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Gym Loser

Its not exactly a surprise that I like to start blogs at the drop of a hat.

Kingdom of Appetency was started and is now kind of … defunct.

A Wiltshire Garden was started and is now kind of … defunct.

So I’d like to take this opportunity to introduce you to the newest blog from the Flibberatic stable …

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Gym Loser is here to detail my ups, downs, successes and failures as I try to turn my health around.

I bought oat milk and chia seeds today, for chrissakes!

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Loss: Part 2

I had a crappy day at work on Friday. Actually, I should clarify that a little. Thursday ended crappily and with me in a bad mood that only got worse as the evening wore on. Friday morning, purely due to work reasons, began crappily. Friday morning extended the crappiness for a time, but then it got better. A lot better. Mostly due to the people I work with. Then it got crappy again, but then it ended on a high note with the crappiness evaporating completely. Again due to the people I work with.

However, during the early morning crappiness a colleague asked me something – a very reasonable request that wasn’t in any way connected to the crappiness – and I gave somewhat of an incoherent and rambling response, for which I apologised for later on. The lady in question asked if I was okay, and I gave her a précis of the crappiness and then wondered why I was so crappy about it as I wasn’t a crappy kind of person – with which she agreed. But she said something to me … “At least you care enough to be bothered.”

Which is a good point.

And it reminded me of two things. Firstly, of a particular song (and the film its connected with) and, secondly, of the emotions associated with the song and the film – and a particular evening I spent dissolving myself from the inside out listening to the soundtrack.

Anyway, this is the song – More Than This by Shane Mack.

I played a fool, yeah I played a losing game
And let go of my innocence
And I don’t know, I’ll never be the same
Can I just be more than this, more than this?

If this is all, if this is all we ever were
At least I loved enough to hurt
Enough to hurt

And that’s the thing, isn’t it? The thing with loss. Why it hurts.

And why its necessary.

Here’s Part 1 … in case you missed it.

Katy Brand > The Ting Tings

I like music, me.

I am also not ashamed that my taste runs toward the electropop/disco/house/dance end of things – but stops far beyond the horror that is dubstep …

dubstep

 

Consequently one of the websites I peruse on a regular basis is Popjustice. Recently they showcased the “comeback” video for The Ting Tings, which I’ll pop right here …

“I’m in the wrong club listening to this shit”.

Indeed.

But apart from the clear inspiration from Daft Punk’s recent album, it reminded me of this absolute gem …

For anybody not in the know, Katy Brand is an English comedian who had her own comedy sketch show a few years back which included various musical lampoonings – and the track she’s parodying specifically here is The Ting Ting’s 2008 ‘hit’ “That’s Not My Name”.

 

Money, Cash, Moolah …

As I have now been gainfully employed once again for over a week, I thought that I’d amuse myself with a little list of Things To Buy once I have disposable income again (which, given the way the invoicing system works, won’t be until the end of August).

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I’m not listing stuff like “Pay off credit card” or “Pay larger loan instalments” because that’ll happen anyway (honest!).

No, this is the fun stuff. Or at least the nice to have stuff.

In no particular order …

  • Garden bench
  • Retrieve data from old external hard drive
  • New external hard drive
  • Wireless printer/scanner
  • Driving lessons (dare I even dream …?)
  • Trip to USA
  • Various family history certificates
  • STATIONERY (it deserves the capitalisation in my head)
  • New bed
  • Bedroom dresser type thing
  • Guest bedroom furniture
  • Replacement washing up bowl (the curse of not having a dishwasher)
  • Gym membership (*cough*)
  • Dinosaur books
  • House insurance (*sigh*)
  • Fine rasp (you know, for zesting and whatnot)

Reincarnation

No, this isn’t a revisit to the subject I wrote about in January of this year.

It is, instead, something very funny by one of England’s all-time funniest people – Victoria Wood.

 

#sorrynotsorry

It feels like I’ve dropped the ball with the blogging lately, what with holiday, post-holiday pre-work paperwork and then week one at work …

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But now I have some time to myself (i.e. le weekend), I shall be writing and queuing some posts to get me through to next weekend. Probably here and at AWG too.

Rugrats and Toadstools

Its Monday. According to my blogging schedule I should be artfully sculpting a writing-based post. But its also a national holiday so I’m going to make that as some kind of free pass.

Plus its my blog and not yours so I can do what the cripe I like.

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Possibly not that though.

In the late 90s a very funny British comedian called Victoria Wood wrote a very funny British sitcom called dinnerladies. I can’t go into details right now because otherwise I’ll never stop quoting bits and pieces and generally coming over all fanboy. Which I am, but there you go. Anyway, there was a scene where one of the characters is reading a magazine and another character is asking her what’s on TV that afternoon. She looks and says “Regrets.” Which cues a discussion about a TV movie called Regrets which is either about a woman who had a baby as a teenager, had it adopted and now regrets it, or about a woman who’s left it too long to have a family. (Possibly not as fun to watch as the film about this woman whose husband died and then a few years later found his sperm in the freezer hiding behind the arctic roll.)

It doesn’t matter either way as she’s not put her glasses on and its actually Rugrats.

Now, in my almost 34 years of life I’ve done a fair amount of things that other people have regretted. Such as kissing their boyfriends. Or kissing somebody who wasn’t my boyfriend. Or drinking too much (usually before the kissing). Or buying the wrong thing. Or saying the wrong thing. Or, upon occasion, simply being the wrong thing. But, at the risk of sounding like some kind of sociopath, or just an arrogant tosser, there’s nothing really that I regret.

I say “nothing really” because I could, if I had to, list a handful of things that, upon reflection, I probably shouldn’t have done, or maybe opportunities presented that I should’ve taken – but nothing on that list would really fill me up with despondency or make me want to live my life over. However …

There’s always a but …ProgPal_2014_600px

… This morning I was rumbling around my WordPress Reader under the “dinosaur” tag, getting very stressed out by the religious whack-jobs, when I found out about the Progressive Palaeontology Conference (via the very amusing The Dino Sirs). Turns out that Prog Pal is an annual get-together run by/with The Palaeontological Association for the benefit of early-career palaeontologists to enable them to network and show off their work and whatnot (grossly simplifying there). It also turns out that this year it was being held at the University of Southampton (i.e. not too crazy far from where I live).

[Incidentally, I also found Palaeocast – which, in its own words, is “an open broadcast of palaeontological information, a place where the beauty, diversity and complexity of the field can be conveyed and discussed in a digital format.” And is frigging excellent.]

And it got me to thinking and … yes … regretting. Not that I had a marvellous opportunity to become a palaeontologist and turned it down in order to become a cubicle farmer, but one of my dreams/goals I had as a teenage was to dig up dinosaurs, or at least in some way work in that field/quarry – arf arf. What happened to that dream? I’m not sure. Somewhere along the line I think it got shifted to “unachievable pipe-dream” rather than “acceptable life choice”.  I can’t give an answer that truly satisfies even me over what happened there. (Clearly, not going to university and then working for a large multi-national financial services company instead was a great and worthy undertaking.)

The purpose of sharing this is not to wallow in my own self-pity – quite frankly I find that sickening – or make anybody who reads this (is anybody there?) feel sorry for me and offer up pats on the head. Its just a story within my life. It is what it is. I’m now undertaking a university degree via correspondence course that has nothing to do with palaeontology. But …

… I can’t help but sometimes sit and think and feel slightly nauseous about that other life I might’ve lived.

When I was around 7 or 8 my parents decided that we’d move to the south of France (when I say “we” I mean my parents, one of my elder brothers and myself – my two eldest brothers would be staying in England). They found a house on the edge of a village called Capestang, sold their house in England and were all set to make the move. (Yes, I remember being dimly aware, in a far-off sense, that we’d have gone to school in France.) However, my father woke up on the morning of having to sign the last lot of paperwork and had a bit of a tit-fit and couldn’t go through with it.

But my other half and I have often talked about what my life would’ve been like had the move happened (and by “often” I mean once or twice). In a slightly sarcastic way I decided that I’d’ve gone to l’Université de la Méditerranée in either Marseille or Aix-en-Provence and become a slightly debauched writer-cum-journalist with a passion for vintage sports cars and young oceanography students, eventually careering my old roadster off the cliffs somewhere along the Côte d’Azur before my 30th birthday.

Grace Kelly & Cary Grant in "To Catch A Thief." Cast me as whichever one you like.

Grace Kelly & Cary Grant in “To Catch A Thief.” Cast me as whichever one you like.

Which, in a roundabout way, is kind of the point with regrets.

You can imagine your life all kinds of other ways, but you might’ve walked out of that meeting you missed, or away from that boy you never kissed, or out of that class you wanted to take and got hit by a bus. Or he might’ve turned into an abusive drunk. Or … or … or …

You  never know.

No matter how toadstools* you might feel your life has become, and no matter how many regrets might come wiggling out of their holes like lizards in a tropical evening, there are ways and means of making the change.

One day, perhaps, I’ll get my dream of digging up dinosaurs. Its important to not give up altogether.

Right?

 

*Another dinnerladies reference, I’m afraid … Victoria Wood’s character is searching for a word and says “… what is it? Not toadstools … Disenchanted…” It has now entered the personal lexicon of mine and a few friends.

Getting Back On Track

Currently my blogging schedule is somewhere between …

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… and …

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… so all I’m saying is that I’ll be back on track.

Soon.

The Time Is Now: Finally Deinocheirus!

Luis Rey is one of my favourite paleoartists, and I love his take on Deinocheirus ….

Luis V. Rey Updates Blog


deinocheirus_claws_webRemember this? Halszka Osmólska, the discoverer of Deinocheirus (the Terrible Claw) in awe of her own discovery…How many times have we stood and stared in awe of this fossil, imagining what the rest of the animal would look? Comparative anatomy deductions  and guesswork are all too good but can never compare to the real thing… as the events in the last weeks news have demonstrated.

Five decades after casts of  those enigmatic gigantic arms started making their way to museums all over the world, the rest of the body is being finally released…  even if it is so in (bureaucratic) stages. It is not until recently that the skull has been re-integrated to the rest of the body (that itself was a stellar presentation at SVP last year)! The full story promises to be yet another paleontological odyssey .
We all saw it in the internet: the fossils are finally being rightfully returned  to Mongolia

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Dumb It Down & Sex It Up

I haven’t written about dinosaurs here for a long, long time – and I’m reintroducing this topic whilst combining it with one of my favourite things: a rant. Fair warning.

Recently there have been a couple of palaeontological stories hitting the headlines and the way that they were reported has … well, really got my goat. The subject of the rant isn’t contained to science stories – it seems that any topic in the media needs to be either dumbed down or sexed up. If it can be both then even better, especially if there can either be a portmanteau created or a snazzy nickname.

I will freely admit – right up front – that palaeontology isn’t everyone’s cup of tea and not everyone understands the implications of finds or the context in which they were found or even how to pronounce some of the names. For example, Qianzhousaurus sinensis doesn’t exactly trip of the tongue, even if Anzu wyliei is less of a tongue twister.

Qianzhousaurus on the right. Picture from National Geographic, image by Chuang Zhao.

Qianzhousaurus on the right. Picture from National Geographic, image by Chuang Zhao.

Qianzhousaurus is in the news at the moment and is a long-snouted tyrannosaur (phylogenetic analysis is still out on if its located in the Tyrannosaurinae or Albertosaurinae subfamily- and yes that matters) that lived at the same time and the same place as other, larger, tyrannosaurs (such as Tarbosaurus bataar and Zuchengtyrannus magnus). That is, in what is now Asia.

Apparently, due to the fact that it has a long, thin snout (longer and thinner than other members of the tyrannosaur family, at least) and because it is vaguely related to everybody’s favourite sexy killing machine, Tyrannosaurus rex (which lived in what is now North America), what does it get dubbed?

Pinocchio rex. (Well, if you’re lucky – it also appears as Pinocchio Rex and that capital R also makes my blood boil.)

Because its … with the nose … and the … tyrannosaur … do you see … snout … uh-huh.

Anzu wyliei. Picture from National Geographic. Image by Emily M Eng

Anzu wyliei. Picture from National Geographic. Image by Emily M Eng

Travelling a few months back in time to March of this year, we find the glorious oviraptorosaur Anzu wyliei, as unearthed from the Hell Creek formation in the Dakotas. Anzu is currently the largest and most complete of its kind known from North America (Gigantoraptor from Mongolia was far larger).

As a feathered theropod, its already a bit sexy. Oviraptorosaurs have very birdlike skeletons. Some researchers (such as Gregory S. Paul, Michael Benton and Teresa Maryańska) think that they lie within the class Aves (i.e. are flightless birds). Others (such as Alan H. Turner, Julia A. Clarke and Mark Norell) disagree, saying they are non-avialan maniraptorans. Basically, the line between what makes a bird a bird and not a dinosaur is one that isn’t so much blurred as possibly non-existent. 

But I digress.

Due to the location and the fact that this fellow had a cracking great crest, a beak and some formidable claws, it has been dubbed “the chicken from hell”. Sadly, this was not a nickname thrown up by the press themselves but had been included in the official press release that was associated with the discovery. It turns out that the research team , whilst working on the find, began to refer to it this way. The description then was off and whizzed around the internet. Who could resist such an utterly bedazzling phrase?

National Geographic described it as “a devilish version of the modern cassowary”. The Washington Post called it “a freakish bird-like type of dinosaur”. Smithsonian Science said “one scary chicken … no BBQ is large enough for this discovery”. The Guardian went for “[it] resembled a beefed-up emu”. The Boston Globe offered a rather less sensationalist article – although loses marks for comparing the bony crest with “a rooster’s comb” – decidedly not bony.

As previously mentioned, this is a symptom of the way in which media proffer up stories. You might say that these are ‘niche’ stories – only of interest to a specific few. If that is the case then we don’t need anything sexing up to digest it. You might say that it encourages people who might not otherwise be interested in a subject to investigate something new. Granted – but how far in to the article do they read before they think “This isn’t about sexy chickens at all!” and click away to whatever does float their boat?

Can we not, please, have a bit of intelligence in science reporting?

I leave you with this piece of utter journalistic trash from The Washington Post (which, admittedly, up until this point had produced a well-written article):

Did it . . . cluck?

“We have no evidence that it clucked or crowed,” Lamanna said.

What would it have tasted like?

“I can’t answer that question with any degree of certainty,” he said, but he suggested that it might have tasted a bit like alligator or ostrich.

Alligator famously tastes a little bit like chicken. But ostrich — an animal that is scientifically a dinosaur and is our closest analogue to the Chicken From Hell — tastes like beef.

Genius.