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