame street. When I was done, it was put in the box with my mother's vote, just like everyone else then I was given a cookie. I vote FOR THAT COOKIE. Mmmmmm...cookie.
I do not generally put up IM conversation logs on here but I thought this was funny and fairly universal.
me: I have an ad that says "WIN A GREEN CARD TODAY!!!"
my brother: nice, you should get one just in case you lose your citizenship here.
me: and how would that happen?
my brother: you know, misplace it, lock it in the car, something like that..Lose it down the sink drain, flush it down the toilet, or maybe even drink it by accident..
And that folks is your ex-pat joke of the day.
2008-10-25T12:44:11.431+01:00What I am about to write is based purely on my own opinion. Take it as such as it may or may not be based on actual reality. If you do not agree with me, good for you. I have had a long running argument concerning the effectiveness of academic conferences with two friends of mine. Since my master's degree year, avoided academic conferences and I have, in the end, eschewed almost all academic gatherings of any sort. I have a variety of motives for this (I cannot call them reasons because there is no rationality behind them). In my discussions with my friends, I have almost always stuck to the line that because you cannot cite a conversation at a conference in a printed paper (strictly, you can but you should not be allowed to do so as there is now way to validate the statement) and as printed papers are the gold standard of academic employment, conferences do nothing for you in any sense. Another motive is the fact that they are "networking events" where you attempt to interact with potential employers so you can tilt any potential interview with them in your favor. Well, I have a very bad habit of saying the exact wrong thing at the exact wrong time. Thus, it would not be in my best interest to destroy my chances at employment by opening my mouth before I have had a long time to think about how I will approach the person. Last, but not least, is the fact that they are often used as excuses to run up expense accounts at universities and get a free vacation in some exotic location where you never actually attend the conference anyway because you are on the beach or doing tourist stuff. While those three explanations have served me fairly well in the past. I have deeply thought about why it is that I avoid academic conferences and why I have dedicated such effort to avoiding them. I think I have finally understood it. To wit, I have absolutely no confidence in any thing that I might have to say in regards to my field of study. You would think that after finishing or even starting an advanced degree that I would feel that I have something to contribute to my chosen field. However, in my case, the exact opposite is true. For every year that I have spent in my field, I feel decreasing confidence in my abilities in it. In addition, I have the distinct sense that this decreasing confidence is what impaired my PhD in its written form (a topic to which I will return in a later post). The next logical question ask is why have I lost confidence in my field of study? The answer to this lies in my confidence in my profession, computer programming. The fundamental difference is the absolute fact that if you do something in computer programming, you can prove the fact by showing the code. If I say: "I wrote a program that does something", I can prove the fact by running the program and showing the code. The exact opposite is true in my field. In my field, if I say: "I have proved something", someone will read my paper and then argue with me over it. There is no standard of proof. In the end, you cannot prove anything at all because someone will always have a different opinion. There are a few subsidiary points that reinforce my view. First, I have had a number of poor experiences at academic conferences. This tilts my view. I do not want to go where I am unwelcome and unwanted. On the other hand, my points of contact with the academic side of computer programming at my university have been universally positive and instructive. Second, the first time I attempted to present something about my field at my university, I was attacked straight away. Talk[...]
Wow, the pound is now 1.62 dollars. I have not seen it this low in a long time. Although, it is not as low as the 1.42 dollars that I had seen when I was here in 2001.
Well, the economy in the UK is now set for deflation according to the Daily Telegraph. This could be between two and three percent in the Retail Price Index. Now, there is one good thing about this. At least the price of a pint of Guinness will be below three quid. Although, I have the feeling that beer prices like petrol prices will take their time to fall rather than rushing to rise.
There is one thing I would like to say about the government buying the banks. I will never ever see a dividend check for my "investment". The abstract "taxpayer" will but I personally never will. I want one even if it takes more to cut the check than the amount on it. At least then, I will have something for my "purchase".
According to the Times of London, the Royal Bank of Scotland and, my bank, Halifax Bank of Scotland will be bought by the UK Government come Monday morning. I have this rather affable, friendly teller that I talk to about stuff while I am doing my transactions and I will have to ask him how it feels to be a civil servant now (I first teased him about the Lloyd TSB take-over so this should be a blast).
Otherwise, not much news to report. My paperwork for my PhD was supposed to have been dealt with on the 7th and I am now just waiting to hear about that. I had more corrects this weekend but I am done with those now and I am just waiting for more. I am becoming more and more worried if I will make the deadline for the December graduation. I will keep you all posted.
We NEED FDR.
Here is an American woman commenting on British (read English) drinking habits (read problem). I have to say that I am often called pejorative names because I can't drink all that much nor do I drink to complete insensibility (although, I have on occasion). I do have a question though: is it really a problem? They have been doing this since before my parents lived in the UK (they have more than a few stories to tell. Mostly, about swimming in the North Sea at night). Most Europeans have a very similar attitude towards drinking. As I come from the States, I can sometimes get uncomfortable with it and triply so with the drunk freshmen outside my window at night. However, they seem to function and in any case, Franklin once said, "Beer is proof that God loves us and wants us to be happy."
Iceland's banks are going bust and I have a friend over there just now. She emailed me to say that she is starting to stock up on food in case something more dire happens. The country does not have enough foreign currency to buy food so supermarkets are bare. It is looking particularly bad. I wish her all the best for the future.
Anyway, I have found an interesting gold and silver dealer on the net. They are called Gold Money. What makes them so appealing is that you can buy gold and silver by the gram and they store it in your name in either London or Zürich. Also, they are insured by Lloyd's of London, which means they are very safe. You can actually take possession of your gold or silver if you ask but they only deal in 400 oz gold bars or 1000 oz silver bars (those are London Bullion Merchant standard bars). There is also a slight management fee (1% for silver per year) but this is negligible than having to pay to have them stored yourself. One last thing is that you can buy the gold or silver for nearly spot price which takes away the premium that you can end up paying for smaller bars or coin.
Yeah, I know, I am insane but I am seriously considering diversifying into this. I doubt that I will ever have enough to have the bars delivered but it gives you the satisfaction of knowing that your savings will never be completely worthless.