Saturday, June 30, 2007

Oh the Terror!

Today some angry chaps took it upon themselves to crash a flaming car into Glasgow Airport (the same types who also tried to explode some Mercedes in central London). This is a jolly unsporting thing to do and has inconvenienced a great many people - luckily some valiant British bobby's were on hand to apprehend the rogues, who appeared to have mistakenly set themselves alight! It really is below the belt stuff and just not British! Well I for one wont stand for such actions. I think the perpetrators should be given a jolly good talking to and maybe a light caning. That should show them the error of their ways and set them back on the straight and narrow. There are many angry people out there, but not all of them feel the need to express it by exploding this, or crashing into that. They should express their anger in a more British way like repressing their feelings, going on a brisk walk, or at most writing a stern, yet polite, letter.

Year half empty, or year half full

Can that really be half a year gone already!? I doesn't half go by quickly these days.

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Number 4

Tomorrow it all changes! Will Britain fall to ruin? Will nightmares from our worst imaginings blight the world? Will the very fabric of the universe tear itself assunder?

These are all possibilites of what'll happen as Tony Blair resigns as Prime Minister, but I may be being a bit on the alarmist side. The only real short term change will be that we'll have to remember to say Gordon rather than Tony when refering to the PM.

At the age of 26 it is quite strange to note that Tony's only the third PM I've experienced during my lifetime. First there were the horrors of Thatcher stealing our school milk (well that was actually back in 1971 when she was Education Secretary and she was actually against the move, but still, grrrrr!) - damn her big eighties hair for all eternity. Then there were the grey pants years of Major - such a nice guy now what with his love of cricket and all. Followed by 10 smiley, enthusiatic and earnest, but somewhat shallow years with Blair (or Big Tone as I like to call him). What will I have to expect from my number 4 Gordy B? Only time will tell, but he better not mess with no school milk!

Monday, June 25, 2007


The other day I got stung by a bee on my left foot - I think the bee had decided to take up residence in the bottom of my trouser leg and got stuck. This is only interesting (well interesting to me at least) in that I now know that I'm not highly allergic to bee stings. I've managed to avoid ever being stung by either a bee or a wasp (or hornet, jellyfish, scorpion, etc), so after this sting I had a few moment of wondering just whether anaphylactic shock would set in. My skin didn't begin to swell up nor did my throat close up, it just stung a lot. I think the bee got off worst cos it died - helped on its way by a swift swat with a magazine. I now just have a very itchy patch on my foot where the sting was - nothing a bit of scratching doesn't momentarily relieve.

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Giving in to killer TV

For the last few months my flatmate has been bugging me to watch the TV show Dexter, which he'd started watching last year and really liked. I finally gave in to his nagging and have so far watched the first two episodes. The show, the first series of which finished last November when screened in the US, is based around the character Dexter Morgan. As far as antiheroes go this guy goes right into top spot. He's a serial killer. He's also a forensic scientist working for the police. The show has a dark humour about it, which it gets away with despite the very grisly situations that are presented. You kind of like the character of Dexter for the reason, I think, that the whole thing is presented from his perspective (with an overlying narration by him) allowing the viewer to connected with him if not really understanding and certainly not condoning what he does - or maybe just I think the character has a likability a everyone else thinks psycho! Like I said I've only watched the first two episodes, so will need to watch some more to form a more full opinion, but so far I'm liking it. I'd recommend it to people so long as you're not too squeamish about mutilated bodies - there're a lot of them!

Travels down-under

Next month I'm heading of to the Amaldi conference, which is a major gravitational wave conference held every two years. This year it just so happens to be in Sydney and I couldn't really pass up the opportunity of a trip to Australia. I am having to do work for the conference, with a poster presentation to produce and a paper to plan/write with some other people whilst I'm there, but I can't complain about this.

What with flying half way around the world I couldn't go without taking a bit of a holiday whilst I'm out there, so I've tacked another week onto the trip after the conference is over. And I'm fair packing in the activities that week. As the conference is based in Sydney I figured that I'd get to see a fair bit of it during my stay there. I therefore decided to book my flight home from Brisbane rather than Sydney, so I'd have to do some traveling to make the flight. Only having a week to travel I decided that there wasn't much point in aimlessly wandering about bits of Australia, so I went to STA Travel to book something more organised. After a fair while spent checking out the various options my itenerary has finalised on this: A Contiki coach trip from Sydney to Brisbane, which goes via Hunter Vally (vineyards and wine tasting), Coffs Harbour, Byron Bay, Currumbin (to go to a wildlife sanctuary), Surfers Paradise (for some beaches, casinos and general partying), and finally on to Brisbane. That's not the end of it though! After a night in Brisbane I'm going to be heading up to Hervey Bay (average temperatures of 23 C in the winter!) for the evening before going on a tour of Fraser Island (the world largest sand island). After this it's back to Brisbane for the night before catching my flight home. Should be knackering, but also great fun. I've got the long plane journey back on which to rest, so I need to make the most of my time there.

Monday, June 18, 2007

Island life

Yesterday we returned from our camping trip to Gigha generally unharmed, but with a large selection of Midge bites and bizarre experiences.

On Friday we loaded up the cars for our trip and set off at about 12.45. We were aiming for the 4pm CalMac ferry from Tayinloan, so would have to make good going if we were to make it in time. We just missed this ferry by a few minutes and watched it sail off without us, but there was a bus stop for us to huddle under - and we had to huddle as the weather was a bit blustery to say the least. Whilst waiting for the ferry our first bit of weirdness was encountered - another car pulled up and out got some guys. We got talking about why they were going to Gigha and found out that they were a Senegalese dance band, and they were playing at the village hall that evening! "Are you going to go?" they asked. "Of course!" we answered, because you can't turn down an invitation to a Senegalese dance band as they don't come round that often - especially when they're on Hebridean islands.

When we got to the island, after the approximately twenty minute boat trip, we quickly set up camp. The rain wasn't too heavy, so we managed to get the tents up without too much trouble and minimal dampness. Hunger set in, so we got the BBQs out and began cooking up some meat. The one and only island pub was our next destination where we met some unfortunate microlight pilots who'd been stuck on the island for three days due to the bad weather. After some drinks it was off to the village hall for the band. adren-junk, our guide to the island, showed us the way to the hall by leading us into a wood reminiscent of the Blair Witch Project. Luckily we didn't get killed in some bizarre island ritual (I'm thinking The Wicker Man here) and made it to the hall for the evenings entertainment. It was 10.30pm but all the island's people seemed to be there, from the small kids to pensioners. It was pretty strange, but we had a good time dancing away and keeping the party going.

Saturday started off with the rain still coming down. The weather didn't stop some of the group from going for a swim in the sea - they endured the cold, but did manage a variety of interesting screams when the cold water encountered various parts of their bodies. The rain eventually stopped sometime mid-afternoon and things began to dry off. Dinner that evening was at the pub/hotel/restaurant where the haddock and chips went down a storm. We then went off to collect firewood. This led us back to the wood from last night where we hoped some dry wood would be available. At the wood we were pounced on by all the midges on the island, and had to make a hasty retreat before we could gather up much wood. However, with some blooed still remaining in our bodies, we scavenged around other less dangerous locations which provided us with enough wood (including an abandoned fence post) to make a go at a fire. We scrambled over some rocks around the coast from our camp to a more secluded location to set up our fire. The fire we raised was very good although wasn't the largest that's been seen. It provided a good focus around which to drink and sing, and somehow didn't arouse a load of angry islanders from there sleep.

On Sunday we awoke to a glorious day, with the sun shining and the island taking on a whole new look. Encouraged by this we all entered to water for a swim. It wasn't the warmest water that I've swam in, but after the initial shock it became pleasant (well bearable) and we spent a good 15 minutes splashing around. After breakfast/lunch and showers, to recover a decent core temperature, we drove up to the north end of the island to a larger beach than the incredibly tiny one by our campsite. With the sun, white beaches, clear water and brilliant views we felt like we could be in the Caribbean. Sprint races, frisbeeing and pirating were all activities that we did. Unfortunately we soon had to leave to pack up our tents and catch the last ferry off the island.

There was a lot more to the weekend than I've been able to briefly document above, but it was all excellent fun. I highly recommend Gigha to people thinking of visiting a small Scottish island (they don't seem to produce their own whisky though.)

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Survival of the fittest

A while back a few of my colleagues planned a summer trip to Iceland. We'd drive up somewhere really far north from where we could then get a boat to the land of glaciers, geysers, volcanoes, hot bubbling mud, and Bjork, where we'd experience all the geothermal magnificence first hand. This would even have included a few days knocking about on the renowned tourist mecca that is the Faroe Islands, where we'd have no doubt done some exciting things involving pyramids and embalming... or maybe it's not that type of Pharaoh - it actually means sheep island! Anyway that was the plan until ellielabelle looked into it in more detail and we realised it might all be a bit pricey (Iceland's bloody expensive don't you know), and the Faroes might not quite have the entertainment to sustain us for a few days.

So we've now gone for the next best option which is a weekend camping trip to Gigha (pronounced gee'a)! "Where, and what, the fuck's Gigha?" you might be asking, and indeed I was asking myself until a few hours ago when I set out to search for it on google maps. Well it's here. It's small island off the west coast of Scotland, just off the Kintyre penisula peninsula, and it even has it's own wikipedia page! The reason that we're going here is that adren-junk used to visit family there as a child (one of whom is, I think, the Willie McSporran - yes it's a real name - quoted in the wikipedia article), and was pretty enthusiastic about it. It's not got quite the same attractions as Iceland (in fact other than a pub, a shop and a road I don't know what it has at all - may be there are some geysers!), but I'm sure we can managed to have some fun and we've only got to survive their for two days. I just need to pack all my camping gear, which will likely include a couple of jumpers, and a good coat, if the weather stays as it has today - if only it were like last weekend.

It will be very good for me to travel out of Glasgow a bit and see some of the west coast. It's supposed to be great scenery and in my almost 5 years in Glasgow I've not managed to make it further than Loch Lomond.

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

Preserve this

In a random good food post I'd like to recommend to people Tesco's spicy mango chutney. I bought some of this the other day to accompany one of my home made curry's, which are improving each time I make them, and it proved to be go great with it. The next day I used said chutney in a spicy jalapeƱo burger and it went brilliantly. Is there anything this chutney won't go with? Probably, but I've yet to find what that is with my last two dinners.

England in reasonable performance shocker!

For the first time in a while England managed to put in a reasonable performance on the football field. We beat Estonia 3-0 in a Euro 2008 qualifier. It wasn't a fantastic game to watch, but it had far going for it than last Friday's rather dull friendly against Brazil. Beckham was doing what he's good at which is putting decent in crosses and there was a bit more coherence within the team. We also didn't give up on the game and seemed to want to play a bit, rather than the players deciding that they don't really want to be there. Hopefully this will give us the confidence to play with some tempo, enthusiasm and best of all a bit of passion in the rest of the qualifying games.

Friday, June 01, 2007

Show it like it is!

This autumn the US TV channel CBS will be airing a new sitcom called "The Big Bang Theory" based on geeky male physics types trying to deal with matters relating to the opposite sex:-

"The Big Bang Theory" is a comedy from the Emmy Award nominated Co-Creator and Executive Producer of "Two and a Half Men" Chuck Lorre, about brainy best friends Leonard (Johnny Galecki, "Roseanne") and Sheldon (Jim Parsons "Judging Amy"), who can tell you anything you want to know about quantum physics, but when it comes to dealing with everyday life here on earth they're lost in the cosmos. Neither fully understands that scientific principles don't always apply in matters of the heart - until they meet their sexy new neighbor Penny (Kaley Cuoco, "8 Simple Rules...") on "The Big Bang Theory." Penny is a friendly screenwriter/waitress from the midwest who also happens to be newly single. She quickly makes an impression on the other members of Leonard and Sheldon's geek squad on "The Big Bang Theory:" Howard Wolowitz (Simon Helberg, "Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip"), who portrays himself as the Casanova of Cal Tech, and fellow whiz kid Rajesh Koothrappali (Kunal Nayyar, "NCIS"), who is rendered speechless around anyone unprepared to converse about the Theory of Relativity or other scientific jargon.

The chemistry between this gaggle of geniuses and a delightful damsel is about to undergo a stimulating series of inter-personal experiments on "The Big Bang Theory."

Obviously much hilarity is bound to ensue from all the whacky situations that these nerds get themselves into as they try to woo their attractive neighbour (you can see a clip here.) The promo blurb for this show is critiqued here and doesn't exactly leave you anticipating great things from the show (however, to be fair, in the comments section of the linked blog post one of the shows producers does make a good effort at defending it, and no-one's actually seen it yet to really judge it.) I just wonder whether it can be as bad as Supernova!