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Memory Lapse… WIN!

June 11, 2011 at 5:20 PM

Last Monday I had the pleasure of having a day away from my rubber cell and I went to Thorpe Park with seven friends. We were all meant to meet up at Wokingham Station at 8:55 so we could all go in two cars for a quick 30 minute journey to the Park.

Myself and Jon were going by train to the station, the others by car. I got on the Reading to London Waterloo train and waited for Jon to join me at Earley so that we could both get off at Wokingham. However, when he got on at Earley, he didn’t find me and as such when we arrived at Wokingham station, the thought going through my head was “Jon will be getting on here” not “Jon and I should get off here”. As such, and this is in no way Jon’s fault, I forgot to get off the train to meet up with friends. I am a complete moron for forgetting to get off, we’d been talking about the travel arrangements for days!

Luckily, the very train I was on also went to Staines, where you can get a bus to the park. So, to try and save face, I instigated a top gear style race to get to Thorpe Park – car vs public transport. I was at an early disadvantage in that the train would be taking a long and slow route and then the bus would also be quite slow. I was delighted to find out that the cars were struck in traffic in Bracknell – I could see the traffic jam from the train! My train was then delayed at Ascot… which was also the scene for a second traffic jam for the cars.

After getting off the train, and taking time to pay my excess fair, I waited for the bus and found out I was about 30 minutes in the lead, and not even Staines traffic could prevent me from reaching the park first! WOOHOO! I’m very relieved I didn’t make the other seven wait for me.

It turned out that my excess fair ticket was still usable – somehow – and so when one of my friends felt ill, he used it to go home early along with the bus return ticket that I wasn’t expecting to buy. So despite the huge idiocy of forgetting to get off the train, it all worked out very nicely. Aside from the ill friend, a good time was had by all. I went on Stealth and I’d forgotton just how BLOODY FAST it goes. I challenged Jon to name as many animals as he could beginning with C during the ride, and he manage a respectable 4 – cat, cow, carp and cock. He later admitted that he only said the last one as an expletive, and didn’t realise it counted! Well done that man.

Dis-orienteering

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.

Moving Season

April 25, 2011 at 10:31 PM

It’s been nearly a year since I moved into my current house, a whopping 12 doors away from my old house, and that means either it’s time to renew or move house. I’ve chosen, mainly due to the landlord wanting to sell the house, to move. A good choice there, I thought.

So, I’ve found a decent house, about half a mile away from where I am now, with nice decor (taste permitting), good security (thief permitting), a low maintenance garden (gravel-raking permitting) and a room that faces west with LOTS of sunny shiney sunshiney stuff (nature permitting). The people I’ll be moving in with are also pretty nice (lack-of-naked-me permitting)

The catch: The move in date is one month after the move out date of my current contract. The solution: move home, get meals cooked and laundry done (although I may be completely wrong about that), and pay fewer bills. All told, not a bad solution – the commute to work is a bit strained though, so I’ll only be in work a couple of days a week. I’ll just have to work from home… oh the trials and tribulations of being a PhD student. I do realise how cushy I’ve got it, and the thought of joining the Real World and getting a Proper Job fills me with fear and turns my trousers a different colour.

Still, work is progressing well on the PhD. Results are plopping out of the super computer pleasingly frequently! I’ve just got to start writing up the results and present my work at some conferences. Ideally, I hope to submit before Christmas this year (2011) and then write up papers for the scientific commumity for three months in 2012. Then…. onwards, upwards, outwards, skywards and maybe even jobwards!

Accumulate Grand Final is Live!

April 1, 2011 at 12:11 PM

CAN YOU CONTAIN THE EXCITEMENT? Oh, you can. Well, anyway, the grand final of Accumulate is here! http://ruon.tv/ondemand/video.php?vidid=243

Amongst other things see: Board games, wires on the floor, bad puns, a close contest and a man with a duck on his head.

All this, and more, await you. Thankyou for the support you’ve shown! We couldn’t do it without the encouragement.

Polygon

March 29, 2011 at 8:24 PM

My trip to hospital to remove Polly the Polyp has been and gone, and it’s been a success!

Last week, I went into hospital for the op. I wasn’t allowed to eat on the day of the operation and by 4pm op I was ravenous! Having the injection of anaesthetic was a very cool experience. If you’ve ever seen House or ER then you’ve probably seen what it looks like when they inject dye and see it go through the veins – it was similar thing when they injected the general anaesthetic. “It might tighten your chest a little” was what they said, and it did in a strange way. When it was injected it hurt in the vein up the arm, and then i could feel that spreading all the way up my arm and branching off like the dye, and by the time it reached my chest I was under.

Apparently when I was in recovery I was shouting to the world “I FEEL LOOPY” over and over. I don’t remember this… which is probably a good thing. I apologise to any of the hospital staff who I asked the same question to over and over again. My sister got asked “Well, how are you?” 3 times – I only remember asking once!

I only had one meal at the hospital, breakfast. Shredded wheat, toast, and a plate of marmite. That’s right, a PLATE. I didn’t eat it all, funnily enough.

Since the op, my nose and face has been quite sore. I’m resting as any activity makes my nose start to bleed. Hopefully that will subside soon.

An anti-stain

March 19, 2011 at 8:44 PM

I have an ‘anti-stain’ in my room – it’s a region where the carpet is much cleaner than the rest of the room.

This morning, after showering, I brought a full pint glass of ribena up to my room. Ribena is one of the most purple liquids out there, except for solutions of potassium permangenate. Made from blackberries, it can stain most light coloured things it comes into contact with.

So, *of course* I had to knock over the entire pint of ribena onto my *cream coloured* bedroom carpet. Murphy, your Law of Sod bites me in the behind once more.

To clear this up I went into down and bought some carpet mousse and I’ve given it a good scrub and it’s come up as good as new….. but it’s the only part of the carpet now that is clean! The stain has turned into an anti-stain. It looks like I’ll be doing much more carpet cleaning tomorrow….

That’s not a chip, it’s a potato!

February 22, 2011 at 11:54 PM

That was my reaction upon finding this chip in my dinner today: http://twitpic.com/42n7zk – it went across the entire plate, about 8 inches across! That must have been one heck of a potato!

A rather large chip. A silly smile. :D

In even-better-than-finding-a-huge-chip-in-your-dinner news, my game show  Accumulate! is back for a third season! I return as host for seven more shows to find out who can accumulate the highest towers and most points to win six board games from Eclectic Games (our sponsors for this series). The first few shows are now available, the latest show (show 3) can be found here: http://www.ruon.tv/ondemand/video.php?vidid=193

I’m incredibly proud of this game show that I co-devised with Gary Male (we are both former countdowners, he got to the semi finals, I made do with the quarters). I’m currently trying to tout other formats to the TV industry – please let me know if you’re interested!

I’ve been busy recently writing more questions for the next series of Only Connect, hopefully my name will appear in the credits of the next series too – here’s a quick image from the latest series (Series 4) with my name! Yay!

Dan Peake on credits of Only Connect

Dan Peake on credits of Only Connect 😀