Tuesday, March 31, 2015

On the bright side

I'm feeling better today after yesterday's post about me struggling.

Part of it is rationalising the thoughts about that dear friend who's had that major trial. A lot of that is trying to understand what they've gone through and how they're dealing with it.

If someone's struggling, you shouldn't be telling them how to deal with it. Unless you happen to have gone through that same trial yourself. That goes for everything, from pain, to illness, to the impact of psychological or physical attacks. Unless you've experienced the same, you can't tell people how they should be dealing with it because you don't truly understand it.

But what does that leave ?

Gentle support. Let them talk through their issue. Let them explain their pain. Remind them that they're strong enough to stand up to the people attacking them.

We all have that strength within us, although we sometimes forget. We can remind those who have forgotten that they're strong.

For me, it really does help to at least think through my problems. And sometimes the problems of others. I'll write things out here, like I'm doing now. But I don't write everything here, some of it stays within my brain. Like the trial my dear friend has gone through, like the trials other dear friends have faced (and still face) over the years.

We can listen, we can support, we can tell people how brave they are in being that awesome person. We can step back in amazement that they bend, not break under that strain.

And when we can't give them their answers, due to not totally understanding their pain, there's always the all-enveloping bear hug. I hope I give good hug. I definitely give good smile, it's contagious.
I've definitely cheered up today. And there's a few reasons for that :

Expressing the feelings yesterday. We have to do that, bottled up feelings just fester and make the strain worse.
Lots of good chat. Hello SQ and LTK !
A fantastic friend who tolerates my geekiness and often challenges it (Hi CK!)
And more friends too.

Not to mention - messages from Cupid's Gift that turn a slightly pained shamble into a hyperactive bounce and a struggle :
Into :
In fact, I just saw the pic from Comic Con again and ... instant Silly Grin.

Yeah - I'll struggle. But I bounce back. Usually when people remind me that I have a certain strength inside.

So if you have a friend in need, if they're struggling, give them some help. Don't tell them how they should deal with it, you may make their situation worse through misunderstanding. Let them explain what they're going through. Let them talk through it.

Support them. They'll appreciate it. And they may well return the favour when you need a little help too.

I know I have those friends I can send random stuff to and they'll make me feel valued with a little chat back. I'm a lonely guy, that chat back is the fuel that feeds my smile.

PS There's an announcement coming here tomorrow morning ... be sure to check it out.

Monday, March 30, 2015

Quietly Struggling


Time for one of those again.

I'm really looking forward to Easter. This time of year is always especially hard for me. It's a long drag from Xmas across to Easter and I believe I'm one of the hordes that suffer from Seasonal Affective Disorder. Perhaps getting a special day lamp might help me out. The light I get in my main room is a little dingy (it's an energy saving bulb and they're always dim) and more yellow than it should be.

So yeah, I'm grimly hanging on until I can rest up over Easter.

The daft thing though is, I should have enough reserves in me to have lots of energy. That is, I've gained the weight back so there should be energy waiting to be unlocked. Perhaps that's two sides of a problem ? Chubby = lack of energy = low metabolism that doesn't burn off the fat ? Could be.

There's more though. I've been thinking of one person in particular lately. She's been through something that no person should ever be put through. I'm not saying much more there because the trial is ... severe. You might be getting the idea that it's pretty major though. So major that while I have my own need to talk to people about it, I've kept what's happened with me and only me (which is how it will stay).

My need to talk is coming from what my unconscious empathy has picked up. I do that. I'll pick up on what other people are feeling and it'll often either confuse me or I'll go numb to defend myself from it. All unconsciously ...

My thoughts are definitely with that one person. Right now typing this, when I'm trying to get to sleep, when I wake up, when I hear a notification on the phone "yey ! message !". You get the idea. It's daft, I have trouble saying things like that to people, yet I can write it here. I think she's one of those irregular readers that keep coming back, so I hope she reads this and takes it as a safety-hug.

But what I can do is :

Never think of someone in one of those trials as broken, they're not. They have strength and it's up to us to remind them of their strength.
I can gently support.
I can be a friendly ear to let them talk through the trial. This is more necessary than people think, bottled up feeling (like what I've done a few times) is very harmful, especially when it breaks out.
And I can offer all enveloping safety bear hugs.

And there's the daftness I try and inject when I talk about things.

So yeah. There's a very special and impossibly strong person out there who I have in my thoughts, from waking to sleeping. I'd like to help her out.

And if the call came, all tiredness would be (temporarily !) forgotten and you just know I'd come running to help out.

Cos that's who I am. I think more of helping others than I do of helping myself. It goes further than that, the problem with my outsides has continued so long because I've neglected myself, making it worse instead of helping it.

How is that ?

I'm definitely improving on the outsides. Skin is gradually normalising, some patches have been reclaimed to soft, pink skin. More patches are steadily improving. But I have to allow it to heal, which is tougher than it sounds due to my "IMPERFECTION DESTROY" compulsion.

House still needs a lot of work and it seems like the jobs are piling up. I may need to rip out the bathroom and replace it ... The reason, lots of wear and tear and there's a leak under the bath which may need destruction to access. I also need to get the heating sorted still. The system can heat the water but not the house ... and it makes a racket while heating the water.

The house is something I really need to get sorted. It's a mess at the moment and I'd be too ashamed to have anyone come in the front door. See that comment about me jumping to help others while ignoring the help I need to give myself.

I always like to end these downer posts on an upper though.
Despite the depression attempting to have it's way, I can still count those blessings.

Lots of friends who I can talk about (most!) stuff with
Friends I can joke around with
An imperfect, painful body but a body that's steadily getting better and is mostly intact

But most important - there's a little lady out there who brings out, not just the Standard Pete Grin, but the Silly Grin that banishes all bad thoughts and brings out joy. She's being a bit quiet at the moment, which I fully understand.

May you all have that person you can turn to that banishes the dark and brings out the light.

Thursday, March 26, 2015

A to Z - X is for Xylophone (also has Y's, Z's and 0's)

We don't hear enough of the xylophone in modern music.

Create a new cause ! Bring Forth The Xylophone Bands !!!

So what have we got in X ? I am going to cheat too. There will be Y's, Z's and Number Albums here too because we're that close to finishing off.

First up is Coldplay with X and Y. Another good album from them but their main problem is that so much of their stuff just sounds the same as the last track. Which is sad. Great individual tracks, bit of a bore of an album. But still very listenable to.

Next one up is a game soundtrack, this time from Xenonauts. Very creepy soundtrack, rather fitting to the game, which is an Aliens Invade And We're Not Ready game. It's set in maybe 80s time and typically for these, you're outclassed at the start and racing to catch up and then keep up with the technology the aliens have to play with. If you'd like to see more, there's an excellent playthrough from Scott Manley (linky).

The XX are a group that emerged a few years ago. They quickly stood out with a fairly unique sound, with the two vocalists blending in with the instruments in a way that was inspired and sublime. Their self titled album is a cracker to listen to. Highlight ? Crystallised was the track that introduced me to them, it was a freebie from iTunes single of the week.

And we're quickly into the Y's with Franz Ferdinand's You Could Have It So Much Better. This one's a great one to listen to as well. I've been listening to several Kings Of Leon albums too, their Y is Youth And Young Manhood. Again, a decent album but ... it's not that female soaring vocal archetype that gets me sitting up and listening.

No Z's ? That doesn't seem right for a Sleepy Person. Must see if I can find some Z albums.

The Beatles have always been an incredible band and I picked up their 1 album quite a few years ago. Still enjoy it, it's loaded with cracking songs like Eleanor Rigby, Yesterday, Something and Let It Be. They made some very sweet music in their time.

I picked up Air's 10,000 Hz Legend which is another decent album but none that really stand out sadly. Still worth a listen if you can find it cheap. Air are different enough to be very interesting :-).

In seeking to expand my classical collection, I picked up the 40 Most Beautiful Classics album. Classical can benefit from collections. With vocal music, I prefer to avoid collections and get the main albums but classical collections cut out the filler and just have the excellence.

Kasabian's latest is 48:13. Again, a really good album but the songs mush into each other. It doesn't have the character of Velociraptor. Another mushy together album was Kate Bush's 50 Words For Snow. It's a shame Kate Bush reached her zenith with The Sensual World, the rest of her albums were missing that early brilliance. (Must listen to The Kick Inside again soon).

One album of sheer brilliance is Suzanne Vega coming in with 99.9 degrees F. This one is loud, tuneful and showing off some unusual ways of making the music. Possibly her best (after Solitue Standing) and the highlights just keep on coming, including Blood Makes Noise (which makes impressive use of stereo) and the sad songs like Blood Sings and Bad Wisdom. Highly recommended.

Last one for the A to Z's :

2001 was a great movie. Ok, perhaps it was a little slow in parts but it still stands today as one of the best movies ever made. In my opinion :-). The special effects still stand in excellent stead in today's era of computer graphic animation. And what ties it all together is a soundtrack that shows off some of the best classical music. I'd thoroughly recommend watching the film and listening out for that soundtrack.

That's it for the A to Z's ! I may do another at some point for all the music that's appeared since I started these. All those albums that missed out the first time around. I think The Staves with Dead and Born And Grown was one of those. I'm enjoying working my way through listening to their new album but I'm listing it here just so I get an excuse to listen to the amazing Wisely And Slow. Great harmonies.

Great music.

I hope if anyone's been reading these, they've been introduced to some new music they've taken a liking to. That's the main reason I do the music posts, to expose people to new stuff that I hope they enjoy.

As I hope you enjoy this one ! (Listen to the Staves ...)

Monday, March 23, 2015

Raiding Comic Con

Yesterday was a great day.

We raided Comic Con in Birmingham. We ? Cupid's Gift came along !!! In her words : "woop woop". :-) Happy Pete Was Happy.

Still happy actually.

What happens at a Comic Con ? Some would say the attraction is in the stars that come along. Quite often it's stars from series long gone or stars not that well known from more recent shows. To be honest, the only one I recognised was Virginia Hey, who was an especially beautiful flower from Farscape. But the blue was having terrible effects on her skin so she was written out. Nah. I don't go to places like this for the stars (who charge lots for autographs).

The main attractions are split into the writers, illustrators and creators of some very special comic art. I wrote about the lovely Nina Serina from the last Comic Con, who couldn't be there this time around. That's a shame because meeting her and nattering was a highlight of the last Comic Con. Plenty more on show though.

There's a lot of merchandising happening at the various Comic Cons. It can be anything from t-shirts, to art, to badges, emblems and statuettes, to videos/dvds, to games, to computer games, to imported munchies (just finished a brownie - yumyum Cheers CG!). You get the idea. CG picked up some pretty Kitty bowls and a few more bits and pieces too. T-shirts. I'm a bad influence (definitely!) so more t-shirts escaped than otherwise might have. Including ...
Yep. After hearing Cupid's Gift say those words "Evil Fluffy Bitey Thing", she had to have the t-shirt. It's not the words, it's the addition of Hypercute to them in the delivery. Definitely heartmelting. She's an immensely strong one that also brings in that adorable cuteness too.

Yep. I'm considering myself immensely fortunate to have crossed paths with her.

Where's the t-shirts come from ? These and the next couple are from Genki Gear. (Linky). They sell that Covered In Germs mug too which attracted more than a few groans at work today. Which was the exact intention behind buying it. Hahaha.
Release those attack kittens ! There will be no escape. Or maybe later :
The words in the bubbles are :
"Was that a gentle breeze or your so-called fire breath ?"
"We deride your mayhem causing abilities"
"You're barely 120 foot tall"
They will pay. Mark my words.

I bought a couple more but I'm not going to show pics because I intend to surprise a few people with the one on Friday. It's quite mild compared to some Friday subversive t-shirt specials I've had. Come to think of it actually, it better be because it might end up on my next passport photo !

The last bit about Comic Cons is the cosplay. There weren't as many at London Comic Con but it was maybe 30% in Birmingham. The level of effort varies. There's some simple ones which are pretty much just onesies. There are nearly-there's. There's some scary ones (like the Everquest girl who was very large and not wearing very much - my eyes ! my eyes !) and some intentionally scary ones like the pair of Predators. That was cracking cosplay. There's the nigh on perfect, like the two Nialee's (a League Of Legends character with fur bikini).

And there's the show stoppingly spectacular :
Hail The Emperor, long may he watch over us and protect us from the demons.

This guy must have been seriously at least 8 foot tall in the costing, with the Khorne symbol dominating everything. He must have been baking in that suit but so totally well done. I salute you, even if you are Chaos Ridden Scum. (On the outside, the guy inside is a legend).

Yep. A good day out. For the show but most especially :

Because I helped a Pretty Lady thoroughly enjoy her day and come out with massive smiles.

And that makes it so worth it - and what makes me hope it won't be as long again before I see her again. Because if a Pretty Lady is smiling because of something I've done, that's me feeling on top of the world. I'm tired now but I'm not feeling it because ... Pretty Lady Smile !

Thursday, March 19, 2015

What's In A (Ship) Name ?

I've been enjoying playing Elite again. The new one that got released at Christmas.

It's not complete yet, there's still a few features that they're looking to bring in. But it's already a better game with more in it than the original ever had. (Saying that, it was an incredible achievement that they packed so much into the original.) Yep, I've been enjoying it.

The reason I got a little disillusioned before was that it seemed to be taking ages to get anywhere. I was doing low margin trading, going from system to system moving items and not getting much profit. I've switched to doing the high margin, low volume rares trading now and I'm hoping to get bigger and better ships soon. And then I'll go exploring ...

Before I dive into the ships, a little about how you configure them. There's a lot of customisation here. 5 grades of modules and different sizes of module. Bigger guns are ... bigger but they're also more powerful. But that weight slows the ship down and means you hyperdrive jump less distance. My trading ships are built light for maximum cargo.

Ships ?

Here's the hauler :
Pretty game isn't it ?

That's a basic Hauler class ship docked at one of the outpost stations. It's stripped down for carrying stuff. No guns, no shields. And it's already been down to 33% hull integrity before FLAMING DEATH twice. What could we call that ? I'm a fan of Iain M Banks' Culture novels (may he rest in peace, we miss The Culture).

Starbug - that's from Red Dwarf. Which leads you on to :
Prepare The Brown Trousers ! or
Please Don't Shoot Me
Only Passing Through

Next ship is the Adder. I had one of these before but I have enough for a long range hyperdrive now (costs more than the ship) and it has very nasty guns on there too. Best for the class of ship.
You could call that the Battlebus. It carries the same cargo amount as the Hauler, which isn't enough for the rare items trade route I'm doing. But it also brings Guns and Shields and a similar jump range. How about those names :

"I'm small but watch my bite"
Previously Anaconda, Been On Diet
Slowboat to the junkyard
I can do multiplication. Long Division too !

After the Adder comes a Cobra :
And for colour, I chose the one from Google Images that shows how the ship used to look in Ye Olde Times of last century. The Cobra allows more than double the cargo space (40t up from 18t in the configuration I'll use) and better defences and guns. Names :

Nothing Illegal Here Officer, Honest (some of the rares need smuggling)
These Aren't The Rares You're Looking For (Star Wars ref, doesn't really work does it)
Fer-De-Lance is in the shop
You Feeling Lucky ?
Want Me To Be Your Outside Context Problem ?
Shinies ? Who Hid The Shinies ?

Yep. Culture ship names are known for their eccentricities. Next up is the Asp Explorer. I'm hoping I can get one of these after the first run around the 71 stop route and then I'll slowboat around with the Asp. It'll carry 88t because I'll have it fitted for discovery scanning too. After the second run, I'll head off exploring the galaxy.
It's a bigger ship, built for exploring. So what would be a fitting name for that ?

Where Are The Interesting People ? I brought guns
99 Stars Out There To Explore, 99 Stars Out There
Darn, Left The Snacks At Home
It Was The Third Star On The Right Wasn't It ?

I thought of a few more earlier but, typically as my memory goes, the best names have faded ...

I hope you enjoyed all those daft names. Maybe drop a comment with more if you think of them ? I've tried to avoid names that are already part of The Culture name set, although the OCP one props a nod in their direction. A final couple :

Type 6 Lakon - is a smaller hauler. Call it "May Carry Cookies"
Type 9 - is a massive hauler. Call it "May Have Eaten All The Cookies"

Cya !

PS I still have "Sleeping Dragon" in mind for the narrowboat.
PS2 My Cmdr name in game is "Iceangel". It was good to bring that name out of retirement again.

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Thoughts about : Obsessive Compulsive Behaviours

Let's face it - we all have these. Admit it !

There's nothing to be ashamed of in personal habits that could be labelled as obsessive compulsive. In fact, I think it makes people more interesting when they have distinctive traits and unusual behaviour is one of those traits.

Where's this thought come from ?

It's from a conversation the other day when someone let me in on some of her habits. (They're her's and not for here !) But they did get me thinking - what habits do I have that could be labelled Obsessive Compulsive ?

And then I thought - how do we form these habits ? There's usually good reasons for them. Or daft reasons for some of mine. Some are obsessive about cleanliness. I wash my hands but I don't obsess about it. Mostly because my immune system tends to laugh at tummy bugs. But others will catch every little tummy bug that's going, which might give rise to a cleanliness obsession.

I kinda wish some of the people at work had more of a cleanliness thing going ... you know the ones I mean. The ones who leave the loo unflushed and definitely those who don't wash their hands at all. Yuk. I may have that immune system that laughs at most bacteria (except the skin one - that's odd) but other's don't and they'll get ill at the slightest germ. Saying that though, I'm definitely going hunting for the Covered In Germs mug at Comic Con.
My mug at work is a bit nasty. I firmly believe the coffee tastes better if the mug is a little bit ... matured. But ... I wouldn't hear of anyone else drinking out of that mug. Nope. Guests get a scrubbed mug.

So - about my habits. They range from the deranged, the strange, the neurotic, the odd and the timesaver.

A neurotic one is driving. I'm really nervous when someone else is driving. I'm not in control and I can never trust another driver like I can myself. Cars are dangerous places and part of me has to maintain control of dangerous situations. Yep. I feel that's definitely an obsessive compulsion. But you look at it - and you see the reason behind it and ... I think it's a good one to have. I'm the one who gets neurotic but it's not bad enough that I can't be a passenger.

That's one lesson I'd pass on - it's ok to have an obsessive compulsion but don't let it own you. Be in control of what you do.

Deranged ? When preparing to bat, I'd always put the right leg pad on before the left. I'd always put the right glove on before the left. The pad is ok. The glove is a bit deranged. There's extra padding on that glove, which makes it more awkward to do it that way. So why do it ? The superstition in me says it brings me luck. Totally untrue of course, there's only one way to bring yourself luck in sport and that's by practicing more. You do other things in cricket, like tap the bat on the ground before the bowler bowls. That's to get you moving, as you have to move fast to play good shots.

Timesaver ? I like to have my windows and applications arranged just so. At work, I'll fire up everything in the following order - Communicator, Excel, Internet Explorer (yep - workplace cruelty still exists), Outlook, Windows Explorer. It fits a pattern that I'm comfortable with and I know where everything is quickly.

I've developed a "Must Raid Canteen Before Closes" routine. That's partly to get me away from my desk for a few minutes so I'm not sat there all day. Freshens the mind etc.

On those windows - I have my tabs in Firefox set up a particular way. It's not optimal, if it were, Blogger would be on 1, Facebook on 2 and Twitter on 3. Instead it's :
1 - Violence Reborn - Warcraft Guild
2 - Blogger
3 - Sitemeter
4 - Facebook
5 - Twitter
6 - Statcounter
7 - A Deus Ex HR walkthrough
8 - A Mass Effect 3 walkthrough
9 - The 71 stop Elite Dangerous Rares trade route
I only regularly use tabs 2, 4 and 5. 3 and 6 get peeked at when hits come in to the blog so I can see who's looking. I don't always get an answer, many people don't get logged by Sitemeter or Statcounter. 7 and 8 were playthroughs I stopped but I want to keep the place. 9 is the latest, I've switched my Elite activity to running through that massive trade route. I'm hoping it'll quickly get me into one of the top ships, one I can explore the galaxy in.

I have my iTunes window set up to a pixel perfect size. It will show 40 tracks on a page and you can page up/page down without it ... I dunno how to describe it ... If each track is 20 pixels high and there are 40, that means you need 800 pixels in that bit of the window. If the window is 801 or 799, it doesn't page up/page down right.

More habits - odd. I like my clutter. It's familiar ... But I really must invest in more bookshelves so I can get that clutter in more socially acceptable cluttery patterns. I have trouble chucking things out too. Must blitz the place.

I arrange my listening to music in a certain way. Albums interspersed with random tracks. It varies what I listen to but is definitely verging on obsessive.

And there's more too. I tip my head or close my eyes when I'm trying to recall a dim memory. It's like I'm changing the hard drive or something like that. I've done that since Nose Job 1

People form obsessive compulsive habits for good reasons. Sometimes it's for daft reasons.

If you have some, make sure you own them. Don't let them own you. Be proud of them, they're what make you who you are. Never forget :
Yep. That's you reading this. Despite your habits. Because of your habits. They make you different, which is the root of being special.

Sunday, March 15, 2015

Mothers Day and Cozy Ideas

First up - Happy Mothers Day for all those who celebrate it this Sunday !
Yep - that's the original of the one I've been using as a happy message dwagon :-).

As per tradition, I'm spending it with the mum and dad as a chilled out weekend. There's also Ben :
Who would be overjoyed if you were to play with him.

Yep. Chilled out weekend with the parents and the big sis will join us for a while tomorrow. It's still a bit too chilly at the moment for a lunch/dinner/barbeque but that's getting nearer.

We saw something today which gave me a Bright Idea (translation - if a health and safety person heard of it, they'd ban it). Here we go :
It's a firepit table. We didn't see that one but you get the idea. People sitting around a table which just happens to HAVE FIRE BELCHING OUT OF THE CENTRE.

Cue daft idea where you could chill out and toast marshmallows and other assorted items (just don't soak them in kerosene - who'd do that ?). That definitely appealed to us. It's not quite warm enough to do it yet though. Soon. We've had a pretty mild winter so far, it's tried to snow a few times where I am but we've just had floods of rain instead.

Oh and if you cook something on that firepit table, I know someone who would be very interested in what you make :
Especially if it involves steaky type bits and pieces. Or sausages.

In other news - Comic Con in 7 days ! (or 8 if you read this on the overnight when I post it ...) Excited :-)

Thursday, March 12, 2015

A legend passes - RIP Sir Terry

Legend ? More like titan.

The first we knew of it was a series of poignant and heartbreaking twitter messages from his official Twitter and the account of his daughter, Rhianna. Here they are :

"Terry took Death's arm and followed him through the doors and on to the black desert under the endless night"

And there was a link to an announcement too.

Here's my tribute :
I'll wear that avatar for a little while. I think it captures what we feel. Terry Pratchett was a unique genius. He captured comedy, ethics, spiritualism, magic, laughter, satire and downright silliness in a way that everyone from 8 to 80 (and beyond!) could appreciate.

His books were amazing. I feel a bit sad that I've only read a small selection of them. My personal favourites are the Guards books, the Witches books and especially the books where Gaspode the talking dog starred. I had tears at the end of Moving Pictures where the colour drained from Gaspode's vision as he turned back into a normal dog.

The Death books were incredible too. Death was a highlight whenever he appeared in the books. That unique viewpoint on ... life. He just didn't get people, which was the whole point of the character and was what made him so utterly funny. I thought when completing the avatar above, "I need a Death Of Dragons". But sadly my GIMP and drawing skills aren't that advanced.

It's a terrible loss. He was totally unique and I doubt whether we'll see his equal for a long time.

But his body of work lives on. And it's an incredible body of work. He brought so much joy to the world through his books. He made us think. He made us question.

He made us laugh.

RIP Sir Terry, we'll miss you. But then we remember the characters, the scenarios and we laugh. May he not go with a moment of silence, may his passing be marked with applause.

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Random Convention Pics

Comic Con in 12 days !

I guess you've already picked up that I'm quite excited by it. I'm looking forward to a fun day out seeing a Pretty Lady's joy

I've had a daft idea though. Well, actually two daft ideas. The first daft idea would have seen me walking around with that old Dwagon Hat on. You know :

Hats are awesome
Dwagons are awesome
What could be better than that ? A Dwagon Hat :
Sparkly things are awesome too.

So if wearing the Dwagon Hat was one daft idea, what's the other one ? Think - leather jacket + the rain hat + a shirt. What are you thinking there ? I know what I'm thinking :
Yep. Need the whip to complement the other bits. Not doing the daft tache though. Tempted by the outfit though. Very tempted.

Random pics ? I collect these, usually from Facebook, sometimes from Twitter. I like to pull them out for special occasions. Or if I need a chuckle. Here's one :
Poor pusscat. I know how the poor fella feels too, although it has been getting warmer lately.

Remember that dress ?
But but but - dwagons are sources of cuteness ? And sometimes popcorn :
That fiery breath must come in handy for that.

Conventions ? I have my eye on another one now, it's CoxCon, due on August 1st and 2nd. I might well go along to that. It's in Telford which is maybe just under 2 hours from here. We shall see.

Will definitely try and get some random convention pics from Comic Con next week.

Monday, March 09, 2015

Keeping it simple

Saw this on the Facebook feed the other day ... had to grab it :
Lots of good lessons there. So far today :

I've called someone up - the weekend Mothers Day trip is arranged. Must get on to the floristy type people too.

I have a mention for a very close friend too there who has had a sudden and unexpected loss - we're here for you. Free hugs on tap, think you need them. Thoughts are with you.

Meeting up - oh noes ! I had a chance to say hello to Cupid's Gift this weekend with a coffee meet up. Sadly I'll be 180 miles away ... But we'll see each other for Comic Con, which should be huge fun.

Wanna Be Understood - I need to do this. We have a few plans at work which I'm responsible for but however much I try, I haven't found the time yet to get them updated properly. That'll happen. Soon. This year hopefully.

Have questions - If you have a question, especially a daft one, make sure to ask it. Especially the daft ones. Half the time, the other people in the meeting have the daft question too but don't want to look daft asking it. The daft thing is when it goes unsaid ... and a timebomb starts ticking.

Don't like something - I don't like being tied into having to take the bus. I don't like having to share the pavement with cyclists who should be on the cyclepath. I don't like that I haven't healed instantly after the antibiotic course (it's coming - steadily ... but there's a lot of damage to repair). I don't like not getting feedback on stuff I do - I've been having far too much fun making dragon messages but don't often get anything saying how they were received. (I think it gets lost in the noise)

I'll keep sending them cos they make me laugh :
Hindsight ? It should have been Wrath Of Lomadia. This was from an impromptu stream from a group of Yogscasters playing Dota2. It started with a game against random people, who had an idiot reboot his PC mid game, which made for a very long pause which incurred the wrath of Hannah. To be feared for sure. There was then a match between two groups of Yogscasters and Yogsfriends. That made excellent viewing, we didn't know who would win ... until the Pretty Ladies Sang. (that'd be Zoey and Hannah).

I hope the dwagon pics make other people laugh too. I'd love it if I got asked for requests.

Like something - the messages from Cupid's Gift. Definitely. Always.
Smiles from Pretty Ladies. Makes my day. Actually, those messages make my day too.
Politeness and courtesy - it costs nothing and makes everything easier.

I feel there's an imbalance here - lots of lines about dislike, not many lines about like. However, I suspect there's enough about like stuff in the dislike bit to make up for it. That's my story - haha.

Want something - got my iPhone battery changed today :-). It was a freebie because my iPhone suffers from a recall problem. That is, hopefully "suffered" and I won't have that battery anxiety problem any more.

Love someone - tell it. This is a tricky one. I hope people reading here have been seeing feelings develop for a Very Special Little Lady who I keep talking about (to demolish confusion, that'd be Cupid's Gift). But I don't want to jinx it. There's a brilliant Cardigans song - For What It's Worth.

I've got a feeling I've not had for a while and I don't want to chase it away by being premature or scare it off by overdoing anything. But at the same time, another little voice is saying "don't be too subtle". And there I go overcomplicating things.

Back to simple - it doesn't stop me from doing a Pause Everything !!! when a Cupid's Gift message comes in. Yep. That'll be me with the silly grin tapping away a message in reply.

And now it's me waiting on tenterhooks for the next message coming in. Is that love ?

What I do know is there's a lady out there who has let me in a little bit to her private zone and has encouraged me to share stuff I rarely share too. There's an understanding there. And I have that mental image of her chuckling away as she's tapping out those text messages.

Yep. I think there's something there :-). And my friends at work think I'm happier since meeting Cupid's Gift too.

I'm interested to see where it goes :-)

Friday, March 06, 2015

A to Z - W is for ... Warble ?

It's been a while ...

Not many more of these to go and what a good album to start with - it's The Wall by Pink Floyd. Ok, not the best album but it's the last good one from their 70s era. There's a bunch of classic songs here, like Another Brick In The Wall, Comfortably Numb and Goodbye Blue Sky. I'd recommend the movie adaptation with Bob Geldof as something reasonably worth watching.

Why am I not going nuts over this one ? Pink Floyd struggled somewhat as their band make up changed. 60s was wonderfully psychedelic with Syd Barrett. 70s was angry but tuneful with Roger Waters. 80s and onwards was dull and mediocre (although there is the occasional shining light on A Momentary Lapse Of Reason). This was their last great album. More later ...

Sophie Ellis-Bextor caught my eye again with Strictly Come Dancing reminding me of how well she can sing. She's in here with her latest album, Wanderlust. It's a decent album, albeit lacking a little in inspiration. But still a good listen. Highlight for me here is The Deer And The Wolf.

Oh my - here's a classic. It's the original War Of The Worlds with such legends as Justin Hayward, Richard Burton, David Essex but although I really enjoy Forever Autumn and will happily sing along to Thunderchild, the highlight for me is Spirit Of Man for Beth's (Julie Covington) vocals.

Up next is a couple of soundtracks from an old legend and its promising followup. I really need to continue the playthrough I started. It's Wasteland and Wasteland 2 and the soundtracks are suitably atmospheric.

Did I mention classic vocals ? Here's Enya with her debut album, Watermark. The highlight here will always be Orinoco Flow.

Another debut comes from The Ting Tings with We Started Nothing. I love this album, it's bright pop with lots of punk thrown in too. She's not the best singer, they're not the best band but I still love 'em nonetheless. I regret missing out on seeing them last year (feeling too grotty) but I'll hopefully catch them when they come back to Bristol. One highlight of many is Great DJ.

The classics keep coming - Frankie Goes To Hollywood had a burst of inspiration for Welcome To The Pleasuredome, the first half of which is excellent with tracks like the title track, Relax, Two Tribes, War with The Power Of Love being one of the closing tracks. Decent album but could have benefitted from losing some of the poorer tracks.

Kasabian aren't the female pop/rock/indie vocalist band I'm usually interested in, so their albums must be good. They're here for West Ryder Pauper Lunatic Asylum and my highlight is Fire.

Barbra Streisand is one I borrowed from my dad, she's here with What Matter's Most. She's an absolute legend of a singer and my highlight here is The Windmills Of Your Mind.

I got introduced to Aimee Mann by a good friend oh ... too many years ago. Her W album is Whatever, decent album but I didn't really pick out a highlight.

Arctic Monkeys have been quite prolific although I don't think they're as inspired now as when they came out with albums like Whatever People Say I Am, I'm Not. Great album, it sets a tone early and carries it through. They stand out cos they're different. And this album finishes off wonderfully with A Certain Romance.

Snow Patrol are the opposite, they started a bit weak and definitely improved. Their W is When It's Over We Still Have To Clear Up.

I've enjoyed listening to The White Stripes, they're here with White Blood Cells, again not as inspired as albums like Elephant.

Oh dear ... here comes a Christmas album - yep. I bought White Christmas. Moving swiftly on ...

An oldie but a goodie, classic crooner's Chris Isaak's Wicked Game is a classic album with songs like the title track but followed up with good ones like Blue Hotel too. Well worth a listen.

Paul Weller's Wild Wood is a decent album, although not a favourite. The title track is my highlight.

One of the best albums I have is Wish You Were Here from Pink Floyd. The tribute tracks here are outstanding. One of the strengths of the album is how the tracks link in to each other. Like the track Wish You Were Here starting up as someone changing the radio away from the previous track, jumping over several stations and finally finding a guitar playing. He then plays along to the guitar and off goes one of the best songs there is.

Last one ...

And it's a weird one. Look away now if easily frightened.
Yep. I own this album. And I thoroughly enjoy it. In fact, I may pick up Chas and Dave's collection soon too. There - I said it. Oh this one's a classic. Definitely English/Cornish cider swilling goodness. From The Combine Harvester Ooo-Arr-Ooo-Arr to I Am A Cider Drinker.

You haven't lived if you haven't heard this traditional brand of fun song.

And I'll run off now to join the rest of you who are no doubt, running away screaming ... (there's a song for that too !)

Tuesday, March 03, 2015

Dear Me

The latest meme that's going around at the moment is based around : "If you could impart some advice to your younger self, what would it be ?"

I've made my fair share of mistakes over the years. Sometimes I wish I could change the outcomes or the circumstances I waded into. Let's see :

Pursuing extreme speed while walking - this really messed up my knees, pretty much finishing the job a bad tackle in rugby started. (Someone caught my ankle while I was at top speed, it twisted the leg, all the force went through the knee - ow)

Not really getting involved in the social side at school - I don't really think I missed much here. I'd still have trouble keeping up with social small talk even if I had been more involved at school. Besides, I had the cricket scene to dive into.

Oh and a lot of that time spent on my own instead of in groups had me turning my imagination to engineeringy type things like : designing a remote control car. Programming on the computer. Building worlds for d and d. Trouble is, I didn't write a lot of that down, so it's faded into memory. But it was good to dive into those alternate realities. They're shinier than this one.

Getting hurt - and getting hurt more. This is pure physical pain. After the knees, I hurt my back at 16 in my first year in the men's team. Too much bowling. The year after, I tore a groin muscle that is my major I-Hurt today.

I hurt my shoulder at university. It was dislocated while playing badminton and the same injury tore the rotator cuff. That's the muscles that hold the arm in the socket. That's an 18 month injury and more recovery time after that. I was able to bowl again after resting it for that time but it's worsened with disuse since. Oh well.

I have a lot of finger and hand injuries from the cricket too - I've broken a few fingers and had minor fractures on others. Due to the strange way I feel (or don't feel) pain, I didn't get those fingers checked out. No matter - I could still use them. It's just strange things like the natural Vulcan salute and not so strange things like my wrists feeling like glass sometimes.

I regret passing on my third car. That's the only one I truly have regrets passing on. The others were either not great cars or breaking down. The third car was a Vauxhall Belmont SRi, which had a magic combination of economy and power (it was from before catalytic convertors robbed both). We had a lot of work done on that car and it was pretty well sorted by the time I took it on from my mum. It didn't have power steering, so my mum was really struggling to drive it. The replacement was a Rover 420, which was an absolute horror for reliability.

This is a list of regrets isn't it ?

Just one more. Actually two.

I've been in two major relationships in my time, one at uni and one during my working days. I went into both for what I felt were the right reasons. Both ladies were pretty and more important, intelligent. Being able to hold that rational conversation about Stuff is key. And that's having respect for the other person's opinion too, also recognising that several opinions on a subject can be valid. When that happens, lovely debates ensue.

(Lots of Wall Of Text phone messages bounce between me and Cupid's Gift - and it really brightens my mood and pulls out the smile when one comes in)

Yep. I went into those two major relationships for what I thought were the right reasons. However, it turned out that I was being used in both. One for my brain to help her through uni and to help out with the transport and other things. One to get her away from a domestic situation which was intolerable (too many people in one house). Good people (and I still get on well with the mum) - but too many in one place.

That kinda scared me off relationships for a while, not helped by the condition of my outsides. I'm hopeful that's changing though. Even as an introvert, I like being around people and I'd like to be around one particular special person. (See Wall Of Text message comment !)

Really looking forward to Comic Con. And maybe the film Chappie too if we go see that.

So what message would I give to my younger self, given all the possible regrets I list above ?
Do it all again.

Don't hesitate. If you see something you enjoy doing. DO IT.

The fast walking gave me sprinting muscles. And I do enjoy running Very Fast.
The cricket made me feel part of something. And I was very good at it, in all departments of the game. So although it's left its mark, I enjoyed every second (well - apart from when it was freezing and raining!)
The relationships helped me learn vital lessons about life. And there were lots of good times there as well before they ended.
Being with that computer let me learn skills that are important for everything. Computer logic teaches problem solving. It also makes you assess exactly what's going on, including the implied above the explicit.
(That helps decipher what our media tries to make us think too)
I didn't get the grades I should have - but I got a job that lets me get involved with Very Cool Toys.

I've had a good life. So far. I'm hoping it improves and I hope I'll be able to be that rock that improves a Pretty Lady's life too.

So my advice to my younger self ? Again :

Don't hesitate. Do what you enjoy. Perhaps prepare better. But - it was great the first time, do it all again.
Or there's that. Cya !

Sunday, March 01, 2015

Strange thoughts

I had some strange thoughts surface last night in the sawdust that makes up my brain ...
The thoughts were popping up while I was watching England in the cricket. We were doing ok, if not spectacularly in the first half. We were batting and didn't quite get enough runs to put enough pressure on the opposition. In the end, our bowlers were a bit too toothless to get the wickets that would have made the game anywhere near tight.

Strange thoughts ?

Seeing them run around the field and seeing how my arms and legs have improved (and continue to improve now I'm through the course of antibiotics) awoke thoughts of "Maybe I can play again ?"

Yep. I'm really close to being clear enough again to do running around type activities. I dunno how long it is since I've been able to say that.

So those crazy thoughts are starting to come out again. Perhaps I could play again this summer ? I wouldn't want to be a full time player, I'd certainly not be playing in the longer games on the weekends.
The reality of it is though, that I've been past the point where I'm useful on the field. I can still run reasonably quickly (not tried that for a while actually) but my failing reactions are why I have the big doubts. Plus cricket is a much tougher game than it looks, if you slightly misfield, it hurts more than you think.

Case in point today - Herath got his hand to a ball hit back at him really firmly. He got a cut on his bowling finger, may well have broken the finger. That'll be him out of the World Cup if it's broken. My hands and fingers are covered in old injuries caused by slightly getting it wrong while fielding.

I would be forced into getting new glasses, although that's been due for a few years now. And I should really go on a fitness regime to get my body into some kind of condition ready for the season.

I'm nowhere near perfect yet. There's still damage that needs repairing. But ... it is steadily repairing now. Good skin is becoming predominant again and it has that creamy smooth feeling that's going to really annoy my boss when I rub at it next week. Not in a "worry at the damaged bits" rubbing, more an unaccustomed "wow that's smooth" way. Hopefully it continues now that I'm off the antibiotics. Hopefully the nasties have all been cleared out. I still have an absolute tonne of the White Gunk (Fucibet) that has been a major help with sorting out the bad bits.

Coming back to cricket is a very daft thought though. When I tally up the current damage I get :

Sore left calf - it doesn't like the walk in from the bus, especially when it's cold. I suspect more use would help it but there is a little strain there.
Shoulder - bowling is still impossible and it's still stiff. No power throwing for me ...
Hips - still make me want to scream if I move my legs the wrong way.
Back - is still stiff. ALthough I suspect again, if I ran around it would free up.
General tiredness - hopefully this will come good as the days brighten and I catch up on sleep.

So yeah, I have that curious blend of feeling frisky and feeling old. There's that feeling of knowing how much I enjoyed scampering around the closer areas in the cricket and wondering if I could still do a job there.

We'll see.

Cross fingers that the bad stuff stays away this time. It's been a long time coming ...
PS Other news - my hearing's back to perfect again ! Must have had an infection in there that's got sorted out by the antibiotics. Hurrah - means I'll be back to watching movies tonight. Let's see ... Divergent perhaps ahead of Insurgent coming to cinemas ?