What's unhealthy about
it? Sometimes these things must be discussed, no matter how unpleasant
it is. I am interested in your relationship with Artyom. Does he
want to go back to Russia, now that his mom has died?
Does he hate
you/resent you? I'm really curious.
he went back to Russia they would put him in the army. No he is totally
British, Russia is long behind him, he wants to be here, but among students,
not in this industrial/agricultural town. Discussion I would welcome,
but he won't discuss anything. If he hates or resents me he doesn't show
it, he just wants to do his own thing, ie sleeping, going out or playing
The confrontation is unhealthy because we have
reached a stalemate. The sanctions in place are not having any
effect. A month ago I told him I would not cook his tea until he wrote
down for me his opinions on how we should live together. I haven't
cooked for him since. He has cleaned out all the reserves of convenience
foods that I kept for emergencies, and I won't buy any more. We don't
talk any more because I've given up trying wake him up or to get him to work,
and he is mostly either asleep or out when I am here and awake, and if he is
awake he stays in his room.
How does he finance his
going out? Are you giving him *any* money now?
He has odds and ends. I was paying him £120/month
'pocket money', and while he won't get any more, the last one hasn't run out
yet (in theory anyway). He got his breakage deposit back from his
university accomodation. He has even worked a couple of casual shifts
shifting newspapers at the press. That pays him about 2/3 of what I was
paying him, but he doesn't have to repay debts out of it, so he sees that as
preferable. And then he borrows from his mates. Or he just goes to
his mates' houses and listens to CDs or watches videos
Oh, well. Too bad
he has friends. :)
Yes, it means he then comes to me "Can I have £50 to pay
back Paul". "No, you have to tell me what you are spending it on, not
who advanced the money." "Oh, this & that, you know." "That's
not good enough!".
I don't envy you your
relationship with Artyom. What a royal pain in the pratt. I so
remember being so feckless and pathetic. Sadly, though I remember it, I
don't know what to do for it. When I was working with homeless street
kids in Honolulu, I was able to manipulate them into doing things like going
back to school with shameless appeals to their pride and emotions, but I don't
know if it would work for Artyom. Somehow, "Eh, brah, you gotta show
all da haole dat da HA-waiian people cannot be kept down" is not going to work
for him. Does he feel oppressed, she asked hopefully?
I don't think so, except as regards the difficulty of
getting a well paid job without first getting any qualifications or doing
anything to compete for it.
Oh, well, I have
that problem. I've been trying to get hired as a hospital administrator
for years but insist on not getting an MBA.
Its not all hopeless. He does try from time to
time, but he loses interest much too easily. I'm sure he'll do something
As soon as his first
friend graduates from college, walks into a well-paying job, and wants
nothing more to do with him, he'll snap out of it.
Unfortunately most of his friends are worse, and
couldn't walk into a brick wall placed in front of them, but yes I do look
forward to that.
I was pretty aimless in
college, which is why my undergraduate degree is in history. Even
then, a peek at my transcript reveals a seriously confused young
woman. Fortunately, I had seven years of marriage to a much older man
to make me grow up. I suppose this is not an option for
I don't think he's into older men. Or older
women. Or even 3-dimensional women. His exploits in that area
seem to be restricted to magazines. He dreams of Ferraris and women,
but can't even pass his driving test... I guess I was pretty much
like that, although I did have the odd girlfriend by that age, I was still a
virgin till I was 25. !!! I am *such* a slut. And I did pass my driving
test in 6 months.
Wow! I thought all teenage boys could
drive. What's the deal there?
Well we paid for lessons for him twice a week for
most of a year after he reached the legal minimum age of 17, but he still
failed his test twice, and then we had other expenses to worry about (like
an 18th birthday party) and had to stop it. Unlike in my day, it is
not so easy for a learner driver to get practice, especially because I
drive a big van which would be quite unsuitable for learning even if I
could insure it for him.
Huh. I was in Texas my first two years of
high school, and in Texas kids can drive without licenses on private
property. There are no
restrictions on driving on private property here but not many people
have a big enough or flat enough piece of private property to be worth
driving on. Several of my friends lived on farms, and so I
learned to drive across country, in rattletrap old pickup trucks.
We took driver's education my second year in high school, which was held
in a hilarous car simulator that smelled of ancient body odor. We
could get learner's permits to drive on roads at 15 and six months, and
I did, and then we could try for our licenses at 16. Which I
did. My father bought a horrible used baby-blue Oldmobile Royale
with baby blue crushed velvet seats for my brother and I to share.
It was approximately the size of the Queen Mary. It was impossible
to parallel park... I don't know how I managed to pass my drivers'
license test. But I did.
My dad also made us learn things,
like how to check the oil, how to change the oil, how to refill all that
needs refilling, how to change tires, and my least favorite, what to do
when the car loses all power. I resented this for years. He
had me drive down Central Expressway at 80 miles an hour and then yanked
the key out of the ignition. Surprise! in a car with power
everything, that causes bad things to happen. He didn't tell me
that he was going to do that. Me yipping and him bellowing
instructions... it was most unpleasant.
They used to reckon you needed a lesson for every
year of your age. Its more than that now, but he went well beyond
that and still couldn't do it.
We weren't in a position to buy him a
car, Lyudmila always had plans for any money I earned and I wouldn't
anyway. I didn't fancy doing the driving instructor bit
anyway. I've tried teaching friends before and it plays havoc with
As a student a car is something of an embarrasment
anyway because parking is expensive and hard to get around the
universities. If I didn't use my van for work, I wouldn't really
need a car for myself, most things are in easy walking distance, and
public transport is not that bad. Oh, yeah. I loved that about England. It was
really good in Honolulu, too, but it isn't here, now that I'm in Seattle.
The only hassle would be fetching stuff from the
supermarket, it gets heavy on a bus. We did it for three months
after the van was stolen, until the insurance finally coughed up.
When I spent
lots of time in Essex and Leeds, we went to the store every day, as the
refrigerator was tiny. Do people have big, American-sized
refrigerators now? Perhaps bigger than they were, but they
still go shopping more often. They seem to like
I look forward to when supermarkets start doing
deliveries in my area. There are two that do it here. It is wonderful,
especially as I keep getting laid up with various gimpiness. It
seems weird, when I was a kid my mum used to write out a list for the
grocers on a Tuesday and he came around in his van on Thursday and
delivered the stuff in a cardboard carton.
We only got
milk and dairy foods delivered. Oh, and "rich" people got these
potato chips delivered monthly. Charles Chips...
yum. Greengroceries, bread and sometimes meat were
delivered too. For the last 30 years I could never understand why
supermarkets never picked up on this idea, I would have thought quite a
lot of people would pay a bit more to have their routine items picked and
delivered for them.
HomeGrocer.com is $9.95 for delivery and for huge orders it is entirely
worth it to me. Especially in the next couple of weeks, when we
finally move into the house David's buying... it's a townhouse, three
stories, with the entrance on the second floor. I don't car efor
the idea of making several trips up and down the stairs for a week's
worth of groceries. I asked David if he thought we could install a
dumbwaiter and he said no.
Industry would never settle for an exclusively
cash-and-carry approach - when I want parts I pick up the phone, send a
fax or email, and a truck arrives at the door the next morning.
Stationery is even delivered the same afternoon.
At last most of the
major chains have started doing internet ordering, but sadly the chain
which owns the two nearest shops (ASDA, now part of Walmart) God, Wal-Mart is overseas?
Heavens, Sam Walton is taking over the world from beyond the grave.
does not, and the ones that do say I am
outside their area.
It appears that doing a once or twice weekly
supermarket run is an important part of the social calender for many
people, and they actually enjoy it, or at least prefer to do it than have
it done for them. I think I live on a different planet. I like
to go shopping occasionally, but that has nothing to do with routine
supplies of essential items.
I hate shopping,
even for fun things like presents. Living in Hawaii and then on
Midway I got so used to shopping by mail that I still do it. I've
been here two months now and still haven't set foot in a shopping
We did get to talk about his 'career' today, and he did
actually hang around long enough to listen to the rationale behind my
statement that I thought he was a fool to follow the path he had in
Exactly what path does
he have in mind?
Taking another year's student loan, trying to get a
bigger overdraft and doing his foundation year again. He says he
intends to work this time, but it looks to me like an excuse to goof out for
another year, and push the problems in front of him. He doesn't
appreciate what paying off a £10,000 debt will feel like, even if it is at a
subsidised interest rate. And the way he is going it will be nearer
£15,000. Fresh graduates don't earn all that much.
No, and what does he
plan to be a fresh graduate in?
Software engineering, (I thought I'd said that
somewhere). Oh, you
did. I forgot. He struggles with the maths, and has also
thought about changing to a non-mathematical course. Trouble is most
of his choices (eg philosophy) are not much use for getting a job.
I don't know.
Does he have any interest in social work? Philosophy is a good basic
degree for things like that, or law, and even medical schools here in the
USA are looking for people with liberal arts backgrounds, thinking they
have a better-rounded education. And there's always
He has 10 points at A level, entry requirements range
from about 14 to 25 depending on the competition for the course and status
of the university. A decent level would be about 18. He's
interested in doing technical programming work, like writing computer games,
and you really have to have some maths to do that.
Then heavens, why
does he want to do it?
I suppose because its the next best thing to playing
computer games. He does have some aptitude for it, he just isn't
prepared to fill out what he can do with working on things he can't to get
a complete exam result.
One of his A-level subjects was media studies - I
called it 'A-level video watching', although he was quite good at the
'running around with a camera' bit. Media tends to be a 'soft' subject
that a lot of people do because they see it as an 'easy' exam. So
there are a lot of people with the qualification going for a small number of
jobs, and you have to have a lot more going for you if you are going to get
He seems to think that if he can scrape through entry-level
maths then its all done, he doesn't seem to be able to take on board the
idea that that is only the start and there will be more maths content in the
degree course.Brr. Wait
until he has to take statistics. That was nearly my Waterloo. I
actually enjoyed symbolic logic, and a lot of other classes, but statistics
nearly killed me.
Statistics is actually his strongest point in
maths. Its mechanics that brings him down. I think anything that
involves thinking around a problem rather than doing things by rote.
He was doing badly in statistics until I got hold of his text book and took
a couple of days and precis'ed it for him, adding a couple of things that
were missing, like an explanation of 'scientific method'. For some
reason the writer had felt that was too obvious to explain and just assumed
There's hope yet.
I feel we have a problem here that
the system has acquired a self-interest which is not in the interest of
students. If the university can entice students to pay to sit in their
lectures, then they have achieved their goal. They get no benefit from
actually educating the students, and suffer no significant penalty from a high
drop-out rate. All they have to do is demonstrate a suitable examination
I think this is true, and true of the U.S., too. I was
frustrated at both schools I attended because of the massive amounts of
funding that go to remedial classes. As far as I'm concerned, if you
can't read by the time you get to university, you need to go to adult night
school, which in the U.S. is held in high schools. I resent the fact
that the graduate health library at the University of Hawaii was only open
from 9:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m., and yet there were remedial classes six days a
week, in every class slot. It boosts graduation rates, but I was upset
that I, majoring in Plan II (liberal arts honors program)at UT Austin, had a
University of Texas honors diploma that meant the same thing that an
illiterate football player's diploma meant.
I think this business of offering 'foundation' courses
to students who cannot achieve the entrance requirements is a scam aimed at
ripping off kids who (or who's parents, mostly) have aims above their
ability. In the old days of student grants, a student would not have
been given a grant to take up such a course, grants were only available for
actual degree courses. With the 'soft' student loans having recently
replaced grants, these controls have been relaxed, placing the onus of
deciding whether expenditure on a particular type of cours is justified much
more on the student.
I think we need to
realize that some people are not college material, and will never be happy
in college. There's no shame in that. A plumber makes a hell of
a lot more money than I do, with my fancy one-and-a-half graduate
I agree with that sentiment, 'we' had this great idea
that *everyone* should be able to get the best and go to university.
It didn't seem to matter that university was just the most general, not the
'best', and that universities never taught anyone to do any job except
teach: for a graduate to learn a job they become a 'graduate intake trainee'
and did two years on crap pay learning a saleable skill. So now we
have few people with real down to earth skills, who can actually do things,
and a flood of middle and lower managers who can't, or expect to be
respected because of their liberal arts degree.
On the other hand Artyom
is intellectually quite capable of benefiting from a university education,
but he is not yet mature enough for the university style of
When I was at college I failed my first year too, and
had to retake it, but that didn't involve sitting through all the lectures
again, all I had to do was take the exams again the following year. So
that year I didn't have a grant, but I could work to make a living. I
washed cars for a hire company for a few months, after bumming around a
hot-rod garage for a while and having fun. I never went
scrounging. Unfortunately the modern methods of continuous assessment
mean its not that simple any more. I dare say there is a way, he
says there isn't but he probably hasn't asked.
I think he should get a crap
job for a year and enroll to retake his A-levels (high school exams) to
improve his results so that he qualifies for proper entry to a degree course,
and gets back the same place next year, but without £000 of debts around his
neck (or mine). He can do that by evening classes or part-time study with no
problem, provided he starts right now.
Sounds good. But
how to convince him?
Rig things so he can't afford to do otherwise. But
the problem is to do that without antagonising him so much that I lose all
This is a bit like Britain's relationship to
Europe. If you don't agree do you stick to your principles and not
participate, or do you go along with the majority so that you can at least
exert some influence on the outcome? I always try to strike a happy medium between the two.
Not that Britain has much in the way of principles. Foreign
policy is usually 'what makes the most profit for the City'. So the big
emotive issue of keeping the Pound and rejecting the Euro is really (I think)
to keep the currency markets alive so that the speculators (pension funds) can
go on ripping off the traders (business) on currency margins, and so put off
the evil day whan they have to admit that the aging population can't actually
afford to retire at 65 or earlier. So no-one will discuss the real
implications. I believe that if there is an information gap, clouded by
bullshit, then someone has a vested interest in hiding