Saturday, September 12, 2009

Why renting in London is absolutely ludicrous

This probably not the latest discovery, but there might be the slightest chance that things change if enough people nag about it (and may it only be in a parallel universe).

Every year - often in lovely Autumn -, thousands, millions in the UK capital decide they are bored with their place and it's time to commit to London's favourite past-time: flat-hunting. Accordingly, there's a bazillion of crappy estate agents all over the place. With their offices in fierce competition for the shabbiest design. Occasionally (well, actually always), I wonder if these idiots haven't quite understood the benefits of an inviting, modern office space. If the point of entry looks sub-standard, why the hell would I expect the properties to be any better? In a normal country, any self-respecting landlord trying to advertise would probably turn around on the heel.

Today, I had the joy of seeing the completely desolate place, in the company of an overly joyful agents. «Those lights, the space, isn't it wonderful?!?» *joyful grin, grin, smile* And why the hell is the wall moulding in the bathroom? Is this silicon, or is the mould keeping the water from running through the wall? Paint was the only thing keeping the windows together. But hey, «it has central heating». Any huge building has bloody central heating! What's the point of heating, if the warmth's first thought is swish out and away through the gaps and creaks in the rotten frames anyway? [1] I don't even want to start about the floors, curtains and bed...

Alright, at least at the top end, one would imagine the flats to be good, if not even spotless? Wrong. Imagine a ~80sqm flat near Old Street in a redeveloped building. Top floor, a penthouse, over-seeing a sizeable part of the city, only minutes away from Moorgate, Liverpool street. Bright, two bedrooms, two bathrooms, open-plan kitchen-living room area with a large balcony. Ahhhh, can you see it? Brilliant, isn't it? Well, for a booming price-tag of £550 per week I would expect it to be perfect. Quite surprisingly (not!), that wasn't the case.

The sink is moulding away.moulding sink

And so is the wall next to the skylight. Presumably, because it doesn't close properly.

The plaster and paint jobs were done terribly. What is it with the nation-wide lack of masking tape? At all the doors I could see wall paint on the door-frame or vice versa door-paint on the walls. I've come to see paint on the glass of windows to be an English hallmark.

Of course the floors were completely scratched, scraped, grated, clawed, splintered throughout. Must have been quite an effort to get this job done.

I fully understand that there is a degree of wear and tear in any flat. What is beyond my understanding (and tolerance) is the fact that agents actively conceal these shortcomings and that is it generally accepted to rent out accommodation in plain-awful conditions. Why not repair things?

[1] Has the UK signed the Kyoto protocol? Solid iron frames aren't the smartest thing to reduce energy consumption. Oh and then are those regulations to maintain the outside appearance of a building uniform and 'pretty'. Hu? If the whole complex has more similarity to a decaying Russian power plant than a housing estate, do you think anyone would give a rat's ass if one flat's windows were slightly different? No, no, let's just put another kilometer of paint over the rusty ancient things.

Post scriptum: Fantastic, being all absorbed in ranting, I've burnt my food. Anyone for smoky homemade Ramen?

Sunday, June 21, 2009

My cyborg acronym!

mhahaha, die

Totally me! Seen on Lars' Fischblog.

Monday, June 15, 2009

So ... uhm ... sorry Mary, you're virgin pregnant

Even though this web-comic is completely dorky and I don't understand any of the toy-related jokes, you got to love it for goldies like this.


Wow, it took me a few attempts to get the HTML code for an image right. It's been a while...


Friday, June 12, 2009

Dark Room

Damn microscope setup! I'm 1.85m tall (6'1" for those with imperial measures) and I believe the table is built for midgets. Even with my chair on the lowest height, the microscope would need to be another 4 inches higher up, just to keep my neck straight. And «thankfully» there are pipes somewhere near the feet on the floor, so I can't even stretch them out. By the end of my PhD, I'll be a hunchback, will chronically lack vitamin D and be as pale as ... well, I guess I can't get much paler [1].

[1] Thank you England!

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Wednesday, June 03, 2009

The council is full of morons

In London (and I assume that applies for most of the UK), people have to pay council tax according to their housing standards. Why this isn't done less annoyingly by an equal spread and through the general tax is beyond me, but it exist nevertheless. It wouldn't be such a big problem, if the people in the council managed not to cock up.

I'm happily sharing a flat and I'm also happily tax-exempt being full-time exploited as research-bitch. To my knowledge that relationship has been confirmed by this neat letter of student confirmation when I moved last year. Then, out of the blue sky, a council tax enquiry letter asked for details [1]. Not nicely, but with the bold threat [2] that I'd have to pay £50 if I didn't reply on time. Being a good EU citizen, I complied, not knowing that those idiots had already closed my flatmates account (which comfortably ran via monthly direct debit) and started billing me for the complete previous year! Imbeciles.

Three phone-calls [3] and half an hour (!) later, we (the moron and I) had finally established the above status quo. Sigh, now I'll have to send them another student status confirmation...

[1] The form was full of typos and errors. Who's typing these things? Monkeys?
[2] I should have ignored it. After some time the TV people stopped sending us letters as well. I presume they ran out of red ink, as the letters turned progressively more colourful.
[3] To be fair enough, only one made it successfully past the automatic band machine. Funky music. Word of advice: don't call, if you only have 10min time between some wash steps in the lab.


Monday, June 01, 2009

Boredom has come upon me

Looking at my latest post date, I guess I have neglected my weblog «a little». To my defence, I've finally come to a time in my studies where can't write about my work without either disclosing publishable information, or without seriously annoying the people I work with. No wonder most high-spec bloggers in academia are incognito, unless they have endless amount of time to ruminate about sensible matters [1].

This afternoon at the cryo-stat - as a rare boon all sectioning went through without problems - I started to contemplate my future career. On the one hand, I thoroughly enjoy my part in biological science [2]. At least all those moments of experimental success. (In fact, I've started to have tiny celebrations for each successful immuno-staining.) Then on the other hand, I'm pondering whether I can see myself for the next 10 years, chasing one limited-term job to the next; post-docing around the world, no real place to settle, always on the verge of finding new friends and a suitable community. And that every three-or-so-years?

Well, and just a second ago I got bored of watching Family Guy and decided to alter my blog design, which to my utter disappointment, isn't as easy as expected. All those new blogspot features require me to start from scratch ... not now.

Right, I'm off. Got to catch up with the «latest» Star Trek movies before I hit the movies. Toodle-pip everyone.

[1] e.g. PZ-whatever at Pharyngo-whatever writes so much that I can't even be bothered to read it (at) all.
[2] How many people do you know that work on photoreceptor transplantation, ha?

PS. After re-reading all this, I believe I've set a new record in random post composition.


Wednesday, December 24, 2008

You know it's Christmas when...

... your family is about to kill each other. My charming little sister has already successfully driven my gran to tears, which was concluded with the usual talk about «not comming any more», «drive me to the train station» and a slamming door.

Bleedin' Christ, even I am targeted. Not sure why, but mom doesn't seem to be in the best mood. Possibly as I preferred to stay in bed for an extra half hour, after my brother's cursed ringing phone woke me in the early hours of the day. Evasive strategy number one is camping it out in the basement with a good cup of coffee and a little blog entry. Hmm, I can still hear the shouting.

An interesting day is to come. At least I have presents for everybody. Ohh, my I am being called, better leave.