Sunday, December 31, 2006

Comments

I have updated my settings to allow non-registered users to comment, so please do. Had no idea this was a problem - thanks to M for pointing it out.

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

The reason for the sudden spurt of posts...


...is that I found Guinness in a can with a widget. Hooray!

Look who's back...


...Back again, tell a friend.

I'm still here. Still having a good time. Still rock 'n' roll. Hair colour has returned to normal (still spelling colour with a 'u'!). Still very laid back. All evidenced in this pic (dibs to K for the camera work - X)

Skiving


So, I've been delinquent. I told you I would. Don't worry, I haven't wasted my time while skiving blog duty. Oh no. I went down the shooting range and 'popped a cap in the ass' of the poor fellow pictured above. Trust me, my accuracy on his buttocks was truly astounding, but as they are not in the frame you'll just have to marvel at the mess I've made of his head and torso, using various .40s and .45s.

Saturday, November 04, 2006

Hair today, blonde tomorrow


Various people have been wanting pictures of this. What colour is it? Answers on a postcard please....
It seems like the shade is changing on a daily basis as the dark hair regrows beneath. Not sure where I go from here. Someone at work was mentioning that Jello was good for colouring hair. What colour should I go for next? Answers on a postcard please....

Sunday, October 29, 2006

Celtic and Scots Festival


I went to a festival this weekend for all those Americans who love to revel in some distant ancestry. Above you'll see a woman about to stuff a ferret down the trousers of a guy in a funny hat. Other activities included traditional dancing and whisky drinking. Ah yes, I really must tell you about the Scotch tasting. It turned out that a close friend of the scotch tasting guy had recently passed away, so we began by passing a bowl of whisky around the group in his honour. During this time our host took the oppurtunity to rib whoever was sipping from the bowl at the time, and it soon became evident that the guy was completely hammered. According to his collegues he had already consumed three bottles of the finest Scotch - by noon. Oh, and did I mention he was swinging a massive axe around the whole time!
His attempt to explain the whisky making process were from then on completely hilarious. Not much serious Scotch tasting was undertaken, by I can honestly say we were all complete drunk on fear for our very lives by the end of the session. Good times.

See the album here

Monday, October 23, 2006

St Mary's Wilderness



This Saturday I went to visit a waterfall. Yes, I went in. Yes, it was cold. Yes, I was doing it to impress a girl. No, none of you are at all surprised, are you?! Out in the mountains there are areas designated as wilderness, where you can't build anything. So when the trails get washed away, you just have to scramble through creeks and undergrowth.

The leaves are changing - life is beautiful.

Sunday, October 15, 2006

The Best Day Ever

My life's been a bit fucked up recently, so it was nice to have a really awesome day today. Like most days, it started with a hangover, courtesy of Raz's birthday, which was a good time up until I flipped out and totally ran away. The first activity of the day (10am) was riding the trails at Poor Farm Park with Lori from work and her friend Crystal. After about 45mins I headed of on my own and tore up the gnarl, stopping for a short break by a brook. Having consumed all my bananas I went in search of BK (12pm) but realised I hadn't had enough riding yet. Also, I was really enjoying driving around. I very almost drove to the beach, but decided Petersburg National Battlefield Park was probably a better idea. Got down there (2pm) rode around and saw a bunch of cannons, took a nap under a memorial, then decided it was time to head out again (4pm). Got back to Richmond (5pm) but still wasn't ready to go home, so got a Subway and went in search of a tranquil spot to eat it. Went down to Pony Pasture on the James River. Waded out to a sunny rock, and chilled (6pm). Then finally went home, cleaned the bike, gashed my finger open on the big chainring, and wrote this blog entry.

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Lager and Curry

Is there anything more English than German lager and Indian curry? Ok, so everything over here has a twist of americana, but for all the world I could have been at home this evening. The lager was so crisp and refreshing, the Tikka Masala was so good it rivalled those Andy cooks up in racetrack campsites!

Soccer Update

The news from the soccer camp is not good I'm afraid. We lost something-nil at the weekend (I lost count!), and to add injury to insult our winger/co-captain got his leg broken :-(. I'll confess, I spent too much of the week in the pub or at home entertaining to put in 100% on the soccer field. Still, all a bit embarressing!

Monday, September 11, 2006

First League Game

Spoccer 1 - 3 Glanville Utd.
Gives us plenty of room to improve! We missed a penalty and scored an OG, so kinda lost the game for ourselves. New kits looked good though! Here's Piper, Tripp and Brian warming up.

Sunday, September 10, 2006

My Apartment

Moved in yesterday. Marked the occasion with burgers, beer and football, which made me feel right at home. All you really need to know is:

Here are the sofas

Here is the TV

I think it'll do nicely. Getting on well with Chris, my housemate. Email me for new address.

Friday, September 08, 2006

Hugh Hawthorne



Have spent several paragraphs deriding Americans in general, it is my pleasure to single one out for high praise. My visit to the house of Hugh Hawthorne many weeks ago has been waiting for a deserving post, so here it is.

Hugh is the current employer of my cousin Vinny, having him do manual labor to prepare a new building for all the amazing stuff collected over the years. Hugh constructed RIR (with his bare hands, as far as I can tell). Hugh is just a fabulous entrepreneur - a hard-working guy and perhaps the embodiment of America's good side (ie, the side it inherited from the Old World).

The highlight of the tour in the race cars, some belonging to Richard Petty, and a single-seater Model T! One room is full of Native American relics, including some cool rifles. He also has a wall of cowbow boots that he's worn through his life!

Click here for photo album

NASCAR!!!


Out of the blue my grandparents and I got free tickets to the Busch Series of NASCAR at Richmond International Raceway tonight. The track was built by Hugh Hawthorne, a family friend of whom I'll have to post one day.

The evening kicked off with qualifying for the Nextel Cup race, which is the main event and held tomorrow (Sat.). Cheers went up for local hero Denny Hamlin taking pole position. It struck me that this was what American motorsport is all about: believing that the success of a local driver somehow compensates for the huge display of laziness and gluttony put on by the spectators. This was backed up by the following pre-race events.

First came the parade lap, in which the drivers sit atop corvette convertables and wave to the crowd. I thought it was a nice touch, except that at the only time the drivers can actually see and hear the crowd's support, no-one shows any interest!

Next, a local baptist minister offered the 'invocation' -- a prayer for safety during the race, and victory for America's armed forces! I recall something along the lines of, 'thank you Lord for loving us so much and letting us shoot arabs'... A military band then played the National Anthem, concluding with a fly-past by two combat helicopters. Again, the impression I got was that as long as American Boys are doing the business with assault rifles somewhere in the world, then that excuses the American people of acting as deplorable, unattractive morons.

Of course, I exaggerate, generalise, and generally endulge in the kind of writing that's bound to get me in trouble. I guess my tolerance of the culture is beginning to to strained! After a while, though, the despair turns to acceptance. Let's be honest, if we could live like this, we would, wouldn't we? I think one of the reasons Brits are so offended by Americana is that it is a window into our own souls. But damn those Yanks for just throwing all that greed, hatred and ignorance into the open, then having the balls to stand there and act *proud* of it!

NASCAR ain't bad though. Ok, so the cars don't have the scream of an F1 engine, nor the raw, on edge crackle of a BTCC car, and of course they're nothing compared with the sound of a Ferrari or Aston Martin GT car. The track at Richmond is a short-track, at five-eigthths of a mile. It makes me laugh that the septics have built a kilometre long track, without even knowing what a km is! Whenever a car spins off they throw a caution for about five laps, so everyone dives in for a pit stop. So, yeah. Actually NASCAR is lame -- but you all knew that!

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Healthy American Eating



I don't care what I said before about not posting inconsequential events from daily life. Burger King for lunch and now I just did a whole pizza.
[scottish accent]"Get in ma belly!!"[/scottish accent].
There are some 'popems' calling to me from the kitchen too - little glazed balls of donut heaven!

Monday, September 04, 2006

Pre-season soccer

On Saturday the Spoccer league team played its last games before the start of the season next week. We played a round robin comp against a div5 team and a div2 team. Since we are aiming to lay in division 3, it's no surprise that we beat the first team and lost to the second. The most important thing is that the team is starting to gel. I'll try to remember to take some photos of the team in full kit next week.

First Ride


Took the bike out for a quick spin this morning along the James River North Bank trail, as featured in recent Xterra games. Was muddy, with some succulent red clay. Since I am a good boy and thoroughly cleaned and lubed the bike after, you get a pic of my shoes as evidence of how hard core I am (as if any was needed!).
The trail is purpose built into the side of the steep river bank, with lots of switch-backs to keep you going up and down. Some of the hills have got rocks strategically placed on them which offer grip, but make it semi-technical. There are lots of wooden bridges with no side rails accross little gullies, that all seem to come after a tight bend!
A mate from soccer is going to take me on some of the trails south of the river on thursday, is we have time, but the North Bank is going to be hard to beat!
Bike felt good. I'd made a hash of putting the chain together, so there was a stiff link that kept skipping on the jockey wheels. The forks need a while to get broken in, so I guess I'll just have to go riding a lot!

Saturday, September 02, 2006

Complete!


Final Specs:
Kona 'Hahanna' 18" 7005 Aluminium butted frame - red
Kona seatpost and QR clamp - black
2006 Manitou R7 100mm post mount - black
Hope headset - red
RaceFace Evolve XC Stem 100mm 8deg - black
RaceFace Evolve XC Riser 640mm 1" rise - black
Shimano Deore LX levels/shifters - silver
ODI Yeti Hardcore lock-on grips - red and black
Specialised Progel saddle - red and black
Avid Single Digit 7 V-brakes front and rear - nickel
Mavic X221 Shimano LX M570 Wheelset - silver, grey
Shimano LX 9sp M580 Cassette 11-34 - silver
Shimano Deore splined Cranks 170mm and Rings 22,32,44 - black
Shimano LX splined ES51 BB 68-118mm
Shimano LX M570 Rear-Mech long cage - silver, black
Shimano Hone M600 Front-Mech top-swing 31.8/34.9 - silver, black
Shimano HG 93 9sp chain
Shimano XT cables
DMR V12 mag pedals - battleship grey
Panaracer Trailblaster tyres - red!
Lizard Skins chainstay protector - red

CRC did well once again, but forgot to stick my CamelBak in. D'oh! Still, Tropical Storm Ernesto has just passed, leaving us cool and wet. Might go for an explore later today. It's a good excuse not to index the gears properly, as everything will be full of crap soon. Which reminds me, must buy some Muc-Off.

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

My new friends

After work on a tuesday we go to Capital Ale House for steal a glass - you buy the featured beer and get to keep the glass.

Tonight we went to Moe's for munchies.

Here is Chris, my future new house-mate, and Laura.

Clockwise from left: Raz, Jenna, Kristal, Chris, Laura (hiding), Raphael (works for Capital One).

new logo


Monday, August 28, 2006

Soccer News.

The Spoccer.com team played it's first friendly on Saturday. We lost 5-4, which wasn't bad considering the slightly low turn out and lack of keeper. I played goal for the first half, letting in only one (after a mistake by a defender), right on the mark of half-time. We came back strong - I played centre forward and linked up well with another John (our wonder kid - 18 years old). We both got on the score sheet. Then I was stranded on the right wing for much of the remainder, and my legs pretty much gave up after 5 games in 7 days.

A good performance, but with plenty of room for improvement. I'm sure once the proper jerseys arrive we'll play much better!

Bike build update

Or: why the UK still kicks arse.

To recap, CRC delivered a massive order in 5 days including a weekend, for free, transatlantic, during a terrorist scare. Nashbar.com took 8 days to get me a wheelset from Ohio, and charged me for the privilige. To save all this online malarkey, I went to Agee's who, it turns out have nothing good in stock and are overpriced. Today, a guy tried to sell me a blue-grey LX crankset for my Red and Black themed bike. Oh, and he didn't have the BB to match.

So, I'm back on CRC spending over £250 to take advantage of free postage. Which of course was no problem at all.

I expect delivery by the end of the week and will get building.

Thursday, August 24, 2006



This is the most important story ever.

Soccer


Here's a pic of my mate Tommy from Spoccer. It's not a very good picture because I'm bad with the camera, and he has poor ball control!
On Saturday 26-Aug-2006 we're playing our first friendly ('scrimmage', as they insist on calling it here). We'll be playing in our practice T-shirts (official jerseys on the way), so maybe I'll get some better shots for y'all (in the likely event I spend a lot of time on the bench).
Season starts 10-Aug-2006.

Monday, August 21, 2006

Pinball Highscores



You can't accuse me of working *too* hard!

Bike news

Turns out Nashbar Custserve are crap. I got a nice email from April who said that because the order had been processed, it couldn't be changed. No doubt the processing gets done automatically by their server, so one wonders what April's job is. I'd have thought it's to tappity-tap into her PC to keep the paper trail tidy, then phone Dave in the warehouse and tell him to change the order.

But apparently, computer says no...

My Job



I work for ppd who are a CRO. I spend most of my time in a lab conducting immunoassays.
Either you get it or you don't!

Sunday, August 20, 2006

Kona Build


Specs:
Kona 'Hahanna' 18" 7005 Aluminium butted frame - red
Kona seatpost and QR clamp - black
2006 Manitou R7 100mm post mount - black
Hope headset - red
RaceFace Evolve XC Stem 100mm 8deg - black
RaceFace Evolve XC Riser 640mm 1" rise - black
Shimano Deore LX levels/shifters - silver
ODI Yeti Hardcore lock-on grips - red and black
Specialised Progel saddle - red and black
Avid Single Digit 7 V-brakes front and rear - nickel

Wheels on order from nashbar.com. I ordered some Mavic/Shimano LX but then realised I could get XT for $20 more. Sent an email to their customer service, so we'll find out how good they are.

Starting

This is going to be for me to

  • keep a record of my progress in the USA

  • post photos

  • wax philosophical