Archive for the ‘Life’ Category

Electronic textbooks

Friday, April 20th, 2018 | Life

Academic textbook publishing seems like a right racket to me. Take the above book, for example. It’s an electronic textbook in Leeds Beckett’s collection. You’ll notice they have three copies. It’s electronic, but they have presumably had to buy three copies to allow multiple people to read it at once.

Coriander seeds

Tuesday, April 10th, 2018 | Life

The Schartz herbs and spices bottles are better than the Sainsbury’s ones. They’re taller and thinner, meaning that you can fit more of them within the same shelf space. The labels on the top are also clear.

But the Sainsbury’s ones are cheaper. And, in any case, Sainsbury’s have refused to stock the Schwartz ones anymore because they want people to buy their own brand ones. So, I buy the Sainsbury’s ones and re-fill my Schwartz bottle.

What is odd, though, is that Schwartz sell 20g bottles and Sainsbury’s sell 25g bottles. But, when you tip the 25g of Sainsbury’s coriander seeds into the 20g Schwartz bottle, they all fit in.

Introducing Rent A Goat

Sunday, April 1st, 2018 | Life

Are you looking for an eco-friendly way to remove weeds from your garden or land? Then look no further than Rent A Goat.

Stephen Hawking, 1942-2018

Friday, March 16th, 2018 | Life

Farewell Stephen Hawking. You were the greatest skateboarder I ever knew.

We went to Flamingo Land, and we were the only people there

Sunday, March 11th, 2018 | Life

If you have watched Scooby-Doo, you will no doubt have seen one of them any episodes set in an abandoned theme park. If you have ever wondered what it would be like to be in such a place in real life, you might want to visit Flamingo Land in winter. Because we had the entire place to ourselves.

How did this happen?

As part of taking Elina away for her birthday, I booked tickets to the zoo. It sounded ideal: the theme park half of Flamingo Land shuts in the winter, so the tickets are cheaper and nobody who enjoys theme parks bothers attending. As people who just want to go to the zoo bit, this was perfect.

Then, the Beast from the East hit. The roads were near impassible and the temperature was below freezing.

We went anyway. But nobody else did.

Literally nobody. Except for the staff. We spoke to a lot of the zookeepers, who were happy to talk to us given there was nobody else there, all of whom informed us that we were the only customers in the park.

Animal encounter

We started by feeding the giraffes. I was worried that the giraffe would eat me but the zookeeper assured me that it hasn’t eaten anyone to date. That’s the way I would lull humans into a false sense of security if I were a giraffe, though.

They have very long and dexterous tongues that they use to take the food out of your hands.

Lots of animals

Despite the cold weather, we got to see lots of animals. The rhino sheds were open, the birds and the Wallabies were out, even the camels and lemurs came out briefly for a look around. Despite the penguins being from South America, and therefore not used to the snow, they came out for a quick swim, too.

We caught a couple of feeding times including the tigers, who seemed to enjoy the snow, and the red pandas, who seemed unphased by it, too.

The Beast from the East

Saturday, March 10th, 2018 | Life

When the Finnish military does operations, the enemy always comes from the east. Nobody is saying that a specific country is that enemy, it just happens to come from that direction. Just like now, when nobody is saying that the horrible weather is a punishment by god for the way Russia treats gay people. Even though we all know it is.

It’s been pretty heavy. Although I’m not sure I agree that it’s been heavier than anyone can remember. Take a look at the snow in 2013, 2009 and 2008, for example.

And, as usual, the country grinds to a halt because that’s more cost-effective than paying for all of the things we would need to carry on.

Does the snow really stop us?

Whether we really need such as grind is questionable, though. Schools across Yorkshire closed. Venla’s daycare closed. Many offices, including Univar and Sky closed.

But why?

University remained open. I went to all of my lectures and lab sessions. The Edge remained open, too, and all of my exercises classes were still on. I even went swimming thinking I would have a quiet pool and found it just as busy as normal. It feels like an odd parallel world where half the people are panicking and the other half are just getting on with life with absolutely no disruption.

How about travelling

Travelling is one area where the snow can get in the way. But it doesn’t always have to stop you.

I had booked a night away for Elina and me to celebrate her birthday. A lovely country hotel in the Yorkshire Moors. Of course, then this happened.

It should have been an hour and a half’s drive. We set off up the A1, got all the way to the A170, up Sutton Bank and then, just 14 miles from our destination, found the police had closed the road. So, we had to come back down the A19, across to the A64, up the A169 and over the A170 in the other direction.

This turned the entire journey into three and a half hours of driving.

A massive pain in the ass. But we made it, in a little two-wheel drive Astra with regular tyres on.

A dip in the pool

And if there was any remaining doubt that normal activities can be accomplished during snow, here is Elina and me taking a swim in the outdoor pool.

To be fair, it was a heated pool. The heating wasn’t working properly, so it was colder than it should have been, but still not the frozen block it would have been without the heating.

Car Wars

Thursday, March 8th, 2018 | Life

I was in a furniture shop in South Leeds called SLATE last week. They had a selection of media available for sale, too, including some VHS cassettes. Such as this one, featuring “over 130 spectacular crashes”.

I don’t know how anyone can look a this and not think about Alan Partridges “Crash! Bang! Wallop! What a video!”

My beautiful camera is in pieces

Wednesday, March 7th, 2018 | Life

I’ve used DSLRs for a decade now, including my 6D for five years. In that time, I’ve never had an accident with it. That is, until now.

I was out filming on a windy day and I didn’t put enough weight on the tripod. The wind caught it and over it went, lens first.

Luckily, it was nowhere as bad as it could have been. I put a UV filter on the front of all of my lenses in an attempt to protect them. It worked: the filter smashed but the lens underneath it surprised. So, a quick repair at the local camera shop, a new UV filter and a new lens hood and the camera was as good as new.

What should we learn from this? Weight your tripod and make sure you have a filter on the front of your lens, even if it is only there for protection.

2018: What’s on my agenda?

Monday, February 19th, 2018 | Life

The so-called new year is a pretty arbitrary deadline that evolved from a series of long-dead popes. Still, as arbitrary deadlines go, it is a great chance to regroup and take stock of what’s been going on and what we want to achieve in the next solar rotation.

Of course, it’s now the middle of February. So, I’m going to stop thinking and finally publish this.

Be better at business

I declared that 2017 was my year of marketing and I have learnt a lot about building sales funnels, capturing leads and building an audience. But none of it has been hugely successful and certainly not good enough to provide a real income.

Part of the problem is that I’m struggling to engage with step one: build what people want, not what you want them to want. So, I’m going to double down on this.

Finish my master’s degree

By the middle of last month, I felt like giving up. My grades have not met my own personal standard, and while there is a queue of people telling me that a merit (the equivalent of a 2:1) is a great grade to have, it doesn’t feel like it. Especially now Venla is here. There are standards to be set: there is no award for coming second in the Nobel Prize voting. Or, worst still, settling for winning a non-natural science-based prize.

But I don’t like giving up and that certainly wouldn’t set a good example, even if we would be a lot richer. And I’m excited about my dissertation, or, at least, motivated to get on with it.

Triathlon & fitness

Last year felt like a pretty slow year for fitness. Sure, I smashed my 5km, 10km and half marathon times, but it all felt a bit like business as usual. This year, I’m taking things up a gear. A bit of business as usual two: aiming for a sub-2 hour half marathon, but also looking at longer distances and continuing my move over to triathlon.

Never trust Google Maps

Tuesday, February 13th, 2018 | Life

On a previous ride to Eccup Resoviour, Google Maps took me on a “public footpath” that was more bog than path and involved me having to shoulder my bike over several fences.

Yet, even this experience, did not prepare me for that happened when I asked Google Maps to route me from Guiseley to Apperley Bridge. The road seemed to be a farm lane. Then a dirt track. Then this:

But it gets worse. After I had traversed this valley of rubble, I then had to ford a river.

I checked to see if I could tell Google Maps to avoid routing me on public footpaths and keep to actual, real roads. But there isn’t.

It’s really a poor experience on their part. On my Garmin sat nav, I can view the map without inputting a destination, and it will automatically move the vehicle and re-centre the map as I drive. Google Maps won’t let me do that, either.