Thursday, February 28, 2008

Thursday Thirteen - Films

Thirteen Things about 2007 Cinema

It's just past the Oscars now, so what better subject for the Thursday Thirteen than films ... Looking to pick out what I thought notable over the past year or so for this one :

1 - Transformers. Great action and they just about get away with putting in their own origins here. It's rare that a movie conversion can use its comic origins as written and this one is no exception. But they did a very good job with what they did do.
2 - Camera work ... Yes, shakeycam does make you feel as if you're there but like a lot of fads, it'll often get taken to excess. Plus it would be good to see the action in fights in films like Transformers instead of just seeing a blur.
3 - The "It's Different" prize - not seen a film like Sweeney Todd for a while ... Helena Bonham-Carter must have had an absolute ball doing this one :-) And the CrazieBoys definitely enjoyed watching.
4 - Remembering ... Elizabeth Golden Age let us remember one of the pivotal periods of British history. Must look up the history books to see what really happened.
5 - Most Charming Animation - Ratatouille. Ok, some bits make you cringe but most of it made us laugh. Plus there's the Pixar introduction short movie, this one is one of their best.
6 - Interesting Beginning - Golden Compass. May have to acquire the books from these ...
7 - Characters I'd Most Like To Be A Slave Of - a tie between Michelle Pfeiffer's Lamia and Angelina Jolie's Grendel Mommy. Life expectancy might be a bit limited however.
8 - Film I was happiest to miss - Pirates 3.
9 - Film I unfortunately didn't miss - Spiderman 3.
10 - Best non-human character - Pantalaimon. The way that little demon shifts between forms on screen is incredible.
11 - The 'Did That Really Happen?' award - American Gangster. Good film this one, almost as good as The Departed which I missed at the cinema.
12 - Beowulf for raising the bar on CGI again.
13 - Most Wanted on dvd - Bourne Ultimatum.

There's a few films I missed this year. Movies like Across The Universe and Atonement. Plus I successfully avoided watching No Country For Old Men and a few other potential turkeys.

Get the Thursday Thirteen code here!

The purpose of the meme is to get to know everyone who participates a little bit better every Thursday. Visiting fellow Thirteeners is encouraged! If you participate, leave the link to your Thirteen in others' comments. It’s easy, and fun! Trackbacks, pings, comment links accepted!

1. The Bluest Butterfly
2. Happy Mama To Three
3. Monday Through Sunday

Non-Thirteeners please also leave comments (and maybe an idea for next week !)

Wednesday, February 27, 2008


I'm quite impressed with the latest toy acquisition ... I wrote here that I'd managed to break my satnav (I blame old age). I thought it would cost me a lot more than £25 to fix but Amazon managed to surprise me there.

Picked it up this morning and promptly went stir crazy at work wanting to have a play with it. Trouble is, it has to be near a window to see satellites, these don't work too well indoors. The new toy is the box on the left that's caught my flash. It talks to the iPaq on the right, which has the satnav software installed. The graph on the pic shows how well the receiver is seeing the satellites, when it can see about 3-4 it can get a position fix.

I had a chance to have a play on the way home, after bouncing off the walls at work. Was quite impressed to have Ms Whiplash on the SatNav barking orders even before I'd gotten out the car park ... That's fast - especially for a fresh receiver :-)

Other bits in the pic (it should expand into something bigger on a click) are :
  • My laptop that's 6 years old now ... still with its shop stickers !
  • iTunes showing what I was listening to :-)
  • Evidence of how cluttered this place is ...
  • One of my guilty secrets.
The gps unit is a BlueNext unit, ordered on the 23rd from Amazon UK, with the Post Office "we-tried-to-deliver" card coming through the door on the 26th. I'm hoping it succeeds its road test over this coming weekend ...

Also worth a peek :

Disintegrating wind turbine caught on camera - from The Register. Spectacular !

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Hits from strange places

I occasionally peek at the info that the hit counter will give me ...

I've noticed a decent number of hits come from people looking at Google for "Indoor Cricket Tactics". I think I've been disappointing people who were looking for something profound in how to win at indoor cricket cos all they're getting is : Indoor Cricket Tactics.

I just so happen to be the number one result when plugging those three words into Google. Muahaha. I guess if I write Indoor Cricket Tactics enough into this post, Google will send people to this post instead :-) (Yes - I be evil !)

Sorry folks looking for the secrets to Indoor Cricket Tactics, the place we played was a little small and the rules a bit more friendly than what you're used to ... Fun game though, great work out.

PS The hypercompetitive people seem to be Aussies - most of the searches are from Good hunting people - if you're researching the tactics, that means you're taking it seriously enough to deserve an advantage over the rest of 'em :-)

Monday, February 25, 2008

Oscars and other awards

I've managed to avoid the Oscars and all the other annual awards things so far this year, I tend to try and miss them because all the critics seem to like films I hate. So I don't tend to pay much attention to the critics and the awards.

A few years ago, the amused disinterest spread into what became known at our place as the Sunrise awards ... It grew out of discussion on our works' public folders where the various contributors tended to like having a go at the judges for the awards because they couldn't understand how certain films won. Lots of politics involved I think ...

So I thought "Right - how would the awards end up if these people did the voting ?" And the Sunrise awards were born. We (crazies were conspiring on this one ...) aimed them for around this time of year, aiming for films that had come out in the previous year. There was about a week for nominations, where people would send in emails with a few noteworthy's in each category. Then there was a week for voting, where we had to pick our favourite. After that, I'd tot up the votes and do a winners post that would go on the forums again. And that would be it for that year's Sunrise awards.

A few things to notice with it :
  1. Films released towards the end of the year are fresh in the mind and pinch all the silverware
  2. Films from the start of the year get forgotten about
  3. Art house film fans don't like it that they're in a minority :-)
  4. Everyone likes different things - quite right too
  5. Completely independent people will still give strange voting results

It was fun while it lasted and showed we had about twice/three times as many silent lurkers on those forums than people who actually posted ... (Probably the same with Blogging ! Get yourselves an account and get commenting :-)

I had to close it down though after a couple of years because I'd got busier with work, my new boss also lurked on forums and I couldn't hide doing the admin for the awards as well as being Captain for the project's indoor cricket team. We couldn't actually run it now because the Powers That Be (well - their minions) decided that we wouldn't have public folders at work any more. They'd been on borrowed time since a few muppets had fun in a free for all folder called "Soapbox", with the resulting trolling getting the forums noticed by the bosses. And if bosses notice high activity in something non-work, they'll start taking an unhealthy interest ...

PS There is a Sunrise Celebration out there and I think I've seen the phrase Sunrise Awards somewhere too. The celebration people are a bit later than us, the third one will be this year. My Sunrise Awards were way back in 02 or 03 ... Completely free from any corporate influence and I believe the only PosterGirls involved with the judging were CQ and RCA, plus one or two I didn't know outside of email.

Sunday, February 24, 2008

I is a old soul

Lol - not quite sure what to make of this one, it's acquired from Bob-kat's blog today. I'm very definitely a creature of habit and suffer a lot from inertia ... Wonder where all those Warrior and Visionary souls are ?

You Are an Old Soul

You are an experienced soul who appreciates tradition.

Mellow and wise, you like to be with others but also to be alone.

Down to earth, you are sensible and impatient.

A creature of habit, it takes you a while to warm up to new people.

You hate injustice, and you're very protective of family and friends

A bit demanding, you expect proper behavior from others.

Extremely independent you don't mind living or being alone.

But when you find love, you tend to want marriage right away.

Souls you are most compatible with: Warrior Soul and Visionary Soul

Saturday, February 23, 2008

How do you celebrate ?

Curious about this one - we've just had one of the best Six Nations Rugby matches I've seen for some time and happily England ran out the winners. France were playing passionately and near their mercurial best but England were able to soak up all the pressure and counterpunched when they could.

The scoring of the England try right at the end drew out a fist raising "YES!" out of me. I reckon the way we celebrate either winning or losing can tell a lot about it. It certainly tells things about our passion for the activity we've been pinning our hopes on. I've gone for the fistraising one fairly often in my sport. There's just something to seeing the stumps and bails going flying when you've snuck a ball past a batsman's defences.

When I'm watching rugby and a team is about to score a try, it's often a more first (definitely not the middle one!) finger pointed in the air in a more dignified kinda mini-fist. I reckon if the event being celebrated is more sudden like a wicket in cricket, a goal in football or the opening of an exam results envelope, the cheering will be that much more intense.

I've gone for the Shirt-Over-Head & Aeroplanes one a few times but I try not to do that any more as it's usually followed by cries of "Put it away!" (My figure is not what you'd call svelte). I don't think I've ever done the Snoopy Dance, although I can understand more Twinkle-Toed people going for that one.

The most important thing is the dignity aspect. A celebration is only a good one if it has respect for the loser in the house. That would be the people who you just realise have failed that exam, or the batsman who just got sent back to the pavilion. Bad losers aren't good people to know but Bad Winners are a lot, lot worse. I'd like to think I've never intentionally rubbed in a triumph and once or twice I've given an "Unlucky mate" to someone who's gotten out to me who really didn't deserve it.

So what's your favourite celebration ? Is it the quiet demonstration, the Primal Scream, the Snoopy Dance or do you try to embarass yourself as much as you can ? This isn't just for the sporty, success in anything should be celebrated, including exams, relationships, achievements for other people, promotions, anything.

PS There's an audio clip somewhere which has Guildlink's first downing of Ragnaros, which marked that organisation "Arriving" on the Big-Guild stage. When he went down, there was a good bit of shouting YES! from various people, followed by what can only be described as gurgling giggling. Well - I had an open mic and nothing better popped into my head. What makes it really embarassing is that the next comment was an "Oooo-kay" from Sarai, the raid leader. Think she may have been alt-tabbing to Teamspeak to see who needed the huggy jacket.

Blunt Force Trauma

Just watched the final Rocky film. Wow.

I'm a sports fan and will usually find time to take a peek at all sports. Except boxing. I see boxing as one of the more ugly barbarous sports out there, it's just two people trying to beat each other senseless, with not really that much skill involved. I admire skill in sport more than sheer power or athletic ability, so I tend to ignore stuff that doesn't involve skill.

So what's a non-boxing fan doing watching Rocky ? It's not just the fight in one of these, it's how they build up to it. This one has an old guy who's still fighting for what he believes in but now he's fighting out of the ring. Genuine nice guy who likes to help people out. I think when I get this one on dvd, I'll be watching more for the out of ring stuff.

When it gets to the fight though, they show everything. Power, commitment, heart. The punches fly and oh yes - it really looks like they hurt. Which it's supposed to ... There's a lot of censorship that goes on in action films/tv which I don't understand. Show the effects, the full effects and you'll show the full consequences of either shooting someone or thumping someone. And seeing those consequences (on a movie screen) will hopefully stop someone from pulling the trigger someday. There is a line between what's suitable and what's sick though, in terms of what some writers/directors will put on screen.

Doh - me ranting again (future blog post coming about some guy who got grief for saying he was taking guns to a party).

Rocky Balboa - has brutal action sequences in the fight at the end but for motivational power, well - I'm thinking of getting up and taking a run around the block, even though I have one pulled calf muscle and another complaining calf muscle :-). It would do me good and I've run off worse injuries before ...

"Marie: The last thing to age on somebody is their heart "

PS Hallmark just caught my eye, they're about to show : Blue Butterfly. Might be worth a peek :-)

Friday, February 22, 2008

Need a car

Haven't a clue what to get !

Here's a pic of what I have now :

It has the obvious stuff - fun to drive, power, gets kiddies saying "look mommy it's a spaceship!". But it also have economy, reliability and more flexibility than a soft top ...

So I'm now wondering what to get next, which is getting more pressing because at 9 years old, it's starting to disintegrate. A Focus, a Golf, A N Other midsized saloon/hatchback is just plain boring. Soft top would cause me problems when I wanted to move things around. Mazda's RX-8 looks interesting but it's allegedly a bit of an oil burner.

Here's another picture, feel free to join me in a "Looks Purdy!" moment :

Currently chilling to stuff off Sky plus. The testing on Monday/Tuesday was easy but it's been really hectic since then. We're having a big IT change next Monday and because I've managed to stay ahead of all the IT problems people have, I'm seen as some kind of IT guru person ...

Which is fine, apart from when the questions start mounting up. There's only so many times I can answer the same question without getting snappy ;-) I deliberately avoid working in IT support because I know I would go insane after a month. I do like helping out people with their problems, I just like to pick and choose when and who I help ... I must have done ok cos I got a handshake from one of the boys in the car park saying thanks for helping everyone out. Maybe it was me not running around the corner to hide. Now wondering what we're going to find next week ...

Dinner bell just went off - gotta run :-)

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Thursday Thirteen - classy songs

Michele's got me the idea for this one, it's a Thursday Thirteen made up of songs I like the most. I've set myself a rule though, only one song from an artist, so I can get lots of artists on here. Otherwise it would be all Alisha's Attic.

1 - Alisha's Attic - The Incidentals. Guaranteed to melt the hardest heart :-)
2 - The Bangles - Return Post. Not on their greatest hits, which is a crime.
3 - Crowded House - Four Seasons in One Day. Even when you're feeling low, like four seasons in one day.
4 - Pink Floyd - Wish You Were Here. The whole album is an amazing tribute to Syd Barrett, this one is the highlight.
5 - All About Eve - Martha's Harbour. Also check out their Scarlet and Apple Tree Man. (bit of a slow-loader that one)
6 - Kate Bush - The Man With the Child In His Eyes. And Aerial shows she's still well worth listening to 27 years after.
7 - Edie Brickell - Ghost of a Dog. Weepy one ...
8 - Tori Amos - Silent All These Years. First track I heard from Tori, still my favourite.
9 - The Beatles - Eleanor Rigby.
10 - Suzanne Vega - Machine Ballerina. Didn't think much of this one at first, really like it now.
(can't find an audio/video - this one is on the Songs In Red And Grey album)
11 - ABBA - Happy New Year.
12 - Clannad - Fado. Laid back Clannad, heavenly Maire Brennan vocals.
13 - Led Zeppelin - Stairway to Heaven.

So that's 13 artists/groups who I adore. There's people missing though. There's no Peter Gabriel up there and nothing by Mark Knopfler. The ABBA song could have been any of at least 10 of their's. I also listen to a lot of Garbage (the Shirley Manson headed group!) and some classical.

CK might like to check out I Will Find You by Clannad - it's the theme tune to Last of the Mohicans.

Yey - I have the Thursday Thirteen code again :-)

The purpose of the meme is to get to know everyone who participates a little bit better every Thursday. Visiting fellow Thirteeners is encouraged! If you participate, leave the link to your Thirteen in others comments. It’s easy, and fun! Be sure to update your Thirteen with links that are left for you, as well! I will link to everyone who participates and leaves a link to their 13 things.


1. The Bluest Butterfly
(Leave a comment & I will link to you here.)

Non-Thirteeners are welcome to comment. :-)

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

I need a new ...

Insert word as appropriate ! At the moment the appropriate word is "diet" and the reason is a combination of :

2 days of a steady diet of black coffee and biscuits
(to stay awake during testing!)
A 2 and a half hour drive home
A salt bomb

I had trouble finding somewhere to get food last night, so resorted to the local chippie :-) The sausage and chips is the salt bomb I refer to above. That's the kind of food I like but I think next time I'll be raiding the chinese instead ... I have legs that are highly prone to cramping and they reminded me at about 2.30am ;-) Not a gentle reminder, this one was a howling "I gotta stand up and get my foot pointing the right way again !" cramp.

People need a certain amount of salt (Sodium) to keep their bodies functioning properly, which is why travellers in the desert will take salt tablets. But too much is also bad for you.

It'll be fine in a couple of days and this time it wasn't both calf muscles going bang on the way to a fitness test leading to me trudging around for a week with torn calf muscles :-)

Lol - I should take better care of myself !

Oh - One thing about doing the washing up, all that standing up is very good for stretching off those tortured calf muscles :-)

PS I also need a new car, gps receiver, telly, dvdplayer, laptop, speakers, pillows, books, relationship, hobbies and I could probably add more ... I'll settle for a new diet, although that will take a lot of effort plus another car to replace my 9 year old Puma. The car is a complex one as I really do have no clue whatsoever as to what to get next ...

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Toys part 2 ...

Lol - toys are good when they work - and trying to fix a gps unit while going at 75mph down the M4 is almost certainly a bad idea ... I didn't try poking it too long but losing the satnav made me realise how much I've become accustomed to being able to time my journeys to the ETA readout on the satnav.

I'm an information junkie and the satnav gives a few little snippets of info that help to feed that addiction. A replacement gps (the lead's bust) will be either £65 or me tinkering for a weekend. The mad thing is that a Bluetooth wireless one costs less than one with a wire. So - I'll be hunting one of these soon :

Testing went well, although I'm glad I'm not the one who's there for the rest of the week. We don't execute the tests, we watch the contractor demonstrating the functionality. A couple of days is about the limit before the brain starts to leak out through your ears and the other fella from our office is 2 days through a 4 day stint.

Now chilling out to iTunes music - currently All About Eve's "The Pearl Fishermen". Beautiful song that closes out their "Scarlet and Other Stories" album. It has Julianne Regan singing along to a couple of guitars.

PS It's cold out there ! Gloves on all the way back tonight ...

Monday, February 18, 2008

Break out the toys !

Currently hoping for an easy trip to London tomorrow. We're testing some stuff that will see some heavy use over the next couple of months, so we're kinda counting on it working well. The testing lasts for a couple of weeks but I'm only there for the next two. It helps to have fresh people for this testing, so we don't go sleepy and miss bugs. So we spread the load around the techies in the office. I enjoy it, it's a day or so out of the office and we get to see almost-real kit. And to a toy addict like me, that's priceless.

Will be playing with two of my best toys tomorrow. Before I start the drive, I'll be taking the aerial off the top of my Puma. Commercial radio jams a mini-FM transmitter I use to get my iPod music into the car speakers, removing the aerial stops the jamming. That's kinda two toys but I'm counting it as one. Makes you wonder whether we get affected by all the stray EM Radiation out there if commercial radio on all the bands they use can jam a transmitter that's supposed to have a 30 ft range. And then there's all the other transmissions plus the mobile phones in people's pockets that need a 3-5km range to the surrounding cell sites. We probably get more radiation watching a telly though ... (not necessarily from a TFT flat screen)

Toy number two is one I've had a little longer, it's a PDA running satellite navigation software. Not mentioning any manufacturer/software names there because although the software works well, neither PDA or software is as reliable as it should be. It gets me where I'm going though - and although I know the route 100% now, it gives me the ability to react instantly to roadblocks forcing a course change without getting lost.

So - hoping for some good driving tomorrow morning to some chilly out music and a really boring couple of days of testing. If the testing is boring, that means it's going to plan and we have good software. If it's interesting ... well there's an Asian curse that goes "May you live in Interesting Times."

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Challenge of short writing

I've noticed my posts being a little long ... Plus it's staff reporting season and we've got some rather strict limits on what we can put on the forms.

Silly limits too ... We have a section where we can write about what we've done through the year. This section has about 4-5 inches of gap to write in but we're only allowed 1350 characters. That's not words - it's characters, including spaces, full stops and carriage returns*. Even sillier is the section later on where we say whether we agree with what Da Management have to say. This one has about 2-3 inches of gap but we're allowed around 1600 characters. This section is usually a robotic "I agree with Da Management" comment anyway.

I've managed to put in the evidence that I wanted to put in, mainly by writing one draft and savagely compressing it. It still looks readable ... It's important cos there's enough cash riding on the reports to buy a telly or a computer. Not planning to do either in the near future but it's good to have extra cash around, especially when it's wrestled from the cold, undead hands of the people who control the money for the place I work for.

I'm getting close to that staff reporting limit now, so it's time to turn back to listening to iTunes while having my Baldur's Gate 2 party storm through a keep clearing out the squatters so I can take it over as my stronghold.

*(to show how much that spaces counting against the limit hurts, before I added this footnote, this post was 251 words, 1,112 characters with another 243 characters coming from spaces. Bring out the Big Long Words !)

Saturday, February 16, 2008

Request : 2 hours back please

Just watched Jumper ... described by RCA as being "better than I expected". Be warned - ignore this film, a story is supposed to have a beginning, a middle and an end. This does the middle but only has a rudimentory beginning and completely skips the ending part.

Nuff said about Jumper.

Still, having a meal beforehand with the Crazies and OutofTownCrazie RCA was well worth it :-)

Friday, February 15, 2008

Remembering the Scruff

This post is dedicated to Charlie the cat. My thoughts are with Linda.

It's cold, I'm hungry
My knight approaches,
She rides a pale horse.
Maybe she has some food ?

She reaches her home and soon
An angel leaves some scraps
It's not much I know and they don't want it
But to me, it's more precious than gold.
They won't let me in, that's ok.
I'll lie down by the doors,
I'm not in the way.
My coat will keep me warm.

The doors open and I'm still here,
They beckon me in. Have I found a home ?
I'll do my best, I promise.
It's nice and warm in here,
And a small thing is hugging me.
(author's note - the small thing is me, aged 6)

What have I done wrong ?
The Big Walking Man is shouting.
I'm in trouble I know,
Sorry about the puddle on the floor.
More hugs, I'm not in trouble.
It was the small thing after all.

It's late, dark outside.
Master watches the News.
I watch his glass,

Where are they going ?
The doors on the metal box are open,
They want me to get in.
Not having that again, metal box leads to No-Home and hunger.
BARK, tricked - other door shuts before I can get out.
Rattle, rattle, shake, shake, metal box stops.
Oooo, paths, room to run. Better keep up.
BARK - back to the metal box. Not so nasty now.
Rattle, rattle, shake, shake, metal box rolls again.
It's later, I'm home again.
My bowl is full of food, Scruff happy now.

What's this ? A ball of fluff.
It has claws. Ow ! Hiding Scruff.
I feel silly. I'm big, patchy thing is titchy.
Hur-hur, can't get me. I'm under the settee.

My legs hurt now
My back too.
I can barely see
walk's don't excite me.
Master carries me to the metal box,
He helps me when my legs will not.

The pain is gone now,
It will never catch me
Cos now I'm chasin' wabbits
When not walking on the clouds.
I remember my people,
And the love they gave me.
I owed them my life
And repaid by being their friend.

A little bit of background information. Scruff was an Irish Wolfhound, Red Setter cross who found us when we were living out in the country in Northern Ireland. We think he was abandoned and was lucky enough to come across my sister when she was riding her horse, Taffy. He was almost dead from starvation when he plonked himself down on our back doorstep. My mum gave him a few of our scraps, not expecting him to live out the night. He did though and was our devoted friend and companion for the next 15 years. He was a very scared dog for a while though, if my mum and dad shouted at me, my brother or my sister then he'd quite likely have an accident. It took a while before he learned that shouting might not be his fault.

Scruff was a very smart dog, he even learned to connect the sound of the weather bulletin after the news with "WalkTime!", he also knew to not get too worked up until my dad's pint glass was empty. He couldn't quite contain his excitement though - he always started to bounce around when there was about an inch left in that glass. We had a terrible time getting him to be happy in a car, travel meant a lot of hugs and a little trickery was required. But he loved being able to run around some of the country parks that Ireland enjoys.

I called him Scruff because when he appeared, he resembled a big black shaggy mess of a dog. Scruff fit him absolutely perfectly. His most memorable characteristic was his big hairy paws, when he gave you one of those, you knew he was saying please.

I can't remember whether it was Scruff who hid from Patch the cat or whether it was Tufty the Beagle who hid under the sofa ... When we were moving back to England from Ireland, my dad lost Scruff while walking him at my grandparents house. Proof of how smart Scruff was came when Scruff managed to get home, despite us not being at that house long, successfully negotiating several busy roads.

We had to say goodbye to Scruff while I was still at university (10 years ago). While in Ireland, we believe he had a disagreement with a truck driving down the lanes, which led to lots of problems around his back end. Towards the end, his energy was gone and he gave a "Do I have to ?" look when someone said "Walk". Walk originally being a forbidden word because one mention of it would have led to Scruff bouncing off the ceiling in excitement. The contrast between that and the "Do I have to?" look of pain was heartbreaking.

My family remembers him with love. We will never forget the devotion he gave in return for those first few scraps of food.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Part 2

Right - that's enough of feeling sorry for myself. Whenever I get feeling that I've been hard done by or I feel like a cripple, I always try and remind myself :

I have 2 arms, 2 legs, 10 toes, 8 fingers and 2 thumbs.
I'm not an invalid.
I can still run extremely fast (over short distances!)
I'm one of the smartest people I know.
I look younger than I should or deserve to.
I have the respect of my peers for my technical knowledge.
I can make people laugh.
The craziecourt like to have me around.

Life's not so bad - and I can live with a few aches and pains.

Aches n painz

Because of a youth spent running around doing healthy stuff without putting in the training work to prepare for it, I've been left with a few legacies ... I've injured pretty much every piece of my body, the last one to go was my head, which was Wake Up Call Number 2. I've had broken, cracked or dislocated bones coming well into double figures now and I've torn or pulled or cramped most of my muscles.

Most days, I can ignore it as I'm only feeling 2 or 3 of my more long term injury legacies. Others are more of a struggle though, like today. There's a bug going around work at the moment, which I think is why some of the other aches have crept up on me and said "hello - you're going to pay attention to me today". Being run down tends to lessen the resistance. I could take painkillers but refuse to, the drugs act as a mask which would make me feel ok. However feeling ok would be rather dangerous for me because I'd put those unhappy bones and muscles through things they wouldn't like, they'd get worse in the long run. So I avoid painkillers, partly cos I know what I'd be like on them, partly because I have no intention of getting hooked on any drug except caffeine or cocoa.

It's not been too bad a day though, I got to see the person who helped me out almost 3 years ago when I had a confidence crisis. Shame she was getting coffee with some bloke. I didn't actually stick around but I did get a wave, which cheered me up. Plus we had some good fun banter going around the office. The team I work in gets on really well together, we are comfortable enough that we can banter and not poke wounds that would lead to unnecessary irritation.

Was a busier than average day too, gotta get a staff report done, plus the monthly finance numbers (why do I nearly always put fiance instead of finance ?) needed doing. I'm a victim of having a good idea there - I did some graphs for my finance area to help me figure out what was happening and before I knew it, Da Management went "that looks good, can you do them for the rest of the team too please ?" It lets me keep an eye on people so I'm ok with running those numbers.

Tomorrow should be interesting. Hopefully we'll get enough interested people for hitting the canteen for a bacon breakfast. My boss's boss leaves the project and we have a tradition of giving people a certificate summing up their more comical misdeeds when they go. Guess who makes the certificates :-). I can't show an example because they'd give away too much about what my work is, which would get a few people irritated with me. I have a few worky type things to do but after that I'll be looking to disappear as early in the afternoon as I can get away with.

The rushing around today actually helped - it gave me an adrenaline charge that helps me with ignoring the various half healed injuries. Doesn't make standing up or starting to move any easier though ! Plus I get strange looks when I start cussing myself when limping down the corridor. I'm cussing myself for limping usually or as a distraction from the feeling of being poked in the ribs with a carving knife.

So - a day of trying to ignore pain as much as possible. Will hopefully get back into a more positive frame of mind soon, instead of the tending towards depression track that I'm in at the moment.

PS Valentine card check - empty. Quite possibly another cause for me feeling run down. Maybe next year ;-)

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

A blog in Haiku

Something different
Today a blog of haiku
To drive you insane

It will not suspend
Until your brain does explode
But read on yes please.

I thought of poems
But lacked the inspiration
Alas my mind, blank.

Chinese food all gone
Excellent dinner for me
Stray cats still around

Now watching Shadows
Film of Ninety Four. It has,
Neelix in disguise.

I had better stop,
Film is warming up. Readers,
Pain ends soon, promise.

Wednesday is pizza,
And a film to follow it,
Crazie company.

Thursday is special,
Hordes of Valentines chasing,
In my dreams, oh yes.

Friday will be sad,
Two people leave, moving on,
See again maybe ?

Brain whimpers in pain,
Too much Haiku done today.
See you tomorrow.

Monday, February 11, 2008

Sport stress

Picking up on something I put on Michele's not too long ago :
"Had nervous breakdown watching Italy vs England rugby"
Why do we do that ? We can't change the result so why do we get stressed over something we can't change ? Sure, if we're in the crowd we can cheer on our team but the players aren't going to hear us when we're shouting at the telly.

So why do we get so worked up about it when we're watching at home ? Maybe it's because we figure we could do better than the professionals. That's the most likely root cause. Especially when rebellion against the state (the other traditional rallying to a cause) doesn't really achieve that much any more.

There's a few times, many years ago, where I have seriously thought "Can I do better ?" And a couple of times where I've thought : "Yes I can" and not out of arrogance too. Think of a combination of how badly England have played in the cricket and a person who came in to the men's team at the halfway point in the season and proceeded to break the team record for the number of wickets taken in a year. Yep - that was me at 16. It had a cost though, I had to slow down during the last few games due to hurting my back. The back injury is still with me 17 years later. (It comes and goes with maintenance and it's mostly ignorable)

The really frustrating thing for me is that with my Big Plan for getting into the England team, I'd had two things blocking me along the way :
1 - no scouting by the Lincolnshire county people. There were a few players of my age in the team (better players than me) who could have gone on to bigger things but my team never, ever got looked at by the county staff. It's probably no coincidence that Lincs have never approached getting out of the Minor Counties like Durham have successfully done.
2 - Beer Monster Mentality at uni. I was the most successful bowler in the nets trial in my first year (only one on the day to get someone out bowled) but never got picked. I reckon there was a connection between me not getting picked and me not socialising with the team selection people. Curious that the fella I bowled out a couple of times in the trial did actually get picked for the team as a batsman, same bloke loved hitting the bar.

As it turns out, I wouldn't have been a help to the England team, even if a few miracles had happened :
Miracle 1 - my bowling speeds up 20mph
Miracle 2 - I grow in height by a foot (I'm 5 foot 8, which is ok but you need to be 6 foot really as a seam bowler to get bounce)
Miracle 3 - my body holds together !

No - 2 years after that trial which effectively ended any chance I had to progress to higher levels in cricket, I suffered a career ending shoulder injury which I'll talk about another time. It's that "Wake Up Call Number 1". I'd like to think I could have done well but when the experience talks instead of the youthful "I CAN TAKE ON THE WORLD !!!!!!", the 3 Miracles above confirm that I'm better off playing at the Non-Serious Fun level instead of the semi-pro level. Cos even though I had a few nasty weapons with my bowling, my lack of pace means I'd have been taken apart without mercy.

I can bat too but my batting is the "useful" and "solid" type, definitely not the spectacular that a semi-pro would look for in an allrounder. Cricket's fun but I think I'd have got bored years ago. I like the mental challenges and variation that come with the job I do, I'd miss that if I was running around a field for a living. Bit like I get bored with doing the same thing over and over again in Warcraft.

Back to the original point before I went all cynical :-) Shouting at the telly when your team plays rubbish does make you feel better sometimes :-)

PS It wasn't really a nervous breakdown. It ended up being far too close a finish than it should have been but rugby isn't a game that lasts long enough to make you really nervous ... No, it has to be England cricket for that.

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Blogroll changes - Mercs off the list

I've made a few changes to the Blogroll, normally I wouldn't mention it but I'm making an exception in this case ...

My Warcraft guild's website is now off the list and I thought I'd better say why. You should be able to vouch for all the sites you put in a blogroll but because of security holes in the Mercs site, there's a very high chance that there will be something naughty in the General Chit Chat area. Too many spammers have the address and we have to delete probably at least 10 spam messages a day. Most of the spam is porn spam too. I usually delete it fairly quickly, if there's an "Iceangel" in the recent visitors list, that means I'm on the lookout. I gotta sleep occasionally though and it looks like the other moderators on the site don't bother deleting the spam.

So I've taken the link off the blogroll due to concerns over the content. We are testing a phpbb3 upgrade to the site but due to configuration trouble, we can't deploy it. The configuration trouble causes what we call "White Screen Of Death", where posts get rejected out of random. We can get around that on the phpbb2 version but not on the phpbb3. So we can't deploy phpbb3 with its security enhancements.

PS Also looks like my internet is knackered ... Will have to give Virgin Media a snotty phonecall in the not too distant future.

Wake up call number 2

I've not written Wake up call number 1 yet - I'm saving that for the future :-). This one is number two cos it was potentially the most serious of my two major life changing events. In the end, I got away with it due to sheer luck.

The scene - late summer day and we're playing cricket as our office vs our contractor. It wasn't going too well because our bowling had been thumped around a bit and we had a huge total to chase with not too much batting to do it with. That put a lot of pressure on me, as I was the most experienced batter on our side and I'd dropped a couple of catches behind the stumps earlier on. I held a really difficult one but missed a couple of simple ones.

So what happened to prompt the life changing event ? The bowler runs in and gives me a ball I think I can do something with. So one of my riskier shots comes out of the bag. It's a bad shot to play because I don't think I've ever got anything out of it (technical term - a wipe across the line) and that proved true today. I got a top edge and the ricochet sent the ball on a direct line to my head. At pace.

The ball caught me on the only piece of protective gear I was wearing on my head that day, my glasses. This is where I get the luck I didn't deserve, my glasses held out and spread the blow around my eye instead of the ball contacting on my eye socket. If I'd been wearing contacts, I may have ended up with a fractured skull or worse instead of the collateral damage of a smashed nose. The ghoulish thing here is that my head technique had been perfect, I'd watched the ball all the way as they teach you to.

Anyway, ball hits me and I put my hand up to my face and feel blood (and a nose that's a little deranged). I go down, because (hell - this is my logic at the time !) I don't want to make a bloody mess on the wicket and I know there will be a heap of people running over to help out. And they do help out, the mopping rags came out and we did all we could to stop the bleeding. Think of a bad nosebleed and you'll get the picture.

I then get taken off to hospital and get seen to relatively quickly in A&E due to mine being a head injury. I'm glad they first took the little fella who came in after me, he also had a head injury and didn't look too well. There was no way I was going to be able to get back to the game and it would have been highly dangerous for me to bat anyway as the shattering of my nose meant my glasses wouldn't have been straight.

I had the next day off work but was able to pick the car (and some of my kit) up from the ground thanks to El Diablo from work giving me a lift. The nose got on the way to being fixed about a month later when I went in to get it straightened. The fortnight after was great fun, as I was able to chase some of the more squeamish people around and scare them with Vampire Bloodshot Eyes.

Even though I can still remember most of what happened on the night, there were a few consequences. My memory over that time and the next couple of months is patchy. I could remember doing things and later finding out that I didn't. And the opposite, I did a few tasks and a week later I did them again because I had no memory of doing them.

Head injuries and amnesia are funny things - if someone you know has received a head injury, keep an eye on them (without them thinking you're mothering them !). They may have things going on inside their head that they aren't aware of, plus a Concussion (not really dangerous) can turn into a Compression quickly, which is a lot more dangerous. Lol - I still remember some of the first aid training I did many years ago.

This wake up call was a very useful one. I'd had a near miss at the start of that season in the nets, when the exact same shot ended up with a ricochet off my shoulder. Next year, I played the same shot and the ricochet hit me on the temple in front of my right ear. This would have been a lot worse, I'd probably have been knocked out. However, I was wearing a helmet and it went TING! off the grill. I felt really ill for the rest of that game and nearly threw up in the dressing room afterwards. I stayed out there though and anchored our innings until we won the game. I only got 26 out of about 130 but I was quite happily rotating the strike around and watching the bloke at the other end hit it to all parts. It didn't help seeing the opposition's wicket keeper stumble off with smashed fingers (not seen that before!) after an awkward take from the same bowler as hit me on the head. After one glance, I literally couldn't look at that fella's hand.

In the end, the only consequence is a nose that's only slightly harder to breathe through, plus the broken bits itch occasionally. I think I'm free from the amnesia. I definitely got away with it this time and the Wake Up Call warning got me buying a helmet which allowed me to avoid a potentially far more serious injury during the next season.

This huge long post brought to you by a person trying to avoid watching the Aus vs India game, which has had an incredibly tense finish. Italy and England are in the rugby later, hopefully England will do the job this time and not throw the game as badly as last week against the Welsh.

PS I won an award at the annual Xmas dinner due to this event. It was the award for "Unnecessary Surgery". A token gesture but offered in the spirit of genuine concern and relief that a potentially serious injury turned out ok. The contractor doesn't see me too much and this really brought home how worried they'd been about me. It's really nice to know that there's people around who get that concerned over your well being.

Saturday, February 09, 2008


I'm seeing a big contrast between the two multiplayer online games I've had a big involvement with :

Eve - the people I know in the game are fantastic people. They make me laugh and the occasional meetings up in the local are good fun. Trouble is, I'm not playing that game any more because I found it extremely tedious.

World of Warcraft - the game up to maximum level is decent, with good variation. Trouble is, because it's so easy to pick up and play, it gets infested by idiots. And because you're forced to go in groups to experience the end game content, you have to manage the idiots to be able to play.

So on the one hand - Eve : tedious game, great people
World of Warcraft : good game, tedious people

There are exceptions with Wow - there's a certain person in VR who I firmly believe is an angel who is visiting us for a little while. Plus there's the people I started the Mercs with and a few selected others. (The Scottish crowd, the Portuguese group and a few others too). There's not many of the Guildlink people who I'd pass the time of day with but there's exceptions there too - Sam, Aella and Tananka, take a bow :-).

What's prompted this post is a thread by a certain Jacobus Flint (in game Eve name) that made me laugh out loud this morning. I won't link it cos not many people looking here will have the access to see it and I won't quote it cos it's delightfully non-PC.

Friday, February 08, 2008

TV or Sex ?

That's the question asked in this Register story that caught my eye ... I've repeated the first two para's here :

"Electrical retailer Comet has confirmed what those of us who boast enormous plasma tellys already know - that when it comes to getting your rocks off nothing beats a bit of hot bloke-on-widescreen action.

A survey by the retailer asked 2,000 Brit chaps what would convince them to give up rumpy-pumpy for six months, and no less than 47 per cent said that they'd skip a shag for a 50-in plasma, Reuters notes."

Are they nuts ? Toys are one thing but I'd much rather have the chance to say "hello" to someone pretty as the first thing I do after waking up in the morning than have the big TV ...

That said though, the first thing I do when I wake up tomorrow morning will be to pop downstairs, turn the telly on and promptly fall asleep in front of NZ vs England cricket. And I am thinking heavily about new telly, skybox and speakers ... But I'd still prefer having the chance to say "hello" to that pretty person, especially if she likes watching cricket.

Gamer Frustration

Warcraft is pretty addictive, I was well and truly hooked for a couple of years before the last expansion changed the rules around a bit. I still come on to help the guild I started in raids but to be painfully honest, I'm not sure if it's the guild I started any more. Things change as they grow and we had to grow to get some independence. The alliance we were in became a burden and we had to leave it. Trouble is, since we left, we've probably grown too much and we're not too good at cutting out the people who get in the way.

Which leads to frustration ... The way Warcraft is built now, it's essential that everyone coming along on a raid does their part, be that in following the plan or just plain paying attention. It gets highly frustrating when problems come due to people not following that plan or not paying attention. Which leads to people tearing their hair out, leading to posts like this one.

game 1 (gm)n.
1. An activity providing entertainment or amusement; a pastime: party games; word games.

If the entertainment value of a game gets overridden by irritation with the people you're playing the game with, then you have to ask if that game is worth playing. A year or so ago, I'd have shrugged off the frustration and gone right back into thumping those monsters. Now, I'm not too sure that it's worth the bother. Plenty of other things to do out there ...

It doesn't help that my internet connection has gone unreliable. I was kicked off the net for about 15 mins/half an hour earlier, with little to do but fire up iTunes again and listen to some music while watching the modem lights flash.

Looking ahead - it's the Fryday Morning FatBoy breakfast day tomorrow, which always cheers me up. Must be the bacon - it sends me hyperactive !

(addon) One highlight from tonight though was a conversation with one of our tank characters. He was complementing me on keeping one mob under control all the way through the fight. I think he was impressed that at one point, I had it under control despite not being logged into the game ! Disconnected halfway through but managed to get back in again.

Wednesday, February 06, 2008

Going green

I'm not exactly what you'd call the poster boy for Green issues. I drive, which is something the environmentalists will succeed in banning sooner or later, plus I've managed to avoid the craze of energy saving stuff. I leave my PC on all day, taking care not to leave Messenger running on it seeing as MSN seems to be developing a habit of signing in all on its own. At least my PC's running the BOINC program on it, which means at any one time it's helping medical research, looking for aliens or running climate models.

The anti-green is changing a little though - I'm down to my last spare lightbulb in my living room, which means energy saving lightbulb ! Comes to something when you have to go green cos you don't know if you're going to be able to buy normal stuff.

The next step might be to get a bike ... Part of the environmentalist lobby's not very devious plan is to ban cars by not allowing them to park anywhere. In the next couple of years, I may have to start paying to drive near my work place. Well - after a month or six, the cash spent on a bike will start to be less than what parking would be clocking up.

Gotta run - the Wow people are calling me !

Tuesday, February 05, 2008

Catching up

Trying to catch up at the moment. I watch a little too much telly, which gets a little easier now because NCIS has got to the end of its rerun on FX. The list is :

House - 5 a week
Torchwood - 1 a week
UFO - 2 a week, although this is another one that's finished its re-run
Space 1999 - 1 a week
Atlantis - 1 a week
Jericho - 1 a week

That's a little too much telly, so I'm starting to try and make a dent in it while not logging back into Wow. There was a chance to hit one of the instances today but people didn't seem to be going for it an hour ago, so I'm catching up on the telly instead. Telly's not too healthy but playing on the pooter is even less healthy. I need to get out more.

Last night's Warhammer was fun, although our GM Aginoth proved yet again that he can be truly eeeevil. There were a couple of "ok - everyone but him leave the room please" moments last night, which is how the GM passes on critical information that the other players can't know until later. It usually leads to sideways looks between the other players, associated with general "ok - how painfully is that one going to die ..." thoughts.

If this is followed by the player going through the phases of rolling up a new character, then you start wondering if there's any collateral damage happening to the dead-but-we-don't-actually-know-it-yet character. The character did actually survive - but the player had about an hour thinking that he'd be getting a new one.

Quite happy with the way my boy Leopold is doing, he's easy to play cos I can play him as a wide eyed kiddy which is precisely what he is. He's learning though. I getting to like the Warhammer system more too, the more exposure I get to it. It seems to make much more sense as a combat system than the DnD and Vampire systems. There's not much magic but that helps to keep it nicely rooted in something near to "reality".

Monday, February 04, 2008

Force of Nature

Just had one of those "erm - Sleepy, you should probably look outside at the fence in your garden" emails ...

The wind wasn't too bad for driving in, didn't see many lorries having trouble but it's exposed even more of the cowboy antics of the builders I had in ages ago to turn my garden into something maintenance free. Looks like I be buying some bigga nailz soon ... Fence panel is fine but the nails weren't up to the job. Plus I'll have a few years worth of greenery to clear before putting the panel up again.

I think I need a Machete. And some Napalm would be useful too. Glad I have an understanding neighbour :-)

Will have to peek at the sky dish too - it's not receiving all the channels it should, plus recordings have a tendency to jump and skip a bit.

Warhammer gaming tonight - should be good fun. Just finishing up my dinner before heading over there.

Sunday, February 03, 2008

It be damp in them thar hills ...

Weekend at mum's and dad's for me this one, I just got back and am settling in front of the telly for the superbowl. And I'm trying to reconcile having no clock under the telly. My "clock" has been pressed back into service as a video for my nan as she broke hers and the replacement my mum & dad had was too smart and wouldn't work. So my nan has mine, which is a nice and stupid £99 one that I've had for years. It got its redundancy notice when I got me a Sky Plus box.

Was surprised by the roads this weekend, apart from one or two road closures, the roads were nearly empty. I do tend to travel in the evening though, so all the nutters tend to be clear before I hit the road. And road closures don't affect you too much if you have a satnav to babysit you. Weather was clear over in Lincolnshire but went very damp down the M5. Nothing dangerous but damp.

Friday night - got mugged by the dog. My parents only have one dog now, we had to say farewell to Charlie last year because old age was making his life a misery. If a dog can't even get in and out of his chair because his legs don't work right and goes "do I have to?" when it's walk time, then it's time to think about letting them pass on. Charlie's hunting wabbits and cats now and has willing slaves throwing balls for him to run after and bring back, he's in a happier place. We definitely miss him though.

Ben's seeming to gather neuroses though. He didn't have a very good christmas due to being stressed out. We had Xmas at my sister's place this year, which is definitely out of Ben the Staffy's comfort zone. He's a lovely dog is Ben, he just stresses when he doesn't need to.

New toys this weekend - my sister got one of the FM transmitter things that let you connect an iPod or MP3 player up to a car radio. I've had one for around a year now, sister's had to catch up there because her car cd player is bust.

Had a case of deja vu last night, the head waitress at the pub we had dinner at was very much like our IT Girl. Just rather larger than our pixie. Same bounce and good humour though. (Must not stare at waitresses!)

PS 598 tracks, 1.6 days music listened to over past fortnight.
PS2 England let the Welsh win. Been a while since I've seen a worse case of a game being thrown.

Friday, February 01, 2008

If vegetarians eat veg, then what do humanitarians eat ?

Saw that on someone's MSN just now as their daily comment and it made me grin. So I stole it :-).

I'm doing something tonight which might not be that wise. I'll be driving up to my mum's and dad's place. It was my dad's 65th birthday a few days ago, so it'll be good to go see them. My sister's managed to get the weekend free too. That reminds me, I must remove my lounge clock from where it's plugged in, it'll be getting pressed back into service as a video recorder for my nan.

We waved goodbye to someone on the project today, charming bloke called Dick who retires today. He's worked at my place longer than me and well and truly earned all the tributes he got today. We're still keeping going a tradition of giving people who leave a certificate, which is a custom job tailored specifically for the person who is moving on. I have great fun grabbing ideas from the team for juicy bits of info to put in the certificate.

I'm currently listening to iTunes, with 91 songs lasting 6.1 hours in the playlist. I have a few hours before I start the 180 mile drive, so I'm having a listen to the best tracks that are due to fall off the Recently Played list over the weekend. My party shuffle list usually has 20 upcoming songs on, so there's lots to get through. There's a small matter of 2x Led Zep cds and possibly a Catatonia cd to go on there too.

More over the weekend. Itunes - 589 songs, 1.6 days over past fortnight.