26 June 2006

The Italian team are dirty fecking cheats

That was a dive. No doubt about it. Grosso is a fecking cheat. That was not a fair end to the game.

I hate teams that progress by cheating. It turns me off, watching the beautiful game ruined by these CHEATS! They did not deserve the penalty. They did not deserve to win. They do not deserve to be in the quarter-finals. I'd even like to propose a ban on Italy for the nest World Cup. This kind of desperate attempt in a game they clearly could not win is ugly and puts the game in bad repute. FIFA needs to come down harder on such teams. Especially if the referee fails to make the correct decision on the pitch.

What's the point of having a referee and two linsemen if their eyes aren't open? This incident proves that football *needs* a fourth official, like the replay officials in rugby and cricket. Who knows what the referee was thinking... Perhaps he was trying to make up for his bad decision in sending off the alleged "last man".

This World Cup is turning out to be the worst in terms of refereeing decisions. The referees have been put under immense pressure to come down hard on foul play. But some have been excessively harsh, yet some turn a blind eye. Lack of consistency makes it unfair on teams. And many of the referees look out of their depth, either lacking competency or just feeling the heat (literally and figuratively). The end result, whatever reason for the bad refereeing: ruined football.

What makes me even more mad is that the ESPN commentators here are saying the penalty was deserved, and in fact, was even "good play". I don't think American soccer players, coaches and analysts *get* the point of football. They think that hard, professional fouls are a necessity if the other team looks threatening. They think diving is good tactics. (Or maybe it's just that the clueless ESPN commentators are total fuckwits. Don't wish to tar all Americans with the same *dirty* brush.)

Technorati tags: , .

17 June 2006


Of their graduate lives...

It's graduation weekend at UCLA. And what a difference it is from the more sedate ceremonies at Edinburgh. A vast class of over 2000 students "walked" yesterday in UCLA's basketball stadium to lots of cheers and wolf-whistles. It was a little more like a basketball game than what I've been through. The various Deans' names were broadcast on the central bank ot TV screens (think NBA games), with cuts to the odd pretty face in the crowd of candidates for graduation.

Due to the sheer numbers, the different faculties were conferred their degrees in mass-wedding style, standing with their peers to be declared graduates of UCLA, followed by popping of balloons, tossing of tortillas (dunno what that was all about, and the odd thrown toilet roll). Slap-dash as that may sound, more ceremonies have been planned for this weekend for individual majors.

In all, a fun and interesting cultural experience.

09 June 2006

Fitba, US-stylee

Had a glorious morning off watching the opening ceremony and first game of the 2006 World Cup. (Paid the price by having to work till late tonight; but it was worth it!)

Strangely enough, none of the "sports" channels had coverage of the opening ceremony. Instead, it was up to KXLA, the local Korean news and entertainment channel, to broadcast the feed. It's rather surprising that, apart from a few ads on Focks Soccer Channel, there hasn't been much mainstream enthusiasm for a World Cup that features the national team.

Heck, when Scotland occasionally qualifies, all work stops for the duration of the first round (and recommences when bloody England are yet again the only home country to qualify for round two). Yet the only excited folk in my lab and its vicinity are the foreigners. No one else seems aware that a major sports competition, with an audience close to that of the Olympics, kicked off this morning.

The game itself was pretty exciting; 6 goals being abnormally heart-racing for an opener, let alone one that included Germany, the Audi of football. Perhaps their poor qualifier efforts was enough of a kick up their backsides to up their game. Even so, that's got to be the most appalling German defence in a long time.

And while I didn't catch the Poland game, it'll be a fun World Cup if such "upsets" occur with more frequency. Perhaps my personal favourite underdogs: Trinidad and Tobago, will manage to win a match too. Just not against Ingerland.

02 June 2006

And you wonder why I'm not happy here...

Further kick in teeth: I am, as of yesterday, not an official employee of the university. My contract expired, and I fell through the cracks. I am persona non grata.

So while I'm still expected to work all hours, I cannot access my lab out-of-hours or on weekends. Ah ha ha ha. I will not get paid this month. Again. (I didn't get paid for three months when I first arrived because everyone was too busy and overworked to put me in the system. Not that a foreigner spending a small fortune to pack and store her entire life, fly herself to a new country and pay several months' rent upfront in LA needs any money...)

Will the constant insults never end?

01 June 2006

Today, the self-pity must end

Umm... What to say? A few moments here for self-centered cathartic self-pity. Normal business will resume shortly.

It's been a few months since I felt inspired enough to write or cook anything. It's no big surprise that the last few months have been tough for me. While having P in LA makes my life better, it's been a pretty poor excuse for a life at all. (I know here that our lives are nowhere near as difficult as quite a lot of folk, but I mean relative to the life we had in Edinburgh.) Work, though stimulating at times, has become a drag. The excitement and challenge of working in a new lab was quickly replaced by the drudgery all things wrong with modern working life. The rose-tinted glasses came off long ago, but I had not personally worked in "difficult" work environments before.

[Mid-August, 2006. Self-censorship here. I've just realised that I've made one or two fatal errors and may not be able to keep colleagues past and present from coming across this blog. It's the considered opinion of some that blogs are the lowest form of expression on earth. So I may be safe. But I may have made things far too obvious in this paragraph to those in the know. And breached common decency. The things I said should probably have been reworded and said to face(s) of folk who make my life miserable. But something tells me that would make it difficult for me to continue working in my lab. Either way. I must break all unwritten blogging rules and remove my words.]

Even without the work-related miseries, life here hasn't been all that fun. We've been to the beach a grand total of 5 times since P arrived (OK, it's winter. Even so!). And every attempt to explore LA at the weekends has been thwarted by traffic, work, the buses, work, protests, inertia, work... If it's not P that has to work on weekends, it's me.

In short, we're not as happy here as we were in Edinburgh. Sure, Edinburgh had it's problems too, namely the weather. But there, we could get away. Work, while hard, was made bearable by our peers and colleagues. There we also had friends. Here in LA, without the social life of our respective labs and our kind neighbours, we'd be lost. In Edinburgh, there was the build-up of acquired friends from having a past in the city. Here, as newcomers, without some hobby or way to socialize, it's lonely. And while we have dinner with the neighbours and their friends, we still feel a little out of it as obscure scientists. Fellow scientists outside of the lab are hard to meet with the crazy work schedules everyone sets out for themselves.

The end result is a couple of very unhappy postdocs in LA. Even with the constant sunshine, I've had SAD all winter long. Even though I love my science and working in an environment where I have plenty of friendly and helpful collaborators, I've started job hunting again. Even though we've got a mini-garden growing on out north-facing patio, we're looking for new apartments in a quieter neighbourhood. All because I stupidly accepted a job without first vetting the lab and its location. (Not that it would have solved my current problems.)

But summer's here. My strawberry plants are bearing fruit again. Our families have been and will be visiting. We've seen the Grand Canyon and the touristy northern part of Arizona. And we have good wine on the rack.

Things are looking up. Expect more blogging.