Friday, 14 September 2012

a new vision

I think I forgot yesterday to explain why a shaving brush may help with my shaving.

Basically, the idea of shaving foam is that it does two things - it lubricates the blade as it passes across the skin, but the second is more relevant in that it essentially holds the hairs up off the skin surface.

Beard hair has a tendency to lay flat to the surface of the skin and this is one of the things that makes it difficult to shave.  For me this seems particularly acute - my beard hair lies very flat and I also have some weird changes in direction of hair, particularly on my neck where the bottom part grows up and the rest grows down (well, sideways, actually).

This is also particularly ironic for me as my head hair tends to stick straight up for a good half an inch before the weight eventually pulls it down, and even then it's super fluffy.  This was okay when I was younger, but recently I've started to thin and it looks odd because you can see my scalp, even though the hair is long.  This actually prompted me to trim it off.

Anyway, the idea is that by using a brush you really get in and around the hairs, helping to hold them up.  When applying the foam with your fingers, the big flat surface of your fingers has a tendency to flatten the hairs.

That's the theory, anyway - we shall see if it helps.

I recently got myself BT Vision.

They've had a special offer on where it's only £4 a month and the box is free.  Now obviously I already have Freeview - and, indeed, the PVR I've got is a Humax one, which is generally regarded to be the best make.  My dad has BT vision and a Humax digibox and says the Humax is way better and he's obviously been able to compare things long-term.

However, my PVR is not High definition and this Freeview is (well, I think it is - I haven't actually plugged it in yet, but more on that in a mo).  It's also got this new on-demand service.  This is the one that was announced a little while ago - I can't for the life of me remember the name they gave it, but it involves several of the big players.

As I mentioned I've not actually started the box up yet.  My first problem is that I obviously need a clear period where I'm not watching or recording stuff and so that's put out most of the evening.  But also I have a box of AV cables which I will need to play with various configurations and that's in the garage so I'll need to get it out.  I'll also need to find my longer network cable as the one they supplied is about 20cm too short.

I'm therefore going to play with it this weekend.  The thing I'm not sure about is to do with pass-through of signal.  A while back I was having real problems with my PVR in that the signal was breaking up.  However, by chance I discovered that by switching it around with my VCR (so it really was a while ago!) the signal improved massively.

So I'm not sure if I should split the signal and send it through both boxes independently (the BT vision has a HDMI connector - hence my assumption it's HD) or if it'll be okay passing the signal through.

I'll also probably take the opportunity to have a bit of clean around - a lot of dust tends to accumulate around the TV area.

Thursday, 13 September 2012

unusual purchasing

There hasn't been any news on the missing slice of my pay packet.

I think my boss is going to try to just sort it out for this month and not give me the missing amount for last month.  Yet another disappointment.

Either way, with my wage increase I've been looking at loosening the old economic belt a bit and considering a few unusual purchases.  Well, unusual for me - most are pretty normal for normal people who don't spend all their money on DVDs and books.

By that I mean clothes in that I have been looking at the various options for refreshing my work wardrobe in particular, but also a few other clothing and related things I need - a new dressing gown, in particular, for example.

Anyway, the one I specifically wanted to mention was that I'm looking at buying a shaving brush.

When I first started work I only shaved every other day.  I don't mean I could get away with only shaving every other day as my beard is thick, dark, and grows quickly, but that I used to just go to work with stubble.

However, as I got older and as I've thinned down a bit, it's began to look like I was growing a full beard every other day.  As such, I started shaving every day (well, work day).  This meant I had to slightly adapt my shaving style as I used to close shave, but if I close shave every day I'm much more likely to get razor burn and stuff.

However, I've been somewhat disappointed with the results and one of the things I've been looking at as a possible solution is getting a proper shaving brush.

The best brushes are apparently made from badger hair and are surprisingly expensive.  I mean, some obviously cost a fortune because of branding or whatever, but even cheap ones are several pounds.  When you consider how "old technology" they are that's pretty expensive.

Another thing I've been looking at is mu whole teeth cleaning regime.  Primarily I've been looking at getting a good electric toothbrush.  I used to have a cheap one and it was okay, but it was battery powered (as in normal A4s) and after only a week or two you would be able to feel that the power was going down, even though I used the batteries with the power testers on them and they would say the battery was still 90% okay.

As such I've been looking at getting a proper rechargeable one, but there are so many different types it's quite confusing.  Particularly since it seems like a relatively simple thing - the head oscillates, cleans teeth, done.

Lastly that I'll mention is a nose hair trimmer.

I bought a cheap one a while back when the nose hair issue was at a point where plucking them was more agony than I could take and it did okay for a while, but again, it's battery powered and quickly deteriorates in effectiveness.

I also got free one when I bought my hair trimmer, but it has a weirdly long guard on the blades and so leaves the hairs really long.  Okay, they're not really long, but they're long enough that it defeats the point of using the trimmer.

The problem here is almost the opposite of the toothbrushes - there seem to be very few models and most are quite poorly reviewed and rated.  As such it's difficult finding one that's not too expensive but also does the job.

Wednesday, 12 September 2012

transformers: revenge of the fallen

Oh dear.

I said when I reviewed it that I didn't hate the first Transformers film.  It was by the much-hated Michael Bay and it seemed to draw a fair amount of flack, but I personally thought it was okay as a popcorn action movie.

Don't get me wrong - there were a few things that didn't quite work for me and they fiddled with stuff in a way that also didn't quite work (Bumblebee isn't a VW bug?), but it was an enjoyable enough action movie with big giant transforming robots.  There was also some internal logic to the thing, particularly as it went for a fairly simple story.

The second film is an abomination, particularly in this case because the plot is horrible and almost nothing makes any sense.

I guess I should warn for spoilers as I thought I'd lay out some of the more annoying ones.

A particularly galling thing was when the decepticons revive megatron.  At the end of the first film they dumped him and some of the other decepticons at the bottom of the Marianas Trench (I think - certainly into the sea).  Quite why they did this instead of smashing them to atoms I'm not sure, but in this film to revive them all they do is send down some repairing robots who stitch them back together and all's fine.

Clearly being killed, broken up, and dumped at the bottom of the ocean, subjecting their metal bodies to salt water, incredible cold and staggering pressure is absolutely no problem for your average decepticon...  So why didn't Prime tell them to do something more effective!

Of course later on in the film, when Prime dies, they have to go through some rigmarole involving an ancient artefact and a sock (don't ask) to revive him.  Yeah, because consistency is for pussies!

Then there's the bit where the decepticons go after Buster with a human-impersonating Decepticon.  A human impersonating decepticon who is incredibly realistic.  Because of course if you were able to impersonate humans you wouldn't do something like impersonate all the world leaders and take over the place.  No, you'd impersonate a hot chick in order to try to get at some knowledge Buster has.

Then there's the whole thing about Megatron working for some uber-evil dude who lives on the moon.  Yeah, the uber-evil dude who there's no mention of in the first film at all.

The uber-evil dude who all the other primes in ancient times (eh?) had to sacrifice themselves to create what is basically a key for his uber-evil device that he was going to use to kill life in the galaxy instead of kicking his ass.  Y'know, the uber-evil device hidden inside the pyramids that we've never spotted before.

What the fuck is this bull-shit?

Tuesday, 11 September 2012


I was rather disappointed with my weigh in this last Sunday.

I thought I'd done quite well during the week with only a few relatively small slips.  However, I'd only lost a pound, which was quite disappointing.  Particularly since my weight has been see-sawing around without any real gain or loss for a good few months now.

Having said that, when I think back at the week I can see that the small slips I'd felt I'd made were actually probably much bigger than I'd really thought.  I ate a few too many sweet things and it all adds up.  Also I'd really struggled with the walking.

Well, I'd actually really struggled with sleeping, having had a night where I'd basically been unable to get to sleep at all and with this then being followed up by a night where I'd woken up incredibly early.  Usually when I have a bad night the next night I sleep like I'm in coma, but this time I woke up at 4:30AM, a good two hours before I usually get up.

And this waking up early pattern suddenly seems to have become something of a norm - with the exception of Sunday I've been wide awake at least an hour before my alarm was due.  I've actually started to suspect that something is going on, like someone is getting up early for wake and making a noise that wakes me up, but I've no real evidence for that and besides, I usually sleep with earplugs in.

Anyway, the point is that the lack of sleep left me very tired and therefore in no real mood to do much walking during the week.  Now usually there's a compensation when I'm suffering from insomnia in that I burn a lot of calories when I'm awake lots of hours like that, but in this case I'm not sure it's quite worked like that.

It was all rather disappointing, as I say.

In fact, I got rather depressed about it all on Sunday and ended up buying some actual proper chocolate bars when my walk took me past Sainsbury's and scarfing them.  I felt bad... but also good.

What's been particularly frustrating over the last few months is that I've not been losing weight.  I still do lots of walking and it's not like I'm eating loads of bad stuff like I used to, but I don't seem to lose weight.

I mean, don't get me wrong - I know bad bits I'm eating and the walking are cancelling each other out, but the depressing part of it is that it's not loads of naughty eating, it's just a bit.  It's like I can't even have a bit of fun.

Monday, 10 September 2012

the crucible of speed

Monza is the fastest circuit in the current F1 calendar.

That also makes it the shortest race and usually doesn't last much more than an hour.  I also have it logged in my memory as not normally being a particularly good race - with so few corners and most of the corners there are being chicanes, overtaking opportunities should be relatively low in number.

It's not like there's a big technical section where a driver can make a mistake and allow his rival to catch.  And knowing where to defend is hardly a stretch of the imagination - the handful of corners.  And yet in recent years it's produced some really good opportunities.  And it's generally true that overtaking tends to happen when you have a fast straight and then a tight bend and Monza has a few of those.

This last weekend it was a good race.  There was plenty of overtaking, a few incidents and even a few strategic elements that came into play.  The last of these was particularly surprising as, being such a simple circuit, you would think strategy was minimal.

However, it was strategy that basically let Perez get to second place.  The problem was that the degradation of performance of the tyres meant that towards the end the front runners - who were by then all on very old harder tyres - were easy meat for Perez who'd used the harder tyres on his first stint and stayed out for a long time on them.  That meant he had fresher softer tyres, which are quicker, and he didn't have to worry too much about making them last.

But the front runners were faced with a dilemma - if they came in for new tyres they'd have ended up behind they're closes rivals on circuit who didn't with no guarantees of being able to overtake them.  The gamble worked out for Hamilton who was just far enough in front to stay that way for the end of the race, but Alonso and Massa both ended up being overtaken.

I have to say this race was probably the first really big victim of the BBCs new program pattern.  They only showed highlights and, as mentioned, the race itself is only just over an hour long, so what they showed was only about 45 minutes (I think _ I didn't time it).

They did broadcast both race and practice on Radio 5 live, so I listened to those, but they didn't broadcast any of the practice sessions at all.  None of them were on TV, obviously, but they also didn't put them on 5live or Sports Extra.  I'm pretty sure they weren't on the internet either in anything but "text update" format.

Now if it had been a total duffer that would have been okay, but clearly it was actually quite entertaining.  And that's one of the big problems with this only showing highlights for some races - there's no real way of predicting which are going to be the good races.

Take Valencia - it's always been as dull as dishwater and the BBC said they'd show the full thing.  But then they lucked out and this year it was really good for once!