Tuesday, 25 February 2014

Travelling



In February 2012 I travelled the length of the UK for the Brand New tour, and - as well as being one of the best weeks of my life - I made a promise to myself on the coach out of Birmingham to never return. Unfortunately their ranking on those pesky University tables was to dictate otherwise, coupled with my lack of a mathematics A-Level - which stopped me from getting into half the courses in the country.

I also spent July 2012 in Europe, with my three best friends, and it was perfect, really. Three days in most cities we visited - and we visited a few. Stockholm, Paris, Rome, Barcelona, Vienna, Berlin, Munich. It was everything I dreamed about, but since then I've hardly travelled at all. Sure, I've got the train over to Aberystwyth and Manchester. Things that keep me interested for a couple of days at a time - but I haven't been away for any prolonged period.


So you can understand why I can't wait for April to arrive. Brand New tour 2.0. Tickets for all eight shows: Southampton, London, Leeds, Glasgow, Newcastle, Manchester, Bristol, and Nottingham. Me, my camera, my favourite band, and a whole lot of hours on trains should be pretty great. That and the ol' cliché of being able to see people I haven't been able to meet up with in quite a while.

That said, it still isn't really enough. Over the course of the Olympics I formulated plans to visit Latvia and Sweden, the former just for a quick visit and the latter for a month over Christmas; And then my friend mentioned Erasmus. I hadn't really thought about taking a year out in a different country - well, I had but I thought I'd decided against it - but then I started thinking how amazing it'd be to live in Sweden for a year. Slight problem is I already have a house for next year, and have a final project all but sorted - although I'm sure that could be deferred.


So now I've got a bug to travel somewhere. Among the many, many dreams I've had growing up a travel photographer is one that I still cling to, that someday might happen. It's not going to happen as there are innumerable people more skilled and talented than I in that particular field, and I'm aware that my composition and eye is nowhere near up to scratch for a travel photographer. Which is a shame.


One of the reasons for travelling is that this city gets me down quite a lot. It's grey, it's uninteresting, and I have that quirky teenage 'not fitting in' feeling that drags down many a child. Unfortunately, the money that I could use for a quick getaway to the continent seems to be earmarked for food, and actually attempting to have a good time while still being here - so that's out. I think a lot of this is just seeing there's beauty wherever you are (and I'm a firm believer that there is). Finding views of the University and The QE Hospital still occasionally catches me off-guard and somewhat takes my breath away. Plus I've explored none of this city, and maybe I should get round to doing that sometime. I managed to get all work for next week done today - so I guess I have this weekend to do just that.


The thought of dying without having seen the world saddens me. I don't really see the point in life if you have all these amazing opportunities to see these amazing places and then never take them - but on the other hand the risk cripples me. What if I don't fit in there either? What if I get homesick? What if it's not everything I thought it would be? I've gotta banish those thoughts.

Monday, 24 February 2014

Life: Spent in Front of the Telebox

I'm torn between posting about the Winter Olympics or posting about general life, and I'm gonna go with the latter as I haven't done it in a while - and I've got a few days before the Olympics become irrelevant.  So, after panicking about work last week, this weekend was actually pretty busy! Which will no doubt lead to panicking about work this week because I didn't manage to do any this weekend.

Admittedly a lot of the past couple of weeks has been spent watching TV. Chuck, Scaredycat, White Collar, Twin Peaks, House of Cards. Quite a bit. The latter I still need to get around to finishing before somebody ruins it. Plus I need to start Dexter so that I can get to Yvonne Strahovski in s7/8. I don't think I ever actually finished Heroes, so I should probably put that down too seeing as there's a 13 episode 'mini-series' coming next year. To put that 'mini-series' into perspective, there's been 9 episodes of Sherlock - total, and they tied up the entire Luther story in fourteen episodes too.

Then there's the Winter Olympics. So much curling, so much ice hockey. It's ridiculously nice to have hockey on at a decent time. Rangers' start back up on Thursday (or, Friday at 00:00) which means back to staying up until the small hours. Plus British medals in both male and female curling was pretty sweet too. Curling's so ridiculously intense. I mean, check out this Niklas Edin 360 (not from the Olympics, but still awesome.)



In between the telebox I also managed to sneak out to watch Luton play Nuneaton - something I've had my eye on for months. Ended up being well worth it; Set a new record for Liberty Way, given the fact that Nuneaton had given two-thirds of the ground to Luton and a pretty simple 5-0 win made it a pretty decent day out! Then there was Taking Back Sunday in Coventry on Sunday night, with the band on top form. Was an amazing night, Bonus Mosh pt II!! I still find it odd how Lazarra talks to fans, threatening one with a microphone-enhanced punch, which - considering most of his 'I love you guys!' rhetoric - was more than a little odd.

Back at university the deadline to pick a final year project seems to have snuck up on everybody. Probably not helped by the lack of communication from the school, but oh well. Trying to decide what I want to do is proving tricky - trying to make sure that what I pick is achievable but still interesting enough not to alienate me if I'm doing it for a year. There's things like trying to write a program that can split Parish records into family groups - which I actually find really interesting, but may not keep me interested for the required 12 (or 6/7) months. Either way, I need to choose by Friday - so that should be interesting.

I'm still somewhat struggling with C/C++ but I feel that's more the lecture style and the content being ridiculously repetitive over 6 weeks that I've failed to become interested in it. Which is a terrible excuse, I know. Time to take some 'learn C' courses. (I found one online that's taught me about as much as Mr T.) However the security course is ridiculously interesting, and it turns out that I'm actually alright at it too - which is nice. (I say that after staring at the new assignment for an hour without any real idea how to do it).

Anyway, time to catch up with The Elimination Chamber. Shields vs Wyatts was AWESOME. As if it was ever going to be anything else. Gutted that Naomi got injured, so Cameron's filling in for her - but still, AJ!

Time to stop rambling, and time to form thoughts about the Winter Olympics and ice hockey.

Friday, 21 February 2014

Television: Chuck

Chuck ended over two years ago, but ever since that point I've put off watching the final season as I wasn't sure I could cope with it being over. Christmas 2012 (I think) saw me unwrap the box set of season five and I finally opened it up on Wednesday night. It's now Friday and I've finished; that's how good this programme is... was.

Chuck Bartowski is pretty much everything a boy like me could want to be. Spy(-ish), computer genius, somehow manages to get ridiculously attractive girlfriends who care for him a great amount. Y'know, I could deal with that kind of life! Apart from the getting shot at a lot, that might put a bit of a downer on things.

Yvonne Strahovski, who plays Sarah Walker - one of the agents assigned to protect Chuck, and her chemistry with Zachary Levi is pretty much the reason the programme works so well. Throw in the disfunctional Colonel John Casey (Adam Baldwin) and the show's main trio pretty much can't fail to win your heart and that's before Chuck's best friend, Morgan Grimes is properly integrated into the group.

I can't really say too much for fear of spoiling the show but it's among my favourite television shows - if not my favourite - and it's on Netflix right now so I would get on it. Apparently there's been talk of a movie being funded via Kickstarter and I would pledge any amount of money to make it happen. Please.

On a sidenote, I misplaced my DVDs for a bit, so I started (and finished) Thorne: Scaredycat. I can't remember how well it actually sticks to the books but it's a pretty solid detective series. Some of the acting isn't the best, and Sandra Oh with a British accent is just, not great. Definitely something worth watching, and the books are even better! It's apparently on Sky Go, and everybody has that nowadays right?

Monday, 17 February 2014

Homophobia

I've been meaning to write something like this for a while but just never really managed to find a focus for what I was trying to say. Homophobia is such a big topic that I didn't want it to just sound like rambling, but I think I may have finally actually managed to articulate what I've been trying to say.

There are a whole load of 'different types' of homophobia but most of them just involve people being morons for no good reason. One of the more common types is 'casual' homophobia, which TSN looked at in it's 'ReOrientation' three part feature. That said, some of the language in it isn't at all 'casual'. "I hate gay people" isn't casual at all, and it also looks at the myth that if you're gay you're not tough and masculine.


This, alongside The Wonder Years' lyric: "I'm not sad anymore, I'm just tired of this place. // The homophobic bullshit that's somehow okay // Just because you didn't mean it that way.", really does sum up how I feel about 'casual' homophobia. As said in the video, the way that 'gay' is thrown around would be completely inappropriate if it was said of any other group, so why are we okay with it being said about the gay community?

Then there's homophobia that's propagated by societies and cultures as being okay. I hereby direct you to Kansas House Bill 2543. Which stops people who hold a religious belief having to violate these beliefs by dealing with anything that contradicts their religion. Which, basically, could be anything but was written in response to the backlash of the perceived persecution of religious folk to do with homosexuality.

This bill gives security to any person or 'religious entity' from being able to do various things including not being required to:

(a) Provide any services, accommodations, advantages, facilities, goods, or privileges; provide counseling, adoption, foster care and other social services; or provide employment or employment benefits, related to, or related to the celebration of, any marriage, domestic partnership, civil union or similar arrangement

Over in the UK we had a similar incident when two gay men were turned away from a B&B on the grounds of the sexuality and it disagreed with the owner's religious beliefs. This was taken to the high court, who ruled in favour of the men. For some reason Kansas is going backward and would make this a perfectly okay thing to do. What struck me as incredible is that any person or 'religious entity' also doesn't have to:

(c) treat any marriage, domestic partnership, civil union or similar arrangement as valid

So, if you don't want to, you don't have to treat anybody's marriage as valid if it contradicts your own religious beliefs? How utterly ridiculous. For a religion (let's not kid ourselves, this is to mostly protect those scared white Christians) that preaches a whole load of good things - love and tolerance - how has it been so distorted into this?

It's not completely out of the question that a police officer, nurse, or doctor could refuse to help somebody based on this, and that, quite frankly, is unacceptable. Unfortunately Kansas isn't the only state doing this. Arizona's SB 1062 is trying to do a very similar thing. America, what are you doing?

While everybody's eyes are on Russia and their anti-homosexuality laws America is doing something that really isn't so different. These laws effectively give the right to discriminate against those of a different religious belief to you - and those that don't live their life by your rules, and that's not okay in the 21st century. If you feel like trying to do something then you can start by signing the petition to repeal these laws. "Legalised segregation" probably isn't such a bad way to put it.

Speaking of Russia, the laws there are archaic and ridiculous. When you have 14 year old's being punished for 'gay propaganda' then there's something seriously wrong. The culture (Lord forgive me for referencing The Daily Mail) there is sickening and it's something that we need to stop. The only good thing to come out of this is the publicity and the reactions from countries that condemn it. From Canada and Norway there have been adverts, and the US sent openly gay delegates to Sochi.

In other news there were two big announcements in the past few days recently, Michael Sam - an award winning defensemen - came out just a few months before the NFL Draft. In what could be a turning point in American Football it's going to be the first time having an openly gay player in the league. Also Ellen Page made a speech announcing she was also gay, and the amount of 'we already knew' and the like was overwhelming. I'm not sure that's the right reaction to have, - it was definitely the one that faced Tom Daley - but as long as you understand the magnitude of somebody coming out, and the courage that takes I can somewhat understand it. Finally, slightly more under-the-radar, Casey Stoney, the captain of the England's women team, made the same announcement to the BBC last week, checking Reddit made me see that there's still quite a long way to go to - and why the feminist and gay-rights movements really aren't so far apart. Equal rights for all, please.

I'm not even going to focus on those who are too far gone for reason but I would really like casual homophobia to stop.

Saturday, 8 February 2014

Life: Actually Doing Things!


So, today I'm in Aberystwyth but this week has been completely mental. Started off going to ice hockey and TNA in Birmingham - which was amazing. I've seen a couple of the One Night Only PPVs and they were alright but nothing special; this one was great though. Rockstar Spud is pretty much the best character in professional wrestling.


Then I went to Childish Gambino in Manchester with my homegirl Hannah. I've had his stuff stuck in my head for weeks now, but I love him so much. THEN, back in Birmingham - via uni - I went to Killswitch and Trivium. It's not usually what I listen to, but it was great fun. Trivium had to stop twice because of people fainting - they seemed like really cool guys which is always nice. Killswitch was excellent, and THEY PLAYED THE CM PUNK SONG so everything was cool, because everybody loves CM Punk (except WWE).

And finally, I came over to Aberystwyth - one of my favourite places - with Jonny and Josh because staying in Birmingham is too mainstream. Aber is so pretty. It's also damn windy. Such wind, much force. I have an awful habit of being incredibly obnoxious when drunk and telling people that I'm clever. Not entirely sure why I do it. So I took an awful IQ Test on the web, and turns out I'm right but I should probably stop saying it. I probably don't have a 149 IQ, but #YOLO and I believe everything I read on the internet (the last one I took said 160 so I'm rapidly going down).


Away from socialising I've been running my password cracker for security for days and days. This was just one of the test, which found one password despite running for two days. The current test has been going for 2 days, 3 hours, 29 minutes, and 23 seconds and has found fourteen, so that's something. Uni's going well, mostly. Team Project is really quite cool, and security is hella interesting. Now it might be time to actually learn something about C and Haskell and we'll be dandy!


Also I've been using my Instagram a whole lot more recently, so give me a follow.

Thursday, 6 February 2014

LIVE: Childish Gambino

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Childish Gambino’s over on our shores to play three shows – two in London (Shepherd’s Bush and KOKO) and one in Manchester (Gorilla) – unfortunately when tickets went on sale I was in my ‘I probably won’t like this’ phase, although I thought about getting one anyway (‘cause Donald Glover) but couldn’t really justify the train and hotel that it would’ve set me back. Then I discovered that ‘bino’s music is great, and luckily my friend had a ticket for Manchester that didn’t have an owner so I jumped at the chance.

In the queue girls were trying to buy tickets for £80, these were some exclusive tickets – and when inside the venue you could see why. Apparently 700 people can fit inside the walls of Gorilla, but it feels far less. A place more familiar with underground acts like that of Los Campesinos!, La Dispute, and Grouplove, than Emmy-award-winning actors. The people gathered within also looked like they’d feel far more at home at a pop-punk concert. Crowd surfers and mosh pits (terrible, terrible mosh pits) featured throughout the hour.

It’s strange seeing an overwhelmingly white crowd sing “white hood, white hood; oh KKK.” But to be fair they were mental. The aforementioned crowd-surfing and pathetic mosh pits complimented by people just going absolutely crazy. Childish wanted to make It perfectly clear that tonight’s date wasn’t to do with The Deep Web Tour (not that I know what that would mean) and just a whole load of songs that he wants to play, but did make it sound like they’d be back later with the ‘proper’ show.

There’s really not much else to say other than the fact that it was brilliant and I feel privileged to have got to witness it.  Next stop Killswitch and Trivium via trying to actually get an education!