Monday, 28 June 2010

Football & Formula One

So for most people in England at least, last weekend was probably dominated by England's 4-1 defeat at the hands of Germany. The game being most noticeable for what's one of the most controversial refereeing decisions to have been seen at a game of that calibre. I say most controversial, but it's actually probably the least controversial given that the decision was obviously just flat-out wrong. There's no real debate over it whatsoever. It clearly crossed the line and then some. It was a goal. End of argument.

What pisses me off to a large extent is people saying that it doesn't really matter in the end because the final score would have been 4-2 and Germany would still have won by a good margin. Which is a ridiculously naïve and retarded way of thinking about it, because that's just not how sports work. If that goal had counted, the scoreline would have been 2-2 at half time. It would have meant England had not only tied the game, but had momentum moving in their favour going into the second half.

Completely ignoring any psychological effects of having a clear goal for your side disallowed, being at 2-2 is a completely different position from being 2-1 down. Both of Germany's last two goals were extremely good counter-attacks, and the few England players back defending just completely failed to cope with the situation and track back properly. The main difference is that if the score was 2-2, Germany might have never had the opportunity to counter-attack, because England wouldn't have been chasing a goal so hard, and wouldn't have committed as many men forward. It's all ifs and buts at the end of the day, but to say that the scoreline would probably have been 4-2 is just retarded, because Germany probably wouldn't have gotten their third and fourth goals, or at least wouldn't have gotten them in the manner at which they did.

I'd also like to make a point of how fucking retarded their third goal was from an England perspective. It was a freekick that Lampard smashed into the wall, so why the fuck were Terry and Upson even up out of position? If he was never planning on whipping the ball into the box for someone to head at goal, why the hell were our defenders pushed so far up the field? I understand bringing centre-backs up for corners, but for shooting free-kicks? We were chasing the game, granted, but they should have been back ready to defend when the free-kick was never going to actually involve them. You don't need your centre-backs up to maybe poke in a dropped save from the goalkeeper or a deflection. It was unnecessary, and if they were where they should have been, we might not have conceded that third goal and things could have gone differently.

But back to the disallowed goal, which yet again demonstrated the need for video replays for this sort of thing in football. Demonstrated, and will probably make no difference whatsoever, because Sepp Blatter doesn't think it should be introduced, and apparently what the entire rest of the world thinks doesn't matter. I don't get his argument that a human still has to make the decision. So what? If a human has to make a decision, why can't they be making as informed a decision as possible? Why are we relying on referee's ability to see incidents that might be off the ball where they're not looking, or several yards away from them, when we already have the technology in place for video replays. It's not like there aren't already dozens of cameras around the ground. If we people at home, thousands of miles away, can see the replay, why can't a referee or fourth official inside the stadium?

I understand not all decisions are clear-cut, and sometimes even after seeing the replay it can be controversial, but ultimately that shouldn't matter. If it's a decision that could go either way in a slow motion replay, surely it's equally difficult to call at the time, at normal speed. Those sorts of tough calls will remain tough calls, but at least they'll be made properly by the referee, and all the calls that referees get wrong when they are clearly incorrect will instead be gotten right.

These sorts of things balance out over the course of a league season, but for competitions like the World Cup they completely don't. Random luck from whether officials make the right call or not tends not to balance itself out over only three or four games, and it's unfair that teams are potentially knocked out of competitions because referees have gotten it wrong. I'll agree that England deserved to lose yesterday, as Germany were the better team. They could easily have scored three or four goals in the first half, but the point is that they didn't. If a team's players make mistakes and don't convert chances, then it's acceptable for the team to get knocked out, because that's how the sport works. But the officials should be neutral. They should have no impact on the game whatsoever, and are only there to enforce the rules of the game and get decisions right. They shouldn't be doing anything which could impact the true result, and yesterday they definitely did.

Look at tennis, rugby, cricket, American football, motorsport, pretty much every other major sport in the world has the option for technology and video refereeing to be used, because they've recognised that the technology is available, and it makes things fair. It's just using technology to assist officials in making the right decision when it's quite tough to call by eye. Should we get rid of all the timing systems in Formula One, and for qualifying just have a couple of guys sitting on the start line counting seconds for each car's qualifying time to decide who gets to be in pole position? No, because that's clearly retarded, but the principle is the same. Technology is cheap, it offers clear benefits and really there shouldn't even be a debate over whether it's used or not.

Speaking of Formula One, while football was embarrassing itself as a sport yesterday, a few hours previously Mark Webber was demonstrating just how impressive F1 is by emerging from a massive accident completely unscathed. It's a huge testament to the level of safety and technology in the sport that someone can crash like that, at that speed, and then a few seconds later just hop out the car with no significant injury whatsoever.

The resulting safety car period from the crash also made the rest of the race pretty exciting as well, because it mixed the field up a fair bit. It also caused a fair bit of anger from Ferrari as Lewis Hamilton got a drive-through penalty for overtaking the safety car. I can understand them being annoyed that it took so long for the stewards to issue the penalty, and also see Ferrari's argument that a drive-through penalty was not severe enough. Given that the penalty still didn't take Hamilton out of 2nd place, while Alonso ended up back in 9th for staying behind the safety car, I can see where they're coming from, but I still think the stewards made the correct decision. The fact is that Hamilton didn't cleanly just overtake the safety car, he was pretty much level with it when it came out the pit lane, and it was a pretty tight call to make from his perspective. The only reason he actually technically did overtake the safety car after the white line was because he hesitated and slowed down as he saw it emerge from the pit lane. If he'd just kept his foot down he'd have been clean in front of it by the time they crossed the white line.

If a car only gets a drive-through penalty when they blatantly just disregard the safety car and overtake it, then I think that's wrong, and they should be given a far harsher penalty or disqualification, but when the call is as tight as it was for Hamilton, with the safety car essentially coming out alongside him (and there being two cars, so it wasn't clear which one was actually the safety car), then a drive-through is acceptable. Yeah, he technically broke the rules, but it's fairly easy to see how he could have made the mistake. It hurt Alonso massively and didn't hurt Hamilton, but the safety car is always going to do that just because it all depends where you are on the lap when the accident happens, and when the safety car comes out. If the safety car had been maybe twenty meters further back, it would have been clearly behind Hamilton and still in front of Alonso and the outcome would have been the same.

Sunday, 27 June 2010

UK Riichi Mahjong Open 2010

So I got back this afternoon (just in time for the dismal England v Germany match) from London and the UK Riichi Mahjong Open. Out of the field of 48 people for the tournament, I placed 14th, which I'm fairly happy about. The Cambridge University Riichi Mahjong Society actually had some pretty awesome success, with members taking 2nd and 3rd place, and five out of the seven of us finishing in the top half of the field.

I'm not really sure what to make of the result. On one hand it's nice to do well and have something of an ego boost (even though the short tournament format meant luck played a reasonable part), but at the same time the general consensus from the Cambridge guys was that the average skill level at the tournament was pretty low. I don't mean that as a negative to the people involved or the tournament, because everyone I spoke to was nice, and the tournament was good fun, but aside from a few players there who genuinely seemed pretty good, the majority of the field was at a fairly low standard. It didn't stop the tournament from being enjoyable, but it wasn't what I was expecting, and I'd say in some ways I could have enjoyed it more if I'd gotten slaughtered by playing people way above my level.

The basic thing that stood out was that a lot of people just seemed to ignore most of the strategic aspects of the game. There were a few players who knew what they were doing when it came to defending, and would discard sensibly, but a lot of people just seemed to continually be chasing any sort of hand that they could win out on. Most of the hand values were pretty low because people seemed happy to settle for poor, single-yaku hands instead of going for anything big, and defensive play especially just seemed to be non-existent. There was no need to go for clever waits after declaring Riichi because a lot of people just seemed to completely ignore any notion of not dealing in, and instead pursue getting their low-value hand out instead. It's actually quite hard to play when you've got some people floating around who are extremely good, and others which will deal into the most obvious and dangerous of hands because they don't really consider the idea of throwing a hand to avoid dealing into someone (which we all were like at one stage, or at least I definitely was).

Like I said, none of this applies to the tournament, which was extremely well run, both in terms of the sets and the food and drink provided, and everyone was fine. They just weren't that awesome at mahjong, or at least weren't as good as I was expecting people to be. I was expecting to get blown away, so it was quite a contrast to have people who seem to struggle with things like scoring up hands and any of the more intricate rules (though not helped I imagine by the fact that when playing online the computer tends to do it all for you). Though I guess for those people I just hope they keep playing and actually start to improve and develop some strategy, because that's what the sport needs. It's hard to fault people for essentially being beginners at the game, and I was expecting a few there, just not so many. And I guess I'd rather have a strong showing for the tournament than only a dozen people turning up. If anyone reading this was at the open and isn't particularly fantastic at MJ because they're just starting out, then keep playing, keep practising and I'll hopefully see you next year. And I recommend playing on Tenhou rather than other online games, because it's the best browser-based free one I've come across in terms of skill level. Sure, it's all in Japanese, but there is a fantastic English guide for it.

Really, on the flip side I can say that it just makes me more proud of the Cambridge society. I think that we'd all agree unanimously that the average standard of skill that we have on Friday evenings at the society meetings is far higher than the average yesterday, so I'm thankful that I have the ability to play with people like that on a regular basis (something that most people there probably don't have). It's also quite impressive given that a lot of people at the society didn't know how to play when we set it up last October (ie. less than a year ago), so the fact that we've progressed so far so quickly, and are already extremely strong, at least for the standard in England, is really good. It'll also be awesome to hopefully have the 2nd and 3rd place trophies from the Open on our stall for the Freshers' Fair next October.

Having said all of this, far from everyone at Guildford yesterday was poor. The few British guys who set the thing up and are also founding the UK Mahjong Association right now were good, as were a lot of the Dutch and the rest who had come from mainland Europe. There was also the president of the Korean Mahjong League there, who was a really nice guy, but a scary player. Even from his hand movements with the tiles it was fairly obvious he was fucking good (sort of the equivalent to experienced card/poker players doing little sleight of hand things with the cards/chips). I was lucky enough to play him in my second game, and was also lucky enough to win against him as well, which was a pretty nice thing to come away from the day with.

I say most of the stuff in this entry probably sounding somewhat big-headed and arrogant, but I know that I'm still not that amazing at Riichi Mahjong, and as a group the society isn't that amazing either. The majority of the people topping the European rankings weren't there at the tournament (or at least weren't as far as I can tell), and the most were just people who are relative beginners or clearly don't take the skill aspects of the game that seriously. Plus there's the fact that I'll watch videos of the Japanese pro matches on YouTube, and their skill at reading the game seems to go into a realm that I literally can't comprehend, because I watch those videos completely not having a clue at how they make all the amazing decisions they do without being able to see their opponents' tiles.

My only other point for the tournament would simply be that I don't like some of the EMA specific rules, or the seeming reliance on score tables which, in my opinion, are set out incorrectly (as in they ignore the two extra han for going out which actually give sense to how the scores are calculated). I think a fair amount of that can simply be attributed to "We play our way so think our way is the best way" from the society though. Except for how seating/dealership is decided. CURMS uses a simple method of just taking one of each wind tile, shuffling them around face down, and then everyone picks their wind and therefore seat for the first round, with East starting as dealer. Instead, yesterday they used some crazy system with the four wind tiles and an odd and even tile and a dice roll and only the Dutch players seemed to properly understand how it worked. Then there was a temporary East and then another dice roll to decide actual East, and it all seemed horribly complicated for what it was actually doing, and I don't get why they don't just do it the simple way.
The CURMS has basically just modelled it's mahjong rules on Saki, which is at least something of a valid reference. Saki is the framework, and then Tenhou fills in gaps that are left by the anime (except for a few society specific things we've decided on for fringe cases). The EMA however seems to have made it's own flavour of what is a game already hugely overcomplicated by various different rule sets. The EMA ruleset isn't something I've seen as a specific ruleset on any Japanese mahjong game, and seems to be a weird combination of various different ones (it's Nashi + red tiles + other tweaks) which, in my opinion, could be streamlined and adjusted to be made a bit better.

It's made me fairly excited for the society in Cambridge next year. Partly from the perspective of wanting to attract more members so we can have an even larger showing when, hopefully, there is a 2011 Open, which I will look forward to immensely. I'm also excited because this tournament has showed that the games at the society are to a pretty high standard, and therefore there's actual meaning in the results and the long-term rankings of the society. We are, probably by a good margin, not the best players in Europe, but we're certainly up there as a pretty strong group. It'd be nice to think that some of the people who were there yesterday as beginners will keep up the game, keep improving and picking up strategy, and that when Riichi Mahjong is a bit more established and people are more experience next year, it'll be a far stronger field and more what I was expecting this year.

PS. For anyone who has examined the CURMS leaderboards, I'm at/near the bottom not because I suck, but because I had a few experimental weeks and have played like a complete retard at certain points in the year, which have shoved me right down. It's quite hard to gain points for the leaderboard, but it's fairly easy to lose substantial amounts in a very short amount of time. I'm actually not that bad. Honest. No, really :(

Thursday, 24 June 2010

London Calling

Setting off tomorrow for the UK Riichi Mahjong Open, which is in Guildford on Saturday. It starts pretty early and finished fairly late too, so I'm having to travel to London on Friday and come back on Sunday (hopefully in time for England v Germany). Heck, the fact that registration starts at 8:30am means I'm going to have to be up at like 6:30 on Saturday just to get there in time from London.

I'm really excited, but I'm also expecting to get pretty solidly beaten. I'm expecting some really good players to be there, and I'll probably spend the entire day playing pretty defensively. They've announced the list of players, and there's quite a lot of people coming from the Netherlands to play too. Which seems like quite a long way, but Amsterdam isn't much further from Guildford than Ormskirk is, and given the prices of trains and flights, it's probably a similar price for the journey as well. It should at least be a good experience, and if I do well then it'll just be a huge bonus on top.

I'll also probably make an effort to check out Casino Leisure while I'm in London, and see if they've got anything new since I went last summer.

I went back to school on Wednesday to help out and chat to some Lower VI kids for a UCAS and careers evening thing, and to tell them all to do Engineering. I got asked a fair amount of Oxbridge-related questions as well.
Because the trains to Crosby from Ormskirk are really awkward, I decided to cycle because door to door it takes about half of the time it'd take to get the train or bus. I have to say, I miss the cycle paths and stuff in Cambridge, because it was something of a nightmare journey to cycle. Northway is not at all fun to go down on a bike, and it's a pretty stressful journey past the first mile or two where it's actually got a cycle path. I went down early so I could watch the England match at a pub in Crosby, and also so I'd miss the rush hour traffic (and I'm glad I did).

And England won! And they deserved to as well. It could easily have been a more convincing win than it was, and really it should have been, because we've got a much harder route to the final now than we would have done if we'd topped the group.Germany will be quite a tough game, and I reckon they'll need to step up the game yet again to win. Yesterday was also proof that England should play in red all the time, and that the BBC should cover all the matches instead of ITV (I swear England and Liverpool never fucking win when the match is on ITV...). There's also some tennis, but aside from the longest grand slam match in history nobody really gives a shit because most of the focus is still on the world cup. I also only realised today there's a grand prix this weekend on top of everything else as well.

As a final thing of note, Counter-Strike: Source is currently on offer with 66% off on steam, making it cheap as hell for the next couple of days. They've also had a pretty massive overhaul of the game interfaces, and have added in a ton of statistic recording stuff and achievements. I knew an update was coming, but I wasn't expecting it to be quite so big and noticeable. It doesn't make a huge difference to the gameplay, but it is pretty slick, and I'm generally a massive sucker for statistics and the like.

So I won't be online much from tonight until Sunday afternoon. I'll take my laptop with me to London, but I'm not sure how much internet access I'm going to have, if any.

Tuesday, 22 June 2010

Frostii Releases Update - 22/06/10

Most people can probably ignore this blog post. In fact, anyone who isn't currently waiting on a Frostii release can definitely ignore this post.

Frostii are still suffering with the after-effects of a season or two ago, when we took on way more projects than we could handle, and put faith in people who apparently have no problem just disappearing without trace when they get bored. As a result things imploded somewhat and everything has ended up massively slow and releases are really behind. Which is frustrating as hell from my point of view, because I don't particularly like to be attached to slow releases (though I like the idea of dropping projects even less), and also frustrating to the people who follow the shows, because they have no idea when the next episode will come, if at all. So this post is something of an ITK report of where stalled shows (that I'm working on and thus know stuff about) are up to and when new episodes are likely to come out. So people can stop bugging me, the group and presumably other members of staff on when we're likely to see new episodes.

Kimi ni Todoke - Episodes 12 and 13 are currently at late-stage release candidates, so should really be out in the next few days. From then things should hopefully be a little less erratic and future episodes shouldn't take so long.

K-On!! - Releases have been pretty timely so far, but they're probably going to be a bit slow over the next couple of weeks because our encoder and translator for the project are both going to be away at various points in time.

Eden of the East Movie I: King of Eden - This is going to take a while. It's currently stalled massively at typesetting, and with the amount of work to do, and the fact that the people working on it are prioritising other things first, I can't see this being released for a good three or four weeks yet, if that.

Durarara!! - Same as Kimi ni Todoke. We've got two episodes (12 and 13) now at release candidate stage, and they should both be out before the end of the week. Episode 14 is at editing, and hopefully shouldn't take a huge amount longer either. This has been delayed for so long because of a faff swapping translator and typesetter, which then took a while to sort out, and there was also a huge delay for the karaoke of the new opening, because the guy doing it had his finals when we needed it done, so we had to wait for it. There's no reason why the releases for this show can't start coming out reasonably fluidly now.

Miyamoto Musashi - Souken ni Haseru Yume - This is going to be ages away. It's stalled at typesetting, which hasn't even started yet. There's an absolute ton of signs to typeset, and it's not even been allocated who is doing what yet. Can't see it being done before August, but it's not that amazing a film/documentary anyway.

Omamori Himari - Dropped. Not a fantastic series, but I quite liked it, and I'm fairly disappointed it dropped. Translator completely disappeared, and nobody else in the group has put themselves forward to do it.

Ookami Kakushi - Stalled indefinitely at translation. Again, the original translator gave up on the series and stopped doing it, and Sylf has stepped in to translate it. Given he's also doing Durarara and K-On and this show is complete shite, no surprise that it's got fairly low priority. I wouldn't expect episodes to be coming any time soon, probably not until Drrr and/or K-On are finished.

Daa! Daa! Daa! - Doubt anyone particularly cares about this coming out soon, given it's a resumed project that died years ago. Things are slow, but at least seem to be moving, so new episodes should probably end up coming every couple of weeks. It's going slow, but I wouldn't say it was necessarily stalled anywhere.

Rainbow - Stalled at typesetting, because the next episode has a ton of signs and the typesetter is slow/lazy/can only work on weekends. Next episode should hopefully be out, if not this week, then at least next week.

Mahou Tsukai ni Taisetsu na Koto ~Natsu no Sora~ - I'd be hugely surprised if anyone actually still cared about this series. It's not dropped, but it's basically stalled at a point of finding people who are actually willing to bother to do stuff. The main issue with it is that nobody is assigned to do the stuff that needs doing, so nobody has bothered doing it, and nobody has taken the initiative and assigned it to someone either.

Black Rock Shooter - Not released yet, and won't be for another month, so excusable that it's stalled :)

Boku, Otaryman - Is getting done. Got stalled for absolutely ages for a bit, but recently people have been doing stuff. Fingers crossed it'll actually be released fairly soon, because it's mostly done and just needs some minor fixes, so it's really just depending on how long it takes for the fixes to get done.

So yeah, a projects lowdown, because this sort of thing isn't ever going to get posted on the Frostii site, hopefully a few people will find this useful to decide whether to wait for releases or go for someone else.

Monday, 21 June 2010

The World Cup

Given my fairly strong love for football, and the fact that the World Cup is probably the biggest sporting event in the world after the Olympics, it's maybe a bit odd that it's taken me so long to make a post commenting on it.

The reason for this is that I mostly don't care. I'm not a huge fan of international football, and never really have been. I support England, but I don't really care if they do well, and I'd take Liverpool winning a Premiership title or Champions League over England winning a World Cup. It's not so much a fact that I'm unpatriotic, more that I just don't really have the same level of devotion and passion towards England, and there's not much I can really do about that.

Some slightly more cynical people might think that I'm just saying I don't care because England are doing awfully in the tournament right now, but people who have ever spoken to me about this before will know I'm not lying when I say I've always cared very little about international football compared to domestic games. International friendlies during the Premiership season piss me off, because I find that the football I enjoy is replaced with sub-standard rubbish instead.

I think the World Cup so far does a fairly decent job of highlighting just how poor international football can be. You've got all these world class players and some fantastic talent, and they're all giving games that are distinctly average in quality. You have Spain losing to the likes of Switzerland, just because there's not enough organisation and creativity in the team as a whole to break down teams throwing ten men behind the ball.

Same goes for England really. There's no point blaming individual players for poor performances, because it's not about that. The fact is that you can take the best 11 players in the world and stick them in a side, but unless they're working as a unit on the pitch they're not going to win anything. You need the players to understand each other, and to all be pulling in the same direction, or you're not going to get anywhere. Being able to hook up a 50-yard pass is meaningless if the player on the other end isn't going to run into the space you're expecting them to.

The World Cup so far has just been a fairly boring, sub-standard affair. It'll probably pick up in the latter stages, when teams are more experienced playing together, and also when you've started to remove all the crappy teams who are perfectly happy to step up stall defending in front of their own goal, to make a thoroughly boring spectacle in the hope that they can nick a win. I see the merits of just sitting everyone behind the ball, because it's a tactic that can win or draw games against opponents you'd expect to lose heavily to, but it doesn't make for the most exciting matches by a long way.

The other downside of the World Cup is having to put up with people who, for a couple of months every four years develop a ridiculous interest in football, when for the rest of the time they utterly don't care. I'm perfectly happy for the World Cup to infect people with a love of football, but it's still annoying to have to come into contact with people who feel they should make comments on games when they really have no fucking clue what they're talking about, or people clearly feigning an interest in the sport because they feel they should. The sort of people who will give the response "England, of course!" when asked which club they support...

Despite my dislike for international football, I am still watching most of the games (thanks to the excellent online coverage by the BBC). After all, there are plenty of Liverpool players in the tournament, and really I just spend most of my time wanting them to do well. Even with England, I'll be happier with the scoreline if Gerrard (or even Crouch) has scored, because club-level football is my true love. I do still care about England, and I'd love it if they won it, but frankly I can't see it happening. We'll be lucky to get through to the next round, and unless we're going to have a massive improvement we'll probably go out to whoever we face in the second round. Same old, same old for England really. Despite losing in the first game, my money is on Spain, just because despite losing that game, they looked like a team that would tear apart any side which wasn't defending to the hilt.

But we'll see. As shit as the tournament has been so far, it can only really get better right? Even if it doesn't, at least we can all laugh at the French for their ridiculous implosion off the pitch. We can lose horribly in our final game, but we'll still have fared better than the frogs, which is what really counts.

Saturday, 19 June 2010


Back home from Cambridge now. Back in the land of relative boredom and crappy internet. On the plus side I can now burn through the huge backlog of TV and anime that I've currently got. And I'll make some decent blog posts as well, because I've not really had any insightful ones in a while because I've been to busy to write one that actually takes time to write. It's nice that I've not really got any work to do for a while, except for maybe some mahjong training for the UK Open on Saturday, but that doesn't really count as work.

Speaking of work though, it'd be nice to get my work placement for this summer sorted. The HR department at Nuvia is, to put it mildly, fucking slow as all hell, and the fact that I'm aiming to start my placement in just over two weeks, and that I've still heard fucking nothing from them with respect to when it's going to start, wages, anything beyond "yeah we can give you a placement" is unsettling. That said, if I don't get a placement there, as long as they tell me in the next week or two so I can actually get around to finding something else, I won't be too fussed because it's not really my idea of fun to have to drive to Warrington and back every day.

Exam results don't come out until Wednesday, so yet again I've not been able to see them at the Senate House, which I'm mildly irritated about. I've got no clue as to how I've really done, past having not done terribly. It all depends on the sort of percentages everyone else got on the exams. We shall see.

May Week was awesome, I had really good fun, and I think I had a decent mixture of relaxing and getting lashed. Didn't go to any balls, but Pembroke June Event was pretty good, and I reckon I more than got my money's worth.

Weather is nice, surprisingly a lot better up in t' North than it has been in Cambridge, might go out cycling or something tomorrow.

Also, it's a bit old now but a news article about a boy throwing a puppy at a biker gang and escaping in a stolen bulldozer.

Saturday, 12 June 2010

Bitter Sweet Symphony

Today didn't go so great in the bumps, but at the same time, it didn't feel so bad either. Yesterday hurt. Yesterday hurt a lot. I was in a generally shit and mopey mood all evening, and I didn't sleep to well either. Having expected good things to happen, then for them to not happen and for things to go tits up was not pleasant. Being bumped in the racing hurt all the more for thinking of what could have been.

Today though, it didn't hurt nearly as bad. I'm placated, because I'd already seen it coming. Losing doesn't hurt nearly as bad when you're expecting to lose as it does when you're expecting to win. I figured we'd probably get bumped today, and that was mostly the reason I was so pissed of yesterday, because we'd missed out on going +1 to most likely go -2. And now we are -2, and it doesn't feel so bad. We knew Newnham II were much faster than we were, we gave our all trying to smash Clare before Newnham bore down on us and took us out, and our all wasn't enough. But we tried, and I feel happy with that. It's bumps, shit happens, and even though we had a bad day yesterday, we really can't be that disappointed with going down two places considering where we are.

Tomorrow we need a solid day. The Corpus crew behind us don't seem that quick, and I think we should have a fairly comfortable row-over. What's made things slightly more interesting is that the slow-ish Fitz crew in front of us yesterday also somehow managed to hold off Clare today. Newnham should rape Clare in a similar manner to that which they did to us today, meaning that we've basically got clear water behind us and the prospect of an overbump, ie. a win-win situation. We either row over or we get something really special, depending on whether anything crazy happens. The fact is that Fitz had a tough row yesterday to hold us off, and presumably a tough row today to see off Clare as well. They've proved they can be resolute and hold off crews, but they've also had a hard week, which makes mistakes tomorrow all the more likely, and we've just got to lie in wait and hope we can take advantage of anything that happens.

If Corpus bump us tomorrow I'll be pissed, because really it shouldn't happen, but at least it's impossible for anyone to overbump us given that there's only two boats behind us. If the sandwich boat take out Corpus then we'll literally have nobody behind us, and we can just go all guns blazing for Fitz. If we hit them, then it'll be an amazing result. If we don't, then it's no real problem because we've got absolutely nothing to hit us.

Of course, no matter what happens tomorrow, there'll always be the dinner to look forward to. Not sure how the fuck I'm going to survive the Mays dinner and be fit for Crescents at 9am on Sunday, but I'll cross that bridge when I come to it.

Thursday, 10 June 2010

You Can't Always Get What You Want

A fairly melancholic blog entry this evening, but then I'm in a fairly melancholic mood, so I guess it's fitting.

WII had a really good result yesterday. We were hoping for a row-over, we got a row-over, and almost got more, so it felt good. We worked hard, we got what we felt we deserved, we had an excellent crew meal afterwards. It felt a bit weird being in a restaurant with a harem of nine girls and me, but it was still an enjoyable meal and an enjoyable night out.

Today though, the feeling is just pure disappointment. We felt we could get a bump today, we got so fucking close, to within inches at one point, then we died and got hit instead. Fair play to Fitz, they held us off well. We maybe would have hit them in Grassy if we'd not caught a fairly severe crab (which was quickly recovered), and they held us off for pretty much the entirety of the Plough Reach at what at least felt like less than a quarter-length. Then our push faded and we ran out of steam, and Clare WII hit us a couple of hundred meters or so from the finish.

What's probably somewhat more annoying than missing out on the bump to get hit instead is that it now sticks us back in a really shitty position tomorrow. Newnham WII are behind us and they are quick. I don't know how quickly they bumped today, but they're currently up two having bumped up a division yesterday, and their Champs' Head time is pretty rapid too, so I'm not keen having them behind us. It's still bumps, and anything could still happen, but I definitely wouldn't rule out being hit tomorrow as well, which would just rub salt into the wound from the near miss today.

A possible redeeming opportunity is that Clare WII don't seem to be that quick from the start. They hit us today, but that's just because they've got more stamina, not because they're quicker. If we end up getting close to them in the first third of the race then it's not entirely unlikely that we could hit them back. If we can gain on them early on, perhaps rattle them and maybe get a better push for the bump than we did today, then we could hit them and their superior stamina wouldn't really count for anything.

So that's the focus tomorrow. Primarily we need to make sure that we hold off Newnham II at all costs, and maybe see how things pan out in front of us for the possibility of hitting someone. If we can hold off Newnham tomorrow and row over, then hopefully Clare will give us a shot at hitting Fitz again, and we can break even for the week.

Today was disappointing, we've just got to pick ourselves back up and make sure we stay focused and give a good race tomorrow to keep ourselves back on track. Hitting Clare would be sweet, and my parents will be down to watch tomorrow, so I'll have that extra bit of desire to do well. To go back to the post title, you can't always get what you want, but if you try sometimes, you might find, you get what you need. And we need a good performance tomorrow.

And also hoping for a good performance tomorrow from all the other Downing crews. I'll be supporting from the bank once I'm out of the boat.

Feroces ad Mortum

Wednesday, 9 June 2010

Holy Crap It's Bumps

Been neglecting this a little lately. Go figure when I have exams and I'm busy as hell I can find the time, and the moment I'm completely free I can't. Though to be fair I have been outside and away from my computer for the majority of the time, compared to sat in front of it doing revision.

Anyway, bumps starts today, and I'm a mixture of immensely excited and immensely nervous. I'm really not sure how things are going to pan out for the rest of the week for WII. We're not a slow crew, but we're fairly high up the charts, and we're especially unlucky to be sat behind Murray Edwards WI, who would appear to be the fastest crew in the division by a huge margin if Champs Head results are anything to go by (and they are). Clare WII are behind us, and were marginally faster than us at Champs Head, but the gap is small enough to say that we could hold them off. It's also possible that Corpus Christi WI behind them will hit them, and that we'll get mostly clear water behind us.

I think the most realistic hope would be to row over on the first day, and then hopefully bump one or two of the crews that Murray Edwards send down. I wouldn't be too bothered if we dropped a couple of places, because we are fairly high up in the standings, but obviously I'd much rather we either held station or went up a couple. It's fairly hard to predict in the long run because most of the crews around us haven't raced in any of the head races this term, so it's pretty much down to guessing for how quick they're going to be. Fingers crossed things go well, and that I at least don't make any sizeable fuck-ups.

For people following bumps, here are links to the men's and women's starting order and results.

For people rowing, the traditional motivation:

Thursday, 3 June 2010

Liverpool FC - The Beginning of the End?

So I finish my revision for the evening and browse the BBC Sport webpages, and I'm met with what I would say is some of the worst news I've had for a while - the news that Rafa has supposedly been offered a severance deal to leave Anfield.

 I know there are Liverpool fans who will welcome this news. Fans who don't think Rafa has the capabilities to keep the team going, and that we'll never get into the Champions League again with him in charge. Personally though, I think anyone who reckons that this story is good news is a fucking retard. For one, the only other person I would say was even worth considering as a manager, Jose Mourinho, has now gone to Real Madrid, and I think it's pretty unlikely he's going to back out of that position before he's even seen one game, just to come to Liverpool.

There are going to be dozens of fucking part-time supporters who want Rafa out who will see this as good news, because they're totally not looking at the total picture. We get rid of Rafa, fine, but who the fuck do we bring in to replace him? Who exactly is out there who could replace him? And, more importantly, why the hell would they? There are plenty of world-class managers out there who would be interested in the job, but I can't think of any who would actually take it on given the circumstances. What the hell does the club actually have to entice a new manager into the role? They'd have next to no transfer funds, they'd have the utter shambles that is the current ownership to contend with, they'd have the uncertainty over the financial security and future owners of the club, and they wouldn't have Champions League football for at least another season. They'd have to be batshit fucking insane to take up the position.

Heck, any new manager would have their hands full just trying to keep the quality in the current side from not rushing out the door. If Benitez leaves, what is there really to keep the likes of Gerrard and Torres at Anfield? Why would they stay? Why would they bother getting used to a new manager, not playing in the Champions League next season, going through another 'transitional period' of a few seasons before we're really challenging for any trophies. Why would they want to go through all that when there's clubs like Barcelona and Inter Milan jumping through hoops to try and sign them? If Benitez leaves, it's fairly likely that Inter Milan will take him, and I'd bet a large sum of money that the likes of Torres, Gerrard and maybe even Reina would follow him straight there. To be honest, they'd be crazy not to, and the only thing stopping them would be love and loyalty to the club. Given the choice between a team that finished 7th in the Premiership last season with constant turmoil off the pitch, and a club that won both Serie A and the Champions League... it's not hard to see which one is more attractive.

The only real hope I have is that this story isn't true or that, despite this massive vote of no-confidence, Benitez for some crazy reason stays anyway. Because despite what the retards who claim to follow the club might say about this, if he leaves then we're fucked. We'll lose our manager, our best players, any hope of winning anything next season or qualifying for the Champions League. I really can't see anyone particularly good being brought in to be the new manager (except for some risky loyalty card calls - Gerrard or Dalglish?), nor can I see them working miracles to keep the players we have and improve the squad with no money. Right now things seem to be pretty close to the brink of Liverpool becoming the new Leeds United, and if miracles don't somehow happen this summer then I really think this could be the start of a huge downward spiral. 

So thanks to any asshole who thinks that Benitez should go and we'd be better off without him. He won us the Champions League and the FA Cup, he brought us within a handful of points of winning the Premiership, and you guys were too fucking fickle to give him just a single bit of respite when things didn't quite go to plan. If Benitez leaves and his decision is in any way influenced by you so-called "fans" who only exist to glory-hunt and express their retarded self-inflated egos on phone-ins and comments on internet articles, then I offer a big fat sarcastic fucking thanks to all of you. And thanks also to George Gillett and Tom Hicks for taking a club which had just won the Champions League and fucking things up so damn hard that I wouldn't be surprised if we ended up in the Championship in a couple of year's time.

Above all, whether Rafa stays or goes, if this is true it's a massive sign that Hicks and Gillett and the board really don't have a fucking clue what's best for the club and seriously need to go. I've not been that much of a hater of G&H, but there's only really so long I can keep the thought that maybe their intentions at least are in the right place, and that time has long gone. They need to go ASAP. I'm not a huge fan of the Spirit of Shankly group for various reasons, but there's a protest at 6pm tomorrow, and I suggest people go. Obviously I can't given I'm a couple of hundred miles away and have exams, but it's sort of getting to the point now where fuck-ups by those in charge of the club are looking like they might seriously ruin things for a long time. The club might not legally belong to the fans, but that doesn't mean they can't have a say.

In some ways I'd take a few years of utmost mediocrity and failure for the club just to clear out a few of the fair-weather supporters and take the club back to the core a bit more. Lower ticket prices wouldn't be a bad thing either. Carragher was right when he said that Liverpool will still be Liverpool regardless of whether players stay at the club or not, but the fact still remains that the club and the fans want trophies, and that none of this is in any way helping that cause.

Tuesday, 1 June 2010

Day 2: Half-Time

So yeah, yesterday was somewhat disastrous, but I think today made up for it. Particularly this morning. I was knackered when I went to bed yesterday, but I went to bed around 10:30pm, fell asleep not too long later and then got a good nine hours or so of solid sleep until I had to get up for the exam.

Paper 3, Materials, went well. There were a few tricksy aspects on the paper, but there were a couple of questions I felt pretty comfortable with and reckon I mostly nailed. Going back through the paper I reckon I got around 75%, so hopefully enough to make up somewhat for yesterday and put me back in a comfort zone.

Paper 4 was Thermofluid Mechanics, which I'd always had down as one of the weaker papers. I wasn't expecting to get a particularly good mark and basically went into it with the mentality of trying to claw as many marks as I could out of the questions. Going back through I reckon I got about 58%, so better than Mechanics. Not great, but also not horrific either, and the exam could definitely have gone a lot worse.

Tomorrow I only have an exam in the afternoon, which means I get a bit more sleep and a bit more prep time for it. I'll probably relax and try and enjoy myself for another hour or so this evening and then get some revision done for tomorrow. Paper 5 isn't one of my best, but aside from the first section I'm hoping it'll go pretty well. A lot of the questions seem fairly straightforward in the past papers and unless they set a really awkward paper I think I'll do fine. Paper 6 on Thursday is really the only exam left that I'm expecting to go fairly poorly, so fingers crossed the rest of the week will go smoothly and I can be confident of a decent result.

As random shit to put in my blog, I was linked to this video earlier in the week by Goodchild, and it's pretty cool: