USA vs UK and Vice-versa

US-vs-UK-FLag

For two nations, one born of the other and sharing a common language, both have so many misconceptions about the other, it is frankly staggering!

Nowhere, as far as I can tell, is the belief in the media’s representation of falsehood more apparent than in this very subject.

It’s also easy to fall into the trap of :
Guns
Obesity
Yellow TeethTSq3
British Politeness

But here’s the thing, we need to start by understanding that the USA is NOT New York City, Florida and the West Coast – it is more to do with all the fantastic bits in between and in that very same breath London has little to do with the rest of the UK… the UK being effectivDSCF0518ely 4 countries and only England is, well… England..
So what of the USA? Well lets start with Europe (which apparently we’re part of) and the differences between each of those many countries which are obviously vast – now look at the USA and see 50 states…. They’re effectively 50 COUNTRIES… all brought together by a single figurehead/symbol… not a King or Queen, but a flag! And that is why the US flag is taken so very seriously.

In its short history the USA has achieved much to be proud of – they put a man on the damn MoonMoon for heavens sake… so while we can go through the history of inventions and compare what we’ve done – they’re doing all right.

So lets look at some of those clichés:

Obesity: The UK wins out here as it has far more clinically obese people than the USA per capita, in fact the US is more full of fitness that the UK ever wasGun-Barrel.

Guns: Well until the banning of handguns in the UK, they weren’t such a big deal here, which is fair considering the UK has been the most warring nation in the
history of humanity. But if you’re under 25, the near mention of a gun will probably frighten you because that’s what the media told you that you should be – BUT…. We have guns and lots of them!! You can legally own a shotgun at any age. You can own a rifle up to .50 calibre in the UK and the UK still manufactures a lot of guns.

Heck I’m a Brit (obviously) and I trained in the use of the following albeit in the military:
L1A1        7.62mm Self Loading Rifle (SLR) UK FN FAL variant,
L85A1/2   5.56mm SA80,
L2A3        9mm Sterling Submachine Gun,
L4A6        7.62mm Light Machine Gun (Bren),
L7A2        7.62mm General Purpose Machine Gun (GPMG/M240),
L9A1        9mm Browning High Power,
L96A1      7.62mm AW Sniper Rifle
2 inch       51mm Mortar
L16A2      81mm Mortar,
L14A1      84mm Carl Gustov Anti Tank Weapon,
Milan Anti Tank Guided Missile System,
M72         LAW 66,
LAW 80
and of course the trusty Bayonet
On top of that, Glock, AR15, 1911, M/PSG1, MP5, G3 and a Ruger or two and I’m not going to list shotguns.

In the USA the media and the NRA would have you all believe it’s about 2nd Amendment Rights and self-defence – well while that all makes for great sound bites, it’s frankly bollocks… A lot of people in urban areas simply do not own firearms, but the rural areas, just like in the UK a lot of people own guns and for good reasons – shit out there can kill you!! From, coyotes (which by the way are not some small dog – they’re big, really big), bears. Snakes, deer, (they have a lot of deer) and frankly the list goes on – and lets not forget just how big the place is, if you’re on a horse that gets spooked by a snake, how are you going to walk back 70 miles across open ground in summer heat or winter snow without dying if that’s how far the horse gallops before collapse? So you may literally have to shoot your horse a long time before you get to that distance…

British Yellow Teeth: I’ve seen worse teeth in the US than the UK and Yellow teeth vs white teeth is about even.

British Politeness: Well for the stereotype that is Downton Abbey and just about any other period drama – NO…. we’re generally rude, swear more than people would like to admit… But once you get to know us – we’re our own kinda awesome.

US Optimism…. Actually that is 100% true!! Only you can build your dream, but here in the UK we are more likely to chastise you for even thinking about it – and that alone has kept us in the dark ages for too long.

Here’s a couple of other things to note

A Bill of rights…. The UK is the only western country without one!
Freedom of speech protected by law – there is no such thing in the UK

How to Piss off a Brit and a Yank in equal measure without fail – and show yourself to be a complete dickhead:
Firstly I blame two movies for this
1, Smokey and the Bandit
2, Mary Poppins!
So how to do it? Simple, try to mimic the accent to the face of someone from the opposite country!! This means several things – you are in some way deficient in manners, and, if we think about it, intellect, humour, and most other things too.
So here’s the golden rule – DON’T  F * * * * * G  DO IT!!!!
Only other point would be to actually ask where someone is from before assuming they’re either English, Scottish, Welsh, Irish, Australian, South African, Kiwi, American or Canadian!!!

So back to how big is America? Well it’s huge and for the sake of argument we’ll just look at the lower 48 states for a start:
In the middle-ish lower part is a small looking state of Arkansas which looks like this:
Arkasa-onm-ap

A few famous names from Arkansas are Mary Steenburgen, John Grisham, Charles “Sonny” Liston, Billy Bob Thornton, Glen Campbell, Bill Clinton, Gauge, Johnny Cash,  to mention only a very few.

It’s population is 2,915,918 and it may surprise you to note that majority of England and Wales fits inside it! and we have a population of 64,950,131 So irrespective of population, our postage stamp size land mass shows the reality of our significance to the USA.
To make is a little more obvious, here is a map of Europe over laid on the US map and you see my point…
Europe-over-USA-Map

Finally those other two states Hawaii, which is just a small group of islands, no biggy there – but the other one, well that’s behemoth known as Alaska and a good chunk of the lower 48 states fits right inside of it.

Difference in visas and living in each country:
It is far, far easier to get a US Green Card than obtain a UK visa, even for a wife/partner!! And it costs a lot more too.
In fact, when we see politicians claiming “We’re open for business” trust me when I say – we’re not, not without a lot of front money.
In fact, assuming you were not moving from NYC or Palo Alto, you’ll find the UK vastly more expensive!
In the UK shops really do shut early and in the US, they really do stay open longer.

Food…. Oh where to start…
UK food is awesome!! Well the selection of it is. The UK didn’t have an Empire where the sun never set without picking a vast kaleidoscope of cuisine in the process, albeit people visiting the UK just after World war 2 would have found it very bland.

In the UK we do some great food variants – Indian cuisine is something for the most part I don’t think in understood very well in the US, and is now our national dish. Mediterranean and Arabic food, outside of NYC isn’t always easy to find.
BUT there are some thing our cousins do better that us!!

Sonic-Triple-Choc-Master-BlastThe US has a couple of things (or more) that we can’t compete with. Ok, several things actually, firstly lets just give a slight mention to Milk Shake: Not only can you go to a “Sonic Drive-in” and enjoy over 25 flavours of Milk Shake (and over 400,000 drink combinations) with your take out and that’s fine but!!! in the USA one thing is notable about Chocolate milk shake – IT tastes actually like Chocolate!!! Not that weak assed junk we get here in the UK.

Steak : The US does steak at the lowest level as good as ours from the best restaurants – they know steak and frankly we just don’t.
Mexican… You simply cannot find great Mexican food in the UK – it does not exist.

Drinks… When you eat out you are ALWAYS given water when you get to your table in the US… and refills of your soft drinks are free… In the UK you have to ask for water, pay for it and there are no refills – not ever, of any kind or anything. (this may be different for one or two US food outlets here).

So what is good in the UK?
Public transport, while not cheap is effective and you can get most places by bus or train.
The NHS… I know I know – it’s financially the black hole of Calcutta… and it may not be the most cutting edge treatment in the world at any given time. But it is effective, it does work and it will save your life and not even ask for your insurance details in the process.
Heck you can book an appointment with your Doctor twice a day, every day of the week if you wanted (Don’t do that btw)… and you will be seen, treated and sorted out with little cost other than for your prescription.

As a final point in both countries:

We may elect our leaders, but as soon as they’re in power we tend to dislike what they do… So to be judged by what your own government does is not only unfair, but it’s wrong.
I have seen this all over the world and even lost friends because of it (by lost, I mean in one case shot dead).
You, me, I, we are not our governments, we are not as portrayed as the media predicts.
So why do it to each other?!

One last point – Brits beat Americans in their loudness ;)

So you think you can drive… the End of an Era

I was 23 when I got my Class one Heavy Goods licence (CDL), I loved driving, I just wanted the learn the skills to be able to reverse something as big and heavy as a house into the tightest space – and I did. parking trailer 7side

A few years later and I bought a very old 1978 Range Rover with a 3.5 V8 because I loved climbing and spent my spare time in the UK’s Peak District trying to navigate rocky and muddy tracks in my car.
In no time I realised there was a ton of things I just didn’t know about driving off-road – but I loved driving, so what to do?
I ended up calling the Managing Director of Land Rover directly, we chatted, I told him my plight and my fear of either damaging the environment, the car and worse still – myself.
Land-Rover-Logo--newThree days later I was standing in an office in front of a man called Don Green [in all things Four Wheel Drive – he’s a legend].
I went on to spend the whole day driving the then factory high-speed test track and the once highly renowned Land Rover Jungle Track.
I was so impressed I said to everyone they should open a school.. They said they only train people who really need to know how to use the vehicles properly in off-road environments.

Two years later and I get a call… We’re setting up the “Land Rover Experience” would you like to come along and try it out? Camel Training Eastnor
I went, I qualified as a specialist, then became the 2nd person to ever qualify as an instructor (and when you consider no other manufacturer was running these courses – that’s kinda a big deal I guess). I learned the layout in great personal detail of the proving ground tucked away at Eastnor Castle and while it’s very much a commercial sales entity these days, I loved it. So armed with all things Land Rover, a 110 and issued overly embroidered overalls – I did it for a living!
Landy-Stuff
From Camel Trophy to vehicle testing I loved this incredible mentally tough system of driving and know-how; vehicle self recovery and winching, service and repair in the field, driving through water too deep and how to do it, expedition configurations, load bearing, tires, ice and snow techniques and so on. In fact I later took a telecommunications job in Saudi Arabia just to gain extreme desert experience – and my knowledge and skills were soon taken up by various parties. One of which became an issue with the MK 2 Range Rover, I flagged it up to Land Rover and it caused a redesign of the latest version being tested in South Africa at that time.
But these are bygone days, days, month and years of fond memories. 110 camel
Of course these days I maybe a little long in the tooth for people who believe that by simple ownership of a 4X4 means it’ll just get them through any situation – it’s a bit like this: If I bought a plane does it make me a pilot?!

We tested every type of vehicle made around the world in nearly every environment – but the one single vehicle that came out of even the worse situation was this

The Land Rover Defender 110

LandyThe venerable Landy… started production 68 years ago… and it’s just about to go out of production with no immediate replacement in sight – and that is a crying shame!!
It’s sold all over the world, but not in North America because they’re built literally by hand and Land Rover originally could not cope with the extra workload.

Sure I can tell you all the well-known clichés like 70% of all Landy’s are still running, and for the majority of the world, the first vehicle they ever saw was a Land Rover… but even if you don’t own one or you do and it never sees a field, mud, sand or frozen tundra – it’s still the most iconic 4×4 in the world – few beat it, nothing can replace it and to see it stop production is not just sad – it’s wrong…

This is the shoulder that all others stand upon…

New York City Snow Storm 2016

Blizzard 2016
The Neistat Way

Casey Neistat
Jesse Wellens
Dean Neistat
Oscar Boyston

NYC Snow (1 of 1)

NYC Snow (2 of 1)

To See the Behind the Scenes 

CLICK HERE

To see more of Casey Neistat and Jesse Wellens amazing stuff go here:

Casey  Youtube  :  Twitter :  Beme

Jesse  Youtube  :  Twitter  :  Beme

Please Sign This!!

Hi everyone,

I learned a long time ago never to get into politics, people feel just a little too passionate at times. But in the UK a petition has come up which, while it isn’t important to a great many, and certainly not if you’re not from or in the UK.
But they are changing the Visa rules in the UK which will affect thousands of people, families and loved ones here and around the world. The rule change is that if you’re not earning a minimum of £35,000 you cannot stay unless you’re from the EU.
Now, this is where I do have a problem… I believe that the UK has greater allegiances before Europe, these are to English speaking nations, then nations of the Commonwealth and finally the EU.
I mean no offence by this and I have no issues with race, colour, religion or sexuality, I respect all. I also believe that in the 21st century we should be one global people, but hey….
But this targets people who are here legitimately, who work, pay taxes and contribute in the welfare and well-being of the country.
My partner, spouse, better half Gabby aka Gabsatrucker is a US Citizen and the impact of this is huge – in a country that demanded proof of £68k in the bank to get a visa in the first place…  I think our system is wrong, and this is the final nail to this coffin.
So, if you are reading this, please take a moment to sign this online, I would truly appreciate this.  Click on the image.

petition

Published in: on 17 January, 2016 at 03:35  Leave a Comment  
Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

Devastating few months in British Music History

 

It obviously can’t have escaped many people’s notice of the close proximity of several deaths from the archives of British Rock history.
I don’t know where to go with this other than to add my little bit:
Music for me started in 1976, it was the early days of punk and when I got to boarding school, we had an amazing teacher called Adrian Schoeberl who, once a week would introduce us to a couple of different bands until we gained a vast spectrum of knowledge in the area and even took in a Buzzcocks gig once.
It was while at home on school break I watched a show called “The Old Grey Whistle Test” (star kicker) on the BBC when, before my eyes a live concert with a school boy running around grabbed my attention Old-Grey-Whistle-Test– and there born was my love of AC/DC.
I left the school and attended another in Sheffield and this was the first time I ever saw people wearing merchandise. A kid and later a friend came up to me and asked what bands I was into and he was wearing a Led Zeppelin and a Genesis badge, I said both names and he accused me outright of just reading his badges – well yes and no, I had every album by Zeppelin and nothing by Genesis.
As we flew into the 80’s we were so lucky, Sheffield City Hall was a major venue on the UK touring circuit back then and every major act played there. We also had the Top Rank Suite, The Wapentake (a rock pub), local bands like Def Leppard, Saxon and got to see everyone. Ozzy Osbourne’s Blizzard of Oz was a show that got me interested in Audio Engineering which I was fascinated with. Girlschool made me slightly more deaf in the right ear than the left – for life!! We saw everyone. And then I worked in a Merch shop right opposite the City Hall (gone now) called Impulse Records… the only place I ever knew of back then that sold the leather, studs and bullet belts – so much so that when touring bands finished sound check at the City Hall they’d come in to buy gear on their way to the Wapentake bar just down the street. It was a great time in my life.

Then it all changed, City Halls were taken over by Arenas, the record shop became a parking lot, the Wapentake changed hands and then changed names.Wap reopening ded.The only other bar with the a Rock reputation as close or even better than the Wapentake was a long way away, in another country in fact and I knew it would be highly unlikely to ever visit…

 

And then, 3 years ago I did, with Gabby aka Gabsatrucker. In fact I mentioned it briefly in the post LA to Sin City : Las Vegas
A life time later from 1982, and we had been shooting  about picking up a few things in West Hollywood and were starving hungry… a few blocks away Rainbow Logowas this little place : The Rainbow Bar & Grill… not the kind of name or  look from the outside you would associate with a bar like the Wapentake, but I’m told the name was from the Band “Rainbow”.
So we went, we parked and we entered… got a booth and ate a hearty burger… as it got later the faces of 80’s, 90’s and early 2k’s rock scene were everywhere, I was surprised I guess, but not star struck, it was like a reassurance that such great places still exist, where people can be themselves and no pretension entered into.
Age has had a strange effect on me, whether I’m becoming an old romantic or just that little softer – but as we left and a famous individual said “sup – brother” as an informal greeting  – I knew then I would probably return.

I miss music…
And as the deaths of Phil Taylor, Lemmy, the final demise of Motorhead and David Bowie sink home having left a true mark in history, I feel that in these rare places – they will always be as alive today and in the future as they ever were.

 

Motorhead-Raw-cut-out12345

I tweaked the album artwork for the purpose of this blog

John Lewis TV ad Parody for Camera lovers

If you’ve never heard of them, DigitalRev TV is a YouTube Channel that does ad hoc reviews for Camera gear – this is their take on the John Lewis Christmas ad

Published in: on 25 December, 2015 at 16:39  Leave a Comment  
Tags: , , ,

Vloggers Camera and Mic Gear

I must start by stating I’m not being paid by anyone to endorse or promote their own products here. Neither do I own any of them, only the items at the very bottom of the post. But highlighted text and images will take you to an Amazon product page which will help support this site if purchased there.

It’s no surprise that some everyday cameras and your phone will record video – heck some clever fella even came up with dedicated “Video Camera” ;)
So what is good, what is and more importantly what isn’t needed?

Strangely, a quick trip around YouTube will find some very high quality video vlogs, the images and sound are better than TV of 5 years ago.  Yet they’re generally not shot on $5000+ video cameras, so what are they shot on?

Well there are two killer quality point and shoot cameras on the market that are the go-to cameras presently: The Sony RX100 and the Canon G7X.
The Sony
Sony-Cyber-shot-DSC-RX100-png-blog-good

This comes in 4 models and the Mk IV version is around the £750 / $1000 mark, but unless you truly want 4K (which most cams will be in a couple of years) then at less than half the price of this is our next option.
The Canon
canon-powershot-G7-X-blog2

A Fraction of the price of the Sony and stunning video and audio quality!!
Both have pop-up screens that’ll face forward so you (the vlogger) can reference it to check you’re in frame.

Next up – the really good quality vlogging cameras – the DSLR!!70D-blog-picYes, a huge heavy weighted, big assed DSLR and nearly all of them shoot stunning video – but one often stands out as the go-to camera in this area, in fact main stream
video and movies have been shot using this… the Canon 70D.
The competition is great in this area and the only thing stopping people jumping to Sony a7’s is the sheer over pricing and their auto focus (which has come on leaps and bounds in the last year or so). That said, the Sony a6000 also produces stunning results, but its rear screen is not visible to the vlogger while shooting as it only offers a tilting screen sadly.
Add a stabilised wide-angle lens to your DSLR and you’re good to go…… Well not quite!!
DSLR cameras have generally terrible microphones, so bad sometimes that even with stunning professional audio software, there’s little that can be done to fix it.
Enter two Mic systems that work!! The Zoom H1 and the Rode VideoMic Pro

The Zoom H1 is all you need as a separate device that you sync with the video later. It’s great as it is and you can plug-in a lapel/seed mic and an ear/set of headphones if you wish…. And it’s cheap!!
Zoom-H1-blog

Next and by no means least – The Rode!!

Yes the phallus that sits atop a DSLR affixed via the hot shoe. A simple wire connects to the Camera’s mic input and you’re left with a highly directional mic that deadens most audio around it but not what it’s actually pointing at.
R0de-blog

Sure, there are other systems – but bang for buck always will leave you at this selection.

Mobile phones!
A blessing and curse are the years we’ve had of diabolical quality, then all of a sudden things changed – as I found out while borrowing the Motorola Atrix in 2011 and took these photos while walking about Washington DC.  These were first high quality pics I’d ever seen from a phone as you can see here:


Close scrutiny of it showed the name Carl Zeiss, which generally only means one thing – a Sony sensor!! In fact, Sony invested over $1.2bn in small sensor R&D in recent years and the results are staggering!
And so the manufactures upped their game, more and more with Sony sensors in them often exceeding 20 mega pixels.  They had to increase the processing power to be able to handle the images and today most phones have dedicated processors and ram to handle images.
Today the iPhone 6 and other phones at that competitor level are producing images that 5 years ago were only possible via high-end DSLR cameras and at the same time, has all but destroyed the Photographic industry through automated software that doesn’t take the best photo by far – but it takes ones that are very much good enough.
In fact the new Motorola X-Force has taken the bar to a whole new level and is worth checking out X Forcevideo and photo tests/reviews on YouTube! It’s indestructibility, processing power and 4K video is leaving the iPhone and most other competitors behind.

So throughout this evolution more and more vloggers are turning to their phones to make videos. And now with social media apps like Beme rapidly taking centre stage, it’s going to continue for a long time.

So what do I use?C920-Webcam
Well, at the moment I use the Logitech C920 Webcam!! The video I shot on the US road trips were shot on the Kodak Playsport ZX5 and at the lowest quality settings to lengthen the available recording time, but I could have shot them in 1080p, In hindsight, I should have done.

So there yoKodak-zx5-blogu are – you just need a phone or a webcam! Where possible record at least at 1080p and when finances allow, the cameras above will take you to a whole new level of video quality without spending a fortune (unless you buy Sony).

 

A final note: Action Cameras
A couple of years ago we bought a GoPro… I’m sorry, but I think very little of GoPro, or moreover – I think it’s overpriced junk that isn’t up to the job!!
If you’re looking into Action cameras, remember that you will require image stabilisation software at some point – but as for a far more cost effective action cam, have a look around – there are some very robust and cheaper cameras out there, like the SooCoo S60 which can be controlled via a wrist band and your Phone and certainly no worse than a GoPro!

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