Wednesday, September 02, 2015

A Commanders Log

These are the voyages of the starship sleepy pete, her ongoing mission to avoid black holes, seek out new galaxies and to boldly go where no computer ninja has gone before..........

A friend gave me that quote and I thought it was perfect. I think I'm going to have fun with this one, it's going to be very role play. I hope you have fun and a few chuckles too while you read it. Here we go :

Stardate  3301.08.23
This is it ! We're setting off today. My Asp class explorer ship, the "Is This The Right Place For The Shauns ?" is all fitted out, kitted out, stored out and I'm eager to set off on the way, point the ship towards the black and head off in the direction of the Galactic Core. It's a trip every starship commander has to take at some point in their career.

It's a solo expedition with no one but me and Sitana, the ship's personal assistant, to talk to and I'll be pacing myself. I don't know how long I'll be so I've taken advantage of a craze sweeping Imperial Space where society has looked back 1300 years to the beginning of the 21st century. My ship leisure computers are all loaded with the fiction, music and a little bit of the culture too. Hell ! When I'm 1300 light years away, I'll be able to turn the sensors back at the Sol system and see what we were all up to. The scanner will reach that far won't it ? It's a weird feeling in our Faster Than Light society. We can look back along our track and see where we were a little while ago. Eerie.

What am I doing ! Time to get out there. The plan is to head 2,000 light years to galactic clockwise so I don't repeat my track coming back as going there. Then it's straight into the core.

Stardate 3301.08.24
DISASTER ! The hangar monkeys have really let me down. The freezer is bust ... Guess that's me on the backup MREs (Meals Ready to Eat) for the rest of the trip. This is not good. I'll start on the MREs for tomorrow. There's ice cream in that freezer and I'm not wasting it.

We covered good ground today and yesterday. The stellar-nav can plot out to 1,000 light year trips, which works out at 33-36 hyperspace jumps. The heating as you come out and fuel scoop is being a problem. That heating/cooling cycle gets to me and I can manage 4 of those 1,000 light year legs before I need to take a rest and dive into that 20th/21st culture. For the non-pilots reading this, we come out of hyperspace right on top of the dominant stellar object, be that a star or black hole or multiple stars. You really have to be on your toes. If you get tired and the reactions slip, you can easily bounce off a sun while avoiding another one.

That's really bad for the complexion.

Stardate 3301.08.27
You may have noticed I missed a couple of days. I think I had the Cerberus Plague. Special Heike Tea sorted me out. I had some on hand and was planning to use it to celebrate when I got to Sagittarius A*, our supermassive black hole. It definitely wasn't the steak I had which made me ill. It was going to be the last proper meal before switching to the MREs. I've been in my rack trying to stay alive but I'm all good now. Ready to hit the stars and head off again.

Stardate 3301.08.28
Hurrah ! Back in the groove. Another few legs done. We've reached the bulge where stars get far more dense. In populated space, stars are maybe 7 to 10 light years apart. Maybe more. In the core, you have tens/20s of stars all within 1 light year of each other. It's a nightmare for the stellar-nav, it takes ages to plot the next leg of the trip. I've been zipping through most of that with jumps of 30 light years at a time.

Kind of a rush there and back. Definitely motivated by being on those MREs ! And a limited supply of popcorn, plus I want proper coffee again ... It's not the same without milk (also a victim of the freezer/fridge incident).

Stardate 3301.08.29
We're getting really close now. Going to make a big effort to get to Sagittarius A* before I have to hit my rack. I have to say, I'm loving this 21st century music. There are a couple of groups called Alisha's Attic and The Cardigans who are taking the edge off being on my own all this time. I'm really missing the Pretty Ladies Commanders who keep me company chatting over the comms and definitely missing those bubbly chuckles. I think the ships computer is trying to keep my spirits up by saying "Friendship Drive charging ..." (it's actually Frame Shift Drive but there's a huge accent there)

Made it ! God Damn. Staring at a supermassive black hole from just a light minute away is pant wettingly, brown trousery scary.
One thing about this trip, the various sights I've seen have made me look up Wikia Galactica to see the science behind what I'm seeing. Sagittarius A* looks like a globe of deadly nothing. You can see its eye in the picture. It is the abyss. The stars curl around it as you fly by, engines straining to maintain position. That's gravitational lensing. You're actually seeing two images of the star, the direct path of the light plus the light after being bent around the black hole. The science people do really clever stuff with that. Way cleverer than I can understand.

WikiaGalactica has info on the stars too. You can only refuel at certain stars. Old stars aren't kicking out the hydrogen any more. They're no good. T Tauri stars are too young, they're not burning their hydrogen like "Main Sequence" stars. Stars in the middle are just right and you can fuel up at them. It's fascinating the science behind it. We are made of elements only created in stars (and particle accelerators and fusion reactors but those are meh). It's part of the beauty of the cosmos.

See ! Not just a redneck bootneck Commander who wouldn't know a wrench from a socket ! I read too. Been enjoying catching up on my reading and definitely haven't been playing Galaxy Of Goblins in my downtime. And you will never find any evidence of the AgriVille games.

Stardate 3301.08.30
Started heading back from the Core today. The stellar nav is having a massive nightmare. I had to restart it a couple of times to even get 500 light year legs. I'm heading to the Great Annihilator today. It's a system 3000 light years from Sagittarius A*, in the homewards direction. More later.

OH MY GIDDY SPACE AUNT.

The engines drop you out only 6000km from Great Annihilator A. That's close enough to still make out the poor unfortunates caught in the time dilation as they got too close. GA A is the first black hole in this system. The engines really don't appreciate this. This is way scarier than the core. You come out a light minute away from that monster. I swore as I banked away, my right arm felt drawn towards it. Gravity ... sucks ?

Great Annihilator has 2 black holes and a few other solar bodies. It's a really scary place. You've heard of Condition Green, Yellow Alert and Red Alert ? Well this is Condition Brown and White Knuckle Alert state. I'll let you guess what the Brown relates to.

Stardate 3301.08.30 ... a little bit later.
There are things more scary than black holes.

There is a spider on the ships canopy. It is looking at me. You'll be relieved to know that after Condition Brown, the no 1 spacesuit is in the wash/recycler and I'm in my spare. I had been feeling a curious itch like my hairs standing on end. I'd put that down to the heating and cooling of fuel scooping. Apparently I was wrong. Apparently I had a hitch hiker in my suit.

(This gap represents text from the audio log which has been automatically deleted by Sitana - it could not have been printed anywhere due its graphic content and repeated use of unprintable colourful dialogue).

I am now in my spare spacesuit as the other cleans. I do not plan to leave this spacesuit until the spider situation is resolved. There is a problem here, as it seems to know how fragile spaceship canopies are. If that goes, you're so dead. These ships can only be flown from the cockpit, they're not big enough to have a reserve flying station. You can escape into the living area but that then becomes your tomb ...

So you can see, a really bad situation as I head back to civilisation. Better make it quick. It's not nice to spill the popcorn down your spacesuit.

Stardate 3301.09.01
Hurrah ! Spider situation has been resolved. I took emergency measures. Have you ever spent 3 solid days inside a space suit ? Trust me, you really don't want to. I'll spare you the details. Remember what I said about the air situation in these ships ? The ships can recycle the air pretty much forever but they don't have that much spare. So I weighed up the options :

Share my ship with a spider that had a talent for getting in really uncomfortable places.
Suit up, SPACE THE BUGGER and sacrifice some of my limited air reserve to the void.

The spider is still out there somewhere.

I dropped it off near a barely hospitable planet designated LV426. That's not going to cause problems down the line. It's not like that canopy is exposed to solar radiation (that's the other reason we wear the spacesuits) that could mutate a spider with an enhanced survival instinct into anything nasty.

Stardate 3301.09.02
Been getting kinda lonely. But it's almost time to rejoin civilisation.

Two stages in the trip today - the first took me to within 400 light years of my final destination. Then I thought I'd better make myself presentable again. Clean spacesuit. Clean Commander. Explorer's Beard consigned to the waste disposal. It wouldn't do to get dragged off and hosed down before turning in all the juicy exploration data.

It is really good to be back home. The Core bathes you in the cosy glow of 1000 million stars (I dunno, that's what it feels like !). As you leave that central bubble, the star field gradually lessens until it's just you, the endless black and your thoughts to keep you company. And Sitana. One of those 21st century films I watched was Moon and I think Sitana was taking notes from the AI guardian in that film. She started flashing up emoticon signs on the displays. I hope the computers survive the last few light years.

Stardate 3301.09.02 a little bit later
Home again ! This entry is being dictated from the Adder And Abacus, a charming little old style bar where I'm really enjoying that first steak since ... oh dear. Bad memory. Pizza later. I really need that decent food again since surviving on the Rat Pack MREs for so long. The next trip will have a backup freezer.

Enough resting ! Time to turn in all that exploration data. Next plan ... This ship has got me through so many light years but I'm definitely feeling the need to paint it black, hunt down where galaxy renowned (and definitely infamous) Disaster Zone are playing their next UltraMetal concert and donate it to the classic Quantum Bomb Star Dive climax. Let's just say they only play in a system ... once.

Commander Iceangel, signing off. For now.

Sunday, August 30, 2015

Testing

So I now have a new keyboard ...

The pooter fair was a bit ... poo. I'm used to the big fairs that used to run in Lincoln and another one, more local, that ran in Whitchurch. They'd have a big sports hall filled with vendors selling all sorts of shiny kit. Old pooters, bits for new pooters, junk, accessories for phones, unlock your phone on the spot people, games, dvds (usually pirate), bluray selling people. Those kind of vendors. I even saw a G4 Powerbook Mac on sale ... Definitely a relic now, although still usable if you could find the software for it.

Lots.

The new Bristol ones are a fraction of the size. Still worth going to if you want those bits of junk without having to pay the extravagant prices you can pay but ... a fraction of the choice available from the old fairs. And mentioning prices, I saw a GeForce960 graphics card there which may have been interesting ... however :

Price at first glance was £115. Price online starts at £160, so you think ... BARGAIN ! And then you see the thin circle turning the 1 into a £195. Oh dear. Perhaps the prices aren't quite as competitive. To be fair, the margins on online sellers like Novatech, Dabs, Scan, Overclockers UK are so thin that it's incredibly tough to compete. The advantage you get at the pooter fair is being able to take away the posting and packaging fees and hassle of having to be in when they deliver. It's why Novatech was my vendor of choice for bits for so long, they were just down the road, a short car drive away. The disadvantage with pooter fairs is the guarantee, I doubt whether any of the tech you buy at one would have a guarantee as soon as you walk out the door.

So no stuff at the fair today so what am I testing ?

I have a fairly shiny (ok, it's matt black so not shiny at all in the literal sense) Turtle Beach Impact 100 keyboard. It's not a mechanical keyboard but it feels ... reassuringly heavy. As in something that'll hopefully be reliable for a good few years. Needs testing.

And that involves this post - hurrah ! I've been struggling for ideas for posts lately, I've been needing the idea that becomes the genesis of your typical Wall Of Text (with occasional picture). And I don't think you want to be reading that many about what I'm doing in the games. The virtual worlds are interesting to me and cathartic in an escapism kind of way but ... it's quite personal ? The experience is mine, it's tough to transfer the sense of wonder that comes from seeing a massive starfield and ...
The eye of a supermassive black hole ... That's the virtual representation of Sagittarius A*, the engine at the centre of our galaxy. Theory says that every galaxy has a supermassive black hole, this is my Asp ship about 60 light seconds away from ours. That's about as close as I wanted to get ... Some people go in closer and it could have been a quick shortcut for getting back to base.

It's incredible the effects that have been put in to the game, the attention to detail. The black hole itself is ... somewhere there in the middle. One reason you can't see the centre is that the matter on the edge, the Event Horizon, is subject to such extreme time slow down that it is still collapsing ... The comment I put with the Facebook pic was "I think it's staring back at me". Stare long enough into the Abyss and the Abyss will stare back. A (in?)famous philosopher said something like that.

You can't see into the black hole, because the light doesn't come out. That's why it's called a "black" hole, because it has so much gravity attraction that even light cannot escape. But ... light will bend around it. On the left of the pic is the Milky Way ribbon (probably shouldn't be there !), which has bent around the black hole instead of being straight. As you fly around the hole, the stars appear to move as in a globe around it. You can see a lozenge pattern, which is reflected and refracted light.

It's an outstandingly pretty effect. Perhaps that's part of our sense of : This Is Insanely Dangerous, Therefore It Is Beautiful. I've known some people like that. The animal kingdom has it, certain plants definitely have it in a "Eat me, die and become my compost" kind of way.

Here's a bit more from Wiki about Black Holes. Astronomy is fascinating isn't it ? There were a couple of fantastic Stargate SG-1 episodes which tackled black holes too. Of an excellent series, these were some of its highlights.

Back to reality ... Sun's come out !

Part of today's plan had me thinking about going out for more Shaun hunting. Some ... medium? rain made me think twice about that but you also have ... People on bank holidays. People are fine. Lots of people together, not so much.

People online are a bit like that as well. If you met them in a social situtation, they'd probably be ok. But one thing that turns me off the online gaming with other people is the Pulling Legs Off Spiders tendency. You know, where people think they should be behaving very abnormally to others just because they can. The internet troll who thinks it's ok to be an absolute beast to other people.

There's one of those in Elite at the moment, they first got in touch as "Thargoid_Scarab", now they're known as "Officer Sphincter". Who would use that name ? What's silly is that this person has paid £40 for an account in order to be using the game. Their first (and last) message to me was "Ahoy fag". How offensive is that ? I didn't reply but gave them about half an hour to come up with something ... that someone would actually say without expectations of being punched. But they didn't, so I blocked them. And they've been trying to become friends numerous times since.

I think I may actually know this person. It could be a colleague who has just bought the game. If so, I'll be having words on Tuesday. There are many meanings for "Fag" and they are all bad. If that's what this colleague really thinks of me, then ... I'm unlikely to be helping him very much in the future unless an apology is forthcoming.

There's only one way to deal with Internet Trolls - and that's to give them no attention. Don't feed their egos. I don't think it's the colleague but we'll see what he does on Tuesday. If he says nothing, I'll assume it's an internet troll who knows me by my commander's name, it's an online name I've used for 10 years now and there were a few trolls who caused me hassle in Warcraft. I'll then report said player to the devs and ... they'll probably lose that £40 account.

Being nasty doesn't get you anywhere in the end. It's not just games. The internet gives people a place where they can be mean without much fear of repercussions. You see similar behavious on the roads where drive extremely dangerously and then make out like it's your fault when you give them a "You nearly hit me !" hoot. Cyclists are especially bad for that.

Perhaps this is why I like to disappear into the single player games ? Because they're an alternate world that's subject to known rules and there are none of the people who were never told off for pulling the legs off defenseless critters.

Be good to people.

Oh and the keyboard is feeling pretty nice.

Friday, August 28, 2015

My God, It's Full Of Stars

Bank holiday time !

Ok. Maybe not something to get amazingly excited about but it is an extra day off over the weekend. Actually, it can be a bit of a nightmare sometimes as the bank holiday weekend is a favourite for people taking breaks away. Which turns the roads into car parks.

I won't be going that far this weekend, although I do have some plans.

First up - I'm enjoying watching the England Ladies play the Aussies in Twenty 20 cricket. Ladies cricket is played with the same rules and equipment as the men but the different physique turns it into a slightly different game.

The fastest bloke bowlers go up to 95mph now, international bowlers average around 85mph, county bowlers go up to 80mph. It's rare for a female bowler to reach 75mph, there are only 2 in the world who can do this at the moment (Katherine Brunt of England, Elyse Perry of Aussie). It's similar with the batting, where they don't have the power to brute force the ball over the boundary.

I think it's a better game to watch. The professional men's game is littered with errors usually coming in through testerone overdoses. The bowling tends to be woefully inadequate, spraying the ball all over the place. When I watch the professional men and compare it to the players I'd face, I faced slower bowlers but they were very difficult to get away because they were extremely accurate.

The women are similar, power is substituted for skill and precision. Sarah Taylor is the best wicketkeeper in the world, in my opinion. She'll stand up to all our bowlers except Katherine Brunt and does an exceptional job there. It's a joy to watch her work and see that skill on display.

Sadly though it looks like Aussie will probably win this game, England have a low target to chase but have lost too many wickets already.

Stars ?
I'll make more of a dent in the trip to the centre of the galaxy this weekend. That's maybe halfway there, getting over a boundary where the density of stars in our galaxy gets very much higher. That shows in the game with far more Pretty Shiny Starry Thingys appearing in the background than you see in the populated areas.

It makes for a very pretty game.
The blue diamond thingy is where I was when I hit halfway, I've done another 1,000 light year leg since then. If I get some good sessions in over the weekend, I may get there and back before a new community goal to "Map the Cosmos" finishes. That's possibly ambitious though. We shall see !

It's not all Pretty Pilot Pic Gathering though. The men play their Twenty 20 finals tomorrow, which is a long day of cricket watching. There are rumblings that the format of playing 3 games for the final day is bad, you definitely lose interest by the end of the day. Those games will substitute the skill of the girls with brute force brawn.

I think I'd rather watch the ladies to be honest ... and not just because I'm a sucker for a Pretty Lady Smile.

Sunday may see me head off for more Shaun Hunting. I thought about going round some more today but ...

It felt like the Long Screwdriver Merchants (we have lots of those at work) had been digging their long screwdrivers into my ribs - big ouchies.
Poorly ankle that didn't want to work properly.

It's wierd to think it's my insides that are now slowing me down, as my outsides recover.

Sunday's tabled for keyboard hunting as well, there's that pooter fair on. If I don't find anything there, I'll get a Turtle Beach Impact 100. The Amazon reviews seem to like it. A case of Good Enough, Not Spoiled. The current fashion/trendy item with keyboards is the Cherry mechanical switch. It (allegedly!) makes for a good keyboard but if the box it's in is rubbish, the quality (and high cost) of the keys doesn't give you any benefit. Cherry make their own keyboards but put them in a poor quality case, whereas one of the strengths of the Turtle Beach keyboard is a high quality case.

Hopefully I'll be able to check one out on Sunday. With stuff like keyboard, mouse and screen, they're very personal items. Different people get on with different types.

And then it's more cricket to watch on Monday as the ladies play again, followed by the England men taking on the Aussies.

Fairly busy weekend !

Of course the plans could change in the blink of an eye if an offer to spend time with a Pretty Lady comes along.

Cos that beats everything else.

Enjoy your weekends !

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Hunting Shauns ? Hunting Tech

I've had my eye on a few techie items for a little while now.

The first one is a keyboard as I think I'm battering this one into submission. It's getting stiffer with age and it's missing the very occasional keystroke. So I'm looking for a keyboard.

First thing I'll say here is - a keyboard is a very personal thing. You need to know if you're going to get on well with it. Will your fingers dance across it or will you find yourself doing a wrist punishing, RSI inducing finger pounding mashing of it, followed by having to check what you typed for all the typos coming in due to the inadequacies of the keyboard.

So you'd like to check out the feel of the keyboard. If you're buying a monitor, you want it to have a source that clearly shows its capabilities. Same with a mouse. PC World don't appear to believe in this ... perhaps they don't want the sales ?

In Bristol, their cheap keyboards are on display and ... they're fairly buyable. But ... they seem to think of wireless as a good thing ... Avoid wireless keyboards and mice unless you have an incredibly good reason to get them. Like if you're using your PC as a media centre and want to control it while sitting in front of the telly watching a movie. A wire for the keyboard and mouse is fairly essential in my view. It makes them totally immune to interference (this is a big problem) and means you don't need to buy batteries for them.

Their expensive keyboards stay in the boxes. This seems to be a Bristol thing as the ones in Lincoln were on open display. I'm not going to spend over £50 on a keyboard if I can help it. I'm definitely not going to spend money on a keyboard if I can't investigate what it feels like to type on and that includes the £10 jobs.

My next place to investigate is the computer fair at BAWA on Sunday. It'll be curious to go there for two reasons :

Not been to a computer fair for years, there's usually lots of goodies on display to catch the techie's eye.
It's the place where Nose Job 1 happened and I've rarely had cause to go back there since that happened.

It'll be wierd to see that pitch again. After that incident, I refused to play at that ground again. Not because of the Nose Job incident, mainly because the square was a bit of a marsh that grabbed at my feet and caused me numerous problems with my leg muscles. It's about the closest I've come to a proper hamstring tear instead of just the simple cramping problems. I was playing for two teams at this point and it was taking a toll on my hours at work.

What keyboard am I looking at ? It's the I-rocks K50 (I know - that's an awful name). It's in the middle between the membrane keyboards you'll be familiar with and the gamer special (translation - add a 0 to the price) mechanical keyboards that PC World won't let you check out. The answer is to check places like Amazon who have authentic customer reviews which tell you how these things work when confronted with average users who ain't happy if they break after a week.

We'll see what's at the fair.
I'm also checking out monitors. Which is a bit daft considering that the 23" widescreen 1080-all-sorts-of-happy-techie-stuff-jargon monitor that I have is doing pretty well still. It's still clear and bright, monitors tend to burn out after a while.

And it does give extremely nice looking sights in Elite.
Pretty blue-white star, with the long range Asp Explorer named "Is This The Right Place For The Shauns ?".

I've been doing the exploration thing again in Elite.
The diamondy symbol in the bottom is Zaonce, which is my garage in game. That's an old screenie but it shows the general scale of things. Zaonce is 117ly in game from our solar system and 25,000 light years from Sagittarius A*, the supermassive black hole at the centre of our galaxy. My navigation plan is to go 2000ly clockwise, then 25,000ly into the centre at which point I'll turn right, go 4,000ly past Sagittarius A* and then come back again.

Epic trip. I've done 8 legs so far over 2 sessions of play. Each leg takes me another 1,000ly chunk along the way and I'm now just under 20,000ly from the objective. The star field is already starting to increase. As you'll see in the galaxy pic, we're quite far out on the rim of our galaxy. The stars get far denser as you get towards the centre. That this is modelled in game, makes it all the more pretty for me.

Shiny things are awesome.

And I'm going to have to be careful on Sunday so as to not come out of the pooter fair with too many shiny things.

I'm taking a break from the piloting tonight. I have the tireds. But as usual, messages from a Pretty Lady wake me up again :-).

Oh - one last bit of Shiny Hunting - I'm still investigating different ways of getting my music across to the hifi from the laptop. The Apple Airport Express is excellent at this but I do typically have to unplug/plugin power cycle it once an evening as the audio stream breaks up. So I've been looking at things like the Apple TV or Bluetooth receivers. Trouble is, from what I read about Bluetooth receivers (£50ish jobs), they break up on the audio streaming as well. So I'd be going away from one manageable problem to the same problem.

I'll save my cash.

Unless I see a keyboard that looks awesome.

PS Last word is for wireless mice ... Radio mice are fine but I once had an Infra Red mouse which was actually more restrictive than a wire ... It had a very limited field of view between sensor and mouse and you could block it with your fingers resting on the buttons. Complete rubbish. Be careful what you buy !

Saturday, August 22, 2015

Great Shaun Hunt Part 2

Thursday saw me go out hunting for Sheep again.

And it's taken until now for me to write the scribbles up about it ! Yep. Took a fair bit out of me, I don't think I want to know how far I walked in apparently only an hour and a half according to the timestamps on the pictures. I'm still stiff now from it !

Getting old, although to be honest, I always needed this kind of amount of recovery time after hitting the cricket pitches for the first couple of games in a season.
That's the final tally after finally sitting down for a little rest before heading back to the car (via a place selling cold drinks !), making 23 Shauns on the day. Which of course, is far too many to post all the pictures here. Or is it ...
Click for bigger !

That's sadly the 1/64th size version, reduced for the thumbnail. Gimp didn't want to export the full whopper of an 18432x20736 pixel image (coming in at 1GB!) to Gif and then Google refused to upload the 1/4 size picture. Boo hiss. You wouldn't have wanted to Click For Bigger on that 1/4 size pic, it was still 42MB as a GIF :-). Happy techie got to play with techie toys.

That's the 24 pics of Shauns I grabbed on Thursday. The first is Lily, who I first spotted on Friday last week but I needed a better picture of that one. I got away with it as far as the weather goes, we had some of the damp stuff in the morning and it was threatening rain again as the evening got closer. But in between, sunshine burnt off the humidity in the air and ... you may be able to discern crisp shadows in those pictures ...

Yep. Sun in Bristol. It's rare but it does happen sometimes.
See ? Blue skies there with only occasional cloud. And a boat. Two of the trails I did heavily involved Bristol's waterside.
Click for bigger again. The trails I did were :

Temple Trail off to the East in yellow. This one is 2.5km, although I did join at the middle at 66 and 67 and nearly ended up walking to Bath due to a wrong turn after the station.
Harbourside Trail in the middle in orange. This trail is 5km, also on the flat. Looks like I managed to pound out that 5kms walking in 1 hour 20 according to the timestamps. I'm pretty proud of that, it's good to be back to fairly unfettered walking close to the pace I used to be able to do.

And I picked up a couple of "I'm in the neighbourhood" randoms with a peek at another grand building :
That's Bristol cathedral, heading via the Hippodrome, before having a rest at
St Michael's Church which was hosting Honey Shaun.

All the photos are on Facebook so I won't repeat them here (apart from the montage monster!) but here's a couple more with some of Bristol's heritage :
Building of worship of POINTY THINGS ! Could there be a better thing to worship than Pointy Hats ? Hmm. I seem to be missing a pointy hat from my hat collection.
That's On The Waterfront Shaun, the other side of the river from SS Great Britain. I need to visit that ship sometime, 15 years in Bristol and it's another of the local attractions I've not visited.

If you're looking to visit the Shauns, there isn't much time left ... They disappear on 31 August when they go to auction to raise funds for The Grand Appeal, the Bristol Children's Hospital Charity. More info at the Shaun In The City link.

I may go hunting for some more on Friday, it'll be a great excuse to visit Forbidden Planet (it's near 27 and 28 on the map), which I've not been to for ages now.

I'm sore now (still!) but I'm glad I took the trip out to see the Shaun's. I'm getting older but it's a good reminder that I'm still pretty well able physically, even if the reactions are degrading to the level that cricket isn't an option any more. And having two achievements pop up without really trying were great for that "I'm not ancient yet" confidence :

Spring to the Finish - run the last 20 metres to an undiscovered Shaun. I was just walking (quick) ! Honest !
Bleating the Competition - complete any Shaun trail in half the suggested time duration.

Yep. Happy. If still tired and sore.

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Zombie Stories

I just finished reading John Christopher's The Death Of Grass, plus I've started watching Z Nation that's come to us on Pick.
The Death of Grass is set in the 50s, where a virus has originated in the Far East that destroys grass. That'd be the green stuff but also rice, wheat, rye, barley and the other grassoids. You know, the stuff that makes beer, whiskey and ... bread. It's a true End of the World book, although not quite annihilation for everyone because we can survive on a diet of potatoes.

The book starts with the rumours coming out of the Far East and there is the steady inexorable progress of the virus towards where the book is set, good old Blighty. The central character is John Custance, who is a civil engineer working in London and he hears the increasing hysteria from a civil servant mate who is party to the true story happening behind the scenes, that all attempts to fight the virus are only making it worse. So they escape, heading across country towards John Custance's brother's farm in the Lake District.

The book is a description of the steady erosion of civility in his party and is all the more terrifying for the sense of "People could really do this" as the need for survival drives them to do terrible things. It's another old book but the truth is in there. It's another that's aged very well. Move it to our modern world and the message we hear is also tightly controlled and civilisation could collapse just as quickly. Possibly quicker as our armed services get continually drawn down. We also depend on our communications much more, although there should be fewer guns available now than in a Britain 10 years after World War 2.

Yep. Enjoyed this one, thanks to Kim for the recommendation. (There's a bit more for you Kim after the Z Nation bit !) The pointer to Death Of Grass comes in her Everyone's Gone To The Rapture playthrough which is a beautiful game? (not sure if it counts as a game!) with Proper English characters struggling through their own end of the world, with enchanting narration from our Kim. I'm curious as to how it will end but it's one I may re-watch down the line later, as I'm rewatching her Last Of Us playthrough as well.

I watched the first 3 episodes of Z Nation as well yesterday. That was nearly just part of 1 episode ... Low production values and lots of very dodgy zombies. Yep. Even dodgier zombies than on the awful BBC programme a few months ago. But I've stuck with it for now in the hope that the ongoing story running through it turns out good.

A book I may read again soon is Lucifer's Hammer by Larry Niven. This is a classic disaster movie book. It opens with the discovery of a comet which is due to make a close fly by of Earth. As the first Act unfolds and the comet drawns nearer, the chances of an impact steadily increase ... Our central character is a science reporter covering the comet story and he is steadily getting more and more worried.

And then, disaster worsens as the comet fractures, calves into many fragments that will cover the Earth. When it's about to hit, panic erupts as people attempt to escape population centres, places close to coasts and Run to the Hills ! There's more here than in Death Of Grass which is a strength as well as a weakness. The shorter book is much more focused, it's all about the central character and his party. Lucifer's Hammer splits its focus across multiple central characters. There's more going on but many threads to keep up with.

But enough about what other people do, how about me ?
I contemplate this as I take another easy day while the sun shines, looking for my outsides to recover more. My fear is that if I head out too soon, the healing that has been happening will get set back and I'll be back to square one. So I've been chilling out at home with lots of music (Cardigans excellent Gran Turismo at the moment), cricket on the telly, scifi and fiction on the telly, Lord of the Rings, attempting to sleep (yey), failing to sleep (grr), Elite piloting on the pooter, books being read, enjoyable videos being watched.

Yep. Lots of chill out. But my mind has been wandering ... Planning ... And thinking ... how come I don't take this writing into a new domain ? I've thought this before but my mind descended back into coping with Ill. But those thoughts are coming back again. Could I do novels from the writer's side ?

The disaster scenario is one I think I could write about. Also fantasy fiction too, although there are different rules in magic fantasy worlds. Perhaps easier to imagine a disaster that eliminates maybe 99% of the population, leaving a ragtag band of people looking to survive.

One scenario I have involves those barges ... The barge would be as much a part of the group as the people. Bit like the spaceship Firefly or Enterprise, or Voyager. The Liberator even. The Blakes 7 universe was a legendary scenario in space fiction.

The start I envisage has the barge and the group as a well oiled machine, able to get into the dangerous centre of towns, do a raid, achieve an objective and then get out without the denizens noticing. The barge would be upgraded (ceramic armour ? i.e. plexiglass sheets!), the group would know all their roles and depend on each others skills. Who would we have ?

I suspect the characters would turn out to be analogues of people I know already.

I'd turn into that strong, quiet leader type who would have a Plan but fully expecting that Plan to fail and have several Back Up Plans ready to keep the people alive and unharmed. I'd also be the engineer.
You have the Den Mom who isn't too mobile so she stays on the boat keeping it ready for us when we get back. She's also a crack shot with great awareness so an awesome sentry.
You have small and chuckly, she who keeps us healthy both mentally and physically. She doesn't like harming people but you wouldn't know that when she's (pretending to?) covering you with that rifle.
There's the military type who picked us up and beat us into shape. We'd not be alive if she hadn't got us out of some tight corners.
We have the philosopher and his mate. These are the ones who remembered to bring all the books that remind us that we're human. My engineer brought the How To books, these guys brought in the sciences.
The small fierce red haired one who got us past our scruples and into full on zombie mercy killing mode. Keep the fizzy drinks away from that one.
The guard dogs who may be our first alert for incoming threats.

And then there's the people back at base too or on other boats. The Little Queen who patiently runs the show. Everyone wants her approval, even the ones giving the orders. The best societies tend to be run by women standing behind the leaders telling them what to do. Why boats ? Because push them away from the side and you have a natural barrier to Zombies who forgot how to swim.

That base would be another huge aspect. To live out a Zompoc, you'd need to have a properly secure place for farming ... A large, green, growing island to support your ragtag population of survivors. Isle of Wight ? Isle of Man ? Yep. Supports the arguments for using boats more doesn't it ...

Yep. The book would start with a well oiled machine, a trained group. Heinlein's Starship Troopers starts like this and it gets you into the book straight away. It then catches you up with the How They Got There.

But there are a few questions that I'd need to answer before diving into it :
Where are the arm extensions ?
Ok. Maybe not that question.
But there are a few more and I'm looking at the shortening scroll bar which is telling me this post is getting past its welcome. That's the danger, Death Of Grass works well because it's short. I stopped reading the Honor Harrington books by David Weber because they got mired in unreadability as they got further into politics and away from action.

Perhaps in November ? It's NaNoWriMo, or National Novel Writing Month and is one of those challenges that has caught my eye. And there's a couple of months to gather ideas ...

Saturday, August 15, 2015

Sheep Trekkin'

So I escaped a little later than planned yesterday but still had enough time to head into town for the first sheep hunting.

Here's the first ! (At least the first which will appear here, the others have people's faces on which aren't going to be posted here - Facebook yeah ... but Facebook has the permissions locked down)
That's Maisy and Friends, which is just outside the Children's Hospital in the centre of Bristol. It's where I started (properly) doing the Old City trail which takes you back into the centre of town before heading out towards the waterside. It's 2.5km, although I didn't go that particular route having picked up the Bagpuss sheepie  in Cabot Circus already.

I can't show the Bagpuss cos it has a couple of Pretty Ladies posing (for someone else) but ...
I'm sure Dodgy Geezer Smoking Outside Bus Station won't mind appearing beside the sausages (Lamb Chop). Onwards to ...
The central shopping area, with a Shaun On The Cob lurking outside Broadmead. There's a Please Stand By standing guard over the central plaza part of Broadmead too.
But again, people in shot and all that ... The trial then takes you back out of town, through a loop through the Castle Park towards the Waterside areas. This one is Knitwit, in the park. There was a pair of Pretty Girls sitting talking on the bench out of shot to the right. I think the noise the app made as I ticked off this Shaun perturbed them a bit ... or they were merely just curious. Either way, I wanted to keep walking to complete this little circuit.

You can probably tell from these pictures that it was a bit rainy too ... I was in my rain hat which didn't have much ventilation so I was being a bit warmer than usual ... When near fit, I can usually walk indefinitely when it's on the flat. Elevation changes can be a challenge but while there's energy in me (and I'd been fuelled up by a lunch !), I can walk for a long time at a really good pace. Fast enough, for the app to think I ran the last 20 metres to my first Shaun.

I thought that was cute. And appreciated it :-).

The trek was coming to an end though as I headed down Corn Street, where this one was guarding an entrance :
That one is Woolly Wonderland, who is in the entrance to St Nicholas Market. There are many shinies here, in a place I never realised existed before embarking on the trail. I actually missed the last one on this trail, although I'll be back in the week.

Not today or tomorrow though. I woke up today to legs that were very heavy, with not much power available in them. They're just not used to the exercise, although they're not beyond hope and can be beaten back into shape. The torn bit on me inside my hip didn't bother me yesterday and I managed to maintain the discipline of keeping my legs straight so as to not aggravate knees that are getting short of cartilege.

Yep - pain ... but it's the honest pain of unaccustomed exercise. It's the pain that comes from legs that are waking up to doing more exercise later. I'm not saying I'll go do marathons next week, I'm not set up that way. But I do know the next time I do this, I'll be in better shape for it.

What is the plan ? I'm having a peek at the map at the moment and I can see 4 trails that could be done as a Great Circle starting at Cabot (and lunch for fuel!) and mostly coming back to Cabot. Via Forbidden Planet, a mecca for nerds that I haven't worshipped at for too long. There is a mean gradient involved there though. I may do that one separately as I can park near Forbidden Planet and then dash around the Shauns while I'm at the top of the hill.

Trails ?

Old City trail is 2.5km with 10 Shauns. I ticked off all but one (missed it!) yesterday.
Temple Trail is 2.5km with 9 Shauns and takes you past Temple Quay and the big Bristol station.
Southback Trail is 3.5km with 5 Shauns, taking you on a tour of the urban part of Bristol south of the river.
Harbourside Trail is 5km with 12 Shauns and has you going down the River Avon and back. I've done parts of this when I was visiting the cricket shop that is on this route.
The Heritage Trail is 2km with 8 Shauns but has that gradient ... which would be tough on unprepared legs.

So with the last 4 of those, that's 13km with a little more when switching from route to route. Could take a while.

I'll need me boots then. I did yesterday's walking with my work shoes which are starting to wear out. They didn't have thick soles anyway, so walking on Bristol's occasionally pebble line footpaths can be somewhat ... sore.

I'm looking forward to hitting the trails again. Seeing the 10 Shauns yesterday feels like an achievement. And ...

With a total of 14 Shauns, I am now ahead in the Rivalry (she will catch up and go past, I'm sure).
It's letting me count sheep for a very special friend too who isn't likely to find time to count them herself.
I don't think I have any chance of catching up with Snow Queen's amazing 48.

What do they say about exercise ?
I hope so !

Thursday, August 13, 2015

Friday Eve

Friday tomorrow !

Hurrah.

This means bacon sandwiches. Maybe - the baps they come in are white and floury which can upset my breathing ... although it is bacon.
It's likely to be another hectic day tomorrow at work. I'm taking next week as leave because I need to recharge those batteries again. Yeah. The tiredness has been hitting but as usual for me, I get that second wind in anticipation of having the time off. Or at least I do at the start of the week, I was feeling it today before busy-hyper let me ignore it.

Although a message of "I think my dodgy hip is anticipating weather cos ... Crikey OUCH !" It felt like the bit that has problems developed a tear again and it was getting painful to get walking at times. Yep. Body reminding me that it's a bit old and broken now. But it was worth it when I earned that damage through the cricket and the other running around stuff. Oh - severe weather was warned here today but didn't actually arrive. Grim skies but not much wet stuff. Not that I noticed at least (too busy to look out the windows at work)

Yeah - body's getting ready for some chilled out time over the next week. However ... I have plans ...

If I escape from work in time tomorrow, I'm planning to head into the centre of town for ... chilled out wandering, munchies from the coffee place, perhaps a film, definitely some Shaun hunting.

I'm at a lowly 4, a friend (who has declared COMPETITION and therefore there is now a Rivalry) has seen 8 and another friend has seen 48. I don't think I'll get anywhere near 48 but I hope to get some walking in to see a few.

I have other plans too - walking to see Shauns is a big one, hopefully my legs will cooperate.

I'll be chillin' when I have to retreat to the house (still repairing, very slowly). There will be lots of music listened to over the next week.

Cricket will be on, it's the quarter final stages of the domestic Twenty 20 series, those games are usually worth watching. And then there's the final game of the Ashes. Fingers crossed for a 4-1.

I suspect we'll see Man From Uncle next week too. That's a remake of a cracking 60s era spy series. The trailer looked fairly good when we watched Fantastic Four although it was silly for them to show two trailers for it before that movie.

There may be a little bit of techie shopping ... I suspect that the device I use to send music between my Macbook and my amplifier is dying. It keeps cutting out and I have to power cycle it sometimes once an evening. I shouldn't need to do that. My options are :

Apple TV - with the added bonus of it allowing me to send video from iPad to telly as well as music to the amp.
Bluetooth receiver - just another way of getting music across the room without using a wire.

Cos a wire ... I'd trip up over it.

I'll do some of the Internet Spaceships too. I'm almost at the next trading rank ... I'll get there in the next session perhaps. There's also a new Community Goal where a space station is looking for "industrial materials" (semiconductors, superconductors) to upgrade itself. That means ... PROFIT. And my inner Ferengi Gaming Instinct has had its attention drawn to that.

Movies at home too. I'm halfway through watching the Lord Of the Rings and Hobbit movies, although I think I'll actually break from those because I kinda want to watch a few others again like Moon, Final Fantasy (yes, I meant that), the Robert Downey Jr Sherlock movies and whatever else catches my eye. I have Ex Machina too, which is an incentive to get this place sorted out so I can entice someone over to watch it maybe ?

Last one - need a plumber to sort out my heating ... That could be ouchies on the wallet.

So it could well be a busy week ! Not so busy as others. Hope someone's day goes well tomorrow. It's going to be a big event.

Pizza tomorrow night as well. NEED.

I wonder how much mayhem will happen next week ?
I need to get some books to read too.

I'll leg it there but one last pic :
That's "System Crash" and may well resemble me, curled up with my pizza in front of the cricket tomorrow night. Cya !

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Techie Stuff ...

... Or how do I get a PC that's worth using before Windows 7 disappears.

(apologies, this may end up being techie ...)

I've been keeping an eye on the Windows 10 situation. I was dead set against exposing myself to the horrors which was Windows 8 and I have a strong feeling that Windows 7 will be the last bit of software from Microsoft that I acquire for home. I've already kicked out Office for my Mac, in favour of the free and does the job just as well Apache Openoffice. And I am continually cursing RibbonAbominOffice at work for hiding away everything that used to be easy to find before.

But that's enough about software ... except to say that I suspect Windows 7 won't be on the market for too long. I'm eligible for the free Windows 10 update but that's going nowhere near my machine. It's just too intrusive, invasive and I don't want my Stuff being robbed by Microsoft. I don't want access to my stuff being governed by any external party.

Where's this coming from ? I have a mate at work who I think is planning to get a basic gaming PC to run Elite Dangerous on ... He has an older Mac which is being reluctant to run the old Frontier Elite 2 and won't run the new Elite.

I think I have been tempting someone with the screenshots ...
It's pretty.

But I did say to this fella that I'd check out doing a PC build bits list and I nearly forgot ... Here goes ! This is what I would build if I was putting together a PC now to last as long as Pumpkin (built almost 4 years ago, may last another 4 with minor bit changes at the rate of improvement of PCs now)

Start with the support bits - the case, the power supply, the cooler. It's important to get these right. The case gives robustness to the machine, it keeps it quiet, it allows air to flow through the case. It hopefully won't extract a blood sacrifice during the build due to having sharp edges. The cooler needs to be really big, because then it can run slow for better effect and be virtually silent. The power supply has to be from a recognised brand name like Corsair, EVGA, Antec, Seasonic, BeQuiet, Thermaltake. I've been using a Corsair supply. If you have a no-name brand power supply, it's far more likely to go BANG and if it does, it will take other parts of the system with it.

Case - Antec are a good make (Pumpkin is in a Thermaltake) and they do one suitable for £24.
Power supply - Corsair CX 600W for £55.
Cooler - I've used big Zalman coolers for years but they seem to have disappeared from Novatech so I'm looking at the beQuiet BK009 with a big fan for £26. Beware the cooler, these can be really fiddly to mount ...
Oh and chuck in a bluray drive for £35 (seems steep and I'm not convinced they're worth it in a PC)
Total for the ancillaries - £140

Engine room - this is the processor, the memory, the graphics and the board that everything plugs into. I'm preferring Intel and nVidia these days. Intel have a clear performance lead for processors and graphics tends to be much of a muchness between nVidia and AMD/ATI. Some games are better on nVidia, some are better on AMD/ATI. I'm with nVidia for now, although their drivers are slipping in quality again.

Processor - Intel have a new one out called Skylake but we'll ignore that because it costs £210. Not worth it. The Haswell line has i3, i5 and i7 with subdivisions within that. The i3 is good for a cheap low performance machine but for gaming, I'd want to up it to i5 with another couple of processing cores. I think the i7 is too much, it pretends (through clever software) to have 8 cores but ... those will only be useful under certain circumstances and it adds £80 on to the price. Save the cash, put it on the graphics card. Also, ignore the K models because they are enthusiasts chips designed for people who stress their machines by running them above the rated speed (overclocking) - not worth it for us, it shortens the life of the machine.

So that'll be an Intel i5-4690 costing £176 fitting in a Socket 1150 using DDR3 memory. That'll point you to the memory to buy and the board to plug everything into.

Motherboard - I've been favouring Asrock but they don't have a suitable board. You need to look for the "Z", as that's the more capable board (this is important). Gigabyte have a suitable one called "GA-Z97X-SLI" for £90. The SLI means you can put two graphics cards in. Ignore this unless you have loadsamoney, because SLI isn't implemented at all well in games. It's a white elephant.

Memory - the motherboard needs DDR3 so this is what we get. A techie thing means the system works best with pairs of memory chips (called DIMMS) and to keep the processor happy, you need DDR3-1333 or 1600 (it's how fast it can pump out the bits). Crucial are currently doing a pair of DDR3-1600 for 8GB costing £35. Memory is dirt cheap, it's daft to get anything less than 8GB in a new build but you don't really get much by getting more.

Graphics - the more you pay, the better it gets. You could be Really Silly and get a pair of graphics cards costing £840 each. But you aren't going to do that. The trick is to find a price point that's just enough for you and spend no more. For me, that's the GeForce 960 cards and Gigabyte have one of those for £150.

Engine - £176 processor + £90 motherboard + £150 graphics + £35 memory = £451

So is that it ? You need storage to make it go. The best way at the moment is to have 2 drives. One is Solid State, or super fast but small drive. I need to fit my 256GB drive. The other is a big conventional drive, slow but super big. Because of how Windows works with its discs (i.e. it waits for them and becomes tediously slow), the solid state drive will really speed things up.

Solid State drive - Crucial BX100 128GB will do but you're better spending an extra £18 on a 256GB costing £68.
Conventional drive - Seagate are doing a 2TB drive for £56.

Oh and the last bit - Windows 7 will set you back £80.

That's a total of £795, which is slightly down on my usual and I haven't gone for anything really budget. It should last a few years, although the graphics may suffer after maybe 3.

Why build your own ? Because you hand pick all of the components. All of the above prices come from Novatech, who I favour for my bits. I'm happy to get components from them but I'd never buy one of their pre-built machines. They skimp on the cooling and the power supply and what was the first warning I gave ? Good cooling leads to a quiet computer, a branded power supply leads to one that won't go BANG.

Oh and if you get one from a shop, you're likely to get inflicted with Windows 10 or even worse ... Windows 8/8.1.

I hope you've been able to stay with me through all that !
I shall return to more fluffy things soon - I hope. (Need subjects to ramble about !)

PS One thing very important - do not spend more than you have to. You don't need £150-£200 worth of watercooling gear. It's a hazard and big air coolers work just as well. Twin graphics cards are usually a waste. Stuff like that. It's your money, don't feel obliged to spend all of it !
PPS Yep. Save some for me so I can have pizza while I build it for you.

Post-Ed - have corrected the £totals. Someone forgot to include £35 of memory ...

Monday, August 10, 2015

7 Rules to Live By

Spotted this pic earlier :
Some good rules right ?

First up - make peace with your past. Very important. I know someone who is struggling desperately with Stuff. I've been there too but in my case, Stuff was concluded quite quickly. Ravenwolf walked out and then strife happened over the next few months as we sorted out House Things. You know, the cutting her name off the deeds to a house she wouldn't be contributing on the mortgage for. Cost me ... £lots of k.

And some sanity as we had trouble with a solicitor who a) delayed and b) attempted to take us with him as he departed the practice we (well, I because Ravenwolf just basically went - "give me money") chose to a new one. That caused unnecessary delay but ... the people who stayed at the practice were totally pro and we got a settlement sorted quick which actually was good for me. (An incorrect, low, valuation was given by Ravenwolf).

Looking back, I'm glad my particular dose of Stuff was over very quickly although it affected me for many years after. Ok, I was also affected by being rebuffed by a succession of ladies who I thought "This is the one !". Yep. Bad for the confidence ... but that confidence is coming back again thanks to the people around me now.

Lesson :
Yep. Don't let your past own you. It's behind you. Look forward to what you can achieve now or later. Me ? I want that boat to live on. It would be made much better than I hear new houses are and there would be lots of techie/mechie stuff for me to fiddle with. And there's a bit of independence that I think would come in too.

2 - What other people think of you is none of your business

Up to a point yes. You do need people's respect to have credibility in their eyes and you can rarely get stuff done without credibility. And in the world we live in, if people hate you for your actions then that can lead to nastiness like having your car keyed. And ... looking around me ... I am houseproud to some degree and I wouldn't want to have anyone seeing the house as it is now. The condition of my place transfers to their opinion of how I keep it and that isn't great right now. House needs sorting out.

And I do like a bit of feedback too. It encourages me, I gain strength from it, my confidence depends on it. Both from the ups and the downs.

3 - Time heals almost everything

Again, up to a point. I'm thinking of one special little lady who is really struggling. Time is just making it worse. I hope she remembers who she was soon. She was the Heart of our team. The one who always smiled at people. The one with energy. The one who laughed at the jokes. The one who made the jokes. The naughty mischievous one who knew everything that was going on but never got caught. The bringer of Fun.

I hope she remembers that. But I can only do that from afar. Because it confused both of us, throwing our hearts into a mess, when I tried to do that from much closer.

Back to me - time won't heal my hips or shoulder, that's likely to need a surgeon's knife. But I hope that time will eventually heal my outsides to the point where I can confidently wake in the morning and know I could freely go out in public with shorts and t-shirt and not have people going "Eeeoo" at my broken bits.
4 - No one is in charge of your happiness except you

A year ago I was trying to get the attention of Kim. That cost me hugely in terms of my sanity as I was getting very little in return for those attempts. And she was just one of a series of ladies who I was attempting to get attention from. I had put them in charge of my happiness. My emotional state depending on their feedback, their approval and when they went silent, you can imagine the dark pit that my psyche descended into.

Again there, there's a few very special people who I know keep an eye on me, give me that feedback, make me smile. Smiles are awesome.
5 - Don't compare your life to others

We all have different influences. Different beginnings. Different upbringings. Different circumstances that change our fate.

What's important is how we play the cards we are dealt. Me ? I enjoyed the cricket, even after gaining a shoulder injury that should have ended my playing days. I just found different ways to be useful to the team and accepted the pain. I could have had a different job, or job hopped like half the people in my organisation (these people cause no end of trouble) but the job I've done has delivered something pretty awesome.

My life is way better than probably 90% of the people on this Earth (partly cos all the wealth is concentrated in much less than 0.1% of the people ?). Yep. I have it better than many and I appreciate people like Cupid's Gift, LTK, Snow Queen, CK, the Finance Angels, Family, Pixie who help make my life better.

Something important though - I try not to gloat by comparing my life to those less fortunate. It's terrible what's happening at Calais with the immigrants. I can't do much about it though. And that's just one group who have been told things which is causing them more misery now.

(Enough about immigrants, I only know third hand and what I do know is subject to slanted news)

6 - Stop thinking too much

Like this post ! I've been struggling for ideas lately and then another Swedish Sandra (I know two) posts a pic that ... erm ... has made a bit of a Wall Of Text. Oops.

I overthink things. I like stuff to be properly polished before I call it Job Done. That of course makes the product far too late to be useful. But I think I'm doing better there and I have that balance between saying what I know and declaring when I need to go away and find something out.

7 - Smile

Oh yes. Definitely. Smile and the world will smile back at you and give you bigger portions when you raid the canteen.

Looks down ...

Maybe that isn't such a good thing. Need to go on a diet again.

I think I get more cooperation from people by bringing that smile out. Also from giving that smile when admitting I could have done stuff better. Like upsetting one of our senior people when I said I'd got his approval for something. I did ! Honest. I had it verbally but not in writing. It then took another week for the written approval to come through and I think that was partly due to a phone conversation with someone else which ended pretty much in "UNLEASH THE K!" (different words, same meaning), K being one of the Finance Angels who has a Sleepy-Mind-Blank inducing smile.

We'll do stuff for Finance Angel K (and the original Finance Angel E) to see that smile. It would break our hearts to be the reason for that smile not being there.

Smiles are awesome. And I'm now picturing a bubbly chuckle going along with someone's smile. And a haha from another special person who's given me lots of encouragement lately.
Be good, be kind, enjoy yourself and others.