Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Talk of the way they saw him last, Local boy in the photograph

I really enjoy taking photos and I have been using Flickr to upload photos that I want to share on my blog. I have been using the free account but this does come with several limitations, mainly an upload limit of 20MB a month and limits on creating photosets. To counterset the upload limit I have been reducing the size and quality of the photos before I upload them, and so I get more for my 20MB.

Because of this I have just signed up for the Flickr Pro account which costs $24.95 (£14.45) per year which isn't really that much and it will mean I can back-up all my photos at high quality.

I've now got to go through the task of uploading ALL my photos......

After seeing the streaming fencing video over at the Ultimate Olympian's I signed up to YouTube.com but hadn't really used it.

Whilst scouring my desktop and giving it a bit of a clean up I have used Youtube.com to upload a few videos. Check 'em out.

[me breakdancing at Andy Q's stag weekend in Bournemouth June '05]

[Electric Six performing at Christ Church Summer Ball June '05]

I leave and heave a sigh and say goodbye. I'm glad to go, I cannot tell a lie.

So I saw V today and we kinda agreed to finish things as they were. As I've probably mentioned before we weren't girlfriend/boyfriend and were classified as 'seeing each other' which was kinda cool as it was hard to see each other regularly due to the distance and meant we could see how things went. It was pretty obvious that things were dying down as I didn't speak to her for a week and couldn't really be bothered which is probably true on her behalf too. All it took was 30 seconds for the 'relationship' to end and luckily it was very mutual, and even luckier it was instigated by her so no effort on my behalf! We were in the pub, the conversation lulled and she said that she still wanted to see me but not in the same way. Phew. I agreed of course and was quite happy as if she hadn't said it I would've had to, and I'm a bit of a coward on that front.

Most relationships I've had have ended mutually, although there have been a couple that I've had to end, and I must admit I've felt like a complete c**t, as they haven't felt the same way. Invariably the cliched "It's not you, it's me" speech arises and I feel really bad, although I've felt it was for the best. In the case with V it was all very simple.

So there we go, I am now officially back on the market, although I think this experience has clarified several things that I am looking for in future endeavors. I have previously said that I don't have a 'type', but I'm sure there are certain aspects and qualities that are in my control.

They must live near me
They must be around my age [24-27]
They must like my friends

Not too specific, but still obviously challenging. I suppose quite a bit of this stems from my friends. I will always value my friends and they will always come first as they are like family to me. I am busy during the week with work and other commitments and so when it comes to the weekend I need to see my friends, and this is where the long distance thing doesn't work. If I have to spend the weekend away then I will not see them and this is not what I want. The ideal solution would be to meet someone who will enjoy socialising with me and my friends.

Of course my friends are of a certain age and in the case of V [18] she may have been a bit young. I may be slightly set in my ways and I think at that age of late teens you need to get things out of your system, go out drinking and partying and clubbing. I've done that and am a fully fledged 'grown-up' and so would enjoy the company of someone with a history, who has done the things that I have, and so we have a common background, which is hard with someone born in mid 1986, and who I can't relate to fully.

So there we go. That's what I'm looking for...easy eh?? I did enjoy chatting with the girl on Saturday in London, and did get her number, but I will not be following it up at the moment, as it's the whole distance thing again... women eh?? geography eh??

Night Night. Tomorrow is another day.

Sunday, January 29, 2006

It's a London thing, it's a London thing.

It's Abi's birthday tomorrow and in celebration we all had fun over the weekend. Abi and Steve moved up to london last year and so a little convoy [10 of us in 3 cars] made our way to Lewisham yesterday at around 3pm.

Steve had booked a minibus for 7pm which would take us to the Big Chill Bar, just off Brick Lane, where we would spend the evening, so we got some beers in, had a chat, and got ready.

I won't go too much into the night [because I can't remember a great deal!] but we all had a good time and I spent my evening drinking draught Budvar and sampled a few pints of Westons Cider.

I usually find the best part of these nights is the day after when all the lost memories of the night resurface and you piece together the events that transpired on the alcohol-fueled evening. Apparently I may have been freestyle rapping with Chris [there should be a video soon...], almost got thrown-out [I may have fallen over when play fighting...not too sure who with], um and I may have got a girls phone number [a friend of Mels, but I think we'll leave it there]. There's more photo's to surface and I think a few more stories may arise over the week.

I'll leave you with this picture from pre-going out [I'd like to point out that it was staged....in case you weren't too sure, but it was hard to resist as there was a copy of lads mag front in the toilet, and a room of friends to amuse.]

[worrying stain on pants.....mmmm]

Thursday, January 26, 2006

If you believe the western sun, is falling down on everyone

I started this post a few days ago but it's taken me a while to get around to finishing it. So anyway I was over at Pynchon's blog when he spoke about a negative encounter with the Hare Krishna's on the highstreet and their particular way of selling/donating books to young impressionable.

This type of encounter is often the only one that Joe Public will get with the Hare Krishna's, and they will leave it at that, glad to have escaped. Many have formed their opinions from hearsay [not the band] and stories of 'cults' and so I'd like to put my views about them on my blog.

I was in the second year of my 'Study of Religions' degree at Chichester, and one of the modules involved visiting a place of worship and providing a first-hand perspective on it. I've minimalised the actual task, but to be fair I can't really remember the actual assignment title [and can't be bothered rooting around the loft for my coursework]. Several day-trip options were offered [visiting a Synagogue/Roman Catholic Church/Mosque] but these seemed a bit tame and so me and two others on the course [Mike and Austin] decided to see what else was on offer, and so it was that in late 2001 we would be spending the weekend with the Hare Krishna's.

This being a fair few years ago, a lot of the facts have been lost in the recesses of my mind, but I will do my best.

I knew a fair bit about the actual background of the International Society for Krishna Consciousness (ISKCON), popularly called Hare Krisna's, having studied a fair few Indian Religions during my course, and I'll outline a few key points here.

ISKCON was founded in New York in 1966 by Indian monk called A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada [died 1977], although it's practices and beliefs are closely linked to the Gaudiya Vaishnavism form of Hinduism.

It was formed to spread the practice of Bhakti Yoga [the yoga of devotion] which is directly aimed at Krishna [the Supreme Lord] and his cohort Radha. [It must be noted that they have many other incarnations too.]

It is an evangelical movement, which seeks to indoctrinate new members and spread the word through actively going on to the streets to sing their mantra or to sell books.

Their mantra follows: "HARE KRISHNA HARE KRISHNA, KRISHNA KRISHNA HARE HARE, HARE RAMA HARE RAMA, RAMA RAMA HARE HARE" and by actually uttering these words it is said to induce God-consciousness.

So that's the history lesson over with [thanks to wikipedia for refreshing me on a few points].

I also knew a bit about there problems too. During the 70s and 80s there was a lot of scandal [read fully about it here] revolving around molestation, kidnapping, and fraud, and it must be noted that this was only by a few individuals, although it did virtually bankrupt ISKCON, but has resulted in clearer transparency of the movement, which was ultimately needed if it was to continue.

So of we stayed at Bhaktivedanta Manor in Watford [acquired by George Harrison in 1973], which includes shrines, library, primary school, theatre, bakery, farm, community shop, and Food for Life [a food relief project]. When we arrived it was quite surreal as the actual building is in a mock-Tudor style dating from 1884, but this is quite typical of Hinduism and it's assimilation of the culture it is in.

As I already said my memories of the visit are quite sketchy but I can tell you that we decided to participate as fully as we can, as that is really the only way of experiencing and understanding.

Our day started at 4:30am, for the first temple ceremony of the day [the temple in in the manor house and contains ornately decorated shrines], which I must admit was a lot earlier than I'd normally get up, but the other attendants were happy that their 'visitors' [us] had made the effort

Through the morning, it would get busier with a lot of the attendants not actually Hare Krishna's but actually regular Hindu's who are resident around the area. This is when you realise how closely linked they are, and that ISKCON considers itself simply another branch of Hinduism, and that this view if also reflected by the Hindus who come to pray, worship, and learn at the manor.

The difference between them though comes to light when the Guru-puja for Srila Prabhupada [worship for the spiritual master] takes place and a mass exodus of the visiting Hindu's takes place, leaving only the Hare Krishna's. This worship is for Prabhupada [who founded ISKCON] and the Hindu's do not see him in the same light as the Hare Krisna's who see him as divine[I must apologize for the simplicity in calling them either Hindu's of Hare Krishna's but I think it's the easiest way to differenciate.]

"Worship of the spiritual master is essential for spiritual advancement. As members of the Krishna consciousness movement we offer our obeisances and worship toShrila Prabhupada as the Founder-acharya of the International Society for Krishna Consciousness and as the instructing guru for all devotees in ISKCON. We are eternally indebted to His Divine Grace for single-handedly bringing Krishna to the Western world and thus giving everyone the opportunity to become a lover of God."

I suppose in laymans term's one could maybe [very loosely] compare this with maybe Roman Catholicism and the worship of the Pope, and Protestantism's objection to this.

Throughout the day there are various prayers to be said, practices to be observed, and rituals to be undertaken, and I must admit that this way of life was very peaceful with a set order of the day [ending at 10pm]. I was told a lot about what ISKCON actually does and what's it's for by the devotees who either live their or visit daily, and they too seemed very happy with their lives and how they were indebted to the faith.

The visit really moved me and I can honestly say that if I'd stayed there longer maybe I would've stayed for a lot longer. It was peaceful, what they had to say seemed important and I really valued their ideals. Of course I'm a level-headed person and I returned back to Chichester although I still had my beads, with which I could recite the mantra, and I also had a new hobby, Vegetarianism, which I must admit only lasted 3 months.

I can see how someone who was actively looking for faith, and in search for an answer could get involved in the Hare Krisha movement, but I can see nothing wrong with this. Everyone is looking for something, and maybe ISKCON is right for somep people. All religions have to be funded from somewhere and I think book-selling is a good way of doing this and spreading the word. Of course if you are not interested then just say 'no thanks' and wish them a good day. They will not be offended. Another programme they run is the 'Food for Life', the world's largest vegan/vegetarian food relief organisation, which following on from Prabhupada's announcement that "No one within ten miles of a temple should go hungry" has evolved into volunteers giving away 450,000 meals daily. [read more here]

I myself, in thanks for my time there, will sometimes stop of a little chat and purchase a book for a few pounds. Of course they are trying to evangelically 'recruit' new members, but there is nothing sinister about this, as if I had the 'answer' then I would want everyone to know.

As long as they remain open and honest about how they work then I can see nothing wrong with them. They have learnt to be open because of mistakes made in the past which have tainted them, but they are starting afresh and on my visit I saw many people who had genuinely found their walk of life

Of course everyone is allowed their point of view and I wanted to say to Pynchon that he had every right to do what he did, and that I would probably act in exactly the same way if it had been a religion wholly unknownst to me who had been trying to proselytise some innocent youngsters. I hope this has helped in understanding a religion that has had so much bad press about it. "Hare Krishna"

Saturday, January 21, 2006

it's a kind of magic

Imagine it...

I can but dream

Friday, January 20, 2006

Could you take my picture? 'Cuz I won't remember

You may remember it was my birthday at the beginning of December and I did say that I would post some pictures but never got around to it. Well here are a few choice photos that maybe give you an idea of how the day went.

[Dover ferry terminal]

[Chris + other ferry sneaking into the photo]

[me relaxing]

[Yes that is 9:55am, and the first pints are in]

[a few more later]

[Ant, Jonny, Chris, Petit Tom, Ian, Big Tom, and Ben]

[and me outside the world famous cinq cinq cinq club]

[more beers]

[We are all great skaters by the way, although alcohol doesn't help with the balancing]

[Baileys, Stella, and Toblerone.....must be Duty Free]

[Fun on the train]

[I was quite drunk and reverted to taking 'arty' photos.]

So that was part of my birthday........same time next year?? Well yes.

Feels so right it can't be wrong, rockin' and rollin all week long.

In a bid to do something marginally out of the norm, I went to the pub last night, yes the pub! For those who know me this is not a spectacular feat as I can be found there most weekends, but the fact is that it was a thursday.

We can all fall into the monotony of life, and I could probably tell you what is going to happen on everynight for the next six months, as I have weekly schedule that hardly varies.

So last night 8 of us did the pub quiz [didn't win] but it was nice to be out midweek, which we used to do a fair bit when we were a tad younger.

The only thing was that when I woke up this morning I thought it must be a saturday...sadly it wasn't and I am in work.

The upshot of this is that I don't really want to go to the pub tonight and would instead do something rather different....not sure what though.

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

What's my view? Well how am I supposed to know? Write a review. Well how objective can I be?

It arrived!! I've now got my hands on the Maximo Park Album 'A Certain Trigger' and I'm getting my first taste of it whilst I'm typing this post. Here's to the future!

In my top singles of 2005 post I included a Maximo Park song 'Apply Some Pressure', and it is on the strength of this one song that I purchased the album. I meant to buy it a long time ago [Well at least when the single had come out.]

I used to buy quite a few albums on the strength of a song, and more often than not I would be slightly disappointed but sometimes I would find a real gem. Now I usually will only buy an album if I can listen to it first or if quite a few singles have been released. I know that this has stiffled my music taste slightly as it means I don't hear as many new songs as I used to but I'd heard a few good things about them so I took the plunge. After all £8.75 from CD-WOW isn't really that much for what on first listening is quite a good album [I'm only 6 tracks in at the moment].

[Maximo Park consists of Tom English (drums), Duncan Lloyd (guitars), Paul Smith (vocals), Archis Tiku (bass guitar) and Lukas Wooller (keyboards). They're from Newcastle by the way.]

Monday, January 16, 2006

Knowing me, Know you, ah ha!

I visited Freespurge today and saw that he'd been tagged by Daisy Mae. He'd left an open ended offer for anyone to respond to this too, so here goes.....

Four Jobs I’ve had:
Students' Union Vice President
TESCO cashier
Assistant Bar Manager
Scraping frozen blood from a butchers freezer! (plus other choice activities)

Four Places I’ve Lived:
Ramsgate, Kent (map)
Chichester, West Sussex (map)
Blackfen, Bexley (map)
Doha, Qatar (map)

4 TV Shows I love to watch:
Match of the Day

4 of my favourite foods:
Chicken Madras
Spaghetti Bolognese
Steak (rare)

Four places I'd rather be right now:
Down the pub
Somewhere Hot
???? where else??...Canada!

Bloggers I'd like to tag: Whoever reads this and wants to do it. No pressure.

Friday, January 13, 2006

Everywhere you go, you always take the weather with you

How hot is my weather pixie looking today?!

Hot Damn!

Wednesday, January 11, 2006

Now he's getting a tattoo. He's gettin' ink done. He asked for a '13', but they drew a '31'

SwissToni, Alecya, and Spins, have posted their tattoos on their blogs and so I thought that I 'd post a photo of mine and tell you a bit about when I got it done.

When I finished university (2002) I was elected to Vice-President of the Students' Union (A paid sabbatical position) and started that in the June and took to things quite professionally, working a general 9 'til 5 and putting in my hours because I was now 'in a position of authority' and should represent the students in a correct manner. I worked hard and didn't really feel like partying every night (I was also in a long-term relationship so I wasn't on the lookout for taking advantage of the situation) and so life was good, I was doing my job well, but I wasn't having great deals of fun (my girlfriend had just moved away for a teaching job).

After Christmas things changed though, I broke up with the girlfriend in early February (I think) as things just weren't going brilliantly and we'd grown apart (I was probably still too immature for a long-distance relationship and didn't know where life would take me). I started to go out more, got some new friends who I had been living will in Student accommodation but hadn't really got to know well, and I was getting a lot out of my system (I'd like to add that I was still brilliant at my job though...just a few more hangovers!)

It came around to May and one of my flatmates 'Animal' (real name Ben) wanted to get a tattoo, and as I drove I volunteered to drive him, along with Dan and Rick, over to near Bognor Regis to get his tattoo done. On the way over, and in the spur of the moment we all decided to get tattoos, although Dan was a bit weary of it. I thought that if I was going to get a tattoo (something very permanent) then I was going to get a worthwhile one...a big one...so I looked at the designs, popped to the cashpoint, went to the limit of my overdraft, and so I got this done:

It cost £100 and took an hour to do. It did hurt a fair bit but the pain was good pain and I enjoyed it (I'm not a masochist by the way.) I felt empowered, on top of the world, and rebellious.

When we got back no one believed that we'd all got tattoos and so we showed them off proudly. It reminds me of a good time in my life and I am still very happy with it and because it's on my back it can be my secret if I don't want anyone to know about it.

Monday, January 09, 2006

Computer says 'no'

I'm back again! Well it's no coincidence that I'm back at work and now I've got time to blog [I haven't actually got that much time as I've got loads of work to do, but there's always time to blog].
V came down on Wednesday for a few days and then I drove her back up on Friday and spent the weekend in Stevenage, thus the lack of posts. I had a good weekend and V asked me what I wanted from the relationship.....*shock*.....As I've said before I'm quite happy with the way things are and so I told her that, sticking to honesty as the best policy, but I did add that she could call me boyfriend if she wanted to, but with the distance and only seeing each other on various weekends it'd be hard to have a proper 'relationship. She replied that she'd rather it that we were just 'seeing each other' as 'boyfriend/girlfriend' dictates some kind seriousness, and that she liked things as they are now.
*phew* It's quite nice to not be too tied down as there's nothing worse than being in a constrictive relationship [although I must add for fairness that not all relationships are like that, and that they are brilliant things. I wouldn't be here if it wasn't for them] and I can still be the same person in Ramsgate as I was before, just a little more confident, self-assured, and happy.
On another note....aren't PCs crap??? Over the past week I've had to reformat 2 friends laptops due to the sheer amount of crap software/spyware/errors on them. I did try to uninstall non-necessary programmes but in once case when I removed a virus it took away some key system files making windows inoperable, and in the other some programmes refused to be uninstalled and resulted in system crashes. All the important files and data were backed up and so a clean start would be best with the installation of minimal features plus some very important Anti-virus and Anti-Spyware software.
Both are working brilliantly now and it's very nice to have a clean desktop. Dan, whose laptop I fixed last night, had also complained that his laptop had been slower ever since he'd dropped it from the kitchen worktop!! I thought it could be something to do with his RAM, and so I check how much was recognised, 256MB, and then opened the laptop to discover 2 x 256MB RAM installed, equaling 512MB, so either one had come lose and it had broken. I took both the dimms out, swapped them around, and hey presto, all was fine in laptop land. I wonder how much PC world would charge just to swap a few RAM around??? mmmm

I may have been a bit hasty when I said "Aren't PCs crap?", they're not always that way if you look after them and don't install shit on them. I currently use Norton Internet Security 2005 and also Ad-Aware Personal (Free anti spyare and malware) and recommend that you have at least some kind of protection "Be good, and if you can't be good be safe."

Tuesday, January 03, 2006

Thankyou for the music

I used to blog quite a bit about music in the past but I seem to have shifted away from that sphere and focused on other subjects a bit more and neglected my music. Part of this has been that quite a bit of the music I've been listening to has been in the charts and had a lot of radio play so I really didn't feel the need to tell you all about it.

Well that's about to change as I've just visited Lord B's Bargain Basement where he's posted his top 20 singles of 2005, and I feel the need to tell you of some of my favourite singles of last year. I've not put them in any dissernable order and I've probably missed of a few that got lost at the beginning of the year but anyway, here you go....I did try and find pictures for the records but couldn't...and I could write a bit about them, but I think it's better if I just put links to streaming media so you can listen and watch these classsic cuts from 2005.

Kaiser Chiefs - I Predict A Riot [Video]

james Blunt - You're Beautiful [Video]

Maximo Park - Apply Some Pressure [Video]

Kanye West featuring Jamie Foxx - Gold Digger [Video]

Gorillaz - Dare [Video]

Arctic Monkeys - I Bet You Look Good On The Dancefloor [Video]

Hard Fi - Living For The Weekend [Video]

Tom Novy ft Michael Marshall - Your Body [Video]

Black Eyed Peas - My Humps [Video]

Hot Hot Heat - Middle of Nowhere [Video]

Mylo vs Miami Sound Machine - Dr Pressure [Video]

Snoop Dogg featuring Justin Timberlake & Charlie Wilson - Signs [Video]

I definitely know that I've missed some off but hey...that's life....that's what all the people say *wincing at pun* sorry. Feel free to comment on your top tunes of 2005 and maybe I'll agree and add them to the page.

Monday, January 02, 2006

The times, they are a changing.

I had a good time last night although it differed a fair bit from previous years. Normally a large group of us go out in fancy dress, visit many pubs, get very drunk, and then go home, and this has been great.



But over the last year everyone has been getting domesticated and our core groups of 'lads' has diminished. So our collective power has also diminished and this year had to make allowances and settled on visiting a few pubs and then having a houseparty... so what was to happen to the fancy dress? Well Jonny and myself were at the pub on Friday (New Year's Eve Eve) and stumbled upon the idea of trying to buy a whole outfit for as little as possible, i.e. charity shop bargain hunting. Paul, Tom, and Ian, were also up for it and so we arranged to go shopping on the Saturday and pick up some threads.

When it all boiled down to it it was just Jonny and myself as the others came up with various excuses to not get dressed up, so here's what I got.

Shirt ---> £1 [Cancer Research]
Jacket --->£1 [Cancer Research]
Trousers --->£2.49 [Kidney Research]
Pants ---->50p [Pound Shop]
Socks --->50p [Pound Shop]
Flip flops --->£1 [Pound Shop]

So I got my whole outfit for £6.49!!!! I did get a hat to accessorise which cost £2.99 but it still came to under a tenner.

I think I'll definitely go bargain hunting again as I quite liked a few of the threads!!! very Cheap as i was only wearing things I'd bought on the day, next time I'll wear my own pants, socks, and shoes though.

The night went well although I'm not too sure that people knew I was dressed up on a budget and they may have thought that I just had bad taste! I scraped in at 3:45am and didn't get up till 12:30pm today!!!!

I'm back at work tomorrow but will be getting Thurday and Friday off as V will be coming down, so I'm sure you'll miss me for a while again but when I'm back at work I'll resume my blogging properly.


Sunday, January 01, 2006

Happy New Year

Happy New Year everyone, out with the old, in with the new, and so we bid farewell to 2005.