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November 2nd 2008
Hey y'all. I spent a few hours yesterday putting together a video on Windows Movie Maker, my third such (after Montenegro and Tea), this one entitled Number 67. It's a reminiscence of my two years living at 67 Westwood Road, Earlsdon, and I've used almost every picture from the house that I managed to find. It stars Iain, Ant, Rich, Dave, Tom and me, with appearances from luminaries such as Simon, Rob, Becky, Christine and - blink and you'll miss 'em - Steve, Lucy and more. Anyways, I had fun putting it together, and if you fancy seeing what I got up to back in the old days, check it out below (if you're a Facebook friend of mine, there's a better quality version on there). The music is taken from The Captain and the Kid by Elton John.

November 8th 2008
Thank you to those of you who passed on your birthday wishes to me yesterday, as I turned 23. Still just about early twenties, I reckon, though there are those who would claim it's mid-twenties territory... as ever, I shared my birthday to a certain extent, since David at work is another 7th November man, and he's on the team next to me. Add him to Simon (of course), Becky and Phil. While I'm doling out thanks, I'd also like to thank folks for their kind comments regarding last time's video - I was pleased with how it turned out, so I'm glad that others enjoyed it too.Barack Obama
You'll notice that I'm reading Barack Obama's book (his second, I believe, after Dreams from my Father), which I bought while in Edinburgh this week. I didn't stay up to watch many of the election results - only the first two states - but as I read the Times overview on the following day, I got more and more excited by the new President-elect, which is why I bought the man's book. It is taken as read that he is (going to be) the most powerful man in the world, but in his case he could well be the most powrful man in decades, not just because USA is a superpower, but because his actions will shape a generation's views. If he's a lousy president, where will that leave the struggle against racism?
Apparently about 25% of US voters said that race was a factor in their vote - since Obama got 96% of the black vote, this seems unlikely - and I would have to admit that, were I an American voter, I would have been with them. It is definedly racist to vote for someone because they're black, but I think I would have leant that way, since Obama is far more than the sum of his policies. He is a symbol. While that may cheapen the office of President, it is nonetheless true that, after the century we've just had, not to mention the one before that, a black President is beautifully, wonderfully incredible. I'm young, I don't have the memories that others do, but having read the likes of To Kill a Mockingbird, or William Wilberforce's biography, I can glimpse how far we've come. The US of 2008 has answered the question 'Can you really have a black man in the White House?' with Obama's campaign slogan: 'Yes we can'.
Racism is not, of course, over. Indeed, the furore over a black President shows just how far we have still to go; racism will only have been defeated when the leader's colour is as much an issue as his favourite basketball team, when the 'black vote' and the 'white vote' do not differ massively. But the USA has done itself proud.
Where, then, the UK? We are some steps behind, with 15 'minority' MPs, and none particularly high up (I can only think of Paul Boateng, and I'd rather not). 'Positive discrimination' is not the way to go - while I would have voted for the symbolism of Obama, it would have meant nothing if white candidates hadn't been allowed to stand against him - but it is shaming to compare our House with the US Senate.
In some ways, Obama is like Tony Blair in representing youth - Obama is 47, which is young in political circles, while Blair was 43 when he came to power - and I guess there is a US version of Cool Britannia surrounding the man. The difference may be that the British are always ready to be cynical, ready to attack our MPs on the thinnest of grounds and with the meanest of understanding of what they're actually doing. Highly uninformed masses force the resignations of our representatives for minor offences, or (usually) for things that aren't actually offences at all (if anyone can explain to me what George Osborne has done wrong, please let me know), and there is an underlying belief that all politicians are untrustworthy, lazy and out of touch. I think our American cousins are readier to believe in somone, and while this can often lead to cringe-worthy (by the bye, I find the term 'cringe-worthy' quite cringe-worthy) outbursts of rhetoric, it should mean that Obama gets more than an even break when he takes office. Here's to the next eight years.

November 9th 2008
I'm a man of simple tastes, but I do boast an extensive shoe collection. You may not have thought it of someone with my gender and distaste for fashion, but I own no fewer than 6 pairs of footwear. First off, work shoes (formerly known as school shoes), which - I think you'll agree - are a must for someone in a full-time office job. Then there are trainers, which used to be pretty optional, but since I've taken up squash they've proved invaluable, and I had to buy a new pair a few weeks ago, after discovering (while on a log flume) large holes in my last pair. Completing the triumverate of necessities are my slippers, also replaced of late, which I simply will not do without - and I'm not talking about those silly mule things that leave half your foot freezing. Proper slippers are a must. I also have walking boots, which (if I remember rightly) I bought before hitch-hiking to Scotland... though it may have been in advance of some walking holiday or other. Anyhow, I tend to wear them rather more than you'd expect with walking boots, since I feel they blend in well enough to be multi-purpose (and, for a while, they were my only non-work shoes that wouldn't leave my feet soaking wet). I bought myself some sandals - two sizes too small, since the bigger ones slipped around too much - before heading out to Montenegro, and they certainly come in useful when I've run out of socks. Rounding off my shoe collection are 'brown shoes', and I'm not really sure of the purpose of them - I guess they fit the bill when you want smart shoes that will still go with casual clothing... these I replaced last week, since I discovered my previous pair were letting in quite ridiculous levels of water in Edinburgh: after my third left sock of the day, and with a plastic bag round my foot, I decided that a new pair was in order.
So, there you have it, my six pairs. And that's not counting the curious blue surfing-type shoes I bought once in Cornwall and still dig out from time to time. Why have I told you about my shoes, you may be wondering? (Is that a good place for a question mark? I think probably not, but the sentence looked bereft without one). Well, no reason. Not all these entries can be winners.
what was I listening to?
Oh Mercy - Bob Dylan
what was I reading?
The Time Traveller's Wife - Audrey Niffenegger
what was I watching?
Emma
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