Tuesday, January 27, 2009

The joy of shopping

I went to Asda.

On my own.

In my car.

The DVLA has still not managed to send my licence back to me but I'm allowed to drive under section 88 of the Road Traffic Act 1988.

So I went to the supermarket.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Sunday, January 11, 2009

What have the Babylonians ever done for us?

Listening to More or Less on Radio 4, I learnt about the Babylonian's contribution to our maths.  Apart from our systems for time and angles (they worked in base 60), they also had a big impact on our calendar.

Babylonians were big on phases of the moon and worked in 28 day months, broken down into 7 day weeks.  They believed that the 7th day of each week was dangerous so it was best to stay at home.  It is believed that this had a big impact on the Israelites while they were with the Babylonians, so this 7 day cycle got written into the Genesis creation story.

So, what have the Babylonians ever done for us?  Sundays off!

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Not adding up

The government are planning to subsidise internships for new graduates struggling to find work due to the credit crunch.  Graduates will be given work experience by large companies in order to gain skills and experience, and in return will receive a 'pay deal' slightly above the current grant rate of £2835 to ensure they don't suffer a cut in income.  This sounds like an interesting plan but not thought through.

Students live on a combination of grants and loans, but many also work - both part time jobs and working for four months or so in the summer.  Without that extra income, they would struggle to survive.

And that's living as a student.  As students, my friends and I revelled in our cheap lifestyle - one of our favourite nights out was 'Free to Dance' at the student union.  It was free.  We danced.  And we drank tap water from behind the bar.  Being poor is part of student culture.  Working requires some money - for clothes for work, and transport to and from work.  It's not cheap.

And then, why would you anyway?  I know jobs are scarce, but if I had a choice between work experience at under £3000 and a normal job at around £12000, I know what I would choose.  In some ways I regret not experiencing a graduate job, but I've started in an entry-level job, using some of the skills I got while I was a student, and am working my way up through my career - and getting more than £3000 a year.

I just don't see this taking off. 

Thursday, January 08, 2009

Ethics and economics

We've had most of our rewiring done.  We need all the holes filling in with plaster.  We've had a few plasters round to look at it.  We've had a resounding lack of quotes.  We've still got some more recommendations to try.  But it's a bit depressing - all I want is someone to come and make my house whole again.

We've also had a  few recommendations of people who will come and do the job for us, if we give them some money.  No receipt, no VAT.  I believe in getting a proper job done, I believe in getting a receipt for the work I've paid for, I believe in paying VAT (particularly now there's 2.5 % less of it to pay!) and I also think that if I pay tax on what I earn, probably everyone else should too.

But I can understand why maybe not many plasterers do, if that is the case.  If  you have to charge an extra 15% for VAT and whatever you're going to lose in various income and other taxes, you're not going to be very competitive.  Which means you're less likely to survive.

I don't want to employ a plasterer cash-in-hand - I don't agree with it.  But if the alternative is living in a house with big gaps in the plaster, or doing the work myself, I'm not sure what I'll end up doing.

Monday, January 05, 2009

Hallelujah. Again.

Driving home yesterday afternoon, we listened to the top 40 on Radio 1.  As 'Hallelujah' is still no. 1, I listened to it all the way through for the first time.  I have three specific complaints about it:
  1. It's overdone.  The music and the lyrics have enough emotion.  You don't need to emphasise every word.  And - I don't really know enough technical music language to describe this really - the amount of build up around "a cold and broken hallelujah" really makes me think she just doesn't get it.
  2. What is the deal with a backing choir?  This is a song about being on your own, not about having a full gospel choir to keep you company at all times.
  3. She missed a verse.  Yes, just missed out a whole verse.
I would rather this cover had got to no. 1.  At least it does something different with it which isn't just 'making it worse'.  And it's funny.

It's January 5th and I have to go back to work.  I'm not sure whether 'll get used to this.