Category Archives: BEDA

BEDA: 99 Lessons of 2010

Back in 2010 I made a list of 99 things I learnt that year. This is that list.

  1. Don’t climb out of a bike shed over the railings with your bike if the entrance is open
  2. Switzerland is an expensive country
  3. £1 strudel is amazing, get it before it goes up to £1.50
  4. Trying to cycle… without brakes… in the rain… at night… without bike lights… after you’ve been drinking… with Yasna Mostofi on the back… is not a good idea
  5. Uno never gets old, no matter how old you are
  6. Irish snap hurts
  7. Maths students don’t necessarily know how to count
  8. Sad music makes you sad, so listen to happy music
  9. Take a camera everywhere, you never know!
  10. You get what you pay for
  11. No matter how old you are, bouncy castles are fun
  12. Swimming after a long day at work is bliss
  13. Wagamama’s is an amazing place to eat
  14. If you’re going to be in the audience of a TV show, don’t let Criddle operate the sat-nav
  15. Suicide is a selfish act
  16. Great friends know when to listen
  17. Family gatherings are easier to manage with lots of alcohol
  18. White chocolate spread is God’s gift to this earth
  19. Drinking out of a goblet is cool
  20. Vodka jelly tastes better from a cleavage
  21. Cranium is a fantastic party game…
  22. …but not as good as twister
  23. Bringing a tent to a party and then pitching said tent in the centre of the party will get you noticed
  24. There are occasions when bringing carrots to a party is acceptable
  25. Gate-crashing is a great way to make new friends
  26. Using deodorant to light a fire is ineffective at best
  27. The new Southern Comfort bottles aren’t as cool as the old ones
  28. Moshing raises the risk of losing a phone to “very high”
  29. Getting so drunk you lose your house keys is not popular with your housemates
  30. Revising in the garden, while sounding like a good idea, is counter-productive
  31. Spying on your hot neighbours is frowned on by your female housemates
  32. Friends quotes always have to be said in an American accent
  33. You can go to the theatre too much
  34. Making a cake for a meeting will make you a very popular person
  35. Some people are just too good at quizzes
  36. Free curry is always a good thing
  37. Comedy is better in a space without a bar in it
  38. Reciting bad poetry at an open mic is not taken well by the crowd
  39. £60 steak is damn tasty
  40. The Italians do eat pizza a lot
  41. Cramming sessions are better with a whiteboard
  42. Very specific geeky jokes have a narrow appeal, but are very funny
  43. There is no fun in funeral
  44. Gliding is something everyone should do
  45. You can buy too much chocolate, according to Swiss Air hand baggage regulations
  46. Barbershop Quartets are remarkably popular
  47. Giraffe give out free miniature multi-coloured giraffes. You can and should abuse this.
  48. No matter how much you believe you don’t need a Smartphone, having one will change your life
  49. The whoopee cushion” is easily the funniest thing you can say
  50. Trying not to laugh as someone is hit in the face with an apple pie is as hard as it sounds
  51. The Media Engineering Degree at Surrey is a joke
  52. There are still some propeller planes in operation
  53. Snow and England don’t mix
  54. Everyone is really nice to you at weddings
  55. No matter how much you hate football, you can still appreciate watching an arsenal game from a corporate box
  56. Crying in a pub is sometimes unavoidable
  57. There is never a wrong moment for a Monty Python quote
  58. Large files from a Mac to a PC is still not easy
  59. Inhaling helium from balloons is funnier when drunk
  60. Doner meat and chips with mayonnaise is the perfect complement to a night out
  61. You can’t fall asleep in a nightclub without someone noticing
  62. If your friend has been missing for 24 hours after going on a date, give them another hour before contacting the police
  63. Strawberry cider is good
  64. Bar Med is now rubbish
  65. You should always take advantage of a free Chinese meal
  66. You can’t down drinks with ice in
  67. Rum and Sainsbury’s Blue Bolt don’t mix, at all
  68. Camping is better when pissed
  69. Ministry of Sound nightclub is shit, never go there
  70. Saving Private Ryan is a long film, and only the first bit is good
  71. Orange Wednesdays are busy, get there early
  72. Don’t miss any opportunities
  73. Dinner can just be a fish finger sandwich
  74. 11 shots of Goldschlager will make you forget things
  75. You can bullshit your way through Engineering Design & Professional Studies
  76. You can take too much food to a picnic
  77. If you are unsure of something, just do it… within reason
  78. News is only designed to get large audiences and make money, don’t believe most of what you read
  79. Weirs can look, to some, like water anuses
  80. Strawberries and melted chocolate is a killer combo
  81. Sand animals are considered cool in some circles
  82. BBQ’s are the best type of house party
  83. Go-Karting is more fun if you skid around every corner
  84. You can accidentally drive into Italy
  85. Going up a mountain when it has been snowing doesn’t give you great views
  86. Swimming against a horizontal tide is tiring
  87. Wooden rounder’s bats may break and fly into people
  88. Being told to follow a woman covered in blood, wielding a knife is still scary
  89. Owning a bike can become the bane of one’s mere existence
  90. Formative tests are a load of bollocks
  91. Maxwell’s equations are not anyone’s idea of fun
  92. An insertion sort is quicker than a selection sort
  93. Eyebrows, if used in the correct manner, can be cause of much amusement
  94. Kittens falling over is possibly the funniest thing you can see
  95. Inception is a bloody good film
  96. If a horse stands on your foot, you’re going to feel that pain for months
  97. Seeing someone hiding underneath the pile of crisps in Tesco makes you double-take
  98. If something in your room can be broken, Viv will find a way of breaking it
  99. 99p B&Q Ant Killer does exactly that

BEDA: Mumisms

mum·i·sm [muhm-iz-uhm]
Noun
A word or phase used by my mother that closely resembles an actual word or phase, typically technical in nature, but is in fact a humours reflection on modern life. I love my mother to bits, and these are too brilliant not to share.
“I went home at the weekend and heard this stonking mumism”

In·ter·webs [in-ter-webs]
Noun
More commonly known as the internet. While now adopted as a common mispronunciation, it was first used by my mother as early as 2003.
“I’ve just got my email on the interwebs”

My·face [mahy-feys]
Noun
Pertaining to social networks and social networking.
“now I’m on the interweb you can come on myface anytime” – My Mum, 2013 (when joining Facebook)

E·tube [ee-tyoob]
Noun
An on-line video portal where videos are shared amongst its users across the interwebs.
“what’s the best video on etube?”

The web·site [thuh web-sahyt]
Noun
A place where everything can be found.
“can you just check on the website?”, “I saw it on the website”

Lam·bor·ge·nie [lam-bawr-jee-nee]
Noun
A fast car.
“He’s so rich, he just bought a lamborgenie”

In·ter·face [in-ter-feys]
Noun
Referring to YouTube. I was confused as well.
“I saw it on the interface”

Two Cin·e·ma Seat [too sin-uh-muh seet]
Noun
A Northern Irish indie rock band more commonly known as Two Door Cinema Club.
“I love that album you got me for Christmas by two cinema seat”

De·face [dih-feys]
Verb
To remove, or “un-friend”, someone from Facebook.
“Once we’re friends can I deface them?”

 

I will be keeping the BEDA posts coming long into May. Maybe it should be called BAFT (Blog All the F-ing Time)… Until next time x

BEDA: Climbing

This is why I haven’t posted for a few days…

I went rock climbing in the Wye Valley, on the border between England and Wales, at the weekend. Here are a few pictures.

I’d love to tell you about the trip and how awesome it was, but if I’m honest I’m really tired and have lots planned for tomorrow.

BEDA has been a bit of a fail, but I’ve still blogged more this month than I have in any month, ever – so that’s got to be something. I am still committed to writing 30 blogs, one for every day in April. Besides, I still haven’t covered all the things I wanted to.

BEDA: Mean Girls and Wicked

It was brought to my attention that the comments system wasn’t working on the blog. And there I was thinking that I hadn’t had any comments because no-one was reading. Well you’ll all be glad to know it’s working now, so you can comment to your heart’s content!

Last night I went to see Wicked, the West End Musical at the Apollo Victoria Theatre. While it was the second time I have gone to see Wicked, last time was five years ago, so a much needed refresher was in order.

About a month ago I let slip that I’d never seen the film Mean Girls, and apparently that’s a big deal, because for the next few weeks I was pestered by almost everyone I met, guys and girls alike, to take the plunge and watch it. So I did. And it’s fetch.

Now while Wicked and Mean Girls may not seem immediately irrevocably linked, there are a lot of parallels you can draw between the two. They both portray a teenager, who is deemed an outcast by her peers, trying to fit in to a new university/college. Trying to be popular by being someone they are not, and ultimately realising they are happy with who they are. In my eyes, a very typical girly plot. But they both brilliantly capture the essence of the battles young people face with peer pressure and discovering themselves. A subject matter I, like most, played out in real time during my university years.

The reality is that “grown-ups” are just as much a child inside as teenagers. When you start in Year 7 at secondary school, those big kids in Sixth Form look like real impressive people. And when you get to university, you think those postgrads must know everything. But the reality is that once you’ve reached that age, you realise that they were just the same all along. Sure, they might have sat a lot more exams, or been to more parties, or travelled to more places, but they’re not these idols that we make them out to be.

I remember my dad giving a speech at his 50th birthday party saying “I’m still waiting for the day I feel like a grown up” and that’s it for me. That’s what this life is.

Like Elphaba in Wicked who finally gets to meet the wonderful wizard of Oz, only to find out that he’s spent his whole life just trying to be accepted, to be popular. At the expense of what she believed in. Elphaba looked up to the wizard for what he’d achieved, without thinking that he might not be “perfect”.

It’s like the whole story about exposing Boris Johnson, well just because he’s mayor doesn’t mean he has to live a “model life”. I’m sure he’s done some superbly stupid stuff in his time.

Just like Psy after Gangnam Style got a billion views, when he was asked about how much he enjoyed his success he said it was a burden. He never asked to be this role model. Now he has to be perceived as “perfect”, and PC, or his life will be ruined – sounds like a life already ruined.

I guess what I’m trying to say is that watching all these girly shows will make you crazy. No, not really. What I’m really trying to say is that it’s called a role model for a reason, because it’s a model. It’s not real. It’s another impossible ideal. Get drive from it, be inspired and motivated, but don’t idolise it. Don’t compare yourself to it negatively. Don’t change who you are to become it. As Oscar Wilde once said

“Be yourself; everyone else is already taken.”

until tomorrow x

 

BEDA: Sunny Day Albums

oh my blog!

Sun! Quick, put on your shorts and have a glass of Pimms, this might be the only day of summer we get! And while you’re sunbathing on your B&Q sun lounger, may I suggest the perfect soundtracks to get your muscles loose…

Home Again
Michael Kiwanuka – Home Again. If you’ve never heard of Michael, then you need to. Voted BBC Sound of 2012, his music is perfect funk/soul.
These Streets
Paolo Nutini – These Streets. Cool, acoustic, Scottish.
Love is a Four Letter Word
Jason Mraz – Love is a Four Letter Word. I think we already established my addiction to this album earlier on in BEDA, so no surprises here.
In Between Dreams
Jack Johnson – In Between Dreams. More acoustic goodness.
Continuum
John Mayer – Continuum. While he may be womaniser of the century, his music is perfect for lazing around in the garden.

 

And lastly, the song I was so hyped about a week ago has finally been released! Well… the radio version at least. After only 48 hours of sale, it managed to get to number three in the UK singles chart! I warn you that it’s catchy.

[youtube http://youtu.be/5NV6Rdv1a3I]

BEDA: Photography 101 Part Deux

Yesterday I explained the basics I learnt about how to use a camera on manual mode while talking to Xav over dinner in Paris. After dinner, we took our cameras and went down to the river Seine to see if I’d learnt anything. Here are the results…

Note: in each photo’s description I’ve written the camera settings I used, as well as an explanation as to why that makes the picture look how it does.

I hope you found that interesting and it inspires you to try manual mode next time you’re on holiday or just on a day out. Until tomorrow x

BEDA: Photography 101

Sun is shining in the sky, there ain’t a cloud in sight. It’s stopped raining, and I’m blogging every day, don’t you know?

Since I  got a shiny new Sony NEX-5 camera a couple of years ago I’ve started trying to take photos on manual mode a lot more. Taking control of your own focus and exposure settings is a great way to experiment with depth of field, that look you see in professional photos when the background is all blurry. For night-time cityscape shots too, where failing to hold the camera still will make for a very blurry photo, tuning the shutter speed, ISO and aperture settings yourself will help greatly. I don’t pretend to be an expert, but I have been investigating for a while, and I find it fascinating what a difference a couple of settings makes to the overall look and feel of a photo.

Step one is to understand the jargon and what all the different settings at your disposal do. I struggled with this for ages until Xav, one of my friends who runs his own photography business, used a water tap analogy to explain it all to me over dinner in Paris. And that’s how I’ve remembered it ever since.

Imagine all the water flowing through a tap is light coming into your camera. Now imagine the time the tap is open is the shutter speed, because the longer you have your tap open for, the more light your photo will have. Now think of the width of the pipe as your aperture or F-stop, A wider pipe will let more water in than a thinner pipe in the same amount of time. In other words, a wider aperture lets in more light to the camera than a small aperture given the same shutter speed.

Shutter speed is how long the sensor in your camera is exposed to light when you take a picture, so for dark shots you might want a slow shutter speed to give light longer to get into the camera. The interesting thing about shutter speed is how it blurs your image. Lots of sports modes on cameras set a very fast shutter speed because otherwise a fast-moving object will be blurred in the final photo due to it moving while the shutter is open. With a faster shutter speed, the subject won’t be blurred. And this goes for taking photos without a tripod or rest too. If you use a slow shutter speedi.e. the tap is open for a long time, then if you are shaking the whole frame will be moving. That’s where that blur comes from. So if you’re taking night-time shots without a tripod, try and keep your shutter speed down and opening your aperture instead to compensate, i.e. using a wider pipe instead of keeping the tap open for longer.

Aperture is the size of the gap at the front of the lens that the light can go through. So a higher aperture is a bigger gap. The thing to remember about F-stop is that it’s 1/aperture. In other words, an open/high aperture is represented with a low F-number. Confused, so was I. So here’s a diagram.

F-Stop vs. Aperture (from Wikipedia)

Aperture is also the key ingredient to getting a shallow depth of field, those photos with the sexy blurry backgrounds. An open aperture (think low F-number or a wide pipe) gives you a nice, sexy, shallow depth of field. As opposed to a closed aperture (thin pipe, high F-number) that gives a flatter look to pictures. Flat is very good for landscape shots, or when you want to give the illusion that the foreground and the background are very close to each other, called forced perspective. Here’s a great video about how they used forced perspective to portray Gandalf’s height in The Lord of the Rings.

There’s one more key piece to this puzzle and that’s something called ISO. ISO is the sensitivity of the sensor on your camera to light. So you can imagine that a high ISO means it’s very sensitive, and a low ISO means it’s not. In our tap analogy, ISO is like the water pressure in the pipe. A lot of pressure and no matter how wide the pipe, or how long the tap is open, you’re always going to get a lot of water. The caveat here is that high ISO‘s introduce a lot of noise into the photo because the camera is more sensitive to the inevitable inaccuracies in the sensor itself. When shooting, ideally you want to keep the ISO as low as possible to reduce the noise, but that’s not always possible.

This is why you always see so much light in photo shoots and film sets, because ultimately the more light you have to work with, the less you have to worry about ISO noise and shutter speed blur. The less you are restricted, the wider your creative window to play with depth of field, blur (if you want it or not) and other effects. This should also explain why a tripod is very valuable, because then shutter speed can be adjusted freely without having to worry about being able to hold your hand still to get that perfect shot.

In the next blog post I want to show you some examples I’ve found of when you can use shutter speed, aperture and ISO to great effect in different conditions from night time panoramas to fast action to sunsets.

Part two here.

until next time x

p.s. I am aware that I am a few days behind myself at the moment. I’ve realised I’d rather spend a bit longer writing a better post than trying to rush something out every day. I will still be trying to post every day, but if I manage to miss the odd one then I will still be posting 30 blogs, one for every day in April, they just might not all be written in April…