Wednesday, October 20, 2010


I love grammar, because I is a geek like that, innit. Today I discovered the existence of 'antagonyms', also known as 'contranyms' and 'autoantonyms'. An antagonym is a word which, when used in different contexts can mean more or less the opposite thing.

For example: clip

"I clipped some extensions into my hair to make it look more voluminous."
"I went to the hairdressers who clipped an inch off of my overgrown hair."

In the first sentence, clip means 'attach', whilst in the second, it means 'removed'. Another example is dust.

"My mother-in-law was coming for dinner, so I dusted the shelves."
"I murdered my mother-in-law, so the police dusted the shelves for fingerprints."

Again, the two sentences have very different meanings. In the first, dust was removed, in the second, it was added.

So, just a short update for now. Hasta luego, mis amigos...

Monday, October 18, 2010

My life at the moment

So far, I've not written too much about my life in the present. That's mainly my attempt to hide how boringly average my life is. But, so you don't get deceived into believing that I'm some really interesting person who finds cures for diseases, or hunts down terrorists, or something else equally exciting, I shall tell you what my life is like and then you'll stop reading my blog and everything will be back to normal.

So, to start, I'm a student in London. I'm currently doing a masters in Near and Middle Eastern Studies. This involves learning the ridiculously hard language of Arabic (Ahlan wa Sahlan!), learning about the Arab-Israeli Conflict, and looking at transnational news. It's all very interesting, and a lot of hard work, but there's nothing quite like an interesting challenge to get you up in the morning. That doesn't mean that I actually do get up in the morning.

Other than being a hard-working student, I'm also trying to get a part-time volunteering job. Well, I'd also quite like a paid one, but given the recession at the moment, that ain't gonna happen. So, I've applied for a volunteer post with the Red Cross, let's see how that goes (fingers crossed!) and have also just been to a training day about visiting detained asylum seekers at Yarl's Wood concentration camp detention centre.

As well as all that, I have recently started going to Holy Trinity Brompton church in Kensington, which is more or less next to the Victoria and Albert Museum. Which is a very interesting museum might I add.

In a side note, I am aware that in my highly artistic pictures, what I call 'Big Ben' is actually St. Stephen's Tower. But, I couldn't fit that in, and we're not pedants here, are we?

Quick Questions

  1. I'm new to London. Any recommendations of places to go?
  2. What do you think of my drawings? They're great aren't they?
  3. What interesting things are you doing in your life at the moment?

My first dictionary

If you like dark humour, then this is the blog for you. My First Dictionary takes the book we all know and love but twists it in a horribly sick fashion. And if you're horribly sick, like me, you'll find it hilarious. Here's an example of one of the words.

Movie deaths

In operas, characters sing before they die.

Count the bodies.

In films, even the most inarticulate characters...

...suddenly have a life-shattering epiphany moments before their time is up. Whilst suffering from gunshot wounds, hypothermia, poisoning, etc., they make elegant speeches where they're able to tell their families how much they love them.

Can you guess the film?

I know that's not how I'm going to die. I don't want to die like that. I want to die in a blaze of inchorence, where my impending doom is highlighted by my inability to form a single sentence. I want my last line to be something like, 'I need to defrost the television,' or something like that.

Another thing I don't get are murder mysteries. It's ok when the detective comes across dead people as a part of his or her job (CSI for example, or at a push Diagnosis Murder), or when their skills are called upon to help solve a crime (Bones), but I can't help getting suspicious of detectives, who, for no apparent reason, arrive at murder scenes on a weekly basis. I've not seen a single dead person in my entire life, let alone a murder victim (touch wood). Why are we expected to believe that some old lady, by random chance, regularly finds herself intruding on a murder scene? Either they're really unlucky, or there's something suspicious going on. Either way, I wouldn't want to end up near one of those people, because the likelihood is you're going to end up on Crimewatch before the end of the evening.

And while we're on the theme of death, here's a gruesome death related fact for you. When brain-dead people are removed from life support systems, their arms sometimes lift up and then fall over their chests. This is known as the Lazarus sign. I've got loads of these sorts of facts. They're great conversation starters at parties. 'Hi, did you know that up to half of hypothermia victims undress before they die?'

Quick Questions
  1. Did you guess the film? You're right, it was Deep Impact.
  2. What would you like your last words to be?
  3. Who's your favourite fictional detective? Sherlock Holmes? Jessica Fletcher?* Peter Boyd?

*You've gotta love Angela Lansbury. I honestly cried at that film every time I watched it as a child.

I know a song that'll get on your nerves

We've all had it. We've listened to a catchy song, but once the song has stopped playing, it keeps on going in our heads. We have a song stuck in our heads. Luckily, unlike having physical objects stuck in our heads, this phenomenon is harmless, but is more likely to irritate women than men.

What I want to know, which is the worst song for getting stuck in your head? My brother introduced me to the amazing 'Banana Phone' song.

Of course there are other songs which seem to make their way into your brain. One of my favourites is Total Eclipse of the Heart by the gravelly-voiced Bonnie Tyler.*

In German, they call this phenomenon Ohrwurm or earworm. But unlike real parasitic worms, this is just a metaphor.

So, quick questions:
  1. What makes a song get stuck in your head?
  2. What's the most annoying song you know?
  3. When was the last time you had a song stuck in your head, and how long did it last for?

*Bonnie Tyler's famous raspy voice comes from an operation she had to remove nodules on her vocal chords. She was ordered not to speak for several weeks after the operation, but did so, giving her voice its unique quality.

Chilean miners rescue

Isn't it wonderful that the Chilean miners, who have been trapped underground in dark, humid, hot conditions are finally being rescued? The bravery and good-naturedness of the miners has captured worldwide attention, and they have received gifts from around the world, including signed Barcelona shirts, money, and a holiday in Greece.

I know that if I was trapped underground for more than five minutes, I'd have a psychological breakdown.

Me after a night out.

But (yes, there's always a but), not to be cynical... have you ever noticed when someone says, 'I'm not being...' they are...

Back on track, I don't really get the nationalistic celebration which seems to have erupted around the whole rescue. People watching the rescue have been shouting 'Chile!' and the miners have been saying 'Gracias Chile!' As I've said, I have huge admiration for the miner's bravery and mental and physical strength, and yes, the country (and the world) should celebrate that they've been rescued, but I don't get the outpouring of pro-Chile feeling. After all, it was the lax health and safety in the mines which led to the tunnel's collapse in the first place. But maybe it's just me.

On a different note, have any of you been to Dans le noir? It's a restaurant where you get to eat in pitch darkness to experience the sensation of being blind (can you see my thought processes here?). I went to the original one in Paris more than a year ago now. It was a great experience, and I really had fun. But have you ever noticed that when a group of friends somehow end up somewhere dark, a lot of prodding and grabbing is involved? Because for some reason, when it's pitch black, it's suddenly molestation fun to grab people.

In another sidetrack, I'm amazed that in the film Buried, which I haven't watched, Ryan Reynold's character gets mobile phone reception. If only the same was true on the London Underground.

Last aside, I promise. If you ever get buried in an avalanche and survive, you should still have enough air to breathe. Don't start digging randomly, because you don't know which way is up. What you should do is dig a little hole around your mouth and spit into it, to find which way down is. Then dig in the opposite direction.

Quick Questions*

  1. So, what would your worst claustrophobic, horror movie nightmare be?
  2. What was your weirdest or most interesting dining experience?
  3. Should I watch Buried?

*I stole this idea from my brother's blog a yonder.

A bad flyer

Warning: If you do not like flying or vomiting, or have a fear of death and injury, then click here. You have been warned.

I am a bad flyer. And I don't mean this...

I mean that when I fly, I have an urge to talk about all the possible things that could go wrong on a plane. For example, some friends and I were flying to Spain. As our plane was taxi-ing on the runway, my friend turned to me and asked me whether we would be in greater mortal peril if we crashed onto the land or the sea.

'Well,' I replied, 'it depends on the angle the plane hits the water.' You see, if the plane hits the water at too shallow of an angle...

Then the plane skims like a stone, bouncing repeatedly. But if the plane hits the water at too steep of an angle, the wings are ripped off and water rushes into the plane at hundreds of miles an hour.

This was seconds before our plane was about to take off, cross the Bay of Biscay and then land at Alicante airport. I'm quite sure the other passengers weren't too happy.

(Un)fortunately, I am not alone in this affliction. I was once flying home from Leipzig in Germany. After a busy week visiting friends, and getting very little sleep, as soon as the plane went above the clouds, I started to drift off.

The lady next to me had different ideas however. Once I had entered that half-asleep half-awake stage, she decided to lean over me and ask the passing air steward, 'What is wrong with the plane?'

I bolted awake, imagining a fiery scream-filled death, hurtling towards earth like a ball-point pen dropped off the Empire State Building.

The air steward however, seemed nonplussed, and asked the lady passenger next to me what she meant.

'Aren't we flying too high?' she replied.

I certainly know that I'd rather be flying too high than too low. She then spent the rest of the flight in the foetal position.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Year away


I've been absent for a whole year. I'd love to say that I had a good reason for not updating but I don't. So here I am again. I'm sorry.

So, I'm back in the blogosphere, but in order to hide the shame of not updating people for a year, I've started a new blog. So, with a warm welcome, may I introduce the wonderful, the amusing, the yet-to-be-filled-with-rambling-nonsense, Searching for Sapience. Here are some reviews:

'The best blog since La Vie en Rose, but that doesn't really say much.'

'Setting a new low in blogging.'

'Searching for what? Never heard of it.'

If I've managed to enthrall you, do head on over, say 'hi!' (I'd love to hear from you, even if it's just to say 'hi').

EDIT: I was reading through some of the old posts in this blog, and I decided I like it too much. So I've just transferred all my posts from my ex-new blog, to here. Maybe I'll keep them both updated, but we'll see!

EDIT again: I've changed the name of this blog to Searching for Sapience. So now, the new blog is the old blog, and the old blog is the new blog. Simples!