Friday, February 26, 2010

A conversation with my father a few years ago

Father: Hmm, well I think you're a good singer.

Abby: You've never heard me sing.

Father: I went to that choir show you were in.

Abby: Okay, then. *sarcastic look*

But he's not the only one who's complimented my singing abilities (regardless of the fact that he's only ever heard me sing properly in a choir of 40-something people). My grandmother told me that when I was younger I was great singer and of course my mother and I stared at her in disbelief. Checking that she wasn't simply being senile, we asked 'Are you sure you don't mean Freja?' (Freja's my cousin who definitely can sing well), but she insisted that at one point in my life I was a good singer. Hmm, I'd dubious about that.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Du vin or not du vin

Just a forewarning; this post doesn't actually centre around or even involve any type of alcohol at all. In fact, the title is completely unrelated.

I've reached the sudden and final conclusion that I'd be a terrible housewife. Granted, I could keep up appearances, meticulously preening myself before my my seemingly perfect, 'Honey, I'm home!' husband returned. I might even manage to suppress my feminism and succumb to living under that male-chauvinist ideology.

However, that's where any housewife potential comes to an abrupt end, for the simple reason that I don't (and won't) do housework. I'm perfectly capable of vacuuming, but the smell created by the hurricane of dust is unpleasant. The idea of washing plates that have held other people's food causes me to retch and flee the kitchen in disgust. And as for scrubbing the floors, I'd rather lick the radiator (which I once did to disprove my germaphobe reputation).

All hope is not lost, though, as I'm a good cake baker and due to my alimentary passion could probably learn to cook many other dishes. Nonetheless, I'll hardly prove 'useful' to any stereotypical I-work-you-clean man.

Of course, the main problem is that I don't really like the idea of marriage, anyway. If it's for you, then great, congratulations, many happy returns etc. but personally, it's simply two rings, a piece of paper, a white dress, some confetti and £9000 or so drained from your bank account. I believe that if two people love each other enough they don't need anything else to prove it. Also, an inordinate amount of marriages end in divorce nowadays, and that certainly isn't an appealing prospect. I suppose in a way my view of marriage is similar to Dylan Thomas'. I can't say we share opinions on alcohol, though.

Friday, February 19, 2010

So, this is what my life has been reduced to

Today I had to refuse invitations both to the cinema with my mother and to town with two friends as I simply have too much work to do. Okay, I'm making progress (and so I should be considering that I've been working hard for at least 2 hours a day during this half term!) but I'm still not close to finishing. The consolation is that I've finished my Drama portfolio, but that took until Monday to do and the completed 'notes' as the examiners ridiculously call them span 15 pages in Microsoft Word (font - Arial, size 12) and total 5718 words. Now, still on my to-do list is:

  • Finish the History coursework question. I've done every section except the last, so it'll just be that and the introduction which I can definitely finish this weekend. Although it's not a hugely difficult essay (and a mini-essay at that), I've tried to find as much relevant information as possible to put in so have been scouring the internet as well as my two text books and source sheet, so while writing it I've been very precise and have frequently tweaked it if when slightly unsatisfied.
  • Get some more of the Statistics coursework done. Due to my preoccupation with the History coursework, I only really started typing this Statistics work up yesterday. I've basically finished all of the preliminary sections and can now start calculating (and then meticulously checking because one tiny mistake in Statistics can throw your whole investigation off balance) I think my Maths teacher is checking the work either at the end of the coming week or the beginning of the next, but the more I finish over half term, the smoother my return to school next week will be.
  • Try to write more of my answers for the French and Spanish Oral booklets. My love of languages leads me to feel a little patronised by these resources, and I think my teachers see this. I understand that there are a wide range of topics that must be covered in modern languages, but I'm highly frustrated by the omnipresent 'Décrire ta maison' (describe your house) or 'Hablame de tus ratos libres' (talk to me about your free time) It's such a vacuous conversation that you end up having with the examiner and I don't think many people care about the fact that I've had the same purple curtains with stars and moons on since I was seven, or that usually I enjoy riding my bike because it's a healthy thing and I love being out in the open. I want to discuss issues that affect me, and the only current-affair topic is how to improve the environment which has very little weighting in the exam as it doesn't provide a huge opportunity to use the past, present, future or conditional tenses. However, fortunately A-level languages encourage and foster a far more mature speaking style which I've been yearning for ever since I first heard the 'What is your bedroom like?' question.
  • Start revision properly for the final May/June exams. Argh, less than 3 months now until they begin!
So, as much as I wanted to partake in both of the aforementioned activities today, I simply couldn't. It's just been working and eating today. Oh, and a bath, of course.

I completely accept having to stay in all day working and revising because I constantly look ahead. I imagine myself on results day, crying with happiness for the first time in so long. For that moment, I won't care that I live where I do, or about cleanliness or the tangles in my hair, just the wonder of that moment. And then it's all worth it, for I have nothing to regret. When I work as hard as I possibly can on something, I know that I've done everything in my power to achieve the grades that I want.

Another reason that I was forced to resign myself to the house today is my plan for tomorrow. This was booked last year so of course I couldn't rearrange it, and thus had to compensate by working extra hard today. I'm going to see the Rocky Horror Show, so that should be interesting and camp enough for my liking. Of course, true to my nature, I'll be working in the morning and afternoon tomorrow because the show's in the evening.

In total, this half term has offered very little 'break' as it promised, but at least it signifies my nearing the end of secondary school life.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

I don't do small talk, but let's discuss the weather

So far this year, the snow has visited and left my city many times, however this is only its second genuine settling. Yet, as soon as the first few snowflakes floated down, the complaints began to waft up.

I know we all have different weather preferences, but unless the snow is could have a severely detrimental effect on our lives we really are foolish to complain. Come mid-March, assuming that Spring will then have spread itself fully across the UK, we may miss the snow. And what about those hideous summer heat waves? Though we often can't sufficiently predict what the future months hold weather-wise thanks to global warming, if the previous few years are anything to go by we can expect intense, sticky heat. Then we'll yearn for those precious few snowflakes that we once scorned.

In fact, how are we to know that the snow will return at all in the near future? It could be years, even decades, before we feel that satisfying crunch and heart-fluttering slip under our feet again.

Personally, I've never been fond of warm weather. It's very restricting to know that there are only so many layers that you can take off to cool yourself, whereas there are always more garments to be put on. Besides, I like the security and comfort of wearing a coat. Who cares about that green jumper and standard blue jeans that I've worn time and time again if they're concealed by a rich, regal teal-coloured coat?

It would be wonderful to choose the weather, and though I know I'd eventually tire of this combination, my current ideal is heavy rain from April to September and a generous snowfall from October to March. Yes, a lovely, British, cold and wet climate, minus the occasional heat waves we experience. Actually, in general I really do love the unpredictability and spontaneity of Britain's weather.

Monday, February 15, 2010

'That's some next pencil case'

Oh, Drama. The only place where you can find such a diverse range of people, including those who are perfectly willing to criticise your sensible pencil case (and who you must admit are a tad bit chavvy)

Returning to my group, decided by the teacher, I opened my pencil case to dig around for something with a bit of ink left in it. At this point, I was greeted with the phrase 'That's some next pencil case' from a girl who seemed to see a pencil case purely as a place to slap the Playboy Bunny logo onto.

Now, I can't say I really know what 'next' means, but having perused Urban Dictionary it seems to have many meanings, some of the most prevalent being stupid, crazy, random or shit.

Granted, my pencil case is no an opulent wonder. It's plain black, with a handle at the top and when carried from this it looks like a mini briefcase. It has no patterns, flowers, hearts, words or slutty rabbits logos, but has pockets inside to keep pens in place and came with a bonus mesh zipper bag which I use to store coloured pens. It may not be fashionable, and admittedly it is hugely practical, but it's lasted me over 18 months and has served me faithfully, so I don't see how it can be labelled stupid, crazy, random or shit.

Therefore, slightly-chavvy-girl, your comment is invalid. My pencil case is not 'next' and will do its duties long after your Playboy offering is holed and stained.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Currently, I quite like simultaneous equations

I've just been running some through my head quickly.

Oh, and also I'd very much like a Periodic Table shower curtain: The only problem is, now we have a shower screen in the bath room so it would be useless. However, I'm still tempted to buy it and hang it in my room.

The aforementioned Chemistry homework did prove to be somewhat enjoyable. Granted, it was a little tedious answering multiple questions with exactly the same information, but I really do love anything scientific. I can't wait until A-level when it gets difficult and more interesting.

My desire to be a doctor is growing ever-stronger, and though it's a daunting prospect I really can envision myself applying for medical school. Prepare to sell a house, Daddy; it looks like I'm going to be in the education system for a lot longer. (I'm joking, but my parents did say that one of the houses we rent out is going to pay for my university fee so hopefully house prices will remain reasonable until then)

Alors, mon calendrier français dit 'C'est un bon week-end pour les amoureux!'

Cependant, n'oubliez pas les personnes qui aiment la Chine car, bien sûr, c'est le Nouvel An chinois!

This post was in French because, as you may be able to translate, my French calendar said today 'It's a good weekend for lovers!' (in French, naturally). However, it's also important to welcome in the Year Of The Tiger... Every Tiger except Tiger Woods, maybe (yes, I stole that joke).

Anyway, Happy Valentine's Day/Chinese New Year/whatever you may be celebrating.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Bypass the hearts

It's a bit ridiculous how so many single people are complaining and sighing deeply and conspicuously just because they'll be without a lover on Valentine's Day. So what? As most will agree, the day of Cupid, hearts, flowers, chocolates et al is a giant marketing ploy tailored to fuel our over-consumption and make us feel all romantic (if cliche is romantic) for a day . Considering this, why do we still mope and pity ourselves simply because we're lacking a partner? And besides, it's Chinese New Year tomorrow! There's no sense writing emo-poetry and sobbing into your loveless lap when you could be enjoying some chow mein and egg fried rice while watching the fireworks. Let's get some perspective and sense here - it's the 21st Century in which it's perfectly acceptable to remain single, marry young or old, never get married, date younger or older or outside your race, love someone of the same sex and generally do your own thing without being judged. And being alone on Valentine's Day is simply another one of these things.

It can't be that bad

Today was fun, as expected. I went to Sam's house where we watched loads of puerile/tacky/crappy TV (informercials, World's Worst Husband and Take Me Out, anyone?) before baking, icing and decorating mini chocolate sponge cakes. All in all, highly enjoyable.

It's the half term and I'm making a mental agenda for my work. So far, it is as follows:
  • Finish Drama portfolio. There isn't too much of this, it's just important to go into plenty of detail wherever possible.
  • Complete the first question/'mini essay' of my History coursework. As long as I do a paragraph each day it should go as planned.
  • Summarise work on The Poor for History revision on one to two sides of A4. This will definitely be a useful exercise so that's not a problem.
  • Have a good venture into the Statistics coursework. This is a little complicated and I think my maths teacher, great though he is, could have explained it to the class a little better. Nonetheless, he'll be checking it to make sure everything's alright, so as long as I write up my hypothesis and start some of the calculations hopefully everything will be alright.
  • Sections One and Two of the Chemistry homework booklet. I really enjoy Chemistry (and everything scientific, really) so this is no problem.
  • If possible, fill in as much as possible in my French and Spanish Oral Booklets. Though this can seem a little tedious, I just let it flow and write as I do in English, so it's really not as terrible as it seems and this isn't an urgent matter.
  • If I have any spare time, maybe do a little revision. This isn't pressing at the moment, but I want to use every bit of my time wisely. A few Maths questions wouldn't go amiss, and I must admit they can be quite enjoyable, too. Perhaps some English Language and Literature practice as well.
It seems like a mighty pile of homework, but I think once I make a dent everything will hopefully just follow naturally.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Trivial, but somehow important

I've always felt a certain pride and protection over my middle name. Admittedly, though I love my first and last names and they suit me, they're not incredibly rare. Granted, I meet few people with my names, but I know that they're around - I'm guessing most people in English-speaking countries have met an Abby or Abigail.

But my middle name's just different - I've only ever encountered one other person with this name and even then it was spelt differently so technically it doesn't count. It's simply a more interesting version of me, and though it's not classically 'pretty' it definitely suits my personality. I'd really miss my middle name if it was somehow extorted from me (now that would be a scary dictatorship to live in!). In fact, I'm even contemplating one day trying to live under it for a short period of time - just to try it out.

Of course, I can't actually tell you my middle name! But it's unique, just know that.

Monday, February 8, 2010

It's funny how concerned I am about self-preservation

For example:
  • I probably wouldn't wear high heels regularly because of the horrific bunions they can cause
  • I don't like wearing heavy earrings because they can lead to misshapen, stretched earlobes
  • I'm incredibly meticulous about every aspect of personal hygiene, especially dental care
  • The idea of wearing foundation doesn't appeal to me because of its pore-clogging effect
  • I spend a considerable amount of money on skincare
  • I don't listen to loud music because I'd hate to lose part (or all) of my hearing
  • I vehemently refuse to eat food even a day out of date because food poisoning is a frightening prospect
  • I take vitamins C and D everyday and sometimes have an extra multivitamin, just as supplements
  • I do regular brain exercises to stay mentally fit (yes, perhaps I should pay a little more attention to the physical side sometimes, but I do walk regularly and eat healthily most of the time so that's something)

Centripetal spill

A blur, a bang, a broom... okay, well that last one was actually a mop, but would the rule of two really have the same impact? Anyway, you'd never really suspect a humble water-filled bucket and some string to cause the level of entertainment experience in Physics today. I know I never did.

Naturally, trudging into the dulled, yet somehow enthralling, class room I awaited the norm - a few work sheets here, some calculations there and in general an affirming lesson proving to myself that this knowledge will reside in my head for the long-term.

So when, having completed the routine, my teacher pulled out the seemingly innocuous apparatus of a bucket filled with water hanging off a string, the class buzzed with excitement at a subtle change to the standard fare. Of course, this had a point - it was a model to demonstrate how centripetal forces (those acting towards the centre of an object and cause it to follow a circular path).

After watching our teacher hesitantly make the full circle (admittedly, it is a frightening thing and you really have to go for it with vigour) and impressively contain all of the water, it was the turn of any willing volunteer. As I, among others, suspected, one of my more daring peers and a regular hand-raiser got straight up to have ago. I shuffled back in my seat (you know, just in case), but inside knew that any soaking would be well worth the laugh. It looked promising as she began to swing the bucket and build momentum, but one over-zealous arm movement and water gushed down triumphantly, as if fooled into thinking that it had beaten centripetal forces. It spread itself out nicely, too, spanning around 6 feet, yet somehow no one was even splattered.

Now, as you probably know, school's never the most fascinating or humourous place, so when an utterly amazing and hilarious thing like this happens, it's impossible to contain yourself. The class, teacher et al, erupted in a haze of contagious laughter, literally to the extent that tears raced down my face, perhaps to join their floor-based liquid companions. Our teacher didn't appear at all frustrated and simply began to mop up while still in convulsions of laughter, which only added to the sheer splendour of that lesson. So, it all turned out to be even more exciting than could have ever been anticipated, and I know I'll remember the law of centripetal force now!

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Oh, how my taste buds yearn for...

trio of olives
petit lucques, kalamata and da vinci marinated olives with maitreya organic home-made bread

avocado ravioli
fresh avocado shell filled with marinated fennel served with toasted almonds and raspberry vinegar dressing

smoked applewood cheddar tart tatin
all butter puff pastry tatin with crown prince pumpkin, chestnut mushrooms, caramelised red onion and pistachio. served with caramelised apple pak choi and plum anis dressing

pineapple and saffron pancake
fine crepes filled with caramelised pineapple, gratinated with saffron cream sauce, served with orange sorbet

Cafe Maitreya is without doubt the most elegant yet fresh vegetarian restaurant I have yet experienced.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

"And I'll never return here again"

Frankly, I don't want to. So many talented people; their creativity stifled. Well, from an outside point of view, anyway.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

So, the other day I jokingly said to my father 'I could audition for Skins next year'

Jokingly because although that would be amazing, you probably know what goes on in Skins. So I was shocked when my dad sincerely replied 'Yeah, I think you should; you've always wanted to be an actress'. Well, people surprise you all the time.

But, regardless, I'd do it if the opportunity came up. Now that would be something to put on your CV.

"Christian sees a man with a bent penis which needs straightening out while Pixie provides advice on flatulence to the people of Cardiff."

You just know the new series of 'Embarrassing Bodies' is going to be good with a description like that.

Foods I have had obsessive flings with:

  • Vegetable pies
  • Cheese coleslaw
  • Croutons
  • Bread and butter
  • Mustard on cheese on toast
  • Milky Ways and Magic Stars
  • Cornflakes
  • Porridge
  • Cocopops
  • Blue cheese
  • Alfalfa sprouts
And probably some others. I just really, really, really love food.

Morals aside...

The fish dissection was terribly interesting. The poor creature was a sardine from Morrisons, and we began by inserting a probe through his (it had a sperm sack) alimentary canal. We were 'lucky' as the probe came out of his anus, and from here we cut up to its chin and opened it out. At first it was daunting, but soon I became accustomed to poking and pulling the corpse, so it was fine.

We then removed the sperm sack, the intestines and the heart, which was kind of pyramid-shaped. Following this were the gills which contained many red false-eyelash-like surfaces. Upon extracting these, we saw that they had a large surface area to enable gas exchange to take place adequately (this was, of course, the point of the dissection, so it paid off).

After examining the semi-inflated swim bladder which kept the fish afloat when swimming, we moved on to the eyes. At first it was a rather violent affair - we pulled the eye up using the surgical forceps and snipped the connections. After this, it was time to find the lens, and having rolled perforated eye ball around a little, out popped a perfectly spherical transparent ball. This was the fish eye lens, the origin of the eponymous camera lens. This was quite a specimen, and on hovering the lens over newspaper we could read the text, albeit with the distortion that one would expect from a fish eye lens (Google some fish eye lens images if you want to).

Finally, and most brutally of all, we cut open the sardine's head just above the eyes (or, rather, where they were before we ripped them out). Brain tissue was pulled out and we came across the hard cartilage, but then it was time for the ambitious task of removing the spinal cord. With my partner, Sara, grabbing the fish I used the surgical forceps to pull at the spinal cord with all of my supposed might, but, alas, we were cut short and forced to dispose of Lesley, our sardine.

Despite the spinal cord failure, it was a thoroughly enjoyable and enlightening experience, however I can't say I'll soon be cutting up anything outside the human food chain that has been killed specifically for dissection. After all, it's more beneficial to dissect a sardine than it is to eat it.

Monday, February 1, 2010

Scalpel, please

It's my first dissection tomorrow in Biology. We're going to be dissecting small fish, and although I'm not easily disgusted and I've been fascinated by dissection since I was around 7, it still doesn't feel perfectly right.

I'll only do it if the animals died naturally or if it was something that currently couldn't be avoided e.g. small fish getting caught in a fishing net when fishing for marketable fish. Both the Biology teacher and technician are vegetarians, so hopefully this issue will have been carefully considered.