Wednesday, 18 November 2015

Simon: My Temporary Leave of Absence from the podcast

That picture...again!
Hi #Treksters
As many of you may know (Phil & Jamie in particular) I am very passionate about the podcast. To the length that (at times) I will go above and beyond to make the podcast the best it can, which can manifest itself into a help or a hindrance.

Although most of the time it’s the latter (much to the annoyance of Phil & Jamie), which is why I have decided (after consulting with Phil & Jamie) to take a Temporary Leave of Absence from managing the podcast (between 17th December 2015-1st March 2016).

So I am writing this blog post to explain my reasons behind my decision.

Firstly, I’ve got to say that there’s no single reason why…but it’s all centred around the fact that I need to concentrate on sorting myself out. Because that’s something I’ve neglected to do, whilst I’ve been producing content for the podcast.
In my mind I’ve been unable to do both, as I’ve needed to know that (however stupid it sounds) the podcast would be ok without me there.

Now that we’ve been up and running for a year, I think it’s about time for me to take a step back…and for Phil & Jamie to take the burden. Something I’ve solely been responsible for the past three and a half years.

Which is why I want to focus on what’s important to me, my friends & family. As I feel like they’ve lost out (at times) when I’ve put my efforts into the podcast.

Me, Phil & Jamie together at Destination Star Trek London 2012 (DST1)
This has even effected my friendship’s between Phil & Jamie, as they’ve changed since we started (and later launched) the podcast.
In a way my friendships with them have become ‘cursed’ and ‘charmed’, because I obviously get to see them more often…which is fantastic!

But when we’re together, we just talk about the podcast. Which is stopping us concentrating on what started the whole adventure (our friendships), detrimentally causing friction along the way.

As I’m the main cause of all that tension (in one way or another) I’m going to step aside as Executive Producer (for a while) and ‘leave’ the podcast in the quite capable hands of Phil & Jamie!

Like I say this is only a temporary arrangement, as I’ll still be active here on the blog…and over on Twitter & Facebook (and our e-mail).
Meanwhile, backstage I’ll also be acting as an Advisor (or Consultant) to the boys. Who I’m quite sure will want some advice from me concerning the perils of running the podcast on a daily basis.

Me and Phil together
And it also looks like I’ll be taking over one of Phil’s jobs, as I’ll be the one who’ll be uploading our latest episodes up onto SoundCloud (our new home).

As you might expect with this kind of change (however temporary), there is likely to be some ‘teething problems’ while the boys are getting use to ‘running the show’ and everything that entails.

Podcast 'juggling act'
Because I’ve always described it (running the podcast) as being a bit of a 'juggling act'. Due to the fact that you’re desperately trying to keep everything going simultaneously…which is no small feat!

So I just ask that you give them a chance to get use to how much time & effort is needed in order to keep the podcast running smoothly (and on time).  

For more information about this please listen to our Science Fiction Regrets episode!

This comes into effect on Thursday 17th December 2015 at 00:00am until Tuesday 1st March 2016 at 00:00am.

This is Simon from The Engage Podcast signing out!

Thursday, 12 November 2015

Simon: My 'New7Wonders of the World' 2007 GCSE Resit Essay 2015 Remastered

A picture of me from 2007
Hi #Treksters
As you can tell from that very convoluted title, this blog post is going to be a blast from the past...well to be more precise a blast from my past!
Which I wanted to share with you, although before I get into the 'remastered' Sixth Form essay. I just want to give you a bit of expedition into what your about to read...and why it even exists!

As your quite aware I'm Dyslexic (and Dyspraxic), so I've always found it difficult to do numeracy and literacy (see previous blog post). Which makes it extremely difficult to get a high level (grade) in exams and coursework.
This meant that by the time I was studying my A-Levels (AS Levels in Year 12) at my Secondary School Sixth Form.
I had to resit my GCSE English, which was something I wanted to do. Because I needed a slightly higher level (grade) to get into university initially, before getting into the teaching profession.

The essay you're going to read is something I wrote (originally) back in 2007 (when I was 17)...but like I said it's been 'remastered' it.
So that it illustrates more of who I am today. Whilst still representing who I was back then, during that point in my life.
The other real reason why I have published this school essay, is because in it's original format my teacher though it was written to such a high standard that he used it as an example in his lessons. Which I thought was quite a compliment at the time!

This blog post (come former essay), is in answer to my English teachers question (similar to this...I can't remember):

"If you could choose seven modern Wonders from the candidates selected for this years New7Wonders of the World vote, which ones would you choose any why?!"

My new 7 Wonders of the World, and why I think they should be selected:

The Acropolis of Athens, Greece:

The Acropolis
The reason I chose The Acropolis in Greece is because it’s one of the most well-known tourist attractions in the whole world. The Greeks thought that The Acropolis was meant to “radiate power and protection for its citizens”. Which is interesting, as it shows how we’ve developed over time…and that we don’t think the same way as people did 1,000 years ago.

The Acropolis can also teach us so much about the Ancient Greeks. Unlike The Sydney Opera House, which was built in the early 1970’s and has no important information to tell us about the Australians. As it was built some 900 years later, and also because much is known about Australian culture from the 1970’s.

But for the ancient Greeks we have HAD to learn about their society, by looking at their writing and building designs such as The Acropolis.

So my question is; do you really want a 1970’s building in the 7 Wonders of the World?
As hopefully the list will be occupied by pre-1930’s buildings of the world.

 The Colosseum of Rome, Italy:

The Colosseum
The reason I chose the Colosseum is because it’s a structure which is known all around the globe. At the time, it’s was one of the largest structures around the world:

  • 48 metres high
  • 88 metres long
  • 156 metres wide
On each level (3 levels) there are 80 arches, making a total of 240 arches!

On the wooden arena area they placed sand to make it easier to ‘work’ on.
If you’re like me you’d expect the Colosseum to be a round circle…but we’d both be wrong as it’s actually an elliptical shape.
So that the ‘players’ wouldn’t be able to retreat into a corner, keeping the audience entertained for longer!!!

The Colosseum is made of 100,000 cubic metres of travertine stone was used in the construction.

As I mentioned earlier there are 3 levels where you can watch the entertainment from:

  • The podium: 1st level was for Roman Senators.
  • The area above the podium was for other Roman Aristocrats.
  • The 3rd level, which is divided into 3 sections:
  1. Lower part for wealthy citizens.
  2. Upper part for poorer ones.
  3. And at the very top of the building was for peasants to stand and watch only this was for lower-class women.
The Colosseum teaches us about how the Romans enjoyed themselves in ancient times. Where entertainment was more ‘real’ to us because now we have computer this, computer that and nothing really ‘real’ anymore and when we do go to the theatre it’s on very special occasions but for the ancient Greeks it was a daily occurrence.

But if you look at something like The Great Wall of China although it had a different purpose to the Colosseum the Great Wall of China is just a very large wall because the Chinese can’t be bothered to fight the attacking army!!!

So the question, I’d ask yourself is if you’d prefer to have a very large wall on the 7 wonders list or a place of entertainment?

So it should be a 7th Wonder of the World because this is a ‘snapshot’ of Roman life. But some may argue that the great wall is seen from space but nothing is more valuable than a snapshot in time in my opinion.

The Eiffel Tower in Paris, France:

The Eiffel Tower
The Eiffel Tower is the ‘brainchild’ of the French engineer Gustave Eiffel in order to celebrate the centenary of the French Revolution.

Gustave Eiffel
It was also built to act as the entrance “arch” for the 1889 World Fair (Exposition Universelle in French), which was strangely being held in Paris.

The construction of the Eiffel Tower
 Back to the modern day, the tower is visited by a staggering six million visitors every year.
  • Metal structure weighs 7,300 tons.
  • Total weigh of 10,100 tons.
  • 300 workers built it and 1 died.
  • 18,038 pieces of puddle iron (pure kind of structural iron) had to be joined.
  • Using 2.5 million rivets.
  • Every 7 years, 50 tons of paint are applied to protect it against rust.
  • On the 1st floor there are interactive screens, which let visitors give their opinion on what colour should be applied in the future.
Some people may argue that the Eiffel Tower is just a tower well to argue for the Eiffel Tower you could just say that the Sydney opera house is just a “beautiful building” with its ideas of “abstraction and creativity” but the Eiffel tower is a symbol of “challenge and progress” (source

This is because it was a challenge to build it and shows the progress the French people have made in the time since the French Revolution.

The Kremlin and St. Basil’s Cathedral in Moscow, Russia:

The Kremlin
The Kremlin was originally built in 1156 for the residence of Ivan the 1st, since then it’s become the centre of Russian statehood and the residence of the czars and the hierarchs of the Russian Orthodox Church.

In 1367 to 1368 the white stone walls and towers of the Kremlin were erected and from the colour of the walls Moscow became being called “white-stone”. In 1485 to 1495 the Kremlin was rebuilt and this is the one we know today.

St Basil’s Cathedral
The St Basil’s Cathedral is less known by the name Cathedral of Intercession on the Mound…is it just me or did they get bored naming the cathedral?!
Because I think they added to the end of the name “on the Mound” for a laugh!

The Kremlin and St Basil’s Cathedral should be picked because where else would you hear a comical Cathedral name like the Cathedral of Intercession on the mound?!
Because I very much doubt you’d hear an English cathedral doing the same.

As this is the sort of conversation you would get if the Archbishop of Canterbury went to a PR (Public Relations) agency to get Canterbury Cathedral renamed-

Archbishop of Canterbury: “Excuse me can you help me please?”
Assistant would say: “Ok, what are you looking for?”
Archbishop of Canterbury would go “We’d like our cathedral remembered all over the world”
Assistant would say: “Well there’s two options available to you, as you can either-
  1. "Rename your cathedral with a comical name".  
  2. "Or you can become a DJ".
Archbishop of Canterbury: “…O ok then in that case I’ll rename Canterbury Cathedral!”

The Pyramids at Giza, Egypt:

The Pyramids at Giza
The Pyramids at Giza were built between 2,600 and 2,500 BC the 3 pyramids are made of a total of 5 million sandstone blocks that were transported using ‘primitive’ techniques by our standards.

There were two main techniques used to get them to Giza, the first was by putting the sandstone blocks on a timber sled and by pulling it.

The other technique they could use, involved rolling the blocks over the top of logs. The Egyptians believed that represented a link between heaven and earth, which were directed at Horus, who as you all know was the Egyptian god of the world!!!

I think the pyramids should be a 7th Wonder of the World because there are still some mysteries about the pyramid’s which will never be answered.

For example:

Who constructed them? Was it slaves, who were really badly treated or were they probably very fed up paid workers? No one will ever know the answer to that question...which is the mystery.

I think it should be a 7th Wonder of the World but others may argue that the Statue of Liberty is symbol of The United States of America but the pyramids are one of very few symbols of Africa.

The Taj Mahal, India:

The Taj Mahal
Shah Jahan who was the 5th Muslim Mogul emperor built the Taj Mahal in memory of his beloved wife a Persian princess who was born as Arjuman Bano begum but was better known as Mumtaz Mahal.
Shah Jahan (right) and his wife Mumtaz Mahal (left)
Mumtaz was a huge influence on Shah’s life and policies but the sad thing is she died at the age of 39 giving birth to their 14th child in 1631.

On her deathbed her last wish to her husband was “to build a tomb in her memory such as the world had never seen before”. So he built exactly that and that is what we see today.

Shah himself is laid next to his wife at the Taj Mahal, it’s said that when his son overthrown him. He was imprisoned in the nearby Great Red Fort for 8 years, where he could see the Taj Mahal out of his small cell window.
  • Built between 1631 and 1648.
  • 20,000 workmen employed on it daily.
  • Specially built town next it called “Mumtazabad” named after the deceased empress.
  • Materials brought from all over India and central Asia with the help of 1,000 elephants.
  • Central dome is 57metres or 187 feet high in the middle.
The reason I think the Taj Mahal should be selected to be a 7 wonder is because I can’t a better symbol of love and passion (source and I don’t see a couple building a structure similar to it in this day and age for example:

Women-“To build a tomb in my memory such as the world had never seen before”

Man-“Love, have you realised that we’re in debt so I can’t build you this fabulous building sorry”.


Other’s may argue that it’s a little over the top for love…although I wouldn’t go back in time and say to Shah Mahal “excuse me Mr Mahal don’t you think that’s a little over the top?”
As if you did…you’d probably be hanged just for saying it. He really loved her and he wanted to for fill her last wish, so I think the Taj Mahal is a great symbol for love and passion.

Stonehenge, Amesbury, United Kingdom:

Stonehenge is a Neolithic and Bronze Age megalithic monument. With only half of the original monument remaining.
As over time, some of the stones have fallen over, or have been carried away for building and repairing farm tracks.
The site has unfortunately over the centuries seen it fair share of intrigued visitors (and tourists) who have chipped souvenirs off the stones, greatly reducing the sight we see today.

Stonehenge was built in 3 stages/phases:
  1. 1st monument built around 3100 BC and it was a circular bank with a ditch enclosure probably for keeping livestock amazingly enough the enclosure was dug by hand using animal bones as shovels and deer antlers as pick-axes with 56 holes were around the edge of the bank to hold wooden posts.
  2. In about 2500 BC Stonehenge was rebuilt but this time using sandstone from Preseli Mountains in Wales 245 miles (380km) away. The stones were probably dragged to the sea then floated on huge rafts up the river Avon and dragged on site this is when one stone weighs about 5 tons. 
  3. About 200 years later in 2300 BC the bluestones were dug up and rearranged and bigger sandstones or sarsen stones were incorporated.
  4. Then 700 years later in 1600 BC monument building at Stonehenge seemed to have stopped.
Stonehenge is surrounded in lots of mythology, for example:
  • Since it’s aligned north-east/south-west there's a theory that astronomical rituals involving solstice and the equinox points.
  • For instance on a midsummer’s morning the sun’s rays went directly into the centre of the monument between the horseshoe arrangement.
  • But other scholars argue that Stonehenge was the destination of a long ritualised funerary procession.
  • The old legends think that Merlin the wizard had a giant build Stonehenge for him, or that he had magically transported it from Ireland. Others say that the devil built it.
So I think Stonehenge should be a 7th Wonder of the World because then the British people will have something to be proud about. Well if you think about it for a Stone Age man it’s not that easy to get stones weighing 5+ tonnes to a field in the middle of nowhere and putting them upright.

Others may argue that the British people HAVE got something to be proud about but we don’t just look at the sport at the moment and then you’ll see what I’m on about!!!

I hope you've enjoyed reading this blog post!
Hopefully it's given you a better understanding of how much my writing abilities have improved since then!!!

This is Simon from The Engage Podcast signing out!