Monday, December 31, 2012

New Year, New Fortunes ?

It's almost here - the year that the doomsayers and believers in daft superstition* didn't think would come ...

That's right - 2013 is just around the corner, or ... for those of you reading where it's already gone after midnight :

Happy New Year !

*(not all superstition is daft, I have lots of them for cricket. Oh wait, those superstitions are daft too)

I'm hoping that next year is going to be better :

Dryer - we lost a huge amount of cricket this year
Less leaky - I think there's been progress this week with that darn skin condition
Less alone - goes without saying ;-)
Freer - that skin condition again putting limits on what I do
Musical - I still have lots of music to listen to, hopefully I'll keep finding new stuff
New - I get bored very quickly when I fall into routine

The skin thing does seem to be improving, now that I'm back in my own conditions. They're not perfect. On the upside, the skin seems to be improving. On the downside, I get watery eyes. Perhaps I should be using that vacuum cleaner some more ;-). What is happening is that while I'm focusing just on me, I'm avoiding spending the cash. I have a few techie targets, all of which either need me to be in or need me to go fetch them :

Switching to an iPhone - I'm after a 64GB iPhone but don't want to pay £269 plus contract for the privilege of having an iPhone 5. 3-Mobile have 64GB iPhone 4s's on their website but they're "out of stock". I suspect they shouldn't be listed.

Steering Wheel - looks like this will need to be a mail order thing as the local shops (including Novatech) don't want to sell me one. Which needs me being in to accept delivery. There is an option near Coventry (for a pickup on the way past as I go to the parents place) but they're asking for more money to pick up in store than it would be to deliver, which is f**k*ng crazy.

(I don't swear much on here cos I keep it in reserve for when it's really meant - so many people swear as a matter of course, where do they go when they need to emphasize ?)

Powerline networking - I was hoping these would come on sale so I can network my AV kit. To be honest, I've not looked. Perhaps a sale run on Wednesday on my last day of leave before heading back to work. Also, one of the drivers was the interruptions I was getting to my audio streaming. That's not happened since I stealthed the wifi.

However, when you look at it how many of the above are truly essential ? To be honest, none. Although my Android phone is becoming an embarassment.

Any New Year's Resolutions ?

One but it refers to gaming ... I have a huge collection of games now. It's grown over this last few months due to sales. The resolution will be to look again at those games and try to finish a few of them. Because I play the games to relax, I go back to the same ones over and over again. That means I don't have to think to work out how to beat the new game. But that does mean I don't get the value out of all the sales and all the impulse buys.

What games though ?

Currently it's XCom Enemy Unknown - the new one. It's not perfect, it has a bunch of bugs in it. But it definitely has potential as a game, even if it's not finished yet. That's a bit sad, because I'd be more curious about getting the downloadable content if the bugs were fixed. I've not seen many serious ones to be honest. I'm on the last mission now of a play through on "Normal" difficulty after "Classic" difficulty kicked my butt. I've reloaded a couple of times but that's it.

All of the XCom games (including the old ones) are games that run for a long time. That means if a soldier is injured in a battle, they may not be around for the next. If they die, you lose them forever. What happened in the Classic game is that I kept losing my best people, which makes the next missions harder and harder.

Next on the list is Fallout New Vegas, which SteamGirl got me for Xmas (in return for me getting her Mass Effect 2). I also have Borderlands 2, F1 2012, all the D&D games off GoG, Dungeons of Dredmor, Far Cry 3 and a few that I've had for longer (Rage, Torchlight & Torchlight 2, Machinarium and more). Oh and Alpha Centauri and HoMM3 are likely to get bought on GoG very soon ...

Must finish some of those games off :-)

I kinda miss the multiplayer ones. The interaction mainly if not the gameplay. WoW's gameplay was ok, what made me stick around in that one was the people. For so long it was the Mercs, until that guild collapsed in on itself (games can do strange things to people). And then it was Violence Reborn, although a lot of the originals stopped playing. (including the legendary Sandra!)

Wonder if Alex and DT still sing on Mumble ...

Talking of singing - I'm listening to Coexist, the latest album by The XX. There's no real standout tracks on there but it's a great chilled out listen. Definitely enjoying it.

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Back again

Hobbit tomorrow.

It's been a bit different this christmas ... Been off to the parents place for a few days so I've been a bit quiet. We don't do the presents thing any more for a few reasons :

It can be quite stressful finding That Right Present and ...
... We've usually bought what we wanted anyway.

(Unless it's me waiting for the right sale to come along).

It's been a bit weird too. We've all got health problems and those are all different. I'll only talk here about mine though. Some things stay on the other side of that privacy wall. Personally, I think I've learned another allergy but it could well be coincidence. I'm still not free of the need to gunk up yet. It seems like the damage repairs to like 90% healthy and then worsens again. I'll see what it's like over the next week with me back in my own patterns of treatment, eating and living.

What else ?

It has been really good to see the people again, although my temperament has been suffering from constant itchiness and the need to leave the itchiness alone lest I develop into Bad Stuff. Part of that temperament issue is needing to find someone I can trust to talk about the health problems mentioned above.

iPhone will be on the way soon :-) I've got sick of my Android phone being unreliable and Apple are apparently selling the iPhone 4s in 64GB again. My music library is now too big for a 32GB ... I'd like an iPhone 5 but the entry fee for one of those is £200 more. It's just a phone ...

How come that library has got so big ?

Lots of soundtracks ... Been collecting those lately. One thing about Good Old Games is that they throw in all sorts of stuff with the games they sell. Things like pdf's of the manuals, artwork and the soundtracks. Yep, these games are from the time when proper paper books came in the boxes. Yesterday saw a massive D&D game sale, which I just had to go for :

Baldur's Gate 1 + 2 - enjoyed but never finished
Icewind Dale 1 + 2 - never tried
Neverwinter Nights - played to death
Planescape Torment - never tried, has massive reputation
And a couple more fillers

All of the above have massive soundtracks for download. Now I just need to time to a) listen to the soundtracks and b) play through the games.

Steam's sale is going on still too - with a bit of gift giving happening there too. Steamgirl has helped keep me sane over the past year or so by making me laugh at stuff, she's a Mass Effect fan but didn't have the second game on PC, so a copy went her way for Xmas. In return, I'll be playing through Fallout New Vegas at some point :-).

Driving conditions have actually been ok, although Christmas Eve got a bit hairy at times with rain not clearing from the roads sufficiently.

Quite tired now though, so I'll leave it there.

Hope you had good Christmasses and I'll wish you a Happy New Year :-) May 2013 be better than 2012 ...

Friday, December 21, 2012

End of ... wait ... still here !

Today's been hugely hyped ...

Yes !

It's finally here !

Steam Winter Sale !

Wait - you were expecting something different weren't you ? Muahahaha. I think my wallet may have been safer if the end of the world had happened today.

That said though, there's huge numbers of weather warnings out for the UK for tomorrow. Good job I'm not travelling until Sunday then isn't it ? The weather warnings are for heaps of rain, which causes its own problems (there's a few potential flood zones to go through) but not nearly as many as snow does.

The whole country would literally ground to a halt if the snow came. It's not looking likely, temperatures are in that zone :
Cold enough to want to wear a jumper
Warm enough to make you warm in the jumper

I'm happily in a jumper at the moment, although I am having to watch out so I don't damage myself more. The skin thing is definitely improving ... but it's so incredibly easy to set back the healing and do more damage. But enough of that ...

Been chilling out this week. Been catching up on some of the recorded telly, although there's still enough recorded that I need to watch a little more to make room for Xmas telly. I'm surprised actually, all I'm recording over Xmas Day and Boxing Day is Strictly Come Dancing, Doctor Who and Full Metal Jousting repeats.

Still lots of music listening to do. I have the Puss In Boots soundtrack on at the moment and the album after that will be the excellently atmospheric soundtrack to Deus Ex Human Revolution. (Not forgetting Paramore's Brand New Eyes).

I've been watching a fair few of the Yogscast livestreams too. They've been raising money to send charity bees over to Africa. They're mixed, they can be hilarious but some of them are not worth watching at all. It's about playing games with commentary that amuses the audience, some of them just happen to be saying stuff as they bury themselves in the game. I can recognise that as I do it myself, when I'm tunnelled into WoW raiding (and this is one of the reasons I stopped) I'll tighten my focus such that everything outside of the raiding is tuned out.

Mall today - I'm not getting or giving that much in the way of presents these days (boo hiss) but I do still get the cards. So today was a quick trip to the Mall to get cards, have a bacon sarnie (and coffee!) and get stuck in the traffic.

Almost saw Hobbit - but that'll keep. It's going to be in the cinema for a little while and I'd much rather see it with friends than go on my own.

Not been playing that many games to be honest. Because my brain's been a bit fried, I've fallen back to the games I find more relaxing. I've worked out Moo2 and Settlers IV, I could play them in my sleep. I don't win all the time but that's partly due to randomness (Moo2) and the pooter messing up my plans (Settlers IV has many bugs). I still find them relaxing to play though.

However ... I still have a playthrough of the Mass Effect trilogy in the early stages plus a Deus Ex Human Revolution run going. But there's many more in the collection that I'd like to put a bit of time into : Far Cry 3, F1 2012, Torchlight & Torchlight II and a couple more ...

Trouble with the Steam sales is that they look incredibly tempting with their 75% off things ... But then after I get them, it'll get maybe 1 hour or 2 and that might be it. There is one common factor though - value.

I'm always very keenly aware of Value For Money. It's why I avoid the first person shooter online games, it's why I'm avoiding getting the latest WoW expansion. I'd love to get the game Spore ... but it's several years old and only has 50% off it's original price of £30. That's shockingly bad value for money. I'm tempted by Borderlands 2 but they've been pouring out downloadable content for that which I don't consider good value. To get the full game, you'd need to spend £50 (down to £35 with discount) with DLC.

That's very meh.

But - I will spend some cash in this Steam Sale period. I've already picked up Dungeons of Dredmor, which at under £2 is a fairly amusing little dungeon crawler. If you like the Munchkin card game, you'll like this one. I have Torchlight 2 in the cart ... and I'm hoping the older D&D games appear for cheaper than just 50% off in the GOG sale.

We shall see.

Just cos I'm not getting or receiving pressies doesn't mean I can't get myself some ?


PS Tonight's Yogscast livestream isn't being particularly good. I see more Dungeons of Dredmor in the very near future ...

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Squirrel !

Come to think of it, can't remember when I last had anything nutty ...

Monday, December 17, 2012

And relax ...

Started my winter break :-)

Really needed it. I could feel the energy reserves being at absolute minimum. Kinda like running past where the fumes ran out. That's the point where I have to watch what I'm doing quite carefully, or absent minded gaps and errors start appearing in what I do.

(if I miss ay n's out, it's cos this keyboard needs some attention!)

I've needed it for other reasons too. Like hopefully more progress with the skin thing.

It's getting better - honest :-) I'm closer and closer to getting back to that healthy pasty white shade of geek. I have to maintain the discipline though because interfering with the bad patches puts the healing back. The bad patches are steadily subsiding but I'm not completely free of the need to use the gunk yet. Not needing to get ready to go to work where I'm spending far too many hour sat in a chair is helping. And not because it means I can use that gunk when things get a little leaky.

Actually, gaming here is not exactly ideal. The sit&game posture puts the wrong kind of pressure on my bum, which is one of those bad patches. But - it is improving to the point where I'm actively thinking about preparations for next year's cricket. I'll need a couple of things ticked off there - can't wear a helmet right now because of my ears and I'll be looking to pick up something to protect my skin for when I'm diving around (which is likely to be a bad idea cos I'll probably cook with it on !)

I'm not going to be lounging around the house all day though. Will be raiding Tescos for shopping later. I'm down to just one apple, so I'm needing supplies. I suspect the Crazies will be heading off to see The Hobbit at some point this week too (cabin fever may see me heading off to the Mall for it myself!).

What have been up to so far ?

Lots of cricket watching. At least, that was the plan ... It's actually ended up in me fast forwarding through most of the play between India and England. One reason I like cricket is because it's a game where at any point, anything can happen. Batsmen will score, chances will happen, wickets will be taken. In a one-day game, even a ball with no score is an event. Game changing things will happen all the time.

At least, that's the plan. This latest game has been one of the worst games I can remember, nothing has been happening in this game of much consequence. This India vs England series will be remembered as 3 good games followed by one mindnumbingly tedious game. The kindest description would be "tortuous" and that's coming from a cricket nut.

There's also been :

Strictly Come Dancing semifinal. Been really enjoying it this year, it's the first year I've watched it all the way through instead of catching it when at my parents' place for the weekend. It's down to just 4 now, with Lisa Reilly being voted out over the weekend. She's an example for everyone to look up to, she's a big girl but oh so nimble. The show's been blessed this year with a lot of genuinely good dancers and Lisa's been no exception there.

Looking forward to the final :-) I'd like little Dani to win but I think it'll be Kimberley. Any of them really could win it.

Sports Personality. I occasionally watch this yearly event. Bradley Wiggins won it this year, which I'm ok with. He has a personality, whereas the previous winner Mark Cavendish ... doesn't.

Gaming :-) Yeah, it's a little unhealthy right now but there's a few different aspects of "Health" that need to be looked after. So while it's bad for my skin, going back to those familiar classic games gives my mind the relaxation it's needing right now. Over the weekend, it was Master of Orion 2 (Endless Space = bit naff) and last night I started off yet another run in Deus Ex Human Revolution. I'll have to try and resist the urge to do a Perfection run through DXHR, as that can take lots of time ...

I picked up Far Cry 3 as well and am very curious as to what will be in the Good Old Games and Steam Sales. The Steam sale hasn't started yet and I haven't seen anything I really want yet in the GOG sale. That may change if the D&D games appear for cheaper. That steering wheel has stayed unordered too, although if Xmas travel plans work out, there's a store near Coventry that's on my route ...

Music. It wouldn't be the same without me listening to a tonne of music. I still have over 400 tracks in the library (mostly soundtracks) that I haven't listened to yet. Next album up is from David Bowie with the one after that being the Red Sonja (classic film) soundtrack.

And I see that scroll bar getting to the point where it tells me I'm Wall Of Texting !

Time for a little bit more Deus Ex, followed by a run to Tescos. It should spookily be around the time for dinner and they've had a Dominos replace the Shiny Chippie that was there before. I won't be going to Tescos just yet - it's chucking it down out there ...

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Not a Christmas music post

Ok, by now you'll all be throwing things when you hear the jingling bells of Christmas music ?

I don't blame you. A lot of Xmas music starts well but gets corrupted by the latest person to try making a fast buck out of old classics.

However ... I do have some Xmas music in the library ... And those albums are awesome in their own ways. Hmm. This wasn't supposed to be an Xmas music post but I can't resist doing the old Youtube linky thing to :

Hey Santa ! By Hannah Peel. Sadly Youtube don't seem to have this one but it's on and Spotify.

Abba's Happy New Year. I heard someone in HMV tonight trying to sing along to this one. Hopefully I'm doing a better job at the moment ;-)

Think I've run out of the choice Xmas music there though. I have Xmas albums from Joan Baez and Elaine Paige which are both excellent to listen to. The Joan Baez album is very pure choral style, the Elaine Paige is more show style.

What else have I been listening to lately that has stuck in my head all day ?

Well - today it was the turn of Tracy Chapman's Material World. She's a great singer in her own way. She's different from the crowd, so she's not really mainstream like all the female singers who clone others. But - different is good. I only have her first album and Crossroads ... may have to pick up some more. Great voice, used very well.

At the moment, it's the Songs For Polarbears album by Snow Patrol. It's from their earlier days when they were still Indie/Alternative with interesting rough edges in their music. They've gone a mainstream (and boring) now though. My pick of this album is Fifteen Minutes Old. Not their best album, bit of quantity over quality.

Next album up (after a bunch of semi-random tracks) is the soundtrack to Indie Game The Movie. I've been picking up a lot of soundtracks lately. Some of them, like the FTL soundtrack, work really well as music to listen to. Others, like the Retro City Rampage soundtrack, are good as individual tracks but have you reaching for the Skip Track button when you have them coming through as an album. Hopefully Indie Game the Movie will work well as a soundtrack.

I listen to a bit of classical music too, last album/collection to go through was the Planets Suite by Holst. This one has been borrowed from hugely to donate music to pieces like the Rugby World Cup (World In Union is Jupiter with words I believe). There's also the unmistakeable Mars. Curious how the dead planet Mars got tagged as War, whereas the absolute hell which is Venus got tagged as Peace.

Talking of classical - what makes Christmas if not the annual Star Wars movie ? The soundtrack to Return of the Jedi got listened to earlier this week. Classic tunes.

But it tends to stay in the background. Unlike the enchanting Norah Jones, who's Feels Like Home got listened to at the weekend. Here's In The Morning, it's a track where I'm not sure I want to sing along to or if I should just listen to that voice. She's one of very few artists who I'll pay full price for getting albums more quickly (still not got the latest Garbage)

And there's more too. I loved River City People when I was at school but something turned me away from Texas (perhaps I thought that voice was being enhanced ...). Which is a shame, as I found out when I picked up their greatest hits album. I'm hoping for snow but I've been so cold lately that I'd welcome a bit of Summer Sun.

I think it's time to close up now. And after hearing Rythian and Zoey do a rendition of Baby It's Cold Outside, I feel the need to listen to the Tom Jones & Cerys Matthews version to banish it from memory ...

I hope you don't get inflicted with too much horrific music over the next month !

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

It's beginning to feel a lot like ...

It's effectively just 2 more working days until I start a fairly lengthy Xmas break :-)

Gosh - I need it. I've been hanging lately. It's been a rough year this year :

Lots of emotional turmoil (I pick up on what other people are feeling)
Stress upon stress at work (the prime reason for which is gone now)
This damn infection (so many "it's gone !!!" "and it's back")
A change of diet which went critically wrong
And lots more (getting older)

It's the infection that's really hit hard this year. While it subsided enough for it to be a bad idea for me to play cricket this summer (which I did anyway), it never really went away. Instead, it came back and very quickly became much worse than just dodgy skin on my legs. Couple that with confidence at an (almost!) all time low and you've got rough times.

I am a hell of a lot better than I was just a couple of months ago but ... it's draining. And it's having other effects associated with that Getting Older thing.

At this point, I should say - this has been a fairly (I've done longer) long day - up at 6.30am, driving 250 miles in the day in testing (ice and fog) conditions. Yes, I've done longer days and longer drives (Scotland trips started earlier and finished later) but - there's that Getting Older thing again.

Things have been improving :

Emotional turmoil - I've made my peace with this. And the reasons for it are not going to appear here ;-)
Stress at work - the main reason's gone :-) Still lots to do though and more responsibility over the next few months. Gonna be crazy when we come back in the New Year.
Infection - I think the infection has gone but it's taking a while to fix the damage
Diet - since I dropped the orange juice, I've noticed a bunch of symptoms go away. I need to kick the biscuit habit though or I'll not have my speed available come summer.
Getting older - my legs hate me. Cramps, twinges, bits that don't want to stay where they should be
(stop sniggering! - lol)

Instead of being over a fairly significant portion of me, the infection seems to be gone and the leftover damage is limited to only a few patches now. And those are getting smaller. I just need to keep up the discipline of not tearing at stuff that's itchy. Leaving it alone = healing. Tearing at it = sets the healing back.

No need to go back to the doctor's place right now, at least for the infection thing. Shoulder and hip might need attention though. One problem at a time. Hopefully over the Xmas break, the chilling out at home and other places will see some more of those leftover patches disappear.

Yeah - really looking forward to a few weeks of chilling out, punctuated by a few Xmas visits to family and friends that are now just like family.

2 more working days to go though. Tomorrow is half a day cos of work Xmas party (I don't think I'll blog that though) in the afternoon. Thursday will be a full day. Friday will be me escaping whenever I've cleared away all that needs to be done before I disappear.

However ! Today had definite compensations and boosts.

There's a stunningly beautiful woman who works at one of our other offices. Intelligent too. To have someone that beautiful favour you with a winning smile as soon as she spots you ? Makes me grin :-) Definitely. She's disappearing off to the USA for 3 years though to become a housewife (hubby gets a job but it's a waste of the brain she has)

Anyway - she let me know today :
a) surprise at hearing that I'd not been well this past year. I've been hiding the symptoms under sleeves and nervous hyperactivity while on duty visits. And the "Pete's the herald of the Zombie Apocalypse" thing erupted very quickly and the signs of it on my face disappeared fairly quickly too.
b) that I knew my stuff. That pulled out a "wow" from me, cos since jumping across into the new project I've been trying to keep up with all the stuff that's going on. It's quite a complicated project. It's not just "Deliver Something Big in a few years", it's "Deliver lots of stuff over X years". It's quite a long running project.

Always good when people who you barely know express confidence in your abilities. Funny - I think I have a better reputation with those who don't know me much than those who come into contact with me more.

Perhaps some of that propaganda I put out about myself is getting believed ... Most of the time when I give the impression of being Typical Geek-Around-House, I'm kidding to get chuckles. Or people are believing in a false impressions caused by when I'm kidding about stuff or it's junk being spread by other people.

It was pretty awesome though to have that confidence shown earlier. Gives me a big lift. Lots of people seem to think I do Stuff the Right Way. And that's very important to me.

It's been a rough year. But it's almost behind me now. 2013 will be a better one :-)

Thursday, December 06, 2012

Nutter on the Bus

I've been noticing something very alarming over the past couple of weeks.

To start with - have a peek at this bit of comedy gold from the one and only Jasper Carrott.

I've been getting that too. Although with me, it's when the bus is at that half full stage where all the rows of seats have 1 person in them. Nobody sits next to strangers on the bus if they can help it - all those elbows and things. What seems to be happening is that when there's no more empty rows, when the next young(ish) lady gets on the bus and looks for a seat she'll see the empty one next to me and make a beeline for it.

Don't get me wrong, I'm not complaining !

I'm just not used to it. Most of the women who know me seem to start running as soon as they see me nowadays. In the opposite direction. /sob. (lol)

I think they're seeing me as some kind of Anti Nutter. Like the logic is "let's sit by the smart looking guy in the suit instead of the hobo with the music blasting out of his ears".

Thankfully I get on the bus reasonably early so I can usually get a seat to my own, avoiding the nutters that we do get. There doesn't seem to be many of those, although there was Noisy Kiddie yesterday and Bad Taste Girls the day before.

I kinda like being the Anti Nutter, it's another sign that I'm looking better than just over a month ago when people would have pointed and shouted : "ZOMBIE". (Still not healed yet, still needing a bit of help from the gunk)

Here's more Carrott.

What am I up to at the moment ? Currently waiting for the Yogscast charity stream to start up again. The Yogscast are a group now (they've grown) of gamers who put out well made and quite entertaining content on Youtube. It's mostly Minecraft but they put in other games too. My favourite is Hannah aka Yogscast2 who was doing the stream last night.

What can I say ? At the moment I'm enjoying watching a slightly nutty but rather amusing bunch of people playing games more than I'm enjoying playing the games myself.

Oh and it's also a good excuse to keep trying to reduce the amount of unlistened to music I have in the library by errrrr .... listening to lots of music. Down to 489 tracks now (been adding a lot lately). Currently playing : soundtrack to the latest XCom game. Must play that one more ...

Tuesday, December 04, 2012

In training .... kinda

I caught myself today actively thinking of playing cricket again.

Now then. That's a sign of a step forward ...

Yes, I am getting to that age when "I'm getting too old for this" is definitely in mind when it comes to running around like a mad thing but - I like running round like a mad thing !

True - I'm not fixed yet but it definitely feels like it's getting closer. I'll be shivering away doing the full treatment thing tomorrow night but I've gotten away with only limited gunkings. I'm not quite there yet but my body seems to be closing in on being able to do its own healing now.

That tells me a few things :

The infection must be gone and it's down to repairs now
Discipline is good - half the reason it's taking so long to heal is that self inflicted wounds thing
Healthy eating is bad - or at least drinking healthy with the orange juice
You sleep heavier when you don't have to think of posture while asleep

Yep. Not fixed yet but instead of, to borrow a science fiction term, being at say 70% hull integrity I'm now up to 95% or better. Not 100% yet but the healed parts of my skin feel very smooth and it's been at least a month since I've felt that sandpaper texture on my hands at work.

At the moment, cricket is out of the question. Any little damage that happens isn't repairing too quick, although in general I'm heading back to that pasty white geek normal texture. With the commitment (translation - all enthusiasm, little skill) I put in on the cricket field, I wouldn't repair the damage I'd do to myself and would put the healing backwards.

But by the time summer comes along ? Hopefully I'll be back to full health by then with no more setbacks.

What will help me out considerably with the fitness is this car parking fiasco thing ...

Not taking the car in to work is irritating, sure. It means a lack of flexibility. Shopping is either heavily rationed (to fit in my bag) at the start of the week or it waits until Thursday when I have the boot of the car. It'll be Thursday this week, there's enough apples to last until then. That's weird innit ? Me having "No Apples Left = Shopping is Urgent" as a flag.

However. Taking the bus gets me using my legs a lot more. On the cricket field, my legs are my biggest asset (and possibly worst enemy too!). If I get my weight down again (it's gone up half a stone, which is still a stone less than when I started the diet) then those legs give me huge amounts of power and speed. I got used to being the quickest person on the team, which is why losing that speed due to being overweight got to me.

Where all the walking does me good is conditioning. Muscles like to do work. They get used to repetitions. More reps lead to being able to do even more reps. It makes for sturdiness and resistance to injury. One way my legs work against me is that small damage like a minicramp will hamper the whole leg. Conditioning is aimed at increasing the resistance to that damage.

The way I got the leg power I have was by doing a paper round. It was a free paper going to every house, so taking a bike would have been silly. I carried a big bag of newspapers around and walked as fast as possible. And I can walk darn quick. Those legs used to let me push start a car on my own (with someone in the driver's seat to do the necessary)

Hopefully the walks to the bus will get those legs back in shape. And maybe ... After a few weeks perhaps I should up the ante by putting weights into that bag ?

Picture Luke Skywalker with Yoda on his back.

Hey ! A mentor or someone to make getting into better shape worth it would be awesome too. Although they'll hopefully not be wrinkled, green or on a planet devoid of technology.

Cos I like my toys.

Monday, December 03, 2012

Endless ... Beyond

What do those have in common ? Space !

I've always dreamed of being an astronaut. I've probably been born maybe 20-30 years too early, although we should really have been having colonies on the Moon or even Mars by now if we'd followed the essential dream instead of being held back by election chasing politicians.

Why do I say "essential" dream ?

We have an awesome planet to live on. But we have to recognise that it's limited. Sooner or later, the resources will run out. One of those idiot politicians will press the wrong button and unleash something. An asteroid could come our way. All doom & gloom stuff like that.

The answer to the first point is - there's huge amounts of resources out in space. We just have to go out and get them. A single asteroid can have more minerals than the average continent plus it's easier to extract them. And colonies out there remove the "All Our Eggs In One Basket" factor where we could survive as a species even if that global killer asteroid came along.

But it's not just that which fed my astronaut dream. It was the potential to get out there and do something new. Go places no one else had been. Be part of something bigger. Escape the surly existence on Earth.

So I've always been interested in space and everything associated with it.

I've indulged that twice over the last couple of days. Firstly by checking out a game called Endless Space. I was addicted to the space strategy game Master Of Orion 2 (Moo2) for years (still am) but it's very dated now.

I've been hoping for a modern equivalent for donkeys years now and being consistently frustrated by what comes out on sale. They're either too fixed in scope (Imperium Galactica 1 and 2), too rigid in what they offer or just plain broken (Moo3). The latest off the line is called Endless Space, which has a lot going for it. There seems to be some decent mechanics in there. It's got decent depth. I get the feeling it's a game I could get very interested in. However ...

The documentation is appalling. There are game concepts which are barely touched on in the tutorials and the appalling excuse for a manual. With Moo2, there was a full description of the technology tree in the manual and in game. You find out how to exploit game concepts purely by accident here.
Combat happens too quickly and there's that finding things out by accident factor again. In the early days, you need time to evaluate your options, even just to figure out what they are. Endless Space doesn't allow that, which is a sin compounded by that awful documentation.

Combat doesn't need to be on an insanely fast timer, especially when the rest of the game is at chilled out "wait til I'm done" turn based.

There's lack of variation here. I was bored after just a few hours of essentially watching the game play itself.

Yeah. I guess I'm still looking for that Moo2 replacement. Pax Imperia got close but that game was an incredible grind ...

What was tonight's entertainment ? One of those series that was way too shortlived for what it deserved was a bit of magic called Space Above And Beyond.

This was space scifi set in a near future Earth where we'd just started going out to the stars to colonise the planets. Just as a powerful and very hostile alien race figured out we were there ... The series is centred around the US Marine Corps 58th squadron aka the Wild Cards and the pilots which make up that squadron. The series was blessed with characters that worked very well with each other. The characters made it interesting.

The effects were pretty decent too. It was made in the era of models and cheap effects but it looked great. It easily beat the expensive effects on show in Star Trek Next Generation and didn't have the canned repetition of the original Battlestar Galactica. I think the space sequences were probably better than the CGI effects in the newest Battlestar series. I'll get back to you on that one.

I watched the pilot again tonight (after waiting a decade for a Region 2 dvd release) and it instantly reminded me of why I'd been eagerly waiting to watch this one again. It was originally shown late on a Friday night on BBC2 and I can remember trying to get home from uni or whichever work placement I was on to watch it. It definitely had me caught and this was when sci fi was in its telly Golden Age where it was up against shows like the Star Treks, Babylon 5, Farscape with Stargate coming too.

One funny thing though. I thought the battle at the end of the pilot was much longer ...

Must be some weird time dilation thing.

Anyway - Endless Space = bit pants. Space Above And Beyond = timeless classic (although it suffered from bad scripts).