Saturday, May 30, 2015

Continuing Adventures of Cmdr Sleepy - Humble beginnings

You know I like the games ...

I probably don't play them as much as people think. Often, I've expended so much mental energy at work, that when I get home I don't want to burn any more mental energy on the games. Or I'll fall back into the games where I've already well and truly learned the template for playing it and succeeding at it.

There is an exception - when those messages come in, my brain will go "YEY!" as it tries to think of something that'll make the other person chuckle.

I've been writing more here too. Appreciation leads to more scribbles !

Now if I only had a magic hat with "Bonza Post Ideas" hidden in all this clutter.

About that gaming ... I mentioned I wasn't enjoying Elite as much as I had been in the earlier days of me playing it. There's that psychological gratification that comes with upgrading the ship or even going up to the next ship. Milestones if you will. And that psychological reward response that comes from that little win of reaching that next rung.

And I'd hit a point where the next rung was pretty high up and I wasn't wanting to go into the game to work my way up to it. That's the indicative word ... "work". If a game feels like work and not play, it's time to find something else that's more enjoyable for leisure/fun times.

Some may say - why not get out more and see things with people ? Hell yeah ! If it rains in the cricket tomorrow, I'll go see Mad Max. (It can wait a bit). We'll see San Andreas sometime this week with the movie mob. I'll hopefully persuade someone special that she really wants to see Jurassic Park 4 with me. I don't see her often enough and I miss that bubbly chuckle. Or another amazing person who I've only come to know recently might like to accompany one to the IST20 day at Lords :-).

Yep. Options. It's not all about staying indoors.

However - game time ? I've done what I've called a soft reset. I bought enough upgrades for the Python in order to soak up the available capital. Then I bought the starter ship and was left with maybe 50k. Enough to start with, bit more than you do start with but ... hey ... To give you a sense of scale, the starter Sidewinder costs 32k and can carry 10 tonnes the way I have it set up. The Python would cost 56m to buy now and set up costs add quite a bit to that. It's like buying a car only to realise you need to buy the seats extra.

What's a Sidewinder ?
There we go. Something small, paper thin and like a little box. There's about enough room in there for the pilot and an engine ... But to give it credit, it's super manoeuvrable. The Segway of the Elite world ? (if the pilot is carrying the cargo in a backpack perhaps)

While the cricket's been on in the background, I've been going from place to place carrying cargo for the best trades. And running from the one fight I ended up in. It's not worth putting guns on this tiny ship, you wouldn't get to fire them much if you did use them.

From a start of maybe 60k, I'm now up to a ship worth 90k (upgrades!) and have 90k in the bank. And I had fun flying the little thing around too. It's a bit more hands on because you don't have the space to put a docking computer in. That would take 2t of the 10t space and make it that much slower to get the money in.

Yep. Had fun.

Something else I intend to do is have a decent run through a couple of old games, Baldur's Gate and Baldur's Gate 2. These are old style role playing games where your character is caught up in a much more epic story. My guy is a Kensai fighter (isn't allowed armour, waves a Big Sword) and I've lucky with some awesome stats. The game isn't nearly as much fun as playing the Dungeons and Dragons game it's based on with other people but ... there's still chuckles to be had.

There's that theme again - would rather play with others than be on my own. Although ... would you think this is true ?
Yep. There's dragons in that there Baldur's Gate game ...

Hmm. Random thought - why these games and not others like League of Legends, Warcraft or Counterstrike ? I liked the levelling aspect in Warcraft and the interplay with Guildlink and Violence Reborn. Not so much the repetition. There would be an aspect of improving the character but to all intents and purposes, all 3 games are just plain repetition. That doesn't interest me. The story is what interests me.

So with Baldur's Gate, there is the legendary developer Bioware'a ability to spin an excellent tale. With Elite, it's that progression from humble beginnings to the bigger, more capable ships.

Back to heading out - I think that's one excellent sign. There's still damage on my arms and legs that's proving difficult to heal but ... it's steadily getting better, when I allow it. The damage is still incredibly easy to inflict and takes a while to repair. But it's getting there.

And it's at that point where I may be able to show those arms off in public without being suspected of being the harbinger of the next Zombie invasion. The legs need a little more time.
I think there's a few people out there that think of me like that.

I have my flaws, inside and out. But to know that a few people are able to look past those flaws and like Me. That's golden.

I'd like to pass that message on to you all. Don't try to change yourself because of an impression that someone would like you to be different. If they are attracted to you, they were drawn to how you were instead of how you think you should be. And I know a few people who I whole heartedly believe are amazing. They're all different, which makes them more interesting than anything.

And I'm rambling ... One last pic !
I may be heading back into those clouds soon. I have that next ship in my sights.

Chase your goals ! Even if they are internet spaceships. Although real life stuff is always better than internet spaceships.

Friday, May 29, 2015

What do they say about plans ?

I had a couple of potential plans today.

I'm building up quite a respectable reserve of flexi credit, plus I try and avoid working Friday pm's if I can help it. I do 37 hours over the week, so longer days in the week, short day Friday but if there's stuff to be done, I'll make sure it's done right.

These guys make plans too :
Watch out for the black cat.
Plans today ?

Leg it early (translation - lunchtime) and watch Mad Max ... or watch the cricket. I thought it might be the film because whites and red balls were spawning rain clouds again.

And the insanity of Mad Max would have been perfect considering I'd been talking assumptions and risk all morning (and most of the afternoon). Mad Max will wait and the cricket actually happened. If you have a choice between live entertainment (yep. I'm weird. I count cricket as entertainment.) and recorded stuff, then you should really choose the live stuff.

So that's today. I'll have the cricket on for the rest of the weekend, although the weather reports say that I may well be watching rain on Sunday instead of cricket (in which case ... MAD MAX !)

Only a week now until I have a week off. I've been hanging in there but am still burning that exhaustion candle down to the N. It manifests in things like me not wanting to expend the mental effort to play the computer games in the evening. And if you know me, I do like my pooter games. I also like nattering to people and LTK and Cupid's Gift have been awesome lately in putting up with all the crazy messages that go their way.

And there's another little lady at work who I'm hoping can put the bad times behind her too. She looks out for me and I like to return the favour. If a little crazy can help her to remember her smile, that's awesome.

The away trip yesterday was pretty good too. I got to see a few people that I rarely see, including one lovely lady who gave me the big wave from across the office, another who was wondering if I'd be helping out her meeting instead of the one I was going to (must think I know Stuff !) and a few others who broke out in that smile when they caught my eyes.

There must be some secret there. If you find out, let me know cos it's a mystery to me why people who barely know me smile at me like that. (I'm not complaining, it leads to me getting the choice bits at takeaway places, amongst other benefits)

Uhoh. Ramble detector is going off.

Enjoy your weekends ! Pray for good weather :
Hope it doesn't turn contrary :
And if you have an unhappy moment, I know someone with the solution.
Here's one I knew from a while ago :
Yep. Hug pooch. Get slurped. That's an old one ... The pooch is Goldie in his prime, he's been gone a long time now. I miss him and especially his ability to Run Very Fast as well. Goldie would find you and he would very definitely lick you.

Lovely pooch ! Enjoy your weekends :-)

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Plumbing is hard


Probably not that hard. Just gotta learn. Or get someone in who has already learned.

If in doubt, call in the pros.
The plumbing jobs are steadily piling up.

I need to find a wingnut removing tool for one;
The hot water tank has a drippy feed tap;
I need to seal up the join between bath and wall tiles;
The washing machine cold feed has a leaky washer;
The heating still has that WHACKTHUMP and I think the boost pump is broke.

The heating is the big one, although I've been able to get by with it. The heating doesn't work but the house is kept warm by computers and a portable heater. The boiler can still make sufficient hot enough water to give me steamy showers and for washing up. So it's a problem that's been able to wait.

Pretty sure I've isolated the leak in the bathroom thanks to something LTK said (ah ha ! Lover of Tea Kettles - perfect). I'm not telling you what that really means. Gives away too much. Anyway. That bathroom leak is almost certainly a failure of the sealant between bath and the wall tiles and I've picked something up that'll sort that out. Next step, to actually take it out of the boot of the car and use it.

The drippy feed tap is something I don't think I should fix on my own. I think the ballcock assembly needs to be changed. The temporary kludge is to turn the house water off when I'm not using it as it takes a direct feed from the mains. Needs fixing.

The washing machine pipe just needs me to get new pipes. I re-used the pipes when I last bought a washing machine ... donkeys years ago and the washer has died. The weird thing is that it leaks more in the winter than spring/summer. This one is an easy fix but needs the washing machine to be pulled out from the wall and possibly an extra pair of hands to feed the pipes through when you put the washing machine back. Awkward.
It's great to have your own place but ...

It's a lot of work to keep up with the maintenance, the cleaning, the odd jobs, the fixing of broken bits and all the other stuff. But it's worth it to have your own castle of peace.

It's good when it is that castle of peace. We have the usual door to door botherers, worst of all is an Irish fella who touts for garden/outdoor work. He'll make up stuff about what he's hearing from the neighbours in order to try and shame you into getting work done. He'll get upset that you're not using your scarce resource (repeatedly saying "I have no more money" didn't get him to bugger off) to give him work he's demanding.

Honestly, I should be doing the garden/yard clearing myself. Perhaps I will now that my health seems to be improving. On the outsides at least. Inside, I'm struggling with a poorly back and legs that have lost their old strength. But I could do without the rude Irishbloke tapping me up for work whenever he's short of cash.

That's actually one thing about potential narrowboat life. Most of the time, you'd be in that marina behind a gate shutting out the outside world. Tempting.

Or perhaps I need a sign :
That dog knows what's important.

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

A to B

I had a call from the garage people again today.

They want me to get another new car ! Cor. Only had this one 16 months so far (I think the computer time ticker has triggered on my first Lexus, which I got just under 4 years ago). Yep. They're being a bit keen.

I've meant to talk about this car for a little while now. It's the best car I've owned, following on from ... the best car I've owned. Ok, the Puma I had for 7 years was right up there too but the two Lexus take it to a whole new level for a combination of quality, toys, performance and mpgs I've not seen since before the catalytic convertor strangled our engines.

The next would have had complementary leather seats with heaters ... but it would have cost me the satnav.

Opinions ?

The built in satnav is very handy. Not so much for the navigation, you can probably do better from a phone with Google maps getting traffic updates from radio and internet. No - it's good in the Lexus because you don't need to change your driving position to use it because there is a mouse like control within easy arm-on-the-console reach.

Leather seats - are nice, I'll admit but they're also very prone to Burnt Bum Syndrome. Otherwise known as scorchio induced by the sun beating down on the seats all day. Besides, the leather seats in the CT were so smooth, people were being thrown around in the back even on fairly gentle cornering.

Heated seats - are a curious novelty. It is nice to have that warmth on your back when it's stiff and cold but ... the common impression of heated seats is that you start thinking you've had an accident in the car ... Ooopsies (literally).

Picture ? Here we go :
Shiny car is shiny.

I'm not going to do the silly thing of changing it this early into me owning it. The car is nigh on perfect, the only negative points are ... the seats could be better (I have a nagging suspicion that my stiffening back is due to the car seats) and it doesn't have a flat loading floor like the CT did. But ... it's a saloon and not a medium hatch. The drive by wire software could also be a little more refined : I use Eco to tame it in town and it shouldn't charge the battery to the 80% hold when you're cruising at motorway speeds, it should leave reserve for when you slow down.

Those are minor issues though and are consistent with all cars. Every car has its issues and ideosyncracies. Very few cars are as easy to drive as the hybrids at the same time as having their flexibility and all around performance.

This is sounding like an advert isn't it ...

I would thoroughly recommend the two Lexus I've had but ... you do have to buy into them. The IS300h has only been out just under 2 years now and the CT will stay at a relatively high price point even after depreciation. The garages will also be a little higher in price than your local neighbourhood grease monkey but you're paying for service that you'll never see at Audi, Merc or VW (from what I hear of those places).

Enough about cars !

One thing about our roads, as we're going from A to B, they've gradually taken the enjoyment away from driving. We're limited by fear to lower speeds, although I cruise at a much slower than average 70mph on the 70 limit roads (yep, you read that right) because it's a more chilled out speed and I don't believe speeding gains you any significant time compared to the stress it induces. Our roads have been neutered by lower speed limits and cameras hidden in naughty places. Speed bumps rattle your teeth. Slow people hog the middle lane, slow everyone down and cause accidents by not moving over.


There's a more fun way of getting from A to B (game time !)

I'm thinking about resetting my Elite game ... The sad thing about the current Elite is that you can't have multiple save games. So if I reset my data, I won't get it back. I would have to work my way back up to the Cookie Clipper :
And the various other ships I have.

The want to reset is something I felt in the original game. The signs of progress in the original were your combat ranking and how well fitted your ship was. When you got the best fitting for your ship, the only progress to be made was in getting to the fabled Elite rating. The most I ever got before getting bored and resetting was Deadly (one step off the top). After that, the challenge went from the game and with that, the interest (a similar tale can be read for me and Warcraft).

That feeling of a ceiling has hit again with Elite. I've got my Python now, the Cookie Clipper is in the Zaonce garage and with it, an Asp ship I could happily go exploring in. But the motivation to use them isn't there.

No - it's not the end point that's important or fun. It's the getting there. Same with the Warcraft days, I enjoyed the levelling more than the hollow repetition at the end of the game. Although saying that, the end of the game was where the multiplayer lit up.

The journey is more fun than the end point. We keep evolving, changing, becoming different. I like that. Always keep looking out for new things. Fresh things.

Keep an eye open for new opportunities. Go forward. Not back.

I'll pass up the car opportunity (because I think it's a backward step) but I have my eyes on a few other opportunities. Possibilities that I didn't believe were possibilities.

I'm still feeling the tired but have that positive outlook. I think there's a little one of these (pic below) inside looking for that open gate :
Cya !

Sunday, May 24, 2015

My Ears ! My Ears ! It's Eurovision

I'm not quite sure why we sit through Eurovision every year. It's like one of those tragicomedies. At least, that's the way the Brits see it. The rest of Europe curiously sometimes take it rather seriously.

There's a few silly things about Eurovision.

There's the partisan neighbourly voting, where Serbia votes 12 for Montenegro and Montenegro votes 12 for Serbia. The Scandinavian countries vote for each other. Greece votes for Cyprus and each of them never vote for Turkey. The Balkan States have joined this trend by voting for each other.

And then there's the musak. Don't get me started on the musak.

Ok, some of it is ok. I liked the Polish entry this year, it made up for their infamous milkmaid vignette from last year. This year's infamy on the stage was reserved for Austria who burned a piano which mysteriously still kept on playing despite being : on fire ... and the pianist walking away from it.

I did like the stage show which won but ... isn't this about the song, not the show ?

I thought I'd remove the corruption from my ears by doing my own Eurovision song contest. Yep. It's another dive into that big music library to see what I can find on Youtube ... The rule for this one is to have only one song per country. Let's go !
First up, I applaud Ireland's choice to approve same sex marriages. Good on ya ! And there's a pop pixie from over there who posted a very happy twitter message about it. It's Lisa Hannigan, here with Lille and a wonderful pop up book.

What a wonderful start and so much better than anything that we heard yesterday. Next is following the French theme from Lille, it's a band I'm keeping my eye on called The Plastiscines. They've done one fantastic song and a number of mediocre songs. But I still think they're worth a listen and I'll pick up their albums when they get cheap. The wonderful song is Barcelona. Very catchy.

Have I got anything from the Spanish ? I don't think I do ...

I do have a delightful bit of crazy from Iceland. Yep. Bjork - delightfully barmy, Possibly Maybe ?

Over to the Scandinavians. I did love the stage show for the winner yesterday but I say again ... song contest ? Here's a wonderful song from Sweden, you'd have to be a Frequent Flyer to visit all these countries. It's Nina Persson's post-Cardigans project - A Camp.

Norway have a couple of contenders here. There's A-Ha and then there's Lene Marlin. I pick Lene because ... yep. I love that female voice (and you've probably already familiar with A-Ha), especially when it's singing songs like How Would It Be (from the Lost In The Moment album)

One from a few places is the Swedish-Finnish-Czech singer Lisa Miskovsky. Another who I'll end up collecting her albums because there's another wonderful voice here. Perhaps it's a bit too polished in the production though. But with songs like Midnight Sun, I'll be singing along.

Over to the mainland of the continent again and it's Caro Emerald. Another wonderful voice and catchy jazzy songs too like A Night Like This.

Australia were invited along this year and played along with the spirit of it but ... It didn't have nearly the power of Untouched by The Veronicas. Certain songs grab me and I end up buying everything that a group comes out with. Untouched is one of those songs. Wow, just wow. They're too fast for me to sing along to but that doesn't stop me bopping away to it in my chair.

To close out, we have to have something quintessentially UK. Something only we could come out with. It's gotta be the Wurzels with The Combine Harvester.


I think I hear screaming and running.

Ok. Ok. I'll spare you the Wurzels. Here's someone far more tuneful. It's Kate Bush with Oh England My Lionheart.

Cya ! And listen to good things.

Thursday, May 21, 2015

Pizza ... coma ...

Off work now for 4 whole days !

I have another week off coming in a fortnight but ... it's bank holiday time over here which means a bit of downtime. I've been looking forward to it for a while now as my batteries have been pretty low.

I'm not too sure why that is, my metabolism just seems to have been in slow mode for ... I dunno ... way too long now and I've been coming to the end of that candle that spells exhaustion. Yep. I'm pretty much burning down to the N.

So tonight, at the start of the chill out it's a case for ... what food do I always turn to as Special Comfort Food :

Pizza coma tonight while listening/watching to youtube videos. I watched the end of the cricket earlier when I got in and fully intend to watch as much cricket as I can get away with over the next few days. That's going to call for a little bit of dual viewing as the Formula 1 is on too. But that's Monaco, which is always a boring nonevent procession. So maybe 5% of my attention will be on that.

Pizza ? It's my no1 special comfort food but I can't have too much of it, especially now that I'm too heavy. The cheese makes me make too much acid which, isn't pleasant. It's not that bad ... but that acid is really bad for when I'm trying to sleep and I've been really challenged on getting sleep lately. It's like I've forgotten how to turn my mind off.

Cricket will sort that out. As will the grand prix "racing".

So yeah. Plan A will be to not do very much. However ...

Comic Con is on again in London over the weekend. Tickets on Saturday are all gone, I need the easy day tomorrow but Sunday is still a possibility.

Positive - lots of shinies. Yogscast people are there again and there's a few of those (Hannah, Kim, Zoey, Rythian) who always get my attention and make me chuckle/laugh/grin/jump when I'm watching their videos. They're a great bunch and they get my attention because they're great characters too. You never really know what Hannah or Kim are likely to do next but you can be sure there would be mischief, fun or just outright batshitcraziness involved. LTK has been urging me to break out of the reclusiveness and head over to Comic Con.

I like LTK, she's another of the work people who has been keeping me sane by keeping up with the crazy stuff that tends to come over Communicator and will one up me on that crazy stuff too.

I know someone else who is a bit like that and I'd jump for a chance to meet up again with Cupid's Gift too. We natter over the texts a fair bit but rarely get the chance to meet up. And a true genuine hug is way better than chuckles over the texts. Lots of chat is great, it feels like we know each other pretty well and it's rare that I feel comfortable enough with someone that I'm prepared to take All of the emotional armour off the way I do around Cupid's Gift.

Yep. If the Evil Fluffy Bitey Thing calls, I'll come running.

It's not just the Yogspeople though, their artists are coming along too. I said a bit about NinaSerina after meeting her at October's London Comic Con. Was it really October ? So much seems to have happened since then, it seems so long ago (I hadn't met Cupid's Gift then!). I wrote about KaeyiDream in that post too and this time ... she gets to go with her Dream Prince Martyn ! Good on ya Kaeyi, it shows how much healthier you've got over the last 6 months. They're there for all 3 days and I hope they enjoy it as much as I think they'll enjoy it. Nina and Kaeyi are just wonderful People.

I'm steadily talking myself into going to Comic Con again aren't I ... Perhaps if I was going along with someone else again then yep. I enjoyed the EGX Rezzed (a little) and London Comic Con (a lot) but I enjoyed Birmingham Comic Con so much more as I was able to sense Cupid's Gift's enjoyment. Brum Comic Con was the best of the lot so far because it was with company.

Sometimes though, you have to listen to your body :
And rest up when you need to get some of that energy back.

So - it'll be a chilled out weekend. The insane amount of travel time needed for Comic Con will wait for another time and an excuse to be towed around by someone on the coffee :
I'll watch as much cricket as I can. (Translation - it'll be on in the background while I do other stuff and I'll pay attention when Important Things happen). The grand prix will get largely ignored (because it's Monaco and therefore likely to be a procession). I'll watch Tomorrowland with the lads on Monday and might see if there's a chance to see Mad Max on my own too.

And with all that, I still need to put into action Bathroom Replacement scouting too.

Last bit - a Very Special Friend is going to have an important interview tomorrow. She's not been well and the nerves have been on her back too but ... I bet she'll do awesome. Good luck Ms Very Special Friend !
I don't really like to think about the Tired's. I prefer to think about that Very Special Friend who I know will impress people tomorrow. The little lady who always brings out a smile when a message comes in followed by chuckles when I read it. The one who joins in with the craziness. The people at work who can manage the grinning idiot (see first pic) and all the other special friends too (see second pic).

First pic ?
Yep. That's me.
And that's you (courtesy of a few people who /liked this on Facebook as I was typing this !)

Cya ! And enjoy your weekends, whatever you intend doing. Especially if it's fun stuff.

Monday, May 18, 2015

Beware the random picture

And the random link to youtube posts.

Currently listening to Nina Persson's solo album, Animal Heart and it's a cracker. It really shows off her voice. It's not a perfect voice but she puts it to incredible purpose. I'll sit up and listen and pause everything to just drink it in.

And perhaps wreck it by singing (croaking?) along too.

Random Pictures ?

There's so much hype out there at the moment about various games. The one that's being unleashed on us tonight is The Witcher 3, the third in a hugely successful series. I have to admit, I've only partly played through the first game and while I own the second (groan - sales again), I haven't played that one at all. The third one is massively anticipated and I know a few people will be going like this tonight :
Not me though. I've been trying to catch up on my sleep. Sleep lately has been something I've kinda been afraid of as it's been taking ages to drop off and while I do, the fidget makes me damage my arms more which sets back the healing.

I mentioned domestic stuff in one of my weekend posts didn't I ? What do all those symbols mean anyway ?
Does that make it any clearer ?

About that sleep, good job I'm not a stormtrooper.
And there's always a cure. Or maybe not a cure but a mask for the tiredness :
We'll be over there watching with extreme curiosity.

It's a short couple of weeks for me at work, I have Friday off as well as next Monday. And it's already Monday night so no need for this for a while :
Good plan. It's almost over.

One last one ? I know a few people who will recognise this :
I know someone who's glued to her phone and I find it adorable. It's a sign of how giving she is with her time because that phone time is mostly the giving and receiving of messages.

One last one before good night ?

If you've stuck with me so far :
That's you. Yes you. You know who I mean. But it's especially you. You're special. Good night !

Sunday, May 17, 2015

Thoughts on Fear

One of the more famous quotes from Dune is :

"I must not fear.
Fear is the mind-killer.
Fear is the little-death that brings total obliteration.
I will face my fear.
I will permit it to pass over me and through me.
And when it has gone past I will turn the inner eye to see its path.
Where the fear has gone there will be nothing.
Only I will remain"

That's so true on so many levels. We are all affected by fear, it's part of us, it shapes us, sometimes it controls us, sometimes it traps us if we allow it to.

I have my own collection of fears. Some I've moved on from, some I've accepted, some I still continually battle against. Some creep out from behind me and tap me on the shoulder when I've forgotten they're there.

I still have the fear that makes me wobble when going down elevators. That's a vertigo inspired fear. I've conquered it for elevators and my engineering knowledge makes me ok going over bridges that make other people go seriously wibbly. That's an example where the fear has been analysed and abated through knowing that the event the fear is convincing you may happen (the elevator pitching you forward, the lift going into uncontrolled descent or the bridge collapsing) will not happen because the engineering is there to prevent it happening. But that doesn't help with me going to high places that don't have guard rails.

Yep. You won't see me peering over the edges of cliffs any time soon.

I think there's a genuine reason for this in my past, where an event reinforced that fear of high places. What was that event ? Let's just say it's an event that's marked me for the past 25 years and an event that will always be with me.

The trigger for this post comes from the BBC ... It's about how a producer overcomes her fear of sharks. I can barely swim, I don't think that's a fear of water per se but it's a skill I've rarely had the need to develop. Perhaps when my skin is better, it would be a good source of low impact exercise.

That's another fear that's been locking me down - the fear that the conditions of my outsides becomes apparent when I'm out and ... socially embarassing. That's a super genuine fear, part of it is to conceal my ongoing condition from others. There's a reason why I'm still wearing jumpers at the moment when it's a little warm for them maybe when coming into the office from the bus. Same as I'll predominantly wear dark clothing or clothing that doesn't show those signs that bad patches have been leaking.

That's not nearly so bad as it was, I'm well on the way to being mended but ... it's taking so much time. It would be a tragedy if I allowed that fear of exposure to stay with me and turn me into a recluse.

I think a darling little lady has helped me with that. She saw the arms at almost their worst (not the legs because I'm not in a habit of showing my legs to people in public) and although I bet there was a part of her that was screaming inside, I got a sense of acceptance. That it isn't as bad as I personally am thinking it is. I still have that sense of "Imperfection - DESTROY" that's holding the healing back but her influence is making me more confident about being out and about.

That's another lesson - do not be afraid (there's that word again) to tell others about your fears, if they're a good friend then they'll help you through those fears. They'll lend their strength. Or ... in the case where you've been abused, they can be a reminder that normal people aren't like that. That there is kindness and love to balance violence.

For those reading who have been a victim of abuse, do not be afraid to run. The worst thing to do would be to stay with your abuser for fear of what may happen if you go. Abusive people have no right to your loyalty and that includes those who abuse by words as well as by action.

I've been a victim of those abusive people in the past. Not by action, as I seem to have this aura that makes people think twice about attempting physical violence. But I've definitely felt the effect of psychological abuse. That's tougher than the physical abuse because there are rarely any outward signs for how it is affecting you. Even tougher because sometimes you don't know who you can talk to. In my case, when I was suffering the psychological abuse, I was part of a network of people who were all interconnected and I knew that something I said to one would work its way around that network.

That need for psychological reassurance is why I get so frustrated when I do reach out to people, the questions remain unanswered or apparently unacknowledged. There's a few cases where I've asked questions like :

"Have you heard from ... ? She's disappeared again and I hope she's ok". The person who disappeared is a Facebook friend who has been treated for suicidal drug overdoses multiple times, so you can imagine my concern when she disappeared from the friends list. She's still out there, I noticed a replying comment from her but I'm very disappointed that the question "have you heard from ..." was not answered.

Various comments and questions that go unanswered. The one above is the one that took the biscuit but there's a few ex-colleagues who I've sent comments, questions, lead ins for jokes to and there's ... absolutely no reply. That's not just one comment, it's over many comments and it's not just work, it's over social media thingys like Twitter too. So much that I stop reaching out to them and reach out to more fun people instead (like LTK, she joins in the madness whole heartedly, SQ when she's not mired in the insane busy that's pretty global at work now and Cupid's Gift)

Fears ?

Let's mention the cricket ...

I used to be afraid of the ball. Which is understandable because a cricket ball is 5 and a quarter ounces of bone breaking, bruise inflicting pain. If you allow it. The mistake is to allow that fear to have any impact on how you treat the ball. If you field perfectly and your batting skills or protection is up to the job, the ball doesn't hurt you. But that fear is a paralysing factor that throws your timing off enough for that ball to hurt you.

I've been hit on the head by a cricket ball 3 times now. Two of those (without a helmet) saw me suffer psychological/neurological effects and the middle time (with a helmet) just saw me almost vomit in the changing room after the game. The first time is what I call Nose Job no 1, it hit me in the eye with my glasses saving my eye from ... quite possibly losing the eye. But it smashed my nose sideways to the point where I couldn't breathe properly through the nose. That was fixed with Nose Job 2 a few weeks later.

How many weeks ? I'm not sure* ... but I was able to play cricket again before the rains came to end that season. I got one game in wearing a helmet where I had the chance to bat again, which allowed me to confront that fear of being hit before it had a chance to fester over the off season. I'm still affected, I'm pretty sure I'm different as a person to how I was before the impact.

*The impact damaged my memory. My short term memory is now pretty poor and prone to complete gaps. I lost the PIN to my main credit card, it's like the memory cells it was in got corrupted and the PIN was just ... gone. That's one example of how it hits. My memory for faces to names is also affected by it. I've accepted that.

There's a couple of England cricketers who have been hit badly on the head over the past few seasons, they'll never be the same again. Both were hit by balls that managed to sneak their way past the grille. Craig Kieswetter was a wicketkeeper batsman, a good one too. But he always had a weakness where he just couldn't see the fastest balls which meant he continually failed at international level. I think being hit has made him think that his weakness in vision is down to the impact and he'll probably have to retire because it's affecting him at country level as well now. Stuart Broad was a very promising lower order batsman but his confidence has been shattered now since he got hit. He's made a Test hundred (a big one) but is now a shadow of what he used to be.

I made my biggest scores after being hit that first time but ... I don't know how it would have affected me if I hadn't had that chance to bat again before the demons had a chance to set in. I know I had a subconscious need to change all of the kit associated with that impact, bat, pads, gloves etc. I've never played again at the ground where I got hit but that's mostly due to opportunity.

Oh my gosh I'm rambling on aren't I.

Lessons - fear is valid. Fear is rarely silly. Anyone who tells you otherwise is scared of accepting their own fears.

Fears usually have a rational explanation. An external source or other cause.

Fears can be analysed. Like my vertigo. I'm now less wibbly about those escalators.

Fears can be faced. Like me with batting and those cricket balls.

Fears can be confronted. If I didn't confront my fear of isolation, then I'd retreat into a shell when not getting replies or recognition of stuff I send to people.

Fears can be accepted. I have fear that my plans get thwarted. I accept that unanticipated things can happen and have loads of back up plans in my back pocket ready to come out if I need them. Some would call this being paralysed into paranoid inaction ... I'm just surprised when things work first time.

Fears do not have to be tackled alone. I think this most applies to the abuse cases where talking about your abuse means you will get a reply of "Nothing, it's not your fault" to those inner feelings of "What did I do to deserve this". You didn't deserve it but you do deserve better people.

Fear can be a mindkiller, if you allow it to. Don't let it get that kind of control over you, be master of your own destiny.

Friday, May 15, 2015

Plan A, Plan B, plan ...

Getting tired again now.

Currently chilling out at home to Siberia, it's a pretty naff tv series actually about a group of reality tv contestants who are in a last person standing game where they are dropped off in the middle of Siberia. Or so they think ... it quickly becomes apparent that the tv crew supposed to be looking after them has disappeared and there's something Very Nasty out there that would like to do horrible things to them.

Bit naff but still watchable, partly for the developing story.

Plan A was to go see Mad Max today. Not a film for everyone, actually probably not a film for many but the trailer was spectacularly epic and I want to see it. However ... today's showings are either :

Director's Hall in town - nah. That's extra money that I don't think gives me any value. (If I was going with someone though ? Yep, definitely treat her to whatever shinies they have in the Director's Hall)
3d showings - nah. Maybe I'll watch films in 3d at some point but to be honest ? More unnecessary spend.
Mall cinema ? This one had potential but they're digging the roads up around the Mall and I don't particularly want to be anywhere near that ...

It'll keep for a bit. I suspect Mad Max will be in cinemas for a little while.

I'd kinda like to go to the cinema with another little lady who I took to Hobbit 3, I don't think Mad Max is her kind of film but ... I'd kinda like to see Far From The Madding Crowd or even Home. There's a few more coming too, I have plans to watch Jurassic World and Terminator Genesys when they come out and I want to see both of those series before I do.

Another partial plan today was to go check out more places for bathroom scouting. Wickes at the Mall have been fired now, whenever I go in after work their kitchen/bathroom design people have already gone home. Machines dark, lights off, everything put to sleep. That's really bad ... They're missing a prime market by not being able to catch the people who are working all day, with their only chances to visit these places being after work. Yet they're not around to take their (my) money.

Their loss ! I'll go to either another Wickes (we have a few), there's a Jackson and Ikea is also a possibility. I've scouted B and Q as well but their stuff looked rather dingy (even though it probably comes from the same place as the others!)

I've left the bathroom scouting for another day. I have the tireds.
But I'm coping with it.

Work has been insane lately. We were busy before but it seems like that's ratcheted up a few levels. And it's not just me thinking that either, it's a pretty global feeling. It gets worse too as people get upset, they leave and that leaves more work for the rest of us. That's compounded by people who have jumped over the wall to being contractors, they come back for a "visit" which is actually them headhunting the people they used to work with here.

That's unprofessional, a disgrace and they should be ashamed of what they're doing.

We've already seen a few people recruited out of the team by one particular individual (let's call him KB) who I had no respect for while he was with us - he was sweary and inflicted his own inability to do the job while he was with us on his colleagues. We're better off without him but he shouldn't be coming back in to unsettle people.

It's definitely a case where reputation does not match their actual quality. In my opinion at least.

We've seen this with a few more people who go outside too, they'll come visiting as contractors and they'll be fishing for work. That's not the way it works ... it short circuits open competition and potentially gets us in an extremely awkward position. If we don't obey those open competition rules (blindly), then we can be fired. I'm kinda glad I don't have to use all the rules when I'm buying stuff for me, they slow things down so much. They're there to make sure bad decisions aren't made (by incompetent people - but then we get our disastrous IT update) but they don't allow for memory.

What do I mean by memory with getting people to do stuff ? I refuse to get anything by Asus now after getting two motherboards which weren't feature complete (various things, plus surround sound that ... wasn't). That boycott is extended by what happened with their Asus Transformer pad.

I have other boycotts too with the techie stuff. I had one on Gigabyte for a while for selling boards which were effectively beta (not fully tested, not complete) standard. Another was on nVidia for disastrous driver support for their graphics cards but ... ATI/AMD are now worse.

I detect ranting ...

Which another sign I need a bit more chill out.

Or good company. Being around people has a good effect on me. It has me looking away from problems, towards seeing if I can cheer up the other people. That doesn't have to be actually seeing them, it can be swapping the messages as well. Sending crazy thoughts to people to see how they respond.

I think I've rambled enough now though. Closing thoughts :

MCM Comic Con in London next weekend ! I'd like to go again but not on my own. These are far better when you're with other people. Besides, London events tend to be very long days and I'm wrecked afterwards. I'll still do Lords but will take the Friday off after.

If anyone would like to come to Comic Con with me ? (And I have a particular person in mind who I think will be booked up already!) Yep, I'll go again.

Tired and have a poorly back. It could do with some TLC again. But I'd like to be properly fixed again before I try that. It's getting closer ... More repairs to do though.

Quiet weekend to come ... although ... I hear in the background that domestic things are happening ... (the washing is in the machine and the cycle is just ending). Cya !

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

That old temptation again ... and some random comments

I'm still on the circulation for one of the cricket teams at work.

This could be a very dangerous thing.

It's just one of the teams that I'm getting the emails from. I think the other team may have given up on me as the fella who used to do the organising has passed on the baton to someone with more time. That's something I found when I was running the indoor cricket team, it was starting to take over from the day job and there was so much stress with getting a full team to actually turn up. That shouldn't be a problem should it ? If I said I'd play, then I'd turn up even if my arm was hanging off. And if you know me, there has been a period where my arm has been literally hanging by tortured muscles and duff tendons.

(It was the period of the torn rotator cuff / minor dislocation - when I picked anything up in my right arm, it felt like it was getting pulled out of the socket).

Yep. Just the one team with their eye on me at the moment. And it's the one where I was looking to back away from playing anyway due to bad captaincy. I like the fella who runs the team (we regularly do the Lords pilgrimage together, maybe not this year) but he didn't get chance to captain much. The stand in tended to put the fella with the atrocious throwing arm (me!) in the outer areas of the field where it's ... boring. And not where I'm a terror, in the infield closer in where I'll throw myself around to get the spectacular run outs.

That's a weird part of my personality. It happens in badminton too. The mundane stuff bores me, I'll naturally go for the more spectacular stuff. Like the quick fast infield scampering or the tough but spectacular shots in badminton. A little bit show offy ? Perhaps compensation for an otherwise introvert nature. Perhaps that part of my brain sees the need to show off as a contrast for otherwise fading into the background.

The cricket ?

Yeah. The temptation has been coming back again as my outsides steadily repair. They're still incredibly prone to being further damaged but ... I'm seeing that light at the end of the tunnel. And feeling it too as I touch skin that's now much smoother.

Not fixed yet but it may happen inside the next month or so. We shall see.

What isn't fixed is the damage to my insides. I'm ok when I get moving but there are those reminders from hips, back and shoulders. Just reminders. They still work pretty well, they're mostly complaining about lack of use.

Nah. I'm quite happy ignoring that temptation to play again. I can vaguely remember back to two years ago the frustration of having to leave balls go that were going outside my throwing range towards the fella on the boundary. I wanted to go haring off after them but knew I wouldn't be able to do anything except for just get in the way. I don't like that feeling, especially as I knew one reason he needed to be covering the boundary is because I couldn't.

Other random comments ?

I've been watching the social medias ... One trend you see on there is the Emotional Blackmail Shame post. The one where someone posts something really horrible, or something with the base message "if you don't like or share this, you're a horrible person". Like the mothers day posts which said things like "share if you love your mom".

I love my mom (and mom 2) and they know that. They love me too. I think. I don't need to share a random picture that's come from a viral source. Nah - I uploaded the Happy Mother's Day dwagon. It gives the message in my own fashion, not a way borrowed from something gone viral.

Similar with the cruelty posts. I feel really bad for the animals who are victims in these pictures. There's been one doing the rounds of a dog with its back paws duct taped together, its front paws duct taped together and its muzzle duct taped shut. It has the caption "Share if you would help this dog". I hope everyone who knows me would know that I would :

Comfort that pooch as best and as gently I could
Send someone off to get some scissors
And cut the bonds
(Note - not remove the duct tape as - tape + fur = super pain to remove)
Carry poochling off to a vet to see how it could be helped
And then I'd probably adopt the pooch.

There will always be a special place in my heart for the unconditional love that a dog will give its master. (I like cats too but that's more a staff-boss relationship). I don't see that I have to hit that share button to show that I'm not cold hearted. I like to think that the temperature of my heart is something I demonstrate continually.

I know a few people reading this may think I mean them but - I mean no disrespect. The worst thing we can do is turn a blind eye to suffering. But ... what I object to is that emotional blackmail that's involved with turning raising awareness cruelty into blindly sending something viral. It's a bit like the chain letters that started out as something interesting but had that awful "If you don't send this to 5000 people then your life will be ruined.". I used to occasionally pass those on but I'd remove the chaining part at the end. But that chaining is exactly the same as "Share if you care".

I think I need to get back to something more positive now.

Help out where you can. I'm not saying spend all of your own time to be a selfless monk of sacrifice but consider helping others in your own small way. If enough of us help just a little, that makes the world a better place.

If you can bring a smile to people, then that makes everyone's day brighter.

Saturday, May 09, 2015

Continuing Adventures of Cmdr Sleepy

I think this could be another theme ... I have a few of those.

There are the random ramblings. I occasionally go ranty but I'm not keen on doing that. Besides, there's always that filter on my whinging where certain topics, certain thoughts, aren't for public viewing. You never quite know who's looking !

There are the music posts. I do enjoy doing these, as it gives me a great excuse to listen to some of my most favourite songs via the youtubes. But I don't think many people click on the links to the videos. Sometimes it feels like a "Look at the size of my music collection" brag too. I don't like to brag. The dominant feeling when I look at how much music I've collected is that I like a wide variety of music. Never a bad thing.

There are the whingy posts where I say how I've struggled. These have their place. I find it really helps if I can quantify what's getting me down. To get the thoughts collected and organised. They act as a kind of reset where I can take stock, shape up and move on. And it usually does help too.

But - smiles from Pretty Ladies are usually way better. And that includes messages where I'm imaging a Pretty Lady smiling and chuckling at me while she's tapping out the message.

There used to be a series of cricket posts. I'll still post about that but with me not playing any more, the source material isn't there to build a post on.

Movies are an occasional post too, as well as me taking excuses to put the adorable Ben (he's a popular puppy) on screen.

And now the gaming posts are coming back ... This used to be either WoW or Eve, now it's going into the territory of the Elite Dangerous pilot. I think I'm liking that game perhaps a little too much. It is a rather pretty game and there's still a decent amount going on in it. The latest community goal is a trading initiative where you take agricultural machinery to Diso to help them with their farming. The last one involved bounty hunting to clear the pirates out of Zaonce.

The big thing that made Elite grab my attention is that it appeals to that inner adolescent in me that while growing up, wanted to be a Space Pilot, going on missions in outer space. And this game lets me escape this life and act out those early ambitions by plying the tradelanes out there, fighting or running from the pirates or just getting out there and exploring.

But there is something very important to consider - games should never be more important than real life and if they start feeling like a job, that's when it's time to walk away. That's why I fell out of love with WoW and Eve, I wasn't enjoying playing them any more and it was actually more fun working in my proper job than doing the grinding these games demanded. Ok, WoW has less of the grind now as it accommodates the recent influx of players suffering from entitlement but that's part of why I went away, it offered me zero challenge outside of accommodating daft mechanics in the boss battles.

Back to Elite !

I need a ship name. I've just upgraded to a Python :
Yep. It's not much to look at but it's a great all rounder. I currently have it set up for lots of cargo carrying but you can also use it as a really nasty combat ship and I suspect it would do ok as an explorer too. It can land at the smaller outpost stations as well, so when this farming community goal is all done, I'll look to use it to run lots of missions for naval ranks, these let you buy more ships.

Oh dear. It's sounding like working again isn't it ? I walk away from the game when it starts feeling like that. I used to be reasonably competitive in the games but ... if it isn't fun, why are you playing the game ? And putting pressure on yourself to advance through as quick as possible, is how you quickly evaporate the fun out of a game.

A name for the Python ?
Monty is banned. That's way too obvious.
IMV* Michael Palin has potential. I loved his travelogues which started with Around The World In 80 Days, a modern day attempt to recreate the journey in the book.
*(Independent Merchant Vessel)
Sid. As in Hissing.
"Oh please god don't hit anything". When I bought it, I literally didn't have enough money to fill the cargo hold. And if you lose the ship and can't cover the 5% value insurance, you're back in the starting ship. Oops. I've just managed to get enough back in the bank to cover the insurance but there's a massive amount of upgrading to do.
"Making Miss Millie Proud". There seem to be a lot of Miss Millies but one of them makes Big Cookies, which fits in with my usual theme for trading vessels.
"Firefly Enterprises". That's more like a company name than a ship name.
"Pegasus Rising". Spot the scifi series that one is inspired by. Actually it could be two series that I immediately think of.
"Sky Eagle". I like that one but that name deserves to be on something much shinier, prettier and littler than the Python.

Any more ideas for a name for my Python ?

Friday, May 08, 2015

Let's put it to a vote

The world has its eyes on Britain at the moment ...

That includes Wales, home of the Dwagons, Ireland, home of the Giants of the Causeway and those barbarians north of the border. Scotland is it ?

Just joking there. Ireland was a much loved home while I was in primary school (last millenium) and I adore that accent. I've been going wow hearing it again, we've had a recent joiner and we've been occasionally swapping war stories. Yep. I been about 200yards away from a bomb going off. Only a little one, it knocked off the front of one of the stores in Lisburn. Different times. Yeah, you had the end days of the Troubles but it was also safe enough that 8 year old me was trusted to walk through town to the bus home.

Wales has the dragons. Watch them around the sheep though.

And I had the pleasure to work with some amazing people up in the Scottish part of the organisation in my previous project.

Yep. We been voting again. No matter who wins our elections, we're always deeply unhappy with the result.

I don't believe the fault is in the ideologies of the parties. I don't think the parties know what their ideologies are any more, they're just saying anything to chase votes. The trouble comes from them chasing votes from different parts of the population. There are also those deeply entrenched ideas (which I have too and I'm struggling to throw them off) about who we should be voting for. People vote Labour all their life, people vote Conservative all their life.

Some people voted LibDem all their life, up until the last election where they showed their true colours by shattering all the promises they made in the run up to the election ... and then reminding everyone what they're like with some incredibly negative campaigning over the last week. They still looked surprised when they went from 50+ seats to just 8.

Nah. Our problem is with the politicians. No one with any credibility wants to be a politician any more and by the time they reach real power, their credibility has been knocked out of them. They are not rooted in the real world.

Someone once said "Democracy is the worst form of government, except for those already tried.". But - the important thing is, we have our freedom, our streets are mostly safe at night, our police enforce most of the laws that are in there to keep us safe and we still have the last vestiges of a National Health Service.

Enough about politics.

About that vote ?

There are far more important concerns than who we choose to inhabit that lunatic asylum that sits on the banks of the Thames. Yep.
That's from my current trading expeditions in Elite.

What could be more important than life or death ? Tea or coffee. Definitely. Although I will admit to being very partial to hot chocolate as well.

Ending thoughts :
Vote the way you choose.
Try to banish prejudices when you vote.
Make sure you vote - it's the only way the lunatics will pay attention.
Norah Jones had it spot on with My Dear Country.
Cricket's second main break of the day is called "Tea".

Which way do you go ? Are you a coffee or a tea person ?

Tuesday, May 05, 2015

That was the weekend that was

Just had a busy weekend. Well, technically it's weekend +1 now but hey.

Actually - come to think of it, it is +1 day on something :
May the 5th be with you ! Oh wait - one day late. Oh well. That's an example of one of the Gimp photomanips that I'm maybe ... 80% happy with. Why not totally ? Because there's a mismatch between the two images that have been cobbled together. To really work, the images have to be all sharp, all fuzzy, they need to be consistent across the image. In this one, the dwagon is fuzzy, the Star Wars bit of it is sharp.

Oh and they don't trust me with lightsabers any more.

It's going to be mental around the scifi geek community in 2 years time when the 40 year anniversary comes around. Star Wars really caught the imagination when it came out. There'd been scifi films before then but they'd never really hit the mark before this one. Hell, Star Trek had been going strong as well. But Star Wars grabbed people in a way nothing before it had. And then it continued that with Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi (one of the first films I saw in the cinema).

The sequels weren't quite the same but I think they were still pretty good.

Enough about Star Wars though. Just had a busy weekend :

Work trip on Friday - 100 miles there and back and a fairly full day of meetings too. It's a new contract and it's very encouraging. We might be hard pressed to keep up with our contractor, they're really cracking on. (A nice refreshing change!)

I could have done the run to see the parents on Friday night but to be honest, bank holiday traffic can be nuts and I welcomed the easy evening. So I travelled on the Saturday morning instead. Straight to the pub. Lovely steak and tangy chips too. Yum.

And as well as seeing mum, dad and sister for the first time in a while, I get to see this fella too :
That's Ben the Staffy. He's getting on a bit now but he's still got an absolutely lush coat, finely defined muscles, a distinguished greyness to his muzzle and a tail that oftens disappears into motion blur.

He's got a great temperament too. He'll bark when unfamiliar people come around but when his people give the impression that the unfamiliar person is ok, then he'll start with the slurping. Typical Staffy. And he likes to keep an eye on his people and make sure they're ok. And if they're not, it's slurping time.

It's good to see the family. And there's another important thing - dogs, cats, they're family too.

Back to work today though. I may need to escape for another break again soon, although that might come partly due to domestic stuff. Need to sort the house out. I'll accept certain standards for me, even a certain amount of clutter (because my brain likes familiarity, including clutter) but I expect to provide higher standards for others. And I need to bring my house back up to those better standards.

In a bit. Having me dinner now.

At least it's calmed down a bit now. I added the following to Facebook earlier "It's a hat stealing, umbrella murdering, wig pinching day out there but not quite at 'small person grab an anchor' levels". Very windy. Thankfully it wasn't raining when I was outside. You know what the unsettled weather means though don't you ?

Cricket season is upon us !

One of the work sides starts the season tomorrow night. I'm oh so close to being intact enough on the outside to play again. That's a bad idea though because I wouldn't be able to put in the performance level that I'd be happy with. If I had the chance to up the fitness levels and prepare, maybe. But as it stands, an evening of play would be followed by days of pain. Besides, there are fitter, younger players who want a game more than I do who can be more effective for the team.

Why do I discount myself there ?
Reactions have slowed - so my batting has suffered
Carrying the weight (this is something I need to sort anyway!)
Very weak throwing arm

I have like 95% movement in both shoulder and hip but the movement lost in the shoulder is critical to bowling and throwing (and not much else!). So while I can throw when I need to, I save it for special occasions.

The upshot is, there's people who play way better than I do now. So I'd be taking away from the team if I demanded a place ahead of the young whippersnappers. And the captains like me enough (I'm gobby on the field with constant encouragement for the team and my energy level is usually high) to find places in the team for me if I wanted it.

I dunno - it just doesn't feel honest to everyone if I still looked to play. And honesty is everything with me.

And on that note ... cya soon !