Archive for March, 2005

Amazon’s blind spot…

Friday, March 4th, 2005

Can you spot the slight copy editing faux pas here courtesy of in its review of the soundtrack to the film ‘Ray’?

I’ll give them the benefit of the doubt and won’t suspect that the choice of words was deliberately tongue in cheek. Review

Soul and r&b legend Ray Charles may not have lived to see the success of Hollywood’s ultimate tribute to him…

The Commonly Confused Words Test

Friday, March 4th, 2005

Thre’s a ‘commonly confused words’ test over at OKCupid that’s quite interesting. According to the stats I got the highest score so far – but I’m still not happy… Some of the questions are a little confusing (beyond what they’re meant to be) and, I suspect, one or two are badly written and may even be wrong. At the start of the test the creator says it is biased neither towards US nor British spelling – but we don’t just spell words differently, we use them differently too.

Or maybe I’m just a sore loser! (Or should that be ‘soar’ loser?!)

Anyway, it’s a pleasant diversion for ten minutes or so, so check it out! (If only for the ego masage of results like mine below…)

English Genius

You scored 100% Beginner, 93% Intermediate, 93% Advanced, and 83% Expert!

You did so extremely well, even I can’t find a word to describe your excellence! You have the uncommon intelligence necessary to understand things that most people don’t. You have an extensive vocabulary, and you’re not afraid to use it properly! Way to go!

Interesting day

Thursday, March 3rd, 2005

A day off today (unpaid as usual) that actually required me to go into uni for two meetings. I’m glad I did though.

The first was with the editor of the media and cultural studies list of a respected publisher to talk about the possibility of turning my ‘Simpsons Family Guide to Cultural Studies’ course into a book. I really enjoyed the meeting and I hope something comes from it. Even if they don’t go with that idea, it’s possible they may want me to suggest something else along the lines of getting practice-based student interested in the theoretical side of their studies.

The second meeting I can’t say too much about for various reasons but it involves me doing a PhD looking at a certain aspect of design education – I got quite excited at the prospect, and it was nice to be invited in to talk about it based on reputation alone. The only problem is, if I did it, I’d have to take a massive pay cut (33%) and face a three-four year restriction on the amount of teaching I could do. Ironic, really. In order to teach more I need a PhD. To do a PhD I need to teach less. And the PhD is in design education… Any surprise I sometimes wonder how academia works??

So all in all a busy day off. Fortunately tomorrow is completely clear (I should be marking essays but they can wait until Saturday). I need to think about this seriously. It’s quite exciting, but daunting as well. Funny, though, how the last few weeks have brought huge contrasts. One minute everything looks bleak, then something raises your hopes. Then that’s dashed and all looks dim again.

What I really need is either to win the lottery or meet a really rich woman. Or both – I’m not fussy.

Britain braced for more snow

Thursday, March 3rd, 2005

I got a phone call from my friend in New Zealand the other day. She was gloating about the fact that she was nice and brown but it was snowing here in the UK. “How do you know it’s snowing here?” I asked. “It was on the news” she said…

I can’t believe ‘country in northern hemisphere experiences winter weather’ actually makes the news in New Zealand – must be a slow news day down there I suppose.

It has been snowing a lot here though – more than I remember for a long time, but far less than I’m used to from my childhood. In Yorkshire in the north of England we used to laugh at how a few centimeters of snow in the south would bring everything to a standstill and be headline news. I remember one February walking to work in a blizzard and falling into a snowdrift. Bloody namby pamby southerners don’t know what hardship is…

A colleague was telling me the other day that his children have grown up never experiencing making a snow man – it really has got noticably milder in Britain in recent years, which I think is why we’re complaining about ‘normal’ weather for the time of year. Funny to think in four weeks it should be warm enough to sit in the beer garden in a t-shirt. I love that first beer garden moment of the year. (As I burn really easily it’s the only part of the summer I can really enjoy without regretting it 20 minutes later!)

The odd thing about this cold snap is that despite all the snow, none of it has settled in Brighton. Yet up the road people are sledging and getting snowed in, trains are being cancelled and schools are being closed. The only place I’ve seen it settling is on the cat, who got very excited at her first snowfall on Sunday. I spent a while wthcing her through the window trying to catch the snowflakes and being rather confused as they disappeared. All the while she was getting whiter and whiter as more landed on her and stayed.

Guardian Unlimited | Special reports | Britain braced for more snow: “It’s not unusual at these times for people in northern Britain to complain that southerners whinge about their bad weather when the north of the country suffers far worse conditions on a regular basis.

There may be some truth in that, said Wayne Elliott, a meteorologist at the Met Office, but he added that in fairness the cold wind off the North Sea made conditions in Kent raw, bitter and extremely unpleasant. Mr Elliott said the cold snap was entirely within the normal range for the UK in March. It seems we have all been softened up by a mild winter that has been on average 2C above normal for the whole country.”

Bird flu – could be worse

Tuesday, March 1st, 2005

Mumps, hypochondria and athlete’s foot. Three major diseases I’ve so far managed to escape (although I though I had hypochondria recently – but it turned out to be nothing.)

Well scrub athlete’s foot from the list because my left foot is happily harbouring something icky. (It may not be AF but it has all the symptoms). A wound I got in the gym last summer (I sliced my foot open on a spa jet) appears to have become infected. It’s quite minor at the moment but it’s a cross between a paper cut, a hot needle, and an itch. Difficult to ignore but torture if you give in and scratch.

This bird flu sounds worrying though – the UK government has just announced its plans with a ‘when, not if’ warning. But it’s not that worrying. Bloke flu, now that’s a killer. In my experience, birds don’t really suffer from flu, they just tell us it’s something and nothing and make some comment about ‘men, you always think you’re dying; if men had to give birth the human race would die out’. Makes me sick. Very, very sick.

In fact I might have to go and lie down.

Bizarre Dream

Tuesday, March 1st, 2005

I have some weird dreams, but last night’s took the biscuit.

I dreamt I couldn’t sleep… I actually dreamt I was lying in bed unable to nod off and worrying that it would soon be time to go to work.

Can you imagine how confused I was when I woke up? And oddly disappointed.