Sunday, February 19, 2017

So a new song happened ...

Not wanting to talk too much about me at the moment ... Cos there's better things to talk about !

(I'll give an update at the end).

I've been rewriting the songs again. Adding it here so a couple of extra people can see it.
This time it's inspired mostly by the lovely Lauren (aka Radderss - see link on the right) who has just started playing the game The Witcher 3. There's a bit of inspiration from Yogs Hannah too, who spotted this from a short play through she did of the same game. You see, there's a non player character in there who has lost something ... She says it in a really broad country type accent. And the country people in this game definitely have something in common with deepest Zummerzet and a little bit of the Devon too.

Yep. She says "Moi Pan" in a way only a local could.

My mind couldn't let it stay at just that though. Nope. There had to be a song. Especially when the lovely Radderss (who just got partnership with Twitch - hurrah !) started singing the Combine Harvester song.

Here it is. And don't click on the Combine Harvester link ... It'll give context and tune for what's coming but ... listening to Wurzels has been known to endanger people's sanity. BEWARE !

The way this one is intended is that it is being sung by the Moi Pan lady, who is brandishing that pan at a rather scared looking but normally ultra tough looking Witcher fella (monster bounty hunter) called Geralt. She gonna get her man if she has to hit him over the head with her pan and drag him back to her house.

A Serenade for Geralt :
You rode your horse Roach through my hayfield last night
(ooh aah ooh aah)
I threw an old pan at the door HEY YOU QUIET
(ooh aah ooh aah)
Now something's telling me
That you're avoiding me
Come on now darling I've got something you need

[Chorus] Cuz I got a brand new fryin' pan
An' I'll fry you some tea
Come on now let's have the fry up
It's gert lush can't you see
I got bacon rashers
An' you got herbs-I see
Now I got a brand new fryin' pan
An' I'll fry you some tea

You make me laugh ha ha

I'll stick by you, I'll give thee all that you need
(moi pan moi pan)
We'll 'ave eggs and bacon
I'm a girl built for speed
(moi pan moi pan)
And you know I'll love you darlin'
So give me your 'and
(moi pan moi pan)
But what I want the most
Is all thy best cards of gwent


Ooaah he's a lovely bit of stuff an' all

For seven long years I've been alone in this place
(moi pan moi pan)
Eat, sleep, in the kitchen, it's a proper disgrace
(moi pan moi pan)
Now if I cleaned it up would you change your mind
(moi pan moi pan)
I'll give up drinking cider and it'll only be tea


Who loves thee Geralt ha

Weren't we a grand couple that last time you danced
Oi wore moi best dress and that fine brasserie
In your new Sunday best with that beard trimmed just right
We had our portrait done, now you have the card

Now I got a brand new fryin' pan
An' I'll fry you some tea
Now that we're both past our fifties I think that you, yes you
Should stop that damn witcherin' and you'll marry me
Cos I got a brand new fryin' pan
An' I'll fry you some tea

Aahh yu're a fine lookin' witcher and I can't wait to get me 'ands on your unicorn !

Haha. I did warn you. I suspect it does need a little context from the game though.

How about me ? Rough week. I had the pizza on the Tuesday night which hit me far worse than usual. I was actually ill ... that hasn't happened for a while. Only slightly ill but still ill. So ... no sleep plus feeling decidely ropey from the after effects.

That's pretty much passed now but my outsides went backwards too. I'll be wearing more of the bandages tomorrow and it's been handy having an extra day off this weekend.

It's not as bad as that seems though, at least my body is attempting to heal up now even if it's just all two steps forward, a step to the side and a leap backwards sometimes. Just gotta manage the damage until it all goes away. It is healing, just very slowly.

That's enough from me though. If you're reading this on Sunday, check out that stream while it's still on !

Monday, February 13, 2017

Time for another weekend ?


Lots of driving over the weekend. So much so, that I actually had to refill the petrol in the car that I picked up on Friday.
I don't have those. Yet.

Let's see ... pick up the car on Friday, back to Bristol and chill out for a bit (while checking out as many systems on board as possible). Wait 30 minutes on hold to Esure* to update the insurance before the chill out and then head up norf to go see the mum and dad.

(I will not be insuring with them again this year, an automated attempt at a survey plus that long wait is putting paid to that)

No Ben this time around. Definitely missing the old fella, especially with the little sounds that happen around houses. Are they house noises ? Or are they the little click and clack of paw claws on the ground. Things like that remind of what's missing. But it was the old fella's time to leave, he'd lost all of his energy and was having to take himself off for sleeps after only a couple of minutes of activity. Mum and dad were saying he'd lost all interest in walks and food. If they have lost all interest in life and they are obviously in pain, that's the time to let our furry friends go.

To other things !

It's always good to see the mum and dad, plus also good to see the sister and the Double D boys. Only one of them this weekend as we met up for munchies yesterday. I think Saturday's munchies were better.
I do apologise if my vegetarian readers had to take themselves off somewhere on seeing that :-). It was tastier than it looks and a bit bigger than expected too. All good steak too with none of the gristle that often mars steak. It's from a farm shop place near Sleaford, will give you the name if you want it. I'm currently munching on a bon bon from there.

I may have a bon bon addiction problem.

Oh and that wine was very tasty too. That's another potential addiction problem that I'm going to try and steer well clear of. I've found myself thinking about having the wine at home. I'm usually teetotal or close to it. I will not drink if I'll be driving soon. I don't drink at home because it would be a bad habit to get into. But it does taste good.

No. I'll stay with the diet coke/pepsi and irn bru, plus water.

I don't tend to talk about the family too much here (it's behind the privacy wall) but they're still doing pretty good. Dad's getting stronger after problems last year and the mum is healthy too.

How did the car do in its first weekend ?

It's as if they listed all of the criticisms of the Mk1 and fixed them for the Mk2, although there are a couple of features missing (beyond the different spec list) that I'd have liked to see retained. A couple ? I can think of one at the moment (in a bit).

The thing I look for most in a car is how it goes around corners. The CT was on rails, the last IS, not really so much. It's as if you had to drag it around corners, it was far more comfortable on the motorways than it was whizzing around the corners. The latest one is much better. There are a couple of corners near where the parents live that I treat kind of like reference corners. They're fast, sweeping bends and they'll test how good the road holding is. As in, they're tighter than motorway or most major road bends, so you're kinda hanging on when you take them at 70mph. Or 60. The new IS didn't really notice the main two, whereas the old one was asking me to slow down.

I was a bit sad that my own personal Eau Rouge corner (it's on the Spa Grand Prix circuit, a very fast sequence in a dip where the suspension compresses as you take the corner) was blocked by numpties turning off the road at that point. Boo hiss and no fun to them.

Sat nav is different - it's an odd one to advise people to have in a car but if it's free and comes as part of an infotainment system, then hopefully it's a good one. The mouse thingy of the last car has gone, replaced by a dial. I preferred the mouse thingy. The sat nav has got a mode back where it shows a big graphic on motorway exits and major roundabouts. I really like that and it seemed to have disappeared from the last car (I think I enabled a setting that disabled the big graphic).

New seats !

I have seat heaters again. I'd missed these, they're great on cold winter days, especially if you have a bad back. The comments from the weekend were that the seats were much improved, although I suspect that revamped rear suspension has something to do with that. When I travelled in the back of a car, it was quite disconcerting in some cars as you felt like you were sliding more than the car.

Drive by wire - apart from steering, the hybrids are drive by wire. You have the throttle and brake but these are linked to electronics rather than the carburettors or air intakes or brake cylinders of conventional cars. This has got better too, I used to avoid using Normal driving mode in town because the car would kangaroo hop into traffic lights as the drive by wire got confused as to whether it should be using mechanical brake or electronic brake. That's gone now, all sorted.

I can't think of much more ! Oh - Radar cruise control - bit weird but very nice. Lane Departure Warning System - nice for motorways, nasty for town (because it tries to steer you back into the parked cars you are crossing to lane to avoid).

I did take it out again today up to Cheltenham and back (I was a numpty on Friday and forgot one of the keys) but was too tired to want to stick around. I had thought about sitting in the cinema in Cheltenham with a bucket of popcorn but nothing suitable on at the right time. Oh well.

Promising films at the moment - Lego Batman : YES, The Great Wall - looking forward to it, John Wick 2 - interesting and I think there are a couple more too.

Chill out time for me now though. Back to work tomorrow and my brain still feels fried.

One last thought though ... the name.

Every car needs a name. Potentials at the moment are :

Ivy - because the Grey Ghost had the Voice of Moobot and Ivy took over from Moobot.
Kirk - because the last car made me think of Benedict Cumberbatch's character in Star Trek Into Darkness with the quote "Because I'm better", with the "better" sounding like he was spitting venom. Well, Kirk beat the "better" guy in every way ! So Kirk is a potential name.

Ahhh ... I think I got it.
There was an American aircraft carrier in World War 2 called USS Enterprise, nicknamed the Grey Ghost. It gave its name to a certain starship commanded by Mr James T Kirk ... and the starship that replaced it was NCC 1701 Alpha.

Grey Ghost 2 may well be called : Alpha.

Wotcha think ?

Sunday, February 05, 2017

I have free bubble wrap

This is a good day. (See title).
Yep. Graphics card came wrapped in the bubble wrap. Lots of it. Like ... enough to keep me amused for a WHOLE DAY ! Perhaps.

I have been testing it out too. It's probably quite sad that one of the first things I really noticed was that the Anti Aliasing (the smoothing out of lines) is far better on the new card ... Oh and it was as smooth, possibly smoother than the last one. Can't really notice that as I don't think Elite was tough enough on the last card to max it out, so a more powerful card has an even easier time.
Cue gratuitous shot of a Pretty Space Ship passing by a purple star. Actually a brown dwarf but they show up as violet due to the light emissions of the star going off the blue end of the spectrum.

What's this about anti-aliasing ? This may go a bit too techie but bear with me, I'll hopefully quickly explain some of the mystery around how the graphics people make things look good. Check out Screenie 1 :
(you may want to Click for Bigger on these !) That's with anti-aliasing turned on. What is it ? It's a graphical method of smoothing out straight lines so they don't look too jagged. This is SMAA (Subpixel Morthological Anti Aliasing). I don't really know what the difference is with the various types of Anti-aliasing except that they all to some degree hurt the performance that you see. The graphics card gets too busy smoothing everything out leading to lower frame rates and jumpiness of what you see.

Here is me doing the trip to another station with Anti-aliasing turned off :
The thing to look for is the orange line in the middle. In the game, it shows the orbital path of what you're heading towards and at distances like this, it approximates out to a straight line. Perfect for demonstrating this anti aliasing thing.

How about a closer look ?
If you click for bigger on that, it'll show how the line is smoothed out by adding in extra pixels of the same colour which steadily fade to background. That's zoomed in 5x from the original, although I suspect scaling in web browsers will damage some of the demonstration.
On that one, the line just steps at the appropriate point.

It's enough of an effect for a knowledgeable eye to spot it and the SMAA didn't seem to hurt the frame rate much. Saying that though, one reason why I got the 1440p monitor with more pixels is that if the pixels are smaller, you can turn antialiasing off for better performance and not notice the jaggies too much. Although saying that, the performance is hurt by the graphics card needing to push more pixels around.

Yep. Some fun was had earlier in moving my big ship around to another space station looking for materials for a Community Goal. There will be a bonus for taking enough material there which will buy more guns for the Cutter. Or it will go towards another Python for bouncing around the galaxy trading rare goods.

How do the actual objects in the game look ? I've shown the inside of the stations before and they look pretty spectacular. But while I know most of the Why for how images like this next one appear on screen, the wannabe space pilot in me still sees it as a miracle and something pretty darn Awesome.
I did notice some artifacts coming in though where the system was cheating a bit to keep up with frame rates. There is a grid, known in game as the Toaster Rack, out in front of the letterbox entryway to the stations which wasn't doing quite as well on the antialiasing thing. But that station looks pretty amazing doesn't it ?

Here's something else that looks awesome as well :
Bit too dark perhaps. I may have to investigate the reshade mods that are available for Elite.

But for now ... may the new graphics card last a lot longer than the last one.

Saturday, February 04, 2017

Hardware Failure can be Traumatic


There I was, looking for a quiet healing weekend and ...
Oh dear.

It's another sudden hardware failure ! Well, perhaps not sudden because the temperature gauge and graphics processor monitor app I have has been falsely reporting for a week or so now. I thought that was just a driver but ...

There I am, finishing off the latest season in my Motorsport Manager game and suddenly ... the screen freezes. The game was still going because I could hear the car engines rising and falling in tone. I could alt+tab back into Windows but not do much more than that. Restart the game and the next attempt leads to a black screen ... That one needed a reboot to recover from.

And corruption on the screen. Quite nasty corruption actually, more than the simple dot pattern from when my last graphics card broke.

So that's Problem One - a catastrophic failure of something crucial in the graphics card. Only one thing to do there ... upgrade. I'd rather not do that at the moment cos that new car is kinda expensive ...

But this isn't the end of the hardware traumas ...

My computer is based off an Intel Sandy Bridge processor which has a graphics chip included for free. So I should be able to hook up the machine to the monitor that way.

Yes. And no.

You see, my new monitor is a bit too good. It's a cracking monitor actually but it demands a lot of what is sending it the pictures. I needed an HDMI lead to make it work on my old graphics card. It's very picky about DVI leads.

Problem Two - no picture appearing on monitor. PC continually rebooting. I think something had gone really badly wrong on that graphics card.

So out comes the old graphics card and the monitor gets plugged into the socket on the motherboard (for the graphics chip on that Sandy Bridge processor). Black screen again. In goes my old graphics cards (yep, cos I put the broken one in first ... derp) and .... black screen.

So I have a brainwave ... Let's try my old monitor !

Phew. Pictures appearing on a screen again, just not the right screen.

To fast forward a bit (and past another derp), I now have a working machine again in a temporary mode until the next graphics card appears on Sunday. It's an nVidia 1060 card, I'm definitely not going back to AMD any time soon. In hindsight, it was an optimistic pick because I've had a bunch of AMD/ATI cards break on me in the past as well.

I actually have two monitors hooked up at the moment, as my new one refuses to work unless the other one is plugged in as well. That'll resolve itself on Sunday with the new card. My other monitor is on the sofa as it won't fit on my desk with the other monitor.

Yep. Not ideal but at least I'll be able to watch videos and things tomorrow. I think it'll be a bad idea to try gaming, as those games are still set to run in 1440p, which is beyond what the cables can handle.

Tis a late post cos this has actually taken me maybe 5 hours to fix with all the diagnosing, multiple issues and incompatibilities. Getting the 1440p monitor was still a good idea though. It's an excellent screen and I've appreciated the clarity and the pixels when I do the image editing stuff.

But hopefully the rest of the weekend will go easier ... Did I mention that the keyboard got confused too and needed to be plugged into my laptop to wake it up again ? It was refusing to talk to the desktop for a while.

I'm actually posting this while listening to a video. Need some chill out time before I attempt sleep ...

PS The other derp was me making the fit a bit too temporary. As in not putting in the screw that fixes the graphics card in place ... and then pushing the card out of the socket with the monitor leads. Oops.

Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Feeling the pain

Things are feeling a bit harder at the moment.
Definitely sleepy. And I don't think it's from having too much popcorn, although the Cafe Gusto steak went down well tonight.

Yep. Tired. This time of year is always tough for me. Probably a touch of Seasonal Affective Disorder, where the lack of sunlight does funny things to your day night cycle. Today was a particular struggle with the sun buried behind thick dark clouds bearing rain all day. My day night cycle is pretty messed up anyway due to continuing insomnia. I think I'm sleeping better but it still feels like I'm doing more yawning than sleeping when I go to bed.

Yep, this is going to be one of those taking stock posts where I whinge about what's slowing me down. It lets me evaluate them and hopefully, figure out a way of overcoming them.

It seems to have been a good mental exercise over the years. But there is something to go with it ...

Identify your problems. Evaluate them. Don't allow them in any way to own you.

I had it in my mind to talk about Fear at some point. I've been described as "fearless" in my approach to things. YEAH I know !!! Weird huh. I wouldn't have used that word to describe how I tackle work. Insecure, procrastinating and timid yeah ... but not fearless. Perhaps that's coming from not wanting to waste people's time by waiting to tell them things. Or by not having any patience any more for procrastination, so I'll keep needling at people who don't respond. I did try to banish the fear when playing cricket, as you learn in that game that although the cricket ball is hard and scary, if you allow fear in then you hesitate and if you hesitate, you get hurt.

What's up at the moment ? I feel exhausted.

So much so that it's a factor in me procrastinating over going to see the Doctor again. My outsides are healing ... just very, very slowly and with a high chance of reverting to an earlier, worse state. But I suspect that in my current physical energy state, I would be signed off work for a week to rest and recuperate. Leave is not an option, I have a couple of days left only after reserving my days at Easter.

I don't want to have that time away, it just means a higher workload when I come back. I'm somewhat of a single point of failure at the moment, which is really, really bad. There's one thing being seen as a valuable person. It's another thing being the only person to be able to do a certain task. There is no such thing as indispensible though and anyone who sets themselves up as such needs a good kicking.

Pic ?

I also have pain from various areas, although that tends to randomly pick which place is sore and which place isn't. At the moment, it's a pair of calf muscles that want to tear themselves up every time I go up the stairs. I must have a fair old mineral imbalance from all the repairs that are going on at the moment.

At other times, it's my back. My shoulder and neck have been taking their turns too. A lot of that is cramp related. My hips are ruined, from the early stages of the problems with my outsides. Too much sitting on the floor. My left wrist has decided it doesn't want to have full movement at the moment (It's improving again, must have slept on it awkwardly).

Mentally, I'm being dragged back by my physical state. The conditions with my outsides are ... wearing. I think it's from being constantly aware of them. The various creams and things and bandages are helping but ... I know where the damage is and it constantly preys on my mind. If a small problem starts, I will know and it's likely to turn into a big problem before I can do much about it. And I also know that if I attack the problem area, then that sets back the healing even more. Imagine the guilt in my mind when I know I'm causing more problems ... yet you just can't stop.

Awkward yep.

So what's the plan ? How to fight the latent depressive feelings ? How to ignore the pain ?

I bug people. I now look for interaction with other people. I smile at people and hope for returning smiles. Those smiles make my day.

I do like to get smiles out of people, even if that goes as far as finding humour in all the wrong places. You know. Work places where we shouldn't be joking about some of the stuff we do. It's kinda like gallows humour but it does lighten the mood. It's necessary. Plus it opens up being seen as a little different instead of as a boring person.

I don't like being boring. Being different is interesting. Our differences make us stronger.

I do have a few remarkable people around me who tolerate my bugging of them. And they'll join in with that interaction that I hope cheers both of us up. I'm involved in a few online communities too via the Discord app. Some of those communities are better than others. Radderss' one is magic. All good people.

Struggling yes - but with good people to help me out.
Quite. Cya !

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Bye bye Ben-pup


No more Ben pics. I just got off the phone to the mum and dad (a good natter was had, although the visitation is being held off for a week or so) who let me know that the Old Aged Pup had signed off.
Poor fella.

What wasn't usually apparent from the many photos I would take and post of Ben was that amidst the bounciness, the life, the love shown by this amazing fella over the years was sadness that he was obviously getting older and older.

Five minutes of bouncing would be followed by an hour's shut eye to let him catch up. There was also that dodgy paw of his that I'm sure was causing him a lot of pain. He never showed that pain though. Not like the classic thorn in the paw where the animal would try and bite the person trying to heal it. Nope. Ben was all love.
And a bit of play. That play was only about 5 minutes or so though before he had to take himself off for a bit. Very gentle play but I think he appreciated it. Definitely came back for more when his batteries were recharged.
Definitely a protector.
A bit of the cheeky. See that tail raised high ? That's one of the rare moments that tail was captured on camera. It usually disappeared into motion blur.
Loyal cook's helper too. That steak in that there barbeque thingy definitely passed the sniff test. I think old Ben was levitating as it came back into the house.
Definitely liked his treats that Ben.

But. The eternal sadness about pets is that they don't last as long as we do. The family has had 3 dogs that I remember (and one dog that I barely remember - too young). There was the Old Gent Scruff :
The adventurous Goldie, king of the surprise slurpage :
And finally, Old Ben :
He was still showing occasional liveliness at Xmas but come to think of it, I don't think he was showing any bounciness. He'd become quite an old dog, although I don't think he realised that. Still a pup at heart.

The thing about dogs (and cats!) though :
They're part of the family. I'd like to think Ben had good people that he loved. The other thing is that you only have a dog for part of your life but you are all of theirs. So it's good to be able to pass a little bit of that love back. The dog ends up being a reflection of its master. And Ben-pup was full of love.

It'll be sad not to see the old fella again and be greeted when he's got some energy back from an evening's slumber (it took him a bit of time to wake up when I'd get to the parents place at 11pm ish).

I'll miss him but he's in the memories now, like that ever faithful, ever loving, ever grateful, hugely intelligent Scruffy-dog and the quicksilver Goldie. I was a quick runner but it was good to give Goldie a walk because it would end up with us racing each other. It was good to see that athlete of a dog run Fast. We waited too long though with Scruff and Goldie. It broke the heart to see Scruff give a broken "Do I have to ? Things hurt" look when someone mentioned Walkies. We'd previously have had to peel him off the ceiling at the mention of that word. With Goldie, he was having real trouble getting in and out of his chair. His back legs gave up on him and got very painful.

Bye Ben. And may there be many treats where you are now.

Monday, January 23, 2017

Decision made, decision to come

How did Saturday's trip to the car people go ?

Hmm ... I still have the money spending guilt. :-)
Yep. It's on the way. Just as you see above. Shiny and red and wind up powered. Ok. Maybe not like that. But there's something new on the way.

I think you already know what it might be.
Yep. A thing of beauty. Definitely not one of these :
That abomination barely even sailed, it wouldn't be good at all on land.

Could it be ... something classic ?
Truly a beautiful old thing. If somewhat lacking in modern attributes like water proofing. And reliability. (The old Spitfire could be a bit temperamental and needed TLC in a way modern cars don't).

I'll show a pic of what I've been agreeing to spend the money on in a bit. I suspect you have already guessed what it is ...

It isn't the Lexus GS. That one would have been a superior car to what I'm getting in terms of toys but ... it's also bigger, less speedy and more thirsty. It's just a bit bigger than what I like to drive, which is one reason why the NX that my sister has was rejected as a possibility. It was about the same list price but less deposit contribution and higher interest rate.

It isn't the Lexus RC either, that's the coupe version of what I have now. That's also slightly slower and thirstier. Dunno why there as it should be a lightened, speedy, sporty version. Perhaps the chassis has been beefed up to cope with the power of the V8 5 litre edition of the RC ... Maybe. Nah. This one got rejected due to me having difficulty clambering out of it and also ... less deposit contribution and higher interest rate.

I'll get to what's coming in a bit ...
It's not of those either. If I had trouble getting out of the RC, think of the problems involved in getting out of that monster. Besides, I do enjoy the company of other people in the car and ... I think passengers would be riding on the anti crash roll fin of that car. I don't think they'd like that.

I do have to hand it to the Lexus people. It's only happened a couple of times where I've gone back to a garage again after buying a car from them. Indeed, in the family, it has rarely happened although I think the parents have been doing that lately with their car changes. The Lexus people are different ...

(disclosure note - I'm paying them, they're not paying me outside of normal business deposit contributions and they definitely don't know I'm writing this !)

... they look after their customers. Instead of treating you like muck, they get to know you. They want you coming back. They want your business. They want you as a repeat buyer because you get treated well and you like the cars.

With my car, it's been legendary in its quality. The only reason I was interested in changing was the seats, I think they were steadily destroying my back and shoulders. The upgrades the car has involve much better seats. And there are a few more upgrades too. I'm hoping that the upgrades see their way through to improved handling (the old one was a bit reluctant to be thrown around corners) and better low speed performance in Normal driving mode. I'd drive mine around in Eco because Normal would kangaroo hop on the slow down to traffic lights.
Nope. Not one of those.

The day was a bit of a bust actually. I'd planned to get the car serviced and after that, chill out with a wander around Cheltenham, cruising the shops. The town was packed ! Pretty busy. All the munchie places were definitely packed out. I retreated from all of them with a definite sense of Too Many People ! I also checked out what was on at their cinema ... if I had done that though I'd have been watching Rogue One again (wouldn't mind but it'll be with company if I see it at the cinema again) and I'd have been having popcorn for lunch.

Don't think that's healthy.

I'm pretty exhausted now, although that's mostly self inflicted due to going to bed way too late. And then yawning my head off while trying to sleep ... instead of nodding off. That's really annoying ...

Another decision will be to finally get scribbling with that novel I'm looking to write. That's going to be more and more inspired by what's happening in the world at the moment and specifically ... America. I hope he doesn't damage the world as much as it looks like he will. Yep. There will be a lot in that novel inspired by what we're seeing at the moment, from GB and other governments too. One of the trigger motivations for switching the car now instead of in a few months time is that the UK government is dismantling the tax breaks that low emission cars like mine have. I don't think the £140/year will be applied to my current or next car but if I had waited a couple of months, it would have been.

That's Mr Osborne again. Although the price rises due in Feb are pure Brexit.

And that's too much politics for here.

What's the decision to come ?
Grey Ghost 2 will need a name ... Yep. I'm getting something that will look on the outside very much like what I have. But I'm rarely looking at the outside (bit like Elite and the cosmetic ship paint jobs !). I'm more interested on the insides. The toy count. The handling of the car. How relaxed it is to drive. The reliability.

And this one should be as good as the last one. But ... she needs a name ... It cannot be Grey Ghost 2 ! Suggestions in the comments :-).

Thursday, January 19, 2017

Decisions ... and perhaps a little wandering

I have a decision to make ...

Soon ! At the weekend perhaps even. And it could lead to .... more decisions ....

So - what is it ?
Shiny ? More shiny ?

The car gets serviced at the weekend, which will put me in the showroom about 6 months before the finance period on my current car finishes. Which means .... the sales people will really want me to acquire another new car.

What do I think of the IS300h I have now ? It's an awesome car. There are only a couple of things I would criticize with it :

The boot is pretty big but it's no hatchback. The car is a saloon style which means no really big things to go in there. It has a split folding rear seat but it's far from the flat folding arrangement that made the CT boot into a cavern.

The other thing is the seats, my back doesn't really get on well with the seats. I can still do the 3 hour to and from my parents without needing a break but my back has been stiffening up more of late and I'm pretty sure the car seats have something to do with that.

What are the options ?

Time for another pic :
That's my last car, which was another really good car. It was my introduction to Lexus and Hybrids and it was a pretty good introduction. Their customer service is excellent and I saw that across two garages, the one in Cheltenham and the one in Lincoln. You are made to feel much more welcome than what I'm used to, more welcome than the sheep dip approach other garages have.

The CT was an excellent car but it was a bit slow for me. The thing about the hybrids is that they will give you exactly what you ask for. Ask to go quick, it'll give you everything its got. Settle into a cruise and it's chill out time. Pootle along in traffic and it'll decide whether or not the engine should be on. But there is a limit there and the CT just didn't have enough power for me.

The IS is definitely more pokey. The CT does the 60mph thing in 10 seconds, the IS does it in 8. That's a bit more like my style.

There are faster hybrids too. Let's see ... the GS450h (bigger car, bigger engine and motors) goes to 60 in 5.9 seconds and it will do that every time you ask it to do that. A conventional car is limited by how you are as a driver, how you handle those clutch and gear changes. The bigger car is also less economical and costs more. It has much more power than I'm interested in having available. I'd miss the economy and cheaper insurance while not using the extra speed much.

One alternative is the GS300h. It uses the same engine and motors as my IS300h, it's just bigger and has more toys. This means it's also slower and thirstier. But ... those toys !!!! Intriguing. It's not actually that much bigger too. 3cm wider and 20cm longer, although that is that little bit much bigger than a car which I already find to be on the upper end of Big for what I like to drive around in. And Park. The IS would be difficult to park, although the camera turns parking into child's play.

They also have a sporty coupe with ... the same mechanicals as my car. That's the RC300h. Not sure about this one. It's pretty much the same car but slightly slower and less economical.

Everything else Lexus have is either too expensive or not really what I want. My sister has one of their NX smaller SUVs but ... too big for me.

I'll see what they have on offer but you can probably tell ... I'm very tempted.

We'll see what appears at the weekend. I'd like to be off the treadmill of a new car every 3 years. Yep. It's good to have New Shinies but ... it does cost. And I'd like to be able to start putting money aside for a boat.

I also have a bad back though and the facelifted cars have better seats. We shall see.
Toot Toot !

Oh ! Before I go. The garage trip is likely to lead to a wander around the Cheltenham town too. It's a good place. And it's a sign that my outsides are finally deciding to heal up. There's still a fair bit of damage to heal up but ... getting ever closer. Close enough that I don't have too many concerns about wandering around the town centre for a few hours.

I just hope I have the energy !

Saturday, January 14, 2017

Testing ... Testing ...

Is this thing still on ?

Apologies for not posting that much lately. I don't think there's any special reason for not posting much, outside of getting distracted in the evenings with streams to watch and feeling drained after throwing all I have into work during the day.

It doesn't leave that much coherent mental effort left for post writing.

But first ... a thumbnail pic is required ! We have had snow again ...
But it melted before we could make decent snowmen out of it. That's the Bristolian edition snowman, which I spotted on someone's Facebook yesterday. I can't take credit for the idea (or the potholes) but it did get lots of laughs from many people yesterday.

We got a dusting of snow here. Enough to make untreated roads and pavements turn dangerous. I used the Snow Mode on the car for only the second ever time ... What's snow mode ? It cuts back the power available to the motors and engine to prevent wheelspin and allow forward motion. I don't know whether it has something in there to stop you sliding when turning corners ... best not to trust that kind of thing to electronics anyway. It does things like stop the usual forward motion that you get from an automatic naturally when you take your foot off the brake. Effective too, the traction control lights only came on once during the trip into work.

I've been on the games too. Somewhat ... I'm watching two streamers regularly now. Heychrissa still but now Radderss also (links on the right). I'd also watch EnterElysium plus Totalbiscuit but not the regular podcast type content. It's enjoyable but ... time ? Not enough time.

Yep. It's good to relax, chill out and actually get involved with the content being watched. Youtube videos are disconnected from the community. They're usually recorded several days before release, so anything happening on screen is set. You can't give a reaction in or a little help on a Youtube video and the commenters are usually those that feel compelled to tell the world that they are more important than the content creator, often in a nasty way.

No - I'm drawn more to the streamers and streamer communities where it's much more interactive. A comment in chat will attract comment, chuckles and that feedback which is what I crave. Putting a comment into chat and seeing it get happy reactions ? Awesome.

Oh and it also gives me ideas to unleash the creative side of my personality that usually struggles for ideas. I like making Stuff ... I just find it difficult to come up with the inspiration for the project. Here's a before :
A first comedy edit for the Purple Chocolate Company Edition :
And ...
Radderss Edition to match a hair colour that starts blue and goes green. (Could do with a lighter blue aft but ... you work with what you have).

I've gone back into that ship now and it is ...
Shiny ! That's the first of the spaceship skins I bought over the Xmas period. Looks spectacular doesn't it.

I've also been enjoying a game called Motorsport Manager, although I am in a pretty grindy phase in that. The objective is to take the bottom team and have them win the championship and I'm doing that in two phases. 1st phase, build the infrastructure, the headquarters, the foundation. 2nd phase, win everything, destroy the competition, see their broken engines driven before us and hear the lamentation of their fans. (Bit of a Conan moment, I do apologise). But in phase 1, it is a Manor racing situation where my cars are several seconds a lap slower than everyone else. You get given time though in this scenario to let the plans develop. I'll be back in there later for a little more.

Back to the real world though - I've been blighted somewhat by pain over the last week or so.

I might have mentioned a poorly neck - that hasn't actually fixed, although it has become more tolerable. Until yesterday that is when the other side of the neck decided to join in too.

It's probably my sleep pattern and position, which is being affected by the condition of my outsides. They're improving !!! Slowly. And I can still set that healing back by over aggressively looking after the damage.

But it is getting there. Slowly. But I am seeing parts of me that were pretty damaged and problematic get reclaimed to proper good skin again.

About time !

PS Other news :
Rogue One - go see it.
Earth Final Conflict and Haven - am enjoying watching these. I missed out the first time.
Passengers - go see it. It won't be what you expected, more romance movie than scifi.
Assassins Creed - deleting it from my memory. Avoid !

Wednesday, January 04, 2017

Weird Stuff You Think About When Attempting To Sleep

Sleeplessness is a bit of a bane of my life at the moment.

I can be yawning away in the evenings and be on the verge of sleep ... until the time comes to actually go to bed. Then I'll still be yawning away but ... not going to sleep.
Tis frustrating.

But my brain will also fire off in all sorts of random directions while I'm trying to shut it down for sleep. What are the daft ideas coming out of it lately ? I can't remember most of it because the ideas tend to evaporate by the time I wake up but ...
Lego Star Destroyer.

Yep. My brain was attempting to design a Lego Star Destroyer. You can still acquire Lego Star Destroyers but a medium size one (I think the microfighter one is a bit too ickle) would be £70 minimum on Ebay. A proper size one would be £200+. Mad.

I reckon I could design one out of bits. I think the Lego Millennium Falcon would give me pointers for things like the off horizontal wedge that dominates the Star Destroyer design.

Yep. Brain was giving me lots of ideas last night. I may even remember them at some point. Here goes :
Hinge pair pieces that let you make angles;
The angles would make the iconic wedge design;
Technic pins to put bits together;
More angle bits to create areas like the engines at the back stern;
I know how I'd do the shield domes and the energizer dome.

What is the source for this idea ?
There we go. Apologies for the blurriness on some of those. It's something like 1 pic for each bag of bits for the Falcon and shows it coming together. Lego is a bit of a discovery project as you see it slowly coming together.

The finished article looks great.

Yep. Feels good. What's next ? Most likely, a Metal Earth R2D2 which has intimidated me since I received it for my birthday. My first attempt at Metal Earth was an XWing which didn't go so well. Too fiddly.

There were other things bouncing around in my head too. The other night it was some kind of Hunger Games inspired montage where an orphan girl-lady-child was sitting on her bench in the bunker watching the situation steadily disintegrate around her. Conditions getting worse, things like plentiful water going to shortages and rationing due to policies from the politicians. The politicians made the ice miners into scapegoats and they're the ones who made the water available. I suspect the Hunger Games aspect came from remembering the movies that the actress in Passengers (Jennifer Lawrence) previously starred in.

Odd dream. Possibly inspired by the constant thought that's going into the impending writing of book.

I'm pretty sure I know what that book will be now. It'll be a scifi universe thing where a group of colonists have to escape their home planet in a rush, before that home planet annihilates itself in a civil war. There will be a huge amount in there that borrows from what we're seeing in the world at the moment.

There's a lot of struggle happening. A lot of it is down to the crowd and herd instinct making people go down some very dark paths. Intolerance making things difficult for those who are seen as being something different.

This story would start out as people attempting to escape that before it explodes.

Kinda wish we could do that with our current world ?

Writing the thoughts into a book would be a bit like escaping that world by making up a new one.

Last ramble for tonight - I watched Passengers last night. It was a great evening, I really enjoyed the movie and the company. The movie drew out a tear or two as well. Great story, dodgy scifi ... but scifi that worked in supporting the story. One of the central aspects is a decision ... which I won't spoil. I'd like to think I'd have made the opposite choice, although you don't know what madness will do to you.

No. I'd have written. I would have made up a person to write for and ... wrote to her. Bit like this blog !

It's a great film. Best film I've watched this year so far. Oh wait ... it's the 4th of Jan ! It's the only film I've watched so far this year !

Hopefully my brain will behave itself a bit better tonight and let me sleep more.