Monday, June 26, 2006

Brad Pitt Now Starring in "Better Than Life"

This is a call to Red Dwarf fans out there: Is the current situation Brad Pitt is in remind you of anything? Oh, perhaps an episode of Red Dwarf where Arnold Rimmer is allowed to play the "Better Than Life" VR game with the Boys? He's lusted after Eyvonne MacGruder for quite some time, and finally lands her. It's sex sex sex. He's got the hot car, the posh living, the media attention -- and then the next thing you know he's living in squalor with a million kids. I keep LAUGHING my head off thinking of Brad Pitt and his new life with Angelina Jolie. Who says sci-fi isn't reality?

Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Sunrise, Wrong Side of Another Day... quote Lemmy.

Hello world of sleeping people and others. I've had an interesting night. I've learned a few bits of trivia, I've briefly panicked that I might be schizophrenic, and I've emailed one of my elementary school teachers (I think). Here's how it all went:

1) Did you know that the vermiform appendix (in your body) is no longer considered useless and is now being seen an a crucial lymphatic organ? Uh huh. How cool is that? Here's a link:

It was tough finding good scientific communication on the subject, mostly because of the creationists having an agenda and the scientists being unable to translate from their cliqueish jargon world. But that is a fairly interesting read, anyway.

Also try finding one value for the calories in an Imperial Pint of Guinness. It's easy to get a value for 12 ounces of it from American websites, and then you think you can do the simple algebra to figure out 20 ounces of it for an Imperial pint, but NO. Ounces are different in both countries. Sigh. This is almost as silly as the region coding on DVDs, except the latter is insipid. Anyway, it's about 170 - 210 calories -- which of course are kcals in the UK....argh. Enough of the trivia.

2) Been having troubles with dizziness and seeing things out of the corner of my eye, noises, hair loss...weird stuff. And insomnia, still. So, I surf on these "symptoms" out of frustration and in the process of reading about depression start reading about schizophrenia. Of course, I'm ready to diagnose myself based on the physical and mental stuff, then in my ignorance being worried about my husband leaving me, going on mind-numbing drugs, all of that. But I read on and saw the classifications of symptoms or paranoia and obsessions, and I don't have any of those issues. So, I keep surfing and I learned MORE THINGS:

Did you know that vitamin deficiencies can look exactly like schizophrenia? Low and behold. So, now I'm thinking good thoughts, about my hair growing back, keeping my husband, all of that, because I've purchased VITAMINS. I've historically been crap at taking my vitamins regularly, but now I think I will.


3) Ethel Hoppock Middle School in New Jersey. (I need to research who Ethel was; we never knew as students.) I peek in there every few years or so to see if any of the teachers are still there from when I was a kid. And there were a few; so I emailed one of them -- if she is in fact the same woman. I wonder if she'll email back? It would be groovy if she did. I have so many questions...

Anyway, that was my exciting night at the computer ... again ... If I learn anything life altering next time, I'll be sure to drop a note here for myself, at least.

Thursday, January 12, 2006

Why the Escapism and Anachronism stuff?

I wonder: can one find joy in escapism and anachronism? Or is that really only a denial of reality? Or in this awful world, is a denial of it the only way we can get through the day? And if so, will that condemn all future generations to the grey creeping hopelessness we all feel about the future of mankind?

Some of the happiest moments of my life have been spent at Science Fiction conventions or in the SCA. Equally, some of the most soul-wrenching times I have spent have been there as well. Cons and the SCA are great if you're not alone. If you are alone, they can be even more lonely, because you know you're surrounded by people who are like you, and yet they are with their own groups and you're not. It's like being invisible to those you want to see you and exposed to those you know will judge you. It's awful. I've shied away from them now, because I'm in a new country with no group to come with me. I tried going to a Doctor Who convention when I first got here, but it was one of those awful experiences of loneliness. Now that I'm married, well, I don't know that public fandom is an option anymore. My husband is a fan of SF and anachronism as a watcher, but he doesn't get into it personally, if you know what I mean. I don't even know that I know what I mean. I think I mean whereas I would dress up like Ace from Doctor Who and happily go to a con, I can't see him dressing at the Doctor.

I'm rambling. What I guess I'm saying is that he and I do escape from our troubles by watching loads of SF DVDs. What happens is we feel better for it after a hard day's work and frustrations, but it hasn't made the world a better place to be in. If there were a button that could take me into a make-believe world like The Federation or onto the TARDIS, I'd go in a heartbeat. But thinking about that isn't helping me be a human being here in this world. And I find I really don't want to be here in this world. I spent my career trying to make the world a better place by educating kids and adults about the wonders of science and the universe, hoping it would create a more thoughtful and creative public. And after 12 years, it's not made a difference. I can't fight willful ignorance and stupidity. So, screw 'em. I'm done trying to improve the world. But it is surely a terrible feeling to give up on the world, to know that most people don't give a toss and that I have joined them out of sheer exhaustion. And so, I dive into a DVD or a book or the Internet with the hopes of finding goodness in the virtual world. Will it calm me down? Will it heal the pain? Or is it a harmful distraction from the real world that knocks on the door and sends demands through the mail slot?

Tuesday, January 10, 2006

Fixed Penalty for Being Foreign

I feel like I've endured some rite of passage by receiving my first, and hopefully only, fixed penalty notice. I've been apparently caught on a mobile camera doing 40 in a 30. Admittedly, I'm with the rest of y'all when it comes to feeling that these camera things are an awful slap in the face, among many we residents of Britain take every day. But I've admitted I was the driver, and was fully prepared to get closure on this. However, it's not that simple now.

In truth, I'm agonising over this. It bothers me tremendously, because I don't have my UK driving license yet. I understood I have 12 months from my entry to get my provisional one, and so that's not until March. So, these forms I've received don't work for me, because the offer seems only valid for UK license holders. Although I've been given this conditional offer, I can't send in my UK license, and so I'm really upset about what will happen next. I've tried phoning the constabulary, but no one is answering today. So, I'm potzing about all worried about it, assuming they'll take me to court and I'll be attacked again for being foreign.

There's a little voice in my head saying that I'm doing all I can to handle this incident proerply, and therefore what will be will be; but there's also this fear that once again I'm going to be discriminated against because I'm not a UK citizen. You would not believe the troubles I've been through just to come here to work and pay taxes. No bank would take my direct deposit from my UK job without a UK residence, but no UK flats would give me residence without a UK bank account. No mobile phone companies would take my UK money. Petrol stations would not take my US credit cards. In the end, work colleagues and friends had to lend me money, cars, phones and their cosigning for me just to stay and DO MY JOB. The best I managed alone was a Nectar card.

It's the most awful feeling to enter a foreign country alone with a valid work permit and be treated like a criminal when all I wanted to do was work hard, pay all of these ridiculous taxes, and spend my meagre salary on British goods. The negative attitude here towards immigrants who actually give into the system doesn't make any sense to me. Do you know that although I paid into the National Insurance, I'm not allowed to go on benefit? I can't even vote for how my tax money is spent. With so much panicky press about the lack of a numerate and scientifically skilled workforce in the UK, you'd think an incoming scientist would be treated better than I have. But no, I'm foreign and therefore evil no matter how much I give to this country. I am beginning to think that because I give into the system, they can find me more easily to harrass. Bitter? Me?

So, my stomach is churning and I'm mentally curling into defensive postures, awaiting the inevitable attack. I don't appreciate being treated unfairly all of the time, and I'm so worried about being taken to court and torn apart by officials who feel it is their right to abuse all non-citizens, contributing or not. Sometimes I just cry out the frustrations and hurt I feel and wonder why did I think the UK would be a more friendly place than America? I think it was friendlier 12 years ago when I was first here and the idea of emigrating became a life goal. Now it seems from recent polls that the majority of Brits want out of the UK. Where will they go? Will they be treated better elsewhere? I suppose they believe they will be. If my experience is anything to go by, I think they're right.

Proverbial Welcome

I was enthusiastically advised by a friend to start a blog. I really didn't want to, because, well, because I was worried blog writing would eat up my other writing time, be just a bunch of boring mumbo-jumbo, and open myself up to abuse I know that I can't deal with right now. So, what am I doing here now?

Good question.

I think I'm here because I'm willing to take the risks if it means I might make new friends. I'm a bit behind the times, you see, but I have finally figured out that this is where many of the homo sapiens are and that just talking to each other about mundane things is as acceptable as having something profound to say. Coming from academia, this is a refreshing discovery.

Recently, I've been taking a long hard look at my life, and it's caused me to take several major steps to improve it: 1) I left the stress of a career in New England to move to England where I hoped I might better fit in. This has not worked for several reasons that I may develop in future posts. 2) I got married, a surprise to us all and a most wondrous and joyful experience. 3) I quit my career. I would say 'job' but I think it will turn out to be more than that in the end. I am fed up with academia, basically, and I may develop that in future posts as well. And 4) I learned that although I went to Harvard, I was never one of them, and I'm no longer ashamed of that.

That's all I think I'm ready to say right now. I'll need to go away and think about what else I might talk about. I think I'll have a look at others' blogs and see if I can get a better understanding of the way this all works. I feel like I've just arrived on the boat at Ellis Island and been given a new name...