Thursday, 28 February 2013

Rolling horses

Have you ever seen a horse roll in dirt or mud before? My Mum and I saw one do this when we were out on a walk a few hours ago. We were walking near a field of horses when we saw one of the horses run from end of the field to the other; once the horse reached the other side it lay down on its stomach and then onto its back and side, rolling right and left in the mud with a look that could only be described as being pleased with itself. After a minute of rolling, the horse got back up onto its feet and started chasing one of the other horses.

While that wasn't the first time we'd observed this behaviour, watching a horse roll in dirt or mud is a majestic sight to behold. We frequently see animals such as cats and dogs roll around in dirt, but watching a horse do it — especially a large one — is rare, at least in my experience.

Wednesday, 27 February 2013

Improved description/tagline

I want to trim down the description/tagline for my blog, which I haven't modified since I started Air Nice-to-Livelands nearly two years ago. Currently, it reads as:

"A blog created to document various events and topics that interest me, as well as to share some of my thoughts and experiences."

I think it's clunky and wordy; I've come up with two possible word choices so far:

"Documenting events and topics I find interesting, as well as sharing my thoughts and experiences."


"Blogging about events and topics I find interesting, as well as sharing my thoughts and experiences."

I'm happy with either and will choose between the two if I don't think of any better wording, but I'd like to give my readers input first. Improvements or alternate phrasings are welcome, too!

Tuesday, 26 February 2013

Tall women redux

This morning, I heard another interesting radio segment: it was about taller women and shorter men, which, of course, I wrote about a couple of days ago.

I didn't catch the whole programme, but the parts I did hear were interesting. There was a guy on it who said that he didn't date women taller than him, and his rationale was the same as the two I railed against in my original post on this subject: he found tall women "intimidating" and they "made him feel less manly". Throughout that part of the programme, I thought "please don't say them, please don't say them!"...and he did. I sighed and facepalmed.

Two other worthwhile parts were when a woman talked about her relationship with a man significantly taller than fourteen inches. Her source of discomfort came from believing that other people would assume they were father and daughter rather than a couple; however, she never mentioned her age or that of her boyfriend. The other part touched upon one of the footnotes in my previous post: a couple of tall women who were interviewed stated that they would not date men who were shorter than them.

I didn't learn anything particularly different from what I already knew; what I found more surprising was hearing a man use the rationales I regarded as sexist so soon after I made my argument. However, considering that I felt it necessary to write about this the other day, I shouldn't have been surprised.

Monday, 25 February 2013

More obsessive phone checking

I heard on the radio about a study which had determined that the average mobile phone user checks their phone every six minutes. The radio presenters stopped to think about how often they check their own phones and realised that they had checked them more than once in the past several minutes of the programme. Unfortunately, I didn't find out who conducted the study and I didn't get to listen to any more about it because I was in bed at the time and I feel asleep.

While I haven't yet found anything more about the study, I don't find its results to be impossible to believe. I wrote about a link about obsessive phone checking in this post, and in my own experience, on more than one occasion I have been annoyed when someone has been playing with their phone while I or another person was talking to them.

The study also made me think about how often I check my own phone. On average, I check it every half an hour, but if I'm engaged in a conversation with someone I don't check it at all, and that could be for hours depending on who I'm talking to. Unless I have a legitimate reason, I won't prioritise a device over a person.

Sunday, 24 February 2013

Tall women

I have read personal stories from tall women about some of their dating troubles. A common* complaint by these women is how the men they wish to date are either intimidated by them or somehow "feel less manly" in their presence. I find the behaviour of such men bizarre and, more accurately, sexist.

Whenever I have been in the presence of a woman equal to me* in height or taller, I have never felt any hostility or fear towards her for being a tall woman. I've met plenty of people — men and women — taller than I am. Have they ever made me nervous? Certainly...back when I was I child, but even then I considered a tall person's gender irrelevant.

I think that many men who are freaked out by tall women are misogynists. The only reason a man could feel uncomfortable around a tall woman is because he perceives her to be a threat to his self-given "authority" or ability to bully her into conceding an argument to him by using his size advantage as a weapon. Any man who believes this or thinks that a tall woman would reduce his masculinity cannot be considered a man: he is a coward.

Even if he isn't a misogynist, a man of average or above average height bothered by tall women should put everything into perspective: how does a short woman feel when she has to interact with a man who is at least a foot higher than her? If the man intended to cause her harm it is unlikely she would be unable to stop him, but when it comes to a man and a woman of equal height, in most cases the man would still be physically stronger than the woman. Therefore, a man has no reason to feel insecure or threatened by tall women.

For the ultimate question, would I go out with a woman near my height or taller? My answer: Yes — why not? I'm not intimidated by tall women, I don't have a need or desire to control women or engage in one-upmanship over them (same goes for men) and I would not have any problem with being the shorter person in a relationship. I've observed taller woman/shorter man relationships before and I am happy for the people involved in them.

Men should not be insecure about tall women — or about women in general, for that matter — and nor should they only be romantically interested in shorter women purely to maintain a physical advantage in a relationship. All women, regardless of their stature, are entitled to basic respect.

[1] Some tall women prefer to date even taller men, and thus, limit their dating pool as a result. However, this post exclusively addresses male sexism.

[2] I am six feet tall and have met women taller than this.

Saturday, 23 February 2013

"Pachelbel's Canon in D Trance"

A music post for today; this is Pachelbel's Canon in D Trance, a trance remix of Johann Pachelbel's famous musical piece:

I have a longer post for tomorrow; most of it is already written but it needs some touching up and I don't have the time to complete it tonight.

Friday, 22 February 2013

The mint cake

I finally ate my Kendal Mint Cake from Christmas 2010. Here are a couple more pictures of it:

This is of the back of the packet; I didn't include this view in the aforementioned post.

This is the mint cake itself, unwrapped but resting on the interior its wrapper. As you can see, the mint cake can be broken up into six pieces. The cake was minty, as was to be expected, and extremely sweet...also not surprising given that it is bar of sugar. The consumption of this Kendal Mint Cake marks the end of my Christmas 2010 candy; for the first time since 24 December 2010, I am not in possession of any Christmas food!

Thursday, 21 February 2013

Candy coincidence

I had an interesting coincidence take place. A couple of nights ago, I dreamt about my brother taking a bus ride to one of the neighbouring towns; the sole concern of the "dream me" was that my brother buy me some chocolate when he was out (in real-life he has occasionally brought chocolates home after he's been out for an extended period). Unfortunately, I woke up before I could learn whether or not I received any chocolate.

This past evening, my brother took a walk and stopped off at one of our local stores. Prior to him leaving, I had given him some coins and asked if he could pick up a couple of candy bars for me (he'd said he would be going to the store). It was the first time in months that this particular situation had arisen.

I found it a coincidence to be dreaming about me wanting my brother to buy me some chocolate, and a couple of days later he announces he's going to a store, causing me to ask if he could pick something up for me! My decision to ask was not prompted by the dream, and I didn't think about the dream or the coincidence  until long after I had eaten the chocolate.

Wednesday, 20 February 2013

Another local stream

I went out for a walk this afternoon, and when I was out I took these two pictures of another one of the local streams (both are phone pictures):

Tuesday, 19 February 2013

The big bubble

Here is a picture of large bubble which was once in the kitchen sink:

I need a bubble, or even an infinite supply of bubbles, of inspiration. I've had writer's block these past few days, hence the short posts. Hopefully, I'll return to more substantial writing soon.

Monday, 18 February 2013

Cuba and the Union Jack

This was another interesting video on the BBC website. It's about how the flag of the United Kingdom, the Union Jack, has become fashionable in Cuba:

The 2012 Summer Olympics in London were popular in Cuba, and it has resulted in the Union Jack becoming a fashion statement in that country. It can be seen on clothing, as tattoos, on fingernails, on cars...everywhere, at the moment!

I quite like odd, but positive, pieces of news such as this. Seeing the United Kingdom's flag become fashionable in a country such as Cuba wasn't something I ever expected!

Sunday, 17 February 2013

"Soak Up the Sun" - Sheryl Crow

I only have time for a short post tonight, and it's a music link. Here is "Soak Up the Sun" by Sheryl Crow:

It's an appropriate song because the daylight weather today was wonderful. Clear blue skies from morning until the late afternoon, followed by a moderately cloudy evening which illuminated the sky with a beautiful orange colour when the Sun set. I spent the afternoon in Coventry meeting with friends and definitely had a good day.

Saturday, 16 February 2013

Dolphin rescue

It's nearly a month old, but I found this video on the BBC:

I've always known that dolphins are intelligent animals. I find it fascinating that there's a possibility that this one was communicating with a human. I also find it upsetting to see any animal caught in a net; this dolphin was fortunate.

Friday, 15 February 2013

Potential Android names

Following up on my my post about the creativity of Android version names, I decided to come up with a list of potential names for future versions, continuing the dessert-theme. Bolded names are existing versions, the italicised name is the expected successor to the current version of Android (Jelly Bean) and the remaining names are what I came up with for this post:

C: Cupcake
D: Donut
E: Eclair
F: Froyo
G: Gingerbread
H: Honeycomb
I: Ice Cream Sandwich
J: Jelly Bean
K: Key Lime Pie
L: Lemon Meringue
M: Marzipan / Mud Pie
N: Nougat
O: Oatmeal Cookie
P. Peach Cobbler / Peppermint / Petit Four / Profiterole
Q: Quince Tart
R: Rice Pudding
S: Strawberry Trifle
T: Toffee
U: Upside-down Cake
V: Vanilla Sundae
W: Walnut Brownie
X: ?
Y: Yam Flan
Z: Zucchini Bread (I've only known this food as a dessert.)

My brother thought of O, I had to cheat for U through to Y, and I couldn't come up with anything for X! I don't know if there are any desserts that begin with the letter X. P was remarkably easy, to the point where I chose four desserts with the best-sounding names.

Thursday, 14 February 2013

"Kiss Me" - Sixpence None the Richer

It's Valentine's Day, and for this day I thought I'd link to a romantic song. Here is "Kiss Me" by Sixpence None the Richer:

"Kiss Me" was released in 1997 from Sixpence None the Richer's self-titled debut album. It was also used on the soundtrack for the film She's All That. It's also occasionally played on Heart. I love this song.

Have a lovely Valentine's Day!

Wednesday, 13 February 2013

The lengthening days

Spring and summer are on their way. The days are undeniably longer than they were a month or even a week ago, with there still being a large amount of daylight available at 5:20pm; it's another twenty-five minutes after then when it becomes dark. It won't be long before both warm weather and evening walks in the light return.

The clocks in the United Kingdom go forward on the last Sunday in March, extending the days even further; this will occur on the 31st of that month for 2013, and by then we'll have entered spring. With it snowing again, I'm sure many people are looking forward to the end of winter!

Tuesday, 12 February 2013

Kimbra and Gotye's Grammys

I didn't pay much attention to this year's Grammy Awards, but I was delighted to hear that Gotye and Kimbra had won Record of the Year and Best Pop Duo/Group Performance at the 55th Annual Grammy for "Somebody That I Used to Know". I've written a few posts where these two artists were mentioned, most notably this one and this one. Kimbra was merely someone I'd noticed by chance in a YouTube recommendation...I didn't anticipate her winning any Grammys so soon!

I was also pleased that Carrie Underwood and Kelly Clarkson won, for Best Country Solo Performance and Best Pop Vocal Album, respectively. The writers for Underwood's song "Blown Away", Josh Kear and Chris Tompkins, won a Grammy for Best Country Song.

It was also good that the Grammys didn't have one artist dominate the awards. It's nice to have a variety of people win rather than one person.

Monday, 11 February 2013

The snow branch canopy

The snow is back! Two inches of it came down last night and the driveway had to be shovelled. I went for a walk this afternoon; when on one of my usual routes I discovered this snow "canopy" among the trees:

The phone camera doesn't quite show how magnificent the snow on the branches looked. I'll see if I can take some more pictures tomorrow, assuming I take a walk and that the snow hasn't melted enough to spoil this scene.

Sunday, 10 February 2013

The microwave time

A short power outage occurred yesterday morning; for the most part the electronics in the house were unaffected, but a couple of devices with manual clocks had to be reset. One such device was the microwave, which, thanks to the outage, is now synchronised with the oven clock. Strange as it may seem, I've found this incredibly annoying.

Our microwave, for whatever reason, gains time over the course of a month, topping out at around ten minutes ahead of the actual time. The scarceness of power losses United Kingdom combined with the lack of a need to unplug the microwave has resulted in me becoming used to subtracting ten minutes whenever I look at the microwave clock. Now when I'm in the kitchen I have to check the oven clock because I can't trust the microwave...even though the latter is currently correct!

Ah well, it's one of those small, silly things that makes life more interesting. It won't be long before the microwave is back on its "correct" time.

Saturday, 9 February 2013

Music influencing a dream

Have you ever experienced music influence a dream? I'm not referring to listening to a song prior to sleeping and it shapes what you dream about — I mean sleeping while a song is playing and the real-time music manifests itself within a dream. Your mind's "characters" and the "you" inside an affected dream will be aware of the music and will often respond to it.

I have two memorable experiences of this. The first time was over four years ago: I was dreaming about riding in a pickup truck with Dad, travelling down a lengthy onramp onto a freeway. I turned on our vehicle's radio before we reached the freeway and Lady Gaga's "Just Dance" started playing inside the dream. In reality, my actual radio had activated and was playing the song; my brain had reacted to the song by having a character — me, in this case — perform an action so that the song would become a part of the dream.

The second time was this morning. The dream involved me attending a fancy event with friends and family; at one point, I sat down with a handful of friends and family at a coffee table surrounded by couches. A large radio — unlikely to ever be present at the type of event my dream was portraying — started to play "Broken Strings" by James Morrison featuring Nelly Furtado, and both I and at least one of the other characters reacted to it. Both the radio and the song were irrelevant to the rest of the dream — the song playing on a nearby outside source brought it into my thoughts.

I have had this happen several times between these two dreams, but these two are the most memorable: the first dream is my original experience into outside music altering dreams and the second is in my recent memory. I like it whenever it occurs because the outcome is always an enhanced dream, although I have to be in a light sleep for it to happen, however, as my dreams don't appear to be affected by music if I'm deeply sleeping.

I attempted to learn what the exact term for this is, but I was unable to find it. Is this something that you have experienced? I know members of family who have and I am interested to learn if it has happened to others.

Friday, 8 February 2013

"Just a Touch" - AlunaGeorge

When the BBC announced their Sound of 2013 winner and the other top nominees for the award, I discovered AlunaGeorge, an electronic/pop duo from the United Kingdom and the runner-up to the aforementioned award. I'm not usually into electronic/techno-style music, but I liked the sound of the voice of the lead singer, Aluna Francis, to want to listen to more of their music. Here is one of their songs, "Just a Touch":

AlunaGeorge have also collaborated with another group, Disclosure, on the song "White Noise", which is currently charting high here in the United Kingdom. After reading about AlunaGeorge on Sound of Music 2013, I'm glad to see them on the main charts.

Thursday, 7 February 2013

The first answer to "Who's on Heart" 2013

One of the three secret celebrities for "Who's on Heart" 2013 was guessed this morning by a lady named Debbie. Debbie's three guesses were Sharon Stone, Elton John and David Duchovny, and for her correct answer she won £10,000. Congratulations, Debbie.

However, it was never stated on-air exactly which of her guesses is one of the three voices, and listeners have had to work out which is the correct one. People on the thread for this article think it's Duchovny and I am sure it's him because Stone has already been guessed and John's voice doesn't sound like any of the three.

This is also the first time I've heard a correct answer be given live, rather than have to find out about it hours after it happened. The competition's excitement has increased!

25/04/2013 update: It has long been confirmed that David Duchovny is the first guess; the second guess has been covered here.

Wednesday, 6 February 2013

Ginger cat in the snow

The ginger cat is still around; I last saw it during the snow from a couple of weeks ago:

The cat was probably looking at me even though I was photographing it from an upstairs window. It made a delightful change to get a few pictures of its face!

Tuesday, 5 February 2013

A stream in January

I took these pictures of a stream, located by one of the many paths around my town. The stream usually runs in winter, but it can run in summer if there is enough rain:

Both of these were done with my phone.

Monday, 4 February 2013

Temptation resisted

My test to resist temptation is complete, and I passed. I can now officially start eating my remaining Christmas candy without violating my restriction. That was among the easiest "challenges" I've ever undertaken: for the most part I forgot about my chocolates, allowing them to remain in my bedroom without me considering opening them prior to the deadline.

I'm looking forward to opening my box of Ferrero Rocher chocolates tomorrow. I could have opened them today, but the 4th of February was merely the earliest time I could legitimately open them, not the scheduled date.

Sunday, 3 February 2013

Bruno Mars

On February 2nd, 2010, "Nothin' on You" by B.o.B featuring Bruno Mars was released. At that time, I did not anticipate that "Nothin' on You" would become one of a handful of songs I associate with the final months of my family's life in the United States, nor did I think that the track would pave the way for one of today's biggest artists: Bruno Mars.

"Nothin' on You" was a massive hit from B.o.B and his featured artist in 2010; I heard it almost daily from the song's release up until June of that year. Its heavy airplay at a time when my family was in the final stages of packing and moving meant it became somewhat of a comfort song for me — odd, considering its lyrical content. "Billionaire" by Travie McCoy and featuring Mars was released three months before we left the United States, and a few months later, Mars' debut solo single, "Just the Way You Are" — which earned him a Grammy for Best Male Pop Vocal Performance — started to play on British radio.

Three years after the release of "Nothin' on You"', which artist do I hear nearly every day? The answer is Bruno Mars. B.o.B and McCoy have both been successful, but Mars' is one of the biggest musical artists in the world right now. Every track from his solo debut to one of his recent singles, "Locked Out of Heaven", has been a success, as was "Lighters" — a song which he was featured in by Bad Meets Evil, and "It Will Rain", from The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn – Part 1's soundtrack. An "official parody video" was even made for one of his singles "The Lazy Song", which featured Leonard Nimoy as the star (I wrote about this once before). His songwriting for other artists, which he's done prior to and since his fame, helps to cement him as a vital part of current pop music.

Mars doesn't appear to be going away anytime soon; with the amount of airplay he receives here in the United Kingdom, I'm glad I like his music! For old times' sake, even though it's just been three years, here is "Nothin on You":

Saturday, 2 February 2013

"Oh, Missing Pair of Jeans"

Oh, missing pair of jeans,
 just where have you gone?
We used to be a team,
now we've been apart too long!

I used to feel serene,
now I feel distraught.
It makes me want to scream
"Has it all just been for nought?"
 Perhaps you have been taken
 without your own volition.
If you didn't leave me forsaken,
your return is now my mission!

Oh, missing pair of jeans,
please return to me
I pine for your seams;
all that makes you be!

Oh, Missing Pair of Jeans was inspired by my brother, who has had a pair of his jeans missing for several months and has been annoyed about it somewhat. I thought about turning the situation into a Short Story, but a simple rhyming poem seemed more appropriate. He's not obsessing over them, though!

Is the meaning clear, or is poety more open to interpretation? I very rarely write poetry so let me know what you think!

Friday, 1 February 2013

"Scream & Shout" mashup

I've written in the past that I like mashups. A friend of mine recently shared a version of and Britney Spears' "Scream & Shout" mixed with Eminem, Hilary Duff and Lady Gaga:

It's bizarre, but it's fun. The only part I was confused by was a lyric from "The Bad Touch" by Bloodhound Gang, as it didn't seem to fit in with the rest of the mashup; it didn't spoil the song, though. I had to look the lyric up to see what song the lyric came from and who sang it.