Archive for January, 2006

Four

The other day I was reading a friend’s blog. They’d written an entry that contained one of those questionnaires, you know, the kind of thing that regularly drops into your inbox and gets deleted as soon as you note the subject line contains the characters “FW:”, or, if not containing those characters, instead playing host to about three billion >’s down the left hand side.

Enough to drive anyone mad.

Anyway, I noted in this questionnaire, which actually I found to be quite informative, a section at the bottom called “4 Tagged”, under which were listed 4 people, me being one of them. I hadn’t a clue what this meant, until Bono, on his way to Davos, told me that it meant that my friend wanted me to do the questionnaire!

Arggh! What to do? My Mumble has never been soiled by the likes of a get-to-know-your-friends better type thing. Go and have a look at the rest of the Tame Goes Wild network you lazy sod, it’s all there! Ker! I know, can’t be arsed can you? Just want it all in a five minute snippet. Ah, so 2006.

Still, as this questionnaire contained no death threat (if I didn;t forward it to half the world’s population within 5 nanoseconds), and as I am trying to avoid reading the rest of this chapter on the Japanese Constitution (the first half sent me back to sleep this morning), I have dutifully completed said questionnaire. Still, so as not to set a precedent I have confined it to a secure unit, where it cannot infect the rest of the site.

It’s here.

The rather scary thing is, I actually rather enjoyed doing it… Next thing you know I’ll be drawing houses that determine my personality type and using expressions such as ‘Meme’ (what?) and ‘XD’, which I’m sure is some kind of sexually transmitted disease.

Virus

Last night someone sent me three emails with a subject line of “Photo+Text” or something like that. The body of the message informed me that Yale University (from whom the emails were alleged to have come) needed my consent for an article on me for their campus magazine.

Now I won’t ask you to “call me stupid but…”, for I shall call myself stupid.

“joseph, you’re stupid”.

Not only did I actually read the email (when I have never had any dealings with Yale Uni and there is absolutely no reason why they would have anything to do with me), but I also downloaded the .zip attachment.

I then opened the .zip file, and on seeing that the enclosed file was a .exe file, I double clicked it.

I think I deserved what followed for displaying such utter stupidity.

The virus, as soon as it was executed, shut down Norton Antivirus and disabled it in a manner that meant I had to completely remove all components and reinstall, in the meantime not being able to find out what other damage had been done. It then deleted all my System Restore points, so I couldn’t undo whatever changes had been made in the background. Goodness knows what else it did. If you have recieved an email from me telling you to delete your teddy bear or something along those lines it’s probably best to ignore it.

In the end end it took me 4 very frustrating hours to get things back up and running. And cost me money too as I had very stupidly not kept a copy of my anti-virus download.

Anyway, the moral of the story is, don’t be Joseph.

Last night wasn’t the first time I’ve been the victim of a virus though.

Two years ago I was the victim of a virus written by the notirous cyber-criminal Lee Hawks, labelled by authorities as “DR. VIRUS”.

Like last night’s, it came in email format. In fact, I think I might still have a copy of it in quarantine. Ah yes, here we are:

“I have unfortunately been very busy lately and haven’t had the time to write a virus. So please take a couple of minutes to delete all files on your computer, then send this to everyone in your address book.

Thank you for your co-operation.”

Took me weeks to reinstall all the software and get my settings back to how they were beforehand.

good night.

UPDATE 30th Jan: I received the following email today:

* * *
Over the weekend the majority of University email addresses received an email from J.Hope@yale.edu, joseph@yale.edu or possibly some other similar address. The subject line was ‘Photo approval needed’ or ‘Campus Life Article’ and carries an attachment called ‘Photo and Article.zip’.

This is a virus that will install a backdoor way into your Windows PC if the attachment is opened and the .exe file is run. Do not open this email, but instead delete it.

The mailhubs are now blocking new mails carrying this virus. However the current virus definitions in McAfee v8 (the virus checker installed on most campus PCs) does not detect it, nor does Norton Antivirus.

The simple way to check for this virus is to look in the Windows/System32 folder for the presence of the file: csrwnd.exe – if the file is found, your computer is infected.

The way to remove this virus is to restart your computer in “safe mode” and firstly delete the file and secondly use “regedit” to remove any reference to “csrwnd”

* * *

Cheeky blighters. I found that virus 4 times in my registry. Still, all sorted now.

Bob the donkey – News update

Today, *Cough* went to London, and I came back to the Welsh Garden Project. In a style that is typical for us, we had arranged it so that our trains departed but a few minutes apart from Sheffield Station, and from the same platform. The latter took a bit of organising. You know, buying some welding equipment and sneaking onto the main line at 2am to fix the points so that all trains had to use the same line. Still, it was worth it, just to sneak an extra few seconds together in a drowsy state of crikey what-are-we-doing-up-at-this-ridiculously-early-hour-of-8.30am non-communicative zombie-mode romantic bliss.

Anyway, one of *Cough*’s missions in the Big Smoke today was to put some posters up at SOAS (School of Oriental and African Studies) promoting the Amazing forthcoming Japan Day on February 12th at Sheffield Uni. There she was, covered in blu-tack and sellotape, when she spied someone out of the corner of her eye that she had seen before – not in the flesh, but in the depths of my urksome hard drive, in .jpeg format. It was my teacher – N.Sensei as she is known in the world of tales of renegade paternoster riding. She was there for the Japanese Speech Contest that I entered last year (but didn’t get through to the final of due to accidentally thinking that the first round would be conducted in Russian).

“Ah, hello N. Sensei” said *cough* (in Japanese). Knowing that they had not met in the flesh before, she thought she’d better explain how it was that she knew her, and her intimate connection with the Tame that goes Wild in N. Sensei’s classes.

BUT! Before she was able to utter another word, N. Sensei replied (in Japanese), “Ah, you must be Cough! (actually using the English word ‘cough’, rather than my girlfriend’s secret real name).

*Cough* was surprised to say the least, as the only place where she was referred to by her codename ‘cough’ was right here, on Tame Goes Wild …but before she could probe N.Sensei the conversation was brought to an abrupt end when a team of cheerleaders came racing down the corridoor wearing nothing but underwear, jeans, two cardigans, big duffell coats and wooly hats. And gloves.

This can only mean one thing – N.Sensei has defied the high security measures in place around TGW, and TDM in particular, to stop people who have actually met me in the flesh from gaining access to my most inner thoughts. You know, things like the lack of any security whatsoever.

Then I start to think how all that effort I have put in at university to appear to be a responsible mature adult student who rises above all others in terms of wisdom, tact and sensitivity towards my fellow human beings, has gone to waste. And then I remember an entry only two days ago in which I once again spoke about my preferred breast size. I mean on other poeple, not me, despite the rumours and the collection of women’s underwear that i have in the bottom of my wardrobe.

Ah! I have been living under an illusion!

In other news, that is actually related to the above but in a way that only one person will understand, I received a postcard from Bob the Donkey today (Bob having been sent to Africa with the funds that I would have otherwise spent on idle trash for friends and family, you know, the kind of stuff Japan Soc gives away as prizes at major events). In it he writes that he is enjoying his new home in the sun, much nicer than Croydon where he was brought up apparently. He says though, that the family that he is staying with keep on tying big barrels of water and food to his back, and expecting him to carry it home from the market. They don’t seem to appreciate that he’s on holiday.

Oh well. It’s a donkey’s life.

A close shave

It was the night following my disastrous Japanese language exam, and I was in need of some relaxation.

Enter *Cough*, the most marvellous, the most magical, the most incredible, lady in the land.

Part of my prescribed therapy was a wee hair cut. Just a trim, you know, to stop me looking like a legless ostrich doing a headstand (if you can pictue that). It was all going so well. I have hair-cutting implements galore – no less than four electronic shavers and four pairs of scissors, each with their own speciality. For example, the speicality of one pair of scissors is not cutting what they are supposed to, whilst the speciality of one of the shavers is going from deathly quiet to sounding like a machine gun in a split second and for no apparent reason.

Anyhow, I digress, the fact is, the hair-cutting session which was taking place on a special hair-cutting bed-sheet on my futon, was going well. As *Cough* was daintily snipping away here and there, I thought I’d join in and help, by shaving my sideburns a little (is that what they’re called? I always wondered why, makes no sense…). So, i set the length thing on the shaver, and trimmed the left-hand side. Jolly good, no problem. Then I start to laugh, as I’m also watching the rather silly but quite funny Bruce Almighty. In this brief momentary lapse of concentration I apply the shaver to the right side of my head, trim the sideburn, but then forget to stop when I reach the ear.

The result is a rather unfortunate bald patch that extends about 1cm above my ear, as demonstrated here.

The proceedings ground to a dramatic halt. You see, it was my intention to keep my long hair for the whole winter, and now, here I was, with a bald patch which demanded that drastic action be taken to make it not look like I had tried to cut my own hair and absent-mindedly shaved my ear off. The following morning I begged a local barber to save me. He did, although the results were somewhat drastic – I have lost about 10 years!

Here I am a couple of weeks ago (ojiisan Joseph):

And here I am yesterday after the operation:

I tell you what, my ears aren’t half cold. Thus, I tend to keep this hat on, as demonstrated in this shot taken from my Dad’s car’s surveillance camera. Mum had it fitted to the dashboard to make sure he doesn’t pick his nose whilst driving. Probably.

This, incidentally, and in case you were wondering, does not effect his ability to grow leeks.

So, yes, all it all it was an interesting evening, and I certainly had forgotten about my disasterous exam by the end of it. Must bear that in mind should I ever slip on a banana again.

Condemned at Birth

I think the expression on this Gap Kid’s face says it all.

Condemned to a Chav life from birth.

GPS Banana Skin Detectors – Don’t leave home without one

Imagine yourself on a fine winter’s day, mist rising from the valley below, a pale sun struggling to make its warmth felt upon your face. That morning, You had donned your hiking boots, put your wooliest wooly hat on your head and fumbled around in the wardrobe to find your favourite walking stick. It was time for a hearty stroll in the countryside.

Several hours and 2 Kendal Mint Cakes later, you are just climbing over a stile into a field which rather oddly, considering the fact that it’s mid-winter, had a herd of cows in. They look friendly enough; there’s no sign of testorone-driven bulls that might want to impale you upon one of their horns that they don’t realise they no longer possess due to the fact that the farmer sawed them off when they were wee baby bullocks.

Ah, this is the life! You take a deep breath. Feel that fresh air filling your lungs. Hear those wee tweety birds in the sky above! See the grazing african elephants and wonder what they are doing up here in the Lake District.

BUT! (“tokoro ga!”) you have not spotted the banana skin which lies on the path directly ahead! Nor have you seen the seemingly harmless dried up cow-pat that is well beyong the fly-fest heydays of old.

OR SO YOU THOUGHT!

You take that one final step, a fate that equates to the sheer monstrosity of the Blue Screen of Death, and whoooooosh………! Your right heal has landed on the banana skin, which, due to its fairtrade origins is extra slippery, sending your legs flying forwards and up into the air that like some Chinese gymnast you seemingly effortlessly perform a complete somersault AND 180 degree twist in mid-air. It is only now, when you are held for a moment in weightless suspension between the up and the down that your eyes open from the blink that they had been performing when your foot first made contact with the banana skin – and they see, directly below them, the cow pat. Your stomach turns to lead, and your mouth opens – a deep slowed-down version of you saying “Nooooooooooooooooooooooooooo!!!!!” is heard for a split second, before your nose breaks the stale crust of the cow-pat, to reveal a Jolly Green Giant type frozen-as-soon-as-it’s-picked freshness of a loose burger below.

Now substitute the putting on of the waterproof hiking boots and wooly hat, and the finding of the walking stick, for my preperation for these exams. I prepared to be the viction of a rainshower by studying for my essay-type subjects, and studying kanji. However, I did not ensure that I had my GPS linked Banana Skin Detection Monitor with me – i.e. I had completely neglected to look over what we had studied in A Sensei’s class, and I had no time in the end to get any essay-writing practice in before the exam. Poor preperation Joseph.

Thus, the turning over of the exam paper saw my foot fall squarely upon the banana. Seconds later I was in the S***. Below the crust of niceness that is Japanese lies a murkey quagmire of suffocating manure.

I never really recovered.

I swear, I will NEVER let myself get in that ridiculous situation again, whereby I don’t understand a blooming thing. It was a real shocker, as i am used to being confident in that (Japanese langauge exam) situation, so to find myself sitting there for 10 minutes not writing a single thing (just thinking, “I can’t do this”) was, well, is, a real wake-up call.

I won’t fail, I know that, but I but won’t be anywhere near the Firsts I’ve come to expect of myself. I’d say a 2:2 (between 50% and 60%) for that module, and fingers crossed, a 2.1 (60%-70%) overall.

Well, no looking back, and no regrets. What’s done is done. I’ve already made a start on next semester’s modules – read a 1/4 of a core text on the train today, oh, and have decided to reimplement a study regime dreamt up last year (and successfully executed for a few weeks until I got lazy), that being getting up at 8am, in the library for 9am and staying there until it shuts, with the odd hour off for a lecture. I HAVE to get back on track.

Still, at least I can put my exam-kit away for another few months.

WANTED: Native Japanese Speaker

to take a Japanese language exam this afternoon. Must bear a striking resemblence to Joseph Tame.

Reply as soon as possible as it starts in 4 hours.

arrggggghhhh.

2 down 1 to go

Walked into the same examination hall today. That same examination hall was the same temperature as it was yesterday, that is, about -50 degrees. Ok, ok, so that’s a slight exaggeration, but only by a factor of 52 degrees. Yes, that’s right, we were asked to sit a 3-hour exam in a hall that was colder than your average fridge interior.

Mind you, didn’t affect me. Had extra clothes on, AND a hot water bottle!

The exam itself though, oh dear, I mucked it up. I mean, I wrote tons, we’re talking 17 pages again, but it was such b*llox. It was a case of ‘write down everything I know about the subject and I might just pass’. Just couldn’t get going.

Gotta prepare for my final exam on Thursday afternoon now. Not at all confident about that one. Oh well, at least I have a cute girlfriend to make me feel better afterwards ;-p

You know what though, I am well chuffed about one thing, and that’s my lack of seizures over the past few weeks. Last term I was fitting like a wild mongoose being chased by a snapping turtle on valium. Got so bad I had to up my medication (Epilim Chrono/Sodium Valproate) to 1400mg. Still, after a week of non-stop drinking just before Christmas I felt much better, and lowered my intake of purple pills to 1000mg daily. Haven’t had a problem since, despite the stress of exams. I think my letting go of some mad idea that I might get a First for my degree has helped. No-one cares after you graduate anyhow. It did matter last year, but for various reasons which I cannot divulge here, it doesn’t this. (…year, if you insist that I finish the sentence)

I’m enjoying being back in my room. I like my futon. I’m also enjoying relative isolation (brief exposure to good friends in ice factories and lunch with my damn sexy lady being the exceptions). Also, I’ve finally managed to rid my local airwaves of nearly all the cack that had invaded my “My Music” folder. Thing is, like many people these days, I have about 70GB of music tucked away under my bed in an electronic metal box with a blue flashing light on (otherwise known as external hard drive). That’s 10,306 songs to be precise. There used to be a lot more, but crikey was there a lot of what can only be described as really smelly bird poo in .mp3 format. I inherited it from a friend about two years ago (there was, incidentally, a lot of decent stuff included in the transfer too), and have been trying to sort through it ever since. It’s only in the last couple of months though, since I switched to i-Tunes with its easier interface (than Media Player) that I’ve got around to disinfecting my spinning magnetic disk. I’m talking stuff which is apparently described as ‘R&B’, which I can only guess stands for ‘Rubbish and B*llox’. Tends to involve a lot of rapping too (that is, talking so fast that the meaningless of the lyrics are cunningly conceiled).
All those ‘artists’ that go “Wiggy, Yo Yo” and wear baggy tracksuits, have huge great medallians round their necks which I’m sure they stole from BA out of the ‘A’ Team one day when he was sedated in order to be put on a helicopter, and they do kind of peace signs towards the camera which for some reason always seems to be positioned on the road in front of them and their fellow ‘gangstaz’. Perhaps they can’t afford a tripod. They certainly couldn’t afford singing lessons or lyric-writing classes so it would’t surprise me if a tripod was beyond reach of their budget, most of which was probably spent paying half-naked women with breasts the size of rhino testicles (we’re talking a rhino that is feeling really horny, and hasn’t got laid for a long time to appear in their videos. Half-naked women are all well and good, they have their place, namely in my bedroom, I mean they would have if I didn’t already have my own half-naked woman. Oh, and also if they didn’t have such huge breasts. I really don’t go in for big breasts, having been battered by a pair in the last century. “Small but firm, think long term” a wise sage once said (aka Stewart in Tokyo). Personally I’ll go for just right thank you very much.

Ok, ok, I’ll get back to the Kanji.

Preston Town

Reviewing my notes on the creation of a popular image for the Emperor Meiji in 1880s Japan, I see that nudity and urinating in public were banned at that time to help in the creation of the image of a ‘Modern Nation’.

This reminded me of the first time I went to Otaru, a port on the Western coast of Hokkaido, Japan’s most northerly (main) island. Walking through the peaceful streets at 5am having just disembarked following a long ferry crossing from somewhere else that wasn’t Otaru, I forget where, my attention was caught by a man weeing in the street ahead of me.

I wasn’t particularly fussed by this. I mean, it was 5am, and there was no-one else around. Perfectly understandable behaviour. But that in turn did remind me of a public urinal incident that had caught me off-guard some years previously.

I was in the Lancashire town of Preston (it must have been an accident, I can’t think of any other reason why i should have been in such a place). I decided to buy a newspaper, and so spotting a newspaper vendor on the other side of the street, crossed the road. He was your average seller – man in his 50’s behind a little stand that was piled high with figures on the previous day’s local muggings. Anyway, as I appraoached his little stand, I noticed a steaming trickle emerging from beneath it, running across the pavement onto the road.

Hmm, nice.

I decided to go to WHSmiths at that point.

“Preston Town, Preston Town, I don’t know why you get me down” go the lyrics to one of my brother’s compositions.

Anyway, back to the Meiji Emperor…

(now you see, if I could link every fact uncovered by my Issues in Modern Japanese History module to a story like that, I’d have no problem recalling stuff in tomorrow’s exam.) (mind you, I didn’t run out of things to say this morning. managed 17 sides of A4 in three hours.)(all waffle mind you.)(and tip-ex.)(ok, ok, I’ll get back to my revision now.)(oh, I forgot, I was going to make a cup of tea about an hour ago…)

Happy

What the hell is wrong with me? It’s the start of exam week – and I’m feeling really happy!

Could it be the fact that life is wonderful?

Or is it just the sex?

No, can’t be that, it’s been 2 days.

Hmmm…

1 down, 2 to go

Phew. That’s War and Peace dealt with. No problems there, the questions were just as expected, and I felt I knew enough to be able to answer at least 5 of the 8, even though only 3 were required. Bit of a bummer in that I spent most of yesterday reading up on East Timor – and there was no East Timor option!! Sod’s law.

It wasn’t plain sailing though. ooooooh no. no sireeee. not by a longshot. In no way shape or form. Ok, I think you get the idea.
Thing was, the exam was held in a tin shack built in the 8th century BC, which remained as cold as it had been in the ice age.

The heating system was broken. It was only at 11.30am, that is, with just thirty minutes of the three-hour exam left to go, that the invigilator apologised to us for the lack of heating and said it had just been fixed, and the place should start to warm up soon.

In front of him, the 150 statues frozen in the pose of students hunched over examination tables didn’t react. Oh, except for one, whose nose fell to the ground and shattered into a thousand shards of ice.

Anyhow, I have sent off my campaigning emails to the examinations office – if enough of us complain our marks will be adjusted accordingly.

Meanwhile, back in the Arts Tower, an essay awaited collection. I was, i must admit, rather dissapointed, as I didn’t get a first. No, in fact I was 5 points off, at 65%. Oh well, looks like I’m set for a II.1 this semester.

Anyway, I’m now incredibly tired having got up at 7am, so I shall love you and leave you, and have a nap, maybe.

Oh, did someone mention something about another exam in 19 hours?

Time to Press the Button

T minus not very long and counting

So, just under 19 hours until my first 3-hour exam. Or, as I prefer to think of it, just under 22 hours until my first exam is over.

Naturally, this means I’ve been very busy today.

Spent 20 minutes trying to arrange 1000 staples so they’d fit back in their box properly.

15 minutes correcting a formatting error I made in one of my photo albums four years ago (it just couldn’t wait any longer).

20 minutes downloading videos from the BBC’s new archive video trial thing.

10 minutes cleaning out my pencil case.

Yes, I’ve been very busy, just haven’t had a moment for revision, what with all these pressing engagements…

Wish me luck.

Squirrels and the suchlike

Ok, I’m getting thoroughly sick and tired of study now. Another whole day of head buried in lecture notes. Arrgggghh.

In a bid to cling on to what little sanity I have, I have changed the scenery around my desk. Not that there was anything wrong with the old scenery, I just thought a change would be good. So yes, my desk is now about 10 miles from where it was this morning. It is now on English soil (or floorboards to be precise), as opposed to Welsh.

Mother and father have been providing amusement with tails of the next-door neighbour attempting to trap the family of grey squirrels that have been raiding the local bird feeders. He’s had mixed success, having accidentally caught a hedgehog (I didn’t ask what the hedgehog was doing up a tree), and having found the last of the three apprehended bushy-tailed thieves hanging upside down with a back leg in the trap, still breathing. Cute they may be, but at the end of the day, they remind me of American Culture (pardon the antonym) in a Japanese context, in that they are a) American in origin and b) have decimated our native little red squirrels.

Mum, over lunch, displayed the most shocking sign of aging to date. Just before the meal, she showed me her latest watercolour masterpiece (she really is a very good artist) – a young hare standing up, ears alert for any sound of the Big Brother theme tune, a classic sign that it’s time to run for cover. Anyway, having had a little conversation about the picture, and after I’d told her how good I thought it was, she put it away in her art folder, and served up the meal.

We shoot forward in time in the manner of someone in a twirly-whirly time machine – it’s now four minutes later. Conversation between mouthfulls of (what I have now discovered to be fart-inducing) bean curry, has turned to her art class again.

Suddenly, she breaks off, stands up, and goes into the other room, returning with her art folder.

“Oh, this is my latest piece” she says, pulling out a watercolour of a hare standing up with erect ears scanning the field for any sound of a Big Brother theme tune.

It’s only when I burst out laughing that she realises her mistake, and bursts out laughing herself.

It’s only when I burst out laughing that she realises her mistake, and bursts out laughing herself.

Well, we all do it sometimes I suppose.

The rest of the meal is packed with tales from dad of similar short-term-memory-loss situations he’s been in recently. One involved him in a sauna attempting to get everyone involved in conversation with a French man who lacked any English. This is quite typical of my father (breaking the barriers), an admirable trait, but also one that makes for rather time-consuming shopping trips as he has to attempt to make everyone in WHSmiths at least smile with some friendly / humorous remark. He usually has to be dragged away from the checkout, for fear of not getting back to the car before the meter runs out. Anyhow, back to the sauna. So, Dad got everyone to introduce themselves and say what they did for a living – and then attempted to translate this for the French guy. Unfortunately, much to the confusion of the other men and women present, when he got to the point of introducing Terry the Barber, his memory suffered a brief lapse, and he started to explain that Terry the Barber was a professional jockey. In bad French, with accompanying horse-riding gestures.

You can just picture it, everyone being so British and sitting there in embarrassed silence whilst he started whinnying like Black Beauty.

Another beautiful sunset here today.

Well, I’d best get on. I’m heading back up to Sheffield tomorrow, just for a week to do exams, then back down here to prepare for next semester.

Tarra!

Golly Golly Gosh!

What a long day indeedy it has been today, or yesterday, or tomorrow depending on who I am and where you are in the world.

It began for me some 16 hours ago when I woke up to the domino tones of an energised tory mp drossing on about some policy or other that the government is failing to introduce. It could only get better.

The morning then was spent reading up on North Korean ambitions (well wouldn’t you opt for Nuclear Weapons if your economy was in ruins and the only way to secure food for your people was to use them [your alleged nukes] as a bargaining chip between yourself and the world’s only superpower, that was constantly threatening you, labelling you as a part of an ‘axis of evil’ whilst simultaneously invading other nations similarly condemmed such as Afghanistan and Iraq?). Then I wrote an essay about it.

There then followed about an hour of cursing a wretched bit of software that refused to behave itself.

This afternoon I switched my attention to East Timor (what are the consequences of East Timorise independence for Indonesian security and that of the wider region?). Learnt a fair bit, then wrote a short essay about it.

Arm’s killing me.

Stepped outside the front door for about 30 seconds to get the day’s only fresh air.

This evening: read up on environmental security, wasted an hour or so installing a random photo thing in this here Daily Mumble, then learnt 10 kanji, all their readings and 50 compounds.

All this interspersed with random snatches of amusing if somewhat distracting online videos, and emails to my beloved.

Hurrah for me!!

And now I’m going to bed! Double Hurrah!!!

I am such a good boy!

I wrote another essay this evening. This time about the Spratly island dispute (it’s a bunch of islands in the South China Sea claimed by six nations. I argued that that dispute is way more volatile than either North Korea or the Taiwan issue. Let’s hope that question comes up next week eh?)

Tomorrow I have East Timor and, oh, North Korea to look forward to. And, if I’m really good, perhaps a third essay on Environmental Security.

The idea is that I get War and Peace in East Asia revision done by tomorrow night, then I can move on to Issues in Modern Japanese History – do that Friday and Sunday (Saturday is spent revising Kanji and grammar on the train back to Sheffield), then I can revise grammar after my exams on Monday and Tuesday in preperation for that exam on Thursday.

last minute? me? noooooo…

5 days and counting

Ah, the relief! I have just completed my first revision-exam-test thing, whereby I give myself one hour to write an essay answering one of last year’s exam questions. I chose the one that I find the most difficult – get it out the way you know. What was the title? Er, oh yeah, “How useful are theories of international relations (realism, liberalism, constructivism) for making sense of East Asian security?”

Of course what I’ve written may be a pile of tripe, and of course I should have done this about two weeks ago (5 days to go until the exam. 6 days until the other exam, 8 days until the final exam.) Can’t wait till they’re over. I get almost two days off then in which I can play with my girlfriend… (eat, watch dvds, go shopping etc). After that I’m coming back here to the middle of the Welsh outback in order to prepare for next semester. I am NOT going to let myself get in this last-minute-panic situation again. Silly boy.

Was so stressed last night I just couldn’t sleep at all, more bad dreams too. I knew I’d have bad dreams, as I saw a cloud above my bed before I went to sleep. Silly of me to leave the window open I suppose. Oh, but at least my student loan came through. Shame I’m only mega-rich for four days – the rent goes out on Thursday, that’s about 1000 pounds.

I chopped a load of wood up today with a chainsaw, and then split it in two with an axe. That was very satisfying. Except for the bit at the end where the axe hit the bit of oak in a totally unconventional manner (must have been the postman walking by with a huge magnet in his bag that did it) and flew off at a silly angle, contrary to expectation, resulting in a pulled muscle in my back. Ouch.


Anyway my darlings, that is what is happening in my world at the moment. Oh, would you like to see a picture of me working? Would you? Would you? Oh, alright then, just for you.


xxx

Looking back at 2005

My body clock may be about two weeks late, but tonight I’ve been feeling kind of annual-review ish. I mean, not only has it just turned 2006, but also, I’ve turned 28.

I’ve just had a quick flick through my Mumble archives from last year – made me feel positively exhausted, I can’t believe I did so much.

January was dominated by exams.

February: oh yes, that uni-related anti-climax. I remember feeling really down because I hadn’t made any really really good friends. I mean I had, but we didn’t socialise much. More sort of study-friends who didn’t share much about our private lives. And I didn’t get any valentine’s cards. I hadn’t found a girlfriend – something that I had really wanted to do since settling back into the UK in late 2003.

March: got deeply engrossed in my course to make up for the lack of any form of social life. Rather enjoyed it. Went to a *pink party* hoping to meet someone. Ended up spending most of the evening whinging to some Russian bloke, getting very drunk on cheap red wine and dancing like a monkey in the corridor. Got quite drunk quite a lot that month actually. All connected with wanting to be wanted I seem to recall. Oh, went on that demo as well, outnumbered by police 10-1. Ah, then there was my teacher’s wedding, that was lovely…

April: Chased by a Giant Cornish pasty. Also, felt moved to write “Oh f*** I really really do want a girlfriend. It’s the having someone to cuddle up to at night. Never mind the sex, really , I am willing to sacrifice my sex life (you know, the non-existent one) if for some strange reason you, that lovely lady out there, does not like sex, I am perfectly happy just to have you with me at night to cuddle, and push out of my single bed onto the floor when it’s time to really sleep, like teddy at the moment. And believe me, soon enough you’ll become addicted to the sex too, in addition to being pushed out of bed when I’m on the brink of dreams. I give him a pillow to lie on on the floor mind – and I’d be willing to give you two. It’s just not natural is it, for a perfectly healthy, mentally unstable 27-year-old lad like myself to not have anyone to cuddle on a regular basis for, bloody hell, over TWO YEARS now!! That is shocking, is it not? … I tell you, it’s this being in England business. English women just don’t like me.

May: Became an uncle for the 2nd time. Started planning my trip to Japan. Set the microwave on fire. Felt sexually frustrated. Dressed up in women’s clothing to see if that would help. Had a huge epileptic seizure. Got burgled.

June: Took a load of exams, finished my first year of Uni. Flew to Japan. There, embarked upon an emotional rollercoaster, tying up loose ends from a former relationship. Killed a load of cockroaches. Lay on my futon for a whole week, drinking sake and watching Japanese TV. Met a tie-dye dog. Went to work as a volunteer on an organic charcoal farm. Built a log cabin.

July: Still in Japan, became embroiled in a very complex ‘relationship’ of sorts, whereby myself and a friend used one another as substitutes for things that were out of reach. Was shown incredible kindness, but also suffered a lot of emotional blackmail! Met up with old friends, found a building with a motorway that went right through the middle of it. Traveled 1000km west from Tokyo to become a volunteer on an organic mikan (Satsuma) farm in the middle of nowhere in the Japanese outback. Found myself in the middle of a flock of Jellyfish.

August: Set out on a 1000km hitch-hike back to Tokyo, which eventually took 27 hours, and involved sneaking into the back of a truck at 3am, being the benefactor of astonishing generosity, constantly being watched by a revolving police patrol car, hiding for several hours in a waiting room for fear of being discovered by station staff. Saw a VERY big bunch of bananas too. Ran out of money. Left my camera in a restaurant and subsequently missed my flight back to the UK. Went to a Welsh wedding (which involved a very embarrassing farting incident).

September: Fooled into thinking I was a stepladder by my epilepsy (had up to 40 seizures a day), discovered I had an unsupported personality, moved into a new cupboard in Sheffield. Wrote “Shit, I really want a girlfriend this year, I really do. It’s so dangerous though, getting together with people when one is feeling so needy. Can make such bad mistakes. Wrong reasons etc. And the timing! It’s not good, I’m going away for a year as of next summer… and I don’t want to ‘settle down’ yet, want to have fun…

…and then I think, but cripes joseph, if she was “The One”, not that you believe in “The One” concept, but say just for argument’s sake that she was, well, you know, if she was everything you dream of in a girlfriend (thing is, my list of requirements grows year on year, thus meaning that this ‘ideal partner’ is increasingly unlikely to exist! Bachelorhood Here I Come!), then there would be no fear of committing yourself to her …right? You would not lose your freedom, for you would not be left wanting outside of all that you share together. This fear of losing your freedom is your strongest motive for Not Getting Involved, no?”

A few days later I was invited to a Sushi party, and there, I met *cough*. A couple of days later, I met her again, and wrote “Had a really stimulating chat with Taku and Hiroko (not her real name, because if I told you Julia’s name she might get a bit upset about the exposure on the www), two of the exchange students here. I really like Taku, he’s so open, so open with his thoughts and feelings, and so open to others. And Hiroko… Her sisters went to a Scottish school modelled on Summerhill, whilst she herself went to a Japanese school also modelled on Summerhill. She has a really lovely smile …and I want to get to know her better. I want to work through that stage of getting-to-know each other, and reach the plateau of friendship with its cherry trees in full bloom and happy birds singing. I want to see her again and just talk and explore… but I’ll have to wait until Saturday, and I doubt I’ll have a moment to relax then as I’ll be runnng the show alongside Will. I should sleep. It’s almost 2am, and I’m very tired. Times are exciting, but I’d like them to get a little more so.”

A few days later I wrote “saw Hiroko today. *Sigh* She was looking so smiley and lovely again. I wanted to ask her for her number – it’s no big deal as everyone is swapping numbers at the moment, new term and all that. But I didn’t. Well, I’ll see her on Saturday. …ahhh. Sigh. Hmmm… Mind you, I don’t feel any sudden urge to jump into bed with her, I wonder if there’s something wrong with me? Mind you, I would like very much to kiss her, and perhaps cuddle and touch and… oh sod it I can’t kid myself – I’d love to sleep with her.”

The following day, I accidentally sent “Hiroko” an email with a link to the webpage on which all of that was written.

October: It was love – a complete stranger called Tony sent me an email reading “PLEASE GET BACK TO ME IF YOU CAN FILL MY LIFE WITH LOVE AND JOY BECAUSE THATS WHAT YOU ARE GOING TO GET FROM ME IN RETURN.” I apologized to Tony, telling him that he was 1 week late. The thing was, I had met someone, and she was the loveliest girl in the world.

November: The romance continued, but the stress of Uni started to mount up. Still, at least we weren’t following Japanese norms, as revealed by the latest Global Sex Survey results.

December: Although uni work completely took over all my waking hours, I somehow managed to find time to slip into a little red dress and strut my stuff for the benefit of 110 unwitting Japan soc members. Christmas was a lovely relaxing, drunken affair, spent with family and friends.

So, all in all, quite a year in the life of the Tame. A bloomin good year actually. Ok, so my epilepsy made a forceful return, but hey, these things happen, and I swear if I hadn’t had that seizure I wouldn’t have passed my Korean exam. Thing is, although the seizure resulted in me not being able to revise at all for my exams, I don’t think that I would have passed the Korean exam if I hadn’t had the doctor’s note, as I hadn’t done enough reading for it during the semester, and the exam paper was made up of really tough questions,. like, “What was the name of the King Chi’s second dog-in-law who liked to sleep a lot during the early 11th century.” I kid you not.

And, finally, many many months of alcoholic loneliness came to an end. I have never felt so settled and lacking in fear of the future in a relationship before now. I feel the time is right for this.

I’m still enjoying my course a great deal. Just wishing I’d managed my time more effectively last semester, and actually done the required reading! I really love my module topics, history has a hold on me now (where did that come from?) (although I don’t see myself using it career wise), and the language continues to provide me with endless hours of frustration and pain! Let’s hope it pays off next year..

Goals for this year: to try my hardest to get a good result for my second year at uni, a 2:1 will be ok..

To continue to learn more about my partner everyday, and to help her do the same with me.

To control my stress levels through effective time management, and by saying “NO” a lot more!!

To get a scholarship for my stay in Japan next academic year.

To learn as much as possible as I can from my course. Knowledge is a precious gift, and I must seize this opportunity.

To try my hardest in everyday life to develop my Japanese language skills, especially once back in Japan in August / September.

To continue to feel so damn lucky to have this wealth of opportunities, to be able to choose what I want to do, without feeling pressured by social constraints.

To continue to thoroughly appreciate the love, care and friendship given to me by those around me.

To stop writing lengthy Mumbles when I should actually be studying, or asleep.

Happy 2006!

Good night.

Full Moon

It’s full moon tonight.

Makes me want to howl like a wolf. For stereotypical reasons you understand.

Of course the problem with trying to photograph a full moon through the trees is that it’s just too bloomin bright, thus negating it of all its moon-ness.

Well, I suppose I can still howl, and dream of days gone by when it was a proper moon made of cheese. Or a button, visited by a bunch of kitchen utensils on pieces of string.



Satisfaction

I don’t need no Snickers bar to feel satisfied. Oh no, just sit me down with 60 Kanji (Japanese characters) and tell me to learn them. How to read them (up to about 4 different readings per character depending on context), how to write them (anything up to about 20 pen strokes per character). Oh, and 300 words that are made up of kanji compounds.

Yes, I have finally conquered all the kanji that we were given to learn for the first half of last semester. Kanji is my BIG weak point when it comes to Japanese. Thing is, I really do like them, but they aren’t half scary, and due to the workload last semester they were the first thing to be thrown out of the window (there were no regular assessments that counted towards our final result).

Today though, I have reached that point where I can read and write every single compound on my sheet, plus of course their meanings in English. Hurrah!

Now I just have to learn the other 6 weeks worth. Imagine if I’d done this when I was supposed to. Imagine the time I’d now have to revise my grammar, and read up for my other exams. Oh well, I won’t be making this mistake next semester,

It’s been a nice birthday though. I’ve spent a fortune returning text messages! Thank you, everyone. Mum #3 made me a special birthday pudding which was grand, and I got completely wrecked on a 250ml bottle of beer J

Anyway, I now have a video conference to attend. Hopefully my lady friend will be just about to put her pyjamas on when the webcam kicks in *wicked grin*

tarra

another one bites the dust

…might be one way to put it. Personally though, I think that’s far too negative, and actually rather misleading.

The fact that yet another of my classmates has decided to quit uni is actually something to be applauded – not because I don’t like them, because I do, and I really enjoyed having more contact with her last semester (in comparison to the first year when we didn’t really get to know one another at all) – no, it is to be applauded because it’s a damn hard decision to make, especially at this stage of the game. Takes me back to when I quit college – the best thing I ever did, resulting in my embarkation upon a wonderful path that never would have come to light had I stuck to the main road.

Crikey, “takes me back” – now there’s a sign of aging if ever there was one. Speaking of which, it’s my birthday today. Thank you ever so much to all of you who sent me birthday messages from all over the world, I really appreciate it. In fact, with the exception of mum’s #2 & #3 it seems the further away from the UK people are the more likely they are to remember my birthday. Thank you also to those of you who sent me gifts, either via Amazon or through Paypal – exceedingly generous of you, I really really appreciate it.

I managed to escape the threat of cleaning out the gutters today thanks to a wall that is falling down the other side of the county (there is a direct connection, honest). Instead, I did some thoroughly rewarding log-splitting. Tis a joy when the log splits first time straight down the middle. ‘Takes me back’ to when (in 2000) I did the very same for weeks on end on a Swiss mountainside, with the aid of a tractor and a few friends.

Anyway, time for a birthday biscuit and a cup of tea. Then a bit more Kanji I think. Hurrah for Birthday kanji!! xxx

lichen on the tree of thought

Indeed.

So, finally, after two days of fiddling about with this template and changing millions of links contained within the Tame Goes Wild network I have managed to reach the point at which I can say, “Ok, I’ve wasted enough time on that for now. Did someone mention something about exams in 11 days?”

Yes, well, you see despite the convenience offered by Blogger (you know, like when you click on “Publish”, and a message appears saying “Sorry, publication unsuccessful”, and your masterpiece telling the story of how, yesterday, you managed to get the Broadband connection fixed by running after a white van with an orange light on top and pleading with the driver to plug his apparatus into your socket, is lost, completely, not even a Draft in sight…), I don’t like the idea of joining the Blogger bandwagon. I mean, this is Tame Goes WILD is it not, not Tame Makes Sure He Knows What’s Going On In The Big Brother Household. I do not wish to be tarred with the Blogger Brush.

Thus my attempts to make this page as Daily-Mumble ish as possible. Shame about the web address, and the “I swear at Blogger when it crashes” button on the right.

!! Warning !! Dull technical paragraph ahead!

Shame also about my inability to include that rather groovy javascript interactive menu bar (as seen everywhere else on TGW) – can anyone advise me on how I could get this file to appear centred no matter what the size of the window? (Line 450 is the one in question, [startMenu(‘root’, false, 110, 112, 0, hBar);] 110 being the position of the nav bar from the left hand side of the page – not much good when pages are re-sized unless one’s blog is aligned to the left, which I can’t do in Blogger I don’t think)

!! End of dull technical paragraph

Still, I am quite pleased with the result. Now, if only I was capable of writing something remotely interesting…

Ah, yes, so I sawed the top off a tree today. That was fun. Must remember next time to position myself below the cut. Dug up another few tree stumps. Exhausting. Yo know what, if I think back a few years, to when I first started work on the Welsh Garden Project, I can hardly believe that I managed to work for so long. 8, 9, or 10 hour days were not all that uncommon, and yet now 3 hours is enough to make me feel like I need a good lie-down, cup of tea, hot bath, massage, girlfriend to sooth away my aches and pains… (mind you, no matter how shattered I am she is always capable of making me feel like a spring chicken when it comes to bed time. I think I must have some special energy reserve which can only be triggered by the thought of, erm, annoying my neighbour. I think it is her ultra-sexiness that is mostly to blame).

Er, anyway. 28 tomorrow. Crikey, that means I’m 30 in two years, then 40 ten years after that. And I haven’t even started doing everything I want to do! Looking forward to the special day this year, as it will be spent cleaning out gutters. Ah, yes, the joyful task of shovelling leaf mould and bird droppings from soggy gulleys. Who could ask for anything more?! (The odd thing is though, I’m not in the slightest bit depressed about this prospect. I think life is just too much fun to get depressed about spending the most special day of one’s entire year with one’s hands embedded in poo!)

Anyway, I must read some stuff about some minority groups in Japan. That being those people who don’t know that God’s greatest gift to mankind womankind will, in a matter of months, be back on their shores.

tarra xxx

Noses and lace contraceptives

The weather is really blaaar today.

This morning I spent a couple of hours uprooting brambles, along with the stumps of a few trees I took down about two years ago, which was quite satisfying, although I kept on treading in doggy-do, which was not so satisfying. All this to the sweet melody of my own voice on my MP3 player telling me the meanings of a bunch of Kanji characters I should have learnt about 5 months ago.

Makes me feel the need to say Neeeeeeeah, like Bob the horse, who *cough* and I had an encounter with a week or two back.


Gosh, that nose is bigger than mine!

…Speaking of which, I have had to install a tap due to the never-ending flow of snot that insists on drizzling forth unhindered by my sniffs. I think it suits me, in a kind of “I’m only a black-and-white drawing” type way.


oh crikey, my insurance is up for renewal – this fact led me to make the mistake of checking out how much a replacement would cost for this laptop, which retailed for about £2,300 when I bought it 3 years ago.

We’re talking about £500 now if I bought if from the manufacturer! Crikey oh riley, considering last night I very nearly had to carry out a format and reinstall this is very tempting… At least it would be if I had £500. What can I sell? Hmm, my gf has exclusive rights to my most valuable asset, so that leaves, er, a few old CDs? Or, of course, I could just wait for you to click on that “make a Donation” button on the right… pretty please with a cherry on top.

II suppose it kind of makes sense for me to wait until I’m back in Japan later in the year. head on over to Akihabara, scene of two laptop purchasings by myself in the past. Very cheap there, although when it comes to export models the choice is limited.

Oh, I know, I could sell someone else’s latest invention – the Lace Condom…


Perfect for delicate love-making.

Ho hum. I’d better get on with my reading. Today: can any responsibility for Japan’s wartime conduct be attributed to Emperor Hirohito?

Raaaaaaaaaaaaaa.

The all-new Radio Controlled Iron

Do your legs get tired when ironing your husband’s Y-fronts? If so, then this is for you!

The Radio-Controlled Iron is the latest product to reach European shores from the mysteriously exotic oriental islands of Japonica in the Far East. Simply place the RadiRon on your ironing board, on top of his freshly laundered briefs, and sit back with a cup of coffee and the multi-functional control unit!

Backwards, forwards, and even sideways – you can dictate its every move, all from the comfort of your armchair!

This new model now comes complete with a ‘Power Steam’ button, should he have any stubborn wrinkles that refuse to be smoothed away by heat alone.


Caution: Dead batteries in the transmitter can lead to air-conditioned pants.

All Change

Hello, and a Happy New Year to you all. Josephine here with the all new Daily Mumble, totally redesigned in a kind of it-looks-just-like-it-did-before type way.

Victim of its own success, that’s what it is. My server is groaning under the strain of over 19,000 visits a month …and thus demanding further finance to keep it in Weetabix for another year. Alas, poor student that I am, I am unable to lavish it with such niceties, and so in an attempt to cut the volume of traffic passing down this particular disinformation dirt road by 45% I am resorting to a day-by-day approach to bringing The Daily Mumble to your doorstep. Of course, if you’re clever and use RSS this won’t really affect you in the slightest, except for having to change your bookmark. The rest of you, you’ll just have to lump it. Dial-up users – I am not pandering to your patheticness, it is merely conincidence that ths move is beneficial to you.

In order to relieve you of the guilt that I know you feel as a result of spying on my private life, I now give you the option of sending a donation to help with the upkeep of The Daily Mumble (Paypal donation button above right). It’s my brithday soon (13th Jan), so why not donate, say, £25 / $50 dollars, and instruct me to use it to take my darling girlfriend out for a romantic candlelit dinner – then write all about it in The Daily Mumble, with full credit given to YOU! Yes, YOUR NAME in the Mumble! I know, I should set a minimum donation of about $400 for that, but no, you can donate as little (or as much!) as you like!

So, 2006 indeed. I must say, it’s been bloomin fantastic so far, as I have done precisely NO work and precisely NO study. No, instead I have been trying to come to terms, yet again, with how amazingly sexy my *cough* is, as pictured below on a hill that overlooks my home county of Herefordshire.


Anyway, I will tell you all about it over the next few days. But for now, that’s your lot, as I need to go to bed and dream of my cutey, who I hope is sleeping peacefully 3 hours north of here.

Later…

New Year’s Eve

Seems like it was last year.

As is traditional, the day hosted the the big Tame Family Annual Gathering. Initially pretty stressful (as family gatherings can be), everyone mellowed out as the evening wore on. In fact, one of our company got a little too mellow, following in my Christmas Eve footsteps and getting completely trashed on gin, locking themselves in the bathroom and causing a huge flood. Hardly surprising considering the stress they were under.

My baby and I didn’t really see any of that though, as we were in bed by 11.15pm. “lightweights!” you may cry, but I tell you, the fireworks in the valley below went off at just the right moment – the perfect way to see in the new year tee hee…

New Year’s Day was a lovely affair. Woken from our slumber at 10.15am by siblings singing ‘We Wish You a Merry Christmas’ outside the caravan door, after morning necessities, slowly hauled ourselves into the house, just in time for a fantastic Christmas / Birthday / New Year celebratory dinner (NYDay being Dad’s Bday too). The meal, which mum had been planning for a few years, was bloomin gorgeous, and everyone was happy and joyful and larks sang their little voices out, before dad managed to catch them and carve their heads off.

I received some lovely presents… but the lovliest was the mere presence of my *cough* (here seen holding my nephew edmund).

I don’t quite know how, but she somehow managed to survive meeting my entire family. Parents. Siblings. Partners. Children. Not only that, she also met a big bunch of my friends at a reunion thingy, AND mums #2 and #3.

Every day she got cuter and cuter, even though she was incredibly cute last year. We spent quite a bit of time with my super groovy nephews too – they being jamie and eddie, and mum, Jessie, who is definatly the most amazing mum in the whole world ever.



The evening was spent… er, it escapes me, but I’m pretty sure it was all very nice and groovy..

It really has done me the world of good, having this break from it all. I feel super relaxed for the first time since last summer. Hurray for Holidays I say. Raaaa!