Saturday 26 August 2006

Reading Festival 2006

Went to the Reading Festival yesterday (just for the day).

The weather was forecast to be wet, but it was actually quite hot. Started raining in the evening, so I was happy to put on the waterproofs. Wish it had rained heavier. There's something satisfying about being completely dry when it's pi$$ing it down!

I wore my old CAT boots. They must be nearly 10 years old now. I think their grips still qualify as 4WD, but I might have to check with Dad.

I'll rate the bands I saw in terms of 'grips quality' of various popular types of shoes:

Fightstar: Oh dear. The new band of 'Charlie from Busted'. Apparently getting that much crap thrown at you is not a sign of appreciation. Not my cup of tea I'm afraid vicar.
Shoe comparison: My Little Pony welly boots.

Design Cape. Make Cape. Eat Cape. Cry.
: Don't really remember much about them. They were fine. I really wanted to see them because I had noticed they played in Oxford recently.
Shoe comparison: Some school shoes I can't remember that probably had adequate grips.

Fall Out Boy: I really only know these guys through 'their' videos on YouTube (see previous post). I felt some twangs of Emo angst during their songs. There was alot of jumping up and down and moshing. We were beside one mosh pit. Was pretty funny when Spider Man got chucked in. At that very moment his Spider-powers left him and he ripped off his mask in panic - thus revealing his identity (an angry teenager). Then there was a 'circle mosh' which FOB organised all over the crowd. That was fun too. Moshing looks kinda fun, but the people doing it look like morons. Rahhh - look at me I'm so an-gry, I must push people about to show my teenage rage and demonstrate my relative state of depression. My parents don't understand me! Life is, like, sooooo unfair. Feel the power of my moshing rath fellow misunderstood children! Rahhhhh! They also cleverly got the crowd to throw stuff at each other which was quite a sight to see. Incoming!! Bottles quite hurt when they hit you bottle cap end first...
Shoe comparison: Adventure sandals (e.g. Merrell).

Belle and Sebastian: One of those bands I've always had to pretend I like because they've won music prizes and are 'cool' (and Scottish). Never really listened to any of their albums properly and the only reason I know the 'Boy with the Arab Strap' song is from the theme tune to the TV program 'Teachers'. That said they were very good. We were right up at the front for them. The lead singer guy did some nice interaction with the crowd. There best song is still BWTAS - I have it stuck in my head now. Must listen to the albums properly now so I can actually remember more than one song.
Shoe comparison: Timberland Boots.

The Vines: Didn't really give them a chance. We were right at the back, waiting to go see the next band. Left early.
Shoe comparison: Ninja plimsoles. No grips as such but very grippy due to their special ninja properties.

Kaiser Chiefs
: Yah! I know all the songs! What fun! Nicely entertaining. Very solid performance. They played one or two songs from their new album.
Shoe comparison: Merrel trainers.

Franz Ferdinand: I wasn't expecting them to be that great live to be honest but I was blown away by them. Their songs go down really well and quite easily fill the park and get everyone going. I forget how 'rocky' their songs can be. However, I think they played too long and the last half hour was a bit dull until they played 'This Fire'. Bonus points for the impressive stage and light show.
Shoe comparison: CAT boots. Yeah baby!

I think my band reviews are getting better. Still waiting for that call from NME.

Thursday 24 August 2006

Dancing abroad

I'm off to Reading Festival tomorrow, where I will see bands such as Franz Ferdinand, Kaiser Chiefs and the mighty Fall Out Boy. The main reason I like Fall Out Boy, is that loads of people make 'taking the pi$$' videos for their songs that mock the singer's poor diction (I'd like to think they are making a stand about the decline in the way the English language is spoken, but it's more likely they want to be YouTube heros). So from Fall Out Boy, here is 'Dance Dance', 'Where is Your Boy Tonight' and, my favourite, 'Sugar We're Going Down'. **WARNING** None of the videos are particuarly unsafe for work, but I wouldn't watch them if you work in a place such as a nunnery for politically correct nuns who worship St Hilda the PC, the patron saint of PC. I think you might have to be a member to watch one of the videos, but at least one of them will open normally.

For some much more mellow fun, here is a nice embedded video. It's called 'Where the Hell is Matt' and is this guy who (with some minty sponsorship) went around the world dancing in places. I can imagine Kev doing this. Perhaps he could go round the world dancing, but for a unique twist, could do robot dancing instead!

I wouldn't watch the video without the soundtrack, and I wouldn't listen to the music without the video, but together they make a strangely beautiful video that I watched straight through first time (an achievement for my 15s attention span). It's also educational - the South Shetland Islands are not, in fact, Scottish.

Worth watching in that few minutes (read 20min) when you get back from lunch, but you aren't quite ready to start work again yet.

Wednesday 23 August 2006

That great Bergkamp goal

Dennis Bergkamp retired from Arsenal the other day, so there were various programmes on about him and his greatest goals. I was talking to someone about 'that great goal' but it is impossible to describe, so I have found it on YouTube. Internet video doesn't really do it justice.

I can't really remember who it was I was talking to about it... could have been Andy, or Greg... not sure. I seem to remember that the person later thought I was talking about Freddie Ljungberg. Well I guess they're both 'bergs, so that's fair enough. Maybe it was Wendy I was talking to. Or could be Greg - he doesn't know much about football. Ah..... Wendy has just come into the room (censored - I should not blog when drunk. Me bad...) and tells me it was actually Keno. Well he never reads this blog so fat lot of use it is putting it up here for him to see. Ho-hum it's a decent video anyway.

Anyway here it is:

Tuesday 22 August 2006

Don't step on the cracks...

...or you'll plummet to your doom!

Sunday 20 August 2006

Rina en Oxford

The last post about paintball was a bit of a long one, so here is a short post about Rina visiting this weekend.

She visited. We ate and drank last night. Today we went to visit Christ Church college. £4.70 to get in! They've certainly decided to cash in on their new-found Harry Potter fame!

Well we walked around and it was very nice. Went into the main hall, where they filmed some of the great hall scenes from Harry Potter. Rina was very excited and wanted to pretend to be Hermione. I recognised the stairs to the hall from the film, but opted not to pretend to be Miss McGonagall.

Paintballing again

Went paintballing with people from work yesterday.

Seeing as I went just a few weeks ago to a different centre, this gives me the opportunity to compare them.

Yesterday we went to HotShots, near Upper Bucklebury. The previous time we went to Delta Force.

In terms of organisation, facilities, equipment and professionalism them was no comparison.

Delta Force was better in terms of:

Facilities: Their 'HQ' was so much better. The Hotshots toilet was a rubbish little portaloo that look like it had been rejected from Glastonbury for being too minging. Delta Force had a permanent building with separate gents and ladies. Maybe an idea if you want to have more of the fairer sex along.

When it came to lunch, Delta Force gave us a pretty nice BBQ. Hotshots ordered in loads of Dominos pizzas. Now I'm not saying I don't like Domino's pizza, but I got the impression it was because they couldn't be bothered doing a proper BBQ.

DeltaForce had a 'goggle cleaning station'. At HotsShots it was a case of running around trying to find the one spray bottle and some clean paper.

DeltaForce had lots of free drinking water and tea/coffee. HotShots had some bottles of juice that vanished pretty quickly.

Organisation: When I arrived at HotShots it was a case of hanging around trying to work out what to do, then a kind of mad rush to get some equipment. The fact they only had 2, XXL overall suits was a bit annoying. Like big guys don't like paintball eh? We had ordered a package that included grenades, but they had no grenades available. Admittedly the gave us 50 paintballs instead, but if you're going to say you give grenades then maybe you should...

Equipment: DeltaForce equipment was just better. End of. Guns - I don't know if they were technically better, but they were shiny, looked newer and had two handles, which matters to the lay person. Especially the shiny bit. They had loads of grenades. Their ammo packs had good fresh velcro (most of them). With the HotShots stuff I actually lost ammo in a game because the velcro wouldn't stick! They were nice enough to replace my lost paintballs though. DeltaForce supply all players with full head protection and their masks look much newer. The HotShots stuff is probably more standard but is inferior to the DeltaForce stuff.

professionalism: Now I'm not saying the HotShots guys were unprofessional, but they did kind of give the impression of being a bunch of lads who were leasing the centre out or something and running it for a 'larf'. I was very impressed with the DeltaForce professionalism and the way they drilled in the safety rules. i.e. if they see you without Goggles on in the game you are out for the rest of the day. At HotShots there were people going about with Goggles off as they stood at the side of the game.

The HotsShots safety talk seemed more like they were only doing it because they were obliged too. During the safety brief the HotShots guy was 'demonstrating' the guns, so had a paintball gun in the 'safe' area firing and was firing it against a lorry to show us how it worked. Then as he talked he was waving the gun barrel in front of us all. It was pretty stupid and unprofessional and everyone was kind of looking at each other thinking, "wtf?" with nervous laughter going around. There's no way the DeltaForce guy would have done that.

DeltaForce marshals seemed a bit more with it. They wore recognisable clothing so you could see them all the time, and they were always on hand to help if you had a gun jam or anything.

Anyway, organisation and professionalism isn't why you go paintballing - it's all about the fun in the games.

However, I think I had more fun at DeltaForce. There were about 25 on each team yesterday. A lot of the game areas were too narrow for that many people. There was the usual 'get the flag' type games, but it's a telling sign that nearly every game at HotShots ended in a stalemate, whereas every game at DeltaForce was won by someone. Also, the DeltaForce people kept track of the scores between the teams, with HotShots I didn't really have a clue what was going on.

I must admit I think I had my 'best ever' game of Paintball yesterday. It was a 'defend the castle' game and I got into a great defensive position where I was able to shoot about 5 or 6 people, before someone got an accurate shot through the walls!

Enjoyment wasn't helped by an incredibly heavy downpour that completely soaked everyone. It was so uncomfortable and made us think about how bad it must have been to be a real soldier in the trenches soaked for weeks at a time, with something more serious than paintball to worry about!

Overall I did have a fun day. It's hard not to with paintball! However, I don't think I would return to HotShots. DeltaForce I would go to again, but there are so many different paintball centres between here and London that it's worth trying them all.

Disclaimer: All this rubbish is my opinion only. I have no affiliation to any paintball centre.

The only reason I've blogged this and gone into so much detail is because there was so much difference in terms of quality between the two centres. I suspect Delta Force may be especially good and professional and HotShots more the norm, although I've been to a few other centres in England and I'd say they fall inbetween the two.

Friday 18 August 2006

Evil North Korean Child Army

I blogged about a genius kid playing the xylophone recently.

I thought was she really cute. Little did I realise she was the disarming cute front for an evil army of North Korean children.

While Bush et al stress over whether or not North Korea could have nuclear weapons or not, I have uncovered the truth.

The nuclear weapons threat was just a distraction to give the North Koreans enough time to train an elite army of children who will hypnotise gullible Westerners with their music of evil. The North Koreans reportedly have about 1 million soldiers. This is not true. They have 1 million children playing tiny musical instruments.

It's known that during the cold war, at least 13 Japanese citizens were kidnapped by North Korea. Did nobody notice they were all music teachers?

You've seen the cute kid.

Now see the evil army! Soon they will march upon us.


Monday 14 August 2006

Malaga Motorbike Mayhem

When we were coming home from the holiday in Spain we had to spend about 9h in the airport before the flight.

To alleviate the boredom for a few minutes, I bought a couple of toy motorbikes and Fraser and I went off to film them zooming about and jumping etc.

Since discovering Windows Movie Maker I decided to make my little movie clips into a only very slightly larger movie clip, but with editing and music.

I wish I'd taken more movie of the bikes as the clip is a tad short, but I'm still quite happy with the result:

Here are the original stills of the bikes.

Bench Press

I've been going to the gym for about 3 months now. I must be doing something right as I've been able to increase the weights I am lifting, but till now I have been using the fixed-weights machines.

To make real progress you need to be using the free weights so I got my programme reviewed last week so I am now doing free weights.

Today was the first day for the free weights. I must admit to being a bit reluctant to do them for the first time infront of loads of huge blokes, but I was glad to see the gym nearly empty when I got there.

After a 5min warm-up, the first exercise was the bench-press - the maker and breaker of men!

The trainer who did my programme for me told me that the first time I do the bench press, I should find one of the gym people to 'spot' me, in case I drop it on my throat and kill myself. She underestimated my power...

So I got under the bench press. Got my hands in position... and lifted. Yeah! 3x10 bad-ass lifts and I was pumped! There were a few people in the gym by now and I think I got a few admiring glances... and not just from the ladies! I think people in the gym can recognise brute strength. Maybe I'm now the sort of person who makes gym beginners nervous now?

Now that I had done some hardcore bench-pressing, it was time to up the stakes. Time to push my body to its limits.

It was time to try it... with weights on the bar!

This time I was less bad-ass. The bars usually weigh about 25kg, but I think my one must have been about 50kg. Once I added 20kg on there I was all over the place! Hopefully it will get a bit more natural, but today it felt... precarious to say the least!

Sunday 13 August 2006

Eugenio en Oxford

Keno visited this weekend. Seeing as he never reads this blog, I can can say anything I like about him...

Keno - your patterned socks make Russian girls laugh!

Ha! That'll teach him not to read this blog!

Anyway, Saturday night we went to The Zodiac, where if it hadn't been for meeting Jo, Keno and I might have stood like wall flowers all night. Mind you I was doing some quite impressive toe-tapping standing there.

Told Keno about my engineering work last week and he insisted on going to see if it was still there. It wasn't. Is nothing sacred? It had been flattened. I suspect a small localised tornado must have hit it, because that thing was quite solid. All that was left was a few twigs and broken bits of bark. :(

We also went to see the movie Nacho Libre (Spanish for 'Cheese Flavoured Snacks'), which is about Mexican wrestling. Pretty damn funny movie!

Thursday 10 August 2006

Jenga Genius

Have you seen the famous Honda advert? I wouldn't bother. It's rubbish.

Fraser and I decided we could do better when we were in Spain, so set up an epic Jenga/domino rally.

Unfortunately it went a bit wrong. We had worked so hard to set it up. Basically every day, we planned a section of the rally. When it came to filming it just all went wrong.

I think Fraser's cry of anguish, which is just barely audible on the video, really sums up the feeling. In a way, although you can barely hear his manly roar, it reminds me of some of the classic Vietnam movies, Platoon, Deer Hunter etc. You can almost imagine Fraser making a dash through the jungle, trying to reach the helicopter which will take him to safety, when just as he is nearly there he is cut down by a swathe of Viet Cong bullets. The last sounds we hear (in Dolby surround sound) is the dying Arrrrrrrrggggggggghhhhhhhhhhhhh of a lost hero.

Just watch the movie. Don't be ashamed to shed a tear...

Tuesday 8 August 2006

Scream PETA Scream!

This one made me laugh out loud!

Monday 7 August 2006

Castle Optical Illusion

This is pretty impressive: check it out.

Credit: Rookie@BCF

Sunday 6 August 2006

This is the house that Steven built

Greg came to stay this weekend. On Saturday we went to Head of the River for some lunch and a few pints of Fuller's Discovery - a very nice beer!

We then spent an hour punting, heading down the river, past the pub to the University boat houses. I managed to get the pole stuck in the river bed at one point and had to rely on Greg paddling us back to retrieve it!

After cooking and sleeping a bit we went down to the Rose and Crown in North Parade for a few pints of Old Hooky.

Today was spent walking down the canal from North Oxford, going for some juice at the Living Room at the Castle complex, then getting some sandwiches from Morton's then finding a tree to sit underneath in Christ Church meadows and chilling for a while.

While there, my engineering side took over and I built an impressive building out of sticks and bark. Despite Greg's best efforts (or meteorite testing), the building was finished, and will probably be standing there for generations to come. Well, maybe I'll just pop down next weekend and see if it is still there...

On the way out of the park, Wendy dropped lots of litter. I picked it up and put it in a bin.

Wednesday 2 August 2006

Shakira spoof video

This video is class! It's number 1 in the Google Video charts at the moment.

Not quite as sexy as seeing Shakira herself, but much more amusing. I really love the song anyway. Makes me want to speak Spanish.