Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Of glands and kids

So, new week, new job... It's going okay so far. The kids call me 'miss' which amuses me no end. When they're not calling me miss they're generally looking like they might hurt me if I tell them off, or mumbling things incomprehensibly. "Miss dasfkldahfa;dfjads" usually means something along the lines of "Miss, can I have a calculator?" but it takes me a while to get there.

Most annoying thing so far is that I'm not supposed to have water in either of the computer areas, 'because we don't let the kids drink in there so it wouldn't be fair'. I think it's about time these kidlets learned that one rule for staff, one rule for them is entirely acceptable! Anyone who knows the gwan will know that where the gwan is, a bottle of water is never far behind. And if it is, she's very grumpy. Surely it's a human rights issue, come on people!

Plus my saliva glands are acting up. I swear, the fact that my glands periodically get all inflamed and sore and my constant thirst must be related. Clearly things aren't functioning and I'm left constantly dry of mouth. And no, it's not diabetes, I have been checked. On the plus side, when my glands go funny I can take em out from under my jaw and play with them. Since that's kinda disgusting and doesn't make them hurt any less, I tend not to do that so much though...

Much as I'm sure you're loving tales from the glandy side of life, I'd better get back to it. And yes, a girl's life is pretty dull when the best she's got to talk about involves saliva.

Friday, February 23, 2007

What day is today?

Today is Mother's Day. Grrr I've had that in my head all morning. It's not even a song! Hopefully no-one but ranch knows where it comes from, it's hella lame...

I moved again on Wednesday, leaving the gracious hospitality of my sister's for a place where I get a bed, a door, a drawer and half a wardrobe - bliss! For the next 7 weeks, I'm occupying a void left by her Sri Lanka & Nepal-bound friends. (For some reason, this bothers me - why not just swing by India in between? Been there, done that? Can't get a visa? On an almighty crusade not to acknowledge the existence of such a thing as a 'sub-continent'?) The flatmates seem nice. Unfortunately, they store their toilet paper on a shelf above the loo, and I dropped the whole roll in the toilet on my first trip, so I'm probably secretly known as 'the new explosive-diarrhoea-suffering girl' to them.

Monday I'm starting a new job, library assistant at a sixth-form college, so that should be fun. You should see the place - you walk in and there's a security card and electronic turnstiles just to get inside! I'm a bit worried I'll be mistaken for one of the students (no uniforms), but I suppose I'm not as young as I once was... It's temp initially, possibly to go permanent, don't know.

Right, well time to go to work methinks.

Monday, February 19, 2007


Here I am at work with nothing at all to do. Apparently everyone's finished all the work so we've been officially told to twiddle our thumbs until later on this morning when we've been promised something else to do.

So I present Gwan's fillum review:

I was moved to get Hostel out on Sunday because I thought it would be amusing to watch a horror movie set in hostels in Eastern Europe, in which I have now spent a fair amount of time. Unfortunately, this movie was not scary, it was really disgustingly gory in parts and most of all it was very very irritating. On the plus side, as I found out, it was filmed in the lovely Cesky Krumlov (although set 'near Bratislava' for some reason - is Slovakia scarier than CZ?) so there were a couple of fun 'I've been there' moments. Why so annoying? The young American frat boy protagonists (plus an aging Icelandic wanker, to be fair) were motivated to go to Eastern Europe because apparently all the women there are smoking hot and will do anything with any man with a foreign accent - preferably American. This is particularly annoying because I've met plenty of men with that precise attitude about Eastern European women. And it's not even true. I'm sure there are plenty of ladies there who like a foreign guy - but I'm pretty sure your odds go up any time you're in a different country - you're exotic, you're interesting... But all the women I know in Eastern Europe are normal, pleasant girls, not depraved models. The movie redeems itself somewhat with a twist that sort of plays off the falsity of these sorts of perceptions, but not before providing plenty of soft porn scenes based on this premise. Ultimately, I just wanted the young 'heroes' to get killed, they were such empty-headed losers. Plus it's homophobic. And not even good. So Gwan awards it two stars, which are for Cesky Krumlov and for the business card which read [something]@gang.rus - subtle! Don't watch it unless you enjoy misogynistic gory twaddle.

It did, however, make me want to go back to Eastern Europe. Despite Ranch's prejudices, I love Eastern Europe. I do want to visit Italy and Spain etc. but if I had to choose, I'd go for Poland or the Ukraine first. Don't know why... I just find EE fascinating - more exotic, less known. I know it's not really all that exotic, but people still seem to think EE is scary - hence movies like Hostel I suppose. Can't wait to go back!

Oh and Hostel also had gangs of knife-wielding children - just like are supposed to roam the streets of Moscow!


Friday, February 16, 2007

Dream job?

Work at the British Library serving 'customers and clients all food and beverage associated requirements'. Like what, forks?

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Who knew?

Fun facts I learned at work today (off the speech section of the site, thank god). I'm assuming these are accurate facts since it's a government website, but on the other hand, they still have a listing for 'Serbia and Montenegro' so you never know.

  • About a fifth of the population of Estonia has no citizenship of any kind - descendants of Russian immigrants who can't pass the compulsory Estonian-language citizenship test and aren't Russian citizens either
  • All secondary schooling in Nigeria, Eritrea and Ethiopia takes place in English
  • Fewer than 60% of Columbians go to secondary school
  • About 45% of Ethiopians are Muslim and 40% Christian - but most Ethiopians of either religion don't eat pork
  • A Hungarian invented the ballpoint pen and the Rubik's cube (not, as far as I know, the same Hungarian)
  • Even kindergartens in Iran are single-sex: co-ed schools are banned
  • The poor state of schools in Liberia meant that families were often asked to provide materials including schooldesks for their kids (past tense?)
  • They have Old Believers in Lithuania too! (It's a Russian thing...)
  • Russian troops are still in Moldova despite it becoming independent from the USSR in 1991
  • Moldova is the poorest country in Europe (hampered by its widespread reputation as a made-up country methinks ha ha)
  • Nepal is the only officially Hindu state in the world
  • Urdu is the official language of Pakistan, despite being the native tongue of only 8% of its population
  • There are about 45,000 Roma in Portugal - not just an Eastern Europe thing huh. On the other hand, there are between 1.8 and 2.5 million Roma in Romania, the largest Roma population in Europe. (Unsurprisingly, I suppose - Romania - Roma...)
  • At the end of lower secondary education, Romanian pupils get a 'certificate of capacity' - are we sure that's translated correctly? "There's room for 12 litres of learning in this one, sir"
  • The female literacy rate in Sierra Leone is just 18%, ouch!
  • Slovenians apparently speak 'Slovene' (not, as I would have guessed, Slovenian)
  • Turkish has letters like Old English 'eth' ð and 'thorn' þ cool
  • There used to be a sizeable community of Indians and Pakistanis in Uganda until they were expelled in 1972 (actually this I did already know)

And if you're thinking I'm not spending my time at work very productively, yeah you're right. On the upside though I edited about 135 pages of the site today, compared to about 60 yesterday (those speeches were hard!)

Monday, February 12, 2007

Kill me now!

Q: What's worse than having to listen to an incredibly boring speech by the chairman of whatever at some event?
A: Having to read all the speeches in the online archive of a government agency and decide what the hell the speech is about and who it's aimed at! These are not short speeches, either.

In particular, I think I shall scream if I have to read one more allusion to 'that learning muscle in the skull' grrrrrrr

Boohoo, glad it's almost time to go home.


On the Tube this morning (almost said 'Metro' there - you're not in Europe anymore, Dorothy) stood next to this guy who had obviously just shaved his sideburns then washed his face or something, and all the little stubblies had ended up in his ears! Gross!

Haven't heard anything back from Oxford yet. As far as the interview went, they said nice things about my presentation, the questions weren't actually too probing or focussed, they made me do a shelving test which involved climbing a ladder in high heels and a skirt (let's just hope the interviewer was, in fact, gay. Since obviously it's not embarrassing if a gay man sees your knickers ?). At one stage I was sort of leaning over to check the URL for Google Scholar (my presentation topic) and, not looking at the computer at all, I put my fingers on totally the wrong line of keys and typed in gobbledegook, but let's be positive and think that it shows that I can actually touch-type, I just need to make sure I start out on the home keys. I'm not sure I impressed on the 'where will you be in 5 years' question. Tried to be non-committal yet seem enthusiastic about the prospect of working in libraries forever, but don't know if I nailed it. But I mean, do they really think people will be library assistants for the rest of their lives? Sure don't pay well for one thing! On the other side, the workspace was horribly cramped and right behind the desk, so no privacy for the all-important act of slagging off the students (don't pretend it doesn't happen, library types) - how can you pull off the 'I'll just go into the back room and check with my supervisor if your asinine request can be fulfilled... and return after a minute of telling my co-workers what a loser you are to say "I'm sorry, they said no"' routine if there's no back room to retreat to? But anyway, we'll see...

The (govt.) building where I'm working at the mo apparently used to be MI5 or something like that. It has the coolest electronic gates when you come in, and there's a bomb-proof room somewhere. All this security has its downside, however. I counted - from the lift to the room I'm working in (maybe half a floor away) there are no less than 7 sets of fire doors. Pain in the ass!

On Thurs went out with my sister for what I thought was going to be a couple of sneaky pints at the pub but which turned into clubbing into the wee hours. Consumer warning: don't attempt absinthe without sugar! I have now imbibed the green fairy on a number of occasions, but this time it was insta-vomit. Yes, I know how disgusting that is. But on the upside, that's probably why I didn't get TOO drunk or TOO hungover. Result!

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

Did You Know?

There's a legal requirement for all UK schools to teach Religious Education? Slightly different from the situation in the US, for example! I don't think they have to undergo quite the 13 years (plus kindergarten!) I had to, but on the other hand, RE certainly does come in handy when studying medieval history and literature. And Victorian history and literature, for that matter, although in that case it's mostly 'why Catholics are evil, parts 1 - 100'. Anyway, I am meant to be working, but just so you know I'm learning things occasionally amongst all the boredom of this job. Will let you know about the Oxford interview at some stage.

Monday, February 05, 2007

Guten tag

I'm officially a 'tagger' ha ha. Well, actually, my new (temp) job is officially as an 'indexer', but we have been introduced around the government agency which shall be unnamed as 'the new taggers' hee hee. I think I'm the only one who has a wee internal giggle at that one. We're doing the typical first-day thing of sitting around while logons and so forth get sorted out. The work itself sounds frightening - basically, reading every page on their website (between us) and working out what are the key words. These become 'tags' and then when someone searches under a particular term, voila, they find an article with matching tags. Sounds like I have a lot of scope to screw up... Still haven't had a quiet moment to tell them I won't be coming to work tomorrow, but I'm more optimistic because they said another temp's starting tomorrow, so obviously they were let off coming in on the very first day, so they can't really have a fit at me. I hope.

Friday, February 02, 2007

Gwan gets a job (?)

So I have accepted a temporary job - 1 month, starting Monday, which involves something along the lines of adding keyword tags to a website. Yeah, sounds fun! Only problem is, now I have been asked to interview at Oxford on Tuesday. What do I do??? Why do these things always work out like this - sitting on my ass for weeks, then in all kinds of difficulties with two things on at once :(