12 01 2010

Well. It’s the new year. New month. New decade. Call it what you want, it’s new. If you’ve been following this blog for a while, you may have noticed that I missed quite a few things on my list of things that I wanted to do back in 2009. I did, however, manage to achieve more things than I didn’t manage, so I’m going to spin it as a victory.

Needless to say (but I’m going to say it anyway), the list carries over to 2010, and I feel sure that this time I am going to finish it. Hey, I mean, I have already ticked off one more thing already, which I’ll get to telling you in a bit.

The list then, as it stands now:

  • Paintballing (with friends)
  • Go-Karting
  • How I Met Your Mother marathon (All episodes back to back)
  • Fishing
  • Camping
  • Random tour of the country
  • Snowboarding

And then, here are a few new things that have been added to the list:

  • The Big Bang Theory marathon (All episodes back to back)
  • Swim in a natural pool, preferably with a waterfall.
  • Karaoke again
  • See an international band
  • McDonalds tour (Visit every McDonalds (at least 10) in my area and order something from each of them)
  • See a movie at IMax
  • Watch a comedy show
  • Bungee jumping
  • Rock climbing
  • Scuba diving
  • Sky diving
  • Driving range
  • Firing range

Ok I know there are a few duplicates on this list. But they were so awesome that I wanted to do them again.

With that, onto the post about karaoke!

So we were on holiday down in Ramsgate, and one night I decided that we were going to go sing karaoke. By we I mean myself and my GF, her friend from uni and her sister, and a whole bunch of randoms that the friend had invited. Was a really fun holiday all in all, but too short for my liking and too many randoms I didn’t know that well.

So everybody got really drunk in preparation for karaoke, which is something you need to do apparently (although me and my GF didn’t have anything all afternoon or evening). We then missioned off to a place called Friendz, where they have Karaoke with Henk and Felicity on a Saturday between 9 and midnight. Random place and very Afrikaans, but otherwise decent.

So we get in there, get a table, even though it was pretty full, for 12 people. We then looked through the karaoke menu, and after a few nervous discussions, most of us put our song choices down. Some people wussed out and didn’t sing anything all night though, which was lame.

First of our group to go up with my GF, who had volunteered to sing Barbie Girl by Aqua. Not remembering that there was a male part to the song, the host had to step in and join the song, but I quickly stepped in and took the mic from him halfway through the song. I know how daunting it can be to sing in front of people for the first time, and wanted to show support. Big props though for getting up there first, on your first time.

A few more randoms went and sang some random songs (not half-bad though I might add), but then it was my turn. I got up and totally rocked out to You Give Love A Bad Name by Bon Jovi. It was awesome and everybody was really supportive and awesome. A bit later in the night, I signed up for Sweet Child o’ Mine by Guns ‘n’ Roses and totally rocked that too.

Later in the night, a few of our group sang some songs too. The classic I Will Survive and a few others I can’t remember.ย  My GF also got up and sang Hit Me Baby, One More Time, which was supposed to be with her uni friend, but she had gone home quickly to drop off people who faded way early.

All in all it was a really awesome time, and aside from the crazy aggressive creeps, who stood on the “dancefloor” perving the female singers, it was really fun. I’ll definitely want to go again sometime. Now I just need to find a place that offers it on weekends here in Joburg.


Guitar Hero Domination

7 11 2009

Yet another thing crossed off my list of things to do in 2009!

Yes that’s right, I have competed in a competitive gaming event. And totally dominated it I might add.

The event: Guitar Hero 5
The place: Sandton Convention Center at the Audio-Video and Appliance Expo 2009
The date: 30 October – 1 November 2009

I wrote my first exam on Friday 30 October, and decided that I needed something to do afterwards for fun. Destress and all that kind of stuff. So I organised to go with George to the Audio-Video and Appliance Expo (AVA). I was intending to go anyway sometime that weekend, just for the Guitar Hero 5 stand that was going to be there.

So we went through to Sandton, which I’ve never been to before, and parked in the Sandton City parking lot. We walked across to the Sandton Convention Center, (which is huge btw) and wondered through the expo for a while. It was rather specialised, so we weren’t that interested in all the stuff; and we ended up at the Guitar Hero booth.

The way the competition worked was that anybody could come by and play the game on Thursday, Friday and Saturday, and the top 8 scores would be called back to play competitively on Sunday. I picked up a random song and played it, and I got a fairly decent score on Expert. I only missed 1 note I think. There was this other guy on Friday as well at the same time as me, I’ll call him Brown Shirt.

Brown Shirt played a random song, and then, not being happy with his score, went back and picked another song to play, in order to get a higher score. The song he picked was a 16 minute long monster by Peter Frampton (Live), so obviously he was going to get a high score. Cheater. But anyway, I played and was reasonably confident about my score.

Saturday night I got a call from the guy, telling me to come back on Sunday to play. I thought cool and we (me and my ever-supportive and enthusiastic GF) went through to the expo for the competition.

Now, this was the top eight of the expo, so it wasn’t just a bunch of randoms. Well that’s what I thought anyway. My first round, which was the third match of the first round of the competition, was against a Medium player, who got through on his score. Usually the difficulty is fixed in these competitions, and so I was a little anxious that there was a Medium in the competition. Indeed, while we were playing I noticed that discrepancy in the scoring system. We had both hit all the notes given to us and he had more score than me! (For those who don’t know, Medium is much slower, has much less notes and only uses four of the five fret buttons on the controller).

The two songs we (and everyone else in the first round) played were Sultans of Swing by Dire Straights and Sympathy for the Devil by The Rolling Stones. Not too hard, but its always nerve-wracking playing songs you’ve never played before in front of a crowd. I eventually prevailed over him, winning both songs by a comfortable margin. There was no need for a third song tie-breaker.

Round two I played Mr. Bye, who skated straight into the semi-finals by virtue of his designated opponent not being able to make it to the tournament. However, he really wasn’t up for playing with the big boys, and I totally outclassed him on our Semi-Final songs: Sweating Bullets by Megadeth and No One To Depend On by Carlos Santana. The other Semi-Final, between Brown Shirt and Surfer Guy (so named because he had bleached blond hair like a surfer), was tied after these two songs, and therefore they played 2 Minutes to Midnight by Iron Maiden as the tie-breaker, which Surfer Guy won.

This left the final between me and Surfer Guy, and the 3rd place play-off between Mr. Bye and Brown Shirt.

For the final, they switched it up and surprised everybody by putting in the Guitar Hero: World Tour disc. The two songs they chose were basically the hardest available on that game: Hot for Teacher by Van Halen and Scream, Aim, Fire by Bullet For My Valentine. Intense solos on both songs, and lots of hard, fast notes to strum.

Ultimately, however, I prevailed, bringing it back from some shocking openings on both songs. Once more, there was no need for a third song, as I had won two of three, but we would have had to play Satch Boogie by Joe Satriani, arguably the hardest song in World Tour.

The final standings of the tournament, as well as the prizes the top three received:

1st – Michael – A Band Hero super bundle, consisting of a set of the “new and improved” drums, a new guitar, microphone and of course Band Hero (R2,340).

2nd – Surfer Guy – DJ Hero plus turntable controller (R987).

3rd – Brown Shirt – Guitar Hero 5 and Guitar bundle (R987).

So yes. I totally dominated the competition and walked away with a rather valuable prize. Here’s the tournament progression for those who are interested, skilfully made from scratch and memory in MS-Paint.

Tournament Progression

The Guitar Hero Tournament Progression

Far too long

29 09 2009

It’s been over a month since my last blog post. I have no idea why that is … but I would take a guess by saying that I have nothing important to say? Or maybe I do, but I can’t conceptualise them into words needed for a post. Or …

Anyway, today I procrastinated so badly. I have a 2,500 word research report due by midnight tomorrow, and I only carried on with this evening. Like after I had coffee at 8 or so. Luckily, I had gotten about 1,518 words done before the long weekend started, so it’s not really in crisis mode just yet.

Tonight I managed to knock out another 1,000 words or so. So I am actually over the word limit already, even if I have not yet finished the assignment. I actually had to remove a sub-heading that I was planning on doing, because I could see that I was going over the word limit.

But enough boring assignment talk. Let’s go over the long weekend. International readers (hahahah yeah right), we had Heritage Day on Thursday 24th September, and most places decided that Friday would be wasteful and not productive (well, universities anyway). Therefore, long weekend.

Anyway, Wednesday night (because the weekend always starts the evening before the conventional weekend) the GF came over and slept over. Not exactly sure what we did on Wednesday night (I think we played Scrabble and watched How I Met Your Mother?).

Thursday morning I had a stupid information management group meeting. Yes, on a public holiday. If any of you guys are reading this, I think you’re all stupid. Stupid people. We wasted like 20 minutes discussing something so ridiculously small and trivial, and something that I feel isn’t even part of the project. So I wasted 2.5 hours of my public holiday wishing I was back home and still asleep. After that I came home and we had boerewors rolls for lunch. I think we may have played another game of Scrabble (me and the GF), but I’m not sure.

Man my memory is bad sometimes. I can’t even remember what happened like a few days ago. Anyway.

Friday was project day. Nothing exciting, just worked on the information management project. Well, aside from a brief-stop over from the GF again (she dropped off the most amazing present: a whole big tin filled with sweets chocolates and other incredible stuff) she left again.

Saturday, I went to Clearwater Mall and traded out my inFAMOUS rental copy at BT Games. My new game is FEAR 2: Project Origin. It’s not that great a game, decent enough but I’m not going to get the platinum because the online trophies are crazy hard. Long and basically impossible because there is not enough of a community still playing the game. Oh well. Oh, I also went and surprised the GF with a bunch of flowers at her work.

Saturday afternoon me and Brian went to a hardcore/metal concert thing. It was pretty good, some decent bands played like Hammer of Redemption and Chromium. We also listened to Agro play and they are not entirely as bad as we thought they were. I still think they would be much better without the synthesizer though. Oh and they are so lame. Their one song is about how drugs are bad and the other is about binge drinking in excess. Hahaha.

Sunday was such an amazing day. I woke up early, and me and the GF went to watch Sri Lanka and New Zealand play cricket at the Wanderers. The sun was hot and the food/drinks were expensive, but it was such an amazing experience, especially since all the live cricket I’d seen prior to that was from a box, which is way far removed from the actual proceedings.

We got back about half an hour after New Zealand won, and watched South Africa lose to England in Centurion (on the TV though).

All in all a pretty good weekend. What did you guys do?

Audi Driving Experience

21 08 2009

Wow this is a really late post. Sorry for that. But it’s on my list of Things I want to do in 2009, and as such it needs a blog post about it.

So, on the 24th of July, 2009, I set off in peak hour traffic on the way to Kyalami Racetrack, where 4Rings is situated. 4Rings is of course, the event organisers and the people who run the Advanced Safety Driving Course. Traffic was a bitch, but I still managed to get there in time, so all was well.

I met my brother, Geoff, there, and we did the course together, although we were put into separate cars (more on that later). Anyway, we got there, signed in and had some breakfast (sausage rolls and croissants and coffee. Wow it tasted good). Since we were a little late we didn’t have much time for breakfast, and we had barely finished before we were called into a room with chairs set up for the theory part of the day.

It was basically a lecture on the theory of road safety. We covered the grip circle of cars: which is the theoretical area around each tire that you still have grip, influenced by acceleration, braking and turning. It was quite interesting in retrospect, although at the time I was scratching my head and wondering what was going on. We also do weight distribution, and how it affects the handling of the car; in addition to the ideal way to hold your steering wheel (hands at 9 and 3 respectively) and the correct ways to react to under and over-steer situations.

From there we went outside into the freezing cold wind, where we were split up into groups of 3 and assigned a car each. I think there was 8 cars, so there must have been about 24 people there that day: the maximum I think that they allow. We drove to a place called Gerotek, which is a military owned testing facility, and where they have, among other things, the only Aquaplane facility in Africa. Pretty cool. They’ve also got an awesome banked oval race track, but we weren’t allowed on that.

Anyway, so the first demonstration was held on a flat track, and we were first shown the correct way to sit and to hold the steering wheel. Then we were shown exactly how long it takes a speeding car to stop from various speeds (about 15m at 60km/h, 40m at 100km/h and about 100m at 160km/h). It was a real eye-opener and highlighted the need for a good following distance, as well as the benefits of having ABS on your car.

From there we were divided into two groups and did two different exercises (although we all got the chance to do all exercises. It just determined the order which we did them in). Our group was first up on the ESP (Electronic Stability Program) exercise, which basically corrects over and under-steer situations by automatically applying brakes or power to specific wheels or cutting brakes, steering and power if the user is engaging them incorrectly. Pretty amazing all in all. I took a video in slow motion, but you can’t see much of anything (and WordPress won’t allow me to host a video without paying them money. Maybe one day I’ll throw it on YouTube and post a link Decided to upload them now. Enjoy).

Oh, I forgot the thing we did before the ESP exercise. It was basically a slalom that tested the correct way to hold the steering wheel. Nothing terribly exciting but quite informative on the benefits of the 9 and 3 approach.

Basically what we did in this exercise is accelerate to a certain speed (can’t remember exactly what speed) and then slam the steering wheel hard left and hard right, to avoid the obstacle that had been set up (traffic cones). It really got the adrenaline pumping, and when in the back seats we got thrown around something crazy. It was awesome ๐Ÿ™‚

The way each exercise worked was that the instructor (we had one instructor per car) would first do the exercise with us in the car, as a demonstration. Then he would talk us through the actions required, and do it again. After that we would take turns doing the exercise, until all three people in the car had completed each exercise.

Afterwards we went to the aquaplaning station, which is pretty cool. Aquaplaning occurs when the car’s tires can’t displace water fast enough, and the holding grooves can’t carry anymore water. What basically happens is your vehicle is floating on top of the water, resulting in absolutely no response to any control from the driver’s seat. The best way to handle this is to straighten the steering wheel and apply brakes when you get control again. Anyway, we went around this rather sharp corner at 90km/h and aquaplaned over the specially designed feature, before straightening out and coming to a stop. Again, really cool to do, and scary and awesome to watch and experience.

From there, we all came together to have lunch, which was the usual buffet style stuff: potatoes, rice, meat, chicken etc. It was pretty good, but they were pretty stingy with the servings (one potato, one piece of meat) and they hustled us out of there pretty fast that I couldn’t even finish my after-lunch coffee.

After lunch we split up again, and our group went to theย  skidpan, which is basically a painted (I think?) circle of tarred area with a sprinkler in the middle that wets the entire surface. We did some exercises on ESP and under-steer, which was basically taking a long corner on the skidpan at speeds, and seeing the difference between taking it with the ESP on and off, as well as how to handle under-steer without ESP (gently straighten wheel until grip is regained and resume turning).

We then swapped with the other group and went aquaplane station, where we did a more advanced ESP control test (the water wasn’t turned on for this exercise), which involved swerving around two obstacles, first to the right and then to the left. Most people hit at least one cone, and I knocked my first (and only) cone down as I pulled off from a stop. Pretty lame, but better than the woman in the car in front of ours, who knocked down like five and got one stuck underneath her car. Haha, I laughed so hard.

We then went back to the skidpan, and joined the other group for a few practice runs on the benefits on ABS on a wet surface, basically just to experience it. It wasn’t the most exciting exercise but still pretty fun jamming on the brakes and skidding and feeling the ABS kicking in. There were two different types, the straight stop, where we simply jammed the brakes as hard as possible, and the swerve, where we steered the car around an obstacle while braking as hard as possible.

After everybody had completed all the exercises, the instructors set up a series of cones for the gymkhana. One at a time, everyone went through the course, which consisted of a whole set of challenges: a slalom, cornering, braking and stopping in a set area. Everybody was timed and the results were announced back at 4Rings, where we returned to after everybody had finished.

Back at 4Rings, we had a debriefing, where we all had to give feedback on the day, and the winners of the gymkhana were announced and given prizes. We also all received our certificates. Then they had drinks and snacks available to enjoy, and we all left to face the traffic once more.

All in all, I’d say it was a really amazing experience and a great day. I’d highly recommend it to anybody interested or thinking about it.

Oh, before I finish up, here’s some pictures I managed to take of the cars we drove in.

Hope you enjoyed that! I enjoyed going on the course and telling you all about it. What’s next on the list? Who know!

100s club and Guitar Hero

24 06 2009

So two more things crossed off my list. Host a 100s Club night and a Guitar Hero night. Strangely, both happened on the same night. Haha.

100s Club

Friday, June 19. Me, seven friends and a lot of beer. Me and four other people had a goal: to consume 100 shots of beer (25ml by our estimates) in 100 minutes. One per minute. You throw up, you’re out. You miss a shot, you’re out. For me, it didn’t go great. I got to 34, and felt sick and stopped. How lame. Another friend went out on 52, and another friend had dropped out before me. The last two contestants went on to the magic 100, and are now proud members of the 100s club. Congratulations Greg and Matthew!

Guitar Hero

Well, after the revelry of much drinking, we all went inside and played Guitar Hero: World Tour. It was pretty fun: Greg had brought his drumset so we had two different drums and could play versus drumming. It was pretty awesome. Otherwise we all took turns playing various instruments and singing, which was all good fun (especially the hardcore songs which I screamed my voice out to).

So there you have it. Another two things to cross off the list. It’s really going quite quickly now. Until next time…

International Band? Check!

12 05 2009

Another item to check off my list! “See an international music act”.

So as mentioned, I got my ticket for Haste the Day (My second favourite band, I’d say…) a while ago. I don’t know if the tickets were selling badly or what, but they dropped the price, so when we (Me and Brian) went to the event, we were given the option of either getting a ticket to another show, or R60 cash back per ticket. Not being willing to go to a show on Tuesday night in Edenvale (at Doors), I chose the cash.

The venue was Tempos Entertainment Park … unfortunately. I really don’t like that place. The sound is terribly uneven and this makes it hurt my ears and leave them ringing. Quite annoying. Also, it seems that the bands also struggle to play there, as when Knave played they were sound-checking for quite a while and were being quite sarcastic while they checked. Things like “I guess that’ll have to do”. Also, when a band is still fine-tuning their levels 4 songs into a 6 song set, there is some problem. But anyway.

In my opinion, it would have been better to host the event at a venue with one stage being used, instead of the three different places that Tempos used. Just like at the Underoath concert a few months back, where everybody will know which bands and playing where, instead of running around the venue trying to work out which stage is which. I mean seriously, put some signs up or something Tempos?

The bands lined up to play did nothing for me. Aside from Knave, there was really nothing that stood out for me. Again, the venue might have made everybody sound worse? But I doubt it. Knave were awesome as usual, and aside from the greedy jackasses “stealing” all the free stuff being thrown out, it was a really great set.

And then … the main event. Haste the Day. Wow. They blew my mind. Simply amazing they were. The crowd packed into the tiny venue, and when a mosh pit tried to break out, there was simply no room to get it properly started. So, everybody pretty much just pushed the people in the middle back and forth, and bumped into each other. It was quite a workout trying to stay upright and push all the idiots off you. I almost drowned in the pit, as I lost my footing and fell to the ground. Luckily some people picked me up though. I love the kindness shown in the pits. Everybody went mad for Haste the Day, and I was so sad when they finished without an encore.

Merch ๐Ÿ™‚ I managed to pick up a relatively cheap copy of their new CD: Dreamer, as well as two awesome shirts. I love merch ๐Ÿ™‚ Oh, and the lead singer was signing stuff at the merch table, but I had no idea who he was (until later when he was on stage, singing) so I didn’t get anything signed. Probably for the best, because otherwise I wouldn’t be able to wash my shirt. In hindsight it would have been cool to get my CD signed. Oh well ๐Ÿ™‚

All in all a great day. Really awesome, and I got to check another thing off my list!

Comedy Show

31 03 2009

This past Sunday 29 March 2009, I attended my first comedy show. Held at Cool Runnings Melville, this featured a lot of up and coming comedians. Well, up and coming in the sense that I had never heard of them before.

Anyway, the club is a little dodgey (they lead you down into a basement where the audience is shoved together like sardines, there is no fresh air circulating and the seats are hard) but the comedy is outstanding. The MC for the evening had me in stitches, and his style was very in your face. He swears, tells dirty stories and insults the audience (Tip: Don’t sit in the front row if you don’t want to be picked on). Some of the comedians were a little lame, (shame the one guy wasn’t getting many laughs, I felt a little bad) but most had people in stitches.

The one guy called himself 2Dogs. Without sounding too judging, he looked like he was washing dishes in the back yesterday, and his comedic style seemed to back that up. Told in second-language English (You know, sort of stilted), he had the whole audience rolling around on the floor. I will retell a few of the jokes he told, but chances are it was one of those “be-there moments” and you will just look at me like I am crazy.

2Dogs: People. They come up to me and say “Hey, why are you called 2Dogs. Where is the other dog?”. And I say, no man it is just a name.

2Dogs: You don’t go up to Zola7 and ask “Where is the other 6 Zola?”.

2Dogs: Ok… Now. Imagaine I am Zola7.

2Dogs: You know. I like smoking. So … why did 2Dogs cross the road … Because they were smoking on the other side.

See? Told you that you would think I am mad. But really, he was funny.

Other highlights included the coloured comedian guy, who had some pretty witty observation about coloured life. Such as how coloured people start a fight (tilt their heads to the side and walk up to you. “Ek se, jy ken my” No dude, I don’t. You’re not my friend because otherwise we wouldn’t be having this disagreement. “Ja. Eks Boontjies” Ok so I’m meant to be scared of a guy named Beans?). There was even a guy with a puppet. You know … a ventriloquist? He was pretty good too, very in the vein of Jeff Dunham.

All in all I would highly recommend to everybody to go out one Sunday evening to Cool Runnings in Melville and check this underground comedy show out. R30 (R20 with student card) will get you access to the show, it starts at 19:30 and lasts for about three hours, so it’s really good value for money.

And finally, here are some tips for you.

  • If you are easily offended, you might want to give this a miss as 90% the jokes are dirty and offensive.
  • Get there relatively early to guarantee yourself a seat.
  • If you sit in the front, right in front of the stage, expect to get picked on and ridiculed all night.
  • Parking is pretty safe, just ignore the “car guards” (right what a joke) trying to sell you marijuana (Swazi).
  • Have fun. You’ve probably never laughed so hard in your life.

Also, check out The List (or click the link up up there) of things I want to do in 2009. This was one of them, and now it’s checked off. Constantly updated!