Monday, 31 March 2014

March Misison - The Results!

A slighty more successful month in March, you can find a link to the March mission here!

I didn't have an adventure every day (who actually lives like that?!!) but did manage to squeeze a few mini adventures in (although I suppose it depends what your definition of adventure is!).

The planned adventure to walk to Ripley and explore the Nidd Gorge was rained off and instead was replaced with watching a blummin horror movie - which is always an adventure (or traumatic experience to be more precise) for me.

Another adventure was a trip to the ballet. Yes, I said ballet!

Thanks to a great offer on Travelzoo we manged to get half price tickets to the Northern Ballet production of Cleopatra and thought we'd give it a go - and we loved it! The adventure started with a visit to the new Yorkshire Meatball Co. in Harrogate to take advantage of their lunch deal, I'd highly recommend the fish balls (and yes, I'm also aware of how wrong that sounds!), and then a bus ride to Leeds where we had a few pre-theatre drinks before going to It Bar for their fantastic pre-theatre dinner offer.

I'm not sure we'd have enjoyed a traditional classic ballet but this was absolutely fantastic so now we're looking for more offers/deals so we can have another ballet adventure (and now I wish I hadn't just put those two words together - my mind has a habit of recreating at home what can otherwise be undo-able for some reason and I'm really not sure that the sight of John in tights (or me for that matter) is one that anyone should have inflicted on them!)

The month's adventures continued with a weekend visit (and my first meeting) from John's Dad and Stepmum, I was mildly less terrified than I was when faced with the prospect of the horror movie but we all survived in one piece and I didn't scream or jump out of my skin at all so it must have been a success :-)

And the final adventure (although John might argue that the Liverpool game yesterday qualifies as another adventure!) was a mini break to Jamaica - in the living room!

I borrowed some inspiration (and much of the decorations) from Hotter then Hawaii Day and decided that, as John had mentioned that he'd like to go to Jamaica one day, I'd bring Jamaica to us instead! With the help of Bernie's John (this was coincidence honest - definitely not an attempt to simplify things for the parents by just having to remember one name!) I got John out of the house for the evening and then with the help of Rachel (thank you!) transformed the bedroom into the interior of a plane (complete with mini bar and inflight movie (which I slept through))...

...the living room into a beach (complete with sand, sea, tropical forest, palm trees, beach chairs (and towels) and a tropical snack shack - notice the Red Stripe glasses and bottle of Jamaican rum!)...

 ...and the bathroom into the ocean (complete with sand, sea, dolphins, shark, fish and rustly sea sounding paper around the bath)... 

...then I packed a suitcase, grabbed our passports and waited for him to get home!

When he did get home it suddenly struck me that actually he might be a little disappointed on discovering that we weren't really going anywhere but he played along admirably and was suitably amused and intrigued about our 'destination'.

Having warned him that it was a long flight I got up early the next morning, whacked the heating on full blast, donned a bikini and sarong, started the 8 hours of reggae saved to my laptop, sprayed sun lotion (for that authentic holiday smell) and made fried plantains and eggs (well I would have done if I'd been able to find any - sweet potatoes were a good substitute though) for breakfast before bringing John downstairs and welcoming him to Jamaica!

By 10.30 in the morning we were sat on the 'beach' drinking frozen cocktails before a sightseeing tour around the island (via a Jamaican tourism dvd) followed by some Jamaican sizzling chilli prawns for lunch and more cocktails (John's amazing Jamaican Jammers!) to wash down the Jamaican ginger cake. A few rounds of cards and a couple of Red Stripes in the afternoon were rounded off by a dip in the sea (yes, we got in the bath in our bikini/shorts - btw it might seem like a good idea to put copious amounts of blue/green fancy bath oil in the bath to make it look blue but it's not so good the next morning when your bath's like an ice rink!)

The Jamiacan Jammer!

The Snack Shack

Jammer Time!
(I'm sorry, that was so bad)
I replaced the LED lit balloon 'sun' for an LED lit balloon 'moon' and we enjoyed a moonlit evening meal of Jamaican jerk chicken with mango salsa (which was amazing!) and Jamaican rice and beans before settling down (when we weren't getting up and dancing - this is what a day drinking rum leads to!) to watch the history of (inc. the concert) the Bob Marley One Love event dvd.
It was a fantastic day and actually felt afterwards like we'd been away on holiday - I'm thinking India or maybe Africa next (although I've definitely got enough pandas to give China a go!)...

Sunday, 23 March 2014

Ponder the Universe - Special Guest Appearance!

(Your first clue is in the first sentence...I didn't write this one! The much more knowledgeable (and amusing) Antony Robinson kindly agreed to help out with this one so sit back and enjoy a new perspective on Pondering the Universe!)

I first became interested in space when I was a boy. Like many boys in the late 70's I was bombarded with stuff like Star Wars, Star Trek and countless cartoon tv depictions of what being a space chap entailed, and usually it was right up our collective street. Cool outfits, cool spaceships, fit women in tight Lycra outfits and even the occasional sexy alien chic for Kirk to nail in Star Trek as I remember. Freaky aliens to shoot cool looking lasers at, strange unknown worlds to explore, warp drive to get you anywhere you wanted faster than any scruffy nerfherder ever completed the kessel run. What's not to like?

Well here we are approximately thirty five years later, I'm not an astronaut. Once I realised that you had to have the maths brain of ten Carol Vordermans, the hand eye coordination of six Bruce Lees and the physical attributes of a single Chuck Norris, I kind of lost interest.

Like 99.99999% (guesstimate) of people I won't be going into space anytime soon. We have all seen depictions of future technology, of house robots, flying cars, personal jet packs and moon bases, so far all we've got is the iphone, shitty electric cars for the yoghurt knitters, and wifi, which in fifty years time we will discover gives everybody piles, getting into space is extremely difficult, hugely expensive and very dangerous, and then when you get there the environment is trying to kill you.

The only way a member of the public could currently get into space is by paying for it. The space tourism industry is officially open for business, and tickets are going for a mere $20 million for a one-week stay in space. Despite reluctance from NASA, Russia made American businessman Dennis Tito the world's first space tourist. Tito flew into space aboard a Russian Soyuz rocket that arrived at the International Space Station on April 30, 2001. The second space tourist, South African businessman Mark Shuttleworth, took off aboard the Russian Soyuz on April 25, 2002, also bound for the ISS. Greg Olsen, an American businessman, became tourist number three to the ISS on October 1, 2005.

These trips are the beginning of what could be a lucrative 21st century industry. There are already several space tourism companies planning to build suborbital vehicles and orbital cities within the next two decades. Obviously as more people pay to go onto space, more vehicles will be built, more flights scheduled, and eventually the price will get to a level that means space flight is possible for everyone. Maybe one day the moon will be the new benidorm? Doubt it'll be in my lifetime though. Maybe my grandchildren might be space tourists. But for now its a reserve of the elite, the super wealthy oligarchs and Bill Gates/Richard Branson types that can either afford the ticket or as in Branson's case afford to pay people to make you an orbiter so you can go up yourself, then charge other people to go. At Virgin Galactic, all seats to fly to space are $250,000 and there are 600 people already in the line ahead of you. A lot of money, even in dollars.

Now Let's get some space stats out shall we?

Planet earth has a radius of 6371 kilometres, and our moon has a radius of 1,737.1 km, while puny red planet mars has a radius of 3390 kilometres, Jupiter however has a radius of 69,911 kilometres making it over ten times bigger than the earth! It's rocky core has the mass of fifteen earth sized planets on its own!

Then there's the sun, The solar radius is approximately 695,500 kilometres (432,450 miles) or about 110 times the radius of the earth. It is fucking HUGE!

Unless you compare it to something bigger like, oh I don't know, VY Canis Majoris?

This red hypergiant star is by far the largest known. It has an estimated radius between 1800 and 2100 times the radius of our Sun. With this size it would reach nearly to the orbit of Saturn if you plonked it in the centre of our solar system. This particular star is located roughly 4,900 light-years from Earth in the constellation Canis Majoris. Again, it's 2100 times the radius of our sun, which is 110 times the size of our planet. So fucking huge then!

4900 light years away? Let's try to get our heads round that distance.

Light year = the distance it takes light to travel in a year.
Light travels at a constant, finite speed of 186,000 miles/sec. A traveler, moving at the speed of light, would circum-navigate the equator approximately 7.5 times in one second. By comparison, a traveler in a jet aircraft, moving at a ground speed of 500 mph, would cross the continental U.S. once in 4 hours.
So 4900 light years is.....
  • 186,000(miles)x 60(seconds)= 11,160,000 miles per minute.
  • 11,160,000 (miles)x 60(minutes) = 669,600,000 miles per hour.
  • 669,600,000 (miles) x 24(hours) = 16,070,400,000 miles per day.
  • 16,070,400,000 (miles) x 365(days) = 5,865,696,000,000 miles per year.
  • 5,865,696,000,000 (miles) x 4900(years) = 2.87419104e+16 miles.
Now I stopped understanding these numbers at around the second sum, I don't even know what 2.87419104e+16 is. Start substituting numbers for letters and I'm out. Normal human brains aren't usually built to comprehend numbers this big, or distances that far. But for a real mind blower lets have a peek at the largest known structure in the Universe, the Huge-LQG (Large Quasar Group), a cluster of 73 quasars stretching over a distance of 4 billion light years.
That's right 4 billion x 5,865,696,000,000 years to cross it. Also, it WAS the largest known structure in the universe. Now astronomers say they've spotted something even bigger in data from gamma ray bursts, the final explosions of energy released by stars as they die and the universe's most energetic events. Astronomers have measured the distance to 283 of these bursts and mapped their position in the universe. This throws up a surprise. At a distance of ten billion light years, there are more gamma ray bursts than expected if they were evenly distributed throughout the universe. This implies the existence of a structure at this distance that is about ten billion light years across and so dwarfs the Huge-LQG. So once again, fucking huge!
With all that space and all the stars and planets knocking about surely we can't be the only life?
Mathematically speaking, numbers indicate that we are unlikely to be alone. For decades we have been looking for life or signs of life in the universe. NASA launched Voyager 2 on August 20, 1977, from Cape Canaveral, Florida aboard a Titan-Centaur rocket. On September 5, Voyager 1 launched, also from Cape Canaveral aboard a Titan-Centaur rocket. The Voyager spacecraft will be the third and fourth human spacecraft to fly beyond all the planets in our solar system. Pioneers 10 and 11 preceded Voyager in outstripping the gravitational attraction of the Sun but on February 17, 1998, Voyager 1 passed Pioneer 10 to become the most distant human-made object in space. In 2013 Voyager 1 may have passed into interstellar space, real unknown territory.
Both Voyager spacecrafts carry a greeting to any form of life, should that be encountered. The message is carried by a phonograph record - -a 12-inch gold-plated copper disk containing sounds and images selected to portray the diversity of life and culture on Earth. The contents of the record were selected for NASA by a committee chaired by Carl Sagan of Cornell University. Dr. Sagan and his associates assembled 115 images and a variety of natural sounds. To this they added musical selections from different cultures and eras, and spoken greetings from Earth-people in fifty-five languages. So we've given any aliens that don't know we exist an poke if you like.
The amount of radio and digital noise we as a planet transmit will make earth light up like a beacon, we would surely be visible to aliens passing by, I don't know, to go to the space co-op to buy some anti gravity fags and put the universe lotto on.
So why do we not even know if they exist?
A: because they don't. We as a planet are all freaks of nature. Formed out of total chance.
B: because they don't. God did it all. REPENT!!!!
C: they have been watching us for years, and to be honest they like the place, but the people are nobs. Unpredictable and prone to over reaction. Best left alone.
D: Aliens have struck deals with various countries to allow harvesting of humans and/or cows, and 'visit visas' in return for alien technology. Where do you think the iphone came from?
E: they're coming and they want our water.
I could go on. There are countless theories regarding beings from another world, it's a subject which has captured human imagination. Movies, tv and music all have been influenced by the thought of aliens coming to our world, but regardless of the type of media used, there seems to be an almost formulaic approach to how a meeting of aliens and humans might pan out.
Firstly they arrive, obviously causing a bit of a stir being all alien and that. Secondly there will be some confusion about their motives for coming all the way from wherever. Are they friendly? If they are, do they mean it? Thirdly comes the alien attack which, despite obvious hints comes as a big surprise to most of the population, who then die. And finally there comes a turning point where humans reclaim their planet and send the naughty aliens to alien heaven. If you look at it on a larger scale, the scenario is painfully similar to Europeans landing in America. We arrive, we use the natives to help get settled, then kill them while reproducing like rabbits and force the remaining locals out.
It's not good news for us.
However, some scientists have debated that an alien society capable of travelling to earth would be so advanced compared to humans that they have no need for war, that their vastly superior intelligence has concluded that war is a pointless exercise. I doubt it. And with constant internet rumours of disclosure maybe one day we will find out. Maybe we won't.
One thing is for sure, as a species we have gone from living in caves and eating what we can catch to living in centrally heated houses and eating chinese takeaway, from drawing pictures on walls to having complete libraries of books in our pocket, on a device which also holds the same amount of music as three big cardboard boxes 15 years ago, from looking up at the stars to living on a space station orbiting the earth. We've done pretty good so far, but the best is still to come, and I for one welcome our alien overlords.....

Monday, 17 March 2014

Attempt a World Record!

That's soooo last year haha!

Not only did I attempt one but I helped break one - I'm still working on which one to try next, suggestions are welcome...(within reason)...

Tuesday, 11 March 2014

Turn Some Heads and Get Out of Your Comfort Zone!

Turn Some Heads Day (Monday) - I turned mine all over the place so the doctor could have a good look at hard to reach places before diagnosing polyps and obstructive sleep apnoea!

I did turn some heads in a much nicer way on Friday though when we went out to celebrate Rachel's birthday and I wore a new top and necklace combo which resulted in comments from several people - it's always good to surpass the insincerity of "you look nice (I really take issue with that word!)" and I was particularly pleased with John's reaction :-)

Get out of your comfort zone (Thursday) - I went to the dentist! Whilst I wouldn't say I have a phobia, not even a mild one, it's always with some surprise that I find myself having to unclench the whitened fingers I've laced together and placed on my tummy in what always starts off as a relaxed pose but which, without my concious involvement, invariably ends up with me having to unfold myself from a rigor-mortis-like frozen position!  

I also got a little out of my comfort zone on Sunday when I made dinner for John, Bernie and John and decided to do my entire menu with things I've never done before!
The gammon in coke with honey and mustard glaze was to die for and the white wine and dijon new potatoes were also delicious - the chantenay carrots in creme fraiche and tarragon could have done with a lot less tarragon and the marinated courgettes did the opposite of growing on us the more we ate them but all in all it was a huge success - the chocolate cake dessert with a nice bottle of pinot noir helped :-)


Wednesday, 5 March 2014

February Mission - The Results!

Mission recap here


Not my finest moment I have to say, I was not the Loveminator, nor was a love ninja (in any sense of the word), I didn't spread any karma of any description and I doubt I even managed 1 nice thing for other people each day (although on some days I did 3 or 4 so at least that's something!)!

I didn't champion (or even listen to) any power ballads or rescue any cute animals - but I did look at plenty including this little chap...

This is Mercury and he's the most awesome kitten I've seen (and he's only got 2 legs!), you can read his story here and check out cute videos of his amazing click his amazing progress here!

Other than that my overall plan for world domination's going well - or at least as well as I'd anticipated (i.e. not at all!)!

Tuesday, 4 March 2014

March Mission

Now this one could be interesting (and perhaps more achievable!) :-)

Make adventure your middle name (no, the words 'deed' and 'poll' won't be involved - although I am seriously tempted)!

See every day...every hour...every minute as an opportunity to try things you've never tried before..

(like climbing Everest, or skydiving naked or doing a degree in robot science)
 MeDiUm ThInGs
(like getting a Mohawk or going to India or learning conversational Mongolian)
little things
(like walking a different way to work, or swimming in a lake or having the blow0your-head-off curry instead of the korma again)

Embrace the challenge of a mini-adventure EVERY SINGLE DAY...

Go forth and explore!

Monday, 3 March 2014

International Do Nothing Day?!


International Do Nothing Day was on Monday, I've never been any good at this one but after the 2 day party weekend for Ray I had every intention of doing bugger all this time. So how on earth did that translate into spending the entire day lifting, shifting and sorting things around in the spare room, filling 3 black bags of rubbish (and 2 of clothes to give away) and creating a desk area before deciding to then move on to emptying the storage cupboards in the main bedroom and re-oganising them...I have no idea!

It was worth it though and was my Day 3 entry on the #100happydays challenge I'm doing :-)

Thursday was Pay a Compliment to a Stranger Day - apart from the plumber (who I was too peed off with to compliment anyway) the only other person I laid eyes on all day was John and whilst he's often strange he's definitely not a stranger!