Friday, March 31, 2006

Which Oxford Library Are You?

I'm the Radcliffe Science Library!

There's not a whole lot to say. You're scientific, and perhaps just a little dull. Half of the University doesn't know you exist, and the other half rarely visit. On the other hand, there's far more chance of you being involved in curing cancer than your artistic counterparts, so it all balances in the end.

From Cherwell 24



Dull? DULL? Scientific maybe, but I refuse to believe that I qualify as being dull...

Take the test, and comment below to let me know how you get on. It'd be interesting to see if there is any trend amongst my (less chav than me) readership.

Thursday, March 30, 2006

Some People (again)

No, this is not another post whinging about a person on a bus or train who has earned themselves a special mention here for being annoying but instead a response to this article.

"John Kiel Patterson, of Louisiana, is suing Apple in the US District Court in San Jose, California.

He says his iPod is capable of generating more than 115 decibels, a dangerous noise level, and is not safe for prolonged use."

The simple solution to the problem, Mr Patterson, is to make sure that you avoid using your iPod for prolonged periods of time, or - better still - turn the volume down a bit. Muppet. If you were genuinely that concerned you would not have bought an iPod in the first place.

It's as bad as these silly people who move to a house near an airport and then lobby about excessive noise levels. Honestly.

I might not be blessed with the world's greatest amount of common sense, but I am perfectly capable of living without warnings telling me that a packet of peanuts "may contain nuts" (really?), that freshly served coffee "may be hot", that ir is dangerous to attempt to open the door of a moving train and that "objects in the mirror may be larger than they appear". If people want to paint an 8foot ceiling or change a lightbulb in church without using full scaffolding then they should be allowed to. The excessive health and safety regulations and the selfish desire to sue anybody for anything drives me mad.

Name Dropping 2

My parents went walking in the vicinity recently and my mum remarked that the guitar playing she heard coming from a large house they passed "was probably somebody famous". It turns out she was right-the house in question belongs to none other than David Gilmour of Pink Floyd fame. Sweet.

Name Dropping 1

Apparently I live opposite/sort-of-next-door-to the bad guy from the 1970's BBC Sci-Fi series Blake's 7. Yes really.


Oh come on, someone must find that impressive...

Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Voice Overs & Baby Randomness

Randomly this morning I came across a link to the website belonging to a couple who do voice-overs.  If you’re wondering who the voice behind the commercials, the station announcements and the corporate voice-overs is then look no further than www.sayerhamilton.com.  I’m sure that there are some of you who will be amused for hours by the free samples available (especially if you come from a Welsh backwater and have nothing better to do).

 

However, the reason that I have decided to give the site a mention is because it has quite simply the most random line I have ever seen on a professional or corporate website.  According to the main page “Sayer Hamilton also make babies” and you can even click on a link to some baby pictures (which doubtless some of my female readers will find unbelievably cute).

 

Weird.

 

I guess that the gauntlet is laid – can anyone find something which tops that for sheer randomness?

    

Torture

I had an optician’s appointment the other day (bear with me…), and it turns out that one of the causes of the irritation I was experiencing was a misplaced eyelash (for want of a better word).  The solution, obviously, was to have the offending hair removed, and although it wasn’t actually painful, having a pair of tweezers in such close proximity to your eye is pure torture. I took it like a man however and life goes on.

Lincoln & Stamford

If you read my last two posts, you may be wondering why I was on a train needing to undertake an epic dash across London in the first place. I was going to write about it at the time, but I got sidetracked by a classic episode of The Simpsons and Bruce Almighty – which incidentally is a quality film now rated as one of JP’s All Time Favourites.

Anyway, I had been to Lincoln, and before that, Stamford. Brasenose College has some historical links with these places, and a trip was organised on Saturday for those of us who wanted to find out more and enjoy exploring some new parts of England’s green and pleasant land.

Stamford is a beautiful market town which has retained a lot of its medieval character – the Lord of the Manor at the time prevented the Victorians from developing the town, and there is a distinct lack of red brick. Even the newer buildings are very much in keeping. Personally I was rather taken with the small mansion half-way up Barn Hill and I might make it my ambition to live there. Moving on, highlights of Stamford included the Alms Houses (still used as such), Brazenose Lane (named after the College, but why oh why can’t they spell it properly) and Brazenose House, which was once home to the College’s brass door knocker (and now sports a replica).

Following a tip-off from a completely random stranger (always a bonus in my book) we enjoyed a superb lunch in a pub called “Hole in The Wall”. I chose Toads at The Hole (it worked on so many levels…) and it was delicious.

Then it was on to Lincoln. We just had time to rush round the castle, and having seen an original copy of the Magna Carta I was fascinated by the Victorian prison, complete with a chapel designed so that the prisoners could only see the preacher and not one another. We were able to walk around the walls and enjoy some good views across the city and surrounding countryside.

After a few minutes spent in the old town on the top of the hill it was time to go to the Cathedral, where Bishop John met us and showed us around. We saw the tomb of the founder of Brasenose College and after a brief look around the large and very impressive nave we headed up to the tower. Incidentally, Bishop John informed us that J.John had recently done a series on the Ten Commandments and the later sessions drew in several thousand people, enough to fill the building.

The tower was amazing; as we climbed we felt the vibrations as the clock struck the hour and though the weather was not great, the views from the top were quite something. We learnt how the original Norman Cathedral had been destroyed in an earthquake and it was fascinating to see the join in the roof where the Cathedral had been rebuilt to match up with what remained of the first one.

On the way down from the tower we had the privilege of being in the rafters as the choir sung and processed in for Evensong, which was very special. Unfortunately I was then unable to go with the group to the Bishop’s house for tea as I had a train to catch. I did however enjoy experiencing the very old streets as I made my way down the aptly named Steep Hill en route to the station.

All in all, a great day.

Saturday, March 25, 2006

Success!

The adrenaline rush was weakened slightly by the fact that we arrived in Kings Cross 8 minutes early but everything worked out beautifully, and this comes from the comfort of my seat as I await departure from Victoria.

A race against time

On my way home from Edinburgh on Tuesday I needed to cross London from Kings Cross to Victoria. There was plenty of time until the train I was due to get, but I wanted to get an earlier one - which left 18 mins after arrival in to Kings Cross.

It was the most frustrating journey - I arrived on the Underground platform as a train pulled out and then arrived on my platform at Victoria as the train doors shut. The man 10 seconds in front of me made it, and if this wasn't a Corner of the Blogosphere for the whole family I might not be too complementary about him. So, half an hour to kill time at Victoria it was.

"Exciting" I here you say sarcastically. Worryingly it may actually be more exciting than some of my more recent posts but let's gloss over that and let me get to the point of this post.

I am once again on a train in to Kings Cross. Once again I will have 18 minutes to catch a train out of Victoria, and this time the stakes are higher as the next one is an hour later. With a less frequent Tube service than I had in the rush hour on Tuesday it's bound to be close. Check back soon to see how I get on...

Thursday, March 23, 2006

Scottish Parliament

Some of you may have heard recently that part of the roof of the much publicised Scottish Parliament building fell in. This is somewhat surprising for a building which cost £430m.

£430m which could have been invested in the health service, education, public transport...

I had the dubious pleasure of seeing the building myself on Tuesday and I just could not believe it. Some things are said to look better in the flesh, but I was honestly not prepared for how cheap, nasty and plain ugly this monstrosity is. Nothing comes close, especially for something meant to be so prestigious. "Cheap?" I hear you say. How indeed can something which robbed the public purse of so much be cheap? Well, for a start I have it on good authority that the wooden structures and trimming are notorious for coming off. And then there is the small matter of the roof.

I find it very ironic that just down the road from the multmillion pound Scottish Parliament building lies the Royal Yacht Brittania. A ship retired because she was not cost effective. Personally I'd rather the Queen had her yacht than these pompous politicians had their new building.

Talking of boats, this Parliament Building is meant to represent an upturned one. Does it heck. To be fair, if you view it from the air you are meant to be able to see the resemblance; but I've not yet had the pleasure.

Anyway, this may just be one building, but it's a symbol of something much more. It is a perfect example of the fact that throwing money at something, impressive as the figures may sound, does not always result in something useful.

Gordon's budget yesterday may not have sounded too controversial, but I wonder what the next stealth tax will be to fund his "tax and spend" mentality, bleeding the population dry in the process. Though it seems to be emerging of course that Gordon's preferred tactic is "borrow and spend".

Doubtless someone will point me in the direction of huge amounts of money "invested" in public services and bleat on about how good this government has supposedly been. Pre-empting that I will ask them to show me concrete evidence of improvement.

Meanwhile, I will point you in the direction of the latest NHS cutbacks. How are we supposed not to notice any effect of 1000 nurses being cut? And what good reason was there for just closing my local hospital - the King Edward VII - without due warning, explanation or enquiry?

Don't like me talking about the NHS? Well, look in the direction of the subsidy cuts in the railways and the reduction in services which has been ordered.

Fed up with my ranting about the railways? Then look at the education standards which do not always reflect the money poured in to it.

I rest my case.

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Edinburgh

Chatting in to the early hours of the morning whilst drinking copious amounts of tea is something normally associated with being a student. I have very fond memories of such evenings in my first couple of years at Oxford, and very occasionally it still happens.

I did not expect it to be a feature of my visit to Edinburgh, but I was proved wrong and enjoyed putting the world to rights and learning some family history from my Great Aunt. Truly legendary.

I was looked after extremely well - how nice to be in the position where the important question is "do I like my bacon grilled or fried?"

Edinburgh itself is beautiful, with some very impressive buildings and lots of old cobbled streets. The surrounding scenery is breathtaking and even the centre is hardly any distance from the Firth of Forth and the coast. It has one or two less impressive parts, such as the Scottish Parliament building, but that is so bad that ranting here won't do it justice; so I'll write about it later.

The University was also worth a visit - the department were incredibly helpful and I really got a feel for the place. But is the course what I want to do? Can I really see myself spending a whole year up in Edinburgh with just three weeks' holiday? Decisions, decisions...


Another Pet Hate

When travelling on public transport it is important to consider others and have a bit of social awareness. The man with his MP3 player in my coach on the way back in to London yesterday clearly lacked such skills. He was sat some way away from me, and yet I could still hear the tinny drum beat over and above what I was listening to on my MiniDisc player (and yes I know that an MD player is so 1990's but that's an aside).

Honestly, it drove me mad, and I was on the verge of going over and asking him to turn it down. Quite how those sat closer to him managed not to strangle him is beyond me.

I would say that such people shouldn't be allowed on the train but then they'd all end up on the bus, which has to be endured from time to time as well. Such as when I took the dreaded X5 to Cambridge. This time the bloke behind with his headphones on full volume was competing with the portable speakers belonging to the girl in front. It was very kind of her to share her music with the other passengers, but I'm afraid that I am not a hip-hop fan.

Interestingly these social rejects boarded the bus at Milton Keynes, which made me wonder if there is actually a lot of truth behind the stereotypes.

Sunday, March 19, 2006

Some People

If there is an etiquette about who should be allowed in First Class and who should remain in Standard then the woman and her kids currently residing somewhere further down my carriage have clearly breached it.

I have been prompted to write this little rant by the fact that one of the kids has not just been running up and down the aisle a couple of times - which would have been annoying in itself - but her preferred method of propulsion is a kind of leapfrog, using the arms of the chairs either side to swing herself forwards. To be fair the kids have otherwise been quiet, but their mother did annoy me twice earlier. Firstly there was her need to blaspheme loudly when the train veered round a bend as she was coming back in to the carriage. And secondly there was the melodramatic "Oh my. Just a few days ago I was on the motorway and an accident had occurred just yards in fron of me.........." when the train manager was talking about "an incident" on the line earlier on.

Oh dear me. See what sitting on a train for nearly six hours has reduced me to talking about.

PS - in case you were wondering, yes the woman in question did have an American accent.

CHAV

It's a while since the word chav appeared, but it still retains it's popularity; probably because it is somehow beautifully descriptive and very useful.

Anyway, in some idle time recently - probably when I was faffing whilst "writing up my project" I came across a link to a "chav test" online. So, if like I was you're wondering how chav you are, point your browser to the following link. http://www.getlippy.com/play/quizzes/chavquiz/

And please, especially if you score more than 15% leave a comment below to let me know how you get on. It'll be interesting to see how chav my readership base is anyway but if anyone is more chav than I came out to be I'd be grateful to hear from you. In fact, if anyone is as chav as me (15% in case you hadn't worked it out) then please let me know. Somehow I have come out to be more chav than all of my friends who have taken the test thus far. More chav than even Mr "Pearly White Trainers" Stacey himself, which resulted in him sending me a text simply bearing the word "CHAV". I worry now that I am not the sort of person he would associate with...

Anyway, enough from me for now. Take the test - without further ado - and return to leave your comments.

Stirrings in this Corner

Push your way through the weeds which have sprung up throughout this deserted corner of the Blogosphere and across the wasteland you will at last see signs of life once again. Life beyond snippets from Shaggy, of all people.

The lack of posting has been down to the pressures of being a final year student-notably my project which was submitted as a first draft at the end of last week. Doubtless it will need more work when my supervisor gets back to me, and finals are looming but I will make the most of the time I have to ramble and talk about some of the more bloggable events in the sadly rather unblogworthy last couple of weeks.

I am currently speeding North at a rate of knots to Edinburgh, where I shall be staying with my great aunt (legend) and visiting the University. I have been made an offer for an MSc course there and need to check it out before I come to any decision. Deciding what to do next year is hard; I am in the verry fortunate position of having offers from three places and need to think about courses, what I will ultimately do and decide whether or not now is a good time to leave Oxford. I do believe however that with a bit of focus and a lot of prayer that things will eventually come together.

I opted for a first class upgrade for this leg of my journey, as the Weekend First deal is quite an attractive one. It seems to have paid off rather nicely because I am sat here with lots of space, a big table and a "free" supply of tea, coffee and snacks from a trolley which passes by periodically. Nice. Meanwhile the train crew are apologising for the lack of space in standard due to heavy loadings following a delay. And I even have a powerpoint for when emails, blogging or epsiodes of The Simpsons drain my PDA of juice.

Further ramblings to follow as I continue my journey up the country...

Thursday, March 09, 2006

Words of Wisdom from Shaggy

Now there's a sentence I never thought I'd say. But there I was listening to Shaggy's 'Why Me Lord?' and at the beginning he says "And you should remember God in your every day doings, not just when it get's bad".

I'm not sure if he was being sarcastic or not, but either way the words ring very true. Even if it is sometimes easier said than done.

On with my project. More regular posting will hopefully commence again soon.

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

Something to make my blood boil

I have just read this article in The Times, which talks about yet more meddling and intervention by our beloved government in the railway network. For those of us who have no option but to rely on public transport it is yet another kick in the teeth, and makes a complete mockery of the government's alleged plans to encourage people out of their cars. I don't drive for medical reasons, which can be an inconvenience and it'd be nice if sometimes my life were a little easier. But how long before the services are cut so much that those who have an alternative such as the car use it, regardless of environmental conisderations?

I'd advise reading the whole article, but here are a couple of choice snippets.

"The Department for Transport last week tried to blame First Group, Britain’s biggest train company, for a series of cuts across the West Country.

But a document obtained by The Times reveals that the cuts were ordered by the DfT, which is trying to reduce the £5 billion annual rail subsidy by more than £1 billion."

So, not only are they cutting back services (again) but they have had the cheek to lie (again) and blame somebody else.

New train franchises are apparently very tightly controlled by the DfT, as this paragraph highlights.

“The significant difference this time is that although train companies clearly must run the services specified, they CANNOT run any more. In addition, any changes must first be agreed with the DfT.”

I've said it before and I'll say it again - the railways were doing very well and improving no end until the monkeys in Westminster started to poke around. It's been nothing but lies and spin and in the last couple of years getting around without a car has become noticeably harder and more expensive in some cases. You'd have thought that after Stephen Byers was hauled up for interfering maliciously and then made to apologise for lying (sorry, "telling an untruth" *cough*) they'd have learnt their lesson. But no.

This newspaper article shows very clearly that we have a dishonest government, which does not appear to care about giving Britain a transport system which can be relied on. For the ministers in their limos it's not a problem of course - John Prescott does not have the nickname "two Jags" for nothing. Even if they start charging us for road use, John Prescott's fees will doubtless come out of the taxpayer's pocket. I wonder sometimes if these jokers think of the general population at all, and it makes me sick.

The sooner they are out of power and bought to justice the better. Somehow I fear that we'll have to suffer it for a while. Don't blame me, I didn't vote for them (but if you did hang your head in shame).