Friday, 30 June 2017

Return to Central

I spent some 2 1/2 hours at Central this afternoon. My reason for being there? Because come September, it will no longer be Central College Nottingham - by then it and New College Nottingham will form Nottingham College. As a matter of fact, they have already merged but are going through a transitional period.

My old campus on Maid Marian Way will be used for science classes; as a result, my Sociology and Psychology teachers will be moving elsewhere - to what is currently the NCN Adams campus. The canteen staff, librarians and receptionists will remain for now but it is unknown if this arrangement will last for the long-term.

Even though I finished at Central nearly a year ago, there were still plenty of staff and a small amount of students who knew me and were eager to talk if they had time to do so. I'm unsure how many will remain by September but if there are a few, I'll visit again.

Thursday, 29 June 2017

Master or mister

Yesterday, I was booking a hotel (a story for another post) and on the form when it asked for my preferred form of address, for male terms it featured "Master" in addition to just "Mr.". This is significant because I've always known "Master" to mean a young man in the place of "Mr." but prior to yesterday afternoon, I'd never seen it used anywhere.

"Master" is a cool-sounding title; it would be awesome if it gained traction in the place of "Mr." to refer to a young man.

Wednesday, 28 June 2017

Global opinion of the United States, June 2017

Unsurprisingly, the world as a whole has zero confidence in the current President of the United States compared to his predecessor and positive world opinion of America has been shattered by him, his behavior and his policies:

The question is, though, do his supporters even care that the goodwill the US generated towards itself under President Obama has evaporated? Probably not.

Tuesday, 27 June 2017

The mouldy egg

Scotch eggs are hard-boiled eggs wrapped in sausage meat and breadcrumbs. The first time I recall having one was when my family and I were living with my grandparents' in 2010; ever since then, I have liked them - well, "ever since" until today.

I bought a pack of Scotch eggs this afternoon. When I opened the breaded shell of one of them, the egg inside was partially covered with mould. I had no choice but to throw the egg away, as it wasn't safe for consumption. Fortunately, the other eggs were all okay but it took me awhile to eat them, as I had little appetite for them after seeing the mouldy egg.

Needless to say, after this incident it will be awhile before I have Scotch eggs again! That might not be a bad thing, however, as it means it's one less fatty food for me to eat.

Monday, 26 June 2017

"We'll Be Alright" - Travie McCoy

Ah...good ol' Travie McCoy:

This is "We'll Be Alright" by the aforementioned Mr. McCoy and it samples "Alright", a song by Supergrass, a British rock band from the 1990s. "We'll Be Alright" is the third single from Lazarus, his third studio album, and was released back in late 2010. "Billionaire", however, is the most known single from his album.

Travie McCoy himself is best known for being the lead singer of Gym Class Heroes, who are still an active band even with his solo career.

Sunday, 25 June 2017

Badgers and fox

Between 2:00am and 3:00am today, I spotted these animals in the backyard:

A fox and two badgers! I've seen the fox sniff and snack around the back a few times but this is the first occasion I can recall seeing a British badger (discounting those I've seen as roadkill). The badgers sniffed and snacked through the grass, too.

Saturday, 24 June 2017

Liveland History: 24th June 2012

Five years ago, I posted some of the pictures I'd taken of Carrie Underwood's concert at the Royal Albert Hall, which occurred a few days earlier on the 21st:

That was the first concert I ever attended as well as my first time in London since moving back to the United Kingdom. There's not much to add here other than it was an all-around good evening and it was a pleasure to come across this old post again when seeing what I'd written on this day in past years.

The post from the day of the concer is here.

Friday, 23 June 2017

The referendum...a year on

It has officially been a year since the United Kingdom voted to leave the European Union in the in/our referendum the country held last year. While the leave proceedings were activated back in March, negotiations to leave only began this week.

I still don't see what positives are going to come from leaving the European Union. The EU will want to protect itself from other countries trying to leave and so it will likely make an example of this country during the negotiations. Then there's the fact the recent election produced a hung parliament, so the current Prime Minister has less of a mandate than she did before. Beyond that, we still don't know how the country will fare once it is "out".

There were so many unknowns, as was noted often during the referendum campaign. Where this road one knows.

Thursday, 22 June 2017

For abs and arms

During one of the recent days at my grandparents' house, my grandfather and I sorted out their garage. While doing so, I came across a medium-sized device that looked like motorbike handles attached to a pump.

My grandfather said it was an exercise device for the torso and arms. While I walk lots, I haven't done much in the way of improving my arm strength and reducing excess stomach fat. As my grandfather no longer uses the device and didn't want to throw it away, he gave it to me.

So now I have my own exercise pump! Even a few minutes use of it per day will work wonders; the key now is to ensure I use it each day. The motivation? Keeping fit and healthy!

Wednesday, 21 June 2017

"Depressed" - DHT

This is the second to last track on my copy of Listen to Your Heart by Belgian band DHT:

It's "Depressed". As I wrote in a post of mine from over five years ago, when I first heard the track it was unlike anything I'd ever heard before in my music collection; it felt weird possessing such a song within it. Even today, "Depressed" sounds radically different from all my other music.

DHT were also briefly mentioned here. And despite my still not hearing anything new from them since either post linked here, DHT are nevertheless still an active band.

Tuesday, 20 June 2017

The little spam that was

This absurdity somehow made it through the spam filter and into the pending comments:

"Good day! I could have sworn I've been to this website before but after browsing through a few of the posts I realized it's new to me. Regardless, I'm definitely delighted I came across it and I'll be bookmarking it and checking back often! Feel free to visit my web-site"

It's more of the same nonsense my blog has received over the years: Someone "just (re-)discovers" blog, is ecstatic they found it, intend to follow me aaaaaaannnnddddd...they spam me with their site. Cool story, bro.

Monday, 19 June 2017

Last gardening for now

This afternoon, I finished my fourth and final day of the existing garden work my grandparents had for me. While it was my shortest work day, it was also my most intense because while I was finishing off the hedge cutting, I did so during the hottest part of the hottest day. Regardless, I completed all my outstanding tasks.

There is more work for me to do at their house but not for a couple of weeks. There will be grass to cut again, two hedges to trim and a gate to paint. The hedge I was already trimming might have grown back by then, which would give me some extra work to do. It doesn't matter - I'll be happy to do it!

Sunday, 18 June 2017

Baking hot June 2017

The past week or so has seen the hottest weather I've experienced here in a while. While at my grandparents' house, I had to have my large bottle of water with me so that I would keep hydrated - more so than usual. It has honestly been that hot and it's very difficult to cool down.

Even now, it's about 11:00pm and it's still boiling outside. Usually the temperature has cooled down by now but not this evening; tomorrow, I'll be going to my grandparents' again to do some more work and I hope it won't be baking hot out. If it is, however, I'll have my water and I'll borrow a hat from my grandfather.

Saturday, 17 June 2017

"Your Body" - Christina Aguilera

I've been humming this song lately:

It's "Your Body" by Christina Aguilera and comes from Lotus, her seventh and most recent studio album. Both "Your Body" and Lotus were released nearly five years ago and this song is the newest Aguilera single I have heard on the radio. While the song itself received mixed reviews, the music video for "Your Body" has been hailed as one of Aguilera's best.

Friday, 16 June 2017

What decade is he living in?

So, the current President of the United States has now begun work to dismantle President Obama's work in making Cuba a friend:

One of his quotes when announcing this rollback was, ""We will not be silenced in the face of communist oppression any longer". Er...what communist oppression has ever silenced the United States? This reckless, illogical action is nothing more than this president continuing to undo the legacy of his predecessor. There is little to suggest why the United States moving towards its former position on Cuba would be a benefit to anyone.

The current president is talking about communism and Cuba as though they are pressing threats. If this were the 1960s, perhaps he'd be right, but it's 2017 and he's talking nonsense.

Thursday, 15 June 2017

The, it wasn't

While I was working at my grandparents' house again today, there were no chickens to assist me. About the only animal that came anywhere close to me was a low-flying pigeon, which thankfully kept flying rather than...unleashed itself below.

I'll be going to my grandparents' again tomorrow to finish off what I didn't complete today. If there is any additional work for me to do, I can always return on Monday, if my grandparents are open to that.

Wednesday, 14 June 2017

The chicken

I visited my grandparents today to do some garden work for them. One task consisted of me trimming the hedge at the back of their property; while said hedge faces their neighbours' house, the hedge nevertheless belongs to my grandparents.

While I trimmed the hedge, I had "help" from one of the neighbours' chickens. As the leaves from the hedge fell to the ground, the chicken rummaged through it looking for snails to eat. She had previously looked through the rest of the yard for food but decided that her newfound leaves were far more worthy of a forage for food than anywhere else.

I'll be back at my grandparents' house tomorrow and Friday to do more work at theirs.

Tuesday, 13 June 2017

Sunny London June 2017

This was the weather last Saturday in London:

It was like this all day in London; the only time it was overcast at all was in Clifton at the start of the day. What added to the sunshine was the constant pleasant breeze.

This is only the second image that I've uploaded to my blog this year.

Monday, 12 June 2017

University year 1 - end of academic year

Last Friday, the 9th, marked the official end to this academic year at Nottingham Trent University. While the academic year is over, accommodation contracts don't end until late July and the campus libraries will remain open all summer, albeit at a reduced level compared to term time.

There we have it. My first year at university is complete. I now have the summer to enjoy before year 2 begins in October.

Sunday, 11 June 2017

London 2017 - National Express

My chosen method of travelling to and from London yesterday was via National Express - a coach company. While coaches take longer to reach London than trains do, they are significantly cheaper. Once I knew when I'd be travelling to London, I booked a month and a half in advance and paid a low fare for my tickets; the other trade-off besides the journey taking longer is that I was restricted to taking the buses at the specified booking times. For example, my bus from Nottingham was only the one at 6:05am and my return from London was at 9:30pm; if I'd missed them I'd have to have bought a new ticket for another bus and it would have been more expensive.

The route down was fun. While much of it took place on the M1 (the UK's main motorway from the south to the north), there was a brief stop in Milton Keynes and the route through London to the Victoria coach station took the bus through the Royal Borough of Kensington, which I'd never seen in person before. For the route back, it again stopped briefly in Milton Keynes but also went through downtown Leicester, which makes it the second time I've seen Leicester between 12:00am and 2:00am.

Will I travel via National Express again. Most certainly, yes!

Saturday, 10 June 2017

London trip June 2017

I'm off to London today! I'm currently on a National Express bus bound for the city. My reason reason for travelling to London today is to finally meet, after nine years of knowing her, an online/Skype friend. Should be fun!

Hmm...I haven't posted any pictures for a while now, have I? I'll see what I can do while I'm there, provided the rain doesn't prevent me.

Friday, 9 June 2017

Results of the United Kingdom general election of 2017

All results for the general election are through. Despite expectations that they would increase their majority - possibly drastically - the Conservatives instead lost several seats and with it, their majority in Parliament. As a result, in order to govern, the Prime Minister has had to make a deal with the Democratic Unionist Party, a party in Northern Ireland, who have enough seats to support the Conservatives and give them a small majority.

The Labour Party, which had long been expected to losses masses of seats to the Conservatives, instead gained 30 seats. Labour was able to seize long-term Tory seats such as Canterbury and Kensington, both of which (and other seats) were attributed to heavy turnout of the under-25s, which is estimated to have been over 72% this election. While Labour did lose a handful of seats through a combination of them being in Brexit-voting areas or the UKIP vote went to the Conservatives, Labour otherwise weathered the Brexit vote and also increased its margins in many Remain areas, taking out Tories in the process.

The Scottish National Party lost nearly half of its seats but nevertheless remain the largest party in Scotland and the third-biggest in Scotland. Their losses can be attributed to them overplaying their hand at another independence referendum; Scots mostly consider the matter settled and are likely tired of voting, seeing as they've had more national referendums to vote on when the AV from from 2011 is included.

The Liberal Democrats increased their numbers from 8 to 12 but had their margins reduced in some seats and their former leader, Nick Clegg, was defeated in Sheffield Hallam; his loss marked the first time that Labour has won that seat. Despite taking a heavily pro-Remain stance, Liberal Democrat gains were fairly minor/

The United Kingdom Independence Party/UKIP again failed to win any seats and its share of the vote severely collapsed, in both number and percentage. Many UKIP voters returned to the Tories although there were a large number who returned to Labour, too.

It is hard to predict where British poltics will go from here. Some are expecting another election in the fall but that will depend on how well the Tories can govern with their DUP-backed minority administration. It also depends on if any political infighting takes place within any of the parties; while Jeremy Corbyn appears to have emerged from this election unscathed thanks to his strong campaign and achieving the first Labour seat increase since 1997, many on the Tory side are annoyed with their leader for calling an election which they were supposed to win and, instead, ended up losing.

Thursday, 8 June 2017

2017 election night

I'm at my mother and brother's house, in my brother's room (with him) awaiting the results of the general election. Our intent is to stay up all night or stay up to a point when the result is obvious. The full result won't be known until about 5:00am but a current exit poll points to a hung Parliament, with the Tories and Scottish National Party losing seat and Labour and the Liberal Democrats gaining. Should be interesting.

Wednesday, 7 June 2017

Jacket luck

I had a bout of good luck yesterday afternoon. As it was raining outside, I wore my thin coat over my fleece; however, by the time I made it to my bus it had stopped raining, was warm and I was sweating. I tied both my fleece and my coat around my waist before I boarded the 48 to the city centre.

When I arrived in the centre, without noticing it my jacket slipped off me. It was only when I was in Bulwell that I realised it had come off; at first, I thought I'd lost the coat but then I remembered, assuming it had come off on either the 48 or the 17 (my bus to Bulwell), there was a chance it would be in Nottingham City Transport's lost and found collection. After I'd finished in Bulwell I returned to the city centre on the 68 line.

On that bus back I realised there were other places it could have come off. When I was in the Victoria Centre, for example, although there was a chance I could get it back in there, too; but there were other places, like Bulwell bus station and the entire stretch from the 48 to the 17. I had conceded that the coat was lost but I hoped that someone in need would pick it up, such as a homeless person.

As luck would have it, when I returned to the bus stops back to Clifton, the jacket was next to a bin; it was dirty from being trodden on but it was there! I picked it up in relief and couldn't believe my luck in retrieving what I thought was a lost coat.

Tuesday, 6 June 2017

My vote for the United Kingdom's 2017 general election

The general election is nearly upon us. So how is it that the United Kingdom is facing a general election now, after holding one two years ago? The answer is that Parliament voted to hold one three years early, the reason being that the Prime Minister wanted to seek a mandate for her vision of Brexit whereas the leading figures of the opposition have been eager to challenge her, both to claim a mandate for their own Brexit visions and to take the country in a different direction to where it has been travelling for the past seven years.

The two primary figures of this election are Theresa May, who is the current Prime Minister and the leader of the Conservative Party, and Jeremy Corbyn, who's the Leader of the Opposition and the Labour Party leader. Minor figures include Nicola Sturgeon of the Scottish National Party, Tim Farron of the Liberal Democrats, Caroline Lucas of the Greens and Paul Nuttall of the United Kingdom Independence Party.

With all that in mind, for whom shall I be voting? For once, it's an easy decision: My vote this year will given to Corbyn's Labour and it will be the first time I've ever voted for the Labour Party. In the past, I've voted for smaller parties (not UKIP) because I long considered Labour, Conservatives and the Liberal Democrats to be three slightly different versions of the same party. Not anymore. With Jeremy Corbyn, a staunch progressive, in charge of Labour, we at last have a clear difference between our two main parties. Instead of proposing more austerity, more tax cuts for billionaires and more war, Corbyn is instead promising to re-invest in the country, such as reversing cuts that have been made to essential services like the National Health Service and the police. Other key policies will be to scrap student tuition fees, to re-nationalise several privatised services and to protect childcare and pensioner benefits, as well as to expand them where possible.While Corbyn's Labour will still be carrying out Brexit, they have promised to do so in a fair manner that benefits Britain, rather than a "Hard Brexit" (or "Brutality Brexit") that leaves the country with nothing, including stripping away human rights that citizens are afforded under European Union law.

For the 2015 election, while Ed Miliband was a leader I could respect, he was regularly sabotaged by his own cabinet, as he was unable to select whom he wanted and was forced to accept was the Parliamentary Labour Party chose for him. As such, whenever he tried to break away from the image of Labour being seen as a second Conservative Party, he was held back and the party's message was clouded; thus, I was not able to vote for Miliband Labour. By contrast, Corbyn has been able to choose his own cabinet and despite a rebellion to overthrow him last year, he has endured and the party message is from him.

Corbyn is regularly dismissed by his critics as an "idealist" with policies that are "unaffordable" and/or "unworkable". My response to that is why are people like Corbyn, who genuinely want to re-invest in this country and its people again, viewed in such a manner whereas nationalists, warmongers and austerity-pushers are all seen as "common sense"? In 1945, after World War II, the United Kingdom was in ruins and what was left of the British Empire was seeking independence; despite this, the Labour government that came into power under Clement Attlee that year established the support system that still exists today, despite erosion from neo-liberal (pro-corporate) policies. If 1945 Britain could do it, why not 2017 Britain? I’ve noticed that the "We are British! We can do anything!" attitude always seems to evaporate when it comes to, say, re-investing in our schools, redeveloping our roads or funding our National Health Service.

And Corbyn isn't someone who is promising a load of "nice things", only to follow up with the opposite once elected; he became an MP in 1983 - the same year as former Prime Ministers Tony Blair and Gordon Brown - and his voting record supports his message. This is a man who was arrested for protesting apartheid and was called a "loony lefty" for supporting gay marriage at a time when it was politically unpopular to do so. He has flaws, of course - he is a person, after all - but for the first time in British politics, there is someone I can believe in and trust, similar to how I felt about Barack Obama in 2008. Only this time, however, I can vote - and I shall do so.

Monday, 5 June 2017

Upcoming 2017 general election post

I have started work on a post that will explain my voting intentions for Thursday's general election. I shall be writing it from the perspective of why I think my preferred candidate is qualified, rather than a rant about how much the other side sucks. It's an explanation with possible gentle persuasion, not an attack piece.

Sunday, 4 June 2017

One Love Manchester

This evening, I was at my mother and brother's house, where I watched with them the One Love Manchester concert, headed by Ariana Grande after her concert was bombed over two weeks ago. As a way to support the victims and the city of Manchester, she arranged this benefit concert for them and hosted a range of other musicians, such as Take That, Robbie Williams, the Black Eyed Peas, Miley Cyrus, Pharrell, Little Mix and Liam Gallagher, among many others.

The theme of the concert was love and unity, which were emphasised throughout, as was the power of music. The power of music...reminds me of what I said in a very early blog post of mine:

Given what's been happening in the world as of late, I think we all need more love and unity.

Saturday, 3 June 2017

"Gypsy Woman" - Crystal Waters

A song from when I used to listen regularly to the Heart radio network:

It's "Gypsy Woman", also known as "Gypsy Woman (She's Homeless)" and as "Gypsy Woman (La da dee la da da)", by Crystal Waters, from her debut album, Surprise. This is only one of two songs I know of from Crystal Waters, the other being "100% Pure Love" from her follow-up album, Storyteller, but I heard it on a 1990s dance compilation album named Pulse.

Friday, 2 June 2017

Trentbarton HQ

This afternoon, I travelled to Heanor, Derbyshire, on Trentbarton's Rapid One route to visit the company's headquaters there; however, it was not merely a social call. No, I was there to attend a focus group for how Trentbarton can incentivise more younger people into using their buses.

I wasn't quite sure what to expect when I attended but the meeting was set out as a chat situated upon comfortable furniture, with a tin of Fox's biscuits on the coffee table; in addition to the two ladies running the group, there were two customers like me who were also in attendance. It was mostly a Q&A session about the services, such as friendliness of the drivers and state of the buses, as well as about fares and methods of pay, such as the MANGO cards.

Overall, I thought it was an enjoyable session. It was a relaxed setting and the ladies who ran the meeting were highly pleasant. Given the amount of times I've travelled on Trentbarton buses, going to their headquarters was something of an honour.

Thursday, 1 June 2017

Paris climate agreement redux

So, it happened:

The US President announced that America would indeed be withdrawing from the Paris Agreement. His official reason is that it protects American jobs and workers and prevents the country from becoming a laughingstock but his election made it a laughingstock.

The world - and even Americans in general - does not really care about the protection of coal mining jobs in Kentucky and West Virginia nor about the profits of the president's corporate cronies, which is the real reason he's carried out his "promise" to withdraw. That, and because he wants to undo everything President Obama achieved.

This childish and vindictive administration really needs to be reigned in and removed; unfortunately, while his party controls Congress and lives in its own reality, that's not likely for now. His supporters are still no better, thinking that the US withdrawing from the Paris Agreement is a victory against "global elites" (it isn't).