Thursday, 21 April 2011


It's the first of the long bank holiday weekends from tomorrow.

Unlike half the country, I'm not taking next week off, so I'll be in work on the Tuesday to Thursday. I'm kinda hoping that they're really quiet as we've been so busy at work it's been stupid.

My plans for the Easter weekend are pretty boring.

My main intention is to do the whole swapping over of spring and winter clothes from the shed and also to give my bedsit a bit of a spring clean.

Actually that's not fully true. As per usual, I've put together a big old to do list/schedule thing and I've been way too ambitious about what's actually achievable in this one weekend. So I've also got it down to do all the backup stuff and to sort through my scans and other images (these make sense since I keep the backup drives in the shed) and to sort through the audio books and animes I need to burn. Plus I've also tentatively got giving the car a clean in there too.

But then I've also decided to do a roast to use up the hunk of meat that's been in my freezers since Christmas (part of the spring clean will involve defrosting the freezer, so a perfect time to use it) and getting my haircut and...

This is clearly way too much, but then it wouldn't be one of my holidays if I didn't have unrealistic expectations as to how much I can do in a day.

I was actually thinking that I might use the next few weeks to catch up on my reviews. I've written quite a few reviews that I should really post on the blog, so I may use the next few weeks to get them up.

I've actually been thinking I might get rid of all of my websites and just keep various blogs going. It seems daft having some of the websites and I'm perfectly happy with how this blog operates. It's a hell of a lot simpler to update, for example.

I'll probably hold onto my domain, but just not have an actual website.

Wednesday, 20 April 2011

like a bloody see-saw

Well, as seems to have become the "pattern" recently, I can't quite figure out why this week's weigh in revealed what it did.

That revelation was that I'd apparently lost 1 pound, despite having eaten lots of very naughty stuff at the birthday celebrations on Saturday. That was also adding on to the fact that on that Saturday my pedometer registered fewer than 1,000 steps.

Usually at the weekend I try to go for a short walk in the morning of around 3,500 steps and then a longer walk in the afternoon that take the total squarely over 10,000 steps. So doing less than a tenth of that meant I was not burning many of the additional calories, or helping to maintain a high metabolism or any of that other useful stuff exercise does.

I did go for a particularly long walk on Sunday afternoon to try to compensate a bit, although that was obviously after I'd done my weigh in in the morning. Also, because I obviously got back very late I actually had a lie in on Sunday morning, rather than go for a walk, so the net number of steps wasn't really increased.

Anyway, obviously a loss is always good, so I'm not complaining, but in terms of my target of 19 stone by my birthday I'm quite a way off. My birthday is in 2 weeks and I'm 11 pounds away, which is unfeasible and would probably be a little dangerous to loose that much that quickly.

Luckily, I've obviously got lots of days off coming up, so I can do lots more walking and a brief blip for the actual day of my birthday aside, I should be much better placed to control my food intake.

Unfortunately, my proper holiday is after my birthday, so the real opportunity for doing some serious walking and dieting is technically after my target date, but I don't think it would be too bad if I got reasonably close to 19 stone for the weekend after my birthday.

I am definitely going to have to buy some new walking shoes, though. My current pair, which aren't very old at all, are already starting to fall apart. To be fair they were quite a cheap pair and I have gotten a lot of use out of them, but still, it would have been nice if they could have lasted longer. I should also probably get some new walking socks too - my current pairs have all got holes in.

I'm going to have a couple of sessions to get stuff for the Grand Prix later in the year, so I'll just add these to the list.

Tuesday, 19 April 2011

chinese grand prix

Well, as mentioned yesterday, it was the Chinese grand prix this last weekend.

It was another action-packed, non-stop race. I seem to recall the Chinese is normally one of the better ones among the newer circuits, but I don't recall it being quite as intensely busy as this year.

It seems pretty sure then that this increase in stuff is as a result of all the changes that they brought in for this season. The biggest impact seems to come from the Pirelli tyres, which have been specially designed to be nice and grippy for a relatively short period of time and then to "fall off a cliff", dramatically loosing grip.

This means that if you're on a newer set of tyres you'll stand a chance of catching and overtaking your opponents. And that means two things - firstly conserving and being kind to your tyres can pay dividends and secondly that tactics such as making sure you're on the right tyres at the right time become very important.

Now the first of these could potentially lead to an element of endurance racing. We've seen that Sauber have consistently managed to do fewer pit stops and this has meant they've tended to end up being higher up the order than you might otherwise expect.

Of course you could argue this leads to less exciting racing due to less overtaking, but actually I don't mind this, because a big part of F1 has always been the tactical element. The difference now is that the tactics can be played out in lots of different ways and involve the driver and dynamic decision making.

The problem with what happened to the tactical element in recent seasons is that all the teams would run simulations and computer models and all come up with the same results. Also, because bringing in your driver slightly later than the other guy was often the way to go, it meant things were predictable. Now, if he comes in sooner than you he'll have a lot more grip and may overtake you - it's more dynamic, more interesting.

Which again comes around the first point of conserving and being kind to your tyres. This weekend showed that Lewis Hamilton was able to create an advantage for himself by saving a set of fresh tyres for the actual race instead of using them in qualifying. This didn't detract from qualifying, but it did make things more exciting in the race.

It also involves the driver in the tactics more and again adds complexity and interest. I guess a way to think about it is that there are now so many permutations and options for drivers and teams that the predictive, simulation element of the tactics becomes much more difficult and less certain - it's not necessarily going to turn out as they'd planned.

These are all good changes that have really helped. It remains to be seen whether they'll only really enhance the racing at certain tracks. Australian didn't benefit so much, so I'm guessing some other circuits won't, but they do seem to have actually had the desired impact this year.

One weird thing though is it does actually emphasise the point about aerodynamics in a weird way. The cars have become so reliant on aero-based grip that clearly a much less artificial way to affect the racing might have been to give them bigger, fatter tyres.

Increasing the mechanical grip so that aero doesn't matter as much might have been a simpler way around it. Especially since they seem to be unable to find ways to really curb the aero.

Monday, 18 April 2011

two hours my arse

So, as mentioned on Friday, something a little different this last weekend, in that I went to see a friend whose birthday it was on Saturday.

The day's festivities started with me baking some chocolate cupcakes. These turned out okay - I was a little worried I'd make a mess of them as, with the diet and all, I've not done any baking in well over a year. The chocolate butter cream icing was the thing turned out to be the most difficult - I had to look up the recipe as Id' completely forgotten and when it came time to pipe it I had a bugger of a time remembering how to do a piping bag.

While I was baking I also watched the qualifying for the Chinese GP, which I'll talk about more tomorrow, but it meant I didn't set off until about 11. Google maps had the journey time down as two hours, but I dunno how they work that out.

The M1 was closed (and it still partly closed) due to a fire, so traffic was heavy in places, but also the widening work on the M25 which seems to have been going on for years was still poxing things up. But then even on the way back when there was no traffic it took be more than 2 and a half hours, so I dunno how they work it out, but it's clearly not realistic.

Anyway, the day itself mainly involved watching movies. Specifically we watched the Poseidon adventure (the 70s one), Hackers and a film called Lady in White.

I've seen the first two of these, but clearly not as many times as everyone else. It reminded me actually of when I was a student and how obsessed we all were with the Python films - many of us could quote the entire script, but I wasn't that familiar with these films.

I remember the Poseidon adventure as mainly being about the capsizing of the boat and the escape. That was obviously the main part of the film, but I was surprised by how much before it there was and how random it all seemed.

I mean, I think the idea was it was supposed to be a cruise ship, but most of the passengers seemed to be using it almost like a ferry - going to specific destinations. All of which were in the med, but almost everyone was an American. But on top of that there was apparently this 'company man' (boo, evil corporations) who was ordering the captain around (famously, Leslie Nielson before he moved into comedy) because they wanted to break the ship up and it was running late.

So it's taking all the passengers, yet it's on its way to the breakers. Weird. weirder still was the captain's obsession with ballast. It reminded me actually of the towering inferno, where the "company men" are responsible for cutting corners, which causes the fire in the sky scraper. There it makes sense as the cause, but here the 'company man' and the ballast thing seem irrelevant in the face of a giant wave hitting the ship.

I'm pretty sure I've ranted on here before about the sins Hackers commits in terms of its depiction of what computers can and can't do, though not specifically in regards to that film.

The last film, Lady in White, was a very strange beast. It was a really weird hybrid of a movie, being part ghost story and part murder mystery, but it also had some really odd stuff in it. A good example of this is that at one point the main character is strangled, but his near death experience seemed to involve him flying towards the sun, which seemed very random. There was also this weird thread to it about racism, with a "well the black guy clearly did it" attitude from the police that seemed like quite an afterthought.

The thing I found most odd about it was the tone. When I was a kid they sometimes used to show films on Friday afternoon in the kids TV slot. These were films squarely aimed at children and also had a strong "made for TV" feel. Well, this seemed very much like one of those films, but equally there was stuff in it that didn't really seem kid friendly - I mean, it was essentially about paedophile / child murderer :/.

Anyway, I had fun. The food was particularly good, with a home made pizza and delicious brownie cake.