Friday, December 17, 2010

Another year, almost done

It's been quite a year this one. It started out in uncertainty which has turned into security. It saw me return to the cricket field although not as a bowler. New toys appeared which have been greatly appreciated. Disappeared from one game and jumped into another. Expanded my music tastes, with a little prodding from the sister.

As is usual for this time of year, I'm pretty much hanging on until I can do a big crash out tomorrow night. There may well be pizza involved. Currently very tired and feeling the effects of the year gone by.

I came back out of retirement to go back on the cricket field this year, one reason I'd been keeping away was that I really didn't know what my reaction would be to playing in the same team as the bloke that's going out with my ex. Not knowing if you'll stay rational is not a good place to be. Gotta say I'm proud of how I handled it and being chummy with the guy probably messed with his head - muahaha. I broke stuff again on the field as I cannot do any less than 100%, even when I should be taking it easy due to injuries. I have definite damage to the shoulder that's still with me, however it's better news with a (possibly fractured) shin that's completely healed now.

I didn't do any bowling this year, which I have mixed feelings about. There were a few games which we lost partly due to not having enough decent bowlers in the team. A fit and firing Sleepypete with the ball in hand could easily have seen a different result. (Lol - I was that good) But alas the damage to my right side & shoulder mean that bowling is not advisable nowadays. Instead it's fielding, still being one of the fastest in the team despite that damaged shin :-) I help out with the batting too, in a solid if unspectacular fashion.

Would I have made a different decision 6 months ago knowing I'd damage the shoulder and that shin ? Hell no (oops - a "yeah" slipped in there by mistake). There's a buzz that comes with pinning the ears back and Running that I don't get anywhere else.

What toys have appeared ?

My telly + sound stuff has completely changed this year. I've gone from old stuff to a 1080p thin LCD screen, I now use blu-ray discs and I have a surround sound system that I'm very pleased with. I reckon the surround kit is the best of the bunch as it does the business with iTunes audio as well as being awesome for movies. The old surround kit could sound very good but suffered from an inconsistency where it would sound very flat.

Relationship wise it's the same old story. All the interesting people are already very much more interested in other people. And not just that though, there seems to be distance coming in to the friend relationships. Really don't know where that's coming from, apart from maybe people being so focused on their own problems that they're blind to when other people might need a little help. Or maybe in the absence of a relationship of my own, I'm becoming too close to those who do.

Talking of relations ... I started the year in Eve and then halfway through switched back to the old addiction, Warcraft. They're chalk and cheese in terms of how online games go. But - Eve suffers from tedium after a while and if the corp people don't contribute enough to pull you out of the boredom (Saying that, Luth tries his hardest to keep me in interested in Eve !) then you just don't go back. Warcraft is a very different animal, there's huge variation in the world. Plus it's the home of the Hot Swedish Girls. Guild chat in VR is rarely dull.

They've also been redecorating in Warcraft, pretty much everything has changed. And I love what they've done with the place. It's a much richer world than when I started in it 5 and a half years ago. Things like a goblin starting storyline where you go from the Goblin city to a wild island with pygmy voodoo sacrifices, rabid flora and goblin engineering insanity.

It's top stuff, it's kept me laughing.

It's not all dull in the Eve world though. There's a cluster of people who act as a strong backbone to the group I play with. I've already mentioned Luth but there's also Agent Stone and Ham Handerson who were in the mob who I went up Snowdon with earlier in the year. I was woefully unprepared for that and definitely lacking in fitness readiness but we got up and down there. I also did all the driving for the weekend. Got a huge buzz from that weekend, I'll have to try and remember it for drawing on.

Last day of work tomorrow for this year, although I'll be checking in periodically with a working at home laptop (means the inbox doesn't explode). I'll be making the trip up to see the parents over Xmas, most likely picking a time when the impending snow doesn't make things too awkward ...

The job's gone pretty well over the course of this year. My previous post in the project had been disestablished because it was running out of things to do. The biggest contribution it had in its closing days was finance (bleh) and organising some technical documentation (a better task than it sounds). The purpose of it was "system engineering" and there wasn't a whole lot of that going on at the late stage we were at. So I was fairly philosophical at needing to find something different. The new post has led to rediscovering that "making a contribution" sense that was starting to become forgotten. I will be glad of a few weeks off though, definitely need the chance to rest & recharge.

The music tastes have expanded, with artists like The XX, more Cardigans, Kasabian, Goldfrapp, Lily Allen, TingTings, Gorillaz and Franz Ferdinand joining the established favourites. And "Chew Lips" are looking like they could join the collection too ...

So - a better end to the year than it started. Could be better still but we'll see what the new year brings there. It's likely to be Interesting Times still, wouldn't have it any other way.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Just listened to ...

I'm stealin' post ideas again :-)

This time it's from my good friend & neighbour Cyberkitten, who's just posted a list of what he listened to over the weekend. He's left out what he listened to through the wall :-) Here's my selection :

Tori Amos - Little Earthquakes

KT Tunstall - Tiger Suit

T'Pau - Rage

Dubstar - Stars, the best of Dubstar

Sleeper - The It Girl

The Hoosiers - Illusion of Safety

Levellers - Levelling The Land

Katie Melua - Pictures

Plus lots more random tracks splitting those up. Well, semi-random as I've been checking out a couple of albums just bought. One's from the Ting Tings, which I'm listening to at the moment. The other is from Kasabian. Ting Tings is rather different :-) Kasabian is fairly mainstream indie-ish rock but high quality for that. I get bored of listening to the same thing and a lot of pop is carbon copied in these modern days of X-Factor ArtificialPop.

I have a feeling it'll be a while before I get bored of Ting Tings, although I wouldn't put them in the Bat For Lashes, Cardigans, Alisha's Attic, All About Eve or Kate Bush bracket of Awesome.

The way I pick out what I listen to depends on two things - what I've listened to least and what's the longest since played. I'll also weave in a few favourites to split up the albums. That then gets fed into iTunes DJ, which picks more stuff out for me. It keeps the ears fresh with lots of variation in what I listen to. It's a bit skewed though, as the iTunes library has grown. The old stuff has 30-40-50 listens, whereas something new like Pictures has only 5 so far.

So what's coming up ? Out of the least played there's :

Bix Beiderbecke - The Beiderbecke Affair, which is a jazz soundtrack from a brilliant and utterly charming series from a few years ago.
Kasabian - West Ryder Pauper Lunatic Asylym
Ting Tings - more listens to We Started Nothing
Katie Melua - Pictures
Kasabian's self titled album - which got me buying West Ryder Pauper Lunatic Asylum
(will complete the collection soon)
Gorillaz - Plastic Beach

And of the Longest Since Played, there's :

Eurythmics - Greatest Hits
Dusty Springfield - The Collection
Gloria Estefan - Cuts Both Ways
The Cardigans - Life
The XX - xx
Elaine Paige - Christmas (and yes, I'll freely admit to that)
Enigma - MCMXC AD
Madonna - Confessions on a Dancefloor

With the system above, since January this year I've listened to everything in the library that's enabled (I disable duplicates or rubbish on collection cd's). There is some of the old stuff I could listen to repeatedly though, like the Alisha's Attic, All About Eve and Kate Bush cds :-) But I keep those as a treat.

Definitely enjoying Ting Tings at the moment for a bit of Insane Rebel. It hangs together well as an album, lots of character.

Tuesday, December 07, 2010

Dreams and ideas

Just finished watching Inception, which is another example of how a certain Leonardo Di Caprio seems to be having the pick of the best scripts to get turned into movies nowadays.

In this one, we have LDC with a crew of people who can use shared dreaming to find things out about people. The object is to get their secrets or their ideas, by taking the subject down into a dreamscape and then manipulating that dreamscape. One of the core ideas is that the subject will put the secret in a safe place, so when that safe place is broken into the secret is exposed.

It's a very smart movie, very well shot, very well made and with decent acting too. I have a feeling that LDC is starting to get cast as LDC though, in the same way as people like Harrison Ford or Nicholas Cage tended to play their parts as Harrison Ford or Nicholas Cage, despite what was intended. Let's get a person to play the psycho ! Call in James Marsters.

(Just taken 10 minutes to think of a stereotyped actress but all I can think of is "sexy, slightly nutty action chick" - Angelina Jolie)

The central idea is a powerful one. It's about how infectious an idea can be. How a small seed can grow into something that will redefine you, change you. That one small observation, does it change how you perceive something ? Do you start to shiver because you're actually cold or because everyone around you is acting cold ? Some people at work at the moment are shivering in multiple layers, others are fine in sleeveless shirts. (True - of the two above, one has done marvellously at losing weight lately but the cost of looking great is that she feels the cold more. The other is a little bigger than me and I have plenty of insulation !)

Similar with dreams vs actual memory. Ever had a dream where it seemed so close to reality that it could almost be a memory ? I've had a few of those, although I've been free of the anxiety dreams lately. Those are the type that seem clearest to me, an example would be me visiting an unfamiliar* place, being there for 10-20 minutes and then going outside to find the car gone. Seems like loss of transport or mobility is what causes me the most anxiety at the moment.

*(unfamiliar but unconsciously built from true memory)

One thing that makes the dream vs reality thing pertinent for me was the formation of false memories after my first Nose Job (hit on head by cricket ball). There was a period of 6 months after that where my grip on what was True Memory and what was False Memory slipped a bit, such that they overlapped. Mental rehearsal of some tasks (to figure the best way to do them) was going a little too far to the point where the rehearsal became actual memory of me doing something I hadn't gotten round to yet. I'd remember doing a task I hadn't actually done.

I don't think I'd have believed that unless confronted with an incident directly related to it ... A document that I was point of contact for needed to be passed around. I was sure I'd done that, however when one of the recipients joined the project a year or so later, he swore he'd never been sent it. So I checked that out and could find no evidence that I'd sent it.

False memory becomes real memory (my marbles were shaken up by the ball more than I'd realised)

I still get occasional flashes of a cricket ball about 6 inches in front of my face, about to crash into my nose. Dunno if that's Real Memory or something from my imagination become real, although it's consistent with what I think happened.

Oh - we saw the lady on our project who had a serious car accident a few months ago. She looked great, bouncy and with heaps of energy. She was only back for today but it was great to see her back. We have an efficient Work-At-Home system, so she's been insisting on keeping busy. She can't remember the car accident, I told her that's probably a very good thing. Some memories aren't worth keeping around.

The brain is a very complicated piece of biology - how much of who we are is based on real stuff ? How many of our ideas came from within, how many came from others ? How many of our attitudes are due to inherited or taught prejudices, how many were earned through observation ?

I had one cricket match where I turned up (a little late) and then jumped straight into bowling. However, it then went Horribly Wrong, because I couldn't land the ball anywhere I wanted. Instead of starting wide and curving into the stumps, it started wide and got wider. I'd obviously been listening to the pro commentators because my usual inswing had turned into away swing. So that seed picked up from listening had grew in my mind to the point where an otherwise well drilled bowling action changed just enough to become something new. Took a few days to figure out what had happened too ...

I'm still kinda wondering if I changed at all due to the cricket ball on head incident, even to the point of wondering if it had a direct impact on my last major relationship breaking down. I don't believe it did, I reckon that was doomed from a while before then. I like to Fix Stuff but had run out of ideas on how to Fix and make better a person who was sinking deeper into depression, dragging me with her. Overlaid on that is a definite "you should not attempt to change the person you love." There are still lingering doubts though.

Doh - the rambling has taken over ...

Ideas - they're a powerful thing. But make sure they're your own and not implanted by someone else ! Value most the opinion you've formed yourself or be in danger of missing out on the experience.

Sunday, December 05, 2010

Music Shuffle

Just spotted this one come round again on Facebook ...

(1) Turn on your MP3 player or music player on your computer.
(2) Go to SHUFFLE songs mode.
(3) Write down the first 25 songs that come up--artist and song title--NO editing/cheating, please.

There's more - but it's Facebook tagging type stuff that's not really appropriate for here. I usually tweak my iTunes DJ upcoming songs quite considerably but here's the ones that iTunes picked out for me :

1 - Franz Ferdinand - Michael
2 - Ennio Morricone - Il Tramonto
3 - The XX - Basic Space
4 - a-Ha - Manhattan Skyline
5 - Madonna - Shanti/Ashtangi
6 - Alanis Morissette - Mary Jane
7 - All About Eve - Hide Child
8 - Star Wars (ROTJ soundtrack) - Alliance Assembly
9 - The XX - Night Time
10 - Babylon Zoo - Spaceman
11 - The Cardigans - Little Black Cloud
12 - Evanescence - Cloud Nine
13 - All About Eve - Wild Flowers
14 - Pink Floyd - Comfortably Numb
15 - Abba - Andante, Andante
16 - River City People - California Dreamin'
17 - Pink Floyd - Speak To Me/Breathe
18 - Sam Brown - Your Love Is All
19 - Goldfrapp - Dreaming
20 - Blondie - Hanging On The Telephone
21 - Paramore - Playing God
22 - Norah Jones - Thinking About You
23 - Murray Gold - I Remember You
24 - Hard-fi - Stars of CCTV
25 - Mansun - Fragile