Archive for November, 2007

London Baby!

November 28th, 2007 No comments

After the mania of Atheist Week finishing the night before, Friday started with me rising early to make sure that Liz and I were all ready to leave for the A-Soc trip to London. We met up with Jack at the university before heading down to Park Row Wetherspoons for a society breakfast. We met Chris there, who following a bit of a rough morning was a littl frought, and planned to meet Moz at the Bus Station. After a quite good breakfast we wandered down to catch our bus. Half the group was getting the 12:30 bus and the others, namely Sarann, Michelle and Charlie, were catching the 15:45 bus die to lectures.

The bus got us into London for about 5pm and we grabbed a quick bite in McDonald’s before getting the tube up to King’s Cross – where we trudged the five minute walk down Gray’s Inn Road to Ashlee House, the hostel we were staying at. The hostel was not a five star resort, the facilities were basic but the atmosphere was friendly. The room was adequate to our needs – bed, linen and a lockable door. In the end, most of us didn’t actually spend that much time in the hostel.

Friday night saw us head into Camden to visit Sin City at the Electric Ballroom. It was a shame to see that even after 11pm when we arrived the club was barely half full and didn’t get much fuller. Most of us then proceeded to get a little drunk, especially Liz and Michelle who subsequently needed carrying home. Who would have thought that the mile or so walk from Camden Town to King’s Cross would have taken well over an hour?!

Saturday morning was quite difficult for many of us. I had a stinking hangover and I was not the only one. Jack, Chris and I managed to force ourselves up and at them to go and visit the Ethical Society’s Library. I had spent quite a lot of time plannign and organising this visit, but unfortunately Jennifer, the head librarian, failed to turn up and give us our tour. AFter an hour or so we decided to move on in search of something more exciting. We ended up lunching in Holburn. The restaurant of choice turned out to be ‘The Ultimate Burger’. We were all a little intrigued to see if the burgers on offer were inf act The Ultimate. Jack went for a satay based burger, Chris a minted lamb burger and I went for the Sunday roast burger – basically a burger with Yorkshire pudding! Now, although the burgers were good they were not the ultimate! I expect a certain je ne sais pas to my ulitmate food and these burgers were tasty, filling and not ridiculously priced they did not leave me gasping, or vowint to return.

We had planned a trip the natural history museum is Kensington but due to the fact that there were engineering works on the Picadilly line, and Arsenal home game and a million people seeimingly wanting to use the tube station at once we gave up on that idea. The mysterious forces of nature then seemed to deposit the three of us on the steps of the British Museum. I have never actually visited this famous museum, but have often been intrigued by the exhibits it contains – such as the massive collection from Egypt and the current visiting exhibition of China’s Terracotta Army. The building itself was incredible, the massive front, the breathtaking interior simply left me speechless. The materials and colelctions inside are equally impressive,d espite a crippling hangover I still managed over two hours looking round. I had to leave to get some air, but Jack and Chris spent a further few hours in there.

Due to the crowds, both in the museum and in the tube station, it was getting past 3pm by the time returned to the hostel. This gave me a few minutes to get ready for the theatre. Sarann, Michelle, Charlie, Liz and I had tickets for the 39 Steps in the West End. The play was based on the novel and film of the same name, but was remade into a rather slapstick comic version. I wan to sure I was going to like it from the programme notes but by the end the incredible acting and wonderful direction had my crying with laughter and applauding on instinct.

Saturday’s dinner wa sa disaster. We ended up at a 50s themed american diner come nightclub. Not the sort of place I would normally frequent, but it was passable int erms of atmosphere and setting. However, the meal stank! We had to send two drinks back, one main course and then I had to complain about the service. All in all it was one of the ost disappointing and stressful meals of my life!

The excesses of Friday night were starting to take their toll, so an evening of Father Ted and an early night were the order of the day.

In my opinion Sunday was the most successful day of the trip in terms of an A-Soc agenda. We had to check out the hostel by 10am, which meant that we were late (in our minds) to Speaker’s Corner in Hyde Park. When we arrived there was an Imman plugging a socialist agenda without much reference to Islam. There was some speculation that we had missed the speakers but right on queue a lady started claiming we were being judged by god – although what god she was talking about remains unclear to me even now – and how we must all return to our racial homelands. There was a preacher who called Chris and I qualified unbelievers and then started spouting homophobia. What really made the morning were the satirists – the people that took the mickey out of the main speakers! Due to growling stomachs, Chris, Jack, Liz and I headed to McDonald’s on Oxford Street for some lunch. We then spent the afternoon wandering down Oxford Street.

The weekend finished with us collecting our luggage and cathcing the bus home at 20:30.

A good weekend that I am going to be recovering from for a few days yet!

Atheist Week, Interrupted

November 22nd, 2007 No comments

Today I missed my alarm and ended up sleeping through our lunchtime A-Soc event – God of Emotions, something that I would never normally do. Now I do not want to excuse this by bringing up my sleeping problems, but I must admit that they probably played a part. A lot of people have made comments about my post on not sleeping (check out the Facebook page) and suggested a variety of ways to cope with the sleep pattern disruption. I am touched to see that so many people are concerned about my well being, a feeling that I have not always been privy to, and is on of the reasons that I maintain that the years spent at university are the best of one’s life, not school.

Just as a quick follow up to the last post I would like to say a few things. Firstly, insomnia is a condition that has plagued my teenage years, a condition that I pretty much could write the book on regarding cures and remedies. I think that over the years I have probably tried every known trick in the book to improve the quality and quantity of my sleep. I have come to the conclusion that whatever method you choose you have to accept the fact that it will work some of the time and not at others. I find that when trying say reading, or meditating you can get stressed about the fact you are not falling asleep and then you can’t fall asleep.

Anyway, back on topic, as I want to continue to talk about Atheist Week. Yesterday was the final day of Riley Smith activity and I thought it went OK, but not great. We only got a few people to come to Ask An Atheist (our give it a go session) but we got some realy good discussion going. The same happened at our evening debate on the positive and negative influence that Richard Dawkins has had on atheist thinking and actions. Although we never really came to a conclusion on that topic we delved quite deeply into what is faith and religion and whether we can ever really answer the philosophical questions we raise without them. All in all, I thought that this, along with Gijsbert’s talk yesterday were the highlights so far. Jerry Springer: The Opera is being shown tonight in Roger Stevens (LT23, 1900 if you are interested).

Then its London!

Late night pondering

November 21st, 2007 No comments

The time now is 03:19 and I am struggling to motivate myself to go to bed, even though there is a Liz in it – true she is sleeping off a rather heavy night out with George. It seems to be a recurring issue this sleep pattern thing. This must be the third night in a row I have slept badly or not at all.

I am trying to put my finger on the cause and I am finding it difficult to find a good reason. Sometimes I putit down to stress – which just isn’t really a reason, I am not that stressed. yes I am busy, but not stressed, not really. Then there is anxiety about money etc, but I’m not broke – poor but not broke. So who knows…

Atheist Week

November 21st, 2007 No comments

It is here, the long awaited return of a week long A-Soc event, Atheist Week.

Atheist Week is basically the slightly less hardcore version of Rationalist week (see posts here, here and here) but with a slightly more relaxed agenda. We were aiming for a cosy, intimate feel in the Riley Smith Hall, maybe attracting larger crowds for the main events. I think it is going ok so far, although we seem to be very quiet between events. The events themselves though seem to be quite successful. The two evening events so far have pulled a decent crowd – especially Gijsbert’s discussion on the problems with agnosticism.

I am hoping that the next few days work out equally as well. We have a couple of big events left to do – a debate on the influence of Richard Dawkins (in which I am speaking) and a screening of the contraversial Jerry Springer: The Opera.

So, if any one is in Leeds tomorrow or Thursday then check it out.


November 9th, 2007 No comments

AMF Bowling in Leeds city centre was the venue of the first circle event in a while. Maths Chris organised it fairly last minute but it was still a pretty good turn-out. I think there were ten of us down there by the end. I didn’t bowl becasue if my ankle and Worfolk turned up a bit late but all in all it was a really good night. Si summed it uo best by reminding us all that we weren’t there for the bowling really, it was just a side show.

Thanks to Maths Chris for putting it all together and thanks to everyone who made the effort to come, reminded us that we do have a pretty decent set of friends here in sunny (or windy and rainy) Leeds.


November 8th, 2007 No comments

It has been a while since I have suffered from insomnia – several months in fact. Recently I have been sleeping really badly, not usually having trouble falling asleep but real problems staying asleep for more than an hour or so at a time. This isn’t too bad in terms of productivity etc as it doesn’t make you tired, just you never really feel refreshed for sleeping. However, it is currently 6.57am and I have not slept since about 5am Wednesday morning. Insomnia is truly awful experience. It isn’t an excuse for staying up late – most insomniacs crave sleep, they actually want to be asleep – they just can’t fall asleep. It is usually a psychological problem – associated with stress or depression, but can be physical – usually a response to sugar or caffeine and even alcohol. I think my current bout of insomnia is a little silly to be honest. I am not really stressed at the moment, in fatc things are going rather well. There could be an element of delayed reaction though. I have had to be strong recently and this could be my body’s revenge.

Whatever the cause it is annoying to say the least. I have lectures soon and I will be in no fit state to learn. Having watched an episode of Brainiac recently on this matter it is apparently better to be tired than wired – ie it is best if I don’t dose up on coffee :P

Another day, another problem.

November 7th, 2007 No comments

Last night my hard drive failed. The second hard drive in six months to roll over. Well technically this is the same drive that rolled over last time, so really I should have expected it. The first time round the Windows installation was affected by a damagaed disk surface – or so I thought, but after a re-install and a few weeks of messing about I managed to recover the disk. This time it is a total failure, so a new hard drive is currently winging its way from Ebuyer (many thanks to my sponsor, Liz :) ).

Unfortunately, the hard drive that failed was my windows install drive and I don’t want to install windows on my second hard drive. So until the new disk arrives I am stuck using my linux box for everything. Now I like linux – it is easy to use and definitely the most intuitive system I have come across (I use Ubuntu 7.04 (for desktop) at the moment) but it does have several drawbacks. First the chess game AI is far too difficult. I am a good chess player and struggle to beat the computer on Easy and Medium. The other fault is its incompatibility with modern games. It is a bind to install them and then it’s a lottery as to whether they will even run. This wouldn’t normally be a problem for me as I tend to only use my linux machine for programming and other work related things. However, in the current situation it is annoying – especially as our internet keeps going down!

Anyway, my new disk should be here today so hopefully I will be back up and running by tonight.

Weekend is over, back to work now.

November 4th, 2007 No comments

Tomorrow is Monday and although it is technically half-term (or reading week) my to-do list is getting on to several sheets of paper long and some of the contents I would definitely rather put off for a little longer.

The main tasks though are making sure I am up to date with coursework and a few other administrative jobs such as confirming everything for London trip and ensuring that my CompSoc tasks are all written off by close of business Monday.

I start back at work this week too, probably Wednesday if all goes well. So at least the money will be rolling in again if nothing else.

Anyways, driving Liz back home today and going to check out the grand re-opening of the Chequers, the until recently dormant village pub in Potterhanworth. Should be fun.

Lancashire Hotpots

November 3rd, 2007 No comments

During a routine trawl of YouTube I came across a really funny vodeo about Emos. It is performed by a band calle dhte Lancashire Hotpots a pop-folk band from Lancashire (the clue is in the name). I have posted the spoof video as done by a YouTube user involving Lego figures as I think it adds a special something to the song – not taking anything away from the band’s actual video release.

Anyway, take a look and I believe the single is available from iTunes.

Domesticated Weekend!

November 3rd, 2007 No comments

Due to the fact that I can’t walk more than five steps without suffering intolerable pain or falling over due to my massive lack of skill in using crutches I haven’t been out much the last few days. Instead I have stayed in and generally done bugger all. Apart from a really productive day on Wednesday where I managed to nail lots of coursework and sort out my life pretty well I just have not acheived very much. However, I have just finished two really lovely days with Liz and have two days left before she heads back to Lincoln to start her new, full time job.

She arrived Wednesday night after work in the middle of our banging Hallowe’en party consisting of Michelle, George, Chris W, Chris O and Cara. We didn’t hang around for too long but grabbed some pizza and went to watch a film we had been intrigued by – a 1970s film called Island of Death. I am not sure what to make of it really, it is bizarre. I recommend that people watch it.

Thursday was a werid old day. We were in bed til the afternoon (something I haven’t done for a long long time) and then went shopping! This involved many firsts – namely it was the first time I have been able to get ina car and drive since injuring my ankle, the first time I have stepped into a Primark store since I discovered its record and policy on chiild labour and labour rights, the first time Liz has gone shopping and only bought what she needed and the first time I have enjoyed something as mundane as shopping in a very long while. It was really quite something to spend some normal, quality time with Liz for a change.

Except for a slight interruption in proceedings due to a minor emergency with a friend, Friday went swimmingly too. Everybody was out all day so Liz and I enjoyed a really domesticated, quiet Friday night in. Food, tea and Jonathan Ross – nothing is better! Friday night television is actually getting pretty decent again. From 9pm you have “Have I Got News For You” followed by “The Armstrong and Miller Show” – a sketch show that is surprisingly original and funny, one to look out for – and then “QI”. I have to grudgingly agree with Chris Worfolk’s observations that it is starting to lose some of its originality to be replaced by gimmicks etc.

After watching the horrendous Jimmy Carr present a quiz show celebrating the 25 year history of Channel 4 we headed to bed.

Domestic Bliss!