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Friday, July 16

Insomnia Leads To Lie-Ins

For the past few weeks, my sleeping patterns have seemingly altered quite drastically. I used to be quite lazy, and not get out of bed until 11 in the morning, which would then lead to going to bed at sometime around 1 or 2 that night.

Recently, however, I've somehow switched to not going to bed until gone 4am, which thus entails me not dragging my ass out of bed until gone 12 at lunchtime, sometimes even closer to 2 in the afternoon! I'm still getting the 8 hours of sleep that I've become accustomed to, just a good few hours later than everyone else.

The problem is that I'm not sleeping particularly brilliantly. Even on the days when I don't get woken up by a phone call, I tend to wake up around 10 or 11, and then spend an hour or two tossing and turning, perhaps only getting 30 minutes of solid sleep before waking up and falling asleep again.

I think this is due to the general hubbub in my household, which can get a little noisy, what with there being seven of us here. It probably doesn't help matters that my bedroom is next to the living room, with only a paper-thin wall dividing the two. When one of my housemates turns the TV on in the morning, I generally hear it loud and clear, which wakes me up and then keeps me from falling back asleep.

I can't complain, except on the rare occasions that it is on particularly loud, since it is my own stupid fault for going to bed late and not getting out of bed at a reasonable hour. I will mount a slight defence by noting that when I'm up later than everyone else, into the wee small hours, I am very conscious of keeping the sound levels down. If I have my stereo on, it is at no greater volume than a whisper, and if it's the TV that I'm watching, I keep the volume just above audible.

So far I've had no complaints, so I must be doing something right. But once again, I'd like to repeat the fact that I bear no ill will to my housemates for waking me up by watching TV at midday. Hell, if I can't be out of bed by midday, there's something wrong with me.

Why am I up so late anyway? I'll tell you why. I blame a few things for keeping me up so late.

The first is the Internet. I constantly find something to amuse or interest me at 2am, become engrossed in it, and then suddenly realise that daylight is starting to creep in at my window. I've spent countless hours at websites I can't remember, reading things I have no recollection of the content of, and absorbing information that I have now forgotten.

I don't know how, or more importantly why I do it, but I have come up with a possible solution: Just stop doing it! It's easy because it's exactly what Nike don't want you to do... How am I going to put this into practice? Well, that's the difficult part. Basically, if I happen to be online at 2am, I need to force myself not to click any links whatsoever.

Links always lead to pages, which contain links to other pages, and before you know it, you've spent half an hour hopping about the web from one random page to another. This is especially true when reading blogs. Everyone has their favourites, or their friends, and I like reading blogs so much that I can often spend a few hours moving around the blogsphere, trying to find something/one that I like and can read again.

The second thing that I want to apportion blame to is Major League Baseball. We get it on Channel 5 over here on a Sunday and Wednesday night (except this week, what with the Allstar game), and I've become quite addicted to it. I find the commentary quite relaxing to listen to, just like golf commentary, as the two guys meander through conversations, often concerning people, places and teams that I have no inkling of as to their relevance.

The problem is that the matches don't start until 1am, and can last until 4.30am (ish). I struggle to tear myself away at 3am, with the knowledge that I will not know the final score, and will probably forget to look it up the next day. Basically, it's an all or nothing thing. As soon as I sit down and watch the first inning, I know I'm going to be there until the end of the ninth (heaven forbid there be extra innings!).

And so once more I end up having a very late bedtime...

What else can I use as an excuse justification? Ahh yes, Champ.

Champ has become both the bane of my existence, but yet the reason for my continued presence on this planet. For the uninformed amongst you, 'Champ' is Championship Manager, in this case CM4. It's a football management game on the PC, and is considered the best in an ever-more-full marketplace.

It is highly addictive, and very involved. I bought my copy after my exams last year (note, after my exams: I did have some sense back then), played it religiously for a while, but have neglected it for a while this year. My other housemates have been playing excessive amounts of an older version on the aging laptops that have taken up residence in the living room, but I still remained slightly distanced from it.

This is mostly because the new Champ has some great features, such as being able to watch each match in a classic, top-down Sensible Soccer view. In the older versions, you have to put up with mere text descriptions. It's difficult to describe how you can end up cheering on a large dot on a green rectangle, or calling it a "fucking cunt" when it puts another, slightly smaller dot (representing the ball) wide of a tiny white rectangle (the goal), so I won't go into too much detail here.

Anyway, when I got my new laptop, I installed Champ onto it, as I knew that I'd probably be playing it at some point in the next year. Games-wise, I only play Champ, Minesweeper and Freecell on my computer. I used to play Quake III quite a bit, but got bored with having an ultra-slow dial-up connection on which to play internet games. I like addictive, simple to play but difficult to master games, especially those where you can gauge your current performance against previous ones (Minesweeper high scores, Freecell stats, Champ Hall of Fame, etc). I have an ego to beat!

In my late-night Champ sessions, I usually combine it with doing something else. For instance, if I'm watching baseball, I'll have my laptop on my, erm, lap, playing Champ at the same time. I can multi-task, don't you know?

The final thing which I would like to blame for my inability to go to bed whilst the sky is black is my work. On an average night, I don't get home until gone midnight, often close to half-past the hour. I then need a good hour or so to wind down before I can even contemplate going to bed. One hour quickly turns into two, then into three and four, and it's suddenly daylight once more!

I can't say I mind working these hours too much, nor the travelling involved, but I do feel that it is contributing to my apparent laziness each morning. If I was given some lunchtime shifts too, I would need to get up earlier each day, and therefore would have a solid reason to go to bed before daylight hits my window. Stupid rota-setters.

Anyway, that's my little random piece on my sleeping patterns over and done with. Like I said a few posts back, I've got a load of little posts that I want to write in the very near future, on all sorts of random subjects. Such as this one.

Oh, and I say "little", but this has turned into 1300+ words... Once I get writing, it just flows out. Now if only I could find the time to write, preferably during daylight hours, rather than the current time of 3.27am! Off to bed, I suppose.

Degree Grades - An Explanation

Even though I've explained this before, it has been requested that I explain once more the grading system for English degrees. So here goes, from best to worst:

So there you go. My marks were all in the 2:2 bracket this time, with 3 at the higher end and 1 towards the lower boundary. A solid 2:2 for my year's work...

Thursday, July 15

Meetup Time Again

Hurrah, it's time for the London Bloggers' Meetup again!

This time round, it's on Wednesday, 21st July (i.e. NEXT Wednesday), at a pub called The Red Lion on Waverton St. This is on the outskirts of Mayfair, and a map is available online. Green Park is the nearest Tube station. (Oh, and when did Multimap change its layout?)

For more information, and to RSVP, go to http://blog.meetup.com and search for 'London'. Hopefully it should be better attended than the last one! Oh, and don't worry if you don't blog, just come along for the beer, the good conversation (ahem), and finally my lovely self. I only charge 2 for an autographed photo. I'll even wish your mum a happy birthday on the phone if you want me to.

So yeah, blog.meetup.com, The Red Lion on Waverton St, next Wednesday evening. Be there!

So There I Was...

Sitting on a bench in Embankment Gardens last Tuesday, flicking through Private Eye and the epic literary tome that is King's Bench, the Law School student publication. Dear God, is that a dire magazine to read through?!

It has an horrific design, with lots of random shapes behind the text that make it quite awkward to read. The articles seem to be full of self-promotion and are very self-centred. Much like my own writing, to be honest. I thought I'd say it before anyone else does...

As a slight personal aside, how the fuck did you get so many mentions in that magazine, Old Man Mabbutt? Were you paying the various article writers, or does Big Ben love you so much that he has to mention you every other paragraph? What do I have to do to get my name in that magazine? Oh, and how were your exam results?

Whilst I enjoyed sitting in the sunshine, relaxing and doing nothing, I couldn't help but feel that I'd wasted the vast majority of yet another day. I was also no closer to satisfying the nagging anxiety concerning my exam results.

That was thankfully ended on Wednesday morning, when I got a phone call at the ridiculously early hour of 9am from my Mum. Come on, the hours were still in single figures, so there was no chance I was going to be up an about. I dazily took the call, scribbled down the results on a post-it, and went back to sleep for another hour or so.

So yeah, they'd been posted through to my parents' house, even though I remember asking for them to be posted to my London address. I swear that I made that clear on the form I handed back in authorising my initial pass / fail result to be posted online. But that'd be the inept bureaucracy at King's for you...

So, without further ado, I present to you the exam results for the modules I took in the second year of my Law with European Legal Studies degree:

All of them were 2:2s, which isn't a bad result. My average is also better than last year, up to 57 from 51/52, which means that I must have put some work in at some point.

I am, however, very disappointed with the 51 in Tort. I remember walking out of the exam feeling very confident with how it had gone, and feeling that the sheer volume of revision I'd put in had been justified. And now I get confronted with the lowest mark (by some distance) of the 4 modules I took. I guess you can't always tell how well an exam went.

This theory is reinforced by the fact that my two highest scores came in the modules which I thought I'd done badly in, since I'd become very, very bored with them both since Christmas. I also thought that the piece of coursework I'd done for Criminology was absolutely dire, because I'd rushed it without planning it too much. Meh, such are the inconsistencies that make life interesting.

The only reason I can possibly think of to justify my two best scores is that they were both open-book exams. This meant that I could look things up (albeit rapidly) during the exam, and make better references when necessary. It was the first time that I'd sat an entirely open-book exam, and I'm now a big fan of them.

I think they are more realistic (well, so far as an exam can be), and more comparable to the real world than a closed-book exam, because in the real legal world, you have access to thousands of cases and academic articles as you prepare a case. Thus your analytical skills become more important, as does your ability to select relevant pieces of information from the masses of text in front of you. An open-book exam tests this skill, whereas a closed-book exam is perhaps more of a test of memory.

Anyway, that's my excuse for doing so poorly in the two modules I was expecting to do well in, and I'm sticking to it.

I keep reminding myself that these exam results may not even count towards my overall degree grade, because if I do better in my final year, those 4 modules will make up my degree grade. I do a total of 8 modules across my 2nd and 4th year, and the results from the best 4 equate to my degree grade.

Therefore, if I work fucking hard in my final year and get 4 2:1s, I'll get a 2:1 overall. On the other hand, I've now guaranteed myself a 2:2 from my time at university. In theory, I could do just enough to pass my 4th year, and still come out with a 2:2. Bearing in mind that I slacked a little this year, I could slack a whole lot in my 4th year!

But let's not start thinking that way. I need to work hard, get a 2:1, and the world will be my oyster. King's is a top 5 law school in the country, so to come out with a 2:1 would be a brilliant position to be in. To be honest, a 2:2 is pretty damn good too, or so I keep telling myself.

And that would be my exam results. A little disappointing, but 3 high 2:2s is a half-decent result, one that I'm content with. A little more work in the 4th year and I should be able to get the few extra marks that I need to get a 2:1. Here's hoping / praying.

Wednesday, July 14

The Dreaded Exam Results

Note: This is the post I wrote last night that Bl*gger promptly lost. I hate rewriting things like this, so I apologise in advance if it's a little brief or short with descriptions... Why is it the one time I don't copy my post before I hit the publish button that Bl*gger crashes and loses the post? Grrr.

Excuse me for a brief moment, but I'm going to be so self-centred that I am going to quote myself in my own writing. I wrote a few days, with regards to finding out that I'd passed my year of study:
Remember last year how I was ecstatic at passing, but then thoroughly deflated the next day with my marks? Stay tuned for a repeat performance.

Well, this is the tale of that deflation.

It got to Tuesday of last week, and I still hadn't received my individual module results through the post. I was getting a little nervous, expecting the worst, as per my usual pessimistic view on these kind of things. They were supposed to have been posted on the Thursday or Friday, and you would have expected even the dire Royal Mail to have managed to deliver them by Tuesday.

I figured that they might have been delivered to my parents' house, so I gave them a ring. Incidentally, I've found myself now referring to my old home as "my parents' house", rather than "home", which I guess means that I've finally moved out and moved on. Perhaps even grown up? Well, maybe not that much.

She hadn't got them yet, so I then rang the Law School at King's to find out exactly what the fuck was going on. Of course, they weren't there, but I left my name and number on their answer machine, with a request that they ring me back as soon as they got the message.

I then wandered a little aimlessly around the living room, toying with the idea of hopping on a tube and going into King's in person, since you tend to get more results when you are looking someone directly in the eye. I also remembered that the office in the Law School takes lunch from 1 to 2, which is why no-one was there to take my call.

I had to be at work in the early evening, but I figured that I'd might as well go in to get these goddamn exam results. I grabbed my iPod, picked up a newspaper on the way, and switched off on the Tube for 45 minutes.

It took approximately 30 seconds to sort things out when I got there. I went to the office, gave them my name, and mentioned that I'd left a message for them. I asked if I could have my exam results, and the guy there told me that they'd been posted the day before (Monday). If I hadn't received them that morning, they'd be there on Wednesday.

That would have been nearly 2 hours of my time wasted then...

I decided to at least relax in the glorious sunshine for a little while before heading home and then back into the centre for work. I grabbed a couple of things from my pigeon hole, including the incredibly dire and badly written law school students' publication, King's Bench, stopped off at a newsagent for the new Private Eye and a bottle of Lucozade, and then made my way down to Victoria Gardens.

Victoria Gardens are by the river near Charing Cross station, and they're one of my favourite places in London. The entire area around them is manically busy, but they are a little idyllic oasis in which to relax and chill out for half an hour or so.

Unfortunately, I'm not the only person who knows this, and on this particular day, half of the workers in Central London were also there. It was mobbed, with barely a blade of grass not being sat on. Somehow I found a bench to sit on, which was a bit of a surprise, and I plonked my ass down.

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Sorry, got to go to work. I'll finish this off tonight / tomorrow, as well as a few other posts that I've got running around my head. I will return, honest!

Distractions Are, Erm, Distracting

I was full of good intentions on Sunday, all prepared, ready and willing to do a hell of a lot of blogging. Then one thing and another came up, got in the way and distracted me. I can't help it, these things just happen!

But anyway, I'm once more prepared, ready and willing to write a serious amount of material. I've got the MLB All-Star game on the TV, a big bottle of water by my side, my laptop on my legs, and (rather annoyingly) the street cleaner directly outside the window, making a shitload of noise.

I was talking about the various nights I'd worked last week, and seeing as I also worked this very evening, that sounds about the right place to continue.

Friday was very dead, as I said earlier, but nothing could have prepared me for Saturday's "work". The first thing I was told about when I turned up at X at 6 in the evening was that someone had died in the pub on Friday night. This only came up when I mentioned that Y had been "dead" on the Friday night. Oh, the bitter, bitter irony.

Or not, come to think of it. The overuse of the words "irony" and "ironically" by various people on TV is a particular bugbear of mine and Pete's (a housemate). And before anyone mentions it, yes I know that Ms Morissette obliterated the use of the word in her song.

None of the events in her lyrics could be considered ironic in the true sense of the word. Coincidental, yes. Unfortunate, possibly. Ironic? Not at all.

Irony is a dramatic term which is used when an audience is aware of something that the character on stage isn't. This is most commonly evident when a scene is immediately preceded by another scene where a plan or plot is discussed that a character in the latter scene is unaware of. The audience is thus informed, whilst the character isn't.

A "no smoking sign on your cigarette break" is most definitely not ironic. Rant over.

So, Saturday night's work. This was the most bored I have ever been whilst working behind a bar. I was at the same downstairs bar as I was on the previous Saturday night, but this night was unbelievably quiet. At the end of my five-and-a-half hours down at that bar, I had served less than 30 drinks.

And I did count it up in one of the ultra-lengthy periods between customers, so I know that it was less than 30 drinks. The worst period was the 100 minutes where I quite literally pulled 2 pints. 2 fucking pints in nearly 2 hours! Dear God was I bored.

The worst thing was that although there was a TV on downstairs, it didn't have any sound because the music for the pub was being pumped through the sound system. One positive to come from that is that I managed to watch Liar Liar without having to actually hear Jim Carrey. He's funny enough visually that I was smirking a few times watching it from afar. The fact that I'd seen it too many times already, knew the storyline and most of the actual lines spoken is neither here nor there...

I did bugger all for the rest of the evening there, until I went back upstairs to the main bar after closing mine down and cleaning up (which I managed to drag out long enough so that I got upstairs after they'd finishing serving too. Yay for me). One of the seemingly endless supply of foreign bargirls, who speak quite broken English, announced that it was time for a drink, and that that included me.

She was already pretty pissed, as she took great delight in repeatedly informing me in a louder-than-usual voice. I don't know which country she is from, but I think her accent has an hispanic twang to it, possibly Brazilian. She kept saying "You good guy, I like you, you very good guy." Hell, I'll take compliments, even from drunk randoms.

A quick drink followed, which destroyed my staying alcohol-free regime that has been quite successful recently. Note to self: Aftershocks are only to be drunk when you're quite drunk already. They BURN, especially so when you haven't touched any alcohol for over a week (again, yay for me).

I declined on the round of absinth that followed, on the principle that absinth is undrinkable when your taste buds haven't been dulled by a night of beer and other drinks first. I've only ever managed 2 absinths in one night, never any more, and I have to say that they didn't have quite the hallucinogenic effect that I was expecting. Certainly, their alcohol content aided my descent into the inevitable 2am drunk oblivion, but I don't remember being particulary fucked over by the absinths themselves.

The fact that I don't usually remember much of the many nights out where they get to the point of absinth suddenly being a viable drinking option is irrelevant (ish).

When I left the pub sometime around 11.30, I was sort of in the mood for going out and getting smashed. That Aftershock must have reawoken a feral desire for being drunk and incapable. I tried to ring a couple of my housemates, got no answer, and tried a third. I was walking down Regent St at the time, with the vague intention of going to Burger King if all else failed.

I managed to get my housemate on the phone, and rather weirdly, he was on a bus heading down Regent St to go meet a friend and then to head to a club (Afterschool, I believe). It ended up with me walking alongside his bus, chatting to him on the phone whilst we were looking at each other. Very strange.

It ended up with me deciding not to go out, so I grabbed a burger and headed home. A great way to spend a Saturday night, right?

Which all brings me to today. I was back at Y this evening, doing my first shift of the week. Nothing too much that needs reporting happened, to be honest. I chatted to a few of the regulars, including one that I hadn't spoken to before. He turned out to be a really interesting, funny guy. He has a double hair-lip, and thus looks a little strange, but he is a genuinely nice guy. Utterly harmless, a great sense of humour, and a great conversationalist.

I also talked football for a little while with a couple of the other regulars, and I realised that although it has been less than 10 days since the end of Euro 04, I'm already missing watching football on TV. At least it's only 3 weeks until the start of next season and the resumption of Sunday afternoons in the pub, on the right side of the bar again.

That was a little light reading for you, I'll start a new post to talk about something else.

Sunday, July 11

Another? Cheers.

I've got loads of little ideas buzzing about my head concerning what to write about the last week, so I've decided to not bother with my usual epic chronological post, instead splitting it up into loads of little bite-size snippets. They're going to be all over the place regarding times and events, but I will hopefully be able to cover everything that happened. It'll probably be easier to digest than 3,500 words in one go.

Hopefully.

I'll start with the various things that have gone on at work, since it seems to be dominating my life at the moment, both in terms of time and thought.

I was at Y on Tuesday night, my first shift of the week. I was once again left to my own devices behind the bar, since mY had been working from 7 that morning, dealing with deliveries and the like. It was fairly busy when I got there at 6 in the evening, but nothing I couldn't handle.

That, of course, changed. I think it was due to that Formula 1 demonstration on Regent Street, because Y isn't too far from that area, and is much better than all of the pubs that I know of in and around Oxford Circus (yes, that includes my other pub, X). We had a mad rush of people around 8.00, and I was snowed under. I was going as quickly as I could, but ever more people kept turning up to the bar.

I had to phone upstairs to get mY to help me, which she did for about 15 minutes, until the mass of people crowded round the bar eventually ebbed away. I swear I've never worked so hard in my life. Well, that's a lie. Let me rephrase it to be the hardest I've ever worked behind a bar in my life.

As I said, I got there at 6, and it wasn't until 8.45 that I wasn't serving anybody. Quite literally, I was constantly serving one customer or another for over 2 and a half hours without a moment's rest to grab myself a drink, or to clear glasses from any tables. I definitely earnt my money that night.

Which is in complete and utter contrast to Friday and Saturday night.

On Friday I was at Y. I arrived an hour later than I was (apparently) supposed to, but I swear that mY said to me on Tuesday that I was due to start at 7 on the Friday. I'm pretty good at remembering these things, and this one stood out because I knew that I was starting at 6 at X on both Wednesday and Saturday. Friday was thus different, which is why I remembered it being at 7.

mY was cool about it though, and didn't give me a bollocking. My arrival enabled her to retire to her apartment for the evening, and I was left with a Japanese girl by the name of Michiko to run the bar. She was cool, very eager and friendly, and we got on with doing the pub-thing, serving drinks, clearing glasses and all of that shit.

Most of the regulars left really early, by around 8, which was in complete contrast to last Friday. It also left me feeeling really bored and apathetic towards working, since I had no real entertainment. Of course there were the odd people who were a good laugh, but no-one who really grabbed me as someone to talk to.

It probably didn't help that I was quite tired, since I'd not gone to bed until nearly 5 the night before (no reason that I can think of), and had got up even later than usual. More on my sleeping patterns in another post.

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I will end this post a little abruptly, since I'm off to play a bit of football with my housemates. More a little later, I promise!

Not Dead, Merely Disinterested

I keep meaning to post, but then have an attack of apathy towards sitting down and writing. This is a shame, because when I can't get to a computer, I keep thinking of a myriad of sentences and subjects that I want need to write about. I should start carrying my notebook around with me again.

Although, doesn't an iPod have a feature where you can make notes on it? Memo to self: read instruction manual. For the first time.

Oh, and purely to keep Ben happy, I got a 2:2 in all 4 of the modules I sat this year. I'll go into detail when I write up this week's events tomorrow (well, later today if I'm pedantic). Incidentally, nice write-up in King's Bench of the football.

Oh, and for those of you who know what this means: I'm going to create King's Stings tomorrow. Start sending those stories. You know the type I'm looking for. The "Steve" story in full gory detail would be good, especially with pictures.

So, unless I get distracted by playing football, watching the Grand Prix, watching films, lazing around, sleeping, eating or the pub, I will absolutely, definitely, 100% post tomorrow. No doubt it'll be of the usual epic type.
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