Monday, 24 November 2008

An anniversary

Today marks 7 years from the day that I was baptised. I can’t even remember the name of the church off the top of my head, but it was a fairly local one that my home church had held services in a few times.

It’s always interesting when I tell people that I became a Christian at about 11, around 2 years before I was baptised. Sometimes it seems to decrease my credibility amongst non-Christians, who believe that I am a Christian purely because my family are, because I’ve been to church my whole life, and that in some strange way this means that I don’t quite understand *real life*. Somehow there seems to be credibility given to those who have suffered greatly, who have rebelled, or who have otherwise risen from overwhelming circumstances to find God. Perhaps my story will never be quite as dramatic as that, but it has nonetheless been an eventful story so far. At 11 I had little idea of how cruel your peers can be at school, and indeed in later life. Didn’t know what angst teenage hormones would bring, nor how long I would wait to feel any inkling of what to do with my life. I certainly didn’t really know what it would feel like to sit in a room full of non-Christians and say “actually, I’m a Christian.” I’ve said it so many times since then, and the circumstances are always interesting. It starts great, thought-provoking conversations and total stereotyping in equal measure. I don’t really mind any more. In some ways, the squeaky clean image is a funny and fairly innocent one. In a lot of ways, it represents just another kind of out-grouping. I’ve found over time that it is far easier to upfront and happy with my affiliations (as it were!) than to hang back and act as if I’m ashamed of it.

The thing is, we humans love to identify ourselves in comparison to others. Like I said, out-grouping. We identify much of who we are in terms of who we are not. I guess that’s why non-Christians often see me in terms of what they don’t believe in and what I’m ‘not allowed’ to do in comparison to them. But, you know, I don’t really see it like that. My struggle to be the best person that I can be is so individual, so unique, that I never want to reduce it to the concept of “I’m me because I’m not like them”. I was created by a great and awesome God and most days I do not even wake up and remember that. I count myself as doing well when I wake up 1 day in 10 and remember the fact that a life lived for God is a beautiful and precious one. Too many days it is more a case of ‘a life lived as a Humanities student is frustrating and tiring’. I am so very far from having all the answers and to being as graceful and assured as I aspire to be, like the Christian role models that I have. I just hope to manage it sometimes, and that perhaps over time I will make changes that support my efforts to manage that more often.

It’s been a crazy 7 years since I made that public commitment to Christ. My dreams that day of showing Jesus’ light to everyone I met for the rest of my life have unsurprisingly been far off the mark! I have met plenty of people who have no doubt thought I was a little quiet, a little unsure of myself, and not all that happy. But I hope I have also met some who got to know me and who have felt that my faith changes who I am. Over the years I’ve spent a lot of time thinking more than I should about things that don’t deserve overthinking, and not thought enough about some things that I should. I have struggled to negotiate my identity in an adult world, particularly in the context of being a student. I have felt constantly challenged with what society says is right and what my faith says is right. I have experienced over and over again the joy of being in a stressful situation and thinking “oh, wait a minute, God’s in control of this”. I have laughed at myself many times for how long it often takes me to reach that moment, and I hope to reduce that! I have learned what it is to love fiercely and loyally, and to occasionally (!) admit that someone other than myself might be right. I have even experienced what it is to trust God that he will make his will clear to me in all things.

Looking back, I sometimes wonder whether finding God made all that much of a difference to the years that have followed. I look back and see so many times when I distanced myself from his promises and securities and tried to do it on my own. But then I think of all the times that were different because of his presence, and I know that I can’t deny the difference he has made in my life. For all my stubbornness, there have been so many times that I was that little bit happier and more confident because of the faith that I have. At times like this, when I stop and think about what it means for me to be a Christian, I am awestruck by how many more of his promises I have yet to fulfil, how many more dreams of his that I have yet to experience. I realise that I have so many things to be thankful for and that the future will only add to that number.

So, seven years on, I hope that I am a little older and wiser, but just as excited about everything the future has in store.

Wednesday, 19 November 2008


All I can say to this is kudos to Stop the Traffik for their impressive and original campaigning efforts...

...though I couldn't help doubting, as a 20 year old female, that 200 small bars of chocolate does not a 5 month chocolate supply make.

Just saying :)

Oh, and speaking of campaigns and stuff, I was thinking randomly the other day (can you tell it's essay time?!) and I think for Lent next year I might do the Thirst for Life thing where you give up alcohol for the whole 40 days. I tried it one year but didn't really stick to it, to be honest. I've never really seen Lent as something I *have* to do, so haven't ever really bothered. But it's a pretty powerful statement and a very important issue, given how crazy the UK drinking culture is. Right ray of sunshine, aren't I?

Wish I had more time to post...

Friday, 7 November 2008

By way of explanation

In future, when people question why I'm so cynical of student culture sometimes, particularly the drinking aspect of it, I'm simply going to direct them to this Flickr album:

I really like the style of the pics - the photographer's obviously very talented and does capture a few funny and sweet moments - but the messy scenes are way too familiar. It just ain't pretty! Need I say more?

Thursday, 1 May 2008

Dealing with things 'manfully'?

Story from the BBC about a heroin addict who died after jerking the steering wheel out of his wife's hands when she wouldn't drive him to buy drugs.

The BBC reports:

The coroner said Mr Grindley was a young man who had grappled "manfully" with heroin addiction and his death was a tragic loss.
What I would like to know from the coroner is how exactly one grapples "manfully" with an addiction? Does it mean bravely or courageously? If so, perhaps one of those words or one of their synoyms would be more appropriate than assuming that to be strong and brave is to do things like a man.

Also interesting to note that the reporter feels it necessary to mention Mr Grindley's private school education and his introduction to drugs by a former girlfriend, all in the same sentence. Given that two clauses in a sentence are usually linked in some way, what is the connection here? Are we supposed to infer that he had a private education but his aspirations for happy, well-behaved middle class life were ruined by his rebellious former girlfriend? Who knows.

Dear me, I seem to be having a very critical afternoon. Think I'm just still angry after reading about the recent Johnny Vegas incident where he may or may not have taken advantage of a young woman onstage. Nice one.

Friday, 25 April 2008

You don't say

Trying to finish up my computer-mediated communication coursework at the moment. In going back through my notes on further reading, I have just been amused to find that I wrote this without any irony at all:

Morahan-Martin (1998) Putting CMC research into context – suggests that women find online flaming, sexual harassment, and porn alienating, while men tolerate or encourage all of them. Women are thus discouraged from joining in online and men (according to demographics) dominate.

You mean that women don't like stumbling upon dodgy porn pics when they forgot to put Google SafeSearch on? And they dislike being sexually harassed in online gaming environments just because their profile says that they're female? Shocking, that.

And yes, I learnt the SafeSearch thing the hard way recently. In a moment of bored procrastination, I did an image search for Michaela Strachan and didn't realise that SafeSearch was off until I reached the somewhat graphic naked image purporting to be of her. Well, thanks for that, anonymous person with too much time and photoshop expertise on their hands, I do enjoy being reminded that dodgy porn is alive and well on the internet and appearing on a computer near you. Pffft.

n.b. I should probably note the reason why I happened to be doing the aforementioned image search: I recently discovered that the 30 something male crowd was very much in love with her when they were young (see the Scouting For Girls song Michaela Strachan broke my heart when I was 12). Given that she presented a wildlife programme for kids, I was a bit curious about why she was so sexy to them all! I don't see it, personally.

But then, I'm not an impressionable 12 year old boy. Thankfully.

Wednesday, 23 April 2008

Convenient sizing

One of the advantages to having small wrists, as I've just discovered, is that you can change your bedroom light bulb without having to remove the paper globe thing first.

Sadly, being generally a bit small means I still can't reach high enough when standing on my bed to be able to readjust the globe so that it's as high up as before. So, er, we're going for the funky, low-flying globe look at the moment...

Small joys, eh?

Thursday, 17 April 2008

Teen topics

One of the articles I'm currently trying to summarise for a horribly-close-to-the-deadline bit of work is to do with gender and identity in teenage blogs. Reading through topics that get discussed and all that made me reminisce a little. Not that I'd go back to being 16 - onwards and upwards, I reckon - but I was talking to an old friend recently and remembering how we used to discuss loads of stuff about identity and world views when we were that age. You know, the examination of who you are, why you feel and think the way you do, what influences all of the above. One of my favourite questions was how far we look at the past with rose-tinted spectacles, and whether that's bad for us or just an instinct. I never did come up with an answer. I guess, in the sense of opinions about the world, I still think about stuff. That's why I blog, I suppose! But even being student age sometimes seems the start to losing that feeling that your identity can be get used to being the same and you lose that sense of the "examined life". I don't ever want to lose that completely, though. Still, much as I'm a fan of introspection, the experience of once having been a girl in her mid teens makes me avoid inflicting dodgy psychoanalysis on myself at all costs!

Don't know what I'm trying to say, really, but maybe it's an interesting thing to consider?

And yes, it's exam time, as you can tell by the thinking about life and the procrastination.

Wednesday, 19 March 2008

Knowing your facts

One of the more amusing exchanges I've had recently...

[while talking about the impact of segregating people and what happens when it's over]

Him: And then there was all that stuff after the fall of the Berlin Wall, remember?
Me: Was I there then?

Turns out that the Wall fell when I was a year old, so I have a good excuse for not remembering! Ah, the things you don't realise you missed until you add the dates up.

It's kinda weird when you get thinking about what political events happened in your teenage years. What am I gonna tell people one day? 'Well, the war in Iraq happened and no one my age really knew what was going on and actually I still have no idea how it was significant to anyone.' Hmm.

Tuesday, 18 March 2008

Punctuation like you've never seen it before...

So my 'Culture, language and communication' lecturer started this afternoon's lecture with an old article from that paragon of virtue, the Daily Mail, on the subject of how students are getting into top universities without even knowing how to use an apostrophe correctly, wah wah wah. So far, so normal. Course, then he went on to show some examples of incorrectly punctuated sentences and then you're really paranoid 'cause, hey, the last thing you want to do is prove the Daily Mail right. Imagine.

Anyway, we also had to do the following exercise. I wasn't sure whether to post it as it's not my work, but it's all over the internet so I guess I'll just be next in line. I've copied and pasted from here to save typing it out myself.

So, you start by reading this love letter:

Dear John,
I want a man who knows what love is all about. You are generous, kind, thoughtful. People who are not like you admit to being useless and inferior. You have ruined me for other men. I yearn for you. I have no feelings whatsoever when we're apart. I can be forever happy—will you let me be yours?

And now your task is to alter the letter so that it's a letter breaking up with the man, instead. (Apparently a 'Dear John' letter means just that, but that's obviously a bit of cultural info that passed me by!) The catch is that you can't change anything except for the punctuation.

After a bit of deliberating, I did manage most of it. Here's the answer:

Dear John,
I want a man who knows what love is. All about you are generous, kind, thoughtful people, who are not like you. Admit to being useless and inferior. You have ruined me. For other men, I yearn. For you, I have no feelings whatsoever. When we're apart, I can be forever happy. Will you let me be?

Nice, huh? Just goes to show how important punctuation can be to meaning. Gotta love the cleverness, however geeky it is :)

Sunday, 16 March 2008

Here we go again

Blah, blah blah...rolling of the eyes to the Telegraph who fell in line with another of those stories on what men look for in women....

The nice thing about it, however, was that a quick scan through the first few comments reveal a load of men either saying that they couldn't care less about those things and have already found and married their perfect woman, or that they haven't yet but still don't go by the results of the survey. That cheered me up a bit.

I couldn't believe that 54% of men wouldn't date a woman that earned over £25k a year though. Ego, much?

So I guess as a blonde haired, blue eyed student who gets about £4k of student loan a year, I must be the perfect catch! So I'm sorry to devastate all the men over at with my unavailability...

* * * * *

Ooh, as a quick side note, there's a press release out announcing the formation of an 'internet safety task force' which is going to work with AOL, Google, Bebo, Facebook, Myspace and a bunch of other organisations to develop some stuff on online safety. One of the co-directors is danah boyd, whose blog I follow. I'm really impressed - it's about time something like this was formed, and (from what I know) danah at least seems to be very in touch with a lot of the issues. Nice one.

Friday, 14 March 2008

'Typical maths nerd'

I just scrolled down to the BBC's 'Most Read' stories, as you do, and saw the headline 3.14 and the rest. I immediately thought "Hmm, why are they talking about pi" and the numbers 3.141592654 sprang to mind as I clicked on the story. Turns out, it's Pi Day! Who knew?! Apparently the date is based on the fact that a shortened form of pi is 3.14, and 3/14 is the 14th March in the American date format.

I was suitably amused by the first few paragraphs:

As we're all taught at school, pi represents the number you get when you divide the distance around a circle (its circumference) by the distance across (the diameter).

With just a string and a ruler you can quickly measure that pi must be just over three-and-an-eighth (3.125). With more precise measurements, you may be able to narrow it down to 3.14.

However, if you ask a typical maths nerd, you'll get an earful of pi - 3.14159265 and so on. A surprising number of students have memorised 50 or even 100 digits after the decimal point.

It was the third paragraph that got me: as I just indicated, I've known the first 10 digits of pi for years, and somehow it was still tucked away in a dusty corner of my brain. Which is impressive for someone who has difficulty remembering her own PIN number if she doesn't use it for a week or two. But who cares - I'm officially a maths nerd!

Thursday, 13 March 2008

Girls vs. Women

So guess what? I'm annoyed at the news again. Nothing changes!

I bought the Independent while I sat down for a coffee earlier, largely because it only costs 30p from student outlets and has a couple of sudokus in it (and no I don't know if that's the right plural, and I don't care). To be honest, I rarely find much of interest in there but for 30p you can't go far wrong. I'm wishing I went for the Guardian now though - I think they were featuring something about Sylvia Plath.


You can read the story that got me annoyed here. Obviously I was annoyed at the whole 'spending thousands of dollars on prostitutes' business...not only is it horribly unpleasant because he's married and it'd also be quite nice if he set a good example, I don't believe anyone that blindly insists that every prostitute in the business is a happy, successful woman who won't feel any emotional consequences and is doing it out of her own free will just to make a bit of extra money. Don't be so stupid. But that's a huge debate which I won't go into now as I'm lacking in time and expertise.

The point I was actually going to make was actually not about the story itself but how it was reported. I recognise that 'call girls' is a widely used euphemistic name for the job that these women do, and I know that this can then be shortened to 'girls' when referring to them. And maybe it's fair enough that the Independent therefore sees fit to use both terms in its article (both online and in print). So my upset here is a general point as well as one about the article today. But here's the thing - they are NOT girls. They are women. In English, we tend to be very squeamish about calling males 'boys' as soon as they're past early teens. The only scenario when you might refer to males as 'boys' is usually along the lines of 'going down the pub with the boys'. For females on the other hand, they are often referred to as girls well past their teens. They themselves perpetuate it by calling themselves 'girls' for decades afterwards, and can pretty much be referred to as such by any man who is older than them. I know this sounds biased because I get annoyed about this stuff, but if you think about it I think you'll realise that is how it works. And, of course, there's the research to prove it...but I won't bore you with that now.

The point is that 'girl' and 'boy' are terms for young females and males. So calling either gender by this 'young' term when they are no longer young is diminuitive. I put up with it, normally. At 19 I feel that emotionally, physically and legally, I am not a 'girl'. I'm a woman, end of. But I usually won't object to it because I am still relatively young and, as such, I can't be bothered to get too insulted. And, coming from those close to me, it can be quite sweet - it can be used as a protective, affectionate term too. Of course, that doesn't mean that any man (or woman) that I don't know should assume I don't mind them using the term 'girl' to refer to me. Stuff political far as I'm concerned, it's misleading to call me that, so don't.

The crux of this, if you've made it through this far, is that the women mentioned in the Independent story are just that: women. They aren't girls. I can grit my teeth and get past the 'call girl' title for the time being, as it does refer to a particular role. But, dear newspaper writer, they are not 'girls'. They are all adults, as far as your reporting indicates. So no more 'girls', please. Don't use the diminuitive, because it makes them sound less than they are. They regularly have rich, powerful men paying them to obey and oblige. That's a scary enough power dimension to start with, so please don't go along with it. I know I probably sound uptight and picky to you, and I know you're just trying to do your job, but think about it. Thanks.

Wednesday, 12 March 2008

All I have to say today is that it's hard not to look like Hormonal Woman: Exhibit A when you're in the supermarket queue clutching green tea, dark chocolate and ibuprofen...

Tuesday, 11 March 2008


Just realised - I don't think I ever uploaded this photo. So apologies if I did already but, if not, was taken last summer with my parents' camera, about 10 minutes before me getting on the train back to Cardiff.

Wednesday, 27 February 2008

Shaky shaky

Well I thought I'd join in the mass blogging about the earthquake...

JonnyB's entry made me laugh, and someone in his comments section pointed somewhat laughingly to the comments over at the Guardian. I think the best comment has to be by 7barrels:
"Small Earthquake hits UK.
Not much damage.

Please send in your stories of how this hasn't affected you very much at all."

I get that, OK, some chimneys have fallen down and it's scary to be woken like that and some people are now going to be faced with injuries and a fair bit of redecorating. I get it, it sucks.

But why so many people feel the need to say "I felt the earthquake. My house shook. Nothing fell over." is a little beyond me. How cynical of hiss.

Of course, I'm in an easy position to be faintly amused because I was on the phone to the boyfriend at the time of the quake - his house got quite a shaking, though in Wales we didn't get any of it - and his dad's response was "What did you do?!"

I guess you never outgrow that...

Sunday, 24 February 2008

Crab cakes and Control

I'm loving authors that release their books for free on the internet using a Creative Commons license - I followed a link from another blog to the future of reputation, by Daniel J. Solove, subtitled 'gossip, rumor, and privacy on the internet'. I've only had time to read one chapter but it seems very interesting so far - will probably be read by many people more important than myself, but I found it very accessible.

So big is my desire to not do uni work this afternoon is that I've also been reading a copy of the Nursing Times that the boyfriend left behind. Obviously I don't really know anything about nursing...but it's kind of intriguing to read something that's got nothing to do with me! There's an article on developments in communicating with patients using email and the internet though, which is more my thing. Think I might be looking up the full paper on the internet...

It's been a while since I went on about a book/film that I've just come across, so I thought I'd take a moment to plug the film Control. The official film website is here and the Wikipedia page (because you love it) is here. Wikipedia call it a 'biopic', which apparently is a film "that dramatizes the life of an actual person or people". If you haven't heard about it, it's about Ian Curtis' life, including his rise to fame in the band Joy Division and his eventual suicide when he was just 23. It's based on a book by Curtis' wife. We watched the film last night and I've got to say, I was blown away by it. I knew nothing at all about Joy Division, and even less about Ian Curtis, but it was very moving. It was in black and white, which was different for a start, and seemed to tell a very honest story. It drove me crazy in a way because he really doesn't behave like a very nice person in places, yet you get a sense of how messed up his head is and how he genuinely doesn't seem to be able to understand his own feelings and impulses at times. On top of all the psychological stuff, he ends up on a bunch of different drugs to treat epilepsy which in those days (he died in 1980) definitely involved a very hit-and-miss approach. I didn't know if I'd really enjoy the film, given that I never really watch films of that genre, but I was surprised at how much I got into it. Which is good, given that Ian Curtis is one of the boyfriend's heroes and therefore all talking had to be kept to a minimum during the film!!

So anyway, yeah, watch it if you can!

Not much else to report the risk of making this entirely mundane, I'm experiencing a slight difficulty with a new pair of black jeans which, even after being washed, still get black on my hands when I touch them. (I wore them yesterday without washing them first, as instructed by the label, and had slightly grey legs by the end of it.) Serves me right for buying £10 jeans, I suppose!

Right, I'm actually going to go and do some work now. Though in case you're wondering, before I go, the 'crab cakes' in the title of this post refer to the very nice crab cakes I had in Prezzo the other night. I hadn't been there before but the food was gorgeous! Menus are here if you want to tutor me on how to pronounce the Italian! A big group of Italian blokes arrived there soon after us, presumably in Cardiff for the rugby, which I guess says something about the authenticity of the restaurant. Plus, from where I was sat I could giggle at the chef tossing pizza bases around in the air :)

Saturday, 16 February 2008

That's my answer


So, tell us, do you have a special place? Where is it? Have you been there in real life?

This actually got me thinking. I don't actually do the thing that the writer describes, of closing my eyes and actually imagining myself somewhere else. Still, if I was going to - and who knows, maybe I'll start doing it! - my special place would have to be the armchair in the lounge at home, sometime around 9pm when the house is warm, there's a glass of red wine next to me and a good book in my hand.

I'm sure there are cooler answers than that, but there you go. I'm afraid that my special place is probably never going to involve a hot, sunny beach somewhere, as wearing very little in public and slowly baking in the sun both rate relatively low on my list of fun things to do.

On another tangent, going back to yesterday's food theme, I can't help but wonder how many people worldwide every year burn their mouths while eating a heated pain au chocolat? It happens so horribly easily...the pastry doesn't feel too hot so you take a big, happy bite and end up with a mouthful of scalding chocolate. I gave in to a multipack of mini ones yesterday and 24 hours later, after some rather enthusiastic microwaving and stuffing them in my face, my mouth is feeling rather tender. Still, I suppose it's my own fault.

Friday, 15 February 2008

Tuna and chips, aye or nay?

I feel that this blog has been lacking in pointlessness recently, so here's a topical question:

Is it appropriate to serve tuna steak with chips?

I think it entirely is. I did it earlier this evening and it tasted good. You get chips with regular steak. You get chips with gammon steak. You get chips as a side to your tuna mayo baguette at lunchtime, for goodness' sake. Also, I was served chips with my tuna steak by a posh restaurant just last September. (Before you ask, by posh I mean that the bill came to more than £50 for two of us and I was probably the only student there).

However, the other half says that this is totally wrong. He is possibly just being snobby before he also cooked tuna for tea tonight but his was seared and was on a bed of rocket and something or other. Leaving aside the fact that I hate rocket and anything that's ever touched it, I understand that this is a nice, lighter alternative to my chips.

But still, are the chips really wrong?

Opinions welcome...

And don't worry, I've forgiven him for his attachment to salad leaves and the proper way of doing things ^^

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Tuesday, 5 February 2008


I was watching the last episode of Season 2 Grey's Anatomy, and it contains a song called 'Grace' by Kate Havnevik

It contains this one line that caught me
- turn my grief to grace. I love the concept...grace is one of the qualities I constantly desire more of for myself. Grace to accept myself as I am, grace to love and treat others as they deserve, grace to leave behind any bitterness and resentment, grace to live the life laid out for me without constantly doubting it.

And I'm sure you'll appreciate that this was quite deep thinking given that Patrick Dempsey was onscreen at the time...

Thursday, 31 January 2008

Chicken vs egg

I'm just doing some reading for my computer-mediated communication module (which I will no doubt go on about as I love it a little bit) and the authors refer to "the problem of the chicken and the egg". Which reminded me...

Is it only me that puts into practice her knowledge of once being a small child and visiting a farm? 'Cause as far as I remember, eggs hatch because a chicken lays them and then keeps them warm by effectively sitting on them in the nest. So unless you're telling me they had infra-red heaters back in the beginning of time, I'd said you kinda need some chickens to hatch those eggs! Therefore...the chicken wins.

Or, of course, you can look at it biblically (shock horror for the scientists!) and believe that it makes more sense that God really did put a bunch of animals on the earth than him putting down a bunch of unhatched chicken eggs or whatever. I mean, really.

Either way, the chicken wins it!

Monday, 14 January 2008

Rapists do read, right?

So...I got to this article in the Guardian from The F-Word and couldn't help being slightly amused. The concept is that police in rape cases are planning on using a controversial new technique (borrowed from the US) to catch the perpetrators. Victims are asked to make a phone call or send a text message - such as "how could you do this to me?" to the accused rapist, in the hope of getting a response that amounts to an admission of guilt.

It's an interesting idea, and I really hope it helps, because I think we can all agree that more approaches to solving rape cases are needed. But for me, the story does beg the question...what if the aforementioned rapist reads the Guardian?

That might sound flippant, but how do you know?!