May 30, 2011 at 9:39 PM

The weekend before last I went orienteering around Reading University campus. It was a free event hosted by the Berkshire Orienteering Society. It is very surprising just how lost you can get in a space you know – or think you know – very well. I decided to (read: was pressured into) doing the long course rather than medium. The long course was 6.4km as the crow flies from orienteering control to control, which accounts for about 10km of actual running. It was great fun… but not the *best* idea to do the day before you move house. It was the first time I’d gone running in several months, so I had the standard aches and pains for a couple of days afterwards. I felt like I was creaking out loud everytime I moved boxes up and down the stairs!

I had a very random day last Wednesday. Who needs context? Here’s some titbits:
– I accidentally caught the bus from Thatcham to Reading
– There was a swarm of bees outside our department
– I walked passed a man boasting “I FELL OVER FOUR TIMES!”
– I got mango chutney on my sleeve.

All in all, a standard day there.

A Cracker of a Eurasia-vision Song Contest

May 16, 2011 at 1:58 PM

This weekend saw the annual Eurovision Song Contest, where countries from across Europe (and Asia now really) have three minutes to each sing a song, everyone votes for their favourite country/political neighbough and we all go home comiserating how poorly the UK continue to do. It’s a tradition.

This year saw a group of us get together to have a cheesy party through the evening. We played ‘Buzz it’ before the Contest started, a game where you must mention things in a particular category within 8 seconds or you lose. I was disappointed to have “breathe” disallowed from “Things you do on public transport”, because I’m sure I don’t hold my breath when using the train. OK, given the state of the buses around here it might actually be a wise thing to hold your breath, but still.

Once the contest started, we were each given three countries randomly. The person whose country won would get a silly little prize worth 99p, the loser would have to do a forfeit. I had the UK, Switzerland and Estonia and, halfway through the voting Estonia was firmly at the bottom of the table. Boooooo. All of a sudden however, a few countries gave Estonia some points, and it lept to the penultimate place on the table! My joy turned to dispair when I realised the country it had overtaken was Switzerland, which was also mine.

The forfeit I had to perform was the rather irritating 3 cracker challenge, where you eat 3 dry crackers as quickly as possible. It can be done in under a minute if you don’t mind your throat becoming perforated. I’ve never tried the challenge before, and apparently my time of 3 minutes 46 seconds is “respectable” for a first ever go. Ot felt like the sheer dryness of the crackers sapped out any moisture anywhere in my body. I think if I drink another few hundred litres or so of water I’ll quench my thirst. Swimming pools in my local area are advised to be on the look out for anyone with a very large drinking straw…

Cross Words

May 12, 2011 at 7:08 PM

I do enjoy attempting The Guardian’s daily cryptic crossword. I don’t often complete it with out help. To appear intelligent on a train I tend to fill the extreme sudoku in with random numbers. Sometimes with greek letters. Sometimes even with heiroglyphs (I know six!). But the crossword… that’s an entirely different beast.

Previous to today, I’ve solved it twice without any aids at all. The first was whilst I was rehearsing to be the narrator for a panto. The second was when I was trying to avoid work at absolutely all costs. It appears that I have to be unfocused from work to do the crossword properly. I have to disengage my brain from useful things, rotate it 90 degrees to look at the world sideways, and jiggle it about a bit to make the neurons talk to each other. It’s not a pretty sight for the others in my office.

Today was another of Those Days where things go in fits and starts. In between productive bits and during lunch break, I looked at the guardian crossword. I was able to solve just three clues, rubbish. I decided to try the Financial Times cryptic instead, and I made swift progress on it and have solved it all… except three clues.

Adding it all together, this means I’ve solved the crossword today, right? Right?! Oh. 🙁

Brace Thyself

May 10, 2011 at 12:31 PM

I’ve waited a week to write this post, because I didn’t want the first day’s experience to turn out to be a momentary blip. Sadly, it isn’t, but it’s getting better…

One week ago today, I had an Inman Aligner brace put in my mouth to try and correct the crooked upper set of teeth that I have. They looked a bit like a scree slope, and I want them put straight. The Inman Aligner is basically a spring loaded brace, with one plate pushing the teeth forward from behind and one pulling the teeth back from the front, ‘squeezing’ the teeth into place as it were.

I was warned there would be ‘mild discomfort’ and that I’d have a lisp for a bit. Mild discomfort, you say? If the past week has been mild discomfort then I wouldn’t like to know what pain actually is! Mild discomfort – my buttocks! All this week has been a very painful experience as the teeth get used to the idea of having to move in my mouth. Eating has been painful too, I can’t put any pressure on my teeth, and I’m now very self consious about eating in public. It’s most painful after just taking out / putting in the brace, as there’s the change of pressure then.

Having said that, the ‘mild discomfort’ is now easing, with the past 48 hours (whilst not pain free) getting much better. The severe lisp that I had initially (I was able to say “shuffering shuckatash” extremely well) has half gone, but I still can’t quite speak properly.

I don’t want to appear like I’m bad mouthing (haha!) the Inman Aligner, at least not yet. It’s much quicker than other dental methods, and also cheaper, and maybe I’m a complete wimp for not dealing with the pain. It only kept me awake two nights, after all. But I do think that, with the discomfort lessening, that the pros will now start to outweigh the cons, and in just 4 (ish) months time, I’ll have a nice straight set of teeth.

Then you can punch me in the mouth for telling bad puns, and I’ll start the start the treatment again.

Edit, mid-June: I’ve now been wearing the brace for three and a half weeks and the pain has finally subsided. It’s actually not uncomfortable to wear now, easy to take in and out. There were just a few initial teething difficulties where it was getting the teeth to move in the first place, but that pain has now gone thankfully. Fingers crossed, it will uncross my teeth.
Further edit, early-July: Well, things have moved on tremendously, it’s really straightened my teeth up. I’ll admit to being sceptical, but the difference the brace has had to far after nine weeks is amazing. The dentist even reckons it could be done within one more month! I’ll post up before/after pics as the difference is quite astounding.