Thursday, August 20, 2009

20 August 2009: Traffic

So Aviva released a second version of the Argyle advert, as the Argyle official site mentioned back when the first one come out.

Most interesting thing though is the amount of traffic this whole affair has drawn to my humble blog. Why? Because of the entry titled Dietmar Van Nostrilboy. Seems that if you search on that name on, this blog came up for ages at number one, and it has now aligned with putting me in at number two.

And therefore the Feedjit experiment reveals the following typical statistics (click for closer view)...

Weird or what? Anyway, a continuing big hello to all Nostrilboy fans out there, and maybe Argyle should sign him after all. Couldn't do any worse than Rory Fallen so far this season.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

15 August 2009: Surprise

Switched on the TV this morning and almost splurted my fresh cup of PG all over the floor.

ESPN2 showing Premier League footy. Seriously. Chelsea v Hull, live on ESPN2, complete with poor-quality British commentators mixing metaphors in classic Motson style. Why was this?

First thing I thought of was the UK rights story, where Setanta went under and ESPN (despite not having a UK presence) bought Setanta's small slice of the Premier League pie and decided to make a minor commitment to the UK market. But that's the UK - as you may or may not know, Setanta is actually still going over here in the US and doing quite well (for instance, they offer Championship football on subscription-basis over the internet as well as on satellite/cable), and anyway Setanta US didn't have any EPL ('English Premier League': that's what it seems to be universally known as outside of the UK) rights here anyway.

But, unquestionably, ESPN2 were clearly showing the game live, even down to the highly-unlikely event of six minutes of injury time, during which Chelsea scored their oh-so-predictable winner. So what was going on?

Well, according to this news story (dateline yesterday), ESPN's US operation negotiated a deal with Fox Sports International (who actually hold the EPL rights here in the US) to show up to 48 live games this season, essentially including the early Saturday game (or a regular 3pm UK time game if there's no early game) and the 12 Monday Night games (Monday afternoon over here). No hint as to why they did this other than ESPN's self-proclaimed "continued efforts to serve soccer fans in the United States."

A few years ago I would have been cynical about that, but given the amount of coverage they give the Champions League, combined with World Cup qualifiers and the native MLS coverage, ESPN is now giving a genuinely half-decent service without the need to fork out additional premium subscriptions for the Fox Soccer Channel. Maybe, just maybe, the world's most popular sport is actually making some serious ground here in the US. The fact that no other major sports take place on Saturday mornings certainly helps with scheduling.

Of course, nobody showed the real important matches today, including Argyle's Chelsea-esque injury time goal to grab a point off a reportedly superior QPR side, or Saints getting walloped by Huddersfield.

Huddersfield? Sheesh.

Footnote: as a few of you may have noticed, I've been playing around with a 'Feedjit' widget thing that I saw on Doug's blog that tells you where (geographically) visitors to your blog come from. Interesting stuff, although I seem to come from any of kokomo, Carmel and Indianapolis - but it also shows how they reached the site. Fascinatingly, I learned that if you Google for 'Dietmar Van Nostrilboy', my relevant blog entry comes up top. So a big hello to all you Nostrilboy fans out there...

Monday, August 10, 2009

10 August 2009: Shoes

Following a quick look at a very interesting link on Doug's blog, I decided to try it for myself. The original link was to a video comparison of running styles of a not-trained-to-run-barefoot runner:

"It's got to be the shoes," says the narrator. Interesting stuff. But is it repeatable? Well, I've never run barefoot much, although we used to have to run in those plimsoll things at Cornwood School (I note these are now brightly coloured and sold at ridiculously inflated prices under the name 'Converse' shoes). So, given the proximity of our local gym (just the other side of the bathroom at home), it was time to set up the camera and see what the difference would be.

These are slowed to half-speed and you can slow it still further in YouTube if you like. The interesting thing to me was the difference in angle of landing foot: when shod, I land heavily ankle-first; without, I land on ball of foot. Further thing is that the centre of gravity shifts further forward - with no shoes, the foot isn't so much in front when it lands as below, thereby allowing me to use gravity rather than quad-muscles to propel forwards. Doug also pointed out that (especially towards the end of the video) there's a lot more backlift without shoes, perhaps three to four inches.

Why do I post this? Firstly to say that it seems - as I remember when Kevin and myself went to Pompey to buy running shoes - that there's no effort on the part of the shoe manufacturer to correct running style, ever. Instead they aim to compensate for your running style, adding more padding and taking you consistently further away from the natural technique of no-shoe running.

Secondly, however, to say that if you DO change running style and attempt to land ball-first, you will notice several things: your calf muscles will ache, your shins might get sore, your calf muscles will ache more and then your calf muscles will scream out in agony saying stop stop please stop please stop now.

And, if you run barefoot-style while continuing to wear heavily-padded running shoes, you'll get shin splints and generally struggle. Just socks lead to blisters; nothing at all on feet leads to blood and possible sectioning.

Instead experts such as Barefoot Ted (and Doug, come to that) recommend these Vibram Five Finger things:

Me, I'm just wondering where my old Plimsolls went.

Footnote: Some very bizarre synaptic event occurred in my brain five minutes ago, leading me to think "where was I ten years ago today?" And I found out - well, not so much today as tomorrow: 11 August 1999, it turns out, was the day there was a total eclipse of the sun over south-west England. Remember that? I was in London (no vacation time left from QAS), watching a 98.5% partial eclipse from the courtyard at old town, while my family were down in Devon, under heavy cloud.

Thursday, August 06, 2009

6 August 2009: Dietmar Van Nostrilboy

Well, that didn't take long.

Less than a week after the afore-mentioned Aviva advert came out, an Argyle fan has gone down to Home Park and bought a shirt with the name of Argyle's most-wanted signing on it - none other than Dietmar Van Nostrilboy.

Thing is, give it a year and he'll be struggling to explain to anyone why he has that name on his shirt.

Wednesday, August 05, 2009

5 August 2009: Samples

Having made more Lincolnshire sausages, it was time to try them out on the natives. Chilled, sadly, rather than piping hot as they should be served, but nevertheless in came the samples to work so I could see what reaction there would be to the two questions: (1) do you like it and (2) what does it compare with over here in the USA?

Answer to number (1) was generally 'yes' in a variety of tones ranging from bored to enthusiastic, although a few folks said they didn't like sausage generally and as such it wasn't forced on them.

Answer to number (2) varied enormously. Suggestions included:
  • "It's kind of like Italian sausage what with the seasonings."
  • "It's a little like Bratwurst. Nothing like Italian sausage."
  • "Ooh, I can taste the onions. It's like meat with onions."
  • "Hm, it tastes like venison sausage to me. You sure it's not deer meat?"
  • "It reminds me of meatloaf."
  • "Maybe it's a little like venison sausage."
  • "Beef and noodles, that's what it tastes like."
  • "Kind of like a Bratwurst and breakfast sausage mixed. Or maybe Italian sausage and breakfast sausage mixed."
In other words, there's nothing really like it over here. Next thing to do is to take it to the butcher shop who sold us the sausage skins and see if they like it. Who knows, maybe Andy was right and there's a cottage industry in this after all?

On the other hand, Doug sent me a link to his blog and it makes me feel quite ashamed that I'm having anything to do with sausages at all.

Tuesday, August 04, 2009

4 August 2009: Aviva

McDougal brings the following video to our attention:

Awright, bay? Best thing about it is that Paul Whitehouse has actually got the Janner accent down pretty well - most times non-locals will just do a random countryside accent for Plymuff, which often ends up sounding like Norfolk or at best Bristol. Some Argo fans are saying 'no, sounds more like Bristol/Gloucester to me', but Becky can be the judge of that. And the vernacular is correct too:

Green Army!

Anything wrong with it? Well, he's not droivin' a bleddy Nova, is 'ee now? Ow's ee spectin to get anywhere op the loine or even jus dowwn Asders to do ees lodderies if ee ain't godda Nova?

Update: Just found a little more info from the Herald about the advert. Seems Argyle's Mr Media Rick Cowdery had a lot to do with re-writing the initial script to ensure it was genuine Janner.

Further update: Blogger's spellchecker doesn't know how to spell vernacular. Thanks Becky. And no, I don't tweet. It reminds me too much of the episode of Scrubs where J.D. decides to take a dictaphone around with him to record his thoughts and the best he can come up with is 'I like toast'.

Talking of which, time to make some toast.

Saturday, August 01, 2009

1 August 2009: Streaming

For those who attended and those who didn't, there's an archive of the streamed video for Hope For The City which took place in Foster Park here in Kokomo yesterday. The archive appears to be based on the Pacific Time Zone and kicks off around 11.30am according to that page.

Thanks to Kling's Computers for use of their broadband and for those interested, it's being streamed through, a site I've only ever come across before in the context of occasional Plymouth Argyle matches.