Wednesday, 25 February 2009

All Grown Up

Did you ever see that show? the spin off of The Rugrats? Was amazing.


I am happy about the response my last video is getting, a lot of healthy debate, a few of the good old haters. I know I've picked a good topic in a video when I get haters a few hours into posting :)

Today I got offered to teach another class at the Institute where I work and volunteer. With a pay packet and everything. I get to meet the class on Friday before making a decision, which is nice, I can't deny I'm bricking it though.

Part of me is scared I am taking on too much all at once, I still feel like I did when I was 15 (minus the alcohol) but all of a sudden I'm teaching people more than twice my age more than 6 hours a week and being payed for it. Before teaching I had only ever worked behind bars and done some manual temp work, and this seems so real it's freaking me out a little bit.

I'm worried about getting in over my head, that I am committing too quickly, that I am selling off all of my free time (6 hours a week doesn't seem like a lot but then you have to add marking and planning on top of University class and work as well as the volunteering I do it stacks up).

I'm not even sure if I'm that good...

I think I just needed to put down somewhere that I am shit scared about what is happening in my life right now, how real it has all suddenly become.

I think that is all...

Saturday, 21 February 2009

Two Kinds

Something interesting happened at work today.

On Saturdays I volunteer my time to tutor a 15 year old kid called Kenny. He is a good kid, if a little over influenced by porn, swearing and grand theft auto. I have to bribe him with Haribo to stop him using the word 'Fuck'.
He is mildly autistic and I help him with English language things, I have recently been reading through 'Two Kinds' with him, a short story by the American author, Amy Tan. I chose it because it is written from an ABC's perspective (American Born Chinese) and as Kenny is a BBC (British etc etc) and thought he would have a lot to relate too.

For those of you that didn't take GCSE English at around the same time as me (it was one of the set texts for Eng. Lit) here is a quick synopsis:

Amy, a girl of about 9 or 10, is being groomed by her mother to become a 'prodigy'. They go through lots of different options, electing which 'kind' of prodigy Amy is going to be. As they trial each variety Amy looses faith in the promise her mother has given her of becoming a famous child prodigy, and there is a moving scene where Amy looks at herself in the mirror, realises she is just normal and will never stand out, and just breaks down, later vowing that she will never set her hopes high again, she will not be changed by her mother.
Her mother however pursues this dream of fame and stardom, making Amy take piano lessons with a deaf piano teacher and eventually enters her into a local talent competition. Amy refuses to practice and deliberately does badly which results in her falling out with her mother. 'The' line if the story is, "there are two kinds of daughter, those that obey their mothers and those that don't".

You can read it >>HERE<< if you like.

There is one paragraph that rang true with me and I thought applied well to Kenny and his situation. Here it is:
"So maybe I never really gave myself a fair chance. I did pick up the basics pretty quickly, and I might have become a good pianist at the young age. But I was so determined not to try, not to be anybody different, and I learned to play only the most ear-splitting preludes, the most discordant hymns."

Unless you give yourself a chance, you will never amount to anything past the expectations you have of yourself. In this case, Amy would never amount to being anything other than a mediocre piano player. I was talking to Kenny about it, and he mentioned his autism and said that he was dumb and couldn't do his times tables past 7. I made him read this paragraph again, and again. He said he still didn't get it.

And I will now tell you what I said:
"Kenny, unless you stop making excuses for yourself you WON'T amount to anything. In the story Amy refuses to believe she will be anything other than normal, she uses it as an excuse not to succeed. As long as you use your Autism as an excuse not to succeed you will never overcome it, you will never surpass it and become more than it. You are by no means dumb, you notice and come up with original ideas when we talk about the stories and poems we read. And you know more about the Godfather than anyone I know!"

He then kinda blew me away by reciting me the history of the series, I'll be honest quite a lot went over my head.

So, our lesson of the day had nothing to do with themes or metaphors or poetic devices. We learned that there are Two Kinds of people in this world, those that set the bar high and believe that they can reach it, and those that don't; be one of the people that believe.

I feel all philosophical and stuff now :)

Keep Safe

Thursday, 19 February 2009

This was gonna be a happy Blog...

Today was gonna be a happy blog, I got a first in an essay I handed in over Christmas and just generally had a really good day.
But then I got this in the post:
For those of you not in the UK; over here we have to pay a TV licence fee. It's about £140 a year, I think. This fee goes towards mainly the BBC so that they can produce really good programmes, which they do! I have no problem with the licence fee itself, I think a public funded BBC is fantastic.

But the thing I have a problem with is the fact that I don't have TV in my room and therefore do not have to pay.
As a result of this I regularly get angry, rude and threatening letters that refer to me simply as "The legal occupier of Flat 74.2".

Let me recount to you a lovely extract from the letter I have received.

"Now that enforcement officers have been scheduled to visit student addresses in your area, you should know what to expect in the event that you are prosecuted for using TV without a licence."

"... in the event that you are prosecuted", If that doesn't imply that I AM going to have the full force of the law thrown at me regardless as to whether I watch television in my flat or not then I don't know what does.
It goes on to tell me what will happen if they prosecute me, including what will happen when I go to court, the inevitable fine etc.
I have had this the past two years as I have lived without a television, constant threatening letters from the council that, quite honestly, verge on spam.

The most annoying aspect is that I am a law abiding citizen, I have done nothing wrong, but I am being talked to as if "you haven't payed your TV licence, therefore you MUST be watching a TV illegally, you are therefore a criminal."
If this is a tactic of them to try and get people to pay then quite frankly I think it is disgusting. I can imagine the amount of people who pay the fee just to stop the letters (there is a phone number they offer but I am not wasting my phone bill on them).

I think the BBC and even the licence fee are a good thing. The BBC is one of the things in this country we can be really proud of and I would be happy to fund it. But this makes me resent paying (when I eventually have to) and therefore resent the fee and in turn the BBC.
If you want people to pay show them how fucking amazing the BBC is; how their money contributes to the best broadcasting group in the world, make them feel a part of it and therefore proud of it.

This seems to be a recurring theme recently on this blog but Gordon Brown is like a broken record when it comes to talking about the elusiveness of "Britishness". Well no wonder we have this problem, of the corporations that represent us, are choosing to alienate us rather than make us feel included.

I am a law abiding citizen, stop making me feel like a criminal.

Friday, 13 February 2009

Thought Provoking?

- Sometimes I like to be all thought provoking in this blog, an extension of my news videos.

- Sometimes I like to tell and show you things about my life, an extension of my Vlog videos.

but sometimes, just sometimes, I like to show you the occasional fat ninja and geisha:

I love the gmail custom settings and the creativity thereof.

Saturday, 7 February 2009

La Música

I am so weak when it comes to CDs.
haha, I just realised you can figure out exactly how much I spent from this picture as well. So no need to tell you :)
One of my tutees didn't turn up for his lesson today so I had a long lunch and went shopping and got the Slumdog Millionaire soundtrack and the Supremes and Beatles greatest hits. I also wanted to get myself some new gloves and jogging bottoms but then realised that I failed in funds.
I did something interesting today... at least it was interesting for me.
I completely started a fresh with my iTunes. It felt kinda liberating, cuz I had a lot of dead weight on there in terms of songs I never listened to, so it feels nice to have a new start. I have imported my CD collection (which is ridiculously vast) and am now gonna ask people on skype to send me music and therefore start some playlists that are contributed by lots of lovely people. I think it will be nice especially seeing as I'm gonna be away for such a long time in China in the comming year. Music is the best way to remember things and people.
If you see me on Skype then send me over some stuff, it'll be nice. You can have a playlist on my iPod dedicated to you :)
I also found a couple of bands I like a lot. One is the one that was used in PJ's featured vid. It's a guy who goes by the name of Ghost Hardware and he is very good. It reminds me a lot of Postal Service for some reason. Find the music >>HERE<<

The second is a band that cam into the FuseFM studio today who have had me singing their song in my head for the past 5 hours. They are called The Momeraths (not sure how to pronounce it) and remind me of... Magic Numbers... kinda. Just listen to them >>HERE<<

Tuesday, 3 February 2009

Shoes be a' flyin'

I think yesterday or the day before a shoe was thrown at the Chinese Prime Minister as he hosted a lecture at the Cambridge University.
While the British press simply deadpaned the news the Chinese blogs erupted. You can read some of the Chinese reactions >>HERE<< if it pleases you.
Although we shouldn't condone this, part of me does feel a little twinge of British pride.

For a while now (certainly throughout my lifetime) Britain has come across as a bit of a brown-noser when it comes to the international scene. Whether it be Tony following George into Iraq like his little lap dog or Gordon refusing to see the Dalai Lama for fear of upsetting the Chinese.
Good old Gordon is always droning on about 'Britishness' and what it means to be a citizen of this country, and if this is how we portray ourselves internationally then no wonder half the country is turning to drink. We might as well be a nation without a back bone.

I don't know if the guy who threw the shoe was British or not. Regardless, it is us who are the focus of the incident and more specifically the reputation of Cambridge in China. And from what I have heard from people I have talked to this about... we don't really care.
The people aren't worried about what China will think, which kind of gives me some hope, that we as British people are more than our politicians. We are above this search for Britishness and above the pathetic incapability of our leaders to make their own decisions.

We are British, and quite frankly, we don't give a shit.


Sunday, 1 February 2009

the one with pictures and maps

First things first, IT'S SNOWING!

Also I wanted to show you pictures from my day in London which involved the RNLI silent disco (a video in which you can see me making a fool of myself and being sexy, HERE) and generally chilling and being very cool with Mhazz.

To represent the silent disco that we did in the middle of rush hour in Waterloo station (initially very embarrassing, gradually one of the best things in life ever) here is a still from some video footage I took of Iain being the personification of awesome. The footage itself is very funny and will be in a vlog shortly.I love him.

After much walking around the city of London which included making Mhazz listen to me talk for about half an hour about the importance of jade (the stone, not the Goody) in the Qing dynasty and a lovely lunch with Lex (alliteration ftw) we ended up near Liverpool street killing time before I met my Dad to go home. We stumbled across this restaurant very near to Tom's favourite shop, The Duke of Uke. This particular restaurant was very special as you can see from the following picture of said establishment and Mhazz being very cute.

A classic routemaster (you like the pun, 'Rootmaster'? It made me chuckle) bus that are becoming really rare in London. It's a vegan and organic restaurant and they played very cool Spanish music. I forgot to ask them what they were playing, which was a bummer.

The kitchen area was downstairs and the seating either upstairs or outside. It was bloody freezing so we chose upstairs and became very quickly fascinated with the old fashioned wind down windows. We also saw this through the window... which confused us a little.
I swear the thing that has been strategically placed on top of the car belongs in Super Mario or something. regardless, very cool!

I am going to put the google/maps reference here if anyone is ever in London and wants to go check it out, I highly recommend it. It's about a 10 minute walk from Liverpool St. station.

View Larger Map

That is all. Yes, my next vlog will be done without clothing on my lower half. I am off to play Travian. My username is JieRen and my first city is called Xincheng if you care (Chinese geekyness ftw!). I am on server4.