Friday, 28 February 2014

Kitchen towel with a hat

It's been almost three months since I last made a "...with a hat" post. Here is a completely random iten - in this case a roll of kitchen towel - wearing my Jubilee hat:

I had no other ideas for a post today, unfortunately, as I have been busy and have been behind on some things. I hope to have this problem rectified in the next day or two.

Thursday, 27 February 2014

Something that really annoys me

I cannot stand articles like this:

It has the problems of being both an attack on American English and on Americans in general, and of misrepresenting British people by generalizing them as petty, America-hating bigots who are intolerant of other variations of English. Granted, people like that do exist here, but they are not a majority or even a significant minority; it's not "what British people hate about Americans" but rather, "what some narrow-minded individuals don't like about another country". Bashing of American English becomes very boring very quickly and pictures of Betty White, awesome though she is, don't lighten the overall negativity of the article's content.

I've heard most of those "complaints" in the aforementioned article before but the ones in the list that stand out the most are #2. because it's hideously offensive and trivializes all the deaths that occurred that day; and #10. because that person is ignorant of the fact that the use of "fall" to mean "autumn" was commonplace in the UK prior to 1900 and is hardly an American invention, not the mention that many Americans use fall and autumn interchangeably.

It isn't just this particular page, though; I merely chose it for this piece because I saw it today. There are plenty of articles about what British people supposedly think of America, but in reality it's just a few arrogant and ignorant people making hateful comments about cultural differences. These people exist everywhere but I am confident that they are a shrinking group, given that differences are embraced rather than dismissed and because everyone in the world is much closer now than ever before.

Sorry for the rant. I just hate "criticism" of the US that's actually trolling rather than valid criticism and I hate articles which imply that British people (or other types of people, including Americans) are all narrow-minded and bigoted.

Wednesday, 26 February 2014

Kettle blue

This is the kettle when it boils water:

The lights at the base illuminate the water, which photographed at the right moment almost give the appearance of blue fire or plasma rather than liquid.

Tuesday, 25 February 2014

Internet commenter behaviour over phones

Yesterday evening, the Samsung Galaxy S5 was unveiled at the Mobile World Congress 2014 in Barcelona, Spain. While I occasionally followed the device itself - and some others - due to my minor interest in certain tech products, what really captured my attention was the Internet commenter behaviour over the phone.

Among the negative responses that I've read is that its design is "boring" and "ugly". Okay...why do people care about how a phone looks? It's a tool and as long as that tool does what you want it to do, its looks don't matter! So what if it looks boring; you're not getting married to it, after all. My computer desk isn't sexy; in fact, it's fairly boring in appearances but it serves its purpose perfectly.

Next complaint? "Not innovative enough". Tell me, just how many times can anyone innovate and re-innovate a flat rounded-rectangle before it becomes a dodecahedron? Until phones are completely bendable or made to be extremely energy efficient or become key tools like in ReBoot, the room for innovation is fairly limited for now.

The third complaint and my favourite complaint of all: "Doesn't meet my expectations". Right. Again, it is a phone, a tool. What "expectations" did you have for it? For to it have an infinite battery life? A 500-megapixel camera? The ability to fly? To prepare your food for you? I wonder if the people who have high expectations for gadgets are the same people who have high expectations when it comes to relationships, and then whine about being single because no one meets their ridiculous standards.

As for positive reception, it consisted of the usual fanboyish and outlandish "IT'S AWESOME/BEAUTIFUL/EVERYTHING I EVER DREAMED OF!" to some people providing a furious defence of the phone against its critics, as though criticism of the phone were somehow a poisonous personal attack against all of them and their collective reputations. Unsurprisingly, the latter almost always descended into name-calling from the critics and defenders alike. Somewhere in the mix were some reasonable human beings adding helpful positive commentary about the device.

Like all other phones and tools, the Galaxy S5 is not something worth getting angry or defensive about, and Internet flame wars over a phone are amongst the most pointless activities one can imagine, let alone engage in. I do not subscribe to the nonsensical notion that phones are a fashion statement or a status symbol; they are a means of communication and entertainment, nothing more, nothing less. Productive discussion and idle chit-chat about them is fine, but fights and rampant fanboyism over a tool is just stupid.

Finally, it could be argued that I am defending the Galaxy S5, thereby contradicting the message of my post by being a crypto-fanboy. In reality, I've observed the above criticisms of the Galaxy S5 be applied to other phones, too (every iPhone, for example, receives all of the above complaints); I merely singled out this particular model for my post and point here because this behaviour was something I wanted to write about and because it's a recent product unveiling. I am not some self-appointed valiant defender of everything Samsung...just a person who wants to write about some people's bizarre behaviour over everyday gadgets!

I should also note that it doesn't matter how good or bad the phone is, anyway...I'm not getting one! It would be an understatement to say that I am extremely satisfied with the phone I recently received from my Hong Kong uncle; I am not greedy or stupid to want more when I already have what I need and want.

Monday, 24 February 2014

"Second Chance" - Shinedown

Not every song that I like is dance-pop, teen pop, by some obscure or forgotten artist, or by Lady Gaga or Fergie or Katy Perry. Surprisingly, I happen to like songs such as this one:

It's "Second Chance" by alternative rock/post-grunge band Shinedown and it's from their 2008 studio album, The Sound of Madness. I first heard "Second Chance" when it played on mainstream U.S. radio in early to mid-2009 and I liked the song almost immediately. Sure, I love pop/dance music, but a good rock song? Definitely!

I also liked Shinedown's other single from The Sound of Madness that had success on mainstream U.S. radio: "If You Only Knew". It didn't perform in the charts quite a well as "Second Chance" did, but it was successful in its own right.

Oh, and The Sound of Madness is indeed in my music collection; it's not as though as I liked the two songs but ignored the album from which they were released! The Sound of Madness is a great album and I was fortunate to receive a deluxe copy.

Sunday, 23 February 2014

Foxes follow-up

Nearly a week ago, I posted two songs from Foxes, "Let Go for Tonight" and "Youth". I also briefly mentioned the song Zedd with with her, called "Clarity".

This afternoon, I was listening to an interview with Foxes on the radio. The interviewers noted that she had won a Grammy Award; sure enough, when I checked the list of winners for the 2014 Grammys, she and Zedd won the Grammy Award for Best Dance Recording for "Clarity".

While Foxes won a Grammy as a featured artist, her win is impressive given the short amount of time she's been prominent: her Wikipedia page was created in May of 2013 and she's been active since 2011, although the general public only started hearing about her last year. It would be great if her upcoming studio album, titled Glorious, or one of her solo singles wins a Grammy, too.

Saturday, 22 February 2014

The Sorting Cone

As it was a bright and sunny Saturday today, I went out for a walk. During my walk, I photographed this dented traffic cone:

While it's only a rough similarity, this particular cone made me think of the Sorting Hat from Harry Potter, as its dent is in the place where the Hat's mouth would be. Of course, it might just end up being only me who thinks this!

Friday, 21 February 2014

My old phone

Early this month, I wrote that my Hong Kong uncle gave me his old - albeit powerful and near-perfect condition - phone and I gave Mum my now-former phone. So, after just under three weeks of Mum and me using a new phone each, how have things been?

As evidenced by my recent blog pictures, I've been making great use of the camera on mine; it's a fantastic phone camera. The phone is also larger than my previous one, much faster, has more built-in storage and has a high-quality screen. I have nothing but compliments for the phone and am grateful that my uncle gave it to me.

With Mum, as I said in the linked post above, she's been delighted with my old phone. Its larger screen allows her to have an easier time texting (no spelling errors) and its greater sensitivity to touch means that she doesn't have to press down hard on a screen anymore. Mum wasn't able to play games on a mobile device before but she is able to do so now. She also like its better camera, although this is something she really needs to practise with, as she barely took any pictures with her old phone. Again, no complaints.

Interestingly, while my old phone felt large when I first got it, it feels small given that I'm now used to my new one! As Mum is used to her new phone, her old one feels small to her.

Thursday, 20 February 2014

The water tower

When out on my walk today, my route took me extremely close to my town's water tower:

I was closer to the tower when I was on the other side seen in the picture, but I wasn't comfortable taking a picture right next to someone's house! A few water towers like this one can be seen in this area of the country.

Wednesday, 19 February 2014


Following up on my post about TLC's "Unpretty", which was also about body image issues, I recently saw this video about photoshopping:

It's disappointing that unrealistic expectations of women's looks are still prevalent in today's day and age. Not only do these high expectations put pressure on girls and women to conform to a certain appearance, as shown in the video, but it also indoctrinates men into thinking that women have to look like photoshopped supermodels.

From my point of view, all four women in the video are more attractive in their natural appearances than when they were photoshopped; there's nothing wrong with how any of them look and their supposed "imperfections" are merely parts of who they are. I hope that most men would share my opinion; it would deeply unfortunate for society if most men preferred photoshopped women over how women actually look.

Of course, I don't have any problem whatsoever with women applying make-up to themselves, as a lot of women do it to boost their self-esteem and/or simply because they enjoy doing it, but I wouldn't ever expect a woman to look like a fashion model. No one looks "perfect" and even if they did, it wouldn't be natural.

Tuesday, 18 February 2014

Mind's a blank

Well, that's unfortunate. I've been struggling to come up with posts for the past seven days or so and tonight I am unable to come up with something beyond saying that I can't come up with anything! Still, today's lack of a decent post isn't due to a complete lack of thinking on my part: I have been doing other writing's just that it hasn't been for my blog!

On the bright side, usually whenever I write a post like this I follow it up with some good ones, so I'm hoping that tomorrow's post will be much more exciting!

Monday, 17 February 2014

"Let Go for Tonight" and "Youth" - Foxes

I rarely write about two songs in one post, but in this case, I liked the two I was deciding between equally and ultimately went with writing about them both. These are two songs by Foxes, a British singer:

I discovered Foxes either when I came across "Youth" one day on YouTube or because I heard her featured in Zedd's song "Clarity", which has been popular here; regardless, it was definitely when I heard "Youth" and watched its video that I hoped solo work from Foxes would play on the radio. Sure enough, for the past couple of months her single "Let Go for Tonight" has been played, usually during the evenings.

Both "Youth" and "Let Go for Tonight" are from Foxes' upcoming studio album, Glorious. I'll be sure to buy it.

Sunday, 16 February 2014

Ten pound note

Following up on my previous post about British banknotes, here are two pictures of £10 note:

The reverse side of the £10 banknote currently has Charles Darwin on it. In the next few years, Darwin's portrait on the £10 note will be replaced with Jane Austen's.

As usual, the current reigning monarch is featured on the obverse side of the note, in this case, Queen Elizabeth II.

Saturday, 15 February 2014

2013 chocolates finished

Six days ago, I wrote that I was down to my last bit of Christmas chocolates - a tub of Celebrations. Those chocolates are now finished. Overall, my Christmas chocolates took two weeks to go through once I started eating (and sharing) them.

Not that you need an update on when I've eaten something, mind you, but given that I'd already written about abstaining from eating my Christmas candies for a little over a month, it seemed okay to write about when I had finished them. Besides, it's still something to write about!

As for updates and food, I still haven't found my missing mint cake. It's beyond me how I lost a rectangular lump of sugar.

Friday, 14 February 2014

Food for Valentine's Day

For this Valentine's Day, my brother and I made some brownies (yeah, more brownies! They're just so easy to make.). These ones are chocolate with coconut and cherries:

Happy Valentine's Day!

Thursday, 13 February 2014

"Crying for No Reason" - Katy B

The song that I'm into currently is this one:

It's "Crying for No Reason" by Katy B, taken from her second studio album, Little Red. Katy B is a dubstep/garage artist but her music is also regarded as pop. I don't completely understand exactly what dubstep/garage-style music is but whenever I've heard a song described as being in those genres, I've usually found that it's been a song I've disliked; however, Katy B is an exemption, as her music, whatever its exact genres are, is good.

While there are several of Katy B's song that I like, such as "Broken Record" and "Lights On", "Crying for No Reason" is, in my opinion, her best song to date. My brother is more into Katy B than I am, in all fairness, but I do like her. She has a strong voice.

Wednesday, 12 February 2014


While my blog reached 50,000 views yesterday, this writing it officially brings it to 1,000 posts. I have written a post every day since I began my blog in May 2011; while I am sure that I will miss a day eventually, for now I have been able to maintain a post each day. In fact, in you count a couple of days in 2011 when I wrote two posts each, I'm slightly above one post per day.

As with yesterday, thank you to everyone who reads my work!

Tuesday, 11 February 2014

Halfway to 10% of a million

Air Nice-to-Livelands offically reached 50,000 views today; that's halfway to 10% of a million views. A big thank you to all my readers, whether they be my friends and fellow bloggers, people who follow my blog silently or those who happen to randomly come across it. I'm happy to write and I am both pleased and honoured that people read my work.

Here's to the next 50,000 views and beyond!

Monday, 10 February 2014

"Who's On Heart" 2014 update

There has been a change to the nearly £50,000 (originally £30,000) jackpot for "Who's On Heart" 2014. The reward for correctly guessing all three names has been upped to £100,000 and now that the jackpot has been more than doubled, £100 is no longer being added to it with every incorrect guess.

I don't know what prompted the change. The competition has been going on for a month now, which is not unusual nor unreasonable. I don't really think it'll incentivise people to try harder when it's always been difficult to successfully phone in and because £30,000-£50,000 is a lot of money already.

Still, it helps keep the listeners interested!

Sunday, 9 February 2014

Eaten chocolates

Remember when I wrote a few days ago in January's Secret Life of Bloggers Blog Party post that I still had (almost) all of my Christmas chocolate left? Since that post, the only chocolate I have remaining is a large tub of Celebrations.

Have I been greedily munching all those chocolates to myself? No! Far from it: I've shared quite a lot of my chocolate with Dad and Mum, and have given a little bit to my brother. I'm always happy to share my chocolates with anyone who wants any of it; it would be extremely selfish of me not to, especially since Dad shares his with everyone else. Besides, it's fun to share.

It's quite funny that I've written this post today, given that yesterday I wrote about cutting back on desserts. Fortunately, the chocolates are the only sweet foods I've been eating for this past week, so it's not as though I've been gorging on a variety of desserts.

Saturday, 8 February 2014

The long walk and fitness

My brother and I went for a lengthy walk this morning, going to a park in another town. I used this as an opportunity to take some pictures with my new phone. What do you think of these?

In addition, I am officially fitter than I was a year (or even a few months) ago. Last time I walked with my brother, I had to ask him to slow down so I could keep up with him. During today's walk, I was not only able to match his pace without becoming exhausted, but on occasions I sped ahead of him. Since last summer, I have been both eating a little less (especially cutting back on desserts) and going on short-length power walks to help keep myself healthy. I'm glad to see that my efforts are paying off.

Friday, 7 February 2014


Around a year ago, I wrote about a stream (which my brother later told me was actually a river, but never mind) here and here. Would you agree that the water level wasn't too high and had a fairly gentle flow? Well, this is it at the moment:

All the rain has caused this tributary to overflow and, as evidenced by the colour of the water, to begin eroding its banks. I can assure you that it is the same river as the one pictured in the above links, it just hasn't been this full or strong before. At any rate, this river's overflow is nothing compared to the areas of this country that are currently flooding.

Thursday, 6 February 2014

"She Keeps Me Warm" - Mary Lambert

Have you ever heard Macklemore's pro-LGBT song "Same Love"? Did you know Mary Lambert is the singer he features in "Same Love"? Well, Lambert took her lyrics from "Same Love" and created a whole new song from them - her debut single "She Keeps Me Warm":

I think that "She Keeps Me Warm" is a beautiful song and has a fitting music video. I also love Mary Lambert's voice and I hope that we'll get to hear much more from her.

Wednesday, 5 February 2014

Twenty pound note

As I've posted pictures of British coins here before, I thought I'd post some pictures of British paper money, too. Here is a twenty pound note:

Queen Elizabeth II is on the obverse side of the twenty pound note and is on this side of all the other British banknotes. The current reigning monarch is always on the front of the currency.

The reverse side of the twenty pound shows Adam Smith, the Scottish economic theorist known as the "father of modern economics".

Would you like to see more British banknotes? I'd be happy to post about them!

Tuesday, 4 February 2014

"Star Trek: Time Warp"

Have you ever watched any of the various Star Trek programs and/or seen the film The Rocky Horror Picture Show? If so, you might enjoy this video:

It uses well-chosen scenes from all five of the Star Trek shows and some of its movies while putting them to the song "The Time Warp" from The Rocky Horrow Picture Show. It's hilarious to people who have seen both but it should still be entertaining to those have only seen one or even neither.

Monday, 3 February 2014

Bloggers Blog Party - January 2014

My images from January 2014 for the Secret Life of Bloggers Blog Party; unfortunately, I had to force a couple of these pictures, as this recent January was not a good month for photography.

Friday, 3rd January: The chocolate that I received on Christmas Day. I went through another "resisting temptation" this year, except this time I did it with all of my chocolate rather the largest boxes of it. I started eating my chocolate on the 2nd of February.

Saturday, 11th January: A delicious chocolate and raisin cake that my brother and I made. Chocolate cake made with raisins is tastier and more moist than chocolate cake made with chocolate chips.

Saturday, 18th July: A sky full of grey clouds. It's been like this for much of January and is a reason why I haven't taken many pictures.

Tuesday, 21st January: This day started out foggy, but it cleared up by the afternoon. This is a chimney surrounded by the fog.

Friday, 31st January: This is an X-Mi X Mini speaker. Three and a half years ago, my Hong Kong uncle recommended these speakers, as they plug into headphone jacks, have excellent battery life, have USB support and are easily transportable; the sound they generate is of decent quality, too. I've been using this one as my laptop's main speaker quite some time now.

Again, this hasn't been a great month for photography around here. I haven't had much incentive to take many pictures and I was fortunate to take even these five images for the party; the last picture was the most forced of this lot.

Sunday, 2 February 2014

Yesterday's gift

I mentioned in yesterday's post that I had received a gift during a visit to Nottingham to see my Hong Kong uncle. I said that this gift would help me with my blog. So, what did I receive?

A new phone! Well, it's actually not new but it is to me. When I saw my Hong Kong uncle last summer, he mentioned that he would be getting himself a new phone and would be retiring his old one. When I asked him if he was planning to sell it at all, he said that I could have it once he was finished with it.

How will the phone help with the blog? It has a significantly improved camera compared to my now-old phone, both in megapixels (8 vs 5) and in image quality. While I usually use my main camera for photographs, I do take a lot with my phone and I'm looking forward to taking pictures with my new phone! Its indoor shots, even in low light, are fairly decent and I'm curious to see what they're like in natural outside light.

As for the phone I bought in September of 2012, I have given that to my mother. She is delighted about having my old phone, as it is a vast improvement upon hers, which was also mine before I upgraded in late 2012.

Saturday, 1 February 2014

Nottingham visit, February 2014

All four of us went to Nottingham for the day to visit my grandparents and to see my Hong Kong uncle, who is in the United Kingdom over the Chinese New Year. My relatives from the East of England were there and my other Nottingham relatives came over in the evening for dinner. I think that everyone had a good day; I certainly don't have any complaints.

In addition, I received a certain gift that will help me with some contributions to my blog. I shall reveal what this gift is in due course.