Been a while since I've updated, mostly because my laptop stopped working. The entire ordeal has dealt me and my life a blow of most grievous proportions. :o(
I don't think I realised just how much time I spent in front of a laptop until it broke :oP Then, a few days later, the Internet stopped working so I couldn't even my parent's computer to go online. Suddenly I found myself sitting about and staring into space :oP
Still, I did get a lot more reading done whilst I didn't have a laptop, including the entire Dune series up to Chapterhouse as well as all five parts of the Hitchiker's guide :o) Hopefully I'll keep it up even though I've got a working laptop again now! :o)
Right, I think were I left off was were everyone was panicking about snow. Fortunately, due to being terminally unemployed, I was able to take advantage of the situation to actually enjoy the snow :oD This didn't comprise more than just walking about a bit but I still enjoyed it :o)
thepussykay and littlecyberalex held a small Yule party on Tue 21st December, which was nice. Mostly just a small chance to exchange gifts, although I only bought a few gifts and attempted to placate everyone else with big chocolate cakes that I'd baked :o)
I spent Christmas with just my family. Gifts mostly comprised of books, DVDs and wine, which was all good. This was also around the time when the Internet stopped working and I started to feel socially isolated :oP Fortunately, I had new books so spent Christmas week reading 'An oral history of Chernobyl', nothing makes isolation more bearable then reading about gross levels of suffering! :o/
I was back at thepussykay and littlecyberalex for NYE at their's, which was fairly good and busy :o) Ended up crashing with ophelia_machina back at fraggleonspeed's in the early hours of the morning after everyone had drank too much alcohol. :o)
I saw ophelia_machina again in Bournemouth (Fri 21st Jan) where we (/I) drank too much wine and we watched those kinds of films that are so bad that they're great, such as Flash Gordon, Popeye, He-Man... :oD I've yet to get ophelia_machina to watch Watership Down and Plague Dogs with me though, something about them being too upsetting... :oP
Bert came over to play CoD with me and my brother Luke on Jan 31st, which made an interesting change. My house seems full of computers, games consoles and big TVs (/projector screens) as well as big tables for playing board games... but no one visits! :oP
Chris's wedding reception was on Feb 21st. Not very keen on weddings or receptions normally both because (1) they're often very dry affairs and (2) I don't really 'get' weddings - they always seem a rather big and public celebration of something fairly private and personal. Still, as it turned out (and despite everyone being in suits) it was all rather fun (music was better than your average wedding reception too) :o)
I did have my Nan's funeral during January but we were never close anyway (she lived in Wales and I've not seen her since I was old enough to be left at home during holidays to Wales), so it wasn't really upsetting.
I went to Industrial Fallout on Feb 5th, which for once had a name that was neither absurd/silly or offensive. They went with 'Industrial Fallout: Tannhauser Gate' rather than previously vapid references to The Holocaust and similar (note: historical events known for mass suffering should not be used as buzzwords to make your event seem 'cool'). The night itself was rather fun, as it usually is.
I was at Vagabonds on Feb 27th. A lot of people prefer the old venue, which was very nice but I'm not convinced it makes huge amounts of difference. The dance floor did get a bit crowded toward the end but I seem to remember that somewhat being the case previously too. The new venue still looks nice and evokes a nice atmosphere anyway.
Obviously, I still spent far too much time at Dungeon, variously ending up at various random people's house and/or Edge afterwards. It's not the best of clubs but it is local, familar and easy :o)
Sundays at littlecyberalex's house has been good.
We tried Warhammer Quest in December, which was a lot of nostalgic fun but I feel a bit limited in the end; to get a really long-running game you need at least a bazillion models and ideally a Gamesmaster (at which point, why not play a proper roleplay game?).
_phoenixrising introduced Dixit, in which people have to guess via a term, description or reference which of five cards a player is referring too, a brilliant concept that doesn't live fully up to the concept (as people's descriptions tend to the bland) and not really enough cards in the unexpanded version to have too much replayability (still fun for the first few times at least though).
Justin introduced Arkham Horror, a very fun game although perhaps marred a little by having too many of us playing it at once, making everything harder to keep track off and people's turns too far apart (and thus too many people getting distracted).
Oh, and obviously; Settlers, Battle of The Bands, Risk, etc. We did have an especially good game of Risk 2210 between me, Bert and littlecyberalex, which probably worked out well because the game is more suited to about three players (and only three of us turned up). :o)
I also passed my practical driving exam on January 11th! :oD Hasn't made any difference so far because I'm not insured to drive anything but it's a nice step forward :o) I'd managed to fail the past three via stupid/daft/little things so it's nice to have it finally out of the way. :o)
I've also now passed my pass plus course during February too. I'm not sure how much difference it will make to my insurance but I wanted at least some lessons on motorway driving before I did it by myself... just as well giving my first experiences with merging onto the motorway! :oP I think I'm, more or less, getting the hang of it now but I wouldn't have wanted to do it by myself for the first time :o)
The Job Centre has sent me to a course to learn job skills and interview technique, which I'd normally dismiss as patronising but, given that I am long-term unemployed now, I think I have to accept :oP I feel a little out of place amongst some of the people who attend and a lot of it simply does not apply to me but at least some of it is useful so I can't really complain :o)
Oh, and of course, I have a new laptop! :oD I took some money out of my ISA to pay for it, which I don't like doing but it wasn't exactly for a frivolous reason. The new laptop has better specs but is by HP rather than Samsung so I'm still getting used to the different quirks (including slightly different keyboard layout). I also picked myself up a new camera and an external hard disc to go with the laptop :oD
Thoughts: 'Eat, Et, Etten' - Classism.
Having been called on occasionally using the above variations on 'eat' but being generally sceptical of the idea that such 'mistakes' are just the corruptions of people who 'don't speak proper English', I decided to look it up.
Both 'et' and 'ate' appear in pronunciation guides but the real fun was looking at the debate between 'et' and 'etten'. It was a lot of fun seeing one bunch of snobs declare 'et' as sub-standard and vulgar whilst a totally different set of snobs declare 'ate' as sub-standard.
For the time-being, it appears the latter group is correct for now ('ate' is standard English in America but not Britain). 'Et' is the original and older term, with 'ate' simply arising from the attitude that words should be pronounced as they are written (which apparently is also what gives rise to some Brits pronouncing 'schedule' as 'schedule' rather than 'shedule' or pronouncing the t in 'often').
However, from what I can tell, 'ate' has become very widespread. At the beginning of the twentieth century, it was an aberration but now is becoming closer to a norm. It seems likely that in the next 30-50 years that it will become 'standard English' and the 'correct direction for language snobbery' will be against 'et' and for 'ate'.
I think that just underlines the whole absurdity of language snobbery.
As far as I can tell, the whole notion of 'proper English' is based on the idea that everyone should talk the same way as the urban rich have been doing so for the last fifty or so years. It doesn't matter if less common, more working class or rural dialects and accents have been around longer... if you don't sound like you're middle class when you speak then you're 'speaking incorrectly' and thus can be assumed to be 'common', 'uneducated' and 'stupid'.
The classism is fairly obvious.
It's not that such dialects and accents are actually 'incorrect', just that they aren't middle-class.
There's something similar that appears to be happening in the US. I was quite amused to find that 'aks' is actually an older pronunciation than 'ask', yet is treated as being sub-standard, incorrect and uneducated (particularly because 'aks' is associated with African American Vernacular).
Once we drop this idea that everyone ought to be mimicking the ever-changing dialect of the urban rich, we're left with the obvious truth that pronunciation in the English language is based on dialect and accent and this idea of 'proper English' is largely a nonsense.
It's not even as if these variant pronunciations (often older than so-called 'proper English') can even be criticised as generally confusing. Eat, Et and Etten are clearly recognisable for what they are. The only reason to dislike them is aesthetics (subjective) and snobbery (classist).
It wouldn't really matter if 'et' and 'etten' were new pronunciations anyway as I fail to see why it should only be the middle-class that is allowed to change the English language (with the rest of us being expected to conform to whatever contortion of the English language they next come up with). Language is fluid and whilst it's nice to avoid changes that are genuinely confusing... mostly issues of British dialect aren't, yet still evoke the same daft snobbery.
Although, in this case, people who are snobby about 'et' as a pronunciation of 'ate' have jumped the gun. They're going to have to wait a while before that snobbery is justified even by their own daft standards.
Short article on this and similar: ‘Ate’ or ‘Et’? British Library mulls pronunciation