Thursday, November 30, 2006
Family Guy rocks.
And if you have no idea what this is about, it's from Rocky IV. I've always had a soft-spot for this particular piece of jingoistic Cold War propaganda (which along with Rambo III, ironically dedicated to those wonderful freedom fighters in Afghanistan won Sly a commendation from President Reagan).
It's mostly the 80s music I love about Rocky IV - it's certainly not the plot. A rough synopsis of most of the series is that Rocky has to face some boxer so he trains in a montage, and wins. However in Rocky IV the evil steroid taking Russian opponent is so powerhouse it takes two montages of training to defeat him in darkest Russia, under the watchful eyes of the KGB:-
Anyway, I'm off to yell my archnemesis's name from a snowy mountain top.
Wednesday, November 29, 2006
- Going out on a Monday night is not a good idea
- Staying out late on a Monday night is really, really bad when you have 2 hours of labs and 2 lectures to give
- I need to learn to dance (other than ceilidhs, where I'm not bad, but that's just relative)
- Walking across the park on your own at 1am is not a good idea - you either worry you're going to be mugged or that you look like a mugger (I managed to scare some old folks by wearing the hood on my hoodie on Friday evening at 6pm, on the way home from work).
- I've learned the meaning of dirty stopout
Oh, and I also remembered to download the Baywatch Theme. That song has continued to haunt me, as you know, for a while. I think someone out there is upset I no longer watch Baywatch before going to work. Nonetheless here is the theme remixed:-
Monday, November 27, 2006
Monifieth's youth - mainly those from Monifieth High School - are noted for their severe rivalry with the youth of neighbouring town Broughty Ferry, most of whom come from the high school Grove Academy. This rivalry has grown to such an extent that it has resulted in the formation of several groups - Monifieths 'YMR' (Young Moni Rool), and Grove's 'Ferry Fleet'. As well as battling each other, these groups - who consist mainly of 'neds' - also enjoy tormenting local residents. The YMR taking over this mantle from the YPT (Young Panny Tongs), the last group of whom disbanded in 2004. There are many known prostitutes in Monifieth, but none as famous as the local Jewish prostitute, Derek Soutar.
So, um, yes. Real accurate info there.
Even more interesting is the page on Monifieth High School that links to a website rating the teachers.
Wednesday, November 22, 2006
This is the day we got a glass door. Or more precisely we thought a circular window in our door. Or actually, as it turns out, a postbox style glass slit you can look through if you stare really, really hard.
This is our old office door. For such an innocuous looking thing it was a cause of many, many, many arguments. Note also the angry handwriting on the note on the door - I'll let you guess who did that:-
You see, despite the fact we are supposed to run a student drop-in support centre B. objects to having the door open. There's a draft in his bit of the room, by the window, at his desk. He can't switch desks of course, as that would make him more accessible to students, and I routinely wander round the office in a t-shirt, never feeling the draft... but anyroads...
Last year he went so far as to yell "BBBRRRRRR..." when a group of students came by and left the door open, put on three layers of clothing in front of them and steal the only electric heater in the room, leaving a trip-wire by my office space. A bit like this...
Anyroads when the students left (with very quizzical expressions on their face) I shut our door and tried to tell B. that yelling "BRRRRRR..." and stealing heaters wasn't professional behaviour in front of students, and certainly not welcoming. This 'discussion' was countered with a "I'm not listening, lalala" response, including him comically slapping both of his ears loudly and sorely in an attempt to not listen. Once his hands were removed and the red ears he'd given himself exposed I fruitlessly tried some rational discussion that ended with him swearing, me swearing louder and better (I'm Scottish, I've been to Glasgow, I can therefore swear better), him looking for a sheet of paper to write down all my swearing for a formal complaint and me slamming a 200 page hardback notebook, suggesting he might need all 200 pages to contain my forthcoming litany of curse-words followed by astute observations about his character.
I call this my "going postal day". I'm normally really easy-going, in fact I'm a softie and a pushover. But that was the day I was physically dragged out of the office by A for fear that I may decide to use the hardback notebook as a rectal thermometer.
We had several days with 'discussions' like this over the Christmas and Easter semesters last year. Sometime A. did the swearing by the end of the discussion, sometimes me. I think if both A. and I lose it we may tag-team Ben in some bizarre WWF style and end up ripping him half.
Anyway TPTB, after listening to our tales of woe about life with B. and his prima-donna attitude towards the job (I was in the HoD's office for 2 hours once, practically lying on his couch twitching) decided the door doesn't need to be open, just unlocked, and as a compromise we were getting a glass door. Fair enough, I guess.
The plan was according to our boss to get a nice circular porthole style window for the door. The builders would arrive at 8:30am to remove our door, and bring it back by 4pm to install it with the window. Sysadmin would be there to meet them and B. and I were supposed to come in at 9:00am to relieve the sysadmin guy. Then we'd all stay in the office, 'cos if no-one is here all our nice shiny might get nicked. We'd take it in turns to cover each other so we could go to the loo etc. And eventually we'd get our nice new glassy door.
What actually happened was A. and Sysadmin was in our office when the builder came by at 8:30am. The builder remarked on how the window he'd been told to install was the smallest possible and would look weird. Apparently after further discussion our bemused admin and A. discovered the builder had come by the office when B. was the only person on duty last week. Despite claiming he is the busiest of us all B. never ever leaves the office (but see below). Even during his own classes he's here at least half of the duration of the class to pick up the hundreds of things he's forgotten or to do tasks he didn't do prior to the lab. He routinely sends out emails saying he wants to play snooker in the staffroom upstairs and reminding our staff he has his own balls. I honestly an't think why no-one ever takes him up on an opportunity to play with his... Never mind, I can't type this...
B. had decided on a window design that was the smallest window possible for fear someone might see his desk through the glass. Naturally he'd not mentioned this, focusing more on making sure someone else other than him was in at 8:30am. So our doorway looked like this by the time I turned up:-
I turned up at 9:00 am. No sign of B. - he dropped an email around 10ish saying he had decided to work across the road instead. The irony being this was the one day he might be useful in the office. This left A. and me, so if either of us is out working with students the other was stuck. He eventually turned up at lunch time to let us get some lunch.
Fast forwards to this afternoon and the new door arrived. Look at the rather odd geometry of the window - I think you are actually meant to install 4 of these into a door, not 1.
I feel at this point it is necessary to reintroduce the concept of Ben-Shui - B.'s way of making a student-proof nest that discourages students from bothering him by making his office as inaccessible as possible without a five mile hike. You can see previous thread on this here.
What was crazier was no sooner had we got this new door than we were asked to cover the glass window for security purposes. So now it looks like this:-
You may note the "Coming Soon" on our makeshift cover was written by me. This is because I had a bet with A. that B. would take 'til Friday to cover the window in notices. This way I can still win my bet...
So to recap in Ben-Shui tradition I've drawn what was supposed to be the intended window, the actual window and the desired Ben-Shui window for our office:-
You're probably wondering what B.'s reaction to the window. Let me summarise.
B (-2 hours): "After we get this window installed we can cut down our number of office hours."
B (5 minutes after installation): "I love this window - it's so small and you can't see anything."
B (10 minutes after installation and seeing me staring at his workstation and making faces at him through said window): "Hmm... you can see a bit much through this window."
B (15 mins): "I didn't ask for this window."
B (20 mins): "I hate this window."
B (1 hour): Proceeds to rearrange his workspace to hide from the window.
So to recap...
Inserting the world's smallest window - £100
Wages paying employees to argue about the window - £200
Covering up said window an hour after installation - Priceless
For everything else there's Mastercard.
Tuesday, November 21, 2006
Sunday, November 19, 2006
We're getting a glass door, or more precisely a glass window into our door. I think this is supposed to alleviate the arguments over whether a drop-in centre should have a closed door, though it threatened to start an argument over who should be here at 8:30am on the day when the workmen turn up. I expect tantrums and tiaras soon.
At fencing I've been learning epee for a few weeks and some weird retroactive learning effect means I now find foils far too light and have little control when fencing with them. I also think my accuracy has decreased as I keep getting lots of near hits or hits with the flat of the blade. Today a fresher creamed me in epee. I've also finally bought some kit, though this stuff is not cheap, costing >£100 for a jacket and breeches, but at least they'll fit and I can finally do electrics.
I've uploaded my photos of the Pirate Pub Crawl and Bonfire Night - Bonfire Night was spent in the Old Horse watching a pirate themed burning of a ghostly galleon. Hence me wearing the pirate hat I am clearly getting good value for money from. It was certainly a lot better than watching the fireworks from the bus stop near my old gaff in Ireton Road last year before going to the pub I now aptly refer to as the Wyvern's Armpit.
In terms of TV I am starting to watch This Life, which was a show in the 90s I missed as I wasn't a 20-something back then. My mother watched it, despite I suspect disapproving of some of its themes and characters, and it is definitely "Friends on Acid" as A. described it. Torchwood has been good, though I wasn't so sure about the fairies episode, but overall it's a quality show. Season 3 of Galactica has proven epic, without a bad episode so far, compared to Season 2 which lost its way after the resolution of the cliffhanger from Season 1 (which took too long back then).
This week's episode of the increasingly mediocre Robin Hood 2006 was pure brilliance. Marion being maneuvered into marrying a somewhat dim Gisbourne and the Sheriff hanging Robin's men an hour early, preventing the obligatory gallows rescue, were genius - though I was worried how I was actually cheering on the villains rather than the excessively modern-moralistic heroes.
An example of this twaddle was in last week's episode where we had Robin shutting down a butcher for providing poor quality fly-riddled meat to peasants. I can see why Jamie Oliver inspired this incarnation of Hood. This week had a mobile pawn shop where peasants could sell their valuables (bit of a misstep in logic here, but hey). I am also not taking to the politically correct female Turk merry man Djaq though - so far she's been superfluous to all the plots. I'd say bring back Roy but his death added much needed grit to the show.
Monday, November 13, 2006
Something really discouraging and disappointing has been nagging me lately and last night it seemed to be weighing heavily on my mind, so coupled with a few more niggles I didn't seem to get any sleep last night. Around 3am I decided to take some herbal sleep remedy which, I am convinced I am immune to as it always means I stay awake and feel extra drowsy in the morning.
Anyroads, half asleep today I went into work and tried to go over my notes for the unholy trinity of lectures I have to give on Wednesdays. They went badly. Binary addition, something I've gone over ad naseum seemed to be very, very difficult today. Every time I tried to prove some sort of concept I got completely the other answer. It was like pantomine came early to Leicester this year with the students ably yelling, "Oh, no it isn't." All I was missing was the frock and bad makeup.
However some lateral thinking saved me - I tried to write out the circuit diagram for one of my lectures and failed miserably 3 times, so using my brain for the first time I ran off and photocopied the diagram onto OHP 10 or so times to work through some examples. I feel I really deserved a cookie for this lateral thinking as it saved my posterior from completed embarassment... unfortunately it also saved me so much time I got onto a bunch of material I wasn't expecting to, and left me wittering on for another 20 minutes or so.
Tonight I shall be boning up on my material and hoping the world ends. Ah joy.
Thursday, November 09, 2006
Wednesday, November 08, 2006
One particular student wrote "Dear Sir Stuart", which is great, but surely they should know the correct address is "Lord Stuart" or, more appropriately "Lord Kerrigan". However until her maj decides to add me to the nansy-boy club that is the knighthood Sir Stuart it ain't.
More disturbingly one poor student, desperate to submit her coursework on time referred to me as "Mrs. Kerrigan". Now, short of a painful operation or an accident while running with scissors, Mrs. Kerrigan it ain't.
Which reminds me I was called Steve by another student in conversation today. In fact this has happened a lot since I moved to Leicester. People don't quite hear my name and they assume I was introduced as Steve. They say I look like a Steve. I personally think it's due to exposure to a Steve that I have developed Steve-like qualities. But I am not Steve. I am pretty certain of this. In fact if this persists I may have to write a book called "I am not Steve" and then in my dotage write one called "Shucks. Yes I am Steve. But arrest that man anyway."
So in short, Stuart, milord, Dr. Stu, Dr. Kerrigan, Doc or (most preferrably) Lord Kerrigan it is. :P
Yours with much ego,
Tuesday, November 07, 2006
I should point out the picture isn't of me, though the resemblance is um... well... he has the same colour hair. However my favourite theory that my students offered was that they assumed it was a picture from my days in a rock and roll band. I kid you not.
Work is busy, and this whole running an entire module lark yourself is lots of work, but it isn't that hard. I gave 3 lectures today, well to be honest, assisted with 1, and gave 2, and also found time to run a 2 hour lab. I'm also setting exams, which is a lot harder work than you'd think.
Stuart Kerrigan, at 22, likes to think he brings youth, enthusiasm and good looks to the team that it simply couldn't do without. Born in Jedburgh, Scotland (a place that boasts "The Last Shop in Scotland") he has been roleplaying ever since the fateful day 12 years ago when hepicked up the Basic Set in Beatties model shop, Aberdeen. Since then Stuart has been hooked on roleplaying and has the death sentence on twelve systems(including D&D 3rd Ed). He currently roleplays regularly at Dundee University and allegedly works there on a PhD in Computer Vision when not writing 100-word bios.
Monday, November 06, 2006
Listening to the Master on a trip to Nottingham reminded me to finish this post I started yonks ago.
Storm Warning acts as the pilot for the series, so the Doctor naturally picks up a companion, 1930s self-styled Edwardian adventureress Charley Pollard. The story starts out a bit like Titanic, set aboard the R101 airship but suddenly becomes very steampunk - with aliens and Her Britannic Majesty's forces clashing in an epic battle. In the end the Doctor is not able to save the R101 but he does save Charley, irreperably ripping the web of time and setting up 2 seasons worth of arc plots. Good stuff, definitely a good first play to listen to.
Stones of Venice on the other hand is very Shakespearean. It's set in Venice in the future and deals with a cursed duke and his lost love. Despite it's future setting there seems to be little technology and the dialogue is very Shakespearean, with many many monologues. It is quite a good play though.
Sword of Orion is set in a Bladerunneresque future, when mankind is at war with replicants. Both sides are courting the Cybermen for aid, with disasterous effects. The doctor and Charley transport into a lone human military vessel, cuing a claustrophobic alienesque story.
Minuet in Hell is where Doctor Who tries to do Buffy badly. The Doc has gone to the States and lost his memory (again!), and it seems his very identity is in question. In the meantime there seems to be this whole convoluted plot with demons, the Brigadier (back in the days when UNIT, not Torchwood were everywhere), Charley, an evil priest and a demon-fighting chick named Becky-Lee (guess what this is a rip-off of). It goes on a little too long. Quite weak and skippable.
The second season starts with Mark Gatiss's Invaders from Mars, a story a bit like the Idiot's Lantern in that it is set around Orson Welles's broadcast of War of the World. Simon Pegg and Jessica Stevens from Spaced star, but with everyone doing similar mafiaesque accents it is difficult to tell who's who.
Embrace the Darkness is another alienesque claustrophobic adventure but much better than Sword of Orion. It also puts a twist on the formula however. Seasons of Fear is a romp through time, visiting Ancient Rome, medieval times, 19th Century England and beyond. Excellent stuff, though Time of the Daleks, where the time-ripples created in the arc plot cause Shakespare to disappear from the timeline, and the Daleks are involved. It's not particularly great, though the Daleks do quote Shakespare and it leads into...
Neverland, which is very Timelordy, but is excellent nevertheless. The Doctor, Charley and Romana discover what has been affecting time since Charley was rescued, and take on anti-time (think anti-matter). With much heroism the Doc seemingly sacrifices himself to save Gallifrey (a bit pointless now, given the new series, but hey) and returns infected with anti-time as...
Zagreus. This was meant to be the 40th anniversary story, featuring all the Doctors that Big Finish have on the payroll, namely Davidson (meh), Colin Baker (bad Doctor, though his audio stuff seems okay), McCoy (yay) and of course McGann. Pertwee returns via some sound-bytes he recorded for a fanfilm that was not released. Tom Baker on the other hand doesn't feature, but nearly everyone else who has ever appeared in Doctor Who also features. However rather than doing a multi-doctor story the 3 CD extravaganza follows a surreal narrative, using elements from Alice in Wonderland and the relatively insular Timelord lore RTD has trimmed from the new series. The surreal visions are meant to highlight the Doctor's battle with the anti-time infection, and all the cast play weird characters in the visions, even the ex-Doctors. Eventually it turns out Rassilon was behind it all, and the Doc exiles himself to a universe where time does not exist... and proceeds to have lots of adventures over... er... time? And Charley comes along despite her plotlines being ably resolved in Neverland. I recommend listening to the first 20 minutes of Zagreus, and then the last CD entirely.
Season 3 has its highs and lows. Season 2 is doubtless the best, as most folk seem to think Invaders is amazing (admittedly I was driving while listening to that one).
Thursday, November 02, 2006
I now have an outrageously French looking pirate hat, complete with wig hair, which I wrote appropriately enough to a pirate pub crawl. This pub crawl ended with me in a night club in Leicester. In a night club where I had to check in my plastic katana (yes, katana, I was a ninja pirate - they're going to be in the vogue once Pirates of the Carribean 3 is out so remember I was ahead of the times).
More embarassingly I had to ask the bouncer for said toy katana on the way out (it's not mine so I was meaning to return it to its rightful owner), which was fun. In front of one of the students I'd been lecturing that day. On my own. Dressed as a pirate. On my own. Good job I don't take myself seriously. Said student certainly doesn't now.
For the second crawl, our Halloween party crawl I went as a witch hunter, which meant a black shirt, dog collar, holy book (actually the gospel on Computer Systems according to me as it was the course notes for the course I'm lecturing), outrageously silly crucifix, stake and battle axe. This also was my first foray to the cocktail bar at the bottom of my street, which is nice, though needs more research done in the name of science. It's a bit like Tally's in Dundee, though nicer, and the cocktail menu rivals Tally's in its hay-day. Though I still wish I'd tried the toffee crisp flavour cocktails when Tally's had them.
This one didn't end in the nightclub for me, but it did end up with me staggering home (I'm convinced the dregs of the pitcher of cocktail I drank had all the alcohol in it) and feeling a little worse for wear in my morning lab. Judging by the chat of my students I would've run into all of them in said nightclub, so I probably avoided a repeat of the katana incident.