Friday, June 29, 2012

I feel like ...

Today's going to be a string of "I feel like ..."

... I should be travelling today.

Not gone back up norf to see the parents for a while. We were intending to head back for Father's Day but various things meant we did separate things. Mum & Dad had a respite (from caring for my nan) weekend, I had the sneaky Le Mans watching weekend. Various things have cropped up again since then, like this weekend's potential travel being canned mostly due to my bugs.

... I should probably go see doctors more. (Nevah!)

Monday was ok with these bugs, although I did start needing to do fake yawns to clear my sinuses and ears. Tuesday and Wednesday were the major handkerchief abuse days, with one or two people questioning why I'd come in. Why ? Cos I ignore illness wherever possible. I'd rather my body be in an active state than feeling miserable in a "I can't do anything - I'm worthless" state.

Being active, for me at least, keeps depression at bay. And if I'm away from a depressive state, I heal better.

... a plague victim

Ok, that's ManFlu-ing what I feel like :-). I still have the cough but it's manageable. I've been keeping very active this week at work (got a problem with gathering too much flexi credit - too many curious puzzles to investigate) but I fully intend to sleep for at least 12 hours. Yes. Deep restorative sleep is probably what the doctor would order (along with pills) and it's definitely what Dr Mad Scientist Sleepy is ordering.

... I'm hopeful that my cricket season isn't over already

When my leg infection started flaring up again, I was thinking "oh no - this is going to develop over the next couple of months - end of season for Sleepy". But it's actually reacted very well to a couple of doses of the Fucidin-H antibiotic/steroid cream. I wouldn't risk it in a game tomorrow but I'm hopeful that the reason it flared was due to my other bugs and that it's turned the corner in recovering.

... I'm in need of focusing on something new.

In the old days, that would be looking out for new games, new books, new tv series.
Games - just finished the latest DXHR play through and have nothing in the collection shouting "PLAY ME!" just now
Books - just devoured Invincible by Jack Campbell and same - looking for something new. I'm reading Firefox (novel of the film) by Craig Thomas to tide me over.
TV series - still got lots on the box to clear but I'm struggling for new stuff to watch. Falling Skies starts up again next week, that'll be worth watching.

Those are all distractions though. What I need to focus on is something far more real than that. And I really don't know where to look to find that at the moment. Been trying to get a picture for an online dating site (yes - really!) for a while now but my camera hates me. It's not recording the same face I see in the mirror. So - no picture yet.

And talking of image ...

... I'm in need of new jeans

I don't think I've worn my jeans for a good few weeks now. I tend to wear jogging type trousers in the evenings and jeans when I'd go out. Work uses suit type trousers or the jeans (smart casual type) on a Friday. Last Friday was different cos I was visiting the contractor's place. Today ? My jeans felt real loose.

And that's a really good thought to have. My jeans are 36" waist, my suit type trousers are 34" waist (stretchy). And the weight is still coming off.

... I should be eating something

Friday's are always a little strange. I like to aim for a half day at work to burn up some of that flexi credit. Last couple of weeks I've been escaping 3.30 ish. And then I have my lunch. So at 10.30pm ish, I've not felt hungry enough for dinner. I've had bigger than average breakfast, very late lunch, nothing since. However, I know I'll need to have something because if I don't, that restorative sleep will be ruined by IBS type acid.

The cookie supply is in danger.

... I need someone looking out for me.

I know a few people do. There's a bunch of people who are repeat readers of this blog (despite the walls of text!), I know you're keeping an eye on me and it's HUGELY appreciated. But it's things like having to take a day off work after the latest head injury and none of the work related people checking up. That really hurt. (Pokey-people excepted!)

Head injury + Living alone = Potential for unexpected serious A&E visit
That's why I got very worried about a colleague who got a bump on the head around Xmas time. If I'd known about that at the time ? Daily "are you ok?" "still ok?" "got bruise to show off?" "does it hurt if you poke it ?" messages. You shouldn't kid around with head injuries. Outwardly minor ones can turn Very Bad, Very Fast and the person with the injury may not be able to get to the help they need to stay alive.

Yeah - if my marbles hadn't been scrambled by being thumped anyway, I was in danger of hitting that Dark Place where you think "no one cares". And the Poke War of 2012 was one thing that kept that at bay.

... I need to avoid that Dark Place

Depression is nasty. If you're prone to it, you'll know what I mean. It acts as a negative feedback loop where if you get caught, every action or lack of action reinforces the depression. I suffer from it but try to keep it internal. It gets really bad news if you allow your depression to hurt other people, because the guilt from that hugely reinforces the depression. Self worth is the key. Anything that attacks that self worth will cripple someone prone to depression. So if I don't achieve my work goals - negative. If I don't feel I matter - negative.

I try and get out of my depressive cycles by grinning at everyone in sight. But it can be tough to raise that grin if you don't think anyone will appreciate it. (Finance Angel K and a few others in the new team are AWESOME for bringing out the grin).

... I've been rambling far too much.

I'd planned for travelling this weekend, so I don't have a huge amount of supplies. But I do have several packets of cookies that are in severe danger. And I'm about to watch Dodger videos which always make me laugh, grin and tear up with laughter.

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Thursday Thirteen - Music

Not done one of these for ages ... either a music post or the old Thursday Thirteen.

Let's do this one around : What have I listened to lately and what am I planning to listen to ? There's so much in my library now that it can be many months before I get a chance to listen to some of what's in there. Which is a shame, cos I'll never get tired of listening to albums like Super Extra Gravity, Arctic Monkeys, Broken Wave, Fur & Gold, All About Eve, Illumina or Scarlet's Walk.

Enough with the preamble ! What were the last albums I listened to ?

1 - Star Wars Episode 1. Ok, it was its turn but it does continue the John Williams tradition that's been a highlight of the Star Wars movies over the years. Here's Duel of the Fates, the signature theme of the prequels.

2 - Goldfrapp - Head First. This is Goldfrapp in boppy style. Have to admit that I think that Seventh Tree is their best but that's just the style of music I prefer to chill out to. Lots of highlights on Head First, including the title track.

3 - Gorillaz - The Fall. Again, not one I think is their best but it's growing on me.

4 - Avril Lavigne - Goodbye Lullaby. Think she got a little too taken with a couple of the tracks on here, my own favourite is Darlin. And the internet is going to be hunting that video maker down for the mortal crime (lol) of bad spelling.

5 - Hannah Peel - Broken Wave. Awesome debut album from the folky stunner. What haven't I linked from this album yet ? I dunno - here's the one that I linked on to Facebook the other day with the caption "I'm pausing everything ! Here's why " : Song For The Sea. It's not just the vocals, it's the interplay with piano and synth.

6 - Ennio Morricone - The Good, The Bad and The Ugly. One of the all time classic film soundtracks. I have the theme as my mobile ring tone. Does it get stares ? Yes. Which is why this is my ring tone (without the gunshots cos that would just freak people out even more). Classic movie too.

7 - Pink Floyd - Relics. This is like a greatest hits from their early days. Pink Floyd changed character drastically between the 60s and 70s and then again in the 80s after Roger Waters went his own way. I prefer 70s Floyd but there were some great songs from the 60s too, including Remember A Day. This version is in remembrance of the author, Rick Wright.

Ok - that's what I've listened to, what's coming up ... Firstly, 3 albums I haven't listened to for way too long :

8 - The Cardigans - iTunes Originals. The iTunes originals albums are essentially greatest hits albums but they also have band interviews woven in. While I avoid rebuying songs as part of greatest hits albums, I have been picking up the iTunes Originals for the interviews. Here's Magnus' favourite song : 03.45am No Sleep which some call sad but for me, it makes me recall nights spent nattering away to the Warcraft people (that's you VR!) until everyone has fallen asleep at their keyboards.

9 - U2 - Rattle And Hum. Ok, they're so mainstream they define mainstream (including cloning their own songs) but I will occasionally listen to them. Not a huge fan but I'll sing along to tracks like All I Want Is You. (Which would kinda make up for singing along to a bad-feelings song when a partner was listening - doh). U2 are ok, they just allow their egos to make them say daft things and that turns me off them.

10 - Tori Amos - Scarlet's Walk. Another one I mentioned up top :-) This one is filled with cracking songs including the title track (so wanna link I Can't See New York again - doh!).

And yes - that was me looking for an excuse to sing along to I Can't See New York again :-) (Bugs are improving)

Last 3 for this one - albums I haven't listened to enough yet :

11 - Adam & The Ants - Kings of the Wild Frontier. This album's a classic, with the title track being the strongest.

12 - Aimee Mann - Lost In Space. Bit mainstream again but that voice makes up for it. Here's Pavlov's Bell.

13 - Edie Brickell - Volcano. As Edie says it, "This song's called Once In A Blue Moon."

And I'll leave it there for tonight - have a good evening everyone :-) If any Thursday Thirteeners spot this, leave a comment and I'll add you a link below. I've not been keeping a close eye on Thursday Thirteen host sites but I'll take a peek in a minute.

Linkbacks :
1 - Colleen's Thursday Thirteen.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Classic films that no one saw ...

This is another from the Facebook status update collection ...

"question - what do you call a film that everyone has but which no-one would call a classic ? Thinking of things like Avatar or Clash of the Titans (either) which most people will have but you'd never put them with classics like Fifth Element or Arnie's Conan."

The real question is : What films have you got that other people SIMPLY MUST OWN. Or which films are the ones where you'll wear the dvd out given chance. However ... they can't be films everyone has, they have to be the rarer or unusual ones.

From my own collection (and I haven't watched most of these enough), I'd offer :

The Dish. (all links will be IMDB) This is about the first Apollo moon landing and a collection of people in Australia who supported getting pictures and communications back from the lunar lander. Lots of quite strange but very charming characters and it's been way too long since I watched it.

Galaxy Quest. Ok, maybe not so rare but it's still a classic great film in a way things like Starship Troopers won't be. ST is a classic cos it's bad, Galaxy Quest is a classic cos it's a great take on the Star Trek world. And was this really 1999 ? I thought I watched this in the cinema with the Crazies !

Outlander. Came out at a bad time but was a well realised scifi action thriller with an excellent monsta. Oh and it also had the good enough to eat Sophia Myles. (Unless that is you're a monsta with bad taste)

Evolution. Ok, this could be seen as pretty dire with a phoned in performance by David Duchovny. But it was also great fun. And that's what entertainment should be : fun.

Mars Attacks!. But only because it had me in stitches from the opening credits to the end of the movie.

Red Sonja. I'd rate this movie higher than the Arnie Conan. And the Arnie Conan is an all time classic.

Spirited Away. This is an anime movie from Hayao Miyazaki. Utterly charming, great story. And how the hell has the dvd managed to stay in its shrink wrapping ???!!!?

I'll finish off with the Dark Crystal. Possibly the best thing to ever come out of the Jim Henson puppet factory.

There's others in the collection that I'd regard as classics - they're not here though cos ... everyone's got Fifth Element by now haven't they ? lol :-)

Anyone got any more to add ? First ask - how rare is this film ? My list of favourite films would include films like Ultraviolet, Blade, Red, Hanna, Battle: Los Angeles, Roland Emmerich movies and a bunch of others but ... they miss this list because they will be too popular.

Last thought - the Galaxy Quest motto of "Never give up, Never surrender" is a great motto to live by.

PS After getting worried over the last couple of days, I might be back in the cricket earlier than I thought ... Leg has improved nicely today :-) Still have my chest bugs though, so I couldn't have played in tonight's game even if the leg was ok.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Buggy Randoms

Meh. Very meh. Been bugged today. I seemed to be ok yesterday (outside of having to yawn to clear my sinuses) but today I've been struggling.

It's just manflu really and I can hyperactive my way through it but it does take its toll on my handkerchief supply, the patience of the people around me {sneeze!} and I don't think as clearly when I have bugs. But as soon as I get into my Tunnel Vision by getting my teeth into something for work, I don't notice. Hell, I sneeze so much anyway that I rarely notice coughing from actual illness.

However - the same bugs that are in my head, chest and nose seem to also be in my legs :-(.

I'll happily ignore a cold but I can't ignore the legs deteriorating again. Left leg (the bad one from last year) is fine, couple of bad bits but nothing to worry about. The right leg started leaking again, which is something I can't ignore. Especially as the leaky bit overlaps where my knee protectors have to go.

So no cricket for a little while until it gets under control again. It's actually not too bad (a couple of bad bits about the size of 5p coins) but I don't want what happened last year to happen again - where the bad skin got as big as the palm of my hand. (Before you gasp too much, I have little hands)

I suspect the same bugs attacking my nose are also having a go at my legs. Perhaps I should be in a :
Because part of why it's flared up is because I can't leave it unscratched.

That's enough about the leg (for now though)

Tennis players - before turning over to the cricket, I watched the close of the Murray vs Davydenko match at Wimbledon. It took me back to the Size & Shape post with the thought being - I don't want to be the shape of a GP driver, I'll be the shape of a tennis player. As in :

Huge leg speed and agility to get around the court
No excess weight to slow them down
And enough arm strength to sort out rusty nuts and jamjar lids.

Noticed a quirk with my car over the 2 long runs this week and last. It's a proper hybrid, so it can run on either its engine or its motor or both together. Above 45mph, the engine always has to be on because of speed limits on the motor. However ... that doesn't mean the engine has to be going quickly. Normally at 70, the engine will be spinning at 2000-3000rpm, higher revs if you're going up hill or charging the battery. It'll settle to a 2000rpm cruise which is extraordinarily low for a petrol engine.

Unless you're on a downslope ... Enough of a downslope will make it think "I don't need my engine to help" and it'll disengage the engine and set it to idle. It's not quite as subtle with that as with its other Engine -> Motor -> Engine -> Both transitions ... It was kinda "wtf is my car doing" disconcerting when I first noticed it. It's a bit like dropping a manual gearbox car into neutral at 70mph with no throttle.

And of course, you know me - now I know there's a funny quirk, I'm trying to reproduce it wherever possible.

Cricket - think I've jinxed one of my sides. In the first game for them this year, I paid twice cos of lack of change in a "it won't matter after next week's game". Not played for them since ...

Finally - gotta send a hug to someone I know is going through a rough time at the moment with depression. I'm teetering on a depressive cycle at the moment too, due to the bugs and the leg. I'd hoped the leg infection problem was behind me, so seeing it develop again over the past week is ... meh. Very meh.

Everyone could do with a hug. I could do with a hug.

But for now I'll settle for dinner ... (guess who's dinner bell is going nuts!)

Monday, June 25, 2012

Stay Frosty

I've been reading Tomshardware again.

"NOOOO!!!!" I hear you cry ? Well, it's actually a sensible article about something that could give us back some of the potential that gets baked out of our computer bits.

Here's the article - it's about a curious development in cooler technology.

This Acer laptop has been pretty good in its 2.5 years. It's stayed reliable, whereas the HP it replaced died in under a year (funnily enough - cause of death was cooler failure). It handles all I throw at it, which includes photo editing, iTunes streaming, web browsing, messenger, email and other stuff. It's my main Office type PC. However ... where it's started to struggle is video playback.

BBC iPlayer - seems fine actually :-)
Youtube up to 360p - is fine too
Youtube at 480p and above - works ok for a few minutes, then really struggles
(480p and other bigger numbers mean more pixels for a sharper image)
ITV and other streaming video - struggles

It's a reasonable spec laptop - Athlon II X2 M300 that is supposed to run at 2GHz. However, for battery saving and apparently heat limits, it'll cut itself back to 800MHz if it needs to. I'm not asking it to do much at the moment (Blogger's editor is quite cpu hungry) so it's not getting too warm.

Ok. So back to these revolutionary coolers.

Why Should We Care ?

The reason why this laptop struggles with higher res video is that it pushes the machine a bit too hard. More work for a PC means it gets hotter. My desktop runs cool but will go 25+ degrees C warmer when it's pushed hard. The internet video pushes this laptop so hard that I believe it's bouncing off its heat limits.

It slows itself down to avoid cooking itself. And the video playback goes choppy.

With the desktop, cooling isn't a problem. There's enough space in a desktop case to put a massive cooler in to keep it cool and quiet. I used the bigger version of this Zalman cooler at Novatech that just about fit in the box. You can't use anything like that in a laptop. Space is very tight and it needs cleverness to package everything in.

So if you can get a cooler in there that's way more efficient for its size, you can keep the machine cool enough to do what you want it to.

And that means we get our video playback as it was meant to be :-)

PS I'm back to wondering if I'll be playing cricket again this summer. Not cos of the weather - more the legs. My left leg was the bigger problem last year, that's ok. It's my right leg where the weak and leaky skin problem seems to be coming back. I suspect I need a Cone Of Shame !

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Thinking about - size and shape

I'm almost at that avatar change thing I've been mentioning as a diet target :-)

The target was to not just dip under 13 stone when I'd starved myself for a day but to be under that mark consistently. And I'm there now :-) Pretty soon I'll get that camera out and turn my "Feed Me" Pocket Dwagon into something I can use as an avatar.

(Btw - if anyone's looking to get me presents, my birthday's in November and I still have lots of space for Pocket Dwagons. Just sayin')

What everyone needs to have is an idea of what size and shape they want and need to be. From that, follows what kind of diet they need to be following and what exercise they need to do. Doing the diet and/or the exercise "because that's what everyone else does" is a Really Bad Idea. It has to be based on things like :

What can I eat ? Ethics/Health considerations come in there
What exercise can I do ? I break if I train too much
What exercise is the right kind ? It may not suit your target
What am I trying to do ? Being too active will cause physical hell later
Am I trying to fight my body's natural shape ? The "starved" look is so unattractive

When I made the choice to start the diet, I'd just gone to a puffy 14 stone 2-3lbs and I had 2 target weights.
13 stone - would see me super fit with stronger arms joining my power legs. Note - that's not "popeye" arms or the butch look that rugby players have because gaining too much muscle would lose me speed and quickness.
11-12 stone - would hopefully see my upper body and face get a lot tighter and less fat/puffy. But without losing any power in my legs. Still got a way to go there.

Incidentally, that hated Body Mass Index calc reckons my 13 stone is 26.88 (Normal-Overweight boundary is 25) and 12 stone would be 24.8. Perhaps 12 stone should be my sensible target considering the speed I want to retain in my legs.

I'm getting sidetracked aren't I ? This post really comes from looking at other people and thinking : "Is that the shape I want to be ?" and the person that really started me thinking was a young chap sitting outside KFC longingly peeking at my fillet burger. He must have been 6 feet plus and obviously worked out. At least occasionally because he had that soft "bigger than he needs to be" that differentiates athletes from those who go to the gym to fit in.

He was bigger than he needed to be. His whole reason for going to the gym would have been to fit in with what the norm appears to be. He wouldn't have had a target for what he needed or wanted to look like. He might be technically fitter than me but if he walked onto a cricket field, he'd be the uncoordinated unskilled mess while I'd be running rings around him.

From my own past, I can think of 3 series of conventional and unconventional training :
Unconventional - paper round. This had me bursting round the block pounding away walking with a bag full of papers. Out of that I gained aerobic fitness plus power legs. I've still got the power legs ... and the weak knees that were damaged by that excess power.
Unconventional - biking to uni. This gave me stomach muscles :-) I'd never had those before and when it came to net practice for the next season, I couldn't bowl. Yeah, I had muscle ... but totally uncoordinated and uncontrolled muscle. Took a while to figure out how to manage them and when I did, I broke the shoulder (unconnected incident).
Conventional - weekly circuits. These were aimed at gaining endurance but all they achieved was to train away my speed while gaining me no endurance.

Sometimes unconventional training is what works. For my part now, I can't do much normal training (cos I break) but I aim to avoid taking lazy ways out. That means taking stairs instead of the elevator or the lift.

I was looking again at people's sizes during the Grand Prix coverage earlier. GP drivers look quite weedy. There's not much to them. I bet they weight maybe 11 stone if that. Yet they run triathlon for fun outside of controlling a car at 200mph for 2 hours withstanding upwards of 5g. They're superfit and aim for a specific shape that lets them be superfit while not being too heavy. Lightness is an advantage.

Similar with the cricket (England v W Indies T20 on telly at the moment) - there's all sizes and shapes in cricket. Little lads are better in the field, big lads whack the ball further. Fast bowling needs height and good arms, spin bowling - not so much.

I'm aiming for the GP driver + legs look :-) But to do that, I'd need to do considerably more training than I do now to sort out my upper body. However, I'm much happier with my look than that lad at the Mall who's locking himself into an "Eat Lots, Exercise Lots, Struggle Lots later" cycle.

For other people ?

Be how you are most comfortable. Don't let yourself be bumped out of your comfort zone by people who think everyone should be unhealthy stick insects. The most attractive people are the confident people, the people who are comfortable with who and how they are. And that goes for Tall People (being stretched can make them elegant), Little People (they make up for height with personality), Wide People (more of 'em to hug). But it's really what's inside that's so important. What shape someone is outside has little to do with what they're like as a person. I tend to look straight past the outside and see people as they really are.

I'm much more comfortable with the way I am now compared to this time last year. And that's measurable too by my trouser waist size being back to what it used to be, plus a new jacket being a size smaller too. But I'm still either not there yet or cameras are lying to me. I've been trying for ages to see if I can get a decent picture of me - no joy yet.

What I'll close on though is we tend to be our own worst judge with our weight. We'll lie to ourselves and say we're too fat when we've got skinny or thin enough when we're still carrying excess. That's where we need to find people we trust to tell us what we need to hear ;-)

Friday, June 22, 2012

Gonna buy a hat ...

I was being amused today ...

The people at our main office know I'm a bit strange but because I don't get out enough, the contractor people miss out on the strangeness.

Can't have that !

So the people at our main contractor office were giving me lots of weird looks when I was putting the hat back on in prep for making the dash from canteen to office with a big thing of coffee. (What's the best word for those cardboard coffee holders ? They're not cups or mugs ...)

Question - is it a strange looks because they think it's unusual or because they're actually going "why didn't I think of using a hat ?"

Normal people use umbrellas or raincoats. I don't hold with that. It's another example where people follow what everyone else does without thinking : Does this actually work ?

Lol :-)

Umbrella - wind like this, small people with umbrellas are going for flying lessons. And it better be a strong brolly too or it'll be an inside out brolly.
Raincoats ? People with raincoats always seem to end up wetter than those without them. It was certainly true for the Snowdon trip, with the people with (admittedly cheap looking) raincoats looking extremely bedraggled by the summit with one needing to borrow my gloves due to circulation trouble in her fingers. I was fine in t-shirt plus hat but then again, I do generate too much heat when I'm active.

I go for a hat to keep off the rain. I learn from wise people who are also : Gonna Buy A Hat (youtube link for Chris Rea song)

I learned early with cricket that baseball caps do nothing to keep your glasses dry when it rains. The rain just comes in from the side. Similar with the sun - if you're looking into the sun, a cap is fine. If the sun is to the side, you need a hat to shade it. Same with rain. Hats are awesome. Need a Fez. Fezzes are cool. (Yes, I am channelling 11th Doctor there)

I actually have more hats and caps in the house than I have shoes :

Rain hat - this one's green and properly waterproof :-)
Main cricket hat - white and floppy and airy
Lords cricket hat - sadly just the wrong size and tweaks my depth perception
Old purple hat - reminding me to respect the ball
Rotherham playoff cap - from the Wembley playoff final in 2010.
Pink Cricket Cap :-)
Work project cap - this must be >10 years old now :-) Still got it
Grumpy cap - may have to wear this in a game some time for the larfs

Wonder if I have more that I've forgotten about. In contrast, I only have 4 active pairs of shoes that I wear until they break or wear out :
Work shoes
Running trainers - need some new ones as they're giving up on me
Old running trainers - retired from active service but still good for slipping on to head to local shop/pizza/chinese
Cricket spikes

Anyway yeah - been a busy week this one all told, I've been putting so many hours in lately that I have a whole 2 days worth of flexi working hours credit. Just can't get rid of it. It was topped off today by a visit to the local contractor office :-).

People move on but I still have lots of friends over there who always grin and say hello when they spot me coming over. I try to keep a sense of humour in all my dealings with other people. It can get a little strained but hopefully the contractor people see me as someone who works hard to figure out the best way around a problem while still keeping a sense of humour about it.

A lot of people totally lose their sense of perspective about problems, either focusing on the wrong problem or winding people up the wrong way and losing their cooperation.

Where was I ?

Yeah - reinforcing that idea that I'm just that little bit different from everyone else :-)

Although I am going to be conventional this weekend and boringly sensible. Plan A was to head off to the parents for the weekend for a delayed Father's Day meet up. However, my sister will be marshalling a swimming event (actually equestrian but with this weather ? pack the waterwings) so we're holding off a bit. Instead I'll be catching up on stuff while there's not much sport on this weekend.

Unless someone has a better idea that is :-) Says the coffee fiend who'd love the excuse to escape the house for a bit.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

So I'm looking for that Facebook status update ...

And somewhere from a deviant recess in my mind comes :

"should have been wrapping my hands around something hard, woody, pink, 11 inches long and covered in rubber tonight. But I ended up getting a cold shower instead"

Perfectly innocent explanation officer ... honest :-)

Here we go :
Small confession - last night I did have my hands wrapped around something pink, hard and wooden ... We were scheduled to have another game tonight, which fell victim to the weather extremely early ... But I did a little bit of prep work for it last night.

One of the ways cricketers customise their gear is to put extra grips on their bats. More grips on top of others makes the handle a different size. I prefer having 2 and a half grips, with my preferred bat already having a handle shape that makes that half a grip.

I had been using the same orange grip as countless seasons before but my batting has been rubbish this year. That kinda called for a sacrifice. Enter the pink bat grip. I'm already using the Pink Cap for fielding :
But I had no pink stuff for batting in. Hence a minor switch in gear in search of a change of luck.

No joy with the weather though. The "cold shower" from the Facebook update was what I got walking between the office and where I'd parked the car. Absolute, horrid, torrential rain. Tonight's game was cancelled early this morning, considering it was due to be played on an artificial wicket shows how heavy the rain has been.

Bit of cricket info - to get those bat grips on needs special or not so special tools.

What you do is roll them up into a donut/torus shape and then roll the donut down the handle of the bat. Trouble is, the donut likes to squish down really small. The one I took off the bat has a hole in the middle that's barely big enough to put my finger in. However, you need to get the rolled up grip over a handle that's an inch in diameter.

Hence the tool in the first picture. It's a "proper" bat gripping tool, in other words it's a conical bit of wood that fits over the handle. Roll up the grip on the tool, fit the tool over the bat handle, roll the grip on to the bat. Jobs'a good'un.

Or you can just use a similarly tapering fitting from a vacuum cleaner. (Vacuum cleaner pipes are roughly the same size as a cricket bat handle - Spooky.)

As long as you don't do that when your mum is looking ...

PS Talking of pink stuff - CQ's Race For Life is still hungry for donations and our Thumper's going for the San Fran Avon Walk soon.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Show me the money ...

Or what's actually the object of the advertising.

I'm listening to The Game Station podcast at the moment, or at least the Video On Demand youtube video of the one last week. One of the main topics so far has been E3, which is an entertainment expo. It's supposed to be a trade show where the industry people take their bits and pieces and show them off to journalists and trade people in the hope of getting interest.

The journo's have gotten very cynical about how useful it is. The presentations tend to be canned footage of what are supposed to be games. It's an interactive art form, or at least it's supposed to be. What it really should be is something you can play with. It doesn't have to be complete, sometimes doesn't have to be stable. But it needs to give at least some confidence that there's a game hiding in there somewhere.

I've got quite cynical over the years about games as well. Too often we get shovelled incomplete garbage that's broken.

The main ways of selling games tends to be :

Tits & Arse - yeah, I'm interested - I'm a normal red blooded male. But not in a game. Some stuff is for real life, some stuff is for pixels. Tits & Arse are far better in real life than in pixels. Keep your booth babes, keep the softcore porn adverts, it doesn't add anything to the game.

Canned video - keep it. It doesn't tell me anything about stability (the most frustrating thing in gaming is when it crashes out) or gameplay. One of my criticisms of Skyrim is that the quest system railroads you into doing things you don't want to do. The only way to avoid becoming a cannibal is to ignore the quest.

Still screenshots allegedly from the games - come on ! It's photoshopped. If the game looks great, put it up on a big screen driven by a live demo.

There was an exception from E3. The Totalbiscuit coverage of Planetside2 has convinced me that it's a game to be very interested in. It ignored the T&A and Canned Video presentation routes and went for live gameplay. Ok, over a limited area but :

Live servers
Many players
Claimed "alpha" state but beta level feature level

It passed the tests of "looks great", "gameplay is something I'd be interested in", "will deliver the promises". Canned videos like XCom don't give that, actual demos do in a "You say this works : PROVE IT" way.

How is that relevant outside the games world ?

Last year, when I was looking at cars, I wrote something about looking around the Bristol Motor Show. (Here's the link). There was a bit of variance in how the car people went about things :

Lexus - come see ! Have a seat, let us tell you how awesome we think our car is
Ford - good cars, open to look at but not much interest from the staff
Alfa - some good, some bad - but still open for checking out
VW & Audi - locked cars with no one in attendance

Are they scared of people checking out their stuff ? That's the only explanation for that disinterest. It didn't give me any cause for visiting the Audi garage for sure. Can't remember seeing Honda there but they fell down with the interest level at their garage. It was basically zero interest in selling a sporty hybrid coupe to a young professional male.

I'm the target audience for the CR-Z ! Why no interest from the sales people !

And there's me in danger of ranting again.

It's a more cautious world these days. We don't have as much money available as we used to. We have less disposable free time. There's more quality competition. If you're wanting to sell something to us, make us think that you believe that our time is valuable.

Still rambling today. I'm pretty bashed feeling after yesterday. But what made me think "wow, I'd like to write more like that" is reading one from 3 years ago (someone randomly found it and I got curious). It's me writing nice things about someone very special. Sadly I didn't hear from her again - but I can remember how I felt when I wrote it.

Think head over heels. I've had possibility of that feeling a couple of times over the past year or so but not lately. But I'd love to have it back again. It's that feeling that someone matters more than life ... and that they might feel the same about you. Not had that feeling for a while.

There's a distance between "possibility" where you might have the head over heels feeling and where you realise that the other party might be completely oblivious. I didn't believe that the BYT / Miss AB who left us 3 years ago was oblivious (woulda loved to hear from her again) but I've had that from others.

Maybe they've been waiting for something :-)

I'm waiting for something - this episode of NCIS to finish and then I'll be in the shower washing out some of yesterday's tiredness.

PS Another thing that cheered me up today - Finance Angel K spotting me walk by with teacake -> Smile + "Hello Pete!", which led to a cascade of "Morning" "morning", "Allo", "mornin'", "Wotcha" and so on and so on as that smiling Hello Pete ended up in me saying hello to half the office. Next step - I need to learn their names ... :-)

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Lords today

Various Facebook updates from today, while I was attempting to ration the batteries on the phone ...

Smart phones are great - but they really need to be doubled up on battery capacity. It used to be that I could be lazy with charging up the phone. Maybe charge it every few days. Smartphones though, need to be on charge every night and even then it can be doubtful that they'll make it through the day.

Very long day today. Up and out the door at 6.15am and off up the road to a team mate's house to pick him up (spookily close to where Craziequeen lives).

Next is 2.5 hours down the road to London where we make the switch to the Underground. London has an excellent mass transit system. It's far more efficient to use the Underground than it is to drive into the centre. Just park on the outskirts and ride the tube in. It not only lets you avoid traffic carnage, it can be cheaper too, with outskirts car park + tube tickets being cheaper than an all day city centre car park ticket.

And then it's Lords. Home of cricket. And the finest cricket stadium in the world.

Here's the view from the Pavilion :
I took a couple more which have appeared on Facebook but they're not so good. That's the media centre at the far end, with us on the top tier of the Lords Pavilion. Great view but the atmosphere was better in that stand you'll see over to the left.

RN were up against the Army first, didn't see much of this one but it ended up as a super tight game. A bit of sloppy fielding right at the end allowed the scores to finish tied. RN won on countback.

Next was Army vs RAF, with the RAF taking a heap of early wickets leading to a very low score by the Army. They got battered, setting up a RN vs RAF showdown.

Talking point from the last game was a superb catch on the boundary, where a RAFman took a catch diving forward. Most of the crowd thought he let it bounce ... Cue FB update of "Silly RAFman. He has incurred Wrath Of Crowd." And we got on his back for the rest of the game :-)

RAF took the honours in the end, with their opening bowler smashing the ball around with the bat. It's a shame when that happens really, cricket is supposed to be a team game but one player so far ahead of his team got them the win.

Home and tired now and I think I've caught the sun :-) Have to see how that ends up tomorrow morning.

PS The event was the Interservices Twenty 20 tournament, which is an annual thing. Third time for me today :-)

Monday, June 18, 2012

Monday Mayhem

Feels like it's been mayhem today.

I don't think it has really but that's the way it feels. We're at a stage in the project where we're seeing the skeletons we buried in cupboards ages ago start to rattle their bones. No decision is perfect. Whatever you buy, something will come along later and make you think "What if we'd gone a different route ?" "What if we'd thought of this back then ?"

And on really complex projects like our's, there can be a few of those skeletons around. What's important is :

Knowing you've delivered something awesome (and we have)
Knowing that you've got an excellent team that sort out the issues
Knowing that the early decisions that got made, got made for the right reasons

From my own engineering, I know a lot more about building PCs now than I did 15 years ago. I made a lot more Good decisions with this desktop than I did the last one and the one before that. However, my car knowledge has gone a little backwards as we've got more insulated from what our cars do.

Where'd that come from ? We've been investigating some of those skeletons so we can properly sort them out. Duct tape does fixes but we want Proper Job Fixes, not duct tape bodges.

Picture !
I actually feel a bit worried about people I see who I think are too skinny. There were Lexus ladies in the garage on Saturday, both were on the thin side. One was too thin (or was wearing stuff that was too tight), one looked thin cos she was quite tall.

Yep - I get worried about thin people. Are they starving themselves in order to fit an image that just isn't right for them ? Are they causing themselves health problems because they aren't eating enough of the right things ? A starved, hollow look just isn't attractive.

What is attractive is how confident people are in their own skin. And that can be Big People, Little People, Medium People, Skinny People, Chunky People. While I'd still describe myself as Chunky, I'm a lot happier now with the way I look than I was a year ago when I was a stone heavier. That's from being able to move better, although I wasn't happy in the early stages of the diet because a side effect of changing was that my muscles were tending to cramp up more.

I know a couple of young ladies who are both on the short but very large side. One projects an attitude of "The world hates me". The other projects bubbly, confident, fun. Guess which one I find myself asking "who dat ?" and which one I avoid so the "world hates me" doesn't become catching ... (both of those are "first mention"s here and only 1 reader is likely to know 1 of them)

Dodger of DexBonus put in an awesome vid yesterday for cheering yourselves up. There's a lot of beauty out there. It just needs a chance to break out past those preconceptions on what size and shape we should be.

I miss cakes. I'm at a stage in my diet where I can eat what I like. The trick is that I've managed to change "what I like" into something that has me munching the snack food in moderation instead of gluttony. Oh !

That takes me to shopping tonight. Mall trip tonight was aimed at getting a few things : Jacket for Lords so I could see inside the pavilion. Cash. Snack food for car. But this will be the last time I go to Morrisons for a while (I nearly put my shopping back so I could go to Asda instead). I don't normally keep snack food in the car but Minstrels are really good for it. E numbers to keep you awake. Chocolate for energy. Shells so they don't melt in the packet.

I like Minstrels.

But I've managed to alter my thinking so I don't devour a packet of Minstrels a night. I'll ration the munchies. And that's one secret of the diet I've been following :

Eat what you like - but in moderation. Treats are an excellent motivational device. You shouldn't deny yourself them completely. Just keep them as occasional bonus munchies so they're special, instead of boring cos you have that packet of Giant Buttons every night. (I would if I could get away with it) Especially if they're of the quality we got from Snow Queen & Co !

PS This is definitely me hoping that my favourite iPhone based visitor spots this and lets me know the next time there's cakes :-) ! :-)

Sunday, June 17, 2012


I think my brain is anticipating tiredness. It tends to do that kinda like getting it out the way for when I'm going to be doing a heap of stuff.

Work's going to be busy over the next week, plus :

Mall tomorrow night cos I need to pick up a few things
Lords trip on Tuesday which will be a long day
Avoiding getting too many munchies on Wednesday
And lots of driving to do next weekend

Lords on Tuesday will either be frustrating or fun. If it rains like last year, there will be a fair bit of frustrating waiting around for play. But at least we won't have the annoyance of having to head home while play was still happening. Last year we were like : "Seriously ? We have to go home now because the coach driver has to be in bed soon ?" Something about working hours in a day and daft legislation. I can understand the legislation type aspect of it but not enough to go by the same travel plans this year.

It'll be :
Pick up a mate from the work team,
2 hours down the motorway to an underground station,
1 hour inc walking to get to the ground,
Chill out all day to cricket,
Repeat the travel in reverse to get home.

I'll hopefully have enough juice in my phone to allow pictures to be taken throughout the day for adding to Facebook and then I can pick out the odd one for here. (That's actually the easiest way to move photos from phone to laptop, although I suppose I could connect them up via USB).

Tiredness could partly down to sleep. It took far too much time to get off to shuteye last night due to accumulated rubbish in my lungs. They're still not clear yet. Maybe I need to get that vacuum out again or another way of clearing the air. Or it could well be that I'm ill and doing my usual thing of not noticing. There's a bug been going around that's been causing coughing plus loss of voice and my voice has been struggling lately too. Hopefully I'll get off to sleep easily tonight instead of wondering if I'll cough up a lung.

This has all been cricket + tired so far hasn't it ?

It's been a weird weekend. The only music I've listened to was on Friday night and Saturday morning on the way to Cheltenham. Lots of sport on the telly. Great Le Mans weekend, although I missed a trick : I could have raided Tescos while the safety car was out for the Anthony Davidson incident and not missed racing time. It would have been good to see the Toyota's stay in a while longer to make it interesting with the Prototype racing but the GT Amateurs kept it competitive right to the last 30 minutes of the race.

Good win by England yesterday dodging the weather. The rains are back today. I'm thinking about heading down to Taunton for a game or two as well to see Somerset play. They had a close win today over Northants, managing to avoid the rain.

Spam :-( Although you don't see it from the outside, I've been getting more and more spam comments attempted. Google does a good job of trapping them, although 1 or 2 have slipped by. I'm not going to reactivate the hated word verification (ad blockers interfere with it plus it's NASTY) but I have been forced into disabling anonymous comments. Which I'm quite sad about, partly cos I know there's someone out there who comments only as Anonymous and I've love to see more comments from there (even if she does kick my butt with them!).

Comments in general - I'd love a bit of feedback :-) Give me ideas for stuff to talk about. Tell me where I might be upsetting people so I can try and make amends.

Last thought for today - started reading Lost Fleet BYF : Invincible yesterday when in the Lexus garage and I'm already 150 pages in. Authors develop over their careers and Jack Campbell definitely has. The Lost Fleet books are pretty darn good. They're well paced and keep you up with the action while giving the occasional chance to draw breath. His earlier Stark's books aren't so good, I was struggling my way through Stark's Command before going away from books for a while.

Hopefully I won't be reading lots of Invincible on Tuesday ! Will finish the current run through of Deus Ex HR (so Steam can tell me how many hours it took) and then I'll give the game a rest for a while and hammer the books instead.

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Come on Batmobile !

Had the next phase of my Lexus experience this morning - interim service day for my CT.

It's actually a little late, as I should have got it done about 2 months and 2000 miles ago. I just wasn't feeling like getting it done at the time and then cricket season came along, making it awkward for thoughts of getting to Cheltenham in the evening.

Where was I ? It's definitely a different ownership experience having a Lexus. They treat you like a valued customer instead of pointing and laughing at the latest person to go through the sheep dip. Anyway. First service day today so it's off up the road to Cheltenham. I could go local ... but the nearest Toyota garage is another that tried to screw me over with "Yes you need your 1 year old brake discs replaced".

Lexus make some really good cars. They're not the fastest, the biggest or most economical (not cheap either) but they are Different by going their own way and have huge amounts of quality included. And they make some quite pretty cars too : IS-C convertible.

Very shiny. I suspect that's the car my sister would quite like to have now. She got forced into replacing her MR-2 a little earlier this year before the MR-2 fell to bits underneath her. The Saab 9-3 TDI convertible she got ticks all the boxes for company car type benefits :

Extra seats
Turbo Diesel for all the extra miles
Speed (it has a Proper turbo instead of one that just cleans up the exhaust)
And it's been around long enough to get cheap enough

But - it's not an MR-2 so the honeymoon period of the 9-3 was short. Incidentally, my CT is still well and truly in its honeymoon period. Awesome car. I caught another victim of the Trademark Sleepypete Grin, as I had a little peek at an IS-C in the showroom before passing on the "Sister shoulda got one of these" to a blonde lady pretty enough for me to have to say it twice due to tripping up on the words on the first attempt. Sadly the IS-C is a little too new to be in price range plus the running costs (CO2 and mpg) are much higher than the Saab.

Was away from the garage early enough to be able to listen to cricket commentary (Tune In Radio on Android is a cracking app) and back home early enough to catch the start of the Le Mans 24 hour race.

Enter the Batmobile :
(Nissan pic nabbed from a article)

Gorgeous innit ? Bit different to your average F1 car or Sportscar Prototype. Sadly though it might not get much more running in during this Le Mans due to having been eaten by a Toyota.

If you catch any Le Mans coverage this year, you'll definitely catch the big incident involving one of the Toyotas ... There's going to be far too much said about that so I'll : moving swiftly on ...

Sky taking over some of the F1 coverage has made me look a bit more at the commentators. Now there's a choice, which one do you listen to ? It's like the cricket where you have :

Sky commentary - by the numbers, good quality but take themselves seriously
Test Match Special - they accurately portray the game without the benefit of pictures but have a ball doing so. If I could, I'd listen to TMS commentary with Sky pictures. That doesn't work though because of delays that mean the commentary would be before or after the pictures.

Motorsports is similar, except that both F1 commentator groups take things very seriously. They forget to pass on that they're enjoying the racing, if they are actually enjoying the racing.

Eurosport on the other hand ... They seem like the Test Match Special of motorsport commentary. I've been happily chortling away to them all day, especially now I have it on the big telly (cricket was hogging it earlier). It helps that they know what they're talking about too, as they are current or ex racing drivers who also have the gift of being able to pass on what they're seeing to the viewer.

They're being hugely entertaining. They're not at the race track to get stamps on their passport and a sun tan, their job is to keep the viewers in the picture and to make them smile. And the Eurosport commentators are doing a cracking job on both points.

I hear there's football on as well today.

PS Charity links : there's a Race For Life that needs your support and a Pink Haired Thumper who I owe £5 of Pink Hat bounty to.

Friday, June 15, 2012

It's not just cricket

You can have fun with old cliche settings.

When people hear them, it's guaranteed a groan. But if you say them slightly wrong ;-)

Had the excuse to do one of those on Wednesday (or was it Tuesday - da days are blurring). Running into someone, again, getting a big smile (as always) before rushing off in our different directions led to me sending the message across :

"We mustn't stop meeting like this"

Didja see what I did there ? And then I promptly ruined it with something about not wanting to fix the typo. Nooo ! Make that "we must keep meeting like this" :-). I come out with as many Shoot Self In Foot daft comments as I do daft comments that make people grin.

Anyway - there's a few people who the phrase "We mustn't stop meeting like this" definitely applies to. They always remember my grin and answer with one of their own when I spot them first at work (if they spot me first, I see a blur as they hide - I know it's true!) :

BK and Craziequeen :-)
Badminton Girl who enjoyed it when I was there but quit badminton at work for the same reason as me - some of the other players were jerks
The Finance Angels (who we've inherited from the old team - yey!)
The Pretty Contractor Ladies (there's a bunch of 'em)
Always the Snow Queen
And many more
But there's another one today who asked a question which brings me to today's picture :

The question followed me saying that my side was still sore : "Why do I still play cricket ?"

The answer is fairly simple - it lets me run. I have several speeds - Walk, Fast Walk, Run, Run Fast and RUN LIKE HELL. It's only at Run Like Hell where I get to play with the full potential of the power in my legs. It's a full pelt, head back, feel the wind ruffle the hair and whistle past the ears type of speed.

And I am pretty darn fast with it too. I'll do other people's fielding because I've run that much faster than them.

Cricket is about the only chance I get to do it too. You can move quick around most places given the excuse but to RUN LIKE HELL needs a lot of space. A cricket field is about the only place with the space to kick into that gear. Partly cos of the ground you cover at a full sprint, partly because of the distance needed to stop. I can slow down and dodge better this year than before I lost the weight but 13 stone of me moving at over 20mph is going to make a dent.

I enjoyed the bowling a lot, it was like outwitting the batsmen. I was pretty good with the bowling too before the shoulder tightened up. I don't enjoy the batting much these days. I know I can produce better innings than I do, which is where I put a pressure of expectation on myself. Fielding is a good laugh though. I can use my running speed and now my regained agility to full advantage to scare the crap out of batsmen attempting to pinch singles to me.

Ok, that's enough about cricket - where did that other typoed cliche come in ?

It's not just cricket where rain stops play - I'm half watching the football where the Ukraine vs France game got delayed 55 minutes for rain. Crikey. England game on later and I'll probably watch that properly. Have to actually because I haven't had dinner yet and have run out of other stuff to watch.

The cricket quote is actually "It's just not cricket", which for foreign readers is an English saying that's basically "They don't cheat like that in proper games". Let's just say football is just not cricket and leave it at that shall we ! There's a reason I only rarely follow football, despite otherwise being a sport nut.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Definitely getting old ...

One day later - still ow.

What's actually the damage ? My actual shoulder seems ok. My arm and fingers are fine. Not saying it would support bowling or throwing but it's not the bit that's causing pain at the moment.

No - it's more higher ribs area, intercostal muscles near the back. I think it's actually a second injury that joined the shoulder injury when I bought my last telly. Humping a 28" CRT (the old big type) from its box on to its stand, on my own, was probably not a good idea :-). There's also damage at my front where the pecs link to arm.

I'm wondering if it's one reason I'm having issues with my breathing at the moment. I have full running power available, which is a burst that draws off anaerobic respiration*. However, it's taking a while to get the breath back after one of those bursts.

*Anaerobic respiration - muscles do work without oxygen. Makes a byproduct called Lactic acid, which is where a "heavy legged" feeling comes from. It's a (weak) natural poison that's telling us to take a breath.
Aerobic respiration - muscles do work with oxygen. If you get enough oxygen in, the muscle can work for longer.

It's the reason why a sprinter can cover 200 metres in 20 seconds but it takes 100 seconds to do 800 metres and 2 hours+ to do a marathon. (Marathon = 42km, 2 hours = 7200 secs, so that's about 5.8 metres per second). We can do a burst of high energy output but the cost is that lactic acid that tells us to slow down, plus we need to replace the oxygen in our cells with the oxygen from the air.

I've always been better at the burst of energy thing than the running for miles thing.

Tonight's game got cancelled early as the rains rolled back in again at about 3.00pm. I've got mixed feelings about that - the selfish side goes "phew! easy night, no more cricket damage -> chill out" but the team side is sad that 22 guys won't get to have some fun on the cricket field.

That's something - always be true to how you're feeling. If you're having bad thoughts like the selfish one above, recognise it, own it, accept it. It's ok to admit that you're in two minds about something. Doubts are part of all of us. The important thing is to act and not be owned by the doubts.

You never know the answer unless you ask the question !

Oh my - I must be feeling lightheaded for all this deep thought to be coming out :-) I must have bumped my head when I fell backwards yesterday.

Back to the cricket - the getting older thing is creeping up on me with it being harder now to bounce back when I get hurt. I can still run Very Fast, including having the sprinter change up (which is awesome). My eyes when they're not streaming are still good (when I trust them). My heart & mind are in the best shape they've been in for years, now that I've laid to rest a few ghosts.

So yeah - it's feeling harder to bounce back after I do damage. That's where I'm having the hardest job of adjusting. I've done things in the past like twist my ankle before a game so badly I could barely walk for the next week. Yet I played a full part in that game including bowling my 10 overs. I bent some fingers into a Vulcan salute (missed a catch) and then bowled faster ...

I've done a few things like that - take damage, ignore it, bounce back quickly. That's always been my way. Accept the pain, don't let anyone else see it.


With all that mopey stuff about how I'm feeling old, what really makes up for it is two things :

Getting smiles from Pretty Ladies (visited the old team today)
And getting indulged in my favourite amusement of "Guess Pete's age"

Yep - someone else today thought I was under 30. Can't be bad :-)

PS Charity links - they need your support ! CQ's Race For Life and Thumper's Avon Foundation walk.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

That hurt more than it should have done ...

4th game of the season tonight, despite the weather predictions :

That's one from Facebook that just had to get Yoinked :-)

Today's been the first dry day for a little while and despite a certain doomsayer (I know too much) saying : "It's sunny now but come 5pm ? Apocalypse Rain", we got the game on tonight.

We didn't do too well tonight. We batted first and lost wickets steadily. An early comedy moment involved our star batsman (not me) getting the strike stolen from him for several overs and when he finally got to face, his first ball ended up being hit on to a roof. 6 runs !

We scratched out 90 painful runs eventually. I didn't help, I think I only managed to get a couple due to not actually being on strike much when I was there, before falling lbw to a very straight one I tried to do too much with. That's the story of my batting at the moment - trying to do too much with the ball, not keeping it simple.

Defending 90 runs in the field is very tough in our cricket. It's feasible but only if you get early wickets backed up by good fielding.

I did earn another £5 for the Pink Hat bounty fund :-) As well as getting the Comedy moment for the game. (We'll ignore someone's bowling as that gets the Tortured Soul award)

Bowler comes in, batsman hits it around the corner. Straight ... at ... me ...

Cue the world going into slow motion as I'm peering through the gathering gloom, struggling to pick up the ball against the background. (I need new glasses as I've lost all confidence in my depth perception.) The ball hits my hands and I push it upwards. As I'm falling backwards, I grab the ball as it comes back down.

He's OUT !

Yep - comedy moment right there, at least I pushed the drop catch straight up so it was still in reach for the second attempt. Just one problem - I landed on the weakened right shoulder again and it's hurting a lot more than it should have done. Think I have real damage there and I'll have to break a habit and actually get it checked out.

There's another game tomorrow which I'm down to play in. I'll turn out if they need me, plus I'll be at the ground anyway because I have the team kit in my car.

Given up on me dinner (Chinese is very good for after cricket but there's a lot of it). Shower time after another Transvision Vamp track.

That catch earns another £5 for the Pink Hat bounty, which I'll add to a contribution to Thumper's next walk. Here's a link to her training blog. Thumper's next walk is going to be in San Francisco on 7-8 July (donations link) and I'll add my normal £5 contribution for things like this to anything more that comes from Pink Hat bounty before the 7th and 8th.

PS Not forgetting the Race For Life - click ! donate ! save lives !

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Pass the Tissues

Think I need to test hayfever tablets again.

I'm sensitive to a few kinds of pollen, although it seemed to be the types that came early and late in the season. I tended to be ok in the middle of summer. Not now though. Eyes have been streaming and the nose has been running ... Lungs have been fairly ok but still not brilliant.

The eye streaming thing has a knock on effect - I think the hayfever tears spark off a depression like : Sad -> tears, Tears -> sad. Anyway, that's been getting to me lately in a Brainzzzz kind of way :

Why don't I take hayfever pills I hear you ask ? Side effects ...

One of the side effects I realised I was getting was a type of chemically induced depression. I'd take a hayfever tablet to give me 24 hours relief from streaming eyes and I'd then be grumpy for the next 36 hours. I'd take an anti-histamine to open my lungs up for cricket and find that my legs went utterly unresponsive for fielding. I could still run but when I looked for something extra for sprinting, it felt like there was no gas in the tank.

(And by gas, I mean energy - not the type that makes fielders fall about laughing when a bowler makes a series of raspberries when running in to bowl - and I've done that a couple of times !)

Thinking of cricket, one thing I realised from watching the old highlights while it was raining is that umpiring standards have improved no end recently. It used to be that you could instantly say whether you'd see a stream of errors from the umpires in an international as soon as you heard who would be officiating in a game. Some of the umpires changed the results of games through their appalling decisions.

You don't see the likes of Darryl Hair, Billy Bowden or Daryl Harper standing in games at the moment. Darryl Hair was blind (although kudos to him for calling certain bowlers for throwing) and Bowden and Harper thought the game was to show them off, instead of the umpires being there to support the players.

What's really improved standards has been the Umpire Decision Referral System. In a Test Match, each side has 2 chances per innings to refer an umpire's decision to TV evidence. What that means is :

The umpire makes his decision,
The players get a chance to say "we think you're wrong"
The TV umpire checks lots of evidence
And the correct decision is given

I think it's given umpires the confidence to go with their gut. Before, the benefit of the doubt would be given a lot more in a "yeah I think it's hitting the stumps but I have doubts - not out". Those get given out nowadays, with the onus on the batsman to refer it.

What we've been seeing is a lot of referred decisions staying with what the umpire on the pitch said. The benefit of the doubt is given to the umpire. It's turned into something very good for the game. It supports the umpires and doesn't hold up play very much. And most important, it's fair to both sides and game changing decisions are given correctly.

Will other sports go the same way ? Rugby already does. Football is refusing to.

PS Watched Snow White & the Huntsman tonight. If you buy one Snow White film from this year, IGNORE this one ! Buy Mirror, Mirror instead. SN&tH is another of those admittedly well made films that just doesn't have the storyline. Mirror, Mirror was far more entertaining.

Monday, June 11, 2012

Warming up the avatar

I think I said ages ago that there was another different Pocket Dwagon avatar coming soon ...

I changed at the weekend (just felt like it!) but I'm looking to switch to another one as a symbolic thingy. I like my symbols. But I think that might be the OCD tendency talking ...

Anyway - the next avatar's going to be one of this pair :
With "Feed Me" being the symbol. I've used the little fella before as an avatar but just as a jokey Feed Me Mini Eggs thing. Nah - the symbol this time will be weight loss :

I've been seeing the needle go below the 13 stone mark :-)

Not sure how many years it's been since I was last under 13 stone. I think I hit that at uni due to working too hard and exercising less. (Yeah right). But the weight definitely climbed on when I started working because I could indulge in far too much unhealthy food. Lunchtime Heaven would be finding out that a placement had a place I could get chips for lunch every day.

Effectively having 2 dinners per day is bad news for the waistline, especially if you're not expending enough energy to cover that intake. It's sandwiches for lunch now and they just happen to be the sandwiches with fewest kcals :-).

Yeah - been seeing the needle of the scales go lighter lately, although I'm not going to jinx it by switching to that Feed Me avatar until it stays under that target weight. I need to lose more still to be honest. I'm back to 34" waist trousers but they're a stretchy 34". I won't go below 34" (hips are too wide for 32"). But it's definitely getting there :

I have my speed back
Some underlying health issues have faded
(I'm not saying what those were cos people would get worried)
And I feel much better for it

I need to keep the exercise going - I'm fine if I keep myself moving. However, a couple of weeks away from cricket and my back is wanting to freeze up on me (rubbish chairs at work too). I suspect that doing gardening would help me out (weather permitting).

I'm going to keep the discipline going for now with the weight. The leg infection helped me out there - the "diet" pills told me that I could handle going for a while without grazing on junk. The "diet" pills were antibiotics that needed 2 hours without food before and 1 hour without food after. 4 times a day. So that's a 6 hour cycle with 3 hours of no munchies. It can be done ! Even by a serial snacker.

So that's just over a stone lost so far with more to come. Just gotta keep the discipline going and not eat stuff for the sake of munching. Did ok there today, avoided an afternoon cookie :-) This was just after giving a big grin and wave to the Snow Queen (hello Snow Queen!) who just happened to be nipping through the canteen area at the same time I was.

Happy days.

Wonder if I can use a different description to "a little extra" soon ? I don't honestly consider myself to be "trim" or "athletic" yet. More like "normal disappear into crowd" type average build.

Last thought - if you're trying to lose weight and you're going the heavy exercise route, don't be discouraged if your weight goes Up after exercise. I gained half a stone through the first two games of this season. A lot of that was in my legs, which felt very heavy and stiff after those games. The reason was lactic acid build up, after that went away over the next couple of days I was back down to the weight from before the games.

Exercise may make you gain weight as well as lose it - the lesson is to understand why and balance energy incoming with energy outgoing. So on match days, I'll eat more. At other times, I'll attempt to avoid temptation when not actually hungry.

Too much ramble ! Not enough pictures !

PS The CQ Race For Life link needs more clicking and definitely more support.

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Someone stole my holiday !

Back to work again tomorrow. I'm not quite sure where this holiday has gone to be honest.

I don't think I've been gaming that much, I definitely have managed to resist some of the "wake at noon, play until daybreak" silliness of previous years. (I'm not gaming as much these days). I need to read more stuff to be honest. I've been stuck in Stark's Command for months now, having just not gone back to it.

What have I been doing ?

Lots of music been listened to - since breaking up from work on 31st May, I've listened to 811 different songs lasting 2.2 days (iTunes is great for picking out stats like that) including 20 different albums. Of the new stuff, the opinion is :

Alanis Morrissette - still pretty good, if a little samey.
Transvision Vamp - fun 80s tunes. Me like.
Kings of Leon - dunno here. Youth and Young Manhood isn't that great to be honest, although I've not yet listened to it as an album. Just not as much my type of music as girlie vocals are.
Air - Premiers Symptomes - I like this too. It's good occasional listen chill out music. Can't sing along to it though cos it's instrumental and I do like croaking along to my music.

The weather has turned into something utterly appalling ... I should really have checked out repairing the fence in the back yard but I don't fancy drowning. Still, it's looking a lot better out there now than it has done.

Talking about weather - it held off long enough today to let CrazieQueen & The Fairy do their bit for Race For Life, raising money for Cancer Research UK (link to fundraising site + it'll go on the link list soon). I'll get the credit card out for that soon and the £10 bounty from the Pink Hat fund for the run out I pulled off will go there too. They've earned it today. If you click on one link from here today, make it be that one.

Back at home, I've been watching a lot of recorded stuff, plus there was a decent amount of cricket on the telly to enjoy. That 811 different songs is actually a little light for what I can listen to over a week off because I was having to keep up with the recorded stuff as well as watching the cricket.

Been recovering from that attack of house cleaning still too - either it's dust in the house or pollen from outside but my lungs have been full of rubbish (it affected me in the Thurs 31 game too) and my eyes have been almost constantly streaming.

One thing about all this weather - it's made me glad I bought something called "Supaguard" with my car. It's a protective coating that's supposed to keep showroom shine on the car. It seems to work too - all this rain has been quite happily washing the accumulated dust and road grime off the car, leaving it super shiny. Awesome. The last time I took it to a car wash was around Xmas and to be honest, I dislike using car washes because of the chance for it to scrape the paint off. Rain + Supaguard do a great job.

It's going to be strange heading back in tomorrow.

Usually after a break, I'd be looking to find out how everyone had gotten on. If they're ok, how they're feeling, whether any good gossip happened while people were away. I can usually tell the "are they ok?" from just a look. I'm like that - when I look at someone, I'll see more than they'd like me to. Most of the time at least. There's times when that perception gets jammed or blocked by a brave face being put on.

Tomorrow will be different though - the people I'd usually look to first are in the old office and unless I let Autopilot have it's way, I'll be heading straight up to the new office. Wonder if I'll get an excuse to go down there and say hello. I hope so, communicator and email are ok for messages but if you want to really know how someone is, there's no substitute for saying hello and grinning at them.

I do keep thinking of them, although I know there's a couple of them that know I keep this blog going and occasionally talk about them. Miss F made me promise not to talk about her, will have to 'fess up to breaking that promise due to saying something nice in the Moving Day post.

Reading that one again shows I occasionally follow my own advice - I ran into someone this time last year who's kept me laughing occasionally with insane chatting over Steam Chat. We're both gamers who happen to be interested in the same games ... She's talked me into getting Guild Wars 2 (and I'm not convinced now that was a good idea) and I've done a total of maybe 2 hours testing on that this weekend. The GW2 people would have been Expecting people in the beta to be putting far more hours in than that. Well ? I just don't feel like doing what they'd Expected me to do ! Far too much cricket and motor racing (and football being ignored) on to be gaming too much this weekend.

For now - it's a choice of either Moo2 (I keep opening that relic back up again for some reason) or continuing the Deus Ex HR run. Not convinced I'll do that much more Skyrim to be honest. It's a great game and I feel I've got my value out of it but it's let down by not being able to break out of certain quest lines. You should be able to choose to not be a cannibal or not crash the merchant ship.

It'll be Deus Ex shooty stuff I think - my neck and wrist have decided to dislike me, which means the static mouse gameplay of Moo2 is a Bad Idea.

Saturday, June 09, 2012

Testy, sporty, Test

Enjoying another chilled out Saturday again after Prometheus last night.

First up - Prometheus. It's another in the series of Alien & Predator universe films. To be totally honest :

It's a well made film, as you'd expect from Ridley Scott. If it was standalone or if the AvP films never happened, the script would make sense. It's a prequel to the iconic film Alien and does a decent job of setting that film up. Bit like Return of the Sith sets up a lot for the older films and XMen First Class set up the other XMen films.

Prequels are usually very tightly bound by what they need to follow. The interest isn't so much in how things will end (cos you already know that from the older film), it's how they get there. Prometheus gets there very well, although there are a few liberties taken with Things That Should Not Be Left As They Are. Saying that though, the faults are mostly with the poor (but still watchable) AvP films than with this one.

But that's enough about Prometheus. I'll watch it again when it comes to Sky Movies, not sure if I'll buy it on bluray though. I said that about Avatar as well and ended up buying it after a second watch. The key difference is that Avatar was something new, Prometheus is scraping the bottom of an already well cleaned barrel.

On getting out to movies - I made an offer ages ago to someone that she could gladly come along to one of the cinema outings as a "forget your troubles" relax type evening with neutral people - that offer still stands :-) Haven't mentioned it much though cos I didn't want to put too much pressure on.

Testy, sporty, Test ?

Lots of sport, this weekend and next. The England v West Indies test match finally got underway this morning and the play today has been : Interesting. Despite losing a couple of days, there could still be a result. Hopefully now the sun's out today, it'll stay with us.

But it's not just cricket, I'll be half watching the football later via my laptop (or I'll hide behind the sofa and use my desktop's bigger screen) and I'll be watching the GP qualifying via SkyF1 after the cricket. I already have it set to record. Same tomorrow with the race. And similar next week :

Still Euro2012 football reminding me why I rarely watch football,
England cricket on the Saturday
Le Mans 24 hours

It's Fathers Day too next weekend but we've already (conveniently!) agreed to delay that for a weekend. Tuesday 19th will see the InterServices 20-20 tournament, which will see a great chance to get to Lords for the day in support of true heroes.

However, all that clashing sport does mean that I'm missing out on one opportunity - I have access to the Guild Wars 2 beta testing that's happening this weekend. I had a look for a couple of hours last night and it lives up to its hype so far. I'm not totally convinced though. The questing system is more freeform but it's still very much "Kill 10 mobs" type questing. We'll see how it develops. It seems to be a more freeform type game than previous MMOs, depending on movement to avoid damage. I need to work on that because my WoW play tended to be Damage, Damage, Damage, zzzzzz, Damage, stop, Damage, Damage, zzzzzzz etc ad nauseum.

Hopefully they'll pull off the promise with Guild Wars 2 and turn it into a truly excellent game. I guess I should really tell them about the issues I had in creating my first character - it claimed firewall issues which I fixed by one of these 3 methods :

Restarting my cable modem (doubt it was that)
Giving it "run as admin" (could be)
Deleting the previous firewall settings (highly likely)

If it's the firewall settings, I've seen that kind of issue with the iTunes updater interfering with my Airplay streaming. Annoying because it is not something an end user should have to deal with. Beta is Beta.

What I also have beta access to and am quite looking forward to is something called Planetside 2 - it's a Massive Multiplayer Online First Person Shooter. Technobabble aside - it's a scifi shooter with thousands of players taking place over a continent wide map. Or that's the plan. It's not quite at Beta stage yet so we've just been looking at early testing which honestly looks more complete than what some companies will unleash as final product.

It looks pretty awesome and it should get around the biggest problems in multiplayer pvp - Persistence and Rush Play. The best PvP I had in Warcraft was the old Alterac Valley, where you had 40 vs 40 players fighting it out on a North-South map. Horde (me!) would go north, Alliance (evil) would go south. Along the way there are towers to capture and destroy and generals that help out. Alterac Valley battles used to last for hours and you'd see the collecting subquests finish to bring out superunits for your side. 5 players could hold off 20. Something changed though and it turned into Rush Play, where the opening sequence of the battle would see 40 players riding past the other 40 players crossing over in the middle of the map. Battles became a 10 minute race instead of an epic 100 marathon.

Persistence is the other artificiality in most PvP, you can win the battle but at the start of the next round everything is reset. I've never much seen the point in that. At least in WoW's later open world PvP, if you won the battle you would control a block of territory for a while getting bonuses from that.

Planetside 2 will hopefully bring Persistence where you hold what you take, plus allow defence to make Rush Play less effective. It also has tanks and most important - fighter aircraft. The earliest games I enjoyed were flight sims and space sims and it's been way too long since I had a go at a decent flight game.

So if you're in Planetside 2 and get shot down by an Iceangel or "Iceangel624"*, then that could well be me.

*(624 will be if, as is likely, I don't get Iceangel quickly enough - the 6 24 are from my best bowling figures)

For now though - too much on at the moment to do the gaming thing, so it's back to the cricket with F1 to follow and muted football on laptop/desktop.

Friday, June 08, 2012

Here Comes The Rain Again

Had been hoping to get some good cricket watching in today and yesterday, with Thursday supposed to have been the start of the third Test match between England and West Indies.

It's 2-0 at the moment to England and looks like it'll still be that scoreline on Monday when the game is supposed to end ... Bit damp out there at the moment. Not damp here (it's been dry since about lunchtime) but persistent rain 60 miles up the road in Birmingham has seen the first two days of a Test match washed out for the first time in almost 50 years.

Yep - despite our infamous weather, this is officially the worst spell of rain since 1964. In cricketing terms at least. Which are the most important, depending on your point of view.

Looking outside at the moment - it reinforces what I've been thinking for years : Global warming and climate change isn't necessarily about Heat, it seems more about Energy.

Heat - it doesn't actually seem that much warmer these days. It's been getting hot, sure ... but are the maximum temperatures going up ?
Energy - the storm systems seem more frequent and far more energetic. Heavier rain, higher wind and more of it.

But it's more complicated than just that - our climate is a vast interlocking network of air currents circulating round the globe. Disrupting part of that means the butterfly wing flaps in one place have massive effects on somewhere a long way away.

It explodes the mind thinking about it doesn't it ?

What has been on instead of live cricket is recorded cricket. It's curious watching the old games again. Today they're not going back as far as showing players I wanted to be when I was starting out as a cricketer but you can see again that climate isn't the only thing that's changed over the years.

Players now are somewhat different to those many years ago. Endless coaching is making them approach the supposed "ideal". That coaching is refining or destroying technique. The 2003 coverage showed the legendary Curtley Ambrose, Destroyer Of Willow. He's a 6 foot 8 giant but when you see him running in to bowl, it's sheer perfection. It's an easy sprint, legs eating up the ground getting him into the perfect place to deliver something filled with impending pain or shattering of stumps.

West Indies haven't had anything like him in years. He was the last of a dying breed, before entitlement spoilt the attitude of the apprentices they had coming through. The new bowlers expected to follow in the footsteps of legends like Ambrose, Walsh, Marshall, Holding and others from before my time : Hall & Garner. These guys were made even more dangerous by being part of a unit, there was nowhere to hide. Get off strike to Ambrose and you have Walsh about to put one near your nose.

The new ones, like Jerome Taylor, don't have the application or the attitude to show their quality on the pitch via honing their talent through hard work and practice.

To be honest - my own performances on the pitch could have done with more hard work and practice :
Hard work - I used to be first in nets and last to leave. Now I have to ration my training in order to not break stuff.
Practice - more fielding practice would mean avoiding "wake up time" where I miss chances to get run outs due to fumbling the ball. Need to work out the mistakes before taking to the field.

With me though, that's lack of training opportunity. The international players have no excuse, although their coaches haven't done players like the very dangerous Steve Harmison any favours - he was no1 bowler in the world at one point, until the coaches confused him. Good to see that James Anderson has gone back to his roots, after the coaches attempted to ruin him too.

I'm rambling about cricket aren't I when I should be giving up on the garage (if they want me to use them for servicing, they gotta ring me back!) and having a shower ...

It's been curious to see some old idols in the highlights :

Devon Malcolm - not seen him but he was GOD to me as a 15 year old seam bowler. I wanted to bowl as fast as this bespectacled demon. He was awesome, as comic relief as well as bowling.
Dominic Cork - wasn't as fast as most international bowlers but definitely made the most of what he had. Which was having the ball on a string, with control of movement as well as accuracy. He struggled desperately with bad knees but was still playing county cricket into his 40s.

Can't think of any batting heroes to be honest. But then again, we didn't have many to choose from. I think I'd pick out :

Robin Smith - noone hit the ball harder. A shame his career was blighted with Death By Spinner.
Michael Vaughan - another with bad knees that forced his career to a premature end. He combined Fun on the field with a blazing intensity of play. Noone wanted to win more but he never forgot to have fun along the way. And that fun continues into his Test Match Special commentary. Hell of a player too, the sheer class shows through today. The only person we have close to his class right now is KP.

Right - I think I need to give up on the garage for today. Shower then -> Prometheus tonight.

Thursday, June 07, 2012

Where's our software going ?

Another from the category of spotting random news stories ...

Ages ago, I read a pertinent story on the Register titled "Windows for Warships". It was written by an axe grinder who was worried we were moving away from "Good Software" into being dominated by Microsoft's latest offerings. There's a lot of hysteria in there that's been proven moot with time. (Especially this one about the UK's systems).

To be fair to Microsoft at the time, they were doing pretty well with Windows. It was moving towards the Unix ideal of a solid microkernel operating system. (Something small at the core with all the bells and whistles bolted on). The NT4 that we used for a while at work was a very solid foundation for what we needed. It's reliable, which puts to bed the main fears of the two early articles. Business in the office doesn't actually need much. The multimedia bells and whistles are Shiny but distract away from actually getting work done. Besides, bells and whistles should come in applications, not in the foundation.

Today, there's another one called "Windows 8: Not even Microsoft thinks businesses will use it" (link supplied to full article). The new one is about Windows 8 and the horror that it could be bringing to us. We've got a preview of that horror with the newer versions of Office. Compared to the old ones, they're just plain Nasty.

I think the problem comes with something called Business Model. I.e. "we've sold people this thing once and it'll work forever. how are we going to make money in 5 years ?" Normally, that repeat business comes from stuff wearing out or something better coming along. Now it comes from a cycle that comes round every few years where we're required to upgrade in order to use the latest hardware or software :

Windows 98 - couldn't install this on a PCI Express machine
Battlefield 3 and other Directx 10 games - won't run on Windows XP

My latest machine runs Windows 7 purely because it was needed for Battlefield 3 (plus it was available and Vista and XP were not). Trouble is, it also feeds a very vicious hardware upgrade cycle too :

Dos + Windows 3.11 - was happy on my first 4MB machine
Windows 98 - think this was ok on 16MB
NT4 - was happy in 32-64MB
Now ? This Windows 7 laptop is currently using 1.8GB (with Firefox, Outlook, Messenger and iTunes open). It needs 2GB as a bare minimum, preferably 3GB or more to run smooth.

Every iteration of software we get is more bloated than the one before. Much of the functionality is unnecessary too. The machines we used at work 5 years ago are smoother than the ones we use now and don't suffer the same lunchtime slowdown (it's when they fire off the virus checker).

You have to wonder where Microsoft are intending to go with their software. They seem bent on evolving it towards software that deliberately interferes with what the user wants it to do instead of seamlessly enabling it. That's what an operating system like Windows should do - it's there to enable, not to disrupt.

I suspect the day is coming when the users rise up against their oppressive masters in revolt and burn down the very foundations of society.

Cough ... wrong speech - oops.

There's alternatives out there - Apple have their OS X but to buy into that requires huge cash (plus their quality is slipping) or the dubious legality of Hackintoshing. Linux and its plethora of free software is looking like a more and more attractive option. I suspect Windows 7 will be the last Microsoft platform I build a machine around but it depends on :

Software compatibility - a lot of games don't run well on Linux
Lockouts - I can easily see Microsoft pulling the Directx thing again

Hackintoshing - To be honest, I'd prefer Linux here. OS X and Linux are both built around the same foundation (Unix). However, OS X is subject to Apple's lockdown policy. Linux is far more open. If it's a choice between an illegal install of an unnecessarily locked down platform and a freely available open platform, I'll choose Linux.

But that's a while off yet. My current machines will last me ages so it's a while until I'll renew my flirtation with alternative operating systems.