Friday, 29 December 2006

This has been doing the rounds, and since Christmas has been pretty well covered, you can have my review of the year.

1. Overall, have you had a good year?
Kind of. It's been tough a) finishing my PhD, and b) supporting a full time teacher. I've been doing a lot of things trying to stay sane, hockey and more recently badminton. Joined a new choir which doesn't have massive summer holiday gaps. Looking back, it's been a good year - but it didn't seem great at the time.

2. What has been your biggest achievement?
Handing my thesis in. I've just about calmed down now.

3. Did you take any exams, Pass?
No, but I'm waiting for one.

4. Have you had your birthday yet? What did you do?
Yes. Don't think it was on the day, but Emma got tickets to see Illyria performing Wind in the Willows at Lyme Park. It was great.

5. Have you been on Holiday? Gone away anywhere?
Went to St David's for a camping holiday in the summer with Emma. We borrowed Mahinda's tent (thanks again!) and stayed in a lovely little campsite near the coast. Learned to surf (badly) and got sunburned (also badly).

Oh, and we went to Brecon at Easter. Emma was down with laryngitis at the time so we didn't get much walking done. We made one of our bizarrely frequent trips to Swansea to see Sonia and James on the way back.

6. Have you had a job?
Didn't do any demonstrating (university teaching - supporting lecturers) but I now have a very easy temping job which is paying the bills while I look for, and think of, a career.

7. Have you bought anything expensive?
Not that I can think of.

8. Made any big decisions?
Buying a house. Does that count?

9. Lost a friend or loved one?
No.

10. Met anyone amazing?
No. Been in the office most of the year.

11. Made new friends?
We got a hamster. She sleeps a lot and isn't very talkative.

12. Moved house?
Working on it.

13. Tried something new?
I've applied for a couple of graduate jobs.

14. Made any enemies?
Not that I've noticed.

15. What music will you remember from this year?
Went to see SMAOS perform My Fair Lady. One of the songs from that was lovely. I don't usually like musical music, but it really grabbed me for some reason.

16. What movies have you seen at the cinema this year?
The only film that really stands out is Children of Men. Very good. Ice Age 2 deserves a brief mention.

17. What was your best night out?
Off the top of my head, sitting in Pleasure while the Matrix projected onto a wall. No sound, but the music playing in the bar fitted in with the fight scene (Neo & Morpheus). I've not laughed quite that much in a while.

18. What was your worst night out?
I don’t remember any particularly bad ones.

19. Best Day?
Each day since I handed my PhD in has been very relaxing.

20. Worst Day?
Probably when the house fell through. Some of the Christmas holiday was very dull.

21. Was summer a gooden’?
Unfortunately I was working through most of it. Had the week's holiday with Emma, which was very nice. The rest was spent working during the day and looking at houses on the way home.

22. How many people have you kissed in the year of 2006?
One.

23. Did you fall in love?
No.

24. Did you have your heart broken?
No.

25. Made any plans for next year?
Viva, buy house, move house, buy furniture, housewarming party, Emma's nan's 80th birthday, see Rosy in the Mikado, see Emma's friend in a panto. Otherwise, no.

26. Changed your image?
I've actually bought some clothes. Emma's taking me clothes shopping as a Christmas present (I'm a bit broke), so I'll probably be a little less scruffy.

27. Missed anyone?
No, but my aim's improving.

28. Know what you want in the future?
A pass with minor corrections.

29. Regret anything?
Not really. I'm disappointed that I didn't realise how down I was getting with the PhD - I should have taken a month off in January and had a chat with my supervisor.

30. Who has been your best friend through 2006?
Everyone who's kept me sane. Anyone I've been for a beer with (esp. the choir lot), the hockey crowd, Mahinda's badminton sessions. Special mention to Pete for getting me a PhD survival pack (calculator, Zombie Survival Handbook, Grumpy Old Men book), and to Dad for lots of sage advice letting me moan a lot.

I'd have to pick Emma though. Probably not for the reasons above, but for being Emma.

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I don't want to go back to school. My school goes back on the second. That is most unfair. I have been really enjoying this holiday as Adrian has finally finished his phd and we have been able to spend some time together. Unfortunately I have spent most of today trying to work out what the hell I should be teaching my students over the next half term. They are all starting new topics and it has took a while to get my head around them as I have not taught some of the themes before. That and I have been having a good sort out. Filled the paper recycling box full of paper from my folder. Hope no one asks me for something I have flung - that has happened before. Problem is I do accumulate a load of junk along with the important stuff and lose the important stuff (sometimes on purpose). Being female and acting dipsy and saying "oooh I think I may have lost that, have you got another copy" seems to work really well I find, if it was important and someone is chasing me for it that is.

Anyway better get back to it. Not got long until need to get ready for going out. Got a busy weekend planned. Round Vicky and Bens tonight for some board game fun and food, Mel and Colin are over visiting us tomorrow, and then it is new years. Might be ready for school by Tuesday but then again, I don't really care at this point in time. I only have five lessons on Tuesday!
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I've had a quiet Christmas for the most part, with Mark only staying over the present swap weekend before going to Italy to spend Christmas with Monica's family, and Adrian and Emma going home a few days later, the house seemed a bit empty, especially as Nan was feeling unwell and Mum was working. Still some family is better than none

It can now be officially announced that Dad has accepted a new job at St Mary's Church, Bushbury (near Wolverhampton) starting after Easter. Because of the rules of the Church of England, Dad couldn't let anyone know that he was looking for a new job, and it's been very stressful for him not to be as open with his congregation as he feels he should have been. He has been at St Martin's, Camberley for about ten years now, and was justifiably reluctant to leave the people he has ministered to. For obvious reasons Dad was a little busy and a bit tired over the Christmas period.

One major consequence of the forthcoming move is that we've started to sort through our stuff at Camberley with a view to relocate or discard everything depending on if we really want to keep it. Moving house is about the only time when you truly realise how much junk you've accumulated.

Yesterday I drove Nicholas back to Swansea, on route to Exeter, using the car to transport my Ikea storage unit to my flat in Exeter, annoyingly it's just a few millimetres to tall for my ceiling, thankfully the local DIY shop had a suitable hacksaw on sale, but Dad has kindly offered potentially useful tools, so I'll wait for now. Bought a small step ladder as well, I don't feel safe standing on chairs to reach the highest shelves or change lightbulbs.
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Thursday, 28 December 2006

Well now, here's a task - about a week's worth of blog.

N.B. Parents please note that while this blog is sort of chronological, more or less, you'll want to read the paragraph starting "I've been avoiding mentioning this" first. Thank you.

Well now, here's a task - about a week's worth of blog. Little indication of when the things listed below occurred will be given. And I daresay it'll need more time weeding for typos than I have to spare. This is what happens when you go to an Italian village with only dial-up facilities.

We went to a pub (pronounced "pab" in these parts) irlandese which wasn't half bad actually. We went with Vane e Lorenzo e Alessandro. Monica and I have translated Alessandro's web-site for his medieval drumming group, but I don't think it's made it to the web yet. Some of it is very silly anyway - stuff about the lords of darkness being driven out by the life-giving power of the drum. Weird. The pub was pretty traditional looking, but the random wall-filling crap was rather too organised, and the classy old "Guinness is good for you"-era posters were somewhat on the forceful-side. Too much space in front of the bar, as if dancing might spontaneously break out, but it was admirably cosy in some places. If you go to an Italian pub you can expect to be served as if it were a café, which is odd, but hardly a shock to the system if you've been listening to people speaking a funny made-up language for several days. I was hoping they might pipe in some chirpy stereotypical fiddle-music, but unfortunately it was by-the-numbers bass-heavy nothingness. I had a draught Newcastle Brown, with which I was impressed, never having had it from a tap before and a Birra di Natale (Christmas Beer), quite unaccountably German with an Italian name. I wasn't sure about it to begin with, but by the end of my pint, we were reconciled, each to the other.

We paid a flying visit to Marieangela (which I've almost certainly misspelt), who is a cousin's daughter, whatever one of those is called, as she was off to Spain for Christmas, I think with her school, and had yet to have the pleasure of meeting me. She's apparently a peculiar girl, which I can believe. She got her boyfriend some pants for Christmas and was trying to decide what to write on them. Also sausages. And she scalded one of her legs trying to wax it. She had a question about the definite article for me, as she is learning English, but it was "When do you use the definite article?" which is a question of a scope more than I can handle. I like grammar, but that's quite a thinker, and is bound to be shot-through with a dictionary's worth of exceptions for every rule-of-thumb. They had a little dog that drank deeply of the choice Dobson aroma, as Wodehouse might have put it.

Christmas Eve is a rummy old affair round these parts. It's a fast day, which only means that what you eat a lot of, instead of being a lot of whatever you fancy, is fish, and very well-cooked fish too. We had our feast fast over the way with aunties, uncles, nieces, cousins, parents and in-laws. Midnight Mass is very popular - apparently it's like our Christmas day, in that it's when people who don't usually come to church put in an appearance, only I am reliably informed that they make a point of showing off their new clothes as well, which I can't say I noticed. And it started at midnight too, not like in England, where I gather we tend to time communion for midnight and don't worry too much if it's early. I'm looking forward to mass in English, though I do make out more and more these days, especially if it's scripture. We had a quick look at the Offagnese nativity scene (presepio) before going to bed really quite tired. It was good. We've seen a fair number of these nativity scenes. Some of them comprise several rooms, and a lot of effort clearly goes in to them, lighting effects, modelling and distributing sand reminiscent of Bethlehem. I told Nicholas this over the phone, but think it worth mentioning here - the first nativity scene, in memory of the real one, was brought about by St. Francis of Assisi, who wanted people too see what his birth was like, so he got some animals and people together, dressed 'em up and stuck them in a cave in the Italian hill-side for people to come an visit. Cool eh? And they still have living nativity scenes in Italy every year - I may see one this time round.

Christmas day we opened presents of course. I got lots of good things, some of which I have been able to thank people for over the phone and some not. I gather it's easier to phone some parts of England somehow. From Monica I got some gloves (handy (snigger) as I'd just lost one of a pair), a bedside light which is at home and a pocket bible. From Mum and Dad, I got this really cool barometer in what I, as an amateur, deem the classic style. I got music of various stripes from Ade and Emma, Neil, Vane e Lorenzo. I hope I got which is which right. Monica's Mum and Dad got me an undershirt - they worry about the sartorial habits of Englishmen I think. I rem-a-a-a-a-a-a-a-a-a-in an Eng-lish-man. Alessandra, one of Monica's cousins who was for an extended period referred to as "my cousin with a swimming pool", got everyone a tea-light holder from Ikea as well - I'm not sure if I have ever had anything from Ikea before. For Monica I got this porcelino:

He's called Wilhelm. I made a not-particularly-Christmassy compilation as well; however, some of the tracks were of me doing some songs with my 8-track which seemed to be quite well-received. And I also got some poetry, which is less romantic than it sounds.

Naturally, we ate a lot on Christmas Day too, various meats and things, with Monica's immediate family and Lorenzo's who I'd never met before. He's got two brothers, both of whom are smaller than him and smoke - goes to show. One is really quiet, especially when you consider that he's Italian, and the other one is full of joie-de-vivre. The latter accidentally got a bit of tomato sauce on my jeans, but only in eagerness to be hospitable, so all's well. I don't know if I've mentioned this before, but a proper Italian meal comes out a bit at a time. A roast dinner, for example, would I suppose be broken down into it's constituent parts and served separately. Say, vegetables first, then when everybody's had enough, the beef comes out. The etiquette of it all mystifies me (I think because there isn't any), but there're plenty of friendly Italians ready to give a shoe-gazing Englishman a break in this area. I drank too broadly (a red which I didn't know was so strong, and spumante, which is white) and was rewarded with a headache lasting into the next day.

Can you guess what we did on Boxing Day? We looked out, on the feast of Stephen, because out is the direction in which you have to head if you want to get to mass. This is apparently as traditional as going to mass for Christmas, but I was not in on the jape, so was a little surprised to find that we were going in five minutes. Never mind. If your first guess of what we did on Boxing Day was that we ate, you would also be correct. We went to eat with the same crew as on Christmas Eve, and stuffed ourselves to the gills as previously. Uncles are the same everywhere - Fabrizio (if I have the spelling right) ate copiously, drank with enthusiasm, and spent a lot of the time dozing on the sofa, as did Alessandro. Another tradition apparently is that you play bingo on Boxing Day. I didn't feel up to going it alone, so I "helped" Monica by flipping our numbers as called, which was a bit of a flipping challenge at times, but I done good. It was rather like being back at school for the last language lesson before Christmas.

In Italy, you don't avoid arguments, or perhaps I should say that what seems like an argument to um... me/the English/you and me is really more of a discussion. Anyway, instead of not talking about religion and politics, they're always talking about religion and politics. And local politics comes under close scrutiny as well. Did you know that the word paese means both country and village, which is some indication of how personally they take local politics. I've gotten used to these discussions more now, but Monica is, I think, rather wary of my acquiring a nervous disorder because of it. Everyone swears a lot round here as well. Norris is, I think, a natural Italian; the place seems to think the same way he does regarding the propriety of it's use. There's also a lot of blasphemy about. I guess it's bound to happen, culturally speaking, when Jesus and the saints are so ubiquitous, but I certainly don't approve. I got told off the other day, for saying thank you too much - another cultural thing. It's got a lot to do with an attitude to the family, an attitude that takes it rather for granted. Now this may sound like a bad thing, but I think few will say that the concept of family is more central in England so it seems that it works. So for friends and family you save your thanks up, and you don't speak as if relationships are held together by mutually supportive transactions. If it happens, it happens, but it's unseemly to draw attention to it. It reminds me of a theory I've heard about why we thank bus drivers - we don't want to imply that it's a business transaction where you pay for a ride, rather, we prefer to picture a bus driver as a nice man who gives lifts, and incidentally gets paid somehow. Money is so crass. Perhaps there's a little of the same thing in perfect strangers calling you "mate", "love", "chuck", this sort of thing. That weirds Monica out.

TV. Now TV is sort of interesting too. You might think that having, for a prolonged period, as prime minister, a media mogul like Berlusconi, conditions would be favourable for good television. You'd be dead wrong - it's largely utter balls. Next time you're tempted to complain about British TV, say to yourself, at last I don't live in Italy - really. I don't mind that a lot of it is dubbed, it's bound to be, but it's pretty relentlessly dire. It's like they stretch out daytime TV for longer. Something worth watching might possibly come on at 9, but it's not an overwhelming probability. Walker, Texas Ranger seems to be on all the time for example. Take a look at this:

This is from a popular satirical programme. Now if you're English, you will charitably assume that these ladies are integral to the process of visceral political criticism. But they're just not - they are purely eye-candy. At the moment, as it's Christmas, they sport angels' wings and white furry boots, but they just sit on the side of the stage smiling agreeably. The mascot of the same programme is a tapir, which is to say a guy in a tapir suit lolloping about the set. At the moment it's a golden tapir, but maybe that's because it's Christmas as well. This guy occasionally gets kicked in the arse by the presenters. There're a lot of bimbos on Italian TV - sometimes you'll be watching what seems to be the news, and the "and finally" story will be an insightful glance into the career of some model or other with helpful soft-focus shots of them in swimwear. It's surreal, and I can't understand how for the life of me it continues to the present day, as there're plenty of professional women about who apparently don't deign to be offended. Among the more classy offerings are Takeshi's Castle and WWE the principal joys of which are the pained looks you get from Monica while they're on the TV. Interestingly, they showed Jack Frost over Christmas, which you may know as A Touch of Frost with that guy from that show about cockneys and horses.

I've been avoiding mentioning this, and being (in a strict sense) a bit economical with the truth over the phone, in the interests of not alarming anyone, but I've been a little on the diseased side. I noticed this lump on the front of my throat, which did perturb me, but after mentioning it to Monica, calmed myself with WebMD, whose professional opinion it was that it was nothing to worry about unless it hadn't gone away after two weeks. It also came to my attention that two sore bits by the side of my mouth didn't seem to be healing at all quickly and were also starting to look decidedly mank. It being Christmas, I couldn't get to the doctors' until Wednesday, when I got it checked. In the absence of the correct specialist, we asked Allesandra, who is a vet, and she proposed that it was herpes (it wasn't, as it turns out). I thought that perhaps it might be impetigo, as Ben had that a few months earlier in our house (it wasn't really that either). Monica had some blood test results to show to her dottoressa as well as an overly long-standing problem with one of her eyes, so we went together and I felt all important because I had a personal translator. Doctors' waiting rooms are essentially the same everywhere. This one was a slightly nicer colour than most English ones, but it needed a bit of touching up. One thing that is different is that they don't do appointments, you just turn up and you ask who the last person to arrive for your doctor is. Monica's dottoressa tends, by all accounts, to an explanatory style of doctoring, which I feel is a good thing, but it did mean we had rather a wait. There was a small girl running round and round and round. And round. And round. Here's what it was - I had a bacterial-infection, probably stress-induced, though I'm being very well looked-after, and to do with a deficiency of vitamins A and E, which after some time had become "impetigised", hence the unattractive bits by my mouth. This had irritated my lymph nodes, who decided to give me what-for by producing a lump. Nothing to worry about, but now I've a cream to apply, anti-biotics and vitamin supplements to take up until about when I get back. Italy is rather casual, I got my drugs under Monica's name. Also, interestingly, I learn that here dottore prescribe brand-name drugs (and the pharmacists usually propose a cheaper alternative with the same active component), but there's a motion in the chamber of deputies to make them prescribe the stuff itself rather than the brand. I noted with amusement that I've been to Offgana's pharmacist with Monica about twice as many times as I've been to Italy.

I've had a stab at reading Cuore (Heart), which is apparently an Italian childrens' classic, with constant reference to a dictionary. I finished the first page.

We went for a nice walk the other day, Monica's family. Really pretty, and Monica kept telling me to look (guarda!), and to breathe (respira!), and was cordially made fun of. And we settled down to watch The Bourne Identity in Vane's house, with Lady Grey tea, which I've never had before, and is alright for a holiday. Matt Damon stabs and shoots and knocks out a lot of people, but apparently his heart's in the right place because he won't orphan children if they're right in front of him. Pfft, I say. At some point we had a walk in Osimo, and I got to experience the social event that is walking up and down an Italian street, just chatting. Except we didn't stay out too long.

We're going to visit Marghe today, at the convent. They were incommunicado for advent, and we go to deliver presents of a sheep hot-water bottle, and an Italian copy of Mere Christianity that we picked up in Ancona. Lewis (predictably?) isn't such a big name in these parts, being primarily known for a mediocre Christmas film of recent years which compares very unfavourably to Harry Potter, The Lord of the Rings and, for all I know, the execrable-looking Eragon, with Joss frigging, "do my ears deceive me, or is this clearly musical filth?" Stone. You can get all of the Narnia books in one volume these days, but it's 20 euros, so I'm not sure he'll win many friends. And Monica's just walked in with some booze for the nuns, spumante, which Marghe's Dad's just dropped off.
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Wednesday, 20 December 2006

These are pictures of the Zagaglia Christmas crib. They're good, you see, in Italy because instead of just buying one, you buy bits, and every year you collect moss and sand and you get your hands dirty making it, of which I approve.

We had a bit of trouble because we couldn't find Giuseppe (whose beard I apparently share) although I counted no less than three identical bambini Gesù. Odd, to my mind. Also we had to buy some new sky, because the old stuff was broken.

I'm fine by the way. I'll try to remember what we've done:

Lunedi I arrived after a pretty uneventful journey, though I did worry myself about having wrapped presents in my hand luggage, which I wish I'd thought of before I packed my bags. I had a pint at the airport - s'good. And then we had a meal together, Monica's parents, Carlo e Gabriella, Vane e Lorenzo, and Monica e me. This is more than typical. Sometimes Lorenzo doesn't eat with us at dinnertime, but that's about it.

Martedi we just pottered about a bit, gathering moss, writing Christmas cards and such-like. We went to mass as well, and evening prayer, during which I felt a bit ill, so I've been taking it easy on my stomach since.

Oggi, Mercoledi, we did the crib and Monica's been very sniffly, so we haven't been about much. I think this may do for now. Merry Christmas to you all.
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Wednesday, 6 December 2006

Monday, 4 December 2006

Today was my first day as a part-time cleaner at Uni.
I woke up ready to go, full of energy, I checked the time, it was 3.30!!!!!!! Why do I keep on waking up at such silly, silly hours?!?!? I dozed until 6.30 and then got up. There was a beautiful full moon.

I'm working at the Engineering building. It's really big, I've never been there before, there are high chances of me getting lost! The job was fine, emptying bins, they said it was Monday and they like to start the week with easy Mondays. I agree. We had a long break and I finished at 11.30.

In the afternoon Neil came to show me how to make mince pies. Mark and I will like to try to make them once in Italy. Well, I have to say Neil has been really kind and patient with me. Thank you Neil! I enjoyed cooking with you, it was nice. The mince pies are really nice!
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Job application fun

Having spent most of the weekend feeling run down and crap (wisdom tooth), I still had an application form to complete. As the deadline was midday Monday, and I only had two dates to fill in, I left this until Emma had finished with the computer. This turned out to be at 11:00pm Sunday. I then got an email informing me of my progression to the next stage - a series of online tests. Unfortunately this had the same deadline of noon Monday. Cue me spending until 1:30am doing online aptitude tests. Despite being (understandably) sleepy and grumpy, I did fine and reckon I got through to the next bit. Unless I failed the personality test. Please insert your joke in the comments.
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Saturday, 2 December 2006

Next week is our schools Number Week to raise money for the NSPCC. This is why I have been working so hard lately. I have been organising it. I will be so glad when next week is over. Number week will be over and their will only be one week left till the end of term. Hurrah.

There is so much going on in the Maths block. At lunchtimes we have sudoku, puzzles and games, code breaking (not to mention the normal code breaking club after school on Thursdays), and on Friday we have a weakest link for staff. Should be good fun. I have got the head doing Anne Robinson and a good combination of teachers. I think the only Maths teacher taking part will be voted off first as all the questions are about Maths and Numbers.

All the students have been given the homework this week to write the questions and I need to put it all together this weekend. Fun.

The main thing that I am not looking forward to is I am doing the assembly all week. Not looking forward to that. I have never stood up in front of that many students. Years 7 and 8 should be alright. They are alright which is why they have their assembly together. Its the other three year groups I am worried about. The behaviour in our school is appaling at the moment. Everyone is commenting on it. At least when I am in my classroom there are no other teachers there to spot all my mistakes. There will be lots of students and teachers in assembly. At least it will be good experience for me and the whole event will look good on my CV. Especially since I will be looking for another job starting after Christmas I think.

Anyway I came on the internet to look for Christmas presents and stuff. Better get on with it.
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Wednesday, 29 November 2006

I didn't get the job at the hospital. Never mind. This cleaning job at the University fits really well with my timetable and the pay is quiet good. I'm happy I've got this job I'm really thankful. I spent one summer cleaning students accommodation with really nice people, I hope I will meet nice people too in this job.

I said goodbye to my friend tonight, she was happy because on Sunday her brother went to visit her with his newborn baby!

I spoke with mum as well, she stopped working now because she is suffering from rheumatism. She is going to have X ray and then we will see. Anyway, she was cheerful and calm, she was fine.

I decided to reserve Friday afternoon for my personal shopping. I need to buy something for myself, to treat me a bit. I'm not good at buying thing for myself.


OH Mark lent me Vicks Vaporub, which I discovered has been invented by you, nice English people. This makes you score a lot of points, dear England. I love Vicks Vaporub ( it's sounds a bit odd) because it reminds of my parents rubbing it on my chest, tucking me in bed and kissing me goodnight.
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Got the Sky magazine this morning, it seems Sky One are showing a two-part adaptation of Terry Pratchett's Hogfather this year on the 17th and 18th of December. Since I've got Sky I'll set it up to tape, hope it's worth taping.

On the seasonal theme, I'm hoping to see more lovely snowscenes this winter. The memories (and photos) just aren't enough for me.





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Check it out. My (much needed) redesign of Sacred Heart's web site.

I found out the house has had 100MB of web space since forever. Hopefully, I'll be able to make some progress towards getting it uploaded by the secretary now that it's easy to look at.
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Saturday, 25 November 2006

About a month ago we got a new member of our household. (Have only just got round to blogging) Its a little cute hamster called Buscuit. Shes so cute. Her full name is dizzy buscuit as she runs round in circles alot. Mark can you tell me how to put pictures on this as I want to put on a picture!

Oh and I have updated by amazon wish list if anyone is interested.
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Friday, 24 November 2006

The hearing is over! I'm so relieved! I was quiet nervous in the waiting room and I was quiet tense throught the hearing but having Mark with me helped me a lot. The chairman ( who had a pink pencase with a bunny on it) decided I had the right for an uplift and she decided that 25% was the right amount. So on top of the money I'm owed I'm going to have 25% more, which is good. If I'm not paid within 42 days from the hearing there will be interests as well at 8%. Unfortunately, I won't have this money soon but I have a judgement in which there is written all the money I'm owned and that gives me the certainty that some day in the future I will get paid. The chairman suggested me to go to the CAB and see what they advise me to do.Even if it will take time I'm relieved because this hearing business was going on for such a long time.

Afterwards we went for a nice meal in Herbies. I had a delicious Greek pie with roasted vegetables and sundried tomatoe and wine sauce. It was really really good! Then I had apple pie, which was also really good! It was a nice meal! We deserved it.

As for my tuition fee grant application, the lady on the phone said "it is a clerical mistake" , which I wasn't really sure about the meaning. I said I was worried that my application was being cancelled but she said "no, bye bye". Not really friendly. So I guess I just need to wait.
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Wednesday, 22 November 2006

Well, I've just finished to talk with Marghe. 64 minutes and 12 seconds!!! She reminded me that I won't be able to phone for the whole Advent as the convent close, physically, to the outside world until Christmas' Day. But I can feel her praying for me and we are closer than ever since she is a nun. On the day she took the habit she said that that was going to be a great blessing for everybody and a manifestation of God's love for us. That day I was so busy crying for a friend I was about to loose that I couldn't see anything else.
But she was right, of course, she has always been, this is a great great blessing.

While we were on the phone the other nuns were watching "Chicken little". Yesterday, being the Presentation of Mary, and being the feast of all the novices, they had a party with nice food, lots of food, they like eating these nuns, games and they performed in a little show with songs. I wish I could be there to see my friend performing!

Time for Grease now!
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Last night I checked on-line the status of my student finance application and found out that was cancelled. On the status box first said "to be completed" than in the next line "cancelled". My brain refuses to accept that cancelled means actually cancelled! I send immediately an e-mail but no answers yet. Tomorrow morning I'm going to phone. I can't believe it. I just can't think that this will mean more worries and forms to fill.

Last night I also received an e-mail from my ex-colleague saying that she withdrew the claim because her solicitor advised her to apply for a RP1 form instead. So next Friday at the hearing it will be just me. It seems like Mark is able to come to give me psychological support and then I promised him we are going out for a nice meal to celebrate the end, maybe, of this long, stressful thing. Mark helped me a lot this morning with all the documents to prepare, I really don't know if I could have cope with all this business if it wasn't for him. I phoned the RP1 people and they said I am entitled to claim by RP1 only if the company is insolvent and there is a liquidator, but this is not my case, so they suggested me to go on with the tribunal and see what happens.

Despite all this, I'm quiet happy today. Mark and I met in the morning and it's definitely a great way to start a day. It made me of good humour for all day. In the afternoon I had the interview with the hospital for a sort of admin job. It has been a nice interview it's really friendly place I think I would like to work there, but they want people to start as soon as possible and with me going back to Italy on the 12 I don't know if I have any chance to get it. It was good anyway.

In a bit I'm going to phone Marghe, we will have a looooooooooong chat as usual than I think it will be Grease therapy time!
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Sunday, 19 November 2006

Coventry vs Owls

or

Adrian's first day out in what seems like ages

Popped down to Coventry on Saturday to watch the footy. Dad had kindly got two tickets for the game, and Coventry being in the middle of Manchester and Camberley, we decided to meet early for lunch, have a drink, then go to the game. For me, this meant a two hour drive largely down the M6, with the sun in my eyes the whole way.

The preceding evening had been spent printing off maps (as I've not been to Coventry before, that I recall), and we'd decided on a rough location (Longford) to meet up in, and a pub (JK English Pub) to go to. I got parked, found my way to the main road and phoned Dad. I was assuming he'd be in the area as he'd a shorter journey to make and had set off earlier. Still on his way.

While waiting, I popped into a pub (coated with "Sky Blue Fans Only" posters) to check where I was, and where the JK was. Very friendly little pub, got directions after a little confusion and waited at the bus stop to keep the sun out of my eyes. Had a nice chat with an older lady, and a bloke from the pub even came out to tell me I was at the wrong bus stop for the direction I wanted to go in. First impression is that Longford's a very nice friendly little spot. Lots of Sikhs around too. Manchester's got a decent sized Asian population, but I've not seen many Sikhs for years. The lady at the bus stop did say that the middle of Coventry's a bit grotty.

Dad arrived, and promtly had to move my car as I'd unwittingly parked in one of the many "No parking on matchdays for non-locals" areas. Finally having arrived, we made our way to the JK. Now if you're in Coventry for a match - go here. It used to be an Indian restaurant, and is now a pub, but they still do both a decent curry and a decent pint. Matchday parking for £4. I'll be parking there next time.

To Be Continued....
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Just a quick post to let everyone know that my Amazon Wish List has been updated.

Also, I could do with a decent (second hand?) printer, preferably one that doesn't require expensive ink cartridges, possibly as a Christmas present.
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Thursday, 16 November 2006

Getting a benefit claim can tax the most patient of people. Especially when it's almost impossible to get through to them because the contact number leaves you on hold for over an hour on a good day. Another little wrinkle was ironed out yesterday, but left me rather irritated, so today I indulged in a bit of carefully budgeted retail therapy in Plymouth. Found a few books in a second hand bookshop that Amazon didn't seem to stock, unfortunately the machine declined my card for some reason, so had to find a cashpoint.

Got back to the train station, didn't have to wait for a train, but discovered the toilet door wouldn't close properly because the switch in the door frame that controls the "Engaged" sign in the carriage had broken and was jamming the door. I stuck with it, keeping a foot on the door for decency's sake and sat down for a pleasant trip back to Exeter, and arriving at Exeter St David's station, for some reason the door control didn't become usable until over five minutes after the train had completely stopped. Note to self, If I ever remember that train company, fill in a complaint form.

Surprisingly enough, I'm not annoyed by the mishaps listed above, perhaps having a nice day out for better for me than I thought it would be.
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Wednesday, 15 November 2006

I'm trying to fill in the Health Questionnaire for the interview I have on Wednesday with the Hospital. I have to fill in the same thing for the job at the University, which they say is subjected to satisfactory references and my Health questionneire. I phoned my parents to ask for dates of various immunisations,and checking that yes, when we were children my sister and I got all the possible diseases in the world. Anyway, it's quiet hard translate medical terms,what is chicken pox? It's such a strange name for a disease, anyway I had it, ( on my Oxford Wordpower Dictionary along with the explanation there was written varicella, which is what I had). Rubella is a nice word, I like it, it's quiet an happy word with double ll and a final a. But I don't know what it is. My Dictionary doesn't help me with Rubella, I need to look on the internet, the same for Heaf test and BCG.

Oh my internet conection is working again!!! I managed to mail some pictures to my family after 2 weeks of trying.

I passed the first module of the ECDL course. I'm relieved, it was a bit difficult, but the assistant was really nice, she said I could ask her for help if I didn't understand something. She said other non native speakers had trouble with the language, and so had I. Planning applications,without a context didn't mean anything to me.

I tried to phone my friend, Margherita, but she's got the flu, so I couldn't speak with her.

Trees are wonderful in this season. The coulors are so beautiful! I'm going to take some pictures on my way to campus tomorrow, I cam mail them to my parents and print some out for Marghe!

Lorenzo, my brother-in-law, has downloaded Broken Sword 3 for my dad. I spoke to him tonight he said he's stuck in the kitchen trying to open a safe but he doesn't know what to do. I said, "Dad, go out and talk to all the people you meet" He said " There are only 2 persons and I've done it so many times that 1 escapes as soon as she saw me the other 1 shuts herself in the house watching TV rather than speak to me!" I laughed a lot!
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Thursday, 9 November 2006

UPDATED 16.11.06

Yesterday, Ben was laughing at the thought of my family all having only one suggestion of something to get for me for Christmas, so I had a think and came up with the following:
  • Beethoven - Piano Sonatas Nos 8, 14 and 21 by Radu Lupu and Piano Works, Vol 7 by Artur Schnabel - these represent some recordings accidentally destroyed by an ex-housemate who shall not be named - they've been missed. However, these ones are recommended by Radio 3 yet come in at under a tenner on Amazon.
  • Barometer
  • Classic Dr. Whos involving Cybermen - not Earthshock as I don't think it's very good, controversially
  • An ikon of Christ, am thinking rather a large poster than a small ikon proper - my side wall is quite Marian; Jesus needs more wallspace I think
  • I'd rather like a portable DAB radio, but these are probably still too steep - prove me wrong!
  • The Killers' latest album - Amazon says it's called Sam's Town
  • Peep Show Series 3, again, for the record
  • Some music by Palestrina, who is, I believe the chap responsible for introducing polyphony into church music and consequently of interest to a bod such as myself
  • Now, I do have too many bibles, but I don't have is a very portable one - NRSV, RSV, King James or variant, New Jerusalem or NASB gratefully received
  • Anything on my wish list - note duplicates of things listed here already
Also please consider the following:
  • I have loooooooads of books
  • I don't know quite what I'll do with things that can't go on a plane but, naturally enough, they won't be going on a plane
  • Because I now have two families trying to buy me presents, you'd better let Monica know if you buy things
Gosh, that was a long post. They're only suggestions - if you have a better idea, run with it, I say.
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Wednesday, 8 November 2006

Well, I more or less know what I'm doing for Christmas now, so here it is:

I get to Camberley somehow for the present swap on 16th Dec. Neil, I think wants to hire a car - I'll sort that out with him. Presents are exchanged, we laugh, we cry.

I assume I can hang around in Surrey until 18th, whereupon I go to Gatwick to get a plane to Bologna. I understand the trains are convenient from Blackwater (near Camberley) to Gatwick but hopefully I get a lift and save some money.

Meet Monica in Bologna, and spend Christmas and the new year in Offagna. Travel back together on 3rd Jan and head straight for Exeter. Get back quite late. Brush teeth, go to bed.

Also I've had one idea for a present family-types: Peep Show: Series 3 on DVD. I know one present isn't a lot to go on, but it occurred to me while I was killing time in W.H. Smith's.
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Monday, 6 November 2006

Seeing Mum and Dad again was lovely, even if they were both too tired to do much the first couple of days they were in Exeter.

I am now fairly certain that it's going to take me a long time to find a truly suitable job for me, so I think I'll stay at Camberley from the Present Swap until the trains are relatively reliable again after Christmas.

Went to St Loye's for the fireworks display on Sunday night, the usual 20 minute delay, seemingly just for the purpose of getting the kids hyped up, remembered to take a torch so I could take the river-side route to get out of the crowd faster.
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Friday, 3 November 2006

Quick Quiz

Ok chaps (& chappesses) here's a little problem for you:

Name five football teams mentioned in the Bible.
No googling now!
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Wednesday, 1 November 2006

The Scary Blog

Following on from the discussions about content on blogs scaring people, I've actually been considering posting a brief explanation of some of the ideas behind my thesis on the blog. Obviously I'd simplify it, and keep to generalities - more to give a flavour of what I've been doing. I'd aim to keep it readable for anyone at GCSE/A-level maths level.

The question is: would anyone be interested? I won't bother if nobody's going to read it!
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Tuesday, 31 October 2006

Happy Birthday to my mum today!!! And happy birthday to my cousin Alessandro as well!

Internet connection is rubbish on my computer and Mr Wireless Network I have to say I hate you, but just a bit because I'm a nice person.

Happy windy day!
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Monday, 30 October 2006

What a flopped out weekend; I seem to feel quite okay for a Monday though.

Monica and I forgot to go and see Dave's band, which is a bit rubbish, as I was honestly looking forward to it. I think we were too tired anyway though.

I can have Wednesday morning off, it would appear, thus enabling me to get to mass for All Saints and have the Italian lesson that I paid for. And get a watch. And a haircut. And a mid-week morning off. Great.
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Friday, 27 October 2006

With reference to his link to the Dobsons - with the alt text as stated:
I looked at your blog. Why are we "not for the faint hearted"?
Mark Dobson
I should of course have said "In what sense are we &c."
Because of the hugely religious bent to the blog.
[...]
hoose | Homepage
And Rosy's link to us says "The (slightly religiously oriented) Dob-log". I find this all a little odd. It occasionally enters my mind to do a reciprocal link to Rosy calling it "The (slightly heathen oriented) Rosy's blog" but I shouldn't like to cause offence.

Woooooohhh (that's in a ghostly way, not a hurrah kind of way) I'm a Catholic - woooooooooh! My faith is important to me - run for your lives!

Heh. People are funny.
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Thursday, 26 October 2006

House

This week is half term for Emma, so I've not been doing too much serious job hunting yet, and had Monday and Tuesday off as a little holiday. I was working over most of the summer so didn't see that much of Emma.
On Tuesday we went to Alton Towers for the day. We'd literally just stepped off the monorail at the park entrance when I got a phone call from Mum. The house sale has fallen through due to the sellers deciding not to sell. This puts us back to square one, while we'd been within a couple of weeks of completing the process.
Financially it's not too bad, but we've missed out on a lovely house and have to start looking again. Obviously we were very upset initially, but these things happen - hopefully for a reason.
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Tuesday, 24 October 2006

My friend has given birth to a lovely baby boy today! Just half an hour ago! His name is Tommaso. I'm so happy! I'm looking forward to meeting him and to covering him in kisses!!!

Oh and my sister promised me today that she is going to have a baby girl when she will be pregnant.
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Monday, 23 October 2006

I went running this morning and I run for 25 minutes. Maybe. Anyway, I stopped only three times for just a minute to stretch my legs. It's been really good. The air was fresh and I ran not very fast trying to maintain a rhythm. I'll try to run for 3 times every week, only for half an hour, to give air to my small brain!

My parents phoned me and my dad said that his association, the volunteer firemen association, it's organizing a trip to Trento, North of Italy in the mountains, to visit the Christmas` markets. I don't know how to translate this, it's a lot of stalls selling Christmas' decorations and Nativity Scene and all those sort of things. But in the mountains all these things are handmade so they are really good. So we are going, my parents and I on the 16th of December. I'm really looking forward to it! I love Christmas' market and I can spend some time with my family. I'm really happy! I hope my sister can come, so it will be all the family. It would be so nice!

On Friday I managed ( is that correct in this case Mark?) to complete the form for the tuition grant! I couldn't belief it! The Director of the Modular Degree was really nice and filled the part reserved to the University without saying a word. He also certified the copy of my passport. Mark posted the form for me on Saturday, now it's just a question of waiting, but it's a relief!

I enjoy correcting my translations with Mark, I learn so many things. He speaks and writes English so well!!!! He's so patient with me. I'm so lucky, can you imagine if I had a German boyfriend? Useless, completely useless.

I've got a cake in the oven, it better rise this time. Now back to Spanish grammar and a bit of Italian Fascism.
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Sunday, 22 October 2006

This is a photo of me as Dr. Who for Kate's party yesterday.

I'm such a dude.
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Saturday, 21 October 2006

Sturrock Sacked

Less than a month after signing a three year extension to his contract at Hillsborough, Paul Sturrock has been sacked as Sheffield Wednesday manager having been in charge for just over two years.
In his first season he got the team promoted, winning the playoffs at Cardiff, and surpassed the expectations of what the team he inherited should have achieved that season.
In his second season, he kept the team punching above their weight, surviving what was always going to be a tough year back in the Championship.
This season has seen a poor start. The first few games saw reasonable performance fail to merit a decent return of points, but the last couple of games saw pretty dire standards from the Owls, and the 4-0 drubbing by Colchester looks to have been the last straw.

Two reasons why I'm pissed off about this:
I really think that given time, Sturrock would have sorted the situation out. He's got a decent track record as a manager, with (effectively) back to back promotions at Plymouth, and an impressive record in Scotland before then. Yet again the manager at Hillsborough has not been given chance to do his job.
Sturrock always struck me as honest and hardworking. It was refreshing to have a manager who'd say that the team were rubbish. I particularly enjoyed "we can't defend like that and expect to win football matches".

Bizarrely, this makes Sturrock the longest serving Wednesday manager this millennium. That's six managers in six years. I can't see the club going forwards long term unless the board have the guts to stick with a manager through a poor spell.


Links

A sensible article from the BBC about the decision
Interviews with the chairman, ex-manager, and others

Burnley have rejected an official approach to speak to their manager Steve Cotterill, and Nigel Worthington has ruled himself out of the running.
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Friday, 20 October 2006

Thesis Submission

I've submitted. It's all in. Huzzah!
I'll have a viva in about a month's time which will determine the result (Pass, Pass with minor corrections, Pass with major corrections, or Fail).
I'm off to the pub now.

Oh, and I'm changing my email address, as my university one expires soon. If I haven't mailed you, please let me know so I can give you the new one.
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Something Craig of Gooseania, conscientious atheist, mentioned earlier and also came to me in my Co-op newsletter. Do it:

If you care about climate change and want something done about it, one thing you must do today is get your MP to support The Big Ask - a campaign asking all 646 MPs to back a law making the Government cut carbon dioxide emissions every year. No excuses.

We believe that there are solutions to climate change. Which is why we're campaigning with Friends of the Earth and supporting The Big Ask. And why we seek to invest in renewable energy and refuse to invest in businesses that extract or produce fossil fuels. But our MPs need to help too.

Climate change is no laughing matter. But with your help something can be done about it. Please support The Big Ask by emailing your MP. It only takes a few moments to do your bit...and to make sure your MP does theirs.

Simply visit our website, enter your postcode and click go!
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Wednesday, 18 October 2006

A very busy-seeming day for me.
I went to a once-weekly, limited duration careers advice service in the library this morning, using an interest and work environment guided program, unfortunately the session was cut short-er by the time limit, so I'll pop back next week to finish off. Some interesting ideas so far, Marine Biologist, Agricultural/Horticultural Scientist, although I'm not too keen on Acupuncturist as a career idea.

Went to the job centre with my support worker to have them check over the paperwork for by benefit claim, always a stressful time for me. I always worry about sending important documents by post, especially ones I had to wait for!

Housegroup was very nice this evening, I was assisting with the talk on the Good Samaritan, I'd done some research about the Samartians history and read a version of the story from John Pollock's 'The Master". A very helpful book that explains some of the context of the Gospel according to John.
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Well, I 've been a good girl today. I went running a bit. I said to my dad on the phone "dad, guess what I've done today, I went running!" He said the world is coming to an end because he can't remember me running. He asked me " How long? 1 hour?" "Well... dad just 10-15 minutes..." He started laughing and he still is.

I tried to run in the past with my friends, but is not easy in my village. Either you run in the street hoping that nobody will run over you or you go in the countryside where there is no straight road and everything is up hill.
Once Margherita and I joined the village football team during their preparation. The coach, who knows us since we were children, wouldn't stop laughing at us! But we went, we managed to follow them for the first 5 minutes and then they disappeared.

Anyway, I would like to try this time. I am quite stressed these days and I need to release the tension otherwise I will go mad. So tonight after coming back from Uni, I went running. Just 10-15 minutes, but it's a start. I immediately felt better. I like the fresh air and the wind in my face. It was really refreshing and relaxing and now I can feel a lot of oxygen in my body!!!

But I need help because I don't know how to run. My dad suggested stretching first for a bit, start running, stop running walking fast for 2 minutes and stretch a bit, start running again for 2 minutes and then stop start again for 3 minutes and so on. So that I will manage to run for more than 10 minutes. I don't know. What is recommended to do? I don't know.And what about food? One should eat before or after? My dad recommend me to bring with me water with lemon, which is enough for my 10 minutes running, I think. And how often? I was thinking twice maybe three time per week.

I do feel a lot better after only 10 minutes, it sounds ridiculous I know, but there you are. I am easily pleased. Once back from running I did a bit of stretching in my bedroom and some exercises I remembered from my dance classes.

Tomorrow I'm meeting the Director of Modular Degree for the SML so that she can complete the form for my tuition grant, and then hopefully it will be just a matter of sending the form and the documents. Oh and there is the part-time job faire tomorrow, I hope it will be helpful.
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Friday, 13 October 2006

Corking. I was flicking through my phonebook before Italian and phoning and texting people that I hadn't for a while. Amongst them was Nina, a friend from university who now works at the museum. It occurred to me that she plays badminton, so with any luck, I'll be able to organise mixed doubles with Ben and Hannah as well, and maybe even get some decent regular exercise rather than go lane swimming, which I understand is very dull, even if it is good for you.

Aaaaand - I complain well, because Exeter College apologised and said I could have the refund of the first Italian lesson that I asked for.

Aaaaaaaaaaaaaaand - I'm getting independent financial advice next week, so I can get my pension arrangements back on track again.

Huzzah!
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Thursday, 12 October 2006

Mass on Thursday in Stretham Court has always been good for me. It's like an oasis in the middle of the chaos which is the campus. I remembered arriving at mass exhausted after a day in campus and really hungry! But then when the door closed and mass started the world was shut outside. I always left full of hope and peace, as it should be every time I go to mass I think. Tonight the gospel was Luke I think, (I apologize but I'm not really good at Bible references, actually I'm afraid I'm not really good at reading the Bible in general) it was the bit that says ask and you will receive, search and you will find, knock and the door will open... ( something like that, oh dear I do sound really profane.)Paul said that often we ask and we receive something we didn't ask or we search and we find something different from what we were looking for. Then he said that it's not only about me, this with God is a relationship and I should allow the Holy Spirit to work in me. How I allowed my beliefs to affect my life? This is what he asked and made me think about what, I don't know, I'm still thinking. Anyway, it was good tonight as it always been, it's a moment in the week when I stopped and His words calm me down, they comfort me and give me peace. It usually last for a day, but it's a start. I have been a good girl for the last couple of weeks, I re-started saying morning prayer. I think I'll alternate a week of morning prayer and a week of evening prayer. Psalms are really good.

I paid my fees today, the first installment. I am really poor now!( No it's not true I should be just a bit careful until I find a job.) So I bought a frame for Mark's picture(49 pence in Age Concern.)Charity shops are great, there was also a double duvet cover for 2.99 but it was a bit boring. Mine has nice pink and blue flowers I'd like something like that.
So now Mark, you've got a nice frame around your beautiful face!

I watched Central Station yesterday. Nick you are right. It's a very good film nearly cried at the end, but I restrained myself, I can't cry in the library!!Tomorrow I'm going to watch Amores perros and then I'll choose.

I had a really good lecture for Oral Spanish. We were just 4 people and we had the chance to talk a lot. The atmosphere was friendly and relaxed and this is quite important when you have to speak in front of other people in a language you don't know. I'm not good at speaking in general I'm too shy, I thought I was going to improve with the age but I think I'll die shy. At my University in Italy people were so competitive it was ridiculous. I was scared to talk, which is not so good if you are studying languages.

Oh Mark, Fabio has just emailed me. He said "congratulations or best whishes for learning Italian, but if you think you will then be able to understand Monica better, well you are wasting your time! It's not a problem of language it's her brain that cannot be interpreted! However, 5000 years ago, nobody would have thought of decoding the DNA, so maybe there is still hope for her little brain." And this is one of my friend.(I hope my translation makes sense)

I bought the flight back to Italy on the 12th of December. My sister is really happy, we will have time to go to town, see the lights and do a bit, just a bit of shopping. Then I can decorate the Christmas tree, make the nativity scene and sit near the fireplace with a good book and lots of biscuits! Not chocolate biscuits though, it's so unfair!

It's late, it's late, I should study a bit. Buonanotte e sogni d'oro a tutti.
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Well, I had my first Italian lesson yesterday, so I'll blog about it rather than read Love and Responsibility (Monica and I have been reading books on relationships, including Christian Courtship in an Oversexed World - overly extreme, but lots of food for thought - and Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus - helpful, despite a barrage of criticism from academics and a wishy-washy style)

I had to experiment with the buses a bit to get there. Checked out traveline (a brilliant concept for a web-site, what the web was meant to be like I think) and headed over the road after work to get a D bus. I got on it at the wrong point, and was treated to a bizarrely insular route around a small housing estate near Tescos - I'm pretty sure we doubled back on ourselves. No matter though, as I had plenty of time to kill. That took me half way, and I thought it was probably simpler to just keep walking than walk along a perpendicular line to the recommended next bus stop. Saw lots of Exeter tonight that I'd never seen before.

My classes are at the new St. Lukes High School, which is, I believe, a sports and something else college. Anyway, it looks like a fortress. Not an unfriendly one - if they were ever under siege, I think what they'd probably do is continually pour little cardboard cups of cappucino on the invader whilst wondering what heading the situation fell under in their vision statement.

I had a feeling, justified as it turns out, that Exeter College (who are running the course) screwed me over by telling me that it wasn't on last week, and not telling me when they found out it could be. So I shall complain.

Anyway, it was fun. I've got a definite headstart, though I shouldn't have thought it's much of one, as I don't have much practise at conversation. There's something nice about being in a room full of adults cheerily trying to learn something new whilst trying to avoid making complete fools of themselves. It was all stuff I knew already really, but it's good to be in it with some other people, and I'm not properly au fait with it anyway - ordering drinks and food, asking and giving names and where people are from, counting to 10, hello, goodbye - all that jazz. Fun. Also, someone I knew was there, Tom who was doing RCIA at the same time as Ben.

I stood at the wrong bus stop for a while, but using stagecoach's clever, though expensive, SMS system I found that this was no way to get home, so I walked on a little longer and caught the K home, had a beer and a shower to fix my rancid hair and went to bed in a good mood.
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Wednesday, 11 October 2006

I'm getting a bit sick of these learner bus drivers. I appreciate the following:
  • They need to experience the traffic so they have to train them at inconvenient times
  • Driving a bus in public is probably pretty unnerving re. turning, hazards and suchlike
  • The presence of a friendly face in a supervisory capacity is surely very neccessary
...but for pity's sake, if there's an empty road ahead of you, you're quarter of an hour behind schedule and practically everyone on the bus is relying on you to get them to work put your bloody foot down rather than gassing with the guy next to you and slowing down to appreciate the scenery.

I needed an extra cup of tea today.
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Ehy Calibre just phoned me! I might have an interview for a job in Exmouth. They are looking for an Italian native speaker. The hourly rate is quite good. Let's hope I will have this interview. At least the interview, just to cheer me up a bit. It is frustrating when nothing happens.
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Monday, 9 October 2006

No lectures on Monday so I went to the library at 9am to watch City of God. Next time I'll check the review of the film before I watch it. City of God is not a 9am film. Not for me. It's not even a 9 pm film. I wouldn't have been able to sleep if I had watched in the evening. It's violent and really sad because it's all based on a real story. It's not that I didn't liked it, it just too much for me but I think it's a good film. I liked the way it was directed. It reminded me of Saving Private Ryan, great film, happy to have watched it, but once is enough for me.
I don't think I'm going to write an essay on this film, I can't think of watching it again. I'm not going to write it on Buena Vista Social Club either. That was a good film too, great music. But I really don't know what to write about it.

I hope that Central Station and Amore y perros will inspire me a bit more and that they won't be so violent like City of God.

I found out the amount of my fees, the fee-lady told me I can pay by installment. I think I'll do it.

I made a cake. Rubbish! I know what's wrong. I am not used to make cake with margarine, I usually make them with olive oil. But I think I shouldn't cook when I am a bit grumpy.

I emailed job agencies and filled 3 applications form. I tried to use the royal mail online postage. Well, my A4 envelope doesn't fit in my printer so I couldn't print it out. It's a bit of a pain to go the post office.

I should study a bit of Spanish grammar but...... mmmm

I am reading The Chronicles of Narnia. I love these books. I am on Prince Caspian at the moment.
I better go and eat something.
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Sunday, 8 October 2006

I had my performance review this week. The meeting with the head of Maths where they set your targets for the year. All teachers have to do it to get pay rises.

My target for the grades my year 11 should get is fine. Should be able to meet that one. Unfortunately I also have targets to do with the department and the school. I wanted the one that said "to work more efficiently and have a much better work life balance". Louize did not like that one. So I ended up with two. One which says I have to lead on more or less creating the Maths part of the school website. I knew I would get lumbered with that having gone to training with Louize about how to do it. And the other one is to go to all the STEM meetings. Something to do with cross curricular projects between science, tech, engineering and maths. Sounds interesting both targets but also alot of work. And I thought it would be easier this year. Ho hum.

So if anyone knows anything about Engineering can you let me know. The school is trying to go for engineering statis so it is quite important and eventually maths will have to be taught with an engineering slant to everything. That will be interesting since no one in the department knows anything about engineering.

Also who set up this blog. As we are going to have a department blog. Don't ask. And I need to know how to set one up with multiple people blogging on it. I think it is going to be used as a sort of bulletin board so students can talk to each other and stuff about homework that they are stuck on. Could do with talking to whomever set this up though - I can't remember who it was.
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Apparently it's been done before, and I know it's better to light a candle than to curse the darkness and all that, but -

Does no-one else find the idea of the Archbishop of Canterbury seeking to forge relations with the state-sanctioned protestant church of China rather disquieting, in the light of the Chinese government's unremitting persecution of unofficial churches?
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Friday, 6 October 2006

Thesis Update

It was my intention to submit my thesis today (or at least give my supervisor a copy to read over the weekend, then submit on Monday). This was scuppered somewhat by coming down with a vile cold this week (Monday and Tuesday were spent feeling rubbish, Wednesday and Thursday mostly spent in bed, having given up further attempts at work as unlikely to produce noticeable results).

The good news: My supervisor wisely suggested a week's extension a couple of weeks back, so I still have until a week today to submit.

The bad news: I'm pissed off. I was really looking forward to having finished. This is exacerbated by still being ill (today was not exactly productive), the promise of a week of hard graft (starting Sunday), and four years of accumulated stress.
I've a (good) week's work to do, leaving little time for any feedback from my supervisor. He's suggested phoning the submissions office, coughing at them, and asking for a couple more days. I'm loathe to do this as it's dragged on long enough, but I think he's right.
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Stan Collymore's Return

One of the more amusing articles to appear last week was Stan Collymore (35) announcing his intention to return to football (after retiring five years ago). Evidently a reader of this blog - his intentions were announced not long after I mentioned him scoring for Villa, Collymore left football amidst some rather colourful circumstances. The Guardian kindly published a list of quotations which are well worth a read.
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Thursday, 5 October 2006

The Perpetual Virginity of Mary and Jesus' "brothers"

Caravaggio - The Annunciation (1608-09, Oil on...Image via Wikipedia
I only provided the link regarding the explanation of both a tradition of perpetual virginity and references to Jesus' brothers in scripture, but as you mention it Adrian:
The following I find highly unconvincing (specifically that the question only makes sense given a vow of virginity)

"When the angel Gabriel appeared to Mary and told her that she would conceive a son, she asked, "How can this be since I have no relations with a man?" (Luke 1:34). From the Church’s earliest days, as the Fathers interpreted this Bible passage, Mary’s question was taken to mean that she had made a vow of lifelong virginity, even in marriage. (This was not common, but neither was it unheard of.) If she had not taken such a vow, the question would make no sense."
In saying this, you agree with my (Catholic) New Jerusalem Bible, which states that "[n]othing in the text suggests a vow of virginity", which I agree with in turn. I also agree that saying that it makes no sense without a vow is going too far. On the other hand:
In the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent from God to a city of Galilee named Nazareth, to a virgin betrothed [b] to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David. And the virgin's name was Mary. And he came to her and said, "Greetings, O favored one, the Lord is with you!" But she was greatly troubled at the saying, and tried to discern what sort of greeting this might be. And the angel said to her, "Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus. He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. And the Lord God will give to him the throne of his father David, and he will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of his kingdom there will be no end."

And Mary said to the angel, "How will this be, since I am a virgin?" [d]

And the angel answered her, "The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; therefore the child to be born will be called holy--the Son of God.[...]" - Luke 1:26-35

[b] That is, legally pledged to be married
[d] Greek since I do not know a man
It is a bit of an odd question. This girl is pledged to be married, but the question seems to indicate that she has had no introduction to the facts of life, and more specifically, that marriage to Joseph might just possibly entail making babies. Why is she surprised at the idea that she is going to have a child, given that she hasn't been told about the virgin birth at this point? I just realised that I could have posted what the article said after the bit you quoted - may as well now:
If she had anticipated having children in the normal way [...] she would hardly have to ask "how" she was to have a child, since conceiving a child in the "normal" way would be expected by a newlywed wife.
The text doesn't imply a vow, but a vow does provide an explanation for the text. It's a hypothesis which seems to fit the facts of the matter, rather than a proof, which happens to accord with a very venerable tradition. Feel free to explain it another way. I'd be quite interested; I don't think I've seen an attempt to explain it without a reference to the vow hypothesis.
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On Mary's virginity and Jesus' brothers...

Nice as it is to be regarded as the local question-answerer regarding Catholicism, a quick trip to the web, where this question has surely been answered very thoroughly thousands of times, or to a library, would do equally well.

Look here. There is no need for me to paraphrase it.
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Wednesday, 4 October 2006

The Intercession of the Saints pt. 3

The Theotokos of Vladimir, one of the most ven...Image via Wikipedia
Update: Looking back at this, I think I rushed myself a bit - it's not so coherent as I am. If I wasn't blogging during my lunch-break, I'd probably go back over it - but I am. It's a bit rambling. Ho-hum.

I think it's because of an ambiguity in the word "prayer". The obvious and primary sense of prayer is a petition to an object of worship i.e. God, in our case. A secondary sense which is by now an archaism, but which nonetheless exists, is an earnest petition to a person. So we ask them to pray for us or, to put it another way, we pray them to pray for us.

Worship is right out - as I hope you assume already, of me, if not my church. There are two words in Greek, latria and doulia, usually rendered "worship" and "veneration" respectively. Latria is worship that should be due only to God, hence "ido-latry" and "Mario-latry" are very-bad-things. However, doulia may also be rendered "worship", as the root of the word which tends to denote latria is "worth-ship" or worthiness. This is obviously a misleading use of the word, which we now apply only to God in common usage, though not in the courts, where we are expected to address certain magistrates as "your worship". I mention this only to suggest that there are complications of language involved; basically, we don't worship saints.

It's about asking them to help us in the same way we might ask any Christian to help us.

For a dogmatic church, there's a remarkable amount of room for individualism within Catholicism. It's largely a matter of personal devotion. Within corporate worship, we pray to Mary very regularly, as follows:
Hail Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with thee; blessed art thou amongst women, and blessed is the fruit of thy womb, Jesus. Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners, now and at the hour of our death.

Amen.
Though this probably gets the old alarm bells ringing theologically, as it once did for me, you can see that it's basically a prayer for her prayer. We pray to the saints and angels en masse, within our general confession as follows:
I confess to almighty God,
and to you,
my brothers and sisters,
that I have sinned through my own fault,
in my thoughts and in my words,
in what I have done,
and in what I have failed to do;
and I ask blessed Mary,
ever virgin,
all the angels and saints,
and you,
my brothers and sisters,
to pray for me to the Lord our God.
On certain occasions we will have a litany of the saints, where we simply ask a lot of saints one after to pray for us - i.e. "St. Benedict, Pray for us." - and we have All Saints on November 1st. Individual saints are remembered (or not) at masses throughout the year, though in such a way as you might well miss it if you're not paying attention. I think that's about as much as comes from the initiative of the Church really.

As I say, it's about personal devotions really. I don't pray to the saints much, but sometimes I pray to St. Justin Martyr - my name saint, St. Polycarp, St. Augustine, St. Maria Goretti, St. Francis, and a few others. Back in the day, I believe the cultus of saints tended to develop spontaneously, especially with martyrs, but these days the Church recommends certain "righteous men" whose prayers we can therefore expect to be "powerful and effective" (James 5:16). That, in essence, is why we do.
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Tuesday, 3 October 2006


Mark,

Thanks for this. I've had a bit of a read now. I've never taken the idea of 'saintly intercession' seriously until now. I have a few thoughts to share...

1. I'm guessing there must be a difference between what you might call 'saintly intercession' (saints praying for us) and 'praying TO the saints'. If the idea is about asking 'dead' (I use the term very very loosely!) Christians to pray for us in the same way we might ask living Christians to pray for us, then I'm beginning to appreciate it. If it's about asking them to help us in the way we might ask God directly, or if it's about worship then that's clearly crossing a line.

2. So it seems to me there may not be anything wrong with asking our brothers and sisters in christ to pray for us ('dead' or alive) but now I'm wondering - How important is it anyway? Is it worth doing? There may not be anything biblically to say we SHOULDN'T, but does that mean we SHOULD? I don't think so really. I mean when it comes to praying for each other, there's plenty in the Bible commanding us to do so, and there's plenty of places where we read how we can ask for God's help directly for ourselves but I'm not aware of any instruction in scipture that would tell us to ask 'dead' Christians to pray for us. It leaves me still very hesitant about the idea.

3. [...] I've been stretched through it and probably will grow some more by what you might say next on the subject.

Huge thanks (see I did read it in the end)

Dave
Dave Pegg Homepage
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I ran into Dave today. It so happens that his sandwich van (of which I had no knowledge hitherto) is one of the throng that comes to Pynes Hill (a place which the agencies would appear to regard as my spiritual home). So when I went out to to indulge myself, there he was, and the chocolate brownie which I purchased from him was very satisfactory, leaving aside the cost of £1.

He said he found my blog, but he couldn't find the posts I wrote on saintly intercession, which he apparently intended to read. Here they are:

Number 1 - Number 2

Happy sandwich-selling Dave.
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Thursday, 28 September 2006

In other news, I discover that I am enrolled with Exeter College to take evening classes in Italian. Wahey!

Further, I discover that it's been delayed for a week. Boo! Except not so very boo, as this means I can go to a chaplaincy mass this term after all. Wahey.
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Football Grounds

I'm trying to list all the football grounds I've visited. This is what I've got so far:

Wednesday games

Hillsborough (Sheff Wed)
Boothferry Park (Hull)
Wembley (Rumbelows cup final vs Man Utd)
The Dell (Southampton)
Pride Park (Derby)
City Ground (Nottingham Forest)
Manor Ground (Oxford United)
Goldstone Ground (Brighton & Hove Albion)
Villa Park (Aston Villa) - notable for the Wednesday crown goading Stan Collymore continuously throughout the game, singing "Where's Ulrika gone?". Then he scored.
Turf Moor (Burnley) - Featuring the worst pie I've ever eaten
Craven Cottage (Fulham)
Fratton Park (Portsmouth)
Priestfield Stadium (Gillingham)
Edgeley Park (Stockport)
Boundary Park (Oldham)
Kenilworth Rd (Luton)
Millenium Stadium (League One playoff final vs Hartlepool)
Madjedski Stadium (Reading)
KC Stadium (Hull)

- Reserves/Friendlies

Broadfield Stadium (Crawley Town) - preseason friendly
Moss Rose (Macclesfield) - preseason friendly
Old Trafford (Man Utd) - for the reserve cup final last season

Farnborough Town

Cherrywood Road (Farnborough Town)
Kingfield (Woking)

Random

Oakwell (Barnsley vs Brighton) - this was my first match.
Wembley (England vs Italy friendly) - I know I've already put this one down.
Finnair Stadium (Jokerit v TPS and HJK v FC Lahti)
Bramall Lane (Sheff Utd) - Emma's brass band played at half time. I think Mum and Dad took us to see Billy Graham many years ago.
Llanelian Road (Colwyn Bay vs Bradford City) - preseason friendly. For James Womack's birthday (approximately).

Total: 29

That's all I can think of at the moment. I'm sure Dad can think of some more. Note the heavy bias towards South East & London clubs. Largely because I've been to mostly home games while in Manchester (exceptions being Oldham, Stockport, Old Trafford) or Sheffield, and away games while in Farnborough/Camberley.
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A countdown timer appears on James' blog. I seem to remember putting a countdown timer to Soul Calibur II on mine once.
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Monday, 25 September 2006

Oh Mark you know what? I've just listened to "Something changed" by Pulp. You know what? That is the very first song you sang me. I know you don't remember with your 3 seconds memory, but it was in Cowley Bridge Road we weren't together at that time. Well, something changed, indeeeeeeeeeeeeeed!!!!!!!!!!!
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I've just finished to talk with my parents on the phone. I'm so happy! This is the first time after a long time that my mum seemed like she was used to be. I don't know really how to thank God for answering my prayer. They have been on a day out yesterday and she said it was great and she had fun. It was a sunny day and they went with other people in Abruzzo. They were in the mountains, they have been in lots of small villages and they said the food was great! My mum said she ate like a pig!Which is great because she lost her appetite and lot of weight.

I'm listening to Pulp, I like them. Thank you Mark. But I have to admit I also listen to Shakira singing in Spanish sometimes, but this is only to improve my Spanish.

Today was 1st day of Welcome Week. I had the usual problems with registry and it's not sorted yet. I was a bit annoyed but this phone call really changed my mood. I don't want to think about anything else. Oh, tonight I'm also going to phone my friend, Marghe, who is a nun in a cloister up on the mountain. Oh and she is going to become an auntie soon!!! I'm not for the moment, my sister and her husband are a bit lazy! I'm using a lot of exclamation mark!
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Saturday, 23 September 2006

Friday was my last day at the English Language Centre. Leaving was a bit sad. I had a good time. There have been up and down but I enjoyed meeting and helping the international students. Being a foreigner myself I identified with them a lot. When they came at reception lost and disorientated it was like seeing myself when I first arrived. I didn't have a room to sleep and the airline lost my baggage! I was really confused. When I entered my room in George House I was shocked. It was really really small, I was tired and I needed a shower, but I didn't have anything with me. Not a good start! But when I looked outside the window I could see the bell tower of a church, and that sight comforted me. Then I found a Bible in a drawer and I started reading. I remembered the words the priest told me when I had confession before leaving. He hold my hand and he looked straight into my eyes and said "Be always near God, be always close to him wherever you go, remain faithful to him." I tried my best, sometimes I failed. I used to repeat these words quite a lot during the first months in England. I didn't feel so disorientated and so lost because I didn't feel alone, I knew He was next to me in all my trials. Now it's the same, I feel a bit confused and scared. University is starting and I don't know anybody. I need to find a part time job and I've got millions of other things to do. On Friday coming back home, I sat on a bench, listening to the rustling of the leaves watching the clouds. It was so peaceful. I remembered those words and I'm not feeling so overwhelmed now.

Today is a good day. The sun is out the sky is blue!!!!But today is good because my mum had a visit to the doctor and he reduced the medications. The next visit is on December and I might be there to go along with her. There might be the chance that the doctor will suspend the treatment, that would be great! Tomorrow she is going with my dad on a day out with some other people. I 'm so happy she is feeling better, I prayed so much for her.

Last night I saw for the first time in my life a chocolate fountain! It was great! Unfortunately I had a very bad IBS attack on Tuesday and after just the sight of chocolate makes me sick. I 'm going to stop eating chocolate for a month. I want to check if these attacks are linked to it. I know it's mainly stress that causes it but maybe chocolate has something to with it. Anyway, I m not really crazy for chocolate. I'm more a pizza person. But some days you just want chocolate, only chocolate. And it's not even that I'm eating bars and bars of chocolate, just chocolate biscuits. I know it makes me scratch my legs a lot. It's not fair, not fair at all. All I ask is just a bit of chocolate when I need it, but as a wise man once told me "A moment on your lips a lifetime on your hips!" And you know, being a Mediterranean girl my hips don't need any help in that sense! So unfair! So unfair!
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