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tallpaul1983

tallpaul1983

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since 03/08/2003

31

General: Antigua & Barbuda 01/08/2009

Trouble In Paradise - Tourisms Hidden Impact

General: Antigua & Barbuda This is a bit of rant so apologies up front to those who may see this as a bit bleeding heart story. However this trip really opened my eyes to the impact of our holidays on others and encouraged me to change the way I choose where and how I travel. I'm not preaching here and ultimately if we all stopped going to Antigua the island would totally collapse anyway. Just in the spirit of Ciao thought some information would help! Antigua’s traditional external image is one of sun-kissed Caribbean perfection. One half of Antigua and Barbuda, this island of roughly 80,000 people has enjoyed, in recent years, the influx of tourists from all over the world and the foreign exchange that these visitors bring. On the back of the growth of its tourist receipts this small nation has built a strong economy and with it a decent standard of living for its inhabitants. The Human Development Reports rank them at 51st in the world. By way of an illustration Portugal are ranked at 22nd. These reports take into account demographic and economic trends like GDP per capita ($10,920) as well as social statistics like medical and educational services provided. Antigua has 105 physicians per 100,000 people as compared to 164 in the UK and 100% of births are attended by skilled personnel (whereas the UK reaches only 99%). In more modern indicators they hold up similarly well with around half the population subscribed to mobile phones. It has higher life expectancy, GDP per capita and lower infant ...

Arsenal 01/08/2009

THE THIRD COMING OF WENGER

Arsenal Just looking over some old reviews as I reacquiant myself with Ciao and found this. I love the fact that 4 years on not one of the mentioned players is even at the club anymore and we are still worrying about the same positions and transfer market practices! This is both a trip down memory lane for any Gooner and a reminder that we have been worried for years and have not been let down let so maybe it's too soon for the doom and gloom! Anyway read on at your leisure! START AT THE BEGINNING If you don't already know Arsenal are one of footballs biggest success stories in recent years. They have risen from mid-table mediocrity to a position of strength during a crucial period of football in this country. Football club fortunes have always varied over time but as the gap between the have and the have nots increasingly widened it was essential that Arsenal made the progress that they did at the time that they did. The cycle of financial reward now makes it very hard for any club to push on and compete with the dominance of the top clubs (unless you are very lucky like the Chelski Millionaires). Arsene Wengers ability to pick up top players on the cheap, from obscurity and craft them into the most attractive football playing team in British history has allowed us to become part of that elite group and hopefully ensure our future prosperity. THE FUTURE Arsenal find themselves at a crossroad. The second age of Wenger seems to be drawing to a close as the players ...

Apple iPod touch MA623ZO/A 8 GB 01/08/2009

I was blown away by the iPod Touch!

Apple iPod touch MA623ZO/A 8 GB This is a repost as I set up a new account only to be reconnected with my old username. Apologies if you have seen this before but the username this was originaly posted under has been deleted. Sorry! There have been very few points in my life when a piece of technology has left me gobsmacked. The first time I returned from lunch to find my ZX Spectrum had managed to load a game, my first mobile phone, Satnav (in a negative sense) and this iPod. I was given this iPod as a wedding gift so it would be impossible for me to talk about where this item was purchased and rude to discuss the price (although I'm sure the wonderful web has a million and one places to buy it at a variety of prices). Instead I will try and convey my utter delight at this products' range of uses. Think of it as a digital media Swiss Army Knife and you will not be far from the mark! Victorinox eat your heart out. KEY USES Music Well obviously I hear you say, but what this does better than any previous MP3 player I have owned is allow you to access you catalogue easily and intuitively. I personally always felt the wheel system on the older iPod was a touch difficult and not as slick as the adverts made out. The graphical and text based interface on this iPod is far better. The graphical view, which allows you to flick from album cover to album cover is very quick and visually interesting. Its great to hand this over to a friend and let them flick through your collection like vinyl covers. The sound ...

Wrigleys Extra Mints 02/03/2004

WRIGLEYS EXTRA MINTS

Wrigleys Extra Mints I chew a lot of chewing gum. Spending large portions of my day having to deal with people that i have to try and impress (or at least not disgust) has led to me being paranoid about having bad breath. I usually have gum as its tastier, it lasts longer than your average mint and I had believed that it was good to chew it. However apparently, and I’d not heard this, chewing gum a lot leads to over-production of stomach acid and thus ulcers! There a little bit of health scaremongering to start the review, can’t say fairer than that. I therefore decided to branch out into mint consumption to try and stop myself from digesting my insides. Being as I usually have Wrigleys Extra Gum I thought that these new mints would be the way forward being as I knew I liked the taste and the others available were either weak and pathetic (boo hiss Tic Tacs) or so strong they make you wince like a shot of cheap potato based vodka. The packaging is strong and coated in tamper proof plastic so they stay minty fresh. It uses the same design principles as the gum, lettering, colours the whole lot so its all fairly familiar stuff. Pricewise they are a touch steep compared to your polo’s, your trebors or your tic tacs (mine weighed in at 50p and that was allegedly a special offer) but I do think that they present decent value for money as you get enough in a box for any normal person to get through a day (lasts about an hour with me) and on that note a should warn you that as ...

Everything that starts with A ... 16/10/2003

IS ANY OF IT REALLY ART?!

Everything that starts with A ... Before I start this ‘op’ I should probably warn you that this may turn into a bit of rant later on but I will try and keep it vaguely coherent and constructive. I just wanted to put across to you all some of my feelings about art. Its one of those great double-edged sword uniter/divider sort of issues like football, politics and the opposite sex that cause an endless amount of ‘debate’ or free and frank exchanges of views up and down the country. Some friends of mine are studying fine art at the moment and let me tell you its caused some arguments. Let me explain. They all believe in art for arts sake and at the forefront of this pointless ideology is Modern Art. Now don’t get me wrong I don’t hate modern art I just think that most of it is complete rubbish. This starts a lot of rows between us all as I slate stuff they think is really clever and ‘cool’. Now here is the thing, no one else seems to agree with what my views on art are so I’m just going to run them out on a high flag pole here in all their glory and hope that they strike a chord with someone else out there in digital land. To me there are two kinds of art out there. The first is ‘coffee table’ art. This is all the clever cool image driven stuff that people pay hideous amounts of money for. Now don’t get me wrong it has its place (although a large portion of modern art falls into this area) I mean as a hobby photographer almost all of the pictures that I take fall into this area and are then used as ...

Finding Nemo (DVD) 15/10/2003

I'M FOND OF FINDING NEMO

Finding Nemo (DVD) The other day I saw this making of ‘mockumentary’ on CBBC or something about this film and I was so impressed that I went to it later that afternoon. I’m very happy to tell you that I was not in any way disappointed by the finished article! Finding Nemo is, as with all Pixar offerings, exceptionally well drawn, animated and directed so I will leave the ‘ooohs’ and ‘aaaahhs’ about all that stuff until later on (as they were worth commenting on!). Aside from that this was a classic film from the new wave of Disney films sweeping across the cinema landscape. The traditional basic moral of the story type thing is heavy-handedly hammered home to the audience but it manages to do this without losing any of the humour that made the film so appealing. The script writing and characters are superb. Andrew Stanton is to be congratulated for writing and excellent story and screenplay. Anyway before I lose myself in a big structureless rant about the good points of this film let me break it down for all concerned! THE PLOT I’m sure you’ve all seen the trailer but never mind. Marlin (the father fish who despite being a Clown fish isn’t very funny wait I digress) buys a house at the Drop Off (the edge of the reef they call home) for his wife and millions of eggs. Unfortunately disaster in form of a predator calls and despite his best effort only one damaged egg is left! The result is Nemo a small fish with an underdeveloped fin that Marlin over-protects as he is so cut up his loss ...

A-Z for Members Challenges 10/10/2003

HERES AN UNKNOWN CHALLENGE

A-Z for Members Challenges You know the tale i'm browsing my hard drive to clear it and i come across this challenge i did i while ago but i can't remember who set it! Oh well i'll put it on anyway and if whoever did it wants to own up i'll edit their name on pronto! Might even start of a new round on this one! Anyway here it is! 1. What age range are you? I’m in the 20 to 21 age range, currently in the lower end of that spectrum! Looking forward to turning 21 though and ending this limbo year. 20 is pants because you’re too young to be taken seriously but too old to get away with all the fun stuff I used to do as a first year uni student for example! 2. What is your most treasured wish that came true? I always wanted to see a whale and a dolphin jump in the wild when I was a kid and I went to the states and saw both on one trip. I don’t think I’ve ever been as awe inspired as that since I became a cynical teenager soon after and everything was just (shrug) “alright, I dunno”. I’ve got a few wishes now but they are all longer term you know. 3. Do you dream in colour? Definitely! I have very strange and vivid coloured dreams (see Strangest Dreams I’ve had op for more details). Dreams for me are a chance for my brain to let off some creative steam after being constrained by a boring day of work or lectures and as a result its all full global dreamicolour. 4. If you could have one wish, what would it be and why? I know I should say something good like world peace and love or something ...

General: Tunisia 10/10/2003

TALES FROM TUNISIA PART 2: THE SAFARI!

General: Tunisia TUNISIAN TRAVELS PART 2 For those of you who have read the first part of my tales about the recent holiday I had in North Africa welcome back! Newcomers should be able to read this as a stand alone op but its probably worth having a quick read of part 1 of the op (it was just to long to put in as one!) to get a rough idea of what I got up to for the rest of the time that I was there! This section of my mammoth op is about the ‘safari’ I took in the south of the country for a couple of days via an organised tour operator. It cost about £140 per person to go on it and that included entry to all the places we stopped at, food, transport of which you will see there were several modes and overnight accommodation at a very nice hotel out on the verge of the desert. It was excellent value and if you do ever go out to Tunisia (or I would imagine any North African country) its well worth a look especially if you are on a two-week holiday like I was. Anyway I’m sure you all want to know what actually happened! We started the trip at some ungodly hour of the morning and had eaten breakfast and boarded the coach (with which we would soon be very familiar) before the hotel had even begun to stir. The coach headed south on the first leg of what would be a 850 mile round trip tour of the highlights of the south of the country. I was particularly looking forward to this as the North seemed like any other Mediterranean country so this was a chance to see the ‘real deal’ of African ...

Tunisia - Holiday (Tunisia) 01/10/2003

NOTES FROM NORTH AFRICA: PART 1

Tunisia - Holiday (Tunisia) I’ve just returned after to Ciao after a couple of weeks away in North Africa and I feel that its been long enough to be a bit more objective about the whole thing and do an op on my time there. The tans now fading and the pictures have returned and its time to sum it all up! We flew in to Monastir airport in the morning of September 3rd after only a 2 ½ hour flight (which was nice) that even included a very nice breakfast on the plane (well done Mytravel for achieving that Holy Grail!). A quick transfer and we were in Port El Kantaoui in the North of Tunisia. Our hotel, the Golf Residence was clean and well kept and all the staff spoke good enough English that mixed with a bit of broken French that I spoke we were able to make ourselves understood, check in and then it was time to hit the pool to relax! The sun was scorching and the pool nice and cool, more than big enough for all the guests but then this was September. There was a nice program of activities by the pool each day with Aqua-aerobics, water polo, volleyball, darts table tennis etc. This was all a nice distraction but not too intrusive so you didn’t have to take part. The water polo was especially fun watching the older guys playing gradually forgetting themselves and getting more and more competitive until everyone was taking this pointless little game really seriously. Anyway I had a great time playing so no complaints. Tanning already and tired from the games we headed to the buffet style dinner as ...

O2 01/10/2003

I'M IN O2 MINDS...

O2 I’m not really sure if this review should go solely in this category as it is about O2 and Genie.co.uk in fairly equal measures but hey what can you do! I bought my first phone a couple of years ago now from the internet arm of BT Cellnet: Genie. The pay as you go tariff they offered me was fantastic incorporating unlimited free text and wap and decent calls as long as I agreed to top up by at least £10 per month. This was easy to justify due to the huge savings I stood to make on text bills which were rapidly becoming the way to communicate. Ordering it was easy and it arrived on time. Unfortunately so did another phone which I sent back. However it was a few months and many emails (“we don’t have a phone line” they repeatadly told me over the phone “so you’ll have to reply by email”) before the refund came. However the phone was great and in the South East my signal was perfect no problems at all. Off I went to Uni here in Bath with my amazingly cheap phone and all was well for a while. People were coming onto to Genie in droves and unfortunately abusing the free services. Genie was losing a lot of money and slowly but surely text messages and emails were sent to me to tell me that my service was getting cut back. First that I would lose the free text if I abused it then limits started to come in on the sly. Meanwhile Cellnet become O2 and Genie still losing pots of cash was absorbed into O2. Hopefully things would change I thought but still my service is ...

Phonebooth DVD 01/10/2003

IF ONLY THE GUY HAD PICKED ON SUPERMAN...

Phonebooth DVD Just got this out on DVD to rent and I may now have to add this to my own collection (now rapidly spiralling out of control). This is an original and well acted piece of cinema in my opinion but on the day proved divisive with about 50% of the people I saw it with liking it and the rest said it was pants. A Marmite film then in a way (you love it or you hate it!). The film, based on work by Larry Cohen,was filmed in just 10 days and used only 4 locations in its entirety. It was also filmed in continuity (in order) quite unlike almost any Hollywood film produced. Its worth seeing just to see how this experiment turned out! THE PLOT A simple one this. Fast talking PR guy, Stu (Farrell) answers a phone in a phone booth he uses. The caller (voiced and later played by Sutherland) has a rifle trained on him and at gunpoint tries to force him to admit to himself and the world the lies upon which his life is built. A bouncer from across the street comes to get rid of him as he’s using the phone the “exotic dancers” use and the caller shoots him down. The Police arrive and believe its him. Fortunately cameras are about so a stand-off not a shootout ensues. Police Captain Ramey (Whitaker) takes charge and tries to get to the bottom of what seems a very strange situation. It all builds to an explosive finish which I won’t give away but will not surprise many followers of Hollywood films. That is about it really. SPECIAL EFFECTS/ CINEMATOGRAPHY SFX do their job well but are ...

Popcorn - Ben Elton 28/09/2003

ORDINARY AMERICANS

Popcorn - Ben Elton Today as I was packing to go off on holiday to Tunisia I started digging through my book collection for some books to take away with me. In doing so I unearthed my most traveled book, Popcorn by Ben Elton. This book has been with me and also via loans to friends to both US coasts, Spain, France, Italy, Canada and Thailand and I’m thinking it might have to make the trip to Africa! This book is, in my opinion, Ben Elton’s finest hour and the most readable and yet insightful piece of modern fiction I have read. The messages that he tackles in his typical, fast-paced, tongue in cheek way are just as topical and important as when the book was published, perhaps more so. It is a measure of the intelligence of the book that this is the case. However this is by no means inaccessible to even the least world aware person. Without knowing or caring about diminishing personal responsibility, race issues or the media’s role in society it can still be an entertaining story and if by reading it some level of understanding on these issue can be imparted then all the better! THE PLOT IN SHORT The story is roughly about Bruce Delamitri, a director up for an Oscar for Best Director. The film he created, Ordinary Americans bears a passing resemblance to Natural Born Killers as a trailer trash white couple go on a killing spree across America. Sly little references to other films such as Pulp Fiction are also thrown in. The problem is that out in the real world a couple, Wayne and ...

Golden Wonder Wotsits Wafflers 24/09/2003

WHATEVER HAPPENED TO THE WOTSITS?

Golden Wonder Wotsits Wafflers Hello everyone I’m back on Ciao after my time in Tunisia (look out for an op on that little subject in the not too distant future!). On my return I went out to restock my food supplies before my return to university and was shocked to find that you can get a 6 pack of Wotsit crisps, a childhood favourite of mine for 39p! That’s less than a single bag of most crisps around where I live and is probably less than I paid for them way back in the early 90’s. Now that can’t be right I thought to myself could it be that the ‘Wot Sits On Ya?’ advertising campaign failed to appear cool or trendy to the kids it tried to win over? Are Wotsits just not the snack of choice for today’s yoof? Will I continue to use rhetorical questions pointlessly? WHATS TO BE DONE? Well it seems in order to try and win back some custom a new variety in a Waffle sort of shape has been spawned and I felt that it was my duty to give it a try! Wotsits if you don’t know are a baked corn (or maize) based snack not a fried potato crisp as in most cases. These corn puffs are much lighter and supposedly better for you than standard crisps. The nutritional figures for those that are interested (and if you eat a lot of crisps I suspect that you aren’t) depend on the flavour with the ‘Really Cheesy’ flavour tipping the scales at 160 calories and 10g of fat (so not the best then health wise!) They are produced by Walkers Snack Foods and as such you can expect that they will arrive to you relatively fresh and ...

Everything that starts with P ... 28/08/2003

I'VE P-PICKED UP THE PENGUINCHICKALATA CHALLENGE!

Everything that starts with P ... Here is my entry to the poetry challenge laid down earlier on by Penguinchikalata. Before I put it in I should explain it and the reasons behind it. I’ve put in the form of an ancient oriental form of poetry I’m sure most people studied at school (as it is quick and easy to experiment with): haiku. It really arose in the 9th Century as poets composed a short verse in the 5-7-5 syllable format(hokku) to which another poet would respond in a 7-7 syllable shorter section(haikai combined with hokku gives haiku). This became known as ‘tanka’. Over time though this got boring (though not as boring as this little history speech) and old and people looked to expand the format further. By the 14th Century people were continuing beyond the first to sections answering the 7-7 section with a further 5-7-5 and so on. This process of ‘renga’ led to poems of up to 10,000 sections allegedly. These were often memorised by poets who could wow onlookers with an ancient poetic version of the rap battles displayed so eloquently by Mr Shady and co. on ‘8 Mile’! Anyway here is my haiku: Genesis the start Energy flows through the world What does it create? From the Penguin to the berry Many varied things indeed! If anyone would like to continue this ‘tanka’ into a ‘renga’ please feel free although I realise I have no talent for verse. If adding a poetry challenge to a poetry challenge is a step to far ...

Mars Bar 28/08/2003

I DON'T LIKE TO CIAO WITH MY MOUTH FULL

Mars Bar Oh dear me its late and I’m snacking! Had a tough day though lots of hard graft involved and all that so its OK to have a Mars bar as all that working and playing wouldn’t have happened (I need no help with that all important resting part). Anyway as I’m at the keyboard with the wrapper of the ex-snack in question I felt I may as well do a quick review on it! PRICE Although as we all know there is categorically no evidence of price fixing or collusion between the main purveyors of chocolate based snack food a standard Mars bar is the same price as all comparable sized alternative. Shock horror! In other words it ranges from about 30p (in my Student Union Shop) to about £1 (anywhere where the spectre of tourism raises its head). The average is now about 35p I would say. Even I remember when they were like 20p! The price of a larger Mars if you really need to go that far averages at about 50-60p. There are a number of other sizes in decending order: snack-size, fun-size (as in make fun of size) mini mars and even those micro mars like in selection tubs. These only really come in larger packets and a variety of quantities so the prices of these I’ll leave you to find out at your own leisure. VALUE FOR MONEY I would have to say that the Mars bar standard offers excellent value for money provided that these conditions are true: You like chocolate, you are not stuffed already and most importantly you are not hot and thirsty! The final one ...
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