Friday, 11 January 2013

the rubbish continues

So as promised, here's the concluding stuff of the holiday.

As noted, Christmas day was good but then everything around it was rubbish.  When I eventually got home on Boxing Day I basically just watched TV for a bit and then went to bed.  I slept for about 14 hours if my maths is right and of course then I went to work for the next couple of days - still suffering with the cold and worried about my dad.

I had actually been planning to use these days to do some stuff that I've had to back-burner, but when I got in there was a big pile of stuff dumped on my desk I had to sort.  I wasn't best pleased, especially as stuff clearly could have been done with it on the Monday and there wasn't a lot I could practically do with it that others couldn't have done, particularly as my holiday was after New Years, which is when all the critical stuff on these things would actually need to happen.

I therefore wasted a good day and a half with what was essentially hand-turning that others should have already done or could really wait until after New Years when everyone was back.

However, I did manage to get some stuff done that I actually wanted to do, but I can't really say I enjoyed the days at work.  The problem really was there were other people there.  I've actually found that although rubbish on many levels I kinda enjoy coming in at the weekend - I can work whatever schedule I want and I can concentrate 100% as nobody else is there.

The real problem, though, was my landlord.  He wanted to sort out some mould that had developed in the corner of the kitchen and this was fine.  He said it might look a bit patchy, but I said that was not something I was worried about.

Now ideally (and this, I think, was the real source of my annoyance) he would have properly redecorated the kitchen.  I even made it very clear to him a long way ahead when I was away last Summer for him to use that time to do it.  However, like an idiot, he booked a foreign holiday at exactly the same time as when I was away, so he couldn't do it.

But, having mentioned I was working, he decided to take advantage - rather than just sort the mould he started redecorating as well.  Now as I say, no problem with him redecorating, but a) he was taking the piss by just launching into it and b) I was on leave (meaning at home) after New Years and he said there was no way he could complete it before then, so I had the prospect of a half decorated kitchen to cope with while I was on leave - yeah, great, thanks for that.

What also annoyed me is I basically didn't move any of the kitchen stuff out of the way when he started (as I say, he was just meant to sort a corner of the room) and so he'd just shoved it all randomly out of the way in a big pile.  I can't stand people touching my stuff or being in my rooms at the best of times, and this just wound me up.

Now I actually mentioned this to him when I got back from work on the second day and I also then properly moved my stuff out of the way for the last day I was at work before my leave.  I think because I'd implied it was a bit off for him to just launch into it without properly arranging it with me he actually worked hard on that last day and did two coats, so it was done.  I was relieved and it looks quite good, but it was still pretty disruptive.

Anyway, then there was New Years eve itself.

I'm not really a fan of New Years.  It's completely arbitrary, obviously, but also the problem is that everyone is out and about.  If you want to go for a few drinks you won't be able to get any because everywhere is so busy.  And otherwise it's normally just a really cold day where everywhere is too busy.

This year was no exception.  The plans I'd made didn't really happen and I ended up driving home stone cold sober at about 4:30 in the morning.

The holiday afterwards was okay - I got some stuff done I'd been meaning to do and relaxed a bit.  On the up side I watched loads of the stuff I'd recorded and not watched over the last year.  My PVR went from about 80% full to about 80% free.  I could probably have cleared it, but I find fatigue tends to set in when I watch too much TV in a row.

I'll leave it there I think - as I say, not the greatest time overall.  Certainly I've had better year ends.

Thursday, 10 January 2013

despicable me

I actually watched this some time ago, but found it a bit difficult to write a review for.

I did enjoy the film, and that's really the problem.  I've said many times before it's harder to write the reviews where basically you liked the film and want to recommend it.

The thing here, I guess, is I was a little trepidations about the film.  I'd heard what it was basically about and it appealed as a concept, the thing I was worried about, though, is that it would fall over when it came to the nice ending aspect.

I don't know why you wouldn't know, but the film is essentially about a super villain and how he tries to use three young girls in one of his schemes.  I guess I should warn for spoilers, but of course the point of the film is he comes to genuinely care for the girls, and that was what I was worried about.  Or rather, I was worried it wouldn't quite work - a film like this can easily fail at the whole aspect of him coming round to love them.  It's something that has to be properly earned, and that can be a tricky thing to pull off properly.

And that's why I liked the film - it does a really good job at earning that ending.  It also doesn't totally cave in - he's still basically a super-villain at the end, although perhaps one who is reforming.

IF I was to make one criticism of the film it would be the minions.  With characters like that there's a really fine line with making them cute and loveable and clearly just an attempt to sell toys.  In this case I have to say for me they were on the wrong side of that line.

I think part of my problem was that there was also another character, Dr Nefario, who was meant to be an evil scientist character.  The problem I had was that overlapped quite a lot with Gru and the minions, but the minions could only talk in gibberish.  I can understand the problem he was there to solve (the minions only talk gibberish and Gru is otherwise on his own, so who does he talk to and how, therefore, do we advance things like plot?) but the problem is it introduces some redundancy.

So if Gru had been an evil-genius scientist as well (somebody needs to build the death rays, et all, right?) then the Dr would be redundant.  If the minions are weird geniuses types who madly invent things (they did still seem to sort of do this) then the Dr is redundant.  But in both those cases, who does Gru talk to that the audience can also understand?

As such you're left with the minions being like gofers, which was okay, but I dunno, to me it made them fairly pointless, and because they're cute they then start to feel like a way to sell toys.

I know - I'm really overanalysing this, but then, as I said at the top, I liked the film and don't really have much else to say!

Wednesday, 9 January 2013

worst. christmas. ever.

Back to work then, I guess.

As the title suggests it was a pretty rubbish Christmas period for me.

It started off poorly with a cold.  We had the company Christmas lunch quite late this year and unfortunately one of the work colleagues I sat next too brought a cold in.  It actually took me a couple of days for it to really kick in, so I guess there's the chance I got it from someone else, but if so, I don't know who that would be as I don't remember encountering anyone else with a cold then.

So the cold really kicked in on Friday, just in time for that first long weekend leading up into Christmas.  By Christmas day I was actually over the worst of it, but the weekend and the Monday I'd taken off weren't really all that fun, to be honest.

Although, as I say, I was over the worst of it fairly quickly, the tail end lasted ages and it was New Years day before I really felt it had started to clear up and the following week before it was properly gone, so that's three weeks total.

Christmas Day I went to my sisters.  This involved driving down on the day, which was rubbish for a couple of reasons.  Firstly it meant I had to get up early and couldn't really pootle - the journey was over 2 hours and I had to aim to get there a good while before lunch to be sure.  As you may remember the weather was pretty awful, with yet more flooding in the West Country and of course that's where I was heading.

I saw two accidents on the way down - it was pretty horrible weather for the first two thirds, but then weirdly (and I mean weirdly - it was like driving into another country) it suddenly brightened up and was actually fairly nice for the rest of the day.  As well as being poor weather it was also really busy - I mean, not rush hour stuff, but you wouldn't know it was Christmas Day.

The drive down was therefore quite tiring and I was already fairly knackered from the cold so I wasn't really very lively on the day itself.  My sister did a good job with the actual day itself - no complaints there - but next time we need to drive down the day before, though driving back on Boxing Day wasn't too bad, though I had to stop drinking quite early to make sure I'd be okay.

I saw about 5 accidents on the way back.  I'm assuming most were, if not caused by the weather, then it was a contributing factor.  This time of year some idiots drink and drive of course, so that may have been part of some of them.

The B&B was a bit naff - it clearly hadn't been decorated in decades (that or they're stuck in a 70s time warp) and the shower didn't work; she said they were getting the bathroom redone in a week.  It was well equipped, though - you could certainly use it as a base of operations if you were holidaying there, but it felt OTT for us just staying the night.

I was sharing with my Dad - something I'd rather have avoided and tried to do so, but as I think I've discussed the organisations side of it (or rather, the communication about the organisation) has not been great.  And it proved particularly problematic on this occasion, as my Dad was taken ill.

I won't go into too much detail, but essentially he was having some trouble and it meant he was constantly going to the toilet, which obviously didn't help with me getting to sleep (something I really struggle with anyway in unfamiliar surroundings).  At about 4AM I/we basically reached the conclusion he would need to go to hospital.  We're not talking life threatening, but medical assistance was needed as there was nothing we could do about the problem or the level of discomfort he was in without it.

Anyway, obviously neither of us know the local area, such as where hospitals are, so we tried NHS Direct.  They gave us the nearest one, but of course our cars were back at my sister, a good 20 minute walk away.  We therefore got dressed and headed off.

It became apparent during the journey that Dad would not be able to sit in my car (he couldn't sit at all, tbh) and also I pointed out Fay was still drinking quite late so she couldn't drive.  She could possibly direct me, but otherwise we would need to try to map read, which would likely make the journey longer than necessary.

Of course for my sister to direct we would need to wake her up, and with Dad not being able to sit we eventually decided to call an ambulance - I wanted to try directory enquiries and get the A&E but instead we used 999.

The ambulance actually arrived quite quickly and my sister went with him to hospital (I had a quiet word with her and explained I'd not slept at all and could barely see straight, let alone go to the hospital).  I therefore walked back to the B&B and tried to get some sleep.  Of course by then I was basically awake and only really had a small nap, which got me through the rest of the day as it was, but I felt awful.

Just to finish off - my Dad was essentially fine.  It wasn't really a life-threatening condition as such, it was just something he couldn't put up with and we had no way of sorting.