Thursday, July 31, 2008

Get me a Go Fast boat

Last night I watched the DVD of the Michael Mann film adaptation of Miami Vice, starring Colin Farrell and Jamie Foxx. After watching it and mulling over its finer points I think it deserves a review, so here goes: Utter shit! That's about it really. It's got some nice night shots of speed boats (or "Go fast boats" as they seem to be known in the vice trade!) and cars, but the rest is pure drivel, and only semi-understandable drivel at that. Oh, the soundtrack is actually half-decent, but that's not generally what you'll go to see a film for. If you want to watch a Michael Mann thriller/action film watch Collateral instead, which I though was a lot better, or maybe Heat, which is supposed to be very good, but I've not seen.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Newsletter of the week

Don't ask me how I found this, but here's an amusingly (or rather grossly) titled, and pictured, December newsletter for the The Australian Society For Parasitology. They're a funny bunch of guys those Aussie parasitologists ;)

Seek and you will find

Before getting up this morning I was all ready to write a scathing post about the person who cleaned my room in my flat in Hannover. Yesterday after noticing how clean and tidy my room was following a visit from the cleaner I was looking around for the white plastic bag that I've been putting my dirty laundry in. That morning it had been sitting in the corner of my room covered by a t-shirt, but in my new tidy room it was nowhere to be found. I searched far a wide, in cupboards, under beds, behind chairs, even in other rooms in the flat, but still nothing. My only reasonable assumption left was that the cleaner had thought that this bag of clothes was rubbish and had thrown it out (or taken them away to be washed, but I thought that a bit far-fetched) as the bag was one of the bin bags from the kitchen - although clearly wasn't being used as a bin. In my opinion it was a bit overzealous and an assumption too far to throw out someone else clothes, so I was rather annoyed. Today I thought I'd have to go and talk to the guy I'm renting the flat from and let him know what happened, but something stopped me. That something was opening my curtains this morning and finding my bag of dirty clothes sitting on the windowsill. I probably even closed the curtains over them myself. The lesson is that even when you think you've searched everywhere there's probably somewhere obvious that you've not looked.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Better than the rest

A recent study (via the BBC) has revealed something that all drummers already know - that we're super fit athletes with huge levels of stamina and energy (the study says on a level equivalent to top athletes, but it's bound to really be at a higher level.) There's none of this standing around lazily strumming a guitar, prodding keys on a keyboard, or speaking into a microphone that the rest of a band does. The drummer is giving it their all constantly in a frenzy of arm and leg movement that would make an octopus feel inadequate. You only have to look at the fact the drummers will often wear cut-off t-shirts, or no t-shirt at all, will sweat profusely, and need a steady supply of liquid (beer-based preferably) to see the supreme level of hard word that they put in. Anyway all I'm saying is that drummer's are ace - oh, and everyone else is just a lazy, unfit loser ;)

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Seven of one and half a dozen (plus one) of the other

Today I went to watch some Rugby Sevens at the AWD-Arena in Hannover. Now rugby isn't a sport I'd expected to see when I came out to Germany, but when I saw that they were hosting the final leg of the European Rugby Sevens Championship I thought why not go along. The event was over two days, but I only went for the final phase games today. It was a good afternoons worth of rugby and I probably saw about 12 games over four and a half hours. There were some pretty bad matches (the poor Belgian's could score a single point,) but also some decent ones, with the Georgians, the Spanish and the Russians all putting on decent shows. The atmosphere in the stadium definitely became livelier when Germany were playing and they did reasonably well. The generally well established rugby nations of Wales and Ireland, despite getting to the highest Cup stage of the competition today, both looked distinctly poor. The one problem that does come with Sevens matches is that they only last 14 mins, so each game doesn't really have time get a character of its own. You don't get the ups and downs, and major incidents, that come with a full length game.

All-in-all I enjoyed the afternoon as I haven't been to see any live sport in ages (I think the last time was a Scotland vs. England six nation match three or four years ago!) I think a few of us might consider going along to the AWD-Arena again to catch a Hannover 96 Bundesliga game - their first home game is over the weekend of 22-24th August again FC Energie Cottbus (which just leaves me to say, in a Scouse accent, "FC Energie Cottbus! Who are they!?", "Exactly".)

Saturday, July 12, 2008


Some of you may remember that on my trip to Los Angeles a few months ago my luggage went missing (you may not know that on my return flight the stuff I'd had to buy in the US also went missing for a couple of days due to the Heathrow Terminal 5 debacle.) My luggage (from the outbound flight) was never recovered, so on returning I made a claim on my travel insurance for the cost of everything I'd lost. I received this payment a couple of weeks ago, which was nice as I've had to buy quite a few new clothes to replace everything I lost. However, there was still the cost of things I had to buy while I was out in the US to keep me clothed, and not to pungent, through the two weeks I was there, and I want this reimbursed. To this end I've written a strong, but not impolite letter to British Airways (who I flew with) asking them to cover these costs (which is their policy) and giving them a couple of tips on how to deal with lost luggage in the future. I've only waited this long to do it, because they wanted my insurers claim reference number which I only just got given. In the letter I have suggested that when someones luggage goes missing they contact all the airports that that luggage has been through on it's journey in case it is stuck at one. Apparently this isn't what is currently done, because I was informed that the only airport that knew my luggage was missing was Los Angeles, and neither Glasgow or Heathrow airports, through which I'd travelled, had any idea to look for it. I was also told, by the BA lost luggage phone operatives, that they couldn't phone any of the airports as they didn't have the phone numbers. I think it's a bit strange for an airline to not supply their people who deal with lost luggage phone numbers that might allow them to find out where it is. They did, however, say that they could Telex the airports - now I'm not sure what century BA are living in, but Telex doesn't seem the best option to me. The other thing I discovered, which I've informed BA about, was that my lost luggage wasn't considered urgent priority until 10 days after it went missing, and only then because I asked them to try a bit harder to find it - what, in reality, making it urgent priority meant I don't know, but I don't imagine it was anything more than something to placate me. However, I'd have liked to think that they considered it urgent right from day one. At the time when I talked to any of the BA customer relations people on the phone I was always polite, as I really don't like shouting at people down the phone, especially when I don't think it'll do any good, but I'm hoping my letter (which I'm sending both by email and regular post) will have the desired effect i.e. get me some compensation money.

[Update - I got a very prompt reply from BA basically saying that they were very sorry for losing my luggage twice, but they wouldn't be giving me any compensation seeing as I'd already made an insurance claim. Oh, and they did hope I would still continue to fly with them. Now I'm not too concerned about getting money out of them as I have received my insurance payout, but I would like some form of compensation other than a letter of apology, because as it is they have got away scot free from the whole affair. It's only the insurance company that have had to pay anything. Needless to say I'll be writing back to them to extract something.]

Sunday, July 06, 2008

A day at the fair

Yesterday a few of us visited the Schützenfest to check out the festivities. We were surprised at the lack of actual shooting (where all the Schützen were we didn't know) as the main festival area is just a big fairground. Despite the disappointment at not seeing anything getting shot at we decided to explore the fairground. It had all the rides you'd expect from your general fun fair in the UK (bumper cars, ghost trains, fun houses, roller coasters, ferris wheels, and every kind of spinning machine you care to mention) along with a good selection of more German-style-fayre in the form of sausage vendors and beer tents. I went on all the rides I could find that had "Star" in the title. The first of which, Star flyer, was your general spiny-round swings on chains set up, but then elevated a good 30 metres or so into the air. It gave a good view of the surrounding and was a rather relaxing ride. The other ride I went on was the Star gate (you know, like from the film and TV series) except it wasn't a worm-hole that you could step through to other far flung parts of the universe, it just spun you round in different directions and at various angles to the horizontal. Perhaps the strangest thing we saw was a tent in which a man was trying to get members of the public to take part in what I can only assume was an illegal, unlicenced, boxing match. He paired up the punters with his own fighters and then took them into the tent followed by a crowd of the public who were baying for blood (well not really, but some of them might have been.) We could only assume that some kind of bare-knuckle fight-to-the-death style action went on. The fest is on for the whole week, so at some point we're going to have to find out where the shooting's at.

Ain't talkin' 'bout dub

Getting to see an English language film shown in it's original form without it being dubbed into German is apparently quite a rare thing in Hannover (I suppose for the obvious reason that it's in Germany and generally people are statistically more likely to speak and understand German.) So when a film is being shown in English here it can be a big event for those that can understand it and prefer to see the unadulterated version of the film - you get to hear the actual actors who were paid to star in the film rather than their, not-necessarily similar sounding, German counterparts. I'm giving this set up to lead into a cinema outing that a group of about 25 or more of us (who work at the AEI) went on on Friday evening. Someone had heard that the new Will Smith movie Hancock was being shown (for one showing only) in English, so despite it not being at the top of many people's lists of films to see (I'd heard only bad reviews) we all jumped at the chance of going. Having now watched the film I have to say that I quite enjoyed it. It wasn't great, but it was a decent action movie with good effects and a story that had its funny moments and didn't drag. The film is probably saved by only being about one and a half hours long and if they'd tried to keep it up for longer it would have started grating, although the shortness did mean a lot of stuff had to be left unexplained. I also enjoyed the fact that I could buy a beer in a big multiplex cinema and take it into the screen with me, but that's not really to do with the film.

Friday, July 04, 2008

Shooting up the place

Today sees the start of the world largest Schützenfest, or German markmens festival, in Hannover. The main thing I've noticed for this is a large fun fair in town, but apparently (according to wikipedia) there's going to be of order 5000 marksmens trying to become Schützenkönig by shooting at, amoung other things, wooden eagles! In addition to this there're beer tents (obviously) and a very long parade. It runs all week, so I should have some more to say about it when I go along to some of the events.

Tuesday, July 01, 2008

Politcal correctness gone mad!

Here's a funny story (via Pharyngula) about how the right-wing American Family Association's news aggregation site over zealously (well not really just over zealously, but just plain stupidly) used an automatic auto-correct on the news stories it received to correct the word "gay" to "homosexual" - heaven forbid the good, god-fearing folk, of America's perceptions should be sullied by the word gay being used to mean homosexuality! A screen cap of the particular news story, which has now been corrected, can be found here. Scroll down that link to see some of the previous headlines that the auto-correct has produced - a particular favourite, although they're all good, is "Close call: Homosexual barely averts major flop in 100".