When you don’t have a sense of direction and you are addicted to the Internet

It really helps if there is a website that tells you how to get places, with public transport information and maps.

Unfortunately, I’ve not found one that good. So far, I’ve tried to use Traveline and got completely and hopelessly lost because the directions were totally and utterly shite. Mainly because they were outdated. But it can be fairly handy, because you can check where things are on Google Maps or Yahoo! Local. And then, if you’re VERY lucky, someone you know would have been there before and can tell you if it’s accessible on foot. The railway timetable is handy as well.

This country is very partial towards automotive users and not those who use public transport. I drive, but I would always much rather use public transport. I wonder how long it will be before I CANNOT TAKE IT ANY MORE and have to buy a small second hand car.

Because I’ve had hardly any practice at it for a few months

搬到苏格兰,到一个较小的镇,是一个很与众不同的经验。我最习惯在繁忙的城市过生活。上大学时,我在一个很小的城市带了三年,我挺喜欢这种生活方式。可是我的性格比较害羞,比较文静。在厦门住了三年让我尝试真正的小镇社会 (I’m not sure if this is right at all, I mean a small town community),我做什么,大家很快就会知道我做了什么。

我真的对这种行为;我家庭不是这样的。例如,我的表妹订婚的时候,我必须等到跟她见个面的时候才知道,因为我看到了她的订婚戒指。他的母亲没跟任何人说!

现在就是我的男朋友的母亲传播我的信息。她会跟她的表姐说我最近作了什么,那她的表姐会跟大家说。男朋友的妹妹经常很神气,说她没有私人生活,我可以明白,可是我现在没什么事做,所以关于我的闲话应该很少!

And that was my primary school-level attempt at writing something in Chinese. I know it’s not good, but I’m trying to make sure I at least keep reading and writing. I don’t want to spend another three years in China to brush up my language skills!

Running… not

I’ve decided to combine the exercise data for October and November, because the charts look so pathetic and lonely and naked on their own. Not that they look much better together, but it gives the impression that things aren’t quite as bad. And really, I may not go running much, but I do walk a lot.

chart for October - November 2006

My main problem is that I don’t feel settled in yet. I need to get into a routine — when I was in Singapore, I was at the track at least three times a week, because I had this routine with my mum. At the moment, I’m not even 100% sure where we will definitely be living if one of us should get a job that requires relocation, so I don’t want to sign up for a membership at the gym. In fact, I would much rather run outdoors, but I’m an Asian from a tropical country, so running outdoors in winter is not my cup of tea at all.

And it is cold and rainy right now. Where I occasionally visit now, the open plan gymnasium / aquatic centre, is reasonably warm and humid, which means that it’s more like Singapore and there won’t be a shock to my lungs when we go back on vacation and I want to go running on the track.

And something else I’ve noticed — I go a bit pigeon-toed, especially on my right foot, when I start feeling a little tired during a run. I thought it was quite cute and all that, but I’ve also been suffering from pain in my hip (at the joint) after running. Last night I decided to try something when I noticed myself going pigeon-toed: I forced my right foot to point straight forward. I immediately noticed a difference in how the joint in my hip felt. Today it’s still a little sore, but nowhere as much as it was last week. Result! Although I’m not exactly sure what the cause is (as in, how it makes my hip hurt), but I have always had an issue with my right leg and hip.

Money will reduce emissions

But it’s better than nothing: “… aren’t the despoilers of tropical rainforests simply holding the world to ransom by demanding payment for something they shouldn’t be doing in the first place?” — A ransom worth paying, Economist.com

Are you pro-test?

There was a documentary on the BBC last night, Monkeys, Rats and Me, a programme on animal testing. I’m a bleeding heart at the best and worst of times, I like to hold on to my ideals and dream of a better world, if only, if only. Watching the animal activists’ antics, however, left me cold.

It’s fair enough that people want to demonstrate against animal testing. They should have the right to be heard, to gather, and shout this, that, and the other. I would probably join in, EXCEPT that I also know people in these groups value animals’ lives so much that they don’t value their own species’ in turn. NOTHING can justify vandalism and sending letter bombs and putting scientists on hit lists. All that tells me is that these people who participate in ‘direct action’ have a completely warped sense of morality.

Do you think I want to come down on the side of scientists who test on, then put down animals? Fuck no! But I look at these crazy, unreasonable protesters who want to shut down anyone who disagrees with them, and I start to think, Who’s more open-minded here? Who is more likely to discuss differing opinions with calm and reason?

Medical science has advanced to a stage that many things don’t need to be tested on animals any more, true. We still don’t know so much, though. I think it’s very clear that Tipu Aziz (one of the scientists willing to be identified on the programme, the other was Colin Blakemore, there was also a female but I forget if she was named) and his colleagues wouldn’t do their experiments on animals if they could avoid it, but they simply feel they have no choice. And the best they can do is make the experience for animals as painless and comfortable as possible. Labs wouldn’t test on subjects if there was strong and recurring evidence that it was useless — it would make no financial sense. It sucks to high heaven that animal testing has to be done, but it does. That’s the practical reality.

Very few drugs on the market today would exist if it weren’t for some form of animal testing, IMHO (directly or indirectly). If an anti-vivisectionist or someone close to them was dying and only a procedure such as Prof Aziz’s could save them, I do highly doubt they would say no. When it comes down to it, we have a survival instinct, and it’s Do All It Takes.

Which leads me to my next point. We have the fortune of being self-aware, sentient, whatever (I did read some Peter Singer at university, in my philosophy classes). And the law of the jungle says, Kill or be killed. It’s natural to use our abilities and technology to get ahead, even (and especially) if it means killing those judged to be more vulnerable than us.

Animal rights activists say other animals have every right to exist as much as we do. Sure, I agree 100 percent. Has anyone seen a nature documentary lately? Has anyone seen the one about puffins on Craigleath? Gulls are killing the puffins — not to eat them, but to ROB them of the fish they catch. I think what humans, a species of animal, do when it comes to animal experiments (i.e. something necessary to survival), is an extension of that.

Further reading:

You just hate me ‘cos I’m black

So there’ve been words because next year is 200 years since the abolition of the slave trade in the UK. There are people unhappy that the government has not issued a full apology, although they’ve said it was profoundly shameful and they express “deep sorrow that it could ever have happened…”

From Esther Stanford, secretary of Rendezvous for Victory campaign:

“What is now required is a dialogue about how we repair the legacies of enslavement, and we’re talking about educational repairs, we’re talking about economic repairs, family repairs, cultural repairs, repairs of every kind that we need to recreate and sustain ourselves – it will cost.”

If there are people who need reparations from countries that benefited from the African slave trade, it’s the people of Africa who live in violent, impoverished conditions. Those who live in countries like the UK are generally better off, IMHO. It’s probably going to be quite unpopular and very un-PC to say this, but when it comes to African descendants in the UK and US, when does it stop? When does self-victimisation stop and personal responsibility for individual circumstances start?

There are many examples of African descendants (or other races that have been disadvantaged) who have done well. And I’ve seen many people just perpetuate their own cycle of poverty by whining that they’re being treated prejudicially and SHOULD get a better start and make no real effort on their own.

I think there is certainly a lot of racism going on, between all different races — it’s human nature. What makes a difference is how we choose to act. I do think that if we keep harping on about race, people can’t help framing things in a racial context, for good or bad. And I think the huge task is to teach history and social studies in an objective manner as possible, and not treat race, minority, diaspora, or whatever, as such a defining characteristic. I don’t care what colour anyone is, as long as they try to live a good life and treat people the way they want to be treated. And that’s all that should matter between you and I.

This weekend I…

  • went into Glasgow with Neil to have a drink at Solid Rock Cafe (decent music and Dawn of the Dead on the big screen) and The Wee Pub (of The Ubiquitous Chip fame), then a late night chippy for supper
  • met Neil’s friend Dougie and his wife Nicola at Pizza Express for lunch (it was good, and extremely filling — let’s hear it for those Sicilian lemons)
  • came back and watched Strictly Come Dancing (oh dear) and what was left of The X Factor (good Lord)
  • had to sit through part of I’m a Celebrity…
  • watched CSI and Law & Order (and ate an average Chinese takeaway)
  • slept in, then had a fantabulous home made tomato soup for lunch
  • went for a walk as it was, finally, a nice day (see evidence below)
  • arrived back in time for Charmed (!!) and a lovely roast dinner (with ice cream for dessert, yum)
  • then spent the rest of the evening chilling out
  • and (finally) saw King Arthur: Director’s Cut
The bing
A bing and power lines

Doggie
My shadow and a neighbour’s dog

The sunset
The sunset at about 4pm

It’s all about the money, innit?

10 is the new 15 as kids grow up faster:

Advertisers have found that, increasingly, children and teens are influencing the buying decisions in their households — from cars to computers and family vacations. According to 360 Youth, an umbrella organization for various youth marketing groups, tweens represent $51 billion worth of annual spending power on their own from gifts and allowance, and also have a great deal of say about the additional $170 billion spent directly on them each year.

It’s really quite scary. I remember agitating for a PAGER when I was 17 years old, and that was a huge deal to me. Kids are getting mobile phones while in PRIMARY SCHOOL — where the hell are they spending their time that their parents would need to reach them via mobile? When I was that age, it was either home, school, or playing in the neighbourhood. It’s really sad that young children have these expectations put on them by their peers. I know we all did, but the stakes appear to have gone up exponentially.

And the advertisers target these children to get them to badger their parents until they relent so the kid will leave them alone. Too many kids are too spoiled.

No more cycling for me

Decreased genital sensation in competitive women cyclists:

“While seated on a bicycle, the external genital nerve and artery are directly compressed. It is possible that chronic compression of the female genital area may lead to compromised blood flow and nerve injury due to disruption of the blood-nerve barrier.”

Gah. So, cost of maintaining a bike in Scotland + possible decreased genital sensation = I’m gonna keep running as my form of exercise.