The Day The Waters Went Up And The Lights Went Down

30 11 2016

skerton-bridge

When I was at school learning Geography; the one thing I would constantly hear from all the teachers, is that the first thing you need in order to start a settlement is the close proximity of water. That is a pretty obvious resource, as though while other necessities are also required; without access to water, your little settlement is not necessarily going to last all that long. One thing though my mind ponders after the events of last year though is that; when a settlement does start-up, do they ever consider how dangerous that water source could potentially be? Much like other cities/towns/villagers around the world, Lancaster has a river. Some of the other locations of the world might have small streams, or big wide rivers; Lancaster sort of has a large wide channel for water but normally, if you were to stand on one of the bridges in Lancaster, you would see that the River Lune appears to be pretty small and shallow. It runs through the centre of Lancaster in a wide trench and pretty deep trench; but normally does not even cover the entire patch of land at the bottom. When it does get high really does depend on whether there is an equinox or if there is plenty of rain to feed it, in which case the river can be nearly lapping the street level of St George’s Quay, which is the lowest road next to the river. St George’s Quay itself has been known to struggle with the flooding at times and over the last several decades, numerous plans were drawn up to try and prevent too much, including raising the road, to building the now erected wall along the river. Even when the river is high, if you go stand on Skerton Bridge, it does not look too bad. It can be deep and the channel is wide, but only really looks high if it gets to the Quay. That all changed on December 5th 2015.

River Lune Flood 5

It was a pretty normal Saturday. It was late in the year, and I had spent the day as normal, sitting behind my Laptop on the table. My head was spinning and judging whether or not I should go and see the film Krampus having seen the trailer a few times and my parents were discussing going somewhere. I think my Dad was supposed to be preaching away, I can’t remember where and I think my Mam was debating whether or not to go with him. Sometime later, my Mam was reading off her kindle, and saw a report announcing road closures, and that there was some flooding around the River Lune. Getting a little interested by this I decided to go out and have a look. The night was pretty dark by this time, it was early December, and I had no idea what I was going to see. I just thought the river would be higher than normal, nothing else. Skerton Bridge is no more than maybe 5 minutes’ walk from my house. I walk the same route every Sunday on my way to church which is less than a few seconds away from the north bank of the Lune. When I arrived I walked onto the bridge, and was amazed at what I saw. Now I was not wearing my glasses that day, I don’t require wearing them all the time but they do help. I walked onto the bridge, and looked down on it. I knew it could be high, but I wasn’t expecting the river to be wider too.

River Lune Flood 1

The river was literally bursting its banks, on both sides. On the north side bank, there is a little hill edged into the left hand side of the bridge. It’s a steady hill which allows people the use of a small tunnel under the bridge, allowing them to cross over to the other side without running through moving traffic. Well; the tunnel had water in it. The whole bank in that area was water-logged and level with the river. I have never seen that before. I heard it may have happened once, when I was perhaps 5 years old, I was now beyond my mid-twenties. The bridge was still accessible, but nearly jammed up with traffic. As I continued to walk across the bridge in awe at what I was observing, I saw that the bank on the other side, which is flat and is something of cycle path, that too had water on it, to the same level as the river. It was the same on the other side of the bridge. The little park near Sainsbury’s feeling a patch of water, submerging pathways. I quickly went back home, before popping immediately out again, with my Mam and my Camera. The dark sky did not help me much in taking pictures, but I got some though. Then, I went over to the Millennium Bridge. The Millennium Bridge is a small footbridge which connects the end of Lune Street with the top of the Quay. Knowing how high the river usually got around the Quay, I wanted to go see. I was right, the river was high there too, but more than I thought. I walked across, and could see swells, little whirlpool like effects near the bridge supports building and turning, and on the dip with the Quay side bridge entrance, I could see the river, nearly within finger reach of the bridge’s lowest pathway dip. It was amazing to see, I took photos and a couple of videos that night, though only one video really worked.

That night was something of a mini adventure for me. It was amazing to see the river like that. To see it not just high but bursting its banks. But what happened next was completely unexpected. I was upstairs watching TV when the lights and power went out. A few seconds later they came back on again without a hitch, but then a little while later, they went out again, but like before returned to full power within seconds. The evening was without hitch for maybe an hour or so more, and then they went out again, and they stayed out. My room was dark upstairs, I could not see a thing, and the only light source was a palaver lamp a friend got me for Christmas a year before (just shake it and it lights up). I looked outside onto the street. It wasn’t just our house, the whole street was gone, even the BP Garage was unlit (although one house across the road had Christmas lights lit up and working?). I cautiously and slowly worked my way downstairs, using the palaver lamp as my only torch. When I got downstairs, there was little light other than a few torches lighting the dining room. I went to bed soon after, but being the kind of guy who still needs something of a night-light to sleep, the darkness was hard to sleep in. It was not just a little dark, it was very dark. I was relying on a wind up torch to give me some help, but as I had images from the Krampus trailer in my head, it was hard not to spook myself out, but I still managed to eventually get to sleep.

Krampus (Legendary Pictures - 2015)

The following morning I awoke, needing to grab my bearings, and remember the previous night. I tried the lamp on my bedside table, nothing happened. Expecting the power to have returned during the night, I discovered it was still off. I got up and proceeded downstairs to see what was going on. The power was still turned off, with only battery operated equipment running. But with no power, there was very little information as to what was going on. We were still able to eat some breakfast, before heading out to church. We walked down the street; some roads were covered in water, it was not the case of water coming over the lips of the hills in the area, it was more the case of the sewers overflowing and simply coming up out of the wells in the streets. When we reached the bridge, we discovered two shocks; firstly, the river was still high. I took another video, surprised to see it still high, and it was flowing strong and fast. I have never seen it do that before. It was like a large open air sewer, carrying out everything it could out to sea, in a desperate attempt to keep the balance. That was the first shock. The other was that the bridge was closed. Somehow, as reports suggested, as the winds picked up, a container had blown into the river and hit the only two road bridges in the city. Both Skerton Bridge the Greyhound Bridge and even the Millennium Bridge were inaccessible.

We still went to church and had something of a bible study/prayer meeting, as there was only a few of us. Many people who come to our church were situated on the other side of the river. The only person to come from that side, did so by parking her car next to Carlisle Bridge, then walk across the very tall bridge that it is, and then all the way to church. It was at church though that we finally got some news regarding current issues. Firstly the lack of power was due to the substation flooding. Reports were stating that it should be back on by: Tuesday morning or evening. We also heard about some of the more serious damage caused by the river, as two people attending church at the time, living not far from us, had their house flooded overnight in a big way. Our little meeting adjourned, we went home, with the two people flooded in tow as my Mam made them some Cheese Sandwiches. Mam was pretty skillful with the beef roast bought at Sainsbury’s the previous night as she was able to have some use of the cooker and made some steaks for us to eat too. As the day went on, it became something of a more mundane and quieter Sunday than usual. Without my usual access to my Laptop or Games, I watched Terry Pratchett’s Going Postal on a portable DVD Player until it ran out of power. Mam and I sat in her Fiat Panda for a little bit to listen to The Bay radio in an attempt to find out some news, but the two clowns on the radio weren’t really all that helpful. Instead of presenting helpful and emergency news, they just sort of did a program like BBC Breakfast, getting other views of other people rather than provide the news that was really desired and needed. As evening drew in, the garage across the road opened a small hatch so some people could buy batteries and bits, so I popped across later in the afternoon to get some batteries to power lights and the radio. Apart from that, my Dad sat down with a book, and we all found ways to ride it through.

Sleeping Queens Kings and Queens

Later on I popped out for a little walk, and my senses and caution were tested as I experienced first-hand, what lack of power meant for the neighborhood on a winter’s day. I popped out with my Camera, and the night was beginning to draw in. I could still see some daylight, but it faded fast. I walked down Aldren’s lane, and saw first-hand how bad the flooding got in that area. The water may had gone, but silt remained, you could see though the patch of the wall where it had come through though, revealing a small channel where it could seep through with nothing to stop it. You could even see the level of how far inland the river got, and how high up the buildings it went, as the dark impression was still on the bricks. The whole area must have been like a mini boating pond, and a lot of silt remained on the path and road. I walked on a little bit, and got feelings and reminders of the film I Am Legend, with the dark night coming in, and houses blanketed without power. I decided to return home before it got too dark. By the time I was within reach of home, it was utter black. Not far from my home there is Ryelands Park, lit up by street lights and piercing lights of the city behind. Across the road there is of course the BP garage, and opposite to there is the once great, now nearly non-existent Skerton High School. Even on a dark winter night, you can see things. There is plenty of lighting from near and afar to light up the area. Well, on this Sunday night, none of these could be seen. I could not see the school, I could not see the faint outline of the city or Castle, I could barely see a tree in the park. In a small open space the only light being produced was from that house’s Christmas decorations, and the cars driving by, judging when it was safe to turn at a spot that once had working traffic lights. The evening was not too bad though, my Mam and Brother played some card games with me for an hour. We played Sleeping Queens and Straw, both fun games. My Dad read his book using a book mark light, and while it was cold due to the lack of heating, we still had an OK night. But like the night before, we went to bed a lot earlier than we usually do. Once again, it was dark and spooky, and getting to sleep was hard, but I managed it in the end. To be honest by this time I was feeling excited and was really enjoying some of the more social and quiet aspects of all this, and was looking forward to another quiet day.

River Lune Flood 2

The following day I woke up and tried the light; power was back on. I went downstairs and could see my Mam running around, while my Dad was busy phoning church members to see if they were ok, all the while the TV was on with News as to what was happening with the power. It was both great to see the power was back on, but also sad as it meant I had to go back to my daily routine at the time of having to do 35 hours of job searching, just to receive a tiny supply of money from Universal Credit. Anyway, I allowed myself some time to treat myself. I told everybody on Facebook I was OK with a post, and then to celebrate the return of Electricity, I chose an aptly named song to post on Facebook: The Power by Snap! I also spent some time texting and emailing others just to see if they were ok and let them know that I was ok. I also uploaded my photos and videos onto YouTube and Facebook too.

So life returned to normal? Sort of… Basically, both road bridges and Millennium Bridge were still unopened, and would remain that way until Tuesday. Well they were claiming that they wanted to make sure they were safe after the container collision. So could not really go into town unless I went the long way round, but I stayed in home to do my job search, while also making sure I put my 3DS and the portable DVD player on charge along with a few other pieces of electrical equipment just in case. It turns out that that was a good idea, as though while there was now power, it was announced that they would be turned off again later, which it was. I was able to continue doing stuff on my Laptop now it had some charge in it, but in the end, it was back to doing the other activities of being without power that I had acclimatized myself to doing the last few days: watching Going Postal and playing on the 3DS, until the batteries went out. From Tuesday onwards, it was pretty much back to normal, there were still feelings and rumours of losing power again, while the news debated the real cost and talked about the stronger tragedies of the incident: people losing their homes, possessions, road closures, broken roads and railway bridges. The news was awash with such things, while other people talked about their experiences and also rumours of more power losses to come, but did not happen, although some had to rely on generators for a while, many of which were in large areas for a week or two afterwards, not to mention the roads that needed mending, and the train bridges that needed rebuilding. But for most of us, life returned to normal. I had a dentist appointment on Tuesday, was at Barnardo’s volunteering that afternoon, and on Wednesday was attending a Christmas Party at UCLan.

River Lune Flood 4

The whole event for me personally was a weird one. At first it was surprising and something awe-inspiring; looking at what was usually a docile river turning into the controlling factor of a weekend. Losing power and taking the things in my life for granted, as though while they came back, they were gone, and I had to find other ways to use up my time, to the re-established joy of spending time with my family joy such an event could bring. A river becoming a torrent, several days without basic luxuries, being apart from many, not knowing if they were ok…or if they had knowledge of what was going on here – or if I was in it? Altogether, this event created an aftermath that would see general life return to normal, but creating a shaken experience as now I could really see the raw power of nature and what power and destruction my usually docile home town river was capable of.

River Lune Flood 3

GENEPOOL (One thing I wish I had done though was find a way into town during the night, just to experience how dark it must have been).





I Think The Word PPI Should Be Banned, Who’s With Me?

30 11 2016

Dial Phone

Unless you have no TV, Phone, Email Account, Facebook, Twitter, Video Games Console, Front Door, House, Windows, Friends and Never go outside; then it may be possible that you have never heard of PPI. PPI (of course) stands for Payment Protection Insurance and is according to Wikipedia: “An insurance product that enables consumers to insure repayment of credit if the borrower dies, becomes ill or disabled, loses a job, or faces other circumstances that may prevent them from earning income to service the debt. It is not to be confused with income protection insurance, which is not specific to a debt but covers any income.” Well since about roughly 3 years ago (if not more), rumours spread that banks and loan company’s might have miss-sold it to their customers, and there was an opportunity for those who were miss-sold it to reclaim it. That was great news if you were miss-sold as it meant that you could reclaim money. Being sure is very important in these circumstances, and you would prefer to have a definitive yes or no, and if it was the case that you were miss-sold money and be given the opportunity to have that money returned to you, you would jump on it. On the opposite side of the coin, if you knew for a fact that the answer was originally No to the question “have you ever been miss-sold PPI?” then you would be happy as it would confirm that you have not necessarily lost money either. When it comes down to those who found out the answer was ‘Yes’ however; they needed to be given the opportunity and service to reclaim that money. However for those who found out that the answer was indeed ‘No’, then you would think that they would just be left alone to get on with their lives, not be talked down to by TV Adverts or be phoned round the clock by harassment agents belonging to call centres for 3 flipping years.

ppi-1

Ever since the word PPI made it onto the streets of the UK (if not the world), agencies were set up to try and ‘help’ you get your money back, (possibly for a cut of the returns) if you were one of those people who was genuinely miss-sold PPI, however for those of us who weren’t, we were still included in the seasonal fun of asking if we had. It’s nice to see some inclusion from these agencies for once, but after the number of times they have asked, told them that I hadn’t or that I was not interested, they still keep calling back. Now it is probably down to some kind of automated machine which brings up my house number for some lone drone to then ring me, but after 3+ years of being given the opportunity for any PPI to be refunded, you’d think everyone would have received it by now wouldn’t you? But supposedly the answer is No, and so they continue to ring up and ask to the point where they must be committing Harassment by now. It’s for this reason that I think the word (or at least those 3 letters of the three words in that order that make up those 3 letters in that order) PPI should be banned! These companies have now had plenty of time to find and return the money miss-sold, and now it’s time for this whole affair to end!

TV

Now there is one thing of course that could be a problem if it were to stop, and that is those poor people; who have been employed to ask everyone else, would be unemployed as a result. Alternatively, if they were allowed to spread their wings and be given an opportunity to go find other work, then they would be able to learn and maintain real skills and achieve proper prospects for themselves (more at least than they must be getting right now ). It’s a win for everyone: we stop getting harassed, and people in a slum of a job right now get a chance at far greater work opportunities. We of course still need to give those who may still be waiting (if any by now) to receive their money back, but I think the sooner the better. I was thinking maybe around March 2017. You know, these companies would then be given some time to have a proper hard go at their supposed job, but then come the first second of April 2017, they would have stop outright, and the term PPI would be banned, and any use of it down the phone could see the charging of a hefty fine (if not a Prison Sentence). Then we can get on with our lives and be safe in the knowledge that nobody will call us regarding our current PPI Status or be ruining TV with the use of that word either. Now if it was the case that some people still had money to reclaim, then in that case it should go down to professional investigators whose soul task it would be to do a proper professional audit trail and reward it justly (like the people on Heir Hunters), not harassingly. If by the end of that, there is still money to claim, but no one to claim it, then why not spend it on giving free ice cream to the people of the UK (not those who work at reclaim PPI companies, they don’t deserve it), and then we can get on with our lives. Now I realise of course that I have no real power to ban the letters or word PPI, and it will take some form of petition and act of government to achieve this, but as an idea, do you agree? Alternatively however, we could find other uses for the Letters PPI, maybe some kind of whimsically funny pun on something else, and then if that were to work; every time one of these people phoned up and said PPI, then we could just laugh at the funny lettering, and get some level of Joy from PPI instead? What do you think?

GENEPOOL





If You Could Command Any Star Wars Army…

23 11 2016

Star Wars (Lucasfilm)

I used to like Star Wars, but I digress.

Star Wars: The Force Awakens (LucasFilm - 2015

While riding on the train back home from a Wedding back in August, I asked my Friend Matt the question; if he could command any army in Star Wars, which would it be? It’s a bit of an out there question I know and one that I had in my head for a couple of months preceding that, which in turn developed from a few other questions that I will probably end up writing about in the future (which include but are not limited to such things as who would I pick to be in my ultimate superhero/villain team). Anyway I asked this question. Basically the question is in the circumstances that if you were given the power and choice to lead an entire army from the Star Wars Universe, which would it be?

I remember that his immediate answer was Ewoks. Good choice, as the Ewoks pretty much single handily did defeat the Empire intrusion on the Forest Moon of Endor. Personally that is not my choice, but I can see how that could be a good choice, as not only are they practical, but also very musical, as well as very cuddly. My answer though to the question I am asking, I immediately chose when I originally thought of the question. There are a lot of good armies to choose from (even when sticking just to the films), many of which garner a lot of variety in their arsenal as well as secret weapons that are entirely attributed to them only. But for me, there really is only one obvious choice, one that if put into battle with all the others would simply dominate. They are the one army that suggests anything army like, and have the weaponry and technology to back it up: The Galactic Republic.

galctic-republic-logo

It would be a very short post if I just ended it there, but I feel like I should explain my reasoning and choice, so what follows is a brief but detailed post of why I would choose the Galactic Republic over all the others, and I will do that by stating where their strengths lie by going into the different elements of a Star Wars army and attempt to argue their strengths against those of the other armies.

clone-trooper

Infantry: Infantry/personnel units make the backbone of an army; without Infantry and Personnel there would be no army. No matter the ships, tanks, aerial units, without soldiers and personnel to use them or back them up and maintain them, all you will have is a load of machines that cannot be used. Infantry is the main force of an army, and while Tanks and other vehicles have a lot more firepower and are better armored, they can cost a lot to build and are not as practical as soldiers. Every army in Star Wars has their infantry, ranging from swamp dwelling frogmen, to cuddly teddy bears, to general foot soldiers and even robots. One of the most iconic units in Star Wars is of course the Stormtrooper, and Stormtroopers are a well-equipped fighting force, but given that the universe pretty much belongs to the Empire by the time the Stormtroopers are introduced, they are less infantry, more a peace keeping force. They are a tried and tested as well as disciplined fighting force of course, but they present themselves more as shock troopers rather than infantry, if not more like; well, police officers of the galaxy. They do not suggest themselves as being a fighting force that could work on a large scale battle front, their guns themselves look pretty small, and in the end, they’re probably about as much good as those white fellas from The Hunger Games. Now take the Republic Soldier (or Clone Trooper); the republican army is of course famously built from clones, under a strict regime program that turns them into an equipped and disciplined fighting force the second they step out of the factory. The best way I can describe them is during the Battle of Geonosis. The minute they arrive in the arena, they are perched on the edge of the LAAT gunships, and the second they land they are firing shots at a large fighting force of battle droids. They don’t wait, they know who the enemy is, they know how to attack and they have been well-trained enough to know that now is the time to attack. This is just basic infantry, there are other kinds of units, but as they are just the basic infantry in battle, to go in there, and get to work, plus cause as much damage in less than a minute, only to then join a much bigger fight, suggests a dedicated and effective fighting machine, not one that is unprepared for a larger fight.

clone-troopers

Infantry Specialists: Basic infantry units may be the backbone and largest part of a military fighting force; but every army should work at producing some specialist’s within the infantry division as to be able to deal with specific or certain situations on the battlefield. This can range of course from specialist infantry for certain weather conditions such as the Galactic Empire’s Snow Troopers, but by specialists I mean more in the form of weapon specialists to of course engineers and medics. In terms of weapon specialists, the Republic has shown a great level of degree of weapon specialists throughout their use. Some of these are designated by their role in the army, but unlike most armies in Star Wars, the Republic Army appears to be unique in their use of Snipers. I have never seen the Gungans, Ewoks, Rebel Alliance, Galactic Empire, Confederacy of Independent Systems or even the Trade Federation use Snipers. I like Snipers as it’s the idea of not being seen but picking off enemies from afar. Other unique soldiers in their arsenal include Medics, as most other armies (except maybe Ewoks) seem to work under the idea of if you are injured you are already Dead and it’s not worth bothering with. Two things may appear to be a little small in number of examples, but it’s still more than the others (at least from what I have seen).

clone-commander

Ranks: On the battlefield, much like in other more modern (REAL!) day circumstances, it’s important to have a clue as to what on earth you are meant to be doing. This is where more experienced and well taught soldiers come in to play whose job it is rather to issue commands to the lower downs than fight up front. In the real army these are known as commanders or officers. Now, not all high level commanders are sat behind the army with their feet up, many have to be on the battlefield to direct soldiers in the heat of battle. All armies have ranked commanders, but the Republic better enhances the role of theses soldiers in a very obvious way, one that is actually used in the real world – using colour on uniform to point out who is in charge. It’s not just the Republic who uses this system in Star Wars of course as the Droids of the Trade Federation use a similar system. Now the colour for the most part in both armies is more of a designation as to their role in the army, but even when uniform and colour changes in role, Yellow has always stood out as some form of Commander. This use of colour is actually used in the real world; one example is in the uniforms of the Police in the United Kingdom. During big events, officers use coloured epaulettes to highlight their rank, as it stands out more than symbols. Examples of colour include White for Sergeants and Red for Commanders.

police-sergeant-white-epaulettes

On the battlefield this would be very useful for an army, as if soldiers lose their place and need guidance or even assistance, being able to pin point a commander or someone in a similar position would be a lot easier if it was especially highlighted, rather than going round examining their shoulders.

at-te-in-action

Tanks: Since World War One, Tanks have been an instrumental feature on the battlefields of the world; it’s the same with Star Wars (but as the film suggests it was a long time ago, the question has to be raised as to whether or not the films are set before or after World War One). Tanks play an important role on the battlefield, as they can do things infantry cannot do. They come with far superior forms of firepower, are a lot quicker and more mobile than infantry, can travel great distances, and can attack bigger and more armoured units as well as buildings from afar. Tanks have always been a key role to the battlefields of Star Wars and there are several unique and iconic tanks in the series, ranging from but not limiting to vehicles such as the AAT hover Battle tanks of the Trade Federation to the giant four-legged AT-AT’s of the Galactic Empire. While these vehicles are all well and good, the Republic’s AT-TE is a much more superior vehicle than both of these and more for some very simple reasons. Firstly, while it is a big and possibly sluggish vehicle, because it hugs the ground, it does not fall to the great weakness of the mighty AT-AT. While the AT-AT is a pretty good piece of equipment, due to its set of four legs to walk on carrying a heavy load, it makes the vehicle very unstable, and easy to be tripped up with something as easy as a cable. Once it hits the ground it’s less useful than paper weight. The AT-TE uses six legs, supporting and distributing the weight evenly across itself. Also, it does not fall under this trip up weakness either, as in order for that to work, the cable would need to intertwine and near shackle each leg, and would need to be done quickly. Another major gain for the AT-TE is that it has access to one main Big Gun. While it has access to smaller support guns, using a much bigger gun allows it to use the gun for close up attack but also far off artillery shots too. The gun itself also means it uses one main powerful shot rather than distributing its attack between several guns, and in the use of energy weapons which require fuel and power to use, a big shot would be a lot better than lots of small shots, plus would mean it could be used a lot more than others and would be more energy-efficient in the long run.

at-te

The other advantage though the AT-TE has over its contemporary rivals is that it can be considered as being like what is known as an MBT or Main Battle Tank. During World War Two, lots of different kinds of tanks were made for various purposes and reasons and there was a lot of variety. Since then however it has become apparent that designing lots of Tanks for different purposes is sort of a long-winded strategy and in the end it would be a lot more efficient t design one vehicle that could suit most, if not all purposes than just a few, then support said vehicle with other support vehicles (or even infantry) in that vehicles (short) list of failings. Variations of MBT’s exist of course, but as they are based on a base vehicle, it actually makes designing variations a lot easier. The Galactic Empire utilities a lot of different walker based designs but very few of these are similar, which means, in similar fashion to Germany in WW2, they designed them for different situations in order to create as much power as possible from each vehicle, but in the process spread themselves rather thin. The Republic on the other hand, created a vehicle, and stuck with it. They adapted future designs and included features such as wheels and even made base troop carriers out of them, and in one case a two-legged version and sometimes carry even smaller weapons, but in the end, all variations were based on the same vehicle; one that was the real ground work horse of their arsenal. It’s similar to the UK’s use of the Challenger 2; it’s the base model for variations, but in the end is based on a workable design. In the end the AT-TE would probably be replaced for a more up to date advanced model, but it would still serve the Republic in a long-term purpose for a very long time.

challenger-2-tank

spha-t

Artillery: Artillery is just as important as Tanks, as Artillery delivers greater levels of firepower to bring down much bigger obstacles such as buildings and fortifications. The Republic (as a going theme you may have cottoned on to) is possibly the only ones to show off a degree of artillery usage. The Empire and Trade Federation have only really used a tank’s superior firepower to one shot defences, but have not really experimented with using them to bring down buildings. The Republic however has presented their artillery in the past in the form of the self-propelled SPHA-T; most notably during the battle of Geonosis to bring down the Trade Federation star ships. These vehicles are very big, possibly bigger than AT-TE’s but use a very simple form of artillery to bring down the ships: that being an adjustable arm with a strong energy weapon on the end. Such vehicles are of course very slow, but on show they are very powerful and capable in the role. In comparison, well; no one has actually showed off a viable comparison, which is even weirder considering how basic these vehicles are.

laat

Aerial Vehicles: This being Star Wars, this could probably be put in two different parts, so for now we will consider those on the battlefield, not necessarily for use in non-air space. When it comes to use on the battlefield, aircraft serve mainly the use of transportation in Star Wars. In the real world aircraft are better used for support craft and can be used to bomb enemy positions from afar and more importantly be used for reconnaissance. In Star Wars it appears armies decide to just jump into battle full force with no dedicated planning, so reconnaissance is not really required. In Star Wars, battles take up quite a bit of the screen as well as scene, but in order for anyone to actually get there; they have two options, either walk, or get some Transport. In terms of practicality; the Republic is very practical in their designs. Armies like the Trade Federation use transport vehicles to move troops around, but are susceptible to attack as the troops need unfolding and then turning on. Empire transports such as the Lambda-class T-4a shuttle and it’s larger variants are less than practical also, as while they can disembark from the front, the access is very limited, and only really practical when allowing two people off at a time, but then the ramp is very narrow and can be a bit of a squeeze. For the most part Storm Troopers usually depart from the back, which is protective, but makes them prone to attack from the enemy as they run around and set up, meaning they could be picked off with ease before they fire a single shot. The Low Altitude Assault Transport (LAAT) used by the republic army is a gunship aerial vehicle, which comes packed to the teeth with a variety of advanced weaponry. These range from standard light laser cannons, to focus beams and cluster missiles. It is a powerful and fearsome vehicle in its own right; however it is also a very useful ship for the transporting of infantry across the battlefield. Once again, the battle of Geonosis proves their practicality and efficiency, as the vehicle allowed soldiers to sit off the side of the ship on both sides, fire from the ships openings, and as soon as it landed, could safely and effectively deploy troops into the battlefield. It allowed and carried defensive capabilities, plus carried offensive abilities too, while also providing an effective launch pad for a quick infantry deployment and attack. Much like the AT-TE too, it was such a well-designed vehicle, that it allowed itself to be customized into other varieties including a vehicle carrier which could carry good heavy loads including the likes of the AT-TE.

assault-ship

Ships: As stated in the last section, aerial vehicles provide two purposes in Star Wars, because you could not have a war in the stars if you did not have vehicles that could compete in the stars. So to this end, huge capital ships become an integral part of the arsenal for any Star Wars Army wishing to compete on a Galactic Scale. Now, while the Republic could be considered weak in context – just bear with me for a moment. If this question was simply about star/space ships, I would have chosen the Empire. I love Star Destroyers, and the Galactic Empire has the awesome power of the Executor. However I would not consider the Republic weak in this department, as they have a superb collection of small fighter/bomber craft ranging from Jedi Starfighters, to X-Wing like designed aircraft in the form of the ARC-170 space fighter. But when it comes to Capitol carrier ships, these Acclamator-class Assault ships are well designed as carrier transports, but in the form of space conflicts, they can still bring a level of broadside firepower. Their shape allows them to sort of glide through the stars, and their light size in comparison to others should give them a speed and maneuverability bonus, but if you think about it, a fleet of these things are less like capitol ships, and more like mini sized battleships, and there are entire fleets of them. Just imagine that. Less a capitol/command ships, but more a proper battle ship. In Earth terms it would be like having an entire fleet of Yamato or Iowa Class Battleships, and who doesn’t want that? Yes, they could look a little weaker to the might of the Star Destroyer, but in Firepower, they could still deliver a punishing.

yamato

Well I hope that wasn’t too boring of a read, but I wanted to cover the reasoning of my choice. Anyway the chances of me being given the keys to the Republic Army Arsenal is very slim, probably more like impossible as Star Wars isn’t real, but I suppose it’s just good fun. Anyway, that is why; given the power and choice I would choose to command the Republic Army. Yes, the other armies have their own strengths as well that should (and need to) be considered, but as a good all-rounder, there can’t be any better than the Republic, as for one thing, they are at least consistent in their designs and are a very efficient machine. That is my choice, who would you pick to command?

GENEPOOL





One Hundred Thousand Blog Views

9 11 2016

Southport Fireworks 2011

Recently, my Blog (the one that you are reading now) has celebrated some major milestones. A few months back I published my 500th blog post, WordPress informed me that my blog is officially now 7 years old, and much bigger than those, I have reached the milestone viewing number of 100,000.

100

It’s a big moment for me, as I never thought my blog would even reach that number. In the first 10 months of my blog I reached 1000 views, but I was getting less than 300 views a month. But steadily over the years the viewership has increased, and then declined (which it’s sadly doing right now), but after 7 years of blogging, my blog has been viewed 100,000 views. Now this was last week, but I thought I would still celebrate and have a chance to thank everyone who read and still reads this blog, supporting my writing, my hobby over all these years. So thank you to everyone who has read (and continues to read) my blog, supporting my writing, my hobby over all these years and I hope you will continue to read my blog in the future. Thank you all.

v1

Now to celebrate, I had no real plan other than to say the above, but I thought I would make a post out of this as well. So, how to celebrate? Well, how about a cake; here’s an (old one) I made:

Red Velvet cake mix

Now for the rest of the post, I thought I would provide you with some possibly interesting Blog Stats. As I have said I have no real plan as to what I am doing, but here are some generic blog stats about my posts and blog that I noted down to present to you (a couple of days ago):

Most views in a single day: December 31 2012

Most Views in a Month: December 2012

Top 5 Countries where the most views came from: USAUKGermanyCanadaFrance

usa-flag

Top 5 Most Viewed Posts (not including the generic homepage):

Top 5 Ben And Jerry’s Ice Cream Flavours

Top 5 Monsters For The 2014 Godzilla Movie

Top 5 Saxon Songs

The Best Film In The World – Godzilla, Mothra and King Ghidorah: Giant Monsters All Out Attack

Film News – Seventh Son and 47 Ronin

Caramel Chew Chew

Well there you go; I thought I would just share those stats with you, hope I did not bore you too much? So anyway, thank you to everyone who has viewed and supported this blog over the last 7 years, and I hope you will continue to read this blog as it continues. Now to finish off, why not a celebratory piece of music?

GENEPOOL





Top 10 Blackpool Pleasure Beach Rollercoasters

5 10 2016

blackpool-pleasure-beach

I like Rollercoasters, I don’t know exactly what it is other than the adrenaline it packs into you but also the thrill of going really fast, really high more ways than one, but also the ride of a rollercoaster is just so much fun; lots more fun than simply riding the train to and from somewhere, or even the longer journey of going by car somewhere. As Rollercoasters go, when you find yourself in an especially exhilarating one the only disappointment is that eventually it will come to an end, and you just wish the queue was a lot smaller. Anyway, the world is filled with Rollercoasters, but not all of them are exciting per say, it’s easy to say that some are just lame and downright boring, however living where I do; if I wanted to go on some really good rollercoasters I needn’t go far to do so, as Blackpool Pleasure Beach has some of, if not the best rollercoasters I have ever been on, and it’s not too far away either.

blackpool

I would easily consider Blackpool Pleasure Beach to be the best theme park in the UK. For me as said above it is not too far away or hard to get to, while theme parks like Alton Towers and Thorpe Park are down south and can be pretty out of the way; such as Alton Towers. One thing Blackpool has over these places, well one of the things it has over these places is that for a large theme park, it is pretty well contained. Everything is within walking distance from each other, and while that can still be a long walk, it’s about no more than 10 minute walk from one side to the other. Compare that to Alton Towers, or even Thorpe Park, which is still pretty well contained, the walking distance is still astronomical. Other things it has over the other two major parks is that while it is a small area, it has so much packed into it. Most rides are less than a minutes’ walk from another ride, and there is so much diversity in several spots, but when it comes to its bigger rides, they are nicely well placed around the park so that no matter where you are, you are still pretty close to one of its major rides. Other things that is has over other parks include a much cheaper entry fee, queues are generally shorter due to the use of several cars (I am not saying those other parks don’t, but the amount of room on BP rides allows definitely more passengers er go than everywhere else), there is more variety in ride formats and styles than other parks, but also, it’s not just for thrill seekers, as there are several rides that those who prefer a more gentle solution can go on. The last time I went (just a few weeks ago), I got an enormous amount of pleasure from the Flying Machines ride; and I had gone on the Big One twice.

blackpool-pleasure-beach-roller-coasters

I have always wanted to do a post like this about some of my favourite Theme Park rides, but never really figured it out. Last week however I went to the park by myself (4th visit) during the school term times, which meant there were virtually no queues and that I could go on nearly all the rides I wanted to plus revisit ones again. I had a really enjoyable day and it was going through my head about how I should do a post on it. So while my mind considered doing a general rides post, as I did not get to go on all the rides due to some being closed, I decided to be fair and just do my Top 10 Rollercoasters. Now, of course it has been announced that the park is to build a brand new rollercoaster to open hopefully in 2018. Now I can’t look into the future, but from experiencing the park’s other major rides and from looking at this new one, I am already pretty excited, but for now let’s concentrate on what they already have. Originally I was going to do this just as a Top 5, but as the park currently has exactly 10, I thought I would include them all. So, sit back, relax and (hopefully) enjoy this selection of fine rollercoasters, all located within Blackpool Pleasure Beach.

wild-mouse

10. Wild Mouse – The Mild Mouse Rollercoaster is a small wooden rollercoaster where up to 2 riders are strapped into small cars shaped like mice. The ride is pretty small and very contained in a small space. It is only one of 3-5 Wild Mouse Rollercoasters still in existence and is highly regarded for being a very extreme ride; I can understand why. It is a very fast coaster; it contains lots of steep deeps and sudden climbs. It goes round bends at high speeds and always finds a way to speed up. It is the epitome of the term Wild Mouse, as it never stops until you reach the end. It is easily one of the most terrifying of rides at the park. Terrifying because one it is made of wood and you feel like it will break any second, but also, for a small wooden rollercoaster, the height of some of the drops is just perplexing and the speed is near unbelievable. You will genuinely think twice before going on it again; it is a really fun ride, but is ravenously terrifying to contemplate, and that’s just as you reach the top of the hill.

blue-flyer

9. Blue Flyer – Formerly known as both Zipper Dipper and Warburtons Milk Roll-A-Coaster, Blue Flyer in essence is really a kiddie’s rollercoaster. It’s not one for those who are expecting thrills, nor those who want big drops. It’s really for little kiddies and the parents who get dragged on with them. It’s not going to create thrills and spills for thrill seekers, but I am sure it will for those who are under the age of 10. So why is it at number 9 on this list, well, for a small kiddy coaster, this thing is unbelievable fast. It does not contain much in drops, maybe two or three at most (four if you include the embankment the plat form is on), but the first drop is actually still pretty decent, and the ride journeys down what feels like a flat straight, building up a nice level of speed as it goes before it dives and plunges into an underground cave and then finishes it off. It’s more of a little wobble here or there for grownups, but for the exuberating speed alone, it’s worth a go.

steeplechase

8. Steeplechase – Steeplechase is a three tracked racing rollercoaster where up to two people can ride a horse shaped vehicle. Basically there are three different coloured lines of track right next to each other, and a coloured horse for each section of track. All the vehicles leave at the same time and race around the track. It’s the only steeplechase rollercoaster operating in the world today and provides a unique experience where you are actively racing other people in a race style format. While the park does have another racing rollercoaster, it is not in the steeplechase format. This is not technically one coaster, but three amalgamated into one. The ride experience is a fun yet weird one, as though while it is a steel based rollercoaster, the vehicles can feel like they are buckling as the track goes on, and due to the design of the vehicle seats, when it does buckle and belt it can hurt your sides a little (if you value your kidneys, maybe avoid this one). Despite this issue though, it is really fun to ride what on the outside could be seen as another kiddie’s coaster. The bends and drops are actually pretty fast and the racing element adds another element, making this not just a ride, but also a little game.

revolution

7. Revolution – Revolution is possibly one of the most famed rollercoasters in the park’s history. It was the first fully looping rollercoaster in Europe, and remained the parks only looping coaster until the introduction of Infusion in 2007 (28 years later). The ride was also famously shown in a BBC TV Show, when a group of Scouts decided to eat their lunch on the ride. This was then done again a couple of decades later with the now grown up scouts doing it again, as well as homage featuring a group of Goths drinking Irn Bru on the train, receiving similar results; this though was more due to the ride being sponsored by Irn Bru at the time. The ride experiences starts with the large climb up some stairs which can take it out of you, however the high platform is necessary for the ride to work. Riders are strapped into a car, and are then propelled at high speed down the track, down a dip and then round the loop at high speed before then going up a hill and arriving at another platform. Instead of getting off however, the ride is then sent backwards, once again at high speed, round the loop and back into the station; at this point, riders are now allowed to get off. The ride experience is shocking as first you are launched at high speed, and then go down before entering the loop. Just as you think it’s then over, it does it again, backwards. I don’t go on rides all that much that involving going upside down, but the speed this goes at, plus the feel, the feel of being upside down is just unnatural as you begin to think that you are leaving the chair, although you are strapped in tight. It’s short but sweet, although I wouldn’t exactly call it sweet.

infusion

6. Infusion – Originally Infusion wasn’t called Infusion; neither was it built for Blackpool Pleasure Beach. Originally the ride was built for Pleasureland Southport; it was opened in 1999 with the name Traumatizer and was painted Red and dark Blue. When Pleasureland Southport was closed in 2005, Traumatizer was dismantled and relocated to Blackpool where it was painted light and dark blue and built over water. It was the first rollercoaster to do this; it was also the parks first Inverted Rollercoaster (I think). Infusion is actually quite a big lengthy rollercoaster tightly compacted into a small space. There is hardly a main straight during the ride experience other than the very end ride brakes and the station. The rest of the ride is a combination of loops, twists, bends, lifts, drops and a whole lot of speed. It takes you upside down more than one way, not just with loops that point your feet to the sky but also twists that shoot and turn your body round much quicker. In some respects it’s like being in a fighter cockpit; it takes you on a high speed journey and promises you more than speed as it bends and flips you round more than most. I was pretty scared about going on this one at first, but I found the whole experience to be rather pleasurable and a thoroughly enjoyable if intense experience.

avalanche

5. Avalanche – Avalanche is the first Bobsled Rollercoaster (and as far as I know the only one still active) to be opened in the UK, and was opened in 1988 by Eddie “The Eagle” Edwards in 1988. The ride is themed around an alpine bobsled course and the stations design and livery is designed to match this including three bears on the outside playing similar instruments. The ride itself has a chain of cars, each car being able to fit 2 people. Being based on Bobsleigh, the ride has no track per say; it does not utilize rails, but instead is more like a skid plate to give a real sense of being in a bobsleigh. The ride itself does not drip or drop, but instead curves around; bending and twisting in different directions, but going down a gradient which creates speed; resulting in a ride that can actually be quite fast. It’s not the most intense ride at the park but given its unique design and style plus ride quality it can still provide a real thrill. I consider it more as a build-up coaster, one that gives you a little experience to get the adrenaline going that then allows up to have enough to go on something a little bigger.

nickelodeon-streak

4. Nickelodeon Streak – Originally called simply Rollercoaster from its original opening in 1933 to 2009, the Nickelodeon Streak was later renamed and repainted bright orange as part of the park’s Nickelodeon Land area, opened in 2011. Despite being located in what is technically the Park’s children’s area, the Nickelodeon Streak is actually a pretty big and genuinely fun rollercoaster for anyone who wants to go on a big ride. It is very traditional in its construction which includes the important chain driven hill, to then a set of drops and lifts at speed round a long and continuing circuit which does last a good time. It can be fast in spots and the drops are pretty big. While the Blue Flyer is more a kiddies coaster, this one is more for those who want to go on something a little bigger but are still too scared to go on the Big One. The drops are not too steep, but the speed achieved is still pretty good. The ride, much like the other Wooden Rollercoasters at the park does buckle a bit on the turns but is generally more comfortable in those sections. You will find yourself preparing to brace yourself in spots, but really you only just need to place your hand on the bars to steady yourself. While not the biggest thriller at the park, it is one of the most enjoyable; for any age.

big-dipper

3. Big Dipper – Originally installed in 1923 to be then extended in 1936, The Big Dipper is the oldest surviving and working Rollercoaster at Blackpool Pleasure Beach. The ride is a traditional Wooden Rollercoaster, constructed mostly out of wood but with metal rails. When the ride disembarks, the train travels down a small route before climbing up the big main hill. At the top of the hill, the train travels around the corner, illuminating the sign ‘Big Dipper’ as it goes past for anyone looking at the sign down below, a nice little feature. The ride then goes down one giant hill before going on a successive trip of up hills and down drops that on some occasions can seem bigger than the first drop. The ride bends and buckles due to its original design and there can be occasions where you feel like you are about to launch out of the seat. The ride begins to calm down on its dripping and dropping journey, but feels to get faster as you go round a big curve halfway round the course. Just as you think it may be coming to an end, there are more dips and drops, and your mind warps as you think there is still more than half the ride to go, only to realize that that is what you have just been on and in actual fact you are entering the station once more. The Big Dipper can feel like a bruising, but for sheer speed as well as thrilling excitement only the top 2 on this list can deliver more of, but are still too scared about the Big One, The Big Dipper is a good ride to help build you up to the much bigger rides; but can still deliver a terrific experience, even if you decide that that is your limit; providing endless levels or re-ride-ability.

grand-national

2. Grand National – It can be pretty confusing having two rides with similarly themed names at the park, so much so that even a 4 time veteran of Pleasure Beach Blackpool can still get the names mixed up between the horse racing rollercoaster, and the racing roller-coaster that has no horses on it. It’s something though that you will want to get right, because while one ride is steel based structure giving riders the opportunity to compete in something of a horse race, the other is a completely different experience. The Grand National Rollercoaster is a wooden Mobius Ring Rollercoaster: What this means is that while it may look like two rollercoasters, it is in actual fact one big one, something you will discover the minute the train arrives back in the station, and realize that it’s not the same station you started at. The idea with this coaster is that it’s very much themed around the Grand National: Two trains set off at the same time and race each other round the course/track going up and down continuously at great lengths of speed. The train is much like a traditionally wooden built rollercoaster; it starts with a big hill, and then goes up and down along the course, with hills named after famous sections of the Grand National Horse Race Course. The racing aspect of this rollercoaster is what makes it more unique than compared to the other wooden coasters at Blackpool; it can be quite exhilarating winning the race, and still relatively boring when losing. While it does belt and buckle at times and is more of a one ride machine, The Grand National is a very fun but also thrilling and exciting experience, delivering one of the fastest, as well as shockingly scary experiences at the whole park.

big-one

1. Big One – Not just a Rollercoaster, but also a cultural landmark. When opened in 1994; the Pepsi Max Big One as it was originally known; was the tallest and steepest rollercoaster in the world as well as the fastest in Europe. While those records have since been defeated by others, and more beyond; to this day it is still the Tallest Rollercoaster in the UK. Now 22 years old, it is more than just a Rollercoaster, but also a visual landmark to the town of Blackpool, quite possibly just as famous as Blackpool TowerYou can even see it from as far away as Southport Pier.

But can this Rollercoaster offer more than just historical and cultural meaning; yes it can, t can provide one of the fastest and smoothest, yet also terrifying Rollercoaster Experiences of your life. They don’t call it the Big One of nothing; it is big, while no longer the tallest in the world it can still create a panicked fright as you ascend up its mighty climb. The climb may be slow and gentle, but the view down is just unbelievable, and it can cause this even when you have yet to reach the top. Even as you continue to climb and can see the end in sight, you know what is coming next. When I went on this last week, I had to try hard to beat down a near panic attack, I was scared. Then as it levelled out, and I knew that first drop was coming, and so as I felt the line begin to bend, I closed my eyes. I did not want to look at that drop. You can feel the descent, and you can feel the speed. Once I felt it coming to an end though, I reopened them, only to remember that the first drop is less than half the ride. From here on it is a trip of going up a hill at speed, going down a hill at speed, going up around into a bend, only then to descend once more. I did not need to close my eyes again as the drops were relatively gentle, but the speed was astronomical, and the end was nowhere in sight. Mercifully, as you bank around from the front of the park the ride breaks briefly, only then to speed up once more, descending into a circular darkness, and then just for the cherry on the top, the ride throws in one final fright, that of the corner of the station jutting out and the belief that you are going to clip it. I enjoyed this ride so much; I just had to do it again. For years now I would have considered Grand National as the Best ride at Blackpool Pleasure Beach, but when you go on this, there is no bending or buckling, just a smooth scary ride that takes thrill rides to a whole new level. Yes, it may be over 20 years old and not the newest ride at the park for some time at that; but this ride’s experience proves that even today it can match up, and even surpass many of the UK’s, if not the World’s; top Rollercoasters.

GENEPOOL








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