Monday, April 28, 2008

Anyone for badders?

Well, I've survived three or four weeks of badminton, American style.

American style? Actually, it's just the same as everywhere else. First Monday nights, then Wednesday's, then move to a new location for a couple of weeks, then back to the original venue, but on a Friday night.

Yes, just like British badminton ...

As for the players; the Monday night guys are pretty keen, and there are a few very good players there. I feel quite at home with the Wednesday evening crowd. There are even one or two Brits to help me feel at home.

If nothing else, I've learned how to mark out a badminton court with masking tape and a bit of knotted rope. You never know when that might be useful.

Monday, April 21, 2008

LP ... CD ... Blu-Ray ???

SACD, MD, DVD-A, DAT ... 5.1, 7.1 ... DTS ... What is the fascination with the Long Playing Record?

It's scratchy, poppy, clicky and dusty. But some of us still love it.

More here.

Friday, April 18, 2008

PAFC : Business As Usual

So, Plymouth Argyle didn't make the playoffs ... quel surpris!!!

I wonder if they really want the big time. I wonder if Plymouth does too.

Never mind, there's always next season. And maybe things are on the up. A new deal with a Japanese company, an announcement on the Mayflower stand in the offing ...

Let's hope.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Bike News : Index


0a : On Yer Bike
0b : 5 Boro Bike Tour
01 : First Ride Of The Season ... and punctures
02 : 5 Boro Bike Tour : 4.5.2008
03 : 5 Boro Bike Tour : images
04 : More About Punctures ... or not
05 : Princeton FreeWheelers - Wedneday Evening Ride
06 : MTB - Six Mile Run Reservoir Site
07 : Giro di Jersey 2008 : stage 1 Ringoes ITT
08 : Giro di Jersey 2008 : stage 2 Rocky Hill
09 : Giro di Jersey 2008 : stage 3 Corner House GP
10 : Giro di Jersey 2008 : Results and Images
11 : Tyre Damage : Continental GP4000
12 : Tyre Damage : Doh!!!
Future bicycle blogging can be found at VeloStage.

* last update : 22.06.2008

Bike 01 : First Ride Of The Season ... and punctures

Well, last week I went out for an hour or so. And today I rode for two hours. I covered close to thirty miles. Not bad considering ...

I was using my road bike, the Trek 1200. As I've mentioned before, I ride a frame smaller than normally recommended for someone of my height - 1.90m / 6ft 3". This means the seatpin is pretty much at full extension, and I've rotated the stem 180 degrees to raise the bars about 50mm / 2in. I feel pretty comfortable with the result.

The real problem with cycling here isn't the standard of driving, although some drivers seem to have homicidal attitudes towards cyclists, but punctures.

I know one of the complaints in the UK is that roads aren't swept enough, but here they don't seem to be swept at all. Given too, that road surfaces aren't nearly as good as you might suppose in a country where the whole economy seems to be driven by the automobile, frequent punctures seem to be the cyclist's lot.

So this year I gave some thought to alleviating, if not solving the problem.

Tyres : I am trying Continental GP4000's. This tyre uses a new material, Vectran, which is supposed to be more resistant to punctures and have better rolling resistance than Kevlar.

In addition, I'm trying some new tyre sealant, Sludge, which has been specially formulated for application through presta valves. In the case of the Continental inner-tubes I am using, the core of the valve unscrews anyway, making application even easier.

On the road, the extra 50gms of sealant in each tyre feels insignificant, but the Contis are a revelation. Despite being pumped up to 120psi, they don't seem to have the teeth-rattling effect my other tyres had at 100psi. Not only that, the tyres seem to hold their path well, even on tight corners. It will be interesting to see what they're like in the wet.

On the downside, the Contis are very expensive here - about the cost of some car tyres. You might get a better deal from PBK in the UK.

The 5 Boro Bike Tour is only a matter of a couple of weeks away ... I'd better keep this up.

* PS : Yes, I know how to spell tyres ...
* see my Bike Index here

Sunday, April 06, 2008

Stuff 05 : Sansa®TakeTV™ video player

I have had one of these devices for a few months now, and I have to say it's one of the best things since sliced bread, particularly if you download UK - or any other, of course - tv shows and would like to watch them on the big screen rather than hunched over your computer.

The Sansa®TakeTV™ video player enables you to copy video media files from your computer, via its USB port and then play them back through your tv.

The system consists of three parts; 8Gb USB memory card, remote and tv docking station, plus connecting cables and power supply. Output is only NTSC, at least in the US version.

There are short-comings. The unit will only play .avi files and certain .divx flavours, but it's still a kick to watch the latest Dr Who a couple of hours after its UK broadcast as I did last evening. The video quality is as good as the original file. HD downloads look very good indeed.

If you want to watch your downloads on tv then I can recommend the TakeTV.

* I should add, I have no connection with the manufacturers or retailers other than as a satisfied customer.

*See my hifi / media index here.

Stuff 04 : Princeton Record Exchange

By happy serendipity, Princeton has one of the best sources of new and used BVDs - Black Vinyl Discs - anywhere.

Princeton Record Exchange.

In fact, the BVD sales sector is one of the few that is increasing its percentage of the music media market.

What is it about records in these days of Blu-Ray and music downloads? I've blogged elsewhere on why I still cling onto this apparently outmoded, yet rather satisfying medium, so I won't bore you now.

However, I am now a contributor to PREX's blog where I intend to write about the Music I Like and the means of delivering it.

Perversely, my first contribution is about a CD, but hey! It was more about genre than the medium itself.

So if you have the inclination, take a look. If you've been referred here from PREX's blog, welcome.

Thanks for taking the time.

*10.04.2008 : NYT article

*See my hifi / media index here.

Wednesday, April 02, 2008


There are a number of world sports which tend to be under the radar here in the USA. Notably; cricket (bigger than baseball); rugby (bigger than gridiron football); and, of course, football (not soccer - bigger than anything).

Then there are sports that are virtually unheard of, at least at a competitive, international level.

That's not to say that it's impossible to play those sports in the USA. Association Football has its ups and downs but now the USA national team is no longer a joke as more and more players gain experience in European and S American teams.

Rugby has a following in college and ex-pat communities, and cricket has outposts, once again in ex-pat and Indian and Pakistani communities.

As a matter of fact, the oldest international sporting event in the modern era was a cricket match between the USA and Canada in the 1840s.

As for badminton ... I used to play some years ago when I was quite handy ... not an expert ... but I could hold my own.

Badminton here in the USA tends to be looked at as a summer lawn sport, gently tapping the shuttle back and forth across the net. People don't seem to know that badminton is a serious sport in the rest of the world. For a start it's the fastest racquet sport in the world; shuttles can travel at over 200mph/320kph!!!

So, feeling I could do with some exercise I've been looking for a game somewhere. Badminton is hard to find here except for Universities and colleges, which usually have a club for students, and some expensive racquet clubs. A few weeks ago I was really pleased to find that our local township runs a seasonal badminton club, which I have joined.

That was the first step. The next was finding equipment. That really is quite difficult. Local sports suppliers only seem to cater for the big three; baseball, US football, basketball, plus the next tier; golf, hockey, tennis ... and that's it. Well, maybe in-line skates ... Badminton gear is limited to toy-like garden sets ... two racquets, a net and a plastic shuttlecock ... $15.00.

Once again, the internet came to the rescue. I got a nice Yonex racquet from Badminton Alley - in California - and classic HiTec Badminton shoes from You'll have to google these yourself ... they're hard to find.

Last Monday, not knowing what to expect, I turned up for the first meeting of the season at our local school gym. Of course, there was a booking problem - just like back in England. This was quickly sorted out. But, badminton being what it is here, there were no courts marked out, so using a magic, knotted piece of rope, the assembled players marked out the courts in masking tape.

The standard of play was pretty good, so I wondered if I would be better off on the other, less competitive evening. But for the most part, I didn't look too rusty. Stuff like position on the court seeped back into my memory, although I had some difficulty returning high lobs both on the forehand, and on the backhand - previously a speciality of mine.

Maybe I just need a bit more practice. It's been more than five years since I last played, but I'm a bit suspicious of my glasses. They have varifocal/progressive lenses and I'm wondering if they're part of the problem, or maybe that's my excuse and I just need to get back into the groove.