Monday, October 30, 2006

Some websites I've found interesting recently:

BoingBoing has to be one of my favourite "news" sites of the moment, just for the sheer amount of junk it throws up as well as interesting info on geeky stuff.

This is kind of like Google maps on steroids. It seems a bit slow but a nice way to waste half an hour.

More National Geographic, this time a whole area on world music with stuff to listen to.

The new, improved Google reader is much better, to me, than the old version and has just about replaced bloglines, so long as I'm on a fast connection. Now if only they'd implement being able to order subscriptions other than newest first.

Turn photos into ascii art.

Book on web design by 37Signals, the gurus of Web2.0

Finally, Nanowrimo is a website to support the National Novel Writing Month with a challenge for any writer (or wannabe) to write 50000 words in November.

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

I arrived in Manchester, very tired, and was kindly collected and deposited home by my Uncle John. The next evening my parents arrived home. On the Saturday I went to visit Soo and Dave in Chester and had a bit too much to each and drink, but it was all very nice. It was weird being back in the UK, especially as the reason was so unexpected, and seeing some friendly faces helped. I went back home on the Sunday and began thinking about the speech that my mum asked me to give at the funeral for my Grandma. I still wasn't sleeping properly, usually waking up at around 4 or 5 in the morning, and on Monday morning, when I woke, I wrote the basis for the whole speech which I then finished off through the day.
The funeral was on the Tuesday. The church was full of family and friends which was really nice to see. I was very nervous about giving the speech on several levels; just doing it was one, but there is also the worry about content, what people would think, and all that. My mum had read it and thought it was good so I just had to get up and do it although by the end I was shaking and almost crying. It's something that I am glad to have done. Grandma meant a lot to me and I was happy that I was given the opportunity no matter how stressful it was at the time.
I didn't really do much on the Wednesday except go into Manchester to have a look at the bookshops. I got an email off David K suggesting we meet for lunch so I met him at the Earth cafe. It was good food, even if it was vegan... On Thursday my trip to Leeds began. I met Andy in the Angel for old times sake and then, slightly drunk, we went back to his house where we ate pizza and chatted. We all needed an early night, though, and I spent the next day reaquainting myself with my PS2 and reading comic books (thanks, Andy!).
I met Anthony in the Vic at 5pm. I'd remembered to email someone from my previous job at Education Leeds and so a few people I knew from then came along and said hello. Slowly my other friends started to arrive, as well as my sister and her boyfriend. Was thoroughly drunk by the time we left, which was only about 10:30 to give us time to get to an off-license before heading back to Anthony's and carrying on. Got to bed about 3.
After a few rough bits felt surprisingly ok on Saturday. Went to Hansa's, a very nice vegetarian restaurant in Leeds, with Mike, Cate, David and Amy. Ant came as well. Then back to Ant's where Dave and Dutch turned up to say hello. Got an early night, though.
Flew back on Monday with a rucksack of twiglets, marmite and dry roasted peanuts. Back at the school I was told that my boss had decided to hire a known heavy drinker and generally inappropriate teacher. Finally think Ann and I managed to convince him that no matter how desparate we are for teachers this would be a really bad idea.

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Lots has been happening since my last post. I met my parents in Hangzhou on Sunday 1st October, which is National Day here in China. Chinese people generally get a week off but because there's no real holiday here they have to work the weekends to make up for it. In the run up to that Sunday I had to attend three Chinese functions in a row and by the end of it I was wishing that I was vegetarian again. If I never eat a strange bit of meat again it will be too soon. One function was for my school, another for the company that owns the school and the last for the mayor's National Day speech.
Hangzhou was generally pretty ok apart from the bit where I fell over and bruised my knee and chest by landing on a bench. Saw some bits of countryside I hadn't seen before and I think my parents enjoyed it. On the way back to Ningbo we stopped at the Lu Xun museum in Shaoxing and spent half the day there. It's not just a museum but also a preserved bit of the old town. There's photos from my last visit. As everyone in China has holiday at the same time it was all pretty busy and by the time I got back to Ningbo I was about ready for a rest. It wasn't quite to be; I took the folks to the city centre for some shopping which took most of the day. The next day we went to the Qing'an assembly hall which was a kind of maritime museum but was pretty interesting before meeting up with my boss in a tea house in Laowaitan. In the afternoon we went to Moon Lake and rode a pedalo around it.
On the Friday we received some bad news. My grandma died the day before. From that point on it's been a bit hectic as various calls had to be made and things sorted out and things left without knowing what would happen. The funeral is next week, on my birthday, so my parents have been able to complete their holiday at least. I've changed my existing ticket to allow me to fly back to Manchester but the only space has been for tomorrow so I will be back before them. I've also arranged a ticket back for the 23rd. So tonight I'm off to Shanghai to see my parents, briefly, before I fly back. I am hoping to meet up with some friends while I'm there but it's all going to be a little odd, I think.
Had another good bbq at William's last Saturday. Some really good food and then ended up at LBBs. Do have some other news but that's going to have to wait for now. Watched Superman Returns the night before last. I enjoyed it. Which is strange really because I've avoided Superman comics as though I were allergic to them. It captures the spirit of the original films really well (and let's face it, you just need to hear the theme to remember) and you can at least see where the budget went.
Also had a serious chat with my boss today because things at the school aren't going well and I felt I had to impress upon him the importance of certain things happening while I am gone. On top of which I was told this morning that some new children would be starting in Ann's class which we were never told about. Overall I'm not happy.