Sunday, April 29, 2012

Few little bits of randomness ...

When I started thinking about Pink Hat Project a few months ago, I never thought :

I'd be wicket keeping and therefore wearing a helmet all the time instead of a pink cap ... I'll wear the cap while staying back but the latest bump on the head convinced me that Helmets are not optional when standing up to the stumps. There's just not enough time to get out of the way when the unexpected happens.

That I'd be wicket keeping - I've done everything on a cricket field, bowl quick, bowl spin, bat, get key runouts and catches, umpire, I've captained the side a few times and on even rarer occasions I've been seen keeping wicket. Yet this season, for one of the teams wicket keeping may well be my number 1 job in the side. Fingers crossed (metaphorically because crossing fingers while catching a cricket ball means broken fingers) that I do an acceptable job at it.

And that's "acceptable" by my standards, which demand zero error.

That climate change would see the end of April seen out with torrential rain, flood warnings and the heating coming back on. I'm sitting here with 2 jumpers on ! Still, I managed to do a pizza run yesterday when it was dry and got a big smile off a pretty lady when I helped with opening the door. Yep, I'm still a sucker for that, although in my defense - I was doing nothing but idly waiting, her hands were full with pizza boxes and she looked so thin that she'd bounce off the door instead of being able to open it.

First game of the season is supposed to be Wednesday between my old side (that I'll still play for, clashes permitting) and my new side. I've got serious doubts that it'll happen because of the rain. With the amount we've had and the grounds we play on, I think if the game were tomorrow it would be called off now.


Nope - not the weather, actual pants. When playing cricket, there's a vital piece of protective gear that's supposed to protect something other than your knees. Yep, I'll be wearing a tighter pair of pants in the first game.

Hairy - with this cut lip, I'm likely to be growing a moustache for the next week or so. Or for as long as it takes to heal. The cut is too close to where you take the razor, which means trying a slightly different look for a while.

Head stuff - I think my head is clear again now but I'm still not getting the right messages come through for hungry/full. I recognise the rumbles but I've not been actually feeling hungry. Weird. Have to keep an eye on that. It should help the diet but I need to make sure I have enough energy on board to do what I need to do. Evening cricket is a bit funny for that as games start at 6pm, so dinner is Very Late. Big lunch + 3pm snack usually does the job.

Gaming - not sure how much time I'll have for this but I need another one now that I've finished my latest Deus Ex HR run. Skyrim is there for the background but it's MASSIVE. Guild Wars 2 is coming very soon and there's a chatterybox on Steamchat who wants me to get that.

Thinking of chattering - that's supposed to be one of my jobs as wicket keeper. Shouldn't have a problem there as I'm usually keeping the noise level up while in the field. It's important as if the chat level goes down, people go to sleep, fielding goes flat and runs get given away. Plus I'll be in the action all the time now instead of being exiled to near the boundary.

And other people - still thinking a lot of other people at the moment. At the moment that's mainly the little lady who's putting an incredibly brave face on at the moment for various issues going on. There's also the lady who's recently seen a major bereavement. And finally the singer who is about the only person who'd stand a chance of persuading me to come back into Warcraft, she's had a painful overnight hospital stay for what is hopefully just a false alarm.

Hope this rain clears up soon - sun brings a smile to everyone !

Saturday, April 28, 2012

Cone of Shame

Wonder if I'll manage to avoid getting put in one of these this summer ?
Wait - you're thinking I should be in one for Wednesday's antics ?


Doesn't count - it's pre season practice. Plenty of time to break more stuff in the season and knowing me, I'll definitely break something. And then hide it so no-one knows :-) That's part bluff though. Show someone weakness on a cricket field and they'll take advantage of it. A lot of the initial frenzy I'd show in the field was aimed at conning the batsmen into thinking I'm better than I am, so they take a split second extra to decide whether they want to run or not.

One weird thing about this head bump is that I've not felt hungry since. I've been eating and hearing/feeling the rumbles but that's not the same as feeling hungry. Strange. Curious to know if that'll continue, could be real handy for losing weight :-).

Feeling better today. Yesterday started with at least 12 hours sleep followed by me not really noticing what was going on in the afternoon. I haven't felt post-practice stiffness as expected. My back is almost pain free. That's weird because it always used to take time to get my muscles used to running around again. I'll feel stiff after the first game of the season plus I'll struggle in the games (bad left leg is ok when first used but stiffens very quickly) but getting conditioning back that quick is promising for playing several games in a week.

Perhaps it's a benefit of losing the weight. Must lose more then :-) (13st0 this morning!)

One more picture :
If she's asking ? (Jadzia Dax from Star Trek Deep Space Nine) Then hell yeah. But only because she had huge amounts of fun and I'd love to know just how far those spots go.

Friday, April 27, 2012

Thought I had a title for this one but it's kinda evaporated ...

I think I've said this before sometime but if you know someone's had a head injury, however minor, keep an eye on them. Damage that can seem superficial on the outside can hide more subtle damage on the inside. The brain is very complex and we don't properly understand it ...

So with my bump from Wednesday, the outside damage is superficial (ok, I should have had a stitch but it stopped bleeding on its own). When I came back into the practice, my reactions were still sound and my technique was working well so no problems with the reflexive parts of Me.

But where I have been struggling is speed and clarity of thought. Not had a headache but I've not been thinking or acting at a speed I'm accustomed to. I'll be ok, I recognise the signs from fragmented memories of when I got hit before. I know what to look for this time, including the hidden signs. Part of it is trusting yourself - I've having more trouble than usual putting words together and have had to watch the typos.

One thing I always seem to do though is reverse react. That's when you should really curl up into a ball but what you actually do is speed up and mask the trouble. So yesterday at work even though I was thinking slow, I was still thinking right. When I get damaged, I'll react and push through it for as long as I need to. It's like deferring the time I'll need to rest and recover.

That's enough of that though. Had today off work, partly due to anticipating being stiff from practice and to give the head chance to recover. And then slept 12 hours on and off this morning, including imagining a phone call at 7.30 this morning.

Had fun yesterday, topped off by getting out and about with the team in town. (We don't do that often enough). Snow Queen was looking radiant as the Spring Princess (how come I can't get those words out and just stand there like an idiot ?) and our table was alive with conversation all the way through.

But before that was thinking up a different explanation for my cut lip to anyone who asked. Here's a selection :

"You shoulda seen the other guy"
"Practicing kendo without a mask"
"You should never run with scissors"
"Getting hungry during net practice"
"When you allow the other guy the first punch, you are allowed to dodge"

And my favourite, which I did eventually get to use :

"When a beautiful woman comes running towards you at top speed, you don't have to catch them. You are permitted to dodge."

That one's actually true, I got a very similar cut lip at university where I was walking through the halls minding my own business when a very pretty first year student came running out of her room. I got to "She's gorg..." before SLAM. Ok, maybe I wasn't staring too much because I was going out with someone and my single mindedness there wouldn't have allowed the possibility. Anyway, next thing I know the cut is getting washed in her sink and then I'm getting dragged off to hospital A&E by my girlfiend.

4 hours later I get seen and the cut has already stopped bleeding, treatment unnecessary. I MISSED MY PIZZAA !!! Yep, that was what we'd planned to get. Or maybe that was what we bought after missing dinner at uni.

And that's one incident where I learned to rely on my own healing than waiting for doctor's appointments. Most of the time I've gone to doctors, the problem has healed before I've got in to see them.

Oh - I was highly amused by one person's reaction to seeing the cut lip : "OH GOD PETE!" :-)

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Oops - done it again

Before you read any of what'll be below - I'm ok, albeit a little shaken (although I'd never admit that. Hmm ... doh!). Haven't seen the need to rush off to hospital, although it is still in my mind. I'm actually more worried about my leg.

Net practice again tonight, which meant me attempting to continue that crash course in wicket keeping ...

There's not really enough space in nets to stand back as you should do with quicker bowlers, so I'm usually right behind the stumps where you need practice, practice, more practice, agility, quick reactions and a little stupidity. I have a couple of those right now (the stupidity and the reactions) but I'm badly in need of the practice. The agility is so-so, loss of weight has helped but I've hurt my left leg.

The stupidity is still in control though, so I started off the practice without wearing a helmet.

That's a really bad idea. Top edges do nasty things, plus bales (the little bits of wood on top of cricket stumps) tend to fly straight up when people are bowled. So you should wear head protection when standing up to the stumps.

What actually happened ?

Ball's coming down behind the batsman (where you're unsighted as a keeper anyway) and he takes a swing. He gets a top edge, so instead of the ball coming near my gloves it goes straight up. And on to my top lip.


The damage wasn't actually too much, one fella didn't even realise I got hit (think he was the batsman). I cleaned myself up and got rid of most of the blood and then did what you should ALWAYS do in situations like this : Get back on the horse as soon as possible.

So after returning from getting cleaned up, on comes the helmet, gloves go on the hands and I'm back behind the stumps trying to learn wicket keeping. Looks like they're relying on me to do that job this year, which is scary.

My keeping still needs a lot of work, although it'll hopefully be easier standing the right distance back. I was getting a lot of confidence late on though from getting lots of clean takes and good stumpings.

So yeah - lesson learned. When standing up to the stumps, wear a helmet as it protects you when Strange Things happen. I'll look into buying other stuff too, like a face mask type grill so I can still see better. A face mask will also be lighter and airier.

Practice - went ok. I'm timing the ball pretty well out to the offside and the defences seem ok. My shot play seems more attack minded this year, with me flipping back to defence instantly when the ball demands more respect. Promising for the season.

How am I feeling now ? Shaken and sore.

Shaken - Beneath the "doesn't hurt at all" show, I was actually a little shaken. Fingers were wobbly for a while.
Sore - my left leg has decided to stiffen up. The problem is in the hamstring at the back of the leg right near the top. It's a bit sore. It isn't torn as the leg still works ok.

Lip's gonna look great at work tomorrow :-) But I'm not worried about it. Taken my lumps, learned my lesson, more worried about the duff leg.

PS My challenge at work tomorrow will be to show off the cut lip to as many people as possible ... and come up with a different explanation to all of them. Muahaha :-)

Tuesday, April 24, 2012


Saw one from the Cheezburger crew and laughed ...

Sadly I can't add it here because their Terms of Services are EVIL but here's a link to the original : "". Yes, I see people stealing copyright pictures all the time and reposting them often without attribution but I'm not about to do that. There's even one on Facebook who monetises it ... They'll use photos from places like ICHZBGR and attach "sponsor a kitten" to it. That's really dodgy ground and can easily get them sued. (Although they don't say they got permission, that could have happened)

Anyway - I'm getting sidetracked again. The caption is "OMG don't put me on facebook" and it's a shocked kitty in a babygro.

There's not that many pictures of me around and there's a very good reason for that. Webcams and cameras dislike me intensely. It's true. I haven't heard or seen a camera lens crack yet but it must have been close.

And it's been a while since I've been in a shape I'd have liked to be photographed in. There's pictures of me on Facebook from last year which contributed to me deciding to lose weight. I'm chubby in them. Even the ones from Snowdon show me carrying around a backside that's on the ample side. But I seem to be doing ok as people are saying I'm visibly more slimline these days.

Still trying to figure out what weight I was when this was taken :

That's me on the bottom left with the big arrow (I needed to make it really obvious to the Mercs or they wouldn't have got the message). It was taken in late summer '98 (Hey ! I heard that - that would be 1998) when I helped that side to win that cup that we're showing off there. I could still bowl back then too.

There aren't many more recent pictures than that which I'd like to have visible and out there, although I do know what'll be on my Facebook timeline when that gets inflicted on me :

That picture is perfect. It was taken 2 years ago in a game between my old side and my new side. I'm in the field towards the left, hands in pockets (as usual), white sun hat stopping my hair from getting in my eyes and I just so happen to be indulging in a bit of sledging with the incoming batsman who was an awesome colleague (they posted him down south).

I wasn't being too rude, honest. Just reminding him how many runouts he'd been involved in - muahahaha.

So most of the time when I see my ugly mug on Facebook, I'm thinking that I need to learn to hide better. Some FB pics are fine, others are downright nasty. Hopefully at least one will appear this summer with me leaping about after taking stumpings.

Monday, April 23, 2012

Travel randoms

Was travelling this weekend, doing the Easter and birthdays thing ...

I can keep up on Facebook on weekends away but I leave blog updates for later. (The family don't know I blog, I've managed to keep it a secret despite linking a few pages across)

Travel conditions on Friday could only be described as "interesting". I knew it was going to get like that when, while approaching Birmingham, the skies suddenly started getting dark. And this isn't sun down type dark, it's Apocalyptic Rain Incoming type dark.

Rain on the roads isn't actually too bad, if you're aware of what needs to be done to avoid it being dangerous. That's things like expecting there to be rivers in the road, knowing that puddles are deeper than they appear and will grab your wheel and attempt to spin you but most of all having a firm belief that everyone else on the road will be a moron.

Safe driving in rain doesn't include slowing from 80 to 60 in the outside lane of a motorway to have a good look at the accident that's happened on the other side of the road. That's why motorway accidents almost always cause traffic congestion both ways, because of idiots who will make the conditions dangerous when they don't need to be.

Anyway - conditions were actually pretty bad on Friday, I could feel my front wheels wanting to aquaplane. That's pretty rare, especially as my front tyres should only be about half worn (need to check that).

They weren't great on Sunday either, with the morons racing down the M5 on the way back. The catalogue includes - a motorhome doing 85-90, an Audi towing a trailer at 75mph (it was visibly snaking) and the bunch of people who shot past at 100+.

Meh - that's frustration that needs to be put in a box and forgotten about. (I only get frustrated because the morons who cause the danger are usually the ones who survive their inevitable accident)

I forgot the easter eggs ...

Oops. I got about 30 miles up the road before realising too. It won't take long to consume the evidence :-)

Birthday weekend - it was my nan's birthday in the week (she's 93) and my mum's birthday this week. So we had one of our occasional gatherings together.

Diet - despite eating almost everything in sight come dinner time, I always manage to lose weight up there. Must be due to eating healthily ... Perhaps there's a lesson there ?

Hugs - I got a hug from Super Waitress at the Swanholme :-)

Car - even though I'm not quite right yet from the net practice, the car let me do 3 hours 180 miles nonstop last night and the same distance with 2 stops on Friday (munchies + petrol). It's an awesome cruiser. And because it's the best car in the family now for carrying people, I do all the driving over the weekend too. (5 doors, mpg, speed, handling, comfort).

Cricket - I have control of those leg muscles back again now but my back is still suffering. Shoulder and neck are a bit sore too. But they'll manage. The leg muscle stiffness is normal for unconditioned legs that don't see enough exercise for the leg muscle mass I have. The shoulder and neck are from me attempting to bowl, I have my info now and know my bowing days are over. I'll be converting to wicket keeping instead, which will lead to its own special brand of Unhappy Muscle Hell.

And now straight back into the whirlwind today. Easy evening tonight, easy evening tomorrow. Nets Wednesday, munchies Thursday. Hopefully I won't be too much of a statue come Thursday evening. Seriously considering having Friday off.

PS Today also marks the anniversary of the release of a frankly inferior piece of crud that held back personal computers for many years. It was unreliable, had an evil keyboard and was not fit to be called a "computer". Sometimes, the worst possible option becomes the popular one, just like VHS did. Yes, I am definitely a BBC Computer Snob. And proud of it.

Friday, April 20, 2012

Another one from the Facebook feed :
I think I do ok with figuring out which of the wolves to feed. I definitely recognise the truth behind the proverb as I know those two wolves are inside me, just as I know I have the hyperactivity manic bunny being dragged down by the depressive elephant.

I like to help people out. In fact, I like to help people out so much I'll get carried away with it. It happens at work and with the cricket. At work, I'll prioritise work that enables other people to do stuff ahead of the work that's focused on me. (I'm terrible at arranging things like car services.) With the cricket, I'll step into Coaching Mode where I'll not be able to resist pointing out the flaws in people's techniques in a "you should be doing it this way" kind of way.

With the cricket, I need to figure out how to do that a bit less obnoxiously as it can put people off. Like the fella who batted without any left hand control, I'll see if I can get him to watch me next week. Spindly arms mean I don't have as much power as I'd like but my technique is pretty good.

I got sidetracked into talking cricket again didn't I ?

The happy wolf I think I'm doing ok with, although I don't get as many opportunities to feed it as I would like.

The angry wolf is what threatens to get the depressive side of me in control. And it's favourite food comes from when I get blocked from helping people out. I can be prone to jealousy but I always try and ask "Is she happier with the other guy ?" Their happiness is more important. But if they're sad and I'm blocked from giving them the support they need, I don't understand and that's when my confusion feeds the evil wolf.

But at the moment both good and evil wolves are locked in their cages because the I Hurt Like Hell wolf is in control ! Post nets status is currently :

Lower back lumbar muscles - are frozen making it tough to bend
Thigh muscles - are in concrete mode
Hands - are covered in bruises
Shoulder - is actually ok because I only bowled about 6 deliveries

Post nets stiffness will probably last until Sunday and then it gets better from there. I'll be stiff again after Wednesday's nets but it'll ease earlier. It's just tough to get back into it after such a long time away.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Thursday Thirteen - Net Lessons

Cheating and making Blogger delay this until Thursday ! Ok, so net session tonight, what did I get out of it :

1 - I can't bowl. Ok, I can bowl but very, very slowly. Which means "GRENADE!!!!" type lobbing of the ball, which is completely and utterly useless. If I put any power into the action, then the mechanical hitch takes over and messes up the delivery. And I need that power to bowl either seam or spin. No bowling.

2 - Batting was surprisingly good. Muscle memory was still there, technique was active and the feet were moving.

3 - Shots were coming all round, I just need to use them in matches.

4 - I can play the Pietersen switch hit !!!!!! And it's surprisingly easy to pull off. It's actually easier than doing a reverse sweep. Can't say I'll use it in games because it needs slow bowling and the right field but it's an option.

5 - I still have the batting flaw which means I can't hit balls that come down 6 inches outside leg stump. And those are supposed to be meat & drink 4 balls. Just can't get to them.

6 - The run to Yate does wonders for the car mpg. Car went from 48mpg to 49mpg on the night.

7 - Even though I can't bowl, I got value out of the session by standing behind the stumps and impersonating a wicket keeper. Even managed to take a few, including a high wide fast one taken one handed standing up close.

 8 - I think I need to buy some keeping gloves as the kit bag gloves were a little big. (I have little pinkys)

 9 - Ow. Owowowow OUCH. My legs need a hell of a lot more conditioning than they currently have as the batteries were running out very quickly. But they appreciated me having less ballast.

10 - Nets worked up an appetite. I was incredibly hungry when I got home and nearly started snacking before my shower.

11 - Tomorrow will be "interesting" (in the historical sense) as I have a mandatory training presentation to sit through. That will be absolute perfect conditions for making sure I become a statue by lunchtime.

12 - Bruise count is a shiner to come on my right thigh, probably one on my left thigh and a mystery bruise on my left hand between thumb and finger. My back (lower lumbar area, under and between the kidneys) is what's making it curious to bend down.

13 - It was totally, utterly worth it. Despite the disappointment of having absolutely nothing available for bowling. Hopefully more people will appear next week as we only had 4 of us tonight, 2 of whom (not me) could bowl.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Nets tonight

And even before they start, it feels like I've been beaten up again ...

I'm going to defer Pink Hat Project (or change what I'd do for it). And I'm very disappointed about that as it means I can't assure myself that I'd be able to throw myself into every game possible this year. Taking stock of the issues at the moment :

Leg - the infection that kept me out of cricket last year improved quite a bit. It's not been icky since about December. I think the infection is completely gone now but the leg is not yet healed and still flares up when I wear the wrong thing.

If I did launch Pink Hat Project as a season long thing, I couldn't guarantee that I wouldn't have to pull out mid season due to the leg becoming infected again.

General frailty - I carry a bunch of old injuries that like to remind me and slow me down. At the moment, it's the hip injury but I'm also getting flashes of pain from my upper body and lower back that I cannot relieve through stretching out. I have a finger that's decided it wants to tell me it's at broken+3weeks.

It sounds like general depression inspired whinging (I am in a depressive cycle right now) but I just don't have the confidence that I won't break down a few games into the season. Hence keeping in reserve the option to take a fortnight or so away from cricket if I need to. And I probably will need to at some point.

But ... I will still wear the Pink Hat at every opportunity in honour of a fallen colleague who passed away not 3 weeks ago now. I just won't do it as a massive thing that would put so much pressure on me I'd permanently break something through pushing myself to play when I'm already injured.

And thinking about it, I think a bounty will be in order if I do pass certain goals this season :
Score a 50 (never got one, should have done),
Get runouts or stumpings (wonderful if they happen, opportunities are rare)
Get 10 catches over the season (this is likely)
Or even less likely - get wickets (depends if I can/do bowl)

So instead of doing it on just turning up and being mediocre, having a bounty on doing something that's worth a reward. I like that better. I'm only expecting I have 1, maybe 2 (3 at absolute max) seasons left in me before I can no longer command a place in a team on merit and I've already lost one of the reasons for being in a team due to the bowling. Batting I'd be able to do at age 50 but if I don't have the speed in the field then that's the point where I can't justify being in a team.

Still - it seems like I'm writing off my chances and disappointing myself before even trying to see what I have available. I'll see how it goes at the practice tonight.

At the end of the day it's motivation. I need to appear strong for other people to give me the impulse to feel strong myself. Perhaps I need a cheerleader to tell me I can achieve stuff even when the depression makes me believe that I can't ? (Please let it be a cheerleader with intelligence!)

Monday, April 16, 2012

Hyper, Hunger, Hype, Hectic, Hopeful, Hell

Craziemob watched Hunger Games tonight.

Gotta say, this is a really well made film. They got their script and executed it pretty well. The main star, Jennifer Lawrence, playing Katniss will be massive. But then again, we could already see that from her being the highlight of X Men First Class.

Wait - you're probably detecting a hint of very faint praise there ...

Yes. The execution is done extremely well. The cast play their parts well. Sets and effects are top notch. Will I buy it on blu-ray ? Probably not. Although saying that, this is likely to be another Avatar where I avoided buying it until a second watching off Sky movies. Yet the hype has made this such a smash hit that we're likely to see the next two books in the series turned into film.

Bit like Twilight. I watched Twilight. Honest. Yep, I'll freely admit that I've watched Twilight once. And I've even bought Paramore albums ! But I stayed away from the sequels. I may well end up doing the same with Hunger Games (Today's hyperactivity broke just before the start, which is probably why I'm underwhelmed).

Hunger Games - great execution, script was carried by the star. Concept somewhat tired and World Setting was nonsense.

Do I recommend you see it ? No. Watch Mirror Mirror instead cos that's highly entertaining and is a film I will Definitely buy when it comes to bluray at an acceptable price. And I enjoyed John Carter more too.

Hyper ?

I must have needed the break and looking back at the "Anyone got the number of that truck ?" post just as I started my leave reminded me how burnt out I was. This morning though, getting back in to work was a Sleepypete spinning like a top. I got to my desk at 8.45 and by 9.30 I'd been thinking so quick I was amazed it was 9.30 and not 11.00 yet.

Hype - is Hunger Games. The hype has made people come out to see this one for sure. But having seen it, I'm not sure Hype will get people out to see the sequels. The concept has been done better before and in Future Earths that are less nonsensical.

Hectic - oh yes. Next few days will be nuts :

Working like a dervish as usual,
Shopping to do (need stuff for weekend)
First net session for cricket on Wednesday
Battleship will be watched on Thursday (I will leave my brain in the car where it'll be safe)
And travelling to do

Hopeful ?

I'm very curious to see what I'll have available in the net session on Wednesday. I'm feeling pretty good at the moment. I still feel the point pain in back and shoulder that reminds me to not go nuts with trying to bowl too quick. And I still have the faint limp due to the hip injury. But I'm hopeful that I'll be able to turn the arm over a little on Wednesday, although I don't particularly want to do any bowling in matches this summer. I prefer fielding these days.

What I do know however is that my legs are in great shape. The power is there in the muscles and the knees are supporting delivering it. The hip injury is slowing my walking but it's not in muscle groups that affect power running. I'll be looking for some serious speed in the summer on cricket fields where I'll have the space to pin the ears back and go for it. And perhaps with carrying less ballast, I'll have brakes too. That'll be a pleasant change !

Back to the fray tomorrow.

PS Hell ? That'll be what I'm in on Thursday when all my muscles go concrete after nets !

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Lazy Sunday

Last day of the break today - and I think I'm recharged and ready to dive back into work tomorrow. As always, I've listened to a ton of music over the break. Actually just over 1000 different tracks with today to go. What kind of stuff ?

I've quite enjoyed Taking Time Out (T'Pau). I've needed it as the mental exhaustion from how hard I'll drive myself takes its toll after a while.

One of the albums I've listened to again is Duffy's Rockferry which has the track "Warwick Avenue". So beautiful, so sad. Love trying to sing along to this one (it's outside my range) but I know I'll have to be careful if I ever do get into another relationship as I suspect me singing along to songs like this made Ravenwolf very uncomfortable ...

Another really sad one that's come through is Roads by Portishead. This is one that'll make me sit up and pay attention while joining in too.

I'd actually much rather sing along to the Incidentals (Alisha's Attic), although my voice isn't cooperating with that one at the moment. Or Forever Autumn from the War Of The Worlds show. Had the chance to go see this near Xmas but we declined due to : cost, logistics (Lincs+London+back) and the tickets went sooo fast.

Also listened to the first All About Eve album again. This is a real blast back to the past, with All About Eve being the first group I really got into. Favourite track is Apple Tree Man but videos are hard to come by, here's a more recent one : Blue Sonic Boy.

I reckon that if I'd listened to the album this one comes from before doing my cabin fever breaking city centre wander, I'd have come home with a few Morcheeba albums. Fear And Love - had never really registered those lyrics, I'd just sung along and got lost in them.

I've not picked up her latest album yet (it'll go cheap soon) but I've turned into a fan of Katie Melua and one of her best is Piece By Piece. Dunno when I'll listen to that again though because the way I choose what albums I listen to don't favour it because it's so good. (That doesn't make sense does it ?) Anyway, am I someone's Shy Boy ?

And thinking of amazing voices, here's one from Tori Amos' album of covers : Strange Little Girls.

Just added another couple of greatest hits album to the library, one of them is The Bangles. They broke the mould when they broke onto the scene but sadly didn't stick around for many albums. I reckon tomorrow will be a Manic Monday.

Also put on the Seal greatest hits acoustic album which has a track which says it all : Bring It On.

Could be a wrench though getting away from the Lazy Days (Robbie Williams) but that time off has had the desired effect : Feeling Good (Nina Simone). But not before more chill out, next album up in the queue is Fallen Empires by Snow Patrol which has this Symphony.

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Home network stuff

This is another in the theme of "you may be interested in" ... :-) Sparked off by this Register article that's talking about improving how your network at home works.

Networking is getting into everything these days as Data and Information become ever more prominent in our society. We'd be lost without our Google searches ... Even some cars like the Nissan Leaf can have you able to interrogate it via apps on your phone. Mentioning cars, loving the Bluetooth integration on my CT. Getting urgent messages around is much easier with that, instead of fumbling with the handset to interpret or send a text, just call them with the speakerphone which lets me keep a hand on the wheel at all times.

The Reg article is a pretty decent one and well worth a look if you've been having trouble getting the machines on your network to talk to each other. While it is a bit techie, it doesn't get sidetracked into the black art of getting Windows machines to talk nicely. Although it helps there if the software ({cough} Krapspersky {cough}) doesn't get in the way.

I run a few devices here on my home network :
Acer laptop - this connects via wifi and is my main "looking at stuff" computer
Homebrew desktop - games + email in the morning
Littlewhitebox - this is an Apple Airport Express (I have an older model)
Panasonic bluray player - connects via wifi but to be honest it's a bit pointless it being connected
Phone - although not really because I have the wifi disabled to save battery
Xbox360 - if it ever sees games again I have a Long Wire for it
Linksys router - connects it all together

The network sees quite heavy use, as unless I'm watching something on the telly I'll be streaming music to my hifi. The laptop plays the music off iTunes, it'll chuck it over the network via the Airplay protocol and the Littlewhitebox will decode that and send it to the amplifier. It works extremely well. The quality is very good, outside of the crackles you'll get with certain music on mp3s.

When my amplifier breaks (I'm waiting for a dodgy HDMI board to break, although it hasn't misbehaved lately) I'll replace it with something that supports Airplay natively. I'm a firm supporter of the Airplay system and the Littlewhitebox. It'll expand the mp3 up to about 1.1Mbits/s, which is getting close to cd quality while still using a little compression. It gives you a portable box that can go anywhere and plug into anything with an audio input. I've even had it feeding music through a telly. The hifi mags always seem to ignore it though when they review network streamers.
 And I'm getting sidetracked again.

The wifi's been doing pretty well lately. It's been able to cope with the 1Mbit/s streaming audio, 360p video coming from the internet and occasionally massive file transfer when I send stuff between laptop and desktop.

What's it have to compete with ? I live out in the suburbs so there's happily no flats with 1 router per place to compete with. I can see 8 other networks at the moment but I know one of my neighbours had or has a scanner that likes to try hacking other people's networks. I have my router set to not broadcast its name, which stops that scanner from jamming my network.

No broadcast - trouble free for months
SSID broadcast - jammed within days

I think the intention of that jammer is to knock devices off the network so they have to reconnect. With WPA-PSK encryption, the connection phase is the only time when the key can be intercepted. (WEP is brute force hackable without that clue.) But ... it'll still take millennia to derive the passcode even if you intercept it. (tomshardware article)

My kit is a little old, so it takes longer to copy files than if I wasted cash on the latest and shiniest stuff. But when you really look at it, if you can stream audio at 1Mbit/s while copying massive files and watching video then 802.11g is perfectly adequate. But I am thinking of stepping into Powerline networking bits. If that amplifier breaks, I'll replace it with something that has Airplay built in but it'll need a wired connection. But that's the only reason I'd have to add Powerline networking bits.

Recommendations ?

Read reviews, sort through what they say to point yourself towards the best kit
(Belkin are on my Do Not Buy list for their predilection to having a gadget for everything but none that work)
If what you have works, you don't have a need to change
Make sure your wifi is encrypted (WPA-PSK if your bits support it)
Investigate router options for avoiding interference

I'm interested in Powerline network kit but I'll not buy anything until I actually have a need for it. The Xbox360 is effectively my dvd player now and the bluray player and audio streamer have a wifi connection. The desktop sits next door to the router where it can use a wire to get the best performance online. There's all my networking needs right there.

Friday, April 13, 2012

Holiday cheev's

Thought I'd sum up the holiday so far in the style of game achievements ... Achievements are a relatively recent innovation in gaming which aim to extend the life of the game by giving you interesting challenges to make you play the game a different way. 

Smile time - turn a friend's mood around by being good company. Think I managed this with the quick run out to see Mirror Mirror, although I suspect the film had more to do with Smile Time than the company. 

Lazy Days - do as little as you can get away with. I had intended to get a couple of outstanding jobs done this holiday, which I've avoided. The key thing I needed to do though was Chill Out. The Xmas to Easter period tends to be tough as I'll run myself into the ground. I'd done that again this year and badly needed the R+R to get me back into a position where I can apply brain without having to lean on hyperactivity all the time.

Yes, I feel a bit bad for not starting to clear out the back garden or getting the car serviced. 

Chill out - be more relaxed. Definitely feeling a lot more relaxed now than 9 days ago (last day at work). 

Cut the fat - be lighter, despite the Easter effect. I'm lighter now than I've been for years, possibly lighter than when I started working. (Can't remember when I broke through 13stone). I've not seen the scales go below 13 stone yet (I'm not exactly burning the calories at the moment) but I'm stable at 13st0-13st2, which is a massive improvement. 

Decipher a Riddle - confirm a theory. I had a theory that my last pair of jeans were part of the cause of last year's leg problem. The leg would improve over the week when I was wearing work stuff and then go way backwards on a Friday when I'd be in jeans again. I'd not worn them since maybe October but had to go back to them due to a zipper malfunction ... (The tag you pull came off). And lo and behold the leg started flaring up again after half a day in those jeans. I get my jeans from a different place now. 

Avoid insanity - minimize exposure to daytime TV. I watch way too much TV. And that TV seems to be changing to being more interest in Fact TV than Fiction TV. I dunno, fiction TV like dramatisations seems to be running out of ideas or they're falling into the "Survive Through Ratings Gained By Sensationalism" trap. Fact TV like Ice Road Truckers or the others from the Deadliest Catch production group are far more interesting. It's unscripted and you really don't know what's going to happen unlike most Fiction TV which is telegraphed and obvious. 

Where was I - get sidetracked. There I go again ! Yep. Managed to avoid exposure to daytime TV, although there are still the infestations of lawyer ads, other ambulance chasing ads and insurance ads. It's where the money is these days and makes you glad you have a fast forward button. 

Itchyitchyitchy - try the beard again. This is really training so my beard doesn't grow too quick. Last time I shaved was almost a fortnight ago so men can imagine what kind of itchiness I'm feeling at the moment. Aaaand ... I still have a slight bald patch under my chin from the incident that see my first broken bone. 

Toast and Butter - get at least some control back over the kitchen. First time I've had the toaster out for a couple of years. I have at least achieved a little bit of clearing up :-) I also have more control over my sofa from clearing up, if not my chairs. 

See the sun - avoid turning my clock around. I'd normally fall victim to a bad habit, where I end up staying up way too late and totally wrecking my day/night cycle. Managed to avoid that somehow, although it might be a symptom of me gaming less these days. 

Miss people - have your thoughts dominated by things like "Is ... ok ?". That's a definite. I'm rubbish at doing things for Me but live for helping out others. And it's difficult to help out other people if you're not around them.

There's still a couple of days to go until I launch myself back into the whirlwind of work but I think when they're up, I'll be raring to go again. If only to get a chance to grin at a very special little lady.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Lies, Damned Lies and Statistics

Last night I was hoping I'd be unveiling the "I'm lighter than I've been in years" Pocket Dragon (it's a "Feed Me") but alas, the needle of the scales is still above that certain point ...

:-) I'm still lighter than I've been in years but haven't dipped below that 13 stone point yet ...

Lies, damned lies and statistics ...

I love stats. It's a form of information given through numbers that should depend on hard fact boiled down into recorded info. It's the core of what I do at work, in terms of output at least. (My actual function is wider than just stats, I apply my engineering knowledge to let me select the right info and to validate it). But stats can be cheated to reflect what the provider wants you to see.

There's two ways I can get stats out of this blog :
The Sitemeter hit counter where readers can see the number but not the info
The Google stats screen which only a blog owner can see

They both read different info too. The sitemeter counter only works off the main template and doesn't work on the mobile template. I could probably fix that but I'm happy with the default mobile template the way it is. It's clean, quick to load and doesn't soak up any more of precious mobile data than it should. It also misses other hits, I suspect due to No-Script additions to browsers. (No-Script mods are intended to prevent adverts loading as well as stopping nasties)

The Google one just flat out lies ... lol. It doesn't admit to the hits that it doesn't think you should know about. Sitemeter is showing 5 hits this morning of which Google shows none. 2 of those are people hitting "Next Blog" (hi and welcome!), 3 are from the Googlebot. Google is showing 3, 2 of which are from that mobile template which Sitemeter can't see.

The sitemeter one also provides more detailed info going back the last 100 hits, the Google one doesn't give anything significant outside of browser, platform and which page got looked at.

The lesson ?

When you get presented with stats, don't necessarily trust what they're telling you. Ask questions about the source of the data and what the presenter is trying to tell you. If you see stats on the news, Don't Trust Them ! Our news agencies believe they can run our lives and one of their weapons is twisted statistics.

(aside - if you get bored easily by stats, skip to the end now !)

And here I go presenting statistics ... I can't get 'em out of Sitemeter but Google gives some interesting info over the "lifetime" (actually May 2009 to now) it's been grabbing info :

38% of my visitors are from the UK, which makes perfect sense as that's where I live
29% come from the USA, home of blogging
And the next highest is Russia with 7% with the rest being fairly split

Browser choice shows a trend to do with how I work but also something encouraging for the general enlightenment of the internet :

40% over the lifetime use Internet Explorer (we're forced to use this at work)
33% are more enlightened and are using Firefox
Next highest is Chrome with 11% and curious to see is 298 (2%) hits from Android and 304 from Mobile Safari. That just happens to be what my phone uses and I suspect at least 290 of those hits are mine - lol.

When you go more recent and just look at the last month, Firefox wins with 29%, IE is second with 22% and newcomers Safari and Chrome in there with 18% and 17%. Browsers are getting more diverse these days, which can never be a bad thing.

Same with the platforms used to browse the web :

78% over the lifetime use Windows, with 7% using Macs. And there I am with my 298ish Android hits too :-)
Going more recent and you see that Windows share drop to 60% (all those desktops) and the iPhone share rise from 4% to 16% and my Android share going from 2% to 10%. Macs stay where they are at 6% and Linux is somewhat forgotten at 5%.

I think that shows the rise of the smartphone, with iPhones being a seriously cool (and popular) device.

Ok, that's enough of boring number stats for now and where they come from. What's the presenter trying to tell you ?

I love seeing the hits come in. It means people are for some reason coming back for even more of those Wall Of Texts (and I've gone above my length limit here ...). It hopefully shows that people are interested in what I ramble on about. It shows they care.

And that last bit is pretty darn awesome :-)

PS Ask questions, send comments, gis a subject to ramble on about :-)

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Still a youth ... official !

Ok, so I broke the cabin fever by having a wander around the centre of Bristol for a while today.

It really was too much of a good day to spend it cooped up inside again. At least it was too sunshiney out there ... I must have timed it perfectly as another in a series of short but intense storms was just starting up as I was getting back (to find my parking spot had been borrowed yet again).

I don't tend to buy much these days when I have a wander and there's a few reasons for that :

I have what I want already. That sounds like I buy lots of stuff doesn't it ... But it's more down to me hoovering up all the stuff I'm interested in quite quickly and being quite restrained on the other stuff. Like I already have pretty much everything Alisha's Attic, The Cardigans and a few others like Snow Patrol have come out with. My dvd/bluray collection is wanting me to buy it more shelves.

I'm also reasonably disciplined on resisting "want" in favour of keeping it to "need". Like resisting buying a new bat because while I "want" one, I don't actually know what I "need" plus my last but one bat was still going strong. And while I "wanted" cookies, they stayed on the Millies counter.

Stuff I want isn't available. I'm missing an Edie Brickell album but can't get it because it's simply not available over here. I couldn't even buy it on mp3 from Amazon US. I have seen it in the shops but £15 is an offensive price to ask for a cd, import or no. Pink Hats and other pink gear falls into that as well. It's simply not available, even online.

Prices are too high. I'm in a sound financial position (more money is always good but the only debts I have are house and car) but I flat refuse to pay more than I think something is worth.

So £15 (or more) for a bluray movie is not going to happen. Book prices are also excessive these days. Although the value or worth of something radically changes if I was buying an item I know someone else would enjoy too. Smiles are priceless.

Clothes and outfit shopping is something I really should be doing. However, I suspect I may have to recruit someone to drag me round clothes shops in order for me to actually buy new stuff. (There'd be coffee, lunch or dinner in it !)

But that doesn't stop me having a leisurely wander around.

Good day for it today too. Bright sunshine, not too hot, air as clean and fresh as it gets in a city centre. And legs that are (mostly) happy for me to be doing that walking round.

(The mostly comes from the old hip injury that interferes slightly with my walking but it isn't one of the muscle groups that's needed for running so it shouldn't interfere with the cricket)

I did manage to buy a couple of things too. I've needed a new sleeveless jumper for cricket for a while now. Picked one of those up. I could do with getting another sleevey jumper too for really cold nights. I don't tend to wear jumpers while fielding because I'm hot stuff on a cricket field. (Enthusiasm more than skill but it does make me very warm and I overheat easily).

Also acquired new spikes. With legs like mine, you need spiked shoes to let you put all the power through to the ground. Because I play evening cricket, the dew starts to come through mid game making the ground greasy. With flat rubber shoes, your feet slip around like crazy which quickly leads to pulled muscles. Spikes give the grip needed to put in power sprints.

I left the bats where they were though. I need to have a practice session to remember what I need in a bat (after the disaster bat buy a couple of years ago). But that sleeveless top is a good sign.

"Medium" size = tent.
"Youth" size = just about right.

Youth being 32 to 34inch chest and Medium being 38 to 40. Yep. Still officially a youth according to chest size. Happy with that, especially as it seems I've gone down a size with the diet judging on how my shirt collars fit better these days :-). My whites are still a tight fit though but that's because I have chunky legs.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Cabin fever

I think the cabin fever and restlessness is starting to strike ...

I have been outside the house - and for more than just putting the bin out (that'll be tonight's job). Truth is that the outside the house was to pick up more margarine today, which was my flimsy excuse for raiding the local shop for cut price Easter eggs.

I now have enough Mini Eggs to quite possibly last me until next year.

Actually, I think I may keep them in reserve for cricket in the summer. Cricket's a game of two halves :
(one I prepared earlier, I have it hanging on my wall)

Depending on what order we do stuff in, I usually have a chance to lounge around for a bit between innings. That's either after I've batted or before I go in. But it's not just lounging, it's topping up like what tennis players will do between games. I usually take a bottle or two of water with me, plus something high energy to munch on.

Bananas would be awesome for that, I hear that they are amazing for being quickly digestable to get that energy into the system. So they'd be ideal for putting in the cricket bag for a crafty gobble between innings. Just one slight problem - bananas. Can't stand 'em. Oh well. And that goes beyond the usual "healthy stuff detected" aversions.

Mini Eggs may actually fit the bill quite well, as the colourings in the shells activate my hyperactivity. Worth a shot at least.

I'm also getting my mind right in that gap. It's nigh on impossible to concentrate on anything for (theory says) more than 45 minutes at a time. That's why school lessons are timed for about that long. Kids lose concentration, mayhem ensues. Cricketers develop a skill where they can switch on or off in a heartbeat. I do it when I'm batting, with the concentration reserved for when the bowler's about to fling the ball down at me.

But hey - that's enough about the cricket.

Yep. The cabin fever's kicking in somewhat. I just like being around people. Definitely missing a few people. A great picture memory is no substitute for actually seeing someone smile. And one reason for that is that if someone smiles at you, it's usually in response to something. It's an awesome feeling knowing that you've made someone smile.

Facebook has that with the "like" button, where you can't really add something in the form of words in a comment but want to show you really appreciated a post. Blogger doesn't really have that (although that G+ button might be it) and it's another one where you'd struggle to think of an appropriate /grin comment with more characters than just "lol".

But we do have hit counters ... There's actually two on this blog and I'll natter about those sometime in the future (it'll be called "Lies, Damned Lies and Stats" because each counter reports differently). Every time I see a familiar signature come in from one of those hits, it's saying someone's come back to check up to see how I'm doing. Be that if it's a signature from work, certain ISPs or other patterns. Recognising the hits is as good as seeing a "+1" or a "/like" on Facebook.

And it makes my day to see certain signatures appear :-)

Monday, April 09, 2012

Easter Bunny



Still happy with the diet actually (it has a minimal amount of bunny). I've been going between 13st dead and 13st 2 over the past few days. So despite (or perhaps being able to) doing a bit of the snacking again, I've maintained or lost a little. That 13st is actually one of my target weights but for a different shape than I am now :

Target 11 st - for my current upper body strength
Target 13 st - for a stronger upper body
Actually, 11st would probably be a little too light with my legs, they're already losing a bit of their mass. Still, those power legs are still conditioned for me being a stone heavier than I now am which means happy days as I'm more nimble than I've been for ages. And they're behaving themselves too, with much less tendency to cramp than I had a couple of months ago so my minerals are more in balance.

Yep - happy with how that diet's going at the moment. I don't think I'll ever go back to a washboard stomach* but this diet is all about keeping the discipline together on trying to settle into a new pattern of munching centred around "only eat while hungry". With Easter Eggs, I used to just demolish them immediately. Now I'm gobbling up a third or a quarter and then putting it back in the fridge for later. Progress !

*Washboard stomach - last time I had one of these was at uni. I'd been living off campus, biking in every day. By the time nets started up for cricket, I actually had stomach muscles. I'd never had them before ! So there I go into bowling practice, first ball goes down and those stomach muscles start firing ... At random. Like totally uncontrollable and the ball was going Everywhere :-).

I figured it out after a few sessions but didn't get the chance to try it in a match that year as that was the year when I killed my shoulder. The injury I got seemed minor at the time but 3 weeks later I found out I'd actually dislocated it (I don't feel pain right, so the signals I had only came when I tried picking things up with my right arm) and after half a season of cricket I found I had a torn rotator cuff. I shrugged, thought that doesn't mean much but then saw some baseball commentary where a pitcher with the same injury was scrubbed for 18 months, if he could come back at all.


And it was the end of me playing cricket at uni (except for a staff vs students game where I kept wicket and dislocated both thumbs temporarily). After that, cricket opportunities were hard to come by as I was bouncing around the country on different placements for a couple of years. But I did get the chance to earn another trophy (actually a picture) with a team in Farnborough who I pushed from perennial 3rd/4th to winning their cup.

And I've Wall Of Texted again on something completely unrelated to the original theme.

Supply shopping soon - spookily around the time when the Easter eggs are reduced to clear. I'll have to go in to pick up more Flora and bear absolutely no responsibility for any Easter eggs that may escape the shop in my bags ...

Sunday, April 08, 2012

Mad Scientist and the Hoplite

As part of my daily hunt around various news sites, spotted this one again from Tomshardware :

DIY Sentry Gun Blasts Intruders with Paintballs.

Putting aside the question of how much you'd get sued if you had something like this ... What would a Mad Scientist software/computer/electronic engineer do for putting one of these together ? Let's call the Sleepypete system Hoplite (no trademark infringement intended, no way am I likely to sell this !) after the Phalanx gun that's used on ships.

You've got a few things to include :

Turret and gun
Control mechanics
Targeting system

For something like this, it's always best to follow a thread through logically. Like : Target -> Aim -> FIRE. So let's start with that targeting system. They use a webcam on that site but that's got a few shortcomings (like no night vision). So what does Hoplite need :

Webcam - aye. It's simple, cheap and interfaces well. Hook it up to image processing software to detect differences between reference pic and "what's there now" pic (trees don't move, so that's your reference). You'd want a fixed camera to designate targets (what to shoot at) and I'd look for a camera that moves with the gun to allow for aiming.

But I'd also want to have a thermal imager going for night time. A thermal imager is actually easier to get targeting info from too, just aim for the centre of the Warm Blob. But ... you have to do that motion detect thing again so you don't have false positives from the sun warming stuff or people tricking the system with flares.

There should also be a lockout so that if the turret is pointing at something in the reference, it shouldn't paint your tree.

Hoplite Control mechanics - this is the fun part.

The key reason why I went into Electronic & Electrical Engineering is because I was predicting that the influence on electronics on what we use was increasing daily. Silicon chips are everywhere. Every button you press is likely to have software triggering off behind it. My first car had barely any transistors in it, my latest car is wholly software driven even down to drive-by-wire pedals. And the thing that links software to the bits that move is the electronic engineering.

They use a laptop for control in that link, which is fair enough. You could also use the laptop as a display for CCTV, plus software on it provides the brain. What's the brain need to do ?

Lead the target - this is aiming in the right place to tag 'em when they run
Let you control and monitor stuff
Set the rules for how ruthless it is

The control is the most interesting bit and it's where the geeky people can really come out to play. The trick is to start simple and then add the clever bits. That's called Integration Engineering. Start with something that forms a foundation and make sure that works. If you start at a more ambitious level, then if you have a problem you have to go back to that simple foundation anyway to figure out what the problem is. Engineering is all about taking a concept and taking away everything that doesn't matter until you have something clean, efficient and elegant.

And there's all sorts of really complicated control theory behind that foundation. Let's just say it's dead simple to make something point roughly where you intend it to but it's much tougher to tune a negative feedback control system to make it point precisely where you want while still following things that move.

They do a pretty decent job on the one in the video, the ballistics look good and most of the time it's pointing in the right direction. It does jump off beam occasionally though (a control system issue that should have it stop firing when it jumps) and there seems to be a little stickiness.

Hoplite turret system :

This is where I might need a little help as I'm very rusty on the mechanical side of things. You'd want :
Access to reload the system
Mounting sturdy enough to manage the rifle and recoil, plus cameras
Reliable motors to steer the turret (2 axis rotate + tilt would cover it)

It's one thing to do the geeky thing and cobble something together that does a job. It's another thing entirely to engineer something solid that you can put outside and forget about until you hear that "Rat-Tat-Tat- OUCH" of a gotcha.

PS Just need a suitable location to put a Hoplite, this place is too small.

Saturday, April 07, 2012

Hiding behind the sofa


In the tradition started by Daleks*, I'm considering hiding behind the sofa while watching the delayed coverage of the cricket.

*(incidentally, this post has made my car the top result for a non-box shaped vehicle on google searches for "tardis blue", although it has slipped down the page a little)

I've really enjoyed having the chance to chill out over the last couple of days. Definitely needed it. But cricket can be a far more tense game to watch than most people appreciate.

In football or rugby if the other team scores, it's not something irrevocable. Your side can march up the other side of the pitch and even it out. Not so in cricket, with every ball something can happen. And if it's your side that's lost a wicket, that's not something that can be got back in the game. If it's your star player, that's it for him.

Even at a target of under 100 and a decent batting side, it's not a dead cert that England will win. (They may have got the result by now but I'm 3 hours behind live). England have been rediscovering that talent for clutching defeat from the jaws of victory. Hell, I've been solely responsible for smashing through a tail and turning results around inside one over so I've seen it happen on a few occasions. Not any more though because my shoulder is too weak.

Or is it ... A little bit of shadow bowling, turning my arm over at about 60%, suggested that the mechanical hitch that destroyed my bowling action may have gone away ... Promising. But I need to bowl with a cricket ball to see what I might have available. I had lots of options with my bowling :

Long run or short run - I preferred bowling off the long run as it was less strain on the shoulder (and this was before I bust it). But the long run meant I had too much momentum to control more than just a couple of variations.

Short run - I could bowl every variation of finger spin (badly!) and even a bit of wristspin. Wrist spin is supposed to be legspin but mine always came in to the right hander instead of going away like they were supposed to. But yeah, if I bowled spin in a match I had huge variation to choose from, every ball in the over could be different and not just spin variation. I even had a doosra that was the only thing I could bowl for a while, never a carom ball though. But I had to put so much effort in I couldn't sustain it for long.

Long run - your momentum supplies the effort
Short run - your arm is sole source of the effort

And the longer run was far more effective anyway. Can't argue with figures like 10 overs for 9 runs (1 wicket but it was sooo tight I remember it), 9.4 overs for 6 wickets to win a game by 6 runs taking 3 wickets in my last over or what I did in my first game for the men's team : 4 overs 9 runs 4 wickets to win a game.

Good times. Definitely good times. I won the bowling trophy that year, getting more wickets than anyone else even though I played just 3 quarters of the season and hurt my back with several games to go. And my efforts helped push us towards runners up spot in the league that year. Batting is my strength now but I've never won a game with my own efforts with the bat. Saved them yeah (highlight being the second game I got hit on the head) but not been the star.

Yes - I've substituted "laptop and blogging" for "sofa" for my thing to hide behind. Cook and Trott are batting well at the moment but Strauss let it slip about 1 ball before I started writing this post.

What else ?

Mirror Mirror is a seriously cool film. By the power of late text messages, I ended up rapidly getting ready to sprint to the Mall on Thursday evening to meet up with Craziequeen, where I had my second pizza in 2 days (don't look at me like that ! The scales still say I'm SlinkyPete :-) ) before going on to watch a bit of magic. Let's just say there will be 2 copies of Mirror Mirror being bought by the Crazies who went to see this one. It's not the best film out there but it's huge fun and entertaining. Hopefully Hunger Games is as good, although that'll be an entirely different film.

Meh - Trott's gone, which has evaporated a bit of superstition from the other day.

And with that, it's about time to properly retreat behind that sofa before the cricket gets reaaaally tense.

But not before wishing my neighbour Cyberkitten a happy birthday :-)

Thursday, April 05, 2012

Summer music (yes it is this time!)

Right - the delayed cricket has hit that point where I've switched to half watching it (despite Pietersen getting in and looking to dominate) although I am quite happily chortling away at the commentary. Beefy and Greiggy are on form having fun with Lamby "that crab was bigger than 'im !!!"

And since I've started this post, soporific cricket in the morning has turned into BOOMBOOMKP cricket :-) Ball's flying everywhere and the crowd are donning the hard hats.

That's enough of the Boys of Summer, on with the music (that's Don Henley's signature tune by the way)

Letting myself switch off from work over the next week or so makes it feel like a Brand New Day (Lisa Miskovsky). She's got a fantastic voice but is let down a little by the songwriting being a little generic. Still, with a voice like that, she can Sing To Me any time. (And it's in a range I can mostly sing along to!)

How's the Weather With You (Crowded House and still a favourite) around the world at the moment ? After our summer last week, it's back to dark skies here and snow in Scotland. America has tornados.

I'm not so sure that we're moving to a Warmer Climate (Snow Patrol), just a more energetic one. The winters are still cold, the summers aren't hotter than I can remember from baking all day on a cricket field. But the storms are definitely more intense.

The clocks changed here very recently and one thing that guarantees is Here Comes The Sun (George Harrison). You can't help but raise a smile at "Here comes the sun, it's allllright".

Still grey skies at the moment here but I'm hoping Mr Blue Sky (sung by Lily Allen there) comes out again soon. I have a back that would really appreciate me lying on the bed with a book, getting a baking from warm sun through the window.

Yep, Sunshine After The Rain (Elkie Brooks) would be good. Although a drought threatened England could do with at least some rain to make sure those cricket pitches are good for the summer.

And if the sun's out, then it's far easier to Rise And Shine (early happy Cardigans).

Here's to some Good Times (Edie Brickell) this summer and hoping my legs let me pull out the Moves Like Jagger (Maroon5) on the cricket field. Ok, maybe not the dancing but fast feet are a real blessing in cricket.

Wednesday, April 04, 2012

Anyone got the number of that truck ?

Crikey I must have been tired.

Can barely keep the eyes open at the moment, although I know that if I went to bed right now I'd not likely get to sleep anyway. Not a good idea to do that right now anyway cos :

6.45pm - finished up at work for the Easter break
(problems at the contractors meant something I needed to do Stuff didn't arrive until late)
Off to Dominos to pick up essentials,
Pizza + movie + popcorn

So I'm full of pizza and popcorn at the moment, which is why I need to stay up for another couple of hours (actually another hour now with the amount of time spent on this post!). Bed on full tummy is not a good idea (figuring that is one reason why the diet is going well !)

The movie was Book Of Eli. It's a post apocalyptic movie starring Denzil Washington. It's a star performance too. Well worth catching if you've not seen it.

I'm kinda surprised at how big the movie collection has got now. I've been collecting since I added a dvd player to my PC in 1998, so you can probably imagine how many I have cluttering up the bookshelves. Curious to know how long it would take to watch them all. There's no easy way to count like in iTunes (5412 songs, 14.9 days to listen to them all).

Wonder how long it would actually take for someone to go through my movie collection. Any volunteers ? I have popcorn ...

I also appear to have picked up 12 cupcakes and all sorts of other stuff due to going shopping yesterday while hungry. Multibuy offers can be insanely dangerous.

Really tired right now though. I can keep myself going through just sheer bloodymindedness. I've been hyperactive at work (with the cost of missing some attention to detail) but flaking out at home due to running on empty. I'm close to flaking out now but that's because I know I don't have to get my brain active tomorrow morning. It'll be bed until I get bored of trying to sleep (not been sleeping well lately), followed by falling asleep in front of as-live cricket on telly.

It probably shows how tired I am right now by how disconnected this post is ?

Definitely looking forward to regenerating some energy over this next week. It won't take me long either until I'm bored of my own company. I like being around people, even if I have some difficulty in overcoming the isolation. I'll definitely miss :

Real Boss - cos I pick up on his professionalism, which sparks off mine too. We both like to get stuff done and we like to get it done right. We do have trouble communicating sometimes though as we have to translate into each other's mindset. He's orthodox chaotic, I'm unorthodox order and we both OCD. Spot the clash potential ! :-)

The Boss - been leaning on her empathy lately more than she's been leaning on my tech skills. And I think she has a secret plan to spoil me with Creme Eggs.

My Scottish Go To Girl - she's my counterpart in the Scotland office. We both try and keep up with what our bosses are up to and manage to anticipate their need for info by staying a step or two ahead. We compare notes and keep each other laughing. Can't do much in this world without information and me and the Go To Girl conspire to get the right info out there.

Canteen Mob - I get the feeling these girls are getting near the end of their tether with management interference but they still manage the playfulness when they're dealing with the lunchtime queue.

The Old Team - it's a little sad how I'm more connected with the team I used to be a part of before migrating into Requirements than I am with the team we got parachuted into. I still go round there a fair bit cos that's where the milk is and cos of project-y liaison Stuff. I'm a central point for info and process because I've been there so long I Know Too Much.

And lastly but most of all -

The Snow Queen ! Cos she's a legend and one of very few people who can follow me when my brain starts flying off at tangents. And because the reward for succeeding with the "must make Snow Queen laugh" quest is an ear to ear angelic smile breaking out beneath eyes whos sparkle promises devilry and mischief.

PS Cricket on telly tomorrow means I'll hopefully be in the right frame of mind to do that Summer Music post :-)

Tuesday, April 03, 2012

Almost holiday time

Feeling much better today and that has to do with a few things :

An absolute darling of a little lady who spotted last night's post and immediately popped up on Facebook chat to cheer me up,
Cake ! today,
Getting stuff done - I'm almost clear on stuff that Has to be done before the break,
Feeling good - apart from the old groin tear I'm in good shape.

I think I'm struggling mentally due to tiredness but I've also been reliving and remembering stuff that's caused me a fair bit of emotional trauma in the past. I'd forgotten or did selective amnesia on how unpleasant my last major break up got. I reread one or two of the old emails today and they are scary ...

Not really scary for the content, that's quite tame. It's just the mindset behind the communications. I must have been incredibly angry to go that deep into cold anger. That's like going straight past my hot passion anger stage and into a cold steel anger. I really don't want to be in a place like that again. And the reasons for that anger won't be getting put here, it's history and should really stay there although I will say that circumstances justified it ...

It's not just the relationship stuff I've been remembering though, there's been other reminders lately too. Some things can catch me unawares, something someone said last week just made my legs go out from underneath me like a ghost from the past tripping me up. Saying that though, I've been feeling lately that some of the armour I've been wearing for the past 20+ years is fading away. I don't think I need it any more. But as part of getting rid of the armour, I'm remembering and reliving the reasons why it's there.

To happier times. And those start from being able to talk through your problems with people you trust.

Problems shared always seem easier. It gives a chance to think through your ideas and plans with someone who can give you an honest opinion on whether they're sensible or wishful thinking. (I indulge in the wishful thinking a bit too much I think!)

I'm doing it again aren't I ? Starting with one theme, Wall Of Texting on another. Holiday plans :

Chilling out as much as possible :-)
Fixing that darn loo - need to get compatible bits and if my arms are up to the heavy lifting :-)
Getting the car serviced - been procrastinating again ...
Investigating getting a washing machine
Tidying the house up
Giving someone a chance to escape into joining the chill out ?

I was doing ok there until the wishful thinking hit on the last one :-)

I have a few domesticy things to sort out - the loo has been the longest running one. But I also need to replace a couple of things in the kitchen. The hot water tap has stiffened up and needs a towel to turn it off. The washing machine works but I'm not convinced it's all that effective. And while I'm doing that hot tap, I might as well be replacing the sink.

This house has done pretty good :-) There's been a minimal amount of maintenance needed on it over the years. Just things like a boiler thermocouple, ballcock adjustment, minor stuff. It's the surroundings that drag it down, I live very close to a collection of shops and the people in those use our road as their car park. The neighbour that isn't CK also causes his own problems. I have to borrow CK's drive far too often these days because of lack of consideration from the non-residents and no51, makes me feel bad.

One day to go until chillout - and there's going to be pizza when I escape too :-)

Monday, April 02, 2012

Bad news for Bear

There's a thing about certain bad news. No matter how much you know the near 100% possibility of certain things happening, there's no real preparation for when it does occur.

That feeling's hit again today. I think it's due to feelings of being powerless. Some things you just cannot change or influence in any way. You know something bad's going to happen but nothing you can do can change the outcome.

That's a huge reason why I went into engineering as a career choice rather than medicine like the other half of the family. Doesn't really matter if a machine breaks, just make or get a new one. Losing people though would be too much to bear. Hence doing stuff with machines rather than people.

That's a side of me that I don't believe comes out too much. I can be hyperactive on the outside but crying on the inside. And sometimes I'll need to get that hyperactive mindset going or I'll cave. But ... I'll only show negative emotions to very few people. Like - count them on one hand.

I suspect that's the big reason why I feel isolated, because people don't see me express the negative emotions, they don't think I have the big emotions.

It's not just that facing up to inevitability of Bad Things Bound To Happen, it's seeing people who you care about in great pain because of what is happening to them. And not being allowed to help. It's that feeling of isolation again, where I feel the shutters going up when I offer help. Maybe I just need to figure out a better way of offering the help. Perhaps the shutters go up because they want to shield me from the pain. I can recognise that from when I've dealt with that pain in the past. I didn't want to inflict people with it at the time either.

I just like to help people in any way I can ... And get frustrated when I'm denied the chance.

I'm rambling again. Or maybe I just need the chance to talk things through with a person or people I trut utterly. There aren't many of those and I rarely get the chance to talk in situations where I'm not inhibited. I'll not talk deep stuff in the office because I simply don't trust a lot of the people there. You're not just talking with one person, you're talking to the whole office.

Still - the coping mechanism worked quite well today. I had trouble concentrating on Intended Monday Job (writing minutes) because my thoughts were at several different elsewheres but did manage to get a different one (Plz Can I Haz Money?) completed. I suspect having to run around various people's desks is why I got the second one done, it kept me interacting with people.

Perhaps the news hit me harder than it should have done. But I do know two things :

Pink Hat Project suddenly got a lot more poignant,
I could really do with talking to someone* about Life, The Universe and Everything.

(*I guess that's why shrinks and bartenders are so popular)

Two working days to go until much needed Holiday, unless cakes are delayed until Thursday. Yes. The cakes are that good. I'd delay the start of my leave for them.

Sunday, April 01, 2012

Gun for hire

I'm sure even the non gamer people might have heard recently about a game called Mass Effect ... It's been hitting the headlines for a few reasons :

It was the first Headline sign that the Game group of shops were going under,
The day 0 DLC that was included on the dvd
Nerd Rage is rampant over the endings
And there's the online campaign to get those endings changed ...

I've just finished the last in the trilogy now so I now know what they meant by those endings.

As a purist gamer and avid viewer of scifi on the telly, I really don't have a problem with the general theme behind the ending I chose. The very worst thing with episodic scifi, which the Mass Effect series definitely counts as, is where the story is left hanging. B5 Crusade was just getting interesting when it got cut off in its prime. Serenity didn't really close out the Firefly arcs. Star Trek (original timeline) left it hanging too. The Star Wars Yuuzhan Vong (New Jedi Order) books just kept digging a deeper and deeper hole for itself.

I much prefer definitive finishes to my scifi.

Blakes 7 definitely did it that way and it left it open to the imagination too. What precisely did happen when the screen went dark and Avon started his maniacal laugh ? There was a book to follow up but the book was rather pants. Farscape ended itself well, eventually.

And Mass Effect does that well too, in my opinion.

The first game set the scene and opened up a wonderful universe with great colour and contrast between its inhabitants. It was a gritty, real universe where possibilities abounded. The second heightened that, showing the darker side. And the third takes it to an apocalyptic conclusion. The ending is fitting and final, as it should be.

As a game though, the third falls a little short. The second is different to the first and improves upon the first in almost every way. The only area where ME2 fell short is that it is more linear with less potential for free roaming, the compensation being far more variation in the scripted areas. ME3 takes the base ME2 game and removes the annoying mining minigame. However, it also has less attention to detail in some key areas like the quest log. That used to update according to the status of quests, that's got broken. It's ME2.1, rather than ME1 done better.

But ... the whole charm of the Mass Effect universe is that your choices in previous games come back to either haunt or hug you. Every choice matters and there are lot of awesome nods going back to what came before. Save the rachni, there's a mission to come later. I'm curious now as to what would happen if you didn't save them, as there's a powerful enemy artillery type unit that starts as rachni.

Will I play ME3 again any time soon ? I don't think so. While I went through Deus Ex HR 4 times in a row and was happily addicted to ME1 and ME2 in their time, that addiction has broken with ME3. I think it's more grindy than the previous games. Almost like there's a lot of padding in there to make the game longer with artificial content. Except it's still quite varied. It just felt grindy at the time. (That could be me getting jaded on gaming in general).

If you're a gamer and haven't tried out the Mass Effect series, give it a go. It's a highly impressive blend of first person shooter and role playing game. It has the trademark Bioware story quality as well.

But ... my last memory of the game for a while will be the ending (not giving spoilers here) followed by a popup saying "You can continue the Mass Effect series through DLC and expansions". WTF ! And you'll need to know those spoiler endings to know where that WTF comes from.

It's really sad that the last impression and therefore the lasting impression from this epic series is EA looking to fleece the customer for more money from DLC. The ending was fine but that ending message left a very sour taste.

At least the Deus Ex Human Revolution people resisted it with their game, except with an Easter Egg type nod to Deus Ex. (Deus Ex HR = 3rd game, set 20ish years before Deus Ex = 1st game). And that's where I'm likely to be headed next for my next gaming fix, although there are those pesky dragons menacing Skyrim ...