Squirk's Overseas Experience

The tales of one Kiwi returning to Mother Britain and exploring the Big Wide World... without being eaten by a shark.

Sunday, December 31, 2006

My seductive style is...

Via GodAwfulPoet, another silly quiz:

What's your seductive style? The Escape Artist.

It seems Mel has also beat me to posting.

Saturday, December 30, 2006

Sun-shiny dreams, concrete reality

Many of you know that I'm moving to Germany in a few weeks. My general plan was to move to Berlin, study for a few months and see if I could find a job. A bit of research has shown that plan to be hopeful at best, and I'll probably be back in London by April.

It all boils down to work and income, effectively. My savings won't stretch that far if I'm not earning, and there is pretty much zero chance of me getting a job in Germany before my money runs out. Actually, the chance of me getting a job in Germany at all — especially Berlin — is pretty much zero. They seem to care even more deeply about paper qualifications than the British, and unemployment is rife. (About 17% of Berlin is out of work compared to London's 7%.)

(According to an article in the Telegraph, turning down a job in any industry is grounds for cutting someone's unemployment benefit — even the sex industry.)

The courses I'm looking at are offered in both Berlin and Munich, at much the same prices.

Thursday, December 28, 2006

Joyous week

It's Christmas time again, and I wish you all a wonderful week. Several friends, old and new, have put in the effort to send season's greetings and I appreciate each one.

Their messages contrast sharply with my own seasonal efforts. I have sent no postcards and no greeting cards, sent no text messages. I've made just one family phone call, and that was more for my sister's birthday than for Christmas. I sent but a single e-mail message with explicitly Christmas content.

I did enjoy the relaxed company of friends in South East Nowhere. We all brought food so that we could cook together, we raised a glass or two in good cheer, and won £51 on scratch cards.

Merry Christmas, everybody!

Saturday, December 23, 2006

Interesting times

Is it weird to have a pint with a tourist when the only connection you have is that you used to date that person's daughter?


Thursday, December 21, 2006

Search and you will find?

It's always entertaining to see other people's searches out of context. I even get a chuckle looking through my own history, sometimes — I can't always remember the story behind a particular search term. For instance, flaccid meat might confuse me until I remembered that was the production team behind the film Puppy Love.

In stark contrast, I can think of no reasonable explanation for some of the search terms that The General Public use to find my blog. Here are some of the more disturbing:

  • christmas party "secret squirrel"
  • "burger fuel" cocaine (Where a combo comes with fries and coke?)
  • Scandinavian boys comics
  • Dehumanisation in rhinoceros
  • kellogs tiger power places sold
  • secret santa verses (Jolly laughter, recorded backwards)
  • Hunter - Sexy photos

I suppose that last one might be looking for Rachael Hunter. I hope so; otherwise, I may have a stalker. I still don't have any chloroform videos. You'll have to go to the Wildebeest Asylum for those. (Right, Jon?)

Sense of smell and taste

New Scientist magazine (and a bunch of others) report that blindfolded students can follow their nose and track a chocolate rope through the grass. Not as good as a dog, but they improved with training. (Dogs have had their whole lives to practice.)

I seriously think that London has damaged my senses. I think that's one reason the food never really excites me here. There are tastes and scents I used to find delicious, but now I now can barely notice the flavour.

It's probably a coping technique, a dampening filter so that I don't go choke on the bad smells. There's the smoke in pubs, which sticks to your clothes. There's the exhaust fumes from underground trains which stick to the station walls and the inside of your nose. The traffic probably doesn't help either, but it's not as noticeable.

It's good to see evidence that I'll probably get it back, though — one guy found that boot camp sorted out his nose to the point where he could locate women by smell. Creepy, but reassuring.

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Is it too early for New Year's Resolutions?

I've been home for two days and spent most of that time Not Writing. I've noticed that I haven't been in the mental state called flow very much, and I've not really started appreciating my newfound freedom. (I have, however, read a lot of interesting-but-useless material on the internet.)

I think the main reason for this pattern of reading instead of doing is that I've lapsed into the problem of Continuous Partial Attention. I don't want to miss anything, so I never concentrate on anything too in-depth.

Tomorrow, I'm not going to check my e-mail, or my blog monitor, or even my cellphone — except at specific times of the day. Break times, if you will.

You'll know it worked if there's more to read here this time tomorrow.

Friday, December 08, 2006

Art, language, society, weather

There's a wonderful new place on Oxford Street, opposite the enormous Freddie Mercury. I'm not sure my new discovery has a name, or even what it is — it's like a gang of street artists broke into an unused retail space and covered it with subversive creations like Santa's Ghetto and the Heinz Beans Looter.

If you're in the area, do check it out (before they get busted?).

Also in the area, I had my first language swap with some friends I met through work (one German, one Polish). We managed to thoroughly disturb the whole coffee shop practicing the difference between the shh sound of of Polish s and the ssh sound of Polish ś. Slavic languages sure have a whole lot of different whooshing and hissing noises; my poor English ears can only begin to discern them!

Some fellow tube passengers noticed my copy of GQ Magazine in German and we actually struck up a friendly conversation. This may not seem noteworthy unless you're familiar with the mandatory surliness rules for London transport. To be fair, the conversation did take a turn for the worse when they discovered my vegetarian tendencies. They seemed to consider it a kind of frightening disability, on par with losing one's legs or waking up deaf.

Also, a tornado caused some grief a couple of kilometers from my house. My own roof appears to be intact!

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Tuesday, December 05, 2006

I wanted to play the piano accordion

If you don't have a song stuck in your head at the moment, it's probably best not to watch a quirky music video from Jason Webley. It'll only end in tears.

Update: Apparently that site has pop-ups that I can't see, but the direct YouTube link doesn't.

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