Thursday, May 30, 2013

Don't tell anyone, I've been operating undercover ...

Car service today, which means a trip up to Cheltenham to the garage.

One immediate difference between Lexus and Carcraft is the level of customer service. Lexus actively charm you into wanting you to buy from them. It starts from the front desk and goes right on through into the cars. Carcraft are a completely different thing - they assume desperation on the part of the buyer and use it to rope you into things you don't really need or aren't ideal.

An example :

I bought a servicing package from Carcraft because it would save me money over 3 years. Yeah, it saved me money but I did get exactly what I paid for. Cheap servicing which wasn't in line with manufacturer instructions. The Lexus servicing cost is in line with what you'd expect for a dealership, it cost me £250 today for a 20,000 mile service. Ok, that might be a little more than average (I dunno, not checked :-) ) but you are definitely paying for quality.

Another massive customer service difference between Carcraft and Lexus was in the courtesy car. When my Focus was in for a repair that took an extended amount of time, I repeatedly asked for a courtesy car and was refused each time. That's despite them having a warehouse full of cars for sale. Yeah, I could have a test drive in any of them but borrow one as a courtesy car ? Nope - that wouldn't directly lead to a sale.

Lexus today - I hadn't asked for a courtesy car (Plan A was to sit in the showroom and attack a book for a few hours) but I got one anyway :-).

Here comes the undercover thing ...

It's tough to be undercover and discreet when you're driving an advert on wheels. Lol. I'm not complaining actually, I think they're great cars and more people should have them. My CT was a loan car/demonstrator for the 6 months before I got it too. Buying ex-demo isn't necessarily a bad thing, although you should look out for idiot marks, like fingerprints on a screen that doesn't support touch.

So I'm off advertising Lexus around Cheltenham.

Quick aside - I'm currently starving and waiting for dinner to burn while watching the pilot episode of Rizzoli and Isles. Yeah, I'm gonna keep watching this one, it makes me chuckle.

I was a bit disappointed actually in Cheltenham. I didn't find any quality record shops, although there was a couple of bookshops to lose myself in for a bit. Nothing on the scale of all those towns in Cornwall that we may be frequenting later in the year.

However - it did bring back memories. I had a 3 month placement there with work, which was great. I felt like I was getting a heap of stuff done, plus there was a darned attractive lady working there who laughed at my jokes. (Even believing Smoke Theory). I spotted :

The apartment block where a great mate from uni used to live (aka Widget)
The kebab shop (where they recognised me - what is it with that ?)
And some of the shops I used to haunt after work (they were walkable from my digs)

I've improved today too :-) I wouldn't have passed myself fit to play tonight (match cancelled due to lack of players) But maybe in a couple of days. That is if the rest of me agrees. Pain level = high right now. That's partly because of the cold - and if my skin improves, then I can fight the cold better :-).

That's it for today - there's a picture of that garish advert on wheels (it's actually worse than mine was) on my Facebook account, I'm not going to repost it here because it has a registration plate and I don't want to put the next private owner of it in an uncomfortable position.

Last thought - I definitely missed the toys when I had the loan car - no satnav/computer and the radio wasn't configured to listen to my phone's bluetooth.

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

If it's not one thing ...

I should have been playing cricket yesterday ...

I'm involved in two evening cricket teams at the moment, although I'm at "making up the numbers" status. Cricket's quite frustrating at the moment because :

Can't throw
Can't bowl
No batting technique (it's hiding due to lack of practice)
Slow legs

And that's when I'm actually intact enough to play. I let the captain of one team know on Friday that I'd got a bit torn up and was doubtful for Tuesday, this was when he was letting me know that he'd probably need me for the game.

That's where the making up the numbers comes in. If the team's short, I'll turn up and play. Like a couple of years ago, I'll even play when hobbling due to torn groin muscles or heavily bruised legs. Hell, I even put dislocated thumbs back in on the field (wicket keeping injury) and kept playing. There's not much that'll keep me off the field if the team needs me, I've only had to leave the field twice :

Nose Job Number 1 (being hit in the eye by the ball)
A couple of heavy hits to my knees

The knee one was when I played for the village side, I got hit twice heavily on my right knee when I wasn't wearing the padding I see as essential now. My legs were pretty stunned from that, couldn't put power through the leg. But I was back on the field again after getting my knee pads on. Oh - I've also retired hurt once, after getting hit on the legs again. But that was more because I was scoring slower than a sleeping turtle and my side was losing.

I think I've picked up on another thing I have to avoid at all costs.

Pick N Mix.

I'd been recovering quite nicely, enough to be able to play two games. However, I barely made that second game and my condition the day after was ... poor. And that decline continued with me scratching my head wondering what I'd come into contact with that caused the decline. I think it's Pick N Mix, I picked up some on Tuesday at the Mall having had the rare chance to have the car in work. That was fortuitous because I also needed more jeans - I can get those from Matalan, which is within walking distance ... but I suspect I react to their dyes.

So - Pick N Mix lasted a few days. And I seem to have improved since it ran out. I'll just avoid it for a little while, there's all sorts of strange things that'll go into Pick N Mix stuff.

Anyway - enough of the gross stuff. I've improved overnight and over today and if it continues, I'd be intact enough for a game scheduled for tomorrow.

If the game actually happens that is. I phoned one captain up yesterday to let him know that I was too shredded for last night's game, which turned out academic because Summer's been and gone here just like last year. We've had days of continuous rain. I suspect we've had enough rain today that tomorrow's game is doubtful.

What have I been doing over the holiday ?

It's been a little strange and restless. I'd usually mark the beginning of a holiday period with a run to the places where pizzas grow. This time though, I've been hiding because of those unhealthy legs. It was just tonight where they'd improved enough for me to head out. Actually, Friday was ok too but I still had a bit of that Pick N Mix left to gobble. And when I say Ok, that's like someone saying they're just fine when they can only move with the aid of a walking stick. Cos I'm like that.

Restless ?

I've always been someone who needs to divide their attention up between different things. Like at the moment, I'm keeping a loose eye on the TV news while writing this, thinking about a bit of pooter management, listening to music (Life by The Cardigans). But ... I seem unable at the moment to totally devote my attention to one single thing. And that would be reaaaaally useful as it would distract me away from "helping" (translation - poking and making it worse) my legs to recover.

I've bene having trouble focusing on one thing to keep my attention. I've been bouncing from game to game, only settling on :

Defense Grid - because certain levels I can leave running after an initial set up
Endless Space - space game which is Bad but is newer than ...
Master of Orion 2 - I keep going back to this :-)

I have a tonne of others which I've barely touched since I got them. And that's like - 30 minutes played according to Steam.

Need something to get my teeth into ! Or someone - oo-er. Tomorrow will be different, I'll be on the road to get the car serviced. Which could either be me sitting in the garage waiting for them to get the job done (new book by Jack Campbell to keep me busy!) or me wandering around Cheltenham for a little while.

For now though - it's back to another run through Deus Ex Human Revolution, or perhaps a nostalgia soaked trip back to the original Neverwinter game ... (yep - there's a new Neverwinter Nights game - I'm avoiding it).

Musical accompaniment ? For now : Fine by The Cardigans. Happy songs :-) It's from before The Cardigans turned quite dark ... Life's a bouncier, happier album than the rest of their's.

Friday, May 24, 2013

Calling for Plan B

First day of leave today

Yey !

Plan A was to chill out in front of the cricket, however the weather in Leeds intervened and there was no play at all today. What to do ... what to do ...

Partly inspired by needing to top up the supplies (ok, the cupboards were bare and I was down to my last packet of biscuits), Plan B was to head into Bristol centre for a wander around. Wandering the shops usually involves lurking in record shops for way too long and book shops until I get bored (which isn't too long seeing as the local book shops aren't great now).

Oh - did I mention I was on leave ? I needed a break and I'll be away from work until Monday 3rd. I'm hoping for some good R&R, although my legs are slightly torn up again. It's not serious, at least it's not nearly as serious as a month ago. They've just been objecting to one of my stress reactions, which hasn't been helping.

Back to the shopping. We have 2 reputable record shops in Bristol now (are there more ? tell me if there are!), Head and HMV. Ok, HMV have their own problems with customer disservice but they're what we have available as competition, which actually kept them honest, went bust in our recession. Head were the place I went in first, they're a bit cheaper. I wouldn't buy any blurays from them though as they sell discs that are exrental and marked "not for retail". Better not tell the law.

I ended up spending a bit of cash in Head, there was a favourable 3 for £10 offer plus I'm checking out soe Daft Punk. What did I get ?

3 for £10 was :
Bjork - Homogenic
Enigma - Le Roi Est Mort ...
R.E.M. - Automatic For The People
£1 - Jan Hammer - Best of Miami Vice
£5 - Daft Punk - Discovery

I've always enjoyed Bjork's not-quite-sane vocals and Enigma's atmospherics. I've managed to not have any R.E.M. for far too long. Jan Hammer's Miami Vice soundtracks were incredible moody instrumentals. And I enjoyed Daft Punk's soundtrack to Tron Legacy. Oh - Daft Punk were playing over the tannoy too, which probably saw me staying in that shop longer than I otherwise would have. But it gave me an excuse to make the check out girl giggle when I said, on her spotting the Daft Punk, that I'd been beaten into submission by the album playing over the tannoy.

Next door was Waterstones. I'm kinda surprised we still have bookstores. The online sellers blow them away on stock, value and offers. In the Mall, the Buy One Get One Half Price offer included the latest Jack Campbell but not David Brin. In the centre, it included the David Brin but not the Jack Campbell. I'd already ordered it off Amazon anyway.

Never read anything by David Brin. Always been interested, never bought the books.

Bit more wandering, bit more being disappointed by the prices in HMV. Since Virgin/Zavvi went bust, they've had no competition to encourage lower prices. Hunger saw me making a beeline for lunch. I'm getting to be a fan of Soho Coffee Co. Good coffee, edible food. And ... today ? Great music too. And I coulda sworn someone was checking me out from another table. Wishful thinking perhaps :-).

I have an app on my iPhone called Shazaam, which listens to what's playing and tells you what it is. I use it in two cases : "What the hell is this awful rubbish so I can avoid it ?" and "OMG This is awesome and I have to buy it". Well, the second of those today was by Caro Emerald playing in the coffee shop.

And ... HMV were asking too much so it got acquired as soon as I got home.

Before I close - Supermarket was done on the way home and ... who do I spot ? Superspy ! This was a fella who worked with us for far too many years before taking a well earned retirement. He worked in our registry section and would have done anything for anybody. Great guy. I was in the queue when I spotted him, so I couldn't chase him down and say hello.

Ah well.

On the whole, good day today. There was no play in the cricket but that spurred me to get those supplies. Being serious (for a change), I needed bread, apples and some other proper supplies. Can't rely on teacakes for breakfast while you're on leave ...

Looking forward to the next week.

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Frustration on the field

I did something I very rarely do tonight ...

I actually showed signs of frustration to the outside world. I don't like to do that, because it's a sign that what's causing the frustration is getting the better of you. That's whether it's work stuff, play stuff or your own condition not being what you would want it to be.

Tonight, it's me not being able to take as full a part in the game as I'd like to.

Oh - before I really dive in, the treatment I use is to get away from people for a while. I'll be chilling out next week with a week off work. My frustration tends to be born out of tiredness and it's time I had a decent break. Hopefully next week will fit that, previous breaks have been dominated by needing to monitor my skin condition a bit too much.

But I'm still up for that Iron Man 3 seeing ;-) And I may well watch Star Trek Into Darkness again. Maybe when I wander around Bristol centre again, which will happen soon. Maybe Friday if there's rain at the cricket.

Back to tonight. Why the frustration ?

I'm getting older and time is starting to win that particular battle ... I can still run but hip damage (brought on by managing the skin condition) is really starting to cut into the speed I have available. That's new, as it always used to just affect turning. Now it's getting rather more debilitating.

The other frustration is my shoulder. I have about 95% movement in it, enough for doing anything except throwing and bowling (For some "bowlers", it's the same!). I don't want to have the surgery it probably needs in case I lose some of the 95% movement I still have. But ... that 5% means I have zero power in my throw, so runs were coming off my fielding that shouldn't have been allowed. I fielded reasonably cleanly apart from that.

Bowling is frustrating too. We're light on bowlers this year (light on players too) so it's frustrating not being able to contribute there. That's coming from being a super reliable front line bowler before my shoulder froze up from lack of use.


Very frustrating yeah.

However ...

Word from the other skipper was that my fielding was apparently better than last week, when I was struggling to keep my feet planted (drier conditions tonight, lots of sun). Better preparation meant my leg muscles didn't try and explode (they turned to stone instead with the cold - lol).

And ... I remember that a month ago, I'd written off playing for at least half the season because when I ran up the stairs, the skin on my legs would split. Much better now. Not perfect but far better than I was.

All that frustration had melted away by the time the game finished (we batted second, fielding first) as I steadily realised that my team mates weren't blaming for being inept but were happy to have me around, whatever the level of play I can contribute.

That level is just far lower than I remember being able to put in, which is why I get the frustration.

Oh - and if you are manic/depressive/bipolar like I tend to (I recognise the symptoms in me but they are light and managed by me grinning at everyone, even in my blackest moods), try to focus on the positive. So for me tonight :

Bad - Acceptance that I'm getting old and slower.
Good - Remembering that my skin improved so remarkably that it's allowed me to play.

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Monday, May 20, 2013

Feeling my age ... and being surprised by it

Definitely getting older.

However ... as is typical for me, it's not showing in the typical way. I have what you could call the results from last week's cricket in now, if you could call it the aftermath of a fitness test.

Cricket's a lot more energetic than people think, although that depends on how much the player puts into it. I'm either sleeping or hyperbunny. If I'm dispatched to the outfield, I get sleepy. If I'm closer in, then I'm hyperbunny. Lots of short sprints to get to the ball quick. Lots of reaching for the ball and diving around. Bruises from being inept. I got to be hyperbunny in last week's game.

I'm usually struggling badly for the 2-3 days after the first game of the season. The unaccustomed exercise and use of muscles that don't get used much leads to them screaming at you for a few days. However much I practiced in the past, it was no substitute for actual match fitness. It took a few games to get conditioned. So I was expecting a few days of hell where I wouldn't be able to move much.

What actually happened ? Here's the surprise - I actually survived the game pretty well. Apart from a couple of bruises, the days of hell didn't actually happen. I could still move well. Ok, not 100% because there's internal wear and tear damage to my hips and knees that won't heal easily. I have full running speed available, just not full agility.

Yeah - I'm amazed actually.

I went into last Wednesday's game with the absolute minimum of preparation. No training, no practice and it was 3 weeks after I'd given up on 1/3 of the season to my legs not being in a fit state. Oh and I was short enough on hydration during the day that I nearly had calf muscles explode due to cramp, although the cramp may have been brought on by the heavy ground conditions.

So - internal damage aside, not quite so old as I thought. Still mostly able to keep up at 38, although I am definitely slowing down. That's a relative thing though because I used to be lightning quick and still have most of that leg power available.

Actually yeah - I still had enough leg power to make my skin bleed a few weeks ago and make it difficult to stand for extended periods. And that's recovered enough to let me use maximum sprinting power.

So what's this about feeling old ?

It's actually gaming. I used to be really good at driving games and I'm pretty decent in a kart (I'm just too heavy cos of those legs). Now ? I try racing games like F1 2012 and Grid and I'm really slow. It feels like I'm half a second behind where the racing car is. I even had to stop playing Grid after not that long because my back was killing me (need to figure a better place for the wheel).

Upside (or Sleepy is not old) :
I didn't suffer quite as badly from going into that game unprepared
The skin damage didn't cause any issues
Most of the old speed is still there

Downside (Sleepy is ancient) :
I'm too old for the gaming !!!!!

Woe is me. I better stick to the cricket for now. (lol)

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

In the Game again

And a bunch of Eve pilots just went "doh!"

(It's an Eve thing).

Actually played cricket tonight. Or should I say, I turned up at the game in my whites and impersonated a cricketer for a little while. I am literally getting too old for it now, although I did survive tonight's game relatively unscathed.

It was surprising that we played tonight - we had rain on and off all day, with lots of sunshine at times too. There was steady but light rain when we were practicing before the start. There was even Hail.

In May. There was hail. Global warming is definitely having its effect.

The rain held off in the game, with the sun coming out. The sun actually causes a few problems, the ground we play on isn't great for seeing due to the colour of the houses on the other side of the boundary. We play with a red ball with whites with no lights at the ground, so if that red ball crosses the red brick of the houses, it tends to disappear ...

You get used to it and it's the same for both sides. Similar for the ground condition. Water changes the way pitches play in unpredictable ways. It can make the ball bounce more, or it can skid on and almost speed up when it bounces. You never really know until you play, which makes my usual job as opener (first to go out there and sample the conditions) a lot harder. I didn't actually bat tonight, which I'm up and down about.

I was in my spiked boots tonight but was still having real trouble with the footing ... I dropped two catches tonight, the second saw my feet jump out from underneath me (true), with me falling on my bum. Didn't manage to knock the ball where I could catch it. And that's not the only time I almost ended up on my bum. My legs still seem to have enough power available to cause me trouble :-).

Lots of fielding tonight - I took a heavy knock on my knee (moderated by the knee pads I use), plus I'll have a fantastic shiner on my left hand from another catch which I really should have held. (Need new glasses).

We lost tonight but salvaged our honour after a really bad start to our innings.

I'll definitely be suffering tomorrow from :
Sore quad muscles on my legs
The bruising on my left hand
Bruising to come on my knee
A calf muscle which very nearly got pulled due to cramp
(need to remember to prepare better during the day)

Everything else seems fairly ok, although I will definitely suffer for the next few days after my body gets a chance to stiffen up. That's an early season inevitability. I should really train more to get the conditioning. Actually, one thing I did notice from tonight was that my lungs were better, I didn't lose my breath even though I did a few sprints (batting would be more stressful). Perhaps I'm avoiding an allergy something that would be affecting my breathing.

The big news from tonight is that my ailing skin actually survived the game with not many issues. A month ago, if I ran up the stairs the back of my knees would bleed. The skin there was that delicate. It's still sensitive but much more resilient.

That's actually really good news, although I have to stay on top of it by making sure I don't "help" it too much.

Oh ! Star Trek Into Darkness tomorrow. That should be awesome. Looking forward to it.

Monday, May 13, 2013

More data, more healing

I seem to be approaching something near to rude health again.

That's right - I'm having to think of other ways than just rolling the sleeves up in order to scare people. (I've gone back to the tried and tested traditional methods of just being a loon - it's working).

What's that "more data" thing ?

I've added a couple more things to the allergy list. I appear to be allergic to my jeans. Yep. I improve, the skin on the back of my knees gets silky smooth (that's been the messy bit), then I wear my jeans and that skin goes nasty again. I don't wear those jeans too often, it's suit trousers at work and tracksuit type bottoms at home (unless I'm protecting the skin by going to shorts). But I wore them on Wednesday evening to go to the game that didn't happen.

Clues ? Could be the dye, could be the material. Jeans are rougher than normal and it could be the roughness that's causing the problem. I've taken steps - the jeans have been washed again and I'm using different (anti-allergenic) washing blobs and softener from a different manufacturer. I've also bought some new jeans.

The healing's good actually - on Friday, my condition had gone backwards enough that I was considering letting the cricket people know I wasn't going to be available on Wednesday. Now, I'm fine again (externally - internally my knee hates me) although I'm having to work the discipline to stop me "helping" the healing by tearing at the bad bits.

Yep. Self inflicted wounds and all that.

Wonder if I'll get any cool scars after all this is behind me. There's none on my face, where there were a few Zombie Plague patches visible last year.

Another thing I might be allergic to is lanellin (however it's spelt!). My sister put me on to this, as she reacts to it too. It's a base for medicines, like the steroid creams I'd been using. On the one hand, you get healing from the steroid cream. On the other, you're applying something which gives you an allergic reaction to an area that's sore and sensitive. The new stuff is helping rather than hindering.

So - good news all round there.

Looking good. Feeling good. (Although my knee and shoulder have been telling me I'm an idiot to consider playing cricket again). People think I'm looking young again. Canteen Girl (different one) thought I was 32. That's 6 years below my actual age. Sweet :-).

Oh - you know when you think of some really cool stuff but when it comes to the right time, you can't remember ? Yep. Got that. I had some good thoughts for a post earlier when I was at work but can I remember them now ? Nope.

I still need to get the allergy test done - and it's getting closer to when it'll give me good data too. There's enough of me back to good condition.

I have new stuff too now, although I was looking to get more :

New shoes. This turned from "it can wait" into "must have now" when I got wet socks from wearing my last pair of shoes on a rainy day. I break shoes before they get dirty. Dunno why, I've tried to train myself to have an efficient stride that shouldn't put too much strain on the shoes. Because strain on shoes means strain on knees and hips and I have to look after those.

So I have new shoes - eventually. £65 for shoes for work ? Inflation is going nuts. I got £20 off mine and they seem ok.

But I don't have a long sleeve cricket shirt yet. I've never used these, long sleeves interfered with my bowling. However, a long sleeve will protect arms that are still healing when I forget my age and dive for the ball when fielding. Can I find one ? Nope. Nothing in Sports Direct and that's the closest shop to a sports shop outside of Globe sports. And even there, it's more fashion store than sports store.

I think I started rambling quite some time ago didn't I ?

Closing up :

Feeling and looking healthier. Although I'm not completely healed yet.
Lanellin = bad.
I look 6 years younger than I am - and a pretty girl said so.

And that last statement is possibly the best way to close :-)

Thursday, May 09, 2013

Great games

Are very often the simple ones.

At least, they tend to be founded on very simple principles which allow for great scope and depth. Those principles when turned into gameplay can't get in the way of enjoying the game, or gamers quickly get frustrated and walk away.

I've bought a little selection of games lately and it may surprise you which has taken more of my time over the past week.

F1 2012 - is a racing game based on Formula 1 Grand Prix. They're the fastest cars on the planet. I left this one aside for a while because I didn't have the equipment to appreciate it properly. Strange thing is though, now I do have a steering wheel for my PC, this game still leaves me cold. It doesn't have the immediacy of Forza on the Xbox or the old Need For Speed games I was addicted to way back.

I suspect it's because it has bits interfering with the gameplay. With the settings I had active, the game was actively slowing me down. The brake pedal didn't do much. I didn't have the chance to do late braking because the game was taking away that ability to make and learn from my mistakes by braking for me way too early.

And that's very frustrating and interferes badly with the ability to enjoy the game. The interface is also far too dominated by console influences.

Napoleon Total War - I was happily addicted to the original Shogun Total War when it came out and have followed the Total War series with curiosity, if not by buying it. It's another split game, where there's a strategic layer combined with a tactical battle layer. The forces at your disposal in the tactical layer are the ones you've built up in the strategic layer.

The Total War series is another which has all the ingredients to make a great game of its type. The strategic layer is full of depth and scope. The tactical layer looks gorgeous with plenty of options for commanding the troops. But ... something doesn't add up with it. Things like having the options for commanding the troops but ending up with them facing the wrong way. Yep, did that in the tutorial.

I'll go back into the Total War series at some point but all the tutorial did was remind me why I avoided getting Rome Total War a few years ago. A game with great promise but that gameplay got in the way of me enjoying it.

So what have I been playing ?

Let's start with the Steam stats. Steam tells me I've spent 32.8 hours on it over the past 2 weeks. Except that isn't over the past 2 weeks, it was all last weekend. In comparison, I've spent 179 hours on I think 4 Deus Ex Human Revolution playthroughs, 86 hours between 2 Skyrim playthroughs (and barely scratched the surface of that game), 33 hours on the latest XCom game (1 playthrough) and the 2 Torchlight games lasted me about 12 hours each before I got bored of them.

In terms of value for money this latest one cost me about £4 on a 75% off sale. So I've already got 8 hours per £1 spent. And I'd get many more too ... I've only played through the main campaign and none of the extra content so far.

So what is it ?

There's a genre of game called Tower Defense. The premise is that overwhelming wave after wave of monsters are attacking and it's up to you to stop them by deploying defensive towers. There's usually a bunch of different types of tower and different layouts to the maps. Each level is a puzzle to be solved. Most games of this type are free to play, although there is the occasional paid version.

The game I've been on is called Defense Grid : The Awakening. I stayed away for ages because it wasn't free to play, which was a mistake as it's actually incredibly good and worth the little amount of cash when it's (often) on sale.

It's fairly typical of the type with a wide range of enemies and enough towers to keep things interesting. It's simple to play but tough to beat. And you get a little extra value from the money by there being a narrator who gives you a bit of context.

Trouble is, a game can be a little too good.

I've been struggling for sleep over the past week. One cause is my skin condition, it's much better but there's still enough irritation that I'll "help" it. I've had better discipline there but when I'm trying to sleep, my discipline is much weaker because I'm not thinking. But the other cause is Defense Grid. I've been playing it in my head while trying to get to sleep. ARG ! It's that addictive and that simple. Here's a video to a walkthrough of one of the levels which will give you an idea of the gameplay.

Verdict on Defense Grid ? So good that it'll kill your sleep. Buy it anyway. I've banned myself from playing it midweek cos you know ? Gotta work ! And I've been struggling to function on the limited amount of sleep I've been getting.

Friday tomorrow - bring on the weekend :-)

Saturday, May 04, 2013

Before journey, check dates

For a person with extremely high IQ, I can be a real idiot sometimes.

Road trip today :-) I had two objectives : acquiring a steering wheel and wandering around Stoneleigh until my feet were too sore to walk any more.

The first part went just fine, although Coventry's roads are somewhat a) dangerous, b) clogged and c) confusing. Been noticing with new roads built lately, they're not building roads the way they used to. New roads hold the water. And that's definitely not a good thing. Roads are supposed to be designed so that the rainwater flows off them. Standing water shouldn't happen. Yet on the new A46 and the A45 around Coventry, the water stays on the road and creates dangerous puddles. Bright blue sky, no rain for a while, yet still a big chance of aquaplaning. Yep. Had one incident today when the traction control woke up to stop the car going sideways.

That's not good.

Yet on the M5 motorway, occasional apocalyptic rain saw really poor visual conditions but there was always sure footing under the car.

Ok. Steering wheel acquired - been meaning to pick up one of these ever since putting F1 2012 aside due to it really needing the right equipment to enable enjoyment of that game. On to Stoneleigh.

I had a feeling I'd messed up when I was approaching the showground. In my defence, I think I picked up on the show dates by misreading the ticket prices. I'd read the camping prices, thinking "cor ! not paying that to get in". I think that made Saturday as a show day lodge in my mind.

Oops. I figured it out when I read the signs for parking : "Sunday and Monday". Ah well. One successful roadtrip, just one day too early.

So off I pop on the way home, having not seen any kit cars. Not straight home though ... there was tell of a Bristol Motor Show on at the Mall, which put me in the right place for :

New trousers for work (yep - needed those)
Lurking round the Mall (Nerina Pallot cd and Superman blurays)
Sweetie shop (munchies !)
Iron Man 3

I have to say, the motor show isn't worth going to see. There's barely any manufacturers there. Even people like Audi (who have a showroom about 500 yards away) didn't turn up. No opportunity to check out the new Lexus.

Iron Man 3 is well worth seeing. The first two are great films, this one beats them. Far more story involved than the bangs and bumps of the first two. And I'm not telling anything cos it would be so easy to innocently spoilerise this film. If you enjoyed the first two, this one is even better. Definitely beats the Avengers movie.

I really enjoyed today. Yeah, I drove a couple of hundred miles and didn't get to see any kit cars. However. That's not the important thing.

I feel as if I have some of what people may call "mojo" back. It felt weird earlier to be able to jump in the car and just go somewhere, without having to worry about the implications of my skin condition. I'm not free of it yet, there is still a lot of me that looks like it's been dragged through a very thorny bush. But it's no longer at that level where it dominates my thinking.

I was thinking about that "weird" feeling. I'd describe it as "liberating". The point where you get your freedom back. I had options today. I had a text fairly late yesterday offering a game of cricket. I assessed my condition and thought - "yeah, could have played". I declined because I'd made other plans and playing a 40 over game of cricket in my current fitness condition would have been ... stupid. I can get away with evening games but need a lot more conditioning before trying longer games. That's if I'm able to play longer games any more anyway - I'm getting older and more broken inside.

Wasn't feeling broken today though. A fortnight ago, if I ran up the stairs I would have started bleeding from the back of my knees. (Seriously!) Today, the knees are very close to fully healed, which I wouldn't have believed a week ago. And I have my full movement available, which includes being able to dodge trucks when running across the road.

Yeah - really enjoyed it, despite the feelings of being an idiot. The road trip marks a change from reclusively dealing with the skin condition to hopefully being able to put it behind me and move on.

PS I also have a sugar mouse. Or should I say ... had.
PS2 That Spa trip just got a lot more viable :-)
PS3 Those Superman blurays mean I have a spare copy of Superman Returns on dvd now if anyone (local!) wants it

Wednesday, May 01, 2013

Bank Holiday plans

Feels very weird to be making plans.

Lately, when I've had a break from work, all I've planned to do is stay at home and protect my arms and legs so they heal up a bit more. However, those arms and legs are far less angry with me now, even compared to just over a week ago.

Hell, I even declared an availability for playing cricket after thinking that the first half of the season was written off. Things have improved that much.

So how about those plans ? They vary in scale from just mundane to perhaps a little bit epic.

Mundane - clothes. They've cleaned up ok but I know what the condition of the skin underneath was. I need new stuff. I need new shoes too, I've been waiting until my skin's been on the mend for that because new shoes always shred my achilles tendon area. I'm also thinking of buying some wicket keeping gloves, although I'll wait for an answer from the skipper to see if that's really necessary.

Bristol Motor Show this weekend and I'll definitely be going to that. It's up at Cribbs Causeway this year. Dunno how they'll arrange it. I suspect there will be cars in the Mall and cars on display in the car park. I'm curious. And I'm hoping the new Lexus will make an appearance. I have to get the car serviced as well soon but that will be before the new Lexus appears at the garage for peeking.


This is kit car mecca. I've always been interested in kit cars, although I've never had that combination of Money, Facilities and Time come together to let me build one. Stoneleigh is the biggest show of the year, so there will be tonnes of stuff to see.

Oh and it's just 7 miles down the road from a place that will sell me a steering wheel for the PC.

The last place is a lot more miles away. Bear with me while I think through the arrangements ...

It's the Belgian Grand Prix. I know ... epic road trip ?

The road trip itself would involve crossing two international boundaries and about 450 miles each way. That's not quite as bad as it sounds by miles, because roughly halfway there's a break from driving while you're on the Channel Tunnel.

Then you have Channel Tunnel prices at £51 for a Short Stay Saver, £75 for Standard Single or £149 for a 5 Day Flexiplus. The more expensive tickets allow more flexibility or more days between there and back.

Finishing it all off is the main event, tickets for the event and hotels. If you're doing this kind of trip, you really have to go All In. And that means tickets covering the entire event, not just the race day. There's more to see too, with support races featuring other classes. How much for this ? Erm. A "certain package deal specialist" is offering £296 for Silver Grandstand event tickets, plus £398 for a few nights at the hotel.

That makes it almost £800 for the weekend, with petrol to come on top.

To be honest, the Spa trip is a bit far fetched. It would be fun but it's one where I'd definitely want to have company along. (Oh look there's just been an email in from an online site ...). The motor show and Stoneleigh trips I'll happily go to on my own but I think the Spa trip would need me bringing a sanity saver.

Oh - the motor show trip also gets me in the vicinity of a cinema with Iron Man 3 on :-)