Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Puppy, Shiny, Family .... Munchie ?

I'm back now after going up norf to visit the mum and dad and ...
Puppy !

Rather old aged puppy now. He has his own emote now :
(pic is blocky because it's blown up severely from the 112x112 you have to use for the emote)

It's heyOAP (old aged puppy) on the Discord server that I keep an eye on. Cos it's a gamer community with a bunch of good people. That one was a classic Ben pose as he was enjoying himself bouncing around the garden. I made the pic above for the server to replace an emote they like using ... which has issues with copyright. No such worries with that pic, the copyright is mine ! Or perhaps the parents on behalf of BenPup.

He's getting on a bit now. He still has a fair bit of his old bounciness but that is moderated by continuing pain from his paw, quite possibly stuff going wrong with his insides and a need to disappear off for sleeps. But that personality is still in there and we'll remember the Ben long after he's gone. Just as the fam remembers Goldie and Scruff.
They're only here for part of our lives but we are there for all of theirs. Or at least as long as they are with us. Ben, Goldie and Scruff were all rescue dogs who we took in after a few years of their lives. They're only here for part of our time but they definitely leave their mark.
They give us fun with their play;
They give us their unconditional love. (Usually in conjunction with how much food is on offer !)
And they protect us as well. Here is Ben keeping an eye on what's occurring in the back garden. He'll check out the front of the house too, especially with the lamp post which is a bit of a local check in board for the local doggies.

I don't think Ben has that much longer with us, although I see it as a bonus that he's had much more time with us than I thought he would. He's a very old dog now, more asleep than bouncy.

It is great to see the family again though, even for the shorter times I can manage with them before my outsides decide to be uncooperative again. They need to be kept clean, including getting rid of the debris from them healing but ... too much attention makes them worse. I'm still improving on the whole though, it's just that a few days away from the house doing stuff like wear socks all of the time (bad ankles - remember) takes its own toll.

But it is getting there.
As was the puppy in his excitement watching us having the Christmas dinners.

We don't do the presents particularly any more, although the dad did get copies of the Neil Diamond and Status Quo albums that appeared in the library over the weekend. Somehow, there are almost 300 new tracks still to listen to in the music library. Ok, a massive proportion of that is from game soundtracks ... I'm still on the hunt for an album by Lisa Hannigan that hasn't come down in price enough yet.

I also have another keyboard ... It's a Steelseries Apex M800. It's a mechanical keyboard, which means that instead of an array of pimples in a membrane keyboard, it has proper key switches. It's a much looser feel than my last keyboard, which felt very stiff. I didn't really get on well with that one. Erm ... it's actually a £150 keyboard, so I'm hoping for high quality from it. I didn't pay £150, there was £70 off in the sale plus I got another £50 off through a voucher that was about to expire.

Happy times. It does feel good under the fingers too (although one finger is held up a bit by having a plaster on it.) And it has lights that follow what I'm doing too. I'd take a picture but the light change on keypress decays to normal before I can get the camera ready.

It's good to be back for some rest, relaxation, recuperation and general lazing about. I have a week now before heading back. There will be much video watching and computer game playing in that week ... Let's see :

Internet spaceships with the Elite piloting;
Not-so-Internet spaceships with the Stellaris strategy;
Supersoldier hijinks in the Deus Ex's;
Otherworldly factory building;
Motorsport managing;
What else ... maybe a bit of sail boat shenanigans too.

Must get back into the books too.
And sleeps too. I should note there that no Ben's were woken up when taking these pictures. He can hear the camera shutter noise the phone makes and it wakes him up. So I'm either taking the pic from the other side of the room or being very careful.

He does get copious amounts of fuss though in return for these pics :-).

And he got the leftover pigs in blankets from Xmas/Boxing Day dinner. We shouldn't really give him stuff like that (because it makes him ignore his proper doggie formulated dinner) but ... that face.
How could you resist the Gaze of Pup ?

Thursday, December 22, 2016

Christmas Break Time !

Got some time off now.
It feels like it has been a long year but it's also a year that has flown by.

Me ? I feel really tired now but I think I'm also getting more of my own potential back. A few years ago, when the illness with my outsides was at its height, I felt like my capacity was down to maybe 30-40%. Now, I'm getting back up to the 80s. Still not back to how I should be but much closer. A lot of that has been down to :

Generally improving, although that's got up and downs to it;
A better situation at work;
Figuring out what I enjoy and what I haven't been enjoying so much.

With my outsides, it feels like it has moved on again. A few years ago, I had a raging infection inside me that wasn't going to kill me but it was exerting its own ravages on me. Now the damage is restricted to a few stubborn areas that are refusing to heal up correctly. I'm still my own worst enemy there as I'll attack the half healed areas, causing more damage to them.

But it is on the whole, improving. I wanted to be clear of the damage by this Xmas but ... it's going to need a bit more time. Hopefully the Xmas break will give it a chance to clear up some more. It feels like a very long road back but ... at its height, this problem affected more than 50% of my outsides and I can still remember knees so swollen it was painful to walk. Hell, my kneecaps were disappearing under the swelling.

I do apologise for the gory details !

Work has improved, although I am still a little too far away from the engineering and too close to stuff dealing with Change. I won't go into that any further though. It's Work Stuff.

And with the enjoying thing, I stopped trying to keep up with Information Overload and focused back on less. There simply aren't enough hours in the day to waste some on what you aren't actually enjoying.

Be ruthless with your time !!! If you aren't enjoying something in your spare time, cut it out. Do something you do enjoy !

(But pls keep reading! Haha)

If you feel like things are getting too much for you, it's ok to step back and take it easy for a while. Perhaps talk to someone about it and see if they can share the load. I suspect you will find someone who will be overjoyed that you trust them with your problems and they'll be super chuffed that you went to them (in particular) for help. Because going to someone for help is a sign that you trust them and saying "I trust you" is one of the biggest compliments I think someone can give.

So what have I been enjoying ?
The new Star Wars movie is a cracker. The story is actually pretty good this time around and the characters fit in there well. It's a much grittier story than what we usually see in the Star Wars universe. I've seen it twice now and will probably buy it early on bluray instead of waiting. Unless I find an excuse to wait like what I'm doing with Star Trek Beyond. I still have a few Star Trek movies to go before I watch Beyond again.

Xmas movies - I have Where Eagles Dare, Zootropolis and The Jungle Book (new one) lined up to record. But only because the timings work out. I have the latest Hitman movie recorded too, must watch that some time.

Gaming wise, I have gone back into the Stellaris time sink game again ... It's a great space strategy game ! It has its flaws and bugs but I can work around those. My latest race is one that is designed to live anywhere and spread across the galaxy. It's also peaceful, which is an odd style for me to play in this game. But it's just getting to the point where I can invite people into a Federation and from there, I think I can incorporate them into my empire.

I got the Factorio game past the early stage too, there is still a little more to do before the factory ends up being self sustaining but I should be able to take that one through to one of the hard mode achievements. After maybe .... 20 more hours of gameplay. Ok. It may take a while.
And then there's the Internet Spaceship game. I can see me enjoying moseying around the galaxy in that over the next week or so.

I don't think I'll be buying the Chrome paint job in the pic above. The cosmetic stuff in Elite seems a bit of a waste to me. You only really see it when you're in the Debug Camera mode (i.e. not very much to be able to justify £3 for a paint job). Current targets in Elite are :

Slowly make more money;
Mission run to get the rank up;
Join in with trading community goals;
Generally chill out.

And I've been able to keep to that pretty much. I did lose another ship though, I tried to take on too much combat with my medium sized Asp ship before getting used to the new guns it has. The result was a broken canopy and running out of air ... just as I emerged from the warp drive trip to the station. So close. Hopefully it won't take too long for a ranking up mission to appear too.

What else in terms of the games ? The Steam Sale probably starts tonight ... in just over an hour. I can definitely see More Game being added to the library. Especially if they have interesting soundtracks with them.

AI Wars is another space strategy which I should have checked out a few years ago. Add that to the Factorio, Elite, Stellaris and the Deus Ex game which frustrated me with crashes. Lots of games.

And music too - I wonder how much I'll listen to over the next few weeks.

I suspect more than just new games and music will appear too over the next week or so. This keyboard has been ... ok. But I don't feel like I really get on well with it. Plus it can be pretty difficult to lock in for the touchtyping when the room gets dark. I have been eyeing up mechanical keyboards, although these are expensive. I kinda wish I could still find an older clicky keyboard that I had. I have no clue where that one is now, which is a shame cos it was a great keyboard.

I've gone through a fair few PC peripherals over the last few years. For me, a keyboard has to dance under your fingers and not feel as if it is slowing you down. I'm a pretty fast typer too so a keyboard that slows me down gets irritating fast. This one feels a little stiff, which is odd because I usually bash keyboards into submission after a while. That's not intentional, it just seems to happen. (I type a lot)

Getting hungry too ...

While going to places like the pizza shop have had a bad effect on me (the cheese leads to acid), I had a happy trip to the local Harvester again on the Monday night before shopping. Actually after shopping, which is a really bad idea because shopping while hungry ? You buy more junk. Anyway, after feeling grotty for most of Monday, I felt human again after that Harvester meal.

Good food is good for you in more than just banishing hunger. Says he who only had popcorn and junk yesterday. Oops. That's Stellaris again, it will lock me in to playing it to the point where I forget to have any dinner and forget to go to bed too.

And with that ... I better skip away again.

If I don't post again before the day, have a great Xmas people ! Or alternate holiday. I hope you do get a break !

And go see Rogue One too. It's a cracking movie. I'm hoping that Passengers is equally as good, I'm looking forward to watching that one soon too.

Tuesday, December 13, 2016

5 to go

I'm exhausted !

Even more exhausted than I can remember being before.
I'm quite looking forward to the Christmas break. I feel as if I'm past the end of my endurance again. That's a little false though, because I'll be up again and will throw myself back into the work again tomorrow.

I'll do that. I'll throw all my energies into the work during the day, stagger home and not have much left for me. That's fairly usual to be honest. It's why I've taken to chilling out watching other people play games via streams, instead of playing the games myself.

It was fun playing through the XCom 2 story though. I had seen it before from watching videos ... but there is a closer connection when you're the one pointing the soldiers in the directions to go. When you customise your soldiers to include friends. They did a good job with the XCom reboot games, the first iteration in the 90s were a bit too much. They had annoyances in the gameplay that interfered with continuity and fun. The new games have a similar sense of ULTIMATE TERROR induced by the possibility of your people getting sudden death at any moment, especially if you advance too quickly into exposed positions. And they're quicker to play through too.

Plus the games can be a kind of escape from this nasty real world we find ourselves in. Like :

Avoiding seeing politicians appear on the telly (I have the news on mute at the moment)
Escaping into a nomadic life among the stars, wandering around trading and exploring
Building on new worlds, new places

And all the rest of it. (Am tired, inspiration is lacking).

That's something actually. The inspiration thing. I'm a little sad that the person who I rewrote the song for last week (American Pie, Kim Edition) apparently never looked at the song. I like to have feedback for what I do and you can't get feedback if the person never even looks ! That's really sad. But I expect it now from that particular person. That won't stop me writing stuff inspired by stuff she's said though.

Enough of the anti-stuff ! I hope that person comes out ok, from the little I've seen on the recent videos, she's pretty messed up at the moment and that's not something you wish on anybody. You have to pick your battles though and I much prefer to talk to a different few people.

The big reason why I still keep this blog going is to stretch myself by writing thoughts down. By allowing my mind to go to new places, do new things. One day, it's a meme. Another, telling people about the games. The next, doing something completely new like rewriting a song. Never done that before.

But even if it's a blog written for me, I do still like it when other people have a look. When people give me feedback like telling me that I've written a great post. When friends ask me about what I've written. When someone on the gaming discord sees the song and tells the discord (chat) server that they enjoyed singing the song to themselves.

Yep. I got a big kick out of that last one.

I get the warm fuzzy YEY feelings whenever someone comments or otherwise reacts to what I write.

So, it's not just for me. I'll listen to people around me and some posts are born from reacting to questions or what people have done around me. Attempting to pull out the positives when I can.

Cos those positives are what I look to be around. There's a lot of Bad in our world at the moment. You'd be forgiven for thinking that the world has gone mad at the moment. The book that's in my head at the moment may end up being a bit of a satire, as a reaction to what's been going on in the world. I try and avoid talking about that here, you see too much of it on the news and I doubt whether you really want it here too.

Where was I ?

I do like stretching what I can do by trying to write about different things.
I like reacting to what other people say or do.
Pizza the evening after fish was a Really Bad Idea.

Am tired now, got 5 working days to go before I disappear off on Xmas leave. But I am looking forward to that leave, it should be a good chance to get a little more repairing in, definitely a chance to regain some energy. I crashed really hard in town last week ... definitely stayed out a little too long. We have our work Xmas Munchie on Thursday, I can't see me staying too long after. Too exhausted.

I'm looking forward to seeing Rogue One too. As someone who has followed the Star Wars since a boy, this one definitely has my interest. I think I'm more intrigued by Passengers though, which comes a week after.

Lots to look forward to. Hopefully some of that will be sleep tonight ! Last night was a bit of a disaster for trying to sleep. Pizza led to lots of acid, it was pretty unpleasant trying to get to sleep with that. I do occasionally listen to the protests of my body to stuff like that. I think it was a combination of fish on Sunday, which tends to make me bloated, combined with pizza which causes the acid. Not a good combination for me apparently.

May the Xmas break be restful and filled with lots of quality sleep ! And games too. Because I have a backlog of games which intrigue me and doubtless, more will be added to the collection in the Xmas sales ....

Hope you all have restful Xmas breaks too.

Monday, December 05, 2016

Songs, old songs, new songs

I've been doing something new ....
Nope. Not that. Although I have started building my Lego Millennium Falcon.

Nah. As the post title says, I've been rewriting the occasional song. Just two so far but ... who knows where inspiration might lead at some point. I'm not an instinctively creative person. My creative bent tends to be restricted to modifying things that other people have done. Seeing good aspects and improving on them, translating potential amusement in my head to things I hope other people appreciate. It's one reason why I keep up with the writing here, so I can develop that sense of making new things.

It does mean I have a huge amount of respect for people who are creative like that. I'd like to be more like them.

Songs ?

Songs. This all started a month or so ago when I rewrote 12 Days of Christmas for a Twitch streamer that I've been enjoying watching over the past year. That'd be Heychrissa (see link over on the right) who has a community so good, I signed up to join in. I've even subscribed. People as good, as lovely, as quality with the streaming as this need to be encouraged so they stick around and do more. And one way of doing that is by joining in with positivity and even ... a subscription. Because if people can't afford to do things that YOU love, in this case streaming video games, then they're forced to go off and get a different job. And we lose that source of enjoyment. More about that in a bit.

The first song for today is 12 Days of Chrissa. I think the idea for this came from her community talking about potential Christmas songs for our Queen of Saltiness Chrissa to sing for Xmas. Her anxieties mean we won't see that (I think !) but the warm comments I got from posting it made my day. Here it is ! 12 Days of Christmas is a very long song with all the verses, so here is just the end one :
On the Twelth day of Chrissa my true love sent to me
Twelve chatters chatting
Eleven beams beaming
Ten kids a-DEREing
Nine Gifs of dancing
Eight Subs a-subbing
Seven hours of streaming
Six games a month
Five Du Hasts !
Four awkward faces
Three tea cups
Two awesome mods
and a Lady on the Twitch screen
There are some very in-jokes which only those in the community may understand but we liked it. Perhaps a bit too in-jokey for full release perhaps.

This next one is the new one. The Kim of the Yogscast who I used to write a fair bit about posted a video saying how she is giving up the youtubes. I haven't watched much that Kim has come out with lately (had to be more selective with what I watch, not enough time to watch the amount I used to ...) but I do remember some old series, like The Last Of Us, very fondly. Those old videos laid bare a wonderful, lovely soul who was sharing a certain degree of magic over the interwebs.

Kim asked on the Twitters today "Are there any particular videos we'd like to see on her channel before she pirouettes off in to the sunset next year". Youtube is becoming more and more hostile to content creators at the moment, to the point where people are abandoning it in favour of the Twitch streaming service. Good on 'em, I hope they succeed (see above comment about supporting good people making nice things !). People should be able to do what they enjoy doing.

That comment made me instantly think of her Xmas video from a few years ago "So This Is Yogscast", which I thought was absolutely magic. And it got me thinking ... what if she made another one ?

Here is ... American Pie, Kim edition. Try not to weep like I nearly did when writing certain bits !
A long, long time ago,
I can still remember how new videos
Used to make me smile
And I knew if I had my chance
That I could make those people like
And maybe they'd be happy for a while
But recently, it made me shiver
With every video I'd put up here
Bad words in the feedback
I couldn't take one more crack
I can't remember if I cried when I
Read about youtube gone bad
But something touched me deep inside
The day the videos

So bye, bye this here Youtubing life
Did my doodles of the noodles but the noodles were gone
And them good old subs were asking to twitch you cry ?
Singing this'll be the day that I fly
This'll be the day that I fly

Did you trust the youtube line
That said create, upload and online
If the Google tells you so ?
Now do you believe in subs and likes?
Will new vid views see some upspikes?
And can you teach me how to smile, again?

Well, you know that I'm going to twitch
Cause youtube is being a bitch
A better platform for you
A place to truly be you
I was a pretty bouncin' youtube gal
With a flower in my hair and your fluxy pal
But I knew I was out of luck
The day the video died

So bye, bye this here Youtubing life
Did my doodles of the noodles but the noodles were gone
And them good old subs were asking to twitch you cry ?
Singing this'll be the day that I fly
This'll be the day that I fly

I saw a place where people play
And I asked chat happy things to say ?
Then chat said, we love you Kim,
I went back to that old youtube
Where I'd put the videos years before
But the stats said the videos wouldn't pay

And in the comments, the people cried
The watchers sighed and the likes all dried
But not a word was spoken
The view counts all are broken

But now this song, it must end
For Nano, Kim and the Fluxy Friend
They caught the last flight to new ground
The day I turned streamer

So bye, bye this here Youtubing life
Did my doodles of the noodles but the noodles were gone
And them good old subs were asking to twitch you cry ?
Singing this'll be the day that I fly
This'll be the day that I fly
Hope you like.

One last comment - songs should make you feel. Videos should make you feel ! I'm noticing this more and more. It feels like my emotions are opening up again after being somewhat closed down through my school years. I still suppress a fair bit but ... the feels definitely come out more.

Whether it's blubbing in the cinema to Interstellar, always having a tear at certain parts of Bolt and ... almost abandoning the American Pie rewrite due to it almost bringing out a tear or two again.

And I'm not afraid to admit it !!! Having feelings is good. It shows you're alive.
Even if they do lead to an imminent need for cuddles.

PS Addon message for Radderss - found you via the Yogs Jingle Jam, thought you were amazing on that. A great character in a lovely person. Looking forward to watching you more ! But am holding off until you're through the Mass Effect (too much stuff to see, watched ME1, 2, 3 last year again with Chrissa !). If you'd like a song rewrite, let me know, give me ideas, will see what I can do :-).
PPS For anyone else reading this, check out Radderss. Link on the right in the Lovely Gaming People list. I'm rather enjoying listening in to a stream at the moment.

PPPS Check out Jean Michel Jarre : Calibrations : (link to original video)

Human; Not Human
Turian; No Turian
Love; Not Love

Archangel; Not Archangel
Garrus; No Garrus
Normandy; No Normandy


Rave; No Cat Rave
Extranet; No Extranet
Future; No Future
Reaper Invasion!

Probe; No, No, No Probe
Uranus; No, No, No Uranus

Choice; No Choice
Paragon; No, No Paragon
Renegade; No, No, No Renegade
Garrus; No, No Garrus


Wednesday, November 30, 2016

How much tech ...

I saw someone ask a question today which got me pondering : "If money were no object, what would your ideal PC look like ?"

Let's see. Mine would actually be a couple, similar to what I do already. One can give all of its performance to games, the other can do everything else like the music, limited web streaming, lots of web browsing and the email. I don't even have email configured on my desktop !
But first ... it's that time of year again. Christmas avatar is here ! Quite a good dragon that one I think.

Yep. I run two computers at the same time, with the phone and iPad there as well. It wasn't planned that way, I'd have run with just a desktop until I figured out how portable laptops could be. I had a laptop left behind when an ex-partner left and didn't want to waste it. A small iTunes library from then has subsequently grown rather massive and migrated across 3 more laptops since then. And I can take the laptop and music library with me when I go places. I wouldn't want to be without the music. It's great actually, I occasionally buy cds and import them via the desktop ... and then never use them again. Instead of breaking them out, I can carry many hundreds of albums on the laptop.

So at the moment, my ideal computing setup involves :

A laptop - which can run iTunes. If I were to buy today, I'd get another ultrabook style laptop. This time it would be from PCSpecialist, as the typical ones from PC World seem sub-spec and heavy. Apple are at that point where if they change any further, they will be impossibly anti-consumer. I think Apple are there already to be honest.
A desktop - to run the games. I also use the desktop to watch video, watch streams and general internet browsing. And for the occasional picture edit via Gimp 2, plus I'm tapping this post out on it.

A note about tapping the keys - I wrote about getting a new keyboard ... perhaps 1 year ago. I have to be honest and say it's a bit of a disappointment, the keys still work well but they've gone a bit stiff. Also, the lettering that was dark to begin with is rubbing away. It's getting rather difficult to locate the reference spots. I have my eyes on mechanical keyboards again, they seem to be dropping in price which is slightly odd because Brexit has led to general price increases.

A money-no-object choice wouldn't change much there. Let's see :

Laptop - stays ultrabook for lightness of weight and portability. Most laptops have far more power than is required for videos, webs and music streaming and I always find it a bit cruel to try gaming on them.
Desktop - would gain a bit but the basics would stay the same - good screen, good keyboard, good mouse. It would just have more spectacular bits inside. A better processor and graphics card. Multiple hard drives. Perhaps a second screen.

Data security is pretty important. But I wouldn't look at putting encryption on, that usually just gets in the way of performance and for home machines, I consider the lock on the front door to be adequate data security.


Data integrity is far more important. I'd pay a lot more attention to this if I were on the computer professionally, like if I was streaming or making the youtube gaming videos. I'd want multiple hard discs to put everything on but I wouldn't use the RAID (Redundant Array of Independent Drives) method, where it duplicates data across multiple drives. That way tends to use the drives identically and if you have identical drives, it stands to reason that they would fail at the same time. You'd still lose all your data. Nope. I'd have the multiple drives for performance but I'd put a totally separate back up system in too. That way, if something goes bang in the work PC, it doesn't break the backup too.
I've had data loss a few times, it tends to be a bit traumatic.

But that's computers in my current situation. The laptop and desktop combination works well there. But ... I do have that plan to go live on a boat and the set up would want to be different there. The desktop would need to be hidden somewhere and I'd ideally want it doing the movies too and probably streamed telly services.

Which means ...

A Projector. Great for saving space, along with a drop down screen and speakers hidden in strategic places for giving surround sound in the movies.

I did also have a pondering for the ship's computer having a touchscreen. This could still be a possibility but more for controlling boat systems. The original touchscreen idea was for putting recipes up where I could see them in the galley.

Yep. If I move to the boat, I'd want to learn how to cook proper. I know ... ambitious. And I think the touchscreen would work well if your hands were busy with cooking stuff. But ... thinking about it more, perhaps an iPad would be even better. Easier to wipe down for sure and if you're cooking, mucky fingers will be on that touchscreen.

A ship's computer would want to be more modest, as power comes at a premium when you're away from the mains. I'd look to have the barge roof covered with as many solar panels as would be sensible but even then, the power input is limited and other system share that power. Like the fridge ... Cooking and heating is gas, so that's not a problem there.

But ... we all know what that ship's computer should look like.
That's Gerty-3000 from the movie Moon. Excellent movie, must watch it again. It was about a lone astronaut running a Helium-3 mining operation on the moon, with just the computer to talk to. And the computer displayed those emotes to give emotional context to what it was saying.

Not Gerty ? Then perhaps :

Oh and ...
Clever kitty.

Thursday, November 24, 2016

Under The Steamroller Again


Feeling somewhat like I've been run over by a steam roller again. Yep, this will be a whingey post for a bit but bear with it. I find it's good to explain the problems I'm having so I can sort them out in my own head. Although I do still think it sounds a bit whiny. But that's just me thinking that I shouldn't let my problems feel like they're getting the better of me.
Yeah, I'm pretty wiped out at the moment and hanging in there for the weekend to come. I've built enough flexi up that I can disappear at around about lunchtime, although I'll hang on in case I'm needed (I might be for one of the meetings!).

Plan A was to disappear into town to have a wander around the market and to perhaps, chill out in the afternoon to the film Arrival. (It's a scifi mystery thriller type movie, people think it's good). That's going to change to Plan B though because I am feeling the tireds, plus I suspect it'll be mayhem in town tomorrow with the Black Friday tradition that we're inheriting from the USA. I dunno there, I think typical Brit Reserve is taking over there a little. We got very excited over Black Friday a couple of years ago, not so much lately. The retailers have been spreading things out so it's not all on the day.

No - film can wait and I'll have the chill outs after hanging on for the week. It's always good to go up norf to see the mum, dad, Ben-pup and sister and one or both of the Double D boys. But it does wipe me out, especially going into a week full of work.

Weekend plans include :
Quite possibly zzzz's on Friday afternoon while Stuff is on the telly. Stuff is likely to be the first 3 episodes of an old classic, Earth Final Conflict.
A little XCom2 perhaps ? I haven't gone back into that since the last session over a week ago. Corgi guns need to happen ... Yep.
More games will be acquired ... The various online game selling people have sales on and I have stuff in the basket already. (More in a bit).
Cricket ! India host England in the Third Test, starting on Saturday. I'll have this on the telly, time delayed, while I watch the Grand Prix coverage on my desktop.
Bit of Star Trek - I've been enjoying watching the Star Trek films again. I'm watching all of them, up to and including Beyond. Star Trek has always been very good, even at its least good. Tonight's was Final Frontier, which was one of the least good Trek films. Still good, just no Wrath of Khan.

Anything more ? On and off nattering to people on the texts and the Facebooks and the Discords. Possibly even Twitter too. I occasionally get acknowledgements on the Twitters and that's always good to see.

I just distracted myself with looking up Pink Floyd's Ummagumma album. I had that years ago and it has some of the good 60s Pink Floyd on it. The inspiration for that was seeing a 60s collection of theirs at Sainsburys earlier. Curious ... but not enough to buy it. I suspect some music may get liberated from various online stores soon.

Birthday stuff is all in now. I've acquired the first seasons of Dark Matter and Killjoys, which are excellent new scifi. These, along with Fallen Skies, are the best scifi on telly from the past few years. Cheers CK ! I have a Metal Earth R2D2 as well which I look forward to building with some .... trepidation perhaps. Metal Earth kit is shiny but does take a certain bit of manual dexterity which I don't think I have in my tired state. And the "Man Cave" sign has to go up on the fridge door too where people would see it when they come into the house.

It'll be a chilled out weekend. It'll be the first chance in a couple of weeks to regain some energy and for my poorly ankles to recover some more. They're actually doing reasonably well and are coping with the demands of walking around at work and for the bus .... but they're not actually fixing. A quiet weekend will do them good if I leave them alone for long enough.

Games ?

I have 1 game and 3 bits of DLC in the steam basket at the moment .... The game is "A Good Snowman Is Hard To Build", a charming little puzzler that I've had my eye on for a while now. The DLC is for AI War, a strategy game I should really have had a good look at by now. I think the reason I didn't is because I picked it up when I was feeling particularly poorly and not wanting to play many games at all. Time it got another look because it's one that should grab my attention.

I've been checking out another called Distant Universe, another space strategy game. I need to know more about that. Is it worth getting. Definitely is it worth £22.50 on sale. There will be another sale over Xmas, so I can wait for this one.

This is where the Youtube videos come in really handy, you can evaluate whether you will enjoy a game and get the value out of it. It's a shame that Youtube game content is starting to die off, as it gets harder and less rewarding for content creators to bring us videos. A lot of them are going to Twitch streaming, which is a pity because ... livestreams. You can only really watch one at a time, they're all cannibalizing their audiences. Whereas I'll put Youtube videos in a slow mode and catch up later, you can't really do that with most streams, so the streams get sacrificed because you just don't have the time to watch them.

Time is pretty precious too ... It is really good being able to chill out to the HeyChrissa streams. She has a certain rapport with chat, although a couple of the people in chat should really keep their fingers away from the keyboard. They have that sense where they seem to have to prove something ... and go about it in offensive ways. They are tolerated because they have been with the community for a while but ... chat goes quiet when they are loud. I ignore them and the chat when they're being rowdy.

I suspect sleep will be coming after I've finished the current round of videos. Haha, at probably midnight as per usual. At least I won't be waiting at the bus stop for ages tomorrow.

We're cursed with a company called First Bus aka Worst Bus in Bristol. They essentially have a monopoly, which they've been abusing lately. Some buses don't come at all, most buses are late. This is partly the fault of the Metrobus works, which will have very little actual benefit for the harm they have inflicted on traffic patterns and the general look of the neighbourhood. I bet the new local flats are really annoyed at losing their very little bit of isolation room between them and a busy main road. Road noise is not nice to live with. I'm ok because I'm on a cul-de-sac, although our road gets abused by people working in local shops.

Yeah, they have some excuses due to Metrobus but this in no way excuses certain services being apparently cancelled (not saying which, it gives too much location info away !). That's more whining though.

Looking forward to :
Building a Millennium Falcon.
Getting into the games.
Catching up on some great telly.
England winning in the cricket (cough).
Another go at Metal Earth with R2.
Lots of music - it's the Working Girl album by Little Boots at the moment. Boppyhappy.
Nite !

Monday, November 21, 2016

Have a break, have a ...

Nope. Not advertising chocolate biscuit bars today ! Just spotted a meme on the Facebooks and you me and memes ... Yep. Can't resist.

But first ... We had the birthday weekend again this weekend ! Which means seeing the family and the Ben-pup.
Yep. Everyone's still going strong. Ageing perhaps ... but still fighting on. And having our own fun too. Mine involved acquiring bags of bonbons. And then devouring those bags of bonbons. I may have a problem when it comes to bonbons.

My sister liked her birthday present. She got the Lego Star Wars Advent Calendar. This means I may have to buy one too !!! I got jumpers and a leather jacket to replace some that are getting on a bit and a tad frayed. I'm not good at getting the new clothes.

Travel was ok, I think I got all the travel in before the mayhem that has hit today. There are pictures of parts of Bristol where the water is so high, it is above the window level on parked cars. Wow ! I live in a somewhat higher up part of Bristol and there's good drainage through dykes, so it should be safe from flooding here. I was going to say that the gps on the phone was telling me that I live 70m above sea level. But now it is reporting between 0 and 1m above sea level. Oh well. Time to break out the canoe and snorkel.

(This just tells me that you shouldn't wholly trust gadgets !)

Meme ? Here goes :
1. Are you named after someone?
Don't believe so.
2. What colour is your car?
Grey. It is the Grey Ghost because it's vewy, vewy, qwiet.
3. Do you like your handwriting?
Nah. Too random and I keep missing out random letters. I can barely read it sometimes !
4. What is your favourite lunch meat?
I usually have the turkey in the sandwiches but any fairly low fanciness meats will do me.
5. Do you have kids?
Nah. No kids. But I do borrow the Ben-pup when I visit the parents.
6. Do you use sarcasm?
Definitely ! Sometimes you have to talk other people's language and sarcasm can be the only one they understand.
7. Do you still have your tonsils?
Gargle - yep.
8. Would you bungee jump?
Not likely. Although ... it might help straighten that back out.
9. What is your favourite kind of cereal?
Haven't had cereal in years ...

10. Do you untie your shoes when you take them off?
Yep. Cos I can't take them off when the laces are done up. Although I do have a pair of older trainers that I can just slip on and off and they don't fall off.
11. Do you think you're strong?
Emotionally, somewhat. That's the tendency to bounce back when I see someone smiling. Physically, not any more because I haven't been exercising that much as my body repairs.
12. What is your favourite ice cream. 

Gotta be the Mint Choc Chip.
13. What is the first thing you notice about people?
Whether they're smiling, which is when my Big Grin comes out too.
14.Football or Baseball?
15. What is the least favourite thing you like about yourself?
Inertia, or the quality of knowing there is stuff that needs to be done and just not doing it.
16. What colour pants are you wearing now?
UK definition of pants involves underwear ... which I'm not telling. I might not be wearing any ;-) (I am). I'm wearing light coloured greyish running around in trousers that are pretty thick. Good stuff for a colder house :-).

17. What was the last thing you ate?
Box of Maltesers. Surprise chocolate when traffic means heading to the shops for a resupply is a bad idea.
18. What are you listening to right now?
KT Tunstall's album Drastic Fantastic with songs like White Bird.
19. If you were a crayon, what colour would you be?
Huh ?

20. Favourite smell?
Fresh tea cakes.

21. Who was the last person you spoke to on the phone?
The mum ! Making the arrangements for when I'd appear at their place.

22. Favourite sport to watch?
Cricket ! Have even been to games and I pay attention. Most of the time.
23. Hair color?
At the moment ? Mucky blonde. You know, that blonde that isn't white and isn't darker. Something in the middle.
24. Eye colour?
Dunno actually ... I sometimes look but never remember ! I think it changes.

25.Favourite food to eat?
Pizza. But it has a certain effect on me now so I have to ration it. Apart from that, I'm becoming a fan of Wagamamas. And steak. And pasta. Wonder if you can combine all that ?
26. Scary films or happy endings?
Happy endings. I can get caught up in the scaries but unless you don't know where it's going to take its story, I lose interest.
27. Last film you watched?
Star Trek IV The Voyage Home. Still a decent movie but a bit too much on the Earth. I'm looking forward to seeing Rogue One, Passengers and I'm pondering going to see Arrival on Friday. It is Black Friday though, so I may avoid the centre of Bristol on Friday ... it might be mayhem.
28. What colour shirt are you wearing?
I have a green custom t-shirt on. It has a timeline of spacecraft, starting at 0 with the Tardis, going through the space shuttle, an Eagle, Galactica, Enterprise, Serenity before finishing off at infinity with the Tardis again.

Meme done ! But I feel this post will not be complete without ...
More Ben ! A minute before this, he was fast asleep impersonating a sawmill. But then someone ventured near the source of treats ...
Bless 'im. His paw still bugs him but he gets around with a curiously wobbling gait. He must be getting pain from it but it's managed with pills from the vet. He's quite perky for an old dog, although he rations out his effort. He'll bounce, he'll scare off uninvited door stop sales people, then he'll crash.
He's a happy muttley.

Sunday, November 13, 2016

What to do on a birthday ? Save the world !

Birthday today !

I'm having a chilled out one today. I now have the music on (nice bit of Abba with a Suzanne Vega album next up) while a youtube game video is going on in the background. The gaming video is about the new Civilisation VI game that has just come out. I may get that ... but not yet. I'm not prepared to pay the £50 for it. I can wait for discounts.

I have been chilling out with a game today though. XCom2 came out a good few months ago but I never actually got round to playing it. I'm really enjoying having a good run in it now although the aliens are giving my soldiers a good run for their money. Oh and there's also been a decent last day's play in the cricket today and one of the more eventful Grand Prix that there has been for a while.

In terms of birthday festivities, I had a chance to have lunch with someone lovely yesterday as we raided the Christmas Market here in Bristol. The management of it has changed hands this year but it still has the German Sausage stalls (they smelled very inviting yesterday) and the Happy Cookie Place is back too. PikaPeacanut Stall wasn't in evidence, need more checking. And the salmon on a fire stall isn't there either. I always regret not checking that one out.
But on to the game ! One of the features of games like XCom2 is the customisation of the soldiers you have with you. Take your friends into battle ! Try not to get them killed !

The XCom games are pretty tough. It doesn't take much of an error to put one of your people in danger. I have actually only lost one soldier so far !
The first two don't count, they die as part of scripted events in the first opening tutorial mission. The one I did lose got ambushed while saving civilians from alien retaliation.

Yep. This one is all about kicking the alien butt again. It's the second game in the remade XCom series, picking up 20 years after Earth lost to the aliens rather badly. The aliens now control our planet and resistance is all but stamped out. It's up to us to kick ass and chew strawberry bonbons. And because the aliens banned the bonbon, you know who's ass we're gonna be kicking. But who's doing the ass kicking ?
That's the roster after completing one of the early story missions. Oh and the mission after ... because. These games can get a bit of a hold on you with the "Just one more mission, then I stop for a bit" factor. They're doing pretty well. The crew comes from a mix of youtuber name lists (spot the Cinnamon and the TB in there) plus we have recruited in a number of characters from the Mass Effect universe. The name lists give pre customised characters which add a bit of colour into the precedings.

Shall we meet some of them ? Just the friends that is. Showing them all will take forever !
That's Hotshot, who is the lead sniper at the moment keeping an eye on our squad from high above. Many aliens have died by her hand already.
With a young protege joining in after that particularly hard retaliation mission. She'll be back in the fight soon enough.
And there's the last one of the ones I have named so far. His nickname could have gone two ways, either Cyberkitten (spot that weapon detail !) or Truthseeker. It'll be Truthseeker this time because I'll be wanting his hacking skills. I think the aliens have already got to him with that growth above his mouth though that tends to appear randomly.

Will they all survive ? How many of them will make it to the final mission ? Will I get chance to play the game more any time soon !
Or maybe some heavy metal grindy music back up in the form of the Final Liberation soundtrack that's going at the moment.
I've come out of game now though. Chill out time for me. But ...
Or the cookies. The cookies need me too. Nite !

Thursday, November 10, 2016

If you are ...

Oh there is so much feeling on the internet right now. It's echoing what we saw after the Brexit vote got announced but amplified by there being far more people over the pond and perhaps because it is not in the place with that (in?)famous British reserve ?
The meme I've been seeing at the moment is a long list of "If you're ..." Here it is, although I have changed one or two bits because I didn't quite agree with the original. I think this is an improvement. Here goes !

If you wear a hijab, I'll sit with you on the train.
Sure ! If there aren't empty seats elsewhere cos ... sitting beside someone when you can sit on your own is seen as a bit weird here. But the point's valid. There was a case not too long ago in Bristol where a passenger demanded that another passenger leave the bus because they thought they looked like a terrorist (Asian archetype, had beard) and they were scared. I'd have asked the bullied person to sit beside me and asked the bully to leave the bus. Yes.

If you're trans, I'll go to the same bathroom as you.
Because we've all seen each other's bits right ? It doesn't matter what people pee out of does it. And that's what we go to the bathroom for right ? The people who want to dictate where trans people pee don't do other things in bathrooms right ?

If you're a person of colour, I'll stand up to the cops for you.
Every time. Teachers too. We had a racist teacher at my secondary school who was picking on the only black kid in the school. I helped the guy out, we were good friends while I was at that school although his chances were somewhat crippled by this racist teacher. It does depend though. If the person of colour has just robbed someone, I'll help those cops if it's not too risky.

(Avoid generalisations ! Why are the cops after them ? Genuine or bullying ?)

If you're a person with disabilities, I'll hand you my megaphone.
I should try not to but I really do bristle when I see non-disabled people steal the disabled parking spots. There should be some kind of fitting punishment for that. I suspect the disabled people don't want to make too much of a fuss though, they're busy fighting their own battles. They shouldn't fight other battles too !

If you're an immigrant, I'll help find you resources.
Hmm ... that's what the state is for really. But I see the point again.

If you're a survivor, I'll believe you. I'll listen.
The listen part is the most important there. If someone has been through something intense, it is important that you listen and give them the benefit of your belief. Some of the people around us have been through some Really Crazy Stuff. To help them cope with that, to process that, they need to express it to others. The least we can do for them is to listen and believe.

If you're a refugee, I'll make sure you're welcome.
My Grins are for everyone. Whether they be English, Scottish, Welsh, Irish, European, Asian, American, whether they be from everywhere. Except chavs. They can do one.

If you're a veteran, I'll take up your fight.
I know a few veterans. They have a quiet strength and dignity that we can all learn from.

If you're LGBTQ, I won't tell anyone tell you that they think you're broken.
Whatever your preference, whoever you are attracted to, love is love. Me ? I like intelligent pretty ladies. Other guys are different, other ladies get repulsed by blokes. We should respect who and what people are, we should not try to change them. People are at their best when they can be natural and comfortable with themselves.

If you're a woman, I'll make sure you get home ok.
Always. If I have to go out of my way to make sure the Pretty Lady gets home ok, I'll consider that an honour that she wants to spend that extra time with me. Why wouldn't you escort her home ? It's a chance to spend more time with someone lovely ? It's up to the lady though. She might think she should be escorting you home !!!

If you're tired, me too.
It's been a long year. Lots has happened, earthshattering events both in politics and in reality.

If you need me, I'll be with you. All I ask is that you be with me too.
Our greatest gift is our time. When people ask for a little help, make time for them. If someone lonely reaches out, listen to their voice. We're better together than apart. We can help each other much better if we give that gift of time.

If you need a hug, I have an infinite supply.
Always. Hugs are awesome.
The behaviours start with us. We can make this world a better place. We just have to drop the preconceptions, the prejudices and just treat people as people remembering that our differences are what make us strong, they're what make us interesting.

Listen to the stories of other people, they will expand your life.

Monday, November 07, 2016

Random Sleepiness

Oooo - randomness.

I had a bunch of thoughts bubbling through this pot mess of a head earlier. Today actually started pretty bad. My mental state is dominated by two things at the moment :

The condition of my outsides;
How much sleep I get.
And I didn't get much sleep last night. (A combination of me having a shower a bit too late and my hair being too long at the moment to dry quick plus staying on the interwebs a bit too long).

And because my outsides are still being frustrating too.

The bad patches are gradually receding ! Hurrah ! But when I woke this morning, the two spots I don't talk about (ok, they're my nipples ... and you know what those do in the cold ? Well, the stretching that causes makes new damage ... and we shall never talk of that again !) had worsened. It's a really bad spot. You can excuse marks on arms or marks on legs but there ? Very awkward.

So my mood was being devastated by that plus lack of sleep through the morning. I addressed that mid morning and that's worked ... for now. But it does put off the problem and doesn't actually fix it. I have more ideas there but it will need more time and looking after. One problem is a constant conflict between needing to keep stuff clean and the act of cleaning causing a certain amount of disruption.

But my mood did steadily improve through the day.

It helps to talk to people. It really does. And I have a few people I can natter at who cheer me up. Oh and a couple of them also work in the canteen which leads to bigger sandwiches at lunchtime (actually it doesn't except on Friday when I go late and they give me stuff they would otherwise throw out).

I do feel a lot better now, mentally at least, compared to this morning. My left foot is the most torn up but it is good when I take the socks off in the evening to find that it is actually intact. Pretty damaged but ... intact. That's progress !! I also have excellent progress on my arms and especially my elbows too.

Progress is good.

Other random stuff ?

I've been in the Internet Spaceship game again. I abandoned the trip around the galaxy for now (will do it at some point) because a major update dropped last week and it has made the game prettier. Definitely, the space stations are shinier now and I'm saying that without even going to the most affluent. They are supposed to be the shiniest.

I suspect my current Pilot Plan may not last long. I have taken my Explorer ship, think it was called "I'm off to find the cookies" and turned it back into a cargo ship. I'll be smuggling rare goods around the galaxy for a bit. Trouble is, the smuggling part doesn't work so well now because the police in the game have gone nuts. They're far too good at finding the illegal stuff. I suspect shenanigans in the code. But it does get you around a very wide variety of space stations.

They're pretty.
As is the gold Asp. I'll upgrade that to a Python soon. (pic from the newest version of the game)
(Pic from how the game was last year I think)
I know. Not a particularly pretty ship but very functional. Great with the cargo running plus I had one that was very nastily armed too. The Cookie Cutter should get similarly nasty but needs more investment. So I'll stick to the smaller ship for a while so I can burn down pirates instead of running from them.

Ok. Pretty Ship picture required :
No Internet Spaceship tonight though. Was tired after work so it's just videos in the background and an earlier night than last night.

I do feel much better than this morning though.

Other random thoughts :

Vendee globe started yesterday ! This is a round the world race featuring sailors who will do this single handed, non stop in 60 foot long IMOCA 60 yachts. I have so much respect for the people who do this race. They're legends. They're just off the coast of Portugal at the moment. You can follow the race at the website (link!). Just the one Brit in the race this year and sadly no ladies but it was great listening to Dee Caffari's commentary on the livestream coverage yesterday. She cut through lack of knowledge and presented what was happening like the pro that she is. There's a lot involved in sailing and having someone knowledgeable and who can pass on that knowledge as basics is invaluable.

(I am having trouble with words today I think - I always think you demonstrate true knowledge of a subject only by being able to explain it in the simplest terms. Jargon is bad).

I want to have a look around one of them to see how it's put together. Both in terms of construction and how the insides are laid out. There isn't much space inside and it has to serve the sailor. I still have that dream of moving on to a canal boat, although I suspect the True Dream of a potentially sea going Dutch Barge would need a lottery win.
Is she not a pretty little ship ? I would like a pretty little ship.

But I will have to stay to the Internet Spaceships for now. And my dreams. Some of which feed into that potential future novel. Need a good set up for that though.

Should I close on something about politics ? Maybe not. They're being too scary at the moment. Democracy is great ... until it is subverted by those who try to tell us what to think (all of our media) and by those who renege on their promises as soon as they have your vote. We need accountability in our politics and that's totally lacking at the moment. Everyone is accountable, except the politicians.

That's a really bad way to finish a post though.

Really liking the phone. May talk about that more at some point but it's a substantial upgrade over the iPhone.
Start with the sad, end with a chuckle. I hope that pic makes you laugh as much as it made me laugh.

Tuesday, November 01, 2016

Motioning to Write

It's NaNoWriMo month !

At some point, I will indulge in the NaNoWriMo initiative. What is it ?
The picture is from Two Brooklyn Cats on Twitter (link!) and they don't have nearly enough followers yet. Hint-hint.

NaNoWriMo is a yearly thing. I'm pretty sure I've written about it before, the aim is to write a 50,000 word novel in the month of November. I'd like to think I could write the stories that would make up a novel. I can rabbit on quite happily when the mood takes me and I'll run through conversations in my mind before they happen. Probably a bad habit because I assume that the conversation goes the way I want and I always tend to miss something which takes the actual conversation in a completely different direction.

I've written before about what I would write too. There are a few nucleic ideas :

Post Apocalyptic and recovery phase where my central group of characters scavenge and scout to help rebuild.
SPACE ! Firefly was an awesome series and didn't last long enough.
Fantasy with magic environments.

I think you get the picture there. But some of the stories I've enjoyed most have involved a central group of characters who bantered with each other. This was a main theme of David Eddings' successful series. Different characters who banter, bicker, argue, love.

I'm not going to do NaNoWriMo this year though. After a few spurts of thought earlier this year, I haven't actually turned those into something I could write something around that would make sense. All writing needs a plan. A pre-book if you will. A setting for the world you write the story in. The best stories have a certain consistency and you need that view of the world early to acquire that consistency so details aren't rehashed later because they didn't fit in with later elements of the story.

I have a plan for most blog posts I write, although it tends to just be themes I want to cover. For this one, it's NaNoWriMo morphing into writing about what I'm watching now. (In a minute). Nah. I want to be properly healed up as well so I can direct all my mental energies towards this. I'm still feeling a certain amount of wornoutness that partly comes from the feelings about my outsides.
I am healing ... steadily. My skin felt great last week, getting super smooth mostly. My arms are nearly all better. My ankles and a couple of other areas may need more help though. Or to be left alone some more. They're trying to heal but it's so ridiculously easy to aggravate the damage again. Even clearing some of the flakey to clean it up can be too much for the current strength and integrity of the skin.

But it is getting there. What am I watching though ?
Ok. Not that movie. But a close one to it. I'm watching Star Trek The Motion Picture, the first big screen effort from the Star Trek franchise. I'm a quiet fan of this movie, it hit the spot in many, many ways. It's actually a really good scifi movie and it has that core set of characters all giving it their all.

It is described heavily as an extended episode of the series. Don't all movies fit that description ? Perhaps.

It does show its age in the melding of computer imagery, artist imagery and the real acting. You can see the joins. We're far better now at stitching it all together but for a 1979 movie, they do a great job. It's a movie that I'll consistently enjoy as I am now.

My plan is to watch all of the Star Trek movies over the next month or so. I'll be watching on non-stream nights, that should work pretty well and it just might get me to where Star Trek Beyond won't be full price. See ? I have a Cunning Plan.

It's just getting to the climax of the movie though so I'll leave it off there. But how about this for an intrepid bunch of character to build a crew around ...

The one who points the direction to go. The centre point. The brain of the crew.
The sailor who is rescued from a dead ship and joins the crew for adventure, a warm meal and a hot shower. The pro.
The worker bee who throws herself into everything she can, who is the heart of the crew.
The pair who would be brothers in another life. Who played the games together before whatever calamity hit. Who can finish each others sentences. One is a writer, a philosopher, a student of the mental sciences. The other, a student of the physical sciences.
And finally, the mom who could not be a mom, who looks after us as her family. She's a mean shot with that sniper rifle ...

And there would be the dogs who scout for us and guard for us. Dogs are smart.

I think I'd have fun writing a book with that crew, although you need to throw them at drama to make the story interesting.
Oh and you'd have to figure a happy ending too. All the best stories have those.

Saturday, October 29, 2016

Simply The Best

Have you ever listened to a song and thought ... This is their best, it cannot be beaten.

I have ... and here are a few of them. They're some of my favourites from a multitude of artists but beware, most of the songs in here are in the list because they provoke an emotional response. Some may require hankys !

Oh and there are a few artists I listen to a lot who aren't here ... If you have some amazing music to suggest for me, please leave the track name and artist in the comments. I'm always on the look out for more to listen to. A lot of what I do listen to is due to suggestions from other people.
Bring 'em on ! Oh and this post was mostly inspired last night by me going "I'll just listen to Ting Tings The Wrong Club and go to bed." That track is possibly the best they'll come up with, it's got the words, the message, the music and an excellent video too. It's a track I'll keep going back to.

Labelling something as "the best and they will make nothing better" is a little sad though. It's better when the group constantly surprises you with more and more excellence. Bat For Lashes is a perfect example here. You hear songs like What's a Girl To Do ? (Dat video) and you think it's amazing. Then she beats it with the beauty of Moon and Moon from her second album. And beats it again with the powerful Laura.

But it's best when the groups constantly change their style. Madonna does this with every album, Goldfrapp do to a certain extent. I don't think Goldfrapp have beaten the Metropolis inspired Utopia. I'll keep going back to Alison Goldfrapp's incredible voice that's shown off in Utopia and the weird and wonderful Voicething. And then there's the chill out of Road To Somewhere.

It's a little sad when groups seem to burn out early or they do one song out of character that has total beauty. Here are a few :

T'Pau's - China In Your Hand
A-Ha - Take On Me (still more brilliance to come but nothing got close to this)
Cranberries with Linger, Shakespeares Sister with Stay
Stairway to Heaven ! (I hope they didn't copy)
Dirty Vegas - Days Gone By (perhaps it's the acoustic style)
Alisha's Attic - The Incidentals - I was hoping for much more from these ladies, 3 albums were not enough.
Massive Attack - Teardrop
Morcheeba - The Sea
Snow Patrol and the Martha Wainwright combination for Set The Fire To The Third Bar
U2 with Beautiful Day ? I don't listen to much U2. Too disconnected from reality.
Evanescence with My Immortal

And an advert just gave me a teaser of Kate Bush's forthcoming live album. I'll pick that up at some point but she's a good case of an artist who was incredible for a long time but then seemed to lose the touch. For me, her albums after The Sensual World just aren't nearly as good as what came before. The advert was for a track from Hounds Of Love but I present here, This Woman's Work.

Other groups who have gone away from an earlier style or perhaps ran out of inspiration are people like :

Pink Floyd's style changes with the decades but they were most inspired in the 70s with tracks like Wish You Were Here.
Arctic Monkeys had a brilliant first few albums but have gone off a bit. But then you listen to songs like A Certain Romance again and remember their magic.
Similar with Seal, the voice is still there though but has he ever bettered songs like Future Love Paradise ?
Dire Straits seemed to run out of ideas after Brothers In Arms. Indeed, they split after the following album. Mark Knopfler still makes amazing music and excellent soundtracks.
Air's magical All I Need.

I'd include Portishead here with songs like Roads. You see the intensity in live performances like that and you wonder how they can pull it off so well without collapsing into a mess afterwards.

There are also artists taken from us before we heard all they have to give. I still like Eleanor Rigby best from the Beatles but there was more to come after the Beatles with songs like John Lennon's Imagine and George Harrison's My Sweet Lord. And then there is Thriller by Michael Jackson, he definitely had more gifts to give.

You know. Songs that make you sit up and listen. The Veronicas did that to me with their song Untouched. Very powerful, very dramatic. And the ears always perk up with Little Boots comes on too. I don't think she's bettered Remedy. Paramore's wonderful The Only Exception is always a sit up and listen highlight.

That's a lot of music though. Lots for people to listen to ! (I have been pondering investigating Spotify playlists ... would it be worth it ?)

There have been a few bands who keep coming out with new and even better music than we've heard before. Nina Persson still has it, after starting in the Cardigans, moving through a very dark phase with the Cardigans, transitioning to A Camp with songs that speak to me like Song For The Leftovers and now going solo with tracks like Animal Heart.

I've always kept an eye on Tori Amos too, she just continues to give us new albums with more brilliant music. And there's usually a surprise in there too. Just when you think she couldn't beat Silent All These Years or Space Dog, out comes an I Can't See New York or a The Beekeeper.

All About Eve too, kicking off with tracks like Martha's Harbour, indeed all of their first album was amazing. Then there's Scarlet and Are You Lonely to finish off their third album. And then she comes back with the Mice album ! Love the Doctor Who inspired Blue Sonic Boy.

That's an awful lot to listen to though. (And I'll be catching up the links too !)
One last song. The way an album starts and finishes is very important. Arctic Monkeys did this with A Certain Romance but the one I'm really thinking of is Sleeper. They seemed to be interfered with somewhat by labels wanting to split the singer from the band and never really bettered their first album which finished with the song I'll close on : Click ... Off ... Gone.

Anyone got any more song ideas for me ?