Friday, 16 September 2011

i need this

The weekend is rapidly approaching, and boy do I need it.

It's been a tough week at work, not least of all because several people seem to have gone on holiday at the same time.  That's meant that I've had to pick up a lot of stuff from them on top of my regular stuff.

There have been several things that have therefore gone un-loved if I'm honest.  And if I hadn't managed to clear off some of my own stuff before this week I wouldn't have managed to done most of them.

So it's been hectic.

The real problem recently is that we've had lots of requirements come in.  Usually we see a handful a month, but just recently it's been more like a handful every day.  And while most are pretty small things, they all need several days of effort.  And when you're a relatively small company everyone quickly gets maxed out with stuff to do.

But the real headache comes when you try to rationalise them - we won't do that one, but we will do those two, that sort of thing.  The problem for us is, because of how we work, it's difficult to really make those decisions straight away.

I mean, you can make them, but often you're simply chopping things off without really investigating.  And the investigation is the bit that takes time.  So it's a bit of a no win situation - if you do the exploration, you expend quite a bit of effort and may either end up with nothing or generate a lot of work for yourself.  If you don't do the exploration, you could be consigning the best opportunity you've ever seen to the dustbin and never know it.

Anyway, enough moaning.  And not that the weekend will be much of a rest.

It's a cleaning weekend, and that means starting off with a load of washing up at the laundrette.  I'm actually going to have to do three bags worth this weekend, so I hope it's not busy, as I'll need multiple machine and even more tumble dryers to get through it all.

Then I'll actually clean the flat and I'll probably give it a bit more of a thorough clean than normal, as it's a while since I did a thorough clean.  Then I'll go for a walk and all that before lunch.  It's no wonder I end up knackered on the Sunday.  Ideally I'd spread things out a bit more, but I couldn't work out how to do that and not simply end up impacting on other stuff instead.

Thursday, 15 September 2011


I rearranged my DVDs and books. Again... again.

I liked the idea of my plan when I rearranged them last time, but the results were a bit of a mess.  The big problem was that I mixed stuff up and tried to put books, anime and normal DVDs all together.

Trouble was the ‘slots’ on the shelf weren’t the right size and so what I ended up with was more like a jumble of stuff where I was trying for a more sensible order to watch stuff in.

My new arrangement tries to keep things together - so all my books are back over on the other book shelf, for example - and instead I’ve focused more on putting the groups into a sensible order to watch them in.  So in other words, all the books are together, all the normal DVDs are together and all the anime is together, but what I‘ve done is put those groups into an order where I can watch stuff from the top down.

Well, I say that, but there is one shelf that’s ended up as a random mix of stuff.  I’m not too fussed about that, because it’s more a reflection of the stupid amount of DVDs I’ve got to watch than any real failure in my ordering.

There was also an ulterior motive for my rearrangement.

Basically, I couldn’t find my copy of High School of the Dead.  HOTD was released last week on the Bank Holiday Monday an I’d pre-ordered the Blu-Ray version almost as soon as it was announced.  But I couldn’t find it.

I say I couldn’t find it because I was sure I’d received it.  I had a memory of being a little disappointed with the image they’d put on the Blu-Rays.  I also vaguely remembered unwrapping it and, more importantly, I checked my e-mail and Amazon had sent it on the Bank Holiday.

Now obviously there was the possibility that I hadn’t actually received it, but as I say, I was sure I had, but I couldn’t find it.  I have a small stack of Blu-Rays and it should have been with them, but no sign.

Therefore, by sorting out the mess I’d created with my last re-arrange, it gave me a chance to look through the piles and see if I’d put it somewhere odd.  But there was no sign.

And then, a couple of days after I’d basically decided I’d somehow lost it (perhaps doing something silly like chucking it away like I did with a volume of Bakuman) it turned up in the post.  It had taken some 8 days to arrive.  Now to be fair I do use the Amazon slow and free service and of course if they posted it on the bank holiday, it wouldn’t actually get picked up until later, but still, I think that’s the longest I’ve ever had it take to get to me.

I’ve actually cancelled a lot of the stuff I pre-ordered on Amazon - manga, mostly.  I‘m actually rather skint (all this dental work I’ve had to have has really not helped me) and I need to get more stuff on e-bay.  I’ve got quite a lot lined up - not least of all because I’ve been watching stuff on DVD - but I just don’t seem to be able to find the time to sit down and take photos and write the stuff for the auction pages.

Wednesday, 14 September 2011

the thing

John Carpenter's The Thing was the first Blu Ray I bought.

It was also the first Blu Ray I watched.  Or at least, the first Blu Ray I tried to watch.  I then discovered that there's actually no Blu Ray player software built into windows, so I had to install Power DVD.

I then discovered that there appears to be some protection that appears to prevent you from playing Blu Rays via a DVI cable.  I knew there was region protection and if I was to eventually play Blu Rays from other regions I'd need some form of cracking software.  I hadn't appreciated I'd also need it in order to watch any Blu Rays from a computer on my telly.

That's a long winded way of saying that by the time I'd sorted all those issues out I'd actually acquired several Blu Rays (and had basically decided that actually I need to buy a proper region free Blu-Ray, but that doing so appears to be a bit of a hassle, as players are not (yet anyway) sold as being multi-region like DVD players are) and watched them.

So why did I pick a cult SF/horror film from the early 1980s as my first Blu Ray?

Well The Thing represents something of a high water mark in terms of physical creature effects.  Yes it does look a bit dated, but what makes up for that is the wild, twisted imagination.  There's stuff in there that is so bonkers they've still not really matched it.  And the fact it was done physically then makes it even more special.

Really The Thing is two movies stuck together.  One film is a paranoid action thriller and the other is a bonkers creature horror film.  Of course this could have been a real disaster, but both elements work so well and gel together so well they end up enhancing each other, rather than detracting.

Of course, the film isn't without its flaws.  On particularly big one is quite why these people are down in the Antarctic anyway.  There are quite a few of them and they're a real rag tag bunch of misfits, which is fair enough, but why are they there?  Are they supposed to be scientists?  Only one of them actually appears to be a scientist, and one a doctor.  Some of the rest have clear jobs (radio operator, pilot), but the rest are just random people.

And the other question is how come they have so many guns and, more importantly, flame throwers?  You could maybe understand there being one rifle, just in case, but there aren't any particularly nasty threats down there.  For example, it's a common misconception that polar bears live on the south pole, but in fact they're entirely based at the north pole.

There are penguins, seals and whales of course, but they're hardly a threat.  And even if they were, a rifle or two would be okay, but flame throwers?  And we're talking proper flame throwers, not improvised things.

But setting things like that asides, as a film it's really great (well, assuming horror his your thing, of course).

Tuesday, 13 September 2011

dampened again

Got a bit of a soaking again this last Sunday on my walk.

I went a bit earlier than I usually do, as I’d checked the forecast and it suggested the rain would come at about lunchtime.  In the end it was quite sunny across lunch.  I think the forecasts were struggling a bit this last weekend because apparently the leftovers of a hurricane were drifting over us.

I didn’t get too wet, as it was more like a short sharp shower than the monsoon I suffered with last weekend.

I also put on a pound at my weigh in.  This was a reflection of stupidity on my part, as I bought too much food and ended up having to eat up some stuff.  I also bought a few naughty things and didn’t get quite as much chance to go for walks during the week as I’d normally expect.  The problem was the weather again, as it seemed to rain quite heavily early on and at lunchtime for some reason.

Part of the issue I’ve been having just recently is I’ve discovered some other options for things I can eat that aren’t too bad calorie wise.  Well, no, the problem is that I’ve discovered these things but haven’t properly worked out how to include them n my meal plans.

I therefore seem to keep ending up with multiple things to eat which obviously actually boosts my calorie intake, despite the specific things I’m eating not being bad in and of themselves as such.

Another weird problem is doing my own washing.

I used to drop my washing off on Wednesday or Thursday, when I would also nip into Sainsburys and pick up some rolls (and some naughty stuff in recent months) but also, crucially, I would pick up a copy of the Radio Times.

Now I do my own washing at the weekend, and I’ve not quite worked out a new strategy for when I go and buy my RT.  I know it shouldn’t be complicate, but it’s been throwing me a bit as it’s a lot simpler to just pick up an RT and it seems to encourage me to buy more naughty stuff as well.

I dunno, as I type it out it doesn’t seem that complicated, but I’ve certainly been struggling for some reason.

I also know I’m in real danger of finding excuses to cover what is me simply not exercising the will power that allowed me to do my initial weight loss.

Monday, 12 September 2011

viva italien

It was the Italian Grand Prix this last weekend.

It’s held at the Monza circuit, which is almost flat out - the track is mostly long straights with only a handful of corners.  They’ve actually added a few chicanes over the years to try to slow things down, but even with them it still only takes about an hour and 20 minutes to run.

When you think that some f the tracks (Singapore in particular) they’re often banging up against the two hour limit and that all races are intended to be about 200miles long (I think - there’s certainly an intended length) it dhows you how quick it is.

Despite that, the race was not normally one of my favourites.  See, while fast is probably great when you’re at the circuit, on TV it’s one of the first things you loose.  It also tended to make things processional - you don’t normally overtaken the straights, you overtaken the corners, out breaking or out manoeuvring the other guy.

But this weekend’s race was great, and I think is probably another testament to the clever things the Pirelli guys have done with the tyres.  There were also two DRS zones and I have to say it seemed to be giving the types of overtakes I’m not a fan of, where they just use the DRS to overtaken the straight, which is boring.

The race was also enlivened by a big battle between Lewis Hamilton and Michael Schumacher.  Schumacher managed to sneak ahead of Lewis in the first couple of laps and then Lewis seemed to really struggle to get around him.

There seemed to be a few clear reasons for that.  Firstly, the Mclaren also uses the Mercedes engine, which is acknowledged to be about the most powerful on the grid at the moment.  Also Mercedes had gone for a slightly different strategy, using a very skinny wing that didn’t have a DRS flap, but also, crucially, gearing the car higher so it could take better advantage of the high speeds.

That meant Lewis didn’t have a particular advantage, but also I think he wanted to be a little more cautious and be sure to finish the race.  Also, and it has to be said, Schumacher was, while not really breaking the rules, flirting with them.  What he was doing would have been fine a few years ago, but nowadays they’ve added rules about how you can move about on the track.

Now there was no punishment, but it was odd that Ross Brawn seemed to have to warn Schumacher to leave room for Lewis.

Unfortunately, from a championship point of view, Vettel won, which means he’s got it all but sewn up.  Especially since Webber smashed into Massa and didn’t finish.