Friday, 23 October 2009

Let's not get angry about Nick Griffin and the BNP

I watched BBC's Question Time this evening because people kept shouting about it on Twitter and I wanted to know what the fuss was for.
I have to say I don't know why people were getting so angry. I understand that Nick Griffin's policies and party are dispicable, and that politics should not be about race, but I agree with what Bonnie Greer said, don't you?

"The British people have got too much common sense."

The British National Party will never be a significant part of main stream British politics for just this reason. I think it's quite clear from Nick Griffin's own responses and behaviour on the show tonight that he does not himself have a clear understanding of how his policies relate to Nazism, denial of holocaust, racism, genocide and religious conflict. The lack of integrity he showed was astonishing - whenever confronted with a quote that put him in a bad light, he claimed to be misquoted and shook his head in denial even when claims were backed up with video footage, on YouTube, clearly visible to the world.

There is no need to get angry about a man who is clearly confused about his own opinions. Whilst not all British politicians have integrity or know what they're talking about, I think its safe to say that when these faults are combined with despicable policies and associations with racial hate groups internationally, even the most patriotic Brits will not be fooled into supporting them. This assumes of course that the main stream alternatives are getting things right, but that is a debate for another post, probably on another blog.

The BNP leader was also challenged about his association with the Klu Klux Klan, in particular when he was photographed meeting David Duke, a leader of the KKK in America. According the the Telegraph, Mr. Duke claims in his book,"My Awakening: A Path to a Racial Understanding", published 1998, that the integration of different ethnicities is racial genocide.

David Dimbleby quoted the BNP website as saying that the current government's immigration policy is "the greatest act of genocide against the British people in history." Nick Griffin agreed with this, and another quote saying that the government was committing an act of "deliberate, calculated genocide" against the British people with this policy. I smell a distinct comparison.

Like Baroness Warsi, I am appalled at the use of the word genocide by both of these groups in this context, especially when you take into account the violent and horrific nature of other genocides around the world. I also believe that the BNP should be ashamed to have such an association and such a similarity of ideals as the leader of the KKK, classified as a hate group in the United States.

I would have verified Mr. Dimbleby's quotations myself, but the BNP website was down, so all I got was a temporary page with bullet-pointed one-liner policies, and large buttons suggesting I "Donate", "Subscribe" or read the newsletter. No thank you.

Friday, 16 October 2009

Getting the Hang of the Gym

So I've been going to the gym for a couple weeks now - today was my fourth time! Kirsty and I had booked to go to a hula hooping class which we were really looking forward to, and we'd gone half an hour early to put in some time on the machines first.

However, it all went to pot when we discovered that our class had been cancelled and they were holding "Aero Express" instead. While waiting in the queue to ask exactly what that entailed we didn't want to do it unless it involved some kind of bubbly chocolate (is it just me or are half the gym classes also kinds of food... lol).

Turns out its just regular aerobics and we weren't really up for that so we gymed it for 40 minutes. Then we thought we'd go through to the weights machine room and get a hot gym advisor to show us what to do, but it turns out you have to book an appointment, and there were like none available for weeks. It's pretty rubbish. And it doesn't help that Kirsty's going to Paris on Wednesday next week for a whole week! I might go without her while she's away! Shhh :p

After discovering that we weren't really in the mood for going back to the cardio stuff so we just quite while we were ahead. I kicked ass on the stepper today though, even if I do say so myself. I'm getting used to the machines and which programmes to pick on them. The weights machines are the next step it's just going to be a little while before I can learn them and find out what I should be doing.

Got to get to class now anyway, bye for now!

Tuesday, 13 October 2009

Phone Line and the Internet

So today was the day when we were going to set up our internet! We've had the box since last week and this morning we got texted the activation code, so Gale started the whole set up procedure. But she found that the phone socket beside the piano wasn't connected properly, so she unscrewed it and slotted the little doodad in place and tried again.

No luck.

So I followed the wire to see where it went, to make sure it was a real wire. Above the kitchen door I found another phone socket which had a connecter by it but not plugged in, so we plugged that in and tried again at the piano socket.

No luck there.

Continuing to follow the cable through the kitchen I found a third socket right by the window, where the phone line comes in from outside.

Well that didn't work either - no prizes for guessing that.

So Gale tried plugging the box into the socket above the door, which was an exercise and a half as there wasn't a power socket too near by - it's right across the hallway!

You guessed it - that failed too.

I couldn't see the above-the-doorway socket to unscrew it, not from the stool anyway, would have had to get a ladder, so first I went to the more manageable one beside the kitchen window.
As soon as I unscrewed it I could see a problem. There were no wires connected to the actual socket part of the casing - so when we plugged in the cable it wasn't even attached to a broken wire! But I could see wires in there, and more screws, so I got at those as well.

I think its fair to say that on the removal of the second panel the problem was pretty clear to me.

The wire which came out from the window had 7 smaller wires inside. 2 connected to the front casing, 2 broken and tangled and 3 cut off completely.

The wire which goes from this socket to the rest of the flat (the big white cable in the above photo) had another crowd of wires - at least 5 - which were also broken off and not connected to anything - no wonder neither of the other sockets worked!

So now we need to get in a man to fix the cables. We're going to bother the landlady about it. We haven't studied the lease yet but I'm pretty sure this sort of thing is her responsibility, not ours. We're quite happy to pay line rental, but the physical line - well that's like the walls or the furniture surely - we don't get to take it with us, so we don't really deal with it, we just complain about it.

So I'm still stuck to the library unfortunately, although I am doing a lot of my reading on the laptop at home.

Hopefully it won't take too long to get sorted out and then I can get on with posting about ALL the exciting things I'm doing at the moment, not just the occasional one.

Love you all

*edit at 00.42 14th October '09 *
Apparently I was wrong. The orange and white wires which are connected to the front panel of the doodad are all we need. That's right, we has internets :) and a phone. I would photo it for you but it's not that exciting-looking.
'Night then.

Thursday, 8 October 2009

Busy Times

After all my promises about more regular updating I got off to a great start.

Then my source of internet in the flat failed and I have to come to the library again, at least until Tuesday when we should get access again. Fortunately I can bring my laptop and sit somewhere quiet rather than being tied to the hot whirring computer labs full of students having whispered conversations and laughing at YouTube.

I've been quite busy lately, socially as well as studying wise.

Gangshow on Sunday afternoon was pretty good - I had lots of fun. The only rubbish part was when we were learning this tap dance that all the girls are supposed to be doing. Watching me try to tap dance is funnier even than seeing Michael McIntyre. Well not quite, but its close. After I'd stopped stressing out about how rubbish I was and realising I'm so near the back hardly anyone will see me, it was pretty amusing. I can smile and head in the right direction. That's enough for me I think.
On Thursday (today!) it's the South East Region's first AGM (a big Scouty thing in the area) and the GangShow were asked if they could provide a little entertainment. It's only a small group going, like 15 people, and we're doing one of the numbers from the show (the very patriotic one with songs from the Proclaimers). Because its just a small group, the regular soloists aren't all going (they're busy) they had to give them to other people, just for this one off, and I got a couple lines to sing! :D Just my luck its the line about "When I get drunk..." lol

On Monday evening I was at Cubs, as usual. We were having a foreign food night so after playing a couple themed games, we tried some different things (microwave ready meals from tesco!). We had moussaka, nachos and vegetable curry. Almost everyone thought the nachos were the best (I think it was the cheese, lol) and no one like moussaka the best, although they still finished it between them! Moussaka is one of my favourites so I was a bit gutted, but never mind. Afterwards I had them all draw posters of their favourite foreign food. I don't think I've ever seen so many drawings of pizza in my life, or so many variations on the spelling!

Tuesday morning brought my first trip to the Edinburgh University Gym (well not since I went to see it during my freshers week in 2007!) I went with Kirsty, Megan and Gale, and we had a good time. We stayed for an hour so I only went on a couple different CV machines, just to suss the place out a bit. They have a separate room with all the weight machines in, but the others weren't really up for it so I didn't go look this time. Kirsty and I are going back tomorrow morning. We're hoping to get into a hula hooping class, but Rosie says their usually full unless you book in advance, so we may just stay in the gym the whole time. I'm really looking forward to it though, it's much more interesting than running, and an off-peak membership is only £60 for the full year (off-peak means before 14.30 on a week day, or any time at the weekend) so I can see myself being more diligent about gyming than I am about running.

Yesterday, Wednesday, I went to see Kirstin in the afternoon. We played a game with these tiles that had different patterns of squares on them and you had to match up trails of as many of the same coloured square as you could. She beat me. Gutted. After that I took her to McDonalds for a burger and an ice cream, then we got the bus to her youth club in Portobello.
I got back to the flat and had some home made pizza (from BBC Good Food except mine was ham and pineapple, not the topping here) then Megan, who has a pre-paid cinema card and ets Orange Wednesdays, took me to the cinema for free. We went to see the new Fame movie. It is the BEST. FILM. EVER. We were walking home and we just couldn't get over how good it was and how much we wished we had some kind of talent like the kids in the film. Neither of us could decide whether we'd rather sing or dance. But we are going to learn a dance of some sort, to show off, and for fun. Probably the Hoedown Throwdown from Hannah Montana although it looks pretty hard to learn!

So that's you all updated. Hopefully I'll drag myself to the library after the gym tomorow and before class so watch this space for my gyming and GangShowing antics!

Much love

Sunday, 4 October 2009

Chiquitos and Chiquitas

So last night we had a really good time.There were loads of us at Chiquitos, like 16 of us? And that wasn't even everyone either - some people could come, like Andy Phil, who had to go to the hospital to get his hand X-rayed!

We were sat at two different tables because there wasn't enough room for all of us at the one!
Here is the other table:

But I forgot to take a picture of everyone at my own. Finlay remembered, so I shall steal it when it gets put on facebook!

Unfortunately the service wasn't great - we didn't get our drinks for 40 minutes after we ordered them, and they came at the same time as the food,
which we'd ordered well after them. And the other table had their order taken ages before us
so they were mostly done by the time we got our food. All in all it was a bit shocking, so we didn't leave a tip. I'm sure it was just because they were really busy, so I'm not dissuaded from going back some other time. I just wouldn't go with a large party on a Saturday night!

Aside from the service the food was really good (I had shredded beef burritos and a side order of coleslaw) and we had a really good time :) Marsailidh liked her present from me, and all her other presents too. After we came back to the flat, every time someone new arrived I would totally be like "Look at the awesome thing that I made!" - I'm so not cool like that.

So yeah, like I just said, after dinner most of us came back to the flat and loads of other people pitched up too. We had the rest of the awesome cake that Mars's mum had made for her birthday, and we were mostly just hanging around chatting and laughing at people's drunken stupidity. It was good times really.

I persuaded Faisal and Kirsty that they wanted to come to see the Gangshow, so they've got front row seats on Saturday night - at seat 7 and seat 20! The only seats together were at the back or at the top, so they weren't really up for that. I'm pretty excited about it. We're going to go for tea before the show and Roisin's friends new restaurant that's opening around that time, on Lothian Road (I shall totally review it when we go!)

Here's some photoleos for your viewing pleasure :)
Me and Kirsty



Roisin and Carl

Gemma and Gale

Kirsty being TALLER than Marsailidh (this has never happened before!)

Richard, Keith, Gale and Marsailidh

Kirsty and Becky

Kirsty, Marsailidh and Kirsty

Saturday, 3 October 2009

Marsailidh's Present

I am obviously an awesome friend.

How do I justify this statement you ask? Well the amazing personal-ness of the present which I've got Marsailidh for her birthday kind of gives it away!

I made her this scrapbook page:

Click here to see more.

Then I got it printed and framed, like so:
I think you'll agree. It's awesome!!
Going to give it to here when we're out for dinner tonight. AWESOME :D

Inverter Trouble

A while ago, the screen on Chris's laptop stopped working. He took it to a computer shop but they were unable to do anything with it, so he bought a shiney new one. I begged the old computer off him, hoping that there were better computer shops in Edinburgh where I could get it fixed for less than the £335 it would have cost to get Dell to do it for us. That was way back in like May. I used the laptop with a monitor for a while but then a bumped a connector one day and that stopped working too, so I decided I'd better get round to seeing if I could get it fixed.
I packed the thing up and took it with me to various computer shops in my local area. The first guy said he would replace the screen for £200 and be done. Seemed alright but I wasn't convinced I wouldn't get a better deal else where, and the guy barely even looked at the computer to see what might be wrong. The next place I took it didn't actually do laptop repairs, and the last place said they would run a diagnostic test for £40 and see what was wrong with it. So they seemed like the best bet.
I totally meant to ask my parents for some money for it, because I was totally skint at the time, but some how it just kept slipping my mind and as the summer came I got too busy to worry about the laptop in its box gathering dust in my room.
Then came the 16th of August and I moved out my flat, finding the laptop and feeling sorry for the poor thing.
Having lugged it back across town again when I moved to my new flat two weeks later, the feelings were less of pity and more of resentment. In my new, smaller (cheaper) room, I needed to use the laptop to make it worth the storage space, and at the end of the month my student loan eventually came through.

On Thursday I took it back to that computer shop again, to see what they could do. In about 10 minutes he had determined the problem - my inverter was broken. Whatever that was. How much will that cost? £35-£70, and a labour charge to fit it. Seemed pretty good to me, compared to Dell's offer of £335!! So he got out his screwdrivers and took off the panelling around the screen. He showed me the inverter and said it was unusually attached - he was worried it was integrated into the screen so that he wouldn't be able to replace it separately. The £ signs rolled across my eyes as I thought about how much that would cost. But he found some more screws and was able to get at the back of the LCD screen, from which angle he could see that the inverter was in fact separate, and I breathed a sigh of relief as he began to screw it all back together.
He said he would order the thing and phone me when it came in, probably Monday or Tuesday. The £109 bill had to be paid in advance unfortunately, so it was rather depressing to part with all that money and still have a broken computer. It was fair enough though. If they ordered the part and I never reappeared then they'd have lost out.

So that was Thursday. You can imagine my surprise when I got a call on Friday morning to say they'd had a really fast delivery and I could bring the laptop in that very day to have the part replaced. Intending to go back to my studying, and to take the laptop in after my lecture later on, I thanked him and hung up the phone. About five minutes later I was too excited to concentrate, so headed over to the shop. I watched the guy take out all the same screws and put them all back in again like he had the day before. A quick test showed everything was fine and I was so happy I could have skipped home!!

So now I have my very own laptop to use - I'll be online a lot more now, so as long as I'm not to busy I think you'll be hearing a lot more from me.

Hope you're all very well,

Love Katie

Friday, 2 October 2009

Psychology 3

Well as I suspected there is a LOT of reading involved in my course this year. Someone once told me that you should treat your university course like a full time job, so you should do 35-40 hours a week. So I divided the time between the modules and split it up across the week, and I've got more than enough to keep me occupied.

First there's Biological Psychology - I had a lecture for it today, which was quite interesting. In terms of lecture related reading this one's easy - one chapter in a textbook covers two 2-hour lectures. Nice and simple. However, in week 7 we have a "Brain quiz" worth 25% of our grade for the module which involves drawing, labeling and describing the various bits of the brain, and research methods into brain biology. Lots to study for that. We even get to borrow model brains from the department to figure out where things go. I'm looking forward to that but my turn isn't until the 10 days before the test! arg!

Then there's Differential Psychology - this one's about individual differences, specifically in personality traits at this stage, and there is a lot of reading for this. A couple chapters in a text book, 3 or 4 compulsory journal articles and a few extras, for each lecture. Some lectureres might give more or less than others so i'm hoping it eases of later in the term! Fortunately there's only the one final exam for this course, so nothing in particular to stress about until much later on.

Tuesdays is Social Psychology, which is actually pretty interesting. At the moment we're looking at social comparison, and how everyone tends to rate themselves at being better than the average person on any particular dimensions. In other words, most people think that they are nicer than the average person, but obviously this can't be true because we can't all be above the average, some people have to be below! Its called the better-than-average effect (no points for imagination) and the various bits of research and theory that have gone towards explaining it are very interesting although they can be confusing at times! Reading for this course is 4 or 5 articles per lecture, for all the lectures this year, although we do get a week off with this class, which is nice.

Methodology is certainly not the worst for reading, but two hour statistics lectures are rough. I need to re-learn how to use the statistics programme, SPSS, before next term when we have to do practical projects, because lets just say it wasn't my strong point last year! Although there isn't much reading for these lectures, you do have to spend some time going over things to understand the formulas and how to do it in SPSS and what it actually means and what its actually for and all that kind of thing. We get some demonstrations as well as just lectures so they should help clarify things.

By far the heaviest work and reading load is, however, the literature review, which is worth twice as many course credits as each of the other modules, and is almost completely private study. We get three one hour tutorials on it, and are expected to hand in a 5000 word review by the last week of term. Rough! Fortunately i managed to get the topic that I really wanted: "Can mental imagery help treat movement disorders and/or limb pain?" You may find that as term goes on and I start to try and make sense of all the articles and "synthesise" them together i start ranting on about it here - I'll try to make them as lay-person friendly as possible, they might make interesting reading, and you all can constructively criticise my writing. Obviously I can't put up sections from the report until after its marked, but you can give me pointers on things which aren't making any sense.

Anyway, enough about me and my degree, how are you all?

love Katie