Thursday, December 31, 2015

Alphabet of the Human Heart - I and J

Gosh, it's been a while since I've done one of these. Little too long perhaps !

Before I dive in - it's been a few quiet days for me, chilling, relaxing, recovering. It's what I've needed after a tiring last few years (the end is happily in sight, more in a 2015 review post coming soon ...). Plus I apparently picked up a cold ... Minor cold but still noticeable.

I've been enjoying an early look at a game called Darkest Dungeon. It's a pretty simple game, in Early Access so it's not quite finished yet (doesn't like the Steam chat overlay for one) but it has something really important : Character. You run an adventuring company where you take 4 people each time into the Dungeons. And they gradually gain stress which grants them neuroses. And those add character ... like the masochistic guy who sees an iron maiden and goes "I wanna try that!". Dark ... but character that distinguishes it from many other very flat games.

Alphabet ?

I is for Insecurity. We all have this, even those who appear super confident.

It's the private face that we hide behind what we show everyone else. It's where self doubt creeps in and affects your ability to be at your best. It's forgetting whether you've locked your front door and fretting about it all the way through a 180 mine trip to your mum and dad. What's the book say ? It's a disease that stems from negative self perceptions that say "I'm no good, I'm inadequate, I'm worthless." It can steal our lives ... but it can be overcome.

The voice saying those things comes from within, as we can be our own worst enemies. Well, you can reverse that. Remember the loving and loveable side, worthwhile and wonderful, inspiring and interesting.

I know a few people like that, they are being crippled by their insecurities. Yet I remember the loving, loveable, worthwhile, wonderful, inspiring, interesting sides of them that make them great people. Those sides are just masked by the insecurities but they're still there.

I is for Imagination. That creative spark that generates ideas.

It's that little boy who wants to be an astronaut and travel through space. That train driver who goes to new places. Games have stifled those dreams lately, as the games are driven down linear paths that squash the potenatial for going off the path. But the potential for imagination is coming back. From games like Minecraft (which I don't play) which feed that creativity by enabling the building of structures driven by imagination. I'm hoping to get into From The Depths to create some rather odd looking (and hopefully pretty) ships.

The trick is to have the tools that allow you to transfer the pictures in your mind to something everyone else can see. My mum was seeing the pictures I was taking of Ben and thinking they were great and that I should show them to a wider audience (I'm happy with the audience I have, it's small but I like you and the Facebook people). The camera is one tool for capturing what I see and hopefully getting a chuckle out of people.

The book has a lovely passage : Think really deeply about something. Then don't think about it at all. See what pops up. Then, once you've had an idea, make it real. A cake isn't a cake until it's cookied*.

*(yep - freudian typo).

I need to investigate the possibility of using my iPad as an art pad. It's been so long since I drew. I could use pencil and capture the output in my scanner but I'm curious about using the iPad for it. It's one thing asking Google for pictures of dragons, it's another being able to translate what's in my mind to something I can capture and post.

J is for Jealousy.

This is a really nasty emotion. It has us looking without at other people and what they have, instead of recognising what we have already. It's a lack of trust too.

It kills the love it seeks to protect. It can remind you of who and why you love but it brings with it pain and anxiety and heartbreak. To save a relationship, lose your jealousy (remember the love). It isn't easy, it takes time and effort. Truthfulness and trust, patience and perseverence, reality checks and reassurance. It's a labour of love.

It's one thing to want to be with someone all the time, it's another thing entirely to think you own that person's time. People need their space ! To own someone's time is to trap them. And people are much better free than in cages. Back to insecurity, especially when that cage is in their own mind. Be the person that someone wants to spend time with because there are no jealous judgments when you see each other.

Have the trust to believe that a person loves you above all others while respecting their need to run their own lives. There is no need for jealousy, seek joy instead.

J is for Joy !

It's that glee on Ben's face when it's time for meatscraps. It was having to peel Scruff off the ceiling when someone mentioned the word "Walkies". It was Goldie having the freedom to run at maximum speed.

I didn't get Joy that much with the cricket, as it usually submerged below concentration. But there were more than a few times where I went haring off around the field with my arms in aeroplane wings after seeing the stumps fly. The joy was there but it was balanced by respect for the opposition and by knowing that there was still a job to be done to win the game.

It is the happiness found deep within. It comes from our soul, not from external things. Look inside and feel the joy, soon those around you will feel it too.

There's a lovely picture in the book too. It depicts several grey men hiding under umbrellas as the rain comes down. And one pretty lady with an inside-out brolly smiling up at the rain.

I wonder whether this is what people see when they see my grin. Most people can't help themselves but grin back, which brings a little more joy to me too.

So yeah.

Insecurity leads to a mental paralysis which makes us a shadow of what we can be. Sometimes it needs a reminder that we are awesome people. Listen to supporting people that you trust, it can help you remember the lovely.
Imagination sends us in wonderful directions that we didn't think we'd go in. It lets us free our creativity. It lets us develop new skills (cough - plumbing - cough).
Jealousy leads to unhappy feelings. It creates a trap where the key to the lock is trust.
And a little joy is what we should all be looking at having and passing on.

Be more dog. Feel that joy of heading out and feeling that fresh air. Of smiling at someone and having an answering grin. By surprising someone having a hard day* with some politeness. That feeling when someone you like sends you a happy message.

*(thinking of all those people working retail in one of the worst times of the year for it!)

I hope this post gives you a little joy too.

Monday, December 28, 2015

Ben says Hi

Back today after seeing the mum and dad over Christmas.

Well, actually back last night but that was far too late to write out a post. And probably more rattled than I should be by the standards of driving on the roads at the moment. It's odd. It should be those who should know better who are misbehaving most. It's not the kids without driving experience, it's the older drivers who drive very obnoxiously. You know what I mean, the ones who habitually speed and tailgate.

It goes past that too - when I went to Bath, on the way back I followed someone who had two broken brake lights. His centre brake light still worked but if that went ? He'd have a certain smash from someone who didn't see him braking. His response to me flashing him when he used his brakes (I do this twice but no more - more would be obnoxious in itself) was to put his fog lights on. Yep, respond to someone telling you that you have a serious problem with your vehicle with a bit of the obnoxious.

But enough about the bad stuff.

I had a good chilled out extended weekend with the family, including heading off to see the sister and D Senior (D Junior was off with his grandmum). It's always good to catch up with the family. We think it's one thing that really disrupted Ravenwolf's thinking. She came from a very disfunctional family group and really couldn't understand how people could be together for so long, getting on well. I prefer our version of family life, I didn't like being exposed to her's because I found it quite stressful.

And there's this fella :
He was very close to saying Hi but was being distracted by smells of meatscraps. Ben's a typical Staffy, he's a bundle of love on four legs. He's very definitely a People Dog. He likes to be around people, he'll give them a sniff, followed by a big slurp. Especially if there are meatscraps involved.
Alhough it is possible to distract him away from the meatscraps sometimes. I actually took a few more pictures of Old Ben this weekend but they tended to disappear into motion blur like this one is doing with his head and that endlessly wagging tail. This was Ben saying "Happy Bacon and Turkey Day and Please Can I have Some More".
It's not all about Ben though, there's a very active avian community that comes to visit the bird tables. Tough to get pictures of them though (I didn't have my good camera with me so it was the slow shutter, no zoom iPhone)
It can get a bit too much for Ben sometimes though. This was while Xmas dinner was on the way and our Ben had to take himself away and went for the Apply Nose Directly To Pillow solution to avoid all the lovely smells coming out of the kitchen.

Bit tuckered out too our Ben. He's getting very old now, we think he may have 1, maybe 2 more Xmases in him. He's at a good weight, not too thin, not the barrel that he has been. His outside coat is in very good condition. He shows his age in that distinguished grey of his muzzle and a need to often take himself off somewhere quiet for a little sleep when it gets too much for him. Always around his people mind.
But he'll always jump up and go bouncy when there's a prospect of meat scraps.
Oh yes. There's always room for more meatscraps.
We had a chance to see the sister's two dogs when we visited. They're a bit too protective and territorial though, so they get exiled to the backyard when visitors come. That doesn't stop Murph though doing a Kilroy check to see if the visitors have meatscraps.

Yep. If you asked a dog what the Holy Grail looked like, it would be his dinner bowl, piled high with meatscraps.
Back to Ben - I entered the kitchen and did not emerge with meatscraps. Ben was very disappointed in me.

(You might notice a bit of a burr on his left paw there too - Ben might be heading for the Cone Of Shame ... but it seemed to be improving over the weekend).
Ben's a little camera shy but if you can catch him, he's a gorgeous pooch. This is him making sure we got his best side.
But all good things have to come to an end. Ben is very attached to his people and misses them when they go. I actually caught him having another little sleep there but he does figure out when his people are going to go away for a while.

Right - time to get back to paying attention to the cricket on the telly (England took an advantage this morning and I'm watching it on time delay). I'm also watching the Totalbiscuit Arbitrary Game Awards. And I need to get more munchie supplies at some point.

Oh and I want to make my own virtual navy at some point too (a game called From The Depths that looks amazing) and I'll be delving in some Dark Dungeons too.

Cya ! Hope you got lots of good loot (I did, I'm in the middle of reading Man Plus plus I got a few more things) and good munchies but most of all, great company.

Monday, December 21, 2015

Sleepy Holidays

Hurrah ! Time off work.

I'm away for a couple of weeks and I've really needed it. I went to 2 work Xmas munchies this year and only stayed for the meal before disappearing home to collapse in a heap. Ok, it wasn't that bad for the second one because the first was on a Friday and my Sleepy nickname partly comes from me yawning my head off in games night. I must be conditioned to go zzzz for the weekend, probably because I throw everything into work during the week and recover at the weekend.
I haven't done much so far, this holiday is about relaxing, recovering, seeing friends and family (and maybe another movie showing or two). And perhaps doing a few long outstanding jobs around the house.

Let's see ...

Friday was Star Wars ! I'd thoroughly recommend seeing this one, for the reasons I put in the last post. More ? Ok. It treads over some of the ground in the previous films but does it in a style and with flair that we haven't seen from Star Wars before. That'll be the JJ Abrams touch, he's all about the little touches and when it works, it works really well. He does get lost in his own perceived cleverness though. I enjoyed it and I'd happily see it again in the cinema*.

*(I said this for The Martian too, this film is better, partly because some of the good bits of the Martian as a book were oversimplified/cut from the movie).

Friday was also wandering around Bristol centre too. I need a couple of things :

Christmas cards ! Yep. Left it last minute. Bad me.
New shoes - because my work shoes are almost destroyed. I depend on cushioning in the soles to keep my legs happy and one of the cushioning cells has been breached by wear. I didn't get the chance to get these before breaking up from work (because the exile from the car park combined with traffic means no sneaking off to the Mall shoe shop after work).

Oh and last minute German Xmas Market shopping before it goes. They have :

Happy Cookie Place !
And I've run out of oversize cookies.
Bratwurst - although I suspect I got bit back by one of these from Friday.
Cake and donut place.
And much more. Worth a visit if you're in Bristol in time.

Yeah, I don't get affected by non-sneezy ills much but got affected over the weekend. Nothing serious, just needing to be near a loo. You can fill the gaps ;-). No long term effects and I think it supported me having a pizza without too much cheese induced after effects. Yep, not too ill that I couldn't wander over to the pizza shop on Saturday.

The pizza visit was in the break of one of those Yogscast livestreams again. I dunno what's happening with them, they've been changing some of the middle staff. Those who are are seen as a big part but aren't the headline people. It's odd. I don't watch much of their stuff now. Hannah is still very high quality, as is Rythian. Kim's output has dropped off sadly, although the collaborations with Hannah are still gold. Zoey is adorable with companion Fiona. The rest of them ... bit meh. They're not what they used to be. Perhaps changing that middle staff has lost them the creativity and inspiration that made them really good.

That's just my opinion though, they have a massive audience that loves them to bits and it shows in how many donations they get for the charity streams. They should beat the million dollar mark again this year (although I haven't donated like I did last year). Oh, they save me money too. The Saturday game was Civilisation V (an empire building game) but it's so broken that seeing the struggles with it discourages me from getting the new game.

My gaming ? Even though Elite has been updated to include moon landings, I've not been doing any gaming on PC. I have found a new free-ish (I bought a £4 starter package a day after the game got my full attention) iOS game called Astronest which I've been enjoying while watching various gaming videos.

That's a curiosity - I've enjoyed watching/listening to gaming videos far more than I have with the playing of them for quite a while now. I think that's reflective of how much mental energy I have left after working, although that's going the other way now with me thinking about starting up another of those colony building games. I did enjoy Banished* but that's a pretty brutal game, one mis step leads to a death spiral where your community goes backwards very quickly with Much Death. Can be depressing.

*Banished is medieval era agricultural colony building game. Highly recommended if you're into those, look out for it in the incoming Steam Sales. I do enjoy games like that where they develop as you play, I suspect they speak to my builder heart.

Oh - another thing from the weekend ... Smokers !

Both the traditional wrapping of nicotine death (I'm an anti-smoker, can't you tell ?) and the new era of the e-cigarette seem to be on the rise again. On Friday, I had to move from my Bratwurst Eating Spot because a pair of muppet kids sat down next to me, puffing on the ciggies. Not near people eating thank you. And on the Saturday livestream, we had one of them puffing away making his own fog of war with his e-cigarette.

It's a really nasty habit, I'm sad that the other people doing the livestream in the room with him tolerated it and allowed it to continue. But then again, I suspect the fella with the e-cig is so addicted that he can't function without it. That's a really sad situation to be in. Nipping out every hour or so for a ciggie outside, I can understand that. It's good to be away from the desk every so often. But I can't understand being that heavily addicted to it.

Enough about me preaching about smokers - I'm really happy actually that two close friends have been able to kick the habit - chemical addictions are really hard to break, especially if they're a crutch to help them through the bad stuff they've been experiencing in their lives.

Yep. Addictions are tough. I have my caffeine addiction, where I get headaches if I'm away from coffee for too long.

Closing ? I've been listening to a silly amount of music again. I had the daft idea of zeroing the play counts in the music library again. That was on Saturday and I've listened to 489 unique tracks since then. Only 13,884 tracks to go ... If I listened to all of that, it would take 32.9 days. Straight.

As it is, I think it'll take maybe 11 months, close to a year to listen to it all again. I'm already seeing repeats coming up on the random tracks that iTunes chooses for me. It seems to like Prince.

Anyway - I think I'd better stop the ramble there before I upset more people than smokers :-).

There will be another Alphabet Of The Human Heart post soon, I like that meme. But I've not really recovered enough of ... my mental energy? to do one of those justice. Last week started great but was a struggle to see it through. And then there was the unwelcome extra effect of the Bratwurst (could have been cinema popcorn).

Feeling better now though :-) Time for some local colour - yep. The Wurzels Greatest Hits album just started. Beware ...
Cya !

Friday, December 18, 2015

The Star Wars Post

Actually, it's not going to be That Post.

Or The Other Post.

That Post would be the one where I give all the spoilers away. That's not going to happen. I think anyone who sees this movie will have so much emotional impact from it that they will keep the secrets. It's a hell of a movie.

I thought all of the original 6 movies were good movies. (Note - not excellent). However, they were both celebrated and cursed by the vision of their creator. George Lucas managed to create a great universe with huge varied scope which also lent itself to film and novel, setting up compelling stories. But that dialogue ... And some of the elements which were more about merchandising and other weirdness.

You can easily tell how the first six films will turn people off the franchise. This one is different, probably due to heavy JJ Abrams influence.

He's a weird case. He's done some excellent stuff with Alias and Fringe. He's also done turkeys like Lost (I stopped watching after 1 season). He did an update to Star Trek which I enjoyed and will hopefully reignite that franchise after the misguided Nemesis killed it. But even that Star Trek film divides fans, I loved it, CK hated it and refuses to watch any more of Alt Trek.

But it looks like with this Star Wars that he has made his own story, suitable long after the originals to make the age of the characters make sense.

And that's all I'm saying about the new film. Because this post isn't going to be That Post that gives away all the spoilers.

I'm holding off on The Other Post too, which is where I talk about the Expanded Universe. It slipped out a good while ago that the Expanded Universe for Star Wars was being rejected for the new films. None of it was to be included. And that's a shame because there were some excellent books from Timothy Zahn, Michael Stackpole and Aaron Allston. But I'll save The Other Post for a time when I'm less tired.

Anyway - Force Awakens - go see it if you're interested in space based scifi. It's a triumph from start to finish. There are very few films where I would quite happily see it again straight after the first viewing (Martian was close but not quite) but this is one. Perhaps that's the little boy part of me that saw Return of the Jedi in the cinema when it first came out.

And now for something completely different ...
I have the tireds.

Last day in work for me for a while, I'm off now until the 4th. It'll be a chance to see about getting some repairs done on house stuff. Perhaps a chance to drag my weary bones to the doctors to get some ailments looked at that have nothing to do with my outsides.

It's odd to be thinking about getting my insides (multiple issues) sorted out as the outsides return to normality. There are still repairs to do on my outsides but they're definitely healing. Not long to go hopefully.

But there are other problems that I'm hiding :

Exhaustion - mostly from lack of sleep. Partly because I drive myself to keep going when I should be keeling over. It's why I don't do much gaming in the evenings these days, because I've put all I have into what I do at work.
Hip - I tore stuff up in my groin during my cricket days which never really healed. That's worsened with some of the measures I had to use when I was really bad (sitting on the floor so I wouldn't damage my furniture). Perhaps it needs exercise that I never figured out during the cricket days.
Shoulder - the dislocation and muscle injury left it even looser, which means it can move around and trap blood vessels and nerves, which makes the arm go numb. Not sure if much can be done about that, apart from more exercises to move it back to where it should be.
Legs - it's weird. I can walk indefinitely most of the time but when I'm pounding in from the bus (either route), I get a limp on as my left calf freezes up. Dunno what's causing that.
And the acid - this is why I'm not getting enough sleep at the moment.

The hip and shoulder is an annoyance, the leg is probably because I've killed my work shoes (I'll get some more next week). The exhaustion is a function of the time of year, the 2 weeks off will counter a lot of that. The acid will need me to lose weight again and be wary about what I eat. I had a lovely meal with great company on Monday but definitely paid for having the hot chocolate, plus more machine hot chocolate at work.

Perhaps I should avoid that lovely, smooth hot chocolate ...

And pizza - I need to avoid that too ! Spot the lactose intolerance. Age gets to us in the end but you never really know what you'll react to before the toxicity level rises enough that stuff you could tolerate before starts doing damage.

Enough about me !

Go see film ! It'll be worth it, even if you're an Anti-Star Wars person. (One person reading this will know who I mean !) At least I hope you'll enjoy it :-).
I'm exhausted - but I'll recover.
Time for a break - enjoy your Winter breaks !

That said, this can be a hard time of year for people who don't have anyone to share it with. I hope there aren't many of you in that position. I know a few people will be, if you're reading this and will be on your own on the 25th :
Have a great break ! I hope your preparations have gone well, that you don't have last minute stress (I still need to get cards!) and that you can spend the break doing what you enjoy.

I know a few people won't have that luxury (thoughts for the fella at work who just lost his mum), keep a few thoughts for those less fortunate than we are.

Cya !

PS That film may have unfortunate consequences for me being able to resist Star Wars games when they go on sale at again.

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Meme of Threes

You know me. A tempting looking meme appears and I'm there. Meme soon, ramble first :-).

I'm shattered ! I'm really looking forward to the winter break. I have a fortnight off and I really need it. It's getting tougher to raise the concentration levels. At the moment, the next stage of Elite is loading (slowly) but I won't play it tonight because I don't want to commit that level of mental effort. I have the Kim Birthday stream on instead, listening to that in the background and when I hit Publish, I think I'm going to start reading Maze Runner.

The tired is worth it, it's partly born from getting to spend an evening with a Pretty Lady :-). Here we go :
That's the German Market, captured from the part of Cabot Circus in Bristol overlooking the main market avenue. (As an aside, I'm pleasantly surprised with how that picture has worked out - no flash, unbraced camera).

You won't be surprised to hear that more cookies and some cake escaped with me too.

Yep. Lovely evening with a wonderful little lady who I think quite liked gifts and dinner. I'm tired now though. Currently chilling out to another charming little lady livestreaming for us on her birthday night. Happy birthday Kim ! However, my mind's still in yesterday. And not just due to :
Yep. Cake bigger than hand and I have one waiting to be devoured. (That pic's from last year and my hand is back to pasty white, rather than exczema/psoriasis afflicted blotchiness). I wonder if someone's finished her nuts or cookies yet ...

Hang on ... Meme of threes ?

Meme ! The one on Facebook is a little different because that's a little less accessible. Pictures too maybe ?
Three names I go by
1. Sleepy - from pen and paper gaming (and here!)
2. Ice - from WoW
3. Keela - from Eve online (originally from the pen and paper gaming)

Three places I lived
1. Dromara - my pre-teen years were spent living in Northern Ireland
2. Lincolnshire - land of flat things
3. Bristol - home !

Three places I have worked
1. Ruskington - doing the paper round which built me power legs
2. Civil service - someone has to !
3. Intergalactic delivery service - wait, Elite and Eve don't really feel like a job like Azeroth Hero did.

Three things I love to watch
1. CRICKET ! Couldn't you guess ?
2. Scifi
3. People - I like to see how people do things. Can I steal their ways and do things better ?

Three places I have been
1. Active volcano - not belonging to an Evil Genius. I think.
2. Snowdon - with dwagon !
Adorbale yes ? (Yes I am tired and it's making me get words and letters in wrong order the)
3. The deck of an aircraft carrier.

Three things I love to eat
1. PIZZAAA !!!
Yep. May be part turtle.
2. TEACAKE !!!!! Morning essential. And not just because it gives me change for the bus the next day.
3. COOKIESS !!!!!!!!!! Happy Cookie Place rocks.
Not sure if I'm getting that cookie back. Looks like he has a firm grip.

Three people I think will respond
1. Sister
2. CK
3. Various Pixies ?

Three things I am looking forward to
1. Opening presents !!!!
2. Holiday coma
3. Telling lovely person how much I like her presents !!!!!

Tired now. Back with another of the A to Z meme posts later in the week.

Saturday, December 12, 2015

Cruising the library again

I've managed to listen to everything* in the library again !
Time for a reset soon so I can listen to it all again. Ok, maybe not just yet, I'll give it a little longer. Resetting the play counts is a big step because it will take literally 6 months to listen to it all again. The "Recently Played" is back to 100 days listened to and that's 7000 of the 14000 (ishes x2) in the library.

*(There's a soundtrack waiting for me for a free game plus I'm umming and arring over getting some more in their sale).

This post has really been triggered by hearing In Your Eyes by Peter Gabriel playing over and under an episode of The Flash that I watched earlier. It's from his excellent album Sledgehammer and I'm actually listening to his first album right now.

Oh and listening to The Cardigans For What It's Worth via the Youtubes. Wonderful song. Yep. I'm in a bit of a Cardigans listening frenzy courtesy of hearing Algebra (A Camp, also starring Nina Persson's voice) over the semi-random iTunes pick. It's now You're The Storm, a very anthemic track. I'll go back to listening/watching other videos soon.

Or even My Favourite Game (can you tell that I like listening to The Cardigans ?). I had a good cathartic session in Elite earlier. Going to lots of different places, doing missions for the Imperials. They have a new ship coming called the Imperial Cutter and it's next on my target list of ships.
They won't let me buy that yet (it's not even in the game yet ! waiting a patch) because I need a few promotions from those Imperials. It's giving me something to be interested about in the game.

I have the Red Planet soundtrack coming up. That was a fairly reasonable space scifi film from quite a few years ago. The plot went a bit daft and it didn't get the reception it may have deserved. It got quite difficult to get a copy (I got one !) and I want to watch it again. Over the Xmas break definitely.

The album after that is Ray Of Light which is one of Madonna's best. It has wonderful songs like Frozen and is one of those albums that just unfolds as you listen to its story, starting with Drowned World/Substitute For Love and finishing with the slow Mer Girl. I'll look forward to listening to this album again (probably tomorrow), it really shows off that incredible voice.

I got reminded of how good Enya is the other day as her turn came back round again with the Watermark album popping up. This has the quick paced Orinoco Flow, which got her the attention of an adoring public. But it also has the slow songs of Evening Falls which really show off that voice. I need some more of her albums, I only have Watermark and Shepherd Moons.

I just added a bit of Jimi Hendrix to the collection with his Fire: The Jimi Hendrix Experience. Interesting, he definitely earns that reputation on the electric guitar. Check out Voodoo Child.

I'm definitely looking forward to watching the Star Wars movie, hopefully on Friday. I want to see what they've done with the place and of course, there is always the brilliant John Williams theme soundtrack. I suspect there will be a new theme for this one like Duel of the Fates, Imperial March added to the classic theme.

However, I'm more looking forward to saying hello to someone again on Monday :-). She doesn't like Star Wars so I won't inflict that on her. This lovely lady reminded me of the brilliance of the voices of the Cranberries (opinions may vary !). Definitely great voices when applied to Linger.

She also makes me think of Morcheeba and their vocalist. It's been a while since I've seen The Sea.

Oh my - one of my favourite singers just started playing. The track is Gypsy Dance by All About Eve, from their first album. Their Scarlet And Other Stories album will be coming up on my playlist soon, incredible album. Dress her in Scarlet ? (odd that Scarlet is not available over youtube !)

I better leg it ... It's almost Christmas ! Which means a bombardment of Christmas music ... It isn't all bad or supercheesy. There's the Coventry Carol, A Winter's Tale and let her go home before the search parties start Baby It's Cold Outside.

Not that cold out at the moment though. Don't think we're getting a White Christmas this year ;-). It was the first of the Xmas Munchies yesterday. A good Munchie was had by all. I disappeared earlier because I was utterly shattered. I'm doing better today. A restful night followed by chilling out in game has seen some energy return. Only one week to go now until a fortnight away and then who knows ? Could be working somewhere else ;-).

Wednesday, December 09, 2015

Alphabet of the Human Heart - G and H

This one's overdue !

I told someone that I was going to do the next one of these at the weekend but then had a thought trigger to do (and this is where tiredness shows cos I just had to look up what I wrote) a post about the Bath Market and then Terminator triggered a Movies of the Year post. Yesterday evening was spent watching a group of ladies who were very hopped up on stuff that made one of them superhyperactive as they played horror games. Wasn't taking my eyes off that, although I was thinking of someone else while watching them.

(Besides - last night saw a weak Sleepy head over to the pizza shop to indulge a craving ... and then suffer one of the worst acid events I've had in years which robbed me of all but maybe an hour of sleep. I wasn't ill but I thought I was going to be. Mostly better now, apart from lacking zzzzz's.)

Before doing G and H, someone I know needs :
Hope you're ok.

It won't surprise you that G is for Greed. Too much of the good thing is a bad thing (Ha ! Me with pizza !). Spiritually, the material world is immaterial (that was out of the book : very deep). Values define us, not valuables.

Sometimes the things that make us happy, don't. I find a lot of material things to be very shallow. They are shiny for an instant, then you forget them. But I have a few pictures which are guaranteed to make me burst into a Big Grin when I see them (No - not the one of the Happy Cookie Place). When I see people smiling due to something that I have done, that makes me the happiest I can be.

I have a greed to see the hit counter go up. But seeing the groups of hits that have been coming in over the last few days (maybe 5x normal traffic) just means a bigger number. I am far happier when I see the reasonably distinctive hits that show that close friends have taken a peek at what I'm up to.

Random cluster hits - just means a bigger number.
Peeks from friends - means they care enough to see what I wrote.
That caring is what makes me very happy and it's a big reason why this blog is in its 11th year.

The things we should value most have no pricetag. A smile is priceless.

G is also for Gratitude.

And it is so often expressed with smiles. Smiles are awesome. It is saying thank you for life, when you give thanks, thanks gives back.

I like to show gratitude, although sometimes it is hidden beneath awkward shyness. I suspect it is why I am recognised at the various places I go to for food. Always be thankful to those who bring you food. You get better food. Although (looks at tummy), I perhaps need to be eating less food.

Gratitude also gets returned later on. I get decent cooperation from a good number of people at work, because they know I will appreciate what they do. By giving thanks to those who help me out, it means I may be able to lean on their help again later. It also assists there if the help is not a one way street, helping others means they are less likely to look away when you need help.

And we all need help from time to time. Even those who don't like to show it.

Gratitude grows wherever it is planted.

H is for Hate, which is a word I really don't like.

Hate has no good ends. It plants a seed that grows and sickens the soul. A hateful person is a shrivelled echo of what they once were.

Don't give into hate. Rise above it. Don't let it control you. Don't let it become a part of you. It is the root of so many other negative emotions.

Stay positive. Be a good person, not one led by hate. (Obligatory Star Wars quote considering what's coming : Don't give in to the Dark Side, once you stray down that path, forever will it consume you)

When Ravenwolf walked out, I could have allowed the anger to turn to hate. I looked back, looked forward and chose not to. A similar choice happened when I heard she had moved in with one of the cricket mob, a fella who I used to give lifts home to. When we ended up in the same team a few years later, I suppressed any hate and treated him like a proper team mate. And I think that really freaked him out. That led to far more amusement for me than anything hate could have led me to feel.

H is also for Hope.

The knowledge that all things pass. The promise that things will get better.

I was in a really wretched condition a few years ago and I am still not fully repaired yet. I am my own worst enemy there because I keep redamaging the bad bits. However, hope reigns through the observation that the bad bits are steadily receding as my outsides normalise.

I have a small number of amazing friends and I hope that I will continue to be a part of their lives into the future.

Before this last year, the hope that I would find a lovely person who was interested, interesting and would find me interesting too was fading. All attempts at contacting people like that faded into silence. I suspect regular readers will know that has improved immeasurably and there is one in particular who gives me a guaranteed Massive Smile when a text comes in.

Someone asked my motivation for writing these posts. It's like a love letter to those who (for some inexplicable reason) find me interesting. They let me borrow their attention and in return, I try to make them smile or chuckle through what I write or it at least gives them promise of more prose to catch their interest.

I hope tonight's post succeeds in that !

But above all, believe in that hope. Things get better. Sometimes you need a friend to help you see that. What is broken today can be fixed tomorrow. Nothing stays bad forever.

Hope you have a good end of year. I'm definitely ready for it. After last night's bad acid attack, I felt my batteries die mid afternoon today. But I'm hopeful that my body will repair some more and regenerate some energy over the winter break.

Before I go :

Monday, December 07, 2015

Movies of the year

Currently watching Terminator Genesys (cheers CK!).

It's a cracker of a movie and a fitting continuation to the series. The one (ok, two) major question I have about the plot is : Where is the T-X ? That was a good character/machine in Terminator 3 and it would have been better if the presence of it was explained. Perhaps in the next Terminator movie. (You know there will be one).

The other problem is how the distributors addressed publicising this movie. There was a massive plot spoiler in the second trailer and ... the plot spoiler is in the video reel that plays in the bluray menus.

It kinda gets me thinking - it's getting close to the end of the year and there's been a fair few decent movies out. And a couple to come ! What are the best of them ?

Terminator Genesys is definitely one of the better ones. It has its flaws (like all Terminator movies) but it has lots of spectacular action to dazzle the viewer with. Lots of humour too with all the old jokes and cliches coming out again.

I also enjoyed The Martian hugely. It shows that a story can be extremely well told in multiple media. The movie is excellent, the book is better. Both take advantage of the media they are presented in. Great visuals on screen, plus the inner thoughts and feelings that can only be passed over via the written word. I would thoroughly recommend both reading the movie and watching the book.

Or the other way around. I think that's the way it goes.

Ok, that's movie of the year out the way early !

Also watched Minions, which had good jokes but fell a little flat for me. Wait for freebie watching, it's not in the same league as either Despicable me film.

Spectre had spectacular action. I enjoyed it despite the threadbare plot and very silly backstory. Recommended.

I enjoyed Jurassic World too, although this movie was another which had serious gaps in its plot and some major silliness going on too. But I did enjoy it and at some point, I'll acquire the dvd/bluray.

Spectre and Jurassic World demonstrate that if you're in good company (and I was in excellent company), you can have a highly enjoyable evening. And I do miss the movie nights that the Work-ish mob had. Company makes the movies much better. Unless it's the company I had in the Martian - a bunch of kiddies who should really have been in school at that time. What can I say, my opinion on things tends to change depending on whether I'm in a happy mood or a sad mood and certain people really brighten my day. Or evening.

More films?

Mad Max - thoroughly recommended. It's a wholly valid update of an old classic. It improves on that old classic in pretty much every way.

Inside Out - good psychology, on the whole I thought this one was a bit Meh. A decent movie, as per all Pixar ... but not as good as they can come out with.

The Man From Uncle - GO SEE THIS ! It's another one which takes something old (the super cheesy old series) and makes a genuine improvement. The interplay between the major characters adds humour, charm and a lot of other good stuff. I need this movie.

Maze Runner : Scorch Trials - not bad. A worthy sequel to a good beginning. It's a promising enough series that I happily acquired the first book to check out. Not got to reading it yet.

Avengers Age of Ultron - a disappointment. It had some potential, it had action. But every time the action quietened down, they disrupted the dull moment by pulling more robots out of the scenery for some silly destruction. Need to do better in the next movie.

San Andreas - a silly but still pretty decent disaster romp. Please - if I have a heart attack and The Rock is nearby, DO NOT LET HIM NEAR ME ! Good movie though, must pick it up when it gets cheap.

Hunger Games 4 : Mockingjay 2 - a fitting end to a tired and weak series of books. Spectacular but somehow disappointing.

Insurgent - enjoyed this one, in contrast to Hunger Games, the setting is a little more believable.

That's what I can remember seeing this year (translation - I peeked at IMDB's list of popular films in 2015 and used it as a memory jogger). I'll be watching a couple more by the end of the year.

Star Wars is coming ! SOON ! I was attempting to avoid the hype on this one but after seeing the latest trailer, I'm really curious to see what they've done with the universe. I enjoyed all 6 movies so far, plus there are some cracking scifi books that just happen to be set in the universe. Up until the New Jedi Order series which tore it all down for me and destroyed the scifi romance of the universe.

Yeah - I was a Star Wars fan. The Timothy Zahn novels are excellent and intelligent, the X Wing saga is darn good fun with great fiction by Michael Stackpole and Aaron Allston. I also played the Tie Fighter game to death, although I didn't get on well with XWing or the various strategy games.

Yep. I'll watch the new movie, actually getting hyped about it now. I think I'm watching it on my own though as a Last Friday Before Leave treat. The usual movie buddies don't want to see it and I wouldn't subject Cupid's Gift (she of the Spectre and Jurassic World enjoyment enhancement !) to it.

The other movie I think should be good is the Charlie Brown Peanuts movie. Yep, trailer got my attention. It's out at awkward time though. It may lose out just through people being away.

Any more movies you enjoyed seeing this year ? Gosh that's a lot I've seen this year. Movies are awesome. This one is just kicking into ultra high gear, time to pause it and get more popcorn.

Cya !

Sunday, December 06, 2015

Market Day

I managed to get to Bath Xmas market on Friday !


I'm not convinced about this particular market. It felt a lot like it was a market for local traders that just happens to be on around Xmas. There were a few festive themed outlets in the various chalets but ... that accounted for maybe half of them ?

I have to admit, my opinion might be getting biased by various physical things that were going on (more in a bit). I did enjoy the variation of wandering around Bath for a while. It's a ... nice? (am struggling for words !) city, if somewhat more cramped up than Bristol.

Cities and towns tend to spread themselves out according to their geography. Cities like Lincoln (where I grew up !) are based around a long straight High Street. Leicester has its golden mile, filled with jewelery shops. Nottingham and London are built around their rivers, because the rivers brought in the trade before rail and road took over.

Bath is a bit more cramped, so it's more radial than in that line. Shops are tightly packed, lots of variation in shop actually, when I head to the Mall or Cabot, there are typically only maybe 3 or 4 shops I'm interested in (Waterstones, HMV, not Head because they sell bad* stuff, coffee shops, Thorntons) but there were far more curiosity shops in Bath selling Shinies.

*(ex rental blurays/dvds which have that "not for resale" on them)

Shines are awesome.

Bath is built up a lot more too. 3 and 4 story buildings are common. I'd be curious about living there, it's much posher than Bristol, although that shows in the attitude of the people as well. I did enjoy my lunch at the Guildhall market.

I didn't buy much, apart from a t-shirt which will make one of the teams go potty. Yep, it's another subversive message t-shirt. (I must grab a pic, although I'm not showing that pic until the team have seen it). And I got another bit of a Xmas present for a special person. I need more shinies still for that little lady.

Worth going, although I perhaps sound a bit down about it. 2 reasons :

Having to slow down my walking to fit in with the crowd was ... actually being quite painful. My dodgy right hip didn't appreciate not being able to freely stride out.
An hour and a half to get home ! Crikey. The route out from the Park and Ride was utterly jammed. Will research the route a little more next time as I get the feeling that will be common with that route and I'll go another way.

I think the long drive, combined with dehydration (not drinking enough during the day), led to a headache that had my head fuzzy for the rest of Friday and a little bit of Saturday (hence no finger tapping).

I have been enjoying watching those Yogscast streams, Saturday and today so far at least. Friday evening was spent catching up with some of the already recorded videos and some telly. Basically, anything not taxing for the head. I don't get headaches too often but I feel them when I do, it's the only pain I can't deal with by concentrating it away.

Think I may still be a little fuzzy. Will have more coffee later, that's a good headache cure for me. That's really bad isn't it ... Shows a definite addiction to caffeine !

Anyway, I can hear the dinner binger going off in the kitchen, which means it's time for me to rescue my bit of fish before the house burns down. I always let the binger bing a few times because you know that "In a preheated oven" part of the instructions ? I don't really pay much attention to that, so the oven is heating up for part of the cooking time.

I'm rambling aren't I ...

Bath market :
Lovely city, posh people (good thing and bad thing), enjoyed my massive sandwich in Guildhall Market (big enough that I didn't need dinner);
Worthy finale to Doctor Who this year;
Market was ... ok;
Traffic is nasty;
Bacon and sausage sarnies are awesome;
I didn't get wet in the showers that I believe dodged Bath;
2 more weeks of work to go before a break;
1 more week before I see Cupid's Gift again !

And you know what I'm looking forward to at the moment. Noooo ... not my dinner.

PS Am also looking forward to Star Wars more than I thought I would but I think I'll be seeing it on my own as the work-ish friends don't want to see it and I wouldn't want to subject my other current cinema buddy to it. Maybe Luth ... The newer SW trailer before Hunger Games 4 was amazing. Hunger Games 4 ? A fitting finale but we won't remember those films in 4 years. Spectacular but no Battle Royale.

Wednesday, December 02, 2015

Advent is here

Which can only mean one thing ...
Ok, that too. (Thanks to the Facebook people for spotting that!)

Nah. It's nearly ...
Yep. After Xmas, we see the Mini Eggs back in the shops. Best time of year. He says thinking he should pay another visit to the Happy Cookie Place because the cookie supply has run out. I'll head over to Bath Xmas Market on Friday afternoon hopefully.

I think my brain died. That's kinda what it feels like. Ok, I still posess the power of mostly rational thought but that poor brain does feel a little scorched. It's not too long to the Xmas break now and I'll get a lot of rest and recharge in over that time.

And ...
I hope the dwagons bring you all lots of presents. I just had a belated birthday present. Cheers CK ! Will definitely enjoy the swag. Kung Fu Panda, Mad Max soundtrack and Terminator Genesys. That last is one of the movies of the year and I'll definitely enjoy watching that one again.

On watching stuff ... When my brain feels all melty, I'll chill out by watching videos. I enjoy the gaming but I also enjoy watching other people do the gaming. It's far less mental effort than diving into the game and if you're watching the right people, it's a good laugh and entertainment too. It was definitely entertaining watching a booze fuelled near meltdown last night as one of the people on the livestream was having trouble with trains and signals.
Trains are hard.

That's from Train Valley, which was making me go steadily insane over the weekend after I acquired it in the Steam Sale. I'd thoroughly recommend it as a puzzle game. Although I do suspect that it will mess with your head by changing the points to make trains run into each other instead of going to where they are supposed to go.

I picked up Cosmonautica too and after a few false starts (there's a decent amount in the game and it does a rubbish job of telling you about it but I think it's worth the cheap price) I've been enjoying the travels of my starter ship and its varied crew.

But ... Xmas livestream time. This is a charity drive run by the Yogscast (more info at the link). They're a popular bunch and they should raise a huge amount of cash again this year. I'll be watching off and on, which won't leave that much time for gaming because I watch on my desktop PC, which is where the games are. I don't game on my Macbook, that always seems a bit of a cruelty for laptops.

Some streams I'll avoid, some streams will be watched at a later date, some streams I'll specially tune in for. The Civ V match can lead to hilarity, like the train crash unfolding in slow motion (actually full speed and multiple crashes) last night.

The virtual world can be a better one to keep an eye on than the real one. Especially with what our MPs are debating at the moment. I have views there ... but I'll spare you from them. At least from having to read them here. You see enough of it on the news. From people with their own causes, from people with underhanded reasons for making other people fight their battles, from people who raise their voices and shout and scream when they can't get their way through reasoned debate.

Yep. I was listening to a few shouters on the radio in the car. And they're one reason I'll keep my opinions in Big Earth Shattering Debates to myself, you see enough uninformed muppetry from the common internet person.

I think that's one rule that is continually demonstrated. I actually heard it first in the film Men In Black. A person is smart, people in a group are dumb. (I should look up the quote and get it right !)

But yeah - there's stuff going on in the world that doesn't fit in with a season of giving and receiving. At least no one would want the kind of gifts our politicians are thinking making other people send.

And I'm rambling on about stuff that I really don't like to put here. Probably a sign of how melty my brain seems to be at the moment.

Stay happy ! Give gifts to those you feel are special, relax, enjoy the season. And be grateful for whatever special things come your way this season.
And concentrate on being the happy.

That movie comes out soon, wonder if I can persuade a special person to watch it with me :-).

Monday, November 30, 2015

Alphabet of the Human Heart - E and F

How are people finding these ?

I'm liking them so far. Cheers to Cupid's Gift for buying me the book and giving me the idea :-). I think I write better when I have simple cues to ramble on about, with a limit on to make sure I don't Wall of Text too much.

Today's A to Z starts with E for Ego.

To truly live, live for others. The less it is about you, the more it will come to you. The only thing between you and your happiness is your ego, let it go.

Great thoughts as usual. I have an ego, although it can be buried beneath other feelings. I got used to being the smartest person at school, then when it came to the cricket I was always the fastest player on the field and had a good few games where I effectively won the game on my own as a bowler. I'm valued in certain areas at work too (not talking about work at the moment) where a few groups want to keep me doing what I'm doing. That can lead to an ego developing.

But ...
You only get smart by listening to your teachers. There were a good few who could have been as smart but they fell into the rebel group and sabotaged their own futures. I stopped listening to my teachers after a while (got bored with repetition) and got lower grades at uni than I should have done. Ego interfered.
I was the fastest on the field but speed is no use without skill.
My bowling won a few games but we needed to have the runs on the board from the batsmen to give a target to defend.
Work is ... not something for here at the moment.

Ego can lead to arrogance very easily, which can easily lead to isolation. Letting go of your ego leads you to be a more welcoming, nicer individual. We aren't the best at very much but we can be very good at things without rubbing it in. When I ran a computer help needed forum, I was seen as He Who Knows All. But I would try and welcome in new ideas. I was seen as knowledgeable because I left alone the questions where I didn't know an answer and encouraged the ideas of those who did know useful answers.

E is also for Enthusiam.
Yes optimistic cat, we do like you. Most of the time.

Let your enthusiasm lift you higher. Wherever it takes you, it will be the right place. To get all you can from life, put all you can into it.

I'm struggling for enthusiasm at the moment. I suspect I have a form of Seasonal Affective Disorder, which makes me struggle when the nights draw in early. This time of year, the curtains in the house stay shut to keep the warm in because I don't see daylight outside of working hours.

I have enthusiasm, it just gets suppressed. At the moment, I'm excited for :
Seeing Cupid's Gift again in a fortnight ! Can't come quick enough.
The end of the cricket - Pakistan vs England on a time delay recording.
The Yogscast charity December livestreams, mostly worth a watch*.
*(some of them have massive egos which put me off)
Getting to Bath Xmas market for the first time in years.
Work Xmas munchies, should be decent fun.
Xmas period with lots of sleep.
And more.

F ? F is for Fear.
Yes basement cat. Fear is the mindkiller (and the rest of that quote).

Fear holds you back. Scared of something ? Face it down. You can do it ! Taking that step to face down a fear is really, really tough ! But it's worth it to take that first step towards beating something you fear. How about me ?

I was scared of escalators that went down (moving stairs, not lifts). I think my fear was of tipping forward and having a tumble. I'm still wobbly with them but I don't default to the stairs instead of the down escalator now. Probably a good thing with my fragile legs.

When Nose Job 1 happened, I was relieved that I had chance to bat again before the end of that season. That was so late into the season that we only actually played one more game that year before the darkness and rains set in. It was maybe ... 4 weeks after Nose Job 1 ? I think I played either the same week or the week after Nose Job 2, where the nose was straightened (mostly - there's still a little kink). I'm glad I did, I didn't get many runs but it let me face down that fear of being hit by the ball before it had chance to fester over the winter.

Face your fears. Analyse them. Ask - "why does this scare me ?" and the answer may be something you find silly enough to banish that fear.

F is for Fun. Nope. It's actually for Friendship as well, where would we be without friends to have fun with.

It's cheaper than therapy and often goes deeper. Our friends know our history like no therapist could. They detect our pain. They make us laugh.

Look out for your friends and they'll look out for you. If life is a game, your friends are your team. Choose them carefully, cherish those who feed your strengths. And in return, be encouraged when you can encourage them.

A friend will always be there to say "I understand, I'm here for you, how can I help?"

We have to let them do that. And sometimes, pick up on the cues where the friend needs help but doesn't know how to ask. Friends are amazing.

I have a few good friends and a few special ones. I cherish them all and am over the moon when they let me help them. Or even when they share things with me that they needed to talk about. Sharing means trust and that's the root of the best friendships.

And that goes for everyone reading this far too ! I share a decent amount here and you're all welcome. There are filters ... but I try and be as open as discretion allows me to be.

Stay friendly :-).

PS Oops - forgot link to book - sorted! This is a link to the book.

Thursday, November 26, 2015

Buy Nothing Friday

I saw this post today, thought it was pretty cool.

It's about Buy Nothing Friday, an answer to the rampant consumerism that's overtaking our modern world. And a picture :
(credit to the person who made the site linked above)

We've had Boxing Day and January Sales for as long as I can remember. (Which is mixed cos of age and occasional cricket ball induced amnesia). They've usually been fairly ok, as people have been more concerned about the Xmas festivities than heading out to do shopping. Although saying that, it's still been mayhem. I think the Boxing Day and January Sales fever is moderated somewhat by it occurring over a decent period of time, from Xmas to when people go back to work a week or so later.

Black Friday is another thing entirely. It's concentrated over a single weekend with the peak happening on the Friday. So all that WE MUST BUY BARGAINS mayhem is crammed into one day. I don't think that can be a good experience for anyone. Not the shoppers who end up in fights over items, not the retailers who hopefully won't be trampled in the rush.

It is an example of modern day insanity.

I've been seeing the sales pop up online too. I'll be acquiring a couple of games on Steam pretty soon, they aren't as discounted as I'd like but with games of around £5-£10, a little is still a decent amount. And you have to consider that with small game studios, if they get less cash, then that's less cash to plough into making their next game.

Same with people like pop artists and other content creators. If you give them no consideration for their product, i.e. if you pirate the songs or use adblockers on the youtubes, that means they can't pay the rent, buy food and they have to get a proper job doing something that isn't making something you enjoy. Yep. I look at people like Alisha's Attic, where we only got 3 studio albums + 1 ebay album out of them before they quit the business. Perhaps if less piracy went on, they'd have stuck in the business and made more amazing songs.

Back to Buy Nothing Friday ...

I will buy a couple of things ... I'll be working for the first half of the day which means ... TEACAKE ! Yep. Can't do without that. And then there's lunch too. I did consider heading to Bath for their Xmas market but ... There's still a couple of weeks of that and there happens to be an England cricket game on tomorrow late afternoon. So I'll avoid the Black Friday mayhem and chill out to the cricket.

Back to the picture ...

Be content - I have lots of stuff already, I don't really need any more. And if England play like they did today (close game, good win), then I'll be very content.
Massive savings - haha, cos I've done my sales buying today. Unless come up with some tempting offers.
Cup of tea on the sofa - maybe, although mine will be a coffee and I may well take a (120?) minute for myself and watch a movie from the sofa after the cricket finishes.
Hugs, Fun - they both go together kinda :-). A hug would be good but I'll look forward to when someone's in hugging range.
Yep. Beware.

Staying warm ? It's got a bit warmer since the threat of snow last weekend. Yep, I'll be warm tomorrow :-).
Phoning your gran - sadly I have no more living grandparents but I do still remember my granddad trying to bowl to me way back when. (It hurt him because he had the beginnings of prostate cancer). And we lost my nan almost two years ago. We had a little family tension (who doesn't?) but I do still remember that face coming alive with mischief and chuckles. That's the memory I'm keeping.

And I'll chill out some more by reading more of The Martian. I need more ebooks. I still have my paper books but left them on the shelves for ages because I was afraid that the damage on my arms would damage the books. My arms are much better now (not fixed but getting there), so I can go back to those paper books again. I do like ebooks though. They just need an occasional tap on the screen, rather than the wrist tension of holding the page open. Yep, the RSI in my wrist can be that limiting sometimes ...

Taking a walk in fresh air with a friend ?
Sure ! Anyone ?

Have a good Friday people (oh wait, that's not this time of year, oops). Have a pleasant, chilled out Friday !

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

A to Z of the Human Heart - C and D

Yey ! More meme. I like memes. Can you tell ?

C is for Criticism. Both within and without. The faults you point out in others are often faults you know are in yourself. The way you look at the world is the way the world looks at you. Criticism is a form of self harm, go easy.

Wise words indeed. I take criticism very much to heart. I depend heavily on the opinions of others, which is one reason I seek out the opinions of others. Good opinions will make me smile and go harder, negative opinions can be crushing.

If you criticise someone, you never know how they will receive it. Will they see it as constructive guidance in how to do things better ? Will it kick away the foundations of their confidence. Be wary of how other people receive the treatment you give them. Keep them on your side, instead of driving them into corners where they feel caged.

Going back to the cricket, I was a very noisy player on the field. I think that's one reason the captains liked to have me in the team. But I always directed that noise into positive encouragement for the team. Lots of claps, lots of GO TEAM (and similar). Shouting "Next time !!!" if a close run out was missed. Joining in with lbw HOWZIEEEEEEEEEEE !!!! appeals. Never sledging*. Bascially trying to jee all of the team up, the biggest danger for a fielding team is when things go quiet because players then go to sleep and miss the chances.

*There was one incident and it happens to be on my Twitter pic - a colleague in my section at work was playing for the other team and he was just coming in to bat. He and I had been involved in several run out incidents that season so I had to. Definitely had to. Yep, I piped up with a "This fella won't last long until we run him out". MUAHAHA. Think that's the only sledging I've been involved with and he took it in good heart. You never can tell with players, sometimes sledging will fire them up and you come off worse.
Cricket is always a great teacher.

C is also for Compassion.

To live with love. Caring for the sick ... and the healthy. It is giving and being gracious when receiving.

I think I have this (although it may not show while I'm driving). I'll have to go to others to see what they think. I don't give everything to everyone else, you spread yourself too thin by doing that. But I do like to spread the smile around, even if I do save the very special smiles for a select very few.
D is for the D word - Depression.

So many of us have this. So many of my friends. I suffer from it and am very prone to downwards dips that get hidden behind my emotional armour. When they hit, I am less effective in everything. I look at the messiness of my house and it depresses me to the point where I do nothing about it. That's a typical self reinforcing depression factor that we suffer from. I should get off my butt and sort out one little area at a time, I know that would make me feel better but that depression paralysis intervenes.

Mine is also triggered by Criticism. And by being ignored. It was a harsh wilderness I found myself in when I was reaching out to quite a few ladies over the decade I've lived on my own, only to find promising signs turned to total lack of contact. That's in the past though. There's a few ladies who seem to appreciate me sending them daft messages and one in particular who brings out a MASSIVE SMILE when a text comes in.

I depend on others to help me with my depressive tendencies. Whether it's just a smile, or a message. Hugs are awesome. Depressive tendencies are tough. But much tougher if they stop you reaching out.

And I just looked in the book to see what it says ! It echoes the Talk advice. Whether that's friends, a doctor or a therapist. The bad stuff will only get worse if it's allowed to fester in your head. You need to talk it out to someone, if only so you can analyse it enough to frame it into rational thoughts. And then have a "You're not alone" hug.

D is also for Daring.

It is stepping knowingly into the unknown. Being first to try something. It gets things done.

Someone with a lot of daring found out how to get milk from cows. Or they were just someone very strange who had an accident that turned out happy for the rest of us.

Ok, maybe not the best example.

But you know what I mean. A little bit of daring saw me step into playing the cricket and I enjoyed every minute of doing that. Even the injuries. Ok, maybe not the times when it was so cold my muscles started to freeze ? It takes a bit of daring when I reply to posts on Twitter (fear of being ignored again) or when I was initiating contact with people on the dating website.

But that little bit of daring got me in touch (eventually!) with a wonderful little lovely lady who really brightens my days up when a message comes in. (I've deactivated the account on that site now ;-) ).
(post ed, slight correction - I've unsubbed from the paid part of the site but the account is still active. Haven't looked at it for ages though)

Try stuff. Dare yourself to do things. I'm glad I did the Shaun Hunt in the summer, it proved that these aging muscles and bones can still do things like that. I needed that for my fragile self confidence. Similar with meetings, positive feedback reminds me that I might actually know what I'm talking about and have good ideas. It helps offset the lack of appreciation from other areas. And it took a little bit of daring to gather the self confidence to pipe up in those meetings.

That's it for today I think ! E and F at some point in the near future.

I thought about maybe doing last year's Christmas Photo Meme again, I really enjoyed doing that last year but ... I think I'd pick out most of the same pictures again. I need a new meme !

After this one. Cya !

PS I'm going to keep linking the book in these posts. I'd thoroughly recommend picking it up for feel good feels.

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Sales Time Cometh ...

Sales times are weird.

Case 1 - They override our good sense and make us buy stuff we don't really need. But we buy it cos its cheap.
Case 2 - Those things we thought were over priced become incredibly tempting and the discounts overcome our resistance.

In the last years of Winter sales, I'd been eyeing up the tellies. I still want to upgrade the telly from the 32" LCD telly I have. I'd kinda like a bigger one with more dots. MORE DOTS ! (Sorry, something triggered a Warcraft moment). But I have better things to spend the money on. Like a £150 graphics card !


Think of the essentials first.
Keep an eye open for getting stuff you need at discounts.
Peek for shinies that your friends might want.
MARKET FOOD ! Yep. I am a sucker for a good bit of sausage.
(Of the SausageInnaBun kind - I dunno what you were thinking - haha)
And a general mooch around at what's on offer.

I rarely buy stuff when I go round the shops or around market places. But I do enjoy getting out and about, for a while at least until the throng of people gets the better of me and I need to escape to somewhere quieter.

Cue the online sales ... And places like Amazon ...
I need more books.

I need more music because before acquiring a Jimi Hendrix album yesterday, I've listened to all of my music library. Definitely need more music.

Need more games too. Ok, maybe I don't need more games but I do want to expand the collection. Partly because games have soundtracks to listen to (especially on who have started their Black Friday sales early). Steam have a sale starting tomorrow and I suspect I'll spend a little money on it. I've saved not-spent a little tonight by checking reviews for Horny Rat (aka Warhammer - Shadow of the Horned Rat). Check reviews, it lets you avoid frustration and Horny Rat (quicker name than the full version) is supposedly very unstable and crashes too much. Bad show.

That's another sales lesson - don't jump in just because it's cheap. Do the research as well to make sure you understand what you're buying. Don't buy rubbish. That seems like a really obvious thing to say but ... so many people (cough-buy-Bieber-cough) get stuff they never use (like me with games!) or buy stuff that is substandard compared to what they could have got for similar money.

Sometimes sales are just a means of getting customers in the door to clear out the stockroom of stuff no one in a sensible frame of mind will buy.

But books ? Books are always quality. Keep your eye open for good books. I'm reading the Martian again and remembering how amazing that book is. I thought the film was pretty good, the book is far superior. All of the stuff that was dumbed down or cut for length in the film, is in the book. The science makes more sense and is explained far better than you can do on film.

That pic ?

22% would rather be reading - yeah, I'll read stories or watch other people play through games - cos I like the story.
4% spend rent money on books. Ok, not done this (since uni!) but I know people who definitely do. Yep CK. Lookin' at you.
8% No such thing as too many books. Looks at bookshelf stacked 2 deep with books. NEED MORE BOOKS.
25% Books are better than people. Depends on the people. I know a few with wonderful smiles, great hugggers, sparkling conversation and I know a very few who combine all 3 of those. Yeah, it's heresy but some people are better than books. Especially if you can talk about books with them.
10% arrange bookshelves by emotion. Erm. My bookshelves are a bit too chaotic for that ... They've just ... been added to as new books arrive.
8% mourning fictional characters. Poor Wash. He will be missed. And ... too ! Death by electric spark. That wasn't in the movie.
11% literary references no one gets. Roll pods, cross that T and give 'em a broadside. Roll sides against the answering barrage.
(Let me know in the comments if you get that reference)
3% forgot to eat or sleep. Forgetting to eat would be good for me because I need to lose the weight again. The Martian is such a readable book that I would quite happily start now (after hitting publish!) and read until I had to leave for work tomorrow.
9% waiting for Hogwarts letter.

Ok, maybe not Hogwarts but it would be wonderful to be beamed up, whisked away and put to good use making Space Engines Go Faster. I would be over the moon if that happened. Need to write that story ! I have another couple of ideas for episodes within that space scifi tale. How does galactic commerce fit into an interstellar society with no faster than light comms, how do banks work. And how do you rob them ...

Haha. Crime can make for the better stories.

Time to get back to the stories actually. I suspect I'll indulge in the Steam sales (Cosmonautica is the favourite and has allayed my fears for it, having been updated yesterday) although I've talked myself out of the sale.

If you indulge in Black Friday or other Winter sales, may it be money well spent and I hope you don't get trampled in the rush. That's from the retailer side and the customer side. People's behaviour in sales times can be ... pretty below average. Don't be one of the morons !

Cya there :-).

Sunday, November 22, 2015

Alphabet of the Human Heart - As and Bs

I mentioned that someone special had bought me a book that's going to spark off a meme ...

The book is the Alphabet of the Human Heart by Matthew Johnstone and James Kerr and each page is a letter. One side of the book is positives, the other side is negatives. But the negatives side isn't so much about describing the emotions that burn us, more how we can redirect them to better ends.

Here goes for the first few letters ! Some of this is from the book, most of it is me ! All me.

A is for Anger. What makes us angry ? Fears, griefs, insecurities ? We have to understand our anger, absorb it, overcome it. Harness it but in doing so, direct it in positive directions. "Control the emotions and everything will be cool."

Most of the time, I'm a fairly placid character but there is that inner fire that has potential to lash out and burn. When I dropped a catch in the cricket, I would get very angry at myself and damage my weak shoulder by throwing the ball back too hard. When a team mate fluffed something easy, I'd bite down on the nasty comment and give encouragement instead. There's often a snarky comment being directed at other drivers on the road as they do something silly. When people at work are less professional than they should be, there is a cold fire burning. When I see prejudice, towards me or towards others, that's really bad for my sense of calm.

But we need to direct those reactions to positive ends. Although that does often mean at work that people don't realise that I walked away so as to not explode. With the cricket, the anger and passion would drive me to play harder but always fairly. I'd bowl meaner, run faster, throw harder (not good for me!) but I would not cross that line into unfair play. If the batsman annoyed me, I'd try and run him out or bowl him out. I wouldn't (intentionally*!) bowl or throw at their heads.

*The flaw in my shoulder made me lose all control of bowling length and meant that balls could come out directed at people's heads - so I stopped bowling because combine that with swinging deliveries that follow the batsman as they try and take avoiding action - potentially lethal.

Direct your anger but do that in positive ways. Don't let it turn hurtful to others, your conscience will make you regret that later.

A is for Adventure. It is the opposite of television.

I love the German Market coming back every year. It's new. It's different. My favoured activity in Elite is to go trading in new places. In Warcraft, it would be to travel through the zones seeing what's new. With people, people are unpredictable and it's fun being on that adventure with them. I like seeing things that are new. I'll hopefully get to the Bath Xmas market when it opens at the end of this week, I've missed that for the last few years.

Adventure is fun. Don't miss out on it. Embrace the unpredictable.

B is for Boredom. Oh what an appropriate one to follow Adventure ...

The cure is curiosity. Do something different, learn new things, see new sights. Ask a kiddie what to do, they have an uncluttered, unspoiled, unprejudiced mindset which can be absolutely gold. Tune in to life. Turn off the tv.

I have to admit, an episode of The Flash is on the telly while I tap this post out. But I see that as one sign that I tune into life and away from boredom. The story of The Flash tv series still interests me, although it's not as good as the new Supergirl. However, contrast that to The Walking Dead, which I stopped watching cos ... boredom. It's not as good as when it started out. But that's telly. There are more stories out there.

Some of the time, I'm putting my mind through familiar patterns that some would see as boring. It's the repetitive task or game that is the opposite of adventure or new. But it is a certain kind of cathartic activity that lets my brain relax while simultaneously racing. My brain seems to like doing that. I like seeing new things but I also need to switch off.

One thing about cricket, why I find it compelling, every game is different. England have done pretty well in the one day games but you'd never have called a 3-1 series win for them in this series when it started. Jos Buttler, our wicket keeper, was in such bad form that the fastest ever 100 by an Englishman was totally unexpected.

There's a few things I want to see fairly soon, although I'd like to see them with someone :
Bath Xmas market while it's on.
SS Great Britain.
Bristol Planetarium.
Snow ! Infinite patterns and infinite possibility of snowmen.
And people who surprise me with smiles.

Because smiles are awesome. Even if I never really believe that it's me that made them smile.

B is also for Balance, which gets us full circle to Anger.

Where there is anger, the answer should be calm. Yin, Yang. Acid and sherbets (hey ! It's been working for me, the sherbet lemons have been counteracting the excess acid I make). Balance is the tension between opposites, day and night, warm and cold, ice and fire, conversation and silence, sociability and solitude, love for another and love for yourself. We always strive for balance, weigh up the options that will let you achieve that.

When I feel anger, I ask : How will others see me like this ? This moderates my reactions when I drive. The need to not show that Horned Demon side helps me hide it within and suppress it.

Day brings sun, night brings sleep. And stars. Stars are pretty. One thing I've never done is to go out in the country somewhere on a cloudless night and see the stars open up before me. Never had the excuse.

Warm and cold, ice and fire. I like being warm but I don't react well when it gets too hot. Cold brings snow. The fire inside turns to ice as I redirect it.

Conversation is great but silence can also be that intimacy of enjoying another's company without needing to say anything. To have a comfortable silence. To not know what the other will say but to be in tune with it. To not rush it by being sociable when the other wants to talk and giving them the space of solitude when they want a quiet moment.

And most important, giving a little love for the other and not making it all about yourself. I fall down a bit there as I think I turn the conversation round to me a little too much when I talk to other people. How do others see that ? It's something I'm aware of that I do, perhaps I'm seeing something that isn't there.

I do like to keep an eye on the close friends though to see if they're ok. I keep an eye open for pictures that I think will make people smile. I see things that remind me of others and think "Will they like that?" Yep. I think of other people a lot, possibly more than I do myself although my attention has been drawn to me rather too much as I get healthy again.

That's an odd thought - I may be properly healthy again soon, with the problems with my outsides steadily receding. There's still damage to repair but ... it's getting there. Just have problems on my insides now !

Haha - I'll leave it there. Back for more A to Z sometime soon :-).