Monday, June 30, 2014

Maxitone Meal/Snack Replacement

I've been trying to cook Low GI recipes for a few weeks, trying to find the balance with lifestyle and weight loss. I was nearly 73kg but now am 67.9kg, so it has been helping but I would like to lose a few more kilos because I'm fairly short and have a naturally slim build. I look better when I'm not pudgy around my middle. My wife wants to lose more weight than I do, so finding the combination that works for both of us is difficult. This is why a low GI diet works quite well, it helps us to eat healthy but also fill up on nice tasting foods. The trouble is we both have a sweet tooth and there are some foods that tempt us too much. Feeling hungry between meals is a killer, sometimes fruit isn't enough. So, my wife has been talking about trying these shakes you can buy. On Sunday, Boots had some on special offer so she decided to use up some of her Boots card points.
I'm trying my first shake right now, to replace breakfast. It tastes alright, I added the water to the powder in the shaker we bought and left it to cool in the fridge for 10 minutes or so. The product is marketed to a female audience, so it is all a bit too pink for my taste but I can live with the feminine branding, I'm man enough to take it!

Monday, June 23, 2014

The Music Charts

In early July the music charts are going to include streaming statistics when they are compiled. Services like Spotify, Deezer, Napster will be included. It will be interesting to see whether this makes much of difference. I used to religiously listen to the chart show on the radio when I was a teenager interested in such things but my interest has waned considerably since those days. The music industry has changed so much since the early days. I reckon most acts now make more money from playing shows than they do from royalties but I suppose royalties can pay for years into the future. Writing a successful Christmas song seems about the best way to make a lot of money for not doing very much.
I listen to some music on Spotify but I only have a free account. I have considered a paid account, mainly to avoid the adverts, which are very annoying.

Saturday, June 21, 2014

Kevin Turvey (Rik Mayall)

One of my favourite comic TV characters was created by Rik Mayall in the 80s. Mayall was one of the Comic Strip comedians and was already edgy as an angry young man can be even before The Young Ones. I loved Kevin Turvey's ridiculous investigations in and around Redditch in the West Midlands. I liked the fact that he had a Midlands accent and that he was an underdog, one of life's less successful people at a time in the eighties when success was all that seemed to matter to the media.

England Knocked Out

England played their second match of the World Cup on Thursday evening against Uruguay and again lost it effectively ending their hopes of progression to the knock out rounds. Their first two matches were against tough teams, Italy was our first opponent, but the score was the same in both games. The opponent score first, England scored an equalising goal but then the other side catch England with a winning goal to leave England adrift at 1-2.
I don't think the manager should be fired, Roy Hodgson has done the job asked of him. The team played well but were missing a star player who can make some magic, which the best sides seem to have. We certainly don't have a Luis Suarez, like Uruguay, or a Mario Balotelli, like Italy do.
England's final game will be on Tuesday against Costa Rica who are on top of the group. I'm excited in a way because I think England will beat them, as mad as that sounds. It's a shame that it won't make a difference.

Friday, June 13, 2014

Weekend thoughts

It's Friday the 13th today. My children thought we should go out for a meal tonight, I suggested Nandos because I'd tried it recently in Manchester and enjoyed it. My children had the mildest chicken but it was still too spicy for them. I had Hot but to be honest I thought it was just tasty, not mega hot as I'm not a heat freak. My wife seemed to enjoy hers because she ate it all but often leaves some chicken because she doesn't like wobble. I don't think she encountered any wobble tonight because she ate it. I don't get that I had to pay however, if it was supposed to be a Father's Day treat in advance of Sunday. Ah well. I don't have very high hopes for the rest of the weekend. I have a strong feeling that it's going to be one I think I might rather forget.

World Cup 2014

Not so long ago I blogged about not being very excited about the World Cup this year. Well, that has changed a little bit over the last 24 hours. I have watched  two games now and am starting to think that I might enjoy the tournament more than I first thought. I watched the first game played by Brazil and Croatia, and tonight I watched Spain against the Netherlands. Spain were the title holders from the last World Cup but tonight they were drubbed. They really were slaughtered. It was entertaining to watch though but I'm so glad I'm not Spanish tonight. England play tomorrow night and I always feel quite tense when England play. I will watch the game though (hope that we win convincingly).

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Pet hate: Beats headphones

I like good sound quality don't get me wrong. But really, the cost of Beats headphones is surely so absurd! And yet people pay these prices. I think anybody who pays that much for Beats headphones is completely stupid. And get this: you even look stupid wearing them! That's right. People who wear Beats headphones think that they look cool and trendy. You look like Jerks! get real. Here's how trendy you are: see the photo below? That's Craig Oliver, he's the Director of Communications for the Conservative party. How bloody cool and "down with the kids" do you feel now?  The other annoying thing about Beats is the recent deal they have done with Apple. It's not a deal Steve Jobs would have made, I can tell you that much for nothing. Utterly astonishing move by Apple, the soul has really gone out of the company.

I like good quality audio from my headphones and I also like headphones that don't leak sound. Nothing as bad as sitting on public transport and some idiot flooding the carriage/bus/whatever with the sound of an annoying fly buzzing around. My favourite headphones, after years of trying different brands is that Sennheiser makes the best audio quality headphones.
The following are a few of the models I use.

World Cup 2014

Funny I know but I'm less excited about this World Cup than previous ones. Perhaps my feelings will change (they can depend on the infection of excitement around me) but my level of excitement is extremely low at the moment. I haven't seen much about England in the press, which is odd because I think in the past the build up has been massive. The amount I've seen so far this year has been very little, I haven't desired to buy a football top nor a commemorative World Cup football. I bought a replica football for my son during the last World Cup. This year I have only had one conversation with him about it. I hope the football raises the interest rather than all the politics that can surround these big events in sport.

Monday, June 09, 2014

Sad News - Rik Mayall dies

It was a shock and very sad to hear this afternoon of the death of one my favourite comedic actors, Rik Mayall. He was aged only 56, a young age to die. He first caught my attention, most people's attention I'd say, as the character he played in The Young Ones. It was an anarchic sitcom in the life of ordinary working class university students. I liked the way he played slightly mental characters. The character in the series Bottom was very funny and I liked the cameo roles he had in Blackadder and those he played in various The Comic Strip Presents. I thought he played the character Alan Bastard well in The New Stateman but it wasn't a character I particularly liked but that was probably the point. Sad, sad news for someone who brought a lot of pleasure to watching the TV. It's hard to describe the effect of The Young Ones but for me it really was a show that changed my world. It probably played a part in convincing me to go to university.

Monday, June 02, 2014

Space 1999

I've been loaned the first series of the 1970s sci-fi show Space 1999 by a friend. It was produced by Sylvia Anderson, wife of Gerry. The series has gone down in history in the same way that U.F.O. and other Anderson productions. I remember watching the show and it seeming quite scary when I watched it as a kid, I don't remember the details of the episodes as a kid but I remember watching the show and making Lego models of the communicator and the stun guns. The first series aired in 1975, I was only 7 at the time. I certainly remember the second series, or rather I remember the character Maya who could shape shift, her strange alien eyebrows scared me! The series is set on Moonbase Alpha, which suffers a catastrophic explosion knocking the moon out of Earth's orbit and sending it through the cosmos on an extraordinary journey. I've watched three episodes so far, the third was the strangest, titled Black Sun the moon passes through a black sun and because it used a shield was not destroyed. Very weird. There was also some illusion to an unseen benevolent force protecting them. It was the most expensive British TV show ever produced at the time. The sets were fantastic and the special effects. The great thing about the show as far as I was concerned at the time was the Eagle Transporters. These were the space ships that they used and featured heavily. My toy version was a die cast model. It had a central transporter pod that could be dropped. This had opening doors. I loved it. It's only later that when I remember it, mine was green but in the TV show they are white. I remember green and blue ones. You could also get ones that had winches to lower radioactive canisters, these were white. I don't know why they didn't make them all white?

Mine looked like the one on the left

Gorgeous looking interiors

Sunday, June 01, 2014

Pacific Rim

I bought this film on DVD a couple of weeks ago and on Saturday night I finally got to watch it. I thought it was very good actually, a good action film. Perhaps a little bit implausible but nonetheless entertaining. The director has made other interesting films in the past, such as the Hell Boy films. He manages to create a world that is somehow believable and yet strangely implausible. The art direction is excellent. The way the machines and the creatures move was also very good. I've played a few mech videogames and this brought the whole genre to life for me in a way I've not seen in a film before. The mechs were called Jaegers (in Front Mission Evolved, the videogame, they're called Wanzers) and the alien monsters are called Raichu (I think but my memory might be playing tricks). I think the film will also improve on further viewings. There is a lot of visual detail in the film to enjoy. The scientists are quite funny in their mannerisms.


X-Men Days of Future Past

On Friday I had the day off from work. My son had a friend around for the day and I decided it would be a good treat to take them to see the new X-Men film. I'd heard good things about the film before seeing it but the film was far better than I expected it to be. I didn't really like a lot of the third X-Men film, The Last Stand. But in this film, there is time travel involved. It all hangs together convincingly though (sometimes time travel in films can be really confusing).

The day off was good, I suppose I could have done more but I was in part recovering from a difficult week. It was difficult in two main senses: I was away from home for an extra night, I was recovering from my back injury from the Saturday before AND I was recovering from a painful episode of piles - brought on by constipation that the codeine-based painkillers I used for my back gave me. It all turned out okay though and I was glad I took the day off, it was needed.
After the film, I took the boys for lunch, it was a Kentucky Fried Chicken - not really the same as it was when I was a kid. I had a wrap meal and it was so so. Presentation was a bit sloppy.
I was lucky I didn't get a parking ticket on getting back to my car. I'd parked in a bay that gives 3 hours free, I'd also bought a ticket and didn't realise I didn't need one. The parking attendant was writing me out a ticket but fortunately I could explain in person that I was leaving and he let me off, which was quite decent of him I thought. I do think that rules are stupid sometimes, I mean I'd bought a parking ticket and it was just that I'd parked in a 3 hour free zone. Apparently the rules are that the car can only stay there for three hours regardless if you've bought a ticket or not. I find that confusing when there is a parking meter close to the parking bays. It's not like the signs give you much of a clue either! I'd paid for parking, it was just that the silly rules applied in a way that was not obvious. At least I escaped without a fine that time.