Tuesday, 30 April 2013

Photo of the Week 17/04/2013- 30/04/2013

We've had a ton of images come in this week from around the globe and we've been hard pressed to choose one particular one. We thought we'd go for a slightly different type of architectural image on this one though, so behold....

This snap was taken by Sam, one of our friend's who is currently living in Japan. It's of Kinkaku-Ji Temple, which literally means temple of gold in Japanese.  Located in Kyoto, Japan it is amongst some of the greatest and most historical architecture in the world. This is a great destination for any of you traveller's who want to experience Asia!

Friday, 26 April 2013

#PrayforBoston #PrayforIran #PrayforPakistan… But what else can we do?

It seems like every other day there is another disaster in the world be it an explosion, an earthquake, a shooting and with each disaster comes a stream of sympathetic messages on Twitter, Facebook and other social media platforms.
Twitter users around the world can view certain phrases or words that are trending amongst tweeters; that is to say that people can see what is most being talked and tweeted about. Whilst it is nice to know that people are recognising the anguish and suffering of others in their hour of need, surely there must be more we can do than just tweet or like a page on Facebook?

   1)      Educate.
We need to educate the young and old about what is going on in the world and recognise that whilst it is a shocking and devastating to hear of the bombings in Boston, that these tragic occurrences are taking place every day around the world. Just because they have fallen out of the media spot light it does not mean they should be forgotten. It is only when we start to understand conflicts around the world and the consequences that they have on the people that we can begin to do more than just pray for people who are suffering.
Don’t take my criticism of the hash tag #Prayfor x-y-z as a means of me saying that it should not be tweeted or posted on social media platforms, but there has to be more we can do? We live in a world with so many ways of interacting and connecting to people across the globe – so why don’t we?

   2)      Write! Or Email!
Writing hand written letters has become a forgotten art, but with the advances in technology forever moving forward it is now even easier to send an email be it from your phone, tablet, computer, ps3… you see where I’m going with this.
Most newspapers have websites on which readers can write comments or even comment articles on current issues – so why not voice your opinions. Change does not happen in one day, but it’s important to share what you have to say and to discuss with others the cause of issues in the worlds and the ways in which we can begin to restore some faith in humanity.

   3)      Fundraise!
There are so many ways to fundraise for a cause you feel passionate about!
Here are some suggestions but there are lots more!
- Sponsored silence
-Cake Sale
-Sell your unwanted clothes or items
-Hula Hoop Contest
-Talent Contest
Whatever way you decide to fundraise, it’s a great fun way to raise money for a cause that’s important to and a brilliant way to educate friends and sponsors alike on why your causes is important

  4)      Travel!
An ambitious way of showing your support, but if you have the money, resources and time – then why not! Travel to an area in need of aid and volunteer. Not only will it look great on your CV but you’ll have an active role in helping those who most need help!
There is of course so much more we as individuals can do to show our support for those around the world worse off than we are, but I hope on reading this you feel inspired to go that little bit extra than a just a tweet or a post!

By Farah Chowdhury  (@seefaraway)

Bayern Dominate The Semi Final & The Transfer Market

This week, all is looking bright and sunny for the Germans. After already clinching the league title by a huge margin, for the first time since 09-10 as well, Bayern Munich came up against the very tough test of beating a Barcelona side, who were featuring in their sixth consecutive Champions League semi final.

Now most people, including myself, had written them off. Maybe they might sneak a win, 1-0 or something, at home, but then they'll get destroyed in the away leg. Well now, that destruction has got to be amplified and ramped up to annihilation mode from the Barca boys during the return leg, as they were absolutely trounced, 4-0, during their visit to Germany, with Thomas Muller taking the plaudits, after netting two goals past Victor Valdes.

And their counterparts and rivals, Borussia Dortmund also pulled off a shock win, beating Real Madrid 4-1, with Robert Lewandowski netting all four goals! So this week we have seen the Germans schooling the Spanish on how to play football, but there is one major problem.

Bayern Munich.

That's right, they're destroying every football hipsters dream, by basically buying out the Borussia Dortmund team for their buyout clauses. One Mario Götze, who is one of the brightest young stars in football today, has been bought out, as Bayern matched his release clause, of £32m. And on top of that, there is heavy speculation that Mr. Lewandoski will be following Mario to the Allianz Arena, although that particular story is not 100% confirmed, but looking very likely.

On top of that, Bayern will have arguably the best manager in the world leading them on, as they have managed to secure the signing of Pep Guardiola to replace the departing Jupp Heynckes.

What the main thing about Bayern is, is that they are buying a large group of young talent. They already have players such as Toni Kroos, Thomas Müller, Xherdan Shaqiri and David Alaba on the books, but now Mario Götze is joining that list too. All of these players will be around longer than ten years, but the only problem is they mainly all occupy the same positions, attacking midfielders, or wingers, which will create high levels of competition, and no doubt, unrest among the young players not getting chosen for the first team.

However, if Pep managed to keep Fabregas happy, when he went from star man at Arsenal, to also ran at Barcelona, I'm sure he can do the same with the youngsters at Bayern too.

The football world will be a scary place to be next year, especially if you're in Germany.

By Dan Lloyd (@DRL1990)

Tuesday, 23 April 2013

Photo of the Week 16/04/2013- 23/04/2013

Hey guys, we've had a quite a few entries for our first week! Thanks for all your images and epic photography skills. This week we've selected this awesome image taken in Barcelona by Aqeel Kasubi! 

Get your images in for next week! The competition still has 3 weeks to go! 

Thursday, 18 April 2013

The Graduated Anarchist

Source: Google Images

Today, whilst perusing the endless black hole of entertainment which is YouTube, I found myself clicking on suggested videos which I wasn’t even really interested in- We’ve all been there.

After zoning out for a bit, I realised I was staring at a screen and there was a girl talking about something or the other but I really wasn’t following and it was enough to capture my attention. On to the next one- Up popped a video with the title ‘Driving License Suspended’. “Looks like a rant or vlog video,” I thought to myself. Having recently paid a ticket myself, I thought this was something I could muster up some interest in. Listening to the video I was intently waiting for my cue to participate in the slandering of the system…. Still waiting… waiting. Wait what did he just say: it was his fault? I actually had to pause the video. For a second I was like “oh right its shock value, typical entertainer bullshit, but whatever, I’ll keep watching.” Anyways, he went on to talk about how he had received three tickets in the space of one month and simply due to the fact that he was lazy and didn’t pay them in time, his license had been suspended. Then came the shocker. He blamed himself for not having learnt the basic lessons of being able to function as part of this society which are generally taught inherently, throughout primary school, high school and university.  

Suddenly, this YouTube star and I had a lot more in common than I thought. The unorganised piles of letters and junk which I kept describing as “organised chaos” to my parents, became flagrant reminders that I’m an active part of this society whether I like it or not. Just because I don’t have someone setting a schedule for me anymore doesn’t mean the world stops.

Source:Google Images 

They train us from childhood to be good students, to have good grades, to get good jobs with a good income, whilst remaining good citizens as part of the system. Personally, this has always been something I have loathed from a safe distance because I genuinely thought the path was set in stone for me. It wasn’t until recently, after graduating more specifically, that I really began to think about the machine which moulds us into adults and spits us out the other end to go fit ourselves into another machine until we get a few years to enjoy life. I’m not slating anyone who has dreams of working with a big corporate because that’s just as admirable as any dream at the end of the day, it’s just that too many of us end up with a lack of direction and simply melt into a job or institution we have no real interest nor enthusiasm for. It was this realisation which, with all good intentions aside, completely warped my perception of what the last 21 years of my life have been about. I honestly thought that I had wasted 21 years on pointless nonsense. With that thought in mind I tried to forget everything I had learnt up until that point and unlearn all those machine taught tendencies. Nevertheless, this video gave me the perfect amount of paradigm altering perspective. I realised that although my outlook on life had changed for the better, I could not ignore the use of basic universal concepts such as time keeping and organisation I needed to break free of the mould. I had to address those bank statements, those letters on the desk from Student Finance about repayment of loans.

To really achieve anything, whether it is pursuing a job, cleaning your house, or starting your own business, you have to use what you have been taught to your advantage. I mean what really successful person starts their day at 1 pm on YouTube? Some of us may feel like we own the world and have it figured out, others may just be as lost as I am, but the key is to keep applying what you’ve learnt and never discard knowledge. Even if you hate traditional schooling and the system or society we live in, there are some universal concepts you need in order to forge your own path in this world. Even an anarchist would use a fork and knife to eat his full English on the morning of the revolution. 

Ask yourself, what skills do I have that can improve my situation today, whether that be keeping better time or organising yourself. It’s often the smallest steps which reap the greatest rewards. 

By Viren Samani (@VirenSamani1)  

Tuesday, 16 April 2013

Photo of the Month

It's truly amazing what we can perceive with our eyes. From beautiful sunsets to revolutionary moments, we are lucky enough to experience amazing things. Given we all have camera's nowadays, why not share those moments with the world? 

Here at The GradStop, we love a good snap of a timeless memory, and we've decided to run a monthly competition. Every month we will set a theme, i.e. Buildings, nature, people. Everyweek, from the entries we receive we will select a "photo of the week" to be displayed on the site, and then at the end of the month, the one with the most votes will win the competition and we will send you something awesome! 

So if you fancy yourself as a bit of an amateur photographer or even just see something which amazes you, please feel free to send in your images and share them with The GradStop Community! 

For this week the theme will be BUILDINGS/ARCHITECTURE 

Oh yeah, a few rules for the comp!

Entries must be submitted by SUNDAY of each week for entry into the following week's competition. 
The photo of the week will be displayed each Tuesday 
The photo of the month will be chosen on the final Tuesday of each month
Send all entries to thegradstop@hotmail.com 
Get Snapping!!! 

Monday, 15 April 2013

Stick The Kettle On!

A little late, but better late than never! I’m back to report on my findings of the Green-tea test!

What am I on about you’re probably wondering? Well, having read and heard through the grape vine that green tea was the way forward in achieving that flawless, spot-free skin we all strive to achieve, I thought I’d put it to the test.

Armed with my pack of Twinings Pure Green Tea, purchased from my local supermarket for a bargain £1.49, I couldn’t see a downside to my experiment. The worst that could happen is that I didn’t like the taste and my skin remained the same; best scenario my skin cleared up and I would forever be preaching the power of green tea!

The green tea test is simple; for a week I had a cup of green tea (yes the whole cup) and in the evenings I also washed my face with a cup of green tea.

Step one: getting used to the taste. Now I’m not a fan of new things and the taste is most certainly nothing to rave about, at first sip I was almost ready to give up but I couldn’t let my £1.49 go to waste! The bitter taste does get better with time, although personally, by the end of the week I was happy to not have to drink any more of it. A word of warning to the curious readers out there: cold green tea is most definitely a no no. Once you get past the bitter taste it’s actually quite refreshing and not as heavy as your usual cup of tea full of milky, sugary goodness!

Step two:  The green tea wash.  It’s simple, cheap and makes for a good cleanse after a hard day at university! All I did was make the tea mix but instead of using a mug I used a bowl and let the tea bag rest for around two minutes after pouring in the boiling water. Now if you are planning to try this out make sure you wait until the tea mixture has cooled down – a burned face is not a good look! After it had cooled to a reasonable temperature I simply used the green tea as I would use water and splashed it on to my face (avoiding my eyes) and then simply wiped my face with a flannel.

…And the outcome? Did I notice a difference in my skin? I most certainly did! Not only did my face feel cleansed and refreshed, as did my insides, my skin did appear clearer. Whilst one week isn’t long enough to see drastic effects I did notice some change – so for £1.49 a good result I think and worth a try if you’re looking for a cost effective alternative to expensive face washes and exfoliators.

If you’re a little apprehensive about diving in to a cup of green tea then fear not there are a multitude of products out there with tea tree extracts in them which work a treat on oily skin.  A recent product I’ve been using is Boots’ Tea Tree & Witch Hazel Exfoliating Face Scrub which works a charm and isn’t too pricey! But remember everyone has different skin types and they all react to products differently so don’t be afraid to have a little try of something different, be it a cup of green tea or tea tree face mask! 

By Farah Chowdhury  (@seefaraway)

Monday, 8 April 2013

UK MMA Rising Through The Ranks

Source: Google Images

I attended the ever popular UCMMA show on Saturday evening, and what a great night of entertainment they put on for us!

With 12 fights featured, only 3 went to the judges’ score cards, and knockouts aplenty occurred. The undercard started off fairly slowly, with a women's K-1 fight, and a semi pro fight, which were 2 of the 3 decisions on the card, the other being the main event, which means that all 9 bouts in the middle of that lovely sandwich ended with finishes.

One of my favourite moments was the anti-climactic finish on the undercard, where Jay Oliver tapped from strikes, and the crowd had no idea the match was over.

The real drama of the evening followed the fight of the night. Jamaine Facey vs Jordan Wright in a lightweight bout for the UK-1 title. It was a brilliant fight, which saw Facey get knocked down in round one, before he rallied, and knocked Jordan Wright down in the second round, and knocked him out cold in the third. It was an excellent fight, that featured a variety of great technical striking from both fighters, and there was one point where Facey hit Wright with a scissor knee, and blood spewed out of Wright's mouth.

Unfortunately, this was overshadowed by the reaction from the crowd. Displeased at the way Facey celebrated, two of Wright's trainers got in the ring and pushed Facey, while the crowd were baying for his blood, one fan even pressing himself up against the cage and shouting expletives at Jamaine, before promotional owner Dave O'Donnell stepped in, and brought extra security down the ramp to make sure nothing else happened, which thankfully it didn't, but there were kids in the venue as well, which makes it even more of a controversial affair.

Let's not shy away from the fact that this was a brilliant card, as UCMMA always is. If you live in London and like watching fights, UCMMA is the place to go for sure! Lots of exciting fights, you'll definitely enjoy yourself.

Other UK MMA promotions that are doing brilliantly at the moment are Cage Warriors and BAMMA, both of which have just finished shows, in London and Newcastle respectively, and they do feature more international talent than UCMMA do at the moment.

With all that said, and the new UFC TV deal coming through in August, it is a very exciting time to be a British MMA fan!

By Dan Lloyd (@DRL1990)

Thursday, 4 April 2013

A Fighter's Heart (Book Review)

Great, another book written by a Harvard kid trying to be on the cutting edge of a growing industry.” That was the first thought to enter my mind when I read the blurb; in that split second I had already figured out that this story would be nothing more than a cursory view and less that accurate view of the combat styles I loved so much. Nevertheless, the apparent lack of any real literature surrounding the aspect of combat, especially MMA and the new breed of combat sports, led me to take another moment to read some of the reviews provided to me by the Oracle, AKA Amazon Reviews. I was actually shocked to see a unanimous 5 star rating for this book. I assured myself it was still just a bunch of critics who probably had never been involved with martial arts in any remit. In any case, trying to back up my own assumption I ordered the book, eager to be disappointed.

What transpired was actually shocking. I was captivated from the very first page. Starting off as a lost graduate, pretty much like most of us, Sam ended up landing a job on a yacht which saw him travel the world and alight in Australia where his real martial arts journey began. From the outset, he tries to define what it is that he aims to achieve; he essentially wants to see if he can truly defend himself in a physical altercation. This is a strange feeling which most people who have ever entered a fighting gym or wanted to step into a ring/cage have probably battled with. It’s the constant sense of fear and worry that if it came down to it, could you protect yourself and your loved ones? Seems like a pretty basic feeling when you put it on paper, but in reality it’s a behemoth of an emotion to contend with. It seems like throughout his time travelling the world over the span of 7 years, training with the toughest guys on the planet, Sheridan makes the avid realisation that instead of this being a mere physical obstacle, it’s also a mental and spiritual obstacle which he must overcome.

To my delight, it became more of a memoir of a man’s journey discovering himself through fighting rather than simply his journey through the world of fighting- two very different things. It also did not fail in its authenticity. Like I stated before, I assumed, quite wrongly and foolishly, that this book would be a mere observational account of the art of combat and not really give any real insights. Instead, the raw truth is laid out bare for all to see. The harsh reality of sacrifice, blood, sweat, physical and mental endurance is never comprised simply to bring some Hollywood style action to the book. From the injuries which stopped Sam partaking in two fights, to the ego crushing defeat felt  on your first few times sparing in the gym, this book will resonate with not only fighters and lovers of the sport, but also those who are passionate about anything.  

Sheridan goes a long way to portray many of the fighters in the light which they should be portrayed in. Not one of a crazed cage fighter or menace to society, but rather, intelligent and charismatic human beings who have made choice to devote their lives to a craft and an art form. In many ways his analysis of fighting is scientific insofar as he deconstructs a lot of the stereotypes and the universal concepts which drive humans into combat. This is where the book truly shines in my opinion, as he explores the concept of ‘gameness’ and how this is actually universal across genders, occupations, race and status.

Sam leaves you thinking about struggle, commitment and victory in the broader context wondering what the place of ‘gameness’ is in today’s society of hypochondriacs. This book will truly shock you and hopefully provide you with a new perspective on a very much misunderstood part of society. 

By Viren Samani (@VirenSamani1)  

Wednesday, 3 April 2013

Chicken Shop

I got to check out Chicken Shop for a quick dinner last week. After an epic journey to Kentish Town, I finally got the destination only to completely miss the door for the entrance. You can’t blame me, I mean look at it. With nothing more than a recyclable bag hanging on the door, it’s easy to think it’s nothing more than a broom cupboard for its sister  restaurant, Pizza East, which is next door and owned by the same group.

Nevertheless, I finally made it into the basement restaurant and was transported back in time to 1950’s America. Everything from the low lighting to the blues music and the counter side seating, makes you feel like you are the hipster living out the American Dream. Don’t worry, that’s not pretentious at all. However, sitting down at the table, I realised this was another restaurant which was keeping up with the latest “no frills” trend which is sweeping London. On a Monday night it was busy and pretty much every table was full as well as the counter side seating.
On to the important stuff, the food. This place has quickly been gathering a name in London as the only place to come for chicken which surpasses Nando’s. This would have said a lot a few years ago but the way Nando’s has been going recently, it didn’t really lead me to expect too much. The menu is plain and on the wall.

You can either have a whole, half or quarter chicken, along with a choice of 4 sides. Pretty simple. We opted for a whole chicken and a quarter chicken on the side. We also decided to get one of each side. So that was corn on the cob with melted butter, butter lettuce and avocado salad, red cabbage coleslaw and crinkle cut fries.

After the first bite I could already tell what all the fuss was about. The chicken was perfectly grilled so that it wasn’t too dry on the inside yet the outside was nice and crispy. Nothing is left to chance and every part is grilled to perfection and served with a wedge of lemon which really helps the flavour. They also leave two sauces, a smoky and a spicy to accompany the meat. In terms of the price, a whole chicken is £14 whereas at Nando’s its £12.50, but the quality is noticeable in that extra £1.50. Usually my brothers and I devour meals which could feed two young families, but this time it was a push. It might have been the sides but I doubt it.

The side dishes were actually quite small in comparison to the behemoth of the main dish. But with that being said, it would have been a struggle to finish anymore food. Each of the side dishes were fresh and tasted great. They try to cover the range of tastes within the four dishes, but the coleslaw and the crinkle cut fries are my top choices.

After that herculean task of finishing everything we ordered, we noticed the dessert menu. Never ones to half ass a mission, we ordered one of each of the desserts on the menu. The Chocolate brownie, the Lemon Cheescake and the Apple Pie. Now, I had high hopes for the brownie as most of these American style places have awesome desserts. I was a little disappointed with it however. It was really crunchy but the whole macadamia nuts ruined it in my opinion. On the other hand, the lemon cheesecake was awesome with just the right amount of tanginess to taste lemon but to not be overpowering. The highlight though, the champion of them all, the king amongst men, was the apple pie. They make this in a traditional pie dish and bring the whole dish to your table, and scoop out a massive portion onto your plate. Apple pie is always a bit hit and miss, because usually people over or undercook the apples or have the pastry too dry or not enough cinnamon etc. but this was perfect. Probably the best apple pie I’ve ever tried. If you were going to go here and not eat anything else, you would be a fool to miss this apple pie.

Overall this place was amazing. It’s a bit out of the way, but if you’re on the Northern line it’s not too far from Kentish Town station and it’s definitely worth it. In terms of price, it’s in the same range you would pay for Nando’s (if you eat normal portions and not everything on the menu like we did). With more locations opening soon in Shoreditch you have no excuse not to check it out! 

By Viren Samani (@VirenSamani1)