Back soon. But in the meantime…

24 August, 2007

Giant Lego Man found in Dutch Sea. And other similarly exciting things.

13 August, 2007

I’ve just found this via someone else’s page. Giant Lego Man story on Reuters. It’s wonderfully random and absurd 🙂

“AMSTERDAM (Reuters) – A giant, smiling Lego man was fished out of the sea in the Dutch resort of Zandvoort on Tuesday.

Workers at a drinks stall rescued the 2.5-metre (8-foot) tall model with a yellow head and blue torso.

“We saw something bobbing about in the sea and we decided to take it out of the water,” said a stall worker. “It was a life-sized Lego toy.”

A woman nearby added: “I saw the Lego toy floating towards the beach from the direction of England.”

The toy was later placed in front of the drinks stall.

It’s hard to know how to follow that, but I’ll try… Running is still going well. I ran for about 40 minutes on both Thursday and Friday–on roads, but needs must–took Saturday off and then spent more than 2 hours in the woods on Sunday. I’m sure I must have run for at least 90 minutes, and because it was cold and wet it was exhilarating and enjoyable. I remembered to take a camera at last.

The woods

The dunes

Today I ran at lunch again: about 30 minutes, on roads. I entered a series of trail races in the Lakes late last year, but I didn’t actually attend the first two. I think there are three left, though, in September, October and November. I’m not sure I’ll be fit enough for the September race–in fact, I’m sure I won’t be–but I hope to do the other two.

I watched an amazing documentary last night: Born into Brothels. It’s about a group of children living in a brothel in Calcutta–they’re the children of the prostitutes working there–and the efforts of an English photographer to teach them to photograph their surroundings and, later, once she’d become close to them, to offer them hope of escape in the form of education. Despite just about every conceivable material and, in many cases, emotional disadvantage, they turned out to be a lively, enthusiastic, vigourous, talented, thoughtful and engaging group of children, and yet more evidence of the way in which some people whose lives are a constant struggle manage to seize upon the good rather than focus on the bad.


I also watched Russell Crowe in Cinderella Man. He’s so nice to look at, and such a truly amazing actor:)

My new 3/4 length Insul-Mat Max Thermo mattress arrived today from Australia. I’m looking forward to trying it out, and I’m also planning to get a PhD Minimus Vest in their sale, which starts this coming Saturday. The PhD sales are fantastic value, and if I could justify a new sleeping bag I’d be getting one there.

Well, that’s probably about it for now. I must reply to some comments tomorrow–I’m just as hopeless at doing that as ever. I decided that if I didn’t post something, though, I might never post here again, so here it is.

Meanwhile, the final word today goes to Monorail Cat. Heheh….

Monorail Cat (has left the station)

Wednesday evening: worked, ran, watched Murderball, read Housefics, posted Bloopers fanvid, blah…

8 August, 2007

I ran for 40 minutes at lunchtime. It was extremely hot, but I was wearing my Icebreaker long-sleeved merino wool top. That’s because I forgot to look out of the window before I went to get changed, and wrongly thought it was overcast. Not the smartest piglet on the block, eh… anyway, suffice it to say that I was utterly wiped out and panting by the end, which wasn’t really v. good.

Made grilled chicken with a sort of tikka/yoghurt marinade for dinner, with a huge salad. Yum 🙂 Booths (a supermarket) has some really great things in the salad department, especially some great sprouting things and some particularly delicious organic cucumbers. I love salad. I just wish I didn’t love crisps too!

I’ve just watched a documentary — Murderball — which is about the US paralympic rugby team, and their battle with the Canadian team at the 2004 Paralympic Games. Wow… this made every other rough game I’ve ever seen look like table tennis! Most of the team had been injured in car crashes, but one (possibly two) had contracted meningitis. One had had childhood polio. It was truly inspiring, and a great and hopefully lasting reminder not to take my body for granted.

Not sure of the plan for the rest of the evening, but some sort of farting around followed by an early night, I think. I find that I can’t manage to read in bed these days because 5 minutes after I get in I’m falling asleep. It’s actually pretty irritating. When I was a child/teenager I could read all night in bed, and it’s not as though I was slouching around doing nothing during the day. Sigh… must be old age I suppose *g*

Lemme see… I wonder whether there are any House fans out there. I spent some time earlier checking up on House_Wilson, which is a community over on Livejournal where the House/Wilson writers, vidders, artists and readers hang out. I’ve discovered fan fiction in the last year. It turns out that there are people who write stories about established fictional characters and post them on the internet. (They used to distribute them in magazines, but the net’s made it all much easier.) I stumbed across some accidentally, and initially assumed it would be terrible stuff, but I stopped to take a look and in fact some of it is absolutely excellent! There’s an amazing amount of this stuff around, in what are known as fandoms. People who do this sort of stuff tend not to talk about fannish things to others, though, because it sounds sort of naff. I don’t care, though, and have always been v. much in favour of retaining an open mind, so I’m spreading the word *g*

Anyway, as well as writing there’s vidding, which is taking clips from an episode and setting them to music — a song or whatever. Here’s the vid I made out of the Blooper Reel on the House Series 2 DVD set 🙂 Okay, so I’m a sad, naff addict, but it’s a lot of fun and now I can make videos and write fanfics as well as stagger round the woods and haul myself up mountains. Heh…


Walking kit – big changes made to what I carry, in the space of a few short years

8 August, 2007

I’m sitting around having brekky, reading my way steadily through Alan Sloman’s wonderful LeJog Blog and thinking about kit. Reading about a poor accommodation guide that Alan enountered reminded me of my own experience of the appalling Pennine Way accommodation guide, and I nipped over to my PW pages to re-read about it. There I noticed a link to a page setting out the kit I carried on the walk, including a photo I took of all of it at the YH in Keld. See here for the grizzly details…

When I set off on the PW in August 2004 I’d never previously carried a tent along a long walk. I’d done the Coast to Coast walk a couple of times, but I’d used B&B. I spent about 3 weeks asking frenzied questions on uk.rec.walking first, and then I set off. I was so disorganised that I only learned that my rucksack wouldn’t hold what I needed to take at 4am of the morning I was supposed to start, and so I had to go back to bed, buy a new rucksack later in the day and start a day later instead *g* Happy days!

Anyway, looking at that picture reminds me of the very significant changes I’ve made since then, and the extent to which they’ve made my backpacking life very much easier. In fact, and looking at it again, I think the only things I took then that I’m still carrying are (i) my Primus Micron stove, (ii) my MSR titanium kettly thing, (iii) my Silva compass, (iv) my Garmink Geko 201 GPS and (v) my Ortlieb mapcase.

The most significant changes involved:

  • a newer, smaller, lighter sleeping bag;
  • a lighter and more comfortable rucksack;
  • revising my washkit to fit in the smallest Exped stuffsack;
  • MP3 players have got smaller;
  • I don’t now carry 4 books at a time;
  • I’d probably take Anquet print-outs rather than maps;
  • I don’t currently carry a flask (though sometimes I miss it, and in winter I still might);
  • I don’t carry sandals now (thought I do keep thinking about it);
  • smaller, lighter and infinitely more comfortable sleeping mat, and
  • a different range of clothing.

I plan to write a new kit page for my website soon — the existing one needs to be revised. There are few things more fun than thinking about backpacking kit 🙂

Heh… a quick dash across to I can Has Cheezburger? produced this.

I Duz Yoga Ta Relax

Hello, backpacking pals :) (& run in the woods) (& amazing ST TOS slashvid!)

7 August, 2007

That cunning Alan Sloman somehow sniffed me out here, and now I’ve had messages from a bunch of pals I’ve not been in contact with for more-or-less a year! It’s lovely to be welcomed back so very warmly – thank you all 😀

I’m now drooling over peepses blogs, all of them enormously sophisticated and filled with things that I’ve not yet managed to create here, like lists of links separate from lists of blogs. Perhaps I need to learn CSS??? *wee shudderlet*

*back to drooling over peepses blogs*


I drove down to the woods this evening and ran for about 40 minutes. It’s still quite lovely in there, and fully of heady sights and scents. I’ve seen what I think must be a pair of buzzards almost each time I’ve been down there recently, and off the beaten tracks. It would be nice to get a bit closer. I’m not sure what they are, exactly, but apparently there are both honey buzzards and common buzzards around. Also, about a year ago my father and I saw some extremely large bird of prey from his garden. It was high in the sky over the woods/beach area, and circling in the updrafts. I’ve no idea what that was either, but really we both felt that it must be enormous! Maybe they’re hiding golden eagles in the pinewoods?…

[Later still…]

I’ve learned all sorts of surprising things in the last 9 months or so about fandom ‘slash’ i.e. people writing stories/making videos/drawing pictures etc of characters from television/books/films in same-sex relationships. It turns out that many regard Kirk/Spock as having been the first truly slashy relationship! Well, my head spun a bit at that, because I was a true addict when I was a child and I didn’t notice anything slashy going on there. Well, not unless it involved Captain Kirk and sabres and stuff. Anyway, here’s an amazing fanvid chronicling the Kirk/Spock thingy. I’m posting it because it’s so bizarre that it makes me laugh. Beware, though: a few of the words to the accompanying song are rather graphic, so if you dislike swear words (and are still reading) then best give it a miss 🙂 Otherwise, sit back and prepare to be amazed!

Weird Al – more LOLZ!

7 August, 2007

I dunno whether you’ve come across Weird Al at all, but I’ve just been browsing around my fave YouTube vids and came across this one.

Weird Al – Amish Paradise

Ooh 😦 It doesn’t allow embedding any more, but if you go to YouTube and put ‘Weird Al Amish Paradise’ in the search box it’ll come straight up.


I Can Has Cheezburger? – lol :)

7 August, 2007

I already loved this site, and was happily surprised to find it’s on WordPress. It’s full of cat piccies with funny captions, and wee recurring jokeys. Here’s one from today, for instance 🙂


Then there’s this one too 🙂

Oh NOEZ!!1! pleea close teh space hatch!

If you’ve got a minute or two spare at some time, and feel like a grin, then go and take a look. There’s a link in my Blogroll (see right hand margin). Beware, though: last time I went over for a couple of minutes I stayed an hour…

Irritating – can’t seem to make a list of non-blog links – plus a bit of running

6 August, 2007

I’ve spent ages playing around with the widgets in the customisation part but I can’t seem to find a way to make a list of links, other than a list of links to other blogs. That’s a little irritating, since WordPress insists on calling the list of blogs the ‘Blogroll’, and I don’t want non-blogs in my Blogroll since… well, they’re not blogs! Maybe I’m missing something…

I ran about 5 miles at lunchtime on roads. I don’t like running on roads, but I’ll put up with it to get the miles in during the week. I felt pretty tired, slow and useless: it’s much easier in the woods, although it’s quite hilly there.

Documentary – Jesus Camp: “Had it been in the old testament, Harry Potter would have been put to death.”

6 August, 2007

I’m just watching a 2006 documentary – “Jesus Camp”. It’s about evangelical Christians in the USA, and the way in which they train their children to become evangelical Christians. In particular, it’s about a summer camp run in Kansas by a woman called Becky Fischer. Having seen the way that extremist Muslims train their own children to die and murder in the name of Islam, she’s apparently been inspired to train Christian children to die and murder in the name of Christ. She’s filmed saying:

“It’s no wonder, with that kind of intense training and disciplining, that those young people are ready to kill themselves for the cause of Islam. I wanna see young people who are as committed to the cause of Jesus Christ as the young people are to the cause of Islam. I wanna see them as radically laying down their lives for the Gospel as they are over in Pakistan and Israel and Palestine and all those different places, you know, because we have… excuse me, but we have the truth!”

Has she not realised that people killing themselves in the name of Islam are doing so specifically in order to kill others? Or did she think that if she left that part out people would be too thick to notice, or too self-delusional to acknowledge it? I find it mind-boggling, terrifying stuff.

I’ve just watched her speaking about Harry Potter. She said:

“Warlocks are enemies of God. Had it been in the old testament, Harry Potter would have been put to death.”

She was shaking with righteous anger as she said it, and small children around the room echoed her words when she’d spoken them. It was absolutely chilling.

The documentary shows the zealots teaching the children to behave violently by smashing mugs with hammers: “in the name of righteous government”. Hysteria is also encouraged, so the children are expected to cry as they do it, and when they smash their mugs the rest of the congregation cheers and ‘speaks in tongues’. By the end of the evening, all the children were crying (it was clearly required), and a small girl — who when interviewed earlier had said that when she grew up she’d like to be a nail/beauty technician because it would give her an opportuntity to try to convert people who were feeling relaxed — cried, and raised her small fist into the air, sobbing, “and we proclaim the Lion of Judah.” And this is meant to be a healthy way for children to behave?

Towards the end of the documentary, Pastor Ted Haggard was filmed addressing a congregation at the New Life Church in Colorado Springs, a huge building. He’s apparently president of the National Association of Evangelicals, representing 30 million people in the States. It was stated by the documentary makers that he speaks to President Bush and his advisors every Monday.

Pastor Haggard told the congregation that they didn’t need to discuss what to think about “homosexual activity” because, “it’s written in the bible,”. He then emphasised the importance of settling a “few core beliefs” within the country in order to guarantee their freedom, and after that he invited the congregation to pray for President Bush. (Earlier in the documentary, an assistant at the children’s camp had been filmed waving a cardboard cut-out of President Bush around and urging the children to speak to it and applaud it.)

Pastor Haggard was then interviewed. He explained how they give the children a message that the children love to hear, and that it’s very different from that given out by the public schools i.e. “So while the public school’s telling them they’re animals, they’re the product of natural selection, we tell them, “God loves you. God’s created you. You have a purpose in life.” I mean the kids are… just loving it!”

He concluded: “And so… so it’s an awful lot of people and we’re growing. Churches like this? There’s a new church like this every 2 days in America. It’s got enough growth to essentially sway every election. If the evangelicals vote, they determine the election.”

Meanwhile, the British labour government is introducing the concept of creationism/intelligent design into our schools, which is the first step towards brain-washing British children in a similar fashion.

I’ve believed for some time now that the government should in fact outlaw all religious schools in this country. What’s now happening with the evangelical Christian right is an illustration of precisely why.

Run in the woods/new tarp arrives

5 August, 2007

I woke up early and finally got up about 8am for a run in the woods. This is the start of my second week back running – about 6 weeks after re-dumping the evil cigarettes – and I’m actually enjoying it this time, which isn’t typical for me.

It was a lovely sunny morning, and I got to the woods about 0845. I’m currently investigating some new trails, but because this was a weekend run I wanted it to last for at least an hour, so I ran up the little hill first and went through the woods onto the main trail, and then took a prohibited path back in a little further along.

It was really beautiful in there: pine needles underfoot, lots of flowers and butterflies, beams of sunshine descending through the tops of the trees to the undergrowth etc etc. There were also a few large blusher toadstools — the first fungi I’ve seen in there for months — and the trails passed a number of very peaceful and attractive natterjack breeding ponds. I’d wanted to take the camera, but (i) I’d not charged it, and (ii) I’m not sure where the camera belt carrying thingy is. I’ll take it next weekend, which probably guarantees rain.

I stopped for a good stretch two or three times, and explored a number of different paths. I was fairly tired by the end, but I think I probably ran for about 75 minutes: maybe a little longer. I was listening to Master & Commander (read by Patrick Tull, of course), which is just as wonderful second time round.

I had another good stretch at the end. I was amazed to find when I started running again towards the end of last year that proper stretching did away with all pain and stiffness in my legs very quickly. Happily, the same thing seems to be happening again. I try to stop for a stretch about 5 minutes into a run (once my legs have had a chance to warm up) and then I stretch properly at the end. On a longer run I might stop more than once: it’s a chance for a breather as well, of course.

Back at the car I ate an apple and drove to Tescos for some bits and pieces (which included my post-run Sunday treat of pain au chocolate (okay, so I ate two…)). Yum 🙂 I then ran the car through the car wash and washed it again by hand at home. It was truly disgusting: it must be well over 6 months since I last washed it. After that I took it back to the garage and gave it a thorough cleaning/hoovering inside. Now it looks lovely 🙂 I then tidied up my sitting room — long overdue. That also looks great.

Now I feel relaxed and virtuous, and I’m about to watch Music & Lyrics.

My Solo Tarp arrived from Bob and Rose at earlier in the week and I can hardly wait to use it. I’ve also ordered a new 3/4 length mattress. It’s coming from Australia, but they were very fast last time. I hope to use them both in the Brecons next weekend with Bob and some of the podcasting bunch. It’ll be great fun to get out again: I’m v. much looking forward to it. It’ll also be my first experience of bivvying since Uni.