February 20, 2006

Luges, strange ducks and so much more…

Well, my housemates eventually arrived back from China. Housemate 1 arrived on Tuesday, armed with 3 packets of sausages (allegedly a speciality from Harbin), some blue eggs (ah, so that's how bird flu is transported) various wok-like equipment, a toilet seat cover, an umbrella to cover rice with (I don't really see the point of this, but it's obviously fundamental to the rice-cooking process) and a Chinese computer game with an extremely annoying soundtrack. Oh, and I forgot to mention the new hotplate. This will definitely come in handy next time I feel the urge to boil up some bones…

Housemate 2 should have arrived on Tuesday as well, but he contrived to miss his flight and did not materialise until yesterday. He was momentarily spotted in the lounge wearing a dressing gown, but this has been the only sighting to date, as he then slept for the rest of the evening. I'm not yet sure what goodies he brought with him, but there is an ominously large suitcase in the lounge waiting to be unpacked. I will shortly be welcoming both of my housemates back by getting them to reimburse me for the substantial amounts of money spent on gas bills, electricity bills and a new TV license whilst they were away.

Whilst my housemates have been away, I have been watching the Winter Olympics. I have to say that the Winter Olympics don't really compare with the summer version for excitement. There's little direct racing and its mainly about beating the times of other competitors. Also, most sports seem to consist to slithering across slippery surfaces attached to various contraptions, which can get a bit repetitive.

However, in spite of these reservations, the fact remains that it's not every day you get to watch the pairs luge or the skeleton bobsleigh, and I admit I've got slightly addicted. I'm afraid I still don't see the attraction of curling, even though Britain are mildly good at it – whatever anyone says, it does seem to involve throwing stones and brushing ice, along with some devious tactical manoevres that I cannot quite understand. I do like the figure skating, though, although the judging criteria is beyond me. I was under the impression that if you managed to skate for 5 minutes without your bottom coming into contact with the ice then you had done a pretty good job, but apparently more is required. Certainly some of the men on Thursday let themselves down by performing only double axels rather than triples, which was obviously disgraceful. I am hoping that by the time the Olympics are over I will be able to distinguish a triple axel from a double toe-loop (though probably not perform one), but perhaps this is asking too much.

Even more exciting than the Winter Olympics (yes, really), I spotted a strange duck in the lake on campus. It has a red bit at the base of its beak, a white neck, and some grey and brown splodges, I forget how arranged. I'm not sure why I am imparting this fascinating information, but maybe there are people who know more about birds than I do who would like to have a look. Or maybe other people have more important things to do with their time…

Just to ensure that this entry is in keeping with the general dissatisfied tone of the rest of this blog, I also wish to add another email related grumble. I have been trying to access my email without notable success over the past 3 days, but have been unable to do so – firstly because 'my mailbox was unavailable', secondly because 'my login was not current' and thirdly because the system was 'unable to communicate with the groupwise agent. I am still debating whether my login not being current is better or worse than my mailbox being unavailable, and therefore represents progress. I suspect, however, that IT services just alternate their little red messages in order to give the illusion that they are doing something. Oh well.

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