Sunday, November 30, 2014

A to Z - R is for Recital

I mentioned before - no Q for this series, I don't actually own any Q albums ... Ok, there's 2 Queen greatest hits cds but they're in the G's. Their second greatest hits just joined the collection actually, I needed a second for a 2 for deal to introduce me to Nightwish.

How's Nightwish ? Very theatrical. Very polished. That seems to be a trend in metal music lately. Less thrash, more heavy operatic. I'm not convinced by that trend, by polishing the music, they take the raw emotion out of it. That's why I like Evanescence, because they keep that raw emotion coming through the music.

R's ?

I've found Radio 1 Live Lounge to be a good source of new artists to add to the collection and have a selection of the cd's in the library. Highlights are where artists cover other people's songs and make them truly special. Like Little Boots with Beat Again, Avril Lavigne with The Scientist and Arctic Monkeys with You Know I'm No Good. I prefer all 3 of those over the originals.

One of my teenage music influences was T'Pau and they followed a decent first album with Rage. It's one of those albums which has big highs, big lows, good bits, bad bits. I played the hell out of it and was happily singing along to tracks like Secret Garden. Carol Decker's still got it 20 years after she recorded the original.

Back to something more contemporary. I discovered Daft Punk through enjoying their soundtrack to Tron Legacy and then checked out their own stuff. Random Access Memories is their latest. It's a decent listen, not quite what I usually listen to (not enough girlie vocals) but tracks like Get Lucky still get my toes tapping.

And now backwards - I dislike U2 as people because they're a typical example of what happens when too much money make people a little loopy. But ... they still made some amazing music. Like Rattle And Hum, including tracks like All I Want Is You. Now who might "You" be ?

But I do much prefer female vocals like the ever incredible, ever evolving, ever beautiful Madonna with Ray Of Light (I almost typoed Yay of Light, which sums up what I feel when some of its tracks come on). The famous track here is Frozen but my favourite is Nothing Really Matters.

Strictly Come Dancing has introduced or reminded me about a few people, this time it's Sophie Ellis-Bextor with her collection album, Read My Lips. There's a few great tracks here, Groovejet has that characteristic dance groove, Lover makes you want to have someone feel special, Is It Any Wonder has that ethereal voice

Crowded House have stood the test of time. They're still doing well today and their R album, Recurring Dream, is full of great songs. Like ... the one that opens it, Weather With You. What's it like where you are ? Sunny here today.

Going way back to before I was born now. It's Pink Floyd with Relics. It's a collection of their music in the 60s. Floyd changed considerably with the decades, their 60s music is definitely the quirkiest music they did. I'll pick out Remember A Day here for the Richard Wright tribute.

I don't have too many collections albums in the library, I usually get the full original albums instead. Retrospective by Suzanne Vega is another of these, although it does have some different versions of the original songs, like The Queen And The Soldier.

Another collection ? All About Eve have had their back catalogue mercilessly raided over the years with albums like Return To Eden which has versions of their songs which didn't have the final production polish behind them. It's saved by Julianne Regan's voice and a wonderful cover of Devil Woman.

I have most of the Star Wars soundtracks ! And I'm proud to admit that. Ha. Most of them come under S but there's one under R - Return of the Jedi. You know this one already don't you ?

Paul Simon is another golden oldie that's still knocking around with albums like Rhythm Of The Saints, including tracks like The Obvious Child. He's still got something unique with that soft voice of his.

Franz Ferdinand keep my attention with their quirkiness. Their Right Thoughts, Right Action album is another pretty good one but make sure you get the deluxe version as it has a second cd with live versions of the album plus some of their best stuff like Ulysses.

Paramore burst into everyone's attention with their first album Riot! Love this album, it was a great introduction for another full band group. Tracks like Let The Flames Begin having the band fully complement Hayley's voice.

Chris Rea's been knocking around for a while too and one of his better known albums is Road To Hell. This one's packed with great songs too. Texas ? They got big long roads out there.

Another oldie ? Meat Loaf's been around a while too and I have his Rock N Roll Hero collection. It's ok for a collection but he's not really a favourite. Perhaps I hear the damage he's done to that incredible voice of his.

And talking of an incredible voice, here's Duffy with Rockferry. I have the special 2cd version, which I'd thoroughly recommend because the second cd has some excellent songs on it. Like the plaintive Please Stay but there's also other sad but wonderful songs like Warwick Avenue and Delayed Devotion.

Puss In Boots was a great film (well, I enjoyed it) and it introduced me to the instrumental guitar music of Rodrigo y Gabriela. I need more of their stuff alongside their self titled album with tracks like a sublime cover of Stairway to Heaven.

Last 2 ! The penultimate of Coldplay's A Rush Of Blood To The Head. I'm not sure about Coldplay, a lot of their music mushes into the same track. There's not much distinctiveness to them, outside of their Wall Of Sound technique. Favourite here is Clocks.

And ... finishing on a high note ... Fleetwood Mac's Rumours is one of the best albums of all time. It was born in a time of emotional turmoil for the band and that fire forged an incredible album with tracks like Oh Daddy, Go Your Own Way, You Make Lovin' Fun and ... The Chain.

Yep. I'm a child of the time BBC had the Grand Prix coverage and there's something that feels very Right and The Chain being the theme of Formula One.

Time to close now. S will be on the way ... sometime. But I should actually hit under 1000 tracks left to listen to by the end of today ! That's only taken ... 13 months. Cor.

Friday, November 28, 2014

Black Friday Madness

I've been having one of those Bad Pete Good Pete battles.

Good Pete says - you don't need a new telly, the one you have now is perfectly adequate.
Bad Pete says - but the new one would be HUGE, 3d, it's on sale and ... it's SHINY.

Shiny things are always good.
What am I looking at ?

I could get a 55" Samsung 3d capable LED backlit telly today only for £650. That would be an immense upgrade to the 32" LCD telly I have now. And in theory, I could use the LCD telly as a new PC monitor. I won't because this monitor is just big enough to fit where I put it, the corners fit my field of view well and it's a decent quality LED lit monitor. It's got better display quality than my ageing telly.

It's not ageing, although I did have to replace the batteries in the controller not so long ago.

The telly is actually the only bit of my system that doesn't support 3d, the bluray player and amplifier both do. But ... those spec thingys are confusing aren't they ? What's available and what do I think of it ?

Curved - this is the new Big Thing. I see it as a marketing fad, soon to fade away into obscurity. It depends on the viewer being in a certain position and ... I most often watch telly from where I have my desktop PC chair. That's about 20 degrees off the midline where I'd be for the optimal position on the sofa. So curved is a waste of time for me.

3d - I um and arr over this. I can see the 3d benefit but ... I'd only have advantage of the 3d on a very few blurays that I've bought. And then there's the wearing of the 3d glasses over my normal glasses. So why think 3d ? To enable the effect, means high refresh rates on the screen. This is good for 2d as well, because it vastly reduces flicker and motion blur.

4k - this has more pixels per inch. 1080p is good for my current telly at 32", because the dots are small. At 55", the dots are that much bigger, so having more dots gives you that sharpness that would otherwise go away. This works best if the telly has enough intelligence to turn 1080p into 4k. Otherwise, I don't have any sources that could send the higher resolution to the screen.

So all those fancy things are all a bit of a waste of time for me. However ... there is such a thing as future proofing ... And that says I should be looking at the tellys which have more dots in. (A 4k).

I'm going to let Good Pete win this time for a good reason - I'd want the telly delivered. I think it would fit in the car with the back seats down but I'd want them to come and take away my older CRT telly and the various telly packaging I have. Which means being in.

Telly buying can wait until the January sales come along.

Many other people aren't thinking about that, they're rushing to the sales anyway ...

They crazy !

The world seems to be genuinely going mad at the moment. Mob rule is raising its ugly head more and more. Crowds of rabid shoppers are assaulting the stores, the storepeople and each other in the rush to get bargains. And it's not just that, we're seeing raising civil unrest in places like Ferguson where it seems like the mob didn't get its way, so the mob protests. Led by a rabble rousing lawyer.

I don't have the full facts there but it's a sign that things are starting to get out of control.

It could be time to get that house in the hills and turn it into a fortress.

As long as it has internet, a generator and plenty of places to keep the snacks.

Plans for the weekend ? I've been feeling run down, so it's time for chilling out, watching stuff, maybe reading stuff, quite possibly buying stuff in the Steam sale and generally trying to recharge those batteries. But if someone has a better offer, I'm all ears :-)
Oh and there will be the occasional raiding of the hot chocolate supply.

Thursday, November 27, 2014

A Balance In Protection

We heard more developments today with the story I touched on yesterday.

RIP Phil Hughes. Thoughts are with your family, friends and team mates.

I've updated yesterday's post a little bit. I wrote it hoping that he'd recover. Always hope for the best right ? But that mouse pic was in poor taste considering what's happened, so it's gone.

There's going to be a lot of uninformed chat now about cricket and other sports and the protection gear involved with them. I really hope they don't change much with cricket as a consequence of this truly freak accident.

The game doesn't need to change and would be irreparably harmed if it were. The attitudes, perhaps, are what need a little more awakening :

If you make the ball softer, nobody is happy. The batsmen can't hit it as far and the bowlers get in a huff because it doesn't do anything. That would lead to a much more boring game for little added safety.
Covering the people with padding. I'll talk about that more in a bit. Cricket needs agility as well as protection and more protection means less agility.

Attitudes - this is the key. And I'm aiming my blunderbuss at people like MS Dhoni, captain of India. Yes. I'm going to flame someone who has near godlike status ... He's a prime example of someone who doesn't wear a helmet when batting against slower bowlers. As my own experience tells, this is a Really Bad Idea. All 3 times I've been hit were similarly freak incidents involving top edges. If you get a top edge, it doesn't matter what speed the bowler hits. And it's possibly more likely to get one against the slower bowler who is turning the ball through spin.

A helmet should be worn at all times it's appropriate :
Any time when batting;
When the wicket keeper is standing up (cases of Mark Boucher and Paul Downton who had severely damaged eyes due to the bails flying up into them and Mark Boucher was wearing a helmet at the time)
Close fielding.

There is other protection gear too. Let's see what was available and why I did or didn't wear it :

Shin pads - I'd have worn these in certain situations if I had them. Problem - they slow you down, I'd lose my only asset, Speed. But if I was fielding close, I'd wear them.

Knee pads - I wore these for two reasons. One was that my leg muscles were so much more powerful than my knees could handle, so I'd wear them to stop my knees exploding. The second was that they gave me a little protection for when my tendency to get in the way instead of cleanly fielding ended up in me wearing cricket balls. But ... I wore knee pads that still allowed that all important agility.

Thigh pads for batting - One of my mum's colleagues fractured a femur when batting when I was in my teens. He had an ultra long recovery time and a thigh pad (a small pillow stuffed down the trousers) may have saved him from that. I only wore one of these once in practice and it slowed me down so much, I was getting pinned on the leg even more. I basically couldn't bat effectively because feet that didn't move anyway, moved less. So I was worse batting and more likely to get hurt.

This is a key thing - the best way to avoid being hit is to not be in the way. And the more protection you wear, the less able you are to be able to get out of the way.

The box and the batting gloves - always wore these. It's silly not to. They don't impede you in any way (unless a previous wearer ruins them with sweat - and you are allowed to go "EEEEoooo !" at that and it's why I refused to lend mine out) and they give you basic protection. A ball to the groin will still hurt like hell and if you trap a finger between bat and ball, it'll probably break but ... if it's a glancing blow then they give that basic protection.

Chest protection - again, never used one of these. I believed they'd slow me down like the thigh pad did.and that they'd lead to me being hit more often.

Arm guard - I've got a chip out of my elbow and was wearing a makeshift arm guard at the time. I've also had a smashed watch where a ball hit it. Both times, the ball missed the arm guard (a small shin pad in a sock) despite the arm guard having good coverage. Again, the best defence is not to be in the way and technique teaches you to drop the arms and hands down and sway out of the way. The two hits were when the ball bounced way more than it should have ...

Helmet - I didn't wear one of these until the Nose Job incident and I'm glad I converted. They don't slow your head down too much and give that protection again. There's a limited amount they can cover though. You have to be able to fully turn your head and they can't impede jerking the head out of the way, or your hearing. So a motorbike style crash helmet isn't an option. Keeper's helmets are actually different because of the angle a keeper's head tends to be.

There's a limited size a cricket helmet can be, consider that a batsman could be wearing these for a whole 2 hour (+ extra time) session with three of those in a day. I've worn one for 19 overs (hour and a half) and it felt like my head was going to explode after that.

And - from what I understand of the Phil Hughes incident, a helmet with more coverage wouldn't have helped anyway, as it missed the helmet and hit the neck. Even keeping to the proper technique of watching the ball all the way wouldn't have helped. I see close fielders spinning out of the way so a ball would hit them on the back - that's really silly (but understandable) because they're exposing bits without armour to the ball.

The summary is that point I made earlier :

The best way to avoid being hit is to not be in the way.

And in cricket, you do that by being super agile. The fielder will catch the ball or get out of the way. The batsmen will dodge or sway. That's why I stopped bowling, with the problems in my action the ball would follow a batsman swaying out of the way.

I think I got my balance of protection about right. I did get pinned on the legs a few times but it just gave me heavy bruising. The muscle mass protected the bone. I caught a few on the knees, which the padding mostly absorbed. The helmet actually improved my batting (it let me level my eyes) and I kept on batting after being hit on the grille. I never got hit in the ribs because I always got out of the way or hit the ball.

Still - to be of any use, that protection has to be worn. And I still see a few players who refuse to wear helmets. There's the MS Dhoni up top, there's Sarah Taylor, legend England keeper. She's the best keeper in the world, including the men. She doesn't wear keeping pads, they'd slow her down and her glovework is more than adequate to save her legs. She doesn't wear a helmet despite standing up to the stumps most of the time and I saw her get hit by a glancing blow in the last series shown. She's not just a keeping legend, she's a Very Pretty Lady and I'd hate to see those looks spoiled by a cricket ball impact.

But ... it's that balance of protection again, she believes the loss of visibility with a helmet would lead to her being hit.

It's always personal preference what level of protection you wear. And that goes beyond cricket. I see motorbike riders wearing jeans and trainers. If they come off, they'll be shredded. And that's not just a "it's too hot in leathers" because they're still doing that in cold conditions.

I've rambled on enough already I think ...

The level of protection is a personal preference. It shouldn't be made part of the laws of a game. That said, the top players should set a good example for the kids and I think a few fail there.

But not Phil Hughes - he did everything right but still fell victim to something totally freak.

Thoughts are with family, friends and team mates - we lost a good one there.

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Counting my luck

Updates - Phil Hughes sadly passed away on the morning after I wrote this post and I deem the original pic I used to be in very poor taste considering that. So I've included a few updates ...

I've had my injuries and broken bones over the years with the cricket but there's times you have to say :

I've been very lucky.

The cricketing world has been shaken thoroughly with the news about Phil Hughes (bbc news link). What happened ? He got hit on the head by a bouncer* which hit him on the back of the head, where the helmet apparently didn't protect. He's still in a coma, after being resuscitated on the field and air evac'd to hospital. Edit - Sadly he passed away the morning after I wrote this post.

*A bouncer is a ball bowled such that it bounces preferably throat height, aim - shake up the batsman and try and force them into a mistake. I used to love these, as they fed my best shot. It's a balance of danger to easy scoring. I used to wear a floppy hat as a target to try and provoke short balls. Feelings of youthful invulnerability and all that.

Why do I count myself lucky ?

I've been hit on the head by cricket balls no less than three times. Twice, I wasn't wearing a helmet. I think it's changed my personality in unquantifiable ways but ... no more than a personality grows and changes as we mature. I do know that I continue to have effects on memory and vocabulary. I have trouble finding occasional words and in turning short term memory into permanent memory. And I used to have a legendary memory for silly facts and procedures.

Three times ?

First time - Nose Job 1. I top edged the ball and it went straight for my head. My technique held and I watched the ball all the way, into my right eye ... I was still wearing glasses, which probably saved me from more serious damage. Instead of the ball going into my eye and breaking the orbit, my glasses spread the impact around my eye with the damage being just a badly broken nose. I couldn't breathe out of my nose until it was fixed in Nose Job 2 (hospital this time).

Can you imagine if I'd been wearing contacts ? I shudder to think what the effect of a cricket ball hitting a contact lens and then the eye and socket would have been. Sure, there's the neurological damage ... but I still have sight in both eyes.

Lasting damage - the nosebleeds are all gone, I can breathe through the nose properly and while I know I'm unquantifiably ... different to how I was before, the amnesia and false memories phase only lasted maybe 18 months. But I don't know if the occasional flash-memory-sight of a cricket ball 6 inches away from my eye is a real memory or reconstructed. However, I could remember the layout of Southmead A and E when I went back there 8 years later.

Second time ...

This was quite a nasty game. From what I remember of it, both sides were getting pretty sparky and none sparkier than one of the opposition bowlers. It was played on an artificial wicket, which tended to be fast and quite spiteful with the bounce it gave the ball. One player got seriously hurt in that game (not me), by that same sparky bowler too.

The wicket keeper is the guy that stands behind the stumps, usually a little way back. He catches anything that the batsmen miss. It's quite dangerous as under the right conditions, the ball will swing sideways through the air. Not by much, but by enough to move the ball from the palm of the hand to the tips of the fingers. I've dislocated both thumbs over the years due to this but escaped major damage. Their keeper on this evening, did not escape ... two of his fingers were smashed and badly deranged.

Ouch. My response as the batsman who missed the ball : "I'm sorry, I can't look at that again." Lol - that wound up the opposition even more. I hope he turned out ok, he got carried off to hospital.

Me ? Yep. Hit for the second time in this game. It was another top edge going into my face but this time :
Positive - I was wearing a helmet
Negative - My technique lost out to "let's get out the way" and I turned my head away
Turning the head is actually really dangerous. The difference in impact point between that hit and Phil Hughes's hit was maybe an inch or half inch, plus a different helmet design. I think my grille had more coverage. Anyway, mine pinged off the grille on the side of the helmet.

Result - After a moment for the marbles to stop rattling and the sawdust in there to settle, I was back batting again. I was a little shaken up but kept on batting and anchored my side to what turned out to be an easy win. And then I nearly threw up in the changing room after. I did not feel at all well but was otherwise unscathed.

Third time ?

I was practicing keeping wicket in the nets, standing directly behind the stumps. A ball came in behind the batsmen, where the wicket keeper gets unsighted. The batsman got a top edge and ... I nearly end up chewing cricket ball. It bounced off my mouth and caused a cut that I should really have got stitched. It also caused minor neurological issues, in that I couldn't feel hunger.

That's weird right ? Yeah. Weird. What do I mean by that though ? There were two great examples :

Carrying on eating a massive pizza while full to bursting. I just felt a bloating in my middle from overeating, I didn't get the signal that says "not hungry any more".
Not realising I needed food until people were commenting on the noise coming from my middle. I had no idea that I was hungry.

That lasted for maybe a fortnight.

So yeah :
Nose Job - with lasting neurological effects. I'm a different person but I think I'm still ok.
Grille - an inch or so away and I may have been the unconscious one needing resuscitation.
Hunger Game - the lip healed and the hunger sense came back.

Yeah. I count myself very lucky. My memory is wonky but that's the only serious effect and that's mild compared to a stopped heart, broken or lost eyes and comas.

PS I figured out why I dodge Pretty Ladies. I suspect it's from a university incident ... I was walking through the hall of residence on my way through to see a mate. And ... a Pretty Lady (very pretty actually) comes running out of her room and ... all thought escaped my head. Yep. Even the ones which involved catching the Pretty Lady. Result - Pretty Lady runs straight into me and evening plans of having pizza with my girlfriend and generally relaxing turned into sitting in Queen Vic A&E waiting for a bad cut to heal up ... Yes, I need more practice in catching the Pretty Ladies.

Ah well.

New conclusion - Phil Williams sadly passed away as a result of his injury. Thoughts are with the family, friends and team mates.

Monday, November 24, 2014

Monday pics

After a quiet weekend ?

I usually need one of those after travelling up to see the mum & dad. It's the travelling. It's weird actually, I shouldn't get so drained when I visit them ... but I do. That was a pretty stressful weekend though. My dad's out of the hospital now, I'll give 'em a call later to see how he's doing.

Yep - restful weekend with not much energy output, just chillin' with music on the stereo, grand prix racing and recording catch up on the telly and lots of youtube vids on the pooter. No gaming, which is something I'm finding very strange, it's as if I'm mentally burnt out on the whole gaming thing.

I must channel my energies into something useful instead, like cleaning and clearing the house so it's ready for boarders instead of repelling them. Lots of work for the vacuum ...

Pics ?
I forgot my wallet this morning and was praying that someone brought in the donuts ... (I borrowed a tenner off one of my bosses, that sorted me out)

Actually, today it could have been just the coffee. It's turned cold here ... The temperature reported by the car was 1 to 2 degrees C and I think that cold actually triggered the pressure warning monitors on the tyres ... I.e. a little light came on which I needed to look up, happily that light went away by the time I got home. One mistake I won't make with this car is to wipe the inside of the windscreen, that seems to leave behind permanent smears. I have a hot windscreen blower thingy button that clears the screen pretty well.
Yeah - that summed me up today. Things hurt more as I'm getting older. But I'm still able to dodge the Pretty Ladies (question - why do I do that ? Dodge them I mean ?)
Which brings me to another plan thought up by a Pretty Lady - a midnight cruise. The idea comes from listening to the music on my phone in the car when I was dropping her off. I like that idea. Although I'd modify it to be : Cruise to spot in middle of nowhere, sit outside and watch the stars, natter to heart's content. And at this time of year, include a lot of blankets and thermos coffee for warmth ...
... and try to smile if you get disadvantaged by the snow. This car is the most powerful I've owned - 220bhp and, more important 500 thingys of torque, available at the rear wheels. That's a recipe for going backwards instead of forwards or even in circles if it gets icy.
And remember that. This is my philosophy at the moment and it's brightened by knowing at least one Pretty Lady likes to exchange messages with me. And that there's a bunch more who can never resist answering the Grin with a smile of their own.
Which is another great sentiment to live by. I have my flaws, where I'll freeze up and not be able to think of the right things to say. Or I'll get frustrated when I don't get a reply.

How come people think that's ok ? Not the reply thing but I do detect a "It's ok to be rude to Pete, he doesn't mind". Yes I do. I notice. And I really dislike it. And I'm definitely not mentioning any names there, it's just feeling I get different treatment from friends than they give their other friends. Weird.

Back to the pic - Yeah, I feel and look like I've been dragged through a thorn bush but I'm getting past the need to hide that by staying at home. I've been getting out more. I'm seeing my awkwardness as something to battle against and by getting in touch with a few Pretty Ladies, getting answering grins and generally reaching out to people more. I'm learning to see past the whole being ignored as :

If someone ignores me, that's their problem.
Should I let the frustration of being treated differently or being ignored bother me ? No.
My duty, is to keep being Me. And I like to think Me is a nice person.

One last pic ?
Saw that earlier. Had to nab it. I must get back into that Neverwinter Nights campaign, or the Baldur's Gate 1+2+TOB EPIC playthrough. Although there, it's not so much building the character as planning their progression to make the most unbeatable character possible.
Ok, ok - one more. I am proud of how that character turned out. It's Bashara the Troll Berserker, my first WoW tank. She's been retired for a long time now, last seen sailing off into the sunset in search of more adventure.

Friday, November 21, 2014

Seeing a story

I've not been reading that much these days, which I'm a bit sad about.

Depending on the book, I'm a pretty fast reader. Some books take a while, some books I'll fly through. 300 pages in a couple of days kind of thing.

Jack Campbell and Iain M Banks (hope his soul got uploaded to a good place) are examples of really fast reads. At least, Jack Campbell in his Lost Fleet series. I struggled somewhat with his Stark's War series and haven't finished that.

Suzanne Collins first Hunger Games book was a fast read too. I need to read the other two. That's where I've been today actually, watching the third Hunger Games film. I'm kinda glad this time that the third book has been split into two, it gives the story time to tell its tale. The first Hunger Games had a few things cut that added to the menace of the capital and was still quite a long film.

How is Mockingjay part 1 ? It's a stunning film and it almost got those tears out again. I'm really showing those emotions again, they're bubbling under the surface and threatening to erupt more and more. I like that. I buried those emotions for so long I forgot that I had them.

There is a positive and a negative side to that though. The positive is that I'm Feeling things more. From the emotions from a good story to the rush that gets my blood flowing and the muscles pumping. The negative is that the depression triggers are more prone to kick me where I don't want them to.

Things like attempting to interact with people but getting nothing back. A lot of that is my voice getting lost in the noise made by others attempting to interact with the same people. I do feel honoured though that the little lady aka Cupid's Gift has kept on exchanging big long chatty text messages. It always warms my heart (even outside in the freezing Bristol Xmas market today!!) to see one of those texts coming in.

Things like having an inkling, a desire to go to NEC Comic Con tomorrow but that "yeah ! let's go" being balanced by my personal batteries running on empty right now. I could do with a quiet weekend ... Genki Gear have some stuff I really, really want too.

Who knows ? Perhaps one of those new Bristolian regular readers will see this and pipe up with a "That's a great idea, let's go !" Lol :-) I should be so lucky.

So why no books ?

My skin condition has been rather messy and one place it gets messy is on my forearms. Which is where a book can tend to rest ... So I've been avoiding reading in order to stop wrecking my books. I'll not say any more there !

Except to say I'm winning and hope to beat it and be back to "normal"* by Xmas.

*Anyone who knows me well will agree that I'm anything but normal.

So what has been getting my attention outside of the books ?

I've been watching stories over the Youtubes instead. Games are getting more and more story based these days and modern hardware lets them tell the stories better too. Sometimes it's just a play through of a non-story based but campaign progressing game like Scott Manley doing Kerbal Space Program. Or it's the same guy doing a long play through of Xenonauts. In the space program, you're watching him expand the capabilities of what he can do. For a geeky engineer person like me, it's great viewing. In Xenonauts, you're watching him fight the war against an implacable alien invasion.

It's good stuff.

But me being me, it's not the first channel I go to for stories. Nah. I've always been more taken by the female voice.

And my favourite two female voices both belong to the Yogscast. There's a third and fourth now but they don't make nearly as much regular content as Hannah and Kim. Three and Four are KaeyiDream and Zoey. Kaeyi is inspirational for her continuing battle through ill health. Inspirational because seeing people like that fight through worse conditions than what I have gives me strength to fight harder. And Zoey is ... Cuteasheck (and also battling a psychological condition which is quite possibly meaner than the physical conditions)

Anyway - yeah. Hannah and Kim. Two lovely ladies with voices that I could literally, listen to all day.

In fact, I'm so behind on Hannah's content that I might be listening to her all day tomorrow. (Instead of Comic con).

I've mentioned them before but what are they up to at the moment ?

Hannah's working diligently through the Ubipocalypse. They've released a lot of AAA top games over the past week or so and Hannah is working herself into the ground covering them all. For us. Lovely Hannah.

I'm looking forward to :
Hannah's Advent - where she'll open gifts from the fans.
Livestreams - where our Yogscasts will include us, the audience, with the fun they'll have on screen.
More Hannah vids !

She's got a truly gorgeous voice and a personality that really shines through over the videos. I still need to play through the new(ish) Tomb Raider which I bought after thoroughly enjoying Hannah's playthrough.

Kim's always been a total darling for me, ever since she started doing her videos. It's personality again. If she wasn't so adorable off screen, I'd love her to bits anyway due to that wonderful, warm, mischievous, active, jokey personality shining through via her voice overs on the videos. She shares so much with us, it feels like she counts her loyal audience as her best friends.

Looking forward to her livestreams too. With that spontaneous sense of ridiculous fun coming through, what's not to like. Kim's main content is currently a playthrough of Alien Isolation.

I think that's another part of why I've been watching these stories over videos instead of playing the games. I'm actually finding playing games kinda tedious at the moment, although I suspect that would change if I found a coop partner to play games with. I drifted away from the communities in WoW that did that and was logging in too late to join in with the Silvermoon crew.

Kim's stuff ? It's part single player through of horror themed games, part coop on Minecraft or jumpy games like Alien Isolation. I have to admit, I'm finding the Minecraft content to be somewhat stale right now, although that's a failing of Minecraft. I'm still watching the Kim & Duncan and Hannah & Nilesy Minecraft content but it's struggling a bit, saved only by those voices and their ability to get spontaneous Fun out of anything.

Even being scared to death by aliens who like to look in lockers. And I think I promised a medal to someone too. We shall see there.

So yeah - I'm getting my fill of stories right now but instead of books, it's from watching the animated stories via the youtubes, narrated by a pair of wonderful voices backed by amazing personalities that really do add something to the story of the game.

And if you'll excuse me, I'm about to close my eyes to Nightwish on the stereo (they're ok, bit too theatrical polished for my liking though) and quite soon it'll be Kim in Kill Everything mode in Far Cry 3.

But not quite yet. Because that German Xmas market has reawakened an addiction to hot chocolate. Lovely smooth hot chocolate. Hmm.

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Hungry, Hungry ... games

I'm feeling the tiredness at the moment (and the effects of 90 minutes in a cold, dead car on Tuesday!) so it's a quiet night in.

I did have an opportunity to run into Bath tonight for a leaving run but to be honest - motivation to head out for that leaving run is lacking. It can be really awkward to get around Bristol on a weekday evening and Bath ? Even more awkward ...

However ... that quiet night is part of a Plan ...

It's the release of the third Hunger Games film tomorrow. So I'm rewatching the first two tonight. I'm currently halfway through the first. Could be a late night ...

They're cracking films actually, hopefully the third will see a continuing trend of them getting better and better. I'll be looking to watch it from Cabot circus, after sampling the German Market Bratwurst again.

And their hot chocolate. I've developed a taste for that again ...

If any of my local readers want to join me, I'd be overjoyed :-) Similar for Comic Con at the weekend. I'm still 50:50 about going. I'd love to pick up some of those Genki-Gear t-shirts plus there's a certain mug I want too ...
Anyway - a tired brain wants me to get back to film watching but I thought I'd share a few pictures :
Definitely. Check your biscuit stashes.
If you've been caught in the storms, I hope you're ok.
Had pizza tonight. Fully intend to have chocolate and hot chocolate. Not got any cupcakes, although that's likely to change tomorrow and ... wine is about the only alcohol I drink these days but I leave it for special occasions.
Last one. Stay shiny !

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Brain fuzzed ... send pictures !

Ok, so I'm flagging a bit. It's been a busy few days and I'm not quite as young as I apparently look.

Oh and I apparently look better without my glasses on. That's way cool ! Nobody's told me that before and I can't really tell for myself. All I see in the mirror if I take my glasses off is a big white blur with two little black blurs for eyes. Perhaps I should look into lasers ...

Pictures ? Yep. More pictures.
An amazing little lady loved this when she saw the (Evil Fluffy Bitey Thing) design on Monday and if I end up at Comic Con at the weekend, I may well pick up one of these. It's from Genki-Gear and I didn't get one last time cos I ran out of space in my bag. Boo hiss. They have some amazing designs.

Political aside - I don't put too much current affairs here because you see it all on the news and are probably sick of it from there. But ... with a certain objectionable so and so who's just been denied entry to the UK, there's an issue.

It's nothing to do with the idiot moron jerk swine bastard. Yep, I think his ideas should be earning him a severe kicking but ... I also believe in Free Speech. Their message is objectionable but we should let them deliver it. No one's listening but our society is based upon allowing people, however objectionable, to give their messages. We don't have to listen but censorship is against all we stand for.

Yeah, I think he should have been let in to the UK. And I'd have been one of the people cheerfully sticking the boot in if I saw him trying his dubious tactics on anyone I saw. I cheered the lady on Skynews who had this exact same sentiment earlier. She called him an idiot but also disagreed with him being banned.

Think less of me for that if you will but please ... back the Free Speech ideal. Because censorship is just another step towards fundamentalism and telling people what they should be thinking, instead of people making their own decisions as to what they should believe.

It's exactly the same as when people put stuff on social media that you don't agree with. There's one of the WoW people who keeps unfriending me, he has an unhealthy obsession with Kurt Cobain. I don't agree with that obsession (focus on life and the living !) but I agree whole heartedly with his right to express his adoration for the Kurt.

Pictures ?
There should always be room for pictures of the two Old Men. Scruff (top) is long departed now but well remembered. (Anyone would remember those massive paws of his asking politely for that bacon sandwich you thought was your breakfast but really should have been Scruff's.) And Ben the Staffy is getting on a bit too now, as you can see from the grey hairs on his cheeks.
I've been described as loving before. I love people, even if it doesn't become apparent past my usual awkwardness. And that accounts for everyone. People who are friends and family. People from work. People who pop in here. And I'd love it if my new regulars would give me a wave :-)

I mentioned comic con earlier - there's another one coming in Birmingham this weekend. I may go ... More likely than not, although I could do with a restful weekend. (Where I'll get bored quickly). Ok, so it's maybe 50:50. But if one of those quiet, covert Bristolian lurkers would like to go with someone, put up a paw and it might persuade me :-)
So is hot chocolate. And this post is getting looong, so I'm going to check for a solution in my mugs by checking out the hot chocolate that jumped off the shelf and into my trolley yesterday.

Cya !
Ok. One more. This was Ben on Saturday when my sister and I headed home to pick up overnight stuff for dad while my mum & dad went to the hospital. Ben's a creature of habit and we didn't understand that he gets a tin of munchies when my mum & dad eat. Poor thing was going berzerk. We figured it out in the end :-)

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

These things happen in threes don't they ?

Disasters I mean ?

Take the space programme's latest events :

The Orbital Sciences Antares launch system gets an abort after horrible things happen to one of its boosters. Result - rocket blown up 10 seconds into flight scattering bits of itself over the landscape and damaging the launch pad.

The Virgin Galactic SpaceShip Two has a pilot error exacerbated by a mechanical/design problem that results in the loss of the craft, loss of one pilot and severe injuries to the other pilot.

Hope they get to the bottom of that one soon, what seems to have happened is a failure of a lockout for the reentry system. The pilots are supposed to do two things to activate that reentry system. They did one ridiculously early (the pilot error) but the system should not have activated without the second lever being used (the mechanical/design error).

The Rosetta comet mission and its lander Philae. It's a miracle of maths that they managed to do the intercept, orbital mechanics are insanely complicated with massive numbers of variables to factor in. I totally applaud them for managing a mission success with everything that happened to the lander. It's a miracle it actually settled on the surface.

Philae has 3 systems that facilitate the landing. It has a thruster which pushes it down (comet gravity is miniscule so you can't depend on it). There are harpoons which are supposed to fire into the surface. And there are drills in the lander's feet. The thruster and harpoons both failed ... But it looks like the lander did what it was supposed to do scientifically.

Two and a half disasters ?

Moving a bit closer to home ...

My dad's doing much better now. After getting a partial hip replacement on Sunday, he's already able to get out of bed (partially assisted) and can move around with a frame. Hopefully he'll get his strength back quickly and be able to satisfy the ageing puppy's need for walks. We're hoping he'll escape the hospital by the end of the week.

My disaster came tonight ...

I needed to a) replace my mouse because it's left clicking too much (spurious double clicks) and b) needed supplies. So it's off to the Mall. Long story short ...

I do the shopping and put everything in the boot. All normal. Except when I grab the door handle to get in. My car has smart entry, where you keep the key in your pocket and sensors in the handle tell the locks to open. Nothing happened when I grab the handle.

Dead Car. No signs of life whatsoever ... Oh dear.

After an hour and a half wait for the AA man (I was able to get in with the mechanical key and stay reasonably not-cold), it turns out a locking nut had managed to work its way off the battery terminal and the terminal popped off. Probably as I closed the boot. This could have happened at any time ... So glad it didn't happen last night - "I'll save you from the buses and give you a lift home" "Erm - why won't the car let me in ?" Haha - woulda been embarassing.

My car is a bit weird with the battery too. It's another hybrid, so it has two batteries. There's a small (by car terms) 12 volt battery that starts everything else up. There's the 220 (ish) volt battery that drives the motors. The big one is under the boot, the little one is to the side of the boot but you need electrical power (you can attach jump leads under the bonnet) to open the boot. The terminal had popped off the little battery.

Last night was good fun. Our little Cupid's Gift lady seemed to be entertained by the jokes (I'm never quite sure) and we were chatting non stop until it was time to go home. She even suggested midnight cruises (she liked what she saw of the songs listed in the phone) where we could listen to the music. I like that idea. I like even more the idea of cruising out to somewhere out of town, away from light pollution where we can look at the stars.

I've never seen the stars properly. There's always been light pollution that blocks the full beauty of the cosmos.

I shall have to look up places we could go. And this time of year, investigate getting a thermos for the coffee and plenty of stuff to keep us warm. It's not full winter but it's still pretty chilly out there ...

Back to disasters - what's number 3 I wonder ?

I shall keep my eyes and ears open and awares.

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Well that was more dramatic than expected ...

This weekend saw me heading off to see the mum & dad again.

Birthday weekend !

It's my birthday on the 13th and my sister's on the 15th. So while we all live 100s of miles apart, we make the special effort to gather together on a weekend convenient to the birthdays. We don't buy stuff for each other any more. We find the gift of being together to be far more significant than present buying.

Present buying is really stressful isn't it ?

There's the finding out what people want.
There's the acquisition of it.
There's hoping it's what they really, really want.
And there's the getting it to the right place.

That said, I still do love getting things for people. It gets them smiling, which is the biggest thank you anyone could wish for. Hmm. Is it ? Hugs are better. But I'll settle for smiles.

But this weekend took a rather dramatic turn ...

We'd headed out to a local pub/restuarant for birthday munchies. There was a kerb ... It shouldn't have been there, it was between car park and pub. It was just a kerb in the middle of the road/path between car park and pub. I tripped on it but managed to catch myself before toppling. My dad ... didn't.

Result - a sideways roll to the floor, narrowly missing bumping his head on the wall behind. Thankfully that didn't happen (head injuries are hellishly dangerous, I should know, I've had 3 !) but the damage was done on the way down. He has a broken hip which has been operated on this afternoon.

I don't know the results of that yet but my dad is a fairly active guy. He doesn't get the chance to go golfing any more and they're moving because there's too much garden to manage but he still takes the muttley walking several times a day so that keeps his legs in good shape. He's probably in better condition than me to be honest, that's a sign of how inactive I've been.

So we're hoping that when he comes out of the surgery, it won't take too long before he's back on his feet.

I hope Skye understands that I'll be anxious for news when we meet tomorrow but I'll try to not let it interfere with the evening. Hopefully she'll let me buy her dinner :-) I'm quite nervous and anxious and that first first date for way too long but at the same time, really looking forward to it. I hope we end up talking into the small hours.

Wish me luck. But more important, wish my dad luck.

He needs it far more than me. Hopefully it's an easy surgery with no complications for the recovery.

PS I'm still thinking of going to Comic Con next weekend in Birmingham and there should be space in the car for one ... The other two (maybe 3) spots are booked already ;-). Dunno which day though.

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Birthday Milestones

Another year, another ring on the tree.

And on the mention of cute trees, the I Am Groot movie comes out in 11 days and I almost preordered it just now ... I'll wait until it comes out and see where I can get it cheapest. I need to find time to watch Hunger Games 1 and 2 before the third comes out anyway.

Birthday ?

Yep. Birthday today. I'm not telling which age it is on here - muahaha. I was however incredibly chuffed to get the following reactions to the "Guess how old ?" game :

Two guesses of 30. Awesome. Love that.
One guess of 32 from our Poster Girl. Happy with dat.
And a shocked falling over backwards from the Poster Girl when she found out the True Age.

Must be all the preservatives in the processed food that dominates my diet. They're apparently preserving me well.

Plans ?

I'm currently home chilling out to Duffy's Rockferry special edition double album. It's a lovely album filled with gorgeous songs from this quirky, distinctive, unusual voice. She's allowed to have her head in this pair, her voice doesn't suit normal songs, they need to be made for her voice. You'll have heard Mercy before but that's not my favourite. I'm not sure what the favourite is actually, there's so many amazing songs here like Stepping Stone which just played over the speakers. I'll link another couple when I do the A to Z - R post in a week or so.

Today saw me collect the Cakes from the Asda next door. Dunno what it is about Asda but it seems to collect the Walmart Denizens.

There's always lots of appreciation for the cakes and donuts. The cookies and donuts are all gone but there's still a few cakes left if any of my colleagues on site reading this would like to come up and say hello tomorrow, taking a cake away with them.

I usually say things like "A small(ish) selection of cakes just escaped from Asda" only to find "wow, that's lots" from people as they see the hoard. I tend to get a little carried away with the cake buying.
Nope. No one was harmed in the removal of the cakes today.

Although with a Little Lady who works downstairs, when she bakes miracles happen. If someone attempted to remove one of those cakes from me after I got my fingers on it, there would be a dead body. Same with Pixie Cakes. They're amazing too.

I didn't do much tonight, except for drift off to the Mall for a wander around. That was partly down to seeing what traffic conditions were like. Bristol goes to gridlock very easily and tonight was one of those nights. I decided to wait it out in the Mall.

I don't often buy much but I find wandering around the shops quite therapeutic. I know. I'm a bloke. That's not supposed to be how it works. Nah. Nothing bought tonight, however ... the following are new arrivals :

Thor and Thor 2 from the BionicDwarf - both pretty decent movies, with the second being an improvement over the introductory first. I'm looking forward to going through the Avengers series again, of which these are part.

Thomas Crown Affair (Brosnan and Rene Russo) from CK - sexy thriller with lots of sparks going between the two leads and an excellent soundtrack too. I'll enjoy this one too.

Defying Gravity from CK - of all the series which I wished had continued, this is the one I was most disappointed to hear being dropped. It only managed part of 1 season but what was made was top notch stellar scifi. It was telling of a grand tour of the solar system in the hunt for artifacts. The Earth was portrayed as semi-utopia with a massive dark side. I really wanted to know how that was going to play out.

I've also acquired games, courtesy of's sale : Riddick, Stronghold Crusader and Xenonauts (all 3 have soundtracks - surprise, surprise)
Music : Coves - Soft Friday and Maroon 5 - V.

I'll go see the mum & dad & Ben the dog too. It's my sister's birthday on Saturday. It'll be a busy few days actually as I hope that the date on Monday night goes ahead. (Don't wanna jinx it but I have my hopes !)

One last pic before I go :
Poor dino.

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Little Interstellar Breakdown

Before I dive into the main bit (shredding Interstellar's sciency bits), a couple of other things to natter about :

I use the word "Little" as a description for some people. I hope they don't mind ! I see it as a valid descriptor meaning that they're shorter than I am. Nothing more than that, nothing less. And I think "Little Lady" has a certain ring to it too. That said, "big girl" also has a certain ring to it but I'm not going to be using that. A lot of ladies are sensitive about their size, which cuts out "big" and other ladies will get the dagger eyes out if you call them a "girl".

It's a little strange that I find one descriptor ok but others to be anathema. I hope the little ladies don't object to me using that descriptor. I personally attach it to "elfin", "cute", "dainty" and a few other descriptors that mean nice things. Conversely, calling a lady "big" when you just mean "she's taller" will lead to a slapping ...

Forget descriptors - all ladies have their own special beauty, no matter what size or shape they are.

Second and this is where I put SPOILER WARNING ! Read past this and I'll be putting in spoilers for Interstellar ... Christopher Nolan is guilty of a lot of crimes against science but he's no Michael Bay. I wanted to see the Turtles movie but avoided it because all reports say it's an abomination. Like the accursed Transformers movies.

Despite all the faults, I really enjoyed Interstellar. There's the people who appreciate the story and there's the people who will throw things at the screen due to the dodgy science. I'm somewhere between the two. I really enjoyed the movie but there was a little part of me screaming inside (it wasn't quite dead yet after Michael Bay killed Transformers).

Soooo ...

Going to the black hole water planet first. Why ? With the time dilation there'd be no way to coordinate planetside with orbit. And it's a short lived solution due to the impending It's Gonna Get Sucked Into The Black Hole !!! thing.

Not anticipating conditions on the water planet. We have our tides due to the presence of our moon, so it stands to reason that a water planet next to a honking great big black hole is going to have tides too. Big tides. Not mentioning the lack of anticipation of the effect of time dilation on the scientist who landed.

The Ranger craft. I liked these as a concept. They're a lifting body aircraft which looked good in the movie and made sense from the science point of view. But ... when they take off in one from Earth, it needs our biggest rocket to date (a Saturn V) to lift it to orbit. Yet on the new planets, it suddenly becomes Single Stage To Orbit and can get there on its own. This is despite the water planet being 130% the gravity of Earth.

The whole causality thing. Who put the wormhole there, who brought the astronauts and T.A.R.S. into 3d space. Causality is pretty nuts.

One way wormhole when it comes to communications ? Very convenient from a plot point of view.

The Blight - it feeds on Nitrogen right ? So it should be metabolising the Nitrogen into something different. Possibly NOx compounds or NH compounds. Either way, the Nitrogen component of the air should reduce right ? Mind you, NOx compounds and NH (Ammonia) compounds are also really nasty. But ... it did seem like the Blight was more a bio-terminator targeting the staple food crops.

The airlock blowout - holy carp that was dangerous. You would have thought those claw things wouldn't operate only as a lock, they'd assist with the mating process joining both sides together. Or perhaps that was the bit disabled with the autodocking.

Distillery - they land a distillery on the ice planet. What happened to it ?

Ice clouds - what's holding them up ?

Choosing the second planet. I think I'd have prioritised the planet with a breathable atmosphere over one with a poisonous atmosphere but then again ... engineering the plot again.

I think that's enough for now ...

The thing to remember though, is that if you can keep that little voice inside quiet that's begging to scream out at the inconsistencies and the bad science, this is still a remarkable movie on all sorts of levels. The visuals are incredible and I loved the characters. So much that when Mr Cooper bursts into tears listening to the messages, I'm almost ready to blub too (that's not the bit that got me).

I'll still get the bluray when it comes out, will probably get the soundtrack if it dips to an acceptable price. But I'll be gagging that little scientist voice to stop it spoiling the story.

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

There's a post in here somewhere ...

I'm having those uppers and downers again.

On the one hand, I can flip into that hyperactive state that sees me bouncing off the walls and thinking so quickly I can't get any words out when trying to speak. On the other, there's the danger of the depression triggers being flipped when I look for a response but don't get one.

Personally, I'm seeing good things and bad things with what's going on with me :

Good - the skin problem genuinely seems to be retreating with bad bits being reclaimed. It's happening slower than I'd like though.
Bad - my back and neck really hates me. My neck's been getting gradually stiffer and stiffer and could do with a bit of TLC. My arms and legs do what I tell them to and the lost range of movement doesn't really affect me most of the time (bowling is all done, crossing legs can be awkward). I think most of the neck and back trouble is tied up with my problems getting to sleep.

Sleep ? Yep. Is an issue. What I need to learn is a mental programme to send me off to sleep. I used to have one that got the ZZzzz's but it's not working too well. My mind races through all kinds of thoughts. Sometimes it's wondering if I'll get replies to messages I send out. Sometimes it's seeing faces with smiles and laughter that I wish were directed my way. Or even just that soft smile we save for someone special.

I've had a few of those faces pop up in my mind over the years, Sometimes it's people I know from work, sometimes it's people like the little lady off the videos. Now it's another little lady I hope to meet for real very soon.

Good - I love it when I get a response. I've been fairly active on Twitter since I joined and I'm now following over 100 people. Most of those are very interesting people. Some are ordinary people who need a little help. And it's great when you get a response (even if it's just the "favourite" button being hit) when you send over a message. I see the messages on there showing people are in pain, I'll tell them something supportive.

Perhaps that's what I'm here to do - to find those in pain and help them feel a little better. Even if it's just sending smiles their way.

Bad - I have that need to have a response when I do things for other people. Not necessarily a "thank you" but any response. What causes me most stress is when I pour effort (and usually a bit of my soul) into doing something nice for someone and I don't even get the acknowledgement.

It's makes me less motivated to do the nice things again. I'm not creative in the way that an artist can make a pen do magic things to a bit of paper but I can think of a concept and make one image into another. (This is why I'm frustrated with GIMP, cos it's harder to use than PE1).

But yeah, my biggest motivation is when I can do nice things for other people. Sometimes that's a Grin to bring a smile from them. Sometimes it's a bit of work they need. Sometimes it's a comment to make them feel better, sometimes it's making one of those pictures.

So you can imagine it does strange things to my mind when I make comment after comment after comment and don't get any feedback. (3 replies in 6 months - but I hope knowing that doesn't make me Mad Stalker, just a person with a good memory who invests a lot in looking for a reply). I suspect I may be getting lost partly in the noise but ... you look at some threads I respond to and ... I'm the only reply.

I guess with the person I'm thinking of there, it may show a difference between Public Face and Private Face. You fall in love with the Public Face (and it is incredibly cute, adorable and has remarkable intelligence and humour behind it) but don't realise the Private Face is rather different. I guess you could call that dodging a bullet by not ending up in a position with someone who isn't who you thought they were. And yet you see the things she says and you know there's so much compatibility there, at least as far as the Public Face goes.

(I suspect there's actually something going on which isn't for Public Eyes, which would explain the lack of response)

I'm hoping for something rather better when I meet the other little lady who's picture has been cropping up in my mind lately. A description of a cute, quirky, intelligent, active and lively lady caught my eye enough for me to break the reticence and get in touch. And over the conversation since, I've just got more and more interested. I suspect there will be a fair few smiles when we do meet.

And hugs too. I'm still missing the hugs I could do with after a second viewing of Interstellar. The reason that film gets to me is that it heavily stresses the themes of Duty, Honour and Family. Certain bits of the story deal with unresolved emotions.

Or is it a more romantic Sleepy coming out ? That could be interesting .... I hope so. Because if I can get a lady to smile due to thinking of romantic things, then that'll get me beaming too.

Cos that's what I live for - making other people happy. Perhaps that's another aspect of the depression trigger ? I.e. I do something nice, I don't get a notion of whether it makes them happy, the dark bits of my mind assume they hated it and that makes me unhappy.


Oh I also live for Running Very Fast and I'm getting closer ...

I actually hit the Warp Speed button last night when coming in to the cinema from the car park. Result ? Everything works mechanically, I just need to rebuild muscles and twitch responses to get Warp Speed back again. But ... the legs responded properly (even if my quads were misfiring!) and even if it wasn't the speed that saw me clocked at 11 secs over 100m at age 14 (last time I had the watch on me before my knees went bang and then my back), it still felt good. Very loose technically but still promising that I'm still capable of it (even at my age - lol !).

And that felt good. Not as good as if the wind were rushing through my ears but still good.

Yeah - uppers and downers. But with that, I'm looking forward to hopefully meeting a little lady on Monday. I have big hopes but don't want to jinx anything.

Join me in hoping it works out ? Cos my confidence could do with the boost.

PS This may also be a sign of me tiring and looking for the Xmas break to come. Yeah, could be ... but I do find thoughts of tiredness evaporate when there's a Pretty Lady smiling at me.

Saturday, November 08, 2014

A to Z - P is for Perfection

Not all the P's, I did a small selection in the O's post but there's lots more to come.

First up is a collection from the Pet Shop Boys. Definitely a good one to start off a Perfection post because they don't have much to take advantage of in the voice department but what they have, they take full advantage of and then polish it to perfection in production. The highlight here is definitely their breakthrough track : West End Girls.

I wonder if my waitress last night was a West End Girl ? She hailed from Belfast and it was wonderful hearing that accent again. I haven't lived in Northern Ireland for almost 30 years now so my accent is pretty much gone but it's great to hear it again. Miss L at work still has her's and it was good to run into her again the other day at the lunch queue.

Peter Gabriel had a habit of giving his early albums numbers instead of titles. I didn't think much of his 2 or 4 albums but numbers 1 and 3 were exceptional with varied, quirky and very well composed music that fit together well as albums. I'd pick out Moribund the Burgermeister from the first album and Games Without Frontiers from the third.

Edie Brickell comes in with her solo album, Picture Perfect Morning. This album closes out with the wonderful Lost In A Moment, which ... tears warning.

Next is a pair of albums from the ever divine Katie Melua, Pictures and Piece By Piece which I think is the better album. Pictures has some sickly sweet tracks including What I Miss About You. Piece By Piece has wonderful track after wonderful track including the amazing Thank You Stars, I Cried for You, Nine Million Bicycles and may I someday be some lovely lady's special Shy Boy.

Next up is a soundtrack - Planescape Torment was another Dungeons and Dragons rules set game, this time set in hell. It's one of the better regarded ones and how come I haven't played it yet ? Yep. No game time but I've thoroughly enjoyed listening to the soundtrack. Here's the trailer.

Gorillaz came back in with the very strong Plastic Beach album. It's their strongest yet with plenty of variation and some very special songs. My highlight is Empire Ants, which builds up gradually and then explodes.

Moby's Play is possibly a little too perfect. Yes, it's very good but it's so polished it gets cold. Still good but not one I enjoy as much as the Katie Melua or Edie Brickell albums here.

Talking of perfection, here's a bit of Nordic angelic astounding singing in the shape of Lene Marlin's debut album. The track that originally caught me was Sitting Down Here but I think the strongest is Unforgivable Sinner.

Sleeper's Pleased To Meet You comes in with the P's. Again, a fairly decent album but not quite as special as their debut. Still, it gives a decent first impression with the opener Please, Please, Please.

Hello Air - if I get married, their tracks All I Need and You Make It Easy will definitely get played on the day. But those are on Moon Safari (I only mention them because they are SO special). Air's Premier Symptome and Pocket Symphony are the P albums. They're ok but the polish is probably taking away from the Gallic character and inspiration.

And if there's a singer I fell in love with as soon as I heard her, it's Mindy Gledhill. Wonderful singer, wonderful person. She's the truly innocent, beautiful of face and spirit girl next door with the voice of an angel. Her latest album is Pocketful of Poetry and it's ... wonderful. Check out Little Red Bike.

Some old school ? The Police had a turbulent passage but that may have generated some of the best songs, led by that perfection of Sting's voice. I know one person who I thoroughly believe Everything She Does Is Magic and the Little Cupid Lady is joining her. I look forward to her messages tremendously.

Going the other way is a voice that's so imperfect, it has a special beauty of it's own. It's Portishead with the unique Beth Gibbons. Their P is their second album, which has Mourning Air. I challenge you to play that and not get your attention caught.

Bjork sneaks in with Post, which is another album that shows off the character of the artist. She's totally unique, adorable and spiky at the same time. The famous tracks are Army Of Me and It's Oh So Quiet but my highlight is the magical Possibly Maybe.

Heavy Metal time ! I bought a Nightwish cd yesterday to check it out but here it's Iron Maiden with Powerslave. Good but not their best to be honest although it has a cracking opener with Aces High.

If you ask anyone what their favourite fantasy movie is, there's a good chance that they'll pick the Princess Bride. And the soundtrack backs up what's on screen. It's a Mark Knopfler special and ... that swordfight ...

Talking of great movies, there's Pulp Fiction which is loaded with amazing tracks. My favourite is Dusty Springfield with Son Of A Preacher Man.

And it's that time again ... last album and it's another soundtrack. You'll see another from this artist in the R's. It's the Puss In Boots soundtrack which is another that matched the film really well. But it's the guest artists that shine - Rodrigo y Gabriela. Check out Hanuman.

And that's all for the P's ! There won't a Q post cos I don't have any Q's. I do have a couple of Queen's Greatest Hits cd's but those come in under G ...

Cya next time !

Friday, November 07, 2014

Interstellar Waterworks

I actually cried today.

Not sure how long it's been since that happened. It doesn't happen too often. I get to the verge of it and catch it before the blub happens.

Ok - back up a sec. What happened today ? (To put your mind at rest - nothing bad, apart from the slight tragedy of a Sleepy going to the movies on his own)

Normal working Friday, which means staying as long as I have to in order to keep the flexi in balance. That's not as bad as it sounds, as I'll stay nose to grindstone and finish things off before leaving - it's easier to do that than restart something half finished. And then it's off into the centre of Bristol.

It's the opening day of the Bristol German Xmas market today. The best bit is the munchie stands to be honest. Traditional German Bratwurst for Big Sausages. Perfect for lunch munchies.

They have a lot of merchant stands up too, selling mostly touristy tat and a hell of a lot of sweet stuff. You could put on a stone just by walking past the stands. I want to go to the Bath Xmas market as well now, that's much bigger. I've not been to that one for quite a few years.

Film ?

Interstellar is amazing. It matches Guardians of the Galaxy for best film of this year so far. Hell, possibly of the decade so far. The no-spoiler synopsis is that Planet Earth is dying and we need a Plan B. Conveniently, a wormhole has opened up in the outer solar system and we send people through the check it out and if necessary, recreate the human race on another planet.

The sciency bits are in there and they're believeable and understandable. All the characters will tug at your emotions in one way or another. Matthew McConaughey is the undisputed lead and it's his best movie yet, of the ones I've seen at least. The effects are stellar (sorry)

It's long but doesn't outstay its welcome (cough - AI - cough). In fact it keeps you guessing as to where the story is going all the way through.

And it made me cry. I'll not say why, except : Go see it to find out.

I'm not ashamed to admit that I could do with a big hug right now after seeing it and when I see it again, I'll be looking for someone's hand to hold.

I see those feels as a very good sign actually. I grew up squashing my emotions down and they didn't come to the surface very much. That's made me into a quite reserved person who didn't show much. I feel that's changing now (perhaps a consequence of Nose Job 1 ?).

The new feels are good feels. They're making me feel more connected to the world.

But by eck I could do with a hug at the moment. And someone to talk to.

I wonder how many times I'll see this one in the cinema ? Saw Guardians twice, I may see this one more given opportunities. I'll see it again with the Crazies on Monday but I think for more seeings, it'll be with someone asking me to come along with her.

So if you're Bristol area and want a buddy who will hold your hand all the way through this one, lemme know :-).

Gotta go now - will be hoping there's either :
A message waiting for me from the Pretty Cupid Lady or
Amusement to come from watching Little Miss Kim videos
And that'll cheer me up no end.

Wednesday, November 05, 2014

Why we buy nice things

Since I got my new camera a few weeks ago, I've been short of chances to play with it ...

Must get out more and get snapping.

But before I dive into "why isn't an iPhone camera good enough ?" I need a different pic for the thumbnail ! Excuse me while I dive into the archives ... Hmm. I'd really like to put in a picture of a Pretty Lady smiling because that always cheers me up but :

I hope I resist that temptation today :-) Ok : iPhone pic from a little while ago (ok, the last full moon when I was constructing a reaaally bad Jade Rabbit pic) :
You'll agree that's caught none of the definition of the moon. Not much of anything actually. I'm kinda surprised you can see definition on the trees.

Camera on auto :
Ok, that's still pretty bad, even when you zoom it in.

Camera on night portrait mode ?
That's better than Mk1 Eyeball. From the sounds of the clicks and whirs inside the camera, it took one frame with flash and quickly followed with a series of extra exposures to catch the low light stuff.

I'm impressed. Must try and find more excuses to play. I'd have liked to try and snap some fireworks but I don't think I'll get to a display. The most local ones were actually last weekend and I'm planning to watch Interstellar either Sunday if a mate comes along or I'll watch it first opportunity Friday if I get the chance.

Could be a busy week for cinema actually :

Friday last week - Maze Runner. Impressive. Both the film, which I'll definitely get on blu-ray and the cinema, which was the new(ish!) Showcase Cinema De Lux. First time there and the popcorn was ... ok. Film was better.
Monday - Fury. This is a World War 2 film about a tank crew. Very gritty, earns its 15 certificate for sure. It captures the mood for sure, both the terror of battle and the desperation of trying to stay alive.
Tomorrow - could be Frankenstein (more below).
Friday / Sunday - Interstellar, depending on that mate's availability.
Not actually sure about a movie for birthday week (13th and I'll add another tree ring) but Hunger Games 3 will be out on the 20th. That's a must see.

Frankenstein ? I know someone who is deeply into watching and playing horror stuff. She's also deeply in love with a certain Benedict Cumberbatch (have to admit, if I were a girl, I'd be fighting people off for him too). And ... the Frankenstein theatre show where he plays the Creature is being played again tomorrow night.

What better way to drown the sorrows ? I have to admit I'd feel very inferior next to the Cumberbatch but it would give this amazing little lady the chance to get to know an adoring admirer a little better. I think she'd like me, it's just having the chance to check out the owner of the Dwagon Pics and the Grin.

Oh and there'd be a dinner in it too. Our little lady's fans were much amused by a twitter exchange where she told us she'd been grounded for having the instant noodles again (the entire exchange reinforced that "100% adorable, 100% of the time" impression). I think she'd get a pass to go out if it involved a good meal.

And I'd be more than happy (overjoyed in fact) to buy dinner for the Pretty Lady. Perhaps a bit late though seeing as it's tomorrow evening. Maybe Interstellar ? Sorry Mr Mate but the Pretty Lady would win every time !

This has gone beyond pictures and cameras hasn't it ... Perhaps. But there's more currencies than just cash. There's the currency of being nice to people. I give out my Grin for free and I get smiles in return. I like that. So while money can buy you flowers and chocolates, it's being nice to people that I hope makes them happiest. Sometimes that's the superficial things like the flowers and the chocolates, they show being nice in ways that you can sometimes be too awkward to express. I know I get rather awkward around Pretty Ladies.

But a better way of being nice is to show as much respect as you can. To be polite, say nice things (and mean them!) and generally do the things that get you the good karma.

One last pic :
There's two people I have my eye on for that Player Two. One I know way too much about from the videos, the other is on Okcupid. Not spoken to the second for a bit but she is another incredibly busy girl. I wonder if that's a type that's catching my eye - someone who has a definite purpose in life and an energy that keeps them fully involved with Kicking Butt And Doing Stuff.

It's a comfort actually - one of the potential Player Two's engaged in a highly amusing twitter exchange and the other seems to like what I put in the messages.

Hopefully one of them will be that Player Two. Perhaps if we move real fast (here's my mind jumping to conclusions again and running through scenarios ridiculously prematurely quickly) I can solve someone's lonely over Xmas problem. Nothing would make me happier.

Ok - one more pic.
Sometimes I think I resemble a tree when my thinking speed goes to treacle. Oh ! Only 3 more weeks till this comes out on bluray :-) Prepare the pre-order.