Thursday, March 31, 2011
Tuesday, March 29, 2011
When you answer no
Catch the cold
You sail on your own
We share in the toll
And we're all alone
Reminds me of her groan
Forget the night ahead
Find her on her own
Find her on her own
So tell me if it's wrong then who's to know?
We shared in the toll
We sailed on our own
And she fits the mould
To the one we know
You'll never have some honest fun
You said lover be fair
Throw your ties to the pair
You'll always have your honest one
on the way to Bordeaux
you'll never have some honest fun
you said lover be fair
throw your lies to the fare
You'll always your honest one
I'll always be your honest one
You'll always have some honest fun.
Made to Disappear by The Twilight Sad from Forget the Night Ahead
Monday, March 28, 2011
After a fairly abortive attempt to do Yoga a year or so ago in Aberdeen one lonely bored Saturday afternoon, I had decided that the practice of such an exercise was not for me - I was no where near flexible for the class and the teacher did not suffer my lack of skill very well, leaving me behind and letting me leave the studio disillusioned with the aspects of Yoga that I had been exposed to. Spin forward 12 months and I am a full convert.
Connie does it and swears by it and, as referenced by my first attempt, it was something that I had read about and decided I'd like to try. At least give it a go and see what it can do to my body and what it would make me feel. Since my first shot at it, I have now done it a few times since and I already feel difference, better and more importantly, can seriously feel progress in the poses that I have been attempting that at first I struggled with but now I can seriously manage them without straining.
It also gives me this pretty amazing sense of core control - a warmth that spreads slowly after starting and builds until, later on, it suddenly sweeps over my whole body and into the little cracks that I can feel appearing on a day to day basis. Without regular five a side football and almost zero strenuous walking I have to supplement my diet with some exercise and Yoga doesn't replace that but it does make me feel like I am working muscles, releases tension and, in my mind the key is that it is partly meditation. I feel knots and worries fall away as I lie at the end, slowly readjusting to movement, slowly building back up to moving again.
Yoga is something I had wanted to try but was slightly embarrassed to but now I'll proclaim it's benefits from the highest platforms I have because it is a great thing to have started and I look forward to seeing where I can take my body and into what condition it will help my body turn into.
Wednesday, March 23, 2011
The moments that I have tried to force to write something have always ended up with aborted stupid posts that have little or no relevance or insight behind them and are the ones that I look back on and sometimes feel like "why the hell did I even try to write that, let it get posted, can I not have some sort of quality control?". These moments of struggled fluidity come rarely and pass within a few days - if you look at my posting history so far this month you could probably chart the moments that I have had little on my mind to post and the moments that I have had "the Spark". These are the moments where, in a fit of sudden lucidity, I manage to bang out several posts about random things in quick succession - this run being a great example of it, having posted things straight since last Thursday, as well as writing a long series of posts so far in advance that I have completely filled my Blogger posting dashboard with scheduled posts for the first time in my blogs lifetime - you'll find out more about this come the 31st of March which is the beginning of the marathon.
It also makes me think about my most prolific moments when writing on the blog. If you look at the archive to the right -> you can see, at a glance, that 2009 was the most posted year so far, with 2010 being actually a decrease in posts with a decrease of 20% in the number being posted - interestingly, I have posted less articles in the first three months of this year than is the difference between 2009 and 2010. And, technically, I am behind as this is the 19th post this year, compared to 2008 which had had 26 posts in the first three months.
So what does it mean? Nothing really. Am enjoying writing less? Am I running out of ideas? I haven't enjoyed writing any more at any point in my life, as I feel like my blog has matured as I have done, and I don't think I could run out of ideas really seeing as I post anything I want. And, considering that there are 31 posts due to be posted in 31 consecutive days , I don't think my average for the year will be low when 2012 rolls around. I suppose it is a kind of cheating, but the last long run in consecutive posts started on the 15th June 2009 with this post and lasted until the 22nd of June with this post (discounting the weekend, of course).
I might remind my readers, of which there are (a) few, that I don't write for anyone else other than me - I enjoy it, and the moment I stop enjoying it is the moment I stop writing. However, I don't see that happening for a long time.
Tuesday, March 22, 2011
Imagine my surprise then when I realise that one of the oldest jokes I know might actually be about something completely different to what I have been think all my life? Reading on an internet forum I came across a shocking revelation about the following joke:
Q: Why did the chicken cross the road?
A: To get to the other side!
For as long as I can remember all that I have inferred from that joke was that the humour is derived from the fact that it's obvious that was the reason that the chicken crossed the road. I mean, why else would anyone cross the road! But maybe, just maybe, there is another meaning - a dark and deep metaphysical definition, one that at it's core has a strange spiritual meaning that the chicken will actually cross to the other side of this mortal coil. The chicken will most likely be hit by a car and fucking DIE.
I know, okay, maybe I am reading too much into it, but it's something that I have again never even thought about - it might be because I had heard the joke so long ago, as a child, and never re-questioned it. Or maybe because this is all total bullshit and I am over thinking the stupidest joke ever but should at least make you think. It made me think, and that must be pretty impressive for a Friday morning's random internet reading.
Monday, March 21, 2011
But that was all part of the fun - firstly, because I had bought the cowboy boots for more than just the rodeo, and that if I had left Texas without having at least bought a Cowboy hat, I might as well have no even came here. So, off we traipsed to Reliant Stadium, the home of where we went to see the NFL, to watch some Rodeo action and see Keith Urban, a man I had previously never heard before, put on a concert show.
|The Scotsman With No Name|
|Our Feet are Texan Now|
All in all, screw the haters - wearing Cowboy boots, a hat and shirt was as cool as I ever thought it would be and made for a very enjoyable night.
Friday, March 18, 2011
Tir Na Nog - Irish Pub Food – Shepards Pie
Don’t you dare tell me I can’t go into a pub, Irish no less, and ask for a Shepard’s Pie – it wasn’t like I was on holiday from the UK, was it? I wouldn’t have entertained the thought if we had been coming from the Uk, but I’d not had a meat pie in a long time, and the temptation was too great. The pie was excellent actually, with good pastry, nice fluffiness to the meat and sauce mixture, and to be honest it made me a little homesick. The big downer on the evening was the desert which was a barely palatable dry chocolate cake thing that didn’t do any favours for the rest of the meal. It was met with copious amounts of Guiness, but an early night beckoned because of the 3am wake up call required to make it to the East Coast.
Mario's Trattoria - Italian – Pizza
On the night of our secret trip to see the Phantom of the Opera we decided to go in a different direction from the previous night's endaevours. The main reason was that our hotel, on 34th Street, was 10 or so blocks from the Theatre which was up in the 40s. So, heading North, we also moved two blocks West of Broadway looking for something small, quiet and "cheap" and, seeing as it was my choice, we went to a small Italian. I initially asked for a "large pizza" with the waiter almost slapping me full in the face with stupidity "it's a-big-a, signore" or something. Anyway, when it came it was already massive - too big, so I have no idea what size a large would've been. We also had some starters this time, but I can't really remember what mine was, but it was great. Oh yeah, mozarella and oil. It was a lot better than I have just made it sound, I promise. Wine was great and afterwards, I swigged a 12 year old MacAllan as Connie and darted into a pub to use the facilities.
8/10 (-3 for not having my pizza topping choice, but +3 for not accepting my silly large order)
A Place called Hells Kitchen - STEAKS.
The last night was to be Connie's choice, but we kind of mutually agreed that this place looked very much like what we would were into right at that moment. We both had a good drink - I drank Hienniken, Connie slurpped some Cosmopolitans and we ate like kings - each order a steak, Connie's came with fries so we each ordered Green Beans and Asparagus which were amazing. Connie had never ordered a steak before, so we really enjoyed eating it, her eyes lighting up with glee at the amazing tastes of the soft, perfectly cooked steak. It really was one of the best steaks I have ever had, and the restaurant was pretty good too - though our waiter kind of forgot about us a few times, but hey, it was probably for the best that I didn't drink too much beer. Also, the place showed An Idiot Abroad, so that was good.
Tim Hortons outside of Canada...
Okay, so Tim's is pretty amazing. It does Coffee and doughnuts and that's all you need to know - mine is a large regular in Canada, but in New York City that order gets me a lukewarm gallon tub of some coffee tasting water. My doughnut is a Chocolate Dip in Canada, but in New York City is is like someone tried to make one from a fax machine version of the doughnut it's self. After two underwhelming breakfast sandwiches and the worst cusomter service I have ever had, we admitted that whilst it said Tim Horton's on the outside, the heart and soul had been lost in the transfer over the Canadian-US border.
|What it is supposed to look like. It did not look anything like this.|
Tim's normall 11/10
Tim's in NYC -42/10
Thursday, March 17, 2011
Validation. Quite, serene, sure fire validation.
Monday, March 14, 2011
|The Falls at Rouken Glen Park, 2010.|
|The Snowy Pathways of Rouken Glen Park, December 2010.|
|A long awaited cold pint of Deuchars in Dundee, 2010|
|The kind of funny door knob sign that appeared on the door in the Ramada in Perth, 2010|
|Return to the ice after a long hiatus in front of Natural Canadians much to everyone's amusement, 2011.|
|My first Hockey Jersey, for the Chicago Black Hawks, gifted by Connie's brother, Abe, 2011.|
|My attempt at being artsy with my fancy new camera outside Ms Draycott's house in Canada, 2011.|
|Manitouwabing lake, Ontario, as I went ice fishing for the first time, 2011.|
|Looking out from the Rockefeller Center towards Downtwon Manhattan, 2011.|
|The Empire State Building, 2011.|
|30 Rock from the base, 2011.|
|The flag of the United Kingdom Great Britain and Northern Ireland, outside NBC News, 2011.|
|The building where Chandler works, from Friends, 2011.|
Thursday, March 10, 2011
Space Shuttle Endeavour as it crosses the Trophosphere (orange), Stratosphere (white) and then the Mesosphere (blue) on mission STS-130.
Imagine, for a moment, we’d never been to space. The Russians had never sent up Laika, Gagarin had never orbited the Earth and Neil Armstrong was just a man from Ohio who , for a while, was a fighter test pilot. Imagine the vast difference that the world would view Space with. It would still be this void, a vast, unknowing thing that we would only look up at and wonder what it was, really, and the questions of life on other planets would be almost impossible to answer.
I can’t imagine what this would be like. In my life all I have known is that we’ve been up into Space, continuously, using the Space Shuttles and, in my life, we have had some incredible changes of thought. I remember reading in a Space book that my parents had got me as a child that “man will likely be back to the moon early in the 21st Century and we might still yet, but money is something that will always be a little difficult to come by for projects like these.
This week, Space Shuttle Discovery became the first of the fleet to retire officially and start it’s decommissioning. I feel eternally sad at the prospect that it will never fly again, but I understand why. The shuttles have a design life that has been exceeded and they are due to be retired but, for a while, they might very have been the most incredible engineering feats on the planet. Imagine telling someone in 1961 that by 1986 we would be sending humans, 7 of them, back and forth from space in a craft that lands like a plane. It’s truly visionary and shouldn’t be taken for granted that we, as an intelligent species, have managed to leave our planet and travel beyond our existence, even for a brief moment, and gazed into the vast of infinity. It’s awe inspiring.
So yes, it’s sad, but also an important step towards going back to the moon and the to Mars. Over the last few years instead of sending people on these long and dangerous, for they are very, missions to far off places we have been using technology that allows us to go but not go – robots have given us some of the most astonishing findings, as well as probes sent further than we can even comprehend. Take the fact that we, almost certainly, know now that there’s liquid methane in our solar system that acts like water. Think that we now know that some of Saturn’s rings are made from water, frozen in the wastes of space. Imagine that, in the future, we find bacteria from extra-terrestrial life. Imagine so far into the future it hurts your brain and you think that maybe we have met other space faring species. The physics allows it, the odds of the universe allows it, the age of the universe... kinda restricts it, but even still.
We are alive during the formative years of those explorations. I am very sad to see the Space Shuttle program start to end, but I am even more excited about the prospect of us going even further than we have gone before, to paraphrase the most famous non-space going Captain of a Spaceship we’ve ever had.
All of this excitement and lust is partially satiated by the playing of Mass Effect, I’ll admit.
Wednesday, March 09, 2011
The strangest feeling I had though was this sense of returning to somewhere that I felt like I’d never been – the city is so alien, even to someone living in Texas, that it feels like from a different time or world. It is, for wants and purposes, a different country – the North East of the US is something so different from “the South” as where I live is called, and eve again more different from the North West and the West Coast. These differences are more apparent the longer I stay in the state of Texas and, also, the more I travel around.
We did a few things that I had done before – we climbed to the top of the Rockefeller Center but this time was not accosted by security guards and lightning strikes. It was a much nicer day and a more relaxed photo opportunity compared to the relative tightness that the top of the Empire State Building is. This time we didn’t brave that particular building, instead choosing to go and visit a few museums.
The most interesting was the visit to the Bodies Exhibition – this is a biology lesson taught through the preservation and displaying of actual bodies and body parts from real specimens. For the most part it was fairly rudimentary, punctuated with the squeals and laughs of teenaged school children who had entered not moments after we had bought our tickets. Their exclamations and fights to be cool amused Connie and I greatly. The only section that was fairly uncomfortable was the section that had around 12 foetuses that had been still born, perished in the womb, and displayed to show the creation of each and every single one of us. The thing that I took from that was the size of a baby that is terminated at 24 weeks, under abortion legislation, is quite amazing.
We then went to the Museum of Sex. Videos of sexual encounters from old movies to real life porn, with some scenes from mainstream movies, as well as anime porn, BDSM and the sexual encounters of animals, it was a mixed bag – quite interesting for me but not so much for Connie who studies sexual interests and found it to be quite lacking.
We also visited the Museum of Modern Art and saw Connie’s favourite painting of all time, Van Gogh’s Starry Night. It was good to see it with some significance this time. Also, we went to Ground Zero and into the NBC Studio Tour – some of the cultural references were lost on me, having lack the growing up experience of most of the tour and living with Saturday Night Live which was obviously placed on the tour as the centre piece.
We also messed about in the Metropolitan Museum of Art but, in a true testament to how much Connie is meant for me, instead of wandering about looking at the art we watched a museum security person try to scratch her crotch by subtly walking in a funny way and commented on the other patrons pretending to understand the difference between art and Art.
The highlight of the trip though was our secret show – a secret only to Connie. On the Friday night we went to see The Phantom of the Opera on Broadway. It was amazing. Simply amazing. I’d gladly see it for a third time.
So all in all it was an amazing weekend. Cemented my love of New York City and confirmed that it takes around 5 to 7 days to get a hang of the Subway and road layout... and I think I have it down to a tee. But, occasionally, it’ll fuck you up, like when I wanted to see the Flat Iron again but we ended up walking directly away from it.
Coming Up: New York City Part 2 – The F Word
Thursday, March 03, 2011
I've talked about it here before.
The BBC recently ran a story about how people in America struggle with certain types of British accents, saying that it will be the biggest barrier to Cheryl Cole being successful out there – this is on account of her thick Geordie accent that even I find difficult to understand. They compare it to the accent of Colin Firth who, during his speech at the Oscars, spoke with perfect English enunciation and pronunciation.
I have had a bit of trouble with my accent in the states, mostly because I am quite lazy with my speech in certain cases. When asked for a drink, for example, I might add the word “...eh” before the word “Coke” and end up with “diet Coke”. At lunch this week, I said “Thanks very much” to our server and she replied “What sir, what do you want?” not grasping what I had said. It happens a lot in restaurants and bars due to the noise levels I guess.
I struggle to understand what some people from Texas are saying due to their speed of talking which is much slowly in some cases to what I hear in the UK. There is a drawl and a accent there that genuinely I struggle with if I am not prepared for it.
But I don’t think it is a barrier to people living or working out here, as it takes a bit of work from both parties. I have changed the way that I speak out here to allow for less of these moments – I try to not mumble, which I do quite a bit, and also be a bit more definitive with what I am saying, and say it with a lot more conviction.
It is just a matter of knowing who your audience is, I guess, and also who you are going to be listening too... it appears that most Americans struggle with my accent when they don’t expect it to be different – for example, just blurting out “I want a coke” doesn’t work because they except at least an American-ish accent, not something stolen from the other side of the world, so introducing my self first and a little bit of banter helps them understand. I also have the problem, if you want to call it that, of having a Canadian girlfriend who will lull them into the thought that we with both have North American accents and then.... BOOM, I hit them with “Fit like” and they pass out from stress.
Tuesday, March 01, 2011
Okay, so I live in the US and Texas is quite religious; change the record. Indeed, my company it’s self is very religious, whether I like it or not. This means that the majority of people here go to church much more regularly than people what say “they go to church” do in the UK, which is sometimes more than twice a week. Good luck to them, they can do what they want, and I admire their faith and that they are giving up their time for something. It would go without saying then, that this company has a bible study group. It should also go without saying then that many people chose to put religious passages and wise words in their signatures. That’s a little unprofessional for my tastes, but the culture is different so I’ll let them off with it.
There’s also a religious message board. The company have set up several boards on the Outlook system, one called the “BB” where people post literally everything from chain emails, photos, things they are selling or wanting to buy to puppies and kittens that are being given away. The Believer’s Board, as it’s called, is the sole domain of several posters who put up daily posts about religion and bible teachings. I guess that the board could be used for any other faiths, including that of spirituality, as the meaning of ‘believer’ is something that could be interpreted differently and subjectively. It is though the sole proving ground of Christian beliefs.
I venture onto the board every so often to see what is posted there and read the teachings. One thing you can’t ever say about my atheism is that I don’t discount the healing power and purpose belief can give someone and I never hold that against someone in my life. As long as they give me the same respect I give them we will get along fine – all you have to do is ask my friends that are religious and we, mostly, keep the peace. At any rate, it is a fascinating read and a world that I have had little true exposure to only through fleeting readings at Scouts and other events.
The board is quite harmless really and really quite a nice place to read certain things – recently though it’s been one man copy and pasting wholesale from the Old Testament about things that don’t have much relevance for me other than struggling to understand the writing. But... someone did something quite surprising.
They quoted Douglas Adams. They quote Isaac Asimov, Huxley and Clarke. And at first I wasn’t sure why. The quotes, some of which are admittedly my favourites, are either pitched in three ways.
1) As a religious person pointing out that these writers were atheistic.
2) As a religious person pointing out that these writers were atheistic and were good despite that.
3) A non religious person baiting a response from the readers of the board.
The other one that I wasn't sure of was whether the quotes were used to support religion in some backwards way, as some, like the first Douglas Adams one, is quite jarringly out of context.*
I am unsure which yet, but the poster leaves no trace as to the meaning, so maybe I’ll never know. But it does beg the question that, if it’s number 3, why post it at all? I read it not for the smug satisfaction of knowing something is different to that of them, nor do I read it because I get a laugh or enjoy the statements as cannon fodder, I read it because it genuinely interests me, and faith is something I am very interested in at a personal and evolutionary level.
I’ll keep an eye on the board.
The quotes are below. As an interesting aside, as I tried to look up these quotes I wasn't allowed to due to them being blocked. No word on that yet, by the way.
Facts do not cease to exist because they are ignored. - Aldous Huxley
I would defend the liberty of consenting adult creationists to practice whatever intellectual perversions they like in the privacy of their own homes; but it is also necessary to protect the young and innocent. - Arthur C. Clarke
To surrender to ignorance and call it God has always been premature, and it remains premature today. – Isaac Asimov
If I were not an atheist, I would believe in a God who would choose to save people on the basis of the totality of their lives and not the pattern of their words. I think he would prefer an honest and righteous atheist to a TV preacher whose every word is God, God, God, and whose every deed is foul, foul, foul. – Isaac Asimov
I refuse to prove that I exist,” says God, “for proof denies faith, and without faith I am nothing. – Douglas Adams
Properly read, the bible is the most potent force for Atheism ever conceived. – Isaac Asimov
Isn’t it enough to see that a garden is beautiful without having to believe that there are fairies at the bottom of it too? – Douglas Adams
*Here's the actual passage, for completeness and context.
"I refuse to prove that I exist," says God, "for proof denies faith, and without faith I am nothing."
"But," says Man, "the Babel fish is a dead giveaway isn't it? It could not have evolved by chance. It proves that You exist, and so therefore, by Your own arguments, You don't. Q.E.D."
"Oh dear," says God, "I hadn't thought of that," and promptly vanishes in a puff of logic.
"Oh, that was easy," says Man, and for an encore goes on to prove that black is white and gets himself killed on the next zebra crossing.
The Babelfish, btw.