Friday, February 24, 2012

The saga of the apartment block

I’ve mentioned before our increased concern about apartment living. It seems that in England you can run a business from your apartment and put whatever random little garden knick knacks into the communal hallways. Sounds crazy to an American, right? Yup, thought so.

We own these flats, just as we would a condo in Florida, but the difference is that in Florida we were never allowed to have anything in the breezeways because of fire or tripping hazards. Also, the idea of openly running your beauty salon in an apartment or condo would be flat out illegal.  There would be fines and fees and licenses and zoning restrictions and any number of regulations that would keep a home a home and a business a business.

Sadly, once we realized that we are living four feet from such a business, we immediately contacted our overseers.  Much to our surprise, the reaction was very blasé – “The hallways are communal.  Everyone can use them to put anything they want in them.”  Huh? This lady has left her brochures outside that have price lists for group beauty treatments that cost thousands of dollars. She has people coming in and out of that place all the time, messing around the hallway all day, yet we’re told, “she’s might just be a social person.” Um, no. These are clients.

When we contacted the City Council about the fact that a beauty salon is being run in the apartment  the reaction was, “Oh, that’s fine as long as she doesn’t have ten people coming over each day.”  What?  What kind of rule is that?

Weekly we hear more and more people coming and go, being chatted to in the hallway (remember this whole block is enclosed so we hear/see/smell everything in everyone else’s flat.") There are new plants, pictures, vases, chairs, rugs, signs, mirrors, statues, random garden junk, etc. every time we turn around. The other night we discovered that the neighbour put a magazine rack in the entryway to the block so her clients can wait outside our door in the waiting room. Oh yeah, there’s a waiting room outside of our front door.  I come home and some random stranger is just sitting in a little cutesy heart-shaped chair. Freaky.

And we don’t have a say over this.  We contacted the overseer again this week and got the same kind of, “Well, this doesn’t seem like a big deal – just a difference in tastes regarding decoration. No fire hazard or cause for a fuss,” response. It seemed like we were making a mountain out of a molehill when, really, if anyone saw what was going on would be just as shocked as we are.

So by not having any rights to keep someone from taking over the whole block of flats with her beauty salon, we’re going to have to deal with it until we’re able to move out in the future. For now we’re going to have to think up some ways to take a stand without causing some full blown neighbourhood war.

Some days I wish the kids who threw the drunk parties lived upstairs again. They would handle that like they did the back door – with a swift kick to break the whole thing down.

The bottom line is, it’s just frustrating. I can’t find work so we can’t find a nice, quiet house to live in, so we have to sit here and put up with the Mary Kay Headquarters in our face. It’s really surprising too that as civilized as the British people are, that someone would have the audacity to disrespect their neighbours that much and have rights to protect them to do such a thing. I mean what would a neighbour have to do for someone to finally step in and say, “You can’t do that?”

Friday, February 17, 2012

Resolutions are for every day

I don’t know about the rest of you, but I’ve about completely disregarded my New Year’s resolutions already. January had a rough start and I was glad to have it over with.  Now that February is here, I enjoyed Valentine’s Day and the threat of snow being a little bit further out of our minds.

On Valentine’s Day, Steve made a steak dinner that we bought at M&S – scallops as a starter, steak and chips for the main course, and hot chocolate raspberry tarts for dessert. It was only £20 plus champagne and chocolates. Very nice. I got my owl print blouse and I bought Steve the candy. That worked out much better even though those Thorntons coffee chocolates are all mine.

But as far as doing all these things I really planned on doing on January 1st, I am just over trying to do everything every day.  I don’t do my 365 photo project now - occasionally I think to do it but even though I pretty much do take a picture every day it’s never poignant enough to post to a special project. I still read and write and edit but I do it as the time is right. I know we should never do things only when we feel like it but, man, this editing is not all it’s cracked up to be. (Yes, I’m still plodding through my NaNoWriMo project.)

And these are goals for each day, just as eating right and exercising is. But on days, like today, I was just not interested in walking to the gym. Routines are fine but they’re way boring really quickly so without a break or change, I’ll resent it more and more.  It’s still too cold to feel like swimming yet but I really do miss it.  Soon enough I’m going to have to make myself pack my gear and jump into that pool even if the babies and aquafit members are having class. 

Per the image above, as I’ve mentioned online, our shower is broken. It has a really low water pressure flow with hot water so it gets chilly in there really quick. You can get clean but it’s not enjoyable at all.  I’d rather take baths every night until the silly thing gets fixed (which is supposedly going to happen on Monday afternoon.) It just makes things a little difficult but we have it way easier than some, I know.

So while I’m handling life at home, I’m always trying to reach some kind of goal each day (hence my blog post tonight.) I have researching to do, book reviews to write, and books to finish (I’m almost done with Catching Fire – wow, this series is amazing. Made me realize that I do like science fiction books.) And these things are manageable if they work themselves in at some point during the day. I read before bed, walk at the mall, take notes on my phone while sitting on the couch as Steve plays Skyrim, etc. It’s good and I know I’ll get my goals accomplished. I guess the key is to tackle things in little chunks rather than trying to create a whole new task system for every day that you know darn well won’t work – at least not for me.

Friday, February 10, 2012

Are you kidding me?

Article: Dad Shoots Daughter’s Laptop Over Facebook Post [VIDEO]

A lot of people were posting this video with “way to go, Dad” and saying how great it was. I didn’t bother watching until today and after listening to him for five minutes, I turned it off. It wasn’t until I did a search about reactions to the video that I realized that he shot his daughter’s laptop.

Are you kidding me?

So while, yes, I understand the Dad is angry (I watch Supernanny too, you know?) I was just absolutely appalled by how completely frightening this whole video is.

My comments for the Dad shooting the laptop video:

Guns do not solve problems. What are you teaching your daughter? If something goes wrong you destroy it? Our gun laws are being abused by people like this who are trigger happy. If your daughter doesn’t bring the car home on time will you shoot it too?  If she doesn’t clean the kitchen counters, will you shoot them?

Better yet, how do you want her to handle situations that anger her in the future? With a gun?

The Dad works in IT yet he just randomly destroys an expensive piece of hardware? Just take out the hard drive? Hide it. Sell it. Don’t shoot it six times, dingus.

The computer had $130 worth of software on it for school right? Now this kid has no computer for school to do homework, correct? Very good plan. Off to the grocery store she goes to take out her anger on the customers for 50 years. Oh, better yet, she’ll have learned that guns stop the anger so she’ll go postal eventually. Thanks, scary gun-toting Dad!

How scary and humiliating must this be for the daughter (and his new/old wife – I’m sure someone could address this in the guidance counsellor's office) for everyone in the world to know that her father is more concerned with the kid doing things for them at the house then her education? He even uses a gun to prove it. (I like the commenter who asked if his wife had left after the broadcast of this video. A lot of women probably would.) Tough love is fine. Take her computer away from her and ground her. Give her more chores, whatever. But using a violent weapon to prove your point? Disgraceful.

There are computers with Facebook at the library, on phones, on friend’s computers, etc. All you did was take the problem out of the house where you can’t monitor it.

I seriously hope this guy deals with the situation a little more tactfully from here on out.  You can hear it in his voice and most viewers can only imagine how he harps on this kid constantly to do chores, get a job, and how they had it so much worse when they were young. Most teenagers go through a bratty stage but, seriously, what have you helped the situation by invaded her privacy, her confidence, her self esteem and her trust? It seems completely brutish and aggressive and I’m sure that kid deals with that every day when she gets home from school.

At fifteen, this kid could have been doing a lot worse and let’s hope this video doesn’t make her want to be even more rebellious, run away, or start using drugs just to get back at this scary Dad with a pistol. I’ve taught kids who didn’t have anyone to care about them or what they did at home but, yeah, this is just going way too far with the gun and the public humiliation. Plus, he did this to show that all her “little friends” will see what happens when you say bad things about your parents. Why is he so worried about what the kids online think of him? Most of those kids probably don’t have to worry about their father holding a pistol when they get home.

I know a lot of people won’t agree with me. They’ll say this dad had just had enough and needed something to stop his kid’s backtalk and insolence. Fine. If it weren’t for the gun, I could have maybe understood that he just wanted to teach the kid a lesson. I’m not even going to post this to Facebook because tons of people have posted this video saying how it’s great that the Dad did this. I’m not looking for argument, I’m just posting another viewpoint to this whole situation. (And to vent.)

Monday, February 6, 2012

Football and other revelations

Just saw the Super Bowl last night (well, most of it) and think we've almost figured out how the rules work. I just like being part of the fun even if we went to bed before the game was over. (And by the way, thank you all on Facebook for letting me know who won when I checked my phone this morning.)

From my discussion of the fiasco that is my job search, I’ve come to a final conclusion  - I'm giving up on the public schools. I graduated in 2003 and it's been nothing but an uphill battle no matter what teaching job I tried to get or hold on to. This is why I chose librarianship to begin with - having to teach to a test without any real inspiring or using literary and research skills is really not rewarding for me. (Especially when the main task of my job was to babysit kids.)

I recently spoke to the TDA who said I could ask for volunteer work on local schools to see if a head master will maybe be willing to employ me in the future so I can get my QTS. Newcastle University said before I apply for their PGCE program I have to have as much experience in the UK classroom as possible so most public schools will let me work for free if I'm going to apply for such a program.

Again, my experience and education mean nothing to potential employers. You either have QTS or you don't. I can see volunteering would be okay for a short while but if the college wants to to have as much experience on the UK as possible, how can I even be sure that after their whole admissions interview process that they would chose my 40 hours when some other applicants may have years of experience as a volunteer or sub? Then how's that going to be worth my effort?

If it were part of the college program, I could understand that too but it's not. Especially when this program is for post graduates who will be trained in schools. If the competition is this high too (only two local colleges - as well as select colleges with specific program subjects nationwide - offer this PGCE teacher training program) how can I even be sure anything I did was enough for them? If it's this hard to get in and they have a limited number of seats (and a second limit to international students) then it's honestly not worth the effort. The outrageous tuition prices have to be considered too after all this potential effort.

So with that final acceptance and understanding that I really do need to stop trying to make this career as an educator happen, I feel much relief. I can apply for jobs just as I normally would until something finally pops up.  Granted, it’s disheartening and frustrating to not have extra money for anything but there’s nothing I can really do about it. I’ll work on my projects at home and wait things out.

As I’m waiting things out, I see that the little bit of snow we had last week has already melted. We had a lovely little snow flurry on Saturday so we headed out after Tesco delivered the groceries (plus point for the UK – food is delivered in bulk). By the time we had left the Metrocentre (one of my favourite places ever) to IKEA, the snow had turned to freezing rain. As we waited on the taxi cab with Torkel (whom I am sitting in right now), it was snowing again. It was quite nice to drink Swedish coffee and watch the snow fall even if it only lasted for a few minutes and started just being ice again.

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