Vegruary 2018

Last year I basically realised being vegan wasn’t for me. It’s difficult and inconvenient and my brain isn’t wired in such a way where I can enough moral satisfaction for it to be worth it. But I do still know it’s a good thing to do and I am still interested in seeing it rise in popularity. Every now and then I’ll see a Facebook post advertising a new brand of vegan somethings. They’re usually only in Finland but still. I thought I’d give it another go and see what’s different (also I’m a sucker for annual traditions {hence all the 5 and 10K charity runs}).

The main thing that’s changed this year is I spend a lot more time in the theatre with the Stage Technicians’ Association. A lot more time as in last February it was 0 time and this February it’s literally nearly every evening. I only think this is relevant because sometimes I resort to meal deals or ready meals if I don’t find time to bring my amazing collapsible lunch box, pictured a lot in this.

Is veganism viable for a busy student who stupidly crewed himself on two consecutive two-week shows?

Thursday, 01/02/2018

Cereal with oat milk is better than I remember. The same can be said for pomegranate and nuts. Already more expensive (but healthier) than my usual life as a hungry vegetarian.

Oat milk is immiscible in tea. I literally didn’t drink it. Since I do my work in the living room this year rather than my bedroom, I drink a lot more tea. This might be a disaster.

My bread was stale but otherwise falafel and red pepper humous are great. I didn’t eat it all because I was playing games with friends but I micromaved it later and it was better because it was soft and I like soft food.

I forgot how to vegan and bought egg noodles so I made my stir fry with spaghetti. It was bad. I didn’t finish it.

STA member had cake for their birthday. I didn’t eat it.

Friday, 02/02/2018

I figured out tea – Rice Milk. All is saved. I can finally eat my Rich Teas.

I’m no stranger to falafel and sweet chilli sauce wraps but this time I had to replace the cheese with sweetcorn. Yes, it is because they’re both yellow.

I froze the rest of my spaghetti stir fry and made another with rice because apparently that’s a thing you can do. It was basically rissoto but it was pretty good.

It wasn’t as filling as I was hoping. I ate a sachet of sugar I found on the floor of the theatre. Is this what it’s like to have diabetes? My co-sound brought popcorn and let me have some. His name is Gruff and I love him. Then he ate it all. He’s a hungry boy. Later, he’ll offer me a chocolate digestive, and I’ll smile but decline.

*Whistfully stares at vending machine that accepts contactless card payment*

How are they allowed to sell you things without letting you read the packet? How am I meant to know if these crisps are vegan? I took a photo of it to ask my vegan girlfriend but I’ll show it to you so you can see what I saw.

I went with the Doritos but I’ve never been a huge fan. When I got home late at night I made some tea and toast. Making my toast vegan has never been a problem, in fact I’ve been doing it for years. There are three criteria for vegan alternatives to fill before I routinely use them. They must taste good, they must be readily available, and they must be affordable.

This free-from spread tastes the same as butter and they sell it at my local Sainsbury’s where I do my other shopping. It’s more expensive than other brands but I buy it so infrequently that I don’t mind.

Saturday, 03/02/2018

Wraps are hard to take pictures of. Also don’t worry, I’m not going to keep including pictures if it’s the same.

I knew with a matinée and an evening show I’d have to be at the theatre all day so I brought snacks and tea this time. Veganism isn’t all bad.

I also took full advantage of the 12:30 call time to make dinner to take with me. Linda McSosij are definitely not as good as Cauldron. I wish Cauldron’s sausages didn’t contain egg. I’ve included pictures from before and after I carried it in my bag for half the day, just because I had them both handy.

Another STA birthday, another cake I didn’t eat. Starting to think I chose the wrong month. At least I had my rich teas.

Sunday, 04/02/2018

There was optional pre-get-out breakfast in the Student’s Union bar but due to not knowing if the sausages are vegan (AKA playing Settlers of Catan until 05:30) I missed it. Sainsbury’s doesn’t open until midday on Sunday for some reason so I had to buy lunch in the SU. After the person checked with her colleague, then the nutritional information book, then the chef, she finally confirmed that the falafel burger is vegan.

It’s actually a really good bar, except there’s never any ketchup left. The show get-out flowed into meetings and before I knew it people were talking about dinner. A few people were going to Mission Burrito so I went with them as I had 9/10 of the stamps to get a free burrito. My friend used it first and then when I had 10 stamps i got mine free so it tasted even better. As you know, photos of wraps are boringo I bit it for you this time you’re welcome.

Monday, 05/02/2018

I don’t usually worry about nutrition. I’m not trying to lose weight and I’m not dangerously ill so it only really comes up in the context of my iron being too low for blood donations. Veganism brings out the nutritionist in me though, as it does in most people, so I thought I’d try to approach my five-a-day for once.

I was also worried about protein an none of the vegetarian alternatives I had in my freezer are vegan. I bought almonds instead. Why are nuts so gosh darn expensive?? They literally grow on trees.

Tuesday 06/02/2018

Stuffed peppers feel classy but I really don’t enjoy them that much. This one had rice, some red lentils, and tinned ratatouille. I can also never seem to correctly judge how much would fill the pepper so I ate the excess straight from the saucepan.

I also had two black teas today, from a vending machine while my gel electrophoresis ran in a lab and a free one before a Biomedical Science movie night. I’m not sure how milk makes so much difference but it really does.

Wednesday, 07/02/2018

Busy day today viewing a lot of flats so naturally I got a Capri-Sun and some co-op jam doughnuts. At the last second I remembered to turn down my flatmate’s offer of the honey roasted peanuts she prepared. I watched a video once called “Don’t Say Honey Isn’t Vegan”. I was hoping for a well-made argument about how bees don’t need the honey or they don’t suffer or something like that but the video basically consisted of “people like honey so if you bring it up they’re less likely to turn vegan”.

I’m big on soup since I’ve come to uni. It’s a cheap way to have hot food at lunch time and the 50p Sainsbury’s cream of tomato is great. But it contains milk. Heinz lentil was on special offer but it was still more. This is what people mean when they say being vegan in expensive. Please stop comparing the price of a tin of chickpeas with a sirloin steak (here’s looking at you Hannah).

Thursday, 09/02/2018

Sorry about the bad picture again. It’s fajitas I promise. It’s just lots of peppers and onion because none of the vegetarian meat alternatives I usually get are vegan. I got wholemeal wraps though as they contain slightly more protein.

Friday, 09/02/2018

This Indian snack selection from Sainsbury’s is basically the best thing ever. With mango chutney, I didn’t even mind that my roll was stale.

Pasta. #basic

I could never be bothered to dirty a cheese grater anyway so this meal is no different.

Saturday, 10/02/2018

Linda McPie remains amazing. As does peeling potatoes but then just cooking the skins right alongside the potatoes themselves.

I went to the cinema with Hannah to see Coco and we got popcorn from Tesco. I’m immensely glad popcorn is vegan.

More Heinz soup, Vegetable this time. This used to be the only soup I’d eat, but there was a time when I would try to eat around the vegetables and just leave them in a gross pile by the end.

Also had crumble made with Sainsbury’s crumble mix which is the greatest thing to have ever been made it’s performin

Sunday, 11/02/2018

It was the tech rehearsal for Rent today. I’m co-DSMing which meant I got to sit at the big desk instead of hidden in the sound tower. This means I got to stare at all the Crew Motivation (snacks) that I wasn’t able to eat. Got fancy soup though

And a meal deal for tea. Not my best performance.

Monday, 12/02/2018

I actually cooked again, even if it was just chickpeas and rice with half a jar of sweet and sour sauce. Yes I suck at portions but to be fair rice gets bigger when you cook it so.

Tuesday, 13/02/2018

I had a busy day again filled with house viewings. One was near the big Sainsbury’s which has a glorious vegetarian range. I got some Linda McDuck and couldn’t wait to incorporate it in a proper meal so I just bunged it in a wrap.

Wednesday, 14/02/2018

In the theatre again. Forget I had no ketchup and by the time I got there it was too late for crazy so. One of the advantages Cauldron sausages have over Linda McSosij is that they aren’t ridiculously dry.

Also I’m bad at pancakes and making them vegan can’t help.

Thursday, 15/02/2018

Nothing screams vegan like a beef and tomato pot noodle

Friday, 16/02/2018

Saturday, 17/02/2018

Two shows today means two meals out of Flat 1. Classic balloon bar falafel burger.

Olly got a pizza cooked while he waited at the big Sainsbury’s when we looked at the house the other day and he was sharing it but it wasn’t vegan so I got a vegan pizza today from White Rabbit.

Sunday, 18/02/2018

Poor Ingredient Measuring 2: The Return of the Sweet and Sour Sauce.

Monday, 19/02/2018

I stir fried the Linda McDuck and it was great.

Tuesday, 20/02/2018

Keep forgetting to buy ketchup but got gravy this time.

Wednesday, 21/02/2018

I actually had something other than that sweet chilli and falafel wrap so here’s my beans.

After looking at our future flat again, we went to Boston Tea Party where I got tea with soy milk. They give you a little jug with the milk in and at first the woman put dairy milk in, then was like “oh, soy milk”, got rid of it and got a new one and filled it with soy milk. This was fine, but she then said to me “you don’t want any of that gross baby cow milk”. I was a little taken aback as I felt from her tone that she was making fun of vegans rather than showing solidarity. I did ask if they did “vegan milks” but for all she knew I could have just been extremely lactose intolerant or something. I was lowkey mad.

Pasta for dinner.

Thursday, 22/02/2018

I thought a bowl would be easier to dip lightly toasted toast in but I didn’t realise how much soup the pot contained. It was pretty good though.

Later on, more duck stir fry. I was worried about using hoisin duck in sweet chilli sauce but it was fine.

Friday, 23/02/2018

I went to judo for the first time this academic year today so I was pretty tired and hungry by the end. I also found half a sachet of dried soya mince in my cupboard so I could actually make bolognaise. I did think about freezing half but by the time I’d served what I wanted there was less than 1/3 left in the pan so I just put it all on.

Saturday, 24/02/2018

I’d eaten a lot of biscuits today (did you know one packet of Nice is 32 servings? Crazy, right?) so I had a salad. I had to get new dressing because the one I usually have isn’t vegan. It wasn’t as good.

Sunday, 25/02/2018

The Linda McChoritzoSosijs are weird but they’re growing on me. Cauldron still do the best vegetarian sausages for sure.

Monday, 26/02/2018

If you read this last year you may remember a bit were I went to see my nana for a few days for her birthday and decided not to be vegn during that time to make it easier, as she struggles enough preparing vegetarian food. This year’s excuse isn’t as good but my course had a Pizza Party and I was going straight from there to another thing and I wouldn’t have had any dinner and it wouldn’t’ve been much fun to not eat so why would I turn down all the free Domino’s. In the allergen form I had requested vegan pizza but Domino’s don’t do that so.

Note the plate was refilled plenty.

Tuesday, 27/02/2018

Wednesday, 28/02/2018

Chickpea curry. It looks like a lot of chickpeas but it’s only half a tin a promise.

Conclusion

Veganism isn’t as difficult as everybody thinks. Artificial substitutes can be expensive but wholefoods rarely are. Most of my struggles came from food out and about rather than what I made myself at home, so much so that I broke it for a meal to join in with a pizza party. I’ll use up the rice milk I have, then switch back to dairy to share with my flatmate purely because of the price. I still can’t seem becoming vegan anytime soon, though I’m somewhat looking forward to the challenge next year where my new nearest Sainsbury’s stocks a lot more Linda McCartney products. If I even were to become vegan, currently I would say it would almost definitely have to be the flexible vegan (or “flegan”) diet adopted by the likes of Pete Holmes and Weird Al Yankovic. This is what I was like this month, my partaking of the pizza party similar to Weird Al eating a slice of margherita on his tour bus.

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Vegruary 2018

Fungal Infections

Superficial (infection of surface of skin):

  • Obligate pathogens (have to live on animal body) – Dermatophytes
  • Normal commensal – Candidosis (vaginal/oral/skin infection)

Subcutaneous (under skin -> Splinter/thorn inoculation): Following traumatic implantation

Systematic (deep): Predominantly opportunistic:

  • Candida – breach of body surface
  • Aspergillusi – inhalation of spores

Dermatophyte Infections

  • Obligate pathogens
  • Dermatophytes: keratinophylic organisms that are derived from free-living organisms in the soil.
  • Keratin in skin/hair/nails
  • Live on shed keratin in soil
  • Geophilic (live in soil)

Tinea pedis (athlete’s foot)tineapedis

  • Disease of affluence (ready access to shared sporting facilities)
  • Affects 10% aduts
  • Trichophyton rubrum (80% human infection), T. interdigitale, Epidermorphyton floccosum
  • Incidence increasing
  • Genetic predisposition
  • Superficial but weepy and painful
  • Easy to treat but if ignored can get to nails
  • Pedis = foot -> Athlete’s Foot

Tinea unguium

  • Invasion of the nail platetineaUnguium
  • More common in elderly
  • Progressive, persistent, infectious
  • T. rubrum most common
  • 5-10% of population, 50% untreated
  • Treatment: Difficult, systematic, long treatment (3-6 months)
  • Nail ablation (surgical removal), urea creams
  • Unguium -> nail, elderly

Tinea capitistineaCapitis

  • Scalp infection (ringworm of the scalp)
  • Disease of poverty
  • Young people
  • Microsporum, Trichophyton
  • Incidence decreasing
  • Prevention: Avoid oiling hair, braiding, sharing combs, hats, etc, dirty barbers, skin trauma, overcrowding, animals (cats, dogs)
  • Capitis -> cap -> head

Tinea cruris (jock itch)

  • Groin, perineumtinea cruris
  • Common in high humidity/tropics, soldiers
  • E. floccossum, T. rubreum (worse)
  • Men (penis)
  • Going commando allows air to circulate
  • Prevention: loose cotton clothing, sterilise towels/underpants, reduce obesity
  • Cruris -> jock

Tinea corporis (ringworm)

  • T. rubrum, T. mentagrophytes tinea corporis
  • Fungus grows out, inflammation around edge
  • Most resolve on their own
  • Treatment: topical creams
  • corporis -> ringworm
Fungal Infections

Matt’s Guide to Listening to Podcasts

(My grandma said she didn’t know what a podcast was so I added this part: a portmanteau of “iPod” and “broadcast”, podcasts are meant to be audio-only content with as big a variety of topic and genre as video, and require neither an iPod or to be broadcast).

If you know me well you probably know that I really like podcasts. As a medium, I believe it’s unparalleled in the ease of the information consumption. Most people I’ve spoken to don’t listen to podcasts at all. Most don’t know how/where to start.

I use Podcast Addict. You can also use iTunes. A quick Google search can give you lists of them. That’s not what I’m going to be talking about.  I listen to podcasts pretty much all the time I’m not talking to people/watching videos/ in uni, so I have about 35 which I regularly listen to. These are what I’ll be telling you about below, along with how I think you should listen to them.

podcast-addict.jpg

Tips:

  • Don’t just sit and listen to them. The fact that they’re audio-only means you can do other things with your other senses. Tidy, clean, do work, play video games, walk places, work out, cook, etc. Whatever you do that doesn’t need you to listen to something else, you could be listening to podcasts.
  • Unlike most music, it’s not the same over and over and what comes before does effect what comes after, so it probably will matter if you miss something. Most players have a button to skip back ~30 seconds which you may use a lot. I would always suggest pausing if somebody tries to speak to you or something (many mobile devices automatically pause the audio if the earphones become unplugged so if you need to pause quickly this could be useful).
  • Don’t download all 100 episodes of a new podcast all at once. Podcasts do take up memory, so I’d recommend only downloading n+1, where n is as many as you think you’ll get through before you get back to somewhere with wifi, then deleting the episode as soon as you’re done.

These are some of the podcasts I listen to, ordered alphabetically (not by my preference or review score).

Agents of C.L.I.X.

Agents of C.L.I.X..jpg
Category: Games & Hobbies

Status: Ongoing

A heroclix podcast, relatively new, where they discuss the competitive side of the game, rules, and team-building around different figures.

Alice Isn’t Dead

aliceisntdead
Category: Arts, Performing Arts

Status: Hiatus post-season one

A fiction podcast from Night Vale Presents. It follows a truck driver as she takes a road trip across America searching for her wife Alice (who isn’t dead, as it turns out).

 

Always Open

alwaysopen

Category: Comedy

Status: Ongoing

Rooster Teeth’s Barbara Dunkelman brings together a mostly female cast to get bevvy before talking about their lives, and giving relationship and sex advice to their listeners, often drawing on their own experiences.

 

Before the Grumps

beforethegrumps.jpg

Category: Comedy

Status: Concluded

Essential supplement to the Game Grumps YouTube channel, the short series is made up of one Grump interviewing another about their life ‘before the Grumps’.

Buzzfeed’s Internet Explorer

buzzfeeds-internet-explorer

Category: Techology

Status: Hiatus

Ryan Broderick and Katie Notopoulos from Buzzfeed basically talk about memes. It’s pretty funny.

 

 

Cereal

cereal.jpg

Category: n/a

Status: Concluded, possibly being reborn as Grape Nation.

I listened to nearly two episodes of this before I realised it wasn’t the “Serial” everybody was raving about (though it is a joke based on it). It’s literally about breakfast cereals. Episode one is on Golden Grahams. Enjoy.

ClixCast

clixcast.jpgCategory: Games & Hobbies

Status: Ongoing

Podcast dedicated to HeroClix. A somewhat rotating cast of guys from Game Night in Huntingburg, Indiana talk about their most recent games, any upcoming releases, and their favourite characters from a specific keyword.

 

Cortex

cortex

Category: Technology

Status: Ongoing

A Relay FM podcast where co-founder Myke Hurley talks with educational YouTuber CGP Grey about their productivity and creativity, and work to improve both. A must-listen for anybody thinking about starting their own business.

 

Criminal

criminal.jpg

Category: Society & Culture

Status: Ongoing

A true crime podcast from Radiotopia by PRX. Phoebe Judge soothingly reports on a new “crime” each episode, often interviewing people “who’ve done wrong been wronged, or gotten caught somewhere in the middle”.

 

Dear Hank and John

dearhankandjohn

Category: Comedy

Status: Ongoing

The Green Brothers “answer questions, give questionable advice, and talk about Mars (the planet) and AFC Wimbledon (the 3rd tier English Football Club)”.

Freakonomics Radio

freakonomics-radio-podcast.jpgCategory: Society & Culture

Status: Ongoing

Companion to the Freakonomics book, this is a podcast about discovering the hidden side of everyday life. I honestly haven’t listened to much of it as I haven’t yet finished the book but the episodes I have listened to have been highly thought-provoking.

Hello Internet

hellointernet.pngCategory: Education

Status: Ongoing

CGP Grey’s first podcast, this time with Brady Haran (creator of Numperphile, Periodic Videos, and a plethora of other educational YouTube channels). It may be filed under education but it really is “two dudes talking”, often about flags, technology, YouTube, Grey’s new videos, aeroplane crashes, and small things that annoy Brady. It’s one of my favourites and a very well made podcast that is usually my go-to recommendation.

nailandgear.jpeg

(This is the ‘Nail & Gear’, the official yet public domain democratically-elected flag of the Hello Internet podcast. {spoilers for that episode}).

How Many Fingers Am I Holding Up?

hmf.jpg

Category: TV & Film

Status: Ongoing

Two guys called Joe and Mike review films while getting bevved up. The problem with film review podcasts is that I only listen when I’ve seen the film so I’ve only listened to about 16/76 episodes.

However, those 16 were quite entertaining and really good for when you’ve seen a film nobody else you know has seen so don’t have anyone to talk to about it. Honestly my favourite thing about this podcast is because it’s so new and small they interact with you on Twitter which is great (I got a shout-out in their X-Men: Apocalypse episode).

John Finnemore’s Double Acts

johnfinnemore.jpg

Category: n/a

Status: Concluded

A selection of self-contained sketches from the creator of comedy radio show Cabin Pressure. I would categorise it under comedy but they haven’t put it under anything hence the n/a above.  The logo in my app its 4 dots arranged in a ~square, one black and the others in lightening shades of grey but for some reason I couldn’t find that so.

Myke at the Movies

mykeatthemovies.jpg

Category:  TV & Film

Status: “Ongoing” (infrequent)

Myke Hurley of Relay FM fame talks about films he’s seen recently. Shorter than How Many Fingers but less technical I think.

 

 

Mystery Show

mysteryshow.jpeg

Category: Arts

Status: Concluded?

Staree Kine from Gimlet Media talk about mysteries. I’d describe it as cute. They have episodes on things like a belt buckle which nobody knows where came from and an offensive number plate.

 

Off Topic

offtopic

Category: Comedy

Status: Ongoing

Achievement Hunter’s podcast. The first let’s play division of Rooster Teeth, this podcast is great if you watch their content but I wouldn’t even try to make sense of it if you don’t.

Furthermore, they do a lot of visual stuff (but if you use YouTube for podcasts you’re an animal); you’ve been warned.

Relationship Goals

relationshipgoals

Category: Relationships, Comedy

Staus: Ongoing

Rooster Teeth’s newest podcast, Geoff and Griffon Ramsey interview other RT couples about their relationships – “relationship real-talk (with a pinch of sass).

 

 

Reply All

replyall.jpgCategory: Technology

Status: Ongoing

The first Gimlet podcast I listened to, still one of my favourites overall. “A show about the internet. And trained rats, travel, celebrity dogs, lovelorn phone scammers, angry flower children, workplace iguanas, and more”.

 

One of the most diverse podcasts I’ve come across, PJ Vogt and Alex Goldman talk about basically anything you could think of over their ~100 episodes, except it’s actually well-researched.

Rooster Teeth Podcast

rtpodcast.jpg

Category: Comedy

Status: Ongoing

I think I downloaded Podcast Addict just to listen to this. Probably my favourite podcast of all time but one I feel like people who aren’t a fan of Rooster Teeth won’t fully appreciate.

 

 

The most common line up of Founding Fathers Gus Sorola and Burnie Burns, Slow-Mo Guy / Achievement Hunter Gavin Free and Jew / Director of Social and Community Marketing Barbara Dunkelman talk about literally whatever they want. They tell a lot of funny stories, if you YouTube “RTAA” (Rooster Teeth Animated Adventure), you can watch their animations of some of the funniest tales people have told.

Science Vs

sciencevs.jpg

Category: Science & Medicine

Status: Ongoing

Another Gimlet media podcast (they do all sound similar but the content is unique). The host describes studies and talks to experts about a different topic each week, for example gun control, organic food, hypnosis, antidepressants, etc, to find out the scientific truth on how effective/real they are.

Sometimes I find it quite pretentious but to be fair, they use the scientific method very well so I feel like they’re allowed to be a bit high and mighty. Very educational.

Serial

serial.png

Category: News & Politics

Status: Concluded?

The first series seemed to get the public’s attention. 12 episodes of a journalist trying to get to the bottom of Hae Min Lee’s case. I only listened so I could listen to them talk about it on Hello Internet but I did enjoy it.

 

That said, season two was not as engaging (I didn’t finish it) and I would probably recommend Criminal over this because they seem to get the job done in about 1/20th of the time.

SinCast – Presented by CinemaSins

sincast.jpg

Category: TV & Film

Status: Ongoing

CinemaSins is a huge YouTube channel (“Everything Wrong with *blank* in x Minutes or Less”) and is well-supplemented by writers Chris Atkinson and Jeremy Scott (who provides the voice) along with the Music Video Sins writer Barret Share who talk about films, their creative process, and their time woking in movie theatres, along with the occasional “minipod” film review.

Surprisingly Awesome

surprisinglyawesome.png

Category: Education

Status: Concluded?

Yet another podcast by Gimlet Media, this time two guys named Adam pitch things that seem pretty lame and try to convince the other that they’re surprisingly awesome.

Admittedly I haven’t listened to them all yet but the episodes I have heard covered things like mould, free throws in basketball, and concrete.

The Infinite Monkey Cage

infinitemonkeycage.jpg

Category: Comedy, Science & Medicine

Status: Ongoing

Professor Brian Cox and comedian Robin Ince are joined by a panel of “experts” to discuss everything from extra-terrestrial life to quantum physics, and the occasional biological aspect, if Brian can stomach it.

Expect a lot of jokes about how Brian Cox doesn’t age, and a lot of fascinating physics.

The Orbiting Human Circus (of the Air)

orbitinghumancircus.jpeg

Category: Arts, Performing Arts

Status: Season One Concluded

Another fiction podcast from Night Vale Presents, though probably my least favourite. “Atop the Eiffel Tower, a lonely janitor stumbles into a series of alternately surreal and comic adventures as he becomes part of a mystery: What is the secret behind the wildly popular, bizarrely impossible love radio variety show being broadcast from the tower’s top?”. I’ll get up to date eventually, it just seemed slow at the start but maybe you’ll like it.

The Parapod

parapod.jpg

Category: Comedy

Status: Ongoing

Comedians Barry Dodds and Ian Boldsworth (Ray Peacock) talk about ghosts (season one), mysteries (season two), and now conspiracies (season three). Barry is probably the most gullible person on the planet and also a firm believer in the paranormal, whereas Ian is a rather logical pedant and voice of reason. The episodes mostly consist of Barry floundering with ill-researched accounts of suspicious or paranormal activities which Ian completely shuts down. It’s much funnier than the topic suggests, I’ve only recently started listening but I’m already up to date and it’s one of my favourites now.

The Patch

thepatch.jpg

Category: Games & Hobbies, Video Games

Status: Hiatus / Reworking

A Rooster Teeth podcast about video games and video-gaming culture. The cast’s role as fans and people with a lot of experience in the game industry give a unique perspective on it.

Not the most interesting if you don’t play games but honestly I just like the people in it: usually some combination of Ashley Jenkins, Ryan Haywood, Gus Sorola, and Meg Turney.

The Walking Dead ‘Cast

walkingdeadcast

Categories: TV & Film, Comedy

Status: Ongoing

The Walking Dead fans Jason and Karen talk about the most recent episode of TWD. Genuinely likeable people taking about one of my favourite shows, replacing the need for me to force my friends to watch it so I can talk about it with them.

 

 

The YogPod / Triforce!

Category: Comedy, Games & Hobbies

Status: Yogpod Concluded, Triforce Ongoing

yogpod.jpgTo clarify, these are two separate podcasts created by the Yogscast. The reason I’ve put them together like this is because this is how they are in my podcast player.

YogPod is Lewis and Simon talking about whatever, with occasional guest appearances of “Brian Blessed” or “Warwick Davis”, courtesy of Simon. One of the funniest things I’ve ever listened to, particularly the Halloween episodes.

 

Triforce! is Lewis again but this time triforce.pngjoined by Sips and Pyrion, who talk mostly about dad stuff, Star Trek, and eventually the episodes start to be concluded by Pyrion reading a chapter/part of his original sci-fi fiction: Bodega.

 

 

 

Ungeniused

ungeniused.jpeg

Category: Comedy, Education

Status: Ongoing

Relay FM again, this time the founders Myke Hurley and Stephen Hackett talk about the weirdest Wikipedia articles they can find, so far including Action Park, the Concorde, and The Great Molasses Flood of 1919. Short episodes provide great true stories to tell your friends.

 

Welcome to Night Vale

welcometonightvale.jpg

Category: Comedy, Arts, Literature

Status: Ongoing

Potentially one of the first podcasts I started listening to. My favourite fiction podcast, I always struggle to explain it other than that it’s given in the form of a community radio station in a desert town called Night Vale.

Basically, most conspiracy theories are true in this town but the humour comes from how unflinchingly they all accept it. Like, obviously, you should never go near the dog park. Honestly just listen to the first few episodes: 1- Pilot and 2 – Glow Cloud give you basically everything you need to know. It’s a great one.

Welcome to Our Podcast

welcometoourpodcast

Category: Comedy

Status: Ongoing

Comedian Mike Falzone and I have no idea what his partner Zoja’a job is just talk about their lives. Not everyone has a podcast, but these two do. Sequel to Mike’s Welcome to My Podcast. It’s not my favourite but it is nice to listen to in the dry spells between other weekly shows.

 

Within the Wires

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Category: Arts, Performing Arts

Status: Hiatus post-season one

A bit of a weird one, this Night Vale Presents podcast is a fiction presented as a series of relaxation cassette tapes to the listener, a fictional character who appears to be in some kind of correctional facility. I’m not up to date but I fully intend to as it’s so weird I want to know where it’s going.

 

To summarise, my five recommendations for new podcast listeners are:

  1. Hello Internet (two dudes talking)
  2. The Rooster Teeth Podcast (funny people talking again but more people, different people, less editing ,and with a video version if you’re into that {which you shouldn’t be})
  3. Welcome to Night Vale (fiction, delivered like a radio show in a very weird town)
  4. Reply All (investigative journalism about the internet but by people who actually understand the internet)
  5. The Parapod (two dudes talking but about ghosts etc)

Honourable mention to Criminal which I genuinely believe is the best true crime podcast around.

Happy listening.

Matt’s Guide to Listening to Podcasts

Vegruary (Vegan February)

Veganism

NB Trying to acknowledging my bias: I’m a vegetarian with a lot of vegan friends and I honestly believe the world would be a better place if everybody stopped participating in animal agriculture.

I wanted to write a bit about why it’s important to be vegan but I couldn’t quite phrase it so I asked a couple vegans I know:

“You are saving lives and you’re not supporting the unnecessary killing of cute animals like cows and then put a cute picture of a cow”

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“also you’re not contributing to as much global warming because animal agriculture is the largest contributor. – Hannah (best girlfriend ever)”

I also asked one of my flatmates but it turns out she has a thing where she hates it when people give short answers to complex questions so she gave me a ridiculously long answer so I decided to stop there. I will paste it below but I don’t expect anybody to read it.

“So for me theres really two main reasons that made me go vegan, the environmental argument and the ethical argument. Concerning the environment, we are the first generation to properly learn about the catastrophic impacts humans have had and continue to have on the environment, and probably the last that can effectively do something about it. I think this imparts each one of us us with the responsibility to do something, like a duty to care about our planet and its ressources, more than any generation before. Now look at some of the biggest environmental challenges our generation has to overcome: global warming, the destruction of seabeds and oceanic diversity, deforestation, managing to have enough land to produce food for 9 billions humans by 2050. All of these very important issues could be massively improved if only humans stopped being stupid and just changed their damn diets. For global warming, overall, when one accounts for the feeding, breathing, flatulence (c.f. methane, 30 times more potent than CO2), transportation and energy use related to the animal industry, it is responsible more than half human based greenhouse gas emissions. A study by Oxford researchers found that if vegan diets produce 70% (SE-VEN-TY FREAKING PERCENT) less greenhouse gas emissions than animal-based diets. Concerning our oceans, fishing practices like trawling, which are still very widespread, destroy the seabeds and their diversity. Also, accidental bycatch (which is 40% of total fishing) is a huge waste of life in itself, and it also hinders some species’ ability to reproduce, and basically fucks up marine ecosystems (by removing some predators, for example). Overall, fishing puts many ecosystems at risk, destroys ocean diversity and precipitates some species’ extinction. Concerning deforestation (no need to explain how damaging that is for species and for gas balance), the animal industry is the second overall for deforestation and the first for the Amazonian forest. Concerning food security for future generations, 2/3 of the earth’s viable viable agricultural land is fed to livestock; that could feed instead 3.5 billion humans (I make this point because even if we solve the economic dynamics behind malnutrition, because theres only a limited amount of agricultural land, we still could not feed all of the earth’s population). And I could go on and on, but yh basically my point is: the earth CANNOT sustain the 150 billion (some estimates go to trillions) extra lives the animal industry produces each year. It’s just too much. And ethics-wise, I cannot think of a single reason that would justify creating and immediately killing animals for our consumption. I think an important thing to realize is that eating meat, fish or dairy is not necessary for our health, as we can get all the macro & micro nutrients that these food provide from plant based sources. So yeah. These are broadly my reasons to go vegan. It’s very, very bad for the environment, it’s unnecessary health-wise, and it’s ethically questionnable. And also final point: some people are sympathetic to the reasons I’ve just laid out but think going vegan is extreme and that they should simply reduce their consumption of animal products a little bit. The problem with this argument is that we are waaaaayyy past the sustainability point for animal agriculture. To give an example of what I think about this argument, it’s like if theres a house on fire (the earth) and the reason for this fire is because some people keep on throwing explosives on the house (animal based diets). The solution to end the fire is not to throw a smaller quantity of explosives on the house; the solution is to stop altogether and switch to throwing water (vegan diet).”

30/01/2017 – Preparation day 1

February kind of snuck up on me, as months so often do. I realised I didn’t have much in the way of vegan food and if I didn’t want to live on pasta for days on end I’d have to do a sort of change-over shop of food like food I’ve had before that’s easy to do. Most of Sainsbury’s soups aren’t vegan so I had to get branded. Quorn’s ‘Fishless Fingers’ weren’t cheap either.

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31/01/2017 – Preparation day 2

Turns out even though December has 31 days, so does January. Who knew. Did another shop. Tried to get more wholefoods in there as even as a vegetarian I’m aware of how much I rely on processed substitutes. Vegan cheese is expensive but at this point I’m not sure how I’m going to replace jam and cheese sandwiches and cheese toasties. 16441268_10211766641343326_663701212_n

01/02/2017 – Day 1

The start. It was a pretty good morning. I donated the cereal box of my Frosted Flakes to a bar game the previous week but I checked the ingredients in the supermarket yesterday and the are vegan. I’ve been using Soybean milk since I started university so it wasn’t much different. I also had some rich tea biscuits (don’t judge me).

Had an hour gap at uni. Will it spoil the immersion to say that’s when I started typing all this? Pour Moi vending machine only had dairy milk so it’s black tea for me. Not great.

Had Vegetable soup for lunch because I forgot I didn’t have any bread. Also had some carrots with humus and then one of the vanilla soya dessert thingies (I was hungry). It was way better than I expected. Google said a small amount of cheese won’t kill a cat so I let it eat some dairy cheese off the floor of our kitchen (still worried about that). I went out again for a World Cancer Day lecture and got some bread on the way back, as well as some stir fry sauces because apparently you need those for stir fry too.

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I made it for dinner. The tofu tasted fine on the outside but it had the classically disgusting slimy texture on the inside. Thinking I’ll look for Vegan Quorn pieces in the big Sainsbury’s next week. The rest of it was good though. It’s amazing how much better food tastes when you can choose not to include what you don’t like (I’m looking at you, beansprouts).

Night out with a few course friends included some Skittles and Oreos. And some vodka.

02/02/2017 – Day 2

Woke late. >_> Lunch around 15:30. Jam, cheese, and lettuce sandwich as per usual but with the “cheddar-style” coconut alternative from Sainsbury’s. The Gary was more crumbly than dairy cheddar and smelt a lot stronger but once it was in the sandwich I could hardly taste the difference. It is about twice the price of dairy cheese though.

Realised I had leftover stir-fry veg that would go out of date while I was away over the weekend so I fried that up with some sweet chilli sauce while my Quorn vegan ‘Fishless Fingers’ and Sainsbury’s Basics oven chips were cooking.

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It was good, especially the veg, but think I prefer the vegetable fingers I used to have at home but I couldn’t find them in the supermarkets near me. I have a couple more servings in the freezer but I probably won’t be buying them again as they’re expensive and not really what I was going for out of this month.

I went to a language exchange session in my halls and had more black tea. I didn’t finish it. I also had to turn down a Dorito. Then a friend made cookies and I had to turn down her kind offer of those as well. It wasn’t a great night, food-wise.

03/02/2017 – (Cheat) Day 3

I was travelling after uni so I packed the bag I usually take with everything I needed for a couple days away from home. This included a sandwich identical to the one I made the other day, which I regretted in my Biochemistry tutorial when I had to open my nearly bursting bag to get some paper out and the potent smell of the vegan cheese filled the room. I’m really not feeling that cheese anymore.

I reluctantly ate that on the train and when I arrived my nana provided me with some tea and rich tea biscuits. Later that day we got fish and chips (chips and bread for me as their local place doesn’t do veggie burgers).

Here’s the thing: it’s my Nana’s 80th birthday next week so I went to stay with her over the weekend. My uncle was over from the Netherlands and my immediate family drove up with my girlfriend Hannah and we all spent a few days together with her and it was great. We had a cream tea type thing booked, organised a while in advance as there were about 11 of us going. So far in advanced was it organised in fact that it predates my decision to become vegan for the month of February 2017. This whole thing was about seeing how difficult it was to be vegan at home on my own. I’m not a super outgoing person at home and I prefer not to be an inconvenience but I wanted to see if I could prepare vegan meals for myself and feel full, happy, and healthy without the use of vitamin/mineral supplements. This is all preamble to say there was milk in the tea my nana made me, butter on the bread, and eggs with the chips. Unavoidable imo but it kinda sucks as I usually pride myself on uninterrupted routine/projects.

04/02/2017 – (Cheat) Day 4

A lot of routines fall apart when you’re away, I hope you’ll agree. My exercise regimen, my sleeping schedule, and as I stated, my vegan diet.

Hannah is vegan (the permanent sort) so in the morning we went shopping and got some soy milk (for her to drink while she was there), some flapjacks (she’s a hungry person and we woke too late for breakfast), and a tub of nutritional yeast for me to take back to university with me.

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Had sandwiches for lunch, mine with dairy cheese even though there was vegan
cheese there because I prefer it and I already wasn’t going to be vegan today so it was just easier than trying to explain to my nana (who is Maltese and doesn’t understand why I don’t at least eat fish) that I don’t want cheese in my jam sandwich even though I’ve had it every other time.

The event which catalysed this non-vegan weekend came later, at 3pm when we arrived at the hotel and I was given a tray of vegetarian sandwiches (somehow fewer than Hannah the vegan was given, although I’m not salty as there were a lot of plain cheese ones available too. I had a scone and drank a LOT of tea and had an all-round great time. I’m incredibly comfortable being vegetarian. Later that day we had a big not-vegan cake and played games, it was a fun day.

I took photos out of habit but I’m not including them because this is meant to be a document of my adventures as a vegan (which this weekend was not). In fact I could probably have omitted these days entirely but I miss writing for fun and this is quite a long train journey back.

05/02/2017 – (Cheat) Day 5

Had Shreddies with dairy milk. If I’d thought ahead I probably could have been vegan today but… listen, I didn’t – my bad. Lunch was a roast dinner, we had Linda McCartney pies which are vegan so my meal could have been what is sometimes referred to as “accidently vegan”, if not for the sage and onion stuffing which I noticed Hannah didn’t eat and when I asked told me it contains butter (so just ignore those in the picture). This was followed by apple pie and custard which is not depicted because it’s clearly not vegan, not least because every vegan custard I’ve come across has been an abomination (I am SO open to recommendations on that front).16559378_10211806176011668_540423489_n.jpg

My nana likes to give us food to take away with us, often sneaking into my bag if my parents tell her we don’t have space, and seeing as I don’t live at home right now I got my own to take. She’s a lovely lady and gave me a bunch of chocolate bars/biscuits etc and Madeira cake. My second favourite type of cake, it’s one which I only ever really have at her’s. My dilemma is this: the rest of it will be fine, I’ll keep it til March (although I have had a bit on the train). But the Madeira cake has a best before date in February. As I’m writing this on the train I haven’t decided whether to save it and eat it after its best before date in March, or to just eat the whole thing tonight.

I didn’t need a big meal but I was excited to try my nutritional yeast so I just made some pasta and sprinkled it on.16736604_10211868090679496_1123100135_n

It didn’t taste that good. Also a non-vegan friend from upstairs was down with us so I split the Madeira cake with her.

06/02/2017 – Day 6

Sainsbury’s spicy bean burgers are so good. They’re vegan but I guess if they put that on the front nobody would buy them.

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07/02/2017 – Day 7

Hannah makes stuffed pepper a lot so I thought I’d give it a go as at this point I consider it stereotypically vegan. I had a tin of ratatouille so I mixed that with some rice and bunged it in a pepper for a bit. Not the biggest pepper because they ran out of individual ones and I had to buy a three-pack. I sprinkled some of that gross vegan cheese on the top just to try to use it up (I really don’t want it in a sandwich again).

07

08/02/2017 – Day 8

I was hungry at uni today and went to what I now realise is a vegan’s worst nightmare – vending machines. The orderly array of snacks is much less useful when you realise you can’t read the packets. I struggled to google the ingredients of a Nutri-Grain bar so I risked it. It contains milk so I’m saving it til March. I went a safer route and bought some salt and vinegar crisps which were fine.

Later, more fishless fingers.

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Sainsbury’s has this crumble mix my vegan flatmate told me about. It’s a little 50p bag but you get a few servings out of it. Just bung some fruit in a bowl, sprinkle this on, leave in the oven for half an hour or so and it’s a great crumble. She usually does this with banana and mixed berries but I don’t really like berries so I stewed a pear and used that with banana.

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I love crumble and I’m definitely going to be using this cheap mix long after this vegan month is over.

09/02/2017 – Day 9

I’ve long hailed Mexican food as great vegetarian food and I realised I haven’t made anything remotely Mexican since September so I tried my hand at some enchiladas. I accidently got mixed beans in sauce but it ended up fine, most of the sauce was gone after I’d fried it with some onions, green pepper, and a powder fajita mix.

09

I realise you can’t see the inside but look at this great picture of wholemeal wraps.

10/02/2017 – Day 10

:3

Why are bean burgers so good

06

11/02/2017 – Day 11

I’ve been having falafel, humus, and lettuce instead of jam and the iffy vegan cheese. It is quite expensive but it’s also so good.

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(yeah I forgot to take a picture before I started eating)

I really need to go shopping. I had a slightly squishy potato I microwaved for 4 minutes.

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12/02/2017 – Day 12

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I know, you can’t tell what’s in it. I’ll cut it and take a picture showing the cross-section next time, I promise. For the record, it was black beans and green pepper.

13/02/2017 – Day 13

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(Told you). You can tell I worry about my wraps going mouldy. Struggled to come up with something today so it’s basically rice with vegetables in some sauce or another, fried until it wasn’t too wet, then wrapped up.

14/02/2017 – Day 14

I think Hannah was the first to tell me about chips and gravy, though she has it thicker. Also, I love these Linda McPies.

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15/02/2017 – Day 15

Not super proud of this next dish. I had this sweet and sour sauce thing and some noodles and I was like meh sure but then I was worried about protein but all I had was the Fishless Fingers so… yeah there’s a couple of those in there too.

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Followed that hot mess up with a kick-ass plum crumble though. Not gonna lie, I should probably cut down on these. Also the plum kinda turned to jam in the oven, it was good but it was veeerrryyy sweet.

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16/02/2017 – Day 16

I didn’t have much time today for a number of reasons, notably that I was playing piano in the jazz band and doing tech for/helping to put on a pub quiz in the bar most of the evening, along with a later finish at uni than usual. So I made pasta.

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I have no concept of how much nutritional yeast is like “normal” so… I guess a little bit more wouldn’t have hurt.

17/02/2017 – Day 17

Not sure about this one, sorry. Looks like rice in sweet chilli sauce. Guess I was lazy that day.

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18/02/2017 – Day 18

I found a vegan curry sauce (Rogan Josh) and cooked beans with it but unfortunately vegan naan bread wasn’t so easy to find. Hence the toast.

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19/02/2017 – Day 19

Sweet chilli something. Sauce:Bean ratio was a bit off, I’ll admit.18

20/02/2017 – Day 20

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21/02/2017 – Day 21

Hannah came to visit me today for belated Valentine’s Day. She packed a picnic we ended up eating in my kitchen because of the weather, but it had humous, lettuce, and cucumber sandwiches, crisps, dairy-free fudge (so good) and Bournville dark chocolate.

We like to cook together so we decided to make this cottage pie type thing but with lentils. We even bought potatoes especially (because I don’t buy perishables without a plan of how to use them and when). Unfortunately left it too late and 20 minutes before we had to leave to get her back to the train station so we abandoned the mash we hadn’t started and just made spaghetti, served it straight into the lunch boxes she’d brought the sandwiches in and ate it on the way to the train station.

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Not our best moment, culinarily(?), but I had a great time with her regardless.

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This is her, but I’m just showing off now.

22/02/2017 – Day 22

I feel like I’m ruining falafel, humous, and lettuce by having it ~every day so I mixed it up with soup.

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It looks messy because I just put that bowl in the microwave and it got all bubbly and such, you know how it is.

I was really proud of this. A Linda McPie from the freezer but the rest was actually fresh. Potato, sweet potato, and carrots, cut up and baked covered in oil, oregano, pepper, and a little salt. Not sure if that many ingredients was necessary (it’s about 3 more things than I usually put on anything) but they tasted good.

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23/02/2017 – Day 23

There’s a reason I meant to update this every day. I’ve honestly no idea what happened this day. All I remember is that there was more of it in the saucepan that I ate straight out of it. Looks to be maybe lentils in some sort of sauce. How embarrassing.

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EDIT: Pretty sure this was Jazz Band immediately followed by the Martial Arts Bar Crawl.

24/02/2017 – Day 24

My family came as it was the end of half term. We went to an escape room which was awesome. We got out with three seconds to spare. We ate in the restaurant of the hotel they were staying in and just as I suspected there was nothing vegan. I had a green Thai curry which I’ll include for completion’s sake but yeah sorry. I already explained why I was okay with doing stuff like this.

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25/02/2017 – Day 25

This tomato and red pepper soup I think is from Aldi but it was included in the box of food my grandparents got me for Christmas and I said I loved it so my grandma got some more and gave it to my parents to bring me :’3

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Pasta with nutritional yeast. Wondering whether I need to include that on a blood donation form. Probably not, right? You don’t have to check a box for food. Only supplements.

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26/02/2017 – Day 26

Had no carrots so I used this new frozen bag, it’s way better though it’s got broccoli and pepper in too 😀 I roasted potatoes again though, because I do that now B)

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27/02/2017 – Day 27

Mashed potatoes myself because the frozen stuff contains milk. Topped with a tin of Mixed Beans in Chilli Sauce. It was pretty good.

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(yes, I’m trying to use up the potatoes Hannah and I bought before they go bad)

28/02/2017 – Day 28

Shrove Tuesday/Pancake Day.

My first time making vegan pancakes so I googled “vegan pancake recipe”. My newly vegan flatmate also googled “vegan pancake recipe”, independently of me. We both clicked the top link, but whereas she read the comments/reviews that all said “why is there so much baking powder, these taste disgusting there’s too much baking powder, are you sure you don’t mean two teaspoons not two tablespoons of baking powder that’s way too much it tastes awful if you make this don’t use that much baking powder”. I didn’t.pancakes

So they were gross. I covered them in a lot of maple syrup and sugar but yeah they were super bitter. Fortunately it was my friend’s birthday gathering afterwards and she made vegan brownies :3 I couldn’t eat the doughnuts or pizza though.


 

So that’s it. I was vegan for ~ a month, though it ended up being like 24 days, less impressive. Here’s some things I learnt:

  • Sainsbury’s bourbons are vegan, as are ginger nuts
  • Dairy and eggs are not required to make great brownies
  • Vegan cheese is no good at all (at least not Sainsbury’s free-from cheddar)
  • Falafel is expensive
  • It takes a lot more effort and forethought to go out to eat if you’re vegan, especially if you are the only vegan in the group
  • Free-From “butter” is good
  • Beans are good
  • Quorn is not for vegans that stuff is near exclusively vegetarian oh my
  • I would constantly forget to check labels but I never actually got burned by that – while a lot of food does seem to contain milk for no reason, not everything does. It’s not as hard to avoid as I thought

I wasn’t expecting the most difficult part of be cheese. Jam and cheese has been my go-to sandwich filling for years now and having to change that wasn’t particularly agreeable.

Even though I’m not going to become vegan after this, I am going to continue to buy oat or soy milk as I have been for months, and I’ll also get free-from spread instead of dairy butters. I’ll also be open to trying other brands of vegan cheese though I’m not impressed with what I’ve tried so far. The more people buy these products the more companies will recognise the demand, so I’m happy to help in that way even though I’ll probably get a lot of resentment for not going all in on it.

But don’t take my word for it (although thanks if you read it), try it yourself. For lent, for an arbitrary week, for a month (Vegpril anyone?), it really helps understand the lifestyle so you don’t sound so ignorant when you talk about it 😉

Vegruary (Vegan February)

Freshers Year at Uni – a survival guide

timbustinandtheworld

Congratulations to everyone who survived Results Day and managed to get their place at uni. Now get ready to feel a new kind of nervousness and fear – that for the start of university. Here’s some free advice: not be afraid, be excited! Uni is fantastic and first year is probably the best (or at least it has the least work). Now, here’s all the free advice you need to get through first year. This is divided into sections for all the questions you might have, so scroll through and look for what you need if you like.

How hard is first year, really?

You, the Fresher

Let’s say this: ignore all the horror stories your teachers have been telling you for years. First year at uni is easier than A levels. Yep, that’s right. There’s less lectures than lessons, little homework and so much free time. You don’t even…

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Freshers Year at Uni – a survival guide

Causes of World War II

This essay was written by me in 2011/12, the academic year before I started my Edexcel GCSE History, with only minor edits.

Four main causes of WWII have been suggested by historians: The problems caused by the way the First World War ended; the economic crisis of 1929-33 and the rise of dictators in Germany, Italy, and Japan; the failure of the League of Nations; and the policy of appeasement followed by Britain and France in the 1930s.

I think that, despite all being contributing factors to World War II, the way in which the first war ended, including the Treaty of Versailles and the treatment of Germany all the way up to 1926, was the main cause of the war. I will explain why throughout the course of this essay.

The League of Nations was created after the First World War with the seemingly simple task of maintaining peace. 42 countries formed the League, the UK and France being two of the most powerful. I think that the main reason the League of Nations failed in its noble endeavour was because three of the world’s most potentially powerful nations were not a part of it. Despite the whole idea of the League being the idea of American president Woodrow Wilson, the USA declined the invitation after deciding that it wanted to be isolated from the rest of the world. It did this because it was angry at being forced to get involved in West-Europe’s affairs. Russia was refused entry because it was a communist nation, it was in a civil war and the royal family had just been murdered. Over the years however, Russia’s economy became stable once more; the Russian civil war having ended, and it was allowed entry in 1934. Germany was also refused entry when the League was founded. Germany was primarily blamed for the warm, and the Treaty of Versailles, amongst other punishments, prevented the country from being viewed as a member of the international community, ergo not eligible to be part of the League of Nations and was forced to take full responsibility for the war, conveniently forgetting the fact that it was Great Britain who officially declared war on Germany. All of this just added to Germany’s bitterness and humiliation and contributed greatly to its uprising.

Germany was struggling with meeting these conditions, after all, it had spent nearly $38billion during the First World War, and in desperation the country took a loan from one of the Earth’s most powerful nations, America. However, not long after lending money to Germany (and several other Western European countries) America fell into an economic depression, known as the “Wall Street Crash”. This happened to America because it started making too many products, more than were being bought. The countries had to repay American and the recalling of the loans affected the majority of Europe, but Germany was hit especially hard as, unlink other countries, it had had to pay over six million pounds for the Treaty of Versailles. This put Germany in an economic depression, which made the people understandably unhappy and annoyed. They blamed the war for their economic situation and when World War I veteran and Nazi party leader Adolf Hitler stood up and offered them the chance to amend things, the people rallied around him.

In addition to Hitler, powerful dictators were rising to power in other areas of the globe, specifically Italy and Japan. Fascist politician Benito Mussolini took charge in Italy, leading a controversial party consisting mostly of dissatisfied war veterans and citizens who were strongly against the idea of communism. Hirohito, or “Emperor Shōwa”, became Emperor of Japan (which was one of the five permanent members of the League of Nations) on December 25th 1926, and along with his Prime Ministers Hideki Tôjô and Prince Fumimaro Konoe, ruled the final dictatorship to the sign the Tripartite Pact in 1940, establishing the Axis Powers of WWII. This team of rebels formed one side of the war against the allies.

Appeasement can be defined as “giving a bully what they want”. Hitler build up his army. After 1936, he reintroduced conscription, and war-tested his armed forces in the Spanish Civil War. Britain and France turned a blind eye to these breaches of the Treaty of Versailles, and such an apathetic view appeared, to many, as appeasement. In 1936, Hitler moved his troops into the Rhineland. The appeasement here, again, was that France did nothing to stop this breach of the Versailles Treaty. In 1938 Hitler went further, He invaded Austria and declared Anschluss (the annexing of Austria into Germany). This too broke the Treaty of Versailles. Again, neither France nor Britain intervened. Also in 1938, Hitler got the Sudeten Nazis to cause trouble, and then he demanded union. At Munich (29th September), Britain and France gave the Sudetenland to Germany. They gave then bully what he wanted. This was appeasement at its worse. These actions of Britain are called appeasement, but other factors were important – some people agreed with the Germans, some felt it wasn’t Britain’s business, and it gave Britain time to prepare for war. These acts of ‘weakness’ from the Allies fed the Axis’ egos and gave them more confidence that they could win a war.

Although all these causes could stand alone, ultimately the way the First World War ended was responsible for the Second. It was the detrimental way the Allies treated the defeated Germany that set off a domino effect which let to the war. In exemplification, if the Treaty of Versailles hadn’t punished Germany so badly, the country would never have had to borrow money from America, meaning the Wall Street Crash wouldn’t have put Germany into an economic depression. If Germany wasn’t in debt, the people wouldn’t have been so lustful for vengeance then Hitler’s stand wouldn’t have gained as much public support and (what would soon be) the Axis Powers would probably not have been able to carry out the actions which gave Britain and France the chance to appease, and started World War II.

Causes of World War II

Heroclix – Black Order

I have no idea who the Black Order is. I’m pretty sure my dad doesn’t either. Nevertheless, he’s been playing it a lot recently.

Black Order

1. Primary attacker GOTG050 Proxima Midnight – 100ptsproximamidnightdial.png

Running shot and Psychic Blast. Winning combination on any figure. It may seem odd to combine these with Combat Reflexes, a close combat defence power, but Proxima Midnight’s Sharpshooter ability allows her to make ranged combat attacks against adjacent opposing characters, so she can Running Shot into adjacency in order to make use of the 20 defence. Proxima then switches to Charge to make use of the Steal Energy and Close Combat Expert she picks up. SidestepSuper Senses, and Perplex round this piece up nicely but her real selling point is her abundance of great traits. She begins the game with three Tracer tokens on her card, giving her that number of lightning bolt targets and three times that range. This means she starts with a 9 range three targets. Spectacular. Her other trait, ‘The Spear of Proxima Midnight’ allows her to put one of these Tracer tokens on a hit opposing character. Then at the beginning of the turn, roll a D6 for each Tracer token on an opponent’s card, and on a result of 3-6 that character takes 1 penetrating damage. A fine trade off for a third of her range and lightning bolt targets.  Her final trait is common amongst the Black Order figures. ‘Cull Obsidian’; What can only be described as Super Mystics. When Proxima Midnight gets KOd, the attacking figure is dealt damage equal to the damage dealt in the killer blow against her. And this damage can’t be reduced below one. Brutal.

2. Secondary Attacker – GOTG048 Supergiant – 120ptsSupergiant dial

Supergiant. Minion of Thanos and member of the Black Order, with the ‘Cull Obsidian’ trait described above to prove it. Supergiant’s thing seems to be Mind Control, able to use it on 6 of her 7 clicks, with a special white power version on the first 3. ‘Mental Possession’ enables her to use Mind Control without taking feedback damage and with a +1 attack. This power also means she can use it as a free action at the beginning of the turn if she hit the target with it in her previous turn. This is potentially spectacular. If she hits, she can do it for free next turn. If she misses she can try again as a power action, and if she keeps hitting at least once per turn then she can control a figure indefinitely (from 7 squares away), maybe without even needing an action token. This piece also starts with Invulnerability and a special damage power granting Outwit, with the addition of modifying all the target’s combat values by -1. On click 3, Supergiant picks up Shape Change and Toughness instead of these, and on click 4 the special white Mind Control power is replaced by the bog standard pale blue kind. This is where she picks up her final special power, ‘Omnipath’. With this, she can use Penetrating / Psychic Blast but able to target any number of characters. This is pretty nifty, and increases the chance she’ll hit somebody with her 9/10 attack values. Supergiant’s dial ends with PerplexWillpower, and a last click starring Pulse Wave. A good piece, but one I’d argue should not be 20 more than Proxima Midnight.

3. Support – GOTG025 Ebony Maw – 65pts

EbonyMawdial

At just 65pts, Ebony Maw has the trinity of support powers available to him. OutwitPerplex, and Probability Control. He can use these through his trait ‘Words, Words, Words’. However, he can only use them when opposing characters do. When that happens, he gets a Whisper token on his card, and he can be given up to 3 free actions a turn to remove one of these in exchange for using one of these powers for the round. Many teams utilise at least 1 of these powers, and this puts the opponent in a somewhat tricky decision. Do you use your team’s support powers as wantonly as you normally would, and just accept that it means Ebony Maw can too? Or do you be frugal, targeting Maw and thriving once he’s out of the way? Different people will answer differently and that’s okay, but know that the latter option is not as easy as it initially sounds. Ebony Maw sports Stealth and Super Senses throughout his whole dial to keep him safe. Near the end he also picks up Shape Change, and he possesses a smattering of Poison and Exploit Weakness to deter being based as a means to bypass his Stealth. This is in addition to his Black Order birthright of the nasty nasty ‘Cull Obsidian’ trait. Maybe it won’t be so worth targeting him first after all. But if you do, he has his special attack power – ‘Twist Into Betrayal’. This allows him to force an attacking character to target an opposing character adjacent to him instead of himself, even if they couldn’t normally be targeted. I wonder how often his white special attack power actually works in tournaments:
A: “I’ll attack Ebony Maw”
B: “Okay I’ll make you attack your own guy instead”
A: “Okay I won’t do that then; sorry, I didn’t know”

Perhaps it’s been pulled off in an extremely competitive environment. Still, it’s a good deterrent.

How Did It Play:

Orderly. In a Black Orderly fashion. Gosh that one was forced.

The team did what it was supposed to do. Proxima Midnight shot people. Supergiant Mind Controlled and Outwitted people. Ebony Maw used Perplex and Probability Control a whole bunch, more so in the game against Z-Virus than against the Midnight Sons. It went 1:1, with ‘Cull Obsidian’ obliterating figures like Blade who KOd Proxima with a roll of 6 on Blades / Claws / Fangs and promptly fell himself from the trait’s power. On the other hand, Super Skrull’s chosen Pulse Wave we ruled to bypass the trait, allowing for a much easier victory over this Black Order team. It’s an exciting idea and I look forward to the team being tested more and adapted to be better (perhaps substituting Supergiant, I’m not big on Mind Control).

Dial mages from HCRealms.

BlackOrderteam

Heroclix – Black Order