Catch Up If You Can

I fully intended to write an entry for yesterday, but after spending an hour in a very uncomfortable position in the back of a bus, I spent most of the night lying down with severe back pain. If I’m still here next Christmas, remind me not to go anywhere near the mall until after the holidays are over.

I appear to have passed at least one course this year, according to the UNC StudentCentral system. A P grade (budget cuts have forced Chapel Hill to grade only with the letters H, P, L, and F), which suits me fine. All I have to do now is finish the report for the other course, and I’ll be finished for the semester.

Which leads, ferrofluidicly, to a question for the Bicester people: are we organising a night out before Christmas? I probably won’t be able to do anything on Wednesday due to extreme jet-lag, and Thursday I’m going to be feeding my sister’s obsession by seeing a few members of the New Zealand army run around in the rain, but as I far as I know, I’m free for any days except those two.

Another interesting link! A huge interview with Gary Kurtz, producer of Star Wars, American Graffiti, Two-Lane Blacktop, and The Empire Strikes Back. I love film history.

Continuing the film theme, I heard a new theory about the end of A.I. today. Consider this a spoiler warning. According to this theory, the robots at the end of the film lied to David; they couldn’t bring his mother back from the dead. They also knew that the love he had for Monica was David’s only function. So they created a simulation for him to spend the day with, and then quietly killed him while he slept. While I never subscribed to the view that the ending was a happy one in the first place, that’s just depressing. Bonnie, you can stop crying now. Just think of the hobbits. But don’t think about how the film on Thursday is going to end. I’m not helping, am I?

Al Gore is presenting Saturday Night Live tonight. Quite strange, although I see that Charles Kennedy hosted Have I Got News For You yesterday. Maybe it’s the new in-thing for left-leaning politicians?

Don’t forget - Mark Radcliffe is presenting the Top 40 tomorrow on Radio 1 from 16:00 until 19:00 (or if you’re like me and currently living in the East Coast of America, 11:00-14:00) . I doubt he’s going to be playing his “At Least Four Good Songs!” jingle, but it should be amusing nonetheless. Westwood is January 5th…

currently playing: Aimee Mann - Invisible Ink

North Carolina BBQ

Hmm. The taste of vinegar. Actually quite nice after you get over the initial shock.

Today’s presentation was quite bizarre. My partner suggested, with about five minutes to go, that I should do the presentation. His reasoning was fairly sound; his native language is Chinese, while mine is supposedly English. Still, I was working under the assumption that he was going to do it, so I hadn’t committed his slides to memory. I ended up giving a talk that felt (to me, anyway) that each slide was as new to me as it was to the professor.

Just to make things worse, we discovered a fatal flaw in our program about thirty minutes before the presentation was about to start. As it was highly likely to show up in the demonstration, I admitted our problems right at the start. We stumbled through showing the professor a few success cases and some failure cases. At any minute I was expecting him to fail us on the spot. But he didn’t. In fact, he seemed reasonably happy with everything. Quite strange.

After the hour was up, I bumped into him again as I was leaving the building. He said that he’d heard that I was thinking about dropping out of the course, and wanted to assure me I was making good progress on his course. Which was a very nice thing for him to say.

My replacement hard drive finally arrived this morning. Firewire goodness! Although I do feel a bit cheated; the website said that the drive could be powered through the Firewire bus, but the manual doesn’t mention anything about that (and the text on the box that says that Firewire power can be used has been marked out with a black pen). Which is a bit annoying, as I intended to use it on the plane to watch a few Cowboy Bebop episodes (I’ve almost finished the series). On the other hand, it has meant that I’ve been able to get my Linux partition up and running again. I’m currently copying all 15Gb of my music collection onto the new drive (as most of it is currently on the bad drive), so I’ll be able to have access to everything no matter whether I’m in Linux, Windows 2000, or using my iBook. Bwahahahahahahaha!

currently playing: The Pogues - Fairytale of New York

Jolly Boots of DOOOM!

Not enough Gir for my liking, but it was a nice finale.

Finished marking the final homework. Mind you, I’ve still got the exam to look forward to on the flight home.

Six days to go….six days to go…six days to go…

currently playing: Cat Power - Werewolf

Ari Fleischer Syndrome

From the BBC:

Former Deputy Prime Minister Lord Heseltine says Tory MPs should defy the party’s grassroots members and choose someone else to lead them in Parliament.
Otherwise, he warns in a newspaper interview, the party will not have “a ghost of a chance of winning at the next election”.

A Tory spokesman said Lord Heseltine had said similar things when William Hague was leader.
“We regard this as nothing new at all,” the spokesman added.

Do you want to tell them, or shall I?

Most of these blog-type things are often full of links to interesting things that people have found on the Internet. For the most part, I don’t do a lot of this, preferring instead to bore you rigid with tales of what I had for tea and whether the supermarket had any grapes (it didn’t, in case you were wondering). Anyway, here’s an interesting link (okay, it’s probably not that interesting unless you like reading about Irish poets. And maybe not even then. You can see why I don’t do this sort of thing more often) about the contradictory nature of Tom Paulin (linked via Bookslut (and yes, watching Paulin and Greer battle on Late Review is wonderful. Easily worth half the licence fee)).

Surprisingly, the rumour that Sony is going to be swallowing Marvel and eliminating the Marvel Universe (in favour of the new Ultimate titles) doesn’t bother me like it would have done a few years ago. I like endings. Especially if they’re done properly. I wonder if Neil Gaiman’s 1602 project will have anything to do with all this (as it should be out some time next year). Or they could just get Priest to write all the titles for a month :-).

Grrr. There’s a new Buffy episode on the 17th. And I will be over the Atlantic when it airs. CURSE YOU, UPN! DOOM UPON YOUR HOUSE! And suchlike.

currently playing: The Flaming Lips - The Gash

Not Enough Gun

Do I really want to go back to a country that can allow this to happen? You’ve got some explaining to do…

currently playing: Saint Etienne - How We Used To Live

Revenge of the Natives

What I should have realised about the past few days when everyone was making such a fuss about impending snow was that they were being serious. I woke up this morning to find myself without any power. Shortly afterwards, I remembered that I was supposed to go shopping today.

After spending three hours walking all over Chapel Hill and Carrboro, and taking a ride to the outskirts on one of the only bus services running, I found that almost everywhere was closed. However, I did discover that the bus driver lived in Britain when he was a child. And he dropped me back off in Franklin Street with a few recommendations on what might be open. I then spent an hour in a queue at a sandwich shop (one of only four shops open in the town. Even McDonald’s was closed), managed to get back to my room without being crushed by falling trees, and ate the sandwich. Then I remembered (too late, of course) that Americans enjoy putting half a jar of mayonnaise on anything related to bread. So I spent most of the afternoon feeling extremely unwell.

A suggestion to my fine American friends - pylons. Big hulking metal structures that laugh in the face of falling trees. A step up from short wooden poles that are, quite frankly, just asking for a tree to come crashing down on top of them.

currently playing: The Beat - Mirror In The Bathroom

Schools are closed, Charlie Brown

Julia wasn’t kidding when she said that the county goes a bit crazy when they see a snowflake; admittedly it’s a good few inches, but I doubt whether they would have closed the schools back home (and we used to have to walk twenty miles with a sack of coal on our backs just to get there).

3,000 people have lost power. But they can’t watch the TV report, so if you would please return to Law & Order, I’d be most grateful. Thanks.

Almost time to go home. So, anything I should know before I come back?

currently playing: Audrey Hepburn - Moon River

Not wishing to widen the cultural gap...

…but a five minute report on that fact it might snow tomorrow? The astounding revelation that -1C is quite cold? I really hope it’s just a slow news day.

This just in - US Postal Service to buy millions of potassium iodine tablets to protect postal workers against thyroid cancer in the event of a nuclear attack. I’m sure that’ll help.

Okay, I accept that -8 might be a bit colder, but people making runs on supermarkets? It seems a bit of an overreaction.

10% off gun safes, according to Perry’s Gun Shop. Extra discount for buying in bulk, apparently. The cute child in military fatigues adds a touch of class to the proceedings, I feel.

The roads might be a bit icy.

One for Dad - safety advice for Christmas. Make sure breakable decorations stay away from children. Excellent.

Look, the roads are going to be SLIPPY.

I understand the individual words the sport newscaster is saying, but they don’t seem to be forming coherent sentences.


There has been a foreign news report, just in case you were wondering. Granted, it was about UN weapon inspections, but it’s better than nothing.

Remember. The bridge ices before the road.

Shock! Cannabis isn’t a gateway drug? But teens with tattoos should be considered at risk. There has to be something, I suppose.

BEST NEWS TRAILER EVER: 10:42 - Car in River.

Whitney Houston is going to tell us about her personal daemons. I’m going to rise above that straight line. Honest.

The horrors of Pet Separation Anxiety. And in other news, Mariah Carey has a new record out.

What’s this? An editorial? Accusing the New Jersey Poet Laureate of being a racist? Well, if you must…

Off-topic aside: Where’s Fairytale of New York, eh? Nice to see that the Popstars bands will be breaking new ground with their Christmas releases.

And the final thought? Drive carefully. It’s going to be cold.

Not wishing to be overly critical, but I do miss the BBC…

currently playing: Cat Power - Names

4:35 In the Morning

Okay. This time, without the air of panic…

After I wrote yesterday’s little cry for help, I had a talk with one of my professors. He suggested that I take an ‘incomplete’ grade in one of the courses, which will give me a year to complete the work I’ve done so far. I’ll do the exams in the other courses, and return in January to start the Spring semester.

If you spoke to me yesterday, I would have told you that I was already clearing out my room in preparation for returning home. What changed? I’m entirely sure; I suppose that I really want to be sure whether this is really what I want do, and I need to give it a bit more time before I give it up. That, and I would really like to see out a year in this country, at the very least. So, panic (mostly) over. Mostly.

My computer decided that it wasn’t happy about the prospect of travelling back across the Atlantic, and promptly fried the second hard drive. Which just happens to contain all my Linux programs. Nice. Thankfully, all my data is on the other hard drive…

currently playing: The Clash - Complete Control

The Sound of Breaking Dreams

This is hard to write. But it has to be said eventually.

I’m giving up.

I’ve spoken with Janet Jones; I will be failing all three of my courses this semester, and not enrolling for Spring 2003. My American adventure will be coming to an abrupt end on December 17th.

I haven’t made this decision lightly. I could probably scrape through this semester, and come back for Spring, but I know that I’ll just have the same problems as before. The only reason to stay is Pride. I don’t want to be seen as a failure. That’s not a good enough reason.

The truth is that I don’t want to have more panic attacks that leave me almost paralysed for five minutes; I don’t want to lie awake at night worrying how I’m going to do all the things I need to get done.

Aw. What a sad thing to happen to the spoilt white kid. He got everything he wanted, including an almost all-expenses paid stay in America, and he’s got the nerve to whine because he has to do some work?

I’m sorry. I can’t carry on. Everytime I press a key, I start to cry. I know I’ve failed. I know that I don’t deserve to be here. I want to be strong and carry on, but it’s too much, and it’s not going to get better. Surely it’s better to admit that I made a mistake and come home rather than try and tough it out, isn’t it?

I don’t know what I’m going to do. I’ve spent so many years on computers. But I don’t like them. I have no intuition for them. I don’t want to spend the rest of my life working with them. But what else can I do? I came here because I thought that I could get interested again. That things would work out. But they haven’t. I don’t know what I want to do. But I can’t stay here.

currently playing: Aimee Mann - Wise Up