Tuesday, February 27, 2018

Hitting the bottle

Haha - don't worry about me.

I did need to get a few feelings out last night but it's not that kind of bottle. Honest. And there ain't no way I'm going to be hitting this particular bottle, I would be finding Lego bits for months with my feet afterwards. Ain't no one wants to be finding Lego bricks with their feet :-).

I think we need a teaser pic for that there thumbnail thing ... Here we go. As always, click for bigger and I do believe the desktop version of these pages includes ..... a slide show .....
Looks good doesn't it ? Even in the yellowy light of my old photo taking spot. (The main room light has a glass cover that makes the light a bit dim and definitely more yellow than it should be).
That's the aft castle taking shape at the start of the build. It's quite incredible how much detail they packed into something so small.
The main hull takes shape, ready to accept masts and sails. It's only about 3 inches long and 4D was definitely needed to help with angling the ship to make for better pictures.
Another view of the side of the ship. I do like the gun ports and mini cannon hidden within.
Steady as she goes, don't let those pirates get away.
But this kit isn't just about the ship. There's a bottle to craft too. This is the base starting to take shape.
And the ship starts to get enclosed in the bottle. This is still Lego, there are a lot of small pieces that fit together wonderfully well to make something ... well you'll see later how spectacular this one looks when complete.
Almost there ... This is the stage where you pour in the "sea", which is actually 284 individual one circle dot bits of clear blue Lego.
And this is where I shift location to my new photo shooting spot. My pooter chair with the reading light above ! Much better lighting.
And another angle.
4D kinda looks impressed there doesn't he in his leaning back pose ? Darn straight. That's the completed bottle. I thought there might be a case of SQUISH at this point with lego going everywhere as the top of the bottle went on. Happily no SQUISH occurred.
Looking shiny ?
Something that shiny needs something to display it on and I was impressed by how tight this article is. And there's nice detail there too with the sign, the compass and the two rotating globes.
That's missing something isn't it .... I did like the brainwave of hiding the dust on my chair by using a map. I thought a bit of the South Coast would be a suitable backdrop.
There he is ! Looks pleased doesn't he.
And if 4D asks me to draw him like one of those French Dwagons again I will .... get the camera and post it of course.
Last one. A spectacular looking kit. Not sure if it's worth the asking price ? Maybe. It does look amazing though.

If you want to see more build, here's a link to the video from Mr Brickbuilder. And I promised someone that I'd give them a link to the old Falcon build as well. Link !

Cya soon.

PS (Addon) Link to the Lego page - this is the Lego Ideas Ship in A Bottle.

Monday, February 26, 2018

Random thoughts

Randomness today.

It feels like my brain needs to work through some stuff and I need to get that stuff out of the way before better posts can come again. But first .... a teaser ....
The leviathan wakes ?

Perhaps. Those pictures are for a later post.

Yeah, my brain is in a curious place at the moment. It's as if it's forgotten how to get joy. I think I know what's going on :

My conscious mind is fine. My unconscious mind is grieving. So while I can function and on the surface be my usual non-serious joking self, I'm not getting any joy from that or from what I'm doing. It's like going through the motions of what I'm usually like. People have mentioned that I look under more strain than usual.

I think I've mentioned this before, where my perception of something I'm watching or doing is coloured by how I'm feeling at the time. I'm happy - the film is amazing. I'm sad - the film is boring and poor.

It's a phenomenon that I need to watch out for in myself. A kind of reinforcing feedback loop that makes a poor mood worse or in the other side of it, makes a happy mood into something where I can be a bit too much, too hyperactive and upset people who aren't ready for that. I'd rather be happy bouncy than sad though.

I do feel a little odd though that I don't fall apart with grief like what the expectation seems to be. But then that's people dealing with it in their own ways. Our family is more about keeping going in adversity than having adversity stop us doing what we want to do. But I still have that guilt in me that suggests I should be grieving more. The little voice that suggests that something is wrong with me for not grieving more. I still grieve, just in my own way, with memories that are still clear and knowing my brain, will still be clear for decades to come.

Enough of that :-).

I got back on Friday night, indulged in a pizza (it was due), didn't have the ill effects when sleeping that I often get with pizza (hurrah!) and started a new Stellaris game.

There's been a new patch. And an expansion. I don't think I like it ..... there are a few too many bugs in there for my liking, bugs that should have been squished during the development. Most of the ones I've spotted are cosmetic in nature but I was seeing my economy fluctuate for reasons I couldn't pin down to events in game.

I'll give Stellaris a rest for a bit and come back to it after a patch or two. There are loads of other games out there to play. And books that apparently I forgot that I had bought .... Oops. Need to read those.

Yesterday was a few races on Motorsport Manager. It's a hands off game and I quite enjoy overseeing the races. It's a game that punishes errors but can give you big rewards for figuring out a good strategy. One of my core strategies is to reduce the number of pit stops my team needs and the last race of yesterday saw my team get its first win in the top tier. I think we won by 8 seconds ... having taken 2 pit stops fewer than 2nd place. A pit stop takes about 60-80 seconds in that top tier ....

We've been kicking butt at work too, clearing the throughput we have and getting things sorted so that other people can do their parts of getting things done. I can't talk too much about that though but we've definitely been getting things done.

I'm not getting much joy though, just a feeling of job done, what's next ?

That might be a snowpocalypse later in the week ... Another blast of cold air is coming from the North East. Where I live might be shielded by the rest of the country but I hope people don't get caught in it if it's as bad as is being suggested.

Who knows, there might be another chance to make a :

But yeah. Pictures of something awesome are coming;
I'll hopefully perk up around Wednesday evening time;
And hang in there, wherever you are.

If you're struggling, talk to people. Even if it's not about what you're struggling about. Talking to good people is always an excellent way to lift your mood. Try to bring out a chuckle from people, it'll bring out an answering smile in you too.

I think that's another part of my personality, a kind of watch dog that keeps me pointed towards seeing opportunities for fun stuff.

I knew another watch dog :
That's the beloved old man Scruff, seeking belly and throat rubs. Definitely a dedicated watch dog. The religious people who knocked on the door a long time ago were greeted by my mum and a Scruff who wasn't barking, he was rumbling. All the time with a helicopter wagging tail out of sight of said religious people. Would have ruined the image.

Better close now. The trip home for Thursday went well, I got to see family we hadn't seen in years and people from the cricket world from decades ago.

Tuesday, February 20, 2018

Book 7 - Cibola Burn and a little bit of space empiring.

7 down, 45 to go !

I suspect I'm not going to hit that target of 52 books in the year. But I'll enjoy trying to get there.

Picture first !
I'm at it again.
I have no shame when it comes to borrowing memes. Book ?

Book 4 of the Expanse series is Cibola Burn. Humanity is expanding and this book is about the interaction of 3 parties. A group of original colonists who are actually squatters, the second wave who got permission to inhabit the planet and our hardy crew again. (I'm trying to avoid the spoilers for the other books !)

What can I say ? Another enjoyable book in the series. It didn't outstay its welcome for me like Abaddon's Gate did. I felt it was allowed to tell its story in just about the right amount of time. I'm looking forward to the next one now but I have a case of WHAT NEXT before then. It may well be an Alastair Reynolds novel and I have Revelation Space on the Kindle app. I also need to finish the How To Destroy The Universe book.

The onrunning theme in the Expanse books is that they adhere to the rules they've set up. That means no cheating with things like warp drive ... Time spans like a couple of months to cross a solar system, things like that, limits of human physiology instead of cheating by having inertial dampeners to allow higher acceleration. The science fiction is not so much fiction as future science fact. I can see the universe of The Expanse (the human derived side of it at least) becoming science fact in the time scale of the books. The only techs we don't have yet are : cheap spacesuits, accessible fusion power, the massively efficient Epstein thruster and the power armour.

I'm wondering what book 5, Nemesis Games, holds in store.

About that other space empiring thing ...

A game I massively enjoy and am utterly addicted to at the moment is Stellaris. It has a one more turn/month/year factor about it that keeps me glued when I should be doing other things, like going to bed. It's a very pretty, well realised space strategy game and it'll hold my attention for a while yet I'm sure. Here's how my last game finished :
My people are the Elaaminid Prime hive mind race in the SW. We own maybe 1/3 to 1/2 of the galaxy. There is an independent federation in the light blue and a race of Fanatic Purifiers (they're out to murder everyone else) in the dark blue. My hive has become a signatory to the other green empire in the NE.

That's a cunning plan actually ... I wanted to go as far in this game as the end game crisis, where invaders from within, from another galaxy or from another dimension come to try and murder everyone. The end game crises are tough, so I stopped in my conquering in order to keep some allies around ...

The end game crisis didn't occur though, so that's how the game ends. A very satisfying game which was closely balanced between the 3 power blocs ... until I was able to outmaneuver the enemy and start taking chunks of their territory. Patch is coming Thursday though, which I suspect will make this save game unplayable.

I'd want to launch into the new patch mechanics anyway.

But not this Thursday. Gonna be busy / otherwise occupied.

See you at the weekend or next week !

Saturday, February 17, 2018

Service cruising acquiring megaship and bottles

Car service today.
It's been a little delayed (but not much) because of what was going on with my dad but there was a good opportunity to slot in the car service and a little extra today. I hadn't been wanting to arrange it before because there was a good chance of having to break an appointment made before being certain where I'd be.

The car gets serviced where I bought it, up in Cheltenham. Which gives the opportunity to indulge in a little going back home .... the long way. I've actually driven on those roads before, albeit not all the way to Cardiff. I did a little series of comments on the Facebook :

On the one hand, I have a headache and the pressure in my eyes that must be like what a minor migraine is like.

On the other hand, currently in Cheltenham and still intend to make a side trip to Cardiff on the way back.

Sore head but .... There is a Lego shop there ....
Yeah. I had the sore head this morning. I have a bit of a caffeine dependency and it sometimes manifests like the above if I have too much blood in my caffeine stream. Or the sore head could have been due to my glasses being mucky. Either way, a caffeine dependency (any chemical dependency!) is bad and I tackle it at work via having fake (decaff) coffee. The headache is pretty much gone now, so it may have been also partly anxiety headache. I don't like car servicing. I did get a good few chapters of Cibola Burn while waiting though.

The trip to Cardiff was fun for while I was in the countryside roads. There was some great scenery whizzing by. The roads seemed to be molded into the terrain, instead of cutting through the terrain like the modern straight roads do it. Gentle curves keeping things on the flat, things like that. Definitely some pretty countryside and green hills to look at while "OMG WHAT IS THAT DRIVER IN FRONT DOING !" No crashes were had today from not paying attention.

It would be good to visit Wales some more and indulge in that countryside air.

Or more Cardiff and a city I quite enjoyed wandering through today. Until the time came for the homing instinct to take me back to the car park. Homing instinct was broken. It took a while.

Lunch was very good. It would be a waste to go to the chain coffee places when going somewhere new but I found :
Tasty munchies.

I also found a place selling very cheap cds too. Only 6 escaped, although I daftly bought one duplicate. Oops. It was a very cheap cd place so I've only lost £2 there. What did I get ?
Maroon 5 - 1.22.03 Acoustic EP
The White Stripes - De Stijl
T'Pau - The Promise - I had no idea they'd made a third album.
Enya - A Day Without Rain
Belinda Carlisle - The Collection.

I'll enjoy listening to those. But .... Cardiff. Lots of shops. What's the main event ?
Yep. A den of miniature piranha masquerading as ankle biting knee high to grasshopper creatures that will knock you down, trample you and steal your money so they can buy little plastic bricks. (No children were harmed by me today - honest!)

Lego store was packed. It was mayhem ! They had good stuff on display too.
That's the Mega Falcon. Just under 7,500 pieces and it's a monster. The picture belies the size, until you look at the detail and see the mini figures adding scale and the small boxes up above. Even if I acquired that kit and built it, I have no idea where I'd find the space to put it. IT'S MASSIVE !

Lots more there too, including all the kits you'd see in normal shops, more of the rarer kits too like the Saturn V rocket and ....
Ship in Bottle ! That picture may or may not be from my car boot again.

A productive trip today, although I may pay for it tomorrow with a need to hibernate. We shall see.

Closing words ? There are no closing words today. Just :
Beep beep. Boop. Beep.

Monday, February 12, 2018

Orvillean War Trek

So - Monday rolls around and that's often a time to indulge in a couple of bits of scifi.

Well. Not actually Monday for one because I tend to watch The Orville on a weekend after recording it on Thursdays.

It's been a week since I posted ? What have I been up to ? Let's see.

Motorsport Managing. My team grows .... stronger.
Little bit of reading, although I suspect that the Freedom's Landing book may have curbed the enthusiasm a bit. Hopefully Cibola Burn (Expanse book 4) will reawaken it.
Lovely night out on Thursday. I can kinda judge my emotional state by how positive I am when I'm moving around. A stomp means I'm not happy. A bounce means I'm feeling good. I'll still have the latent hyperactivity, that's with me most of the time but the ease with which I move around is tied to my mental state. If I'm feeling good, I can ignore soreness better.
Maze Runner 3 on Friday. Actually a very good final film to this trilogy. The Maze Runner films have done well at presenting beginning, middle and end for each film that made sense and that's continued in number 3. I enjoyed it (despite the presence of old child students who haven't learned to behave in public). You would be utterly lost though if you haven't seen the first two.
Winter Olympics has started ... been watching a bit of that, although stuff from that part of the world happens at a bad time zone for me.
And then I lost track of yesterday in a Stellaris trance.
But this post was supposed to be about the scifi.

We've been doing well lately again for proper space scifi. There was a drought for a few years until programmes like Dark Matter, Killjoys and now The Expanse, The Orville and Star Trek Discovery came back on screen.

It's good to escape the day world every so often and my escape of choice is science fiction. I'm a bit sad that Dark Matter seems to be no more, it grabbed me with an interesting start and seemed to be hitting its stride. Killjoys is different, I thought that was losing its way somewhat. They escalate the story in Killjoys and I don't think the setting handles that escalation particularly well.

I'm transfixed by The Expanse and I'm looking forward to that one coming back. Hopefully they will brighten up that third book which, if they go by previous form, will start in the second half of the third series. It's a compelling vision of the near future and .... the setting makes a lot of sense.

Ok, maybe not the alien part of the setting but they needed a catalyst to get everything else going.

Nah - I wanted to talk about The Orville and Star Trek Discovery more today.

The Orville has been described as Star Trek Next Generation's eighth series. It isn't. It's something different. It's space scifi done for fun .... but it will still (in Gene Roddenberry's words from an audiobook I have) creep up behind you and hit you with a heavy idea or two. (I think I got that right). So in The Orville, we've had ideas like oppression, like forced infant mutilation (the sex change) and I suspect we'll see more as the series continues.

(Yes, my brain is a little broken still from the Stellaris session and it's run out of energy to think with - used it all at work)

The Orville starts with the fun but keeps that reined in so it doesn't become stupid ... And then it hits you over the head with a few heavy ideas that you weren't expecting. While treating you as an adult.

Star Trek Discovery has been different. Very different to what we'd expect from a Star Trek. I wouldn't call it Star Trek, I'd call it War Trek. A darker series than any we've had before. Darker even than Enterprise, which was being dragged down by the grim scifi trend at the time of its release. (The trend of Stargate Universe and the Battlestar Galactica remake).

Not every Trekkie will like Discovery. Some will decry it as heresy. I liked it. But then I'm never one to go with herd instinct, I'll experience something and make my own mind up about it.

I can't say too much about Discovery without dropping major spoilers but it was great to see the unexpected events coming in throughout an exceptionally strong second half to the first series.

Check 'em out !

Definitely The Expanse for drama. The Orville for fun. And Discovery for .... shocks ? Surprises ?

I need to eat a dictionary for more words. I feel like I do not have enough words at the moment. But I'll go for something from Thursday instead :

Tuesday, February 06, 2018

Acquiring Things At The Mall

I've been at the Mall tonight and I've acquired something ...

Tonight was going to be spent watching the first Falcon Heavy rocket launch which will hopefully still happen soon. Instead of letting loose a single rocket, this one is effectively 3 Falcon 9 first stages strapped together with a second stage on top. They plan to land all three first stages and then have the payload, Elon Musk's Tesla Roadset, head on over to Mars.

I hope it succeeds ! Anyway that was originally scheduled to go at 6.30pm UK time but the launch has been pushed back due to high winds. I just heard the webcast start up in another window.

I spotted something similarly spectacular earlier too ...
What might that be ?

It's the Ultimate Collector Series version of the Star Wars Millennium Falcon (Lego shop link, don't look at the price). At 7,541 pieces, it is the biggest Lego set to date. Bigger than the Death Star even. It's rarer than Plutonium. And John Lewis had one on the shelf today. The bottom shelf mind, probably cos no one is going to want to lift that to the top shelf and it would make a big dent in anyone taking a casual look at it.

They were offering complementary wheels to go with this so you could easily take it out of the Lego shops.

I've seen this one being put together as well. I've been keeping an eye on the Brickbuilder Youtube channel and while they've been on a bit of a break or building very small kits lately, this is their speed build of the big Falcon. I may watch that again at some point. All 52 minutes of (ahem) speed build.

Actually, I may have my answer for Next Lego Set from peeking at the Lego Shop. Check out this ship in a bottle. Very curious.

Ooooo - the Spacex webcast for Falcon Heavy just kicked off (if in time, here it is : http://www.spacex.com/webcast ). Not long to launch !

I better get to watching.

Oh ! What did I buy at the Mall ? I did not, sadly, buy an enormous Lego Millennium Falcon. A shame as it would complete my set of 3 so far. (Actually there's another small one available now that I don't have)

I nearly got locked out of my house yesterday ... I've already replaced the top lock and the lower lock is getting stiffer. It didn't want to turn for a while yesterday, so I've taken the hint and today's acquisition was a very boring :

House front door lock.
Yep. Adulting again.

I try not to make a habit of it but it's cold out there at the moment and I don't want to be locked out ! The locks of this place have done well. I've lived here for 16 years now and the locks are older than that. Hopefully the lock won't break before I get a chance to do locksmith things ...

PS Post launch addendum ...
Those are the two side boosters, they reported that the core landed too and that Tesla is on its way to Mars with a "DON'T PANIC" on the dash. Awesome stuff.

Monday, February 05, 2018

Book 6 Freedom's Landing vs Discovery

I finished off book 6 last night ! And then promptly bought and started another one.
The finished off book was Freedom's Landing by Anne McCaffrey who is much better known for the excellent Dragonriders of Pern series.

What did I think ? It could be a sign of continuing inward downward feelings but ... meh. You expect a book to have a beginning, middle and end. Even the books in the Dragonriders series that ran straight into another book had a beginning, middle and end. So too for the excellent Talents books. A book needs a beginning, middle and end.

This one had a beginning ... a second beginning ... more expansion on the beginning and ... eventually a bit of middle. I didn't detect a proper ending. This one is the first in a series of 4 and I'm not convinced that I'll acquire the other 3. But .... what's it about ?

Our central character is abducted along with an alien Catteni and dropped, along with about 500 others onto a mysterious planet. It looks benign. Tame even. As the story unfolds, we learn it is a farm planet for unidentified aliens. I'm sure those would come out more in the next books. (I have cheated and read the synopsises on ... that place online wot doesn't pay its taxes). This apparently benign planet has its dangers, which our main characters steadily find out about.

It's more about the limited interplay between the characters plus a light examination of the prejudices between people who are different and prejudices that are introduced by people who are just ... arseholes.

It's not nearly in the same league as those Dragonriders of Pern books that I grew up with ... but those were exceptional books from a hugely talented author. Perhaps the plan behind the book was what went wrong with this one. I don't think I'll be getting any more books in the Freedom's Landing series but it has made me want to re-read some of those books from long ago again. Like Restoree, like the Crystal Singer series (that had the word "unprintable" all the way through in a hamfisted effort of censorship of rude words !), like the excellent and always interesting Talents series. And the Planet Pirates series with Sassinak that drew my attention to Elizabeth Moon, who will get at least one entry in this series of 52 books.

The next book is the 4th in The Expanse series. An interesting start already. I must dive into more !

Discovery ?

This had a somewhat rocky start and is rather different to most Star Trek series. It's harder, grittier, befitting a series set in desperate war time against the most formidable enemy the Federation has come up against.

Discovery is following a definite series arc but it's doing that through episodes that lead you in gently at the beginning, that develop their story in the middle and give you a very definite "OMG WTH !" feeling at the ending as they pull out yet another surprise on you that you think you should have seen coming as the middle of the episode develops but is unveiled with a certain style and panache.

Not so much with the pre Xmas first half of the arc but this second half of the series has been exceptional throughout. I continue to watch with much curiosity. I want to see how they (spoilers redacted) ... finish it off.

Well worth signing up to the Netflixes for. I think I'll be binge rewatching it when the series is fully finished. It's not Trek. It's War-Trek. And they're doing a hell of a job with it.

Haha, just like what the people bringing the Expanse novels to the screen are managing to do !

Saturday, February 03, 2018

Boat Building

I was going to write about how I stay sane ...

But then Stellaris happened ... And that's one of those games that's really good at grabbing the attention. Anyway, one of those ways of keeping myself sane is to build things ...

What's the latest construction to arrive ? I did a teaser picture the other day ...
That has just enough information to tell you what it is (if you take the 42074 code over to the lego websites).
As always, click for bigger. These are pictures transferred straight from the phone again, so there's lots more pixels to look at. Just don't mind the dust on my couch !

Every ship build starts with a central point. A keel. It's typically the bottom centre of the boat, although modern ship building techniques are usually more about module builds, where they put together the ship in big blocks and then weld the blocks together. There are a number of fascinating videos about building modern warships and ocean liners, I'd thoroughly recommend them if you're interested in the engineering behind the ships.
The aft section comes in to encase the rudder.
Ocean racing yachts tend to be dual control machines, where the rudder is controlled from either side of the boat. That's to make sure the weight distribution is right. The wind tries to push the boat over, the sailors all try and be on the other side to balance the forces from the wind.
I think my helper is wanting me to photo him like those French Dragon Ladies he's heard about. I must be more careful with that internet search history.
The central hull starts coming together. We'll come back to the mechanism in the centre.
And 4D the dragon helps us take a better look at the almost complete bow. The odd looking Lego thing hanging off the front actually recesses back in to the hull when the yacht is complete.
The hull of the yacht is all complete now, with the bow area enclosed. That's where the sails go on a real racing yacht, with the sailors sleeping around the sails.

Hmm. 4D looks like he has designs on that yacht in the same way as a sea monster Kraken would. He must be seeing things in that internet history again.
And the completed yacht with her sails !!!

I quite enjoyed this build. Lego can be very cathartic to play with as it starts from totally unconnected bricks and gradually unveils its mystery of what's coming together. For a technic kit, this one was quite simple with just a few moving parts but it's still one of the better kits. Most Lego Technic tends to be cars and trucks which for me are : Seen one, seen all of them. The yacht is something a little different.

Let's have a look from another angle :
4D helping out again.

The boom of the mainsail moves (the mechanism from earlier) and the yacht has a working rudder. It's lovely to see and touch the moving parts and how they intricately interplay with each other.

A simpler kit but that's ok. I had as much enjoyment out of seeing this one come together as some of the bigger kits. What's next ? Could be another car ... Maybe.

Until the next kit !

Haha, could be this one, rebuilt as the catamaran double hull yacht.