Friday, March 30, 2012

Randomness from the city

Managed to escape* early enough to have a wander around Bristol centre today ...

*(this means - finishing up what needs doing in good enough time to take advantage of the flexi credit I've built up, i.e. a day's work in 5 hours)

Walking into interesting pretty ladies who stick around to have a natter never gets old :-) Although the emphasis there is more on "interesting" than the "pretty". There's plenty of pretty ladies out there who I have no interest in talking to because they give the impression that there's nobody home upstairs. "Pretty" + "Intelligent" = "Interesting".

It would be better though if I thought of asking the "can I buy you a coffee" while the intelligent pretty lady is there, rather than while walking away. This particular pretty lady works over at our contractor's office, kinda as a counterpart to some of what I do (my brief is similar but looks at different areas). But as I don't get to go over there too often ...

But ... as so often is the case, the person I end up bumping into is not the person I'd really like to be bumping into. Maybe that's why the "can I buy you a coffee" question ends up unasked, because I know I'd prefer to be doing nice things for the other person.

Pink Hat Project - oh my. I've been having increasing doubts here. I've been enjoying agility on a par with how I could bounce around a few years ago. However ... I've also been unable to shake stiffness in my right hip that's a legacy of a 20 year old groin tear, which I injured again 2 seasons ago. I'm mostly pain free (shoulder is always an issue) but this hip thing means I'm barely hiding a limp at the moment. I have most of my movement but this makes me doubt whether I should be hurling myself into as much cricket as there is time for.

Need incentive.

And the best incentive I've ever known is a pretty lady saying "you can do it". Got me an A in English GCSE. Seriously. True story. Although going with that logic, I really don't know how I managed the A in Geography and the A in History. The English teacher was far more sexy :-).

Summer styles - these are definitely coming in now. Although I was finding it far more difficult to tear my eyes away from the summer dresses than the summer belts.

Summer dresses = awesome. They enhance curves and make movement graceful.
(saying that though, some people don't need the outfit to make them graceful, it just comes naturally to them)
Hotpants like belts = meh. They only enhance bumpy bits that shouldn't be bumpy bits.

Must try and harder to have all my bumpy bits in the right places. My legs are chunky but lean, it can be fascinating to watch the muscles play against each other under the skin. My arms are spindly though and, although it's reduced a bit, I still have the spare tyre look.

Going to be remembering old stuff again - bought myself one of these Cyborg Fly thingys ... The games I used to enjoy most were flight and space combat sims. They don't make those any more though, the first person shooter style has achieved domination. Moving in 2d is very passe though, 3d needs far more skill. The game to initiate this is WCSaga, a remake of an old classic (which I never played because I got addicted to Tie Fighter). But it'll also see service with Starlancer, which I enjoyed but never completed.

Retail therapy without buying anything - I always seem to do this. I like having a wander around the shops and while I'll look at stuff, I'll rarely actually buy. Most of the stuff I want, I've already bought. Stuff I see for sale isn't being offered at competitive enough prices to attract impulse buys. Like the Edie Brickell album I don't have yet. I want it - but at £15 in the shop, it's going back on the shelf.

Wonder if that's a symptom of hard times on the high street ? There's more empty shop fronts now than there used to be, even when the recession was hitting us. We live in interesting times.

Still, it was good to get out there and have a wander today. Sun was out and making it warm and the Costa Coffee Girls were in good humour too. It's weird how fate works sometimes, their mistake which delayed my toastie meant I bumped into Pretty Contractor Lady. Delay = bad, Smile from Pretty Lady = awesome.

Coincidences can be wonderful things :-)

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Summer music

Oh wow - I've gone from being insuffrably hyperactive at work earlier to barely able to lift the fingers over the keyboard ...

I suspect that's a sign of how much I'm in need of the week and a bit I'll have off work over Easter. Time to rest and regenerate and listen to way too much music. (And maybe get out and enjoy the sun some too - but that depends on convincing people to join me). Maybe it's because I'm preferring to be around the dynamic at work to having very limited options for people to natter to at home.

That last was what kept me in MMO games long after I stopped enjoying actually playing them.

Wait - this was supposed to be a Thursday Thirteen with lots of summer music :-)

Aww hell - I'm just not really feeling that right now, maybe next Thursday when I've actually started that leave period.

Thinking of a few people right now and probably not enough about me - there's a very special young lady I know who's going through some very rough times right now. Would love to help out there as this little lady has earned all the help she can get. Trouble is, I don't know how to offer and I'm not sure her mind is in a good place to ask yet.

But I can only lend strength to other people if I have that strength myself, so it's time to put the dinner on to make sure I can be annoyingly hyperactive tomorrow. Just wasn't feeling hungry until just now and I need to keep a regular meal cycle to keep a metabolism going that's happily burning through the ballast still at the moment.

Chill out time ! And it's starting with feeling Alive, Goldfrapp style. (strange video!)

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Sun Power

Summer seems to have arrived -

Air con has been active in the car and it is soooo good to have a car with a functioning air con again. I'd forgotten that fixing the air con was another possibly expensive thing that needed repairing on my Focus.

Summer also means the cricket season is just around the corner. I'm hoping to play a fair bit this summer, although I still need to properly initiate Pink Hat Project instead of just talking about it. I reckon this summer will be very hot, very dry. Pretty good weather for cricket, as long as the groundsmen are allowed to water the wickets to stop them cracking up. Not so good weather for me because I suffer in the heat. I suffer in the cold too but at least you can wrap up more.

What am I saying ! Roll on summer. Cricket to watch and summer dresses to keep an eye out for.

Here's a couple of pictures to show the power of the sun :


That's the same hat. Topside and bottom side. I think I used this hat from maybe :

1993 - last year at school, bought it after leaving my old white hat in a golf bag after playing golf in rain. Hence being forced into buying a new hat. The old one didn't appreciate being left in the golf bag for a few weeks. Oops ! (My sister found it after it had been bleached and still uses it !)

It would have started out life like this Gray Nicolls Navy Blue hat.

2003 - when my nose got broke. Yes, those are blood stains and that is definitely salt from sweat. I haven't washed it and don't intend to - the blood stains are a reminder that I'm not immortal. I could have been hurt much worse than I was in that incident.

That's not the point though - look at how much it's got sun bleached ! And that's with me just playing occasional evening cricket, instead of all day over weekends.

2003 is the last time I wore that hat. I think I escaped long term psychological stuff (outside the amnesia) from being hit in the face by the cricket ball but I did feel compelled to replace all of my cricket gear. Some of that was forced (my pads ended up in a different kit bag), some of it was an unforced compulsion. I could have kept using that hat but not with the bloodstains.

One thing that did change - when I got hit the first time, my technique was perfect. I watched the ball all the way ... up to where my glasses stopped it coming into my right eye. That's why I want the Not Immortal reminder, it could have been a far worse result. When I got hit the second time, I turned my head away and it caught the helmet on the right hand side of the grille.

Last thought - at some point I need to do some modelling of that Pink Hat.

Monday, March 26, 2012

Randoms

Random thoughts :

Shops that don't want to sell you anything ... I need a couple of bits of cricket gear : spikes and probably another bat. So I had a look in Sports Direct - found passable spikes, would have bought jogging trousers as well. But ... no one suggested "want to try those on ?". And I walk away knowing I get more interest and much better gear from the guys at Globe Sports. Sports Direct are a glorified clothes shop anyway.

Need to head over there again at some point - Globe Sports has a bowling machine and I'm badly in need of a short burst of batting practice to tell me what kind of shape I'm in there. It needs to be just a short burst (15 minutes) as my arms would fall off and I'd stop Learning. Later sessions could be longer. First session is to spark off those neurons to wake up muscle memory. Later sessions are for technique.

That's the way I learn : I do. I remember. I think about what I've done. I identify ways to improve. But it often takes me a bit of time for the training benefit to sink in. Like not having a clue about why my boomerang inswing bowling had turned to boomerang awayswing without me apparently changing anything. I needed to mentally replay what I'd been doing to figure that one out (I'd been listening too much to cricket commentary)

Duffy has great songs but sounds like she's on helium. Don't get me wrong, she's done some amazing songs (Mercy and My Boy are outstanding) but the squeakiness will likely see her not go past the 2 albums which have already come out. They're good albums, I'm currently listening to the 2nd : Endlessly.

Snow Queen's back tomorrow ! Yey :-) I've missed the Snow Queen. There's just something about that cheeky little smile and the smart cookie behind that smile. If one of my big-grins gets answered with that smile, then that "Sleepy can take on the world" feeling gets closer.

Might need that soon too. Clocks changed this weekend, which means soon we'll have enough light in the evenings for the summer cricket. I'd love to do the Pink Hat Project thing this summer but ... I'm still feeling those old injuries and will need something to keep me fighting them. It's mostly a mental thing as despite a sore back, I know I have full power available in my legs and I'm lighter than I have been in years. But - I've also been hiding a slight limp for 3 weeks now due to a dodgy hip.

I can be a bit roller coaster with my confidence - and a pat on the back or a smile from the right person can give me a huge lift. And I depend on that confidence to let me ignore the frailties.

Here's that pink hat again :

(click for bigger)

I still want a few more bits of pink stuff but haven't quite resorted to Buy Red Hat, Get Red Hat Weathered to Pink yet. Pink Hat Project may well give me the motivation to get a lot of cricket in this summer, which will do me a world of good. Still need to pick a charity to support, I'll be consulting with the girls from work there.

Dementia's hit the news - wonder if there's something environmental here. I've been even more absent minded than usual and it's not from lack of mental exercise. I've also been mixing words up more too (Globe kept coming out as Bloge)

Getting out a bit - we've had glorious weather here lately and something in me must have changed cos I'd like to be out in it. Need the excuse though. I'd like to do more in general, things like concerts. Never actually been to something from a proper group (the uni ones were tribute bands) and with the love I have for listening to music, that's something that's just plain Wrong.

I just like variation and I think I need to see New Stuff.

Sign I'm not That Old - I put my last pair of glasses on today for the first time in years ... and Could See ! They gave clear view too, although they've got misaligned (that'll be the 2 nose jobs). I think my current pair are 6 years old ...

And to finish on something completely unconnected, managed to go 5 weeks without needing to put petrol in the car. That's pretty awesome. And I only filled up due to fears of petrol strikes ! Yes. That's kinda Panic Buy stuff but the car was just above empty so Nyah. :-)

Very last thought : Furniture shops - Why u no sell hifi stands ? ??? !!! :-)

PS Thought - Blogger's country redirection thing is another WTH Did You Break It ? I have to add a /ncr to a iceangelthemerc.blogspot.com to get the edit facility and some of the icons back because the Country Redirection to .co.uk breaks all sorts of stuff. The key to change is to think before planning and then think again before implementing. Don't just implement unwanted change without thought of the consequence. Wordpress is looking like it might get checked out.

Sunday, March 25, 2012

On time with crazy ideas

Currently ignoring the grand prix filler before the race (I watch them as-live but delayed) and looking through a few tech websites ...

Found this story from Tomshardware - Hybrid Watch combines the best of analogue and digital.

Go have a peek and try and decipher the display. Took me a while ...

I've used analogue time stuff for many years ... Because I suffer from astygmatism (more later) which blurries up my vision, I have to wear glasses almost all the time. But - I want stuff where I can read the time without my glasses on, which means big contrast and easy to read displays.

I don't call that hybrid watch piece of rubbish as either big contrast or easy to read (ok, maybe after you've retrained yourself). Old tech does it better :

That's my current watch (yes, my laptop needs to be hit with an airblower!). The pic is somewhat flashridden but you should still be able to make out a time of 10.29 and 47 seconds. I've had that watch for I believe 14 and a half years, it was one of the first things I bought after getting my job offer after uni. (Which let me get a couple of loans to clear my student debt)







It's an Accurist, which :

Has been solid and reliable for 14 years
Only occasionally needs a battery
Has all the functions you could want (although cooking timer is no longer an option cos the alarm is now mute)
Gold on blue makes for awesome contrast
Is still on its original strap
Keeps very good time (even after 14 years)

I like my watch, although it often spends its time sat on a desk instead of on my wrist. Someone else does too, because there's a colleague at work who has the exact same watch. It shows the benefit of spending enough cash to make a purchase Worth It, I used to spend £30 every year or so on unreliable Timex and Lorus watches (I broke several at school) that would lose minutes between clock changes. The £90 for the Accurist has lasted a far longer than expected 14 years, with new batteries being about £10 every couple of years.

It's also irreplaceable, as Accurist no longer make a design with the same clarity and contrast.

To show what I mean by my astygmatism, here's the non-flash shot where I didn't have anything handy to brace the camera for a 1/4sec exposure shot :

That's actually easier to read without the flash ... My actual vision is somewhat worse than that (blurry and diffuse) but it shows the value of having good contrast and clear indicators.












So there we have it - oldschool = still the best. Ignore the functions and flashiness and artiness and all that really matters is : "Can I read the time from a distance and quickly ?" I personally struggle with digital watches and that piece of arty trash from Tokyoflash is just pure garbage, to be filed with "there's one born every minute"

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Remembering past and thinking future

Ok - maybe a slightly confusing title there. This one's about cars.

I've always been interested in cars, the way they're put together and how they work. I did most of the maintenance on my first two cars :

Fiesta - brake master cylinder, adjustments on the valves (which probably made it worse!) and just generally keeping that piece of trash on the road for another year while I learned to drive.
Astra - oh how much got done on this in 4 years ...

Starter motor - this suffered due to an oil leak at the back of the engine, which was clogging up the starter. I replaced the original with one from a scrappy, although this failed because an essential bolt broke off the new one. Cue a trip back to mum & dad's place where I could work on it and after a take apart to see how it works, the refurbished old starter lasted for the remaining life of the car.

Other work involved - putting a radio and speakers in, alternator and just generally keeping that one going. It was a tough beastie that Astra, built on sound high performing engineering like what Vauxhall used to do. That was non-safety type stuff though. Repairs like welding, brakes and the suspension springs went to the garage.

All that time, I'd been entertaining dreams of putting together my own car. This was partly inspired by the occasional trip in the Triumph Spitfire while my brother had it. Soft top, vintage car, great lines - immense street cred value.

But ... my engineer head could see straight past those beautiful curves (curves are awesome, on everything) and while the front end of the Spitfire is amazing, the back end is dangerous and unsafe. Swing axle back suspension should not be allowed to get past initial idea stages (bit like pull-rod suspension on a Ferrari). It's just a really Bad Idea that will bite you when you don't expect and when you're going fast.

I'd still like to see that Triumph back on the road at some point though and we have Cunning Plans in the idea stage at the moment ...

So - kit car dreams.

We used to go to kit car shows fairly often :-). Thinking about how they're built helps you learn more about how all cars are supposed to work. How much compromise is in there, where things are put to allow the people inside to get in.

One kit car memory resurfaced this week. We were coming back from Stoneleigh (kit car mecca) and the Formula 1 commentary was coming from a track called Imola. There had already been bad news earlier that weekend as Roland Ratzenberger had lost his life. But no one in motor racing was prepared for what happened in the race with the legend that was Ayrton Senna. We heard it on commentary and immediately knew something terrible had happened. That was a very quiet car for a while.

That memory resurfaced after watching the movie Senna this week. If you've got an interest in motor racing, it's an essential film to see. It's very sympathetic to Senna as a man and introduces a lot from behind the scenes that we just didn't see on BBC. But ... there are scenes in there that will be distressing to everyone watching - and it should be distressing :

Irish driver Martin Donnelly rolling around on the track semi conscious with bits of disintegrated car around him. No assistance, despite marshals being near. I actually looked him up on Wiki to see if he survived.
Rubinho going SMACK into barriers in an airborne car.
The Ratzenberger crash where you see pictures of the driver and you know : he's dead.

And then the lead up to the Senna crash where you know the history, you know that Something Terrible is about to happen. But you can't stop watching. It's a different feeling to dramatizations where you know that (almost!) all the time, the actors and actresses walk away from being blown up on screen. This is real Bad Stuff happening to Real People.

And it's very tough to watch.

It's amazing how much change there's been in motor racing and cars over the years, they're unrecognisable to what was around 20 years ago. Even before thinking airbags, the structure is a lot more solid and the materials are much better. We can rely on our car being structurally sound, without thinking it'll fold up under impact due to something gone rusty.

It's the same in motor racing, where Audi drivers walked away from 2 horrific crashes at Le Mans which would have resulted in multiple fatalities (the McNish crash would have burst into the crowd) years ago.

I still have those kit car dreams, although they are dependent on :

Facilities
Cash
Time
Choice of kit

Cash and Time are 2 things I have much more of now compared to 20 years ago. Facilities have always been a problem. I'd need a garage, which makes my current abode totally unsuitable for a kit car.

Choice of kit is a thorny one as after driving one, I'd like to use hybrid mechanicals. In a kit half the weight of a Prius or CT, it should be pretty good. But there aren't many cars out there which combine Curvy Goodness with a mid-engine chassis which is where those hybrid bits would go. I think I'd probably need to look at something like the Motor Assist system in the Hondas rather than the technically superior eCVT full hybrid that Toyota have.

We shall see ! I'll be keeping an eye on the kit car scene to see if someone does the pathfinding on a hybrid.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Pink Hat Project

This one feels as if it's getting more alive now.

The Pink Hat Project was an idea that first came up a couple of months ago now while chatting with one of my dearest friends over online chat. We had a colleague who touched our team a little while ago ... She was one of the mainstays of a small team that got absorbed into our larger team and always answered my big popup meerkat grin with a little smile of her own.

But ... she's also been touched by breast cancer over the last couple of years and although we've seen her occasionally feeling well enough to be able to come in, she's really struggled. So remembering her (aka The Rose) is part of my inspiration to be the focus for a charity effort instead of just the contributor.

Thumper is also an inspiration for this, the original Pink Hat Project idea was spawned after me thinking "Why can't I do that too ?"

There's a simple answer to that : In a year or two, I won't be able to. Although I don't look much older than when I was at uni, at 37 I can feel the advancing years catching up to me. I'd still be able to bat and impersonate a fielder but if I can't Run Real Fast, I don't think there'd be a point in continuing the cricket. I have to be in the team on merit or not at all. Hopefully losing weight will give me another few seasons, at least long enough to make it worth buying the gear I'm intending to pick up.

But ... most sporty charity stuff involves running a half marathon or something like that. I'm not built for that. I don't have any significant run-for-miles endurance but have very good recuperation powers. I'm built for short fast sprints and lots of them. Cricket is the perfect game for me. And cricket over a season is a marathon because it's a very easy game to get injured in and someone like me will be carrying injuries over several games, plus you do more running in the field than you'd expect.

So my sponsorship idea revolves around cricket. And that can get really complicated as (if the shoulder behaves) I can do everything on the cricket field :

Cash for runs as a batsman (I'll expect lots*)
Stumpings if I'm needed as a wicket keeper (these are rare)
Catches held (more as keeper)
Run outs caused (lolworthy if I'm batting!)
Wickets (unlikely to happen unless I can bowl more than just doosras)

* While I've held my catches and won games with my bowling, (6 wickets in a game once, 4 wickets several times) I've never scored a 50 with the bat. That's something I Want to do, it's unfinished business. I've also turned games with my fielding, keeping the runs down, getting key run outs or holding important catches. But while I've anchored sides to wins, I've never had that massive innings of my own.

Other performance sponsorship options are things like Cash per Game played. And I intend to play as much as my body lets me this summer. And then play anyway if I'm feeling slow. Oh, another reason for thinking about doing this is to give me some solid motivations to continue playing.

So there we have it :

Pink Hat Project = Sleepypete trying to get as much cricket in as possible, wearing as much pink gear as I can acquire. That's been a struggle :

Pink cap - acquired, although I'm uncomfortable about wearing England badged gear on the field. I haven't earned that right.
Pink floppy hat - only idea I have here is to get a red one and leave it outside to get sunbleached.
Pink keeping gloves - these exist ... but I'd need to know I'd be keeping wicket.
Pink bat grip - I can get one of these at Globe Sports and will do so when I know which bat I'll use this summer.
Pink helmet - think I'd be able to get a pink cover for mine ... more investigation needed.

That's the limit for pink stuff though. We play with red balls and in the evenings when the light starts becoming a factor, so pink outfit + red ball = tricky to see -> unhappy opposition.

As for the fund raising bit, I'll be looking at Justgiving.com. I've seen other people posting up links to Justgiving and a colleague did a similar sponsored cricket thing a couple of seasons ago, I think using Justgiving.

That's it for now - Pink Hat Project feels like it's getting closer to reality the more I show people the picture of the Pink Hat I got last Friday :-)

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

On religion ...

Another one grabbed from Facebook :
Of all the door to door people who come knocking, it's the religion ones that I'm most wary of. The only one who's come close lately has been the Anglian windows bloke who I thought would try and force his way in.

The religion ones are the worst of the lot though. I have nothing against people who live with religion close to their hearts, it's the evangelists who I don't have the respect for. The people who will drag a child with them when they go doorstep to doorstep, with that child being a moderator for any offensiveness that might be justified by preventing a stranger from forcing their way into your home.

And that's what it feels like with the doorstep religion people, they expect that you will invite them into your home and often don't bother waiting for an answer. Cue slamming of door in faces.

But that's just style. I had a similar reaction to the Anglian windows person who :
Didn't show any personal ID
Only identification was an "Anglian" on his fleece top
Was bordering offensive in his efforts to get me to talk to him.

Yep - I'm paranoid about the doorstep sellers and will only let them in if they're as sexy as the Npower girl who convinced me to change away from British Gash, which is something I had planned to do shortly anyway. (Customer disservice again)

Before I go into the next lot which I suspect may upset a few religious people, I have every respect for what people believe in. It's your answer and your interpretation to fundamental questions. And I have no right to question those beliefs. Organised religion, however, is fair game - muahaha :-)

I have a kind of religion but it's a personal one. I think there's gremlins, spooks, ghosts, supernatural wibblies out there who like to toy with us. Use a computer for a while, you'll know what I mean. Strange things happen that defy the logic these things are supposed to run on.

I also believe heavily in karma, do good things for others and they'll remember when you need the favour returned.. And that stands me in good stead at work, where I get more responsiveness out of our contractors than some of my colleagues do. I think that's partly the contractors knowing that I don't ask them to do stuff which would be a waste of effort. I'll also work through the problems and "how do we do this ???" to the benefit of everyone. Lol, I'm usually asking them to do stuff they know they should be doing anyway but without bashing them over the head with a reminder of that.

So that's the "do unto others" tenet that the Christians like to think they follow. (Look up history, the Christian mob ethic has been consistently "do unto others before they do unto you"). Don't get me wrong, it's a fine belief system for individuals, it just goes badly wrong when it gets organised.

I have to admit being soured on Christianity by what I experienced in primary school over in Northern Ireland. I went to a Quaker school which was heavily populated by Protestant kids with the occasional Catholic. The playground could literally be a battlefield. It was also during the time when the Troubles were still active, when the Peace Process was not quite started up. As an 8 year old, I was confused : "You follow the same god right, why are you fighting ?". I found it nonsensical and didn't want to have anything to do with it.

Oh, there was also the ganging up on the English boy too :-) Everyone gets bullied for being different but our differences are what make us strong. I was also known as the Milky Bar Kid at that Irish school.

Yep - my pre-teen mind was so confused by the Protestant vs Catholic thing that it went its own way and sought its own interpretation. My own code of ethics borrow heavily from what I learned early on but a strong ethic of "Be Good To People" should be the core of everyone's ethics, religion should not have anything to do with that.

In terms of meaning though ... My superstition makes me think there's a supreme being type entity out there. But not the capricious gods of most major religions. They're more concerned about their worshippers legging it for someone less cruel than they are concerned for the welfare of those worshippers. (Yes greek gods, I mean you!).

So what do I believe in ? I believe in Luck. Fate. Destiny. It's why I have my superstitions that guard against tempting fate. You can go some way to making your own luck. Don't walk under ladders that are unstable and have things perched on top. Take precautions when working on that ladder.

Why luck ? Most religions are centred around the question "Why Am I Here?" and answer that question with something that keeps control of their flock. I prefer the scientific element inherent in the sheer luck involved in us being here.

Astronomic chances of a life bearing planet in a life supporting solar system
Having a moon that causes tides that generate our climate
Sheer random chance of those first amino acids getting together
Enough radiation to spark random evolutionary mutation
Random evolution making creatures as smart as we are
Incalculable chances of the chromosomes that made me ME coming together

The mind boggles at the staggering amount of luck that makes us US. And it is sheer luck that makes us what we are. When you look at it, luck makes a lot of sense too as a Creator. Bad luck comes along with Good luck. Believers in a perfect supreme being (Christians) have no explanation for the innocents inflicted with Bad Stuff. A perfect being can make no flaws in their design. We all know how many flaws are in this world and a bare fraction of those are punishments for evildoers. Nothing in this world is perfect (although someone I know comes close!) which puts the kybosh on "God made us in his own image". Ok, that makes their god flawed and imperfect too and in no way befitting the tag assigned to them.

No. I prefer to believe in Luck, as I know how fickle luck can be. Luck will also respect it when you put the effort in to improve your chances.

And I'm now starting to run out of things to add to the Wall Of Text without repeating myself. Questions and last thoughts :

Always ask : does this belief make sense ?
Trust in your own choices
Have respect for the choices of others, particularly what they believe in
Treat others how you would expect to be treated in return
Being nice leads to cookies and chocolate
And a hug feels better than a sermon

Very last thought - would I get married in a church ? If it mattered to my partner, definitely. That's part of having the respect for the beliefs of others. My feet might feel a little toasty but it's her day as well as mine. Oh to find someone though both interested and interesting. I do know someone who more than fits the "interesting" part, she's smart, sexy, full of life, has a good soul and most important, can keep up with my brain which works in its mysterious ways. But "interested" ? she's got other stuff going on that's got her full attention. There I go again with chasing the unattainable !

Sunday, March 18, 2012

John Carter of ... racing ...

First Crazie Movie outing for a little while on Friday and it must have been a little too long since I've enjoyed the company of friends chilling out with a movie night ...

The hyperactivity hasn't quite been so prevalent lately, as I've been feeling somewhat ground down before the Easter break (happens every year). Anyway, one pizza night + one enjoyable film + company of good people = hyperactivity (and therefore Pete's cheerfulness). Would still have loved to see a Special Guest come along as I think it would be a good escape from home stuff.

How was the film ? We watched John Carter (of Mars), which admittedly is a product of the Disney house so we were expecting some cheesiness to come in. But despite the efforts of the cast to drag the story down, it was a really enjoyable bit of fluffiness. I'll buy this one when it gets to a decent price and watch it until it wears out.

What can I say, I like scifi and if there's a Princess like Deja Thoris (played by Lynn Collins), then those glittering blue eyes and fiery character will make me pay attention.

So yeah, it's a good and watchable film despite the efforts to drag the original story down to Disney level :-). And I now need to pick up a copy of that original Edgar Rice Burroughs story to see how it compares. It shows the benefit of starting with good writing.

Which brings me to the garbage we're being subjected to on telly at the moment ...

We talk a little about what's on while we're at work. The favourites at the moment are The Walking Dead, with a couple also being interested in Spartacus. I've been hanging on with The Walking Dead as there's still a little something there (although it has been "where are you going?" struggling lately) but gave up on Spartacus and True Blood after just the one season. Walking Dead still has the goodwill from a first season that was planned and paced really well, this season is too drawn out.

They seem to be falling back on the maxim "Sex Sells". My objection to that drew the comment "can't handle the raunchy stuff ?" (which has been bubbling away in my head over the last few days). Let's just say : I think in pictures, I can freely manipulate those pictures, join the dots. Muahaha (and giggle).

My objection to stuff like Spartacus is that they're using the sex aspect to cover incredibly weak stories. And you can get better sex pics from actual softcore porn rather than stuff like Spartacus which is soft core porn masquerading badly as serious drama.

That is what it is. And I found it so boring and unimaginative that I didn't bother watching it after the end of the first series.

But that's not what I really get annoyed with. The sad thing is that the series that are going the Sex Sells route are continuing to get made, instead of potentially brilliant writing in Terra Nova (enjoyed that), A Town Called Eureka and most of all Defying Gravity. Of those :

Defying Gravity - killed after half a season. This had an interesting grand plan, a good cast and remembered that key of entertainment : Have Fun. It was scifi done well and I really wanted to know where they were taking their distopian view of the future.
A Town Called Eureka - definitely Has Fun and passes that on to the viewer. Likely to get canned after its fifth season
Terra Nova - hopefully this will get renewed but the future isn't bright after Fox dropped it.

Yep - I wish I could be watching Defying Gravity rather than Spartacus, yet the tits & arse of Spartacus means the tired, unimaginative and BORING storyline is what reaches our screens.

Meh. Ranting again ... Time to close out :-)

Friday's activity didn't see me getting around the shops as Plan A said. I'd originally intended to scout Globe Sports for gear, mosey around Bristol centre and avoid buying hifi stuff at Richer Sounds. Spent longer at work than intended so I only got to Globe Sports. And even that needed half an hour walking up and down the hill from the car park. Good 1.5 mile blast inc hill which I felt in strained muscles that evening.

(training maxim - if it's hurting, it's working)

But I did have time to pick up :

I'd prefer a Panama style wide brim hat (keeps the rain off and keeps off-centre sun away) but if the Pink Hat Project needs me to run around in a baseball cap, so be it :-).

I kept it down to just the cap though, there was a very shiny feeling bat there and I'll get new spikes for this season too. But ... I need to have a practice session before I buy a bat so my muscles remember a little about what they'll be looking for in a bat.

PS Forgot the "of racing" bit ... Watching the Formula 1 off SkyF1 at the moment and if you haven't got it, you're not missing a thing. The filler is about the same standard as the BBC filler. Like - utterly missable. I'm likely to be hitting fast-forward much more next weekend for Malaysia. The pictures will be the same on BBC because they're fed from the host broadcaster. Commentators are Martin Brundle (who F1 fans will know) and another commentator who thinks he knows all (doesn't) and insists on showing off his lack of knowledge. DC was a far better summariser.

You are missing nothing by not having the SkyF1 channel !

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Thinking on the gaming again ...

I'm still having those random thoughts bouncing around like crazy ...

One of them today was on the gaming again. I think because I'd touched on comparing Star Wars The Old Republic to World of Warcraft.

There's a thing with Massively Multiplayer Online games that we didn't see before the online thing really took off. At some point, you stop playing the game for yourself. You start playing it for other people. You feel compelled to log in and Do Stuff in game because you're supporting other people. That's where it starts getting into dangerous territory ...

Specifically the question : "Why am I playing this game ?"

After all, gaming is one of the most unproductive activities I can think of, especially when it stops being Fun. If the answer to the question is one of the following, that's a good reason :

To relax (Settlers IV is mind numbing ... and sometimes that's precisely what I need)
To enjoy a good story (Deus Ex, Mass Effect)
To complete everything possible (Skyrim will do this)

Some of the games coming out these days have writing and action that's every bit as good as novels on the shelf or movies on the screen. Better in some cases, as you have the chance to rewrite the story the way you want. Like where my Mass Effect play throughs always seem to go Paragon (good guy/gal) because those are the dialogue options I like. I have real trouble acting the bad guy. Something in me is fundamentally uncomfortable with being rude, arrogant or cruel.

I don't include "to be the best at it" as a good reason, which is probably why I avoid online shooter type games. There's plenty of other things in life to be "best at" which are more productive than fleeting games.

But if the reason you're in the game is :

Because other people expect me to be in there.

Then it's time to find another thing to do. Note "expect", that's different to you being with a bunch of people like Violence Reborn (my WoW guild) and Mercs (old WoW guild) who were awesome to be around. "Expectation" is much different to "Anticipation of fun". Some of the time I'd log into Warcraft just to see what crazy thing was coming over the guild chat. And then I'd be drawn into Mumble which would make me laugh even more.

The problem with Warcraft is that the expectation of being in the game started to overweigh the Fun factor inherent in playing the game. And this gets more than a few people too. Trouble is, they don't realise they've got burned out on the game and keep playing because they feel that expectation. If your MMO has become a second job, it needs to be binned before it becomes more important than your primary job. (Like me binning the indoor cricket team all those years ago)

I've binned all my MMO subscriptions now, I just wasn't enjoying the game play style. I've been ignoring the calls from one or two people who say I should come back into Eve, WoW or SWTOR. If you're not enjoying something that is supposed to be fun, then why pay for it (Masochists may disagree).

With my current state of mind, being involved in an MMO would likely be highly dangerous too. I'm in a state where I'm needing to be involved with other people. I can be quite self contained but I also depend on contact with others. My own feelings of self worth depend on that (and it's quite low at the moment). So an MMO would expose me to that contact which I crave, exposing me to an addiction that had me at emotional collapse in the last days of me leading the Mercs guild.

But - while I'm not doing the MMO thing, I'm still logging into Steam almost every night.

There's someone who I randomly ran into in a game store last year (in a "Isn't that ... ????" kind of way) who I ended up chatting to for way too long, which led to me getting another Steam friend. We'll bounce thoughts about gaming off each other (we both like the same games) and I hope I make her laugh as much as she makes me laugh.

Laughing is the best therapy for a weary soul.

Oh and I'm allegedly a people person :-) Not sure if I believe that because of the difficulties I have with communicating but if The Boss says I am, I definitely won't argue :-). And that's someone I'll definitely miss over the next week or so - Snow Queen and The Boss are both out all next week. Missing them already.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Save the universe !

Get foiled by Amazons !

Random thoughts today cos my mind is everywhere and nowhere ...

I was hoping to get some concentrated Saving Of The Universe in this weekend with a new game called Mass Effect 3 (yes, you may have caught that there's two bits of controversy on this one ...) which I'd preordered months ago from Amazon. You'd have thought they'd be able to deliver on release day but it's only just come through today. Bit meh. And that's deja vu from when Mass Effect 2 was released, with that one I cancelled the preorder and got it from Asda on release day after Amazon failed to fulfill the order.

Saving the world could wait though :

Very tired right now and the stress level is approaching the limit of what I can successfully suppress. March is a tricky month for me, as I've usually had a break before now. It's the length of time between the Xmas break and the Easter break that gets me. Possibly a bit of Seasonally Affective Disorder as well coming into play.

So if I'm snappy right now and not as focused as I should be, that's why. Same for absentmindedness. Confidence has gone low too, so my latent hyperactivity is not burning through that stress as much as it should.

The stress is also why I'm struggling physically as well now. I have full agility (hips are very stiff but they'll live) despite my back telling me it's as stiff as hardwood. Just need that spark, motivation, reason to unlock the energy again. And that's where I depend on doing stuff for other people. Thinking I've helped or cheered someone else up puts that grin back on me and lets me jump into the fray again.

Musicy stuff -

Been expanding the library again. Latest arrivals are Sheryl Crow, Mindy Gledhill (Anchor is a very Happy album), Norah Jones (awesome singer), Maroon 5 (I want da Moves Like Jagger), Katie Melua, Duffy, Tori Amos and the 2001 soundtrack. Definitely enjoying the music ...

... but I'm considering spending cash on another amplifier. Bit daft really, as the current one functions. It's just annoying with the bad HDMI connectivity (Onkyo problem). Let's just say a visit to Richer Sounds for a stand for my bits might end up being more expensive than it ought ...

Loo stuff - I'm still likely to need to do a replacement but I have acquired a secret weapon ... The only question I have now is being able to lift the bits. Porcelain isn't light. One person job too because the access is very tight.

Weight n stuff - very happy here. I've lost almost a stone now, although that has stabilised. I've got used to a different discipline in how I eat and how I snack. Not had cookies in the afternoon at work for a while. It's showing in extra agility, the same power is available in my legs but has less ballast to overcome.

Thinking of diet - seen the latest that says red meat will kill you ? Eating is unhealthy. There's something in everything that will kill you ... eventually. But. Not eating anything will kill you a lot lot faster. Take what you read with a pinch of salt (oops). What comes out of supposedly respectable research places these days resembles sensationalist quackery. It is : Garbage. Eat what works for you, everyone needs different food.

Cricket - hoping I'll have a nets buddy :-) Globesports down in the middle of Bristol offer indoor nets with a bowling machine. Just one session will be more pre season practice than the last maybe 8 seasons put together. I won't be bowling though so I'll need to get my conditioning another way. Like walking around site over a lunch time.

Not that it does much good :-) Even with getting as much pre season practice and conditioning as I could get to 20 years ago, I'd still need a few days to unstiffen after the first game of the season. And that's with me being 20 years less broken :-).

Think that's most of the random thoughts out of my head, at least the ones that escape the tiredness trap that is.

There are more though. I've been keeping an eye on a couple of people lately. Those thoughts are definitely still rumbling around in my head. Thoughts of "is ... ok?" are the first coherent thoughts in the morning and they're the last thoughts before sleep.

Time for a hot shower before starting on that last leg of the Mass Effect trilogy :-)

Monday, March 12, 2012

Helpful for Bloggers - labels for posts

Part of Blogger's unasked for and unwanted recent changes has lost us our labels on the bottom of posts.

I'm a bit patchy on labels to be honest. But if I add them, I like them to actually appear. So - how do you get them back if Google's messed up your template ?

Here's something I picked up off da interwebs :

<< grr - copying it through didn't work, see the link below to get your labels back >>


And that's from the Google support forums, linked here.

Seems to work :-) I have my labels back. BUT ! This functionality is another thing that should not have been meddled with by someone who unleashed unwanted and unnecessary change on blogger.

Oh in other news - Amazon have let me down again with a preorder. I preordered Mass Effect 3 ages ago, expecting Amazon to get it to me on or near release day. Well, that was Friday and I haven't got my game yet.

Sad face. (Which to be honest is due to tiredness hitting me)

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Never be afraid of the past

This thought's been rattling around in my head for the past couple of days ...

A friend mentioned "wouldn't want to go back there because of the memories". And I agreed at the time too. The last thing Ravenwolf and I did together as a couple was to head out to Orlando for a fortnight, with Ravenwolf then staying on for another fortnight with her mum and sister.

The overriding memories (it's faded a bit) of the fortnight is :

Chilling out,
Fun at the theme parks,
Being well looked after by the Americans,
Sun and warmth

Those are great memories. But I'd been thinking : "wouldn't want to go back there because of remembering what happened back then.". But while I will think instinctively, I always leave room for changing my mind on stuff later. Which I think still surprises people when I will snap from a preconceived idea to a different one in a heartbeat (I've raced through their logic and recognised its value).

Same with this one - we should always remember what's gone before. But should we be locked into it ? I don't think so. If it's a place worth going, think about what the root cause of the bad memory actually is and confront that instead of denying yourself the good stuff. I'd quite like to go back to Orlando again :-) Especially as the bad memory is from what followed the holiday rather than what happened on the holiday. I suspect I also won't be quite the clueless tourist the second time around.

My problem is motivation - I'm rubbish at doing things for myself because I feel compelled to do things for others. So I wouldn't want to check these things out for myself, I'd quite happily treat someone else to it.

Cricket is another source of bad memory for me (amongst the great cricket memories !) - mostly for injury issues.

I'll not play again at the ground where I broke my nose - but not for those fragmented memories. I was rather glad there was enough time left in the season to bat again after the nose incident, it gave me chance to confront any potential fear before it had time to fester over the winter. I still have the occasional flash of seeing a cricket ball 6 inches from my right eye, which I don't know is a real memory or extrapolated. But that's not the reason for never playing at the ground again. Nah - that's because it's not a fit ground for cricket, with a square that's marshy and very dangerous for cramp prone legs like mine. I always hurt muscles there ! After tearing leg muscles in almost all the games I played there, it's just not worth the risk at 37.

No - the big cricket memory has been confronted and dealt with and the others also get similarly managed.

The bad shoulder still affects me and as well as being unable to bowl it means I should never use power in a throw. But I forget about the memory of the pain and concentrate on fielding to the best of what I can do. Which means letting the captain know so I'm allowed to stay in close where I'm best.

Fear of rejection is another memory I struggle with though. Since Ravenwolf, I've tried a few times to strike up a relationship with other people but it's always ended up with stonewalling before anything actually happened. I like to feel I Matter to other people and that's a crucial part of my feelings of self worth. Memory and fear of rejection is something I still struggle badly with.

That's enough of my attempts to confront my bad memories though :-).

I think I'm dealing with them better lately because what's been happening with a bunch of other people has forced me to look again at stuff from my past. And after another look, it doesn't hurt nearly as much now as it did back then. Things like ditching the jokey but cruel "Evil Ex" tag for her old tag. Although I'm still not that comfortable talking about the details.

Back to the original thing - I'd quite like to go back to Orlando. I enjoyed the chilling out, the space, the fresh air, the warmth, the sun. There's a lot going for places like that, even if it is obvious it's all built for the tourists. They do it so well though :-)

Would I go back there ? With a willing partner, oh yes. Although that's tinged slightly with "why go to the same place twice when there's so many options out there ?" There's lots out there that I haven't seen or experienced.

Right reason to not go - been there before
Wrong reason - stuff that's in the past

But (and this is the last bit of Wall Of Text - honest) : the pain has faded for me, it's still very raw for others with those wounds still bleeding. However, always keep an open mind and allow room for those hard set ideas to change.

Friday, March 09, 2012

Cake !

A memory like mine has a few advantages among its disadvantages :-)

I tend to think in pictures, feelings and motion. (Which can make it tough to get what I'm thinking turned into words). But what it does mean is that when things stick in there amongst the sawdust, I can pull faces out of my head far better than I can put names to them.

Or ... I can compare how Snow Queen cakes taste to cakes made by mere mortals.

Yep. Snow Queen cakes are far superior to Fabulous Baking Boy muffins (2 for deals from supermarkets are very dangerous).

I still have 6 FBB muffins to go but each one will have me wishing for the taste of one of those Snow Queen buns. They were lush. Oh and I only had 2 at work today, I am supposed to be on a diet after all :-).

PS If Snow Queen cakes are superior to Fabulous BB cakes, what adjective is fitting for the Snow Queen ?

Thursday, March 08, 2012

Thursday Thirteen - Music from the decades version 2

Got the ouchies again and I'm desperate for something to take my mind off it. The best way I have for that is to do something nice for someone but opportunities have been lacking lately.

So it's time to dive into music instead. Theme is similar to the last one, except that instead of doing 70s, 80s, 90s etc this one will be ages 0-10, 11-20, 21-30 and 30-too many :

Age 0-10 (1974-1984) is dominated by things I grew up with :

1 - Star Wars theme by John Williams. I was just about old enough to watch Return Of The Jedi in the cinema when it first came out and we always watched the movies when they were a Xmas essential. The movies (all 6 - I'm a forgiving fan) were amazing and are still good today. They've been joined by some excellent books too but ignore the New Jedi Order series and ANY book written by Kevin J Anderson.

2 - Strange Land by Clannad. Another series I grew up with was Robin Of Sherwood (the Michael Praed version). The series hasn't aged particularly well (it wasn't that great to start with !) but the music is pure Irish magic. Clannad are one of those groups that keep coming out with music with plenty of character, driven by the pure vocals of Maire Brennan.

3 - Army Dreamers by Kate Bush. Yep, little boys have dreams about what they'll be doing when they grow up and I was no exception. Although with me, that was coloured by living in Northern Ireland until 11 when the Troubles were starting to wind down. Oh, this track could have been the Milky Bar Kid ad tune, as I was as much a lookalike as the Milky Bar Kid lookalike in the video.

Age 11-20 (1985-1994)

4 - We're the Bunburys by Barry Gibb. I was never too good at football at school and rugby was too muddy (although I was devastating on the wing until knee injuries intervened). Cricket was ace, it gave me an outlet for wanting to run around that fit in perfectly with how my body has always been set up : short bursts of intense action with time to recover. Had some happy days with the cricket and collected a few trophies along the way. This track got adopted as one of the unofficial cricket anthems for a while.

5 - Who Wants To Live Forever by Queen. I have special reasons for posting a song with a theme like this ... A toast to memories, may they last forever even if we don't.

6 - More Than The Blues by All About Eve. I'm a huge All About Eve fan but may not have turned into one if not for this song. It's good but not their best (Apple Tree Man, Scarlet, Are You Lonely and many more) but it caught me when it came on the telly live (quite possibly that linked performance). They have a beautiful singer with a voice that's always been one of my favourites. Great songs, great band, amazing singer.

Age 21-30 (1995-2004) - oh wow this is a hell of a decade for me. University, starting work, big relationship and running straight into a traumatic breakup.

7 - Changes by David Bowie. (iTunes claims it's 1999). So many changes ... I went from school and living with the parents to university and surviving with new friends to starting work and very definitely surviving on my own. And then relationship to incoming breakup.

8 - Should be Intense by Alisha's Attic and I can't believe that's not on Youtube anywhere ... This was a fairly intense time, 2 big relationships (I don't go in for small flings, it's all my heart or nothing) plus all the studying for uni. Then needing to find a job after uni and bouncing round the country on placements for the first 2 years of work. Definitely intense. But also fun amongst the heartache.

9 - What Do I Do Now ? by Sleeper. Which was exactly what I was thinking after uni ... There's a curious contrast between Sleeper and All About Eve. Sleeper's singer outshone her band, which did them a lot of damage. All About Eve's singer was a vital part of their band, you thought of them as All About Eve and not Julianne Regan + band whereas Sleeper was definitely Louise Wiener + band. However, Julianne Regan is an infinitely better singer than Louise Wiener. It's curious the way things like that happen.

Age 31-37 (2005-now)

10 - It's All Over Bar The Crying by Garbage. This time started with me running straight into a major relationship breakup, which happened a fortnight after returning from the USA on a holiday of a lifetime type thing. It's incredibly rare that I'm brought to actual tears but this period had me very close to them on many occasions. It's not so much the shock of a "This Is The End" type thing, it's first dealing with the fallout where I had to lean heavily on the support of friends and then looking at a great gaping void where you thought the future used to be.

11 - If There's A Rocket Tie Me To It by Snow Patrol. Yes, I listen to male singers too occasionally! Snow Patrol can come out with a very raw emotional sound and while I don't show mine too much, it's the same under my skin.

12 - Don't Kiss The Broken One by Hannah Peel. Hannah Peel's music makes me grin. And this one kinda sums me up too. Despite thinking there might be something there a few times since the Ravenwolf (aka Evil Ex but I'm burying that codename from now) breakup, it's not been a mutual attraction. Rejection I can handle but I struggle to deal with being ignored, which is what those few times turned into. I also have a habit of chasing the unattainable while completely missing the obvious

31 to 37 too maudlin ? Perhaps I'm still living in 2005 and haven't moved on sufficiently yet. Or it's a reflection of how I'm feeling at the moment - I'm having trouble ignoring a sore back.

Last one - bonus track which sums me up : Still A Weirdo by KT Tunstall :-) And that's : Weird and proud of it.

Wednesday, March 07, 2012

Virtual or reality

It's still amazing how far games have come ...

Hell - that includes all types of virtual environments, which I touched on by mentioning how the models in 2001 look as good now as they did in 1968 when the film first came out. They don't use models any more though, movie graphics get done in computers giving incredible amounts of shininess.

Movies can cheat a little though, as it doesn't matter if it takes an hour to draw every frame if the completed thing isn't going to be on screens for a while. Games on the other hand, depend on getting their images drawn very quickly and the hardware needs to be able to react to what the player is doing.

It's no good having a view like :

If it comes on screen like the computer hamsters have their easel and brushes out, that's no good. Bit like our machines at work at the moment when they do the daily virus scan (which is irrelevant with cloud data anyway). No - a gamer needs the graphics to :

Not slow when things get busy,
Not be too jerky,
And not interfere with the actual game play.

Think of if you're driving and are blinking your eyes closed half the time. It's tough. (Albeit highly tempting with the standard of driving at the moment). That's what poor "frames per second" feels like as a gamer. The world is going on around you but you can only affect it when your eyes are open. To have good playability, games need images like the one above to come at at least 30 frames per second, preferably 60.

Uhoh - think I just detected a trace of philosophy coming from this addled brain. I promise to stop that.

So - you don't really need graphics of the quality above, you need them to keep up with what's happening. But it's awesome when you can have your cake and not have it go straight on your hips. I was quite pleased when Skyrim told me it would be happy on maximum detail with my machine :-).

Here's another pic :

That's from high up in a town called Whiterun, which is located on the top of a hill. It makes for a spectacular view. The detail is incredible too. It puts other games like Star Wars Old Republic to shame, that one looks fairly crude in comparison. Deus Ex Human Revolution looked pretty good too but a key difference there is that DXHR has closed environments, Skyrim is totally open. Those forests over there - you can walk to them.

It also helps that, for a change, it's a Bethesda game that I seem to be getting on with ... I've got bored with their earlier efforts quite early. They allow a lot of bugs to get unleashed in the release versions of their games.

That quality does look awesome though. The wildlife areas are just as detailed and colourful as you might see out in the countryside. Possibly richer colours too cos you can cheat with the contrast on the monitor. With patches, the water looks incredible too. Instead of going for a certain visual style like games like Warcraft do, they're looking for Ultra Real which helps with getting the player immersed in the game. Wonder if that's why SWTOR didn't catch me ?

And you can probably guess what I'm going to be up to very soon ... More Skyrim !

Last thing though - it didn't look good for our hero earlier :
(clicky on the various pics for higher res)

Oh - Real vs Virtual - the view from Whiterun is better than the view from Snowdon. But that's because as we reached the summit, all the fog rolled in hiding the view ! Which is what they used to do in old games, they'd fog away the long distance stuff so the machine wouldn't need to spend time drawing it.

PS If that guard says "but I took an arrow to the knee" again ...

Tuesday, March 06, 2012

Movies - that's a no brainer

With the hyperactivity lately, I've been going up and coming down at total random lately ...

Tonight it's a case of getting the shopping in (I found a place that recycles carrier bags - hurrah!) and then crashing ... Not under the blanket type crashing (would really disrupt my sleep pattern and make me more tired) but I've gone for a movie that in no way will need rational thought. I'm feeling so tired that I'm not even jumping at the explosions. (Not long now until Easter and I'll really need the week off by then)

That reminds me - it's too long since the Crazie Mob went to the cinema, a fact reinforced by me having a pair of Vue vouchers in my wallet that expire at the end of this month ... (Anyone wanna help me use them ?)

So what's on now - even though my brain feels fried and my body wrung out, I'm still in that restless state of needing to do Something. It think it's that fried brain still cooking away. That's a contrast from the hyperactivity - yesterday I had so much energy left over I nearly ran around the block to start conditioning training.

Right - at the moment it's Battle : Los Angeles. Be careful if you buy this, as there's a mockbuster called Battle Of Los Angeles which in no way compares to this one starring Aaron Eckhart and Michelle Rodriguez. It's an action movie of the highest quality : great visuals and unrelenting action. It'll keep you glued if you're a fan of action movies.

Recently I've also watched :

2001 Space Odyssey - This is a must see movie and still looks great 44 years after it was made. They got the science right (it's an Arthur C Clarke!) and what gets put on screen looks as good as what CGI does these days. Trouble is, it also falls into the trap that Arthur C Clarke stories fall into - they're decent stories but there's something missing - reader/watcher involvement. Kinda like a lecture where the lecturer doesn't appear to care if people are listening. The notes and subject may be amazing but his audience is off in the clouds somewhere.

2012 - another of the leave brain with popcorn seller. It's a decent movie, which I'll watch a few times more. But it falls into the AI trap of having too many endings. There's unnecessary bits of story injected that stretch the tale out that little bit more. Decent movie but stretched.

The Day After Tomorrow - another of the awesome visuals. And it's carried really well by Dennis Quaid. I still enjoy this movie even though I've seen it a silly number of times.

RED - this is the comic book derived one with Bruce Willis, John Malcovich, Morgan Freeman and the ever gorgeous Helen Mirren. This is just sheer fun as the watcher is carried along with the Mary-Louise Parker character.

I've been watching more but my brain is at that crispy fried state where I can't remember them ...

And there's a huge amount more in the collection (dvd and bluray) to go !

And tonight's shopping trip just happened to refill the popcorn supply ...

It could well be a couple of Conan movies next (not bought the newest one yet). Love the music from the original Conan.

What to do later - I will definitely be under the shower until the water runs cold (baking my back under the sun would do too but the chances of that are ... slim to remote). But I think gaming would be frustrating in my current state of brain.

Monday, March 05, 2012

Who needs date accuracy anyway

TBB just shared this one on Facebook which made me laugh :



Especially as it's the perfect follow up to yesterday's apocalypse now post :-)

Oh - I'd need another car if an apocalypse came that wiped out the tech. The Lexus is a great car, after 6 months I'm convinced it was one of the best car decisions I've made. But ... one whiff of an EMP and all that tech will go byebye.

Now Chloe in my mum & dad's garage ... That's another matter. Chloe is a Triumph Spitfire Mk3 much like :

(Chloe is a blue one too but hasn't been out of the garage for many years due to crash damage)

In its day, the Spitfire was a direct competitor to the Spridget (Sprite & Midget were effectively the same car) and was a 2 seater convertible quite similar to today's MX-5. It's much more suitable than the Lexus for surviving an apocalypse as the only thing inside with a transistor is the radio (I think it's a transistor radio!). Not quite so sure about it having the room to carry Apocalypse Supplies though and from what I remember, there's not much room for an Anti Zombie Shotgun behind the seats.

It was a great little car though, which makes it time for the picture attribution : You could hire one like it here :-) - Greatescapes.co.uk. Chloe stays in the garage for now, awaiting its rebuild.

PS Since it appeared on FB, that calendar pic seems to have gone viral ...

Sunday, March 04, 2012

Disaster Movie

Been watching a few of these lately ... Yesterday it was 2012, today it's The Day After Tomorrow. I may watch The Core again at some point soon as I find that movie to be huge fun.

Kinda wondering - how would I do if a disaster struck ? I'm thinking of the big ones like asteroid strikes or alien invasion. Hollywood type stuff. Theories say that even if the big asteroid strike was on the other side of the world, there would be an electromagnetic pulse that would disable most of the world's technology. So for my disaster scenario, I'm going to assume that most of the technology we take for granted would be denied us.

Physically, I think I'd be ok. I'm roughly at an ideal weight (with a little ballast that I could draw on) and while I carry the long term injuries, I'm blessed with a kind of natural fitness that let me do the 26 miles + mountain in a day for Snowdon without any preparation. So while I'd need to work up fitness and conditioning to run any significant distance, I can walk forever.

Hell, I could play a full part in a cricket match tomorrow if there was one going. (And then I'd be solid stiff for the next 3 days while my muscles whinged at me)

Injury wise, while they can slow me down, there's nothing needing medication. And I can ignore them when I need to. I can go into a kind of survival mode where I keep myself going despite hurting myself. That's when things happen like Day 1 of a 5 day thing in Brecon Beacons where I slipped on ice and twisted my knee. I was able to keep up with the rest of the people. It was a point of pride for me that I'd carry my own gear instead of inflicting it on the others.

(I think that was lost on the people running the course, same as they didn't believe I could navigate.)

So I don't need any special medications to keep going, although I'd have severe trouble without my glasses.

Navigation without tech isn't an issue - I can read a contour map and translate it into a 3d visual inside my head. I'll then manipulate that visual into seeing where we are. Same with most things really, I'll see something mechanical and visualise it in my head. I can then usually figure out how and why it works. Especially if there's books to work from. One book I have has a person preparing for the end of the world by collecting books on how to do things. If technology goes, there's no internet to look things up on ...

I think I may read Lucifer's Hammer again some day ...

So yeah - I think I'd be able to keep myself going and I think I could figure out how to build things again (given those books). I'd probably be better than I am now, as one of the reasons for my back being stiff is that I don't use it enough.

That's not enough though. Surviving the aftermath of an apocalypse needs a bit more than the physical stuff. It needs courage but not enough that you take daft chances. Because without tech or hospitals, you don't have the backup in case those daft chances end badly. I have a lot of curiosity and that curiosity would bring zombies ...

I'd need to be around other people, mainly to give me the motivation but also as a "you're planning to do what - you're kidding right ?". I'm also more footsoldier than leader.

So yeah :
I think I'd handle it physically,
I could hunt the information I'd need to do stuff out of books,
I can figure things out on my own when I have to,
(did most of the maintenance on my Astra & Fiesta)
But I'd need to be around other people.

Because it's other people that give me the motivation I need to get me doing useful things, instead of just listening to music, watching stuff or gaming. And because I worry about people too, my World View depends on people I care about being happy. So that World View is a little shaky at the moment because two of the people I care deeply about are currently not happy at all ...

Yep - with the right people cheering me on, depending on me or just giving me a smile, I feel I can take on the world.

Thursday, March 01, 2012

The nut ! It moves !

Finally ...

Found a tool that let me budge those rusty nuts ... If only ever so slightly. I've given up on the loo repair for now, as multiple things are conspiring against the lazy solution :

Rusty nuts
Lack of access

(It only took so long before starting the repair because I knew I'd need to have the heating turned off with the mains water and I didn't want to freeze).

It's actually the lack of access that's the killer, a friend at work lent me a pair of small molegrips that managed to turn one of the rusty nuts about 10 degrees. But that was it because, even though they are tiny teeny molegrips, there's just not enough room around the nuts to get a tool in.

So I'll leave it another few days (cos I'm currently sick of the job and am having severe* energy issues right now) for frustration to ease away. Then I'll look seriously at replacement loos and methods of switching them over. I'm pretty confident I can do that job, although I might need a hand with the lifting. All my strength is in my legs, there's not much in my arms.
*(had something at start of the week that bit back - either bad milk or a definite "avoid pizza for like - forever")

Talking of strength ... There's someone out there who is being a total legend at the moment.

Not only is she dealing with an incredibly difficult situation at home and letting no trace of that leak through to work, she's also caught up in what is akin to a custody battle at work. They're moving all the teams around soon ... with my project being one of the ones which is getting moved. We'd like to keep our best people with us though and this lady definitely counts as The Best. She's been one of the reasons our project has been so good to work for over the years.

And, as is common in a lot of custody battles, there are people who aren't playing fair which just makes the situation that much tougher to live through.

I know it's affecting her but you wouldn't notice in how she's keeping going. But she is deserving of all the hugs she can get.

Earlier, I had a look back at the first days of this blog to see how I handled a similar home situation and the answer is : I ran (again). In my case, although initially I reacted ok I was utterly dumbstruck by my partner wanting to move out. I had an idea it was coming, due to a couple of events combined with a growing feeling about it. So when the time came, my reaction was along the lines of "if you love them enough, you have to let them go". But not fighting it doesn't make it any easier, I was hurting a lot and really didn't want to see her again because at a deep level, I felt betrayed. Being hurt makes us do things a saner mind would be horrified at.

Even though I was ready for it, I had trouble adjusting to it and didn't come to terms with that breakup for a very long time. It helped that I have a bunch of awesome friends (and an understanding boss) who were amazing in having the patience to help me through it. I guess I'm still coming to terms with that break up and I need to properly talk it through with someone I trust utterly. (I'd count candidates on the fingers of 1 hand).

Oh - what did I mean by running from it ? I'd just started playing Warcraft together with some friends at work and basically buried myself in work and that game for the next 6 months until my brain nearly imploded on me. The snapping point came when I felt no longer able to do my part as the Guild Leader due to stuff going on.

The friend who's struggling at the moment is most definitely one of those who helped me through that time. Just by being around at work and listening when I needed to babble insanely (I can't actually remember too much of around that time).

And through that listening, she's definitely earned as much time as she asks of me for listening, talking or even just getting away from the stress with a bit of Sleepy insanity. But I'd do that anyway ! That's me - help a friend before sorting out my own stuff :-)

Last thing to post is a picture I've used before :


PS It made me grin reading this post where I first started using codenames, with the Snow Queen promptly guessing it straight away as always. It shows how long my project has been great to work for. And there was 5 years before I started the blog too :-)