Remember...

If they ask you whether you want chips with your sandwich, it’s not what you think. It’s the equivalent of them opening three packets of Walkers Crisps and throwing them over your plate. This may be the desired effect, but it’s a good thing to remember for future reference. I’m avoiding the sweet tea on principle; where I come from, tea that arrives cold is inherently suspicious and Not To Be Trusted.

Undergraduate days may be coming back quicker than I thought - today I had the familiar experience of turning up to a lecture having done the assignment, only to discover I didn’t need to have done it at all. Still, it was probably a good way of getting me back into the programming mindset.

As I may have mentioned, tomorrow is my exploring day. I was planning on going crazy and heading out over to the Southpoint Mall as well, but I think that I’ll wait until next week unless everything goes really well tomorrow morning. This means that I won’t be able to drool at the iBooks for a week or so. This is probably a good thing, as I have recently come into some tax refund money, and I am Weak. I would dearly love one of these machines (plus an iPod, if anyone’s feeling really generous), but I don’t need it. Sure, I’d love to have a tiny, wireless-enable computer that runs a cool BSD-based OS, plus built in FireWire/USB ports that Just Work, and…and…rushes to get VISA card

Ahem. What I meant to say is that I may get one eventually, but only after I’ve sorted out my major bills of the semester. Like housing. And the plane ticket back home for Christmas. Also, given the release of Jaguar, it may be prudent to wait until Apple release a revision of the iBook that can handle the upgrade…

Scary moment of the day: walking towards Franklin Street, I pass a talking on her mobile phone. She sounds exactly, exactly like Emily Proctor. I’m afraid…and now I’m even more afraid. Her imdb profile says she comes from Raleigh, NC. Oh God. Shoot me now. And she also played Lana Lang in The New Adventures of Superman. That’s quite funny.

currently playing: Various - Sinead O’connor - Ode To Billy

Partial Successes

Well, I don’t think I know much about BSD sockets, but it can’t be that hard, right? Excuse me while I pause for laughter.

I got the compiler stuff working about an hour ago. I plan to keep very quiet tomorrow, as I don’t think that I’m up to the task of explaining how it works (and I’m convinced that any attempt to do so will cause the program to suddenly stop working). But at least I’m not panicked as much as I was yesterday.

The new Sleater-Kinney album is excellent, by the way.

Still haven’t got my office, but I now have a key that opens the door. Getting there slowly. I’m not sure just what the grading of the undergraduate programs involves yet; there was a mention of an automatic tool, but I suppose I’ll find out more next week.

Lunch today was an introduction to an American BLT. My God. An inch of lettuce, another inch of bacon, almost half a tomato, and what seemed like a full jar of mayonnaise. I may return.

Despite having a long list of comics to buy, I left the comic shop with nothing. Which was a surprise, but I decided that I really didn’t need books like Captain America #4, even if they do have fabulous art by John Cassaday. On the other hand, I may have to return to pick up the Invisibles Guide and the second Animal Man book next week.

Friday is my day for exploring. I shall be getting on various buses, and discovering where they all lead. I just hope I don’t end up in Durham by mistake…

currently playing: Sleater-Kinney - Hollywood Ending

For decisions and revisions which a minute will reverse.

First, a warning. Today’s entry is likely to be rather long and full of ramblings. As opposed to short and rambling.

Having spent most of my life with only four TV channels (the Government eventually decided we had been good enough to give us another one a few years back. We mostly wish they hadn’t bothered), having 50 all of a sudden comes as a bit of a shock. It also seems that the proability of you finding one channel with something you want to watch rapidly approaches zero, whilst the probability of missing something interesting due to the incessant advert breaks is very close to 1. I’m still laughing at Fox News, by the way…

A problem which has become apparent since my parents left is how am I going to feed myself, without not dying of nutritional deficiency before Christmas? After looking intently into a McDonald’s meal today, and not particularly enjoying it that much (no, I haven’t read Fast Food Nation. Ignorance allows me to continue to eat there), I have come to the decision that my time in America will not be spent by visiting the fast-food restaurants that you can find all over the world. Tomorrow, I find something local. And I will find a bus that goes past a supermarket before the end of next week.

Incidentally, does anybody else have a packet of patroitic M&Ms that seem to be lacking in blue? Red and white are adequately represented, but the shortage of blue worries me. Is this so each pack can be used to build a flag? I don’t know what’s worse, that I thought of the idea, or that I’m considering trying it out…

First day of lectures today. Oh boy. I may have forgotten just about everything I was taught during my undergraduate course. We had to fill out a pre-test for the Graphics course, and it went badly. I managed to get the cube roots of 1 completely wrong (1, -1 and i indeed. So dumb), stumbled my way through a couple of questions, and answered ‘I used to know this’ on everything else. Not a good start. With my confidence shaken, I head towards the Compilers course. If you don’t know anything about Computer Science, then take it from me - Compilers are hard. One of the hardest and most complicated class of computer problems in existence. Not good if you’re already feeling vulnerable. No pre-test, just a Java program to finish by Thursday. And I don’t understand what it’s asking me to do at all, but it’s so basic that I dare not ask anybody about it. I’ve sectioned off tomorrow afternoon/evening/night/Thursday morning to try and get my head around it. On the bright side, there’s no exam for that class. That’s because we have to turn in a working compiler at the end of the semester. ha ha ha ha ha. ha.

The TA meeting was fairly informative, although it strikes me as weird that a lot of lectures have a laptop ban in place, despite the fact that every freshman has to buy a laptop. The perils of wireless connections, I suppose.

I’ve been here a week now. The biggest surprise so far (and this may come as a shock to many people who know me) is just how English I feel. I keep on thinking that I should break out the tweed jacket and head off to the library. The Hugh Grant stutter is in full effect, and I have to change my clothes half-way through the day, as they’re soaked through with sweat. The culture is different in so many subtle ways. A asked me where I was from this morning, and after I told her, she said That’s cool. I was in Madrid during the summer. My first reaction was to look rather puzzled. It’s nice that she went there, but what does it have to do with me? The distance between London and Madrid is 783 miles. To me, that’s quite far, further separated by the different languages in France and Spain (travelling in a straight line). In America, that’s less than the distance from Washington to Miami (924 miles) . Yet I view Spain as a far-off foreign country, when all the time it was on my doorstop. So, a thank-you to the in the lift for the world-change.

Right, I think that’s plenty for today. I will try and get the blog back on a daily schedule again, depending on how nasty/hideous/life-threatening the courses become as the semester rolls on. I’ve got my Sleater-Kinney ticket all booked, so I’ll let you know all about that in October (I haven’t got hold of the new album yet, as I’ve ordered it through KillRockStars, and it hasn’t arrived). Presuming I find a way of getting back without walking…

currently playing: PJ Harvey - Good Fortune

Out of interest...

Is the Fox News Network for real? Back home, we used to laugh at Americans who behaved like that.

The best of intentions

On paper, it seems a great idea to stick 12,000 students in one place in order for them to bond. In practice, it normally only helps to depress the lonely students even more. The new people showing up are heavily outnumbered by the second, third, and fourth years, plus the returning graduate schools. As you walk down the shut-off South Street, all you can see is multiple groups of people, laughing and joking, as you drink your free bottle of water alone. However, at times, you get a glimpse at another solitary person, seemingly looking as miserable as you. For true Billy-No-Mates points, you must not speak to these people. Ever. To do so would disrupt the Universe itself.

The traditional method of overcoming this difficulty, favoured by eight of ten Manchester freshers, is to drink copious amounts of alcohol, babble incoherently for many hours, and awake with many new friends. But the block party is alcohol-free. Damn those Americans.

That’s why I came back after an hour. The reason I’m going back out there now is that a probable evening of misery has to better than a guaranteed evening of misery sitting here feeling sorry for myself. I reserve the right to change my mind in the morning.

currently playing: The Silver Mt. Zion Memorial Orchestra & Tra-La-La-Band - This gentle hearts like shot bird’s fallen

Carmichael 531, Where Are You?

The first thought that crossed my mind as I stepped out of Durham airport was “I’m going to die. They’ll find my dessicated body in under two weeks.” By the end of the week, the thought had transmuted to “If the heat doesn’t kill me, the University might.”

Actually, the weather isn’t quite as bad as I feared. Yes, it’s hot, but I seem to cope rather well, considering the state of the climate back home in Europe. Culture shock has yet to fully hit me, although it’s been a tough task trying to decipher some people’s accents. I’ll get used to them. Eventually.

The course looks…welll…hard, to be honest. Everybody seems to be incredibly clever, and I expect someone to jump on me at any moment, pointing out that I’m a fraud, and that I should be deported immediately. My family have threatened to hurt me if I continue this line of thought, but I can’t help feeling that I’m out of place. Which is probably because I am different from all of them, at least in the subtle way of being from Britain rather than anywhere else, and it makes me hyperaware of everything and everyone, increasing me shyness to the point where I find it difficult to communicate with anyone. Which is great. Still, there’s plenty of time to get to know everybody, I suppose.

Pictures will be coming soon, after I convince Windows to understand that I now have a USB keyboard and mouse…

currently playing: Nathaniel Merriweather - Strangers on a train

Emergency Blogging System Test

My computer is all packed and ready to leave. This post is coming from an aging laptop, running on the spot with Redhat 7.3 installed. Nothing really to say today, so I’ll just finish this test, and be on my way. Look out for me on Wednesday…

More pitiful excuses

My plan to write yesterday’s entry in Oxford came unstuck when God’s Own Thunder decided to pour down upon me. I don’t really have a lot of time left before I leave, so I promise that I will eventually write the piece I’ve been talking about, but I won’t mention it again for fear of building up the hype too much.

My final night out with my friends consisted with a drab meal at Old Orleans, plus Austin Powers 3. It’s the first film I’ve ever seen at the cinema where I had to fight the urge to walk out. Over-extended, unfunny scenes, complete lifts from the first two films, and less of a film than a compilation of a few mildly amusing moments and almost ninety minutes of filler.

Next week is going to have a more sporadic blogging schedule than usual, as I’m going to be rushing all over the place trying to get settled down in Chapel Hill. I’ll try and get back to normal as soon as possible. Wish me luck.

currently playing: Big Audio Dynamite - e=mc2

Service will be resumed shortly

Today’s excuse is that Bonnie’s laptop turned up on our doorstep earlier this afternoon. I spent five or hours making sure that they had, in fact, not fixed it at all, and getting annoyed at the customer helpline, who didn’t want to believe me. It’s going back tomorrow. After that, I felt completely burnt out, so the piece I mentioned yesterday will have to wait until tomorrow or the weekend.

Tonight, we’ve been looking at furniture and things for my room (when I get it, of course) in Chapel Hill. So far, we’ve scoped out a fridge, a bookcase, and a bath-in-a-bag (which I might buy just to see what it is). Next week is going to involve quite a bit of furious shopping.

From The Trademark Blog. Yes, McFarlane is a good example of the worker taking over the production. Especially if you subscribe to the Animal Farm viewpoint.

EDIT: It looks like I read far too much into that last paragraph over at The Trademark Blog. The tone of my comment was also, in retrospect, unnecessarily harsh. Apologies all round.

currently playing: Kenickie - Can I Take You To The Cinema

Housing available

The good news is that I do have a room waiting for me at Chapel Hill. Unfortunately, they haven’t decided where yet. But they say they’ll get back to me. I’m a bit calmer now.

Cheering me up even more is this news:

Next up is a big wave of catalog classics on 115, led by three new special editions. The classic Sunset Boulevard is presented in its original 1.37:1 full screen aspect ratio and English mono, with extras including an audio commentary by Ed Sikov, “The Making Of Sunset Boulevard” and “The Music of Sunset Boulevard” featurettes, a Hollywood Location Map, and the trailer. Newly restored is the Audrey Hepburn favorite Roman Holiday, in 1.37:1 and mono, along with the all-new “Remembering Roman Holiday” documentary, “Edith Head - The Paramount Years” and “Restoring Roman Holiday” featurettes, and 3 trailers.

Just a short entry today, as the storms are rolling in. A longer piece on my secret musical shame should be coming tomorrow. I bet you can’t wait.

currently playing: Saint Etienne - Lose That