Archive for October, 2010

A Lot of Good Food, Carving, and Weird Games

Posted in Culture, Food, Friends, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , on 31/10/2010 by arabrhizome

So again today I hung out with friends and had very good food. It was duck based today, and was brilliant. I really like duck. It’s one of my favourite birds to eat. But the way it was made today was incredibly good. Also, I carved my first pumpkin ever. It is a munchkin pumpkin, which makes it harder to carve. Anyway, we carved one each. Here are a few pictures of mine. I also took a picture of it next to a mug so you get an idea of its size.

My Munchkin Pumpkin

Size Comparison

It looks good doesn’t it. I also like very much the fact that my writing is between the two pictures. It’s very weird looking. So, As you can see I was able to do an alright job with it, even though it is so small. I have to say that everyone else did well also. It wasn’t a competition, even if some people took it to be one, you know who you are.

Anyway, after the carving we had some very good food. As I said, it was duck based, but did the job very well. By the end of the meal we were all making very satisfied noises. In fact, we communicated through them. I’ve had two excellent dinners two days in a row. I cannot complain about this in anyway. I am now ready to start a new week of work, and hopefully get a bit of the chapter done. I doubt that I will start writing this week, but you never know. I am ready to face a long and intensive week of work.

After our dinner, we played this very strange game. It is supposed to be a drinking game. However, we played it without drinking. It involved figuring out the game. It’s very interesting to play. I’m not going to give it away now, as I might play it with some of you at some point. A was the one who initiated it. It was a little frustrating at first but then, after a very long time, I figured it out. Yes that’s right I was the first to figure it out, not that it was a competition or anything. Sorry that’s just for the benefit of one or two readers, but it is very funny to them.

After everyone figured it out, some of us wanted to punish A for his fiendish and frustrating game. So we decided to play another game, only this time he was going to be the victim. The game is called psychiatre (as in psychiatrist in French). It is also a complicated and interesting game. It also involves keeping the rules of the game a secret. Only it is directed at one, or more, people at a time. Basically, everyone knows what’s going on except the person who is trying to figure it out. It’s also a very frustrating, and somewhat cruel game to play. A had a bit of trouble but eventually figured it out.

All in all another good evening. I had a very good weekend. I like when weekends are nice and relaxing. I am now fully charged and ready to do what needs to be done. I need to try to sleep early though tonight, as I want to actually make it to uni tomorrow early, and spend the whole day reading and writing. So I will leave you all right now and go and try to sleep.

Very Nice Evening

Posted in about the blog, Food, Friends, Me, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , on 30/10/2010 by arabrhizome

I had a very nice evening today. I had dinner with a couple of friends. We’ve been planning to do things together, basically since I came to Nottingham. So it was nice to finally go over to their place and hang out. We had excellent food. It was this very tasty piri piri chicken, with a nice side of potatoey/fetaey goodness, and a very good side salad. All in all an excellent dinner.

Their place is fantastic. It is a lovely flat that overlooks the city. It is very tastefully furnished and feels like a very nice place to be in. I think that the only way in which this place could be better is if it was in London. Although I’m sure they wouldn’t agree. Anyway, after this lovely dinner, we talked for a very long time and had a lot of fun. We also played some PS3, which is always fun. I can’t wait for the next time we hang out. I hope it doesn’t take a month or something before we hang out again.

Other than that my day was very unremarkable. Nothing of particular note happened. I was supposed to go to uni to work, but then found myself doing things at home and so decided to stay home and do that some other day. I did some uninteresting but necessary admin work, like filling up supervision reports, and replying to emails, also I paid a few bills. But really that was al that happened to me today.

I really don’t have much to say other than that. But I thought that this could be something of a subject to write about. Let me explain. I have had a couple of very short uninteresting posts lately. Also, I have been treating this a bit too much like a personal diary, which it isn’t supposed to be. It is clear that because it is a daily blog, there will be a lot of autobiographical self indulgence. However, the point of this is for it to be a writing exercise. I need to find something interesting that has happened to me, or that I have thought about, and write at least 500 words about it. I have failed at doing this a few times.

So anyway, I need to do that more consistently. It is late tonight though and I am very tired. So I thought I would tell you about the drunk zombie who was sleeping on the door of my friends’ building very quickly. So After the lovely evening, and as we were leaving we got out of the elevator and got to the front door. Outside there was a boy with his head on the handle sleeping on the door. So I got near and knocked on the door as I was opening it. The boy lifted his head, he was wearing zombie make up and let us out. We were afraid that we were letting in the building a drunk, potentially violent although in his state he wasn’t going to hurt anyone but himself, and probably by walking into a wall or falling off stairs.

So we got out and looked back. The thing is he did not go into the building, but instead put his head back on the door and tried to sleep, standing up by the way I failed to mention this earlier, on the front door. It was quite disturbing yet extremely funny to witness. I really hope this boy doesn’t hurt himself. He will wake up feeling very very badly. I know this because when we walked next to him, getting out of the building, he looked straight at us but clearly did not see us. He was so far gone that he must have thought we were part of his dream. In fact I suspect it wasn’t alcohol alone running through his system. Anyway, I will go to sleep now, as I am quite tired and would enjoy getting into bed very much. So good night.

Apartheid

Posted in about the blog, Culture, Me, Palestine, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on 29/10/2010 by arabrhizome

So I didn’t really know what to write about today. I did have a nice day. In fact, I had an excellent supervision. It seems my work is confident and well situated. I was very happy about that. It seems I produced in a week something that makes my chapter work a lot better than it did a week ago. So now I am looking forward to starting work on the next chapter, and hopefully get it done quickly. I have written extensively on that text before and so I think I can make a lot of progress quickly. At least that’s the hope.

Also, I had a nice evening with friends, we made crepes and had a good time. Nothing really special happened, but it was an enjoyable evening. I like that I’ve been a lot more sociable lately. It’s nice to hang out with good friends and do nice things.

But really that’s all I had. I thought that won’t cut it with my demanding and highly difficult to satisfy readership, which numbers in the tens… But then I read this. Now I know I bang on a bit about how israel is an apartheid state, but I think you will all agree that it is okay to denounce apartheid whenever one can. Israel has built a myth about itself in the world opinion, specifically in the west, as being the only democracy in the middle east. This of course is complete bullocks. Lebanon, with all its short comings is, and have been, a parliamentary democracy since its independence in 1943. Turkey, with all its imperial and colonial issues in Cyprus and with the Armenian and Kurdish minority problems, is a democracy. But more importantly, israel is a jim crow style segregated state and a south african style apartheid state.

This latest law is only the newest manifestation of this fundamentally racist face of the zionist ideology of the state. As the article points out, Arabs and Jews in israel are completely segregated. Without even mentioning the problems of the occupied territories, besieged Gaza strip, and the refusal to allow the original inhabitants of the land, who where forcibly moved out of their homes in 1948, to return, israel is an apartheid state. It is an ethno-theocratic state that aims to purify itself from the wrong kind of people.

Again, as the article points out, Arabs in israel have a very hard time getting permits to build houses. When they build them anyway, because otherwise they would have no place to live, they are forcibly evicted and their houses and villages are raised to the ground. There is a Beduin village in the Negev desert, for example, that has been demolished about 8 or 9 times in the last few months, because it is illegal. Of course the reason why these people are forced to build a whole village without the proper papers is never even brought up. The fact that it is done in this way is used as a justification for what is essentially ethnic cleansing.

The zionist movement has been trying to achieve the ethnic cleansing of Palestine since the establishment of the state of israel. It is also important to point out that it had begun this process even before that by using terrorism and violent intimidation. The Nakba isn’t the beginning of the Palestinian tragedy, it is the result of years of violent intimidation and terrorist attacks, including the King David hotel bombing, which was perpetrated by Tzipi Livni’s father’s terrorist organisation, and the Deir Yassine massacre. However, after the Nakba, the ethnic cleansing became more insidious. It involved, and continues to involve, making life very difficult for the Arab minority in israel. This includes the difficulty of getting building permits, but doesn’t stop there. Arab villages and towns are not developed by the state. I remember reading that a great number, I can’t find it anymore but it was in the tens of thousands, of arab homes are not connected to the sewage treating network. Water and electricity is not always available.

This, israel hoped, would slowly push the arab population to leave, thus achieving the dream of ethno-theo-purity. However, the Arabs are not leaving. In fact, they’re having babies and growing in number. This has led the israelis to refer to them as a fifth column and as a demographic time bomb, this is not a new phenomenon by the way. But more importantly, the western public opinion is starting to not believe the myth of israel as a democratic state. People are starting to see it for what it is, a colonial, imperial, racist, apartheid, violent, and militarised state. This seems to have led israel to try and accelerate its movement towards achieving the purity it has been seeking.

This means that we got the Nakba law, this is a law that makes it illegal to commemorate the Nakba, the laws that make it illegal for israelis to advocate BDS (Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions), the loyalty oath, which forces new citizens to pledge their loyalty to israel as a jewish and democratic state, and finally this racist law that makes it possible for people to refuse to allow groups to move into their towns because they are the wrong kind of human being. I am of course  not mentioning the racist and inflammatory remarks made by the spiritual leaders of some parties that are in the current government.

The point is all the pretence has now been abandoned it seems. Israel is proudly saying that it is an apartheid state that is designed for a group of people that share an ethnic/theological background and not for the wrong kind of ethnicity or religious affiliation. Forget about the fact that the people of the wrong kind of ethnicity are native to that land and that they have been dispossessed. It is time again to say no to israel. We cannot let this kind of behaviour pass. The only thing we can do is pressure our governments to act responsibly by writing to your MPs, Congress people, or whatever is the equivalent where you live asking them to do the right thing. It is also important for us as individuals to take action in every way we can. The most effective way forward seems to be the BDS movement. Israel is very upset about it, which means that it is working. All you have to do is check your labels when you go shopping and don’t buy products of israel or its illegal settlements and colonies. Also, read the list of companies that benefit from the occupation and apartheid and boycott them. It is not difficult to do, and yet it helps the oppressed in Palestine.

Teaching and Nice Conversations

Posted in about the blog, Culture, Food, Friends, Me, Uncategorized, Work with tags , , , , , , , , , on 28/10/2010 by arabrhizome

So I was supposed to wake up early and go to uni today. However, I ended up turning off my alarm in the morning, I slept quite late, and woke up properly around 10 or 11. I stayed home until it was time for me to go to class. So I left around 13:20 and made my way to uni.

My first class was excellent. The kids had clearly read the text and were very eager to discuss it. I had a lot of fun fun with them and came up with a few funny jokes. It’s nice to have such a smart and talkative group. We made a lot of progress and were able to do a lot of deep analysis. It was a good start for my teaching day.

The second section was a lot quieter. In fact I asked them a question very early on and no one answered. It was a very straight forward question that would be easy to answer for anyone who’s read the first few pages of the book we’re studying. I know that most of them did the reading, yet they weren’t answering. I decided to pull my trick of waiting in silence until someone answered. It’s a cruel trick, but it works. It tells them that I don’t mind staying silent until I get something out of them. Also, I have showed them time and time again that I do not dismiss their answers even if they’re not that accurate. So they shouldn’t be afraid to answer. So I waited for about five minutes just looking at them in silence until one of them answered. It felt like ten minutes, but as a friend noted later, it probably felt longer to them. That person answered the question well and the class went okay. I had to talk a lot more than what I was planning to, but I got them to engage a little bit.

The final section was a lot better. They didn’t talk as much as the first section, but were still quite engaged. We had a few nice points made and I enjoyed not talking as much as I had to in the previous section. This last section is quite late in the day and everyone, including me, is very tired by the time it starts. I don’t blame them for not being that energetic. I have to make up for it though by being quite enthusiastic.

It turns out that my enthusiasm while I teach is the major reason for the students enjoying my classes. I, it seems, am very enthusiastic and contagious in my enthusiasm. I don’t do it on purpose but it seems that my students enjoy it a lot. I don’t know how else to do it. It seems to be working so I’m not going to change my style.

After classes we went out to dinner at a Thai restaurant and had a lot of fun. The tiny bathroom did not have a working light in it though. This made the simple act of peeing and washing one’s hands a very difficult affair, that’s right I wash my hands when I pee. I am clean. We had a nice conversation on the extraordinary power of game reviewers and their biasses. I have realised that a lot of the leading reviewing sites like a specific kind of genre, or at least a small number of genres. They dislike JRPGs and always give them low marks. Also, they dislike the stuff that a JRPG fan likes, which is strange to me. Why ask someone who doesn’t like a genre to review  product in that genre? You wouldn’t ask a movie reviewer who likes art-house films to review the latest block buster. Yet somehow it seems okay to ask people who like first person shooters to review JRPGs.

Anyway, that’s a rant for another time. I am feeling tired and I’m actually looking forward to laying in bed and catching up on the programs I missed tonight. So I bid you all good night and hope this post begins to make up for the poor quality of posts of the last couple of days.

Almost Forgot Again

Posted in about the blog, Culture, Me, Uncategorized, Work with tags , , , , , , , on 27/10/2010 by arabrhizome

So I almost forgot to write this again. The main reason is that I don’t have much to say again. It’s been a very weird week. I have been stuck at home doing nothing. Well not exactly nothing. I have worked quite well today. But I’m in that weird phase of work where I’m not really writing, nor am I really reading. I’m basically compiling stuff in order to read and write next week. So I don’t have much to say about work.

I have discovered a free MMORPG. For those who don’t know MMORPG stands for massive multiplayer online role playing game. This one is quite fun very engrossing. It is simplistic in many ways, but I like that. There isn’t much of a a story to talk about. The game is called sacred season 2. Seasons play a role in it. And it is a very basic, evil power takes over nice land, you are a hero who will bring back peace to the world. Nothing special there. I am a winter hunter. Which means that I use bows and to be honest I’m not really sure what the winter bit does.

The game is basic in its gameplay as well. You get quests from villagers and go to a dungeon and grind your way through it. Quests are mainly about clearing dungeons, although some involve killing specific creatures or fetching some materials. It is repetitive, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing. The world isn’t massive, but it seems that it is expanding soon. I have been enjoying it.

Also, there is one mini-game which involves making phrases out of acronyms. It is one of the most fun bits of the game. However, you get points from people voting for you. This means that most people vote for things that sound funny, even if they don’t make any sense. I have come up with some very good ones, but like I said, most people will vote for funny sounding phrases rather than good ones. I am not bitter about this.

Anyway, I know it is another short post, but I need to get ready to sleep as my day tomorrow is very long. I need to get to uni early in order to complete my preparation for the classes in the afternoon. I really hope that my health holds tomorrow. I don’t want to have to stay home on Friday. I am missing the PGR room, I do a lot of good work there. So as I said, it is time for me to go. Hopefully, my full day tomorrow will provide material for my evening post.

Another One

Posted in about the blog, Me, Uncategorized with tags , , on 26/10/2010 by arabrhizome

Right so I need to write a blog post, but I have nothing to say. Literally nothing has happened to me today. I stayed home and asked my supervisors to reschedule my supervision. I worked a bit, not a lot. But that’s pretty much it. I did go to the supermarket in the afternoon, but nothing of note happened there. I got some food to keep me going this week and that’s all. I am getting a little bit bored but not enough to warrant a moan. So really I have nothing to write about. This is annoying, as I was starting to feel that I could write one of these no matter what happened. But it seems I can’t. So I’m afraid to say that I will leave it here. Just to tell you that I’m going to work a little bit now and hopefully not sleep too late. Well, sorry for the short one, I’ll try to rectify it tomorrow.

Still Ill

Posted in about the blog, Culture, Me, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , on 25/10/2010 by arabrhizome

Right, so I’m still ill. I have been given some medicine by the doctor last time I went to visit him. I started feeling better at the end of the week. But yesterday started feeling bad, and today continued to. I was supposed to go to uni today. But because I wasn’t feeling too well I decided to stay home. I didn’t really work very well, but I’m feeling a little bit better now. Also, I have a supervision tomorrow, so will have a lot of stuff to do after that, also with some direction, so tomorrow will be a heavy work day.

the doctor did say that it might take time. Also, he warned me that it might not work. I have an appointment with him in a week and a half. I hope I am better by then. I’m really not happy about this. It’s just inconvenient more than anything. I am looking forward to being better though. I haven’t seen A since he got back for example. I am hoping to go to uni all day tomorrow. Although that is still highly contingent on how I feel in the morning.

In other news, not much has happened to me today. I spent my day doing nothing of note. I did watch a lot of star trek though, and there’s nothing wrong with that. I really love star trek and kind of wish they would do a new series of it. It’s time to have a new series. I also watched a few days ago a new series on channel 4. It’s called the event, and the first two episodes are amazing. They were reminiscent of Lost and Flash Forward with a little bit of X-Files thrown in there. I hope it doesn’t end up becoming silly. Many tv series, which start with a great concept end up going into cliché and predictable territory. I hope this one doesn’t.

I have also found out that there is a new God of War game coming out on the PSP. It is a prequel, like the other PSP instalment. However, this one seems to be longer and better made. My interest in the series was revived by the third game. I am looking forward to playing this one now.

I am having difficulty thinking of other stuff to write about, as like I said my day was pretty much wasted. I haven’t seen anything worth writing about today. I haven’t really read the news, so I don’t have anything to say about that. I guess it is bound to happen from time to time that I have nothing to write about. I do think that I made a good effort at writing an alright blog post, in length I mean if not in content. I hope you don’t all desert me now. I will have stuff to write about tomorrow I’m guessing, as my day will involve a supervision. So on this note, I bid you all good day/evening/night (delete appropriate), and hope to have more to say tomorrow.