Tuesday, December 23, 2008


I haven't posted for a while. I don't really have too much to talk about since I haven't really done much since coming home, which has been very enjoyable. I helped put up Christmas decorations at my grandparents, which felt like willingly contributing to their accidental death as I helped them trail dodgy electric wires across their house, but my grandparents would have had none of my complaining (you should have seen the amount of parrafin my grandfather put on the bonfire on Guy Fawkes' Night...). Well, to be honest, their electrics are no worse than that of the average French house.

On an aside, today I have found myself awed by the simplicity and beauty of guilloche patterns. You've all seen them - they're the intricate patterns found on banknotes, and you've all probably made them (remember playing with spirographs?). It's also probably the mathematician in me who enjoys the intricate patterns made. You can play with making your own ones here.
An example of a pwitty guilloche pattern.

Hope you're all well, and I hope you have a lovely Christmas!

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

The power of fear

Today, sticks of dynamite were found in toilets in Printemps Haussmann, after a letter was sent to French news agency AFP. Although the sticks of dynamite would never have gone off, the terrorist organisation threatened to follow with real attacks unless France withdraws its troops from Afghanistan. Of course, living in Paris, this got me slightly nervous. But, in reality, there isn't anything to worry about. I'm far more likely to be run over, or to kill myself, or die in some other manner than to be blown up by some terrorists. Compared to the zero people who were killed last year in terrorist attacks in Europe (as far as I'm aware anyway), fourty thousand people died in car accidents in the UK alone. So, instead of looking nervously at other passengers on the m├ętro, I'm just going to make sure my seatbelt is done up.

Sorry for that slightly heavy entry.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Hic sunt dracones

I'm procrastinating terribly at the moment. I have quite literally done nothing over the last few days. I have a few defences: firstly, I've been ill, and still am to some extent; secondly, I left the book I need chez a friend, and this friend is also ill, so she can't return it to me and it would be a bit wrong for me to go and collect it. But, it's really frustrating. I just want to get on with my essay and finish it (starting it would also be nice)! Also, I need to go to the post office, I need to tidy my apartment, I need to pack... just writing this list is getting my pulse racing! Maybe I should have a lie down to counteract it.

I know I shouldn't be too worried; I'm ahead on my work schedule I set myself, and I've never missed a deadline, and I still have the rest of today and three days to tidy my apartment, go to the post office and to pack.

Of course, the first thing I do when I'm procastinating, is to look up procrastination on Wikipedia.

Sorry about that little rant. I only did it so I was ahead of Thomas's blog count by two entries!

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Play it, Sam...

This probably won't be a long entry (cue sigh of relief) as I'm going to bed soon. Thomas is shamelessly attempting to post more entries on his blog than I am, so I plan on recruiting a giant barrel* of typewriting monkeys to write blog entries for me.

As I'm sure you're aware, unless you are Ethiopian and celebrate Christmas in January**, that Christmas day is less than a fortnight a way. This meant that this morning, at sunday school, it was a Christmas-themed party. It went really well; all the children were well behaved and had fun. The children had hot chocolate, a sweet and these little balls of pastry with sugar on (I can't remember what they're called - we don't have them in England), and played 'Put the baby Jesus in the manger' (AKA pin the tail on the donkey). It also meant that I went to the carol service this evening. There's nothing better than a good ol' traditional carol service. I think one of the reasons I enjoyed it, ignoring the traditionalist in me and my penchant for counterpoint, is that is was a service, despite all of the peripheral baggage associated with Christmas, focussed entirely on God. Indeed, it was more focussed on God than most services. There were ample bible readings, and the songs sang weren't all about "I'm going to do this" or "I feel this" or "I believe this", as I find most current songs to be about, but about God.

Another thing that Christmas has inevitably led to is shopping. Which I did at two o'clock this morning as I couldn't sleep. This cold of mine has destroyed my sleep pattern, as well as (only temporarily I hope) rendered me partially deaf, so, added to ample supplies of coca cola last night chez Leanne - Sally and I went round for dinner - I was wide awake for much of the night. But one of the books I looked at, but didn't buy since I couldn't think of anyone who wanted it but myself (hint, hint), was about how illogical our choices are.*** One of the examples it gave is what to do at the cinema if the film you're watching is really bad. Do you stay to the end, or do you walk out? The logical answer is to cut your losses and walk out, wasting just your money, instead of staying and therefore wasting your money and your time. This got me to thinking as to whether I have or would ever leave a cinema. There are two occasions where I was seriously tempted to leave the cinema. The reason I didn't wasn't because of an irrational idea that the film might suddenly improve in the last five minutes and make the hour and a half of abject misery worthwhile, but because I went with people who, for reasons unkown to mankind, enjoyed the films. So I stayed so not to cause any conflict (talk about being a martyr!). I can safely say that I would, if the film was sufficiently bad, walk out of a cinema. The worst film I've ever watched was actually You, Me and Dupree, a veritable smorgasbord of humourless scenarios, although several French 'classics' come close. L'Atalante anybody? It was also in the same week that I watched probably my favourite film, The Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind. So if you haven't watched it before, here's the trailer.

I also watched Casablanca recently (hence this entry's title), which was surprisingly enjoyable, despite its plot resting on the ridiculous premise that an escaped prisoner of war could meander freely around Nazi-occupied French Morocco. I bet the Moroccans didn't have any say about being occupied by France, or Germany.

Well, that's all folks!

* A group of monkeys can be called a troop, barrel, carload, cartload or tribe. Blame Juliana Berners for the bizarre collective names for animals.

** The answer to the question posed by the Band Aid song, 'Do They Know It's Christmas?', raising money for the 1984-1985 Ethopian Famine, is therefore 'no'.

*** It would, for example, be logical, for me to know the name of the book which I subtly suggest I might like for Christmas.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

I'm poorly

Yes, I'm not feeling that well today. Actually, I have the least severe cold you could ask for, and yet I still feel terrible. I hate being ill. In fact, what I hate more is being moderately ill. Because, although I feel all congested and have a headache, I look fine, I sound fine, and for all intents and purposes, I am fine. Except that every time I have the slightest cold, I descend into a morose self-pitying apathy. In an odd way, if I was actually more ill, I feel less sorry for myself. When I had the flu and coughed to being nearly unconscious (Thomas, I am still grateful for you rescuing me from having collapsed into the toilet), when I passed out in psychology (Thomas, I am still not so grateful for you telling me to shut up) or when I was in Australia vomitting every ten minutes, I felt much less sorry for myself than I do now. I think it might be because, when I'm properly ill, I don't have any guilt for feeling unwell, I'm not expected to do anything - when I have a cold, I still have to battle on despite feeling miserable, and also, it might be because I do appreciate a bit of drama. Coughing to passing out, is, in a macabre way, quite fun.

Or maybe, it's just because I'm a guy and I have man flu.

Monday, December 08, 2008

Busy, busy, busy

I've been such a busy bee recently, I haven't updated my blog in ages. Well, actually, I seem to manage to alternate between being incredibly busy and having no spare time to spending a whole day procrastinating playing bubbleshooter. It's an addiction. And I'm not the only one to have it. In fact, I think it's contagious, so for your own health, and for the health of those around you, DO NOT CLICK ON THE LINK!

So, I was planning to have a quiet, early night tonight, which would have been the first in a week, but I didn't. So I decided that it wouldn't make too much difference if I blogged until the early hours of the morning. I'm not quite sure how the logic worked in that, but I didn't say it needed to be coherent. But if I'm going to say I had a really busy week, I suppose I should really describe it.

Tuesday, I went to church. Nothing abnormal there. Wednesday, after lectures, Lucy came round mine for dinner on a spur-of-the-moment thing, which was nice. Thursday was a very busy day: I had four hours of lectures, I taught for two hours, I watched the last ten minutes of the university pantomime (unfortunately I couldn't see it all because it clashed with my teaching) and then went round to Nicky and Lucy's with a large entourage of people for pizza and wine. It was a rather crazy evening involving politically incorrect comments, charades which rapidly descended into sexually lurid banter, and a cold walk back to the metro. Fun was had by all.

Friday, I was secretly hoping to have an earlyish night, but other friends wanted to go out for drinks near where I live, and so I would have been coerced into joining them. That is, if it wasn't for the fact that both of our plans were scuppered somewhat, since Natasha had painful stomach cramps, which made her worried (read nearly-hysterical), and we, that being Lucy, Nicky and I, took her to Urgences (A&E) in a hospital in the north of Paris. And in my rush to join Lucy and Nicky chez Natasha, I broke a wine glass. A&E a la Paris was an interesting experience, involving screaming men tied up with leather straps being dragged through the waiting room by several policemen. We were there for four hours, playing noughts and crosses, hangman, guggenheim and squares, until we found out that there was no serious cause for Natasha's ailment, and we all went home. So at one o'clock in the morning, I was clearing up broken glass from my floor.

On Saturday I did some adminny things, and then in the evening I went to a friend's for dinner and played pictionnary and charades. It was a very good evening. On Sunday I had a completely fruitless day, then went to church, where for no reason whatsoever I found myself so tired I was almost falling asleep, and then met up with Susannah and Nicky where we had mulled wine in an interesting bar by the Pompidou Centre.

Today, I went to uni, where I watched Casablanca and Le Jour se leve. Afterwards, I went to Starbucks with Lucy and then had dinner chez elle (fish nuggets and potatoes), then watched Fun with Dick and Jane, which was an entertaining film. Three films in one day, that might be a record for me.

Even though my life seemed to be very busy, I managed to do both my translations, of which one was evil, hand them in early, do my stylistics essay and finish my cinema one. That means that over Christmas, I have just one essay to write! Yay! And I've managed to keep my tiny apartment from slipping into a state where it would be uninhabitable, although, apparently, creative chaos is good. I've also managed to play a lot of bubbleshooter.

And just as a little aside, did you click on the link saying "DO NOT CLICK THE LINK"? If so, shame on you.

Anyway, I'm off. Bubbleshooter calls.