Saturday, October 25, 2014

Comic Con adventures

Off to Comic Con in London yesterday ! Gosh that was a long day. No hold ups on the road but 2 hours drive plus 1 hour underground adds up eventually. Enough about getting there, how was the show ?

I have to say it's lightyears ahead of how I found EGX Rezzed but then again, Rezzed was focused on showing off games that I wasn't really that interested in. Lots of stalls to spend your money at (I exchanged all mine for t-shirts), lots of things to look at. And ...

You know I like dwagons ?
You know I like hats ?

What could be more awesome than :
And I will definitely be wearing that t-shirt in work on Friday. There is a picture of me wearing the Dwagon Hat, it's on Facebook but I won't post it here cos : The camera hates me and I took it at maybe 11.30 last night when Sleepy Pete was being Very Tired Sleepy Pete.

I've been writing a decent amount about the Yogscast youtube video people lately and one of them in particular (more on Kim later!). It's amazing how they've exploded into being one of the biggest channels out there. There's a few reasons for that :

They're really good at what they do
They have huge variation so there's something for everyone*
They have a fantastic Public Face

*(I'm a big fan of Kim and Hannah plus Rythian, Duncan and Zoey but not so much for the rest, they don't tend to play the games I look at)

I think that Public Face is really important. It's the first impression that everyone sees first, before checking out the videos. There's a key theme that runs through the illustrations that make up that Public Face : Craziness, Fun, Icons that pick up the character of who they represent. They're immensely clean high quality, they achieve that big objective of selling the brand and they're simple and clean enough that you Remember them.

And I got to meet one of the lovely ladies who is responsible for a lot of that artwork. She was good enough to keep chatting away too, while her comics and posters were merrily disappearing off the stand into people's bags (compensation paid for of course).

She goes by the tally Nina Serena (@NinaSerena on Twitter and comic link, tumblr link) and here's an example :
I hope she doesn't mind me grabbing that from tumblr. It's from the Lelatte comic, which is about a Dark Elf that isn't your normal Dark Elf. This one is super happy, hyper cute and bouncing around like a Sleepy on Espresso. And all she wants to do is hug the unicorns.

Go on, have a read - I did and was chuckling from page to page. Great illustrations from Nina and funny writing from her Partner in Comics and life.

Oh and she thought I was younger than 30. That's guaranteed to make a Sleepy Pete go Bouncy Pete. There might be life in the old dog yet, although I'm feeling the after effects of Comic Con this morning. I need that conditioning back in my legs.

I have a shoutout to an absent friend too, Nina talks about being a twin to another Yogscast linked person. That'd be Kaeyi who's been going through some horrible sounding health issues recently. She's not been served at all well by our health service. Kaeyi wasn't well enough to go to Comic Con but I hope she'll be able to get to the one in Birmingham NEC. She's being nursed back to health by her Kitty Nurses and it's been encouraging to see the progress over the twitter feed. It does give hope to people with long term or chronic illnesses. Yeah, I feel a bit drained now and my outsides aren't happy but examples like Kaeyi's strength give more hope.

And I really hope she makes it to Comic Con escorted by her Dream Prince Martyn.

Last mention before I close - I'd promised Kim over twitter that I'd try and smuggle some noodles her way. Sadly I lacked the courage to do so on the day. One thing about their popularity is that they can get somewhat mobbed, so they have an escort guy to keep the crowds under control. Let's just say he's very fit and since I lost the weight, even bigger than me now. So I left them be.

I do think it would be nice for them to be able to experience the show anonymously rather than be a part of it.

And for random strange men to get the chance to send noodles their way. Well, I missed the chance yesterday but would be overjoyed if I got the chance to make good that promise and get noodles (or other dinner type munchies !) for our ever wonderful, ever adorable Kim. Especially as :
Yey ! I love you too Kim, you're awesome.

Thursday, October 23, 2014

1000 - looking back, looking forward

When I started this blog up way back in 2005, I had no idea I'd reach 100 posts, let alone 1000. When I had the break from the blog between 2006 and 2008, I didn't think I'd come back. Glad I did :-)

It's curious to look and remember back to see what happened over those years.

2005 - I'd just come out of a relationship that had run for a few years. I should have seen the end of that coming really, the warning signs were there. I just couldn't figure a reasonable way out until the shock "I can't bear to live like this any more" came from the other person. The second half of that year involved making the arrangements to decouple what we had, namely the house.

She also took more than half the Pocket Dragon collection ! Fair enough really, she'd bought most of them :-).

2005 also saw me writing about cricket a fair bit. I was still running the indoor cricket team for my project. That was ... fun, educational, challenging, expanding. I'd never really been in a regular leadership role before, outside of being thrust into captaining the cricket teams at certain points. The indoor cricket saw me as a full time captain and I like to think I did pretty well at it. Our team didn't have the strongest players but regularly ended up in the top 3 of the league. But I ended up spending more time at work organising the team than actually working - that's not sustainable so I wrapped up that team.

There's quite a number of posts about World of Warcraft through 2005 and 2006 as well. The end of that relationship saw me filling the void by being the Guild Master for the Mercenaries Of Darkness. That lasted for about 6 months before various psychological pressures ended up ripping holes in my psychological state.

That's another recurring theme actually - I don't handle being alone too well. Ok, I've been ok living on my own for the past 9 years but when it comes to reaching out to people, I don't handle a lack of response very well. That's one of my own personal flaws. I think I interpret it as a "Why don't they want to talk ?" "Is it something wrong with me ?" which hits me pretty hard. Yet the reason can actually be "Oh sorry, I was really busy and didn't notice your message".

Anyway - end 2005 saw me hand over the reins of the Mercs to the fella who eventually killed the guild. I don't blame him for that, he was going through his own problems which were messing with his head but he should really have passed on the reins to another person before it was too late.

2006 saw a massive milestone for my last project and it was an awesome sight. The one post that says what I do is in there. Why don't I talk about my work too much ? Cos it gives away a little too much personal information and one thing about the internet is that once you put info on there, it can be very difficult to remove ...

The blog kinda fizzled out over the course of 2006, I just ran out of things to write about. Or perhaps I didn't want to write about some things. There's only so many "We raided the Core" posts people can handle before pulling out the massive yawn (It wasn't called Molten Bore for nothing).

A recurring theme here has been the meme and the reactivation in 2008 very quickly saw a Thursday Thirteen appear. I've not done one of those for ages, perhaps next week.

I just looked at Feb 2008 and there's some good ones in there. Remembering the Scruff is one I always go back to. Scruff was an amazing dog. He was our faithful four legged adoring friend for many years after turning up on our doorstep in Ireland. He would have died literally that night if we hadn't taken him in. And he rewarded us with total devotion for the rest of his days. Rescue dogs are the best dogs.

I talk about the gadgets a fair bit too. And that's things like going from IpodFM where I had my iPod sending the music to the car through an FM retransmitter. That didn't work so well, I needed to take the aerial off the car so the retransmitter wouldn't get jammed out by commercial radio. I also tried iPaqTV where I wanted to send camera video from a laptop to my iPaq (precursor of iPhone from HP). The main reason was to be able to see the satellite signal strength when I was up a ladder adjusting the dish but ... somewhat doomed due to lots of lag between camera and iPaq. It wouldn't have solved the problem anyway, I was losing the satellite signal due to a big tree growing right in its path. I switched back to cable TV to get around that.

I got into trouble with the Mercs around this time too by saying a few negative things about them here. The hotheads reallllly didn't like that. I found a new home in the Violence Reborn guild as that Swedish dominated group happily took me in. They're still going now, some old faces, mostly new faces and the relationships have evolved too. I enjoyed my time in VR.

Closing out 2008 was the Xmas party and coining another nickname. One of my biggest friends and most trusted confidantes over the years has been the Snow Queen. Well, this year she appears in a new haircut, shiny and glistening framing that little smile of her's. And in an outfit, the combination of which stole my heart at least for that party. (She's married, so that's as far as that goes). The original Snow Queen story was on Sci-fi channel at the time, which gave me the idea for that name : The beauty that steals the heart of the bellboy.

Looking at 2009 and it's strange to think that the world's ecomonic struggles go back that far. They seem never ending. Perhaps 2009 is the last time I had a pay rise ? We were prepared to tolerate that for a few years but it's been too many now. Dissatisfaction is rising, particularly as the politicians continue to vote themselves rises.

2010 sees more technology issues - I bought an Xbox 360 which was fairly fortuitous with what came later. I enjoyed games like Forza Motorsport but thought Final Fantasy XIII was a bit lame (still need to play FF 7) and Dead Space on the console was quite poor, having come from playing similar games on PC. Mouse and keyboard thrash a controller for these games. Forza was good because the controller was better for that game. Anyway, while I didn't use the Xbox for games that much, it lets me play Dvds at high quality without the annoying silent blips I get from the bluray player.

I came back into cricket this year too, having had a few years off. There were two reasons for the break :
1 - my old partner was going out with another member of the team and I didn't know how I'd react. It was still too raw.
2 - me saying "I'm not in great shape but pick me if you're short" led to me getting ignored and the team playing shorthanded. I really didn't appreciate that and gave up on that particular selector. This was the real reason for the break and I came back in when the team organisation changed.

Oh I blew up the old groin strain during that first game back too - it's a funny injury. I can go Warp Speed in a straight line with it but can't turn or go sideways quickly ... Anyway, that old groin strain is still slowing me down now, it's in the same place as that poorly hip problem. But ... it wasn't the biggest injury woe of this year, I got smashed on the shin which I believe caused a hairline fracture. I could walk and put weight on the leg but putting power through the leg hurt like hell. Also had a bruise about 8 inches long !

2011 saw me entering the wonderful world of the hybrid car. These have an engine and an electric motor, which share the load between them. I'd thoroughly recommend them for power, economy and flexibility and they've also been totally reliable. And with Lexus also comes high quality interiors. Yep, thoroughly recommended.

Looks like 2011 is also when the problems with my skin started. Hard to believe it's been 3 years and counting. But I finally seem to be coming through that as good, soft, delightfully smooth skin is reclaiming the broken bits.

And that skin has been the ongoing theme ever since. The "Wall Of Text Megapost" alarm is now going off so I think I'll summarise the most recent bits :

Infected leg became major skin problem, hopefully now fixing.
Cricket - fun for a while but bit old for it now.
Cars - now on my second hybrid.
Gaming - turned from playing to watching.
Relationships - tried, failed, now back to hoping.

But the dominant thing over the past few years has been bad health and the struggle to get better again. I hope I reach 2000 posts :-) I'm pretty confident I will. And one change I'd like to put in :

I love to write nice things about other people. It makes me feel better to think those thoughts and I hope it makes the target smile as well. But I'd like to write about one person in particular.

Who will that be ? I don't know yet. I know a few people I'd like it to be :
The Pocket Lioness if she'd have me;
The Okcupid lady I mentioned yesterday if she wants to meet me for a coffee;
Possibly Miss Barbara if she's available ?

Closing thought - one thing I have noticed, the skin thing seems to affect other people more than it does me. I have to live with it so perhaps I'm used to it. But with others, I've seen people stop talking to me when they realise I have the problem and others will demand I make sure the desk is clear. Yes, I make more dust than average people but ... my desk is still clearer than most people ! Including those who complain.

Time to wrap up - I hope the route to 2000 sees lots of good news :-) But for now, it's back to relaxing for me ahead of Comic Con tomorrow. Cross fingers for good selfies to post here :-)

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

999 Emergency !

Haha - apologies for that over dramatic title ...

Post number 999 and I'm still wondering what to do for that number 1000. Oh and 999 just happens to be our emergency telephone call number over here, bit like the 911 all the US drama series people use.

No emergencies here though. At least, none that are immediately apparent.

However, I am reallllly looking forward to the long weekend break I'm about to dive into. I'm in work tomorrow (Wednesday) but off on Thursday, Friday, Monday and Tuesday. I think I need that mini break before diving into the madness which is the Pre Xmas season.

I'm looking forward to being out and about more over the weekend. Especially as that's a signal that my outsides are improving to the point where I can be pretty confident the night before that I'll be in a fit state to be out in public the next day. I'm not properly healed yet but I can see my outsides gradually reclaiming the bad bits. I'm more and more confident that if I manage to leave it alone, I'll be clear by Xmas.

Good times.

I also happened to break into a run today ... I still have those inner feelings of Old from creaking bones, joints no longer protected by unhealthy swelling and muscles that seem to want to tear themselves in two. I was in HMV the other week, standing up looking at the Bits N Pieces and it literally felt like my hamstring was trying to tear itself in half. I wasn't doing anything !

But ... when it comes to actually using those muscles, I was able to run quite easily today. I had to catch someone up before he escaped. That run wasn't anywhere near Warp Speed but it was the proper toe technique, just not with Warp Power. If I use Warp Power indoors, with my speed I'll bounce off the walls before being able to stop.

Or maybe not ... having lost that weight, I may have the brakes back again :-).

It does feel good being able to run again. I must start conditioning the body again by doing actual exercise. I never really needed to do that, I was one of those obnoxious people who could turn up at the first game of the season and still keep up and play at a high standard. That said, I'll be avoiding the cricket next year. Too many legacy injuries that remind me of the abuse with Pain.

Where was I ? Oh - getting out more.

Comic Con is Friday and unless something dramatic happens, I'll be on my own bombing around the place at my own pace. Which is good in terms of less complication, sad for closing the book on the other person. Depending on how I find London Comic Con, I may go to the one in NEC Birmingham in November as well. I have a dwagon that needs to be passed on ...

Talking of dwagons :
Isn't that adorable ?

So adorable, that he's now my avatar everywhere. I usually only change the avatar in Facebook or Twitter but he's gone to Blogger and Steam as well. It's a Groom from the kiddie series Room On The Broom.

I think he may be my avatar for quite some time.

I'll hopefully find the excuse to be out more over the long weekend. I have a camera that I desperately want to try out. And ... I hope that a little lady I got in touch with via Okcupid will break the mould and strike up a conversation. From what's there, she seems quirky, unusual, funny, smart, INTERESTING. And you know I don't use that I word with too many people.

Wish me luck. And if you have any ideas for that 1000, let me know.

Monday, October 20, 2014

Where there's a will ...

The entertainment world lost one of its loveliest people today, Lynda Bellingham. I watched her in series like All Creatures Great and Small, Second Thoughts and ... I'm surprised that it's not more.

She'll be missed. But one thing I wanted to natter about today is something different - but first :

I'm pretty sure I'll be on me own in the car for Comic Con on Friday. Although ... there is room in there for all 3 people who are going that day. It's a decent sized car (peek at the Fuelly link - shininess is there!) and there would be two big lads along as well as the special little lady who I think will be drawn to that noodle shop.

Ok, perhaps I've given up hope of helping them out (and it would be a pleasure to do anything to help out the little lady) for the Friday but I've not given up hope overall. I hear a little lady (need better nickname, Pocket Lioness fits) talk about loneliness and say things like she's not looking forward to being alone over Xmas, I know how I feel ... and I know she'd be welcomed in with my mob if she gave us the chance.

But that's way off in terms of expectations* - it's like I know huge amounts about our Pocket Lioness but she knows very little about me. Just what appears in the Twitter feed (which submerges under thousands of other followers), what she sees here and what's assumed from the wariness about strange men getting in touch over the internet. There's a certain amount of trust that only comes from knowing someone face to face.

*(my mind tends to rush off and make projections which are usually utter fantasy at the time, although they could happen if everything went amazingly perfectly - bad habit I know, don't count chickens before they hatch and all that)

I think this will be the last post I put here hoping that she gets in touch before moving her from that "I hope she could be" to "It could have been great but ..." category. I'm now remembering back to another lady, aka Bright Young Thing, who I was also crazy head over heels besotted with. I never heard back from her too, despite a number of attempts to get in touch. (There's only so many channels you can try before "Mad Stalker" tag hits)

It's sad but if they don't want to know, then you have to respect that and stop bugging them. There's no anger, no bad emotions like that there, just regret that I've missed out again on my primary goal in life : Helping people out.

So that's my message to the Pocket Lioness - there's someone here besotted with you who would be in dreamland if he was picked to be that person you could turn to. To be that person first on the list to call when you're sad. To answer the "whatcha doin' ?" if you're lonely. To hide behind for horror films. To be that person to lend you a little strength and do things for you if you're struggling.

And all the rest.

Actually, I hope I do keep that strength going. I've been improving on the outsides and things like my ankles are bony again. I only mention that cos they were the last bits to settle down in terms of being swollen and unhappy. Things are improving as I give them the chance and I'm now more hopeful that it'll be clear by Xmas.

But ... Definitely feeling older. I slipped and fell on the stairs today (need new shoes soon, the soles on mine are getting slick) and apparently hit harder than I thought. As in, edges of stairs biting into my bad hip, my ankle and the shoulder that's damaged. Not so good. It stiffened up to cause ouchiness over the day.

Only one therapy for that ! Activity ! Bumps and bruises like that tend to appreciate being walked off, to avoid them stiffening up. I may be in for a bad day tomorrow but survived today. (Enough for a Mall run actually)

Hey - I mentioned "will" in that title and something different ...

The radio conversations talked at one point about people having a Will tabled, in case something should happen. Bad things do happen and it's wise to have preparations in place to make it a little easier for those left behind. I have to admit, I don't have a Will and should probably make one. If I did, it would read a bit like :

Car - to my sister. Although it does have too much roof.
House - to be sold and the proceeds to the sister again. Or more like 80% to sis and the rest split between a few extra special people : CK, CQ, SQ, BD.
Computers - to a certain Diablo.
Surround sound gear - to the sister again.
Bluray player and blurays - to CK
Books - also to CK
DVDs - to divvy up between the local mob : CK, CQ, BD
Plushies and dwagons - there's a Pixie in Birmingham who's helped me out considerably over the past few years and I know she'd look after the dwagon collection.

I think that's the major bits accounted for, with some switching about to be done too cos I know there's duplicates among the books, dvds and blurays. Anything left over or unwanted should be sold off and the proceeds sent to Help For Heroes. It would, of course, change if a special someone entered my life. But - I'm not feeling there's much chance for that at the moment. Mostly because :

I mentioned I flirt with a lot of ladies but there's another limit there - I only chase one person at a time. At the moment, that's someone who's not given anything back. Which means I don't try to get to know the others I find "interesting" and "available" better.

I don't know very many people I'd call "interesting" and even fewer who might be "available". What can I say ! I'd like to grow old with someone who can keep me on my toes and keep up with what I'm thinking. And you know me, I'm strange ... not many can follow what I'm thinking.

But I think that the Pocket Lioness could. And she definitely keeps me on my toes by coming up with comments in the videos that have me bursting out laughing unawares at the latest insanity.

PS Whatever I say about wills, I'm not going anywhere. There's my poorly outsides and tortured bones but I fully expect to last a good few more decades, to hopefully at least see humanity escape this planet and live on the Moon, Mars or further. That's one of my dreams, although I was born too early for it.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Moving on and making plans

I wasn't sure a week ago but it looks like I may finally be seeing the back of this skin condition.

That's been a long time coming !

I don't think I'll ever be totally free of it but it'll be good to be over the worst of it. Quick summary time ?

It started a few years ago as a leg infection. I think I got bit while on holiday and it was literally eating away my calf. It took some persuading for me to go to the doctors and even then, the infection wasn't wholly cleared out until a few visits later. Between those visits, I decided to do something about my diet and introduce some Green Stuff.

Bad move.

Critically bad move. Turns out I was allergic to the orange juice I added to the diet. That critically affected my breathing to the point where I should have gone to the doctors because I could barely breathe, even when lying down to sleep. I also added lettuce to my sandwiches, which lasted six months before I figured I was allergic to that too. But not before the infection was spread from my calf to a significant amount of me.

Hence me referring to multiple Zombie patches.

However - I'm seeing the bad bits clear up a little bit each day now. I'll be staying on the Benadryl and will be keeping on those pasta bake things too. Partly cos I like them but mostly because that diet change has helped me out a lot in general. I won't be all clear by Comic Con but I'll be much closer.

Which means - time to get on with sorting a few things out and making a few changes which have been on hold for way too long. This has literally been years where my prime focus has been on getting better and it's led to a few things being neglected.

First up - Comic Con - plans and thoughts are coming together on this one. I'll be there on the Friday and I very much hope that I'll have at least one someone with me. One thing I've learned over my far too many years is that you can never neglect what you eat on long days out like this. It's critical or you flake out halfway through and don't appreciate it all.

If that special little lady I keep talking about does accept the offer, I know where lunch will be - apparently there is a Noodle Shop there. If she spots that, I may have to entice her out of there with something special (I'm betting there are Groot models, that may do it). And there's plenty of proper eating places around the venue too. That was my big fear, I consider it dangerous to drive on an empty stomach after a long day. If you fade out while driving, you're in a 70mph missile. So me offering to buy dinner is not just a friendly gesture !

Still not sure about whether I'd take the car all the way in or use the Underground to avoid negotiating the traffic.

A near future priority is sorting out my boiler. It's still making very nasty noises and isn't effectively heating the house. Definitely a near term priority. Crossing fingers that it doesn't cost too much. It can heat the water so I can have showers but the hot water isn't reaching the radiators.

There's more than a few other tidying up jobs I have to do around the house as well. It's not in a shape that I'd want visitors to see it in. Definitely not in the shape I'd need it to be for selling up and moving on to the Sleeping Dragon narrowboat.

New job - I need more cash (I'm ok - just would like to build savings quicker). Plus it's about time I changed where I work. I've been there way too many years. That's another effect of the illness, it put me down to maybe 50% of my capability (still better than a few people I see) and I was concentrating on the day job, instead of looking wider. Actually, that's far better than some I've seen too, where they're concentrating 95% on their MSc and screwing up the day job in the remaining 5%.

Before anyone thinks that's them, it's someone who left the organisation many years ago and they're not someone I've mentioned here.

But yeah - new job, new things to do. Just one problem, limited choice of interesting places to work in the organisation. That's a topic not for here because my reasons are FAR too sensitive to put here ! Let's just say I work with very exotic toys that you sometimes hear about in the news.

Finding someone to share it all with - this has been something I've wanted for a very long time. I keep thinking I've found someone special but outside of 2 ill fated long term relationships, I've not found that right person. Yet. Or at least I don't think I have.

I still have my hopes for one special little lady. I watch the videos and listening to what she says triggers all sorts of responses (of the conversational kind ...). Or she comes out with something that makes me laugh loud enough that the neighbours can hear it (over the noisy boiler and the stereo)

No - I haven't given up there. I rarely do give up on people. Leave 'em alone if it looks like they don't want to know me but give up ? Never. Never Give Up, Never Surrender. Name that film ! (Ok, I got reminded about Galaxy Quest through a twitter convo last night and added it to the list of films I seriously need to watch again)

There have been a few interesting looking ones on Okcupid but I rarely get replies to messages. Ok, I got one who declared "I'm looking for a serious man for a serious relationship". Yep, that's what I think I am and it's what I'm looking for but ... it has to be as equals and this seemed like anything but. The lady I grow old with has to be someone I respect and I wouldn't be respecting someone with the minimal and poorly worded mis spelled (beyond your yours your's) info on her profile.

I'm rambling again aren't I ? Stuff from tonight :

Illness - getting better. About damn time.
General condition - losing weight :-), rest of it - could do with work.
Comic Con - really looking forward to it. On my own - fun. If Steamgirl comes - it'll be good to meet up again and get swept along by her. With the special little someone - AWESOME
Job - I have a cool job with great people but I need something new and technical again. The current job is dominated by process - yawn.
Soulmate - hopeful always but still on my own. I miss regular hugs. I miss the chats. I miss the bickering if you can believe that. But most - I miss doing things for other people. The little things that they appreciate way more than their apparent significance.

I think that's me about rambled out. I'll close with a bit more on that general condition thing - as my outsides improve, it's highlighting where my insides are struggling. The swellings have gone, which in places where protecting bad bits like my knees. That's ok, I just remember to walk in a way that doesn't stress the knees. I think I may need a new hip in my 5th decade. Legs that used to be good for push starting cars are lacking their power. I've leant on and abused natural fitness for a very long time now and need to supplementing that with some conditioning work now.

I think that conditioning work would help out everything else to be honest. I suspect most of my inside aches and pains are down to bits not being used very much. There's been a few times where I've been doubtful for cricket due to a stiff back and ... once I got on the field and did the warm ups, the stiffness in the back went away and I was back to zooming around at Warp Speed.

A little running around can be very good for you.

Especially as I can dodge again now.

Hmm - is that a good thing considering that it tends to be Pretty Ladies at work that I tend to be dodging most ? (lots of blind corners - honest guv)

Monday, October 13, 2014

A to Z - N is for Neverwinter

What's Neverwinter ? Another game ! But more of that later.

This is post 996 and I threatened that 1000 might involve singing ... Tell you what, it sounds really strange when you listen to your own voice being played back from the outside. Mine isn't a great booming voice. It's quite resonant and tremulous. Our voices sound very different to other people. We hear our voices directly through our skull, it's bound to sound different.

Mine sounds like it's coming from someone lacking in confidence. That's fair actually and it's something I should try and do something about. And when I sing, to get a decent note out I have to sing loud, that being a function of getting enough air going over the vocal chords to vibrate them properly. Urk. Science bit.

The 1000 post may involve singing but it'll have to be of way higher standard than what I tried out tonight. Voice wasn't really playing nicely. Yep - I have my mic working again :-). And I have the Audacity software too, which turned the Edge Of Darkness tracks into how they should have been off the album.

On to the N's !

First up is Naked by Talking Heads. Not my favourite of their's (that's Stop Making Sense). It has their character but that's submerged beneath ... bland. Not one I'd pick out for special listenings.

Unlike ... Never For Ever by Kate Bush. Ms Bush has a talent for creating true albums. They're not just a collection of tracks, they come together to make something greater than the sum of parts. Many favourites here, including The Infant Kiss.

Carly Simon sang the theme for The Spy Who Loved Me, one of my favourite Bond movies. And she's in here with her greatest hits collection, Never Been Gone. Favourite has to be the acidic You're So Vain.

Nirvana have to be in here and it's Nevermind. I have to confess, I never saw what the big thing was with Nirvana (I know - burn the heretic). They made great songs but submerged the beauty of them in dirge and noise. Smells Like Teen Spirit was the best but Tori Amos' version was better. Come As You Are is the best by Nirvana.

On to the soundtracks ... the original Neverwinter Nights (NWN) published in 2002 was Bioware's latest Dungeons and Dragons game. Their original (Baldur's Gate) was, appropriately for the time, pseudo 3d isometric (the background was set). NWN was fully 3d. Which helped ... and hindered. There was less party interaction, which was the main criticism. It was also 3rd edition DnD, which was ok ... but many people think that the DND rules have been on a slide since the 2nd ed set used for Baldur's Gate.

That said, good game. Lots of replayability as it's feasible to play through it with all the varied character classes, which are extended by the PRC pack which brings in all the silly prestige special classes. I'll be building a dual wielding specialist in my current playthrough. That'd be 2 weapons all with heavy sneak attack damage for really silly damage potential. And it'll be to a classic soundtrack too. Look out for this one on GOG.com.

I've been a fan of All About Eve from my early teens. Their lead singer, Julianne Regan, has a distinctive voice that's in my range. (Or at least the range I think I have !) She had a collaboration with a group called Mice, which brought forth the New And Improved album. Lots of good tracks here but I like the story told by Miss World.

Another soundtrack ? Nexus The Jupiter Project was effectively Imperium Galactica 3, a sequel to 2 games that had promise but didn't deliver. Nexus was supposed to be a bit more focused and had some good reviews. I think I got it as part of a GoG.com bundle. Soundtrack ain't bad.

Queen are next with their very best album - Night At The Opera. Yes, this is the one with Bohemian Rhapsody ...

Tori Amos has been ultra prolific over the years. I've lost count of how many albums she's come out with (which means I ran out of fingers). Her N album is Night of Hunters. Not bad but I didn't pick out any highlights.

Suzanne Vega is another who's been a favourite since my teens and Nine Objects Of Desire is another of her consistently high standard. She's another very pure and perfect with the timing female voice which shows in tracks like Caramel.

I listen to metal too ... Iron Maiden's No Prayer For The Dying was one of their last albums. Still a good one with tracks like the Bring Your Daughter To The Slaughter which brought massive disapproval from the Establishment when it went to the top of the charts. Need more like it.

Little Boots sprang to attention after doing a series of Youtube cover videos, recorded in her bedroom. Nocturnes was her second album and it's interesting to see this diminutive dance diva evolve into a true superstar. She's got an amazing voice in there and is applying that to catchy tracks like Shake. (And here's one of the YT covers too ...)

It's approaching Christmas ! Whether we like it or not ! And this is the N post, which means there's a Noel hiding in here. This one is from Joan Baez, another of those amazingly pure female voices.

Not so pure but oh so sexy huskiness is the character of the Norah Jones voice. I'm a firm fan of Norah Jones and will pick up her albums as they come out. (Hint Hint - I haven't got Featuring ... Norah Jones yet!). Her N is Not Too Late which has superlative tracks like Wake Me Up and the highly political My Dear Country.

Garbage returned to commercial music with Not Your Kind Of People. Not bad but it irritated me by being overpriced for a long time. It's a decent album, perhaps not as inspired as their earlier work. The title track is one of the highlights.

And the last one is a Now ... album. That has all sorts of favourites in, like Heart's Alone (not A Loan although I did grin at that ad), Cameo's Word Up but I'll go back to Kate Bush with Running Up That Hill.

And that's it for N ! I don't have many O's so that one might be out soon. Cya later !

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Coming up on milestones

I have two of those coming up actually ...

One is for here. This post will be number 995. Of those published at least. There's another 11 that are languishing (forever!) in the drafts box for various reasons.

One is for me - I'll hit one of those age milestones in just over a month.

Scary.

But I'll still be hoping people will guess hilariously young ages if I can get a guess out of them when I bring in the donuts and cakes. One person thought I was still in my twenties last time. I loved that. I guess that comes from what I look like on the outsides (and losing some weight has taken another few years off) and how I act.

I'm out for the fun.

I'm an easy going person. Live and let live and all that. I like to think I love the world and everything in it. Even those things that aren't particularly lovable. (I have to watch myself when driving though, the demon horns come out). I'm one of the smart ones too, although a defense mechanism learned early means that smartness sometimes gets concealed. Not very well apparently !

I can be serious and pro when I need to be but I keep that for when it's needed. The rest of the time, I'd rather be the grinning fool trying to make others chuckle. At least, when the depressive tendencies aren't kicking. We have to be serious sometimes in my line of work though. I won't say what it is but lives genuinely do depend on the quality of it.

That's enough about work - although if you look in the right place here, there's 1 post that mentioned the project I work on last ...

Milestones ?

Birthday is one of them and it's close enough that I'm stopping buying things. Adding stuff to the wish list ? Sure. But ... you have to leave stuff for people to buy ... Although there's not many people who buy me stuff. /sob. Oh well. Can I buy some more friends ? Do they come from Rent-A-Friend ?

That's a really silly thought. I don't have many people here who I count as real friends but those I have, I value hugely. I love 'em to bits. And I wouldn't ask anything from them that they wouldn't be prepared to give anyway. That said, I'd like to find an extra special friend who I could share my stuff, troubles, strength, weakness, laughter with. And the rest. I thought I'd found that special friend a few times but ... still looking.

(Although I am still hoping that a special little lady will let me take her to Comic Con)

I have bought myself something for my birthday - and it's for Comic Con. I got me a camera ... It's a Canon Ixus 265 and I have to say, the feature that's impressed me most is the ability to control it from my phone. Love that, although it does depend on wifi and I'm not sure if that would be too available when out and about. I'm looking forward to trying it out. And there's another reason for that :

My outsides are steadily improving. That makes it freer to do stuff like randomly go to unusual places. I don't get out enough and that's been a legacy of the problems with my outsides. It's still not sorted but it's getting closer.

Other milestone ?

I've been thinking. And this is the point where you prepare to run. Because :

I love my music
I love my singing
I love writing about music here
And I thought I could combine that ...

With me singing a few of my favourite songs and linking the results here. That depends on a few things though : getting a mic input again. Figuring out where to put it (no web camera will be used). Figuring out what to sing. Figuring out how to do it while having the prompter going (I can sing well when accompanying but badly when there's no backing) And getting the right day to do it. My voice can be pretty variable, some days it's amazing, some days I can barely croak out a note.

Songs ? I have a few ideas :
Cardigans 03.45 am No Sleep - this was the original Sleepy Sings song when I got drawn into joining in with 2 very sweet Swedish ladies from the WoW guild.
Moon River - for that special little lady who I keep mentioning.
All About Eve's Apple Tree Man
Mindy Gledhill's I Do Adore
ABBA - Thank You For The Music - of course
Alisha's Attic - The Incidentals
Bat For Lashes - Laura (perhaps)
Caro Emerald - something from Stuck or A Night Like This (maybe not - she's way too good)
Edie Brickell - loads here, perhaps Buffalo Ghost or Ghost Of A Dog
It's Not Over Yet (from the Goldfrapp version)
Thunderchild or Forever Autumn
Kate Bush - Oh England My Lionheart

I think that's enough for now. I'd suggest Beatles but I think they get nasty over copyright. (If you haven't watched Across The Universe, I'd thoroughly recommend it). And listing those was, of course, an excuse for me to listen and sing along to them yet again.

The song post maaaaay happen ... If you'd like to see (hear?) it happen, chuck in some ideas for songs in the comments :-)

Thursday, October 09, 2014

Shopping list

I've had a couple of things hit the priority list for shopping ...

Techie shopping that is.

The pooter and laptop and all the other home computing/electronic stuff is all good. Pumpkin (my desktop) is a few years old now but is definitely not feeling its age. It's hanging in there pretty well, which is one of the lessons - if you buy the maximum you can afford, while still being sensible, then you get a PC that lasts for many years. I used to buy base spec, every 18 months, because that was what I could afford. That actually costs more in the long run as it gets out of date quicker. Mind you, that was in a time when pooter power was growing spectacularly.

Nah - the pooter and Macbook are doing pretty well, no need to buy bits for those. But what does that leave ?

A camera.

I've been curious about a camera ever since trying to take that low light shot of the moon a few weeks ago. The iPhone 5 has a decent camera on it in terms of megapixels but its low light performance is appalling and it doesn't have an optical zoom. My other camera is a Nikon Coolpix 4300, which I believe may have been bought last century. (I don't think it's that old) It only has a 4 megapixel sensor and it absolutely murdered its batteries.

So for Comic Con and other things, I'm looking for a camera with a modern sensor and a battery life that'll last all day. Which is more than can be said for that iPhone too ...

The favourite choice at the moment is between two Canon Ixus. I don't want to spend too much cash, so it's between the 150 and the 155. The 150 has a 16 megapixel sensor, the 155 has 20. The 150 may actually be a better camera due to that. Less pixels mean the area per pixel is bigger, which means they can grab in more light. I'll probably get it from a local place, Bristol Cameras, as that means I'm supporting a local trader instead of the uncaring monolith that is the big national stores.

Oh and they're cheap too. That always helps.

I bought the Comic Con ticket today, which means finding a printer for the ticket ... Well, it worked six months ago for Rezzed but is now whinging that it needs a new black cartridge. Before and after changing. Uhoh. May need to shop for another printer ... Darn those short lived easy to break inkjets.

I'm also looking for image manipulation software. I'm currently using the Gimp but don't get on with its silly selection method. It also doesn't do curve transformations apparently. I'd like to get Photoshop Elements but don't want to pay the £50 it would cost.

Solution ? Use VMPlayer to make a pretend PC inside this one which would run WinXP with an old enough version of Internet Explorer to run Photoshop Elements 1. The problem is that PE1 demands IE4 and only checks one digit of the version. So IE10 and IE11 become IE1. Silly people. Typical of Adobe programming to be honest. It's a shame Flash is so pervasive because it's a horrendous buggy insecure example of messy software that bloated way beyond its original purpose.

Camera, software, printer ...

Phone ? My iPhone 5 is coming up for the end of its contract in a few months. I only have one problem with it, there's a nasty battery life. Plus it'll shut itself down at anything between 20 and 35% and not wake up until its fed with more power. I've seen it shut down at 50% once. Options :

Update to an Iphone 5s or iPhone 6. That's not going to happen because I'm quite happy with iOS6 and don't want to break iTunes by changing from that.
Switch to a cheaper contract so I'm not spending more than I need to. This will happen if possible.
Buy a battery extender - need to find one of these. I totally forgot at the Mall on Tuesday.

I'm sure there's a few more bits and pieces of techie stuff I really need apart from camera and battery extender. I'm getting closer to a new mouse too because mine is starting to double bounce on the left click button. It's a Microsoft Habu mouse which I've had for a few years and I've been quite pleased with it. Pleased enough that I'd buy another.

Headphones too. I have a headset mic but could do with a headphone + mic combo that would let me record things. I'd like it to plug into USB too, instead of the analogue port which I don't think I connected. (There's one at the back but that involves reaching ...)

That all makes for a decent shopping list huh ?

I'm only likely to get the camera and the battery extender. The camera is a bit of a luxury item but ... it is a big birthday coming up on 13 Nov. (Age ... classified) The battery extender is more of an essential because that iPhone battery barely lasts out the day.

Could someone be a little too addicted to the internet ? Perhaps ! :-)

Wednesday, October 08, 2014

Two Tone Post

Ok - so what does that title mean ?

I have positives and negatives at the moment.

The big positive is that after my little skirmish with a depressive cycle last week, I seem to have risen out of that. Partly thanks to friends and colleagues giving me that hand to lift me up, partly due to my general condition improving.

And my condition has been generally improving - my outsides are more intact now than they were last week. Hopefully I'll keep it that way and not cause it to go backwards. I have a target of MCM Comic Con - that'll be much easier if my outsides are ok but it'll take that kind of time for repairs to happen.

Some of the damage - repairs within maybe 3 days
Other bits of damage - take ... longer

But I am seeing that general sign of improvement which is helping lots. Things like my ankles not being a painful distraction through the day. My neck's still bad but that's something I hope will settle down when my general condition normalises.

Negatives ?

Regular readers will have spotted me chasing someone over the last few months. I actually saw the lady at a show about 6 months ago with that brief encounter allowing my instincts to confirm what I already knew from what I'd seen on the web. That this was a little lady with rare passion, intelligence and all the rest of the things that made me Know with that strange certainty that this was someone I wanted to know better. And everything I could see about her suggested she wanted the same. Someone she could get to know better, company.

Yeah - the instincts confirmed everything I already know. I trust those instincts, although they've been badly wrong a few times before (they're a bit rosetinted and sometimes tell me just what I want to see). But ... I am usually able to see right past the surface and figure out what a person is really like. And what do I see ?

A person genuinely interested in the world around her. Glittering eyes that are taking everything in with interest.
Someone who has an instinct for finding the Fun.
A beauty of spirit that accompanies external attractiveness.
A characteristic voice backed by intelligence, humour and wit that I'm happy to close the eyes and focus in on.
(I usually have 2 or 3 maybe more sources of input going on at once but when it's worth it ? I'll focus in on the special stuff).
Similar interests - going across the games we like and the movies we watch.
Dunno about the music - that's from a 12 year age gap.
And more too.

Sum everything up and you get someone I feel seems like a perfect soulmate. Similar interests, similar intelligence, a strength of personality we can help each other with when we're weak and lastly, a love for life.

But ... all that chasing and no result. No feedback. No communication. No effort to check out the person who could be just who you're looking for. (She does peek at the blog posts I link at her but that's it)

The question you have to ask yourself is - is all that chasing worth it ? When do you decide to give up and look elsewhere ? I think I'm rapidly reaching that point.

While it might look sometimes like I flirt with everything in sight, I'm actually a lot more focused than that. I'll be very friendly (not touchy) but there's a certain limit past which I won't go. I think sometimes that's why ladies respond to that flirting, because they know I'll go away at a certain point before things get awkward.

But certain ladies, I'll be very interested in seeing if they'll go past that certain limit into territory that will be more ... familiar. However, before I go there, I'll need assurance that the approach is welcome (which has all sorts of checkboxes ....)

Yeah - it's getting close to the point where I look elsewhere, although there's still a few more weeks for that Comic Con offer to be accepted. I think, however, that it'll go ignored. We shall see !

I could be surprised. I hope I'll be surprised. But I'll try not to be too disappointed if it doesn't happen. At the end of the day, we both miss out on each other, which is sad. But ... there's only so many first steps you can take and if the other person never turns around to see who's calling ?

And I'll stop there before I come out with one metaphor too many !

But before you think I'm on the verge of another depressive cycle with all this, I'll take the disappointment philosophically. Which may tell you that I've given up on this particular little lady already ...

If it doesn't happen - I'm prepared to move on
If it does happen - remember that cloud I mentioned ? That'll be me riding on top of it.

Monday, October 06, 2014

A to Z - M is for Marvellous

Also for Madonna and a couple more too.

I'm running very close to hitting 1000 posts ... I may have to think of something special to mark that milestone. I'm oh so welcome to ideas !

But now - while I'm half ignoring Star Trek Original Series reruns (it seems a bit of a letdown compared to today's scifi), that gives me a perfect opportunity to do the M post ... (These posts involve a lot of Youtube surfing, which I don't like doing when watching other YT vids)

First up is Clannad, who have two albums in the M's. We see Macalla and Magical Ring. Macalla is mostly pop, Magical Ring is more traditional/atmospheric. They're both outstanding albums in their own right and it's tough to find highlights from them. But ... I found something with the two best from Macalla, it's the happy Closer To Your Heart and the more plaintive Almost Seems Too Late To Learn. Spot that 80's special dancing.

Clannad were always led by the marvellous voice of Maire Brennan. It's so flexible, able to adapt to the poppy songs as well as the more traditional Irish folky songs like the beautiful Coinleach Ghlas An Fhómhair. And ... it's one I can happily sing along to ! My voice has a strange range. It can't follow voices like Michael Stipe with Losing My Religion but it is suited to the ranges groups like Clannad and Tori Amos use. Well, I would sing along if I could understand the Gaelic.

Soundtracks ! There's a few in here but I'll pull out Tomas Dvorak's Machinarium as a major highlight. It's from a point and click game with a massively charming robot. I'd thoroughly recommend it but get the soundtrack as well, it's an excellent piece of music. Highlight ? Clockwise Operetta.

Dubstar come in next with Make It Better. The song Stay is my highlight here, with its dancy melody and the chorus line "Sarah Makes It Better". Hearing a voice that pure definitely makes my day better. Yes, there's a bit of autotuning in there but most of it is that wonderful Sarah voice.

Dire Straits brought out a bunch of albums and I think their most underrated and I think one of their best is Making Movies. There's a collection of amazing tracks on here, most of which I've linked before. Romeo and Juliet has the guitar interplay with keyboard and we see similar on Expresso Love. Nah, this time it's the turn of Skateaway for the story that it tells.

Another soundtrack - Mars Attacks was a B movie classic when it came out and when we went to see it, I was dissolving into laughter in the opening scenes. They started with one spinning ufo. Then a few more joined in formation. Then another formation and another until the screen was full of these off axis badly spinning wholly cliched saucer ufo's. I found that hilarious. And all the while, there's the equally cliched opening title music playing. A truly classic movie that I need to watch again. Soon.

On to games - when I saw Master of Magic and Master of Orion on sale on Good Old Games.com, I couldn't resist. They were why I came out of uni with a 2:2 Hons MEng instead of 1st Hons MEng. Too much gaming - bad me. Master of Magic took the Civilisation theme but moved it into a fantasy setting with magic. It had different races with their own characteristics and limits. Moo was Civ in space. Both games had decent music with the power to drive you nuts cos of their repetition. It's good to hear it again.

Game soundtracks like Master of Magic are a real nostalgia kick. They hail from the days of the original Soundblaster cards. These did music using the OPL3 FM synthesizer chip. It was pretty simple and cheap. Although some fancier people with deeper pockets used cards like the Gravis Ultrasound which had a whole up to 1MB of memory on board to help make music ...

Enigma are in here with MCMXC A.D. It's one of the all time classic albums and not just for making Gregorian Chants trendy. My highlight is the lengthy Sadeness. Don't tell me you don't join in with the heavy breathing lady ? Enigma caught the imagination by coming out just at the right time with something totally unique.

Madonna is another with a pair of M albums in here, first is MDNA which follows the dancy Confessions on a Dance Floor. It's not quite as good (Confessions was exceptional) but is saved by tracks like Turn Up The Radio. The other M for Madonna album is Music with tracks like ... Music. Yep, I like the title track best on this one.

Time to whip through a few quickies :

Pink Floyd turned the corner into the 70s with Meddle. It was a more electronic form, characterised by the groundbreaking One Of These Days.
Miami Vice was a series I missed (too young - bah) but it always had great music like Glenn Frey's Smuggler's Blues (sadly no video because various muppets have DMCA'd it - boo hiss).
I mentioned Tori Amos earlier ? Midwinter Graces was Tori Does Xmas and it was a good album too. Highlight - Our New Year.
Pink Floyd are also here with A Momentary Lapse Of Reason, their first album without Roger Waters definitely setting a different tone. It's far more bland but is still worth a listen for uplifting songs like Learning To Fly.
Mike Oldfield comes in with his Moonlight Shadow collection, it has excerpts of all his classics.

After Dire Straits, there was the Notting Hillibillies with Mark Knopfler applying his guitar play to a more country style. And it kicks off pretty well with Railroad Worksong.

I occasionally hear songs or hear them mentioned and wonder : "In a 13,000 track library, how come I don't have this ?" And one such song was mentioned by that ever wonderful lady Miss Kim. Especially for her : Moon River. She mentioned it on one of her videos, which led to me buying a Henry Mancini collection with lots more classics as well as Moon River. Well worth it.

I'm a collector of Air's works now. Again, a little bit different to the norm and thus, highly interesting for me as a collector. Variation is good. And it all started with Moon Safari, with the sublime tracks All I Need and You Make It Easy. Love them. (Especially as I can sing along!)

Old classic ? Led Zep are in the M's with their Mothership collection. I have to say, I find a lot of their stuff average. But ... But. Stairway to Heaven ! Is there a better rock n roll song ?

Last one ! Honest. Cor, this one has turned out longer than I thought. I picked up an Andrew Lloyd Webber "Musical Masterpieces" collection a while ago. There's some good stuff here. Lots of tat too. But the tat gets forgiven with tracks like Don't Cry For Me Argentina.

N's will wait for a bit - adding the soundtrack to Final Fantasy 7 has put a bit of a gap in the schedule ... It's massive !

Back soon :-) In the meantime, all ideas welcome for a 1000th post.