Thursday, June 25, 2009

Them women are scary

Watching the girls from the late-nite telly again :-)

Hey ! Not those ones, the England Ladies Cricket girls. Ok, the games are in England at the moment so it's not so late-nite telly. I've been enjoying watching them lately and not just cos they're a good looking bunch :-) The England men cricketers can be highly frustrating to watch, because they're very inconsistent. Some games, they're devastating and not many sides can match them. However in others they can only be described as "directionless amateurs" as their lack of focus and preparation has them badly letting down their fans.

Not so with the England women.

The game vs Australia on Friday was very close, close enough to make it an exciting finish. Not so with the game on Sunday, our girls must have been in a mood to dominate everything they saw in front of them. It was a scary display of how a well drilled side of class players can blast away what was also a class side. Going to mention a few players (might put Cricinfo links in later!)

Katherine Brunt set up the win on Sunday with some outstanding seam bowling. I've done the lot in cricket, keeping batting and seam/swing bowling so I can usually spot class when I see it. Although she hasn't got the 80mph+ pace of the men (she's 23! bowlers peak at 26-30), she has the ball on a string. Great command of length and line, combined with the ability to get the ball to move sideways through the air. As an ex opening batsman, if I knew a Katherine Brunt was in the opposition, I'd be preparing for some trench warfare as I attempted to keep my wicket intact, let alone score runs ...

Laura Marsh is another of our outstanding bowlers. Spinner this time, so she bowls a lot slower. When she's bowling well, she'll put the ball right on target, every single ball. And that's with subtle changes of pace and flight too. On her day, I'd struggle to score with Laura Marsh too. (cough - I mean get runs)

She's helped out by an excellent keeper too in Sarah Taylor (aka Squirt!). There was some very efficient work done on Sunday although not so many opportunities today. She bats well too, making a very good account for herself even though she's still just 20.

Last mention goes to Claire Taylor, probably the classiest cricketer England have at the moment. And I'm including the men in that too. She deservedly got an entry in Wisden for being one of their Cricketers of the Year for batting and fielding. It's little details like having short hair instead of the ponytails most of the girls go for. That strikes me as a statement to say "I'm going for the short hair look cos I'll be batting all day." Long hair doesn't really work with a cricket helmet ... Oh - she won the semi-final for England and confirmed the win in the final :-)

So I'm currently enjoying the England girls play the Aussies with a bit of delayed coverage from earlier today. Maybe noticed a lack of me saying how these girls look. You'd think that might be what the attraction of the women's game was ... and you'd be about 10% right. The novelty is that the game is being played by some highly attractive and fit young ladies. The reality is that the standard of play is very high and it leads to some compelling cricket.

They're earning a lot of fans and it's through quality of play. The commentators didn't seem quite sure why they were there in the first matches but by the later ones, you get the feeling they'll take some keeping away next time. If you want titillation in your ladies sport, there's beach volleyball. Ladies cricket scores as a grown up game played by intelligent people who mean business.

Next to the women, our cricketing men can sometimes appear to be Dumb Blondes and more than a little clueless.

PS I think my sister is jealous of one or two of them. When I sent a few Cricinfo links over, the phrase "bowling must give you big boob muscles" came back :-)

Friday, June 19, 2009

Fetch me a Pitchfork

Been seeing a few things lately that's been making me wonder if it's worth continuing to blog ...

The reason I've kept this blog going is that I find myself with thoughts that are bursting to get out. I need to express them but either have difficulty saying it out loud (confidence issue) or it's a case of not actually knowing who to talk to them about. So I work 'em out here so that they don't keep me up all night. They do that, the subject I'll be thinking about will rattle around in my head until I sort out what it actually is and scribbling it here allows me to settle the chaotic thoughts into some kind of order.

Trouble is though ... and this is where the Pitchforks come in, is the breach of anonymity that could quite easily happen due to the attitudes of the people who actually run this country. I'm not talking about the government there, although you'd expect them to be in charge. They're not though - it's the media that runs this country. Yep, even less elected than our PM (and his adoption of the top job didn't involve a vote ...)

As they showed in the case of the Copper Blogger who they exposed, the argument "in the public interest" can be used to unmask anyone, even someone who is writing from a declared position of anonymity. What's that mean for whistleblowers ? The policeman blogger's position is rather different to mine though as I understand that he often commented on politics and cases he was involved in. Which is the opposite to how I work, I obliquely mention work reasonably often but I'm far more interested in talking (and saying nice things) about the people I work with than I am in talking politics.

Politics tends to be highly depressing, although I get the feeling that not all of what the media says about our politicians is actually true. The media can happily get away with half-truths and blatant inaccuracy with any comeback from public figures being limited to a halfhearted apology on a small fraction of page 10.

I work on a fairly high profile project (1 well hidden blog post here mentions it) and there's usually a mix of emotions that come out when a news story about us does the rounds. On one hand, we're usually pretty chuffed to see nice things written about us and our project's one of the better ones so nice things tends to be what we see. However, that's tempered by all the inaccuracies, falsehoods, blatant lies and utter incompetence that riddles media reporting. Even when there's a definitive statement produced where it would be unbelievable for it to be twisted, the media often find a way of corrupting it to suit the angle they're looking for.

I have a very dim view of incompetence, I don't like to make life any easier for those who I view as Idiots and Morons. However, the ability for a newspaper to use the "In The Public Interest" argument to strip away a person's anonymity is disturbing, especially when they're the ones defining what the "Public Interest" is. Is it something the public genuinely need to know or is it the media hunting for a new Victim.

Either way, highly disturbing. Makes you wonder whether you really want to put something on a website that can be twisted and corrupted by some highly questionable people.

If you'll excuse me, I'll put my Torch and Pitchfork away and get back to watching the England Girls in the cricket. They're fighting hard but are looking incredibly nervous ... Very strange, a side that was so clinical in the longer game is struggling with poor errors. Hope they bat better so they can beat Aussie, cos that means I'll be watching the England Girls again on Sunday morning :-)

PS In case there's any misunderstandings, I'll repeat what I usually put about work. It hasn't changed :-) I work with some amazing people and although some can be pretty hard work (very sharp people can be tough to keep up with) the project is great to work on. And that's shown by the length of time people tend to stay on board, people hang around on our project. Also, even though big projects have their bad times as well as the good, we're really delivering stuff now. We have an awesome product that should do its job for many years to come. And it can't be a bad thing when after a decade or so, you see again what you worked on and feel a sense of pride when thinking "I helped with that", which is what everyone on my project will have in the future.

Friday, June 12, 2009

Old face, new name

One of the things that's been keeping me going at work lately is the people that we have around. It's been a struggle this week, due to pain in my back and poorly shoulder. And because the shoulder isn't too healthy, restricted blood flow in my right arm means my right wrist gets painful too.

Sucks a bit ...

But I don't like to dwell on pain, as that leads to the pain owning you. I have a mental discipline that lets me filter out the annoying things around me, things like the loudly squeaking printer that irritates everyone else. I'm aware of the squeak but I'm able to filter it out. I try to do something similar with pain, where I don't acknowledge it until I kinda trip up over it. It works most of the time but the constant low level pain of wristy RSI can get to me.

What really helps with the pain management is distraction :-) And that's been coming from a couple of different areas :

Letting the mischievous demon out of the box

Hasn't happened as often as I'd like lately, although I did let the Imp out long enough today to do something that'll hopefully earn me a smile from someone next week. Nah - the mischievous demon hasn't been let out enough for a little while.

Having a laugh with people

I get on pretty well with the people at work, including those who don't actually work on the project I'm on. One of my addictions has earned me a new name : Muffin Man :-) I'm a big fan of the Chocolate & Orange muffins in the canteen and cos I tend to leave it until they're just about to close, the canteen girls have gotten used to me coming down at about 3.00-3.30 to raid their muffins. I'm also a huge fan of the sandwiches they make, even to the point where I'll grab my lunch from there even if I'm having a half day on the Friday :-)

A little bit of attention can do wonders for the morale and it gives me a lift to get a hello and a bit of banter when I see them. I got a lot of amusement out of Ms Cantina going "Ohh look, it's the Muffin Man" yesterday afternoon :-). Kinda curious to note that they don't seem to do it so much with the other people who frequent that canteen.

So that's a few ways for how I've been dealing with my own fragility :-)

Getting myself focused in what I'm doing so I don't notice the soreness. Having a little fun and helping people out (did a couple of techie support things today for a pair of truly lovely ladies :-) But most of all enjoying a bit of banter with the people at work.

PS I also go for the canteen teacakes in the morning, mainly cos my morning routine doesn't usually have a slot for breakfast but partly cos I might get another opportunity to spot a smiling Ms Cantina :-)

Sunday, June 07, 2009

Lost in Facebook

Heh heh heh - in a film I'll happily watch many times, one of the opening lines is "The Matrix Has You".

Facebook kinda does that too - They've done well in making it quite user friendly and I'm quite impressed with the amount of automation that it has built in. Things like having minigame exploits being able to get published to your page. I'm a little surprised I've taken to it, as it's a complete contrast from the blog :

Blog - Wall Of Text
Facebook - minicomments

I have to admit, I've been struggling to put things on here lately, although that's partly down to tiredness. I'm getting close to needing another week away from work. I like what I do but there are times I want to escape and not have to think about the several different directions I get pulled in when I'm there. It definitely has compensations, like Thursday when I got to have a tour of what I've been helping to put together over the past 9 years.

There's a curious satisfaction to seeing something come together, especially if you've been involved from almost the beginning. Projects start out as thoughts on paper but they only really come alive when you can see tangible progress. And there's nothing more tangible than what we saw on Thursday. It feels alive now and ready to take on what we ask of it. And I got a hell of a kick out of seeing that.

What else is happening ? We've been having typical English weather at the moment :

Hottest days of the year, followed by a predictable deluge. Predictable because it's come at the same time as the World Twenty20 cup in the cricket. They've had results in all the games so far, although England will probably have been wishing that Friday's had been rained off ... They got bitten by complacency (yet!) again and failed to beat Netherlands. You should always try your hardest, because if you don't the people you're playing will make you regret taken them too lightly.

I should have been out of office again Friday but cried off due to increasing stiffness in my back. That's one of my old injuries that likes to remind me it's there every so often. I wouldn't describe the sensation as "pain", as pain is too strong a word. Mind you, I seem to use the word "pain" like others use "agony" :-) One thing I'll be looking for on that week off I'm aiming at is a relaxing of my back, as one cause is stress. I stress myself to do my job well, so getting away from the job completely gives an opportunity to heal up a bit.

Watched the latest Terminator movie earlier. It's handy to have watched the first 3 movies, as you know what to look out for. This movie scores extremely well in staying consistent with what's gone before, which is always the place where sci-fi movies trip up over themselves. Things like scars on people, where do they come from ... bar codes burned into others. They need to be accounted for in order to keep things consistent. It's a shame the trailers give away what could have been a huge plot point, as this would have had Major Shock Value if kept as a surprise.

Good movie, worth seeing. Very action heavy and very loud, so it won't be for everyone's taste :-)

Right - I have the Grand Prix on telly and I'll be watching England v Pakistan in the cricket afterwards. Not been listening to as much music as usual lately, although I'm looking forward to the Little Boots album that comes out tomorrow.

PS Was great to see The Rose back in on Friday :-)

Tuesday, June 02, 2009

New toy time

Yep - another new toy to play with.

I've resurrected my Facebook account :-) Not quite sure what happened with that. Aginoth let me know that there was a page on Facebook with my own email address. Totally blank page. I didn't know anything about it ... Very strange.

I attempted to resurrect it by going through the forgotten password thingys but wasn't getting the emails from Facebook. To cut a few steps out, looks like my ISP was rejecting emails sent from Facebook to my main email address. Just shows the danger of auto-delete spam filters that are at the ISP level, they'll remove authentic messages as well as the spam. That particular problem has been poked and it'll hopefully behave now.

Anyway, I've taken the Facebook plunge now so I'll be adding things to there too. If anyone reading this would like to add me as a Friend, then let me know through the email address attached to my profile. (The iceangel.mercs@ one will reach me)

Still got issues with my laptop - I suspect the Linksys software that got added a month or so ago caused some damage ... it could see Agi's laptop last night but couldn't connect to files on it.

Now chilling out on the sofa looking out for Facebook updates, while hoping that my back doesn't concrete up as much as I think it might do.

PS I get the feeling that one of the Canteen Girls might be doing a bit of a While You Were Sleeping. So I'm going to be keeping on the lookout for solid objects that may result in comas.