Tuesday, April 24, 2007

The milk of human kindness, OR, Grant is yet again a victim of his own efficiency

So when last I wrote, dastardly foreign types (NOT EVEN COLONIALS!) had stolen our bag, and the police thought we had our own and Buckley's of ever getting it back.

However, as it happened, the very next day a kindly gentleman found the bag and some of its contents (spare camera battery and PASSPORT but not phone and glasses). He called the Australian High Commission and told them he had found the passport and was handing it in to the police. Please take a moment to think kind thoughts about this guy.

Then NOTE that his kindly efforts to spare us administrative torture were in vain, because:
  1. Australian High Commission didn't bother even taking a stab at trying to contact us, even though they could at least have traced us to Jen's address. In fact, we only found out they knew when we went in this morning in person (losing two hours of Grant's handsome hourly rate) and they basically said "oh, that was the one that was getting handed in. Now fork over the cash";
  2. The gentleman's call and apparently the handing in of the goods happened BEFORE I called the police to add the passport to the list but after our initial crime complaint, but the police didn't call me when it was handed in OR today despite having clearly cross-referenced it to the crime report (the one was stuck to the other); and
  3. because of (1) and (2), GRANT HAD ALREADY CANCELLED THE PASSPORT which meant that HE STILL HAD TO PAY FOR A NEW ONE. But he's very efficient, and in fact he was only doing exactly what the High Commission says to do (ie cancel missing passports immediately to avoid identity theft, although how they steal your ID using a photo passport I have no idea) from which you can deduce that the High Commission is HUGE on financially punishing people for following instructions.
There shall be a strongly worded letter, you mark my words, at least as soon as I can find some form of actual contact address hidden in the bowels of their website. As an aside, I think their conduct means they do not deserve Anzac Day off, but they're getting it anyway.

Today, Grant called the British Home Office to get the other side of the bad news, namely visa replacement fees. They said £160 for 4-14 weeks processing JUST TO TRANSFER THEIR EXISTING RECORDED VISA TO THE NEW PASSPORT or £500 for immediate processing. At this point I like to imagine Grant went red in the face, but probably he just stayed his usual polite self. Grant then mentioned that he still had the original, and the response went something
like "oh well, just carry both the passports then. Not a bother."

Note well, Australian High Commission: British Home Office (a) answers phone using actual humans; and (b) does not attempt to profiteer off misfortune of others. I think there is something in that for all of us.

But on the plus side, they keys weren't left with the bag so we did the right thing in changing the locks.

Other news of the weekend: we walked a jetlagged Rohan and Narelle mercilessly around our 'hood, incl. Portobello Markets, every park we could find, Kensington High Street and the west end of the city. Grant will no doubt post pix soon. It was actually a really lovely weekend with a really stinking awful ending. Today Ral and I headed into the National Portrait Gallery, spent five seconds in the National Gallery, and had a wee stroll around the river, before heading home to our respective housewifely duties. Now I am going to do something very exciting, like buy stamps.

Monday, April 23, 2007

That would be the other shoe dropping

Many times we have been warned about petty thieves in the UK (which when you think about it is to be expected, given that they were the source of a large chunk of Australian "immigration" at one point). And many times this has proven heavily exaggerated. And so we got cocky; and so I dared to leave a bag slung over the back of my chair between Grant and I and in the back of the dining area of a mostly-empty pub; and so that bag was stolen. Rohan and Narelle had seen some odd looking folks change tables to be nearer us, and who had looked like they were leaving until we sat down, but it wasn't clear until later what had been going on.

The best part? The bag didn't have our wallets in it, or our camera, and I had a spare key to the flat in my pocket. The worst part? It had the following things which are absolutely useless to a thief but really expensive to replace:
  1. mobile phone (now IMEI locked and therefore useless) - only six months old and with all Grant's phone numbers, natch;
  2. door key - which meant the lock had to be replaced, as we both think the aforementioned phone may have had SMS content identifying our address. Super landlord, when I called him to get permission for the lock change, happened to have a spare lock barrel and volunteered to come around within the hour to replace it. Unfortunately, thanks to the door having been designed to withstand a frontal assault from a battering ram - a very likely problem for a bedsit, I think we can agree - and the three point locking mechanism meant he couldn't get it in. Therefore, I had to call a locksmith, and it being a complex change had to pay 82 QUID to get it installed. And that was the CHEAP estimate. Don't get me started on a country in which a 20 minute job can be charged out at 120 QUID; even I didn't charge that much!;
  3. Grant's old prescription sunglasses, which are barely good to Grant anymore, but still damned expensive to buy replacements for. And even so, we thought we were doing all right - were in fact even patting ourselves on the back about how it could have been so much worse - until we realised the final item left in the bag and therefore nicked.
  4. Namely, GRANT'S PASSPORT with WORK VISA. This is great, because not only do they make you pay the ridiculous passport application fee (80 quid) again, they also make you pay a penalty fee (for being ROBBED) *AND* it looks like you have to pay the whole visa application fee again *and* resubmit all the original supporting documents even though you are already in the UK with the kind permission of Her Majesty. I know I am a closet anarchist but this just looks to me like bureaucratic feeding off the misfortune of others. I would NOT like to be in the position of desperately needing the help of the Australian High Commission in this country, let me tell you.
So, my lack of vigilance for half an hour has cost us in excess of GBP250 and climbing fast. That is money we barely clawed back from the edge thanks to Grant working like a DOG last month. It is *more than a tenth of our monthly income*. We have both felt rather weepy about it. It certainly could have been much worse, and it is a cheap enough price at which to learn CONSTANT VIGILANCE, but life is seeming mighty unfair right now. And it seems like if we have to lose so much in cash terms, then someone else should get a corresponding benefit from the crime, but the reality is that all of our stuff would have been chucked in the nearest bin within seconds of the crime and subsequent discovery of the uselessness thereof (and OK, I get a bit of a thrill thinking about that), particularly given the presence of the incriminating passport.

Anyway, we are all fine and unhurt; we lost nothing that could not be replaced relatively easily although at some expense; and we have the cash to clear it without having to live off rice and beans, even though Grant's toy fund will now be sorely depleted. We also now know:
  1. the UK Police pretend to be more helpful than the Australian High Commission, particularly as they actually answer the phone with humans. They took a detailed report. I said "Look, am I right none of this stuff is ever going to show up?" The cop responded "Miracles sometimes happen, but usually not." They are good at looking busy and offering counselling though, and we had already done everything they suggested (IMEI lock, door lock replacement, etc);
  2. the Australian High Commission would sooner leave you in Guantanamo Bay without trial for five years than actually have a human being answer the phone, even if they are going to charge you like a wounded bull for a passport;
  3. a bartender who responds to "My bag's been stolen" with "You should have been more careful" is an idiot, but the day can be saved by a publican who seemed genuinely concerned and helpful about a theft in his establishment (actually, it was a nice pub with good artisan beer and competent food up until that point);
  4. ALWAYS KEEP ALL YOUR LIMBS WOVEN THROUGH YOUR BAG AT ALL TIMES, and preferably set up some kind of perimeter alarm, perhaps with dogs.
Oh yeah, and the bag also had a Harrods apron, a dinged up red drink bottle and a tea infuser with a total street value approaching 50p. ENJOY, GUYS.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

More London awesomeness

London awesomeness update:
  1. This is really a very good Mexican joint: www.crazyhomieslondon.co.uk/food.html. They accidentally brought out my main (tacos with shrimp, black beans and guacomole, REALLY TASTY) with the entree nachos, which turned out great because for once I didn't finish eating eight hours after Grant "the trick is not to chew" Donnelly. Plus I got to steal his food (chicken enchiladas, rice and beans, also REALLY TASTY) for a change. Crazy Homies, we salute you! However, given that they were jam packed on a Wednesday night at 7pm so that we had to eat at an eeny table in the bar, I don't think we'll chance it on a weekend. I should add they had a chandelier made out of about 10 bendy-arm spring lamps, all with lightbulbs that changed colour, and if that doesn't sell the place to you I don't know what will.
  2. This guy is all over the English stations (well, Capital and BBC1, anyway), on account of his extreme awesomeness: http://www.mikasounds.com/uk.php. He's like Freddy Mercury reborn with a dash of Robbie Williams. I DEFY you not to bop to "Grace Kelly" and "Love Today." Of course, I've also been listening to N.E.R.D. endlessly lately so it may be that London has just given me a higher tolerance for bitches and hos-type music than I previously possessed.
  3. Sunset happened after 8.30pm today. I totally forgive this country for the travesty of 4pm pitch black over winter. I am a little worried about high summer. The way things are heading, the sun will in fact never go down, Iceland-style.
  4. It was another beautiful day today, and I got to spend a decent chunk of it in the pretty park which comprises Russell Square at a nice outdoor study group with some of my fellow students. It went quite well, and seems like it might be useful for everyone concerned. Certainly everyone was keen to meet again next week. We are working through past papers, and it is good to have the ability to bounce ideas off people or even just go through the motions together, as well as something to motivate me in going through said papers in the first place. I must say, past paper work is going better in trade marks now than it did over the Christmas break for copyright, where my efforts to do a past exam question that should have taken 1 hour under exam conditions took about 10. I'm now tracking rather better, although it is still taking me about 1.5 hours per question WITH access to materials I won't have in exams, but it is reassuring to be making some progress. Well, I did one last week as a term assignment that took about 8 hours but as I wrote a 3,500 word treatise on the subject that is sort of forgiveable, I think. Anyway, it was rather nice to hang out with some folks in a study group after spending a largely solitary holidays indoors with the textbooks.
  5. I have wool. WOOL! And I've relearned how to knit "blind" while reading - the talent that produced quite a few jumpers in my undergraduate years with titles like "contracts jumper" - and am knitting a simple openwork shawl while I study. I am pretty chuffed with my newfound ability to knit k2tog without looking, let me tell you, even if it did mean I had to spend about half an hour fixing a bunch of mistakes at the start of this week so I could knit while reading (cleverly, I have already reprogrammed my brain so once again I can't read without knitting). I am on track to finish it just in time for a sweltering summer.
  6. Grant adds the AWESOME point that he is taking Friday off. Sometimes I think of how excited I would be at a whole day off work and then freak out a little, because short of retirement I am unlikely to have this kind of freedom again ever. However, I must say that the study gig is no cakewalk; I get to spend all of my time either studying or feeling guilty for avoiding study, after all. But there is rather more sleeping in, which is also awesome.
I hope all of your weeks are also progressing in a BIG WITH AWESOME fashion.

Monday, April 16, 2007

Summertime, and the living is easy (OR, early spring and the weather is summery)

So. It's been 24 C for three days. TWENTY-FOUR! T-shirt weather, in April! It feels kind of summery. Or at least hotter than I remember it being in early spring back home. Global warming is not all bad, as Jeremy Clarkson of Top Gear fame has sagely noted.

Hence,, our usual weekend hikes were rather sweatier than usual. On Saturday, we decided to go to Regent's Park, both for the purposes of chicken tikka wraps in the Church Street markets and to see whether the formal gardens were looking appropriately bling.

They were:

Those are some very, very fancy tulips, indeed (at the end of the main promenade). And just in time to make up for the the fluffy white tree things which are no longer in bloom. The fluffy pink trees have also stepped in to take up the slack.

Regent's Park also has some genuine black swans. They look like home. At the moment, it also has a population of about 100,000 half naked people carpeting the grass, but this seems to be de rigeur for the season.

On the way home by the canal, we came across this tragic casualty.

It was a lovely day, and we both came home with the teeniest stripes of pink skin on our arms, being apparently newfound English people without our former Australian leather hides to protect us - and all after skipping only one summer! Thank God we wore hats. I think I'm going to have to rethink the "sunscreen is for sissies" approach to the Northern Hemisphere.

On Sunday we had grand master plans to do a day trip from every tourist's bible "25 Day Trips From London," with St Albans (Roman ruins) and Rochester (Norman ruins) on the shortlist. However, Thameslink trains were out until 11am and Grant took advantage of my morning weakness - plus the fact that we were both already wilting in the heat at 11am - to suggest that we just hang around locally instead. Hence, we contented ourselves with a circuit of Kensington Palace Gardens (or KPG as Grant now calls it, being jiggy with the language of the young people) and Hyde Park, both of which also had a carpet of half-naked folks (ditto, Princess Di memorial fountain/human cooling device, Hyde Park). People were not, however, hot enough to risk microbial infection swimming in the Serpentine pool thing. Again, another beautiful day even if it was stinking hot, which on the other hand did provide an excuse to spend the rest of the day watching sci-fi DVDs flaked out in bed. By the way, that is totally one of the main advantages of the bedsit way of life.

Another gratuitous flower shot, this from the gigantic wisteria around the corner:

Classy, eh?

Uni-wise I have had a bit of a patchy week. I started and finished my holiday trade mark assignment on Friday which I thought was a reasonable effort. However, it is 3,500 words long - roughly twice the usual limit for this sort of task. I am certainly not going to admit the length to my tutor, since it is his damn fault for not setting a word limit. Anyway, as my thesis demonstrates, I am incapable of producing a short piece on anything. I have been avoiding my copyright assignment since I think it is kind of silly and a waste of time. I would much rather do an essay, but instead I am stuck with the job of cross-referencing international treaties. YAY. I have also been avoiding my thesis for the last fortnight, since I have had more pressing demands on my time, but I always think this is something of a mistake since I end up in chronic self-doubt mode if I don't work on it fairly regularly (as Grant will attest, having heard me moan about it all weekend), plus it takes me a while to get back up to speed when I get back on the job, given that the subject is MAXIMUM EXTREME THEORY, just for fun. I comfort myself with the fact that I THINK my supervisor would have mentioned something somewhere in the last 23,000 words if he thought I was completely off the track or an idiot. However, maybe he just wants to leave it to the last minute to maximise shock value.

Anyway, today I barely managed some futzing around with German copyright law. I'm still not up to speed with copyright and it vexes me. I think I am doing a little better with the other two subjects, the main problem being that they are both more interesting than copyright, which let's face it, would not be hard.

I've organised a study group for this week, and it will be interesting to see how many of the promised attendees actually show. Hopefully it will make it more palatable to get working on the past papers. Exams are in August. It seems like a long time away, especially since I only have 7 weeks of class between now and then and the rest is time off, but it's never too early to panic, right?

In other news, I finally managed to make decent bean burgers yesterday, by dint of actually following the recipe properly instead of stuffing around with it. Who'd a thunk? Alison Holst, I salute you, and your thrifty meal ideas! Also, today proved my housewife street cred by baking an apple cake. It is a bit eggy (how could you let me down, Alison Holst?) but it's OK.

Ro and Ral are arriving shortly. Hurray! More tourist times ahead.

Steps: 85,000 last week (at .6m per step, more than 40km), only about 5,000 for today though.
Thesis: don't touch it, and it can't get longer, right? I don't know. It's kind of like Shroedinger's thesis. If I don't open it to do a word count, it could theoretically have less words.
Bike: zip - my head hangs in shame
Prolix trade mark assignments: ONE.
Vitamin D absorbed through sweet, sweet sun exposure: quite a lot, I think.

5 by 5

The intention to ride was always there... It was definitely NOT my intention to leave the bike untouched for months in the hallway!

Lack of financial incentive (a pound each way in the tube didn't hurt enough), cold weather, and the pedometer challenge kept me on public transport, but there was finally some incentive to not catch the tube.

The first was some sort of catastrophe which stopped the train at White City. I had to get out and catch a bus/walk the rest of the way to work. This one was particularly annoying as White City is *almost* close enough for me to walk to - it is actually closer as the crow flies than Holland Park station, but due to motorway and rails I can't get straight there...
To put the distance to White City into context, see the map below. I ride beside the Grand Union Canal for a short stretch, which is kind of nice (much better than cars, anyway!):

The second was Easter Monday. As is tradition, the various rail networks did copious amounts of track work. I was covering shift on the Monday (which subsequently turned out to be unnecesary, but anyway). This meant a 7am start. Unfortunately the trains weren't starting until 9am...

The net result was I finally found out that riding to work takes only 25 minutes. The tube (with walking at either end) takes 40min. Not a very difficult decision! However, I may actually be doing less exercise now than when I was catching the tube. Even worse is the severe drop in steps since riding to work - only 69k steps last week!

Anyway, it is good to be back on the bike, and riding to work 5 days in a row is something I never achieved back home, so I'm pretty chuffed with that. And you can shut up about my commute being only a flat 6km!

Quite a few new photo galleries have been uploaded. Additionally, Marilyn sent us a little Easter parcel which included some developed photos from 2004! It was our trip to Alice Springs with Jason and Alex, and can be found here.

Rohan and Narelle arrive Friday, so I will have to get my liver prepared!


Monday, April 09, 2007

A good Friday (and a good Saturday and Sunday)

Now do you believe me when I say it's Spring? Note the small blueish flowers in the picture. A woman was testing a toddler on his colours, and asked him what colour they were. He thought about it, and said blue. She said, as if he were stupid: "No, purple!" And OK (a) given his age, near enough would be good enough - what did she want him to say? Indigo? Lilac? and (b) THEY ARE BLUE! THE FLOWERS ARE BLUE, LADY!

As it turns out, Grant is not going to go to hell as he took Good Friday off work. On the other hand, the English service industry is totally going to hell, as the pubs were open not only on Good Friday but also on Easter Sunday. Apparently Jesus Christ died that we might all have a cold one, or in the case of bitters an appealingly coolish but not cold one.

Anyway, on Good Friday I had lunch with Jen in Kensington and went for a nice stroll through the Kensington Palace Gardens in the sunshine afterwards on my way home. There were a lot of half-naked people about for the purposes of Vitamin D absorption. It was AWESOME. On the way home I discovered that the Portobello Road markets were indeed running (of course, it being Good Friday), so Grant and I then had a stroll about and a sit in the Portobello Green, an attractive strip park which runs in the glorious shadow of the A40 Notting Hill overpass. Very pleasant. We had dinner at a fairly decent Moroccan restaurant. TAGINES. And since it was a textbook spring evening, we had a bit of a stroll about afterwards. I managed a mighty 25,000 steps for the day - 12+km.

On Saturday we exploded part of Grant's paypacket at Westbourne Grove and Bayswater in the form of:
  1. a BRAND SPANKING NEW KNIFE AND STEEL (slices, dices and juliennes). We have been getting by with a Woolworths jobbie, and the new knife is so sharp and so beautiful it makes me weep while cooking for reasons other than the housewifery-sucks kind. All foods are as butter unto the Knife of Loz!
  2. ACTUAL WALKING SHOES FOR GRANT WITH A SWOOSH ON THEM, since he had worn through the soles of the last Australian pair. Did we mention we've been doing quite a bit of walking lately?
  3. DIM SUM. We really miss the proper yum cha deal with the little carts and whatnot, but you still get dumplings with dim sum so I guess it's tolerable.
You can see that we've forgotten how to shop properly, since all of the above is either super useful or actually edible. A little bit of a forced break from rampant consumerism Sydney-style has done us good. That said, we're about to explode some more pounds sterling (TREMBLE AT THE POWER OF THE GBP!) at Ground Effect for bike clothes, because the three pairs of knicks and three cycling jerseys I have here just aren't enough.

Plans to hit the movies on Saturday evening stalled especially when Grant rediscovered his addiction to Civilisation III and found himself playing an island with no mineral resources. Harsh.

Sunday we were very slow getting started, but eventually decided to have a bit of a walk to SOUTH OF THE RIVER (gasp!) via Hammersmith. We were a bit worried about lunch facilities, but of course everything was open. We ended up having lunch at an Iranian place in Barnes which was actually really damned good, plus they felt so guilty about the tiniest of waits for the food that they plied us with free desserts and whatnot. Iranian food is much like Lebanese is much like [insert name of Gulf country here] but do not tell them I said so. We went past a set of allotments and a woman seeing us staring longingly through the fence let us in and gave us a tour. It was a very impressive set-up. GBP25/year for a 10x18m plot on good English soil with good English rainfall; I don't think you'd have to buy groceries ever. However, the waiting list is something like 10 years so I guess I don't get to have one, sadly. Probably just as well as I tend to kill or lose to infestation most food crops.

We walked along the Thames River walk via Wandsworth and Putney back over Putney Bridge to Fulham, where we accidentally found another palace. This one is Fulham Palace, home of various bishops; the grounds are a very lackadaisical botanical gardens, and include an 80+ year old wisteria vine and a 500 year old robur ilex or very weird looking oak tree, apparently the oldest in England. You can make that sort of claim here since (a) it's small enough that I'm sure they've found all the oaks by now and (b) they know it's 500 years old because great-great-great (etc) grandpa planted it on June 16 1532 and wrote a little note to that effect in his illuminated diary. Fulham is rather nice, or at least that part is. But it isn't chavvy enough, plus it's dangerously close to south of the river and even has an SW postcode, so clearly we can't live there.

We also abandoned movie plans on Sunday night due to the fact that after a 25,000 step walk (jeebus), we were not about to go to Shepherds Bush and back. It was a lovely walk though, and there was sunshine aplenty, to the point where I actually have a slight different coloured skin line on my neck now. I think my people may call it a tan. I didn't expect to have to wear sunscreen here - they have an actual ozone layer and all - but may have to change my reckless disregard to UV a little.

All up I walked 60,000 steps in 3 days over the weekend. A little under 30km. Those hiking holidays are seeming more doable.

Grant rode to work today for the first time ever. His usual walk to station + train + walk from station commute is 45 mins. By bike it took him 20 mins, or 30 mins including change time, so he's thinking the last 5 months of train commuting may have been a trifle misconceived. I'm trying to convince him to try riding in work clothes but he is resisting due to Perspiration Issues, thus meaning he is spending more time getting changed than actually riding, but who am I to argue?

Thesis words this week: zip. Still working on a way to finish it without adding words.
Steps this week: 4K; last week 95K BWAHAHAHAHA! First time I've beaten Grant in a while.
Cycling ks this week: zip, but Grant has managed a few.

Thursday, April 05, 2007

Sunshine, lollipops, springtime, et al

It's spring again! 2007 has been very generous with breaking of springs. We must be up to Spring 4 by now, which I believe in Hollywood parlance might be called Spring Returns. Or possibly Son of Spring. In any case, it's sunny, and we've had a new floral attack (tranche 1 is daffodils, followed rapidly by tranche 2: crocuses or is that croci?, tranche 3: magnolias, baby!) which is a weird fluffy white tree thing with no leaves as yet. Very fancy, as if mother nature had decided to arrange a non-stop flower show with lots of variety. Also, the horse chestnut trees, or I THINK that is what they are, are getting their new leaves at last.

There may be something in the crazy N. Hemisphere view that seasons are counted between equinoxes rather than just by months. It doesn't matter so much back home as the weather doesn't really match seasonal patterns anyway, but here it is true that the trees didn't lose their leaves until early December, it didn't get cold until Christmas, and it's only now really getting properly warm and new-leaf spring-y.

And because I can't go for five seconds without thinking about my thesis, I had a meeting with my supervisor this week. He still likes the draft. In fact he apparently likes it even more than last time, which makes me suspicious, because frankly if people refuse to say bad things about my work I kind of assume they are biased or lying or worse still completely incapable of seeing just how awful my thesis really is and how far it is falling short of my completely unrealistic standards of what it should be. For example, I would like people to cry while reading it due to the lyricism of its academic prose, and no-one has done so yet. Possibly they are being distracted by the weight of its 180+ footnotes (still lagging behind - my undergrad Honours thesis for law had nearly 400 footnotes).

However, he does want it to be no longer than 20K words. So I then asked what read as verbose/what could be cut. Whereupon he answered that nothing read as verbose, in fact he liked the way it read, and that nothing could be cut. So what I am looking for is some kind of device that will conceal words from a word count and yet nevertheless enable them to be read. I will let you know how I get on with that.

He also tried to convince me to do a PhD. I explained the few issues there might be with that, including:
  1. Australia is a long way from Queen Mary;
  2. I am about to hop back on that sweet, sweet full-time work bandwagon, with its piled high heaps of cash and its TOTAL ABSENCE OF WEEKEND GUILT FOR NOT STUDYING, and they won't just ask me to write less, they'll PAY me to write less!
  3. I have really had enough studying for the time being. I had my moments of incompetence as a lawyer but most of the time I knew I was good at my job and I knew that because I rarely had to look for the answer, clients paid bills, lawyers sought my advice, and once a month my company gave me a healthy cash injection by way of thanks. I *think* I am OK at this academic caper but it really doesn't have enough constant reassurance for an ego-driven praise junkie like me.
I wouldn't mind doing one in the longer term. We'll see. It would take so long while working full-time that I can't really stand to think about it. I would be lucky to manage it in under 6 years, and the number of times you'd have to refresh research over that period doesn't really bear thinking about.

I didn't get into the US 2-week study program. I have my doubts about the selection criteria used based on people I know who were selected (who are very nice people, but that is not the point). Possibly they don't like my delightful personality or possibly they thought I wouldn't get much out of the program given existing experience with US law or because of my Australian rather than European background, or possibly they went with the others for Reason X. Who knows, but I don't see how they could have selected those they did on the basis of greater knowledge of IP law. For Pete's sake, the copyright lecturer thought I was a copyright lawyer. THAT is how well I can fake it, people. BUT ANYWAY I WILL GET OVER IT.

Grant has been enjoying his week of 9-5 days so much that he is working on Good Friday. I'm sorry, Grant's loved ones, but he's going straight to hell. Various visa-related realisations may however cool his ardour for work a little. These include:
  1. we are about to be actually, for real, financially-solvent British-style, a rather impressive feat considering that last month his efforts paid off in one fell swoop the remaining hefty GBP1,000 left of my student fees AND kept us fed and housed and in copious DVDs, and even more impressive considering that %$! contracting company effectively withheld several weeks' pay last month.
  2. according to my uni, the British consulate apparently accidentally gave me too short a visa - should have been for four months after September, which is more time to sort out plans, and more importantly some time to work up a storm, assuming I can get a job!
  3. we might be able to wriggle something for him to hang off a visa application I file - have to chat to Uni's immigration consultant about that next week. About time I started using the boatload of international student support services that presumably justify the higher fees I pay compared to EU students (wait, let's think about that - most of them are ESL - I speak the language and come from the same legal system - NOW who costs more to support?). I may be able to get them to do most of the legwork on a visa which would be sweeeeeet. And bless the UK, because in between torturing people with overwrought bureaucracy and really really long signage, they do occasionally produce tasty new one-year post-student work visas JUST in time for me to use them.
We don't have any big plans for the weekend other than yum cha/dim sum in Bayswater, probably on Saturday. I'd like to do a day trip but opening hours in regional UK might be chancy at this time of year. Maybe we'll just do the usual stroll about routine. I will miss the usual big Sunday family Easter lunch, but hopefully you'll all save me some for next year.

I'm really missing Queenie this week, not least because of some chicken scraps we had this week that I had to THROW OUT, so if anyone has / can take some photos, send them through.

Happy birthdays for this week to aunts Franny and Susan (in that order) - cards are in the mail :)

Steps this week: embarrassing, not talking about it. I think I would be doing way better if Queenie were here.
Bike kms: ditto
Thesis words: the horror
Actual holiday accomplishments: I worked out how to make a pot pie, but I used bought pastry. Does that count? Also, I performed a loaves and fishes miracle with a chicken (3 dinners - roast dinner, soup, and pot pies; lunch for two - sandwiches).

Monday, April 02, 2007

He made it!

So, Grant has survived an epic 2 week journey to self awareness via extreme sleep deprivation aka shiftwork, which culminated in a heroic 72 hour week finishing at 7.30am Sunday - and, being a glutton for punishment, he's back in the office today for the usual 9-5 grind. Did I mention he's done all this while I've been on holidays? Talk about adding insult to injury.

To his credit, evil nightshift Grant did not make an appearance. Not even a single irrational temper tantrum was had.

Anyway, as a result life has been relatively unadventurous around here lately. I spent my first week of holidays doing exactly what I do the rest of the time, ie. reading reading reading until the bleeding of the eyeballs. Oh yeah, and writing writing writing until the bleeding of the fingertips. Thesis has now cracked 22,000 words (for those playing home game: word limit 15,000 words, oops). Thesis supervisor has commented gamely that it's "like a mini M.Phil or PhD" by which I think he means "FOR THE LOVE OF GOD, STOP WRITING!" The BEST part is that I have another 3 months to work on the thing, including the rest of April off and half of June.

We did go for a nice stroll around Holland Park and environs yesterday. Spring is indeed in the air. T-shirt weather, which means it will probably snow tomorrow. Highlight of the walk was a small child, 4 tops, scootering towards us on the footpath, with giant crowds everywhere. He said something which I did not think he could possibly have said. However, Grant confirmed it. Yes, the 4 year old in a park in the midst of GBP2.5million houses and tertiary-educated nannies instructed me to "move my f---ing arse." THIS WAS NOT IN THE BROCHURE ABOUT ENGLAND. Furthermore, HE WAS THE ONE SCOOTERING AT ME. If anything, HE should have moved his f---ing arse.

Actually, the nicest part of the walk was the usual admiration of 150 year old palatial mansions that is our usual weekend passtime. There but for the GBP2000/week rent we go.

Not sure what we are doing for Easter break. Grant is trying to work it, because he is an unstoppable machine as several of his underlings have apparently admiringly commented. We might try to fit in a couple of day trips, but I'm not sure that regional England will be open to feed us if we do.

Steps this week: 3500. Shut up, it's only Monday morning! 85Kish last week.
Thesis words this week: 2500 if you count 7 days back. I don't want to talk about it (I'm not TRYING to write a textbook, honest).
Cycle km: none last week. Tch.
Sunshine exposed to and resulting effect on mood: several hours; bouncing off walls. It's good stuff, sun. You forget that back home, what with the fact it wants to give you skin cancer.