From June 2005

Graduation

Been a bit quiet on the posting front the last couple of days – this might have had something to do with dressing up in silly robes and being paraded about Durham Cathedral. Yesterday I finally graduated from Durham University so am officially no longer a student! The author Bill Bryson is the new Chancellor of the university so was in charge of the handshaking bit (poor guy!). He gave a pretty good speech which thankfully wasn’t to long. I’ve ended up with a BSc in Software Engineering which I’m pretty pleased with!

Graduation

Decorer

Fashions come and go in Japan as frequently as the weather changes in Britain. Supposedly Japanese women are the most fashion conscious in the world, setting the trend for others. I’m not one to follow fashion, in fact I despise it more often than not, as for the most part it seems as shallow as the water on the bottom of a dried up riverbed. That said I thought I just had to pass comment on a new sub-culture fashion style in Japan known as “Decorer” (a Japanglish word) as photographed by MasaManiA. Basically it’s got something to do with ‘one who decorates, or is decorated’. Yeah…

Decorer
Image Copyright (c) MasaManiA

Yes, it’s bright, lurid and bound to get you noticed. The funny thing about these sorts of fashions anywhere in the world is that for as many sub-cultures there are they all end up looking the same and thus negate their position as being anything more than teenager ‘rebellion’. Still, it is sort of cool, although I somehow doubt you’ll see anyone walking down the high-street in the UK looking like this!!

N.B. – Please remember this is not mainstream Japanese fashion I’m talking about, we don’t want to enforce any more stereotypes…!

Pollen Allergy

Lilly

Although I have never had hay-fever in the past my eyes have been itching and watering almost constantly the last few days. Apparently it’s something to do with the current high pollen levels for which I was prescribed sodium cromoglycate eye drops. Whilst this is all well and good £6.50 for a tiny 13.5ml bottle of something which is little more than water (2% active ingredient) is pushing it in my opinion. You can easily see that for people who have persistent medical problems the costs are soon going to add up. Luckily for for us in the UK we have the NHS (National Health Service) which will cover you if you can’t afford to pay so I guess it all evens out in the end but I’d still like to know where the almost 100% profit from my eye drops goes.

Rowing

We’ve been having a bit of a heat wave here recently and last Wednesday we went rowing on the river which was very pleasant. Today things took a turn for the worse but it’s still very hot and humid making it pretty uncomfortable around here. For better or for worse, the end of an era is coming – today I sold my academic gown and tonight is my last meal ever in college (although I can’t say I’ll be missing the food!). I graduate next Wednesday which should be interesting, if no a bit tedious probably! After that it’ll be time to finally say goodbye to Durham and move on to pastures new…

Model Behavior

On the wall

On the wall

Here’s a couple of photos I took yesterday which I though turned out pretty cool looking (especially the mad hair in the second shot)! They were taken with the camera facing directly in the direction of the sun but obscured by the subject, an effect I quite like a lot. I must stop taking silhouettes and do something a bit more interesting!

Z Machine

Z Machine
Credit: Sandia Labs

The picture above shows The Z Machine which is an accelerator used to simulate the awesome power of a nuclear explosion using ridiculous amounts of electricity:

“The Z uses a short burst of intense electricity – only a few 10 billionths of a second long – that forces an ionized gas to implode. The process is called a z-pinch because the pulse creates a magnetic field that squeezes particles in the vertical direction… At the center of the z-pinch, in the space of a small soup can, gas particles race at each other at a million miles an hour. The collisions result in X-rays and extremely high temperatures.”

Wow. This reminds me of the documentary film ‘Trinity and Beyond‘ which charts the disturbing development of nuclear weapons in all their devastating forms. At the time I saw it I was shocked to learn just how much these things have been tested for real in the past and their huge impact on the places they were used. Whilst the Z Machine is not used for military applications it’s certainly a lot better than blowing up and radiating huge chunks of the earth!

More detail here and here.

2:1

After a torturous journey up to Durham yesterday I received my exam results and was happy to achieve a 2:1 BSc degree in Software Engineering! No desmonds around here thank you! All I have left to now is to actually graduate on the 29th of this month then it’s all over. I’ll be sure to make good use of my student card in the next few weeks while it’s still valid (does this thing even have an expiry date…)! Now time to relax a bit for the next few months 🙂

Also… now avaliable in communist flavour!

Azumi 2: Death or Love

Azumi 2

The last time I mentioned anything connected with Aya Ueto the hits to the site rocketed and set off a chain reaction which completely knocked out the server the site was running on back then. You would have thought I’d learnt my lesson but in the interests of bringing you the latest up-to-date news here I am doing it again!

Azumi 2

Yes, almost exactly one year later, the pint-sized sword-wielding assassin is back in Azumi 2 which picks up shortly after the events of the first film. In true sequel tradition she is of course after closure to keep the nation from falling into civil war. She has one war lord left to kill but he is, of course, ridiculously guarded by all sorts of nasty characters.

Azumi 2

An interesting addition to the cast is Chiaki Kuriyama (pictured above, right) who was of course in Battle Royale and Kill Bill. Again she plays an innocent looking girl who gets a kick out of killing people and eventually meets a sticky end – will she every do anything else??! Aside from this notable addition and a bunch of anonymous ninjas, the rest of the cast is pretty minimal and no-one really stands out.

Azumi 2

Azumi 2 promises much and whilst it starts of quite well it falls long short of the original. Gone is the tension and the drama – you know she’s going to kill him no matter how many ridiculously dressed assailants get in her way. Gone also are the prolonged battle scenes which were great in the first film, all that is left are sporadic tussles which have no real feeling of danger to them. Added to this the question of how a character she killed in the last film is magically alive in this one is never really explained (perhaps I missed something here!). Unfortunately it’s a pretty weak sequel and probably not worth seeing unless your an Aya fan. As ever it’s a shame because it could have been so much better in different hands (6/10).

Super-sized

Airbus A380
The Airbus A380 super-jumbo at the Paris air show yesterday

It’s good to know that there are still some industries in which Europe is the leader in terms of innovation, a fine example being the new Airbus A380 which follows in the footsteps of aircraft like Concorde in being pioneers of new technology.

With a seating capacity of up to 840 and a wingspan of 80m the A380 is one enormous aircraft the likes of which have never been seen before. Whether of not it will be a high-flyer is still a matter of speculation however impressive it is.

Bahhhh…

Sheep!

Seal

Beach

Dunstanburgh Castle

This weekend my aunt & uncle from London came to visit. On Saturday we went up to the small fishing village of Craster which is on the coast north of Newcastle (a bit below Holy Island). The day started of damp but steadily improved until it was warm and sunny enough for us to eat our lunch on the beach! We had a good walk along the coast and on the way up to Dunstanburgh Castle we even spotted a lonely looking seal on the rocks (not something you see every day!).

Sometime will get round to uploading larger versions of some of the *better* photos I’ve taken recently – I’ve got the time now, it’s just a matter of finding the energy and determination to do it!

Sushi Surprise

Sushi

Last night we made sushi! Personally I had never even eaten sushi, let alone made it so it was a double first for me! Out able teacher/supervisor Kanako showed us how to do it. The actual preparation turned out to be more fiddly that the actual production of the sushi which in itself is quite simple. A blow-by-blow description here would be a bit pointless considering the number of sites on the net which do a much better job!

Sushi

As for the sushi itself – I found it pretty tasty. We used raw salmon for the fish element which I guess is fairly harmless and tame compared with the weird and exotic that you might expect. As with all things it comes in a wide range of varieties and even has its own vocabulary. We made sushi rolls known as Norimaki (correct me if I’ve got this wrong). If I can do it, anyone can so go try it now!