Friday, 30 September 2011


I've been pre-writting most of my entries for the last few weeks.

I've mentioned this before on here - it's basically where I try to pre-write a bunch of posts at the weekend so that they're ready to just slap on the blog when the days roll around.  The big advantage of this is that, if the week is very busy, I don't end up missing days simply because I didn't have the time to write an entry.

The disadvantage is of course that the blogs tend to be about roughly relevant stuff, but aren't 100% current.  This is especially true of the later posts in the week, where something important may have happened early in the week, but I don't mention it until the week after.  Or I forget and don't mention it at all.

To be fair, I don't think it's such a problem because my blog has kinda always had elements of that anyway.  I mean, for ages now I've been posting mini reviews on Wednesday and Tuesday or Thursday are generally a reflection on the previous Sunday's weigh in and the previous week's dieting and walking progress.  Then of course during GP season, many Friday's and Mondays have at least some content relevant to the weekend's race.

So in other words, the blog is often not really about 100% current stuff.  I mean, fundamentally I try to do the blog as a Monday to Friday one post a day thing, but of course life is often not like that - loads of important (or bloggable anyway) stuff may happen during one week, but then nothing happens for the next couple of weeks.

But one thing I have found with all this pre-blogging is it's given me an opportunity to use my laptop more.  I've been sitting on my bed tapping away at the laptop most Sunday afternoons, post race, and it's been quite a good way to do it.

The only real problem I've been having is that my laptop space bar seems to be really unresponsive.  I don't really know if it's a reflection of my technique, or some problem with the laptop design or something that's not working properly, though.

I can't touch type.  I wish I could and I did have the opportunity to teach myself when I was younger, but never really put the effort in.  However, one small thing that was part of touch typing (well, I think it is) did seem to become a habit, which was using my thumb to hit the space bar.

I therefore don't really single-finger type either.  My technique s an odd sort of both index fingers (one on each half of the keyboard) combined with the occasional use of the middle and ring fingers on my right hand and my right thumb for the space bar and then random occasional use of both my pinkie fingers for shift keys.

I'm very right handed, which is part of why I use some of the other fingers on my right hand, but also, most of the more occasionally used stuff, like delete keys and semi-colons is on the right had side of a standard qwerty keyboard.

But also, one of the other main features is I have a map of where the keys are in my head.  So although it's not proper touch typing, I can type for long segments looking at the screen like a touch typist would.

Anyway, the point is I use my thumb to hit the space bar and a lot of the time the keyboard on my laptop doesn't seem to pick it up, so I end up with three or even four words stuck together.  It's quite annoying when you're reviewing or spell checking to unpick the words.

And I'm pretty sure it is my laptop, as it's never happened with other keyboards, and I recall always having this problem.  In particular when I was fooling myself into thinking I might try to become a writer I used my laptop a lot (indeed, that's kinda why I'd bought it) and had the same issue with missed spaces.

Thursday, 29 September 2011

shelves of doom

I mentioned last week I would take some pics of my shelves, so I thought I'd present those today.

There are actually two shelves.

First is the one on the right.

A: Ink Cartridges
B: Some of my important documents.
C: Stack of important (and non-important, to be frank) documents that I haven't sorted out yet (though I'll need to go through them soon as I need to find something).  Plus this is where I keep my TV listing and all my remote controls.
D: These are basically piles of anime where I've bought and imported the original Japanese anime version (and I wonder why I'm skint).  I'm also in the process of collecting the western versions and my hope is that this combo will sell quite well on e-bay.  I'm somewhat afraid that actually they won't sell at all well, so I'm also kinda ignoring them.

E: This shelf is where I keep all the unscanned Japanese anime magazines.  As you can see, it's a fair pile, but it's a lot smaller than it was.  There used to be so many that they lived on the shelf below, which is much taller.
F: These are my PC games.  The ones in the front row are those I haven't really played much yet, if at all, and the ones in the back are ones I have played and want to hold on too or want to play a bit more, but feel I should really do something about those unplayed ones first.
G: And this is the core stack of anime.  As you can see it's quite a deep shelf and you have to remember that these are stacked in two piles, one in front of the other.  That's a lot of unwatched stuff.  It's also the stuff I've prioritised to watch "first" which obviously means I have a couple of other stacks of stuff I want to watch "after" :/.

H: This stack (again, double depth) is the real life TV series (or at least non-anime and non-film) all unwatched (well, I'll have watch the majority of the actual shows when they were broadcast, but I've not watched the DVDs).
I: This stack is "films".  Again, double depth and featuring a mix of live action, foreign and anime.
J: This is my cheater stack, where I've stacked up all those series I'm in the middle of.  It's yet another way of excluding stuff from the to watch pile because I like to marathon things.
K: These cake boxes contain all of the audio books that I've already listened to.  I like to listen to audio books while I walk.  as you can see I walk quite a bit.
L: This is the main chunk of box files containing important documents.
M: My digital radio which wakes me up in the morning.  I got it as a present from my Dad and was worried I might not be able to get a signal, but actually it's great.  My digital telly is problematic, but I think it's because the aerial is pointing at the London region antennae, rather than the Meridian, which is a lot closer.  Also we've still not switched over to full digital service in either region, so signal strength is lower than it could be anyway.
N: These stacks are original Japanese manga that I'm disassembling in order that I can scan the big spreads and dramatic images.  It's really a hang over from when I used to make wallpapers and I used to find new/different/original content by doing this.  Now they're just stuck in the huge scanning backlog (they're sell for a pittance on e-bay, so this way they at least get put to some use before being chucked away)
O: My right speaker, perfectly positioned so I get great stereo effect when watching DVDs or Blu-Ray... except of course I stuck a bunch of stuff in front of it :/.

Second is the one on the left.

P: The other speaker
Q: The overspill pile.  It's mainly anime, but there's plenty of normal TV stuff in there too.  My intention is to watch this stuff after the other stuff... yeah, because I'm ever going to get through all that other stuff :/.
R: My unread books.

 S: VHS Tapes - burn the heretic!  They're old anime VHS tapes that I felt guilty about chucking away without rewatching at least once.
T: Supposed to be my unread manga pile, but they actually spill down on to the shelf below.  I've actually not being doing so bad recently with keeping on top of reading manga.
U: This is ostensibly my western comics to read pile, but it also has a bunch of CD old/empty jewel case I intended to use as spare parts to replace broken ones, but have never gotten around to.
V: These are the CDs I'm hanging on to for now.  There's two stacking crates into eh kitchen of CDs I either want to e-bay (god, the effort required) or sell on one of those "sell your DVD sites" (bound to be a rip off).
W: These fans were headed out to the garage.  Well, until this current heat wave so now they're sort of back in use.
X: I'm rapidly running out of letter, so, from left to right we've got: The DVDs I plan to take to watch on my upcoming holiday; CD cake boxes containing fansubs (I'm supposed to be sorting through them but got distracted half way); my Blu-Rays (I promised myself I wouldn't let it grow :() and a box of software.
Y: These spindles are the blank ones with DVDs and (out of picture) CDs for burning stuff on too.  Oh, and some pants.

So there you go.  The perfect shopping list for burglars.  Well, burglar nerds.  Which is very different to nerd burglars.

Wednesday, 28 September 2011


Luc Besson is a director/writer I have a bit of a mixed reaction too.

He's made some stuff I've really liked - Nikita, Fifth Element, The first Transporter - and other stuff, like the Transporter sequels, I've really struggled with.  Taxi is probably a perfect example of the later.

There's a lot to like in the film - some interesting characters, some really great car chases, some nice funny stuff - and a lot that just doesn't work.  The problem for me is that one of the key things that doesn't work is the plot.  And for me, plot is one of the key elements of film.

Don't get me wrong, visual spectacle is one of the things that makes cinema an amazing art form and I'll happily watch something that's just purely visually interesting.  Trouble is a film like this they're trying to make the plot more important than that, and, to be frank, the plot was a horrible pastiche of bits of ideas pinched from other films and stuck together in a way that can only really be described as rubbish.

Also, I have to say the acting was rather hammy.  One of the things I always noticed with Hong Kong cinema was the hammy over-acting.  Everyone would over-act all the time.  If you were a bad guy you'd slope around making mean faces and being all menacing all the time.

Taxi seems to have the same bug (I specifically used HK as an example as Taxi seems really heavily influenced by HK cinema).  It doesn't feel natural or real or even like it's vaguely attempting to be either.  And it doesn't really even work as camp or something like that.

Tonally it just feels odd.

Also, there are lots of stupid bits in it that don't make sense.  For example, there's one bit where the guy says he'll be back in a couple of hours and it's clearly the best part of a day before he returns.  Now to be fair it's part of an ongoing gag, but even so, why he takes the best part of a day to return isn't clear.  There'd have been loads of chances for him to pop back for a few hours or call - he wasn't tied up in a basement or anything.

I'm being very harsh on the film.  It has a lot of fine Luc Besson stuff in it, and it's punchy and amusing and quite diverting, it's just that it feels lazily and haphazardly written and a lot of it doesn't make any real sense.  It's predictable, hackneyed and a bit lazy, to be frank.

Tuesday, 27 September 2011

confusion reigns

I ate loads of crap last week and so got on the scales expecting a gain, but found I'd lost a pound.

I really found it all very confusing.  The only theory I've got is that all the work I've been doing has really been sucking the energy out of me and also I had real trouble sleeping on Thursday night.

It was actually one of the weirdest bouts of insomnia I've ever had, in that I didn't actually feel tired.  Well, I felt a bit tired, but not like I do after I've had one of my normal bouts of insomnia.

I've a feeling I did manage to get some sleep at the beginning and that, in effect, I actually just got up at about 1:30 in the morning.  But as I say, when it became apparent that I really wasn't actually tired enough to make it even worth trying to go back to sleep, instead I watched some telly.

Usually that would then mean I'd be shattered during the day, but as I say, I was just a little bit tired - nothing particularly over what I'd expect for a Thursday after a busy week.

I did also manage to keep walking during the week.  I think that helped keep the old metabolism ticking over and get the proverbial blood flowing, but I dunno, there's clearly something in the whole lack of sleep thing that means I do burn up calories.  I wouldn't ever want to use it as a technique, as it's obviously not good for other reasons, but there it is.

One thing I have to say is I was particularly annoyed with myself last week eating some of the stuff I did, but I have been trying to use it to some extent to eat up some of the more random contents of my cupboards, fridge and freezer.  I've managed  to get through a lot of the stuff that's been kinda been "hanging about" since I started my diet.

About the only thing I've got left is a bunch of pasta meals and some rice.  I'm fairly relaxed about keeping the rice, as plain rice is too boring and long-winded a food to cook for it to be "naughty eating" thing.  Also, having it there means that if I sneakily buy certain meals I can cook the plain rice which is generally lower calories than the types of rice you buy, if you see what I mean.

I also felt rather daft with the extra eating too, as it was clearly... how to put it?  Pointless eating driven by a desire to eat, rather than a need.

That's quite a complicated description, but what I mean is, one of the reasons people like me tend to gain weight is because we eat when we aren't hungry.  A classic example of this is snacking - eating chocolate bars when you're not really hungry.

Well, in the evening what I've unfortunately been doing is eating stuff more because I'm in the habit of eating, rather than because I'm actually hungry.  More often than not when it gets to evening I'm only really peckish, but because I'll have bought some extra stuff I'll eat that stuff, which is just un-necessary.

It actually represents a significant difference to how I was dieting when I first started this and I think is a reflection of the thing I was doing of buying strawberries (and other less good stuff) instead of sticking to my diet.  It's that 'habit' I really need to break.

Monday, 26 September 2011

singapore GP

Sebastian Vettel very nearly took the championship this weekend.

Well, let's be frank - he has the championship, but there's a mathematical chance that Button could win it.  However, it's so slim a chance that it's negligible - Button would have to win every single race from here on out (a couple of the circuits - Japan definitely - suit the Red Bull car down to the ground) and Vettel would have to score no points at all.

Or, to put it even more bluntly, if Seb scores one more point in the entire rest of the season, then he takes the championship.  So it's his.

The Grand Prix itself was okay.  It was still horribly long and there wasn't a huge amount of overtaking.  Most of that overtaking came from DRS, KERS and the tyres.  Let's be frank - it's a terribly boring race that the excellent new rules helped to make okay.

Lewis was a bit in the wars again.  Massa must think Lewis has a personal grudge against him, as he keeps ending up the victim.  But then he must wonder at his luck full stop as everyone keeps crashing into him - Webber at Monza, for example.

I think the punishment for Lewis was very harsh, but you can understand it, as he did virtually ruined Massa's race.

I've gotta say I do think the Stewards are very inconsistent.  Schumacher got the lightest slap on the wrist at Monza and Lewis has ended up with a penalty simply because it's very difficult to see exactly where the tip of your front wing is.

Anyway, I also got my haircut as planned.

I don't actually enjoy getting my haircut.  I do get it cut at the same place, so I'm a bit more used to the girls they have and the environs now, but it's still something I just don't feel comfortable with.

My guess is that this is in no small part because my mum used to cut my hair.  I don't mean in a random way - she used to be a hairdresser (I believe she used to have her own hairdressers before the bank stopped the funding/overdraft or something like that).  As such, I've essentially grown up without the need to get used to a non-family member fiddling about with your hair and a sharp pair of scissors.

One thing that does puzzle me is, despite having the exact same cut type (number 2/3 on the back and sides, season and weather depending, and scissor trim on the top) it looks different depending on who's done it.  A key difference is how high up they take the trimming bit - some do only a sort of lower chunk that doesn't go above my temples, but others take it right up the full side of my head.

Weirdly I ran into the girl who used to do my favourite version when I was out on one of my longer walks.  I thought she'd been sacked or moved on, but she said she'd had an operation and that's why she'd not been in.